You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2019.

This is a short one. It’s late and I need some sleep. The Board of Directors insisted I fulfill the Contractual Obligation to put out so many entries in a month so here it goes…..  

30 April is Walpurgisnacht or Walpurgis Night. It is one of the pagan days of transition. This one heralds the end of spring and the start of summer (which ends 1 August). Walpurgisnacht is a sort of  ‘Halloween-lite”.  On this night the witches and fairy folk gather on mountaintops or in motels for revelry and shenanigans.  I did a Duck-duck-go search. It looks like modern W-nachts are more tame than those in medieval times. It looks like a night for bonfires and feasting and not too many demons. 

Alas there are no such activities happening hier auf der SpoHaus; it’s a disappointment. I guess I forgot to post the invites on Facebook. Someone and Harper are asleep in the deep and things are deadly dull and quiet. Tonight would be a good time for Henrik the Ghost to make an ingress but fat chance of that. The car key gnomes have hid the keys to the Elantra in their usual way and no more than any other night. Perhaps the Cup Sprites have moved about one or two more the half-consumed beverages in honor of the day.  Wandering Walpurgis-witches are welcome provided they don’t make too much noise and don’t mind the mess in the kitchen.  I sort of like the idea of witches appearing suddenly provided they are along the line of Cousin Serena or Uncle Arthur. Just my luck I get Aunt Clara. 

I guess I won’t bother waiting up for what’s likely to be a wash out. Oh well, there will be other Walpurgisnachts. I will have to hold out until Lammas Day or whatever they are calling August 1 these days. I will try to remember to make a cake and move around the cups and keys a bit to better the chances of demonic drop-ins.

 

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Not happening in my house. 

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Is there an anonymous group for thems addicted to podcasts? I think I need one. 

I recently went through my podcasts roster in order to count them . Patience above! They total 115! * In my defense some of these podcasts are on break and possibly not likely to return. Another set comes out only once a month. Several are daily but only 5-10 minutes long. I don’t listen to all episodes. 

All the same my eyes cross and my soul swoons by the sheer number of them. It’s like waking up one morning only to realize your house is full up with stuff that has accumulated so slowly you hadn’t noticed.  

The grim reality is there are not enough hours in my day in which to hear them all. I have a similar relationship with books but they are harder to accumulate than podcasts, which are downloaded quick as a quarter note. 

I love learning that’s the problem. I’ve got to come grips I just can’t learn everything. Even if I were to quit my day job and listen all day long my hummingbird-brain probably doesn’t want all that is available on politics, science, history, entomology, and so forth.  No doubt it would act out in panic by snapping a tether or getting me to lose my phone – again.

Perhaps total abstinence isn’t necessary but learning to set some limits.  I can eliminate the podcasts that seem closed. Next to go are the ones I more often than not eliminate as too long or looking uninteresting.  Also to go are the episodes lasting over an hour** and the ones that are basically people gabbing usually over each other rather than taking turns. 

I just did the math and it looks like this gets down the roster to ~ 75 which is better but still too much. I suppose so long as I am not neglecting my duties and the dishes I am OK, although one can certainly listen to podcasts doing the latter (not so much the former). 

Spo-fans are invited to leave in the comments if they have a too-many-podcasts problem OR the know of fabulous ones to recommend. 

 

 

*List provided upon request. 

**’Making Sense’ by Sam Harris, and ‘The Tim Ferriss Show ‘ are erudite and well done but heavens both tend to go for 1-2 hours. Whose got time for that? I don’t. I am willing to endure operas by Wagner but not that.

Office

While you all are no doubt goofing off or sleeping in or raiding hamlets* Urs Truly at a two day weekend long conference, powwowing with his fellow wizards, learning the latest on this, that, or the other.

