Thursday, May 5

Banned Book Week - The reading list

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I've been spending alot of time at the library lately with the hubs. Which means I've spent some time int he ladies room there. Directly across the way from the ladies room is a poster for Banned Book Week. It piqued my interest.

Banned Book Week is "an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the first amendment," and is sponsored by the American Library Association. (Thanks by the way to the lego head guy over on the left, courtesy of the same ALA).

Anyway, every year, the last week of September, is Banned Book Week. Books featured during BBW are those that have been the targets of challenges or attempted bannings, based on content. Very interesting. This year, Banned Book Week is September 24 - October 1, 2011.

So I try not to do things simply to challenge the beliefs of others, but I have to say, I am interested in what topics in these books cause offense. Some are books that were part of my required reading in high school and college. Add that to the fact that I've been reading books intended for teenagers, and voila. I've come to the decision that it's time to branch out and read some of the 'classics,' or books that are somewhat controversial. Rather than reading Twilight for the fiftieth time.

So obviously the list is huge. Much huge-er than I would have thought. So I decided to start with the 46 books that have been challenged from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Books of the 20th Century List. Lucky for me, I've already read 4. So that leaves me with only 42.... (Author's note: Several others were on the 'required reading' list, but I may or may not have glossed over those if there wasn't a test or paper required.)

We'll get there. Here's the list. Anyone want to join me? I thought about starting with Sophie's Choice, by William Styron, purely because I used to live on William Styron Square, but in reality, I am just going to print out the list and start with whatever book the library has. They are in order per Radcliffe's list, so maybe I will just go in order. I'll leave that up to my local library to decide.

Seriously, please join me. Or give pointers on which ones you've read and liked.

:-) Barb

46 Banned Books from the Radcliffe Top 100 List
The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Ulysses, by James Joyce
The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
1984, by George Orwell
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Native Son, by Richard Wright
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
Go Tell It on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren
The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
Sophie's Choice, by William Styron
Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
Women in Love, by DH Lawrence
The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer
Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
Rabbit, Run, by John Updike

Already read. May read again IF I get through the first list. 
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Thursday, February 17

Become a Superhero!

www.amyssuperheroes.blogspot.com
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Hey all!

My good friend Amy (Bennett) Eck is campaigning for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Woman of the Year. LLS Woman of the Year is a contest that runs from March 8 through May 20. The goal is to raise as much money as possible in 10 weeks. Each dollar raised is a vote, and at the end of the 10 week campaign, the winner is the person who earns the most votes.

But the reality is every competitor is a winner, because every dollar raised is donated directly to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, to fund research to find a cure for blood cancers. Our plan is to hit as many avenues that we can think of over the course of the 10 week period. My favorite fundraisers so far: A Wedding Dress Auction and a Triathlon and Sports Equipment auction, in addition to more traditional direct donations and local events.

A little bit of background on Amy:
Amy was a marine for several years, before leaving the marine corps to pursue a career as a US Navy Port Engineer (keeps Navy ships afloat and underway). She founded Camp Bennett - a triathlon and athletic training clinic to get people outside and active, to create long, happy, and productive lives.

Amy established a weekend adventure race event (Freedom Fest - you may have read my post about scoping out the course) in 2009. The race is entirely organized and staffed by volunteers, and all proceeds are donated to charities, including Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. As the race grows, Amy wants to ensure that a minimum amount goes to each charity, so if profits don't meet the mark, she donates out of her own pocket.

When Amy learned of the LLS competition for Man and Woman of the Year, she jumped at the chance to raise money for a great cause.

The point: We are blogging the adventure. Of course, if we can raise even more money through sponsorship of the blog, EVEN BETTER! The fundraising doesn't start until March 8, but in the mean time, we are trying to get the word out and build the blog. So please consider following, subscribing, grabbing a button (included above) to show support, and maybe, oh maybe, reposting on your blog about the competition? Pretty, pretty please?

Thanks so much and if you've got any suggestions, definitely let me (us) know, by posting here, posting at http://www.amyssuperheroes.blogspot.com/, or emailing!

Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!
:-) Barbara

PS. In case you miss this, I'll more than likely be emailing all of you individually if you have visible emails :-) I hope all is well, and I have some projects that are done (Yay!) but not posted (boo!) and more projects on the way (Yay!). :-) I'll be back around to check out your projects and send some comment love. It's been a crazy busy month for some reason.

PPS. If you question whether Amy wear's her Wonderwoman costume around town, or if it was rented for this picture: Nope - she wears it regularly. I've seen her teach a triathlon clinic as Wonderwoman, run a half-marathon as an elf, run a full marathon as She-Ra Princess of Power, and come to work in a full blown Turkey suit. She occasionally gets her hubster to dress up as well, which you can see if you hit up the Superhero Home Page. Just make sure you continue on to Amy's Blog afterward!

Monday, February 14

LGO #4: Record retention!

