July 6, 2020

Sid the Dog "Heats Up" on a Hot July Day!

Sid the Dog


Sid.  My almost 9-year old Husky-Malamute mix.  

Sid is full of antics; every day is an adventure.  For instance, I recently found the reason for Sid's diarrhea and soft stools.  Get this ... He was eating juicy, very ripe plums and Royal Anne cherries that had fallen onto the ground in our backyard.  Didn't eat the pits, just enjoyed the fruit.  Kinda like a self-imposed colon cleanse.  Can't believe that a dog would like plums and cherries!

Anyhoo, here is Sid yesterday.  "Heating Up", as we call it, on the back patio.  Yep, it's 3:10 PM and a hot 92.1*F outside.  And Sid is lounging on a black mat on the patio, in full sun, heating up.  Our late dog Titus did this, too.  The only thing Jim and I can figure is that the heat must feel good on sore doggie muscles, kinda like a heating pad or Bengay.


Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

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About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

July 3, 2020

Newspaper Blunders: Typos, Misspellings, Grammar Errors, and Similar Stuff Since COVID-19 Pandemic Began

COVID-19 and Newspaper Blunders


Since the COVID-19 Pandemic began in the United States, most newspaper outlets have had their employees work from home.  My husband Jim and I are avid newspaper readers and subscribe to daily delivery of two newspapers.  The San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times.

What we've noticed since COVID-19 is an increase in the number of typos, misspellings, usage of incorrect words, grammar errors, and similar stuff.  Some of the misspellings have not even been actual words, so it appears some articles and columns aren't even run through spell check, yet alone proofed by the writer and copy editor.  Or maybe copy editors are a thing of the pre-COVID-19 past?  Dunno.

Anyhoo, here is a first in an occasional post about newspaper blunders Jim and I have found.  Some of the blunders are pretty darn headshaking to think the blatant errors would actually make publication.  Take this one for example.

Victory Day


Victory Day.  It's celebrated each year on May 9, commemorating the surrender of Nazi Germany during World War II.  Victory Day marks the end of WWII and the victory of the Allied Forces.

But I guess the Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle didn't get that memo.  Based on the title of this AP article published in the Chronicle, those 2 groups think Victory Day is associated with World War I:

Newspaper Blunder and Photo Credit:  Associated Press and San Francisco Chronicle.

Yep, the AP and Chronicle actually got the war wrong in the article's title, which associated Victory Day with WWI !  Sigh ... But at least they acknowledge the correct war, WWII, in the body of the article.

Stay well and healthy, everyone!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 30, 2020

California Plastic Bag Pan Craziness During COVID-19. I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up!

COVID-19

California Plastic Bag Pan


Here’s more craziness in California politics.  Yet another Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction California Moment.  I couldn’t make this stuff up!

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom quietly allowed California’s statewide Plastic Bag Ban to come back into law.  Yep, just as COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations are surging throughout the entire state of California.  Dumb move, Gov!

Anyhoo, the ban had been stayed for 60 days during the COVID-19 Pandemic, given concerns about COVID-19 germs on reusable bags.  The statewide Plastic Bag Ban law requires grocers and other retailers to charge 10 cents per paper or reusable (thicker) plastic bag if shoppers do not bring their own bags into the store.  State officials admitted they didn’t know how many grocery stores would comply with the reinstated Plastic Bag Ban.  (Duh!)

My local grocer, family-owned Diablo Foods in Lafayette, CA, (The Best Grocery Store In the World, by the way!) was more proactive than the state.  They quit allowing reusable bags in the store at the very start of the COVID-10 Shelter in Place orders in mid-March.   With that store rule, they also did not charge 10 cents for paper or reusable plastic bags.  (And I’ve reused every single paper or reusable plastic bag as trash can liners and trash bags since then.)

So, here’s the catch: CAL OSHA Grocery Store Mandatory Health Guidelines, published in May, are in direct conflict with Governor Newsom’s re-enactment of the Plastic Bag Ban.  You see, Governor Newsom seems to think that reusable bags pose no health threat and are safe to use.  But CAL OSHA thinks reusable bags pose such a danger to grocery store workers that the workers are currently banned from touching them.  Here are mandatory CAL OSHA guidelines regarding reusable bags:
“When customers bring in their own bags, employees should be instructed to:
  • Not touch or place groceries in customer-brought bags.
  • Ask customers to leave their own bags in the shopping cart.
  • Ask customers to bag their own groceries.”
You can download the entire 6 page CAL OSHA Mandatory Safety Guidelines for Grocery Stores here.

