Monday, February 27, 2012


I did my happy dance at the post office again. Why? Well, I got me a postcard. Duh. 
This one came from "Speed Demon", who used to be a co-worker of mine at my old job. She's definitely one of the people I miss seeing every day. She has also since left that company for very good reasons of her own and is now joining the mob of people looking for jobs. I wish her all the best in her search! Plus, she commented on my Donkey Basketball video on Facebook with "I miss your laugh" after hearing my laughing on the recording. Which makes her pretty cool. 
Now I need to announce here who the next sender is for March:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Donkey Basketball

I kid you not, folks. I. Kid. You. Not. This truly exists.

Last Friday I was sitting on the couch playing some horrifically stupid yet addicting Facebook game around 4:30 p.m., when I got a text from our new vet, Dr. A saying, "are you going to donkey basketball at the school tonight? we are coming over and then having dinner if you're interested."

I kind of just stared at my phone for a minute. Donkey Basketball?! WTF? Are the donkey's playing basketball? Are people playing basketball on donkey's? Is it real donkey's??

So I sent a text back saying, "donkey basketball?! never heard of it!"

She replied with, "ffa fundraiser at 6:30."

Of course I replied with "see you there." I mean, who would not go and witness a possible total absurdity. It's not like you'd see something like this in the big city.

I drove to the high school (whose initials are SV which totally works for my made up town of Sticksville!) at 6:30 which is just a few blocks from my house and drove by it to find parking and saw a line out the gym door. There wasn't a place to park for three blocks in some cases. I found one about a block away. I paid my $9 to get in and found Dr. A and her friend L. A couple other gals from work were also there, E and C. Oh, and for those of you who are unaware, FFA stands for Future Farmers of America; it starts in high school and there's also a collegiate form as well, promoting ag education and all that jazz.

The gym was full. They had to set up folding chairs on the small stage for people because the bleachers were full. And there were still people standing. Evidently, this is quite the popular event, but I don't think it's necessarily advertised very well. I guess this happens every year, a basketball game between girls/boys varsity and the faculty and it's an FFA fundraiser.

The basic rules were thus: One person from each team was in the center circle - they had to keep at least one foot in it at all times. A player could get off the donkey to get the ball, but had to take their donkey with them (which is much harder than one thinks, trust me). To shoot the ball the player had to mounted on their donkey.

And then it happened. A side door opened and in trotted donkey's with high school kids and faculty. And thus the laughter began. And continued until the game was over. I laughed so hard I cried.


Oh and you bet your blogging asses I took video. Even though my phone battery was dying, I totally took video. Unfortunately, you'll hear me and L laughing our butts off (okay, so it's probably mostly me). And don't worry, the donkey's had rubber cushions attached to their hooves so they couldn't slip on the gym floor. This first one is mostly the warm-up lap.

Now, this second video will feature a, um, "cheerleader". In fact, in the first half of the game, he was part of the pooper-scooper team (one carried a shovel, and the other carried a broom to sweep the gym apples and they wore ponchos and sombreros. I'm so not kidding. The second half was a bit wilder than the first . . . in the sense that the antics from the folks in the center circle, as the pushing got a bit rougher, and then cheerleader guy started trying to mess with the faculty guy in the center, so that the students would win the game.

In the end, the students one, 24-22.

After laughing so hard my stomach and my face hurt and my face was also streaked from the tears of laughter, four of us went to dinner - myself, Dr. A, E and L. Where we laughed even more. I'm so proud of myself for having two social engagements last week. They are pretty much the only two I've had since I moved up here that were technically not work (i.e. cattle vet office) related. I had so much fun!

And I'm sooooo going again next year!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

100 Things That Make Me Happy: Part 3

I'm doing a series of posts of things that make me happy. If you missed previous posts on this, you can go here to catch up. And in no particular order, I continue!

