Thursday, January 31, 2008

Checking in

Yes I know I promised that I would write on my blog every day. Sometimes I just cannot think of much to say. I am just not very creative sometimes. Things are going well for me. I have made a promise to myself to do my personal income taxes before April comes around. In fact it is a New Years resolution , the only one that I make , and the only one that I have made every year for the past 3 years. One year, I got a pretty sizeable refund, so yes, I changed my exemption status. I simply do not like loaning the government money if i don't have to!I will get my taxes done just as soon as I get some more forms from my bank which I should get any day now. I have my w-2s, and the rest of the information I need other than the 1099s I need from my bank. I keep my filing simple and as concise as possible.I even listen to money talk on the radio and I must be getting REALLY old because I really enjoy it. I do not play the stock market. I tend to be VERY CONSERVATIVE with everything in my life, especially when it comes to my money. I like having some fun every now and then, but I am at that point in my life when I need to start planning for retirement. That is if I ever do retire. LOL

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Well, it has been obscenely cold these past few days. Last night I took my two sweet Girls home. They simply cannot stay outside in this ccccold Kansas night. Had they day off fo work today so I kept my critters home and inside. Schatzi is by far the laziest one of the bunch. Dogs are generally very lazy. Mine definitely won't do housework or the shopping, LOL. They have just sat around all day today eating my food and looking beautiful while watching tv. What a hard life they lead.

Monday, January 14, 2008

More from

Renaissance trial to beginFormer CEO faces 148 counts of fraud, money laundering
By Steve Fry
The Capital-Journal
Published Monday, January 14, 2008
Marcy Szarama, a Los Angeles businesswoman, was looking for reliable tax advice in July 2000 when some acquaintances raved about Renaissance, The Tax People, saying the Topeka-based firm gave good tax advice.

Today, the three-week jury trial begins for Michael Craig Cooper, former Renaissance chief executive officer and founder, who is charged with 148 counts alleging he and others "agreed to cheat clients out of money through false or fraudulent representations about their program," generating about $84 million from investors, court records said.

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Michael Cooper has been incarcerated since 2004


• One count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and to commit mail fraud and wire fraud

• 56 counts of assisting in the preparation of false federal income tax returns

• 36 counts of mail fraud

• 11 counts of wire fraud

• One count of conspiracy to commit money laundering

• 41 counts of engaging in monetary transactions of criminally derived property worth more than $10,000

• Two counts of money laundering

The trial will be conducted by U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia in the Robert J. Dole U.S. Courthouse in Kansas City, Kan.

Szarama said she joined Renaissance, but when she called the company for tax advice, she was put on hold and heard only recordings about how to sell Renaissance products.

At meetings, company officials tried to sell marketing materials and coached members on how to sell more Renaissance products to more people, she said last week.

There was a "lot of fluff" and not much substance, she said.

"They gave me really bad tax advice," said Szarama, who had to pay about $2,000 in back taxes because she underpaid her taxes based on Renaissance advice.

About six months after she joined Renaissance, Szarama said she got out because she found it to be a waste of time and money and she "detected a cult vibe." Overall, she lost about $4,000, she said.

After about five years, Szarama said, she got back about $2,000 in restitution for what she spent on Renaissance but no money for the tax penalties she paid.

Renaissance, The Tax People, billed itself as a multilevel marketing agency aimed at helping its clients avoid taxes. The company sold a "tax-relief system" instructing home-based business owners on how to take tax deductions on their businesses, which usually was selling the Renaissance tax-relief system.

But by May 15, 2001, a Shawnee County District Court judge had shut down Renaissance, pegging the business as an illegal pyramid scheme, and froze the assets of the company and defendants.

About 125 prosecution witnesses have been called to testify against Cooper, including seven co-defendants who were Renaissance executives or employees and who made plea agreements.

Cooper is the only defendant left in the case.

