Monday, June 27, 2011

Must be the Heat

Saw two things today that I thought were a little odd. I would have gotten photos to share, but I was driving. I'm already a terrible photographer, so it wasn't worth risking a traffic accident.

Strange Item No. 1 "You Go Boy!"
Man, age 30ish, riding a bicycle while simultaneously eating one of the biggest hamburgers I've ever seen. Do you think he was reasoning that as long as he was pedaling, eating a greasy 2,000 plus calorie burger was good for him?

Strange Item No. 2 "You Should Be Ashamed!"
A man and his kids in their bedraggled van at the corner of a busy intersection. On a large piece of cardboard taped to the side of his van was written "Rotie Puppies." He was standing next to it holding one of the puppies like he was hawking fake watches on the streets of New York. (Now this guy I would have run over while taking a photo, but I didn't want to hurt the innocent puppy or the children).

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Good, The Bad and the IRS

I run my own business and yesterday I got a certified letter from the IRS saying I had an outstanding balance on my tax payment from last year. I probably don't have to tell you that the letter was a little threatening in its tone.

I've decided that I'll consider the rest of this story of my interaction with the IRS to be hilarious rather than painful. So, here goes.

I knew I had paid this. I knew the check number and date it had been sent. I even checked and yes, the check had been cashed. Even so, I thought I'd better call and be sure they had corrected the error.

I call the 800 number. I spend 3 minutes punching all my info into the automated phone system. I wait patiently through 15 minutes on hold. When the IRS agent finally answered (No 'hello, this is Marcy, how I can help you today?') she had an attitude. I'll spare you the details, but it ended up with her "terminating" my call because at one point I said "Well, damn, I didn't know that was what you were asking me for!" I got cut off for using the word "Damn". If  I'd known I would be cut off, I wouldn't have wasted my offensive language with 'damn', there are much better words.

So off I go to my local IRS office. This is where it gets really bizarre!

As soon as I walk in the door, the security guard, who is sitting chatting with one of the customers, says to me in a rapid fire monotone "any weapons, cell phone, cameras or recording devices?"  Um, a cell phone, I answer. "You've got to turn it off, no cell phones allowed."  Um, ok, and hello to you, too.

I take a number from the weird machine that makes you choose a "reason" why you're there before it spits out your number. Now, there are only 2 other people in the waiting room besides me. My number, 502. I look at the "now serving" light and it says 957. WTF? I immediately think I must be in that waiting room from Beetlejuice or something.

The next number is called and one of the two women goes into the cubicle not 12 ft from where I'm sitting. The TV in the waiting room is on the Spike TV channel. Just about every surface of the walls are covered by posters and notices that say "No Weapons" "No Cell Phones" "No Cameras or Recording Devices" in multiple languages (even Japanese, I swear!).

The woman now leaves the cubicle and it turns out the other lady is with her, so I'm next! But before she leaves, the security guard returns her box cutter. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!

Now I'm alone with the security guard and the one lone IRS agent in the cubicle 12 feet away. Ding, the "next served" number changes to 502 (that's me!). I decide it is completely ridiculous to post my number on the electronic sign when I'm the ONLY person in the waiting room, and he can clearly see this. So I decide to mess with him. (I know, this is what got me terminated the last time).

I sit there. "Number 502" he calls out. I look at my number slip, I look at the sign announcing my number is next, I look back at my number slip. I sit there. "Number 502! 502, is that You?!? You're next, wake up!"

Tee-hee-hee . . . .

Trying to be friendly, I ask if he's ever seen the movie Beetlejuice. "Yes" he says. "Your waiting room reminds of the waiting room in Beetlejuice," I say with a laugh. He just stares at me. So I hand over my ID and paperwork. It takes him exactly 45 seconds to pull up my record and confirm that the error has been corrected. Then he says "Oh, Beetlejuice! I know what you're talking about now" and kinda chuckles.

This one is a real Einstein, I think but do not say out loud. On my way out through the empty waiting room, I pass the seated security guard who is now playing on his cell phone.

"No Cell Phones!" I bark and am pleased to see I startle him a little.

Tee, hee, hee . . .

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bloggers in Demand

One of the best things about being a part of the blogger community is getting to see a place from the blogger's local perspective. That's why I follow so many Florida bloggers. There's nothing better than visiting a place and knowing all the "secrets" from the locals about what to do, where to eat, where to stay, etc.

As a blogger, I've been tapped a few times by online and traditional publications looking for a writer with local knowledge. My most recent piece on the outdoor offerings in Daytona Beach came out this week in the June issue of the Visit Florida e-newsletter. See here

If you're doing some guest blogging or freelance writing, I'd love to read my blogging friends' work. Please send me a link and I'd be interested in sharing them with my followers. 

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Your Baby Can't Read

Anyone else other than me tired of those "Your Baby Can Read" commercials? Not only do they play constantly on every radio station I listen to, they're ridiculous. Who's buying this product? Is it the same parents who made the Baby Einstein folks rich beyond measure? I think even the Baby Einstein consumers didn't actually believe their babies would start playing Mozart or solving equations because they got parked in front of a video.

I'm here to proclaim that NO, YOUR BABY CANNOT READ!!!!

In addition to this concept being completely asinine, why would you want your baby to read? Is this a sinister component of the Florida FCAT? Are the No Child Left Behind people a sponsor of this ridiculous product?

Every time I hear one of these commercials I feel like screaming "IF YOU READ TO YOUR BABY AND TODDLER, YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THEIR COGNITIVE ABILITIES!!!"

Whatever happened to reading to your child? Now there's a video and online game for everything. Heck, there's probably even a Your Baby Can Read App. (Gag).

I may not be a perfect mom but I know that spending quality time reading to your child can only help. So why would you spend money on a product that lets someone else do it for you?

NO, your baby cannot read. But YOU can read to your baby!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Official Sign of Summer

It is officially summer. I know this because today my dog Scout chewed all the beads off my new flip flops. Actually, he chewed the beads off only one shoe in the pair.

I look forward to getting a new pair of flip flops each summer. Scout looks forward to "breaking them in" for me. It's a good thing I don't spend much money on my flip flops. The frustrating thing is this smelly dog never chews anyone else's flip flops. Only mine!

I thought I was safe because he usually is attracted to sparkly things. These were just multi-colored beads, no sparkles. I guess he decided he'd chew up anything in a pinch - sparkles or not.

I've tried to make sure I keep my shoes in my closet and not just laying around the house. Didn't help. He just slunk into my closet for a flip flop snack.

Pictured: Bad Dog Scout on the left with Good Dog Radley on the right. No matter how hard Radley has tried to be a good influence, Scout is incorrigible.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Big events - Only in Florida

June 1 has been replete with events that for the most part only all of us in Florida experience.

Today marks the first day of Hurricane Season. Do you think it is some sort of sign that today was also the first day my home - the greater Daytona Beach area - has gotten any rain in weeks?

The space shuttle landed. Did the double sonic boom wake you around 2:30 a.m.?

We've got approximately 250 wildfires burning across the state as of today. Have I mentioned how much we love our firefighters in the Sunshine State?

By my calendar, the first official day of summer is June 21. But to me, June 1 is the official Florida day of summer.