Thursday, October 07, 2010


Many years and many more digressions ago, Kathy posted about "The Paradoxical Commandments" by Dr. Kent M. Keith on her blog. I can't remember when it was or even what the title of the blog post was, but maybe she can enlighten us with a comment later.

At any rate, I have been reflecting on those sayings a lot lately, because they really do speak to me. In pretty much any profession, one is able to see the first line in action, "People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered..." Since I have worked in a customer service oriented field my entire working life, I have seen many examples of this. But then that statement is followed by a profound challenge: "Love them anyway." WOW! Now if that doesn't speak volumes, I don't know what does.

Is it easy to do? Of course not, I would rather people be logical, reasonable, and selfless. But it is a challenge I try to live up to every day. It's really difficult to love someone who is cursing, yelling, or otherwise making you feel like dirt at the Pharmacy counter, and most of the time I fail the challenge. Until, of course, I actually think about what is going on and how I would feel in the same situation. Most of the people I deal with are older with many health problems, treating someone with many health problems, or are dealing with a painful or embarrassing illness that they would like to get over with as soon as possible. In the end, I might still have a few choice words to say about those "illogical, unreasonable, self-centered" people, but I still try to treat them with the dignity and respect we are all due as human beings. And I think that is something that the author of these Commandments would agree with.

Sometimes I am the one that needs reminding of the Commandments, because I am the one that is being "illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered." What can I say? I am human after all, and we all have those moments of indiscretion. But the important thing is that we try to live out our lives as good people; it is my challenge to live as a good Catholic Christian person, but that can apply to any religion since humanity and goodness transcend religious views. The point of it all is to challenge and motivate us to look beyond the exterior and see people in a better light, and really, who can argue with that?

You can find the whole selection from "The Paradoxical Commandments"
here, but I also wanted to share a YouTube video today. Not only have I been enamored with these quotes, but also with a song that is based on them. Martina McBride has a song called "Anyway" that goes into a few of the lines, and even gives a different perspective or new understanding of what the Commandments are trying to accomplish. Personally I feel enriched and touched to experience both the written words and the song version, and I hope you do too. But the challenge I give to you all is to actually live out the Commandments, as I strive to do every single day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Maybe it's just the heat that's getting to me, but I've been getting frustrated by many, many things lately. If you'll humor me for a few minutes, I'd like to vent my frustrations. Then, I'll try to lighten the mood a little with some things that have happened that have made my frustration either go away, or at least make me forget that I am frustrated.

Probably the thing that has made me the MOST frustrated is, indeed, the heat. I don't have a problem with cold weather, because heat is easier to come by than cold. Let me explain what I mean. Houses and cars that either don't have air conditioning or have inefficient air conditioning will most of the time have functioning heat. Since all machines (including our human bodies) produce heat, staying warm indoors is easier than staying cool indoors. Also, in the summer, one can only remove so much clothing to remain decent in society. In the winter, one can add extra layers both under and over our clothes to stay warmer. There are, of course, exceptions to this, but in our temperate climate in the Southeast, that will suffice.

The main reason I am frustrated by the heat is because I don't have air conditioning in my car. My car is older (1997) and has a fair few problems, but for the most part I can overlook those and get everywhere I want to go. When the temperature outside is above 90 degrees, however, not having A/C is almost unbearable. To remedy this, I have had my car fixed two summers in a row several years ago to recharge with freon. This was not a permanent fix, however, because I obviously had a leak, since the next summer the A/C would not work. I took my car in yesterday to see if I could have the same relatively inexpensive fix, only to find out that I would need to replace my compressor, a fix that would cost around $1100. I don't exactly have $1100 that I can throw around, so I guess I will go without A/C for another summer. Isn't that frustrating?

Another thing that has been frustrating to me lately is something I'm sure my avid readers will have noticed. Normally I would be so delighted to receive comments on my blog, the more the better! In recent posts, I have gotten many comments from people I don't know that are obviously written in some Asian language. This is frustrating because I don't know what these comments are saying, and they are clogging up my comments with odd characters. Luckily, this is easy enough to fix. I am now moderating my comments, meaning that I must approve all comments before they are published to my blog. If any spam-related comments or comments in a foreign language come in, I will have the option to keep them from posting. So, to my devoted followers, don't become frustrated if your comments do not show up right away; as long as they are in English and not spam, they will be posted ASAP.

