kindness of strangers

I google a lot. No, seriously, a LOT. Well, I call it googling, but I often use the Yahoo! search engine; b/c I do love Yahoo! So, googling for me is more of a verb that means doing an online search.

Anyway, I once posted about a TaxCut software problem I had & the solution to said prob. I check my stats, ppl, & I know that at least 80 ppl came to that post having searched for an answer to that same prob. & I know I helped them. But no comment from them. No, “hey dude, thanks!” or “good lookin out”. Nothin.

So, I’d like to do a post to thank 2 complete strangers.

I am 5’2″. This means that I have to look through racks & racks for “petite” or “short” on pants/jeans. I often do my jeans shopping at TJ Maxx/Marshalls, so I’m lucky to find maybe a pair or two each time I go. Sometimes I find a pair that I love, but only they’re too long.

So, I googled “how to hem jeans”, & found this post by Dacia Ray. It’s the most fantastic tutorial b/c you don’t have to cut off the hem. Her thinking is that you pay for the stitching, esp at the hem, so she shows us how to do it w/ retaining the original hem.

Here’s what I accomplished while watching Ocean’s Thirteen last Sat. (ignore my unmanicured nails)…

pic 057

A couple of years ago, I wanted to make lamb curry. I’ve never even had it before, but I heard it was fantastic. So, I googled it, & found this recipe by a 2nd gen Indian gal in London. She named her blog for the 30 min train ride route she takes to & from work.

I love how both these ladies show us how to do it, w/ pictures each step of the way, which I think helps tremendously!

Anyway, I love the internet. I love how close it brings all of us, & what we all can learn from each other. Esp the simple things.

muppets gardening

I’ve got nothing right now, so I’m gonna share cool stuff I found on the interwebs 🙂

First, Henson’s 11. It’s the Ocean’s 11 trailer, complete w/ the audio from the original 2001 trailer, only w/ Jim Henson’s MUPPETS!!!

sq-ft-garden
photo by flickr user hughroper.

Next, a post off of Boing Boing, about efficiency gardening. Less space, no weeds, bigger plants, less seed. It seems like a win-win situation! No tilling the soil, & it aerates itself. The pic is hyperlinked to the article, & you can always visit the Square Foot Gardening” website. It was created/developed by an engineer turned gardener. Of course.

lower gas prices feel like blood money in my pocket

Do any of you feel the same way?

Few weeks ago, over $4.00.
Last week, $3.77.
Yesterday, $3.55.
My mom said it’s supposed to go down to $3.41 soon.

I feel like this is the gov’t.’s way of giving me blood money. My heart sinks everytime I see the prices go down. The lower we fall, I know the more we’re going to pay for it later. It’s gonna hit us in the gut & I’m afraid some of us won’t be able to rise back up.

I knew this would happen. I wanted to blog about this on July 14th. The day Bush overturned that ban on offshore drilling, I felt punched in the stomach. I just felt so sick to my stomach. Like seriously nauseous. I just hoped that we’ve elected a Congress smart enough to not make his executive order come to fruition.

The very next day, the price of oil per barrel dropped. It’s been dropping since. I know it’s only dropping cause ppl think that we’re gonna be drowning in all the crude oil our lil hearts can take real soon. But that ain’t happenin, Charlie.

What’s gonna happen when ppl realize that this isn’t the solution? It’s just gonna skyrocket way past what we thought was high before. The truth is, this country’s been spoiled as far as gas prices go for decades now. If ppl think they can’t afford gas now, they’re gonna be in for a rude awakening when it hits over $8.00 a gallon. That’s what I think will happen when ppl realize that offshore drilling’s not the end-all to this prob.

Please don’t let this congress let us down.

Here’s the long & short of it (mostly long, cause c’mon, you know I ramble):

– if (if) there’s oil to be found, it will be decades (decades) before we actually got that oil & the price drop from it would be minimal. It would come out to a 2¢ drop, 20 years from now.

– 80% of US produced oil (from US reserves) is from 4 states: LA, TX, AK, & CA. If we wanted to find more, our best best would be the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

– Um… do you know what “National Wildlife Refuge” even means? It means, you told those animals that you weren’t going to destroy their home for your own evil means.

– If they spent a decade looking/finding/drilling for oil, there’s only realistically a year’s worth up there. You’re gonna destroy the sanctuary for that? Really? Really?

– It is very (very) likely that any oil drilled from ANWR will never be sold in the US. It will be sold off to the highest International bidder (most likely China). (C’mon, ppl, didja forget we’re a capitalist society?)

