Archive for the ‘Irritations’ Category

Tax Day: apply for an extension

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

So I spent last evening trying to e-file for an extension to complete my Federal taxes.  I am just a teensy bit disorganized, and haven’t gotten my accountant all the information needed to prepare them.  She suggested I file for an extension, saying “it only takes a minute…”  So I went on line to the web site recommended by the IRS for e-filing, and proceeded to attempt to file for an extension.  Now of course we all know that people who file for an extension have a reason to file for an extension.  In my case, it was because I hadn’t completed it. Big surprise there, eh? Guess what?  The form used to apply for an extension requires that you figure out what your tax liability is, how much you have paid over the year, and what you owe.  Basically they want you to compute your taxes in order to file for an extension.  Hello?  IRS?  Are you insane?  I need an extension to finish doing my taxes!!!  If I have to finish my taxes in order to file for an extension, I don’t really need the extension, now do I? Jeesh.

Anyway, I’m on this web site trying to fill out a form to apply for an extension and it says I need either my 2008 AGI or e-file PIN, or my 2009 e-file PIN. So I went back to the IRS Website to apply for a 2009 PIN, having no idea of my 2008 AGI or PIN, and they had an option to call a special 800 number for a PIN, which is what I did.  After a few minutes of entering bits of info that anyone with a tiny bit of knowledge could obtain from the internet I was all set with my new PIN. Taking it back to the first site I continued to enter the data they need to process my extension.  It didn’t work. According to the IRS, a person can file for an extension using specific pieces of information on the correct form.  I had the information and entered it on the form, but the web site went into a spiral of death (yet tried to keep me entertained) while attempting to calculate what I owed. Now I understand that computers are really dumb, and that they only know zeros and ones, but really, all the thing had to do was subtract one 5 digit number from another, and enter the remainder (or zero, whichever is larger) into a final box on the form.  Simple huh? Apparently not. After ten minutes I had to use the task manager to shut down the instance of IE. I ended up writing an email to my accountant asking her if she could help me get it done, or if I needed to print out the form and send it in using snail mail.  the next day (today) she wrote me back saying “Oh, sorry I didn’t make that clear, I’ve already filed for an extension in your stead, you don’t need to do anything.”  Feh.   What a waste.

Car Wash

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Always the slacker, I once picked up a product that promised to “make washing my car as easy as spraying it a couple of times”. It was a plastic bottle of super concentrated sudsy stuff with an integral mixer/sprayer selector that you attach to your hose and use to wash your car. You set it to “wash”, point it at the car, and it mixes the soap with the water and sudsifies the vehicle, then you set it to “rinse” and it sprays plain water. Sort of like a power washer without the power. Simple, huh? Except the mixing was a little messed up, at first the mixture was heavy on the soap, and then when the soap reservoir was a little bit depleted, the soap concentration fell off big time. At any rate, once I got it connected to my hose and started trying to wash my car with it, there were more pressing issues than merely poor control of soap concentration. To be specific, the whole device kept falling off the hose! I mean the internal threads on the device were a little too large so when you screwed a hose into it tight enough to seal against water leakage, the slightest movement of the device (as in moving it to spray the vehicle) would cause the hose to pop out. Then you had to go chase down the hose and shut it off to re-thread it in there. It didn’t really matter at that time because by then the soap was all gone, the reservoir had leaked when the thing fell off the hose, and the selector switch was really difficult to operate under pressure so I couldn’t get the spray mode selected in order to rinse off the car. I gave up and washed the car by hand. When I got finished, I called the company to complain, and they were very nice about it. They apologized for my troubles, and they sent me a coupon for another one- free! Later I received a letter from the company asking me to give them a call and do a customer satisfaction survey. When I called again they asked me if I was satisfied with their resolution of my problem. I said “Well, I did get a coupon for a free replacement. Did your R&D department modify the thing so that it wouldn’t pop off the hose?”  They told me no.  Hmm. “Then how can you expect me to be satisfied with your resolution of my problem? If the car washer is just the same as it was before, What makes you think I won’t have the same trouble I had the first time?”  Well, they hemmed and hawed, but weren’t able to provide a reasonable explanation. “But we gave you a free one? Why aren’t you satisfied?”  Duh.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