Cooper has remained incarcerated since Oct. 25, 2004, when he was arrested near Laredo, Texas, while crossing the border from Mexico. Cooper had failed to return to the United States 17 months after a Shawnee County District Court judge allowed him to travel to Mexico to recover $2 million in company assets. When he didn't return as ordered, Cooper forfeited a $1 million bond.

Once Cooper was apprehended, a federal magistrate judge denied him bond, saying Cooper didn't face his problems in state court like an adult when he chose to remain in Mexico.

Cooper's Renaissance began to unwind publically on Oct. 11, 2000, when federal agents wearing raid gear descended on company headquarters in the old Fleming Mansion at S.W. 10th and Gage. While surprised shoppers in the nearby shopping center gaped, officers from the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and other agencies executed search warrants.

In the days following the raid, people loyal to Renaissance sent "pep rally e-mails" assuring one another that Cooper was being persecuted, Szarama said.

The May 15, 2001, order by Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson followed a lengthy hearing.

In his ruling, Anderson wrote, "Defendants have seduced consumers into joining their illegal pyramid scheme through the use of specious guarantees of tax deductions and savings, false assurances of legality and misleading promises of unlimited income opportunity."

During the hearing, Cooper took the witness stand, gave his name and a few other details but invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at least 55 times in 40 minutes of testimony.

Anderson issued a final judgment of more than $29 million against the defendants and on behalf of Kansans, according to court records. That included more than $13 million in civil penalties under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act and more than $13 million in consumer damages.

Federal investigators confiscated $9 million during the probe.

A federal grand jury returned an initial indictment against Cooper on Aug. 13, 2004. A follow-up indictment was filed Dec. 6, 2006.

Steve Fry can be reached

at (785) 295-1206 or steve.fry@cjonline com.

� �
You may delay, but time will not.~Ben Franklin

Hoping to be banded soon!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008


Edmund Hillary, First Atop Everest, Dies
Posted: 2008-01-10 21:49:51
Filed Under: World News
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Jan. 10) - Sir Edmund Hillary, the unassuming beekeeper who conquered Mount Everest to win renown as one of the 20th century's greatest adventurers, has died, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced Friday. He was 88.

The gangling New Zealander devoted much of his life to aiding the mountain people of Nepal and took his fame in stride, preferring to be called "Ed" and considering himself just an ordinary beekeeper.

Photo Gallery
Wayne Drought, AP Climbing Icon
Passes Away1 of 7 New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary, the famously humble beekeeper who became an international celebrity for scaling Mount Everest more than fifty years ago, died at 88. He is survived by his wife June and his children Peter and Sarah. Here, the mountaineering legend is seen giving a speech in Antarctica on Jan. 20, 2007.

"Sir Ed described himself as an average New Zealander with modest abilities. In reality, he was a colossus. He was a heroic figure who not only 'knocked off' Everest but lived a life of determination, humility, and generosity," Clark said in a statement.

"The legendary mountaineer, adventurer, and philanthropist is the best-known New Zealander ever to have lived," she said.

Hillary's life was marked by grand achievements, high adventure, discovery, excitement — and by his personal humility. Humble to the point that he only admitted being the first man atop Everest long after the death of climbing companion Tenzing Norgay.

He had pride in his feats. Returning to base camp as the man who took the first step onto the top of the world's highest peak, he declared: "We knocked the bastard off."

The accomplishment as part of a British climbing expedition even added luster to the coronation of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II four days later, and she knighted Hillary as one of her first act.

But he was more proud of his decades-long campaign to set up schools and health clinics in Nepal, the homeland of Tenzing Norgay, the mountain guide with whom he stood arm in arm on the summit of Everest on May 29, 1953.

He wrote of the pair's final steps to the top of the world: "Another few weary steps and there was nothing above us but the sky. There was no false cornice, no final pinnacle. We were standing together on the summit. There was enough space for about six people. We had conquered Everest.

