Monday, December 18, 2006

This is the first day of the rest of my so-called life

This weekend just felt like any other one, but today! A Monday of permanent workless-ness! So nice.

On my last day, my co-workers took me (and the Hubby) to lunch, followed by a nice cake-and-snacks party, and a lovely gift of a fountain pen (which I collect). They are a nice bunch of people, and I like to think I did a good job for them these last 30 months. As for the two or three b****s that I barely survived back before this last job, I am secure in the knowledge that what goes around comes around, and that there will come a day when they are in need of a helping hand and they won't get it. PFFFTTTTT.

I am propped up here in bed writing this on the new MacBook. The screen is so much brighter than my desktop, and I can position it so I can actually read with my bifocals. I tell my family I don't need a thing for Christmas, that I have everything I can think of, most especially the freedom to pursue my interests full time.

And right now I think I'll pursue a snack.......

Monday, December 11, 2006


Today is my LAST Monday at work! I saw both my psychiatrist and my therapist earlier today, and they both remarked on how upbeat I sound today.

This weekend, I rounded up a batch of photos from our 2001 vacation to the Carribean, scanned or uploaded them to the MacBook, and began arranging them into an album. It's a small start on the photos, which include 36 years of our photos, all of my mother's, my mother-in-law's, my paternal grandmother's (she was a flapper in the twenties and some of her photos are a hoot!)and including various portraits and cabinet cards handed down from WAAAY back. Some of the cabinet cards are from the Matthew Brady studio in D.C., where my grandmother's parents lived. And many of them have no names on them, grrrr.... Of course the people who had them originally knew who they were, but now I am clueless. In some cases, I have simply guessed and in others I'm making them up, because after all, who is there to contradict me? And so my children and so on will have a lovely photgraphic legacy to pass along. I find it so sad when I find old family albums for sale in antique shops, to me it means there was no one left who cared, no one at all, to keep them in the family. The same with family Bibles, I would KILL (well, not really)to have a family Bible to clarify my genealogy searches. When I watch Antique Road Show, I marvel when I hear someone say, "Oh, this belonged to my great-great (X5) grandfather, my father left it to me." I mean, the main thing my parents left me were debts and furniture from Sears; oh yeah, and old photos....

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Movin' right along, dum de dum

If you don't recognize the title, it's from the Muppets Take Manhatten movie, and the tune is bumping along in my head as I write this.

Just 5 days of work left. I've been working since September of 1972, barring some time off for babies, moving, surgery, etc. And I feel every bit that old, too. Lately I've been having dreams, more like nightmares, of trying to do some lab procedure and flubbing it up. I wake up and think, hummm, how DID I do that? Which is totally unproductive, since I have forgotten WAY more procedures than I ever learned (leaving me at a -9 in knowledge). I think this must be the work equivalent of the post-college dreams of having an exam in a class I forgot to attend all semester.

In other news, I bought a (used) MacBook to use on the massive photo album project I'm planning, and Crikey! I LIKE it. I may become an Apple convert -- probably the only conversion likely at this point! Back in the Old Days, when "mini computers" were first moving into work and homes (like 1980), my then-boss bought our lab an Apple IIe, and I re-wrote the program for our data analysis (a weighted fit log-logit program) to run on it, previously done on a mainframe. It was a darned complex program for a mini, but far too simple to justify running it on a main-frame, and I was way proud of it. I still have the code (in BASIC) somewhere. Anyway, when the Hub and I decided we should get a computer ourselves, he pointed out that all the government offices were going to IBM PCs, and to be able to work at home, an Apple would be useless for him. So we bought/made a 286/16 ("blindingly fast", don't you know?) PC from component parts, which ran on MS-DOS, of course, using a program called "Automenu" to start the various programs. For years I had a sign for my desk that said "I don't do Windows", but eventually we were forced to switch, starting with 3.0, I think. It didn't work any better then, simple as it was, than it does now, unfortunately. But all this time, I've toyed with the idea of having a Mac, and recently thought I'd dabble. I installed Parallels on it, which lets you run Windows on a virtual machine, mainly so I could load Family Tree Maker and take my family file with me when I go to courthouses/library to work on the genealogy thing. It was a little difficult, simply because I couldn't locate a bootable CD for Windows XP. I mean, here at home we have 5 computers running XP on them, but since XP comes pre-installed, with a partition on the hard drive for Recovery, NO install disks! Or so I thought, until I remembered the defunct (fried motherboard) Compaq laptop my daughter bought some 15 months ago (never buy a Compaq, trust me on this). Compulsive that she is, she had the thing IN its original box, with all the papers, manuals, etc. that came with it, and LO, there was an XP install disk, with the key code stuck on the bottom of the laptop. Given that it is DOA ($800 to repair!), I felt completely justified in installing that copy of XP on the MacBook. Did you know that it is real complicated to make a CD that is bootable? No more of the "format D: /s" to make it bootable; that parameter is no longer available for the format command. Instead you have to burn an .iso image to the disk (one program to create the image, another to burn the image in the correct sector) and then transfer the correct Windows file to it....I gave up. And making a copy of someone else's bootable install CD doesn't make the copy bootable either (well, duh). Anyway, the Mac now runs both OSs and I'm right pleased with myself. All that computer programming back in the early 70s wasn't a complete waste (keypunch cards, remember those days? No? Well, then I guess I'm older than dirt, after all....).

For my final week at work, I think I'll be doing it with a cold, rotten luck. I haven't had one in years, but today I've got a sore throat, and that "malaise" feeling that all is Not Right in Redhead land. I tend to get (somewhat) morbid when I'm ill, and along with the Muppet tune, I've got John Donne's Meditation 19 rolling around in my brain ("Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee..."). I had to memorize it for an English Lit class eons ago, and one thing about it, it's stuck in my memory forever, unlike more important information, like the names of my children. I think that my memory worked best when there was so little in it, why else would I still remember the poem "Winken, Blinken, and Nod" after 50 years? Not something I've had call to use much in the meantime...

Movin' right along

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Counting Down

I only have ***15*** days of actual work left. December 15th is my last day, and I'm feeling a fair amount of unreality now. Friday (the day after turkey day), the Hub and I went to our bank and made the LAST payment on our mortgage. We actually paid it off 11 years early, having moved in here in Oct. of 1980 with an interest rate of 12 and one-quarter percent (not unusual for those days), and having re-financed it twice to take advantage of the much-lower interest rates, and to put an addition on the house. Starting Jan 3rd, the kitchen remodel will begin (already paid for), replacing linoleum with tile, and Formica countertops with Corian, and a Corian sink, new disposal, etc. Keeping the original cabinets, which need a little touch-up here and there, like new knobs and such, but they were top-of-the-line back then, and I still like them, dings notwithstanding. Of course, all this means having no kitchen for a week or more, and having to pack up all the kitchen junk in the base cabinets and move it all into the dining room (somehow), so that the tile will go under the cabinets, and more specifically, under the dishwasher. As it turns out, the weird black marks on the linoleum in front of the dishwasher and sink area are not caused by the backing of the throw rug; no indeed, they are caused by the dishwasher having corroded through its base, leaking under the dishwasher (mushrooms!!! Under the dishwasher!!!) and seeping betweeen the two layers of linoleum, and then mold forming. A total mess. A new dishwasher was installed, but this clearly only addressed the immediate problem and not the damage done by the leak. This latest remodel should be the last for the kitchen. Oh yeah, we're repainting too, starting with the (ewwww) ceiling. My ideal in a kitchen would be one with a big floor drain, and a reel-out steam hose you could use to BLAST AWAY at the greasy, cobwebby bits, ceiling to floor, cabinets, appliances, countertops, the works. Daily. Sort of like an operating room, all white tile and stainless steel and bright lights. Meanwhile, scrub, paint, and then keep scrubbing. I tend to work on housework the way they paint the Golden Gate bridge--I putter away at it, slowly making progress day to day, but never having the whole thing done at once, just starting over again and again and...

Our Thanksgiving was fine in all respects. Having once had only the two of us for it, then gradually adding more and more people (I think the high was 17), and then gradually having attrition back to just the four of us, Hub and I and the kids (now 25 and 26). For the first time, daughter R came in the kitchen and helped with that last hour's worth of pandemonium, peeling and stirring and setting the table and so forth, WITHOUT being asked. Then she and her brother began the clean-up. It always amazes me, how long the prep and cleanup take, when the actual eating is done in, oh, twenty minutes. You know the definition of an optimist? It's the guy who asks, the day after Thanksgiving, "What's for dinner?"

I was off this entire week, and got a lot of re-organizing done, and also a fair amount of reading and naps. I even did some Christmas shopping, washed and vacuumed my car, and the usual laundry. Which reminds me: I have a key hanger that has a spare key for pretty much everything. When I took my Miata to get its winter shoes put on, I thought I'd use the spare key so I wouldn't have to wrestle with taking the key off my keyring. I grabbed it, hopped in the car and OOPs, it didn't work. My guess is that it is the key for one of the other two Miatas I had in the past. So I popped by the Mazda dealer to get a spare key made, and guess what? They have a "chip" for security in the key, and to get a key made you have schedule a service visit, bring the car and ALL the keys with you, and have them program the new key. The cost? $115. For a spare key! Don't you think they should have mentioned this at the time we bought the car? Also, they told us that the main computer in the car has been recalled (we never were notified), and when the replacement comes in, they will call for us to schedule a time to bring the car back, along will ALL the keys, to be re-made (fortunately, for free). If we had known about the recall, maybe we would have saved some $$ by asking for another key THEN, but alas...

That's about it for now, I'll try to post more frequently now that I will be a Lady of Leisure. Maybe even post some photos! as soon as I figure out just how to do that.....

Friday, November 10, 2006

What are the odds?

