This is an curmudgeon entry; thems who are cheerful may want to come back tomorrow.

Every year when I drag out the Hallowe’en trimmings and reflect back on my memories of the holiday I wax nostalgic on past times and things. It would be nice to turn back time Cher-like and have some lovelies now dead as dodos.  

Hallowe’en is one of them. If you didn’t care for it you didn’t participate; you kept the porch light off and that’s that. Now it is a contentious topic for the Fundies trying to ban it as it worships Satan or makes girls have sex or something. My elementary school had an all day party (with costumes) and a parade. A friend of mine who is a principal tells me no one does this anymore thanks to a handful of howling righteous types.  

Another item I would like back is feeling good when the telephone rings. If the phone rang one leapt up in anticipation of something positive. Is this grandmother? Your best friend? Someone longing for a chat in an otherwise dull afternoon? Thanks to call ID we now know who is calling, and most of the time this is ‘bad news’ as if things were OK they would text. Worse is a number you don’t recognize. These are invariably a telemarketer or a scam artist or someone who wants something.  Let’s face it, phone calls are a bummer.  

Similar is the news. Do I have a false memories here?  Turning into the half-hour news wasn’t the dreadful depressing experience it now is. The news is constant, sensational, and always bad. Even as I type this my phone is going off with the latest Trump shenanigan. *

Sundays – empty indolent Sundays! We went to church in the morning and then the rest of the day was stay at home and do whatever.  There was no on-line work or cellphones to blur work and home. Mother and Father didn’t house keeping and yard work on this day. They read the paper; we kids played games or read books or (if the weather was nice) were shooed outside and allowed to roam about unsupervised having to rely on our imaginations how to spend the day. Can you imagine?  

The thou-shall-nots in the Old Testament more or less rest upon the axiom things are good if they are clear in types and boundaries. Wearing clothes of different fibers; eating foods with odd features; gender confusion (no inappropriate gender items please).   I now see some psychological benefits to this approach.  Sunday as a day of rest – sans work seems psychologically most sensible.  News at set time again and not at all others would relieve a lot of stress in my opinion. 

As we age we face new complex and hard to grasp changes; this makes us yearn for time were allegedly simpler and more defined.  There’s no going back but I can do some things still like turn off the phone, don’t read the news all the time, and spend my Sundays doing nothing. This qualifies me as a curmudgeon yes but I my psyche will be better for it. 


Harper says: when in doubt get horizontal. 


*I turned off the notification. 

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections sent a less-than-kindly email asking me to knock off the Hallowe’en stuff for a while. The Board does not celebrate Hallowe’en; they see it as Celtic codswallop, an object of suspicion, a front for some uprising. Best thing to do with Celts (I am told) is take away their fun-size Snickers bars and decapitate them.* This doesn’t give me much to write on unfortunately. These days when my mind isn’t on spooks and such it is ruminating on mundane matters such as finishing the taxes and doing the dishes. This is hardly worth blogging about.

At the office my minions – nowadays referred to as Thing 1 and Thing 2 -continue to make me feel as old as the Celts (the ones with heads). I made reference to Noel Coward whom neither has heard. I explained he was sort of Madonna’s grandfather. There is Noel who begat Judy who begat Madonna who begat Gaga who …. I don’t know whom she begat. I suspect lots. Thing 1 and Thing 2 told me about someone but she sounded as alien to me as Noel Coward is to them. Patience above! I am old!  Both Things seem to have the sniffles; one is getting over a bad cold and the other is coming down with one.

I’m not feeling so good myself the result of too much work and not enough chocolate ice cream. A more mundane explanation is my blood pressure remains sky-high and all the HTN Rx hardly put a dent in it. Happily there is progress. My readings have dropped from dangerously to worrisome high. By Monday if things aren’t better I am making the medical decision to reuse the Rx that actually works and gums be damned. The dentist won’t be pleased but I would rather have dentures than a stroke.

