I think TBDHSR is watching Fox News for inspiration and instruction on how to handle a strike as they seem ensconced in their position not to admit fault or concede compromise. Everything wrong is due to The Muses and/or Obama.  Thank goodness they don’t have a Twitter account – can you imagine?  I am keeping mum but I think The Archetype Women’s Union’s demands are reasonable and workable:

Weekends and holidays off

No posts on politics

No posts using the the word ‘exquisite”

The Board Room gets fumigated on a regular basis and the severed heads on pikes removed on a monthly basis, regardless.

The Skanks want a beer keg (I suspect the Board will bend on this one).

The Maenads be allowed to join their union (oh the horror).

I am up to my oxters in dismay: I have nothing but myself to draw upon for writing material. I am hyper-vigilant for topics and blogging bits.


The Great Courses (the dears!) sent me an email telling me they are having another blow-out sale. I emailed Someone to inform him TGC has a 36-part lecture series on Ancient Egypt on sale and this genuine bargain is a must-have-or-perish item and please please please purchase it as the sale closes this evening. Always the rationalist he responded with a reminder it was only last night I vowed ‘No more Great Courses” as we have over a half a dozen untouched.  It was only a week ago I bought the lecture series on Joyce’s “Ulysses”. *   He is a dear and went ahead and bought it. It joins the pile of the ‘to hear’ series.**

I was a glutton for learning back in my University of Michigan days when every semester at the release of the course catalog I felt like a child at Christmastime with the Sears catalog. Oh how lovely! I wanted two of these and four of those etc.  I was restrained then by the physical limitation of being able to be in only one class at a time and how far apart they were on campus. Also, tuition was expensive.

Thanks to technology I can download as courses as I please. Now what limits me is the ‘free time’ to hear them. I am not very good at multi-tasking, especially if I try to listen and learn something.  These lovely lecture series have to compete with my myriad collection of podcasts and twice a month CME (continuous medical education) lectures.  My mind maybe a giant black hole of endless need but there are only 24 hours in a day and most of that is for work, worse luck.

I think I have enough Great Courses, CME, and Podcast episodes to last a long while if not a lifetime.  This season I will abjure the catalogs which arrive once a week (dirty dastards!). I promise not to buy any more until I have used up what I have.

Unless of course The Great Courses releases a lecture series “Rolling down grass hills”.  That is indeed a must-have-or-perish item.



*At twenty dollars it was bargain.

**I recall we have bought but still to hear: Mythology; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Cooking; meteorology; geology; something on the history of the Native Americans, The Black Death (jolly good fun!) and now Ulysses .   I think there is one on The New Testament I started but lost interest in completing; I read the book – it ends badly.


journalwritingI just finished listening to podcast in which some great experts were talking to other great experts on the subject of being left-handed.  “What causes left-handedness?” was its title. I was disappointed but not surprised the answer is no one really knows for sure. I learned some interesting tidbits on the topic but no answers. It was a disappointment.

Urs Truly is left-handed and quite pleased about it. Like most left-handed people I can do a fair amount of things with my right hand in a pinch, including writing.  In contrast right-handers become helpless if their favored hand is out of sorts.   It is not true that “lefties are the only ones in their right minds” as being left-handed doesn’t guarantee your dominant brain side is right and vice versa.

I use a mouse and I sign with my right hand, which means I can write and operate a computer at the same time, and I can communicate in ASL while simultaneously taking notes.  I am right-handed when using the scissors and to open an obstinate pickle jar. I put on my trousers left leg first. I kick a ball with my right foot.  I suppose if I ever have a stroke my hummingbird brain is diffuse enough for the other side to take over.

It’s been said there are more southpaw murderers and psychopaths but then there are more geniuses and presidents and astronauts too. It turns out left-handers are no more or less intelligent than the right-handers.  The only difference is desk preference.

I just learned Nephew #3 is showing signs of right-handedness, thus crushing my hope at least one of my niblings will join the blessed 10% of the population who find it a nuisance to unzip their trousers.

Someone is right handed although I think he was one of those unfortunates who as a child was left handed but forced to become right, which make me shudder.   At home things seem set up mostly ‘right’ for his convenience.  All the same it does make it easy when traveling to designate which side of the bed and which side of the hotel closet is  whose.  In restaurants with group settings I routinely scan the arrangements to see where I should sit to do the least damage of knocking elbows with my right-handed table mates.

Ah the life of a lefty. It’s a bit of a nuisance but I wouldn’t want to ever give it up.