So in California, if customers bring their own reusable bags into the grocery store, they have to bag their own groceries, and the bags can’t even leave the grocery cart!  That’s plain crazy!

And if customers don’t bring in their own reusable bags, or the grocer does not allow them, the grocer …. BY LAW … is supposed to charge 10 cents for each paper or reusable plastic bag.   That’s also just plain crazy, too!

Yesterday I did my weekly grocery shopping at Diablo Foods.  They continue to not allow reusable bags into the store, as I expected.  They also are not charging for paper bags or reusable plastic bags the courtesy clerks use to bag customer’s groceries, as I also expected.

And even better, Diablo Foods has an awesome new paper bag.  It’s fashioned out of paper than is about twice as thick as a regular brown paper grocery bag.  It’s larger, too, about the size of a large department store shopping bag, so it holds about half again as many groceries.  And it has durable, thick twine handles.  It will make an excellent trash can liner and trash bag.

So, thumbs up to Diablo Foods for ongoing excellence in customer service and safety procedures.  And a ginormous thumbs down to California officials and plain stupid and conflicting laws!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 28, 2020

Salt: Want To Cut Back On Your Salt Intake? Here Are A Few Tips To Help You Do Just That!

Salt Consumption


It is estimated that the average American consumes more than 3400 milligrams of salt each day, or about 50% more than the recommended 2300 mg daily salt consumption.  Over time, excessive salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure, which stiffens and narrows blood vessels.

Want to cut back on your salt consumption?  It's easier to do than you might think.  The culprit in America's excessive salt consumption is not the ubiquitous salt shaker, but rather the amount of sodium present in restaurant meals and processed foods purchased at grocery stores and convenience marts.

For instance, a lunch purchased at your local Burger King, consisting of a WHOPPER® Sandwich with Cheese, a Medium French Fries, a Side of Ranch Dipping Sauce, and a 20 oz. Coke will set you back 1530 calories and 1845 mg of sodium.  Ouch.

I'm not suggesting that you never eat out, or never purchased processed food.  Because, well, that's pretty much just one thing:  Impossible!  However, making smart choices, reading labels, and cooking at home with more fresh produce and herbs (think of it as adding colors to your meals and snacks), and salt-free seasonings, can go a long way in reducing your sodium intake.  Heck, the fresh and crunchy Pink Lady Apple I'm munching on right now has about 80 calories and 0 mg sodium.  And its an excellent source of Vitamin C and Potassium.

To get started on cooking with less salt, take a look at this informative website post about How To Cook With Less Salt  from my friends at Betty Crocker.

Enjoy your day!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 25, 2020

Quiz Time! Can You Solve This Crossword Clue?

Quiz Time!

This Quiz Question was actually a crossword clue in a crossword I recently finished.  And I have to admit, I could not answer it; I solved it with other clues. 

This crossword clue also makes a great Trivia/Quiz Question, so here goes ...

Quiz Question: What is any letter of this sequence:

JFMAMJJASOND 


Hint: The correct answer has 5 letters.

And no cheatin' now!

If you want to take a shot at this quiz, post your answer in the comments section of this post.  I actually got the answer correct right away, even before I looked at the puzzle to see how many letters were in the answer!

I'll post the correct answer in the near future.  Thanks for stopping by!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 22, 2020

Contra Costa County Elected Officials: The Culture Of Rotten Conduct Continues

Joe Canciamilla


Who is he, you might ask?  Well Joe Canciamilla is the latest Contra Costa County Politician to be charge with multiple felony counts related to personal use of campaign funds.  He was an elected official in a multitude of office for some 40 years.  His latest position was that of the Contra Costa County Clerk Recorder.  Canciamilla resigned from that office last year (he then stated that he was 'retiring'), just days before  entering into a  settlement agreement with the California Fair Political Practices Commission over his illegal personal use of campaign funds.

Photo Credit:  East Bay Times
Well, the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office has now upped the ante for Canciamilla.  Big time.  The Office recently charged Cancimilla with a whopping 34 felony counts:  30 felony counts of perjury involving his campaign disclosure statements, and an additional 4 felony counts of personal grand theft for illegally taking $261,808.68 of campaign funds for personal use. This conduct allegedly began in 2010.

