Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Holy COW! I knew hockey fights were popular, but I never in my wildest dreams expected this!

There was a major brouhaha at last Sunday's Phantoms game. The Binghamton Senators were in town, and they were leading 4-1 with 3:50 remaining in the game when all chaos broke loose. I am going to track down some links to game recaps and post them here, rather than go into it myself, but the long and short of it was that there were four consecutive line brawls, where everyone on the ice was involved in a fight. In the first two brawls, this included the goaltenders (except for Antero Niittymaki, our goalie who came into the game when Neil Little was ejected).

So, what am I surprised about? The number of visitors that my Phantoms/Senators photos on clubphoto.com received so far. The album has barely existed online for 24 hours. But I posted a link on two Flyers boards I visit, someone I shared the album with posted the link to a Phantoms e-mail discussion list, and someone ELSE (I don't know who) must have seen it in one of those three places. The unknown person posted it to a very well-known online hockey fight board, and the number of visits to the album proceeded to go straight through the roof.

I keep checking the second page of my Club Photo album and marvelling at the visitor count. I uploaded the photos almost exactly 24 hours ago, and it's already had 1850 visitors. Unbelievable! :o)

Anyway, tonight or tomorrow I'll treasure-hunt for links to recaps and the online video clip of Neil Little LITERALLY leaping into a pileup of brawling players. It's such an incredible visual that it made its way to ESPN's SportsCenter and TSN's (Canada's) Sports Centre as well. Apparently it was #3 on ESPN's "top plays of the day", and the announcer reputedly said something to the effect of "I know this is a bad lesson for the kids, but THAT... WAS... AWESOME!" LMHO!!! I sure wish I'd seen THAT evaluation. Too funny!

You go, Neil! Ya big lunatic! Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. :o)

Friday, December 26, 2003

it's the 2nd intermision of the Phantoms/Bears game. First of all, the scoreboard is impersonating the Police album "Ghost in the Machine"again -- the time keeps either getting stuck or blinking all sorts of never-before-seen characters. Second of all, Hershey's best player in the first two periods was the referee, Harry Dumas. TWICE he gave us a roughing penalty (deserved) without giving the Bear who was roughing our guy right back anything. Twice during the 5:30 time span in the first period when we were shorthanded two men, Hershey scored. GRRRRR...

Well, we now trail 2-1 and the third period will start soon. Here's hoping for a comeback by the Phantoms!
----
The game is now over and HOLY COW! The Phantoms opened up a can of goal scoring on Hershey, to put it mildly. We had a five-goal third period, and wound up winning 6-2! Boy, am I proud of this team. We came back from some bad shorthanded situations in the first period, and when all was said and done, the ONLY two goals we gave up both happened when we were killing 5-on-3 penalties. And even THEN, Neil made several circus saves and was saluted with "You're Unbelievable" into the bargain.

During the third period, something odd happened right after we scored the go-ahead goal. The first thing I noticed was that the linesmen went into the penalty box and talked to the off-ice officials for a few minutes. Meanwhile, the referee actually LEFT the ice surface entirely via the Zamboni entrance. At first I thought it was because the clock was acting up again, because during a delay that continued for at least 10 to 15 minutes, the Phantoms' third goal was not added to the scoreboard. Finally, Dumas came back (to boos from the crowd) went to each team's bench individually, and then the goal was registered on the scoreboard and the game resumed.

After the game, I spoke to one of the off-ice officials, and he explained what happened. Thanks to the clock being fouled up, there was an AHL official that let one of our players (Boyd Kane) out of the penalty box early. Then he scored our second goal. But it was after our THIRD goal that Hershey protested our second goal. Dumas went back to check the rules, to find out just how long of a delay there can be between a goal's being scored and its being protested. The end result was that the Phantoms were not penalized for the AHL official's error (because they have access to the correct time even when the scoreboard is messed up, like it was tonight), the protest came too late, and Boyd Kane's goal counted. Hershey was royally ticked off, which is understandable, but they proceeded to fall apart, which is an issue that their coach is going to have to address with them. S[tuff] happens, and no team will succeed if they're so fragile that it puts them completely off their game.Heck, I've seen calls go against the Phantoms and I would not find it acceptable if our team decided to just roll over and give away the game from that point forward. Didn't I just gripe a few paragraphs ago about bad officiating hurting our team? Did we quit? NO. We kept playing and we eventually took back the game. GOOD for us.

And it'll be a while between now and the next time we face Hershey. GOOD. Because if we were going to see them any time soon after this game, it might turn into a grudge match. Not only do I think they're miffed about the goal they wanted disallowed, but also we are now 6-0 vs. them this season. They're one of our biggest rivals anyway, but I think that the sight of a Phantoms logo is even LESS popular with them now than it usually is.

Go Phantoms -- beat Norfolk tomorrow the way you beat the Bears tonight. :o)

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Christmas Eve... and I'm glad I sat in the third row of the choir tonight at the 10:00 PM Mass. That means it's less likely that anyone saw my amusement when one of our hymns was announced as "Hark the HAROLD Angels sing". I'm not sure if the person at the microphone had a brain-cramp moment or if they genuinely don't know how to pronounce herald. In any event, I'm reasonably sure that I didn't quite keep a straight face as images of a bunch of angels all named "Harold" danced through my head. :o)

One of my sisters-in-law got me a present that, little did she know, I've wanted for EONS. See, when I was in first grade, one of my classmates had a pair of gloves where each finger was a different animal. I thought they were great, and I know my mom looked in stores to see if she could find me a pair like that, but they were nowhere to be found. Tonight, the gift I got was a pair of gloves where all the fingers are different cats. :o) Oh, I flipped for them! You can guess what *I* am going to be wearing tomorrow when Mark and I visit my parents!

I'm so glad that they make neato things like that in sizes grownups can wear. This being a baby boomer, and having nostalgia-based products appearing on the market, definitely has its benefits at times. ;o)

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Well, it's been an eventful week. Let's see if we can recap...

First of all, on Sunday afternoon we attended the Chalk Talk prior to the Phantoms game. This is an event for season ticket holders, where one of the coaches comes into Bullies, talks about the team, answers fans' questions and shows game video. Because the weather was bad (freezing rain), Mark and I left early to make sure we would have no trouble getting a parking place. We arrived at Bullies just as Karla and Al did, so the four of us went in together.

I was thoroughly rained on, as I hadn't used an umbrella to walk from the car to the building. I was also regretting that decision, because not only was I dripping wet, but my glasses were completely covered with rain droplets to the point where I could barely see. When I removed the glasses and fished in my pocket for a tissue to dry them, I *still* couldn't see all that well because my glasses were off. So when Karla exclaimed, "Donna!", at first I had no idea why.

Then I heard the voice I'd recognize anywhere ask, in his familiar French accent, "Do you know where the signing is?"

I thought, "OMG, that's Bernie Parent, isn't it?", and looked in the direction of the person who spoke. All I could see was a white-haired, white-bearded blur, so I hastily dried my glasses with the first thing that was available -- the hem of my hockey jersey -- and put them back on. Yep, it was Bernie (AKA the God of Goaltending), all right!

It seems that upstairs in the Spectrum itself, there was a charity hockey game going on between the Flyers Alumni team and a team for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Bernie and the person with him (who just barely registered on my radar because I was so transfixed by the fact that my childhood hero was standing in front of me) were supposed to be signing autographs at the game, but they didn't know where in the building they were supposed to report.

None of us fans knew where the signing was. I explained that we were in Bullies for a Phantoms season ticket holder event that was at the same time as the charity game. Then I added, "If you can't find the signing, you're welcome to come back down here and sit with us", to which other fans were quick to agree. :o) I guess they found the signing all right, though, because unfortunately they didn't return to Bullies once they went upstairs.

Hmm... this has been a good few weeks for goalie sightings! On November 23 I got to chat with Maxime Ouellet AND Neil Little, and last Sunday I talked to Bernie Parent. That would be my three favorite people in hockey, for those who are keeping track. I don't know what's up with my goalie karma these days, but it's welcome to stay this good for a long time. :o)

After the game, I got to chat with Melissa from the Phantoms front office. She reported that she had been able to deliver the little parcel I'd left for Neil earlier that night. His birthday is this week (today, actually), and Sunday was the final home game prior to his b-day. I wanted him to get the present, but didn't want to wait outside the Spectrum player's entrance in the rain after the game in order to get it to him. So I asked if Melissa could bring it downstairs, and she agreed to do it.

I also asked her if she'd received the pictures I'd e-mailed her of Ben Stafford's fight. She did, and not only did she really like them (especially this one, which is my favorite too), she wanted to give Ben a copy of them. She said that she'd told him she had fight pics for him, but hadn't gotten around to actually giving them to him yet. As it happened, I had a bunch of game pics with me, ones that I'd uploaded to my clubphoto.com hockey site and had printed. Most of them were of my Secret Player, which I am going to give to the Scrapbook Committee for his scrapbook, but some of the other prints included the ones I had made of the Ben Stafford fight. I'd intended to give THOSE to the Scrapbook Committee, too, for Ben's book. Instead, I told Melissa, "Hang on a minute". Then I picked out the prints of Ben's fight, and gave them to her to give to Ben. HIS birthday is December 18, too, so I figured that'd be a nice little b-day present for him.

So, Sunday was a nice hockey day... I talked to Bernie Parent and not only did the Phantoms beat our arch-rivals the Hershey Bears, but I managed to get little gifts to a pair of our birthday boys on the Phantoms.

It got even NICER when I arrived home and discovered that Maxime Ouellet had been CALLED UP to the NHL! Happy freaking New Year, now that's what I called good news! According to the Capitals discussion board that I frequent, he even stood a good chance of getting a start in goal in the very near future, because the Capitals' regular starter Olaf Kolzig was in need of a rest.

