The COX man came this morning, bringing with him a companion and an array of tools and cable. Someone assured me they were expected. He had invited them in to replace something with something else with the goal to make the internet go faster. I didn’t grasp how this happened but it had something to do with replacing old cables with new and improved ones.  Service men conjure up porn movie fantasies like ‘Cable Boy III” but these two were not at all sexy. I offered them coffee but the politely declined. They did their duty and departed. The laptop and the office computer both seem to ‘jump up’ a bit faster, so I suppose it was a success. I didn’t ask how much this all cost. Cable/TV is Someone’s realm and interest. I have no interest in the cable system.

Video Snapshot
The iPhone is part of the dastardly COX hegemony but with Verizon. This is also Someone’s responsibility. The dear recently gave me an ‘app’ to track the amount of data we/I consume. Apparently my mindless unrestrained phone use in areas without WiFi makes me go frequently past my monthly allotment resulting in stiff penalties. Thanks to this captious app I am more prudent in the use of the internet. My data consumption is shrinking. Through Youtube lectures I am becoming more acquainted with my iPhone in matters of turning off this and that option to better the battery time and save data. Even with this expanded knowledge I sense I know just the tip of the iceberg of this gonzo device.

The car is a few years old but I still don’t know how to make car calls. The steering wheel is loaded with buttons that resembles the cockpit of a DC. I am chastised when I explain ‘why didn’t I call” was because I was in the car, driving.  I have been taught a few times how to place a call but it doesn’t stick, probably because i don’t want to call people while driving. I don’t want anything from COX but internet service. The iPhone can stick with phone calls, texts, and a half dozen apps and I am content.

My nephews are puzzled and horrified my wristwatch does only one thing: tell time. I am a disappointment. In the technology restaurant with its myriad menu of meal-deals and options all I want is a simple grilled cheese sandwich without trimmings and a glass of water please.

k16278125Today Saturday I am at a day long medical conference. The marijuana lecture was most fascinating; I will make a blog entry on the matter.  Coming up: treatment of transgender patients, malpractice issues and medications, delirium (for fun or profit), and some mundane matters about pharmacology.

The Other Doctor where I work once upon a time was in private practice. As a consequence ‘he knows everybody’. In contrast I know nobody.  Urs Truly has worked in the same clinic for a decade. I have no outside contact really with other psychiatrists. The only other psychiatrist I encounter is The Other Doctor.

As a consequence when I go to a conference like today’s I feel  uncomfortable as if I have crashed a party where everyone knows each other. The older ones are already in a network; the younger ones know each other through their residency programmes. *

My lack of a professional network is a worry for me. I feel I should have some friends who are also colleagues. Going to a conference has the possibility of addressing this deficit.

Spo-fans may be surprised to learn Urs Truly has some social anxiety. It is very challenging for me to go up to a stranger in a shing-ding, make eye contact, shake hands, and introduce myself.  This is particularly true when I sense people are in cliques.  I often end up sitting by myself engrossed in my cell phone or paperwork. This doesn’t bode well for social intercourse.  No one seems to want to meet me anyway but hiding behind a laptop makes it worse.

After these courses conclude Someone always asks if “I met anyone” and he doesn’t mean Scruff.  He hopes I overcame my shyness and I met some shrinks with whom I may keep in touch,  either for referrals or supper invite.  Alas, so far my success rate is zero: I haven’t been successful at meeting chums or colleagues.  This brings up self-doubt:  ‘What am I doing wrong” and ‘What is it that people don’t want to know me?”
But I keep trying. I will persevere until the social slot machine some day pays off.  At noon there will be lunch; we will have to sit at community tables. I will be brave and try to make conversation with my table mates.  I would like a friend.

*Oh my goodness they are all hotties!  I would like to network with them but for all the wrong reasons.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections requires me to write an exordium with a disclaimer. They are quite fretful this whiny wishful writing might be taken too seriously. I disagree. I trust Spo-fans can spot satire when they read it. However they are the bosses and I don’t relish having my thumbs bit or my ears boxed or being forced to listen to Icelandic Edda for the umpteenth time.



