Friday, October 9, 2009

Adam Smith and the INTP Writing Spider

Adam Smith wrote of the free market system in the Wealth of Nations, saying "by pursuing his own interest, [the individual] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he intends to promote it."

The idea is that people act in their own best interests, and if those interests opposed other interests, they bounce off each other in a logical, mathematical way, like laser beams or those charts that David Stockton used to describe trickle down economics. As conflicting interests intersect, they cause actions which, in the end, lead to fair prices, exactly enough production, and wealth and happiness for all.

The problem here, as I see it, is that Adam Smith was INTP (like me.) He believed that people acted in their own best interests. He couldn't believe that people would act in a way that was harmful to their best interest in order to harm others. He probably said, "don't cut off your nose to spite your face" a lot. He probably saw that some people acted counter to their own self-interest in order to help others, but that would usually be small and concentrated --- like a church or a family or a small village helping others even if they sacrificed their own best interest. (Some people insist that altruism is another way of acting in one's own best interest, with the interest being "feeling good" or salvation or something. I don't care.)

But Adam Smith (OK, I'm projecting, get over it), couldn't believe that people would, for instance, refuse to hire the best person for a job because of personal dislike or prejudice. He (and by that I mean "I") couldn't believe that people would support a friend even if that friend's actions destroyed the business, family, community or whatever they were building. He certainly couldn't understand a person who supported someone she hated simply because she hated the opponent more. (The enemy of my enemy is my friend.)

The free market system, as an economic or social model, isn't going to operate the way it has been projected to act because the basic premise is wrong: people do not act in their own best interest. They are willful, ornery, and stupid. (Sorry, I meant to avoid that word.)

Now, does that mean that the other side of the dichotomy does work as predicted? Communism is based on the notion that people will act in the best interest of the community so that overall people will be better off.


That does work in some cases, but they tend to be small scale and/or short lived. Families, churches, Utopian communities all operate fairly well as communal groups. It probably worked better in the old days, and it surely works better in non-Western societies where individualism isn't as valued as it is here.

I mean, I live in SC, where people who hate guns own guns just because someone from NY City said they shouldn't. I've known people who smoked even though they wanted to quit because it pissed them off that anyone would tell them not to (OK, that was me.) I personally eat extra carbs to balance all of those poor souls on low-carb diets. (What, you always act in your own self interest?) So, what I'm saying is that if people don't act in their own self interest, they aren't going to act in the communal interest either. At least, not most people.

OK, you ask, what type of economy do you think we should have?

How should I know? I answer. I'm really thinking about myself and why I don't act in my own self interest by eating well, praying for peace, and buying locally. I'm thinking about my INTP tendency to think people will act in their own self-interest. Even if it's not mine, it's rational & I can plan for it. But no, they cut off their noses to spite their faces, and I'm left with mouth agape staring at No-nose and thinking, "Wow. I didn't see that coming." Every day. Over and over again. Every. Single. Day.

So I'm writing it in my web in the hopes that I can at least entertain myself.

Note to self: People are freakin' nuts. Drink more water.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Unhealth Care

In late 2007, we had a meningitis scare in our house. Fortunately it was viral & everyone is now well. Unfortunately, we spent a good bit of time in the hospital to find out it wasn't bacterial for Gabe, Robert, and Katy and to find out that Mark and Joseph did not have it at all, I guess.

Robert and Katy were both very sick and in different rooms in the adult emergency room. Gabe was in the infant section of the children's hospital, with Bob and me by his crib-side. Katy & Gabe had Medicaid, but Robert was uninsured. They ran tests on Katy & Gabe, figuring that if they had bacterial meningitis so did Robert.

At the urging of Gabe's doctor, we brought Mark and Joseph to the emergency room. They both had flu-like symptoms and at that point, bacterial meningitis was a possibility.

Joseph was brought into the adult emergency room, where he stayed in a pod for two days until they decided he probably had the flu. Mark was seen by a doctor in the pediatric emergency room who looked at him, pronounced him well and sent him home. Mark's bill was almost $600. Joseph's was over $1200. We had met the family deductible of $700, so we only had to pay $125 special co-pay (for following doctor's advice and taking them to the emergency room), plus regular co-pays for about $250 each.

Everyone survived, and this is the lesson:

The health care debate is about the wrong things... for the most part.
Many Opponents of health care reform have put up a straw man and are fighting him well. "Medical care should be between a patient and the doctor." "Don't let the government get between you and your doctor." My elderly neighbor announced that all people in the US have perfectly good health care, why change it if it isn't broken?

Proponents have presented plans that will essentially make the government the insurer or which will subsidize private insurers, and that doesn't really solve the problem, either.

Medical insurance does not equal medical care.

More recently, I was waiting to see a doctor at a Doc-in-the-Box (where I read almost all of A Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, a short but dense book), when a woman brought her son in for care. She presented her insurance card --- the same insurance as I have --- and was told she'd have to pay $300 that day in order for him to be seen because she had not met his deductible. She didn't have $300. Also, the billing clerk should have said "up to" $300, because it wouldn't have cost that much. Anyway, HIPPA violations aside, this well-insured woman took her sick son home. I finished by novel and saw a doctor two hours later.

Remember, insurance companies are there to MAKE MONEY. They make money by RECEIVING MORE PREMIUM MONEY than they PAY OUT IN HEALTH CARE. This is only possible if THEY DENY HEALTH CARE CLAIMS.

Medical decisions are not made between a patient and a doctor, but between a billing clerk at either the insurance company or medical facility and the potential patient.

I have been prescribed medication only to find that my insurance company doesn't agree with my doctor. My doctor's office has to explain to my insurance company why I need a mammogram or a colonoscopy. Preventive health care is rarely provided, even though it would be beneficial economically and medically. Health Care professionals do not call the shots. The Insurance companies do... if you are luck enough to have insurance.