OK, then... fast-forward to Tuesday night. I was definitely glad that I'd set the VCR to tape the Caps game just in case Max was in goal. Sure enough, we got home from the Phan Club meeting in time to catch the third period of the game, and what did I see? My favorite baby goalie making a save. "OHO!", I yelled. "MAX IS IN!!!" Oh, he was in, all right. He was in a zone... he not only earned his first NHL win, but he got a SHUTOUT into the bargain. Needless to say, I promptly proceeded to dance for joy on the forum on the official Max fan site. Oh, how proud I am of him! :o) I wish he was still in the Flyers organization, but I'll be happy for his successes no matter where he plays.

Speaking of playing -- it's not easy to divide my attention between typing this post and watching the Flyers/Tampa Bay game on TV, so I am going to post this and return to watching the game for a while. I've been very migraine-prone all week, especially last night when I was in really bad shape, and my eyes need a rest from looking at computer screens for a while.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Well, I had MY adventure for the day while I was driving to work this morning.

I saw the "Ramp Work Ahead" signs on the WW bridge, and presumed they referred to the exit ramp that leads to the Black Horse Pike. Sure enough, from my vantage point on the bridge, prior to reaching the ramp, I saw what I presumed to be road-resurfacing going on. After all, there's one part of road-resurfacing that involves applying I-know-not-what, but whatever it is causes big clouds of white steam to rise from the road surface. And I certainly could see plenty of white clouds rising from the ramp. I mumbled to myself about stupid road work schedules that involve creating steam during rush hour, and made my way onto the ramp.

Shortly after I exited the bridge, I realized that the only other vehicle on the ramp was NOT performing any sort of road work. It was a car that was pulled over onto the shoulder and was ON FIRE. Two people were standing outside the car, and one was trying to aim the tiniest fire extinguisher I've ever seen into the engine block, by way of the driver's side wheel well.

It's fortunate that there was NO other traffic on the ramp at that time, because the immense white clouds emanating from the car were absolutely opaque (and, of course, the wind was directing them across the traffic lanes). But once I passed through the zero-visibility area, I caught sight of the actual construction workers, a few hundred feet away at the very end of the ramp. They were leaning over the concrete divider and watching with interest as the smoke rose from the car. I'm sure they'd have been even more interested if they could see the guy on the other side of the smoke cloud, who was trying to put the fire out with the dollhouse-prop-sized extinguisher. None of them appeared to be making a move toward either assisting the people at the scene or contacting help.

In fact, there was no evidence that assistance was on its way from ANY direction. So as soon as I reached the Black Horse Pike, I pulled into a parking lot and dialled 911. (What did we do before cell phones became widely available?) When I described the location of the car fire, they told me that help was en route to the scene. Good. I'm glad to know that someone had already called 911. It's better that 911 get a bunch of calls for the same emergency than for everyone to think "Well, SOMEONE will call, so I don't have to".

In any event, I believe I've satisfied my Minimum Daily Requirement for adventure for today, and I'm quite ready to have a nice peaceful rest-of-the-day.

Friday, December 05, 2003

"Let it Snow", MY FOOT! Whoever said that oughta have the partridge in the pear tree lay an egg on their hat!

Let's backtrack. I suppose I should begin by mentioning that, although I got my car in 1991, I have always been able to take public transportation to work between then and now. Therefore, I have only had to drive in the snow twice. Once was several years ago when Karla and I were interpreters-in-training. The weather was clear (though overcast) that morning, so we drove up to the church in Norristown where we assisted the interpreter twice a month. At some point during the Mass, it began to snow, so I had to drive home through snow. The other time was one Christmas night several years ago; again, there was no snow when I left the house to go to Joe M's for a Christmas get-together, but there were flurries falling by the time I departed for home.

Considering that the more recent of these two episodes happened about 10 years ago, you can imagine how thrilled I wasn't about the prospect of driving to NJ this morning with wet snow falling.

I discovered a few interesting things before I even got in the car. Such as, there's a right way and a wrong way to clean the darn snow off the car. The process this morning went something like this:

- remove snow brush from trunk
- clean rear window (which is large, as the car is a hatchback)
- clean passenger side rear view mirror
- clean passenger side windows
- clean passenger side rear view mirror AGAIN while mumbling curses under breath
- clean driver's side windows
- clean driver's side rear view mirror
- clean windshield
- stow brush in trunk
- get in car

The first thing I discovered was that I should have cleaned the rear window LAST, not first. By the time I was done brushing off everything else, a film of snow had begun to accumulate on the rear window. But I was already cold and wet, and didn't feel like getting back out of the car, so I let the rear-window defroster handle the job.

The second thing I noticed was that as I was driving, egg-sized clumps of snow (which was mixed with rain) were detaching from the snow on the car's roof and slowly sliding down my rear window. Oh, joy. Note to self: next time, clean the freakin' car roof, too.

Fortunately, except for a nasty frosted-over off-ramp from the Walt Whitman Bridge, just about all the other roads between home and work were not in bad shape. Visibility was another story, though -- too bad there are no plows or salt to improve *that*. But everything was basically OK right until I reached the parking lot at work, which hadn't been plowed yet...! AAAH, CRUD!

So I slowly drove through the lot, none too happy about the unfamiliar creaking-wet-snow noises emanating from under my tires (did I mention I haven't driven through snow in ten years?) until I got to something that resembled empty parking spaces. I say "resembled" because the lines in the parking lot were all buried and I had to play "guess the boundaries of the empty space" before pulling into one. Hooray, I made it! Put car in park, turn off lights, wipers, and ignition, get bags together, get out of car. By the time I had the car door closed and locked, a glaze of wet snow had already formed on the windshield and rear window. Sheesh.

Work closed at 1 PM today, due to the weather conditions, so out the door I went to reverse this whole process and go home. When I got to my car, I saw that Karla, who'd parked in an adjacent space, was already in the process of cleaning her car off. I observed to her that maybe I'd like this weather better if I had a one-horse open sleigh. She finished before I did, and left while I was still brushing off my car. I did remember to clean the snow off the roof AND to save the rear window for last.

On the way home, I was waiting at a red light when I saw a red pickup truck on the opposite side of the road. He stopped for the red light, too, but apparently he did so a bit too abruptly. All the snow on his truck's roof went SLIIIIIIDING forward until it completely covered his windshield. There was so much snow, and it was so heavy and wet, the windshield wipers couldn't even budge. Good thing he was at a red light and traffic was stopped anyway, because he had to get out and clean that mess away manually. I had to laugh. Geeeee, I sure was glad I'd cleaned MY roof. ;o)

I also had to smile at someone's whimsical humor. On my way home, I passed a fire hydrant which had accumulated a large round clump of snow atop it. I noticed that someone had used their finger to draw a smiley face in the nearly-spherical clump of snow. I don't know who did it, but I appreciated their artwork. :o)

That's more than I can say for the way Mother Nature conducts her snowball fights. The precipitation was changing over from snow to rain; all those majestic trees, whose branches extend over Kings Highway like a canopy, were randomly dropping BIG clods of slush onto cars and pedestrians. No fair! When I was a kid, the rules of snowball fighting included prohibitions against ice chunks and slushballs. Mother Nature wasn't playing by the rules. I don't wanna snowball fight with her any more. >:o(

Anyway, I made it home without any misadventures. I'm STILL thawing out, and I think I need a dose of hot chocolate. And as for this weather... whoever thinks THIS is a winter wonderland needs their head examined.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

This morning I parked facing the park (no pun intended) across the street from the building where I work. I happened to be looking directly at a softball field when I turned off the ignition.

The first thing that caught my eye was an ENORMOUS hill of sand that appears to be smack in the middle of the ballfield. It's got to be at least six feet high. Either it's the biggest pitcher's mound in history, or they're about to start renovating the ballfield during the off-season.

That pile of sand might just start looking like a pile of snow in a few hours, though... we're supposed to have some accumulation of snow tonight. UGH, just what I need, to drive through snow in the morning. I hope the roads aren't a mess. (And in any event, I'd rather do THIS drive to NJ in winter weather than that frightful commute to Norristown.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Remember the rocket scientist who spelled part of his own company's name wrong on the insurance application? This afternoon I got another application that needs to be filed in the "How's that again?" category.

The moment I saw the business's address, I thought something was wrong. I couldn't imagine that anyone would name a town "Merden", CT... Connecticut is much too close to the Canadian border, and that name is WAY too similar to a French swear word. I felt that the name on the application HAD to be a mistake.

Sure enough, I looked up the ZIP code and discovered that the business is located in MERIDEN, CT. Now that name makes MUCH more sense!

I e-mailed this finding to Karla, whose response was that maybe the applicant had Merden for brains. LOL! Yeah, I think so, too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Arrrrgh... the Phantoms gave up a 4-1 lead in the third period, and wound up tying Norfolk 4-4.

Of course, when your most experienced D have both been playing North American hockey for all of two seasons (Wade Skolney and Dennis Seidenberg), there are going to be defensive miscues.

We also probably narrowed down a few things that we'd like to work on... the first goal-against was the result of an unfortunate rebound that went straight into the slot and directly to the trailing Admiral, whom nobody had picked up. The final goal-against was a freaky bouncing thing that went in a moment after a defensive-zone faceoff. I suspect Nitty would like to have those two back.

At least we SCORED four goals... ladies and gentlemen, we actually have an offense these days. Our two TWO top lines have been red hot, and that's nice to know.

The kicker of the night, though, was the fight near the end of the second. There was a colossal pileup at the half-boards, which began when an Admiral boarded a Phantom (I didn't see who got hit, but man, did I hear it). Every black-jerseyed Phantom on the ice made a beeline toward the offender, followed closely by the rest of the white-jerseyed Admirals. Someone lost their footing and at least three, maybe four players went over like dominoes. All I could see of them was a bunch of skates. Meanwhile, whichever players remained standing were all in the midst of a shoving match.

Then one pair separated from the rest, and they were full-out fighting. I could see the tall Admiral, but at the angle I was viewing the bout from, I couldn't see which Phantom it was. His Phantoms jersey was pulled out of position (but was kept from being removed by the fighter's strap) and the number couldn't be viewed at all. Then another fan behind me yelled, "Go, Ben!"

