Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Surviving the New Economy


Tuesday, 5:40am. I'm staring at the ceiling fan. I'm rather fond of this fan, especially in the stuffy summer months, and its just as well, because I've spent a lot of time inspecting it. There's a bit of dust on the blades I should climb up and remove before we start using it.

Lately, every night begins and ends the same way. I fall asleep like I haven't slept in days. I sleep soundly for better than half the night.

I wake up in clutching, mindless, irrational terror. Scarcity, "what ifs", work angst, generalized anxiety, mental accounting of the vague and terrifying variety.

I'm kinda tired of it. Here's a list of nice things that happened today.

1. I woke up with my face snuggled in a warm cat. When I lifted my head he put his paw on it as if to say, no no, sleep, and planted a kiss on my forehead.

2. I had a cup of tea.

3. The sun is out.

4. I actually laughed at work.

5. I like my socks. Good socks today.

Yeah, I'm hanging on by my fingernails. Underneath me is my old, currently broken down car, a career I don't want, a future that is murky and uncertain, and an impending 39th birthday.

But hey. There's also this. And this is about the only thing that's keeping me from hiding under a blanket with a bag of cookies and the cat.

25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or
drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important
than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of
the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your
heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who
of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was
dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field,
which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more
clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we
eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans
run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need
them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these
things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about
tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rollin' with the EMS Homies

Hey! I posted, though its over here at yonder blog, my blog for all things medical and some things icky.

I keep this place and that there place separate despite the Husband's strident pleas that I combine all. I do this because not everyone wants to hear stories about death and poop.

This one involves neither, I promise.

Overheard at ITLS

I took this excellent course last weekend, after a feverish three days of reading as much of the textbook as I could in 72 hours while still sleeping and giving a full time job due diligence. It was a great weekend, having practical time alongside Paramedics and RNs as well as EMTs from other stations was an excellent opportunity to sharpen skills, learn new things, and share what works with people from other departments. Even through I didn’t ‘get a weekend’ rest-wise, I came back Monday morning with my Patient Care batteries recharged. Hearing one of my former EMT instructors say how proud she was of her ‘graduated students’ reminded me what I like about doing this ‘free job’ I’ve got.

As usual, there were occasions for a few laughs.

During a lecture on ‘Patients Under the Influence’ our instructor told us a lot of things about what is going on in schools that convince me that I made the right decision limiting my children to the four legged, fur bearing variety. Apparently the ‘new and improved kegstand’ involves inverting oneself while beer is inserted into the anus. It would seem the alcohol crosses into the bloodstream faster and one can get drunk more quickly on less beer. Good grief, people. I feel like I’m taking a walk on the wild side when I eat a sleeve of Sprees and drink a Pepsi. Many questions spring to mind, as well, including but not limited to:

What about the carbonation?
Is there a separate keg for people who want their beer the old fashioned way?
Is there a surefire way to differentiate same that doesn’t involve sniffing the tap?
If you can actually stand on your hands and let someone do that without falling over (or, even more compelling, do it YOURSELF) is there a better outlet for your talents that might be in some way financially lucrative? Oughtn’t you check this out?

We’re all shooting the breeze during lunch on day 3 of class, discussing other training opportunities. A student (who is frequently an instructor) was telling us about Wilderness EMS, and I said we should have that this summer. I volunteered to be the ‘S’Mores Officer’ for the weekend.

(I realize the last couple of anecdotes seem unrelated. Bear with me.)

Said student went on to say that when he took Wilderness EMS the ‘patient’ he had to ‘keep alive’ in his scenario was hypoglycemic and unconscious, and that they had considered ‘putting chocolate up his butt’ as a possible solution.

There was a moment of silence while this was considered. Then I said,
"I guess that would be like a ‘S’mores Stand’. Though I don’t recommend using the graham crackers." (general laughter)


Oh, and I passed. Not as high a grade as I’d like but I’m obsessive about such things. So if you wreck in the 'Boro on a Wednesday night, if you'd keep your injuries around a B+, I'd appreciate it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

You can keep your Strunk and White......

The authority for all things English in my world has always been this:In middle school, junior high, and high school, Warriner's was my calculus. It was my holy book. My participles did not dangle, my modifiers were not misplaced, and my sentences were rigidly diagrammed with the help of a yellow ruler I kept clipped in my ring binder. My math skills may have been par to slightly sub-par, but when it came to words, I was double shifting. I was using all the crayons in the box. I was reading four years above my grade level. I 'hear' awkward sentence structure like an out of tune piano, a skill that earned me the silent treatment for two weeks in college after I red-penned the living hell out of a paper a friend asked me to proofread.

The Text Messaging Age has been hard on me. I know I'm not the only one who picks up on the general slippage in language skills. Whole blogs are dedicated to woefully written notes and unnecessary punctuation. Bloggers more popular than I have discussed it at length.

I may have upped the ante this morning with my email to the Wall Street Journal. I was glancing over the headlines when I saw this.

