Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Take the 7-day poop challenge!

I can't remember where I heard about this but I jotted it down in a notebook I carry for such things -  funny things I hear, see, or read about. The problem is that when I finally get around to reading my notes, I forgot where I heard or saw whatever I've listed or what my notes even mean.

One item, I set up as a reminder. Once a month, I would get a notification on my phone that read, "Stop doing that shit." I didn't know what my phone was trying to tell me or what shit it caught me doing so I would reset the reminder for a month later. Four weeks would pass and again I would be reminded to "stop doing that shit." I started getting paranoid.

Finally, I typed "stop doing that shit" into a search engine and discovered it was a title to a book: Stop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back. Apparently, someone recommended the title to me. All I typed into my phone was "stop doing that shit" and then forgot all about it. (It was a good book, by the way.)

Speaking of shit, I have no idea where the 7-day poop challenge came from but decided to type that into my search engine. 

Remind me to to stop doing that shit.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

May Fred be with you.

The Danish word for Peace is Fred. It's pronounced frell but as if you had a mouth full of mashed potatoes. 

I like Fred. (I also like mashed potatoes.) I think we could all do with a little more Fred. (Come to think of it, more mashed potatoes would be okay with me, too.) 

I hope you experience Fred in 2021. We invite Fred into our lives, our minds, and our hearts. And may there be Fred between you and I.

Doesn't that make you want to picture us holding hands with Fred? Let's celebrate Fred! Yay, Fred!

(Yay, mashed potatoes!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A common question: Who should get the COVID vaccine first?

Of course that's already been decided but among those considered for first in line was Santa.

An early prediction on NPR's "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" was offered by Adam Burke:

"I really hope it's going to be Santa Claus. Given the way he shoves himself down our chimneys, drinks from our milk glasses and ho-ho-hos all over our living rooms, he's superspreading more than just joy if we're not careful."

Valid and more than a little troubling. An invitation, if nothing else, for us to rethink the whole Christmas package distribution and reward scheme.

But before you sanitize the hearth, erect plastic shields around your Christmas tree, and don protective gear instead of festive pajamas consider this: At a press conference on Monday, the World Health Organization has confirmed that Santa, while quite old, is immune to the novel coronavirus according to NBC News. Additionally, world leaders around the world have lifted travel restrictions especially for him on Christmas Eve.

What scientists don't know, however, is whether Santa can transmit the disease. Therefore, the WHO also directed a warning for children:

"Physical distancing by Santa and of the children themselves must be strictly enforced, so it is really important that the children of the world still listen to their moms and dads and guardians and make sure they go to bed early on Christmas Eve," she said. 
Parents who remain awake amidst the paper and ribbon and the last of the 'nog can track Santa's progress around the globe here: North American Aerospace Defense Command Official Santa Tracker.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

My short stint as a mule

I discovered two things recently: First, that some Walgreens locations will dispose of your expired or unused prescription or over-the-counter medicines. Second, that I had a lot of unused or expired medicine.

While reorganizing our bathrooms and hall closets, I found all sorts of old cold medicines, pain killers and anti-inflammatories, and toxic opioids that had been prescribed after past surgeries. It was surprising, when amassed together, how much there was. 

Flushing these medicines down the toilet introduces them to our water supply. Similarly, throwing them in the trash not only adds drugs to our soil and water, they can be potentially dangerous to anyone who might otherwise get their hands on them. Nevertheless, the FDA informs that it is possible to flush or throw away unused drugs if a drug take back program is not available. Had I known this, I might not have sought out Walgreens. And, having found Walgreens, I might have paid a little more attention to the information on their website.

Somehow, I got it in my head that the disposal site was nothing more than a cardboard box with markings that identified its purpose. The many reasons that would be a ridiculous idea never occurred to me not the least of which being that anyone could have reached into a cardboard box and taken out a random handful of drugs. Instead, and rightfully so, the box was more like a mailbox with a one-way slot making it possible to deposit but not withdraw. 

Considering I was about to haul in a bag of drugs into a Walgreens - or anywhere else for that matter - I decided to put my thin plastic bag of goodies into a reusable grocery bag thinking that was far more discreet. Again, not considering the obvious reasons for not doing this, I was disappointed that the imagined open-top cardboard box was not prominently displayed by the front door like the RedBox machine. This was not a situation where I could just walk in with a bag of drugs, drop them, and then turn around and leave. No, I had to walk through the store to the back where the mailbox style receptacle was located, near the Pharmacy.

Of course, that makes perfect sense as does the fact that there's always two lines at the Pharmacy. One for ordering, one for pickup. There were only a half dozen people waiting as I made my way to the box. Addressing one gentleman, I stupidly asked if he was waiting. For what, I asked myself later, I don't know. The drug box? Nothing else he might have been waiting for made any difference to my purpose unless he was waiting for a woman with a bag of drugs to walk up looking to give them away as if it was Halloween. 

In any case, he wasn't waiting, so I proceeded with my deposit. One hand being occupied with holding the grocery bag that contained a second bag which contained the drugs, I could make my deposit only with the other hand. I reached for an orange bottle of pills and put it in the slot and heard it rattle to the bottom of an empty metal drum. I reached for the next item. And the next. And the next. (Expired NyQuil makes a particularly loud thump.) At one point a lone, unidentifiable capsule still in its impenetrable bubble wrap fell to the floor and I thought for a split second that I could just ignore it and leave it there but was sure at this point that I had the full attention of anyone who was waiting in line to pay money for some of the drugs I was throwing away while simultaneously wondering how it was a person could have that much to get rid of. 

