kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Oy, what fresh fuckery is this now?

So you recall back in December we took a family trip up to Virginia Beach to visit the in-laws as we often do. Looks like I never posted a photo recap of that trip, weird. Anyway, during the trip we went to Portsmouth a couple times, and each time we made a round trip through one of the Elizabeth River tunnels. The tunnels have tolls, but it looked like I could go on the website to pay the tolls so everything would be hunky-dory and I could avoid extra fees from the car rental folks.

Well, while we were there I tried to pay the tolls on the website. Multiple times. With two different credit cards. And each time I would put in all the info, click Submit.. and get an error. So, thinking these payments were all failing, I kept trying, and always got an error. I e-mailed their customer service, and the answer I got was that they had no record of the rental car's license plate having gone through the tunnel at all. Meanwhile, my wife checked the credit card websites and saw that despite the errors, 5 of the payments I'd attempted had indeed gone through, which was 1 more than we needed to pay for the two round trips. So I figured hey, we paid (and then some!) and they say they didn't even see that the car went through the tunnel, so we should be fine and I am done wasting time on this.

Fast-forward to yesterday, and what should we find in the mail? Yup, a bill from the car rental company for one round trip (two 75-cent tolls)--plus $15 per toll administrative fee, for a total of $31.50. So that's not even both round trips, hence I expect to receive another bill for the same amount. $63.00 for four 75-cent tolls THAT I ALREADY PAID? Yeah, I don't think so.

I gathered the details from the credit card websites and have sent them along with a recap of the ordeal to the toll customer service people, asking them to credit what I paid to the proper vehicle, and send me a receipt saying it's all clear so I can give that to the car rental company and ask them to respectfully kiss my lily-white ass. But if the toll people's prior incompetence is any indication, I am not particularly hopeful I'll get a good response. We shall see.

Ugh, this week is kinda crappy. Maybe more later.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Oh, I also filed our taxes last night. I've used one of the online services for the better part of the past decade, which makes it pretty easy. We owe again--as expected since we had no federal tax withheld all year--and it's a few hundred bucks more than we owed last year, but not too bad. It shouldn't put too much of a dent in my bonus when it comes, anyway.

I really need to turn on withholding again sometime this year, though. After we bought the house we were getting a pretty good refund every year, so I decided we should just eliminate the withholding from my paychecks so we'd have that money all year instead of getting it as a refund. So we did that successfully for a couple years, but for the past year or two I guess the raises I've gotten combined with the decreasing amount of mortgage interest we're paying have meant we owe come tax time. I meant to turn withholding back on at some point last year to make up for that, but never got around to it. This year I definitely should keep that in mind. But not until after bonus time!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
In other news, yesterday I got my annual review and raise info. Underwhelming. I figure my boss doesn't actually have much say over the raise amounts, but that doesn't keep it from being disappointing. Better than nothing? Sure. But after factoring in the increased taxes and healthcare costs, it's not much of a raise at all. Blah.

At least I have our annual bonus to look forward to next month--that's been pretty good the past couple years, so hopefully this year will be good too. That's always a nice chunk to pay stuff off and pad our savings a bit for future trips and whatnot.

Ugh, this illness is sticking with me. I generally feel okay, but it's been 2 weeks now of clearing my throat and coughing to no avail. It's sad that my triumphs presently are coughs that actually produce some gook. TMI, sorry. Last night I started feeling a bit off, too, like maybe I'm not completely over whatever has been causing this anyway. I'm tempted to knock off early today and go take a nap, but frankly the office is just as quiet and relaxing so maybe I'll just hang out here anyway.

Now lunchtime!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Still fighting the cold I had a few weeks ago, or maybe this is round 2 or a new contender, I dunno. It's just my throat, though--I can't seem to get it clear, so I keep harumphing and coughing and now I can consciously feel the back of my throat, feels a bit raw and annoying. Heather has been struggling with a runny nose this week too. Luckily the girls are okay, but a few of the cats have been particularly sneezy as well. Can people catch cat colds and vice-versa? Hopefully we're coming out if it, though, especially since the weather is warming up nicely.