Two weeks ago my husband and I arranged to meet at a local restaurant for lunch. I got there first, and was shown to a table, and I sat facing the door so I could watch for the Hub. As I was seated, I realized that at the table directly behind me, also facing the door, sat a man that I used to work for (D), whom I disliked, with three women from his department. We didn't make eye contact, so I didn't speak, just sat down.

So here I am at a table alone, looking over the menu, waiting. I swear I wasn't eavesdropping on D, there was just a wash of murmured conversation all around me. But have you ever been in a place, maybe a party, where you're wool-gathering, and suddenly someone nearby speaks your name in passing and your attention zeros in on that voice? That's what happened here--D said not just my first name, but first and last names. Over the next couple of minutes as I listened, I realized what he was saying. At first I thought, he DID see me, and now he's going to say hello, and I'll have to be polite back. But actually, he was telling the women about when I worked in his department, how I had taken 3 months of leave (FMLA, actually) following a suicide attempt that put me in the ICU, and how they terminated my position the day I returned; and that in response I had filled a grievance against the department, and then proceeded to tell them how the grievance went. And the longer I listened, the angrier I got, that here was this jerk revealing confidential information to other people, just as an entertaining story! He also mentioned that now I inspect his departmental labs for safety, etc. etc. I was in a quandary sitting there, deciding what to do. They had already been served, so inevitably they would pass directly past my table as they left and D would see me, and then think, did she hear me? And I wanted to tell him Yes, I DID hear him; and I wanted him to stop before more juicy tales emerged while I sat there feeling devastated. So I turned around, leaned over to look him directly in the face. He said "Hey, there's M now!" all hearty hail-fellow-well-met. I said, "You might want to think about changing the subject right about now." He said , "Huh?" and I repeated it. Then I turned around, and signaled the Hub, who had just arrived at the door. There was freezing silence behind me, and a few minutes later they fled past our table and out.

So what are the odds that I would be seated near someone I knew, and that without my own companion to talk to, I would overhear him, 4 years after the fact, talking about me? Could he have unconsciously registered me when I was seated, and that started the train of thought? Did he CONSCIOUSLY know I was there, and start the conversation so I WOULD overhear? They say eavesdroppers never hear anything good about themselves, and I guess this proves that.

But yesterday, I finished the annual lab safety inspections on his department, and there are all kinds of deficiencies, some of the ones I pointed out last year still haven't been corrected, and I will bring the most egregious violations to the attention of the administration. With prejudice, I might add. Ah, payback is a bitch.....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Newbie Drivers

I grew up in Miami Florida, or My-YAM-ee, and when I was home for the summer after my freshman year of college, I needed to find a job and get more $$ for school. I put in apps many places, but usually telling them you were leaving in September ended the interview right there. One of the places I went to was MacDonalds. At that time I was driving my parents big ole Chevy Stationwagon, and the view out the back was limited by that tailgate. Backing up in the empty parking lot in the pouring rain, I accidentally backed into a post, about 6 inches in diameter and maybe 30 inches high. It dented in the bumper, pushing it up against the tailgate, so that opening the tailgate would crease it. I didn't want to tell my parents, so I "forgot" to say anything that night. The very next day, Mom drove me to an interview downtown, where we had to park in a valet parking garage. After we came home my dad arrived home and parked his car behind the wagon and came in storming, "What the h--- happened to the tailgate?" And Mom said, Oh d---, it must have been that valet, I hate having to turn the car over to someone instead of parking myself, they must have backed out into a post and never said a word, I've a good mind to go back and demand they fix it, but of course they'll deny it was them, I guess we'll just have to get it fixed, etc. etc. for some time. As for me, I said nothing, other than, oh my, just look at that! etc. If they had seriously planned on making a fuss at the garage, I like to think I'd have 'fessed up, but I dunno...
Anyway, for YEARS after that, Mom would always say,"no valet parking for us, remember what happened to the stationwagon?" She said this very thing when she visited us in San Francisco, where nearly all the restaurants in the city had valet parking. So, did I ever confess? Nope. So if she's up there somewhere checking in on me, sorry Mom, it was an accident. I promise I'll tell you next time.....

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Hallowe'en

Yesterday was All Saints Day, so today is All Hallowed Eve, when (so the tale goes) the dead can return. In ancient days (isn't that a nice, all-purpose generic term for any past time where there isn't an actual date?) people went inside before dark and didn't open the door for any reason until dawn. Sigh. It would be OK with me if we all skipped the whole trick-or-treat thing. And yes, I went when I was a kid (for HOURS, too, with a pillowcase that got so heavy you had to sling it over your shoulder like Santa) and my kids went too. When they were very small, I told them it was for Big Kids, and when they got older I told them it was for Little Kids, but this was not a successful ploy and for several years I was forced to endure the tagging along as they raced from house to house. I told them if they forgot to say "thank you" after they got the candy, then I got the candy, so they made a game of always saying thanks very loudly. When my son got to be 11 or 12, he was six feet tall, and I told him (correctly) that people resent teenagers (or kids who look like teenagers) going door to door, because it's a night for the kids. He was disappointed, and I said, is it just the candy you'll miss? And he said, Duh, yeah. So I said, no problem, I'll buy all the candy and more than you would have collected, and he was "cool" with that. But one thing about those days is that I didn't have to pass out the candy, because I went with the kids, and now this is my lot in life. This is a corollary of Murphy's Law, that says any job you do twice in a row is yours forever. Because we have inside cats, and dancing with the open front door all evening is a great way to have the incomparable task of Hunting for Cats By Flashlight, I drag a chair out on the front deck, and sit in the cold for an hour WITH an entire bowl of CHOCOLATE sitting in my lap. My only problem was, what to do with all the candy wrappers? Coat pockets...

And of course, it's going to rain tonight, so the number of kids will be down, I'm sure, which makes for long stretches of sheer boredom. One of the neighbors decorates extensively for the day, and puts stereo speakeres out and plays sound effects like screams, clanking chains, etc. etc. The problem for me is, the clanking/booming sounds like a horse cast in its stall (that's when a horse lies down too close to the wall, with feet toward the wall, and can't get back up, just thrashes and thrashes) and the screams sound like panic-y neighs, so I flinch the entire time and go out to the barn several times to make sure all is well. If you're interested, the way you get the horse up when cast is to go in the stall, and carefully tie a rope to the fetlock of the hind leg on the bottom, back up, stand well clear, and PULL until you flip the horse completely over so his back is to the wall and then he can get his feet under him to stand. It's a great was to get kicked, if you ever need a little more pain in your life.

On another note, this marks (+ or - a few days) the two year anniversary of this blog. When I read back over the blog, here and there, I'm pretty pleased with it. The writing is OK and it has served its purpose for me, to have a place where I can mentally wander over different subjects, and express myself. It's nice to have readers, of course, and comments are always welcome, but in general it's having my thoughts (micro sized ones) clarified by writing them down that results in a post, not the desire for the ever-elusive readers. But to all twelve of you who read this regularly, much thanks. Your kind words or just seeing the meter click upwards gives me a kick, and I do go to each of your sites to read your thoughts too, inspiring me to post more frequently and helping me think of topics. If my stuff is occasionally boring as hell to you, that's OK too, it's not like I'm looking to win a prize, and it's not like you're paying for a sub-standard product.....

"Chocolate isn't the answer to everything. Chocolate is the question. The answer is "yes".

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


ME me me me me....oh.

1) Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4.

"The techniques described below, however, give the analyst tools to explore many of these effects on paper, at a cost much lower than detailed field testing and laboratory analysis and far less than is incurred after an incinerator furnace has been installed and fails to operate satisfactorily."

2) Stretch your left arm out as far as you can and see what you touch.

An HP laserJet 4000. Ow.

3) What is the last thing you watched on TV?

Law and Order

4) Without looking, guess what time it is.

5) Now look at the clock. What is the actual time?

6) With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
A fan, and a paper shredder.

7) When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
About an hour ago, on my way to the ladies'. And it's cold outside, too.

8) Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
A series of blogs.

9) What are you wearing?
Green turtleneck, green jeans, clogs (such a fashionista).

10) Did you dream last night?
Yeah, something about crashing my car. Or maybe it was the computer. Noisy, whichever.

11) When did you last laugh?
Reading the blog You Had Me at Idiot Check it out.

12) What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Posters "What I need to know I learned from computers" and "Maybe we are building a new world" and "Fabulous frogs".

13) Seen anything weird lately?
In West Virginia? No, do you think?

14) What do you think of this quiz?
It's an easy way to create a new post....

15) What is the last film you saw?
X-Men III the last stand. Let's hear it for Hugh Jackman, rowwwl.

16) If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
I'd hire a full-time housekeeper. No, a cook. No, a chauffer. An accountant?

17) Tell us something about you that we don't know.
I'm really lazy (example: the meme)

18) If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
I'd have all the world leaders meet and thrash out their conflicts mano-a-mano, with dull butter knives.

19) Do you like to dance?
Not at all. Two left feet. Maybe more.

20) George Bush
I think he deserves a fair trial.

21) Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
22) Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?
Apeteryx (a wingless bird with hairy feathers).

23) Would you ever consider living abroad?
Nope. West Virginia is about as "other worldly" as I can manage.

24) What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
"You look great for your age!"

Friday, October 13, 2006

Feeling old...

Yesterday several of us at work were involved in lab inspections. I knelt down next to our cart to get something off the bottom shelf, and I couldn't get back up. My knees just refused; there was nothing to pull on or to push against, there in the middle of the hall. Finally the professor helped me up. So embarrassing! I am determined to work on this, it is a terrifying feeling to not be able to get up. When my aunt was in her 80s she fell in the hallway of her home, and had crawl to her bedroom to pull herself up on the bed. I remember thinking, I'll never let myself get to that point ho ho famous last words. I have even lost 40 pounds over the last year, and still going, I'd like to lose another 30 at least, but the knees are way slow in noticing how much less flab they have to shuffle along. What exercises would I do to specifically work on 'getting up' moves? Is it stomach muscles, back, thighs, what? So very disheartening to lose this weight and yet feel clumsier than before.

