Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Auditors

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Being an accountant for many years, I have worked with a variety of auditors. Most have been eager to learn from me about the livestock industry, while a few have wanted to teach me a thing or two. At the company where I work, this week begins our annual auditing process. We will test, review, document and walk through almost every aspect of our accounting process between now and the time we release our annual financial reports early next year, and maybe even beyond.

“The Auditors,” as we fondly refer to them, came to town this week for their annual inventory observation. For you non-accounting types, “inventory observation” is when brand new auditors right out of college get to put their education to the test by counting stuff. At this company, that involves counting stuff in barns. So I always tell the auditors that when counting livestock, you count the number of hooves and then divide by 4, and if the result does not come out even, you round-up.

This year, however, the first big test for these new auditors was not counting; their big test was just getting here. If you have ever been to Guymon Oklahoma, then you know that the terrain is flat, there are no trees, and you can literally see for miles. If you get lost here, you will know it. “The Auditors” knew they had made a wrong turn. For those unfamiliar with accounting jargon, “wrong turn” is an auditor’s euphemism for “I’m lost.”

While lost somewhere on a dirt road in the Panhandle of Oklahoma, “The Auditors” drove over a big rock in the middle of the road and blew out a tire. I could not make this stuff up. Believe me.

Retelling of their mishap the Senior Auditor mentioned that there were five lug nuts on the tire, but only three holding the spare. I was sure that difference must be within the acceptable margin of error, but I kept it to myself thinking I might want to use that explanation myself later on in the week. Actually, the number of lug nuts had nothing to do with accounting or inventory observation at all. The reason the Senior Auditor was so keen on the lug nut count is that, as the lead auditor, her role was to hold the lug nuts while the guys changed the tire.

But really, switching left and right around could happen to anyone. Plus, it was actually the GPS that told “The Auditors” to make that mistaken turn. As they might say in the audit world, this “deficiency” goes to the GPS. So let me just add a little friendly advice for all those auditors who have ever gotten lost on their way to a field audit, or who ever turned around their left from right, do not trust the GPS, and…

The debits go by the window, the credits by the door.

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Can you hear me now?

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About a year ago, Verizon bought out Alltel in my market area. I was very excited about the change because Verizon offered a Smartphone I had wanted that was not available from Alltel. Shortly after the cell provider switch, everyone in the family had to get a new cell phone. A year later I am still thrilled with my new phone, and except for some weak coverage areas on campus where the kids go to school, everyone is pleased with their new phones. Although my wife may need a new battery, as her talk-time never seems to be very good.

Exactly one month ago, I received a text message from Verizon telling me that, on September 25, my voice mail would change over from Alltel to Verizon and I’d need to activate my new voice mail at that time. I did not even realize my voice mail was still on Alltel, but I made a mental note of it.

A few weeks ago, I received an urgent letter from Verizon that read, “Please Read – Action Required – All Voice Mail Users On Your Account.” The letter explained, “Please set up your new voice mail boxes on September 25th. Until your voice mail boxes are set up, your callers will hear a standard greeting.” I sat the letter aside for future reference.

Today, the big voice mail change over day had finally arrived, so I got out my letter and carefully read the set up instructions. I believe it is always beneficial when a company communicates changes, so there are no surprises. Good communication helps manage customer expectations, and Verizon communicated these changes exceedingly well, so I should have known what to expect. Not.

When I called in, as I expected, I heard some automated set up prompts as described in all the mass communications I had received over the last month. What I did not expect, was to hear those set up prompts in Spanish. I had received a text message a month ago in English, then a letter a few weeks ago in English. Moreover, my old Alltel mailbox was in English, and I had read the new mailbox instructions online at Verizon Wireless, in English. So, the Spanish prompts did catch me a little off guard. After regaining my composure and repeating the only Spanish that I know, “no hablo español,” finally an English-speaking computer voice came on and said those four little words we all love to hear, “press 1 for English.”

¿Puedes oírme ahora?