#11. My nickname, Charlie Brown. My Granddad gave me that nickname as a baby, and for some odd reason, it stuck. He was a man I looked up to and loved so very dearly. Oddly enough, no one ever bought me anything Peanuts related until my high school boyfriend bought me a Charlie Brown miniature. It was like one of those "why didn't we think of that?" moments. I now have several small things that are Peanuts related, all thanks to my Granddad. Crap. Now I've gone and made myself cry.

#12. Bean dip. OHMYGOD. You cannot leave me alone with a can of that stuff. Because it will be gone.

#13. Care packages. Usually these are given to me by my parents. They are pretty random, but in late 2010, when I was having a monetary shortage, my parents showed up with a bunch of random things stuffed into a huge Costco bag. It included paper towels, Kleenex, 409, Spray & Wash, a box of microwave popcorn, a 36-count box of Diet Pepsi, and a pair of pajamas.

#14. Going to work every morning watching the sunrise. Each one is different, but they are always beautiful. It's a good way to start your work day.

#15. The fact that I no longer live in an apartment. I love not having to share a minimum of three sides with perfect strangers. I actually lived in this complex pictured, it was the last complex I lived in. By far the nicest, as well. As pretty as the grounds were, the apartments were still just that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's unanimous - worst position at work

Working in a vet clinic can be interesting, fun, and thoroughly annoying. How annoying can fully depend on your job duties. However, I think it's safe to say that the receptionist has the worst job in the vet clinic. Even the veterinarians agree - it's quite possibly the only position they'd never want to do. Not long ago, the weekday receptionists tore this article out of a vet magazine and it totally rings true.

The worst job in the hospital - on bad days, everybody's got it rough, but I say receptionists' duties take the prize. By Dr. Andrew Rollo

Here's a question for you: What is the one position in a veterinary hospital you would dread most of all?

Is it kennel attendant? I doubt it it - picking up stool is as mundane as picking up a penny on the sidewalk. And I wish I had time to walk dogs on my busy day.

What about the technician? They have to deal with with push and pull from the doctors, but their clinical and communication skills are used more and more by doctors to connect with clients as well as the pets that brought the technicians to the profession in the first place. 

For me, the one position that would send shivers down my spine if I was asked to fill in tomorrow would be receptionist.

Giving smiles on demand
No matter how bad the day is, receptionists must smile for every client who walks in the front door. They make sure the coffee is hot and the water is cold. They keep the floors vacuumed and make sure "presents" dropped in the waiting area are picked up almost before they hit the floor. They make sure invoices are correct and smile at the sarcastic comments clients make when they pay the bill. (If a receptionist got a dime for every time a client said, "A wing of this practice should be named after me for all the money I spend here" after paying a $68 bill, they'd have some heavy pockets.) They console grieving clients and walk them out the door. They deliver the bad news to doctors that they're behind schedule by a half-hour and then get asked, "How did we get so behind?"

Taking complaints for what they didn't do
Last but not least, the front-desk team has to answer the phone - all day long. When several lines ring at once, receptionists might as well be jugglers at the circus.

Some are easy calls, but many are complicated medical questions or angry tirades about something that the receptionist had nothing to do with and doesn't have the authority to fix. By the time the doctor takes an angry call, clients are less hostile because they've vented for so long. Many times a receptionist will let me know that Mrs. Smith needs to talk to me right away and to be careful because she's upset. When I pick up, I'm greeted with a surprisingly pleasant Mrs. Smith: "Well, hello, Dr. Rollo. I really appreciate your taking my call."

Working without a hiding place
Receptionists are on the front lines, there's no place to hide behind the reception desk. They have to smile and take on anyone who comes in - a difficult client, a needy sales rep, a good Samaritan who found an injured squirrel, or a job applicant who just won't leave. Theirs are the first faces clients see when they enter the hospital and the last when they leave. They take on the anger, the sorrow, and the sarcasm, and they are occasionally rewarded by the joy.

