Thursday, November 30, 2006

"On the first day of Christmas ..." with a twist for EMS!

I received the following via a comment on MySpace from Maria, one of the coolest women I know who left her full-time EMT position at American Ambulance to run with Mystic Ambulance (lucky Mystic - poor us!). On the occasions when she does pick up a shift or two at American, she is under strict orders to stop by and give me a hug as she lights up a room just by walking into it.

Even though the Twelve Days of Christmas technically starts on Christmas Day and runs through January the 6th, thank you, Maria, for starting off
my holiday season with a laugh. And all I can say as a dispatcher to all of you EMS folks who feel the pain of this little ditty is ... I'm sorry!!

"On the First day of Christmas, my Dispatcher gave to me ... Grandma who fell and hurt her knee ...

On the Second Day of Christmas, my dispatcher gave to me ... 2 MG of Narcan for the out of work person who wants to end it all by taking her husband's pain pills and won't tell me what she took and is feeling suicidal .... and Grandma who fell and hurt her knee ...

On the Third day of Christmas, my dispatcher gave to me .... Three stacked shocks for the 88 year old man who instead of paying the neighbor kid 5 bucks to shovel his driveway, decided to do it himself and have the big one in the driveway ... 2 Mg of Narcan for the psycho chick trying to off herself ... and Grandma who fell and hurt her knee ...

On the Fourth day of Christmas, my dispatcher gave to me .... 4 AM in the morning and I have to go to the nursing home because someone has had the flu for like 16 years and all of a sudden needs to go to the hospital .... NOW ... Three Stacked shocks for the full arrested popsicle ... 2 MG of Narcan for Morphine eating Momma .. and Grandma who fell and hurt her knee ...

On the Fifth day of Christmas, my dispatcher gave to me ... Five minutes to eat ... 4 AM shuttle call ... Three stacked shocks ... 2 MG of Narcan ... and Grandma who fell and hurt her knee ...

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my dispatcher gave to me ... Six run reports behind because the computer guy can't fix the system ... Five Minutes to eat!!!!!!!!!! ... 4 AM Shuttle ... Three zaps to the chest ... Gonna have a stomach pumped ... and Grandma who fell and hurt her knee ...

On the Seventh day of Christmas, my dispatcher gave to me ... Seven car pile up while everyone was trying to beat the light so they can get into WalMart the day after Thanksgiving thinking they have only 4 dancing Elmo Dolls ... Six reports behind ... Five minutes to eat ... 4AM is way to early ... Three stacked shocks ... 2 of Narcan Pushed ... and Grandma who fell and hurt her knee....

On the Eighth day of Christmas, my dispatcher gave to me ... Eight flights of steps to walk up to get the 400 pound person who is having shortness of breath since LAST Christmas and can't walk - oh, and of course, the elevator doesn't work ... Seven cars a crunching ... Six reports a writing ... Five minutes to eat ... 4 AM shuttle ... CPR in progress ... 2 MG of Narcan ...and Grandma who fell and hurt her knee ...

On the ninth day of Christmas, my dispatcher gave to me ... Nine blankets needed to cover up grandpa because he is freezing and we aren't even out of the house yet but thinks he will get pneumonia and die for all of the 10 seconds we are outside ... Eight flights of stairs ... Should have stayed home and bought off of Ebay ... Six reports I'm writing ... Five minutes to eat ... What the Hell time is it?? ... Should have paid the kid $5 ... 2MG of Narcan ... and Grandma who fell and hurt her knee ...

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, my dispatcher gave to me ...Ten Minutes till I can get a bed in the ER because the nurses are busy figuring out who is going to lunch next ... Nine blankets needed ... Hope fire department is coming ... Seven cars a crunching ... Six reports I need to write ... Five minutes to eat ... Can't you wait till morning?? ... Stick a fork in him, he's done ... Man I hope she shuts up ... and Grandma who fell and hurt her knee ...

On the Eleventh day of Christmas, my dispatcher gave to me ... Eleven times I tried to get the heat to work in the back of the truck and maintainence won't take the truck in ... Ten minutes waiting ... Nine blankets needed ... Eight flights of steps to climb up ... Hope you have Progressive ... Give me a new ink pen ... Five minutes to eat ... 4 AM is way too early ... Three Leads all show he's dead ... 2 MG won't touch her ... and Grandma who fell and hurt her knee ...

On the Twelth day of Christmas, my dispatcher gave to me ... a 12 Gauge IV needle that I put into the drunk 19-year old who tried to swing at me ... It is really freezing ... Hope you choke on your sandwich ... Nine blankets for grandpa ...How did you get up here in the first place?? ... Man your husband is gonna be pissed ... Six reports STILL down ... Five minutes to eat ... Better than taking them back ... Hope I recorded the code ... Man, just pass out already! ... and Grandma who fell and hit her knee ... "

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"So dull and dark are the November days ... " ~ John Clare, November

If the last few days are any sort of preview of coming attractions for the winter that lies stretched out before us, I can pretty much predict that it's going to be a long, cold, depressing season. I, for one, am already counting the days until April!

It's not that there aren't certain charms to winter - the first snow, the holiday season, the .... Hmm, I appear to be stuck and can't think of anything else! On the other hand, I could probably rattle off a laundry list of what is not charming about winter - the bitter cold, the high cost of heating, the slippery and dangerous roads, the shorter days and longer nights, the Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder that really takes hold sometime in February, the bulky coats, the wet boots that track snow and ice through the house, the ... well, you get the idea!

Every year about this time is when I start asking myself why it was that I moved back to Connecticut from California . What was I thinking? As much as I enjoy fall, I truly dislike winter and, if you can believe the folks at Ye Olde Farmer's Almanac, it's going to be another bone-chilling-way-too-much-fuel-burning-break-your-back-shoveling kind of season.

Oh joy ... I'm already depressed about it and winter doesn't even officially start for another 23 days. And just for the record that makes April 1st a distant 92 days away!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Be excellent to each other!" ~ Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, 1989

I have a friend at work who likes to leave notes on my car from time to time.

The first note appeared under a wiper blade on my windshield close to two years ago. It was a short little note - just "Linda, have a great day!" o
r "Smile and know you're thought about" - simple little things like that which would put a smile on my face and make me wonder who could have been so kind and thoughtful as the notes were signed only with a smiley face. Eventually, by process of elimination, I was able to find out who the mysterious note-writer was and could thank him for his kindness and friendship as well as leave a note or two of my own on his windshield.

When my "reign" as Employee of the Year came to an end in January 2006 and my coveted parking space in the front of the building went to the next holder of the title, the notes slowed down as the writer had trouble finding my
car but every once in awhile I will go to climb into my car at the end of my shift and spy a note tucked securely under the driver's side wiper blade.

These small acts of kindness never fail to make me smile and brighten my day, especially when I find one after what might have been a long and busy shift. My friend that leaves the notes works the overnight shifts so I know that as he's walking out the door at 7:00 a.m. he has no idea what sort of day I'm going to have but his notes never fail to put a nice ending to it regardless of what the day threw at me.

I've been the recipient of two such notes recently (as well as the writer of one) and my friend's timing could not possibly have been any better as the past four days have been pretty rough ones and I had been feeling pretty down. The last note I got from him told me that my friendship radar must have been fine-tuned as he was in need of a little boost, too.

Other than an occasional brief passing in the ba
y or short visit in dispatch, I don't get the chance to spend much time with this friend but it just goes to show that it doesn't take a lot for someone to make you feel special or for you to make someone else feel special.

It really is pretty easy to "be excellent to each other" ...

Monday, November 27, 2006

"Your home is a pleasant place from which you draw happiness." ~ Tonight's Fortune Cookie

In response to the above all I can say right now is "not"! Whereas my house was once upon a time a pleasant place where I drew happiness, it is now a cluttered mess from which I draw frustration on a regular basis thanks to my daughter who has followed very closely in her father's footsteps when it comes to organization and neatness.