Canciamilla is also a lawyer and is admitted to the California Bar, but his law license currently is in an inactive status.  As of June 18, he had no disclosable disciplinary actions on his law license.

Canciamilla's charges follow in the steps of former Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson.  Peterson is now a disbarred attorney and convicted felon for also using his campaign funds for personal use.  But Peterson's activities were little league in size compared to Canciamilla's major league baseball sized alleged campaign fund thefts.  Peterson swindled away $66,372 of campaign funds for personal use.  Guess Cancimilla decided that as long as he was gonna steal campaign funds, he might as well go big or go home!

And then there is the current Contra Costa District Attorney and former superior court judge Diana Becton.  She was initially appointed to the position to replaced disgraced former DA Mark Peterson.  Well, as part of the application process at that time, Becton was caught cutting and pasting responses on an application for the DA position, without attribution to the initial writers of the responses.  And she did this not once, not twice, but seven times in her application.  But our County Board of Supervisors appointed her anyway.  Yep, go ahead and commit plagiarism even times on an application, and you can still get appointed as District Attorney.

This rotten culture of politics that is ingrained in all levels is both sick and disgusting.  No wonder people become apathetic to both political issues and voting.  The public deserves better.  Much better.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 19, 2020

Spring Gardening: A Peek At What's Happened This Spring

Gardening


I do enjoy gardening ... although I could do without the weeds!  😍

I garden organically, and enjoy creating an unstructured, naturalized garden feel in my ground gardens.  I also have lots of fun with my raised beds and many potted plants.

Here is a peek at a few things from my gardens this spring.  Stay well and happy, everyone!

A blooming artichoke covered with honey bees.
Artichokes are one of the best pollinators for bees.  They are loved by honey bees and carpenter bees!
One bloom will attract so many bees, the flowers will move with the bee activity.

A hollyhock plant growing at the front of a rose garden.
This beauty is actually a volunteer from someone else's garden!

Milkweed.  Essential for Monarch Butterflies.

A naturalized garden area.  Peppermint and Queen Anne's Lace (aka Wild Carrot) are shown in the front.

A small wagon full of various succulents.  And yep, the wagon wheels even move!

A simple bouquet of roses.

Just picked strawberries.

Gerber Daisies growing in a pair of Jim's repurposed Cowboy Boots.

Here is a bloom from the Cowboy Boot Gerber Daisies.  Pretty!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 16, 2020

Are You Looking For A Life Insurance Expert Witness? Meet Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Life Insurance Litigation.
Life Insurance Arbitration.
Elder Financial Abuse
Life Insurance Expert Witness.


Are you looking for a Life Insurance Expert Witness to address Life Insurance Litigation or Arbitration Matters, or related Elder Financial Abuse Matters?


Mary Rae Fouts, EA has 31 years of experience addressing insurance concerns for clients throughout the United States.  She provides Life Insurance Consulting Services, in addition to Expert Witness Services for Life Insurance Litigation and Arbitration Matters, including Elder Financial Abuse Matters.

Mary has provided Expert Witness Services in federal courts, state courts, and arbitration venues throughout the United States.  She welcomes your call at (510) 421-5457 or email to Mary@FoutsFinancialGroup.com.


Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 13, 2020

5 Easy-To-Follow Rules To Live By When Resuming A More Normal Life During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The

COVID-19:  Resuming Our New Normal Lives



Lexi enjoying the day!
My husband Jim and I have had numerous discussions about how steps we are going to take to resume our new normal lives during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Simply put, we're going to take things nice and slow, giving plenty of time for society to open, and time to see how the COVID-19 virus subsequently progresses.   So much is going to depend on (1) how businesses implement and enforce necessary safety changes, and (2) how people conduct themselves in public, including but not limited to adhering to social distancing.  Oh, and I must admit, I'm a homebody anyway, and enjoy being at home and working from my home office.  Although I have missed our relaxing, fun, and delicious Date Lunches with Jim at La Sen Bistro in Walnut Creek!