– Currently, we have 500 oil spills in Alaska every year. Yeah, they don’t exactly advertise that. You don’t think that’s gonna decrease when they have more new drilling monstrosities?

– Seismic testing to locate oil creates decibel levels of 260 – twice as loud as an ambulance – underwater. Exposure to these levels of noise underwater can cause disorientation, brain hemorrhaging, or even beaching for whales and dolphins. Only last week over 100 melon-head whales beached off of Madagascar close to where ExxonMobil was conducting seismic testing. (6/19/2008, from Greenpeace website)

Here’s a video of a guy who spent 3 months hiking across Alaska, & spent a LOT of time in the ANWR (it’s 3½ mins ppl):

What we need is an alternate solution. My main concern is that we will lose track of what’s imp: trying to develop alternative renewable energies.

Like this Pickens Plan that this guy T. Boone has.

Here be the plan:
(click pic to go to site)

finally!

Ok, so just to let you know. I haven’t been gone the last couple of days, I’ve been trying to figure out how to expand & collapse my sidebar.

And I’ve finally GOT IT!! Yea!

I know it’s not really a big deal; but it kinda is to me. I hate clutter, & it felt like there was so much clutter in my sidebar. But it’s all cleaned up now.

So, I can watch the shows I taped tonight now. Some of you know that I pretty much refuse to watch anything at it’s regularly scheduled time. I tape everything & watch it whenever I want. That way, I’m not at the mercy of da man.

So, now I love ‘Ugly Betty’ & my reg ‘GA’.

If you’re a GA fan (um, that’s Grey’s Anatomy), go over to my sidebar. Under the “Waste Time” area, there’s a blog written by the GA writers, as they blog about each show they’ve just written after it airs. I think it’s pretty sweet.

I think I’m gonna love me some Blogger Beta now that I’ve kinda gotten the hang of it, & figured out how to adjust things to how I want them. There’s more to come….

Peace out, yo.

aren’t rainbows purty?

Does anyone else go stand outside in the rain when it’s sunny looking for rainbows? Last Sat, we had one of those days here. I just finished working out, & it’d been rainy & grey all morn. Well, I was almost done, when I looked out the window & saw that it had become sunny. It was still raining, but in the beautiful sunshine. So, I finished up & hightailed it outta there. On my way out, the lady at the desk (they all know me so well in my town) saw me fixated on the windows of the door as I was headin towards it, & said to me “You’re going to look for the rainbow, aren’t you?”. I said “yup” (I’m a girl of few words. haha, ok, so I’m not, but when I’m focused on something I can be.) She said I needed to come back in & tell her what it was like before I actually left. So, I walked outside, & had to look around for it. I couldn’t find it anywhere. It took an 8 year old boy riding his bike through the parking lot to help me find it; “look over there”. So, I did.

It was a short stubby rainbow. Wide, but short. I’d never seen one like that before. I could see both ends of it, & the top of it was so low to the ground. Very cool. So, if it’s sunny & raining, high-tail it outside to see one of these babies, ‘kay? Cause no two are alike, & if you miss it, that’s it. There’s no instant replay on ‘em.

Then, this morning, I check my email, & my friend Jen sent me this awesome pic. Thanks, baby-doll! How cool is that?!? So, I’m sharing w/ y’all.

send in the pigs!

Hey y’all! I’ve decided I want to make a pig gallery from ppl who visit this bl*g. So, here’s the easiest way to do it.

Go to the pig drawing site, & create your pig.
Once you draw the pig & submit your drawing, it’ll give you a link to your pig.
Just copy/paste the link in the comments section of this post. Oh, & if you want to add a comment about your pig, do it there too!
I’ll take it from there!

Please, please, please do it! I never send out chain letters or memes or any craziness like that. So, you know I really want my own pig gallery when I post this. C’mon, you know you want to! If you do it, I’ll give you 5 points! Thanks!

Here’s what we’ve got in our pig gallery so far (click on each pic to enlarge):

.t05 solution

OK, I’ve been getting a TON of emails asking how to fix the problem w/ the TaxCut software. The prob being that some ppl can’t print it, & want to save it to a pdf file. B/c it’s in it’s own file format (called T05) w/ that extension at the end of it.

In TurboTax, you could just hit “file”, “save as…”, & change the type to a pdf easily.

