Thursday, April 12, 2007

Faith Works 4-14-07
Jeff Gill

Post-Easter Hash, Eggs On Top

Serving leftovers after a busy week is a useful tradition in many kitchens, and also in this workshop.

Plenty of bits that don’t quite constitute a full meal can go together nicely, especially with some judiciously applied eggs, and since we all have our own hardboiled eggs still in the fridge, I’ll serve up some scraps that I think are tasty, but not a full column.

First, there’s a fundraising concert tonight for Open Arms Shelter, which now is open with all code and zoning approvals needed, at 350 E. Main St. The concert is at Heath High School in the auditorium, starting at 7:00 pm. Gospel and country and bluegrass and probably everyone singing “Amazing Grace” will be on the program, or whoever the Lord sends with an instrument under their arm and a voice to raise.

Roger and Marilyn Morgan and the gang still have some work to do which is noted on the occupancy permit, and could use a skilled plumber, among other things. But they are cleared to serve the homeless individuals they are called to minister with, and that is reason to rejoice. The concert is to help Last Call Ministries purchase the former Larry’s Drugs building where they’re at, almost to Cedar St. next to Heartbeats.

Check out for late breaking info!

Do I have anything to say about Don Imus? Well, just a bit (this is hash, recall).

In 1981 I wasn’t out of college yet, writing book reviews and features for the Purdue Exponent, the campus/community paper. My editor got this “bound proof” of an upcoming book in the mail, called “God’s Other Son” by a New York DJ eager to prove his capacity for blasphemy and crudity called (drum roll) Don Imus.

She thought I should do the piece, because I was a DJ myself, a Christian, and did most of the book reviews anyhow; what she wanted was a “phoner,” an interview with the author by phone to go with the review.

I caught the book flung at me when next I came down the steps (they used to be next to the boiler room in the student union, now they have a really nice building with windows – sniff), and picked up a phone and called the number on the letter than was stuffed in the cover.

A very nice publisher’s assistant with a major Bronx accent was immediately receptive to the phoner idea, and said she’d call back in the next hour with a time for the interview.

It was some years before I learned how unusual it is to a) get a helpful person at a New York pulbisher’s office, and b) for them to do what they say they’ll do.

The call came, and she asked if I could do it in about an hour and a half. This meant skipping a class, so of course I said “yes” (sorry, mom), and killed time fiddling with our still new DEC terminals with an early version of Qwark on them, and reading stuff coming over the AP ticker, the 1981 version of browsing the internet.

At the right time, I placed the call, and then . . .

That’s where I really have nothing useful to say, because Imus was stoned out of his mind. Apparently he has been sober for 17 years, alcohol and cocaine, and speaks out for rehab causes, and I’m happy for him. If the publisher thought it was a “cool” or “hip” thing to give a college paper an incoherent author for an interview, too bad for them. I spoke to a person I was told was Imus for twenty minutes, who answered no questions, and likely didn’t hear or comprehend them anyhow. I quietly said “thank you, I’m hanging up now” in the middle of his third or fourth rant, and had no interview to use, and we didn’t review his ghastly book, either.

Looking him up on wikipedia, I see he re-released the book in 1994 when he became famous again and it was a NYT bestseller. Too bad I don’t still have the bound galleys of that first one, but I threw it out, right after I hung up.

Closing on a much brighter note, the Community Sunrise Service was a joy and delight; I saw many old friends and a few new, and heard at least dozen people say I’m taller than my picture. In fact, I am five foot, seventeen inches in height.

Tomorrow morning, an interfaith prayer service rooted in Native American spiritual traditions will gather at Observatory Mound (just behind Licking Memorial Hospital, walking access from Octagon State Memorial at 33rd and Parkview) for a 6:00 am “Warming of the Earth” observance of spring. As with the moonrise observances, the fact that the sunrise may not be directly visible doesn’t change the meaning of the ceremony, and the company will be present, snow or shine.

And that’s our post-Easter hash! In theory, we’ll have more coherent content for you next week.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him a story (coherently, please) at

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Notes From My Knapsack 4-15-07
Jeff Gill

Time Is Money, Or Taxes

Thanks to page 81 of the 2006 IRS form 1040, we know that the majority of American taxpayers spend 30.3 hours “doing their taxes,” as we call it.

I don’t know what you include in the process of “doing your taxes,” such as procrastination, ordering pizza, sharpening pencils, and looking at your comic book collection you ran across while hunting receipts, but here’s how the IRS sees it.
They allocate 19 hours to “record keeping.” Does that include time spent looking for the right size bin to store your folders in, in dark grey since your older bins are grey, but now they only have blue, and you don’t like blue, so you visit three stores, only to go back and buy the darkest blue you can at the first store because they’re cheaper.

Anyhow, 19 hours.

Then “tax planning,” four hours worth. That would sound like the time you spend, holding the remote in your hand, about to turn off the TV, listening to what Jean Chatzky says on the morning show about how to save money on your taxes. Five minutes each time, maybe twenty times through the year, that’s an hour and half, but maybe they think some people make appointments and go talk to financial professionals. You could do that, I guess.

We’re up to 23 hours, and next on the table is another 3.7 hours for “form completion.” You know, stapling the forms to the sheet, then peeling them off since that’s your draft copy you do in pencil, then recopy in ink, then staple to the one you’ll send in. Maybe with a check, maybe not. 3.7 hours for looking for the magnifying glass to read the tables and charts that tell you in the end what you “owe” and then subtract what you’ve paid to see if you get a “refund,” also known as “money of yours they’ve been sitting on that you’re not seeing any interest on, no sir, not a chance, but thanks for playing!” As you can tell, it doesn’t feel like a refund to me.

And it sure isn’t a windfall, which is how people inexplicably treat it. Now the tax prep businesses helpfully promote this wacky idea by offering scratch-offs when you come in. Hey, it’s all random chance, anyhow; let’s see what you won! Refund, lottery, wages – all the same.

3.7 hours to fume over that.

Then there’s “form submission.” Am I the only one who just plain doesn’t like the sound of that one? But I’m not thrilled about clicking buttons on my browser window that say “submit,” either, so perhaps “form submission” is a more neutral term than I’m giving the IRS credit for. Half an hour they give you, which I assume includes ransacking the pantry shelves for a stamp in the evening of the deadline (Tuesday, this year, the 17th – woo hooo!), driving down to the special Post Office line where you can trim the deadline and postmark right on the edge.

And my favorite category, “All Other.” 3.1 hours, which is time for six pizzas to arrive and, sadly, eat them as well. Making labels for the bins with the receipts and forms and pencil copies would go here, too, I guess.

But the total went at the start: 30.3 hours. At the end of the table is “Average cost (dollars)” which for the 1040 filers comes out “$269.” Hmmm. So if that’s based on an hourly rate, I get $8.87 an hour.

Which means the federal gov’mint says my time is worth $8.87 an hour. Better than minimum wage, I’ll grant you, and some who have painted or stacked block with me would testify it’s more than I’m worth. Still, it makes me wonder where that figure came from exactly.

The point, no doubt, is to let us know that the government understands we spend time, and time is money, to send them money (or ask for our money back), and our contribution is recognized. Sort of.

You don’t get to credit that $269 on your taxes, and there’s no receipt or anything. But if you disagree with their assessments or assumptions, there’s an email you are encouraged to use along with a street address for sending in feedback.

No indication of how much time they think it would take to do that, but it gives me a column to write. If only I could get the Booster to pay me . . .

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio, which means he files self-employment estimated taxes four times a year; don’t even get his wife started on that one. Send your form feedback to