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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

If you want to sell me something, just listen to me

Ah yes. The role of the salesperson. Particularly in computer stores. One would think that if a customer was in essence telling you exactly what they needed, the salesperson would sell it to them. Seems to me to be easiest sale of the day. No work involved. In essence, I'm pretty lazy, so I'm all over the fact that there's no work involved.

As I blogged last time, I and some other gentlemen are involved in a venture to file the new tanning tax online. Accordingly, we needed a computer we could dedicate to transmitting these returns to the IRS -- talking to the IRS and to the customers all the time connected to the internet. We had some pretty specific requirements, one of which was that we would not be running a Windows operating system, so any machine used would be stripped of the existing hard drive and have two brand spanking new drives installed (running mirrored for backup) and using Ubuntu.

(For those of you whose eyes are now rolling back in your head, I promise that's as technical as I'm going to get. Come back toward the light...)

So one of my partners and I went to Micro Center. We got hold of a salesperson, George, who, bless his heart (and I mean that with all Southern inflection), didn't appear to be quite on the ball. We told him what we were doing with the computer. He had sort of the same glassy-eyed reaction I imagine many of you did at the paragraph above (keep in mind what this guy does for a living..). We made the mistake of saying the word "server" -- at which point, like some demented Looney Tunes cartoon, you could literally see his eyeballs replaced by dollar signs as he eagerly steered us to some of the most expensive boxes in the store.

Uh no. Listen to me, dude. I'm telling you exactly what we want.

Much to George's chagrin, we ended up purchasing a much lower end box -- and then he had to call in more help when we told him specifically, in excruciating detail, exactly which hard drives we needed. Down to the manufacturer. Evidently dear, befuddled George couldn't guide us to that bin on the hard drive aisle. We threw those, a monitor and a UPS in the cart and beat a hasty retreat to the cash registers -- but not before a manager blew past us in the hard drive aisle without even an "excuse me". Rude.

This was Thursday. On Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday, hubby did everything he could to get Ubuntu installed on this machine. Wouldn't run. He tried multiple versions. Wouldn't run. With each version he tried, the computer had difficulty talking to various parts of its innards.

On Sunday morning, frustration had taken over in a major way. I decided that desperate times called for desperate measures: time to buy a whole new box -- and not from George. After church we went to Office Depot, where I'd had luck buying machines before and which had a Lenovo machine that looked like it would fit the bill. Told 'em I'd take it.

There was a hold up. Turns out they had to verify the virus software.

Excuse me? I just told you I wasn't using that Windows hard drive. I'm taking it out of the machine. I don't care about virus software (and seriously - last time I bought a computer that had McAfee installed I had to remove it because it slowed down the system something fierce).

Oh no, their corporate office prohibited them from selling a computer on which they hadn't verified the virus software. So they finally bring me the computer. In an open box.

Now, I'm a little ticky about things like that. If I'm spending hundreds of dollars on electronics that are brand new, I want the box to be sealed. I want to make sure that I'm the first person playing with them. (I've checked around too. I'm not the only person who feels that way.)

Office Depot couldn't sell me a computer in a sealed box. Evidently it's against their corporate policy because they have to check it for my own good. Or it's against their religion. Either way, it wasn't working for me so I left.

Across the street to Best Buy, where I tell the guy that two people have already pissed me off, and I'd really prefer it if he weren't the third. Asked him if he could sell me an HP computer in a sealed box. He didn't have a problem. We took it home. Installed Ubuntu. Worked the first time.

...which left me with the box from Micro Center, which I put in the car and took back on Monday. The conversation with the customer service department began with "You might as well just get your manager now, because I'm not paying the 15% restocking fee..." - before I set into the litany of what had happened. Frankly, I think I scared the guy, but I got my money back.

So we now have a bright, shiny new HP computer with dual 500GB hard drives and a static IP address that will be conversing with the IRS on a regular basis. I'm hoping they'll be more reasonable with the computer than they are with most of our clients.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I've been reminded...

...by some friends of mine who dutifully check my blog for my musings that I've been entirely too quiet since the last Danica rant. Frankly, the heat down here has sapped my will to do just about anything. I know I've lived in Georgia all my life, but really. It's been a long time since it's been so nasty so early. And today I'm living the joy of getting a brand, spanking new central A/C unit installed upstairs. Woo. There goes a crapload of yarn money! Actually, we've been lucky to get 13 years out of the builder-grade unit that was up there, so we've been living on borrowed time.

It's been so hot here that we're driving Penny down to the pool in the subdivision for some interaction with people. Last time we did that, she got out of the car, ran to the grass to take care of some business, then trotted back over to the car as if to say "you've got to be kidding; it's stinkin' hot out here! I need to be back in air-conditioned comfort, thank you." We take her to Starbucks on Saturday mornings for meet & greets, and it's even getting too hot to sit outside there. Gak.

So what have I been up to?? Well, DF Judy came to visit, and I spent a lot of money. DF Teresa came to visit, and I spent a lot of money. You should be seeing a pattern right about now. :-) Actually, I had a blast with both of them, and their visits were far too short. Wish I could have gotten both of them here at the same time along with DF Ann... but maybe we'll work on that later in the year.

During Teresa's visit we hit the Vera Bradley store, because it was her birthday and you get spiffs for going there on your special day. As it happened, one of the designers of the bags was in the store, and asked for our opinions... if you know me and Teresa, you can picture what happened after that. Even add in Richard's two cents. :) (Seriously, if you don't want to know, don't ask.) We also went to a needlepoint store and Teresa bought a canvas, and as it happened a teacher was there who was teaching a class on designing your own stitches -- and lucky duck that Teresa is, the teacher helped her pull threads and did a stitch guide for her right there! We decided that we needed to try to take her class in September, so we got on the waiting list. We also decided if we can't get into the class, we'll go down there and press our sad panda faces up against the glass until they let us in...

