sushi-cats_2 I was searching on Youtube for postings on the history of the Chinese Republic when I saw a ‘you might like this link’ to something called “Cats as food”.  It is a five-minute long documentary on the Chinese custom of cats not as pets but for cooking. She showed via hidden camera cats in cages next to the chickens, ducks, and piglets. They were handled with tongs. The authoress of the video made it a shocking documentary:isn’t it ghastly cats are being used in as cuisine. At one point she was assaulted by a Chinese merchant, who told her to f*ck off. He called her a meddlesome westerner and to get out of his shop. She went on to explain how popping pussies into pies is a long time delicacy in China. She let the cat out of the bag it is perfectly legal to buy and sell cats as produce, so it wasn’t like people were breaking the law or deceiving the lunch crowd they were eating chicken.

I found myself curiously sympathizing with the Chinese merchants and customers. She did come across as a meddlesome “food police”. I noticed she wasn’t objecting to the other caged animals destined for the butcher. I wondered how she would react at home if some outsider from India barged into her dinner demanding she stop eating steak as cows are sacred.


I’d sooner eat rats in Tewkesbury than cats in Canton, but who am I to criticize another’s diet. If I didn’t like the notion of sweet and sour feline how do I justify eating any meat?

Another emotion I have to analyze: the notion of cat food (pun intended) makes me wrinkle my nose in disgust but eating dog is another matter. I would be as outraged as she. I would be trying to free up the dogs destined for kung pao.

I hope Spo-fans aren’t reading this while eating supper. My point here is how much right do we have to condemn or even ban what others eat and drink if we don’t want it ourselves. What about ‘bad food’ like fast food or fried bits? Can I nag others on the excuse I am a physician?

It is food for thought.


I continually struggle with making eye contact. I grew up a shy boy; making eye contact with someone I thought superior was hard for me to do.*  This ingrained bad habit still pops up a lot. I need to be on my guard. Of course, making eye contact is important both as a man and as a doctor.


My Midwestern malady is aggravated by my hummingbird mind which flits around from one shiny object to another. Poor habit and ADD joined electronic health records into a sinister cabal which makes eye contact too readily none. It is way too easy to stare at the screen while I listen to patients. I could get by with no eye contact at all (which on many a occasion I have done).


Curiously, the complaint ‘he/she doesn’t make good eye contact’ has lessened since the introduction of computer screens into the examining room.** People have grown not to expect much eye contact from doctors – or anyone else for that matter, probably because screen-staring is ubiquitous. We all do this to some degree. It’s another case I’m afraid where poor service is considered the norm.


I try to remember to stop my typing from time to time and look them ‘straight in the eye’, especially if they are men. There are some exceptions to the value of eye contact: paranoid patients, women with histories of abuse,and borderline personality cases often become more unsettled with too much eye contact.


“Eyes are the window into the soul”. One can learn a lot about a patient by their eyes. Not only physical conditions but subtle emotional elements. “the eyes don’t lie” as it were.


I keep working on this need for eye contact, both professionally and socially. It isn’t easy for me.





*As I felt nearly everyone was better than I, my eye avoidance was pretty well with everybody.


** I used to work with a doctor in Michigan who made no eye contact at all as he typed into his laptop while he talked and listened to his patients.  It was one of the chief complaints why they would transfer to me.

The Weekend Guest arrives tonight. This was incentive to tidy up the backyard.  At this time of year we don’t get out in the yard much, other than to make a beeline to the pool.  The backyard is in disarray and wants attention. Most of the plants have died, victims of relentless summer.  Desert dust get onto everything.  While Someone swept and dusted the furniture I tended the plants.

I try to keep herbs and perennials but it is just not humanly possible; I’ve learned to stick with succulents. Xerigardening has its hazards. Just about everything in the yard has prickers and nasty big pointed teeth. Heavy gloves are a must when pruning pickers or pulling pups. Transplanting cacti are particularly tricky; it requires wrapping them in blankets prior to transfer. I stick manage to get one or two pricks. Once in they are recalcitrant and as immovable as the rocks at Stonehenge.

The backyard is presently past the point of being an embarrassment. It is feasible for outdoor entertaining if The Weekend Guest fancies it. Alas, as I sit, I continuously scan the horizon making a mental list of things still to do. It feels feckless; nature is against us.  There is a continual dropping from the mesquite tree; the monsoons brings in more layers of dust. There is no end!  Ah well.


The pool and hot tub are ready if The Weekend Guest wants a dip. That’s the most important matter. I am in charge of lighting the tea candles and ‘circle of friends’ if we sit outdoors. I sense we will merely just go to bed – aren’t we the sybarites!

Tonight I will sleep with the quiet satisfaction the agaves and cacti are tided up and I found no triffids.

