Friday, March 29, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

But That Was Yesterday

It's a known fact that in the last few weeks of the tax season, all female accountants will menstruate - at least once. I do not mean to make the argument for male accountants. Rather, I encourage you to check your lunar calendar or the tides tables or whatever it is before coming into proximity with a female accountant during tax time - unless you are bearing edible gifts such as those mentioned yesterday.

I am about to lose my shit.

Every year I fall prey to a meltdown and I fear mine could come at any moment. I go from feeling incredibly productive to powerfully frustrated within seconds and find I have no control over it. (PMS, anyone?) Surely, it could have something to do with my diet which, as you have read, centers mostly on coffee and chocolate. If my employer didn't bring in lunch every day, I would forget to feed myself at all.

It could also have to do with my lack of any physical activity whatsoever. Thank goodness the bathroom is at the end of the hallway or I wouldn't get any exercise at all.

It's a bubble, and I know it's a bubble. I just have to get through the bubble and I'll be okay. I just have to get through the bubble without bursting but even if I do, it won't last long. If I can just hold my shit together for a couple more days, I know I'll make it to the finish line. Just one more tiny hill in the 25th mile.

And, then, Hawaii. My happy place. I'm working my ass off so I can go to my happy place. And I can do this. Just a little longer.

Mood swings. Jeez.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Feed Your Local Accountant

I was going to start a campaign right around April 1st to encourage you to bring your favorite accountant something to eat. Think of it as The Twelve Days of Christmas except in April while you're contemplating getting your taxes done. Each day, I would provide you with a helpful hint from my personal list of favorite things. For example, April 1st could be Bring Your Accountant Ice Cream Day, followed by cookies on the 2nd, and so on.

As it happens, I may not need to send the memo. Today, someone brought me a latte and someone else brought me banana bread, and someone else bought chocolate chip cookies (and potato chips) for the entire office. I might not even have to break into the emergency chocolate reserve today.

You know, it's no coincidence that Girl Scout cookie sales coincide with the beginning of Tax Season. But the cookies are long gone so I suggest you keep that in mind before you think about bringing your taxes to your accountant because she is starting to lose her mind.

But for today, this accountant is on a caffeine and sugar high that should last until .... zzzzzz.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Coffee, blah blah

So, guess what? Today's topic is coffee. Novel, eh?

Actually, the topic is coffee makers which is only marginally more novel.

This is what mine looks like:

I've had it for roughly ten years. It still works like a champ and makes excellent coffee. I've seen used ones  on E-Bay from $75-$125 and Amazon  at $175. I don't remember what I spent on mine but, whatever it was, I got my money's worth.

 It was marketed as the Starbucks Barista Home Espresso Machine a decade ago - a rebranded Saeco machine. The closest thing to it now is the Saeco Via Venezia machine and if it works as well as my Starbucks Barista machine then that's the one to get.

There's nothing automatic about this machine. There's no timer to brew just as you're getting out of bed. You can only make one deliciously fresh cup of coffee at a time. And, if you choose to have one, the coffee grinder is separate. (Another topic, but burr grinder is the way to go.)

I've had drip, French press, and we have a fully automatic Jura-Capresso Impressa ENA 3 at the office (that we got at Costco so we got a good deal at something like $600-$700). My favorite is the Barista/Saeco.

Why don't you stop by and I'll make you a cup?

Monday, March 18, 2013

March Madness

Now that it's absolutely clear that you've blown your New Year Resolution, you may be of the mind to re-commit to a weight loss and/or fitness ideal. With the changing of the clocks and subtle hints of Spring, one is tempted to believe that warm weather is only a few weeks away and that time remains to get in shape before one sheds one's winter clothing.

May 1st - only six weeks away - is Opening Day for boaters in Seattle, however it is generally guaranteed to be wet and rainy. Summer in the Pacific Northwest doesn't start until July 5th and only runs through the end of August. Which is to say, some of us have more time than others to prepare.

Your fitness tip of the day is this: Isometrics
...a form of physical exercise in which a set of muscles is tensed briefly....
The concept is simpler to understand if you break the word down into it's etymological parts:

Iso - comes from the Greek word for isolate. In employing isometrics, one isolates the muscle or muscles to be strengthened.

Metrics - comes from Europe and no one really knows what it means. It never really caught on in the United States. For our purposes, it is somewhat irrelevant as we will be concentrating on the Iso- part of the equation and success of the method will no doubt be measured in inches anyway.

To begin, we must select the muscle we want to tone and a great place to start for beginners is the abdomen. Ready? Squeeeeze, and hold. No, no - don't let it out. Just squeeeeze, and hold.

Now you may wonder if this exercise requires any special equipment or, more importantly, new clothes. If properly executed, no equipment is required but very likely you may have already noticed that you need new pants. When you suck in your gut, your pants are likely to fall down. You may be tempted to purchase pants containing Spandex to correct this problem but you would be strongly cautioned.

 Spandex is
A synthetic fiber or fabric ... used in the manufacture of elastic clothing.
and a major cause of obesity in the United States. Again, referring to the word's etymology, we see that "spandex" is an anagram of "expands." Instead of inspiring confidence to one who would suck in one's gut, it has had to a much larger extent, allowed people to feel quite comfortable in letting theirs out.

