Thursday, December 28, 2006


I just got back today from a trip home for Christmas. While visiting with friends and family, I realized just how much I have changed and grown since I moved to Dublin. When visiting with friends, they all talked about work a lot. Since I used to work with many of them, it was nice to catch up with them about what was going on at my former employer, which also made me feel better about my decision to leave.

I also saw the friend that I was going to go work for had I not moved to Ireland. She works about 70 hours a week and has little time for anything else. She realizes that this is too much but can't seem to work less or say no to people. Had I not moved, that would have been me as well. That was me (ok, more like 50-60 hours a week) before I moved. Now I have balance in life. I don't think that I could go back to the workaholic ways. More importantly, I don't want to go back to being a workaholic. I am a far more balanced person and have a better quality of life here. People are always surprised that my quality of life is better in Dublin but we are focussed on making the most out of life.

The other thing that struck me while home is that I am between worlds. I don't really fit in at home anymore because I have changed. I also don't really fit into Irish society yet. My word choices have changed and of course people at home found it amusing to hear me talk now. I really don't know how to explain the feeling of being between cultures. I tried to explain it to a couple people but wasn't really successful. The best I can say is that I have started to adopt some Irish attitudes but haven't fully acculturated yet.

While home, a lot of people asked if we were moving back when my work authorization is up in May 2007. It was difficult to tell people that we don't plan to move back. We don't really have any plans. We are just going with the flow. If we get homesick, we'll move back. Otherwise, we'll keep enjoying our Irish experiences. Actually, this is another massive change in me. I used to plan everything. I used to have a definite plan for my career. Now, I still have the goal but if I don't get there, I believe in what I am doing. I believe in my work more than I did at home. At home, I was helping people. Here I feel like I am making more of a difference and that is why I went into the field.

Happy New Year all and thank you loyal (and new) readers!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Made it to google!

Periodically, I do a google search for my blog. I have never found it before even though it should be there since it is a blogger account (affiliated with google). One of my friends said that she had googled my blog and that it was way down on the list but there. Today, I did a google search and my blog was first! The description had an old entry, but it linked to the whole blog (not just the entry)!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Adventures in "Customer Service"

After leaving work today, I had to go do some last minute shopping. I am not a huge fan of shopping in Dublin because the customer service is usually bad. By bad, I mean employees may ignore me or be downright rude.

Before heading home, I went to the train station. I had purchased a one-day bus and train ticket earlier this month but hadn't used it. The tickets similar to these I have purchased before were from the bus company. So, I went to put my ticket in the ticket machine to let me into the area so that I could go to the platform to wait for the train. I put the card in. It beeped and said something about being expired. I looked closer at my ticket. It had a date stamped on it that was the date I got it. Since I was late for my chiropractor appointment, I just paid in cash to get on the train.

When leaving the chiropractor office, I told the man at the train station about the ticket. He said that the train company (who I purchased this one from) always stamps a date on their tickets. If it was not today's date, there was nothing I could do. He also asked me why I purchased it for that day. I tried to explain that no one told me it was for a specific day and when you get the tickets from the bus company, they don't have a date on them. Basically, he expected me to somehow know that there would be a date on the ticket even though in the past there hadn't been. He then explained that the bus and train are different companies and therefore do things differently. He would not let me on the train without paying an additional fee. Therefore, I am out 8.50 because the train company does things differently than the bus company and I am expected by the train company to know when I plan to use a ticket that should be able to be used for a day of my choosing (without advance planning).

Anyway, after getting into city centre and going to the bank, I went to my next errand. I went into the mobile phone store to get a charger and try to get my phone unlocked so that I could make calls and send texts while I am in America. I waited in line (with the people behind me so close that they kept bumping into me) to explain what I wanted. The woman took my phone, looked at it a bit, and then turned it off. She took out the battery and said that it wasn't the right type of phone to work in America. She then got another guy who said that the only way I could use a phone of theirs in America was if I had monthly bill pay (I pay as I use the phone). He said that there was no roaming agreement with the U.S. and this is clearly stated online. He said that Vodaphone has never had a roaming agreement with the US even though multiple people in other stores have told me otherwise. He was not going to do anything to my phone (even though it is locked to not allow me to make certain calls like those in the U.S.). He just kept saying the same things over and over in a more agitated way. I rolled my eyes and then turned to the woman and told her that I still needed my phone charger.

