You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2021.

I’m thinking of going around the property and making a list of all that wants repair. I procrastinate doing this as I know the list will be as long as a CVS receipt and just as depressing. When something breaks down at La Casa de Spo, the general response is to learn to live without it or find an alternative means that doesn’t involve the broken object. I call this ‘The approach” and I am not pleased with it. The TV screen recently gave up the ghost, announcing this by showing everything in morbid dark red and black stripes. Someone is an avid TV watcher; I figured this would be the exception to The approach and he would want to get it repaired or replaced ASAP . Rather, he started watching his shows on the iPad. So there it stands, next to the nonworking gas fireplace.

All the houses in our section are painted shades of brown, what Flannery O’Connor described as ‘bulbous liver-colored monstrosities of a uniform ugliness although no two are alike’. Our abode is painted a light cream with forest green highlights. This was a perfectly acceptable HOA-approved combination at the time of its painting, although there was talk. Nosy neighbors out walking their dogs would stop to ask the painter about (viz. criticize) the color scheme. Over time the green has faded and the current HOA (more draconian than the former) sent us a terse letter telling us we need to paint the house and we can not use those colors anymore. The “approach” is going to be sorely tested by the HOA breathing down our necks.

Recently the dishwasher started acting funny – again. It only runs now on the ‘pots and pans’ setting. We’ve had the repairman over a few times. He does something and it works again for awhile. The stovetop has four settings, one of which does not work. This is tedious especially when I want two large pans going at the same time.

It is not entirely clear what variables contribute to ‘the approach’. Time and money are suspected as the two chief factors. Getting new stovetops, TV screens, mattresses etc. takes time, neither one of us has such. I suspect being cheap figures into things as well. Regardless, it’s time to take action and compose that list and have a sit-down with Someone about what gets addressed first. I wouldn’t mind starting with replacing the 2001 (your read that right) Honda sitting inert in the garage, gathering dust and slowly deflating, but the breaking point will probably be the next letter from the HOA with threats of legal or financial penalties if the paint job isn’t completed. I wonder which shades of brown we will go with. Oh the horror.

What’s top of my mind: My health. There was bad news at The Good Doctor last week. The blood work shows I am on the brink of pre-diabetes. There is no family history for DM, so this is due to diet or covid19 inactivity or both or the work of demons. I was perturbed by this news, much. I was told to seriously get cracking on diet, exercise, burning sage – whatever I can – or I be put on meds for such. Since the news I’ve been better at going to the gym and cutting out eating between meals. My fingers are crossed the non-Rx interventions can reverse the course.

Where I’m going: Nowhere. This category is again a bust. In covid-times I don’t go out. I have plans for October and November but not last week or next. I thought to write Car Repair Shop, but that is Someone’s job; he takes the cars in for these sorts of endeavors. The car needs a routine check up. I hope its labs are better than mine.

Where I’ve been: The pharmacy, to get my shingles shot. The Good Doctor also said I am to get three shots: shingles; covid19 booster; flu. Last Sunday I got the first of two shots for the prevention of shingles. As a boy, I loathed chicken pox. Even then I was thinking like a scientist, wondering why on earth don’t we have a vaccine for this loathsome virus. I got the shot on a Sunday afternoon, and by evening I had chills, mild fever, restlessness, and general malaise. I did not sleep a wink. I was pleased as Punch though: the flu-like symptoms were a good sign my body was reacting as it should to the shot. One lousy night seems a genuine bargain for not getting the shingles. I’ve known countless patients and friends who have had the shingles and sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than have a case of my own. Next month I go get the flu shot. I have never had a bad reaction to any flu shot. The covid19 booster is due in November ~ 6 months after the first set was done.

What I’m watching: The history of the Medici. On Saturday at supper Someone and I watched another episode of ‘The history of the Medici’. Lorenzo M. was banished from Florence (sensible!) but he’s back and ready to retaliate. It all sounds depressing and familiar. It reminds me of the Mary Oliver quote: “All history is current”. The professor ended the episode with lurid promises of more Game of Thrones shenanigans ahead. Artists and Popes are coming up – also with big egos. This sh-t never ends.

