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Yesterday morning at work the (female) staff called me to the waiting room. They were sorely vexed; they wanted me to come as soon as possible. I figured someone in the lobby was having a medical emergency. It turned out to be a cockroach as big as a Buick. I was being called upon to kill it. Gregor Samsa was not cooperating in a quick but painful death but kept flying and racing about. My combat skills were marred by the ladies in the waiting room  who added to the donnybrook a chorus of shrieks and advice. Eventually GS came to a boom-squish ending and I was seen as the hero.

It made me recall a time when I was leading a psychotherapy group in which the members began discussing gender roles. Someone asked if there anything anymore that is gender specific no matter how enlightened we are. A woman raised her hand and said “It’s the man’s job to kill the bug”.

Despite living in the 21st century, one does not have to scratch deep to find the Archaic. The killing of bugs indeed seems to be the man’s job – as is changing the flat tire. I can’t imagine any man allowing his good Lady wife to change the flat tire along the highway while he stands idly nearby while the cars roll by and see this spectacle. Talk about the influence of Public Opinion! Another ingrained ‘man’s job’ I don’t see going out of fashion time anytime soon is the notion of ‘women and children first’ in a disaster.

It gets down to the ‘reality’ the man is more expendable than the woman; after he’s sired some kids he’s more or less useless unless there is danger, whether from sinking ships or fetid 3 inch long cockroaches.

Men can take some comfort knowing at times of dirty work they are still wanted – nay, required – to rise to the occasion and save the day.


When I was a boy one of my favorite games was “Masterpiece”. It was a board game based upon the same principles as ‘Monopoly’. The difference is  in this one you buy paintings instead of houses and hotels.  There were twenty-four paintings in total. After countless plays I grew quite familiar found of them, although I never learned all their titles. Later in life I realized they all reside The Art Institute of Chicago. * I don’t know if the game was purposely trying to get one to ‘appreciate art” but it worked for me.  Thanks to ‘Masterpiece’ I developed a lifelong appreciation of art museums. I still enjoy learning about art, especially of which I am not familiar.

I recently did on-line research to locate the twenty-four paintings to (finally learn their names and their painters.

Just for the fun of it, I present to you some of the paintings from Masterpiece – along with docent narratives I made at ten years old. I hope I don’t give Laurent chest pains.


This painting is titled “Madame Green Face”.  There is a lot of ugly people in this painting but it’s so cool. 


This guy doesn’t know how to paint portraits it’s all jumbles.


I could do this one.


And this one too but it’s prettier.


This is real painting. I don’t know why people don’t paint stuff like this anymore.


This is soooo cool! I just love it!


We have something like this hanging at home in our living room. Mother says it is a ‘Monet’. I think Monet is French for the style of painting which is dabbing and not drawing straight lines. I was disappointed to find out our Monet isn’t real but a copy. I think I will get Mother a real Monet for Christmas this year. 


How did the food stop from going bad ? I guess the painter had to paint real quick. 


This one was painted by a woman! I didn’t know they had women painters!


People painted different back then.


This one looks like a photograph.


We have a picture of John the Baptist too, but ours got more trimmings.


This one is another way cool awesome painting although it looks scary too.


Landscapes are boring.


*Oh to go back to Chicago and spend an day at the AIC in a scavenger hunt to see all 24 in real life ! Yes I must do this and soon.

Here is a little list of impossible matters. Despite time and trial I can’t do them.  Some are embarrassments; most are mere resignations of matters never to be.  I’m sure certain Spo-fans will write telling me to ‘keep trying’ but alas it is feckless.  


Operate the TV entertainment system.

Throw a ball.

Understand ‘violence as entertainment”. 

See a spider without going into hysterics. 

Make a decent onion soup. 

Remember the difference between Linda Ronstadt and Pat Benatar. 

Hit a high C. 

Roll my tongue.

Eat rats a Tewkesbury 

Eat just one potato chip

Eat in peace without Harper begging for something. 

Properly spell without spell-check < chandelier; medieval; calendar; prejudice.

Sit through Die Walkure without falling asleep at least once. 

Vote Republican.

Drink coconut-based cocktails.

Remember where I last put my keys.

Smoke more than one cigar at a time.

Go fifteen minutes without checking my cellphone.

Finish reading “Stranger in strange land” 

Remember the day Brother #4’s birthday. 

Feel it isn’t my fault when I don’t hear from someone in a long while. 

Drive a stick-shift.

Sit still.

Understand the rules of football. 

Remember who won of The Thirty Years War. 

Listen to “Don’t Stop Believing”.


