IRS Performing a Ministerial

I know many of you who have had interactions with IRS in the past two years.
And feeling frustrated by the whole process.

IRS has a backlog of millions of unprocessed 2020 returns.
Their automated system sent out many erroneous notices.
Not a lot of fun — to put it mildly.

Still, some of you choose to see the funny side of things.
Like one of my friends who sent me this email:

> > > > > >

So I’m on the internet, looking up some tax information.
And I’m reading this:
“All or part of any interest you were charged can be forgiven if the interest is due to an unreasonable error or delay by an officer or employee of the IRS in performing a ministerial…”

IRS in performing a ministerial?!

Now I’m thinking:
“Did I accidentally go to a religious site!?
But it clearly says ‘IRS’

> > > > > >

Love my friends.
And their sense of humor.

On a more serious note, do remember:
You don’t need to pay the interest you were charged due to an IRS employee’s instructions/action.
Or as they said, that interest can be forgiven.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking — that’s another word closely related to ministerial 😊

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An equal opportunity offender — across generations

It’s weekend. Late afternoon.
I’m driving on a country road.
On my way to a party

I reach an intersection and make a right
Another winding country road. Beautiful blue skies. And open fields.
But I’m not sure I’m on the right road.

As I’m approaching another intersection I’m looking around.
On the side of the road I see a few cows, happily grazing.

So I slowed down to ask for directions:
“Mrs. Moo, should I make a left? Or a right?”
Moo gives me a confused look.
I’m probably talking too fast.
Or it’s my accent.

What to do now?
Well, I pull on the side of the road. And turn my phone on. Activate  location. And speak in the address.
“You are 5 minutes away from your destination.” Said the familiar voice from the phone
“Good to know, genius!” I grumbled.

* * * * *

I like technology. It makes my job so much easier.
At the same time I don’t want to be connected 24/7
So I take breaks whenever I can.
I turn off my computer. And my phone.

On a recent weekday morning, fresh from a longer “off-the-grid” break, I log into my computer.
Needing to catch up on my messages.
One of my friends sent me a link to an app for my phone.
I keep on reading my messages. And there is that link again — from another friend.

Now I burst out laughing.
These two friends of mine don’t have much in common with each other.
(Maybe the age is a contributing factor — one is 30 year old; the other is 80 year old.)
Yet, their messages are so similar: the link sent; and the tone of the message.
I can tell they are both slightly annoyed with me (for not being available when they wanted to talk).

Hmm, an equal opportunity offender.
I manage to annoy my friends equally — across generations : )

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Strange bedfellows. Money. Marijuana

Why are these words together?
Because it’s that time of the year again.
Time when we are busy working on taxes.
(Some more than others; and the “some” badly needed some humor to lighten things up.)

I put together this short collection of funnies.

Strange bedfellows and nightmares
They say politics makes strange bedfellows, but it’s the taxpayer who has the nightmare

There is now
A man made a Freedom of Information request
to the IRS, asking whether there was an audit file on him.
A week later he received the reply.
It said: “There is now.”

And that’s how you get to make BIG money
A CPA goes into a pet shop to buy a parrot.
The shopkeeper shows him three identical parrots on a perch and says,
”The parrot on the left costs $500.”

“Why does that parrot cost so much?” Asks the CPA.
“Well”, replies the owner, “it knows how to do complex audits.”
“How much does the middle parrot cost”” ask the CPA.
“That one cost $1,000 because it can do everything the first one can do plus it knows how to prepare financial forecasts.”
The startled CPA asks about the third parrot, to be told it costs $4,000. Needless to say, this begs the question, “What can it do?”
To which the owner replies, “To be honest, I have never seen him do a darn thing, but the other two call him Senior Partner.”
(The above anecdotes: courtesy of Robert McKenzie of Chicago.)

The difference between Washington D.C. and Cayman Islands (as “explained” by Jimmy Kimmel)
“Tax day is the day that ordinary Americans send their money to Washington, D.C., and wealthy Americans send their money to the Cayman Islands.”

How to solve the deficit (according to Jay Leno)
“And there are a lot of new taxes coming.
California state legislators want to solve our state’s giant deficit by taxing marijuana.
Meanwhile, Oregon wants to increase a tax on beer, while New York wants to tax Internet porn.
You know what this means?
By the end of spring break, this whole thing could be paid for.”

*    *    *

Well, the break is over for me.
I’ll go immerse myself in some more “suspenseful” tax code reading.

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The lighter side: knowledge, wisdom. And more

Late. Incomplete.
The operative words best describing the paperwork from several clients.
(This past Monday was the deadline for filing taxes; for those who filed extensions.)

Let’s just say my phone conversations were full of “excitement.”
My voice kept going up several decibels at the time.
And I don’t have a small voice to begin with!!

To relax, I took breaks and watched TV — to see the great job our politicians are doing.
(Just kidding!)

To lighten-up and keep things in perspective I turned to some of my favorites:
Mark Twain. And a few others.

