January 18, 2018

Crossword Puzzles: Oreo strikes again!

Who would think there exists an Oreo Cookie Crossword Synchronicity?  I just think there might!

Shortly after I wrote my January 14 post about Playing Crossword Puzzles and Oreo Cookie Clues, can you guess what happened?  Yep, I completed a Los Angeles Times crossword with an OREO answer.  And a new clue to get the answer:

Crossword Clue:  After-lunch sandwich?
Answer:  ORE0

So the Oreo Cookie Crossword Monster strikes again.  Now sharpen your pencil and get to puzzlin'!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA, CFP®

Mary Rae Fouts, EA, CFP® provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

January 16, 2018

Payroll Taxes: New 2018 Employee Tax Withholding Tables Now Available

The IRS has published new 2018 Employee Wage Tax Withholding Tables to conform with the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  Yes, that is the official name of last month's so-called tax reform act.

Anyhoo, for information about the new withholding tables, visit this IRS January 11, 2018 News Release.  As of January 11, the IRS was working on updating the actual withholding Form W-4, but a revised 2018 form was not yet available.

Questions about employee tax withholding or other employment tax issues?  I welcome your email to Mary@FoutsFinancialGroup.com or phone call at (510) 421-5457.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA, CFP®

Mary Rae Fouts, EA, CFP® provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

January 15, 2018

Single Payer Health Care in the United States? Just ask the British how their Single Payer System is working out for them ...

Single Payer Health Care in the United States?  Some special interest groups and other proponents champion the concept, although just exactly what "Single Payer" means is up for debate.

To these Single Payer Health Care proponents:

Have you asked the British how their Single Payer System is working out for them?

Three word response:  IT.   IS.   NOT.

As revealed in a recent New York Times article (read the article here), Britain's Single Payer Health Care program - run by the British National Health Service -  is in a state of shambles.  So much so, that British physicians have called their health care services "battlefield medicine" and "third world conditions".

Elderly hospital inpatients are being discharged to a "social care" program to free up hospital beds for others.

Overcrowding and lack of available services is in such dire straights that all ... ALL ... non-essential surgeries were recently postponed, and postponed in all British Nation Health Service Hospitals.  For an entire month.  Effecting thousands of people scheduled for surgery.  And this is not the first time such postponements have taken place.  In the NY Times article, one person commented that this postponement will be the third postponement for surgery he needs.

The third.

Is this the health care system we truly want in the United States?  Read the article when you have time, and decide for yourself.  The grass ain't always greener on the other side.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA, CFP®

Mary Rae Fouts, EA, CFP® provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

January 14, 2018

Crossword Puzzles: Want to start crossword puzzling? Here are some tips.

I love solving crossword puzzles.  A lot.  The challenge and mental awareness  and concentration crossword puzzles bring me adds much enjoyment to my days.

Oh, and by the way, I'm a crossword puzzler on paper.  With a pencil.  Don't like solving crossword puzzles on a computer or smart phone, which to me is a messy, non-cohesive platform.

And yes, you're no doubt wondering why I have a photo of an Oreo cookie on a blog post about solving crossword puzzles.  Stay with me now, I'll get to that in a minute!

Anyhoo, last year, Deb Amilen and Sam Ezersky posted a very interesting article in the New York Times website titled "How to Get Started Solving the New York Times Crossword Puzzle".  It contains a wealth of helpful information and puzzle solving aides, as well as some pretty darn fascinating crossword trivia.

You can read the entire article here.  Today I'll share Ms. Amilen's and Mr. Ezersky first crossword puzzling help topic, with which I totally agree.  Plus, the trivia about OREO New York Times Crossword clues is fascinating!  I'll post more of their crossword help topics in the future.  But for today ...


Crossword Puzzling Tip #1:  Start with the Monday Puzzles
"Mondays are the easiest and they get harder as the week goes on.

This is probably a beginning solver’s most common mistake.

You know what it’s like: You have some downtime on a Saturday and you look around for something to pass the time. Your officemate keeps bragging about his ability to finish The New York Times Crossword. You hate your officemate.

So, not to be outdone, you pick up the paper or download our app and turn to the Saturday puzzle. How hard could it be?

Fun Fact: The Saturday crossword is actually the hardest puzzle of the week. Contrary to popular belief, the Sunday puzzles are midweek difficulty, not the hardest. Mondays have the most straightforward clues and Saturday clues are the most vague or involve the most wordplay. Some later-week puzzle clues may require specialized knowledge.

Just to drive the point home, let’s take a look at the difference between a Monday clue and a late-week clue for a popular crossword entry. OREO cookies (answers in puzzles are generally written in all capital letters) are such a popular entry in crosswords that they have been dubbed by some as the “official” cookie of the crossword. A typical Monday clue for OREO will be very straightforward and drive you almost directly to the answer.
“Nabisco cookie”
“Cookie with creme filling”
“‘Twist, Lick, Dunk’ cookie”
And here are some late-week clues, which might require more specialized knowledge about these delicious treats:
“Snack since 1912”
“It has 12 flowers on each side”
“Sandwich often given a twist”
We weren’t kidding you. There is a big difference between a Monday puzzle and a Saturday puzzle.  
That doesn’t mean that you can’t work your way toward solving a late-week puzzle – and we recommend that you do, because they’re fun – but it takes experience and patience.

If you’re just getting started, though, make your life easy and solve as many Monday puzzles as you can. Eventually, you’ll be ready for more of a challenge, and that’s when you move on to Tuesday puzzles."
--  Deb Amilen and Sam Ezersky, "How to Get Started Solving the New York Times Crossword Puzzle"; NewYorkTimes.com; July 217, 2017
Are the differences in the OREO cookie crossword clues mesmerizing, or what?!  Now grab some Oreos and get to crossword puzzlin'!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA, CFP®

Mary Rae Fouts, EA, CFP® provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

January 13, 2018

Winter Blahs? Brighten your life with fresh flowers!

Fresh flowers.  An extension of my love of gardening.  And yet another way to brighten each day.

Here are 2 bouquets of flowers I have around my home.  Their freshness and colors brighten each room, and each day. 



The vases don't have to be fancy, nor do the arrangements have to be complicated.  Treat yourself to fresh flowers (and houseplants!), and make your own world a better place.
 
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA, CFP®

Mary Rae Fouts, EA, CFP® provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts