Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Good Year to Get Lucky

I'm rolling toward Chicago this morning, on the first leg of a three-train parlay that will get me to Raleigh NC tomorrow evening. The year is only a tad more than 24 hours old, and already I'm on the road (again).

Yesterday was an interesting exercise in New Year's Day ritual—even though it didn't involve my watching a single football game. After spending the night at Moon Lodge, I hustled home in the morning and made crepes (filled with peaches from our own orchard) as part of a brunch extravaganza (we creatively mixed the juice drained from the thawed peaches with OJ and champagne to make a delicious hybrid concoction that we styled a "Bemosa"—a cross between a bellini and a mimosa). I love helping out with celebration cooking and I hadn't made crepes in years. Yum.

Following the big feed most of the crowd went down to the pond to work off some calories shoveling snow off our pond ice in preparation for a New Year's hockey game. While it's not necessarily a tradition to play hockey Jan 1, it's definitely common to shovel snow off the pond in order to pass the puck around. Given my gimpy knee however, I passed on the hockey. Instead, I engaged in a different Jan 1 ritual: accounting.

Counting On a Good Time
As Sandhill's tax man, I know that I'll want some numbers in April that are easily obtained now, yet will be the very devil to reconstruct in the spring. Thus, enlightened self interest motivated me to spend three hours yesterday collecting:
o  Cash on hand (needed to complete a balance sheet for the community as of Dec 31):
    —Money in our cash boxes
    —Money in our fair boxes
    —Money in members' wallets 
    —Postage on hand
    —Undeposited checks
    —Accounts receivable
    —Our balance in various electronic accounts (such as PayPal)
o  Inventory of goods purchased for resale
o  Odometer readings on Sandhill's fleet of vehicles

By far, the worst of these numbers to tease out was the value of our receivables. We maintain a Wholesale Account Ledger, a clipboard where we store (supposedly) Open Invoices, and a Check Log (where we record all incoming payments). In theory I should be able to go to the Open Invoice clipboard and simply add up what's there to produce a snapshot of what the community was owed as of Dec 31. Unfortunately, it ain't that simple.

When I started spot checking against the Wholesale Account Ledger to make sure that all those invoices were still live (meaning unpaid), I found an alarming number of them had been paid and then unpulled. Worse, there were entries in the Wholesale Ledger that were ambiguous and I subsequently had to check every Open Invoice against the Check Log to figure out what the ding dong was going on. Much as I enjoy cleaning up messes, this was a quagmire that I'd rather not have needed to wade through. Sigh.

My inventory fun was compounded yesterday by also conducting an end-of-year count of books and videos for Community Bookshelf, in the hope that the physical inventory bore more than a passing relationship to what our computer said we had on hand. Though there are only about 100 titles involved, and 99% of our inventory resides in a single room in the FIC Office trailer, the work was still a challenge in that all copies of a single title are not stored in a single location and the trailer is unheated and crowded. (Think of an Easter egg hunt in a packed walk-in freezer and you'll have the right image.)

Get Your 13 On!
The most fun thing I did on the First (aside from making crepes, which always makes me happy) was getting together with Amanda, my FIC Development Assistant, and cooking ways to build momentum for our Indegogo Campaign to raise funds for our new Missouri office (replacing the aforementioned walk-in freezer). On the spot we scripted and shot an update video for the campaign, playing off the fact that we've just entered 2013.

For some reason, the number 13 suffers from bad press and we figured it was high time to turn that around. So we went pro-active in the video clip, bravely proclaiming 2013 to be our lucky year. We're asking people who are inspired by FIC's work to contact 13 of their close friends—people who get it about the need for more community in the world—asking each of them to donate $13 to the campaign.

While people don't ordinarily use the terms "viral" and "lucky" in the same sentence, you're about the hear one. If our office campaign goes viral (meaning that there's enough buzz about our efforts that people we don't know are inspired to promote our message to 13 of their friends, and so on), then 2013 will indeed by our lucky year. 

And two years from now—when that spiffy new office gets built—we can look forward to doing EOY inventories without wearing a muffler and insulated jacket or being at risk for catching something viral, which would just be unlucky.

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