Round Two: Your Definition and My Definition Differ Greatly

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Yesterday, early in the morning, I had my weekly one on one with the boss.

He’s in the US this week, so it was nice to have a face to face meeting. I have such respect and yes, I’ll say it, affection for my boss. He’s amazing.

I had a long list of items to discuss, and we jumped right into the fray.

It was a good meeting, much cussed, much discussed. Decisions made. Strategy set.

When I’d exhausted my list of items, I said to Boss Man, “so, do you have anything for me?”

He said he did. There were a couple small items. “No problem, boss, I’m on it.”

He continued,”Also, I wanted to let you know that I’m going to put you on a development plan.”

Then the world went molasses on me.

Oooooh. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

My hearing slowed down. My head swam.

I’ve been a manager for a long time. Development plan is a cute little Human Resources euphemism for “You suck, we’re trying to fire you, but we have to do a ‘development plan’ first to document what a toad you are.”

What had I done? In four months I already blew this gig?

Sure, I was a little blunt with that supplier, but damn, they suck at invoicing! And ok, I might have made a joke in a serious meeting, but that’s just my way. Everyone seemed to appreciate the moment of levity! And fine, I might have been late to work a few times this week, but that’s mainly because I was on seven in the morning calls with India, and I took them from home.

I’m not a perfect employee! But damnit! I work hard and my intentions are right!

While the edges of my eyes went wavy, and I tried to figure out where exactly I’d screwed the pooch, I noticed my boss was still talking.

“And so we’ll be working on this over the next month. Being new, you may not know that development plans are only offered to our top performers, so be aware that not all of your coworkers will be doing this same activity.”

Wait. What?

Oh. I see. “Development plan” as used at *this* company is a good thing.

Whew.

My heart can now regain regular rhythmic activities.

(And then I almost cried….but I held it in. A girl crying at work is sooooo uncool.)

Your Definition and My Definition Differ Greatly

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So every once in a while, I’ll read something in the daily news that grabs my attention.

Occasionally, something really makes my eyes open wide.

And then every once in a while, I’ll read something that makes my eyes open wide, leap out of my head, fall down on the floor and roll around a while.

The following headline in yesterday’s news had just this effect on me.

El Paso named safest US city

Uhhh.

Errr.

“…El Paso has taken the top spot for having the lowest crime rate among cities of more than 500,000 population in the annual rankings by CQ Press, a publishing firm based in Washington, D.C.”

So, yeah, I’m gonna guess that those people at CQ Press haven’t paid a personal visit to El Paso lately.

Look, I’m not going to bag on El Paso. It is the birth place of my best friend, and that itself recommends it highly.

It’s also the birthplace of Sam Donaldson and Gene Roddenbury. So ok. Some decent talent comes from the town that Texas forgot.

Having spent a lot of time in El Paso, I could use a lot of adjectives to describe the city. I’m not sure that the word “safe” would burble up to the top ten.

I’ll be fair here. I’ll even take out the obvious concerns about El Paso sharing a border with arguably the most dangerous city in Mexico.

In the past year, approximately 50,000 additional troops were located to Fort Bliss, an army installation in El Paso. Those 50,000 include both returning troops and soldiers left after bases closed in other states. That 50,000 is soldiers only. Add in spouses, kids, other family and the number of new residents rises.

Then add in the high number of people who are fleeing the violence in Juarez and the numbers climb even higher.

Put it together and you’ll find a city bursting at the seams. You can feel it when you visit, the town is growing so fast that infrastructure is having a hard time keeping pace.

That means busy police, fire and emt forces are being overextended during a period of economic downturn and government cost cutting. Sure, all of the new city residents will pay taxes into the economy which will help shore up infrastructure, but that kind of growth takes time.

And then let’s talk about the ongoing immigration flow through a border town like El Paso. My best friend’s folks live within visual distance of the border highway’s Zaragoza bridge. They have bars on their windows. In their some forty years of living there, they’ve found desperate illegals hiding in their yard. Neighbors have been robbed. Violence occurs (but isn’t often reported). I’ve been sitting in the back yard and heard shots fired.

