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“Sir” and “madam” are shorter versions of what older, fancier terms?

Let’s say you want to get the attention of a male clerk in the produce section of the grocery store. Would you say, “Excuse me sire, but could you please explain the difference between a yam and a sweet potato?”

(For the answer to that question, read this.)

Addressing a stranger as “sire” might raise an eyebrow. But if you said it, you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong.

The word “sir,” which is a respectful term used to address a man, derives from the word “sire.” When written with a capital “S,” it is used as the distinctive title of a knight or baronet.

The word “sire” is now considered archaic. But it was once used to refer to an authority or a person of general importance.

The history of the word “madam” is similar to “sir.” The word derives from “my dame.” While the word “dame” is now usually considered offensive slang, it was once used to address a married woman or one in a position of authority. The traditional term of address for a single woman is “Miss.” The story of Miss, Mrs., and Ms. deserves its own blog post.

The origin of dame is the Latin domina, which is the feminine form of dominus, meaning “lord or master.”

If you enjoy the uncommon history of common words, you’ll love the meaning behind “gosh,” “golly,” and “gee.” Learn their quite serious background, here.

STATE ANNOUNCES TAX CHANGES AT START OF FILING SEASON

US Fed News Service, Including US State News January 21, 2009 The California Franchise Tax Board issued the following press release:

The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) today announced tax law changes and free tax services available for California taxpayers’ filing their 2008 state personal income tax returns.

Delay of Refunds Due to the state’s persistent cash and budget problems, the State Controller announced that he may have to delay refunds for 30 days starting February 1, 2009, for both personal and business taxpayers. FTB is still processing returns as normal. However, it is likely this delay will affect state refunds for most early filers. Returns that have not completed processing before February 1, may have their refunds held for 30 days.

Law Changes Mortgage relief New state law for 2007 and 2008 provides relief for people who have been through foreclosure or had their home mortgage modified. Usually, taxes are paid on debt that a lender forgave or cancelled. Now this amount may be excluded from taxable income. California and federal limits differ.

Net operating losses suspended for 2008 and 2009 for taxpayers with net business income of $500,000 or more The time limit to carry forward losses increases from 10 to 20 years. Starting in 2011, taxpayers can carry back losses for two years. Carry backs are limited to 50 percent of losses for tax year 2011, 75 percent for 2012, and 100 percent in 2013.

Business tax credits For taxpayers with net business income of $500,000 or more, business tax credits are limited to 50 percent of the net tax for 2008 and 2009. Be sure to review our tax forms instructions for specific details. estimatedtaxpaymentsnow.com estimated tax payments

Same-sex marriages Couples wedded on June 16, 2008, and before November 5, 2008, must file as married. However, the California Supreme Court has agreed to review the challenges to the passage of Proposition 8, which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry. The California Attorney General has stated he believes these marriages are valid and will defend them in the court action. Affected taxpayers should follow the court action since the decision may impact their marital status. FTB will provide updates following the Supreme Court decision on its website.

Charitable contributions Taxpayers can contribute to any of 15 charities listed on the tax return. Contributions will reduce refunds or increase taxes owed. Those who itemize their deductions may take a charitable contribution deduction on next year’s return. New this year are the:

* California Ovarian Cancer Research Fund * Municipal Shelter Spay-Neuter Fund * California Cancer Research Fund * ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease Research Fund Standard deduction The standard deduction for single or married filing separately is increased from $3,516 to $3,692. For joint, surviving spouse, or head of household filers, it increased from $7,032 to $7,384.

Personal exemption credit The personal exemption amount for single, married filing separately, and head of household filers jumps from $94 to $99. For joint or surviving spouses, it increases from $188 to $198. The dependent exemption credit changes from $294 to $309 per dependent.

Estimated tax payments Starting in 2009, estimated tax payments for the first and second quarters increase from 25 to 30 percent. The percentage drops to 20 percent for the third and fourth quarters. Also new, fewer people will be required to make estimated tax payments. Now, they are required only when the tax owed after timely tax payments and credits is expected to be $500 or more ($250 for married/RDP filing separately). The prior threshold was $200. To avoid penalties, the estimated payments for taxpayers with adjusted gross income of $1 million or more must be at least 90 percent of the taxes owed.

Electronic payment requirement New law requires that individuals who make a 2009 estimated tax or extension payment larger than $20,000, or with total 2009 tax liabilities of more than $80,000, must make all future payments electronically.

Free e-file Services ReadyReturn is FTB’s completed tax return program where FTB completes the tax return for the taxpayer. It is based on information already collected from employers such as W-2s. ReadyReturn has been expanded to include more people this year. Nearly 1.9 million taxpayers who last year earned wages from a single employer, filed either as single or head of household, only took the standard deduction, claimed no more than five dependents, were renters, or can be claimed as a dependent are eligible. see here estimated tax payments

CalFile is FTB’s no-cost, direct to FTB, online filing program. It is available in both English and Spanish to more than 6.5 million taxpayers on FTB’s website. CalFile accepts income of up to $326,379, itemized deductions, and some tax credits.

Check your My FTB Account Check your My FTB Account on our website to get information such as your estimated tax payments, any balances due, state W-2 information, or FTB issued 1099 forms. Claiming the wrong amount of estimated tax payments is the top error made on returns.

Other Changes Designate a contact person on your tax form You can now designate a third party contact person, such as your tax preparer or family member, by checking a box. This feature gives FTB permission to contact your designee to get information if needed to process your return, discuss math errors and offsets, or provide the status of your refunds. It does not authorize the designee to receive any refund checks, or bind the taxpayers to anything.

Bright lights, good deed

Post-Tribune (IN) December 21, 2006 | Michelle L. Quinn, Post-Tribune correspondent THIS ELECTRONIC VERSION MAY DIFFER SLIGHTLY FROM PRINTED VERSION Eric and Nicole Carlson with their children Alex and C.J. watch as the lights are turned on in front of their Schererville home Wednesday evening. Cousin Jeff Levin (right) wanted to help brighten the holiday for Alex, 3, who is recovering from recent surgery.(PHOTO) (JEFFREY D. NICHOLLS/POST-TRIBUNE) Christmas for an on-the-mend little boy and his family got a little brighter Wednesday, thanks to his cousin and a group of guys who wanted to spread some Christmas cheer. Alex Carlson, 3, braved the drizzle with his parents, Nicole and Eric, and little brother C.J. as Darrin Selking waited for the right moment to flip the switch on the decorations he, his employees and family friends put up at his grandparents’ house. Though their efforts didn’t turn out exactly like Clark Griswold’s, Barb and Don Housley’s house was the one to look at, with its snowflakes and tightly wound trees of green and red. in our site arnold chiari malformation here arnold chiari malformation

The outcome thrilled the crowd, which launched into a rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” led by Alex in anticipation of a surprise visit from the man in red, who came bearing gifts for the little boys.

A year ago, the holidays were filled with dread as Alex was diagnosed with Arnold-Chiari malformation, a rare and painful but not fatal condition in which the part of the brain that controls movement grows wrong.

After undergoing his first operation to correct the Chiari in March, fluid started leaking out of Alex’s incision. Patching that up revealed a second bizarre diagnosis: pseudotumor cerebri, a condition where the body produces more spinal fluid than it absorbs.

Alex spent several months at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital as doctors tried to get the leaking under control.

“He missed his first Easter,” Nicole Carlson said. “The hospital and the Ronald McDonald House (where the Carlsons stayed while Alex recuperated) were wonderful, but we really wanted him to have a holiday at home.” Michelle L. Quinn, Post-Tribune correspondent

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