I have packed up and taken home all but the bare minimum at work, because there are now three of us sharing this small office--bum to bum boop-de-boop. Of course the boxes are just sitting there in the bedroom floor, whie I try to figure out what I am going to do with all that crap. When you've lived in the same house for 25 years, even the odd nooks and crannies have a waiting list for occupancy. This morning the youngest cat ventured into the walk-in closet ( a well known venue for entering the Twilight Zone) when I went to get my coat, so to lure her out quickly I produced the peacock feather. Oh gods, she was so funny. After watching her race in ever-smaller circles for a while, I whisked the feather back on top the bookcase out of sight (becuase she'll EAT it given a chance). And then the bean kept following my feet, looking up and wailing for the feather, staring at my hands to see if it would magically appear again. I'll have to get it out tonight for her to chase again, she sounded so bereft. Come to think of it, maybe if I chased around for a while, I'd do better at getting up off the floor?? Food for thought.....

Friday, September 29, 2006


So glad this week is over. I think I have walked through or past every foot of the million+ square feet of this place, with entourage no less. Today is sit-at-the-screen day, for the benefit of my aching arches.

Rain and more rain here. Our roof leaks; probably around the fireplace chimney. We've had it fixed twice, and each time it's OK for a while and then leaks again. So there is a nice red Igloo cooler open on the dining room floor to catch the drips while we consider the next move. To Arizona, maybe.

Both kids are looking for better jobs, and I sent them an email with the job posting web pages for the university, the hospital, the physician's office center, NIOSH, and Morgantown in general. It occurs to me that finding job openings is so much easier now with the Internet than when I was a job-seeking graduate. Then, you pretty much depended on the want ads, and spent a lot of time driving from place to place to meet-and-greet potential employers, who mainly hired their relatives, I think. That part hasn't changed. I think it must make for a lot more applicants per job, but doesn't help with the screening. I heard a funny story the other day. Our University is seeking a new president. Several years ago there were ten or so Eastern universities seeking a president, and this one guy sent out applications to all of them. He always made the final cut because on paper he looked fantastic--lots of high-level admin experience, academic kudos, lots of publications, experienced fund raiser, the works. But when he'd come for the interview, he'd stretch his arm out across the table, rest his head on it, and respond to nearly every question with "Oh, I don't remember.." or "Yes, I guess so.." in other words, a complete dud. And finally the universities began comparing notes, said, Have you interviewed this guy? Don't bother... It seems his main occupation was applying for jobs, not actually doing anything. Many places don't actually check references except on the final, or maybe the three final, candidates. So the resume/application looms larger and larger in getting the job you want, which is not necessarily a realistic picture of the candidate. I hated getting the first job, when everyone wants experience and overlooks the fact that they will still need to do training, because everyone does the work differently (and insists their way is the only correct one).

I parked this morning in a spot marked "compact car only"; that definitely includes the Miata. Next to me was a spot with the same sign, and in it a Yukon SUV was parked. Guess literacy doesn't necessarily correlate with ability to pay large car payments.

And speaking of literacy, how about the factoid that 30% or more of West Virginians are functionally illiterate? Recent discussions at work have centered on the re-signing of directories at the various entry points, since so many departments have relocated. I suggested color-coded directions, as simple as possible, because the clientele of this medical center may be illiterate AND mobility impaired. Can you imagine the frustration of someone using a walker, laboriously making their way to, say, the 3rd floor north, only to find out they need 5th floor south, because they mis-read 'otolaryngology'? But it was decided that "color" would compromise the "aesthetic" appearance of the hallways! Form over function once again. So glad I am retiring....

When I was kid, I once went to a friend's house to play. My dad told me he would pick me up at a quarter past 12, and that I should be standing outside waiting when he pulled up, no delay. So I kept watching the clock, when all of a sudden I heard his car horn! I dashed outside and got in the car, and he started in on me. "I TOLD you to be outside waiting at fifteen after 12!" And I said, "No you didn't, you said a quarter past!" He said, 'That's the same thing!" and I said, oh, I thought a quarter past meant 25 past......Logical, from a kid who hasn't done fractions yet, yes? So even when we think our directions are perfectly plain, mis-communication can occur.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Time oh time

Well, it's amazing how time flies (even when you aren't having fun). Things at work have been moving briskly along. My replacement has been hired, so we have a nice overlap to go over everything before I retire (my last day probably Dec. 15th). We plan on having a double celebration around then, me for retirement, and Hubby for paying off the mortgage. Next will be all the home upgrades (and barn upgrades) that we want to make, some DIY and some contracted. After a suitable goofing-off period, of course!

Two weeks ago we traveled to Hardy County Kentucky to visit my sister-in-law. She has been in Kentucky about three years, but this is the first time we've been there. She truly lives in the middle of nowhere, 12 miles to the nearest (only)gas station/convenience store, 18 miles to the grocery store/bank/florist. That's all that is there. Oh wait, a mexican restaurant, surprisingly good. They don't live anywhere near anywhere, including a city of any size. My memory of driving through Kentucky 25 years ago includes envy of all the rolling green pastures, tight even fencelines, opulent barns surrounded by statuary and loonnng gravel drives. But her part of Kentucky is all about poverty; even compared to some of the less choice locations in West Virginia, ramshackle barns, peeling paint on once-black fences, houses with old appliances in the yard, weeds, dead cars. Sad. I think Hardy County has the highest number of welfare families in the state, lowest per-capita income. All it is now is farms, there is literally no where to work, and farming a family farm as a sole income hasn't been possible for many years, anywhere. Even the cattle look tired. My sister-in-law does have two cute little calves, Jerseys, that she'll winter over for meat. Wisely she hasn't named them--never name a beast you're going to eat. One of those rules, like, never squat with spurs on.....

When we drove home, it was through torrential rainstorms courtesy of Ernesto. Usually deluges where you can't see the car in front of you only last for a brief time, then stop or at least slack off. But this went on and on, all 7 hours it took to get home. We had rented a nice Cadillac, which handled the road nicely, I must admit. When Hub went to pick it up, the young guy at the Enterprise desk asked him where we were going. He said, Kentucky, and the guy wanted to know which states we'd be driving through. He replied, uh, Kentucky? It touches West Virginia? Clearly renting cars does not require geography skills.

The pool is once again closed for the season, I wish we could keep it warm enough to use for longer. Once I looked into getting an inflatable dome to cover it, it would keep it warm and decrease the bug/leaf problems, but I'm afraid the wind ripping up the valley would carry it far far away. It would end up keeping company with the assorted grill covers, trash can lids, towels draped on the railings, and umbrellas that have deserted us for greener pastures, somewhere. Once the kids were "camped out" in the backyard and we nearly lost the tent, kids included! No, not really. Only the tent, during a food run into the house.

Last week, daughter and I went to see Nickle Creek in concert, I understand that while they aren't precisely breaking up, they won't be touring together, starting at the end of the year. It's too bad, they are one of those groups where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Incredible musicians, and above average vocalists, mostly. Funny, too.

No one much at work today here at the university, last night WVU beat Maryland in the stadium across from the med center, and I think a lot of folks partied a little too hardy afterwards. Scheduling week-night games is all about TV coverage, and not about the logistics involved in getting employees out of the med center and getting 60,000 vehicles parked in their spaces. Not being a football fan, it's just a big nuisance when we have home games, even on the weekends; one can only stay home, or do a quick errand after kick-off. When I worked in the blood bank several years ago, my shift would end usually just as the game was letting out. I wanted to shout, "I WORKED, LET ME OUT FIRST!" but I just sat and sat until some kind soul would let me into traffic. And it always surprised me, how many people would come to the hospital cafeteria to eat lunch before the game. I mean, how festive can a hospital lunch room be? Aren't they supposed to tailgate? Anyway, this weekend should be quiet, everyone nursing hangovers.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Blog explosion confusion

I thought I understood the way blog explosion works. They have recently started "blog links" which I don't understand, but willing to give it a shot in the interest of increasing the number of readers. I enrolled, copied the HTML and pasted into my template and re-published by blog. I now see -- nothing different. Did I do something wrong? Is there an error in the HTML code? Has blogger not started this feature yet? Beats me. All this can be so frustrating.....

Saturday, August 19, 2006


So someone DID ask me about the battery recall. I leaped up onto my chair and shouted "I'm not going to take it anymore!" Then I closed my applications, logged off the server, shut down Windows, powered off the computer, undocked it, and prepared to HURL it out the window! Except by then everyone had wandered away, I was feeling kinda foolish standing on my chair getting the seat all dusty, and anyway the window was closed. So I sat back down and mused on our tendency to latch on to any piece of information and BEAT it to death. Take the JonBenet thing,you'd think we had wrung the last drop out of that sorry mess long ago, but apparently there is still a little more to come. And digging up Jimmy Hoffa, how many of you out there even remember who he was and what he was doing that got him so comprehensively eradicated, raise your hands? That's what I thought. And what would they know if they did find his bones? Well, that he was killed. A long time ago. Duh. Maybe we do this because our own lives are so dull, we take vicarious pleasure out of the lives and events of other people? The global version of gossiping over the back fence. It would be nice to blame the media for the feeding frenzies, but you know they only give us what we want.

Maybe if we could learn to take what we hear with a handful of salt, and wait for the whole story instead of just the 20 second sound bite, we wouldn't be so pulled here and there by the winds of speculation and hysteria.

But what do I know? Maybe if we didn't have the media to feed us, we'd sit around a fire and make up tales of gods and demons to entertain ourselves, the stuff of legends. Then gradually they would stop being legends, become "historical fact", we would argue about whose version was right, found organizations based on our version, go to war to kill the guys who believe something else. Yeah, maybe we would do that.

