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I received an email from an opsimath Spo-fan wishing to know if The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections is a group with fluctuating members or a set bunch. It is the latter. The present coterie has been there from the get-go and not likely to go away anytime soon. There are eight of them – ensconced as the rocks at Stonehenge; nothing knocks them down. I don’t know if they guard their posts zealously from invaders or if it’s a simple case no one wants the post.  Despite their uncouth protocols and abysmal lack of hygiene I guess I kind of love’em. They keep me writing when I lose heart. Here is an update on what’s happening in their marvelous mythical matters.

Sven – He remains well over four feet. For the thirteenth year in a row he’s been voted CEO clan-leader thanks to his no-nonsense don’t-question-me approach and  heavy bribery. The ‘no credit card’ policy (his baby) remains in force. As a consequence there has been no need to raid Equifax – again.

Bjorn –He is the Chief Editor at the blog having taught rhetoric and trivium at Ragnorak U. north of Uppsala. He remains fond of the mead but this keeps him from being too boisterous and busy-body. I have a theory the other members dope him up. Rumor has it he and Beowulf are dating again but when confronted he states they are just good friends like Achilles and Patroculus.

Helga “Pippi” Long-stocking – She’s the Martha Stewart of the group but without her charms. Over the years she’s slowly taken over more responsibilities going from mere party organizer to time-keeper-whistle-blower-referee. The men-folk boost of their achievements but she gets things done. It’s a comfort to know she’s behind most machinations making certain things don’t go awry.

Snorri Sturlson the 23rd – There’s scandal at TBHSR ! Mr. SS may be only the 21st of that name .  Two bastard Sturlsons were discovered in the family tree. There’s debate if they should count. Snori, whose voice resembles a klaxon, still makes the most noise at. the board meetings. Asgard and Associates (who rent the office next door) continually ask him to make less noise alas to no avail.

Slater-Wotan – He remains in charge of the photos which appear on the blog. He’s only got one eye and it isn’t as good as it was. He refuses to wear glasses (in his case a monocle).  Behind his back Helga refers to him as Mr. Magoo.

Oscar ‘Bunny’Jarl – Bless his heart he’s still the oldest board member. He is a dear. He doesn’t do much anymore but he’s hoisted up for every meeting. I think the other members are superstitious about him: if he falls the hall will fall. Please don’t feed him buns and things.

Walter Cnut Fafner– He is a giant of a man, well over fourteen feet although with time he’s dropped an inch or two. That’s diet that is. Helga gathered up some of his spittle (we have heaps) and sent it to one of those genetic testing sites to determine once and for all if he has Frost-giant genes. It turns out no: he is actually related to the 13 Icelandic Lads. No one was more shocked than Walter. He contiues to play the Eddas but he’s branched out to Bjorn tunes, much to the dismay of the other members. No wonder Snorri shouts so.

7/31 Edit:

Herbert – Patience above! I forgot to mention Herbert! This is not surprising as he remains the quiet one. He’s The Clarence Thomas of the Board and about as useful.  When he says something the others sit up and often take his word as gospel even if it is something like “It’s hot in here” or “I have an itch”.  He still has all his digits so he types the emails.


This morning I heard a podcast host mentioned having had an Otter Pop. She described it as a stick of sugar water ‘without which the summer is wasted”. I agreed with her in a general way: summers are not complete without at least one icy Popsicle to cool you down and turn your tongue a fun color while you reflect upon childhood when the summers lasted a lifetime.  The expression got me thinking on other summer essentials there are, the type without which the summer is wasted.

Let’s start with the foodstuffs. There is a basket full of summer eats and treats nowadays available all year long but they just don’t taste right outside of summer: strawberries in June; blueberries in August; corn on the cob and homemade macaroni salad throughout the season. Then there are the watermelons, cool, red, and sweet – like my men. I recall Grandmother would not eat watermelon before the Fourth of July.  The urtext summer treat for Spos young and old is the proverbial Small Chocolate Cone which is best consumed at the Dairy Queen on the way home after a day of boating  – which is another summer time must-have-or-perish item. Imagine a summer without boating on Lake St. Clair and chasing freighters! As certain as fish flies in July I sure can’t.

Alas, Babylon! So many of my favorites without which the summer is wasted are no more. Perhaps this is the reason why I no longer relish the summer but I count the days until autumn. I would trade all the watermelon and corn on the cob of August for a proper Midwest summer storm. I want to go onto the porch again and watch the ominous approach of a green-black storm and put up my arms as if conducting the sky. On cooler quiet nights when the summer triangle is high overhead the windows are open with floor fans blowing providing just enough white noise but not so loud as to drown out the chorus of crickets.

