30 January 2006


Today was orientation/corporate brainwashing day at my new job. The ambulance company is owned by a hospital...a big-R-religious hospital. I admit, I'm a little slow, it didn't occur to me that St. X's hospital was going to involve quite this much religion. So not only was today, rah rah our company rocks propaganda, it was all about the big JC.

The first two speakers were the CLO (chief learning officer) and CEO of the hospital. Both mentioned how important diversity was in the patients and the staff; both mentioned the religious roots and guiding principles of the hospital. Then came the man in the clerical collar, the VP of "the mission". Every company has a mission statement, but here, they mean "Mission", like convert the natives and save their souls kind of Mission. Again, he mentions diversity and how it isn't just race or creed, but religion, culture and such that it is important for us to respect. And then...he busts out the hard stuff.

We were all to "accept" the "Mission" of the hospital. It even has a ceremony. Which started with two bible readings that had to be read by people being oriented. Proceeded to a mini-sermon on all the good we can accomplish with the healing arts and God's love. Then to a call-and-response segment, our line - "We will". By this time, I'm ready to sink under the table and hide until I can make a clean getaway out the door - but hey, this can't get any worse, right? I can make it through...I think I can...I think I can...I think I can.

It got worse. Next up was the "pinning" part of the ceremony. Father Do-gooder actually said that we didn't have to wear our pins if we didn't want to. The other man called each person there by name, and they were to come up and receive their pin from Father Do-gooder. He actually pointed at the person and said "Bob, please come up". I was about fifth around the table. I spent the first four people trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do when it was my turn. When the person next to me was handed his pin and released with "Go forth and heal", I turned about 3 darker shades of red. Here it comes..."Jen, please come up".

I went with the polite, "No thank you, I'm not interested". The man calling the names looked surprised, but Father Do-gooder didn't hear me. He turns around with the pin and says, "Well?" I repeated, "No thank you". The Father looked at me like I had sprouted horns and sacrificed a small animal in the middle of the room. I don't think anyone has done anything to disagree with him in a very long time. Then he caught himself and the other man called the next name. And everyone else in the room got up and took the stupid pin that was being handed out like communion wafers. And then we got to close with a prayer to the Saint that founded the hospital (but not the one it is named after), and "Amen".

Okay, I knew I was going to look like a jerk to be the first one to say no. But. I really thought that maybe somebody else there who was uncomfortable with the whole ceremony might take strength from an example and say no. That maybe by the end of 18 people, I would not be standing alone. Apparently I'm the only one with the strength of my non-convictions. To be fair, there were definitely some people there who were all about the religious stuff, but I don't think you can preach "Diversity" one minute and then expect people to take part in a religious ritual and accept a pin symbolizing "the spirit of Jesus Christ" ten minutes later. I'm all about helping people, but I don't think you have to accept the "ethics and morality" of a specific religious body to do accomplish that.

25 January 2006

How not to make friends on the job

EMT convicted after prank

I was going to let this one speak for itself, but I just can't help but throw in the $0.02 that anyone this incredibly stupid should not be responsible for saving lives. And shame on his instructors for not figuring it out before he was certified.

24 January 2006

Helpful trivia

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Jen!
1. Ideally, Jen should be stored on her side at a temperature of 55 degrees!
2. Jen has three eyelids.
3. Reindeer like to eat Jen.
4. Bees visit over three million flowers to make a single kilogram of Jen!
5. You can tell if Jen has been hard-boiled by spinning her. If she stands up, she is hard-boiled.
6. If you break Jen, you will get seven years of bad luck!
7. An average beaver can cut down Jen every year!
8. Astronauts get taller when they are in Jen.
9. Jen once lost a Dolly Parton lookalike contest!
10. Jen can be found on a Cluedo board between the Library and the Conservatory!

I'm not sure all of that is true, but we all know that computers are always right. And the seven years of bad luck thing would certainly explain my on-going streak since I break myself frequently. Anyway, this should help you decide if you're dealing with the "real" Jen, haha!

