Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections were not comfortable with this one. It is neither funny nor entertaining. I told them it will be posted and they capitulated. 

 

I’ve been immersed in Greek Mythology on Podcasts and Youtube. I continue to be outraged by Hera. For thems not familiar with the goddess, Hera is the queen of the Olympians, wife and sister to Zeus. Zeus is mostly known for being a rake who runs around the world seducing everyone – with Hera on his tail. Hera’s outrage at her spouse’s sexual shenanigans is understandable. However she handles her jealousy not by vituperating her husband so much as attacking his paramours – none of them willing recipients of Zeus’ lusts.  After he more or less rapes them Hera torments them often sadistically. It is worse for Z’s children by these poor souls. Hera does her best to destroy them in the most miserable means possible. [1] She personifies the age-old adage of “blaming the victim”. [2]

Blaming the victim is a psychology that burns my bacon. Gay/lesbians get blamed for having a high rate of depression, drug abuse, and suicide because of who they are and not because of the circumstances that make for such circumstances. Women who are sexually assaulted are told it’s their own fault for wearing the wrong clothes or doing something men don’t approve of. The largest and most enduring recipients of “blaming the victim” are the poor. Throughout time the poor have been told it’s their own fault they are poor. If they weren’t slackers, stupid, irresponsible, etc. they would not be that way. This logic carried out means not only is poverty ‘their fault’ but trying to help them only makes these faults worse. [3].

The flipside of blaming the victim is the all too frequent willingness for the victims to believe it. Human psychology as it is, when you are told over and over in direct and subtle ways your lot is your fault then you start to believe it.

I recently heard a lecture on obesity. People who are overweight are one of the few types of folks where it is still “OK” to make mock and most important – blame the victim. When we see a fat person we think s/he is that way from  volitional poor choices, lack of will power, and morale failure. We don’t make room for the possibility medical health concerns thwart their metabolism or pain makes exercise impossible. We tend to view fat people as stupid. We frown on their poor choices of food – not taking into account good food is expensive and often hard for the poor to come by, while cheap/bad food is often the only thing they can afford and obtain. [4] We all know about the ‘obesity crisis” in the USA but we seldom if ever look at the social issues and injustices that make it so. I suspect rich folks (who can afford proper food and time for exercise) have far less percentage of folks overweight than the ones in poverty.

As a doctor I see the hazards of being overweight; being so has a high level of morbidity and mortality. Shaming these patients (or worse – yelling at them) never never never ever works. There are studies to suggest shaming fat people only makes them more ashamed and eat and gain. In consultation on nutrition/weight etc. I’ve learned to look less at patient’s diet and exercise and more at their economics and time restraints. [5]

Society and systems and our prejudices are the things to blame, not the recipients. We need to recognize the Hera in us all and start going after Zeus, not Semele and Europa.

 

[1] Through the pages I want to shout “Hera, you are a goddess, why don’t you just kill them?”

[2] We don’t know if the Greeks thought Hera sensible or horrible.  Was she an example of ‘how to do it right” or ‘how not to do it”.
[3] I remember a play in which an impoverished family struggles to better themselves but the powers of the town and factory where they live and work thwart their endeavors through restrictions and unjust punishments. As the mother leaves the stage, she turns to say to their priest: “You know what’s the hardest thing about all of this? People think we do this on purpose.”
[4] We are also punitive with those overweight. We pass laws in cities forbidding the sale of soda pop and laws obliging food stamp recipients what they can and can not buy wih them. If similar laws are attempted in the suburbs there is outrage from the white and rich about ‘nannying’ laws and taking away our freedom to choose.

[5] Ever try to tell a single mother working two jobs she should go to the gym and cook from scratch a balanced meal of fresh produce she can’t find or afford?

Spo-fans may recall a few weeks/entries ago The Board of Directors You Know The Rest burned down the board room. I think at some level they were hoping to filch farthings from the Spo-fans in a fire-sale fundraiser. Unfortunately The Notre Dame fiasco eclipsed their shenanigans. The millionaires are donating to Paris not to WordPress. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good and this includes impudent Archetypes.  I pointed out to the miscreants there is nothing like a new tunic to brighten up your day so do let’s tidy up the place and make some improvements.

While they are hauling away the burned beams and dead animals this weekend I plan to update my links and pages. There are many blogger buddies not on the link roster (hang in there Debbie!) and a few in need of pruning (alas they are no longer with us). My ‘37.5 things about myself” needs updates and editing, especially the photo.  I like the one there but it’s getting a bit old (rather I am a bit older).