What I’m reading: “Delusional disorder vs. conspiracy theorists: how to tell the difference”. This eye-catching title and article is in the most recent edition of ‘The Psychiatric Times”‘ The article gives some tips on how to discriminate between the patient who believes someone is regularly breaking into their house from the patient who believes in the basement of a pizza joint is a child-trafficking business run by Hilary Clinton. Frankly, I don’t see why it’s necessary to discriminate the two types. Delusional disorders are the most incalcitrant illnesses in the DSM; they do not respond to medication, logic, attempts at reshaping their approach, or even evidence. I don’t see believers in ‘Pizza-gate’ any different. The difference, I suppose, is thems with delusional disorders often have depression/anxiety and they want help with that, which is why they see me. In contrast, thems that believe in conspiracy theories never see themselves as ill and thus would never see a psychiatrist. In a way I’m grateful.

What I’m listening to: Molly’s soliloquy. Whenever I have insomnia, I listen to a recording of the last chapter of James Joyce’s “Ulysses”. For thems unfamiliar with this lofty tome, in this chapter the reader is privy to a woman named Molly, who falls asleep while she thinks about her day, her life, and her future. It is one long free-association and it goes on for pages.* She falls asleep at the end, but I never make it that far. I am usually out long before she arrives at ‘and yes I said yes I will Yes’. Spo-fans who know this story: Someone and I do not sleep head to toe, but I do say ‘patience above!” a lot.

What I’m eating: Manhattan clam chowder. I like Manhattan clam chowder but I am often disappointed in the soups I am served. They seem like watery vegetable soups in which someone has tossed in an opened tin of clams. Oh the pain. I recently found a recipe that makes a thick, flavorful, ‘clammy’ chowder. No rubbish indeed! I am pleased as Punch to report my chowder was delicious. Usually my first attempts at recipes are fair at most, but this was spot-on. The only altercation to make next time is to chop the cubes of potatoes smaller in size and use less of them.

Who needs a good slap: The Maricopa election recall count. Speaking of delusional conspiracies….. for the third time the county’s votes were recounted. Not only did Trump lose again (3rd time) this time, he lost buy a few more votes. This sordid shenanigan has cost the county a lot of time and money. When Someone was working for the county his telephone-based job was continually interrupted by calls from out of state Trump supporters who were beyond the pale in angry expletives, tying up the lines, blocking proper Maricopa county citizens needing service. And the recount did no good. It didn’t do anything to appease the ones hell-bent on their beliefs the election was a fraud (see above: the Delusional disorder etc.).

I give these villains 5 slaps (on a 1-5 scale)

What I’m planning: Making cookies. October is my month for Halloween-based goodies. First on the list to make are snickerdoodles, an autumnal favorite. I don’t make just any snickerdoodles! no rubbish-types! I make pumpkin pie snickerdoodles. Alas, Babylon! I am not allowed to eat any (worse luck!) so I will bring them to work where all will be bedazzled by my culinary craft.

What’s making me smile: “Good Omens“: This book/made-into-a-series is a story of Good vs. Evil. The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley are assigned to earth at its creation.** They are supposed to be adversaries, but they both end up ‘going native’ as it were, and over the millennia they become close friends. Many have pointed out they resemble a staid old gay couple. The Tube of Yous has this lovely compilation of their more funny and touching interactions. This makes me smile, often. My favorite line starts around 11.00. Enjoy!

**Molly’s soliloquy consists of eight enormous “sentences.” When written, this episode contained the longest “sentence” in English literature, 4,391 words.

*21, October 4004 B.C. at 9:13AM. The whole business with the fossilized dinosaur skeletons was a joke the paleontologists haven’t seen yet.

As a boy I thought one accumulated friends but never lost any, like putting pennies in a piggybank. I think it was in college when I realized pals from my high school days had disappeared. Friendships were sealed in blood and I was now struggling to recall their names. The piggy-bank simile was replaced in time by an attic with limited space: if you put something new into storage, something has to go On goes through life turning over acquaintances.

I was looking into my iPhone the other day when I happened to find an old ‘favorites’ list of blogs I read years ago (circa. 2015), many whose titles I recognized right away. There were many I did not recall. I opened each one. Nearly all of them were ‘closed’ or ‘not available”. A few were still up on line but haven’t been written in over ten years. There were a few – a tiny few – ‘still alive and kicking’. I don’t know which made me the more sad: the blogger buddies I could not remember or the blogger-buddies I remembered but have disappeared. I figured there was no harm reaching out via email (if possible) but I pressed the wrong button and they all disappeared – gone as if they had never existed.

