July 21, 2015

Apologies And Admissions

So.  Last week, I announced that Gakkou Gurashi was to be the subject of my next foray into Episodic Writeup territory.  Further, I declared that "I should have the writeup done on Saturday."  The sharper-eyed of you may have noticed that, in fact, no such thing has occurred.  There is, of course, an obvious and understandable reason for that bit of fail, but it doesn't explain the ever-increasing amount of time that a writeup hasn't been posted.

Part of it is the incredible mental exhaustion I feel when I come home from work.  Claims processing is hard... a lot harder than I expected.  I'm catching on, but it still requires a lot of concentration.  I've learned that a couple hours worth of naptime when I come home is nearly a must for me to have any sort of functionality in the evening.  There's also a general malaise that's come over me the past... oh, lets call it just under a week.  And by "malaise", I mean "screw everything." 

Does it sound like I'm making excuses?  I suppose it should, since I guess I am.  Sorry about all of it.  "Don't be sorry, just do the writeup."  Yeah, it works exactly like that all the time.

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July 14, 2015

Content Free Posting!

Let me tell you a little something about not a whole lot.  Once upon a time, I was born a poor black child I was very very young indeed when my parents decided to get a pet.  Momzerduck, my father and I lived in an small-ish apartment, converted from the second floor of a house if I remember correctly, and I may not for I was very very young indeed.  Anyway, back then it was still safe to let kids play outside, and we did just that... I clearly remember Big Wheels races down the sidewalk, turn around in a neighbor's driveway, back down the sidewalk, then turn back using the inclined banking of a decorative hill leading into a garage... a dumbbell shape.  I have no idea how I used to do... I was very very young and was not into racing just yet, though one of my clearest memories of childhood was Evel Knievel's attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in his SkyCycle X-2.  He didn't make it.  I remember watching it on a black-and-white tv... it was 1974.  Kids, ask your parents what a black-and-white tv is.  Parents, laugh at your kids.  Anyway, I would have been six at the time, which gibes with my memory.  But none of this has anything to do with the story of the pet.  Or the Big Wheels races.  Those were fun, until one day a kid showed up with a brand spankin' new Green Machine.  Once he figured out how to steer without flipping over like NASCAR having a bad day at Daytona, nobody could beat him... the built-in "spin-out feature" made the turns a piece of cake, and the straightaways?  Man he was fast.

Yeah, like that.  For all I know the Big Wheels races are still going on back there, though I doubt it.  We moved to Evanston, then Des Plaines, then Duckford, all within the space of a couple of years after that.  But the pet!  Yes, yes, the pet.  We went to the Humane Society, or to the pound, or something like that, and we got a kitten.  Oh, yeah, I would have been even younger when this happened... four years old or thereabouts.  Yes, this is important.  Take notes.  I don't remember the criteria used to select said kitten, but very quickly it became clear that I was smitten with the kitten, and the reverse was more-or-less the case.  It was a kitten, they're really "too much fluff, not enough brain" at that age to be obviously smitten with anything other than food and sleep.  Come to think of it, that really kinda describes me right now.  Hm.  Anyway, it was on the way home that I got to name the kitten.  After looking at it for a little bit, my four-year-old brain sludged up "Marbles."  Because his eyes from the side looked exactly like... marbles.  Cat's-eye marbles, to be exact.  Kids, ask your parents.  Parents, sigh sadly and wonder where you went wrong.  Now, I'm never one to tootle my own horn vigorously, but looking back at my four-year-old self, I have to be impressed by the way I made that connection, even if it wasn't entirely intentional... y'know, four-year-olds are much like kittens: "fluff, brain".   But yet, there I was.  And there we were.