Today’s topic is pain. We will hear the latest on what is it, how to properly diagnosis and address it, and the updates on the controversies around opioid analgesics A.K.A. as pain pills. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you know the latter topic is a hot topic A.K. A. ‘The opiate crisis.’  Society and medicine are trying to come to grips with ‘how on earth did we get here” situation we are in and what to do about it. As is often the case, people/politics/physicians all want simple scapegoats and solutions.  Fat chance of that. It’s a morass of awful gunge consisting of many, many factors. Frankly it’s a tangle and will take time to sort through the matters.

I don’t specifically treat pain but I see a lot of psych patients who are dealing with chronic pain. Most folks with pain also have depression/anxiety; it’s like a coin with two side: pain and mood. Overall they are not doing well.  Most come in to see me quite remonstrative and disconsolate** about their pain management physician.  There are four common themes to suggest they are not just whining or seeing things wrong:

1. The management of pain is inadequate

2. They are treated/seen as manipulator drug seeking scoundrels rather than patients.

3. The doctors are more concerned about them not taking pain meds than how they are doing.

4. The system went woefully wrong and they are the ones being ‘punished’ for it viz. can’t get proper treatment viz. can’t get pain meds. 

I find it hard to polish my side of the coin when the other side is not being well addressed.

One of my greatest challenges for pain-full patients are thems taking long time opioid-based pain medications and tranquilizers now being told by their pain docs ‘it is one or the other”  viz. get off the valium or they will no longer prescribe the Percocet, that sort of thing.  Ironically, it often would be a very good thing for chronic pain/anxiety sufferers to lay off these types of medications in favor of alternative treatments that show better help – but you try telling them that.  They resemble an orchestra of scorched cats as they lament these four matters listed. Poor sods. They too have to redo their paradigm and approaches as do the physicians. 

The three hour lecture on these matters is about to commence. After it concludes I will add a post-script for thems interested in updates and news and such. 

Spo-fans who are dealing with chronic pain: I am curious to hear from you if you find it difficult to get help with such. 

 

*Guess who’s doing that today. 

** Many are positively irate. 

One of my favorite podcasts “Hello from the Magic Tavern” starts with the three hosts introducing themselves. There is Arnie and then there is Chunt. Finally there is Usidore the blue. He always lists in a boisterous proud voice his many names: 

“I am Usidore, Wizard of the 12th Realm of Ephysiyies, Master of Light and Shadow, Manipulator of Magical Delights, Devourer of Chaos, Champion of the Great Halls of Terr’akkas. The elves know me as Fi’ang Yalok. The dwarfs know me as Zoenen Hoogstandjes. And I am also known in the Northeast as Gaismunēnas Meistar.”

He adds he has lots of other secret names that if said would cause death, destruction, or grown men to pull their own heads off etc.  It’s humorous but it illustrates the importance of names. 

Our names are so integral we forget how important they are. I use the plural as we get many names throughout our lifetime. The name we get at birth is very important for it sets the stage for what maybe a lifetime of association. [1] 

Whenever we enter a stage of life we get a new name. When we are confirmed or when we wed our names change. We get add-ons when we get a degree. Stages of birth give us other new names such as mom, dad, uncle/aunt or grandma. Popes, monarchs, drag queens, and writers spend long and careful hours establishing their names to compliment their new personae and being.  Names are serious stuff. 

Here are the names I’ve had in life: 

Michael Charles: birth name

Mike: childhood name  

Red bird: Indian Guides name

Rocky: my childhood nickname until the movie came out and ruined it for me. 

Tiny: brothers’ name for me when they outgrew me.

Mick: Brother #2’s name for me and still is

Trollbreath: my dungeons and dragons name. 

Doctor: upon graduation from medical school. 

‘D.R’. : ASL sign name – an “R” put unto the wrist where one takes a pulse). 

John: upon religious confirmation 

Urspo: writer of blogs

Spo: nickname on the internet. 

