Thursday, July 21, 2011


I attended a karate class tonight, and I really enjoyed it!  It's something I've wanted to try for a long time.  I took a self-defense class in college, but really didn't feel like I came away with a lot.  My new friend Javad (Persian descent) is a black belt, and he recently moved to the area with his family (wife and three young sons) and they started attending my church.  He started a class with some of the people in our church, and I decided to go check it out.  I love exploring the potential of new hobbies, and having the mere time to do so.


In so many areas of my life, I am all about following consistent procedures. I understand that a breakdown in controls is how error or fraud occurs, not just in an audit sense, but in life. That’s what so many T.V. shows and movies are based upon. The hero or heroine just needs to figure out the weak link in the impenetrable wall of the enemy to accomplish their mission (e.g. one security guard never missing his favorite T.V. show from 7:30 to 8).

But yet I hate check-in procedures with a deep and utter loathing from my soul. I hate having to sign my name, show a badge, or otherwise yield to a receptionist or security guard. I carry address labels to expedite paperwork at doctor’s offices. As an auditor, I tried to make friends with the receptionists at all my clients to avoid repetitive daily sign-ins, and it worked most of the time. At my current job, we have to show a badge to enter the company lot. There’s some bad pride in me that says I have worked hard enough to be elevated to such a level that I shouldn’t have to bother with this menial admin work or submit to someone else.

I'm a work in progress.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What Can I Do?

I don’t ask that resignedly, I ask it seriously.


As part of my continuing education for my CPA license, I’m taking a leadership course with 15 other CPA’s in Fresno.  We meet six times, on a monthly basis, to hear a lecture, discuss it, brainstorm, and network.  I’m really enjoying it.


Next week’s session is on ethics.  I just received the Powerpoint.  Slide 2 is of a Craigslist ad from someone trying to get their CPA license, but doesn’t have time to take the California-required ethics exam.  He was looking to pay someone to take it for him.  I feel physically ill at the thought of this.


Being fair, I do remember the plight of that workload and trying to find time to study.  Some of the fault should be on the firms putting so much pressure on employees.  But it’s always a choice for the employee of whether to fold or to stand up and insist on more reasonable accommodations at work.


I want to do something about this.  I want to see if I could be involved in helping the state catch these cheaters.  It would be very difficult to do if they’re clever.  And I question what the consequences should be.  Part of me wants to say permanent blacklisting from becoming a CPA.  Another part wants to show some grace in what may have been one bad choice in a weak moment rather than a pattern of such behavior, and to extend a non-permanent penalty such as a fine and a deferral of one’s license (three years until being able to make any further steps toward licensure).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Time Down South

I am so grateful to still get to spend time down in Orange County.  That was something I always appreciated about my summers at D&T.  Things usually slowed down that I could take my vacation in June and get some concentrated time down there with family and friends.  I gave up a lot of vacation time transitioning to NRC (from five weeks to two) and was worried about losing flexibility to make weekend trips out of town, too.

But thankfully, the flexibility is there in spades.  In three months of employment, I've made three trips down there.  Usually I decide to come down with less than 24 hours notice.  I think that spontaneity is the balance to my otherwise very structured life.  Thankfully my family puts up with it.

Last weekend, I left work at noon and got on the road.  I'm listening to The Chronicles of Narnia radio theatre productions from Focus on the Family.  Overall, I love them, but the volume can vary dramatically, so I keep my hand near the volume dial for the not-so-lovely shifts from whispering dialogue to screaming attacks.  I finished up The Horse and His Boy on the trip down, mixed in with some quiet reflection time and so radio time.

Many of my friends were at the VBC college camping trip, and the church softball team was in danger of forfeiture.  So I volunteered my services.  I was terrible, but I had fun, and thankfully I wasn't the sole reason we lost so miserably.  We were playing the best team in the league that night.

The game was called early because of the score disparity, so I dashed over to my parent's church for their Friday night service to hear the end of the Thailand missionary speaker's talk.  Andy and Tina are a really neat couple; I got to talk to them afterward.  Andy is blind, they just had their first child, and they just planted a church in Bangkok.

On Saturday morning, I went to help with Second Harvest at VBC, where we bag and distribute groceries to needy families in the community.  I love being so involved in that church.  I even have a printed name tag since I make about two or three of these monthly service opportunities each year.

My sister Joy is home from college for the summer, so I'm really trying to take some time for us to spend together.  She just got hiking boots and is very excited about it, so we went on a hike on Saturday afternoon.  We were aiming for Crystal Cove, but I missed our turn-off, so I just decided to stop at a trailhead off the road we were on.  It ended up being an awesome 3.5-mile hike.  I can't believe how much Joy is maturing.  It's still hard for me not to see her as 10 sometimes, because that's how old she was when I moved to Fresno.

I showered when we got home, got some admin stuff done on my laptop, and played a quick round of Hand and Foot with Mom and Joy.

I invited myself over to Jacob and Sarah's house for dinner.  I always enjoy getting to see them and talk with them.  Jacob is one of my closer guy friends, and I like what I see in their marriage as they work together.  And now that they have an adorable baby, there's even more reason to spend time with them.  On my last two visits I haven't been able to make much time with them because of the crazy scheduling that my trips here always involves.  Sarah is an amazing cook, serving BBQ'd chicken and fried rice that night.  Afterward they introduced me to a new game "Small World,"  which reminded me of a combination of Risk, Munchkin and Puerto Rico.  I loved it!  After the game, I kept them up way too late as I do with so many of my friends, just talking about life stuff.

