IF:Gathering 2018


I was invited by a friend to attend the IF:Gathering 2018 at a local church.  I was only able to attend the Friday evening session; there were also two sessions on Saturday.

Friday’s session was a sit down dinner with a buffet-style soup & salad bar.  There was also a coffee and tea station and dessert.  We had plenty of time for table conversation, meeting new people and catching up with others I haven’t seen in a while.  Our table host gave each of us the sweetest bag with goodies:  hand lotion, tissues, note pad, 2 Daily Bread devotionals and a couple of snack bars.

The evening started with prayer and some worship songs then a live-stream of the event in Austin, Texas with 4 speakers, including IF:Gathering founder, Jennie Allen.

Bible text for this session was 2 Timothy 1.  (NIV)

Jennie Allen

God can change the world through us together.

Faith is the flame.  What threatens to blow the flame out?  DOUBT!  Everything feeds doubt, but it’s in our heads and the ENEMY puts it there.

We can fight our doubt together.

Verse 6 talks about “fanning our faith into flame”.  This is an active, not a passive approach.  We are to stir up the gift.

What does doubt do to you?

1 Corinthians 15:1-4  Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

“by this gospel”

“Either it is true and it means everything, OR it ISN’T true and it means nothing” {our faith, salvation and belief in God}

You just have to believe!

James 1:5-6  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  

Ask of God.  Ask in faith with no doubting.  How we fight our doubt can build great things!

2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  

Be a FLAMETHROWER (Elon Musk) not a candle!  If every one of us discipled just 2 people a year and each of those discipled just 2 people a year in 5 years there would be 541 NEW DISCIPLES!

“The very things we think disqualify us is what God needs to use in us!”

Jo Saxton

Paul is writing this at the end of his life to Timothy who is at the middle of his life.

In the middle, you can’t always see what is ahead.

Proactive, Pacifivity, Perfectionism

verse 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Reminds Timothy of his faith, who he is, the call of God, good news, set-apart life.  God has a dream and a vision for your life.  Faith isn’t dependent on success.

Verse 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Remember who and what empowers us.  Are your motivators comparisons (doubt), competition, fear, jealousy, envy, perfectionism, pacifism?

Verse 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

Re-engage.  Fan the faith into flame — don’t wait for the flame to grow/come back.

Verse 13  What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.    Hold On.

Verse 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Guard what has been entrusted to you.

Expectations                            What makes us WEAK?
Knock Us Down


Vivian Mabuni

“I Didn’t Know”

The New Testament was written to churches and is not chronological.  Study John 14 – 17 for Jesus Final Words.

Verse 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 

Kindle afresh / fan into flame  This is a verb — constant.  (from the Greek, charisma/kharisma)

Christian life is not hard — it is impossible!  (Without God)

Chocolate Milk.  The milk in the pitcher is life.  If you just add the chocolate syrup it still looks like plain milk.

You have to Want it.   Who is Jesus in your life?
Deal with your Wrongs/Sin.  Taking it seriously and deal with sin.
Be Willing  Surrendered, God is the Potter, we have NO control in our lives (But God Does)

12-step program is based on teaching of James.

Stir it up to change the world (when she stirred the milk, the chocolate syrup changed the milk to chocolate milk).

Rebekah Lyons

  1. Power is light “Let There be Light”  2 Corinthians 4:7-13  “Nothing is beyond the power of the cross.
    Ephesians 6:10-18 the armor of God
  2. Love Ephesians 3:14-19  we are co-heirs with Christ
    “Health of the nation is contingent on the health of the family.  ”
    We need to be spiritual mothers of the generations of women
    It’s not the BATHROBE of God, it’s the ARMOR of God!
  3. Sound Mind
    Bible verses on Anxiety
    Satan picked the wrong girl to mess with because of the SWORD of the Spirit!

Christine Caine

“Perseverance” Hebrews 12

The race we are called to run is a marathon, not a sprint.  Endurance is mentioned 3 times.  We are “surrounded by a cloud of witnesses”.  We are supposed to be participants, not commentators or spectators.

Let us also run with endurance.  You need faith AND endurance!

There’s no app for endurance — you don’t download endurance, you BUILD IT! (through resistance and pressure)

Christians are misunderstood, called intolerant, backwards, ignorant.