So the next time you find yourself upset by a receptionist for not scheduling appropriately or for missing a mistake on an invoice, think about her day. Think about what she has to deal with. And appreciate all that she does to help make your hospital function.

Now, this is a perfect article. And it doesn't just fit for veterinary office receptionists - it can be said of all receptionists - or any customer service position, really. We take the hardest hit. I haven't been cussed at a lot, but I remember being yelled at by someone when whatever they're yelling about had absolutely nothing to do with me. Or anything I did. I remember one guy chewed my ass, later chewed the technician's ass, and then went for the vet. It was a totally insane day, my lobby was full like a freaking mosh pit, the phone wouldn't stop ringing, we had emergencies, we were behind, and the vet simply told the guy, "I'm only one guy." The tech and the doctor got apologies. Me? Nothing. Once, when I'd only been there a few weeks, I got cussed at because some guy got a reminder for his cat's vaccinations. Evidently his cat had been euthanized the previous spring, yet the little box somewhere in the computer didn't get unchecked, so he still got a reminder. Therefore, even though this whole thing had happened well before I had even thought of moving up here, it was still my fault.

It's my fault people get left on hold too long because I'm busy on another line or a physical customer takes longer than I think. It's my fault people forget their appointments. It's my fault that I didn't know about their appointment because I didn't make it. It's my fault we can't squeeze someone's dog in for vaccines because we're double booked all day.

That's how many people make you feel. On occasion you do get those nice folks who are patient and are in no hurry. They thank you for your time and for checking on the little things even though your swamped. The tell you to enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Would you believe that just this past Wednesday (my birthday) that I come home after a nice dinner out to a message from some gal who somehow found my home phone? I don't even give out my home phone because I can't remember it. So here's the story. Two weeks ago, this gal (we can call her Betty), called on a Thursday morning at the clinic here in Sticksville saying that she'd forgotten to call the day before (when the vet was there) for her dog's monthly shot. I remind her that the vet isn't in town, and I can't give the shot. I told her I had some time available the next week, but she declined making an appointment. (she does this all the time, calls the morning the vet's there and insists she gets in that day). The next week we're booked yet I expected her call. I almost drew up the shot, even. But nothing. My grandparents took me to Town for a nice birthday dinner, and I got home around 8ish. I had a message on the machine, and my jaw dropped when I heard it. It was Betty, calling my home with this message, "Hi this is Betty. I got busy and forgot to get my dog in this morning for his shot. Is there any way the vet can do it tomorrow?"

I. was. floored. The audacity. I waited until I got to work the next morning, and then called her back and left a message on her phone, "Hi Betty, this is J at the vet clinic. I told you last week that the doctor is only over here on Wednesdays, so I can't do the shot for you. If you want or need it done this week, you'll need call the clinic in Town and make an appointment over there. Also, this is not something you need to be calling me at home for, so in the future, please call the office and leave a message and I will get back to you. If you have any questions, please call me back at the clinic, thanks."

I have yet to hear from her.

(UPDATE: She called today (Wednesday) at the clinic at 8:30 asking if she could just "come on in". I (on the verge of rudeness) said "no, I have the doctor in surgery until 10. Then I'm double booked. "Oh so I should wait an hour?" I so wanted to ask if there was something wrong with her hearing. But I didn't. I said, "No, I'm double booked. I would wait until at least 11." She did. She waited until 11. And I made her sit there for 20 minutes. Yes I'm evil. One day, I will make her understand that it's in her best interest to make an effing appointment. Also, she did not mention the message I left her. And I told Dr. J about the whole thing. He was a bit shocked she called my home as well.)

Now, don't go thinking I hate my job, because I don't. I enjoy my job. My doctors are awesome folk who love what they do. The techs are great girls and work hard. The two office managers bust their chops to make sure the billing gets done and the books are done, and that everyone gets what they ordered. And most of the clients are nice folks who understand that vet clinics get busy. They stand in line patiently over here in Sticksville while I manually write up receipts, answer phones and jump up to help the vet if he needs an extra hand. In town, people wait patiently while I have a line of people checking in and out, answer phones and field questions. As the vets say, we try to make each person feel like they are our only client of the day. Even though with a waiting room full of people and loud pets that it's blatantly obvious they aren't.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Agriculture is our wisest pursuit . . .

