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Your Invisible Impact

2011-06-17 by

Next week, I have a high school reunion coming up. (Never mind what number it is – know that it is a big number!) I was privileged to attend the best public high school in Los Angeles (at least in my opinion) – Fairfax High School. Looking at the notes from my classmates brings back memories of significant people who made enormous impacts on our lives.

I bring this up because I want you to know that you make an impact on the lives of people, too. Often, you have no idea of the impression you make on someone – especially when it’s a good impression. (We have a tendency to think less of ourselves than others do.)


When you smile, when you listen, when you do something considerate, you never know how deeply you affect the life of the person you touch. Sometimes, you go through life and never learn just how much you’ve enhanced someone’s like – or even that your kindness has saved a life.

I was privileged to learn that early, when I was 18 years old. The lesson has stayed with me a lifetime. An elderly man I smiled at every morning on the way to the bus stop once gave me a poem he had written for me. Essentially, it was about how that (to me) insignificant, polite smile and nod had become the bright point of his daily life.

It was little overwhelming for a self-absorbed teen-ager to be given responsibility for an elderly stranger’s happiness. But getting to know him, I came to understand the loneliness he had experienced – and how he had built this smile into an entire relationship (not in a creepy way) – that helped him do something to overcome the isolation he had been feeling. He started getting back in touch with friends, and writing and directing again. Because of a smile.

I was lucky enough to learn about it.

But, YOU? You never know how you impact people.

Let’s meet Wayne, and Information Please.

When I was a young boy, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood.. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was “Information Please” and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone’s number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the voice-in-a-box came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear.

“Information, please” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.

A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.


“I hurt my finger…” I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

“Isn’t your mother home?” came the question.

“Nobody’s home but me,” I blubbered.

“Are you bleeding?” the voice asked.

“No,” I replied. “I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.”

“Can you open the icebox?” she asked.

I said I could.

“Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,” said the voice..

After that, I called “Information Please” for everything.. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math.

She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.
Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called, Information Please,” and told her the sad story.. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, “Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?”

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, ” Wayne , always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.”

Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, “Information Please.”

“Information,” said in the now familiar voice. “How do I spell fix?” I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest . When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston .. I missed my friend very much. “Information Please” belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me..

Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle . I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now.

Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, “Information Please.”

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.


I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying,

“Could you please tell me how to spell fix?”

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, “I guess your finger must have healed by now.”

I laughed, “So it’s really you,” I said. “I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?”

I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your call meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.”

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

“Please do”, she said. “Just ask for Sally.”

Three months later I was back in Seattle . A different voice answered,

“Information.” I asked for Sally.

“Are you a friend?” she said.

“Yes, a very old friend,” I answered.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this,”She said. “Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.”

Before I could hang up, she said, “Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne ?” ”

“Yes.” I answered.

“Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you.” The note said, “Tell him “there are other worlds to sing in. He’ll know what I mean.”

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on others.

Whose life have you touched today? Lifting you on eagle’s wings. May you find the joy and peace you long for.

Life is a journey… NOT a guided tour.

Dedicated to all the people who have touched my life – and yours.

Courtesy of Roberta Livingston in Virginia who is kind to everyone she knows.

Please remember to send us your humor and your inspiration.
Clean jokes preferred.

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Not What They Seem?

2011-03-11 by

money funnies

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family.

The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion’s guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement.

As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it.

When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, “Things aren’t always what they seem.”

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife.

After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest.

When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.

The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel how could you have let this happen?

The first man had everything, yet you helped him, she accused.The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die.

“Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel replied. “When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it.”

“Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Remember, things aren’t always what they seem.”

Sometimes that is exactly what happens when things don’t turn out the way they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You just might not know it until some time later.

Courtesy of the TaxAngel, Rita Veen, EA in Castaic.

Please remember to send us your humor and your inspiration.
Clean jokes preferred.

Read more Money Funnies and Inspiration here:

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Where you can find more humor and fun
Where you can find more joy and succor
Money Funnies and Inspiration
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Black History Month

2011-02-25 by

This is the end of black history month. When I was in school, African-American studies were not a significant part of our curriculum. It didn’t matter though, because history was being made all around us at the time. Lots of great, good and bad things took place during my school years from grade 4 through college.

The air was electric with the words of the magnificent Martin Luther King, Jr, frightening and titillating words of Malcolm X, intriguing watching Lew Alcindor become Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and Cassius Clay become the poetic Muhammed Ali. People were still buzzing about Rosa Parks a decade later. Those were the days of demonstrations, sit-ins, Watts riots, other riots, integration and so many changes.