Ok, that's enough venting for today. In happy news, work has been going well, and I am looking forward to the day when our store renovations are finished so that I can be full-time. It hasn't been especially eventful, but then that's not a bad thing. I have learned so much since I started this job, and for that I am grateful. It has been frustrating to just float along day-to-day, wondering when I would get the benefit of being a full-time employee, wondering if this job was worth the frustration that sometimes I deal with. But then I have days where I thoroughly enjoy even the most mundane things that happen, and spending time with some really awesome pharmacists! Now that's a good day.

Another thing I have been looking forward to is our visit to Atlanta starting this Saturday. Family is extremely important to me, and I always enjoy our visits. Not only are these visits a break from work and the ordinary routine, but they allow me to return home relaxed and refreshed. Food, games, and interesting conversation: what else could you want?! So, if you will be there next week, I look forward to seeing you and enjoying my time there. For all my other readers, I'll see you when I get back. I hope this blog doesn't frustrate you, and that you stay "upbeat and positive!"

Sunday, July 18, 2010


People always say that it's "never too early" to put aside for retirement. Well, how about at age 23?

I've taken two steps in the last 6 months to ensure that I'll have enough money set aside for retirement, whenever that might be. I'm in no hurry to retire; I would find myself bored without something to do every day. Plus, right now I enjoy going to work, and couldn't imagine a time (right now) when I wouldn't have to work. But, I digress. (Sorry Kathy, I just thought it was appropriate.)

Around the first of this year I started making contributions to a work-sponsored retirement 401k account. The bank in charge, in cooperation with the company, takes a portion of the weekly pay check prior to taxes and invests it. The company gives an incentive to employees by matching 50 cents for every dollar invested, up to 3% of the weekly pay check. I elected to contribute 4% of my earnings every week, but of course that is supposed to increase the more money I earn. But for now, it's a fair percentage. I am investing back in the company and the bank, and in return I receive free money from the company and the interest it all earns in the market.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to open an IRA account through Discover Bank. I have had a Discover credit card since my first year of college, and it has been a very positive experience working with Discover. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to invest in an on-line bank; the idea of not having a brick-and-mortar building to go into was a little strange. But hey, you can do that with renting movies, and a lot of people get their prescriptions by mail order; how different is this? I wouldn't have just picked any old bank though; I picked Discover because I have been a customer of theirs for over 5 years, and have come to trust their practices. Not only that, but their rates are so much higher than any bank I had found around here, so that was a major bonus. Their IRAs are invested similarly to CD accounts, so I chose a 10-year ROTH IRA CD account. The 10-year CD had the highest interest rate, and since the money invested was taken out of my "don't touch this unless completely necessary" savings account, I figured I could do without that money for at least 10 years, if necessary.

A thought that kept occurring to me when I considered investing in retirement was that I didn't want to end up like one of those elderly people that still had to work. It's one thing to want to work at that age, but to rely completely on that income was a little scary for me. There is so much talk about Social Security not being around when I reach retirement age, and I have to admit that's a little bit scary. But, I choose to be proactive instead of reactive, and these two options I chose are my ways of doing so. I don't want this blog to turn political, but I know some of my readers choose to do so; I just hope that our lawmakers do something to fix the problems associated with Social Security to ensure that my generation and my parents' generation can still rely on that money. And that's as political as this post gets.

By the way, this is my 150th post on Blogger! I just wanted to send a most sincere Thank You to all the readers that I have gained in the last 5 years. Most of you are family and friends, some of whom I have never met or haven't seen in years. This is a great way to keep in touch and to let everyone know what's going on and what I'm thinking about. I hope you have enjoyed all these post as much as I have, and I look forward to many, many more to come! I'm not sure if I'll ever catch up to Kathy, but I do intend to try, so see you soon!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Heat Is On

I am not a fan of the heat. I only like the hot months because it means I can go swimming and get some sun to this pale skin. Also, it's nice to step outside and see plants in full bloom and animals frolicking everywhere. But I do NOT do well in the heat.

As if anyone needed reminding, many areas in the country are seeing record high temperatures. As a result, this is putting a strain on the aging power grids, especially on the east coast. According to the news tonight, many cities are seeing record energy usage, most of which I can imagine is being used to keep everyone cool during those 100-degree days. Here in Tennessee, we haven't seen any 100-degree days yet, but with today's high being 98, I'll bet those days are coming soon.