Then comes the cosmic question should I change the format? It’s been the same since its inception many years ago. I have mixed feelings: it feels quite staid and easy on the eye, but it also feels aged. I change my wallpapers on my phone and laptop more often than some folks change their socks  (and some Board members change their nether drawers). Spo-fan should not be shocked to see a few trial runs in the next week. I am open to comments good and bad.

After the rugs are replaced* we erect a new oaken round table –  this time with drilled holes to allow for computer and laptop cords. It’s long overdue: they need learn how to use such devices. Vikings maybe fierce in battle but they are big wussies when it comes to electronic devices. I’ve assured them rapine, piracy, looting, and trolling on line beats what they do by a country mile. I pity the poor tech-geek we’ve hired to set it all up. The last ones hired disappeared halfway through the job. I recall he was a tall man with his companion whom TBDHR instantly disliked on the suspicion they were Slavs. During the recent tidy up two skeletons were discovered in the dungeon behind the trapdoor underneath the board room. I was told there were just the bones of large rats.  Not even Sarah H. Sanders would try that one.

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*’Rugs’ is code for hides, most of them now quite beyond repair given years of muddy boots and dropped doughnuts. I’ve persuaded TBDHSR not to replace them but let’s go to IKEA. I sense they won’t like the carpets much but they should enjoy all those Js and Ks.

 I want to thank Spo-fans far and near for their praises of  the last post. The chief reason I blog is my passion to write. Most of what I scribble is nonsense and dribble but occasionally something pulls together into thoughtful and pretty prose. Yesterday’s entry felt like a success and I was blithe others thought so as well. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections was also pleased as punch. They sent me a bonus barrel of mead (the dears!) They also adamantly deny they are responsible for Notre Dame. They may relish in pyro-shenanigans towards public buildings but they are no fools to touch something that big.  

Last weekend when I visited Brother #3 we had nice morning going through his library looking at his collection of books. My Tsundoku is quite active; the last thing I need is more books. However I am always on the look-out for fabulous findings and recommendations.

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On his shelf sits a collection of books from our youth. These are the “Alfred Hitchcock and the three investigators” mystery series. A group of lads go about and solve mysteries. I read these tomes instead of “The Hardy Boys”. Would you believe it – I didn’t think I was ‘butch’ enough to read the latter. * Laying eyes on these ancient tomes lit up my eyes to elicit a euphoria the type one gets when you stumble upon a childhood memento you haven’t seen in decades but seeing them you immediately recall them and all they entailed. B#3 found them in the basement of The Progenitors; he took the lot home hoping someday my nephew The Posthumous Thomas will read them.

We noticed (as can you in the photo) some in series are missing. We can’t recall if we never had them or they are lost. This raised a mystery to solve of its own. Next time he visits The Progenitors he will try to find them. If he is unsuccessful we will hit Ebay and buy the missing ones. Meanwhile I will do some research: how they came to be and how long they went on etc.

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After we finished the tour, I took down The Mystery of the Talking Skull, which is one I books I remember enjoying, and I read a few chapters. Do you ever reread your childhood favorites? I do. This is usually a mixed bag of emotions.  There is a satisfaction nothing like rereading a story that quickly comes back to mind. On the other hand these reads are never are quite as stirring or as magical as when they were first read. “Talking Skull” wasn’t scary or as deep as I remembered. There was a sense of camp to it viz. failed seriousness.  Oh well, I am no longer ten years old.

Someday after we complete the set I hope to read them all. How many times have I said that before! I’ve got to make a more concerted effort to make time for reading. If I don’t I fear ‘The three investigators’ will sit on the shelf taunting me as books do when they want you to pick them out and enter them again.

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*I probably still am not.

Someone and I recently had experiences of mono no aware viz. the passing of Time and the ephemeral element of such. Last weekend he had dinner with a friend of ours whom we haven’t seen or heard from in many years perhaps decades. Someone reported it was a nice but sort of sad for our friend had clearly aged; he was not as ‘sharp’ as was.  They talked of times together (circa late 90s/early 00s) at places no longer open with friends no longer in touch.

While traveling to Michigan last weekend I wanted to eat at Olga’s, a Greek restaurant I regularly visited in my college days back in the early 80s. Olga was a vivacious young woman then who was just opening her first store. Last Saturdays’ food was the same but the place didn’t have the ambience of my college days. There was a sense of fading to the place; it lacked ‘vitality’. When I went to wash my hands I noticed on the cork bulletin board was a memorial: Olga had died only a few months ago. She was in her 90s.

