Another Work Week Launches

The weekend was altogether too short, as it always is.  I took Susie to her Religious Education class at church yesterday.  Neither she nor I were in the mood for the 11 a.m. service–and I had arrived too late for the 9 a.m. one, so I worshipped at Temple Panera, partaking the sacrament of a Dutch apple bagel and endless cups of Diet Pepsi.  Susie joined me and had two cookies and milk.  (A lot of Unitarian churches–but not the one here in Columbus–go on hiatus during the summer.  A Baptist once asked me why that was.  The only answer I could come up with is that we were the only denomination that God could trust out of His sight for three months.  Somehow I don’t think he was satisfied with that answer.)

I’ve re-read Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, and I’ve found it more relevant to my life now more than ever.  (Not the constant barrage of lies from the White House, the encouragement of vile emotions like patriotism, the populace lulled into contentedness with a bottomless supply of empty entertainment–I can get all that from TV news, no need to rely on Orwell.)

The beginning of Part I, Chapter 4 sounds like the typical beginning of my work day, when the clock reads 7 a.m. and I am the first one in the office (except maybe for my supervisor–she and I usually arrive within five minutes of each other):

With the deep, unconscious sigh which not even the nearness of the telescreen could prevent him from uttering when his day’s work started, Winston pulled the speakwrite towards him, blew the dust from its mouthpiece, and put on his spectacles. Then he unrolled and clipped together four small cylinders of paper which had already flopped out of the pneumatic tube on the right-hand side of his desk.

Steph started on Lasix (furosemide) today, and so far it’s not having its desired effect.  A lot of the cardiac-related problems have been because of water retention.  This has been why her fingers are so swelled she can’t take off her rings without Jergen’s lotion.  Even climbing a flight of stairs makes her sound like she’s just run a marathon race.  (She called me at work today while going upstairs to the second floor.  I thought she was going to pass out.)  Her cowardly doctors refused to prescribe Lasix until the potassium levels of her blood were checked (which is why she had a blood draw Saturday morning).

She passed on Women’s Chorus tonight because she was afraid that she’d spent most of the time running back and forth between rehearsal and the bathroom.  But it seems like she could have gone to Women’s Chorus without having to worry, because she’s still retaining water like the Grand Coulee Dam.

I went to the National Institute of Health’s Website, MedlinePlus, and printed out the entry on Lasix for her.  According to it, she should have a bladder the size of a pea (too obvious a pun–sorry, folks!) grape for the next six hours.  Not happening yet.

I highly recommend the NIH’s Medline site.  The Physicians’ Desk Reference volume I have on my desk at work is mammoth, so it’s been gathering dust since I discovered this Website.  Just punch a few keys, and voila, I have the same information without throwing out my back picking up a huge book.  (I understand that Elvis Presley would sit down with the PDR like a little kid going through the Sears toy catalogue.)  I may give my copy to Keith Richards, so he can cater his next party.

It would be wrong if I didn’t share the URL for this site.  It’s 

This has been the extent of the thrilling day I’ve had.  To give you folks a chance to catch your collective breaths, I will add a video of one of my favorite songs from the 1980s, a very obscure one (although it did reach #27 in the USA in 1987) by a Canadian duo, the Partland Brothers.  (They really are named Partland.) I’ve always liked the song, and the video is quite good as well.

I Gained New Vision Today!

I haven’t had any religious epiphany or gotten a glimpse into the world to come.  I merely walked over to the optometrist’s office during my lunch break (see my description of the blizzard earlier this month; this is the same optometrist who said I could come if I was willing to come right then, before they closed the office.)  My worst moment during that blizzard was escaping the hard-sell of the optician who wanted me to get contact lenses.  (I hate putting things in my eyes–I can’t even give myself eye drops, so contacts would be impossible for me.)

So I now have a new pair of bifocals.  They’re no-line bifocals, which Stephanie has but hates, but it is too soon for me to be able to pass judgment.  I feel like I did with my first pair of bifocals, like I’m about 9′ tall–kind of like looking through the wrong end of a telescope.  When I came out of the Atrium that connects the William Green Building with Nationwide Insurance’s complex, there is a flight of three or four steps from the revolving door into the Green Building rear lobby.  I felt like an old lady, but I held the railings on both sides and eased my way down the steps.