Instead of pointing out the hypocrisy of my imagined accusers, I scooped up the lone pill and dropped it in the box. I turned to go and thought - perhaps for the first time - that I was damned glad I was wearing a mask.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Toilet paper: Art or political statement?

The bathroom is a place of social and environmental politics. A single company, owned by Koch Industries, controls 29% of the tissue paper market in North America. With the purchase of fluffy, plastic-wrapped, bleach-white rolls, many Americans are unwittingly aiding in the politically-conservative efforts of conglomerates like Koch Industries, which has funneled millions of dollars into voter suppression, the aiding and growth of the Prison Industrial Complex, and the reversal of common-sense environmental protections. "

Seems like a serious statement for an exhibit at the Marta gallery featuring over 50 toilet paper holders

Thursday, October 29, 2020

I'm just going to move on to 2021 and call it a year.

"2020 - completely worthless."

I bought three of these calendars. I kept one for myself and gave two away as Christmas presents last year. But then, we put our house on the market so mine went into a box and was never hung on the wall.

We bought a new home in a different state early in 2020 but before we could come home and collect our belongs (which we put in storage after our first home sold), COVID happened. Fortunately, the place we purchased was fully furnished so there wasn't much to retrieve other than clothes, some small kitchen appliances, and items of sentimental value.

It wasn't until September until we defied stay-at-home orders. We drove 1,100 miles, rented a small truck, and trekked back to our new home - a car plus the truck - through some of the worst wildfires the western United States has ever seen.

And, still, most of it remains in boxes. First, we wanted to get some work done around the house. We converted all of our lighting to LED and added ceiling fans and we had the interior completely repainted. Only now are we starting to unpack after living in the same clothes since February.

Hubby unpacked this calendar just last week. It hasn't been hung for nearly 10 months of 2020. Seeing as I can pre-order my 2021 calendar (which includes September-December of the previous year), I'm not sure there's any reason to even take this out of it's cellophane. 

Instead, I plan to donate it Goodwill and mark it: 

Unused Calendar 
Completely Worthless

Friday, October 2, 2020

I wished I lived in a place where the most serious problem is "What is bread?"


Irish High Court Rules Subway’s Sandwich Bread Is Not Legally Bread | Forbes

Justice O’Donnell, wrote, “This seems a very cumbersome and unnatural description of a hot meatball sandwich. Arguments like this induce some sympathy for the beleaguered draftspersons and for the tortured language to which they sometimes have to resort in order to carry into effect a reasonable statutory policy.” And with that, he dismissed the appeal.

Read all about it.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

What the heck is this?

In all my years, I had never know what this was. A strainer? A steamer? What's a steamer? Why does it have petals that open or close? Why are there folding legs?

I would see this thing in other kitchens and wonder what it could possibly be used for. In a pinch, I'm sure I've used it as a strainer but I couldn't fathom what one would steam in it and, more importantly, why. 

The answer, recently, came to me when I discovered that store which is another phenomenon I never understood. (It has been recently criticized as being racist in its branding, ergo "that store"). People who loved it, absolutely loved it. Yet when I went in, I didn't recognize any of its products. Where were all my favorites?

When the pandemic hit, lines would form outside their stores when one could easily enter any big brand store without fuss (other than a mask, hand sanitizer, wipes, distancing, etc.). So what was the big deal?

Until one day, I found myself in that store and I bought a bag of frozen potstickers which is nothing, in and of itself, but that's what brings these two discoveries together: on the directions for the potstickers. "Place frozen potstickers seam side up in a steamer basket over boiling water...." 

Eureka! Everything clicked into place and I had amazing potstickers as well as a use for the spaceship-looking object that lurked at the back of my kitchen cabinet. (It came with the place when I bought it as did a waffle iron which is a whole different delight.)

Here's the real Ah ha! moment: I learned I could steam eggs in it. Okay, why is that an Ah ha! moment? Because, the eggs turn out great and they're easy to peel. Boom! No expensive kitchen appliances needed! Just a little boiling water and this folding spaceship thing.

I imagine I could do other things besides potstickers and eggs but I'm pretty happy with the potstickers and eggs.

I guess I could steam vegetables in there but, then again, who would do that

Friday, July 24, 2020

Sign of the times in southern CA

Closed due to pandemic

Now open for take-out!

Now open for dine-in!

Sorry, closed

Open for business!

Wait, now we're closed again.

Schools will open!

Schools might open!

Schools will try to open August 17 but you don't have to come until later!

Schools will August 17 but you don't have to come until later!

Try to keep up.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Why it's important to have beer in your fridge


Ah, but it's more than that. A well stocked fridge is more energy efficient. Just think - the more beer you buy, the more you save! If the beer is cold when you buy it, so much the better.

Here's why: stuff in the fridge displaces the air that would otherwise be filling that space. The less air exchange each time you open the door, the easier it is for the refrigerator to maintain a constant temperature. During the hot summer months, it's even more critical to have beer in the fridge.

