Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Take a Memo

I get a tax briefing by subscription every day at work and sometimes I run across something that tickles me. I was going to repost the briefing in its entirety but I bothered to read the copyright notice and decided against it.

The brief referred to a memo issued by a United States Tax Court in the case of Benjamin J. Ashmore v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The matter concerned an accuracy-related penalty assessed for failure to report wage income.

Here's the part that's funny taken from the original memo:
Petitioner has been employed since 2004 as a senior policy analyst for the
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), for which he
regularly deals with numbers, formulas, and details. Petitioner has earned two
master’s degrees, one in public policy and the other in business administration. 
U.S. Tax Court Memo
His excuse: I didn't get the W2.

Okay,  maybe not laugh out loud funny. But definitely tax geek funny.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Studies Show Bacon Might Not Make Everything Better

I find that when I need to make bacon it makes sense to cook up the whole package. No need to make a mess twice; cook it all up and freeze what you don't need immediately for a future use. Especially, on a boat. Making bacon on a boat is a bad idea.

I've had three-quarters of a pound of bacon in the freezer on my boat for several months. Don't ask me why we didn't eat it. What would prevent me? Really, I couldn't tell you. But what I can tell you is this: Bacon + freezer = bacon flavored ice.

I can imagine that bacon would enhance the flavor Coca-Cola. Or Root Beer, even. And you can be sure there's a bartender out there somewhere who's already invented a bacon-infused something or other.

But bacon and Jack?

It's interesting.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


It moos when you walk past.

Close Call

I've been a little worried about Vancouver's Finest. From the moment I posted it (and re-posted it on Facebook), I've been waiting for my face to appear on Dumbest Criminals (or something like it) for getting busted after publicly sharing criminal activity. I would like to set the record straight. To wit, I neither confirm nor deny that I was the driver of the car; I neither confirm nor deny the driver used, or did not use, a turn signal indicator; I neither confirm nor deny that I made the whole thing up.

That being said, someone pointed out to me yesterday that the licence plates were expired on the vehicle in question. Thankfully, said person was not wearing a uniform. I hightailed it out of the office (what better reason to leave work early than to right a wrong?) and drove within the legal speed limit directly to the emissions testing center. I thereupon went to the Department of Licencing to get new tabs.

A black and white rolled by as I was affixing the stickers to the rear license plate but I was in the clear. Just in time.

I wasn't in the clear a week ago when said car was allegedly parked across the street from the C-Tran bust. I'm just glad I didn't write about that.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Maybe Not So Homeless

We found a place to live in Vancouver. As you may recall, we were politely asked to move out of our previous residence after the owners' dissolving marriage required a reallocation of their own living situation.We thought we found another place to live - in fact, two other places - but snags of one variety or another prevented us from securing housing that didn't include room service.

By they way, room service works just fine for me. Living in a hotel has its perks besides no cooking. There are no other chores such as laundry or housecleaning either. But there's no place to hang one's hat, so to speak, and schlepping your stuff back and forth increases the risk that one might forget one's wallet or other pertinent item such as that.

On one occasion, Hubby forgot his entire suitcase. He left for Vancouver (WA) early one morning by car. About an hour later, as I was leaving for work in Seattle, I found his suitcase still in the garage. He had distracted himself by fetching our recently emptied garbage cans from the curb before loading his suitcase in the trunk and when he was finished, he had forgotten all about it. After I called to inform him of his omission, he turned around and I met him in Tacoma to reunite him with his belongings.

We should be moving in next week, if everything goes according to plan and if there's one thing I've learned is nothing ever goes according to plan. At least now I should be able to convince the cable company we haven't made off with any of their equipment.


Good movie. Available at Red Box. No kissing.

'Nuff said.

I Don't Know, Do You?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Traffic Clowns

You would expect clowns to drive in the carpool lane but you won't find them there. The only time they drive a Smart car or a Fiat 500 is at work but that's not what they drive to and from work.

I know this because a I saw a clown in traffic, most likely driving home after an birthday gig for a sticky four-year-old. It was more than a little unsettling to see him come up behind me in my rear view mirror. I was never afraid of clowns before but seeing one with road rage is bound to give me nightmares.

This clown's commuter car was a Suburban and he was definitely not in the company of other clowns. I can only imagine a clown would need a car of that size in order to transport a large quantity of whipped cream pies or whoopee cushions.

Not very fuel efficient either which means sooner or later you're bound to see a clown at the gas station.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Vancouver's Finest

I witnessed an arrest -  or I almost did - live and in person, the drama played out before my very eyes on the gritty streets of Vancouver. (Washington. Look it up.)

A man in his mid-twenties who appeared homeless, or perhaps efficiently self-contained, wearing a backpack from which dangled various housewares and a cardboard sign (the content of which I could not make out) came from around the corner. He was wearing a hat that looked very much like a mushroom from Alice in Wonderland. It was red with white spots and puffed up around his head much like ... well, like a mushroom.

He was walking his dog and minding his own business until a white van appeared. This incited the man. He yelled for the driver of the van to stop stalking him. The van drove away with the man's insults trailing behind him.

But the van apparently went around the block because it appeared again having no less affect on the young man. After a third pass by the van, the young man removed his hat and took a seat on the steps to a local church. Thus disguised, he sought his sanctuary.

The van passed again and there was no exchange between the parties. Several minutes passed, and thinking he was in the clear, the young man put on his hat and continued down the street. As if alerted, there were now two vans stalking the man, each with the official logo of Vancouver's local bus system, C-Tran. Perhaps, the young man did not pay his fare. Or, quite possibly, worse.