Ben? As in, Stafford? The smallest guy on the team (until Freddy Meyers comes back from injury)? Against that big freaking GIRAFFE of an Admiral? Well, not only was it Ben, but our li'l micro-forward held his own VERY well until he got the takedown. :o) There wasn't much time left in the period, so the ref sent both combatants to the dressing room. When he approached the bench, we fans near the tunnel cheered like crazy and Ben started grinning from ear to ear. The Phantoms near the bench door patted the heck out of him when he arrived... they were grinning, too. The one voice I could hear perfectly clearly, even over the fans' loud cheering, was Pete Vandermeer yelling, "GOOD JOB!" as Ben headed up the tunnel.

It WAS a good job, too... I'll be giving Ben a few fight photos for his upcoming birthday. I'll post them here, too, when I get a chance.
Yay... I finally got the postgame "Max and Neil" story posted, so if you're curious to see what has supplanted the placeholder, do scroll down. ;o)

This morning was the first time I used the polarized sunglasses I ordered online. (I actually ordered the grey pair but since there's no image of those on the site, I linked this post to the amber pair instead.) Boy, what a difference the glasses made! Since I'm driving to work during a time of day when the sun hasn't risen very high yet, there's a LOT of glare to deal with, and it's really been bothering my eyes. (You know the glare's bad when you already have a nice case of eyestrain when you ARRIVE at work.) Even things like the recently-fixed, and therefore smooth and surprisingly reflective, road surfaces have been causing glare. I'm glad to report that the new pair of glasses is a good solution for this problem. What a relief!

In fact, I think the glasses were why I was able to see a little patch of rainbow this morning on my way in to work. Because the back-lit, overcast part of the sky wasn't especially bright to look at, I noticed an unexpected bit of color in there at one point where the clouds seemed thin. Since I was waiting for a traffic light to turn green, I had some time to take a second look, and what do you know? It was a small section of a rainbow! Too bad I didn't have a camera handy. (Something about driving and taking pictures... they're kind of not compatible, ya know?) So I'll just have to file the memory away if I want to see that particular image again later... but it certainly was a nice little smile during the drive to work.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Well, I survived this game with what minute amounts of sanity I have still intact. The Phantoms won 3-1, but both goalies were superb. It always makes me glad to see my favorite players do well, and I had the chance to watch TWO of them play a fine game. Life is good. (Of course, I still maintain that I'd have been PERFECTLY fine with a 0-0 tie. Really, I would have. ;o) )

Anyway, after the game, I got a nice reminder of why Neil Little and Maxime Ouellet are my two favorite people in hockey.

When the game ended, I did something I'd only done once before. I went around to the back of the Spectrum, where the players' tunnel is, and where the visiting team's bus loads up. It's a huge ramp with a mega-sized garage door that would allow the bus to back all the way into the building if necessary. That door remains open while the equipment and whatnot are loaded into the bus. Visiting players walk out in order to board the bus; Phantoms players walk out in order to access their cars in the nearby players' section of the parking lot.

I went because I wanted to see Max and introduce myself as the person who was his Secret Phan when he played here. That's something I never got to do at the 2002 Phan Club banquet. Unfortunately, the trade deadline was about two weeks before the banquet, which was when everyone was going to approach their player and introduce themselves. Back then, the closest I came to introducing myself was to snail-mail the final Secret Phan package which I'd intended to deliver at the banquet, along with a letter and a printout of the photo I took with him at the Carnival a few weeks before the trade deadline.

There were a few of us Max fans out there waiting to see him. One fan, whom I'll call "J", and I had gone in on a care package for Max, too -- she went on the shopping run and put together a basket of items that Max had listed as things he likes on his Secret Phan form (such as favorite snacks, a magazine, etc.). Judging from my few experiences at the Spectrum's player tunnel, it's not uncommon for fans to wait for favorite players and give them little tokens or maybe some game pictures they've taken.

It took eons for Max to appear because he must have been catching up with half the people in the Delaware Valley after the game. Plus, according to some other Pirates who came out, he was talking to reporters. (Which reporters those would be, I would LOVE to know, because none of his comments appeared in either of the PHILLY papers this morning. The dearth of local AHL coverage makes me mad... but I digress.)

Eventually, from our vantage point outside the building, we could see Neil and Max inside the Spectrum chatting with a small group of people. We thought they might come out together, but no... Neil came out first. Max stayed behind and kept talking to whoever the people were.

I'm glad one of the other fans in our bunch (whom I'll call "K") is a mite bolder than I am about these things... it would never in a million years have occurred to me to ask Neil to let us go in the players' entrance and pose for pics with him and Max. But *she* did. Neil agreed right away and led the four of us into the building. (Just because it wasn't my idea didn't mean I wasn't willing to go along with it. LOL.)

Hence, I now have something I wished like heck I could have gotten when they both played here. And here it is... :o) Max is on the left, Neil is on the right.



After that, since Max was still talking with people, we fans made our way back out along with Neil. I told him, "Thanks so much for doing that. You're a saint". He just grinned and said, with that fun-to-listen-to Western Canadian accent of his, "Oh, no problem". :o)

We returned to where we'd been standing and waited for Max to come out, so we could give him his care package. FINALLY, Max finished chatting and exited the building. I think he was literally the last guy on the team to leave. (I can guarantee you that he was having trouble finding a seat once he finished getting doted on by fans and got on the bus -- by the time he boarded, all the guys were already set up with their pillows and other belongings. Max kept walking up and down the aisle... lol, poor baby goalie.)

We weren't the only fans who wanted to fuss over him, either, so we waited our turn. J gave him the care package and the card, to his thanks. It looked to me like he appreciated it a lot. :o) Then I approached him and said "I just wanted to say hi. My name's Donna, and I was your Secret Phan when you were here".

When he answered, "I know", I nearly fell over with surprise.

"You KNOW? How do you know?"

"You sent me a picture".

I was momentarily at a loss. I sent him a... what? When on earth...? Then I realized he was referring to the printout of the pic from the Carnival. I also realized that I sent it over a year and a half ago! Holy COW, what a memory!

At least I finally got to OFFICIALLY introduce myself, plus pay a few compliments for his recent success and tell him to keep up the great work into the bargain. Now that's what I call a productive night.

But as I wrote earlier, I also got a few concrete reminders of why these two guys are my favorite people in hockey... the one who bends a few security rules for his fans, and the one who remembers his fans from a photo he got two seasons ago. Talk about returning loyalty for loyalty! No wonder I'm a goalie junkie. :o)
Update: the score is now 2-0 Phantoms at the end of the second period, and both Neil and Max have been fabulous.

I have only one more period to survive of this anxiety-attack-on-ice. Just let my two favorite goalies get through this game and be as superb as they've been so far, and I'll be VERY relieved.
Oh, I am going to have a nervous breakdown before this game is over.

Neil Little is starting in goal for the Phantoms. Maxime Ouellet is starting in goal for the visiting Portland Pirates.

These are the two people in this universe whom I can never, ever root against for any reason, and they'e playing against one another in this game.

Mark already nudged me after seeing my reaction to a particularly dangerous Phantoms scoring chance in the first period. "Did I just hear you holler 'look out'?"

"Yeah, you did. See that score?" I pointed to the scoreboard, which at the time read 0-0. "It's welcome to stay that way as long as humanly possible. I like that score".

Well, it's now the first intermission and the score is 1-0, Phantoms. If this game remains a goalie duel, I will be heartily relieved no matter what happens. So far, so good: Neil and Max both made some fine stops during the first period.

But Karla, Al, and Mark are all on notice to call 911 if I keel over. The stress of having my two favorite people in hockey at opposing ends of the ice could prove to be too much. Aieee...

Thursday, November 20, 2003

FINALLY the road construction has cleared up enough to allow drivers on the Walt Whitman Bridge to use the ramps that connect directly to/from the Black Horse Pike. That shortens my commute even more than it already was. Now it's 11 miles on the way in, and 10.9 miles on the way home. It's great! :o)

I've been listening to Sunny 104.5 in my car. They have been playing nothing but Christmas music since shortly after my birthday. Personally, I think the middle of November is a TAD early to start with that theme... but on the other hand, I genuinely like the songs and we NEVER hear winter-related music after Christmas. As my friends and I have discussed, even songs that are winter-oriented but completely unrelated to Christmas, like Winter Wonderland and Let It Snow, vanish from the airwaves the moment Christmas is over. So to make a long story short, I'm listening to Christmas music on the radio every day.

It's kind of nice, actually. It also improves my disposition while I'm driving. It's kind of hard to make that mental leap from singing "Peace on Earth" to yelling "It's not gonna get any greener!!!" at the driver ahead of you. ;o) So I'm arriving at work with lower blood pressure these days.

Speaking of things that deserve the exclamation, "FINALLY!!!", the Verizon DSL connection is up and running at last! Happy freaking new year! I celebrated by e-mailing out some hockey game pics that I've been waiting to send to people. Man, I'd forgotten how much of a pain it is to e-mail photos with a dialup connection! One or two e-mails sent that way convinced me to just postpone e-mailing pictures until the Gremlins were evicted from the broadband connection.

It also makes it easier to upload pictures to clubphoto.com albums, which I'm going to be doing a LOT more of in the near future. I'm trying to coordinate the sharing of my hockey game pics with some of my fellow Phantoms fans who want prints, and posting them online is by far the simplest way to go. I created a clubphoto.com account specifically for hockey photos, and I'll be adding it to the list of links on the weblog ASAP.

Speaking of hockey... the Flyers are playing the Minnesota Wild. I'm going back to watching the game on TV.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Oh, my nerves.

Welcome to Gremlin Central, AKA my house. Mark and I have been trying to switch over from AOL DSL to Verizon DSL, and it's been an immense headache from Thursday until now. What's worse, the problems are STILL not resolved.

To make a lonnnng story less long: Mark got notified via e-mail on Thursday that the DSL service was set up. On Thursday night, he went to hook up the DSL modem that was sent to us by Verizon and install the software.

No dice. It wouldn't connect. He spent the entire evening on the phone with customer support. Nothing they suggested worked.

