Via SF Signal, President and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental, Carol H. Rasco has issued a press release regarding President Bush’s elimination of funding for the Reading Is Fundamental Historic Distribution Program. In part, she says:
President Bush’s proposed budget calling for the elimination of Reading Is Fundamental’s (RIF) Inexpensive Book Distribution program would be devastating to the 4.6 million children and their families who receive free books and reading encouragement from RIF programs at nearly 20,000 locations throughout the U.S.
I donate money to RIF out of every paycheck. It’s a good, sound program and why on earth anyone would cut funding for it is beyond comprehension. But then again, “against stupidity, the very gods themselves contend in vain.” With this President in office, I can only wonder how the gods have maintained their sanity.
I graduated from University of California, Riverside 13 years ago today. I have only the vaguest memories of my graduation ceremony, but I do remember how hot it was. (In fact, the graduation scene at the opening of my soon-to-be-appearing story “When I Kissed the Learned Astronomer” comes from memories of my own graduation.)
A few months back, I mentioned that my June/July donation would be a combined donation to UCR. Since it is close to July and since today marks a nice anniversary date, I am preparing to send the donation out today. I’m giving my school $400 this year. I’m directing that $300 of it go to the Creative Writing department and that $100 go to the Political Science department. Granted, I was a political science major and a creative writing minor, it is the creative writing part of my work that I am most proud of at this point and I probably would have given up on it were it not for the encouragement of some of the professors in that department.
This brings my total donations for the first half of 2007 to $1,165, which is not as much as I wish it could be, but is still better than what I did last year.
April’s donation went to the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debates. I just put the May donation in the mail: $200 to AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation, an organization dedicated to making flying safer for general aviation pilots. In the past, I’ve given them $100/year, but I decided to double it this year because general aviation has been struggling under potential user fees, not to mention the media scrutiny after accidents like Corey Lidle’s crash last October.
Next on the list, for the month of July* is the University of California, Riverside‘s creative writing and political science departments.
* What happened to June? This year, I have budgeted $200/month for charitable donations. But I don’t necessarily send out $200 donations to 12 different organizations each year. I am planning on sending $400 to UCR ($300 to creative writing and $100 to political science) and that $400 comes from the June/July budget.
This last week or so I’ve been flooded with more “real” mail than I normally get. Yesterday was no different. I received two packages yesterday. One was a gift from Bonnie & Tom: a biography of Charles Lindbergh that they found in a used bookstore. The other one surprised me because I completely forgot about it:
More than I month ago, I donated some money to Comic Relief 2006 which was held to raise money for Katrina victims. I donated enough to warrant receiving both a Comic Relief 2006 sweatshirt and T-shirt. And I completely forgot about it. Normally, you get a “thank you” letter or email, but I never got anything to remind me that I had even done this–until yesterday. The second package contained my sweatshirt and t-shirt.
There was also a very nice “Christmas” letter from Tricia’s mom. And, suspiciously, no bills.
Speaking of which, I got paid a day early this week (today!) because of the holidays this week and next week. This marks my last paycheck of 2006 and so I can start to prepare all my paperwork for the accountant and get that out of the way. I won’t get my W-2’s until January, but at least I can get everything else together.
I’ve already been more productive today than I was all day yesterday. I got the kitchen cleaned up, and all the trash collected. I got my desk cleared off and got my book database updated with recent purchases that were sitting in a pile on my desk. I’ve also got a couple of loads of laundry under way.
I watched part of Comic Relief 2006 on HBO last night. I decided to TiVo the whole thing from the west coast feed because I wanted to go to bed. Before going to bed, however, I did make a donation. The money goes to rebuilding neighborhoods in New Orleans, which is a good cause.
Zeke was playing this morning and got his paw caught under the fridge. It was caught on something and he was scared and when I went to get him free, he hissed at me twice–for the third and fourth time in his life. I got him free pretty quickly and as soon as he was free he calmed down, but he must have been really scared because he really cried and hissed at me.
One thing I did over the weekend was to re-reun my financial modeling software (this is software I developed over a period of 10 years that projects every single financial transaction I will make into the future based on a given starting point, and that I use in place of things like Quicken) which is something I haven’t done in quite some time. There were some adjustments that needed to be made.
1. I wanted to add more to my retirement accounts.
2. I wanted to increase the amount of money I donate to charity.
I’ve been pretty bad at the latter this year. As it stands, I donate about 2.5% of my income to charity. I’m trying to get that up to 5%. As far as retirement goes, I’d cut back on how much I was putting into retirement in order to pay some big bills. Now that the big bills have been paid, I’m upping my contribution to $400/paycheck ($200/week). This is still a few thousand dollars short of the maximum allowed for tax deductions, but I’m getting there.
I put together a budget for charitable donations for the rest of this calendar year. Next year I’m looking to increase the amounts and within 2 or 3 years, I hope to be at my 5% mark. Some of the bigger ticket charitable donations this year:
- Isaac Asimov Memorial Lecture: $500
- UC Riverside Annual Fund: $350
- AOPA Air Safety Foundation: $200
- WETA President’s Circle Membership (my local PBS): $150
There are a number of smaller ticket items and it looks as though I have a little left over so if anyone has suggestions for good causes, let me know and I will look into them.
Finally, I need to do a little cost cutting. I started today by cancelling my NetFlix subscription. NetFlix is a great service, but I find that I hardly use it anymore. (The movies I have out now I’ve had for a couple of months.) The $240/year that I will save on NetFlix, for instance, completely covers the AOPA Air Safety Foundation donation.
There is more cost-cutting to be done, but I’ve got to take a closer look at my model to see where I can do it.
Smithsonian Institution, of which I am a national member, has a program called “Adopt-a-library” to which I have been contributing for several years now, and today I mailed in a check to “re-adopt” two libraries for the coming year. The program provides the libraries with subscriptions to NATURAL HISTORY magazine for a full year. It doesn’t cost very much money ($18 per library) and it really helps libraries, whose funds are always being cut these days.
For the past three or four years now, I’ve adopted to the two libraries that had the greatest impact on me:
1. The Franklin Township Library in Somerset, New Jersey. This is the first public library I ever attended and it was this library that introduced me to science and astronomy through a book called The Nine Planets by Franklyn Mansfield Branley. I checked this book out of the library repeatedly and read it until I had the book memorized. It is because of this book that I learned to love science, astronomy and science fiction and for that I am forever grateful. Imagine if that library were not there when I was 6 or 7 years old!
2. The Granada Hills Public Library in Granada Hills, California. This was the first library for which I had a library card of my very own. I spent a lot of time in this library, checking out books, and reading books. I loved it. I would go there, and check out books, and then read them while I walked home (about a mile). I was free to roam about the library and no one was telling me what I could and could not read, and so I sampled a bit of everything that attracted my twelve-year-old attention. (Yes, including that famous book Girls and Sex which I read with fascination over a period of several Saturdays in a cubicle at the library because I was too afraid to bring it up to the front desk to check it out.
There are lots of great library programs out there. Support them if you can!