Yesterday I got haircut; the brindled hair fell into my lap. It made quite a contrast to the maroon smock. While the gray follicles fell I looked into the mirror at my fallow cheeks and baggy eyelids.  I am no longer the youth who once upon a time not too long ago imagined anything was possible. My body is stiff; I ache more often than not.  I am old.

 

Wasn’t it only yesterday I was thirty years old and fresh out of residency? I’ve been nearly ten years at my current post and over twenty years in my profession. At times I feel an impostor.  I want to tell people I am really a youth without wisdom. I want to fall in love with the wrong 20-something and be watched, out-maneuvered, rescued even. Instead, I eat my oatmeal, take my medicines, and go to bed early.

 

Mind! I am grateful for having achieved this stage. I know many people – deceased – who would have given anything to have reached 50. I am not kvetching; I am expressing the bittersweet mixed feelings of having reached the age of wondering how the hell did I get to the time of life when the night is for sleeping.

 

So many doors feel closed when you are old.  James Joyce wrote:

“One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age”.  

 

Is this preferable to going slowly into the sunset diminished in abilities and dwindling autonomy?

 

Meanwhile I go forward as this is the only direction to do. My haircut looks good albeit despite the gray highlights. Tomorrow I will have another predictable week without fanfare or variation from the previous ones. But it will have meaning. I will do some stretches and see the doctor for my quarterly labs. Life goes on. It is not bold, passionate, or bold, but it is. Maybe if there is time and we are not too tired, Someone and I might have a moment of intimacy, who knows when was the last.

 

I look forward to my next haircut when another pile of locks will accumulate in my lap, a bit grayer and thinner,  but still growing.

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ngbbs5029cd92b4231I don’t understand the mania for PEEPS. 

 

PEEPS were not part of the sugar-loaded bricolage of my childhood’s Easter baskets. I never heard of the crazy things until I got to college (I lived a sheltered life).  I am horrified when I read the PEEPS ingredients, which resemble a chemistry experiment rather than food.  My suspicion PEEPS are beyond unnatural is heightened by the fact the Easter PEEPS show up in the grocery store in February.  I extrapolate they were manufactured in January. This makes them four months old by the time Easter rolls around. Twinkies look wholesome by comparison.

 

I tried them once or twice. They tasted like ersatz marshmallows and had the consistency  of old bubble gum. Count me out. If I am going to consume sugar and artificial colour I’m sticking with gummi-bears.

 

Perhaps I am missing the point. They are not food per se but something else. Perhaps no one eats them; they are toys. I see several Youtube posts with morbid and sadistical ways on how to blow them up in the microwave or turn them into bombs. Maybe that’s the point.  They are not candy but camp.

 

Once in awhile Someone purchases a few for cocktail condiments . I think this as practical and sensible as any to deal with PEEPS.  You admire it as it floats on top of your drink, you take it off, and throw it away.

No doubt the ones from yesteryears remain unaltered in the landfill.

 

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Apology

 

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections would like to apologize to everyone in the world about the last entry. Rest assured the author is not going on sabbatical let alone retire due to a stipulation in his contract titled ‘The indentured servant clause” apparently he forgot about it until we reminded him and although he made sardonic references to dining on rodents in a town in Gloucestershire we can assure with confidence the readers of the blog this is a hollow threat for we have on file certain photographs of the author and we while don’t like the word ‘blackmail’ let us call it merely a vicious threat not only to release said photos but “tell all” about what the address of the organization to which he belonged and the name of the shop where he got the equipment. Please be assured Spo-Reflections will continue at its usual pace and please don’t write in as the author is all compunction and posts will be forthcoming in a regular and timely manner albeit more censored by The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections for we don’t trust him further than we can kick this here lemon pie and yes I said yes I will Yes.

For some time I have been considering giving up blogging.

 

I am having ever increasing trouble thinking of new and interesting topics on which to blog. Nowadays I feel I am blogging mostly out of habit (or worse) out of obligation.

It is one thing to endure a tedious job but a boring hobby makes no sense.

Apart from the feeling I have nothing on which to blog, there is the factor of time. My free time is getting more consumed by demands of work. To put it into context, blogging is not the only pleasure I feel is losing grounds to paperwork, telephone calls, and charting. I have less time too to read, stretch, or much of anything really.

