Thursday, December 22, 2011


Ebay Selling

I am starting to sell Native American Jewelry & Crafts on Ebay. I plan to include links to items I have for sale in the near future.

Stay Tuned

Saturday, March 25, 2006


About Me

I am an Engineer, now self employed part time. I spend most of my time volunteering with Christian & other charitable organizations. I am a member of a Christian Reformen Church and a student at Reformed Theological Seminary. Grier Daniels is a pen name. I do not want to use my real name online. If you want to check me out to make sure I am for real, leave me a comment and then check back in a day or two. I'll leave a comment with my e-mail address. I would be happy to correspond with anyone who has queations.


Grier Daniels

Monday, March 20, 2006


Definition: Sustainability - What is It and Why Should We Care?

From time to time, terms expand beyond the Webster’s definition to the point that everybody uses them but nobody really knows what they mean. A good example is the word “organic”. All chemicals containing carbon chains are organic. All food comes from an organism and is hence organic. When we hear "organic food" we know that this is not what is meant, but what does it really mean? Many legal actions have been necessary because using the word “organic” on a food label is subject to so many different interpretations.

"Sustainability” is one of those words. In my engineering practice I first encountered its use in the term “sustainable buildings”. Initially I thought they meant buildings that were easy to maintain and lasted a long time. I quickly figured out that was not correct. It sounded like it had something to do with the environment. What were they talking about?

This term is now in regular use in certain professions and academic settings but has not yet come into much popular use. I expect this to change. This is the 21’st century word. If you havn’t heard it yet, you will hear it in the near future. Let’s try to head off the confusion.

The best definition I have found comes from


"The ability to provide for the needs of the world's current population without damaging the ability of future generations to provide for themselves. When a process is sustainable, it can be carried out over and over without negative environmental effects or impossibly high costs to anyone involved."

The essence of this concept is looking at the long term impact of our actions while dealing with our short term needs. This has grown out of the environmental movement and initially dealt with environmental issues. It has grown to include social, economic, and resource management issues. As a ‘catch phrase” it’s usage will expand into many other fields.

Our culture is a “catch phrase” culture. Words like sustainability make great sound bites. This cultural phenomenon is annoying but before we allow ourselves to be annoyed lets think about this idea.

It has often been pointed out that the corporate world is under so much pressure to make the next quarter’s earnings report look good, that it is difficult to make short term sacrifices for long term benefits. We can all agree that this is unhealthy.

For individuals, the ability to forgo short term pleasure to pursue long term goals is a hallmark of maturity. Our society is fixated on instant gratification, indicating its immaturity. Credit card debt is at record levels and personal saving is at a low. Maybe it’s time for us to grow up.

“Sustainability” is a catch phrase and sound bites are a symptom of our short cultural attention span. But as we become annoyed with the inevitable overuse of this word, lets remember that this very annoyance is a symptom of the social immaturity that “sustainability” is trying to address.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Shutterfly: A Great Place to Print Digital Pictures

So you got that great new digital camera for Christmas and now you are trying to turn all those megapixels into prints that you can mail to Grandma. We faced the same question last year when we got our camera. Our friend John turned us on to He was adamant that we just had to use them, as far as he was concerned there was no other place to go.

John is an avid amateur photographer and technophile. He is also famous for squeezing a nickel so hard that Thomas Jefferson offered him the Louisiana Purchase. So we thought we’ed humor him and give a try.

Well, we found out what had John so excited. allows us to upload our pictures to their server. We can store them there as long as we want, as many as we want A great way to back up our “treasured memories”. We can also grant access to our stored pictures to friends and relatives so they can download them or order prints themselves.

They have editing and cropping software to fine tune our pictures and get rid of red eye.

Pricing is super competitive and service is top notch. Check them out and see why John got so excited. You may find cheaper but I don't think you'll find better.
Free picture online share

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Volunteer Tax Help Part 4

I pulled another shift on Wednesday. Friday is my usual day but they had extra clients from a Senior Citizen's Center. There was one lady in particular who I enjoyed meeting. She was born in 1915. I did not have enough fingers and toes to figure out the she was 90 years old. At first I was not comfortable with her. She came in with another lady and waited while I did her taxes first. She just sat there, almost as if she wasn't there.

When got ready to do her taxes, the first lady to me that she was deaf and almost blind. I use somewhat uneasy as I shouted, "Are you ready to do your taxes now?" Well, her face lit up as if she had come to life. She was animated and very pleasant. She was very sharp mentally. I had to yell at her but when she understood me, she responded clearly with intellegence.

When we finished, it was time for her to sign the tax forms. I cleared a spot on the desk that I hoped would be convenient for her. I handed her the pen and pointed to where I had put a red X next to the signiture blanks. She just sat there. I felt stupid when I realized she could not see the page. We laughed together. I held her left index finger and put it on the paper next to the signiture blank. She clearly and carefully wrote her name next to her finger. We had to do that 4 times.

When we were done she asked me how much it cost. I told her nothing. I don't think she understood what they had said at the Senior Center about this being a free service.

Meeting people like her makes Volunteering fun.

Grier Daniels


Another Day at Tax Help New Mexico

I worked another shift at Tax Help New Mexico on Friday. It was not a particularly good day. I could complete the returns for only about half of the clients. The others did not have all their infomation. The waitng room was full. We planned to be open until 2:00 but had to start turning people away at 12:30. We did not finish until 2:30. I drank half a diet soda ( unusual for me) and started getting migraine symptoms for the first time in several years. I wonder if it is the Aspartame.