As we all take our steps into our new normal lives, this recent article from the New York Times, "5 Rules to Live By During a Pandemic", is a must read, and a must keep! Reporter Tara Parker-Pope consulted infectious disease experts - even an aerosol scientist, how cool is that profession?! - to develop 5 easy-to-follow, common sense rules for helping remain safe from COVID-19 as we enter back into society.  Read the entire article for full details, but quickly here are the 5 recommended rules, plus a 6th from me;
  1. Check Your Community For Active COVID-19 Outbreaks
  2. Limit Close Contacts
  3. Manage Your Exposure
  4. Shorten Risk Activity
  5. Keep Taking Precautions:  Wear a mask in enclosed spaces, continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and try to avoid direct contact with high-tough public areas.
  6. And I'll add my own #6 suggestion:  Touch your face as little as possible.
Stay well everyone, stay positive, and enjoy each day!


Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

June 10, 2020

Sid the Dog: He Sure Can Sleep!

Sid the Dog


Our beloved, goofy Husky-Malamute mix.  An almost 9-years old bundle of ... well ... you never know what to expect from Sid next, except that he will always ... ALWAYS ... want food!

And Sid can sleep, Sid Style.  He has the goofiest places he tucks himself into to sleep during the day.  I swear, I never thought a 75-pound dog could almost get lost in his daytime sleeping places!  Take a look:


Sid sleeping under the bed comforter in our guest room.  I keep it pulled down at the foot of the bed so Sid can get under it and sleep.  He actually gets himself under the comforter all by himself.  The dark marks on the carpet are from his wet feet and legs ... He had been in his kiddie pool following our morning walk.


Sid completely under the comforter, just his nose and his XXL front paws exposed.  Sound asleep.

"Mommy, I'm trying to sleep here!"

And Sid also tends bar!  Here he is settling in for an afternoon nap behind our bar.

Unconditional Love is as close as your nearest Animal Shelter.  Please adopt, don't shop.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

May 31, 2020

See You Later In June!

I'm taking a short break ... I will be away from posting new posts here on Thoughts from Mary Rae Fouts for a bit.  I will moderate and post comments during this time.  See you later in June.  And stay well and healthy, everyone!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

May 28, 2020

A 3 Year Revisit: Meet Then 17-Year Old Laura Pierson. Math Genius Extraordinare.

Laura Pierson ... Math Genius Extraordinaire


The post below was originally posted more than 3 years ago on March 20, 2017.  It profiled then 17-year old Laura Pierson, a teenage Math Genius headed off to Harvard.

This post ... for whatever reason ... is one of the most visited posts on my blog.  In fact,  this year it has gotten visits nearly every day, although no one has ever left a comment.  Given the popularity, and the good news it portrays, it's worth a Good News Posting again!

You can see what Laura is up to now ... or was up to before the COVID-19 Pandemic shut downs ... by visiting the Harvard Mathematics Department web page.  Laura, thank you for continuing to inspire people of all ages with your diligent mathematics work!  Mary Fouts

~~  Originally posted March 20, 2017  ~~

I typically do not use the word genius to describe someone.

But this young lady deserves the title.

Photo Credit:  eastbaytimes.com

Meet 17-year-old Laura Pierson, a student at the College Preparatory School in Oakland, CA.  And Math Whiz ... Math Genius, more accurately .... extraordinaire.

Laura recently placed 6th among 1,749 high school seniors in the prestigious national Regeneron Science Talent Search.  Her entry? A presentation of the use of theoretical algebra to study the representation theory of mathematically symmetric groups.1

Got that?  And Laura won an $80,000 prive for her 6th place finish.  A few more things about this remarkable young lady:
  • She will attend Harvard University next year.
  • Math has been a fun and interesting passion for Laura since she was a young child. She has been a member of the Berkeley Math Circle since 5th grade, and started taking college level ... yes, college level ... math courses in middle school.
  • But Laura is not just about math.  Among other activities, she is active in theater (as both a performer and technician), enjoys dancing, and loves art.
Read more about this incredible young lady and her award in this East Bay Times article.

Oh, and Laura hopes to use her math skills to solve society's problems. And I just bet she finds success.  And inspires many people along the way.

Congratulations, Laura. You go, girl!

1Symmetric group. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL: http://www.encyclopediaofmath.org/index.php?title=Symmetric_group&oldid=35368

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

May 25, 2020

Pet Food and Water Bowls: Do You Keep Your Pet Bowls Clean? They Can Be Prime Breeding Spots For Dangerous Germs!

Germs in Pet Food and Water Bowls


How often do you clean your pet food and water bowls?  It should be done on a very regular basis ... experts recommend daily, particularly with food bowls.  Otherwise, the bowls can harbor dangerous germs.

