Friday, August 29, 2008

Wow, What A Speech!

I managed to catch Sen. Obama's speech last night at the DNC in between trips to the master bathroom to check on the puppies and Kona. By the way, if there are any typos in this or any other entry today, blame the dogs - for some reason Kona decided to become neurotic last night, and I only managed to get an hour or two of sleep.

Anyway, what Obama said blew me away. After years of hearing lukewarm political speeches that were big on sound but little on fury, this guy talked in a way that reminded me of video clips I have seen of JFK, MLK, FDR, and other famous people who are known by their initials! It was wonderful, and I agree with others who have said that this is the kind of speech will be talking about for years to come. You can read the full text of the speech here.

I hope he gets elected, if for no other reason that it will be nice to have a president who speaks in complete and grammatically correct sentences! Actually, there are plenty of reasons I have to want him to become president, but I confess that's a major one.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Hour

until I go home. And man, it can not get here soon enough! Today has been a rough one. I can't go into details, but I'm having fantasies of escaping to far away places where all I hear are the waves and sea birds. Maybe I'll pick up one of those relaxation CDs of ocean sounds at some point.

One Ring and her brother are on their way down to their parents' house. Their mom's retirement is this weekend. So Barney went to the kennel and I've got Kona and the puppies until Saturday afternoon. Just a pirate bachelor for the weekend. Me and 9 dogs. Sigh!

At any rate, I'm tired, and I still have some chart notes to enter. Then it's home, dinner, and crashing. I'm hoping to watch Obama do his thing tonight, but I don't know if I'll make it.

Too brain dead to write more. So have a good one.


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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Latest Puppy Pics!

One Ring and I took a break from watching the DNC tonight to take head and profile pictures of all the puppies. They're so much bigger than they were just nine days ago. They've almost doubled! We've given names to them, mostly based on their markings. We figure that's no big deal; their new owners will give them good names, I'm sure.

At any rate, without further ado, I give you ... the pups!

This is Rorshach, so named because of the markings on her back.

This little girl is temporarily named Patch.

This little boy is named Othello, after the game, and not the Shakespeare play.

We're calling this little girl Domino for the time being.

We just changed this female's name to Panda, due to her eye markings. She was named Rogue, after the X-Men comic book character. Panda's a mutant, you see - she has 6 toes on each of her rear paws!

This little boy is bearing the temporary name of Hogan, after Hogan's Heroes (and most certainly NOT the professional wrestler!). He's the escape artist who likes to go over the wall of the whelping box / baby pen.

This little boy is named Jester, if only because we're running out of names on our list!

And the final puppy to show was the first one born. May I present ... Prima (Yeah, we ran out of names)!

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About that Meez Pic ...

Yeah, the one with my avatar dressed like a pirate and swinging a sword spastically. Don't worry. I know it looks dorky. I just have to wait until I get home to fix it.

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It's Tuesday, So There's Little to Cheer About

Not a fan of Tuesdays. Day rolls slowly along, and the weekend's too far away to anticipate. So I'm sort of in a blah, plodding through the day kind of mood.

It doesn't help that it seems like I'm being constantly barraged with new duties and responsibilities. I've got 5 patients to look over now and a sixth on the way. Considering that I've only been doing this for two weeks or so, this feels rather overwhelming. By the time vacation comes around (in a month and a half!), I'll be more than ready for it.

I watched some of the DNC last night. I was really impressed by Michelle Obama's speech, and thought that the two daughters fighting over the microphone was the most adorable thing I've seen in a long time. Plus it was probably the only unscripted part of the event, which made it pretty much perfect. I know I'm cynical, but when I hear a speech, then watch as the camera zooms in on a delegate who has tears in her eyes, I wonder if that person would feel the same way if she knew that everything that happens there, everything that is said, is carefully choreographed to produce emotional responses. Yeah, I can be a jerk about stuff like that. And as One Ring constantly says, "Could you please just leave a tender moment alone?"

In other news, I'm taking a very quick trip home to Virginia Beach on Friday of next week. Just a weekend jaunt to see my mother and family. I haven't seen them since March, I think, and what with my mother's health scare a few weeks back, I felt that I really needed to go. I couldn't get any decent (as in: cheap) flights for this weekend, so I have to take a half day off on Friday. No major loss, but a slight dip in pay.

