Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bulk Mail...Duuuuuhhhhhh!

I've had the pleasure of doing a variety of things with my job. This summer I had the opportunity to reapply our organization for a non profit bulk mail permit. I collected the requested materials and submitted them at the appropriate center. The manager had some questions about our aka in our organization name - but I was confident things would be fine.

While I patiently awaited the renewal of our permit, I had to get a bulk mailing out. I was told this could be done while I was waiting from NY for the renewal, and after the renewal I would receive a reimbursement for extra cost. No problem.

I scoured the usps website to make sure I did this correctly. I wanted to have the letters all sorted properly. After two full work days of getting the mailing ready to take to the bulk mail center (and breaking some kind of child labor law where my 8 year old was concerned - but she is a really good folder and really good at putting on stickers), I proceeded to the mail center. The very nice lady called NY to check on my permit. The paperwork was nowhere to be found - so we faxed a copy to them again. I could still do a mailing. I had actually sorted too thoroughly and had to correct that. And then I had to put non-adhesive stamps on 310 newsletters. And then we had to figure out more paperwork and have me write a check (no debit or credit cards at that center). After 2 hours, I was able to leave and confident the mailing would be sent out that day.

I finally received confirmation from NY that the permit was reinstated. I had another mailing to do this week. With some help, I only wasted one work day. I then gathered everything together to head to the bulk mail center. I was only there 1 hour this time (cut my time in half!). We are still working on the paperwork for reimbursement from the last mailing, still need to get a rubber stamp with the permit number, and still need to make sure I can fill out the paper work correctly. The patient man was very helpful, but I know he thought I was an idiot. I had to use a calculator to multiply exactly the number of pieces for one zip code by a certain decimal a few times. Then I was supposed to subtract 11.01 from 23.56 - I continued to use the calculator and heard some snickers from the helpful postal worker.

I wanted (but did not) to say, "I am really not an idiot. I actually have a masters from a very good school. Granted, one where lacrosse players should never be allowed to have parties - but where I got a good education. I handle all my family finances. I have sat on boards and organizations. I really do have common sense. And you have to understand I have been putting in 70 hour weeks the past month - it's the nature of my job right now."

So when my hour was up, I left with a big weight off my shoulders (at least for the next two months). I also left wondering when I had encountered something that made me feel like such an idiot. Now, if I didn't have an accountant come April, there might be competition.

Thank goodness for the government which keeps us humble.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The IRS gets it right

Yes, you read the title correctly. I know there are a number of us who would think that statement could rarely be true - but an instance occurred last week which encouraged me to write this post.

It has been a tradition for some time that celebrities at the Oscars receive gift bags. In recent years, the bags have become multi-million dollar bonuses - the latest gadgets, vacations, jewelry, and even diamond studded underwear (really). Like any of these wealthy people need these things? As if they could not afford 225,000 of these items if they wanted? I realize that companies want to have a celebrity photographed using one of the said items since people tend to want to buy articles used by celebrities. (However, I have a hard time imagining wearing a size 0 jewel embellished thong.) I've been even more disgusted to hear celebrities talk about how they really look forward to all the free goodies.

Thank goodness there have always been some people with sense - like George Clooney - who would promptly give the bag to charity (to be used, to be auctioned for the money, whatever).

And now the IRS has finally caught on to the free bonuses - they announced last week the gift bags would be taxed. I hope most of the people impacted have enough sense not to be upset by this - and maybe even more will give the bags directly to be auctioned for charity. Better yet, maybe the companies will stop the practice and use those funds for charitable donations themselves.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Here is a meme from Edgy Mama. I can't resist anything to do with books.

One book that changed your life?
The Once and Future King by T.H. White - it helped shape my personal philosophy in a major way

One book that you read more than once?
Quite a few would fit this category, but the hands-down winner is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I must be somewhere in the 30s.

One book you would want on a desert island?
The Bible - it has so much variety (mystery, love, betrayal, poetry, friendship, humor, mysticism, etc.) that it would keep me busy for a while; plus, there is the added bonus of the hope it could provide when stranded on a desert island

One book that made you laugh?
Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

One book that made you cry?
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling; I cried in the movie too when poor Cedric met his untimely death

One book you wish you had written?
A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle

One book you wish had never been written?
The Left Behind series

One book you are currently reading?
Twelve Sharp: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich (and yes, I have read all 12 Plum novels in the last 3 and 1/2 weeks)

One book you keep meaning to read?
After Virtue by Alistair McIntyre (one of those theology books I read for professional enlightenment)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Say What?