Business is going well. As Richard says, I'm trying to make money off Snooki and The Situation by capitalizing on the tanning tax. :) Go to 720filer.com if you wonder what I'm talking about. :) Heck, if they're going to enact these stupid taxes I don't agree with, we may as well make a buck trying to help people comply with them, right? Actually, it's been a great experience working with some folks that I worked with many, many years ago and reconnecting. Never fails to amaze me how things go around and God brings people back into your life when they need to be there.

Stitching and knitting? Not much, actually. I seem to have the attention span of a flea with ADD. I am easily distracted by shiny things and screaming at the politicians on TV (maybe that's my new hobby...). I have some fantastic canvases that I haven't started (it's really hard to stitch with a puppy who loves to grab the thread), and knitting is also a challenge (see aforementioned puppy issues). Yeah, Penny is a year and 4 months old, but she's still in full-blown puppy mode. I'm trying to enjoy her while I can. There'll be plenty of time for stitching and knitting later.

I'm psyched because we've got reservations in Highlands in a couple of weeks. Haven't been in two years, because Oscar was too feeble his last year, and last summer Penny was just too young. This year I'm hoping to arrange a meeting with DF Mish from Ravelry! Woo! Hoping to blog again after the trip with pictures (to make this a tad more interesting...). :)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dear Danica...

... In regard to the Nationwide series race you ran on June 26, 2010:

Morgan Shepherd is not some old guy who is a backmarker in a lower series. He was winning Daytona 500s while you were still playing with your Barbie Dreamhouse.

In the eyes of this NASCAR fan, who has also been watching since you were still playing with your Barbie Dreamhouse, you made a rookie mistake and came down on Morgan while he was holding his line.

For you to come back and tap him like that, indicates you lack respect for the people who built the sport you’re trying to cash in on. Would you have done that to AJ Foyt? Mario Andretti? Bobby Rahal? Danny Sullivan? Juan Pablo? (I laugh when I think of you doing that to Juan Pablo, because your butt would be in the wall on the next lap so fast it would make your pretty little head spin. And he wouldn’t bother to make it look like an accident.)

Step 1: Learn the history of the sport and respect the men who made it. You owe Morgan an apology. And throw in a set of tires for his next race. You can afford it off of one race’s T-shirt sales, K?

Sincerely,
Doxietrek

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Beware the quiet

So... I was thinking... things were pretty quiet around here. Not a lot going on. Things are progressing with the business. All's quiet on the home front. FedEx hasn't ticked me off in at least a month. We're rolling along pretty well.

I should learn not to think.

First of all, we did have a relatively uneventful Memorial Day weekend. Had a bit of a "staycation" where Richard was determined that we have fun, dangitall, if it was the last thing we ever did. To that end, we went to see Iron Man 2 (I'm totally convinced Robert Downey Jr isn't acting) and went to the needlepoint store in Buckhead where, of course, I spent too much money. Found a couple of cute canvases and got the threads to match.

On Sunday we took Penny to the dog park that we discovered near our house. Rollicking good time, right? Uh, Penny didn't get the memo.
Maybe it was the fact that there were no other small dogs in that section of the dog park. Maybe it was foreshadowing of things to come. At any rate, the Pennster was Not. Happy. with the situation. For awhile she wouldn't even move. When we got her to take a few steps, she'd stop and stare at us until we finally relented and brought her home to her comfy sofa.

We spent the rest of the holiday watching a "Hoarders" marathon, cleaning house, and trying to convince ourselves that our house really wasn't that messy...

Oh yeah... the quiet part. On Tuesday night, Penny was unusually quiet while the ladies from stitch group invaded the house. Their presence, particularly in open-toed shoes and flip-flops, would usually mean an evening of "No, Penny. No Toes." and chasing her down to retrieve the shoes she'd filched from underneath the dining table. She made off with a flip-flop, but her heart wasn't in it; she spent most of the time in Richard's lap. After everyone left... we found out why as she started throwing up. The third time, when I saw traces of blood, it was off to the Emergency Vet.

Her Packed Cell Volume was high -- like HGE high -- so Penny ended up spending the night in the hospital getting fluids and medicines to quiet her tummy. As it turns out, we got her there just in time -- she threw up 4 more times with even more blood. No diarrhea as is often seen in HGE. We left the ER around 2 and I was back at 7:30 to get her and take her directly to our vet for more fluids and medicine. Dr. Weaver wasn't in (drat!!), but Dr. Nunn did a good job taking care of Penny and keeping me well informed as to what was going on. They took x-rays of her tummy as a precaution to make sure she hadn't chowed down on a foreign object (I didn't think so, but I was willing to go along with it to rule things out). She got to come home late that afternoon, and DF Andy was gracious enough to come puppy sit for us last night so we could go to handbell and choir practice. (We have a music program at church on Sunday, and it was essential that we be at rehearsal.)

This is Penny's second round of HGE. They don't know for sure what causes it. Dachshunds seem prone to it, and Oscar had it several times during his lifetime. It's fatal if untreated, and catching it early is best. I know the receptionist at the Emergency Vet thought I was nuts for bringing my dog in for throwing up three times, but I'm familiar with the symptoms and I knew she needed treatment pronto. The vet there was very nice; turns out she grew up with a wirehaired dachshund and currently does German Shorthaired Pointer rescue.

So, Penny's now resting at home on a diet of roasted chicken. Tough life.

During all this event with Penny, my friends on Ravelry, Facebook and Twitter were a lifeline. My friend Jen posted updates to Ravelry after I'd tweeted, and so many people tweeted their encouragement and prayers. I hadn't realized how much I'd come to depend on my extended cyber family for support during trying times. I know some folks don't "get" Twitter... but it's times when you're really looking for some comfort and support that you can throw something out there and get immediate response and can see that you've got folks who have your back. :)

Today my friend and client Vicki Tag came over to bring some paperwork for the business, and she brought her little girl, Melia, with her. Penny recovered from death's door to have a vigorous play date with Melia! There was much stealing of flip-flops... much gentle nibbling of toes... and much squealing and puppy kisses all around.

