Friday, April 30, 2010

Eureka!

Right now, I'm wrapping up the official end of my Tax Season.  "April 15th was two weeks ago," I hear you say for I have bionic ears that not only hear within the audible regions of netherland, but can also hear what you're thinking.

It's true, April 15th was two weeks ago.  Fifteen days, to be precise.  But lucky for me, the Tax Season doesn't wrap-itself up-and-out-of-my-life until April 30th.  Today is April 30th and I plan to dance a jig, or at least I plan to dance a make-believe jig that I made up. 

I might even yell "Eureka!"

This Tax Season was particularly taxing.  Before last Sunday, I had all of one (1) day off.  My one (1) day off was the day before Easter.  Note that my day off didn't include Easter.  But, realistically, I'm a mom and moms don't get days off, so realistically, it didn't really matter if I got a day off, realistically.  Before you start to feel bad for me (for making others feel pity for me is this blog's sole purpose) note that my work days are not full days.  Each of my work days, other than my one (1) day off, included at least 1.5 hours of work.  I believe the average was 30 hours a week. 

Now.  Thirty hours isn't bad.  Plenty of people work more than 30 hours a week.  Most people at least pretend to work 40 hours a week.  Heck, plenty of people work 60 hours a week.  Back in my day, I worked 60 hours a week -- and that was real work because it was before the internet and let's just face it -- looking busy before the internet was waaaay hard.  Just kidding.  We had the internet.

Please remember that I'm a mom.  As is mentioned above, and as I insist on reminding any and everyone around, being a mom is a full-time job.  With no days off.   I'm a slacker mom, however, so my full-time mom job is not as full-time as other full-time mom jobs.

Where the hell am I going with this?  I seriously cannot remember.  Oh yeah!  Sunday.  And Eureka!  On Sunday of last week, I got my second (2nd) day off.  A whole second (2nd) day off!  And as if having a full day off from work wasn't enough, it was also Steak Conference.  (Steak Conference is where several LDS wards get together and eat Steak.)  We rarely do Steak Conference.  Mostly it's because Megan is a vegetarian and in honor of our beloved Megan, we refrain from Steak Conference.

No Work + No Church = All Day of Play!

But what do we do? 

I'll tell you what we did!  We got in the car (actually the truck) with a map of Utah, and ended up in Eureka!  Did you know that Eureka is not where Eureka vacuums are made?  I can be so gullible.  But here are some facts about Eureka: There are 19 states in the U. S. of A. with a city named Eureka.  Utah's Eureka was a town founded by a gold and silver mining boom -- hence the exclamatory reference in its namesake.  Them miners rolled into town, struck gold and hollered "Eureka!"  Either that or it was the end of the Tax Season, so they danced a make-believe jig and yelled "Eureka!"  Which is precisely what I done.


Before the miners came to town, it was called Ruby Hollow. 

We found a few "do not enter" mining properties outside of town, but it appears as if not much happens downtown.  The only working industries are the liquor store and the fire department/paramedics.  (Perhaps there's a lot of drinkin' and fire startrin'!)  The 2000 census counted its residents at 766.

Here's the photo montage:

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Annotating Yahoo

***Warning: This post contains photos of chicks in swim gear and underwears.  If you're sensitive to such things as hot chicks in swim gear and underwears, you might need to go elsewhere.

I get a catalog every month.  It's the Athleta catalog.  This catalog contains some of the finest of sportswoman fashions and I look forward to its reception. Each time I get the Athleta, I go through and circle the stuff I want.  After I have circled the stuff I want, I put the catalog in the recycle bin.  (We're garbage conscious folk, but obviously not conscious enough to get ourselves removed from the mailing list.) 

Sometimes I order an item or two, but that's a once-or-twice-a-year kind of event.  For some reason, the act of circling those wished-for items satiates the desire to order.  It's weird.  You should try it.  It's serendipitously satiating.

Anyway, Yahoo #2 wanted to help me circle this time.  I pointed to what I wanted and he did the circling.  It was a good time. 

First, we started with these legs.  I want these legs.  Sadly, they cannot be purchased for they are a combination of genes and work.  Spouse wants these legs too.

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Those are some hot legs.  Admit it...

Next it was some shorts.  In cocoa.

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Then a strappy wedge.  Black, size 7.

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Seamless green tank with squiggle styling.
Complete ensemble with matching squiggle shorts.

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Here's a pheasant feather fastigium, complete with chow chamber.  Chow chambers are essential for endurance exercise.  Also check out the back side of girl-with-legs (from above.)  Meow.

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After we were done circling, I attended to the task of dish washing, or some other life saving achievement, and left Yahoo #2 with the catalog.  When I returned, the child had finished annotating the catalog.  Here's what he came up with.

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This girl was lonely.  She needed some fish to run with.

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Evidently, he was rather fond of this one -- notice the heart.

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He liked this one too, but I'm not sure if it's the chick or the fact that she's surfing.

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One-armed-three-fingered something-or-other.

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That Yahoo is one very funny boy, yes?

-

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday Tune, vol 37 - April's Departed

Today's Tuesday Tunes feature April's Departed.  Enjoy.
(How's that for a clever intro? I was up all night stewing over it.)

Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye (shot by father)
She Sells Sanctuary - The Cult / RIP Nigel Preston (overdose)
Misty - Sarah Vaughan (lung cancer)
On The Road Again - Canned Heat / RIP Bob Hite (heart attack)
Something In The Way - Nirvana / RIP Kurt Cobain (suicide)
I Can't Remember - Alice In Chains / RIP Layne Staley (speedball overdose)
Hold On! I'm A Comin' - Sam & Dave / RIP Dave Prater (car accident)
Wabash Cannonball - Box Car Willie (leukemia)
Fire - The Pointer Sisters / RIP June Pointer (lung cancer)
We're A Happy Family - The Ramones / RIP Joey Ramone (cancer)
Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran (car accident)
Show and Tell - Al Wilson (kidney failure)
Looking For A Kiss - New York Dolls / RIP Johnny Thunders (methadone and alcohol)
The Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Picket (leukemia)
Rock Me - Muddy Waters (passed away while sleeping)


-

Monday, April 26, 2010

Race Face

This (down below) is my race face. This is the face I make when I race, hence the term "race face." It's lovely, ain't it?

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I'd also like to draw attention to the medal around my neck. That medal right there is a gold medal for first in Women 35-39. It isn't really a gold medal, but it might as well be.  So humor me. This medal, from the Hurricane Half Marathon, is the first of any placing of any kind since turning 35 (three freaking years ago!) That 35-39 age group is a tough one.

Also note that I was fourth overall. That ain't too bad either.

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This second photo is a photo of my women folk and our hardware. Lookee there. I'd also like you to meet "Tina." Tina is the babe in the green bandanna and matching skirt. That Tina is a fun one. Last year at this same Hurricane Half Marathon, we spent a great deal of time going back and forth. She'd pass me. And while passing me she'd motion for me to follow her. Then I'd do the same. We've been long distance friends since and have grown increasingly freaked out by how much we have in common.  Would you care for an example? We both take pictures of the odometers in our cars and we have the same shoes!  Oh and we were both born in June.  That helps.

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Don't those shoes look fast? They are! It's the Brooks Launch. Get yours today.

-

Friday, April 23, 2010

Muchness

Last night, Johnny Depp spoke to me.  Actually, he was the Mad Hatter speaking to Alice (in totally rad 3D), but I'm sure he was talking to me when he said: 

"You used to be much muchier before. You have lost your muchness."

It true.  I have lost my muchness. I must figure out how to get back my muchness. 

To start, I plan to:

"Believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast."


-

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rabid Cooking: The Hot Dog Man

Today marks my first post in a series of posts titled Rabid Cooking. These posts are not Cooking With Rabid, they are Rabid Cooking. The two are very different. The proof is in the semantics. Rabid Cooking is Cooking with the adverb Rabid. Rabid means "irrationally extreme in opinion or practice," therefore Rabid Cooking will consist of extreme recipes in opinion or practice.

First on our list of Rabid Cookering, is the Hot Dog Man. When the Sister and I were little, we'd spend weekends and whatnot with our Daddy. We'd ice skate and ski, fly kites, build forts, hike, run rivers, watch sports and chase birds. It was great fun. For a while, our Mom went vegetarian on us. We didn't have much meat at home. In addition to all of that weekend warrioring, The Dad would lure us over with bits of meat. Lots of it. After a while, weekends with Daddy became synonymous with meat.


One of My Dad's signature meat recipes was The Hot Dog Man.


Step 1: With paring knife, add slits to hot dog like so:

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Step 2: Microwave hot dog for 30-40 seconds. 
Hot dog man should show four distinct limbs:

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Step 3: Add ketchup eyes and mustard buttons:

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Step 4: Feed to young 
(or old, no age restrictions on this here recipe):

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-

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bidtits

How about some bidtits today?  (Not to be confused with bigtits, it's more like tidbits but funnier.  And more meaningful.)

- Most important, on this list of bidtits, is the fact that as of today, I have finally completed my agreement to fill out the Winder's Adoption Reference letter.  She sent me this letter thingee a while back with words of, "Don't worry about hurrying.  It'll take us three months to get everything finished."  Now.  If by chance you want me to do something for you, do not tell me I have three months to do it.  I will take all three of those months.  It's not that I'm a procrastinator, it's just that within the confines of my tiny little brain, three months never corresponds to "urgent."

- Speaking of The Winder, can ya'll help me find her a baby?  Do any of you have a baby you don't want any more?  Or do you know of a anyone with child that would prefer she not raise it?  The Winder's lookin'.  She needed a child yesterday.  Again, in the confines of my tiny brain, yesterday corresponds to "urgent."  Therefore it is my hope and prayer that you see this baby-catching stuff as "urgent" too.

- Baby-catching.  That's prolly not a good thing to call it.  Remember the Child Catcher?  From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?  That guy still gives me the creeps.  Here he is...

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-  The Winder doesn't resemble the Child Catcher.  At all.  Except when she laughs.  Sometimes she cackles like him. Here's the Winder and Delmar on their wedding day -- just to prove that they aren't as scary as the Child Catcher.

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- Okay, that wasn't really their wedding day.  It was Halloween.  But here she is back in her baton twirling "day."  She's the one with the yellow spikes.

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- Today was walk-a-thon day.  Remember when the walk-a-thon was all about the March of Dimes?  And you actually walked for hours?  Now they only walk for one hour.  In the singular.  So lame.  Irregardless, I presented my person to help facilitate the ritual of children walking in a big oval for one hour.  I like to attend events that involve the feet traipsing about an oval.  Skates are fun to watch race around an oval too.  Here's Yahoo #1 after finishing:

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- Incidentally, they decided not to have kindergarten do the walk-a-thon on the same day as the rest of the school.  I have no idea why.  All I know is they sent a note home, informing us slacker parents that the Kindergarten walk-a-thon would take place at 9:30.  This slacker parent showed up only to be told that the note was sent home in error.  So Yahoo #2 gets to do the walk-a-thon later.  He was seriously bummed.  Even wore his Batman t-shirt.

