Category Archives: work

Code What?

Since I moved to North Dakota I have worked at two places: A hospital and a community mental health center.   Both had Code announcements over the loudspeaker system that let you know that there was trouble or alerted you to an issue. Code Blue, at the hospital, meant that someone was in cardiac arrest. Code Brown at both facilities meant that there is a tornado coming and you should take shelter. Code Black means there is a bomb threat.

My current agency is redoing its Codes to align with those of other State agencies. One of my coworkers suggested that we should have a Code S (sleep), which would mean that we should all take 20 minute naps. I suggested that we should have Code Orange, which means that 45 is coming for a photo op and that we should all hide.

Please come up with some creative Codes to alert people to things they should know about.


Rez Cars Explained

Last week was a very trying one for us, as Husband’s truck froze in the extreme cold up on the Indian reservation and wouldn’t start. It was -36  with -45 windchill Thursday  night.  He planned to come home Friday morning, but there was no way that truck would start in such cold.

Husband  works in the main town on the reservation, where Tribal headquarters and the biggest school and the  medical services are. There are two much larger towns, Minot and Williston, about 70 and 80 miles away respectively, which  are not on the reservation and offer all necessary services. Minot even has a  university.  There are also smaller,  non-reservation towns within 30-50 miles that also have a wide variety of services.

After unsuccessfully trying to get the truck started, and even putting in a new battery with the help of a friend who works in Tribal maintenance and who has a degree in car mechanics, Husband phoned the number for road side service affiliated with our car insurance.  The nice insurance person in Tennessee regretfully informed him that after phoning every tow service in the region, none would take the job.  No one wanted to drive to the reservation. There is no tow service in the reservation town.  There is no auto repair shop, either.

Our friend helped Husband get an electric magnetic heater, like a heating pad but really hot, to place under the hood.  They plugged it into an outside outlet where  Husband stays.  Husband got some nasty frostbite on his pointer fingers while getting it all set up. The heater sat on the engine block all day. I drove up to the reservation later in the afternoon on Friday. It was after I arrived that Husband and friend  discovered that the outlet on the outside of Husband’s place didn’t work, so the heater hadn’t heated up at all.  Once they switched it to another outlet it started working.

Since we weren’t sure that the heater would work and unfreeze the engine, and since it was evening, Husband and I drove the 90 miles back home through oil field traffic.   A few hours later our friend and his wife phoned to say the truck started. They drove it to their place and got up at intervals in the night to start it and their vehicles as well.  We drove back to the reservation on Saturday morning and retrieved the truck and drove home again, this time through snow.

I always wondered why the Native Americans  we know have so many vehicles in various states of disrepair.  Now I know. When you have no auto repair shop, you have to fix them yourself, and when you find one that works and is easy to fix, you keep driving it, no matter how junky it looks.  You also rely on friends and family to help with rides or loan you a vehicle that works. If you can’t fix your vehicles you leave them where they are since no one will come and tow them away.  We are eternally grateful to our maintenance friends, and offered to till their garden in the Spring with our big tiller.  They accepted the offer. It is all a part of helping each other out.

What have you learned about lately? What are some mysteries you would like solved?

Lost & Found

On Wednesday I ran three errands over my lunch hour. When I got back to my desk, my cell phone was not in the pocket of my purse where I normally keep it.  My very first thought was that I had left it at one of the errand locations.  But then I thought about it and remembered that I hadn’t taken it out of my purse at any of those places.

Maybe it had fallen out of my purse in the car or on the way from my desk to the car. I went out, searched all through the car, including moving the seats forward and back to check underneath.  Then I looked again.  I emptied out my purse twice.

Then I decided to re-trace all my steps and drove back to all three of the places I had been over lunch. Weirdly, in all three places, the same spot I had parked in earlier was open when I arrived.  I looked in the spots, looked under the cars on either side, went into each establishment and asked if anyone had turned a phone in.  Nope.

Sadly I returned to my cube and over the next half hour discovered that my phone did not have any tracking capability turned on and then further discovered that for my particular phone there didn’t even seem to BE any tracking capability. I took a deep breath and suspended service and then called the phone company to see if perhaps they could track it from there end.  All the while the cost of getting a new phone was running through my head and I was starting to make a mental list of all the information stored in the phone and how I was going to have to re-assemble it somehow.

