Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What is a Segway, and When Did It Show UP?

So, what is a Segway?  It is a two wheeled transportation device.  I do not watch a lot of news on TV,  I flip through a local newspaper that is very conservative and not very informative about the rest of the world, and read a couple of online headline services, reading only the stories I am interested in.  So, when the Segway appeared in the world, I was quite unaware.

Mostly, I see the Segway http://www.segway.com/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segway_PT   on The Weather Channel http://www.weather.com/. It is a unique and interesting personal transportation device. I think it is a really interesting and unique transportation device.  The speed is probably not practical for anything other than urban transport, but that is what it is intended for.... Hmmm.

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Taking the First

I went to a viewing of the film "Taking the First" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0164530/ tonight.  After the viewing, we had a discussion facilitated by a professor at the local law school. The film was very interesting.  We were asked to think about, as we viewed the film, if the case went to appeal, and we could influence a judge on the appeals panel, how would we influence the judge.

The point was about the first amendment, the right to free speech, as we think of it in an inexact and not legal sense. And, it is a story about the consequences of speech.

Before I went to work in the prison, I was very careless with my speech.  I made statements that I probably did not mean.  We have all heard them:  "I could have shot someone."  "I could have slapped someone."  We really do not mean we would do that.  We are expressing a desire to take an action that hopefully indicates the level of our emotion, with no actual intent to take the action.   Well, I do not do that anymore.  I will not say "I would do anything for..."  I might say "I could spit nails."  I suppose someone could accuse me of harming them by my spitting nails, but more power to them, if they can. Frankly, I can not imagine spitting nails...It sounds very painful to the spitter. 

Speech is important. Words do hurt. We can not take them back. We need to be aware of how our words impact and influence others. It is not that we should not be direct, upfront and honest.  But tact, sincerity, respect and dignity go a long way....

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I work in a prison that is primarily a psychiatric and medical facility, but has a trustee camp which houses offenders who work around the facility and help to keep it running...The hospital part of the prison is considered a transient facility, although we have some patients who have been or will be at the unit until they leave prison or die...

A couple of times a year, and sometimes more often, we are on "lockdown."  Lockdown means that the offenders are confined to their housing, and moved only for medical emergencies...Or, in our case because we are a medical facility, if they are discharged out or admitted to care.  And, because we are a medical facility with a mission of patient care, our wardens have generally kept the lockdown to a short minimum... On a general prison unit, lockdowns can go on for long periods of time, especially if there are racial or gang problems causing a lot of unrest or even violence.  Or, just parts of a facility may be on lockdown.  And, when the great cell phone scandal occurred, we were locked down for quite some time. 

So, it is lockdown...Sometimes, this is a time to catch up and take care of long awaited undone chores. Sometimes, it is busier than a usual work period.  Always, it is boring.  Of all the things I like about my job, I like talking to patients the best.  This is typical for me:  I have always liked talking to my clients, no matter what social work role I have had.  So, although I appreciate the even slower pace of a slow paced environment, I get antsy, bored, and usually find myself having a hard time staying on task...

I have some creative tasks that I can do while we are on lockdown, and that is good...But, I am ready to get back to business as usual.

Lockdown means if we need to speak to a patient, we do it cell side.  We have devised a system of giving patients self report forms so they can confidentially provide us with input regarding their status and care, because obviously, if we re discussing things cell side, every other offender in hearing distance is listening. 

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Monday, November 29, 2010

I Really Like My Job

I was really looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday, which provided me with 4 days off from work.  I did not have extensive or extravagant plans, but did want to attend some Lady Raider basketball games, read, and listen to some old music...

So, Thursday and Friday, I slept in.  By Saturday, I was ready to get up early, as I would for work, and Sunday was the same.  That was okay.  It was  just good to have days in which I could relish the relaxing pace and calm, peaceful activities in which I engaged.   That was great.   I commented previously on the benefit of a vacation weekend I took, in "The Vacation Lingers."  Sometimes, the relaxed pace and pleasurable activities really help to make a long weekend a pleasant one.

So, Monday morning, it was time to return to work.  I really like my job:  I am payed reasonably well, I am well respected by my colleagues, and I am able to help the patients on my caseload.  This is a winning combination.

