Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Day in the Life...

…of an accountant.

People often ask, “What do you do when it’s not tax season?” Okay, maybe people don’t ask often, but it has happened a time or two. The thing is, there’s plenty to keep us busy year-round. Tax season is just all that and a bag of potato chips.

So, yesterday was a typical day in the life of an accountant and I’m about to tell you all about it. Actually, if yesterday was a “typical” day, I’d have myself committed. I would call the men in the white coats myself. Remember, I really, really prefer to work in solitude. So here we have the train wreck that was my life yesterday:

6:00 am – Rise and “shine.” Thus begins the 10-hour waking-up process. I usually hit my stride by about 4:00 pm.

7:00 am – Begin morning commute; race through congested traffic, risking life and limb, to arrive at the office just in time for first meeting. My normal 35 minute commute always turns into an hour if I leave at 7:00. I prefer to stroll in around 9:00.

8:00 am –Begin the meeting with a new client, to review and discuss his employment agreement, stock options and partnership agreement for a start-up company, making sure he understands the tax consequences and economics of the deal. End the meeting by sending him down the street to an attorney to look over the legal issues. I’m not about to begin practicing law without a license.

9:30 am – Attempt to finish up a memo for another client re: a corporate restructuring designed to save state taxes by moving to Florida…he’s waiting for this memo so he can take it to his attorneys who will draft documents to form his new Florida corporation and then he can buy the hot new car he’s got his eye on. The urgency is all about the car, I just know it. Got sidetracked researching one tax issue after another…the plan is full of land mines, but he wants assurance that it’s “bullet proof” (but doesn’t want to go to the IRS directly and ask their permission…truthfully, that’s about the only way to get “bullet proof”).

10:30 am - Rush out the door for the 15 minute drive to a nearby conference center, to teach a 2-hour case study on Choice of Entity (corporation, partnership, LLC?) to a group of our staff that is visiting from all over the country. The 2 hour class is broken up by a 1 hour lunch break. *sigh*

12:00 noon - Break for lunch and rush back to the office to try and finish my memo to email the client.

12:50 pm - Rush back to class to finish teaching (never did finish the memo).

1:50 -3:30 pm - Back to the office to meet with another new client to discuss exit strategies/succession/retirement plans for 3 unrelated but equal owners, each with different timeframes and different ideas about what constitutes retirement and who they want to succeed them in the business. Oy! We spun around in circles for a full hour and a half, staying just this side of an all-out fist fight. And now I’m charged with drawing up some “charts and graphs” to present several different options, none of which can possibly provide all that they require. Where is Ross Perot when you need him?

3:30 pm - Rush out the door again to drive across town for a meeting that started at 3:30 and it takes 30 minutes to get there. This is the annual officers’ meeting for the KC Estate Planning Society where we transition to the new slate of officers for the coming year. Whereas I was Secretary last year (and acting Treasurer after we lost our actual Treasurer), and will be Vice President next year, I am the one with most of the stuff they needed for the meeting…last year’s minutes, financial statements, program for next year, etc. Nice that I’m a half hour late (I did warn them this might happen when they insisted on scheduling it at 3:30, so really, I don’t feel too guilty, just stressed).

5:00 pm - Head back to the office (even though I’m half way home at this point) to finish the restructuring memo and prepare a budget and financial statements for the bi-monthly Jewish Art Gallery (no, I’m not Jewish, but I have difficulty saying “No” and they had difficulty finding a treasurer, so…) board meeting at 7:00 pm (yes, I could have done these much earlier, so the fact that I’m now doing them the hour before the meeting should not generate any pity).

6:55 pm - Finish financial statements and make 20 copies for meeting (let’s not talk about the difficulties I faced at the copier).

7:00 pm - Head out of the office for the last time, to meet up with the Gallery folks, which meets in an old folk’s home. First thing on the agenda is a surprise visit from the generous philanthropist who helped us set up an endowment fund. He appeared in a blue polyester jump suit (imagine a very Jewish looking Jack La Lane…pardon my stereotyping but seriously, it was a sight to behold) and talked to us about how to become independently wealthy). He tells us how to invest our endowment and promises we will earn a minimum of 20%(!) every year. With the miracle of compound interest, our measly $100,000 is to become $300,000 in just 5 years. He never even cracked a smile. We shall see. Color me skeptical. He shared his investment philosophy with us and we listened intently. Then, after he left, I shared with the board that today our $100,000 endowment fund is worth only $90,000. Then we endured the usual board discussion about upcoming shows and fundraisers and at 8:30 pm, we had a rare guest artist appearance, extending our adjournment to 9:00 pm. The artist gave a slide show presentation of his entire life work which consisted of water faucets/valves/vessels and wood vessels containing or connected to water faucets/valves/vessels. Did I mention that this is a Contemporary Art Gallery? By the end of the slide show…drip, drip, drip…I was pretty much done for the day.