. . . because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness." Thomas Jefferson

I came across this article a couple weeks ago on Yahoo! about "useless degrees". Now, while many professions could be called "elite" or extremely hard to break into and make the fortune we all seek, I'm not quite sure any degree is completely useless. Although, I do think many thousands of jobless people may disagree with me at this point, and I don't blame them.

However, I take offense to three of these so-called "useless degrees", as they are agriculture related. How on earth did ag majors wind up on this list? Probably from some dingbat who lives in NYC and thinks a fairy delivers everything to the grocery store. 

Useless Degree #1: Just plain old "Agriculture".
Their reason? 

When schools such as the University of Idaho cut their agriculture programs, you know times are tough for this degree. The state has more than 25,000 farms, for cow's sake, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture census, in 2007.
Still, if your idea of a good day is getting up with the sun and working till it sets as an agricultural manager, a degree in agriculture might be your calling.
Just don't expect farms and ranches to be calling you, says Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., and author of "The 10 Best College Majors for Your Personality." "It's true that farms are becoming more efficient now and so there is less of a need for farm managers," he says. That means less jobs. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor projects 64,000 fewer jobs in this field over the next seven years.
Total Number of Agricultural Managers in 2008: 1,234,000
Projected Change in Number of Jobs 2008-2018: -64,600
Percent Change: -5

Okay, so I completely understand that this "Ag Manager" job is becoming a bit more scarce. But it's not like a degree guarantees you a job in your field, even if you're a business major. In this economy you'd be fortunate to get a job at McD's working the drive-thru. However, if your family in farming/ranching then this is a decent major. Even as a vague degree, this can be helpful in several situations - such as the world supposedly ending or beginning to end as of May 12 of this year. Who the hell is going to bring back farming if not for the ag majors? Who will feed you hungry city folk when the world goes to hell in a Gucci handbag? Yep, the ag majors, that's who.

"We used to be a nation of farmers, but now it's less than two percent of the population in the United States. So a lot of us don't know a lot about what it takes to grow food." - Judith Redmond, Fully Belly Farms

Useless Degree #2: "Animal Science"

Their reason?

Here's another degree aimed at a career that at first glance doesn't look all that discouraging. After all, animal scientist employment is projected by the U.S. Department of Labor to grow 13 percent from 2008 to 2018.
But crunch a few more numbers and you quickly realize that you could be in for stiff competition to grab a piece of that pie. Fewer than 5,000 animal scientist jobs are projected to exist in the field by 2018.
The problem, says Shatkin, is the degree is so specific that trying to apply it to anything else means a tough time convincing people it gives you any useful skills for jobs outside animal science jobs.
Total Number of Animal Scientists in 2008: 3,700
Projected Change in Number of Jobs 2008-2018: +500
Percent Change: +13

Again, useless? I take special offense as this was my major in college. My degree (as well as past job experience) gave me a leg up on my first job after college. It was a nice push for when I worked at Petco. Now granted my first "real" job at a vet lab wasn't my ideal job, but it was a job that technically utilized my major and my minor (biology). And it was a push to get my job at the vet clinic in Town. And even though I've basically forgotten everything in the 8 years since graduation (it's actually just filed deep in the back . . . ), I still have lecture notes and books to assist me in re-learning while I'm attempting ranching. Yep. Not exactly useless.

“The only difference between a pigeon and the American farmer today is that a pigeon can still make a deposit on a John Deere.” - Jim Hightower

Useless Degree #3: "Horticulture"

Their reason?

