Monthly Archives: September 2016

Wanted: A Regular Alarm Clock

alarm-clockI need a new alarm clock. I want one that has a battery back-up to keep time and wake me up if the power goes out. The one my husband uses has that feature. When we bought it several years ago I thought it would solve our problem of not having to reset the alarm in the middle of the night after a storm. It also was supposed to have a dual alarm, so that was a winning combination. To me, dual means two alarms, one alarm for him and one for me. I was wrong about that. It does have two alarms, one for Monday-Friday and the other for the weekend. Too bad that wasn’t on the box, but was found in the fine print of the manual inside the box, which meant that I had to get my own alarm clock. And every time it storms and the power flickers for a brief moment, I have to reset my alarm clock. It wouldn’t matter if my husband was the first to get up, but I get up first. So if I wait for his alarm to go off, I’ll be late.

Alarm clocks are going the way of albums and cassette players.  I understand that. Today, people use their cell phones for everything. Even as an alarm clock. I don’t want my cell phone in the bedroom. When I get home from work, I plug it in and forget about it until the next morning. I am not on-call, so if it is work, it can wait until I get up the next morning. My husband used to have a work cell phone and his regular cell phone. He was rather tethered to both of them and it made me crazy when in the middle of a conversation he would get a text or a call and his focus would be on the phone. One time, during dinner out, he got a call from work just as we ordered dinner. He went to take the call outside and one call led to another. Our dinner came. I ate mine and his got cold. I asked for the check and a box for his and walked right past him to go to the car. I think that was when he realized I had enough of the cell phone during meal times, so it was a definite no in the bedroom. His new job doesn’t provide him with a cell phone, so when he gets home, work is put aside, which is nice.

So I started looking for an alarm clock. I don’t need one that charges my cell phone. I don’t want one that plays music through the device. Or one that tells me the date and temperature or works as a severe weather warning system. And I definitely don’t want one that illuminates the numbers on the wall or the ceiling in huge numbers. I have enough problem sleeping as it is. I just want one that will wake me up, has a battery and will stay set if the power goes out. It doesn’t matter if the numbers are red or green or blue, although blue might be a nice change. Anyway, alarm clocks are scarce in the stores, so I will have to take my search online. I’m sure I’ll find something. I just wish I could see it in person…and maybe read the little insert to see if it really has a battery back-up. My luck would be that it just runs on batteries and probably has a loud ticktock sound and be something else to make me not sleep.

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Emission Testing-Quick and Easy, Not Really

The state of Maryland requires any vehicle over 3 years old to have the emissions tested to make sure that the vehicle is not creating pollution and ruining the ozone layer. Vehicles are tested every two years and this year it is the Jeep’s turn. This usually means that we have to make plans to leave work early (usually me because I work closer) or go on a Saturday morning to the nearest location to get the test done. I was looking forward to this because we recently found a new pizza place near there that has a thin crust pizza that is absolutely delicious, so I figured we could get the test done and then get lunch. There is also an automatic car wash across the street, so we could cross three things off our list. Two for my husband, get the emission test and wash the Jeep. And one for me, eat yummy pizza.

mva-kioskAs my husband was reading the material and looking for the deadline, he saw that Maryland has put emission kiosks around the state and one was at the MVA office. And it was 3 miles closer than the real emission testing station was. He was excited to see that it cost one dollar less, $10 instead of $11 and it was available 24 hours a day. We could go anytime. Hooray!!! We’d save a dollar and I wouldn’t get pizza. I heard about this kiosk every day, for more than a week, until my husband decided that Saturday would be the day.

So on Saturday we drove to the MVA, which was closed, but the kiosk was open. As we pulled up to kiosk I pointed out that my husband had driven past the sign with the instructions. He promptly informed me that he had watched a video online, so he didn’t need the sign. And besides, the instructions on the screen would walk him through things step by step. Ummm, okay.

Step 1: Scan your emission notice. Not readable. Scan again.

Step 2: Insert credit card to pay $10. Done, but the card couldn’t be read so remove card and try again.

Step 3: Turn off car and put car in park. (I think it should be put car in park and then turn car off. Keeping quiet).

Step 4: Open the door to the right and remove the emission device.

Step 5: Plug the device into the slot below your dashboard. A picture shows where to stick the plug. This takes several attempts, but eventually the plug fits in.

Step 6: Start your car.

Step 7: Wait for your car’s emission information to be downloaded. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Step 8: Turn off the car.

Step 9: Remove the emission device.

Step 10: Test not completed. The device could not read your car’s emission information. Your payment will be refunded.

Additional steps added:

Step 11: Husband starts cursing about the “piece of s@#t thing not working” and what a “d$%n waste of time this is.”