Tomorrow is Friday so today is a good day to stop by your local brewery to stock up. And, remember to get some more on Monday to keep your refrigerator working efficiently because the more you save, the more you beer you can buy. The more beer you buy, the more you save.

Doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

AI, emphasis on artificial ...

"Hey, Google. Set a timer for one hour," I overheard my husband commanding his phone.


"An hour."

Still, nothing.

"One hour," articulating as best he could.

"Set a timer for one hour," he reiterated, his voice rising.

"Say sixty minutes," I shouted from the next room.

"Set a timer for sixty minutes," he repeated.

"OK," she chirped, "I've set a timer for one hour."

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Game Day

Last day of this (extended) tax season. While many are working from home, I have been doing so for about five years so I have a certain amount of expertise in home office equipment. Here's my recommendation if you're looking to upgrade your home office

[See Marvin & Family comic for 7/14/20 or use above link.]

Monday, July 13, 2020

Sunday, July 12, 2020


Four days left but yesterday didn't count. Some tech issues gave me an unexpected day off. Whee! 

Saturday, July 11, 2020


The dreams have started. You might call them nightmares: dreaming about preparing tax returns. Night and day. Day and night. Tax return after tax return. An endless stream of numbers.

Only five days left.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

If you feel like the days are getting shorter, you're right.

Not only that, they won't be getting any longer. 

You probably didn't notice, but there was no leap second added at the end of June. I've just been informed, no such extra second will be added in December either. 2020 will end at the stroke of midnight on December 31st.

It's just as well. I think we've all had enough of 2020. 

Do you think if we could trade in all previous leap years and leap seconds, we could rewind enough to avoid 2020 altogether?


Nine more days in not only the longest tax season ever, but I would venture to say the strangest as well.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

You wanna bet?

We did a little furniture shopping last weekend and it was interesting to see how stores were handling the process of reopening and how many people were out shopping. In some places, it was very much like going to the grocery store. We had to wait outside until we were invited in because the store was limiting the number of people who could shop at any one time. Signs were posted saying that masks were required and assuring us that customer safety was paramount. Inside, people maintained social distancing for the most part but part of retail shopping necessitates touching things and there was no way to avoid that. In some stores, sanitizer dispensers were prevalent. Other stores seemed less organized, crowded, with long lines at the registers.

On our way home, we passed through the parking lot of an outlet mall just to get an idea of how many people were shopping for things like clothes. Here, it appeared that the retail sector was recovering with much enthusiasm. The parking lot, as well as several others we passed, was full. Small businesses may be suffering or out of business but big retailers didn't seem to skip a beat.

We then stopped at a nearby casino. The lot was about half full in the parking structure where we parked on the fourth floor. We took an elevator which was marked with signs advising only four passengers should enter at a time. Stickers in the corners marked where each should stand to maintain social distancing. Similarly, stickers on the floor indicated where people should wait for their turn. 

We had no trouble getting an elevator and rode alone to the casino floor. There, it was a little more chaotic as we tried to navigate the entrance. There were several security personnel trying to corral people through a chute of sorts, marked by temporary rope (crowd control) barriers. As we funneled through the chute, we were asked to lower our masks briefly so they could take our temperatures, they said, but no one approached us and there were no other instructions. Just a lot of people standing around. We continued walking into the casino wondering which of the security guys had failed to take our temperatures.

As it turns out, our temperatures were taken by a thermal scanner as we walked into the casino.

It reminded us the body scanner depicted in Total Recall. We just walked in as an employee in front of a computer screen reviewed our images. (What else could they see besides temperature?) Lowering our masks may have had more to do with the overhead security camera or to verify we were of a legal age to enter. I have no idea.

The casino was packed. Social distancing was out the window. Masks among the customers appeared optional although most were wearing them. There were Plexiglas barriers between some players but otherwise, there appeared to be little concern with regard to movement and separation of customers. 

We weren’t there to gamble. We just stopped in to see the place and to get a drink but the bar was so crowded that we never got served and the lines were long enough that we didn’t want to order ourselves. So, we left.

Leaving was more chaotic than when we arrived. People crowded around to get an elevator back to their cars. In our elevator, a fifth person, not wearing a mask, joined us. She had been on her phone while we were waiting for our elevator and she appeared distracted so Hubby let her know there were only four to a car. She said, “So? You’re wearing a mask. You’re fine,” and continued on with her phone conversation. She had a lot more to say after she got off the elevator on the third floor. She made it clear to anyone within earshot that there was some jackass on the elevator bitching about the rules.

In the comments following an article about the reopening of Las Vegas, there were other people bitching - either about following rules or not following rules. As far as I'm concerned, how much risk versus fear you want to live with is up to you but have some respect. We don’t have to agree but we should try to get along with one another. Maybe there should be a mask optional section and a mask only section in casinos or stores. I don’t know but, personally, I don't plan on going back to that casino anytime soon. It's too hard to get a drink.

Besides, it didn't look like they were hurting for my business. I think they'll do okay without me.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Go back to sleep, honey, it was just a bad dream.

