Thursday, March 31, 2011

The unveiling

I have removed that damn bandage.  It was driving me insane.  I can, at last, use all my fingers to type again, but it is still pretty painful, especially the bending and stretching part to reach all the keys.  So here's, what my hand looks like, keeping in mind it has healed significantly in the last ten days.


There's a fairly deep puncture wound on the ring finger, between the ring finger and the pinkie and there are several smaller punctures and tears on the side of the pinkie that don't show in the pictures.  Of course, the most serious bites were right in all the bendy places, making it so much more fun.

The lesson to be learned, and I hope I have learned it well, is don't put your hand in a dog's mouth.  First Tim and Ann's dog, Buddy, got me.  Then my own baby got me.  Please don't let me make that awful third strike!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Well, it was a good idea, but....

Seems individual bandages are not gonna work on this stupid left hand.  The placement of the punctures and tears are such that covering one with an individual bandage requires covering another with the adhesive part.  That will never work because I'd have to kill someone before I would let them rip that adhesive off one of these wounds.  Apparently, I am stuck with one bandage wrapped completely around my hand and making it extremely painful and problematic to type.  With any luck, by next week I should be able to go bandage free and be back typing like the madwoman I am.

Thank God, the first thing I did after I stuck my hand in frigid cold water was remove my wedding rings.  The worst bites are on my ring finger and the knuckle at the base of my ring finger.  If I hadn't removed them immediately, they would have had to have been cut off.  I think that would have upset me more than being bitten.

Still taking pain meds.  Who'da thunk it would take over a week for the pain to let up?  But, still no infection, so healing is progressing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


My hand is much better, but still too wrapped to make typing easy.  It is many beautiful colors from purple and red to yellow and green.  Lots of bruising along with the slashes and gashes.  But it is healing, and there is no infection, so I am happy with the progress.  I can get it wet now.  For the first week I had to keep it dry.  Have you ever tried to wash your hair with only one hand?  It's not easy, and I have A LOT OF HAIR.  Thankfully, I can use both hands now as long as I'm careful.  The major league oral antibiotic (AMOX TR-K CLV 875-125 MG TAB) has presented me with the normal side effects -- a queasy stomach.  So what else is new?  Well, how about that wonderful vaginal yeast infection. So I've added yogurt and Diflucan to my health regimen.  And so once again my world is made better through chemistry.

Actually, the only reason I'm trying to post today is that I have discovered a new and disturbing trend -- Vajazzle.  Apparently, this is something Jennifer Love Hewitt started and it's spreading like wildfire; at least among those with lots of disposable income and little to no modesty.  Well, I guess a flat stomach should also be considered a requirement, but somehow I doubt that obesity will stop some people from jumping on this particular bandwagon.  What is Vajazzle, you ask?  Jewelry for your vagina.  No, this is not a joke.  Yes, people are actually spending money to dress up their hootchie.  Here's a "how to" video to get you started:  

Here are a few more design choices for those of you having difficulty deciding how daring you should go Rate My Vajazzle

Now remember, you MUST use Swarovski Crystals -- none of those cheap, imitation stones for your playground.  Thank God I'm too old for this stuff.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Some things take a loooooooong time

I still do not have much use of my left hand.  It is healing nicely, and so far no infections.  However, since it wasn't stitched it requires more care to keep it from breaking open again and bleeding all over creation, so I can't use it much yet.  I see the doctor again this afternoon and I'm hoping to have smaller and individual bandages rather than one great big thingy that envelopes my entire hand.

The situation with the dogs is, at least for the time being, under control.  As soon as I have the ability to type with both hands again, I will attempt to explain what has been going on.  One good side effect, I have taken so much pain medication for the bites, I have hardly noticed the headaches caused by the bad weather.  Both days of the weekend were dreary and gray, but I was pretty much oblivious to all pain thanx to the pain meds.  Today, it SNOWED.  All the trees are in bloom.  The azaleas are very close to opening. And it snows.  Stupid weather.  Well, it's been too warm for it to stick, and it was just big ol' wet flakes, but still after 80º F weather last week, we sure didn't need snow this week.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dog fights, dog bites

It's a long and painful and sad story, and I don't know yet how it will turn out.  We have a dog crisis at our home. and, of course, I'm the one whose hand got mangled.  I have to get to a doctor first thing today, and Lord only knows when it'll all sort itself out, but I'll get back to you as soon as I can.  I am not in danger of losing any vital parts, so please don't worry.  I'll fill in details when I can.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How do you tell when you've caught something else?