There has got to be nothing harder in the world for an anally retentive picky perfectionist red-headed Virgo to deal with than living with a devil-may-care lackadaisical multi-colored hair Gemini who seems to think that the floor is a fine place to put just about everything including her flute, dishes, MP3 player, whatever book she might have been reading, etc! It baffles my mind to see the things that Amanda has left on the floor.

Whereas the most commonly used phrase out of my mouth at work is "American base to car ____"; at home it is definitely "pick that up!". The ambulances and chaircar vans can obviously hear me as they respond back to me on the radio but I am apparently speaking at a decibel that cannot be heard by 14-year old ears for whatever it is that I have just requested Amanda to pick up off the floor is generally still lying there when I walk back into the room and may even be joined by another item.

I hate to say it but I think I am just about to raise the white flag where her room is concerned as the last time I was in there it was pretty scary. I made the mistake of entering the cave that is her habitat to try to locate dirty laundry and left in total confusion as to what was clean and what wasn't in the ankle deep pile that was on her floor. As I looked around at the total chaos and confusion I now understood completely why it was that she never seemed to be able to find anything. Heck - I doubt that Stanley could even find Dr. Livingstone in that room of hers!

The sad thing is, the mess in her room has been spilling over into the rest of the house and I just can't keep up with it anymore. The floor in the computer room is currently home to her umbrella, guitar, a pair of sunglasses, two USB cords for the computer, the latest issue of Blender magazine, as well as other assorted goodies. Last check of the living room produced five socks, innumerable drawing papers & pencils, a purse with stuff falling out of it, her practice flute, and several Gamecube games. I hate to even think of looking under the couch!

With the exception of my own room, there is not a single room in this house that doesn't have at least one pair of her shoes taking up space - which is another mystery as the kid seems to wear only her one pair of black Vans on a daily basis. What is the need for all of these other shoes and why are they all over the house? Come to think of it, where did they come from? Did we have a visit from the Grimm Brothers' elves from The Elves and The Shoemaker and, if so, why aren't the shoes lined up neatly in a row like they are in the story??

Next time the elves stop by I hope they'll be of the housecleaning variety as I just don't have the energy to spend the time fighting back the clutter only to have it once again advance through the house like some sort of out-of-control fungus as it takes over every available nook and cranny in its relentless pursuit to claim the entire house.

But what's a mother to do? You can't punish your kids anymore else they'll go running to the authorities and even the threat of sending her back to Kentucky is wearing thin due to that not being able to hear me thing she has going. Is there an answer? Somebody? Anybody? Help me!!!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

""While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats." ~ Mark Twain

Often in my posts you will see me mention Jen, my weekend dispatch partner and friend - the other half of "those #@*! redheads" as Matt likes to refer to us on a regular basis. Surprisingly, Jen and I have quite a bit in common - our birthdays are separated by a mere six days, we both enjoy a good musical, we both have things in our past that some might consider scandalous, neither of us can dance in heels, and we're both anal retentive perfectionists that are confident in our dispatch abilities and don't intimidate each other but make a damned fine team.

Add on to the list another thing in common with the advent of Jen's new blog here on I've tried to get Jen interested in blogging in the past and she did make a bit of an attempt over at but she was just never able to get into as much as I would have liked as, let's face it, writing can be a tough discipline to adhere to when you're already juggling a hectic life and career.

Having now spent the better part of almost five months reading my constant electronic babble here, as well as enjoying the writings of ECR over on 24/7, Jen has decided to start writing again and has begun posting at Everybody Loves Raymond (well some maybe). Stop by and take a peek at her postings, I think she'll find that she's a much better writer than she gives herself credit for.

I'm thrilled to have fellow dispatchers Jen and Erik both posting now here on Blogger - two down and four to go!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

"It's only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home ...

... it's only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love." ~ Margaret Truman

Were my father still alive, today would have been his 72nd birthday. My mother would have made his favorite meatloaf and had his favorite angel food cake with mocha frosting for dessert. Chances are good that we would have all gathered at their home in Canterbury on Thanksgiving Day to celebrate his birthday rather than wait until today as that always seemed to happen with his birthday being so close to the holiday. And that would have been okay because he didn't make a big deal out of birthdays - he had that "just another day" attitude like so many men seem to have even if inside they're secretly happy to have the extra attention.

Growing up, I didn't really appreciate my father (which is something that I'm sure I was not alone in doing) but once I got out on my own I was better able to understand that he actually knew what he was talking about most of the time! Not all of the time mind you but probably 98.99% of it. However, like the quote says, you just don't know that until you grow up and take a few steps back to better assess the situation.

Despite my stubborn and argumentative nature, I was always proud of my father not only for his military career but for the type of man that he was. If he said it - he meant it and if he did it - he did it right. I wish I had appreciated him more as a kid but sadly it's one of those "hindsight 20/20" things that country singers like to warble about.

Happy birthday, Dad, and wherever you may be I hope they've got meatloaf and angel foodcake with mocha frosting - though I'm sure it would be nowhere near as good as Mom's!

Dad & I - August 17, 1991

Friday, November 24, 2006

"Pumpkin pie, if rightly made, is a thing of beauty and a joy." ~

Today I did not go in search of bargains at the local stores or the perfect Christmas tree but for pumpkin pie. Even though we had a wonderful lunch catered to us at work yesterday for which I am grateful (thankful even!) there was one thing missing and that was the pumpkin pie. There was a delicious cherry cobbler, pecan pie, and apple pie but apparently no pumpkin pie which is - in my opinion - a mandatory part of the Thanksgiving feast.

Despite the fact that Thanksgiving was officially over I still had a pumpkin pie fix that needed to be addressed before I could put the holiday to a proper rest and begin the Christmas season so to that end I went first to Rhode Island and my son Michael's house where I mooched a turkey sandwich, a piece of chocolate creme pie, and a slice of pumpkin. It was an excellent pumpkin pie and could definitely have met the Thanksgiving requirement but the day was still young and we had more traveling to do.

From Rhode Island Amanda and I then went to visit Paula at her home in Canterbury where we were treated to not only another small piece of pumpkin pie but also a sampling of coconut cream pie which were both made by the Culinary Arts students at Grasso Tech in Groton where Paula works. To round it out we had a wonderful pumpkin pudding concoction that I now have the recipe for from Paula and will definitely make sometime soon! But the day was still not over!

After a lovely visit with Paula, we then proceeded down the road to my mother's house and had our third piece of pumpkin pie for the day. Though the pies at both Michael's and Paula's were delicious, my Mom's pumpkin pie is still the best by far and was the perfect ending to the day.

If I were going to add up the Weight Watcher's points that Jen keeps such a close eye on, I would probably be totally appalled but I refuse to think about that and will just not eat anything for the next two days in order to make up for the overabundance of pie!

Yeah, and if you believe that I've got a bridge in Brooklyn you might want to buy ...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." ~ John F. Kennedy

Pronunciation: tha[ng](k)s-'gi-vi[ng]
Function: noun
1 : the act of giving thanks
2 : a prayer expressing gratitude
3 a : a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness b capitalized : THANKSGIVING DAY

It seems to me that the true meaning of Thanksgiving Day has gotten lost somewhere amongst the family get-togethers, large meals, and an overabudance of football. Between running around to get all of the right ingredients for the one big meal that most families actually sit down to eat together anymore and the obligatory trips to the homes of relatives that are practically forgotten during the rest of the year, I wonder how many people actually take the time to stop and give thanks on the one day of the year that is expressly reserved for that purpose.

I opted to spend this Thanksgiving Day at work even though it was my normally scheduled day off for reasons that I won't go into here other than to say that disappointment was at the top of the list. Because I was going to be working a double yesterday and then going in for dayshift again today, Mike and Laura offered to have Amanda over at their house in Rhode Island so they picked her up yesterday afternoon and I will pick her up tomorrow morning.

If there's one thing I've learned in all my years of dispatching it's that holidays on the desk are going to be either feast or famine when it comes to call load and today turned out to be a vertitable smorgasbord of 911 calls, paramedic intercepts, and STAT transfers out of local hospitals. Add on to that the handful of dedicated individuals who came in on their holiday to drive patients in wheelchair vans between nursing homes and relatives' homes and back again and it made for a pretty busy day.

