Monday, October 30, 2006

Lady and the Tramp?

In one of her comments, Holly referred to me first as a lady, and then a few sentences later called me Floozie, so that’s what brought to mind that particular Disney movie. Or I suppose I could say the Lady and the Lamp because many years ago, the first time I met her, in fact, Holly also introduced me to the music of Allen Damron, who had a song about Florence Nightingale and her lamp.

Anyway, I guess it’s time to explain about my different “personalities,” since Holly has once again referred to me in the plural (from the DST comments: “…wishing I had something new to read from the fertile fields of your minds…”).

She’s going to think this post is all about her, because she is also the one that first called me St. Flo, the MPD Saint. The saint reference came about because when she, Cait, Azrael, and I used to get together for Internet “chats,” I rarely cussed. So the Catholic Little Miss Goody Two Shoes became the saint.

The MPD (multiple personality disorder) came from all the nicknames I had already accumulated, depending on what mood I was in (hence, “Our Lady of Perpetual Mood Swings”).

A friend of ours was having some health issues and was not doing what the doctor ordered, so I wrote and told her I was going to send Nurse Ratchet her way. I think I really scared her, because she wrote back and she’s the one that dubbed me Floozie. Thanks, Gypsy.

I tend to have memory problems, therefore Dorie (from “Finding Nemo”), Our Lady of Perpetual Memory Loss, Sergeant “I Know NOTHING” Schultz, and Anyone Else I Have Forgotten.

I am Chieftainess of the Clan MacMurphy on days when everything that can go wrong, does.

And then there’s the name I share with Cait. I live quite a ways from Cait, who at the time lived relatively close to Holly. Cait made plans for one of Holly’s birthdays and during chat we would talk about the different activities and how much fun the day would be. We just neglected to tell Holly during these conversations that I was driving down to join in the celebration, too. So when Holly arrived at Cait’s house and I was the one that opened the door, she called us Lyin’ Bitches. Can you believe that? I was appalled. I did NOT lie—my mama said you’d go to hell for lyin’, and we surely don’t want a saint going to hell.

I know there are many more flitting around in the great expanse that is my mind, they just haven’t revealed their names yet. However, if there is Anyone Else I Have Forgotten, just wait, I’m sure my friends will rush in to remind me.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Daylight Savings Time

I don’t know about you, but that extra hour of sleep last night didn’t do me a whole lot of good. I think we should either totally get rid of DST or permanently stay on it.

I thought maybe all the switching would be ok if I was still a kid and my body clock didn’t care what time it was. Then I remembered having to go to bed as a kid when it was still light outside. That was just wrong. But parents only care about their body clock and you have to listen to it, whether you want to or not. Of course, I always thought that was wrong, too, until I had kids of my own. Now I know it’s just payback for all their sleepless nights. Yeah, tell me parents don’t hold the record for longest grudge.

Then I thought maybe the time changes wouldn’t be so bad if it was still just me, myself, and I that was responsible only for me, myself, and I. Nope, because then I remembered the twelve-hour shifts I used to work. It didn’t make any difference that it was only an eleven-hour shift in the fall. In the spring, it was a thirteen-hour shift, and that cancelled out every eleven-hour shift and then some. Especially if the thirteen-hour shift was in the Emergency Department on a Friday night with a full moon. I don’t know where the people that wrote up the statistics got their information showing all that full moon talk was an old wife’s tale. Ask any employee that works the night shift in a hospital, for an ambulance service, fire or police department, and they’ll tell you a full moon on a Friday night means a nightmare of a shift and I hope you aren’t needing a smoke break or else heaven help your prisoner. I mean patient.

BTW, speaking of paying jobs, I haven’t received a paycheck from Google yet. Y’all are still clicking an ad every time you visit, right? I guess I should have mentioned that direct cash donations are also accepted. Just make your checks out to “Flo’s Financial Fantasy.” Surely it would be tax deductible, wouldn’t you think?


