Archive for the “Life in General” Category

So apparently I was just woken up by an earthquake. I don’t recall feeling anything really, just hearing the sound of stuff like my ceiling fan rattling. Scared the crap out of me.

WEST SALEM, Ill. (AP) — A 5.4 earthquake in Illinois has rocked people awake as far away as Indiana, surprising residents unaccustomed to such a large temblor in the Midwest.

The quake just before 4:37 a.m. was centered 6 miles from West Salem, Ill., and 66 miles from Evansville, Ind.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Earthquake Graph

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Several weeks ago I found a copy of Entertainment Weekly in my mailbox. Naturally, my first thought was that it belonged to one of my neighbors and the mail-person had accidently put it in my box. When my eye scanned down to the address label to see who the correct recipient is, I was surprised to see my name and address.

“Why am I getting a copy of Entertainment Weekly?”

And then I noticed that the address label indicated that the subscription end date was one year in the future.

“How did I get a year-long subscription to Entertainment Weekly?”

Not that I’m complaining—Entertainment Weekly has some decent stuff in it. I’m just curious if I have an anonymous benefactor out there.

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I like to think that I’m a safe driver. My record has been clean—no accidents my fault in the 10+ years that I’ve been driving. However, on Sunday, November 25th, I skidded on a wet on-ramp into—and partially over—a curb. Don’t worry, I’m fine (there was nothing but grass on the other side of the curb). In my defense, something was definitely wrong with that spot of pavement. Mine were not the only tire tracks in the mud, and while I was visually inspecting my car on the scene, an SUV came hurtling over curb and bounding through the grass up alongside me (thankfully not at me).

Apart from some damage to the one wheel, my car looked fine. However, as soon as I started driving it, I knew something was wrong. At the very least it needed a new alignment. I took it in for service the following Wednesday and hoped an alignment and maybe a wheel was all that would be required to get me back on the road. Instead, my suspension was mucked up to the tune of a couple thousand dollars (parts & labor). That afternoon I made my first collision claim with my insurance company.

So now I’m waiting (and waiting) while the insurance company processes the claim and figures out if it’s worth it to fix my 10 year old Neon. It seems so stupid that such a little thing could total my car. On top of that, the really annoying aspect is that I just sunk a good chunk of change earlier this year into fixing the A/C system and into preventative maintenance so the car would last me a few more years.

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I guess I forgot to post updates on two things: I got my car back and my camera back. Both seem to be working fine so far. The funny thing is that I happened to get them back on the same exact day!

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So way back in 2004 (2 years ago!) I changed my state of residence, which meant that my state income tax returns for that year were a little more complicated than usual. According to my original calculations I owed $329 to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A few months later I received notice that my income had been high enough to require that I submit quarterly estimated income tax payments, and that since I hadn’t, I owed an additional $8.62 in penalties. (Yes, they tried to shake me down for less than $10!)

Well, that just pissed me off, so I dug through the income tax booklet and discovered a great fact. All income from a job in a state other than Pennsylvania is no longer taxable in PA after you change your state of residence. I had originally counted my income from both my pre-graduation church internship and my post-graduation, full-time job at the Library as taxable in PA. However, getting a full-time job in Missouri, living in Missouri, and getting a Missouri driver’s license pretty well establishes my Missouri residency, so I shouldn’t have reported that huge chunk of income from my Library job as taxable in PA. Not only did I not owe PA the $8.62, but they owed me $256!

I filed an amended return to correct my over-reporting of taxable income, but it was rejected for some odd reason. (“No, I’m not trying to claim tax forgiveness.”) This led to repeated phone calls with the Department of Revenue’s customer service department. Each time it took some explaining to get the customer service rep to understand what was going on, and each time I was eventually assured that I was correct and that I ought to be getting a refund shortly. However, each time my file was sent back to the tax examiner I got another rejection. (“No, I’m not trying to claim a credit for taxes paid to another state.”) Well, at long last, after my last call—during which the customer service rep talked to her supervisor who assured me that they would submit an extensive written explanation to the tax examiner—I got my refund! Rock on!

Now, time to amend my county tax return.

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