- Get a load of this kid.  I laughed so hard every time he/she came around.  There's nothing funnier than a second grader in a Reagan Bush '84 t-shirt.

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- When I dropped Spouse off for surgery last week, they informed us that he needed an XXL t-shirt to wear over his slung (with a sling) arm.  Here's what I came up with.  Note that it is not a great idea to send me for stuff when you, yourself, are out of commission.  

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Notice fancy ice machine hose and remote with DVR.  
He got a "Goonies Never Say Die" in XXL too.


- Spouse has 10:00pm chats with India.  Yes, all 1.2 billion of India.  Here's what he looks like:

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- We're in the process of purchasing computers.  Computers in the plural.  And you know what I've decided?  Apple could rule the world if only they'd charge less.  I mean, here we are looking for two machines.  And the cost of two PCs of equal-ish hardware equals one Mac.  I know what all you Mac-o-files are saying out there.  You're saying there's no comparison.  You're saying it's worth the extra cash.  However, aside from the mePhone and a few mePods, I've never owned a Mac.  This means that knowingly, I do not not what I'm missing.  If I do purchase a Mac, I have no doubt that it will change my universe.  But it also means that it's another damn thing I cannot live without.  And that current list of things I cannot do without is a large one.

- I have a race this weekend.  It's another 1/2 marathon that will allow me a guaranteed ticket into the St. George.  I love the St. George.  So much so, do I love this St. George, that saying "I heart the St. George" will not cut it.  I must spell out that "love" word in it's entirety.  I have two more St. Georges to finish before I'm in the 10-year club.  Being in the 10-year club is a big deal because you get a guaranteed ticket into the race without doing the Runner's Series fiasco each year.

- I haven't decided if I'm going to taper for this race.  I'm feeling healthy now.  Might be a good weekend to "lay it all on the line" so to speak.  We'll see...

- It's April 21st and I'm still pretty busy.  What's up with that?  Tax season ends on April 15, right?  When will it end?  The boss phoned today.  He asked if I wanted to get started on the new landing pages for next year.  Holy crap I nearly fell off my chair.  Can't I have a week off?  Then he hit me up for 401k and other profit sharing retirement jazz that's only offered with 1000 hours a year.  It appears as though I might need to lobby fiercely to keep my way-part-time status.

- Oh and speaking of lobbies -- specifically, the lobbies of restaurants.  Remember that little tangent about the Utah Valley Magazine?  Well, wouldn't you know, the "owner and editor" of said magazine read my little post and became "frightened."  She offered to take me to lunch so as I could talk about ideas for the magazine.  Or something like that.  I'm half tempted.  She prolly just wants to size me up, you know, to make sure that I'm really just a geek in a basement.  I've read her super-bio, which includes some super-accolades, so I'll say right now... babe, you're better than me.  However, part of me wants to show her in person that the mag's demographic doesn't include a 30-something, cynically-sarcastic geek in a basement (my super-accolade.)  Bottom line:  I rarely do lunch.  I don't have time to "do lunch."  If I make time to "do lunch" it will be for people I know and love and trust.


-

Monday, April 19, 2010

This Is Not Your Momma's...

In this adult life of mine, I find that past reflections often collide with technological advances. These are the times where I say stuff like, "Remember when we didn't have a dishwasher?" or "Remember our first microwave?" or "Remember the Commodore PET?" I still remember my very first e-mail message. In vivid technicolor. 'Cept it was on a monochrome monitor, so technically it was more vivid Black and Amber and less technicolor.

I swore I wouldn't be one of those "in my day" kind of people. Yet here I am. Being one of those "in my day" kind of people.

The last week has presented all sorts of technological shazams. Shazams that made me stop and think, "This is so cutting edge! So new and fancy! This is not your Momma's... insert whatever it is that was not your Momma's."

Thought I'd document.


This is Not Your Momma's... 3D Movie
On Saturday, the Yahoos and I saw our first 3D movie of the technology age. My last 3D movie was at a drive-in with those blue and red cardboard cut-out glasses. I don't remember anything 3D about it, except perhaps the fact that the screen was way over there and the sound was relayed from Mars.

But on Saturday, we saw How To Train Your Dragon in 3D. It was a moving experience. So moving was this experience, that I don't want to see a regular movie -- a movie not in 3D. It was spectacular! Cute show too. On more than one occasion, I recall wishing these new-fangled 3D flicks were around in my rowdier days. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know-what-I-mean?) And get this, they plan to release a new Tron. In 3-frickin-D!!! That'll be a nerdgasm fer sure.

Are you laughing in my general direction because I had yet to see a movie in 3D? We don't go to movies much. In fact, the only times we go to movies are when Spouse has surgery or the weather is such that spending time in-of-doors is better than spending time out-of-doors. Saturday was a beautiful day... a day for spending time out-of-doors, which means... you guessed it... Spouse had surgery. Which bring us to our next Not Your Momma's... discovery.


This is Not Your Momma's... Shoulder Surgery

Spouse has been experiencing a fair amount of shoulder pain for about a year. A few months ago, Spouse went to the Shoulder Surgeon for an MRI which revealed a rather large bone spur. The Doc recommended physical therapy and some sort of injection to help with the pain. Ultimately, however, the Doc recommended a removal of the bone spur and a scope to check out the shoulder's innards. After a few months of physical therapy and cortisone, Spouse figured it was time.

On Wednesday, April the 14th, I dropped Spouse off for Surgery and ran home to take care of Angry Tax Preparers. It was a lovely day. A day so lovely, that my burlesque sense of humor was left for dead and buried. I did not laugh that day. In fact, I did not laugh until Sunday evening.

