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Friday, July 30, 2010

Off to the bay!

I'm outta here!
Heading to Bay St Louis for a relaxing weekend of drinking coffee on the beach. Just me and the tar balls.
I'm glad to leave my work drama behind. This week my pharmacy manager got in a fight with my store manager, and my pharmacy manager called me at home to vent about it. ON MY ANNIVERSARY. And talked for an hour. This is both proof that my pharmacy manager is a single man, and the explanation for why he is still a single man. The fighting is basically about pharmacy operations - scheduling, work flow, etc. The store manager thinks we suck a little. He's right, we do suck, but we're working on it. We're under new management! My pharmacy manager thinks this is none of the store manager's beeswax. He's right, too. The store manager's job is to keep Mucinex in stock and make sure the bathrooms are clean, neither of which he does. It is not his job to tell pharmacists how to run their show (this was a major issue when I worked at Walmart; the store managers would come tell us what to do with blatant disregard for legality or ethics.)
To help me navigate the issue, I've compiled the benefits of siding with either manager.
Why I should side with pharmacy manager:
- I have work with him every day
- Pharmacists should stick together
- He does not have an irritating back-to-front combover like the store manager does
- He has a clue, unlike the store manager, who literally has no earthly idea what goes on in the pharmacy.
Why I should side with the store manager:
- Maybe I could use my leverage to bribe him into cleaning the bathrooms
- Pharmacy manager is a slob like nobody's business and this would teach him a lesson about leaving important files everywhere!
- He's just clueless enough for me to start running the show completely if we "teamed up". I would totally start a campaign of free peanut butter cups for employees on busy days.
On second thought, I'll just ignore them both and continue being the stellar, overworked pharmacist that I've always been.
Have an awesome weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Good Morning!

And happy long-run day, haha!
Thanks for all the sweet comments and congrats yesterday on our anniversary. I also loved all the comments about married vs. single life and the special aspects of each. I can relate to all of those, on both sides! Looking back at my wedding pics reminded me that I wanted to do a few posts on my wedding - I was on a very strict budget, both of time and money, yet I pulled off a unique wedding for under $8000 total. This included every single dime we spent, from the rings to the reception. The average New Orleans wedding costs $36,500 (the national average is about $30000) so I feel pretty good about cost. I might put up some posts on saving money without stressing out. If I can get my act together :)
Yesterday the hus surprised me with this Mignon Faget cuff: I love it but I wish he'd quit getting me extravagant gifts when all I gave him was a leftover Christmas card with the verse crossed out and my own message written inside.

So, my long run: I resolutely set the alarm for 5 am this morning, then I checked the weather and saw that it was 90 degrees with 90% humidity basically from 3 am to 7 am. What's the point of even getting out of bed? I ended up getting on the road at a little past 6, maybe 6:10. It was already warm and super muggy, but I was prepared this time: I brought Cliff shot blocks (which are pricey, geez, over $2.50, good thing there are 2 servings in there), gatorade, and a little baggie of sea salt and potassium tablets. I was going to compound my own capsules, but I didn't have time to swing by Castellon pharmacy and pick up some empty capsules. Sometimes I like to play pharmacist.
This run went ok. I was feeling slow and sluggish from the start and I had "heavy legs". This is because yesterday I tried a new workout as my cross train day, and I whomped my thighs.* Plus I forgot my compression hose yesterday at work. But really it was ok; I have super sore stiff quads now but I got through my run well and even picked up the pace for the last few miles. I was a lot slower altogether compared to last week, but I think part of that is my chosen route: going up and down St Charles ave a few times during commuter hours is slow going - lots of traffic turning in front of you and lots of lights. I also had some longer walk breaks because it takes a freaking long time to chew those shot blocks; I tried running and chewing and it was making me queasy so I canned that idea. I had 3 shot blocks and about 13 ounces of gatorade, plus 90 mg of potassium and a highly exact pinch of salt.
My shot blocks review:
-More portable for spaced calories - you can eat 33 calories at a time instead of trying to squeeze out small portions of GU, then run holding an open GU pack.
-Kind of like eating candy! Yummy!
-Nice, healthy ingredients (I mean, as far as fake foods go).
-It was a pleasant change to chew something instead of swallowing gel.
-I could feel them in my stomach, but take that with a grain of salt because I get sick to my stomach a lot when I run.
-After eating them I felt like brushing my teeth for the rest of the run.
Have you tried shot blocks? What's your running fuel?
*If you're wondering, it wasn't some awesome thigh workout. It was a Women's Day ab workout, and I was obviously doing everything wrong since my abs feel fine and my thighs hurt!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Three Years

Three years ago today David and I got married!
The wedding was nothing special...

But the end result was. It's been the best three years of my life!
In reflection of the three years, here are three things...
...that I enjoy about being married:

1. Coffee and newspaper in the mornings.
2. A second opinion
3. Sweet little text messages throughout the day.
...that I didn't expect:
1. He really is totally clueless in the kitchen. I thought that was an act.
2. I sleep better with company!
3. You never stop learning about each other.
...that I remember about our wedding:
1. My hairdresser put my long, thick hair up with about 400 pins and NO HAIRSPRAY. Most talented person ever.
2. My brother Nate fell asleep during the ceremony.
3. David whispered, "You look beautiful" as soon as he saw me!
...that I miss about being single:
1. I never had to actually cook a meal - I'd be happy with just a piece of fruit and cheese.
2. The bathroom was always clean.
3. I never found kitchen utensils in weird places (yeah, yeah, I know he's trying to help with the dishes...).
If you're married, what do you enjoy? Now I love my husband but I also absolutely loved my single life - so if you're single, what do you love about it?