Very few, if any, photographs of Marbles exist, because he was just too awesome for film.  Or we didn't have a camera, one of the two.  Anyway, very quickly he and I became completely inseparable, a friendship that lasted until I was 21 and he was 17.  Marbles was not a "center of attention" cat.  Oh, don't get me wrong, he was more than happy to be skritched for extended periods of time, but he was perfectly content to just hang out with me while I did whatever it was I was doing.  Homework?  He'd be lazing on the table near the books.  Reading on the couch?  He'd be stretched along the top of the couch... or he'd force himself between my leg and the back of the couch, whichever.  Out in the backyard?  He'd be there, keeping an eye on the birds... just in case.  Of course when I went to sleep, he'd curl up against the small of my back.  And when I went to catch the school bus, he'd walk with me to the stop, wait with me until the bus showed up, and then watch the bus pull away.  He did this for years, to the point that I wondered what he did after the bus left.  So one day in my senior year of high school, I found out.  I made arrangements with the bus driver to leave the emergency exit at the back of the bus open.  Yes, it was a different time back then.  Anyway, he'd seen Marbles waiting with me for a few years himself, so he understood what I was talking about... so that day, I got on the bus as normal, walked the length of it, then got out the back door and hid behind a nearby car.  As the bus pulled away, Marbles looked totally normal, but when it turned the corner, he changed.  He got up, tail drooping and looking tired in general, and he walked... trudged... the two blocks back to the Old Home Pond, while I followed a discreet distance behind.  Eventually, he made it to our back yard where he made his way to the vicinity of the back porch and just laid down in a black and grey puddle.  He would have been 14, remember... pretty not young for a cat.  At that point, I stepped into the back yard and said "Hi, Marbles!"  Oh, what a transformation!  He snapped to his feet, his tail went straight up, and he jogged right to me and immediately headbumped my shin.  We spent the entire day in the sun, just doing Calvin-and-Hobbes-style things, with a couple of cans of tuna for him to boot.  It was great.  I was at work today, during a cigarette break (for everybody else... I just sat in the blissfully quiet training room with my eyes closed), when I realized that I missed him.  26 years, and I still remember the way he'd freak out over french fries, or the Great Thanksgiving Turkey Debacle... good times all. 

That's all.  No reason for it, just writing about Marbles.  Here's a cute girl for reading this far.

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July 12, 2015

Maintenance Weekend

After the past week, I kinda needed a break.  Here's a little how it went.  First was studying for the  big certification test to become a claims examiner.  Next was actually taking the test, which took me seven hours and I was far from the slowest in the class.  Not only did I pass the darn thing, but I might have discovered an error in how a particular claims situation is handled in the process.  If so, it would save the client company about 1/3rd of the normal payout for this type of claim.  Which is nice, and might very well earn me a pat on the head, but I was more concerned about getting the question right.  So after we all passed the test, we were let loose on actual claims processing.

This is almost exactly how claims processing is handled.
Four hours later, I had completed eight claims.  The target on the processing floor is about 30 per hour.  Looks like I've got a long way to go.  The second day was actually a little worse, doing 14 claims in eight hours.  The difference was that I was working through my problems on my own, trying to figure out answers to difficulties without asking the trainer... and largely succeeding.  All around me, my classmates were constantly barraging her with questions, and here I was, a pocket of quiet.  While it might have earned me brownie points with the trainer, it was hard.  The system is neither user-friendly or intuitive... for example, to most people "log off" means you're leaving the program altogether, but to this system, it essentially means "go back one page."  Not cool.  So after wrestling with that, the weekend was a welcome arrival.  And I slept.

I actually had stuff I needed to do... I have towels to wash, for example... but I could not bring myself to do them.  There was a four-hour long nap on Saturday evening, and an oh-my-heavens six-hour nap on Sunday.  If I didn't need 'em, they wouldn't have occurred.  Monday morning is coming quickly, with newly added pressure: we're supposed to be released to the production floor this week, and to do that you have to complete two groups of 10 claims perfectly.  And then we're on our own.

It could be worse.  I could be working retail.

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July 08, 2015

The Pond Turns Ten!

Today, July 8th, 2015, is the 10th birthday of Wonderduck's Pond!

This was actually the second iteration of The Pond, historically enough.  I originally began posting over on Blogger due to the prodding of the Official First Reader of The Pond, Mallory.  At the time, it was almost entirely Formula 1 stuff, with a little "life of a Duck" thrown in as well.  However, soon enough I wrote a little something about Azumanga Daioh, that apparently caught the eye of our Australian magical girl, Pixy Misa.  Pixy took pity on this poor duck and offered him space on the MuNuVia servers and a way out of the Blogger slums.  Of course I jumped at it, and the rest is a decade of history.

Ten years.  A lot has happened since 2005... good and bad... but through it all, the people I joshingly call the "Pond Scum" have been there.  Well, no, that's not entirely true... the Pond didn't take off until I annoyed SDB enough for him to start linking to me.  THEN the Pond Scum arrived.

And I couldn't be happier.  I've had a lot of fun writing the Pond, I've "met" a lot of great people, learned a lot of stuff, and managed to do something that only an infinitesimal percentage of bloggers have done: kept going for 10 years.  The Department of Pulling Statistics Out Of Our Arse tells us that only one out of every thousand blogs make it to their second month, one out of every 100,000 makes it a year... and one out of every gazillion lasts a decade. 

Even better, you guys don't seem to have gotten tired of it yet!   I may not be writing as often or as long as I used to, but the Pond Scum keeps coming back.  I couldn't be luckier.  Thank you, each and every one of you.  Yes, even you.  And you, there in the back holding the grapefruit and chicken.