Step 12: Wife expected this would happen, but kept it to herself so husband wouldn’t be more upset.

Step 13: Drive back home because the real emission testing place was now closed…but next time, I’ll get my yummy pizza.

Man Your Battle Stations

churchillThis is going to be a work update. Our new manager started in August and while she has been settling into the job the office has been in chaos. It has been interesting to see how people are trying to make themselves seem wonderful in her eyes, as if they are the perfect example of “Employee of the Year.” Oops, maybe they are trying so hard because the new manager actually was selected as “Employee of the Year” at her previous job. Anyway, it has been more of let the backstabbing begin and then the mudslinging starts.

Our office has been in transition for a while. We had the old manager leaving and the new manager coming on board. The plan was for the old manager to continue to come to our office for two days a week to help the new manager learn her position. That idea, while great in theory, lasted about two weeks. The old manager has done much of the training by phone and teleconference. Another area of transition is with our doctors. One is leaving to work at another community site. His replacement, while we know who it will be, has not been fully credentialed at our facility or with the insurance companies, so that has caused a delay. The physician leaving wants us to slow down on giving him new patients and our other physician is taking on the majority of the patients and is feeling overwhelmed and overworked. Our head nurse doesn’t like our new manager and has already complained about her to the director of the center. Added to this are rumors of cutting staff and people are worried about their jobs.

Employees are trying to get the attention of our new manager and they don’t necessarily care if they throw another employee under the bus in order to do so. Tension and animosity is growing in the office. I had one employee straight out lie to try to get out of doing a task that she was given more than a year ago by telling our manager that she “volunteered” to do it because my section was too busy and it is time we took it back. Of course, I was called into the office and questioned about this. I explained to my manager that the task the employee was given had never been my sections to do and that she was given the task because she didn’t have enough work to do and they were trying to justify keeping her position full-time. I also let the manager know that there had been a nasty, hostile confrontation with the former manager and the employee in June during my weekly meeting and to please verify it with her. She did and now she knows the truth. As for the lying, co-worker, I discuss work and only in front of witnesses. Any further conversation doesn’t happen. I keep our interaction limited and the door to my office closed.

I had high hopes that things would be different and sort themselves out once the new manager came on board, but that isn’t the case. A number of co-workers are looking for other jobs. They used to hide that fact, but now it is being discussed out in the open. Their feelings are if the manager knows, maybe something will change. I’m getting tired of waiting for the change to come. In my opinion, the wrong people are looking for other jobs. The one’s causing the problems are the ones that should be looking elsewhere. I spoke to my husband and he knows that I have set a date in my head of when I will have enough. Either things get better or I start the search for a new job. As always, he is supportive. And I love him for that. It makes it easier to go into work every day. Until then, I have made the quote below my new motto and have put it on the bottom of my computer monitor where I can look at it each day. I also have it written it Italian, which makes it harder for people to know what it says:

“Sometimes it’s better to react with no reaction.”

 “A volte e meglio reagire con nessuna reasione.”
 

A Quiet Weekend

Do you ever have one of those rare weekends where you stay home and do absolutely nothing? If you’re anything like me, those don’t happen very often and when they do, you almost feel guilty that you didn’t really accomplish all that much. This past weekend was one of those for us. On Friday, before leaving for work, I had put a pork loin in the crock pot with some Sticky Fingers Carolina BBQ Sauce…yummy, and my husband and son did the yard work that would normally be done on the weekend. Fridays are usually one of the days that we will eat out, but my husband had gotten off work early, so he started in on the yard and it was done before dinner. That left Saturday free and he was looking at his list to try to figure out what he wanted to do next. Washing the cars was on the list, so he figured he would tackle those on Saturday.

teaWhen he woke up, he said that his throat was scratchy and a little sore. As the day wore on, he began to talk like he gargled with gravel, and while he wasn’t running a fever, he didn’t feel good. So he made a beeline for his comfy chair and dozed off. Now usually, when the hubby is sick, he can be needy, so I tend to be busier. That wasn’t the case this time. I made him a cup of tea once in a while and offered to make him soup, but he said he didn’t have much of an appetite, so I found myself with time on my hands and not sure what to do. I needed to vacuum, but hubby was sleeping, and that can be done one night after work. I read for a while and searched the web for recipes for vegetables. Yes, I am still trying to find ways to cook veggies that I will eat :). And I did get all the laundry done. But mostly I just relaxed and enjoyed the quiet time. Well, as quiet as it is with a pug and a husband snoring in the background, but you get the idea.

