28 September 2007

90 day review

On time 5
Cooperation 2
Appearance 3
Professionalism 3
Productivity 1
Patient care 5

Yes, that is my 90 day review. (5 being the best) No, it is not accurate. The “crappiest ambulance company on earth” uses a computer to formulate your review. ‘Computer’ as in some random software that the company bought on the street for five cents.
I inspected said computer for eyes, a mirror, or hidden camera and found none. Even so, I scored a 3 for appearance.

The bottom of the review said that by signing, it meant that I have read and understand the review. I asked, “Can I refuse to sign this? Or would that further lower my cooperation score?”

I took it to the guy above my supervisor and inquired into this idiocy. He said that I looked better than half of the employees there and I had been on for 26 hours and was going home, so I probably deserved more than a 3. I pointed out that I am an obsessive professional, (although I didn’t mention that it was really hard when you hate the job). He said that he would put together a real review. One done by real humans who are literate and have eyes and have met me.

To be honest, I don’t think that will ever get done. And, to be honest, I don’t care. I really don’t care what they think of me at that job. I just don’t want a future employer to call them and say, “Why did she get a 2 in cooperation?” and have them answer “I dunno, ‘cause the computer said so.”

I also don’t care because I hope to be leaving there soon. I have just taken a per diem job somewhere way better. I am assured that it will turn into a full time spot in a few months. With the crappiest ambulance company on Earth, I am just a shadow of a paramedic. I cannot wait to be a real one again.

14 September 2007

Work and Such

Nothing makes me happier at work than seeing a stack of fresh sheets and having a full jar of cavicide wipes. In fact, aside from my partners, these are the only things that make me happy at work. I’m feeling a rant post coming up about my disdain for my job. Also, there will be more on its replacement. Something is finally in the works in terms of a better job. I have about 2 more weeks of paper shuffling before it is official, but I am, predictably, dead excited about a professional change.

Last week at work we got to go to prison. The prison. We picked up our patient who had pulled out his chest tube. “Didn’t that hurt?” I asked, “It was stitched in.” “No” he replied. On our way out, the officer we were with discovered a nerf football on the ground between the main wall and the actual jail. I guess that 30 feet of grass around the jail and a huge wall serve as additional deterrents from escape. I looked back at him and he was ripping the ball apart and inside it was tucked a small folding knife. I suppose it had been surreptitiously thrown into the prison grounds, its intended recipient would never get it now. I was pretty fascinated by the whole prison thing anyway, and the ball was just the icing on the cake. If I had seen a cake with a file baked into it, I would have lost it.

Last time I went kayaking I had a canoe rescue of sorts. I was pretty far out and I heard one of the rental canoes blowing their emergency whistle. The wind was blowing my way, so I was probably the only one that heard it. I immediately assumed that it was some young whippersnappers abusing their emergency whistle rights. As I got closer (some minutes later) I discovered that it was two canoes floating near the edge of the water. A woman in one of them asked me for help. They didn’t appear to be in any distress, they weren’t falling in or tipping wildly, she just said that they were ‘stuck.’ As I got the whole story, they were not physically stuck, they just couldn’t get anywhere. As we were talking, her companion in the other boat, yelled to her son a panicky “Don’t rock the boat!” Sadly, the fun of their outing was coming to an end. I assured them I’d get someone, but it may take awhile as we were still quite a way from the boat rental. I finally found an employee about 10 minutes later and they were happy to go rescue them in their motor boat. “Rescue boat Pisgah 1, in service.”

I have also added a handful of pictures online. They are of some flowers I found when I went kayaking. Manual zoom while in a kayak is a bit tricky. I didn’t even notice the praying mantis on the one flower until I had taken its picture a few times.

Other than that I explored aimlessly, drove through a creek, and actually watched the sunset for the first time in way too long.

Google search term of the day: “can you weigh 8 stone to be a model?” Okay, 8 stone is 112 pounds. It sounds like this question was asked because 8 stone sounded like it might preclude one from becoming a model. If this is true (which it probably is), it is pretty sad for society (and, there goes my modeling career).

08 September 2007

Lessons in mountain biking

Recently, I finally hit some real mountain biking trails. I feel that I have been missing out on something truly great. I completely get it. Already I have accomplished things on the bike that I never thought possible. It seems that whatever appears on the trail in front of me, I will get past it. Every log, every rock, every root I (for lack of a better technical term) boofed, I laughed out loud. For every root or rock, I (for lack of a better technical term) ‘foobed’, I had a great smile on my face. I am loving it. In just a few trips, I have learned a lot.

Clearance is only as high as your lowest pedal (which can be quite low).

Wheels have more than one master: you and the terrain.

You can go too slow.

You can go too fast (well, that's what I hear, but I haven't really tested it yet)

Biking can be a full body workout.

It is an amazing feeling to have your every fiber totally focused on not dying.