Has anyone heard anything about a big quake in California?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Latest Word(s)

OK, now I know all of you drive, right? So you won't mind if I point out a couple of teeny problems. First, when an emergency vehicle is hard on the siren, lights a-flashin' behind you, and the person in front of you courteously pulls to the curb, you DO NOT think "Ah HA! They have pulled over so I can whisk past them!" INSTEAD, you too pull to the curb, in consideration of the person in the ambulance/burning house/being mugged, etc. Are we clear? And then, when a whole line of you are edged to the curb for said emergency vehicle, and the coast is now clear, you DO NOT say "ME first!!" but instead everyone pulls back into traffic together, it's only sensible. Got it? I'm so glad we had this little talk.

I have been Laid Low by the dreaded migraine monkey, who apparently takes special notice of those times when I am Most Stressed to visit. As if regular headaches aren't enough to work through, now I have a throbbing headache with nausea, bright light and loud sound sensitivity, and a strong desire to lay in bed with a pillow over my face. Very limiting, what one can do while wearing a pillow. I have a Special Medicine for just such times, which I failed to refill after the last bout, hello? Did we think it would magically reappear in the medicine cabinet, hmmm? And still wait up for Santa, too, do we?

I am writing this on a Dell laptop, model Inspiron 600m, bought between 2004 and now, and if ONE MORE PERSON asks me about the battery recall, I will be forced to react violently. No, mine isn't one of the pyrotechnical batteries. Darn. I think it would be lovely irony to have the computer in the safety office burst into flames, don't you? It would be all of a piece with the labs in the Eye Institute that don't have an eyewash, the same labs with door numbering in beige-on-beige waaay up high on the door frame, so that the only way to read them is to squint sideways or use your fingertips to feel the numbers (thereby confirming that you NEED to be in the Eye Institute). This is part of the same medical center that has only one handicap-accessible door, which is NOT anywhere near the handicap parking area. That still has signage throughout the buildings that point the way to departments and offices that moved elsewhere some 10 years ago. I'm sure they will get around to updating any day now. As soon as the indigenous porcine population begins to defy gravity.

Meanwhile, here's hoping everyone out there is being thoughtful, kind, and reverent, remembering the Golden Rule (he who has the gold makes the rules) and prepared to watch those pesky civil liberties be tattered beyond recognition by those ever-helpful folk in Washington, who know Better Than Us What Needs to Be Done to keep our country safe. Riiiight.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I've decided that I'm becoming more than a little grumpy. Maybe it's just a natural part of getting older. I find that I don't have any enthusiasm for (most)new things. Specifically, I'm tired of construction.

This is a little town (by my standards)of 25,000 population; twice that when the university is in regular session. For reasons I cannot understand, little Motown is undergoing a boom. Everywhere you look, there are hundreds of luxury condominiums going up, two new malls (giving us a total of 4), mega theater complexes (making it two, and unless I'm just watching the wrong films, I've never seen more than 25 people in a theater at either of them when I've been there). They are putting in a 19 story apartment complex downtown (the tallest building by 10 stories), adding a Sam's Club, a Wal-mart Super store, 8 or so new restaurants (Chili's, Olive Garden, Cheddars, etc.), this in addition to the 25 or so we already have. And of course, you can't build all this stuff without roads and plumbing/electricity and so on, so every major road is being torn up, widened, re-paved, torn up again, utilities run under, re-re-paved. The medical center is adding a new $20M research building, and a new neurosciences institute building; they've almost completed a major (2 years and counting)renovation and expansion of the medical library which will now be a 'learning center'. The univ. has broken ground for a new research 'park' in conjunction with various businesses. The local pharmaceutical firm has built a huge recreational complex, with equestrian space, outdoor amphitheaters, and so forth. There are plans to built a live theater, a museum, and who knows what else. An 'intermodal public transportation facility' will be tying university buses, PRT, and city buses together.

And I keep thinking, where is the money coming from? And what do the Powers That Be know that the rest of us don't?

But no matter how much they build, you still won't be able to find a parking space.

Grumble grumble.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Those were the days, my friend....

When my son was small (lo, these many years ago), around 10, I surprised him as I was coming out of my bedroom late one evening. I caught him heading for the computer room (to play games), and he immediately looked guilty when he saw me. He said, "I thought you had gone to bed?" and I said " I thought you were doing your homework?" to which he smoothly replied, "Then I guess we're both disappointed."

When he was in 3rd or 4th grade, we got a note home from his (parochial) school, saying that he was not paying attention in class, being rowdy, and so forth. And I thought, C? I don't think so...mostly what he did in class was sneak books out of his bag and read during class. So without saying anything to him at all, I took him for a haircut, and got him some nicer clothes (ones that weren't such ankle beaters), and made sure he looked tidy going to school. Sure enough, the next note said what a great improvement they had noticed in him. And I thought how often teachers form unconscious judgements of their students, thinking the taller kids (which he definitely was) should act more mature, the tidy kids to be better students, the sloppy kids to be a troublemakers, and so forth. His was a good school, and the teachers all above average, but still, it isn't a good policy to assume that they are always right, or that they see some side of your child he doesn't show at home. I had a friend who (back in the day when schools did corporal punishment) said if the sisters spanked him, it was a given his dad would too, once he got home. No explanations listened to, or even voiced. I sure hope we're past that stage. Schools are such an unnatural environment, emphasizing conforming yet standing out, cooperation and competition, certain behaviors that are never fully explained,behaviors that conflict with what they are taught at home, and overall denial of the validity of a different point of view. My over-all memory of school days, especially the early years, is one of bewilderment, and a total inability to see that all the other kids, popular, pariah, smart, or dumb, were all bewildered too, only different in how they showed it. I wouldn't go back to those days for all the money in the world.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Well, OK, just this once

I am going to give up apologizing for the infrequency of posts here. After all, I am the Creator and I Follow No Rules But My Own. I have Spoken.

July is proving to be hot and rainy, and so everything seems to smell faintly of mildew. Whenever I read about the extinction of 'x' number of plant species a year, I always wish I could pick the ones to go extinct, with mold and mildew topping the list. What possible ecological niche could they fill? Are there predatory species who feast on mildew? If so, can I get some? Soon? I remember one memorable summer in Miami when I was a kid, it rained 30 inches in 30 days. You needed a snorkle to walk around outside, and everything was green, including you. No wonder the roaches in florida are so huge, they have to be big enough to float without drowning.

We did try to open the pool over the fourth, but scrubbing the walls of the pool, 27 feet in diameter (if I remember the right formula, that's 85 feet in length, 48 inches tall = 339 square feet) did us in. We intended to replace the liner this year, until the installer said it would cost $600 in labor, and that he needed to be able to reach the outside of the pool all the way around -- which means pulling up a deck 85 feet around; so we passed this year. May try DYI next year.

The horses are enjoying these lazy days of summer. It's far too hot to ride, too buggy. On Memorial day we started the 'turn around turn out' which means we keep them in the barn (shady, fans in every stall, bug sprayed)during the day, and turn them out at night (so if there are thunderstorms we can quicky get them in). The two mares are both white-faced and blue-eyed, so bright sunlight is hard on them anyway; if for some reason they are out in the sun, I put those fly mask/sun bonnet things on, it makes them look like aliens, but keeps the flies off and the light down. One time I forgot them, and when Blondy saw me approaching with them in hand, she rushed over and THRUST her face into it, so I guess it suits.

One way I know I'll be missed when I retire--my candy jar. I keep a one gallon jar filled with candy, not just the hard stuff that comes in 'variety' bags, but miniatures of real candy; i.e., chocolate. I refill it about once a week. It tickles me, because although I can't see the jar from where I sit, since it's in the outer office, I can hear every time someone gets candy because it has an old-fashioned click-grip canning jar lid. It amuses me, for various reasons, and so I never mind the cost. Gotta go with anything that makes the day go faster.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Same old

I really wish I could type better. I took typing in high school, lo these many years ago, on a manual typewriter (you can still find a few at flea markets; I can't type on them either). I cannot type now without looking at the keys. They haven't moved around, qwerty is still in the same place when I look at them, but it's a crutch to look at the keys. I even got a copy years ago of Mario teaches typing, ostensibly for the kids, but I used it too. Even then I couldn't break myself of looking at the keys. It was demoralizing to type poorer than a 10 year old. You would think that I would make fewer mistakes that way, slower but better accuracy, but that isn't the case, after I look up at the screen, there are dozens of errors. So I am a compulsive spell-checker (although you wouldn't guess that from some of my previous posts). Of course, spell checkers don't catch real words in the wrong useage, like hear for here, or there for their. And judging by the number of times I see it used, no one seems to know when to use its (possessive) and when to use it's (contraction for it is). I've been known to stand waiting for an elevator and pull out a pen to correct a 'For Sail' sign (call evnings) on the bulletin board. I also find it surprising to see how many errors there are in printed copy, thousands and thousands distributed all over the county with "Hemren's Plumbing" when you know they mean Herman's. I've even had dreams where I am trying over and over to type something, but the light is too dim to see the keys, so I carry the keyboard to the light (must have had a LOOONNG cord)only to realize the letters on the keys are all rubbed too faint to see. I call these sorts of dreams, frustration dreams. I have lots of them.

And speaking of frustration, I bought a new Palm Lifedrive PDA last week, and with it, an aluminum hard case. I have found the problem with soft-ish cases is that I accidentally press keys and turn the Palm on when I'm rummaging in my purse, so it uses up the battery too soon. Anyway, the PDA slips right in the hard case, but I'll be damned if I can figure out how to open the aluminum 'door' on the face. The best I can do is pry at it with my thumbnail, and somehow that just doesn't cut it with me. I even had my son the mechanical genius take a go at it, and he agrees it's hopeless. So back it goes. Who designs these things?

