Sunday, September 21, 2014

Live From Climate March Opening

So here I am live blogging form somewhere in Lenape territory, although most of you would think of it as the southern part of Central Park.  I'm here for the People's Climate March which will kick off full scale in about an hour.  I travelled down to New York with Jonathan Schwartz of Interlock Media and his photorgrapher intern Caitlin McManus.  We dropped my car at a friends of Jonathan's house in Larchmont and took the train into Grand Central.  Travelling with Jonathan usually involves drama and contingency, but I will spare you that. We met up with my son William at a roof party for Brown alumni that Jonathan got us into.

William noted that the party seemed to consist of old white people.  So I should get a lot of credit for getting him and Caitlin there

I was amazed to learn that Narrangasset Beer has become trendy in New York.  The next new thing for hipsters after Pabst Blue Ribbon

We ate at DelMonico's more or less on  whim.  William really like the steak that is coming out of his inheritance.  At the roof party Jonathan introduced me to someone from the Union of Concerned Scientists who will be putting me in touch with someone on carbon tax.

 William gave Pratt hospitality to me an Caitlin but whimped out on getting up early for the kick-off to the march which started at around 7:00 AM.

That's what this post is mainly about.  The kickoff was a ceremony by indigenous people.  There were about 100 people in a circle observing and it seems like about 20 participants.  It had this much in common with religious ceremonies from my youth.  There was incense.  People speaking in languages most of the crowd did not understand.  And some genuflecting. Actually people kneeled a couple of times but I decided to genuflect since I would otherwise have trouble getting back up again.

In the intro to the ceremony is where I learned we were in Lenape country.  The native peoples always ask permission and consult with the original people before performing ceremonies.

The ceremonies were different from those of my youth in that there were a lot of women participating.  There were guys blowing conch shells to get our attention.  Quite a few people had us turn around to face the cardinal directions.  Despite the illusion that the Manhattan grid gives you uptown is not actually exactly north.

Here are some pictures of the beginning.  No photographs were allowed during the ceremony

The indigenous people will be leading the march, so I need to go find a group further back to start with.  The ceremonies had a couple of moving points as we asked for the earth to forgive us and give us another chance.  I'm sure you will be able to find a better account somewhere else and I need to get going,

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Wandering Tax Pro's 9/11 Tribute

Originally published on on September 10, 2011.

USA - NY - NYNJ Port Authority Police (9-11 me...September 11, 2011

If there was an award for the most colorful tax blogger, I have little doubt that the trophy would go to Robert Flach - The Wandering Tax Pro.  He has a tax preparation practice in Jersey City.  He took it over from a fellow who groomed him for it, but he has never taken on a protege himself.  He does returns by hand, scorning the expensive and unreliable software the rest of us use.  For a couple of months in the winter and early spring he works 168 hours a week (slight exaggeration there for rhetorical effect).  Joe Kristan, a CPA like myself (A class of people sometimes on The Pro's dislike list), characterizes the Flach version of tax season as a "death march".

I grew up in Fairview NJ.  Every time I visit the area, where I still have relatives, I am aggravated by the incomplete skyline across the Hudson.  The Pro has his office in Jersey City and I bet he hurls the occasional imprecation about it when he is not busy railing about the idiots in Congress who make a mucking fess out of the tax law,  reality TV and the GD extensions that prevent him from spending all his time outside of tax season blogging and going to musicals.  His particular 9/11 memorial is touching, at least to someone who has been inside the sausage factory of manual return preparation.

Bob had a client that always came in on the last day, April 15th to April 18th (depending on weekends and holdays).  His arrival signalled the end of tax season.  One year he came in on April 10 and was told to leave and come back on the appropriate last day.  It is not unusual for many of us to have absurd tax season rituals.  That one is a little over the top, but we are talking about The Wandering Tax Pro here.  Here is the last thing that Bob's client ever did:

A Port Authority officer for 16 years, Maurice "Moe" Barry, 48, was assigned to the PATH commuter train system. The resident of Rutherford, NJ, upon hearing the reports of the terrorist attacks, was one of the first on scene when he rushed from Jersey City to Lower Manhattan and then into the North Tower to help in the rescue efforts. As thousands fled the searing flames and smoke of the Towers, Officer Barry was attempting to reach trapped and frightened workers on the upper floors. The last time he was seen, he was on his way to the higher floors to get people out.
Just like the firefighters in the song:

Since then, in honor of Officer Barry, The Pro ends tax season a day early.

Why Did I Write About This ?

Even though we are exempt from having a connection to tax today, I'm still a tax blogger.  I wanted to get another guest post from The Pro himself on this, but his computer has diarrhea.  The Geek squad told him he should buy a new one, but he is putting that off.  I was almost silly enough to ask him how he is getting his GD extensions done without a computer until I remembered that, in his world, computers are for blogging, not preparing returns.

Why Can't Every Day be September 12th ? Go to Your Blood Donor Center Soon

Originally published on on September 10,2011.
September 11, 2011

For this one day, I don't have to justify going off-topic.  On September 11, 2001, I was in our Boston office, then on Beacon Street literally paces from Tremont Street and the Freedom Trail.  I remember going for a walk.  I doubt there is a better city to wander and reflect on the history of the United States .  Since I was virtually certain that the attack was the work of white supremacists who would have been better able to infiltrate the airline travel security apparatus and were inspired by the Turner Diaries, I went and meditated in front of the Shaw Monument.  I thought the same thing about Oklahoma City before anybody knew who had done it.  So it goes, a stopped clock is right twice a day.

It's more the time after that I remember, but there is one incident that particularly sticks in my mind.  Having no special qualifications that would call me to go down to New York to help, I pretty much went about my normal business.  That includes going to the Red Cross blood donor center on Plantation Street in Worcester, Mass every 56 days or so.  (I used to have a great routine. My son and I would go to Anthony's barber shop on Grove Street to get our haircuts.  Then we would go to Taco Bell on Lincoln Street.  Every other haircut we would stop at the blood donor center.  Sadly, my son gave  up haircuts which threw me off schedule).  At any rate, I was confronted by long lines, for the first time ever.  I dislike long lines and crowds and I suspected that whatever other fall-out there was from the attack, a massive reduction in the blood supply was not likely.  If I remember correctly and I don't care to go fact checking my memory, the subsequent month was one of the few times that there was excess blood available.  So I just went home and resolved to come back in a week or two, which I did.

The impulse to go give blood in response to a tragedy like the 9/11 attacks is a positive one, but the demand is always there.  It is actually an altogether pleasant experience with just a couple of little ouches.  At least in Worcester they have made the medical history/behavior quiz something you do privately on a touch screen.  So you no longer face the prospect of having an attractive young woman ask you if anybody has paid you to have sex with them recently.  It depended on my mood whether that was embarrassing or amusing.  After they have taken the pint from you, they have you hang around for fifteen minutes.  They give you cookies and juice and usually some other sort of bounty.  Minor league hockey tickets were big for a while.

If you haven't given blood in the last 56 days just go to one of the centers near you and do it.  Don't wait for them to have a drive at work or church or the senior center.  And certainly don't wait for another terrorist attack.