Monday, July 26, 2010

And finally, do-it-yourself distressed furniture

I promised to show you how to cute-up your made-in-Cambodia-some-assembly-required furniture, and here it is.
I had to furnish my bedroom with furniture that ships flat because I have a tricky spiral staircase. It's really just a half-spiral, but it's challenging to get furniture up there without taking out the banister. Usually anything I decide to take upstairs is probably going to stay upstairs, or come down in several pieces.
When I graduated from pharmacy school, my adorable hubby bought me a sewing machine. Prior to this machine, I'd always used a table machine - the kind that comes installed in a wooden table. I couldn't reuse the table I already had because the new machine didn't fit into the old table's screw-on design. I ended up buying this small desk from Target since it nicely fit the available space (my bedroom has two windows, a door, a closet, and a fireplace, leaving very minimal wall space).
I put the desk together and stood back to admire my handiwork - and realized that the desk turned my hither-to cozy bedroom into a decrepit dorm room. Something must be done!

This easy "antiquing" simply keeps furniture from looking too new or plastic.
You need rough sandpaper and elbow grease - that's all. Simply sand the edges off without extending too far onto the flat surfaces. The particle board that shows through looks kind of like wood, right?

Tips for success:
- Use rough sandpaper
- Spend extra time rounded off the corners. They should get the most wear.
- Be a little sporadic in your sanding: Don't sand off every single edge and vary the amount you sand down as you go.
- Don't forget the knobs - or replace the knobs with something cuter. Replacement knobs go cheap on Ebay.
- This works on white furniture. If you use it on black fake furniture then the sanded areas will be lighter, which looks odd.
- Of you are worried about longevity of the furniture, you can swipe varnish over the sanded areas to keep moisture out. Or you can figure the piece won't last too long anyway and just shrug.

This look is not supposed to be country or shabby-chic, it's just a fast way to un-plastic your bedroom.
What's your best DIY furniture trick?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Doing it Yourself

When it comes to chores and projects, the Yankee in my tends to want to do it myself. I don't like paying people to do things I can do on my own. I learned to change my own oil in college and used to crawl under my car (no jack required) every 3000 miles, thrilled at the $15 I was saving. If I can make it, I will: granola bars, clothes, stationary, quick fixes. If I can repair it, I will (with the occasional dubious result. I "fixed" our toilet once and it ran until it overflowed).
But I've been thinking lately that there are some things that it makes sense to pay others to do. I read somewhere that if you make more per hour at your job than you'd pay someone else, plus you don't have the right equipment, you should pay someone else to do it for you.
I get my oil changed now because I don't have a driveway and I don't want to get run over. But I still fix my own dishwasher, change my own wiper blades and air filter, and make bread from scratch. It's hard for someone cheap like me to pay someone else to do something I feel capable of doing.
I draw the line at electrical work. I hated that part of physics and shocked myself in lab. If it has an electricity source I'm not touching it!
What would you pay someone to do?
Clean your house (I really want a maid! Just to do one thorough cleaning a month and I'll do upkeep!)?
Wash and fold your clothes?
Paint a room?
Hem your pants/do alterations?
Steam carpet?
Trim your bushes and water your plants?
What's your cut-off point for doing a job yourself verus paying someone else?
Image from, which is a website full of awesome stuff.

Friday, July 23, 2010

In which I am put on the spot and have an awesome day

Sorry I've been a little quiet over here. I blame my crazy Wednesday. Quick recap:
Tuesday my highly-excitable (in a good way - passionate, I guess) boss called and asked me to pop in at a market meeting for the company. I dutifully showed up on Wednesday morning, finding myself in a room full of all the district managers from Texas to Florida. Big people. I am little people. Scary.
The moment I walked in, purse still in hand, the clinical director called me to the front and basically asked me to introduce myself and what my clinical plan is. I'm being cryptic here because I have some company secrets and stuff but basically I'm heading up HIV care in the area. Well, luckily I was prepared with off-the-cuff remarks thanks to some news headlines from that morning which gave me an interesting anecdote to base my few sentences on.
The rest of the meeting was a surprise to me, but I found out I've been selected to head up a new project that spans our entire market! I'm incredibly excited. It's an area I'm interested in, it calls on specific skills and abilities, and it's a great opportunity both for myself and my company.
And it's a lot of work. But I'll take it! I love having a lot on my plate!
The best part of the meeting was that while the clinical directer was introducing lots of resources and facts and plans, most of those present treated it like new information. For example, most didn't know that pharmacies have access to copay assistance card websites for low income patients. However, my district manager DID know, because I had already spread this info around the district. We're already a step ahead of the game. Hopefully this made it look like I know my stuff :)
The rest of Wednesday was a little crazy. I left the meeting all elated, but had to go straight to another meeting before heading to work. I ended up getting stuck in traffic, and did my second meeting via phone (honestly it wasn't anything I needed to be there for anyway). I got to work a little late and discovered when I got there that my closing pharmacist - the 2 pm to 10 pm shift - had called in sick, and there was no one to cover for her. I called our scheduler and we worked out an awesome deal: I worked the rest of my partner's shift, and got all day Friday off instead. Tada, three day weekend!
That did mean that I closed the store Wednesday and opened up at 7 am on Thursday though, so I've been pretty exhausted. I'm enjoying my day off by working on my new project. Once I finish today's assignments, I'll be back with an easy DIY you can use to make crappy cardboard dorm furniture look like priceless antiques.
Image from someone else's blog.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Little Loose Ends

