Saturday, February 21, 2015

the New Yorker turns ninety

Living in Denver in the 80's, I was a little homesick for the East coast, so I decided to subscribe to the New Yorker. I guess I have been getting the New Yorker for over thirty years. It was always fun winding my way through it's pages of overlong articles, sometimes continuing from week to week. The old New Yorker had no photographs but always had the cartoons. Back then, the cost of a subscription was quite low, presumably since its reader demographics were so good.

Traditionally,  the typical New Yorker reader was a middle aged man, someone who wore a tweed jacket, perhaps an academic who lived on the upper west side of Manhattan in a cluttered rent controlled apartment. His couch was old and he had crumbs on his ancient breakfast table. He smoked a pipe. 

Back in the twenties the magazine serviced a more fashionable set, a reader who would frequent speakeasies with the occasional light lunch at the Algonquin. The literary celebrities of the day would write for the New Yorker and be seen at the hottest art openings and Broadway shows. 

Tina Brown updated the magazine. She brought in more news and, heaven forbid, introduced the magazine to the world of photography. Today the magazine is much more expensive. Who are the readers today? Perhaps they are wanna be academics who couldn't get jobs in a university or afford an apartment in New York. There they sit in the suburbs paying child support and working for a social service agency in Scranton. Still they have their New Yorker.

Editor's note: In my sixties blog, there is a new piece on the Von Steuben House.
whoo boy, the New Yorker just sent me a tote bag. I guess they liked the blog.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ho hum February

In December everyone gets excited about the weather and the hope that there might be a traditional white Christmas.  Then January comes and the temperature gets below ten degrees and everyone panics.  Then it snows and everyone gets excited and talks endlessly about the six inches of snow we had to deal with.

Now it's February and the novelty has worn off. I've stopped watching the weather reports on TV. If it's cold it's cold. If it snows it snows. Ho hum. Let's talk about Bruce Jenner instead. When we look back on the year 2015 in our dotage, we will remember this as the year that the Kardashians got even more bizarre. Bruce Jenner will become the first woman to have won gold medals for men's track and field. Much more exciting than the weather.

Tax season

It's tax season again. I didn't do too bad this year. All that extra pension money and health care money I had to kick in this year seems to have rewarded me with a better tax bill. This year Amazon took out sales tax so I didn't have to pay that on my state form. Even Turbo Tax upgraded me to Premium (they no longer accept 1099 - B forms on Deluxe) and it doesn't look like they charged me for the honor. I should be getting a nice refund which I can use to fix my dripping shower.

Like driving, doing taxes is one of those things most of us learn from the old man. My first year to pay taxes he gave me the forms and we went through them line by line. He said always do them in pencil first. Then a few days later transfer them to pen. When you are finished always put it away for a week then come back to it. Like wine, tax forms apparently have to age a little. When the time comes, go over the forms again and send them in March.

My father, an accountant, used to get tax receipts from his brother. He didn't like doing his brother's forms. He always suspected he was cheating but my uncle was probably just disorganized.

They always say "do as I say not as I do". My father always had to drive down to the post office at 10 PM on the night of the fifteenth of April and have the guy postmark his letter so he wouldn't be late. The next day he could celebrate the end of tax season and his birthday.

As a librarian I also have many memories of tax time. The IRS is no longer giving public libraries instruction books. You would think they could find another way to save money.

Editor's note: A cute blog on the demise of Radio Shack is in my Sixties blog. If I took advertising this would be my first sponsor.