No, honey, nobody's going to get eaten alive. The two little pigs move in with their sister who was the smart one, remember? And she takes care of them (but only until they can get themselves back on their own two feet ... or is four?). You are perfectly safe. Daddy and I have been very careful about protecting our house. You know that, right? Our investment decisions are well researched and very sound. Better than money in the bank (which isn't really saying much these days anymore, is it?). Nobody is coming after us. Not the big, bad wolf (and certainly not SEC regulators ... right, honey, you took care of that?). Okay? Not anyone.

You just get some sleep because you are going to grow up to be successful and smart ... well, you're already smart, aren't you ... just like the big sister piggie. And, no, you will not have hairs on your chin.

That's just in fairy tails.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Not So Cute Anymore

"Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin" is not so funny when you get older. First of all, there are hairs on my chinny chin chin. Second of all, I can't see them anymore. I can only feel them.

And "huff and puff"? That's what happens when we go up stairs.

Forget about blowing my house down, will you? My home represents a significant part of my nest egg. You'd be dooming me to living on the streets. Worse yet, living with my kids.

Then, there's sibling rivalry over who has the better house, who's smarter. Sure, my house may be made of sticks but I'm comfortable, thank you. Think you can't knock over that brick house? House of cards, is what that is. A wolf might not be able to blow it over but an upset in the securities market will collapse that house in a heartbeat. Think you're so smart.... Hmf.

And, really, let's talk about words: pigs, little, and wolf. Are we body shaming or stereotyping? Words have meaning. Let's not belittle and shame the victims of this tyrant and while we're at it, who is this tyrant? Something that can hurt us or something that we're afraid of because they look different from us? Have we really gotten to know this "wolf?" Have we tried to understand the wolf's point of view?

Pull the covers up tight and sleep well, little ones. The story doesn't end well for anyone: everybody gets eaten alive. Get over it. Life isn't fair. Soon, you'll have hairs on your chinny chin chin as well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Excessive Heat Warning


* WHAT...Dangerously hot conditions with hottest temperatures to
  around 110 expected.

* WHERE...San Diego County Deserts, Coachella Valley and San
  Gorgonio Pass Near Banning.

* WHEN...From noon today to 7 PM PDT Friday.


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Hell NO (or Yes, Hell)

We used to call them locusts but they're really cicadas. They gross me out. They're insects that lay eggs in the bark of twigs and branches. When they hatch, they burrow underground and don't emerge until they've matured seventeen years later. After that, they only live four to six weeks during which time they mate. And, terrorize little girls.

The first thing they do is climb a tree and shed their exoskeleton. Leaving a shell of their former selves behind, the males begin their mating song which can be quite loud because there can be, quite literally, millions of them.

After 17 Years of Quiet, an Army of Cicadas Are about to Emerge in Parts of The US | Science Alert

" Periodical cicadas are considered some of the loudest insects on Earth, and scientists say their alien-like wail can reach over 90 decibels, which is as loud as a lawnmower. "

They're not kidding about "an Army" either. In some parts of Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina they are expecting as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre.

I remember when they came to northern Illinois in 1973. I was ten. I was so grossed out, I didn't want to go outside. It was like a zombie apocalypse except it was a swarm of bugs. They aren't little either. They are 1-2 inches long, black with large eyes, and they fly. And, they're literally everywhere.

Cicadas in Illinois | University of Illinois Extension

" In 1990, there were reports from people in Chicago having to use snow shovels to clear their sidewalks of the dead cicadas. "


I vowed in 1973 that I would not be living in Illinois in 1990, seventeen years later, and I wasn't. By then I was in Seattle - about as far away as I could get - and I haven't seen a cicada since.

I hope I never do.

(My skin crawls just thinking about it.)

Just a heads up if you are living in northern Illinois. The cicadas will be back in 2024. Known as the Northern Illinois Brood, they have a reputation for the largest emergence of cicadas known anywhere.

I'll be somewhere else.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere (or Tick Tock Not Part Two)

My watch is still dead due to the lack of an available jeweler to replace its dead battery. But my phone works (yay!). The microwave tells me the time but the oven does not. It's in a different time zone no matter how often I try to re-set it. The thermostat tells time but will only follow three of the four instructions I've got programmed into it. It confuses 6 pm with 9 pm. Gremlins.

We also have a battery-powered clock on our living room wall. It is large and easy to read, visible from all parts of the main living space. It annoyingly calls out each and every second with loud ticks. Maybe not so much tocks. Just incessant tick tick ticks. It's incessant and loud. Want to watch TV? Better turn up the volume.
It's Five O'Clock right here!

Want to take a nap? Tick. Tick. Tick.

Trying to read? Tick, Tick, Tick.

Have a headache? TICK. TICK. TICK.

Just trying to freaking think? TICK! TICK! TICK!

It didn't even tell the correct time! The time had run out on my patience and I ripped its freaking guts out. Yards away, life saving batteries sit on my counter but this clock shall not be saved.

Yet, I've given it new life. A new purpose. I set the hands at twelve and five. Here, in Southern California, I like to call it Calipermication. You can just call it Five O'Clock.

And enjoy the blissful silence.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

A Whole Lot of Nothing Going On (or Tick Tock Not)

The battery in my watch died and no jewelers are open to replace it so I'm clueless as to what time it is. It's really not a bad way to go when you live in paradise and there's not much to do. What's the hurry anyway? Besides, it's probably five o'clock, right?