That's what this post is.
1. My calf muscles have gotten huge, and I hate it. How did this happen? Why do I have to look like Lance Armstrong? On the plus side, I'm pretty sure I could kick your head off.
2. This morning when I came to work a big, confused, lumbering palmetto bug (ie flying cockroach the size of a bird) met me at the pharmacy door. I stomped it in a moment of extreme bravery but I really don't think that's in my job description.
3. Last night I blew a fuse for my stove. We live in an old house, so I sent the hubby out with a new fuse so I could make dinner. Not happening: the second, and third, fuses blew as well. We called an electrician, but let's all pray my stove is broken. It's ancient and cooks unevenly and I'd be really happy with a new one. Until we find out it's microwaved quesadillas for dinner.
4. I bought a precious little black Ann Taylor dress from Ebay for 99 cents! It's tags-still-on new and has pockets. I lurve pockets.
5. I got a last minute call to join in on a market meeting tomorrow. The markets in my company are a couple of states; the district managers usually attend these meetings. I get to go and do my HIV spiel, and that's kind of exciting!
6. Sometimes I want to raspberry people who rain on my parade. My sister is sometimes one of those people. I am secretly raspberrying her in my head. To her face I am sending an un-offended, un-offending email of love and rainbows, because that's what sisters do.

7. This is my candy stash. I hide it in a shoe box under my desk. My husband knows I have a candy stash, but he hasn't found it yet. Every so often I have a rough day at work, and all I have to do is wait for him unglue himself from his mac so I can snag a peanut butter cup. It's awesome.
What's going on in your life this Tuesday? And do you have a candy stash, or do you (horrors) share? Or are you so freaking awesome that you don't have a stash because you don't crave chocolate or candy, and even if you do you simply employ your cast iron will and say no???

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Spillway Classic Trail Run

This morning hubby and I ran the Spillway Classic, a kind of silly 3 mile race through the woods and swamp and levees. It's held in Norco, which is the name of a narcotic pain killer and, coincidentally, a small industrial town outside of New Orleans. The idea behind the race is to get dirty, sweaty, and muddy. There are awards for the muddiest finishers and, as popularity of the race has grown, quite the post race party. This year we had hot dogs, MASSAGES, beer, and snowballs. Dude, snowballs! My idea of post-race food!
I decided that this mud-fest would be a great way to kiss the Nikes goodbye. I got about 650 miles out of them and the soles are completely worn away at the ball of the foot. It doesn't help that I land on the insides of my feet, so they wear unevenly, but seriously these things didn't hold up well at all. Today was their farewell race.

Actually I accidentally threw these out a few weeks ago when I bought my newest shoes but I made David fish them out of the trash for me, right before the garbage men came. What did God make husbands for, anyway?
So, the race review: The spillway classic is oodles of fun, but it is not a race you run for time. Period. Here's why: the course starts on a levee, then descends into swampy woods in a single file trail. To run fast you have to basically be the first person at the start, because you can do little passing on the levee (it's narrow, there are 2000 people on it, and the sides are steep crumbly dirt so you can't skip out on the edges to pass unless you feel like tumbling down the levee). Once you get into the woods, there are two gigantic mud pits and one large muddy puddle, in which all the people you didn't pass on the levee slip, slide, and splash (ok, I may have done some splashing, too. Mud is fun when you have old shoes). Then everyone HALTS!!! Screeching halt!!! This is the point at which runners realize that they are actually entering a narrow, hilly path in the woods. The couch-to-5kers freak out for a moment, then everyone comes to grip with the fact that the only way out is the mud puddles or the woods. The column gradually eases forward. Then you run single file through hills, bridges, roots, fallen logs, ramps, etc - all fun stuff - in the woods. You come out in a grassy field right at the finish, boom, you're done. The only time you have for a sprint is on the grass...if sprinting is your thing.
Spillway Pros: Totally fun, great chance for trail running, technical T-shirt, really good post-race party, firefighters spraying off the muddy runners afterward, choice of ale or light beer, first 500 finishers get some kind of goofy award. Here's this year's:

It's a BOTTLE OPENER! How freaking adorable is that!!! I love!!!
Spillway Cons: Really none, but just for disclosure it's only 3 miles, it's in BFE, and it's not a race you run for time (not just because of the trails and mud; also the super slow start). Like no PRs here.
I definitely had fun, but we started way in the back today and literally no one passed me. I only passed other people - including about 12 people in the woods, just for grins. Next year I'd try to scoot up to the front a little more because we were really going SLOOOOW in the woods.
Moral dilemma: I try to start with the same group I'll finish with. I don't want to be blocking any speedy runner's way, but I also don't like being behind lots of walkers and slow pokes. Now that I got hubby to drink the running Kool Aid, he's starting with me much of the time. Unfortunately, since he's slower, we've been starting more to the back. Should I still start at the frontish? Make him start behind me? Just shut up and stay towards the back? Opinions from other racers, please!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Foody Friday: Shopping at the WHOLE WALLET