Bye for now.....

Friday, June 09, 2006

All sorts of things, mostly of interest only to me, have been happening, and I haven't posted here in ages. I hate it when the blogs I read haven't been updated in weeks and weeks, but I am secure in knowing that the 6 or so people who stumble across this blog won't have even noticed.

Let me see. Tuesday the 6th was our 36th wedding anniversary, I'm not sure if that is an accomplishment or just a tribute to inertia. For my gift, I got a kiln. I don't have anywhere to put it, but that never stopped me from buying anything in the past, did it? The 6th was also the day of our big training session, in which I had to give a 20 minute talk on laboratory auditing. I managed to get through it without swallowing my own tongue or fainting, and I attribute that success to Xanax. I just stood there thinking how friendly everyone looked, so nice..... The 6th was also the day my son's new Dell computer arrived, he hasn't come up for air yet. Last weekend my daughter bought a new car, a Suzuki Something, so clearly we as a family are doing our part to advance the Economy and the rise of Western Consumerism. Yesterday the Hub and I met with the retirement lady to talk about the best way to manage my vast reserve of retirement savings. Basically we agreed that having me work another 10 years probably won't help much in my long-range goal of regular purchases of support stockings and laxatives, so I guess I'm good to go in December. Won't that make for a terrific holiday, knowing that I won't have to go back to work in January?

Speaking of death, when I handled my mother's estate (such as it was) in 1999, my sister was convinced that Mom had purchased a life insurance policy that named her as beneficiary. Given that all of Mom's 'important papers' were filed in any one of hundreds of paper grocery bags in the spare bedroom, it came as no surprise to me that no such policy could be found. I called any insurance company Mom had ever written a check to, and couldn't find this mythical policy, but that didn't stop my sister from thinking I was stiffing her. What exactly I would get out of leaving any insurance unclaimed I never did figure out. But trolling through the internet recently, I found a site that, for a (fairly modest) fee, will contact 100 of the top insurance companies to check for an unclaimed policy. So I decided, heck, why not go for it? Although my sister died in 2004, and finding it still won't do me any good, it is one of those nagging little things that floats into my mind in the middle of the night when I'm trying to get to sleep. Did my sister delude herself into thinking that Mom and Dad, who were barely making ends meet, would lay out money for an insurance policy that would allow her to squander even more cash? Did Mom tell her that she had done so just to placate her, did Mom think she actually had done so when she hadn't, did she really buy insurance and then lose the policy? Puzzling. I don't actually think the search will turn up anything..... Back in 1953 my parents purchased four cemetary plots in the National Memorial Park in Falls Church, VA. Exactly why they bought them in VA, when they lived in Miami, were only in their 30s, and why FOUR lots, I've never been able to figure. At any rate, there they sit, now worth some $5000 each, I'm told, and that's another nagging little detail to ponder during the Insomnia Hours. I am resolved to leave my affairs all tidy for the kids/husband to handle, no weeks and weeks of sorting through piles of papers including receipts for a 25 cent part for the old '42 Packard.

Although they will have to decide what to do with the kiln.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The way 'Eers talk

OK, so I've come up with more regional ways with words. If one looks for "West Virginia Dialects" on Google, you will come up with all sorts of interesting links on the WV Dialects Project, which is attempting to preserve some of the unique characteristics of language here. Some of them, I've only heard a time or two, from old folks, but the ones I have here are pretty common even in Morgantown, the home of the university.

The term "pooched out" is one I've heard no where else, it means 'sticks out', like, 'The front of her dress was all pooched out". For some reason, saying 'pregnant' is frowned on, instead a woman is 'that way', thus, "The front of her dress was all pooched out 'cause she's that way". It's also considered bad form to say 'stallion' or 'bull', instead you'll hear 'male horse' or 'boy cow'.

Because 'Eers say pin and pen both as 'pin', it's pretty common to hear, 'stick pin' and 'ink pin' to differentiate.

Let's see, 'crack the window' means to roll the window down some. Memorial Day is usually called 'Decoration Day'. To be 'gritly' means to be a hillbilly. Your grandmother is Mamaw or MeeMee, where your great-grandmother is Meemaw. A 'painter' is a mountain lion, and 'ramps' aren't something you drive your lawn mower up to get it in the truck. They're a vile version of a wild mountain leek, and if someone asks you to eat a mess 'o them, you should decline quickly. And if the other person eats them, you should try to avoid sitting in close proximity to them for several days afterwards. Like garlic, they, ah, exude.

A similar term to 'pooched up' is 'hove up', as in, "the sidewalk was all hove up from the tree roots". My grandmother always admired something by saying, "That's REAL!" with no reference to what it 'really' was, nice? pretty? And if she referred to someone as 'cute' it meant they were bow-legged. And because it isn't polite for a lady to swear, she always said, "I swan, I never saw the like".

Oops, time to go. Y'all be good now, hear?

Friday, May 19, 2006


I am SOOO glad it is Friday. This has been a long week, arriving early, finishing late, taking work home, etc. Big training session coming up, and so many regs have changed, I'm having to re-do all the material. I think I'll be done Monday, fingers crossed.

Do kids still do that? Cross their fingers for good luck? Probably not. I bet they don't 'touch wood' either, or carry rabbits' feet (Ewwww, now that I think about it). They probably don't rub the heads of red-haired kids, or carry a lucky penny, or throw a pinch of salt over their shoulder when they spill salt. I did this last thing when I was making bread last weekend, and daughter R happened to be standing behind me and got the full benefit. She hollered, "WHAT are you doing!!?"
and I tried to explain, but it really doesn't make much sense, does it? I think it only confirmed that her mother is a little wacky.

I had occasion to crawl up in the attic last weekend too, someplace I haven't been in years (thanks to a strong agile son). Ours is a half-attic, with pull down stairs, but you have to go through it on hands and knees, or walk WAY bent over. That attic is STUFFED! With tons of junk! I didn't remember what I was looking for was packed in, so I had to check every box, after I made my way past crib, high chair, bassinet, playpen, youth bed, dining table and appliances. And I couldn't belive how many boxes of old clothes, lots of empty boxes saved "in case", and boxes and boxes of books. This is in addition to the 3-4000 books we have downstairs, and that after donating 700 to the local library. Most of the ones in the attic are hard-bound, and some of them are OLD textbooks from the early 90s, when I was getting my Med Tech degree. It's ridiculous, I mean, are we going to crawl up in the attic for a little reading time, there amid the cobwebs and dust, just curl up in a handy broken chair and relax with a good thriller from 1960? I think not. So one of my projects after I retire is to clean the attic out, stem to stern, and either trash things, donate them, or do a flea market thing. I kinda enjoy selling junk at the flea market, although having someone walk off with your stuff always makes me wonder, did I really want to get rid of that? I guess the merchandise always does look better in the other customer's hand. But clearing out the garage? It's hopeless, I think when the time comes to move out of this house, we'll just saw the garage off and set fire to it.

I was reading DOOCE's Blog from a few posts back, about the correct pronounciation of certain words. I'm with Jon on this one, crayon IS pronounced 'cray-on' and not 'crown' (unless you call all crayons regardless of brand as crayolas). When I started working in California, I was quickly corrected anytime I said certain things. For example, I used to say insurance as INsurance instead of inSUREance. I pronounced Washington D.C. as WaRshington. But nothing compared to what I would routinely hear after moving to West Virginia. Here, you don't bathe the baby, you 'bath' the baby. The use of 'went' when 'gone' should be used ("I had already went to the mall when she called me"). There are lots of these regional usages of words, I'm going to have to ruminate for a while and do another post when I come up with more.

Meanwhile, enjoy the weekend!

Monday, May 08, 2006


It's not bad enough that I'm fighting the demon of Insomnia, thrashing around on the bed like the agitator in the washing machine. But I find myself doing odd things in the middle of the night, too. One night I pulled out the drawer in the dresser where I keep socks, and arranged them in vertical rows, according to rainbow colors. One night I went through my cedar chest (just getting to where you can open the top is a chore) looking for...what? I dunno. One memorable night I pulled all my purses out of the top of the closet and went through them, each pocket and compartment, looking for a small penknife I left behind when I changed purses. I finally found it--in purse #57. And then I had to put them all back, using a ladder. All this at 3 am. Last night, at 3 am, I got up to use the bathroom, and decided my feet were in terrible shape. So I got out all the foot-treatment stuff, soaked my feet, rubbed the calluses off with three different tools, used foot sloughing lotion, and finally foot repair creme. Then I put my feet in plastic bags so the lotion would stay on my feet and not make a greasy mess in the bedclothes. With the way I've been sleeping, I'd slither right out of the bed, hit the floor "plop!" and sit there going, "Huh? Wha?" The next morning the Hub comes in (for obvious reasons he sleeps in another room) and I told him how long I'd laid awake, and he said, "No wonder you couldn't sleep! You've got bagel bags on your feet!"

I don't get any respect.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamed that I was on this huge cruise ship, in a really big storm. Waves were swamping the ship so you couldn't even go on deck, but no one seemed worried. I was lost in the dream, trying to make my way back to our cabin, but since I wasn't sure of the number, I couldn't figure out how to get there. I had with me my dog, or maybe my horse, or maybe a baby-- it sorta ran together, but there were places I couldn't go through because of the dog/horse/baby, and every time I backtracked, I got more and more lost. There were arenas where they were playing polo, and Vegas-style nightclubs, and places where to get to the upper deck, you had to go up a climbing wall (particularly hard with a horse). Everyone was smiling and polite, but none of them could help me. I finally woke up and realized two things. One, no more watching The Perfect Storm, and skip the trailers for the Poseidon remake. Two, leave the dog, the horse, and the baby at home for our next cruise!