But, this morning, I would have appreciated more time off...I am really excited that I will have more time off at Christmas:  December 24, 2010 and return to work January 3, 2011

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Raking Leaves

One would not think of Lubbock as having trees, so raking leaves should not be an issue.  But there are many trees in the neighborhoods of Lubbock , and raking leaves is an activity that has to happen in autumn or more accurately, in winter.  It seems that many trees do not relinquish their leaves until well into December and January...

Many folks mow up their leaves with their lawn mowers, which is an option.   I generally rake leaves, and do not usually do so until January, although sometimes, I get tired of looking at them earlier.. So, I rake, knowing full well that the trees have not shed all their leaves, and another episode of raking will need to occur.

This weekend, I raked leaves... I do not recall raking leaves in November in Lubbock.. Usually, it is closer to New Years Day, and has been as late as near the middle of February, depending when the last of the leaves fall...

I am wondering if this is a foreboding of a severe winter.. Or, if I just got tired of looking at leaves on the ground sooner than later....


More About My Hair

You may remember that on November 14, I asked "Why is My Hair Wavy?"  After more than 50 years of straight hair, except when my mother subjected me to permanent waves, my hair has started to be wavy... In the back at first, but now on the sides... I had a haircut some weeks ago, which did nothing to help with the wave on the sides... I was frustrated and aggravated.

Today, I got a haircut... the length of my hair was shortened, and the sides as well as the back were layered...So,now my hair sticks out every which way, but at least it looks like it is supposed to....


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Weather in Contrast

We are anticipating a drastic decrease in temperature, but today was so balmy, that I actually sat outside and read for a while tonight after I came home from work.  This is not an unusual contrast in weather for West Texas.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another Reason I am Glad I am Not Travelling this Holiday

While the whole body scan/pat search issue is just really creepy and sounds too invasive for my taste, I know that if I ever opt for air travel, that is something I will have to endure.  This Thanksgiving weekend, I am not travelling.  That means I will not be visiting family in other parts of the country, but that is okay... I am grateful to be home with my girls, and to have the four day weekend.

I am watching The Weather Channel tonight.  I really enjoy The Weather Channel, although I think they sometimes over dramatize the weather, and, on occasion, down play the seriousness of the weather. 

So, for the major travel days this holiday weekend, it looks like there is lots of weather: snow, electric storms, possible tornadoes...It sounds like air travel will be effected.  It also means that road travel will be effected because of snow storms, and slush.

I hope for those who are travelling, you go quickly, without undue delay, and safely.

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Monday, November 22, 2010


I have written several precursory blogs lately.  I have started off thinking I might do an in-depth piece, and do some research to give depth and detail to the piece.  But, as I start doing the research, I decide that I am not interested in sorting through the information and organizing it for a blog.

It is not that I am that lazy... I do psychosocial evaluations at work... The process involves researching medical records for information that we may not otherwise get from the patient.  Sometimes, the patient is too decompensated to give us valid information, and the information has to be gleaned from the record.  It is time consuming, and frankly, happens frequently.  I guess I do enough research at work....


Sunday, November 21, 2010


I grew up in a household in which my parents drank coffee, but my mother also drank tea.  As the years went on, she drank tea more than she drank coffee, and finally pretty much drank tea.  She even had a punch recipe that included tea.

I drink tea.  I have consumed tea over the years, and even drank loose leaf tea.  I go through spells drinking tea. Sometimes I drink tea more often than others.  Lately, I have been drinking a lot of tea.  And I have been experimenting with many varieties.

Recently I wanted a new teapot, and went to the World Market to get one.  I looked at their selection of teas, and was disappointed: they basically had the same teas that I could get a supermarket or even Wal-Mart.  Someone told me ROSS sold teas, but they did not have much variety.

So, mostly I have been buying teas at the grocery store or Wal-Mart.  We do have one other store in town that might have a variety of teas.  I just have not made it there yet.

I have also stumbled upon a mystery series set in a tea shop, written by Laura Childs. http://www.laurachilds.com/  Her website includes tea resources.

I think tea must be rising in popularity at the present time.  Yesterday, when I went to Wal-Mart l browsed the tea section.  I was surprised.  There was much larger selection than there was about a month ago.  Several new brands. More varieties of brands that had been there. It was really interesting to note! 


