Saturday, April 18, 2015

400 feet below

    So there are things that I couldn't do while Dad was living. While still bummed about the reason why I can do them now, I guess I can morally do a little dance that I nevertheless can do them now. One of those is take the bus tour to the bottom of the quarry in my neighborhood, which happens once a year on a Saturday (which conflicted with taking Dad to and from dialysis), including today.
    It's a hoot! Even though I know what a quarry is and have seen aerial photos, my brain still resolutely determined that I was going down a mine and wondered how a bus would do that. A quarry, quite open-faced, is much more bus-friendly, but still more than a little tricky. It's a dang impressive, even awe-inspiring place, apparently one foot shy of being 400 feet deep at the moment. The huge equipment was impressive as well, but more so was how tiny it looked. My pictures were OK, but not nearly as good as I would have liked. There's one last bus going at 2:30; I have half a mind to go back with the real camera. Heck, it's just $5 and I waited four years to go. Ehhhhhhh maybe. (The clothes-in-the-dryer-might-get-stinky factor enters in as well. Hmmmm.) Anyway, if you get a chance to tour a quarry, go! Next year I'll probably walk it!

Friday, April 17, 2015

New Bangkok

    I have no idea why this amuses me. Maybe it's more a neat bit of problem solving that appeals to me in a way that feels like humor; I don't know.
    Ages ago Walmart came here, of course. They set up in their own giant strip malls. Generally speaking, they have abandoned those strip malls (largely killing them) and moving down the road or across it to new bigger super duper digs. Out Garners Ferry Road, the Walmart moved across the road, but the old mall didn't quite die. It's not thriving exactly, but it's still there. One tenant was the Bangkok Restaurant, and it hung on doggedly. I had some bad experiences there because the lady running the front was kind of a nut, but only stopped going there because I stopped living anywhere nearby.
    After about ten years, Bangkok Restaurant finally moved across the street to the new walmart's new strip mall. And that should have been all, really. But lately, I noticed that the old Bangkok Restaurant now has an added sign, making it the New Bangkok Restaurant. Internet searching says that the cook from the old restaurant has come back to open this one, and reviews are generally enthusiastic. So we're going to go check it out. Alas, they don't help with my main problem with this town's Thai places, that they close on Sundays, since this one does, too. But if they can manage a decent green curry, I can probably forgive it.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Somewhat less blue

    In case I haven't mentioned it, I'm not the world's biggest fan of grey, rainy weather. We've had a lot this week. And it's still only Thursday! Moreover, while I get through TurboTax without actually breaking anything, it was a very annoying, frustrating experience filled with cusswords and I really needed to decompress.
    Put these things together, and the only reasonable move was to head to Congaree National Park. There, rain doesn't bother you (or me anyway) as the canopy keeps nearly all of it off you and grey weather is acceptable because it can make for better photography. And the clean air helps.
    I felt a lot lot lot better while I was there and went off to Papa Jazz to purchase marked-down jazz records, which also helps morale. However, being back here is a major drag. I don't think I've suddenly gotten unhappy with my lodgings in the last day after six years. So I suspect it may be the air quality, or just the dankness. I'll be vacuuming a little later which will help with the former. The chilly weather should be gone tomorrow or the next day which should help with the latter. As I keep saying, if you live in South Carolina, it feels foolish to complain about cold, cool or any kind of temperate weather at all considering how hot it's about to be. So I'll try to dig feeling cool later in the year than usual. Still, it looks like my decision early in life to rule out Seattle as a possible place to move to was probably one of my rare smart ones.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

But how will I tell if it's raining?

    For the last year or so, there's been a vine dangling down outside my kitchen window. You mainly think of vines as growing upwards, but nobody told this one. It was really great, because when it would rain but not hard enough to make a noise or splash on the windows, I would see water drops on this vine and know whether or not it was raining.
    This morning, I noticed that the vine was much lower compared to the window. Now it may be gone altogether, although it appears more like it's caught up on a higher vine, which it would be well entitled to do; we had a heck of a storm earlier! And the reason I'm related this particular piece of ephemera is because much as I kid myself about it, I do feel a little blue about not having my rain gauge anymore. Mind you, if I were really worried about it, I would open the window and untangle the dang thing. It's just funny the little things you get used to, and then have to get used to living without.
    It is, however, easier to live without because of the way it would whip against the window in really heavy storms, as I would generally jump with every thump. This is probably the prime reason I'm not jumping up to open that window to get my vine back.
    Meanwhile, tax day went OK. I filed extensions and paid what TurboTax wanted me to pay. I would have been willing to go ahead and file SC taxes, but they wanted me to attach Dad's entire federal return and copies of all 1099s, which would have been pretty tricky since I hadn't filed the former yet. So now I have a lovely 20 page printout of his SC tax return which will no doubt be helpful to the accountant. Always a silver lining!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


    So I finished Dad's 2014 taxes, and early. owie ouch ouch! I won't be specific about numbers, but he came out with much greater income than previous years and owing a large, large amount of taxes. I was very highly peeved that TurboTax required me to buy their elite program for an extra $30 because Dad had ONE 1099-B form (brokerage activity). I kind of felt I should have gotten a trial version for just one.
    I was alarmed by the big numbers and contacted the accountants. They advised me to file for an extension but pay the money; that way I won't have to file an amended return nor risk penalties. We'll have an appointment some time after the 15th and go over everything. Works for me.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Apartment boom

    We are puzzled. Our little city suddenly has apartment buildings going up all over the damn place. All at the same time, after years of stasis. If this were Austin or Atlanta, say, this would make perfect sense. Charlotte or Charleston, sure. But Columbia is the Sunbelt city that never grew. We have no industry except for gubmint and every surrounding city has a better climate due to the meteorological phenomena known as mountains or ocean. We hit 100,000 people by the end of the '60s and topped out there. There's a largish college here, but as far as I know, there wasn't a post Gulf War baby boom, so it seems unlikely that there's a huge cohort of new students coming in.
    One imagines it's just another result of a complete lack of planning, or perhaps the various stimulus packages of five-odd years ago took this long to get here. Speaking as somebody who rents, a glut of apartments might not be at all a bad thing for me personally, but unless somebody has a brilliant plan that they're keeping highly secret to bring the Research Triangle south, I imagine we're going to wind up looking pretty silly. One good thing is that the new buildings are a lot closer than many of the places students have stayed in the past, which would bring gas usage down, I guess. And I'm not doing much traveling anymore; maybe there are apartment buildings springing up in every part of the country as credit eases. It just looks funny right here, right now.
    (And I'm totally not writing this to put off doing my taxes a little longer.)

Sunday, April 12, 2015


    Sister Anne reassures me that doing Dad's taxes with TurboTax will be easy and fast. Unfortunately she has done too good a job convincing me, so I'm putting off doing it for another day. What I really need is somebody to convince me that it's easy, fast and FUN so I'll want to do it immediately. That's the problem with being celiac; giving me a cookie doesn't work anymore. And nobody seems to want to give me a pony.
    I walked at the 12,000 Year Historical Park with my friend Michelle. She was wearing an Amos Lee t-shirt with a big owl picture in the middle. A family bicycled by from the other direction. The youngest son was bringing up the rear, and more or less shouted, "Hey! A owl shirt!" Made our day.