Well, scratch that - it made for a very overwhelming day; a day when I left the dispatch center with stress riding solidly on my back between my shoulder blades and my head pounding just a little bit at the temples. A day when I got in the car after work and sat there for a moment or two and wondered what the heck just happened and where the last ten hours went before I wearily threw the car in gear and headed home.

Because I was feeling particularly drained and came home to a house empty of all but the cat I sat down and stared at the wall for awhile trying to think of what it was that I was thankful for this year as I thought that might help with my mood. In no particular order some of what I came up with is the following:
The fact that Amanda gets along with her brother well enough that he invited her over for a couple of days. When they were younger there were times when I despaired of them ever getting along.

My health - despite the other medical issues I've had this year I no longer have the back pain that I did last year and have only had minor issues that Tylenol or Aleve can handle.

My friends - those both close and far away without whom my life would be empty. They make me laugh, they understand when I cry, and they keep me more or less sane.

My job - despite the fact that I was ready to call it quits when I first got home today. It can be maddening, it can be stressful, it can be overwhelming but it gives me the opportunity to help people at times when they most need help. And I like being able to do that.
Taking the time to think about what I had versus what I don't was helpful in calming me down and even though that's only a partial list, as there are so many other things that I'm thankful for, I thought it was important to list at least a few. I've found it's easier to live by the words you utter when you write them down so that you can remember them later on.

So tell me, what are some of the things that you're thankful for?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

“To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race” ~ Calvin Coolidge

Amanda has a two-part Civics test this week and this morning as we were sitting on the couch watching bits and pieces of the news (and no, not Rachel Lutzker for all of her fans out there!) she decided to try quizzing me on some of the things that she was going to be tested on.

"What rights are Americans promised under the U.S. Constitution?"

"You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided to you free of charge."

"Who was James Madison?"

"He was the fourth President of the United States and was married to Dolly Madison who later went on to make wonderful snack cakes."

"What is the Preamble?"

"The short walk that you take to loosen up your legs before the real ambling begins."

"What is the New Jersey compromise?"

"A decision that is agreed upon by a bunch of guys talking with Jersey accents who generally saying 'fuggedaboutit' to everything."

What is the CT plan or the Great Compromise?

"When the people from Connecticut decide to agree on something really good."

"What is the 3/5ths Compromise?"

"When 3/5ths of the people in the room agree on something then it's passed."

"Who was Thomas Jefferson?"

"The third President of the United States who lived at Monticello in Virginia and was the main author of the Declaration of Independence as well as a gifted inventor and player of the violin. He died on July 4th, 1809 - the exact same day as John Adams, second President of the United States." (Now this one I knew!)

Needless to say I was probably not a great deal of help to Amanda in studying for her test as most of this stuff totally escapes me despite the fact that I think I used to know it once upon a time. Even though I love history, and lament not having become a history teacher, I've never been a big fan of Civics which is more the study of comparative government or politics than it is actual history.

Whereas I can tell you quite a bit about what went on during the actual writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence, I can't tell you that much about the document itself. The same goes for the Constitution and any of the other lovely documents that our Founding Fathers decided to draft once they got the notion that we were going to be a nation independent of England. Ask me about George Washington as a General and I could bore you to tears but ask me about George Washington as a Statesman and I'll bore you to tears about George Washington as a General!

Knowing that I'm a history buff, Amanda was quite surprised that I couldn't answer most of the questions she threw out at me this morning (as a matter of fact, she kept smacking me in the head with her papers after every wrong answer!) but I was rather proud of the fact that she DID know the answers. Maybe she's paying more attention in class than I thought she was!

Monday, November 20, 2006

"The Road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began ... " ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Not feeling horribly creative this evening, I thought I would "borrow" from one of ECR's 24/7 blog entries that she did recently that had a link to a website that you could go to and see what percentage of the country you've visited.

You can create your own personalized map of the USA by clicking here and then you can see what percentage of the country you've covered in your travels.

As a former military brat and member of the Air Force myself, I have managed to crisscross a lot of the country and have missed only North Dakota in my travels (I don't count Alaska and Hawaii as you actually have to leave the United States to get to either of them). According to this map, I've covered 94% of the country.

If you haven't had a chance to see much of this great country of ours, you're really missing out as it's a wondrous place. The last trip I made across country was via Amtrak and it was a marvelous trip and gave me the opportunity to see things from a completely different view. I recommend it highly to anyone as it's very relaxing and there's nothing like sleeping on a train as it rolls through the night. It obviously takes longer than flying but there's no stress and it's just so civilized, for lack of a better word! I can understand why my grandfather enjoyed it so much.

Now I've got a goal to shoot for - getting to North Dakota one of these days and completing this map!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

"The reason one writes isn't the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say." ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

I've been at the blogging thing on this particular blog since July of this year but I first started blogging over at several years ago when I had some free time and decided that rather than just talk to myself I might as well write to myself! I wasn't very disciplined at it and would miss large chunks of time quite frequently but when I did write I enjoyed it even though I knew I had no audience except for a few hardcore friends.

When the opportunity presented itself to do this blog for the Norwich Bulletin, I jumped at the chance as there was a part of me that wanted to see if people would actually be interested in reading anything I wrote - whether they would respond or not. I've always enjoyed writing in one form or another and have occasionally thought myself to be halfway decent but without other people's opinions I only had my own to go by and, naturally, I would tend to be a bit biased! I either loved my stuff or hated it - and more times than not it was the latter!

Even though there aren't a major multitude of comments to my posts, I'm very happy to see the ones that people take the time to write and am very thankful for my little group of readers who seem to sometimes relate to what I electronically babble about. I think one of the highest compliments that I get is when I'm told that I write like I talk and that those who know me can really tell it's me doing this writing and not some anonymous ghostwriter I've got shackled to my computer desk who trades words for food and drink! Though now that I think about it - that doesn't sound like a bad idea!

I may never write the Great American Novel though someday I would love to be sitting on the couch across from Oprah discussing my amazing literary success while she touts my multimillion selling novel as the latest read on her book club list but, in all reality, I know that probably ain't gonna happen anymore than I'm going to win the lottery, marry a Sean Connery look-a-like, and move to the Fiji Islands - though it is nice to dream! And thanks, Andrew, for putting that one in my head!

In the meantime it's been nice to inspire one of my fellow employees to recently start his own blog. Erik, better known as Bouk, has begun blogging about life as a volunteer firefighter, something that he does up in his stomping grounds of Putnam in addition to being one of my weekday dispatch partners and a part-time EMT at American Ambulance. If you'd like to check out his blog and encourage his new venture in writing, please click here to read "The Fire Insider".

Who knows - maybe I'll see Bouk sitting on the couch opposite Oprah touting his literary success one of these days but I just hope he doesn't get there before I do!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

"It's a small world after all ..." ~ Annoying Singing Animatronic Dolls at Disneyland, Disney World, et al

As I was sitting here tonight staring at yet another blank screen and wondering what on earth to write about I had an email from my friend Trisha up in Jewett CIty. She had sent me one of those cute little emails that people like to send to each other and I had sent her a response to which she wrote back right away so I knew she was on-line also. She sent me another email back and told me to give her a quick call as she had a cute story for me about what a small world it was.

I've known Trisha since the days when I was still married and living in Plainfield. She was my stylist at a salon up there and we soon became friends; a friendship that has outlasted my marriage, her marriage, and Lord knows how many cuts, colors, and styles!

Trisha has been to my house on several occasions and as someone who once lived in Norwich herself, she knows the Laurel Hill section of town quite well - lots of small roads on the sides of various hills with most houses dating back to at least the turn of the century and then some. If parts of it weren't so run-down and dilapidated, it would be quite quaint!