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

You Want HOW Much???

For AIR???

Remember back before cell phones, when your mother used to tell you to make sure you always had a quarter in case you needed to make a phone call?

Now you almost have to take out a loan if you have a low tire and need air.

I was out and about one night, running some errands before I had to pick my daughter up from school. Noticed a tire was low, stopped at a gas station, they wanted 75 cents to air up the tire. Yes, 75 cents!

“Forget that,” I said, and went on down the road to another station. Same thing. “Well,” I thought, “I think it will make it until I head back the other way and can hit Quik Trip for FREE air.” So I went about my business.

I came out from Wal-Mart, saw the tire, and thought “oh dear.” (Ok, I WOULD have thought that if I weren’t so irritated.) I didn’t think I should be driving across the street, let alone all the way to Quik Trip. So I hit one of those red things, I think it was Conoco, but it might have been Philips 66, on the corner.

That’ll be 75 cents—and the darn machine didn’t even say “please.” In go my three quarters. Nothing. I was getting more irritated by the minute and hubby wasn’t around, so I hit the machine. Still nothing. It ended up costing a full dollar to get air.

It’s highway robbery, I tell you!!

But thanks, Quik Trip, for having free air available, I hope you keep it that way.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Power Trick-or-Treating

Halloween at my sister Lovi’s house has been a tradition for a number of years. It starts with something handed down from our own childhood days, taco salad. Then Lovi and I gather the kids up for Round 1 of trick-or-treating in the car. After a short break back at the house, it’s time for Round 2, which involves walking the neighborhood.

After years of doing this, we have finally mastered the art of Power Trick-or-Treating in Round 1.

Listen closely, kids.

First, you have to set the ground rules: Everybody exits and enters the vehicle in an orderly fashion from the passenger side of the vehicle. Everybody stays together. Go up the street, carefully cross over, come back down the street, and then load back up into the vehicle. We move to the next LZ and repeat the process.

Here comes the “power” part: You get a 17-year-old kid. When the vehicle comes to a complete stop, he slams open the side of the van, hops out, and yells “GO GO GO!!!!!!!!” (Think of a chopper landing, the door opening, and soldiers pouring out.) The 17-year-old runs up to the first house, the others following him. They go from house to house at a run, careful not to run over other trick-or-treaters, stopping long enough to say “trick-or-treat” and “thank you.”

After the third or fourth street, the 17-year-old is holding the hand of the 7-year-old, practically dragging him along. Not long after that, the 17-year-old is carrying the 7-year-old. The girls are on their own, trying to keep up.

Last year we set a record—a full bag of GOOD candy for each kid, in 45 minutes.

Unfortunately, the 17-year-old is now 18 and at college, so he won’t be joining us this year. Anybody out there interested in the job?


Monday, October 23, 2006

Help Support the Fine Arts

…by clicking on a Google ad at the top of the page.

Ok, so if there’s truly any money in this, it really goes into my bank account to be used for a trip to New York. However, the purpose of the trip is for my daughter and me to sing Schubert’s Mass in G at Carnegie Hall as part of a choir. That’s supporting the fine arts, right?

When we get to New York, we’ll be meeting up with choirs from all over the United States. In the meantime, I am having a wonderful time (although the alto section is a little rowdy) with our local choir, made up of members from various churches in the area. We are fortunate to have two outstanding directors. They’re both passionate about their work, wonderful teachers, and also quite entertaining.

One is also a member of the Kansas City Chorale. Look, another way you can support the arts! They have a new CD that should be available in the U. S. in November, called “Eternal Rest.” Click here for a sample clip. If you or family or friends enjoy choir music, I hear the CD makes a great gift.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Red Cross--Part 2

Previously, it was determined that the Red Cross is asking volunteers to agree to an all inclusive disclosure agreement, authorizing the Red Cross to conduct a background check. According to the agreement, signing it could potentially allow the Red Cross to obtain any consumer report it deemed appropriate, during the entire length of Red Cross employment. I received an e-mail in response to my asking the National Headquarters if they would revise the agreement.