Uncle Mike: after the niblings arrived

The second Mrs. Someone: when I got hitched.  [2] 

We often have several names going at once depending on the circumstances. At work I am addressed differently than among family or chums.  Most names are given to us (some not wanted) but a few we choose ourselves to commemorate a special passage of life. From a psychological point of view a new name is required at these times.  

Since I don’t envision advancing further in life I sense I won’t have any more new names.  I suppose if I have a sex change I can become Martha which was to be my original name until things went not as expected. If I should obtain apotheosis a new name will be required. [3]

Meanwhile I am content with the names I have -more or less. Just don’t call me Tiny. 

 

 

[1] Names can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Names like Maude, Martha, or Agnes will set a girl on a different path than say Tiffany, Jennifer, or Barbara. 

[2] I have lots of other secret names that if said would cause death, destruction, or grown men to pull their own heads off.

[3] God-Emperor sounds groovy. 

Walking the dog

Morning dog walks are no longer done in the dark. There is now enough nautical twilight to light the trails without the need of flashlights. The temperatures have climbed and I don’t need a sweatshirt. Spring has arrived.

Better light and temps allow us to use some paths not used in months. Harper seems pleased by this expansion of possibilities. She’s grown older; she’s not charging out the door as if late for a party. Our walks go just a tad slower but no less appreciated. Harper seems more interested inspecting interesting sniffs than getting somewhere.

A Spo-fan* wrote to ask if we ever see others out on our walks. At 5PM there are not many. Thems out at that hour are often jogging; they whiz by without as much as a how-do-you-do.  Sometimes we encounter other dogs. There is a rubric when approaching such parties. Each set sizes each other up for the other’s dog for size and looks for signs of aggression.  “Is your dog friendly?” is a common question. “Yes,” I reply (using a friendly voice) “She’s and old dog and quite friendly”.  The words “she” and “old” are useful to appease the other. Harper  often walks by without interaction at all. This is sometimes seen as a disappointment and there are slights made about her ‘not being that friendly’.  Others want assurance against fights but they take mild umbrage when there is no doggy-interaction. I sense they think Harper is a snob.

They are not wrong that at 5AM Harper isn’t out to socialize she is out to smell the sniffs. My agenda is she empties her bladder and bowels. While we walk I listen to the podcasts on my roster that are five minutes or less. Winter morning dog walks are less than 10 minutes; the spring/summer strolls expand to 15 or more.

Regardless of the time of the year or the length of the walks all morning ablutions end with the obligatory trip to the pantry for a dental stick. These brown plastic looking sticks (about 5 inches) conjure up something out of NASA for space-feed. They don’t look at all appetizing but Harper eats them with relish.

Thus endeth the dog walk – and this entry.  🙂

 

*I forget which one but I remember he is well over four feet.

23 April is Shakespeare’s birthday but it is also the day back in 1985 when Coca-Cola launched their updated “Coca-Cola” which was eventually renamed “New coke” which was eventually pulled from the market as it didn’t work.  I remember listening to talk radio at the time which was full up with agitated persons all sounding like heroin addicts going through cold-turkey or the beginning of Ragnorak. I recall a woman lamenting that her constitutional rights had been violated while a man hinted we should rise up and set fires to public buildings. Eventually the howl of sharpened famine emanating from the heart of hell got the nabobs at Coca-Cola to remake the old stuff first as “Classic coke” then just “Coke” again and everyone calmed down into the conspiracy it was all done on purpose just to boost sales. People get awfully queer about their soda pop, especially cola drinkers.

Someone doesn’t drink tea and he abhors coffee but he loves his Coca-Cola, particularly Diet Coke. “’Tis mother’s milk to me” he says. He has some every morning as his DOC (drink of choice). When I met him I thought this was a unique quirky trait limited to Someone. Little did I know; he is mere one of a legion of CC devotees and don’t mess with their beverage.