Saturday, November 20, 2010

MSNBC Lockup

It might sound strange, but I frequently watch MSNBC Lockup http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27118605/ns/msnbc_tv-documentariesThose of you who know me well, know that I work in a psychiatric prison in Texas.  So, why would I want to watch a television documentary about prison?

I do not know... I see a lot of my day to day work situations on TV. Validated. Explained. And, I learn from how other people handle these situations.

I think prisoners are the forgotten Americans: depending on the jurisdiction in which they are incarcerated, their rights and privileges vary, but they are Americans who have few personal freedoms.  Their criminal behavior has put them in this situation. 

Incarceration is to keep them away from society.  Hopefully to give them the time to think about
the error of their ways. And, while they are incarcerated, to keep them from committing additional crimes during that time. And, if they are in a situation that offers it, giving them the opportunity to learn new ways...

Because, unless they have a life sentence or a death penalty, the people who are in prison are going to be out in our society again.  And, if we do not help them while they are in prison, they are certainly going to continue their criminal behavior when they leave prison.

It would do society well to decide that we can invest in some of these people, and try to give them education, information, and habilitation to teach them about being pro-social....  The cost is high, but for every person reached, the return is even higher. 

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Easy Listening

I frequently turn on the TV to have what I call "background noise."  It might be a show I am semi-interested in, but am doing something else while watching... I watch a lot of sports this way:  I am doing something else, and the sports is there is the background.  I only pay attention when the pitch and tone of the announcer tells me something exciting is happening...

On the other hand, if it is a show or sports that I am truly interested in, I usually engage in a handiwork project that allows me to concentrate on the show, while still doing something else that can be suspended when necessary to concentrate on the show.

I enjoy music, and have lots of music options:  records (and two turntables), cassettes, and CDS...Oh, and do not forget the music channels from cable... I rarely listen to those.  But I have found that I am increasingly interested in listening to those, especially when I am inside reading. 

Having other programming on interferes with my concentration when I try to write, but the background music allows me to think and write, for the blog, for example...

And, as I am reading and winding down for the night, the music helps me to relax.. I know this.. I just do not take advantage of it...

Some months ago, I was in the home of a most laid back and comfortable couple... They had easy listening music on the TV, very soft.  But there.  I realized that day, that that really did contribute to the environment.  I need to remember this....

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Taking Care of Colleagues

We recently went through some major computer upgrades of our electronic medical record, at work.  I was asked to be on the committee, serving as a liaison between the software people and staff.  It was a really good experience for me:  I learned a lot about the program we are using, it reduced MY anxiety about the change, many folks asked me about it and I could share information (and hopefully, reduce their anxiety) and it was a good change of pace for me.

Many of my colleagues are computer-challenged.  So things that someone else might experiment or explore are not tried, and they become stuck in difficult or unproductive ways of using the computer.  The fall out of my being the liaison has been that I am being asked questions that really do not have to do with the computer upgrade.  But, I am glad to be able to answer the questions, or at least seek out answers, when I do not know...Mostly, I am hopeful that I can help people use the electronic medical record more efficiently and effectively...

And, I will admit it, it is an ego boost for me... We all need ego boosts....


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Power Source

If you use a laptop computer, and your power cord seems to have gone out, try this:  unplug the cord from your laptop, and also from the electric socket.  Let it be unplugged for 2-3 hours minimum, and for sure, until the transformer is room temperature.

I have done that several times with the power cord for my laptop...

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I frequently go through a cold and flu season without much illness.  This year, I became ill early.  I do not use high powered medical care:  I use chicken soup, orange juice, fluids, vitamin C, and whatever over the counter product appeals to me at the time. 

One of my long time favorites is Mentholatum rub. http://www.mentholatum.com/ . I do not use it for a body rub, but I do use it under my nose to assist with breathing.

I work in a psychiatric prison, and some years ago, was assigned to an acute care ward with many patients whose behavior is bizarre:  This includes smearing feces, throwing urine and/or feces on staff, not showering, hoarding food, for a few examples.  Although some of these behaviors are monitored, to prevent or deter, the truth is, things get missed.  So, the wards where these patients live can become odoriferous quickly.  So, I brought a small container of Mentholatum to work, to help me when I needed to be in those circumstances... And, when I have a cold.