Drop your weight and your sins (there is a difference between weight and sin).

If we don’t share the good news, we are guilty of “spiritual malpractice”

Run the race that is set before YOU (not the race set before someone else)!

Fix your eyes upon Jesus so that you may not grow weary or discouraged.

I wish I could have attended the Saturday sessions; hopefully my calendar will be cleared for next year’s event.  This was a fantastic event and filled me with some great energy and spiritual nutrition.

I’ve included links for the IF:Gathering2018 site, as well as links to each of the speaker’s and their websites.


Tax Increase


King County Property taxes rising between 9 and 31% depending on your city

According to the chart at the bottom of this article, Redmond taxes will be increasing from 9.55466% in 2017 to 9.97384% in 2018 (4.39% RATE increase for the year;  tax increase of 19.59%).

2018 tax billings aren’t available until February 15th so I don’t know my tax bill for 2018. According to this chart, using MY property, my taxable total $ for 2017 was $481,000 (increases to $552,000 for 2018).  My tax bill was $4,608.45 for 2017.

2017 Pie Chart of Levy expenditures:

Levy Code 2020                 Total Tax Levy Rate: $9.55466            Total Senior Rate: $6.15735

chart 2017

2018 Pie Chart of Levy expenditures

Levy Code 2025                 Total Tax Levy Rate: $9.97384              Total Senior Rate: $5.75297


Let’s compare….
Expenditure              2017                             2018                                         Increase/Decrease
School                         3.16241 (33.10%)        3.03059 (30.39%)                    Decrease
City                              1.35057 (14.14%)        1.25080 (12.54%)                    Decrease
Port                             0.15334 (1.60%)           0.13518 (1.36%)                      Decrease
County                        1.38294 (14.47%)        1.32735 (13.31%)                    Decrease
Hospital                      0.35854 (3.75%)          0.32589 (3.27%)                      Decrease
Library                        0.45118 (4.72%)          0.41190 (4.13%)                      Decrease
EMS                              0.26305 (2.75%)          0.23940 (2.40%)                      Decrease
Flood                            0.11740 (1.23%)          0.10708 (1.07%)                      Decrease
RST                               0.25000 (2.62%)           0.22745 (2.28%)                     Decrease
State School Fund   2.032205 (21.27%)      2.91820 (29.26%)                  INCREASE

You can see by the numbers I’ve posted above for my house that the increase is in STATE taxes earmarked towards schools.  All the other taxes are indeed going down.

Of course, this doesn’t include any taxes that will take effect for the 2018 or future years.

You can look up your own numbers here by going to King County Parcel Viewer  and selecting “Start Parcel Viewer”.  Enter in your address and you’ll get a view of your neighborhood with your parcel, etc.

From here click on “Property Report” and you’ll get a report of your parcel including a photo of the property/structure (in my case pre-green paint), a pie-chart of “Total Levy Rate Distribution” (2018) and a “Tax Roll History” for the property.

Select “Click here to see levy distribution comparison by year” (below pie-chart) and you’ll see a Levy Distribution by year comparison for 8 years (pie-chart graphics).

There are all kinds of great charts and some valuable information on these pages so I encourage you to click around and see what you can find.


Property Tax increase and Schools


There has been a lot of conversation about the upcoming Lake Washington School District (LWSD) Bond and Levy proposal in February 2018.

  • What is a Levy? A “Levy” is a pay-as-you-go-model; a certain amount of money is collected each year for a limited number of years.
  • What is a Bond? A “Bond” resembles a mortgage; a bond is sold with a promise to pay back the money to the bond buyer with interest. The payments are made with the portion of the property tax devoted to bond measures. Bonds are up to 20-years in maturity dates. Bonds are sold as needed to build schools; so not all bonds are sold at once.

<from https://paigesprattle.blogspot.com/2013/11/>

Over the years I have NOT been a supporter of Bonds because I have felt the District didn’t use the money in valuable ways for the future of the District.

In the past the District has used “leftover” monies from Bonds to build Portable/temporary classrooms (that turn into long-term classrooms) instead of using the funds to build brick-and-mortar buildings that house more students and have a longer life-span (not to mention bathrooms and aesthetics).

