Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 15, 2015 - Tax Day

Hello All,

Happy Income Tax Day!
Here in the U.S. today is "Income Tax Day", it is the day that everyone is required to file their U.S. Income Taxes.  One of the great things about being "retired"ll is that my tax forms are not as complicated or hard to complete as they used to be when I had my own business.  During one year of my business ownership, I really screwed up, and did very little bookkeeping or tax work until it was time to file the taxes.  At this time, I took basically a couple of cigar boxes full of various 1099's, deposits, expense checks, and put the whole mess in the lap of my "personal CPA".  And believe me it was a mess, it took us days to sort this mess out, and it cost me a fortune to 1. Pay the IRS  and 2: to Pay my Accountant.  As we were finishing up the return for that year my CPA politely reminded me that it would not have to be this bad or this expensive, if "I would bring my information into his office on a more regular basis."  I told him that "I would rather go to the dentist than come to his office".  He said "well Mike, you are right, it is like going to the dentist.....and if you don't wait so long to doesn't hurt near as bad."  Those words, along with the taxes, penalties and interest left an impression on me....and I have tried to do a better job every since of keeping my records and tax reporting up to date.

Now that I am retired, my taxes or not nearly as complicated as they once were.  Of course, being retired, I no longer bring in as much money as I used to....and worse yet I have friends that ask me to "help then with their taxes".  I used to generally "just say no" to doing taxes for folks, but then I saw some of the amounts of money my friends were having to pay to various "tax preparers".....on top of which I saw a lot of cases where there were errors made that cost my friends even more money. Finally, I started doing a few here and there....even though I have generally thought that "income tax preparation" is one of least enjoyable parts of the the accounting business you could get into.

Anyhow, today April 15th, I completed 5 last minute tax returns for friends and a non-profit organization that I support.  Sitting at a desk all day is hard for me, and I believe it is bad for your health as well....but when the work has to get done it has to get done.  I don't generally mind the work.......but today, one particular tax return that I completed really set me off!  

The Oil Field Worker Return:
I have a friend who works in the "oil patch" as we sometimes call it down here.  And if you have never seen it, it is rough and hard work, requiring specialized skills, performed outdoors in the elements, with large equipment, and plenty of backbreaking work to go around for everybody.  In fact, in the old days, people who worked out in the oil patch were often referred to as "rough necks", because by God this work is rough on anyone and these people do it blazing heat down here in Texas...and in Freezing cold up in Wyoming and Montana.  Often times they are away from their families for weeks and even months at a time. About the only good thing that can be said about this work is that it pays a good wage; higher than you can make in most of the places around here.  Sometimes they live in "travel trailers, sometimes they live in cheap motels, they eat what they can find in some of the most backwoods parts of the country you can possible imagine.  Perhaps, worse yet some of them are confined 24 hours a day to oil rigs out in the the Gulf of Mexico.  The work is dangerous, and if you are not careful, you can be hurt or killed fairly easily.  Fortunately, safety standards have improved somewhat, and there are not as many injuries or fatalities as there used to be years ago before OSHA started fining companies for flagrant safety violations.  (Occupational Safety and Health Agency).  So what is so special about this "tax return".....that gets me so revved up?

After working through all of the earning and deductions and completing all of the forms......and doing all of the best that I can do.....this hard working, God Fearing, Tax Payer wound up owing an additional $2000 in taxes and was in a Federal Tax Bracket of over 22%!  Why is this figure so disgusting to me???  Is it just because the "rough neck" was dinged for a couple of more thousand dollars on top of what they had already paid?  No, not really.  What is a damn shame though is that for working this hard, to provide for his/her family....they wind up paying 7 - 8% higher percentage income tax than Bill Gates or Warren Buffet!  On top of this, many of the big oil corporations that these oil patch workers support pay no US Taxes at all and have trillions of dollars in overseas accounts to avoid paying US taxes!  

People who sit in nice Corporate Offices, surrounded by all the comforts you can imagine, and the Corporations they work for pay nothing in U.S. Taxes and the big wheels that run these corporations pay a lower % of their income than the Oil Field Worker.  Most people, including even Warren Buffet, know that this is unfair...and is the result of our broken income tax system.

Not the IRS - they only enforce the rules made by the US legislators.

Not the President - he has nothing at all to do with the US Income Tax Code.