On the other hand I did meet some good people. One young man had to get his taxes done that day because he was leaving for Marine Boot Camp on monday. A teacher had taken the day off to come in. He had some tuition for continuing education that he could take some credit for. He did not have his records with him. After a while we figured out that he could call the University on my cell phone and find out the exact amount. I'm glad that we could get his finished, as otherwise he would have had to take another day off.

There are other interesting people and good stories I could tell but I am afraid it might compromise confidentiality.

Tax Tips:


Another Shift at NM Tax Help

I spent another day volunteering at New Mexico Tax Help. (See previous posts for info.)

I helped a number of clients with their taxes. The waiting room was full the whole time (10am-2pm) There was another volunteer there for about the first half of that time.

Around noon my wife came by and we made plans to have a late lunch at 2:00.

Just before 2:00, done of the clients came into the work area and asked how long I would be there. I said "I guess until I am done."

A staff worker came to my rescue and told most of the people in the waiting room to come back another day. She set me up with one more client to help after I finished the one I was working on.

Turns out, the tax return for the person I was helping at that time could not be filed electronically because one of her W2's had a typographical error on it. One of the staff workers informed her that she could hand correct the typo, attach a note to her return explaining the problem and file by mail. I printed two copies of the return and gave them to her. I said, "Just write the note, correct thet W2 and mail it in. She looked at me kind of puzzled. I asked her, "Have you ever mailed in your return before? She said she had never done that, she had always had it done for her at a tax service.

I helped her correct the W2 and write the note. I said she just needed to sign it and mail it in. Hoping to get to the next client. She did know the correct address. I tried to look it up in Pub 17 but was not finding it very quickly. I was anxious to help the next couple who had been waiting for a long time. I asked her to take a seat nearby and that I would go ahead and help the next couple. I would ask one of the staff people to help her with the address as soon as one of them came by.

I started with the next client, keeping an eye out for the staff workers. None ever came. When my wife showed up about two, the lady had been waiting a long time. I asked my wife to help her. They got it all squared away.

I finished with the next couple in about 15 minutes. We left at about 2;30 and had a great lunch of pita sandwiches at a middle eastern restaurant nearby.

Right in the middle of lunch it hit me. I told my wife I completely forgot about helping her with mailing in her state tax forms. My wife, being the sharp one of the family anyway, told me she had taken care of that. She bailed me out.

I resolved to take some large preaddressed envelopes with me next time.

Grier Daniels


Tax Help New Mexico - First Day

Well, Monday was my first day as a volunteer. The Volunteer Coordinator said he would call me about setting up my schedule.

Monday morning I got a calll from my wife saying the the volunteer coordinator had called for me at home. They were swamped and needed me to com in and help.

I did not understand her message though and thought that he just wanted me to call him to set up my schedule.

I was near the office so I figured I'd stop by and see him instead of calling. When I got there he pretty much said "You can use this computer, Please help this gentleman with is tax return.


So I buckeled down and got started. He only had Social Security income, no W2's no 1099's. I ended taking almost an hour getting his taxes done. The client was elderly, friendly and very patient with me.

I saw two more clients. One had worked but did not have a W2. He had SSI income and they did not tell me he had worked until I was almost finished. As he was elderly I did not think to ask. Stupid me.

Turns out that he had worked for a ranch out of state that hired mainly migrant workers. English was hs second language. One pf the other volunteers who knew what she was doing referred him to an employment counselor who got on the telephone with the employer to make sure he got his W2.

The third client was not happy because she felt tat the tax return was not big enough. She said that someone she knew with the exact same income had gone to a paid service and had gotten $100 more. She was disabled. I had the other volunteers check my work and they said the tax return looked right to them. We ended up giving her a copy of the return to take home with her so she could compare it to hers friend's return.

Well I guess 1 outta 3 ain't bad for a rookie.

We set up a regular volunteer schedule for me to work 1 day a week (fridays).

Lets hope I can improve my batting average.

Grier Daniels

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Where do You get Your Taxes Done

Working with taxes has roused my curosity. How many of you do your own taxes? If not do you have them done by an accountact or a tax service? How much does it cost?

I do my own taxes unless there is something new and unusual to deal with. For the past couple of years I have used Turbotax.

Have any of you used TaxCut Standard? It also appears to be a good program.

When I have needed someone else to do my taxes, I have usually gone to a CPA. I have had mixed results. Not all CPA's are created equal.

One year I used HR Block. It went pretty well. I was favorably impressed, but I suspect that it depends on the particular person at their office that is assigned to you.

Please comment and tell me what you do and what your experiences have been.

Turbo Tax

Tax Cut
Do your taxes with H&R Block's TaxCut Software. Just Plain Smart.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Last Minute cheap-air-flights-cheap-last-minute-airline-ticket

Do you have to fly on short notice?

It is hard to get cheap air flights or a cheap last minute airline ticket. To get a good price on an airline ticket you usually have to buy your tickets at least a month in advance.

If you are stuck trying to get an affordable (OK, cheap) ticket try

Last Minute Travel

At last a convenient place to buy short notice tickets at great prices.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?