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Dear Diary #21

So, diary, it’s been almost a month since my last post. I keep writing things down to post about, then when I make time to actually sit down and write the posts, something comes up – almost without fail. I’ve had five days off of work and today – the night before a string of shifts – I finally have a little time while the family is out doing errands.

This whole 2016 year has been quite trying. I already went through some of the stuff that’s gone on in my last diary entry. The hits keep coming.

Daughter WhiteCoat’s car needed almost $1000 in repairs. Then, within 2 weeks, it broke down again. Estimates were another $1500 to repair it this time. With 200,000 miles on the vehicle, we opted not to throw good money after bad. Instead, we financed a used Toyota with low miles. We surprised her with it and watching her dance around the yard yelling still makes me smile. We parked it in the driveway and parked her old car behind it. The following morning, she gets in to drive to school, forgets that her old car was behind her, and backs into the old car, gouging her rear bumper. She didn’t want to tell me about it, so she went to Sherman Williams and they tried to match the paint based on a picture she took on her cell phone. Now it looks worse than it did with the scratches. I am NOT replacing the bumper.

I’ve got a used BMW that I got for a good price off of CraigsList. That is the first and last time I’m ever buying a BMW. I used to like to work on cars. Now you can’t do it unless you have a degree in advanced computer programming. Battery went bad about 6 months ago. Can’t just purchase a battery and replace it. Have to purchase a special battery and register it to the car. Cost: $500. Driving to work and suddenly get this message that pops up on the navigation screen. “Turbo output failure. Car is safe to drive. See dealer immediately.” Take it back to dealer. Nothing is wrong with the turbo. A total of four sensors went bad. Sensors, mind you. The cheapest one was $189. Most expensive sensor was $629. Total cost to replace bad sensors was more than $1500. Looks like I’m working a few more shifts in the emergency department next month.

My trusty color laser printer took a crap on me as well. Purchased new toner and now it has banding on all the prints and the color looks like everything has been mixed with mud. So I take apart the printer, vacuum out the insides, clean the corona wires and the drum, put it back together, no change. Reinstall the printer drivers. No change. Fortunately, I have a second printer in the basement. Same brand and model. Had it at Mrs. WhiteCoat’s office for a while and then she went to a straight black and white printer. Lug that printer upstairs and switch it out with the first printer. Plug it in. Error message. Look error message up on internet. “Laser malfunction. Take printer to nearest service center.” In other words, throw both of the printers in the garbage. But wait! When you leave the printers on the curb, the garbagemen won’t take them. Even the shifty-eyed guys in the pickup truck that drive around the neighborhood before the garbage trucks get there and dump over garbage cans looking for loot won’t take them. No. We have to take the printers to the recycling center to get rid of the damn things. The closest recycling center was about 25 miles away. I got a bright idea to throw them in the backyard of the neighbor down the street who had a party with music blaring until 1:30 AM a couple of weekends ago, but with my luck, he would have seen them on the curb in front of my house and would have called the cops on me. Instead, I decided to be conscious and drove the 25 miles to the recycling center. Except it really isn’t a “center.” It is a big pile of electronics in the back parking lot of some city’s maintenance department. Looked like a scene from Sanford and Son. I smashed the hell out of so many printers and monitors that my back was sore. But it felt … gooood.

By the way, speaking of my back being sore, for the mucsleheads out there, I’m on the cusp of the 1000 pound club. Bench press 245. Squat 335. Deadlift 405. Another month without injuries and hopefully I’ll be there. Junior WhiteCoat is my workout buddy on most days. He’s awesome. I’m so proud of all my kids.

Speaking about injuries. I did bust a rib back in January. That has healed. Then I pulled something in my upper back while doing rows. For the past three nights, I have to prop pillows under my back to keep from rolling over on my side and waking up screaming in pain like someone is stabbing me in the back. Mrs. WhiteCoat has already threatened that if it happens again, she’ll give me something to scream about.

Speaking about screaming. That’s what I’m hearing around the house today. Kids thought it would be funny to switch the hard boiled eggs in my lunch container with real eggs. They got me once before doing this and, while driving to work, I cracked the egg on my knee and got egg yolk all over my leg. This time, it was egg yolk all over the desk at work. Oh, they’re friggin hilarious. So I came home and didn’t say anything, but I changed the router password to “YolksOnYOU.” They’re whining because they can’t get on the internet with their iPads. I’m laughing and saying “Hey, the Yolk’s On You, isn’t it? Bwaaaaahahaha.” Wonder how long it will be until they figure that one out. Now I’m going to have to spin the eggs every time before I begin cracking.

