28 November 2022

This, regrettably, happened to me (happy ending)

I was mildly irritated when I got the annual (property) tax bill from Fulton county. Not because you would expect any irrational exuberance from me upon sighting a tax bill but because I did not owe Fulton county anything. It was not even my property any more.

You see, we sold our house in July. And part of the sales proceedings is that the lawyers withhold prorated property tax from the buyer and the seller and pay the authorities. So, for that year, nobody has to pay any more taxes. From next year, the owner pays directly.

So, I was irritated that Fulton county systems had not caught up yet. Called up our broker who checked with the lawyers and confirmed that I did not need to do anything. I also notified the new owners of the same.

But bureaucracies are bureaucracies. Just because I did not owe anything does not mean that the government authorities will see eye to eye. I realized I would have to “go thru the process” to get everything squared away.

The good news is that the Fulton County website has a fairly well documented section on how to protest. So, duly protested with a photocopy of the bill and proof of sale to them.

Did not hear anything for about 6 weeks.

Then I got an email with a link to my property tax bill!

To make sure that this was not about my current house, I followed the link, went to the bill and sure enough – just as I had feared, it was about the house I do not own any more.

Next Monday, first thing in the morning, I called up the Tax office. A chirpy sounding lady picked up the phone. This incredible conversation happened after I explained my situation to her…

“Okay, let’s see what is going on. What is your address?”
I gave the same.
“Who am I talking to?”
I gave the name.
“You own this house or you sold it?”
“Sold it, ma’m”
“Ok. Yes, I can see the property record. It was sold on July 7th.”
“Yes, ma’m”
“Let’s see what is going on with your bill… ”

And then after a few seconds, she came back…

“I have your bill in front of me. You said, you received this bill by email?”
“Yes, ma’m.”
“You opened it and checked the details?”
“Yes, ma’m. It is the house I sold.”
“Did you check the amount?”
“Check the amount…?” I stammered a little…and quickly pressed Page Down twice on my screen to go to the bottom of the bill.

There it was staring at me – a big fat “$0.00” !!!

“Oh!” I exclaimed on the phone. “Why did you send me a bill if I did not owe you anything?”

“You had protested. That was our way of letting you know that we have adjusted your new bill to zero. You have proof now you owed nothing.”

“Oh! Thank you!”

Both of us laughed a bit – me far more sheepishly than her!

Needed a strong coffee after that!!

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6 November 2022

First time in my life

When I came to the USA, back in 1993, it was in October that year that I had to deal with Daylight Savings Time. Not sure it quite made any sense to me. Then. Or now.

However, I quickly got Americanized. And twice a year, I dutifully went around the house and changed all the clocks and watches we had. And then the ones in the car, the oven, the microwave etc. I remember what a simple delight it was in the 90s when I realized at least the computers had the intelligence to set themselves right.

You might remember that I had complained seven years back why I was the one who had to go around fixing all her fancy wrist watches and why is it that I always cut my nails the previous day.

In a mark of – call it empty nesting, minimalism, digital advancement … what have you, today I had absolutely NO watches to reset! In fact, it was not till late in the afternoon that I realized even that we had reset Daylight Savings!!

We gave away all our fancy wrist watches and got rid of all clocks during the move. Literally, other than the two Apple watches, the only other time giving devices in our house are cars, motorbikes, microwaves, oven, computes, iPhones and iPads. And all of them self correct!

They say not tracking time in life is a bliss.

I concur. I could have done with the reminder that I had slept for an hour more than I thought this morning though!

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23 September 2022

Well, that was a big let down

For the last 10 days or so, I have been fighting this right ear problem. Something popped moment I got down from the long flight from India and ever since, it has gone from bad to worse. Went to two urgent medical centers – one in Chicago and one in Atlanta. Got steroids, antibiotics and all that. The pain has subsided a bit but the main problem of swelling, not being able to hear and feeling of drainage moving inside the ear has remained.

Went to the ENT specialist today. After my vitals were taken, the RN left me in my room waiting for the doctor. I noticed two charts on the wall. Not having anything better to do, I walked up and started studying the charts. Was fascinated to learn the mechanism of how we hear.

