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Last night I had a dream consisting of non-sequitors.  The elements were intriguing, but I couldn’t grasp the ur-text.  It was very annoying: it was the first decent dream I have had in months and I can’t make heads nor tails of it.

September was rather dull, an adventureless tale. October is hoped to be more exciting. I am glad to see things on the calendar. I like the anticipation of events. The opera, symphony, and ballet seasons commence this month.

This afternoon I finally got out the autumn decorations. It is hard to get into the fall spirit when the temperature remains over 100 degrees, with the AC running as usual.  In Phoenix, one can not rely on seasonal cues to prompt seasonal rituals.  Our rooms are gaily dressed with scarecrows and autumn quilts. Last week I made an infusion of inexpensive bourbon with apple bits and spices. Someone and I got it out today and proclaimed it a success. We had some over ice with ginger ale; it seems a nice seasonal sipper.

Hallowe’en is a month away.  Every year at this time I start to organize a Hallowe’en dinner. I scour the internet looking for new and exciting dishes apropos for All Hallow’s Eve. Half the fun is adding and subtracting things until it is just so.

I am still waiting for the Muses to return from their visit with the Fates to provide me something profound or clever. The Ms appear to have become ‘snow birds’, who will return in droves this month.  They (the snowbirds) tend to congest morning traffic, which always makes me wonder where on earth are they going at this early hour.

It is now time to take Harper for our evening walk. While we trot, I listen to a history of the United States, 1824-1860. It is comforting to know partisan politics is nothing new. For 150 years we have been decrying the country will go to hell if the other party is elected.  The elections of 1824 and 1876 were particularly nasty.  But this is too much for the end of an entry.
Come to think of it, this makes for a good Spo-reflection topic. Thank you Muses.

I regularly go to the gym. Packing my gym bag is like preparing for a long weekend. First I pack the proper attire. I have one set of clothes for weights (sturdy shoes and loose drawers) and another set for aerobic exercise (sweat band and ‘tighter’ undergarments and light in the loafers). Then I gather all the props :


A work out towel


Straps (No, not that kind, but the kind that go around your wrists to help pick up heavy objects)

My work out journal and pen

My iphone

A water bottle. 


Lugging around this entourage means I invariably leave something behind as I go from machine to machine. I am surprised by the end of the workout I have anything left at all. The water bottle is neon pink, which may raise eyebrows but hey I don’t loose it (and no one bothers to steal it).


I always get a mild excitement whenever I enter the locker room, in anticipation of what I might see therein. Community undressing and showering have titillated me since junior high school. I have quite the talent for glancing at guys without looking obvious.


This is as good a point as any to disclose on a 1-10 scale (1= a church service; 10 = a bath house) my gym is a ‘1.5”.  I never sensed there is any cruising, maybe because the gym is predominately Mormons and snowbirds.  There are some beautiful ones to be sure, but they are mostly adoring themselves. The real good lookers seldom change in the locker room, worse luck.


Some anthropolgist or sociologist could write a paper on culture or the weight room. Mostly men, the weight lifters are often in ‘buddy packs’ of 2-3. They tend to talk loud and say nothing of interest.  Then there are the ‘loners’ who are quite serious, and also quite quiet.  Many are plugged into their listening devices.


Between “reps” I am supposed to be resting, but sitting still is not my strong point. I confess I enjoy watching the backsides of those doing back squats and hamstring curls. If caught doing this, I can say I was admiring their strength and technique.  Mostly I am watching in envy, comparing myself to others. This is bad idea, for I always look at guys bigger than  I, so I always come up deficit.  Truth be told, I more often engrossed in iphone past times  (scrabble, e-mail, texting) as I wait for the timer to go off.

Another past time between reps is tidy up. The members are supposed to put away the dumbbells and weights when finished, but there are always piles left behind by thoughtless and lazy people.  In the 60-120 seconds between reps you will see me putting things back on the rack. I am enabling others with their bad habits, but I see it as some extra work outs for me.


