Thursday, August 31, 2006

Taxes, Vets, and Houses


I received a letter from the IRS telling me I owed them $1,900 from 2004. Hell no, said I. Today I went to an H&R Block office to see how they could help me. I had completed my 2004 tax return online. I exercised a lot of stock options that year and felt that my reporting of that piece on my tax return was most likely where I had messed up the numbers.

I received a call a while later from the tax lady during which I was told that I did owe the IRS a little bit...about $75 plus interest. The tax lady completed the amended return for me as well as took care of whatever else there is to take care of. I have an appointment next Wednesday to pick up everything, pay H&R Block for the service, and mail in all the new information to the IRS.

I'm very relieved I won't have to send such a significant sum to the IRS.


After I went to the tax office, I picked up Gracie's insulin and syringes at the vet. There are a couple of vet techs there who really think my car is they should.


I found online a new little housing community built by KB Homes that has small homes starting at $80,000. I quickly drove through the area this afternoon. I'm going to go back tomorrow, on my day off, and peruse the model homes. The community is about 13 miles from here, and it took me about 20 minutes with no traffic. It's in an older part of town that is kind of run down, but not nasty. House hunting is still just that right now...hunting.

That's pretty much all. Kinda boring this time. I did get three more Stargate SG-1 discs tonight in my mailbox from Netflix, so I'll enjoy watching them all tomorrow.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rain, Hair, and Whatever Else


It is raining right now. Yes, right now as I type this, liquid is falling from the sky. The liquid began falling as I was driving home this afternoon from Ft. Worth. For about a minute the rain was so heavy that I had to slow to 20mph on the highway because I couldn't see. I loved it.

In case you've been in a coma, out of the country, or are just plain stupid, you know we've had around 40+ days with 100+ degree heat so far this summer. The earth is dry and cracked, and we're on water conservation/rationing systems. It doesn't really affect me because I live in an apartment, but house owners are finding that their foundations are cracking and their trees are dying. Bad news.

Anyway, I suppose it's rained about 45 minutes, a real thunderstorm, which hopefully is enough to get water to all the living things that need it.


My nephew has always liked to hold hair. He usually likes to hold his mom's hair, but lately he prefers my hair or my younger sister's hair. He likes to climb all over me, then play with my hair. After a while, I get tired of it. He whines when I ask him to stop. He says, "I want to hold your hair. It's soft. Whine whine whine whine." What's up with this kid? Isn't that just a tad unusual?

Whatever Else

I've been watching Stargate SG-1 on DVD through Netflix. I am really enjoying it. I was looking online the other night for Sci-Fi conventions. I've never been to one and thought it might be kind of fun. I couldn't find one anywhere around here, though, and I don't particularly want to spend vacation time traveling to attend one. Maybe something will come up in the future.

Wow, this post was exceptionally boring. I can't believe you read it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Time---and---A Physics Question


I read something online a few weeks ago that mentioned the word 'time' is the most often used word in the English language. I don't agree with that. I would think the word 'the' or 'I' would win out over 'time'. Maybe it is the most often used noun or concept.

A person told me today that she doesn't like clocks and dislikes the concept of time. She said it is a manmade concept and makes her feel stressed and unsettled. She also said that she owns only one clock, and that is her alarm clock. She does not own or wear a watch. She doesn't have a bedtime, but rather goes to sleep when she's tired, and she doesn't eat at certain times of the day, but rather eats when she's hungry. On her days off or her vacations, she goes an entire day or many days at a stretch without knowing what time it is. I am fascinated by this.

I am obsessed with time. I must have my watch on me at all times. Sometimes I'll even sleep with it on and shower with it on, though the latter is because I'll wash it while I'm in the shower. At work, shift locations and assignments are made in one-hour increments, and I must know where each person is each hour of the day in order to ensure we've got all the right balls in the air at all the right times. I must know the time in order to do this. If I had to guess, I'd say I look at a clock, watch, or some other timekeeping device or time display over 100 times a day, maybe more.