So back to the printer. I shopped around and couldn’t find a laser printer with a large enough scanning glass. So I figured that I’d take a chance and buy an office ink jet. Got an Epson WorkForce WF-7620 with a 11×17 scanning bed and capability to print 13×19 prints. So far, I really like it. Colors are great and text is surprisingly clear. Eats up ink, though. I got refillable cartridges on eBay. Some of the online reviews aren’t the best, so I’ll wait and see how it holds up.

WhiteCoat Kids are in two plays with rehearsals 5 times per week. They’re basically living out of the car after school. Good thing gas prices are still low. Mrs. WhiteCoat needs an electric SUV. Tesla doesn’t come out with its Model X for a while, but with a base price of $130,000, it’s a little outside my budget.

Work is OK. We remodeled our emergency department and put in new television sets to replace the ratty old ones that were hanging from the wall on an old metal arm that swings out over the bed. It used to be easy to turn off the televisions when you walk in the room. Just go press the button on the TV and swing it back against the wall. The new television sets are different. There’s no on/off button on the television. You have to press one control button, push it upward, press it again, push it to the side and press it a third time to turn off the television. Either that or you have to try to dig the remote out from under the patient’s sheets or under a pile of clothing sitting in the only chair in the room. So I just started unplugging the television set instead of trying to perfect the magical control button maneuvers. That went over well. On our first set of patient satisfaction ratings after remodeling the emergency department, I got low grades from three patients … not because I provided poor medical care … not because I was rude … not because my clothing didn’t match … but because I unplugged the television. And this is what we’ve sunk to, ladies and gentlemen. Being rated as a poor physician and bent over by the Press Ganey system because of non-user friendly control buttons on television sets. Rest assured knowing that highly-rated hospitals and physicians have mastered the art of turning off television sets without unplugging them. You now know where to turn when you are suffering from your next heart attack.

On the other hand, I’ve been able to help quite a few people in my other job. Kind of rewarding when you can do something relatively small and help someone so immensely. Many times I don’t charge people for the help I provide. But I always tell them they need to pay it forward. Help someone else for free and make them pay it forward to another person. Maybe some day it will work its way back around to those bastards that design TV control buttons.

7 comments

  1. Buy a small Universal remote.

  2. Did you plug the television set back in? Because I can tell you, from my experience as a patient, my time in the emergency room consists of hours of waiting, frequently on monitoring cables or IVs so I can’t move easily / safely on my own, or with a medical problem where I can’t easily move on my own, and the occasional 30 second – 5 minute visit from a nurse or doctor.

    If you walk in, unplug my only distraction (because when I rushed to the emergency room, I didn’t bother to pack books, or hunt down my phone charger, or otherwise pack 2-8 hours of entertainment), spend 2 minutes telling me that tests X and Y had some results and now you want to run test Z, and then leave me sitting staring at the blank walls until a nurse comes in 30 minute to 2 hours later to check on me, I’m going to have nothing to do but sit there staring at the blank TV screen and thinking about how annoyed I am with you, and how much whatever problem brought me to the emergency room hurts. So your patient satisfaction survey will say “Doctor Whitecoat treated my problem, but left me bored / miserable / in pain with nothing to distract me because he unplugged the TV in my room”, and you won’t get as good a rating as the other doctors who’ve managed to actually ask me where the remote is, or if I can turn the TV off, or even just remembered to plug the TV back in as they left.

    • I appreciate the perspective. We usually don’t get rational feedback. Mostly just “the a-hole doctor unplugged the TV.”
      I previously unplugged the TV and then plugged it back in. Then the TV came back on. Then I unplugged it just enough to cut the power while still leaving the plug in the socket and pushed the plug back in on the way out.
      Now I either find the remote or stand there like a dope until I can get the power button to turn the TV off.

  3. I once had 5 years of broken kids, cars, and work. There was never enough money. I swear to this day that my wife engineered the whole thing so I would not have enough money to divorce her. Now, some 30 years later, my kids are grown up, my cars (if not new) are all running, and my work is easy as I supervise everyone else. My wife, she just smiles at me and kisses me all the time.

    I am a lucky man.

  4. The first time I took my wife on a date in NY City, we stopped to give a homeless guy on the sidewalk some cash and the rest of the food we were taking home from the restaurant. He looked up and said “Thanks, Bud —” and then he stopped short when he looked at Mrs. WhiteCoat and said “whooo-weee. Some guys get ALL the luck.” Of course she gave him an extra five bucks for that comment. That was 20+ years ago and I still tell Mrs. WhiteCoat that same thing.
    Behind every good man is a better woman.
    Now if she could only fix a BMW sensor …

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