Friday night, after the Phantoms game, was more of the same... Mark spent God-knows-how-long on the phone with tech support, and the DSL connection still wasn't working.

Saturday, while I went to the Deaf Worldwide Expo with Karla, Joe J, Joe's mom Jean, Edie, and Jay, Mark remained home and made still MORE support calls. I think so far he's spoken with tech support from Verizon, Microsoft, AND Sony (the computer manufacturer). No luck.

Sunday evening, Karla and I went to the Phantoms game. Meanwhile, Karla's husband Al came over to our house and worked with Mark to try and troubleshoot. The guys finally reached the conclusion that the DSL service was never switched on by Verizon.

I swear, Mark is the only competent person who works for that freaking company! HOW THE HECK do they remember to send out an e-mail notification that the DSL service is ready, but FORGET to turn the actual service on? Arrrrrgh...

Now it's Monday. Mark called them during the workday to report what he and Al determined last night. They wanted Mark to call back from home in the evening. Fine. He did. In fact, since he got home from work before I did (which normally is not the case), he was on the phone with Verizon tech support when I arrived.

By the time I got home, the numbskull tech support person had told Mark to uninstall AOL from our computer. I want to know what in the BLEEP the AOL software had to do with anything, and why the nitwit from tech support suggested uninstalling it in the first place! But unfortunately, it was already uninstalled by the time I got home. Mark showed me where the AOL folders were saved before he removed it, but I have no idea if my favorite places are in there among the saved stuff. I fear that my entire "favorite places" list is gone, not to mention I might have to get creative in tracking down how to RESTORE the saved stuff once AOL is reinstalled on the computer.

Which, by the way, it's not put back on there yet. I am considering leaving it off the machine until the DSL is set up. That way, some other tech support moron can't suggest uninstalling it yet again.

I think I'd like to ask around amongst my list of favorite goalies, and see if any of them would like to get some frustrations out by cross-checking some sense into some tech support personnel. The goalie will feel better, and *I* certainly will feel better.

I sure hope the next thing I post involves commenting that we actually have the DSL up and running. I'm so fed up with all these problems.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

All I could think of, thanks to today's weather, was "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day". We had high-wind warnings overnight last night and all day today, as well as all kinds of traffic problems and power outages due to downed trees. The wind, including gusts up to 50 MPH, made life interesting for anyone who was walking OR driving. Pedestrians had to fight their way through strong wind gusts and every kind of airborne debris, particularly leaves. Drivers got to deal with fouled-up traffic signals, various utilities' repair trucks blocking traffic lanes, plus the visual distraction of the same flying debris that the pedestrians were dodging. I don't know how other drivers feel, but when I see a sizeable moving shape in my peripheral vision, which appears to be about to travel right in front of my moving car, my initial response is to feel somewhat startled... even if I *do* realize a moment later that what's heading across my path is merely a large cloud of dried leaves.

When I got to work, I noticed that the infamous kite, the one that'd been lodged in the tree near the parking lot for the past few weeks, appeared to be gone. It was definitely still there on Tuesday evening, when I noticed as I was leaving work that the silk was starting to get tattered. My guess is that it blew away some time during the night. I guess Charlie Brown's kite-eating tree wanted to go back to being an anonymous private citizen, which it couldn't do as long as there was a bright patch of color dangling in its branches.

The last time we had a windy day like this was my first day on this job assignment. That day, the power was disrupted to most (if not all) of Cherry Hill, including the building I work in. Guess what happened this morning? Yep... another blackout struck at about 10 AM. This time, I was trained on enough different job tasks that I was able to keep myself occupied for the 90 minutes or so that we had no electricity. So in the month I've had this assignment, I've experienced two power failures and one smoke-induced building evacuation. I swear, I'm NOT a jinx on this building, no matter how many people try to tell me otherwise. ;o)

LOL... and as I sit here writing about the power outage at work, I'm watching the Flyers/Canucks game on TV and THEY are having electrical issues in the Wachovia Center. One end of the ice has had some of the lights go out, so they are having the second intermission about five minutes early. The building management wants to figure out what's wrong and how to fix it, after which they'll tack the remaining portion of the second period onto the beginning of the third frame. At least no one can blame THAT power problem on me, 'cause I'm not there. It's still windy as all heck outside, though, so if the problems are weather-related, I won't be surprised.

Anyway, "Let's go, Flyers" -- I'm going back to watching the telecast. I hope that they can straighten out the light situation and resume the game.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

It dawned on me yesterday morning, after I got gas on the way to work, that I wouldn't have to fill the gas tank again while I was in my 30s. :o)

So far this week I've been trained on one new task regarding handling some of the incoming mail. It's something that a co-worker hasn't got time to do along with her ton of other tasks, so I'm taking it on. Believe me, that's just FINE with me. The more things I do, the more indispensible I get, and the more likely that this assignment will continue. Maybe I can even add, "and the greater the chance that this will turn into a temp-to-perm positon".

This has been an aggravating week for me, as a fan of our Phantoms alumni who are on other NHL teams. I have NHL Center Ice on digital cable, so I can watch other cities' NHL telecasts. I put the Tampa Bay Lightning game on, only to learn that the player I'd tuned in to see, Rusty Fedotenko, was a healthy scratch. I tuned in to a Buffalo Sabres game, and Andy Delmore was a healthy scratch. Both of those guys have been in a slump to start the season, which makes me feel disappointed for them. I'm hoping they get back into the lineup and turn things around soon.

But the most frustrating of all the Phantoms-alumni news was that goalie Brian Boucher isn't even *practicing* with the Phoenix Coyotes, never mind dressing for games or playing for them. I don't know what drugs the powers-that-be are on, out there in Phoenix, but if they used a few brain cells they could manage to allow all three of their goalies to practice with the team. I've watched the Flyers do it during training camp: each goalie takes turns sitting out, and all the netminders get to take part in the practice and the drills. I can't imagine what the Yotes are thinking... you don't pay a guy $2M/year to take shots on goal from the GOALIE COACH for an hour prior to the team's practice. That's ridiculous! I was furious after I read the article on azcentral.com. I'm trying to get some fans together on a couple of Phoenix and/or goalie-related mailing lists I'm. There are several Brian fans on those lists, including me, and I'm encouraging people to send Boosh some upbeat snail mail. There aren't many concrete things that fans can do to help a player or a team, but taking action to boost morale IS something we can do.

I am REALLY looking forward to tomorrow night... the Phantoms will be playing their first home game since October 19. I miss the heck out of the team and of watching live hockey. It'll be nice to see the team again. It should be a colorful game... we opened a can of goal-scoring on the Bears last Sunday in Hershey, with a 6-2 win. The Bears started gooning it up, including four fights, with about six minutes left in the game. Tomorrow there'll surely be some scores to settle. I'm betting the first fight happens within the first five minutes of the game tomorrow. IF it even takes THAT long. LOL.

Well, speaking of hockey, the Flyers/Caps are on TV, so I'll return to watching that now.

Oh, and P.S., I nearly forgot. We had a bit of an adventure at work on Halloween. Check out An adventurous Halloween to see the pics.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

So there I was at work, inputting an insurance application into the system.

As it happens, I had been instructed by the underwriter that we were declining the application, because this company does not insure the particular class of business that the applicant belongs to. They make balloon bouquets and, as my instructions said, "We are not a market for entertainment risks". So my task was to input the relevant information about this application, decline it, and then create and send out the declination letter explaining why the submission was turned down.

The copy of the app that I received was filled out by hand and faxed here. As it came through a bit garbled, I wasn't sure at first what the company's name was. Actually, the first part of the name was clear, but the final word in the name was not. I kept looking at it, trying to make sense of it, when it dawned on me to try an internet search.

I put the part of the company name that was legible into a Yahoo search window, plus the city and state of the applicant's address. In a moment, I had an answer. Several links came up that contained the applicant company's full name and address. Since they make balloon bouquets, it should surprise no one that their company name contains the word BALLOONS.

What IS surprising, however, is that the applicant spelled the word "balloons" WRONG on their insurance application...!

Never mind not being a market for entertainment risks... personally, I think that my employer should not be a market for anyone who lacks the wits to spell their own business's name properly! I think it's just as well that this submission was declined, don't you? ;o)

In other news, apparently there is a celebrity living on the perimeter of my employer's parking lot. It was just blending in with the scenery for a while, but it gave its presence away a day or two ago.

See, as I was leaving work on Friday evening, I noticed a guy in the park across the street from this building flying a kite. It was pretty tough to miss his activity, as the kite was a collection of bright rainbow colors. I got a smile out of watching this for a while, then I went on my way home.

Well, on Monday morning, I happened to park facing the park (no pun intended), and I realized that the kite was still around. Its owner, however, was not... that's because the kite is now entangled in the upper branches of a nearby tree. That's when I realized: Charlie Brown's kite-eating tree lives here! Right here in NJ, imagine that. So THAT'S what became of the tree after the Peanuts comic strip went into reruns. But SSSSH. Mum's the word, you know -- it's obvious that the tree was just trying to live a normal life, out of the spotlight, so don't spread the word too much. We wouldn't want a bunch of celebrity-hounds flocking to this site demanding an autumn leaf or a twig (which they'll claim is for themselves, then turn around and sell on eBay). That would never do. This is a quiet neighborhood and I'm sure its residents would prefer it remain that way.

Monday, October 27, 2003

You KNOW my hands are in pain when I arrive at the Phan Club's Meet and Greet, see that the bumpers are already up at our lane (to prevent gutterballs), and I still opt not to bowl. I learned my lesson last year when my attempt to bowl in the afternoon, after interpreting that morning, was a disaster. I barely got through half of a game then, before the pain got so bad I had to stop, *and* I dropped the ball three times into the bargain. My hands were in such bad shape I couldn't even keep my grip on the bowling ball. This year, because I interpreted prior to the Meet and Greet again, I figured it'd be better for everyone if I chose not to be a menace to myself and everyone in the vicinity, so I relegated myself to the cheering section.