Despite their menacing physiques, weight lifters are friendly types who are very curteous at allowing others to ‘work in with them’ .  I am very shy and intimidated to do so. It is even harder for me to ask a fellow to ‘spot’ me. Perhaps because ‘spotters’ often grunt and shout brutish encouragement, which borders on the absurd or (worse) the erotic.  Imagine! lying on a bench with someone standing over you (your face looking up his thighs) as he shouts “C’mon, give it, do it!” 

I’ve seen “Gym Boys II”: I know what this leads to.


After work outs, I record my activities, text Someone I am coming home, and drink my post work out concoction.  I then take inventory I haven’t forgotten anything, glance around the locker room one more time, and head home.

Every October Someone and I attend the local AIDS walk/run.  This year we will be fundraisers.  You know the routine; you donate some money towards HIV projects and we do the running/walking. Someone will run  the 5K and I walk it – probably in some outrageous hat.

I thought I would sweeten the deal. The highest donor will receive a brand-new Queen-size Titanic Unsinkable Molly Brown Spo-shirt !

Here are the fabrics from which to choose:


1 – A golden batik with sunflowers, with red/blue and yellow speckles 

2-   A bold red/white and blue stripes

3 –  A brown Pacific Native American animals, purchased in Juneau AK

4- golden bamboo on navy blue, purchased in Honolulu, HA

5 – Raven (blue on light blue) – another ‘Alaska find’

6 –  bird of paradise/ferns on bright red, another Hawaiian purchase.

Click on the donation button here at Spo-Reflections or at Someone’s blog, Harper’s Valley.

All money goes into a common site.
I will keep you posted of the highest bid so far, so new donors may wish to top it, and previous donors can donate some more to surpass it.

If there is a tie,  I will flip a coin or something.

I hope you will donate anyway !

Thank you!


Urs Truly,


The Electric Medical Records system (whom I have christened ‘ELMER”) has been down for two days, making a frightful mess of things at work.  Happily, I can type my notes on my intrepid Mac laptop, and write prescriptions on old pads (the horror). But it means someday I have to cut and paste today’s work into ELMER. Oh the tedium.  The worst is: I can’t access a patient’s old file. I hope there aren’t too many train wrecks today that need some major changes for without their charts I won’t have the information to make a good clinical decision.  I hate ‘micromanaging’ and/or making things up as I go along.  I still have access to Facebook, so all is not entirely lost.


As a consequence it is curiously quiet in the clinic. We don’t have the wretched ‘soft rock’ internet station, which plays mostly Men at Work, Michael Jackson, and (oh the pain!) The BeeGees.   I don’t hear the printer printing nor the receptionist recepting.


I find it a delicious paradox: whenever my ‘time saving devices’ break down I seem to have lots of time on my hands.  Have you ever gone to a place without iphones, cellphones, and the internet? There the days are full of leisurely hours to do such things as read, talk to people, do a puzzle, or (hot puppies!) take a nap without guilt.


Meanwhile, patients are coming and going and it all seems a little less tense and stressful. Without the PC screen I make more eye contact with my them.


So in the end, the only one having a nervous breakdown here is ELMER.

Last night when I went to brush my teeth I discovered a scorpion in the wash basin. The bug was about one inch long,  stinger erect, a brown contrast to the white porcelain.  I had the simultaneous emotions of bewilderment “What on earth is it doing there?” and alarm “They’re HERE!”.  The nearest available bludgeon was a can of mousse. I squashed the bastard into a homogenous beige blog. Its stinger kept moving for a second or two. It was rather unsettling.


Since 2005 we have nearly a dozen house scorpions. A few were dead, but the others were very much alive. I sense they come up through the drains, which is a disquieting thought.  I’ve been told if you go outside at night with a black light you can find them en masse. I have no intent to try this.  When it comes to scorpions it is “Don’t ask don’t tell”.


The scorpion was a sobering reminder we live in the desert. We’ve had crickets, black widow spiders, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and a javelina.  Amazingly the thing that shakes me most (tarantulas) I have not encountered, thanks be to G-d.


While I worry mankind is driving things to extinction, Mother Nature seems to be doing a swell job avenging herself by keeping the nasties alive and thriving.

