Saturday, January 28, 2006

Crumple, crumple, crumple.

I'd wondered what the noise was. I knew the cats were making it, but it never dawned on me that they were doing anything particularly wrong. After all, they were playing in the vicinity of the stack of newspapers that are ready to be recycled.

Crumple, crumple, crumple.

Boy, whatever it is they're doing, they sure are engrossed in it.

Crumple, crumple, crumple. RI-I-I-I-IP.

OK, now whatever it was had probably gone too far. "I'm hearing noises I'm not supposed to BE hearing!", I called out. That's my version of "Don't make me come over there!", and the cats are well aware of it. The crumpling noises stopped.

Mark, however, DID get up to see what was going on. "Aw, for gosh sakes. They tore the bag!"

"What bag?", I asked.

It turns out that Mark went food shopping yesterday on his day off, and purchased two large bags of cat food. Unbeknownst to me, the bags were right next to the stack of newspapers. Captain and Stanley, the mighty cat-food-bag hunters, had struck again. I suppose I should have been mad, but actually I thought it was pretty funny. Boy, what a pair of gluttons... They have more than enough food in their bowls, yet they'll still go after the mother lode and rip open a cat food bag if they're given half an opportunity. Spoiled pair of furballs.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Aw, for crying out loud! The Phantoms played SUCH a great game tonight, only to give up a late powerplay goal on a questionable penalty that tied the game at 1-1. We ended up losing 2-1 in overtime.

How aggravating. The team played SO well, and SO hard, from start to finish. It's cruddy if that penalty that cost us the powerplay goal turns out to be a mistake, as I suspect it was.

One GOOD thing from tonight's game is that I got to meet an online friend face to face for the first time. One of my fellow Maxime Ouellet fans (see my December 7, 2005 post if you don't know who Max is) drove up from DC with her friend for tonight's game. It was very nice to meet Tara and Ruth, and they're already planning to do this again for a Sunday game. That'll be easier for them, as our Sunday games begin and end earlier than our weeknight games.

Tomorrow, we're having our annual lunch at Strawbridge's restaurant, the Corinthian Room, in honor of our late friend Joan. Once upon a time, we used to meet for lunch there with her almost every Saturday. When she passed away, we started honoring her birthday by having lunch there on a Saturday, as close to her birthday on January 26 as we could.

This year will be the tenth time we've gathered to celebrate her birthday, and it's possible that it'll be the final time we're able to eat in this restaurant in its current incarnation. The company that now owns Strawbridge's will be converting the store to a Macy's sometime this year. Goodness only knows what will become of the Corinthian Room as a result of the changeover.

I do hope they keep the restaurant. Even though its menu has changed since the days when Strawbridge and Clothier was the last family-owned department store in the US, it's still a nice place to go for old times' sake. But the Strawbridge family sold the store to the May company (at which point, it was renamed "Strawbridge's"), and now it's changing again to a Macy's. Sigh. Some changes, I could do without, and this is one of them. I hope they don't murdalize what's left of the store as we knew it.

The view pulling into Pattison Avenue station. As you can see, I got the best seat in the house again. :o)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I haven't seen any new information yet regarding where Neil might sign next.

Heck, if it's going to take any length of time for him to hook up with a team, IMO he might as well come home. I'm sure his family and friends in Canada and the US will be more than happy to see him. And goodness knows if he showed up in the press box at a Phantoms home game, he'd be swamped by people wanting to greet him.

I remember well what happened the last time he made an appearance at the Spectrum after a long time away. It was during the playoffs of 1999, the season that he spent in Grand Rapids. The Griffins missed the playoffs that year, so he came back to Philly to be our third goaltender. I was there the first time he showed up in Bullies after a game. I don't know when I've seen a crowd that big gather that fast. EVERYone wanted to say hello. I got a big kick out of seeing that... he'd had such a rough season in Grand Rapids, that I figured it'd be a big morale boost to be swarmed by fans. Well, I hope it was, anyway! And I would be delighted to witness another response like that from fans at the Spectrum now.

