Monthly Archives: August 2006

Budgeting, gearing up for the big day, shmoozing

Today’s training was a class in budgeting, helpful when you’re trying to live in a high-end tourist destination on something like 10G a year. Most of the stuff I already knew, just by virtue of years of experience, but it never hurts to hear it again. You always pick up something new and useful (for example, I now know that due to credit rating changes, that looming high credit limit on my cards is actually good for my credit rating, since it creates a smaller debt-to-limit ratio. Good to know.)

After lunch, we spent some time doing Q&A with Tammy about our upcoming assignments, getting the last odds and ends of vital info we’ll need to put the pieces together on just what the heck we’re supposed to be doing and how to make that work. Spent some time in the office creating some forms and stuff we’ll need later. Got some of our gear in, too, so at least we have something “official” to wear when needed.

Spent the evening at a Chamber of Commerce meet-and-eat, Business After Hours. Made a few strong contacts there for both my own private work and for Children First, educated some folks who hadn’t heard of us and basically had a great time dusting off my ex-entertainer, networking guru Smooze-O-Rama persona. Very productive evening, lots of fun. Plus there was an amazing buffet of great eats as well, so that’s always a plus. 😀

And now I’m off to enjoy my 4-day weekend before the hard work commences. Ta!

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The care and feeding of volunteers

Today was an all-day Volunteer Management course, wherein we learned such things as how to find, recruit and retain volunteers, tactic and strategies for making the volunteer process go smoothly and productively, how to interview and evaluate volunteers and even the dreaded “how to fire a volunteer” process.

Wow. I feel tons better already. This was one of my biggest concerns (especially since one of my jobs is as a volunteer coordinator). This was an amazing class and I really appreciate the work and the detail that went into it. We all walked away with a Volunteer Management Toolkit folder stuffed with sheets covering all the major issues, including ideas, resources, procedures, how-to’s and much, much more. This seems to have filled a major hole in my confidence balloon, so it’s starting to actually inflate and rise rather than hovering at eye-level dithering around and hampering my wider view.

I finally got all the member emails, so I’ll send out invites to the Yahoo! group I set up earlier this week sometime tomorrow. Just too tired to do it tonight. Lots of densely packed but valuable info to absorb plus an afternoon spent unsuccessfully thrift-store shopping for professional duds equals naptime.

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Adolescent Brain Development and cleaning house

The title pretty much sums up my day. Part 1 was an early-morning “dress up for the sponsors” lecture on Adolescent Brain Development (which was quite well-done and very educational, I might add – turns out that all that rebellion is good for you after all.)

Part 2 was a day of cleaning house – specifically, the housing development apt where our afterschool homework club will be held. On the upside, it has a ginormous and fairly well-stocked pantry for making snacks (aka dinner) for the kids. On the downside, it has no air conditioner and lousy air-flow. And it was a mess, too. Old food in the fridge, dishes that are still sticky after being washed several times, basic dirt and crud everywhere and no apparent rhyme or reason to the kitchen’s inventory of goods (various foods all jammed together with no order or pattern, a lot of this and none of that, and so on).

Anyway, we got the downstairs (kitchen, pantry and living room) in reasonably good order – clean and with at least a start toward organization – before the heat got to us. Next work day, we’ll takle the upstairs rooms. Note to self – bring toilet paper. Met a few of our neighbors, had a big lunch (we did “lunch buddies” – you trade names and bring each other’s lunch – and we both just cleared out our leftovers and brought it all) and made some plans for next time. Sign-ups start next Tues, with kids coming in sometime after that (not sure when). I’m still hyperventilating a bit about being hip deep in kids, but I’ll probably be okay. 😀

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A whole new world

Today we met our site supervisors for the coming year. My assignments are at an elementary school in the morning, working as a volunteer coordinator (a job I really didn’t want, but I’m going to trust the selection process and try to make it work for me) and an afterschool homework club in a housing development in the afternoons. I’m a little skittish about working in the projects housing developments (gotta learn the lingo), but willing to learn. More scared about working with so many kids. Gah. What have I gotten myself in for?

Today was the “whirlwind tour” as Tammy put it. Tomorrow, the morning is taken up by a lecture on childhood development (we have to dress up) and an afternoon of getting our sites ready for kids (for which we will change and get grungy). I’m teamed up with someone I think I’ll really enjoy working with at the homework center, so it should be fun and challenging if nothing else.

The talked me into going out tonight to the local pub quiz night, apparently something they all really get into. Having worked in bars and nightclubs for nearly a decade years back, I’m rather “meh” about the whole thing, but it’s not like I’ve got anything else to do, so I went. Probably won’t be an every week thing for me, but once in a while it’s okay. So no long blog post tonight. I gotta get up early and be pretty doing it.

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There will be no mf snakes on the mf raft

Once again, my unhappy opinion of boating-like outings was confirmed and my resolve further hardened against repeating such endeavors.

