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Tut! It looks like another weekend of fun-filled there’s-work-to-be-done tasks. I wonder what others do on weekends while I do laundry, paperwork, housecleaning, and go to the grocery store. I imagine people leaving town for fun times until Sunday evening. Goodness knows when they get their laundry done. I suppose they hire folks to do it, or some stay-at-home type manages the housework. Good for them!

With that said we have symphony tickets for this evening. Someone is ushering, as is his wont, and I will by in the audience, falling asleep, as is my wont. Sometimes I wonder why I bother going. Attending ‘live’ concerts and theatre seems to be something I won’t let go, a long time ‘should’ statement. At some level I have a magical belief if I stopping attending concerts, ‘the arts’ will go the way of the dinosaurs (in E-flat). From the looks of the empty chairs in the attendance, this seems a fairly safe bet.

Speaking of things fading, I was looking at the VCR and the CD-ROM the other day and wondering when was the last time they were used. They ceased being useful or used a long time ago, and it doesn’t help the TV screen gave up the ghost several months ago and we’ve not bothered to look for a replacement. Someone now watches TV et. al. on his tablet, so that’s that. I am half-tempted to remove all the electro-gizmos and appliances – dead as dodos – and see if he would even notice. I don’t suppose Goodwill wants these sort of things. They could fill their bins on our discards.

Speaking of dead things……

The other night while Harper and I went a-walking we almost stepped on a snake. Good thing I walk with my iPhone light on! It gave me quite a fright, especially as it had red, yellow, and black stripes. I tried quickly to remember but the mnemonic about the stripe to determine if it was a poisonous coral snake. It turns out it was dead so it didn’t much matter.* That same night there was a scorpion in the knife drawer, which was convenient for dealing with the dastardly thing. It didn’t upset as me as much as when I discovered why it was there: it was chasing a roach, which also met its demise.

That is quite enough dead things, organic and inorganic, for awhile. I am looking forward to my evening nap at the symphony.

*A photo was taken and research revealed it was not a coral snake. It was some other sort, whose name escapes me. By the way, the ditty is “red touching yellow kills a fellow.” You try recalling this while avoiding stepping on a snake in the dark with dumb dog wondering if it is treat.

#13: Feeling sluggish at work? Try the Pomodoro technique: 25 minutes on, five-minutes break, and repeat.

I had to look up Mr. Pomodoro’s technique. It is more or less what my late Mother made us kids do. She would say we were staying put too long and get up and go outside or (worse) go clean your room. Not that I needed much prompting to get up and move. I have never been good at sitting still; my hummingbird brain doesn’t like doing such. Happily, my work set up is a good one that I get up every twenty minutes to lead the patient in my office back to the waiting room and fetch the next one. While I often feel sluggish at work it isn’t due to inactivity.

Mother and Mr. P are correct. We are not designed to be sedentary. We are wired to be active. Much ink has been spilled on the so-called dangers of being a slugabed-type couch potato. Sitting on your backside watching reruns of “Friends” (oh the horror!) is allegedly worse than smoking. I wouldn’t go that far but concur we should regularly get up and move about.

On weekends I have the anti-Pomorodo technique: I bounce about La Casa de Spo doing things until the more sensible side of my cerebrum declares enough is enough and forces me to go lie down for Pete’s sake. I do this, but the inner-hummingbirds are already plotting their next move.

I sometimes hear nasty stories from my patients in customer-service jobs they are not allowed to get up but only at specific ‘break’ times and the mere action of standing to stretch and walk a bit is grounds for dismissal. I envision the cliché slave ship with oarsmen chained to their oars, forbidden to stand up. These manager fools should know better.

On the opposite end of the problem are thems who feel obliged to stay at their desks working allegro non troppo and forget to take breaks. Stopping for a five minute break almost feels like shame to them. This is bad too.

So there you have it. Some folks need to be prodded to get up once in awhile and some are forbidden to do so. It seems it was a mistake for us to leave our farming environments to go work at desks or in factories. Maybe the original error goes back further when we stopped being hunter/gatherers and became farmers. It gets down to the mistake to crawl out of the water onto land. I bet fish never worry about getting enough movement.

