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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Grief Stricken

We had a slight disturbance at work yesterday that caught us all off guard, and I can't seem to stop thinking about it.
If you follow my blog, then you know about Dr. Saffari and what such a great guy and Doctor he is. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, please read this post). He works incredibly hard and cares for every person that walks through our front door. And it's not very often that he takes time for himself. After our PA up and left, Dr. Saffari was the only doctor that was available for consults in the hospital, and who could be paged for orders and questions etc. He never took a day off for those nine months. And to this day, he works non-stop to help his patients. But he did recently take a vacation to Italy; a much needed one, a couple of weeks ago.

Yesterday, we heard some horrible news that one of our long-time patients with ovarian cancer, died around 9am in Hospice. He'd been her doctor for years, and she'd been in decline for months. While I barely knew her, we were all saddened by this news. After lunch, our receptionist got a call from the patient's son. What he said shocked her so badly that she had to run to our RN for advice and to get it off her chest.
He had said something to the effect of:

"Because Dr. Saffari went on vacation, my mom is dead. So f*ck you."

And hung up.

Now I understand all too well how grief can consume you. I understand that he was angry at the world for his mother's death.  But this... is just wrong. Dr. Saffari took care of her. He had never given up. She was even still on chemotherapy, I believe. But she was loosing her battle. There was nothing he could do.
But, how dare he take time for himself. How dare he have a wife and children that he normally never gets to see, and take a much needed respite from his taxing position.
Again, I want to point out that anger is one of the 5 stages of grief. It's not bad or unusual to be angry, even at things that you wouldn't normally blame. But there is a big difference between sitting with your anger - even venting it to friends and family, and actually calling up our receptionist and saying that. 
Our RN told Dr. Saffari what he'd said. I don't know why he needed to know. He already feels guilty for taking any time for himself because he knows patients are in need of his help. As the day wore on, I knew the man's words had affected him deeply. He tried to hide it, but I could tell.

As most of you know, I've been though this myself. When Josh died, I went through every stage of grief. I was angry at myself because I believed that I caused his death by being negligent in his health. I also blamed the Urgent Care that I'd taken him to. He'd waited for over an hour to be seen. At this point, no one knew he'd had a heart attack, but nurses were manning the front desk. They watched him suffer in the waiting room. They saw his pale, pallid face. They should have known, I told myself. I was angry, sure. I will never go back to that particular Urgent Care ever again. At one point, I never wanted to go to any of them again. Negligent, incompetent people, I thought. But after he died, did I call them up and cuss them out? No. Did I scream at any of the nurses or doctors at TG for "letting him die"? No. In fact, the very next day when my parents took me back to get my car, I insisted on buying two cards: one for the ICU who took care of him in his last moments, and one reserved for this particular nurse that helped lighten the mood in the ER and had Josh smiling for the last time in his life.

I know that everyone handles grief differently. I know it can be difficult no matter what the circumstances. But I believe he could have, and should have, held his tongue. It's possible, I've done it. Dr. Saffari will reflect on his words, and it will be burned into his memory for all time, because you couldn't pause for one brief moment and not dial those numbers. He'll feel horrible about having any time to himself, because that's who he is. 

My advice... think about what you say. Pause, take a deep breath, and remember that your words can be immortalized for all time and can change people's lives forever.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The First Two Children of Trouble

I'm going to try and make this brief. I know it's hard for me to do that, sometimes!

