You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2023.

Sometimes when a patient asks for a ‘change in meds’ I look at their chart, thick as a brick, and wonder what on earth to do given all we have done already. I tell the patient to hold on until I do a chart review. This usually involves a weekend afternoon when I reread the chart from beginning to present. As I do this I draw onto a single piece of paper a timeline of what meds were done and what happened, looking for patterns and ‘forks in the road’ where we tried “A” instead of “B”. It’s tedious work but it always gest me to see the forest for the trees and what is the logical next step. It never fails to come up with ideas. I place the paper in the ‘chart review’ folder. I pull them out when a patient with one has an appointment to add to it when changes are made.

I have another folder. When a long time patient with a chart review stops coming in I take the paper out of the ‘active’ folder and put it in the ‘inactive’ one. Sometimes patients disappear for years only to return and I move theirs back into the ‘active’ folder. However the majority of the inactive folder stay there. Some I know why: they have moved away or have died. The majority I don’t know why they didn’t return.

Whenever I open the inactive folder to place or retrieve a review I see the all names of the ones therein and remember them. Of the ones who have died there is no point in holding onto their reviews; they ain’t coming back. However I don’t throw them away. It is like a cemetery that I visit and see their grave stones.

The active patients know I have a chart review but the ones in the inactive file (dead or otherwise) do not. It doesn’t do the deceased any good that I still think about them from time to time. It does me some good I suppose. One of the premises of Jungian psychology is any encounter of the analyst with an analysand causes both to alter. I’ve learned and grown from these interactions. Sometimes I’ve suffered for it. I never know how much (if any) I effected them and their psyches. Some patients have been very trying if not hurtful to me but there were lessons learned and the suffering therefore has some meaning. I feel honored I was part of their lives, even if only for a little while.

In another drawer it a third folder, an older ‘patient cemetery’ of some patients I had back in the 90s when I had a pokey private practice in Chicago. Who knows what happened to them. I know the outcome of one of them: he killed himself. Afterwards his family tried to sue me. I hold onto this one’s chart review somewhat out of a sense of regret of what I could have done. His spirit lives on this way to remind me what I may have done wrong (if anything).

Every once in a while I think to throw out the chart review of the deceased and the ones I know are not coming back. But I hold onto them.

Most of us won’t be remembered past a few generations; it is nice to know someone remembers us for a little while.

Someone is almost done with the taxes. We will probably owe this year, which is a disappointment as I was hoping to get a nice refund to help with the several house projects that need doing. His announcement is ‘bad timing’ as I was hoping to bring up travel and vacation plans for 2023. Other than some trips to MI for Father’s sake I guess these may not happen. He states it shouldn’t be much and we have the money for it. This reminds me The Overlords have asked I go to my account and do withholding for 2023 or they will do so themselves.

Hector, who is Grounds Keeper, stopped by the other day to tidy up. He tends to drop by when he is around the neighborhood. This is OK but he likes being paid in cash, so Someone has to quickly see if we have such on hand. I am glad he showed as the front lawn was weedy, what with recent rains. Our front yard didn’t look too bad compared to the next door neighbor’s yard, which was really weedy, but then he got the matter addressed which made ours look bad by comparison.

Speaking of yardwork, Aaron, who is Pool Master, seems missing in action. I need to text him to find out what’s news and if there’s anything the matter. Not that we are planning on swimming anytime soon.

I plan to go on the dreaded “Nextdoor” app to look for a handyman (or someone like him) to clean up the back porch which is untenable. It would be nice to sit out there in the evening before the spring allergies makes this impossible. After months of neglect the sitting area of the back porch looks like Lily’s bedroom in “The Secret Garden”*. I could do this myself although it would take all weekend to do it, so I want to hire some help – preferably a couple of well-built dudes I can watch in their industry.

There is water damage in The Blue Room which we’ve addressed by closing the door and pretending it isn’t there. This sort of delusion must not continue. Getting someone in to hold an inspection of he ceiling first means tidying the place up, no small task. The Blue Room is a mess looking worse than the back porch if that’s possible.

Did I mention the microwave gave up the ghost? It’s been over a month now. It’s funny how one adapts to having no microwave to warm things. Perhaps the adaptation is going too well for it means we are not aggravated enough to do something about it.