A bit of good news/bad news today. Good news is I finally found out details on my annual bonus. As a manager I get one every year around this time, so I knew it was coming, but I never seem to find out exactly how much it will be until it's almost upon us. Last year's was a pleasant surprise since it turned out to be more than I expected, and this year was again a pleasant surprise, so that's all happy. The bad news is that it's pretty much all spoken for: we need to catch up on a credit card that's been carrying a balance, plus we need to pay our federal income tax for the year. That would have still left a few thousand bucks, but today we noticed that the digital piano we bought last week didn't have the no-interest finance deal we thought it did, so we need to go ahead and pay that off as well, which won't leave much to play with. Oh well, the piano was a good purchase so I'm not too upset about that, but it changes the timeline a bit. The wife was surprised to see that and feels like it might kibosh the lens purchase I have in mind, but I naturally do not see it that way. So we pay off the piano and get a no-interest finance deal on the lens instead, it all comes out in the wash, right? :)

Speaking of the piano, did I finish that story? I mentioned that the music store that was to deliver the piano arranged it for Saturday and then moved it up to Thursday, and they made good on that. It's a very nice instrument! Looks good, sounds good, plays well. Hermione tried it and quickly proclaimed that she was never going to play the other piano again. Ha! It does need work, that's part of the reason we got the digital, so I can tear into the grand and get it playing (and sounding) better.

What else is going on.. oh yeah, part of the bonus is also going towards paying for our new home security system, which got installed Monday. It's pretty cool, I must say. But I'm a little scared to arm the thing! I just hate the idea that the dog could trip the motion sensor and cause a false alarm. I did arm it last night, after disabling that zone. I guess I'll give it a few days and see how sensitive the motion sensor seems to be, and either disable the thing or go with it. It's supposed to reject animals under 85 lbs., which is pretty big! Yesterday I set up the cameras where I think they'll live, so it's fun to peek in on the kids (and cats) now and then.

Okay, lunchtime! Hope everyone is having a good day so far.

Nice!

Feb. 3rd, 2014 01:30 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)


Funny, just this morning I was thinking of checking in on various musical groups and artists I like to see if they're working on anything new. Nickel Creek probably would not have been on that list since I figured them to be over and done, so I was a bit surprised to come across this--a new song from a forthcoming new album! Not bad, nice to hear them together again. Oooohhh, and they'll be playing the Ryman around when I'll be at that conference in Nashville. It's the day after the conference wraps up, but maybe I can extend the visit by a day or two. Hmmmm..

I am still struggling with the cold I had last week! My nose is still a bit leaky (though not as bad as it was), and the goop is very stubbornly clinging to my throat. I closed my office door so as not to drive everyone crazy with the incessant coughing and throat-clearing attempts. Not that any of it is doing any good. Bah.

One bright spot, I went ahead and applied for the credit card I wanted to get for business travel--we usually fly Southwest, and they're doing the deal where you can get 50,000 reward points for getting the credit card. I would have done it before, but the card has a $99 annual fee and that's always been a dealbreaker. But I was approved to get the company to foot the bill, so I was just waiting until my next round of trips were coming up to pull the trigger. I used to have crappy credit, so every time I apply for credit I still have that sensation of doubt. But obviously my credit has gotten a lot better, because they approved me right away and the credit limit was much higher than I expected to boot (not that I ever expect to run it up that high). So there's that.

Now I think I'll run out and get a new 13mm wrench. Sounds exciting, right?
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Well, it finally happened--we owed income taxes this year! We got fairly big refunds for years, especially after buying our house and paying little but interest on the mortgage all year. But really, while the chuck of cash is nice to get, a large tax refund just means you've been paying too much all year and letting Uncle Sam hang on to it interest-free. So I actually reduced our withholding to zero a couple years back. Even so, we STILL got small refunds the past couple years thanks to deductions and credits. Yes, Mitt, I AM part of the 47%. Anyway, this past year we refinanced our mortgage, which meant reduced interest paid for the second half of the year (and one month where we didn't have to make a mortgage payment at all)--so when we did our taxes, we came out owing. Only $130, which is no big deal, but it made me wonder if I should start withholding some again, maybe just enough to cover the couple hundred bucks that we might owe come next tax season. But there's really no way to do that! I could submit a new W-4 claiming the maximum number of allowances, but even that would probably end up withholding at least $100 per paycheck. If there was a way to just have them take out $20 or so, I'd do that, but there doesn't seem to be. So anyway, I'm just going to stay at zero and we'll plan to owe a couple hundred next time around. No biggie. It just seems annoying that my only options are to withhold nothing or way too much!

Friday at last, and I can't say I'm being particularly productive today. But the weather has turned seasonably gorgeous, and the weekend looks splendid, so I'm sure we'll spent much of it outdoors. We've been travelling to various parks around central Florida ever weekend so far, and I'm sure we'll keep that up as long as the weather remains nice--come summer, we tend to not want to be outside any longer than necessary, unless there's swimming involved! So this weekend I think we'll check out a little nature center I happened to stumble across online--it's up in Eustis, which is on the other side of Mount Dora, a town we like to drop in on once in a while. So probably we'll do both! Sunday looks like a good day for yard work--the leaves have piled up and I'm a bit ashamed of the place (though the butterfly garden still looks awesome!).

I suppose I should get back to work now. Come on 4:30pm!

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