This  study by NSF International examined 30 items from 22 households.  Pet food dishes ranked 4th in the list of germ hot spots.  The top three germ hot spots were kitchen sponges and dish rags, kitchen sinks, and toothbrush holders.

Lexi Enjoys a Meal.
This is Lexi's Place Mat and Food Bowl.
Sid's and Lexi's Bowls are Cleaned Every Day.

E. coli and Salmonella was found to be living in some pet food bowls from food residue, which can make both pets and humans very ill, or worse.  Similar dangerous germs can live in unclean water bowls, presented by the pet's saliva, food residue, and algae/slime growth. You can read more about this important pet issue in this  Reader's Digest article.

The material composition of pet bowls matters, too.  Experts suggest using stainless steel or ceramic pet bowls for food and water, rather than plastic.  Plastic bowls scratch, and the scratches can provide ripe breeding areas for germs.

And for those of you who use automatic pet watering units, how often do you clean and disinfect the units?  Plus the units are plastic, which further creates breeding grounds for germs.  I've noticed automatic pet watering units at some homes that were so filthy, the bowls were lined with gunked algae.  On one bowl, the water was completely black.  Gross and Gross!  No wonder pets get sick.

As the old saying goes, Cleanliness is Next to Godliness.  That goes for pet bowls, too!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

May 22, 2020

Food: Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From? It's Even More Important To Know, And Support Local Producers, Today!

COVID-19 And Food.


We've all experienced shortages of items in grocery stores, and the crazy, head shaking hoarding of toilet paper.  But lately, COVID-19 food concerns have turned to the serious outbreaks of COVID-19 infections in  large, industrial meat packing plants in the midwest, including in South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.  This has lead to both temporary closures and ongoing reduced capacity.  Result?  Many large, industrial pork growing farmers in the midwest are having to kill their pigs because there is no available space in pork processing facilities.  In Iowa, the nation’s largest pork-producing state, agricultural officials expect the backlog to reach 600,000 hogs over the next six weeks.

This is why it is more important than ever to know (1) where your food comes from, and (2) support local/regional producers, and producers who treat their livestock and workers humanely, and who use environmentally friendly farming methods.

credit: stemplecreekranch.com
With the exception of one cheese - a Brie from France - and one breakfast sausage, my meats,  poultry, eggs, cheese, and other dairy is sourced locally from Northern California.  The shorter supply chain means more availability, and avoids reliance on the outdated farming methods still used today by so many large industrial farmers.

I've been a long time direct purchaser from Stemple Creek Ranch in nearby Marin County.  Their grass fed lamb, beef, and pork is the best, and their wool sponges can't be beat!

Support local ranchers, farmers, growers, and artisans as much as you can.  Our food chain,  health, and local economic livelihood depends on it! 

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

May 19, 2020

Sid and Lexi ... I Think They Kinda' Like One Another!

Sid the Dog.

Lexi the Dog.


Sid and Lexi.  My Faithful Canine Companions.  Here they are recently, at my side as I finished reading the New York Times newspaper and did some crossword puzzle at night before bed.  This is our normal routine each night.   Both dogs follow me upstairs for their bedtime snack, then they follow me to my Craft Room where I read and/or work puzzles before going to bed.
On this night, Sid and Lexi were extra lovey dovey.  Here they are grooming each other's face!  🥰💖  I think they kinda' like one another, don't you?!



Sid and Lexi sometimes carry on this same grooming routine right after we get up in the morning.  They will groom each other's face and ears.  It's cute, as Lexi will growl at Sid if he's not grooming her ears to her liking!  And she has a very specific "You're not grooming my ears right, Sid!" princess growl. 

Unconditional Love is as close as your nearest Animal Shelter.  Please adopt, don't shop.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

May 15, 2020

Crazy! Contra Costa County Superior Courts Opening Back Up With Jury Service While Shelter In Place Order Is Still In Place

Contra Costa County, California Superior Courts To Reopen With Jury Duty Requirements During COVID-19 Healthy Department Mandated Shelter In Place.


That's Plain Crazy!
Of all the plain foolish and health threatening notions from our government entities during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Shelter In Place requirements, this one earns a Bonehead Award from me.

My county's court system, Contra Costa Superior Court, announced earlier this week that they are opening the courts with mandated jury duty on May 26 ... While the Health Department mandated Shelter in Place order remains in effect until at least May 31.