When I returned to the hospital, the Doc marched out with some photos and announced, "We found some surprises." Turns out Spouse had a substantial tear in a ligament.

Now here's the technological This is not your Momma's... part: The Doc repaired the tear, injected Spouse's own blood platelets to speed healing, and installed a pain pump. Spouse ended up with four tiny incisions and technicolor photos of his inner shoulder. This surgery was a relative piece of cake. In your Momma's day, they would have sliced the shoulder open from stem to stern, peeled the skin back and gone to work with a rusty ice pick. Now they use fancy robot tools that do all the work while the Doc says, "abra cadabra!"

As if that wasn't enough, the Doc's PA made a house call on Saturday to look at his wound and remove the pain pump. Can you imagine that?! A real live medical house call! It felt like we were on Little House On The Prairie.

Recovery's been a breeze. I think. (Maybe Spouse would care to elaborate.) And speaking of recovery, Ice speeds recovery. This brings us to our next Not Your Momma's... discovery.


This Is Not Your Momma's... Ice Pack
The hospital sent Spouse home with an icing machine. And not just any icing machine, it's a Polar Care Kodiak. This Polar Care Kodiak is a bucket of ice and water that pumps ice and water through a pad thing. They taped the pad to his shoulder, and while he wore the pad for three straight days, it kept the wounds on ice.

Being as I tend to ice anything that produces discomfort -- including the Yahoos when mouthing off -- I wanted to get me one of those Polar Care Kodiaks. I even went as far as figuring how many dollars one would require. After hours of research, I found that one Polar Care Kodiak would run me around $151. Not bad, huh?

Imagine, if you will, the amount of surprise and Disneyland-esque wonderment when the PA announced, "That ice thing is yours to keep."

"Really!?" I said. "Serious?" It felt like I had won my very own academy award. Forget the fact that Spouse had earned the thing with his very own pain and tears, it was mine! To compare 'n contrast, let's parallel your Momma's method of icing to this new-fangled Polar Care Kodiak.

Your Momma's:

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Polar Care Kodiak:

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See? No comparison! This is not your Momma's Ice Pack.


This is Not Your Momma's... Feminine Hygiene Ad
This last Not Your Momma's... discovery has nothing to do with the others. On Sunday, I found myself watching the "O" channel. "O" as in "Oxygen. " You know that network for ninnies... er, I mean, Women. I watched a whole love story called The Lake House and it was brilliantly entertaining and cozy. I don't recall making fun of it once (mostly because it included the nerdgasm-inducing topic of time travel.)

There was one commercial, however, that had me in stitches. I watched it three times. Which I shouldn't have done, 'cause now I gotta explain what a period is to the Yahoos.

Anyway. Enjoy.

This is not your Momma's... Feminine Hygiene Commercial.
(Couldn't bring myself to call it a tampon commercial. Just couldn't!)





This is Not Your Momma's... Boston Marathon

I know I said the previous discovery was the last Not Your Momma's... discovery, but here's another one, just in! Today housed the 114th Boston Marathon. Young-punk, 21-year-old Robert Cheruiyot smashed the course record with a 2:05:52. Additionally, Ryan Hall ran the fastest Boston of any American in history, with a 2:08:41.

Interestingly enough, your Momma's Boston Marathon and it's corresponding course record of 2:07:14, was also run by 4-time Boston Marathon champ Robert Cheruiyot. But not the same Robert Cheruiyot mentioned above. The new record is a different Robert Cheruiyot.

Huh!? What are the odds of Your Momma's and Not Your Momma's Boston Marathon records having the same name?! I'd say slim to none.

-

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eyjafjallajökull Volcano

The Hen posted a link to some pretty great photos of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. How on earth do you pronounce Eyjafjallajökull? It's fun to type, however. These photos are beyond awesome and I want the whole world to see them.

Do you want to see them? And be part of my whole world? Click here.


-

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday Tune vol 36 - Muse

Today's Tuesday Tunes are the set list from the Muse show that transpired in West Valley City, Utah on April 5, 2010.  Today's Tuesday Tunes are also a tune or two or four from Xanadu.

As someone who has been through the trenches of that fabulous E Center (in West Valley City, Utah), can I give you some unsolicited advice?  If, by chance, you have the pleasure and/or opportunity to attend an event at this E Center, DO NOT take the 215 to get there.  Take I-15 to 45th or 33rd South and head West.

Being as we were not well versed in the parking and traffic situation of this E Center, we chose the 215.  It took us an hour to get from the off-ramp of 215 to the parking lot--a total distance of half a mile.  And poor Spouse.  He had to endure a complete hour of yours truly singing along to Xanadu.  Thanks to the mePhone, I googled up some lyrics and sang along.  Badly.  Loudly.  And obnoxiously.

Here's what I sang to my beloved:
Xanadu
Suddenly
Magic
Suspended in Time
(All from Olivia Newton John)

Then Do You Wanna Be Happy All The Rest of Your Life - Jimmy Soul.

Here's the Muse Set List:
Uprising
Resistance
New Born
Micro Cuts
Map Of The Problematique
Supermassive Black Hole
Hysteria
Nishe
United States of Eurasia
Take A Bow
Feeling good
Undisclosed Desires
Starlight
Unnatural Selection
Time Is Running Out
Plug In Baby

Encore:
Exogenesis: Symphony Part 1 (Overture)
Stockholm Syndrome
Knights Of Cydonia

All right folks, this is the last post you'll see for a while.  Maybe a week, maybe less, maybe more.  Who knows.  I'm up to my eyeballs in real life and cannot attend to my fairy-tale blog-life. 