9:00 pm - Begin the 35 minute commute home, only to be confronted with lots of nighttime construction that slowed things down to a crawl in several places.

10:30 pm - Arrive home exhausted after an hour and a half commute, and hungry. Fix myself some leftovers for dinner and sit down to “unwind” (reading some financials for another client who wants an answer right away about whether to buy an adjacent retail business or not).

Midnight – Bedtime! Time to rest up for the next day. And the cycle continues. Or not. I really hope not.

Lamentations 3:23 Great is his faithfulness; his loving kindess begins afresh each day.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Car Problems

Overheard today at the car dealership, while waiting in the lobby for my car to be serviced:

Service dep't customer relations guy: "Sir, the problem is you're out of gas."

Customer: "Huh?" (accompanied by a blank stare)

I am not kidding.

Don't you hate that, when you're car just refuses to go anymore, until you fill 'er up?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Blogger Images (Revised Edition)

Update: Pending review of complaints filed with the local blog review board, blogger images have been replaced (with boring but sappy sweet images) to protect the innocent:

I picked this up at Foo's place:

Here are the instructions:

1. Choose a search engine (e.g. Google).
2. Pick 5 random blogfriends.
3. Think of a word or phrase that describes each friend (or use their blog name).
4. Do an image search of that word or phrase.

Click on the links to see the blogger's blog and related image:

Foo (blog) - "cynical sociopath" (just kidding, Foo! ;-)
Emma (blog) - "bee's knees"
Eric (blog) - "Fire Ant"
Jen (blog) - "Speaks" (updated to present a slightly more upbeat image of the delightful Jen; btw, the name of this image is "God Speaks" which is quite fitting)
Beth (blog) - "sleepy lady"

Nightstand Revelations

Susie suggested that we all join her in a major cleaning effort, starting with that ultimate clutter magnet and storage facility for things dear to us, the drawer beside our bed (in my house, the kitchen "junk" drawer is much, much worse, but we'll get there later, I'm sure). So, here it is:

Starting at the top and moving roughly clockwise around, we have the following:

Life Application Bible
A Year With C.S. Lewis, daily reflections
Collection of blank greeting cards
A bunch of pamphlets and tracts from the Billy Graham Crusade a couple years ago
Various scraps of paper with notes and Bible verses written on them

Estate Planning Report May/June 2006 (this edition contains a recap of the Anna Nicole Smith saga)

Book list from my Aunt’s long-standing book club (this is a list so long, I can only hope to hit the tip of the is responsible for two of my all time favorites, Prayer for Owen Meany and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime)

Hair tie

Wall brackets to support the drapery rod that stands in the corner, a small home improvement project that has gone unfinished for three years now

"Seacret" body lotion, made with minerals from the Dead Sea
Cuticle oil, also from the Dead Sea
Dead Sea fingernail file block that makes nails looked polished even when they aren’t (it's amazing!)
Arbonne lip balm

Notecard received from one of the girls

Business cards (need any painting?)
Pens and markers
Cork from the bottle of wine that we drank at my Dad’s 70th birthday not so long ago
Tape measure

Postcard from the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio in Oak Park, IL

AAA Battery
Rubber band
Binder clip

Travel candles in “Bangkok” and “Jasmine Tea” fragrances

An odd assortment of pamphlets, ranging from foundation products for the face, to roofing products for the house:

Laura Mercier make-up products
Epsten Gallery exhibit brochure for upcoming show
The Orchid Growing Guide (for the orchids that long ago fell victim to the lack of care and feeding outlined in this guide)
Homedics Sound Spa instruction manual, for my alarm clock
IMBA, a Shona sculpture gallery in Portland, Oregon (we collect these)
Channel directory for our new satellite TV service
Map & Guide to Powell’s City of Books, in Portland, OR (the only bookstore I’ve ever been to that required a map…it’s worth a trip to Portland, just to go to this store)
Tamko roofing products

Retractable telephone cord that no longer works

There. That wasn't so painful. Now, I'll throw away some of the above and start over. Go ahead, you try it (and as Susie says, no "icky" stuff please). ;-)


Thursday, June 22, 2006

I'm A Lady!

Heh. This is just funny. People who know me know that I am not exactly "lady" material. Girl? Yes. Tomboy? Definitely. Lady? Not exactly.