When I have a patient who speaks Spanish, an interpreter is required for I speak little Spanish. Although I sign, my deaf patients usually have an ASL interpreter along.
I have an English patient**. When I am with her I wish there was such a thing as a British-English interpreter. It’s not her choice of words like ‘petrol”, ‘taps’, or ‘nappies” (gasoline, faucets, and diapers) that confuse me. Rather, it is her charming but unrecognizable expressions which leave me bewildered. I either pretend to know what she was saying or I stop the interview to ask for a translation.

Being a closet Brit I admit I enjoy them and I later try to use them myself. Most of the time I sound silly saying “Pull the other one!” in my Midwest accent with its pseudo-Canadian diphthongs.

Here are a few of my favorites. I hope you find them jolly good fun as I do!

It’s monkeys – apparently this means it’s very cold. It derives from ‘It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off of a brass monkey. It’s a fun but relatively useless idiom for living in AZ where the temperatures regularly get up to 40-45 centigrade.

To have a butcher’s – is ‘let’s have a look at it” I don’t know the origin of this one.

Chin-wag – a gossip.‘Lets have pour s wine and chin-wag and get caught up on the news’

Bob’s your uncle! - meaning presto, or right away.

He knows his onions – The fellow knows what he is doing or what is going on. I think of The Best Friend when I hear this expression, for he once gave me this tune with this title.


But my favorite?  Hands down < ‘Away with the fairies’.

She explained it means to be not focused, daydreaming.Oh sorry, I was a away with the fairies or Don’t mind Spo, he’s away with the fairies today’.



And – as a bonus – “Sooner I’d eat rats in Tewkesbury”. Contrary to what Spo-fans think, I did not make this one up. I think it comes from Shakespeare; I can’t quite right remember.  However, I am proud to be the one to keep the legacy alive and kicking.



rat-alone**The details are altered to protect the person’s confidentiality.


The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections would like to apologize to everyone in the world for these latest blog entries.  The author was instructed to write “something serious”  along the line of the mysteries of statistics or how to fix the drains or a commentary on the history of Middle Ages (overall a more friendly period) but instead he produced a threnody which is not at all what we want here at Spo-Reflections lest the readers begin to channel “Werther” or turn to strong drink or start voting Labor.  Rest assured the author is not at all clinically depressed or wholly pessimistic but was having a bad hair day after watching too many news reels involving Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney which caused him to be a little upset so please don’t write in he is going to cheer up (or else) and the world is knee-deep in buttercups and daisies the good times are coming if not we have given him a brochure on “The Institute for Incompetent Bloggers” which is profusely illustrated and he won’t find a dull page in it. We would also like to point out the recent entry titled “Meet the Directors” has a myriad of embellishments and many of the descriptions are quite stretched if not outrageous and not to be trusted any further than Sven can kick a lemon pie so again please don’t write in we are all perfectly happy and Herbert is really a nice fellow really now that he is taking his medication as directed.

Michelangelo_Buonarroti_027It’s been one of those days; I am in a lugubrious state.  It seems the country – nay, the world – is barking mad a kennel of mad dogs. I get chest pains at the rampant ignorance running amok these days.


As a boy I was told I was ‘too sensitive for I seemed to have a genius level of feeling. Because of this heightened empathy I was easily affected by hurt, sorrow, and stupidity. In response, I developed a habit to avoid things and crawl into a hedgehog hole and pulling the door shut.  Every once in a while I try to be more brave, ‘man up’, conure up my inner ‘Warrior”, and face the Demons of Ignorance.


Unfortunately the internet is the ultimate Pandora’s box which releases the world’s sorrows and zanies in one sockdolagar of an onslaught. There is no end to what drives me to distraction and despair: Fox News, The GOP, The Tea Party, religious zealots (of any persuasion) – the list goes on and on. Like any sane person I despise cruelty, so why is it The Yahoos are winning? Education, science, reason – and good manners – are all rejected in favor of shouting and pushing one’s way to get what one wants. I recently viewed some ASPCA documentaries on puppy mills and abandoned dogs; I am ready to take gas. Even as I type my fellow Arizonians are organizing an armed protest against a busload of refugee children. These are the same who lament on Sunday we are not a Christian nation. We are the only civilized nation who doesn’t provide some sort of reasonable health care to its citizens. The prison system is broken; the politicians are in the pockets of the Koch brothers et. al.

Look no further than Maricopa county where Sheriff Joe is repeatedly re-elected. That sums things up nicely.


What my inner-child wants, of course, is the equivalent of Mother who used to put her arms around me and assure me everything will be all right, for God watches over us and cares for us and blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice (while she gives me something nice to eat like a homemade brownie). Alas, Mother isn’t here now (as they sing in “Into the Woods”) and we can’t seem to kill the Giants.