Willy Wonka

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"Everlasting Gobstoppers"

  

Guymon Oklahoma refers to itself as the cowboy capital of the world, but Guymon also has a nice little community theatre that puts on three or four shows a year. Last evening my wife and I decided to attend the Guymon Community Theatre musical production of Willy Wonka. Right after we sat down I noticed an unusually hyperactive child sitting, standing and jumping all around only a few seats to my left with only empty seats between us. So I’m thinking to myself, “Self, why is it that whenever I come to the theatre the loudest most obnoxious kid in the house sits either right behind me, kicking the back of my seat, or the kid sits in my row right between his oblivious parent and me?” The good news was that there was not a child wearing cowboy boots seated right behind me, nor an adult wearing a ten-gallon cowboy hat seated directly in front of me, and those empty seats to my left could fill in before curtain time.  

As I sat waiting for the show to begin, I thought back on the time a few years ago when I was talking to a business acquaintance about a show I had gone to see at the theatre. He said he did not like going to the theatre himself, and although his wife used to attend, she was never going back to that theatre again. Thinking that perhaps she had grown tired of kids and cowboy hats, I was curious to know why. So I asked. It turns out that some guy in the seat directly in front of her had turned around during the performance and glared at her. This upset her so much that she and her son moved to different seats during intermission, and determined never to set foot in that theatre again. I just had to know more, so I asked him. Had his son been unintentionally kicking the back of this poor man’s chair, slurping air out of the bottom of his empty coke cup with a straw, or something like that which might explain this man’s angry glance. He was confident that his son was too old for behavior like that, so that could not have been the cause; that guy was just being rude. He went on to tell me that after his wife changed seats that the flash photography she was taking turned out much better. Upon learning all of these facts, I agreed with him that his son was far too old not to know how to behave in the theatre during a live performance. Of course, I truly am quite certain that this man’s son was well behaved.  

Then just before curtain time, the empty seats finally filled in with theatregoers setting down between that unattended youngster and me. The assistant director went up onto the stage and announced to everyone to turn off all cell phones, and then he strictly forbid the audience from using any flash photography as doing so might frighten the Oompa-Loompas. I turned off my cell phone and chuckled quietly to myself. The lights went down. My son who was directing the orchestra raised his baton. We sat back and watched, listened and experienced a delicious presentation of a great musical, Willy Wonka. It was a fantastic night-out at the Guymon Community Theatre. We had terrific seats, could see and hear perfectly, and we enjoyed the entire show without distraction, never noticing a single unattended kid, or cowboy hat.  

Yee Haw!

I blog, therefore I am.

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Surely, if René Descartes had been a blogger or even known about blogging way back in the 17th Century, he might have been known today for the Blogito instead of the Cogito, and his famous philosophical statement would have been blogito ergo sum instead of cogito ergo sum.

For those not fluent in Latin, cogito ergo sum translated into English is I think, therefore I am.

OK, let’s imagine for just a moment that when René was pondering the meaning of life and his own existence, he had decided to spend his existence blogging, instead of fathering modern philosophy. Well, modern philosophy we could probably live without, but what about 3D movies?

“What?” you exclaim, “No 3D movies? No Avatar? Did this guy invent 3D movies too?”

Not exactly, but he is the guy that came up with the link between algebra and geometry. It turns out he is considered the father of analytical geometry too, so this guy definitely got around and even had the Cartesian coordinate system named after him. Now I’m no expert on 3D movies, but I’m thinking that René’s handy-dandy little coordinate system formula could have something to do with how they program all this 3D movie stuff.

So just think about this, if René had been sitting around blogging all the time and did not do any pondering, he would not have been the father of anything, except maybe the father of blogging which would have been kind of cool too.

So why did I decide to start a blog? Dare I tempt fate and rob this world of some great philosophical or mathematical discovery because I’m blogging instead of pondering? No. It may be true that I’m a pretty smart guy, but seriously that is a highly unlikely scenario. It is, however, very likely that there will be no one else available to ponder cleaning my garage, mowing my lawn, or taking out my trash whilst I blog. I think, therefore, my chores will just have to wait.

Blogito ergo sum.