So, child number one came screaming into our lives after Justin cut his wrist - no not the underside, but the top; with a boning knife. If you know anything about kitchen cutlery, a boning knife is the last knife you want to cut yourself with. A sharp chef's knife will leave paper cuts. A boning knife will literally slice you open. Filet is another term for this particular knife. It was Monday morning, and I was getting ready for work. I work near St. Joseph Hospital, so that's where I took him. We had managed to stop the bleeding by wrapping it up tightly with a wrap, but the cut was really bad. The ER didn't think it was a big emergency, so we waited. I'd parked in my work space across the street, which turned out to be a good thing because after the doctors got a look at him, they decided he needed surgery because he'd managed to sever the tendon that allows you to make a thumbs up. I stayed with him until he was wheeled into surgery about 2:30, and then I went to work. I needed to get stuff done, and there was no point in sitting in the waiting room when I worked right across the street. It was only an hour 1/2 later that I was called back, and he stayed in the hospital until Wednesday. The good news was that this time off for him uses my EIB - emergency illness bank, which accrues (albeit at a slightly slower rate) with my PTO. My boss told me that I could use it to care for Justin, which was really cool.
So, everything was going to turn out all right. Justin's surgery went fine (he'll still need physical therapy), and he was going to still be able to work, since it was his left arm that got cut.

And then the second child of trouble snuck in slowly, like a prowling tiger.

Justin got called into the office that Thursday the 20th. Since he works for McDonalds, "the office" meant the place they do education; and where they fire people. The meeting wasn't until noon, and we were both convinced that he was going to get fired... peg him on something, who knows what. I was at my wits end. At one point during work I had a small panic attack. We were trying to plan on what we were going to do if he got fired. He was telling me they wouldn't approve his unemployment, which would be more than detrimental, since we are barely affording to live here as it was. And our lease isn't up until December.
Turns out, it was just a transfer. A bad one (as in, they're trying to get rid of him and telling him he may do better somewhere else. As in: "this is your last warning, buddy"). However, this transfer came with an horrible side-effect: he doesn't start work there until October 1st. Coupled with the days off from his injury, that left us 2 weeks without pay. He's the bread winner because he works full time. I only work 32 hours and the medical/dental/vision gets taken out of my paycheck, so it's pretty shitty income.
So, now we had a new problem. 2 weeks without pay would leave us basically unable to pay all the bills. What were we going to do?
A friend suggested the Cornerstone Club. It's part EAF (employee assistance fund). Workers contribute to this fund out of their good will, and it goes to helping employees in need. Unfortunately, you only get to use it once in your career. But, I didn't know where else to turn. Finally, out of desperation, I called HR. She told me one of the requirements to get the EAF was to have already cashed out some of your PTO.

Wait a minute - you can cash out your PTO? I had 127 hours worth!

Apparently, once a year, you can cash out up to 80 hours of PTO. I was saved! Since I only work 64 hours a paycheck normally, this was going to be a nice bonus; and we definitely needed it. I couldn't believe my luck. I was so happy I even thanked God. I'm not religious by nature; although I am agnostic. I just wanted to thank... something. And hopefully, Justin will do better here, in his new environment; in many more ways than one. We shall soon see.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Good Eats Dies with Scripps

I honestly believe in the three children of trouble. Or as I like to say “Shit happens in threes!”. Sometimes, a person can just pick two random bad things that happen over a span of time and say “yeah, I’m waiting for number three” and then as a pessimist, would soon find it. However, sometimes shit really does happen in threes, and this is a good example.

I’ll talk about the first two children later, after I feel more stabilized. But right now, I’m pissed over child number three.

As some of you may know, I've started a little project (little. Ha!) to post all of Good Eats onto Youtube. It became somewhat of an obsession a couple years ago, when we bought our first Tivo system and I realized that I could transfer shows from the Tivo onto my computer (which I think that alone makes it worth every cent). I started saving all the Good Eats that played. And soon thereafter, Youtube decided that it was going to expand its services and allow videos longer than 15 minutes. That’s when I posted my first Good Eats video a year ago. It’s an arduous process that takes anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes to upload and takes most of our bandwidth. And then, Food Network decided it hated Alton Brown and moved Good Eats over to the Cooking Channel. I suppose it fits better over there, since FN is turning into a reality TV, competition-based food channel anyway. But unfortunately, The Cooking Channel is a premium channel. So now, suddenly, Good Eats was very inaccessible to the main public. Its not on DVD except for the first 2 seasons (they do have random DVDs by category, but not all of the seasons) it’s not on Netflix, it’s not on Hulu, its shows aren’t archived at, and it barely plays on FN; I think one or two episodes a week at most. Not to mention it’s not played in many other countries (or so I’m told from comments on my Youtube channel.) So, it became my solemn duty to put all of them online (I have about 240 out of 252). I’m not the only one that has episodes up, but I am one of the few that have them not split up, and in HD.