Well, here’s how to do it w/ TaxCut:
1–I went to download.com, & typed in a search for a “pdf writer”.
I had one previously installed that also required a download of a “ghostwriter” program. But it somehow got deleted. So, I just went back & discovered a new one. It’s only 2 mb in size & downloads super-fast. It’s called cutePDF writer 2.5. Now, I don’t know if you need a ghostwriter program for this one. Since I already had it on my computer, it may have just ran in the background like w/ my previous pdf writer program. But for some reason, I don’t think you need to download anything else for this one.
2–So, download this CutePDF Writer 2.5, & install it onto your computer. It’s a free download.
3–Now, to use it, all you do is goto “File” & “Print”. Once on the ‘print’ screen, go to “Find Printer” & select the pdf writer as your printer output.

Optional:
I literally no longer have a printer on our computer (gave it to my sister). So, now if I want to print something at home, I always have to save it as a pdf file, then use another printer (like my work one, or you can use your public library’s computer). If you are in the same situation, then simply go to your “Start” button, select ‘Settings’ & ‘Printers & Faxes’. You’ll see your new CutePDF writer in there. Just right-click it, & select the ‘set as default printer’ option. It will get a check mark next to it now. And from here on out, whenever you hit the ‘print’ button or icon, it’ll automatically convert whatever you’re working on (office doc, or this .t05 file) to a pdf format. Then, you can save it to a disk, or email it to yourself. My dad wanted to email his 1040 completed taxes to my sister who’s in college so that she can use it to do her FAFSA for her school’s financial aid. Important docs like that you always want to send as a pdf so that no one can make any changes to it, & the doc’s integrity remains intact.

Original Post on this whole TaxCut drama. Who knew it was so universal though?!

UPDATE (7/5/2006): The CutePDF Writer 2.5 that I had downloaded & used is no longer available for download. But I did find that they have a new CutePDF Writer 2.6 available for download now. It may even be better/easier/faster/who knows! Also, don’t forget to read the license & user/editor’s reviews before downloading stuff!

aahhh, to walk on water. . .

There’s been a lot of biblical stuff going around recently. Last week, about the walking on water/ice thing. Yesterday, we found out that Gwyneth named her baby boy Moses. Last night, that remake of the Ten Commandments aired on broadcast tv. I haven’t seen the remake they had on tv yet. I’m sure I will someday though.

Growing up, my dad used to make us watch the Ten Commandments (the original one w/ Chuckie Heston) every year. So, I’m sure they’ll put this one out on dvd, & one day, I’ll end up watching it. I don’t know why he would make us, we’re not even Christian! To watch it once or twice, I could understand it, cause they did want us to grow up knowing about all diff religions. But every year?!?

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about today is that whole “Walking on Water” thing. Last Tuesday, Dr. Doron Nof (Florida State University’s prof of Oceanography, pic at left) stated to the world that there was a scientific explanation to the story of Jesus walking on water. I know it’s not very popular to question religion (proven by all the hate mail that he got right after making the statement publicly), but I do think it’s extremely interesting. I’ve heard all kinds of explanations over the last 10 to 15 years for all kinds of religious “miracles”; including “miracles” in my own religion.

I just like to hear ppl’s ideas & theories on things. I don’t think it’s so wrong to question anything, including religion. I don’t think anyone should try to cram one’s ideas down someone else’s throat though. Like in the olden days, when everyone thought the Earth was the center of the universe & gold ol’ Nicky Copernicus was like “Nu-uh, the sun is”*. Ahh, what a laugh that was, huh? Good ol’ Nick!

But sometimes, it’s nice to hear a new twist on an old story. I also like when bands cover a song. I liked the Pumpkin’s version of Landslide better than Stevie Nick’s version. Most times, I appreciate both the old version & the new (like when ppl re-do David Bowie songs, I love the original, but I like to hear the new version too). But I like the Pumpkin’s version better, so maybe there’s ppl out there who do like new twists on things better than the original.

I do like hearing the science behind the magic though. I love the de-structuralization of it all. Like the Pompidou Centre in Paris**.

Let all the insides out, so everyone can see the mechanics of it all. But I also do believe in magic & miracles.

Recently, I’ve hoped & prayed for some, & haven’t seen them materialize. But I do still believe in them.

*This is a total paraphrasing of what Nick actually said.
**Is it bad that I can’t spell things like “receive” right (ever!, w/out spell-check), but I can easily spell Pompidou right w/out any help?

Links:
FSU’s press release on Nof’s theory
Actual article from the Journal of Paleolimnology

Tax Program ppl

Hello,
I noticed that a lot of ppl come to this page looking for a way to convert their tax file to pdf.

