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This week I am going to pick a day and turn off my phone and leave it at home. I will without it for 24 hours. 

I sense Spo-fans clutching their pearls, their eyes popping out at the mere notion.  Oh the horror.

I’ve always had the rationale to keep my phone on and near by 24/7 , even at bedside (and in the bed) in case there is a crisis and I am paged by a patient who needs my instant attention to talk him off a ledge before he jumps. In twenty years of carrying a pager or cellphone this has never happened. People determined on killing themselves do not call their doctors. The pager system can always call me at work in the day and at home in the evening. So the ‘worse case scenario’ is covered – and blows away the sham I have to have one on a continuous basis.  I can’t remember when I last received an email or text so urgent it couldn’t wait.

Truth is I spend a lot of ,y time checking and rechecking my phone mostly for frivolous things like Facebook. I really don’t need to continually know if there is a new comment or what was just posted on WordPress or a podcast is sending me a new episode. I don’t ‘need’ a phone.   The world spins quite nicely without me continually checking CNN to ascertain if this is so.

All the same I suspect the no-phone Thursday will be uncomfortable.

I am curious to see if I show signs of withdrawal. Will I constantly looking for the phone not there, and feeling anxious I am missing out. The lack of texts etc. may create a quiet I might find unsettling rather than soothing.

I am curious to see how much time is regained from not continually poking around on the thing.  Will my work day go more smoothly? Will my work out be more streamlined and/or more tedious (imagine I will have to sit and do nothing between reps!)

I remind myself I lived forty years or so without a cellphone. I have a vague warm-fuzzy memory I did quite well without one and life was not boring nor disconnected. Indeed, I remember reading  a lot of books and eating dinner with people who talked and made eye contact. I also recall there was more nocturnal past times too.

This all sounds splendid actually. I may do this on a regular basis. I may not turn the cellphone back on if it goes really well.

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The Firesign Theatre had a comedy album “Everything you know is wrong.”  This axiom turns up again and again throughout my life. Going to medical conferences is no exception. Medicine is an ever-changing field. What was true one year turns out to be not so the next.  Some people see this as a sign of a sham but it is a truism of science.

For example, I was trained in the 80s/90s thems who smoke marijuana were all pot heads and nothing good could come from smoking the stuff.  Yesterday I heard the latest scientific-backed evidence-based data to negate all my training and beliefs.**

I prefer Truth to Dogma, so I try to throw off held-fast beliefs when there is good evidence to support such.  This is not as easy as it sounds as we like steadfast truths. To have the rug constantly pulled out from us leaves us with little firm to stand upon. Most people are uncomfortable without some fixed beliefs.  You might have noticed thems who believe Obama was born in Kenya or deny climate change or think the earth if flat are never swayed by reasoning and evidence; they just dig into their beliefs more.  There are few at ease with moral ambiguities (hey it sings) so they pretend they don’t exist.

As a doctor I can’t ethically do this. Imagine I learn after hundred of years of prescribing bloodletting it turns out to have no value but MDs decide their years of experience with it and ‘it has always been that way’ trumps evidence (pun intended) and they keep prescribing it.   Alas, this happens more often than not. Lots of doctors continue to do things which have little scientific backup.  Deny and discard is more often done than not. I try not to be one of them. I know myself well enough I do and prescribe things

I go back to work on Monday with  new perspectives and an up to date knowledge base – some being 180s to what I used to say and do. Some patients will complain ‘you guys can’t settle on what is right and wrong” but I know I am following the path of science – test a hypothesis and discard it if the evidence doesn’t support it.

 

**There is ‘good’ and ‘truth’ to the possible use of cannabis in the treatment of mental illness yes, but it is not at all what my patients believe.  More on this anon if Spo-fans are interested.

Pensive

It is Sunday evening and I am staring at the bright white screen that is Mac Pages and nothing is forthcoming. I feel like I’ve not had anything worthwhile to write for a week. There is nothing erudite or witty upon which to compose. My mind’s a blank. I feel I should just go to bed.

This worries me viz. running out of ideas upon which to blog. Perhaps it portends Spo-Reflections is coming to its close. I find I am writing more out of obligation than passion to do so. Maybe I just need a hiatus. Even writers need their rest now and then, don’t they?

Rather than going into lamentations and hysterics perhaps I should just sit back and wait. I am hoping my public announcement of a possible closure is enough for The Muses, The Graces, The Fates (or any group of goddesses) to overhear this jeremiad and send me something right away.

Perhaps I am merely impatient. This Thursday I fly to New Orleans for a medical conference. I am certain to learn some interesting tidbits to turn into entries. The city alone should have something for an entry.

Being tired doesn’t help. Work demands coupled with all I try to do makes for long days and not enough sleep. Neither state of being makes for quiet times for inspiration.