A "death panel" does not decide if you get life-saving treatment, your bank account decides.

Sarah Palin does not believe that Trig's worth should be determined by his mental or physical abilities, but by his parent's bank accounts.

She is not the only parent struggling with a child's illnesses and health needs. She can be cavalier in suggesting Trig might not get treatment, because, unlike many parents, she knows he always will.

Sit in the chemotherapy rooms at any oncology center and listen to the people there wondering if they should pay for another round of chemo or for groceries. Listen to older adults wondering if it is right for them to spend their families' money on what may be hopeless.

Sometimes we just don't need that extra test...

I'm sorry Dr. D, I love you, but I really did not need that nuclear stress test. And did they have to hook me up to a monitor every time I gave birth? (Well, in my cases, probably... but that's not my point.) Can you please send me to a nutritionist instead of prescribing cholesterol medication? Tell me to get off my a$$, quit smoking, put down the donut? I know it doesn't sound doctorish, but does all medicine have to come in a bottle or by way of a trillion dollar machine with bells and whistles signifying nothing? Do I have to go to a specialist to have ear wax removed? (OK, it was fossilized and the size of a grape, but that's not my point.)

We really need health care reform, but I don't think we are going to get it until we have a clear picture of what we have right now. Then we can figure out where the problem is and what we can do to fix it.

But this atmosphere in which the word "compromise" is coupled with "wishy-washy" and "flip-flop" is damn un-American... on everyone's part. To everyone involved, I say: take an aspirin and let's talk about this in the morning.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mark & Jen + 4 million

My husband and I have searched the constitution of SC and discovered that, yes, it is an impeachable offense to refuse to SHUT THE F&%# UP already. Not really, but it ought to be.

I was first asked, "do you know where your governor is?" at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, I said, "of course not and who cares?" Then I found out that he was actually missing. The drama played out and the jokes piled up, but no one really thought that a woman would be involved because: 1) everyone knows Jenny has the money, the looks, the brains, and the political savvy in the family & 2) who would do it with that self-centered ice prince unless she was invested in him?

But no, some Argentine chick is his soul-mate. The shared really nauseating e-mails, which unfortunately we all got to see. (Note to self: erase all e-mails.) He has had "media availabilities" in which he rambles about his boyhood on the plantation with the colored folk singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot the farm, his psyche and his "tragic" love affair. Oh for Pete's sake, Mark, Romeo and Juliet is tragic. Mark and Maria is vaudeville.

And do I feel sorry for the tragic hero? Hell no. I feel sorry for Jenny Sanford who has to listen to the father of her children prattling on about his freaking soul-mate and announce to CNN that he will try to learn to love his wife again. Hey, Jen, I got your back. If you run over him with your SUV, I'm pretty sure you'll get off with a speeding ticket.

But I am really sorry for the 4 million citizens of SC who are damn sick and fed up with hearing the words "South Carolina" on late night talk shows. It's bad enough that this self-centered, arrogantly shabby governor has refused to work even with his own party members in the legislature because he's smarter than all of us. It's bad enough that this trust fund baby tried to refuse stimulus money that this poor state desperately needs. It's bad enough that the failed governor of a small southern state has considered taking his brand of elite arrogance to the White House. Now we are embroiled in an absurd lust triangle and are led by the LUV GUV.

And to make it worse, if he resigns, the Lite Guv takes over, and that can't be good.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Technical/business education vs College Prep

OK, this is a question. I'd like opinions, links to articles, information. I'd prefer good constructive comments, but I'd be thrilled with any comments at all.

Should there be middle/high schools devoted to technical/apprentice type careers, separate from college prep schools? Are we helping kids who will becomes electricians, plumbers, masons, etc. by giving them a curriculum designed as an apprenticeship with business-slanted courses? Or are we shuffling them toward something limited?

My thoughts, which are rambling and incomplete:

Not everyone wants to go to college, but is it necessary to survive? Do even skilled tradespeople need a college degree? Is it elitist to insist that only college prep is valuable? Is it elitist to say that skilled tradespeople don't need to read Shakespeare? Does anyone need to read Shakespeare?

If we do have apprenticeship programs, I think they should be rigorous and include rigorous history, math, English, science, business, and foreign language.

I see contractors and others who are very good at what they do but are confused about the business aspect and get caught up in payroll, business licenses, and tax problems. It would be helpful to teach business stuff to tradespeople.

What is important (relevant?) history, English, science?

Whether a child goes into business after high school or on to college, they need to be able to analyze and make decisions. We need to teach beyond the test.

Enough rambling. Help me out here, please.

Random thoughts on Edumakation

South Carolina's constitution calls for a public education system. The courts and the legislature have interpreted that to mean "minimally adequate," & some days I think that's not being met. For years, SC would entice business with the catchy slogan, "our folk don't know jack, but they work cheap." And the school system taught folk to read enough to read their Bible (sort of), to show up someplace on time, and to sit still until a bell rang.

SC wasn't alone with the factory model of education. Children rode in big yellow buses to little red school houses where they learned to sit still and regurgitate information. Their fathers rode on gray buses to gray buildings to sit in cubicles or on factory lines and regurgitate information. The training was minimally adequate. And it was training.

As the nature of the work changed, workers needed to be more technologically and scientifically aware, and so technology and science was emphasized. Nothing creative --- just enough so they don't break the laser.

Have you seen the e-mails people send around about "The good old days" and what a high school student knew in 1880 or whatever? Those things make me nuts.

What we think of as education --- great works, great discourse, great thoughts --- have always been limited to the elite. Whether they thought the masses were incapable of learning or they thought it would be dangerous to teach them, there was no widespread education. In The Good Old Days, 99% of high school graduates may have been able to read Ulysses in Greek, but then, very few people actually went that far.

