Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Monday, January 06, 2003

Ah, another weekend, another game

Well, chalk one up for Arkham Paranormal, the intrepid bunch of investigators who save the world on a weekly basis. Did we win? No, of course not. But all characters that were alive last week are alive this week, and that is no small accomplishment. We didn't even lose any NPCs (non-player characters). When you have a mansion with thirteen guardians, one priest, five "non-combatants", five children, and three dogs, that's no small feat. Okay, so a major part of the house blew up when the zombie with lots of explosives detonated. But considering it blew up outside the house, due to the acrobatic feats of a large Australian bush-pilot, things went pretty well. One of our characters even managed to clip the (by now requisite) sniper who was ready to pick us off if we made it out of the house, and he and my character (fashionably dressed in a silk negligee for bed but boots for hiking past the reporters camped outside and over to the hill we'd been shot at from) nearly caught one of the cultists.

If this all sounds crazy, let me point out that it's from a role-playing game--meaning that it's fiction. We're usually doing things like preventing Cthulhu from rising or some cultist from getting ahold of the Necronomicon. If none of this makes sense, try reading HP Lovecraft (see link at left under favourite authors). It's a version of Call of Cthulhu, by Chaosium. Four relatively mild-mannerered people get together each week to roll dice, act out characters, and try to save the world. We've been doing it (with various changes in players) for nearly twelve years now. Think of it as a story you add to each time you play. It's an excellent way to work out frustrations and apply problemsolving skills. At the moment, however, I think we're happy to be holding our own.

Game-related fun included an exchange of presents left over from the holidays (one of the players had missed a couple of weeks. That was okay. Her character was in jail for decapitating the last people to invade the house). I got a lovely ceramic pentagram, a purple leather dice bag, and nifty purple dice that had green and purple glittery inclusions--perfect for Cthulhu. One of the other players got a "Summer Fun" Cthulhu. It's just sick. It has Cthulhu (large cephalopod head, front tentacles, and flappy wings) dressed in beach sandals, shorts, and a Hawaiian shorts. He looked like a Parrothead (read--Jimmy Buffett fan).

It's back to a normal week starting tomorrow; there are no holidays for us until Memorial Day (no Martin Luther King or Presidents' Day for us) and our accreditation survey is at the end of the month, so the next few weeks will be busy and tense. We do consistently well, but, like Mad-Eye Moody in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, "constant vigilance" is needed. My department comes under JCAHO's (that's pronounced Jay-co for those of you not blessed by working in healthcare) heading for management of information. Sounds reasonable, right? Fortunately I don't have scheduled time with the interviewers, although they can always come in and ask questions. We should be in good shape, but I think I'll review some of the policies, etc. in case I get a "pop quiz".

The other big thing for medical librarians this year is the institution of HIPAA's rules come this April. This is the legislation protecting health information privacy that's going to sweep the country. Again, we're in good shape, and I deal with very little priveleged information. But for those of you who haven't dealt with HIPAA, come April there are new rules for protecting your health information. So for those of you who have had someone shout out "this person is here for an AIDS test" (knew someone that happened to) or who have had someone leave a message on your home machine about a pregnancy or posted your name on a visible tote board, that shouldn't happen anymore. It does mean that it may be more difficult for you to, say, correspond by e-mail with your doctor (he or she may not be able to discuss your case over non-encrypted communications). The medical community has been preparing for this for several years now, with a lot of conflicting information regarding how the interpretation of the law works. So please be understanding if your provider says they can't share information a certain way or if you go through extra steps to protect your privacy. And if you are concerned that there may be a violation of your privacy, don't hesistate to say so. They're required to protect your information. Assert yourself.

Well, so much for that little pep talk. I suppose I actually should go to sleep so I'm ready to greet the week. 'Night.

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