Archive for the ‘Deadlines’ Category

Service of Deadlines: Divorce American Style

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Photo: thepitcher.org

Most people must meet deadlines at work and/or at home. There are plenty associated with product introductions that, in turn, trigger marketing and media rollouts and, of course, news deadlines. Some whisk out restaurant and school meals at lunch in record time. Others note coupon redemption days; plan and attend weddings; catch trains or planes and return library books for starters.

Here’s a deadline from left field: For tax reasons you’d better hurry up and finalize your divorce according to Jim Tankersley in his New York Times article, “Wedded Bliss Lost Its Ring? Rich Should End It in ’18.” You have 5½ months before the Republican tax law kicks in.

Photo: illinoislegalaid.org

If you split after December 31, you will no longer be able to take the full amount of alimony off your Federal income taxes. This is a very big deal especially for the wealthy and think–the benefit could last for decades. In fact, from 2019 on, alimony-payers won’t be taking off a cent.

By removing the tax break Federal revenues should benefit by $7 billion over ten years.

IRS records show that 600,000 get that deduction each year, reported Tankersley. He wrote that “about 20 percent of taxpayers who currently claim the deductions are in the top 5 percent of household income earners.”

Photo: nstp.org

There are other repercussions in addition to the obvious one. The higher earning ex spouse, once the deductibility is gone, might agree to pay less alimony to compensate for the loss of the tax benefit. This will impact women and some children. “Child support payments are not deductible, but so-called unallocated support—payments that are meant to help a divorcing spouse and children at the same time—is deductible.”

Some experts predict that the new tax law might reduce the number of divorces that women initiate if it adversely impacts their alimony/income.

Photo: 80snostalgia.com

But take heart: Financial planners for the wealthiest “will have ways of working around the change.” Some spouses “may choose to forgo alimony payments and instead accept more lucrative real estate, larger shares in tax-deferred retirement accounts or some complex combination of the two that maximizes tax advantages.”

What about everyone else? Surprise surprise: “Middle-class and lower-income taxpayers have fewer of those assets—and less ability to recapture potentially lost benefits of the alimony deduction,” Tankersley wrote.

What deadlines do you find hardest to meet? Do you wait until the last minute? Have you benefited from the new tax law? Do you think that lawmakers take into consideration the repercussions that the changes they make have on citizens’ lives? The pundits couldn’t forecast whether there will be a flurry of divorces before year’s end. Do you think that there might be?

Photo: defymca.org

 

Service of Expiration Dates

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

expiration-date

I was alarmed to read in The Wall Street Journal that in order to curb food waste, the UK is discouraging grocery stores from using “sell by” and “display until” dates as they don’t feel they are related to food safety.

I don’t know if spoiled milk is unsafe, but I depend on those dates when I buy mine twice a week. Turned milk clots in coffee. I don’t like the sour taste or the look and milk seems to curdle right around the sell by date especially in summer.  Tossing a new carton or bottle of it is a waste–of nutrition as well as my time and money.

In the sidebar of Sarah Nassauer’s article, “Leftovers: Tasty or Trash?” she quotes Jonathan Bloom, an American who wrote a book on food waste: “‘Give it a smell, look at it, maybe even taste it,’ before tossing food.” He observes that “We have fairly well-developed instincts as a species for knowing if something is good or not.”

I once worked with a woman who thought she had such instincts. She’s the only person I know who ended up in the ER to have her stomach pumped because she took a small bite of noodle salad in dressing that had been in the fridge for a while. Her description of the stomach pump procedure was enough to make me err on the conservative side and never, ever taste food about which I have the slightest question.

wasted-foodThe statistics on food waste are eye-opening. Nassauer reports the average American home tosses $92 of fruits and vegetables a year. Is this because we hope to eat them and buy them as we do subscriptions to a health club or exercise equipment or because we are of a generous nature and want to be sure everyone has enough?

Drug expiration dates are related to food. The “Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide” information about the medicine cabinet life of drugs didn’t match the old wives tales I’ve swallowed for years [no doubt to encourage me to toss and buy more].

