Tuesday, 27 June 2006

A Trip to DC Part II

Well, it is Day Four in this wonderful place, and the weather is pretty much the same. Well, I should not say that. I haven't seen so much as a peek of the sun at any point since the conference started. It was pouring this morning when I went in - fortunately, the trains were largely on time and running as they should. No flooding, no issues. The walk in was non-existent as the train took me right to the convention center. All of today's sessions were excellent for me - all four of them - but Vana went to the Wage & Hours Laws one and apparently that was a major yawner - although what else could it be? There really aren't too many ways to dress up that subject. But I got lucky.

The first class I went to was "Please Sue Me 2006". It was excellent and a riot. The speaker was quite animated, really funny and had a lot of excellent information. I loved it. I really enjoy speakers who are funny and informative at the same time.

Then I went to "Building a Better Perfromance Management System From the Inside Out" and I really got a lot out of that. I am now armed with some really great things to do to the review system! I'm very worked up about that (you see the kinds of things that work up HR people!).

Then after lunch and long wander through the Expo (again, with another 4,000 freebie marketing items making their way into my unwitting posession), we went to our respective classes - that's when Vana did the Wage & Hour thing. I went to "Beast Management: Managing Difficult People in the Workplace" - oh, that was delightful! There are five different types of really difficult people:

The Great White [Shark] - the aggressive but in control person
The Babboon - the aggressive but out of control person
The Mule - the passive aggressive person
The Viper - the stealthy individual who can be very manipulative
The Mug Wump - (I know what that is - it's a character/creature out of one of the C.S. Lewis books) power through weakness

I learned a lot of tips on how to deal with these individuals - and I have done all the benchmarks things one should not do when dealing with these types. Unfortunately for me. I'm a strong personality and usually firm and confident, but I still occasionally fall into those traps. The presenter was again delightful!

The last one was called "Dealing with Negativity in the Workplace", done by Steve Gilliland. He was delightful! He had us howling in our seats! But invaluable - I am feeling great and want to pass this along to all my managers! I'm all fired up!

It was 1720 when I got out, after having my picture taken with Steve. I went to the SHRMStore again (dangerous place!) and bought the two books by Steve Gilliland (excellent reading!) and then headed for the Metro. It was fairly empty at the Mt. Vernon station, but once we got to Farragut West and Foggy Bottom, that was it - the train was jam packed with people! I got to my exit and walked home in the wet, warm air and by the time I made it to the condo, I was soaking wet from perspiration and so overheated. But it was lovely to return.

Two more days to go - yay! I'm so hoping the weather will play more nice!

Sunday, 25 June 2006

A Trip To DC Part I

Washington DC is wonderful!

I've always loved DC. The history is amazing. New Jersey has a lot of history but is not the seat of it. New York had a lot of history, but rebuilt most of it so that the wonderful obvious history is not there anymore. Boston was a sheer delight for the same reason as DC - most of its history has been preserved.

We took the train down yesterday, after getting a ride from my father. We had a 1022 train but it was delayed out of Springfield, MA and did not get in until 1400 instead of 1325. Still, that's not awful. I did pick a regional train, though, instead of the Metroliner, which would have shaved maybe 20 minutes off of the trip. I did see tickets for the Acela train, which I've never been on, but it was a chunk more - $280 round trip instead of $147. I realise work is paying for this but there is no reason to do that to them.

We arrived in Union Station to sunny skies and some humidity but nothing too awful. DC can be beastly, but it was just a little hot and humid yesterday. Anna and Kirk were waiting for us and completely surprised to see Luis - and loved the way he looks! He does look amazing. It was wonderful to see them waiting for us. We decided to go to the Spy Museum to do something in the City since there were dire predictions for rain.

The Spy Museum was $15 per person and you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck. There were two floors of displays, photos with captions and mini-movies that people could read, look at and watch/listen. The stuff was fascinating - lipstick guns, cameras in rings, bugs, close- and far-range weapons. The caliber for a lipstick gun is .22, in case you are wondering. Clearly no good for that long-distance shot but terrible at close range.

We were in there for more than two hours and after a while it was torturous, rather than pleasant. For me - the muscular dystrophy does that. My legs and feet can't take all that protracted walking around. Also, while the movies were good, interesting and informative, the seats were open benches, with no back support. That made for a lot of patent back pain. And of course there is always someone with their 3-year-old child who yaks and screams through the movie because they certainly aren't watching it or getting anything out of it but their parents can't shut them up. A 3-year-old is going to be bored stiff in something like this! Come to think of it, most kids would be - this was more of an adult thing.

