Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Case For Tray Tables

Tray tables or overbed tables are those rolling things used in hospitals for patients to eat on while confined in bed. We mental health workers on the other hand have different uses for them which I’m going to enumerate here shortly. Why am I talking about this in the first place? Well, our Nurse Manager, out of the blue, sent out an email last week that we should not be using those tables anymore other than on the geriatric psych unit. The reason given was that they shouldn’t be used for passing medications, for staff to eat on, or to lay our clipboards on (these are clipboards with a sheet for each patient where we mark their location and behaviors). Okay, I can understand the reason regarding medications, and eating, but there are a lot of other legitimate uses for the table:
*When the staff takes patient vital signs in the hallway, they need something to lay the clipboard to write on.
*On the night shift, we often cannot find another staff member to monitor the hallway when we are doing admissions, thus, we have to cover the hallway at the same time we are asking the new patient to sign papers and inspect their belongings. We use the tray table to lay the papers which the new patient has to sign. Without the table, we have to pull one staff member off the floor and go inside a consult room. God forbid if we get two admissions at the same time which does happen!
*For the same multitasking reason, we monitor the hallway at the same time we are charting on the work supplied laptop. And where do you think we put the laptop on? Yep, you are right – the tray table.
*Frequent items asked for by patients are paper and pencil. The tray table has a small drawer where we can keep those, thus preventing the patients from having to go to the nurse’s station every time they need those items.
*When I make new admission chart packs, I lay paper clips and assemble the necessary sheets on the table. I mean, really, I cannot make those packs without a table!
I implore the powers that be to return the tray tables because they make us more productive with our job. Working without them is like losing a limb. By the way, this was the same Nurse Manager who approved the purchase of four of these tables when we asked for them several years ago. I don’t know what changed between then and now.
Our nurse manager is never going to see this blog so what’s the point of writing it? Just airing my frustration over the seemingly unjustified removal of a very important equipment. That’s all.

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Spinning With A Netbook

I arrived home late from work last Monday morning (I work nights) at about 9:00 a.m. By the time I went to the front gate to pick up the newspaper, it was gone and most likely stolen. I requested a replacement but it never arrived. Since I also get the online version of the paper (the pages are arranged exactly like the hardcopy), I had no choice but to read the news on my computer.
                If you have read this blog before, you know I like reading the newspaper while riding the stationary bike, using the elliptical machine, or walking on the treadmill. Well, I’ve never tried doing that with a computer so this was going to be a first. Monday was a spinning bike day, so I fired up my netbook, logged on to the Press Telegram website, mounted the wide open netbook on the book rack of the bike, then started pedaling. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. For sure I wouldn’t be able to do stand ups or the computer might fall over. That was fine with me because I like to do high cadence spinning anyway which simulates breathing like running. Reading the print wasn’t a problem even with darkening skies outside because of the computer backlight. If I was reading the paper version, I might have had to turn on the lights in my living room.
                So anyway, reading was not a problem. The difficult part was using the touchpad to turn the pages because of the movement of my body and the pedals. It took several tries to smoothen the movements of my fingers before I could turn a page. I never liked touchpads in the first place and I always use a mouse. That wouldn’t have worked on a book rack mounted netbook. You know what? I think coordinating the page turning with pedaling actually made the workout a wee bit more challenging. I was able to do 40 minutes on the spinning bike and did 10 minutes on the recumbent bike just to see if it was easier to turn the page while semi-reclined. It wasn’t. This is probably better done with a  table PC which I don’t have. It would have been easier turning pages with a swipe of a finger.
                If I don’t receive the newspaper next time, I may have to try this netbook technique again on the treadmill. Not only will I wish that the computer doesn’t fall off, but that I wouldn’t either. Oh, boy, what I have to do just to satisfy my endorphin cravings!