We teenagers were passionate and active and vocal, in favor of the changes, causing strong conflicts with parents, teachers and authority figures. Some inter-marriages, too. One of my best friends is still married to her high-school sweetheart. Some families learned to cope with the shocks and love each other. Some didn’t. One of the most talked about films at the time? Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. But, really, how could anyone object to Sidney Poitier? Of course, there was also the dark and frightening satire of Putney Swope. You don’t hear about that one, do you?

There were sobering moments, too – like the deaths JFK, MLK, Jr. and Teddy Kennedy. I am sure everyone remembers where they were, or actually saw the assassinations. My spine still tingles thinking about that. They were very interesting times, that last half century. I feel so privileged to have lived to see history made.

This is a tribute to my “black” friends and colleagues – and all the people who love them.

And here’s to a color-blind future.

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Frank Sinatra and the Jews

2011-01-07 by

money funnies

Francis Albert Sinatra (1915-1998) may have been one of America ’s most famous Italian Catholics, but he kept the Jewish people and the State of Israel close to his heart, manifesting life-long commitments to fighting anti-Semitism and to activism on behalf of Israel .

Sinatra stepped forward in the early 1940s, when big names were needed to rouse America into saving Europe’s remaining Jews, and he sang at an “Action for Palestine ” rally (1947). He sat on the board of trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and he donated over $1 million to Jerusalem ’s Hebrew University, which honored him by dedicating the Frank Sinatra International Student Center . (The Center made heartbreaking headlines when terrorists bombed it in 2002, killing nine people.)

As the result of his support for the Jewish State, his movies and records were banned in some Arab countries. Sinatra helped Teddy Kollek, later the long-serving mayor of Jerusalem but then a member of the Haganah, by serving as a $1 million money-runner that helped Israel win the war.

The Copacabana Club, which was very much run and controlled by the same Luciano-related New York mafia crowd with whom Sinatra had become enmeshed, happened to be next door to the hotel out of which Haganah members were operating. In his autobiography,Kollek relates how, trying in March 1948 to circumvent an arms boycott imposed by President Harry Truman on the Jewish fighters inEretz Yisroel, he needed to smuggle about $1 million in cash to an Irish ship captain docked in the Port of New York . The young Kollek spotted Sinatra at the bar and, afraid of being intercepted by federal agents, asked for help. In the early hours of the morning, the singer went out the back door with the money in a paper bag and successfully delivered it to the pier.

The origins of Sinatra’s love affair with the Jewish people are not clear but, for years, the Hollywood icon wore a small mezuzah around his neck, a gift from Mrs. Golden, an elderly Jewish neighbor who cared for him during his boyhood in Hoboken, N.J. (years later, he honored her by purchasing a quarter million dollars’ worth of Israel bonds).

He protected his Jewish friends, once responding to an anti-Semitic remark at a party by simply punching the offender. Time magazine reported that Sinatra walked out on the christening of his own son when the priest refused to allow a Jewish friend to be the godfather. As late as 1979, he raged over the fact that a Palm Springs cemetery official in California declared that he could not arrange the burial of a deceased Jewish friend over the Thanksgiving holiday; Sinatra again—threatened to punch him in the nose.

Sinatra famously played the role of a Jewish pilot in Cast a Giant Shadow, the 1966 film filmed in Israel and starring friend Kirk Douglas as Mickey Marcus, the Jewish-American colonel who fought and died in Israel’s war for independence (Sinatra dive-bombs Egyptian tanks with seltzer bottles!) He donated his salary for the part to the Arab-Israeli Youth Center in Nazareth and he also made a significant contribution to the making of Genocide, a film about the Holocaust, and helped raise funds for the film.

Less known is Sinatra in Israel (1962), a short 45-minute featurette he made in which he sang In the Still of the Night and Without a Song. He also starred in The House I Live In (1945), a ten-minute short film made to oppose anti-Semitism at the end of World War II, which received an Honorary Academy Award and a special Golden Globe award in 1946.

Courtesy of Roberta Livingston who tell us:

I have been a Sinatra fan since before I was born! (My mother was caught up in a mob of fans outside the Paramount while she was pregnant with me.) Loved his music. This is a wonderful picture of the man!

Please remember to send us your humor.
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Happy Thanks for All the Gifts Week

2010-08-20 by

Is there someone you forgot to thank?
Is that Thank You card burning a hole in your pocket?
Is Mom pestering you about calling your aunt?
How long have you meant to thank him for that locket?

Well, for all you procrastinators,
you ‘I meant to do it’ divas,
you folks with good hearts and poor memories – This one’s for YOU!

Annually, the third week in August is dedicated to saying “Thank You.” This year, the celebration spans August 16th through August 22th.

What’s a Gift?