That's what my father in law calls Whole Foods.
As you might have noticed, I'm notoriously cheap. So you might think I would buy my groceries at Sam's (A six-pack of pound cake! Brownie mix that comes in a box the size of my closet!) or a co-op (5 gallon drums of dried pinto beans! 144 frozen tofu burgers!). Would you be shocked to know that I actually shop at Whole Foods?! (cue gasping, infomercial-esq).
Really I shop at a number of stores, but one of them is Whole Foods. To get the best bargains and freshest foods you have to commit the time to shop at several locations. Here's how my grocery stops break down:
Whole Foods:
*I buy most of my cheese from Whole Foods - it's actually less per pound than most stores, and there are often amazing sales. When feta cheese is on sale for $2.99/lb, I stock up (those tiny 4 ounce tubs of feta at the grocery store are usually over $3!).
*Whole Foods also offers a good selection of bulk rice, beans, dried fruit, and spices. Obviously you should always buy bulk spices, but some large health food stores undercut Whole Foods prices, so double check. The bulk rices are a good price, as are most fruits and nuts (and their pistachios are very high quality so I recommend them), but don't buy the bulk maple syrup, honey, peanut butter, or cereals. Most are stale of overpriced, and the honey is not local (buy local honey for pollen allergy protection!).
*Check the wine sales: regular prices are high; sales are good.
*Check the produce sales, too. I'm not a huge fan of Whole Foods produce since it is rarely local and very expensive, but I do buy the occasional bargain. Last week cherries were 2.99/lb.
*Don't buy herbs, supplements, cleaning products, beauty care, etc here: you can probably order most of these items online for much less.
*I don't buy meat from Whole Foods because I don't eat a lot of meat and I don't really care if it's hormone treated, free range, etc. I WOULD care if I ate more, but since we eat so little it's not high on my agenda right now. So I can't really advise in this area.
I pick up other groceries in the area from:
Farmer's Market:Our markets are small, so I basically buy whatever fresh produce they're offering this week. I go prior to a grocery store trip so I can fill in the gaps at the grocery.
Produce Truck: I stop at the roadside produce trucks for amazing deals on avocados and fruit. It's not usually local (with the exception of satsumas), but you can't beat the 99 cent avocado prices.
Rouses: My main grocery store. They have a store-brand organic line and great produce, so I buy most food items here. They also have a decent meats section that I trust for cleanliness.
Roberts: This is another local grocery but I go here just for the bread. They have the best french bread in town. Their bakery is good altogether; I buy a lot of my breads here or at the patisserie down the street from my house.
Wal-mart: WHAT?! Wal-mart?! Yes...I do shop there, but for only two items. Let me get on my little Wal-mart soapbox. YOU WILL NOT SAVE MONEY DOING YOUR GROCERIES HERE. You won't! Some items are less expensive, but you can't take advantage of sales. Grocery stores price a few items and loss or minimal profit, hoping to lure you into their aisles. Wal-mart doesn't, so you can't get create with your menus and save on super low sales. Plus I just plain old don't like Walmart, because it's gross and dirty and slow and awful and makes me doubt humanity.
However, I force myself in there a few times a year to buy grated parmesan in the refrigerator section and Great Value columbian coffee. It is awesome coffee and almost worth standing in line for 45 minutes.
Odds and Ends: Since I work in a drug store and get a discount, I wait for paper products to go on sale and buy them with my discount then (even better if I also have a coupon!). If you don't happen to have a 15% discount going for you, try to combine sales and coupons. It feels a little like stealing.
How 'bout you? Where do you shop? Do you buy from many places or tend to get it all over with at once?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's all about the gatorade!

On my new training schedule, Thursdays are my long run day. Last week I had a really, really bad long run (14 miles). I nearly passed out, I felt sick the whole day, and I had several days of low blood pressure thanks to severe electrolyte loss. Oh, and the cramping? My calves and abs seemed permanently crunched. I was doing so poorly during the run that at mile ten I detoured home and chugged some OJ. That perked me up enough to finish the last four miles without stopping (I'd stopped multiple times throughout the ten miles); my last four miles were under 9 min/mile pace which was good compared to my first ten! When I had sufficiently recovered (like, by Sunday)I tried to analyze the run to see where I went wrong. Here's my list of problems and solutions:
1. Problem: I overheated before five miles. Solution: I started running at about 9:30 am. Too late in the day! I have to start earlier or much later.
2. Problem: My head felt baked by mile two. I had slight burns on my cheeks even with sunscreen. Solution: Wear a white running hat and select a shady route. The route I've been using for long runs starts with a ten-mile back bone; I add loops in Audubon park to increase distance. Unfortunately the ten mile route involves a stretch of shadeless levee that ALWAYS does me in! I think I need to abandon this route for the summer.
3. Problem: Excessive sweating meant excessive electrolyte loss and dehydration. I ate a GU on the way but if I hadn't stopped for juice I think I would have fainted on the trail. There are water fountains along the route in the park, but not for the first 5 miles, or during the distance I ran up St Charles (about another 5 miles). I brought a water bottle with me that I froze prior to my run, but it was completely melted in about 15 minutes. It quickly grew warm (I drank it anyway). If you don't mind a little TMI, I'll tell you that I was so dehydrated post-run that I couldn't produce urine for 12 hours. It was BAD. Solution: Bring gatorade/water mix on the run, bring GU, stop at every fountain, start madly licking the sweat that trickles past the lips.
4. Problem: Tired legs. I stand up 8 hours a day. My feet and legs always hurt! Solution: Wear compression support hose to work the day before a long run. I should be wearing them everyday anyway!
5. Problem: No fuel. I didn't want stomach cramps, so lsat week I didn't eat before the run. Plus I brought a berry GU and I cannot stomach the fruity GU's. Solution: Run earlier, before morning insulin release lowers blood sugar; eat carbs the night before. I hesitate to eat the morning of a run unless I have time for digestion and I usually don't because, hello, love me some sleep! Of course, eating GU helps too.

