. . . free at last . . . thank my friend and webmaster, the estimable Marc Fest – all righty! – I am free (of AOL) at last.

Well, okay, I still use it, but this $30 program Marc turned me on to takes three minutes to buy and download and maybe five minutes more to convert my 4,280 AOL 5.0 addresses to an Excel file – complete with the free-form ‘comments’ I have appended to many of my records, some of them quite long. I don’t lose a thing.

The program can also convert from AOL 6.0 and 8.0, and from other e-mail programs, not just AOL. It will convert your address file directly into various e-mail programs – not just into Excel.

Check it out if you’re only staying with your current provider because you feel stuck. For another $5, there’s a program that will port over your ‘favorite places,’ as well.

I like a lot about AOL, and have not yet committed to an alternative or launched into the process of changing my address. But what an amazing feeling that I can export my data from of AOL for use elsewhere. (It is my data after all, painstakingly typed in over all these years.) Like the Iron Curtain coming down.

Wilbur Coghill:Restaurant.com [not to be confused with restaurants.com!] sells and auctions (Via Ebay) restaurant gift certificates. You can buy $25 certificates for $12.50 or bid and try for a better price. In my area there are usually 50 or so running at any one time, but for NY, there are a lot more. I won two $25 deals for $6 and $8, for places that I know are good. There are a few conditions (good for food only, etc.) but still hard to beat.’

Jeff Martin:Here’s an interesting short piece on how state and local taxes are going to eat up the tax cut for most Americans, but not, of course, for the rich.’

☞ An excerpt:

Whether or not your personal budget will end up in the black or at a deficit depends. This year, married filers with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) of more than $1 million will save $91,000, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. If that’s you, increases on the state and local level may seem a drop in the bucket.

Now, let’s say you’re a married couple with an adjusted gross income of $50,000 to $75,000. The Urban-Brookings center estimates that households like yours will save an average of $767 in federal taxes this year.

If you live in Troy, N.Y., the school district’s share of property taxes alone could add $600 to your taxes this year, on average. If you’re planning to send your child to one of the City University of New York schools, you can expect to pay $800 more for in-state tuition.

* * *

‘If this is class warfare, then my class is winning.’
– Warren Buffett

If raisins are dried grapes, then why don’t they have pits?
– Andrew Tobias

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