I heard a story some time back about a college professor who couldn't wear wristwatches. I can't remember if it had something to do with a pacemaker or maybe it was that the man couldn't wear anything constricting for health reasons. Whatever the reason, this man had fine tuned his internal clock and always knew within 5 minutes what the time was.

When I was in drum corps, some of the rehearsal days, which were commonly 14 hours long, would pass by extremely slowly. I commented on this one time, and one of my peers told me she had stopped wearing her watch and noticed the time passed by more quickly. I followed suit and found she was right.

I can't go without my watch at work, or my work will suffer, but I can try an experiment at home regarding time. I haven't yet determined the scope or the rules of the experiment. I'll keep you posted.

A Physics Question

Imagine the sun is shining through a window and creating a small light spot on the wall or floor. Imagine I take a ball point pen and begin waving it back and forth between the window and the floor so that a small fraction of the light spot is in shadow at any one moment in time. If I were able to wave the pen back and forth at a speed faster than the oscillating speed of the light wave--in essence, faster than light--would the light spot stay in shadow and basically not be seen?

I wonder such things.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Two unrelated subjects today.

First, Christmas:

I saw a little Christmas basket yesterday, and I got into a discussion with another person about Holiday music, and how much I enjoy it. There is was, 104 degrees outside AGAIN for the umpteenth consecutive day, and we were talking about which holiday songs we liked, and which artists had good holiday albums. Other Person said that Mariah Carey's album was quite good, and I tossed out my most favorite one by Amy Grant...her 2nd one--can't remember the name of it right now. I mentioned how disappointed I was with Vanessa Williams' Silver and Gold that came out a couple of years ago. Other Person mentioned that O Holy Night was her favorite holiday song. She called the religious songs 'Jesus Songs'. I guess they are. I like both Jesusy and non-Jesusy holiday music.

Later on I remembered the 2-foot tree and ornaments that I bought at 75% off after Christmas last year and began to get excited about the thought of decorating my first-ever own personal Christmas tree. I know it's a few months away, and I'm silly to be excited about it, but there you go. Maybe I'll invite some friends over to help me trim the midget tree and serve them apple cider and Christmas cookies. The absurdity of it would be hysterically funny to me.

Second, Men:

Usually I am very composed in public situations. I don't want to embarrass myself face-to-face (though it doesn't seem to bother me online). Today I was in very grave danger of making a fool of myself. Over a month ago, I had ordered a tiny part for my Honda. It is a little piece of plastic that covers the nut that holds the rear windshield wiper to the window. I lost the original part somewhere on my vacation. Well, I certainly was NOT going to drive 25 miles to the dealer in that crappy Chevy Cobalt to pick it up, so I just waited until I got my car back. This afternoon I had the time to pick up the part. I am so guilty of having car-pride now. I admit it. I love driving my car. I especially love driving my car to the Honda dealer. It's bright, it's hot, it's tangerine. It's a color that you either hate or love, but you just HAVE to know who is driving it.

I love seeing the expressions on the people when I bring it in for an oil change. Everyone else is there in their fuddy duddy silver or white cars...boring. (No offense intended to you silver and white car drivers, it's just my personal preference.) There's almost always at least 2 salesmen standing outside the doors to the dealership, and they always ask me about the car. Yep, I like that, I really do. must have been a very slow sales day, because I had 4, yes 4 men try to open the two doors for me. I'm sure they do that for everyone coming through the front doors, but it was nice.

Then I went to the parts area and 4 men asked me if they could help me. Ahhhhhh...yesssss. Again, I was the only customer there and they were just doing their jobs, but I still liked it.

And then when I was ready to leave, 2 men opened the doors for me again while another 4 were flanking them, sort of like some strange honor guard. I said to them, "You mean I have to run the gauntlet? You guys are scaring me." They didn't understand what I meant, so I just said, "Thanks guys," as I walked out the doors. I should have kept my stupid mouth shut and just said thanks.

