Every morning I when I wake I say a little prayer along the line being thankful I was given another day.  I often don’t know to whom I am saying this Secreto; often it is not so much a prayer as a pregnant pause for me to realize neither myself of the world died in the night. It is a moment of inserting a dose of Death into the day.

I try to reflect on Death on a daily basis. This is not a morbid matter but a sort of meditation seen in the writings of Buddhism and in Catholicism viz. the cognizance of Death helps us keep Life as something precious. I am kept conscious to make each day meaningful and something marvelous. It makes me not sweat the little stuff; I am not as quick to go into a swivet over petty things.

In the home office is a Tlingit Cedar Bent box, in which will someday reside my ashes, prior to their being spread. On the refrigerator hangs a photo-magnet of the Point Betsie Lighthouse. I’ve often fancied having my ashes spread there. Every time I open the fridge I see the lighthouse for a quick reminder it is waiting for me.

To wake with the feeling of more life and to go to sleep with the gratitude of having had another day: what a gift this is. I hope I never forget to do so.

 

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office

When I came to the Mesa office today I was greeted with an appalling chemical smell, as if someone had just finished the walls using a cheap brand of paint. When the staff arrived they explained the next door office yesterday sealed their floors with epoxy and the fumes are coming in via the air system. Apparently Monday the Mesa office air so toxic many counselors called and canceled their Tuesdays.  The boss-man set up a series of fans to blow the bad air out one door while the outside pollution of Mesa was sucked in through another. Overall this did little good; by noon the two receptionists had called it quits leaving Urs Truly to and two intrepid counselors to fend for ourselves.

While I am writing about toxic work environments I might as well mention the fridge. The staff at Mesa are mostly female. I have long thought women were more fastidious than men but lord love us they leave lots of dirty dishes in the sink as if someone is going to clean them. Worse, the fridge is full up with have consumed leftovers in paper bags and white take-home boxes.  Today a saw the Boss-woman had taped on the freezer door ala Martin Luther a collection of theses tersely telling people for heaven’s sake clean out your crap your mother doesn’t work here.  Fat chance of that.  My Swiss-German genetics took this as permission to adopt a scorched-earth policy and take charge. I first limited my toss-outs to things with brown and green fuzzy growths on them and containers with expiration dates of 2016. It’s a slippery slope and soon I had most unmarked half-consumed totes and bottles out and into the rubbish. As the staff were too sick from asphyxiation no one really noticed.

I am in the Phoenix office tomorrow and the cupboards are calling. The drawers are full up with napkins, plastic utensils etc. leftover from endless pharm-rep lunches just waiting for Urs Truly to clean house andput all the spoons, forks, and Splenda packets in taxonomic order. No one will thank me and I dare say it enables the problem but I will feel much better.

If someone should question my sanity I can blame it on expoxy exposure.

Walking the dog

I haven’t done one of these in a while. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections is away at Askersund so they are not minding the store. Chances are they won’t even notice this when they return.

It is November; all morning walks are done in the dark. It’s also cold enough to require long pants and a sweater (for me). These morning walks are a shorter due to the weather. At 5PM the winter constellations are high above us. Orion and his dog Sirius light up the sky paralleling our situation down here on Earth.

I try to vary each morning’s walk to a different direction but Harper has her favorite – towards the park. I suppose that is where she finds the best smells. Walks are mostly about sniffing the sights than for exercise. I am wary of the park at 5PM lest there are coyotes or javelinas, so in winter months I stick to more well-lit areas. Sometimes Harper cuts the walk short as to imply disapproval of the route chosen.  Sometimes I wonder if she just wants to go home as the walks all end with a dental stick. She loves treats. As long as we’ve had her she always takes these sticks away to eat them out of sight. All my other dogs would eat it right then and there.

Sometimes Someone gets up at the same time to get ready for work. This confuses Harper for she assumes he is going on the walk with us. It is a hard-sell to convince her he ain’t going. It is a disappointment. This supports my hypothesis she doesn’t see me as the second master but the second pet and we are better off taking our walks with proper supervision.

 brain.jpeg

A Spo-fan some time ago asked me to write how does the brain think. I’ve been putting this off for it is a lofty topic. A promise is a promise so here it is. Spo-fans afraid of the learning-kooties should skip this one – although to do so would be ironic given the topic and conclusion.  So pay attention and learn, dammit. 