This system is the result of the spineless, elected politicians of the United States, both Democrat and Republican who get their marching orders from America's wealthiest 1% (Koch Brothers) and from Corporations.....who buy them off like the cheat tramps that they ALL are.
And what do we hear from radical Politicians like Ted Cruz?  Abolish the IRS.  Eliminate Food Stamps, Repeal the Affordable Care Act.
No discussion of taxing the wealthy, taxing corporations, bring US based jobs back home, eliminating loop holes for overseas investments.  Bring anyone of these subjects up and all you may hear is the sound of

crickets chirping in the dark.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How Much Would You Pay for A Pen???

Would you pay $1000 for a pen???  I have, and I just might do it again.  Back in the 1980's when I considered myself a "young up and comer".  It seemed there were a few things us "young up and comers needed".  These basics included a Rolex Watch (aka....the Texas Timex) Ronald Reagan Bumper Stickers, and a Monte Blanc Pen Set. As you might guess......I had it all....and more!  Further, disguised with my collection of tailored Hart, Shaffner & Marx Suits plus my power tie collection I could pass myself off as budding young executive in almost any Board Room. I even voted for Ronald Reagan (3 times)  But there were issues and problems in keeping this act up.....

I could normally keep my suits clean and pressed, and I was very careful with the Rolex.  Reagan / Bush stickers were free and plastered all over every car in the executive parking lot.  But the Monte Blanc pens, yeah the Monte Blanc pens... were a nightmare for me.   The Monte Blanc Meisterstuck of that era sold for about $200 bucks in the roaring '80's.  I know I lost at least a half dozen of these little gems.  I guess I must have lost some of them in meetings, some I probably loaned to someone who never returned it, and a few may
Pictured above Mont Blanc Meiserstuck
have been stolen.  The only one I ever knew for sure what happened to was when my Secretary Judy dropped one on the concrete floor and it splintered into 1000 pieces on the shop floor. She was starting to tear up when I bravely said, "Don't worry about it Judy, its just pen.  I can pick one up at the office supply store on the way home.  It was about out of ink anyway".  I swallowed hard and walked away quickly.

Yes, these German-made pens were an expensive accessory for me back in those days.....but today they are relatively cheap compared to some of the more expensive ink slingers you can buy.  Consider with me, if you will, the cost of all of 314 ink signatures of the Congressman and Senators who recently approved the TransCanadian Keystone Pipeline Bill.  

According to figures, I picked up from the U.S. News and World Report, a combined figure of over $150 million spent to lobby our  Senators and Congressman in support of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline.  If you count the favorable votes (mostly Republican) there were 314 Senators and Congressman who supported the bill.  So for each signature / vote.....the lobbyist ponied up almost a half million dollars per favorable vote.   (BTW, my old Texas Congressman, Ralph Hall, didn't even bother to vote....I guess he's been in office so long he didn't need the money) And the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline Bill passed both the House and the Senate.   Now you can buy a whole lot of "Mont Blanc Pens" for that kind of money.  And obviously, you can buy U.S. elected officials, if you have the money, in fact, like so many Monte Blanc pens you can buy all you want or need.

Sadly, the lobbyist have not bought the last pen they need to get the job done.  And I am not sure that pen is even for sale. looking at the pen...that is the envy of many corporations, lobbyist, and causing them great concern doesn't even look to me like a "real Mont Blanc"  To me they look more like the  "Pilot Precise Rolling
President Obama's Veto Pen Collection.  
Ball Pens" that you get at the office supply store.  Last I knew you could get a dozen of the nice ones for about $14.95.  But our President pulled out his "Big Chief Veto Pen"  and put a stop to this mighty effort build a Foreign Owned Pipeline across the entire United States.  

I know a pen this powerful will rapidly become a collector's item.....and I know I can't afford to own expensive pens like this anymore, as I am retired and on a fixed income.  But I want to be the first to offer President Barack Obama a bid of $1000 if he will personally and officially sell me the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline VETO Pen".  I know it's a low bid.....but I am truly willing to at least get the bidding started. Another bargaining point, Mr. President, it looks to me like you will need at least another dozen of these before the next two years are up (so you almost surely have more to sell). Finally, Sir, if you agree to sell me this pen....I promise I won't sell it or ever let any fumble fingered persons handle it.