But apparently, here are some of the things that qualify me as a lady:

I never ask if I look fat (I already know the answer).
I never use call waiting (I don't even have this feature on my phone).
I never talk on the phone in a restaurant or the movies (or much of anyplace else for that matter...wait, I must correct that statement...I did answer the phone in a fast food restaurant once, but that was because it was Lyn(don) calling...and then I talked with my mouth full).
I dress modestly, never "sexy," and if in doubt, I dress up rather than down (this is just being conservative).
I don't flirt with men I'm not interested in (really, who would do this? I mean, if you're not interested. That's just stupid.)
I don't tell racist or sexist jokes (in fact, I don't tell jokes at all because I can never remember the punch lines).
And I don't gossip.

And here's further proof:

You Are 72% Lady

Overall, you are a refined lady with excellent manners.

But you also know when to relax and not get too serious about etiquette

Are You A Lady?

But I like this quote:

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."
[Margaret Thatcher]

I think I've said enough. ;-)


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More Airshow Photos

This, until I can get home to photograph the contents of my bedside drawer for all the world to see, courtesy of Susiebadoozie. Feel free to play along and publish your own contents. ;-)

More airshow photos...for Eric (you mean "black specks," like these?), whose photos of real wings in flight are worth seeing.

It's a bird! No, it's a Batmobile B2 bomber:

Here's the F/A-18 doing a slow motion dance across the sky so I could take its picture (the clouds you see were only intermittent, for dramatic effect):

(you can click to enlarge the otherwise nearly invisible specks)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Just Priceless

These must be made up but were too good not to pass
along! From the inbox...

The Bible According to Kids

"In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, God got
tired of creating
theworld, so he took the Sabbath off.

Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree.

Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark. Noah built an
ark, which the animals come on to in pears.

Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball
of fire by night."

"The Jews were a proud people and throughout history
they had trouble with the unsympathetic Genitals.

Samson was a strongman who let himself be led astray
by a Jezebel like Delilah.

Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the

"Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they
made unleavened bread, hich is bread without any ingredients.

The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert.
Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten ammendments."

The first commandement was when Eve told Adam to eat
the apple. The fifth commandment is to humor thy father and mother.
The seventh commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery."

"Moses died before he ever reached Canada. Then
Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol. The greatest miracle in
the Bible is when
Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him."

David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar.
he fought with the Finklesteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical

Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines."

"When Mary heard that she was the mother of Jesus,
she sang the Magna Carta."

"When the three wise guys from the east side
arrived, they found Jesus
in the manager. Jesus was born because Mary had an
immaculate contraption. St. John, the blacksmith, dumped water
on his head."

"Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do
one to others before
they do one to you. He also explained, 'a man doth
not live by sweat alone.'"

"It was a miracle when Jesus rose from the dead and
managed to get the
tombstone off the entrance."

"The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 decibels."

"The epistles were the wives of the apostles."

"One of the opossums was St. Matthew who was also a

"St. Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy
acrimony, which is another name for marriage."

"A Christian should have only one spouse. This is
called monotony."

(These statements were written by actual students
and are genuine, authentic, and unretouched. They were compiled by
Richard Lederer and appeared in the Catholic National Review.)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Testing, Testing

Have no fear. I won't bite. ;-)

You Are 4% Sociopath

You're empathetic, loyal, and introspective.

In other words, there's no way you're a sociopath... but you can spot one pretty easily!

Are You A Sociopath?

On the other hand...

You Are 44% Obsessive

You're somewhat obsessive, especially when it comes to a couple things (like horrifying thoughts or cleanliness).

As long as your quirks aren't interrupting your life, it's all good.

How Obsessive Are You?

I really thought I'd score a lot higher on the obsessive test, until I saw the questions. Try for yourself.

via Foo, the 24% sociopath.


Wings Over Whiteman

Yesterday was the fabulous Wings Over Whiteman Air Show. We attend this show faithfully every year. Nice that it is on Father's Day because it's an especially nice tribute to the men who have served in the military, and especially to those who have fought, and even moreso to those who have flown in combat. It's an impressive lineup of aircraft both on the ground and in the air.

Whiteman Air Force Base is home to the B2 "Stealth" Bomber:

Not only are we treated to numerous fly-bys, but we were told that this is the only air show in the world where we also witness a landing...notice how stealth this machine is (and also a little Darth Vader-like) even on the ground:

Yesterday, the B2 also did a touch down and take off which is fairly impressive for an aircraft of this size. The B2s are sent over to Iraq frequently and when they do so, it's a non-stop round trip to Iraq and back. 36 hours. Two men. No bed. On their last trip, they loaded up a chaise lawn chair for a little rest. I found that very funny and a little disturbing, that on board this amazingly expensive, high-tech piece of aeronautic equipment, we have Wal-Mart patio furniture providing the creature comforts. Anyone else also a little worried about the fact that only one man is awake? I'm not sure what we paid for this puppy, but it's a boatload, I know that. Anyway, very impressive!