I guess I will turn off CNN, Huff Post, Yahoo, and the TV, drink my wormwood and crawl under the covers. Perhaps tomorrow there will be enough Warriors who will keep fighting the good fight. I hope the demons of Ignorance haven’t eaten them all in the night.

This is a quick one.

Last night while I assisted a fearsome friend with his blog, my dashboard informed me I had written post #2,500.

I don’t know if this counts all the entries translated from Blogger, or merely the ones I have written at WordPress.

Either way it strikes me as a lofty number of which to feel some satisfaction.

It amazes me:

a) I still enough ideas  to keep going  with my scribblings.


b) People actually stop by to read it.


As usual there is no set destination, no triptych, no GPS on this Journey.  I hope to see 2,500 more posts and then some.

That’s about it for this post.  I lead a dull life.   :-)


Here’s another one. It’s mandatory I post a picture, for it keeps a catalog of my industry.  This one is a pastiche of Japanese prints. It has cranes, flowers, fans – even a tsunami – but (alas!) no Godzilla or ramen.  I won’t keep this one; it is destined for a chum whom we will see next month when we are in Canada.  As usual, I fret a little it’s too small or too short (the shirt, not the chum). But the worst case scenario is merely I have to make another one.

Soup update:  Yesterday I made gazpacho (thanks Damienscot!!)  I will find out today if it is any good.  I realized I am ‘out of practice’ in my cooking skills. I need a ‘refresher course’ on how to chop vegetables quickly and efficaciously.  Perhaps I merely need practice. Anyway it was jolly good fun being in the kitchen preparing something special. I hope the soup turns out well, for I will be eating it for a week there is so much of it.  Someone won’t touch it, for he is not fond of gazpacho. Gazpacho always makes me smile thanks to the movie “Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown“.  See it if you haven’t; you won’t ever eat gazpacho again without grinning.


While pursuing the pages of the bow tie club catalog for the must-have-or-perish items, I discovered a new and amazing service: for a modest fee they will convert my long ties into bow ties. I merely have to pop ’em in the post and lo! a few week later they come back after a metamorphisis into a higher and better state of being: a self-tie bow tie. My eyes widened as if I had encountered a brilliant sunrise. What a great notion! Never one to be patient, I immediate went to the closet to see what was available.
I have a half-dozen or so long ties, which are worn on those occasions when my fingers can’t seem to tie a bow.**  Someone has a drawer full of long ties, which he hasn’t worn in ages.  So there are many choices.  Apotheosis tailoring is possible for all of them, but mind! The patterns best for a bow are small, exquisite, and repetitive (like my men).  Long ties have more florid large patterns. Many of them would not make good bows.  In the end I found 6-8 long ones neither one of us ever wear but if translated would be fab and functional. I must consult Someone though for his blessing. People are funny this way: they haven’t used something in a long while but when you confront them to be rid of said white elephant they bristle with possessive ferocity.


Alas, the bow tie club is closed on Saturdays so there was no one to ask the more pressing question if I sent them cuts of cotton cloth, can these be transformed into a tie?  I have a St. Nick size bag of scraps from years of sewing spo-shirts.  Oh! to have a series of spo-ties!

As I write this it strikes me I could probably make my own ties either from the silk long ones or the cotton scraps. Just what I need: another hobby! I will see what the good folks in Vermont say when I call them next week.



If it is a bust, then you may hear from Urs Truly I’ve embarked on a new mission to convert all to bowtieism.


bowties are cool


** I know six knots, which is a skill quite wasted.  Alas there is only one way to tie a bow tie.

The period between my birthday (7 July) and the annual trip to Canada (mid-August) constitutes my ‘dog days of summer’. The days blur together into an immutable season of one long hot day without due activity.  It is ‘monsoon season’ which is a misnomer and a disappointment.  These sudden downpours are nothing like the Midwest thunderstorms I sorely miss.  There is humidity in the air at this time of year. It maybe only 40% but this makes for sticky times indeed. Iit is a mundane existence:  I go to work, I go to the gym. I try to lose weight; I try again. I do a few routine past times and repeat.

Curiously it is at this time of year I develop an appetence to make soup.  This is a challenge viz. finding time to make some properly.  Someone does not care for soup; I tend to make enough to feed eight so I better like it for I will eat off it for several days.  I scour cookbooks and blogs for recommendations.

While things simmer outside, I will be simmering something indoors.  I got until mid-August.


P.S. If Spo-fans know of a good soup recipe, please pass it on, either in a comment or in email or through the means of interpretative dance. Better yet, send some in the post. Don’t worry it getting cold !


Blog Stats

  • 1,199,680 Visitors to Spo-land


July 2014
« Jun    

Spo-Reflections Years 1&2


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 103 other followers