Friday, September 26, 2014

Study Weekend & Study Motivation List

Well this is what Nim's Friday morning looked like. He took his time getting up. I think he wonders sometimes what I think I am doing so early in the morning...especially when it is dark outside.

When Nim finally did get up he had breakfast with Emile. Most mornings I try to move Emile, but sometimes I just give up. I swear Nim moves to the side to give Emile a spot.

Today I wanted to buy a new puzzle and ended up putting it back. I will add puzzle to the motivation list. That list is growing. This my motivation list to study hard and pass all these exams (preferably on the first try):

  • Road trip/camping/vacation
  • More hiking
  • Regaining a personal life
  • Less isolation (let me tell you, it was a surprising day as an introvert when I realized my study schedule was really isolating me)
  • More sewing
  • Take a new enjoyment class (writing, quilting, knitting, something entirely new????)
  • Increased dog training time
  • Hours to put into a 1000+ puzzle
  • Satisfaction of studying right the first time
  • Save money by not retaking exams

Have a great weekend! I got my new laptop today so no more excuses for me. :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sister Laptop...It Was a Good Run

I have been using my sister's HP Pavilion laptop for probably about 2 years now. It has got me through school and all the exam studying. Total lifesaver. Well finally last night I think it was done. I am grateful it waited until after the last tax test.

A couple of weeks ago we thought it was done because it wouldn't hold a charge anymore. This was an issue because the cord gets too hot when it is constantly plugged in. Then one day it started charging again and my sister and I did a little dance. This was also around the bad noise stage.

Well last night...this:

Nim blames Emile and Emile blames Nim. My sister and I had a moment of silence.

All I know is that I had it on its pillow/cookie rack set up (don't judge), I went into the kitchen, and then there was a crash and I came in to the laptop on the bed. It slide like 1/2 foot from the pillow/rack set up to the soft bed so I don't know if that was enough to cause this or if it was timing.

Meanwhile my bed light got more broken than it already was (that was the crash). And Emile and Nim both ran out the room.

Leela says it wasn't her.

So I am looking at both ACER laptops and chromebooks. The Chromebooks have my attention for sure. My desktop is also on borrowed time so I am trying to weigh what I need when. :)

It is a Monday folks.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Puget Sound K9 UKC Rally Obedience Argus Ranch - September 21, 2014

Today was a beautiful day at Argus Ranch in Auburn, WA. This is notable because 99% of the time I go to Argus it is pouring rain and miserable. :)

Argus Ranch is first and foremost an agility trial location and training facility, but it is also a host to many dog sports including luring and obedience trials.

For the rally competition today only one ring was in use, leaving a lot of room to spread out and walk around. The ground is packed dirt and that can be distracting to the dogs.

Nim knows the outside well, but has actually never trialed at this location. We are usually only there to watch other dog friends or to get our Santa photo done.

Horses and a horse track is right up against the property. There were actually several cats in the pastures. But they weren't cooperating for a photo.

Our first run was a struggle. We were the first dog in and I didn't get there as early as I would have liked so let's just say there was a lot of Nim out there. We struggled on the line that had the spectators which is rarely our problem, but the trial was actually exceptionally quiet and he knew some of the people he could hear talking on the sidelines. I really struggled to keep him working with me.

We still managed to get our RO1 Title! First title for both of us. :)

This photo is funny. Nim was in a snit because he wanted his first place toy (we were the only dog in our class which worked greatly to our first place favor because it wasn't a super high scoring run) but I wouldn't let him have it because he would just sit there and squeak it.

Our second run of the day was magical. Because I had my RO1 titled I could have moved to RO2 but I opted not to because of his scattered behavior in the first trial. It was the right decision.

We worked it hard! It was hot and the course was plagued with "sits." On the last sign I knew he had to sit at he gave me a disgruntled look before he sat down and then of course he checked out his penis in case it fell off or something but fortunately that was a temporary distraction. We lost exactly 2 points. One I knew where it had happened, and the other one it doesn't surprise me, but I don't remember it.

We have a problem right now with one particular move (finish, left side) and that is because I am in the middle of changing it to a more appropriate traditional obedience command. I learned today he is not ready for that new command in the ring without food.

Yes, we were a "class of one" again, but it was hands down our best competition ring performance in the entire 7 times we have been in the ring. :)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Enrolled Agent DONE - SEE Part 2 - Business Passed

Good Evening all! I passed my final section of the Enrolled Agent series today. This was a big personal deal. The poor test people, I had a hard time not crying right in front of them.

With the Enrolled Agent done, I now switch gears fully to the CPA. The first exam I will take is REG which is all about taxation. In theory the Enrolled Agent exam should have helped build foundation for that exam.

As usual, I will sprinkle the test experience with photos.

Fall is coming.

The cats have started stationing themselves in line with the pellet stove every case I want to start it up.

Now that I have finished all three parts, some thoughts:

I won't know until I finish REG, but I am unclear why the Enrolled Agent is dismissed as easy. Now in fairness I only seem to see that in the CPA forums. It sure wasn't easy for me and I have a major sense of pride to have completing it. So either REG is impossible, or more likely, we all have different threshold for exam and study stress.

I used the Exam Matrix study experience for all three parts and I did request several supporting IRS publications. I am glad I used this study system and I would recommend it. The downside is that I never saw an overlap in the questions between the study system and the real exam, the upside is that I feel like I really learned a lot of material.