The thinking brain model is divided into two modalities with the unimaginative names of System I and System II.  For my little  lecture I will refer to them as “Spo” and “Michael”. I will also use myself as the model although this applies to all people.

“Michael” nee System II is my conscious self. He is who I think I am.  He is in charge of conscious decision . If you ask me to multiple 367 by 2 without a calculator Michael is the one to do it. Michael is lazy; Michael slow; it takes effort for him to do anything. If there is something to do he likes to conveniently vanish.  Thinking is an uncomfortable task;  it takes effort. It’s easier to ‘think’ quickly and make fast conclusions rather than stop and work. However he is the careful one capable of catching error.

“Spo” A.K.A System I is Michael’s quick counterpart who processes all the information flooding into your senses. Spo has to be quick for he is dealing with a lot.  Quick as a quarter-note Spo discards the irrelevant bits (which is most of them) for the deemed needed stuff.  Spo works without Michael knowing he is doing it.  The quick and unconscious Spo makes up his mind even before “Michael” attends to the matter at hand.

Spo is made possible by your long term memory.  “Michael” is my working memory, capable of working with a few things only at a time. Example: a string of random numbers or two tasks to do at once.

Michael wants to pass things over to Spo for long term reference, but to accomplish this Michael has to work consciously and repeatedly (and that takes effort!) to get Spo to accept into his realm that matter.  At its onset it is tedious to memorize a poem or learning how to chop an onion, or they directions to the dentist. When Urs Truly was learning to dance, I had to consciously memorize what steps went where next until it became an effortless flow done without thinking. ‘Getting it into my muscle memory’ my teacher called it. but it really isn’t going into the muscles but into Spo.

Michael and Spo make a good team. As Michael has limited capacity and needs time and effort Spo has to be doing the majority of thinking.  Think how much your typical day’s doings are done ‘without having to think about it”.

On the downside, Spo quickly tells Michael what to do based on quick intuitive conclusions that may not be right at the moment.  To Michael’s ear what Spo says sound reasonable and the lazy bum will go with it without checking on it first.  Opps. This can be a bad thing.  Ironically by making something a tad difficult or complex makes Spo upset enough to pass the problem onto Michael who is obliged to ‘stop and think’ – and more likely make the right decision.

I see a lot of “Spo” mentality in politics. Simple incendiary statements don’t evoke “Michael”  to stop and think and what was said is truth or rubbish.  Alas, I like to stay with ‘what I already know’ so I don’t have to think – which is time-consuming, slow, and uncomfortable.  The paradox is by being out of my Spo-run mentality and making  my Michael work is the only way to learn and enrich my Spo-based knowledge base.

I developed HTN (hypertension) in my early 30s. High blood pressure runs in the family so I fairly certain it was a matter of time until I got some of my own but I was surprised – and a little annoyed – it started so early. Like most people told to take medication,  I tried to weasel out of it through non-pharmeceutical endeavors, hoping to ‘prove’ to my doctor I didn’t have to take no stinking meds. Despite my exercise, the no-added salt diet, and ‘zenning’ every time I stopped the HTN Rx I nearly had a stroke so back on meds I went. For twenty years by blood pressure has been fine and stable – thanks to a daily dose of felodipine.

A month ago the dentist deduced the medication was causing gum inflammation.  It was changed to lisinopril and that did the trick. Alas, my blood pressure hasn’t been good ever since. The diastolic pressure was over 100 and I was getting daily headaches and malaise.  The lisinopril dose was raised to no avail. Preferring bloody brushing to a stroke, I went back on the felodipine.  The Good Doctor now has me trying BP Rx trial #3 (a combination of lisinopril and HCTZ). I am supposed to take my blood pressure to see if it is working.  Someone did the research and I am now the proud owner of a blood pressure monitoring device.

M7_intelli_IT_new

I show my age to remonstrate I am highly suspicious of the accuracy of a machine. Back when I was in med-school (just before the internet and right after blood-letting) the taking of BP was a precise ritual many did poorly.  This HAL Jr. techno-gizmo comes with several pamphlets and app connections I am supposed to read and do prior to sticking my arm in and starting. This alone is enough to raise my blood pressure, so already the reading is marred.