"Awe, wonder, humility, pride, exaltation — these surely ought to be the confused emotions of the first men to stand on the highest peak on Earth, after so many others had failed," Hillary noted.

"But my dominant reactions were relief and surprise. Relief because the long grind was over and the unattainable had been attained. And surprise, because it had happened to me, old Ed Hillary, the beekeeper, once the star pupil of the Tuakau District School, but no great shakes at Auckland Grammar (high school) and a no-hoper at university, first to the top of Everest. I just didn't believe it.

He said: "I removed my oxygen mask to take some pictures. It wasn't enough just to get to the top. We had to get back with the evidence. Fifteen minutes later we began the descent."

His philosophy of life was simple: "Adventuring can be for the ordinary person with ordinary qualities, such as I regard myself," he said in a 1975 interview after writing his autobiography, "Nothing Venture, Nothing Win."

Close friends described him as having unbounded enthusiasm for both life and adventure.

"We all have dreams — but Ed has dreams, then he's got this incredible drive, and goes ahead and does it," long-time friend Jim Wilson said in 1993.

Hillary summarized it for schoolchildren in 1998, when he said one didn't have to be a genius to do well in life.

"I think it all comes down to motivation. If you really want to do something, you will work hard for it," he said before planting some endangered Himalayan oaks in the school grounds.

The planting was part of his program to reforest upland areas of Nepal.

Hillary remains the only non-political person outside Britain honored as a member of the Britain's Order of the Garter, bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II on just 24 knights and ladies living worldwide at any time.

He reached the summit of Everest four days before Elizabeth was crowned Queen of Britain and the Empire on June 2, 1953. She immediately knighted the angular, self-deprecating Hillary, who was just 33.

Throughout his 88 years, he was always the atypical "typical New Zealander" who spoke his mind.

In his 1999 book "View from the Summit," Hillary finally broke his long public silence about whether it was he or Norgay who was the first man to step atop Everest.

"We drew closer together as Tenzing brought in the slack on the rope. I continued cutting a line of steps upwards. Next moment I had moved onto a flattish exposed area of snow with nothing by space in every direction," Hillary wrote.

"Tenzing quickly joined me and we looked round in wonder. To our immense satisfaction we realized with had reached the top of the world."

Before Norgay's death in 1986, Hillary consistently refused to confirm he was first, saying he and the Sherpa had climbed as a team to the top. It was a measure of his personal modesty, and of his commitment to his colleagues.

He later recalled his surprise at the huge international interest in their feat. "I was a bit taken aback to tell you the truth. I was absolutely astonished that everyone should be so interested in us just climbing a mountain."

Hillary never forgot the small mountainous country that propelled him to worldwide fame. He revisited Nepal constantly over the next 54 years.

Without fanfare and without compensation, Hillary spend decades pouring energy and resources from his own fund-raising efforts into Nepal through the Himalayan Trust he founded in 1962.

Known as "burra sahib" — "big man," for his 6 feet 2 inches — by the Nepalese, Hillary funded and helped build hospitals, health clinics, airfields and schools.

He raised funds for higher education for Sherpa families, and helped set up reforestation programs in the impoverished country. About $250,000 a year was raised by the charity for projects in Nepal.

A strong conservationist, he demanded that international mountaineers clean up thousands of tons of discarded oxygen bottles, food containers and other climbing debris that litter the lower slopes of Everest.

His commitment to Nepal took him back more than 120 times. His adventurer son Peter has described his father's humanitarian work there as "his duty" to those who had helped him.

It was on a visit to Nepal that his first wife, Louise, 43, and 16-year-old daughter Belinda died in a light plane crash March 31, 1975.

Hillary remarried in 1990, to June Mulgrew, former wife of adventurer colleague and close friend Peter Mulgrew, who died in a passenger plane crash in the Antarctic. He is survived by his wife and children Peter and Sarah.

His passport described Hillary as an "author-lecturer," and by age 40 his schedule of lecturing and writing meant he had to give up beekeeping "because I was too busy."

