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The iPhone and the laptop want repair. Spo-fans recently read I dropped the thing causing a slab of bright green light to obscure the starboard side of the screen. So it was hippity-hop to the iPhone shop to find some nice young person (do they have any others?) to tell me what needs to be done. I also brought in my laptop for it’s battery is useless. Nowadays it goes from full charge to dark screen in less than ten minutes. 

Whenever I enter an Apple store I instantly feel ninety years old and stupid. These stores are manned by a troop or post-pubescent (barely) salesmen running around with devices in their hair and hands. It’s a combination of The Borg and The Mickey Mouse Club.  In contrast the clientele look like a retirement home. It is an odd combination. 

As I waited my turn at the genius bar I read Pepys Diary. There was a tad of irony to this: imagine Urs Truly looking into a paper book while all around folks are engrossed in their techie toys. It was quite a sight. 

Jordon (the dear!) tells me he can replace the battery but it has to be ordered, for my laptop is considered ‘vintage’. I beg your pardon, I asked, what is considered ‘vintage”. He explained: my laptop was purchased in 2012. I decided it wasn’t tactful to argue in my opinion 2012 is not vintage but considered only yesterday.  I have to decide to 

  1. buy the battery
  2. live without it
  3. get a new laptop. 

As for the iphone, the good news is it is not beyond repair but only needs a new display panel. With warranty this will only cost about thirty dollars.  The bad news this was said to me nearly two hours ago and I am beginning to doubt I will ever see Jordon or iPhone ever again.  It’s like a gadgety-Godot situation and I have no choice. Happily Pepys diary is a thick tome. 

This month I’ve gone from 80.6 kilos to 78.9 kilos. It is a comfort to know regular exercise and some self-restraint at the table still works as well as any nonsensical diet regimen.

At home we are taking a break from “Blue Apron” in order to try “Hello Fresh”. The first box arrived yesterday and it seems about the same in style and preparation so I think this is a case of Coke vs. Pepsi. The first HF meal took fewer pots and pans to prepare so that’s a plus.

Last night I dropped my cellphone (again) but this time there was real damage. A recusant vertical fluorescent green light has appeared is taking up 25% of the viewing screen. Not only is it a nuisance but its intensity makes looking at the phone painful to the point of needing sunglasses. I need to cancel Saturday’s appointments to hippity-hop to the Apple shop where I hope some nice service representative (usually just post-puberty) will fix or replace it. I fear I will have to buy a new one, which I admit it my fault but makes me peevish.  Oh the nuisance of it all.

Techless Tuesday is going fair. I still have to have my phone on to get pass codes for prescriptions and to be stand-by for the pager system. Nevertheless I’ve managed to avoid social and news apps with fair success. I don’t think my Tuesday helping of podcasts nullifies the resolution although Someone says it does.

I recently found a list of expressions Benjamin Franklin composed to describe a fellow who is drinking. Mr. Franklin – who was a wicked old screw despite his virtuous façade – does not make it clear if he made these up himself or he merely collected them. Here’s some of my favorites:

“He’s been too free with the creature””
“He’s taken The Elixir of Hippocrates”.
“He’s been to Jericho.”
He’s been among the Philippians.”

And

“He’s been too free with Sir Richard”

I haven’t had any success locating any facts about Sir Richard. I want to know why the fellow was synonymous with bibulous past-times. The homoerotic subtext of the expression is intriguing. Perhaps Sir Richard wasn’t an actual man at but a euphemism probably for a body part known to become less restrained under the influence of The Elixir of Hippocrates. I must do some ‘field research’ as they say in the business of science.  This evening after work I am going to Jericho myself to have my future ex-wife Kat make me and my pals some Boulevardiers. My chums are not Philippians per se but they are all well over four feet and only a few of them are too free with Sir Richard.

