Thursday, April 28, 2005

This afternoon, I went out to get some white socks for work.

It's not that I don't own white socks. It's just that compared to the brand-new white sneakers that I ALSO just got for work, none of the socks I already have quite match up in the "new-looking" category. Even the newest of the pairs I already have don't compare favorably to the bright-white new footwear.

So I figured, heck. Brand-new scrubs. Brand-new sneakers. Might as well have brand-new EVERYTHING and make a nice, fresh start, right?

With that in mind, off I went to BJ's. I found a nice parking place not far from the store entrance.

Well, I THOUGHT it was nice. Except for the silver giant-sized SUV parked with its tires ON THE DIVIDING LINE of the adjacent parking spot.

Belatedly, I realized that I didn't have the entire parking space to work with, because the mega-car was taking up part of what should have been a completely empty space. "Good thing my vehicle is so small", I thought, as I sqeezed my little car into the remaining open area as best I could. But when I opened my car door, it tapped the door of the giant SUV.

A woman in the passenger seat of said SUV went ballistic. "THIS IS A BRAND NEW CAR!!!", as she came out and made a great show of inspecting the NON-damage. I barely touched her freakin' monster-sized door (a door which is bigger than my whole car, I hasten to add). The only sign of anything on her door was the splashes of mud that came from her own driving through, well, mud. My Hot-Wheels-sized car left no mark on her mammoth one.

I bit my tongue. I actually did have to think to myself, "What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do?" to keep from responding in kind. Particularly as I forced myself to squeeeeze out of a HALF-opened car door, just to make perfectly sure that my ordinary car didn't sully the personal space of her monster truck again. You can imagine how much my back spasms, which have been acting up mightily during the past couple of weeks, really appreciated that maneuver. :oP

Anyhow, I'm thinking that Jesus would NOT have answered her back with, "You geometrically-challenged, ignorant, drama-queen harridan. If your ultra-large, gas-guzzling, Bin-Laden-enriching conspicuous-consumption behemoth hadn't been parked with its tires ON the dividing line, maybe I could have opened my door without it coming anywhere near your environmentally unfriendly, fossil-fuel-wasting ego machine. And by the way, your lawyer will be hearing from my chiropractor. I hurt my back while getting out of my car in the 6" of space you thoughtfully forgot to deprive me of".

Yeah, I'm reasonably sure that Jesus wouldn't have offered up that particular set of observations as His response. So I just kept my mouth shut and let her rant and complain her way back into her passenger seat. Then I went in the store and bought my socks.

Thank goodness, by the time I finished my purchase, Ms. Bucketmouth and her giant car were gone. I wasn't looking forward to getting back INTO my car using the same miniscule amount of space as I'd had available to me when I got out.

Anyhow, I just needed to vent about that. Nasty people are annoying.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Phantoms' first playoff game of the season is in the books. We defeated the Norfolk Admirals, 3-1. This was the first game of a best-of-seven series. We have home ice advantage, but the games will be played in a 2-3-2 pattern. Tomorrow night is our second game, so we had BETTER focus on winning it. The last thing this team needs is to head to Norfolk for the next three games with the series tied 1-1.

I'm very proud of how the team came back to win after falling behind 1-0. They really, really buckled down. Not that they gave a less than full effort during the regular season, mind you, but tonight their full effort seemed several notches more intense.

I give the Phantoms the edge in this series, but in order to win, we're going to have to bring our A game every night. We had a more successful season and we're healthier overall [KNOCK WOOD] than Norfolk, and IMO those factors skew the odds in our favor a bit.
But I guarantee you that Norfolk is not going to go away quietly. So we're going to have to EARN wins in this series -- Norfolk's certainly not going to give any ground without a battle.

The winner of this series will have to face either Binghamton or Wilkes-Barre. Ugh. Those two teams BOTH gave us fits all freakin' year. I hope they have a 7-game series with multiple OTs every freakin' night. ;o) Or shall I say that I wish them the same sort of physical first round that we had last year (vs. Norfolk, incidentally), that left us all kinds of worn down when we faced our next opponent. And may we be the team that's fresher and healthier going into the second round, this year, instead of the exhausted, black-and-blue, walking-wounded team. That's not asking too much, is it? ;o)

Somehow, I have a feeling that even if Bingo and W-B wallop the living daylights out of one another, our own path to the next round will involve compiling an impressive collection of bruises of our own. Norfolk is a physical team, and so are we. Beating them will mean withstanding whatever they can throw at us. That will be no mean feat.