Until then, may The Force be with you.

-

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gulliver's Travels


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Gulliver's Travels
by Jonathan Swift

See this book?  I totally gave up on this book.  I gave it 100 pages.  And on the 100th page, I said to myself, "Self?  This book is boring.  This book makes fun of 18th century English politics.  You know nothing of 18th century English politics.  It's time to put it away.  'Sides, since you started reading this book, some three weeks ago, you've been using too many commas.  That, and, your sentences, they run on and on, like four marathons, on a cool brisk Saturday, in the spring time, after a rain storm, and the flowers have bloomed."
 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tax Return Soup

Today is the Sunday before April 15th.

The Sunday before April 15 is a well-known day of mad-scrambling among self-preparing tax-returners.  It's a busy day if you're in the business.  If you're not in the business, well, then you can just smile with relief.  And if you're married to someone who is in the business, like Megan H, I'm sorry for your loss.  I'm also real sorry for the crabbiness you get to live with.  For example, just before crashing last night, I mumbled to Spouse, "Sorry I was so bitchy today."  He'll prolly get the same apology tonight.  But maybe not.  We'll see.  So far the day is going well.  I might even say that I'm enjoying myself.

On the Sunday before April 15, I usually block out the whole day and dedicate it to working.  I take a break here 'n there for an undefined few moments, but then I go right back. Right now, I'm taking one of those breaks.  I've taken a break to write something.  But what do I decide to do?  Write about work.

That doesn't sound much like a break, does it?  Nope.  Today is different, however.  Today is different because I like my job.  Being as most of my employment editorials turn into B&M sessions, I figured it was time to say something nice.


As an aside, have you noticed the fun and whatnot that B&M represents?  There's Bitch and Moan (as referenced above), Bill Murray, Bowel Movement, Butt Munch, Big Mouth, Baby Mama, Black Male, Bayerische Motoren, etc.  B&M has so many possibilities.


As an aside to the previous aside, I started reading this blog called Watching The World Wake Up.  It's a blog mostly about nature and science and cycling.  But this Watcher guy has this clever method of funneling facts and schlepping stories.  He'll write up some stuff, go on a tangent, then go on a nested tangent.  It's quite entertaining.   Especially for people like me who get more joy out of life's tangents, or asides, than life's meaty matters.

Preparing a tax return is similar to eating a bowl of soup.  When eating soup, you spoon up a bite and taste.  Often times you'll think, "That was good.  Good enough, I suppose.  But I wonder what's in it...  I sure hope there isn't any goat in there.  I don't like goat."  Not knowing the contents of that spoon-full of soup, the partaker of the soup still swallows. 

For most people, the tax return is the same.  They prepare that return the best that they know how, but have no idea what is in it.  The self-prepared tax-preparer will think, "That seems right.  Right enough, I suppose.  But I wonder what's in it... I sure hope I'm not paying more than I should.  I hope I'm doing something I'll get in trouble for.  And I sure hope there's no audit in there.  I don't like audits."  Not knowing the contents of that prepared tax return, the preparer still sends it.

When it comes to the tax return, there are five important elements (actually, there's more than five elements.  I'm choosing to elaborate on a simple (yeah, right) concept of the tax return that has five elements.)  These elements are: additions, adjustments, exemptions, deductions, and credits.

At first glance, additions, adjustments, exemptions, deductions and credits all seem similar.  But as you look at them closer, they are very different.  Additions, adjustments, exemptions, deductions and credits are the potatoes in your soup.  At first glance all the potatoes in your soup seem similar.  But as you look closer, you notice they are different.  You have russet, white, round red, new and fingerling. 

So when you're eating that soup, how do you tell the difference between all of the potatoes species in your soup?  It's simple.  You must have a basic understanding of potatoes; their color, consistency and taste.  The same goes for additions, adjustments, exemptions, deductions and credits.  You must have a basic understanding of additions, adjustments, exemptions, deductions and credits.

There's a problem, however, with getting this basic understanding of additions, adjustments, exemptions, deductions and credits.  It's not as simple as googling "types of potatoes" and "additions, adjustments, exemptions, deductions and credits."  (You could try that now -- you know, to compare 'n contrast the difference between googling "types of potatoes" and "additions, adjustments, exemptions, deductions and credits.")

The point of this exercise is not to entangle tax matters with soup ingredient metaphors.  The point of this exercise is to display the blatant and unecessary complexity that lies within the U.S. tax code.  I will do this by trying to simplify, to the best of my ability, the definitions assigned to additions, adjustments, exemptions, deductions and credits.

(I say "the best of my ability," because simplifying this stuff is part of my job description.  I spend a fair amount of time trying to explain the difference between additions, adjustments, exemptions, deductions and credits to Great Granny Fillmore who can't afford an accountant.  Although it might sound easy to you, it ain't.  It just ain't.)

First, we must define Taxable Income.  Your Taxable Income is the amount of your earned income in which you must pay tax. Your Taxable Income can be increased or decreased by additions, adjustments, exemptions, deductions and credits.

Next we'll move on to additions.  An addition can be defined (simply) as income.  Wages, alimony received, retirement income, investment gains, social security benefits, business earnings and unemployment are all considered additions.

Adjustments are subtractions from your income.  Specifically, they are subtractions that result in your Adjusted Gross Income or AGI.  Your Adjusted Gross Income is important because many tax credits and deductions for both your federal and state returns are determined by the amount of your Adjusted Gross Income.  Examples of adjustments include Health Savings Accounts, educator expenses, 1/2 of your self-employment tax, Traditional IRA contributions, student loan interest, and deductions for college tuition and fees (not to be confused with the credits available for college tuition and fees.)