These days Trisha does all of her hair styling, etc out of her kitchen as a side job and still has a very faithful following of her old customers. She told me tonight that she'd had one such friend/customer over earlier this week and they had gotten to talking about when Trisha had lived in Norwich. Her friend mentioned that she had also lived in Norwich once upon a time and also in the Laurel Hill section. When Trisha asked her where she had lived darned if her friend didn't describe my house to a "T"! Turns out that about twenty years ago she lived in the very same house that I now live in.

Out of all the houses in all the city, she lived in mine and out of all the hairdressers in all of the State, she has the same one I do - now that's definitely an example of this really being a small world!

Sing on o' annoying animatronic dolls!

Friday, November 17, 2006

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and take a look around once in a while, you could miss it. " ~ Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986

Yesterday was my day to meet my "perennial flower friend" Rhonda for our monthly lunch get-together. We had picked the Green Onion in Lisbon as our arranged meeting place as we like to rotate restaurants rather than get into the rut of meeting in the same place each time. I had forgotten that the Green Onion was the place where we had each dropped some rather big news on each other - first that Rhonda was going to be a grandmother and then a good year or so after that I, too, was going to be a grandmother.

When I confirmed our meeting date and time on Tuesday, Rhonda reminded me that we were going to our "place of big news" and wondered what might lay in store for us along those lines this month. I told her that it was going to have to be on her end as there really was no big news on my end - just the endless succession of life's little disappointments and mundane happenings. As Amanda told me the other day, "Mom, we lead a boring life" and I replied that it was the only kind of life that we could afford!

After getting caught up on each other's lives, Rhonda asked me a rather interesting question that I've still been pondering a little bit but have yet to come up with a good answer to - "what do you think your life will be like 12 years from now?" She had originally said 10 years then decided to round it up to a nice even age of 60. 60?? Holy smokes - that's another whole series of numbers but I'm sure that if life continues to go as fast as it has up to this point I'll be there before I blink and wondering what the heck happened to my 50's, which I'm not quite into yet - thank you!

It's hard to believe but in 12 years time my grandson will be my youngest daughter's age and my yongest daughter will be my son's age. My son will be darned close to 40, Amanda will have entered her quarter century, and maybe - just maybe - I will finally have lost the albatross that my ex-husband is around my neck!

Other than the natural progression of age, it's hard to picture anything else - am I still going to be dispatching? Am I still going to be renting my house on the side of the hill? Will I finally have climbed out of the financial pit I've fallen into? Will I still be wondering if the right man is ever going to come along or will I finally have given up on the notion that he's out there somewhere? Will Cyndi and I still be in touch despite the 3,000 miles that separates us? Will Rhonda and I still be meeting once a month to share a meal and catch up on our lives? Or will I simply be someone's fading memory?

If Rhonda had asked me that question back in 1994 what kind of answer would I have given her then? Certainly nothing that even comes close to what my life has turned out to be - that's for sure! With the exception of Cyndi and I still being in touch and Rhonda and I also staying friends there are no constants there at all. In 1994 I was a married, stay-at-home Mom with a 1-year, 2-year, and 13-year old. I had no intentions of ever dispatching again or living in Norwich and had planned on being married until the "death do us part" thing. Just goes to show that you can't predict the future - not reliably anyway!

Ferris Bueller wasn't kidding, though, life does go by awfully darned fast but it seems like it's only when we stop to look back at our lives, or dare to look forward on them, that we notice how fast the years have gone by and how differently they've turned out from what we thought they might be.

So how about it - anyone out there where they thought they'd be at this point in life? Have the years flown by for you and where do you see yourself in twelve years? I can't be the only one who has no idea how to answer that question!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

“It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours.” ~ Harry S. Truman

My son Michael and his wife have been in a depression since last Spring when they both got laid off from their jobs as draftsmen at Electric Boat in Groton as a result of the downsizing that EB periodically goes through. Sadly, layoffs at EB are as common as the continuous fight to save the Naval Submarine Base in New London, which will no doubt be on the chopping block once again when the government undertakes its next round of base closings.

Mike started out at Electric Boat as a welder a few years back and then became a member of the Marine Draftsman Association when he was able to move into a career that matched the skills he learned while attending H.H. Ellis Technical School during his high school years. After floating around from one position to another, Mike had finally found not just a job but a career and he seemed to really be enjoying it as well as excelling in it. He met his wife Laura at EB where she was also a draftsman and life seemed to be looking pretty good for the both of them.

However the government giveth and the government taketh away and when there are no contracts to design any new submarines on the horizon it leads to layoffs which are, of course, done by order of seniority. Laura was quite close to the bottom and even though Michael was a lot closer to the top of the list, he wasn't close enough to avoid being laid off along with his wife last March.

After getting their pink slips the original idea was to relocate to Newport News, Virginia to work in the shipyards down there but after months of phone calls and paperwork that fell through. I don't think it was as much of a disappointment for Laura as it was for Mike as she has spent her entire life living in Rhode Island with her parents right next door and if a person isn't used to picking up and moving, it can be a traumatic and overwhelming thing - especially when you have kids. Add on the fact that there were issues with her oldest son's father and child custody that would have involved a major headache of legal wranglings and in the long run it was probably a good thing.

Throughout the whole time that they'd been laid off, there were rumors that eventually the layoffs would be rescinded and I know that both Mike and Laura were hopeful that would happen though there is never any guarantee that it will. Yesterday Mike called me with the good news that he and Laura had gotten letters from the MDA stating that they were being recalled and would both be going back to work at Electric Boat on the 27th of November. Not only that but after the first week Mike will be getting one pay raise and Laura will be getting two as that's what they have missed while being out of work for the past 8 months.

Needless to say it's a relief for both of them and comes as a nice early Christmas present as now they'll not only have health benefits for both themselves and the boys but between the two of them they'll be pulling in a decent income again. I'm just going to keep my fingers crossed that by the time the next round of layoffs comes around at least one of them will be high enough in seniority to not lose their job again because just as the sun will always rise in the East, there will always be layoffs at Electric Boat!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Nothing can be created out of nothing" ~ Lucretius

I have been wracking my brain for the past couple of hours trying to think of what on earth I could write about tonight but have apparently acquired a nasty case of "writer's block" as absolutely nothing has come to mind.

In an effort to get inspired I asked some of the people at work what I should write about and they threw out such suggestions as Joseph Gentile and the fate of the old Norwich State Hospital grounds, the fact that it isn't even Thanksgiving yet and we've had Christmas stuffed down our throats way too much already, or perhaps something interesting in Amanda's life (she reports that there's nothing real exciting going on there either!).

All of these suggestions were met with a complete and total lack of interest on my part which means that I don't particularly want to write about anything at all. I am totally uninspired and my muse has apparently taken a mini-vacation to get her batteries recharged. I think I shall follow suit and try this again tomorrow after I have had a good night's sleep and have hopefully thought of something at least semi-interesting to write about. Who knows? Maybe I'll have a good dream that I can write about!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"American Ambulance, what's the address of your emergency?"

We answer each and every 911 call that comes into the dispatch center at American Ambulance in a manner that is standard in 911 centers throughout the country. The most critical thing we thing need to know is where someone's emergency is because without that key piece of information we have no idea where to send the people who are going to provide help on the scene. Whether it be the police, a fire truck, or an ambulance crew they need to know where they're going first and foremost.

After years of experience, I have come to the conclusion that when that question is met with someone screaming on the other end of the phone line it's probably not going to be a good call, though some are much worse than others. Such was the case this morning when I answered what was probably my fourth or fifth 911 call of the day (some days it seems to ring constantly and other days not at all - today was constantly) and my question was answered with a screaming female caller. I was able to get the address and phone number from the NPD dispatcher and after trying to calm the caller down was finally able to determine what was wrong and with who.

In September of 2003 I became a nationally certified emergency medical dispatcher with training specifically designed for these types of calls. We operate under a protocol through the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch and have a computer-based system that guides us step-by-step through each call by giving us the correct questions to ask and then, based upon the answers we receive, we can give pre-arrival instructions as well as send the appropriate emergency medical response. It's a great system and is right more often than it's wrong. As the first first responders, it gives us the chance to have the caller render assistance to the patient that may make a difference in how the call turns out.

