Passing the Doctor’s Office Visit

I had a physical and follow up visit with my doctor yesterday morning.  I very much was not interested in going when I woke up.  The stillness was enveloping me.

But that was the reason I needed to go.  Also I have a spot on my leg that my anxiety has diagnosed as skin cancer.

But I went.  Using all my mental resources to push the rock up the mountain and get moving.  I love my doctor.  She is kind and thorough and responsive.  She listens.

So.  We adjusted the depression meds.  And she told me I don’t have skin cancer.  And she ran a calculator on my risk factors for a heart attack and found it’s only 2.5% in the next 10 years – which is basically just the standard of the general population.  And since I’ve been harboring an anxiety that I will die of a heart attack at 55 like my father did that released another anxiety.

I normally feel like I flunk every doctor’s appointment.  Something is diagnosed as wrong and then we have to treat it and then we follow up for what feels like dozens of times trying to get it fixed.  So it feels nice to have only depression which feels like the normal.

Which is, of course, why it’s problematic.  I think this way I’m living is normal.  It’s not.  It’s just the life I’m used to.  But when she ran through the questions for anxiety/depression it struck me that this REALLY IS WRONG.  It’s amazing how awful living just stops feeling wrong and just feels like awful is normal.  And in many ways, my ability to manage my depression and keep functioning is why it feels OK.  I never felt like it was OK when I was unemployed and stayed in bed 23.5 hrs a day.  But now I have a job and an apartment and I keep a minimum standard of living going.  It tricks me into thinking life is supposed to be this way.

Hopefully the meds will kickstart a new path in my brain that I can take advantage of.

Cross fingers.

 

 

Cold Snap

Like large portions of the US, we are about to have a deep cold snap after a bit of warmth, relatively speaking.  ie – warmth is above 32 and raining instead of snowing.

The problem, of course is that this will be followed by subzero weather – so ice.  Lots of cold and ice.

I work for a transportation company, so weather and road conditions are of paramount importance to us

But I find that our company’s obsession is nothing to a woman whose blog I follow.  She’s a farmer.  When it’s cold the water freezes.  She ends up carrying 100 gallons of water to her animals.  And because her farm, not unlike many farms, extends over quite an acreage with many buildings, it means she is hauling water over quite a damn distance in sub zero weather, plus wind, plus that icy layer caused by the warm rain today.  She is constantly in a worry that all the animals will be able find sufficient shelter and warmth in these conditions.  Because animals often die these conditions.

My maternal family is deeply farm embedded.  Even today people I am related to own thousands of acres in Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.  That blood is clear in me that I cannot help but follow farm blogs despite it having only the remotest relationship to my actual lived life.

So I find that rather than worrying about my drive to work, I’m worrying about whether her pigs, or ducks, or cows are going to be OK.  They probably will be.  She’s very focused on planning for their benefit.  But what is heartbreaking for everyone is that sometimes, planning and effort aren’t enough.  Sometimes the weather is just bigger than your efforts.  And farmers face this all winter.  Indeed, all year.

 

 

It was a woman.

Yesterdays post was about a shooting in the pony keg next to my building.  It assumed, wrongly, that the shooter was a man.

But it was a woman.

I’m grappling with that.  My first impulse is all the cultural bias I own about women.  Then I have to re-calibrate.  I assumed without consideration that man did this.  Why?

More to the point was my assumption about her post shooting reaction.  I assumed the man MIGHT have regret at killing a man over money.

But I more  than assume it for a woman and then back it off because she actually did it.

The reality is that some people live, explain and justify their lives through overarching principle rather than outcomes.

So if you live by overarching principle – the person robbing is wrong, the person shooting is right. Then the death of a human being for a few hundred dollar seems worthy.

If you live by outcome – the person killing is wrong.  No amount of money will equal a human life.

If you look at that duality you see the complexity.  I will probably always land on the preserve life side, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t fully get how this happened.

We want to simplify.  And I was all about simplifying until a small tendril of recognition hit my brains.

It was a woman.  How ridiculous and how fortuitous.  It made me realize.  Humans all act in a moment.  We act on all the accumulated beliefs and values that led us that place.  We rarely have the luxury of considering that moment and it’s consequences.

My boss, one of the kindest people I have known, first said “Good”.  He had been robbed many times as a Taxi dispatcher.  His drivers had been robbed and beaten.  He has no sympathy for the robber’s  viewpoint.  This is one of the kindest men I know.  He offered me a job when I was homeless.  He recognizes the hardship of being poor.  As well as the injustice of being robbed.  When I pointed out the absolute values of death vs money he immediately got it.

But. He also got why this robber was shot.  We cannot let the robber rule us.  On the other hand we cannot become the robber – willing to kill for their objective.