In our house, we set the thermostat to 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter (at least that's what I set it as; sometimes I find it changed to accommodate someone else's "need" for a little extra air or heat). Since we got a digital thermostat, we have been able to control our energy usage a little better. As compared to years past, we are saving about 10-15% on our energy bills every month, which really does add up over the course of a year. I (almost) always turn off lights if no one is in a room, and don't leave electronics turned on if I'm not using them. While we don't have compact fluorescent bulbs in all our lights, I have two lamps in my room that use them, and when our current ones run out, I intend to get the energy-efficient ones. Yes, they do cost more initially, but they last so much longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs, and therefore save money in the long run.

So what was the point of this post? I'm sure I won't be influencing anyone to do anything different or to enlighten anyone with novel ideas. My point, and I do have one, is to share what I do to conserve energy. I truly believe that if every household were to follow similar principles, there would be so many fewer problems with energy, not to mention saving everyone a little bit of money. Personally, I have never witnessed a blackout (knock on wood), and I intend to never experience one, but I think we can all agree that preventing those would be a plus. Even small steps can make a huge difference, so I guess I'm challenging everyone to do what they can in their own lives to make a difference nationwide. What do you think?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Work in Progress

Most of my readers are my "friends" on Facebook and already know most of the goings-on in my life, but for those who do not, here is some more information about the work that has been going on, well, at work.

I passed my PTCE (Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam) on May 1st, and got my results about two weeks later in the mail. I earned a weighted score of 830 out of 900, which when compared to a standard 100-point scale gives me an A-! I was really proud of myself for doing well, since I obviously was well-prepared and had great mentors (my two pharmacists) to help me.

Now that I am certified, I can do more within the pharmacy. I am now able to take prescriptions over the phone from doctors and give/receive transfer prescriptions from other pharmacies. Of course, everything I do is still overseen by the pharmacist-on-duty, but just the fact that I can be more helpful is a good thing. I am learning a lot more about the various and sundry drugs that exist out there in the pharmaceutical world, and let me tell you, there are a lot of them.

One of the problems, however, that arises when taking prescriptions over the phone is trying to understand what the person is saying. The actual doctor will almost never call in the prescription themselves (I have only gotten one from the doctor herself), which means you are usually talking to the nurse or the receptionist. Nurses are, for the most part, very knowledgeable about drugs, but receptionists, on the other hand, may or may not be well-informed. Now, there are three types of calls that we will take regarding phoned-in prescriptions, whether they are taken live or from voicemail (I have only taken voicemails so far):

1. The caller speaks clearly and slowly, spelling out the patient's name and the drug(s) prescribed, and perhaps the doctor's name if it is difficult, and leaves a phone number or other contact information. These messages I usually have to listen to twice to get everything since I am still new to this, but that's still pretty good.

2. The caller is a "speed demon" that wants to get everything done fast and NOW! This is usually because there is a stack of scripts that need to be called in and the person is either getting ready to leave or to go to lunch. This person speeds through everything quickly, usually in less than a minute, and I will need to listen to this message a minimum of 4 times to get everything.

3. The caller is uninformed or otherwise ignorant about the drugs being prescribed, and perhaps even the patient for whom they are prescribed. The name of the patient and the name of the drug will be mispronounced, the person stutters when reading off the SIG codes (the abbreviations used to describe the dosage schedule, etc), and perhaps the drugs and directions are utterly incomprehensible. This might take two of us listening to it several times to decipher what is going on there.

So, I am learning more about how to take these messages effectively, and for now am having the pharmacists review my written scripts, since everything must be written down in order to have a hard copy and paper trail.

Recently, I was given extra hours in the pharmacy as a result of our increased business. I had originally been given only 10 hours a week, in which I spent just a couple hours during my five-day work week in the pharmacy. The remainder of my hours I got from working a cash register or whatever else the managers needed me to do. I hate, HATE that arrangement! I wish I could get all my hours in the pharmacy (and I will this fall once our store's renovations are complete), but for now I have to run around like a chicken with it's head cut off to find something to do. My hours were increased to 20 per week, so now I have two 8-hour days and three days with the same "normal" schedule. I just need to be more patient about the hours, since I really do want them, but as Kathy would say, I digress.