I haven't posted lately because I've been sick.  I seem to have come down with one of those 24 hour stomach virus thingies that last two or three or more days.  That's what I get for going out in public I guess.  I spend most of my days sequestered at home, so I'm not exposed to any of the normal germs and viruses the rest of you meet on a daily basis.  That means, when I actually get introduced to one, it becomes my worst enemy for a bit.  At first, I thought I was just being more nauseated than normal, since I consider nausea to be a normal state of affairs.  But when I couldn't keep down a banana, I started to think I might have a more serious problem.  Then came the fun part -- and we all know why it's called the runs.  I don't run so well.  It's been an interesting few days.  So far today I have managed to consume one banana and a dozen peanut butter Saltine crackers.  And so far today, I've been able to keep that little bit of food.  I feel as if I've been run over by the world's largest steamroller.

I hope to be back in business by Monday.  It takes me a lot longer to recover these days, and we're supposed to be going out again tomorrow night.  I hope I don't run into any more stray germs floating around.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saturday date

Yesterday started out unlike a typical Saturday.  As far as I knew we didn't have any plans to go anywhere.  This is unusual because Bud is a party looking for a place to happen and so he keeps our social calendar pretty well booked up months in advance.  Though I'd been stuck in the house all week, there really wasn't anything unusual about that, and all in all it had been a pretty good week.  I got up Saturday with a full complement of spoons, it was sunny and going to be pleasantly warm (60º to 70º F).  It is definitely spring here in North Carolina; the daffodils and forsythia are in bloom and many of the flowering trees have started to show off their glorious colors.  The azaleas aren't far off and the lilacs right outside my front door are starting to create flower clusters.

We sat around for a bit in the morning, drinking our coffees with Irish cream and fooling around on our respective computers.  Then I took a shower and when I got out, started to dress in the same old junkie clothes I typically wear around the house when I'm not going anywhere.  Bud was getting dressed too.  He was going to run to the vets to get heartworm pills for the dogs and make an appointment for their annual physicals.  Yes, we take all four dogs to the vet at the same time.  It is a ginormous pain, but it also gets the whole thing out of the way all at once so Bud doesn't have a scheduling nightmare with multiple trips to the vet.  The only other necessity is to get Bailey shaved before the hot weather sets in and Bud can drop her off at 7:00 am and pick her up after work.  But, Bud told me when he got back from the vet's, he planned to take me out, just to give me an opportunity to get out of the house for awhile.  How can you not love this man?  I immediately revised my attire to accommodate the outside world and waited for his return.

A half hour later he was back and we were ready to go.  Now I know most of you don't get excited about a simple little drive into town for lunch and some shopping, but believe me it is truly a treat for me.  First stop was Olive Garden.  Our niece, Kalyn Masek, has worked at Olive Garden in Westminster, Maryland for a few years.  She's in nursing school now so I'm not sure if she is still working there, but she gave us a gift card for Olive Garden at Christmas.  We had a great lunch.  They make some really scrumptious meals, and we always enjoy sharing.  Bud got Shrimp and Crab Tortelli Romana -- Shrimp, crab and smoked mozzarella-filled ravioli, topped with sautéed shrimp in a three cheese and sun-dried tomato sauce.  Absolute heaven.  My three favorite foods in the whole world are seafood, cheese and pasta.  When the waiter came with the cheese grater and asked if we wanted grated cheese over the salads and the meals, the answer was, of course, YES!!  I told him he could put cheese on dirt and I would eat it.  He looked at me as if I might be a little odd, so he quickly grated the cheese and walked away.  I had Pear and Gorgonzola Ravioli with Shrimp -- Pear, mascarpone and gorgonzola cheese-filled ravioli with shrimp, tossed in a creamy parmesan sauce drizzled in a balsamic glaze.  Are you seeing the pattern here? More seafood, cheese and pasta.  We had planned to have dessert because they had a delicious Warm Apple Crostata -- Sliced apples, rich vanilla cream and caramelized almond biscotti crumble baked atop a shortbread cookie crust, served warm with vanilla ice cream.  But, alas, we had no room for dessert.

After our delightful lunch, Bud took me shopping at the Big and Tall Men's Store.  This is the perfect place to take me shopping, because I don't have to do anything.  I hate shopping.  But, if all I have to do is stand/sit around while someone else shops I don't mind it so much.  He was in desperate need of new pants for work.  Our charming dog Abby, went through a period where she decided to eat pants.  If she found a pair of pants that was within reach of her little alligator-like mouth, that was the end of those pants.  Of course, she didn't attempt this while you were wearing them, but you had to be very careful where you put your pants if you didn't have them on.  She only got one pair of my shorts, but she tore up more than a few pair of Bud's work pants.  He was down to only four pairs of pants and two pair of jeans.  Since he can only wear jeans on casual Friday, that meant he had only enough pants to make it through the week.  That was assuming I had enough spoons sometime during the week to run a load of laundry that included his work pants.  Since I have no guarantee from one day to the next how many spoons I'm gonna have, counting on me getting the laundry done is risky business.  So now he has enough pants to last two weeks, if necessary, as long as we can keep Abby away from them.  Surely I will be able to find enough spoons over a two-week span to be able to run at least one load of laundry.