Other outdoor items of which without the summer is wasted? : water from the garden hose and burgers on the grill. Gathering fireflys in a glass jar at Charlevoix late into the night as the sun never set in summer.

So many things without which the summer is wasted.

Spo-fans: please tell me about your precious and wonderful things without which your summer is wasted.

Addlepated (adjective):  being mixed up and confused

Yesterday for a treat I made Mitchell is Moving’s five-can hot dish. My subconscious took the recipe literally as I forgot to add the one cup of milk to the mix prior to baking. It turned out ok albeit dry. This is not the first time I’ve gone over a recipe double and triple-checking things only to miss an ingredient. Perhaps it was the heat that had addled my pate. Yesterday I started a new blood pressure medication; perhaps that had something to do with me messing up. Occam’s razor suggests my hummingbird-brain was just in high gear. It seems to be getting worse not better in time. By sixty I won’t be able to recall anything post-ten minutes.

Another confusion in my life is the health insurance. I have until 1 August to decide whether to stay with what I have or change plans. I suspect both options are abysmal. The first step is trying to deduce the loop-de-loop of logging in. This requires I remember my email and password. The ‘forgotten password” option seems to send a code to the email I don’t remember either. If I were of a paranoid nature I’d suspect this is being done on purpose to prevent me from entering.  It must be just how folks feel when trying to vote as thems in power have made it impossible for them to do so. Someone (always the rationalist) interprets this Kafkaesque situation in a less-sinister form; it is mere operation error. I on the other hand suspect the Nargles.

It’s hell when you want the world to make sense and it doesn’t. As a boy I thought the country generally sensible with only a few patches of absurdity that the reasonable ones would keep in check. Oh the pain.

In fifteen minutes my work days starts; another week commences. It looks to be another hot one where the days blur together. I guess I should just eat the lotus and be at ease with my inability to connect-the-dots.  It’s like living in Hooterville without its charms.


Patience above and Lord love us! This is another entry causing angst with the brave and bold TBDHSR. They suggested (again) I post one of those ‘He doesn’t really mean any of this he’s attempting at writing humor” warnings, as if Spo-fans can’t figure this out themselves. Thems who are worried Someone is soon to be in court for a divorce or as a defendant in a homicide trial can rest easy.  Please don’t write in.


Over the years I’ve heard from many patients their mixed feelings about their spouse’s retirement. They love their husband but now that he’s home all the time with not much to do he’s following her around being needy or worse ‘helpful’ and it’s getting on their nerves.  I am thinking of this today for Someone is home. Normally he is away, working on the weekends, and I have the house to myself. While I try to do my routine he’s come in to point out a few problems around the house that need addressing right now. In our domestic tennis game I return the ball in the form of a honey-do list we could be doing which really means what he could be doing  but this so far has proved fruitless. My usual sobriquet Dr. Smartypants has been altered slightly to Dr. Bossyboots…..

….I have just returned from the office where Someone has figured out how get my dictation headphones to operate independently of the PC speakers so he can hear Youtube. He also managed to streamline der Kabalsalat into something better organized. He is a dear. It was on the agenda of things to do today. Don’t you just love it when your spouse picks up your telepathy and does what you want them to do without the drudgery of saying it plain and out loud? The downsize of this is he’s now at the computer getting in the way of me charting. I am not too peeved at the inconvenience as I get to write this rather than work. 

Speaking of work I suppose I should stop sitting and typing and get up and do some. After all there is work to be done. Confucius (or one of that crowd) says the best way to lead men is by example and this includes spouses at home on weekends. I daresay Someone needs structure and discipline if we are ever going to get all these chores done. We may be not speaking by day’s end but the house will be more tidy for it. 


Whenever I have a ‘negative’ emotion* my training kicks in to analyze what is contributing to this. I’ve noticed I am lately avoiding reading certain blogs and going on Facebook. What’s behind this?  I start feeling down, with a slight sense of anger when I go to them. My self-analysis reveals what I am experiencing isn’t really sadness but Envy. That’s the dart! I’m feeling envious. Well!

So many posts on from my Facebook friends are about fun-filled travels. They like to post their awards and achievements. One fellow on FB continually has shirtless photos extoling his weight loss and muscle gain. My Facebook friends are often surrounded by large groups of buddies all having a merry time. You get the picture.  Rather than feeling happy for them, I push the ‘like” button and experience Envy along with a slight sense of F-you”.