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Displeased and Unappreciative Worker

When I showed up for work last Saturday evening, I already knew that one of my regular coworkers was taking the weekend off. This was a very reliable guy whom I work with very well because we knew each other’s work habits. Despite him being off, I knew I could rely on my other coworker who even though a little lacking in initiative, can pull his weight when asked to. To my disappointment, he had called in sick (or cancelled himself – how does one do that?!). I didn’t even know whom I was going to work with on the floor. A licensed vocational nurse (LVN) showed up shortly and she was assigned to work with me. Well, she didn’t like that idea because she was expecting to work in the medication room. Not even concealing her displeasure, she asked the charge nurse right away if she could go home instead. That wasn’t really an option so she made it plain that she didn’t really want to work in the position assigned to her that night. You would think that what she was going to ask next was what she had to do, but noooo. She asked when she can take a break. Oh my goodness! All she had to do was check on her assigned patients to make sure they were present, alive, and not having sex with each other. On the other hand, I had to do that same job plus the rest of the night shift paperwork, making new charts, doing vital signs, and charting, because she didn’t know the routine and how to do them. I was quite content on doing all of them, which I eventually finished in a slightly longer time than usual. I was just very surprised and disappointed at the way she reacted when asked to work on the floor as a mental health worker. She was still getting her LVN salary after all. She also said she didn’t like that there were cameras all over the place watching our every move (oh well, welcome to my world).  We had to be very nice to her despite that because we needed her. If not, she would have been reported to the supervisor already for such terrible attitude. Some people just don’t appreciate having a job and if she didn’t need it, why even bother to apply?
We were lucky somehow because we didn’t have difficult-to-deal-with patients that night. I couldn’t say the same for a certain LVN.

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Surprise Social Media Exposure

What a strange day Thursday was. First I was contacted by a Senior Social Media Specialist from Charter Communications who found my blog about her company. She commented on my post about the Christmas gift from Charter regarding the increase in upload and download speeds ( Here is what she said in brief: “I came across your blog and am happy to see you enjoying the free boost in your download and upload speeds! Also, if you ever need some help with service, our Social Media team is always happy to help.”

Next, the hailstorm happened and a couple of hours after I posted my videos of it on You Tube (, an associate producer from WeatherNationTV sent me a You Tube email saying: “My name is (name removed for privacy reasons) and I'm a producer at WeatherNationTV, a new all weather cable company broadcast in several cities around the United States. Just watched your Long Beach hail video. Nice footage that you captured! We would love to share your video with our audience. Please let us know if you would like to be credited and if so by what name. Thank you again for your consideration. We look forward to showcasing your work in our broadcasts.” I gave him my permission and will be checking WeatherNationTV later to see if they posted the videos.

On a slightly related note, I went back to the store to return something defective that I bought before the hailstorm and a woman in a car parked next to mine asked me if that was ice on the windshield of my car. Almost three hours after I was caught in the storm, the ice had not fully melted. The woman said on her part of the city, they only had rain. This was face to face socialization for a change.

Don’t you just love social media? For someone private and reserved, it’s my only way to gain some exposure. Thanks folks!

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A White California Christmas?

As I was driving home from the store Thursday afternoon, the ominous clouds in the horizon towards the north didn’t take long to unleash something totally unexpected. The initial drops of rain were quickly followed by thick torrents of ice. A hailstorm in Long Beach!? It has happened before though rarely, but not in my part of town. While at a stop light, I feared that the heavy drops would crack my windshield. Already the driver of the car beside me was taking a video with his cell phone. Turning into my block, I had to stop to car to take out my cell phone to take my own video. The street was blanketed with ice by this time and with the thickness of the ice droplets, it was difficult to drive because you can barely see anything ahead of you in addition to the slipping and sliding. A truck ahead of me had to stop completely so I had to drive around him to get to the alley where my garage was. I took a second video showing the ice on my car and on the street, including thunder and lightning. When I tried driving the car into the garage, all it did was spin it’s wheels on the icy pavement and I had to back up a couple of times before I was finally able to get in the garage. As I walked the few short steps back home, I had to tread very, very slowly to keep myself from slipping (me with the bad ankles, bad balance, and poor proprioception). In the meantime I saw my neighbor going towards the parking lot to take his own video of the spectacle. Now, I’ve been caught in a hailstorm while running years ago, but nothing of the magnitude that happened in the late afternoon of December 15th. The sky had fallen and heavily. It wouldn’t surprise me if the snowflakes come soon.

