Kevin Tharpe - January 2020

Kevin’s Peace of Mind

www.kevintharpe.com (770) 503-1022

January 2020

Guidance From a Godly Father-in-Law and Grandfather

Pop Pop never forgets a face or a place. I call him the human GPS — and for good reason.

The minute the first of his eight grandchildren came along, he got a new name. On that day, his name forever changed to Pop Pop, and that’s a perfect title and description of my father-in-law, Bob Stidham. If there is anybody on this earth who was created to be a dad and granddad, its Pop Pop. Family is his life, and from the very beginning, Pop Pop and his wife, Sue, have treated me like family. They say that when you marry someone, you marry their family. If that’s true, then the day I married Missy, I struck gold. Pop Pop spent the early years of his boyhood in the cotton fields of rural Alabama. It was just primarily himgrowing up—he had no siblings and only a few older cousins around him. Later, his family moved to Michigan, where there was more work. There he met andmarried his wife of over fifty years, Sue Cole, and two of his three children were also born in Michigan (my wife Missy being one of the two). After serving in the U.S. Army during the height of the ColdWar, Pop Pop went to work for Ford Motor Company. But Pop Pop always knew his true calling was churchmission work, and it wasn’t long before he got a job with the Southern Baptist Convention for the State of Michigan. After a short stint traveling around the state of Michigan, Pop Pop was called to serve in the church loan division of the Home Mission Board in Atlanta, where he served faithfully for over 30 years until his retirement in 2009.

Pop Pop’s territory with the Home Mission Board stretched fromMichigan to Florida. He traveled all over the place, most of the time by car, and he got to know every little side road along his route. Years later, when we would travel those same roads with my family, Pop Pop could remember every church and restaurant in every little town and who lived there. He traveled light, too. Pop Pop was a packing genius. I have heard that he traveled for two weeks with just what he could fit in a grocery bag. He used to take the Stidham family on lots of family vacations, where they’d all load up in one car and drive out toward the beach, the mountains, or the plains of Texas —one of his and Missy’s favorite places. He’d go off and find a couple of churches to visit for business along the way, and they’d all have a great time. Not long after Missy and I started dating, he invited me to go on family vacations. My first vacation with the Stidham family was a memorable one. All of the Stidham family — Pop Pop, Sue, their kids, their kid’s friends, and a daughter-in-law who was“great with child”— all loaded into Pop Pop’s conversion van and started driving toward the beach. Now, I’m the kind of guy who plans out my travels well in advance, especially when there is a pregnant passenger involved. But that’s not the way Pop Pop rolls. Without anything but the map in his head, a bottle of grape Nehi, and a bag of peanuts by his side (and oh yeah, Sue, too), Pop Pop would just drive and drive until he got tired of driving. Then he’d find a payphone (somewhere around Valdosta), call up to the next town, and book a place right then and there. From then on, in my mind, Pop Pop became one of the gutsiest men I’ve ever known. Another time, coming back home from a Stidham family vacation, we were driving behind my brother-in-law. We knew he was driving

using a GPS, but Pop Pop told us to follow his directions because the GPS didn’t know a thing. Sure enough, we got home about 40 minutes before my brother-in-law. Pop Pop knewmore about getting around than any GPS ever could, and that GPS sense was not limited to just his travels on the road. Whether at home or in the church, Pop Pop is also a spiritual leader. Everybody always looks to him for guidance when they’re at a crossroads, whether they’re selecting a new pastor for a church he’s involved in or making an important decision in the family. I look to him, too. When I think about the kind of husband and father I want to be, I think about Pop Pop. I know that one day, Pop Pop will also be a model for me on how to not only be a great father-in- law, but a grandfather, too.

My grandkids will have to come up with a name other than Pop Pop, though.

That honor has already been taken.

Happy birthday, Pop Pop.