This morning starts another season of  The “Live from the Met” opera series. We are seeing ‘Turandot’. For thems unfamiliar with this fairy tale opera I will try to do it justice:

A Chinese princess with big hats and men issues is nasty to her suitors. Meanwhile cliche Charlie Chan characters run around on stage. She beheads a few people as she’s basically a bitch but the hero manages answer her riddles and ‘win’ her over and they melt into a puddle from love or something. The composer died three quarters into the opera and so may we.  Nessum Dorma everyone.



*With the Gauls they take a more lenient approach: just set fires to all public buildings and take what runs out.

The neighbors put up Christmas decorations as soon as possible; some of them do so on Thanksgiving afternoon. Not as many put up decorations for All Hallows Eve but when they do they get at it right away. 1 October seems to be the ‘green light’ – or is that ‘orange’? – to haul out the Halloween yard trappings. Urs Truly tends to do likewise.  I don’t do everything at once. Last night I exchanged the outside white lights for orange and I put out the ‘trick or treat’ door mat.   It’s a start.

I don’t usually succumb to on-line ads but I did last week. I saw a video on Facebook about  ‘skull pizzas” consisting of making little pizzas in a skull-shaped muffin tin. Mr. Bezos was all too happy to sell me such and the tin arrived quick as a quarter note. I went to Uncle Albertsons and bought cheese, sauce, and premade pizza dough along with some mushrooms and meat.   20 minutes at 400F.


The first batch came out OK: there weren’t any major errors or disappointments. They are a bit more ‘doughy’ than I thought it would be so next time I will roll out the crust a tad thinner.  I forgot to chop some onions and I didn’t want to try anchovies in the first attempt. The grease from the pepperoni gave them a ‘stained’ appearance but I think it lends to their allure.  I ate mine with relish.  I could make little sweetie skull cakes as well (the pan came with a recipe).


The elves on the shelves at YouTube have rewarded my on-line search for pizza skull cooking directions with a  bombardment of video recommendations on making Halloween cakes, cookies, decorations etc. Most of these alleged ‘easy’ recipe ideas look like something Martha Stewart spends hours creating and who’s got time for that?  This young man on YouTube I was told to check out as he makes exquisite little pumpkin cakes.  I watched the video slightly stunned as the stepwise process involved in making these things. I give him credit: he is a talented fellow and nice looking to boot. He obviously knows his way around a kitchen.  He’s handsome, talented, and he boasts of a beautiful husband and he makes everything look easy.  These types make me sick and I just want to smack him in the face because I know if I try to do these recipes mine will take much longer and come out looking much worse and this will invariably make me cross.  Oh well. There are other recipes I can do that won’t make me feel deficit. This weekend I think I will make snickerdoodles which are simple, spicy, and never look bad – like my men.

I haven’t done a ‘sometimes’ entry in a while. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections hates them but the Spo-fans seem to like them, so here goes another…


… I want to call in sick even though I am not sick just to have a day off unplanned that I can waste doing absolutely nothing to advance myself or the household.

… Goldfish crackers make a good meal replacement – better than Ensure.

… I wish people would text/email me rather I initiating them.

…. I watch the same Youtube videos over and over.

…. Harper heaves a deep sigh that rattles me; it makes me realize she’s ten years old now and on the decline.

… I want to quit medicine. It’s not that I am burned out, it’s just that I’ve been doing the same job for thirty years.

…  A patient actually stops to say ‘Thank you you saved me life” – it makes my day.

… Going into the walk-in closet and closing the door and sitting in the darkness is an excellent way to escape the world. It is a sort of deprivation tank without the water.

…I want to try cannabis to see what all the fuss is about – but I dare not.

… Coyotes howl in the distance outside my house; it is spooky, sad, and comforting all at the same time.

… I see a sunrise or sunset that floods me with a marvelous satisfaction I could die tomorrow knowing I’ve beheld a marvelous story.

… Someone needs to be told to do something as his telepathic powers to intuit what I want him to do have gone rusty over the years.

