My wife and I plan to drive to the Gulf Coast in late January for a two-week getaway. We want not only to escape the Ohio winter, but also to look over some communities where we might like to buy a retirement home. Destin, Fla., will be among our stops.
The Dispatch has just published an excellent series of articles on flaws in credit reports and the extreme difficulty of correcting wrong information, which can have very damaging consequences. You can find “Credit Scars” by clicking here. I just checked my own credit reports for free at the three major agencies and (thank goodness) found no problems. But we have reported on people whose credit was ruined because they were the inncocent victims of incompetence or crimes by others.
My wife and I have made an offer to buy a one-bedroom condominium in Columbus’ Short North neighborhood. The price was attractive, and we think it will be a good investment once the economy begins to recover.
One of my responsibilities for The Dispatch is overseeing our online Voters Guide, which appears before every primary and general election.
This year, I decided to give candidates the opportunity to provide a link to their Facebook pages. I’m glad I thought of this, because early indications are that many of them will take advantage of it.
More than a year after moving into our renovated townhouse, we finally tackled the last big upgrade — the front porch.
The old concrete steps were irregular and uneven in height, so they were difficult to climb. The cheap aluminum railings were wobbly and loose. And the flower bed at sidewalk level was made of old railroad ties that were rotting away.
Our terrific contractor, Tim Bucher of Worthington Restoration, provided us with new, level, uniform steps; a gorgeous set of sturdy new railings (see photo); and a new flowerbed with walls made of precast blocks.
We did the job in cooperation with our next-door neighbors, who share the porch and flowerbed with us. Now the front of the house looks as good as the inside already did!
The last step will be to fill the flowerbed with something that will hide the old cinder blocks that form the base of the porch. We were going to apply a stone veneer, but now we’re thinking of evergreen shrubs instead.
My wife and I are hoping to visit Galveston, Texas, in February to see whether we’d like to spend winters there after we retire. It looks promising except for the risk of hurricanes.
We’ll probably fly to Houston and spend some time not only in Galveston, but also in Austin and perhaps San Marcos or other communities in the region.
An elderly relative of mine has just fallen victim to a scam based on a fake sweepstakes prize. A caller convinced her that she had won $500,000 and a new Mercedes, to be presented that very afternoon at her apartment building, with a band playing at the ceremony!
He then persuaded her to give him various financial account numbers and other critical information over the phone “to pay the taxes.” Fortunately, she quickly told us what she’d done, and we were able to freeze or cancel her accounts before too much money was lost.
Late on a Friday night in March, as I was driving to Interlochen to pick up my daughter and two classmates for spring break, a deer dashed in front of my car on U.S. 127 about 20 miles north of Lansing. She almost made it.
I wasn’t hurt, but my car was undriveable after the collision. So I had to have it taken to a local body shop, where as of today (March 28), it’s all fixed but needs a test drive. The bill comes to $2,700.
Everyone I dealt with, starting with a Clinton County sheriff’s sergeant, was very friendly and helpful. Thanks also to the accommodating folks at Enterprise Car Rental in Lansing and to Bob’s Auto Body in St. John, Mich., where we hope to pick up our repaired vehicle on Wednesday.
We drove to Michigan in February to visit our daughter at the Interlochen Arts Academy near Traverse City. It was great to see her, and we enjoyed our time in T.C. — especially the Omelette Shoppe on Cass Street! I asked the manager if he’d sell me a coffee mug as a souvenir, and he got one out of the dishwasher. Charged me $4.99.
We also spent a few days in the Ann Arbor area. The unexpected highlight of that part was the tour of the Ford truck assembly plant in Dearborn. They were making lots and lots of F-150 pickups. I saw a couple of workers putting in headlights — he did the left ones, and she did the right ones. Not sure I could do that for eight hours a day, every day.
We’ve been living in our newly renovated townhouse in Victorian Village for more than four months now, and we love it here. The biggest surprise has been our utility bills. Even though this winter has been unusually cold, our gas bills for January and February were only about $60 each.
It’s great to be in the heart of the city. Scores of restaurants are nearby, and our commute to work takes about eight minutes.
An interactive feature I did for the Dispatch website has generated about 80,000 uses and is still going strong, three months after we posted it.
This exercise lets readers try their hand at balancing the state budget and closing a deficit estimated at $8 billion. It’s intended to show how difficult the task is, and how controversial the necessary choices will be.
The president of the Ohio Society of CPAs has praised this project as a valuable educational service. Three college professors are using it in their classrooms, and several state legislators have recommended it to their constituents.
You can try our simulator yourself by clicking here. And I want to share the credit with my Dispatch colleagues who researched the budget numbers, helped me refine my code and greatly improved the design of my original idea.
Another recent interactive project I did can be seen here. I hope to build many more features like this for our website as my skills improve.
After seeing the superb film The King’s Speech I became interested in learning more about the people and events it portrays. I soon discovered a fascinating BBC audio archive of historic broadcasts, including the one made by the real King George VI at the outbreak of World War II (you can hear him here).
Among the many other treasures on this site is a recording of Sir Winston Churchill’s famous “finest hour” speech made in 1940 after France had been conquered by the Nazis. It is here.