While I have scores of relations, Someone has only one, his niece. When we lived in the Midwest we saw her at times; I tried to keep a rapport for Someone’s sake. I liked her and she seemed to like us.  She now lives in WI with her conservative father. Overall the decades she has grown more conservative in her views, adopting the dogma of that branch politics. She frequently does sequacious Facebook posts, the usual diatribes about pro-gun/anti-abortion/pro-Trump matters. When she does one of these I just don’t comment. When she posts something about herself I ‘like’ it to keep in touch, for I want to keep some sort of contact.

Recently she posted a link about the fellow who recently won a case to refuse making a wedding cake for a male couple.  The posted video was how glorious this is for the (so-called) Christian being upheld his religious rights not to do business with the depraved and immoral couple. Shocked, I wrote the comment ‘I wonder what you feel about Someone and I”.  She didn’t write a personal reply but posted something that looks copied/pasted from somewhere along the line homosexuality is a sin up there with sorcery but Jesus saves sinners if they repent. She ended with she loved us; she didn’t say she is changing her views on the supreme court decision.  

Someone and I waited a day until our emotions subsided so we wouldn’t make rash decisions, but we decided to unfriend her. Someone went so far as to block her.

This is my first time ever cutting off contact with a relation.

I’ve always believed it is better to stay in touch with thems who disagree with me than walk away. If I kissed off all the people with whom I had friction I wouldn’t have anyone left. It is better to be a living example of someone/thing somebody disagrees with, so they have a human side of their opposition. Dialogue is better than none.  Martin Luther did a terrible thing in my opinion with his decision what to do with thems he disagreed with his opponents: he labeled them anti-Christ. You don’t dialogue with the anti-Christ; you don’t think they have some things wrong and some right. Rather, you cut them off as degenerate beyond redemption, something to shun.  

The decision to block Someone’s niece was not a happy feeling. It saddens me to see Someone lose his only relation. All the same, if she can’t see how that couple ‘could have been us”,  if she sees our relationship as sin and depravity I can’t see how she still ‘loves us’. I don’t buy the ‘love the sinner/hate the sin’ argument.  I think this is a self-delusion to pretend hatred is alright. In psychology this is called ‘splitting of affect’ and it is not a healthy thing. 

What really saddens me we live in a country where hatred and discrimination are cloaked in religious rationale. It fills me with despair to see how this is becoming more and more the norm. 

In my decision to block the niece I feel I’ve failed at being patient and forgiving. I feel angry and bitter. 
No matter how tough I think I am getting, it still hurts. 

thTwice now I’ve started scribbling out entries in-between the ‘no-shows’ at work. Alas, I forget to upload them, thus making them unreachable later one when I am at home. One is on my changing attitude towards learning Spanish, and the other is a treatise on my bad eating habits. In hindsight I may have unconsciously acted out I am tired of talking about myself. Blogs are supposed to be first and foremost an on-line journal of contemplations (hence my blog’s title) but hey I like  Spo-fans. This Thursday morning I am back at work (at the Mesa office) with a half-hour to go before starting time. Rather than doing some ‘prior-auths’ I thought to write something – anything. Alas! The Muses are quiet and the Skanks all have hangovers – no help there. The Fates are away no doubt planning some outrage. Nothing to be done. This leaves me with nothing upon which to write other than what may be right in front of my eyes – which is a bottle of PowerAde Zero.

Thems unfamiliar with Powerade this is an alternative to Gatorade. Coke makes one and Pepsi makes the other – don’t ask me which is which. I don’t drink either on a regular basis, but I drink Gatorade when sick as it makes a relatively cheap “IV fluid”. About a month ago I pointed out to Someone Powerade is sugar-free and probably less inimical to our health than sugary G. He’s not one to drink water, preferring diet sodas.  I came from a medical school where pushing fluids was the panacea of all ills, so I worry about keeping us hydrated in the hot Phoenix summers. Now we have bottles for days. They seem to be everywhere around the house, usually in half-consumed bottles or in tall glasses loaded with ice. On the positive we are drinking more fluids. On the negative I wonder if we are doing ourselves injury consuming all these artificial colours and substitute sugars.  I confess the bottles are pretty, and they turn my tongue fun colors. Sometimes out of whimsy Someone adds some soda pop to them, while I prefer a jigger of snort (vodka or rum).  I suppose that defeats the purpose but it does add some zest.

By the way, I can never remember the word “Powerade” so I call the stuff “Prempro”. This isn’t nice but there it is.

Tomorrow I am back to the Phoenix office and promise to put up a proper post.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections was pleased as Punch at the number of comments on my last entry.  In their most recent telegram they suggested I get sick again real soon and add if possible a brush with mortality.  They are sincere as they sent along with their  “get sick soon” correspondence a flea-bitten dead rat.  The dears. 