As was this, the F/A 18 Super Hornet (aka the Rhino), traveling at .98 Mach which as I understand it came "this close" to breaking the sound barrier right before our eyes. This too was a most impressive piece of equipment:

There was lots more to see, but I'll leave it at that. All that, to say we had a very lovely day in the sun yesterday. It was 87 degrees but out on the tarmac, it felt like 110.

And a big thank you to all the folks who have served our country!

Friday, June 16, 2006

My Bumper Sticker

This fits, I think...

Your Bumper Sticker Should Be

Give me ambiguity - or give me something else

What Bumper Sticker Should Be On Your Car?

via Beth who is an accident waiting to happen. ;-)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Funerary Grace

Today, I attended a beautiful funeral that I think topped all funerals I have been to in terms of the music quality. Thankfully, the funeral was not for someone I knew personally but for the father of one of my business partners. I enjoyed the music tremendously.

First, the service opened with the congregation singing Amazing Grace, which is simply the most amazing hymn of all time, but then, interspersed between the invocation and scripture readings, were several duets performed by a husband and wife um, duet. They sang "In the Garden," "Old Rugged Cross" and "On Eagles' Wings." These old hymns really move the spirit. The husband sang a buttery smooth dramatic baritone and the wife sang a full bodied soprano. They made beautiful music together.

The highlight however, was the "special music" right before the closing prayer. I have never heard "How Great Thou Art" performed more eloquently. Now, I have to confess that when I saw Don Lipovac on the program, I thought to myself, what?! I giggled a little. An "inside giggle," of course. I mean, sure, he's a great polka player. We have some of his CD's. We've listened to him perform at many a Croatian church picnic. He's been on the Lawrence Welk show! How does one measure the success of a man if not by whether or not he has performed on the Lawrence Welk show?! So, he's a good musician. But at a funeral?! Turns out, the decedent played with him at one point and followed the band around for many years. Anyway, so the time comes for Don to come out, with his huge squeeze box in tow (the kind with piano keys and buttons). This was no toy accordion. And he started playing, before everyone could let loose the giggles they were keeping inside because well, you know, it's kind of funny to think of someone playing a polka in the middle of a funeral service. By the end of the song, most people were in tears and I swear, he could have segued right into a polka and it would have sounded fantastic! We would have danced. And Art (the decedent) would have loved it!

Anyway, I just wanted to share that wonderful experience with someone. I hope that if ever you are faced with having to make funeral arrangements for someone you love that you might consider having Don perform at the service. ;-) Okay, maybe not Don specifically, but you get the idea. And stick with the old hymns. They just don't make 'em like they used to.


Time to Get Serious

This is one of those "What is Wrong With People??" posts. WWWP. Today, I was driving to work behind the usual, pickups, SUV's, 18 wheelers. You get the picture. Congestion, frustration, etc. I am directly behind an orange pick up truck that is spewing McDonalds waste out the windows. I've been hit by the "fries with that" box (super sonic biggie jumbo sized) and a jumbo sized drink cup (lid and straw intact). The cup ricocheted off of my car and into the truck behind me causing him to swerve a bit.

Here's where road rage hits me. How can people be so stupid?! And where's a cop when you need him, to enforce those littering fines you see posted everywhere? Not knowing what to do about it, I decide to pull up alongside him to see who this moron is and do oh, I don't know what exactly, but something to make my point being that he better pull over and "go back and pick that up." I'm not one for making obscene gestures or attempting to run someone off the road, so I'm really hoping that my glare will do the trick. As I pulled closer, I saw the perfunctory "How's my driving?" bumper sticker with a number to call. Perfect. Made note of the number to call later. Then I pulled up alongside of the orange truck and saw the words "Kansas City Public Works" on the side. You have got to be kidding me! The same people responsible for keeping our community picked up and in working order are also responsible for defacing it.

It's a sad day here in Kansas City. I'm calling that number.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pictures You Won't See in the Media

From the inbox today, along with a handful of other photos depicting the Iraqi people showing appreciation for the American troops. Please say a prayer for our troops and our president. That's my global public service request for today. :-)

Freakin' Out

Oh, yeah. I have a blog now. Almost forgot. Here's where I can speak my mind and post whatever I feel like posting, things of global importance if I want.

