Down with Taxes

 Posted by at 14:10  Down with
Mar 312015
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It’s that time of year.

It ought to get easier eash yera.  It never does.

It ought to get easier eash yera. It never does.

Every year I vow to get the agony over early. There is nothing pleasant about preparing taxes. Even getting money back only means you let the government take even more than they say is proper. It’s still way too much. This year I thought I was ahead of schedule but when I began to dig out all my paperwork, I discovered that I last year’s filing was already off my desk by this time last year. I certainly don’t get any pleasure from seeing that file on the corner of my desk as I focus on more pleasant tasks. I don’t know why I can’t just suck it up and get it done early. Maybe I just enjoy the agony. Continue reading »

Feb 232015
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Originally posted 2012-11-05 13:27:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Hablo un poco de Espanol.

This old coot is counting down the days.  It’s not the days until November 6 and the Presidential Election.  It’s not the days until Veteran’s Day.  And it’s not the days until Thanksgiving.  I’m counting down to December 4 when my wife and I travel across the Mason Dixon line to Houston, Texas and then on across the equator to Sunny Argentina.  Vamos al Buenos Aires!

The Argentine Flag

I can’t say for sure that the heading above translates as Hello! Cantankerous Old Coots.  My Spanish lessons so far only confirm Hola.  I don’t believe that Google would lie but I understand that there are subtleties that might escape on-line translations so if I said something I shouldn’t, dame un pase.

This trip we aim to function passably in Spanish.  In Italy, we just pointed or waited for someone to speak English.  In Argentina we intend to engage.  I have to say that learning Spanish by listening is muy bueno. The one problem is that I have no idea what some of the words look like in print and the sounds I mimic don’t correspond to the way we say those letters in English.  I may be able to converse but the printed word may turn out to be a complete mystery.  Qué desastre!

Still we are excited.  We hear that Buenos Aires is called the Paris of South American and the pictures we find on the web seem to confirm.  My wife will be busy taking pictures while I absorb the culture and drink mate.  Will I find anything to be cantankerous about?  Que sas!   Will I miss the dreary Winter weather in Sacramento?  No en su vida.

Tropical Christmas!

We will be arriving in Summer for the Southern hemisphere; December is equivalent to July up here and temperatures will be in the 90’s with humidity.  This suggests that we will celebrate siesta during midday even though it is apparently not so endemic in Argentina as some other countries.  We don’t have definite plans and no big urgency like we might have on a 5 day trip.  I have always wanted to take a vacation where I could actually take a day off instead of rushing from one place to another.  Como un pollo con su cabeza cortada.

Still there is work to do.

Meanwhile, during the countdown there are details to arrange.  For the Venice trip I reached a near panic state during the last week.  It was completely irrational and totally unnecessary but I just couldn’t turn off the worrying about imaginary problems.  Right now I’m convinced that I’ll be fine when the countdown gets close but who knows.  Argentina is not Italy.  Buenos Aires is not Venice.  United Airlines is not Iberia.  My wife may have to knock me out just like last time.

I still have Spanish lessons to complete, cell phones (or Argentine sim cards) to arrange, and details like airport transportation and getting Pesos before we go.  And then, of course, we need to book Tango lessons.  So much to do.  Tan poco tiempo.


A Coot hits the road!

 Posted by at 11:02  Uncategorized
Feb 232015
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Originally posted 2012-01-03 04:48:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Hola Coots!

The pressure is mounting.  Tomorrow my wife and I leave rainy Sacramento for sunny and warm Buenos Aires.  We’ve never been to Argentina and we’ve never taken a trip longer than two weeks so there is plenty of room for anxiety.  There is the fear of over packing.  This trip we want to take only what we need after over packing last time.  The alternative might just be under packing.  What is the right amount of clothing?  I don’t know.  I’ll probably get it wrong this time too.  The one nice thing is that summer in Argentina means no need to take a heavy coat.

Then there is the electronics.  Modern travel  requires a computer, my wife’s iPad, telephones, cameras and all the connections, power supplies and batteries to keep them operating.  The apartment has wifi so we can connect on the web and talk via Skype.  We did pretty well last trip where the only thing forgotten was a charger for a camera.  It wasn’t a serious problem.  Camera chargers are found everywhere tourists flock.  This afternoon we will set out all the equipment for packing and make sure that it all is there.

The only loose end this time is our cellphones.  For the last trip we rented them.  This time we intend to use our regular cell phones which we unlocked and buy local prepaid sim cards.  This is more adventurous and will tax our limited Spanish but it is cheaper and provides us with local Argentine telephone numbers.  The downside is that it can’t be done until we get to Argentina and apparently there is a 24 hour delay after buying the card before you get your number and the possibility of dealing with customer service in Spanish.  We will be testing our Pimsleur Spanish.  One thing we learned is that we won’t go hungry or thirsty because it seems that the Spanish word for bar is bar and the Spanish word for sandwich is sandwich.  We can build on that.