It’s Pumpkin Everywhere…It Must Be Fall

pumpkinsIt used to be the only time you ate something pumpkin was at Thanksgiving. On a rare occasion, you might have also had it at Christmas, but if you did, chances are you were considered to be a little outside the norm in doing so. I mean pumpkin is for Thanksgiving, or at least it used to be. Now, it seems that pumpkin is in every food imaginable. If you like the taste of pumpkin, then you should be in heaven.

There are the usual offerings, such as pumpkin bread and muffins, but it has now moved on to pumpkin spice coffee at any number of coffee shops, as well as being available in your favorite individual pods and cups to making a whole coffee pot of the fall flavor. There are marketing campaigns that try to convince you that you have just been marking the days off the calendar just waiting for your favorite pumpkin coffee to come back to your coffee shop. I’m sure they sent you an email or text alerting you to the exact moment the coffee would return to the store. Right? And they will even sell you bags and pods of pumpkin coffee that you can make at home and it will taste just the same. Nope.

If that isn’t enough pumpkin for you, there are also pumpkin creamers by many different companies to make your coffee taste even more pumpkin. Each one tastes different, so the pumpkin fan will buy them all to find the one that it a perfect fit. It has invaded our breakfast cereals and toasted muffins. I actually saw  pumpkin shredded wheat and pumpkin O’s cereal along with pumpkin English muffins and bagels. Just imagine, you can spread your pumpkin cream cheese on your pumpkin bagel to complete your morning pumpkin fest. And did I mention soup? Search the internet and you can find pumpkin recipes for soups, butter, pudding and even waffles.  I’m sure you’ll find something that you like.

I will admit that in October, I usually buy one of the pumpkin cream cheese rolls that you can find in almost every grocery store. They are rather yummy with a cup of hot coffee after dinner. My son also likes pumpkin bread and I will make at least one batch from scratch. If he wants more, Pillsbury makes a great mix :). That treat usually carries us until Thanksgiving and the pumpkin pie still warm from the oven with lots of whipped cream to top it off. Yummy! As for the other things, I’m really not a fan. I’ve tried pumpkin coffee and didn’t like it. I finally tried pumpkin coffee creamer and it is okay, but once the bottle is gone, I will not buy it again. Honestly, most of the items made from pumpkin really don’t taste good to me, so I will stick to the original, pie, and occasionally branch out to bread…with warm butter. I can almost smell it. Oh well, off to make some. It’s September, but it’s not too soon, right?

Are You Still Using Your Fitness Tracker?

Last year it seemed like everyone I know had some sort of fitness tracker attached to their wrist. At work, it started with one of our overly fit co-workers and quickly spread throughout the office. For me, I will never be able to run or exercise like I used to when I was younger. My job is one that I am sitting behind a desk for most of the day which is not a good thing. Everything I read said that you should get up and walk every hour, which I do, but I wanted to know how many steps I take at work. I also wanted to track my daily food, so I joined the tracker wagon and began tracking.

At first, I think you are successful because you are conscious of this thing on your wrist. My tracker has a feature where it beeps at you if you have been sitting too long and a red bar appears, increasing every 15 minutes until it is solid. To get it to go away, you have to walk a certain number of steps, so it sort of motivates you to move. The tracker was also supposed to sync up with my food tracker app. The more steps I took, the more calories I burned, so they were supposed to transfer over to my food tracker. I would enter or scan the food that I ate and it would send those results to my fitness tracker. The idea was good and it worked. Or I should say it mostly worked. I noticed that my fitness tracker would always add one more step and my calories would be one less than what was on my food tracker. Okay, I could live with being 1 step and 1 calorie off.

What happened next was harder to live with. In December, I noticed that my fitness and food trackers were no longer syncing. While some steps were sent to my food tracker, it was usually way off, sometimes by more than 1000 steps. In addition, none of my food calories transferred to my fitness tracker, so it always shows me as not having eaten at all. I tried everything to get them to sync again and nothing worked. The only way to enter the data was to do so manually, which took away the ease of automatic syncing. Troubleshooting online showed me that the problem seemed to be happening to people with every type of fitness tracker, not just mine. It also appeared to have happened after an update with the software for the food tracker. Some tried to blame the phone, but it didn’t matter if you had an Android or iPhone or any other type of phone. It also didn’t work when I tried to sync it from my computer, which told me that there was a bigger issue going on. I later read that my food tracker had launched a fitness tracker. So I think I found the bigger issue. What better way to get people to buy your tracker than convincing them there is something wrong with their current one?