In any case, all I can do is keep an eye open for any information that might crop up. Thank goodness for the internet and the ability to look these things up... I can't imagine going back to life without being online!

I mentioned the other day that the Rheumatology Division consists of clinics that are at two sites. The primary site is the one that's across the street from the main hospital that gives the Health System where I work its name. But there's another hospital, which was taken over by the Health System several years ago, a few blocks away. While the one where I work is a teaching hospital that's part of a large university, the nearby hospital where the other Rheumatology Clinic is located is more of a neighborhood hospital.

The other site has been short-staffed for a month or two now, between the fact that their nurse resigned and one of their Patient Service Representatives (the same job I do) is out on maternity leave.

Today, I was on loan to the Other Site to help compensate for the lack of staffing. Originally, I was to be there every Thursday and Friday, starting today, for the next three or four weeks. But since the Other Site's clinic has no patients tomorrow or next Friday, I won't be going over there on those days.

I have news for you -- if the PSR who's on maternity leave opts not to return to work, I would like to apply for the job. The Other Site is a lot less hectic, and from what I've heard on every count, THEIR doctors don't have hair-trigger tempers like most of ours do. They're actually understanding if someone makes a mistake, rather than jumping all over them and/or going around behind their back broadcasting how incompetent they think the person is.

We'll see. For now, I'll just do my best to make a great impression on the days when I'm on loan to Other Site. After that, what happens, happens.

The very front seat in the Broad Street Subway train is my favorite. It's the Best Seat in the House, in my book.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Rheumatology Division, at both the site where I work and our sister site at a neighborhood hospital a few blocks away, were commended for our high scores for both reception desk staff :o) and nursing staff. We got a bagel breakfast this morning.

I was quite the happy camper today. :o)

Well, I *was* happy till about mid-morning when I got an email from a fellow hockey fan, asking what was going on with Neil Little. She copied and pasted a transaction from eurohockey.net, showing that Neil had transferred from the Blues to "unknown".

I immediately checked blues.fi, the team's home site. Sure enough, there was an article that, with my extremely limited Finnish vocabulary, I could get the general gist of, though not much else.

Goaltender Bernd Br├╝ckler, a former Flyers draft pick (like Neil himself), is joining the team. Neil will not continue with the team, and his agent is seeking another team for him.

Gaah. I never expected this to happen. I worked the rest of the morning feeling like I'd been hit upside the head by something heavy.

The best I can do now is send positive thoughts and wait for answers to start coming back from the HFBoards.com Finland forum, and from the Finnish Phantoms mailing list member. I've sent questions to both the forum and the person.

I need a major dose of chocolate milk right about now. Like a gallon or so.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

St. Anthony keeps sending us wayward cell phones. This time it was Mark who saw this little silver one, shown next to a couple of familiar objects to provide a sense of scale, in the park adjacent to the subway station he uses daily.

It must have sat in the rain yesterday, judging fron the amount of condensation visible inside the LCD screen. Mark thought it was ruined, and I wouldn't have been surprised if he was right. It was obviously off; its screen was completely blank.

For the heck of it, I started trying to turn it on. I thought that finding the phone's own number would bring us that much closer to locating its owner.

The first few buttons I tried produced no effect. But then I noticed a transparent button on top of the phone. When I pushed that one, BINGO! The little phone came to life.

Allow me to take this opportunity to rant because cell phone designs are SO inconsistent from one device to the next. *Every* phone should make it simple to find and display its owner's contact information and its own number. Why? Because, as I've witnessed twice in the past 4 days, mishaps happen and phones go missing.

So anyway, after some treasure hunting through a bunch of menus, I did manage to unearth the cell phone's number, as well as the most likely candidate to be the owner's landline number. (It was labeled "Home" in the recently-called numbers list.)

So we called it. The young kid who answered was able to describe the phone *and* the banner saying on the LCD screen, so I was sure it belonged to the kid. He provided an address that's about a half mile from where Mark found the phone.

Mark just came back from dropping it off. The kid and his mother both thanked him.

