Simply Irresistible

Simply Irresistible

I’m on this strange quest to appear more put-together when I go out in public… a quest that’s admittedly long-overdue. The liquid eyeliner was a good start, but then I went a little crazy and added some lipstick into the mix. Not just any lipstick, though – bright red lipstick.

Normally when I’m out, I try to blend in. I’ve gotten so good at it that I’m a gosh darn chameleon now – this is probably why I end up being used as a seat cushion on the bus sometimes, and why people seemingly don’t see me when I’m walking directly towards them. But it’s really hard to hide and blend in when your lips are the brightest shade of red you’ve ever seen (this, coming from someone whose volunteer wardrobe largely consists of bright red).

I have to admit, when I tried it on when I got home last night, I felt silly. Why on earth would I spend money on something that I clearly would never wear? But then I blotted it a little and applied some Carmex to the top, and you know what? It started to grow on me. I still felt like I was in Robert Palmer’s music video for Simply Irresistible, but in a ‘hey, look, I’m not invisible!’ kind of way.

I even wore it to work today, and between the eyeliner and the lips, I barely even recognized myself when I looked in the mirror. It went over well, though, and I noticed I was walking taller (for me) all day. I guess having red hot lips forces you to exude a little more confidence.🙂

So for now, the red lips are going to stay, but temporarily. I don’t plan on bringing much makeup with me to the beach, obviously. But when I get back, I’m going to try to remember what I’ve learned in these little makeup experiments. It’s not that wearing eyeliner and red lipstick gives me more attention (I still hate drawing attention to myself); it’s more that wearing them seems to impart a sense of confidence and competence, which is really what I’m going for.

And after all, confidence and competence really are simply irresistible, no?

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Bend And Snap

Bend And Snap

I am a new woman today, friends. That’s because thanks to my good friend Tylenol PM, I slept for over 9 hours last night. Considering the night before I slept a grand total of 51 minutes (according to Fitbit), 9 hours is monumental.

Speaking of Fitbit, I don’t know what exactly happened during that long, deep sleep, but I woke up with my Fitbit band snapped in half. It hadn’t been showing any signs of weakness, so the loss is a complete surprise to me. I have back-up bands, but I really liked this one. It snapped where the Fitbit tracker “window” is, so it’s irreparable. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime; I’ll have a new band just like the one I lost before we leave for vacation.

Man, I know sleeping a normal amount of hours is healthy and whatnot, but I kind of miss the insomniac-inspired manic energy I had yesterday. I hope I can readjust and be my normal energetic self again tomorrow!

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The Early Bird Gets The Coffee

The Early Bird Gets The Coffee

Today managed to somehow be both fantastic and awful at the same time; I was just a hot mess all day.

It all started last night. I looked at the volunteer schedule to double-check who was on, and saw that I was on with one of my favorite people, the guy I affectionately refer to as “Duuuuude!” I was thrilled, but since we’re usually on Sunday overnights together and that’s usually a quiet shift, I didn’t expect to hear from him. Still, I put my wishes out to the universe, because I really really wanted to hang out with him. I stayed up until 3, thinking we were going to get called. Around 3, I started to get tired… but just a few minutes after that, I simultaneously heard a PulsePoint notification and the fire alarms near my house going off. I checked the location, but it didn’t seem like an incident we’d attend to, so I tried once more to fall asleep. I didn’t get far.

About a half hour after the 3 am-ish alarm, there was another one and another PulsePoint notification. The notification said it was a fire alarm, and not a fire, so I finally let myself go to sleep, thinking we weren’t going to get a call.

Then at around 4:30, my phone rang and it was Dude. We were summoned to a fire near my place – the one that was listed as a fire alarm and not a fire, so I suggested I meet him at a nearby GetGo so I could rest up for a few minutes. I estimate I got about 45 minutes of sleep between the insomnia, the excitement, and the multiple alarms. We arrived at GetGo, and since I was nervous about leaving my car in a busy parking lot and the threat of being towed, we went inside to talk to a cashier who offered to let me park in the employee section. As we were heading out, she called after us and told us to take some coffee. “We love and appreciate first responders,” she called out after us. We let her know we’re not really first responders, but she insisted we are… so we grabbed some coffee, thanked her, and headed on our way.