So it was after 1800 that we found ourselves in the gift store. I bought a postcard for a coworker and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Spies and Espionage" - perfect! I love those books. Right now I'm reading "Forensics for Dummies".

We left there shortly after that purchase and came home and made a reservation at Clyde's Restaurant. The food was very good and we had a nice night out. By then it was thundering and lightning and when we got to Clyde's it was pouring. We got home at 2200 and I was not up too late after that.

I had Luis set his cell phone to 0630 wake up cal and he was up before me - good thing - I'm sure he would not have appreciated waking up to that. I crawled into the shower after a quick read of the Sunday comics, then got ready for the conference. Kirk gave me a ride - thank the gods - as it was pouring out, and I do mean pouring! It was unbelievable. The rain was so heavy it was unable to get into the storm drains and the streets in DC were heavily flooded. It was really something. Kirk dropped me off right in front of the brandy-new conference center and I ran in. I signed in, got my big red bag full of goodies and managed to sneak into one of the Sunday morning preregistered sessions. (No, I wasn't preregistered... heh, heh.) The class was excellent and no one held it against me that I can in an hour into it. That ran until noon, and then I walked around to see if I could find Vana. No luck. I came back to that hall and went to another course, "Batteries Not Included". Oh, that was so WORTH IT! This little tiny woman who was as wide as she is tall did a whole stand up routine that while it was a motivational speech, was so funny, we were howling. She was up front about her weight, spoke in a riotious Southern accent (all hers) and was just terribly funny! And she certainly had us HR people pegged! We were all delighted. A room full of HR people howling away was really a sight. But what fun! I would do motivational speaking like that! She was heavy on the life observations and sarcasm, something I understand.

She also had two stuffed crabs, and at the end of the course, I came up to her to tell her how delighted I was with the seminar and then asked where she got the crabs - and she handed me one! I love it. It is definitely going in my office!

I did not have my camera - I wasn't willing to take it into that rain - but I will have it tomorrow and take some photos. Since I will be in there on my own, I think I will try to do some sight seeing after. I love the city of DC. The Spy Museum was great, but I would like to see if the Smithsonian has a Forensics area. And I want to see the usual things and the Areospace Museum. I really always can see the Areospace Museum.

I hope I catch up with Vana while I'm here and she's here. I left a message on her work number and one on her home machine asking her to call my cell. I missed her this morning. I certainly don't want to miss her now. She lives in North Carolina, and I'm in Joisey, so we don't get to see each other often. When we worked for USI we saw each other about twice a year, and always had a delightful time.

I called Anna and they came to pick me up - I thought that I was taking the Metro back, but they were in DC to look at houses and they swung by, got me and then we went to look at two houses. These are right in Washington DC and this is not a cheap proposition. The houses were just under $1,000,000,000 - Jeeeeeesus! That is a boatload of money. But the houses were kind of nice! Not what I want, not in the middle of a big city, not without any yard, and not - most definitely, absolutely NOT - a rowhouse. I suspect that these are not like rowhouses that my British friends live in... most soundproof and less noisy. I certainly did not hear any extraneous noise. But I still would not want to be that close to my neighbours. Still, the houses were a lot nicer than I'd've thought.

After that we came home, where I scarfed down a sandwhich, which I really needed. Not wanted, needed... I had nothing to eat at all except for ingesting a large cup of caffeinated tea, and I was ravenously hungry and really low on blood sugar. I shouldn't do that to myself. But I had a ham on sourdough sandwhich and loved it. Anna and I then went out to the nail salon and had a manicure and pedicure and I even "splurged" and had my eyebrows waxed. It was a weird feeling as always to have that done. The process is not bad, but the skin feels "tight" after. And it looks more pronounced since my face has tanned, and there are now whitish outlines around my eyebrows. It's not super-noticeable, I just notice it.

My fingers are done with clear polish - there's never any point in using colour acrylic, since it peels and flakes almost immediately. The toes are done in a pearly colour, and look nice. They will last a lot longer. The pedicure was a total delight - she scraped and sawed the feet (the callouses and sides) and trimmed the nails, and then she massaged my lower legs and feet - sigh. It felt so wonderful! And then after that she did my nails and massaged my hands (before applying the polish). What a lovely experience! Sometimes one needs a bit of pampering! And for $40, that is a lot of pampering!