23 January 2006

The Joy of Rescue

Yesterday, K managed a code (attempted resuscitation) of an elderly woman who had been found not breathing by her family when they went by her place to check in. Nobody knew how long she had been down, which means that unless she's stiff or has other obvious signs of death, all attempts are made to revive her. When I heard about it, I asked K if he'd saved her (before I heard all the details) and he laughed and said no. When I asked if he was upset, he said that he was pretty sure she'd been dead for some time, so I guess he's okay with lacking the god-like power of reviving the dead.

I even got to help save the world yesterday. While talking to NSP, the pager went off for someone needing the ambulance in the small town of 800 people I live in. Since I'm not a long-time resident, I definitely don't know everyone but this call was just up the street. Dispatch gave directions which included "second left past the fire station" without specifying which direction you would be coming from, and since the squad was coming from one direction and the ambulance from the other I was a little turned around. After a couple of wrong guesses, I finally found the place and it turned out to be someone I know having difficulty breathing and swallowing for no apparent reason. Vital signs and oxygen were all we could do for her and all she really wanted was a ride to the hospital with someone who could save her if she stopped breathing entirely, which the gentlemen on the ambulance gave her.

Today's public service message: Make sure your house number is easily visible from the road - emergency help will arrive much faster if they can find where they're going!

20 January 2006

Buh-bye part 2

Yes, it was weird going to a goodbye lunch when I'm not leaving yet. I only got to talk to about half the people because of one of those weird social things where some people don't really like other people, blah blah blah. But yum yum turtle cheesecake! And a beautiful glass vase for a going-away gift.

K even drove down for lunch and everyone congratulated him on the new job and wished him good luck too - and told him how much they'd miss his BBQ. I'll probably still invite most of them to come when we host the 4th annual this summer, but I doubt anyone will make the drive. Anyway, back to the grindstone so maybe a few things can get done this afternoon before H-O-C-K-E-Y!! And maybe a little Zamboni song here or there...


How weird is it to be having a "going away" lunch when I'm only cutting back to half-time? and a week before that even happens? I feel like I shouldn't even show up next week because it will feel anti-climatic for everyone who already said hasta la vista, baby. Oh well, can't argue with free food, I just hope no one does anything embarassing (myself included).

18 January 2006

Mount up, we're going on patrol

This month I decided I wasn't busy enough and that doing ski patrol sounded like fun since it would be another opportunity to "save lives". Just so you know, I don't ski, only snowboard. I'm not especially good, but I can wipe out groups of small children as though they were bowling pins - even if they try to get away. Every time I get near any snow, I come home bruised enough for my doctor's office to ask if I'm "safe at home" (the polite phrasing for "tell us who is beating the crap out of you, woman!"). Oh, and they're not paying me, I volunteer.

So, I use K's connections to get onto a small local hill. 1 lift, currently 3 runs open, maybe more if it ever stops raining. All the other patrollers are older, men, firefighters, skiers, and know what the heck they are doing. I stick out like a sore thumb, but at least I amuse them. I still haven't aided anyone on the hill. I haven't yelled at anyone for doing things they shouldn't because I don't really know the rules. I haven't helped anyone off the lift in an emergency and I don't know how to. I show up, ride for free, and practice pulling the sled down in case someone gets hurt. K even rode for free last night, and as my practice victim he sat in the sled wishing he could yell "Mush" and worrying I was going to kill myself with the sled.

If you see a semi-controlled snowboarder pulling a large sled towards you at a somewhat high rate of speed and a frightened looking vicitm, don't worry, I'm here for your safety.

16 January 2006

Quick updates

Inspection on the new house went pretty well, not too many unexpected findings and most of them not expensive. We need to check on the price of repairing the chimney if we want to add any sort of wood or pellet stove in the basement.

After a couple of days of calming down, our buyer is sounding amenable to $1k to clean the mold and repair the shower vent, so that is much less stressful. The mold in the attic is much less wide-spread than she originally made it sound.