And no, depsite the boat rental guy’s vivid descriptions of potential local wildlife sightings, we didn’t actually run into any snakes out on the river today (although they do have a nice black snake in the office terrarium).

We did, however, hit and get completely and nearly irrevocably stuck on every *&+!$&)%!$ rock, log and thicker-than-normal chunk of water between put in and take out, resulting in many minutes spent frantically bouncing the raft about and pushing fruitlessly against the local geology in variously successful attempts to free ourselves, eventually scooting free only to run aground again a few more meters down the channel. We also spun around a lot, usually as part of the “rock on, rock off” process, prompting the 4 of us who were on the inflatable together to christen it the Merry-Go-Raft. It was very hot and sunny. I was layered up in sleeves and pants like Micheal Jackson in Dubai drag over heavy sunscreen (and still got some pink on my shoulders). I had on my big pink straw hat (I bring my own shade if none is provided) and flip-flops (it was either that or risk getting my sneakers wet, and they take days to dry if that happens). There was only a spotty breeze. I had to pee when I wasn’t waterless with anxiety. My wrists were shot from yesterday’s CPR training and by the end of the trip I was paddling with my forearm.

It was quite thoroughly Not Fun.

Thankfully, it is over and, as one of my raftmates said, we can always use this when times get tough during our tour by saying “Hey, at least we’re not out on the water.” I, however, plan on working hard at simply blocking the whole morning out of my memory entirely.

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to more teambuilding games designed to simultaneously bond and torture. Our afternoon was hightlighted by the arrival of the tinkle-tuned ice cream truck, whose driver has the brilliance to know a captive market base (hot and sweaty post-float-trip tourists) when he sees one. He was summarily mobbed by a dozen Americorps members waving coinage.

So, the float trip is done (float trip? what float trip?). I’m off for the weekend. Oh, and I got my assignment – mornings at Haw Fletcher elementary as a teachers’ aid sorta thing and afternoons at Pisgah View after school program as the volunteer coordinator. Not my top picks, but I’m going into it with an open mind. Should be an interesting year.

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A 3-hour tour…

Is no one else on my team concerned that our boatride planned for tomorrow bears striking similarities to the start of Gilligan’s Island?


A 3-hour tour in supposedly good weather, in familiar waters, with a diverse group carrying only a change of dry clothing.

Just me?

Okay. Just checking.

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Oy, my wrists! CPR/First Aid certification training

One of the universal bits of Americorps training is getting your Red Cross CPR/First Aid certs. Pretty much, if you’re going to be working around people who are doing things, you’ll need to be certified by the Red Cross in order to get govt. grant money to do so. It’s just the way things are. And it’s also a massive pain for us geekazoids with repetitive-strain-weakened, Barbie-sized, decorative-only-not-for-actual-use wrists, like me.


I just about couldn’t hold my pencil for the written exam at the end of the CPR class.

(And what sort of temporary mental retardation is it exactly that makes me always fill in at least one answer that I know on a multiple choice test incorrectly? Like filling in “A” for “All of the above”, which is actually answer “D.” GAH! I hate that! )

I mean, it’s nice knowing I can yank some poor near-escapee back from the brink of coporeal release with my bare hands, but man…you gotta worry about a life-saving technique that involves the possibility that your would-be savior is standing over you as you breathe your last debating over whether saving you is worth possible permanent manual disability. Because, if we’re talking about an IT code-monkey who makes more money keeping the corporation’s hinky software afloat than most of the grunts upsatairs make shifting paper, the answer may well be “no.” Especially if you’ve called him or her up from the comfortably darkened and climate-controlled depths of IT out into the sunlit regions of meatspace to show you how to make “that CD thingy” work, again, more than twice this week.

I’m not saying it’s a choice I would make. It’s just that the standard “keep doing CPR until you are too exhausted to continue” bit is likely to come way earlier in the game with me than with some of our team’s ex-volleyball stars. I’m just saying.

The first aid bits were easy though. After you’ve lived through your husband taking off two fingertips, slicing through the tendons on a third and degloving a major chunk of his palm with a circular saw – and the months of wound care that follow – you’re in pretty good shape when it comes to the “wound-bandaging demonstration test.” And my splinting sk11z are off the hook, yo. Plus, I’m only barf-squeamish, not blood squeamish – I’m big CSI fan with years of experience eagerly oggling gruesomely recreated and vividly lit wounds – so as long as you’re bleeding and not hurling I’m right there with you.

So, if I were you, I’d stick with me for all of your open wound needs and leave the CPR stuff to someone whose wrists don’t get whiny after a hard night banging out blog posts.


PS: Tomorrow is our re-scheduled boat trip. Looks like the weather will be perfect. Crap. Stay tuned for further updates from the burn center’s Terminal Overexposure to unAcclimated Sunlight Therapy (TOAST) ward.

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