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Slough of Despond

Starting last Friday, my depression rose up like a tidal wave and swamped the Good Ship Redhead-pop. I tried to go on about my usual weekend chores, but it's hard to disguise it from people who really know you. I'm at work today, but just marking time until my 2:30 doctor's appt. What he'll be able to do I really can't envision, but at least it will kill a couple hours, and then I can go home and crash again. I HATE those commercials for some antidepressant, the ones that start out, "Who does depression hurt?" pointing out that not only does the victim of depression hurt, but that he/she is such a selfish oblivious jerk that they can't see that it hurts their families, too. So you OWE it to your family to be medicated into la-la land, if that's what it takes to keep you smiling smiling happy as a lark tra la. It isn't surprising to me that such a low percentage of depression sufferers seek professional help. For one thing, it costs a bloody fortune for therapy AND meds; the results are often slight and slow, and the depression itself causes a kind of inertia that is hard to overcome. I remember calling my insurance company when I first realized I wouldn't survive if I didn't get help, but the "case manager" was so callous, she made it seem like I wanted therapy because it's such a rush, don't you know, to pour out your most intimate thoughts to a perfect stranger, so they can write it up and send it in to the insurance company for the rest of the world to read too. She all but told me to suck it up, soldier. May she get terminal hemorrhoids while traveling on a bus in Mexico. In the summer.

I think I'll leave now, maybe I can get in to see doc early; at the minimum, I won't have to guard myself against myself every single moment while I'm in his office.

Addendum: The medical doctor deferred changing the meds to the psych. doctor (reasonable) only the problem is, I can't reach the psych. doctor. My therapist tried today (Wednesday) and she didn't have any success either. So I guess the change to this psychiatrist isn't a great success, but I don't have an alternative either. So I shall take enough sleeping meds to keep me quiescent through the night, and see how it goes. Drugs--can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Too many cooks spoil the broth

I think it's time my daughter moved out. Friday while I was home, I got going on the kitchen. I sorted through the cabinets, got rid of plastic-bowls-with-no-lids, stacked the mixing bowls back into small>medium>large so they'd fit in without holding the door ajar, washing shelves, and so on. I was pretty chuffed when I finished. That night, I was getting plates out of the cabinet when I realized the brand new snack plates I'd put in there were gone. I asked, "What happened to the red plates?" and my daughter replied, oh, they were in the way there, I moved them to this other cabinet (the one I'd cleaned out). I didn't say anything, just raised an eyebrow. Later that night, I saw they were back in the dish cupboard. I asked my husband if he'd moved them back, and he said no, that he had told daughter to move them back.
So don't you think there's one too many women in this household? A woman's kitchen is sacred territory, I determine where and what will be there. This isn't the first time she's done this, she threw out a set of salt shakers because "we didn't need them", packed up a whole box of coffee mugs and stowed them under the stairs because "there wasn't room for them", wrote her name on the bottom of my tupperware "so they won't get lost at work" tossed out food "that was too old" (like baking yeast!), and on and on. When I bring home some odd gadget (I have a soft spot for gadgets) she'll ask, what's THAT for? And then comment that I'll never use it.
It makes me steam just to write all this.
When she finally moves out, I'm going to gift her with all the mis-matched tupperware, the 'extra' coffee mugs, and a set of salt shakers that don't match. Hehehe.
And then I'll rearrange her kitchen when she's not there, too.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

It's that time again!

For the last four years we've been leasing my car, known as the Pregnant Rollerskate, but since we're trying to wrap up all the debts, we decided to go ahead and buy the PR, since it has a BlueBook value considerably higher than the lease-end price. Also because I like it. And because shopping for a new car is such a pain, I always feel like everybody else gets a better deal (even though people always lie about what they paid). So Saturday we went to the dealer and forked over what felt like a whole lot of $$. It wasn't at all like buying a new car; I mean, there it sits in the garage, completely covered in paw prints and wilted cherry blossoms, gum wrappers in the ash tray, smelling like the fries you brought home last week, nothing like those showroom waxed beauties at the dealer. It reminded me of other times when we spent a lot of money without having much fun doing it. One was paying to have a home sanitation unit installed, in place of the failed septic tank. You know, all that cash for something you bury in the back yard, can't even talk about it at the water cooler, only memorable if it doesn't work. Or having the roof replaced. Yes, it is nice not to have those plastic trash cans adding to the ambience of the living room (since it is one of Murphy's laws that roofs never leak except in the wintertime). But on the other hand, a roof isn't really very exciting, and there's all those roofing nails to pick up out of the flowerbeds for months. Or paying off hospital bills, you can't help but think what the same amount of money would have gotten you at a really nice resort. And the staff would have been so much friendlier, too. Or grocery shopping, mostly dull stuff like paper towels and baked beans, with the odd kitchen gadget thrown in to make it even somewhat bearable. If I took the same amount of money and hit the outlet mall, what a haul I could make!

But the one that really sticks in my craw is Income Taxes. I think, since the government takes their cut off the top, before we ever get it, that they should be able to figure out how much to take. If they come up short, too bad, right? But every year for as long as I can remember, we figure the taxes out in January, and then save up to pay them by April. Such a downer, to save money for Uncle Sam, knowing that our frugality will be such a pittance to the government, it won't even pay for one new seat on Air Force One. Not that we'd ever get to sit in it, if it did. And there's that looming deadline to meet, no wiggle room if you're a little short. This year, for the first time, I noticed that you can opt to make monthly payments on your outstanding tax liability, the friendly folks at the IRS will just dip into your checking account every month until the bill is paid. Uh, hello? Am I the only one who thinks that giving the IRS the power to bleed your checking account dry is a bad idea? Can you imagine the battle you would have if they took too much (a computer error no doubt, we know how honest the government really is), trying to prove it and get your money back? Your beard would be long and white before you ever saw a penny of that. But of course, if you failed to pay all you owe, rest assured that they will pursue you to the end of the earth to get that last dollar. I think the government ought to collect taxes like in the 'Hagar the Horrible' comic strip; they show up at your door in black masks, one of them holding a bag and the other an axe, pay up or else. At least it would be entertaining, for a change.

Happy tax day!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Making up my mind

OK, I finally reached a decision. I'm going to retire at the end of Dec. of this year. I always said I would retire when Hub did, but he retired in 2000, and I have slogged onward. But all our debt is paid; the kids are out of college; Hub's consulting has been a total windfall, and I am finding the physical and mental strength to get up and go to work each day a constant, debilitating struggle. I don't feel that I'm giving all I should at work, because frankly I'm finding it hard to care. I've worked at the medical center at this university for 25 years, and every "new" crisis is the same -- been there, done that. The administration is so very short sighted, dealing with each crisis today, and don't worry about the consequences, we'll deal with them tomorrow. In the safety field, this is a particularly dangerous attitude, your only hope in disaster control is prevention, and that means planning ahead, a totally alien scheme here.

I probably won't get any kind of 'goodby' party, so I'm going to get my own retirement gift -- a Newfoundland puppy. I'm already on a waiting list with a great breeder. I had my lovely Lotsa Trouble from 1986 until she died in 1998; it was the start of a truly bad time, as I lost my mom in 1999, my dad went in a nursing home right after that, and died in 2002, my favorite aunt in 2003, and my only sib, my sister, in 2004 (she was only 57). Hub lost his dad in 2001. I lost my job in 1999, again in 2002, and again in 2004. I tried suicide in 2001 and 2002, ending up unconscious in ICU both times. Thanks to a great husband and kids, and the help of my doctor, two therapists, and a great psychiatrist, I am on the road to better times now, touch wood. Looking back, I can only think that I am far more resilient than I thought I ever could be. I still have black black times, but I trust that they will get better without my having to do anything but endure, and they DO pass and they last for less time each time. SO! A new puppy...Newfs are the greatest dogs, mellow, loving, contented to just be where you are. The great pity is that, like all the giant breeds, they live such short lives (8 to 10 being the average). My Lotsa was a therapy dog, and loved to go to the rehab hospital, especially the kids in wheelchairs, where she could just lay her head in their laps and be stroked. We went in the local parades with the kennel club, where she loved to walk at the edge of the road so all the kids could pat her as she walked by. I know a new puppy won't be identical to her, but just the touch of their fur, watching their clumsy way of running, I can't wait.

Something to look forward to.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My barbeque party

The following is slide show (you don't need to click your mouse, just scroll down) that is not original with me. If you are the creator, let me know and I will gladly give credit where credit is due!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Back on the road again

As I guess a lot of you have found, last weekend Blogger was essentially unavailable. I wrote a post from home, but as I am now at work, I guess I'll just try to remember what I wrote.

I spent a fair amount of time this weekend ripping my CDs to mp3 files, to go on my new player. In the bad old days, I used to download tracks from Napster, but as far as I remember, I only did so for tracks for which I owned the CD anyway; I just didn't have the software (or maybe the know-how) to rip songs from an audio CD back then. This weekend I realized how very many CDs I have in which I only want to listen to one or two tracks. When we had a reel-to-reel tape recorder, I would copy LPs to it one or two tracks at a time, because however much I may like an artist, I really don't want to hear 90 minutes of them, uninterrupted. Eventually I would memorize the order of the tunes, I played them that way so often. The 'shuffle' feature of the mp3 players is great, you never know what will be next, and if you turn it off mid-song, it resumes at the start of that song, too. But it still doesn't change the fact that a CD, costing around $15 or more, is 90% crud and 10% listenable. Unfortunately, when ripping I pretty much had to listen to the whole CD to find what I wanted. Or at least the first minute of the tune, and that certainly slowed up the process. I calculate I will finish the task in 2008, but only if I stop buying CDs right now. Which isn't too likely. I also plan to make CDs with these selections, so I can play them in the car. The mp3 player, with its earbuds, is too much of a distraction when I'm driving, I can't hear traffic noises like sirens or horns. And if they get ripped off (in a convertible, access is only a fingernail file away), I can always burn another.