I hope to have a retrospective post up tonight eventually (I had a seven-hour long certification test at work today.  As a result, I feel slightly less than chipper).  For now, though, let's put on our party hats, have some cake, listen to '80s music, and generally do silly things.  Thanks, guys.    

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July 02, 2015

Holy Crap, This Job...

I'm not going to complain about having a full-time job.  That would be ungrateful and inconsiderate of me, particularly after the past 11 month span where I couldn't find employment of any kind.  So please do understand me when I say I'm incredibly grateful to be employed.  But holy crap, this job.  I haven't even started doing the job I've been hired for yet.  Instead, the past two weeks have been learning the very raw basics on how to do it before they let us start doing it.  "But Wonderduck," I hear you say, because I have microphones scattered around your domicile and oh my god you really shouldn't sing like that in the shower or anywhere else for that matter, "isn't that good?  You'll know what you're doing!"  Sure, you'd think that, but here's what I've been learning:

The office looks something like this.  Except entirely different.
Medical terminology.  Billing codes.  Billing modifiers.  The medical insurance rules for an entire friggin' state.  What gets billed, how to do it, and how to turn them down.  How to approve, why to approve, and how the hell does ICD-9 427.0 have anything to do with a broken ankle anyway, and how did they manage to bill it like that?  Seriously, I'm asking 'cause that just ain't possible unless you're doing a HicPic D9220.  If you are, I have a request.  And every single day, something changes.  You think I'm kidding.  Believe me, I am being deathly serious.  I want to make something perfectly clear right now: I am a supporter of the Office of the President.  While I may (or may not) be a fan of who is the elected representative of that Office (as this is an American politics-free blog, I refuse to get into it), I respect the position he holds.  However, as a potential Medical Claims Examiner, I find myself in the position of being about to say something I've given others grief for saying: "Thanks, Obama!"  I can only imagine what it was like for those who had this job when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act first took effect.  It couldn't have been fun at all, because it sure as heck ain't fun now.

This is a friendly blog, so I won't show what I'm really wanting to do with a finger... if you're curious, google "flipping the bird"  That'll give you a start on it...
Some sharper-eyed readers amongst the assembled Pond Scum may have noted the word "potential" up there.  That's because I'm not one yet, and won't be until I pass my certification test.  Which involves either knowing everything in that library shown above, or knowing how to find the needed information quickly.  Very quickly.  Because when I'm actually on the floor I'll be paid by the claim, and spending ten minutes trying to figure out the difference between 996.81 and 969.71 would be very bad for my bank account.  And, it must also be said, the patient's bank account if I got them wrong.  Probably.  So everybody in my training class is furiously studying our notes, going through the Binders of Doom, and hoping our cheat sheets are right.  Because you don't want to know what happens to your employment status if you don't pass the test.

Studying furiously.  Really.  Furious.  Grr.  Let me see your war face!
As a result of all this, I leave the office feeling like I've been mentally hit by a truck, catapulted into the path of an oncoming train (express, not local), then deposited by the side of the track, there to be munched on by a passing fluffle of bunnies.  Then deposited by the side of the track again a few hours later, because that's how bunnies do.  As an example, I got home Wednesday around 5pm.  By seven, I was in bed, taking a short nap.  I blew through two alarms and woke up around midnight.  Then went back to bed an hour later, and slept until it was time to go back to work.  And then I came home tonight, had something to eat, and started to write this post.  Which, in a strange twist of fate, brings us to this very moment as I type this word.  And this one.  And these over here.  And this bit.  Ooh!  And the whole bunch at the end of this section of words between pictures.

"Is that all we are, pictures between sections of words?  Can we never be more than that?"
What I'm saying is, holy crap, this job.  I'm sure it was no different when I was starting out at the D**k U B**ks***e, but I'm not used to feeling this stupid.  Stupid, yes, that comes with the territory of being me, totally used to feeling stupid.  But not so stupid that I wonder if I can even tie my own shoes (Wonderduck's note: that may not be the best example, as I actually wasn't able to tie my own shoes in a butterfly knot until I was ten years old.  I possessed perhaps the worst fine motor skills in the world, and to be honest, I never got very good at the trick.  Today, I use shoes with velcro fasteners... these, to be exact, though in black.  Maybe the most comfy shoes I've ever owned, and durable?  I've got one pair that I wore to Orlando two years ago that still feel like new.), let alone be a claims processor.  Dumb as a box of hair, that's me!  Oh, and I'm also godawfully tired, and glad beyond words that this is a three-day weekend.  Speaking of tired, if you don't mind I do believe I'm going to go lie down for a few hours. 

"We mind.  We'd like to talk to you about this whole just pictures between sections of words thing..."
Yup, a nap is just what this lil' ol' Wonderduck is a-needin' 'round 'bout now...

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