The e-mail states: “… the language in the consent form is standard legal language used in consent forms for background checks, industry wide, and has been approved by the Office of General Council here at the Red Cross.” So a one-size-fits-all consent form is standard? It doesn’t make any difference if the person is an employee or volunteer? It doesn’t make any difference if the person is a mailroom clerk or CEO? Or is it just that the industry can’t be bothered to make more than one form and isn’t concerned about potential invasion of privacy?

“By signing it, it is true that the person does agree that the Red Cross could conduct a credit check or other investigation into an individual's background, but a credit check or other investigations are not part of the minimum basic check the Red Cross will perform on its employees or volunteers.” The first part of the sentence pretty much negates the second part. Nowhere does it state unequivocally that the Red Cross will not conduct any other types of investigation. In fact, it doesn’t even say the Red Cross will notify you if they choose to conduct other investigations. The e-mail states the Unit Administrator has to specifically order and pay for reports over and above the criminal records check, but it doesn’t state the Unit Administrator will notify you if, when, or what types of other investigations are conducted. That would probably be because by signing the agreement, you have given them permission to check what they want, when they want.

“It may be helpful for you to know…” None of that addresses my concern about the disclosure agreement and why the Red Cross feels it is necessary to use the current wording, so no, it is not helpful for me to know their concerns, the corporate name, how long it’s been in business, where it’s in business, and that there haven’t been any BBB complaints. I know what the “s” in https stands for, thank you. In fact, way back when I went to school, we were required to be able to read before we could graduate, so I already knew a lot of the information that was provided, because I read it on the website.

“As it states in the FCRA (which is available upon consenting to the background check and on CrossNet): ‘A consumer reporting agency may provide information about you only to people with a valid need...’ ” First, that statement does not come from the FCRA, it comes from “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” I know that because I DID read the Summary when it was provided on the web page, and I also took it upon myself to find the actual FCRA and read the section that was referenced.

Second, that particular statement from the Summary also continues “…usually to consider an application with a creditor, insurer, employer, landlord, or other business. The FCRA specifies those with a valid need for access.” Nowhere in the FCRA does it specify that a valid need for access includes investigations of volunteers, as opposed to employees. In fact, unless the Red Cross can show me how the FCRA applies to volunteers, I believe it could be a violation of my rights for them to request consumer reports in this instance.

The Summary of the FCRA also states that consumer reporting agencies include specialty agencies, such as those with access to medical records. What DOESN’T the Red Cross have access to by signing the disclosure agreement?

As a volunteer nurse, why does the Red Cross need permission that would grant them access to my medical records, credit reports, to see if I have ever been divorced, or that I’ve been to court for a speeding ticket? They have been given a copy of my nursing license, so they know I am a lawfully practicing Registered Nurse. Other than a criminal record check, what else, under these circumstances, do they need?

Why would it be so difficult to come up with a disclosure agreement that is more specific? If all they are going to check is criminal records, why not say so? Or criminal records, and driving records for those who will be driving Red Cross vehicles? I do not agree with a credit check for volunteers involved in finances or fundraising because I don’t think a volunteer of this type agency should be in a position of monetary responsibility enough for a credit check. When it comes to finances, an employee should be in charge.

What distresses me is that because of the Red Cross policy, since I will not give them carte blanche to my life story, I am not allowed to do something I truly enjoy. Something I want to do—for free, even! I am being denied the opportunity to serve my parish and community. That is sad—for me, the community, and the Red Cross.

My understanding is that there were six nurses lined up to help with this flu shot clinic. None of us will authorize the background check because of the disclosure agreement. Now the local chapter will be completely responsible for covering the clinic. How many more potential volunteers will the Red Cross lose before the National Headquarters will be a little more reasonable?