… Sometimes I need to stop everything and figure out if I have mislaid things like the wallet,  the keys, my pillbox, and my telephone.  Come to think of it this is not a ‘sometimes’ endeavor. This is an all times activity.







Freud believed the primal drives are sex and death. It turns out what really floats our collective boats is sugar and grease.*  Add some starch and you get the holy trinity of gustatory ecstasy. Every October I make some Hallowe’en trail mix. The recipe is simple but oh-so-tasty combination of crunchy starchy yummies and sweeties. 


The Starches

A box of cheese crackers is combined with pretzels and scoops of Count Chocula cereal.  Albertson’s apparently doesn’t sell Count Chocula cereal, so I substituted with Chocolate Cheerios.  These items are mixed in a bowl while Urs Truly the cook keeps his eyes on the aesthetic balance of the three ingredients. A jar of peanuts are added. I use honey roasted types. 



The Sweeties

I couldn’t find a bag of ‘Autumn mix’ but this is easily replicated using a bag of candy corn and another with creme pumpkins.  M&Ms are added. This year I passed over the usual orange/yellow/brown types for this year’s whimsical green and purples. Yogurt covered raisins serve as the ‘ghosts’.


The original recipe calls for precise measurements: 16 ounces of this and 12 ounces of that. I usually start off using the scale but this is always quickly given up for just pouring things together and seeing how it all looks.



Behold! Halloween trail mix! 

I think I don’t care for the purple/green as much as the traditional colours.  As usual I’ve made heaps – you could fill your bins on my trail mix. I will bring some to the offices and what is leftover I will keep for myself. 


The original recipe:

16 oz. box cheese crackers

16 oz. jar honey roasted peanuts

9 oz. pretzel squares

15 oz. Reese’s Pieces or M&Ms

2 cups raisins or yogurt covered raisins

10 oz. cocoa puffs or Count chocula cereal

16 oz. bag Brachs autumn candy mix. 

optional –

10 oz. box caramel popcorn

10 oz. box Cheerios.


*There is a “Sylvia” cartoon in which a woman asks her gal pal “What do you like better sex or cake?” Her friend replies: “Is is chocolate?” 

Every October I make grandiose plans for a fun-filled Halloween. This always includes watching a lot of movies apropos for the season. I dream of sitting at night watching them while consuming a big bowl of popcorn and a large stein of orange Kool-aid.* The chances of this happening are slim. It means making time for a movie AND sitting still to watch it. All the same making the list of what I want to see is jolly good fun.

The criteria are usually the same:

a) I want to see some movies I haven’t seen.

b) I want to see some I haven’t seen in so long I may as well call them ‘never seen before”.

Really I am open to most anything.  With that said I am not a big fan of  ‘gore’ or ‘slasher’ films. I would rather be scared by the uncanny than by a psycho-killer. I haven’t seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Nightmare on Elm Street but I ought to.

Here’s the 2019 list so far:



Dracula –  I can’t remember if I have actually seen it. I’ve seen countless clips but not the entire movie?  Patience above! If there is one movie for Halloween this is it.



Hocus Pocus – I am embarrassed to say I have never seen this movie. At show tunes night at the bar they often play Bette singing “I’ve put a spell on you” but that’s that.



The Haunting (1963) –  This remains as my all time favorite scary movie. It’s the only one on the list so far I’ve seen/seen recently. It isn’t a priority but still…. it can’t get any scarier than this.

The House on Haunted Hill – another one I’ve not seen.  It sounds stunning.


the witches4

The Witches – I remember seeing this in 1990 or so.  It wasn’t really ‘Halloween” but it did have lots of witches doing nasty things to little children which is what wicked witches are supposed to do. And then there are all those Huston poses!

Sleepy Hollow –  I read the short story just about every year but this time I want to see a movie version.

Hotel Transylvania –  I haven’t a clue if it is any good but the characters are correct.


