Monday, June 29, 2009

But if the Accountants Were Nude, on the Other Hand...

Nearly five years ago, when I first received my Israeli CPA (certification as an accountant), I also applied for, and received, membership in the Lishkat Roai Heshbon, a professional society for accountants. I did this because: 1) they offered continuing education seminars and 2) I was just so over the moon at having survived the process of becoming an Israeli CPA that of course I had to have the matching professional society membership. After two years, during which time 1) I did not attend a single seminar and 2) I got over myself, I let my membership lapse.

Or at least, I thought I let it lapse.

In the States, non-payment of any given organization’s annual dues will result in an end to one’s financial obligations to said organization. Yes, you will be subject to a a never-ending stream of letters trying to convince you that your life will be so much better if you would just come back to the fold but that is it, really. Here, as it turns out, the matter is not so simple. The Lishkat continued to bill me for two more years, and when I did not pay, they (finally) revoked my membership. But –and here is the rub—the 2006 and 2007 annual dues are still out there, lurking.

Anyway, up until about a year ago I was working for a Big Accounting Firm that provided me with loads and loads of continuing professional education. Now that I am working for a company, I have to arrange my own continuing professional education. Recently, I got it into my mind that “gosh, if I were to join the Lishkat Roai Heshbon again, I could go to their seminars. And conferences. And that would be my continuing education! Plus, I could network with other accountants! How fun!” This was such an exciting prospect that I immediately called the Lishkat to find out how I could re-activate my membership. I was referred to Nir, a very nice man who handles membership services.

Me: So, I was told I would have to pay all the prior year annual dues in order to renew my membership.

Nir: Yes, that is correct. You have annual dues for 2006 and 2007 outstanding.

Me: But I did not do anything with the Lishkat during that time.

Nir: Those are the rules. If you want to cancel your membership, you have to write in and cancel it—it is not automatic.

Me: Well, is there any other option? Can I just pay a non-member rate for seminars and materials?

Nir: No, the seminars, conferences and materials are for members only. Oh--wait, actually, there is another option.

Me: What is that?

Nir: We have a non-membership option. The annual fee is 500 a year and you receive the monthly accounting newsletter.

Me: (Interested, but wary) Ummm…is this a newsletter about accountancy or about accountants? Like, does it have articles about tax laws and accounting pronouncements and that sort of stuff or articles about accountants?

Nir: About accountants.

Me: (Am so appalled that I am speechless. For a few seconds).

Me: Nir, out of curiosity, are you an accountant?

Nir: No.

Me: Tell me, honestly….would you want to read a magazine about accountants? With articles about accountants? And photos of accountants? Accountants giving lectures…. Accountants shooting the shit with other accountants…. Accountants thinking deep thoughts. Accountants standing in groups and smiling.

Nir: (trying hard not to laugh because he really is very nice and very professional).

Me: We are boring! We are anal-retentive! We are dorks! We dress badly! I mean, I would know--I am one.

Nir: (Has given up the battle and is laughing his head off).

Me: Who in the name of God would want to read about accountants? Okay, the guys who actually appear in the magazine, maybe. But anyone else? Honestly, I think this is one of the levels of Dante’s Hell—a magazine all about accountants.

Nir: I see your point.

Me: Yes, well, thanks anyway!

Nir: No problem!

No seminars for me, it would seem. sigh....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ein Bissel Torah (A Little Torah)

Shabbat lunch last week. Host is telling a joke based on the halacha of kiddushin (betrothal)–or how a man acquires a woman to be his wife. Joke goes over my head. Hostess kindly provides background.

Hostess: There are three ways the man can acquire a wife. The first way is pay for her—to give her money. Today we give a ring. The second way is to sign a contract—that is the ketubah.

Me: Okay…. (So far this is all familiar).

Hostess: The third way is to have sex with her.

Me: You break it, you buy it?

Hostess: Exactly.