So, did my planning work? Let's recap:
Problem 1: I did get up earlier and was out of the house by 7:15. However, that's not nearly early enough. The sun was beating down by 8:00 and it was killer hot (Actually there is a heat advisory today until 7 pm and it was 89 degrees with a heat index of 104 by 9:00 am. But it was still better than last week).
Problem 2: I ran all the way down St Charles Ave plus several loops in Audubon this time; there was more shade, but large sections of St Charles are still quite sunny and my lips got a sunburn. I hate lip sunburns. Also I forgot my hat.
Problem 3: This time I brought gatorade and water (3:1 mix) and it made all the difference! Only I ran out about 3/4 of the way through; not sure how to solve this problem (Larger bottle? Stash some in the park?) but I need to because I felt my pace drop once I ran out. I started on water and GU after I ran out of gatorade and I did ok.
Problem 4: I wore the nasty old lady hosiery yesterday and my legs felt good the whole run.
Problem 5: I did eat bread and rice cereal last night but I still started feeling a tad faint during the run. I didn't finish my GU because honestly warm espresso ooze washed down with warm water was making me want to puke. I still need to work on this one.
All in all, I felt great during and after this run; I did 16 miles in 2:18:50, and the only time I turned off my watch was when I dashed into Rite Aid to fill up my water bottle and when I waited an excessively long time to cross at Lee Circle. Sometime I turn off my watch when I stop for water and GU or for crossing busy intersections but in the interests of more accurate time I let it run.
I filled my bottle back up with gatorade for the next long run... I skipped the water this time.

Now since it's my day off I'm going to relax and recover before I have to clean my fridge. I've been putting that off for (I'm ashamed to say it) a month. As a reward I'm hitting the farmer's market later for fresh produce to fill my fresh clean fridge!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cheap Date Wednesday: Dining Out For Life

Ok, Ok. It's not THAT cheap this Wednesday. I guess it kind of depends on what your restaurant tastes are! Cheap or pricey, I wanted to alert those of you in major cities that this Thursday - as in, tomorrow - is Dining Out For Life night. It's a night when participating restaurants donate 25% of your dinner bill to a local AIDS awareness or research group.
You can check out this map to see if your city participates, plus learn more about DOFL. Here in New Orleans we can pick from these restaurants, and the proceeds benefit the NO/AIDS foundation.
The husband and I might go to The Flaming Torch, which is delicious and a SECRET so don't tell anyone or it might start becoming difficult to get a table. Doesn't the shrimp cocktail look yummy?
Why you should participate this Thursday:
1. Hello, it involves eating good food. Easy choice.
2. Proceeds stay local to help YOUR city's HIV+ population.
3. It's sponsored by Open Table; you can make your reservations online for most participating restaurants and earn points (FYI it will take you approximately a million years to get enough points for any kind of deal or reward, unless you eat every single meal out. Oh well, it's still convenient).
4. AIDS service organizations fill in the gaps that health care providers leave. I can dispense your HIV meds and counsel you on the correct dose, but I can't give you a ride to your next doctor's appointment.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Brother

For the past 4 years David and I have been babysitting my brother Nate while he earned his bachelor's (actually, bachelors - he double majored!) at Loyola University - one of the universities right near our house. He graduated this Spring and will be moving on to graduate school in Pennsylvania.
With Nate gone, David and I were worried about empty nest syndrome. Who would call us at 8 am when his car broke down and he needed a ride to class? Who would call at 6 pm when his car broke down and he needed a ride to work? Who would call at 10 pm when his car broke down and he needed someone to show him how to change the oil? Who would call at 6 am when his car broke down and he needed help duct-taping the bumper back on? (Are you noticing a pattern here?).
Luckily, the nest won't be empty long. I just found out that Abe, the running brother, got a combination of academic and athletic (duh) scholarships at Loyola that he couldn't pass up. So he'll be out neighbor!
I'm looking forward to having Abe around. I love Nate, but he was TROUBLE. He called me to question the expiration of foodstuffs on a regular basis ("This sour cream says it expired last week, but it smells ok, but there's pink goop around the edge. Is it ok to eat?). His car broke a lot because...he's kind of a disorganized slob and honestly he doesn't take care of his belongings. He's brilliant, but he's a double English Lit and Philosophy guy, so he talks a lot and you can never win an argument. He came over to watch the Superbowl and brought Plato along to read during commercials. And he had the convenient habit of appearing at dinnertime or at our restaurant of choice just as we sat down. We'll miss you, Nate, all the same!
Abe, quite unlike Nate, is a neat-freak but impeccably polite and reliable. He is king of on-time, emperor of the thank you note, president of easy conversation. He is clean, organized, and quiet. He's like a grown-up (oh, wait, he's going to college. He is grown-up!).
So now Abe is filling Nate's shoes. My first order of business? Get that kid to teach me how to run fast! And speed my marathon up!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Work Drama - Resolved!