I’m a baker. I especially enjoy baking dessert. Recently I started making my own frosting. I used to just buy the stuff in the plastic tubs and spread it around, but I find the better frosting is what you make yourself. One of the first experiences that brought me to this new level of bake-ification was when I needed cream cheese frosting. I bought a tub of a famous brand of cream cheese frosting. Actually I believe it was cream cheese flavored frosting. Whatever, I expected it to taste something like cream cheese. It didn’t. At all. I mean it was just this sweet whitish substance with no real flavor, not cream cheese or anything else I could identify. It was disgusting. then I saw on the label that I could make comments or ask questions. Never one to shy away from an unwanted task, I took the plunge. The person who received my call had me explain what I had purchased, and what I thought was wrong with it, and then she said something I’ll never forget: “Well sir, it isn’t supposed to taste like cream cheese.”

Wait… What? I said: “Ok, uh, the label says it’s cream cheese flavored frosting. Maybe you can tell me what it is supposed to taste like. I kind of figured that cream cheese frosting would taste something like cream cheese.”

Apparently I sounded a little too irate for her to explain what it should taste like, because she took my name and address and said they’d mail me a coupon for a free tub of frosting. Any flavor.

Lemon Juice

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

OK, I like lemon in my tea. Is that so bad? Unfortunately, in order to put the lemon in the tea I now I have to supply myself with lemon juice. I don’t have a lemon tree. Well, I do but it’s at my rental and I’m pretty sure my tenant wouldn’t want me going over to his house to get lemons from his back yard. I mean he said he’d be happy to have me get the lemons from the tree because there are plenty and he doesn’t use them, but I think he was just giving me lip service and doesn’t want me anywhere near his house. But we’re really getting away from the topic, so back to the lemon juice. If you don’t have a source of lemons, you need to buy lemon juice at the grocery store. Go ahead, pick up some lemon juice. I’ll wait. Got it? Now, read the ingredients. See that line about lemon oil? That’s not lemon juice. It’s a bitter oil from the lemon peel. They mix in lemon juice, water and lemon oil to make this concoction, and then they try to pass it off as lemon juice. I got some that said 100% lemon juice on the front, but the back had a list of ingredients, one of which was lemon oil. Hey, it’s a bitter oil! It makes the lemon juice bitter. One time I wrote to the email address of one of the bigger brands (think Real…) saying that I thought it was a shame that they had to advertise that it was 100% juice and that they put so much lemon oil in there it made the lemon juice bitter. they replied with an apologetic missive that stated: “We’re sorry you don’t like the lemon oil in our lemon juice. We’ll send your comments to our marketing department.” The marketing department? Hello? How about the research and development department? Wouldn’t the guys who make the product want to know that it sucks? What are they gonna do over in marketing, try to figure out how to label it so I won’t mind the bitter taste of the product? I’m seeing the memo now: “Try to draw attention away from the fact that our lemon juice is bitter and doesn’t taste at all like actual lemon juice.”


Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx

Monday, January 12th, 2009

OK, this has got me steamed. I bought this new Garmin handheld GPS and part of the reason I selected it was for the expansion capability. I mean the thing comes with a 64 meg micro SD card, a software CD and a USB cable, so one would reasonably expect that they could connect to a web site, download map data, and then connect the GPS device to the computer using the supplied cable and download the map data to the supplied memory card. Am I wrong? Apparently yes. The software, when you read the fine print on the envelope it comes in, is ‘…not able to download additional maps to any Garmin GPS…’ Ok, fine so how do I download the maps to my device? Well, it’s like this: first you have to buy the map data, either on a DVD or CD and have them ship it to you, or you have to buy it on a micro SD card, and have them ship it to you. did I mention the key words? Yes, I did. You may have caught them, I wrote them twice for you. I’ll recap: “and have them ship it to you” Right. Garmin has decided that you can’t download the map data from the internet and then download it to your GPS. Ok, my first question is “Why not?” Second question: “Why do they include a micro SD card with the device?” So I wanted to use the thing tomorrow, but I can’t get the map data I need, even though the infrastructure necessary to let me give Garmin my money right now, get the map data right now and load it onto my device is in place and ready with nothing to do. How irritating!