After the Big and Tall store we went to a local nursery so Bud could buy peat pots.  I don't know why we go through this every year, but he is really pig-headed about some things.   He plans to start some plants.  As near as I can tell, that's all he'll do is start them.  Sometimes they die in the starter pots, and he starts over again.  Sometimes they actually make it to being planted in the ground.  But invariable, year after year, that's as far as they go and we never see a harvest.  However, I can indulge his little fantasy as the peat pots really don't cost much.

On the way home we stopped by the ABC store to pick up another bottle of Irish cream.  We go through about one bottle a week since we both have at least two cups of coffee with Irish cream on Saturday and Sunday.  It's just one of the little pleasures I allow myself now that I don't have a lot of opportunities to indulge myself.  By the time we got home, though I hadn't actually done much more than walk, ride and eat, I was running low on spoons.  And, as almost always, a little nap helped give me back a spoon or two to get through the rest of the day.

I had a great Saturday.  I'm really glad Bud takes care of me the way he does.  But speaking of spoons, he must have run out of them too by the time he went to bed last night.  I know we had an hour less overnight last night, but it was quarter to eleven before Bud got up this morning.  That is so unusual, I actually checked on him three times to make sure he was still breathing.   I guess he needed to catch up on some rest too.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Which are you -- Cheech or Chong?

This post is going to tell two funny (well, I thought they were funny when they happened) stories from a part of my misspent youth.  Actually I wasn't so young.  I was in my late 20's or early 30's, but I was a latecomer to the world of recreational substances.  I began smoking cigarettes (really, really dumb idea) at the age of 13, and started drinking beer around the age of 17.  But, alcohol remained my only mind altering substance until I was almost 30 years old.  Before I begin, I must state unequivocally that I do not advocate the use of illegal substances.  I certainly am not a proponent of drug use among teenagers.  As adults, I would hope you have enough sense to know what you can and can't and should and shouldn't do.  As adults, I believe you should make your own choice.  As a teenager I believe the answer should be NO!  Many of my friends began using pot, and in some cases other substances, when they were teens (hey, it was the 1960's).  They don't seem to be any worse for the wear, but I still think it is far better to wave adieu to adolescence before you start thinking about screwing your head up even more. So here's how these stories go, oh and all names have been changed to protect the innocent, the guilty and all parties in between ....

I lived in a small town just north of Baltimore named Bel Air.  My friend, Mike, also lived in Bel Air.  Mike was originally from somewhere in the south.  He had lived in Bel Air for almost a year, but had never bothered to get a Maryland drivers' license or get Maryland plates for his car.  One night about 11:30 pm, Mike and I and a few friends decided we desperately needed some Irish Coffee and baklava from a little restaurant/pub in downtown (I use that term very loosely) Bel Air.  We had all been at Mike's house for a few hours, and there had been a few joints passed around prior to this earth-shattering case of the munchies.  So we all piled into Mike's car for the drive to the Red Fox.  We had made this trek numerous times in the past, and Mike having lived in Bel Air for most of the last year was well acquainted with the roads necessary to get us there and back.  While we were on the way to the Red Fox, we, of course, lit up two or three more joints (there were five or six of us in the car).  It was winter.  The windows were all closed.  The inside of the car soon took on the appearance of a London fog and reeked of marijuana.  Mike, in one of his less intelligent moves, decided to take a short cut to the Red Fox and turned the wrong way down a one-way street.  Yes, he knew it was one-way.  Yes, he knew he was going the wrong way.  But he reasoned that since it was a short street, and obviously no one was coming from the other direction, he'd just slide down the street really quickly and cut oh, about an eighth of a mile off the trip.  However, no sooner than Mike turned onto the street going the wrong direction when a local constable turned on the flashing lights and siren to pull our car over.  This was definitely gonna be trouble.  If we opened a window or door, it surely would seem as if the inside of the car was on fire from all the smoke that would have poured out.  If a policeman got anywhere near that car, we were all going to jail.  Fortunately, this was in the mid-1970's, when policemen didn't have to worry that every car stopped contained someone who might shoot them.  So, Mike opened the driver's door and jumped out of the car very quickly.  There must have been a gigantic plume of smoke that exited the car when he did, but apparently the officer was looking elsewhere because it seems he didn't notice.  Mike, ran back to the squad car and approached the officer behind the wheel.  The office rolled down his window (something we certainly were not going to do while he was sitting back there) and Mike asked him what the problem was.  The officer explained that Mike was going the wrong way down a one-way street.  In an academy award winning performance, Mike (exaggerating his normal southern accent only slightly) explained that he had just moved to the area and was unaware the street was one-way.  He showed the officer his out-of-state license, the officer clearly saw the out-of-state tags, and this man certainly did not talk like a native of Baltimore.  The officer gave him a verbal warning and told Mike to return to his vehicle.  Then the officer proceeded to escort us the rest of the way down the one-way street, the wrong way.  Not one of us breathed until we reached the end of the street and the officer drove off into the night.  At that point, we all burst out laughing, thanked our lucky stars, and opened every window in the car to let it air out.