Actually, work keeps me in a routine. I know there are a lot of folks out there who don't have a job right now. I am very fortunate and very grateful to have one even if it means doing tax returns for months on end. This time of year, I'm usually just coming home from a post-tax-season trip to some beach but this year, the possibility exists that there will be no post-tax season.

On May 10, the CPA Practice Advisor reported the tax deadline could move from it's new date in July to September 15 or later. On the one hand, many clients are used to filing in the fall. These are the ones who routinely extend their returns six months from their usual due dates. But, they are not used to delaying paying their taxes. Usually, when you extend filing your tax return, any amounts due are payable on the original due date with any estimated tax payments due quarterly throughout the year.

Now, taxpayers who owe money could end up paying for all of 2019 and all of 2020 at the same time making for a whopping bill. Unless they plan for it, this could be quite a costly reality.

I, personally, hope the tax date gets moved. I postponed my post-tax-season retreat to July this year which is will become difficult if not impossible if I'm working 24/7 trying to meet the deadline. (I know, I know, I have all summer to get them done but we all know it won't work that way, don't we? Taxpayers who procrastinate filing their returns in the spring will be the same ones who will procrastinate in the summer.)

My current struggle (of the First World privileged sort) is that I killed my iPhone. I dropped it in March severely cracking the glass. I'd had it for three years so I figured I was due for a new phone anyway but all the stores were shuttered and the phone still worked so I figured I would just wait.

The longer I waited, the less important it seemed to have a new one. Sure, it was ugly and there were some other minor glitches surfacing in some of its features but it was good enough. Plus, new phones are expensive and almost always a pain in the rear to replace and set up.

Until, I dropped it again. This time, parts of the glass fell clean off and the top half of the touch screen no longer functioned. That meant I could take a call (swiping the bottom of the screen) but I couldn't shut off the phone (which requires swiping the top of the screen). It also meant I was locked out of my phone because the home button, while at the bottom, was also nonfunctional and part of my passcode uses the top part of the screen. Now, I had to suck it up and get a new phone.

Hassles involving the service provider were ultimately solved and a new phone was delivered within 24 hours of my order. The very first instruction for setting up the new phone was to power off the old phone but since I couldn't do that, all I could do was wait for the battery to die.

Did you know that if you can't use your phone it takes days for the battery to die? Days.

I wasn't willing to wait that long so I logged onto my account and wiped the old phone's memory. Same thing as turning off, I figured, except it's not, apparently. That did allow me to transfer all the data to the new phone but not the phone number itself. So here I wait. For the old phone die. And not able to make a call. From either device.

Tick tock goes the clock. Except mine. The battery died.

It's got to be five o'clock by now. Right?

Friday, May 8, 2020

Savings where you find them

With burger and fuel prices as they are, it was less expensive for us to drive across town and idle while waiting in a ridiculously long drive-thru line for a double-double cheeseburger and fries at In-N-Out Burger for $7.00 than it was for us to buy an all-the-way bacon cheeseburger plus fries at the much closer Five Guys for $17.00. In no way did I actually need to consume either of those and then wash it down with a giant chocolate chip cookie from Costco. Total calorie tally = about one million.

A whole can of SPAM (Classic) is 1,080 calories, if you're wondering. And, if you need any guidance on which flavor of SPAM to try, there's an excellent (if not amusing) review at Insider, here.

Lunch choices ranked by calorie count:
In-N-Out burger 1,040
Whole can of SPAM 1,080
Five Guys: 2,010

Now, I just want to shower and brush my teeth and pretend none of this really happened. Maybe after a really long hike. Or not.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

In Your Face

We have a neighbor who thinks this whole pandemic is one great conspiracy designed to get Trump out of office, following on the heels of the "fake impeachment." I know there are many people who feel this way but a conspiracy wherein countries all over the world  are willing to sacrifice their own citizens in large numbers to get the Great Orange One out of office seems grossly absurd.

Meanwhile, I'm adhering to sheltering in place and covering my face when I go out. Luckily, I don't have to go out much. Where I live, it's easy to go for a walk and not run into anybody so I don't see a lot of masks in the neighborhood. But when I leave the neighborhood, I wear a mask as do most of my neighbors.

I've seen some creativity when it comes to masks. Some people are having fun with it wearing colorful bandanas, some that look like skeletons, or the mouths of wild animals. I saw one on Facebook that had tiny penises on it provoking this response to the question, "Are those penises on your mask?": "If you can see those, you're standing within six feet. Now, back the eff up!"

If it wasn't so controversial, I would wear a niqab (as if penises on your face wouldn't be controversial). I mean, if we can all go to the grocery store looking like bank robbers, why not a niqab? We've spent so much time being afraid of them that this seems like the perfect time to wear one. The very same people who were afraid of them are now covering their own faces. Why not a niqab? It would cover my nose and mouth, and my hair which is perfect because it would cover up my gray roots. I would do it just for the irony.

I would do it just to piss off my neighbor.

Except I won't.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Does this sound familiar?

People gathered in homes to avoid plague, pestilence, and death. We might not eating lamb but there's been plenty of feasting on whatever we have. Surely, there is wine involved. Waiting for this to pass over, each of us vested with a certain amount of faith that if we stay where we are, we will be safe. Many are abstaining from work. Some have no choice about it while others mindfully avoid work by avocation.