There are some creature comforts from my childhood that I still retain:  Mentholatum is one of them.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Pat Searches and Body Scans

A recent news item has to do with new security measures at airports. The Transportation Safety Agency has new scanners and pat down procedures... I went to the TSA website, and could not easily find anything on this, but there were lots of news stories about this.

I am not excited about a full body scan.  I am less excited about the pat searches... I work in a prison, and we are frequently pat searched on entry (or exit) as security measures to prevent contraband.  Those pat searches are not particularly demeaning nor intrusive.  They are done away from the main steam of traffic. And with consideration.

I am thinking that my flying days will be limited.  I have been debating about continuing the Southwest Airlines Visa card, which charges a fee, but which helps me to earn points towards free flights... If I am not interested in free flights, I can do without the credit card, and return to using Discover.

For years, I rarely flew, as I took Mack with me, and I took the time to drive where I wanted to go... Maybe it is time to return to that way of life....Hmmm.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why is my hair wavy?

I have really straight hair.   Well, I should say that most of my life, I have had really straight hair.
When I was little, my mother kept wanting me to get permanents, which was a constant topic of contention between us.  At some point, that went away.

I just wore my hair straight.  And for years, long.  But it was not thick, and frequently looked stringy...I rarely used cream rinse, just shampoo.  At age 19, I had my first grey hairs.  A friend pulled one out.  I told her to stop, because I would be bald before she was done...And, I did not put any other chemicals in it: no dyes, no tints, nothing.  A hairdresser once told me I did not just have grey hair, but blond and grey mixed with brown.  There was a time when I thought my hair was grey, but others thought I was blond.  And people asked me how I frosted it the way I did.

In the early 90's I had my hair cut in a blunt cut.  It looked thicker, and was much easier to manage.

Sometime in late 2007 or early 2008, I noticed that the hair on the back of my head was starting to wave.  I could feel it, the way it hung.  It drove me nuts.  I could not see it, but I could tell it was waving.  I changed my haircut, to a slight layering in the back, and tapered cut in the front/sides.

That helped for a while.  Now, recently, the sides are starting to wave.  Depending on how it curves, the waves look really good, or my hair sticks out really awkwardly. 

I do not get it. Why after all these years is my hair waving?


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fly Over

Autumn in West Texas is really fine.  The temperatures during the day are generally mild, with bright sun and clear crisp skies more often than not.  Lubbock is on a migration fly way, and there are lots of birds flying over head.  Particularly on the clear sky days, you can see and hear geese, and almost as often, hear, if not see, sandhill crane. 

When sandhill crane are migrating, they fly very high.  Their call is a very loud trilling sound. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Sandhill_Crane/videos. To see them is sometimes difficult. As they fly, sometimes they circle, and when they do, their aspect changes.  Sometimes as this occurs, they seem to disappear, and then reappear.  It is a magical display to see.

I love the geese and crane flyovers.  They are just breathtaking to see, and lift my heart.

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Friday, November 12, 2010


It is really bedtime... But "Oklahoma" just came on TV... The story is not so great, but the music is GREAT!  Tomorrow is Saturday... I have chores to do, but none require me to be awake at the crack of dawn... Hmm,  what harm is it to watch this movie.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Historical Novels vs. Non-Fiction

I read very little non-fiction.  Generally, I find it dry, boring, difficult to concentrate on, and generally not very interesting. 

That is not always the case, but often so...

I do enjoy historical novels, however.  These contain a certain amount of historical facts blended with fictional characters and information. So, when I read these, I am disturbed because I find it difficult to distinguish between the fictional characters and the historical facts.  And, I question how accurate are the historical facts. 

But I like the genre nevertheless.

I guess if I really wanted to know, I could do my own research....

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Daring to

I attend a mystery book club, and currently, the selection to read is made by a different member each month... This is interesting, because we get to critique or at least comment on the selection, and each selector provides a variety of offerings.  If the selector is thin skinned, it will be difficult for that person to accept any negative comments by the members of the group. Yet, we are quite a diverse group, and usually, the comments each month vary from really enjoying to really not enjoying a book.

If the selector is ego involved in the selection, this would be a very difficult if not damaging experience. But if the selector dares to just say: "I offer this for what it is worth," then there should be no ego damage involved...