Fast forward several years.  It's now the early 1980's and everyone is living in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Rod Stewart is going on tour and he is doing his opening show in Greensboro.  Now, back in the early 1980's, smoking was still permitted almost anywhere and everywhere -- in restaurants, coliseums, offices, schools, etc.  So it was nothing to see cigarette lighters all spark the minute the lights went down at a rock concert.  It was legal to smoke, but most of those cigarettes were a little funny, so I'm not so sure about the legality of it.  And, there we all were at Rod's concert.  What a concert it was.  How can you not love a man in pink polka dot tights?  I was standing next to our friend Patty, who was between me and Mike (by the way, Mike is not the name I'm using to disguise Bud.  Bud was present on both of these occasions, but he is not the perpetrator).  Patty had magnificent long, thick blonde hair.  She was turned toward me and we were yelling at each other in order to be heard above the din.  Mike, paying absolutely no attention to anything (which is not unusual for him) passed the joint to Patty, while her back was turned to him, and set her hair on fire.  If you think pot stinks, you should smell it mixed with burning hair.  Yecch.   Anyway, we put Patty's hair out without too much damage, and enjoyed the rest of the concert.  Several weeks later, Rockin' Roddy was closing out his tour in California.  His final concert was going to be simulcast on TV and the radio in Greensboro.  It would have been stupendous if 60" flat screen TV and Dolby surround sound had been invented by the early 1980's, but alas that was not the case.  Still, Mike had spent several thousand dollars on his stereo component system, so we had the best available to us at the time.  Prior to the night of the simulcast, Mike visited every apartment in his building and explained he was having a party to view and hear the concert.  Each occupant was invited to attend the party, but if they weren't interested they were at least advised there was gonna be a whole lotta shakin goin on.  The night of the concert arrived and we all gathered at Mike's apartment.  There was a tremendous amount of alcohol consumed and it wasn't long before we needed fog lights to find the bathroom.  About half-way through the concert there was a knock on the door.  Mike peered out through the little peephole, and turned to the rest of us and said "Cops".  Instantly the noise level dropped, at least from the humans in the room.  Rockin Roddy was still going strong on the stereo.  In another of his svelte-like moves, Mike opened the door and slipped quickly out, closing the door behind him.  It would not have been possible for that policeman to have missed the smoke or the aroma.  However, all he said to Mike was there had been a complaint about the noise and we were gonna have to turn it down.  Mike explained that he had invited the entire building to the party and most of them were actually inside his apartment, so he wondered who had complained.  The officer told him it had come from residents two buildings down.  Then the officer offered that he too was listening to the concert in his patrol car, but if we couldn't tune our noise level down, he was gonna have to do some further investigating and he'd really rather just enjoy the concert.  We turned it down and once again breathed a sigh of relief.

So, what's my stance on marijuana today.   I think there are too many far more important issues in our world today.  I think it should be legalized, but controlled in much the way cigarette and liquor sales are controlled.  I think medicinal marijuana is absolutely necessary.  I am constantly nauseated.  Marijuana can alleviate the nausea.  It's not gonna grow hair on my palms, it's not gonna lead me to heroin or crack or meth amphetamines.  And sometimes it provides a great deal of humor in life.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Current Mind Set

Lately I seem to be completely absorbed in this stupid "syndrome" I have.  It seems to have taken over my life.  I hate to just go on and on about it, but it is my blog, so I guess I should write about what's going on in my head.