Is your job sedentary? Do you get up from time to time?

Do I have to show up and goose you off the couch?

We who are The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections have given thralls the day off to recuperate from yesterday’s all-staff seminar on security which included the writer Urspo who is not looking well probably from the ‘How to deal with hackers’ workshop we told him to watch his shield but no he doesn’t listen now he in bed needs rest lots of blood loss he will better Helga made him good bone broth with fish heads and sheep innards (no rubbish) he better in a few days or else. We do his Ws ourselves dictating to The Graces they write good and use keyboard with funny symbols not proper runes.

What’s top of our minds: Danegeld. With inflation and no tribute from the Land of the Rus the war chest is low time to go a-viking give us silver or we burn your barns down or recite Vogon Poetry.

Where we’ve been: The Time of Legends Home Depot. It is the only good place get Yggdrasil wood to make new portal door. Sven broke down the old one. Again.

Where we going: Svithiod. The fish there good this time of year. Catch many and smoke them. Serve with New World yummies like potatoes, tobacco, and that high-grade narcotic Slater-Wotan is so fond of.

What we watching: The horizon. We see smoke. The Visigoths. They pillage? Do the BBQ? Up to no good that’s certain. Reminds us their turn to host the bridge club.

What read: Nothing. Only Herbert reads. He reading epic tome saga composed by a warrior woman Emily Bronte . He read some out loud each night after dinner. We hope Yarls Heathcliff and Edgar fight and Heathcliff become Wuthering Heights Master Edgar is a wuss.

What we listen to: Joni Mitchell. She better than Eddas they so depressing.

What we eating: Lots. Day meal, or dagmal, served after rising. Nattmal  in the evening at the end of work day. For dagmal there’s egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam.

Nattmal is meat and ale no rubbish types.

Who needs their eyes gouged out: The Celts; The Saxons; The Goths; The Gauls; The Picts: The Romans; The Jutes; The Angles; The Frisians; The Huns: The Danes (most of them anyway); The Round-earthers: The Grendels: The Trade Union Presidents (grumps!); The Cox Customer Service Representatives – yarbles too.

What we plan: Heorot Johnsons II Hospitality Suite. The Fafner and Fasolt Construction Inc. building a new wing for guests with rooms with beds and tubs and windows. It will have something called ‘continental breakfast”. Thrall Urspo says it will also have “Y-fie” with password name “Evelyn” perhaps.

What’s makes us smile: Clever blog entries. Like this one. Say so in comment section cheer up bleeding thrall Urspo.

Something is raising hell in my entrails. I won’t go into details, lest some of you are reading this over your lunches. For some time now the members of my microbiome (oh that word!) have been vociferating something coming their way is making them cranky. I better find out what it is and change it quick, as the GI system of Urs Truly is beginning to resemble France circa. 1789. Oh the horror.

Back when I was in medical school the wee-beasties in our bowels were deemed just passive participants along for the ride as it were. Modern research shows they are an integral part of our well-being, and somewhat in charge, along the line ‘if momma isn’t happy, no one is happy’. Feeding them good things (no rubbish) is correlated with all sorts of physical – and mental – benefits.

Patients come in all the time feeling they have a ‘food allergy’. Often they are not having a true allergy but a dyspepsia. This is straw-splitting. Either way it means they should try to eliminate what substances are upsetting their equilibrium for health’s sake.

Here is the ideal set-up: eliminate the chief suspects from the diet for a few weeks. This list may include: dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, dye, and corn. See if the bowels improve and then add back each one, one at a time, to see if there is any correlation to a relapse, and Bob’s your uncle.

Since I heavily season nearly everything I eat with hot sauce and/or chili peppers, I figured that was the cause. But I gave it all up for Lent, and things were not better.

If I rule out stress and exercise as the source of my sorrows, I point the accusatory finger at coffee, artificial sweeteners, and nasty breadstuffs. These shouldn’t be too bad to eliminate for a fortnight and even if they don’t produce results they aren’t bad things to give up really. In general processed foods should be shunned, and not only for the sake of the microbes.