And I struggle to find time to read other blogs.  This usually happens on weekends, when I try to get ‘caught up’ only to find I’ve missed news and events. I hate being the last to arrive to a party.  Then I skim rather than really read. This is a bad habit for which I feel guilt.

 

So perhaps I should retire – or at least take a sabbatical; I can recharge my batteries as it were and return, randy as a billy-goat.

 

What makes me say ‘no’ to pausing is the terrible intuition if I put Spo-reflections down I may never pick it back up again. I gave up Facebook for Lent; I haven’t missed it at all.  And I hate to give up something on which I’ve labored for eight years.

But the chief reasons for not to giving up blogging are my  feelings about work sucking up my spare time and replacing all I want to do with its nearly continuous tasks. This is worth putting up a pretty stiff battle.

Blogging is my trusty weapon to fight and slay the monsters of homework and paperwork.

As I type this, this gives me comfort and stiffens my spine some.

 

Until recently I could not figure out the reason(s) why The Zombie archetype is some so popular.  I understand the allure of The Vampire, but not The Zombie. But I had an insight today.  Zombies are a means for true masculinity to be brought out and used without shame or judgement.

Throughout the years I’ve worked with male patients struggling with masculinity. What is true masculinity and how does one achieve it?  Let me give you a crash course on the topic. Men pay me big bucks for this stuff, and I am giving it to you for free, so pay attention.

First of all true masculinity is not the same as what makes a good man. Cultures and societies dictate what makes a ‘good Mormon man” or  “a good Jew” or a ‘good Muslim”etc. We all know good men who are ‘do the right thing’’ but they aren’t regarded as ‘masculine’.  And we all know jerks whom we admire notwithstanding for their masculinity.

 I am talking about The Warrior archetype, which is the least understood or tolerated  of the Masculine Archetypes. The King, the Lover, and the Magician are OK for most but The Warrior is often ignored or banished.

True masculinity in The Warrior is an archaic set of behaviors and values that transcend cultures. These are the virtues that men have when the chips are down and there is a crisis at hand. They are ‘tactical’ virtues. Whenever there is a flood, a disaster, or a war, these traits are quickly resurrected and “real men” are called upon once again to emulate them.  The four traits of masculinity are Strength, Courage, Mastery, and Honor. In times of crisis or battle we want a strong and courageous man who will rescue and protect others. He is skilled; he knows how to fight and figure out what to do. Some simple examples of this is when the car has a flat tire or won’t start. A man is needed who knows how to change the tire or use cables.

Real masculinity has honor: your reputation in the eyes of other men for these virtues. Believe me, being seen as strong, brave, and masterful in the eyes of your male peers remains as vital today as it ever was.

There is not much call for tactical virtues and true masculinity in our day to day modern society. We sublimate in games and sports, but it is not the same. It takes a fire, or a shooting, or flood to bring out the fireman, the marines, or ‘Joe hero’ to roll up their sleeves and do the job.

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So where do the zombies come in?  In zombie movies men can fight off their attacks with strength, skill, and brute strength without concern he will be condemned for being a brute. Indeed, he is often called out of a nebbish role to become the hero and protector of those threatened by the zombies.

It’s not PC to have an ‘us vs. them’ with real people. After all we are supposed to be one happy world family.

But zombies are a different cup of tea. For they are ‘the other’. Men can be masculine again with guilt or  PC/feminist condemnation.

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I quickly became overwhelmed trying to find data on the US and Canadian health care systems.  I had to screen out the hysteria and a lot of rubbish posted by ranters and ravers. Seemingly reputable websites on US health care delivered an imbroglio the likes I have never seen. I gave up trying to make an easy summary of the wretched thing.  If Spo-fans wish me to post what I found I will do so, but it will take some time and a high dose of Motrin. I do point out one matter : the US has a universal health care/single payment system and it’s called Medicare. This covers folks over 65 years old. Nobody seems to believe Medicare intrinsically evil but universal health care for folks younger than 65 years old is ‘socialized medicine’.

 

A caveat: I am not a Canadian, nor an expert on Canadian health care. Spo-fans who find fault in my conclusions are welcome to point out mistakes and provide clarification.

 

70% of health care in Canada is provided by the (provincial) government while 30% is paid by the patient. Many get supplemental insurance for this 30% which is mostly Rx, dental and optemetry.   It is a single payer system with public spending but private delivery – which makes this NOT socialized medicine.