While I was on the phone I thought I’d empty out the purse one last time. As I set the empty purse down on the desk, it “thunked”.  I felt around and could feel the outline of the phone at the bottom.  It was between the purse and the lining!  The pocket that I normally put it in had a phone-sized hole and the phone had fallen through.  The gal on the phone with me was really nice to me, reactivated my service and wished me a good rest of the day.   I was so relieved, I could feel the weight falling away from shoulders – I almost shed a tear.

I got duct tape from the maintenance department and taped up the hole before I left the office.

What was the last thing you lost? Or found?

Gussied Up

Rhiannon got brushed and clipped this week for a visit to my office. Several years ago my company began to observe “Take Your Dog to Work Day” in June.  Well-behaved dogs are invited to the office and we have “Yappy Hour” on the front lawn.  Since then the program has expanded.  Throughout the summer, every Friday is dog-friendly and then there are random pop up days announced; today is one of those days.

Bringing both dogs is just too much for me (and my small cube) and YA’s dog isn’t as user-friendly as my old pup, so it will only be Rhiannon today.  Her cushion will come to the office as well as a water bowl and a Tupperware of treats.  It’s pretty exhausting for her, so she’ll only stay half a day and I’ll take her home at lunch time.  Even though it’s tiring, she seems to really enjoy it, especially the ride in the car!

You’re the boss. Budget isn’t an issue.  What perk would you like to offer your employees?

Cubicle Christmas

We’ve been getting things back from our desks that have been salvaged and cleaned after the big fire. Boxes of items have been delivered to us and everywhere people are unwrapping items and exclaiming over surprises.  I’ve gotten quite a bit back that I figured I would never see again.  My CD player, my mug warmer, all YA’s photos, and gymnastic magnets, my beaded warthog and my little fan.  Today I got the little plastic panic and eject buttons that I had pasted onto my monitor.  It’s like Christmas all over again!

So, to celebrate – a little cubical haiku.

the big office fire
scorched all my accessories
only buttons left

What was your last little surprise? Extra points for haiku.

Arithmetic Assault

Decades ago I knew all of my friends’ phone numbers by heart. I knew almost everybody’s address that I sent mail to on a regular basis.  I knew my multiplication tables.

Over the years, most addresses have faded since I have them written in my day planner as well as on a spreadsheet. I recognize them when I write them out on envelopes, but that’s about it.  If a pixie got into my planner and re-arranged the house numbers, I probably wouldn’t know.

My cell phone has helped to alleviate the trouble of remembering my friends’ phone numbers well.  As people have added cell phones to their lives and dropped land lines, I have added their new numbers to my phone’s contact list but I have never memorized any of them.  With the exception of my BFF and YA, I don’t think I know anybody’s number by heart any more.

But the cruelest blow happened this morning. I was working on a program and deciding on how many beach towels we needed to order.  Without much thought at all, I entered 64 into the calculator on my desk and then hit “divide” by 2.  To get 32.  As soon as I did it, I realized what I had done. I used a machine to divide 64 by 2. This is horrifying to me.  Not that I’m worried about my ability to figure this out on my own, but that I would automatically go to a machine if I needed to do arithmetic.  Ouch.

My new practice starting tomorrow is to not turn on the calculator until I actually need it.

What technology has crept up on you?

High on Sprouts

Today’s post comes to us from our own Crystal Bay.

In the early days of Animal Fair, Dad had to hire six women from the community to make his animals on six sewing machines. As they gained popularity, he moved into the old Tonka Toy building, then to Chanhassen, Animal Fairs final resting place.

Most of the early business was solely dependent upon large companies seeking promos for their products. Such was the case with Jolly Green Giant. He designed a little facsimile of the giant in their ads, appropriately named “Sprout”. They were really cute little guys and everyone loved them.

This corporation immediately put in an order 10 times the ability of Dad to produce at that time. In desperation, he corralled every extended family member and anyone in the community to help fill this huge order. I was just one of many. We worked every weekend and night. His business depended upon delivering the promise goods.

My job was to glue noses on each of these Sprouts. Unfortunately, I did so with airplane glue. Every time I worked there, I walked out higher than a kite. No one understood my bizarre behavior at the time. Not even me. I later wondered if this explained my unusual behavior as an adult.

We did end up getting the order filled and it saved his ram shackle business.

How do you do with deadlines?