When I was about 3 or 4 years old, we would be visited by my aunt and uncle and 5 older cousins about once or twice a year. I was wise enough to hide my toys before they came - I knew older kids brought destruction with them. I also knew the visits (while I loved my extended family and looked forward to seeing them) would bring nonsense sayings as well. The most beloved was, "Hooey on Amy." Hooey on Amy? What was that supposed to mean? And why say it to a 3 or 4 year old? Yes, it annoyed me - to the point that I threatened to call the army and have them arrest my uncle.

Some talents - like a talent for nonsense sayings - never cease. Witness the latest saying from 12 year old Sonny Boy, having just returned from a visit with said great uncle. "What in the ham fat is that?" If I've heard it once today, I've heard it a million times.

Of course, Sonny Boy has spent the last few months finding various ways to say, "I've got some beans in my pocket, yo-de-a, yo-de-a," so I should thank my uncle for the change.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dear Mr. Squirrel and family

Dear Mr. Squirrel and family,
I hope you are enjoying your summer. I am glad you have survived my kittie huntress. I'm sure you've seen the bunnies and birds she has terrorized and left for me as a present in front of our door. I am unsure if she likes squirrels or not. Perhaps you and your family are just too fast for her. Nonetheless, I am happy for you that she has left you alone.
I know you have noticed something new in the yard this year. Princess and I have a long standing tradition. Each summer, we plant giant sunflowers - and lots of them. My great-grandmother always used to have giant sunflowers in her garden. Sunflowers are my favorite flower. (Hubby, please take note.) Princess and I love to plant the seeds, water the seedlings and then gently plant them in the ground. It's fun to guess how long it will take before they are taller than she, and then how much longer before I'm in their shadow. One thing about our new house that we like is that the soil is great for growing giant sunflowers. They have grown like never before.
Yet, we noticed something unusual lately. The giant sunflowers are starting to droop - some even to the point of breaking. I didn't understand. How could that be happening? And then I saw you and your family. I had no idea squirrels could climb up a giant sunflower, all the way to the top, and then bend it over dramatically, while you eat the sunflower seeds. It looks like quite a feat. Of course, now most of our beautiful flowers are bent to the ground.
I have just one thing to tell you Mr. Squirrel. If you and your buddies keep this up, I will help the huntress kittie hunt you down and leave your body parts on my front porch where she always leaves her best prizes.
My best wishes for you and your family and friends for the rest of the summer and fall.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Blogging 4 Books entry

Here is my entry for this month's B4B.

Summer of 1979 - I find myself gazing at the mountains, hardly aware of the breeze, as my book drops onto the porch swing. "Wow... That Jane Austen is really something. She must have known someone like Mr. Darcy. When I start dating, that's the kind of man I want." I subsequently read everything by Austen while my friends think I'm a weird egghead.

Summer of 1983 - I'm at Nerd Camp with nerds from all over North Carolina. I encounter a quite tall, lanky, dark-haired young man - no one's idea of a nerd. Mr. Darcy as a 16 year old? It's luuuvvvvv. When camp ends, I console myself with the fictional version once again. My friends tell me I should think more about Jon Bon Jovi and forget the made up guy in the funny clothes.

Summer of 1988 - I'm in love. He's a little short to be Darcy and a little too talkative and gets along with far too many people and doesn't have any money - BUT, Darcy is fiction anyway. I spend the next 18 years with days, and sometimes weeks, banging my head against the wall and muttering, "Austen knew. Austen knew."

Summer of 1996 - I'm in love. BBC knows Austen. Colin Firth is SOOO Darcy. Wonder if he's married and wonder how Hubby's cholestoral is doing.

Summer of 2005 - Phone rings. I'm reading P & P again (38th reading?) while watching the BBC miniseries (21st viewing?). I ignore the phone, but Hubby hands it to me. "It's Beth. She wants to talk to you."

"Hey Amy! We sure miss you up here, but I bet you like your new home. Andy says it's great. Are you enjoying it?"

"Uhhh - yeah," as I scan the room. It's too dark to see much but the tv and a few words on my page.

"You aren't fantasizing about Darcy again are you? You have a wonderful husband, two healthy and smart kids, lots of friends, a great new job and home. Step into reality."

"I just need a little fix!"

"Turn off the tv and go take a walk with your kids."


"Okay - tomorrow. But then the book and the dvd do not come back out until the first snow day. Right?"

"Right....." I mumble some more words, hang up, yell at the kids to hush so I can see Darcy direct his intense stare at Elizabeth, and sigh with contentment. Better than chocolate even.