The call didn’t last long, and it was one of the easiest calls I’ve ever been on, but I still didn’t get home until about 6:30. At that point, I’d already had coffee and it was too light outside for me to even attempt sleep… so I just stayed up and started work early. To be fair, I got a TON done today, and I even managed to do some cleaning. Also listed among my accomplishments for the day: updated new volunteer documents to include info on logging hours, told two different volunteers sincerely that I love them (“No, really, I like, REALLY love you guys”), and potentially got set up on a blind date. Plus, you know, work stuff.

I was so out of it by the time that I hit the gym that I was confused when I saw this:

Yeah, no water in the pools. Not a drop. And I only noticed it after I lugged all my swim gear with me. It’s my own fault – the gym was refreshingly transparent about the pools being closed this week, but in my delirious state, I forgot.

Hopefully there won’t be any more mishaps tonight, and with luck, I’ll stop telling random people that I love them. At least we know I’m a very loving insomniac. I think tonight might be a Tylenol PM night, just so I can be sure I catch up on a few zzz’s… based on my behavior, I think I might be a little deficient.🙂

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From The Vault

From The Vault

We had a crazy busy night last night at work – so busy that I woke up pretty sore this morning. I really wanted only to stay in bed all day and tool around the house, but since I was on call, my disaster program manager had other plans for me. I was with one of our most experienced volunteers, so we hung out and discussed some of the changes that are happening lately. On our way out, we randomly ran into our regional manager who was giving a manager from NJ a tour of the building, and our regional guy mentioned something about a part of the building I didn’t even know existed. I asked my other volunteer about it and she was more than happy to give me the not-for-public tour.🙂

On our little tour, we found a room that held a bunch of old framed pictures and some shelves. The shelves were mostly bare, except for a few old, thin books. Among the books we found the ones pictured – Introduction to the Red Cross, and First Aid Textbooks. These books were from 1945, 1947, and 1951 (if I’m remembering correctly), and contained writing and pictures. I’ve been fascinated with things like this since I was about 10 and I stayed with my great-grandmother during the day while my parents were at work over the summer – she had huge photo albums full of pictures, report cards, and other important documents dating from the late 1800s through my early childhood years. I was always enthralled with the pictures, the descriptions on the back of them, the report cards, and the letters. I’ve always loved seeing a window into the past. So seeing these books from just after World War II totally made my day. I was like a kid in a candy store.

The call that we went on was rather difficult, but getting the secret tour and finding the old books made it all worth it. Next time I need to waste some time and I’m in the area, I’m going to try to find them again and read through them to see how much has changed.🙂

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Active Threat Preparation

As promised, I typed up my notes from a recent Active Threat/Active Shooter Preparation Training that I attended. While notes are better than nothing, I’d highly recommend attending a live session to hear some first-hand experience. Anyone interested in the company we used, or the speaker who presented (located in Pittsburgh) can send an email to and I’ll provide you with the information. Also, keep in mind that these are pretty much word-for-word my notes, with very little editing. Sorry if they don’t make sense to anyone but me.🙂


Focus of the training: To mitigate losses and limit Targets of Opportunity in crisis situations.

Indoor Gunshot Detection – activates a room’s live feed to law enforcement if a gun goes off. This is like the outdoor gunshot detection cameras we see in certain high-risk areas (like Homewood) now. Some detection companies are now offering a $10,000 grant for buildings to implement this technology.

Active Threat vs Active Shooter:

An Active Threat is deliberate in nature, an immediate threat, and an imminent danger to the campus or community. Active Threats do not have guns; instead, they have bombs, IEDs, knives, their fists, etc. Once a gun is added to the mix, it becomes an Active Shooter situation.

Mentality of an Active Shooter:

  • Have a desire to kill without concern for their own safety or the threat of ramifications. They don’t care if they get caught; their mind has been made up.
  • Have intended victims in mind and will actively search them out.
  • Accept Targets of Opportunity while searching for or after finding their intended targets.
  • Committed to the act of violence they are pursuing.

Mentality of a Victim:

  • Fight/Flight/Freeze
    • One of these three actions will always be the first response.
    • Even veteran police officers can be caught off guard and freeze for a moment before taking action.
  • The second response is that people revert back to their highest level of training.

Mass Shootings – consist of 4 or more people shot.

  • for the most current statistics
  • 80% of perpetrators obtained their weapons legally.
  • Acute paranoia, delusion, and depression is rampant among shooters.
  • Over half of shooters committed suicide at or near the scene of their crime.