I am not one to drink soda pop; I’m suspicious diet soda is no good for us and the regular stuff borders on evil. For the sake of my marriage I keep my medical views to myself lest Someone end up in court either seeking divorce or as a defendant in a homicide trial.*

Once in a while there are attempts to curtail Cola consumption for health sake but the soda pop industry spends a fortune to make sure nothing curtails such. “The Coke must flow” is their motto. I don’t think they have much to worry about.  Thems that adore and/or need cola are not going to stop.

I just got word Brother #4’s son/DIL just had their baby, born this day 4/23. Last week I told her to ‘hang on’ until today given its association with Shakespeare; I would remember the birthday easier.  She balked but apparently delivered (no pun intended) on 4/23 as I hoped. Brother #2’s first son was also born on 4/23. I recall telling SIL #2 to have her baby born on this day to honor Shakespeare and make it easy for me to remember – which she did.

This all has nothing to do with Coca-cola I suppose but having two nephews whose birthday is today – with Shakespeare – is enough for me to get me a Coke (diet) and celebrate.

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*SIL #4 who is also a Cola-nut says she would be on his side. Stirge.

 

Pensive

In order to get through life without going mad or losing our marbles we have to delude ourselves from some harsh realities. One of the hardest truths to accept is the realization the majority of us are unimportant and nothing special.* I am one of those people.

I like to believe I am overall a good person who continually works on getting through life with probity and good will without too much ‘Shadow’ mucking up my intents. I am good at what I do and what I do benefits others. My work has meaning. I have a loving family and relationships. Other than my copious carbon footprint I will leave this earth with the quiet satisfaction I beheld a marvelous story and the world was not worse for my being here.

But that’s it. I haven’t done anything noteworthy to get me  into the annals of history. When I go I will be remembered for a little while by thems who knew me until they too die off and I am forgotten. If some of my siblings’ decedents happen to be into genealogy I may be remembered as a dead-end side branch in the family tree.  I will join the billions of people who have gone to their graves unknown and forgotten.

Most folks don’t think this way; they go through life without conscious cosmic thoughts of whether or not they will endure somehow. A tiny minority of us want to ‘live on’; they try hard to become memorable in any way then can.  Often they are depressed knowing their chances of success is very low. A few – very few – get into the history books to be one of those remembered.

This realization doesn’t evoke depression or grief in me but a sort of relief I will not be going down the path towards greatness. I am OK with my lot. At 56 years old I am not looking towards the future in desperation to ‘do something’ like writing a great novel or rising through politics or becoming a legend in my field.

In the musical “Pippen” the hero Pippin dreams of a great life.  “Don’t you see I want my life to be something more than long?” he sings in the opening song. He longs for greatness. He tries politics and war and hedonism – and fails in all.  By the end of the musical he has fallen for a widow with a child pointing him towards domestic living and daily drudgery.  The master of ceremonies suggests he commit suicide in a brilliant ending rather than succumb to the mundane.  Pippen chooses the latter. The master strips him, the woman and child, and finally the stage to nothing. He walks off and tells Pippen to live trapped in ‘that’.  The widow asks Pippen if he feels trapped. Pippen replies yes he does, but he feels good – and that’s not bad for an ending of a musical.  With smile and a bit of flair, the three of them bow, and the curtain drops and the play is done.

I feel likewise.  🙂

journeys

 

*I think the other hard truth is the world is not just. The beneficiaries of good fortune often do nothing to earn it while the bad people often get away with their actions without consequences. There is no gods or karma to remedy this.

One of my goals in life is to make proper onion soup no rubbish as it is my favorite. My soul swoons whenever I get hold of a good one. Alas these are few and far between.  Bland and disappointing types abound in restaurants. Every few years I try again to make my own but it always comes up deficit. For this month’s ‘soup of the month’ I vowed to try again. 

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A few years ago I got at Christmas the cookbooks of Julia Child. I’ve long been intimidated by French cooking what with its pretentious ‘members only’ reputation being a cuisine only great cooks (French ones really) can truly master/don’t try this at home.  I figured if anyone can help it is Mrs. Child. 

ingredients

To my relief the ingredients of her version are simple , few, and easy to obtain – like my men – consisting of onions, beef stock, wine, and not much else. 