Back porch. Leaky roof. Messy rooms. Microwave momentum mori. Oh the pain. Well that is what spring cleaning is all about, isn’t it?

After the grounds man, pool guy, roof fellow, and porch thralls are done with their manly chores, I turn to the feminine for internal tasks viz. hiring a char to give La Casa de Spo a decent going-over.** I am looking forward to this.

Tell me about your spring cleaning.

*not good.

**Around these parts it is almost impossible to hire a housecleaner whose first name doesn’t end in ‘-ita’. Once upon a time we had a burly bear-type fellow in once a fortnight to tidy up but he’s gone out of business, worse luck.

What’s top of my mind: Travel arrangements. So many people to visit and so little time to do so! Visiting Father remains the priority; I need to get in a few trips including late July while Brother #3 et. al. go on holiday. I have lots of desire to travel, mostly to visits chums many whom are well over four feet. Here’s some places to go and people to see:

A couple of conferences – hopefully in towns where I can meet up with people (Penguin and Hamster; Raven and Vic/Jeff; Tim and Larry – to name a few):

Santa Fe for the opera and Utah for the Shakespeare festival.

Chicago for a fundraiser and see The Personal Financier (who is also well over four feet).

Palm Springs again to see Fearsome Beard and anyone else who wants to show.

Getting any trips accomplished will that some effort and now is the time to do so.

Where I’ve been: Beating about the bush. The backyard has two rawther large bushes of ? species that have become messy and overrunning the sidewalk, so a few weeks ago on Sundays I started hacking away at them. There is a lot of dead branches too, which I am slowly pruning. The bushes are looking less shaggy but also are a fraction of their original size. There is a part of me that thinks it best to prune them way back and let’em start from scratch. It feels pleasant to be doing some gardening again.

Where I’m going:  The Princess Bride. The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra occasionally does a gimmick where they show a movie while the orchestra plays the music. This Friday they are doing ‘The princess bride”. I have never seen this movie. For usual concerts The PSO is lucky to get an auditorium that half full but this show is sold out for all three shows. I am just as curious to see who is the audience. I hear tell thems who like this movie are quite devoted, like Rocky Horror picture show fanatics.

Have you seen this movie?

What I’m watching: Great Expectations – maybe. I am a big fan of Charles D, so I was eager to see the latest rendition of “Great Expectations” on Hulu. I reread the book last year so the story was fresh in my mind. Oh the horror. Thems in charge of this version are taking great liberties with the characters, adding all sorts of shenanigans not in the book. In this production Pip’s sister is a dominatrix and Miss Havisham is an opium addict and a panderer. It feels like the director thinks the story itself won’t hold attention unless he makes it somewhat lurid. I kept commenting out loud ‘that’s not in the book’ enough for Someone to question our continuation of watching it and he’s not wrong. I may see one more chapter before pulling the plug.

What I’m reading: Old science fiction. On the ‘to-read’ shelf for many years is a used 1950s paperback of science fiction. Whenever I open a book I stick my nose into it for a whiff. This one elicited an an instant euphoria of memory before my frontal lobes connected the dots what it was. I purchased this one in an used bookstore in Key West FL – how many years ago I wonder? The smell brought back memories of the dusty slightly damp bookstore and all that was Key West in its glory. In side the book in red ink is the bookstore’s bookmark with its address on Truman St. So far the book isn’t very good, in fact it’s a bit cheesy and dated – real 50s stuff, but the touch and smell of the thing is remarkable and marvelous to me.

What I’m listening to:  St. Clements choir. During the Lenten season I listen to more quiet/spiritual music. St. Clements Choir does a fine job with Old Dead Nuns tunes:

What I’m eating: KFC. Sometimes we go to Uncle Albertsons for ‘chicken and sides’ but Someone has been lately disappointed with him as when we do go we get the dried remnants. The other day he proposed he go get a bucket of chicken at KFC. Patience above! We haven’t had KFC in so long I don’t remember when. He came home with enough chicken and sides to feed us for several days. I thought the chicken sort of tasteless and the coating soggy. Was KFC better in my youth I wonder, or have I grown picky in age?