Sometimes a visit from a little girl is the best medicine of all. :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Catching Up

Well, we've had a little time to recover from the trip to Pigeon Forge. Penny has sufficiently recovered enough take over again. We didn't think she'd want to go anywhere for awhile, but last Saturday she was stir crazy enough to want an outing, so we did the usual morning trip to Starbucks followed by errands. She made friends with a Papillon named Shiloh -- Richard and I decided it was a tossup as to who had the cushier life, Penny or the Papillon -- and she rode somewhat peacefully in her car seat while we drove her around. We were pretty happy about that, because that's exactly what we want her to get used to doing.

I'm pleased to say that I have now survived my first colonoscopy. I knew it was important to have it done, because I'm at a slightly higher risk for colon cancer since I had an uncle die from it and since my father had a few issues... but to be honest, I put it off as long as I could. I'm here to tell you that the procedure itself is a piece of cake. You're taking a nice, enforced nap (using Propofol in non Michael Jackson-esque quantities), and I figure as long as nothing ends up on You Tube, I'm good. My only problem was with the prep. If you have no clue what's involved, I'll let you google it. I knew it was going to be unpleasant, but I had no clue I was going to be one of the small percentage of people who had a really bad reaction to it. I'm such a speshul snowflake. :) I got a clean bill of health tho, and they gave me an invitation to come back for another one in 5 years. I said we'd chat. Upon further review, I figure I've got no worries because the government healthcare probably won't pay for it at that point anyway...

The new business is going well. You'd think things would settle down after tax season, but now we're in what I like to call the "flurry of letters" season. My current favorite is the Georgia Department of Revenue, which apparently delights in wasting taxpayer time and money demanding payment of taxes that have already been paid. Topping that is the NC Department of Revenue which seizes bank accounts of unsuspecting taxpayers after sending notices to incorrect addresses, after they've been properly notified of the correct address. And some people think we only really work 4 months a year... :)

In the middle of all this, I have actually had an opportunity to (gasp!) knit and even crochet a little:
Crochet dishcloths, pattern is Tulip Stitch Dishcloth, yarn is I Love This Cotton by Hobby Lobby. You can get two cloths out of one skein. :)
Ladder Stitch Crocheted Dishcloth, again in I Love This Cotton by Hobby Lobby. It took only part of a skein, so I'm doing another Tulip Stitch cloth out of the rest.Lacy Mock Cable socks. Yarn is an Ella Rae fingering/lace weight yarn that's doing well for socks. :)

Hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend! Take time during your fun to remember why the holiday is there, and if you see a soldier, say thank you. :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Marathon Shopping

...and we're home from our annual marathon shopping trip to Pigeon Forge. Mom likes to go up there about once a year to check out the outlet fare. There's a Kasper outlet there and she generally has pretty good luck finding something (altho it's pretty difficult to find clothes when a size 2 is too large... yeah, she needs to eat more). It was a quick Friday-Sunday trip... but more importantly, it was Penny's first big trip away from home and staying in a hotel. We were anxious to see how she'd do.

Friday morning we headed to Rome to Mom's house to get the van and head up to the mountains. We had decided to try to get Penny to ride in the puppy car seat; Oscar would never ride in it, preferring instead to "drive" draped across the lap of whoever happened to occupy the drivers' seat (generally me). Needless to say, this is not the most safe way for anybody to travel. Fortunately, Penny took to it like the proverbial duck to water...She'd look out the window, curl up and have a nap... she didn't even fuss when we stopped for fast food and deigned to eat a bite still parked in the car seat. Didn't whine or bark (except when we drove through a storm and it thundered, but that's another matter). We were very pleased.

On the way up, we try to always stop at the Mayfield Dairy in Athens, TN for some ice cream. All of us found it very tasty!We stayed in the Hampton Inn in Pigeon Forge. This particular hotel is located very close to the main outlets and is very comfortable and very pet friendly. We always stayed there when Oscar was with us, and their hospitality hasn't changed. Penny did exceptionally well in the hotel and only barked a few times when there were some unexpected loud noises.

Mom bought a stroller for Oscar to use when shopping (DF Jill referred to it as his "Royal Carriage"), and Penny has inherited it. After some initial complaining, she settled right down in it and consented to be driven around. Sure beats walking, especially when your legs are so short!

We shopped Friday afternoon, and all day Saturday. Did some damage, but not as much as on other trips. Mom did find some suits, which was the main purpose of going.

As Richard said on Facebook, "We shopped till she dropped."
On Sunday before we left town, we headed for the huge Flea Market that's just off the interstate. That's when Penny's patience ran out. She was tired of being in the stroller and nothing would do but that she be carried around. She decided to bark at people. She was In A Mood -- I dunno, maybe it was the Fleas. At any rate, we piled back in the van and headed south.

So, it was a successful trip with the hound. It appears we have another little traveler, so we're anxious to return to Highlands. We haven't been there for two years. Hoping for a trip this summer!

Friday, April 30, 2010

3g Day

I've been waiting, not so patiently, since March 12, for delivery of my 3g iPad.

I dutifully saved my Christmas and birthday money, and figured that along with some money I'd make off tax season I'd have enough to afford the Cadillac 64 GB 3g model. (Color me naive about what tax season brought...) So the first day I could, I ordered it, along with a case and a power adapter.

Apple taunted me. They released the wifi version. They shipped the case to me. They shipped the power adapter. They billed my card for the Apple Care.

I started haunting the message boards on apple.com to figure out when it would be shipped. Consensus was that the prize would be in my hands on April 30, and indeed, I got email from Apple saying it had been shipped, and I'd have to be home to sign for it. (Lest you think I'm really nuts, rest assured I was one of many people anxiously awaiting the release. I didn't comment on the boards. Some of the people on there were thisclose to storming Apple headquarters with torches and pitchforks when they thought their shipment might be delayed till May 1.)

I planned the day. Up shortly after 7; showered and ready before 7:30, just in case it came early. And I waited... and waited... and waited. Email said it should be at my house before 3. I tracked it on FedEx.com and discovered it was on a truck headed toward me.

