Death and Taxes

The saying used to go, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” That is not the case this year. As 2010 nears an end, there is still little indication as to what will happen with the Federal estate tax. In 2009, the exemption was $3.5M and anything over that was taxed at 45%. In 2010, the Federal estate tax was repealed. (Good year, if any, to die if you have a sizable estate!) In 2011, the exemption will revert to $1M and anything over that will be taxed at 55% percent. Get used to saying, “Nothing is certain by death and (insert snarky comment re: Federal government decision making here).”

Note: The Future of the Federal Estate Tax blog is an easy way to keep up with the latest news on the topic.

My Year In Cities 2009

In 2009, I slept at least one night in each of the following cities. The asterisks denote multiple-visit cities.

Note that Concord, NH was home during my three years of law school. Time passes quickly, as the eight months since I was last in New Hampshire are a blurred memory of moving, bar examining and life sorting.

Chicago, IL was home for a brief period during which I thought I wanted to live and start my career there. It is a wonderful city where I have a few good friends, but, upon closer inspection, it didn’t hold a candle to where I’ve chosen to settle down…

I can now call Traverse City, MI home again. For awhile, it was relegated to “hometown” status, but it has been hoisted from shallow depths of my high school memories and, I must say, has reemerged in technicolor with added features.

  • Concord, NH*
  • Traverse City, MI*
  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Chicago, IL*
  • Austin, TX
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Ishpeming, MI
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Grimsby, ON, Canada

My Oscars 2009 Predictions

This year marks the 81st Oscars. I was born in 1981. I believe that makes me more than qualified to spout my predictions for this Sunday’s awards show.

Here’s a semi-complete list of movies I saw in theaters in 2008. Missing are the Best Picture contenders. I’ve seen three of the five.

My predictions are as follows. The selections above the line are educated guesses. Those below the line are pure guesses. I have not read the predictions that were leaked online, nor have I read many other published predictions. I’ve seen all of the movies to which the above-the-line nominations apply, except The Reader (Actress: Kate Winslet).

Actor: Frank Langella
Supporting actor: Heath Ledger
Actress: Kate Winslet
Supporting actress: Penélope Cruz
Animated feature film: Wall-E
Best picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Art direction: Benjamin Button
Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Costume design: Benjamin Button
Directing: Frost-Nixon
Documentary feature: Man on Wire
Documentary short: The Final Inch
Film editing: The Dark Knight
Foreign language film: The Class
Makeup: The Dark Knight
Music (score): Benjamin Button
Music (song): Wall-E
Short film (animated): Presto
Short film (live action): New Boy
Sound editing: Iron Man
Sound mixing: The Dark Knight
Visual effects: Benjamin Button
Writing (adapted screenplay): Benjamin Button
Writing (original screenplay): Milk

Inauguration 2009

I watched from my little room on my old TV a great moment in history – the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. The prayer was inspiring. The music was moving. The swearing in was, well, a bit clumsy, but sincere nonetheless. A great start to a presidency with great potential.

All of this progress is good, however let us not forget the state of the union. Obama’s repeated sounding of, “Things will get worse before they get better,” still applies. We have a long and hard road ahead of us as a nation. The strength of Obama is the inspiration and goodness that will trickle-down from the President’s bully pulpit to individual Americans.

Let us not be fooled by the changing of the guard. While changing the name subsequent to “President” is significant, as I have often found in moving from one apartment to another, it doesn’t take long to find something wrong with the new place. And by the time my lease is up I can’t wait to move. I’m optimistic that Obama’s presidency will be different, but he has to do more than not be Bush.

God Bless America!

Resolutions for 2009

1. Be more critical. Be more inquisitive. Ask more questions. Have higher expectations. Dig down deeper. Frame things multiple times.

2. Have more fun. Stop worrying. Live in the moment.

3. Create something everyday.

Goals like “passing the bar” and “getting a job” will come in a subsequent post. Despite being firmly determined to accomplish each of those things, they aren’t exactly resolutions to me.