That mean ALL OF THE INPUTS WE RECEIVE are crucial to the moment of truth.  Think about them.  Pay attention when the stakes are low.

 

Shooting in the Pony Keg Next Door

Pony Keg:  A small convenience store that focuses on beer and wine.  When Ohio only sold hard liquor through state stores, Pony Kegs were very popular.  Always small locally owned places – many of them had/have drive thrus.

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They are a dying breed these days, but there is one next door to my apartment building.  This afternoon it was robbed and someone was shot and killed.  My co-worker who lives a couple of blocks from me has sources who say the owner shot the robber.  He’s been robbed a lot and I guess he had hit his limit.  However, none of the news stations will confirm who was shot and the police have opened  a homicide investigation.  Which I guess they would have to do in either case?

If it was the owner who killed the robber, I just can’t imagine feeling like a few hundred dollars was worth a killing someone.  You forget about the money.  You never forget that you killed someone.  However righteous you feel about it.  It’s got to just kick a person in the gut on a daily basis.

As you may have gathered, I live in a borderline sketchy area.  Just a few blocks from the full on sketch.  It’s cheap and my street generally feels very safe.  Lots of kids and people walking around and well cared for homes.  But I’m one building, that pony keg, from one of the main drags in Cincinnati.  And as I said just a few blocks on that road to the scary areas.

I don’t want to move.  It’s comfortable here.  And it’s cheap.   I guess it could have happened in any of the upper crust neighborhoods I used to live in.  Just less likely, somehow.  Fewer desperate people in those places.

It’s odd.  I no longer really want to live in those upper crust places.  They feel artificial or something?  Too white.  Too insular.  Too out of touch.  I don’t know.  Something feels off about moving back there, even if  I could afford it.

Or maybe I’m just more comfortable not moving.  And so I’m projecting these things onto those places in order to justify my choice.

In any case, I think I’ll stick it out here.

 

Heartbreak.

 

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That is a very cold squirrel through a very dirty window.  Trying to suck as much heat as he can from my open window in the 12F weather with added breeze.

I was just about to close that window, because while I normally keep it open in the winter because this building is heated like a Sauna in Hell, it has gotten a bit chilly.  Becauses 12F is COLD.   Plus breeze.

But if I shut the window, the squirrel will lose his tiny bit of heat.

I guess I can just snuggle under the damn comforter.

Poor little one.

 

Working for Free

I’m working on a project to implement a new system.  In order to transfer the data we currently have into the new system, we have do a good deal of touching of the data.  Manipulating it from it’s current data sets to fit into a new data set.   It’s involved and tedious work.

But it’s also something I’m deeply invested in making work.  This new system is desperately needed in the company, and if we lean hard into it’s various processes, I really think it will improve things a lot.

But it will be a painful birth.  Because the old system has only the barest shared junctions of data.

Unfortunately this transition of data happened when we had the under-staffing crisis in my dept and so I have not given it any real attention.  So this weekend I’m working on it from home.

I am an hourly employee, so unless I’m clocked in at work, I don’t get paid.  But I don’t care.  One, because the pressure to get my normal tasks done and get this done is terrible.  I would rather it wasn’t a traffic jam of tasks on my desk.

And two.  I’m really invested in making this new system work.  I don’t want someone else to do this because I really want this to be done right.  ie – the way I would do it.  And because the only other person designated to this project of transition is of the quick and make it work mindset.  Although, to be fair, he is also DEEPLY invested in making this new system work.

We are both VERY excited about the new system.  But he, probably justifiably, feels that we are paying a company to manage this data transition and giving them finely curated data in a spreadsheet to upload, means we are paying them for something we both suspect we could do ourselves.  The value they could offer us is to curate the data.

We originally thought we would just run a crystal report with the raw data and this company would do the parsing.  But this company has made it clear that that is not how it’s going to work. Which begs the question – why are we paying them?  I mean, uploading a spreadsheet into a system is not rocket science.  Either of us could probably do it, and definitely my teammate could do it, regardless.

But, we paid them already so.  Here we are.

And I’m kind of OK with it.  I know this data.  These are our customers.  I know who and what and why.  If I handed it over to a stranger, they would not know those things and would likely make bad choices as a result.  They don’t know who we consider valuable.  They don’t know that this executive assistant is basically only slightly less important than the CEO of P&G from our point of view, or that this executive passenger is very particular about how the invoices are sent, or that this lovely old woman calls in to have us take her husband to various sportsball games and that it is very important that only careful and kind drivers are involved.   Someone who will call her the morning of game day and discuss whether it might not be too cold and rainy for a frail old man to sit in Buckeye Stadium for a game.

That information is lost when you hand your data over to a stranger who cannot know, even if there are notes, which often there are not because often these special clients have their own reservationist who knows and that reservationist has a back up who also knows.