Actually, speaking of rag tops, I rarely lock my car anyway. I would rather a thief took whatever they want inside, but leave the friggin' top intact. A new top, the last I checked, runs around $1500, and believe me, there's nothing inside worth that much. And if they steal the whole car, well, that's what insurance is for. Plus, of course, this is a small town (I think; there are those from truly little towns in WV who think Morgantown is 'the big city') and it's harder than you would think to get away with stuff. When we first moved here from San Francisco, I was caught by this when I would be telling a funny story about, say, the babysitter, and someone would ask, who is she? And I'd give her name and they would say, oh yeah, she goes to church with me, or, I went to school with her brother, or the like. Even in a town of 25,000, you can't count on anonymity at all; the guy in the Lexus you give the bird to will turn out to be the new youth pastor or whatever. It takes some getting used to. The place where I go every two weeks to get my nails done is a fount of information; between the two of them, they know the history of everyone in town, who is running around on who, who has a drinking problem, everything. I just listen, I seldom know any of these people (despite having lived here 25 years), but the wealth of gossip just leaves me breathless. There must be an underground telegraph somewhere. I wonder if everyone in town is aware of how transparent their lives are? This must be part of the appeal of living in a real big city.

Well I'm off to see the new psychiatrist (you have to be off, otherwise you wouldn't need a psychiatrist, right?) who will maybe have some magic pill that will make me cheerful, lose weight, be smarter, and sleep sounder. Riiiiight.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Is there a doctor in the house?

Two weeks ago my family physician of 20+ years died of breast cancer. If anyone could beat it, I thought she would. I didn't like the doctor who bought her practice ( I ranted on about this a few posts back), and so I sent for a copy of my medical records to take to a new doctor I had heard good things about. By the way, if you ever do this, be sure to get your copied records sent to you and not directly to the new doctor. The reason for this isn't so you can read them (although of course you can, anytime) but because if they arrive before your first appt. with the dr., his staff will look in their files, not see one for you (yet), shove your copies in a drawer somewhere, and when you arrive for your first visit, no one will have any idea where your old records are--or even if they arrived. And you do want them there with you at your first visit, so your new doctor will have information about lab results, surgeries, medications, right at his fingertips. If you don't hand-carry them, you'll never be sure they arrive at all.

Anyway, I did read through them, and I realized anew how special my old doctor really was. For example:
(Redhead) presents today. We haven't seen her here in this office for almost two months now. She had been, evidently, doing fairly well up until that time. She says, over the last month, she has slowly been getting more depressed. I did talk to her husband, who does not think that she has been getting progressively more depressed, since she's had several good days in the last month, but she feels much more depressed. She's been doing more sleepwalking. She does feel intermittently suicidal, although she's not been ()...She agreed not to hurt herself in any way....I am worried about her. She has been extremely depressed in the past. Today, she has a flat effect. Her exam was benign, other than the flat effect. I have seen her much more depressed than she is today, but I am still worried about her.
And then she went on to say she was calling my psych. Dr. to discuss anti-depressant regimen, and that she also talked to my therapist (all of which I had previously signed releases for her to do).
In contrast, here's what the doctor's notes read from the one who bought her practice:
ROS: denies unexpected weight change, fatigue, change in appetite, fevers, night sweats, rashes, easy bruising, changes in skin lesions, headaches, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, urinary problems, sexual dysfunction, myalgias, arthralgias, syncope,memory loss, or depressed mood.
Subjective: A four month follow-up. She discontinued () due to persistent cough and never started () due to fear of side effects. Claims her sugars are well-controlled at home. No new complaints.
Married, employed, denies tobacco or alcohol use.

Can you see the difference? Even though the first one was a time when I felt bad, and the second was when I was doing better.

Anyway, I saw the new doctor Monday, and I already like him a good bit. He went over my history and my family history, checked that I knew what each med is for, promised to read the old notes before he dictated his note, did a quick but complete exam, patted me on the back and told me that if I started to feel "down" to call him sooner rather than later, so we could "work it out" before I became desperate, and remarked on how sad it was that Dr. S. had died; that he knew my psych dr. and would willingly work with him "to keep us all on the same page". I am encouraged.

In other news, techie maven that I am, I managed to change the ringtone on my cell phone to one I downloaded. It now plays the Pink Panther Theme, which hopefully I'll recognize when it rings, and not sit there, puzzled, wondering what that strange sound coming from my purse is all about.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Slip-slidin' away

Yeah, I know it's been weeks since I posted. I'm sorry. I had one week of intensive therapy, and at the end of each day of that, all I wanted to do was curl up in bed with my blankie and rock myself to sleep. So I did. And since then I have had the stomach crud, and am only back at work today, thinking it was a bad idea to return at all. Tonight I have tickets to see Michael Flattley's Lord of the Dance, hope I can hold it together for the evening.

So I spent some time catching up on the blogs I read, and as I did so, I composed a list of Things I Will Never Blog About.

1. TV. Not that there aren't interesting things to say about television, I'm sure there must be, because so many people write about it. But the truth? I don't watch TV. I have mainly, over the years, practiced serial monogamy television. I mean, I watch one show til it goes off the air, and then pick another until it is canceled, and so on. My list reads : X files, Buffy, Angel, CSI, and that's pretty much it. I've never seen: Friends, Seinfeld, Idol, Desperate Whoever, Sopranos, or a whole lot of other shows.

2. Academy Awards/ SAG awards/ Grammy awards/ Tony awards. I never see current movies, they have to be on Showtime or something, so I'm completely ignorant of the various movie nominees. I've never seen any of the stars on the red carpet, so I couldn't care less about their dresses, I listen to music on the radio and not on MTV or CMT, so I never recognize the singers either. As a chronicler of American culture, I'm a non-starter.

3. Politics. Well, not much, anyway. I think Bush is an idiot, but that isn't a unique viewpoint, some 55% of Americans agree, what can I add? I can only hope the Democrats will run somebody that actually might have a chance, and not throw the elections with a dumb nomination like Hillary. I personally think she's one smart cookie and would probably make a good president, but her chance of getting elected in this country are entirely ZIP.

4. Crafts. Not knitting, not crocheting, not tole painting, not basket weaving. If I were good enough to be contributing something worthwhile to a craft, I'd probably be too busy to bother to write it down, anyway. As it happens, I'm a dabbler in crafts--one quilt, one pair of pillowcases, one wreath, one pair of mittens, and so on. The quilt was the worst, it took me 4+ years to finish, and the only reason I got it done at all is because I was unemployed for 6 months, and I spent 40 hours a week on it until I got it done. Never again.

5. Music. As a kid, I took lessons on the accordion, do they even exist any longer? Then, like every one else in the 60s and 70s, I learned guitar. I still have two guitars, but no finger calluses (if they ever make artificial ones I might take another stab at it). I sang in the church choir and in high school choir, and I CAN carry a tune in a bucket. As long as I don't have to carry it too far. Or hit too many high notes. I can read music, and I have perfect pitch, a skill I have never found the slightest use for. Singers that sing off-key set my teeth on edge.

6. Technical tips for the computer-savvy. Eons ago I wrote programs in (remember them?) Fortran? Cobol? Assembler? GWBasic? But computer programmers have gone the way of stenographers, I think, and the systems analysts and engineering types talk a language of their own. I will admit to a whimsical view of Windows, for many years my desk sported a sign that said "I don't do Windows". I mean, how can you take an operating system seriously that has you click on "start" to turn the computer OFF?

7. Bad sad things -- abuse, violence. I can't let my mind even go in those directions without doing a meltdown myself, and I bet there are plenty of people who can't read about them either.

So what's left? Well, pretty much just random thoughts -- small ones. And no, "Micro" thoughts doesn't mean I write about Bill Gates, either.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I am so pleased, I actually, this time, managed to change my template without losing anything, changed my profile photo (no more dancing horse gif), and actually ended up with something reasonably good. I know I took that class in HTML, but somehow, my mind (like a stainless steel sieve) lost all that knowledge. I was reduced to cut-and-paste, and I messed that up a couple of times. Somehow, I couldn't upload the images for the template directly to blogger?? and had to create a Photobucket account and load them there? And my photo is from the at&t homepage? It all seems so cumbersome, I just hope it doesn't take half an hour to load.

Anyway, this is a nice boost for me, as I have been feeling truly old today, since today is R's(daughter's) birthday, she's, well she's (whisper) 26. I mean how could *I* have a daughter that old, I'm just a **few** years older myself. I mean, I don't feel any older....

Weather here in WV has been cold cold cold. Sunday the water line to the barn froze, and so it was haul-buckets-from-the-bathtub time. And then Sunday night, everyone but R went to bed, when she noticed the sound of running water in the pipes in the house, and realized no one was taking a shower, no washer was running, etc., so why was the water running? Alas, it was because the water line to the barn was unfrozen; but not before it had split the water line and gallons of water poured into the tack room, under the door, and down the path from the barn. SO there we were at midnight, sweeping water out of the tack room, after shutting off the line, and trying to fend off curious horses who were certain we must be out there to give them midnight snackies.

All is repaired now, and it turns out the heat tape on the line wasn't (blush) plugged in, so natch, the line would freeze, it was down to 8 degrees after all. No permanent damage done. I love winter, anybody want three muddy shaggy horses?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

How to Train a Cat

Made you look! You KNOW there isn't any way to train a cat, right? They train YOU. To feed them at a certain time, in a certain place, with a particular food. They train you to regularly empty their litter pans, and they *punish* you if you don't. They train you to scratch all the itchy places when they bump your hands or ankles and purr. They command the best seat in the house, the widest windowsill, the basket of fresh warm laundry. Paper bags must be placed on the floor to be explored, feathers must be dangled, crinkly bits of paper tossed to chase. Ah yes, it's a cat's world we live in.

