Posted by: David | March 15, 2009

You Owe China One Zillion Dollars

So, apparently the Premier of China is worried about the economic stability of the USA. Sheesh! What’s a zillion dollars between friends? I guess a zillion dollars would be about 50 yuan, no? I don’t know, I’m no economist. I can’t even seem to work TurboTax. Or maybe the IRS just hates me. First I tried filing with H&R Block’s TaxCut Basic, at $15, and the e-filed return bounced back 3 times. So I tried TurboTax, and $40 later, it’s the same. The IRS Robot Rejected My Return. It’s so depressing. $55 and now I have to mail the return anyway. Hmmmph. I think I’ll give my buddies at AIG a call and see where my frakkin bonus is. Oh wait I don’t have any buddies there and it looks like me and the rest of my taxpaying American friends are paying THEIR bonuses. I hope they’re able to make their yacht payments on time.

Oh well, enough of that sourpuss crapola. It’s been a nice long weekend. And the stock market did inch upwards last week. Right? Last Friday I went up to have lunch with my daughter and her friend at the hospital where they both started working as RNs recently.

I smelled somebody’s discarded cigarette butt as I walked toward TOBACCO-FREE D.H.M.C.

I got there just about noon. As I was waiting for my lunch companions I took out the camera to shoot a picture of the magnificent rotunda above the information desk. “Sir! You’re not supposed to take pictures in here.” “Oh, really?” I’ve done it before. ” … blah blah blah HIPAA regulations blah … ” “OK, no problem!” I put the camera away.

Down in the lunchroom I dropped some of my spicy curly fries on the floor. It was awful busy down there, so I picked them up and looked for a rubbish bin to toss them into. Finding none after a half minute search, I just put them back into the little white container they came in as it slid around on the lunch tray.Then my ATM card transaction got caught in lunchtime cyber traffic, so I let the cashier keep my card until it went through. That card’s going to expire soon anyway. I just wanted to sit down and eat lunch.

Oops the camera came out again.

After I ate safely disposed of the dropped fries, I offered them some. They didn’t want any, just as well. I’m disgusting like that, but upon later reflection, I reasoned that it would be hard to find a cleaner floor than that of a hospital cafeteria. And I know that we must eat a peck of dirt before we die. At least I didn’t drop the buffalo chicken wrap. It was OK. My daughter and her friend were in no rush to get back to their new-nurse study of cardiogram interpretation in the hospital’s library, so we chatted pleasantly for a good solid hour about dogs, children, work, commuting, marriage, and life. Then we said goodbye and I went on to shopping at the lovely co-op store up in Lebanon. That store has everything! Fancy smokehouse peppered bacon and kimchi.

Fancy bacon for Saturday morning’s breakfast. Cooked in nice new pan. Life is good.

I also made omelets with these oyster mushrooms my wife bought. Yummy.

Saturday was nice and sunny, but it never got over 45°F so I didn’t quite make it onto the bike. I did however take it down from the garage rafters and brought it in to clean up and lube. Then took a 2 hour sunbath in the greenhouse with some reading and dozing. Followed by the throwing and stacking of firewood until the sun began to set.

Sunday morning we just had some toast for breakfast and watched the temperature climb quickly. My wife asked me to help her get the giant bale of soilless potting mix into the greenhouse before Oliver and I head to the town transfer station. She worked on getting some of her seedlings “potted up” while I got the blue Fuji touring bike cleaned up and ready. As I’m getting the cell phone packed up for my ride I see there’s a message from my friend Bonnie about taking a ride Sunday. What an auspicious happenstance! So I took the first bike ride of the season with a couple of friends. The first ride is always a sort of shakedown cruise, and we took it pretty easy. Down Route 114 towards Henniker.

Bonnie got a cute little aeroplane ornament in her xmas stocking! See it on her handlebars?

Rick and I have not ridden together before, but we have the same riding style. Touring!

They’re waiting for me to finish photographing the Route 114 cairn. And “adjusting” themselves.

The cairn is doing great! Got through the winter just fine.

We turned back in Henniker. Bonnie had a 3:00 meeting to catch. It’s not a bad idea to cut that first ride a little short, even if you have been spinning all winter. So now it’s late Sunday afternoon, and the sun is streaming in the windows as I write this post and my wife works on the Boston Globe Sunday crossword puzzle. Dinner will be some leftovers, so we can stay just like this for a couple of hours … as Sunday evening must lead to Monday morning … back to work. At least I’m lucky enough to love my job.

And my job loves me back. Here’s my early posthumous award plaque. 🙂

Lower left blossom is dripping sap …

… onto the leaves below.