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I keep making a Bucket List only to lose them. This obliges me to recreate them.  More puzzling than where they go* is my difficulty remembering what was on them. You would think after several incarnations I could recite them from rote. I hope there isn’t some subconscious shenanigans going on viz. I don’t want to accomplish things in life. Sometimes the simplest explanations are best: I am a ditz.

There is no point in asking assistance from Someone as he doesn’t do Bucket Lists let along remember min. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections wrote they looked through their files without success at finding a copy. They managed to remember a few things though, which they graciously sent along, but these look suspiciously like theirs not mine. Example: I don’t recall ever actually wanting to have set fire to a public building for example. 

It turns out I’ve blogged on this misplaced BLs more than once. This allowed me to retrieve lots but the process gave me the grim sensation I am in my own private Groundhog Day. 

So far so good. Naples wasn’t rebuilt in a day but I am making progress. I want to see a fjord and I want to own a top hat. I want to make a bow-tie and finish a log cabin quilt started so long ago I don’t remember when.  When the Bucket List is finally resurrected I think what I will squirrel it away in several places where the Gremlins and Gnomes can’t touch’em. Perhaps a separate page here is a good idea. By now I highly doubt anyone wants to read it but this may be better than yet another bloody blog entry on where is my Bucket List.  🙂 

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*I suspect a cabal of Computer Gremlins and Car Key Gnomes. The former knows how to get around my laptop like Russian trolls while the latter excels at moving things about where I can’t find anything. Stirges.

Telephone calls with The Parents have the same scenario: I listen as they report on all their goings-on which is mixed with what my brothers are doing. They have a tendency to report ‘bad news’ interspersed among the mundane which makes the ominous easy to miss. I’ve had decades of training so I tend not to miss these peas among the carrots. I wait for an appropriate pause between Father’s narration on Mother’s cribbage scores and Brother #3’s latest travels to back him up to that quick word-in about starting radiation therapy next week.

“What was that about radiation therapy?” I asked him in the most recent phone call. I then proceeded to play twenty questions with him dragging out of him what the hell is going as he tries to move back to the details of Mother beating him at cribbage. He doesn’t do this out of anxious denial; he just doesn’t see RT as important as being skunked in a card game is.

After we hang up I called Brother #2 “the real doctor in the family” who told me what’s actually happening.* Father had his prostate removed decades ago, in his late 50s. Now in his 80s there was a recent PSA spike.This led to several tests he hadn’t bothered to tell me revealing there a remnant now cancerous. Happily the treacherous residual is small and contained and probably easy enough addressed with high intensity one week’s worth of radiation therapy. Father gets this going next week. Brother #2 says Father is not at all troubled, and he isn’t either. It could be a lot worse.

My parents are not worriers; they always see life as a glass half full even as their glasses are draining. It is the Fraternity of Spo-brothers that do the fretting along the line of ‘Dear me whatever shall we do about Mother/Father?”  Weeks from now I will call Father to get the latest news in a similar process; again my ears will prick up around Item #7 when he slips in he had some post-RT complications that put him and Mother in a pickle.

Brother #2 is in charge of the medical matters while Brothers #3 manages their funds and #4 drops in to play the caretaker and gopher. This leaves Urs Truly to be the fretter.  In every family no matter how many siblings there are there is always the one child who is Chief of Police. 🙂

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*We all have hummingbird brains but Brother #2 thought flow isn’t too bad;  he talks more goal oriented than the rest of us.

Heavens! It’s been a few days since I posted anything! Happily this weekend The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections was asleep at the switch so they did not notice. I had a busy weekend doing There’s-work-to-be-done chores. I am pleased to report most of them are accomplished – except read blogs. I will do this after I post. 