Michael W. Roberts
303 Big League Bend
Naples / Omaha, Texas
(903) 806-6576   

Monday, September 23, 2013

Our Best Day Ever @ Mike's Last Resort

Today, Sunday, September 22nd I guess may very well be the best day we'll ever have at my little restaurant, Mike's Last Resort.  You can check your calendars - I don't think you'll find that September 22nd is any important holiday.  On a normal week Friday's are our biggest days.  During the entire year we have some big days closer to Christmas, then of course Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day are really busy days.  But today....was really way BIGGER.

It seemed that it would be the normal average Sunday for us at the restaurant - our cooks Melvin and D.T. had prepared our normal Sunday Buffet - which is a "old school" Northeast Texas Sunday Dinner.  We try and make it like my Grandma Roberts did - fried chicken, pork roast, chicken fried steak, turnip greens, purple hull peas, mashed potatoes, fried okra, and southern cream gravy are usually the headliners, today's extra special was Melvin's Meat Loaf which everyone loves.    We had our regular salad bar, but this week we had some extra Romaine Lettuce, so I had made a Caesar Salad - you don't see Caesar Salad around here to often.  Or course, we had sweet rolls and cornbread muffins.  For dessert, we served our standards bread pudding, peach cobbler, and our "soon to be famous" New Orleans Style Bread Pudding.  Basically, it is what I call the "Soul Food" of Northeast Texas, nothing too fancy just good old home cooking from "these parts".

Early on, around 11:00 in the morning, some of our regulars had gotten out of church early and came into enjoy the Sunday Buffet.  A little later on four very well dressed gentlemen came in after church Mt. Pleasant, Texas about 12 miles away.  One of these gentlemen, asked me if I grew up around here, and I proudly told him, "Pewitt High School Class of 1973".  That gentleman turned out to be Mr. Jim Welch, the father Cindy, one of my class mates from "way back in the day."  I remembered Mr. Welch as a being tall and big - I was surprised to see that he wasn't even as tall and certainly not as big as me.  His daughter, Cindy, was one of the prettiest girls in school, and married a really nice fellow named Landy Roberts.  I was always sorry I could never get my nerve up to even ask her to go the the movies with me, she was just too pretty (and I was sure she would have rejected a mutt like me) and still is a beautiful lady.  Cindy's daughter has a high-profile job in the fashion industry in Dallas with the prestigous company Niemann Marcus - and she is, of course, just a pretty as her mother.   Mr. Welch's blue eyes sparkled as he spoke about Cindy and his lovely granddaughter in Dallas.  I know he is very proud of both of them.

Another old class mate, Professor Gordon Betts came in with his son Joel.    Joel,  had just won a Blue Ribbon this weekend at the East Texas Fair for his beautiful BeefMaster heifer.   Joel is a really neat kid, friendly, and not too shy bet is he's going to be a chip off the old block and earn a degree from Texas A&M like his dad..  Gordon, got his PHD from Texas A&M and now teaches at Tyler Junior College.  Gordon, has been working on "the old family farm" which is nearby and just dug a great big pond with a dozer.  I know a great many college professors but, Gordon is the only one that I know that can also operate a dozer!  Things were getting busy and I didn't get to visit with Gordon and Joel as much as I wanted to, but they are great guys - and Gordon says he will have a party soon down at the farm and that he will make sure I am invited. 

The next thing I know, in to the restaurant comes Ms. Faye Vickers escorted by her niece, Anita Steadman.  As it turns out, Ms. Faye, was out to celebrate her ninetieth birthday - at my restaurant.  What a hoot!  Ms. Faye gets around fairly nimbly with the assistance of her cane.  They had just come from Church.  Ms. Faye is one of the nicest ladies around and has a "coffee" every Wednesday at her house for all of the neighbors at Glass Club Lake.  She is always quite elegant, and barely eats enough to feed a bird.  As if this weren't enough, into the restaurant walks my Mom, Carmen Roberts (Mom lives at the Glass Club Lake and is neighbors with Ms. Faye and Ms. Anita.  I didn't see her come in, but I found her sitting there next to Ms. Anita and Ms. Faye - in a booth all together.  I always greet Mom the same way, "Hi Mom, You OLD BAT!"  I could never really tell my Mom how much I love her.  So anyhow, they enjoyed the buffet together, the three of them, Mom, Ms. Anita, and Ms. Faye.  Since it was slow, I started gathering up the stuff to make them a special dessert in honor of Ms. Faye's 90th Birthday.