That said, not everything that we say on 911 is scripted through the protocol. We are trained in the use of postive reinforcement as well as repetitive persistence,
which is the most effective method of reducing the caller's anxiety to below the hysteria threshold, but there is nothing scripted on the computer that tells you to say "you need to calm down so we can get ___ help", "if you want to help ____ you need to take a deep breath and calm down", etc., etc. Most times during a 911 call we don't need to calm down and reassure the caller but, when we do, it can be tricky to say the right thing to get the caller to a place where they can render aid to the patient before the "calvary" charges through the door.

The call that I took this morning took all of my training and then some as I tried to calm the caller down and walk her through the questions so she could help her loved one while the ambulance and fire department were enroute to the call. In cases like this, I stay on the phone with the caller until help gets there. Those minutes that it takes for help to actually arrive can seem like the longest in the world - not only to msyelf but to the person anxiously waiting for help to walk through the door on the other end. The most frequently asked question during this type of call is "when will someone get here?" and it never seems like soon enough - not to either of us. My caller would be calm one moment and then start to spiral towards hysteria again a moment later and it was my job to try to keep her as calm as possible.

All things considered, I thought today's call had gone well as the caller assured me several times that the patient was still breathing and she said she could feel a pulse. But as I gave her reassurance that she "was doing just fine" I said something that I normally never say to a caller which is that the patient would be okay. It probably doesn't seem like it would be a big thing to say that but when the crew finally got the patient down to the ambulance and began to transport, it was something that I wish I hadn't said as the patient had become what's known as a "working 100" or cardiac arrest. Though he had been breathing and had a pulse when the crew first got there he stopped doing both somewhere between the time he was loaded onto the stretcher and put into the back of the ambulance. When the EMT that was driving radioed in that they were transporting lights and sirens to the hospital with a working 100 my heart fell into my stomach as I knew exactly what that meant and it wasn't good.

I kept thinking of the poor girl who had called and how I had assured her that it was going to be okay and now there was a darned good chance that it wasn't going to be okay after all - that it was NOT going to be okay and never would be again. I felt like I had lied to her and betrayed her, that I had offered out false hope even though I had followed the protocol exactly except for that one small statement.

When the med-patch was given to Backus Hospital from the crew in the back of the ambulance, things sounded even more grim for the patient and my heart sank even lower with each passing moment. In my mind I kept hearing the caller lamenting that I had told her it was going to be okay, that I had lied to her, and I was just about ready to send myself home for the day to rethink my entire career choice.

God must have heard my silent prayers, though, as when they got to the hospital they were able to reestablish a pulse and the medic was credited with a "code save". Last I heard, the patient had been stabilized and put on a vent but was still alive in the Emergency Room. Only then was I finally able to heave a held-in sigh of relief. I'm sure he's not out of the woods yet but it sounds like he's got a fighting chance of survival.

Still, the whole thing shook me up a bit and will make me pay closer to attention to what I'm telling a screaming caller on the other end of the phone. It may even make me reevaluate my sanity in being in this career field but I doubt it will send me into Human Resources with my resignation in hand. Not yet anyway! But maybe I really DO need that thicker skin I've referred to before ...

Monday, November 13, 2006

"The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again." ~ Erma Bombeck

I envy people who run because I just can't do it. Even though I ran sprints for track my Freshmen year of high school, I am not a runner or jogger - never have been and never will be. But walking I have always been able to do. I used to be able to walk for miles and not think a thing of it, it was an activity I really enjoyed.

Back when I was still at Norwich PD (which sometimes seems like a lifetime ago) I used to go to the track at Norwich Free Academy after I got out of work at 11:00 p.m. and walk until close to 1:00 in the morning. I'm not sure if they still do it now but back then they used to leave the lights on at the track all night long. Sometimes when I would first get to the track a few people might be there but they usually were gone long before I got into my third mile and then I'd have the place all to myself. Despite the late hours that I was out there, it never dawned on me to be scared. I always felt relatively safe as there wasn't really a good way for anyone to sneak up on me as it's very open in all directions. Well, either that or I was just being plain dumb!

I loved those late night walks by myself and would sometimes find myself walking four or five miles at a stretch without getting tired. I think a lot of it was that it was a great way to relieve the stress from my job. By the time I was done circling that track, there wasn't much of anything bothering me at all - I would walk away every negative phone call that I had taken that evening at work, I would walk away every frustration I had at home, and I would walk away all of the other cares that I carried around with me. It was very liberating to be out on that track.

Every great once in awhile I would try jogging for a short distance as people have always said how good jogging is for a person but I just never got that whole concept. I'd jog for a half lap around the track and then spend the next lap trying to catch my breath while trying to work out the stitch in my side! Once I actually managed to jog an entire quarter mile and I couldn't have been more proud of myself had I won a Pulitzer Prize! But it was just that once and that's why that particular memory still stands out so clearly when so many others have faded - when you have only accomplished something once you tend to remember it! For the most part I walked a 15-minute mile, a respectable clip which put me somewhere squarely between the tortoise and the hare!

I forget when it was that I stopped walking at the track but I'm sure it was too long ago. Even though I have resolved many times over to get back out there and begin again, I've just never been able to do it for one reason or another - or more likely because of one excuse or another! I've had the best of intentions but we all know about best intentions, don't we?

Last week I finally decided that enough was enough and I needed to start getting some sort of exercise if I was ever going to have any energy again and I started working out on my Gazelle. I had bought it a few years ago as I couldn't afford and didn't have room for a treadmill but it sat unopened in its box for almost a year as the time that it arrived was the same time that my back went out on me. Since then it has mostly collected dust in the dining room as despite the fact I put it together and used it once or twice, I have been a bit afraid to do anything that's going to throw my back out of whack again. I finally convinced myself of the ridiculousness of that logic - after all, it's no-impact and located close to the phone so if something did happen I wouldn't have far to crawl to call 911!

Now that I've been using it for a little over a week, I've found that I actually look forward to and enjoy my time on the thing. I toss on my MP3 player that's loaded with my favorite yet odd collection of music and the world goes away just as it did when I used to walk around the track at NFA. No stress, no worries, no cares - and that's not a bad thing! Now I just need someone to guilt me into making sure I continue the habit ... uh, Jen, can I count on you for that??

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain." ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today was a rather odd November day - not because it wasn't dark and dreary but because it was also unseasonably mild. I was rather surprised to check the outside temperature from my kitchen window prior to leaving for work this morning and finding it to be a balmy 60 degrees! 60 degrees at 6:30 in the morning in the middle of November?? Gee, wasn't it just last week that I was scraping the frost off of my windshield? No wonder my allergies are still up and running (literally!).

If I hadn't had to go into work today, it would have been a great day to stay home in bed with the window cracked open a little bit to let the fresh air in. There's something nice about lying in bed with the covers pulled up to your chin and listening to the rain outside of the window - it's very peaceful and relaxing and perfect for a Sunday morning. Add the Sunday morning paper and a nice hot cup of coffee and it's bliss.

Well, I suppose it would have been bliss but duty called and it was off to answer 911 and clean out the nasty refrigerator in the dispatch kitchenette while the rain ran down the windows. Not a bad day to be at work all things considered but still - to be home in bed would have been better. And speaking of which, I think it's time I go there now - the rain is still falling so I'm going to open that window and listen to the rain fall for a little while before going to sleep and then getting up to go back to work tomorrow to do it all over again - well, minus the nasty refrigerator that is!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

"Whatever happened to Saturday night?" ~ The Eagles, Saturday Night

This is the first Saturday night that I've had off from work in so long that I can't remember when the last one was no matter how hard I try. It probably wasn't all that long ago but just seems like it because I'm getting old and my memory is going but I'm sure it's been close to six months, if not longer.

So what sort of wonderful things did I do with this first Saturday night not at work? Not a whole heck of a lot! Actually, what I've done is closed myself off in the computer room upstairs while Amanda has not one but two friends over for the night. Laura and Rachel are both good kids but somehow this house seems even smaller when there are two more 14-year old females occupying it and it just seemed wiser to retreat!