Now, if I understood Hostess correctly, if a Jewish man has sex with a Jewish woman, he has bought her. They are married. Maybe it is just me, but that is a bit worrying. What happens when our friendly neighborhood Jewish Taliban picks up on this, and starts to demand strict application of this particular bit of halacha? At least in my neighborhood, to do so would mean that the number of children deemed mamzerim would increase exponentially. Because while there certainly are people who do not have sex before marriage (the official kind of marriage), there are also quite a few who have engaged in payment-option number three long before they ever made it to the chuppah. And with people other than their eventual chuppah partner.

On the other hand, one does have to admit that a strict application would do wonders for solving the singles crisis in the Jewish community.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hello? Are you a Bookkeeper?

Are you a bookkeeper? Yes? Good. This is for you. You know when you call me up? Because according to your books we owe you money? Or at least you think we owe you money? Because the last two times you called, it turned out we did not owe you money--you had not properly applied the payment? And according to our books, we do not owe you any money? But anyway, this time, you are pretty sure we owe you money?

You recognize the situation, yes?

Anyway.... when said situation occurs, I beg of you, I PLEAD of you....make sure you have the relevant invoice numbers ready BEFORE YOU CALL. Because I can assure you that, no matter how annoying you are and no matter how many times you call (and I realize that this may come as a surprise), I am not going to say Walla! We owe you money! and write you a check on the basis of some vague story about how you think we owe you money. Or even on the basis that this will make you go away. As tempting as that option may be at times.

And especially not, given your track record with misapplied payments.

And no, I am not going to spend half an hour sitting on the phone while you start going through your general ledger, mumbling to yourself, and trying to figure out what invoice is unpaid, as per your (crap) records. I will ask you to call me back, once you have a clue.

I thank you in advance for your consideration. Even though I know that, at some point, probably in the next half hour, you will call me AGAIN. And you still will not have any invoice numbers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Modest Vignette

Kat The Exercise Nazi and I got together tonight for our Torture Training* session. Each session includes a strength training workout and a cardio workout. The strength training bit is not too bad but the cardio portion is positively vile. The cardio workout looks something like this:

1) Walk five minutes (I actually like this part)

2) Run really, really fast for one minute

3) Die for two minutes.

4) Run really, really fast for one minute

4) Die for two minutes.

And more of the same, until the program decides it is done toying with you and allows you to stagger home.

Anyway, so Kat and I were in the middle of one of the dying bits when the buzzer on her stopwatch went off, indicating it was time to start running really, really fast. Instead of resetting her watch and running, Kat continued walking. Downhill.

Me: Ummm....isn't it time to run?

Kat: We are going to walk to the bus stop and start running from there.

Me: But the bus stop is further down the hill.

Kat: Yes.

Me: Which means we will have to run up the hill.

Kat: Yes! Last time, by the time we finished running the road had flattened out.

Me: And...there is something wrong with that?

Kat: Excuse me, Ms. Snackcident? How many rugellach ** did you end up eating the other day? Yes there is something wrong with that. Uphill!

Me: whinewhinewhine.

Kat: Stop whining. Think of Elmer.

Me: whinewhinewhine.

Kat: If you don't stop whining, I am going to scream "Think of Elmer's ass" really loud. (It should be noted that she did not say "Elmer". She said Elmer's name.)

Now that is a dirty trick. But I still stopped whining.

Note to self: must find exercise nazi who does not read blogs.

*The program is actually called "turbulence training". But I was speaking with my friend, Pnina, and she accidentally replaced the 'turbulence' with 'torture'. Somehow, inexplicably, the name stuck.

** I fought the rugellach. The rugellach won.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Zeh LO Bishvilech!

First, a Hebrew lesson.

Phrase number one: גם זה לטוב pr. gam zeh l'tov. "This is also for the good". This is the phrase used by an excessively happy-clappy person to describe the bad shit that happens to someone else. Everything, EVERYTHING is a gift from G-d. Oh, your cat just peed all over your chocolate supply? And your child is on drugs? And you are up five kilo? Gam zeh le tov!

Phrase number two: זה לא בשבילך pr. zeh lo bishvilech. "This is not for you". My diet group leader's mantra. This mantra applies to any food product which you like and which you might believe should be for you, but which contains more calories per square inch than the number of coffee shops per Tel Aviv square mile (rough estimate = a lot). So really, this food is not for you.

You will nee the above phrases for this post.

