Thursday, March 31, 2016


Shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, anxiety, and a sense of impending doom. . . . Could be Acute Stress Reaction.


Tax Season.

(What are the symptoms of A Cute Stress Reaction? A startled kitten video on Facebook?)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Three Weeks - ish

Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I'm still here. I've just got my head down. Working. (I know, I know. Don't do it!)

Three weeks to go, or thereabouts. Was feeling pretty good about everything yesterday. Was even allowed to go outside for a bit. But, overnight, I got eight more tax returns. It's a little bit like Christmas - only in reverse: Someone comes in the middle of the night and leaves something that no one wants.

This is the point in time when, every year, I wonder how we'll make it to the finish line. My only comfort is that I wonder the same thing every year and every year we make it. Don't know how it happens except there's a whole lot of coffee involved.

I'm wondering what it would cost to have a drip feed installed at my desk.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Just in case you were looking for an explanation

The Joint Committee on Taxation issued a summary of all tax legislation enacted in 2015, which details all legislative modifications and explains Congress's reasons for changes to most provisions. The "General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in 2015",commonly known as the "Blue Book," is available at .

It's only four hundred pages long and by clicking on the link it will be automatically downloaded to your computer. Considering the security of government computers, you might think twice about going there. Besides, it wasn't much of an explanation.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Senior Moment?

Do you ever go to your smartphone for a particular purpose - to check your weather app, say - and, on the way, forget why you went to your phone in the first place? It's like walking into a room to get your reading glasses only to forget why you walked into the room. You pause, look around, and wonder, "What the hell did I come in here for?" You look around and decide you have to leave the room in order to recall your steps and, therefore, hopefully, your thoughts. The motivation for walking into the room in the first place.

Oh, but I do that with my phone. I pick it up for a specific purpose and see notifications that clearly need attention: email, Facebook, past due reminders, Words With Friends. I feel compelled to clear them all and when I do, I can't remember what I picked up the phone up for in the first place.

It certainly wasn't to make a phone call.

Coffee Order

I offered to buy coffee for the office tomorrow. Here's the order:

S1: Tall flat white (What is that, btw, a paint color?)
S2: Grande mocha latte with soy
R: Grande carmel macchato
K: Ditto ("It's Friday. Why not have more sugar?")
P: Potato chips

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Beware the C Dot Curse

You've heard of the Madden curse:  "Conjecture involving video game series Madden NFL, stating that the season a player appears on the cover, that player will be cursed with either an injury or poor performance."

The C Dot Curse: When I buy a Seahawks jersey, that player leaves Seattle. 

My first jersey was for Kicker Josh Brown. He left for the Rams in 2008. It wasn't until 2015 that I purchased my second jersey for Long Snapper Clint Gresham. He had just signed a three-year deal so I felt it was a good investment. We even became friends on Twitter.

He got canned yesterday.

According to the Seattle Times
" The 29-year-old Gresham had signed a three-year deal worth $2.7 million on March, 20, 2015 as an unrestricted free agent. His contract called for an $860,000 salary cap hit in 2016 and $1 million in 2017, with dead cap numbers of $200,000 and $100,000 (meaning, the Seahawks are saving $660,000 and $900,000 against the cap). 
" Seattle recently signed free agent long snapper Andrew East to a one-year deal worth $450,000, so the Seahawks can save a bit of money with the release of Gresham. "
Since the Seahawks is saving all this money, I expect the them to buy me a new jersey. Watch out, Jon Ryan!

Of course, I could get a Steven Hauschka jersey but he already has a backup gig as a belt model so. . . .

But, wait! It may too early to run out and get an Andrew East jersey. From NBC Sports:
" Seattle signed snapper Andrew East to a futures contract in January. East spent the 2015 offseason with the Kansas City Chiefs but was released at the end of training camp. He could be the first option in line to replace Gresham this season. "
The option deal was signed in January. Yet, Wikipedia already defines Mr. East as a long snapper for Seattle. We don't have a long snapper. We have an option! (Are there optional jerseys?)

I guess this means Clint can come to the next Cornhole 4 Cash Tournament at Blechschmidt Meadowlands.

Thank you to my nephew, Riley, who brought this to my attention last night before I had to read it in the papers. I've had time to digest it all, but will have to take the day off work because I'm so distraught. Friday, I will wear Clint's jersey for the last time out of respect for the 96 straight games he snapped for Seattle.

(Oh, snap.)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Night Sky

An Excellent Way to Celebrate Pi Day

Contestant #37
In conjunction with their Math Moves! exhibit, the Pacific Science Center in Seattle hosted a KenKen tournament last Saturday, March 12th. Normally held in New York, annually in December, the contest was held on the west coast for the first time ever. I was there not only as your faithful correspondent but as contestant #37.

