Friday, March 30, 2007

Have You Ever, A Meme

Just because. I haven't done one of these in awhile and the questions seemed kind of fun, so play along if you like. I'll wait.

Have You Ever:

(X) Smoked a cigarette - Yes. Once. I was 12 ('bout lit the side of the road on fire while we were at it), and maybe once again at about 21; what nasty, nasty stuff!

(X) Drank so much you threw up - Um, yes. Again, once. I was 18 (the legal drinking age in KS at the time, as long as you drank only 3.2% beer...again, nasty stuff and you had to drink a lot of it to get sick!), and I was at work (Dairy Queen) following a pool party in the sun. I remember that day vividly. Hey, at least I made it to work on time. 8-} Gag.

(X) Had feelings for someone who didn’t have them back - No comment.

( ) Been arrested - Nope

( ) Gone on a blind date - Nope

(X) Skipped school - Once. Eighth grade. Left school at lunch and went to a friend's house. Felt guilty for the rest of the school year.

(X) Seen someone die - Yes, but it was dark out and I couldn't actually see him die. It was a bad car accident outside our home. When we heard the crash, we rushed outside. 2 of the 5 passengers were killed instantly. One died while we tried to comfort him until paramedics arrived. One died a day or so later. The only survivor was the 16-year-old driver. Tragic.

(X) Been to Canada - British Columbia and the Northern Boundary Waters...beautiful!

(X) Been to Florida - Once. Hated it.

(X) Been to Mexico - Once. Tijuana (not exactly Mexico's finest city). Okay, here I did get sick from what I drank again, but it was the ice in the margarita, not the alcohol, and I was sick as a dog for days! Two exits, no waiting.

(X) Been on a plane - Many times. Hate flying. Would much rather drive 3 days than fly 3 hours.

(X) Been lost - Many times (although it's hard to be "lost" when you don't know where you're going)

(X) Gone to Washington, DC - Twice; a great city to visit!

(X) Gone skinny dipping - Once. Hey, I was young and there was water skiing involved and it was very, very dark!

(X) Felt like dying - I'm a baby when I get sick. Thankfully, I don't get sick often.

(X) Cried yourself to sleep - Though I can't remember why

(X) Played cops and robbers - I was quite the tomboy as a kid; I also played "war" and received a pretty good head bashing in that "game." My head bled for days but I refused stiches. Can you imagine stiches to the head? No, me neither. Ick. Let it bleed til I've no more blood left, I say.

(X) Recently colored with crayons - Just last week, I bought myself a coloring book and some brand new crayons and markers (I just love how new crayons feel!) ; my husband and I both colored and put the pictures on the refrigerator.

(X) Sang karaoke - Once. With my was our end of tax season party. On a dare. We sang Y.M.C.A. It was awful.

(X) Paid for a meal with only coins - Hello, Taco Bell!

(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t - You mean like eating that last handful of jelly bellies? Yes.

(X) Made prank phone calls - Just the usual 10-year-old "Have you got Prince Albert in a can?" stuff. Nothing recent.

(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose - My goal is to do this at least once a day.

(X) Laughed until liquid came out the other end - Ahem.

(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue - and made snow ice cream! mmm...

(X) Gotten out of a speeding ticket - Once. I'm not usually so lucky. And I refuse to beg when I know I'm guilty. I'm usually the one admitting guilt before the officer even opens his mouth.

(X) Danced in the rain - and on the beach. It was a slow dance.

(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus - Of course, and he even wrote back!

( ) Been kissed under the mistletoe - Not that I know of. Near the mistletoe, maybe. But not directly under it.

(X) Watched the sun rise with someone you care about - Some of life's finer moments. :-)

(X) Blown bubbles - Not all that long ago...those big giant bubbles!

(X) Made a bonfire on the beach - More of life's finer moments.

(X) Crashed a party - Probably. Those college days were a little rough.

(X) Gone roller-skating - Hello? Child of the 70's here. Couples skate? Was there anyplace else a 12-year-old girl could get hooked up? Not that I was ever successful, you understand. But a girl can dream. ;-)

(X) Ice-skating - Once. Not very good at it and frankly, one of the times I thought I might die. Very scary!

(X) Swam in the ocean - Many, many times. But also a very scary place to be!

Via Hillbilly, Please


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Speaking of Dogs

Today's top story...

When frogs become dogs (or dogues, as Foo might call them)

(story via Hillbilly, Please, via Darko, who has apparently locked himself in a dark room and refuses to come out and play until the tushery and agraphia wear off)

Aside from the especially humorous possibilities that Jane points out, of being the Official Frogwatch Coordinator for your local homeowner's association, or your office for that matter, I liked the fact that this poor thing was captured during a raid on a pond! This sounds like a job for Brian, who is currently the top candidate for Molewatch Coordinator.