I started blogging in 2006; I’ve seen a lot of blogs come and go. The ones on my current roster** are a slim percentage of all I have ever read. Blogging resembles evolution: the vast majority of all species through time are now extinct. And there is I, like a horseshoe crab, plugging away.*

Before I managed to wipe out the cache of old defunct blog addresses, I recognized a few whose writers still keep in touch as it were via The Book of Faces. A few of them were FB pals for a while, but they have dropped out from that as well. Once upon a time these folks were important to me; now I struggle to remember who they were. I am working up the nerve to ask a few on Facebook to remind me how do we know each other? Did you have a blog once upon a time?

Over time I’ve learned no to fret so about these matters. The ones who stay in my life stay for a reason, and while it is sad to think of the ones whose whereabouts are unknown, they were good companions while it lasted.

Whenever I write a post like this one, it inspires me to track down a few ‘out of touchers” and send them a note to say I am thinking of them.

*Horseshoe crabs are estimated to be 450 million years old and are the same as they have always have been. Species come; species go. The horseshoe crab stays.

**Everyone one of them, a marvelous party.

Note: this one is written dedicated to “R” who comes in once a season for a ‘med check’ and to tell me how awful is life. Not just hers, but all life. A Dementor could do no better to bring me down. This essay is what I want to tell her, if she was open to hearing it. Spo

I have a handful of patients who play a sort of game called the ‘What’s the point?’ game. The goal is to defeat me in my meager means to help them. They list their woes and circumstances, and it’s my role in the game to try to come up with why their convictions are not so. Mind! This is not the hopelessness commonly seen in clinical depression. This is something else. There is almost a defiance to it, a ‘just try me” emotion, done with a slight smirk when I don’t ‘win’. My attempts to get them to see things differently or to persevere/something will work out, are deflected faster than bullets off of bracelets in ‘yes, but’ replies or other rationales. This is often the result of anger, turned-in: they feel much pain and they want me to experience their rage and helplessness – not assuage it.* “Yes,” they want me to admit in a defeat, “You’re right. It’s all pointless. Let’s give up”.

Many times in my life my mind has played “What’s the point?” with myself, so I recognize the game when it happens.

Once brains start playing the game, they often can’t find a way to stop. Everything hurts. The present has no value and the future has no point. Both my mind and patients distill all endeavors down to the universe not caring if we are here or not. They hold onto nihilism and think me stupid for thinking otherwise.What kind of idiot looks at the state of mankind and responds with anything other than despair?

Despair (I tell my patient and myself) is a certainty and I haven’t met a certainty that isn’t so. To look at it otherwise, one doesn’t pretend meaningless isn’t there, nor does one go the opposite direction that is all there is. We are wrong about meaningless when we wear it like a helmet against life.

“Meaning” I tell them “is what you do next”. ‘What’s the point?”: The answer is what we do in response to this emotional question.

I was recently reminded the word ‘believe’ stems from a Germanic-like word for ‘to care’ . I choose to care, to do something/anything that may nurture love and good work. I choose not to play this game. I choose to believe and persevere towards answering the question. The answer may not be at the destination but along the way when we were least expecting to encounter it.

*This is one definition ‘projective identification”. The therapist feels the emotions of the patient as if they threw a beachball and you caught it. One is on guard to see these coming and not catch or hold onto them.

Note: this one was another composition that puzzled The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections. They couldn’t conclude if it was ‘serious or not’. When it comes to history, they don’t give a tush, so it’s understandable they can’t deduce what on earth am I writing here. Spo-fans, who are clever and well over four feet, can figure it out. They gave it a ‘go’ as they like the notion of throwing people out of windows. Spo

I am continually learning history in order to diminish ignorance and achieve apotheosis, or at least have clever things to say at cocktail parties.* The Fates (or someone like them) guide daily me towards fascinating historical tid-bits. Lately, the gods or the A.I.s at YouTube have led me to titillating tales of people flying or attempting to do so. So far, thems who have tried (willingly or no) have met with mixed results. 

This is an artist’s rendition
He was not there to witness it.