Basketball yesterday was finally a win for our team, thank goodness. We didn't play especially well, but the other team only had 6 people and one of them had a sprained ankle during the game, so they were a little worn out. But last week, we lost to a team that only had 4 players for most of the fourth quarter, so we certainly can't take anything for granted.

K is snuffly and coughing continuously, and my horrible hacking cough is back after a sharp elbow to the chest yesterday.

14 January 2006

Inspector gadget

Inspection time on our current house came yesterday and with the exception of the re-occuring mold in the attic, went fine. Now all I have to do is figure out where we're going to get $5k to "remediate" the mold so it doesn't come back.

This afternoon is our inspection on the new house, so I'll try and update later. I have a sad sinking feeling about the whole deal, but K tells me I'm over-reacting.

11 January 2006

Workin' hard for the money

I didn't update on Monday to tell you the rest of my patented HAPPY DANCE news. I got the ambulance job at the new place. The giant scratch down the length of the passenger side of my brand-new car (from sliding off the driveway into the ditch) was able to be buffed out for $30 instead of having to repaint the whole thing for $800. And of course, the house.

I ran into some folks in the hallway at work on Monday afternoon and just after hello they said, "Wow, you look really happy today." Maybe that happens regularly to other people, but I don't remember it ever happening to me. Generally people believe I'm pissed off at all points in time and I've even had a few tell me I'm kinda scary. I've been working on that, so maybe it's paying off. Or maybe the HAPPY DANCE gave me away.

For the new job, I had to drive 2 hours on Tuesday to leave pee with them (you have to take your drug test within 48 hours of being offered a job). I convinced them to do the rest of the physical/paperwork/everything else we could cram in then too, but I still have to go all the way back down on Thursday for them to read my TB test because they don't trust anyone else to do it. Thankfully, I talked them out of requiring my second TB test next week down there - requiring 2 more round trips, and I'm having it done at my doctor.

In case you were wondering, no, I'm not still doing the HAPPY DANCE. That ended Monday evening with a call from the woman (T) buying our place. She needs to move the closing back from 2/1 to 2/8 because she is having urgent (but not quite emergency) surgery on 1/31 and won't be out of the hospital. Yes, she told me all the details and it's for real, she may actually have to have it as an emergency surgery some time before the end of the month. Our closing on the new house isn't until 2/10 so that might not sound like a problem. But, for those of you who haven't done the house-buying thing, purchase contracts have contingencies where if something doesn't happen by a certain point, life is bad.

Our sales contingency was for our house here to be sold and done with by 2/1. T and I tried very hard to figure out another way to get everything done before her surgery, but the bank can't do it any earlier than 1/31, the money for their down payment isn't available until 2/1, she isn't out of the hospital until at least 2/3 (and even then will be drugged probably past the point of legal competence), the bank won't close on the weekend, and before you know it we were back at 2/8. So today I get to make a dozen phone calls to try and figure out if our sellers will accept the change, if our bank can handle the transfers in a timely enough manner for the money to be available by 2/10, and just how and whether this is going to work. Aack. If I had a stress dance, I'd be doing it.

09 January 2006

Country road, take me home

Awww yeah baby! We have a house! The sellers took our counter-offer and we are all hooked up. Now we just have 7 million pieces of paper to sign, a home inspection, a bank appraisal, and figuring out some way to get all our junk off the giant hill our current house is on. Piece of cake (I'm trying to be optimistic). [Insert HAPPY DANCE here]

08 January 2006

Home at last?

We put in another offer yesterday, and someone is finally talking to us! We haven't come to an agreement yet with them but they countered our offer, and we responded with another price within $2500 of theirs, so we're waiting again. Their agent said that their last offer was "rock bottom" price, but us and our agent were fairly skeptical about that. I'll update when I hear.