Since I am on my high horse about proper food, I can not stress the importance of fiber. Fiber supplements only do so much; they can’t make up for a poor diet. “Taking fiber with a C-minus diet makes it a C-plus”. Proper fruits, vegetables, and grains is what’s called for.

That’s about it I suppose; no java and no artificial sweeteners for awhile. Giving up refined carbs will be the bigger challenge. I hope this helps. It would be a disappointment to find nothing is better and it points to something I don’t really want to give up.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections tell me the demographics of thems who read this blog are over forty years old, and well over four feet*. This means I don’t have to explain to the Spo-fans what is – or was – an encyclopedia. I’ve been recently wondering what happened to my parent’s set when their house was dismantled. I suspect it was tossed out, being as useful nowadays as a slide rule. All the same I miss these tomes.

As kids we had The World Book. It was ‘the’ place to get information. They seemed magical: a collection of thirty volumes from A-Z (some of the letters were split into two parts). If I didn’t know something, down came the appropriate volume for a consultation. I was naif as I figured what was in them was all there was on a subject. I didn’t use them so much for reference, but for fun-reading. Like a random Google search, I would pull one down, open it up, and see what I could find. WBE had a lot of photos and graphs for most entries. This was far more entertaining than watching the boob-tube.**. Every ten years it seems we would get a new set. This was a big to-do as by then I was familiar with the old set enough to notice what was changed. There would be new topics added and old ones dropped or modified.

I haven’t looked (for I don’t really want to know) if bound encyclopedias still exist or they are as extinct as landline cord phones. I wonder when the last set(s) were made. I suppose out of nostalgia I could go on Ebay and find me a set, but I won’t. I probably would find the entries lack the luster they gave me when I was an 8yo boy hungry to know everything that could be known.

As a substitute, the internet is a bust. True it is faster, more detailed, and kept up-to-date more frequently than every ten years, but what comes with it is lot of lies, ads galore, and nasty types following me around like the creeps they are. Reading Volume”W” in your bed at night under the covers with a flashlight (when one ought to be sleeping) was a private adventure unspoiled but outsiders.

I have just come back from an internet search (oh the irony!) and lo! World Book still exists! – not only on line (no surprise) but honest-to-goodness bound encyclopedias! The photos reminded me each year they would send out a ‘Year book” to add to the base books. And there were two WB Dictionaries, the biggest books I had ever seen. I had forgotten about them. It cheered me to see again these green and white bound books. Long ago they took me to The Lands Beyond, for which I am most grateful.

*Most (they tell me) are over 50 years old, with the average age about 58 – provided they leave off the Spo-fans from ‘The Time of Legends’ like The Norns, The Furies, The Fates, who are immortal and skew the statistics.

**Browsing The Atlas was similar.

I have a patient of an Asian background who recently told me she and her husband are delaying having children (although they are getting up in years). They plan on having a child in 2024. This is due to the fact that year will be “The year of the dragon”. Why does that matter? I was instructed thems born in “Dragon” years are superior in many areas.* She told me in China and other countries the birth rate spikes in the years of the Dragon (every twelve years) as the children will be exceptional. At first I figured this was a personal belief of my patient, but afterwards I went poking about on the internet and lo! there is some truth to this viz. there is an increase in birth rates. This belief looks to be a good-luck charm or superstition but I wonder if it is more a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you give birth to a ‘Dragon’ believing that baby will be wonderful, bright, and successful (and well over four feet), doesn’t this make a child more likely to be that way? If you are raised being told you are exceptional, doesn’t that imbue a sense you are great being?

Being one to analyze things I wonder too of the ‘shadow’ side of seeing a child as exceptional. If you have two kids, say a ‘Dragon’ and a ‘Rabbit’, do you unconsciously or consciously see bunny-boy as less in potential? If you are not a bright thing, yet born a ‘dragon’, do you feel pressured to become something you aren’t?