The AC in the 2001 Honda Accord has gone out. The car has over 250,000 miles on it so I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked. It is a mercy we are in a cold spell. However this only postpones the inevitable: do I get the car repaired or do I get a new one? At some point, more repairs to an old jalopy are not worth the money and it is better economics to get a replacement.
Actually, I have wanted new wheels for the past 5 years/100,000 miles. Vanity is finally getting to me. Normally I go for the oh-so-practical car, one that gets good gas mileage and has the minimum of fuss.
Screw that nonsense. I want a proper car, no rubbish, one worthy of a doctor. I am tired of feeling like a tatterdemalion when I park the hackneyed Honda next to The Other Doctor’s shiny red Porsche. And I am Board certified while he is only Board eligible! Oh the embarrassment.
Trouble is, I haven’t a clue what sort of car to get. Consumer Reports is no help for it supports getting another sensible car. I hear the Italians make lovely cars. Are they the ones who make Lamborghini or Bulgari? Oh! That sounds lovely! I sit up straight at the thought.
I have to make this purchase quickly before my mundane Midwest mentality retrieves the steering wheel of my brain and I go get another Honda Accord, more or less identical to the one I have that will probably last another 15 years. Spo-fans who know these things are welcome to leave in the comment section the names of cars they think would fit the bill and float my boat, something to make me feel potent and successful while others are mad-jealous or want to bear all my children.

jaguar cars (37)

Oh we wants it ! 

This entry is inspired by blogger buddies with memories of homes and moves. I thought of Will and Laurent, presently packing to move to PEI, and of Ron, who misses his Pennsylvania place. David has mentioned moves and where is home anyway.   

I hope you like this one.  I am pleased with it. 

Sometimes at night I remember the houses and neighborhoods in which I grew up and have lived in. I do not have a desire to revisit them. What I would see would not be compatible with my memories. They would be grotesque monstrous hybrids of the familiar and the unrecognizable. They would seed doubt and question my memory. Wasn’t a tree here? I don’t remember this porch, was it always there? Was it all a dream?

It is easy to forget most of my memories are for places still around and mostly unchanged. The buildings remain the same but in contrast the people in them have long ago died or moved on and have been replaced by others who have no knowledge of what has gone beforehand. In the emptiness created when I/we moved out, the new tenants only saw a space and a beginning. Perhaps they had a fleeting sense that once upon a time this was a place filled with memories they will not share. They painted over my preferences and tore up the gardens I long attended.

We are not part of these places anymore; our marks (if they are still there) hold no spirituality to the present occupants.

I think this is one of the reasons we want to believe in ghosts. We like the illusionary hope our  memories are so potent they leave an indelible mark on the walls and floors that keep the places alive for and with us. We long to keep them filled with ourselves as our memories are filled with them.

When I was a child I hoped my homes, apartments, and dorm rooms were haunted. If they are haunted it is because I am haunting them. Perhaps the current occupants of my house on Hood Street in Chicago have a sense someone is walking the halls. At my grandparent’s abode they hear strange humming from the attic where I so often played, and in Ann Arbor (when the moon is right) a shadowy figure is seen in the garden tending the tomatoes.


ss-bean_counterThis morning I went to the clinic to get my labs done in anticipation of a pending check-up. More vials were drawn than usual, for next week’s exam is one of the more comprehensive ones. I hope The Good Doctor gives me a prostate exam.  Through the ether of internet I hear some of you snickering, but it is important I get fingered on a regular basis.  I am 53. My father got prostate cancer at 59. My mother’s brother now has prostate cancer. Last month my paternal cousin announced he too has prostate cancer – and we are the same age. If there was a way to provide a prophylactic prostatectomy I would be first in line.

The Good Doctor’s office now uses the website “My Chart” where I can see my labs.  For four days I will wait with baited breath to see if the PSA is up/down and how it compares to the last draw. Labs are now in league with the bank account and my investments sites and health/fitness apps.

I am continually barraged by data. I could spend all the day watching my money go in and out of my accounts and up and down on Wall Street. I can also monitor my steps, calories ingested and burned, stairs climbed etc. I often wonder what on earth am I supposed to do with all this data; at times it is all a mystery.  As a scientist I hate collecting data without no point or goal. Knowing how many steps I take in a day is cute, but is it correlated with any ‘good’, and am I supposed to do something in response to the findings?

I leave the investment decisions to my broker and what to do about the cholesterol to my physician. This leaves me with the fit-bit data. I hope I am not being pennywise and pound foolish watching the number of steps  if I am neglecting more important factors for health like portion control and proper sleep.  Oh, but there are apps for these as well !

I think I will be satisfied having The Good Doctor tell me ‘Oh, your labs are fine’ and leave it at that.

“Ask Spo” is a trial column to address questions people ask me from time to time, either via the comments or by email. If this proves interesting and entertaining it may become a regular exercise.

sunday morning


A Spo-fan recently inquired two questions: how much of what I write ‘reveals my true self’ and do I have a different presentation at home and at work than I do on line.