Around 2:30, I started getting nervous about the whole thing, especially given that my friend Cliff had taken delivery of his a couple of hours before. At 3:00, I checked the FedEx site again, to discover the dreaded "Delivery Exception" next to the tracking number.

The explanation was "Customer not home."

What?????

Oh hell no.

I fear at that point, I sort of lost my temper. "Sort of" defined like the volcano in Iceland "sort of" spewed ash that stopped air traffic for awhile. I dialed up FedEx and had a chat with the person who answered to explain that I took offense at such a bald-faced lie being used as an excuse for the delivery person not doing his job. You see, this was the second FedEx package within 3 days that hadn't reached my home on time.

They had rescheduled delivery for Monday. This was unacceptable in ways you can only begin to imagine. They said they wouldn't make the delivery guy come back since it wasn't medical equipment. So I'd have to go to their hub.

After another tirade on me getting out in Friday afternoon Atlanta traffic, the person gave me the address. I asked for the phone number for the hub, and the rep said they didn't have one. "Bull" was my response. Every place has a phone number; they just didn't want me to have it. So they patched me through to the hub so they could give me directions.

I asked when I could expect the driver to be back there... the person said "Oh, that's Mark... he should be here about 5:30" -- yeah, like he was supposed to be at my house about 3. I was in mid tirade again about their poor service when the doorbell rang.

It was Mark. With my iPad.

I can only guess that someone from FedEx called him and told him there was one po'ed little woman there and he best get over there with my package.

His explanation was that there were multiple streets in my neighborhood with similar names. Ya think? And that FedEx was supposed to get them GPS units but hadn't. Dude, have ya heard of a map? Why not call me if you couldn't find the house -- you had my phone number? Would have been better than lying about it.

I'm still appalled at the lack of customer service. Needless to say I won't be shipping FedEx anytime soon.

But at least I have my toy.It's soooooo kewl.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stitches South, 2010

My name is Jean, and I have a problem.

Oh heck no I don't! I freakin' enjoy myself!! And I had a particularly wonderful time this past weekend at Stitches South. Although I will admit that I didn't think the haul was nearly as big as it turned out to be. Reminded me of the time we were all at Spirit of Cross Stitch, and we asked our DF Cathy what she'd bought, and she replied "Not much" and then proceeded to dump this huge haul onto the bed for us to see. We laughed ourselves silly over the astonished look on her face when she realized exactly how much she'd spent....

DFs Teresa and Jackie came to spend the weekend at my house. This was the first time I'd met Jackie in real life, and she is so delightful! We decided that in oh so many ways we were actually the same person (although she's a bit taller). Along with DFs Heather and Jill, we took a class on Thursday: "Fiendishly Difficult Stitches". Class was ok. I just took it because that's what everyone else was taking, and to be honest, I wasn't paying much attention. I was distracted by the yarn fumes coming from the marketplace that opened right after class was over...

Shopping ensued, both on Thursday night and on Friday morning. People have been asking for pictures of the haul. Take a deep breath...
This is the "accessories" section of the haul. I got a set of Kollage square circulars (a size 8 is missing because it was immediately put to use casting on a tank top with some yarn from last year's Stitches South), Della Q project bags plus an interchangeable needle holder, some portable looms I'd been eyeing, and some Hiya Hiya stitch markers with holder.Sock yarn: The four skeins on the left are from Miss Babs... center is Opal, right two skeins are very sparkly Kraemer with sterling silver woven throughout.

Next up is my visit to the Quiviut booth. No, I'm not that crazy. I bought merino and some very nice hooded cowl patterns...It'll be interesting to see what happens with the cowls. They're lace. And lace and I are currently in a mutual time out. Last time I tried... well... the result was ugly and it resulted in me temporarily losing all my religion.I bought some books and patterns...And some more books and patterns, along with a kewl swift that is the subject of some debate at my house. You can't really see it here... but it's wooden and is flat on the tabletop. Richard says we don't need it; I disagreed.

Finally, more yarn...Some bulky Noro was on closeout at Webs... Got a great deal on the Noro sock, and the Araucania cotton is something insane like 4400 yards, and I'm planning on knitting with it doubled and making some form of garment.

Ordered and to come... some wooden purse handles with a cutout in the shape of a dachshund, and earrings from Sassafras designs made from knitting needles that had to have leverbacks put on.

So, upon review, I probably bought just a teeny bit more than I thought. :)

One of the best parts?? Got our picture made with the folks responsible for Ravelry!That's me in the middle, next to Casey, looking very... short. L to R is Teresa, Jill, Casey, Moi, Jess, Sarah, Jackie, Mary-Heather. (Thanks to Jackie for the picture!)

Other than Stitches South, we made a trip to Perimeter Mall for shopping at the Pandora store and the Clarks shoe store... we ate at the hibachi steak place... Teresa and Jackie shopped at the needlework store that shall not be named for a little bit on Saturday (Richard and I sat in the car) and we headed in before the storms got bad... we did sneak out a bit later so that they could see DF Andy's townhouse and all of her beautiful stitching.

Princess Penny, of course, had a great time nibbling our guests' toes. Teresa's toes, for some reason, are particularly tasty. Jackie got a great picture of her...
All in all, a great but exhausting weekend full of good friends and good times! My bank account has a year to recover, and I can't wait to do it again next year.

On another note... can you help a wiener dog out?? Pam (who created the beautiful February Lady Sweater) has a doxie with a broken leg. To help out with vet bills, she's designed this tres cute baby sweater. If you have a few dollars to spare, please consider making a purchase. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Drumroll, please...

Today is April 15. It's a big day for two reasons. First, it's the end of the first wave of tax season. Second, and most importantly, it's a new beginning.

April 15, 2010 is the first day of business for Early & Smith, LLC, an accounting and financial services firm I've created with my new partner, Steve Smith. Steve is an Enrolled Agent (EA) and is becoming licensed to provide investment services to our clients.

I've known Steve for nearly 20 years now, since we both survived worked at Universal Tax Systems in Rome, GA. He's a Northwest Georgia kid like me, and we share a lot of the same values.