Well, today, I'd like to post a warning. After lunch today, I felt I needed a sugar fix (the M&M well is dry). So I went down to the vending machine and paid $.70 for a package of Starbursts, packed full of juicy fruit flavor. Nevermind that I have nearly choked to death on these...several times. I want my Oompa-Loompas NOW, Daddy!! That's how I get when faced with the current lack of sugar. Anyway, I know this makes no difference to you. The important part is that I started right in on the pack and immediately noticed a very off, chemical-like taste. Laced with cyanide, I'm sure of it. I hadn't heard of anyone tampering with the Starbursts lately, but you never know. Easy enough to inject stuff right into the paper package. But I looked closer at the package and noticed the word "Icy." What on earth? Who would think to ruin the worlds fruitiest, juiciest candy with minty something or other??? How utterly disgusting! Please, please, please, be advised to stay away from these, the nasty Icy Starbursts! Ugh!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Jennifer's Meme

A few days ago, Jennifer (of Jennifer's Nest - see link in post title), proposed a list of questions that ought to be asked in lieu of so many silly emails currently traveling around the world...questions to which we might really like to know the answers. I liked her list of questions and thought I'd attempt to come up with some here are her questions (and my answers):

1. When you meet someone new do you trust them or do they have to earn your trust? I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, sometimes to a fault.

2. What do you pay attention to when you meet someone or visit with someone you know? Their eyes and what they have to say...I’m looking for intelligent life and a sense of humor.

3. When you were in high school or college what did you want to be when you grew up? Something important. But I didn’t know what that was. I ended up an accountant by accident. There’s always the next life in which to be something important, I guess.

4. If you could have any career now what would it be? Career? I’m looking for ways to dump the career and do something FUN with my life! Traveling and writing about the things I learn along the way would be my ideal “career.”

5. Name a life changing moment that made your life better. Accepting Jesus as my savior

6. Name a life changing moment that changed your life for the worse. I honestly can't think of any such moments. I am blessed!

7. Are you a homebody or a gypsy? Definitely a gypsy! But I don’t wear bells or wander about with everything I own in a cart.

8. What do you collect? Roseville pottery, antique Sacred Heart & Immaculate Heart prints

9. Do you have a recurring dream or nightmare? Not that I can remember (I wish I could remember my dreams...they are mostly pleasant; I rarely have nightmares)

10. Why did your parents give you the name they did? It means fair, lovely white one. I have lived up to the “white” part.

11. What motivates you? Recognition for a job well done (this makes me want to do it again)

12. What scares you? Sounds that go bump in the night when I’m alone (or think I’m alone)

13. What three things do you need most day to day? Love, laughs, prayer

14. What do you think God is like? All mighty, all seeing, all powerful

15. What do you read? Almost anything, except science fiction, and historical non-fiction. I especially love travel essays (or memoirs) and I should be better about reading the Bible daily.

16. Name at least one book you’ve read that’s influenced your philosophy. Obviously, the Bible, but aside from that, maybe Plato’s version of The Last Days of Socrates (this helped me bridge some of the gaps between Faith and Reason, or maybe to see the gaps and to understand the serious limits of Reason)

17. What thrills you? BIG roller coasters and traveling to exotic lands

18. What do you struggle with repeatedly? Waking up early...I really wish I could be a morning person and a night owl, but I require 7 solid hours of sleep, sometimes more.

19. What makes you laugh? A really dry sense of humor; either that, or a really goofy sense of humor, like Mr. Bean or Monty Python

20. What makes you cry? Sporting events, dog shows (I cried just this morning when Cocoa, a Norwich Terrier won Best of Show at Crufts Dog Show...she’s just such a sweet little bitch), horse races (horses should not be made to work so hard), animal movies, anger, and loss

Now, you try it. Or not. If you want to. I won't push.

UPDATE (Jennifer updated her list of questions with a few additions, and has now posted her own answers):

21. What do you want your life to look like in 5 years?
Less stressful work; less stressful parenting (I've deliberately chosen not to blog about the challenges of parenting teenagers, but it's amazing that the human species survives the teen years)

22. What is one thing you would like to achieve before you die?
Hmmm...I'd like to travel around the world, see every continent, or something like that. But if I really think about it, seriously, my real goal is to reach a point where I know I have done my best to make a leave a legacy of some kind, however small.

23. What talents do you have?
That's a tough one. I am my toughest critic, so my initial response is "none." But I like to think that my number one talent is having a "can do" attitude. I believe that I can do whatever I set my mind to doing...whether that's solving a problem, learning a new hobby (I think I might have some untapped artistic talent but have only explored this in limited doses...silversmithing; beadwork; sewing; painting; glassblowing; music...piano, violin, flute; photography), entering a new career, learning to sail around the world (see #22). I also think I have higher than average diplomacy skills. Is that a talent? I'm grasping at straws here on #23. ;-)

24. Which one is your favorite and why? Ummm, my artistic leanings (let's not call it talent) because I love art. Art gives our life dimension. But my diplomacy skills have probably served me best.

