Thursday, September 25, 2008

Warning, your pill might make your nose itch...

I had a bit of a learning experience today - and then not so much of a learning experience. A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) had a bit of a "scare" per an "incident" yesterday that required some quick action and a trip to the pharmacy. If you've got any sort of clue in the world you will deduct from the previous statement what I'm talking about.
Now, oddly enough, I came to be the primary provider of information on the subject of this certain type of "medication" simply because I took the time to learn about it many years ago. This might have been because I was in a pharm class at the time, or it might have been just because I was interested to know how the drug worked. Regardless, I found myself spewing information regarding the topic and action of said drug. Inevitably it was me who employed the drug website to find a pharmacy who had it in stock and then me who also drove the getaway car to pick the stuff up.
Upon getting in the car after an oh-so-brief trip in to Rite-Aid, I snatched up the package to read all about what she bought. There wasn't alot of new information, but I did learn a few new interesting things.
  • This product will this stop your normal process from occurring (which is primarily why it works - no new news there)
  • This product may stop the process from escalating if the normal process has already occurred.
  • This product may also stop the process which has already escalated from escalating further if said process has not already taken up shop in the shed.

Good stuff, I know.

Other interesting tid-bits...

  • This product contains lactose (so in our theory it could be problematic for those who are lactose intolerant)

This part was particularly hilarious because we then got in to a discussion about what you'd do if you were to have an allergic reaction to said minuscule ingredient. Anaphalaxis was mentioned, severe gastrointestinal upset, hives, oh, and an itchy nose (which is my reaction to a certain ingredient present in many types of chewing gum). Yes, we decided that it would be truly unfortunate if your pill made your nose itch.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My dog opens doors

Since we moved to Fairfax we've had a new luxury not found in our old neighborhood - a fenced backyard. When we lived in Winchester we had one of these, and it was quite nice and large for a small townhouse (we had the end unit, so that definitely helped). The major difference here is that in Winchester we had no dog, and now we do, so the fenced backyard comes in quite handy when the dog wants to go out, but nobody else does.
Don't get me wrong - we walk the dog. We put him on the leash and take him out around the block and around the neighborhood in general (and on very nice days where there's nothing else going on we take him around the lake out back). It is a nice option to have though, the backyard, when one doesn't have the time or the energy to take the dog out for a decent walk.
Ben has been quite content with the back yard. There are a couple of bush-type things, a couple of trees, a nice brick patio area with a walkway out to the gate and some grassy spots on either side. Ample room for a medium-sized Shar Pei to do his business and jump around like a horse when he so chooses. Generally, when he's had enough of the business, or the running and jumping, or barking at whatever walks past the other side of the fence, he just sits down by the door and waits for us to come and open it up. I guess at some point he decided he'd had quite enough of this sitting and waiting and wanted to take matters in to his own hands - or paws as the case might be.
Back in the spring, we had to put Ben out back for quite some time while we had a bunch of kids over for Josh's birthday. Ben is just fine and dandy with us, and with the general visitor, but he tends to disrespect kids (because he was severely disrespected by the children of his previous owner), so we feel it's best to avoid any sort of "incident" and just ban him from things like birthday parties. It was on this occasion that he put his nails, and then foot, and then leg, and then head, and then entire body through our sliding screen door. From what I've garnered, replacing the screen isn't the most difficult thing in the world to do - so no harm, no foul on the dog's end.
Fast forward to August (I'm pretty sure it was August). I was doing some laundry and Ben came down with me and this is generally the time that I let him out back and then go to see if he's ready to come back in as soon as I'm done. I must've been side tracked and forgot about him because about 10 minutes later I noticed a ruckus of sorts coming from the basement. I went down to find the door wide open and Ben jumping around like a horse in the rec room. I found this quite odd, but figured he'd jumped up on the door and accidentally flipped the lever to open the door. It occurred to me at that point that the door was quite perfect for a dog to open without even really trying. I shut the door, apologized to Ben and got on with my day. The next day, Ben went out back again and within 5 minutes he was standing in the living room. At this point I decided it was no longer an accident - the dog knew precisely how to open the door, and would no longer stand for extended waits on the patio.

All booked up!