Churchill on Liberals and Conservatives:

“Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal,
has no heart;
and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative,
has no brains.”

Bertrand Russell on why we have problems in this world:

“The whole problem with the world is that
fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves,
and wiser people so full of doubts.”

Twain on knowledge, wisdom (or the lack of it):

I would rather have my ignorance
than another man’s knowledge,
because I have so much more of it.

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did.


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On the road for two weeks. And bad habits one can start at 3:45AM

Two weeks of conferences, long hours and different hotel rooms across several states.
First week out of state.
Second week within my own state.

One of the best things I did was to go over my contact list and sent out emails to people I knew in the cities I was scheduled to visit.
Some I didn’t get to see.
The ones I did see I so enjoyed spending time with them.

Traveling with a group (even though it was a different group each time) is having the best of both worlds when you travel.
You get to make new friends in the place you are visiting.
And still have familiar faces around you from the group you came with.

Smart-alecky remarks
The familiarity does come with Smart-alecky remarks.
Like the time when I talked about a family I wanted to visit with. (They lived in the city we were in.)
To which a friend promptly scolded me, “They moved here in 2015 and you haven’t seen them?
When it’s less than an hour drive away from you?!”
Me, laughing, “Less than an hour drive?!  Remind me NOT to get in the car with you !”

Mojito but not Macchiato?!
That evening I’ve re-visited one of my favorite places to shop in the city.
And got me a bunch of chocolate. Then went to dinner. Great food.
Then one of my friends suggested I try a Mojito.
Feeling adventurous I tried it. I liked it.

We left the restaurant and went to a coffee shop — for coffee and dessert.
I usually like my coffee black; so that’s what I wanted to order.
But my friend wanted me to try a Macchiato.

I gave a really suspicious look to that coffee with a “makeup” on.
Which caused my friend to burst out laughing,
“You trusted me with the Mojito, but don’t trust me with the Macchiato?!”

…sow your seed for $58 — at 3:45AM
Aah … the “glamorous” life of a traveler.
Watching the clock and not being able to go to sleep.
It’s 3:45AM.  Might as well turn the TV on.

Flipping through the channels I stopped at the “… sow your seed for $58.”
Venture to guess what’s that all about?
A religious infomercial!

I watched it for about 40 minutes.
The guy gave a lesson in persuasion.
He knew his demographics.
And knew how to make it “easy” and “relatable.”
Quite a learning experience.
Hmm! Maybe I should turn this into a habit — start watching infomercials.

Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep.
Few hours later, now daylight, I enthusiastically shared my TV watching habits from the previous night.
Among bouts of laughter, the Chairwoman, usually a serious lady, turned to another from the group and said,
“Someone better see her checkbook. And make sure there is no $58 check written out.”

Just show up
The good part about traveling this time was that I didn’t have to worry about logistics — reservations, etc.
It was all done and taken care of by some very nice, friendly, and competent people.
All I had to do is show up.

Before heading home I had dinner with a close friend of mine.
And her two sons. Good food, fun conversation.
Wonderful family!

Perfect ending for my two weeks on the road.

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The two parrots with dog-breath

Making friends is not always easy.
Especially when they look different: four-legged and furry.
That’s what Flipper and Sunny found out when Rio came over to visit.
(I offered to take care of Rio’s while his family was out of town.)

I saw he was lonely so I brought him over to my place several times a day.
The first time was challenging —  I had to watch them closely.
There was a territorial dispute.






After a dog/bird standoff Rio realized he is no match for Flipper.
(See the fuzzy photo of Flipper chasing Rio’s tail.)





No one was harmed.
But a new pecking order emerged:
1) Flipper the Menace,
2) Rio, and
3) Sunny (he’s a sweetheart and doesn’t have a mean-feather on his body).








Rio went on to higher grounds: the couch.
Being on the couch was much safer than being on the floor, with Flipper the Menace in hot pursuit.

The second visit things were much friendlier.
This time there was no chasing. Rio knew to stay out of Flipper’s way while she and Sunny were eating his food.
Then Rio could eat peacefully while Flipper and Sunny were busy looking for something to “read.”




When everyone had enough socializing and playing I was getting ready to take Rio back to his home.
So I picked up Flipper and Sunny and put them on my shoulder to take them to their cages.

What was that smell?

Then I realized:  they’ve been eating dog food.
And now they had dog-breath!
For the rest of the week Sunny and Flipper kept sharing Rio’s food.
The two parrots with dog-breath.

Well, all it’s good as long as I don’t get confused and try to put Rio on my shoulder : )

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THE Winning Strategy in Politics

In politics: what does it take to win?
You are probably saying, “… all politics is local; so the strategies will vary.”
Or maybe not.

My friends and I were discussing the outcome of France’s presidential election.
And we’ve noticed many similarities with the presidential election here in the U.S.