The other major task I took within the past few weeks was to incorporate all of our inventory into alphabetical order. Before our manager started, everything was shelved according to alphabetical order of the brand name drug, which was difficult since many of our drugs haven't been brand name for a decade or more. The inventory was then changed to straight alphabet before I started in January, but there were still special sections for liquids, injections, inhalation drugs (mostly for asthma), trans-dermal systems, and drugs used in the ears, eyes, and nose. I incorporated everything but the ears, eyes, and nose drugs (since it is easier to keep those together) into our shelves, which was a great undertaking, but also helped the pharmacy manager create a hormone/prenatal vitamin section, since those products change so quickly and have so many various forms. By doing all of these changes, we hoped that any visitor (fill-in pharmacist or technician) would be able to find exactly what they needed quickly to serve the patients.

So, as you can see, there has been a lot of work in progress for me. The next chapter in this story involves filling in at one of the other Ingles pharmacies in the Knoxville area for a few Saturdays this summer, while their technicians take vacations. Fortunately for me, this will take away the amount of hours I will spend running a cash register, etc., I will get more experience, and I will also be paid mileage for my travel (approx. 25 miles one-way)! Win, win, win for Sean. At any rate, I am looking forward to finally being full-time this fall, and I am thoroughly enjoying my time in this new position. Who would have thunk it that I would enjoy a job so much that I didn't even know I wanted?!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Harry Potter

I never really understood why people said things like, "The movie was good, but the book was better..."

...until I started reading Harry Potter.

I had seen all the movies based on the first six books before I ever read the books all the way through. We had gotten a paperback version of the first book many years ago, but I never got passed the first few chapters back then. (Why that was, I couldn't tell you. Maybe I just had this thing against reading back then...) After the sixth movie came out, and I saw it in theaters twice, I decided it was time to start reading the books. I had become so swept away by the story, and I wanted to read the last book before the last movie came out. I just wanted to know so badly how the series ended, and I wasn't patient enough to wait a year and a half to find out.

So, I set a goal for myself: read all seven books before the first installment of the last movie comes out in December 2010. When I set this goal last summer, I had every intention of taking my time, and needing the year and a half to finish all seven. After all, several of the books surpass 700 pages, and my history with reading is such that I wasn't confident that I could finish in less time. However, I must have underestimated myself!

What I had set out to do in a year and a half I finished in less than three months. I would work my 4-11 shifts, come home, and read chapter after chapter, sometimes as late as 2:00 in the morning! I was so enamored by the subject matter that I could literally not put the books down. If I had any spare moments during the day, I read. Before I went to bed, I read. After I got up in the morning, I read.

This was also when I discovered just how great the library is. I didn't want to go out and spend money I didn't have on books (if I was going to buy them, I wanted brand-new books in hardback covers), so I came to the realization that the library was the perfect place to get them without having to spend a penny out of pocket! I was re-discovering something I had known as a child: that the library is a great place. I could pick up a book, take my time to read it, bring it back, and pick up the next one! If my local library didn't have it, they could get it from another library in the system. What a great system!

Now that the release of the last movie is approaching, I have decided once again to read all the books before it comes out. This time around, however, I have less free time to read now that I am working more "full-time" hours. But, I am determined to finish to make sure all the details are fresh in my mind when I sit down to watch the last movies. So far, the movies have not disappointed me after reading the books, though of course now I can truthfully say, "The book was better." I cannot recommend these books more to anyone out there that hasn't read them, and I am so glad there are people out there that have such great imaginations to come up with great literature like Harry Potter.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post, and especially to everyone who suggested a title. I have decided to use my grandfather's idea (actually, they were Adrienne's words!) for me title, so the title of my blog will now be "Sean - Staying Upbeat and Positive." Even though the title will make little difference in the content of my blog, a good title is always important, since that is the "catch" that draws in readers. I hope that the new title will better reflect the theme of my blog posts, in that I try to find the "silver lining" (thanks, Uncle Tim!) in even the hardest of circumstances. To all my loyal readers, stay tuned for a "real" post coming soon!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Your Opinions???

Recently I changed the title of my blog to "Sean - Living and Laughing It Up." I just wanted to know what my opinionated readers thought of that change. The reason I wonder is because I'm still not sure how I feel about it! If you don't particularly like it, would you have any suggestions as to what it should be titled? Any suggestions would be welcome, so give it your best shot. Maybe I should think up a prize for the reader that suggests the best title...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

God's Country

It's no secret to anyone that I am a snow lover. This is unfortunate because I live in the South, and snow is hard to come by most of the time. However, we get these few instances when the temperature is right and a good storm system moves in to produce that glorious precipitation!

