Referential Posterity

In a past life, I was the colleague and then technical supervisor of a ton of people who supported Visual Basic for Microsoft.

Especially given my central role in keeping many of those people in touch with each other, this means I am still being used as a reference more than five years later. I wonder how long this goes on… Not that I mind! If they ask detailed questions, I may have trouble remembering exact answers, but I certainly know who from that group I would hire. Most of them, in fact, but some more than others.

Today one of the ones I see with regularity contacted me needing references. He’d never needed any until now, and lost track of most of the people who would be appropriate. I’d hire him without hesitation. The last work he had started out as a three week contract to do some database conversion, and ended up being more than a year of porting code to VB.NET, and fixing what had previously been ported unsuccessfully. After that, he’d been looking for a few months.

His observation is that things are getting better; tech work is more available and employers are showing real interest in hiring.

Then he went astray, remarking it should get even better once Bush is gone! Hellloooo… the collapse of tech work, and to some degree the wider economy, came from where? The economy is now improving why? To the degree an administration’s policies have anything to do with it, the answers would be, respectively, Clinton and Bush.

It was just an idle remark. I chuckled good-naturedly at the joke and said nothing. We have never discussed politics, and I couldn’t have told you where he stood until today. Perhaps a guess, based on what “lifestyle issues” might be a factor, but never anything so clear.

Since he wasn’t vociferous, it doesn’t bother me that he made such a comment. I have friends whom I relate to on matters not political, and it all works out fine. I get terribly uncomfortable if they not only bring up the political, but harp on it.

But I digress. Back to the topic of references, it would be interesting for me if I ever went back on the job market. References would have to be people who were clients, people who reported to me, or possibly a person or two I interacted with at Microsoft in Washington. I have no idea how to reach anyone I ever had as a supervisor or manager.

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Formative Tree Killing

Yesterday I prepared the federal 1065 form and associated K-1 schedules for the business, which kept me up nice and late.  Since I had promised my partner it would be done for today, I had a deadline urging me on; something I find helpful.

Then I moved on to the Massachusetts Form 3 and schedules 3K-1 that are sort of the equivalent of their federal counterparts, but brief and largely reliant on attachment of the federal return to be completely informative.  As with the federal return, I rely on the forms being essentially the same year to year.  Between familiarity and comparability to the previous year’s return, it makes filling things out relatively painless.  Less painless than a root canal, for instance.

There is less to the state forms, making them even easier.  For 2002 and before, the main return was a single page.  The 3K-1 for each partner was a single page.  This still made what I sent the state thicker than what I sent the IRS, since I also had to include the seven pages plus two pages for each K-1, but the state form itself was a breeze.

So late last night I move on to the state forms, figuring to whip them together in no time and be done except maybe a bit of photocopying and stapling.

I did a double take.  As in having to look closely and make sure it was the correct form.

Massachusetts now has a four page form replacing the old one, asking all kinds of bizarre questions, and looking like a standardized test.  Why do they have to ask all these things now, yet they didn’t in the past?

Each 3K-1 is two pages now, instead of one page.

If the state forms had not changed, Massachusetts would be getting 20 pages of tax forms from me for the business.  Instead they will be getting 27 pages.  Why?  It’s just silly.  Most of the difference is more invasive questions that ought not matter.

Instead of trying so hard to squeeze businesses for as much as they can get of their worldwide earnings, which is the apparent point of many of the new, probing questions, they should work on making the state a magnet for businesses to locate and start in.  Tax revenue will follow.

Another thing they changed was to make all the numbers rounded.  In the balance reconciliation for each partner, you aren’t allowed to show that you are at 12,249.63, because they would much rather you say that you are at 12,250 instead.  Maybe I’m silly, but that just irks me not to be precise.  Oh well.

I’m just glad it’s over with for the year.  I still have to do my personal return, but that’s comparatively easy.

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Billions and Billions Saved

Glenn notes the 90th birthday of my hero, one of the greatest men ever, Norman Borlaug. There is a post at Hit and Run (link updated to avoid 404, think it’s the same post) he points to, and an old but still relevant article.

I noticed the age of the article because it spoke of the living American Nobel Peace Prize winners, and the undeserving Jimmy Carter wasn’t among them. Ironically, Carter was mentioned later as one of the few major proponents of Borlaug’s efforts to do for Africa what he did for the rest of the underdeveloped world. Apparently too many people consider Africa not worthy of being saved. This is why Carter isn’t always bad or misguided.

The odd thing is, I first learned of Borlaug in Sunday school, waaaay back in the dim recesses of time, before I rebelled against being dragged to church by my mother. I also find the whole thing fascinating from the perspective of having been an aggie in high school. Yet… I don’t recall him having been mentioned at any time during any of my years in school. Just in Sunday school, while his efforts were still in full swing, and on blogs more recently.

Serve billions and people love your burgers. Save a billion give or take, and people forget you ever existed.

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Public Service Announcement (Again)

Repeat after me:

Refund.

REEEE…. Fund.

Not return. Refund. You just got your refund and it was larger than in the past thanks to the tax cuts.

You got your return in the mail at the end of the year, or from a library or post office, or perhaps as a PDF you downloaded from irs.gov and printed. You filled out and filed your return and then, voila, if you were lucky, sometime subsequently you received a refund.

Isn’t this easy? Nomenclature can be fun, and result in so much clarity. Try it! Reeee… fund. “My tax return resulted in a big refund.” See how the two words are not the same?

Cool, glad we got that settled.