Urs Truly is hardly an expert on children, having none his own (worse luck!) but it strikes me parents projecting expectations and assumptions onto their offspring isn’t good for their psyches. My siblings have had a handful their own and they assure me kids are like loose cannons; they are born a particular way and no amount of cheerleading and persuasion turns them into something they are not.

My parents didn’t pressure me into being something I wasn’t. I wasn’t a jock; dad did not push me to be into sports. I didn’t get pushed into clubs/programmes as my parent’s felt I needed them (or) their friend’s kiddies were doing it so I had to do so to save face. I come from a long line of lawyers. At an early age I voiced a desire to become a doctor; Dad went out and got me a toy doctors kit. I was applauded for doing well in school because they valued education (thanks mom and dad!) but I don’t remember being told I was brilliant or ‘will go far”.

Thinking again on my mentioned patient with her high expectation of having a ‘Dragon child”, in two years in her late 30s. I hope it goes well for her and the child. It would be a quite the joke if Life delivered onto her a child that is ‘just OK” or has some quirks. Will she be plastic enough to go with what she has or will her perceived brilliance of the child lift it to levels beyond basics? Fascinating to consider.

Meanwhile 2023 looks to be the year of the Rabbit; let’s see how that goes for projective identification onto infants.

*Urs Truly was born in “The year of the tiger”. I don’t know if this means I have specific attributes but I like the notion of being a Tiger. It sounds preferable to being a ‘Rat’ or a ‘Pig’. Whatever suits your fancy, I suppose.

I haven’t written a ‘Walking the dog’ entry in awhile. This is mostly because Harper doesn’t seem to want walks as much anymore. Usually when I rise in the morning she is right there with me, eager to get out and go. Saying the ‘W” word no longer elicits sudden euphoria. Nowadays she just wants to sleep. I miss our dog walks.

It’s that time of year again when our morning and evening walks are both done in daylight. The day time feels safer. I am wary to go walking in the dark of night lest there are beasties. When we go out I turn on my flashlight and keep to lighted areas. I keep vigilance for coyotes and javelinas. Although it is not the season for them, I watch the ground for signs of rattlesnakes.

My night fears are not of people. Ours is not a high crime neighborhood, so I don’t fear seeing strangers approaching me, but then again I am male. I may not be the most masculine of fellows but I still am a man. I see the occasional couple or single man out for a stroll after dinner, but never a single woman just out for a walk, not even with a dog. I suspect the local women do not go a-walking after sunset not from fears of coyotes but from fears of men. I cannot imagine what it is like to feel not safe to go out in the dark in principal, yet half the population feels this way, or so I wonder. If women do go out on their own they have been trained to be wary and be prepared for trouble.

When we go for a dog walk and I see a woman walking towards us I purposely do things to try to convey I am harmless. I talk out loud to Harper in a cheerful voice, perhaps sounding a bit ‘fey’, as if to convey I am not a threat. I feel silly doing this – is this necessary? Should I be outraged I am being placed into common category ‘all men are creeps until proven otherwise”? Do women consider all men a danger? I don’t know. I know I would never say hello to a woman out walking unless she says hello to me first, sensing if I initiated phatic interactions she would become tense. I don’t hesitate to say good day to a dude, nor do I worry if I am making him feel uncomfortable by my mere approach.

If these assumptions are based on the dreadful proposition women are fearful of men – day or night – than it isn’t just and it isn’t fair for women. Women should feel OK to take a solitary walk after dark. Growing up in a family of all boys Mother never warned us boys to be careful when going out after sunset.

This ‘Walking the dog” entry didn’t go at all where I thought it would, but dog walks are like this. Sometimes Harper seems to suggest to go ‘this way or that’ over my provisional path. All the same I won’t go into dark areas for the reasons mentioned. This is just a slight but awful dread of what others must feel every night.

Spo-fans of the feminine type: do you go walking at night by yourself?

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections announced they are closing Heorot Johnsons II for their every five years or so spring cleaning, noted more for the ceremony than the efficacy at accomplishing the task. It is good to open the portals and blow out the place, which was beginning to smell like the back end of a basilisk. The dears sent an email stating I should ‘Carry on without us’ for the next couple of days, and why not do another ‘100 ways to slightly improve your life’ entry.