I have a special little cart and gas stove at the restaurant that I use to do "flambe cooking " table side.  I probably would have made Ms. Faye "banana's foster" but we were out of banana's.  So, I substituted apples for the bananas, and put a little cinnamon on top of those.  When I served the flaming dessert (with Bacardi 151 rum) - you'd have thought Ms. Vickers was the Queen of England enjoying lunch with her three closest friends.  When I came back to see how they were doing Ms. Faye exclaimed "delicious!...fabulous!".   I am pretty sure she had never experienced a dessert cooked with flame at tableside - it was great to have the chance to make her day a little more special.  Next thing I know, out comes all of the kitchen staff and waitresses to sing happy birthday to Ms. Vickers! 

Things seemed to start slowing down, as they should, it was getting close to closing time which 2:00 in the afternoon on Sundays.  The kitchen had already shut down, we had begun cleaning up, most of the dishes were done.  And I guess it would have been a good day had it ended here....but

I had walked up to the front of the restaurant, getting ready to "lock-up" when I saw a lady coming up the sidewalk and heading toward the door.  As I opened the door for her, she asked "Are Y'all Still Open?".  I said "sure we'll be open for another 15 - 20 minues come on in".  She looked a bit distraught with my answer, and said "I have family coming and they won't be here for a little while."  I am with the Jacobs family, and their granddaughter was killed in that automobile accident late Thursday night".   To me, there was only one answer I could even imagine offering this lady.. without thinking I said, "Please come in - we are open as long as you and your family want to stay."

You see, when tragedy strikes a tiny community like ours - we all hear it - we all feel it -  and we all hurt together.

I had heard about it the accident Friday morning, the accident had happened late Thursday night.  Four teenagers, hurrying home in pick-up truck slammed into a tree on a narrow country road.   Two dead at the seen, two others rushed to regional hospitals.  Earlier in the day, I had seen pictures of the demolished truck the teens were riding in.  Still worse, I spoke with relatives of the two survivors who had been up all night Thursday and all day Friday trying to take care of their loved ones.  Worse yet, friends of mine who drive wreckers and are first responders had told me what they saw.  Like I said before, when we are hurt, we all hurt together, we all pray together, and we all cry together. 

Before long, about a dozen of the family arrived.  We made them a special table in our banquet room.  We turned everything back on, we kept the cooks, waitresses, and dishwashers there....and it was our honor to SERVE THIS FAMILY.   I know that the finest food in the world could not possibly heal this family's loss - but it is all that we can do - no one complained about having to work late to help this family. 

I met the Grandfather of the young girl, Chelsea, who had been killed in the accident.  I cannot even fully imagine his sorrow.  He looked to be around my age and told me his name was "Freddy Jacobs".  I asked "did you grow up around here?"  He said "no, I grew up in Irving, Texas."  Still he looked familiar to me.   

A short while later - I overheard one of the ladies talking about her Grandpa, Mr. Early Jacobs.  And I knew right then who they were.  Mr. Early Jacobs lived one door over from my Grandpa and Grandma Roberts in the government housing in Naples, Texas.  Mr. Early had a business mowing lawns, selling fish and vegetables.  This "government housing" was commonly called "The Circle" because it was a cul de sac with a circular drive in the center.  I stayed there as kid with my Grandparents - W.L. and Effie Roberts.  And Freddy Jacobs was Mr. Early Jacobs' Grandson.  I had known him since I was 12 years old. 
When I first had met Freddy Jacobs - we had played "sandlot baseball" together in the summers with all the neighborhood kids.....the Clark Boys....Billy, Bobby, Steve, Mike and David (who lived next door to Mr. Early).  The Luttrell Boys - Terry, Lanny and Toughy.  Glenn and James Barnes.  Bubba Perkins and Charlie Smith.  We played football together and we dug a "man cave" together in the side of a hill.  We were all there in this small, poor, but very happy little community. 