So that's one missing-phone story with a happy ending. I hope the guest services desk where I work had similar success locating the owner of the phone I turned in to them on Friday.

And whatever you do, keep careful track of your phones!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Hee hee, I just realized something.

Our location is going to meet at lunchtime on Thursday to discuss some procedural issues that have cropped up for our practice. Specifically, there's something we have now called the Urgent Clinic: specific days when time is set aside for new patients who need a follow-up appointment ASAP, such as people who've recently been discharged from the hospital.

We, the front desk staff, received very specific instructions on how to fill those slots. Basically, one of our doctors has to give the directive to make the appointment. Patients can't ask to be put in there; it has to be decided by a doctor who's aware of the case that the patient urgently needs to be seen.

But welcome to the world of fluid boundaries, where an immutable rule can be declared flexible without prior warning, and people can be chastised for following instructions that were previously set in stone. No sooner did we attempt to screen the appointments as we'd been instructed, by having the on-call fellows review the patients' situations, then we were wrong. NOW we mustn't stand between patients and their care.

Even though I'm aware that rules can get pulled out from under us abruptly, rendering us wrong without warning, it rankles me to be chastised for following instructions that have unexpectedly been deemed outdated. So I was looking forward to this staff meeting like I'd look forward to a hole in the head.

So, why am I starting my post with, "Hee hee"?

Because I just realized that I'm filling in at the other rheumatology site, the one a few blocks away, on Thursday. I think I get to miss this staff meeting. :o)

That's OK, they can just send me the meeting notes. Then I'll know what the new, soon-to-be-altered immutable rules are.

Good grief! This day has been a complete zoo!

Traffic is a royal mess, thanks to the closure of the South Street Bridge and the part of the Schuylkill Expressway that runs under it.

This is causing issues for just about everyone who's trying to get here. People who'd use the Schuylkill are detoured, and people who'd use the alternate routes are dealing with an abnormal level of congestion on the roads.

Those of us who take the bus fall into the latter category. Ugh. The ride took so long, in stop-and-start traffic, that I was carsick by the time I arrived at work today.

Well, lunchtime's over, so it's back to the desk for me!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Well, which do you want first about the Phantoms' weekend: the good news, or the bad news?

The good news is that out of three games, we got 5 of a possible 6 points in the standings. The bad news is that we lost tonight's game in a shootout. Aaaargh on shootouts!!! I don't like seeing a team game decided by a one-on-one skills competition!

So I'm going to phrase it like they do on the flyersphans.com message board. In my book, my team just had a tie game, and we lost the extra point we could've earned from the skills competition which followed.

So there.

Last time they had a NASCAR race car on the ice, it got stuck, spun its tires, and fouled up patches of the ice. This time, the driver's being much more careful not to spin the wheels.

And now that the race car is gone, they're playing "I Wanna Drive the Zamboni" on the PA system. LOL!

The Seeing Eye Puppy Project poses for a group shot, prior to the Phantoms game.

I have one more photo to share from yesterday. Mark took this one with his camera phone and sent it to me. It took me some finagling, but I figured out how to get it into an email so I can post it to the blog. This shot was taken on the boardwalk, right around the same time as the outdoor shot I took and posted.

L to R: Jean, Karla, me, Edie, Joe.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Well, we're home. Thanks for virtually spending the day with us. :o)

I hope I'm able to do something like this again. The toughest part was getting the text together on the fly so the post could be sent ASAP after the photo was taken. I'm sure there's a way to balance that aspect of "live" posting about an event with actually, you know -- LIVING and taking part in the event. We'll see.

Have a great night! This is your friendly neighborhood Gabey, signing off for now.

Persons with low vision have a rough time reading in restaurants that keep their lights dimmed to enhance the atmosphere. Edie gets around this by using a flashlight.

Joe read braille all the way home. It's John Grisham's "The Runaway Jury".

There's no place like home... There's no place like home... There's no place like home... So we're heading home.