In July of 2013 with a new Bond and Levy vote looming, I asked the District about the cost of Portable (“temporary”) classroom cost vs. the cost of a building called the “B Wing” at Redmond High School.

To recap the post, the cost of 4, two-room portables was $1,520,000 while the cost of the “B Wing” was $728,484 (2013 dollars).  That’s 8 classrooms for $1.5 million vs. 14 classrooms for $728,484.  To further break it down that’s $187,500 per classroom ($7,500 per student at 25 students) for a portable vs. $52,034.57 for classrooms ($2,081.36 per student at 25 students) in a permanent structure.

According to this there are 171 portable classrooms (14% of classrooms) in the District (equivalent of 7 elementary schools). That’s roughly $68.4 million dollars in portable classrooms.

The 2016 Bond approved funds of $398 million and added space for 3,000 students. The upcoming 2018 Bond is asking for $299 million which will add space for an additional 2,100 students. Two future bonds in 2022 and 2026 will ask for additional funds (dollars not listed) for additional projects.

The District has repeatedly promoted the bonds with the phrase “no tax rate increase”. Although this is technically true (I can’t even begin to explain the math but the tax RATE is not increasing), the AMOUNT we are being taxed on increases yearly.

To help with the math, we’ll use the assessed value of my home on Education Hill.

‘Total taxable value’ in 1986 (when my husband purchased the house) was $66,500 for tax year 1987. That total taxable value has jumped to $552,000 for tax year 2018. The District is using a total tax rate of $2.93 per $1,000 for all three measures – a reduction of $0.23 per $1,000 from the expiring bond.

The assessed value of my house has increased 803% in 31 years. Great for selling my house, not so great when paying taxes.

Using my house valuation (not appraisal value) of $552,000 times $2.93 per $1,000 would mean my taxes for these measures ALONE would be $1,617.36. The math is confusing (again), but that rate would be my annual contribution to the 20-year bond. That amount might fluctuate depending on Assessed Value (AV), as bonds mature, and as the bonds in 2022 and 2026 are added into the totals.

According to this pie chart; 32.14% of my taxes go to “local schools”, with another 19.74% going towards “state schools”.

My tax for the 2017 property tax year was $4,608.45.  Of that $1,521.12 is distributed to “Local School” (the percentage here is 33% which is higher than the percentage listed in the pie chart above).

The remaining $3,087.33 is split between:

State                    $977.41        21.2%

County                $665.20        14.4%
City                       $649.62        14.1%
Library                 $217.02        4.7%
Hospital               $172.46        3.7%
EMS                      $126.53        2.7%
Sound Transit    $120.25        2.6%
Port                      $73.75          1.6%
Flood                   $56.47          1.2%
Other                   $15.96          0.3%
Fees/Charges     $12.66          0.3% (Noxious Weed $3.21, Conservation $9.45)
Road                                            0%
Fire                                               0%

Based on these numbers, under the new bond scenario my taxes will increase $96.24 (from $1,521.12 to $1,617.36).  That increase is likely more to do with the increased valuation (AV) of my home, but it’s still an increase.

The annual taxes I’ve paid on my house in the last 3 years have increased by $349.38 – from $4,259.07 in 2015 to $4,608.45.  In that same 3 year period the AV of my home has increased $56,000.

Calculate how your taxes are ‘spent’ by entering your Tax account number here

(If you don’t know your tax account number you can look on your “Official Property Value Notice” or by looking it up here

So, yes, your tax RATE will not be increasing with the new bond.  It will decrease by $0.23/$1000 of assessed value.  However, as the math above shows this is neither an easy nor sincere representation of our school tax structure.

And it still doesn’t address how the District uses the funds they raise, or their integrity in planning and building for the future.

I’ll cover that in my next post…

This has been cross-posted on the Education Hill Neighborhood Association blog

Vote November 7th


Originally this was going to be a “Letter to the Editor” of the Redmond Reporter, however I put it together too late for them to put in their paper (Redmond Reporter does not post letters regarding political races for the issue immediately prior to the election).  Although I find this an odd practice, it gives me the chance to post this to my blog instead and ramp up the word count from under 300 to whatever I like.