One of my side missions, along with trying to see Boo, Pooh, and Tigger, is to head out with Sharkbait and get some pirate-y decorations for my office. It's rather sparse here. Only thing that's even remotely interesting is a sign I put up that has "Calico" Jack Rackham's flag (the one at the top of this blog), and the words "The beatings will continue until morale improves." I gave all my pirate ships from the card game that I used to play (no one here to play with, and I was playing the online version, anyway) to Whirling Dervish's boys, so I don't even have The Black Pearl to sit on my desk. Sob! Sharkbait said that he'd try to set me up with one, though. We'll see.

Okay, lunch is over, which means that as of right now, there's 3 hours, 40 minutes left in the day. Now I just have to make sure all my ducks are in a row regarding my work, do some extra studying, and hopefully the day will go quickly.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Caffeine IV. STAT!

Caffeine has really taken over my life. So much so that when I hear of religions that ban its use - such as Mormonism - I just laugh. In fact, I once used that reason as a way of getting some missionaries to move along. "I'm sorry guys, but your faith doesn't allow me what I need to make it through the morning! Now get the heck off my porch!"

Ever since Kona had her puppies, I've been spending most nights on the couch. This is by choice, mind you, and not because One Ring is angry at me! But when you're 5'11" and there is only about 5' of sleeping space, healthy rest is not always in the cards. Not without a background in yoga, anyway.

So I'm tired this morning, drinking my second cup of the day while trying to figure out just who I am, what I need to do to make it through the day, and how I'm goign to keep my sanity. Not an easy thing to attempt, which is why I would like to see caffeine IVs offered to all employees. Or maybe a patch, for those (like me) who aren't too keen on needles. I told this to a nurse with whom I used to work, only to have her look at me as if I had sprouted an extra head. But soon after, on really rough days, we would pass in the hallway and I'd call out in my best ER voice, "Caffeine IV. Full bore. STAT!" It would get a few laughs, and sometimes a free cup of coffee from the closely guarded nurse coffee pot.

Now that I work mostly with retired military folk, the coffee pot is a little scarier. Depending on who made it, it's somewhere between the consistency of water and the Labrea Tar Pits. There's a coffee shop a short walk from here that the VA maintains, but, again, depending on who is manning the machines, the quality is variable. A few of my coworkers have asked me to bring in my espresso machine so that they can get free lattes, but I'd rather not do all that work. If I win the lottery or something I'd buy one for the office, but until that happens, I'm not going back to my barrista ways.

Speaking of which, One Ring and I went back to the evil bookstore where I used to work. As usual, there were only one or two employees that I remember from my time there - now two years into the past. It was an interesting experience, in that I realized just how far I've come, and how much my life has improved over the last few years. I told One Ring that I am finally starting to calm down and de-stress now that I have a job that can become a career. Not having to wonder what's going to happen when a year-long residency ends is a huge relief. And after two of them, plus a few years filled with part time jobs that I knew weren't going to last long, I'm really grateful to just rest where I am.

Okay, I really got to get to work. I'll write more later. Promise.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Two Hours Left, and Then I Celebrate Pay Day!

Much to my surprise, the VA actually processed my new paycheck correctly. Even more surprising, there was an additional sum deposited to my account for the vacation time I never used while working as a chaplain! So today I'm experiencing a very unusual situation - a sudden increase in income. What else is there to do besides go out and live like a pirate!

Well, kinda like a pirate, I guess. One Ring may be okay with the wine (or rum!) and song, but she frowns at the "women" part of pirate celebration! Still, we're going out to dinner tonight, and then maybe this weekend we'll go shopping for some nicer clothes than the ones I've been passing off as "work attire." No one's complained, but still, it's time to retire some of those outfits.

It's boring now, here at work. The patients are watching a movie, and while there's always paperwork that I could be attacking, I'm suffering from a case of the Fridays. The lack of sleep that One Ring and I have been experiencing due to puppy care hasn't helped much, either. So the notion of writing chart notes, or taking online continuing education thingies(20 hours of the things!), is coming close to driving me to mutiny!

Which reminds me ... I'm getting back in the pirate frame of mind. Must be the weather, the prospect of vacation coming up (less than two months!), or feeling constrained by a system that squashes independent thought (but pays the bills). At any rate, now that I finally have an office of my own, I'm considering decorating it in a theme proper of the man who occupies it. This should be fun!