Here's an update to last night's hail storm. The morning after, the ice on the ground still hasn't melted.

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Catching Up With Runner’s World, etc.

Oh boy, am I delayed in my magazine reading! The January issue of Runner’s World magazine had already arrived even before I could finish the December issue. I decided that if it was a quiet night at work, I would try to catch up. Having finished my routine work early last Monday night, (doing rounds, taking vital signs, charting, and making new chart packs) instead of grabbing my netbook, I took out the two issues of RW and started reading. I was already at the last article of December about why you don’t see too many African American runners, so I was able to finish that issue rather quickly. Then I started on the January issue. Ever noticed how much thinner this magazine is now? It’s becoming more like my local newspaper – filled with advertisements. The magazine was so thin that I was able read it halfway before stopping to save some for the next day. I have a three year subscription and  am only being charged less than a dollar each issue so I have no complaints about the thinness and the ads. They have to make a living after all.
I don’t know why I’m still subscribed though, because training hasn’t changed much through the years and they are practically saying the same things over and over. However there are human interest stories that are nice to read. It’s just disappointing that I am no longer able to try some of the workouts that the magazine suggests. One of the best ones I’ve tried before all my ankle problems started was the 3/2/1 intervals which I’ve mentioned in previous posts. After a 10 minute warm up, run 3 minutes at about a 10k pace, recover by jogging for 1 minute, then for 2 minutes pick up to a 5k pace, then 1 minute recovery, then 1 minute at a 400 meter pace, then 2 minutes of recovery jogging. One set of that gives you 10 minutes and do 3 to 4 sets of that plus a 10 minute cool down at the end. It’s a tough road interval workout that can take the place of a track workout. Better to do if you have a variable interval timer watch. You’d be very thankful when you reach that 2 minute recovery jog at the end of each interval because by then you would have gone anaerobic.
Speaking of recent running, my ankles were hurting for several days after last Tuesday morning’s (not yesterday, but last week) treadmill run because I wore thinner soled shoes. They were still motion control shoes but the soles were slightly thinner than the one’s I usually wear. Not only that, but I tried increasing the pace slightly and that increased my pounding against the surface. Say what you may about the advantages of barefoot running but that just doesn’t work for collapsed ankles like mine. I need the thickest ,most supportive motion control shoes plus orthotics to minimize the side to side movement. Enough said about running for today. I probably spent more time reading Runner’s World than actually running this past week. At least I’m caught up with that part of life.

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Surprise Gift From Charter Internet

Here's a short and sweet post: I’ve been getting calls from Charter Communications (my internet provider) in the past week and since I’ve been at work when they called I couldn’t answer. They finally got hold of me Tuesday night and I told the agent on the other line that I’ve missed a few of their calls. Anticipating an offer for bundled services and before he could start his spiel however, I told him that first, I don’t need cable TV or telephone service over the internet, but to go ahead and tell me what special offers they have so I can say no thanks to him afterwards. We had a quick laugh at that. Well, he bypassed the specials that I told him I didn’t need but let me know that they are upgrading my internet speed from 12 megabits per second to 15 megabits per second at no extra charge. Who could refuse such an offer or did I even have that option? I thanked him and his company. What he didn’t mention is the upload speed was increased also to almost double the 1.7 mbps I originally had. I only found this out when I tested the speed the next day. Once again, thanks, Charter Communications! I forgive you for charging me a couple of week’s worth of extra fees for renting your modem <> when I didn’t have to. Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas Charter Communications!