According to the guide: drug-expiration-dates“Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.

“So the expiration date doesn’t really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use. Medical authorities state expired drugs are safe to take, even those that expired years ago. A rare exception to this may be tetracycline, but the report on this is controversial among researchers. It’s true the effectiveness of a drug may decrease over time, but much of the original potency still remains even a decade after the expiration date. Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, most medications are as long-lasting as the ones tested by the military. Placing a medication in a cool place, such as a refrigerator, will help a drug remain potent for many years.”

Nevertheless, before popping an old pill in your mouth, I suggest everyone first check with a doctor or pharmacist. Just your luck you may be about to ingest the equivalent of tainted food.

Do you pay attention to expiration dates on anything? Do you wish there were some on products where they don’t currently exist?

pay-attention-2

Service of Pet Peeves II

Monday, July 18th, 2011

grrrrrr

I posted 11 pet peeves a year ago May and thought I’d exhausted my list but obviously, I left out a few. It feels so good to write about what annoys! So here are a dozen more.

 **I don’t like to be flimflammed and that’s how I feel when the stock market goes up on a day with dire financial and political news: Moody’s threatened to reduce this country’s credit rating which would cost us all a tremendous amount of money; there were terrorist killings in Mumbai; gridlock caused by childish political posturing continued unabated on Capitol Hill with debt ceiling deadlines looming; Spain, Greece, Ireland and Italy were patching up the tatters of their economic quilts with little result.

I am not satisfied with the reason given for this up tick: That nine of 11 corporations reported fabulous second quarter earnings that day [more about this below]. To ignore what’s going on outside is like envisioning a woman dressed for a ball, perfect hair and gown but the house has just been pushed to a precipice by a tornado. When she opens the door, instead of stepping out to the walk, she falls into an abyss. 

light-bulb1 **Repetition of misinformation to strike out at an adversary works because people would rather not be bothered by facts. President Obama did not sign the bill eliminating inefficient incandescent light bulbs in favor of  the energy efficient kind-President Bush did–and yet conservatives repeatedly use this as the glaring example of how government increasingly encroaches on our private lives. Maybe it does, but if you are going to blame President Obama, pick another example please.

Isn’t the more important story here–and another peeve–that this bill was the perfect excuse for corporations like General Electric to close US plants that made incandescent light bulbs therefore putting hundreds out of work last year when the timing couldn’t be worse? By moving manufacturing to China, they lowered the cost of making the bulbs. And they can charge more for the energy efficient kind. Along with loopholes that allow GE to dodge taxes, it explains why some of the corporations in the peeve above are doing so well, but at what cost to the economy and to us, to everyone but their stockholders and management? 

links **I am fussy about who I link to or befriend so it’s annoying when someone asks me to join their network on LinkedIn or Facebook and they don’t remind me how I know them. They lazily click the option that shoots out an email message like “Maisey Dokes has indicated you are a Friend: I’d like to add you to my professional network.” It would take a second to add something like “We’re both on the sponsorship committee,” or “I met you at the event at Hearst.” If I see someone on the street who has no reason to remember me, I say, “Hello, Frieda, Jeanne Byington. How are you?”  Or I might introduce myself to someone and say, “You work with my friend Nancie Steinberg. She tells me we have a lot in common.” Trying to link or befriend me is no different.

 **It drives me nuts when people don’t use their car’s right or left turn signal. There are certain congested places where it’s essential and it’s very selfish when a driver doesn’t or waits to the very last minute. I can’t enter traffic if I don’t know if their car is going straight ahead. If it’s turning into the store’s parking area that I’m exiting, I could drive out. Being self-centered not only holds me up but all the cars now lined up behind me.

curve-in-road**On the subject of cars, there are idiotic road signs that make me wonder if the person who installed them has a brain. We pass a little town on Route 82 in Dutchess County where we’re asked to drive at 45mph. The “resume speed” sign comes right before a hairpin turn where if you went 55mph, goodness knows where you’d land.