November 7th will be an important election day for our state, county and city.  In addition to contentious races for Legislative Districts 45 and 48, there are also 3 Redmond City Council positions up for decision.


If you’re pleased with a downtown park that appears to be more concrete than “park”, traffic at all hours of the day in residential areas, out of sync traffic lights, skyrocketing rents (commercial and residential) and the loss of small businesses then you should stop reading right now.


However, if you are concerned about the lack of affordable housing, finding parking, the growing crime rate and saddened by the loss of Frankie’s, Spicy Talk and Nara (to name just a few), then I hope you’ll read on a bit.



I recommend you vote for some new voices on November 7th.


Steve Fields is a small business owner who has a background in budgeting, project management and working with teams of people.  He has been an active member of our community for over 20 years.   A long-time volunteer for the City of Redmond, he has coached youth basketball, baseball, and soccer; he annually raises money for small local charities at his coffee shop.
I met Steve through Cub Scouts and he’s been a friend and mentor ever since.  When he ran for mayor, I was amazed at his energy and willingness to talk to everyone about any issue.  He hosts coffee times to discuss issues of concern to Redmond and has been responsive in communicating ideas and strategies, not just sound-bites for solutions.


Eugene Zakhareyev is a 9 year Redmond resident; he lives with his wife and two children in Overlake.   Eugene’s campaign focus has been on community involvement, balancing growth with the needs of the residents and addressing transportation issues in Redmond. He is non-partisan candidate who will stand for the interests of the residents of our city.  In the last three years he has been closely involved in different aspects of land use planning in our city (due to a pending project in his neighborhood), has spoken with multiple residents, and is informed of the city processes and the citizens’ expectations. He is an advocate for small businesses and community engagement.

I became acquainted with Eugene when he attended our first Neighborhood Association meeting over a year ago and he’s been a sounding board and knowledgeable ally; someone I’d certainly trust to make fair and informed decisions on issues that would affect all of Redmond.

Jason Antonelli has lived in Redmond for over 20 years and has decades of professional experience growing teams, mentoring junior engineers, building consensus and making the right trade-offs necessary for individual and team success.

He will represent the people of Redmond as he works to resolve the traffic and growth issues that plague us every day.  He supports small businesses and is concerned about increased crime and out-of-control spending by our current council.

I’ve only recently met Jason but have always found him to be relatable, and interested in solutions to many of the problems that citizens find frustrating.

If you’re happy with the path the City of Redmond is taking us down, then by all means vote for the same people who took us there.

If not, then please join me in voting for a much-needed CHANGE in Redmond City Council.


If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old

~ Peter F. Drucker

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
~ Narcotics Anonymous


Apple breaks Windows


I’m sitting in the mall waiting for my iPhone 6sPlus to be repaired.  I switched to an iPhone in February when we changed cell carriers and haven’t regretted the change for a single moment.  The customer service experience is just one of the reasons why.


I have an Otterbox case for my phone, and one of the hard screen protectors (I think it’s an InvisibleShield product); purchased at the Sprint store where we bought the phone.  Neither the case nor the screen protector have ever been off the phone (*see below) and I’m pretty careful with my phone so I rarely drop it.


The other night, trying to carry too many things (including my phone) while opening my car door, I dropped my phone.  It fell face down on the pavement.  I checked and it worked (phone, text, email, apps) so I went on my merry way.  The next morning I was going to take some photos to post on social media and noticed my camera didn’t work.  I rebooted the phone (twice), tried the camera in a few different apps, and then took the case off to see if I could see if the lens was cracked or damaged.  (*this is the only time my case has been off my phone).  No go.


I look up a couple of links to see if I can fix it myself, but none of the suggestions work.  So, I look up iPhone help online, expecting that I’ll get a faceless web page with lists of community help points that don’t resolve my issue (Ahem, Microsoft Customer Support).  INSTEAD, I get  the nearest Apple Store “Genius Bar” listing.  With a LOCAL phone number.  I call the number and, after a few phone-tree selections that made sense, and a voice recognition of my problem that ACTUALLY HEARD MY PROBLEM I’m transferred to an actual human being, named Jorge.  Jorge walked me through a couple of steps, checked out a couple of other things, and finally, after 45 minutes of trying told me we’d need to reset the phone.  He explained how to do that, and gave me my claim number so that “if it didn’t work, I could call and schedule an appointment at the Genius Bar to have it fixed”.  Unfortunately, the reset didn’t work, so I called the number, gave them my claim number and was immediately transferred to the Genius Bar in Bellevue who made an appointment for the next date I could get in.  No muss, no fuss, no “I’m sorry, we can’t help you”, no script.