While I was waiting to pay for the phone charger, a woman tried to return her phone. The salesperson asked why she wanted to return the phone. The customer tried to explain. The sales lady then turned to another salesperson and asked if he could understand the customer because she couldn't understand a word the customer was saying. She said this in front of the customer! The customer still tried to explain why she didn't want the phone. When this didn't work because the sales lady just kept saying "huh" or "wha?" she started using one or two word answers.

On a more positive note, the rest of my shopping went better.

On an update, I can definitely receive phone calls and texts while in America. I haven't tried sending anything yet. Vodaphone may be sophisticated enough to not let me do that...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Training: what to do

I have gone to many different types of training. One thing that annoys me during presentations is poor organization. So, here are my suggestions on how to give a better presentation:
+ Use lots of visuals
+ If you are going to give a copy of your PowerPoint presentation as a handout, either follow it or tell the audience that you aren't going to follow it
+ Don't jump all around your power point presentation. I know, this is really the same as the last one but it annoys me
+ Give movement/stretch breaks
+ Do case studies/practical activities to illustrate your points
+ Give lots of practical suggestions on how this could directly relate to one's work
+ Provide a schedule of the events for the day
+ Allow time for discussion and facilitate discussion of the topic
+ When using PowerPoint, do more than read your slides. I can read your slides. I want you to expound on what is on the slides
+ Put key information on the handouts

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tourists be Gone!

While we toured the fortress in Salzburg, we came across an armory room. When we walked to the other side of the room, we saw that the spears were being thrown at a video of tourists!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas Markets

As I mentioned in a previous post, we went to Salzburg for the Christmas markets and we spent lots of time at them. They were quite a bit bigger than Munich's market last year which was nice. The markets are also spread out around the old town. There is one main market that is by Dom Platz. However, there are also little markets/stalls around the city so you find little mini markets while wandering around.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

In Salzburg as well as Dublin, that is. Salzburg was decorated beautifully for Christmas. There were Nativity scenes in front of the Residenz Platz and a few other places in the city. There were lights all over. People got to ice skate. John took the ice skating picture and that blur is a person skating.


Last weekend, we went to Salzburg Austria to check out their Christmas markets. The city was beautiful and we did a bit of site seeing as well. We were a bit disappointed that some sites closed quite early, though (like 2:30 early).

Friday, November 24, 2006

Tube feeding

Throughout my career, I have worked with a number clients who testing (called a video swallow study) determined weren't safe to eat and/or drink food. Usually, we then recommend to the parents that they talk to the doctor about having the child set up with non-oral feeds (tube feeding). Sometimes the families agree, sometimes they insist on continuing with oral feeding even if tests show it isn't safe. It is generally accepted that the parents have the ultimate decision. As a speech therapist, it is then my job to work with the dietitian to see how the client can be the safest possible and be as close as possible to meeting nutritional needs. However, sometimes there is no type of food or drink that is thought to be safe. In previous jobs, we have then required parents to come in and feed the children while at school because the school staff would not take on that risk (these are extreme cases).

Now, people often wonder two things about the decision making process for non-oral feeding. One, why would a parent protest non-oral feeding methods if oral intake isn't safe or enough to meet nutritional needs? The answer is that feeding/eating is often the one "typical" thing that a child can do. If a child can't eat/drink, then they are perceived as even more disabled. There are a lot of emotions around that. On some level, I think it also means that the child is/could be sick and could die. That is scary. Additionally, eating is a very social occasion. People who don't eat orally miss out on a lot of social opportunities. Finally, it is often seen as a quality of life issue. People frequently enjoy eating and caregivers think that we are "taking that away" from the client if the doctors put in a tube for feeding (usually a surgical procedure into the stomach).

The second thing people often wonder is why parents are given the control over the issue, especially if the child has recurrent pneumonia caused by aspiration (food/drink entering the lungs) or is malnourished. If a child is malnourished or not safe to eat and the parents are refusing treatment, is this then medical neglect? That one I don't really know the answer to. I can see that side of the argument but at the same time I see the family's struggle with the acceptance of the level of difficulty the child is having.

Also, for some children, this is how the child always was so it is perceived that the professionals are creating the problem. It is really a difficult balancing act between trying to do what is best for the child and helping the parents decide what really is best. Just because a feeding tube can be inserted and extend the quantity of someone's life doesn't mean that it always should be. Their quality of life may decrease (especially if they are sick or really enjoyed eating). The child may be medically fragile and a surgical placement of a tube may be too risky.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

So adorable!

Since I have been crazy busy lately, I haven't been able to post pictures that I took about three weeks ago of the kitties. I need to focus on the Christmas show that I am organizing and the Christmas party...

Anyway, as I started saying, the cats get along really well. The pictures prove it. Aren't they so adorable?