But of course, we are all human, and we all want to be validated... Yet, we are all individual, so what validates each of us might be different:

Some might want to select a book that is generally well received and popular.
Some might want to select a book that is conceived of as unique.
Some might want to select a book that generates controversy and discussion.
Some might want to select a book that provides shock value.
Some might want to select a book that has a "feel good" aura

Or what have you.....

Each of us chooses a book for various reasons:
It was one I wanted to read, so I put it on the group list, so I would get to it.
It was one I have already read, and wanted to share with the group.

The reason I want to share with the group is because:
I want their reactions;
I enjoyed the book, and hope the group will, too;
I did not enjoy it and am wondering if someone can redeem the book for me.
I did not enjoy the book, and I want my negative thoughts to be validated.

Discussing the book is just a good activity: no socially involved value... Just pure intellectual exercise...

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I am a creature of routine and habit.  I have written about this before, including explaining about how I am confounded by changes in routine. 

I was thinking about that today, as I was preparing for work.  Over the years, my early morning routine has changed, yet the core remains the same:  shower, dress, preparing breakfast and snack, tending to the cats, and getting the newspaper.

Beyond that, my morning routine really varies.  I used to read the newspaper regularly...Now, I may do so, skim it, or just open it up so it lays flat when I read it in the evening.

I used to read a morning devotion, a couple of news sights and play one or two word games on the computer before I went to work.  Now, most days, I do not even get on the computer in the morning.

I used to drink coffee every morning, sometimes more than one cup.  Now, even one cup is sometimes too much caffeine for me.  Many mornings, I drink juice or soda, and if I want something hot, it is usually herb tea.

And, while I keep the core routine, the peripheries change:  when I open the windows overnight, I have to have a routine to close up the house in the morning. Or else, I have to return to the house even after I have already reached my place of employment, because I am not sure I closed up the house.

If I want to go to work early, I have to get up early, get through the basic routine, and get to work.  If I am not concerned about getting to work early, I take more time, including with the computer or newspaper.

Some mornings, the cats are wanting attention, and if I have the time, I sit and visit with one or both, depending upon their desire. Even if I want to get to work early, and a cat or two wants attention, they get some hugging and caressing...

So, as much as I have a routine, I realize I am flexible enough to allow variations depending upon the circumstances in which I find myself... I think the lesson here is that a basic routine keeps me grounded, but the variations allow my to adapt, and the flexibility keeps my life from getting stale.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day or Armistice Day

World War I:  The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month:  Armistice for World War I...

This was the war to end all wars...

But then, World War II...

Now, we celebrate Veteran's Day as November 11... Formerly Armistice Day.  We commemorate the Veterans who have served. I hope we pay them homage that is appropriate.

Our nation has become more aware of commemorating, celebrating, and just plain acknowledging the people of our nation who serve in the Armed Services.  We can not thank them enough for what they do..

One day a year is not enough... If you know a veteran, let them know how much you appreciate them...

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Hot Water

The repair technician arrived at 8 AM.  I explained the problem, with my culpability at not giving the whole past history to the technician last week... The technician today said he researched the history of the water heater, and reminded me of some problems I had that I had forgotten. He had to leave to get a part, but even with that, the repair was effected in an hour!

Wow... I am running the dishwater tonight. I hope having hot water makes the dishwater work better.  I have had some problems with unclean items, and food stuck on dishes since this situation arose...

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010



How do parents choose names for their children? Hmm.  I do not know.  I have not had any children, so I do not know...

I have had several pets over the years:

When I was seven, my family acquired a dachshund.  My parents did some research, such as it was, into a type of dog that would be good with children, since, when my oldest brother was younger, he was bitten by the dog my parents had, a spaniel poodle mix we called "Spoodles." 

We had some cats:  Red, who was a red cat, and escaped from my parents shortly after they took him to the vet for medical care.  Greysilk, who was a grey and silky cat we had for years growning up.

We adopted a dachshund.  I wanted to call him Limpy, based on a dog character in a book.  Since our new puppy did not limp, my parents convinced me a different name was in order.  We called him Wimpy.. He was a "hot dog" but the famous Wimpy of the era was from the Popeye cartoon character: "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." No hot dog, but a hamburger. 

We had other cats with exotic names that I chose...