Now we want to educate all kids. It's hard, but it isn't impossible. Administrators, teachers, politicians, and parents whine about each other. Teachers are greedy, parents are slack. The politicians don't want people to be smarter than they are which really lowers the bar. Administration hires another consultant for half a million dollars, then cries because they can't afford books.

Everyone is invested in the education system. Everyone has an agenda, and far too often, it's not what is best for the kids.

What is the answer? I don't know. But I'm thinking about it. And this I do know: there is not one answer. People learn in different ways. People relate to different things. People want to do different things and need different skill sets.

Good teachers already know this and act on it. How do we expand this so that it is understandable to a larger population? Should we clone good schools and good teachers? How do we encourage innovation with accountability?

I don't know, but I'm thinking about it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

33 days to go

on my 90 day goals. I am eating better and if walking around Washington DC for three days isn't exercise, what is?

I have just returned from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools national conference. I am feeling energized and excited about quality public education. I am really excited about the choices being offered to students and their parents, all with the goal of excellent education.

I am going to spend some time thinking and talking to people and writing about choices in public education. There are schools which teach all subjects in French, Montessori schools, Core Knowledge schools, legal and law enforcement focus schools, Padeia schools, vocational schools... the possibilities are endless. It's a question of what students and parents want, how students best learn, and how teachers can get the best from ALL students --- no excuses.

Right now, I am going to clean my house, sort my bills & flexible medical account forms, and work on the lessons for the enrolled agent exam.

I still think I may be able to pass all three parts by July 30 (my birthday.)

I am not sure I am going to take pottery classes in July. I may wait until August, when I have more money.

I am eating a rainbow or two a day. I was even able to get some color when we went to DC. I had Mediterranean veggies and rice one day for lunch (yellow, green, orange, maybe blue) and lots of colors with the Ethiopian meal we ate one night. Lots of ubiquitous lettuce and tomato, of course.

It is a furnace in Columbia, of course, but I think I'll throw on my shoes, grab my sweet-cake hubby, and hit the road. Walk ten minutes, turn around and walk home. How hard is that?

But first... one more cup of coffee for the road...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday Focus

I have just returned from a week at the beach and it has occurred to me that 1/3 of my 90 days have passed and I haven't done Jack. In less than 60 days, I'll be 49 years old. At the end of April (on the other blog, I just realized), I set four goals to accomplish by my birthday.

  1. Study for & pass the Enrolled Agent Exam

  2. Take a pottery class

  3. Develop better eating & moving habits

  4. Clean and organize my house

I have done:

  1. Nothing

OK, I am eating at least a rainbow a day, along with a lot of other crap that needs to go. But that's something. I walked on the beach, but walking one week out of the year is not going to cut it. Sure, Forest Acres isn't the beach, but what is? Maybe I should go walk in the swamp. I'll bet the snakes are out.

On the day I discovered, I was so inspired that in a frenzy of cleaning and organizing, I swept my front porch. Yeah, I'm thinking there is more to do, too. I have managed to keep the health inspector satisfied (if she doesn't open the cupboards), but I think my standards should be higher.

I have thought about the enrolled agent exam, but since I have to take all three parts and I don't have any money, it just depresses me.

I am going to take the pottery class... maybe in August instead of July, though. No... I'll take the damn class. I've wanted to do that for 40 years. I won't put it off even a month.

OK, well now I'm going to take my Dad's car back and walk back. Then I'm going to clean the public areas of my house. I have some budgeting issues to take care of today, but maybe I can find the money and the inspiration for the enrolled agent exam.

OK: 54 days to go. Surely I can do this. Maybe.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Goodbye Minimally Adequate Guest Post

Is it a guest post if the guest doesn't know he's posting? I don't

This is written by Jim Rex, the SC Superintendent of Education. Gotta
love him.

"Our state constitution’s language is not unique. At one time or another, 48 of the 50 state constitutions have included a requirement that required them to provide not good schools, just free ones. But some of those states – states who are our competitors for high-skilled and high-paying jobs – have decided to raise the bar for themselves.

Take Florida, whose constitution required “a uniform system of free public schools.” Ten years ago, Florida’s voters amended their state constitution to read this way: “The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to
obtain a high quality education…”

Florida isn’t alone. Virginia and Illinois also set a new state requirement for “high-quality” schools, and Maryland decided to require that its schools be “thorough and efficient.” South Carolina schools, meanwhile, are required to be free and minimally adequate.Fortunately, we no longer have to be saddled with such a self-defeating standard. Senate bill 1136 proposes a constitutional amendment that would require a system of “high-quality” public schools. I think this proposal is worthy of a thorough discussion in the General Assembly.

Will a constitutional amendment solve the deep-seated problems of public education in South Carolina? Of course not. But significant improvements have been made and nationally recognized, and more improvements are on the way. In the meantime, South Carolina needs a constitutional standard that defines our goals and aspirations better than “minimally adequate.” And I believe voters should define that standard, not judges. In Florida, parents, taxpayers and business
people jumped at the chance to strengthen their state’s constitution.

Seventy-one percent of the voters in Florida’s 1998 constitutional
referendum approved the new language that made high-quality public schools a “paramount duty” of the state.

I believe South Carolinians would make just as strong a commitment. Our children deserve it, and our future demands it."

Friday, May 1, 2009

Now that it is Not Tax Season, Fridays are my "day off." I probably shouldn't tell anyone that. I should tell everyone I'm going to work. I should get dressed, drive off, and then come back after everyone is gone and go back to bed. Or not.

This week we have Gabe and Brendon, which makes best laid plans seem like cloudy wisps of outlines of what I might have done if I hadn't had to hold Brendon and Gabe all day.

OK, it wasn't that bad. Brendon is fine in his swing if it's in the kitchen where I am cleaning and blogging. Gabe has some really cool wooden blocks on the kitchen floor. They make a really great noise when he throws them in the cast iron crab pot. And let's face it, I'd rather hold the babies than wash dishes anyway.