As I type, Luis is happily cooking a meal of shrimp and veggies and rice, there is the rumble of thunder overhead and I am happy and tired. After dinner I plan to have a swim in Anna's Olympic-size swimming tub [bathtub], and then it is off to bed!

So I am having a lovely time and thoroughly enjoying myself.

Monday, 19 June 2006

Globe Trekking!

I love this show. When I am not deeply immersed in a book, I will often watch shows like "Globe Trekker", which tend to look at just one country, or several countries, or just a small portion of a very large counrty. Last night, it was Moscow, St. Petersburg and Murmansk. These were all once part of the Soviet Socialist Republic, but now they are in Russia, Moscow, now Moskva, being the southernmost city there and not too far east of Belarus. St. Petersburg (once Leningrad but voted back to St. Petersburg) is quite a bit north and located just between the Gulf of Finland directly east, Estonia to the south and Finland itself to the north. And finally, there is Murmansk, right by the Polyarnyy Inlet into the Barents Sea.

Moscow is a gorgeous city with all kinds of onion-domed buildings and beautiful squares and a lot of well-preserved history. It was apparently cool, if not outright cold, but it was not full-blown winter or it would have been totally dark, not merely winter weather overcast grey.

St. Petersburg seems to be a gorgeous city with all kinds if fun and excitenment

Friday, 16 June 2006

Ringing in the Ears - An Update

It is entirely too soon to really get excited about this, but... it seems that this condition may be improving dramatically! I certainly hope so!

The doctor, as you may have read in the posting "How Well Do You Know Anyone?" dated 10 June 2006, prescribed some Allegra (the super unbelievable not over-the-counter version that will kick your allergies' butts) and NasaCourt (nasal spray) this Monday and I went right to the pharmacy to get it and take it. I take the Allegra in the morning and then use the nasal spray at night. I find that the Allergra made me little wired the first day but is not so bad now. The nasal spray is the pits in terms of the experience (no matter how much to the outside of my nasal passage I aim the damn thing, the stuff still hurts the throat and is not fun to use) but it seems to be effective in solving the issue - so far.

So today, Day 3 of no ringing, it was there a little bit this morning but then diminished into the day... it never did that. It usually stays with me all day. Oh, I hope this works!

Cross your fingers for me!

The Complete Idiot's Guide to...

...European History

That's what I'm reading right now. I haven't been reading many novels of late, just educational stuff. Sometimes that happens, although this is an admittedly long phase of all-educational reading. But I love learning new things, or brushing up on things I knew and I certainly don't mind being addicted to this line of reading.

Anyway, I'm nearly at the end. I'm about to begin Chapter 22, The Cold War Era. I just finished Chapter 21, World War: Second Verse, Worse Than the First. That covered World War II, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler and all the atrocities Stalin and Hitler committed. Mussolini, while no great prize, wasn't the wholesale mass murderer that both Stalin (between 7 and 10 million Russians killed or "purged") and Hitler (between 6 and 12 million Jews and non-Aryans systematically killed) were. These people were monsters. And their timing was perfect for them to make a permanent blood-stained mark on history in a really big way. Although Stalin doesn't seem to attract the fascination and infamy that Hitler has, it may be that he is the largest-scale mass murder on record for killing off people - certainly for killing his own compatriots he is hands-down the winner. Hitler was more an equal opportunity mass murder and had a whole laundry list of races and diverse living styles of humanity that he happily wanted to off.

I may not practice Judaism in any way, shape or form, but I am, in point of fact, considered Jewish. My maternal grandmother was Jewish, and you know how that works (Jews are considerably more practical in establishing lines of descent. It is done through the mother, not the father, as paternity can be suspect). So I am by Jewish doctrine, Jewish. I'm perfectly OK with that. I like to point it out with great pride to anti-Semitic people who think they know me and see them stammer and stutter and say, "Oh, I'm really not against Jewish people." I worked for someone who made a lot of openly anti-Semitic remarks until I dropped that little bomb and then, at least in my earshot, it stopped! Point for me...!