Bob is going to ease into retirement after this tax season, and Steve will be working with a lot of his clients. We're hoping to work together to grow the business a lot more.

I'm excited -- I think this is going to be the beginning of a great new partnership!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

States I've Visited So Far...


visited 22 states (44%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

I'm probably going to regret this...

...but I took the weekend off.

I'd had it. Too tired to think about anything, and I considered myself a danger to work on anybody's stuff. The kicker was on Thursday, when I had one of the worst dizzy spells I'd ever had while I was at a client. Ya know... the room reeling, hold on to the chair for dear life, don't dare get up for fear of falling down kind of dizzy spell. I worked through it; it was probably a mistake because I found out Friday some errors I made that I'm going to have to correct. Upon review of the days leading up to it, it was probably also a mistake to subsist almost exclusively on Girl Scout Cookies, apple fritters, and caffeine -- did I mention the caffeine??

So evidently it was time for a personal "ctrl-alt-del" and a reboot and recharge to get through the next couple of weeks. I decided to go through the Easter weekend and spend it with my "pack" of Richard and Penny and not work.

Saturday we got up and decided it was time for a full pack outing. Started off at Starbucks for the first dining outside of the year. Penny delighted us by chasing petals blowing off the Bradford pear trees when the wind blew. She delighted the children stopping by with their mom on the way through Georgia from Wisconsin to Florida. From there, she went to Top Dogs, where she scored some treats, and we put her in her stroller to go to the Bird Watcher store to get her used to being in it in anticipation of a marathon shopping trip to Pigeon Forge with Grandma later this spring.
We'll just say this experiment wasn't a rousing success. Think "toddler tantrum" and screaming dog. We're hoping that if we tire her out a bit more before we put her in it she might be more amenable to being driven around.

From there we traveled to check out a new yarn store that had been opened by a friend of a friend of mine. Lovin' Knit has just started up, and I had met Pat who owns it at the Starbucks (where else do I hang out?) earlier this winter when she was there meeting with some yarn reps. I think I'm known as the yarn-crazed CPA who accosted her while she was trying to do business... At any rate, turns out Pat knows Bruce, who I do business with for Aflac... (insert small world comment here). The store is very cute and Pat has done a great job getting some very yummy yarn in...
(Have I mentioned I have a little problem with yarn?)

After the yarn shop, we went to another dog boutique (more cookies for Princess Chunky Butt!), a jewelry store (more Pandora charms!) and lunch (Penny enjoyed some bites as we ate outdoors with her).

Today we went to church for Easter services (don't fall over... I actually put on a dress!), and after a grocery store run we've been at home for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Richard has wound one of those skeins of yarn for me. I think I'm going to go start a pair of socks. :)

Till tomorrow, when it's time to work on the taxes again....

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter!

Wishing all of you who celebrate a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover. :)

No chocolate bunnies here. Just one black and tan dappled wiener dog who seems to be on constant alert for any bunnies who may be lurking the front yard. Curiously, she completely missed the squirrel who took over the bird feeder off the deck and emptied it of seed.

It's April 2, and I'm tired. Tax returns are still coming in. Will have an exciting announcement (well, exciting to me anyhow) after April 15.

Back to work...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Save the 88

I love NASCAR, particularly Dale Jr. (as you can tell by the layout of my blog. He's now sporting a Grizzly Adams beard that isn't, in my opinion, attractive, but I digress.).

If you follow NASCAR at all, you know that poor Junior has had a tough couple of (well, several) seasons. Poor guy can't catch a break. He seems cursed. He's had only one win (at Michigan and on fuel mileage at that) over the past few years and it looks like the only luck he has is bad. Either he gets caught up in someone else's problems, his car breaks, the tires give out, the engine blows... you get the picture. Or, aliens take over his brain and he misses his pit stall.

Whatever the problem, it just hasn't been pleasant for those of us faithful in Junior Nation.

There are a group of us knitters who met on Ravelry who are rabid NASCAR fans, and we have a chat during each week's race. We've run through several theories on Junior's problems. One was that his stepmother had a voodoo doll and was sticking pins in at random times. The one that seems to have stuck was that meteors are falling on Junior during the race and causing the problems with his car.

We are of the opinion that the Hubble Space Telescope could be used to predict these meteors and that Mr. Hendrick should surely engage NASA in an effort to help his driver.

Evidently there's another movement afoot as well. Yesterday I received this package in the mail:
I have blocked the return address so that the Society may remain protected from all who would wish Junior harm.

Contained therein was equipment that would be necessary to be worn during the next race to ward off the oncoming meteors and hopefully protect Junior's car from possible harm and enable him to win.

Penny and I are ready:
Bring it on.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm Angry

It hasn't been the best tax season. Software issues have been a real problem. There's some other difficulties with the business. Family issues have piled on top of that.

And then this morning, I discover some low life has spammed my blog.

Her name, among what looked to be the Chinese characters, was "Karen". And she began her comments with "How Cool!" or "How Creative!" before launching into a barrage of what again appeared to be Chinese characters, clearly punctuated by a few words in English that I won't repeat here for fear of more spambots picking them up, and not for a good reason. It was ugly. I'm not a prude, but it's not the type of thing I generally want associated with anything I'm publishing.

What was particularly painful was that the spam hit the post I made when Oscar passed to the Bridge, and the comment began "That's Cool!" Yeah, I know it was something automated or someone who obviously didn't care and would just sit there and type in the code I thought you had to enter to prevent things like this from happening. No, it wasn't "Cool". It still hurts like hell, right to this day.

I've gone through and deleted the comment on all the posts the spammer hit. I didn't want to chance that anyone who reads my blog might come across them.

I've had to turn on comment moderation. I apologize for the hassle it may cause some of you, but I just can't allow this to happen again. And I'm disappointed, because I always enjoyed getting a note in my email letting me see your comments without having to go to the blog to view them. That's over. All because somebody has nothing better to do than spread filth through the internet.

No, I'm not stupid or naive. I know it happens. It just sucks that it happened to me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

One Year Ago Today...