Alright, time to hit that pesky paperwork. Sigh!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Greetings from the New Job

Been here two weeks, and this is just about the first time I've had a chance to blog. Yeah, they've kept me that busy. Which is a good thing, since I really hate long periods of down time. Especially since that keep me in this one building and I can't run over to the snack shop like I used to when I got bored. Of course, that's good for my waistline, so I suppose I should be happy about that.

What I'm really happy about is that tomorrow is pay day. But I digress. A lot's been going on in the world and you know I can't keep from commenting on it!

First up, a confession.

I know I said that I was boycotting the Olympics, based largely on China's massive amount of violations of human rights, their oppression of the people in Tibet, and their participation and support of the regime in Sudan. Well, that lasted until Michael Phelps started racking up the medals. I watched him swim his last couple of races. The boycot went out the window. Not that my refusal to watch the games had any effect on China's policies. It was more of a way of stating that I thought that the IOC never should have allowed China to have the games in the first place and that everyone else should not support China as well. I don't think the president should have attended, nor should the other heads of state who showed up. And I think that China's antics - such as refusing every protest application they've received - show that they aren't interested in changing their tune.

But you've already read the news reports on all that, so you certainly don't need me chiming in!

In other news, the puppies are doing well. At some point, maybe this weekend, One Ring and I are going to take pictures of each individual puppy. I'll post them and any other pics up here. She's been taking some more shots of Kona - who's slimmed down quite a bit! - so I may post those as well.

I never knew how convoluted this job could be! So many details to keep track of, and so little brain power to do it (referring to my own noggin!). Things are getting easier, but only at a very gradual pace. Plus the patients still think I'm a chaplain, even though I've been introducing the new chaplain - who happens to be Whirling Dervish! - to everyone. Yeah, it's going to be cool to be working with The Derv for another year!

Let's see, what else. I'm missed my 20th reunion due to financial and puppy crises that this summer brought. There are a few friends I wish I could have seen, but to be honest, I couldn't remember three quarters of the names on the student roster! I did send in my information to the directory committee, so maybe that will help me get back in touch with the old crew.

There's other stuff - such as going to see Wall-E and Star Wars: The Clone Wars - but I'll leave that for later. Now that I have a routine that I'm settling into, I hope that I'll be able to post more!

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

More Pictures

For some reason, I was having trouble uploading tonight's photos of the puppies in one post. So I figured I'd try again. Just a few more, then I'm calling it a night.

This was Kona's first puppy. Note the latex gloves One Ring is wearing. I hope now people believe me when I say that she converted our bathroom into a labor and delivery unit!

Dog pile! At this point, only five pups had arrived. There would be three more before the day was done. The last two were mere minutes apart. I guess word had spread as to how great things were on the outside. Either that, or Kona had really had enough of all that pushing and shoving going on inside of her!

And here's Kona taking a break and nursing her babies. Right now she's asleep. We were able to get her away from the kids long enough to walk and feed her. But then it was back to being a mommy. Poor thing.

Well, that's all from here. More tomorrow from doggie central!

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There Are Now Ten Dogs in My House!

One Ring and I are now officially crazy dog people. Kona had her puppies - all 8 of them - and Barney the Dog of Destruction had his neurotic breakdowns (and attempted to eat the remote control as a way of getting back at us. Here are the pictures. Next up for us: a trip to the vet to make sure that all the puppies have been born and that none are still lurking inside. Sadly, that does happen from time to time when a dog has large litters.

Here are the promised pictures!
Here Kona's in her whelping box. You can see how large the poor thing is! Fortunately, she's much more comfortable now.

More tomorrow. One Ring and I are pretty tired at this point!

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Kona's Puppies Are on the Way!

When we got home from church and having lunch with some friends, we found Kona to be crying and in apparent distress. We took her outside, and she tried to hide under the shed, so I brought her back inside to the bathroom that we converted into a birthing area. So far she's given birth to a girl. Only 6-8 more puppies to go! I tossed the camera to One Ring as she went into midwife vet mode, so hopefully we'll get some pics up soon.

In case you're wondering, I'm out here in the living room with Barney the Dog of Destruction. He's very upset and we want to keep him as far away from Kona as possible. I'm also running supplies back and forth to the birthing room. So keep all comments about my laziness to a minimum! : )

More later.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pregnant Puppy Dog!