Anyway, I find the whole Hitler thing fascinating to read about. It is horrifying and terrible and it never ceases to amaze me that man can commit such atrocities to his fellow man. And that so many people rallied behind this incredible madman to take up his cause. I don't doubt that a large number of adherents did it to survive and really did not buy into it, but huge numbers did love his twisted philosophies and did buy into ALL of it and happily took up the flag he carried. And then actually went forward in systematically killing in cold blood all those millions of people.

I understand it when diseases rampage the earth and kill off thousands upon thousands of people. It isn't nice and it isn't fun but it is just the course of nature and survival of the fittest. Sometimes humanity is the fittest and sometimes some teeny little germ or bacteria or virus is the fittest and weeds out tons of us in an effort to survive. But when one human being conspires to commit genocide on any scale... that is not nature, that is not just survival of the fittest. It is WRONG.

I am firm believer that if a cure is found for cancer, all or most of the various forms of cancer, something else will rise to the fore to take cancer's place in the line-up of diseases/health conditions that will kill wholesale amounts of people. Nature is struggling to keep a balance of creatures and we keep screwing up everything by wildly procreating, living well past the one-time age range of humans and keeping the death toll down and the birth rates up. That is just the balance of nature. And nature will continue to keep that fight going, whether it is cancer, AIDS, Ebola, natural disasters (earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.), or other bizarre twists of natural fate that attempt to get the numbers of humanity back into a manageable level.

I am not a firm believer that this job needs to fall to mankind.

And what happened? After World War I, erroneously called "the War to end all Wars", where did we go wrong? Well. Some of it was timing, some of it was looking the other way while Hitler was showing signs of being a future disaster looking for a place to happen, some of it was just sheer screaming stupidity. There were, as with anything on so large a scale, a mulititude of factors that contributed to history turning out as it did. Even hindsight is not always 20/20. Clearly we don't always see those past lessons cropping up again.

Thankfully, neither did Hitler. Had he read about Napoleon, he might have had a clue as to how well invading Russia would have gone, once the brutal Russian winter set in. Clearly he missed the big red flags associated with invading a country accustomed to such horrific winter weather. Good thing, for us, really. I wouldn't wish to imagine the world had Hitler managed to meet all of his goals. What a pity he committed suicide, too. Seeing a minority commit his execution would have been much more fitting an end to such as he.

Reading. What a wonderful thing!

Saturday, 10 June 2006

How Well Do You Know Anyone?

[Started Saturday, 10 June]

My colleague at work spent a rather considerable amount of time asking me what was up, wrong, bothering me, etc. It was both very gratifying and somewhat annoying - it certainly started out well, but after several reassurances that nothing was unduly wrong in life (for me at this moment in time), it was more annoying and less "isn't-that-sweet-how-much-you-care-about-my-well-being".

And it is making me wonder what the concern really is... call it my suspicious, what-are-you-up-to HR nature, but that much asking makes the incident stand out in my mind and so I cogitate on it and go through several theories, some of which stick and others that end up on the scrap heap, thoroughly thought through and easily discarded. But the only true answer is in my colleague's head and I strongly suspect that even this individual could not verbalise what the real reasoning is behind it.

This has happened more than once, so as time clicks on and the instances pile up, it strikes me more and more rather than less. Overall, I think it is coming from a good place. In depth, I'm not sure if this falls under the category of "can't stand not knowing", job-related intelligence gathering, "what a concerned person I am" or something else that I may not have (or ever will) hit upon.

Now that I think about it, all of the people in this individual's particular line of work I have ever dealt with have had this trait. Maybe it is trained into them. This colleague reminds me terribly of a former colleague, Joe Autera. I loved working with Joe and he really knew his stuff. He told me tons of stories from his past experiences from his past work (a vocation/topic I am completely fascinated with) and other similarly-related things. He never told me anything he should not have (just to be clear). I found him to be funny, fun, serious about his job (he was also the top of the line in his department), and consistently suspicious of everyone. Despite that, we had an excellent relationship. He also taught me to be a lot less trusting and much more wary of people. But he always had my back, my best interests at heart and never mislead me once in the entire time we worked together.

Neither would this person.

Still, the same traits in Joe that annoyed me very closely match this person's annoying traits. It's actually amusing. And if I think about it, they would, if they were to ever meet, either love each other or hate each other, with no middle ground. Curious...