There are few  blogs I seem to be avoiding; they have a few things in common. Either they get massive amounts of comments or they post pictures of gorgeous guys. The former elicits Envy as if I was back in High School. About the latter, their photos do not induce lust but shame my physique is so bad. So far as I can tell none of the authors of these blogs are boasting their popularity; they are merely loved by many. The photos of the hunky hombres are supposed to evoke excitement not body-shame.

Envy is a long time struggle for me, stemming from my childhood when I was not strong/butch/sports-able as the others. These yardsticks were important and I always came up deficit. My usual response wasn’t proactive to try harder but be passive and feel Envy. I thought this nasty neurosis was in check but thanks to the internet Envy as reared her ugly head again.

Envy is a universal emotion and phenomenon: comparing oneself to others and coming up deficit. Social media platforms takes Envy to the extreme. In the old days you would compare yourself to only a few folks who were around you; thanks to the internet you now have the whole world with whom to compare your short-comings. Everyone is richer, happier, sexier, and better than you.

I hope to do a better job now I am aware of this. Rather than shun the internet I need to watch Envy’s grip. I may not be able to keep her at home but she doesn’t have to rule the roost.



*Some definitions are in order. Feelings are neither good nor bad. We all have them. I define an emotions as a feelings without consciousness with some implications they are being acted out. Throwing a tantrum is an example of ‘being emotional” while being angry is a feeling. Sometimes this is straw-splitting.


I can never make up my mind on canned goods.* I grew up in the Midwest where food from a can was a good thing: convenient, easy to work with, and preferable to fresh which wasn’t always available or seasonable. Indeed, the use of canned goods was a sort of bent status symbol. We could afford them. My collection of church ladies cookbooks from that bygone era seldom mention as ingredients fresh vegetables. You opened a few tins and stirred the contents together to make haute Midwest cuisine I grew up eating.
Nowadays canned goods are sort of a pariah food, something negative. Fresh stuff is better for us and without the suspicions of high sodium, BPA, and preservatives. No canned food ever!  is the new status symbol. Cooking fresh now says I can afford fresh food and I have the leisure time to prepare such.  Small wonder I am confused what to do with the stuff.

I confess I like canned goods if mostly for their convenience. At the end of the work day I am very tired and have no time (nor the mood) to cook. By opening up some tins of tomatoes, mushroom buttons, etc. and throwing them all in some pasta sauce (also out of a tin) this makes for a hot, cheap, and quick meal. Same goes for soup. On a busy weekend I don’t have time to prepare a proper luncheon. A can of Progresso can be opened and microwaved (and consumed) in mere minutes.  Last Sunday I spent hours preparing a pot of fresh soup.  The results were vast superior to the tinned stuff but I spent lots of time and money making it and I made a mess of the kitchen, all for a dozen or so spoonfuls of soup. It didn’t seem worth all the fuss.

I have another confession even worse than the first one. This one involves Chef Boyardee mini-ravioli and Spaghettios. I got these as treats when my babysitters came over. One of them didn’t bother to heat them up (there were no microwaves then remember); they were served them right from the can. I didn’t know until later these delicacies are supposed to be removed from their cans and heated.  As a consequence of this childhood trauma I still prefer them cold and right out of the tin.  In the back of the pantry sit a couple of tins of Spaghettios for ’emergencies’. All I need is a can opener and a spoon. Oh the embarrassment but there it is.



*When I was a boy I had an English nanny (really!). She said ‘tins’ instead of ‘cans’ as in: “Let’s have us some nice tinned peaches with tea!”  I said tins for awhile until I got to grade school when I discovered no one knew what the hell I was talking about. To this day the word ‘tin’ comes out like a Freudian slip.



All doctors think they are smart enough not to be swayed by sweet-talking pharm reps but the research supports the opposite: we are far more likely to prescribe something when a salesperson drops by to schmooze and give out samples and (best yet) something to eat. As a consequence I try to be vigilant towards these devious drug dealers. Most of the time I do a good job (I hope) sticking to evidence-based and science-supported statistics. The representatives who drop in at the office have learned not to talk rubbish or push things. There is one exception. A particular pharmaceutical representative is being especially insatiable in her pursuit to get me to make her product my number one prescribed medication. Unfortunately the prescription is very expensive, seldom covered, and causes side effects (despite her insisting it does not). There are cheaper alternatives that do just as good so why use it? Brand name medications are more expensive than generic meds; patients often complain these are not affordable.