So today, I have cleaned a little. And of course, we all took a long nap (not long enough for me, let me tell you.)

This week, I will:

  • clean my room
  • sort clothes
  • sort socks while thinking of Shawn's alternate sock universe
  • move the bird bath to the back and plant some butterfly bushes around it
  • do whatever it is I need to do at work (that's another list)
  • walk at least ONCE
  • eat the angel way at least three days (OK, I'm in restart mode and moving slowly)
  • take the initial steps for a huge fundraising gala for Carolina School for Inquiry in the fall

As always, wish me good luck.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

6th grade at CSI

This is the letter I sent to the Richland One Superintendent. I hope it helps. I talked to the counselor at the school Mark is zoned to, and she seems really cool. I know Mark would do well at Sanders Middle School, mostly because he'd get in the advanced classes. What about kids who won't be in advanced classes? Don't they deserve to be treated with respect, encouraged to explore, taught in the way they learn best? And I really really really hate Accelerated Reader. Really.

The letter:

Dear Dr. Mack,

As a parent and a strong supporter of excellent public education in South
Carolina, I am writing to support the implementation of a sixth grade at
Carolina School for Inquiry public charter school.

My son Mark has been a student at CSI since its inception when he started third
grade. Previously he had attended South Kilbourne elementary and Harmony
School, a multi-aged inquiry based private school. Although he had caring
teachers at both schools, neither of those school situations offered what
Carolina School for Inquiry has given him.

He has blossomed as a learner and as a responsible citizen in a school with a
diverse population and an atmosphere of kindness & respect. Nowhere
else would Mark be able to interact with children of such diverse ethnic,
cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds and be able to learn not only the
designated curriculum but what it means to be a responsible individual and
member of society.

As a board member and frequent visitor to the school, I have seen other children
blossom as well. Carolina School for Inquiry has shown the nay-sayers who
claimed that Inquiry can only be used to teach middle-class children that they
are wrong. Most children learn better when they are respected and expected
to respect others, and when they see themselves as scientists, historians,
readers, writers, and citizens and not as observers.

I want this learning to continue, and I know that Carolina School for Inquiry
can serve a 6th grade population as well as it has the K-5 students.
Please give us the chance to show you and all other people who care about
quality education how well Inquiry can work on the 6th grade level.


Katharine Duffy Thomas
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Carolina School for Inquiry

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Laziest Person on This Earth

I finally quit working at the church, although I'm going back to train one day --- maybe two (payroll). It was only eight hours a week (on top of the 40+ during tax season, & 30 when it's not), and the people are great to work with, the job isn't hard, the love flows as freely as the good humor and support. Still, it was just too much, on top of everything else. I kept thinking that I OUGHT to be able to do this. What's wrong with me? Everyone works harder than I do and they don't complain.

Many years ago, my mother got angry with me about something I didn't do and said I was the laziest person on this Earth. She said that kind of thing to me all the time, I think, but that is the time I remember it. It almost killed me. It didn't, of course, but every time I sit down to read or write or enjoy a sunset, I hear a voice telling me that I am the laziest person in the world and that I have work to do. If I try to do something big, the voice says: You'll give it up before you finish & you'll just let everybody down. Everyone knows I am the laziest person on Earth.

I can usually ignore it, but it always there.

So when I thought of quitting my second job, I felt lazy and useless. I thought that we needed the money, and if I gave up reading and blogging and happy hour and gardening, I could do both jobs. I thought if I wasn't so lazy, I could do it all.

Thank god it didn't take a crisis like a very sick child to snap me out of it. It was just Mark's small voice: "Mom, when can I talk to you?"

And when I say, "Snap me out of it" I know it's just for now. Because, really I am the laziest person on this Earth.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Focus Focus Focus Friday

Today, I am going to do a bunch of nothing or everything. I am going to reconnect with some people I haven't been able to see much during tax season. I am going to buy a dress for my daughter-in-law's sister's wedding. I am buying a belt and shoes for Mark and helping Joseph pick up his suit. (He doesn't know that means he gets to help me pick out my dress.)

I am tying up some lose ends at the church (they found someone to take over! Yeah!) but I won't be spending as much time as I thought I would. I'm going to lunch with my hubby. I am picking up my new glasses. I may go by Verizon to figure out why I've had "no signal" for four days.

And then I will go to happy hour on the deck at my sister's house.

What a nice day.

While I'm running around, I will be thinking about what I need to do this week, this month, this year. For me, the end of tax season is the start of the new year, but without the funny hats and fireworks.

I need to really clean my house. Seriously. I might have to enlist a counselor to help my get rid of stuff. I'd like to have a yard sale because I'm a masochist I want my stuff to have a good home I want money. I'll have to share with my siblings, because some of this stuff came from my parents' house. I donated it to a yard sale for the school, but ended up bringing home more than I brought. It is an illness, I'm sure. Maybe I should ask Lynette to help, because she's OCD and her illness would complement mine. Or maybe it would just end in lots of crying.

I have a cool plan to build a corner office in the "breakfast nook" of my kitchen. Maybe if I get the junk room den cleaned up, I can work down there and make the breakfast nook a breakfast nook. Or maybe not, because even clean the den is dark.

And I need to decide what to do about my career. I had thought it was time to move on, but maybe it's just time to really do it. We've had several people say they want us to help them with their business accounting. We are the counselor/accountants, specializing in small businesses in which somebody opened a business and a year or two later realized he needed to keep records. Don't ask.

I am really good at explaining taxes to people --- personal & business, or at least making it fairly clear what they are paying and how to keep records. Although I am not a "people person," people don't seem to get that. (I also have the same problem with dogs, but dogs are sluts.) So as long as I can build in my quiet time, I think I'm going to have to embrace the "communicator" side of myself. Wish me luck. I also need coagulants, because I tend to get too personally involved in people's problems --- feeling their pain, even if I can't help.