The second question is easiest to address. At work I am thoughtful, careful, and a bit authoritarian. I am not saucy or flippant, nor do I disclose a lot about myself. What interests Spo-fans the most: confidences, wit, ribaldry and what-not  don’t get let out at work.* At work I am a physician; online I am a embellishing and impudent writer.

The first question is a more ticklish. Ten years of writing reveal a lot but not all of my Self. There are Self-parts locked up in a secret compartments in the sea-chest of my psyche which probably won’t ever see the light of blog-land. Some of reason for doing so is tact. I must remember before I press the ‘publish’ button on each entry ‘everyone’ is going to read this. But there are also some things consciously chosen to keep to myself. The psychiatrist Arnold Modell described this as ‘The Private Self” , the parts of souls nobody knows or gains entry. Your nearest and dearest have never entered in. These stored-away matters are not necessarily lurid or shameful nor are they ‘skeletons in the closet”. By making them private they become precious. To disclose them is error. “The Private Self” is probably an outdated psychoanalytic idea but it has a pearl of truth to it: we need a private place no one knows or enters. This is especially so in today’s open and privacy-devoid society.

Perhaps in time a few may come out here, but never all of them. At least one needs to stay in the Private Self at all times. It creates balance.



*Or not much. Sometimes (if the situation is right)  I slip out a bitchy bon mot or a personal vignette if I think the patient will benefit.


man-mirrorI forever vacillate between “getting dressed” and “dressing-down”.

Dressing Up 

‘Dressing up’ probably has more benefits than the alternative. Bottomline: despite our egalitarian motives we still judge others by how they dress. Being well-dressed earns you respect. Proper clothing presents an image of man who has his act together. Leaders, doctors, lawyers, pilots etc. are continually reminded to dress appropriately. Yes, they can all do their jobs while wearing cut offs and AC-DC T-shirts but this does not inspire confidence. Besides, you feel better – or was Jerry Herman wrong when he wrote “Put on your Sunday clothes when you feel down and out.”?  Someone as usher always wears a white shirt, dress slacks and tie to alert people to his station and (hopefully) elicit authority.

Dressing Down

Dressing au casual is the norm, not the exception, in Phoenix. It may be due to the climate. Blazing sunshine with  34-45 degree temperatures make suits and closed shirts a martyrdom.  It’s lazy/easy and doesn’t require thinking. It appeals to the notion of not caring what others think of you.  And it is less expensive than keeping up good suits, trousers, shoes, etc.

I don’t get direction how to dress at work for my bosses don’t seem to care what I wear. When I forgo proper neckwear for Spo-shirts these don’t look sloppy as they are my own, my signature items, which capture the ur-text of Urs Truly. Still, I worry the APA secret-police will some day barge in and drag me away for failing to dress up to contemporary professional standards.*

Fifty years of ‘proper gentleman wear’ is hard to ignore. It still bristle seeing men at the symphony or opera wearing jeans or cut offs. It remains shocking to go to Catholic mass and see attendants arriving as if they had just come from working in the yard. **

So I vote for ‘dressing up’ over ‘dressing down’ as I am suspicious the latter is the dastardly dress of the dumbing down of society.  I fear slattern-wear parallels the degeneracy of manners and intellect.

I think one of the reasons “Mad Men” was a hit was it filled a longing for a time ‘when men cared what they looked like’.

I will continue my white shirt/bow tie/jacket personae at work – unless the temperature hits 45. Then it is style be damned – it’s Spo-shirts for days until the APA police do their duty.


*Not once has a patient raised his or her eyebrows in a sardonic look at my attire. On the contrary I often get compliments on my shirts. Still, I do worry about the new patients who have never seen a psychiatrist before, walking into the office only to lay eyes on a shrink in a loud Aloha-style shirt.

**Growing up WASP, we always wore ties/suits/jackets to church. “We are going to visit the Lord” my father would say, and if we would dress for a meeting with the mayor we should do so for the Man Upstairs.

When I first moved to Phoenix I was appalled by the drivers and their truculent manners. Phoenicians drive with impudence. However there is an curious exception to their effrontery. They Jehus scoff at stopping for the traffic control lights upon entering the freeway and they frequently exit with a sudden hard to starboard from the left lane. Going through yellow lights is a challenge not a warning. So why is it these Jehus* won’t pull into intersections? The PHX intersections are as wide as city squares, so there is plenty of room for two cars to pull into the intersection and turn left when the oncoming traffic clears or when the light turns red. Yet, I frequently get behind a car at the intersection who decides to wait right there, until the light turns red, and suddenly lurch forward hard to port, thus disallowing anyone else to go with them.