Dogs on the other hand are easily trained. So why are there so many badly behaved ones? Because we are creatures of impulse, getting things without thinking through the responsibilities that come with ownership. So we see dogs that jump up and put their muddy paws on your clean clothes, ones that bark until the neighbors are ready to punch out their eardrums, dogs that lunge ahead when they're on a leash because no one ever taught them to walk on a lead, dogs that won't sit, stay, lie down or even come when called. It takes very little time on a daily basis to teach a dog to behave like a civilized companion, but it does take consistent effort over a period of weeks or months to get them to be reliable about what they should and should not do. It is well worth the effort. You'll be able to take your dog out in public, or have guests at your home, knowing that your dog will be a welcome member of any group, and you will have much less to worry about liability-wise if your dog is trained and well socialized. There's something really pitiful about a dog bouncing off the furniture, overturning glasses, and evading every attempt of his ineffective owner to corral him, because no one ever taught him the simple command "come!" Dogs have an inate desire to please their people, they only need to know what's expected of them.

Maybe I shoud give advice on child rearing too, while I am at it? The truth is, kids come pretty much hardwired in the behavior department, maybe because they're grown for 9 months before being hatched, as opposed to 60 days for dogs and cats. You can only modify their basic 'hardware' with 'software'. Your job as a parent is to teach them to be empathetic to the hurts of others, to share, to control their impulses in physical confrontations, to feel proud of themselves, to feel loved, to feel valued for who they are at every stage of their development and education. They need to have a sense of community, of knowing that they belong to a larger group than their own family, and that there are duties that are done for the family, and duties that one does as a member of the human race. This would include setting a good example by doing volunteer work yourself, things that you do for the simple joy of helping others, and not for money or status. It could be as simple as picking up trash along the roadway in front of your house, or picking out a toy to donate at Christmas. They need to learn to be satisfied with what they have in material possessions, not always lusting after what one doesn't have, because that way lies madness, and 'things' aren't a substitute for love. And they need to learn that you don't treat your family worse than you treat your friends; not by backtalk, rude remarks, name calling, stomping off in a huff, refusing to do your share, or anything else disrespectful to the family members. After all, friends come and they go; your family is in for the long haul, and long after you're just a dim memory to that friend, your "birth" family will still be in your life, and important even after you start a family of your own. Most of all, hug your kids...they're never too big or too grown up to hug, and hugs are one-size-fits-all, too. And finally, if you do your dead level best to be the best parent you can be, and your kid grows up to be selfish and violent and greedy and sad, don't beat yourself up with it. Everyone, in the end, is responsible for who they are, because everyone, young and old, makes choices, good or bad, and then lives with the results. That's life.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hospital room eti-ket

OK, I've calmed down somewhat from my hospital ordeal, but I still want to pass along my experiences in a semi-private hospital room as an illustration of how NOT to behave if you find yourself there.

I should say at the outset that I asked for a private room, having been through this before*. The step-down unit of the ICU didn't have anything but a semi-private, but they promised me a private room as soon as one became available (ho ho). My roommate, Mrs. G., seemed nice enough, asking me if her TV bothered me, and I said no, it was fine. Little did I know then that she would have it on 24 hours a day; it wasn't so much the sound of it, but the light from the screen flickering, flickering all night long, I felt like I was taking part in one of those WWII military tests to see if strobe lights could drive people crazy (they can). At one point, about 1 am, I heard Mrs. G snoring, so I siddled up to her TV and turned it off. But alas, she woke up 20 minutes later and turned it back on for the rest of the night. The second night there, I had the Hub bring me my sleep mask and earplugs, which helped immensely. Therefore Mrs. G is still alive.

Secondly, there is the matter of visitors. I have noticed in the past the tendency of families in this friendly place to treat hospitals like venues for family reunions, and Mrs. G. was no exception. She had visitors ALL THE TIME, even outside of visiting hours, at least 2 at any time and one time she had 5, including one four year old and one 7 week old. This despite the big sign right on the front of the nursing station, facing everyone as they get off the elevator that says "No children past this point. No more than two visitors at a time. Please be quiet, our patients need their rest" The nurses came in to see Mrs. G. several times when she had 5-with-two-kids and never said a word to her or to them. Worse yet, her husband used our bathroom, how icky is that??? Instead of the public RR near the elevators. And do you know how hard it is to modestly get through such a crowd to get to the bathroom, all the while clutching your gown together in the back so as not to flash the entire room? And there was only one visitor chair in the room, need I explain who got to use it, when my family came they had to perch on the edge of my bed.

(*The last time I was in the hospital, they put me in a room with a senile old lady who was on her way the next day to the nursing home. She was OK, fairly lucid, while her (enormous) family was visiting, but after they left, she kept trying to get out of the restraints, the nurses had arguments about how to fasten them so as to keep her in bed and yet not strangle her if she still climbed over the side rail. Once they had her somewhat secure they left, and then she realized I was in the room, and she kept saying "Who's there? I'm gonna to get my gun" and "You better git or I'm gonna blow your damned head off". One can only hope the nurses checked her bag when she came in. Finally I'd had it, and told the nurse if they didn't find me another room I was leaving, AMA. I told them I wouldn't be held responsible if the crazy woman got out of bed and put her hands on me while I was asleep. They said, oh, no, there aren't any rooms, and I said, fine, I'll just call my husband to come get me. It was about 11 pm, I called him and he came right over, bless him. And lo, it seems there WAS another bed, a private, actually an isolation room with a little antechamber, so it was the most quiet hospital room I've ever been in. I'm not one to make waves or be confrontational, but that night I really went over the edge.)

Anyway, back to Mrs. G. She (apparently) had trouble getting to the bathroom in a timely manner, and so she had a beside commode. This gave me the singular blessing of eating my lunch while on the other side of the curtain by my elbow, Mrs. G was, ah well, you can guess. Loverly. In the entire 3 days I was there, she never washed her hands, bathed, changed her gown, or brushed her teeth. What ever happened to the draconian nurses who used to bully patients into all of these, plus walking in the halls? They all seem to be wusses now.

I might not have been so vexed if my own doctor hadn't been such a prick, but I've gone to his office to pay for a copy of my records, to take to another doctor next month, so that's the end of him.

Come to think of it, maybe that's why they call us "patient"? And have you ever noticed, that doctors only "practice" medicine? Do you suppose they ever do it for real?

Ah well, pass me another Xanax, thanks.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Into the Out Of

I just returned from three endless days at the hospital. It all started with chest pains on Monday while I was at work, bad enough that I finally convinced myself I should go to the ER. They did lab work, and admitted me so I could take a stress test on Tuesday. The ER doctor had seen me before for an unrelated condition, and he said that knowing that I am "stoic" and was complaining of pain, that he took it seriously. Tuesday morning my "family" physician came by, sneered at the program I was watching on TV, and proceeded to lecture me about over-reacting, since I'd had a full cardiac workup "just two years ago". He condescendingly told me that I should have gone to his office, he could have run an ECG, maybe done some labs, then sent me on my way. But since I'd come to the ER, it was "a free pass to be admitted" since no ER doc would send someone home that said they had chest pains.

Now I ask you, does this sound like someone you'd want for your doctor? I have only been seeing him since the fall, when my doctor of 25 years gave up her practice after developing stage 4 breast cancer. I'd only seen him once several years ago, and then about three times since the fall, but he is the one that she sent her patient records to. I reflected on the patient who, a few months ago, went to the clinic my daughter works in, complaining of chest pains; after he waited an hour they told him they wouldn't be able to see him that day, and he should go to the ER. Instead he went home, where he dropped dead in his front yard 2 hours later. Then there was the teacher who taught band at the kids' junior high, who was found dead in his car parked in front of the doctor's office, where he had been going because he had chest pain. So anyway, my doctor left, they did the stress test, which was abnormal. The hospital had withheld my BP medicine prior to the test, since taking it can give a false negative. When I got up to the floor again, I was really in misery, my pulse above 120, BP 165/95, and BAD chest pains. And found that lo, my doctor didn't order the BP medicine to be "held" prior to the test, but wrote "D/C" (discontinue)! And when they tried to page him, he didn't answer his page. Finally they contacted the doctor on call, who said to give me a dose that evening, and straighten it out with my doc in the morning. My doc didn't come in the next morning, but sent his partner, who was clueless as to why he would have done this, but wrote the orders for the hospital to reinstate the med, and ordered a cardiologist consult. The cardiologist did a stress echo-gram, said it was normal, and that as far as he was concerned, I could go home -- if --my regular doc concurred. So of course, neither he nor his partner returned their pages (it was 7 pm by then) and finally the doctor on call said I could be discharged. I think I'll find a new physician. It's probably just as well that I find this out now, for a fairly benign problem, instead of waiting to be in the ICU like I was in 2000 and 2002. My old doctor would never have questioned my judgement about going to the ER, even if she hadn't agreed that it was necessary in the end. I do, after all have TWO insurance plans I'm covered under, we pay thousands of dollars every year for coverage, it wasn't going to come out of anyone's pocket. And because I'm a medical technologist, and have worked in biomedical research for 30 years, in Memphis, San Francisco and here in WV, I have a reasonably good grasp of medical matters, and especially of lab tests. I'm not used to being talked down to about my conditions, and I am familiar with what physicians routinely handle for a given patient, and I know that my doctor dropped the ball this week. I'm going to make an appointment with someone that the nurses spoke highly of, and see if we have any kind of "rapport" to build on.

In the last year, I have lost my therapist after 5 years(retired), my doctor after 25 years, and last month my psychiatrist (retired), so I am feeling a little abandoned these days.

It feels good to 'vent' here some, just reading it all back over makes me feel better.

There's still my thoughts on roommates in the hospital, but I'll save that for another day.