Exemptions are subtractions to your income that are based on the number of humans you have on your return.  Each human in your return gets an exemption.  If you are single, you get one exemption.  If you are married, there are two humans in your return, therefore you get two exemptions.  If you are married with two kids, you get four exemptions.  If you are married with two kids, and claim Uncle Fester, then you get five exemptions.

Now, here's the complicated part.  To calculate your total exemption amount, multiply the number of humans in your return by $3650 (that is, if your AGI, not income, is less than 125,100.  If your AGI is above 125,100 then this part gets even more complicated.) So, in the above scenario with Uncle Fester, the total exemption is 18,250. 

(Exemptions apply only to humans.  Not your dog or your cat or your horse or your fancy bicycle.  Veterinary expenses and chain lube are not deductible either.  That right there was a tangent by the way.)


And now we move on to Deductions.  There are two types of Deductions: The Standard Deduction and Itemized Deductions.

First we'll start with the Standard Deduction.  Each tax return is guaranteed a Standard Deduction.  The amount of the deduction is based on your filing status.  The Married Joint filing status provides the highest Standard Deduction.  Married filing Separate and Single provide the least (usually, this is the tax return you know, there are no black 'n whites.)  The other filing statuses, Widow(er), and Head of Household all range in between.

Your Standard Deduction, however, can be increased if you are blind, over 65, or if you pay real estate taxes.  And, just for 2009, if you paid sales tax on a new (not used) vehicle (with a motor, not that fancy bicycle), you can add that to your Standard Deduction.  (But that was way confusing, because adding something to your Standard ultimately subtracts.  'Nother tangent!)

Itemized Deductions are various deductions that can be used instead of the Standard Deduction.  Most tax preparation software is designed to take the higher of the two.  Meaning, you enter all of your deductions that qualify as Itemized.  If the stuff you entered as Itemized is greater than the Standard, the Itemized is used.  If your Standard is greater than the Itemized you entered, then the Standard is used.

Itemized Deductions are filed on a form called Schedule A.  Itemized Deductions include stuff like Medical expenses, state and local taxes paid or sales taxes, property taxes, mortgage interest, charity contributions and job expenses.  All those things mentioned have their own nested rules within their own nested rules.  Just so you know.

Additions, adjustments, exemptions, and deductions all form your taxable income.  Once all of that stuff is entered and figured, you now have your taxable income.  Based on that taxable income, your tax bill for the year is figured.  Note that the amount of money you have withheld from your paychecks is not your tax bill for the year.  Your tax due for the year is reported on line 46 of your federal 1040 form.

Are you still with me?  You should get an award.  In fact, I've got two ski passes to a ski resort located in the Wasatch range o' Utah.  Leave a comment if you want 'em.  If more than one of you make it this far, and leave a comment, I'll raffle 'em off.  Or something. 

Once the tax bill for the year is figured, you can now apply credits to your tax bill.  Credits are subtracted directly from your tax bill.  Generally speaking, a credit gives you more bang for the buck than any of the other aforementioned items (exemptions, deductions, adjustments).  Examples of credits include child care, child tax, education, first time home buyer, earned income, and many more.

When it comes to credits, there are two types:  Non-Refundable and Refundable.   Non-Refundable credits are credits that can only be used equal to or less than the amount of tax you owe for the year.  For example, if you owe $1200 in tax for the year, the most you can take in non-refundable credits is $1200.  Examples include the child tax, child care, education, retirement savings contribution, and foreign tax paid.

Refundable credits can be taken regardless of how much tax you owe for the year.  Refundable credits are considered a payment.  If you have a tax bill of $1200 for the year, you can take all of the refundable credits you qualify for, even if our combined credits are greater than $1200.  Examples include the tax you had withheld during the year, additional child tax, earned income and first time home buyer/repeat home buyer credits.

Now.  Does that seem overly complicated to you?  Hell yeah!  Note the addition of these complications are not partisan.  Both Republicans and Democrats, while serving in their perspective and dominating factions, added equal complication.

I want a flat tax.  Seriously.  Even though the added complexity of the tax code means job security for me, I'd go without a job to do so.

We're all making sacrifices....

Friday, April 09, 2010

Introductory Classical (with the Rabidrunner)

 I have this 21st century pen pal.  I call it 21st century because the penmanship is accomplishment mostly through e-mail.  There have been some cards here and there, but most of our correspondance is through e-mail.  Do you know about my pen pal?  It's Megan.  We write volumes to each other.  We write about frustrations and funnies, about anxieties and aspirations, and about disappointments and Derring-dos.

I think everyone should have a pen pal.  Even little Yahoo #1 has decided he wants one. (Yes, it's that exciting.)   Having Megan as a pen pal is joy, I tell you.  For Megan knows how to write.  Each thrown-together note that she sends is a literary masterpiece; complete with organization and swanky words.

The funny thing about Megan and I, however, is she's a night owl who stays up until 2:00ish on most nights.  Me?  Not a night owl in the slightest.  I'm a morning person and have always been.  I'm up around 4:45 on most days.  Normally, she sends her note in the early hours of the am.  So on the joyous occasions that I wake to an e-mail from my fine friend, it ensures the current day will be among the brightest of days.  Here's my response to one such early morning e-mail:
My alarm went off at approximately 4:49 this morning. Approximately, yes because there were some seconds there and I don't know how accurate the mePhone is in comparison to the atomic clock.  The clock and its seconds however, is not important.  What is important, is that I switched to my e-mail immediately and here's what I read:

"This is the longest email in the world.  It's a story of sorts." 
I jumped out of that bed all sorts of giddy.  Today would be wonderful for I have an e-mail story from the one, the only, the beloved, Megan. 