To recap my work drama, one of my techs was stealing controlled drugs from the pharmacy. We had started keeping count, and my count one morning pinpointed the tech who had closed the night before. I was worried that I was falsely accusing someone - see, the tech (I'll use her initials, RR), was well-liked and a hard-worker. She was outgoing and friendly and generally dependable. I didn't want to believe it could be her! But when I called the shortage in to the Loss Prevention office at corporate I suggested they review the tapes. The cameras don't normally point to the shelf location where the drugs that were stolen were placed, but I though it might just be in range. It was. The tape showed RR asking the pharmacist to help someone, then - after a furtive glance around - snatching two bottles of drugs as the pharmacist was preoccupied. With proof on tape, all we had to do was quietly arrest her.
Of course, I ended up being the one who had to be there for the arrest. One of our pharmacists had worked with her for years and considered her a friend; she was deeply hurt and upset and asked to switch shifts with me so she wouldn't have to be there. I couldn't tell her no, but let me tell you - that was a rough night. Of course I called in coverage for her - another technician who could work her shift - but then they both showed up at the same time and wondered why we had two people working! I made up some silly fib - I was sure RR would suspect - but luckily just then the DEA showed up.
I've been present for many, many arrests in the pharmacy, but most are forgeries - never my own tech. I swear, between the sheriff, the DEA, and corporate officers there were twenty people in my little pharmacy! And FYI, plain clothes DEA guys? You stick out like a sore thumb. You are so obvious it's cute.
Well, they led RR away and took a statement and ended up being there for several hours. Much of the time was spent asking me to price drugs, since her charges were based on the cost of the theft. But the whole evening I could hear her softly crying in the next room. NOT FUN.
But it is fun knowing that we're thief-free now. Work would be perfect if I could just get my customers to stop abducting their ex-girlfriends from the store, right?

I'll be back!

I was SUPPOSED to post a Foody Friday about shopping at health food stores and Whole Foods without breaking the bank. But I had a rough long run in the heat on Thursday and lost so many electrolytes that I spent Friday trying to get my blood pressure up (seriously). I have to find a solution to this before I literally die on my run. Every time I stood up on Friday I started to pass out and I found myself doing silly things like licking the salt of pretzels, then throwing them away (or putting them back in the bag. Don't tell hubby. J/K).
Anyway, Friday was totally disposable thanks to that, and Lord help ya if I filled your prescription that day.
I decided to save Foody Friday until Friday, because I think it's high time I caught everyone up on the drama at work. By the way, we have new drama now: someone was abducted out of our parking lot on Friday. I feel like I work in a war zone!
So more on work drama later. See ya after six!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Little Family History, part II

Yesterday I shared some background information on the Armenian side of my family. Actually really I just shared general information about Armenia, not family-specific information. One of the reasons why I shared limited family history is that I don't know very much about my relatives and ancestors. There are several factors that contribute to this: distance, communication barriers, elderly relatives, and a hesitancy to talk about the genocide. The biggest reason for the lack of communication is family issues, though. My mother has never been good about keeping in contact with her family, and I think somewhere along the line there were some fights, arguments, disagreements...the kind of silly things that keep families apart. So while I actually have cousins my age on my mother's side of the family, I've only met them once or twice. Years and years have passed since I saw most of my relatives. Since I was just a kid the last time I saw them, resuming communication has been a challenge: I don't have their phone numbers, email addresses, etc., and actually I realized that half the time I don't even have their surnames. Needless to say this kind of situation makes it really hard to research your family history! But for some reason last weekend I decided to see if I could hunt down information on my great-grandparents entry into the United States. I was trying to search Ellis Island records when I realized that I didn't know my great-grandmother's maiden name. I tried searching for my great-grandfather instead, but I couldn't remember his first name. He "Americanized" his name after living in the states for a few years, and I did not know the Armenian version. I ended up attempting a series of search engine searches, hoping to find obituaries or census records that listed birth names. I did find a few records, which were unhelpful, but several pages into one search I saw a result with a few of the first names I'd searched for highlighted. It looked like a genocide history, so I clicked on it. I read it with interest - it was the story of how two family, the writers parents' families, escaped the genocide and came to the United States. As I read, I started to recognize little portions of the story..."Wait, her family were bakers? My family had a bakery, too" or "Rebecca - that's my great-grandmother's name". I started to suspect that the history was about my own family, yet I could not identify the writer. It was written by someone named Ann, and it was from the perspective of my grandmother or a great aunt. But I knew I didn't have a great-aunt named Ann. Finally I Googled the author's name to find the main page of her website, since the link I clicked didn't have a link back to the main site. When I opened the page the first thing I saw was a list of my cousins' names in an acknowledgment section! As I read the website I discovered that this website is owned by my great-aunt, whom we referred to by a nickname. It turns out that when she began writing and publishing her work she adopted the nom de plume of Ann, since it was much easier to pronounce than her given name or her nickname.
I read my family history in fascination, and skimmed some of my aunt's work as well. What a find!
Things I learned about my family that I never knew:
- Both my great-grandparents were artists and enjoyed oil painting. I am now persuaded that artistic talent is genetic: every one of the kids in my family could draw before they could talk.
- My Aunt Anahid ("Ann") is an author. When we were little I remember visiting their farm in Connecticut and being amazed that my cousins had ponies that their grandmother kept for them. I recall a beautiful grape arbor and being served lamb chops and garden beets while classical music played. But I didn't know that Aunt Anahid was an author, and no one ever told me.
- My aunt and her husband are active, political Armenians...they're the ones who want restitution from Turkey!
- My great-grandmother's side of the family left the Armenian Apostolic Church and became Lutherans (this is extremely unusual for Armenians and was more remarkable in the early 1900's when it occurred), yet I recall my mother and grandmother both attended the Armenian church growing up.
- My great-grandparents were both well-educated, artistic, politically active, and intelligent, yet my great-grandfather came from a life of poverty (my great-grandmother, on the other hand, was very wealthy as a child and spent much of her adulthood bemoaning the fact that she now had to work! I remember when I was a little kid and we were all visiting my grandma and I was making the bed. Great-grandma was shocked and told my mother to hire servants so we wouldn't have to do the "hard work"!).
You can read my family's brief history here, and you can read more of Aunt Anahid's writings here.
I'm so excited to finally have a link to my family, and a little more information about them. Now that I have an email address for my great-aunt, I'd love to write to her. But I'm afraid it will rock the family boat. Still...she's probably near 80 or older and I don't want to regret keeping silent later. Plus, my hubby pointed out that I shouldn't perpetuate this non-communication that seems to be the hallmark of my family!