My first reading is 135/80;  normal BP is 120/80. This is very good considering I had just spent fifteen feckless minutes trying to set up the app to no avail while Someone was in the other room cursing out loud and frustrated with his own on-line endeavor.

In the past few weeks my various readings at the clinic and in the pharmacy stores have been ~ 160s/100s.  Today’s OK-enough reading is correlated to being back on a week’s worth of felodipine.

Today I start my new combo-Rx and monitor its efficacy.  I am going to need a decent BP if I am to reattempt the Kafkaesque instructions to connect the cuff to my iphone. Apparently this will generate a colorful chart for my amusement and send all my readings to my doctor (as if he really wants to know my daily reads). It will probably send my information to FB too so Mr. Zuckerberg can flog salt-free or stimulating products depending on which way my pressure blows.

 

Once in a while I like to promote some blogs I think deserve a larger audience. I find them clever, thoughtful, and delightful – like my men. Alas, these lovelies don’t seem to have get a lot of traffic, based on their lack of comments and ‘likes’. I don’t feel a need to promote the bloggers who are the rock-and-rollers with acolytes aplenty. Rather, I want to point out the gems which I believe are TGR (Thumping good reads). Mind! I think all on my blog list are worthwhile – why else would I include them? I invite Spo-fans to check them out to see if you fancy them.

Here are a few imperial tid-bits worth a look-see. Tell’em Spo sent you.

Cliffie’s Notes

Eileen’s blog is a report of the ongoing cabal of fish and aquatic creatures plotting to wipe out us pesty humans. The entries and zany and whimsical. It also has great ‘B-movie” reviews.

Practical Parsimony

She’s fast becoming one of my favorites. Linda relates her daily doings in a style which reminds me of Erma Bombeck if she had been more pithy and more interesting. I enjoy answering her poll questions at the end of each entry; it is also nice to read her responses.

Sooo-this is me

Steven is in Canada. I met him a few years ago when visiting Ottawa. He is a dear and well over four feet. He writes tender and self-reflective entries about his life’s journey.

Spewing Truth in the face of lies

Truthspew is my techno-wizard and political pundit. Half the time I don’t know what he is talking about but it’s a delight to read his wit about gadgets and gizmos and how he gets them to work. Celver man! Alas, I can’t seem to be able to leave a comment at his blog, but I always ‘like’ what he writes. Really I do.

Willy or Won’t he?

Mr.H already has a good following of minions but I want to shout him out anyway. Willym writes one of the best blogs there is. It is full up with history, theatre, art, and politics (especially Canadian). His blog rivals Wikipedia and it has far better videos too.

And –

Facing Traffic

He’s back! The most handsome David writes some of the best self-reflective prose in blog-land. Do not dare to question this. He pops in and out of blogging like the Flying Dutchman. I hope he stays this time.

Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year when I ask patients what are they doing for Thanksgiving. This question elicits rich data on family dynamics and social matters. Patients often cringe or tear up and say they have to travel (anxiety) or deal with relatives (depression) or be in two places at once (not likely). Out of politeness they often ask me in return what I am doing for Thanksgiving. This year I am saying “Oh, nothing, I am not doing Thanksgiving this year”.

You think I was announcing I have cancer.

Thanksgiving, not Christmas or July 4, is the real national holiday and everybody is obliged to be with someone else. Loners are looked upon with desperation to fit them with someone, anyone. No one can go without the obligatory dinner with all its necessary trimmings.

I’ve often worked on Thanksgiving. It was a good gig: the ERs were quite quiet and it paid well (no one wants to be away from home on Thanksgiving). So I am used to not having one. This month both of us are struggling to keep austere diets. Someone is working thanksgiving day; I have nowhere to go. We no longer have local friends really, so no one has/will call us to invite us/me over. I think I will have a cozy introverted day to myself . I may make some homemade soup.

People find my plans suspect if not heretical. In the past when I’ve announced my plans I’ve had people I hardly know offer me a place at their dinner tables. It is sweet of them to offer, but I will be quite content on my own on that day.

The potential peace sounds marvelous. No boisterous family members! no football on TV! Best yet, no excessive calories. I just might sleep the day away. This sounds so delicious I am counting the days.