I pull into intersections to make room for someone behind me. I have only seen my father cross a few times in his life, and most of these were terse words toward some driver ahead or us who wasn’t pulling into the intersection to allow us to make the like.

Often in the rearview mirror I see the the other car sessile at the entrance to the intersection. Given the chance to pull up behind me, seldom do. Fascinating.

I’ve often wondered if there is some law of which I am unaware that says pulling up into the intersection is illegal. This theory doesn’t sound true as disregard of traffic laws is no deterrent for AZ drivers. Are they timorous of having an accident in the middle of the intersection, like a sitting duck ready for shooting? Again it is hard to imagine timorous concerns in my fellow drivers.

Some ASU student in sociology in need of a term paper could look into it. They would have no trouble interviewing the drivers stalled in these situations.

I am curious to hear from Spo-fans if this curious custom of ‘no pulling into the intersection’ is unique to Phoenix or does it exist elsewhere. Do people drive like demons where you live?  What is your driving peeve?


*Jehu is an antiquated sobriquet for a fast and reckless driver, named after the Biblical figure who “driveth furiously” on his mission to go murder someone whose name escapes me.


Spo-fans know I am a meretricious wordmonger. I love to collect rare and exotic words to insert them into my writing or speech whenever I want to coif my conversation. Mostly they are just jolly good fun.

As I don’t have any thing to write today I thought I would share some words trying to get into my memory.
Here are fifteen words; see how many you know.*

Try using a few of them tomorrow in an email.


Avunucular: (adj.) of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an uncle.

Captious: (adj.) apt to notice and make a fuss of a trivial defect; faultfinding.

Disconsolate: (adj.) without consolation or solace; inconsolable.

Gunge: (n.) soft, sticky matter; goo.

Hyggae: (n.) The act of relaxing with loved ones/friends while enjoying food and drink.

Irrumation: (n.)  oral sex (roughly done).

Karoshi: (n.) Death from over working.

Mardy: (adj.)  sulky; moody – think “adolescent girl”.

Nostrum: (n.) a ‘medicine’ with false claims and no value.

Piliferous: (adj.) having hair.

Rantallion: (adj.) a man whose scrotum hangs lower than his penis.

Relegate: (v.) to consign someone to an inferior position – sort of like delegate but ‘downwards’.

Temulent: (adj.) intoxicated.

Uhtceare: (n.) the period right before dawn where one lies awake, worrying.

Zonderkite: (n.) a well-meaning but idiotic person who creates havoc through his or her bungling actions.


* I realize most of these lovelies are a bit doggrel and disgusting. Profligate words are more delicious than tame ones.


The Other Doctor at work does not ‘know computers”. He often calls for help and I try to assist as best as I can. I am often amazed at what he doesn’t know, but I always remember there is a lot I don’t know either. Like most people I learned how to operate a computer through trial and error or through instruction by others.

Spo-fans are a savvy lot; they probably don’t need tips in proper computer use but I thought I would pass some of the more successful tips I have taught The Other Doctor.

1- Your computer has two primary functions:  sharing cat photos and making you angry. Computers are precise and without room for ‘gist’ or intended meaning. Mr. Gates et. al. purposely made them to annoy and make life irritating. Never shout at the screen; the sonic vibrations cause computers to further malfunction. And the cats don’t like it.


2 – Is your computer plugged in? Is it turned on? Is the cat sitting on the keyboard? Studies show internet access is enhanced when these two adjustments are done.

3- I’ve advised The Other Doctor to use a slightly stronger password than “Open”.  Try using an amalgam of words like “Rollingdowngrasshills” and replace the os with zeros and the a with a 4 and the ls with 1s and add today’s date. At work I use ‘ballum rancum” until the boss-man ever figures out what it means.

4#- Passwords with octothorpes are unbreakable but only if you call them octothorpes, not hashtags. Do not use your cat’s name. Everyone on line knows it.

5 – Never trust trout. Always a good one.

6 – Respond to all popup ads; to do otherwise is illegal.

There are three types of computers:

A. The PC. These sort of computers are full of bugs and viruses just like people, so do wash your hands after each encounter.

B. The Mac. Apple computers were designed by over-caffeinated nerds in dark rooms to make you feel superior.

C. The house cat. The house cat  computer is an ambulatory robotic quadruped up to no good that’s for certain used by outer space alien civilizations to monitor our daily behaviors in order to deduce why people like to stroke computers and give them tasty table treats and talk to them in childish voices.  House cat computers have great antipathy towards your lack of computer skills, especially if it is taking you away from chin scratching. They readily block Windows and make excellent firewalls to whatever you were trying to do.


This is one my favorites laptop cats. Please don’t feed it buns and things.

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