Brian and Susan

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So…what exactly do you do? June 26, 2008

Filed under: Work — Brian @ 10:13 pm

I get this question a lot, and I’ve never really thought of a good short answer.  So here’s the long one.  By title, I’m an IT Analyst I.  It pretty much just means I mostly mess around with technology all day while also keeping up with the normal stuff of just working in an office – going to team meetings, writing up weekly reports, going to lunch, writing  yearly goals, etc.

More specifically, I work for Caterpillar Financial, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the extremely massive Fortune 100 equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, Inc., based in Peroria, IL.  To give an idea of what our main business is, let’s say your old family D9 is getting pretty outdated and your spouse has become embarrassed having to drive it around because all his or her friends have the newer models already.  You really need something you can comfortably sit the small kids in while you’re excavating your front yard.  So you go to a CAT dealer to buy a newer, more powerful D10:

D10.  Under $1 million!  What a steal!
D10. Under $1 million! What a steal!

Now, you’re probably going to want some financing to go with it.  You could get a loan from some other place like a bank, credit union, shady guy in an alley OR you could get a loan from CAT Financial.  Hopefully you choose the latter because of the superior quality and service you can get from being financed by the people who also happen to know the product the best.  (That option also helps pay my bills).  CAT Financial also does things like insure equipment (includes interesting things like semi-truck engines and boat engines), resell used equipment, recycle parts of old equipment, manage transporting machines around the world depending on dealer inventory.  Fun fact: the owner of the most pieces of CAT equipment is actually Caterpillar Financial.  Maintaining a tight control on these machines allows CAT to also keep a tight control on quality, which protects a very strong brand image.

As for me, I’m currently in the IT department on the Storage Support Team.  The computer you’re reading this on has a hard drive in it, probably with somewhere between 50-200GB of space.  If you don’t have a reference for what that means, you can probably fit about 40,000 average-sized MS Word documents in 1GB.  I deal with servers in my job.  Those servers need hard drives, too.  Rather than put hard drives in each one, we have giant electronic cabinets that hold hundreds and hundreds of hard drives.  The servers are connected to these central cabinets using fibre optic cables and get their storage from them.  We manage about 140TB of storage, which will be over 200 easily by next year.

Still figuring out how to fit one in my house...

I spend a lot of time doing things like: configuring space allocation for storage requests, configuring switches, writing scripts for tedious tasks, writing insane SQL queries to create cool reports, upgrading firmware, troubleshooting backup issues, and replacing bad parts.  Fortunately, I don’t have to do a lot of evening or weekend work like the server admins do.

By January I’m scheduled to be moving to another team – an applications team.  It will be much more software-oriented, probably doing more programming.  While I don’t like the idea of being a huge noob all over again, I’m excited to learn stuff like .NET.  One of the most significant things about moving is that I get to move back to the nice headquarters building downtown, so Susan and I should be able to do some carpooling.  My team was moved out into the data center building last August as part of a reorg thing.  I’m ready to be back in the main building.

Oh, I also occasionally do things like write blog entries instead of doing actual work.  Heh.


I Bring Tamale

Filed under: Work — Susan @ 4:30 am

I thought I would try to start to remember some funny things that have happened so far in my nursing career as I have told the stories but not written them down. Here’s one of my favorites from my last job:

Scenario: Me taking care of a Hispanic family with pretty decent English, in clinic for a stomach bug in their daughter.

Mom: “When I call they say you have lab.”
Me: “Yes, we have a lab, and we can perform certain lab tests if we need them and send out others we can’t complete here.”
Mom: “Ok. I think she sick because of tamale she ate yesterday. Could this be?”
Me: “It’s certainly possible that she could have gotten sick after eating a tamale, but…”
Mom: “Ok, I want lab test.”
Me: “Well, I don’t think there are any lab tests we need on your daughter today as long as she stays well hydrated.”
Mom: “No, not for her. (reaches into diaper bag and pulls out large square of aluminum foil) I bring tamale.”

This same family was very opposed to seeing an NP when I first started. I think they forgot that I was an NP, as at the end of this visit the mom said, “Oh, you getting good at this now! You fast! You almost doctor, right?” I had explained that I was an NP in the past, and this day I said, “no, I am a nurse practitioner…” mom: “yeah but you almost doctor right? You good now!” I thought for a second, and was like, “sure…I’m almost a doctor” meaning that we have similar job descriptions. It was much easier than explaining the role of an NP. One of the office workers stated that in Mexico there is no word for nurse practitioner, so it is a confusing term for many people not from this country. After that visit that family was fine seeing me!

Also of note, we did not draw labs on the tamale 🙂


Water Off a Duck’s Back

Filed under: Work — Susan @ 4:25 am

In clinic this week I encountered my first family at Vanderbilt that did not want to see me (because I’m an NP and not a doctor). This happened more than a few times in school and in my last job, but it still stings every time.

