When it rains, it pours

It has not been the greatest few weeks. In fact, it’s been a downright terrible two weeks, in many ways, with the exception of the rather awesome wedding.

The bedbug bites haven’t gone away yet, and in fact actually look a little angrier. But at least I haven’t gained any new ones since getting home.

It seems unlikely at this point that they will be faded by the time I have to get married. Fortunately there aren’t many on my hands, and I’ll be wearing long sleeves, but still. Argh blargh.
Time to look into makeup, maybe? Anyone know what kinds of concealer work well on arms for bug bites?

But on the other hand, Greg woke up on Friday with a couple of bites, and even more on Saturday. (His upper arm now looks a lot like mine.) Cue the freaking out that we missed something in our large sterilization campaign upon coming home. (It was a rather unhappy Saturday.) We spent most of the weekend cleaning the apartment for the inspector and trying in vain to find evidence of bedbugs.
Further research, however, shows that bedbug bites can take up to 14 days (!) to show up. So it’s entirely possible that we don’t actually have bedbugs, and all the bites are actually from the hotel in Florida. (This is supported by the fact that I have gotten no new bites since coming home, and he’d shown only two bites when we left Florida.)
We have an exterminator coming tomorrow to do an inspection to hopefully confirm the lack of bedbugs (or find evidence and put a plan in place). So that’s fun. But expensive. So yay for that.

Particularly so because OMG WEDDING THINGS is happening. There seems to be a pretty infinite list of last-minute things to do and the fact that I’m getting married in less than two weeks is finally sinking in. Super stressed out in general about that and trying to get everything done.
Fortunately, all the big things are done, so regardless of how much we drop the ball in the upcoming weeks, there’s still going to be a wedding. So that’s comforting at least.
(I kind of want to do a breakdown of all wedding costs once they’re finalized, but it looks like we’re going to be between $22k and $23k overall. Which is way over our initial estimate, but rather in line with our revised expectations. It’s been really weird spending money like this, and it isn’t something I want to get in the habit of doing, but hell if it hasn’t been really freeing to just be able to throw cash around on wedding-related things.)

I read an article today about how criminals were signing up accounts on the IRS website for people, downloading previous years’ tax returns, filing fake 2014 tax returns, and pocketing the improper refunds. So I went to sign up on the website… only to be told that the account already exists. So it seems very likely that I have been identity thieved, and I’ll have to contact the IRS tomorrow.
I would just freeze my credit, but then that would interfere with mortgage applications in the event that we actually do find a house to buy. Argh.
(If you want to sign up an account for yourself for protection, go to http://www.irs.gov/, click the “Get Transcript of Your Tax Records” link under “Tools”, and click the “Get Transcript ONLINE” button.)

Hopefully tomorrow brings good bedbug news and IRS resolutions. But I’m not counting on it. :\

Florida, wedding, bedbugs (D: D: D:)

We just got back from Florida from Mark and ZoĆ«’s wedding. The wedding was really nice, and it was awesome to see everyone again.
(Photos from that will be up at photos at some point.)

But the awesomeness was rather eclipsed by the finding that our hotel (and our bed) had bed bugs. The first night I didn’t get too many bites, and found them the next day and assumed they were from random flying things since we’d been outside most of the day. The second night I guess they all found that I existed, and all of this happened:

(My forearm is about as bad, and my other arm is only slightly less unhappy. Also my feet are super sad.)
Mostly confirmed with bloodsplatters in the sheets and bug poop in the mattress edges.

So instead of coming home and being able to relax and get ready for work tomorrow, we’ve spent the past 4.5 hours sorting through things, running clothing through the washer and dryer, running other heatable things through the dryer, and manually inspecting everything else (like cameras, lenses, laptops). Also, amusingly, my wallet and iPad case are currently in the freezer. (Apparently sustained cold for a few months will kill everything too.)

If anyone has suggestions on what to do about the backpacks, that’d be useful. Right now our plan is to run one through the dryer and put the other (that has gel straps) into a sealed plastic bag for a year along with our dress shoes.

Houses, taxes

We had some interesting house adventures last week. I was about to get on a plane from Phoenix to San Francisco when we found a house that we wanted to make an offer on. Cue frantic mortgage approving and docusigning of a bunch of stuff before the flight, followed by more frantic phone calls (after midnight Pittsburgh time) after I landed, followed by more signing.
The house was popular and had 5 offers on it, so the next day was more phone conversations about various contingencies and whether we should relax some of them. and raising the offer. The house was listed at $415k and we ended up making an offer of $425k on it.
The contingency our agent was advocating changing was a $10k reduction in the appraisal (so it would only need to appraise for $415k). In the end, we decided that probably wasn’t a good thing to do (we didn’t like the house so much that we would pay $425k for a house only worth $415k), but we did allow for the first $1k of repairs from the inspection to be covered by us.
We ended up not getting the house in the end, which was just as well. We heard from our agent that the house had sold for $435k with a waived appraisal contingency, and it had only appraised for $411k. So that’s hilarious, and I feel bad for the people whose agent told them to drop the appraisal.