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Onions are another area of culinary intimidation. I would pay top dollar for a kitchen applicance in which you pop in a whole unpeeled onion and out the other end comes perfectly peeled/chopped/diced onion bits.  I’ve watched Youtube videos on how to chop/slice/peel onions yet I still bungle every time I try.  For today’s endeavor I got this guillotine-like contraption which hasn’t seen daylight in years. It did a fair job slicing thin the 1.5 pounds called for and I didn’t cut off my fingers – good signs both.

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Mrs. Child says the trick is a slow low heat cooking then a high heat with added sugar and salt to caramelize. She says to be patient; this will take time. 

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A watched pot never boils but here is Urs Truly ordering the onions to speed up and the beef stock to boil. I had as much luck as King Cnut holding back the tide. Spo-fans can see in the photo the intrepid Spo-kettle which is continually called upon to boil water for tea.

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The recipe calls for wine – but only half a cup?  Patience above! What a waste to throw out the remainder of the bottle. I will try to think of something to do with the remnants.  

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It looks promising!  It appears to be what proper onion soup ought to be!

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The verdict: ‘meh”  

It has the right aroma, texture, and color. It doesn’t seem to have much onion. Next time I should double the amount of sliced onions.  There sure was a lot of shrinkage in the cooking process.

The big page 71 is the taste: the soup doesn’t have much flavor nor is it complex. True! The recipe has no spice other than salt and pepper to taste. I tried not to scrimp on ingredients but perhaps I should have used a better wine. I suspect there is an element of culture: my tastebuds are so used to the hot and spicy cuisines of the American Southwest anything less seems tasteless.  Does one but hot sauce or chiles in onion soup? I think not. 

All the same this one is the best I’ve made so far; I am making progress. I will keep trying.   

 

Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections were not comfortable with this one. It is neither funny nor entertaining. I told them it will be posted and they capitulated. 

 

I’ve been immersed in Greek Mythology on Podcasts and Youtube. I continue to be outraged by Hera. For thems not familiar with the goddess, Hera is the queen of the Olympians, wife and sister to Zeus. Zeus is mostly known for being a rake who runs around the world seducing everyone – with Hera on his tail. Hera’s outrage at her spouse’s sexual shenanigans is understandable. However she handles her jealousy not by vituperating her husband so much as attacking his paramours – none of them willing recipients of Zeus’ lusts.  After he more or less rapes them Hera torments them often sadistically. It is worse for Z’s children by these poor souls. Hera does her best to destroy them in the most miserable means possible. [1] She personifies the age-old adage of “blaming the victim”. [2]

Blaming the victim is a psychology that burns my bacon. Gay/lesbians get blamed for having a high rate of depression, drug abuse, and suicide because of who they are and not because of the circumstances that make for such circumstances. Women who are sexually assaulted are told it’s their own fault for wearing the wrong clothes or doing something men don’t approve of. The largest and most enduring recipients of “blaming the victim” are the poor. Throughout time the poor have been told it’s their own fault they are poor. If they weren’t slackers, stupid, irresponsible, etc. they would not be that way. This logic carried out means not only is poverty ‘their fault’ but trying to help them only makes these faults worse. [3].

The flipside of blaming the victim is the all too frequent willingness for the victims to believe it. Human psychology as it is, when you are told over and over in direct and subtle ways your lot is your fault then you start to believe it.

I recently heard a lecture on obesity. People who are overweight are one of the few types of folks where it is still “OK” to make mock and most important – blame the victim. When we see a fat person we think s/he is that way from  volitional poor choices, lack of will power, and morale failure. We don’t make room for the possibility medical health concerns thwart their metabolism or pain makes exercise impossible. We tend to view fat people as stupid. We frown on their poor choices of food – not taking into account good food is expensive and often hard for the poor to come by, while cheap/bad food is often the only thing they can afford and obtain. [4] We all know about the ‘obesity crisis” in the USA but we seldom if ever look at the social issues and injustices that make it so. I suspect rich folks (who can afford proper food and time for exercise) have far less percentage of folks overweight than the ones in poverty.