Fred gave a sermon on John the Baptist and the prophecies preceding his arrival at VBC on Sunday.  I enjoyed it, but had been disappointed to realize I miscalculated the Guatemala missions team trip report.  But I'm not coming down next weekend with Carmageddon happening (the 405 will be closed).  After church I went to the Transitions Sunday School class.  It was created for the demographic of parents with children leaving or having left the nest, but somehow I fit better there than in the 20-somethings group.  I never did completely gel with peers growing up.  I was almost always with people either younger or older than myself.

Lunch with the dynasty after church, and then back to Mom and Dad's to pack.  This trip I cleaned out almost all the residual stuff I had there (only one file cabinet drawer left).  Mainly books that I'll probably try to sell at our neighborhood garage sale in September, but I did fill five banker boxes.

Then I drove out to Century city to see my friend Daniel.  We seem to be getting a good routine down.  His place is a nice stop on my way out of town; I stopped here on my last trip down on my way home, too.  This time we went for a run.  His pace is a little faster than mine, but I needed a running buddy and resolved to keep up.  Then I learned he'd been slacking off in his running and wasn't prepared for nearly the distance I was hoping for.  We met in the middle at 4 miles.  With the hills I wasn't accustomed to (central Fresno really doesn't have any), and his pace, I got a great workout out of it, and the distance was a push for him.  Then we grabbed dinner, watched a couple episodes of Bones, and I got on the road for home.  Crawled into my bed at 2 a.m.

Another awesome weekend.  I love my life.  Now if I just had time to sleep...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July

This was a good one.  I love this holiday!

Started Monday with a six-mile run with Alicia.  I needed to start building distance for marathon training.  We slept in a little too long, though, because running at 7:30 meant finishing our run in 84-degree weather.  We were dying, but we did it.

Then I came home, took a nice cold shower, and laid down to watch a movie.  One of the Big Lots/Wal-Mart bargain bins ones that was nice, but I probably wouldn’t watch again, so I moved it to the garage sale closet.

I set out some butter to soften and frozen bananas to thaw and turned on my computer.  I caught up on all my Quicken work.  It’s amazing how getting that done always makes me feel more relaxed.

Then back to the kitchen to whip up some banana bread to take over to Tiffany’s for the BBQ.  A few of the families in the church that I play Spades with were getting together later in the afternoon.  I also invited Todd, Alicia and the boys to come hang out since there would be some other kids their age.  It was a great afternoon and evening of fellowship.  The food was awesome, and I always enjoy getting to throw kids around in the pool.  I got a few scrapes on my foot and hand from the rough pool surface, though.

Once it got dark, we headed out front for the fireworks with Tiffany’s neighbors.  As I’ve gotten older, I find myself less and less interested in fireworks.  Cole and Kyle climbed in my lap, and we just watched most of them.  We had lots of sparklers, though, and I even did a couple.  Very unpleasant to step barefoot on a live spark and singe the bottom of your foot.  OUCH!  It was painful to have my sandals on because of the scrape from the pool on top of my foot, and painful to be without them because of the burn under my foot.

Finished the night with a few rounds of spoons with Katie, Tiffany and her son Kyle.  Apparently Tiffany has never lost this game, but she lost a few rounds that night.  I could tell that she was really tired.

A wonderful holiday.  Friends make all the difference in the world. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bass Lake

I’m spending part of the 4th of July weekend up at Bass Lake with my friend Steve, who owns a cabin up here.  In my nine years of living in the Central Valley, I have never been to Bass Lake before now.  I’ve been very close and driven past it several times, but never actually here.

I drove up Friday afternoon (took a wrong turn, big surprise).  Steve showed me the cabin and gave me a tour of the area.  Fascinating history and background.  As a thank you for sharing his cabin with me for the weekend, I took Steve to dinner at one of his local haunts, Ducey’s.

Steve and his wife Lorraine are about my parents’ age.  Steve and Lorraine have a wonderful marriage, but they don’t spend much time together these days.  Steve loves the idyllic life up at Bass Lake, but Lorraine is a city girl.  She stays mainly at their home in Orange County, while he comes up here nearly every weekend (he only works three/four day-weeks).  I don’t know how he stomachs the 300-mile one-way trips so often.  Neither one expects the other to change to their desired way of life.

As a family, they’ve vacationed up here for 40 years for about a week or so each summer, but only found this cabin to buy a year and a half ago.  It’s a major fixer-upper, but Steve is a former contractor, and our good friend Fred from church is a former electrician and loves to come us here and help him out from time to time.  Steve’s taken a unique approach to this cabin.  He deliberately stopped mentally framing it as a project, but as a hobby.  Some weekends, he’ll get a lot done.  Other weekends, he’ll just relax.  He does it as he wants to.

Bass Lake is an interesting place.  I can’t completely describe the appeal, but this is the first place I can say I have ever really wanted to buy a vacation home.  There’s something to it only being an hour away from home, only at 3,500 feet elevation, not feeling overcrowded (even for a holiday weekend, it’s not too packed with people).  I would actually come up and enjoy it multiple times through the summer and sporadically the rest of the year.  Hume Lake is two hours away, and those cabins are on a 99-year lease, not permanent ownership.  I need it close to be motivated to go often.  Steve even showed me a place near his that’s for sale (a lot of places are for sale in this economy).  Hmmm.

I’m probably going home tonight (Saturday) for church tomorrow, but am toying with coming up for the 4th fireworks with Amy and Stephanie.  Steve says it’s an incredible show, but traffic is a nightmare trying to get out when it’s over.