Please be on the lookout for Stephanie’s handknit sweater. She lost it somewhere in the Toronto Pearson Airport. If you see it, please contact Stephanie to arrange for return. IF you have to turn it into lost & found, please use this claim number: LNFAC44477. This sweater is so important to her. I hope somebody finds it!
Update from Stephanie (10/27/09): Please feel free to repost the information and photo to any groups that might be appropriate. I just talked to the Toronto Airport Lost and Found, and the sweater hasn’t been turned in yet. My claim number is apparently just for Air Canada, so if you find it and turn it in, please give them my name and tell them there’s already a claim on file. Or, if for some reason you’ve found it or someone who has it, you can call me on my business line at 605-413-4531. Thanks.
This year I am giving you something nobody else can — another compartment in the RV for yarn stash! The first picture is the hole left when we removed the 19″ tube TV. The second picture is what it will look like when the new door I’m ordering arrives. And the third picture is the door opening and yarn falling out. (Artists conception, projected completion date Sept 2009.) Love, -John
In Part 1 I discussed using Bill Pay to reduce your front-end work at going paperless. In Part 2, I will quickly cover scanning, shredding, online storage, and the all-important regular backup. But first a disclaimer: Electronic record keeping as a replacement for real paper is governed by many overlapping laws, rules and corporate policies, the most important one being IRS Revenue Procedure 97-22. It is my understanding that the IRS will accept printouts from electronic copies as long as they contain all the same information as the paper records are required to have such as date, amount, etc. However, many stores will require original receipts, so saving receipts is still necessary at least until you know you won’t be returning anything. I am not an accountant nor a lawyer. Please seek professional guidance on creating your own paperless system before destroying your real papers!
Ok, let’s get started. The first step in going paperless is scanning. Scanners are very inexpensive now and you do not need anything other than a flat-bed scanner. However, a document feeder is handy for scanning stacks of papers. Simply scan your papers in a format such as JPEG or PDF. I find 150DPI is adequate resolution while keeping file size small. Give the files meaningful names. I name files using the date, who it came from, a reference number, what it is, and a page number. For example: 2008-01-31-WellsFargo-1234-Statement-1.jpg. Then I put the file in a directory/folder named “Paperless” on my hard drive. I create directories for each year and subdirectories inside those for each major entity or category. Make your own directory structure that makes sense to you. In my opinion, this type of organization system is only scalable enough for individuals and small businesses. Larger businesses should look at commercial applications for indexing and securing the records in a multi-user environment. And it’s worth mentioning that the computer you are using should be reasonably secure physically and/or cryptographically from data theft. For the original document you may choose to continue to file it in your real-paper files (a good idea during the transition period) or you may choose to shred them. If you choose to shred them, you may want to delay shredding until after your periodic backups are done, just in case. Note that there are some documents that should never be shredded — use common sense — they don’t call them vital records for nothing. Finally, and most importantly, you must backup your records on a regular basis! A simple copy of your paperless directories to a CD-R or external hard drive on a weekly basis will do. Keep the backup media in a safe place away from your computer. A less regular off-site backup is recommended as well — perhaps a monthly CD-R that you put in your safe-deposit box. That’s all there is to it!
So today was my birthday. We went to the Kennedy Space Center and did the “Up Close Tour”. We saw the shuttle on the pad (but the orbiter itself was hidden beneath the rotating service structure), the assembly buildings, Saturn V exhibit, etc. We experienced the Shuttle Launch Simulator. On the nature side, we saw 2 bald eagle nests (no eagles), a few alligators, and lots of birds. I learned some things I didn’t know before. For example:
The sparks you see beneath the shuttle main engines are not to ignite the engines, they are to burn off any hydrogen that might pool down there.
The water that you see pouring down over the launch tower (and in the fire trenches) is 400,000 gallons of water pumped onto the launch pad in less than 30 seconds. It’s purpose: To absorb the sound that would otherwise damage the structures. As a bonus it sucks up heat — thus the plumes of steam at liftoff.
Speaking of heat vs. sound. The heat is lethal as you would expect but only to about 400 feet. The sound pressure is surprisingly lethal to 800 feet!
The closest humans to the shuttle at liftoff, besides the astronauts, are the advance fire fighter team at about 1 mile. They wear fireproof suits and sit in armored personnel carriers. In rare cases a VIP has been able to get a seat with them — typically a politically connected decorated firefighter.
Before launch they set off pyrotechnics to scare wildlife away to minimize the impact — see heat and sound above.
We also saw where they are assembling the International Space Station Modules like Canada’s manipulator arm (thanks for the hand, eh.)
We will be in Titusville on the 7th for launch — it’s the best place to view if you don’t have a ticket for the NASA causeway, which sell out minutes after going on sale 6 months before launch.
There is a night launch on March 11th and we’ll probably catch that one too.
The Shuttle Program is scheduled to end in 2010, BTW. So if you haven’t been there, done that, consider it.
One of the things that we decided before moving into the RV was to go completely “paperless” with regards to bank statements, bills, receipts, and all manner of paper clutter. For most bills it was easy as we have been using a bill-pay service for the last 10 years. MYEZBills.com, previously known as Status Factory, is not the usual free bill-pay service you get with your bank account but rather a full-service bill pay that costs about $20/mo. Basically you change your billing address to their address, they open your bills, scan them, and the best part: they pay your bills using rules you set! For example, I set the electric bill to be automatically paid 10 days before it is due, as long as it’s under $150. All your bills are paid on-time, every time, with no effort. This is especially important now that we are traveling full-time with mail being forwarded once per week at best. You can set fixed amounts or you can have them pay the minimum payment or you can have them send you an email to manually intervene. And you can view and download all your bills as PDFs on their secure web server and even order an annual CD-ROM for archival purposes. It’s the bomb! All payments are made directly out of your bank account and most of the time it even has the full description of the bill payment on your bank statement, unlike cashed checks which simply show the check number and amount. The only caveat with a service like this is you must maintain an adequate balance in your back account.
In my next post I’ll detail how we went paperless with everything else, including scanning, shredding, online storage, and the all-important regular backup.