Well, back to my original musings... I was thinking about this in the shower, where I often do my best thinking. Unfortunately, somewhere between lathering up my hair and sitting in front of the computer, all those wonderful thoughts have drained out of my head, much as the shampoo travels in rivulets down the contours of my body to disappear down the drain... Very flowery, eh? At any rate, there is no digging them out. And if I don't sit down and work this out of my system right after that shower, as is my wont, it all disappears, never to make it into my blog. Very disappointing. So here I am, wrapped in a towel - actually, two... one around my body and one around my curling hair. It's 0830, and I should be heading to my parents' house to get the pool opened up... but this needs to be written and creativity does not wait. Not that this really falls under creativity but more just transferring my thoughts to hard drive. Someone's hard drive, anyway.

[resumed Sunday, 11 June]
So this begs the question: is there something wrong? Is he seeing something in (or on) me that I don't see? It is possible. But it is unlikely. I'm generally eminently aware of my feelings on any topic. I'm a terribly easy read on the surface and I prefer it that way. I hate guessing what someone is feeling at any given time, so I prefer to allow people the luxury of not having to wonder how I feel about... whatever. So there should be nothing unduly wrong if I am answering that way.

I like to qualify things as "unduly" wrong as opposed to just "a little bit" or generally wrong. Life is never perfect and would be rather disappointing if it was all just fine and right and then when would you really give some deep meaningful thought to anything? That is not worth it. All the negatives that crop in day-to-day living, even more so than the really unusual big things, are what make us stronger, better people.

So I should examine, more closely, that which is not right in life and maybe, just maybe, my colleague is reading something I'm wholly unaware of communicating. And maybe not. I like to keep an open mind to various possibilities. He's probably just misreading the normal sexual tension I'm feeling around him that I try not to communicate but struggle with anyway. (I told him I don't have a crush on him anymore but these things don't just *poof* go away...)

And here I am, a day later, still ready to really pick apart life and see if there is anything in there worth fretting over, or that I am, subconsciously, fretting over... It's 12:55 on Sunday afternoon. I'm still pretty happy although last night was eventful enough that I undoubedtly appear thoughtful and even pensive to other people right now. It was that kind of night.

Before that, though, I was feeling quite delighted. In general, I suppose the biggest areas in my life are (not in any particular order):

Health
Finances
Work
Family
Friends
Squad
Home

Taking each area separately, we have a lot of things under those topics:

Health: Well, my health is never great or perfect. An accident in 2001 left me with some ongoing back pain which does diminish slowly with time and yoga and generally being smarter about posture and other things. I also have two bad knees from a childhood trauma (I fell off of a balance beam in gym and tore the cartilage in both knees - one of which had arthroscopic surgery in 1996 and is quite improved). Those are really not major things, and I live with them, and easily at that. The back pain usually occurs after doing especially hard work (opening the pool up yesterday did NOT do wonders for my lumbar area!), the knee issues are intermittent and much less frequent than it once was, prior to the surgery, although once in a while I still have issues with the left knee. But this is life, and not anything that causes me undue worry.

I do (very likely) have muscular dystrophy and that sometimes really bothers me. (My mother was formally diagnosed with it and so was one of her two sisters. I show all the same hallmark signs but have not had the time and courage to confirm it. Yes, even I experience denial - I just admit to it!) Most of the time, it is not there at the top of my mind. But on calls it comes up time and again and there are some ongoing tasks that become harder and harder over time. The yoga is helpful here, too. I actually have regained some of my old flexibility and stamina back, but lifting is still a challenge. I do try more, though. Again, this is something that I have been living with for some time, so I don't much worry over it. I have the more prosaic attitude that if it doesn't kill me, I'm OK with that!

What else? Well, there is the over-bearing sex drive, but I mostly am amused by it. It is not as bad to live with as it used to be with Luis having lost all the weight and having a greatly increased sexual appetite. That is certainly a wonderful improvement.

Ah, but there is the "ringing in the ears", a newer development. This started a while ago, but I can't say when... it transitioned from a once-in-a-while thing to a much more annoying and obvious on again, off again sort of thing. I have it for a day or two then I don't but when I have it, it is very annoying and clearly audible and I cannot drown it out or tune it out. It's always the entire day that I have it and then I just have to see what the next morning brings. It is worrying. I have a 1500 appointment tomorrow with the ear-nose-throat doc and hopefully he will have a diagnosis and cure/palliative/fix for it! That will take an enormous weight off of me.