Karla and Al were at the lane next to Mark and me. They had two players (Andre Savage and Mark Murphy), and we had one (Ian MacNeil). What nice guys. All six of us spent the afternoon applauding for one another's good results. Well, except for the little exchange that had Mark Murphy threatening Ian MacNeil with a bowling ball, lol... Well, I did say they're NICE guys, but I never said they're SANE nice guys. ;o)

I lost count of how many games were bowled at either of our lanes... in past years, we've generally had two or three games with the player(s) at our lane, but this year, both of our lanes had WAY more games than that. Mark and Ian, in particular, bowled at least five or six games; with just two players, the games moved fast. Karla got her lifetime best score during one of the games, including three consecutive strikes. I took a photo of the computerized score sheet so I can e-mail it to her.

My one concern is that poor Ian's thumb was looking pretty sore by the end of the afternoon. He started out with a bowling ball that fit his thumb too tightly, and I think he waited too long to track down a different bowling ball with wider holes. I hope he's not joining me as a member of the "Ouch, my hand hurts" club today. Good thing the Phantoms have the next few days off... we are in dire need of scoring, so we need our forwards not to have sore hands from ill-fitting bowling balls. ;o)

Speaking of scoring... that's absolutely the thing the Phantoms need to work on most. Our goalies both have GAAs under 2.00 (Little: 1.83; Niittymaki: 1.93) and solid Save Pcts as well (Little: 0.930; Niittymaki: 0.921). With numbers like that, there is NO way that this team should be 2-4-1-1 after eight games. The problem is that we also have scored a mere 14 goals in that time span, while giving up 17. We need to figure out how to be as effective at the other end of the ice as we've been in our own.

So, I hope we brought some good luck to our bowling partners, all three of whom are forwards... and I hope Ian's thumb is fine by the time the next game rolls around. If he has the same kind of success shooting the puck as he did with the bowling ball... including several instances where he earned spares by knocking down that one last pin... we'll be in good shape. :o) I hope our players had as nice of a time as I did. I really enjoyed yesterday afternoon.

Friday, October 24, 2003

It's been quite a week.

The Friday before I finished the Nameless Nationwide Department Store assignment, I started hearing a strange noise when I applied the brakes in my car... it kind of sounded like rushing wind. I never heard a car make a sound like that before, and I certainly didn't want MY car sounding that way. Mark agreed that the noise was not something that a car should be making, so off it went to the mechanic. For my final two days in Norristown, I drove Mark's car. My mechanic said that my front brakes were "gone", possibly worn down as a result of that wretched commute, and replaced the lining.

I got my own car back just in time to start this new assignment in NJ. The funky rushing noise was gone, but I still was a bit dissatisfied because I felt I had to push the brake pedal WAY too far down before anything happened.

I thought, "I'll try it for a few days and see if it's just something I need to get used to, or if something needs to be adjusted." Mistake. That's the last time I say THAT about brakes! On my way home from work Tuesday, about a mile from the office, I was on the road going toward I-295 when the light turned red. The car in front of me stopped.

I hit my brakes and barely slowed down at all.

After the moment of shocked realization that my car was NOT decelerating, I hit the brake pedal so hard I was practically standing up off the driver's seat. THEN it started slowing down, but not enough. SCREEEEECH... CRUNK, and I connected with the car in front of me. Oh, @)(#$(#@&....

I could see that the rear bumper of the car in front of me was not visibly affected, but my main concern was the driver. She pulled into a nearby parking lot and I followed. I was mortified.

I got out of my car and walked over to hers. She was on a cell phone... I have no idea if she was already on the phone before my car rear-ended hers, or if she made a speed-dial call between then and pulling into the parking lot. I thought she was calling to make an accident report, but no... she wrapped up the conversation with "I gotta go" and hung up.

She got out of the car and was VERY stressed. Who the heck could blame her? I asked if she was all right, and she said "If you knew what kind of day I've had!"

I apologized and said that I had just gotten my car back from having the brakes worked on (which was true). I'm not sure if what I said even registered. She walked back, looked at her car which appeared undamaged, and said "I just want to get on with the rest of my day. The car looks fine".

I said, "Never mind the car, are YOU all right?", but she just got back in the car and drove out of the parking lot. Thank God that neither of us was hurt, although it scared the living heck out of both of us. Her car looked fine, and so did mine (though the front bumper was loose).

Before I left the parking lot, I got my cell phone and speed-dialled my mechanic. "Jimmy, you need to check my car again", and I launched into a description of my misadventure. Mark and I switched cars again on Wednesday morning, so Mark could drop the car off at the mechanic's and take SEPTA to work from there. This time Jimmy bled the brakes and replaced the brake fluid; he also fixed the loose bumper issue. *NOW* the brakes feel normal.

Still, I feel like I should send a thank-you note to the driving school I went to, back when I was in high school. They drummed it into my head to keep a safe following distance, and that's one thing I've always been meticulous about. If there hadn't been a good separation between my car and the one in front, I'd probably have collided with the other car with a lot more force. If that had been the case, there could have been a lot worse to deal with than just some bad nerves on the part of the other driver and me.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

OK, that does it. I'm not normally one to rant at length when a secular musician plays in church and commits a faux pas. I might notice it and feel frustrated about it, but I don't necessarily get extremely worked up over it.

Today, though, if I'd had anything more than a VERY passing acquaintance with the pianist who came in for the children's choir, I'd have given him a very polite earful as soon as the congregation was completely out of earshot. Boy, was I ticked by the time Mass was over!

He's been known to drop in a hint of a secular song here and there when he's in the midst of playing, particularly after the final song of the liturgy is ended and he's just "filling time" as the congregation files out of the church. I'm not overfond of that tendency of his, but I keep quiet about it (if griping to Mark and to Joe M, who's a music director of another parish, can be considered keeping quiet).

However, transitioning into playing some secular music after Mass is over is one thing. Throwing it in as an auditory filler DURING Mass is something else entirely, and someone needs to have a word with him about it.

There is a part of the Mass where the congregation either recites or sings a prayer to Jesus that begins "Lamb of God...". Today the children's choir sang that particular prayer. The kids' part of it went nicely. But as they were holding the final note of the song "... give us your peeeeace"..... he started playing a little bit of melody under their voices while he worked his way toward the final, closing chord of the song.

As it happened, that little bit of melody consisted of a seven-note, very familiar-sounding measure that I wasn't immediately able to place. I thought, "That's interesting. He threw a little fragment of another song in there. Hmm.". I pondered the tune some more. "A children's song, in fact... now what were those lyrics... OH GOOD GRIEF!!!"

I'm sorry, but regardless of the fact that Jesus's mother was named Mary, there is no part of the nursery rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb that is appropriate to be used at any point of any Liturgy. Ever. Not even at the end of the Lamb of God prayer.

I can't freaking believe the pianist did that. I hope the pastor or the choir director noticed it too, as I did, and told him not to do it again.

This is what happens when secular musicians come and play in church... they don't necessarily think in terms of LITURGY or WORSHIP, they think in terms of MUSIC, and faux pas like this are the result. Aack.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Well, I've completed my first three days at the new assignment, and WHAT a difference! I've already mentioned how much nicer the commute, the people and the atmosphere are. The work content is also *infinitely* better. There's just no comparison between the two positions. I'm more glad than ever that I shifted over to this new assignment. The pay cut is a SMALL price to pay to preserve what's left of my sanity, believe me!

I guess I'm still emotionally "detoxing" from the Norristown job, though, because thoughts still crop up at random times of things that happened there. Like the one call I made that left me *extremely* sad by the time I hung up... judging from the conversation I had while trying to reschedule the repair appointment, I am positive that the man who answered the phone has Alzheimer's. :o(

It was his wife's name on the service order, but he answered and said she was out. There's nothing unusual about that, but under those circumstances it's normal for the spouse to either reschedule the appointment himself or take the 800 number and let the wife call back. This poor man was unable to do either. He couldn't decide if he would be able to reschedule or not. He had the calendar in front of him but seemed to be having difficulty making sense of it. It was at this point that I said, "Let me give you the 800# so Mrs. ___ can call back when she knows what her schedule is like".

Unfortunately, this was no easy task for him, either. He tried to write, only to determine after about five seconds that the pen was upside-down. I recited the number slowly. He repeated the numbers back to me as (I thought) he was writing them, but something told me to ask him to repeat the phone number back to me when he was done. Almost none of it had any relation to the phone number I'd just recited to him. "Eight... fourteen... three... [the correct first three numbers of the phone number]... twelve... vacation... umm...". It was extremely clear that he was frustrated and embarrassed by the problems he was having understanding and carrying out the request to write the phone number.

It was at this point that I said, "That's OK, Mr. ___, I think we should call back in a little while when Mrs. ___ is in. Then she can reschedule because she'll know what her schedule looks like". He seemed relieved at the suggestion and agreed to it. I felt sad for a very long time after I hung up from that phone call.

Anyway, on to happier things. My family is celebrating my dad's 65th birthday tonight. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to miss one of the RARE Phantoms Saturday-night home games, but such is life. (Of all the doggone Saturdays for the team to schedule a game, they had to pick this one! Murphy's freakin' Law strikes again.)

I've already notified some of my friends who'll be at the game that they are going to have to bring some extra luck to the Spectrum for me, since I can't be there in person to do it myself. But I did the math and it was a no-brainer: 40 home games for the team this season. ONE dad, who is gonna have ONE 65th birthday in his life. Um, yeah, I'll be sending the Phantoms my good thoughts long-distance, and going with my family to the birthday dinner at The Pub in NJ.

I can't believe he's reaching the big 6-5. Of course in a few weeks. I'll be reaching the big 4-0, and then it'll be HIS turn to think "Where did the time go?" ;o) I just thank God that my parents and the rest of the immediate family all seem to be going along in good health. Ditto for Mark's side of the family: everyone there is all right, too, thank the Lord.