My order:
SEE - Part 3 (Regulations)
SEE - Part 1 (Individual)
SEE - Part 2 (Business)

Had I had the choice, I would have done them in order rather than starting with Part 3 mostly because Part 3 had questions that were really more Part 1 and Part 2. I didn't notice as much overlap with the other sections. Still, I survived, and yes, you can take them out of order.

Part 3 was unsettling for me because it was my first experience with the exam format and none of the questions matched the study material which caught me off guard. By Part 1 I was in a subject that I had hands on experience with because of my volunteer work and I knew what to expect from the testing format.

Part 2, which I took today, was the hardest on me emotionally. I struggled to retain the material using the study plan (probably more because of external stress like my job) and I had put a lot of pressure on myself that if I didn't pass I had to stop working on the Enrolled Agent until I dealt with my first CPA exam.

The reason for the added pressure is that when you apply to schedule a CPA exam and eventually get the OK, your invitation to schedule the exam WILL expire. So you are racing the clock on something that cost you over $300 to apply for. (Each Enrolled Agent section is a $105/exam).

Basically I was kind of a wreck for today's exam. The testing center is also located near a major annual fair (Puyallup Fair) and needless to say, the traffic was a nightmare. With all the build up and stress around this final IRS test it is no wonder I almost cried publicly when I passed. :) Something tells me tears happen at a testing center however.

Tomorrow Nim and I are entered in another UKC Rally Obedience competition. Thanks to my accounting related standardized testing experiences, dog trialing now seems like fun. At least I have my partner by my side. :)

Monday, September 15, 2014


It is going to be hot out here today, so we got out early. I hike so infrequently right now I cherish the outings we do get and I am sure Nim does too.

It is going to be a long week! Best to start it off right.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bad Bear and Kitten Cuteness on a Friday

Hello on a Friday! This will mostly be a cute kitten photo dump, but first, a mess courtesy of the local bear.

Yes, that is a giant oil slick in my garage. My garage now smells like Johnny Cat Litter.

I buy oil by the jugs (as opposed to individual quart bottles) for changing in the car. It is less waste that way. I had a jug sitting outside in the bed of my truck to remind me visually change the oil. Well, a bear bit it and made a huge mess in the driveway.

I then took the damaged jug, put it in a bag and put it in my garbage bin. It leaked through the bag and through the bottom of the bin. In about 24 - 48 hours it had crept all over the garage. I have never seen anything like this.

I am still cleaning the floor. I don't know if it will ever be the same.

I was personally a bit devastated because I try to be super careful with the local wildlife and take living among them as a privilege. So if anyone else besides me didn't know they like oil (and apparently diesel I am learning) now you know. 

I leave you with kittens! Last week they started walking better, playing, and generally interacting.

Although I did get spit at. :) Not by mama Missy however. I love her.

Enjoy the photos and have a great day!

Monday, September 8, 2014

In Memory of Jackson - Crystal Mountain Gondola

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Sunday was a very special day for me. On Sunday Nim and I joined Cindy for a ride up the Crystal Mountain Gondola. This was the first year for Nim and I, but Cindy has managed to go all three years since the gondola opened. This year was her first year going without Jackson.

Jackson died June 24th of this year. Sunday was really a special day in tribute of him. It was a real honor for Nim and I to go to a place that held a lot of meaning for Jackson and Cindy together. I felt his memory with me on Sunday.

(Jackson, Crystal Mountain, 2013 - hard to believe he is a senior dog! He has such a young look to him.)

Nim has been on one gondola before in Northern CA, but this one was a lot bigger. He definitely looked around quite a bit. Because it is really built more with winter travel in mind there isn't a ton of air ventilation, but the ride is beautiful.

Once we got off the gondola up top and managed to walk around the gravel without breaking anything (the traction is a real challenge once you leave the boardwalk) we started up a path that Cindy always did with Jackson. That is Rainer mountain in the background.

As you can tell it is pretty intense sun. It wasn't necessarily a terribly hot temperature, but under the sun it was actually pretty darn warm.

Eventually we reached the top of the path and found a shady place to eat, drink, and let Nim supervise the chipmunk situation.

This is one ledge we selected to remember Jackson.

The backdrop is just stunning. Bless dogs. They may not know exactly what is going on, but they are aware enough to at least sense emotion.

Eventually we went back down the path and stopped at another location that was just beautiful! Nim kept a sharp eye on Cindy. It is hard because these photos hardly do justice to the beautiful scenery in this area.

This is the boardwalk that comes off the gondola at the top. Notice the beach lounge chairs.

Cindy got a photo of Nim and me.

Eventually it was time to go back down. Some people do hike down. It looked punishing, even by my standards. Wear hiking boots.

Nim was a rascal in line.

Cindy got some great loading shots up top. Yes, it looks like I am strangling him. :) The gondola keeps at a slow move and you jump on.

So I don't have time for any Nim attitude, he needs to load in one smooth motion. :) Fortunately he loads nicely.

What a beautiful day.

I feel lucky to know Cindy as long as I have because she has really given me a chance to get to know Dalmatians. They are simply not a common breed. Nim has had the pleasure of knowing her last 4 in particular - Emma Lee, Chip, Daisy, and Jackson (all rescues, all hit their senior years together).

Jackson, you were missed, but well remembered.

(Nim and Jackson, New Year's Day, 2014 - Soos Creek Trail)