...a little dachshund just south of Atlanta had a litter of pups.

We were waiting and watching anxiously. Our house was empty. The loss was tremendous since our beloved Oscar had crossed to the Rainbow Bridge. We knew that we wouldn't be a whole pack again until we could share our home with another dachshund.

And that little dachshund mother took good care of a little black and tan dapple girl. We talked about her. We speculated on what she was doing... how she was growing... whether she had her eyes open and if she was playing with her little puppy siblings. We called her "new puppy" -- afraid to call her by name just in case the unthinkable happened.

And then, about 7 weeks later"new puppy" became Penny Jasmine, and she came home to live with us. Three perfect pounds of dachshund fury. If you haven't guessed, she's named after the character on "The Big Bang Theory", and sometimes she looks up when Sheldon knocks on the door and says "Penny!".

It had been a long time since we'd had a puppy. We'd forgotten how tough things like teething and potty training were. And there were times I had to remind our little girl that there was only going to be one top bee-yatch in the house, and it was gonna be me.

But she's loving. And she's a clown. And like all dachshunds, she thinks she's much bigger than she actually is (although she's now at 13 pounds -- she's a little fluffy or, as she prefers to say, she's big boned). She loves her food and her chewies. She's fierce from behind a window, and she's successfully chased all the thunder away with her barking. She's kept us safe from airplanes flying overhead as well as a woodpecker who had the audacity to hammer on the metal chimney cover.

She's a bed hog. I wake up every morning with her snuggled up right at my shoulder. She doesn't dive under the covers so much, but she has her own way of taking over at night and making sure she's comfy.

She's smart -- learned to use the ramps right off the bat. She knows all the basic obedience commands. Whether she chooses to hear them is another matter entirely. I long ago resigned myself to the fact that I live with a dog who is much smarter than I am.

So, Happy Birthday Penny Jasmine! We love you, and we're so glad you're here. Thank you for all the joy you give us. And we'll get those birthday cookies ready.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

The victim:
An unsuspecting ball of #8 DMC perle coton, color 739. Last seen being used as a lifeline in a knitted lace project. Mercilessly cut down in the prime of life.

The Culprit:
Caught red-pawed with the victim wrapped around several chairs under a dining table.

Culprit expressed no remorse for her actions and actually begged for a cookie when caught.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I have been informed...

....that I needed to put up a blog post. People. Srsly. Look at the calendar. What the heck do you think I'm doing?? I sure as heck ain't lounging around eating bonbons. And some of you who are asking me to put up a post (ahem, Sandra)... I do your taxes. Just sayin'. So here goes...

So I've pretty much summarized what I've been doing. :) Except.... I went through another round of The Crud. Oh, and I went for my annual physical and my doctor informed me that I was a "walking fracture" thanks to my Vitamin D levels (normal is between 30 and 100 -- my level was 6.3 -- leave it to me to be an overachiever no matter which way I go). Actually, I laughed hysterically over that one, even though it was wildly inappropriate to do so. My doc was so panicked that he had his office trying to reach me on my home phone and cell at the same time to tell me to go get the supplement. Poor guy. He's really great and has been a friend of my family for years... he was actually the one who found my dad's brain tumor and was so good to us during all that, so I'm thankful for him. But the Vitamin D deficiency, according to my reading, actually explains a lot of symptoms I've been having, and I'm hopeful that treating it will turn a lot of stuff around.

We had some more actual snow, and the Pennster loved it! She ran around like a wild dog -- wouldn't let me put her coat on her before she went out. She dug in the snow... sniffed... it's still so strange to have an actual dog. Our little Oscar always treated cold, wet stuff as if it were acid and would look at it, turn around as if to say "No, thank you" and retreat to the comfort of the heating vent. Penny, on the other hand... well...
and
We had trouble getting her to come in the house.

Speaking of Oscar... we passed the year's anniversary of when he went to the Rainbow Bridge. Doesn't seem that long ago. I still miss him like crazy. Penny is soooo different -- which is what we wanted -- but Oscar was my little soulmate. Rest well, little man. I love you.
Knitting, you say? Well, I did participate in the Ravelympics as a member of Team Fast Girls Knit Left from the NASCAR group. I managed to medal in a couple of events with some baby booties I thought would be the death of me. I ended up changing patterns and yarn for fear of cursing the baby after I had to keep ripping out and re-knitting a simple pattern. Turns out those size 5 double points were actually 4 size 7s and one size 6. Yay me for putting things in the right place. Eventually I got a pair of booties that looked like this:
I also medaled with a crochet water bottle holder:
No stitching right now... I have a dog whose goal in life is to eat everything I pick up. She has extremely good taste and only insists on eating silks and expensive overdyed cottons. Won't touch cheap DMC and Anchor. Although, I did send Drema at Needlecraft Corner a list of stuff to send me from the recent Nashville market. That scream and "thunk" sound you hear around the 15th will be me getting my credit card bill. It will shortly be followed by me on the side of the interstate holding a sign that says "Will do taxes for food."

My friend Jen recently put up a blog post about "The Best Friends I've Never Met". I got to experience a little of that myself recently when, after a particularly wretched day, I came home to a box containing all this:
Homemade (and quite yummy, may I add) preserves. A hand knitted cloth with handmade soap. Stitch markers. Wollmeise (pure gold to a knitter). A sweet note to go along with it. All from a friend I'd made on Ravelry who I've never met in real life. I won't embarass her here by naming her, but if she's reading this, and I hope she is, thank you again. You have no idea how much it meant to me and how much I value our friendship.

Sometimes life hands you little surprises to lift you up when you need them, and God gives you people in your life to lift you up and help you carry the load when you need it the most. I'm thankful to Him for all of it. And thanks to all of you who read my little blog and miss me when I don't post. :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dogs on Thursday

It's Penny's turn again over on Dogs on Thursday. Head over and check out her post.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Maybe a sparkle of interest???

The plague/crud/whatever it is continues to attack. Amazingly enough, I think the voice sounds worse than yesterday, yet I still have people calling me and complaining they can't undertstand me when they continue asking questions after the first croak. This is why there's email, people.

