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...