But first, we'll stop for dinner at Rexy's, on the Black Horse Pike. :o)

Edie, Jean, Joe, and Mark

Karla reviews Edie's literature on cochlear implants.

Okay, we headed to the bar for coffee. Also we're taking a break because only Joe's ahead at the moment... The rest of us who've played have lost.

Karla's with Joe, giving info to him about what the machine's doing (since neither the visual nor audio components are accessible to him). The rest of us are listening to the band start their set by playing "The Gambler", followed by "I Feel Lucky". :o)

When we see a live band, we always sit right next to the speaker, so our deaf friends can at least feel the music. And the hearing members of the group have been known to wear earplugs (as I am now).

Oh, pooh. Joe broke even. He and Karla have joined us (good), but now nobody in our group is ahead (not good). Oh, well.

Shhhh... Be vewy vewy quiet. I'm takin' pictures.

And if security sees it, I'll get told to put the device away for sure. Hence, the odd angle of this photo... taking a picture while trying to hide the camera's existence will do that. ;o)

Edie and Joe play the slots. Joe's hand is on the machine so he can feel the sounds it's making.

Weeee're here!

The wheels of the van go round and round...

Here we are, on the Atlantic City Expressway, heading to AC. I thought I'd try to send some live "coverage" of what our deaf-blind social outings are like. Let's see how this goes.

Mark just called Bally's Wild Wild West Casino to verify the driving directions we'll need to get there. For the record, it's Michigan Avenue. :o)

Happy MEOW-niversary!

It's one year ago today since we adopted Captain (on the right) and Stanley (on the left). So this is a terrific day, in my book. :o)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Oh! My! GOSH!!!! Did the Phantoms ever stage a comeback! We were trailing 4-1 by the end of the first period, and we'd played so poorly that I suspected we were in for a long night. Well, this is one instance where I'm glad I was mistaken. I don't know what was said during the first intermission, but boy, did it work! To make a long story less long, we stormed back to tie the game in the final minutes of the third period, and we won 5-4 in the shootout.

WTG, Phantoms! :o)

Tonight, something unusual happened when I was on my way to the bus stop. I noticed a cell phone lying on the pavement. It was an older model phone, judging from the size of it, and it was in a nice little protective cloth case with a belt clip.

About a half dozen people were waiting at the bus stop a few yards away. So I called out, "Did anyone lose a phone?" They all looked at me like I had two heads. No one answered, so I presumed the answer was, "No" and took it back to the building where I work. They have a guest services desk, which I presume functions as a lost-and-found. (And if it doesn't, I presume they'll know where a found cell phone should be brought.)

God was good to me; I didn't even miss a bus due to my detour. The same people, plus a few more, were still waiting at the bus stop when I arrived there the second time.

So now I'm IN the bus, aging as it creeps through Center City traffic. Rush hour's a pain sometimes.

OK, someone need to 'splain the following behavior to me.

Some person wants to send inter-office mail. They take brand-new inter-office envelope, the kind with lots of address spaces on it that's designed to be re-used repeatedly. They insert the page(s) that they wish to mail. They affix an address label.

All that makes sense. But the next step doesn't. That would be when the person glues the living freaking daylights out of the envelope flap. They do this to the point where not only do I need a crowbar to get the darn thing open, but the mail actually adheres to the inside of the envelope.

The windup is that I have a formerly brand-new inter-office envelope, that SHOULD have been reusable many more times, that's been torn open and ruined. I also have mail that's been damaged from being stuck to the inside of the ex-envelope.

I don't know who keeps making me waste inter-office envelopes by forcing me to tear them open to remove the contents. But I'm about ready to glue THEM to the inside of an inter-office envelope. I hate waste. >:o(

Thursday, January 19, 2006

FW:

Just for the record, my mom's not the only one having a followup with her physician. I had a long-overdue checkup this AM. My BP is much-improved: 122/70. :o)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Yay, it worked! The previous post was an attempt to email a post to blogger from my cell phone, with a photo attachment, in the hopes that said photo would appear in the blog post.