Go, Phantoms -- win on Saturday, too! :o)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I got the job-offer letter today. :o)

I saw it was in with our mail, after I returned from my second visit to the Occupational Medicine department this week. On Monday, I had to fill out some paperwork, get the TB test, and have my blood drawn so they could test it for immunity to measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox. (I think that's all.)

Today, I had to go back and show them the arm that they did the TB test on, to prove that it hadn't reacted to the test.

Once I was done, I realized that I was not toooooo far from where Joe M's day job is. It was 11:45 AM, so I called him to find out what he was doing for lunch, as it's his birthday. To make a long story less long, he'd planned to go to lunch at noon, so I walked to meet him for lunch and then we visited a Chinese buffet that was nearby.

So that was nice. And I'm glad that I got to see him for lunch -- A) it's his birthday and B) I'd have hated to have to head all the way out to Occupational Medicine for a less-than-two-minute-long followup exam. Well, the other important thing was that I got the paper signed by the doctor that I'd come through the tests fine.

Or, at least, I'd come through the tests that they have results for. They're still waiting for some of the labwork from the blood test I had on Monday. I'm not worried. I know for a fact that I've already had mumps (both sides) and chicken pox, and I've had the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. I also had a booster shot for measles a few years later. Oh, and I also had the smallpox vaccine when I was an infant. So they should be able to figure all that out when they take a look at the blood sample I gave them. Between that, and the negative TB test, all should be well. (Oh, and the drug test, too -- I *know* there'll be no problem with THAT. The only things I take are my prescriptions, none of which should register as a problem on a drug test.)

So... I have all the tests taken care of, I have my scrubs, I have my job-offer letter. I'm all set.

I wish I could report to work sooner than May 2. I am SOOOO ready to start.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Habemus Papum. Boy, that was fast.

Cardinal Josef Ratzinger was elected Pope on the second day of the Conclave. He chose the name Pope Benedict XVI.

I know he was John Paul II's right hand man during his papacy, but I still wonder if the new Pope is going to continue the outreach that JPII made to other faiths and to Catholics around the world.

If he doesn't keep the channels open between faiths and countries, I'll be sorely disappointed.

I'm surprised that they picked a 78-year-old. If John Paul II had survived another two years, Ratzinger couldn't even have attended the conclave, never mind voted in it. I suppose he COULD have been elected, as technically any baptized Catholic male can be picked. I'm not even sure they're REQUIRED to choose a priest, never mind a cardinal. But the age limit for cardinals taking part in the conclave is 80.

It makes me sincerely wonder why they chose a Pope who is of an age where they're likely to be meeting in conclave again sooner, rather than later. And all these descriptions of Benedict XVI as "hardline" conservative, and predictions that he'll undo all of Vatican II, though I think that's a bit of an extreme thing to say, make me uneasy.

But as for me... I'm responsible to live the same kind of life today as I was yesterday, as I was a few weeks ago when John Paul II was still living, and as I was prior to Cardinal Wojtyla's election to the papacy. The fact that one individual or another is leading the Church doesn't alter what God expects of ME one iota. So I'll keep right on doing what I've been doing. And I pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance for the new Pope, since the responsibility of leading 1 billion Catholics is beyond immense.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Part of receiving a job offer from my soon-to-be employer, which I'll dub Local Teaching Hospital/University, is that the prospective employee must take a drug test within 48 hours of the job offer. That means that I had from yesterday through Friday to get the test done.

The HR department provided me with a list of the closest labs to my home ZIP code. The closest one of all is at Broad and Tasker Streets in South Philly. There's a subway stop literally right there; one of the subway exits is only a few feet from the lab's front door. SEPTA's looming labor dispute has been put on hold; the union and SEPTA agreed to a 60-day extension of their current contract. So the strike that might have begun at midnight tonight will now be postponed, at worst, and avoided entirely, at best.