Oh, and by the way, that book Jane mentions, In A Sunburned Country, another one of my favorites, by Bill Bryson, is well worth the read. Absolutely, side splittingly funny.

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Project 52 - #11

On The Job

Catching up on Project 52. This is from last weekend, a photo of Smokey supervising my beloved husband on the job. Smokey is responsible for monitoring quality and safety practices of the business. This particular job site is a piano bar in downtown Kansas City, currently undergoing a face lift. The link shows more shots of this historic site. It's nice to see downtown KC finally coming alive again.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Accounting and Dogs, Revisited

Like I mentioned the other day, I don't make many house calls, but there are a few clients, most of them elderly, for whom this makes a lot more sense than endangering the lives of many by asking them to drive in to the office. I also facetiously said that my business cards say "Will work for food and shelter..." As I see it, that's not far from the truth. I seem to be on a roll with the dogs lately.

Today's timesheet included one half hour (at the "God must really be laughing now billing rate" of $295/hour...not that I get paid that much you realize, it all goes toward the greater cause) for "walking the dog." Another quarter of an hour for "hanging picture on wall." I so wish I were joking. And if the client weren't such a hefty pain in the rear, I might have let it go for free. But not today. The dog and I enjoyed a nice walk. :-)

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Clarity of Dress

It's Chinese food again. Must be Monday. Truly, the days all blend into one (except for on the weekends, when I get to work in pajamas). I was hoping for something better in tonight's fortune cookie message, like winning lottery numbers or something, but all I got was this:

"Simplicity and clarity should be your theme in dress."

Anyone have a clear dress I could borrow?


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Insanity - Revisited, or Near-Death (by Chihuahua)

Yesterday, I was bitten by Paco, a black and white chihuahua (this will no doubt please Jimmy to no end). I've never been bitten by a dog before. This just threw fuel on the already burning train wreck in my soul. Paco and I had never met before. I was trespassing on his territory while visiting a new client to pick up some tax information. I don't normally make house calls but I was in the neighborhood (having just visited another client where a "numeric colonoscopy" was in progress...thanks, Darko), and this guy complained about the long drive to my office so I thought I'd save him the trip, good citizen that I am. After an excruciating hour and a half of going through every bloody detail of the year's transactions, in a notebook containing all transactions since 1981, on a desk covered in a thousand post-it notes and pens and pencils lined up like military soldiers,

Quick side story about the pencils...

While this 70-something, recently widowed, obsessive-compulsive, gentleman was explaining the minutia of his financial transactions, he stopped for a minute to find just the right pencil, "where's my damn Eversharp?" were his exact words. When he found it, he carefully added a decimal to a number on one of his ledger papers (a paper that honestly, I will not use or refer to at all in the preparation of his tax returns, and the decimal was at the end of the number to show that there were no cents). I was literally wondering if it was possible to faint from boredom (we conducted our entire meeting standing up, by the way).

<*/end side story>

...I leaned over to pet Paco and he snarled and snapped my finger clean off. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but my shriek surely made Mr. B believe that is what happened. Mostly, he just bruised my fragile state of being. Stupid chihuahua.

Oh, but I almost forgot the real reason for this post. Insanity. Revisited. One year ago today, I was in a similar foggy state when I decided to start blogging. Because, you know, I didn't have enough to do and decided this would be a good way to kill time, or relieve stress, or something. Clearly a sign that I was deranged. But I shant let the day go unmarked. It's my ONE YEAR BLOGIVERSARY!! Whew. Sure glad I didn't miss that.

Speaking of anniversaries, and in answer to one of Darko's questions, this is my Silver Anniversary as far as "tax seasons" go. This will be my 25th year. And in answer to his other question, I think I've had my fill, thank you. I'm ready to do something else. Here are my options:

  1. Work in a factory assembling auto parts or stuffing envelopes
  2. Work as a greeter at Walmart
  3. Sell fresh flowers from a cart on a street corner
  4. Set up a woodturning/silversmithing studio with my Dad and become a jeweler
  5. Take painting lessons and become an artist
  6. Work in my husband's commercial painting business (although I might be more of a liability than an asset)
  7. Go to work for a private company in search of the elusive 40-hour work week
  8. Sell everything, buy a sailboat and an RV and live out the rest of my life as a gypsy

And finally, Darko also asks, do I know who is the Patron Saint of Accountants? Why yes. Yes, I do. But I do not have a signed picture of Saint Matthew in my office anywhere. Or a garden gnome for that matter. Which is probably at the root of my problems.