But I liked it. I liked it a lot. I put the part on my windshield wiper and left. Two other men stared at my car and smiled at me as I drove out of the dealership.

To them it was just good customer service, but to me, a person who never gets looked at twice by a man unless he needs me to help him find a book, it was bliss.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

And on the Thirtieth Day...

Today, indeed, yes it's afternoon in fact...I GOT MY CAR BACK!!!

It looks great, like the hailstorm never happened. It was strange to get re-adjusted to it. And I noticed it still smells like new car.

In total, the repairs were over $2,800 (my deductible is $250, thank goodness), and the rental car was $750. I had to pay a bit over $19 on the rental because my insurance just covers up to $25/day.

It's crazy. I haven't even owned the car 7 months, and I didn't have it in my possession for 1 of those months.

The downside is that the hood and roof no longer have the paint sealant that the original finish had because the hood is new and the roof was repainted. If bird poo gets on it, I am supposed to get it off immediately. I may call my Honda dealer and see how much it will be to get both of those parts sealed -- probably way too much.

Netflix--I have gotten very good turn-around time on my last two cycles of DVDs. Sometimes it takes 4 or 5 days to get the next discs, but the past two times it has just taken 2 days. I hope this continues.

I received an LL Bean Fall 2006 clothing catalog in the mail. The lady on the front is wearing a turtleneck sweater with a wool blazer and blue jeans. How did LL Bean know that I was just itching to look at a catalog full of high-necked, thickly layered clothing while it's 104 degrees outside. I flipped through the catalog, started sweating (not really, I just added that for impact) and threw it in the trash.

I don't remember if all 5 of you who post comments here have to enter letters in that annoying verification box to post. What's with those letters, anyway? I never type so many x's, q's and z's as I do when trying to comment on these blogs. The verificationer thingy really favors those letters. Somebody should do something about that.

If you haven't already, you should try playing Animal Ark Mah Jong at It is quite addicting.

In other news...we had some U.S. Senator come into the store today. He wanted to sign copies of his new book. I was at lunch, but I remember his last name begins with a 'D'.

In who-the-hell-cares Captain Underpants temporary tattoo is coming off of my left hand. I should have taken a picture of it while it was still fresh. Oh well.

That's all I have for now.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

No Car, Ice Cream, and Nasty People Thoughts

I still don't have my car. I called on Thursday to ask them if the work was done. It was not. I called them Friday to ask if the work was done. It was not. I was told it would be ready late Monday. I'm deciding to not believe that, in which case it will come true. At that point my car will have been in the shop for 28 days. It better look damn good.

Recipe for Dr. Pepper Ice Cream

Stir one cup sugar into one cup milk and 2 cups half n half.
Add 2 teaspoons vanilla (or more if you want)
Add a couple tablespoons of Dr. Pepper syrup from the Dr. Pepper bottling plant in Dublin, TX (available online)

Pour into 1 1/2 quart ice cream maker and let it run for 25 minutes.


Because of the recent happenings regarding terrorists and the airlines, I was reminded of a couple things that happened the day after 9/11.

Many many people wanted the 9/12 newspaper, especially the New York Times. We received a few copies, like always. We had received numerous phone calls before we opened, and all of our copies had been placed on reserve for those folks. When we opened I remember there was one man who was absolutely livid. I mean yelling, red in the face, teeth snarling irate because we didn't have any NYT papers left for him to purchase. I remember being incredulous at his behavior. Thousands of people had just lost their lives, and this guy was yelling at me because he didn't get a newspaper.

That was one of those situations where all I could do was apologize. What I wanted to tell him is that we had a store in the WTC. It was demolished when the towers fell, though it was in one of the other tower complex buildings. We hadn't yet received word of the safety of the people who worked there, as they all scattered quickly, much like when one of our stores was hit by Hurricane Katrina. I wanted to tell the man that there were more important things than getting a newspaper to keep as a collector's item. But I didn't.