Will this be over by Easter? Decidedly, no. Will this be over in a week? Heavenly, but unlikely. Still, this will pass and who knows what the world will look like when we emerge?

Certainly, the solution is bigger than ourselves but what we make of it is up to us.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

It's been a while since I've been out.

A woman stands in front of a house. She is wearing a full hazmat suit in white. There is a blue hose connecting an air supply to the back of her hood. She peers through her protective face shield at the empty street. There are no cars, no people. She glances back at the house before starting down the desolate road.

She walks for several blocks through a modest neighborhood where everything is still. Cars are in driveways or at the curb. Not all of the trash cans have been put away. Newspapers are piled up and yellowing in one yard. For a second, she thinks she detects motion behind a drawn curtain. She presses on.

She comes to a vacant parking lot where there is an occasional abandoned shopping cart. Gas pumps stand ready for no one. She walks past closed shops at merchandise and dreams of what it would be like to have the items on the other side of the plate glass windows. She wonders what it would be like to even desire such things.

Suddenly, pneumatic doors slide open before her. She steps through and stops. The store is well lit. There is soothing music playing throughout but it sounds artificial with no one to hear it. She advances slowly, looking for signs of life. The store appears well stocked, a cheerful oasis. There are bright colors where the produce is artfully arranged and neatly stacked. She picks up a cantaloupe and raises it to her face shield. She imagines she can smell it. She lets her hand drift over the avocados.

She glances down the aisle and ventures farther into the store. There is fresh meat in glass cases and fresh fish. She turns and passes aisle after aisle, seeing no one, until she comes to a refrigerated shelf stocked with cartons of eggs. She checks her surroundings before reaching for one. Tucked under her arm, she checks again to see if anyone is there. She steals away another carton and begins to move more quickly through the store.

She grabs a carton of milk and then begins to look earnestly for other supplies. She finds water but her hands are full. She kicks a case of water ahead of her on the floor to the end of the aisle. She leaves it to find paper supplies. She comes to an aisle with Kleenex. She sees paper napkins, then paper plates, and, finally, paper towels at the far end. There is a large vacant section in the middle of the shelf that stretches from one end of the aisle to the other.

She carefully puts her procured treasure on the floor and starts slowly down the aisle. She inspects the products that are still on the shelf. She looks at the brand names and the prices. Again, she checks to see if anyone is coming. She continues past the vacant shelves looking deep into their dark recesses until she makes it to the paper towels where she stops to consider her options.

Suddenly, her eyes grow large. She grabs at her face shield. In a panic, she reaches for the shelf and knocks over rolls of paper towels. She whirls around and sees the Kleenex at the other end but it's too late and she knows it. Instinctively, she wraps an arm over her face and sneezes - once, twice - splattering the inside of her shield. Momentarily stunned, she falls to her knees and begins clawing at her face. She coughs and seems to be gasping  for breath. Frantically, she tries to remove her hood but has trouble undoing the fasteners. She tears at it but makes no progress. At last, she is able to remove her gloves and rip her hood off. She lies on the floor, breathing hard. She is both relieved and afraid. She's vulnerable now.

She starts to get up and make her way back to her personal stash of food when she hears the squeaky wheel of a shopping cart. She freezes as a man briefly passes through the open space at the end of the aisle and disappears. How long had he been here? His cart was full. In the space of two seconds, she could see how full his hair was, how soft his shirt looked, and how well his jeans fit.

She shakes thoughts of desire from her head and starts to scramble in his direction, back to her unprotected items as quickly and as noiselessly as she can. She trips over fallen paper towel rolls, back past the empty shelves to the front of the store. She begins to pick up her items when she sees the man touching a screen with his bare hands and sliding items from his cart over a scanner, a chipper beep after each one passes.

He turns and sees her. He smiles. He is between her and the door but now starts towards her with an outstretched hand, naked and open. Moving fast now, she reaches her eggs. From her knees she begins throwing them at him. Her first misses but the second connects. He is stunned, the smile falters. He continues towards her and she takes aim, throwing eggs in rapid succession. He puts his arms up to protect himself then finally turns away. He pauses at his cart and considers what to do when she starts again with the second carton of eggs.

Finally, he flees with the doors sliding softly closed behind him. She pants and looks at her hands. They are obviously dirty and after a moment's hesitation she wipes them on the pants of her suit. She stands and once more checks to see if she is alone. The music continues but she hears no other sound. She comes out from the protection of the aisle and starts tentatively towards the door with whatever she can carry from her small pile until she gets to his cart still in the checkout line.

It's in there. She can sense it. She drops everything and digs into the cart pushing things aside, throwing some to the floor until she finds it - a four-pack roll of toilet paper. She grabs it and leaves everything behind. She runs to the door and halts. It slides open but she doesn't step through. The doors swoosh closed then open again. She stands, frozen. The doors close.

She takes a step and the doors open. She clutches the toilet paper to her chest and steps through. Then takes off running.

Friday, April 3, 2020

This virus is making me go gray. LIterally.

Simulation - do not try at home.
I'm not really blonde. If you didn't know that, you will soon.

For a few years, I've wondered when was the right time to go gray. Some of my friends already have. Some never dyed their hair in the first place.