And here’s where the third child comes to play. Obviously, I do not own Good Eats, so it’s technically a violation to post them. Anything posted from Fox or NBC gets a warning almost immediately. They’re right on it. Scripps… plays the game a little differently. They’re some selfish pr*cks (excuse my language). Just about every popular show you want to see, past or present, can be found to watch somewhere, legally. Except for Good Eats. Scripps is so selfish, they won’t even allow it to be posted on Youtube, even though I’m not profiting from it. I realize that they’re allowed to be – they own it or license it or whatever. But why? Why make it inaccessible to the public? If the show was on DVD I wouldn’t even bother. Alton gets the money from the DVD sales and I wouldn’t take that away from him. But it’s not on DVD, so it’s quite unfair to everyone who likes the show. And it’s Food Network that is cheap and lazy and won’t make the DVDs.

So, finally, Scripps caught up with me. I got a violation notice from Youtube and had to take down Ginger: Rise of the Rhizome. If I incur any more violations, then my account will be shut down. I don’t know how Scripps finds these episodes (it’s not like its hard), but so far it’s only been the one. Now it’s a waiting game. I COULD take them all down myself and keep my account. Or, I could wait it out. I really don’t want to lose my account, though. I have many other videos that I posted and liked and favorited. If they shut me down and I have to make a new account, I suppose I could do that, without the Good Eats, of course. But it’s just the principle of the matter, you know? I almost want to start up my own website and post them there, but if THAT gets found out, I think the penalties would be a lot worse, and it’s not worth it.

I love this show so much and I wanted to just be able to share it with others. It’s good to have around as a reference guide, and it was nice to know that if my hard drive crashed I would have them saved on Youtube. But I guess Scripps thinks differently.

Wish me luck.

This is my example of fair use. Unfortunately, it would 
be taken down with everything else.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Foray into Oregon

I've been to Oregon before, but not this deep. The farthest I've gone is to Astoria, which if you don't know, is on the very tip of the state. Well, this time I wanted to go to Portland (oooh, so much deeper). I'd been wanting to see it for a while, but never really had a reason to go. But then I kept hearing Voodoo Doughnut this and Voodoo Doughnut that, and I was like - FINE - doughnuts it is! Okay well, doughnuts are all fine and good, but don't really create a whole day's worth of activity. So, I added a stop to Cannon Beach. I'd heard from a friend how awesome it was there, so I decided to add that to the trip. Then, I started looking on Groupon and Living Social for any deals or things to do in Portland, and discover that Ivories Jazz Lounge was having a half off meal for two at their restaurant. Sold.

The trip itself was very boring so there's not a lot of ground to cover. I drove us down to Cannon Beach. We ate at the Driftwood Restaurant (both having Chowder sourdough bowls, which weren't as good as Duke's), walked across the street and bought a couple shot glasses at a gift shop, and then found our way to the beach. Unfortunately, the clouds were looming.

Haystack Rock
This has to be the most expensive view in Oregon

I wasn't used to seeing a beach that wasn't flat. It intrigued me that we were sea level, yet looked like we were up in the mountains (with the low clouds hanging onto the cliffs). If you go to Ocean Shores, everything is flat. The beach, the town, and everything up to it. Quite boring, really. And the sand is much grayer up there.

Anyway, so after we dumped the sand from our shoes, we headed to Portland. Justin drove this time, because I hate driving in big cities and I've heard horror stories of Portland. The drive to Portland was cool; a scenic drive through the mountains. I'm unsure of our elevations... I think at one point we were at 1500 feet. We were learning quickly about how people suck at driving in Oregon. On our way down to Cannon Beach I kept complaining about the slow drivers... we had one lane roads with an occasional passing lane up big hills, and it was almost torture. It was SPEED 55 and people were going 45, maybe 50 if we were traveling downhill. By the time Justin took over, we realized that this was going to be a trend. The best we could do to keep our sanity was make a running gag that all of Oregon was tl;dr with all their road signs. (For those not internet savvy, that's shorthand for "too long; didn't read".) It was hilarious. The signs we found included:

SPEED (In WA, we say "Speed Limit ____" In Oregon, it's just "Speed")
ELK (They say elk, yet have just a picture of a deer. Because, you know, we know what elks look like but we need a picture for deer)
and then, we saw:


Whoa, whoa! Too many words!