A day late and a dollar short. Or in my case, two weeks late and $14 short? Anyway, I am proud to announce the arrival of Let's Get Organized #4, Record Retention!

So once you've developed your paperwork file, you're done, right? No such luck. Even without considering the upkeep involved with continued filing of paperwork, you still have to consider what to keep and what to purge within your paperwork files after a certain period of time.

Some of this is personal preference. I like to keep my Roth IRA account statements, because even though I don't need them, I like to look at them and give myself a pat on the back for saving. My hunky hubster likes to keep his schoolwork and notes, because he is still in school and wants to be able to reference them if necessary.

On the other hand, some of this retention is "required" based on tax laws and audit periods. I put "required" in quotes because you aren't actually "required" to keep the paperwork, but the IRS, for example, can audit back a given number of years based on your situation. Listed below are periods of limitations for various tax situations. The period of limitations is the period in which you can amend your tax return or that the IRS can assess additional tax. (courtesy of the IRS).

1.     You owe additional tax and situations (2), (3), and (4), below, do not apply to you; keep records for 3 years.
2.     You do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return; keep records for 6 years.
3.     You file a fraudulent return; keep records indefinitely.
4.     You do not file a return; keep records indefinitely.
5.     You file a claim for credit or refund* after you file your return; keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
6.     You file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction; keep records for 7 years.
7.     Keep all employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
Some other good information (courtesy of Good Housekeeping):

1.     Keep Investment Records as long as you own the securities, plus 7 years. You need them to prove capital gains and losses. .
2.     Keep Bank Statements one month, unless they are the only record for a tax-related expense. Otherwise, bank statements are only needed to check the accuracy of the charges.
3.     Keep Retirement Plan Statements for one year (tax purposes). The exception to this rule is that you should keep Roth IRA statements until you retire to prove you already paid tax on this income (Note from Barbara: Yay! I win by default :-).
4.     Shred credit card statements IMMEDIATELY after checking for accuracy (unless they are your only record for a tax related expense.) Credit card statements are prime source for identity theft.
5.     Keep pay stubs for one year until you receive your W-2.
6.     Keep bills for one year for tax purposes.
7.     Keep W-2's until you begin claiming social security. They are your best estimate of your earnings and entitlements.
Now there are many different interpretations for all of the above information. Unfortunately, there is no real hard and fast rule. Fortunately, many of these documents are available online these days.

Again, this is one of those systems that you will need to develop based on your personal situation. If you currently have a financial advisor, they might be a good source of information to develop a system that works for you.

Check with your bank. Most banks offer online banking and electronic statements. Your bank can also tell you how long you can access statements online. You may decide to download them and keep a copy. You may find it helpful to know how to access this information, whether you use it or not.

So, that in a nutshell is a starting point for record retention. Here is a snapshot of the system I use at my home:

1. Bank statements - I get these online and only retain them online. I also follow my bank account regularly online to ensure that all of the charges are correct.
2. Credit card statements - again - I get these online and only retain them online. I also follow my credit card regularly online to ensure that all charges are correct.
3. Roth IRA & Other Investments - These I keep forever, because I like to look at where I started and where I am. I am working on switching over to e-statements, and at that point, I will keep an electronic file.
4. Home Loan and Ownership Paperwork - I am currently keeping these forever. Definitely as long as we own the house. We currently sold a house, so I am in the process of figuring out what needs to be kept and what needs to be shredded.
5. Educational Records - Transcripts and diplomas go into the career catalog to be discussed on Wednesday (yes - I will keep to that schedule - career catalog is a much earier subject for me.) Schoolwork and notes go into record boxes and hanging files until my hunky husbster finishes school. At that point, certain coursework will be maintained in a more permanent file, but the general notes and homework will get purged.
6. Tax Records - Right now I am of the 7 year purge mentality. But 7 years ago, all I had was a job. Now I've got a job, a husband, a husband's job, school payments, house payments, investments, etc. I will probably reevaluate my system in a few years when those things start to fall into the chopping block.

So that is kind of a snapshot of how my system works. Again, everyone's system will be a little bit different, depending on your situation. Best advice I can give is talk to your financial advisor, if you've got one. Do a little research with your bank to see what they maintain. Think about what you have and how it affects your life.

Does that help? Or just make it worse? I think next week after the career catalog post, I am going to focus on life skills. Because that is what I need to develop :-) For instance, we are trying to learn to menu plan, with the ultimate goal of being one of those once a month cooks. It may be a while before we get to that point, but maybe at least once a week or once every two weeks (fingers crossed!).

You should see our home. We live in 599.92 square feet. Yes. Less than 600 square feet. I know because I measured, because I am trying to find a better furniture layout. So the house is a SHAMBLES! Which is why, next week - moving on up to life skills. I might even share some pictures of the shambles!

Anyone have any pointers on what works for them for managing the paperwork beast? I'd love to hear them!

:-) Have a great Monday! Barbara
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