I spent yesterday in Nashville training for my new job. As a result, there's not much to report. So instead I figured I'd post a picture of Kona, showing how the poor girl is about to explode! I just hope that the puppies are all healthy.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

And the Results Are ... Nothing!

My mother just called with the results of the latest series of MRI scans for her aneurysm. After dealing with the possibility of surgery and impending death for over a week, she finally got word that she has ... nothing.

Yep, that's right. Nothing. Not a damn thing. Apparently, what one radiologist thought was an aneurysm was actually a normal something or other. So we're feeling relieved beyond measure here. However, even though she's happy that she'll get to see her grandchildren grow she's also pissed as all get out for the fear that she's had to deal with for the past week or so. At first she was considering some sort of vengeful letter writing campaign - she's like that. But now I think I calmed her down enough simply to accept the fact that situations like this are why people need to ask for second and sometimes third opinions.

She's got the rest of the day off, so hopefully she'll pamper herself as life returns to some semblance of normalcy.

As for me, I'm breathing a sigh of relief and trying to get my mind refocused on my work.

Thanks to everyone who kept my mother in their thoughts, prayers, and meditations. Even though my faith is really shaky on issues of divine intervention - I've seen too much to believe that the Divine intervenes in our personal lives and alters the reality that we face - it does give me a great deal of comfort to have so many people ask about her and let me know that they were praying for her. And that comfort helps me also to realize that maybe prayer does something after all.

But that's way too theological for this time of the morning. My mother doesn't have an aneurysm, and that's all I need to know for now. Huzzah! : )

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Friday, August 8, 2008

You Know You're Part of the Gang When ...

Yesterday I started helping out with one of the least pleasant parts of the job - patient urine screenings. I was traumatized by an event that, for the sake of the faint of heart and tender of stomach, will go undescribed. Well, my new colleagues could not let news of that event go, so today I was given a very special gift. Apparently, hazing of the new guy has officially begun.

For the record, I'm assured that this is meant to be a paper weight, and the liquid is mere tap water with food coloring added for effect. I'm not opening it to check! Oh, and SATP stands for "Substance Abuse Treatment Program."

For the morning, I'm reading up on mental disorders and addictions. Caffeine intake has been relatively low, and I forgot my travel mug. The Styrofoam cups here resemble shot glasses in size, which I find odd considering this is a building filled with caffeine addicts. So I'm fighting to stay awake. I need to be on the ball to handle the intake of a new patient today. My first intake! I'm so excited. Or I would be, if I did not seem to resemble the narcoleptic Argentinian from the movie Moulin Rouge!

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

At Least the Coffee's Free Here

Day 2 at the new job. I'm still feeling confused as to just what I'm supposed to be doing and when I'm supposed to be doing it. Right now I'm waiting to observe another group session, and then I'll probably sit in and be trained on how to chart notes and do technical stuff until lunch. I told the powers that be here that I'd be happy to do spiritual assessments until we have a new chaplain appointed to my old position. But other than that, I really can't do chaplain work. Not my choice, really. There's a new policy that states that all religious issues must be passed on to chaplain services. Personally, I think that's a good thing, but since there isn't a chaplain at the moment, it does feel weird to say, "Sorry, can't do that anymore."

I went over and checked in on Whirling Dervish to see what's going on with him. Again, it felt weird to sit in his office, knowing that I had to race back to my new department before I was missed. Not used to this level of supervision. We're supposed to have lunch together, which will be nice.

Guess I'm just not having a hard time adjusting to new things. Plus I'm exhausted. Kona is having a rough time - she's a couple of weeks away from popping out a bunch of puppies, so she doesn't feel all that great. So she spent most of the night whining and walking about. I finally ended up on the couch with her curled up at my side. Guess she found that reassuring.

Okay, I've just had people give me things to do. Whatever happened to the dream of getting paid just for being me? : )

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I just passed the 6,000 hit mark! Thanks, everyone!

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New Job, and an Update on My Mother

First off, my mother really feels comfortable with her neurosurgeon, which is a good thing. She comes from the old school, so if she doesn't like a doctor, she probably won't do a thing he or she suggests. But, as luck would have it, she does like him, and is following his instructions. Which consist of, in case you're interested, more tests and waiting.

