Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Well, Here We Go ...

Our vacation was wonderful, and now I'm paying for it (literally and figuratively!) with a backload of work. I'll try to post some pictures later on.

Just taught a class on the dangers of an enlarged ego in terms of addiction relapse. Hopefully my patients got something out of it; I can never be sure if these things are helpful or not. Seems like the patients I believe are getting it often relapse and the ones I thought weren't paying attention do well sometimes. And since we're talking a relapse rate of roughly 80% for people in their first attempt in recovery, it's pretty much a crap shoot. Sad, but true.

Work is slowing down today, due to the holiday, but the first two days of this week were crazy as all get out. I'm hoping and praying that today continues to go well. Maybe I can get caught up on my holiday emails and stuff. Tonight's going to be packed, with One Ring and I conducting the Christmas Eve service at our church, then dinner with the inlaws. I still haven't wrapped her presents! I just talked with her on the phone, and told her that I really need one more day of prep time. I don't know how, but Christmas has once again snuck up on me. Weird, considering that it's the same day every year!

Well, posts will probably continue to be sporadic as the holidays move on through. I should be starting guitar lessons after Christmas, and I'm trying to save enough to purchase an electric guitar in the near future. Right now I'm still using Drink Man's Epiphone Studio model along with my grandfather's acoustic to practice. I've managed to butcher Good King Wenceslas and a couple of other songs. Hopefully I'll be able to play without scaring the dogs before too long!

That's all from here for now. I hope everyone has a joyous holiday season.

Peace out.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Countdown 'til Freedom

In exactly one hour and thirty-nine minutes, I will be leaving this place to take a much needed five day vacation. That's right, One Ring and I are hitting the road again, and this time, any interruption will be met with deadly force. We're that serious!

One Ring finished her papers on Friday, and I accomplished the impossible by preaching in a church without it (or me) bursting into flames. Strangely, Governor Sarah Palin's Church did. Very ironic. So after all the angst and trauma accompanying those events - as well as the usual work and life stress - we are bailing on reality and heading off.

In other news, I seem to have acquired a stalker. Good news is that this stalking has only taken place online, and has yet to break into the real world. I just checked, and there are ten people listed in the state of TN who bear my name or a close proximity thereof, so even if the individual in question managed to get that far, hopefully they won't be able to find my front doorstep. Still, this event has caused me to reconsider my online presence. Should I continue blogging, or should I try to remove references to me that can be found on the net? Is it even worth it to try?

In case you're wondering, yes, I do know who this stalker is, and yes, it's a person who was once connected to my family. And no, there can be no reconciliation or even reasoning with this individual, as there are not enough years of life left to accomplish the amount of therapy necessary for normalized behavior. The last time I went through this, I was in graduate school. It was 14 years ago, and it really messed with my head. Now I'm obviously a mature professional, but it's still more than a little on the unnerving side.

So now I have yet another good reason to head off on vacation. Barney and Kona are already in the kennel, the bags are mostly packed, and the tickets are standing ready. The only thing left is for me to complete the paperwork and get our tails to the airport in the morning. Hopefully when I get back, the world will be a little bit better. At least Christmas will be closer. All my Christmas shopping is done, except for One Ring's stocking stuffers. So my stress level in that department is relatively low.

One hour, twenty-two minutes and counting ...

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Well, it's that time again. Roughly an hour and a half until I get to flee the premises. I only have a little bit of paperwork to do, but the day has had just enough odd things happen to make me feel grumpy. I now have my office door shut and am trying to drum up the umph needed to finish what needs to be done.

Part of the problem is that if my door is open, my patients feel that I'm waiting for them to come in and talk to me. So when I'm up to my eyeballs in chart notes, or even on the phone, usually what happens is that someone just waltzes on it, plops down in one of my chairs, and then sighs loudly until I address his or her (usually) minor problem. Makes it hard to be sympathetic, or more importantly, empathetic. Basically I just want to call them pathetic and leave it at that.

Meanwhile, Drink Man is arguing with other people who work over here at the VA, and the walls are very thin. Not that I don't disagree with his positions necesarily; I just want some peace and quiet.

Sigh. Well, One Ring called and has been appraised of the situation. Hopefully she understands if I'm not the happiest camper by the time I get home. Or hopefullly the chocolate cookies I purchased will have the desired effect on my mood. In the meantime, though, these chart notes aren't going to write themselves.


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Hi, Remember Me?

Didn't think so. Life's been so insanely busy lately, there have been times when I've almost forgotten who I was and what I'm supposed to be doing! Of course, I just blame the ADD and keep on going.

So here's the update: One Ring is down to her final paper for the semester. It's due on Thursday, so I don't really expect to see her much until then. I've been locking myself in the spare bedroom (otherwise known as "my play room"), where I've been hammering away on Drink Man's electric guitar. I was supposed to give it back to him last week, but he's been busy with a new puppy (no, not one of ours; he bought an - get this - Irish Wolfhound!). So I'm hanging onto it as long as I can. Last night I worked on chords, playing "Kumbaya" (which I am beginning to hate!) and the first part of John Lennon's Happy Xmas (War is Over) . Needless to say, my rendition of the latter doesn't sound anything like the song that Lennon wrote!

Meanwhile, One Ring and I are getting ready for a brief trip to Florida with her family. I'd normally be looking forward to it, but I've been too busy to even notice that the time is rapidly approaching. Which is a shame, because normally I like anticipating vacations - even short ones.