So be it.

12. Sharpen your knives.

This succinct tidbit advice sounds cryptic if not downright sinister. ‘Sharpen your knives’ – for what exactly? It is a good idea to have sharp knives at the ready whether you plan on chopping onions or stabbing the hands of intruders from across the fjord. Several of the The Tube of Yous cooking gurus stress the importance of having the kitchen knives regularly sharpened.

Until recently the cutlery at La Casa de Spo was as dull as plainsong, not having been sharpened since The Punic Wars. In the kitchen gadget drawer is a long circular steel object that looks like a skewer. I am told it is for running the knives over it to get them oh-so-sharp but I can’t get the hang of it. I’ve watched demonstrations but they go so fast and I am afraid of slicing my fingers in the attempt. To sharpen my knives I am using a device with two openings in it like a pair of “Vs” (one course/one fine). This seems easier and infinitely safer than the skewer. I try to remember to sharpen my knife prior to using it.

It turns out there is a nearby family-owned shop whose service consists of sharpening knives for home and business. I want to try them but they keep impossible hours. I am also a little sheepish to walk into the place waving knives around (no matter how dull they are) lest I am taken for a crazed sterno-bum and become a pincushion for their projectiles. Oh the horror.

That’s how you walk when you are going to kill somebody.

As always I did a some research as to ‘what’s the proper way” to sharpen knives and it seems to be ‘whatever way you are more likely to do it’ wins.

Since I am on the topic of knives, another area of interest is how to chop things. Despite the videos that make dicing and slicing look simple I somehow manage to bungle it. My diced vegetables never resemble the perfectly sliced bits in the photos. I suspect the knife not being sharp is a factor but it is probably more operation error. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice – and this includes chopping onions, preferably with a sharp knife.

Someone and I have different approaches to how to chop things and in the kitchen we tend to get in each other’s way so it’s best one does the chopping while the other supervises or makes the gin and tonics or better yet scoots. “You realize you are talking to someone holding a knife” I say when he finds fault in my dicing. The threat of impalement doesn’t work as he knows the knives are dull anyway.

In conclusion I think Tip #12 is a good one. Please keep your knives sharp for efficacy sake and for that quiet satisfaction one gets slicing through vegetables cleanly with a mighty chop chop chop sound.

How to you keep your knives sharp?

I want to thank everybody who left kind words in the comment section in my last post. I also thank thems who texted or sent emails, hoping I was OK. It is a comfort to know you are there. When bad things happen, what makes the difference, what makes sorrow bearable, is knowing one is not alone but others are there. Hugs.

What’s top of my mind: the state of the nation. This is what brought me the down the in mood and spirit. It isn’t the war in the Ukraine that causes it, nor is it Covid19. Wars and plagues happen and while they are never good I am not surprised when they occur. What burns my bacon and makes me feel despair is seeing so many in the U.S.A. following liars and charismatic know-it-alls, rejecting reason, science, and truth to believe what they wish is true or to gain power or wealth for doing so. I see the return of Trump to the White House and he will overcome the land with a dictatorship in all but name. I wish I am wrong but I doubt this.

Where I’ve been: In my own private Idaho. Whenever I feel this way I withdraw hedgehog-like into my own world. I wish I had more “Warrior” energy to stand up and fight for the right, but I don’t. What keeps me going is the knowledge that comes from sixty years of experiencing ersatz Armageddons: none of them lasted or really were ‘the end’, and I persevere still standing. Let us hope so.

Where I’m going: Lost Vegas (eventually). For the first time in over two years I am going to a medical conference. I miss these sort of things. I am of the ‘old school’ that I learn best by sitting in a real lecture hall with a proper professor presenting slides. It also gives me a chance to get out of PHX for awhile. Lost Vegas is not too far away that I can drive there, and if there is any trouble there is no airplane trip to cancel or be stranded. I’ve enticed Someone to come along. Normally he doesn’t go as he doesn’t like these sorts of shindigs. He gets bored waiting around a hotel waiting for my day to end. He hasn’t had any sort of holiday in years so I hope this does him a lot of good. We are staying at some sort of strip motel called ‘Caesar’s Palace’. I forget what the lectures are about, but it doesn’t matter.