After Wimpy, we had a Labrador cross we called Pokey.   I do not know why...

The next pet I owned was with Lisenby.  A black and white cat with a Hitler mustache.  The birth family of this cat said it was a female, and Ken wanted her to be named "Toostsie," ala the Dustin Hoffman movie of the era... Well, as is often the case with young kittens, the first identification of gender was incorrect, but we kept Tootsie's name, as it was so fitting.  He was a good cat...

Before Tootsie died, we acquired Maxwell: the dachshund terrier mix who chose us... We went to the pet store over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Maxwell chose us.  For short, we called him Mack...Why now escapes me...

Well after Mack died, the next pet was Sake:  Bob and I adopted a very furry cat whose owner's children called her "Sockie" because of her 3 brown paws, against gray fur... We changed the spelling...

When I acquired the next cat, her prior owner called her "cat."  No capital "C" even. She was not a wanted member of that family... I wanted to name her with an Oriental sounding name, to correspond with Sake. I thought about Haiku even before I saw the cat.  Haiku is a striped (lined) cat.  I think of lines and syllables re: haiku...

So, for some reason today, I was thinking about names.  About how do parents name their children.  How did I get my name?  I know that.  I also how my siblings got their names. I can say that I know how my mother, a maternal uncle, and several cousins got their names...

What do names signify: Honoring ancestors.  Perpetuating memories. Reincarnating lost loved ones. Signifying characteristics.


Monday, November 08, 2010

Hot Water

So, today I called Sears again to arrange for repair service on the water heater.   They schedule "between 8 and 5" and call you right before they are read to come by.  The person on the phone was very apologetic, and said things like the pilot light should not go out, I should not be without hot water, etc.

Well, I have not been thinking of it that way...When I start to, I think about the tent dwellers in Haiti, and I think I have nothing to complain about.

When I first shared the situation with my coworkers, one made the comment that I was saving gas... And, as I think about it, a shower from hot water in a 5 gallon bucket poured over me tells me really, just how much water I need for a shower.   Of course, what makes a shower from a bucket palatable is getting the bathroom warmed up.

I was looking on line to see if there are water saving shower heads, and there are.  But I could not find one that would shut off while you were lathering, and then, could be easily turned on when you needed rinsing. 

Well, I just am grateful that I have options.

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Sunday, November 07, 2010


One of my many remote controls was not working properly.  I groused and grumbled for a couple of days, then did the simple thing: I changed the batteries.  Isn't it amazing what a difference a fresh set of batteries makes for electronics?

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Friday, November 05, 2010


I hate changes.  I really want the status quo to prevail.

However, changes happen. 

Especially electronic changes.

At work, we have an electronic medical record.  For the past several months, preparations have been made to update the software of this application... I was honored to be invited to be a point person to help with this:   each unit was asked to designate a representative to spearhead the change, coordinate and disseminate information, and be available to help hands one, when the changed occurred.

When I was asked to do this, I was told that the sole responsibility did not rest on me:  the training coordinator would disseminate training information and track it, as that is his job.  The administrative coordinator would do administrative paperwork and tracking.  The department heads would disseminate department information, and develop departmental strategies to deal with this...

It happened that way, with a few glitches (minor) along the way... I was gratified that the administrator, and my immediate supervisor agreed with me that proactive (extensive, expensive and time consuming) measures needed to be taken in case the transition was not as short termed and smooth as we all hoped.  I have been ongoingly gratified that everyone has done their job, pitched in and made things happen the way they were supposed to.

This has required some time from me, from a couple of hours a week to many hours a week. But I have enjoyed it: I have enjoyed knowing what is going on, I have enjoyed helping people prepare for the process.

As the transition approached, anxious staff have had many questions. I have enjoyed spending time telling them what to expect and assuring them that I was available for help.  Today, a coworker thanked me for that, and said (quite correctly) sometimes help is not available.

The change happens next Sunday and Monday, if all goes well... I hope it does.  We are prepared if it does not.. 

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Maybe I Was Too Quick.....

Maybe I was too quick to apologize to Sears and sing their praises.  When I got up this morning, and tried to take a shower, I did not have hot water:  the pilot was out... Obviously, it had been out for a while, as there was no lukewarm water left....So, the problem is not fixed...