At first glance, what things come to your mind when you see the name of this holiday? Do you see brightly wrapped packages with glittery bows? Do you see an envelope with a card, but more importantly, a generous check?

Or do you see a caring friend or relative stepping in to help when you’re overwhelmed? How about an acquaintance or mentor who takes time out of their busy day to guide you through a problem? Then, there’s the clerk at the dry cleaners who went out of her way to get you something on time – or the service manager at your auto place who fixed things you didn’t even realize could have killed you. What about the teacher who spent extra time putting together interesting lesson plans so you’d want to learn? Remember the client or customer who came by with gift because they were so pleased with your work? What about that grocery clerk at the end of the day who smiles and banters with you and lightens your load?

Taken for Granted?

Often, you don’t think about the family members who are always there for you. The people who call you regularly so yo never feel you’re alone. Or the boss who gives you regular paychecks, on time, every month – or the bonuses that you feel are your right! Do you think about the IRS agent or other tax agent who went out of their way to help get you out of a tight fix? Have you thought about your co-workers who cover for you when you’re late, or give you a hand with your projects? How did you thank your spouse, lover or parents when they made sure you had food in the fridge, utilities always operational, clean clothes. In fact, did you remember to thank your parents for all that they did? Your home, your education, perhaps even your car?

When was the last time you said “Thank You” to all the people who make your life so good?

Often, you mean to, but time seems to pass so quickly, have you noticed? All of sudden, ‘I’ll write that card next week’ has turned into two or three months. If you send it now, it would be embarrassing. Or would it?

Oodles of Gift Occasions

Thanks For All The Gifts Week was created by me, Eva Rosenberg, at this time of year for several reasons.

First, By the end of August, you’ve lived through Valentine’s Day, Purim, Easter, Passover, Secretary’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduation, Fourth of July, and your country’s annual celebration, most birthdays, many weddings and showers, lots of new babies, lots of successes and celebrations.

By this time of the summer, if you’ve had the luxury of having one (say a big THANK YOU for that privilege), your enthusiasm and energy has wilted in the heat and the humidity. School hasn’t started yet, neither has the new job. The High Holy Days of the Jews and aren’t due for a little while. It’s still a long way to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years…when, of course, you want to position yourself to get more gifts, right?

Second, one of the lovely traditions of Judaism is that before the High Holy Days, people are supposed to seek forgiveness from those they’ve wronged or hurt. But there is no tradition for you to remember to say “Thank You” to those who always treat us well.

Third, doing something nice, for no apparent reason, will make both you and recipient of your thanks feel great. (And since you’ve been feeling guilty for neglecting them for so long, just imagine the burden this will lift from your shoulders!) After all, there is never a bad time to do something nice, is there?

For Every Thing There is a Season

Well, that makes this the perfect time to catch up on all those ‘Thank You’s.’

The people you send them to aren’t expecting these expressions of gratitude. They’ll be charmed and delighted to hear from – when you don’t have your hand out. In fact, they may have been harboring resentments towards you because of all the things they’ve done for you, that you took and took as though you were simply entitled. (Read Dear Abby and Ann Landers sometimes – you’ll see some of the pain and anger expressed by parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents,...)

This is also a great time to catch up on those birthday gifts you meant to send out on their birthday. Ok, so it’s three, or six months late. Won’t that make them like it even more? It could even revive relationships!

Good Pranks

In fact, when I was in high school, I had a boyfriend whose birthday was in December. I missed it. And later, we faded apart. In the middle of the summer, I saw something that reminded me of him. So, I wrapped it up and sent it off with a birthday card. Naturally, he called, bewildered about my timing. It opened a door between us and we got closer than we ever had. In fact, it led to a marriage proposal. (Only he was just one evening too late.)

Over the years, I’ve done this to people, even people I saw every day. They’re always surprised, think I’m nuts, but go about feeling great all day. You never know when an unexpected card or gift can change a person’s life.

Buried Treasure

So, take this week to think about the people who’ve made you feel good all year. Send them a card, a note or a letter. You could send them a virtual card, but it has no permanence. Give them something they can save and cherish.

Maybe, like me, they’ve kept every personal card and letter they’ve ever received. To me, those are my most precious treasures. They are the history of all the love in my life – from friends, family, lovers, clients, and especially my husband…who seems to have squirreled away all the cards I’ve given him, too. I fell in love all over again when I found his stash one day.

And to you, my friends, I say thank you for reading my Ask TaxMama columns every week or my TaxQuips columns every day – my occasional Tweets. I thank you for your notes and comments, even when you disagree with me.

Just hearing from you spices up my day!

With warmest gratitude,

Eva Rosenberg.

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