If you like the farm life but aren't all that keen on all the whining and clucking of an animal farm, perhaps a degree in horticulture is growing on you.
Unfortunately, the number of jobs in the field itself is not growing, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And Shatkin agrees. "Better than agriculture, but not by much. If you're lucky, you may find some way to apply that to a related business like food processing or production," he says.
Total Number of Farmers and Ranchers in 2008: 985,900
Projected Change in Number of Jobs 2008-2018:
Percent Change:

Okay, not much job growth, like the other two, but these (again) are the people you want to know when Armageddon hits and the world begins its end in May. These people are going to know plants and soil like it's nobody's business. Even as an Ag Major I had to take basic horticulture and soil classes - and they bored the hell outta me, therefore, I retained that plants require water and sunlight. So, I'm obviously not some poor city-dweller's ideal prospect for planting. But, it pays to know someone who majored in it, because they can assist with educating folks on how to properly grow crops - enough to feed the village and maybe some extra to appease the Gods or Aliens or even Zombies who are trying to kill people or even Earth.

“The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer.” - Will Rogers

(By the way, other useless degrees mentioned were Fashion Design and Theater. Now,  considering I can't stand 99.9% of the fashion trends out there, I would consider this a useless degree. But for the folks that live for fashion trends, this is obviously not a completely useless degree.)

Considering that farming and ranching feed the world, people should really stop knocking the industry. Especially since many who do the knocking haven't a clue what farms and ranches have to go through in order to put that food ultimately on your plates. It's not an easy life - it's not an easy job.

"Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands." - Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I have to work ON my birthday?

Dude, that sucks. Oh well. Another day, another dollar, right?

Which reminds me, I best be getting ready for work.

My parents have already called me. <3 

They gave me my present last weekend when they were here - I got Hugh Jackman baby. Um, I mean, in the form of Real Steel. And two new vet smocks.
Granny sent her present with them - a gift card to Barnes and Noble. I've already used it, and the books are on their way.

One of my long-time friends apparently sent me a birthday text at midnight. I was totally sound asleep (by 10pm).

I dreamed that I was sleuthing it with Veronica Mars. Don't remember the case . . . although my instincts tell me it ranks up there with the Star Trek themed dreams I had the two previous nights.

If I'm lucky, Dr. J will take me out to lunch today.

My grandparents are taking me out to dinner tonight.

And that will probably be the end of it.

I like to keep it simple.  ;o)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

100 Things That Make Me Happy: Part 2 (and a quick postcard announcement!)

Before I get to my post, I must announce the next sender of postcards! It will "Speed Demon". She doesn't have a blog, but she does follow me and is actually an old co-worker from my last job - one of the few people I actually miss!

I do apologize for things being a bit last minute the last couple months, but it has been difficult getting ahold of a few people. But never fear, Speed Demon will send them out this month!

Now, onto my post!

I'm compiling a list of things (in no particular order) that make me happy. For previous posts on this subject, please go here.

#6. Time with my best friend. Now that I live in Sticksville, USA, we are 8 hours apart - roughly. We talk on the phone when we can, and can easily waste two hours on the phone catching up. And then a week later get together and spend 6 hours, or even 10 hours just talking about everything. We are practically polar opposites but we "get" each other. And that's what truly counts. Even if I do think she's nuts for considering vegetarianism. But she's my favorite nut.  ;o)

Enjoying margaritas on a Mother's Day in my parents back yard.

Enjoying some time on the swings.

 In line at our first Tegan & Sara concert in Davis.

#7. The beach. I don't get to go very often, but I love it when I do!

#8. Ansel Adams photography.

#9. Volunteering for causes I believe in. If I had it my way, I'd be volunteering now, but things are so far away from me. I'm sure someday I'll find something. One thing I really miss about living in Sacramento is volunteering for the two organizations I went to every week. I miss seeing the people and getting to know them, as well as the animals.