Today was the worst – I walked in and said hello to the family, and immediately the mom says, “We saw you last time and you gave us a lot of misinformation, and we don’t want to see you again.” Um, I’m 100% certain that their last visit was 6 months ago and I didn’t even work there at the time. I told them that they had not seen me before, and they said “well it was another NP and we didn’t like her either and we’d prefer not to speak to anyone but the doctor.” Also 100% sure that their last visit was with a resident, aka MD, not an NP. Either way they refused to see me.

I know not to take it personally, but it still gets me a little. I hate that they had a previous unsatisfactory visit, but I had nothing to do with it, and what they (and many others) don’t realize is that all good NPs are great at knowing what they don’t know – meaning I will always get the doctor if there is anything I am unsure of. I know I am biased, but I love the role of the NP. Most patients don’t mind seeing an NP at all, and many even prefer it! To each his own…I just still need to work on the whole “like water off a duck’s back” thing.


How Does Your Garden Grow?

Filed under: Play,Work — Susan @ 4:22 am

Brian and I now have this great yard and would love to have a garden; thing is, we know nothing about gardening. My great co-workers at MCC decided to jump-start our gardening hobby by giving me everything but soil as my going away gift. I couldn’t think of a more thoughtful gift – some people gave parts of plants from their own gardens or plants that are meaningful to them.

Due to the temporal nature of plants with limited space for roots, Brian and I dove right in and with the generous help of my family, added on to our existing flower bed in the front lawn. Here are a few photos from our garden party.

Original post 5-15-08


Status Post Recent Change

Filed under: Play,Work — Susan @ 4:09 am

May has been an eventful month thus far.

May 1: My last official day at Mercy. What an amazing last day! My co-workers were so encouraging and kind – they threw a surprise lunch fiesta with incredible authentic Mexican food, a very funny (and sweet!) group poem, and a gift I never expected…more on that in a later post.

May 3: Sister-in-law Stephanie graduates from MTSU. Hooray for the amazing teacher to be! She also found out that she will have a job at the school she’d hoped to work for. Great news! (update 6-25-08: turns out that Stephanie didn’t get the job she wanted due to a relative working at the school, so she is currently searching for something wonderful which I’m sure she will find!)

May 9: My graduation from Vanderbilt. Even though I finished school 9 months ago my graduation ceremony wasn’t until now so that the school of nursing would graduate with the rest of Vanderbilt University – a much larger group than I had thought! It was very Hogwarts-esque with lots of pomp and circumstance and funny hats. The ceremony was outdoors…the weather was perfect!

May 11: Happy Mother’s Day!

May 13: My 24th birthday!

In the past couple of days Brian has found out that he will move to the downtown building so we will be able to carpool to work starting in September…I am so looking forward to spending that time with one another. Half way through the month and look at all that has gone on…we are very happily busy.

Original post 5-15-08


Temporary Kitty

Filed under: Play — Susan @ 4:02 am

Recently we volunteered to cat-sit for a friend from work. She belongs to an animal rescue group that had found the cat in an abandoned trailer. Not knowing what we were getting into, we brought an adorable year-old bengal cat home with us for about a week. The first night we had him my allergies went haywire…I’m hoping it is a temporary effect! In the clinic world, when a patient comes in for, lets say, an ear infection, and as your walking out the door they mention that they have had problems paying attention in school, we call that an “oh by the way,” or OBTW for short. This was a cat with an OBTW.

He is the most playful cat we had ever known. He would stalk us and run and jump…sometimes with claws beared, onto us. However, he had a strange habit of suddenly hissing at himself and acting very strange, followed by being very cuddly. We took him to the vet as these episodes were becoming more frequent and he appeared to be pretty bothered by them. The vet did some X-rays and told us that he had some old fractures in his leg and hip and recommended surgery (!) There’s the OBTW for ya!

Thankfully, when we returned the cat to our friend, she took him to her vet who said that he would hold off on surgery, as the cat is compensating for his injuries so well. He said surgery would set him back rather than allow him to move forward. Great news! The kitty will soon be in a no-kill animal shelter called Happy Tales until he finds a good home. He was a great practice cat…other than being afraid to turn a corner for fear that the cat would pounce and cling to my thigh, it was a positive experience. Here’s to hoping my allergies don’t go crazy when we get the permanent kitty!

Original date 4-5-08


Job Change

Filed under: Work — Susan @ 3:59 am


I have worked at this clinic for a year and a half (7 months as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner) and have enjoyed the opportunity to learn and grow, and to help the underserved


After I graduated from MTSU school of nursing, I received a full-tuition scholarship to go here to become a PNP. As part of the scholarship I am supposed to serve two years working…

Here! I am excited to have the opportunity to work at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital…a wonderful opportunity not only to repay my scholarship requirements, but to work in such a neat place.

I hold VCH very near to my heart as I spent quite a bit of time there in my middle school years for these medical issues:

That’s the latest update for me…I will start the new job officially on April 21st. Hope it goes well! God bless!

Original post 4-5-08