I'm not firing on all thrusters, so I don't feel comfortable doing tax work. But I'm bored. I've got on the TV. The current administration comes on talking about a plan to screw up the financial system as badly as they want to screw up healthcare. I can't even scream at the TV. I text Teresa on IM. I text Richard on the phone. I make up words to old songs, such as "Where have you gone, Alan Greenspan, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you, woo woo woo". I watch the market plummet. Now, I can't shut off this crap, because it's my job to keep up with it, much to my chagrin.

So I take out the knitting...

Most of you are now thinking, thank goodness, she's finally going to stop droning on and on about the tax code and the cleaners and the current administration and "how Mr. Smith is running this country and how many languages Enoch Powell can speak and then he throws up all over the Cuba Libres..." (as I lapse into Monty Python, Travel Agent sketch... srsly, if you've never seen this, it's a matter of cultural literacy). And she'll quit nattering about the cute dog.
(gratuitous cute dog photo)

I've been wanting to try two socks on one circular needle, specifically because my attention span lends itself to SSS (single sock syndrome, for those of you who don't knit). My friend Linda does them on two circs, and I've tried it, but I find two circs in general really fussy. A few nights ago Richard and I carefully weighed and divided a skein of Dream in Color sparkly yarn -- I forget what the heck it's called, but it was on sale at the Dizzy Sheep. My original intent was for it to become the wonderful Francie socks that my DF Jen on Ravelry had gifted me the pattern for, but upon review of the pattern and my state of mind, I decided those had best wait for another day. I decided that the Nutkin pattern might fit the bill... challenging enough not to be boring, but not so challenging as to send me screaming (or croaking as the case may be) for the frog pond.

First problem was casting on. Unlike The Magic That is Heather, I wasn't able to figure this out on my own... but fortunately others on the internet had kindly posted detailed photos of exactly how things should look. Got the stitches carefully placed on a size 1.5 47" circular needle and started to knit. I realized quickly that stitchmarkers were going to be necessary, as I kept pulling the cables too tightly and removing my "magic loop" (can you say "tense"?).

It took almost an hour, but I cast on and got two rounds of plain stockinette knit.
I really hope I get better at this. I'll let you know when I get to the heels.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Possibly the most boring blog post ever

So here we are, middle of January. I'm happy to report that I haven't gone postal with anyone over their taxes yet... but then, it's early. We're using a new tax software package this year -- ironically from the same tax software company I worked for in the early 90s. Ownership has changed, but some of the same people I worked with are still involved. One of them is the salesperson who is also my tech contact... he's just getting back into the tax craziness after being laid off from a pharmaceutical company, and we have a deal that he calls me with tax questions and I call him with tech questions. Undoubtedly I think I've got the better end of the deal. :) At any rate, it'll be different getting used to a new package. Right now I've got enough to do finishing up W2s and payroll taxes. My new desk is installed in my office and is wonderful.

Not much else is happening. I appear to have developed a case of the crud/plague/some form of upper-respiratory throat something that has at the moment cost me my voice. Delightful when you still have to speak with clients on the phone. I'm hoping for some pity.

Made a big change to discontinue the cleaning service I had. Now, those of you who know me in real life are well aware that our house will never be a show home. We are, to say the least, cluttered... at worst, we're a candidate for "Hoarders". But we take pride in the fact that even tho there's clutter, the house is basically clean. Until a few weeks ago when I bent down in the kitchen with a paper towel to wipe up a spill and the paper towel came up black. I mean totally black. The day after it had supposedly been mopped.

So I called a client of mine who has a cleaning business, and as luck would have it, she had an opening. She and her husband came today. Wow. Just wow. I am so very happy with everything she did!!! So Susan, if you're reading this, a big ol' Thank You from the three of us... oh, and if you live in the north Atlanta area and are looking for someone to help you out, let me know and I'll provide particulars... :)

Penny continues to run the household. She's now 10 months old and is a Big Dog. Just ask her. She fancies herself to be a watchdog. Just let there be a noise of any sort -- car going by, airplane flying overhead, ant walking across the grass -- and she'll spring into action and into full barking frenzy. We haven't seen what would happen should she encounter Actual Danger, but I'm sure in her mind she's up to the challenge. This week we took her for a walk that was a full circuit of the neighborhood -- about 2.5 miles. That made for one tuckered teckel (as well as tuckered parents who walked her...).

Until next time... stay warm... if you're around here, stay dry... and continue to keep the people of Haiti in your prayers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sometimes we need a reminder...

...of Who's in charge.

We got a reminder in Haiti last night. The suffering of that poor nation is tremendous... the history of corrupt government combined with the poverty, and now the smackdown of this earthquake... it's almost too much for humans to comprehend.

It's natural to want to help. And that's what I want to talk to you about.

You're going to see commercials on TV and hear them on the radio from relief agencies begging you for money. I'd like for you to consider other options, namely, faith-based relief organizations.

These organizations are not going to use their money on advertising. They operate as a branch of their denomination (or please forgive me, whatever branches of the Jewish faith are called... I'll admit I don't know), and their salaries and expenses are paid by the larger organization. That means that the money you donate for the cause actually goes to the cause and not to finance overhead.

More bang for the buck. As an accountant, I like that. And they'll give you the receipt you need for your taxes.

These folks are often the first ones in to situations like Haiti. They go in quietly, doing their work without fanfare. You won't see them on TV. They're carrying out the mission their faith tells them to do, which is to serve their brothers.

It doesn't matter if you're a believer or not. Just recognize the good work these organizations are doing, often on a shoestring budget. And help them if you can. I've put my money where my mouth is, and I encourage you to do the same.

Of the many organizations available, I can direct you to two I have personal experience with: the Presbyterians and the Methodists. There are many more available... just do your research and check them out before you give. Unfortunately, events like this also bring out a lot of charlatans.

God bless you for helping. God bless the relief workers. And God bless and help the people of Haiti.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ice, Ice, Baby...