25. What’s one thing you don’t think other people know about you that you would like them to know? Even though I enjoy my alone time and keep to myself a lot, I really do like people and want to be a better friend and family member.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

On Being Neighborly

Tonight, we came home to this note on our door:

Dear Neighbors,

I saw that your mower might not be working so I thought I'd see if you need it mowed.

Signed, your neighbor (whom we've never met, with a phone number provided)

Well, isn't that special? Seriously! We have about 3-4 acres, all of which gets mowed, so this is no small offer. When's the last time you offered up as much to your neighbor? When's the last time I did? Never! Guilty, as charged.

Now, my cynical self admittedly kicks in here and I'm feeling guilty about that, but there's some back story here which may or may not bear repeating.

First, our mower is not not working. It is simply out of gas and we left it where it was when this happened (in the front yard...for the record, this is not unlike our friendly neighbors to the south, in Arkansas, where most things are left out in the front yard...oh, that's not nice...but it's true ;-). Apparently, the mower in the front yard is unsightly and cause for concern, possibly bringing down property values.

Second, we are a little sensitive about people suggesting that our yard needs mowing, as if we aren't being responsible citizens. You see, we moved back to the Midwest from CA where yards consisted of rocks, natural shrubs and poison oak. Upon moving to Kansas City, we initially took up residency in the heart of the city, on a busy street (although we lived on the "lower east side" of this street, the street itself is known as a "Parkway" and for those living on the "upper west side," it's a very high rent part of town). So we moved into our cute little house on the Parkway, with grass in front and back, giant honeysuckle bushes all around, and a few shade trees...we thought we were in heaven. And the grass crazy...and we didn't have a lawn mower. In fact, we didn't even think about getting a lawn mower...until the Grass Police showed up at our door. We had no idea how particular people could be about their yards. We had no experience with the likes of home owners associations or in our case, "Neighborhood Watch Block Monitors." We left CA in part because we could no longer stand the extent to which the government gets in your business. So the Grass Police at our door was especially alarming. We were told in no uncertain terms that our grass was not to exceed 6 inches. Humiliated, we rushed off to Wal-Mart and bought a lawnmower, lest we get fined or sent to jail, we weren't sure what.

And all that to explain our sensitivity 12 years later. Now we know people who are compulsive mowers. These people not only mow regularly but they mow patterns in their grass. Our free form mowing drives these folks nuts. And I thought I had OCD. [rolling eyes]

So tomorrow we'll be sure to call and thank him for the offer (it was late when we got home tonight) and meet one of our neighbors. And if he turns out to be a kid looking to make some money mowing, then maybe we should consider outsourcing the job. I'm all in favor of that!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Three Things

If Blogger ever gets its act together, I have some very important things I'd like to say (I'm pre-writing this in hopes that one day, I will have my blog back).

#1) I am formally introducing the nekkid foot meme that Eric timidly proposed and Foo shunned for good reason, although his worst nightmare has not proven to be an issue for me since I posted mine a few days ago. Susie started the meme by showing off her new Teva sandals. Eric followed up with this, which, along with the more accurate retelling of the tale by reunion hostess, Becky, in the comments section, is a hilarious account of the Disastrous Flying Turtle Incident.

I tag everyone on my blogroll, including Dave Barry, to post a picture of their flip-flopped feet and since there is no "home base," you're it!

#2) On the subject of corporate excess (because bare feet and pork barrel spending go together somehow), today I was quietly eating a late lunch in the lunchroom which is provided for this purpose FREE to all employees, and reading an article in the paper about a former client. It seems that this company is now in the throes of a heated sibling rivalry over "excess spending." Like most family businesses, after the death of the patriarch, the heirs (kids) started bickering. Two of the kids run the business and two of them are not in the business but still own the other 50%. The gist was that one child sued another for the right to see the corporate records because she suspected excess spending on personal stuff. And she spent $500,000 in attorney fees to do it! This is a very successful business and let me just say that there is arguably some personal stuff paid for by every family-owned business. The stuff this guy is guilty of are a) receiving $200,000 per year in salary for being CEO (this is a multi, multi million, maybe billion dollar company, c'mon, there are CEO's out there pulling down million dollar salaries all day long), b) personal financial and tax services (this is exciting, a true luxury item), c) use of the corporate plane (this company happens to be the subject of a most unpopular recent tax court case that has resulted in a big, BIG reduction in what companies can deduct for airplane costs these days if there is any personal use at all, and the value of such personal use goes on the CEO's W-2, so he pays tax on it), and d) use of the company's training facility, in Oklahoma, for personal vacations. Okalahoma! Boy howdy! You can really live it up in Oklahoma. The accuser used to work for the CIA. She's now a retired civil servant. Need I say more? Lady, get a life! Honor thy father! STOP the bickering!!!

