Thursday, February 13, 2014

Desperate times

Desperate times today called for desperate measures, and DS lost his screen time privileges, first time in a long time and first time since my brother gifted us with an iPad.  (No, my brother is taken and you cannot have him.  Unless you are marriage minded, intelligent and attracted to tall geeky guys young woman.  Then give me a call. )  DS whined, whined some more how unfair life was to him, tried to promise me everything our planet had to offer and some more and then quietly disappeared.  I had a sneaking suspicion that he snuck into my bedroom and was using some electronic device under covers.  He was.  I found him playing with the calculator I brought from work today.  Calculator!  Does that count as screen time too?  I mean it does have a screen, teeny tiny screen, but nevertheless there's a screen...  Poor kid.  I guess he was having his own "desperate times call for desperate measures" moment.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

On life being predictable

To Whom It May Concern:

When I was young and somewhat stupid, my biggest fear was that life would somehow turn boring.  And in the young and not yet fully developed brain, boring = predictable.  Life was supposed to be full of surprises and adventures.  And butterflies.  Now that I am older and wiser, I appreciate some predictability that at times is lacking in my life.  Actually, I crave it.  For example, I would love to see my girls in the morning with the same hair length they had the night before.  A rather modest wish, no?  Or, if having my makeup untouched by little hands is too much to expect, at the very least I would love to find it in usable condition and in the same place/room/house I left it.

So when I feel like I can't take anything for granted and there's nothing I can count on in this life, life/God/Universe shows me that things are not as dire as I thought.  For example, just last Saturday I was reminded that if for some reason I don't clean the table after the meal, I can fully expect to see dirty plates and food still on the table hours after the meal has ended.  Or that no one will refill toilet paper in the bathroom except for me.  Or that there will be dirty clothes in all corners of kids' rooms, except for hampers.  Or that kids will take hours to find scissors for school projects, but somehow manage to give themselves haircuts in those three minutes you turned your back on them.

And there's my message to the life/God/Universe.  If you feel the need to remind me that I do have things in life I can count on, could you please not send all the reminders in one day?

Thank you very much.

Your truly,


Monday, January 7, 2013

It's a kind of magic

Another year, another set of resolution.  I, for one, this year decided to make only one resolution: to gain weight.  Yep, that's right!  It's a win-win.  If I gain weight, and judging by the historical trend there's a very good chance of gaining, I would have finally kept a resolution.  If I lose weight, I still win because of all this medical nonsense about healthy weight increasing one's life span, which might not even be true.

So I was on my merry way of keeping my resolution, indulging in post-holiday semi-binge of leftover and on sale chocolate, which skinny people in our office put out  as part of their evil plot to keep me fat, when I read an article about the best apps to for DIY weight loss.  Since my hubby bought me an iPod Touch on the occasion of Black Friday, I decided to download the app, MyFitnessPal, just to see what this is all about.

Ladies and gentleman, there is nothing miraculous about that app.  MyFitnessPal is on my iPod for the last 14 hours, and I still haven't lost an inch or a pound.  There was something magical about it though.  Upon entering my weight and height, I was given allowance of over 2500 calories a day, roughly twice my usual on any low calorie diet.  Now that's magic!  I was so ecstatic, I even forgot to overeat.  But then I grew suspicious and upon further investigation discovered that my weight in kilos had been translated into pounds, but the translated number remained somehow as my weight in kilos. A quick adjustment brought down my daily allowable calories to a very, very little over 1300.  There's nothing magical about that. has been fourteen hours and I can say that there's something about this app that I cannot explain.  I had kept food diaries, recorded points and calories and fat and blah blah, at times obsessively, but I always knew there was no way I could sustain that for more than a week, even if that.  My inner gut tells me that this has a chance of sticking.  It could be the magic of Apple though.  Also?  That number of remaining allowable calories is somehow more difficult to ignore than a piece of paper with points.  I don't know why.

And finally, yes, I still take my weight in kilos, even after living in this wonderful country of ours for more than 15 years.  I still am more comfortable with metric system and haven't given up hope that Americans will eventually come to their senses and switch just like the rest of the world.  I also know that the minute I fully acclimate myself to pounds and inches and Fahrenheit, the switch will be finally made and I would have to relearn the old way, so I resist being the victim of Murphy's Law.  The biggest bonus though - my weight in kilos is 2.2 times less than in pounds!  It just sounds and looks less scary on the scale.  One would say that the weight loss is also 2.2 times smaller in klos, but I got it covered!  I measure my weight loss as a percentage of total body weight!  On the Excel spreadsheet.

Yes, I am an accountant.  Did you even need to ask?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How do you know that your phone call with the Department of Revenue won't be a smooth one?

Well, if it starts like this:

Department of Revenue Rep:  Ma'am what tax are you calling about?  It states there on your notice.
Me:  It's the tax with a code 321.
Rep:  I see, it's UBIT.  Ma'am do you know what's a UBIT tax?
Me:  Yes.
Rep:  What kind of a tax is that?  I never heard of it.

That should've been my cue to ask for a transfer to a different rep or a supervisor, but theoretically, the kind of tax they were charging my company shouldn't have made a difference in this instance.  So I proceeded to explain what kind of tax UBIT was and explained that we have already paid it; therefore, we were perplexed as to why we were billed again by the Department of Revenue.

Rep:  You filed twice, that's why we billed you.  Ignore the notice until we sort this whole thing out.
Me:  We did not file twice.  Why would we?
Rep:  Ma'am, I see here that we received two filings from you, and paid UBIT, I don't even know what this is, only once.  (I wish I were making this up or exaggerating.)
Me:  We filed once and another piece was just correspondence.  Not sure why it went into your system as another filing.  So what should I do now to avoid double tax?
Rep:  Send us a letter explaining that you filed twice and ask us to deleted the second filing.
Me:  But we did not file twice!
Rep:  Ma'am, I'm not going to beat here around the bush all day long.  You filed twice and that is that.  That's what I am seeing in the system.
Me: How do I know you will delete the letter and not the tax return or won't treat this piece of correspondence as the third filing?  And what should I do, ignore the notice or write a letter?
Rep:  Ma'am, I already told you everything.

At this point I admitted defeat, after all if the rep from the Department of Revenue told you that you filed twice, he simply cannot be wrong; you might have done it in your sleep or suffered a short term memory loss, but you surely did it.  Because it's right there, in the system.  And no one argues with the Department of Revenue and the system.

Me:  Well, thank you for your help.  By the way, what is your name?  You never introduced yourself.
Rep:  Bill.
Me:  Bill, do you have a last name?  Or some sort of ID that would uniquely identify you?
Rep:  I don't give out my last name.  We don't have IDs.  I am the only Fred in the Customer Service Bureau.

And finally the ray of sunshine!  On behalf of all tax paying entities in the state of Massachusetts,  I say thank God that there's only one Bill working for the Department of Revenue.

P.S. After some consideration, I called back and got someone polite and competent.  The matter is now resolved.