My fall is kinda busy, this is not new news. I try to plan out my fall well in advance so that there aren't any surprises along the way and I can give ample notice to the folks in the places I'll be visiting as well as the folks here who are impacted (i.e. - Brad, Josh, Sharon, etc). In August I looked at odd and assorted conventions and meetings and made a schedule of the ones I wanted to attend or had been invited to go to. Once I had it all squared away personally, other folks started adding in their two cents. AHA added a new Bootcamp, there was a crisis with our program so we had to add a trip out to Dallas (yet again), then Bootcamp got cancelled, so I got to hunt up something else to do to fill in that opening so I picked the Wisconsin convention. Good times I tell you, good times. Anyway, all of this finally came to rest on my calendar and I was comfortable with it so I started booking flights and making hotel arrangements. Oddly, I started in reverse because it my most expensive trip (flight wise) is not until December, so I wanted to keep an eye on those flights to get the best deal (cause I went WAY over my travel budget last year and I'd like to avoid doing that again). The price fluctuated and then seemed to come down to something I deemed reasonable, so I went ahead and bought (I can't go back and look to see if it was a good choice or not cause I'll never forgive myself if the price dropped $200 or something crazy like that).
So, this process has continued over the past month - me looking and waiting and looking and booking. All of this brings me to today where I finally booked my very last flight for this fall's travel season (we won't worry about the winter/spring until the new year - or at least later in this year). I noticed back in the summer that there'd be a good chance I'd achieve premiere frequent flyer status this year. I don't travel so much that it's a guarantee, so some well laid plans may have been needed. Thankfully it all worked out, so I didn't have to send myself on a 4 leg trip to Houston or anything ridiculous like that, and I was still able to ensure that I'll be sitting pretty for the coming year with United.
Yep, I'm super excited to have reached this frequent flyer milestone. I never really gave much thought to the potential perks or need for any sort of frequent flyer status. You fly, you collect your miles, you cash them in periodically for things like a free flight or an upgrade to first, but really, what else is there?
Oh, there's so much there! When I realized this was going to be a reality I logged on to my Mileage Plus account to read all about what I'd get once I achieved this oh-so-sought-after level. For starters - no bag fees! For second, complimentary upgrades! For thirdsies - always sitting in the part of the plane with the most leg room (which non-premiere level folks have to pay a nice fee each way for). The list goes on and on from there, but I thought those 3 were really fantastic perks. Plus, United informed me that with my achievement I'll be entered in to their current Premier level contest to win a 2 week trip to London for two! Yes, I know, I should stop dreaming (this will be filed away with my plans for when I win the lottery).
I'm all booked up for my fall (and yes, it's a little crazy at times). I'm looking forward to my visit to Middle-of-nowhere, Indiana next week to kick things off right :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not paid for volunteering

To clear up my earlier blog/question about being paid for "volunteering," I got this resolution to the issue.
So, after emailing with a couple of different folks over at Gally, and not getting anywhere I decided to just sit on it for awhile and see what happened. Perhaps they did not have all the information they needed to pass along quality info to me. I decided yesterday that I needed to know, sooner rather than later, what the deal was going to be for next weekend. I emailed the guy who'd I'd last spoken to and asked that he follow up with me regarding the dates and times. Again, no response. Gosh, this sure does sound like a DSF job - little to no information given to the folks who are supposed to be serving a purpose.
Later in the day I got an email from Jon - who'd initially asked me if I was available - telling me I needed to call Barry (former boss and guy who manages to orchestrate these things better than anyone else cause he bothers to pick up the phone). I called on my way home and he laid it all out on the table for me (sans exact dates and times, but at least noted that he didn't have the info, but would put me in touch with the guy who did). I've since emailed that guy, Keith, and hopefully I'll know what the hell is going on before the end of this week.
In related news - Barry was able to tell me my spot is secured for Taipei a year from now, and he even went over the current roster of medical staff he's got lined up. Even more importantly, he was able to give me a timeline of events leading up to the Taipei trip including team assignments and possible training camp. I'll have a good 15 days of leave to use by the time this rolls around, but I theorized I might only need to use 10 of those days. Turns out, I'll probably be using all 15 thanks to a weeks worth of pre-games training camp in LA. I'm not bothered by this - I just need to know the facts, the dates, and my role.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Local celebrity

Way back in the summer (like 6 weeks or so ago), my friend Bean posted a blog about a couple of kids she knew from back in the day at gymnastics who were selected to represent the US on the Men's Gymnastic Team, Justin Spring and Alexander Artemev. This was interesting and exciting news and added a little bit of "hometown flavor" to our Olympic experience. We found during the first Men's Gymnastics competition that Justin was from Burke, which is virtually across the street (seriously, we live in Fairfax, but can walk to the Burke Target and the Burke VRE station). Alexander is from Colorado, but his parents were once Bean's coaches at the gymnastics center where she and Justin both trained.
We watched, and cheered and then the Olympics were over and we honestly didn't give it another moment of thought until this week. On the second day of school, Josh came home and announced to Brad that his P.E. teacher's son, Justin, had competed in the Olympics and she shared her story of going to China and watching the Olympics with Josh's class that day. We met both of Josh's P.E. teachers when we volunteered for field day back in May, so I was pretty sure I knew who he was talking about. This was very exciting for Josh as we made a point for him to watch as many different events and learn about different sports while the opportunity was there. I sent him back to school making sure that he remembered who Michael Phelps was and how many gold medals he won in the event that his teacher gave a pop quiz on the Olympics.
When I went to fetch Josh after school on Friday I saw Mrs. Spring out on Kiss & Ride duty and overheard her talking to another mom about her time in China and Justin's experience at the Olympics. The PTA, of course, has been harping to get him to come in to the school and talk to the kids. Hopefully that'll happen. What a neat connection.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Paid for volunteering?