Perhaps she is under pressure from her bosses to produce sales. Maybe it’s a personal matter; she sees me as a challenge like the Duke of Edinburgh award. I have to get on board and prescribe it. Whatever her motives she pops in a lot like a nefarious jack-in-the-box to inquire if I am using her product.

So far her means of persuasion have fallen flat. Someone didn’t do her homework that feminine charms and flattery may work well for on my colleagues but not with Urs Truly. The standard graphs and charts she presents I see right through (all of them produced by the same folks who make the drug). Poor reasoning and straw man arguments make my eyes cross. Her point ‘so many others use it as their main drug” does not move me onto the bandwagon.

Sorry lady but your product just isn’t my favorite. It isn’t as clean as you report and ny patients find it ‘too expensive”* It’s not a bad drug it’s just at the end of the line of my choices.

The Wonder Receptionist informs me said rep is bringing to her next luncheon** a physician to talk to me about the medication. The manifest reason is for me to ask a colleague any questions off-label something she is not allowed to do. Fair enough. The real reason to bring in Dr. Bigwig is for me to be dazzled so I too will want to be just like Dr. Bigwig and be swell too via using the product.

I could ask the Boss-man and Boss-lady to tell her and her ilk to go away but The Other Doctor likes having them in. I like the samples they provide; I use these for patients who can’t afford “X” when “X” is the only thing that works for them.

Salespeople come and go quickly as they are frequently sacked or reassigned to other areas. Ms. Persistence is more likely to be transferred than succeed. Perhaps someone higher up the food chain will connect the dots and replace her with a big burly bear-type salesman. I hope I am up to the challenge.


*In reply she asked me to ‘define expensive”. I explained when my patient says their medication is too expensive for them they want something cheaper I take this at face value and not argue.

**Poor thing. She always brings in the same food, not my favorite. If she brought in something better / something I liked perhaps her sales would go up?

“Well that was a boner killer” said the email from You-know-who. They didn’t like yesterday’s entry. I was ordered to write something ‘light and entertaining’ or be placed on my funeral pyre now whether I was dead or alive.


Today’s topic is pizza.

Little Caesar’s. This is the pizza I grew up eating. Once a week or so it was ‘Pizza night’ and we kids loved it. Everyone loves pizza, no? Father’s tastes were limited to pepperoni only so one pizza was that and the other one was what we kids wanted. This was the advantage of ‘Pizza, pizza”. I have no memory if the pizza was any good. I wonder what LC tastes like nowadays. Little Caesars is a nostalgia food – and that always tastes good.

I give Little Caesars: 3 stars

Domino’s. When I went to college in Ann Arbor, MI I stayed at Couzens Hall. There was a corner store across the street from the dorm. The shop changed owners a few times but ended as a quaint little pizza shop called Dominos. I remember Tom M. himself was there to greet and serve. I was at the start of an empire – maybe my patronage made it so.  Mr. M went on to be a religious zealot and his pizza degenerated into cheap no good eats. Unlike LC, eating Dominos doesn’t elicit Proustian memories of things past.

I give Dominos: 1 star

Detroit -style pizza. I grew up in the Detroit area. Father played softball sponsored by Shields Bar. After the games we went to the place where they served Detroit-style pizza. It was a thick pizza with a thin crust, a sort of deep dish pizza. I recently learned Detroit-style pizza is a Sicilian pizza. I haven’t had one in decades. I recall it was very cheesy. I would love to have one if they still exist.

I give Detroit Pizza: 4 stars

Chicago deep dish pizza. I lived in Chicago from 1988-2000. I learned to love Chicago deep-dish pizza. It is stuffed with spinach and mushrooms and it must be eaten with utensils. It is superb. I must get one whenever I go back there.

I give Chicago Pizza: 5 stars.

Digiorno’s Pizza. This is the frozen pizza at La Casa de Spo. I admit it is not very tasty; it is rather doughy and it doesn’t have enough sauce (I love a good sauce). However it is hot, cheap, and quick – like my men.  It is good for Someone to eat when he comes home late from work.

I give Digiornos: 2 stars.

Hawaiian Pizza.  Someone likes pineapple but he doesn’t like Hawaiian pizza.  I don’t care for pineapple much but I enjoy Hawaiian pizza. There’s no accounting for taste.

I give Hawaiian Pizza: 3 stars.

Finally! Here is the official Spo-pizza. It consists of six toppings:


Olives (proper Kalamata, no rubbish black or green)

Roasted red peppers

Sun dried tomatoes


Onion (red)

Do not dare to question this.