All of which sounds like we have a seamless system, but as you might deduce from the above paragraph, we DO NOT.  All too often that knowledge held by one reservationist is lost when they aren’t available.  And so a person who calls on the weekend doesn’t get their reservationist, they may get a relative newbie.  And then it all goes south.   Our current system is not good at managing those kinds of things, BUT the new system is.

So I have hopes that if we start with a good solid foundation, we can build up to a system that won’t fail a client with a frail husband who needs an extra eye kept on him.  We are all about providing service for the specific needs of our clients.  And that is often a GIANT pain if the ass.  And while we hope for being able to do this, all too often we fail, because we started that core value when we were small and now we are starting to crossover to the level of business that makes that nearly impossible to achieve in our current systems.

But I have hopes for this new software.  No doubt it will disappoint some of my dreams.  But since we are starting from such a dismal situation it can only improve things.  And I am very invested in the idea of improving the current maelstrom.

But, it also requires people to rethink how we do things.  Specifically, I’m going to attempt to make our managers rethink our rate structure.  Because the current rates won’t transfer into the new system.  And we need to think of rates by zip code instead of neighborhoods or towns.  Because the new system assigns rate by zip.  And we assign by neighborhood/town.  But because zip codes cover many neighbor hoods and those neighborhoods have different rates it’s not transferable.  So part of this weekends work will be put that situation into an easy presentation that will make the 2 managers face the task of reassigning fares and have still be usable for me when they do.  At first I thought – Easy Peasy.  Yeah.  Turns out, Nope.  It’s also tedious work.

But it’s important.  So I will slog though it so they can spend an afternoon arguing with each other over what to do.  Don’t worry.  They are best friends who enjoy arguing over these issues and blaming each other for anything that went askew.

But don’t let me downplay how much I need to get done to in order for the various managers to fight over the right fare.  We have fares for different companies.  So once I’m done with one, I get to start over with the next one.  Which are handled by different managers, so I will have to represent this issue to them and have them reassign the rates.

ie – I need people to face the reality that the way we have done business for the last 20 yeas will not longer work with the new system.  I expect, of the 4 people involved, only one of them will accept it and adapt without me pushing them into it.  One of them will loudly resist and will remain obstinate throughout.  However, I’m helped by the fact that his partner in fare making is the owner of the company, who is by definition, invested in the new system.  But that is not this weekend’s task.  This weekend I only have to make their task manageable once they accept it’s reality.

And that the easy part.  That original paragraph about customer accounts is still the hard part.

All of it is at least 20 hours of work.  Probably at more like 30 to 40.   Still, I delusionally hope I will finish this weekend.

It will be worth is.  Once this system is up and working as it should.  I cannot wait until that day.  Hopefully by this summer I will basking in the clover of this weekends work.

 

 

 

 

 

Work: The Mountain

Both my coworkers have been off since last Thursday.  The back up girl was unexpectedly off last week but thankfully returned this week.

But since she was off for the birth of her newest grandchild, who is now in NICU I don’t think I can count on her.  She needs to be her daughter’s biggest support and that is more important than anything else.

So.  As the days past, the things that don’t get done remain undone and those piles get bigger.  I’m reminding myself daily that tomorrow is another day.

Last night I was there until 11pm.  And still the giant pile remains.  And expands because poor back up now has her own pile.  She took on half my job on the busiest day and she has a full time job of her own.  So.

Life happens as it will, however we plan it.  Only one person was planned to be off.  But my other co-worker ended up in the hospital.  And as I said the back up has the new grandbaby.  None of that could have been predicted.  It’s just how life works.

However.  I intended to go to work over the weekend to clear it to a fresh starting point.  But I didn’t.  So as a result I was there until 11pm last night and didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped.  That weekend choice was something I could control and didn’t.

We always pay for those moments we don’t do something.  I knew it when the stillness of my depression kept me in bed.  But the knowledge didn’t move me.  I wonder why knowledge isn’t motivating?  Imagine how many of our personal problems would be solved if knowledge was enough for us to change.  All the smokers would quit smoking, we all would exercise and eat well.  No one would be overweight.  We would all work on climate change… It’s odd how knowledge is just so useless as a catalyst for changing personal behavior.

I wonder if there are people who learn something and adapt their personal behavior immediately and permanently to the new information?  If so, what is going on in their brain?  Can I get that wiring?

I find emotion is mildly motivating, but not permanently motivating.  Fear, of course, being the best motivator.  But I think because we don’t remember emotions in the same way that we remember events or information, it’s not as permanent.  And we obviously aren’t supposed to because when you remember deeply negative emotions like that, you have PTSD.