So with that saidI will retire early. I will turn off the The Great Courses and all the podcasts and go read a book. After all, reading often inspires writing. Perhaps Spo-fans could leave me some suggestions upon which I may expand.  Any tidbits are appreciated.

The Board of Directors sent a terse text telling me not to write any more entries about dead animals, fancy words, or ‘work’. This doesn’t leave me much to write about. I am in a xeriscape – oops! – better write I am in dry period.  Sometimes is it best just to stare at the blank Mac “Pages” on your laptop and hope something happens.

A Spo-fan asked recently how goes the great recipe collection project. There seems to be no end in sight. Every time I think Part I is complete* I discover more magazines waiting to be structinized. I grab a few each time there is a car trip. It’s still too hot to cook much, but I am looking forward to cooler days when I can make some autumn soups and stews. Apples are good this time of year, as are the grapes. I would cook some squash but there is only the two of us. Last time I made squash I had enough left over to feed the neighborhood. Neither one of us enjoy leftover squash and I feel great compunction to put it all down the swanny so perhaps not.

I’m purposely going through the October and November issues hoping to find some interesting recipes for the pending holidays. They are easy to spot for every one of them has a turkey on its cover; everyone has imperial varieties on how to do Thanksgiving with panache. It is “Thanksgiving in Santa Fe” in Bon Appetit while Gourmet does “Thanksgiving in Virginia”. Mostly this means altering the stuffing ingredients and the basting herbs, and you put chiles or greens in the side dishes (respectively).  I grew up in the Midwest; our Thanksgivings were noteworthy for no variation and no flavor. Our fine herbs and spices consisted of salt and pepper – and enough squash to feed a the neighborhood.

All this recipe research is probably for naught as Someone is going to work Thanksgiving day leaving me home alone. Preparing a gourmet dinner for just two people is hard work and we will probably still be dieting anyway. I may merely open a tin of soup and call it supper.

So why on earth am I accumulating all these fabulous sybarite recipes if I ain’t gonna make any of them? A fair question. There is an element of hope someday I may have time/energy, enough for a dinner party, and a waistline small enough to make some. If so, I want the “Thanksgiving in New England” which seems to have oysters and lobster in it. This beats The Midwest menu by a country mile.

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“Thanksgiving with The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections.” 

 

Part I :  Take all the magazines and rip out the recipes that give an initial impression of sounding good to try.

Part II : Go through them to eliminate the redundant ones and the ones not looking as good as first thought.

Part III: Start making them, one a time, say 1-2/week.

Part IV : Keep the ones worth repeating. Discard the ones that were page 71.

There is a dead pigeon outside my office. The wall against the patio is all glass; the bird must have flown into it. I hope its death was quick and painless. The sad-looking corpse lies within eye sight to remind me of the ephemeral. It acts like an aviary Psychopomp. I should probably have this Arizonian Norwegian Blue removed before I become too melancholy about it but I am timorous to touch it. I suppose I could gingerly kick the corpse onto a newspaper and lob it over the patio wall, but I am afraid it would land on a passerby three floors below. There is nothing quite so sad as to have one’s pate struck by a dead decaying pigeon.  The scientist in me is curious to let it be to watch how long it decays away but this is morbid.

Poor thing. Before its eyes imploded it had a disconsolate look on its face, as if the pigeon had realized just before death how little it had done in life. While it is a doleful reminder about our brief time it probably isn’t the best thing for depressed and suicidal patients to see while telling me their woes.

I think I will ask the custodian if he would mind to come sweep it up for me. Perhaps by Wednesday when I return it will have been spirited away somehow or burned up in the not PHX sun.

I don’t know why a sad-looking dead bird evokes such sadness. Death happens. Pigeons don’t last long even under the best of circumstances. Perhaps evolution is at hand screening out the ones who can’t deduce glass from air.  In general I hate seeing animals suffer.  Seeing Texans lament their losses in the recent flood didn’t evoke emotions so much as seeing the stray cats and dogs – that made me want to donate my dollars.

I wonder too what awaits me, what encounter might do me in if I fail to see the fateful glass in front of me.  Perhaps all too soon I too will suddenly drop suddenly dead and someone must haul me away to the rubbish bin along with the other dead birds.  Dear me; contemplating on a dead pigeon is rather depressing.  I think I better go watch some Bugs Bunny cartoons in order to cheer up. Watching Daffy Duck getting continually shot by Elmer Fudd is a near-guarantee to do so.

Our original Saturday flight had a connection through Texas,which will soon be under water thanks to hurricane Harvey. Our travel plans are thwarted; we are going home today one day early. It is the end of our holiday. This entry is written while sitting in the airport.

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This week we toured several old homes in Charleston and Savannah. They were full up with antique furniture and the like. One house was wall to wall with the owner’s collection; each room overflowed with vases, furniture, and statues.  The walls were covered with paintings. The docents were delighted with it all and we were supposed to be equally awed.

