Category Archives: work

Getting Deposed

I am being deposed. No, I don’t mean thrown out of office or my job. I mean that I will be soon sitting in a room at a court house with four lawyers, their assistants, and a court reporter. I have been subpoenaed as an expert witness in a case  related  to my work.  Three of the lawyers will ask me questions. One will try to discredit me and my testimony, while the other two will like what I have to say.  The fourth lawyer is sent from the Attorney General’s office, since I am a State employee,  to help me out if needed.

My lawyer from the AG’s office is a very nice man who sent me a list of helpful hints for giving testimony and  who will  provide all the documents that I was ordered to bring to the hearing. I have testified in court many times before and have given at least one deposition, but it was nice to talk it over with him.  I am not a difficult witness, and I know how to behave on the stand. This made me think, though, what a thankless task it will be for the poor lawyer or lawyers who will prepare 45 for giving testimony and answering questions on the stand.  I can’t imagine it will be pretty.

Have you ever had to testify in court? Imagine you are a lawyer.  Think of some historical or literary characters and tell us how you would prepare them to testify in court. 

Work Friends

Last week was pretty dull for me at work, as two of my favorite floor mates were gone, one to Montana, and one to California.  They are Developmental Disability Case managers, and I have worked with them for 20 years. We tease, laugh, and help each other out. We only see each other at work.  Work is mere drudgery without them. We are all set to retire about the same time, and imagine ourselves waltzing out the door on our last day like Dorothy, the Scare Crow, and the Tin Man.

Tell about your best work buddies. What made them special?

The Strangest Thing I Ever Did See

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

I’ve lived long enough to see some remarkable things. Because I’ve spent so much time outdoors, most of my memorable experiences happened there. That can be frustrating. It is difficult—possibly impossible—to describe experiences to people whose life experiences don’t include much time outdoors. If you’ve never stood deep in a cattail marsh that is backlit by a low November sun . . . well, if you’ve never been there, I probably can’t make you understand what it is like.

Yet I can describe two of the most astonishing things I’ve ever seen. I’ve researched both of these experiences on the internet. Because they were  “rare” events, there isn’t a lot of documentation for them. By definition, rare events don’t happen often! I’ve confirmed that both of these events happen now and then. That gives me the comfort of knowing that my memories could be correct.

The first experience was an incredibly vivid aurora borealis display. We witnessed this show in June of 1973. My erstwife and I were living in the basement of a fly fishing tackle shop near Brule, Wisconsin. Brule is far removed from the bright lights that prevent most people from enjoying the night sky. While Brule isn’t as far north as some towns in Minnesota, it lies close enough to the Arctic Circle to offer frequent aurora displays.

This particular aurora was stunning. Every other Northern Lights display I’ve seen was isolated in a particular section of the sky, usually near the northern horizon. This display, by contrast, seemed centered directly overhead. It filled the sky, encircling us with excited light. Although this description belies the majesty of that aurora display, I’ve always compared that amazing display as a “Jello mold” that surrounded us with shafts of neon light. Imagine entering a snow globe and being totally enveloped in its beauty. It was like that.

Apparently, auroras like that one have the un-poetic name of “overhead displays.” Such displays do happen, but almost always in Arctic regions. That aurora was both intense and persistent. We wandered around for nearly an hour, heads tipped toward the heavens and our mouths open with astonishment, while the whole night sky rippled in every direction around us.

The other amazing sight happened just a year later, in June of 1974, in downtown Duluth. We were driving in a southwest direction on what used to be the main thoroughfare in the city (before the freeway was built through town). Humidity levels had been extremely high that day. A thunderstorm erupted, as heavy as any rainstorm I’ve experienced. Rain hammered down in sheets that reduced visibility to a few yards. Rivers of rain flowed down the street because the culverts could not accommodate that much water at once.

I glanced left as we descended a steep hill. Just as we passed, a manhole cover exploded and went spinning high in the air. Manhole covers weigh from 200 to 250 pounds. They don’t, as a general thing, go flying. But a sudden surge of rainwater in city sewers can build up enough pressure to blow them. About a block or two later, a second manhole lid blew and went flying as we drove past it. Both eruptions catapulted manhole covers skyward like cast iron tiddlywinks.

I recently checked the internet for confirmation of this. It is apparently common for water pressure to build up under a manhole cover, but the usual result is that the cover will flop up and down or “dance.” The internet offers several examples caught on video film. When a cover blows, it rarely goes high. That leads me to wonder if those two covers in Duluth sailed as high as I remember. Maybe the fact we were on a steep hill caused a torrent of water to suddenly explode under those two covers. I guess I’ll never know.

Have you seen something so astonishing you’ll never forget it?

Blessed Relief

My typical work day consists of seeing clients in therapy, doing formal psychological testing, consulting with other staff, going to meetings, doing paperwork, writing reports, answering and sending work-related emails, and taking care of whatever else my work place might throw at me.