What I’m watching: Harper. A week ago she had a sudden onset of ‘generalized fragility’ as if she had had a stroke. She’s recovered and she seems fine but I keep watching for signs of trouble. An anxious habit of mine is to see her in a deep sleep and want to poke her to see if she is alive. This wakes her with a slight startle and a look of annoyance and I don’t blame her. Her eyes look more clear, so the twice a day eye drops are doing some good after all.

What I’m reading: ‘Aspirin exposure fails to reduce cardiovascular event risk”. I get these sorts of medical reports all the time and they have to be read carefully. In this trial, patients with high blood pressure in check with medication we given a daily aspirin. the authors concluded this did NOT prevent the onset of heart attack. This is contradictory to some previous studies in the same type of patients. This conclusion does not apply to other types of patients taking a daily aspirin. The title can easily be misinterpreted as “my doctor told me to take a daily aspirin and now it means it is no good and I should stop taking it”. Worse conclusion is to see these ongoing updates as a proof “Medicine doesn’t know what it is doing” and you get your medical advice from Joe Rogan or one of that crowd.

What I’m listening to: ‘The great trials of history.’ I need another audio lecture series like I need a new book to read. I have heaps. However “The Great Courses” oh-so-frequent emails paid off like a slot machine. Yesterday ‘85% off history course sale” got me to purchase (for 20$) their “Great trials of History”. It is told by a professor of law who is well over four feet. He discusses the famous and infamous trials starting with Mr. Socrates’ and ending with Mr. Simpson’s.** It should be good-listening. In fairness I ought to hear and see the dozen of Great Courses lectures series I’ve bought but haven’t attended to.

What I’m eating: Flavored ice cubes. Nowadays what floats my goat is making ice cubes in various shapes and flavors. I have quite the collection. Some are made from lemon juice and I have a few made with white wine. These are good to chill the glasses of vino. Someone prefers drinking sports drinks to plain water, so I made for him ice cubes using said libations. I think they taste like chemicals but they make jolly good fun ice cubes that come in gay colors unseen in nature.

I lead a dull life.

Who needs a good slap: Patient X. The current incarnation of The Medical Assistant is a sharp and very caring lady. Patients regularly praise her for her industry. A short while ago, ‘Patient X’ had some difficulties with a prescription filled on time. The Medical Assistant had to deal with a pharmacy problem which she fixed in time with effort but not timely enough for X. X went on the office’s website and gave TMA a ‘one star review” with nasty words of bad she does her job. The Medical Assistant, who is a good person, was quite upset by this. She feels bad everyone who goes to the website will read this.

One a one to five scale, I give ‘Patient X’ four slaps. What X did was uncalled for. I give four slaps to people writing rubbish online who do so out of spite and retaliation for deemed hurts that aren’t the fault of the recipient.

What I’m planning: Making Heavenly Chili. Brother #4 is known for his grilling talents, and he makes a an excellent chili. I asked him to give me the recipe, which he did. What he didn’t do was write down the directions. Although I can pretty much guess what to do I had better check. How on earth am I supposed to get 1lb venison I don’t know. I will probably substitute this with some other ground-up critter. Notice too the black beans. Many believe beans in chili is a sacrilege, but I like them.

What’s making me smile: Vacuum cleaners. Our standup model is back from the repair shop, looking bright and working better than ever. During the waiting period I purchased a hand-held device for those difficult-to-get-to places. I have come in the fourth quarter to win the game against the dog hair and the dust. I survey the floors at La Casa de Spo like an old man watching his immaculate lawn for signs of weeds.

Things are good when things suck.

Todays’ W was chosen as it looks like it was cut from the same cloth as one of my shirts. Yes?

**Both end badly.

I am in a depressives slump and I don’t have anything to say.

I may be away for a few days.

Let’s see how this goes.

Thanks for dropping by.

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April 2022

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