Yep, the courts think they know better.  And as someone who has both served as a juror and a Court Volunteer in the Contra Costa County Court system, I can tell you there is no way ... NO WAY ... that 6 feet social distancing can be enforced.  NO WAY to enforce that masks remain on faces at all times; people have to eat and drink, after all.  NO WAY all of the touched surfaces will be kept constantly clean.  How grimy will those little boxes be that you place your items on when going through security?  And what if you have to get searched at security?  And how about the hallways and rooms that will be packed with people responding to court dates and arraignments?

And, to top if off, the court says it will take everyone's temperature at entrance.  And they will allow people in, as long as the person's temperature does not exceed 100*F.  And ... duh ... a normal temperature is 98.6*F.  So that means SICK PEOPLE WILL BE ALLOWED INTO THE COURT HOUSE.

This action is so reckless it's beyond crazy.  It threatens the health and lives of everyone, including the jurors that receive a summons to appear.  No way I would honor that summons, my health and life is too important!

Headshaking the selfishness and stupidity of the Contra Costa County Court system.  If the court wants to reopen, to so with only Court trials.  Not jury trials.  And allow testimony via telephone or zoom video ... which, according to court's announcement, will require special permission from each judge.  That's crazy!

This is exactly NOT how to reopen our communities.  Shame on you Contra Costa Superior Court for giving a middle finger to the health and lives of Contra Costa County residents. 

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

May 13, 2020

Caramel Apple Crumb Pie Recipe! Try This For An Extra Special Take On Apple Pie.

Caramel Apple Crumb Pie Recipe


Ok, I know it's not yet Autumn and Apple Season here in Northern California.  But ... the organic Fuji apples I've been eating recently (from Washington) have been DELICIOUS!  I enjoy them sliced up, and sometimes paired with Skippy Crunchy Peanut Butter.

Anyhoo, these delicious Fuji apples got my-can't-spend-enough-time-baking mind to thinking about apples and baking.  And I remembered this mouthwatering Caramel Apple Crumb Pie Recipe I posted some time ago.  It's worth a repost now, especially that people are doing more cooking and baking at home.  Which is a good thing, in my love-to-cook-and-bake opinion!

The recipe is more time consuming that most apple pie recipes, but the end result will be worth your efforts!  Give Caramel  Apple Crumb Pie Recipe a try.

Caramel Apple Crumb Pie
Photo Credit:  lecreuset.com

Get the Apple Caramel Pie recipe from Le Creuset here.  And yes, I'm a huge fan of Le Creuset.  I use my faithful Le Creuset products as daily workhorse go-tos.  They are as pretty as they are functional and durable.

Happy Baking!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

May 10, 2020

Answer to Quiz Time! Can You Answer This Question About US National Parks?

Quiz Time Answer!

I recently posted a nature and geography themed quiz about the first U.S. National Park.  The original post and answers in comments is here.

Most of the commenters answered this quiz correctly!  The answer is:

The first National Park was Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872.

And another interest factoid about Yellowstone:  The National Park System actually does not know exactly how large Yellowstone is!  To this day, they are still working on mapping the park system ... 148 years after Yellowstone was established.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this Quiz, which I've posted below.  Enjoy your day!  --  Mary

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


This quiz has a nature and geography theme.   Can you answer this question?   And no cheatin'!   I'll post the answer in the near future.

United States National Parks


The United States has 62 National Parks.   They are located throughout 29 states, in addition to the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.  (And I learned something there!  I didn't realize that these 2 U.S. territories had National Parks.)

Quiz Question:  Of the 62 U.S. National Parks, can you name the first National Park?

Post your answer in the Comments Section below.  I'll post the answer in a post in the near future.  Good luck!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

May 7, 2020

Small Business Owners: Does Your Tax Planning Include Retirement Plan Contributions? It Should!

Tax Planning
Retirement Plans
Retirement Plan 
Contributions


If you are a Small Business Owner, does your tax planning include retirement plan contributions?  It should!
Why?  Glad you asked!

When Small Business Owners make contributions into retirement plans, they get much more than just a retirement plan contribution.  In fact, these contribution can pay for themselves many times over.

  1. First off, the retirement plan need not be complex to establish or maintain.  SEP-IRA retirement plans are simple to establish and maintain, with no need for expensive annual administration.
  2. Retirement plan contributions into plans such as a SEP-IRA are not just a tax deduction for a small business owner, but a complete write off against income.  Now THAT is a handy tax planning tool!
  3. Retirement plan contributions into plans such as a SEP-IRA grow tax deferred until withdrawn by the plan participant.  This year after year tax deferred growth can really ... REALLY ... add up big time over time.
So, if you are a Small Business Owner and do not currently have a retirement plan, make time to set one up this year.  You'll thank me later!