We would all like to push the pause button in order to stop Time. People and places for which we have warm memories – we want them to stay just as they are. Of course this does not happen. In time people age and disappear and places change or close – they certainly don’t stay the same as when we were there.

One of my favorite poems “The Lost Hotels of Paris” by Jack Gilbert starts with the lines:

The Lord gives everything and charges
by taking it back. What a bargain.
Like being young for a while.

I wrote this entry while witnessing the terrible news of the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral. What a loss; what a sorrow. It raised in me the question not why it burned down but why this hasn’t happened sooner given centuries of candles and tribulations it has endured.

Later in the poem are these lines:

It is right to mourn the small hotels of Paris that used to be when we used to be. My mansard looking down on Notre Dame every morning is gone,
and me listening to the bell at night.  Venice is no more. The best Greek Islands
have drowned in acceleration.

The irony of these lines is Notre Dame has gone the way of the small hotels: another victim of Time.

It’s sad to see things go. This phenomenon will worsen as I age. A younger man does not think this way. He is making memories rather. He is visiting the small hotels of Paris or their equivalent.

But it’s the having not the keeping that is the treasure.

This is my favorite line of the poem. We may not be able to halt Time or keep things but we have the experiences.

My intuition tells me it is only a matter of time until Olga’s place closes and this too becomes a memory. I take solace these are good memories. I merely have to close my eyes and I am back in college with the future before me, eating gyros and laughing with Olga.

The Lord gives everything and charges by taking it back is indeed a bargain. I am glad to have had many equivalents of the small hotels of Paris.

 

One advantage of a weekend trip ‘back home’ is it provides a lot of blog-fodder. Here’s one.

With family gathering for the weekend Brother #4 grew quite excited at the prospect of having a ‘Boy’s night’ and not just to watch a silly old game but to play Dungeons & Dragons. He promised[bribed] his brothers and some nephews if they came he would provide them plenty of food and drink. We could see this meant a lot to him, so on Saturday night we braced ourselves and attended. 

Brother #4 may be Dungeon-master but he is also Grill-master. Indeed! He is quite the wizard when it comes to the Weber. He had several smokers and grills going as he practice his art. We ate smoked baby-back ribs with a sublime sauce, along with a truly most-excellent sockeye salmon which had been brined in gin and juniper berries. In contrast to this five-star cooking he served Pabst Blue Ribbon, which is fit for trolls and little else.

For thems unfamiliar with Dungeons & Dragons it is a fantasy game in which the players create characters who band together usually to go on a quest. Dungeon-master (A.K.A Brother #4) created a world in which said characters run around. The making of such a world with all its details takes a lot of time and effort. It is no good for anyone for the characters to be killed off early in the game as this means all of DM’s work goes down the swanny.  

Dungeon-Master with his PBR -ready for gaming.

I haven’t played D&D since I was 17 and I was walking into a game already in action. It felt like walking into Act III of a Verdi opera. I hadn’t the foggiest what was going on but my fellow players A.K.A. my relations helped me with the moves. They told me when to throw the dice, which told me if the hobgoblin captain missed hitting me over the head or I had successfully enchanted the troll to run off or I had wet my tunic.*

A group of Spos excited to see each other full up on ribs and PBR AND without Ritalin talk with excitement all at once and over each other. We joke and give each other contradictory advice (‘Open the chest! No throw your axe! etc.) I soon learned paying attention to the game was totally unnecessary; I merely had to wait until someone poked me in the ribs for me to roll the 20-sided die and then I was told if I had died or done what I was supposed to do. 

This went on for hours.

Our goal was to storm an outpost in order to dismantle it. There we got into an altercation with a dark elf, a hobgoblin (who smelled terrible), and several goblins or something like them. A fracas which normally takes a few minutes to do on film or in real life is drawn out in slow motion as we took turns throwing die while drinking beer and eating cheesy popcorn out of The Magical Bowl of Junk Food. There wasn’t a ‘no cellphones” policy so we had to continually focus our Halfling thief back into the game. 

A few of us nearly died. Some of us secretly hoped for just that as it meant we could go home.  