After further “serious analysis” we think we know the ONE winning strategy employed by both, Trump and Macron.
In spite of some major differences (Trump is known for his nationalism, France’s Macron is a supporter of globalization) they also have a lot in common.

The winning strategy is based on two important things (which helped them win the election).
And what exactly are those two things?

Run as an outsider.
Both Trump and Macron ran as outsiders. (Trump ran as an “Washington outsider.” Macron ran without a party affiliation.)

Marry someone that’s well outside of your age group.
Donald Trump 70; our first lady, Melania Trump  is 46.
Emmanuel Macron 39; France’s first lady, Brigitte Macron is 64.

There you have it:
Two victorious heads of state.
One winning strategy.
(My friends and I are available for more “in-depth, serious” political analysis. All you have to do is ask : )

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Experiments — the fun and frivolous kind

Why we do what we do?
The interesting ways we try to motivate ourselves.

From putting the exercise gear somewhere we can see it — maybe even trip over it.
And hoping that’s the incentive needed to get us started on the way to being fit.

To breaking the chocolate bar in smaller pieces and hoping we’ll stop eating half of it; before noon.
(I’m not the only one doing that, am I?!)

Studies show that incentives fail to achieve desired results.
And sometime incentives can even backfire says Uri Gneezy, behavioral economist at UCSD

He cites a daycare study where a small fee designed to reduce parents’ tardiness in picking up their kids had the opposite effect.
Interestingly MORE parents were late picking up their children.
The late pickups doubled and it remained at that level until the fee was removed.

Before the fee parents would rush to get at the daycare in time.
(Out of courtesy to the daycare workers.)
The fee created a behavioral shift from social to economic.

112Well, I’ve decided to run my own experiment here.
Flipper was told, in no uncertain terms, that her window viewing privileges will be suspended should she continue on grabbing the blinds.
I even provided an incentive: an almond.
(We were out of pizza.)
You can see how that worked out : )

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A paraprosdokian take on sexy women. And men

Agile organizations. And traits of great leadership.
Originally that was the plan — I was going to write about men and women in a leadership role.
And in cross-functional teams.

All that went poof (technical term : ) when I accidentally came across some really good paraprosdokians.
For those of you not familiar with them: they are figures of speech widely used by comedians.
(Incidentally, Winston Churchill also used them frequently.
Attributed to him:
“A modest man, who has much to be modest about.”)

The origin of the word paraprosdokian is Greek:
παρά (“against”) and προσδοκία (“expectation”)

“If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong” is one I like.
(My friends would say I like this one a lot.)

But here it’s my favorite:

“Women will never be equal to men
until they can walk down the street
with a bald head and a beer gut,
and still think they are sexy.”

I couldn’t agree more : )

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Pick on someone your own size

One late morning, over the weekend, I took Flipper and Sunny for a walk.
Since it was beautiful outside, some neighbors were busy catching up on their yard work.
We are approaching a yard with a couple busy trimming hedges.
The wife is coming toward us so we stop and chat for a few minutes. Shortly the husband is joining us.

“He is Dr. Dolittle — he loves animals”, the wife is saying.
Flipper is really showing off now — her tail is fanned; and she is whistling and vocalizing.
She likes the guy.
All this mayhem attracts the couple next door. All five of us are watching Flipper’s antics.

That’s when “Dr. Dolittle” asks if can pick one up.

“Sure, you can pick up Sunny; he’s friendly and doesn’t bite anyone”, I say as I’m getting ready to pass Sunny to him.
Before I could finish the sentence he picks up Flipper.
Off my shoulder!
Well, next thing we all hear is, “Ouch!!” I’m looking up — Flipper has a good grip on one of his fingers. And won’t let go!
I’m trying to get my feathered Rottweiler but she is beyond my reach. The guy is tall; and he’s holding his arm high.

Flipper and Sunny

Sunny is repenting for both. Flipper says, “Trouble-maker? Who, me?!”

“Please lower your arm, so I can get her!”
I free the finger and grab the little biter.
She is all happy with herself — whistling and lots of, “Scooby Doo’s” are coming out of her beak.
And more tail-fanning.

Several minutes later “Dr. Dolittle” says he wants to pick her up again.
The other guys, including his wife, are looking at him like he’s lost his mind.
Reluctantly, I had to agree with him,
“If he wants to make friends with her, yes, he does need to pick her up again.”
Then I turn to him,
“Please keep your arm where I can reach; so I can discipline her — if necessary.”
All is well that ends well. And I’m happy to say Flipper made a new friend.

Pick on someone your own size
Interestingly, when children are approaching us, Flipper is quick to seek protection.
The younger they are the more cautious she becomes.

Not with the grown-ups.
With rare exceptions, she is ready to chat with anyone.

The episode with, “Dr. Dolittle”: Flipper didn’t really want to hurt him.
Just wanted to show him who’s the boss.

The whole thing reminded me of that saying,
“Pick on someone your own size.”

Based on the kind of people she picks on, it’s obvious what she thinks about her size : )

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