 

The main one rant by Yanks about the alleged problems of Canadian health care is ‘waiting time’ to get health care, so I focused on this. Would you believe there are Canadian websites where you can do to see waiting times of things like this? I can’t find any similar for the US, other than (very subjective) data about long waits on Yelp.  There is a bit more of a waiting time in the Canadian system – but this ss for elective surgeries, not for regular or urgent health care.  “Hip surgery” is the usual example, but think of this: the majority of elective hip surgeries are done on people over 65yo, which is Medicare, our single payment system.  In matters of wait, our single payment system is faster by some but far more expensive.

 

By the way, in my research I not see much data of the alleged flood of Canadians coming to US for elective surgery or health care. In ‘border towns” like Detroit (to Windsor)  there are very few, per hospital year. What data I found on Canadians receiving US health care was ~ 80% of them were ER visits by tourists having the misfortune of an accident (and a U.S. hospital bill I surmise).  The vast majority of Canadians wait a little longer for elective surgery than scurry across the border.

 

In the end I found the Canadian health care system spends far less, covers more, and is deemed ‘no worse’ for it. The main deficit seems to be some longer waits for elective surgeries.  Limiting supply is cost effective at the expense of some inconvenience. In1966 Canada adopted a single payer system based on the proposition this would provide universal health care and limit cost by via government regulation of supply.  This has some faults, the likes most Yanks are not used to considering.  Canada could spend more on health care to fix their system’s disadvantages but discarding their system, but in all the decades they have never chosen to do so.  That says something. If they wanted to alter this, they would – but they don’t.  I think that says it a lot.

It’s Saturday morning and I am sitting in an all-day-long conference. The course is in-town – and free, so it makes for a genuine bargain. The price? : I have to sit still for a full day while listening to presentations. Perhaps once upon a time I could do this, but nowadays it is a challenge. My attention span dissipates by 2PM (on a good day); my backside doesn’t care for it either.

 

Whenever there is a conference I look around to see the demographics and characteristics of my fellow wizards. This being Saturday, and a warm day to boot,  the men are mostly dressed in aloha-style shirts. The speakers are naturally in suits and ties.  Headshrinkers of the female persuasion are dressed more ‘professional casual’. * Once in a while I see a more liberal/radical type in berkenstocks and hippie-wear but there are none today.  Only a few look cliche viz. Freud-like.

 

As is often the case I sense everyone here knows everyone else but me. This is the problem for working in a hobbit-hole of a clinic; I don’t get out much to rub elbows and network. I don’t see too many ‘youngsters’, which may be related to it being Saturday and an all day conference.**

 

The fellow next to me is typing away, apparently typing up a lecture of his own. His laptop has an audacious Grateful Dead label on his laptop. I don’t smell pot, but I am dubious about a dead-head-head-shrinker.  But I shouldn’t judge books by their cover, nor laptops by their tops.

 

The most interesting lecture is on bipolar depression and children. Urs truly is unhappily bereft of munchkins in his personal and professional life, so it was intriguing to hear the tips how to sort through the differential why junior is be being truculent. I don’t want to get too skilled in pediatric psychiatry lest a few turn up in my office.

 

The conference is educational and stimulating, but it deprives me of having a Saturday. The paperwork I usually do on Saturday will be postponed for Sunday.  No rest for me and it’s back to the gulag on Monday. Noblesse oblige.

 

 

* To be specific, ersatz Spo-shirts. Most of the shirts are downright rubbish.

**  Alas, there are no especially handsome ones on which to lay my eyes while a colleague is reading a well-researched but uninspiring paper.

The December solstice noon time sun shines through my office window and reaches across the floor into the hallway.  Presently the high noon sun barely shines a bright thin line just below my office window. By tomorrow no light will shine through my window for the sun will be too high. This correlates with the first temperatures over 90, which almost hit 100.  Someone starts having brief dips in the pool; I turn on the ceiling fans.

The tell-tale signs are evident; summer has arrived in The Valley of the Sun.

 

Speaking of the office, I am inspired to do some research on the Canadian medical system and how it compares to the U.S.  I have patients of both persuasions. Keeping in mind the patients I see are of a psychiatric nature. My Canadian patients remonstrate how ill-served is the US system.  My US patients complain how Obamacare will “destroy the system” but simultaneously vociferate how expensive is health care – when they have it at all.  The US patients fear the alleged defects of the Canadian health system. “You will have to wait to get a hip replacement!” is the usual bogey. Yet they gripe (often in the same breath) they have to wait 2-3 months to see me.