I can live with an annoying high-pitched whine in my ears - but what if this is a precursor to something considerably scarier or more sinister such as hearing loss? I will not be able to continue on as an EMT without my sense of hearing. And I have hearing that seems to far exceed that of most people's hearing ability. I don't want to lose that! I have corrective lenses, diminished taste and smell due to consistent mucus blockage from all-year-round allergies, and having really great hearing is wonderful!

So I am worried a lot about that. But I am taking active steps to rectify the issue.

Finances: Always an area of great discontent and fuss, but not one that really upsets me (maybe if it did upset me more it would not be as bad as it tends to be). But this is one of those areas that is always a trouble spot and therefore not really a trouble spot (if you understand what I mean)... it is what it is. If I spent much time - if any - worrying about money, I'd be a quivering ball of completely screwed up person slobbering in a corner and playing with my lower lip. Am I a financial solid, stable person? No. And it doesn't seem likely that I will wake up one day and BE a solid, stable person when it comes to my fecundiary status. So I don't think that my esteemed colleague is picking up on that. Right now, I'm still living paycheck to paycheck, no easy feat, and paying the bills, AND paying my debt... again, no easy feat. But it is stable at the moment. This would be an "up" time in my financial world.

Work: I happen to be at a very high, wonderful pinnacle in my professional life. I love my job. I love my work. I can even say I minimally dislike payroll instead of I heavily despise it with every fiber of my being! Not bad... about two or three months ago I mentioned someday finding a part-time person to payroll, to which my GM replied, "I am ignoring you right now." He was being funny but the message was clear: this is not and won't be for a long time (if ever) a consideration. He's always up front with me and I am fully appreciative of that. I never worry what page I'm on with that man!

My coworkers are wonderful - most of them, clearly not all - who could get that lucky?! But as a whole I really love most of the people, from the highest Management to the lowest paid part-time employee. These are all kinds of people - some open, some very private, some warm, some distant, all shapes, sizes, colours, origins, religions, etc. What is not to love there? Sure, some of them give me no end of headaches and some are no trouble at all and then most fall into the middle. But they listen to me and treat me as though I have some value. Gotta love that. So this facet of my life is exceptionally happy. There are one or two dark clouds over there but they are small and insignificant to my feelings about the job as a whole.

Family: Well, no one can push your buttons like a family member can. As with any long-term relationship, we have our issues and trouble spots. I hate the way Luis won't take vacations; he hates the way I go to bed so early - which I do. I usually crash between 2030 and 2100. But in an overall sense we have a great relationship and I certainly would not imagine life any other way. I love my Luis, good, bad and/or ugly!

My parents I have a very open loving relationship with. Yes, my pill-swilling, surgery-happy mother gets on my nerves a bit but she can't help it. I wish she would relax but instead she's more and more bossy and controlling (because she can be - partially my father's fault for letting her walk all over him with cleats on...). She has become less and less tolerant of others who don't share her exact opinions on things. That is annoying but when she is just chatting about this or that, it's all good. She's incredibly intelligent (just not where pharmaceuticals are concerned) and she is a wonderful parent. She drives me crazy, but I am sure that she would say that it's a "perk".

My pusillanimous, sweet father is my best friend. We usually see each other once a week to run errands, do all the boring things that we never can get done during the week. We have a lot of fun, and we go out for a nice breakfast, just the two of us, and chat and laugh over our coffee and tea. I helped him get the pool open, no easy task but a fun with the two of us cutting up and joking the whole way through.

The rest of my family is fine, I see them typically once a year for the holidays. That's really fine with me. I'm not a big one to be hung up on family traditions like Thanksgiving and all that other horse shit. I still remember going to Seders when I was a kid! No, thanks. It's one thing to go to a friend's house for that - it's your friends and it is your option to say no. My friends also don't have any expectations that I will become Jewish or whatever other religion we may be participating in that time. I may not care too much about this sort of thing, but I certainly understand why people do it. But I do not go to family events ever out of a sense of obligation! That is the worst reason in the world to go to anything.

Thankfully no one is slated to get married, have kids, throw any really large-scale events of any kind. I mean, a birthday party is one thing. A wedding is a drag. I try to discourage people from inviting me to showers of any kind (have you ever noticed that this special form of torture is reserved for women? Men don't engage in this sort of nonsense. Men are much more practical about such things and bail out! Or have a bachelor party - much better!) I don't look upon this as fun... and women get so weird about this sort of thing! Cooing, oohing and ahhhing over the dumbest things. I went to my friend Vicki's wedding and baby showers and we were both rolling our eyes and making fun of the others who were just so over the top about this. We both view these events the exact same way.