Stability in the BIG things in life leaves us with more energy to deal with the small stuff... such as the little situation we've had with our next-door neighbors' visitors, lol. We have an elderly couple living next door to us, and lately they have had some younger relatives stopping by to visit on a regular basis. Fine. However, at least two of them smoke: one man and his daughter-in-law. They both stand outside the house to smoke... which I wouldn't worry about except that Mark and I have been finding cigarette butts all around the steps and all over the lawn for the past few weeks. The final straw came yesterday when I found one in our hedge: it's obvious that at least one of the visitors was just flinging the butts any old where they pleased when they were finished inhaling carcinogens.

I was especially ticked at finding the discarded butt in our hedge, since IMO that's a potential fire hazard. Mark was none too happy about it, either. Since today is the neighborhood's annual "Packer Park Cleanup Day", Mark decided to take matters into his own hands. He took a large empty coffee can, labelled it "For cigarette butts", and went next door. He spoke to the man who visits our neighbors, who answered the door. The man apologized and said "Yeah, it must be my daughter-in-law doing that. We'll put them in the can from now on". Then later this morning, Mark was outside our house and the daughter-in-law was there. She told Mark "It must be my father-in-law doing that". LOL, I don't care WHO it was, as long as they discard the mess in the coffee can from now on.

Friday, October 17, 2003

What a difference.

I've now worked two days in this new assignment, and the difference in atmosphere and attitude between this site and the assignment I just left is incredible. The phrase "polar opposites" springs to mind,

It's not just the perks, either (including free coffee and tea, free bagels and soft pretzels, a weekly dry-cleaning pickup/delivery on site, a gym). It's the ATTITUDE of the people.

For example, I nearly tripped yesterday... I didn't even really lose my balance, but I just had an awkward-misstep moment. The receptionist, who witnessed my brief tussle with gravity, asked immediately if I was OK. Meanwhile, at Harridan Hall, a few days before I left, it became known that one of the permanent workers was in the HOSPITAL; the news was greeted with "Oh" by other coworkers, including permanent ones.

Just from looking around the office building, I can see that workers HERE consider this place a "home away from home". People here fill their cubicles with personal mementoes of every sort. I'm still a temp, borrowing the cubicle of someone who's out on medical leave, a fact of which I'm reminded every time I look up and see someone else's family pics looking back at me. But I've been a temp using other people's work space for two years now; I find that the more people want to make their desk/cubicle into THEIR space, the better the morale is in a given place. So far I haven't seen ONE cubicle here without a personal touch in it somewhere, and many of the cubes and offices are adorned with numerous reminders of the employee's personal life. I like that. It's a good sign.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Welcome to my first day in the new, HARRIDAN-FREE job assignment!

At the moment, it's lunchtime, and since I'm not able to connect to the wireless web from here... apparently in this building, the signal isn't strong enough for my device to pick it up... I'll just sit down at the ol' word processor and create a blog post THAT way.

Ironically, this might be the only computer in the whole building that anybody's working on right now, because we are in the midst of a power failure that sent the whole building into darkness about five minutes ago. Everything, and I do mean EVERYthing, appears to be off. It's been so windy for the past day or so, I wouldn't be surprised if a downed tree or something to that effect was the culprit.

In any event, if the electricity Gremlins were going to show up, from where I sit it's just as well that they arrived as I was starting to eat lunch. That way, at least between now and 1 PM it's not going to make any difference to my training whether we have power or not.

On the other hand, the person who is training me was going to attend a seminar during the lunch hour. This could goof that schedule up, at which point it'll be anybody's guess what time my training resumes.

But as far as I can tell, this morning has gone very well. Jeannie V showed me how to input data into the company's computer system, and I took notes while she put the first couple documents in. Then it was my turn, and I was able to work from my notes without any trouble. I input the next two myself and she seemed very pleased with how that turned out. Then came lunchtime, and here I am typing on my handheld PC and being glad that there's a skylight right near this desk so it's not toooo dark in this vicinity.

I just heard someone say that the power failure encompasses all of Cherry Hill, NJ. Dang. That's some blackout.

Wow, btw... in the space of ten minutes, three people have stopped by my desk to make sure I'm OK, and I haven't even worked here for four hours yet. In the entire two months I worked at Harridan Central, I didn't merit that much concern from people who worked there. Shoot, there were still some people who didn't have my NAME right, after all that time... At the end of the day, when I thanked everyone and said that it was my last day on the assignment at Nameless Nationwide Department Store, I got one "Good luck, Debbie" amidst the well-wishes from the few people that responded at all. I am SO glad to be out of that assignment!

On to more pleasant subjects. The past few days have been kind of nice. I forget where I left off writing when I finished my most recent post, and without the ability to get online at the moment I'll just have to wait until I get home to see. For now, I'll just recap the main points...

Thursday night was the Flyers' home opener. Hat Trick and I went, and we had the pleasure of watching Jeff Hackett earn a shutout in his first game as a Flyer. Consider this Goalie Junkie to be WELL pleased. :o)

Actually, I was well pleased before the game even began. Former Phantom/Flyer Andy Delmore is with the Buffalo Sabres now, and it was nice to see him again. When he was here with Nashville a couple seasons ago, he made a point during the pregame skate of noticing all the Phantoms fans gathered around the glass, and doing stretches and stuff in front of each of them for a while. :o) I love the way he acknowledges the people who "knew him when", in the years before he made it to the NHL. But it's been nearly two years since that visit -- Nashville didn't visit here last season -- and on top of that, thanks to traffic I didn't get to the pregame skate until about five minutes before it ended. I did manage to get a position down by the glass, but I wondered if he'd even notice my late arrival, much less remember me. I needn't have worried. Toward the end of the pregame skate... bless him for always being one of the last guys to leave the ice... he was going through his normal pregame stuff when suddenly he caught sight of me and broke into a big grin. :o) Yep, he remembered. And this is WHY he still has, and probably always WILL have, a crowd of Phantoms fans around the glass watching him during the warmups, no matter what team he belongs to: because he still shows appreciation for the support, years after the fact.

Friday night was the Phantoms' home opener. We came out very strong vs. the Binghamton Senators, and I thought that we were on our way to a win. Apparently, so did the Phantoms, and unfortunately they let the baby Sens back into the game. Bingo responded by taking the lead and winning. I could see by Neil Little's body language that he was aggravated when he let the second goal in, and REALLY ticked about the third one that got by him. I felt bad for him. But the rest of the team joined him in making a play here and there that they probably would like to have back. Such is life. Neil was in goal on the following two nights, as well, and he was flat-out solid. He won our road game in Bridgeport on Saturday night, then came home on Sunday and got a shutout :o)! I can't begin to tell you how I love watching my alpha goalie hand a goose egg to the opponent, especially when the other team is a big divisional rival like Norfolk. Needless to say, I was quite proud of him.

After Sunday's game, I had a little unexpected adventure. For starters, I'm gonna swat the postgame radio interviewer. LOL...

I presume at least some of this interview will eventually end up on David Unkle's program, because he does a biweekly Phantoms thing every other Tuesday afternoon. He interviewed Ben Stafford in Bullies after Sunday night's game. (Bullies is the restaurant/bar attached to the Spectrum.) Well, right at the end of the interview, doesn't the radio guy tell Ben, "Did you know there's a website with a 'Separated at Birth' showing Ben Stafford and a Rugged Rusty doll?"

I almost fell off my chair. THAT'S MY PHOTO SITE! I think I can count on ONE hand the number of people I've told about that site! Apparently it must have come up in a Google search for Ben's name.

LMHO... and in case you're wondering... go to http://gabey8.fotopages.com , head for the July 26 post, and judge for yourself if I'm right.

I brought it up on the wireless PC to show Karla, who was sitting at the same table with me, and after the interview Ben Stafford himself came over to see. Along with his g/f, the PR lady from the Phantoms front office, and a bunch of fans who had to take a look. OMG, lol... for the record, Ben's girlfriend, Melissa the PR lady, and a majority of fans think Ben and the doll look alike, although Ben himself disagreed.

I'm still halfway between laughing out loud and ready to die of embarrassment. I never expected anybody, outside of the people I KNOW and actually GAVE the URL to, to see that site! Much less a radio guy and Ben himself!

But what's even funnier is that over the summer, I actually BOUGHT a Rugged Rusty doll, a Teeny Beanie Bopper version, to give to Ben *because* I thought it looks so much like him. I had it at home and was waiting for the right time to present it to him. Even before David Unkle mentioned my little photo site, I'd figured that the Season Ticket Holder's "Meet and Greet" event, slated to take place on Tuesday 10/14, would be as good a time as any.

So, let's fast-forward to the Meet and Greet, shall we? I brought the Sacred Autograph Book... the sketch book I've been collecting autographs in since 1997... and got the signatures of the entire team other than Boyd Kane, who was called up to the Flyers earlier in the afternoon. I got to congratulate Neil on his shutout... and yet again, I got a smile out of watching Neil's reaction when he realized Mark and I were the next in the line of fans. :o) He's another one who never forgets a show of support, a trait of his which I admire at least as much as I do his accomplishments on the ice.

At the end of the event, Mark and I were among the fans who were still there. I'd wanted to catch Ben as he was leaving, so I could give him his little twin without the entire team seeing me do it. And of course, guess who was the LAST guy to leave? LOL. A couple of young fans were chatting with Ben, so I just waited my turn. I figured it was just as well he's gregarious, since the fewer teammates were around to make jokes if they saw me give him the doll, the better.

I called him over, and he grinned when he saw little Rusty. "Is that it? Can I see?" I handed him the doll, and he promptly started reading the little heart-shaped Ty ID tag, wherein it mentioned Rugged Rusty's name, birthdate, and favorite things.

"It says here he likes basketball", Ben noted.

"Well, that's OK, brothers don't always do everything alike", I answered.

He looked ready to laugh. (Personally, I had the impression that he was more convinced of the resemblance after seeing the actual doll than he'd been after viewing the thumbnail pic on a computer screen.) "Where did you GET this?", he finally blurted out.

"Lancaster, over the summer,".

"Well, that's pretty cool", he said, and started to hand me the doll.