I am going to take the enrolled agent exam. I need to start over, but I feel OK about it. I need a label to help my legitimacy, you know? And God has been taken. A lot.

So was there any focus here? Oh well... when is happy hour?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mark spent his spring break in Washington, DC with his cousins, aunt and grandparents rather than at home with his mother who was suffering from tax-season induced dementia.

He is back and in school, while I'm ready to hang out. I can't wait until school gets out next month so we can take some tours.

One year, my mother was working on a political campaign and couldn't take off for our usual week or two at the beach. Dad decided to take one or two days at a time and take us to historical & other interesting sites around S. C. It may have been 1970 --- the year of the South Carolina Tricentennial celebrations. I remember going to Camden, where they had people dressed up as soldiers and civilians from the American Revolutionary era. I don't remember if there was a reenactment of the battle of Camden, but I think the original battle involved two armies missing each other and a lot of dysentery. I don't remember that stuff any more. I suppose I should look it up. We also went to Kings Mountain, which is a naturally beautiful place. The ghosts of brothers who killed each other in the battles & skirmishes around there aren't as loud as the mockingbirds and the jays, but it's hard to miss them.

I think I'll take Mark, Roslyn, Shayna and anyone else who will fit in my minivan and wants to go to some of these places this year. That would be an accomplishment.

Pass the sunscreen and the bug repellent.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Focus Friday

It will come as no surprise that I am focusing on getting everything done by next Wednesday. Yesterday, I sorted through a whole bunch of problems, and I think they are under control. This morning, I need to tie up the loose ends --- the part I don't like so much. I'm so over these tax returns.

I am trying to get the tying up done quickly, because I have a pile of big returns. AND of course: Easter. Who put Easter the weekend before tax day? What were they thinking?

The latest day Easter can fall is April 25. That would work for me. Then Mark would have spring break AFTER tax season, I could dye eggs & make pineapple upside down cake and do all of the cool Easter things without rushing. I do them anyway, it's just a little last minute. Like the trip to BiLo tomorrow morning to pick up stuff for the Easter Bunny. I hope the Cadbury Eggs aren't all gone.

So this week:

  1. Every freaking detail in the office, like making sure we actually e-filed everyone we were supposed e-file.

  2. Massively large tax returns that look like the final exam in an upper level tax class. Did you know you can't section 179 rental property?

  3. Easter

Mark will be back from his wonderful trip to Washington, DC tomorrow afternoon. We'll dye eggs tomorrow night. Gabe is 20 months old, so he gets his first Easter egg hunt! Woo-hoo!

OK --- back to the taxes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I have spent a whole lot of time whining lately, so I want to tell this story. It's still got the whine, of course. I gotta be me.

Yesterday, while driving from my first job to my second job at 8:00 a.m., and feeling a little blurry-eyed, I saw a garbage truck. I thought, "Oh my god, I don't remember putting the garbage on the street."

And then I realized I didn't remember putting the garbage on the street for a long time now. And yet, it gets there. This is because of my darling much maligned, over-worked, under appreciated, etc. etc. husband. He does it (or gets Joseph to do it) every Friday. Or is it Monday? It's some day and I don't have to know when, because he does. Isn't that fabulous?

Thank you Bob. I love you.

(He won't read this, but oh well.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Focus Friday

I haven't focused in a couple of Fridays, because all I am doing is dancing as fast as I can. Corporate tax returns are due Monday, which wouldn't be so bad if all of the bookkeeping that needed to be done was clean and pretty and READY. And if M2s would balance like they should. I also have to focus on payroll taxes and then sales tax due next week.

I took off a day last week from job one and caught up at job two. Then I told the wonderful people at job two I was in over my head and couldn't do a good enough job for them. They are understanding, and are finding someone else. I know there are accountants who only want to work eight hours a week. A SAHM who needs a break or a person with a part-time job who wants more work. It's a great place...

Since the break and the break-up, I am feeling so much better about everything. I am not able to sit down and think and focus, but I am not thinking that a small bought with the flu would at least give me a rest.

Have a great week!

  • This weekend, I will complete 8 (I think) corporate returns, including a year's worth of bookkeeping in two cases.

  • This week, I will complete my sister's bookkeeping and tax return.

  • I will begin to do individual tax returns again.

  • I will move as much as I can.

  • I will dance as fast as I can and give myself the credit I deserve.

Monday, March 2, 2009

No Snow

I should buy a lottery ticket. There was a 90% chance of snow and we got the 10%. Not even powdered sugar on the lawn. There is some ice in the driveway, but even I wouldn't slip on it. Although the public schools are closed and Bob's work is delayed until 10, it looks like I am going to work. I won't go in early, though. It's too cold. For me, at least.

Mark will have to make up this day during spring break. I guess we'll send him over to his cousin's house today. They can do whatever children do when they have the day off. In their case, it may be write a book or research a compost box (which I've been asking them to do.) They may, on the other hand, watch the Disney channel and look up "cheats" for their games on line.

Me, I'll be doing payroll, bookkeeping, corporate taxes while answering the phone, filing, reassuring clients who don't want to pay taxes, answering "one quick question" on the phones, tracking returns, helping other people in the office, and explaining to my boss why I am not "generating revenue."

A snow day wouldn't have helped my workload, but it sure would have helped my attitude.

Oh well. Get to work.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Things I would do if it snowed & I still had electricity

When we talk about snow in Columbia, SC, we always say, "as long as the power doesn't go out, I'll be OK." I guess most people say that, now that I think of it. In Columbia, we can be "snowed in" by two inches of snow, especially if there is ice. This means we get to stay home. It only happens about once every two or three years, so we try to enjoy it.

Since a snow storm is the only thing that will keep me from going to work on Monday (I thought about a broken leg, but I'd probably have to get a ride & go in anyway), I am planning to use that time well. This is what I'd do if it snowed and we still have electricity.