The punchline? I am sitting in the lunchroom, next to a table piled high with the "leftovers" from some lunchtime meeting that took place here in the building. I really wish I had my camera with me. On the large trays (easily 2 feet in diameter and there are two of them) are lots of expensive prosciutto, ham, salami, large blocks of aged blue, blue cheese (who eats this stuff straight anyway?), brie cheese, goat cheese, some other kind of special smelly cheese that I did not recognize, fresh figs and other fruit, dried fruits and nuts, roasted bell peppers, 5 kinds of olives, artichoke hearts, and a big basket of special breads to choose from. And these are just the leftovers of what looks like a feast for Kings! Now, if I indulged in a little prosciutto and goat cheese spread on some fine foccacia bread and didn't pay for it, am I in trouble? And who IS paying for this? Has my salary been impacted by these trays of decadence? I know I would not fork out the kind of bucks those trays cost for a dinner party at my house, probably not even for a wedding. Why is it here in the lunchroom? I think I'll call my attorney.

#3) I like things in threes. That is all.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Number 7

Ahem, okay, everyone is talking about the number "666" today, and then Beth brought up the number 7 and how next year we will get "777" which is a whole lot better than "666" for a few reasons:

1) it is the day I was born! Well, not 7/7/07 exactly, but a different year.
2) it is God's Divine Number; it is the number of completion and perfection (boy, do I feel special now!)
3) it is used more times in scripture than any other number

Short of practicing numerology here, Jim suggests that we consider making 7/7/07 a day of "radical forgiveness." I'm just here to promote his idea (I can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than to practice radical forgiveness!) Great idea, Jim! And thanks to Beth for bringing this up. I haven't had so much fun since, oh, I don't know, 7/7/77. ;-)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Introducing Cocoa (Speaking of Sheep)

I've still not put up the doggie photo roll, mostly due to fear it will further slow things down. But, here is Cocoa, brother of Smokey, both Australian Shepherds (both would love to have some pet sheep). Like Jim, we tried unsuccessfully to shave Cocoa for summer. His winter coat had turned into something like a shedding musk ox and was none too appealing. After several failed attempts, we paraded him through PetSmart, partially shaved and looking like something we pulled out of the garbage, and waited for an appointment with a professional groomer.

Before (before the winter coat became a matted case of dreadlocks):

After (after being sedated and given a proper grooming):


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Counting Sheep in 4/4 Time (Final Version)

Today was full of potentiality. Beautiful weather...warm but not hot, partly cloudy but still sunny, and nothing on the schedule. After church, we thought about going for a bike ride, maybe even try out the Katy Trail and take along a picnic. So we got on the internet to check out the trail details and in so doing discovered that today was the last day of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival. Billed as the "largest ragtime festival in the world," we decided against the bike ride and took off for Sedalia, Missouri. Now, we're not exactly ragtime fans. In fact, we barely know what constitutes ragtime. The words "boogie woogie piano" and "flapper girls" come to mind (update: turns out flapper girls came later...ragtime was a product of the early 1900's while flappers came along in the 1920's, but saloons and prostitutes were a part of, era, which seems a better choice of word than what I started to say, if you read the entymology of the word "ragtime"). Scott Joplin was the "King of Ragtime" and he hails from the region. We know that much. A quick scan of the events and extensive listing of performers and off we went, expecting to be dazzled by some great ragtime performances.

We weren't sure exactly where in Sedalia we were going, or what time the festival would end. We left home at noon, stopping at Panera for our usual scones and coffee, then we hit the road for the hour and a half drive to Sedalia. Sedalia is bigger than we expected. And quieter too, for being the host of the "Worlds Largest Ragtime Festival." When we got to town, we drove around looking for a crowd and eventually found ourselves at...well, at the Sheep Pavillion of the Missouri State Fairgrounds. It seems that today, Sedalia was also playing host to the Heart of America Sheep and Fiber Show. Yes! It's our lucky day! We know nothing about sheep and fiber, but if this is where God wants us, who's to argue with God? So we got out and had a look around. And who can resist this look, from the maker of angora wool?

And this! What in the world is this?! It looks like a creature out of Star Wars!

And then there was the actual competition...