As a doctor I see the hazards of being overweight; being so has a high level of morbidity and mortality. Shaming these patients (or worse – yelling at them) never never never ever works. There are studies to suggest shaming fat people only makes them more ashamed and eat and gain. In consultation on nutrition/weight etc. I’ve learned to look less at patient’s diet and exercise and more at their economics and time restraints. [5]

Society and systems and our prejudices are the things to blame, not the recipients. We need to recognize the Hera in us all and start going after Zeus, not Semele and Europa.

 

[1] Through the pages I want to shout “Hera, you are a goddess, why don’t you just kill them?”

[2] We don’t know if the Greeks thought Hera sensible or horrible.  Was she an example of ‘how to do it right” or ‘how not to do it”.
[3] I remember a play in which an impoverished family struggles to better themselves but the powers of the town and factory where they live and work thwart their endeavors through restrictions and unjust punishments. As the mother leaves the stage, she turns to say to their priest: “You know what’s the hardest thing about all of this? People think we do this on purpose.”
[4] We are also punitive with those overweight. We pass laws in cities forbidding the sale of soda pop and laws obliging food stamp recipients what they can and can not buy wih them. If similar laws are attempted in the suburbs there is outrage from the white and rich about ‘nannying’ laws and taking away our freedom to choose.

[5] Ever try to tell a single mother working two jobs she should go to the gym and cook from scratch a balanced meal of fresh produce she can’t find or afford?

Spo-fans may recall a few weeks/entries ago The Board of Directors You Know The Rest burned down the board room. I think at some level they were hoping to filch farthings from the Spo-fans in a fire-sale fundraiser. Unfortunately The Notre Dame fiasco eclipsed their shenanigans. The millionaires are donating to Paris not to WordPress. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good and this includes impudent Archetypes.  I pointed out to the miscreants there is nothing like a new tunic to brighten up your day so do let’s tidy up the place and make some improvements.

While they are hauling away the burned beams and dead animals this weekend I plan to update my links and pages. There are many blogger buddies not on the link roster (hang in there Debbie!) and a few in need of pruning (alas they are no longer with us). My ‘37.5 things about myself” needs updates and editing, especially the photo.  I like the one there but it’s getting a bit old (rather I am a bit older).

Then comes the cosmic question should I change the format? It’s been the same since its inception many years ago. I have mixed feelings: it feels quite staid and easy on the eye, but it also feels aged. I change my wallpapers on my phone and laptop more often than some folks change their socks  (and some Board members change their nether drawers). Spo-fan should not be shocked to see a few trial runs in the next week. I am open to comments good and bad.

After the rugs are replaced* we erect a new oaken round table –  this time with drilled holes to allow for computer and laptop cords. It’s long overdue: they need learn how to use such devices. Vikings maybe fierce in battle but they are big wussies when it comes to electronic devices. I’ve assured them rapine, piracy, looting, and trolling on line beats what they do by a country mile. I pity the poor tech-geek we’ve hired to set it all up. The last ones hired disappeared halfway through the job. I recall he was a tall man with his companion whom TBDHR instantly disliked on the suspicion they were Slavs. During the recent tidy up two skeletons were discovered in the dungeon behind the trapdoor underneath the board room. I was told there were just the bones of large rats.  Not even Sarah H. Sanders would try that one.

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*’Rugs’ is code for hides, most of them now quite beyond repair given years of muddy boots and dropped doughnuts. I’ve persuaded TBDHSR not to replace them but let’s go to IKEA. I sense they won’t like the carpets much but they should enjoy all those Js and Ks.

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