Someone surprised me yesterday with a phone call the other day. He only calls to ‘discuss business’ when texting isn’t good enough. He had a modest proposal: we have a free weekend at the end of the month so why don’t we take an impromptu holiday. We could drive to Lake Havasu, AZ and go see London Bridge, which is something I have long wanted to do. My first thought was to ask if he was joking but I thought better not look a gift horse in the mouth and my heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. 

I can’t remember when we last had an impromptu trip to anywhere – it may be we have never had one.  Our getaways are always planned way in advance and nothing is left to chance. Where we stay and what we do/where we eat are prepared ahead of time;  nothing is left to chance. I’ve longed to just ‘wing it’ viz. get into the car and drive –  drive anywhere, and when we get tired start looking for The Three Fates hotel.  How lovely. 

I am fairly certain we (Someone) will research the route, the hotel, and the restaurants and I will look into the sights and the history or the place. All the same, just knowing we did something on a sudden whim is heartwarming.  Perhaps there I will something impromptu like jump off London Bridge provided I am not going to be arrested and have a impromptu albeit disagreeable journey to the local jail and what not. 


sick-bearI’m wiped out by a bug. At first I thought my symptoms were merely a combination of aches/pains after a strenuous work out combined with sedation from an allergy pill. Then I developed some chills – in 40C! My bowels turned to water. I knew I was sick. I went home from work at noon and slept seven hours straight.* No fun this.

Being sick at home sounds quaint when one is healthy. I can skip work, sit still, and catch up with my reading, all the time sipping hot lovely drinks. The reality of illness is there is nothing nice about it. It is pure misery – at least for me. I don’t do sickness well.

When I am sick my appetite goes away. Not only am I not hungry the mere notion of eating anything feels nauseating. I’ve had enough sickness in life to know not eating for a few days doesn’t kill or do permanent damage (no real weight loss either, more’s the pity). Someone’s bedside manner is not the sweet type but the no-nonsense approach. He tries to get me to eat something, I decline, he gets frustrated, and that’s that.  I am a typical Cancer that I am a giant black hole of endless emotional need made worse when I am sick.  Cancers believe they shouldn’t have to tell you what they need because if you really loved me/care for me etc. you would know what to do and to ask for it somehow diminishes the value.  His oh-so-sensible Sagittarian approach ‘Tell me what you want’ falls flat.

Normally a neat person, it seems everything quickly goes to pot in an illness. This morning I woke to a disarray of half consumed cups and everything out of place. Having tossed and turned all night the bedspreads look like they’ve been through a horror-show. It took me some time to locate my book, my phone, and the dog.  I didn’t find Someone. After a thorough search through the sheets I discovered he had gone to sleep in the guest room and I don’t blame him a bit.

Today I feel somewhat better so I ate something and drove to work. I have 2-3 dozen patients to see today but happily they are all ‘med-checks’ and not evaluations so I don’t have to be too impressive-looking or for that matter coherent.  If I should pass out or spike a fever I can always abort go home and back to sleep for another seven hours.


*I woke a few times thanks to accidents. Oh the embarrassment.

Today was a Thursday. Thursdays mean the following:

a) I was in the Mesa office.

b) I only saw returning patients (no new ones)

c) I ‘dressed down’ in khaki trousers and a Spo-shirt (purple batik)

Everyone who came in knew me already, so I didn’t have to impress anyone with my ensemble. The APA secret police knew better than to bust in to arrest me for not dressing up to contemporary professional standards, as there is a shortage of psychiatrists especially in the East Valley. A few months ago a local shrink suddenly closed shop much to the dismay and shock of his clientele, all who suddenly needed a new doc ASAP. I think my dance card for newbies is full up for three months.

Last week I saw The Good Doctor for my routine checkup. He was pleased as Punch my systolic blood pressure is down to 112; not too long ago that was my diastolic. I am back on my original blood pressure medication.  My cholesterol panel was also good – stellar in fact. Let’s hear it for austere living, pravastatin, and a daily dose of salubrious tea!

I just finished sewing together another shirt which may be my best and favorite shirt so far. It is made from pink and white fabric of palm fronds in a ‘retro style’ to suggest Palm Springs in the 60s. I must to go to Palm Springs just to show it off by going up and down Palm Canyon Drive ala Musetta.  I have all the attributes of a great opera singer except voice.

Spo-fans may recall I am reading Pepys’ Diary. I am up to 1661. It is a slow process. Mr. Pepys spends a lot of time at his office apparently doing nothing. He also goes to the theatre a lot “which pleased me very much”.  At the moment (February) he has a bad cold ‘which sore vexes me”.  The treatments  for colds from The Restoration Period don’t sound much better than the remedies used today, although there was more sack and claret then. Works for me. I plan to try this next time I have the sniffles. And now to bed.