Friends: My friends are wonderful and mean the world to me, even when I'm in the full throws of working and busy and fussy and not readily available for things. I'm very happy with all of my friends!

Squad: This is a funny sort of grey area. Luis is (I think) proud of my EMT work, but he doesn't really show it and mostly views it as something that is a pain in the butt. For him it is the very minorest of inconviences. The pager does wake him up sometimes but he falls right back to sleep whereas I have to get my butt out of bed. We hear the loud rig going by the house - the engine, the lights, the sirens and as a special, if I'm not riding on my normal night, Bob will lean on that air horn to remind me that I am dissing my crew! Mostly this doesn't add any undue strain, but it is funny.
For myself, I love this part of my life! I love riding, I love driving the rig, I love working with the patients, I love the people I ride with (a large number of them, anyway), and I find that the work is immensely satisfying and interesting and gives me the excitement I like to have. I have seen people die and some that cut off things and some that drank dopey things like Isopropyl alcohol and it never ceases to amaze me the things that people do! Mostly, people are fine and survive and really aren't that emergent but they feel that they are. So it's mostly quite OK!

Home: Home is mostly the house and upkeep of things. [Thursday, 15 June - I'm resuming writing this posting after almost a week... my viewpoint may have changed a little in that time as the events of this week have coloured my life... still, not too much in the big picture, as things have just been the usual little highs and lows of daily life.] Anyway, the house looks good, and I have a much better handle on the daily upkeep by cleaning up in the morning and cleaning up in the evening for ten minutes each time instead of allowing it to pile up and then spending half a day (or worse, a whole day!) immersed in a cleaning frenzy! That helps a lot. I'm off today and tomorrow and have plans to do things... get a couple of bins to store away winter clothes (since starting the current job, my wardrobe has expanded considerably... and the closet is overloaded. I was hoping to never have to swap out summer/winter clothes again, but that is not meant to be...); clean out the library downstairs; clean out the garage (it is not a mess, but the storage closets are filling up) and prep for the upcoming bathroom renovation. Our guy is coming tonight for us to pick out plumbing stuff (faucets, etc.) and will be asking us to go pick out tiles. We are renovating two bathrooms (they are both currently looking very circa 1968 and cramped), so that should be... really exciting (a nice way of saying total hell!).

Luis has also turned a bit "green" but don't kid yourself, it isn't due to any great liking of being environmentally conscious. He is going forward with putting solar panels on the roof and having the roof replaced. I'm pushing for a different colour roof entirely. The current one is a brownish red colour and just hideous. My parents got a green roof. Trust me, when my mother told me that I thought it sounded truly awful. It turned out beautifully! Who would have thought? I don't know if it will be beautiful on our house, but I suspect almost anything would be an improvement over the current colour!

And there is the In-Sink-Erator that was replaced on Tuesday. That was $600 (a drop in the bucket for Luis) but well worth it. I'm used to having it and so is he. But as usual we heard those ugly little words that every contractor or repair person has uttered since we bought the house: "Well, they had a top-of-the-line {whatever}, but whoever installed it did a terrible job!" Yes, that is the secret we uncovered in our ownership of this house. The Tischlers would buy the best possible product and then cheap out and gerry-rig everything to install it themselves. The electric, all of the appliances, various piping and plumbing... all installed poorly. Not so much that the items fail but enough that everyone across the board comments on the poor workmanship in it.

So that is life in a nutshell: good and bad. Oh, and an update: my ears aren't ringing today and weren't yesterday but the real test is tomorrow. I went to the ENT on Monday afternoon and he prescribed Allegra and NasaCourt - one allergy pill and one nasal spray (I hate nasal sprays but it beats the alternative - surgery - and I am scheduled for a hearing test at Morristown soon. Next week, on Wednesday. We'll see how this works. I should have a hearing test anyway. I hope the medication works, though, as that will be better than the other option... my ear bones in the middle ear aren't moving to transmit sound properly and that would need to be fixed surgically instead of through modern medicine. I would prefer not to have surgery... I will if it is needed, however.

