Expect the Worst & Hope for the Best



My dad once introduced me to someone as the biggest cynic he knew. I’m not sure that description really fits me, but I’ll take it. The title of this piece, “Expect the Worst & Hope for the Best,” is how I’ve often said I look at the world. I’m not sure that’s really an apt description either, but I think it comes closer. I guess I try to see people as they really are and expect them to act as themselves. I don’t “loan” any more than I can afford to never see again. And if I’m not repaid, then my relationship with that person won’t be harmed because I didn’t really expect to be repaid in the first place.

So what does that have to do with anything? Today, it’s just a reminder that we can take nothing for granted. People make mistakes. We need to be prepared for that eventuality.

Today, the pharmacist made a mistake with my medications. It wouldn’t have killed me. The difference was in dosage: 20 mg atorvastatin (aka Lipitor) when I have been prescribed 40 mg pills. I noticed the pills were smaller than I have been taking daily for nearly nine months now. They were still oblong and white, but when I did a comparison to the last of the pills left from my previous refill, the difference became clear. The size was not the only difference; there was also a number printed on one side: 123 vs. 122.

I called. I returned them. I came home with the right meds this time.

I’m concerned. I know mistakes happen, but if this happened to me, how many other people are getting the wrong medications and, not knowing what to look for, are taking something they shouldn’t be?

I don’t want anyone to be fired. I do hope the pharmacist takes the chance to review quality control procedures with the staff to prevent another, possibly more disastrous, mixup.

And I will remain vigilant, expecting the worst and double-checking everything.

Top, a 20 mg pill that came in my bottle labeled as 40 mg pills.

Top, a 20 mg tablet that came in my bottle labeled as 40 mg tablets. Bottom, my usual 40 mg tablet.


Rainy Sunday Ramblings


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First rain in the Bay Area in 2015 this weekend. We’ve been listening to wind howling and rattling the vertical blinds in the bedroom. Cappy keeps sitting by the glass doors to the backyard asking to go out. When the sun briefly came out and splintered into a flat rainbow – yes, flat, no arc, just lines of color across the sky and clouds – we let him taste the outside world for a minute. Nothing like watching a small black cat gingerly put a paw down, lift and shake it, quietly picking his way 10 feet out and racing back inside. He meowed at us, asking why we made him go outside.

I like rainy Sundays. We’ve got a fire roaring in the fireplace. John is keeping the music alive. We’re listening to George Harrison sing While My Guitar Gently Weeps right now. I just finished re-reading a short story, The Ramshead Algorithm, by KJ Kabza. It gets the imagination going. It’s firmly rooted in this world but opens up an infinite number of other worlds.

I’m also doing the mundane. I’m trying to regain what I’ve lost, so I’ve been rolling golf balls around in my left hand this afternoon. It seems ridiculous that I can’t grasp a receipt, clip my nails or manipulate money. I know I’m lucky. The strokes could have robbed me of so much more. Yes, strokes, multiple small cryptogenic embolic strokes. I’m still struggling with the fact of the strokes. I’m too young. I didn’t know I was having them when I was having them. The cryptogenic aspect means I don’t know why or how to prevent recurrence. There’s always a bit of fear in the back of my mind now. I don’t like living this way. I don’t know how not to. I have to find my own way through. Please don’t tell me you know what I need to do. You don’t know. It’s my body, my brain, my chemistry. I did not bring this on myself. Eating or not eating something won’t make me better. Shit happens.

And if you believe in God – any God – don’t waste your prayers on me. I don’t believe. That’s not a challenge. Just a statement of fact.

It’s still raining. I hope it rains for a while to come. In every life some rain must fall. The drought needs to be quenched.


Watching the World Cup


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What I know about football, soccer to us Americans, can be summed up thusly: A score of 3-1, like the final score of the Uruguay-Costa Rica game earlier today, is a high-scoring game.

Today, despite my lack of knowledge, I’m watching men of various nationalities running from one side of a field to another, facing off chest to chest when a kick goes awry and hits a shin, “injured” players crawling—yes, crawling—10 feet to get out of the scrum and rooting for Italy to beat England. Even if we didn’t have so much family in Italy (yes, I’ll give a nod to Spain for my cousins, too), I’d be rooting for Italy to beat England after that display of a scoring dance by an English player. I swear he’s been watching too much American football.