I had the same problem, you can scroll down a bit to find it, or find the problem HERE.

And more importantly, the SOLUTION HERE.

tax ppl suck

Everyone hates doing taxes. I never thought anything of it. I used to use that TurboTax software every year & it was super-easy. In fact, last year, in 25 mins, I did my federal & state taxes, AND shaped-up my eyebrows. Yep, easy as pie. mmmm . . . pie.

Anyway, this year, I tried to do ’em w/ H & R Block’s TaxCut. Yuk. I needed to be able to save it as a pdf file. Well, here is my email conversation w/ their tech-support. The following are true & complete excerpts. I did not edit any of this (except take out real names, & I put in asterisks there). I have added in comments in red though.

*Note: Update on this at the very bottom.
Solution to this problem is posted
HERE.

My initial request for help:
—–Original Message—–
From: me at my email
Sent: Mar 1, 2006 8:59:53 AM
Subject: Send A Question from TaxCut Self-Help

I NEED to be able to save my return as a pdf file. How do I do this. [I really did NEED to do this, & fast. I was hoping for some super-smart techie-god to help me out. Unfortunately, none of my 2 super-smart-goddess-like sisters work there. Also, I do have a prob w/ not putting in ques marks where they’re supposed to go. I think it’s cause I’m shift-lazy.]

If I goto ‘Save As…’, then click ‘Browse’, switch to ‘all files’, then add the extention pdf, it doesn’t change the type of file to pdf. It simply save another version thinking that .pdf is part of the name of that file. It gets saved as name.pdf.T05, w/ .T05 as the file extention name. [This is what I did in TurboTax. It was super-easy to save it as a pdf file.]

It can only be opened w/ this TaxCut software then. I need a pdf file that I can email & not have anyone tamper w/ the data.

Please help. [See how polite I am. Always such a gracious lady, am I.]

TaxCut Technical Software Support wrote:
Thank you for contacting H&R Block TaxCut Software Support.

Dear so & so*,

I understand that you have difficulty in saving your return as a pdf file.

View the return in the Adobe Reader and click Save As. You should be able to save the return as a pdf file.

I hope this answered your concern.

If you have further questions or concerns, please reply to this e-mail. H&R Block values you as a TaxCut customer and we look forward to serving as your tax and financial partner in the future.

Sincerely,
H&R Block TaxCut Software Support Team

If you have further questions or concerns, please reply to this e-mail. H&R Block values you as a TaxCut customer and we look forward to serving as your tax and financial partner in the future.

Sincerely,
H&R Block TaxCut Software Support Team [yes they, ever the professionals, put in a closing twice.]

I wrote back to them:
Sent: Mar 2, 2006 9:51:17 AM
Subject: RE: Send A Question from TaxCut Self-Help (#8479-41507836-7110)

Hello,
Thank you for your prompt response. [See, still very polite. Yes, I was raised to be a lady.] I cannot view the return in Adobe Reader. When I try to open the file, I get an error message that says:
Adobe Reader could not open “name*.T05” because it is either not a supported file type or because the file has been damaged (for example, it was sent as an email attachment and wasn’t correctly decoded).

I think it just can’t read it because it is in a TaxCut file type that it doesn’t recognize. I had to wait til I got home from work to try it out. And then I even downloaded the most updated version of adobe reader to be sure that it wasn’t the reason.

So, how can I open/view the return in Adobe Reader?
–my name*.

TaxCut Technical Software Support wrote:
Thank you for contacting H&R Block TaxCut Software Support.

Hello to me*, welcome to H&R Block E-mail Support.

I understand that you were unable to open or view the return in Adobe Reader. Let me help you with your concern.

Please save your file first and then convert it into a PDF format. Professional Review forms are saved in the Portable Document Format (PDF) file format. To read and print these PDF files, you will need to use Adobe� Acrobat� Reader? software.

Many computers come with this software already installed. If you do not have Adobe� Acrobat� Reader on your computer, you can download it for free at: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html. [duh, did they just not read the part where I said that I had the program on my computer already, then just downloaded the most recent version? Or, do they not understand English? Was I just not saying it right? I feel like all I’ve been doing is repeating myself.]