"Oh, no, he's yours", I explained. (It never dawned on me he'd think I was only *showing* Rusty to him.)

"He is?" Ben looked surprised and pleased.

Mark chimed in: "Don't worry, she has another one at home". (At which point Mark got a swat on the arm.)

"Well, thanks! Thank you very much", said Ben, and then we all headed for the exit.

As for my wondering how a professional hockey player would react to being given a doll for a present? I needn't have worried. As Mark and I were walking out, I noticed that the first thing Ben did was show it to some of our front office/PR people who were collecting the decorations, pocket schedules, etc from the tables. "Look at this, can you believe it?"

LOL.... :o)

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Well, it's been an eventful week. Unfortunately, I've been under the weather for almost all of it, so I didn't write much about it until now.

THANK GOD, the temp opportunity that Karla submitted my resume for some weeks ago has become available again. It's in the company where she works, and its job content is a LOT more along the lines of the office-support work that I would prefer to be doing. Plus, according to her, the atmosphere in this company is a million times nicer than the general vibe of the place where I'm working now.

To make a VERY long story short, after playing a bit of phone and e-mail tag with the lady who is looking to fill the position, I gave my notice to my temp service regarding the assignment at Nameless Nationwide Department Store and will be starting at the new position on Wednesday. The pay is a tiny bit lower, and the hours are a slightly shorter (a 7-hour day as opposed to an 8.5-hour day), but you know what? The extra bit I'm earning at Harridan Central is nowhere near enough combat pay to preserve what's left of my sanity. This job in the calling center is working my nerves, my morale, and my digestive tract because everything about it is so stressful. The commute is frightful, the job content is murder, and the people are still just as backbiting as ever. So I will be MORE than pleased to take the pay cut and shift on over to this new place, which is less than half the distance from my home. PLUS it has the possibility of becoming a temp-to-hire position, which I really like.

So, that's good. Thank God for giant favors, it seems like something is finally about to go RIGHT for me, job-wise, for the first time since the downsizing two and a half years ago.

In other news... that long post I'd planned to write last week was about my first time cantoring in my friend Joe M's church.

I sang at the parish where I grew up for close to 20 years, starting in 1980 when I was in high school and only ending when the new music director came in and pretty much dissolved the non-choir music ministry. The parish still has a choir, but the other parish music group, the one I belonged to, is no more. Fortunately, that was almost exactly at the time that we started to have ASL-interpreted Masses at my parish, so I just shifted from participating in music to assisting with the interpreting (and eventually taking over the duties once a month when the original 'terp left).

To make a long story short, between the music and the interpreting, standing in front of a congregation is not new to me. Even so, being the CANTOR at a Mass, the person who not only leads the singing but also cues the congregation to sing, was something I hadn't done before, and I did have a bit of nerves prior to the Mass. So much so that I had an "old habits die hard" moment when I went to teach the congregation the psalm.

Back in the Day, when I was playing guitar at Epiphany, we had the 10:30 AM Mass. So, prior to the Mass, of course, I would greet the people with "Good morning". Last week, when I sang at Joe M's church, it was for a Saturday EVENING Mass. As in, 5:30 PM. Guess what I said, without even realizing it, into the microphone last week? Yep. "Good morning!" LOL. Only when a few people got a smile out of it did I realize what I'd said. Oh, well... just as well that I got my brain cramp out of the way first thing, so I could forget about Being Perfect and just sing the Mass.

I think it went OK for a first time. I can think of some things I had a little trouble on, but for the most part I think it went all right. Nobody threw anything at me, anyway. ;o) And at least that congregation sings their hearts out... and I do mean they SING. LOUDLY. Which I really like. There's nothing more gratifying than leading a congregation singing and having them actually sing loudly enough that you can hear them over your own voice. That's when you know they're REALLY involved with the music, and with the Mass itself... and that's what the whole purpose of standing up there is.

OK, that's enough writing for now. I still have some stuff that happened TODAY that I'd like to post, but I'm so tired that I'll close this post now and write the other things later.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Oh, hiss... I had this nice long post all written out, but I lost the whole blooming thing when the system had a hiccup.

That will teach me to compose long posts in the blogger window instead of on a word processor.

This is a placeholder for the day I spent singing at Joe M's church... I'm exhausted and will have to rewrite the post later.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Well, apparently I'm not the only one who has noticed the backbiting going on around here. Two people who are above my boss brought EVERYONE into the conference room, in small groups, to inform EVERYONE that there have been reported instances of name-calling, hostility, and harassment. They reminded each group that Nameless Nationwide Department Store, as an employer, does not tolerate such behavior. They ended on an amiable note -- "We know it's been a long summer, everyone just turn it down a notch" -- but I hope like heck that the point has gotten across to everyone in BOTH departments.

All I ask for is to come in, do my work, treat/be treated by people with respect, and go home. I think that's more than reasonable. Now let's see if the little group meetings with everyone bring the atmosphere in this place closer to a situation where I can actually HAVE what I'm asking for.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Morning break...

Good grief. It's not bad enough I have to deal with snide people in here during the workday. Last night I actually DREAMED that I was dealing with the snide people in here during a workday. Talk about there being no rest for the weary, even in my freakin' SLEEP I can't get the heck away from them. GRRRR...

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Yay, hooray! Live hockey at last! :o) The Phantoms beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the NE Philadelphia Skate Zone 3-0 this afternoon. Antero Niittymaki was in goal, and I was darn proud of our baby goalie. :o)

Come to think of it, the LAST time Antero played a preseason game at the Skate Zone in NE Philly, he blanked the opponent, too. Good boy, Niitty, keep up the great work!

We have some guys trying out with the Phantoms who I hope we keep. One is a fellow named Robert Snowball. Now if that isn't a cool hockey name, what is? (Though we already had THE ultimate hockey name a few years ago, in the form of a guy named Darren Rumble. Hee hee!)
Anyway, Snowball got into a couple of dustups out there. I was trying SO hard not to make the pun, "Oh, look, a Snowball fight", but it didn't matter because the guy sitting behind me said it. LOL. Here's hoping we find a place on the team for him.

Oh, we also have a local kid, James Laux, vying for a place on the team. He's from Cherry Hill, NJ, and according to the bio information, he was born in Philly. He scored our third goal, and there was one particular group of fans who were VERY loud in their applause. I think it was his family and friends. :o) He's another one I hope makes the team. It would be really cool to have a guy who grew up as a Flyers fan playing pro hockey in the Flyers organ-eye-zation.

The only minor bummer was that Neil Little wasn't on hand at all. We had another netminder, Chris Houle, as our backup. We brought Houle on board during the preseason, and I'm wondering if he's going to be our fifth goalie on the depth chart during the regular season. Time will tell. Time certainly told why Neil wasn't on hand for this game; when I watched the Flyers preseason game this evening, they said that Flyers backup Robert Esche had a minor injury. Neil was up with the Flyers as the backup tonight. There was even a glimpse or two of him on the bench... well, if I can't see my Alpha Goalie in person with the Phantoms, a sighting of him in a Flyers jersey will do.

Unfortunately, the Flyers didn't emulate their farm team; they lost 4-2 to New Jersey.

We had some bizarre weather today... at any given moment, it could sunny (through gaps in the cloud cover), overcast, drizzling, or pouring rain. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was in Torrential Downpour Mode while we were on I-95 driving to the Skate Zone. UGH, visibility was absolutely awful! Fortunately, the worst of the rain didn't last long; it eased up to just a normal heavy rainfall soon. Even so, I can't figure out why the idiot with the convertible was driving with his top down. I told Mark, "Remember David Letterman's 'Stupid Pet Tricks' and 'Stupid Human Tricks'? This is Stupid Driver Tricks."

I'm really looking forward to the start of the regular season. I've missed hockey a lot. For now, I'm just glad to have survived another offseason. ;o)
I saw the Phantoms ad again this morning. :o) It came on during Comcast SportsRise. You can clearly see both Barb (my fellow fan and the person who told me they needed people to play fans in a TV commercial) and me on there. I presume it's going to be aired at least once during the Flyers preseason game which is being televised tonight, so I'm taping the game.

This afternoon, the Phantoms are playing a preseason game at the Skate Zone in NE Philly. Mark and Hat Trick :o) and I are going. Finally, a live hockey game!!! It'll be the first time I've attended a game since April, when we went to a Kelly Cup Finals game (ECHL championship) in Atlantic City.

The offseason is finally over! Thank the Lord!

Friday, September 26, 2003

Whew, what a morning! The traffic was hideous. Within ten minutes of leaving my house -- by which time I had already gone a few miles on the Schuylkill Expressway -- I heard on the radio that the Expressway was completely closed in both directions, because of a serious accident that took place on the wesbound side (which I use to get to work), a couple miles prior to where I exit. The DJ said, and I quote, "If you're on the Expressway, your best bet is to get off NOW". I was just reaching the 30th Street exit (this would be about 5 miles from my home) and I got off immediately. Even though this meant backtracking, and then adding 11 miles to my commute into the bargain, I headed toward I-95 South so I could completely avoid the Expressway.

Within the past couple of weeks, a different accident that closed the westbound lanes had the same detour that they were suggesting on the radio this morning, and as I recall, *those* roads were congested to the point of standstill almost right away. I figured that it'd take less time, and cause fewer ulcers, to drive the extra distance and avoid the traffic tieups on both the Expressway and the suggested alternate route. I was right... I only arrived 1/2 hour late to work. If I'd tried to follow the suggested detour, I'm certain I'd have arrived even later. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to phone ahead to the manager at work and explain that I was detouring to avoid the traffic accident that'd closed the Expressway, so he was aware of the problem and understanding about it. (Thank God for cell phones.)

On my somewhat prolonged trip to Norristown, I got to hear the news reports of WHY the roads were fouled up. There'd been a five-vehicle accident involving three cars, a pickup truck, and a tractor trailor on the westbound side of the Expressway (which I use to go in to work). The eastbound lanes were also closed, so that two Medivac helicopters could bring injured people to a hospital.