Last week I had four really, really bad days right in a row.  By the time it was over, I was ready to be committed and to be perfectly honest, if I had to continue to live in that condition, I'm not so sure I would want to continue to live.  By the end of the fourth day, brain surgery was beginning to sound like a viable alternative.  I'm not going to go into graphic details, mainly because I don't want to relive that nightmare.  Suffice to say, I pray I NEVER have to go through four consecutive days like that again. 

I have found a lot of support, some great new friends, and a wealth of information at  Many of the people there have Lupus or fibromyalgia or migraines or some other type of chronic pain.  However, a surprisingly large number of people in this world are dizzy, and for a wide and varying number of reasons.  The site is actually a meeting point for those of us who suffer from "invisible" illnesses.  We aren't maimed or mutilated or deformed in any visible way, so it might appear to the casual observer that we are perfectly normal.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I needed this site and these people.  I need to get a grip on what is really going on with me.  I needed a way to try to make others understand that some days I just don't have enough spoons (if you don't understand the reference to spoons, see Spoon Theory).

Monday and Tuesday of this week I was fantastic.  I couldn't have been closer to normal if I was actually normal.  I felt good.  I had plenty of spoons to start and more than a few left over at the end of each day.  I was in a terrific mood and actually stayed up and had real conversations with Bud when he came home from work each day.  I didn't post a damn thing, but I was enjoying feeling good so much I just couldn't think of anything to write.  And, as we know, all good things must come to an end.  Today is gray and cloudy.  A major low pressure system will be passing through this afternoon, bringing rain and wind, but since it is relatively cool I'm hoping no thunderstorms.  I have started on a headache, but it isn't too bad yet.  This is supposed to be over by tomorrow afternoon, so some pain meds and sleep will get me through it (I hope).

I haven't really been feeling sorry for myself, but I have felt a bit like I've been stranded at sea since I "got" this SCDS mess.  I originally went searching for a support group specifically for SCDS, but since it is such a rare condition the only site had been closed down.  Now I feel as if someone has thrown me a lifeline.  I'm no longer alone out here.  As a matter of fact, it's an armada.  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spoon Theory

My sister sent me an email with a link today.  It was the first thing I saw when I cranked up my computer, because I always go to email first and to stuff from my sisters before anything else.  I clicked on the link and it opened a two page document that was in very small print.  As I started today with only half my allotment of spoons (I hope you will understand this analogy later), I was tempted to just close it and read it later if I got around to it.  But something made me start reading and before I was half-way through the first page I knew I had to read the whole thing, and read it right that very minute.

I do not have Lupus; I have SCDS.  These two issues are completely different but share a number of symptoms.  This short little two-page post is the best description I could ever imagine of what it is like to live with something that controls every aspect of your daily life.  I am posting the link here.  I hope you will take the time to read it.  I don't look like I'm disabled.  In the future, this is how I will explain who I am now, why I do or don't do the things I do or don't do, and how I try to deal with the cards I've been dealt.

But You Don't Look Sick

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Superior canal dehiscence syndrome; more aptly described as stupendously crazy dizzy stuff.

I've been at it a little over a year and a half now.  I find it to be one of the most irritating things that could have ever happened.  After more than a year, I think I've experienced almost everything this mess can throw at me.  Some days I am so close to normal, it seems as if I'm actually fooling the world to say I am disabled.  Sure, I'm dizzy.  But not so much I can't compensate for the earth's rotation most of the time.  Sure I'm nauseous, but as long as I get to keep my food, I can usually deal with being a bit squeamish.  And to be perfectly honest, about half my days are good enough that I can approximate normal.

Then there are those other days.  I thought I knew what a headache was, until this mess came along.  Now any change in the atmospheric pressure, whether brought about by a trip to the mountains or the passing of a weather system, will bring me to the point of tears.  There is nothing to be done about it except serious pain medication and sleep.  I don't think the sleep actually does anything to make the headache go away, but at least if I'm asleep, I don't realize how much I hurt.  Recently, I discovered new vistas in headache pain -- thunderstorms.  So now we have the unbelievable pressure of my brain attempting to burst out through any possible outlet in my head, but lighting then adds searing, screaming torment and the thunder makes me just want to die.

Another charming side effect of SCDS is hypersensitivity to noise.  Someone yelling for example, will actually cause me to become so dizzy I will fall down.  I cannot tolerate vacuum cleaners, blenders, loud television, constantly barking dogs, hammering, and on and on, the list is endless.  The louder the noise, the more violent my reaction.  If someone wants to completely destroy me, they need only to walk up behind me undetected and clap loudly next to one of my ears.  The burglar alarm or smoke alarm in our home can instantly reduce me to a quivering mass of helplessness.  This is a rather inconvenient little aspect, but as long as I can control the volume in my world, I can function almost normally.  Now all I have to do is figure out how to turn down thunder.