Rather than be inspired to envy all I felt was the desire for a large auction or garage sale and clear out the place.

Perhaps the house-tour staff are right: human behavior doesn’t change viz. thems with money have always wanted ostensible items to show off their wealth.  I am not so certain about this axiom. I’ve read some articles on how the younger generations do not want their parent’s possessions. Mothers and grandmothers tell their descendants ‘Some day all of this shall be yours!” only to elicit aghast in their children, who are already plotting how to unload this all to Goodwill or something.  Younger folks – and Urs Truly – want simplicity and space. They prefer putting their income not into things but into trips and eating out.  They don’t want the a living room the size of a racquetball court, or the china/silverware to host twenty people. They would rather just reserve a restaurant space and treat.

There is little that is fancy, old, or precious in the Spo-house*. We have some Native American artwork from The Northwest Pacific Northwest; it is our one go at conspicuous consumption.   I have never felt the need to have people over in order to impress them with my furniture. My exposure to the opulence of the South has inspired me to go home and commit ‘danshari’ more than ever.

Give me a little to nothing and put the money in the bank.

Just let me keep the Bookwus.

Addendum: 

What I enjoyed most about Savannah was meeting Domini Dave. An afternoon with him was better than all the house tours and shrimp grits in Georgia. 

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*Other than Someone.

 

Greetings from South Carolina, Land of Humidity. *

We are having a lovely time walking around and seeing the sites, with frequent change in our shirts. I’ve had my first okra (fried, served with mayo).

I’ve not taken many photos and I will tell you why. I am beginning to prefer my own memories than those in a photograph. There is research on the subject to support my approach. People who quickly take a photo are less likely remember the experience than thems who look around and imprint their impressions using their senses. I write things down too, which helps jog my memory to recall the details.

On our first day in Charleston we took a bus tour. We sat up front on the right side of the bus; across the aisle sat another couple. They were well over four feet. As we drove by the points of interest, this quiet pair would get up quickly turn and click their phones to take whatever was whizzing by. Were they actually listening to the tour guide or merely taking photos at the cue there was something of worth there to see? A few times when their was something on the right side of the bus they would jump up and sort of lean over us (invading our personal zones) to try to capture the moment.   In contrast, Someone and I took no photos but listened to what was being said. We also asked questions, which the tour guide was happy to address. I hope said-couple enjoyed the tour. I wonder if ‘their way’ is good as our own at making the morning memorable.

Nowadays it feels a bit odd to walk up to a monument or lovely view and be the only one not wiping out their phone to take a photo. There is something old-fashioned about just standing and looking, but I don’t recall my grandparents complaining they could not remember what they saw or did on their travels.

With that said, we are not against photography. We took some photos, but not of the main things. Mine were of tangents. At Fort Sumter I took a close up of the brick wall. We were told the bricks were made by hand by slaves. The bricks had broken shells in them. I wondered who else saw them and why they were there.  Photographs of Fort Sumter – and good ones at that – are easily viewed and download via the internet. My quirky close up souvenir photos are good for what I want to remember.

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* More accurate is to report on the dew point not the humidity. The dew point is 80F. Oh the pain.

Pensive

Note: I wrote this entry mostly as an exercise to help me focus into consciousness a set of emotions on a topic that is bothering me. This process of expanding the subconscious is called ‘amplification”. It doesn’t make for a comical or interesting entry.  Spo-fans and cranky Board Members have been warned. 🙂

 

I like to talk about The Journey, which is the Jungian archetype about ones passing through life. It highlights the elements of Self-growth and development for the time one has between cradle and grave. Sometimes I am am talking out of my other end on the topic for I don’t any clue what is my Journey.

Mind! There is no written script on what constitutes The Journey. There is nothing preordained. Indeed, having thought out yours like a AAA triptych is not Journey at all. What makes the gods laugh most is when you tell them your plans. By definition, The Journey is what you encounter when you remain open to what may happen. Frodo Baggins said it best “I will take the ring though I do not know the way”.

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All the same, I want some sort of guidance. The Cheshire Cat’s assurance if I walk long enough I will get somewhere is at times no comfort.

So what’s missing? The answer: future goals. I pepper the months of each year with events and things to look forward. These include the traditional holidays, away-from-home seminars, and vacations. In contrast there is nothing in the bigger picture such as what I want to accomplish by 60 or 70 or where I want to retire (if I should achieve such) or even what do I want out of life.