Small Business Tax Planning Concerns?
Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns. For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

May 4, 2020

Quiz Time! Can You Answer This Question About US National Parks?

Quiz Time!


This quiz has a nature and geography theme.   Can you answer this question?   And no cheatin'!   I'll post the answer in the near future.

United States National Parks


The United States has 62 National Parks.   They are located throughout 29 states, in addition to the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.  (And I learned something there!  I didn't realize that these 2 U.S. territories had National Parks.)

Quiz Question:  Of the 62 U.S. National Parks, can you name the first National Park?

Post your answer in the Comments Section below.  I'll post the answer in a post in the near future.  Good luck!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

May 1, 2020

Disability Insurance Litigation: Are You Looking For a Disability Insurance Expert Witness? Meet Mary Rae Fouts, EA.

Disability Insurance Litigation.
Disability Insurance Expert Witness.


Are you looking for a Disability Insurance Expert Witness to address Disability Insurance Litigation or Arbitration Matters?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA has 32 years of experience addressing insurance concerns for clients throughout the United States.  She provides Disability Insurance Consulting Services, in addition to Expert Witness Services for Disability Insurance Litigation and Arbitration Matters. 

Mary has provided Expert Witness Services in federal courts, state courts, and arbitration venues throughout the United States.  She welcomes your call at (510) 421-5457 or email to Mary@FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Concerned About Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

April 28, 2020

Healthier Eating and Living: Study Shows Just 10 Minutes of Walking per Day Helps Deter Arthritis

Got arthritis?


I do.  Tendonitis flare ups, too.  Ouch!  Thankfully, while painful at times, they do not keep me from engaging in exercise that I enjoy, including walking and gardening.

And, the good news (particularly for senior citizens with arthritis) is that if you have arthritis, just 10 minutes of walking daily helps prevent disability from arthritis.

Yep, just 10 minutes of walking a day.  Easy!  No need to join a fancy gym.  And you will destress and clear your mind, too.

True, I walk much longer than 10 minutes a day.  But this study (from Northwestern University in Illinois) show promise for arthritic senior citizens who may otherwise be more or less immobile and chair bound.  Read more about this study here.

The study results are pretty darn fantastic!  According to The Telegraph (see link above):
"The new research showed that just a weekly hour of exercise reduced their risk of mobility disability - walking too slowly to safely cross a street or less than one meter per second - by 85 percent and their risk of activities of daily living disability, difficulty performing morning routine tasks such as walking across a room, bathing and dressing, by almost 45 percent."
So get outside, and enjoy Mother Nature's beauty with a healthy walk.  As I do each and every day.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

April 25, 2020

Lexi the Dog ... Get That Tail!

Lexi the Dog


My Princess Chow Chow-Pomeranian mix, and forever Faithful Canine Companion.  One cut mannerism Lexi has is that sometimes when she gets excited and wants to play, she spins around, chasing her tail in joyful glee.  And yep, she actually does 'catch' that darn tail sometimes!

Here she is on a recent lovely April afternoon, chasing her tail in glee on the back patio.  No COVID-10 worries for this Chow Chow Princess!  💙💚


Unconditional Love is as close as your nearest public animal shelter.  Please adopt, don't shop.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

April 22, 2020

Answer To Quiz Time! Can You Answer This Geography Quiz Question About Russia?

Answer to Recent Quiz Time!


I recently posted a Geography-themed quiz about Russia:  How many Time Zones span Russia?  You can read responses by looking at the comments in the original quiz post.

Drumroll ... and the answer is:

11 Time Zones span Russia.

Now that's a lot of time!  😀   Below is the original post.  Stay safe and healthy, everyone!  Mary

This Quiz has a Geography theme concerning the country of Russia.  Can you answer this question?  And no cheatin'!  I'll post the answer in the near future.

Russia.



Russia is the largest country in the world.  Part of the Continent of Asia, Russia spans 6,601,665 mi² , and makes up 11% of the world's land mass.  Wow!

Quiz Question:  How many Time Zones span Russia?

