Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Saved by the Straight Guy

Pride Weekend 2007. A festival of color, diversity, acceptance and mutual understanding, this yearly event in the South Bay features a parade and a fair in the downtown core. Although this celebration dwarfs that of San Francisco, it is still well-attended, by gay and straight alike, and is a welcome and enjoyable experience for all. Of course I volunteered to do medical coverage for it.

Our first aid booth was located just inside the exit, and aside from the 10-foot-high inflatable smiling penis, and adjacent angry HIV molecule character (both within our direct view), the event was like any other fair I'd attended or worked. We had our share of patients, mostly minor, and only one major. One particular couple will stand out in my mind for a very long time.

The kindly, middle-aged lady approached our booth indicating her eczema was acting up. I could see the cracked skin, which was undoubtedly painful in the dry midday heat. As such, I provided her with lotion to spread across her hands and arms. She was incredibly grateful... going so far to say that I had nice eyes, and wow, I really knew what I was doing, and she truly likes and amires people who are in the medical field.

All the while, her girlfriend was sitting five feet away.

In my normal professional demeanor, I simply smiled, thanked her for her compliments, and continued my paperwork to finish the call log for her visit. When she asked me to please spread on sunscreen on her because her hands were covered in lotion, however, I hesitated.

It is always my goal to remain professional, but this request was out of our scope, and I knew without a doubt that it was a thinly-veiled attempt to make a pass at me. I certainly did not want to get in the middle of a lovers' quarrel, especially with the girlfriend watching studiously out of the corner of her eye. I envisioned her attacking me, claws and teeth flying, for inadvertently caressing her partner. I fell speechless, not knowing how to respond.

To the rescue came Andrew, my partner and now savior from an uncomfortable situation. He methodically spread the sunscreen on her with a "There you go, ma'am !", and concluded our treatment.

She and her girlfriend stayed for several minutes chatting, but finally went about their business.

Phew. No drama in our first aid booth. At least not this day.

Monday, June 25, 2007


No breakfast + hard morning workout + powerful medication = Very sick patient.

Me + the gym + medical emergency in the locker room = No workout today.

Oh well. I have an appointment with the elliptical tomorrow, same time.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Zap !

Our serene workday was punctuated with the sounds of the alarm tones on the Emergency Response Team radio. The dispatcher crackled over the airwaves:

"Base to all units. Be advised, we have a medical emergency at building X. Patient has been electrocuted."

The dictionary definition of electrocution is that the patient has died. Rakesh and I, our cubes close to one another, let out a collective "Oh, shit !", and sped off to the scene.

Medical bag ? Check. Oxygen tanks ? Check. Bag-Valve Mask ? Check. Defibrillator ? Check.

We headed off to the scene, with as much haste as was prudent, adrenaline levels through the roof. We could have a code. We'll probably need to resuscitate. Perhaps our AEDs, that we had fought so dilligently for the company to acquire, would finally be utilized to help save a life.

We arrived on the scene to find our patient..... alive, awake, sitting in a chair with an embarrassed look on his face. "Yeah, I touched the circuit board in the wrong place," he told us.

Wow. That was a rush.

The call was concluded after an evaluation by the Fire Department, and a request that Dispatch use more accurate terminology in the future.

Maybe someday, our AEDs will be used to help save a person's life.

Today, however, was not that day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Last month, we had a call for a vaginal bleed.

Yesterday, our call was a rectal bleed.

I cringe to think of what might be next.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Indian Red Box

Our company is in the midst of an ISO audit. What this means is that we must clean up our labs, set equipment up properly in racks, remove all food and drink containers, fill in entries on the static discharge log, and ensure we follow all the rules of safe and compliant lab maintenance.

Then go back to our normal slobbiness the day after.

My coworker Nandini brought in a red tin of cookies some time back, and after we all had raided the yumminess inside, she kept the tin for cable storage. Our project manager, Kev, saw the shiny red box, and assumed that it contained something edible. He sent this email to Nandini:

"Can you please remove the Indian red box from the lab shelf ?"

Nandini was furious. Why did Kev call it an Indian red box ? "It's not even Indian," she screeched. The cookies are European, Belgian to be exact. Why did Kev call the box Indian ? "Because I'm Indian, that's why. And that pisses me off ! I'm not moving it. If he's so concerned about it, he can open it up and see what's inside for himself !" She was absolutely livid at the apparent racial delineation of her red tin of cookies. It only made her more determined to rebel against the project manager's request.

Listening to her rant, I came up with a diabolical plan. This was something that I just could not resist, even at the cost of my own life and limb.

When Nandini left the lab for her lunch, I peeked around the corner to be sure the coast was clear. I then approached the offending box, and did the following:

Then ran for dear life !

Luckily, I was absent for the fire and brimstone that resulted. :)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Where's Mocha ?

The floor guy still is not finished. He completed the major work, but he still has to do some silicone sealing, and replace one baseboard. At least now we can clean up, and walk around without our shoes, but the continued delays are irritating to say the least.