This afternoon, I walked to the nearest subway station to here, which is about 6 long blocks away, and took the subway to the lab on Broad Street. Within a few minutes, all was taken care of, and I am now one step closer to being a full-time employee again. :o)

My next step will take place on Monday, when I have the pre-hire medical exam scheduled. Since I have no idea where my immunization records are, at the moment, this is going to involve my giving them some blood so they can test to be sure I'm vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox. It's also required for me to take a TB test, as it is for all employees of the health care system. Fine. All that good stuff happens on Monday morning.

Then I'll walk over to the store that's about a mile from where I'm getting the exam, the one that's about a block from the HR office. I have to purchase scrubs, which is the uniform for everyone who works on this site. Heck, that's BEYOND being fine by me. I went to parochial school and wore a uniform for 12 years, and believe me, I MISS it. It made my life SO much easier to just sleepwalk over to the closet and haul out a uniform -- no decision-making required. Once I went to college and into the workforce, and all of a sudden I had to actually be functional enough in the morning to choose something that was appropriate to wear, I sorely missed wearing a uniform. Hoo-freakin'-ray, I can go back to dressing while on auto-pilot! :o)

We even have a choice of only one (1) color of scrubs to wear. So even THAT amount of decision-making has already been eliminated. Rest assured, the fewer things I have to think about when I first get up in the morning, the better. It's all good.

I do have to find out if there's any particular type of shoe that's required to be worn, though. If not, it's about time I get myself a new pair of sneakers anyway; I'll get one that'll look nice with the scrubs and consider myself ready for work.

I am SO ready for this job to start. I can't begin to render it in words.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

HALLELUJAH! FINALLY!

In the past four weeks, I've had interviews with three different companies. This morning, I got a job offer from one of them!

Starting on May 2, I will be a Patient Services Representative at one of the local teaching hospitals. In the interest of confidentiality, I'd probably be better off not saying for which department, since I've seen news articles in recent months where people lost jobs for disclosing work-related things on blogs.

But what I CAN say is that I found out about the job because one of Joe M's many cousins works there. She told him about the opening, he told ME about it and gave me the link where I could apply online, and I did. I was hoping that this particular job would pan out, because this one was the first company in a while that called me back for a second interview. (The last place that had me back for a second interview was Cigna, four years ago. Shortly thereafter, they had budget cuts and instituted a hiring freeze. Argh.) But I didn't want to get my hopes up, since I've been disappointed multiple times in the past few years. I didn't even blog about any of the interviews; it's too draining to feel obliged to post how it panned out when things don't go the way one wants them to.

Anyway, HAPPY NEW YEAR, and it's jolly well about time I could post some good news on here. :o)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Captain and Stanley both LOVE interactive wand-style kitty toys. Captain, in particular, goes nuts for the ones that look like a miniature feather-duster attached to a long wand. He completely de-feathered the first one I gave them by constantly playing, stalking, and fighting with it.

So, as their birthday was last Friday, we bought a few more wand toys for them (which will be doled out in sequence, so they're not all mauled to bits at once). Two of the wand toys are the feather-duster style, and two other wands are adorned with non-feather items that (I hope) will last a bit longer.

The first toy to be pressed into service was one of the feather-wands. The boys love it, of course. They can't get enough of chasing it. And when Captain wants to play, he doesn't even wait for one of us to wave the toy for him. He'll stalk it and "kill" it and carry it around by the bottom of
the featherduster. He looks for all the world like a leopard carrying his kill by the nape of the neck, who's about to haul his prey up a tree. :o)

Last night, I was in our computer room on the second floor, when I heard a bunch of bonking and clunking emanating from the living room downstairs. Wondering what the cats had gotten into THIS time, I made my way down the steps to see what was going on.

At first, I thought Captain was carrying his featherduster around by the "nape" of its "neck", as he was walking all round the front of the living room with his prize. But then when he turned to walk TOWARD me, I saw that he wasn't holding it in his mouth.

Somehow, when he wrestled with the toy, he got the wand all the way through the link on his collar that holds the ID tag. He was walking around with the wand toy installed under his throat, like the pictures of the St. Bernard dogs carrying their cask of brandy on their collar. The
bonking and clunking was being caused by the wand bumping into various pieces of furniture as Captain walked past.