Someone informs me his jury duty may come to close this week sooner than expected – good news indeed! Alas there is no parallel in blog-land as “The Great Strike” drags on. I dissuaded The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections from doing their usual solve-all solution of setting fire to as many public buildings as possible. They have noticed there are a good number of comments coming in despite the strike, so I fear they don’t have a great incentive to negotiate a close.  Divine inspiration – who needs it? Well, I do. I can only go on writing up things about the house for so long.

This morning I woke up this morning to a miasma next to me in bed. Harper’s been doing that a lot lately. I suspect it’s her new type of treat. Lately she smells a little too much ‘like a dog’ which means it is high time for a bath.  Harper does not care for baths. When Someone turns on the taps she has a terrible intuition it’s for her and she goes into her house looking like a prisoner on death row. She puts up with the washing-up with pained dignity.  She perks up during the drying off; she finds the rub down with towels jolly good fun. Oh how excited we are now ! She smells quite clean afterwards. I like to put my nose up to her back or belly and take deep breaths.

I recently read in the medical journals frequent bathing (daily) may not be all it’s cracked up to be. It hurts the immune system and it removes essential oils from the skin exposing us to bacteria and it washes away the ‘good’ bugs that defend us from the bad ones. There seems to be some data to support bathing only every 3-4 days as more salubrious towards our health.  Really now.  I am one of those unfortunates who soon develops the redolence of a old goat if I forgo regular wash-ups.  This is especially true during the summer months in Phoenix when rinses become necessary every six hours or so.  I would be a bust on camping trips as I would quickly attract buzzards and bears while simultaneously scaring off my tent-mates.

I may be an earthy old bear but I am not one to attract mosquitoes.  I seldom get bites for which I am grateful. Apparently I don’t emit enough carbon dioxide or there is “Off!” in my antiperspirant.

In contrast to bugs Harper finds me quite delicious. She will lick my face, forehead, and scalp too if given the opportunity. She doesn’t do that to Someone, much to his dismay. Apparently I am a tasty treat – better than a snozberry.

Well that is enough on this sordid topic.  I need to take a shower now as I am post-workout. There is nothing so nice as to wash off the day and get into bed among the flannel sheets and feel warm and clean. Harper makes a good hot water bottle and she smells of Johnson & Johnson.  Now to do something about her breath…….


th    Someone and I have been invited to a party. I can’t remember when we last went to one. To be specific, it is the gala dinner our friend DougT has every year in Hyde Park, Chicago at the ‘butterfly museum’. He and his partner AKA The Wild One are putting together a table of twelve. The thoughtful dear asked us to attend and we said yes.*

This soiree requires a tuxedo. I own one; it resides in a bag in the back of a closet. I better try it on now for size. I recall it was purchased when I lived in Chicago, which is 17 years ago if it’s a day. Someone will point out even if it fits it will be ‘outdated’ and there will be talk. He has a point. I better rent one as he always does.

I am not fond of tuxedos; I associate them with blackjack dealers.  Wouldn’t it be jolly good fun to appear to the fundraiser in top hat and tails rather? I think so, but this may be showy and outdoing the host, which would be tactless.  Someone is very fond of tuxedos; he will no doubt insist we rent and he will tell me where to do this and when and what I should get.  I’ve learned it’s no good trying to find one myself or even get a tux ‘in which I look good’ or feel comfortable so I might as well go with the latest fashion. For me it is darned near impossible not to look like a waiter while wearing one.

I think there is an indirect task to this assignment other than filling chairs at the “A” table: bedazzling the elderly lady museum patron donors to put out as it were. I can be very charming this way. Anything to help out. Even if it means putting on a penguin suit. I just better get that pizza for my pains.

Spo-fans:  do you own or rent a tux? 


*I hope by early May the faraway kingdom of Chicago has warmed up sufficiently to melt off the snow (it could happen). Our investor at ML resides in Chicago. We will have a ‘hot date’ with him to go over our finances.  What I am most looking forward to on this trip is not the dinner or the finances but is getting a proper king-size-titanic-unsinkable-Molly-Brown deep-dish style Chicago pizza.  I doubt the butterfly dinner will be serving such.

There is no news-updates about the strike. The opposing sides are not talking to each other today. This may be less from impasse or psychological ploy but more about the effects of hangovers, for last night was St. Patrick’s Day. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections is no doubt sleeping off a boozer and hasn’t arisen. I doubt The Archetype Ladies Union has a bit of the same (The Skanks particularly).  Whatever the cause(s), I don’t have no inspiration.

I am forced to write about the cutlery.

Here at the Spo-house we have several sets of such. Like the Cantebury Tales, I will narrate in order of hierarchy.