Eilmer (or Elmer or AEthelmaer or Oliver – the parchment is a bit schmeared) was a monk in the 11th century who attempted to fly, inspired not by Heaven, but by reading ‘The Myth of Icarus’. Considering how that tale ends**, one questions his judgment at duplicating the experiment. He made some wings and gave it a go. History doesn’t say where he did this, only that ‘he flew more than a furlong”, nor does it say if he had some cushions or something down below ‘just in case’.  Someone wrote:

‘Eilmer used a bird-like apparatus to glide downwards against the breeze. However, being unable to balance himself forward and backwards, as does a bird by slight movements of its wings, head and legs, he would have needed a large tail to maintain equilibrium. Eilmer could not have achieved true soaring flight, but he might have glided down safely with a tail. Eilmer said he had “forgotten to provide himself with a tail.” ‘

It is written E broke both legs and was quite hobbled thereafter. History doesn’t say how he felt about it all, or what else he did. Imagine going through life known only as the guy who jumped out of a window and crashed!  Eilmer lives on that an engineer (with a sense of humor)named a flying simulation code “Eilmer”.  

Oh the embarrassment !
There goes our good Henley Street name!

Another man of the cloth to have spread his arms to take off into the blue yonder fared a bit better. Joseph of Cupertino, a friar in the 1600s, frequently levitated and floated off while in religious ecstasy. Apparently he didn’t care for it, nor did his superiors. They kept locking him up and transferring him as an embarrassment . Even The Inquisition got involved, telling him politely to knock it off. Brother C. is reported to have gone on a strict keto-like diet and there were no further flights. After his death, he was made a saint. One wonders if Brother Eilmer would have been jealous. 

Another artist rendition.
Please don’t try this at home or in Prague if you should happen to be there.

On the secular side, there are ‘The two defenestrations of Prague’. Clever-dicks and straw-splitters will argue the fellows flying out the window weren’t attempting to fly exactly but were obliged to give it a try. The first set who went out the window did so in 1419; the re-try was performed in 1618. Spoilers! Neither set achieved flight. One would think the disappointing data would discourage further attempts of this sort of shenanigan, but according to Wikipedia, people continue to throw each other out of windows and off high parapets. I could not find any positive results. 

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections requires me to put in a disclaimer: do not try this at home. Folks attempting to fly without an airplane around them are certain to fall and break things, including their dignity. Please stay grounded and avoid open windows, especially if there are others in the room with whom you have religious disagreements. 

Another warning: avoid Greek Myths, which got the whole thing going in the first place. 

* So far I only got one out of three, and that’s useless as I am not invited to cocktail parties anymore. Stirges.

** Badly.

This whimsical essay is one I am particularly proud of. I thought to post it in October for Halloween, but I don’t have anything else to say at the moment. Spo

As a boy I did not fear there were monsters under the bed. Mine were out in the hallway in the dark. They were always just out of sight, watching and waiting. There was a particular one that leapt out of a horror-story comic book and he* has been haunting me ever since. Hw doesn’t come around much as he used to. Once in a while I sense him lurking outside the hallway of the master bedroom. As a boy I was quite scared of him; as a nearly sixty-year-old man I now tell him to F-off and dare him to enter. Part of me I confess now sees him as a sort of comfort companion, an old acquaintance whom you particularly like but you appreciate he’s hung in with you through it all.

Over the decades the monsters under my bed have evolved from being puerile phantoms with nasty big pointed teeth to vague but menacing abstracts, more interior than exterior. I sort of miss the former types. They were more easy to deal with. Their likes were readily curtailed with nightlights and magical rituals done prior to bedtime. The present types of are not so easily assuaged. Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques and elements of stoicism help but not much.

Recently two major monsters under my proverbial bed were exorcized only to have a few new ones arise. As they say in ‘The Onion’: ‘this sh-t never ends’. My batting average to deal with MOTB is nearly 1.000 but one wonders if the present lot will be the ones that do me in.

Jungian psychology, CBT, and stoicism have in common the concept one survives despite the proverbial monsters under the bed. They scare, but they don’t succeed. Indeed, if you change the approach from a battle to co-existence, this takes away their bite. Like my specter in the hallway, you would prefer he scram, but since he’s along for the ride, you might as well try to get to know him and give him some space so long as that’s not in the drivers seat. I’ve learned talking to him helps. He’s learned he’s become a convenient captive audience for my jabbering. The table has turned; I am now his monster under the bed. He’s likely to become discouraged and scram. In a way I would miss the morbid thing.