...for which people had traveled many miles, some from as far away as California (and if you click to enlarge the picture, you'll see what a popular spectator sport this is). Watching them wrestle these beasts out of the ring was the most entertaining part, as they grabbed them by the horns and literally dragged them out, the animals squirming, kicking and squealing like children refusing to go to bed. It was all very entertaining, but it wasn't a ragtime festival.

We spent about an hour wandering around the pavillion, taking pictures, petting sheep and talking about buying that "Big Missouri Red" buck (emphasis on big). He was beautiful! And we thought he'd make a great lawn ornament alongside our horse, until someone told us that the bucks are vicious. Vicious? Yes. Darn. So we're still sheepless.

By the time we finally managed to weave (heh, get it?) our way back into town and ASK for directions, we learned that the ragtime festival was over. In fact, it was mostly over yesterday, but there had been one concert this morning (while we were still at church). We learned all this at the Ragtime Store, the only store open on a Sunday in downtown Sedalia. We did come away with 5 new ragtime CD's though (update: in response to certain criticism, let me clarify...while these are "new" CD's to us, ragtime enthusiasts covet the vintage of their music, treating each song like an antique collectible and so, even new performers, who are trained classically, generally perform old favorites as opposed to writing new songs). This will just have to tide us over until next year's Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival rolls around again.

More updates:

Scott Joplin was actually born in Texas, which I imagine explains why Eric is so concerned about getting Joplin's roots right. But he spent most of his adult life in Sedalia, MO. A nearby town, Joplin, MO was (correction of previous "update" here) not named after Joplin, nor Joplin after the town, nor did Joplin ever live in Jopin near as I can tell. It's all just a coincidence, if you believe in coincidences.

Joplin wrote a special song, called Cascades, in 1904 for the World's Fair in St. Louis, but because he was black, he was not allowed to perform inside the gates. So instead, he set up his band just outside the gates and entertained a large crowd for the duration of the fair. At least, that's what the owner of the Ragtime Store told us. We bought a CD with "Cascades" on it.

I also forgot to mention the Goober Burgers (a big juicy burger slathered in peanut butter) we enjoyed at the world famous Wheel Inn. ;-)

And that's a wrap!


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Summer Shoes

I do not like the heat and humidity, but I love my summer shoes (they're Birki's)!

You can click to enlarge the picture but beware my feet! ;-)

Summertime Saturday on the pod:

Hawaii Five-O, The Ventures
I Live for the Sun, The Sun Rays
Surf City, Jan & Dean
Surfer Joe, The Surfaris
California Sun, The Rivieras
Fun, Fun, Fun, The Beach Boys
Wipe Out, The Surfaris
Surfin Bird, Trashman
Pipeline, The Chantays
G.T.O., Ronny & the Daytonas

Okay, now we're talkin' Summer! :-)

Friday, June 02, 2006

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

I'm back!

This is the day I have been expecting since the day I started blogging. Today was the day that the "Magic Template" mysteriously disappeared. I don't know how it happened, but it appears that all that really disappeared, now that it is restored, were the minor modifications I had made, namely my links to you guys (and my Map Stats counter that was really heating up after posting the Bravo Movie list...maybe it burned up the template). I'll fix the links shortly. I'm just thankful that whatever I done did, didn't undo the archives of posts and comments. We'll save that for a later date. ;-)

Welcome Back, Lyn!

It seems that Lyn(don), of Bloggin' Outloud, is back in business. He promises not to get addicted this time, but don't let that stop you from visiting him. He's a very wise and funny (maybe that should be "punny") guy who's worth reading. Take a look. Go on, you know you want to, just do it. ;-)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Fashion Spelunking

Brian, over at Bean Quest, directed me to this site to learn more about why he was undertaking the new art of "Card Throwing." In verifying Brian's story, I came upon this, "History Shapes the Future," which I thought was very funny. Maybe it's the Hitler in me, but still, take a look if you have any fashion sense whatsoever.

The Five Finger Prayer

From the e-mail box today. I had not heard this before, but it really has some merit. Simple but meaningful. Here ya go...share it with the kids you know.

Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C.S. Lewis once said, a "sweet duty."

The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.

The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.

The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

And lastly comes our little finger, the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, "the least shall be the greatest among you." Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

"Who Says I'm Not Under the Special Protection of God?"

Oh, look, there's Hitler again! Color me flummoxed. :-

Your Inner Blood Type is Type A

You seem cool and collected, though a bit shy.

You are highly driven and a perfectionist, but that's a side you keep to yourself.

Creative and artistic, you are a very unique person who doesn't quite fit in.

People accept you more than you realize, seeing you as trustworthy and loyal.

You are most compatible with: A and AB

Famous Type A's: Britney Spears and Hilter

What's Your Inner Blood Type?