In my lifetime I have had a series of nicknames. I suppose most people have. Nicknames are like watches, given as gifts from friends and relations. You wear them for awhile, and then they go out of style, only to get a new watch from someone else. Once in awhile you find one of them, tucked away in the sock drawer. You don’t wear it anymore but it is nice to see it and remember.

When I was a wee nipper, Uncle Edward christened me “Iron Mike”. I never learned where he got the name, or ‘why’.  All the same, I liked it. I certainly did not feel ‘iron’ like; the name made me feel good. I imagined he saw me as something strong and remarkable.  I felt like “Iron Man’. Interestingly when the “Iron Man” movies came out, a few people told me I resembled Mr. Downey Jr.  Maybe there was something there after all. Alas, that Uncle is gone, and no one calls me “Iron Mike” anymore. It was my favorite.

In contrast, Father called me “Mouse”.  It was a play on my first name, which begins with “M”.  Once in awhile, when I pick up the phone, I will hear ‘Hey, Mouse!” and know it is Father who is calling.  No – he never read the “Tales of the City” novels.  It is synchronicity.

At some point Brother #2 decided to call me “Mick”, not Mike. He has done so for so long I can not remember at time when he called me by my formal name.

My first nickname of a communal nature was “Rocky”.  This nickname, a derivative of the family name. was used by the boys in my elementary school. That is until the movie of the same name arrived. I no way resembled Mr. Stallone , and the other boys knew it. My explanation “I was here first” was not met with reason.  The “Rocky” movies deprived me of that nickname forever.

Later in life I had another communal nickname, used by my brothers, as a sort of poetic revenge for having lorded over them until they all grew up bigger than I.   Sorry, there ain’t no way I am going to tell you this one !

Sometimes gay men give each other feminine names, but I never had one. In my set, we were trying to suppress, not express, our gay side. No ‘girl names” for us!    I never had a drag name either, although I came up with Amanda Reckinwiff.

Someone and I don’t usually call each other by pet or nicknames. Sometimes when Someone is in a cheerful mood he calls me by my formal title.   I better not broadcast what I call him, or there will be no fruit cup tonight with dinner.

And finally there is my current nickname of “Spo”. A few Spo-fans admit to me they can not think of me in other way but “Spo”. I feel in league with my writer-ideal Mr. Dickens, who was known as “Boz”.   How delightful.

Nicknames come and go, and are never consciously created.  Goodness knows what new nickname will come my way.

I vote for “God Emperor” but this is more of a title than a nickname.

Just don’t call me “Stinky”

or “Late for Dinner”.

After much study on the subject of whisky (both ‘book learning’ and sampling) I have started my collection.  I feel a proper gentleman, to wit, I am developing a well stocked liquor cabinet of whiskies and bourbons.  Come take a tour of the Spo-cellar !

My favorites are the bourbons. They complex tastes of spice and sweet. Knob Creek packs a punch. Buffalo Trace is the ‘house bourbon’. For special occasions, Woodford is my choice.

Next comes the Canadian Whisky. When I was in Ontario last August, I brought back some Collingwood. It is the smoothest whisky I have had so far. It has a maple flavor; it comes in a container which looks like a cologne bottle. White Owl is a ‘white whisky’ . It almost tastes like a flavored vodka. It is excellent with tonic. Even Someone, who does not like ‘brown’, will have some. The “house Canadian” is Forty Creek, which is lovely lovely lovely.  It is actually ten dollar less expensive at the Total Wine 1 mile from home than it is in Ontario, at the distillery !

Alas, my collection is short on proper Scotch (worse luck).  I only have a few ‘blends’ which are not bad. What I want are some single malt Scotch. I know what I am asking Santa for Christmas !

Finally there is “the cheap stuff”. Old Crow has a lot of  history to it. U.S. Grant and Mark Twain were both fond of it. Perhaps we can thank Old Crow for keeping the nation intact! I splurged at got the “Reserve” Old Crow.  Albertson’s bourbon is a fraction of the price of the others.  These two are good as ‘mixers’ viz. cocktails and cola drinks.