Oh, and Darko, bookkeeping is too accounting. It is the most fundamental part of accounting, and yet, it is one of the reasons I've been so frustrated lately, because so many of the problems I've had to help with internally were basic bookkeeping problems that should not have been so problematic for a bunch of accountants. Sheesh.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Insanity - An Update

I've just done the accountant's equivalent of smearing my peas around my plate. In a futile attempt at disguising my workload from myself, I have taken the several large (and growing) piles and moved them into many, many small piles around my office. I don't feel any closer to done. It just feels more manageable. I can see what is where and prioritize accordingly. I'm afraid I have finally arrived at that particular time of year when all I want to do is cry, or quit, or shoot somebody. One more request for one more thing, or one more question about something I think you should be able to do without my help, and I'm liable to go off the deep end. Which would be a blessing really. Bring in the white coat with the long, long sleeves. This is sheer lunacy. I wish I could more adequately describe for you just how insane "tax season" is, but really, nobody wants or needs to know.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Prayer for My Friends

I received the following in my email box today, from a dear friend. The usual request to pass along the email was present, but rather than sending on the email (I rarely comply with those requests), I thought I'd share it with "everyone."

As compared to yesterday and the day before, I am much more at peace today. A looming tax deadline, my Dad's knee-replacement surgery (his first major surgery ever was yesterday morning...and he's doing fine...thank you, God!), and just general fatigue nearly had me forgetting that God's peace and mercy were there for me. I was full of self-doubt and self-pity. But last night, I got home late after finishing up the last of my 3/15 deadline work and baked cookies at 3 in the morning (for my Dad who hopefully won't read this until I deliver them later today) and I awoke feeling refreshed and renewed. That's God's hand at work. And so, this prayer is for you...

Father, I ask You to bless my friends, relatives and those that I care deeply for, who are reading this right now. Show them a new revelation of Your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them Your peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence through Your grace. Where there is need, I ask you to fulfill their needs. Bless their homes, families, finances, their goings and their comings. In Jesus' precious name. Amen.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Project 52 - #10 (Cocoa's Baby)

This is not for germ-a-phobes. It belongs to Cocoa. It is his favorite baby. He has demonstrated his love by mauling it to death. I'm afraid if I wash it, the lamb will turn into a mass of batting and balled up threads. And so it sits. In the middle of our living room. Attractive, no?


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Things We Should Have Learned In Kindergarten

"It is human nature to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions, to remember their mistakes while forgetting our own."

This is a quote from yesterday's God Issues and it (once again) met me exactly where I was. It's the first part of the above quote that so affected me in these last few days when two different clients were upset with me for not returning their phone calls promptly. Granted I am not the world's best when it comes to returning phone calls. I detest the phone. I don't like talking on the phone. It makes me uncomfortable. That said, it's part of my business and I do return phone calls. I even initiate a few on my own at times. I'm a grown up now. These things should not intimidate me so. And I realize it's incredibly poor client service not to return phone calls. But my list is long (try coming back from your lunch hour to 22 new voice mails) and interruptions are constant and demands to attend to work on my desk are ever present, and then there's always (gag) billing. One of the voice mails was actually a threat to "get your billing done today or else your bonus will be withheld." Yes, bonus...that's the good news...or at least it was, until the reality of getting my billing done became an impossibility (somehow I don't think it's good form to tell clients, "sorry, can't help you right now, I'm working on billing you.")

So my point here is that while my intentions to return all of my client phone calls were good, some did not get returned. And while my reason for not returning them was valid in my mind, i.e. I had too much on my plate and I had to prioritize, this does not matter to each client individually, each of whom is just as important as anything else I might have been attending to. For this reason, I rarely offer up excuses when I am late in responding because frankly, I don't think they care that I was "busy helping someone else." Of course, I apologize for the delay, but I try not to go into a long-winded explanation. Thus, I am judged by my actions and not my intentions. And this hurts. It occurred to me that I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt in cases like this, because I have lived it. I wish other people would do the same. I wish people would assume the best in others instead of the worst. I wish people would be less self absorbed and see their place in a bigger world instead of the center of the universe. If I know the person, it's easier to give them the benefit of the doubt, or to judge their intentions moreso than their actions. Considering this, my goal is to develop the best personal relationship I can with my clients, so that they know that I truly wish to help them. Of course, actions speak loudly and we can't disregard them, especially our own.

And you know that bonus? It is a large bonus (1/3 of my annual salary..."large" is a relative term) and even if delayed until I finish my billing, I will get it. I should have been jumping up and down, happy, celebrating. But the fact that two clients were unhappy with me trumped all that. All too true is the old adage that money cannot buy happiness. Happiness comes from making others happy. I am never so happy at the end of a day as when a client tells me I have done a great job, or lets me know that I have helped ease their worries so they can sleep better at night. Not that what I do is curing cancer, but there are people out there who lose sleep over taxes and financial difficulties. If I can help to give them peace of mind, then I have done my job and a good day is when I know I've done my best. Still, it helps when others provide affirmation of that.