It was within the next couple of days that we learned all of the store staff were ok. They had gotten out well before the towers actually fell.

In the days that followed, as I learned more about what was going on I became increasingly proud and felt privileged to be working in the industry that I do. A large bookstore like mine wouldn't be permitted in many countries, at least not with any kind of diverse selection. I felt good about being able to walk through my store (and that was my 1st store; I'm now on my 4th) and see books on all topics and know that I live in a country where I can read whatever I want. I don't have to sneak around like the ladies in "Reading Lolita in Tehran".

I'm not really building up to any one huge point here. The recent events have just had me reflecting on the past a little bit. Reflection can be good sometimes.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Where, Oh Where, Has My Tangerine Honda Element Gone

Still no car today. I'm going to carry my cell phone with me tomorrow all day, even though I don't permit cell phones on the salesfloor at work. The car had better be done tomorrow!

Today is my only day off this week. I'm quite tarred because of the heat and inventory. When it's over 100 degrees for a few weeks in a row, it really takes a toll on the body. So, I am staying inside allllll day today. I did some chores and need to shred stuff later.

Tonight I'm going to make a pizza. It's kinda pricey to make a pizza this way, but it tastes far better than anything you can buy.

Homemade Pizza

On a Boboli bread shell, spread a can of Italian-seasoned tomato paste.
Sprinkle with more seasonings if desired. I use Penzey's Pizza Seasoning.
Place your toppings on it. Tonight I'm going to make a Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza. Sometimes I top it with pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, onion, and bell pepper.
Top with mozzarella or pizza blend shredded cheese.
Sprinkle some parmesan on top if desired.
Bake in 450 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.

It's fast and it's easy to make if you have kids. I make it because it's tasty and I'm lazy. The key is the tomato paste. You get a nice sauce without all the drippiness of a packaged pizza sauce. It also reheats like a gem.

I'm hooked on Stargate-SG1. I have watched the first season through Netflix and am really enjoying it. It is currently in its 10th season, and Stargate: Atlantis is in its 3rd season. All those episodes should keep me busy for a few months.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

No Pictures This Time

Today is day 22 without my Honda. The hail damage was quite extensive and is requiring several techniques to fix. The latest news is that I'll have my car back Thursday or Friday.

Car Pride karma has officially kicked me in the ass. I've had to drive around town in this nasty little Chevy Cobalt for 22 days. I want my car back!!!!!!

In other news...

We had inventory on Sunday night. Inventory is a once-a-year event during which an outside service comes into the store and scans every single piece of merchandise in the entire store.

Inventory is not all that bad. I've been through 12 or 13 of them. But every item in the store gets pulled out, scanned, and shoved back. Imagine someone going through your house and touching/moving everything in it. It can look a bit rough when they're done.

On Sunday night customers kept coming to the front door, asking if we were open. It probably looked like we were open because we had people everywhere and all the lights were still on. About an hour into the process a man came to the door, and I sent one of my managers to go explain the situation to him. The manager came back after speaking with the man for a minute and said, "That was Owen Wilson, by the way."


Speaking of celebrities...

There's a show on Fox -- I think it's Fox -- but remember, I don't watch TV, so I've never seen this show. Anyway, the show is called Prison Break, and apparently it's pretty hot right now. The show is filmed somewhere in Dallas and stars a guy named Wentworth Miller.

I know...poor guy...must be a family name.

This guy apparently comes in my store a few times a week, much to the delight of my staff.


I have a hankering to go to Washington, D.C. on vacation in the next couple of years. I also want to go to Acadia National Park in Maine. I also want to do a white water raft trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. I'd also like to go scuba diving in the Caribbean or Mexico. I'd also like to go to Prince Edward Island.

Where would you like to go?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Yellowstone/Glacier Trip, Part VII

Seven parts sounds like a good place to end. These pictures are worth ten million words.

Wild Geese Island

Logan Pass

A Glacier

Flathead Valley/Flathead River

The Garden Wall

Creek Running to Lake McDonald