-Kevin

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Social Security in 2020 KNOWWHAT’S CHANGING

Maximum Benefits

If you’re in the appropriate age bracket, Social Security may play a major role in your finances. So, it’s important to know how Social Security will be changing in 2020.

Those near the top of the Social Security income scale in 2019 will see an increase in their maximum payout in 2020. The maximum payout for an individual will be capped at $2,861 per month. That translates to $34,332 per year, so consider how that may impact your finances.

Trust Fund

Unless Congress takes some drastic actions in the coming months, the current excess trust fund revenue will be depleted by the year 2034. If that happens, Social Security will only be able to pay 79% of the promised benefits from ongoing payroll taxes. You may need to think about what your financial plan would be like with 21% less income.

Taxes

Howmuch your benefits are taxed depends on your household income levels. For example, 50% of your benefits will be taxed if youmake between $25,000–$34,000 individually or $32,000–$44,000 for married couples. If you’re above that income bracket, then 85% of your benefits will be taxable.

Retirement Age

If you haven’t reached retirement yet, this one is important to consider. If you were born after 1959, the full retirement age is now 67 for you. You’ll still be able to start taking some benefits at age 62, but they’ll be at reduced monthly payments.

Cost of Living

Low inflation means that Social Security benefits will only see a minor cost of living increase. This year, it’s expected to be around 1.6%. It’s not major, but if you’re living off Social Security alone, every penny is important.

Ctrl, Alt, Delete Your Clutter TIPS FOR NATIONAL CLEAN UPYOUR COMPUTER MONTH

Back Up Your Computer

Everyone relies on technology. Computers, laptops, tablets, and phones are staples of modern life. However, it’s easy for these devices to become cluttered with old photos, files, and general disorganization. Luckily, January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month and an excellent time to get your technology in order.

Be sure to back up your computer before you start deleting things. This acts as a safety net in case you delete something you didn’t mean to. Additionally, consider installing a second hard drive. The extra space can help with storing important files without having to worry about how much room is left.

Start by Dusting

Clean Up Space

Over time, computer towers can become clogged with dust, which creates additional, unwanted heat within your computer. Regular cleanings will increase the lifespan of your computer and protect its essential components. Compressed air is great for removing most of the dust and other particulates. If the fans or filters are too dirty, you can remove them from the tower to clean them better. If you use water or liquid cleaning products on them, be sure they are completely dry before placing them back into your computer.

Any files you’ll never use again should be deleted. Likewise, any programs you haven’t used in a while should be uninstalled. Check your hard drive for files that might be taking up unintended space on your computer. And remember to empty the recycling bin — it’s easy to forget just how much goes in there.

Organize Your Files

Naming and arranging the files on your computer in such a way that they’re easy for you to find can end up saving you a lot of time. Declutter your workspace by creating one file for pictures, one for Word documents, one for spreadsheets, and one for programs to eliminate the hassle of frantically searching for the files you need.

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TAKE A BREAK

MEET THE WORLD’S FIRST AIRPORT THERAPY PIG How Lilou and Animals Like Her Calm Stressed-Out Travelers

Imagine you’re navigating a vast airport on a busy Saturday, shouldering your way through crowds and struggling to hear the PA system over the clatter of 1,000 wheeled suitcases. Suddenly, you see a pig wearing a hot pink sweater waddling toward you on a leash. Do you stop in your tracks? Does your stress level drop? Do you laugh out loud when you see its pink nail polish? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then you can sympathize with the passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and staff at the San Francisco International Airport. They get to enjoy visits from Lilou, the world’s first airport therapy pig, on a regular basis! As part of the Wag Brigade, the airport’s cadre of (mostly canine) therapy animals, Lilou wanders the airport with her humans, bringing joy, peace, and calm to everyone she meets. Lilou may be the only pig of her kind, but airport therapy animals have been a growing trend for the last few years. According to NPR, as of 2017, more than 30 airports across the U.S. employed therapy dogs, and these days, estimates land closer to 60. The San Jose and Denver airports have therapy cats, and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport even offers passengers the chance to play with miniature horses before boarding their flights. Therapy dogs started appearing in U.S. airports after the 9/11 terror attacks, which changed American attitudes about flying. They did so well at helping passengers calm down that airports began implementing permanent programs. Some have pets on hand 24/7 to assist passengers, while others host animal visits every few weeks or months. These days, regular travelers have fallen hard for their local therapy animals, many of whom even have their own Instagram accounts and hashtags. So, the next time you’re traveling, keep an eye out for a friendly pup, cat, pig, or horse to pet. A bit of love from an animal just might improve your trip!