First of all I have my maternal grandmother’s silverware.  The collection is located in a fancy felt-lined wooden box.  It is for formal dinners of which we haven’t had in years. I don’t remember when we last it out, and I am not quite certain where it is anymore. Perhaps under the guest bed. Mother always had it hidden lest there is a break-in and theft. I have done the same.  As it is proper silver it always needs polishing and it can’t be put readily in the dishwasher.  People my age and younger just aren’t into this sort of silverware. I could not give it away to the nieces.  I have thought of selling it to a silversmith to melt down for cash, but out of guilt I hold onto it.

In the kitchen drawer is a stainless steel set of forks, knives etc. I think we purchased at Marshall Fields in Chicago (may it rest in peace).   This set is seldom used as well. There is a sense of foolishness to pull out two sets for everything out of the twelve. There is a sense of ‘use all or none it” so we don’t. The salad fork is too close in shape and size to the dinner fork so they are continually mixed up in the tray.

What we use (alas) are two simple sets of cheap stuff that stand in a brown ceramic container that stand on the kitchen island. These are very old utensils– one set I think goes back to Someone’s bachelor days.  They are looking cheap and worn yet this is what we use in our daily eating. Most of the time we don’t bother ‘matching’ the two but grab whatever is needed at the moment.  The supper table is a mismatch. Neither set is complete and decades of use has resulted in some losses.

Finally, I have four or five mismatched spoons I use for work. They go back and forth between home and office  with the tea things. I have no idea where I got these spoons. I suspect I picked them up like abandoned puppies found in various office kitchenettes, left behind when staff member leave.  Sometimes the spoons end up in the mentioned kitchen container with the everyday stuff.

It’s fascinating we have two complete sets of cutlery (one formal and one ‘daily formal’) yet we always use the cheap stuff. I suppose it’s easier to just grab the ones out and at eye-level.  Maybe we are saving ‘the good stuff’ for times that never come.

My favorite set of course is the mismatched spoons, perhaps because I am more fond of rescue mutts than pure-breeds.  I am on the look out for more. Although I am in no need for more spoons I would like a formal set of 8-12.  Aunt Clara has her doorknobs and I have my lovely Loffels.

Please tell me about your silverware. Do you have several sets? Any ‘really good stuff”? Do you have a ‘favorite spoon”? 

The blog is at a standstill.  There was a massive sudden strike on Wednesday. The Muses, The Fates, The Norns, The Graces  – even the The Skanks –they all walked out and are picketing outside of WordPress.  They are carrying angry signs of protest saying the world is rulled by dopes and unfair wages and working environment conditions.  The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections  (predominately male and charm-free) are conducting  the negotiations  like a third-world dictator  during an unpopular strike.  It’s rather ugly and the details are not worth mentioning.  The harridans actually locked me out of my own blog by changing the password!  (hence why I haven’t been writing). I am caught between two archetypal groups neither showing signs of backing down.  Needless to say I haven’t a clue what to write.   Patience please and don’t cross the picket line, The Furies are mean drunks.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day which is unfortunate it falls on a Saturday. Usually I wear to work my green bow tie and I play Brian Baru’s March in the halls, all  for the fun of it. I don’t see any point in wearing green today as I am Home Alone and doing chores.  Someone had to work today, so I made him wear the St. Patrick’s Day bow tie.  Out of my 32 great-grandparents not one of them is Irish so I will ‘celebrate’ with a snort of Teeling and read Yeats.  That’s good enough Irish for me.

I do hope The Archetype Ladies Union finishes its strike soon and gets back to work providing me with something interesting upon which to write.  I wasn’t even aware The Muses et. al. received wages for putting notions into the inner-recesses of my pumpkin, which may be the problem.  As for the working environment, what do you expect from a bunch of bellicose Vikings who don’t trust bathing? I am on their side of the strikers on this one. I would like someone, anyone, to come in and tidy-up the Boardroom which hasn’t seen soap since the Middle Ages from the looks of it.



Another St. Patrick’s Day tradition for me is the annual post of this handsome leprechaun.  I’ve been trying to catch him for years, but  not for his pot of gold.

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!  Curious Things reaches fifty !!

So what would be apropos for such an austere occasion?  Let’s had a look around and see what is curious…….

My office opens out onto a balcony. Sometimes I open it up to let in some air. However the swinging glass door is prone to swing in and out if there is a breeze. What’s to do?  

I have this lovely red stiletto show, made of plastic. It looks like something a hobbit might wear to her prom.  