Post your answers in the Comments section below.  Good luck!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

April 19, 2020

Annuity Litigation: Are You Looking For An Annuity Expert Witness? Meet Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Annuity Litigation.
Annuity Arbitration.
Elder Financial Abuse.
Annuity Expert Witness.


Are you looking for an Annuity Expert Witness to address Annuity Litigation or Arbitration Matters, or related Elder Financial Abuse Matters?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA has 31 years of experience addressing annuity concerns for clients throughout the United States.  She provides Annuity Consulting Services, in addition to Expert Witness Services for Annuity Litigation and Arbitration Matters, including Elder Financial Abuse Matters. 

Mary has provided Expert Witness Services in federal courts, state courts, and arbitration venues throughout the United States.  She welcomes your call at (510) 421-5457 or email to Mary@FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Concerned About Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

April 16, 2020

Insurance: When Is The Last Time You Reviewed Your Insurance Policies?

Adequate Property Insurance Coverage


Yes, I know ... insurance is not the most exciting topic to discuss.

But nevertheless, it's a critical one.

Looking back, the deadly November 2018 Camp Fire in the Paradise, California area was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history.  Nearly 19,000 structures were destroyed, with an estimated damage total thus far of nearly $17 billion.  Approximately 85 people perished in this inferno.  The community of Paradise, home to about 29,000 residents, was almost entirely destroyed by the blaze.

And unfortunately, many of the homeowners and property owners in Paradise had inadequate homeowners insurance, or no insurance at all.

Adequate property insurance is crucial.  This coverage is a must, even if the property owner is not required to have such insurance coverage.  Avoiding becoming underinsured ... whether it be for homeowners, business property, liability, of an other type of insurance is easy to avoid with annual reviews of your insurance coverage.  Also, your insurance coverage should be immediately reviewed and, if necessary, adjusted if you incur significant changes in your life, including home remodeling and additions.

Insurance Concerns?  About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides insurance policy reviews, coverage recommendations, and other insurance consulting services and expert witness services for clients with a broad range of insurance concerns.  She has 32 years of experience in the insurance industry, and is one of the select few Life and Disability Insurance Analysts licensed by the California Department of Insurance.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

April 13, 2020

April: A Few Interesting Trivia Facts About The Gregorian Calendar's 4th Month.

The Month of April.


The month of April is associated with Spring by many people in the Northern Hemisphere , even though Spring officially begins on March 20 or 21 each year.  The month of April is associated with some interesting trivia.  Here are a few things I discovered last year when I researched this topic.


April Trivia


In thе Unіtеd Stаtеѕ, 4 Prеѕіdеntѕ were born іn April: Grant, Buchanan, Monroe, Jefferson.  Four Prеѕіdеntѕ have also died in April: Harrison, Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Nixon.

Similarly, in the United Kіngdоm, 3 Prіmе Mіnіѕtеrѕ were born in April: Lord North, the Duke of Portland, and George Canning.  Three Prіmе Mіnіѕtеrѕ have also died in April:  Benjamin Disraeli, Henry Campbell-Bannerman, and Margaret Thatcher.

Aрrіl іѕ аlѕо a fairly рорulаr first name for people.  April іѕ thе 423rd mоѕt соmmоn nаmе іn the Unіtеd Stаtеѕ, and the 250th most common name in the Unіtеd Kingdom.

The exact origin of the word April is uncertain. However, the most common theory is that April is derived from the Latin verb Aperire, which means to open. This theory corresponds to Springtime events in April, in the blossoming and budding - or opening - of flowers and trees.

April is a food happy month.  April is not only Grilled Cheese Month, it is also Pecan Month, BLT Sandwich Month, Florida Tomato Month, Garlic Month, and Soft Pretzel Month.

April also includes the dreaded Tax Day in the United States, but let's not spoil the month by dwelling on taxes.  😁 

Enjoy your month of April!


Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts

April 10, 2020

Quiz Time! Can You Answer This Geography Quiz Question About Russia?

Quiz Time!


This Quiz has a Geography theme concerning the country of Russia.  Can you answer this question?  And no cheatin'!  I'll post the answer in the near future.

Russia.



Russia is the largest country in the world.  Part of the Continent of Asia, Russia spans 6,601,665 mi² , and makes up 11% of the world's land mass.  Wow!

Quiz Question:  How many Time Zones span Russia?

Post your answers in the Comments section below.  Good luck!

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.  And remember ... Don't just stay positive, be positive!

Mary Rae Fouts