 **I resent it when someone infringes on my time by creating a false deadline so it affects how I triage my time to meet it. How do I know? They ask for information, a report, photos or copy by a certain date but when I submit what’s due, I get a bounce back email telling me that they are out of the office at a conference or on vacation and will get back with me next week.

dont-waste**Waste drives me nuts. I get the feeling that there are stacks of boondoggles we will never hear about. If we could eliminate them, we could leave critical programs intact.  According to ABC News: “A $1.2 million federal highway program that sent employees on a 17-day globe-trotting journey to photograph different billboards was suspended Tuesday — an announcement that came after ABC News alerted the U.S. Department of Transportation that it planned to air a report on the program.” In addition: “The initiative, known as the International Scan Program, has been sending federal and state transportation employees to popular foreign tourist destinations for the past decade with the goal of studying how other countries handle the challenges of running major highway networks.” Each trip cost $300,000.

 **If you work in a medical facility, please always be pleasant. It makes a difference. And pay attention to what you say especially if your job is repetitive. I picked up some x-rays from a radiology place where the desk staff is used to saying, “Sign this and sit down and wait for your name to be called.”

So when the administrator asked me to sign for the x-rays she said, “Sign this and sit down.” I replied, “But I planned to leave now,”  confirming that there wasn’t something else for me to do while there. Not realizing that she’d told me to sit down she got testy and nasty in her dismissal.

 **I agree with a friend who says that it should be a felony to use the word awesome.

muffin-top **Average looking or shapeless people shouldn’t wear super trendy clothes. I cringe looking at them as I do when hearing a terrible comedian or a speaker try an unfunny joke. Some women on magazine and newspaper style pages are over-gussied with legs akimbo on skyscraper shoes that make them take awkward poses so as not to crash–so unnecessary. And those low-scooped, too-tight t-shirts over rings of fat are puzzles. T-shirts and tops come in a range of sizes or don’t some people realize it?

**Tired of reading about the annoying Valley girl sing song? The deliberate high speed chatter/swallowed words affectation that some young people use, especially when copied by older people so as to appear to be young, registers high on my list of peeves.

 **I will boycott media that pays Casey Anthony one cent for an interview. I don’t think the press should pay for news to begin with.

Do let loose on your pet peeves! You’ll feel better getting them off your chest–promise!

I'm All Ears

I'm All Ears

Service of Deadlines

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

stopwatch

Joseph S. Nye Jr. was on Book TV on C-Span 2 the other weekend discussing “The Future of Power,” at a February 15 presentation taped at the Center for a New American Security. When I tuned in he was discussing the difference in cultures between academic and government work.

His example was a hypothetical research paper due at the White House at 3 pm. As the deadline approached, the writer, from academia, thought the project could be better, that currently it was a B + and with a bit more work could be an A. So he polished and tweaked it until it was perfect. It arrived at the White House at 5 pm.f-grade1

Government Grade: F. Why? It got there too late to be used.

We’ve discussed writing blog posts, press releases, proposals, late breaking news or anything deadline-related. There comes a moment you must give up the work because in most cases, nobody can pay for Pulitzer Prize-winning copy.

more-time1It’s not only in academia that you can plead for an extension, though in Nye’s example, the person didn’t ask for one. I’ve never worked in government. In business, you can usually ask for one, though it isn’t a smart idea especially if you’re responding to an emergency or a scandal or announcing a product launch you’ve known about for eons, press kit material for trade show introductions or the guts of a press kit to distribute at a press event.

I don’t believe in missing other people’s deadlines nor do I ask for extensions.  Why? The Golden Rule. It’s awful when you are left in the lurch by someone else who misses their deadline whether a vendor, free lancer, partner or staff. Contractors and repair people have a reputation of not showing up when expected and giving no warning. You may have the hard deadline of a January wedding reception at your house but be prepared to cut the cake in an unpainted dining room on an unfinished floor.

In Nye’s illustration had the writer contacted the White House to ask for more time, he/she might have heard: “Don’t worry that it’s not perfect. We need the information in it to help us make a decision.” It seems to me that the imaginary person was thinking more about him/herself than the recipient of the research.

Are deadlines a part of your life? What do you do if you see you can’t meet one?

 missed-deadline

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