Image from here. It's not a relative but I'd like to imagine that's what my great-great-grandmothers looked like. Actually that link also takes you to a hysterical article which states: "ARMENIAN WOMAN. A good illustration of the Armenian type. The head-dress is that usually found in the Caucasus. The Armenian women, as a rule, are fine looking, with intelligent faces and womanly bearing. This is especially noticeable in the case of old women. Among the oriental races, as a rule, the old women are not handsome, but the reverse is true of the Armenian women." Yes! I'm going to be a hot old-lady! Notice also that the writer refers to Armenians as oriental.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Little Family History, part I

Five years ago, if I told you I was Armenian, you'd probably give me a quizzical look. Or you'd start debating predestination with me (haha, as in Arminian vs. Calvinist? The two major schools of protestant belief? You got that pun, right?). These days, thanks to the Kardashians, you'd be more likely to surreptitiously glance at my booty to see if it really IS an Armenian thing (It is. We were making those jokes years before those lovely sisters came on the scene). I'm actually just half Armenian: my mom is Armenian, and like most Armenians in the United States, her family came over right before or during World War I. This is because that time period was the height of the Armenian genocide.
The genocide itself is a hot-button issue. Although Armenia had been subject to sporadic raids from the Turkish army for years, an all-out, kill women and children, ethnic cleansing type of attack should have garnered the notice of international powers. But it didn't: America was on the brink of a world war, and for some reason the genocide went largely ignored (although the New York Times tried to bring attention to the slaughter and actually still offers one of the best histories here). Current-day Armenians want other nations to recognize that it occurred; some more political types want an apology or restitution from Turkey. Turkey's government does not recognize the genocide and even speaking of it in Turkey is a crime. Many Turks, even in the US, deny that it occurred. Most governments, including the United States, will not use the word genocide for fear of losing Turkey as an ally. I don't get angry over the issue because I let bygones be bygones, but I did have a run-in with a Turkish optometrist once. I was at a check up when I was twelve and the optometrist, who was obviously Turkish by name and appearance, mentioned that my eyes looked "Persian" and was I Turkish? I said no, Armenian - not thinking this was a big deal - and he immediately stopped the exam, washed his hands, and left. I waited for half an hour until an assistant came in and told me that another doctor would finish my exam! However, since that time I've worked along side several Turkish doctors and we've gotten along beautifully.
Armenian history is fascinating. Historical Armenia is the land of Ararat, the landing place of the ark. Armenians don't speculate "if" the ark is up there. They talk about it confidently - and many claim to have seen it from afar. Some - including my extended family - have small pieces of petrified wood taken from the site. In ancient days, the Armenians had a system of gods still used commonly in Armenian names (I have 4 or 5 goddesses in my family). Some of these gods are borrowed from the Assyrians and Babylonians, who conquered Armenia - along with Israel and other nations - around 500 BC. That date is totally an estimate. After brief periods of time under the rule of the Greeks and Romans, Armenia gained independence. The nation has the distinction of being the first Christian nation - as early as 300 AD. Th Armenian apostolic church argues with the Coptic church about whose religion is older! Much of the history after this point is filled with fighting, as nations invaded the land. Armenia was rich in natural resources and (despite what they'll tell you) not exactly a great warring nation. It was more like a nation of farmers, shepherds, and vintners. Eventually Eastern Armenia came under the power of the Russian empire, while Western Armenia was constantly under duress from the Turks and the Ottoman empire. As the Ottoman empire waned, the genocide began, with its beginnings in a Turkish quest for wealth and spoils as their nation struggled economically.
The genocide was a horrible, terrifying thing, and I'd have to make this an adult-only blog if I included information. If you're interested, google it...but I am warning you, unsettling pictures and stories will appear. If you're a nightmare person I'd skip it!
The diaspora to safe nations resulted in large numbers of Armenians in the United States. Many arrived in California, which has some geographic similarities to Armenia, and large numbers settled in the Northeast.
Some interesting facts about Armenia:
- The nation adopted Christianity as the state religion years before Christianity was even LEGAL in Rome!
- Armenia is first mentioned in writings dating to around 3000 BC
- Armenian last names end in "ian" or "yan" depending on the choice of spelling; it means "son of".
- The Armenian alphabet is exquisitely phonetic and easy to use because it was invented around 400 AD to more accurately translate scripture. Before that time the nation used cuneiform methods. The alphabet was designed for ease of use and learning.
- Armenia is very mountainous, which lead to some of the earliest studies in astronomy and metallurgy (mining is still a big industry).
- In the course of wars Turkey now holds Mount Ararat, but the mountain is a symbol of Armenia.
- Some Armenians call themselves "Hayes" (pronounced hi) because Hayastan is Armenian for Armenia!
- Thanks to the diaspora, wars, and earthquakes, almost four times as many Armenians live outside of Armenia as in the country.
- Armenians are called "Caucasian" because the nation is in the "Caucasian mountains" - the term in this sense is used to denote location, not race (however, Armenians are considered Caucasian by race for census purposes although we share physical and genetic characteristics of many people groups, including eastern Europeans and middle easterners. This is debated and many Armenians don't consider themselves racially "white"!).
- Armenian is considered an Indo-European language, but it occupies its own branch on the language tree, so it does not have any related languages (however, modern speakers often use Turkish words).
- Besides the Kardashians and myself, famous Armenians include Andre Agassi, Princess Diana (she was 1/64th Armenian!), William Saroyan, the Zildjian family (ever seen that name on cymbals?) , and Jack Kevorkian (Dr. Death).