Workplace Violence – Do people just snap?

  • Video of Mark, a man who is going through a divorce and has a lot of problems happening. Mark gets abnormally angry about a coworker taking “his” parking spot in an uncrowded parking garage and confronts the coworker. Another coworker intervenes and Mark peels out in search of another spot. Inside the company break room, the two coworkers are discussing the altercation and mention that both have noticed that Mark seems to be different lately – under a lot of stress, getting unusually angry, and just unpleasant to work with – when he used to be one of the nicest guys in the office. HR casually drops by and mentions she heard the incident and decides to have a talk with Mark. HR pulls an angry Mark into her office to discuss the incident, and mentions that Mark’s work has been suffering for the past few months and places him on a one-month probation. When she asks Mark if he has questions, he says a curt “No” and storms off. Next we see Mark in the parking garage, getting a big bag from the trunk of his car and then walking back to the building with a determined look on his face. It is implied that Mark had weapons in the bag and returned to the office to seek revenge on HR and his coworkers since he perceived that they ratted him out to HR.
  • There are many signs to look out for, and while it may seem that someone is snapping, there are usually precipitating factors:
    • Depression/Withdrawal
    • Change in situation (ex: divorce, losing custody of kids)
    • Change in behavior (ex: the nice guy becomes the office jerk)
    • Talk of severe medical or financial concerns
    • Escalation of domestic or work problems
    • Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation
  • If you see someone changing, make a conversation with the person and ask if they’re okay and if they want to talk. Simply making conversation with a person in a friendly and not-overbearing way can make the difference between a person shooting up their workplace or choosing not to. (Essentially, people want to feel like someone cares about them, and to feel like they’re being heard.)

Shepherds – people who ensure persons served, staff, and others get to a safe place. They are the last people into safe rooms and act as the door gatekeeper and barricades the door if a lockdown is called.

  • Don’t stand in front of the door – hide beside or behind (if possible) a concrete, solid wall that a bullet can’t easily breach.
  • When possible, choose safe rooms with doors that open inwards; those doors can be barricaded.
  • Braided cables can be mounted to walls for doors that open outward.

Shepherd Responsibilities:

  • “Secure, Shelter, Safeguard”
  • Get flock to the safe room and secure the door. Expect to allow about 30 seconds for people to get into the room. That doesn’t sound like much time, but in an active threat scenario, 30 seconds is an eternity.
  • Attend to the wounded and sick to the best of their abilities – buildings should have First Aid kits in their safe rooms.
  • Silence all cell phones or turn them off entirely. This could mean life or death.
  • Have one shepherd per safe room, plus a backup in the event the shepherd is out of the office or incapacitated.
  • Each safe room should have a Lock Down Emergency Kit on the wall. The Shepherd should remove the envelope from the kit and review the authentication word or phrase.
  • Take a head count and document by name staff, persons served, visitors, and any others in the safe room.
  • Ignore all verbal commands, door knocks, and fire alarms unless authentication code or phrase is used by authorized personnel or law enforcement! NEVER OPEN THE DOOR FOR ONE INDIVIDUAL!
  • Cover any/all windows so the shooter can’t see what or who is inside.

SWAT Placards in the safe room:

  • Green = no active threat in or near the safe room.
  • Yellow = there is a threat in the area.
  • Red = there is an immediate threat either in the safe room, or the shooter is trying to get into the safe room.
  • Put these placards up in the windows to the room (facing interior) to wordlessly help the SWAT team and alert them to changing situations.
  • These placards should be switched out as the situation changes.
    • For example, if you’re at Green and then hear a gunshot in the vicinity, change it to Yellow.
    • SWAT will see the change in the window and this will direct their attention to that area if they’re not there already.
    • The placards need to be used responsibly – just because you’re scared, you should not change the placard to yellow or red if there’s no active threat near you. Not using the placards responsibly could distract the SWAT team and could allow for additional casualties.


  • Only evacuate if an evacuation has been announced.
  • Close and lock office doors if you know for a fact you do not have any explosive devices in there – this will save the bomb-sniffing dogs some time by not bothering with your office.
  • Have an escape route and plan in mind.
  • Complete a head count of all persons before departing the area.
  • Follow the instructions of the officers, if any are given.
  • Have more than one safe place/meeting place.
  • Evacuate whether or not others agree to follow.
  • Don’t attempt to retrieve belongings; go only with what you have on you.
  • Help others escape when possible.