Most of the time it lies by the closed patio door. Many patients it is a real shoe that is missing its fellow. They often stare and ask what on earth it is doing there. I explain it is not my last year’s Prada but my intrepid doorstop. 



As a doorstop it beats the dreary brown triangular models by a country mile. I love it so.  No doubt there is talk behind my back but to my face they find it amusing.  

Laugher , after all, is the best medicine.  


Jolly good fun !


The other day I connected the dots on some half-conscious worry I’ve been having about my podcasts. I want to share my insight.

I listen to dozens of podcasts for I love them so. Several of them are about history while more are science-based (astronomy, biology, and psychology). Nearly all of them fall  into the common category of ‘being educational”.  I love learning; I have a rapacious appetite for knowledge.  The results of my greedy enterprise are I now have dozens of podcasts subscriptions*. Most of them put out new episodes on a continual basis. Every  morning there are new entries and I want to hear each and every one of them. Unfortunately this is beginning to resemble the ‘I Love Lucy episode’ with the chocolate wrapping conveyor belt:  too many are coming too quickly for me to ingest. After all, there are only so many free hours in the day – even by ‘doubling up a podcast with an activity such as ironing or walking the dog.  It seems at no time is my phone off but it is ‘getting caught up’ with podcasts all trying to teach me things.

The axioms “I can’t have it all” and “I can’t learn everything I want” are no-brainer insights. The revelation at hand was brought to me via one of my favorite podcasts “Hello from the Magic Tavern”**  This one is not educational. Far from it!  It is ‘fun’ ; it has no educational value whatsoever. It is the equivalent of eating a bag of nasty chips with a whole lot of cheese-dip. Oh so delicious!  When I last listened to it, I discovered I was feeling guilty I should be listening to something ‘good for me’ like ‘The Daily’.  Eh? What’s this!? While Ego was asleep at the switch some inner-whistle blower Complex has taken over my down time schedule and declared no education = wasting time.  I am not sure yet of its origins (an analysis in progress).

I have christened this complex “Tiger Mom”.

“Tiger mom is a mother raising her children in a traditional Chinese way, including strict rules, tough love, and discipline to get children to succeed.”

So much of my ‘down time’ is geared towards “improving myself”; I look down on ‘wasting time’.  Even my YouTube past times are towards the science and learning channels.   Go to my bookshelf and look at the ‘to read’ list. I can assure you they are classics and such.

So what the f-ck is wrong with reading rubbish or listening to a podcast on wizards and talking Badgers just for the sheer pleasure of doing so? Whence comes this inner Tiger Mom?  I need to know soon as this sense of cramming cosmic crud into my cranium is getting a bit wearing. What I really want is junk food, trash reading, and doggerel entertainment with no redeeming properties whatsoever.

The first step at shrinking The Tiger Mom Complex is recognition it is not Ego. The second step is taking action. I am now deleting podcast entries if they don’t immediately grab my interest. If I  listen to one and it isn’t floating my goat I will stop it. The next step is letting go of books that bore me despite the notion to plod through it for the sake of saying I have read it.

 By the way, Someone isn’t in touch with his Tiger Mom or he has kicked her out ages ago. He can watch TV for hours and feel no regret or sense he is wasting time or he ought to be doing something to improve himself.

Tiger Moms apparently push their children towards ‘success in life”. One could argue I got that now, so what the hell? I will always want to grow and learn and improve myself, but I think Tiger Mom can let up now. There is no test anymore to pass.

This weekend I may try watching Archer cartoons all Saturday.  Meanwhile I deleted the Ted-talks on global warming and the “Very Bad Words” episode on the the history of the @-hole word for the next set of Hello From the Magic Tavern.

Yeah, baby!


*On request I will gladly provide Spo-fans the list of recommendations.

**Three improv actors do a podcast from the mythical Land of Foon. Arnie fell through a timehole behind a Burger King in Chicago into Foon, where he hosts a weekly podcast with his two buddies Usidore the Blue and Chunt the talking Badger. It is a cross between The Firesign Theatre and Dungeons&Dragons. It is hilarious and quite worth a look-see.

OfficeOnce in a while I sit across from a long time patient with still active symptoms looking at me to ‘do something’ despite years of attempting to do so. What to do? For these types of cases, I have made ‘cheat sheets’. These are timelines written by hand on foolscap paper, which I keep in a folder unofficially titled ‘the rock-and-rollers”. At a glance can see all that has gone on before me. They are time consuming to make but they frequently come to the rescue when I am in the ‘what on earth am I do here?” position – which happens often. Thanks to them I can make logical recommendations based on history and trends and patterns rather than micromanagement or (worse) random guessing.