Who needs a good slap: Whoever ate all the sweets in the office candy dish. Every so often I buy a bag of sweets for the candy dish located at the check-out window at the PHX office. On Monday last I brought in a bag of milk chocolate eggs, individually wrapped in pastel colored foil. By noon the whole bag was nearly gone; only a few remained. This is a puzzle as I only a few folks at most actually came to the office that morning. I suspect one of the patients went away with more than the implied ‘one per customer” portion.

On my 1-5 scale, I give the greedy-guts one slap.

Who gets a fist bump: Mr. Bezos’ minions. The evil empire that is Amazon has its faults but sometimes I am most grateful they are there. Last weekend I brought home the office coffee pot to wash (as is my wont) but I broke it (which is not my wont). Asking The House Manager to replace it through the proper channels would take time and that means no coffee at the PHX office for awhile. The howl of sharpened famine for this loss echoes through the kingdom of hell down to the very throne itself. I wrote Mr. Bezos on Saturday to send me a replacement pot and lo! it was there on my doorstep by Sunday afternoon. At work no one is the wiser.

What I’m planning:  A freezer cleanse. There are several Tupperware containers of ‘mystery items’. I am taking them out one at a time to thaw in the fridge for a look-see. What’s coming out of the deep freeze isn’t looking that appetizing so it is all going down the disposal. It’s a waste of time and effort. At least it frees up space in the freezer and some Tupperware containers. Next time something goes in it gets a label and used in a timely manner.

What’s making me smile: My industry. I used to write in my journal only on the days I thought there was something noteworthy to record. In these past few years since covid times, there is often hardly anything to write, which makes for thin journals. It’s sort of bleak looking. I decided to write something, anything on a daily basis even if it is just my thoughts. According to the “Way of Life” app today I hit 500 days in a row for writing. Good for me! The contents aren’t often much, but I’ve done it.

#45: Text to say thank you.

Saying thank you was drilled into our collective cerebrums when we were children- along with saying please. Mother make it to say thank you came as natural as breathing. The response to ‘thank you’ is ‘you’re welcome’ and we’re done.*

Texting a thank you isn’t as good as a phone call or a face-to-face type, but it is better than none. The words ‘thank you’ suffice, although I like to add a short explanation for what I am thankful. Examples: Thank you for doing that job; thank you for getting back to me; thank you for rolling down the grass hill the other day – that sort of thing.

Besides showing manners and to convey you were not raised wrong, saying thank you is a means to communicate that the conversation has ended. I find texting a bit frustrating as sometimes these conversations come to an end without concrete closure. I am waiting for the other to return the ball and there isn’t any. I wish there was a term or an emoji = this ends the conversation. Thank you and goodbye is good enough so perhaps we don’t need one.**

Saying thank you (text or otherwise) doesn’t directly improve your life but it slightly improves the lives of others – maybe more than slightly. Studies again and again show simple acts of kindness that seem mawkish do a heck of a lot of good. Acknowledging another with a thank you goes a long way.

Thank you for reading this.

*I show my age here. ‘You’re welcome’ is the proper response to thank you for my generation. Younger ones are using ‘no problem’ more and more and it rankles. One could argue communicating that something wasn’t a big deal to do makes more sense than the implied you were welcome to do something in the first place. These are phatic expressions and they change in time. With all that said, whenever I hear ‘no problem’ I want to slap the kid.

**There is a Japanese emoji that may serve. It is red and the character is quite busy looking. It means ‘full’ like a hotel or a parking lot, but also means full as in satiated. Sending it as a summary could mean “thank you but I’m satisfied with this interaction, so I will sign off now” followed by the receiver sending similar. Groovy, no?

I haven’t done one of these in a long while, so I thought I would give it a go…….

What makes these curious things about the house noteworthy isn’t their peculiarity or rarity but why on earth are they here? The answer is simple: I keep thinking they are going to be useful someday and to throw out things rankles my Midwest upbringing to hold onto perfectly good things. Mind! I am doing on my daily throw something out quest. I am doing very well with this thank you very much. I’ve managed to get rid of the ‘useless objects” but the ‘useful objects’ remain and these can be ticklish. Let’s look at some of them shall we; hopefully you will be amused.