There was a total 51 contestants plus a small group of spectators. I was the only one there representing the media, the event having escaped the attention of KOMO News located directly across the street.

KenKen is a puzzle invented in 2004 by math teacher Tetsuya Miyamoto and can be found in the puzzle section of most major newspapers. You can also play it online at or by downloading an app to your mobile device. The first U.S. KenKen tournament was held in March 2009 in Brooklyn, with Miyamoto in attendance.

The coveted prize
Math genius
The tournament consisted of three rounds of three puzzles each. Each round was twenty minutes long. 1,000 points were awarded for each correctly completed puzzle and additional points were awarded by how quickly all three puzzles were completed. At the end of three rounds, the top three scorers were invited to solve giant puzzles placed on easels so that all could watch their math genius.

I was roughly the 15th person to complete all three puzzles in the first round but only managed to complete two puzzles in the second round and only one in the third. I scored a total of 5,070 which means that one of the six puzzles I completed must have contained a mistake. 70 points were awarded for time. The top score was 10,110 - 6,000 for six correctly completed puzzles plus 4,110 points for time. I finished in 27th place.

It was math geek heaven. Not only did I get a free pencil out of the deal, I got to meet Bob Fuhrer who is the man responsible for bringing the game to the United States and figuring out how to make money from it. And even though it was a couple of days early, it was an excellent way to celebrate Pi Day.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Almost famous or lab rat?

I was recently contacted by Christopher Wienberg, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Southern California's Department of Computer Science, who is "researching the personal experiences people write on the web about their everyday lives" and Chocolate Chip Mint came to his attention. Not because he reads me, I'm sure, but because some software does.

According to his USC profile:
" My research focuses on how people present themselves on the web, and how machines can utilize the knowledge encoded in these presentations. In particular, I am investigating automatic methods for learning characteristics of bloggers who maintain a public journal of their personal lives. By leveraging the significant amount of text that these web authors provide about themselves, we plan to automatically extract information about them, including a demographic profile. In tandem with survey sample re-weighting techniques, we will investigate if a sample of web users can be used to characterize an offline population. "
His research is intriguing. Previous, related, research resulted in a documentary short - about 17 minutes - called "Friends You Haven't Met Yet" which can be viewed on YouTube. (Additional information from USC.)

I asked Mr. Wienberg, "Why me?" He responded:
" I work in the Narrative Group at USC, and we’re interested in storytelling and the knowledge contained in stories. Several years ago, we wrote software to automatically find personal, non-fiction stories written on weblogs. It makes errors from time to time (confuses fiction with non-fiction, for instance) but for the most part it’s pretty good. Our software picked up your blog as one that these sorts of stories are posted to fairly often. "
I find it interesting that Chocolate Chip Mint was selected as a test subject but I must apologize to Mr. Weinberg because I'm not much of a story teller. Frankly, I'm not very interesting at all. When someone I haven't seen in a while asks me, "So, what have you been up to?" I'm at a loss for words. "Same old, same old," is my usual reply. (Translation, btw, is "My mundane and prolifically repetitive routine, interspersed with vagabond rockstar weekends, is the same as it was last week.")

I did not inherit the storytelling gene. I inherited the organizing gene.

Nevertheless, Mr. Weinberg's computer, I hope you enjoy my blog.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I have no idea what Siri wants me to do with this but they're all past due. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

For Real

Taken from Google Earth but this is really what it looks like.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Which candidate is going to fix this problem?

" Many of the special personal identification numbers given out by the Internal Revenue Service to protect victims of identity theft may have been stolen, according to a security research site. " 
IRS Experienced Identity Theft of IP PINs - Accounting Today

Thursday, March 3, 2016

But, it is a word.


Let's say that you don't faint at the idea of doing a tax return. Yours, perhaps.

Maybe you could do more than one. A friend's.

You might even do them for an entire day. Say, eight to ten hours.

Or, you could do them for 100 days. In a row.

But, then you'd be crazy.

Because, who wouldn't want this?

And, what, pray tell, is the Unemployed Philosophers Guild? Find out here.

Black Rock, Part II

Stopped in on my way to work ... and they remembered my name.

Barista's name was Rachel.

I'll remember that, too.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

What's a Black Rock?

It's a coffee joint that just opened up across the street from 'bucks. They started in Oregon in 2008 and now have 15 locations there. They have six locations in Washington, and one in California. One of them is on my way to work.

Today, I decided to stop in and check it out. My regular drink - a tall, soy latte with two shots - cost a full dollar less than what I was paying across the street. And, they gave me a loyalty punch card. It was made out of paper and they punch holes in it every time you buy a cup of coffee. Can you imagine it? And, I only have to buy 10 to get a free cup of joe. I think I'm in love!

This morning's coffee tasted mighty fine.

('Bye 'bye 'bucks.)