*The sex of spooks is often unclear. I first wrote this piece using the pronoun ‘it’ but that looks odd, so I changed the pronouns to ‘he/him’.

Cognitive bias: A systematic pattern of deviation from rationality in judgment to create one’s own “subjective reality” from their perception of the input. An individual’s construction of reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behavior.

We like to think we are rational thinkers and we judge things objectively without bias. Others may be gullible to flummery, but not us. We are smart; we can see through any humbug.

As the Firesign Theater says: Everything you know if wrong.

Alas, Babylon! We are quite swayed by unconscious emotions towards thinking irrationally. This is based on our wiring to go along with the group and not be risk rejection for having maverick beliefs.

I thought it would be instructional and amusing to write about some common biases. Here are eight lovelies. Knowing them may enlighten you to become more conscious, thus improving your decision-making.

After all, us Jungians hold onto the Don Quixote-like dream Self-awareness and Self-development are still worthwhile pursuits. 🙂

The confirmation bias: you favor things that confirm your existing beliefs. Someone works with a person who refuses to get the covid19 vaccine. She read online the vaccine caused side effects in six women in England and some folks caught covid19, despite having been vaccinated. This proves her views the vaccine is not good to get. It is probably the other way around. She wanted (consciously or unconsciously) to find data to support her baseline belief and she dismissed any and all data that doesn’t support her belief. Alas, data that threatens belief is often so upsetting it is seen as a threat to one’s existence, often reacting violently.

Solution: painful as it may be, to get the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of any matter, including the arguments from the opposing side, prior to coming to a conclusion. When researching something, keep in mind the question ‘Am I merely looking for things to support something I want to believe is true?

The negativity bias: negative things disproportionately influence your thinking and decision-making. Yesterday I had a patient with plans to sell some property that was given him headaches, his wife is about the retire, and they are thinking of moving from the ardent heat of Arizona to a cooler state to be near their children/grandchildren. Not once did he convey anything positive about any of this. He listed only negatives: the hassles and money it would take to fix the place prior to sale and put the house on the market, the hassles of moving/finding a new place. Would he be burden to his children and how will and his wife get along cooped up in a smaller place? As he talked he almost managed talking himself out of doing all of this although to keep the status quo was conveyed as equally negative. I pointed out in everything there is also some positives: the benefits to be rid of two houses, the hot weather, and to be near family. I advised him to look at the positives of all his proposals. Like many people, he thought this means pretending there are no negatives. Not so.

Solution: after you have understandable negative ‘worse-case’ reactions to something, pause to find the positive elements to make a better-balanced decision what to do and think. If there is no positive, then look at the potential lesson/growth that can be learned from this negative experience.

The in-group bias: you favor (unfairly) those who belong to your group. One sees this all the time. Somebody does a shenanigan and it is condemned if the person is ‘not one of us’ or it is dismissed or even praised if done by a fellow group member. One of the few times I watched Fox News they were outraged Obama had reached out to North Korea ‘how dare he do that!”, only years later to praise Trump for doing the exact same thing.

Solution: Before forming an opinion, stop and consider how much you decide to believe/say/do is influenced by vanity viz. what will others in the ‘group’ feel if I don’t go along party lines? When you decide to go or not go with the group, you have done so consciously, not as a mindless myrmidon.

The spotlight effect: you overestimate how much people notice how you look and act. We walk into a party and we sense ‘everyone is looking at us” and is judging our so-called impediments, when in fact no one is looking at us, other than to see if we are recognizable or a danger. I recall a study in which the researchers made a group of social-anxiety-ridden people attend an event wearing bright yellow Barry Manilow fan T-shirts* . After the event, people at the party were interviewed: do you remember seeing a person wearing a yellow T-shirt? Most didn’t remember seeing anyone wearing such a shirt. A few remembered with prompting “Oh, yes, I remember now” but they could not remember anything other than the T-shirt was yellow, and less remembered the Barry Manilow photo.

Solution: Be assured no one is staring and judging you at a function – unless you are wearing a red MAGA hat and you want the spotlight on you.