Steph’s old heart problem has reared its ugly head again.  I may have blogged about this before, but if not, I’ll bring you up to speed.  Steph was born with a subaortic stenosis in a heart valve.  Until Susie was born, she thought it was a mere heart murmur.  However, when Susie was born in 1997, she went into congestive heart failure.  (Susie was born on Monday at Grant Hospital; she and Steph were discharged on Friday.  Steph was taken by squad to Riverside Methodist Hospital  by the squad about three hours after we got home.)  The open-heart surgery that the doctors said was necessary we were able to postpone until February 12, 1999.  (I remember the date because it’s Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, and because Bill Clinton was acquitted of all charges in his impeachment.  My first words to Steph when she was coming out of the anesthetic was, “Clinton was acquitted!”)

Anyhow, Steph went to see her new cardiologist on Monday.  This was just a maintenance check-up, until they did the sonogram and found out her valve has been leaking.  (In the ’99 surgery, they did not replace the heart valve, although we thought they would.  They removed the valve, removed all the glop that had been clogging it, and put the valve back in.)  The heart surgeon told us that the valve probably wouldn’t last forever–frankly, I am surprised it lasted as long as it has.

Steph has been getting the runaround about lab work, blood draws, etc.  The doctor isn’t willing to prescribe Lasix until she’s had some lab work done, meanwhile her fingers are retaining so much water she can’t remove her rings without using Jergen’s lotion.  Just a two-block walk makes her pant like she’s just run a marathon race, and she’s put her voice students on hiatus because she doesn’t have the stamina to sing lately.

So now we wait.  Steph is hoping to get to Riverside’s lab in the morning, and we’re hoping that’ll be a quick-in, quick-out procedure.  It’s their move as to what we do next.  (In all fairness, the labs at Riverside and at Grant Hospitals–they’re both with OhioHealth–have always been quite efficient and fast.  I went to both of them last summer when my psychiatrist wanted to check my lithium levels.  That was when my hands were trembling like tuning forks.)

For more details about this, Steph has started her own LiveJournal blog.  Go to to read about the above from her point of view.

In other news, I bought Susie’s and my tickets for our April 11th Cincinnati trip, two weeks from today.  We’ll be at the Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention, and I will probably spend too much money, but Susie loves the convention and also visiting Clifton, my old neighborhood (1990-1995), although I like the way it was, rather than the way it is now.  (The convention itself is at the Cincinnati North Hotel in Greenhills, which is almost 20 miles away from downtown.  Fortunately, there are two buses that serve nearby Tri-County Mall to get us back into town, although it’ll be a very circuitous trip.  One of the routes takes you through Elmwood Place, the first Cincinnati neighborhood where I lived.  Going to Elmwood Place is like walking onto the set of Paper Moon.)

I gave Susie my microcassette recorder, because my old one turned up.  (She has an Olympus Pearlcorder S701; my old/new one is a Pearlcorder S725.  If I’m speaking in tongues here, go to  She’s using it to keep a tape-recorded journal, but Volume I is lost to us, because the tape broke off and wound inside the cartridge.  Unfortunately, you need the manual dexterity of a jeweler to split open and repair a cassette that small, and I do not have that type of dexterity or patience.


Despite all the issues I’m having with sleeping (or not), I find it very hard lately to leave my bed when the alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m.  At first, I thought being a night owl was just that hard-wired for me, but I’ve come to the conclusion that, workwise, I am in the midst of a colossal case of burnout.

This is not a unique situation, nor am I blaming the Industrial Commission (the clipping I pasted in here earlier notwithstanding).  Everybody, no matter how much they love their jobs, experiences burnout.  (Certain jobs bring it about earlier and more intensely than others.  When I worked at the Cincinnati post office, one of my fellow mail sorters left the post office and became an air-traffic controller.  He said it paid better and was less stressful.)

I do manage to make it through the day, and all my evaluations have been good ones, and I’m flattered that the Executive Board of my union entrusted me with the position of Recording Secretary.  I’m frustrated when there are no doctors’ dictations in the queue to be typed, and I am equally frustrated when there is a backlog of dictation that stretches three weeks back.  Typing ex parte orders is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but it is quick work and is not the type of work that you can put off forever.