What did I get for my birthday?? Ice.

There's precedent: twenty-two years ago, my thirtieth birthday party was cancelled due to a good old-fashioned Southern snow storm... which to those of you who don't live in these parts means a heavy coating of ice topped by about an inch or inch and a half of snow. We who were raised in the South understand that it means a snow day, and we hole up in our houses for the most part, having raided the local grocery stores of all the bread and milk, and we don't leave until the ice melts, which is generally the next day. Now, I understand those of you from cooler climates don't understand this but 1) you can't drive on ice and 2) we just don't have the equipment down here to clear the roads.

So on Wednesday, my two DFs Ann and Teresa came into town to spend the weekend with me for my birthday. We'd been cooking up this plan since ASG in October, and we were psyched about just hanging out on Thursday, doing shopping and eating out on Friday (my actual birthday) and then deciding what to do on Saturday.

Except... on Thursday afternoon it started raining. Then, it started snowing. Normally not much of a problem, since it generally melts and goes away, but we've been in the grips of the coldest weather this area has seen in, oh, 20 years (note reference above to my 30th birthday...). Somebody left the door to the arctic open and has seriously neglected to close it. So... the rain gave us a nice layer of ice for the snow to stick to, and the temps were low enough that it wasn't going anywhere.

Thursday night DFs Jill, Heather, Andy, Debbie, and Linda joined us for stitch night and a brief celebration -- Debbie brought some oh so delicious cupcakes! -- but driving home was a bit dicey, but everyone reported in that they had made it safely.

Friday morning we turned on the TV and realized we weren't going anywhere. Looked out the window at the ice on the road in front of the house and realized we weren't going anywhere. Fortunately Richard was able to work from home (we discovered later that night that it was a really good thing he didn't try to go in -- his route to work was the scene of an 11 car pileup where people just abandoned their cars because they couldn't move them on the ice). So... we had another day of hanging out, knitting, and stitching. Teresa discovered the wonders of the Wii and video games. :) And we shifted all our plans to Saturday.

Fortunately everything looked clearer on Saturday thanks to some sunshine and wind (the temps still hadn't come up, so there wasn't any actual melting). Richard and his "harem" ventured out... we met up with DFs Heather and Andy to shop at the Vera Bradley store (do you know you get a freebie from them on your birthday?? Sweet!) and Teavana (yum...). Then we ventured up to Buford, GA to shop at The Stitch Store (used to be The Dogwood Patch in Hiawassee, GA but recently moved and re-named). Lucked into their 20% off grand opening sale! :) It's a nice store, with a very sweet owner, and she has a fabulous selection of fabric and fibers.

Saturday evening we were met by DF Cathy, and we all went to The Melting Pot for fondue. I absolutely love fondue, and this didn't disappoint! Richard had arranged for balloons and a special gift of chocolate dipped strawberries as well. Everyone got different cheese fondues, entrees, and different chocolate dessert fondues so we were able to sample a lot.

What a wonderful birthday and a wonderful weekend! A little ice and snow can't stop a good party. :)

And the snow?? Someone had her first experience in it:

video

Till next time -- stay warm!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year... New Outlook (I hope!)

Thanks to all of you who actually read my last two posts. Looking back over them, they were so depressing that even I couldn't stand reading them! So I'm starting off the year with a fresh outlook and have high hopes that I'll be more entertaining.

So how about some pictures?? Say of a particularly cute wiener dog who just happened to get a package in the mail from her Uncle Jerry, Aunt Kay, and Cousin Clancy in Chicago??

The package was addressed to Penny, so it was only fair that she got first crack at opening it:Unfortunately, the lack of opposable thumbs was ultimately her downfall. She gave it her best shot, but we had to help her. Inside, just for her were yummy, yummy, home baked dog cookies.Now, I know this picture shows her sitting politely, waiting for a cookie. I fear it is seriously misleading, as she was quite excited and could barely wait to get to the yumminess that I was holding. Understand that Penny is, as all dachshunds appear to be, an odd little dog. When she gets a particularly high value treat that she thinks needs to be "buried" in our house, she'll walk around with it in her mouth, crying. It sounds quite pitiful and it was very distressing the first few times we heard it until we figured out it was just her way. She took the cookie, cried, buried it, unburied it, walked and cried again, buried it, unburied it, walked and cried again... well you get the idea. This went on for quite awhile until she finally brought it to us for "permission" to eat. Silly dog. Needless to say, the cookies are such high value that I'm doling them out slowly... And we give a great big Thank You to our Chicago friends!!!

Penny has now decided that she wants to claim my pillow at night to sleep on. Mind you, there is an entire king-sized bed that she pretty much has the run of (can I end any more phrases with prepositions?), but she has a dachshund-obsession with my pillow. A couple of nights ago it landed her in her crate to sleep -- now her crate is large and has a fluffy dog bed in it, so it's hardly a prison, but it's not with us. So we'll say that it's a problem we're working on.

A little knitting, you say? Well, I did finish Christmas gifts for my sisters-in-law that can now be shown:Identical hats and cowls, made from Araucania Chunky wool, ordered from Webs. Cowl pattern is the Un-Purled Cables cowl created by my friend Sara, and the hat is a beret recipe from Crazy Aunt Purl. Both are free patterns on Ravelry. I thought both of my sisters-in-law could use them since they have dogs that need walking during the winter weather.

Other pics? Well, I never posted the pic of the crew at ASG:From L to R you find moi, Ann, The Magic That Is Heather, Teresa (girlwithneedles for all you Ravelry folks), Jill, Joy, and Angela. Our group was a little smaller this year, but we still had loads of fun.

That's all for now... back to work with me tomorrow. Richard has been on vacation for two weeks and it's been wonderful having him home. Although, it's been a bit of a working vacation as we've been trying to evict the slobs who evidently moved into our house without us knowing it. We couldn't possibly be that messy, could we?? In the process I ordered a grown-up desk for my office to be delivered this week and I'm very excited about that. ("If you get excited about a desk and a calculator, you might be an accountant.") So until next time...The End. :)