I’m a bit in shock here.  I’ve had numerous issues with Microsoft products (links below); both phone and PC.  EVERY TIME I needed assistance from Microsoft I’m expected to read through pages of community help boards (that aren’t helpful).  There’s no phone number to actually get in touch with a human — I had to search through several pages of “help” and “contact us” to get a phone number for customer service.  When you actually get a number, you have to wade through several levels of hell phone tree button-pushing before you get to a customer service representative.  And then you have to wait , on hold, for a long time.  When you FINALLY get a human, they are either 1) unintelligible (even though they have an ‘American’ sounding name 2) following a script 3) not helpful because they aren’t really listening to your problem 4) unable to actually resolve the issue.  I have had a CSR at Microsoft actually tell me SEVERAL TIMES on several occurrences that they are unable to help me.  Or blame it on some app or my laptop (not their precious OS).


The last time I had to contact MS Customer support was after I’ve upgraded to Windows 10.  The initial upgrade was ‘fairly’ simple, but about two weeks after I booted up my computer “Windows couldn’t locate Cortana” and put me into a swirl of reboots that never resolved the issue (plus locked me out of using my laptop). Using my phone, I found MS Support and tried to resolve through the online support community.  Nope.  Finally get a number for MS Support only to have the CSR tell me (after 30 minutes of script) he didn’t know how to solve my issue and I’d just have to wait until it resolved itself.  EXCUSE ME?  I ended up using the “Phone a friend” option and getting an in through a series of f-buttons and coding strokes.  From a non-MS employee, just a friend who’s figured it out on his own.  Problem solved in less than 15 minutes — through my friend — after no help at all from MS and a cost of about 2 hours of phone time


Back to the Apple Genius Bar.  The woman asked when I could come in and she laughed when I said I couldn’t come in until the weekend.  I think she said “You just made my day.  Most of the time people are upset because I can’t get them in immediately.”  So I made an appointment, gave her the pertinent details and waited for my appointment date to come up.


I missed my phone.  I was attending a concert in the evening and had several times I could have used my phone over the roughly 3+ days I was without.


So this morning, I drive into Bellevue and am greeted at the Apple Store by a very friendly employee who seats me at a bar.  I waited maybe 15 minutes before a representative greeted me, went over my claim with me and tried a couple of new things to diagnose the issue.  No go, so she says to me “well, your phone is under warranty” and she was checking to see if they had the part in stock.  It will take roughly an hour to repair, she makes sure I backed everything up (I had already), turns off my security settings, takes my password to my phone and has me sign the agreement.  No hassles, no fuss, no “sorry we can’t fix it”.  In fact, if they can’t fix it I’m getting a new phone.  ONE hour later I have my phone back, repaired and am on my way.

Based on the customer service of Apple vs. Microsoft, I’m converted.  In fact, even though it may cause a rift in the time-space-marital-continuum, I may switch completely to Apple products.  Because when customer is king, it’s a win for everyone. Apple CLEARLY respects it’s customer base and doesn’t ignore the single user in favor of the corporate.


BTW, I did find a use for my old Windows phone…I used it as a camera at the concert I attended.  But that’s the only use I can find for it now…other than a reminder of which company really appreciates their customers and values their equipment.


Kindle vs Microsoft

Hotmail Issues and phone

Thank you Bill

Dear Bill

What’s in a Name?


Recipe for frustration:

  1. Have child apply to college
  2. Complete FAFSA application
  3. Find out your 18 year old’s name is wrong

Wait, what?  I named my child, filled out the paperwork at the hospital for “Certificate of Live Birth” and received that birth certificate back in the mail.  The birth certificate that I placed in the folder with the other vital records for future use (school, driver’s license, passport).