Since there was no longer the constant racket of power saws, nail guns, hammers and the power generator, I decided to start letting the cats venture upstairs from their home in the laundry room. Timid at first, they'd sniff around, explore, then quickly run back to their sanctuary when even the smallest of noise would spook them. Mocha, the more adventurous of the two, trotted back upstairs yesterday for more investigation.

After a couple of hours, Danny noticed that he hadn't seen her in quite some time. This is unusual, as she is a very playful and energetic cat, and is always peeking around the corner, running around, or hanging out wherever her humans are. Not seeing her for more than 20 minutes is unheard of. We started searching for her.

"Mocha !" No answer. I started getting worried. Where was my cat ?

We searched everywhere. In every cupboard and drawer, as she is known to open as many of them as possible and hide in whichever one suits her fancy. In every box. Under every bed. No sign of her.

"Mocha !" I was starting to panic. Where was my cat ?

In the laundry room, I heard a faint meow. Mocha was in there ! I checked the washer, the dryer, behind all the appliances, in the boxes, and everywhere else. No Mocha.

"She has to be stuck somewhere," Danny mused. It was then that I figured it out.

The vents on the main floor were still uncovered. The covers had been placed somewhere by the floor guys, but we hadn't found them yet. And the vent hole was just big enough for a cheeky little Bengal kitty to fit through...

I asked Danny to get the ladder. If she'd gone down the vent from the main floor, she would have ended up in the space above the heating unit. He put up the ladder, removed the cover, and lo and behold, what did we see:

There was Mocha, dirty, a little traumatized, but uninjured from her ordeal.

Let me officially go on record to say that this cat is certifiably insane.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I Have A Headache

Moving sucks.

I don't think anyone particularly enjoys this activity, even though the end result is often well worth the hassle.

I can't stand chaos and disorganization. I can't stand leaving tasks undone. But in our case, we have no choice.

The guy doing our floors is over a week late, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. He promised us he would be done by moving day, and now, a week later, he is still not finished. There were a couple of days where he just simply didn't show up - knowing full well we were on a tight schedule and needed to have things done. I suppose this is what you get when you hire a family member to do the work. Never again.

Our living room furniture is in a pile in the middle of the floor. A pile of our stuff is out on the balcony in boxes. There is dust everwhere, all over the main floor of the house. I can't even clean it, as the contractors will simply create more mess as they continue their work.

Granted, we did some great work in unpacking the upstairs and setting up our room and the kids' rooms. I busted my butt organizing the kitchen, and we set up the dining room table, so we can actually cook now. But the rest of the downstairs is still in chaos, and it's driving me crazy.

And the floors are not the only problem.

When we bought the house, there were all of two cable TV outlets; one in the room we plan to use as the dining room, and a non-functional one in the master bedroom. The Comcast technician gave all sorts of excuses why he couldn't perform the job, so we hired a private contractor.

That well-intentioned contractor, in an attempt to drill from the laundry room to the living room wall, accidentally drilled a hole in our brand-new wood floor.

He made it right by installing light fixtures in all three bedrooms for the cost of materials, but that was a stress we really did not need.

Home Depot "forgot" to put in the special-size sink order for the kids' bathroom, delaying it for a good two weeks.

And our computer desks, the last piece needed for our bedroom to organize everything once and for all, arrived broken. Both of them. Shattered by a careless courier, as plainly seen from the damage to the box.

Add this to the fact that my back has been absolutely killing me for the past 6 weeks, necessitating doctor's orders not to play softball or take karate, and I'm ready to climb the walls in frustration and pent-up energy.

Going to the gym for light workouts has helped. But I want my house, damnit.

The floor guy had better be done tonight. I'll be seriously pissed if he isn't.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


As is standard practice, whenever a fire alarm sounds, an evacuation of the building is required. My company is no exception; in the not-too-rare instance of an alarm, employees are well-trained to make their way out of the building as soon as possible.

Sometimes, the alarms are for real incidents. Other times, they are not.

Last night's call was the former. A sensor detected smoke in the building, and sounded the alarm, spilling all employees out into the parking lot. The fire department arrived, sirens screaming, to find a burnt, smoking bag of popcorn in one of the breakrooms.

Hey, at least the the sensor worked.

There have been other incidents, too. One of the most memorable was the employee who housed a toaster at his cube. With all the flammable materials nearby, including fabric cube walls, this genius still thought it was perfectly fine to keep a heat-generating, electricity-sucking appliance in his workspace.

And one fateful day, his cinnamon toast combusted, setting off the smoke alarm and evacuating the building.

The Fire Department was not amused. The toaster was confiscated, and thrown into the trash.

But the most memorable incident had to be the one a few years ago. I missed this particular call, but it was immortalized in that month's call logs. An older employee, celebrating his birthday in a conference room with his coworkers, innocently blew out the candles on his cake. The resulting smoke, from the numerous flaming candles, set off the sensor, and evacuated the building.

I hope the Fire Department wished him a happy birthday.

I swear I cannot make this shit up.
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