  • work on the rainbow chili recipe
  • clean my room, which means sorting papers, books, and yarn
  • clean Mark's room, which means sorting the whole families clothes --- most of which should be given away
  • knit and/or crochet
  • read
  • write
  • do things with important papers
  • make Rainbo Gumbo
  • play Risk on a real board with real people
  • make hot chocolate with real dark cocoa and a touch of chili
  • watch Chocolat again
  • use all of my facial products
  • exfoliate my feet
  • exfoliate Bob's feet (if he lets me touch them)
  • read
  • make bread
  • catch up on blogs

I wonder how much I can get done today (Sunday) and tomorrow (the theoretical snow day)? If it lasts til Tuesday, I may actually do something!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Focus Friday... ooooh look at the butterfly... I said Focus!!!!

When I decided to be a Tax Professional, I agreed to give up spring. As I do each year, I am rethinking that decision.

In SC Spring usually comes around April 3. Sometimes late in March. Never as late as May --- that is full on summer. Spring is a lovely day. Maybe it will be on a Sunday this year, and I won't miss it.

SC weather is freaky. I don't think it's unique, but it is my personal pain in the patootie.

Yesterday, I went outside and felt one of those perfect breezes. Not hot or cold. Gentle, like a caress. It had very little scent, but if I had to say anything, I'd say it smelled like a decision. Am I going to be winter or spring today? Since it couldn't decide, it was perfect. The breeze touched a robin and a mockingbird, the neighbor's cats, the bare green azalea bushes... and me. A rare moment.

Today, it is supposed to be in the 70s. I am hoping this is true, since I am wearing a short sleeved blouse. I think it will be sunny. It will pretend to be spring. Some of the flowers will be fooled. My sister's daffodils are already up in full glory. The neighbor's cats will hunt or sun, depending on whatever moves cats.

Sunday or Monday: a cold front moves in. We may have a wintry mix, and this time it may be real. Not the powdering of confectioner's sugar we got in January. A whole day and night (night and day) of snow & ice.

South Carolinians can't deal with snow and ice. We don't have the equipment. We still speak in hushed whispers of the winter of 77, and this time, we aren't talking about the recent unpleasantness between the states. That year (or was it 78?) had TWO ice and snow storms, each lasting over a week.

So when it snows, or even gets cold, we don't know what to do. We run to the store and try to buy gloves and mittens, only to remember they only sell those in August. We hunt through the boxes and find eight or nine stray mittens, none matching. We make the kids wear them anyway.

"Here, Mark, take the odd one, just use one hand in the snowball fight, OK? Fine... give Roslyn the pink one."

We don't have gloves. We have four or five bathing suits (which we buy in January.) Even I have four bathing suits --- all black. But that's not the point. NO GLOVES! Don't even get me started on snow boots. I usually wrap duct tape around my kids old shoes, hoping to cover the worst holes, and send them out. It's not like the snow is going to last more than a day.

this week, I am going to: find gloves.
Buy bread and milk and canned food for the two hours days without electricity.
Find the board games.
Water the plants.
Put the plants outside for spring.
Bring the plants inside for the wintry mix.
Complete 15 corporate tax returns, January's bookkeeping, individual returns, payroll, and a worker's comp audit.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Friday slipped by me

Oh look... it's Sunday.

I mentioned to my boss that I'd put in 50 hours in the past week. He said, "So you should have generated $2500 in revenue." I told him that I'd spent a lot of time on the phone, helping other tax preparers, and chatting with clients. I suggested that he should fire me and hire someone who was more efficient. He rolled his eyes.

I am probably not leaving the house today. I have missed church. I am dressed, but only because my pajamas are in the laundry. I have three books: A lion among men by Gregory Maguire (Wicked), A Mote in God's Eye & The Inferno Two: Escape from Hell both by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

I am celebrating my new broadband by dropping in on all sorts of pretty blogs and playing "Pirates" on Facebook.

Oh yes: the two men who Time-Warner Cable sent to install our cable this time were great. Professional, efficient, fairly quiet (except for the drilling, which is to be expected.) They were subcontractors with Knight Enterprises. Since I trashed the other guy (and I don't know what his subcontracting firm was), I think I should be fair and say that this was a much better experience. I wonder if I can request Knight Enterprises any time I have trouble with TWC?

To attempt a Focus Friday, on Sunday:

  • Today I am going to do my sister's bookkeeping and tax return.
  • I watered the plants, and I think the repotting can wait.
  • I really want to start some seeds, but I'm not going to push it.
  • I'm going to hug my husband, my sons, my daughter-in-law, and my grandchildren.
Have a great week!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Focus Friday already?

OK, this is what I did. Nothing. Not nothing like eating bon-bons and catching up on Days of Our Lives. Nothing, like tax returns, payroll, payroll tax reports, bookkeeping, research, and other nothing. Nothing on my list except :::drum roll please::: finish the church's year end and January reports.

So this week's list: see February 6th below.

And what's really sad, although I still haven't repotted the plants, (which I think are called Pothos or something even if mine should be called Pathos) they are NOT DEAD YET. Even though one of the cats grabbed one and dragged it, dry pathetic soil and all, half way across the living room. Even though Mark just grabbed it and stuck it back in it's pot. Good grief.

OK, so the plants are a priority.

See ya next week!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday morning

I have made a lovely grocery list, and hope to hit the Piggly Wiggly before the Baptists get there. I did not go to work at the church yesterday, so I will do it today. Right now, I'd better get dressed and go. I hope to have more time for writing later today. I ought to say hello to my family, I guess. I wonder if they miss me?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Focus Friday Part deux: Revenge of the big plans

Focus Friday

OK: This is what I said I would do:
  • Sort papers, especially the health/insurance papers.
  • Complete Ellen's bookkeeping
  • Either find someone to fix the stove top or buy a new oven.