Much worse, it might seem, because it wasn't long before a squad car appeared. It cruised through the intersection but disappeared around the corner only to appear again moments later. This time, the officer pulled over in a way that meant business, askew and in the opposing lane of traffic.

The officer got out of the car and very politely approached the young man. No voices were raised but each kept their distance. In a moment, a second squad car appeared. Soon all three of Vancouver's finest were there, the third one adding a special flare by turning on his lights. The young man was now surrounded.

He took a seat on the sidewalk to discuss the current situation while officers who would make mall cops look good took position. Watching these developments, I couldn't help but notice the only thing that was impressive about these officers were their cars: sexy Dodge Chargers. I supposed if the officers weren't up to the task of actually chasing down criminals, it's possible they could entice bad guys to get in by simply stopping the car and opening the back door. But I digress.

The young man was was surrounded by three police officer and two C-Tran guys who were younger and more fit that the policemen. I'm not sure what to call the C-Tran guys - maybe they were police wannabes - but they were wearing utility belts so it looked pretty serious from that angle as well.

The city of Vancouver moved on without regard to the drama unfolding on its city streets. Traffic diverted itself in an orderly fashion around the five vehicles parked at odd angles across the street. Foot traffic continued by the scene, parents instructing children not to stare, while bigger kids rode their bikes with the sole intention of staring.

I, for one, called for my check at the outdoor restaurant where I was seated and headed for my car which was nearly in the middle of it all. Hell, I figured, if there was any time to commit a crime, the time was now.

I never found out what happened to the young man. There was nothing in the paper about the incident. I left the scene before whatever did happen played out. I got in my car, started the engine, and hightailed it out of there by way of a side street.

And I didn't use my turn signal.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pure Genius

Came home today to find my computer's battery backup needing attention, so signaled by a constant beeping sound coming from under my desk. "What the hell?" I thought whilst on my hands and knees, still in my work clothes, my ass the only part of me that might have been visible had anyone else come into the room. "What if I just push this button here?"

I thought it best to be cautious here. Unplugging things I don't completely understand could be a mistake so I changed into something more comfortable and poured myself a glass of wine. "Maybe it will just stop. Or, if I go outside I won't be able to hear it."

Of course, sooner or later I would want to go to bed and the problem would still be there so I decided the first step was to label all the electrical cords that were tangled beneath my desk using what I had on hand: yellow yarn and blue construction paper. What I found was that I had more wires than operational gadgets and when I was done labeling the mess was only slightly more organized and a lot more colorful.

I powered down my computer and monitor but I hesitated with my modem and router. What if I turn them off and I need to know a password or something to turn them back on? What if I have to call my cable company? What if I have to go back to looking things up in the encyclopedia and mailing handwritten letters? I was afraid my whole world could change if I snipped the wrong wire.

I called my not-so-local computer guru who helped me identify the little black boxes with blinking lights as the aforementioned modem and router. A patient man, this guru, as he managed to reduce his geeky advice to monosyllables for my more-blonde-than-usual benefit. Said advice boiled down to, "Don't worry, everything will be fine."

And it was, I'm here to say. Of course, I could have claimed an internet blackout as my reason for not writing sooner but I should have thought of that earlier.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Physics and Pie

Replacing a portion of water with alcohol or vinegar can help impede gluten formation. Rum and vodka were among the students’ favorites....
New York Times: Science Builds a Better Pie
Do they get college credit for that?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Class teaches babies to avoid drowning

Class teaches babies to avoid drowning: Kaylee Emmert doesn't walk yet, but she's already learning how to keep herself from drowning. KPTV (7/2/13) 
Pretty cool video.

Division of Labor

What's the division of labor in your house? I was chatting with a young newlywed recently. Neither she nor her new husband ever had a roommate before. They were not only learning how to live with one, they were learning to be one.

When I first got married, the first time, we assumed traditional roles. I was pretty much in charge everything that took place inside the house and he took care of what was going on outside.

By the first time I got married, the second time, things hadn't changed much except that I was better at asking for help. Still, help was only given when asked for and I was responsible for making sure chores were getting done.

When did I become responsible for the household chores? The house belongs to both of us - both our names are on the deed and the mortgage - so why doesn't it seem we are equally vested in it's upkeep?

"Seem" is the operative word, I suppose, because it all depends on perspective. If we start talking about paying for a new roof, maintaining the cars, or mowing the lawn you can bet Hubby feels he's the one shouldering all the responsibility.

Back in the day when we lived in an apartment and there wasn't much in the way of outdoor chores, I asked my husband how it came to be that I was responsible for the domestic upkeep. We both worked full time. Shouldn't he share in the housecleaning?

He argued that he made more money than I did and therefore his time was more valuable than mine. (Oh, yes he did. Go figure that we're still married.) The point is that he gladly contributed to the housecleaning by paying to hire someone else to do it.

I felt it was wrong for him to buy his way out of what should be his duty to contribute. But I cashed the check anyway. And, why not? He could afford it and was willing to pay for it. Still, I wasn't sure if I had won or lost that argument.

We still follow traditional roles for the most part although he spends more time in the kitchen than he used to and I'll take out the garbage. We still pay to have the house cleaned, and now the lawn mowed. The argument that our time is valuable still applies. But it's more about sanity, enjoying life, and enjoying each other.

And making things work.