So I shouldn’t be going through burnout.  It’s not the equivalent of the “compassion fatigue” that firefighters and social workers experience.  I have zero contact with the public (one of the job’s deciding factors for me), and I’m on top of all the work that needs to be done.  Yes, I have a pod that looks like New Orleans post-Katrina, but I can lay my hands on any document or implement (staple puller, scissors, pens, Hi-Liters).  However, a State agency (or even many of the companies in the private sector) tries to stress the idea that the ideal employee is one who can drop dead on Friday, and then the supervisor can go into his/her pod and know right away what projects are finished, what are still pending, what is completed.  That type of thinking really makes you feel like a cog in the machine.

There’s no brass ring working for the State of Ohio (or any other civil service job, for that matter).  Anybody who goes into government service for the money is insane.  The benefits more than make up for it–it’s no secret that government pays less than the same work in the private sector.  I like the niche I’ve carved for myself there.  I have no desire or ambition to go for an administrative position.  I tell myself it’s because I’m such a zealous unionist (I’ve belonged to several labor unions in my work history), but if I’m 100% candid, I know it’s because I don’t want the responsibility inherent in it.  I would not want a job where my job is riding on how well somebody else does theirs.  When I worked for The Harvard Crimson, ( each new editor received a festschrift dedicated to The Crimson‘s longtime Linotypist and printer, Art Hopkins (the title was The Art of Fine Words, although I think How Great Thou Art would have been better).  One person wrote that they knew when the newspaper was in crisis mode–Hopkins would be buckling down and doing his job and his job alone.

So I’m more in a state of weariness about the job, not buckling down and working so hard I’m courting an ulcer and a heart attack.  I’ve been sleeping so badly that I’ve been dozing off on buses and during breaks.  Tonight, I was taking Susie to kids’ choir practice at church, and I had actually dozed off on the bus.  Fortunately, Susie saw where we were and woke me up, otherwise we would have overshot the Unitarian Church’s stop altogether and possibly been late for choir practice.

Easter Thoughts

Our friend Joanna came over for a spaghetti dinner after the Flower Communion at the Unitarian Church–Steph, Susie, and I didn’t get out of bed until about 9 a.m.  (And that was okay with me–Easter dropped unmissed from my life once I was too old to dye eggs.)  The traditional ham we had yesterday, but as a part of potatoes au gratin for dinner.  Steph and Susie went to see the Ice Capades at the Schottenstein Arena last night, so I went to Barnes and Noble near campus, and finished a “talking letter”–i.e., spoken onto a microcassette which I will mail tomorrow–to a friend of mine from O.U.

While browsing through my E-mail archive, I came across an E-mail talking about my one and only successful recipe.  I would go so far as to say it was a miracle cure for pneumonia.  This was in the summer of ’00, the year that Steph and I both shared various strains of pneumonia (My doctor wanted to hospitalize me, but there were so many pneumonia patients already in the hospital he was afraid everybody would cross-infect one another.)

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Those of you who have known me well know that I am hardly a wizard
in the kitchen. Chef Boyardee, ramen noodles, toast, and macaroni and
cheese pretty much total my culinary ability. You also know that I am an
unapologetic carnivore.  Many of you are aware that Steph and I have been swapping
pneumonia bugs back and forth since May. Steph is *finally* back at work,
and I am in the end stages of my battle with an upper respiratory
infection. My M.D. prescribed several antibiotics, so I have to start my
day with a handful of pills that would make Elvis Presley shudder, but I’m
back at work and feeling better daily.
While I was caring for Steph, she talked me through making soup
out of the previous night’s roast. One mug of it, and she caught her
second and third wind, and was out of bed and 90% recovered. It worked
miracles for my situation as well.
So I thought I’d share it with everyone, and send antibiotic
thoughts your way. Fortunately, I jotted the recipe down in my journal
after the meal, so I can brew up another pot if (God forbid!) sickness
comes our way again.

2 cups of beef broth
32 oz. of diced tomatoes
1 palmful of Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
2 potatoes (chopped)
1 medium-sized onion (diced)
1 cup of baby carrots

Cook on LOW in Crock-Pot for 6 hours, and cook on HIGH for
the last hour, when you add ½ lb. of ridged macaroni elbows (Mueller’s
is my personal favorite.)

If you try this recipe, out of necessity or just because you think it’s tasty, report back and let me know.