The pool is no longer cold to discourage swimming. Far from it. It is sufficiently warmed up to make the water almost not refreshing. All the same it makes a nice dip at day’s end. However the pool light must be on lest the Kappa who lurks in the deep dark drags you down to your doom. Just hate when that happens. You would think the chlorine would discourage his lurking about but no such luck. I suppose I should be grateful there just aren’t any scorpions.

At university I majored in biology/microbiology; I am a physician; I like to study the history of epidemics.  From this you can surmise I am fascinated by microbes and wee-beasties – particularly the ones who want to kill me. Mind! I am not a ‘germaphobe’. I am not one of those poor sods who feel obliged to carry around hand-sanitizer or refuses to shake hands out of fear of contagion and subsequent death. However I am careful about dirty hands, particularly before handling something to eat. Right after I order food in a restaurant I always announce to Someone now I have to go wash my hands – using proper ‘surgery procedure’ to avoid touching anything after doing so.*

I recently read a literal ‘shit-list’ of dirty items to keep in mind as you touch them.  Many of them are considered more dirty than toilet seats for number of nasties per square-inch.  Most of these filthy things are commonplace items one touches without thought. Door handles and cellphones are notoriously dirty, as are buttons: elevator, microwave, and telephone types.  The lurid list included light switches, doorknobs, and keyboards. 

The points: 

(A) before handing food go wash your hands. 

(B) regularly wash down these offenders with alcohol-based wipes 

I clean my cellphone daily; and I wipe down my work keyboards on a weekly basis.  In contrast I can not remember when I last washed the refrigerator handles (home or work).  The office doorknobs must be handled by 50+ people per day.  I doubt gas station attendees ever wipe down the pump handles.  

So I started (B). Once a week or so I get out the handy-wipes and attend to these sordid objects.  I probably look odd at Einstein Brothers when I use my wrist (not my hand) to operate the public coffee spigot and when I pick up the public cream pot using a paper napkin. 

Someone does none of these things yet he hasn’t succumbed to typhoid or cholera which is the just punishment for thems who don’t wash hands before picking up their breakfast bagel.  At some level this is a disappointment.

Everyone has their comfort levels of course when it comes to the critters. Someone thinks I am tempting fate when I make and drink solar tea rather than using boiling water, while I won’t touch raw fish sushi which he eats with relish.  

Perhaps it is over-kill to wash hands after handling all the machines at the gym etc. but it gives me a quiet satisfaction to do so, particularly after I see in the same gym many men not washing their hands after using the urinal.


*This entails the following: after a timely hand wash, you turn off the faucets and turn the doorknobs using paper towel or toilet paper. I also use my elbow to push down on the paper towel dispenser.  

“Be careful what you wish for”.

It is my turn to fall victim to this platitude.

Spo-fans know I have issue with the office music.  For thems unfamiliar with my issue I shall explain: To keep people from hearing what’s happening behind the closed doors of the therapists’ office the House Manager has stereo music continually playing in the hallway.  This is well enough but the radio station picked for the problem plays the same tunes over and over. They are mostly Michael Jackson tunes and “Don’t stop believing”. Besides jarring the ambience the tunes drive Urs Truly to distraction.  The wretched tunes repeat several times a day, especially the dreaded “Don’t stop believing”.   Worst of all , starting the day after Thanksgiving, the station starts playing loud saccharine “Holiday tunes” the type that makes one want to take gas. I’ve remonstrated many times the choice of music is inimical to mental health, but to no avail.  When it gets too bad I close my office door and moan.

Until today.

I came in this morning to hear classical music rather than the morning rendition of “Don’t stop believing”.  At first I was delighted. However in time I realized this worse. I have a discriminating ear for classical music. What was being played were the frenzied ‘B” rated classical tunes, the type without depth or appeal.  This is elevator music in E-flat.  The rock tunes I could block out but these. They oblige me to a) name the piece and b) feel how bad these versions are.  They are some recognizable symphonies but only the ‘allegro’ sections and none lasting more than 5-10 minutes. Oh the horror.  I now have to close the door MORE.

Later that morning the chief receptionist dropped by my office beaming with delight, She asked me wasn’t I thrilled with the new music station?  Growing up my Aunt Judy told me liars go straight to hell so I had to think quickly and equivocate. I said it sure is different and quite remarkable.

What to do what to do what to do. When Darren of Bewitched had Uncle Arthur move in to drive away Endora, Mr. Stevens exclaimed to Sam “I prefer your mother any day”.  I may have eat crow and tell her thanks but please switch it back.  Who would have thunk we would see the day I prefer Journey to Telemann?

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