I've been volunteering (on one level or another) with the USADSF for a little over two years now. Generally speaking there isn't any pay involved - that's how volunteering is supposed to go. The first time I volunteered I was still drawing my regular salary and I was volunteering at the place where I also worked - it was just in the summer when I was technically off. Fast forward to last summer when I "volunteered" again and got shipped off to Venezuela for 10 days (on 7 days notice, but I'm not bitter or anything). Now, that time I didn't have the option to continue drawing my salary because I didn't have the summer off, nor was I working at the place I was volunteering. My boss and my former boss (who orchestrates all this volunteer work) worked it out so my former boss covered my salary for me while I was away from my office taking "unpaid leave." Incidentally, this meant that I did draw my regular salary (sort of), but I did not receive any actual "pay" for my time volunteering. Are you lost yet? Good!
Now, on to the next volunteer opportunity. Got an email today that there will be some Team USA tryouts towards the end of the month at the place where I used to work, and they'd like for me to come and be the ATC servicing the tryouts. I'm happy to do this for the most part, and I'm accustomed to volunteering - at least for this organization. I then get an email asking what my hourly rate is so they can figure up what to pay me for doing this. Pay? I'm gonna get paid? Well this is pretty damn exciting! On the one hand I'm certainly not going to turn down any pay (especially considering that I still haven't been paid for the last time I did something at my old job), but at the same time I'm not sure I'm supposed to get paid for this supposed volunteer position I'm in. We'll be heading off to Taipei a year from now and I can assure you that I won't be paid for that time (but I've had 2 years notice on this trip and have had ample time to save up vacation days so last year's debacle will be avoided).
I guess it's not the organization who will be paying me but rather the facility. Maybe that makes sense. I've got no beef taking money from them if they need to hire someone to work this tryout. I'd just like to fully understand why, all of a sudden, I'm being paid to work with an organization I've always volunteered for.

Monday, September 1, 2008

....and I'm a site manager

For a couple of years now I've worked this ginormous soccer tourney in Prince William County in the spring, and this year also the fall. A local soccer club has been putting this tourney together each season (spring and fall) and teams come from all over the east coast to participate. The two previous times I was asked to work I was at a site with 3 fields way down in the south central part of the county with some folks who were just fantastic. The mom (whom we'll call M)handled the site managing aspect and the dad handled the concessions. Other parent volunteers signed up for time slots to come and sell t-shirts or field marshall or just generally help out. Even when someone didn't show up things still ran smoothly and at the very least there was M who was on task as site coordinator, handling anything and everything that came our way.
My job at these things is to basically sit around and wait for someone to get hurt. So, as one might imagine that leaves alot of room for boredom. I picked up the t-shirt sales job right off the bat and did that for the last couple of seasons. I also watched as M meticulously managed the site, organized the field marshalls, refs, and kept the score up to date on the bracket boards in addition to calling each score in to automated score keeper. Even though I didn't do much in this aspect of things, I inevitably watched and learned. Who knew all that watching and learning would pay off here at the fall tourney.
I showed up at 8am on Saturday morning, and introduced myself to the guy standing at the pavilion at the site I was assigned to (different from my previous site assignments). I asked if he was the site coordinator and he said "oh no, I'm just here to set up." So another lady comes and I asked, are you the site coordinator? "Nope, I'm just here to sell t-shirts." This went on with everyone agreeing that a different lady, well call her "L" was supposed to be the site coordinator. L did not show up to site coordinate that entire day. She was there, I saw her, but she did not do the job. Wanna know who did the job? Me, I did the job. The lady assigned to the t-shirts, she did the job as well. When the t-shirt lady went to get some lunch 5 hours later, a dad showed up and I told him the story, so he stayed around to help until the t-shirt lady came back. Good thing we didn't have any serious injuries. I can't very well be 300 yards away dealing with a broken arm while also site managing from the main pavilion.
When I showed up at 8am on Sunday morning, L was there and managing the situation along with several other parents. This is the way it's supposed to be. She thanked me for my help on Saturday, and inevitably on Sunday as well. While this lady was there, she still lacked the fervor and meticulousness of M, who was always on top of things, ensuring that nothing was left undone. At the end of the day on Sunday I was still the one taking the game reports, updating the score brackets and calling them in to the automated score keeper.