I want to discover how ‘horrible’ is the Canadian system, for I am tired of people using it as a bogey man to prevent US health-reform.  My Canadian patients convey they are often insulted being compared to third world medicine.  They may complain about things ‘back home’ but not one of them has ever voiced a desire to emulate their health care to be more like the U.S.

 

I will post an entry when I discover anything.

 

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From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!”
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The house is bewitched and not in the Elizabeth Montgomery way.  Last night I was besieged by nightmares of creepy things in some basement. I woke with a shout which caused Harper to flee the bed and out the room. Someone took the rationale approach I had ate something bad and Harper was merely scared by my outburst. But I know better. The dog sensed the same stygian phantom lurking about the bed and she sensibly refused to return to it.

 

Whenever I can’t sleep I go from the master bedroom in the west wing of the house over to the guest room on the east side. There is something uncanny on that side of the house and I can’t sleep there without a nightlight on and the door to the loo closed.  Spo-fans may recall my encounters with Henrik the house-ghost but this isn’t he. I’ve not heard a peep out of Henrik in ages and I dare say he’s flown the coop. He’s probably more upset by the haunts in the house than I am.  I miss Henrirk. As a ghost he was a disappointment; he may have been droopy but he wasn’t nefarious as the current one(s).

 

Not too long ago there was an unearthly howl outside in the backyard. The cacophony was short-lived but intense. It was attributed to coyotes but if it were coyotes they were using a amplifier.  We did not locate the source, which sounded to be immediately outside my bedroom window.

 

I’m not sure why all of sudden our house seems to be Hallowe’en Central. I don’t recall anyone being murdered here.  Someone visits as lot of cemeteries for ‘Find a Grave”; perhaps a few hitch-hiked home with him.   From time to time Harper sits up suddenly and growls at nothing in the front hall.

 

So far they are merely boisterous. The toast is managing to stay on its plate and not go flying about. There are no strange knocks, nor graffiti written in ketchup telling us to vamoose the premises or else.

 

When I lived in Chicago I had a friend who would go around one’s house and declare it ‘clean’ or not and if there was need he’d cleanse it with smoking sage and various chants.  I wish I had him here to get the remonstrative spirit or spirits to move on.  Alas, he ain’t here and things still go bump in the night.  I will keep you posted if I see any elementals or signs of Henrik.

Cards_tnsI have just lost a game of cards. Badly, I might add. Actually, I was ‘skunked’ .  I don’t recall the official definition of ‘being skunked’ but I am certain I met it.  Someone and I were playing Spite & Malice*; I was left with twenty of twenty-six cards.  Oh the pain.

 

In general I stink at cards in any form, whether it’s gin, euchre, cribbage, or whist. I tried a few times to play bridge, hoping it would be different, but alas, it was not. I don’t have the strategy to play cards properly.  It’s no fun playing with me for it is like throwing darts at jello: there are no satisfactory hits.  Team games like euchre? Forget it. I am like the nerd in elementary gym class at the end of team choice, the one they argue over who has to take him this time.

 

Perhaps cards expose my inability to connect the dots and to recall what happened only ten minutes ago. Perhaps I was cursed by some wicked fairy related to the one who put me permanently at the ‘B” table.

 

I keep searching for a game in which I might actually win. Ideally the game should be based on minimal skills or perhaps solely on dumb luck.  Paradoxically I should consider learning something like six-pack bezique. As nobody plays it anymore, I would have the upper hand.

 

I am not much better at solitaire games. My phone has an app for a game consisting of moving stacks of cards around trying to unload them into four piles by suit in the upper hand corner. I don’t often play it for when I do it reminds me I should stick with the cryptic crosswords, of which I am a wiz.

 

On the other hand,  I enjoy cards, even though I am likely to lose. There is a pleasant intercourse to card playing. I hear tell the younger generations have no interest in cards other than poker and even then they like to do it on-line rather than face to face.  There is a lot of mental well-being that arises from two to four people sitting at table, drinks and nibble at-hand, playing cards (and it doesn’t matter which type).  So I keep at cards, revisiting them on occasion, hoping this time at least I won’t be skunked.

 

 

 

* Spite & Malice is a traditional card game in the House of Spo. Two player trying trying to be rid of their half a deck first in a sort of solitaire in which Player A can thwart Player B through strategic blocks. The game is aptly titled.

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