My year in hikes and field trips, 2015

Last roundup post of the season. Deeper exploring this year, not quite so much here at home.

And several trips to my home park, Huntley Meadows Park.

2014’s list. 2013’s list. 2012’s list. 2011’s list. 2010’s list. 2009’s list. 2008’s list.

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The year in review, 2015

The first sentence (more or less) of the first post of each month from this blog:

  • 4 January: Definitely an oldie but a goodie: in a 1990 paper for Journal of Political Economy, Hugh Rockoff put together a marvelous reading of L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) as an allegory of the pros and cons of bimetallism as a progressive-era monetary policy (caveat lector: there are some scannos in this copy of the paper).
  • 1 February: It was quite a pleasure to see a full evening’s program from Company E, after having seen this young modern-dance organization at the VelocityDC Dance Festival showcase.
  • 1 March: The team faced down the sleety weather this morning to start the rounds of checking nest boxes.
  • 1 April: Bob Neidt takes a quick photo tour of retro motel properties in northern Virginia.
  • 3 May: A strong production of this audience favorite, certainly a standard against which other productions can be judged.
  • 2 June: Ed Yong watches John Hutchinson and his team dissect a Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis), our 3-meter long monitor lizard.
  • 5 July: Dave Taft offers a splendid 24-hours sampler of the wildlife to be found within New York City, be it animal, vegetable, or fungal; native or alien invasive.
  • 1 August: Juicy views of the model board at NYC’s West Fourth Street control tower.
  • 1 September: From time to time I would remember a TV series from my childhood with a fairly simple premise: whatever the problem at hand might be, it could be solved by hopping into an airboat and zipping through the bayous to the other end of the county.
  • 4 October: Sheila Callaghan’s new play, a satire of gender roles and social expectations about mental and physical fitness, features some high-energy set pieces: white girls rapping about how to satisfy them, a dance club that morphs into a Paris boîte in the 1920s, a food fight with heads of lettuce.
  • 1 November: Andy Goldsworthy talks to Terry Gross.
  • 4 December: A couple of quick snaps from a short trip to Boston for training and meetings, with a visit to our Digital Services unit.

The year in review:

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My year in contributions, 2015

The last-minute begging e-mails for the end of the year are still streaming in. Yet: please consider giving to one of the organizations below.

These are the groups and projects to which I gave coin (generally tax-deductible), property, and/or effort in 2015.

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My year in cities, 2015

Mucho travel this year, even a trip for my job. Overnight stays in 2015:

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My year in books, 2015

I have still one book to report on to Goodreads, but I can go ahead and set up the link now.

2014’s list.

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New venues, 2015

Didn’t get around much this year, but I did visit one performance space that is no more.

2014’s list. 2013’s list. 2012’s list. 2011’s list.

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Purity

RIP Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015).

Posted in In Memoriam, Painting | Comments Off on Purity

Some links: 75

Birds, habitat, coffee agriculture—and 10 ways of looking at Northern Virginia.

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Hwæt!

The deeds of Rudolph, Tundra-Wanderer, by Philip Chapman-Bell.

Þa in Cristesmæsseæfne stormigum clommum,
Halga Claus þæt gemunde to him maðelode:

Languagehat, who produced a more orthographically accurate version

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Baritone Darth

Lee, Randi, and Charlie, meet Frank Oglesby, voice of the MBTA.

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Connell decoded

In Mrs. Bridge, Evan S. Connell’s “log-log duplex decitrix” (Chapter 49) appears to be a small error for the Keuffel & Esser Log Log Duplex Decitrig slide rule.

Similarly, this sentence from Chapter 13, “Guest Towels,” is initially confusing:

She had a supply of Margab, which were the best, at least in the opinion of everyone she knew, and whenever guests were coming to the house she would put the ordinary towels in the laundry and place several of these little pastel towels in each of the bathrooms.

Slantwise searching turns up Cynthia’s Linen Room:

Marghab Linens were produced in Madeira, Portugal between 1934-1984 and were marketed as some of the finest embroidery of the time. Vera Way Marghab was the driving force behind the imaginative and beautiful designs executed by her company, Emile Marghab, Inc.

The linens were hand-embroidered as a home industry by the Madeirans.

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Happy

Featuring (now) full-time colleagues Alex and Maanvi.

And check out the cameo by Stacey at 1:39.

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And you are asking me this why?

AACT alerted me to a proposed IRS regulation that appears to have little justification. It proposes to provide an optional reporting mechanism for charitable contributions. The current system is simple: you get a letter with your name and how much you gave. The proposal on the table is for the charity to report your information on the Form 990 that it submits to the IRS. What’s the catch? To do that, the charity would have to collect and store your social security number.

The opportunities for identity theft and fraud are too scary to me.

Tim Delaney of the National Council of Nonprofits has the talking points.

The proposed regulation, Substantiation Requirement for Certain Contributions, is part of the Federal Register. Public comments are being solicited, but take note that the deadline for comments is next Wednesday, 16 December.

The Council of Nonprofits has guidelines for making effective public comments, as does regulations.gov.

Here is the comment that I posted:

I am writing as a small-dollar donor to many charitable organizations. On average, I give $50-100/year to each of about 50 organizations, with one larger donation each year in the $250-1000 range. I perform volunteer service for several nonprofit organizations. I am also a board member for a nonprofit; however, I am not writing today as a representative of that nonprofit.

The proposed regulation strikes me as unjustified; indeed, “The present CWA system works effectively, with minimal burden on donors and donees, and the Treasury Department and the IRS have received few requests since the issuance of TD 8690 to implement a donee reporting system.” The present system works for me, and I receive letters of acknowledgement from almost all the organizations to which I donate. I question the motivations and reasoning of the taxpayers referred to as “under examination for their claimed charitable contribution deductions” who argue in favor of the proposed amended Form 990. Surely someone with the financial wherewithal to make regular $250+ contributions can be expected to show due diligence and follow up with a donee organization to get timely CWA documentation.

I am troubled by the opportunities for identity theft and fraud that the proposed regulation would introduce. In my judgment, the requirement to securely transmit and store taxpayer identification numbers would be a burden on most smaller nonprofits. And to the extent that fears of identity theft would have a small, but real, chilling effect on the size and frequency of donations to nonprofits, I am deeply concerned.

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Regional

I finished my second cycle of writeups of National Wildlife Refuges that owe their existence to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund and the Duck Stamp. Rounding out the tour in USFWS Region 8 is Merced NWR, in California.

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Migrants

A reminder from BirdNote, with resource links, that shade-grown coffee is always a good idea.

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