The funniest one though was whenever we would enter a work zone. In Washington, we've got a NOTICE: Traffic Fines Double In Work Zones. In Oregon, we would see 'FINES DOUBLE'. That's it. Short and to the point, I guess! Justin would make fun of the signs like "RIGHT LANE ENDS", he would say, "It should just say 'END'." - Hey, we had to keep entertained somehow!

So anyway, we get to Portland and realize that Damn, Voodoo Doughnut is like, popular.

We were waiting about 20 minutes in 80 degree heat. The sun was relentless - I'm surprised I didn't get a sunburn. Justin and I both agreed that we would never wait in this line for one doughnut. (When we left with our order, the line was even longer than it was when we got there, so obviously it stays this busy pretty much all day long). We ordered several different kinds of doughnuts. They really like to add cereal toppings and I'm all for that. I got one with Cpt'n Crunch, one with rice crispies, and one with Cocoa Puffs, plus several others.

The Review:
Our Groupon consisted of soup, salad, a glass of house wine (or $5 towards a glass), 2 entrees, and a shared dessert for $30, normally $60. The soup was carrot ginger. It was, um, okay. I chose the muscat wine cuz I need something super sweet in order for me to even be able to drink it. Justin got the Pinot Grigio, which was sweet but not sweet enough for my liking. Justin ordered the Jambalaya, and I got the Filet Mignon. The Jazz band began playing a bit later after we arrived and it was nice. Their drummer was blind, which was totally awesome. (Not that he was blind but, well, you know). When our food arrived, I became the critic. Not that I want to be - I go into restaurants with no preconceived notions. But I could see why the place needed a Groupon to drum up business, as it were. My filet was rare... I'd ordered medium rare. The red potatoes were under-cooked, and the green beans were basically just blanched and set on the plate (still very stratchy, almost raw). This was the first time I'd ever sent any food back in my entire life. And no, I wasn't an ass about it or anything. I could have eaten it rare - I wasn't that bugged by it. The reason I sent it back was to let the chef know to check his food before sending it out. They should know to temp, or at least judge by touching, how cooked a steak is. Justin's meal had a flaw as well: clumps of rice in his Jambalaya that weren't cooked all the way. My problem with this place was that these were rookie mistakes. I'm not talking about "oh, the sauce was too spicy for the beef" and shit. This was basic stuff, here. The dessert was good though. Justin said "Well, you can't really mess up a brownie sundae". I answered with "Well yeah you could - with the brownie!" At least it was only $30. I would have been very upset to pay $60 for that.

After that, Justin drove us home. The pavement really is quieter on the other side of the bridge, and that's not a metaphor! "People know how to drive here!" He said. Also, we made it about 400 miles before the gas light dinged at us. We still hadn't made it to Olympia, and of course my sophisticated computer likes to say "FUEL RANGE: LOW" when it gets to the point of panic. Thanks for the help, computer. I began to freak because the last thing we needed was to wait for a fuel up from Progressive at 10pm at night. So, we pulled into a Chevron and paid for just 2 gallons of gas - enough to get us home and to a less expensive option the next day. So, we basically did the entire trip on one tank of gas, which was pretty cool.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Crapsman... said the blind woman

I say A+ for my title.

Anyway, I had a very interesting couple of days. It all begins about 2 weeks ago when I thought I felt and noticed my driver's side front tire getting low. Not being one to procrastinate, I waited until 2 days before our drive to Portland to fill'er up.