As I recall, Freddy had indeed grown up in Irving.  I believe his parents may have been separated...he spent almost every summer with his Grandparents and all the rest of us at "The Circle".  Those were great times.  I can't remember anything that we ever worried about.  Furthermore, Freddy and I were somewhat "raised" by our Grandparents.  We were taught the old be fair and honest....I know now we were damn lucky to have that kind of upbringing.  Many youngsters today, would benefit from learning first-hand the "old school work ethic and honor" of keeping you word and being a good person. 

I had a good visit with Freddy and his family, we talked about the old times at the "Circle" - we remembered people that we grew up with and generally had a "reunion".  The family stayed with us at the restaurant for a couple of hours. 

When everyone had finished eating and visiting - we packed up all of the buffet for them to take home with them.  They took home meat loaf, fried chicken and some of just about everything.  I got hugs from just about all of them before they left.  I felt truly sad for the loss they were suffering - I guess it was like a "shared sadness".   I know for sure that we helped make an absolutely terrible day just a little bit better for this family.

Nancy and I have only been in the restaurant business for a little over a year, and we may never make a nickle in the restaurant business....but I will guarantee you our little restaurant had at least one really good day and that was Sunday, September 22nd. 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Do you hear the Ringing??? Some of you do and hopefully most of you don't!

You don't hear it do you? - even though it goes on 24 hours a day - 7 days a week in my head - even though there is no sound.  You see, I have a disease called Tinnitus and it is aggravating and very difficult to describe.  As a child I believed that the sound I was hearing was normal, (I figured everyone must have the same thing; and all it was was the sound of the electricity flowing through your brain.  Since, not everyone has it, I guess it means I have some faulty wires - maybe some insulation falling off or something just not working right.

Tinnitus comes from the Latin word tinnÄ«tus which means ringing.  How clever.  It is further defined as the perception of sound within the human ear (ringing) when no actual sound is present.  For some reason, this tinnitus is not considered a disease, but a condition that can result from numerous causes, including neurological damage, ear infections, was build up, foreign objects in the ear, and exposure to loud noises.  Here's a picture of what one artist suggested it sounds like... 

Up until recently there have been no know cures for tinnitus.  If it was making you sleepless, they could give you sleeping pills, if it made you nervous they could prescribe a pill for that.  Also I can say for sure the method I am demonstrating here....had no effect whatsoever. 

I think I can track my tinnitus sound back to about 1959 or 1960, when I was 5 or 6 years old.  My Dad was anxious to make a true Texan out of me and bought me a "Little Scout" 22 rim fire rifle as a birthday present.  Make no mistake....this was real gun....with real was just cut down to a size that a little kid like me could handle it reasonably well.  Dad versed me in all the normal safety point of using any firearm.  - Never point the gun at anyone.  The gun is always loaded.  Keep the gun pointed toward the ground when it is loaded.  Here is the safety.  Keep the safety on until you are ready to shoot.  Dad, having been a U.S Marine, and every Marine a all of his experience growing up in Northeast Texas - he knew all the safety stuff......almost. 

A couple of things were missing - first and foremost - some form of ear protection - but I don't think Marines of Dad's era believed in that "sissy stuff".  (after this is gets a bit technical - you can skip that by going to:  After the Blast In MY FACE!

A second thing that we should have been on the look-out for was the "rolling block" on that Steven's Little Scout 22.  The Steven's Little Scout was primarily met for firing 22 "shorts"...rather than the newer 22 long rifle shells.  The rolling block, served both as a "safety", preventing accidently firing - and when rolled fully into place - it served as part of the firing chamber.  See below...

Now if you look closely, the hammer sits right behnd the "rolling block".  The rolling block sits right behind the barrel where the live cartridge is placed.  On occaision, especially with a well used gun - the rolling block does not roll up to the top of the barrell and fully cover the cartridge.  When this happens and the gun is fired - hot gun powder will rip through the base of the cartridge and fly into the shooters face.  Along with it comes a really sharp blast of sound.   Well that's what hit me.  Burning Gun Powder and Seering sound right in the face and ears. 
So after firing this the age of far as I know my ears have rang every sense.  It sounds really weird when you are underwater diving or snorkeling.  But it is still going on now today almost 54 years since the "early shooting lesson". 
Recently, treatment has been developed for this "condition" - it relies on a technique develped by Dr. Bose of "The Bose Speaker Company" which determines the frequency (wave length) of the sound you are hearing and immediately provides a sound of the opposite wavelenth - when the wave's collide they cancel one another out.  
I am going on Monday - to have tests and possible treatment.  I can't really imagine what my life might be like if my ears didn't ring all day and all night.  We'll see.  Wish me luck - I'd love to hear the Sounds of Silence.
All the best...