That said, it gave me lots of time to mindlessly surf the Internet and I came across what I thought were some interesting, though perfectly useless, facts that I felt I should share so that I'm not the only font of useless knowledge walking around out there! So, courtesy of The Wildlife Page, I bring you these interesting little tidbits:

Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

There are more chickens than people in the world.

Two thirds of the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey.

The longest one syllable word in the English language is "screeched."

On a Canadian two dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament building is an American flag.

All of the clocks in the movie "Pulp Fiction" are stuck on 4:20.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt."

All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back on the $5 bill.

Almonds are a member of the peach family.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.

There are only four words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

Los Angeles' full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula"

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
Yep, I know how to live it up on a Saturday night!

Friday, November 10, 2006

"Freedom has a taste, and for those who have fought for it, the taste is so sweet the protected will never know ..." ~ General George S. Patton

Tomorrow is Veterans Day here in the good ole' US of A - a holiday that was known internationally as Armistice Day when people first started recognizing the date as a holiday back in November of 1919. The original date marked an agreement to the temporary suspension of hostilities between the Allies fighting in World War I and Germany which went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. World War I didn't officially end until June 28, 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles but people felt that November 11th was the more important date in the ending of the war.

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words:
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
At the time, people mistakenly thought that World War I was the "war to end all wars" so on June 4th, 1926 Congress officially recognized the end of World War I with a resolution to observe November 11th as Armistice Day stating that it was "fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations". An Act that was approved on May 13th, 1938 made Armistice Day an official National holiday primarily set aside to honor the veterans of World War I.

Sadly World War I was nowhere near the "war to end all wars" and on June 1st, 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history and again after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans. The 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans" and hence our current holiday of Veterans Day was born.

As a veteran myself, this is one holiday that tends to really anger me as it seems that to a lot of people it's simply another holiday to have the day off from school or work, a day when banks and post offices close, stores have Veterans Day sales, and the people who really deserve the recognition that this holiday is supposed to afford are overlooked. Chances are good a lot of them are working this day - some of them in Iraq or Afghanistan or Lord knows where else protecting our country and the right of the people who live in it to have a holiday.

As a kid I can remember my father working just about every single Veterans Day there was and it just didn't seem right that there was a holiday for him but he didn't get to take the day off. Here was a man who had put his life on the line in both Korea and Vietnam, a man who had his truck blown out from under him while moving planes off of the runway in DaNang during one of the many bombings that they went thro
ugh constantly, a man who served proudly for twenty years, but his job required that he be there on holidays no matter who that holiday was for. And my father wasn't/isn't alone in that category by any stretch of the imagination.

How many of us have taken the time to thank a veteran for what they've done not only for this country but for ourselves? How many school kids who got today off from school to sit home and play video games or watch TV even know WHY they have this day off? How many people who flock to the local mall for all the great sales eve
n know WHY there are sales on this date? I'm going to guess the answer to be not too darned many!

During the course of your day tomorrow (the official Veterans Day and not the the extra day tacked on to give at least some people a three-day weekend) try to remember to say a silent 'thank you' to those men and women who have served or are se
rving in our Armed Forces - remember that we aren't "the land of the free and the home of the brave" simply because it sounds good in a song but because there are people who are willing to put their lives on the line for us to be so. Even if we can't remember that every day, let's try to at least remember it on the day dedicated to these people!

As for me - I'm darned proud of my Dad's service record and I'm glad I had the foresight to tell him that before he died. It would have been one of my greatest regrets to have never told him.

Staff Sgt Kendall B. Orlomoski & family
Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona 1965

Thursday, November 9, 2006

"Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence." ~ Abigail Adams

Amanda got the first report card of her 9th-grade year today and to say that I was less than pleased would probably be accurate. It's not that it was THAT horrible but I think she could have done a lot better if she had put forth a little more effort.

Whereas the A in band and A- in Phys. Ed were good - the C in Civics and C- in Algebra definitely were not! When I expressed my displeasure to my daughter, she responded that a C was average and that's what most people got but I'm not buying it. I am especially not buying a C- which is awfully darned close to being a D which is below average and totally unacceptable. Sorry, Amanda, no sale!

I wasn't Valedictorian of my class, unlike my weekend dispatch partner, but I got good grades and managed to make the Honor Roll on a regular basis. I can remember getting one D in my 8th-grade year and that was in Algebra, a class that I totally did not understand. I can still remember asking my teacher, Mr. Gallow, for help and him telling me to go ask "someone who knew" while he went back to reading the paper or throwing one of my classmates and his desk out into the hall. Apparently it was an effective method of teaching as the man eventually went on to become Superintendent of the Canterbury School System but it sure soured me on any form of higher math. To this day I have yet to obtain my college degree because I need an Algebra class and I can't bring myself to take one! Pretty pathetic that the one D I ever got in school can do that much damage!

At any rate - I know that Amanda can do better than what was printed on that piece of paper today. She's a smart kid and she's capable of pulling in better grades than that or else she wouldn't be getting a B in Honors Science and English. And really, all I ask from her at this point is at least a B in her classes. That would show me that she's at least putting in the effort and not just going through the motions - which seems to be the case in two of her classes.

I don't want to have to constantly breath down her neck to make sure that her homework and projects are done but I guess if that's what it's going to take then it's going to get pretty uncomfortable for her to have me on her back all the time. Hint, hint - Amanda!

Oh well, at least it will make it easier for me to get on the computer to post on my blog now that I have limited her time on the computer until those grades come up!

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

"In Hollywood, an equitable divorce settlement means each party getting fifty percent of publicity." ~ Lauren Bacall

Well, I am simply astonished, shocked, and completely taken by surprise - Britney Spears and Kevin Federline are getting divorced. Who could have ever predicted such a thing?!? I'm sure that we all thought that theirs was a marriage made in heaven and that it would last forever so I know I'm not alone in my complete and total dismay at this most astonishing of announcements.

And now poor Britney will have to try to make her way through life as a struggling single mother having to juggle both her career and her two young sons. I'm not sure how she's going to be able to handle it all.

Oh wait - I see she's been handling it just fine by throwing herself in front of every camera that provides even a miniscule photo-op and appearing on just about every news show that she possibly can while looking quite happy about the whole thing.

Apparently celebrities don't go through the same suffering that we mere mortals go through when a relationship ends - instead they go ice-skating in Rockefeller Center or make a surprise appearance on The David Letterman Show. No sitting home and crying over a marriage gone bad for Ms. Spears. Oh well, at least K-Fed had the good grace to look somewhat bummed when the paparazzi caught him out for dinner with his buds. Hmmm, I wonder if she employed the talents of the "Relationship Terminator" from my previous entry??

And to think that this news trumped that of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigning ... what is this country coming to and where have our priorities gone??

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

"O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! He chortled in his joy." ~ Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky

I'm sure that some of us thought this day would never come - Election Day 2006. This has been one of the most contentious, drawn-out, over-the-top political seasons that I think I have ever seen and I swear if I had saved up all of the fliers that presented themselves in my mailbox over the past few months and a fireplace, I could have cut down on my winter heating costs significantly!

I made sure to go to the polls on my way to work this morning just in case I got held over for one reason or another and couldn't get there before the polls closed. As I walked into the American Legion on Laurel Hill Avenue (my designated polling spot) the thought ran through my head that the vote of the guy who nicely held the door open for me might very well cancel out my vote but it's my civic duty and honor to participate in the voting process
and I would never think of not voting. Too many people have died in too many wars for me to take my rights and freedoms lightly. Besides, I have been put through months of torture with this political campaign - along with everyone else who owns a radio or TV or reads the newspapers - and I earned that right to vote by having to listen to the candidates throw insults and accusations at each other while claiming that everything that is wrong with the world could be solved if we'd just elect them to office!

From a check of the Norwich Election 2006 results page, it appears that Norwich has once again managed to have a really lousy
voter turn-out while other towns like Killingly, Montville, Canterbury, and Colchester had a record number of voters hit the polls. Sadly, Norwich seems to suffer from antipathy every single election and I've never quite figured out why. It's kind of embarrassing actually.