Paper napkins. Every time I order ‘to-go’ items they come with enough paper napkins to wipe the faces of a large family. I use maybe one or two, and the other 5-10 napkins I put in away for later use. As a consequence, one cannot open a drawer or glove compartment or a briefcase without finding 2-3 inches-thick wads of brown or white paper napkins. They are like tribbles minus their charms, and like tribbles they keep coming. Once in a while there is a spill and they come in handy, but this doesn’t happen very often so I have enough paper to mop up a major meltdown. I probably should gather them all up in a wheelbarrow and toss them out. It’s not that I will miss them; more are coming in all the time.

Kitchen gadgets. I like the Kundo-concept of keeping things around if they are practical or lovely.* This doesn’t easily work for the contents of kitchen drawers which are full up with gadgets. Often they are in good shape, having not been used much – or at all. Sometimes I don’t know how they got there. The pineapple corer, the potato scrub brush (its handle in the form of a potato), the shrimp deveiner (looking slightly scurrilous) ought to be packed up to Goodwill or some place like it. Someone points out they are doing no harm being there so why discard them? They could be handy some day – and this is coming from a man allergic to shrimp! No harm I suppose other than the sight of several sets of unused martini olive skewers causes psychological harm to see them. Oh the horror.

Garden tools. When we moved from Michigan to Arizona I could not abide the thought of leaving behind all my garden tools even thought I intuitively knew they weren’t going to be useful in the desert. For twenty years they have sat in the garage, waiting for Godot or someone like him. This includes plastic tomato tents and other frost-protecting devices to allow gardens to grow earlier than the last frost. I suppose I hold onto them on the long shot of living to retirement and moving away from Zone 10 to Zone 5 (or someplace like it) and they can be useful again. The cost of schlepping them probably is more than just buying new things as needed. I managed to let go of the snow shovel a few years ago, although I’ve kept the wind-shield ice scraper and the pea cage (which no one in their right mind would try to grow here).

Knickknacks. The majority of useless things about the house fall into the common category of ‘knickknacks’. This vague but menacing category consists of things that aren’t rubbish nor broken but sort of there – sometimes for so long no one remembers how they got there in the first place. They are sometimes remembered as souvenirs from long ago trips or gifts from people so out of touch you wonder what happened to them. Like the pineapple corer, these don’t do any harm other than clutter up the counters and make the task of dusting more difficult. It feels wrong to throw them out yet I don’t see anyone buying them at Goodwill either.** They stay up out of habit and custom and probably will do so until I die and someone gets rid of them as they have no sentimental value then.

Oh to be living in Chicago! Then, anything put into the alley by the rubbish bin was quickly taken up by someone and Bob’s your uncle. I often wondered what the pickers did with it all but I was grateful they did and all power to them to sell them off.

I think I will start with the paper napkins. These at can go into the paper recycling bins as work. I think this counts as paper, yes?

So, what curious useless things are squatting in your maison nowadays?

*Spouses are exception.

**No harm trying. I could box them up and surreptitiously drop them off on Mr. Goodwill’s doorstep late at night. They probably have video cameras for such shenanigans too.

Happy Joy! My innards have calmed down and I am no longer coughing! I am healed – temporality. It’s a bummer to consider I am turning into one of those old types who seems to go from ailment to ailment. Just as the temperatures are rising becoming warm enough to open the windows so rises the pollen count. Allergy season is right around the corner; by May they can be quite nasty.

I woke up the other day to announce to the bed fellows I am going to buy new pillows. I expected at least one of them, the two-footed one, to question the purchase but he said fine.* There are two sets of two pillows per person: a regular-shaped and a longer thinner one. Both are old and putting ones head onto them implodes them that it feels like no pillow at all. I like a pillow firm, plump, and bounces back – like my men. I brought from The Dragon Room one of the pillows from the guest bed, but it’s not much better. Three pillows sort of make one fair-at-best pillow. For some time I’ve been annoyed at the past-their-prime pillows and the rancor is causing insomnia. So it was off to Blood Bath and Beyond I went to get new ones. Alas, Babylon, BBB has gone belly up so I thought to go to Target and have a look-see. I looked for the firmest pillow possible – a block of wood if they had any – and I found one that barely gave as I pressed down on it. I bought two of them.** They are quite plump and hardly fit in the pillow cases but I get them in. Happy Joy! It feels like I have a proper pillow now. I may go back to replace those long thinner ones.