This could be a busy week at work. The students return from Spring Break and start looking for the grindstones to which they must put their noses. Sometimes their laptops need help remembering how to get to the internet on the college network, which makes more calls to our Helpdesk. This last couple of months before commencement is the busiest and craziest time of the academic year. We’re getting our summer projects lined up too. Maybe some new computers I hope!

Have you seen Windows 7 yet? This older laptop is wondering about it.

Well here you have wasted another 10 minutes scrolling through all the photos on this post, and you could have been doing something more useful like balling your mismatched socks, if that’s what people are doing with mismatched socks now. In this time the amount that you owe China has grown by another zillion dollars. I honestly don’t know how you expect to ever be able to pay that off.

Maybe we could sell something like this to China to pay them back.

It’s a genuine, made in the USA Dymo Model M-10/14 Tapewriter®. If we could convince the Chinese that they need to label things more clearly to help further their business plans along, then there’s a new market for US!! I hear they’re just crazy about learning English too. Maybe they could use the Dymo to make up their vocabulary lists.


  1. Oh my gosh the bacon you made looked so delicious! All peppered and such….mmmm 🙂

    So!?!? Don’t be usin’ bail-out money like that…just don’t…so much wrongness…sigh….

    On to brighter things…ummm…I love spicy curly fries, and I would’ve TOTALLY eaten them off the hospital floor or other floor, haha 😉

    PS: O—M– photographed the droplets of sap!!! You dirty bird, hahahha 😉

    When (and if) you buy bacon, do you inspect the packages to find the least fatty? Sometimes it takes a bit of a search. But I want the best pig meat for my family! Yummmmmm.

    Speaking of pig meat, those AIG execs and their “contractual obligations”. I think Don Corleone had similar obligations, no? I’ve decided that nobody in the whole world can actually do more than $1000 worth of “work” in an 8 hour day. So $125/hour should be the Maximum Wage, and should be paid to the people with the hardest jobs, like surgeons, presidents, and janitors.

    Would you really eat stuff off the floor Romi? That raises you 5 points in my already very high esteem! 🙂 You know I think they must’ve swabbed the floor less than a half hour before because one of the fries tasted a little soapy I think. Or maybe it was just extra spice powder. Whatever.

    Dirty Monkey, if you please.

  2. hey! it was a fabulously lovely day sunday here. I took walks and walks with the puppy. we passed no cairns, however, so I am writing to say that i am very happy you took that photo.

    HEY! Hope you had a wonderful break. I was happy to see that cairn unharmed by winter or vagabonds. Glad you liked seeing it too. It’s the best cairn ever.

  3. Thanks for giving me such a wonderful start to the workweek! I am envious of your bike ride, but look forward to biking with you in the future.

    Thank YOU Amy for your comment. I’m looking forward to biking with you too! I hope this week goes well for us partner!

  4. First, the husband just finished overseeing a remodel of the cafeteria at the hospital that he works at and he said he would never eat in there ever again…so hopefully DHMC is a little better.

    And I beg to differ on Saturday’s temp-we took the dog for a walk in Newport and it hit a balmy 53 according to the car’s temperature gauge.

    Thanks for your comment undergroundarchivist! You are the first archivist above or below ground to comment here, so welcome!

    So most people that have ever had anything to do with the “back end” of a restaurant/cafeteria/mess hall say that sort of thing. My first job was at a Burger King, where I saw it all, including my own sweat dripping into the rotary grill as I fed the raw whopper patties into the machine. Grist for the mill. Data for the immune system. I’ve eaten most of my peck of dirt. Hell, I’m on my way to the bushel mark. Go me!

    I wondered about Saturday’s temp! I think my thermometer was wrong. Sunday was definitely the warmer day though. So your begging is well allowed!

  5. Don’t you think there are only two ways to pay back China?

    1. you pay in dollars, and those can be printed.
    2. you pay in merchandise, but to do that the whole country would have to go on a 60 hours/week shift.

    I believe there is a third way. Do nothing and wait for inflation to turn those zillion dollars into thin air.

    In today’s IHT there was Bernanke saying that the most dangerous moment had been in October last year, but he still mentioned “angst” in the context of what is happening at A.I.G., “angst” being the German word that Jews use to say anxiety and it is generally well founded.

    Before I read that I had been wondering whether the US was maybe already planning to bypass the dollar, which is what was done in Germany to clean up the mess left by the WWII collapse of the mark: turn in your dollars by June 1. You’ll get dallers instead, the only means of payment officially valid after June 2.