Fundamental attribution error: you judge yourself on the situation while you judge others on their character. You lose your temper in the store; you attribute it to your headache, or having being under slept or ‘just having a bad day”. Others losing their temper in the store < they are assholes.

Solution: be more charitable when confronting awful behavior as perhaps it coming from someone in pain and not because they are jerks. This isn’t much, but it gives one a slim chance of maybe walking away less harmed for the process.

The sunk cost fallacy: the irrational clinging onto something that has already cost you dearly. Have you ever eaten a meal ordered in a restaurant although after the first bite you didn’t like it? Have you sat through a movie you realized 15 minutes into it, it was a bomb? Do you stay in a lousy job on the grounds you spent so much time and training to get here? These are examples of sunk cost fallacy. I recently counseled a patient who worked all his life to become an attorney only to realize he doesn’t like the law. He’s aching to get out, but dammit I spent all these years to become one. The sunk cost fallacy explains endless government endeavors like the Concord and the Vietnam War that ‘kept going’ despite all logic not to.

Solution: Face the sad fact a lot of time/energy/money has not translated into success, and it is better to cut losses than to go stubbornly on, hoping things will turn around or you will get used to it.

The curse of knowledge effect: once you understand something you presume it is obvious to everyone. Have you ever called ‘customer service’ for help with a form or computer matter and feel like the person is judging you how stupid you are for not understanding something so simple (to them)? My nephew, fresh out of engineering school, finds it amazing how is his uncles don’t know maneuver around a computer when it is so obvious – to him. At work I have to keep this bias always in my mind to always explain ‘the obvious’ to patients who may not have gone to medical school with thirty years of training to what is depression or a neuron or even how to eat well.

Solution: Put yourself in the shoes of the other. Try imagining they don’t know anything about your baby, but they can be taught, with patience without patronizing. If this keeps happening, consider your obvious-to-you matter ain’t so obvious to others. Can it be made more ‘user-friendly’.

The halo effect: how much you like someone or how attractive they are to you influences your judgment of them. Let’s face it. If we find someone attractive we tend to believe what they say and do as truthful, even when they are spewing rubbish. A lot of so-called influencers use their looks and charm to promote all sorts of bogus beliefs. Conversely, if we deem someone unattractive we don’t listen to them and judge their opinions more harshly.

Solution: Be mindful of your emotional reactions to the person in front of you. If you find them attractive, this will influence you to more readily believe what they say, and if you find them unattractive, you will be at risk for not taking their points as valid.

Spo-fans: if you found this worthwhile, I will do some more. I have heaps.

Pay attention to me I am very attractive.

*As Anna Russell says: “I’m not making this up you know”

Last Tuesday I had a seasonal check-up with The Good Doctor. He was pleased as Punch: my blood pressure was good and my weight was steady (no gain). We did not have ructions over my borderline A1C. I can keep working via ‘non-Rx means’ to better the glucose. We shared stories who had the patient with the worst ‘no vaccine’ excuse/belief. I had some doozies, only because I have patients with bona fide delusional disorders. These were disqualified as thems with this condition always have conspiracy theories as par for the course. The Good Doctor won with a case of a 40yo man who was refusing the vaccine because he read one (only one) article suggesting the vaccine may not work in immunocompromised folks. [1]

At the appointment he advised me to get three shots: the COVID19 booster shot; the shingles vaccine; the annual flu shot. Like Scrooge being told he was to be haunted by three spirits, I asked could they not all come at once and get it over with. No such luck: I should get them done in a series, a few weeks apart. This weekend I go to the pharmacy to set these up. My pharmacist is a fine fellow, well over four feet; I think he will oblige.

I have another reason to better my figure, something more pressing than my health: my vanity. My traveling companions have voted not to scuttle the November trip to Palm Springs. This gives me approximately eight weeks to work on my covid-physique. Imagining Urs Truly making his ingress at Inndulge looking avoirdupois. There would be talk.[2]

Unfortunately, what lies between P.S. and today is obstacle called October, the month-long party month, in which I am known to make all sorts of yummies all antithesis to slimming. Oh the horror. I suppose I could not make anything and forgo the candy corn, but what fun is that? I could make goodies and vow I won’t eat them or not much of them. [3] I will probably compromise by bringing all baked goods to work and put’em down for the goats to get’em.