My most memorable Easter was circa 1970 or 1971 in Marietta.  That was the year I woke up and saw the air full of snowflakes and the ground all white.  I woke up my egg donor mother and said, “It snowed last night.”  She scoffed at this, thinking, Just a heavy frost.  But then she glanced out the window, and could not see across the street because it was snowing so hard and there were five inches already on the ground.

Doctors made a fortune that week, because of all the old people who insisted on going to church, since it was Easter, etc.  There was an epidemic of broken hips, pneumonia, other assorted broken bones, etc.  I think the American Legion’s Easter egg hunt went forward as scheduled, but all the layers of snow made the hunt even more interesting.

Another Easter that sticks in my memory was in 2000.  Steph, Susie, and I were going to a United Church of Christ church in Merion Village, and there was an Easter egg hunt after the service for all the kiddies.  (These same kids had come to church that morning, and most of them were swinging from the chandeliers from eating all the sugar-laden candy earlier.)  Susie collected many eggs that morning–and then I turned around and saw that she was giving them to the other kids there.  I wrote a poem about it and submitted it to a Franciscan magazine in Cincinnati, The St. Anthony Messenger.  They paid me $35 for it and printed it the following Lent.  (I am Unitarian and have published two poems in The St. Anthony Messenger–What’s wrong with this picture?)

Ted Strickland is Making Me Regret Voting For Him

I usually vote a straight Democratic ticket, since the last Republican I would have respected was assassinated in 1865.  Faithful readers of this blog will remember how happy I was in November ’06 when Ted Strickland was elected governor of Ohio.  A lot of state workers (including your humble blogger) voted for him, and the state workers definitely tipped the balance in his favor.

Now I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the back.  Strickland has been getting a lot of hell about different state agencies not having sufficient coverage to handle customer-service needs.  So, instead of leaning on the chairs of these departments to make sure they have actual people serving customers and catching phones, he made an across-the-board policy altering the work hours of all state workers.

For example, I currently work a 7:00 a.m.-3:45 p.m. shift, Monday through Friday.  I have the option of taking an hour-long lunch without taking a 15-minute break in the morning, or taking a morning break and having only 45 minutes for lunch.  I’ve taken the morning break and the shortened lunch period ever since my first day at the Industrial Commission.  That’s been my schedule lo these many (3.5) years.

Now, as I learned in a Word Processing Department meeting this afternoon, I’ll be working 7:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., with set-in-stone morning and afternoon breaks and a mandatory 60-minute lunch.  (I also can’t piggyback the breaks to create a longer lunch period.  If I’m meeting Steph and/or Susie for lunch, I used to forego my morning break in order to have a longer lunch.)  The irony is that our department has almost zero direct contact with the public–which was one of the reasons I applied for work there.  We never see the public, nor do we take phone calls from them.

This will take effect in May.  I’m just thankful that my house is on a regularly travelled bus route, so the buses are much more frequent.  If I lived out in Pickerington or Hilliard or Dublin, I would be at the mercy of express buses that run only two or three times a day in either direction.

My wonder is the reception this idea received from departments that don’t all work on 40-hour-per-week schedules, such as Rehabilitation and Corrections, or (especially during this time of year) ODOT–the Ohio Department of Transportation.  Rehab and Corrections often have mandatory overtime, and day-off personnel are often called in to cover personnel shortages.

Life Is A Rock – Reunion
I have never liked karaoke, partly because I sing “like a hinge,” as Archie Bunker once said about Edith. But I would gladly plunk down some cash in a karaoke bar to the first person who can flawlessly perform this song. (I remember sitting in my room with the 45 of this when I was 11. I put the turntable at 16 RPM in a vain effort to write down all the lyrics! I’m glad it’s back in print on one of Rhino’s compilation disks.)

I Have the Monopoly on Health… For Now

Steph’s sniffles and 100+ temperature seems to have come back with a vengeance–just when we all let our guard down and thought we were all over the winter crud.  I went to Family Dollar and bought three boxes of Kleenex and another bag of cough drops.