Attached to the birth certificate is a carbon receipt with his name listed correctly, amount of payment and the stamp of approval from the County that they’d received the information.  The Certificate of Live Birth listed two lines for names:  “Given Names” and “Surname”.  They were spelled correctly, in the correct order and with no spaces or hyphens where they should or shouldn’t be.  Silly me thought this meant that everything was fine.

Hubby and I decided after several weeks of wrangling to name our last child with One first name, Two middle names (no hyphens, two words) and one last name.  And, that’s how we’ve completed every form of paperwork since that time. Fast forward (because really, 18 years is nothing in the scheme of things) to college applications, FAFSA and scholarship forms and it became clear that the name that we gave our son wasn’t the name he actually had; even though he has a driver’s license, medical records and school records that show him with one first, two middle and one last name.

The FAFSA process is a tortuously confusing system that could possibly be used to interrogate terrorists or validate claims of insanity in a court of law.  In any case, it’s neither simple nor fast and requires several hours of patience plus tax records and maybe an adult beverage or several.  And the good news is it needs to be completed every year that you are intending on sending a student to college.  In addition, both the student and the parents need to complete the process separately.

We completed the first FAFSA process in fall of 2016 with 2015 tax records for both my son and our household.  It didn’t immediately ‘verify’ my son’s information with the SSA (Social Security Administration), but verified our household’s and passed us on to the next level which was identifying the colleges we wanted the results to be sent to.  He received an acceptance letter from the first college he applied to; they had received the appropriate FAFSA information and would be sending him a financial aid package in the spring for the 2017-2018 year.

Again, the beauty of the FAFSA is that you need to complete one every year, so after our taxes were filed in March I went back on the site and completed our FAFSA information with 2016’s tax information.  We also completed the FAFSA with my son’s information and waited for verification.  And waited…and waited…and waited.

In between the waiting were more college applications, ACT testing and all the other administrative joys of senior year.  He was accepted by 3 other colleges, turned down by the college he most wanted to attend (after more administrative snafu’s by the High School and college), and made his decision in June to attend a college in Washington State.  He made the decision so late in the game because the rejection from the school at the top of his list wasn’t received until late May — almost a month after many schools have made all their acceptances and sent out financial aid packages.

So, now he’s decided on a school and we dig into getting all the boxes marked off the list of thing to do before he can attend.  Step 1, turn in the FAFSA information.  This means returning to one of the levels of Hell that is the FAFSA form.  Still no verification from SSA so no information can be sent to any of his schools.  After several attempts at re-sending the information, I sat down one day in June and made a phone call to SSA to figure out what the challenge was.  The representative was patient and helped me wade through many of the questions but notified me there was only so much information she could provide to me because my son was 18 and an adult.

Yes, he can vote, sign up for the military, work 40 hours a week, purchase tobacco products, apply for a loan, legally have consensual sex with other 18 year olds or older, get credit cards and get married; however his parents no longer have any input or ability to gather information because with the addition of one more candle on the cake this man-child suddenly has all the aptitudes that have taken his parents decades to acquire.

He walks in the door from school (because he’s still a high school senior mind you, NOT a graduate) and talks to the representative on the phone who informs him that his FAFSA can’t be verified because his name is entered incorrectly.  He repeats his name and we check it on the FAFSA page; however he doesn’t have ONE first name and TWO middle names — he has TWO FIRST AND ONE MIDDLE NAME.
Mic drop.

She suggests that for the time being we complete the FAFSA with his name as it is listed in the SSA files and figure out how to correct it at a later date.

After we’ve both climbed out of the haze of confusion (because really, EIGHTEEN AND A HALF YEARS???), we change his name in the FAFSA application to match the SSA files and wait for verification.  This will take an additional 3 to 4 business days before the verification is complete and then we can send the FAFSA information to the chosen college.

Now, thinking that I certainly know my own child’s name (I have told him often enough about the stretch marks with his name on them), I pull out the Certificate of Live Birth and the carbon ‘receipt’.  My eyes do not deceive me and he, indeed has One First and TWO Middle names.

I’ve done a bit of genealogical research and usually these files are kept at the county or state level, so I call the County offices and ask for Vital Records.  Vital Records for the County verifies what is in their computer database and it is TWO FIRST AND ONE MIDDLE name.  But, they don’t keep the original paperwork — I’ll need to contact the state for that.