I’ve also finished up my taxes. It seems they get more complicated every year… my federal and state taxes this year are a 100-page PDF (including all supplemental forms and estimated tax payment forms). The thing that particularly annoyed me this year was a change (apparently mandated by the IRS?) on how brokerages reported the cost basis for ESPP sales.
When you gain stock through an ESPP purchase, you get a discount on the purchase of the stock. When you sell the stock, this discounted amount is reported as income on your W-2, while the remainder of the gains (or loss) are taxed normally as capital gains.
The change this year is that the cost basis on your 1099-B (and reported to the IRS) is the discounted price. Which means that, unless you manually correct your reported cost basis, you’ll be paying tax twice on that discount (once as income, included in your W-2, and once as part of capital gains taxes). There’s a good article about it here.

In any event, I guess I understand my taxes well enough to make a statement like this now:

The cost basis reported on your eTrade 1099-B form (and reported to the IRS) is wrong. You must do a manual adjustment (column g) with reason “B” (column f) on your 8949, or you’ll be double-taxed on the ESPP discount amount (included as ordinary income in your W-2, and also included as capital gains on your 1099-B).

which is both hilarious and rather depressing. Taxes should not be this difficult. :\
(I guess the IRS figured I’d had enough time to master the art of reporting my RSU vestings, so they threw a new thing at me.)

If anyone is using Turbo Tax, you have to correct this manually via the “Add more Details” checkbox under each stock sale. Select “I need to add or fix info about this sale”, choose “The form 1099-B shows an incorrect cost basis”, and enter the adjusted cost basis. Also double check that the 8949 form was generated with correct values in columns f and g (“B” and the adjustment amount) before filing the return.

This post has been too much text. Have a panorama.

Phoenix, San Francisco

Work wanted me to make a trip out (as seems to be the norm every February), but since we had Phantom tickets for yesterday, and my coworker could only make a trip out the last week of February, I reversed the usual schedule and went to Phoenix to visit my parents for a week before heading out to SF.

I left on Valentine’s day. It had been snowing a bit all morning, but as soon as the 28X bus hit the freeway, it really started to come down. Visibility was terrible, and the bus was crawling along the freeway at around 10 MPH.

But I get to the airport with plenty of time anyway, and we board the plane on time. Visibility still isn’t great.

Most of the way through boarding, the captain comes on the speaker and says they’re temporarily stopping boarding because the flight is going to be delayed. A bit after that he tells us all to deplane because air traffic control had shut down the runways (due to wind, snow, and lack of no-wind/snow so they can plow the runways) and they didn’t know if they would open again before Monday.
So I sit on hold with Southwest’s customer service number for about 90 minutes, when they announce that the wind has stopped long enough that the airport can plow. So we quickly re-board, get de-iced, and take off only about 2.5 hours late. Not too bad, all things considered.

But anyway, because I was flying Pittsburgh to Phoenix, I went from snowy 0Fs to sunny high-70Fs. So that was interesting.

My parents and I made a trip out to the Amazing Arizona Comic Con (interesting, I suppose, but not really worth admission if you’re not particularly into modern superheroes) and Cirque du Soleil Varekai (amazing). We also ate at 4 all-you-can-eat buffets over the week. So hooray for food.

The following week of work was fairly uneventful. Didn’t get to see as many people as I was hoping, since everyone seems to be super busy with work and life now. But it was good seeing my coworkers face-to-face again, and it reminded me how much I miss it.

More photos from the trip can be found at my photos site.

Life, climbing, work, expenses

My photo journal has been updated to bring it up to today.
After the holidays, life has returned to its usual habit of climbing on Tuesday, board games on Thursday, and climbing (plus food) on Friday. It’s a nice routine, and it means I get out of the house, so that’s good.
Climbing and gaming photos from January have also made it up at photos.

Traverse party!

I made a bad thing at work. During some refactoring for a feature I built for the last release, I apparently failed to notice that the class I was pulling code out of was a singleton, so I added instance variables in the base class. The feature in question was a login feature, so the end result was a concurrency bug where users could get logged in as other users.
Oops.
Lesson learned: Singletons are dangerous. Be careful when using them and probably avoid them for things that don’t want state to be shared (like a global whitelist or something), even if they don’t currently have any state.

I’ve belatedly crunched all my expenses from the past year. As expected, 2014 is the year that breaks my spending trend: I spent $11,664.02 in 2011, $12,356.83 in 2012, $13,698.12 in 2013, and $15,821.38 in 2014 (not including wedding expenses).
The responsibility for this lies almost entirely in food expenditures, up around $1,200 from $3,804.70 to $5,081.34 (or a monthly average of $317.06 to $423.45). I guess I’ve been eating out a lot more or something this past year.
Everything else has remained fairly flat, including my $50/month discretionary budget, which hasn’t changed since 2004. Which is surprising given the four weddings we attended in 2014 (travel expenditures of $1,390.13 in 2013 versus $1,787.94 in 2014).
My share of the wedding expenses so far (save the dates, invitations, deposits, scheduled payments) total $2,953.74, which ultimately puts 2014 expenditures at $18,775.12. Not so bad. That’s still under what I was spending in SF (with an average rent and utilities of $1,200 to $1,600 compared to the current $450 to $500), even though monthly food expenditures have more than doubled since then.

Wedding plans continue. The next big thing, I think, is the honeymoon. We’re currently planning a UK and France trip for that, which should be a lot of fun, but argh long plane flights. Hooray for things?