We anticipate that there will be some problems as we settle into Buenos Aires for a month but we are making our entrance as simple as possible.  For about the same price as a taxi from the airport, you can arrange for a driver.  So when we make it out of customs at the airport there will be someone standing with a sign that has my name on it.  He will lead us to our transportation which will drive us to meet the apartment agent who will settle us into our home for the next month.   We could have hassled the trip like a native but after a long flight, who needs more stress?

Once we have our home base, it will be time to check out the neighborhood, buy some provisions and those sim cards and try our Spanish (or as they say in Argentina- our Castillano).  I can’t promise regular posting during this trip but the plan is to show some pictures once a week with observations about interesting and quirky things I discover.  Stay tuned.

For a taste of Buenos Aires, check out this video.


Feb 232015
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Originally posted 2011-11-11 05:29:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Hello folks.  It seems that there has been quite a resurgence of fairy tales lately on the old Television.  NBC and ABC are both putting up some dark fairy tale inspired shows.  But I will tell you something today that is not a fairy tale.

Veterans Day

Image via Wikipedia

Freedom.  It may sound like an ethereal concept to some but it is real, and here, the coots celebrate the freedom that we have to get on and rant.  If you haven’t noticed already, today is November 11th.  Besides some movie releases, today is also Veterans Day.

So from the coots, happy Veterans Day!  If you have served these United States at any time, thank you for your service.  Thank you for allowing us to keep the freedom that lets us write a silly blog like this one without worrying if the government is going to kick in the door and shoot one of us.  Bob may disagree with this, but that is his show to rant on.

If you are currently serving somewhere far from home, or even keeping the peace stateside, we thank you as well.  We spend a couple of holidays honoring those in the military: Memorial Day for those who paid for our freedom with their lives, and Veterans Day for those who made it home.  I like to add those currently serving to Veterans Day, they will be vets soon enough.


Image by US Army Africa via Flickr

Last year I had a Veterans Day Podcast, you can listen to it here.  My sentiments have not changed.

So you may not be able to go to the bank and you don’t get mail, while you are railing against those facts, remember that it was brave men and women who allow you to get that mail and go to the bank anyway.

Go out and thank a Vet today.  That is Veteran not Veterinarian.  Fly your American flag proudly.  At 11AM  take a moment of silence to honor all of those who have made our country great, from the cooks and secretaries, to the Admirals and Generals who get all of the press.

Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for our freedom.

If you are a Vet, please leave us a comment below we would love to hear from you.

If you are here reading this, Vet or not, please use the share buttons below and promote this post and get our feelings out there to the internet.

Thanks for reading.


5 Reasons to Embrace Jet Lag

 Posted by at 11:02  Up With
Feb 232015
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Originally posted 2014-07-07 18:17:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Up with jet lag.

Jet Lag is the travelers best fried. Despite the complaints about how jet lag messes up your trip or your return, I’ve learned to embrace jet lag for what it is- the worlds best excuse for not doing anything you don’t want to do.


Jet Lag (album)

Jet Lag (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m enjoying jet lag as I write this. It’s our third day back and I’m still putting stuff away, chipping away at the bills and struggling to get back to the old routine. The trip was great. We were in beautiful places, going whatever we liked and best of all, I didn’t get robbed once. Still, all good things must come to an end and Monday we flew home on the worst of all possible schedules. We left at 10:30 in the morning and 24 hours later entered our front door at midnight. We were dead tired and groggy.


My wife and I behave differently on getting home. I crash. My wife cleans. No matter, both of us are seriously still seriously jet lagged and only now beginning to recover. I woke up early and went grocery shopping in a brief surge of energy. Then I crashed later, roused for dinner and crashed again. My wife has similar patterns although our schedules don’t coincide. It’s a bit odd but otherwise, as Hillery would say, ‘What difference does it make anyway?’


Relax and go with the flow. Jet lag is not life threatening. It is painless. And it hasn’t kept us from doing anything important so from our perspective, it’s no big thing. Life will return to normal accountability soon enough. For now, I’m enjoying the relief from responsibility that comes with jet lag. I’ve decided to stop complaining about it and embrace it fully. You might want to reappraise jet lag yourself at your earliest opportunity and to help you, I’ve compiled 5 reasons to embrace jet lag.


1. You made it home
2. Nobody will question what you do
3. It’s an excuse for almost anything
4. It distracts you from annoying real life problems
5. It’s over when you say it’s over.


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