I started dying my hair about 20 years ago. I was all pepper then, my natural color mostly faded at that point. I always thought of myself as having brown hair. Some of my older photos have embarrassingly shown up on Facebook with very dark hair. People who didn't know me then are shocked when they see them. (Frankly, so am I.)

When I was in high school, I thought it was a medium brown. It darkened in my 20s and then was pretty much devoid of color in my 30s.

It started as color with a few highlights. Over the years, the highlights took over and I became blonde. I remember the first time someone called me a blonde. I'm not blonde! I declared, shocked and slightly offended for reasons that were based in stereotypes. About that time, I shared a photo with my dad who also remarked Whoa! Who's the blonde? Was he kidding or did he truly not recognize me?

Due to the pandemic, many businesses are now closed including hair salons. It's been about five weeks since I last colored my hair which is now becoming obvious. Has sheltering in place provided the answer as to when I go gray?

I don't know if I'm ready, if I'm truly being honest. I only have one hat so something will have to give - either my hair or this pandemic.

Can't we all agree it would be better to do away with this pandemic?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

For All It's Worth

Remember when we were young and we would look at our bodies and marvel, "Look at this!" Maybe with some pride as when showing off new muscles. Maybe with horror as with a new zit.

Now, we look at our bodies and marvel, "What the hell is this?" Some spot, maybe a bump, definitely sagging. Hair appearing in new places and disappearing from others. Such was the case when I discovered my elbows were becoming dark. They looked as if they were bruised, a dark purple-ish color. Another sign of ageing or dreaded condition?

Naturally, I spoke to Google of my concern. Google provided this response: "Dark elbows occur when your elbows accumulate darker skin than the rest of your arm. . . ." Thanks for that, Healthline.

Among several suggestions such as applying yogurt and oatmeal to the elbows, Healthline recommended moisturizer and sunscreen. That seemed reasonable. The remedy worked.

However, it turns out my dark elbows were neither a dreaded skin condition, nor another sign of ageing. It was my desk chair.

I had recently ordered, and assembled at home, a new desk chair. It was put together within a relatively short period of time and without too much gnashing of teeth. There were no leftover parts after assembly signifying that I must have done it correctly. It was inexpensive, yet comfortable.

As it turns out, the surface of the plastic armrests were rubbing off and staining my elbows within only a few weeks of normal, daily use. I had noticed one of the arms was feeling sticky and it left a tar-like stain on a yellow sweatshirt. I took it for something I might have spilled although I couldn't imagine what that could be. I wiped the arm clean and noticed no further problems.

Soon, both elbows started to darken. Gradually, at first. Until one day, my elbows were smudged with the same tar-like stains as my shirt. The source was now obvious. Luckily, I still had the warranty information. Ready to seek remedy, I noticed the email address for customer service was hosted by Yahoo. This instilled no confidence as to what service they might offer.

I decided I would have more luck putting hand towels over the arms. I can't say it looks very professional but it's better than black elbows. It has the further advantage of making the chair look exactly what it is worth - about $45.

It also has the advantage that if I should ever spill something on my chair's armrests, it will be relatively easy to clean up.

Friday, March 27, 2020


Cactus Hugs | Coachella Valley coronavirus news and info | Thursday evening, 3/26 

Mexico has fewer than 500 confirmed COVID-19 cases, while the United States has over 80,000. Now, residents in Sonora, south of Arizona, have promised to block traffic into Mexico for a second day after closing a checkpoint for hours on Wednesday. They wore face masks and held signs telling Americans to “stay at home”

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Lawlessness Reigns

Can you imagine? Hoarding essentials, edging a neighbor out of the way to reach the last package of pasta on the shelf. Wanton beach revelers, ignoring the new norms of social distancing. Kids out of school, store closures; now, parks and golf course closures.

A closed golf course is an invitation for mischief - all that open space. . . . There has been casual walking about without aid of cart or burden of clubs, for example, even as people continue to golf, pilfering as it were, by not paying fees. Some of these ambulators walk the course in reverse order. Chaos!

These thieving golfers - without the rule of law, or in this case course marshals, wear jeans and are sometimes barefoot. How uncouth! I've even heard music broadcast from their bags of sticks. Some drink alcohol! A golfer with alcohol is like a ... well, like a golfer I suppose. Why, just yesterday, I saw several youths - a gang, perhaps! - dressed in black, with funny haircuts, swinging clubs, wildly, at golf balls. An unsightly, if not threatening, siege.

And dogs - on the course, enjoying endless, beautifully manicured green space - that very same scenery generally reserved for the few. The privileges of the paying public are being grossly undermined by such lawlessness.

There's been jaywalking on our vacant streets and golf cart drivers who don't signal turns. A slippery slope should this continue.

What is to become of us?

[EDITOR'S NOTE: We do not wish to minimize the very real and difficult struggles of many during these uncertain times. We offer our sympathy and support to those who are affected.]

Monday, March 23, 2020

Never fear! Budweiser is here!

New York Post | Anheuser-Busch, New York distilleries making hand sanitizer during coronavirus crisis
The company said it would be working with the Red Cross to determine where the hand sanitizer “will be needed most” — while stressing it was being made “in addition” to beer during the time of national crisis.

h/t Grump

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Taxes, Beer, and Cornhole

The date for filing individual federal income tax returns has moved from April 15 to July 15*, 2020, for tax year 2019. While that might suggest I have three more months to do the same amount of work, the reality is the clients' sense of urgency will also be delayed three months. It just postpones procrastination.