So far one of my choices has been declared a victor and that's Governor M. Jodi Rell in the race for governor against John DeStefano. Despite the Q-tip haircut, I think that she has done a fine job in office and felt that she really deser
ved her own term in the office that she took over when former Governor John Rowland proved to be such a big disappointment and crook. I'm sure she'll do good things for the State of Connecticut and there will never be a question of a scandal.

I'm still holding my breath on two other races - the one between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont for the Senate and the Congressional race between Rob Simmons and Joe Courtney. Connecticut has the chance to make political semi-history in the case of the Senate race and anyone who has read any of my previous blog e
ntries and knows that I am a strong supporter of bipartisan politics can probably guess where my vote went in that one! The numbers are close right now and I'd cross my fingers but it's kind of hard to type like that!

By tomorrow morning when I get up to go to work, it will all be over except for the Wednesday morning quarterbacking and all I can say is:

"`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe."

Yeah baby - it's over for a little while at least!

Monday, November 6, 2006

"I've been on a diet for two weeks and all I've lost is fourteen days." ~ Totie Fields

With no offense meant to either one of my parents or any relatives on the other branches of the family tree (a sturdy oak and certainly not a graceful willow!) I have to say that I did not inherit good genes when it comes to weight or metabolism. As a matter of fact, I inherited genes that are not only fat but they're slow. Slow as in - I have no metabolism. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch!

Because of this double dose of undesirable genes, I have spent a good portion of my life on one diet or another. Weight Watchers, Atkins, South Beach, Michael Thurmond, Richard Simmons, SlimFast, etc., etc. I once went on a diet where I ate nothing but grapes for almost a month, another where I ate nothing but hot-air popcorn and drank only Tab, and another where I ate ridiculous amounts of vegetable soup.

Most things don't work for me, even the well-touted and beloved Weight Watchers that seems to work so well for most people. One of the last times I was in a Weight Watchers center I threw my food journal across the room after stepping on the scale and finding out that despite following the program to a "T", drinking the requisite gallons of water, and exercising I had GAINED eight pounds in a week. I believe that was the last time my cousin Amy ever asked me to accompany her!

Since my birthday in September, I have once again been fighting the battle of the bulge(s) and it's been the typical uphill battle. Sometimes I don't know why I bother. Wise sage that he was, my father once told me, "you've got Hart genes and you can spend your whole life fighting them or accept them". Well, nothing for nothing, Dad but Hart genes combined with Orlomoski genes is one heck of a lethal combination as I've got the stubborn Orlomoski genes fighting the fat Hart genes and it seems like a war that will never be won or even end in a moderately peaceful truce!

I tell you, I truly envy those people who can put something in their mouth and not think about what part of their anatomy it's going to stick to! They don't mentally count calories or carbs or points or wonder what they're going to have to give up later to enjoy this particular morsel. Instead they eat it with complete abandon while savoring every single bite without feeling the slightest twinge of guilt. Now there's nirvana!

Still, it's not a fight I'm willing to give up just yet - however I do wish I'd pick an easier time to go on yet another diet rather than just before the holidays! Sigh, my timing has always been bad!

Hey ... are you gonna eat that??

Sunday, November 5, 2006

“Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it.” ~ Jules Renard

Things have changed a lot since I was young. There are a lot more cars and drivers on the roadways then there ever used to be, the cost of everything has skyrocketed, it's now socially acceptable to dress your kids in trashy Halloween costumes, minimum wage is still pathetic but a far cry from what it used to be, and now I have discovered that if you live in Germany and don't have the guts to break off a relationship with someone on your own, you can hire some guy to do it for you.

In an on-line article from entitled "Breaking Up? Not So Hard to Do", the writer introduces us to Bernd Dressler of the Separation Agency in Berlin. For prices ranging from $25 for a phone call to your intended-ex to $65 for the full package that includes Herr Dressler going over to pick up your personal belongings, you can now take the chicken way out of dumping someone you no longer wish to have in your life.

You have got to be kidding me ...

If there was any doubt in mind at all that we had become a society that shuns the personal touch this article more than removes it. Granted, breaking up with someone is never easy as you have to face those nasty little things we like to call emotions but come on now - how much more impersonal can you get than to hire some total stranger to call or go over to the person you've actually been in a relationship with to say "hey, it's been fun but it's the end of the line for me." I can only imagine how some poor unsuspecting person would feel to have the "Relationship Terminator" show up on their doorstep to announce Hasta la Vista, Baby! (Insert name here) will not be back. And oh, while I'm at it, I need to pick up his/her belongings ... Wow - talk about a slap in the face!

I can only imagine what Emily Post would have to say about this one!

Saturday, November 4, 2006

"Boy. What a softshell I'm turning out to be." ~ Sebastian, Disney's The Little Mermaid

So ... guess what I did last night?? Come on, you'll never guess!

Can you believe it? I drove through Worcester, Massachusetts for the second time in less than a week! Oh goody and joy! And on a Friday evening no less for which I think I deserve some sort of Badge of Courage or Medal of Honor!

After much long-distance giggling and conspiring on the phone with her cousins this week, Amanda declared that she just absolutely HAD to go to stay at their house for the weekend. They wanted to go see a movie and "ohmigod Nate might go!!"

Now how could I possibly say no? ... "On behalf of Mothers all over the world, I would like to accept this award for Mother of the Year" ... well, okay, let's not go that far but I expect a small boatload of gratitude from that daughter of mine for driving her 89.4 miles to her cousins' and then driving myself the same distance back just so that she could go spend the weekend in another State going all goofy over a kid with blue hair.

As I approached Exit 9 heading North, the last point of turning back before entering the City of Worcester-proper, I had the feeling that I have become quite the push-over these days when it comes to the whims of my daughter. A parent with more of a backbone would probably be sitting home in the comfort of their own living room rather than holding tensely to a steering wheel while driving through their least-favorite city - yet again! But like I said in another post, I can still remember being 14 myself albeit it be a very, very long time ago and spending just about every weekend with my cousins - who thankfully lived a lot closer than Amanda's does.

So what can I say but - ah, the things we do for love!

Friday, November 3, 2006

"I wanna run through the halls of my high school, I wanna scream at the top of my lungs ..." ~ John Mayer, No Such Thing

Tomorrow night is the 30-Year Class Reunion of the Windham High School Class of 1976 of which I was a member but which I am not attending. When I first received notifiation of this grand event this past summer I gave some thought to going and then put the questionnaire down on the kitchen counter with all of the other collective mail that is there and promptly forgot about it. When the actual invitation arrived in September I again looked at it, gave some thought to attending, and put it, too, down on the counter with all of the other collective mail that is there.

It wasn't until October that I again gave some thought to the reunion and, thinking that it was going to be held in late November, I dug through the collective mail that had piled even higher on the kitchen counter and finally found the invitation. That was on the 17th of October and the RSVP had to be back by the 10th of October. Oops! I suppose it would have been possible to contact someone on the reunion committee and explain the faux pas to them but then I decided that I didn't really want to spend $60 as well as take an unpaid night off of work, provided I could even get someone to cover for me on a Saturday night. Somehow it just didn't seem worth it to go see a bunch of people that I never even really talked to during high school - never mind since then.

My graduating class was somewhere around 350 people which was a large number back then though pretty standard for most high schools these days. I lived in Canterbury but was bussed to Willimantic every day as that was where the town had decided to send those of us who didn't want to attend either a tech school or vo-ag school. I had entered Windham in my Junior year as my first two years of high school were very happily spent at Portsmouth Senior High School in Portsmouth, New Hampshire as that was where my Dad was stationed at the time.