I took a shower in a bucket (heat water, put it in a bucket in the shower, and drizzle it on you. It is not as good as a hot shower, but frankly, is better than a lukewarm shower.)  I also re-lit the water heater, but when I got home from work some ten hours later, it was not lit....


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Wednesday, November 03, 2010


I love fresh, raw onions.  They are a wonderful food: they are sweet, pungent, and flavor food so marvelously... The sweetest, of course, in my opinion, are Vidalia Onions http://www.vidaliaonion.org/...

Onions are great for cooking.  Sometimes, they can add moisture to a recipe.  They certainly add flavor. 

I do not know how to cook if I do not start or include onions (most of the times.)

I love onions.


Delete Items

I am really bad about permanently deleting items from my computer mailbox.  I frequently send things to the delete box, but rarely clear out the ultimate delete box.

Last night, I was looking at both boxes: I manage two email accounts, my personal one, and the one I use for sending out emails for the local NASW branch...

My personal delete box had over 8000 emails, and the NASW one had over 3000.  That is appalling!  I set about deleting emails. My personal box has been cleaned out until October 1, 2010.  I still have over a 1000 emails in the box.  I send maybe 5-10 a day. So, I think I am getting too many emails.

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Boy Do I Owe Sears an Apology, and Am I Embarrassed

Well, I stayed home from work this morning, and waited for the Sears repairman to arrive.  Knowing how impatient I get, I planned several activities to keep me busy.  I did good until about 10:30.  Then, I started getting antsy, but I kept myself busy. 

The repairman called a little before noon, and was "five minutes away."  It is a good thing I did not wait for him at work!

He immediately saw the problem:  The water heater pilot light went out about 6 or so weeks ago, and I re-lit the light.  I know how to do this!  But, I did not turn the control from "pilot" to "on."  Duh!  I was so embarrassed. The repairman was so cool!  No big deal...The pilot light should not have gone out, he cleaned the filters, and called it warranty work (no charge!)  


Thank you!

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Sears, Roebuck and Company

When I was a child, Sears, Roebuck and Company was a wonderful store, where one could obtain "everything" either from the store, or by ordering in the catalogue...Our local store was a favorite, and in the Christmas season, their toy exhibit was just amazing: so many things to watch and see.  It was magical!

When we went to Boston, sometimes we went to the Sears, Roebuck and Company store to buy something special.

As the years progressed, things changed, but the reputation of Sears appliances and other products, including Craftsman tools, did not.  Until in the 1980s. I personally noticed some decline with product, service and repair...

In 2005, Sears merged with KMart, and my opinion is that there was further decline.

But, what can I say... We purchased a lawn mower from Sears in 1984, and it lasted until 2006.  I think I got my money's worth...So, when I bought a new lawnmower, I went to Sears... I was actually very pleased, because the mower had the easy start feature that the 1984 mower had. The sales representative even told that the model I was looking at was good, but had many more features than the mower I was replacing, and if I was happy with my current mower, I could buy a mower that cost about $75 less. So, I did.  And, I have had no complaints about the mower.

Sometime in the mid 1990s, I purchased a water heater from Sears.  When it went out in 2007, it was out of warranty, but I considered that not to be an issue: the water in Lubbock is very hard, and a water heater that lasts about 10 years is a good buy.  So, I went to Sears again.  I purchased the water heater on a Sunday and it was installed the next day.  I was not particularly impressed with the plumber who did the installation.

That same year, a few months later, I had trouble with the water heater:  the pilot light would not stay lit...I waited 12 days for the appointment with the repair technician.  He was rude and insolent.  After he did the repairs, I went to work, and when I got home that night, I realized I had a gas leak... Sears was able to get another technician out a few days later. He was personable, informative, and helpful... He "saved" Sears for me. After he repaired the water heater, and replaced the sensor that controlled the pilot light, he asked me not to go to work right away. He asked me to stay home for 2-3 hours, and check for gas leaks.  And, he gave me his direct number to call, in case there was a gas leak, so he could return the same day and fix it....

This gentleman also explained to me that Sears had lost a couple of service technicians in Lubbock, and technicians were being sent in from other areas to help, hence the delays in getting repairs done.

Fast forward.   I realize now that for the past several weeks, when I take a shower, I have not needed to use the cold water. During the heat of the summer, that was not an issue... But, I really did not pay attention to that until I went out of town at the beginning of October, and got good hot showers in the hotel. 