Anyway, all of this is to say, I’m not thrilled with my choices this past weekend.  They were mostly dictated by the stillness that envelops my weekend, but it remains true that motivation is elusive, especially with depression.  To the point of being useless.

Yesterday – A Day.

I was supposed to meet my sister for breakfast at 10 am.  She was driving over an hour to meet me for breakfast.

I forgot about it.  Got there an hour an half late, which was beyond rude and inconveniencing.  I called my boss to tell her I would now be late for work, by necessity.

I also found out that my my 2nd teammate was found unresponsive that morning.  She’s the one on drugs.  They rushed her to the ER and she was brought around but they kept her.

I’m HOPING they convince her to go into rehab.  She’s so nice and when she’s not on the drugs, very smart.

I’ve been so worried about her losing her job, I didn’t give much thought to her overdosing.

The thing is – the drugs are prescribed by a doctor.  I want to go over and bitch slap this quack.

Since, the first teammate was having surgery yesterday and the back up person was off because her daughter had a baby in wee hours of the morning, it was just me doing all of it.  Thank goodness it’s nice and slow.  I got most of it done.

I like feeling necessary.  And yesterday I felt very necessary.  So the stress of it sort of rolled off my shoulders, despite it obviously not being one of my most focused days – ie  breakfast disaster.

 

 

Indoor Hunting Feeder – A Review

I bought this hunter feeder for my cats.

indoor feeder

So.  I got it because I was concerned that the Kitten, whose not a kitten anymore, was bored and starting to act odd as a result.

First you try to show the cats that their food is in the toy by using the little plastic trainer with too many holes.  The trainer has so many holes that any movement will knock out food.

Then you put fill mice up and put them in the place of their food dish.  Then when they figure out how to extract the food, you start to move the mice to other places in the house.  So they have to hunt and play to get it.

Concerns:  Feeding Time is no longer an easy scoop and pour on the dish process.  Putting Food into the mice is annoying at best.  The provide an absolutely useless scoop that appears to be purpose made for the process but make it worse.  I got more food on the counter and floor filling mice than in the mice.  I have finally given up on their scoop.  I used my old scoop, keep the mouse just slightly inside the food bag while I pour into the mouse.   It solves the mess but it’s still more time consuming and involved.

Food is on the floor.  If they don’t eat all of the food they knock out, you may well step in it.  Also you have food on the floor when you don’t step in it.  Which bothers me.  It makes my apartment feel dirty.

I’ve stepped on mice in the middle of the night, twice now.  Not enjoyable.

I’ve been woken up by mice hitting the hardwood floor from the desktop at least once.

My cats are apparently lazy and/or smart.  I put out mice and they yowl like they are starving.  They know the food is in the mice, I have not started hiding the mice although I have been putting them around the house to give them the idea that food is no longer just in one place.  I do it with them following me, so I’m not sure “hiding” will ever be possible.

At least one of them is fully aware of how to manage the mice to get food because yesterday when I came home from work and today when i woke up the mice were empty and the food eaten.  But I don’t know if it’s both of them or just one.  They will not eat from the mice if I’m home and awake.  Apparently hoping I will offer up the buffet style they prefer.

Because I don’t know if both of them know how to use the mice I have a bit of food anxiety for them.

Positives:

Nearly all of the above are concerns from my human perspective.  I bought these for a purpose.  To keep a bored cat more interested in his daily life.  It’s hard to say if it’s working.  He’s not been acting out in obsessive ways, which was the thing that triggered my concern.

I intend to keep using them until or unless it becomes a problem from the cat’s perspective.  Beyond their lazy preference for buffet food.

Why does Indonesia get kicked around so much by Natural Disasters?

It feels like they can’t win for losing.

They had a landslide that killed 15 people on New Years Eve.

On average, a natural disaster has occurred in Indonesia every year since the 2004 tsunami, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and climate change fueled events.

It’s so unfair.  I know they are sitting in a hotbed of earth movement, add in climate change and bad infrastructure and you just can’t find a good outcome.

What is amazing is how they just keep trucking.  It gives me hope that we can all manage the future of climate change causing too many natural disasters.  Humans are resilient.

But that’s just a simplification.  Many aren’t trucking along.  Many are drowning in the consequences of the disaster, without sufficient help.

And in a future world where everyone is experiencing a disaster, will we be able to step up and help each other?  Now we all chip in and send aid.  But at what point does that implode under the weight of the need vs those who can support it?

I wonder how we will respond to the new world of constant upheaval?  Will we be our best selves or our most selfish selves?  I hope we will be our best.  I hope we will always be a community in local and a helping hand globally.

But it’s impossible to tell.  We ought, at minimum, to setting up infrastructure standards that will support the inevitable natural disaster that will hit all of us.  Soon it won’t just be those poor people in Indonesia.  It will be everyone, regardless of the geo-active area we live in.