This occurred just last night, and of course I couldn't have been more excited. The tricky part about this snowstorm was that I was at work while it was snowing, and this area is not equipped to deal with ice and snow as well as others. There are several hills between where I work and where we live, so that would become difficult should the roads ice over. Luckily, we received only a little bit of ice, and I was able to maneuver all the hills easily; I was born to drive in the snow! (That's snow, NOT ice...)

I was also fortunate to have Saturday and Sunday off this week, so I am able to enjoy all the beauty from the comfort of home. And what would a good snowstorm be without a few pictures, you say? My sentiments exactly, so enjoy!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New Job Opportunity

Several months ago, my Store Manager asked me if I would be interested in a Pharmacy Tech position if one were to ever become available. I said that I would indeed be interested in that opportunity, though at the time I figured that I wouldn't be sticking around long enough to be offered that position. I figured that it would be at least a year or more before such a position would come around. I wouldn't want to wait around forever, since I have more things that I want to do than count money in a grocery store for the rest of my life.

But I didn't have to wait around forever! Just a couple weeks ago, my Store Manager again approached me and said that a Pharmacy Tech position would become available at the beginning of 2010, and that the job was mine if I wanted it. Well I really didn't know what to say at first, because I hadn't been expecting to hear that at all just a short time after realizing the possibility. But after thinking it over and talking to the lead Pharmacist, I decided to accept the position!

So what will be happening in the near future? Our work and pay week begins on Wednesday and ends on Tuesday, and my first day in the Pharmacy will be Thursday. I will be trained on the Pharmacy's computer system and taught the ins and outs of working in a Pharmacy. At some point I was told I will need to memorize or at least learn all the medical abbreviations used when doctors write prescriptions, and I will also be learning brand names and common drug names that we dispense. I will also be charged with running the cash register; since I have worked with these kinds of registers for several years, this will not be a difficult task, however it will need to be synched with the Pharmacy software that keeps track of all the medications. I also expect that Customer Service will be a large part of this job, as well as communicating with doctors' offices and perhaps even suppliers. These are all things I will no doubt find out about on my first days of training. I will also at some point need to be certified through the state or whatever governing body oversees Pharmacies and the like, which I have been told involves a test; it is advisable to become certified since that enables one to both do more in the Pharmacy and make more money.

The down side of starting this new job will be that I have to train a replacement for my current job. I say this is a down side because I hate HATE training people to do my current job! It is a very daunting task that involves standing over some one's shoulder constantly to watch out for mistakes. The first day, I do pretty much everything myself the first time (since many tasks are repeated throughout the night) and allow the trainee to assist me or perform one of those repeated tasks on his or her own. By the second day, the trainee should be doing most of the tasks alone, all the while asking questions and getting help from me when needed, which I am prepared to step in at all times. By the third day, the trainee should be able to do just about everything, albeit at a slower pace than someone with more experience, but with minimal help and asking questions.

After about one work week of training, all the tasks should be routine, but by that point troubleshooting and problem solving strategies might need to be reinforced. Usually these nights run over our normal shift time, but in the end it pays off if the trainee is able to do all the tasks the job entails with little or no help from others. However, it can sometimes be frustrating to the trainer to deal with time constraints when the trainee is not up to speed yet. On one hand, if I do the work, it will be done on time and I can get home at a reasonable hour, but the trainee learns nothing. On the other hand, the trainee does everything while I stand and do nothing and I get home very late, but the trainee learns how to do the job better. A good balance of these two scenarios leads to an efficient and manageable training session.

So how do I feel about this new opportunity? I am very excited! For one, this opportunity allows me the chance to get experience in a field related to my degree. This will allow me to be a better candidate when applying to schools in the future, and will also help in future job endeavors. Secondly, this can be a perfect opportunity to obtain a professional reference and a personal contact with registered Pharmacists should I need such references or contacts with future school or job endeavors. Lastly, this will mean more money in my paychecks since a move to this job will involve a pay raise, and who can really argue with a pay raise when someone wants to give you one?

Well, there it is, my new job opportunity! I am really looking forward to it, and am excited to see what is in store. Something I should also mention is that this position is only allotted 10 hours a week right now, so after I am trained I will be spending 2-3 hours a day in the Pharmacy for as many days as it takes to fill those 10 hours. My remaining time will be filled by going back to the front and running one of the regular cash registers. This is the plan for the near future, until such time as our store and Pharmacy are expanded and the number of hours allotted increases to a full-time level. I will, of course, keep everyone posted about the developments in this new experience, and I hope you will all keep me in your prayers that I can do all of my new duties to the best of my ability.