Adrenaline is not having a car whiz by you on a hill with a blind curve, it is picking your way down a steep, rocky slope and letting go of the brake.

Camelbaks can keep water cold for hours.

I love that surviving the down hills can feel like just as big an accomplishment as conquering the up hills.

Taking up something physical was absolutely the best thing to do. I have literally felt anger melt away.

What goes down, must come up.

Getting over the fear, trusting myself, and to a greater extent, the bike, is just awesome.

I talk to myself a lot when I am working hard.

In mountain biking, you don't have the time to sit back and check out the other guys stuff. You pass in a blur, exchanging a quick greeting, or a knowing nod, that yeah, this is tough. In kayaking you can hold entire conversations in passing, while discovering the brand and model of their boat, paddle, pfd, even their water bottle choice. In biking all I see is that they have a bike, maybe a helmet, and they are going a lot faster than I am.

Bike shorts are great...which leads me to the spandex.

Spandex

It has been widely believed for the last 24 years that the likelihood of Ellie wearing spandex was equal or less than that of a staunch vegan wearing leather.

But, after 14 miles or so on those tiny standard issue bike seats, it was clear that something must be done. So, I dug out that gel seat cover from a few years ago. This gave a marginal amount of relief. Still, it was becoming apparent that real bike shorts were in order.
That’s right, bike shorts, the ones made of spandex with that huge padded crotch, shorts that couldn't show any more unless they were painted on, the garment which is generally not acceptable to be worn in public. But, oh how times have changed. They now make what are called ‘baggy bike shorts.’ This is an absolute brilliant concept of taking the standard bike short, and then covering them up with regular shorts. When worn properly, no one knows that the spandex is there! They're even suitable for public viewing. Small children will not be scarred for life, and no elderly people will suddenly be stricken ill as you pass.

Once I made this discovery, I was off to find a pair. Sadly, my old favorite store has lost its luster as of late. But that’s okay, I found these 'phantom' bike shorts at another store. They are, like many things, too expensive, but let me tell you, they are worth every penny!
I never thought that I would ever, ever wear spandex, or even a product remotely resembling spandex. And, I'm sorry for those of you who just lost bets. But these shorts are great.

07 September 2007

Silly Catface!

My brother moved to NYC last week and I acquired about 20 paintings, 5 boxes of books, some tools, and a cat. Yes, I am a sucker and yes, loving your family can get you into trouble.

I am a cat person, but I did not go right out and get one when I moved. I think that I fear permanence. No matter, a free cat with all related accessories is a welcome addition to my, well, kind of lonely apartment. For the first day or so she was completely horrible, hissing and swatting at me whenever we were in the same room. I gave her a pretty sweet set up in my bathroom and bedroom. I bought her treats and toys. I really wanted to win her over. Turns out all she needed was time. Just last night she emerged from her fortress in the bathroom and slept on the bed. I was quite happy.

My brother cannot be trusted to name pets. To my knowledge he has named three cats. “Little Cat” who was, consequently, little, “Fatty McBlack” who, surprisingly, was fat and black, but not Scottish. And, now I have “Kitty” who is, in fact, a kitty.
I suppose that I’m going to stick with this highly original name. I could change it, but she has been Kitty for so long it would have to be something that started with a hard “K” sound. Kindle, Crackhead, Kickboxer, Kit-Kat, are a few possibilities.
I am partial to calling her Catface after the Weebls-Stuff cartoon of the same name. She looks quite a bit like the cartoon, and as it spends most of it’s time lighting shopkeepers on fire, stealing grannies, and insulting humans, I think it’s a good fit. “You are very funny, you talk and all I hear is silliness.” it quips in a French accent. So, in my mind, Kitty is French and very strange indeed.

06 September 2007

Shopping

I don’t normally drown my sorrows in a sea of retail, but I have been doing a lot of shopping lately. More than ever, especially after getting my own apartment and realizing that I had pretty much nothing in the way of furniture or anything generally useful.

I love and hate shopping. Everyone loves getting new stuff; clothes, chips, yogurt flavors, the accessory that you didn't know you needed until you saw it in the store. I especially like online shopping, but I think that’s mostly because I love getting things in the mail.
Shopping also makes me go insane. For example: super Wal-mart. This is a store with just too much stuff in it. It is both convenient and overwhelming to me that I can get groceries, plants, windshield wiper fluid, socks, and a DVD player in the same place. Here, and in any number of stores, I can find myself agonizing over the most ridiculous minutiae. For me, there are just too many choices. I can stand for long minutes in the paper aisle and debate with myself if I want super soft toilet paper or super strong. “They’re both the same price, but this one claims to be softer. Okay, I’ll feel it...now I have to feel the other one…they feel the same. Well, this one has quilting. What does quilting do anyway? Do I need super strong? It’s not like I’m going build a bridge with it.”