Presently, the doctor knocked and came in. He introduced himself.

“Before we sit down, can I ask you a question?”, I asked

“Sure. What’s up?”

I took him to one of the charts.

“I followed the explanation and the picture of how we hear. Very fascinated by how the hair cells work for different frequencies in the cochlea. But here is the problem. How is it transmitting it to the brain? Shouldn’t there be a nerve somewhere around here?”, I asked showing him the picture.

“Oh! you cannot see it well,” he said and then pointing to a yellow strand said that was the nerve and since the nerve goes thru the bone into the brain, we cannot see it. (basically it went into a hole in the brain).

Somewhat satisfied that I did actually understand what goes on in the ear, I sat down.

I told him the whole story.

“Well, we will get to the root of this. In ENT, everything starts with examination. Let’s examine your ear.”

I was all for examination. (Tall words for a guy who just scored 13 in Social Studies 🙂 ). I was waiting with great anticipation what he would say he could see.

You see, I was less worried about whether I might have permanent hearing loss and all that. I was more excited to see how much I had understood the other chart in the room (picture attached). If you study the chart, it is fascinating. It gives the names of different problems, the root causes, what the ENT specialist would see during the examination in each case and then what the cures were.

So, I was just waiting for the words to come out of his mouth like “Ah!, I see this. What it means is this and that. The condition is called ….”

And I would immediately jump in – “Got it. So, you are going to do …. “ (whatever I had learnt from the chart).

Then he would go (thoroughly impressed, no doubt) – “How did you know? Are you a doctor?”

And I would go “Oh, no! I studied up the chart you have put up.”

And he would go away thinking finally something came out of putting those charts up on the wall.

Except, that is not what happened. What really happened is this…

“I see the problem. None of your previous doctors could have seen the tympanic membrane”

Wait. This was out of syllabus. The whole chart was about infections and problems in the middle ear (beyond the membrane).

Still, holding on to some hope, I asked “What do you see?”

“A lot of wax!”

“WHAT?”

“Yes, you have a lot of wax. We will clean it out and you will be fine.”

He continued – “I am sure you know this – your right ear canal is very narrow and has an odd bend. The wax cannot be brought out by you. You have to visit an ENT specialist every time this happens”.

I was aware of this problem. (There was a similar incident that had happened long time back) But it was little solace to know that I suffered for 10 days of pain and then studied a chart for nothing but some stupid wax.

Three minutes of professional pumping later, he asked “Can you hear now?”

“Hear what? Oh! Wait!! Yes, of course?”

I had forgotten that I was hearing only muffled noises from my right ear before all this.

All this and it was just wax? I walked away feeling sheepish.

With my clear hearing now, I can almost hear my dad (if he were alive) laughing at my predicament which he would have dismissed as a first world problem.

“কানের খোল পরিষ্কার করতে তুই ডাক্তারের কাছে গেছিলি? তাও আবার ENT specialist? দূর দূর দূর! যত্ত সব বড়োলোকিপনা”

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3 September 2022

How lazy is Linkedin getting?

This is a sample of invites I get these days. Has Linkedin completely given up on doing some basic checks on bot accounts? Maybe we should have Elon Musk make a bid for Linkedin and then back out.

And how lazy are these bot algorithms getting? Coming up with names by just chopping off English words in the middle?

Interestingly enough, if you go to the profile (https://www.linkedin.com/in/licity-fe-07625a248/) to see how these algorithms work, you will realize that first they always have an important college name as education background (Harvard in this case). And then when you try to see what they have studied, you realize that it is just a few paragraphs scraped directly from the college’s website and inserted in!!

Worse, these algorithms can’t do some basic math. Apparently, this profile, while holding a Manager job in Taiwan from 2010-2015 also managed to do her 2 year MBA course in Harvard (2011-2013)!! Has Harvard relocated to Taiwan these days?

And why are only attractive looking young women inviting me to have a professional connection? Whose profession are we talking about anyways?

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