Sure I walk like a drunk most of the time, but that doesn't really bother me.  If people think I'm drunk, so what.  If that was the worst part of this mess, I'd be thrilled.  But then there are days like today.  The weather is fine -- no weather fronts passing through.  It's sunny and a little cool, but actually a pretty nice day.  But today I don't walk like a drunk; today I am barely capable of walking.  Today just sitting perfectly still in a chair makes me so dizzy I can't function.  For some unknown reason, yesterday I started getting more and more nauseated as the day progressed.  It's really not such a good idea to greet your husband when he comes through the door after a hard day at work by immediately covering your mouth and running for the bathroom.  Oh, well.  He knew the job was dangerous when he married me.  I finally gave back the few bites I had managed to force down at lunchtime, took some medication to control my stomach, and went to bed even earlier than normal.

And, there are the totally weird side effects.  I can hear everything that happens in my body.  Everything!!  Of course, I hear the gurgles and burbles of my stomach and digestive system, though I hear them when they are not audible to others.  I can hear blood flowing through my veins and arteries.  I hear my heart beat; many people can hear this at one time or another.  I hear it always.  I can hear my lungs expand and contract with each breath I take.  I hear every joint as it moves.  Some of them protest more loudly than others.  I can even hear my eyes move in their sockets.  It's a strange scritchy little noise.  There is no way to turn off the cacauphony of noise.

Most days I can read (thank God, I would die if I couldn't).  Today, unfortunately, I cannot read.  My doctor thinks I am able to read because I only move my eyes, and therefore do not cause dizziness.  Today, just being here is causing dizziness and reading is out of the question. I'm not happy.  Typing is also a bit more arduous than normal, and proofreading is out of the question.  Please forgive any misspellings or other errors you encounter in this post today.

So where am I in the "syndrome".  Today, I feel as if I'm back at square one.  With any luck, tomorrow I'll be back to relatively normal (a word I no longer take for granted).  Isn't life a kick in the pants?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pet Peeves

This week my fellow bloggers are writing about their five worst (favorite?) pet peeves, which incidentally are referred to as Pet Hates in other parts of the world.  Doncha just love the differences between American English, British English, Australian English, etc.  One of the best things the world wide web has done is really make us residents of the world.  Through Facebook, I have friends in places I never even knew existed.  This is not only amazing to me, but really makes me feel good.  And, as you can see, once again we have strayed off topic.

My five pet peeves, in no particular order.

Computer Dickheads:  This is not a large group of people.  The worst of the lot are the virus / hijack / spyware / malware writers.  Why is there always a small group of people who have to spoil it for everyone else?  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to write a virus program.  Almost anyone with a decent amount of computer knowledge can do it.  But most of us DON'T.  Why? Because we like it when our computers work properly. We like it when the internet works properly. We have no desire to "break" any of these things just because we can.  These people should ALL be locked up in a place without access to anything electronic.

Computer Nuisances: This is a larger group of people.  Though not nearly as destructive, this group is a much more prevalent problem.  Included in this category are spammers and chain email senders (yes, I know some of my closest friends fit into this group).  Oh, and I should include the numbskulls who sell lists of email addresses to spammers.  All of the people who sell those lists should be lined up and shot.  No questions asked, no pardons given.  If you are a spammer and I have never seen your name before or previously purchased a product from you, I delete your email without even bothering to look at the subject.  Unfortunately, companies from whom I have actually purchased products become spammers too.  No, I don't want to know every time something in your store goes on sale.  If I need you, I'll find you.  I found you the first time -- I think I can do it again.  Leave me alone and stop sending me emails.  And, to all you wonderful friends who send me those lovely emails telling me what will or will not happen to me if I don't forward this email to 3,486 people within the next two seconds -- I sometimes read your email then I delete it too.  I DO NOT FORWARD CHAIN EMAILS.