Please! Spo-fans are encouraged to leave in the comments any “must see” movies for Halloween. Tell me your favorites and recommendations. Tell me something about why you find them good. I would be most grateful .


*This is what I would drink as a boy. I suppose if I get around to actually watching some flicks I will substitute the orange Kool-aid with some rye bourbon (no rubbish).


It is approximately half a mile walk from my hotel room door to the convention centre.  This the same length as a dog walk but the route is not as circuitous. It does have its obstacles however. There are slow-pokes and there are groups who walk arm-in-arm. The greatest hazard seems to be the scooters and thems who ride them. I’ve heard of these fiendish contraptions but I haven’t encountered them until now. In Phoenix it is too hot to be out of doors and no one walks anywhere as the distances are vast and one needs a vehicle with AC. I should ask Someone if scooters are downtown where he works. If they are not there yet, I vote we ban them before they arrive. 


Scooters are abandoned where the last user stopped. I don’t know how this works. They are often left standing in the middle of the sidewalk or lying on the ground where people can step onto or (worse) trip over them. Apparently the silly things stand there until someone fancies to jump on and take off. 

I don’t know what worries me more: the scooters at rest or the ones in use. The youngsters using them:

a) don’t wear helmets

b) drive them around on the sidewalk. 

Shouldn’t they be off the sidewalk?

Scooters-folks think they are the last Coca-cola in the desert; all must get out of their way. I learned this the hard way as one if these villains came up behind me apparently failing to tell me telepathically to step out if his way because at the last second he had to swerve around me and tell me verbally my error.


Fearsome Beard and The Good Doctor Spouse (the dears!) last night at supper told me I scooters often end up in the water system and recently one old man was caught sabotaging several. I am not one to condone such shenanigans but I can empathize with the miscreant. These acts of violence are two sides of the same coin: frustration  the sidewalks aren’t safe. 

I’ve just returned from dinner. Between the restaurant and the hotel kids in the 20s were zooming up and down the sidewalks thick as fleas. Not one of them were wearing a helmet nor do they look attentive to the road. Lord love us! Many had headphones ensconced on their heads – that can’t be good for safety. On the positive I was able to shout out the scooter-equivalent of you kids get off my lawn without them hearing me.

I am safe in my room now. On the way up I did not throw any scooters in the bay. 



One of the challenges of my job is I don’t see things ‘abnormal’ but normal things out of proportion or out of control. I spend a lot of time determining if behaviors and symptoms are beyond acceptable and now into pathology.  Eating is an example.  We have to eat so when is eating a pathology?  This morning’s symposium was on the topic of binge eating disorder. When is eating too much considered a disorder and in need of help? 

Not too long ago doctors never asked patients about their food intake (quality or quantity) unless the patient looked overweight.  Then the doctor would tell an overweight person “Quit stuffing yourself Joe” – and Joe either did or didn’t. 

We now know telling a person who is overweight* or binge eats** to stop eating so much is as useful as King Cnut ordering back the tide. Binge eating is about a loss of control about eating.  It is mostly done at night while no one is looking; it is associated with shame. Patients don’t usually bring this up and docs aren’t good at asking about it.  Folks who shovel food right from the refrigerator aren’t coming to see me with this as the ‘chief complaint’. They are coming in with depression, anxiety, insomnia, low energy etc. About 90% of folks with binge eating have other disorders but treating these co-morbid conditions don’t necessarily cause the binge eating to improve.  It needs to be directly addressed and directly treated. 

Like a lot of mental illnesses binge eating suffers from stigma. It is seen as a lack of willpower and your own damn fault.  Men are not as often to have binge eating but they are less likely to bring it up and if they do they are told merely to man up and stop it as dammit men have the ability to do so.*** 

I have a bit of a binge eating problem.I  have a nightly battle to not go to the kitchen and eat bread stuffs like bagels – which I hide from Someone. He would not judge yet I hide it all the same from shame.  When confronted with nasty chips I react in the same emotional way as an abstaining addict confronted by his drug of choice. The momentary pleasure of a starch binge is nothing to the shame the happens afterwards and the self-chastisement for succumbing.  My ‘case’ is mild; it is a fraction of the type and severity I see in clinic.  Part of seeking help is admitting the problem and ‘coming out’ to longer hide.  