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Virgin Immobile Follow Up

After having used the LG Optimus V for several months on a prepaid plan this is what I can say about it. Even though it’s an Android phone, I hardly use the apps. There are a lot of preloaded apps that don’t apply to me and I’m pretty sure other people with smart phones hardly use a lot of the preloads and downloads with regularity. You know, download a free app, try it once or twice, then forget about it. By the way, for some reason some of the preloaded apps cannot be deleted.
When I bought this phone, the manual said I had to subscribe to a monthly plan. At that time their lowest tier plan was $25.00 a month for unlimited internet and 300 minutes of talk time. They have since then increased it to $35.00. I found that subscribing was not necessary if I wanted to stay with the prepaid service. After all, I only occasionally check email or browse the web via wi-fi. One problem I have now is that I can’t top-up my minutes online anymore because Virgin Mobile blocked all my credit cards. So I have to buy top-up cards or load up the minutes at a store like Radio Shack – a minor inconvenience when you’re used to topping up online. I don’t know if this is because of the supposed monthly subscription requirement or my previous dispute with Virgin Mobile ( Nowadays, I only top-up every 90 days as required by the company to keep their service. I stopped using my cell phone for international calls and use MagicJack instead because it’s way cheaper. So what do I do now with all those accumulated minutes? Maybe I’ll sign up for Facebook text message updates.
Another problem I’m having has something to do with MMS (multi media messaging service). I couldn’t send or receive them. I mistakenly thought that the person I was sending a picture to did not receive it because the file was too big and she didn’t have a smart phone. Don’t worry, I wasn’t sexting and never have. I also tried to send a picture to my Facebook wall to no avail. Then I asked one of my coworkers to try to send me a picture from her phone. Still no dice. I finally emailed Virgin Mobile and they said they will forward the issue to their technicians. They just sent me a text message telling me to try using MMS again. As of this writing, it’s still not working. I’ve checked message boards and read that this is a common problem with the Virgin Mobile network. Darn! If only the price wasn’t right for my budget, I would have left this company a long time ago. The closest alternative is the AT&T Go Phone but that costs slightly more every three months and their international long distance rates are sky high. So, I can’t use my smart phone to its full capabilities. Smart phone, but dumb system.

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Replacing My Old PDA

Did you ever use a PDA (no, not public displays of affection but personal digital assistant) before smart phones came out? I’ve never used the device. What I consider my PDA is more old fashioned, something  descended from papyrus, if you get my drift. We’re not even talking about a Filofax here. Remember those?

Kids nowadays probably don’t know what I’m talking about. What I have is not something I need to turn on, boot up, or recharge, and I use my own moistened digits to turn the pages. Well my old 1980’s era PDA was falling apart – tattered, dog eared, cover torn off, held together by rubber bands, etc. After using it to look up addresses for this year’s Christmas card list, I decided it had taken too much abuse, served me past it’s lifetime, and time to get a replacement.
First, I went to the 99 Cent store but didn’t find one. Then I visited the websites of Walmart, Target, Staples, OfficeMax and Office Depot. There were all sorts but the simplest one I found with the right price was at Target. It was made from recycled paper so there, I’m being environmentally friendly, okay?
I copied the names and addresses from the old PDA to the new one, left out the ones I haven’t been in touch with for several years (old gf’s, distant relatives, etc.), then shredded the pages that have been written on before throwing away the blank ones in the trash. Parting with the broken down PDA was such sweet sorrow and I wish the new one will last just as long. If it does, this world will have gone paperless by then. On a second thought, what would we use for toilet paper?!
 My Old Address Book and the Replacement