Spo-fans: please tell me what sort of pizza and toppings you like.

Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections thought this entry abysmal. They loathe ‘Notes from the Office” in general but this one was particularly loathsome. They wanted me to put up a cautionary note lest I cause depression. For a bunch of barbarians who think nothing of rapine they can be awfully sensitive.


When it gets down to it my patients come in two categories:

Thems wanting relief from some symptoms.

Thems trying to find meaning in their life.

These goals are not the same; I have to listen carefully as to which one the person on the other side of my desk is wanting. The majority of patients – and people – aren’t especially interested in meaning; they are looking for something to assuage what ails them so they can better function in their lives. A small minority are looking for answers. “What is the meaning of (my) life?”

We have the paradoxical challenge to make meaning in a meaningless universe. That’s it really.

This is a rattling truth to face straight on, worse than encountering Cthulhu. We want Life to have meaning.* I’ve found five ways people deal with the sense of meaningless. Here they from ‘worse to best”:

Suicide. Feeling life has no meaning is a major risk for suicide. There are many examples throughout history to illustrate this bleak option.

Distraction. Sometime called ‘the manic defense”, people throw themselves into activity and past times to keep busy. If they should stop they are again in touch with the meaningless. This option is exhausting and in the end seldom works.

Denial. Life does have meaning as prescribed by religion. All religion is an attempt to bring comforting meaning; it is its most alluring attribute.  Lots of debate on this one whether religion/denial is a good or bad thing to deal with the meaningless of Life.

Creativity. People become artists or actors or politicians to make something noteworthy for themselves and their fellow man.  Creativity is a good way to explore the mystery of Life.  I do this myself as a writer.

Acceptance. This is the most mature of the five ways. It faces the truth without succumbing to delusions or despair. There is a satisfaction in the acceptance there is no ultimate meaning. It is sad but not necessarily depressing. In the end we are all going to die and what we do along the way is up to us to make into a personal meaning, whether it’s solving a global problem or caretaking others or making art. Like the Cheshire cat when asked which way people should go  I reply this depends it doesn’t matter which way to go as eventually you will get somehere.



* The few the proud the conscious have the awesome burden of being aware of this. Those ‘asleep’ are not bothered. It is hazardous to awake because when so it is very hard to go back to sleep. Consciousness is often a one way door; the price of growth is expulsion from The Garden.



Although there is work to be done it’s too hot to do anything. My Protestant Work Ethic neurosis in cahoots with the OCD-like parts of my brain usually run the roost on the weekends, having me scurry about non-stop doing tidy up. The less cerebral parts of my body staged a coup this morning by combining GI upset and general malaise. This less than cerebral sabotage has obliged me to sit still and lay low. The chores will just have to wait. The thermostat is normally set at 85F but I’ve turned it down to a gelid 80F. *

Seasoned Spo-fans know The Lovely Neighbor gave me her vast collection of food magazines before she moved away. Throughout the years I’ve been ripping out recipes that look good to someday make. Part I is complete: all the mags have been pilfered.  Part II is to organize the clippings into tasty taxonomies – also done. 

As you can see in the photo Part II is spread out on the dining room table. My soul swoons; what a collection! It certainly doesn’t lack for variety. Part III is commences: reread the recipes for redundancies and continuing desirability. I suspect I will throw out several. This is a good task to do through on this hot Sunday evening and while I have no appetite. Sorting through the slips I saw several repeats, which makes sense. I want to make coq au vin and I like pasta dishes so I would rip these out whenever I saw one.  I have heaps. 

Parts I-III were pretty straight forward. Part IV is the challenging one: making them. It looks if I actually tried to make every recipe I ripped out I would not live long enough to do so. I feel obliged to make them not just throw them out with a change of heart. There is a sunk-cost feeling about this all.  I will try to be positive not negative. These dishes look downright delicious; I really want to make them. They are various, tasty, and exciting – like my men.

For Sunday supper I plan to make this soup chosen from the Soup section as we have old chicken and stock to use in a Martha T. White Memorial Food Push.**  It’s a start. 


*As it is 115F outside this indoor this temperature feels cool. The ceilings are quite high in the Casa de Spo allowing heat to rise, which helps some as well.

**My grandparents were Charles and Martha White. Each pushed food for different reasons. In a Charles O. White Memorial Food Push you eat something as it will make you grow and strong and it’s good for you. In a Martha T While Memorial Food Push you eat something so there are no leftovers to save and later throw out when no one eats them.  

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July 2019

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018