Let me just say that changing high schools in mid-stream absolutely, positively sucked! I had a lot of friends in Portsmouth, was on the school newspaper, and I was quite happy there. When I began the remainder of my high school career at Windham I had to try to form new friendships or rekindle the ones I had with the people I had graduated 8th-grade with. Fortunately for me my cousin Diana was in the same class as I and she was kind enough to introduce me to those friends she had made at Windham. My Junior year was tricky but Senior year wasn't bad as by that time I had forged some really good friendships and even got elected Class Secretary (which is really easy to do when you run unopposed!).

Still, there are probably only a dozen or so people that I would want to see at my Class Reunion and chances are real good that very few of those people are going to be in attendance. I recently had an email on my MySpace account from a former class member who knew nothing at all about the reunion and was bummed that she was going to miss it as she now lives in Florida and will be in Connecticut at the wrong time. Had she known ahead of time, she would have rearranged her schedule. But - that's one of the tough things about high school reunions that get to be 25, 30, 40 years out - people are scattered all over the place and are hard to track down.

I worked on the Reunion Committee for my 20th Class Reunion and though it was fun, it was a lot of work. Truth be told, I don't remember too much about the reunion itself and it didn't provide me with the opportunity to reconnect with any of my old high school buddies either. My best high school buddy Carol lives just a couple of towns over and I never seem to have the opportunity to hook up with her due to her schedule and mine and even though I know she's attending the reunion, it seems pretty pathetic to think that's the best we could do to get together. We should be able to find some time some where in our lives to catch up over a cup of coffee or something rather than have to attend a once-every-decade event - we can't possibly be that busy can we??

Maybe high school reunions are a good source of reflection but I don't really need to spend $60 to go to dinner at the Mystic Hilton with people I barely remember to reflect on my life since high school. Has it gone the way I thought it would? No. Have I done the things I thought I would? No. There is no way that I could have ever predicted that I would be twice divorced with three children and a grandchild 30 years ago and if I could have I guess I would have been better off making my living as a psychic rather than an ambulance dispatcher!

I'm sure everyone who attends will have a wonderful time and this actually provides me with a really good reason to get together with Carol so she can tell me all about it - provided we can coordinate our schedules long enough to do that!

Author's Note: Truth be told, I used to run through the halls of my high school when I was on the track team as we used to use the second floor of the school as an indoor track of sorts when it was too cold or rainy to go outside!

Thursday, November 2, 2006

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." ~ Harriet van Horne

Halloween at work this year was more of a treat than a trick for those of us who were working that day as we were treated to a specially prepared lunch with food that was out of this world. We've been known to have the occasional potluck or two to mark holidays but had decided that rather than have the standard meatballs in sauce in a crockpot, macaroni & cheese, etc that we'd ask Matt to cook for us.

Matt is an exemplary cook and works with another Matt who used to work at American long before I was there and now has a catering business in Central Village. They do weddings, parties, and events at the local cathedral and are apparently getting quite the reputation for making some excellent dishes. Whereas Matt is an excellent dispatcher and Fleet Manager, I think his real passion is cooking and if he could make a living at it we'd lose him at American in a very quick New York minute.

I think that even more enjoyable to him than the actual preparation was the planning of the menu - and that's saying something because he sounded positively giddy when he was doing the actual prep! It was every bit as good as he had told us it was going to be and is certainly going to make any future potluck lunches pale miserably in comparison!

Lunch started with two appetizers - Jack Daniels pulled pork over a corn muffin with cheese (forgive me, Matt, I forgot what kind of cheese!) and crabcakes with a corn relish that was out of this world. I would have been just as happy to call it good right there but that would have been very difficult with all of the other food that was spread out on the table behind me! The main course consisted of roast pork loin with a cranberry-citrus stuffing, pumpkin tortellini, garlic mashed potatoes with lobster, green beans, and a Fall salad with candied pecans. Last but not least was dessert - a pumpkin mousse with dark rum.

Everything was absolutely delicious and it was rather amusing to watch Matt fluttering over everything like a mother hen! He made sure that everyone had the opportunity to try everything and had no trouble accepting the compliments that he so richly deserved. If anyone went home hungry on Tuesday it was their own fault as there was enough food there to feed twice the number of people that were there. Of course, after lunch most of the schedulers wanted nothing more than to curl up and take naps rather than answer the phones as "enough" was in no one's vocabulary that day!

Good food is an art and Matt is definitely an artist when it comes to preparing it. My compliments to the chef and we are definitely going to have to do this again sometime - I'm afraid that meatballs in a crockpot have permanently lost their appeal!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

"A name pronounced is the recognition of the individual to whom it belongs." ~ Henry David Thoreau

One of the biggest differences between police/fire dispatching and ambulance dispatching is that ambulance dispatching is more personal. We dispatch a lot of "scheduled" calls - calls for patients going to doctor's appointments, dialysis treatments, visits to a hospital for some sort of treatment or test, and even trips home on holidays or other special occasions. These were things that I never knew about when I was across the street at the Norwich Police Department dealing with the nameless and faceless people who called for things like barking dogs, illegally parked vehicles, loud stereos, domestic violence cases, etc. Certainly there were some names that repeated themselves and were recognized (frequent fliers we call them) but they were no where near the number that I have encountered in my current job.

The road crews become attached to a lot of our patients, especially patients who have multiple transports sometimes either daily or at least several times a week. They get to know the people, the stories of their lives, their families; they know when they're having a good day or a bad day; and they come to care about them as more than just patients. When a patient succombs to kidney disease or cancer or whatever ailment they had, the crews that have transported and treated them grieve at their loss and sometimes even request a day off to attend a funeral. If that isn't personal, I don't know what is.

As part of our system of keeping track of our regular patients we have a write-erase board in dispatch/scheduling on which we write the names of patients that we either no longer transport, are in the hospital and not going to their regularly scheduled appointments, or are deceased. Sometimes the left side of the board that lists the patients who are in the hospital is empty and other times it's full; the right side of the board that lists the deceased is - sadly - full of names.

Unlike the road crews, I have no faces to associate with the names but those names have become as familiar to me as those of my friends and family. Even though I've never met a single one of those patients, I feel like I know them to a small extent and it saddens me to see a new name go up on the deceased side of the board.

A couple months ago we took on a new patient (who shall remain nameless in deference to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) who had what I thought was a very cool name. I conjured up the image of a very dignified man with ruddy cheeks and a beaming smile who was quick with a joke and a laugh, a man who was well-loved by his family, and who had a kind word for everyone. Shortly after we began his transports, he was admitted to the hospital and stayed there for a very long time. A couple of times he was scheduled to be returned to the nursing home that he was residing at but each time his transport would get cancelled and he would remain in the hospital. Still, he wasn't horribly old and I always thought he would eventually come out of the hospital and resume his normal dialysis treatments. Sadly, that was not to be the case.

Not even halfway through my shift today, Baby Liz told me that my favorite name on the admit board had to be moved to the deceased side as his obituary had appeared in the newspaper this morning. The man with the cool name had died on Monday having never left Lawrence & Memorial Hospital. Now maybe it was because I hadn't been feeling too good all morning or maybe it was because I was feeling a bit snoggily around the edges but when Baby Liz told me that he had passed away, I actually began to cry a little bit. I guess it seems silly to shed tears over a man I had never met, one whose name I knew only from the spreadsheets or computer, but I was very saddened at the news of his passing.

Out of curiosity, I looked up his name in the obituaries in the hopes that there might be a link to one of the many memorial pages that are on the web these days and sure enough, there was - complete with a picture of a man with ruddy cheeks, a beaming smile, and what looked to be a twinkle in his eye behind the glasses he wore. He looked like a loving husband and father, a beloved grandfather, and a man who had enjoyed his life to the fullest. In short, he looked just like I had pictured him to. The family has posted quite a few pictures in the "slide show" section of his memorial page and it looks like he had a done a lot of traveling in his life and that he'd had a fine time doing it. The pictures show what looks like a life well-lived and well-loved. No doubt his wife of 44 years will miss him greatly as will his children and grandchildren and I'm sure his memory will live on for a very long time in all of their hearts.

I only knew his name but maybe that's all I needed to know. I only know a lot of their names. And I guess if I'm going to be in this business for any length of time, I'm going to have to get a thicker skin ...