By that time he was touring, lecturing and fund-raising for the Himalayan Trust in the United States and Europe for three months at a time, speaking at more than 100 venues during a tour.

He was known as ready to take risks to achieve his goals, but always had control so that nobody ever died on a Hillary-led expedition.

He was at times controversial. He decried what he considered a lack of "honest-to-God morality" in New Zealand politics in the 1960s, and he refused to backtrack when the prime minister demanded he withdraw the comments. Ordinary New Zealanders applauded his integrity.

He got into hot water over what became known as his "dash to the Pole" in the 1957-58 Antarctic summer season aboard modified farm tractors while part of a joint British-New Zealand expedition.

Hillary disregarded instructions from the Briton leading the expedition and guided his tractor team up the then-untraversed Shelton Glacier, pioneering a new route to the polar plateau and the South Pole.

In 2006 he climbed into a row over the death of Everest climber David Sharp, stating it was "horrifying" that climbers could leave a dying man after an expedition left the Briton to die high on the upper slopes.

Hillary said he would have abandoned his own pioneering 1953 climb to save another life.

"It was wrong if there was a man suffering altitude problems and was huddled under a rock, just to lift your hat, say 'good morning' and pass on by," he said. "Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain."

Named New Zealand's ambassador to India in the mid-1980s, Hillary was the celebrity of the New Delhi cocktail circuit. He later said he found the job confining.

He introduced jetboats to many Ganges River dwellers a decade earlier, in 1977, when his "Ocean to the Sky" expedition traveled the Ganges by jetboat to within 130 miles of its source.

The last segment was by foot, and two mountain peaks near Badranath, where the Ganges rises, were also climbed. He sought adventure in places as distant from each other as the Arctic and Antarctic.

Hillary didn't place himself among top mountaineers. "I don't regard myself as a cracking good climber. I'm just strong in the back. I have a lot of enthusiasm and I'm good on ice," he said.

Despite his fame, he spoke of being "really embarrassed" even when introduced at a lecture.

"I really am an ordinary person with a few abilities which I've tried to use in the best way I can," he said.

The first living New Zealander to be featured on a banknote, he helped raise nearly $530,000 for the Himalayan Trust by signing 1,000 of the sparkling new five-dollar bills sold at a charity auction in 1982. They were snapped up by collectors round the world.

Honored by the United Nations as one of its Global 500 conservationists in 1987, he was also awarded numerous honorary doctorates from universities in several parts of the world.

One of his accolades was the Smithsonian Institution's James Smithson Bicentennial Medal for his "monumental explorations and humanitarian achievements," awarded in 1998.

Throughout his life Hillary remembered his first mountain he climbed, the 9,645-foot Mount Tapuaenuku — "Tappy" as he called it — in Marlborough on New Zealand's South Island. He scaled it solo over three days in 1944, while in training camp with the Royal New Zealand Air Force during World War II. "Tapuaenuku" in Maori means "footsteps of the Rainbow God".

"I'd climbed a decent mountain at last," he said later.

Like all good mountaineers before him, Hillary had no special insight into that quintessential question: Why climb?

"I can't give you any fresh answers to why a man climbs mountains. The majority still go just to climb them."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-01-10 18:13:56

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Friday, January 04, 2008


My computer has been driving me nuts lately.!!! I hit shift and then a letter to captialize when starting sentences and then the caps lock key has been coming on! And this computer is not even a year old! Blah! I am ready to smash it! Arrgh! Ok, not really. It did a virus scan the other nightand my very excellent anti-virus software blocked a virus that attempted to come my way. It also gives me warnings and lets me know which links are safe to open andwhich ones not to. Some(ok, most) of the errors that happen with my computer are due to operator error(yours truly). I have been doing some serious thinking about my next computer. After this desktop shoots craps, I think I will buy myself a laptop. They look a bit more expensive than desktops, but the prices look to be coming down.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008