I miss good sportsmanship. Play to win. Yes. Play with passion. Yes. Play to destroy. No.

And please don’t injure the players in the celebratory scrum.

Note: My husband (who knows only slightly more about this sport than I do) informs me that “scrum” is a rugby term. Now I know. Thank you, love. What should I have said?

Smart, Mouthy Women


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20140414104238_00043A20140414104238_00023AI’ve been thinking a lot about family lately. We had a small family gathering/reunion a couple weeks ago. My dad’s siblings all came, along with spouses, a few of my cousins and my “little” brother.

Nancy, my Uncle Charles’s wife, had had hundreds of family photos scanned. Thank you, Nancy!

We spread the originals on coffee tables and pulled out a magnifying glass to examine the old photos. But we also went new tech and plugged a thumb drive into the TV. My dad argued with his brothers and sister about who was who and who wasn’t. We never could get them to agree on a few people, and those were the ones we could at least begin to guess who the people pictured were. Was that Dad or Uncle Charles? Was that really Grandpa? (Bonnie & Clyde!)

I now have nearly a thousand photos of people in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, family, but people I don’t know.

I know a handful of family names: Sims, Clenney, Freeze …

I can guess that we have more in common than I might want to admit. I was one of three oldest girls cousins at the gathering. We hadn’t seen each other in years. We couldn’t even identify the last time we three had been together. But we discovered in each other traits we recognize in ourselves. We are smart, mouthy women. We have quick tempers, but we will defend those who can’t defend themselves. We love intensely, passionately.

I bet that description fits a lot of the women in those photos. The photos show men and women in love, playful, stern. They show children, many, many baby pictures. Brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents. The photos show hard-working people. I don’t see evidence of riches, except in the family ties and traits we share.

I’m proud to be a part of this history, this family. I hope to identify these family members and learn our connections. 20140414104238_00003A 20140414104238_00005A 20140414104238_00011A 20140414104238_00026A 20140414104238_00036A  20140414111339_00006A 20140414111339_00002A

Good Help Is Hard to Find: EMS Workforce


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EMS Workforce Agenda for the Future in the Spotlight

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that demand for EMS practitioners will grow 33% by 2020, making EMS among the top 10 fastest growing jobs over the next 10 years.

The ability of an EMS system to deliver high-quality prehospital emergency care depends on a qualified and capable workforce. “Several years ago, members of the EMS community expressed concern about the state of the EMS workforce, especially with regard to recruitment and retention and worker safety and health,” says EMS Specialist Gamunu “Gam” Wijetunge, with the NHTSA Office of EMS.

So how does an EMS agency go about finding and hiring that workforce?

This is one of the freelance projects I was working on recently. Read more in the EMS Update newsletter.

Remembering the Heroes of 9/11



Thinking of Cecilia Lillo and Ginny Quinn today. Carlos and Ricardo are among the heroes of 9/11. We won’t forget.


Three hundred and forty-three FDNY firefighters and officers died in the line of duty on Sept. 11 while responding to the World Trade Center attacks. Carlos Lillo and Ricardo Quinn were the two FDNY paramedics who died when the South Tower collapsed.

I will never forget you!

According to Buddha …

A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another, the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another, it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden. If discord arises within one’s family, one should not blame others but should examine one’s own mind and follow a right path.
—The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender’s Craft
by Gary Regan

Yes, I get my philosophy from drinking books!

Sunday Review


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I like Sundays. Sundays are for sleeping late, a big cup of coffee, CBS Sunday Morning, the farmers market, music, baseball, a cat playing nearby, my husband reading in the chair next to me and a good book. Today’s book was Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I like Gaiman’s way with words.

“There was still a monster in my house, … The dread had not left my soul. But there was a kitten on my pillow, and it was purring in my face and vibrating gently with every purr, and very soon, I slept.”

To tell you what this book is about would do it an injustice. It’s a story with depth beyond any synopsis I might give. In this book, you look inside the soul of a person, remembering, living. It must be read. I will read it again.

And again.

And again.