If you wouldn’t mind, take a few minutes to contact the National Headquarters of the American Red Cross and ask them to consider revising the disclosure agreement for volunteers. Maybe if enough people not only object, but also tell them about it, they will reconsider their position.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

The American Red Cross

I originally started this post trying to be my usual, witty self. Then I figured you don’t have all day to read it, so I’d keep it as brief as possible. Then, since it was still taking a lot of space, I got to thinking that because this is the topic that pushed my GO button, I wanted to make sure you understand my point of view. Therefore, I have decided that I should tell the story in two parts. (Remember that I’m telling you this up front, not leaving you hanging in the middle of a story like some bloggers do, so no whining allowed).

Once a year for the last few years, I have been helping administer the flu vaccine at my church. It is the only day I perform an actual nursing procedure anymore. Even better, it gives me a chance to do something I rarely had time for when I was being paid—talk to patients/clients and maybe put a smile on their face without feeling like I had to rush to get something else done before the end of the shift.

The Red Cross provides the vaccine, so for that one day a year, I am a Red Cross Volunteer. This year, the parish coordinator for the event called me one evening and said: “Flo, you are SO important that the Red Cross wants to do a background check on you.” I’ve been in the military; I’ve had background checks. No big deal. There are several people that help during these clinics, but the coordinator said nurses are the only ones required to have a background check (ok, so I wasn’t the only important one).

This is done on-line, so I went to the website I was given and started clicking. Then I ran into the Disclosure Agreement. I even printed it so I could R e a d I t S l o w l y because I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

Basically, the Red Cross was asking for authorization to conduct a background check for either employment purposes or any other purposes allowed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The investigations conducted might include, but are not limited to, credit checks, social security verification, criminal and public court records checks, driving records checks, education and professional employment verification, licensing and certification verification, and reference checks.

In addition, authorizing the background check allows the Red Cross to obtain any and all consumer reports as long as the Red Cross employs you.

I thought the background check might have to do with HIPPA, but the parish coordinator thought it was a Homeland Security issue. I contacted the local Red Cross chapter and was told the National Headquarters required the background check and all they knew was that it had something to do with Hurricane Katrina and a Congressional. After a little more research, it was determined that the only investigation the Red Cross was paying for was the criminal records check.

That is perfectly fine and not an unreasonable request. We want our kid’s teacher checked out for a criminal record, so I guess it’s not too much to ask to check the record of someone that is injecting a foreign substance into your body.

Do the criminal record check. I authorize the Red Cross to perform a criminal record check.

However, that is not what the Disclosure Agreement says. They want authorization for all of it. To be a VOLUNTEER, to offer my professional nursing services to them free of charge, they want permission to be able to view my entire life history—and not the condensed version. No authorization of the background check means no volunteer work.

I contacted the National Headquarters and asked if they would revise the agreement. This is what I received (it has been copied and pasted, so the errors are not mine, although I have edited names and phone numbers):

“Dear Flo,

We here at NHQ do understand the concerns that the consent form has raised among our members. However, the language in the consent form is standard legal language used in consent forms for background checks, industry wide, and has been approved by the Office of General Council here at the Red Cross. By signing it, it is true that the person does agree that the Red Cross could conduct a credit check or other investigation into an individual's background, but a credit check or other investigations are not part of the minimum basic check the Red Cross will perform on its employees or volunteers. Because there may be instances when a chapter would want to run further checks, however, such as Motor Vehicle Records check for those they want to drive their vehicles or credit checks for those who work with finances or fundraising, or employee verification for applicants for employment, the broad language of this consent form is necessary. Be assured that those instances are rare, and the chapter's unit administrator must specifically order an MVR or credit check and the chapter must pay for it separately. If a volunteer has questions about whether their chapter would need to conduct an additional check besides the standard, they should contact their Unit Administrator. Your Unit Administrator is LocalLady and she would be more than wiling to speak with you about the background check policy and the need for it at the event your are referencing.