  • Protects people from an INTERNAL threat.
  • Use multiple safe locations.
  • Shooters take the path of least resistance, so lock doors.
  • Do NOT allow your safe room to be your office – most victims are unaware they are targets until the event happens. If the shooter knows where you should be, then you have less of a chance to make it out alive.
  • When Law Enforcement arrives, put your hands up and spread your fingers.
    • Avoid pointing, screaming, or yelling.
    • No quick movements.
    • Do not ask officers for instructions.
  • Law Enforcement Mission: Neutralize the threat. The first responders are not there to save you or attend to you.
  • Rescue Teams – will follow initial officers and will treat and/or remove injured persons.
    • Hartford Consensus – EMS must now be moved into the warm zone to help prevent the injured from bleeding out.

Authentication Process:

  • Never open the door for one individual – Law Enforcement is always in groups of 4 or more in these situations.
  • Just because a shooter may know where the safe rooms are (in the event of a disgruntled employee), that doesn’t mean they know where the target is, so long as there are multiple safe rooms.
  • Authentication Code – should be two words familiar to the organization and uniform for all safe rooms. For example, if the authentication codes are “Harry” and “Potter,” the exchange will go something like this:
    • Police knocking on the safe room door: “Pittsburgh Police! Harry!”
    • Shepherd responds “Potter,” which authenticates the phrase, ONLY if things are okay in the room.
    • If things are NOT good in the room, use a different word. This will alert Law Enforcement that there is a threat in the room.


  • Complacency can lead to casualties!
  • We cannot predict the origin of the next threat.
  • Most victims are unaware that they’re a target until the event happens.
  • There are no “cookie cutter” plans for buildings; each one is unique.
  • Lock Down Emergency Kits should contain (at minimum):
    • Laminated Red/Yellow/Green SWAT placards (no writing, just a square of paper in the color that’s been laminated)
    • Double-sided tape (to affix the placards to windows)
    • Evacuation instructions
    • Map of the building with safe room location designated by a symbol (red dot, etc.)
    • Authentication code and instructions for use
    • Safe Room Rules (ex: silencing/turning off all cell phones)
  • Hide. Fight. Surviving an Active Shooter Event video.


With luck, I’ll never have to use any of these techniques, but if the worst does happen, I know that I’m at least a little prepared. Hopefully this can help others be prepared as well.

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Complacency Leads To Casualties

They say you should know your enemies, and what better/more terrifying enemy is there than an active threat or an active shooter? This morning, I had the opportunity to attend active shooter/active threat preparation training session thanks to the Red Cross. We had an independent consultant come in, Terrence, and he went through some things he’s seen in 32 years in the military and as a civilian as a police office and a security consultant. 

The possibility that someone can come into your place of employment, or the mall, or just a crowded public event and open fire is no longer something that happens other places and not here. Terrorism, in all senses of the word, is here, now. And while we’re not all armed and ready to take down an active shooter, there are a lot of ways us “regular” folks can prevent unnecessary carnage. The main takeaway was that complacency leads to casualties – if you don’t do anything when you notice something is amiss, you could be missing an opportunity to save lives. Terrence went through a lot of the actions we can take to keep our friends, families, coworkers, and neighbors safe, and I’m going to take a lot of what he said and try to talk to management at both jobs about what measures we can put in place. I’m also working on seeing if we’d be able to put some sort of text messaging out to our volunteers with the technology we currently have, to alert them in the event of local crises, but that might have some interesting challenges.

This training was probably the best thing I could have done with 3 hours on a Saturday morning, and this is coming from someone who hasn’t fallen asleep before 4am for the past week. This was prime sleeping time, especially for a day when I have to bartend tonight. But the training was great, and I’m going to tell everyone I know about it – the more people who can be prepared, the better. 

If I remember and if I can get some time during the next few days, I’m going to try to type up my notes from the class and I might post them on here – after all, I don’t know who is reading this; for all I know, someone might see that post and use the tactics to save lives during the next active shooter event. 

As for right now, I need to get ready for work. I estimate I’ll be away from my house for at least 18 hours today – yikes! Maybe that means I’ll finally sleep when I get home? Maybe? Please???

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