1# – While discussing finances with Someone I discovered a major faux-pas. I thought he has been paying The Personal Trainer all this time when he hasn’t. I quickly texted TPT who revealed he’s received no payment since spring 2018. Oh the embarrassment. He was immediately paid and all is well. I didn’t ask why on earth he hadn’t said anything. If I hadn’t discovered this bungle I wonder how long it would go on until (out of anger) he sent an exercise programme guaranteed to break my legs. *

#2 – Last night I discovered the libation Boulevardier.** It is basically a Negroni but instead of using gin it is made with bourbon. Oh the ecstasy! My soul swoons. I got my future-ex-wife Kat (bartender extraordinaire) to make one for me although she hadn’t the foggiest what it was.*** We agreed it was TME (Truly Most Excellent). We were glad to have had this ‘first time’ with each other.  Someone didn’t like it, saying it was better than a Negroni but that’s as far as it goes. 

#3 – Rather than toss them in the trash I put the poinsettias into pots in the backyard. They will eventually turn green and (lord willing) turn red again by next Christmas.  This is based the presumption they will survive the summer heat. 

#4 – Finally, I am pleased as punch to announce I started the year weighing 80.6 kilos. It is now 79.1 kilos. For thems who don’t know metric, this is a 3lb weight loss. It is a good start. Palm Springs is coming.  Provided Someone doesn’t feed me buns and things I may make an ingress at Inndulge in this years’ Spo-shirts but in last year’s trousers. Wish me luck. 

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*I only just discovered another overlooked bungle: Debra (a long time Spo-fan) isn’t just a reader but a blogger buddy!  Oh the embarrassment.  Time for the Aricept.

**It is also a noun for a wealthy, fashionable socialite.

***The waiter at said watering-hole is a young man named Scott. He is well over four feet and he always remembers me despite countless clientele. I thought this due to my charm, physique, and Attic wit. He confessed it’s because ‘your are the guy who always orders the funny-sounding drinks I’ve never heard of’.  So much for his generous tip. 

I can never determine whether or not Harper loves me. What I mean by this is the philosophical and/or scientific question are dogs capable of experiencing what we call love. Does she feel affection for me as I do for her or am I just a two-legged means to the things she wants. A scientist in Australia is training dogs to stay put in MRIs long enough to peer into their pooch-y noggins to see what lights up.  Doggy brains light up in the same areas as human ones when presented with yummies.  Another study shows after dogs are trained to ‘wait of it’ their frontal lobes are active just as in humans when we engage in self-restraint. So we have similar wiring systems.* But does this mean dogs ‘love’ us, or are they merely great nonconscious manipulators.

Although I am her ticket to ride for walks and treats and 3AM doorman activities, Harper regularly licks me. She doesn’t lick Someone. I’m not talking a quick tongue job but long time sessions often covering my head and scalp with slobber. We can’t deduce why she does this and only with me. Maybe this is her means of showing love; perhaps I am just that tasty.

I like to think Harper and dogs in general ‘love’ us but this may be a case of projection. We love them so they must love us too.**  I would like it to be true. Most dog owners I suspect feel their canine companions love them.

If Harper ‘loves’ anyone it is Someone. When he comes home Harper lights up with the radiance of a brilliant sunrise and jumps up on him and runs around looking quite happy. In contrast when I come home she doesn’t run up to me but wags her tail and leads me to the kitchen where I have the awful intuition she is playing me to go for a walk and/or a treat. The fact ‘this works’  shows to me she has connected the doggy-dots at some level, but again this is probably not ‘love’.  Perhaps it is an indirect sign of love along the lines from “Moonstruck”:

“Ma, I’m getting married.”

“Do you love him Loretta?”
“No.”

“Good. When you love them, they drive you crazy, because they know they can.”

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*One exceptional difference is the amount of brain-stuff dedicated to smell. Dogs have enough to fill an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper if it was spread out. Humans in contrast would only cover the area of a postage stamp.

**Cats I strongly suspect are a different matter.

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A while back a Spo-fan emailed me the question: “What causes depression?” I wrote a response; I decided to post it here for other’s edification.