I wrote back:
Sent: Mar 2, 2006 8:42:15 PM
Subject: RE: Send A Question from TaxCut Self-Help (#8479-41507836-7110)

Hello,
That is the main problem. I can’t convert it (save it) as a PDF file format. How do I do this. [See, my whole “using periods when I mean to use a ques mark” comes out again. I really have to be more aware of that.] When in the TaxCut program, if I go to ‘File’, ‘Save as. . .’, there are no choices for what file format I can save or convert it to. The file is currently saved as a “T05” file format.
–me*.
(I am the daughter of my dad*, who is the person who needs this done).

TaxCut Technical Software Support wrote:
Thank you for contacting H&R Block TaxCut Software Support.

Dear me*,

I understand that you wanted information that you were unable to save your return into a Portable Document File (PDF).

I suggest you check if you are now using Adobe� Acrobat� Reader? software. You have to have this software for you to read and print these PDF files, because right now many computers come with this software already installed. [I ALREADY told them I had it.]

We apologize for all the inconvenience it has caused you in doing your taxes. It has been a pleasure assisting you. [Really? A “pleasure”?] Have a nice day.

If you have further questions or concerns, please reply to this e-mail. H&R Block values you as a TaxCut customer and we look forward to serving as your tax and financial partner in the future.

Sincerely,
H&R Block TaxCut Software Support Team

Then, I wrote:
Sent: Mar 2, 2006 8:21:29 AM
Subject: RE: Send A Question from TaxCut Self-Help (#8479-41507836-7110)

Yes, I already have Adobe Acrobat Reader (& I just upgraded so now I have the most recent version of it). [again, repeating what I’ve already said. Do they read at all?] I just want to be able to save my return as a pdf file so that it can be viewed in the Reader. I also like to save each year’s return as a pdf file on a backup disk for my security.

How do I save the return as a pdf file? Or, how do I convert a saved return into a pdf file? Adobe Reader does not recognize the file format that TaxCut uses (T05).

In previous years, I used TurboTax. W/ that program, I could simply go to “File” & “Save As. . .”, then switch the type of file from their type to “.pdf”. But this is simply not an option w/ TaxCut.

I just want to save my already completed & saved return as a pdf file. How do I do that. (again, I already have Adobe Acrobat Reader on my computer). [I threw that last part in, thinking that they could not once again suggest to me to make sure I had it.]
–me*.

TaxCut Technical Software Support wrote:
Thank you for contacting H&R Block Email Support.

Please try to export the data to a pdf file format. Export option is under the file menu option. [No, it’s not, this is a blatant lie. There is no “export” option.]

If you need further assistance, please contact us at 1-888-482-9288 and select the following options in this order: 2,3,0.

Thank you for contacting H&R Block, and we look forward to serving you in the future!

And all this has led to this final email that I just sent them. I wanted to add “Aaaauuuggghh!!!”, but that’s just not too professional:
Hello,
It’s been almost a week, & you’ve replied me with a suggestion that doesn’t exist. There is no “export” option under the file menu. Have you even ever used or tried your own software? It doesn’t exist. You can import (from last year’s return or financial info from Quicken), but there is no exporting to a pdf file format.

When 48 hours had gone by w/ no response from you, I figured that you were going to be no help to me. I see I was right. So, at the end of last week, I chatted online w/ a tech support person from TaxCut. He was very intelligent, & tried to help me in a USEFUL manner (he also didn’t make up suggestions that do not exist). He eventually (after exhausting all his resources trying to help me) told me that there is no way to save/export it to a pdf file format. TaxCut is only designed to either print the return itself or e-file the return. He did tell me that the only way I could save it to a pdf file format is to get & download a pdf convertor, which I did. I don’t know if you care.

I don’t really like that the tech support “specialists” (using that term VERY lightly) don’t really have any idea how to use their own software. I tried to find an email address to let someone else at TaxCut.com know this, but unfortunately, your website has no direct contact email addresses. Please feel free to forward this email to anyone else at your company who you feel would be interested.

No thanks,
I signed this w/ my full name.*

So, you see, I was really polite & nice in the beginning. But there’s only so much I can take. If any of y’all know someone in charge at H&R Block or TaxCut, I’d really like to get their email.

Update: ok, yesterday afternoon (3/11), I got the following email from them:

We are truly sorry for the negative experience you have had with our software support. In the future, we will strive to do a better job in assisting our customers.

And now, I do feel better. All I wanted was for someone to say “oops, my bad. So sorry about that”. And they just wouldn’t say it. I don’t care if the whole program sucks, just don’t beat around the bush about it & waste my time, & get my hopes up that it’ll work. Ya know what I’m sayin?