Spo-fans know I inherited from The Lovely Neighbor several stacks of cooking magazines which I am slowly rummaging for recipes. I tear out the interesting looking ones and tuck them away for a nebulous ‘some day’. I recently got all of them out from the accordion file and I sorted them into categories. There are scores of them, ranging from appetizers to vegetable dishes. My first emotional response at surveying the piles on the dining room table is even if I were to start right now I could not make all of them in my lifetime. So, when am I going to make them? Is this my future goal, my Journey?  If so it is it seems a bit mawkish and uninspiring. The point here is these piles tickle that itch to have more Purpose and to refine The Journey. I don’t know yet what to do but I sense I need to do something.

Maybe that’s what the Cheshire Cat is assuring me: not what is The Journey but which steps to take first.

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Travel Penguin (the dear!) often posts entries asking for a reply which I don’t do in a comment but as an entry here at Spo-Reflections.  Last week he wrote about things he doesn’t ‘get” viz. bewildering human behavior that make his eyes cross in incomprehension. I am not bewildered often thanks to training in psychology; I can usually figure things out why people do what the do.  When in doubt, people behave without thinking, or to avoid perceived pain/danger, or because of their mother. * Nevertheless despite my best efforts some things remain unexplainable. Here’s ten of them for your amusement.

Straw man mentality  –  Perhaps due to my dabbling in science and rhetoric whenever I hear a made statement with a proposed conclusion my first impulse is to question the causality, and not except it as true.  Apparently few think this way, at least in this country.

Drinking hot beverages to cool down –  madness! I suppose this is an example of having no choice in a matter so pretending the outcome is what you wanted is a delusional comfort.

Violence as entertainment – I know the biological and psychological theories why we are attracted to fights and brutality but it don’t do no good. Gladiator fights or shoot-em-up movies – they are all the same to me.

Justin Bieber – self explanatory.

Someone’s mania for rubber ducks – Dr. Fisher, psychoanalyst, said it best: there is no accounting for taste.

What we will or will not buy – people take great umbrage if the price of gas or bananas go a certain way but then think nothing of buying overpriced bottles of water.

Patient preferences – I often hear from patients they are skeptical to take evil pharmaceuticals but think nothing of buying crap off the sleep laced with god-only knows what or they buy non regulated supplements of which they don’t know the ingredients.  Patients are awfully picky what they will put in their bodies – and it still bewilders me the logic -or lack thereof.

Eating raw fish – I’ve studied parasites; I know what happens.

JWs (Jehovah Witnesses) – I may be wrong on this (and I hope I am) but don’t the JWs believe only a finite number of people go to heaven? I would think by now that’s been met. So why bother?  I would soon change religion to one that had more hope to it. And they don’t do no holidays.

Modern art – yes I’m one of those types who walks through the art museum into the galleries with the helicopter crashes, the blood-heads, and the canvases with one paint stroke on them and wonder what on earth is going on here.

Well that’s my ten.

Here is the thing I find the most bewildering; it is the thing I most don’t get –

Wasting life – I loved to learn and grow at an early age. I see all of life as a growing experience.  Apparently not many agree.  They go through the motions of mundane living, content to watch TV and play video games. Forty years later, in retirement, they are still watching TV until they die.

They don’t seem unhappy – nay, they look content.

A life without meaning or Journey is perhaps the thing I don’t get most.

 

*Freudian reference which turns out not usually true. A better explanation is our desire for attention.

What do you say when you know you will never see the person you before you? Do you pretend there may be a reunion or do you bluntly acknowledge the end and act accordingly ?

The Lovely Neighbor drives to Virginia tomorrow and that is that. I doubt she will ever return to Arizona.

This evening we had her over for a drink before she leaves in the morning. We made her late mother’s oyster dip and we had drank some bourbon. It felt like the last supper. We did not talk about this situation. Rather we joked about this and that; we laughed and rolled our eyes at Hair Furor’s latest outrage. Once in awhile I slipped in a thank you and a mention of how grateful I was for having her in my life. I said I would miss her. But these slips were not continued or even acknowledged; the superficial chats and banter continued.

At the end of our little Tom Sawyer funeral she became tearful and announced she had to go. I tactfully did not point out her tears. I gave her a long hug, the type Wotan gives to Brunhilde before he leaves her forever.  There were promises on both sides to keep in touch and do come visit etc.

I’ve been through this sort of thing before – many times. I recognize one when it happens to me. I know how it goes. “Let’s keep in touch” is an indirect speech act for “we will probably never see each other again but do let’s us not be so crude to say such out loud”. I’ve had countless friends move away vowing to stay in touch only to disappear and become only a memory if they are remembered at all.  One of the saddest things in my life is how many people I have known who have moved away and have ceased to be; most of them I can’t easily recall anymore. Sad.

Perhaps this way is better. Perhaps saying the obvious is too blunt. So we agree on the illusion of the possible.

Perhaps I am wrong; maybe we will keep in touch and see each other again. Based on my experience this will not be so.

Even if this turns out to be true I know in time I will not feel the loss I will only remember the love.

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