The folder needs periodic tidy-up, so every season I go through the ‘active’ pile and sort out the patients who have dropped out. Those not seen in over twelve months I move to another file with the precise if not too imaginative name of ‘Inactive’.  Like The Flying Dutchman some of these will come back but the majority will not.  Yesterday as I put the sheets in order, I wondered (as is my wont) why they didn’t return. Patients drop out all the time.  I don’t know if this happens more or less in psychiatry compared to other specialties. I don’t have the data to how my dropout rate compares to other shrinks. There are many possible reasons why patients drop out and don’t return:


They move away

There is a loss or change of insurance

There was a dissatisfaction with the clinic or with me.

They got better.*

Whatever the reason[s] the inactive pile always evokes thought. Since these patients were challenging (thus the need for a cheat sheet) most of them quickly come back to my memory. I sometimes recall their story but more often they disappeared without explanation.

The patients who died are the ones are the ones who evoke in me the most thought. I am seldom privy to how they died. The news mainly comes from a telephone message from a relation ‘Joe’ isn’t coming in anymore as he died last month.  Sometimes Joe’s death is announced via fax from the county medical examiner they have his body and please supply notes to help them with their inquest. Many of the inactive patients were old, sickly, and they didn’t take care of themselves. People with mental illness tend to not live as well or as long as people without such conditions.

The death of a patient evokes all sorts of emotions including angst about suicide. Most patients I see are at some risk for such. I can speak for most psychiatrists when a patient commits suicide the doctor becomes anxious about that what-ifs: had they missed something or should they had done things differently etc. Truth is when a patient in intent of killing themselves nearly nothing can stop them.

Regardless of the cause behind a long time patient going from the ‘active’ to the ‘inactive’ folder each one makes me wonder if I really did anything lasting for them while we were together. Mind, some were with me for years if not  nearly a decade. It was my task to be with them on their Journey as they moved through life, hopefully better for our interaction. I never know – and I seldom if ever get a thank you either. I have to take satisfaction in knowing I tried while our paths converged.


*The scientist and the businessman elements of me really wants to know this stuff. If people are dropping out due to dissatisfaction, I would like to know ‘why’ to try to fix problems.  Negative reviews online are of little help. Those I have read were either not going to be happy no matter what OR upset I didn’t do what they wanted me to do. “He didn’t listen or take care of me needs” is code for “I wanted valium but he caught me doctor shopping”.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections sent an email this morning commenting on the recent ‘ratings’ viz. plenty of comments, many of them from stalkers and newbies.  In summary they are pleased as Punch.  As is sometimes the case when they are happy they  a) stop threatening bodily harm and b) give me imperial tidbits. Along with the email I got a bag of small brown seeds with the card with the run ‘enjoy’. Turns out they are mustard seeds for my boar meat.  Mustard is the oldest condiment that I am aware; there is evidence it’s been used for eons. Who knew The Ancients wanted some ‘umph’ to their dishes?*

I love me some mustard.  Someone is quite content to consume bright yellow French mustard (when he uses any mustard at all) but not Urs Truly.  My soul swoons at the number and variety of available mustards to try. The house mustard is Dijon, but I’ve heard rumors the French have several they aren’t sharing with me.

712M-+luxqL._SY606_If America has French yellow and France has Dijon what do the Brits have? I discovered yesterday Colemans mustard, which is apparently concludes the trinity. Who knew? When I went running into the other room to share my revelation Someone rolled his eyes in that way that means ‘Oh please everyone knows about that” and “where have you been all these years?”  I am hellbent on getting me some Colemans as quickly as possible. I wonder if there is any available at Albertsons?

While snooping about the WWW for “English mustard” I discovered “Tewkesbury mustard”. My eyes widened; my face was suddenly lit with joy like that of a brilliant sunrise.  Spo-fans know the town of Tewkesbury is known for two things:

  1. a famous battle 
  2. inedible rodents 

Who knew they also made mustard? I am fairly certain the brand is not available in the local Arizona grocery, but perhaps at the Fish&Chips shoppe in town where they sell British bits like digestive biscuits and IrnBru. If not, I may have to write the Lord Mayor of Tewkesbury to send me some as soon as possible – or just order some on line.

I may have to modify my expression “Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury” to “Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury without mustard”.   With a dab of proper mustard I could eat anything – Tewkesbury rats included – with relish.



*Fun fact: In ‘Macbeth’ when the witches are making their brew, they are using mostly herbs and plants with funny nicknames. I recently learned “Eye of Newt” is an old word for mustard seed.  Can you imagine? The dears are adding mustard !

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