#10. Reading a good book. Now, I've been coming across a lot of good books lately, and I'm loving it. I'm currently reading Pretty in Plaid - a Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, OR the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase by Jen Lancaster.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Sad Day For Sticksville

Cars flock to the tiny church in the middle of Sticksville. They line the neighborhood streets.
The church pews are filled, extra folding chairs line the walls.

The community hall portion of the church is filled to standing room only. Younger folk give up their seats for the elderly.
Men in cowboy boots and hats, their best Wranglers. Women in slacks, dresses. 

Hushed whispers.
Then the Reverend comes over the loudspeaker.

The only sounds are sniffles, and one gentleman's oxygen.
The Reverend reads passages from the Bible. He reads things that others wrote.

When he's done, people file out of the little church to find an additional 50 people outside the church.
Everyone drives 15 minutes north of town to the cemetery in a nearby town.

Watch the grandsons carry the casket from the hearse to the grave site. All dressed in their best Wranglers, blue button down shirts, and black blazers.
The Reverend asks everyone to draw close.

Watch the husband, sisters, children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren put white roses on the casket.
Drive back to Sticksville to the fairgrounds for the potluck.

Imagine enough food to feed a whole battalion. And then a little more.

A table of pictures of a long life well lived, loved, respected, and admired.

Watching her great-granddaughter put her elbows on the table to stare at a picture of her great-grandmother.

People sharing memories and laughs.

A day long tribute to a woman who was born and died in this valley. Was one of the most widely known, loved, and respected woman in the valley.

She will be missed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Postcard Campaign - I put to my faithful followers

First off, I must thank The Cat and The Coffee Cup for my latest postcard! She got creative (probably inspired Jewels) to make postcards of her own. She used her own beautiful pictures to make her postcards. Love the personal touch!

Now, I have something I wish to put to my faithful followers of the Postcard Campaign. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and I would like your opinion(s). I have been having issues in getting into contact with a few members of this "club" seeing as how it's their turn to send postcards. I had trouble for January - hence it's partly my fault for postcards being sent out late in the month because I suddenly had to scramble get in touch with people.

I fully understand life happens and sometimes blogging gets put on the back burner. It happens to us all. However, there are several people that are members of the "club" that haven't blogged anywhere from 1 month to over 6 months. One person has apparently deleted their blog and hasn't been replying to emails. There are also bloggers who have not done the "thank you" post that I ask we all do upon receiving the postcards - as a common courtesy.

 I did not make it a requirement to follow me to take part in the Campaign. Anyone who wished to take part was allowed in. However, I am now rethinking this strategy. I am considering sending out a mass email to those in the Postcard Campaign; if you email me back with a "yes, I want to remain in" then you're in. Easy as that. As long as you are a follower, and I will make sure to follow back. If I don't hear back from you within 7 days, I will take your name off the mailing list (or if you reply to email with "remove me from the list").

I do not wish to be the mean blogger who kicked nice people off the Campaign list simply because they could not reply due to life issues. I do not wish to be the mean blogger who said "you have to follow me". I do not wish to be the mean blogger who held the proverbial gun to your head to make you write a "thank you" post.

I simply want to ensure that we are all on the same page. That we are all taking equal part. I don't want to ask nice people to pay for international postage for people who are not pulling their weight, so to speak. If you've never sent international mail before, it gets spendy. And there are quite a few international addresses. Not to mention some of those addresses are like novels. 

So, I want your opinion, my wonderful Campaign members. Even if you're not, feel free to give your two cents worth. I don't want to make any drastic changes before I put it you guys. Here's a recap of what I'm thinking of:

~ Sending mass email to ensure participation.
~ Those that do not reply within 7 days are taken off the list. (I will however, keep the addresses in case they change their minds)
~ Make it a requirement for Postcard members to follow me, and I will follow back.
~ You must have a blog in order to participate (to make sure people get updates regarding the Campaign, etc.)

Please let me know what you think. Thank you so much for your participation - I am enjoying the postcards and the notes on them! Without you, this Campaign doesn't exist!