In the fantasy fracas fight we managed to kill the bad guys and NOT die which earned us experience points and a few bits of booty. Dungeon-master assured us there are many more adventures ahead but the players had had enough. Brother #4 did not make his saving throw against Brother #3’s Spell of Limits-setting so the game was done. The Step-nephew then got paged – his wife had started her contractions so it was off to the House of Healing for him after hugs and congratulations from the brothers for a job well done in all areas. 

I don’t know when I will summoned again to don my long sword and short bow but I am at the ready. Next time I will host and we will have proper libations – no rubbish and no Orcs.  

*I am told Dwarf Clerics do this often in melees. 

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections hired a consulting firm (a group of Goths who smelled terrible) who came to the conclusion in order to boost traffic on the blog “I should post cat photos” Unfortunately there are no cats readily at hand to exploit. The boisterous board solved the problem in the usual way: they went on a rapine and brought back a couple of cats. They explained they went a-viking over to “Mitchell is Moving” for Dudo and Moose.

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Here is “Moose” taking in the Michigan scenario.  

 

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“Dude”isn’t too sure about this foreign exchange program either, but likes the perch provided by the thoughtful Board. 

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Apparently I am in someone’s spot on the couch. 

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A compromise was made. “Moose” makes a good hot water bottle. 

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Here is “Dudo” helping me with my Saturday morning homework.
I never get this sort of assistance from Harper! 

 

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Oh those crazy cats! What ever would be do without them?! 

I may just have to keep the cats for a while before boxing them up to send back to Spain.  🙂 

I woke this morning at 315AM from a dream resembling a painting by Hieronymous Bosch. I am scheduled this morning to fly to Michigan Land of Perpetual Snow and Ice.  I am visiting Brother #3 for a weekend of board games and good scotch (no rubbish). The flight leaves at 6AM. Someone did my travel arrangements.  I prefer ‘civilized flying’ which consists of first class arrangements none before 10AM. Alas, today is not such. I am among the hoi polloi.

Spos like each other and like gregarious seagulls they tend to congregate when they can.  My Progenitors (AKA Mother and Father) got wind of my visit as did Brother #4; it sounds like this weekend won’t be the quiet sitting by the fireplace drinking Speyside and playing Parcheesi endeavor so much as going to and from Spo Houses and/or relations dropping in. Several Spos are under 10 and a few of us are young dogs so it looks to be a cacophonous callithump. Would I brought Adderall. The itinerary as changed as often as the weather. I don’t have to worry as do as I am told.  

The weekend will be pleasant (albeit impetuous) but it will be nice to find some quiet time for a nap. My work week was rawwther strenuous and I didn’t get much sleep. * Someone and I agreed he would not attend the Spo-mysteries but he would stay home to work and mind the dog. This all fell through at the last minute and it was too late to get him his own ticket to Spo-land. Rather than stay home knitting bones he is driving to Palm Springs today. When I am asked I will stick with the original explanation of his absence he is working lest my relations find it peculiar he isn’t here but California. I hope he gets some sleep himself for he’s more overworked than I am. 

They are soon to call boarding. I am in the last batch to board. I hope my row-mates washed before coming.  Not that it matters for as soon as I get into my seat (35A on the aisle) I hope to fall asleep quick as a quarter note and orbit the moons of Jupiter.  In their defense I got through Delta/TSA quickly. Mercifully there was no shooting. 

 

*It feels like ages since I read blogs (worse luck!). I hope to remedy this this weekend.

My three year residency in psychiatry/neurology at the University of Chicago went from 1989-1992. There were six in my class: two men and four women. We had some things in common and we had vast differences too. However we were a good group – we had to be as the work was strenuous. It required a lot of cooperation and assistance even during times of friction. They were a sort of family. After we graduated we vowed to keep in touch. You can guess what happened. We quickly lost track of each other. I remember years later hearing through the grapevine Peter’s wife had died. I called and left word but he didn’t call me back. Diane and I tried a few text messages when that became available but it didn’t endure.  For nearly thirty years in my professional loneliness I’ve often wondered where they were and how they turned out – and if they remember me.

Yesterday I received out of the blue a letter from Juliet. She sent greetings and update how she was. She listed all six’s office information; she hoped we could get together someday. Interesting to read the five of them still work/reside in the Chicago area. I figured Denise, who was from South Africa, had long ago returned home.

I was struck speechless by this blast from the past. I felt a euphoria I had not felt in many months. It is like when you thought someone had forgotten you – or was even dead – only to discover they are still connected to you despite time and distance. I wrote back immediately wrote to Juliet (fir she included her email) telling her I was delighted to hear from her and yes I said yes I will yes to a reunion.