Last weekend I set up a Spo-shirt giveaway. There were twenty-one names to choose from. The winner is Jon P. from Facebook. Congratulations Jonathon! He’s pleased as Punch as by coincidence 26 March is his birthday. I regret I wasn’t able to give everyone in the draw the shirt. There will be other shirts in time.

The Saturday office picnic was canceled. Apparently there weren’t enough who RSVPed to make it so. It seems sad, a bit of a disappointment even. It seems it gets harder all the time for people to get-together; everyone has previous engagements. Who knows if there will be another attempt. I took the found opportunity to take a nap – for two hours. I have never napped that long. Apparently it was what the body wanted vetoing the brain who wanted to do all sorts of things.

Today I will have a shave and a trim, something I haven’t done in a week – I could not find the shaving gel. It was located under Someone’s vanity. My whiskers will be trimmed and the scruff on my neck removed – and good thing too as I am beginning to look like a crazed-sterno bum. I recently saw Nephew #1 on a video chat and he’s sporting some whiskers, joining most of the menfolk in my family who sport such. Mother never liked beards, and I don’t ever remember Father sporting any.

Today I iron some shirts and finish my homework and perhaps take another nap. I’ve tasted sleep and I want more. I will do rounds on the blogs this evening and call it a day.

*The other one, the four-footer, didn’t say anything.

**The pillows cost 35 dollars each. I gave my two to the cashier who told me the total came to 35 dollars. I asked if there was a two-for-one sale? The total ought to be 70 dollars. He checked and yes he had made a mistake. He then paused to look at me and asked me if I was Dr. Spo? (I was wearing a mask). I think he was an ex-patient but standing in line I wasn’t going to ask how I knew him. He rang up the revised total and said “not only are you a good doctor, you’re an honest one”. That was nice, given the fellow behind me in line was looking at me as if I was a jackass to not accept the 35 dollar charge and scram before the cashier realized his error.

Note: this one came to mind as I was daydreaming driving to work, going 60mph in far right lane in a 65mph zone, being passed by everyone. Spo

“They drive like an old woman” is an expression I heard Father say when I was a boy. It was said while driving, about certain drivers who were not old women per se but were allegedly driving like one. He never criticized any one for ‘driving like an old man’ – possibly because there weren’t any old man drivers around, having all dropped before they got to the age to be considered ‘elderly drivers”. I can’t exactly remember what he meant by this careful comment. How does one drive ‘like an old woman”? It wasn’t about driving recklessly. It was about driving cautiously viz. a slow careful driver going no more than the speed limit or perhaps just under it. They also made slow stops and at the stop signs a few second pauses to look all ways at least twice before slowly pulling into the intersection. They were seldom on the freeway but when they were they were always in the far right lane, driving carefully while the rest of traffic whizzed by them as if they were standing still.

“Driving like an old woman” I am certain was not a compliment. Father was not an aggressive driver but compared to thems ‘driving like an old woman’ he was a demon on wheels. He got impatient but never angry or verbally abusive. I think the critique was on the notion driving slow or too careful was more problematic and/or dangerous than someone driving ‘like that rest of us’. I remember as a boy thinking ‘driving like an old woman’ made good sense to avoid accidents. After all didn’t they emphasize in driver’s education to make full stops and not go over the speed limit, so what’s wrong with that? I was never an aggressive driver.

I bring up this disparaging label from the 60s as today while driving to work I realized I drive like an old woman. I am that person in the right far lane going the speed limit as everyone in the world is whizzing past me. Often people going 15-20mph over the speed limit zoom up behind me, flash their lights, and angrily drive around me/pass me and continue going in the far right lane at 80mph (in a 65mph speed zone). People in Phoenix drive like demons on wheels and I want no part of it. Driving a tad slower is not only safer, but it saves on gas. I often wonder how much thems in Range Rovers pay for petrol in these 90mph-going gas guzzlers.