It is hoped by going to medical conferences I will go back to work with improved ways to treat patients. Once in a while I get a bit of help myself; this morning I got some. 

*The lecturers spent some time teaching us to be careful with words. Being overweight is bad and it needs to be addressed – but don’t use words like  ‘fat’,  ‘obese”, or ‘large”. 

**It turns out only 50% of thems who binge eat are overweight. One can’t screen out the binge eaters simply by sizing up their stature. 

***Women ironically are more likely to get treatment compared to men as women are more likely to ask for help – and they are seen as less able to do things on their own.  Oh the pain. 

I thought my four day conference would be a dull thing viz. sitting in lectures and spending the evenings in my room, reading.  It’s been far from dull. Spo-fans may be amused by some of my shenanigans so here’s the scoop:

The main lecturer is known for his bowties. Out of whimsy I wore one too. Everybody else was dressed down.* People kept coming up to me to say how well I was running the show. I’m sorry but men who wear bowties don’t all look alike. I finally had to take it off and I changed into Spo-shirts as is my wont. 

So far the lectures have been ho-hum bread and butter psychiatry:  treating depression, PTSD, anxiety and what not. The usual things. The highlight lecture for Urs Truly has been one on statistics and how to read medical papers.  This allows me to cut through the rubbish and the razzle-dazzle of pharmaceutical brochures to get to the data to determine how efficaciousis this medicine. I now have splendid formulas to calculate how likely a Rx will produce results and how likely it will do harm.  Gads but I hate data twisted to sell a product. 

This afternoon when I should  have have been paying attention to the latest in treatment- resistant depression* I was on an app seeing who was nearby. One nice looking fellow caught my interest and  he was siting nearby. I reached out to the stranger with a howdy-do. He replied “Hi Spo I remember you”. After playing twenty questions it was revealed he was a long-lost colleague. It’s funny seeing someone you haven’t seen in nearly 15 years. Who says these apps are worthless? I am back in touch with an old friend. We had a marvelous supper and we got caught up. I hope we stay in touch this time. 

I forgot to pack deodorant.  Oh the embarrassment.  Nothing at the Marriott Marina is cheap but I ask you – 11$ for Old Spice roll-on?  I’ve been fleeced!  

It’s time to sleep. After all it is a school night. There is a 715AM lecture on binge eating disorder – breakfast is included.


*The audience looked quite casual except the staff who were all in suits – except this one:


He’s up to no good that’s certain. 

**There are ten tricks to consider; information provided upon request. 

After work today I drive to San Diego to attend a medical conference. I am pow-wowing for four days with my fellow wizards on the latest in head-shrinking. Someone was to go with me but plans have changed; he will be staying home.* This is a disappointment for I dislike being alone in hotels. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good. I will have 5-6 hours of solo driving. I am looking forward to my podcasts and having Spo-reflection on life, universe, and everything.

The flipside of the convention is ersatz spa-time. Sans Someone I suspect I will be doing a convalescing up in my hotel room – catching up on reading and sleep. I am bringing a few drams of scotch with me so I may have a small snort in the evening. This sounds delicious.

The only excitement of the retreat is an audience with Fearsome Beard. He and his spouse Ken (the dear!) will have supper with me on Friday night. I am looking forward to seeing these fine fellows, both well over four feet.

Another perk of my four-day-long not-at-work shenanigan is I should have time to write proper blog entries more regular and (better yet) read others.

More anon after I get to San Diego…….


*Someone will be home-alone waiting for the repairman or somebody like him. There is also the problem of the Hello Fresh parcel we forgot to cancel. Imagine coming home after four days to find a rotted box of foodstuffs at the doorstep !

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