We humans like simple ‘A causes B’ explanations. Unfortunately this approach seldom if ever properly explains anything. I won’t dwell on the cliché (albeit true) explanation depression arises from of a complex multi-factorial gunge ranging from genetics to what you are eating nowadays. Here is a simple enough (and hopefully accurate) explanation.

There are two main causes of depression:

The main one comes from the perception of loss: loss of status, resources, companionship, leverage or independence.

The other main cause of depression is from sickness. Chronic conditions, especially chronic pain, are greatly correlated with depression. Either the sickness leads to depression or an underlying factor (inflammation) creates the physical and mental conditions. Some say sickness is just another variation of loss viz. loss of health. Therefore the perception of loss is the main cause of depression.

Depression and loss are linked as the consequence of evolution. We evolved as social creatures. Being involved and connected helped us relatively naked and defenseless animals to stay alive – alive long enough to reproduce. We had to anxious battler fronts to win: beating the bugs and keeping in good standing with The Tribe. To lose connection with the latter meant you were ‘on your own’ and at risk of death.

Notice I wrote ‘perception’ of loss. Back in the bad-old days if you got infected or booted from society both usually led to death. The mind developed depression as if to say ‘You have inflammation! or You are on your own! You’re doomed! Shut down and die!” Nowadays we have treatments for infections and losing your group, job, or status doesn’t lead directly to death – but the body/brain still reacts the same.

Unless depression is purely a ‘brain disease” like a stroke, the treatment for depression involves mostly treating the body and the mind not the brain. The treatment depression addresses improving general health thorough regular exercise, good diet, and sleep to diminish stress hormones and general inflammation.  Connection to others is vital via social network and ‘talking about it’; avoid isolation which the mind sees as a death-kneel.  Improving autonomy and removing things that trap you (bad job, bad relationships etc.) help depression.  Talk therapy often looks at and challenges our negative thinking viz. the loss of a relationship, a job, etc. is not really ‘the end of the world’ as our monkey brains like to go to in a loss situation.

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Tony G. (the dear!) recently asked how I started making shirts. It is a good story, one I often tell my patients for it has a good lesson to it. I thought I would share it not only with Tony but with Spo-fans.

Sometimes when a patient admires the Spo-shirt I’m wearing to work I thank them for the compliment and then I tell them I made it. Often they are incredulous that I did so; they sometimes admire my ‘talent’ to sew.  I tell them this tale:

Many years ago chums and I would holiday every winter in the Florida Keys. A woman there had a shirt shop. She made loud colorful aloha-style shirts. I loved them and every year I would get a new one as a souvenir. This went on for four or five years. Then she announced she was retiring; there would be no more shirts. I became lugubrious. I wasn’t going to get anymore shirts. While I lamented this loss one friend said “Hey, I got an idea! Why don’t you make your own?” My immediate emotional response was “Oh, I can’t do that”. I then listed the many reasons why I can’t: I didn’t have a sewing machine; I didn’t know how to sew; I had no relations who could teach me.  Another friend said “Well, you could learn”.  My response to this was to point out I didn’t have time to do the things I needed and wanted to do let alone find time to learn how to sew – it was not possible.  A third friend, Jerrold, who sews for a living, hummphed and pointed out if junior-high school girls can do this so could I.  It dawned on me then what I just said: “I can’t do that” and “It’s not possible”.  These are big no-nos in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in which one looks at negative reasoning, assumptions, and fears. I call out patients on these all the time. So I decided to try, somewhat to show Jerrold but mostly not to be a hypocrite. Doctor heal thyself.