So – mosey on up to the Spo-bar and name your poison.  The bartender appreciates tips – the bigger the better !

My entry has nothing to do with the title, but I recently read a history paper with this title and I went into hysterics. It’s too bad my blog can’t readily change its title the way I change its headers. There are so many fun titles. “Forbidden Yeats” and “Yellow Gumdrops Please” come to mind.

Recently a patient thought me very clever, for I can recite all the Presidents of the United States.  I don’t think this is a barometer of brilliance (although it may reflect my good University of Michigan education!).  It is more likely a demonstration of my panache for lists.

In my house, I am List-master, for I am constantly putting things in list form to combat chaos in dark satanic mills of the mind.   Some people (when bored) pull out their smart phones and play games.  I read my lists.

Here’s a game – “Can you stump Spo?”

Which of these can you do? I list them from easy to hard.

The 3 Fates

The 5 Marx Brothers

The 7 dwarfs

The 8 levels of scientific classification

The 10 Commandments

The 12 cranial nerves

The 13 Canadian provinces* 

The 39 plays of Shakespeare

The 44 Presidents

The 50 states

The 50 capitols

The Kings and Queens of England (William I to Elizabeth II)

If you can do them all, you win a Spo-prize, individually determined to the appropriateness of the Spo-fan !

*Clever Canadians need not remind me there are 10 provinces and 3 territories !

I seem to be ‘in mood’ as my brothers would say. The day wasn’t bad, and my exercise went OK, so the sudden turn to the sour is both surprising and worrisome – it came on so readily. Harper was a disobedient dog on our walk this evening, literally yanking my chain (and pushing my buttons).  I had hoped to do a lot of chart dictation this evening but the damnable EMR refused to boot up. While I waited for it to magically fix itself the frustration of it all became to creep up my neck like a hot hand.  I got cross and nerts to it all. Blogging was no comfort – yet another blogger buddy announced he is closing down. You get to know someone and then they depart on you. Stinko.


I am wondering what is this all triggering. After some self-analysis the list of unconscious suspects is long, ranging from the State of the world to body aches.


Tomorrow I have a dentist appointment, which always makes me cross. It’s time I change dentists anyway. Mind! They do a fine job, but my dentist is always trying to sell me dental procedures along the line of Dr. Frankenstein telling Igor he can fix that hump. ‘What hump?” I want to ask.  The dental hygienist is a sweet lady who wants to a) be my personal trainer as it were and b) talks about her home life – neither I care an iota for knowing. It is a sort of cruelty to be lying there in the chair, mouth open, while someone chatters over you.   Mark Twain said it is a terrible death to be talked to death.


Tomorrow night is the first night of the season of the Phoenix Symphony. I am looking forward to this and I hope it cheers me up. I am looking even more forward to the pre-concert cocktail(s) at Hanny’s in downtown Phoenix.  It’s a fun place, full of hip people, and cocktails from the 40s. The bartenders are all experts and cute as buttons too.


So I best let go of the day, do some stretches and go to sleep.


Tomorrow is another day, which includes Beethoven and single malt Oban whiskey – no rubbish indeed !

Cubby (the dear) pointed out my blog counter is approaching 1,000,000. It makes my eyes cross to think upon this. What an extraordinary thought.  In 2006 I started blogging as a mere curiosity, and now my scribbles have been viewed a million times?  Wow.

I want to do something to celebrate this amazing turning point.

I should have a fabulous door prize ready for Mr. or Ms. One Million when he/she comes a-knocking.

I fantasize of taking that person out to dinner etc.Alas, if they are across the nation (or the world) this would be impractical.

I know! I can make them a Spo-shirt!  As the poor sod crosses the threshold and the counter turns over I will throw a shirt over their head. I think this is a splendid idea.

But, how do I determine “Mr. or Ms. One Million”? If anyone knows, please tell me now, so I can get a-sewing!

If this is not feasible, I may have to make up something else.  An all expense paid trip to Phoenix, perhaps, to shake their hand etc.

Any thoughts?

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September 2012

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