I can’t vouch for the little old lady drivers (or folks like them) of yesteryear their motives for driving as they did, but I know mine. I am not a ‘scared’ driver, nor do I drive careful due to losing my wits (yet) . I just don’t give a toot about getting there as fast as possible or showing another up in traffic/damned if I am going to let YOU in. Let the world whiz by me. Often the Jehus will storm past me and when I arrive at the red light later there they are waiting now with me. I sometimes wave a hello which is seldom appreciated.

“Driving like an old woman” isn’t a nice label, although the names Someone gives such drivers are far less charitable. We can call folks like myself “driving like a Spo’: folks not too focused, not too fast, but not a problem other than you have to swerve around us types if you insist on going 25mph over the speed limit in the far right lane and see if I care. See you at the red light.

Do you drive like an old woman? Do you drive like a demon on wheels?

God gave us fingers–Ma says, “Use your fork.”
God gave us voices–Ma says, “Don’t scream.”
Ma says eat broccoli, cereal and carrots.
But God gave us tasteys for maple ice cream.

One of the main ‘chief complaints’ I hear from patients isn’t depression or anxiety or mood swings, it is low motivation. People remonstrate they have no motivation to do something they know they should or want to do. Related to low motivation is the complain of ‘lacking willpower’. This means they have a modicum of motivation to do something but aren’t doing it. This usually is about being more virtuous: eating better; exercising; quitting a bad habit like smoking or eating nasty chips. The lack of motivation is often felt to be from depression while the lack of willpower is supposedly coming from a ‘failure of character’.

When low motivation is happening, the first task is to find any context: is it part of a depression or a hormonal problem or a physical matter?. If so, treat the condition and hopefully the low motivation improves.

The ‘lack of willpower’ requires more education than treatment. Patients often hope I will give them some sort of ‘pep pill’ to create motivation to clean that closet or do their taxes or assist them to stop eating late at night or buying things they don’t really need. Alas, medications don’t work for this, much to everyone’s disappointment.

These patients don’t like insight – they know eating right or exercise and paying bills are ‘good’. They sometimes joke their intellect is at war (and losing) to something else – and they aren’t wrong. We are animals; all (?) living entities have evolved to avoid pain and go for the goodies like high-caloric foods. Humans developed higher functions like reason and insight and the ability to accessorize but Mother Nature forgot to erase the more primitive drives still programmed in the lower parts of the brain.*

I educate their avoidance of a messy house or taxes is understandable. We are wired to avoid doing things dreary, tedious and painful (like my men). On the flip side, we are wired to for the high-calorie crunchies. It’s not our fault we no longer are out in the wilderness eating as much as we can when something substantive comes our way. There were no bags of nasty chips or barrels of ice cream on the African savannah. I thought of this the other day when I foolishly looked into the candy dish in the home office. Patience above! Therein were some gummi bears. A minute ago I wasn’t thinking of such nor was I peckish. Seeing these lovelies set off several autonomic nerve systems that all sang out hallelujah! and zip the sweeties were gone, eaten with relish – even as my upper brain shouted out should statements of shame. Oh the horror.

So, what to do about the conflict between the upper and lower parts of our noggins? Being a Jungian I like to use archetypal images. “Shadow” energy should not be denied or exorcised; to do the former bites you in the butt and to try the later is not going to work. You are both St. Gallus and The Bear. The bear in you always goes for the sweets and runs away (or hibernates) to avoid work or pain. It is up to your saintly part to put up impediments so the bear in your doesn’t have easy access to the sweets. For example, the candy bowl in my office was ‘right there” and had no barriers for me getting at them. About a month ago, they were in the freezer, underneath brown parcels of frozen meat. If I had a hankering for candy I would have to get up and go to the freezer, remove the parcels, take out the candy, and let them thaw. These steps are enough for Gallus to win and the bear (who is lazy) not to. It was foolish of me to have moved them.**

Another impediment is NOT TO HAVE IT IN THE HOUSE IN THE FIRST PLACE. If I buy bags of nasty chips or boxes of crackers, dammit they are going to get eaten, St. Gallus can go jump in the lake. At Uncle Albertsons he, not the bear, makes the grocery list. Time sucking apps are eliminated from the phone, or put into files in the back with extra passwords making them hard to get to and open – or eliminated from the phone all together. Vanity sometimes is useful to get things done. I told Someone I want to weigh myself every Wednesday and please ask me each week did I do so. If I had a spending problem I would ask him to hold onto the credit cards and give me so much money per week (or day) and no more. I also have an app “Way of Life” that lights up a cheerful green for each day record I do my stretches, floss, and read something. It puts up a bloody red light and a nasty sound when I don’t. While this isn’t 100%, these goals are sure better than when I wasn’t recording them.