Christmas is going to be spent in TN this year. It will be the first Christmas I've ever spent away from my family, so I'm expecting some odd emotional moments. Granted, I'm 38, so it shouldn't mean anything, but who knows. The good news is that this will be the first Christmas where One Ring and I do not have to travel anywhere! Why? Well, I have to work the 24th and 26th and One Ring and I were drafted into working on the Christmas Eve service, since the Pastor of our church is currently recovering from hip surgery. Personally I think she planned it this way - Lord knows I would if I were in her shoes, but that's just me.

Short story is that I'm staying at home with One Ring and the dogs this Christmas. Everyone else has to visit us. Yay!

Okay, it's almost time for lunch. Hopefully today will not be like yesterday and I'll get to blog more as the day progresses.


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Friday, December 5, 2008

Attention Pirates. You're Pathetic!

I've commented before on the general lameness of the current bunch of pirates who are roaming the waters off Somalia. They've abandoned the hit and run tactics that made the careers of Calico Jack Rackman, Black Bart Roberts, and Blackbeard. Instead, this new breed seems to like taking hostages and holding onto the ships until insurance companies pay up. Take, for example, the case of the MV Faina, the Ukranian cargo ship that is carrying military equipment such as tanks, missle launchers, and machine guns. Pirates have been sitting on that ship for over two months now, and have lowered their initial demand of $35 million a number of times.

Meanwhile a pirate "mother ship" was sunk by the Indian Navy. I didn't even know they had one!

But this week's news has brought word that piracy has truly become sad and pathetic. 2 small boats attempted to hijack a cruise ship off the coast of Yemen this past weekend. The cruise ship OUTRAN the boats!

Let me say that again. The pirate attack craft were outrun by a cruise ship. You can read about it here.

Captain Kidd is rolling in his grave!

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Coming In From the Cold

Yeah, it's cold here today. Fortunately they finally seem to have the heat in my office set to something resembling a normal temperature. Usually I'm either sweating buckets or feeling chilled. Of course, my office door, which is usually open, is right across from the main door. So I get a blast of cold air whenever someone comes in or goes out.

A lot has happened in the past week or so, and work continues to be busy. As a result, the posts are coming a lot less frequently than I would like. Usually I see something and think, "That would make a good post!" But lately, by the time I can actually get to my computer, the topic is no longer relevant. So what I'm left with is having to do these weekly catch up posts.

So here we go.

So far One Ring and I have weathered the economic storm that has hit these parts. I asked my boss, and my boss's boss, about some changes that have been proposed for the substance abuse program. Basically, my position was going to be eliminated, but I'd have the "opportunity" to apply for the slot that was going to replace it. Panic followed, but I have been told that I am "safe." Mind you, I didn't get that in writing, so they can always go back and change their minds. But for now, I'm not sweating it.

The big news - aside from the fact that I'm still getting a paycheck - is that I inherited my grandfather's guitar while I was in Virginia for the Thanksgiving holiday. My grandfather died in 1991, but the guitar floated around my family, passing from my mother to my brother (Sharkbait wanted to get it fixed up, but couldn't afford it and really wasn't interested in learning how to play). Now it's in my possession.

This guitar and I have a long history. Back around 1986, my grandfather called my mother and asked her that if he fixed up the guitar and paid for lessons, would I be interested in playing? She forwarded the request to me, and I responded - like an idiot, I might add - "Is it electric?" I turned my grandfather down when I found out that it was an acoustic. For the next 22 years, and especially following his death from cancer, I have regretted this decision. But time and other issues pushed this to the background.

Cut to 2008. Drink Man, the coworker who has the office next to me (one day I'll get around to explaining why he's being referred to here as Drink Man) has a side interest in songwriting. He and I have been talking music for a while and I told him the story of the guitar. He commented that it was never too late to learn, and that got me thinking ...

So I picked up the guitar last week and had it restrung on Monday. Turns out it's over 50 years old! It's an Airline acoustic, manufactured by some company - Harmony, I think the guys at the shop said - for Montgomery Wards. Not too many of them left in the world, since they were meant to be inexpensive beginner guitars. Most have ended up broken or left to rot. My grandfather's guitar, according to the guitar shop gurus, made it through the years with flying colors.

So now I'm sitting with an antique, and about to start lessons. I found what appears to be a good place yesterday. Very affordable, close to home, that sort of thing. Just have to wait for the holidays to pass before I can start serious learning. Until then, I have DVDs coming in from Netflix, and books from the public library ... and some very frightened dogs, who don't appreciate good music when they hear it! : )

Right now I'm listening to Rush (Snakes and Arrows, in case you're curious), and daydreaming of perhaps someday being able to play like Alex Lifeson. Which, interestingly enough (or not), was the same dream I had when I was 16. Power Windows was their latest then, and the song Big Money blew me away. And I won't even go into my desire to learn YYZ! I own Guitar Hero II, which has it as a bonus song. Even in the game, it's next to impossible to play - for me at lest - so no doubt it will be a long time before I can rock out to that one.

Of course, I had to promise my mother - man, now I'm sounding like I'm 16! - that I wouldn't go all metal on my grandfather's guitar. Never even thought of doing that, of course. So that brings me to my next big expenditure, and One Ring's new migraine: buying an electric and amp.

All in good time. Drink Man and I have been discussing the pros and cons of various guitars and songs to learn - he's apparently against learning Rush and thinks newer stuff is better. Not that it matters; I can't even play "Mary Had A Little Lamb" yet!

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