El Paso is a fine town with a rich history. There is a lot to offer the residents who live in that city. Reasonable real estate costs. The Franklin Mountains are beautiful. UTEP is a fine university. Great weather. Even lots of job opportunities. It may even be a relatively safe city. But safest in the US? I have to question that assertion.

Evidently, I’m not the only one.

Some Call El Paso’s Safest City Ranking ‘Bogus’

Time Has A Funny Way…

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There is an episode of Futurama (oh god, I’m going to quote Futurama) called “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back.” It happens to be my favorite Futurama episode ever.

The episode is an homage to the bureaucrat, which appeals to me in a weird and sadistic way. At one point, the head bureaucrat is inspecting the locker of Fry, the show’s ne’er do well.

The bureaucrat extracts a baseball cap from Fry’s locker, and says, “Why is there yogurt in this hat?”

Fry replies, “I can explain. See it used to be milk, and…well, time makes fools of us all!”

This quote, “time makes fools of us all” has become a fave with The Good Man and me. Oft quoted and certainly true, time does make fools of us all.

And here’s what’s got me thinking this way…

After being sick both in October and for the first two weeks of November, I have been unable to shake a powerful and chronic cough. The gasping, almost retching, cannot-catch-my-breath sort of cough.

After being commanded by both The Good Man and my coworkers, on Friday I went to see a doctor. She was convinced I had Whooping Cough until she noted on my chart that I’d had a tetanus shot earlier this year. These days a Whooping Cough booster comes along with a tetanus shot.

So, after ruling out Whooping Cough and giving my non-stop cough a good listen, my doctor has determined that I have developed “hypersensitive airways.”

In laymen’s terms this means I now have asthma. I’ve never had asthma a day in my life, but evidently you can develop this problem at any time. It’s not expected to become a permanent condition, and with medication, I should be able to recover.

My medication takes the form of an inhaler used four times a day, a regimen I’m not enjoying in the least, but I’m sticking to quite adamantly.

You see, this health issue comes with a heavy load of baggage. Like back the truck up, get a U-Haul, step aside, “damn that’s a lot of baggage” sort of heavy.

Almost six years ago, my father passed away from complications of pulmonary fibrosis. It is believed he obtained this condition from the inhalation of beryllium in the course of his career at Sandia Labs.

In the years before he passed away, I watched my father struggle to simply breathe. Just bringing enough oxygen to his scarred and battered lungs was a battle. It was heartrending.

I thought then, “your breath is nothing to take for granted.” But then time moved on. I went on about the matters of living my life. The lesson became less important.

This year when I got a winter cold, I got the resulting cough but I ignored it. I coughed my way through it and it went away, mostly.

Then I got sick again and it went right to my chest and set up home.

Right now, typing this, I breathe with a wheeze. I’m able to get air into my lungs, but it’s hard to breathe deep without dissolving into a coughing fit.

What my father had was a disease of the lungs. What I have is a temporary inflammation of my airways. It’s not the same, I know. But right now I kind of feel like time has made a fool of me.

I know better. Perhaps the lesson needed to be learned again.

Professor Time comes with a reminder: Breathing is nothing to take for granted.

Photo by Maria Herrera and provided royalty free from stock.xchng.

Side Effects

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Hazy thoughts
Dizziness
Dancing to Sinatra ballads with orange and blue plaid elephants
Tiredness
Excess saliva
Weird thoughts
Paranoia
Visual sparkles
Suddenly fluency in dead languages (Sanskrit mostly)
Dreams of flying
Walking with a tilt
Thinking I’m walking with a tilt when really I’m upright and the world has tilted
Understanding Dostoevsky’s work
Spontaneous giggles
Itchies
Refuting Nietzsche, adamantly, while wearing clothing upside down and backwards
Crossed eyes
Hair dysfunction
Voices telling me to buy more spray cheese
Sore toe
Sudden infatuation with sprinkler heads
Driving in a zig zaggy manner
Attempts to capture the many bats flying around the office (but not in that “Fear and Loathing kind of way)
Craving limes
Ability to converse with refrigerator
Ability to burp in three part harmony
Thirsty

——-

These are but a few of the side effects experienced that were not printed on the back of the Robitussin Bottle. Maximum strength.