Those are about thwarting immediate pleasures; what about attending to tasks tedious or painful? I have mentioned these before. First we acknowledge people avoid doing something because it’s boring or painful or of no immediate consequence. Don’t look at the forest but at the first tree before you. The goal of ‘do my taxes’ or ‘clean out the office” should be broken down into a small, short step done daily (preferably at the same time) for 5 minutes. If you find ‘the ball is rolling’ keep going. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Get someone to assist or hold you accountable. We are more likely to do something if there is a direct quickly associated consequence. Not cleaning the room means only the room remains so and you feel bad. Not cleaning the room -and having your spouse post it on Facebook or donates a dollar to the Ron DeSantis for president fundraiser is something else.

I point out Bear Tamer/Bear dichotomy feels like Bear is in charge and unbeatable but he is not. St. Gallus wins in the end when we give him assistance. Motivation and so-called will power – or lack there of – are out of the equation irrelevant to doing the task at hand.

*Mostly in the brain stem, near the parts that keep us breathing and the heart beating, to show you how ingrained longing for food is.

**I don’t remember doing this. I must have unconsciously acted out or put them in the bowl to thaw and happily forgot I did so.

What’s top of my mind: My digestive system. Monday night was a hellish endeavor of upper and lower turmoil for which I am slowly recovering. I still don’t know what happened. The most likely explanation is food poisoning – but what? Someone wasn’t sick, so it wasn’t the tuna casserole. I suspect it was the salmon/rice lunch on Monday brought in by the pharm rep – maybe. I hope it was food poisoning as that is nasty but temporary.

Where I’ve been: Back to the gym. After a week of a cold/cough and another week away on holiday it felt good to be back in the gym lifting things and trying to look less dumpy. Alas, Babylon, I only got in two days before my GI system put this on hold – again. The Personal Trainer wants me to be regular, but Life continually puts up impediments. It’s like a curse. I hope by tomorrow I can return. I am doing a few odd-looking exercises (such as The Bird Dog) that must look comical from a distance. Happily no one is looking at me, so I am never embarrassed.

Where I’m going:  An office picnic. My workplace is having a picnic this weekend; this is the first office get-together in many years. There used to be annual holiday parties but that stopped during covid times. Where I work people are not ‘chummy’ or social; they work individually and keep their own hours. I am curious to see how this goes, for in a social event like a picnic the usual work boundaries and hierarchies become blurred and leads to awkwardness. Some staff I never see as they work in different setting/hours than myself. I will look a fool not knowing who they are. I don’t plan on faking it. I will ask for names directly.

What I’m watching: Payette Forward. On the Tube of Yous are a couple of fellows, both named David (each one cuter than the other) post videos about cellphone settings and safety. They provide tips on what to turn off and on to stop miscreants and nosies from following you around or using your data (without you knowing it) for sale. It gives me a smug satisfaction to turn off these options. Here is a sample:

What I’m reading:  Whisky Advocate. Patience above! I brought the latest issues to Palm Springs but I failed to read them. For thems unfamiliar with the magazine, it is a colorful magazine about .. wait for it…. whisky! I am always amazed at the prices of some of the bottles. Mostly I read it for the ads, which are always stunning and give suggestions what to try sometime. There is a humor column in the back; I always read that first.

What I’m listening to:  Pink Martini. I went last Friday to a splendid concert by a group called ‘Pink Martini’. What marvelous music! I was impressed the band sang in so many languages. The Tube of Yous (the meanies) wouldn’t let me link to some songs, so here are some names of tunes I especially liked. Look them up why don’t you?