    This AIG bonus thing is really getting traction today. I only wish it would really cause a change. These executives that think their sheer brainpower entitles them to earn ten thousand times more than people who do real work are at the core of the problem in my simplistic estimation. I propose that we have a Maximum Wage. I am not a communist! I’m just an idiot! This reminds me of one or your posts about money. Maybe we need to find a better indicator of value. The $160,000,000 in “contractually obligated” bonuses just makes me so mad. These people should be expected to make sacrifices too. If they can’t see their own way to helping out, then they should be made to see. Arrrgggh.

  6. about that Dymo label maker: i can’t imagine an analog in Chinese culture, so I am betting its utility isn’t going to be obvious….

    YAY vermonter!! YOU WIN the Dymo Model M-10/14 Tapewriter®. I shoulda known it’d be you that would point that out first. Unless cantueso does eastern languages too. The Chinese would use the English Dymo Model M-10/14 Tapewriter® because they’re so keen on practicing their English you see. The Chinese Dymo Model M-10/14 would need about 500 different character wheels now wouldn’t it? But if we made them here in Ohio, we could solve the unemployment problem now couldn’t we?

  7. That bacon looked delicious!! I haven’t bought bacon in years, but yes, I’d inspect every package in the display to get the leanest one. lol!

    My granddaughter just had her third birthday and got to specify what she wanted on her cake. Lots of purple and pink flowers AND bacon! She insisted on bacon. So there were three crisp strips of bacon sticking out of the top of her cake like candles.

    Is it sap if it drips from a blossom? Or is it nectar? (Sorry, I had to ask.)

    That’s a particularly artistic cairn, btw. Did you build it?

    No photos in the hospital? Is this what our national paranoia has come to? That’s the only reason I can think of, unless they are trying to hide something from undercover sanitation inspectors who might be examining the cafeteria floor. Yeah, sure you dropped those fries “accidentally.”

    Thank you for your entertaining comment. I would pay money for a photo of your granddaughter’s 3rd birthday cake! What a pip! Kudos to all the grownups who didn’t balk at her request!! 🙂

    Good point on the sap versus nectar. I think that its syrupy quality made me think of pine pitch which made think sap, but yes, nectar it must be. I should give a taste test! Maybe tomorrow …

    [UPDATE 3/18/09: I tasted the aloe nectar, and it is quite sweet!]

    I’m flattered to be accused of cairn building. Wasn’t me. I actually met the cairn builder in October 2007 at the end of a bike ride. Here’s the post, scroll down to the bottom to skip all the random malarkey. I believe that the current cairn is about the 5th or 6th iteration since I began noticing it.

    Please don’t out me in my undercover work. I need the bribe money! It’s better than an AIG bonus check! It’s like MAXIMUM WAGE!!! 🙂

  8. I always come to your blog on the days when you have food. Your photos add such a nice touch to you site, Levine.

    Mazel on your winning “Employer of The Year” and for diggin’ your job. I see you’re a cycling enthusiast. Man, bike riding is such a joy. Tough to do in Houston with traffic and all. IMPOSSIBLE to do in Houston in the summer….less that thou be willing to die in yonder heat and the humidity which vexes thy very soul!!!

    Happy Warming Up in ther Great Northeast. It was 78 degrees in Houston today.



    Kendrick! Thanks for visiting my humble blog! (What shall I serve for your next visit?) I wish I had 15% of the funny crap in your brain to stick on MY blog. So I use a lot of pictures instead. I’m a visual kind of guy.

    Love the bicycling. Brought me back to health from my lazy alcoholic flabulence. It’s like dream-flying, except a lot closer to the ground and on a couple of really big wheels … Love it. Heat and humidity not so much. Spring is on the way.

    Au revoir!

  9. So, Dave, open that wallet and I’ll tell you where to send the money. Check my “About” page to see the birthday cake picture, posted temporarily just for you. 🙂

    Wow PT, you shouldn’t have! But thank you. Your granddaughter is just adorable (and creative)! What a lovely cake too (nice decorating- pro job or family?), and somebody knows how to shop and cook bacon. Did birthday girl enjoy her bacon? I hope so! I hope she was on the other side of it when she blew out her candle.

    So, what do I owe and where should I send it?