So, I turned up the thermostat.  It did not help... I turned up the thermostat again.  And finally, I realized that I was not getting hotter water...I have been using a space heater to help warm up the shower. But the water is still just lukewarm.

I called 11/1/10 to get repair service set up... The phone representative was wonderful, but of course, out of his control was the scheduling process:  the appointment is between 8 AM and 5 PM.  They will call aobut 30 minutes before they arrive...

This creates a problem:  I can not sit in my office and wait for a call.  Even if I tried to do that, because of trying ot get out of the prison and home could take me 15 minutes or more than 30.  And, if I was trying to do work, there are so many scenarios that would prevent me from getting the call from the technician.  I did not want to risk missing the repair technician. I have plenty of leave.  So, I have arranged to be off as much or all of the day, as needed, so hopefully, I can get the hot water heater repaired.  

The jury is out.  We shall see how this repair project goes....

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Monday, November 01, 2010

The Danger of Ebilling

I recently experienced an outage of  internet service for my computer  from Suddenlink http://www.suddenlink.com/.  It was a simple fix: Suddenlink had updated their services, and my 8 year old modem could not accomodate their new signals. (I was not happy about this, but I understand.)

When I called in about my problem, Suddenlink "graciously" scheduled a visit by a technician (the first available appointment was 4 days in the future, but not compatible with my schedule, so I waited 5 days.) The technician walked in and saw the codes on my modem and diagnosed the problem:  I bought a new modem that night and was in business.

In a customer satisfaction survey, I explained my complaint that the phone technician could have told me the same information about my modem as the in home technician did, as all he did was look at the modem numbers...Suddenlink actually acknowledged this as something they could offer customers, and did agree to credit my bill the $6 I paid for service I did not get.

Well, in the process, I was without internet service for 6 days, on my secure network.. I did go to some public wifi sites and access things, but did not want to do bill pay, etc on non-secure lines.  So, what if I needed to bill pay or whatever while I did not have secure service?  

I am so much more sure that I want paper financial documents vs. all einteraction. 



Right now, thermostats play an interesting role in my life.

I have a programmable thermostat for the central heating/cooling system in my house. Although I had thought about doing this for years, I did not... What a mistake...I finally did this in the last couple of years.

During the summer, the temperature in my house does not vary by but a few degrees, but in the winter, there is about a 5 degree variance in the at home comfort zone, and away or asleep settings... Last winter, I saved about $20 a month...

Last winter paid for about half of the purchase and installation cost of the programmable thermostat.  Had I been brave, I might could have installed it myself...

Those of you who knew me in 2007 knew that I had to replace a water heater... And the same year I replaced it, I had to have it worked on, not once but twice:  the pilot light would not stay lit, and the electronic ignition switch also needed to be replaced.  The second time it was repaired (by Sears, on warranty, after waiting 12 days for a repair technician) I got good service, and good information.  Among other things, the first time it was repaired, the repair technician did not seal the connections well, and I ended up with a gas leak....  The second repair technician asked me to stay home after the repairs for a few hours, and call him directly if I detected gas... Wow, what a difference in service attitude.

So, sometime a few weeks ago, I am not sure when, my morning showers became lukewarm.  During the heat of the summer, this was not a problem.  I did not even think about it until I went  out of town early in October, and returned home to lukewarm showers.  So, I turned up  the thermostat.  And hoped for better.  But, still, did not think about it...

Until the weather got colder, and I am now having to warm the bathroom before I take a shower, and the lukewarm shower is not very pleasant.  So, I called Sears about the problem:  the water heater is new enough that parts are under warranty, but labor... And they could not give me a time for service repair except between 8 AM and 5 PM.   At some other job, I could imagine myself available if the technician called me and said I will be there in 30 minutes. The hospital/prison setting is a little more difficult to be able to do that. So, I am taking Wednesday, 11/3/10 off, unless the service technician arrives early enough in the day, so I can go to work.

What makes this even trickier, is due to computer upgrades, the electronic medical record at work goes down Friday noon.  So, I have to have chart reviews for Tuesday's treatment team done by then, or preferably, by Thursday PM....   Hmmm,   the logistics will be interesting, but doable. 

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