[Justin and I, we like to be prepared, even though we have roadside assistance through our insurance. Why wait two hours for something you can do yourself? So, we have spare tires, jumper cables, a jack, and air compressors for flat tires. I don't want that fix a flat shit. That's in emergencies when you know something punctured your tire and you're going to replace it. A slow leak is different. And once, I filled it up with air just to get it to Les Schwab.]

So, we have an air compressor in each car. In Justin's, the cheaper Craftsman model that gets about 150 PSI and takes forever to blow up a tire. In my car, a more expensive 300 PSI Craftsman that's much better. So on Thursday after work, I pull out my compressor, and what's this? The 12V d/c adapter is in pieces. (I learned later on the Sears website that this is quite common. WTF?). I try to piece it back together, but I must not have all the pieces. So, I say screw it, and go grab Justin's compressor. I plug it in, and nothin. Nada. Zip. I'm already about to bang my head against the wall but wait, it gets better!

I had never looked inside a 12V adapter before, but I got my chance with the broken one. I realize that maybe I can take apart the crappy compressor's adapter and see what I'm missing, you know, since it's obviously broken anyway. Turns out, I'm missing a glass tube. I take it out of that one (which by the way looks really growdy and unusable from some kind of corrosion) and put it in the good compressor. Plug it in. Nothing. (And yes, everything I tried in my car, I tried in Justin's.)

So now, apparently, I have two broken compressors.

The next day I go to work and begin doing research. I need to buy a replacement compressor immediately because I'm going on my trip on Saturday. And we all know what happens when you go on a trip ill-prepared. I obviously want to avoid Crapsman, as my dad says, so I'm trying to find something else. And I've been chatting on and off with my dad this whole time. I get on the Sears website, click on a compressor to see if it's available at the store, and see this:

Directions: To replace fuse, unscrew tip of plug, remove fuse and replace with like amperage.

Say what? Those things have a FUSE? Is that what that glass tube was? Hello!

I call dad immediately.

"Have you ever replaced a fuse in a 12 volt thingie?"

"A 12 volt what?"

"...a thingie."

"Yes, I've replaced many fuses in 12 volt thingies."

After work, I head to Schucks - sorry, "O'Reilly" Auto Parts to find a replacement fuse. I'm hoping this is the problem, as my Crapsman at Sears will cost me about $50 to replace. The guy says I need to know the Amps the fuse is. Since I don't have the compressor with me, I'm forced to go home, and call my dad again.

"Can you tell when a fuse is broken?"

"Yes, unless it's broken where you can't see it. But, you can wrap it in tinfoil and it will work regardless."

Ah, you learn something new every day. This was the info I was fishing for. So, I rap it in tinfoil, and of course, nothing. So, it's not the fuse.

[At this point, I should have known what the real problem was. But I was blind to it.]

Finally giving up on my Crapsman, I drive out to Autozone to buy a replacement. (They have the Slime brand. Sounds trustworthy, don't it?) I drive home (stupid) and attempt to plug it in. Nothing. I growl and stomp over to Justin' car. I know what's wrong now, but I want conformation. I plug it in, and nothing. I wiggle it, and it comes to life. A-ha. (Side note: Justin's car is an '89 Chevy Celebrity. The d/c adapter is a little roomy and the connections don't sit right. I'd forgotten this fact since I no longer drive the car.) I stalk up to the house, grab the Crapsman, and plug it into Justin's car with a wiggle. It comes to life.

So, I was right. It was the fuse. Just not the one in the d/c adapter.

I attempt to plug in my GPS charger, which has an indicator light and get nothing. And, this is now the 2nd time my cigarette lighter fuse has burned out. I drive back out to Autozone and tell him "I need to trade this for a 20 amp fuse." Problem solved. I'd learned about the fuses in my trunk from a similar experience about a year ago, probably trying to do the same thing. I was able to say, charge my phone, but anything requiring a lot of power would flat out not work. Believe it or not, there is a fuse specifically for those two cigarette lighters alone. At least they're cheap. A hell of a lot cheaper than a Slime Air Compressor!

Look at it. I trust this brand completely.