Buyer beware.***

***Yes, I managed to get sick again. That’s twice in two months. I’m mostly over it but can’t stop coughing. I’ve decided that Robitussin is evil and shouldn’t be sold over the counter.

I have to stop riding the pink dragon. It’s altering my mind.

In a conversation with The Good Man, I ticked off the list of things to watch out for (as in, a bad reaction to the ‘Tussin). Aberrant behavior, moodiness, blackouts, etc. He replied, “How would I tell any of this apart from your everyday life?”

That is not a good sign.

Never Underestimate

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Here in my home, I have this cat that I managed to acquire by marriage, and is now part of my family. I’d had cats before so I knew what to expect going in.

But this cat is something different. Something special. Something about half a bubble off plumb.

Despite rightly being called a “special needs” cat, owing to suffering an especially high fever during her kittenhood, sometimes the wisdom of this not-always-so-smart pet just blows me away.

This cat has no patience for anyone. She wants to sit on your lap, but you’re not allowed to actually touch her. Give her a skritching and you’ll face the grip of her steely jaws.

Food must be delivered on time, or preferably early, or a string of thuggish behavior will ensue that begins with knocking things over and culminates in all out attacks on appendages.

She likes to fight before settling down for sleep at night, often leaving The Good Man with red marks on his arms.

She’s rasty, moody and rather obsessive compulsive.

And, may I mention again, she has no patience for anyone. Or really…anyone who lives in the same house with her.

Guests? Oh, guests are great. She mews coquettishly and rubs legs and climbs up in laps and accepts chin scratches with chirrups and purrs and loving eyes.

In short, the cat is a tart. She’ll give it away to anyone who visits, but for the folks at home…nothing. But here’s where my heart grows soft. This silly, rasty, bitey cat is especially kind to kids.

Yesterday evening, a dear friend brought her eighteen-month-old daughter over to my place to watch Game 2 of the World Series. Her husband is on business travel and she wanted company.

Many cats I know will run hide under the bed when a toddler enters the room.

Not this cat. She adores children. The moment that toddler’s toes hit the ground, we heard “kitty!” and it was off to the races.

The toddler pulled The Feline’s tail, poked her ears and repeatedly hugged the kitty rather roughly. Did the cat run, bite or get nasty?

Nope. She went right back in for more, letting the child maul her while she head butted and purred.

Later, the cat was asleep up on top of her favorite perch, a stack of blankets on an old steamer truck. The toddler noticed the cat again, as though she’d never seen her before, squealed “kitty!” and went racing over.

I kept a close eye on things as I feared The Feline’s patience was running thin. Toddler got a hold of tail and pulled hard. “No, no,” I said, “We don’t pull the kitty’s tail.” The toddler looked at me like I’d lost my mind, but let go.

At that moment, The Feline extended her paw out and I thought, “uh oh.”

Then my rasty, tacky, bitey cat laid her paw (claws very much retracted) very gently on the baby’s forehead. It was sort of like a “that’s ok kid, you can pull my tail. We’re all good.”

And the baby giggled.

It was one of the most gentle and sweet gestures I’ve ever seen between two beings. They found a simpatico.

Again I’m amazed at the…well, I’d use the word humanity, but that wouldn’t apply to a cat…the felinity?…that this little animal displayed.

I’m not much of an animal rights activist type person, but I will say this…never underestimate the soul of an animal. There is personality and spirit that is much to be respected.

Even a wacky, not quite right, bites my toes when I sleep kind of animal like mine.

Taken with my iPhone 4 using the Hipstamatic iPhone app