In the midst of all this, I keep tabs on what is happening on my phone and my private laptop that I also have at work.  (I also check the  Blog for activity). My children and Husband are frequent texters. The main job for my private laptop is to provide Bluetooth connections to my sound bar so that I can listen to Classical MPR whenever I have a free moment while I do paperwork.

Throughout the day I also keep track of all the emails I get from the Regulatory Board of which I am the chair.  I can’t deal with the emails that arise when I am working, since that would be frowned upon, even though what I do on the Board is officially State business, and I am a State employee.  I understand the reasoning for this.

I typically get 10-20 emails from the Regulatory Board office each day.  I take care of them in the evening when I get home from work. There was a flurry of activity this morning, and then, blessed quiet this afternoon. I figured out that our Board secretary is taking a four day weekend to go camping.  What a relief!

I wish I were not so tied to my technology. As I read what I just wrote, I can’t believe I do all the things I just described. This just can’t be healthy!

How tied are you to technology? How do you set limits on it and on yourself?

Being In The Right Place

I had a really interesting evaluation question to answer some time ago. It involved helping a psychiatrist with a diagnosis that she just wasn’t certain about.  The possible diagnostic alternatives were serious, one more so than the other.

I took an extensive history from the accompanying family member,  gave the client in question a series of tests, and came up with an alternative diagnosis that the psychiatrist hadn’t considered.  I am still waiting for testing to come back from family members and will then let the psychiatrist know what I am thinking in terms of diagnoses, and  what further steps the she needs to take with this client.

It was during the process of doing this evaluation that I got an exhilarating  sense that I absolutely loved what I was doing and was absolutely in the right place to be doing it. I don’t often get that feeling, but it is was nice when it happens.

What have been the times you got the feeling that you were absolutely in the right place, job, or relationship?

What About Cousins?

I live pretty equidistant from about three Indian reservations in three different states.  I sometimes see tribal members  at my community mental health agency.  Part of doing my work is getting a good family history.  I have noticed, over 30 years of practice,  distinct differences in how tribal members and everyone who is not a tribal member describes family relationships.  For my tribal clients, there are any number of aunties, uncles,  sisters, and brothers who are important in their lives. They  just don’t match how I, in my eurocentric  orientation, define family.

A good friend of our, a person who is an Arikara Indian,  one of the Three Affiliated Tribes from the Fort Berthold Reservation where Husband works,  posted on Facebook recently a way to navigate these family relationships.

This apparently comes from some sort of Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa tribal handbook. Here is how you navigate relationships. for boys. Girls are pretty much the same.

Who is my mother?

  1. My birth mother.
  2. .My mother’s sister
  3. My father’s brother’s wife
  4. My clan father’s wives (My father’s clan brothers)

Who is my father? 

  1. My birth father
  2. My father’s brothers
  3. My sister’s husband
  4. My father’s mother’s brother
  5. My clan fathers (My father’s clan brothers)
  6. My father’s sister’s son

Who is my sister?

  1. My blood sister
  2. My father’s brother’s daughter
  3. My sister’s daughters
  4. My female clan members (My mother’s clan)
  5. Female children of my father’s clan
  6. My mother’s sister’s daughter

Who is my brother?

  1. My blood brothers
  2. My father’s brother’s sons
  3. My sister’s son’s
  4. My mother’s sisters’ sons
  5. My clan male mothers
  6. Male children of my fathers’ clan
  7. My mother’s brother
  8. My mother’s mother’s brother

Who is my auntie?

  1. My father’s sisters
  2.  My father’s sister’s daughter-each generation
  3. My clan aunts (My father’s clan sisters)

Who is my grandmother?

  1. My mother’s mother
  2. My mother’s mother’s sister (Grandmother’s sister)
  3. My father’s mother
  4. My father’s mother’s sister
  5. My mother’s father’s sister-each generation

I notice that great uncles, great aunts, and cousins are defined differently here.  I also find that if I use this to define my family relationships, I have a lot more siblings, parents, and aunts and uncles. That is kind of comforting.

How do you define family? How would your definition change given the above information? 


Dog Days

I’m not getting much done at work today. During the summer, every Friday is “Bring Your Dog to Work Day” and I am in dog heaven.  I keep dog treats in my cube and on Fridays, I actually have a stash in my pocket throughout the day.

Today in addition to Charlie and Bernie Mac and Vegas (GoldenDoodle, Puggle, Doberman) who are here most Fridays, we have a brand new puppy. 8-week old Dave Grohl (name of somebody in some band that I don’t know about), a golden retriever.  He has the wonderful puppy smell and that squishy soft puppy skin.

Rufus, Mochi, Brandon and Ash are off today but I’ve petted (and fed) a couple of others, whose names I don’t know, as they travel through the building. I’m on a main aisle and I think the dogs can smell the treats in my pocket as they’re going by so they stop by!

What perk would make your Fridays better?