And the moral of the story? Judge others by their intentions. And as James Dennison reminds us...

But he remembers every act of godly service you have ever rendered another, every cup of cold water in Jesus' name (Matthew 10:42).

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Sound Of Music

Eric has posted a link to the latest release of musical lists that we bloggers love to maul over, embolden, strike through, italicize, etc. (The Definitive 200) and then created his own excel version of the list so that we might further our analysis. Even at this busy time of year, when my blogging pretty much moves underground, only to surface in your comments once in awhile, I took time to review this list. I think most would agree that there are some egregious omissions and some ridiculous inclusions, but take a look and make that determination for yourselves.


Monday, March 05, 2007

How Worldly Are You?

You Are Quite Worldly

You've done a good bit of worldly exploring, and you have an international perspective.

And you're definitely looking forward to your future adventures abroad.

You've got the passport, the desire to travel, and maybe even the language skills.

Now all you need are the means!

How Worldly Are You?

"Now all you need are the means"...and the time! And better language skills...I pretty much suck at learning new languages. Four years of French in high school and all I can say is je ne parle Francais, or parle vous Francais (and then, what if they say "Oui?!")?

Ah, yes, I do love to travel, especially if it doesn't involve work. What I love most about travel is experiencing how people live in different parts of the world, what their daily life experiences are like. And then I like to imagine how my life and perspective might be different if I had grown up in a different land. The furthest I have gotten from my own personal experience was a visit to a "gated community" in the Maasai Mara, a village made from cow dung and populated with Maasai nomads.

I usually make a point to see the "tourist attractions" while I travel, although I do so reluctantly and for the sole purpose of taking a picture to document that I was there (speaking of which, the Masai do not like to have their picture taken...because this "steals the soul," and so I respected their wishes...except they did allow photos inside the gated community for which we paid $1 admission; I have a nice portrait of the gatekeeping Elder as a matter of fact...ahem, isn't this akin to selling your soul?! Well, anyway, when I tried to steal a couple of photos outside of the village, the resulting images turned out blurry, ghostlike...I think there is a message there. ;-) Rarely though is sightseeing the highlight of my travels (the rare exception being The Grand Canyon for which Jim can tell you I absolutely rave about any chance I get). It's the people that make travel interesting.

So far, I have only seen a very small part of the world, but when visiting with others I realize that I have been blessed in my travels. Not nearly as blessed as my husband though, who can boast that he has been on every continent except Antarctica and pretty much every major port city in the world. Now that's a lot of traveling!

Some of my favorite travels though are in our own back yard, like the Grand Canyon, and small town America...for a great vicarious visit to small town America, read this book.

I'm getting the travel bug again. It happens every tax season when I feel the most confined. So I start scoping out the travel deals in Budget Travel magazine and online deals at TravelZoo and the like. I desperately need a vacation this year. Last year, we went nowhere. That's simply unacceptable.


Cute, to the 25th Power

For those who have ever navigated the bureaucratic red tape of obaining a passport (or adopting a child for that matter), I think you will appreciate the effort it sometimes takes to meet the specific demands made by our noble bureaucrats. Then magnify that about 25 times over for a two year-old son of parents from two different countries living in a third (the very definition of an Isoglossia). Hey, if nothing else, the result is 25 very cute mug shots of a little guy named Adam.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Project 52 - #9

What Formation?

Oops, looks like I missed a week. #8 will be forever missed. Oh, well. I've really got nothing. This shot of what looks like a complicated constellation, or some sky writing scribbles is actually Canadian geese struggling to get in formation. I suspect the confusion stems from the fact that they don't know whether to head North or South for what remains of Winter. One day it's 65 degrees and sunny, the next it is cold, gray and snowing. At any rate, there's a lot of 'em.

That's all I got.


Friday, March 02, 2007

An Honorable Servant

Today was the day that my step-grandfather was buried. He was 85 years old and left behind his wonderful wife of 64 years, three daughters (one of whom is my step-mother), 9 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, almost all of whom live close enough to be here today to celebrate his life, the "dash" if you will between his date of birth and his date of death. He was a good and faithful servant of God, his family and his country, serving 3 years in the Navy followed by a career in the Air Force.

As he said recently, we are all on the waiting list for Heaven and his name was finally called. We can all rejoice that he went in peace, knowing God and knowing that he was going to a better place, but he will be missed.

Dear Lord, bless those who mourn, with the comfort of your love that they may face each new day with hope and the certainty that nothing can destroy the good that has been given. May their memories become joyful, their days enriched with friendship,
and their lives encircled by your love. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.