It goes on and on; double rolls, singly ply or double, mega rolls (whatever that means), value size, with or without George Bush’s face on it, super absorbent. In the end, who really cares anyway?! They all do the same job. After wondering just how long I had been standing there I blindly grabbed one off the shelf and threw it into the cart.

And it’s not just toilet paper, it’s everything! Ice creams that boast 10 less calories per serving than the other guys, very young peas or just young peas, low fat, reduced fat, or less fat chips, pasta shapes, egg sizes, different types of salad in a bag. I can smell different flavors of shave gel over and over for 5 whole minutes before deciding on the same flavor I always get. I don't need so many choices.

I don’t know why these decisions are so difficult to me.

Conversely, with clothes, I am very decisive. I never know what I want, but I definitely know what I don’t want. I can blast through a rack of clothing faster than anyone I know. The commentary is usually “hate it, hate it, hate it, has potential, hate it, hate it…) When I’m shopping for clothes, I subconsciously allot myself one trip into the changing room, even if I have to bring in 20 items (although I think I'm only allowed 6), it's one trip. In and out.


Recently I went to an organic market. The store was full of yuppies carrying their starbucks, toting their children wearing organic clothing paying $8 for a box of cereal. What is organic clothing? And why does it cost so much more than non organic clothing? I am not, by any means, on the organic bandwagon. But, I bought some apples, and absolutely the most effing delicious croissants this side of the Atlantic! I was almost mad that they were so good, as for some reason, I don’t want to believe that organic food is different than regular food. But they were so good….

Ooh, sorry, I got lost in a fantasy about biting into a crunchy and squishy croissant.

05 September 2007

Overdue biking post

I have been biking quite a lot lately. I’ve been on the road (as opposed to the trail) to build up my endurance. Road biking is pretty cool. It’s not nearly as tedious as I envisioned. I can map out different routes depending on how I feel, or how long I have, and see something different every day. I try to stick to the less traveled roads for safety’s sake.
Aside from the occasional nice view, road biking is basically ups and downs. In the area around my house it seems that I am either coasting down a hill or struggling up one. This I love and hate.
It is an amazing feeling to be pedaling furiously up a steep hill, clicking into a lower gear, while the bike is only advancing inches, head down, all muscles united in a common goal; to crest that hill. I will note tiny landmarks, “just make it to that mailbox, that rock, that driveway.” I question constantly if I will actually make it without stopping. I promise myself that I’ll drink water and rest at the top. I decide to have ice cream after dinner. I pedal until all that matters is climbing that hill and all other thought is gone. But suddenly, I’ve done it. It’s odd because the whole time I’m thinking that I can’t, I am actually doing it. I did it while trying to talk myself out of it.

Road biking is also nice because after the up hills, there is undoubtedly a nice rest opportunity as I glide down the other side. A time to catch my breath and stretch one leg at a time. This never happens in mountain biking. But that’s another post.

04 September 2007

Oh, Death

It is inevitable and yet still manages to sneak up on you. Sometimes, death appears so quickly that even it is surprised to be there. Although, it can also linger in the background, waiting and waiting for the opportune moment.

In the end, I think that we all want generally the same thing; to go quietly, without a fuss, to feel satisfied, complete, that our work is done, and especially to have our loved ones feel comfortable. These things are, of course, very difficult to measure, and I would guess that only a small percentage of people actually get the death they envision. Or maybe I’m wrong.

I have been directly and indirectly involved in deaths of all types; murder, negligence, trauma, respiratory arrest, suicide, miscarriage, cardiac arrest. I have taken people from their homes to hospice, caressed the foot of a dying baby, withheld intervention, performed pointless CPR, told people their mother was dead. Unfortunately, none of this has made death any easier. I wish that these experiences had given me great insight, the perfect thing to say to comfort my mourning friends, but they have not. I still do what anyone else does, console as best I can, and just plain be there, somehow knowing when to talk and when to listen.

Most deaths I believe could be safely categorized as unfair. And by unfair, I mean untimely. I have seen far too many untimely deaths. Saying that a death is a relief can seem a bit barbaric to me as it is fairly rare to experience a timely death. Although, I do believe it is possible, and I have seen it.
I’d rather feel a bit barbaric than to say that a death is ‘meant to be’ or ‘for a reason’ as this is absolute crap.

It is nice to sense that the deceased is in a ‘better place’, whatever that may mean. Which leads me to the true subject of this entry. My Grandfather died last weekend. It wasn’t a surprise exactly, but it was still shocking when I heard it.
I definitely see him with my Grandmother whom he adored, wearing a watermelon colored button down shirt and a silly bucket hat. They must be in Florida wading on the beach, or in their old kitchen with us on a lazy Sunday afternoon eating Little Caesars pizza and drinking Pepsi.

It is interesting when someone in your life dies, you can’t help but relive all the memories you have of them. These memories will forever connect you. In the end they are all we truly have, our greatest inheritance, our greatest legacy.