Keeping myself from laughing aloud at this sight quickly became a losing battle. The >snorfle< became a "hee hee", which gave way to belly laughs in short order. I couldn't help it.

An annoyed Captain proceeded to run away from me when I tried to pick him up and disengage the wand toy from his collar. In the process, the handle bonked and clunked against more furniture, which only inspired me to laugh even more. Finally, I got hold of him long enough to haul the toy clear of his collar. By way of apology for laughing about his predicament, I had
a good chase session with him, and waved the toy all over creation so he could stampede in pursuit of it.

But I wasn't laughing AT him. I was laughing WITH him. Honest. :o)

Saturday, April 09, 2005

I wish I'd thought of this WEEKS ago.

There's been an issue recently because Stanley has INSISTED on trying to claw my stereo speakers. Unlike Captain, who responded to my carrying him to the scratch post and showing him how to use it, Stanley's been more insistent on using the stereo speakers to sharpen his claws.

A solution finally dawned on me this morning.

The stereo has a remote control that can be used to power it on and off, adjust the volume, etc.

So I set the stereo on "tuner", so it would play the radio upon being powered on. Then I turned it off, and cranked the volume knob WAY up.

The result is that when the stereo is powered on, it's going to abruptly start blasting music at a stupendously loud volume.

Stanley happened to walk by when I tested this theory. I only kept the ***BLARING LOUD MUSIC*** on for a moment, so as not to disturb the neighbors. But it certainly attracted Stanley's attention (which wasn't my intent).

Stanley went over to the stereo speaker and tentatively touched it with his paw.

I pressed the power button on the remote.

The speaker started to ***BLARE LOUD MUSIC*** immediately. Stanley stood there for about half a second, then scooted around a corner to get away from the noise. I turned off the stereo the moment he left it alone.

EVERY time he tries to sharpen his claws on the stereo, it's going to ***BLARE LOUD MUSIC*** until he learns to leave it alone. (Which I hope will be soon, because we do live in a row house and I don't want to disturb the neighbors.)

As I said, I wish I'd thought of this WEEKS ago. I'll keep encouraging him to claw the carpet-covered kitty tower, too, so he can sharpen his claws on something legally. But the stereo is off-limits, and the sooner that lesson is learned, the better.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Right now, I have the BBC World Service cybercast on my computer. (Hooray, the freakin' sound card has decided to revive itself over the past few weeks. Here's hoping it keeps working.)

It's been a surreal few days for anyone who follows the national or world news with any consistency. Yesterday, we saw the passing of Terri Schiavo (who, I discovered several days ago, was born the same week that I would've been born, had I not been premature). The very public family rift between her husband and her parents, regarding the removal of her feeding tube, is to me as tragic as the fact that she's spend the past 15 years in a vegetative state. :o( The feeding tube was removed on March 18, and yesterday she passed away. She's certainly in a better place NOW, healthy and strong and aware, and no doubt praying for her loved ones whom she's left behind. May she rest in peace, and may ALL of her family and friends have consolation and come to terms with her passing.

And today, the Pope's health has deteriorated to the point where it appears that HIS passing is imminent. All I can say is, "Thank you for giving your all in the service of the Church and the world. Pray for us when you get up there -- you're going to your reward, and you're leaving behind a world full of turmoil."

I honestly don't think I'm jumping the gun by writing that now, when he's still with us. The Vatican's description of his continually failing health has described him as having shallow breathing, dropping blood pressure, and is suffering heart and kidney problems. He is reported to have had heart failure last night, and is battling septic shock. All those things, combined with the Parkinson's disease and any other health issues that he's been coping with for years, add up to a poor prognosis for his being able to pull through this particular health crisis.

And yet... yes, I realize that God can perform a miracle at any time, as He sees fit. But I also realize that THIS LIFE is not the be-all and end-all of our existence. The NEXT life is. Isn't our goal to give our earthly life to God, so we can spend our eternal life with Him?

In that case, I can't really bring myself to pray only for the Pope's recovery. I'd rather pray for him to have a miraculous recovery if the Lord has decided that this is not his time to die, but if it IS his time, then may his passing be peaceful and painless, and may the Church have the Lord's guidance in choosing a successor once its earthly shepherd departs this life.