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Multi City Run

It was time to send off my mom’s Christmas card via the LBC courier service in Norwalk. Like last year, it gave me an opportunity to run elsewhere other than from home. This reminded me of a 20 miler a lot of years ago when I tried to set foot on as many cities that I could on the way and ended up at a family picnic at the end. This long run started from home in Long Beach and went through Lakewood, Cerritos, Norwalk, Bellflower, Downey, then back to the Lakewood/Long Beach border for the picnic. This is what I call my 6 city run which was never repeated. I don’t even remember anymore what marathon I was training for that year but I’m sure it’s in one of my three decades long logbooks.
 Last Friday’s run was on a much lesser scale which consisted of only 2 cities. Starting off from Norwalk, I headed to Cerritos about a mile away and ran on the streets surrounding Cerritos Town Center, then proceeded  to my Uncle’s house. Seeing that everything was quiet from outside, I didn’t bother to ring their doorbell because I didn’t want to be an unexpected guest. I meandered through their housing tract then turned around at the 25 minute point. This part of Los Angeles county is pancake flat other than freeway bridges, two of which I happened to cross. Both were over the 91/Riverside Freeway. That was the extent of my hillwork that day.
 The only significant thing about this short run was that it was non-stop. Instead of doing the one minute walk between four minute runs, I kept on skipping the walk breaks until I reached 50 minutes. Last year when I ran in that area, I went out and back from L.A. County to Orange County and that was a three city run: Norwalk, Cerritos, and Cypress. As my ankle tendons have deteriorated, so have the number of cities I could connect together during the times that I could run. Nevertheless, I appreciate those times that I am able to. Fifty freaking good minutes of slow and steady non-stop running! Short but sweet.

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

So Why Didn't I Get a Raise?!?

I started writing this last week upon finding out that all my coworkers had gotten a salary increase in their last paycheck while I did not. Three years ago, our employer gave us a raise and a month later when the recession struck, they not only laid people off, they also took away three percent from the remaining employees’ hourly pay. At the time, most employees got a three percent raise but when the employer took three percent off the new hourly rate, the workers actually got lesser money than before the raise took effect.
 So back to my problem. What I wrote below was in preparation for me to plead my case to my supervisor and human resources, because my annual review was quite good. Well, practically everyone gets good reviews anyway based on past evaluations and if so, why did my coworkers get a raise and I did not. Here is what I wrote last week:

Reasons Why I Deserve a Raise:
*Mentored coworkers when Electronic Medical Records system started.
*Keeps unit stocked with admission chart packs by streamlining the way they are assembled.
*I’m the only one who makes chart packs in our unit on South Campus.
*Does the most frequent rounds of any night shift Mental Health Worker.
*Does not fall asleep while monitoring the hallways at night.
*Developed a list of Mental Health Worker duties and responsibilities and revised them as the job evolved.
**Has been  proactive with having the Registered Nurse sign the back part of the rounds sheet because often times they forget that it needs to be done.
*Does most of the heavy lifting during the works shift (I usually do more work than my coworkers).
*I often go the extra mile by doing work I’m not required to do like filing the rounds sheets before I clock out in the morning.
*When admitting a patient, I’m the only one who automatically gives them gowns, pajama bottoms, and towels (extra blanket too if the room they are going to is cold).
*Cut down a patient from the ceiling who trying to hang herself in the shower.
*I’m very organized and work is done in the most efficient way possible.
These may appear like inconsequential things and they go unnoticed and probably taken for granted because it’s work that I do on a consistent basis. I have never wavered in this work ethic since I started working here, unlike others who become too comfortable and show apathy after just the first few weeks of being on the job.
I’m not the type to toot my own horn but I felt slighted when my paycheck didn’t reflect a raise a couple of weeks ago. I haven't gotten complacent either. That’s why I wrote those reasons above. I started to think that all that hard work doesn’t pay off since the slackers got a raise while I did not. Holding out hope that there must have been a mistake, I decided to wait for the next paycheck to see if there were any changes before calling my supervisor and presenting my reasons. Hallelujah! When I checked my paystub online last Thursday night (we don’t get paper stubs any more, money is directly deposited in the bank and stubs are in pdf), I saw that I was getting two paychecks: one for the a correction of the previous paycheck and the regular check showing that I had indeed received a fair increase for all the hard work I have been doing. Will that raise enable me to retire in a couple of years? Well, it was only a few cents per hour. I don't know how many percent my coworkers got, but I'm happy with mine. Let’s just hope they don’t take that away again in the near future.

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!