On Friday, I went to the shuk. I had invited myself over to Practical Yael's house for dinner and she asked me to bring rugelach from the Marzipan bakery. The Marzipan bakery has pretty much the best rugelach in the world. In fact, its rugelach are much, much better than the rugelach than those of the bakery on the other side of the shuk, where I was injured. Had I gone to the Marzipan bakery instead of that bakery, I may have avoided the bombing altogether. But then, this blog would have never come to be. And you would have been bored. So gam ze l'tov! (See how the phrase is used? Isn't it so clever?) Besides, the bus stop itself is still by the first bakery. And I was blown up at the bus stop, and not at the bakery. So, really, the source of my rugelach did not matter. I would have been blown up either way.

But I digress.

Anyway, so I went to the shuk where I spent my time buying enough vegetables for a family of four for like, a year. If anyone ever tells you that the shuk is good for people on a budget (and they will, because people always say that), please be aware that they are lying. What happens is that you go and all of a sudden you realize that you need five butternut squash. And four eggplants. And half a dozen cucumbers. Even though when you were at home and looking at what you already had in your fridge, you did not think you needed them at all. The reason for this is because the moment you get near the shuk little shuk viruses enter your brain and eat it and turn you into some creepy zombie thing that runs around the shuk buying outrageous quantities of vegetables.

The other thing I did at the shuk was to try to stick to my diet. I did so by making extensive use of the diet group leader's mantra. Every time I passed a falafel place, a shipudia (specializes in meat skewered on an iron spit and grilled--my favorite is Sima), a bakery or any place selling prepared foods I sternly reminded myself "zeh lo bishvilech". And you know, it worked! Even when I was at the Marzipan bakery itself! Though I did notice that I was receiving a lot of strange looks. Note to self: next time, I should say this silently. And without wagging my finger in my face.

So all would be well and good, were it not for the extra rugelach. A co-worker is putting together an office event and I, like an idiot, volunteered the fact that I was going to the shuk and offered to pick up a couple kilos of rugelach and bring them to the office on Sunday. Unlike the rugelach which I bought for Practical Yael, and which are now safely ensconced at her house (or to be more accurate, safely making their way through the digestive systems of her five children), these rugelach are in my freezer. And they are taunting me. They want me to eat them. But I cannot do that. I promised the co-worker that I would bring them to the office. How bad would it look if I were to show up with 1.5 kilos of rugelach instead of two? And besides I must stick to my diet.

Suffice it to say, it has not been pretty.

For the last 36 hours I have endured periodic outbursts in which run I to the freezer, open the door, scream "zeh lo bishvilech! zeh lo bishvilech!" at the rugelach and then slam the freezer door shut. Then I run to a corner where I spend 10 minutes crouched, sobbing and poking myself in the belly.

All I can say about this is that it is a good thing that I am not married. My husband would have called the men in the white coats hours ago and had me committed hours ago. So gam zeh le tov that I am single.

One more hour and the god-forsaken rugelach are out of my house.
The scheduled post will be posted when and if Google ever allows "cut and paste" to start working again in Blogger.


Not a good way to start a week.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Oh, and another thing.... Iran's has a nutcase President. We have a fascist foreign minister. BOTH of them run around saying vile and hateful things. So how come Iran's diplomats are now getting invited to barbeques, while we are getting slammed for being not nice?

If I start running around saying vile and hateful things, will you invite me to a barbeque? Please? I like barbeques.

Right--time for me to go to sleep.

He didn't just say what I think he did...did he?

This is going to be a short post. I am making it short because I am tired. I have been working far too many hours. And I just cleaned my apartment. I really, really should not be posting now. But I have not posted in forever, so I must.

And besides, I cannot be the only blogger in Israel who does not comment on Obama's stretching out of the hands toward the Muslim world. And his "understanding" Iran's deep desire to obtain nuclear weapon capabilities. (This understanding, no doubt, being completely unrelated to the hand stretching and not at all intended to curry favor with said stretchees).

Ahem. So here it is. My deep thoughts:


Don't know the reference? Google it.

As for me, I am going to figure out where the hell my building's bomb shelter is. And stock up on tuna.