This is what I did:

  • I mostly sorted the papers, but didn't do what I needed with the insurance stuff.
  • I did important bookkeeping like W-2s... but crap, I think I forgot to write a payroll check. People get touchy about that stuff...
  • Bob & I searched high and Lowe's and found a great stove. It's glass top, but this time the top is sort of grey so it will be easier to clean. The oven heating element is under a plate so that when stuff spills it won't burn on the the element. I am pretty excited about that one. Last I heard, it was installed and ready to go.


  • I will finish the insurance stuff.
  • Repot my plants. It's not everyone who can kill one of those ivy-like plants you find in restaurants. I forget what the plant is called, but mine are sad. My African Violets aren't too happy either. New pots!
  • Finish Ellen's year end bookkeeping.
  • Finish the church's year end & January reports.
  • Write e-mail to T. & V. about meeting with parents about CSI.
  • Look at M.'s PowerPoint on the school & comment.

On another note, and another blog, I'm starting the Angel Way of Eating on Monday (since I have a stove) and I want to spend some time thinking about what food I like and what I can easily prepare, while still getting all colors, including white.

Sadly, most of this stuff needs to be done this weekend if it is going to be done at all. And this weekend looks like:


9-1 work at main job

1-2 transport & lunch

2-5 work at church


10:30 church

11:45 grocery shop (I've been told you need to get there a little before noon to beat the Baptists)

12:45 possibly work at church OR home time

3:00 Cataclysm class (as Bob calls it.)

Monday, February 2, 2009


Sometimes weekends are made for nothing. Doing nothing. And that is pretty much what I did this weekend... such as it was.

I worked Saturday morning from 9 to 12. I was supposed to go to the eye doctor, but when I got there... no doctor. An apologetic woman who had nothing to do with the situation said the doctor wasn't there today. It was nice of her to apologize, but of course, I wasn't mad at her. I looked at glasses and found a pair that can be tied into a knot and still won't break. AND they don't make me look like Sarah Palin, John Lennon, or Mr. Magoo. So if I can find the doctor in, I will get new glasses.

Saturday afternoon, I decided to lie down a bit before: cleaning the house, sorting the papers, buying a stove, going to church to do bookkeeping, doing my sister's bookkeeping. I end up reading Living with the Dead, by Kelley Armstrong. I love her Women of the Otherworld series. I buy them when they are still in hardback, so you can see I'm serious about this.

So... other than a good book and a little alone time with my darling husband, Saturday afternoon was NOT productive.

Sunday, I had BIG PLANS. Instead, I didn't leave the house, except to take the trash out. I cleaned a little, finished the book, played with the grandbabies (who had spent the night), and sorted my files. I still didn't find the main thing I was looking for, but I found other important things, so that is good. I'm also still looking for a bag with Christmas presents I misplaced...

And now it is Monday, I have to work at the church tonight and tomorrow morning. I am here in the country until 6 p.m. I am VERY BUSY and not complaining, since that's where the money is.

Tomorrow night, Bob & I will go stove shopping. If I finish my sister's bookkeeping too, that will be two down on the to-do list. I forgot the third thing... oh yeah. Papers. I'm half-way done on that one. I think I'll get some exercise by patting myself on the back.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Focus Friday

Focus Friday

This is something from Thrifty & Chic Mom. She encourages folks to focus on something(s) to accomplish in the next week, then check back in with her on Friday. Pretty cool, sort of like a weight watchers weigh-in, only, it is to be hoped, less humiliating.

I heard about it through Yaya, who also has a cool blog.

This fits in with my whole intentions (paving a three lane highway to my own personal Hell right now), posty notes and plans. So here I go.

At work, I've been making a list of what I wish to accomplish each week. This is supplemented by the tax returns, client crises, and daily research projects my boss likes to give me. It has worked so well that I've kept each week's to-do list so I can see what I have really gotten done.

At home, it's posty notes and letters on the fridge. Not quite as successful, but that is probably because I am at work 50+ hours a week and at home... not so much. Maybe I should put the posty notes on my pillow.

OK: THIS is what I need to do at home this week:

  1. Sort papers, especially the health/insurance papers.
  2. Complete Ellen's bookkeeping
  3. Either find someone to fix the stovetop or buy a new oven.

Did you know that the glass top of a stove will shatter if you drop a pan on it? And did you know that it costs almost as much to fix it as it would to buy a (cheaper) range? And did you know that some repair people won't work on Frigidaire?

Now, I'll write my list on posty notes and get to it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

writers and witches, and words...oh my!: announcing...

In other news:

A really interesting give-away. I plan to win, but go ahead and try. LOL

Go to this blog:

writers and witches, and words...oh my!: announcing...

Comment and be entered in a contest to win 13 things that will help you get through winter.

The Posty-Note Way of Life

OK, it's like three weeks into the new year and I'm still working on the good intentions thing. Actually, my system has worked well at work, where I have made a list of what I want to accomplish each week. I am saving the crossed-off lists because it makes me feel good. For one brief shining moment, there was: a done to-do list.

I realized that I had expressed some serious intentions, but then I sort of forgot about them. I had things to do, you know? So now, I know that I need to express the intention AND keep it up front. Not in my mind... there is no room there. Lists work at work, where I have a desk and a calendar. For my home/self/others intentions, I need... TA DA: Posty Notes!

I love Posty-Notes. They are small, so the list can't be too long. They are mobile, so you can stick one in the car (for instance) that says "stop by the post office." They are multi-colored, so they look pretty.

The trick (or one of them) is to throw away a done Posty. There is nothing worse than finding an undated Posty that says: "call Ted." Who is Ted and why was I supposed to call him? So now, I either file them or throw them away.