Donde estas, Yolanda? Ou est ma tete? Amado Mio And then your’s gone

What I’m eating: Precious little. When I get sick I don’t want to eat or drink anything. This drives Someone nuts, who feels I should push fluids and eat. We aren’t good a caretaking each other when we are sick; neither one wants to follow the directions or advice of the other.

Who needs a good slap: The ad generator on The Book of Faces. FB is becoming less posts and more ads – phooey to that. Curiously the ads are all alike these days: young men modeling sexy pants and shirts or T-shirts. Sooner I’d eat rats in Tewkesbury than buy something off of FB, but what AI device thinks I am interested in trousers designed for a 20yo? I suppose I can click on the ad and tell them ‘no more’ but I think this may cause more harm than good. On the other hand the lads jumping about in their tight jeans or camisetas isn’t awful-looking. All the same I am there to hear from my friends, not see ads.

On my 1-5 scale I give FB two slaps.

What I’m planning: A trip to Chicago. DougT has a ‘butterfly ball’ every May. He plans to retire soon, so this will be his ‘last’, and he asked us to join his table. We will stay downtown with The Other Michael, who is a dear to host us. While in town we will meet with our ML fellow, Mr. Mahoney, to hear what he has to say about our savings and investments.*

What’s making me smile:  Craig the IT man. The computer/technology fellow at work is a interesting fellow, well over four week. He is what is referred to as a ‘bear’, and quite the handsome chappie. He seems just right for working with computers as he comes to life in front of a computer and not so good with phatic interactions or social skills. I thought he had gone, as I haven’t seen him in years. Lo! He was in the other day doing something. Whatever he was doing didn’t go well in my office for my office computer no longer can sign on to the internet, worse luck. Taking the ‘good’ approach, this means Mr. Craig will have to visit more until it is repaired.

*No good that’s certain.

Note: this is a short one, not very well written. Last night I developed a very nasty combination of bilious vomiting and explosive diarrhea – often at the same time. Oh the horror. I don’t know what this is. If I didn’t know any better I would say I have cholera. Someone isn’t effected, so it isn’t a case of at-home food poisoning. I called in sick this morning, which is something I don’t do. It’s not so much the malaise but fear of being too far from the loo. On the positive, I am home. It’s raining today; Harper is asleep on the bed. I am having some salubrious tea (English Breakfast, no rubbish). It gives me time to read – and write this entry. Spo

#44: Try taking a cold shower (30 seconds to two minutes) before your hot one. It’s good for your health – both physical and mental.

I have long heard about so-called salubrious benefits of cold showers but no one seems to quote the sources or the studies as to how and why this is so. Hot showers are bad on the skin, that I know; in winter time the heat of the hot water dries mine to the point of painful itching. That ain’t good.

Cold showers do not provide mental health for Urs Truly. In the bleak midwinter the last thing I want is a cold shower. The exception is the summer months; then a cold shower is quite refreshing but not too cold thank you. Taking a cold shower prior to a hot one is guaranteed where I live. The pipes at La Casa de Spo are queer things even in the ardent heat of summer they take a few minutes to deliver the hot water to the shower. I get around this by turning on the faucet first, then disrobe to give it time to ‘warm up’ as it were.

Water temperatures in general never seems to be just right for me. Even the cement pond in the backyard is never quite right. It’s not heated and it doesn’t respond quickly to weather conditions. The air may be above 90F yet the water feels like Lake Michigan in March. By July the overhead sun has baked the pool to the temperature of bathwater, making it unrefreshing. At day’s end in July it is more pleasant to take that slightly cool shower.

I’m home today as mentioned with little ability to do anything, so I may poke about on the W.W.W. and see if there really are any benefits for cold showers – and how much. I remember as a boy being asked to write a list of five best things in life. One of them was hot water – to bathe and to make drinks.*This sounds much better for my health than standing under a cold shower, teeth chattering, wondering what on earth am I doing this for.

Do you take cold showers?

I suppose cold showers are better when taken with another warm body to help you through it, yes?

*Spo fans may ask what were the other things. I remember they were:

Hot water


A back scratch

A beautiful sunset

And I don’t remember the last one. Hey I was ten at the time.

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March 2023

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018