Today she's having another CAT scan, this time with a dye that will make her ill with severe headaches. But the doctor says that will give him enough information to know exactly what to do. Thing is, unlike my mother's other physician, this doctor isn't entirely convinced that what he's looking at is a aneurysm. So he wants one more set of pictures before he decides a course of action.

And that makes us all very happy. Nothing is worse than a surgeon with a God complex and a compulsion to operate unnecessarily!

So now we're in the waiting game and trying to keep our sanity. The family seems to be holding up okay. I would have headed out there this past weekend, but, as I mentioned earlier, I was under strict orders not to show up until surgery or a medical emergency was occuring. Fun, fun.

Meanwhile, I started my new job today, and am spending the morning following people around, filling out paperwork, and trying to convince patients that I'm no longer the chaplain, but instead am now a "readjustment counselor" or "addiction therapist." Turns out both titles mean the same thing. Go fig. They tell me I'll be up and running the show in a couple of weeks, but let me tell you - right now it's overwhelming! Lots of data entry into medical charts. Sure I've done that before, but no one really cared what or in what format a chaplain wrote. Now I have to have everything exactly right or I get a phone call from someone at headquarters. I'm going to start looking for stress relief activities that I can do during my off hours. I have a feeling I'll need them!

Okay, time to go back to HR and see if I can get my id badge made (again). Fortunately, they've realized I'm the same person who was working here last week, so they won't make me go through the whole fingerprinting / background check stuff again!

They did list my hair color as "grey," though. Weeping and gnashing of teeth followed.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

I Am Such A Geek!

One of my odd quirks is that, during times of stress and anxiety, I often find comfort in returning to the interests and hobbies of my youth. So, when my birthday rolled around last week, and news of my mother's health crisis arrived at the same time that Sharkbait sent me a gift certificate to Target, I went nuts.

Nuts a'la Star Wars.

Yep, I broke down and bought the Ultimate Lightsaber kit that Hasbro has put out. Not too shabby, although it is clearly a toy and not a "collectable" lightsaber like the Master Replica series or the $300 custom types I've seen online. But I'm having fun building different style sabers and chasing the dogs around - and yes, they have that coming! I'm also planning on ordering some colored discs from The Custom Saber Shop. I found that by putting all of the colored plastic "crystals" in the saber, it gives off a white light. If I throw a colored disc on top of that, I should be able to get the yellow or orange color that I prefer. And if it doesn't work, oh well, the discs only cost $1.00 plus S&H for a pack of eleven.
The movie comes out on the 15th. Whirling Dervish, his family, and I (and possibly One Ring if I tie her up and force her to go) may see it on the 16th. I told him how sad it was that he wouldn't be able to expose his children to the craziness that is a Star Wars movie opening night, but being that this is an animated film, it may not draw the costumed crazies that I saw when Episode III came out. We'll see.
In other news, I talked to my mother yesterday. She said that she had heard great things about the neurosurgeon that she'll be meeting with tomorrow. I'll post the news about that meeting as soon as I get it. Again, I appreciate everyone's thoughts, prayers, and meditations while my family struggles with this new and frightening situation.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Update on My Mother

Last night my mother called with the results for her MRIs. Turns out she has a small aneurysm located somewhere in her right hemisphere. She goes Monday to the neurosurgeon to see about her options. Fortunately, my sister is going with her, and I've advised them to take a recorder along just in case things get confusing and emotional. Which I'm sure they will be.

I've been ordered by my mother to stay in Nashville until they get word on what will be done. Needless to say, I'm not happy about that at all. Still, I'd rather obey her wishes than get her upset by showing up unannounced on her doorstep. She likes to be obeyed like that.

For some weird reason, she decided to go in to work today. I told her that was crazy, to go to the place that gives her the most stress while she has this freaking time bomb in her head. But she said that it was better than just sitting around and moping about it. I'm not sure I agree.

But that's the latest. I'd appreciate it if everyone would continue to keep her in your thoughts, prayers, and meditations.

As for me, today's my last day as a chaplain. I'm cleaning out my desk as I write this. Also need to remember to wipe all the documents I saved to this hard drive. Nothing incriminating, of course, but I'd like to leave a cleaner workspace than I inherited.

And it keeps my mind off of things, too.

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