I wish this job was easily accessible by SEPTA. In order to get to work by 8 am, I would have to catch the first of three connections (bus, regional rail line, bus) at 5:45 AM. Um, no thanks. That's way too early for me. Instead, I drive there, and use the time I saved to look for something closer to home on careerbuilder.com.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

The more I pay attention, the more I realize that SOME of the permanent workers are flat-out snubbing the temps. It's to the point where if that group is all laughing and joking, if a temp chimes in, they all go dead silent. I hasten to add that this is NOT all the permanent workers, but only a particular subset of the permanent employees. I already noticed this happening to a few other people, but today I saw that I'm now added to the list. I wonder if any of them have guilty consciences, because I'm sure they're aware that Little Miss Pseudo-Helpful blew what little was left of their cover yesterday. If they cared enough to wonder how much I knew about their behavior, now they KNOW I know.

So be it... that's THEIR loss, not mine. Looks like I'll have to pare down that list of non-work-related discussion topics. The nice people will still get "Hello, goodbye, the weather, and everyone's health". The rest of them will just get "Hello, goodbye"... they won't miss MY input, and I sure as heck won't miss theirs (or, more accurately, their lack of input).

In other news, there's a particular customer whose refrigerator repair has had to be rescheduled twice. As ill luck would have it, I was the one that had to inform her of this both times. She was scheduled to get the repair done today; unfortunately, the operative word in that sentence is "was". The technician ran into a delay and sent back his last few service orders to be rescheduled. This left me with the unhappy task of having to call this woman yet again to tell her we had to reschedule the appointment.

The moment I told her who I was and why I'd called, she hung up on me without saying a single word. About a half-hour later, one of the customer service reps (who are in an adjacent room) handed me a note. She said, "This customer insists that you never call her again. I nearly laughed in her ear". I looked up the service order on the note, and what do you know? It was the lady who hung up on me. I burst out laughing. So now there's one less Harridan I have to call... I can't even BEGIN to tell you how fine I am with THAT situation. LOL... people are crazy. ;o)
GOOD GRIEF. Little Miss Pseudo-Helpful really got under the skin of the rest of the coworkers after I left. Two of the highlights were that she told one person "You're shallow" and told another person "Maybe you should change your deodorant". Were they ever ranting about her when I came in this morning (her shift begins in the afternoon, about the time my lunch break ends). There are a few people in this office who are flat-out furious with her.

This person is an instigator, plain and simple. I don't know what she's trying to accomplish, or why... from where I sit, her behavior appears more self-destructive than anything else. But I'm not going to try and figure it out. I have work to do when I'm under this roof.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Ironically, no sooner did I return from the afternoon break during which I wrote the above post, than one of the other temp workers... someone whom I've seen lampooned mercilessly by the abovementioned gossips... and also someone whom I've seen deliberately "stir the soup" and try to get a rise out of people... was helpfully talking to people she'd heard gossiped about behind their backs. So I found out just which of my foibles are the ones that the office backbiters use for fodder. All she did was confirm my suspicions, as it happens... I figured that the day I had digestive-system rebellion, which happened during my first week on this assignment, would be as good of a target as anything else for them to choose, and I was right. (God forbid any of them should give me credit for working like a dog that day when I darned well ought to have gone home sick, oh, no, let's make fun of the person for being sick instead.)

Here's the thing: I don't know if her motive was an actual attempt to be helpful or, considering how I've seen her behave towards others, if it was an attempt to set me off on a rampage and get me hollering at the coworkers who were the guilty parties. I have already watched her say some outrageous things to people which could have had no other motive but to get under their skin, so why should I be exempted from the same treatment?

In any event, I went to grade school (which I refer to as hell-imentary school) and high school for years with bullies who make this bunch of gossips and backbiters look like canonized saints. I learned YEARS ago how NOT to respond to people who are trying to get a rise out of me. I already touched on this topic weeks ago when I wrote about grieving for Dolores, and how I have a deep-rooted psychological barrier against crying in front of people. That barrier is very rarely breached, because it was built when my age was in single digits and I was being confronted by said school bullies all day, every day. I also learned the "I don't see you, I don't hear you, did you say something? I didn't notice" straight-faced response to snide remarks.

This is why I was able to look this "helpful" person right in the eye and, with a straight face and a level voice, say "Yes, that did happen" when she approached me and repeated some of the culprits' comments right to my face. She looked floored. She looked even more astonished when I told her I was aware of what was going on. I had pretty much guessed who was most likely talking (the coworkers whom I gave a Harridan of the Day award a few posts ago), and what was probably being said. I reached my conclusion weeks ago; all she did was confirm it.

So if she actually thought she was doing the right thing, her conscience is clear. On the other hand, if her real motive was to create dissent -- and judging from how I've watched her treat some other people, it's not at all unreasonable to think that was her real goal today -- she also knows that she's going to have to target someone else if she wants to get under someone's skin. I'm not taking the gossips' bait and I'm not taking HER bait, either.

Have I mentioned enough times in the past two days that I wouldn't trust most of these people as far as I could throw them? Hello, goodbye, the weather and everyone's health. Besides work-related conversation, that's about all any of them will be hearing from me. That goes for the decent ones, too, of which there are a few. It's an open office, where everyone can see and hear everyone else, and talking about my life to the decent ones will only present the backbiters with the same information... and believe me, the backbiters in this place are NOT welcome to the details of my personal life.
GEESH, but it's been years since I've seen such a group of back-biting gossips as the people in this office. I haven't had to deal with behavior like this since I was in my teens.There are a lot of people on varying schedules, so that there is always a relatively full compliment of employees who are in the office at any given time, so nearly everyone whose schedule overlaps with mine is here either before the arrival/after the departure of nearly anyone else. I've seen the way people get insulted and gossiped about when they're not present, and I don't think ANYone is immune to this treatment. I can imagine what they say about ME when I'm not there.

At least I've seen everyone's true colors, so I know better than to trust anyone here to be a friend. Hello, goodbye, the weather and everyone's health will pretty much be the only topics I'll willingly discuss under THIS roof. And even THEN, if I can just sit and do my work and keep to myself, I'd MUCH rather do that instead... I'm dedicated to interacting with people here just the bare minimum that I have to, to avoid being labelled "antisocial".

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

This morning I was ready to nominate Mother Nature for the Harridan of the Day award. The rush hour took place during a torrential downpour. Visibility was absolutely terrible and a surprising (to me) amount of the Schuylkill Expressway's surface was covered by puddles of water. I thought it had better drainage than that! Then again, the rain was coming down so hard, maybe NO amount of drainage would have been enough.

As if that wasn't enough, I arrived at work (after taking over an hour for a commute that should have taken 40 minutes) to find a message screen that was backed up from here to the next time zone with a queue of messages. Techs were writing in to report traffic jams, downed trees, power failures, accidents, closed roads, and detours caused by the weather, and that wasn't even the worst of it! Late this morning, we started getting reports that a tornado had gone through Havertown, a suburb where at least one calling center employee lives. Ugh. Mornings like this are why the companies that make aspirin and antacids will never go out of business.

Today, I went to track down Joe M's service order number for his refrigerator, and found that it'd been cancelled. The reason given for the cancellation was that the customer had gotten another service to do the repair, so I'll have to ask him about that tonight at choir practice. I guess I don't have to worry about whether he's planning to try out for the Harridan of the Day after all. ;o)

Tomorrow morning is the deceased tech's funeral. :o( There are a lot of technicians who will be in attendance, so I suspect we will be rescheduling a LOT of service orders later tomorrow. I hope the customers are understanding about it. It's going to be a sad enough day tomorrow as it is.

Monday, September 22, 2003

OK, it took me until the final phone call before leaving for the night, but I got my Harridan of the Day nominee.

This would be the lady who, on being told that the tech that'd been slated to work on her refrigerator was delayed at a previous assignment and we had to reschedule, first said "Well, I already had someone else come fix it", but when I asked if that meant she wanted to cancel the service order, she vehemently said "No!"

Um, OK... so when I gave her the next available date that a tech could come out, I didn't worry about the fact that it was a couple weeks from now. I mean, she DID just say that someone else fixed her fridge, didn't she? Well, this didn't stop her from blowing a gasket. "WHAT! I waited all day!"

I looked at her service order and saw she was full of hot air. "Yes, ma'am, I can see you were waiting from 12 to 4".

She was not mollified. "Well IF I HAD been waiting from 8-12, and IF I HAD been waiting from 12-4, I would have wasted the whole day!"

What? In *my* dialect of English, when I say "if I had" waited, it means that I did NOT wait. So unless I miss my guess, she was NOT waiting all day, and yet she was yelling at me as if she had. Fine, I'd play along.

"Let me give you the 800 number for customer service..."

"Yeah, 1-800-FULL-OF-CR@P!"

I'll never know how I didn't burst out laughing in her ear. I apparently have more self-control than I gave myself credit for.

She wasn't done. "I want YOUR BADGE NUMBER and I want to speak to your manager".

"Ma'am, I haven't GOT a badge number..."

"YOU'RE LYING!!!!!"

"I'm *not* lying. I'm a temp worker, they brought several of us on board here because the office was swamped with work".

"Fine, I want your badge number".

"I don't HAVE a badge number."

"Then I want to speak to your manager."

"1-800..."

"I said I WANT TO SPEAK TO YOUR MANAGER!!!!"

"He's GONE for the day." (Which he was; it was after 5 PM. He comes in at the crack of dawn and leaves early.) "Even if he weren't, I'm only able to give you the number for customer service".

"What's YOUR name?"

"Donna."

"What's your badge number?"

"I don't HAVE a badge number. Ma'am, do you want to reschedule this appointment?"

*click* ... :::dial tone:::

To the dial tone, I mused, "I guess not". I summarized all this in the notes on the service order, because I have no doubt she'll track down the Customer Service number and call them. Freaking grouch. HER phone number should be 1-800-HARRIDAN.

P.S. I was relatively nice to her. When I wrote up the details, I omitted her rendition of our 800 number. ;o)