06 January 2006

How rude

Okay, a little venting here. WTF is wrong with real estate agents? How can you be a listing agent on a property and not return phone calls!?! We've had difficulty getting in to see houses because of this, which maybe I can understand a little bit - if they have to call the people who are living there and all that jazz. But once someone puts in an offer on the property?

This is basically the foreplay stage of house buying and you do NOT just stop returning calls if you ever want to get to the big finish. We've now put offers in on two separate houses and nothing. A whole lotta nothing. I could handle a "No" or a counter-offer asking for more money, but to just ignore us completely? The second house is about ready to be foreclosed on, I expected the lawyer would be motivated to do something. Apparently that something was to ignore us.

p.s. Check out the new link to the Hayflinger blog and see the cute twins!

*Edited to add (13:00): I heard back from our agent this morning and apparently the lawyer on the almost-foreclosed house accepted another offer because it didn't have the contingency of selling an existing home which was apparently a big deal, despite the fact that our house is under contract already. The first house had 2 other offers to present with ours so I'm not surprised we didn't get it, just seems rude not to at least call and say that they accepted something else. But that is the same place that the selling agent called our agent to make sure we didn't want "to increase our offer" before she presented them to the sellers, so I wasn't too shocked she didn't know how to be polite.

03 January 2006

House hunting

Along with moving always comes finding somewhere to move to. As pathetic as it sounds, I actually like house hunting. Not quite as much fun with the empty houses, but always fascinating with the ones that people are still living in. You see so much that you wouldn't normally be privy to and from people you don't know and will probably never meet. I go out of my way not to pry in the occupied houses - I don't open cupboards, I only briefly open closets and try not to notice anything, I try and imagine how my furniture would look rather than staring at theirs. But sometimes, the stuff that is there overwhelms my ability to be discrete.

Yesterday we looked at three houses. One was purely frightening, beginning with the old tractor and dumptruck/plow in front of the house (I'm guessing the neighbors were thrilled to see the realtor's sign go up), continuing to the 1/2 bath with a toilet so close to the washer and dryer I think you'd have to be a contortionist to use it, a floor you could just about fall through in the kitchen, along with appliances probably original to the house in the 1940s, and having a stunning conclusion in a spiral staircase so narrow and rickety that living in that house would be pretty much a death sentence for someone as clumsy as I am since the only shower was up there. It also appeared not to have been cleaned in the last 20 years.

House number two was considerably less frightening, but K was completely distracted by the contents. After he pointed out the 47th guitar and/or amplifier, I snapped. How am I supposed to notice important things about the house - like whether it looks like the ceiling is going to fall in, or what the heck is wrong with that siding, or how many pieces of trim are missing - when every 5 steps someone is wanting me to look at something completely irrelevant?

House number three was empty with both the electricity and the water turned off, so it was about 40 degrees inside. K commented later that it was sort of hard to picture that house as warm and inviting since it was so darn cold, but we actually liked it and will probably put an offer in on it today. The most entertaining thing there was all the faux finishes. The kitchen was "country" with crackle finish on the cabinets and wire mesh in the doors above the fridge. The 1/2 bath downstairs also had some sort of odd "antiquing" on the cabinets. The wall by the stairs was maroon with a gold random leafy pattern stenciled on. The walls in the master bedroom were green with a stencil pattern that resembled abstract palm fronds. I can't even imagine the hours it took to do all that, nor the desire to do it.

01 January 2006

Space invaders

Okay, maybe he's not from outer space, but little Z certainly has taken over our place. I don't mind, in fact I asked for it, but it is truly amazing how one little person can positively rule the roost within minutes. He fusses and we all snap to.

Last night was K and I alone with Z while NSP had a fun party evening with people she hadn't seen in a year, and it went better than expected. He only got up a few times (although staying up from 4-6a was a little uncalled-for) and managed not to scream too much. K even managed to sleep through much of the night, but when his watch alarm (!) went off at 6a, I handed him off and told K that since he woke Z, he could get him back to sleep. And I got an early a.m. nap. Z treated us to some toxic waste later in the morning and was ready to see his mommy when she got home.