So, the question for me was what was more important, tracking my steps or tracking my food. And since I will never be the athlete that needs to monitor every aspect of their body for maximum athletic knowledge…makes me laugh just typing that…I have decided that I will track my food. So I have taken off my fitness tracker and put it away. If I want to count steps again, I will go back to the old-fashioned pedometer. After all, my hi-tech one didn’t track when I waved my hand, which I noticed happened with my other one. And since I tend to speak with my hands a lot, my total steps for the day were increased from that alone, so I really wasn’t getting an accurate count anyway. I noticed that a few of my co-workers have stopped wearing their trackers as well. They all have a variety of reasons as to why, but the one thing I’ve observed is that we are all still trying to get fit. It just doesn’t seem as if the tracker is the right thing to help us along the way.

I Just Want A Pillow

PillowsAround the time that we moved to Kansas, I started having problems sleeping. Growing up, we always had our windows open and a fan pulling in the air to keep us cool at night. When I went to college, I had a fan on most of the time to help drown out the noise of the neighbors. After getting married, I would keep the television on and the fan to break the silence when my husband was deployed or away for training. When he was home, the fan was used to stay cool because he puts off a lot of body heat and I don’t sleep well when I’m hot. When we moved to Kansas, the weather was cool, the fan was making it cooler, but I started having problems sleeping. Trying to figure out why was a lesson in futility.

I have always been a light sleeper. I wake up at the littlest noise and too much silence makes it hard to sleep. As soon as the sun starts to lighten up outside, I am awake. Room darkening drapes do nothing for me. So when I couldn’t sleep even with all the normal things in place, I began changing those things that I could. We got a new mattress. I bought softer sheets and I bought pillow after pillow to find one that would allow me to sleep. I have purchased pillows that were supposed to be highly recommended and the “Perfect Pillow”. For me, I tossed and turned and the pillow ended up on the floor. I keep my old one close in case I need it, which I usually do. For me, if I can’t sleep with it or it isn’t comfortable, it goes in the closet. My son is amused by my pillow shopping. He also benefits the most when I buy one. He only needs to open the closet and select one when he wants a new pillow or if he wants more than one.

I currently have three pillows lined up next to the bed. Each have been tried, used a few times and tossed aside. Last night I tried one again. It lasted maybe twenty minutes. I went back to my current one, which is rather soft and doesn’t keep it’s shape. By morning it is usually scrunched up and pushed into the space between the mattress and the headboard. My neck is usually sore and I’m tired. I’m open to suggestions if anyone has a pillow recommendation. Or if you need one, barely used, you can probably find it in my closet.

Happy Labor Day

Labor Day

September Cancer Awareness

The month of September places the focus on many different types of cancer. Included are Childhood, Gynecological, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Ovarian, Thyroid and Prostate cancers.

Childhood Cancer-01Childhood Cancer is represented by a gold ribbon. According to CureSearch.org 43 children are diagnosed with cancer every day. Twelve percent of those diagnosed will not survive. Many organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation raise money that goes towards children’s cancer research. New treatment options are being developed thanks to the money raised.

 

Gyn CancerGynecological cancers is represented by a purple ribbon. Included in gynecological cancers is  uterine, endometrial, cervical vulva and vaginal and each individual cancer has their own ribbon as well. To see those, click here.  Each year 80,000 women are diagnosed with one of the cancers above and 25,000 will lose their battle.

 

 

Hodgkins_OrchidThe orchid ribbon represents Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This type of cancer affects your immune system and is found in the lymph nodes throughout your body. Due to improvements in the treatment options, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma had a high rate of survival

 

 

LeukemiaThe orange ribbon brings awareness to Leukemia, which is a type of cancer that is often found in the blood and bone marrow. Symptoms may include weight loss, bruising and fatigue. Chemotherapy is one of the main forms of treatment.

 

 

LymphomaLymphoma is represented by a bright green ribbon. It is a disease that starts in the lymph nodes, especially in the neck and under the arms. It also affect your immune system. The survival rate for people who have had lymphoma for 10 years is 59%. Treatment options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy and in rare cases stem-cell transplants.

 

 

OvarianOvarian cancer is one that does not have many symptoms. Instead, women may have pain in their pelvic area. Fewer that 200,000 cases are diagnosed each year. The main treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery and chemotherapy.

 

 

ThyroidThyroid cancer is represented by a tri-color ribbon. It is one cancer that if found early can be treated easily and has a high rate of survival.

 

 

 

ProstateProstate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men, but it also has one of the highest success rates and is often considered to be curable. Treatment of prostate cancer is usually done through a combination of surgery and radiation therapy.

 

 

For more information on any of the cancers above or if you would like to know how you can show your support, click on the links below:

CureSearch For Children’s Cancer

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

CDC

American Cancer Society

Choose Hope

 

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