It was then and there that I decided that your e-mail deserved it's very own listening spot in my day from hell.  During the run, I made mental plans for the best time to do so.  I decided breakfast would be best.  I scrambled some eggs and slopped them among the three plates, threw some milk on the table then sent myself to seclusion so as to give your story my full attention.

It's true.  I get excited over the e-mails Megan sends.  But my excitement for Megan is not what this post is about.  I'll admit that my excitement for Megan is rather obnoxious.  Even her sister Rookie-Cookie asked why I don't just marry her.  I told her it was because she hasn't asked me yet.

Anyway, the point of this post is Classical music, not Megan.  But the point of this post was positioned by Megan.  A few e-mails ago, she asked for Classical music recommendations.  I responded with a whole bunch of questions to see which type of classical music she likes. She had also asked about U2 coming to town.  Here's my response:
You sent an e-mail about U2.  I think we'll pass on the U2.  I like U2, Spouse likes U2, we just aren't stadium people.  Snobbish, right?  Snobbish.  In regards to classical, I would suggest you begin with Handel's Water Music.  What type of classical do you like?  Do you like it dark and mysterious or light and cheery?  Most composers are one or the other.  They are rarely both.  Chopin is great if you like piano.  Corelli is great if you like baroque.  Mozart is always good.  There isn't anything Mozart that I don't like.  And Beethoven?  Beethoven is among my favorites. 
Perhaps I should start some classical music posts?  That would be fund.  Perhaps I could do period posts.  That show music periods and who resides in which and examples of each.  Now that sounds fund.
(Notice that I misspelled "fun" twice.  Twice! It's "fun" not "fund"!)

Classical music is defined by the time in which it was composed.  I hope that one day I'll be able to hear something and determine which century the music was composed, but I'm not there yet.  I figure that these here posts are a start to that.  I believe there is no better way to learn about something than to write about that something.  So here we go!

Classical Music is term used often to describe music that is of the non-popular.  By non-popular, I mean non-Britney Spears and non-Muse and non-Perry Como.  Classical music is composed for one instrument, several instruments and sometimes a voice or 80. Classical music must have "form:," such as concerto, sonata, opera, symphony, étude, suite, symphonic poem, or dance music.  And by dance music, I mean the waltz or tango.  Not that techno rave stuff. 

A concerto is a musical score that features a particular instrument.  An example of this can be found in: Mozart's Clarinet Concerto II: Adagio. 

A sonata is difficult to describe.  Generally, it's a piece of music that adheres to tonal principles and has many movements.  Which reminds me of joke.  What do you call a turd on a piano bench?  Beethoven's 2nd movement!  And speaking of Beethoven, his Tempest Sonata, Movement 3 illustrates one of the movements in a sonata.

An Opera is what my Sister sings.  Opera is a form where singers perform a dramatic type of play and sing all loud and colorful and stuff.  Here's a little Love Duet from Puccini's Madame Butterfly or the Habanera from Bizet's Carmen.  And speaking of opera, many moons ago, The Sister was singing some opera at the Spoletto Music Festival in South Carolina. I was able to go.  One of the operas she was performing (can't for the life of me remember the name) was seriously "R" rated.  It's one thing to see the humping in a movie, but seeing it live kinda freaked me out.  Especially with the parents sitting next me... 

A symphony is long, drawn-out complicated piece of music for lots of instrustments.  How's that for simplification?  Gustav Mahler's Symphony #1 and Handel's Water Music and Rossini's William Tell Overature are examples of symphonies. 

An étude is a musical composition that features a particular instrument. Études are generally difficult and are crafted so as the musician can develop a particular skill.  Examples include Chopin's Revolutionary Etude Op 10 and 12 or Heiter Villa-Lobos' études for guitar. 

Suites are musical pieces meant to accompany other acts like opera or ballet.  Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite is an example.  Here's the Russian Trepek.

For the symphonic poem, I'm just going to quote wiki. "A symphonic poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section (a movement) in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another (non-musical) source is illustrated or evoked."  Did you get that?  Me neither.  But here are some examples:  Franz Liszt - Les Preludes and Felix Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream. 

Dance music is strictly that: Music you can dance to.  Gabriel Fauré's Sicilienne Op78 is my favorite tango and Brahms's Waltz in A Flat Major is among those most popoular of waltzes.

Traditionally, classical music was inspired and commissioned for religious purposes and can be broken down into eight basic periods:
  • Medieval  500 - 1400
  • Renaissance 1400 - 1600
  • Baroque  1600 - 1760
  • Classical 1730 - 1820 
  • Romantic 1815 - 1910
  • 20th Century 1900 - 2000 
  • Contemporary 1975 - Present
  • 21st Century 2000 - Present 
Stay tuned for a complete break-it-down of each period with examples.  I cannot wait!  Now if only we can get April 15th over with...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

12 Step Program For Ugly Feet

I have ugly feet.  I admit it.  When I enter another house, a house with nice carpet, a house with one of those Kindly Remove Your Shoes signs, the owner of said house always points to me and says, "You.  You with the atrocious feet.  You keep your shoes on.  Thaaaanks.  That'd be greeeaaaattt."

I don't often partake in a pedicure either.  It's embarrassing.  I take off the shoes and the girl (or dude) always looks at the poor pickled pigs with hesitation.  As in, "Do I gotta really?"  Or, "Why did I agree to this?"  Or, "I should have been an OB GYN.  Certainly the stuff I'd see there would pale in comparison."