It may be helpful for you to know that one of our main concerns when choosing a vendor for this initiative was the protection of the personal information of staff and volunteers. My Background Check, whose corporate name is, has been in business for over 12 years in California, working on background checks for other large organizations with security concerns as urgent as our own, and has not a single complaint to the Better Business Bureau. The login website address begins with https, the "s" confirming that it is a secure website, complete with automatic encryption and other safeguards. All information is kept on the vendor's secure website. One has to go to the vendor's website and enter an individualized password to access confidential information. SSN’s cannot be downloaded to computes and cannot be taken from the site. My Background Check does not sell information and is bound by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to only use the personal information provided for legitimate business purposes, just as the Red Cross and Unit Administrators are also bound. As it states in the FCRA (which is available upon consenting to the background check and on CrossNet): "A consumer reporting agency may provide information about you only to people with a valid need..."

I hope I have been able to address your concerns. Again, please feel free to contact LocalLady at 000-000-0000 or this office at 1-800-000-0000.


Keeping in mind that I need clearance to be a VOLUNTEER, I’ll leave you to stew on the situation for a bit.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

All About Me

I've been married almost 20 years, to the same man for the whole time. (Eventually, you'll come to feel sorry for one of us.) I have two children, a young man that is in college, and a young lady that is in high school. They couldn't be more different from each other and it continually amazes me that we raised two such individual kids in the same household.

The current animal population is three cats and three dogs, since we’ve added a stray that my daughter managed to coax from the jaws of the other two dogs. Now that I think about it, five of the six were animals that we rescued. We’re not quite one big happy family, but at least all the dogs now get along with each other and all the cats get along. Hubby is NOT pleased to have an inside dog again, but it doesn’t bother me a bit.

Maybe one day we’ll have some cattle again, as long as I don’t have to grain the steer and watch him being trucked down the driveway enroute to the slaughterhouse. And I do believe before we got married I was promised some horses. I’ve been waiting a while, hm?

I formerly worked as a Registered Nurse, for the most part in the Emergency Department. However, I have currently been away from a paid position almost twice as long as I ever practiced. I was associated with medicine for long time, though. I started out as a candy striper at the age of thirteen. Then I worked as a nurse's aide while I was going through nursing school.

I was also a medic/flight medic in the Army National Guard, until I went to Officer Candidate School, where I met the man I would marry. Upon graduation from OCS, I eventually transferred to the Army Reserve, which had the good sense to send me to flight school to become a helicopter pilot.

Those occupations are the basis for one of my nicknames. Back in the olden days, when CB radios were popular and I was driving a lot, my handle was “The Flying Nightingale.” When I finally got a computer and got up the nerve to connect to the outside world, my handle was too long to use as a screen name for AOL, so I changed “Nightingale” to “Flo,” short for Florence.

As for my other nicknames (or personalities, as my sisters-of-the-heart insist they are), we’ll get to those in a future post.

My husband was also an officer and aviator. He was deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon returning from his last deployment, we started building a house. And let me tell you, that is turning out to be quite an adventure, which I guarantee you’ll be reading about later.

And the reason I decided to publish a blog? A sister-of-my-heart
(Holly's Hystrionics) recommended another blogger (The LawDog Files), and those became part of my "favorites" list (I have also recently added Holly’s Snot-Nosed Stepson). While browsing one day, I saw something that said you could get paid to have people read your blog by allowing advertising on your page (or however AdSense works).

"Doesn't everybody hate those web ads?" I thought.

"Of course they do. But even you click on one of them once in a while."

"Darn, caught in the act. Ok, fine. What could it hurt, anyway? Certainly not my bank account balance." I’ll explain the necessity of increasing the bank account balance another time.

The main reason I finally decided to get started will be the topic of my next post.

I hope you enjoy the reading, but don’t blab to my hubby or he might make me stop, and then you’ll never know. (I should have warned those that know me—now they’ll probably have to clean the spew off their screens at the thought of hubby thinking he could stop me from anything. See, you probably feel sorry for him already, don’t you?)