    ♥ 😀

  10. mmm…bacon…actually I have never eaten bacon made at home, I always get it on the outside (is that bad?)…my mom used to cook it up when we were children, then she decided it was unhealthy so she never cooked it again….but that just means I O.D. on the bacon when I go out for breakfast, haha 😉

    It’s typically a breakfast food and it’s not bad that you don’t cook it at home. You’re a big city gal, so you probably don’t want to have to deal with the mess and the fat disposal (although, given your self-professed love of all things greasy you could probably “re-purpose” the bacon fat!) “Canadian bacon” is something else entirely. I believe we Yanks call it “ham”. My son-in-law claims to have eaten a whole pound of bacon once when he was younger. I don’t think he likes bacon any more. Another OD. 😦 Another commenter, Pied Type said (above) that her granddaughter requested bacon on her birthday cake, and temporarily posted a photo on her About page. It was adorable. That young lady is going places! Any hoo, your mom, unfortunately and AS USUAL, is absolutely right. It’s unhealthy and disgusting on so many levels. Which is why we love it. 😀

  11. The bonuses: but has it occurred to you yet that this could be muzzle money? There is something uniquely strained in how the insiders all now thought of “sacred” as a word to describe those contracts, and how the outsiders howl. And the insiders sound scared, just as the outsiders have started to feel that hey we are going to hunt them down.

    Have you read of the guy who is organizing a bus tour for the people of his town to get a look at the houses or palaces where these AIG insiders live? That was in the IHT. And that some of those AIG geeks already have armed guards in front of their homes?

    And now it is not just 165 billion, but 230 or so, according to a blog I just read.

    There could simply be a cover up to allow the insiders to fix things a little before they become public. They may have to cover up even fraud, if they calculate that the global financial system or the dollar itself are at risk.

    Oh I’ve thought all kinds of things about these people. I dream of sudden riches too, every week when I buy my lottery tickets. The insurance industry is the biggest lottery going. The sums of money these people played so arrogantly with were simply obscene. Their instruments based on so much smoke and mirrors. Our beautifully designed packaging, as seen on TV, is empty. All advertising and fury, signifying nothing.

    Oh, and I think you mean millions, not billions. The contested “bonuses” were said to be around $160 million. The recipients look to us like the last few looters leaving the burning K-Mart before the firefighters and police arrive. I wish them no harm, but think of them as gamblers who lost. Too bad, so sad. Accept your losses and walk away.

  12. The Taxcut/Turbotax thing is driving me crazy. I wonder what the e-file problem was. Argh.

    You are a much more adventurous bicyclist than I. I have a 60 degree requirement. I know; I’m a wuss.

    Oh that’s right you’re an accountant! Well both tax programs returned the same IRS rejection notification that the AGI figure from 2007 did not match. I verified this figure with the IRS on the phone, but there had been a small transcription error on last year’s 1040A which the IRS corrected and said required no action. So something is fluked up in the Great Computer I guess. No matter, after 7 rejections I mailed the return with the supplied envelope and the wrong sticker. I mailed it to myself. Yup. Wife says “Hey, they sent back our taxes!” and I think wow that was fast. Well sure it was fast. From the mailroom at work to my house in only 3 days! It was so stupid but too funny! 😀 Duh. I don’t deserve my refund! Maybe my taxes are the cause of this whole mess we’re in! 😦

    On cycling, I have a 48°F rule. I broke the rule last winter, but not this winter. After about 15 minutes of pedaling, assuming adequate clothing, you’re pretty well warmed up anyway. I’m a wuss too.

  13. Your oyster mushrooms look beautiful, and I like the looks of your riding posse, too. As for the Tapewriter…at first glance I thought you took a photo of a stapler and a bunch of old birth control pills.

    The oysters were yum. And you’ve got a good eye! Proof that really it’s wicked smaht over here since I was able to make a Tapewriter out of an old stapler and some birth control pills! Oh wait, that’s wicked retahdid! 🙂

  14. Totally wicked retahdid!

    New Hampshire talkin: ayuh!

  15. That sweat dripping into the hamburger paddy is from the first part of the Bible:

    Im Schweisse Deines Angesichtes sollst Du Dein Brot essen. You will eat your bread with the sweat of your face.

    Doesn’t it taste salty?

    Yes, it does. However, it was the customers who ate the bread with the sweat of my face. Eeewww.

  16. It is new that a full screen ad pops up when I get here from my other blog. WordPress announced that they were putting in ads, but not to be seen by regular visitors.

    Oh no! I figured that WordPress would have to do something like this eventually. Nothing is really free, is it?

  17. I thought that the business was in buying and selling “bandwidth” or similar. I pay the “provider”, and ¿doesn’t he have to pay WordPress whose computers I use every morning?

    I wish I knew how the WordPress geeks make money. Or maybe I don’t really care as long as I can keep blogging for free. But they must be making money somehow, somebody has to pay the electric bills on all those web servers of theirs.

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