I contact the State Vital Records department and the woman on the phone tells me that the carbon receipt is only a receipt of payment, not a verification of the name being correct.  I explain that the certificate lists 3 “Given Names” with no designation as to first or middle.  Different years had different formats and that how they have it listed in the system is the correct name regardless of any receipt I may have.  If I want to prove that the name is listed in the system incorrectly, I’ll need to contact the hospital and ask for a copy of all birthing records.

I contact the hospital; oddly enough they don’t have birthing records that are 18 years old.  Go figure!  But I can fill out a request for archived files and see if they have it in the archives.  However it’s more likely the County will have the original paperwork and should be able to provide me with the “correct” documentation.  I fill out the medical records request form (6-8 week turnaround) and call the County again.  Then the State.

The 2nd phone call to the State provides me with a method to “correct” the names; by completing an “Affidavit of Correction” and attaching two forms of proof, we can correct his name for $20.  This will take about 4-6 months.  Among the two forms of ID that are acceptable to correct the name are:  1) Driver’s License 2) School Records 3) Passport 4) Military Identification.

I will point out that the first 3 require a BIRTH CERTIFICATE to verify the person’s name.  Except in this case the Birth Certificate is wrong.  And so, therefore are all those forms of ID (with the exception of the school records because we always completed them with One first and Two middle names.  As the Birth Certificate lists 3 given names the school never questioned our naming pattern).

By now, I am confused and frustrated; as is my incorrectly-named son.  So, I call our attorney to see if there is an easier way to resolve this issue.  The conversation with the lawyer took 45 minutes for me to explain the situation before he could even begin to give me a suggestion.  He was as confused as I, and in the end suggested that we complete the FAFSA with the name as the SSA has it listed, then tackle the name change after the fact.  He agreed that the correction process was nonsensical, but pointed out that it was time-consuming and unless my son had credit or a security clearance under either the incorrect or correct name(s), it was a good time to decide what name he would use for the rest of recorded history.

Son is excited that he can decide to change his name if he wants (He’s still a bit miffed that we didn’t name him our 2nd choice — he likes that name better).

What is the end of this story?  Son changes name (mentally only) from FIRST MIDDLE MIDDLE LAST  to FIRST FIRST MIDDLE LAST.  Completes FAFSA, verifies with SSA, receives financial aid package to college he’s attending, and makes a note to sign all future documentation from this date forth with TWO FIRST NAMES and ONE MIDDLE name.

Thankfully we didn’t decide to hyphenate or combine names; who knows what kind of trouble we’d be in now!

Griffith Observatory


A total bucket list item for me!




Follow the signs to the Observatory up through a residential neighborhood.  There is a LOT of parking, but location depends on the walking distance.

You can park on the roadside up and down the hill from the Observatory for $4.00 an hour.  (Can you spot the place where Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone danced in La La Land??)   There is quite a bit of a hike from these parking spaces.


The Greek Theater

Parking is FREE if you park by the Greek Theater and you can take a shuttle up the hill to the observatory.  YOU MUST HAVE EXACT CHANGE — 50 cents/person for the shuttle (one-way). No credit cards.

No charge for entrance to the observatory grounds; I recommend you walk around the outside and take in the views of Los Angeles from all the angles.  There are elevators and wheelchair ramps in all areas of the exhibit.  There are several theater shows including the planetarium; price is $7 for adults with decreased pricing for Seniors, Students and children.

There is a café called “The Café at the End of the Universe” that has an extensive menu including salads, soups, sandwiches and wraps; plus coffee, other beverages and snacks like nuts or cookies.  Plenty of seating; sit outside for a great view of the “HOLLYWOOD” sign and northwest views of the cityscape.

Gift shop has a great selection of science toys, t-shirts, cups and all the other souvenir items; pretty decently priced.


Wander around all you like.  Some interesting items were the statue of James Dean, the HOLLYWOOD sign and (again) the non-stop views of the city.

Check hours (CLOSED MONDAY, open noon to 10 pm other days).

Movies /shows filmed on or around the location include:

Rebel Without a Cause
LaLa Land

And a host of TV shows and other media: https://moviemaps.org/locations/om






One of the telescope domes