(Based on my recollections, financial
records, and Kid#1's diary.)
Friday, August 1st
Called the IRS to try to find out WTF their problem is. No
luck. After 15 minutes on hold, interrupted every minute by a
recording that commanded me not to hang up, I hung up. I figured that
if they weren't going to answer quickly, they would probably prefer for me
to stay on hold for an hour so I could "soften up". I am not in the
habit of paying international long-distance phone charges for the privilege
of being abused—and I was calling a number that was specifically for
persons living outside the States. Although I could perhaps try again
from a hotel room during my trip, I decided to leave the IRS paperwork at
home, as if they had "just missed me" and their letter was waiting in my
mailbox upon my return. The IRS letter made no sense (later, my
accountants - TaxAct.com - concurred that
there was no obvious reason for the IRS to reject my deduction).
Because of cascading effects from the IRS to New Jersey's Dept. of Taxation,
I currently have $9,000 less money to my name than I had expected to have at
this time. I'll probably have to borrow some more against the house to
pay for the washer, dryer, and stove I bought from Home Depot on a "12
months no interest" plan. (They're an American company, so they were
able to extend credit to me based on my US credit rating.)
Saturday, August 2nd
Rented 3 DVD's from Blockbuster, to use in the DVD players in our hotel
rooms. Our home DVD player has been on the Fritz for some time; one
of these days I'm supposed to take it apart, give it my "magic touch", and
get it functioning again. That probably won't work unless the
underlying problem is that the laser's lens is dirty. I bought this
player back in 2001, because it was available at Boscov’s and there was a
cheat code for it on a website. Macrovision® and Region Coding are
of no value to me, only to the media barons, so I wanted a player that
would work for me (the owner) rather than for Hollywood (the bully).
Sunday, August 3rd
Got the Voyager's oil changed at Jiffy Lube. Also they replaced the
dead brake light, and all three windshield wipers, and replenished the
washer fluid (it was so low that its idiot light was illuminated).
Of course, it would be much cheaper to do these things myself, but I never
get around to it. They reminded me that the transmission fluid was
overdue for replacement, so I had them do a full transfusion. They
showed me the tranny magnet, which was covered in metal filings.
Apparently my vehicle was heading towards a high risk of transmission
failure due to particulates in the fluid. I was supposed to return
in a week to have the transmission bolts retightened, but haven't gotten
around to it yet. Maybe this week.
Stopped by Wal*Mart to get a fresh bag of Walnut’s usual dog food, to
make his kennel experience less upsetting. Wal*Mart is not
the cheapest store in Canada, perhaps because they are not getting quite
as big a subsidy here as the US govt gives them—properly paid
near-full-time workers of a major corporation should not need food
Monday, August 4th
The big day. Dropped off the dog at the kennel in the next village. Wifey had set a target time of 1 PM for beginning the
drive, but her weeks(!) of preparation had gone so well that she was
actually ready to leave several hours before that. I was not.
After deffox told me that US tax forms
should be done before the Canadian ones for my first year, I put off the US
forms until their deadline (June 15th for us nonresidents). By then
the Canadian forms were already six weeks overdue. There is apparently
no lateness penalty for paupers who don't owe any tax (my earnings last year
were below the poverty line, although I am doing much better this
year). So I continued to put it off. But the time for dawdling
had now run out.
Before my last trip to the States, in January, I had
worried that there would be trouble because my car was still registered in
New Jersey, so there was a last-minute scramble to get Ontario versions of
licence, insurance, and registration. At the border, they did indeed
ask me why I had re-registered my car so recently, and confirmed that there
would have been trouble had I attempted to re-enter Canada in a vehicle with
This time, the worry was that they would ask me why my
taxes were late. I actually do not know whether Border Patrol has
access to such information, but I thought it better to have copies of the
completed forms with me to confirm my claim that "I mailed them before I
left". So I needed completed forms, preferably copies of ones that had
actually been mailed.
The forms were mostly complete, but I needed to print
out the 60(!) pages from
and determine which were actual forms to file and which were part of the
"presentation package" designed to make UFile's fee seem more
reasonable. The actual forms needed to be printed a second time and
then mailed in, which involved a walk to the local bakery/convenience
store/greasy spoon/post office (with free wireless Internet!).
We got under
weigh at 1:10 PM. Spent $80 on gas. We drove along the QEW,
which avoids Downtown Hamilton by crossing over the southwest corner of Lake
Ontario, on a bridge that looks (in Google Maps) to be about 6 km
long! That lake is so big, it might as well be an ocean.
Our pre-printed directions from Mapquest.com had us going over the
Queenston-Lewiston bridge into New York, but electronic signs on the QEW
informed us that said bridge had an hour's wait, so we used the Rainbow bridge
for tourists in Niagara Falls. Unlike last time, there were no attack
dogs today, but there were vast quantities of armed officers standing
around, pretending to look for trouble. "Security Theatre" does not
make me proud to be an American.
We returned to our pre-printed directions at the New York State
Thruway, which runs parallel to the lake but 40 km to the
south. Like southwestern Ontario, much of this area of New York
consists of mile after mile of farmland, dotted with occasional
cities. We arrived at our hotel in Utica in time for my family to
use the pool, while I tried to get in some work hours for Company
𝔾. We ate food that Wifey had prepared at home for us. We were only halfway there.