Where am I going with all this? A little discovery I made. But this post is already miles long so I'll finish this tomorrow!
And - not to pry, but - what's your family history and ethnic background?

Photo from National Geographic.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Yes, I really DID buy more shoes.

Last month, I bought some New Balance at TJ Maxx for $29. SCORE! I've worn them for a few runs, and I've come to the following conclusions:
1. I'm really fast in these shoes
2. There is not enough cushion for longer runs

I wore them on a 12-miler and could really feel the road by mile ten. They're also too narrow for my very wide feet, which became a problem about an hour after a run when pain would start shooting through my feet. So I decided to save these guys for races, and wear my Karhus for speed work and shorter runs.
However, I had to have new "long run" shoes because I'm down to the inside sole of my old Nikes. I ended up buying men's Saucony Triumph because they fit my wide feet the best. After two trial runs I really like them! They're heavier than my New Balance but super cushy and really roomy. Success at last! If I end up really liking these guys I'm going to buy ten pairs. Not kidding.
These are my fourth pair of shoes in 9 months...but now I own three basically brand new pairs.
How often do you buy running shoes? Do you wear more than one pair?

Happy 4th!

I hope you all enjoyed your fourth of July weekend. I didn't really get a holiday - I worked late Friday night and the holiday (Sunday); my time off on Saturday was spent at my nephew's first birthday party. Which was ridiculous. Seriously, the kiddo is ONE. This party was insane - millions of people, hundreds of balloons, tons of food. And of course, noisemakers. After a few hours my head was ready to explode and I was begging to go home!
But who cares what I thought. Did the birthday boy have fun?

Of course not, poor kid. He was miserable and stressed out! And tired! However, we got lots and lots of pictures of this cuteness so there were positive aspects as well. I'm just not a fan of big baby parties.
Now I'm off to work again, although hubby has off as a "late holiday". Work continues to be stressful but...well, more info later, but let's just say photographic evidence has taken some of the burden off me as a witness!
Later...I found some cool family history and, hee hee, I bought MORE running shoes. Four pairs in 9 months...ouch!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

I am distressed this evening. Very distressed. Today was a distressing day overall, what with it being the first of the month and all (a very busy day in the pharmacy). We were busy beyond belief, and I was exhausted thanks to a late night last night. But I stumbled on bad news that has me terribly upset. Since my first day at my new location, I knew we had a stealing problem. Loss Prevention had noticed that the on-hand counts of Xanax 2 mg* had been sneakily reduced several times - as if someone were stealing the drug, then decreasing our on-hand counts (the computer record of drug quantities on hand for inventory purposes). That way if anyone counted the drug for audit purposes it would look like the quantities were correct.
We've been checking the counts occasionally throughout the day, and this morning when I opened the count was off by two hundred.
That basically pin-points the tech who closed last night, since the night pharmacist counted the tablets right after the evening tech (who left at 8:30) clocked out. The only person with access would have been the night tech (who left at 10). UNLESS!
Unless the morning tech, who opened with me at 7 am, got to the tablets before I did. I'm 99% sure she didn't, because frankly I suspected her and made it a point to count them while she was still opening up and putting cash in the drawers. But because I'm not absolutely sure (Did someone come up and ask me a question and distract me? Is the tech clever enough to evade my notice - after all, the thief has been getting away with it for months? Do I remember EXACTLY who did what this morning?) I feel horrible about accusing someone.
Unfortunately it's not up to me. By state law we have to report this theft by tomorrow, and I already alerted Loss Prevention and the manager. Unless the DEA or state tells us differently, the plan is to monitor the surveillance video (we're installing a new camera that points directly at the shelf) and keep on counting.
I feel so miserable to be in this situation. I hate that I have to work with people I can't trust! In pharmacy, you totally have to get each others' backs. You work together very closely and you must, must, must be a team. I can't practice team work when one of my techs is robbing me blind behind my back!
* Xanax is a schedule-4 drug (a controlled substance) that is mostly used for anxiety; it is highly abused as a "downer" and in combo with other controlled substances. The 2 mg strength is the highest strength and much loved by druggies, who call them "Xan bars" (they're long bar shapes).