What will it be like to see people you haven’t seen in thirty years? My memory of them is frozen in the early 90s. I suspect most of them must be grandparents by now. Are they happy in their professions? Did they turn out different than what the thought? I remember Heidi vowed to become a Freudian analyst –did she do so?  I have so many questions to ask.

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Juliet sent along with her letter this photograph. I remember this picture. Juliet, Peter, Diane and Urs Truly are standing in the back row. Denise and Heidi are sitting  around our teacher Dr. Markus. He didn’t wasn’t in great health then; I fear he is dead.

When I look at myself circa 1990 I squirm some with embarrassment how young and green I was and that is how they probably remember me.  I wonder what they will think of me in my current state of being. I hope to find out very soon.

I work three days a week in the Phoenix office while the other two are spent in Mesa. The two locations constantly send things back and forth to each other. Guess who is the messenger boy.* At the end of each work day the staff packs up papers, charts, and do-dads for Urs Truly to schlep home and bring tomorrow to the other place. Things are tranpsorted via a black file box. I christened this “The most difficult case”.

The Most Difficult Case and I have been attached and wandering about The Valley of the Sun for 15 years like Jacob Marley’s Ghost. About a month ago it became unhinged.**  We could see it was just a matter of time when the top comes completely off making The Most Difficult Case feckless.

They say the time to dig the well is before you are thirsty. I’ve been on the look out for a replacement before the clinic is obliged to get one.  Last weekend while killing time in Office Max (don’t ask) I found this lovely item:

 

Behold The Most Difficult Case II  !!!

It has some advantages over the old one: II is slightly larger than I which is good as besides patient charts and what-not I use TMDC to transport my dirty dishes and tea things.*** TMDC II doesn’t have a handle but a collapsable pull handle like a carry on case at the airport. It also has a combination locks for the hinges. The instructions warned me the makers are not responsible for remembering my custom-made combinations.  I picked the two area codes in the area – a precise if not too imaginary decision so staff will remember them.

The House Manager and the Boss Woman were pleased as punch with my purchase. I suspect they were silently relieved I did NOT purchase a Versace bag or last year’s Prada as I had threatening to do.

TMDC II is bit oh-so-practical dull but I plan to coif it up with some fabulous stickers.

Come back in six months it may be as bedecked as the Berlin Wall.

 

*No, I don’t get paid extra for this service. One time I forgot to bring things so the House Manager at the time asked one of the counselors if she would do so as she was headed that way. She took umbrage stating she couldn’t be bothered as she is a professional.

**Better it than I.

***Occasionally these spill out onto the papers and charts. Oh the embarrassment. No one dares tell me to cut this out though.

Walking the dog

It was 3 April 2010 when Harper came home to us. I’ve been walking the dog ever since. She was approximately a year old upon her arrival, so this makes her now ten. I guess she is officially an old dog. I see subtle signs this is so: her snout is growing white; she naps more often and longer. While she doesn’t leap up with the same zeal upon hearing the W-word she is excited. It is a comfort to see someone sees the mundane with such euphoria.

It’s April; the morning walks grow more pleasant. At 5AM we are walking again in nautical twilight so it is not as dark. It’s also not as cold; these AM strolls feel more pleasant. I try to vary our paths to give Harper new scents but also to keep her memory on the lay of the land if ever she should get out/get lost and need to find her way home.

It is curious where Harper does her business. Squatting or lifting leg seems to be random and suddenly decided. In contrast she is quite particular where she takes a dump. I’ve applied this knowledge to ascertain she accomplishes this task if I know she’s to be crated afterwards.

Over the years Harper grows disinterested in the rabbits who taunt her from a distance. In her youth she was quite vigilant at a bunny-sighting and pull at the lease wanting to chase after them. Nowadays she seems to give them hardly a glance. Is this sign her vision has lessened? Perhaps it is wisdom: they are impossible to catch and/or not worth pursuing. She’s much more interested now in the pillars and the bushes, in which she sticks her snout for a strong inspection. It is a joy seeing her so intent.

I made the mistake the other day to walk the dog while listening to the news. It was all so depressing. I felt quite disconsolate. I took Harper home, closed the doors and drew the blinds, and bedded down with dog. Sometimes this feels like the only good to do. Dogs are uncanny they measure our moods.  After ten years of co-living and co-operating it is a comfort we have each other in our respective declines.

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