Cell Phone Imbeciles:  This is a very large group of people -- a humongous group.  Maybe even a ginormous group.  The worst, and unfortunately the most prevalent, are those dumbasses who talk on the cell phone while driving.  Just look at the back end of our van.  She was traveling at 50 mph, talking on the cell phone.  All the traffic on the interstate in front of her was stopped, dead.  Did she notice?  No.  I no longer drive, which means as a passenger, I have much more opportunity to observe the cars around me.  More than 75% of the people driving those cars are talking on cell phones.  This is scary, folks!  But, there are other cell phone imbeciles.  There are those who talk on their phones in restaurants (loudly).  I don't want to hear your side of the conversation.  I'm not the least bit interested in your personal life, your problems, or any of your affairs.  For cripes sake, either talk softer, go outside, or  hang up the damn phone.  And, there are those who talk on their phones in churches, at funerals, at weddings, and the list goes on and on and on.  These people are clueless and need to be smacked upside of the head.  And how about those charmers who talk on the phone while in the stall in a public restroom.  It is most disconcerting to be sitting on (more aptly hovering precariously over) the commode and hear the person in the stall next to you say, "Hi, how are ya?"  The first time it happened to me, I answered, "Fine, how are you?"  She got all huffy and told me I was an idiot and that she was on the cell phone, not talking to me.  Well, I'm sorry, but thankfully I can't see through those stall dividers and I had no way of knowing that.  Now when it happens, I ignore it and just go on about my business.  If they want to talk to me, they can catch me at the sink.

Junk Mail Senders:  These are spammers, they just use the U. S. Postal Service snail mail instead of email.  I don't even open your envelopes people.  If you are offering a credit card, I tear the entire thing into little, itty, bitty pieces before I throw it in the trash.  The others, I just toss unceremoniously.   However, lots of junk mail comes in stuff you have to open, like your bills.  They can't just tell you how much you owe, they have to stuff the envelope full of crap you have no interest in seeing.  All that hits my trash without a glance also.  I try to get most of my bills online, but it's still difficult to yank some of these companies into the 21st century.

Telemarketers:  This really isn't such a problem for me anymore.  With the advent of Caller ID, if I don't recognize the number, I don't answer the call.  If it's really important, that's why I have a machine to take messages.  Yea, sometimes telemarketers leaves messages, but not often.  And, even then I just have to listen to the first few words before I hit the delete button.  However, there are still a bunch of telemarketers out there.  I pick my telephone up more than a few times each day to see who's calling, just to see an 800 number or unknown caller ID.

Have you noticed a theme here?  If I didn't reach out to you, and I don't know you, more than likely I don't want to hear from you.    

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Infernal Revenue Service

I've put it off as long as I can.  It is time to gather all the papers, fill out all the forms, and get my tax crap over to the accountant.  Why do I have a tax accountant, you ask?  It's a long story and lucky for you, I'm about to tell it.

I am basically a law abiding citizen.  I'm not gonna lie.  There are some laws I break (or at least I did when I was still driving) on a regular basis.  I always looked at the speed limit as a suggestion.  Fortunately, only once in my life did that misconception come back to bite me in the butt.  Amazingly, I only got one ticket in 45 years of driving.  Oh, yes, I deserved many more.  But they didn't catch me, so it doesn't count.  There are some other laws that in my opinion are stupid.  I don't think it's possible to legislate morality and as such I find laws against prostitution and marijuana to be outdated and useless.  No, I don't want to be a prostitute --never have, never will.  But, if that's what you want to do for a living, there's certainly a large market for your services out there.  Do I approve?  I don't think my approval or disapproval is pertinent.  Aw, crap.  I'm off on another tangent and way far away from where there post is supposed to be headed.  *Throws lasso around midsection and starts to reel self in.*

Okay, back to being law abiding -- as such, I file my tax forms every year like a good American citizen.  I don't do it happily, because I think the tax laws are way too complex, confusion, convoluted, circuitous, complicated and corrupt.  But, I have always believed if there is one branch of the U.S. Government you do not want as your adversary, it is the IRS.  As near as I can tell these guys don't have to report to anyone.  They seem to be an autonomous group, with their own rules, their own laws, and their own way of dealing with situations.  I mean seriously, think about it.  The only way they could get Al Capone was on income tax evasion.  But once the IRS got involved, poor Al was dead meat.  Before we owned a house, filing taxes was easy.  It took about 20 minutes to fill out Form 1040EZ and send it off.  We always got refunds, because both of us let the U.S. Treasury department hold on to some of our money interest free for a year.  After, we bought the house, the 1040EZ was history, and we were into Form 1040.  Still, it was a piece of cake.  I'm a fairly smart cookie, and I can add and subtract, so it wasn't too much trouble to fill out the form.  The hardest part was keeping all the proper documentation.  At one time many years ago, all the state sales tax you paid was a valid deduction from your federal tax, as long as you saved all those stupid receipts to prove that you actually paid that much tax.  Slowly, over the years, the deductions have been eliminated.  Once TurboTax came out, it was really a breeze to fill out the forms.  Then it became possible to file online and get your refund deposited directly into your bank account, so the whole process, though never enjoyable, was at least better than a root canal.  Bud and I still allow the government to hold on to some of our money interest free each year, because we think that is preferable to paying.  Unfortunately, we've had to pay and that is always a painful and ugly experience.