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Barack and Teddy; Men in the Arena

Each day I read more and more criticism of President Barack Obama. One day its the health care bill, the next day its the budget, then unemployment, and on and on it goes. What most of these critics never mention is that President Obama entered office with 2 unfunded wars, an economic crisis (meltdown), and terribly high unemployment. He's now been in office for almost 20 months...and believe it or not....the wars have been scaled back and troop withdrawal begun, the economy is stabilized, and unemployment is the right direction - unlike it was in the last administration. Yes, the deficit is up - what do you expect with the high unemployment and unfunded wars? Really...what did you expect???

Here's what Teddy Roosevelt had to say about cynics who have nothing but criticism for even the most valiant of efforts.

It is not critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of good deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust an sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without and error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt April 23, 1910

So while a confederacy of dunces continue to rise up against the leadership of President Obama, a few experts, folks knowledgable in finance and economics realize that without the stimulus - we would be in a global recession right now.

My view of our President is that we have a brilliant, hard-working individual who has saved this country from complete economic disaster. God Bless President Obama

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Priorities of my Congressman

My Congressman is James Sensenbrenner (Republican Wisconsin). Turns out Jim was born into a very wealthy family (Kimberly-Clark), grew up in an affluent neighborhood of Milwaukee (Shorewood), and graduated from an elite "private day care school". He later went on to Stanford University where he received a BA in Political Science. Kind of reminds me of my background growing up.......NOT!!! I doubt James and I have anything in common, other than we both live in Wisconsin, and unfortunately he is my representative in the U.S. House. Make me proud Jimbo!!!

Today I received Sensenbrenner's "Weekly Newsletter" dated April 28, 2011, his subject: The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In a time that our nation is engaged in 3 wars, tornadoes have just killed 283 in the south, there is a nuclear meltdown in Japan, a major Tsunami recovery effort going on....Jim decides it's a great time to demonstrate his bigotry, by once again bashing the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transexual community. Don't you think he could have picked a more meaningful or timely topic like say uh......"Obama's Birth Certificate" or "The Royal Wedding" or even "How bout that Donald Trump's Hair?".

Now let me see if I can bring myself to discuss DOMA. First off I have substantial experience in DOMA!!! I have been married to somebody, or somebody else for virtually all of my adult life. In defending my first marriage, I found myself trying to defend against adultery, drug addictions, money problems, alcoholism, and bad jokes. Yep, you guessed right, I was responsible for the bad jokes, the rest of them were her issues. Not once in that 22 year struggle did any gay men attempt to lead me astray. Nor did any Lesbians appear and ask us about three-some. As far as the Bisexuals go, I have always admired them since it seemed to me they had twice as good of chance of getting a date as I did. Finally, on the transexual front, my buddy Pete and I ran into a pair of them in New Orleans. We'd been drinking hurricanes and as I recall they had long legs and very short skirts. When one of them said "hello boys", with a voice deeper than Bill Golden's....we sobered up quick and headed back home.... swerving down the sidewalk as fast as we could ....and on the double too. That's about as close as any GLBT person ever threaten me or my marriage.....however...the bad jokes....that's the straw that broke the Camel's Back.

Now we come to my second marriage. For 15 years, I have been married to the lovely Nancy Jeane Roberts a Chicago gal with a weird since of humor who doesn't mind that I am a slob and can tell some really bad jokes. Today, I find myself defending this marriage against old age, health problems, and the irresponsible behavior of our two wild miniature schnauzers. Maybe I am missing something, but somehow, the GLBT community seems to be ignoring me. Maybe it is just because I have a skinny little booty or maybe it is because I tell bad jokes. In any case, I still feel pretty safe, from attack by folks who have a different sexual preference than me.

Now let's get back to my Congressman James Sensenbrenner. Here's my suggestion to help Old Jim out.... Jimbo why don't you correct the name of your weekly publication - that is to say; give it a more appropriate name something like The Crown Prince of Kotex's WEAKLY Newletter??? I hope this helps.