Speaking of autumn-eats, yesterday was the first official day of autumn. To celebrate, I thought to make coffee for the incoming staff, using a homemade pumpkin spice blend from a recipe I found on the internet. I sprinkled some into the grounds and brewed a pot. Oh the pain. Do not try this at home. I dumped out the foul stuff and made a regular pot and no one was the wiser.

Mr. Getty got some before I threw it out

[1] Picking out one negative report as ‘the truth’ while dismissing dozens of positive ones is a classic example of something called ‘selection bias”. Someday I ought to write an entry on the various bias that afflict our thinking and judgment.

[2] Not really. My anxious vanity can be assured by something in psychology called The Spotlight Effect. This is the phenomena people greatly over-estimate how much people notice them. One walks into a room full of people and thinks ‘everyone is looking at me’ when in fact no one is looking at you other than a quick glance to see if you are familiar to them. One is more Mr. Cellophane than one realizes.

[3] Fat chance of that.

What’s top of my mind: Harper’s eye. For some time now her right eyelid becomes intermittently swollen. Poor thing. It must be itchy as she tries to scratch at it. She doesn’t look to be in pain from it. We apply warm wet washcloths to it, which seems to be appreciated. We set up appointments with The Vet, and during the wait the swelling goes away on its own – again. It keeps reappearing. Regardless of its status we need get the poor pooch in for a check up.

Where I’ve been: The Shell station air pump. The warning light came on in the car stating the front tires are low in pressure. I suspect the relatively cooler evening air is the matter. I have never been good working an air pump, so I defer this sort of thing be done by Someone or a mechanic or somebody like him. This morning on my way to work, dressed in professional attire, I was tried to maneuver the air hose about the wheels while behind me a large truck waited its turn at the pump. I wonder what the four fellows in the truck were thinking watching me bungle this endeavor. They four young Hispanic lads, dressed in yard work attire, sitting a large truck full up with rakes and mowers and such. I felt an ass, which they often saw as I bent over to attempt to inflate the tires.

Where I’m going: Total Wine. Every autumn I get me a six pack of various autumn ales. The store allows me to pick and choose individual bottles and cans so I get to try different beers from various brewers, one beer per week until All Hallows Eve. These usually have pumpkin in them or spices. As an autumnal libation, these brews beat pumpkin spice lattes by a country mile. This year I plan on trying some ciders, which in this country are called ‘hard ciders’ to distinguish them from the stuff one gets at the cider mills. I recently heard a podcast interview of a Gabe Cook, expert in the field. He raised my interest in trying proper cider, no rubbish.

Mr. Cook is worthy of an entry at Fearsome Beard.

What I’m watching: The History of the Medici. Someone and I started watching a twelve-part lecture series on The Medici. We are only into the second episode and there is already dirty work a-foot. In Florence, only ‘men without debt’ may run for public office, so Giovanni Medici is financing these have-nots with loans to make them eligible. This puts them figuratively and literally into Mr. Medici’s debt. That ain’t good. He sounds like Donald Trump, minus the artwork.

What I’m reading: “To be determined”. I recently finished “Moving Pictures’, the next installment in ‘The Discworld’ series, so I am ready for a new book. I have two shelves full up of books to read. When I stand before them I almost hear a hushed gasp, something like what a director must face when coming before a group of actors each hoping he will choose them over the others. I am still slogging my way through “The last of the Mohicans”, which has in common with ‘Moving Pictures” they are both fiction. ** Therefore, my next book will probably be non-fiction. I have heaps. Mine are mostly history-based. One is a biography of Peter the Pretty All Right, Czar of Russia, and another one is about Lafayette. There is third about the history of the modern grocery store and how it came to be. I think I will choose that one. The misters Romanov and Lafayette will have to wait their turns in line at the check out aisle #2 at The Piggly-Wiggly.

What I’m listening to: Autumn songs. After Labor Day I get out the playlist titled “Autumn”. They are my fall equivalent to Christmas carols. It is surprising how many tunes are about the fall. They tend to be wistful, a tad melancholy, using the metaphor of falling leaves to the passing of time or romance. There are no ‘upbeat’ autumn songs.