Treasurys? It leapt off the page, assaulting me with its wrongness. I read the article, thinking perhaps the title was put on later, by an editor, perhaps, but no, the author used 'treasurys' again. So I did what any other right thinking person would do at 9:15 on a Friday morning.

I emailed him and pointed out his error.

I didn't expect a reply, but I'd made an effort to pull the grammatical dress hem out of the pantyhose of the Wall Street Journal and that was enough for me. Imagine my surprise when Andrew Peaple emailed me right back.

Wsj style I thnk. Thanks for your comment though. (sic)

Seemed nice enough, he did, and since he replied to some random woman in a backwater town and acknowledged her picky observation, never mind the research that probably went into the article and the thousand things he had to understand to discuss the topic intelligently. So I emailed him again.

Ah. I forgot that sometimes the papers do things a little outside of Warriner's English Grammar. My husband is a writer/editor and I've been on the receiving end of his "Oh God, why didn't I see that" a few times so I just wanted to do you a solid and mention it.
Have a great day!

(See what I did there? Its called the benefit of the doubt. Even though I felt a little like Cindy Lou Who being told her Christmas tree had a light out and was being taken in for repairs.)

He sent back:
Thank you. Stay in touch!

By the way, I'm british, so am constantly wrestling with american spellings....

Again, a sweetie. A sweetie who is also capricious with capital letters and blames his fine country of origin, which aside from using words like 'banger' and 'pram' and throwing the odd 'u' in words that don't need it doesn't play fast and loose with the rules. So I'm still left with the feeling that all writing, even in the august Wall Street Journal, is on the skids.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Its paid for, but please don't......

I finally got to ride in our sweet new ambulance Tuesday night. After countless bone jarring ambulance transfers in a 4WD vehicle that would have eventually resulted in breasts I could kneel on, we got a 2WD that offered a smooth ride and steps you can negotiate with a wide butt and short legs without looking like you just fell off a Mardi Gras float. Yaay for me!

It still has that 'new ambulance' smell, which is kind of like the 'new car' smell, if new cars came with extrication tools and the smell cost about $160,000 extra. Everything is shiny and unused.

We set off with a patient onboard who had difficulties that were not of the elimination variety, so I was alarmed when she had a whispered conversation with the nurse on board that ended with said nurse saying, "You have to POOP?" This was followed with a reassuring explanation of how very close we were to our destination, a place where she could do what needed done, possibly even without three onlookers in close quarters. This reassurance lasted exactly 45 seconds. I was at the head of the cot so I couldn't hear much of what was being said, only "Right NOW? Are you sure?"

A bedpan (which I prayed to the Patron Saint of Inopportune Defecation was actually IN the storage bin) was located, and we pawed through the layers of straps, tubing, non washable and very vulnerable-looking wool blankets, and ether blanketing to get to the patient and slip it in place.

Have you ever gotten on an elevator and experienced that awkward silence that settles in after the doors close? Or been witness to the 'party lull' where everyone stops talking at the same time for no particular reason? I would submit to you that these experiences run a distant seventy-third to dropping trou so you can poop in front of strangers in a moving vehicle.

We got the patient sorted out, then field tested something called the 'Power Vent'. (Ambulance manufacturers, whoever thought of a ceiling-mounted fan that sucks smells out of the back so they can hover malevolently over random municipalities, THANK YOU. It works like a champ.)

And nothing cheers up the staff of my favorite ER like walking in with a big red biohazard bag and saying, "Do you have someplace I can put this?" I wish I had one for them every day.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Here we go again


Here, I walk out of a movie that I couldn't stand, and pull up to the computer to have a little fun while I wait for it to be over, and I discover that once again I've managed to offend someone.

I made a comment on someone else's blog that had nothing to do with Canada. Only that a couple of folks from Canada had gotten hurt in a motorcycle accident. I didn't imply that being from there had anything to do with them having an accident. They could have been from Toledo. They could have been from Cheesequake, New Jersey. (Its a real place, one of my favorite towns EVAR.) They could have been from Pocatello, which is either in Iowa or Idaho. I think Idaho.
As it happens they were from Canada. I'm sorry.

I once took a Canadian Politics class in college that I absolutely didn't need because:

1. I had a small crush on the professor (an occasional adjunct at Queens University)
2. I knew absolutely nothing about your system of government and very little of your history outside of the bit of Irish history that overlaps it and that at one time you had a PM named Trudeau and a couple of Brians. I got a free subscription to McLean's and a B+.

I was busted for shoplifting in Montreal once. They were lenient. I was four years old. I was sent as a youth delegate to a missions conference in Niagara Falls when I was 17 and I conducted myself with utmost decorum despite the fact that our chaperone dropped us off at the hotel and went back to Buffalo to hang out with his daughter. We had a very good pizza, went on the Maid of the Mist, and sang a lot of songs about Jesus.

So gentle Canadians, polite Canadians, warmly dressed Canadians, please accept my apologies.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon we will mend.