All the best!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Let Go and Torch Your Inbox!!!

Caution: if you have less than a 1000 emails in your inbox, this is probably of little interest. However: With over 5500 emails in my inbox this week, some 1900 of them unread, coupled with the fact I can't find a thing for all the clutter. I went on the attack. Honestly, if all of those had been pieces of paper, I'd have dumped them in a ditch somewhere, used a little gasoline, and flicked a match into the whole big messy pile. Here's a picture that gives a pretty good understanding of my situation, looked like before I began to try and figure out how to deal with it. Hopefully, none of you ever get into this situation. But if you do, I learned some things that may be helpful if you decide to "torch your inbox". My first concern was the unread emails. Were any of them important, why were they unread, and how can I sort them out....without deleting something that's going to cost me. Here's how I approached the 1900 unread emails. Go to your inbox and come to your first week old unread email, why is it unread?

  • Is it an advertisement? I had 100's of emails from American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Grocery Stores, etc. Why, because I like to get cheap airline tickets and buy stuff o n sale. So all you have to do, is type in and hit search. What comes up is a list of all of these adevertisements I never had the time or interest to read. Worse yet, I found one from, from when I bought Mom a Christmas present two years ago. I have been receiving these every couple of weeks now for years. I deleted most of these suckers first since the sales from last August are more than likely to be over and honestly, I don't buy a whole lot of women's pjs.

  • Is it an "Autoreply"? These are things that say "Autoreply. Jim is out of the office and won't return until the 4th of July." These are aggravating, because it means your message isn't going to be seen until some future date and secondly you get the "stupid autoreply". A search of "autoreply" enabled me to kill several hundred unreads in one shot.

  • Is it a Newspaper update ?- I subscribe to several different newspapers online. Honestly, I don't have time to read all of them most of the time. But I always tell myself, I'll read that when I get around to it. Problem is, I never get a "round toit". So long, Dallas Morning News! These things come daily and somertimes more often, they add up fast.

  • Is it some Political Stuff ?- I figured out, if the email said "from the Whitehouse" or "from Senator So and So", that it probably was not an invitation to dinner, but more than likely a request for cash.

  • Does it say "Accepted / Rejected"? - if you are in business or use your email and calendar to schedule meetings and events, you get an email everytime someone accepts or rejects your invitation. One thing for sure, you don't need to keep these if the meeting has been over for a week or more. Give em the eighty-six.

  • Unopened Email from your Boss or Coworkers - Yikes! How can this happen? Well, about half the time or better, I have already found whatever the email says before I get the email. This being the case, why bother to open it? If it is something you already know. Is it because I am clairvoyant, Hell No! It's because they call me first and tell it to me and then the dummies feel the moral obligation to remind me in an email. Kill 'em.

Using these techniques, I whittled down the "unread to just 12 unread emails". These were important, so I saved them in a folder called "important". Now what about the other 3600 emails in my inbox that had been read, but never deleted? Here's how I approached this monster batch of emails;

  • Is it from a friend? A lot of my friends send me jokes, which is great, but I always kind of felt obligated to keep them since they came from my friends. Further, my friends and family share important stuff either in person or on the phone. I deleted all of these. So now, you can email me an old joke and I'll probably laugh again. But this time I'm deleting it after I read it.

  • Is it from a business associate? OK, now some of these can be important. What to do? Tag all of the ones that are older than 90 days, and store them under a file name or label on your email. "Archiving" works also.
Using these and several other "home-made" efforts, I was able to go from 5500 emails in my inbox to only about 150. However, as in many things "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". What you read above took me about 8 hours; and it was the pound of cure...that I had to do. Here are some ideas for preventing the problem in the first place:

  • Unsubscribe - to emails and newsletters that are no longer of interest to you.

  • Practice the 4 D method - when you check your email: 1. "Delete" any obvious junk. 2. "Do" any tasks that will take less that 5 minutes. 3. "Delegate" the task if you can. 4. "Defer" more lengthy tasks, until after you have cleared your inbox. Obviously, I didn't think this one up; it is very unlike my usual habit of using #4 exclusively.

  • Create a "read later" folder, for things you may be interested in but don't have time to read now.

I hope this was helpful and I hope I haven't bored you to tears with this effort. However, I am kind of amazed that I got through the mess.

All the best,