So these are my intentions for this week:
1) Eat mindfully. Remember Annie's Angel Way and eat protein (white) and a rainbow (or two) a day.
2) Pass it. Remember that I am not responsible for the whole world. It is not a sin or sign of weakness to say, "That is not my problem, that is not for me to solve."
3) Express love and appreciation. Always.
4) Walk. Walk. Walk.

I will put these on Posty Notes so that I will think of them through out the day. My family will ridicule me, but I'm used to that. They do it with love.

Monday, January 5, 2009

On Monday

I am thinking I am not good at intentions or goals or resolutions. Is there some sort of Loki/Coyote/Mercury god screwing around with all of my good intentions?

I had disturbing dreams all night. I dreamed my mother was alive, that there had been a mistake. I vaguely wondered how the cremation thing played into that, but I've been having these dreams the last two years, so I'm sort of used to them now. When I get them, it starts a series of struggle dreams. In this case, I was at a convention on the last day. I had to pack up the hotel room, but no one would move. I ended up trying to fix dinner for a bunch of people, including Bill and Hillary Clinton (Mom almost always brings them with her in my dreams.) There was strange food, like birthday cake and rainbow sherbet. Everyone kept going swimming. It was like herding cats.

I woke up when Bob came to bed and said (or thought I said), "I'm having crappy dreams, I'm glad you are here." I went back to sleep to more crappy dreams. In the morning, instead of feeling grateful to Bob for his warm presence, I was pissed off at him. I'm not sure why --- dream thing.

So, I go to my first job & it's OK. I get a lot done, which is good because there is a lot to do. I move on to my second job. Although I have a low-grade headache, I am feeling OK. I clean my desk and the space around it, which makes my boss happy. Then, I get yelled at by the employee of a client who is mad because I garnished her wages like the State of SC told me to. I politely (I swear, no eye rolling) told her I did what the letter said, and that I'd gotten an update on the amount. If there is a problem, she needs to call SCDOR. Another employee (a manager sort of) calls me. Between the two of them, they are in a tornado of a tizzy, and I am getting an earful. I am not amused. I am breathing deeply and thinking kind and patient thoughts. I am about to explode from an adrenaline rush that won't go anywhere, because I am a kind, patient, polite person. So when I get off the phone, I call my boss and threaten to quit. Then I calm down and he promises to back me up on the "no employees calling to bitch at Kathy" rule. I get through the day.

I go back to my other job and have another adrenaline rush when I find out I don't have the software to run payroll. Then I find out that it isn't ready, but they have a patch to download. It really isn't a crisis. So here I am with all of this extra adrenaline.

If I weren't sitting in my pajamas with an adrenaline headache, eating stale Breyer's coffee ice cream, I might go run around the block. Instead, I'm marveling at the fact that Breyers can get stale in my house. And I'm thinking I'm going to take a shower and go to bed. And hope for some help with my intentions for tomorrow.

But if it were easy, we'd all do it, right?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It's not stealing if you footnote

I am taking ideas from Annie & Kim, and probably others I can't think of right now. Instead of writing goals (which worked out really well last year, huh?) or resolutions, I am writing out my Intentions for this week. I wrote some monthly goals on The Amortization of Goodwill, but I think I may need to take even that down a notch.

This week, I plan to walk at least one day. I will wear the cheap pedometer and try to reach 10,000 steps a day, even if I don't walk-walk. You know?

I will eat a good breakfast every day. I'm thinking peanut butter on whole wheat English muffins with a banana and low-salt V-8. Yum-yum.

I will make a list of things to do at work on Monday morning. No need to bore any of us with that right now.

I will be kind & patient, even if it kills me. No seriously. Practice breathing. Breath, don't sigh, don't roll the eyes.

I will read stuff that isn't so much fun as informative. The Board book & some stuff about middle schools & maybe a tax magazine. The good stuff.

I think that's enough. No wait: I'll wash dishes every day and not leave them in the sink.

That is definitely enough.

Friday, January 2, 2009



As part of the blog-link thing, I'm pointing you to this blog, which is pretty cool. Also I get points in the give-away. Chocolate is involved.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

I am starting the year by preparing a traditional New Year's meal: roasted pork loin, hoppin' john, collards, and corn bread. The tradition has it that the hoppin' john (black eyed peas & rice) brings luck, the collards bring money, and the pork brings health. I've been hearing people say that pork is for "progress," but considering the large amount of pork eaten in SC compared to anything that can be called progressive, and I have to say, no. Health is ironic enough.

I don't make the collards like most people around here do. I don't throw in a slab of fat back and cook it until it looks like the lizard the cat puked up. If that's how you like collards, go for it. I cook some bacon, then saute the chopped collards in the grease. I add nutmeg and ginger and the crumbled bacon. (I put some of the bacon in the hoppin' john, though.) When it's wilted, I add some water, put on a lid and cook it until it's ready. For the family members who like the puked up lizard thing, I put some in another pot and boil the heck out of it. Collards are tougher than spinach, so you do have to cook them longer. Just not too long.

Hoppin' John is black eyed peas and rice, which can be pretty bland. I spice that up too, with onions, cumin, red pepper, & chili powder. If I had celery and green peppers, I'd add them too. However, the trip to the Food Lion last night after work was enough for now.

I make pork loin roast about twice a year, and it's pretty good, if I do say so myself. (Someone has to.) I marinate it in Paul Newman's oil and vinegar dressing (whatever I like at the time.) I cook it until it is NOT pink but not dry. It's hard to hit the exact time on that. I know that some chefs are saying a little pink is OK, trichinosis is not a threat anymore, but I don't buy that. Pork is the other WHITE meat, not the pink meat that makes you sick.

Other than eating, we'll sit around and watch the Gamecocks get their butts kicked, I mean win a bowl game. We'll play Risk, and take over the world by force, or maybe World Monopoly and just buy the world with debit cards.

And then with luck, health, and money in our future, we'll face the new year.