I borrowed Someone’s sister’s sewing machine and I bought a ‘sewing for idiots’ pattern. I purposely didn’t take lessons but tried on my own. After a lot of trial and error and more than a few frustrated near-abortions I finally made me a shirt. The garment was crude but I had the satisfaction I had succeeded. Now, that was to be it; I wasn’t planning on continuing the challenge. To my surprise I discovered I actually liked sewing.  I figured if I made a second shirt it would be much better. So I did……

That was many years ago. Since then I’ve made over a hundred shirts. I got better at it. I didn’t have the ‘knack’ but practice made improvements. In time I also learned how to take in/out my trousers and do cuffs. I’ve made curtains and quilts. Seasoned Spo-fans know I once sent a shirt around the world for a fund raiser. What was supposed to be six months-long endeavor to six or eight people ended up lasting two years. International strangers saw it and they wanted to be participate. By the time the shirt returned it came attached to many new people I now count as friends. Mitchell at Mitchell is Moving! is an example.

So –  I have a hobby I enjoy and I developed autodidact skills.  I have a network of friends – and it’s all because one day I didn’t succumb to “I can’t do that/it’s impossible” but I said ‘Maybe I can do that; maybe it’s not impossible; I will try”.

It’s amazing what can happen when we challenge or negative assumptions.

At this point in my narrative to the patient I add: “I think if I went back in time to myself ten years ago and said “Hello! I’m from the future! Look at what you’re going to be doing”  I think my younger self would respond “Are you high? I have no desire, no talent, not time go back to The Twilight Zone as that isn’t happening”.

To this day whenever I am faced with something new and unfamiliar I still have an emotional response to become timorous and want to back away. I then remind myself ‘this is how you felt about making a shirt, so why don’t you try it’. Most of the time I do try and most of the time I find it a marvelous experience.

Go thou and do likewise. 🙂

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I can’t believe I made a shirt without posting about it!  I finished this one a few days ago and put it away in the closet for it is too cold for Spo-ware at the moment.  It is Sho-shirt #108 if my numbering system is accurate.  I christened it “The Green Shirt” a precise if not too imaginable of a sobriquet. I like that my favorite buttons go well with the pattern of the fabric.  I can rest easy now knowing I have a new camisa for next month’s Palm Spring holiday.

On New Years day we went to Bloodbath and Beyond and got us a new humidifier.  We’ve both complained lately of interrupted sleep due to dry mouth and closed-off nasal passages possibly from xeric sleeping conditions. It’s dry enough living in the desert most of the time but the winter months are especially arid with the heat sometimes on. Wet towels and nearly dry laundry dry out quick as quarter notes.* 

To be sure we have two humidifiers but these are inoperable. Both require filters they type that resemble white sponges, both wanting a specific size and shape.  Replacement filters are nearly impossible to find although Someone (bless him!) found some possible replacements for one of them at Amazon. In a few days we hope to have “A” once again operating. “B” alas went into the rubbish after a proper funeral oration.  

One humidifier is not enough to do the job so we got a new one as stated. These modern types don’t need filters but use a ‘demineralizer’. This is a blue plastic capsule resembling a mitochondria. It bobs about in the water and is rather mesmerizing to watch. Fearing it will go the way of the filter viz. difficult to find I bought as many replacements as I could carry. I think we are set for many years. 

“The Total Comfort Humidifier” emits a fine mist and hardly makes a sound. This is a disappointment for I am used to humidifiers making gurgling sonorous sounds which serve as ‘white noise’ to sooth my sleep.  Its mist resembles the steam that emanates from a boiling tea kettle, which is nice. I see we have a draft as most of the mist is streaming out the bedroom into the hallway, defeating the purpose. I moved it closer to Someone’s side of the bedroom and things look better.

Whether it is a placebo effect or it genuinely works is of no matter. We seem to be waking with less dryness. Keeping it filled is extra work.  In our house I am Water-master (being a Cancer); it is my job to keep the all humidifiers filled and running.  I don’t really mind. Seeing the steam rise into the air gives me a quiet satisfaction of humidity and wholesomeness. 

 

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*I tend to pull the laundry out from the dryer while it every so slightly damp while Someone dries it to the point of it being almost hot to handle. When I think upon dating apps with their questions of compatibility I believe laundry habits should be up there with thoughts on religion and smoking.

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