This is great! It means that I really CAN post "live" via cell phone, only without incurring the fees that accompany sending picture messages via Verizon. Do I hear a big YAY? :o) (Yeah, I do, even if I'm the only one saying it. ;o) )

Toys are fun. We like them. We like them even better when they allow us to express ourselves and save us money, all at the same time.

I saw this at a family gathering at Mark's cousin's home. It made me wish I had a sibling to send a gift like this to. :o)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

What's wrong with THIS picture?

I'll tell you what's wrong. Those are streetlights. They're still on. More to the point, I'm *leaving for work* and they're still on.

We have a crack-of-dawn meeting with the director of the Rheumatology Division this morning. So I'm leaving for work at this unmerciful hour. Yeeeesh. How do Morning People do this on a regular basis??? Beats me! ;o)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I didn't realize until this morning that I hadn't updated the blog since my mom was in the hospital. Whoops! Sorry about that! Good news: she passed the stress test and the echocardiogram with flying colors on Friday morning (January 6), and was sent home. They still don't know what caused the symptoms, but at least they determined that there's no imminent disaster ready to happen.

She'll be following up with the family doctor on Monday, and from there, they'll determine when or whether to set up an appointment with the cardiologist.

In other news, my blood pressure prescription ran out. I used the pharmacy's automated phone reorder system to request that they call my doctor to renew it. This was on Friday, when I still had few days' supply of medicine remaining. Long story short: it took until Thursday (including two trips by Mark to the pharmacy for three emergency pills, and six calls from me to the doctor and pharmacy) for the doctor to finally renew the freaking prescription. No wonder I have high blood pressure! GRRRRRRR!

All is well now, at least. Plus, I have an appointment for a checkup next Thursday, which was long overdue (to put it mildly).

So that's all the news that's fit to print for now. Talk to you later. :o)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My mom's currently in a room at the ER of the nearest hospital. So far, all is OK, or at least all the tests are coming up OK so far.

But my mom had a fainting spell over the weekend. This is not something she's ever been prone to. My dad and I tried to bend her ear about going to the doc to get this checked, but no dice.

Then yesterday, my parents were at the bank or a store (the detail kind of erased itself from my brain) when she started to get chest pain and pain in the jaw.

THOSE symptoms are no joke, as we're all well aware. My dad took her home, made her take two aspirin, and went straight to the ER with her.

This was yesterday. She's still there -- she was admitted for observation. The blood tests they've taken in the interim DO NOT show signs of a heart attack, thank God.

But all four of my grandparents died either directly or, in one case, indirectly of heart-related ailments, so my parents and I *all* probably carry the genetic material to make us prone to heart issues. So I'm filing this under "This is NOT a drill" and presuming the symptoms are the warning sign that something, somewhere, needs to be corrected.

My mom's still in enough denial that she didn't even want my dad to TELL me she went to the hospital. Needless to say, he disagreed and called me as soon as he got home last night.

He's also going to put his foot down about making sure that she follows up with whatever doctors' appointments are made as a result of this episode. I think he'll carry her bodily to the doctor's office if he has to.

Meanwhile, I kept telling him I wanted to take the day off from work and he kept saying "no". And I don't want to just show up anyway because I don't want my mom to get all worked up. I know how she gets. And getting her worked up when she's displaying some kind of heart-related symptoms, which haven't been IDed or treated yet, is something I'd rather not risk.

ARRRGH. Just say some prayers that the doctors figure out what's causing these symptoms, and take corrective action BEFORE something major goes awry. Right now, that's my biggest concern.

P.S. I just got off the phone with her a few minutes ago. She said she feels fine and the symptoms are gone. I told her, "I'm glad that the symptoms are showing up as something that goes away, so the doctors can start treatment for whatever's causing them before something happens that's a lot harder to bounce back from. I'd rather it be this way then have the first symptom of a problem be that a disaster happens." I mean it. I hope that got through. Because two episodes like this in a week don't happen unless there's an underlying health issue. Now it's the doctors' job to find out what it is and treat it.