I am curious to know if there are any Spo-fans who ‘don’t do Thanksgiving”. Is it by choice? Are you OK with this?

However I am not a Turkey-Scrooge; if you are in the area that day you welcome to come in for some soup and scotch and a chin-wag. 🙂

 

 

P.S. Someone disclosed he is NOT going to work that Thanksgiving Thursday after all. He would like some sort of Thanksgiving dinner. So I will have some after all.  I did all the Halloween preparation; he is welcome to organize the dinner. 

untitled

Last night Someone and I met Sean and Jeffrey for supper – here in Phoenix AZ! They are in town visiting Sean’s brother. We were pleased as punch to see them. We all met at “FEZ” which is one of our favorite restaurants full of lovely dishes including the best hummus and pomegranate martinis – not rubbish indeed!

S an J are fine gentleman both well over four feet. We had a lovely chat and we toasted our fellow bloggers, near and fear, active and inactive.

We whipped each other into a frenzied excitement about possible 2018 holidays. The modest proposals:  Provincetown; NY (to see their house); a cruise.  Neither of them have been on a cruise (the ones on water).  In contrast Someone and I are experts at cruising. We will instruct them so. We four agree a ‘blogger-cruise’ leaving from NYC and going to the Caribbean or Canada would be fabulous.  If we turn hard to port and go northwards we could visit Nova Scotia and PEI. There we can visit the fine bloggers who live in those parts.  Some of them are fine ladies and gentleman, many well over four feet.

It could happen.

It was jolly good fun.  I was glad to see them.  Safe travels to both of you as you go back East.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections has a hornet in their helmet – again. With them it is always something but this time the crisis de jour is a “a lack of humor” in the recent blog posts. Entries like yesterday’s that have any rancor are considered poison at the box office. They sent me a boisterous email threatening to hang me upside down and roast me until I compose something funny.

Well.

1 – Last night I heard a podcast episode  from “Hello from the magic tavern” in which Chunt the talking badger was dating a wolverine named Anne Arbour.  It didn’t work out, which makes him her ex, or in this case the X-man of the Wolverine.

I thought this quite funny but I didn’t write it.

2 – Someone is an excellent packer. The clever man managed to put away all my Halloween trimmings into a just a few boxes when the collection was formerly stored in a dozen large popcorn tins. We were able to put all the tins into the recycling bin. There is someone noisy in the neighborhood who peeps into our bins. Finding several large popcorn Halloween tins should puzzle them how on earth did we consume so much popcorn last month.

I did write this one but I don’t know how funny it turns out.

3 – I got a short haircut last weekend but dammit I still have yellow on the temples.

I don’t find this at all funny.

OK try this:

4 –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnQvSemVAlg

Someone find something funny; I don’t want to be roasted.

 

In my ten year history of blogging I’ve twice written an entry  title ‘A special place in hell”. In them I list the miscreants and malaperts Mr. Dante unfortunately left out of his Divine Inferno.  Yesterday’s entry about blowing up things made me ponder about some more I might lock up on Urspo’s special level of torment and punishment. I think it lies between 5 and 6.

Spo-fans are encouraged to leave in the comment section any villains of their own they think should join my nefarious coterie. 

 

Those who say “My thoughts and prayers to with you.” in reaction to yet another violent national tragedy.

Thems who use straw-man arguments.

Those who throw away half consumed plastic bottles without first draining the water out and putting the bottle in recycling.

While I am ranting about the locker room,  I will include the bodybuilders who drop paper towel and toilet paper and don’t pick them up.

The entire customer service crew at Aetna health insurance (don’t ask). 

Right-wing Protestants who say “Merry Christmas” as a dare to question this or respond otherwise. 

Parking lots patrons who do not return their shopping-carts to the appropriate stall but leave it so to block parking spaces. 

Fox new commentators. 

Young women who have “BEBE” on their backsides yet take offense at my looking them. 

The person at work who is last to sample the cookie tray or candy dish but won’t ‘finish it off’ but must leave something behind, which gets thrown out. 

The inventor of pop-up ads. 

Tony Perkins, Michelle Bachmann, and Milo Yiannopoulos are my picks to play Satre’s “No Exit” for good. 

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