In conclusion, remember to work on your abdomen in isolation (isometrics), and buy suspenders.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Given a bit of high school trigonometry, you can quickly come up with the following formula: m = w / sin(θ)

The Food Lab: Slicing Meat Against the Grain

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

If You Just Can't Wait

When the smoke goes up, you'll know what's going down
(Heard on NPR's Morning Edition)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tax Season Has Its Benefits

I lost a friend to pancreatic cancer. He died February 18th, six months after he was diagnosed. His service was yesterday.

We were not close but, still, I feel overwhelming sadness at his loss. Our loss, I should say. He is far better off than he was in the last six months of his life. He tried chemo but it was too much. He quit treatments then found hospice, morphine, and an exit from what had become a very painful existence.

I miss him.

We met him on Lake Washington in 2006 when we were in the market for a new boat. We found one we liked online and Patrick had one just like it. We introduced ourselves and Patrick told us about the boat dealer in Portland where he got his boat.

On his recommendation, we went to Portland and purchased our boat - a 2003 Formula 37 PC with the name of Boom Boom. We only found out later that Boom Boom was Patrick's trade in.

We also found out that Patrick used to entertain quite a lot on Boom Boom. We would frequently be in our favorite anchorage spot when a boat would float by, the occupants waving to us until they realized we weren't who they thought we were. Patrick had a lot of friends and Boom Boom was well known on the lake.

We renamed her Double Jack but the keys are still labeled Boom Boom. We'll think of Patrick every time we go boating and we'll be forever grateful - not only for the boat but for all the people he introduced us to with whom we have become very good friends.

He was 53.

Over the weekend, we learned one of our friends lost his son in an auto accident. He was 29.

Needless to say, I'm feeling pretty sad.

And, it might be the only time in my life I can say I'm glad I have a ton of work to do.

Friday, March 8, 2013

It Wasn't Me

I woke up the other night to the foulest of smells. My husband wasn't even there but I rolled over anyway to check because there was no way that odor was coming from me.

The lack of a bedfellow confirmed, I went back to sleep only mildly concerned about the temporary passage of air pollution. But, then, it happened again.

I was absolutely sure I was incapable of producing such a malodorous disturbance so my mind contemplated whether there was a burglar in the house with a bad case of flatulence. From that moment on, I heard every creak and moan of the house but I was far too tired to get out of bed to defend myself and my house against the stinky intruder. He'll smoke himself out, I thought. No need to worry.

Fully conscious after my coffee the following morning, I remembered that sewer gases can enter the house if the traps in drain lines (from sinks and tubs) get dry. The water that normally collects there provides a seal between the house and what lies beyond. When that water evaporates, those sewer gases can come uninvited into the house.

So I ran water in my less used sinks and tubs (and the fact that I have less used sinks and tubs is good evidence that my house is too big and it's time to downsize) and the problem was solved.

Except, I'm missing my 14 carat diamond.

Oh, wait. I didn't have a 14 carat diamond.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How often does this opportunity present itself?

From KenKen on Facebook.
As a follow up to yesterday's announcement regarding Starbucks's new rewards card made with wood from sustainably managed forests, I have to say ... at least they're not plastic.

I don't think wood Starbucks cards are the best use of this resource as writing about Starbucks cards isn't the best use of my time, probably. But do you have any idea how many of those little plastic cards end up in landfills every year? Me either but I bet it's a lot.

I returned one once. I don't remember why. It could be I got it as a gift and after I used it up I had no use for it so I asked if Starbucks could recycle it. What I wondered was if they could sell it again to someone else. (They can be reloaded, so why not?)


And consider this: A few weeks ago, they offered a promotion promising $5 on your rewards card if you bought a pound of coffee. I already have a Starbucks card so when I purchased my coffee, I asked if they would just load the $5 onto my existing card.

Nope. I had to get a new card.

So after I got my new card, I asked if they could transfer my gift of $5 from my new card to my aforementioned already existing card.

No problem.

They transferred the amount and threw the new card away.

They should just hand out cash. At least that's recyclable.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

You know what I would do if I wanted to sustainably maintain a forest? I would chop it all down and use the wood to make Starbucks cards...

...because that's what our natural resources are for.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Easy Does It

The IRS has issued a statement for those people who are expecting refunds:
Due to the large number of inquiries and to avoid service disruptions, the IRS strongly urges taxpayers to only check on their refunds once a day.
Apparently, people are anxious to know about their refunds so they are checking online, with smartphone apps, or by calling. They are checking so much so that the IRS is worried about service disruptions.

Once per day is enough, they say, as their system doesn't update more frequently than that.

I was surprised when I first read this statement but since then we've had so many clients come in to file their taxes that I think people really are anxious this year. We have more new clients than ever and returning clients are coming in much earlier than in past years.

I'd like to tell everyone to slow down because I, for one, am overwhelmed. But I can't. The tax filing deadline is still April 15th, sequester or no sequester, and I'd rather have clients coming in now than on April 14th.

Someone always comes in on April 14th.

I'm not working today but I'll be in the office tomorrow. I'm already putting in 10-11 hour days so I don't feel at all guilty about taking today off. I'll be working seven days a week soon enough.

Tonight, we are attending the Commodores Ball at Rainier Yacht Club, a formal, black tie affair. My hair is done and my nails are painted. All that's left is the dress, makeup, and a pumpkin coach. I've already got the prince.

So, adieu, mon amis. I have the night off.