What I’m eating: Less carbs. I have a creeping upwards A1C, slowly reaching the point of becoming a problem. The Good Doctor is skeptical I can do something about this on my own. I have three months to support my hypothesis something can be done prior to medication. By coincidence this week’s JAMA (The Journal of the AMA) had an editorial telling us docs to stop thinking of obesity as a mere ‘calories in/calories out’ equation and more like a system in deregulation, driven not by the total amount of calories but the quality of calories viz. carbohydrates of the more dubious sort (the ones that taste good).

All of this is bad timing. October is ‘All Hallows Month’, four weeks of party-time. I was planning on making a lot of neat treats for the elite to eat. I am not certain now what to do about this.

Who needs a good slap: People at the gym talking during exercise. The other day I was on an elliptical machine located in a row of nearly empty machines. Grendel’s mother arrives. Not only does she pick the machine right next to mine, she is talking nonstop to somebody. Once upon a time I concluded thems who talk out loud like that have schizophrenia, but nowadays it is a sure sign they have some sort of communication device, as demonstrated by little white spoon in her ear. She talked nonstop. Although I had on headphones, it wasn’t enough to drown out her yakking. After awhile I gave up, stopped, and moved over a few machine’s distance. Yet she was the one who glared at ME as if I had done something rude.

I give Chatty Cathy and her ilk 2 slaps (on a 1-5 scale).

What I’m planning: An ersatz dinner for four. Once upon a time we had a set of Williams-Sonoma pasta bowls, consisting of a large center and four individual bowls. One bowl, the one with the olive design, broke to pieces years ago. We often use the three bowls (two at a time), and it bugs me every time I seem them I pull them. Someone never wanted to buy a replacement on the sensible grounds we never use all four bowls at the same time, and the replacement bowl would cost as much as the original set. The other day in a pique I went online and ordered the damn thing on impulse. I told Someone about it, when he was in a good mood, on the sensible grounds it is easier to get forgiveness than permission.** When the blessed bowl arrives and the set is again complete, I plan to put out the large bowl (which hasn’t seen daylight in years) and place it with the four bowls in a lovely arrangement on the kitchen table, just to look at them. There, I will say, how lovely; things are complete. Lord willing, maybe some day I will actually have over two others for supper and make a huge pile of pasta, served with cider. Wouldn’t that be nice.

What’s making me smile: Once again this W is the hardest to conjure. It makes me sad to say this. I was about to conclude nothing this week was making me smile when I got a text from Brother #2. He sent me a GIF cartoon. It iss stupid and distasteful and it l made me smile and laugh out loud.

**View this your own risk; this is not in good taste. It is about as bad I thing as I have posted. As they say at the BBC: pllease don’t write in.

*They are both fiction like Boons Farm and Chateau Petrus are both wines.

**Actually he didn’t have any reaction, good or bad, other than to ask what was the price.

Note: this little scribbling was written after I set up today’s work agenda. It resembles the labors of Hercules, with with co-pays attached.  Spo

Nearly every morning at work I open the day’s schedule I wonder how on earth am I going to manage everything. The roster, full  of folks  many of them ‘difficult’, evokes the anxious anticipation ‘what to do?” You would think after nearly thirty years of doing this I’d be over this sort of nonsense. My batting average for getting through the workday after three decades is 1.000.  Every dreaded appointment regardless of the situation: a sticky issue; an angry/upset patient; a pending confrontation on shenanigans, never turns out the way I fear it will go.* Patients often come in with unexpected plot twists, not at all what was written in the script, thus shattering again the scenarios in my skull.

I suppose this is the closest thing I have to an ‘imposter syndrome’ as the media likes to call one’s basic fears of inadequacy.  After three decades of shrinking heads – and having a good reputation for taking on the toughest cases – I still have a sense I am not up to snuff. It feels like a small stone in my sneakers as I walk about, not enough to cause pain or disability, but enough to let me know it is there.  So I remind myself:

I am OK enough at my job.

I get through every day.

I cannot do everything for everybody.

I do more than I realize.

There is lots of positive feedback I am good at what I do.

So, I take a deep breath, and take things one at a time. The obstacle is the way. I do what I can, and this is often quite enough and more so.

Tune in tonight. I will be tired and perhaps a bit drained, but I will be here and probably have already forgotten exactly what happened.

*This is the heart of cognitive behavioral therapy by the way. One looks at one’s anxious fears, considers the worst-case scenarios, and then the more-likely-case scenarios, and apply such to future similar events to act differently.

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September 2021

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018