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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Second Rate

I was reading a short little piece on whether it is a good practice to give everyone a prize in competitive sports - so no one feels like they lost and subscribing to the theory that "everyone is a winner" - we have happily destroyed an entire generation with this, havent' we? A friend of mine once said that we have raised a generation of  non-motivated, directionless adults - and she's right. And no, not everyone is in this group, but there's far more then there should be. We spent all of our time telling them that they were all winners, that they should never settle - greatness was theirs. But we forgot one important thing that my generation knew - how to get there or at least how to try. And that it's very ok not to the best, you can be second or even third in line and survive quite well. 

Making everyone a winner takes the motivation out, doesn't it? That's why Russia's socialism fell, why should I bust my ass going to college and working my way up when the house cleaner down the road is equal to me? Why bother?  So we have a generation that is content to just survive, if I can't be the best why put forth the effort? I went back to nursing school as an adult and I have to say, having to pay for my classes to start was a good motivator. I had been out of school for years so did not anticipate how hard it would be, I got a D in my first A& P class - the first and last D I got. And it was not because I didn't want to suceed , I just did not have enough organization or drive. But that failure was my motivation - I realized I either had to put foot to ass or go back to being a nurse's aide. I did not like failing, I didn't like everyone knowing I had failed - but I didn't give up either. My failure made me want it more and it gave me the drive to go back and stop fooling around. It became the Important Thing, the first thing I HAD to do, not one more thing. And that motivation is why  I made of one 88 seats out of over 900 applicants - we can't all be first but that doesn't mean we don't try.

And am I great nurse? Nope, I'm a good nurse and I'm actually more skilled at some things then others. But I AM a nurse - I graduated as one and I earn my living that way. And if I'm being honest - I realize I'm not a great nurse because I don't want to devote that much time to climbing up the ladder. And that's very ok, because there can only be one chief and the person that's willing to devote that much time and effort certainly deserves it. And that's why children should not all get a trophy - only the winners should get one. That does not mean we should make a child - or even an adult feel less worthy because they did not win. It should be a motivation to work hard to improve and try to win - and the trying is what we should also reward. And maybe, just maybe reinforce that it's ok not to be top of your field - it's a win if you can come home every day knowing you did a good job and you did your personal best - I'm not always a winner but I'm always doing pretty darn good and most days, that's more than enough for me.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Calling On The Telephone

So - I've had Sprint for a couple of years or so, it was kind of sketchy but since I live In The Burmuda Triangle Of Lost Calls it was not unexpected. But over the past year it has gotten worse and worse to the point every call was dropped and there was a good 30 mile stretch on the way to work that I had no service at all. My phone was almost paid off so I started looking for a new service. First up to bat was Verizon which is near my office. When I pulled into the parking lot I passed a couple - the guy was loudly saying things like "rip off". "overcharged"...not a good sign. Didn't have to wait too long, that was good - but oh the price! By the time we got to a 5 GB plan with a middle of the road phone it was about $130 a month. Then I asked if that was with the taxes, charges, etc... why no, it was not. Adding that in - $160 which made it become clear why that man was yelling in the parking lot. Next!

Next up was T Mobile - they have a snappy little kiosk in the middle of the mall. It's all pink and white with all sorts of fun phones. I had them check first to see if I would have service, they said it would not be great, but it would work. I needed my account number so I went over to the Sprint store, the rep there was very rude and snarky. He was all "you'll be back - you'll see!" - I have to say even if I did come back  it would not be to that store just because the guy was a jerk. Anyhow, Igot my account number and signed up - good plan, a swanky phone with a stylus so I could poke at it like I was doing something Serious and Professional. Sadly, it was not to be. Since I live in the Burmuda Triangle Of Lost  Calls I expect a fair amount of crappy cell service but I had gone from Crappy to Zilcho. I have to say when I called the second customer service guy he advised me to look for another service, he was apologetic but he said these problems would be ongoing. I was sorry, it was a really good company. They were fine about my stopping the services and returned all my money. Next!

We went to A T & T in Morgantown, they were great. Price is good, phone is fun, AND we added a second line so David has a Gear2 which is like a Dick Tracy phone but better. Its a phone/watch/internet/fitbit and he's been happily playing with it since he got it. It's also only an extra ten dollars a month. We also signed up for Direct TVand at some point they threw in a tablet just for the hell of it. So the phone issue is solved and for the first time since we've moved here I have cell service. On my cell phone. At my house. Third time really must be the charm.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