I seem to have escaped it for now, except for the fact that I’m always tired… even more so than usual.  (It’s been ages since I’ve slept all through the night without awakening at least once).  No matter how early I’ve gone to bed–and 10 p.m. is the latest I’ve hit the hay these days–I still wake up exhausted.  During breaks at work, I’ve actually snoozed in the break room, using my cell phone as an alarm, so I don’t exceed my 15 allotted minutes.  I was almost late getting to church on Sunday, because I dozed off on the bus and just about slept past my stop.  Susie didn’t notice, and I’m thankful I caught myself before overshooting the street where First UU is located.

The rain and gray skies haven’t helped, either.  It does nothing to improve our health or my overall disposition.  I don’t have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but I could understand it when I was working as a header entry operator at Medco Health Solutions.  The building had very few windows, and during the winter, I would arrive at work before the sun rose in the morning, and if I logged a lot of overtime–as I did when it was time to buy Christmas presents–it was dark when I clocked out for the night.  It doesn’t do much for you to have spent all the daylight hours indoors in a building with very few windows.  It made me understand why Scandinavian countries have increasingly higher suicide rates the closer you get to the Arctic Circle.

Steph and I watched Part I of HBO’s John Adams, an episode entitled “Join or Die.”  I enjoyed it quite a bit, and we’ll be watching Part II before the weekend.  His role in defending the British soldiers who perpetrated the Boston Massacre was a case where he set aside what was popular in favor of what was right.

I’m looking forward to the part which will cover the nadir of his life, especially if it focuses on the extensive correspondence he conducted with Thomas Jefferson.  Thank God there were no E-mails or telephones in those days–so much would have been lost to us.

A Pack of Gifts Now
I have been debating buying the DVD of APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX, which is the definitive edition of Coppola’s movie. (I hate war movies, but APOCALPYSE NOW and THE CAINE MUTINY are the exceptions–with a common thread of madness, I suppose.) Until I buy APOCALYPSE NOW (or HEARTS OF DARKNESS, a video diary of the filming of it), this version will tide me over. I laughed all the way through it!

IRS Refund: Easy Come, Easy Go

Our Federal income tax refund check came the other day, and we have been on a high.  (I’m not going to type in the amount here, but let’s just say it was a good chunk of change–earned income credit is the greatest thing on earth except for moveable type).

But alas, most of it will slip through our fingers on Friday.  Steph and I sat at the dining room table after dinner tonight and made a list of the bills we have been ignoring for quite some time.  So, the Federal refund plus Friday’s paycheck will go all for bills and to groceries.  I know that down the road, I will look back on this and be glad we did it, but it is kind of a letdown.

I looked at Yahoo!’s home page before I logged in here, and I see that Eliot Spitzer, the Democratic governor of New York, has resigned and may face disbarment.  It’s good to see the Democratic Party is following in the footsteps of such paragons of sexual purity as Larry Craig, Rudy Guliani, Newt Gingrich, and Robert Bauman.

Trivia question: Of all of the following proponents of “family values,” which one is still married to his first spouse?  Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Bill Clinton, Rush Limbaugh?

Spitzer was very stupid to go to a prostitute in the first place, especially when his name and his picture is familiar to any New York State resident with access to TV news or a newspaper.  I felt for his wife, standing there all white and humiliated, at that press conference.

His situation reminds me of a passage in John D. MacDonald’s novel The Scarlet Ruse, told in the first person by its hero, Travis McGee: “It is humiliating, when you should know better, to become victim of the timeless story of the little brown dog running across the freight yard, crossing all the railroad tracks until a switch engine nipped off the end of his tail between wheel and rail.  The little dog yelped, and he spun so quickly to check himself out that the next wheel chopped through his little brown neck.  The moral is, of course, never lose your head over a piece of tail.”

Earlier this week, I was wringing my hands at work over the fact that there wasn’t much to do–no specialists’ reports were in the pipeline waiting to be transcribed, Statements of Fact were coming from the claims examiners at a snail’s pace, and I was typing lump sum advancements and adjustments faster than they could be posted and published.

Well, I got my wish.  Today I transcribed two reports from the Cleveland physician whose dictation I dread, since it is usually 2/3 verbal pauses (“And, uh…” and “er…”).  I am fighting a losing battle against the temptation to type these reports up verbatim.

My major project for this weekend is–I hope–excavating and cleaning up my office.  I have a hard enough time finding my medications and the charger for my cell phone.  If it gets any further out of control, I won’t be able to lay my hands on my typewriter without an archaeological dig.