Dear H&R Block: I hate you.

February.20.2007

So I thought I was being proactive. I historically wait until the last minute to do my taxes so when I started them last month using H&R Block’s online program, I figured I was way ahead of the game. Today I learned I was wrong.

Last year I used H&R Block’s competitor, TurboTax. It worked well, but this year I saw that H&R Block offered free filing for low income households (which we certainly apply for). So I went through the paces and finally wrapped up my federal return today. As I finished, I was greeted with an interesting message:

…each state filing will cost $24.95…

Great. Okay. So I’ll bite the bullet and pay up. The next screen is what really bothered me though:

…we’re sorry, we cannot create state tax filings for those who have lived in more than one state in 2005…

Alright, that sucks. I spent all this time getting my federal return together on here for two reasons; it was free and it would allow me to transfer that data to my state returns. Now that those benefits are gone, I am actually redoing my taxes using TurboTax simply on principle. I refuse to give H&R Block any money after these two surprises.

If only I had listened to Ali and His Gang…then I might not have had to endure some serious pain on Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been one to really “celebrate” a holiday as lame as Valentine’s Day, but my wife and I really went to the other extreme of enjoyment; we had dental work done.

Each of us had two appointments. For my experience I had a cleaning first, and then a filling. Really it was more than a filling. It was kind of like gutting a building and starting over. I think I have about 2% actual tooth left on that one. I was actually supposed to have 4 fillings yesterday, but instead I only had one since this one was so massive. Ugh. My jaw still hurts.

The upside of a filling is to know that it’s actually taken care of. I was to the point where I couldn’t really enjoy cold foods without discomfort, so I guess that is a plus. I just hope I can keep up the new strict dental hygiene regiment so I don’t have many more problems in the future.

Never Plan for an Easy Day

February.8.2007

It seems like all the blogs I read (including my own) got all serious yesterday, so I wanted to make sure I come up for air in my post today.

It’s funny how you can plan to have an easy day and it winds up being just the opposite. This weekend at the camp we are not expecting a big crowd by any stretch of the imagination. Probably a total of 10 people in a few cabins who are all doing their own meals.

I am certainly thankful for this break and today when I went to the office I was eager to hit the ground running and get a lot done.

As I walked in the door of the office I was greeted by 6 large boxes of new mugs for the camp store. Okay, I can put these away. It’s always fun opening boxes. No problem, right?

So then I hear someone calling for me from down in the office. A semi showed up with our new dining hall tables. Great! We need those tables! Well, it turns out it was a full length semi. For those who have never been to this camp (or probably almost any camp) full length semis are bad news. Typically our roads are so narrow and turn so sharply with trees on the edges that semis struggle to get where they need to go.

After an half-hour of back and forth, the driver realized we couldn’t get to where we need to go. Okay, we will just unload and cart them in from a distance. No problem, right?

Well, it wouldn’t be normally. As we opened the back of the trailer, the driver looked at me, swore, and then, “This truck doesn’t have a power lift. And that load is 1,200 lbs. so we can’t use the ramp.”

Okay. Problem solving. I guess we just lift each piece down, right? Well, that “we” turned out to be me and the maintenace guy here at camp. The driver “supervised” despite being “way behind schedule.”

And that brought us to noon. Then I had to get some butter and a muffin pan for a guest staying in one of the cabins. No problem, but again, just losing grip of the “easy day.”

When it was all said and done, this day was really no help in my great battle against the office work waiting for me. It’s funny how that works. I will never again plan to get a lot done in a day. Just let it happen.

Jamie and I just got done watching the highly publicized documentary An Inconvenient Truth. I had been meaning to see it for a while but apparently catching up on Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler is more important than the apparent demise of the planet.

While I greatly appreciated the message on a whole, I think Al Gore lost some validity by throwing in an assortment of political overtones. Had it been just straight facts and repercussions, I think it would have been much more accessible for the masses.

The real point of this post though is the burden I feel this movie should have on all Christians (not just environmentalist liberal sorts). As much as I agreed with Bono when he said, “How we respond to the AIDS emergency [in Africa] will describe us for posterity,” I think that there is a much larger issue here.

As Christians, we are called to be the caregivers of the oppressed, widowed and orphaned. We are called to be the wise stewards of gifts and talents. We are called to protect the creation God has give us dominion over.

It is a high bar for sure. When we are doing our best to make the most of this life and to simply try and understand the life of Christ, it can be difficult to even make the token trip to the local soup kitchen once a year. It’s no wonder the world often has a hard time differentiating Christians from non-Christians in most aspects of life.

But what if we responded to this great obligation in simple ways. What if we were more careful about the resources we used? What if we didn’t automatically vote Republican on all issues simply because we once were told it was synonymous with Christian? What if we didn’t just do a once a year fund drive for AIDS in Africa, but did a rolling collection that was always reemphasized with achievable goals?

It’s a lot of what-ifs, and I know I have a lot of work to do in my own personal life. I guess this movie just started me questioning if God would really be pleased with what He sees from me here on earth and if there is something more I can do to glorify Him more.

-8 degrees F

February.3.2007

You read that headline correctly. It is currently -8 degrees F here. That is without windchill. I actually read with the windchill we were down to -22 this afternoon. On a weekend when we have about 80 people here at camp, it made things interesting. At the end of today, we had to call the tow company for 3 separate cars that were dead in their tracks. So far we haven’t had any cabin freeze-ups (knock on wood) but we aren’t out of the woods yet. Lots more cold through Wednesday. Fun.

You may also notice yet another addition to the sidebar on the right (the Nick’s shared items widget). While it might look like just generic stories are being posted over there, it is actually controlled by what I think is worth a look. Now that I use Google Reader for my RSS feeds, I can choose what I think warrants the attention of others or that I find interesting and have them show up in that column. Kind of a neat addition I think.