I know an astoundingly large number of people who have come to be on the wrong side of a disagreement with the IRS, and yes, we are among that group.  Several years ago when I had my mid-life crisis, instead of buying a hot little sports car or having an affair with a hot younger man, I decided to change careers.  I'd been in administration from the beginning of my working career (starting as a secretary and working my way up to one of those positions that never seems to have an appropriate title).  But, I had also been fortunate to be exposed to computers very early on (first contact was 1966) and had opportunities to grow and learn as the computer industry took off.  I was enthralled with computers and just seemed to be able to suss it all out without very much effort.  So in the mid-1990's, I decided I wanted to work with computers for a living.  I was already doing a lot of training others on the computers where I worked, and I was often involved in setting up the network and determining needs.  I went back to school to get some official training, since everything I knew was self-taught, and set out in search of a job where I could use my skills.  Of course, I knew it was not going to be easy for a woman in her 40's with a completely administrative background to find a job as a computer technician, but I'm seldom deterred once I've made up my mind.  And, find a job I did.  A close friend of ours had an acquaintance who owned his own IT consulting firm and who was in need of help.  Don't ever let anyone tell you personal networking is useless.  A casual meeting was arranged.  We talked.  He made an offer to take me on part-time, and I jumped at it.  After a few weeks, my new found friend started making noises about hiring me full-time.  Well, I still had my old job (where I'd been for 18 years) and I was committed to working at least 20 hours a week there.  I didn't think I could go full-time at another job too.  Plus with my old company I had health insurance, life insurance, a 401(k) and other benefits amounting to over $10,000 annually.  Finally, he came up with an offer that got my attention -- part ownership in the company.

It was one of those opportunities you just can't ignore.  If you say no, you'll kick yourself in the butt for the next 20 years for passing up what may have been your one chance to get it right.  If you say yes, and it doesn't work out, you've just thrown away a whole lot more than just time.  I said yes.  There was so much I didn't know about about being an owner of a company.  I worked my patootie off, but I learned the hard way, that is not always enough.  Actually, I should have done a great deal more research into the company before I made my decision, but hindsight is 20/20.  I was not aware, for example, that the company had not been paying taxes for quite some time.  I guess as the minority shareholder, no one thought that was information I should have.  I'm sorry if that sounds bitter, but there may be a few sour notes in this tune.  The company eventually failed.  It did not go out in a splash, but in a small whimper that barely made a ripple, except in the lives of those who were intimately involved in it.  As it turned out, because I was on the books as one of the owners, and because the taxes had not been paid, the IRS thought it was perfectly reasonable to come after me for payment of those back taxes.  My "business partner" conveniently disappeared off the face of the planet for awhile, but the IRS eventually found him and went after their pound of flesh from him as well.  Fortunately, since I owned only 20% of the company, I was responsible for only 20% of the unpaid taxes.  Still that was a pretty nice chunk of change.  Bud and I set up a payment plan with the IRS, but they still placed a lien on our home just in case we decided to try to evade payment.  And, that's where the tax accountant came in.  He was actually the accountant to whom the company had turned for monthly reports and such when I refused to be responsible for that part of the business (after seeing what shape the books were in).  So, he was aware of my delicate situation and immediately starting amortizing my business losses as a result of the company going under.  My tax situation had obviously gotten more complex than me and TurboTax alone were going to be able to figure out.

It's been several years now.  The IRS has been paid off and it was such a gigantic relief to get that off our backs.  We are still deducting a portion of the business losses, so I just gather all my paperwork together and dump it on the tax accountant to let him figure out what to do with it.  At first, I hated the concept so much that I delayed taking the paperwork to him until a week before the return had to be filed.  That is really a very bad thing to do to a tax accountant.  Then for a few years, I just delayed and delayed and delayed and got extensions and finally would get around to filing about October or so.  But we always ended up paying when I did that, so I had to get my act together and start getting the paperwork in on time.  Last year, he sent Bud an email and told him our stuff had to be in by the end of February.  I knew what he was doing, but I went ahead and accommodated him anyway.  Now we have another smaller mess with the IRS, due to our own stupidity, so we end up owing again.  But it won't be nearly as bad as last time, and soon we'll be back in good standing.

And so, tomorrow I'll take the time to organize all the paperwork and put it neatly in a folder so Bud can drop it off at the accountant's office.  We won't file until  April 15th, because I know we will have to pay, but at least it will be completed and waiting for the filing deadline.  Then I can quit worrying about those guys at the IRS, who I fear more than any police, FBI, CIA, or even militant radicals.  Those guys really mean business.