Friday, April 26, 2024

Random Ramblings: April 2024 Edition

I'm in several different soccer referee groups and receive countless emails per week from assigners looking for referees to work games. Instead of countless, I decided to see how many I actualy receive per week. From Monday, April 8 at 12:01 AM through Sunday, April 14 at 11:59 PM, I received 63 emails about working games. 63!!

We're now at the halfway point of Passover where I question the amount of food I have for the remainder of the holiday. Sure, I probably eat more fruits, vegetables, and eggs during Passover than the rest of the year and that's easy to get, but I'm never sure if I have enough matzo, macaroons, or Molly's Passover cakes, which is what my kids eat for breakfast during the holiday. We're also at the point where there is limited or no Kosher for Passover foods at most local grocery stores. By the way, the Molly's cakes aren't going to make it to Tuesday!

I miss the days when you could transfer your balance on one credit card to a brand new credit card with no transfer fees and at 0% APR for a certain period of time. It seems like every credit card company now charges a 4% transfer fee on the amount of funds transferred. 

I've mentioned multiple times that I have been in the same fantasy/rotisserie baseball league since 1992. I have won the league just twice during this time in 2014 and 2016. My team is off to an amazing start where I'm in first place in 8 of the 10 categories and have a huge lead in overall points. Since it is only April, I figure there's no way that my team can keep up this pace. My apologies in advance to Mookie Betts, Fernando Tatis Jr., Elly De La Cruz, Zac Gallen, Tyler Glasnow, and William Contreras who I expect will all get injured in the next few months.

I don't think it's an overstatement that Woodland Hills High School has one of the best public high school theater programs in the country. This year's show is "Wonderland," and WHHS is one of only two high schools in the country to perform this pilot musical based on Peter Pan. Check out the story/video about the show by WTAE.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

My IRS Story

I owed money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) this year. Not fun. With a lot going on, instead of going to the post office and getting some type of delivery receipt, I simply put the payment in an envelope and mailed it from a neighborhood mailbox on approximately March 15th. 

My wife signed up for the postal service's daily digest. While I like the surprise of opening the mailbox and seeing what's inside each day, she receives daily emails with pictures of envelopes of what will be in the mailbox that day. It's pretty neat. On March 20th, she received a picture of the letter that I sent to the IRS. Immediately, I got concerned that maybe I used the wrong stamp and that it was being returned. However, the letter was not in our mailbox. On March 25th, we received another picture of the envelope to the IRS, and again, it did not appear in our mailbox.

Fast forward several weeks, and the check still did not clear the bank, and we never received the envelope back. With the April 15th tax due date quickly approaching, I called the IRS who confirmed that they did not receive the payment. I called USPS, and they had no idea where the mail went. So somewhere in the world, there is currently a check with our address and social security numbers on the check. Lovely.

I called the bank and cancelled the check. Then, I just paid the IRS online which is what I should have done originally. The payment went through on April 12th. Monday afternoon, I looked at my bank account online and saw there was a pending payment to the IRS. Of course, I thought, the check arrived and is being processed. I contacted my bank who said that this was a second online payment. While I have no idea why there was a second payment, the bank cancelled that transaction. The mail/check is still a mystery.

Based on my experience this year, I think I just won't pay the IRS again. I'm sure that will be fine for everyone involved!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The Moose's Bar Mitzvah

The Moose recently turned 13 and celebrated his Bar MItzvah. This is a very big deal. A Bar Mitzvah (for a boy) or a Bat Mitzvah (for a girl) is a coming of age ceremony in Judaism. He went from being a boy to becoming a man. Let's celebrate with a little Motownphilly!

The Moose read from the Torah and led a significant portion of the Shabbat (Sabbath) services. He worked really hard learning prayers in Hebrew and taking weekly lessons over about a 10-11 month period. He did an amazing job.

While I could (and probably should) write more about the Bar Mitzvah and celebration, this post is about the program we created for the service. Actually, this is about the fake program that I created that was not distributed during the service. Here are a few excerpts:

The Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony takes place when a Jewish child reaches the age of 13. The word Bar Mitzvah means “son of a mitzvah.” Son of a mitzvah sounds much better than a different expression starting with “son of a.” Clearly, this is in reference to the Dusty Springfield song, Son of a Preacher Man. Are you thinking of something else? A mitzvah is an action which connects Jews both to the divine and to all other Jews past, present, and future. In practical terms, this means that this is the age when a Jewish child is considered old enough to assume the rights and responsibilities of Jewish adulthood. The Moose will now be expected to fulfill these moral and ethical commandments throughout his daily life. As an adult, he is also expected to start paying rent and make meals for his brothers. Cleaning the cat’s litter box would also be appreciated.

During the Torah service, the weekly reading is divided into sections, each called an aliyah. At least eight people, including The Moose, will be honored by being called up for an aliyah to the Torah. Before and after each section of the Torah is read, the individual called up for that aliyah recites a blessing or sings songs/reads lyrics of songs by the late singer/actress Aaliyah, most notably from “Try Again” or “Are You That Somebody.” Those with Pittsburgh ties may choose to sing “Ah, Leah” by Donnie Iris.

Two books are used during the service – Lev Shalem, the smaller red prayerbook, and Etz Hayim, the larger red volume, which contains the Torah, selections from the Prophets, and commentary. There used to be a third book, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, but the rabbis determined that scarlet was not the correct shade of red. The rabbis do approve of the scarlet and gray. O-H!

I also had fun including various celebrities like Adam Sandler, Drake, Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis (A Black Swan reunion!), Benny Blanco, Gal Gadot, Rowdy Tellez, Deni Avdija, and others as receiving honors during the service. Dolly Parton and the late Kenny Rogers (via hologram) are listed as reading the poem "No Religion is an Island" since they like islands (in streams).