The reason I have ugly feet is the running.  Run, run, run.  The prettiness of the feet can only take so much.  I could stop running... you know... to save the feet.  But the running thing is an addiction and I can not, will not, refuse to, stop.  For this reason, I have created a:

12 Step Program For Ugly Feet

1.We admit we were powerless over our ugly feet - that our feet have become unmanageable.

2.We believe that a Power greater than ourselves created our feet and can restore them as to help others remain sane when seeing them.

3.We made a decision when we started to run that we must turn our feet over to miles and miles of pavement pounding.

4.We have made a searching and fearless moral inventory of shoes.

5.We have admitted to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our ugly feet.

6.We are entirely ready to have all ugly foot abnormalities removed surgically by a trained professional (not the dude down the street that owns the running shoe store).

7.We have humbly asked others to remove their shoes so as to show we’re not the only ones with ugly feet.

8.We have made a list of all persons we had caused to vomit, and we are willing to make amends to them all.

9.We have made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would cause them to vomit again.

10.We have continued to take personal inventory of our shoes and when we break into Vera’s house to borrow her shoes, we make sure we tell her after you have put them back and oh make sure there’s some powder in there.

11.We have sought through meditation to massage our feet daily.

12.Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other people with ugly feet, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Tangent In Two Acts: Act Two, Super Mom

Act Two, Super Mom
I've groan to detest the term "Super Mom."
(Did you catch the purposeful misspelling of "grown," by the way?  Just checkin.')

First off (because Act One had a first off, I presume Act Two should be styled the same), what's wrong with adding "Super" to the word "Mom?"  Well, nothing, really.  Super is a fantastic word.  Super is a super way to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary.  Like, "Hey, you're super!" Or, "That soup you made sure is super!"  So, naturally, when someone refers to a woman as a "Super Mom," they're trying to say that the referential mom is entitled to the adjective "super" because they have done, or are, something extraordinary.

Except, being a Super Mom  is no longer about being extraordinary.  It's about being other-worldly heroic and impossibly perfect.

Second off, how did the Super Mom become so disgustingly unobtainable?  I think it has everything to do with classic female one-uppery and the magazines and the churches.  All the woman magazines and all the churches and all the kings men 'n horses have featured a Super Mom here and there.  It usually goes something like this:
Shelly Doesalot lives in Manchester, Oregon with her husband Russel and their five beautiful children. Shelly, a top-secret research specialist, has a PhD in microbiology from Yale (I chose Yale because Spouse's papa has a PhD from Yale and well, that, right there, should make me a Super Mom, yes?)  While pregnant with her first child Rangoon, Shelly spent most of her time learning how to repair the vehicles at the local dump.  This led to an honorary PhD from Popular Mechanics and a moonlighting career with VW.  Shelly is a former Olympic swimmer who has swam (swum) the English Channel eight times.  She learned to swim at the local Y.M.C.A. and feels it necessary to pay her talents forward.  On weekends, she gets the local fraidy cats to go off of the high dive -- usually by just throwing them in!  Shelly is currently training for her third Ironman triathlon and hopes to compete at the grand national pooh-bah Ironman in Hawaii.
Shelly didn't always have it easy.  Not only was she born on the wrong side of the tracks, she was born on the tracks.  Her parents used the heat from the tracks to keep her warm.  Shelly's father was a drunk who couldn't keep a job, but her mother Gretta, a Super Mom herself, was a teacher.  Gretta helped Sheila see the value of discipline and education by insisting Sheila play the piano, ukulele, and accordion, and study eight hours a night since kindergarten. 

In her spare time, Shelly gardens her holy-organic acre, milks her own cows and raises her own eggs.  Shelly enjoys a clean and tidy house and believes organization is her strong point.  So dedicated to organization is she, that Shelly has the next three years' calendars tattooed to her belly.  If one of her five children has forgotten the time and place for the next soccer practice, why, they just lift up her shirt and find out for themselves!

Shelly is patient, loving and attentive.  She never loses her temper and is always up for a rousing game of Risk.  When asked how she does it, she replies with, "I fit it all in by sleeping three hours a night.  I'm on this new special diet. I juice three pounds of carrots and mix it with the pound of coffee I drink each day.  This allows me to get by on only three hours of sleep.  Don't be misled, I have hard days.  But I always just read some Tolstoy or Buddha then smile and everything is just all-right!"

Just once, I'd like to hear one of those Super Mom's say, "You know what?  I lose it.  I have to put myself in time-out before my very own blood boils me into a dragon.  And all that crap I do?  It's a farce.  We have a staff of 30."


Third off (because there's a first and second off, I'll use a third off, even though it doesn't flow or fit), most women I know (and myself) are always thinking, "More, more, more.  I need to be doing more!"  Most women I know would read the above overachieving narrative and think, "I've never swam (swum) the English Channel!  And I cannot even change the oil in my car, let alone fix all the cars in an entire dump!"

Truth is, that aside from a known hand-full of drug addicts, every last mom I know, even the mom or two I don't like, is doing their very best and their very most.   How can they possibly do more?  Why do they need to do or be more?

They don't!
 
The woman and the man differ when it comes to this super parenting stuff.  After finishing another one of those "Super Mom" articles in a magazine the other day (doing some research, you know), I turned to Spouse and said, "Why don't you ever see an article about Super Dads?"

You know what Spouse said? "It's 'cause we're all super."  

You know what I think ladies?  It's time we start thinking we're all super too!  So get out there, throw on a cape, and you be super!


P.S. I want a Super Mom cape for Mother's day.  That will go nicely with the PMS Avenger cape that the sister has promised...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010