I seem to be suddenly catching up on all that is medical in my life... I have a multitude of appointments over the next month. It's time for the annual PAP smear, there is the ear thing, there is a trip to the dermatologist and I need to meet my new doctor (my new medical plan kicks in on 1 July and it is an evil and heinous HMO, and my beloved doctor is not in the plan, so I am forced to obtain a new one. I had my doctor refer me to one, though. But HMO means referrals again, so to go to the dermatologist, I need to go to my new doctor. I have seen his name, though - he is the primary doctor for several of my EMS patients).

I'm going to need to see a neurologist at some point to confirm whether or not I really have muscular dystrophy. I have to admit that the yoga is doing wonders for that. I am stronger, more fit and have a bit more muscle tone than I did before I started.

Speaking of which, I need to go do that now.

I guess I haven't fully closed this out. I don't know what it is that my coworker is picking up. I will chalk it up to just being a good caring person... that sounds good and is the least suspicious of all the possible answers. And life goes on!

Thursday, 8 June 2006

Purring is the Best Medicine

Oh, how funny was that?


I came home from a call, a fairly alarming one at that. Looked like an incipient heart attack - never a good sign. I was feeling pretty drained, but still managed to drag myself downstairs for the Thursday night chore... cleaning the two kitty litter boxes. Oh, yes, that exciting life I lead when not running around in the rig, looking for some street that doesn't show on the Parsippany map...


Well, I changed the litter boxes after stopping to pet and scratch Chelsea, happily napping on the outlaw's couch. I got them done fairly quickly and decided to reward myself for a job well done by stopping to stroke the cat some more. And then I had my idea.

After all, I'm sitting there with my "ears" hanging 'round my neck...


I put on my nice expensive Littman stethoscope and put the other end on Chelsea's side. It was purring on steroids! The moise was like a really nice deep jet engine! It was amazing and struck me as quite funny. But I was delighted to hear this lovely sound, this happy sound, magnified to the nth degree. Chelsea did not seem to mind it at all. I certainly did not need to press at all hard to get that incredible sound!

It made me feel like all was right with the world again, and that is a good feeling!

Saturday, 3 June 2006

When Do We Fire the Catholic Church?

Speaking for myself, I'm not (big surprise) a Christian and certainly not a Catholic! I'm also missing the mommy gene, having no kids and not even an iota of interest in having one! But as much as I don't get the whole Catholic thing and the wanting kids thing, I realise and accept that other people are and do... I'm a huge proponent of freedom and as long as your Catholicism and parentism (not a word, I know) is not harming anyone, well, then, have at it!

As usual, I received my issue of People (dated 12 June) with an article entitled "The Good News: You're Pregnant; The Bad News: YOU'RE FIRED!" on page 83. And once again, I am feeling the ire and rage that can only be brought on by religious idiots, in this case the Catholic Church.

A couple in Appleton, Wisconsin tried for five heart-breaking years to have children and after 30 failed pregnancy tests and trying hormones and other methods to have kids, they finally went for broke (literally! - IVF is not a cheap proposition) and went with IVF (invitro fertilization) to have the children that they so badly wanted! And the gods listened to them and now they have twins... two lovely little girls. And the reaction of the parochial school that Kelly worked for? Congratulations and oh, by the way... you're fired!

Apparently, as much as the Church wants you to go forward and procreate, they really don't want you to do it for happiness or out of any other method than "natural conjugal relationships". Ye gods. I knew that the Church was nitpicky and uptight but this is reaching a level that is positively ridiculous.

They are suing and I hope to the heavens that they are completely successful and really stick it to these stupid morons!

Other offenses that have gotten people fired? Here they are:

-- A social studies teacher was fired for fathering a child out of wedlock

-- An unmarried and pregnant woman lost her job for being just that - unmarried and pregnant

-- A woman was asked to leave her job because she volunteered at a local Planned Parenthood

-- A woman in Kentucky was fired for remarrying prior to her annulment being finalized

Gasp! Lock up your daughters, look what these people are doing! Procreating, not using protection against pregnancy, getting married before an annulment goes through and not having abortions. Hmmm. Has the world gone mad?

No, I doubt it. The Church, not really a realistic purveyor of real life among real people, has once again made it abundantly clear that it's their way or the highway, no matter how out-of-date and outmoded its tenets and ideals. Penn & Teller said it: the Church is BULLSHIT!