HOPPIN’ JOHN

A traditional New Year’s favorite in the South, Hoppin’ John includes black-eyed peas that are said to represent coins, a sign of prosperity for the coming year. It’s usually served alongside collard greens, which represent cash.

Ingredients

1 smoked ham hock

1 cup dried black-eyed peas

1 medium onion, diced

5–6 cups water

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 dried hot pepper, optional (arbol and Calabrian are great options)

Directions

1. Wash and sort peas. 2. In a saucepan, cover peas with water, discarding any that float. 3. Add pepper, ham hock, and onion. Gently boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until peas are just tender, about 90 minutes. At this point, you should have about 2 cups of liquid remaining. 4. Add rice, cover, drop heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes, undisturbed. 5. Remove from heat and let steam for an additional 10 minutes, still covered. 6. Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and serve. Inspired by Epicurious

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PRST STD US POSTAGE PAID BOISE, ID PERMIT 411

(770) 503-1022 www.KevinTharpe.com 405 Broad St. Gainesville, GA 30501 INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1

A Tribute to My Father-in-Law, Bob Stidham

Changes to Social Security in 2020 Enter 2020 With an Organized Computer

2

Hoppin’ John Meet the World’s First Airport Therapy Pig

3

4

The Sweetest Crime in History

HISTORY’S SWEETEST THEFT THE GREAT CANADIAN MAPLE SYRUP HEIST

Unfortunately, the thieves got sloppy and stopped refilling the barrels with water. When an FPAQ inspector visited the targeted facility in the fall of 2012, he accidentally knocked over one of the empty barrels. The inspector

At the FPAQ facility, syrup was stored in unmarked metal barrels and only inspected once a year. The heist, led by a man named Richard Vallières, involved transporting the barrels to a remote sugar shack in the Canadian wilderness, where they siphoned off the maple syrup, refilled the barrels with water, and returned the barrels to the facility. The stolen syrup was then trucked east to New Brunswick and south across the border into Vermont. Wisely, the thieves sold their ill-gotten goods in small batches, avoiding suspicion from legitimate syrup distributors. In what is now known as the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist, thieves made off with 10,000 barrels of maple syrup valued at $18.7 million. This remains one of the most costly heists in Canadian history. Vallières himself became a millionaire and took his family on three tropical vacations in one year.

Maple syrup holds a proud place in the history and culture of Quebec, Canada. It’s also a big part of Quebec’s economy, with 72% of the world’s maple syrup produced in Quebec alone. Due to tactics employed by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ), the NPR-backed podcast“The Indicator”estimates that maple syrup is valued at approximately $1,300 per barrel —over 20 times more than crude oil. The FPAQ controls the available syrup supply, never releasing enough maple syrup to meet demand, which increases the price. As a result, most of the world’s maple syrup is stored in various reserves. Between 2011 and 2012, a group of thieves decided to liberate the syrup from an FPAQ facility in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec. Stealing syrup from Canada doesn’t sound as glamorous as stealing cash from a Vegas casino, but their plan could rival the plot of “Ocean’s Eleven.”

alerted the police, who would go on to arrest 17 men in connection to the theft, including Vallières himself.

Police were then able to recover hundreds

of barrels of the stolen syrup, but most of it was never recovered — likely lost

to pancake breakfasts far away.

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