As a result, I had my first day off in several weeks which was wonderful. However, if I have to be under a stay-at-home order, I might as well work since I work from home. Theoretically, these emergencies measures won't last forever and by the time we can all go outside, I will be stuck inside doing some procrastinator's taxes. (Sound ungrateful much?)

You probably don't feel sorry for me.
But, when the going gets tough, the tough deliver beer. While local taprooms are shut down, breweries are staying open for growler fills and sale of packaged beer. Some are even offering delivery.

Yesterday, we took advantage and placed an order with La Quinta Brewing and they arrived just in time. I left a tip on the doorstep and backed away. They took the money, left the beer and wished us well. We are well stocked up on that provision, at least.

While we were waiting for our delivery, we found each other. Without work, without going places, we were forced to interact with each other. It's a skill we don't always pay attention to. It's like turning off the radio and paying attention to the road before us. 

Beer here. 
In our deserted community, we set up cornhole boards in the street. The boards are placed 27 feet apart which makes it the perfect game for social distancing. Then, while the pizza was in the oven and we were waiting for our beer, we played Farkel. It was like date-night-in. 

We live in a community that is mostly occupied by vacationers, either renting or visiting a second home. Typically the busy time of year, it's now mostly vacant. Canadians and other visitors have all gone home. There are a few left that are enjoying the relative solitude. One family, several houses down from us, includes three small boys who undoubtedly have no idea of what is going on (relative to coronavirus). Rather, they are enjoying unfettered freedom as they run with abandon over the now-closed golf course. Usually off limits, they can run for hundreds of yards within full sight of their parents. They're probably having the time of their lives.

I'm not having a hard time of it either. At least not yet. Food (and beer) are stocked. Plenty of coffee for the time being. I hope the hysteria wears off in a few weeks so we can re-stock as necessary but for now I can't complain. I'm safe and well.

I hope you are, too.

*In case you're wondering, you also have until July 15, 2020, to make your IRA contribution for 2019. April and June estimated tax payments for 2020, have been delayed until July 15th as well. (September and January deadlines currently remain in place.) I haven't seen any information regarding HSA contribution deadlines. State deadlines may differ. (Also, I am not a CPA and cannot give tax advice.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

We just don't know.

Our neighbors are roughly 80 years old, in my estimation. Really nice people who asked us over to their house for dinner last night - corned beef for St. Patrick's Day.

It would have been wonderful. They have been great neighbors and it would have been an opportunity to get to know them better. We didn't have any corned beef and Hubby would have loved a night off from cooking. (I have been under the weather for over a week and banned from meal preparation. Plus, it's tax season so I have little interest in cooking anyway.)

We declined the invitation. I haven't left the house since the 7th when Hubby and I took the grandkids out for dinner. With runny noses, they spent the night and went home the next day. I went out for pizza on the 6th and I went to the theater on the 5th where a man sitting two rows ahead of me coughed repeatedly. Somewhere in there, I picked up a bug of some kind.

Besides the fact that I am still showing symptoms of something (currently, I am a phlegm factory), Hubby is still going out into the wild on a daily basis - babysitting the grandkids who are out of school and stocking up on food and, now, cold and cough medicines. With regret, we explained that it seemed unwise to accept their kind invitation. Despite my symptoms and Hubby's forays, the likelihood that we are carriers of the coronavirus are probably low. Still, we don't know.

We just don't know.

What a strange time this is. Yet, octogenarians remind us that this is not the first time in this country that people have self-quarantined. Remember polio? Also, what about stock market crashes? Financial panic?

Knowing we've been there before doesn't make living with today's uncertainty any easier but at least we do know we'll get through it. Eventually.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Keeping Portland weird

Not so much weird but ingenious, a Portland (OR) distillery is making hand sanitizer from distillery waste and giving it away. Just keep in mind, you're not supposed to drink it so you might as well pick up some whiskey while you're there.

New York Post | Portland distillery is making free hand sanitizer for customers amid coronavirus shortage

The name of this place is called Shine Distillery & Grill.

Here's to ya. Shine on!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


I thought I'd unsubscribed to this but then I'd have missed this little gem:

Thursday, February 6, 2020


Do you know something I don't?

Sunset Magazine - Do You Know Where Your Bottled Water Comes From? Hint: Partially From Drought-Ridden California

" Many companies bottle California’s water, including Swiss company NestlĂ© and huge American brands like Aquafina (owned by PepsiCo) and Dasani (owned by Coca-Cola). The companies have been criticized for taking from the water supply at high environmental cost to drought-ridden California, while paying shockingly low rates for the water. Many of the brands are no better than what comes out of your sink . . . "

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Monday, January 13, 2020

No rush, exactly, but soon.

IRS to Open Tax Season Jan. 27, 2020 - CPA Practice Advisor
“The IRS encourages everyone to consider filing electronically and choosing direct deposit,” Rettig said. “It’s fast, accurate and the best way to get your refund as quickly as possible.”
I don't know about accurate. I filed my 2017 return electronically and the IRS still managed to screw it up. But take comfort:
“As we enter the filing season, taxpayers should know that the dedicated workforce of the IRS stands ready to help,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.