H & R Block Saga

So, I had mentioned awhile ago that H & R Block still had our taxes - but let me start at the beginning. David for some reason had been late in getting our taxes together this year and he was not crazy about our accountant in WV. I had suggested he go to a friend's nephew that is a CPA but he made the Executive Decision to go to H & R Block in Waynesburg - that was back in April. When he went down with all of our paperwork he was told this was above what they usually do so he would be charged extra. "Extra" was a total of FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY SEVEN DOLLARS. But he was a desperate man so he left them there. They filed for an extension which we though they would, but then we waited. And waited. They finally ponied them up weeks later, David signed and sent them off.
Now, we sold a home in WV last year and they have these weird tax laws in which they take it out, then give it back when you file because you don't live in WV. And it takes for-ev-er, you can't get mad because then they "lose" your paperwork or just won't talk to you. So we waited, waited, then David called - turned out that H & R Block had filled out the wrong forms. David went down and the woman that owns the business looked over the taxes that had been filed - and let David know they had ALL been done incorrectly. That we did not get back what we should have but also, because the idiot she had let do our taxes didn't know what she was doing, we would get flattened next year because she had somehow filed us has having rental instead of selling a house. The "accountant" was now hiding from her phone and was AWOL.
The owner assured us they would get them fixed by the following week and that's when David was off to LI - he came back and they weren't done but we were assured they had two people working on it.
Did you know that H & R Block does not hire accountants or CPAs? I didn't know that either until I went to look up the owner's CPA license - she doesn't have one! H &R Block gives them a course in taxes and  that's it. Apparently your hamster could pass it given the experience we had. Anyhoo, David called the next week and now they are not returning our calls - or our tax forms or our money. Three weeks down the road they finally redid the WV forms - and had not still figured out how to fix our taxes. A MONTH at this point had passed and I told David just to go get them - I mean would you actually want someone that could not figure out what to do after a month fixing your taxes?? Me neither! David went to get them and they are now at a real CPA's office to be fixed.
If you're wondering we did get our money back - David called the corporate office as we had no other choice and a full refund came in the mail, after 4 months of inept attempts at doing our taxes, not to mention the aggravation and trips down to their office. Anyone considering going to H & R Block I would suggest you either get Turbo Tax if your taxes are run of the mill or go to REAL accountant, you'll save yourself time and aggravation, not to mention money. And no, we still have not gotten our money back from WV.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

End Of An Era.

I have often found as I got past my forties it was a bit odd that I still had grandparents. Most people say their final farewells as they enter their 20's or 30's - but my grandfather Huecker passed away when I had children, my grandmother Carter left us quite a few years later, Grandpa Carter in 2008 and just this morning my last remaining Grandmother - Grandma Henderickson. To say she was a character was putting it mildly, we certainly went around.  Honestly, she drove me crazy at times, but some of her antics (and wildly politically incorrect views) are legendary. She was 4'11" on a good day which is how I became Julia - since I towered over her Little Julie just stopped fitting, but grandma was fierce despite her size. My mother once told me that when she was married to Grandpa Huecker they were out at a bar and some man insulted Grandpa. Since he had just had surgery she invited the man to step outside and from what I understand they had to pull her off him as she was whacking his head on the sidewalk. I remember the advice she gave me once - always do your dishes and your house will look clean, always wash your face before you go to bed and if you get in a fight with someone bigger than you get them on the ground - because once you're on the ground everyone is the same size. I remember this because I got in trouble in an English class for using this as "the most useful advice anyone has ever given you" (the teacher was sure I had made it up as she could not believe anyone's grandmother would say that to them!). 
She was a very social person, Elks Club, Bingo - she loved it.  Her opinions were strong, wildly incorrect at times and often made you wish she would lower her voice - but when you talked to another family member about her latest exploit, they could always top you. As I grew up and older we grew apart - she did not like the man I married and was quite verbal about it at times. But that was grandma. Moving away didn't help, she went into a nursing home after losing her sight and even though I saw her on my infrequent visits home, Christmas cards, distance moved me further. I do not speak to my father's family, we simply do not get along. There have been harsh words in the past on both sides - I take full responsibility for what I've said and always had, but some fences do not need to be mended, do they? My father asked me this morning if I would be coming home for the funeral and I told him no, it would be uncomfortable for me and I think other people would be too, it would be pointless. I'm amazed she made it to 99, that was quite a feat in itself, but Grandma always did know how to make an entrance - and an exit. And she certainly did give us all something to talk about. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Old Friends

One of my best friends had a family reunion last weekend which weirdly was near me. I find it a little weird because as everyone knows I live in The Middle Of Nowhere and yet two of my best friends have family in the area. Now, Kim and I have know each other for most of our lives - we knew of each other for years as it was a small town. But then we became best friends when I was 16 and she was 14 (? it was around there) We officially  met at a slumber party thrown by Scary Ann who's mother encouraged drinking, smoking and boys. Nope, not kidding - she would buy the booze, we all smoked of course and if boys came by, well, she didn't see a thing. We thought she was perfect. (now she would be on probation). Anyhoo, I met Kim on a fold out couch and from the moment we started talking, that was it. I think I talked to her for two weeks straight.. After I met her she introduced me to her two best friends, then there were four of us. (Nancy joined the group a little later). And that was it - we have over the years changed the configuration, we've argued, laughed and supported each other through distance and time.  

Kim actually moved out of town when she was 18 and I was 20, she had gotten married and went to live in Virginia. She and Stephen came up quite often the first year, but then as they got used to being away from home, it became less and less. But we never lost contact - it has been years of rare visits, letters, phone calls, now texting, emails and Facebook. You do not have to be physically close to be a best friend, some people do not realize that - you just need to love that person forever and keep in touch. I had not seen Kim for years but when I arrived at the hotel she was in the hall waiting for me. There is never any awkwardness, we pick up right from where we left off. We use our time together wisely and we talk. We talk as if we will never see each other again, and we laugh all the time because we really are funnier together. And we are funny, no one makes me laugh as hard as my best friends do, it is crying, being asked to leave the restaurant kind of laughing. 
In one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies one of the character Will becomes cursed to only come onshore one day every ten years - his beloved Elizabeth makes the choice to go ahead and stay with him and at the end of the movie she is standing on the beach ten years later waiting for his ship to appear. I'm sure a lot of people found that sad and unfair - one day every ten years, how could you do that? But you can - because when that day happens all the waiting falls away - and then you have that day forever.