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What’s top of my mind: The fall of society. It sure feels like it anyway. I have a sad sense the religious right will stop at nothing now to turn the country into a theocracy (Protestant version). They will utilize the current economy and The Supreme Court decision to take over the country. My one comfort is knowing history shows these sorts of set ups seldom work in the long run.

Where I’ve been: Someone’s side of the walk-in closet. My side of the closet is well-organized with Spo-shirts on one rack, the long sleeved-shirts on another, and the suits and jackets on theirs. It is all tidy and tended by taxonomy – and there is little there I don’t actually wear. Someone’s side is not so organized; things hang where they will. He has heaps of things he hasn’t worn in ages. Bored with wearing the same things, I’ve been rummaging around on his side for something new.* There are bargains to be had! This is better than Goodwill! I’ve worn a few findings to work and I’ve received some nice compliments along the line of ‘hey, nice shirt”, that sort of thing. While he hasn’t worn these items in ages, Someone noticed right away I was wearing them (clever!). He’s glad they are being used, and he vows to clean out the rubbish items, some day.

Where I’m going: The Orpheum Theatre. Someone is an usher captain at The Orpheum Theatre, which on Sundays shows old movies on the big screen. Next month is “Frozen”, a movie I have never seen. I am curious to view this spectacle and discover what’s it all about. Picture it: Urs Truly sitting uncomfortable among hundreds of little girls all singing along to the songs. I will feel like a ‘virgin’ attending his first ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’.

What I’m watching: Foxes Afloat. I recently discovered these fellows on The Tube of Yous. They are charming chaps, well over four feet. I have always been a sucker for a Scots accent. Really, a Scotsman could read me the telephone book and my soul swoons.

What I’m reading: ‘How minds change’ by David Mcraney. Mr. Mcraney (the dear!) hosts the wonderful podcast “You are not that smart”. In it, he explores cognitive bias and the unconscious drives that influence our decision-making. He’s grown pessimistic as the research (to his dismay) shows logic and reason have little if any value in trying to get people to change their minds. It is easy to conclude it is impossible. In response, he wrote this book, based on further research, on what actually works for getting folks to change their minds. I just started the book, so I don’t know how good is the prognosis to the proposed techniques.

What I’m listening to: Salome (the finale). For thems unfamiliar with this opera, this is ninety minutes of chromatic euphoric music sung by totally awful people accumulating to the awful ending where Salome sings in a psychotic euphoria to the head of John the Baptist her ecstasy she has finally achieved her desire: to kiss him. Ach, ich habe deinen Mund gekusst! It is totally disgusting, it’s morbid, and it’s set to the most marvelous music. **

What I’m eating: Toast. After making a decent loaf I must consume it before it goes dry or becomes moldy. I put half of it in the freezer and the rest is for toast. Buttered toast remains one of the best snacks ever. I have a jar of Marmite. I schmear some on toast and I eat it with relish. I’ve not had Vegemite (worse luck!): I wonder how they compare.

Have you had Marmite? Vegemite? Which is better? Or rather you would eat rats at Tewkesbury?

Who needs a good slap: The Trump minions on the Supreme Court. All they want is to serve their abhorrent master. Now they will now stop at nothing.

On my 1-5 scale I give The Supreme Court members (the nasty ones) 5 slaps. Each.

What I’m planning: More cookies. My first attempt at making cookies in the Mix-master was ‘mixed’ as they were funny-looking but tasted OK. I will try another type this weekend. I am catching on to make these bad boys on Sunday night so they are transported to the office on Monday morning before too many are consumed at home. Speaking of Mr. Mcraney, for awhile he would end his podcasts with a cookie recipe. They are exquisite, nuanced, and seldom-made, like my men. I plan on making one of these lovelies.

What’s making me smile: JOMO. I recently learned the acronym JOMO: The Joy Of Missing Out. It is the opposite of FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out. Wanting to be in the know, to part of the tribe, and not ‘left out’ is a primal emotion of mankind; it is one of the reasons why we tend to return to news/online/social outlets even when we know it’s not good for us or is a waste of time. There is a lot of good that comes from learning to say ‘no’ to things and to others, and this includes JOMO. For a week I’ve not been on Facebook and it feels quite nice thank you. I don’t feel I am missing out on something , other than drama, ads that line the pockets of Mark Z. , and cat memes. It makes me smile to have quiet time to make cookies, read books. and listen to bat-sh-t sopranos rolling around on stage with severed heads, singing. 🙂

*After all, there’s nothing like a new frock to brighten up your day.

**I thought to add a link to a version of this heartwarming spectacle, but The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections thought them too unsettling. So you can imagine.

What’s top of my mind: The Elantra. I worked from home yesterday as the car was dripping oil onto the garage floor and I would not risk driving about town. “Tim” from AAA came by around four to drag it away to the new Hyundai dealership (new to us anyway) for its appointment. I hope it’s as simple as a leaky or faulty do-hickey that just needs replacement or tightening. Visits to the mechanic are never inexpensive, so there goes out more money. Working from home felt 2020. Harper liked it; she figured I was home for her sake.

Where I’ve been: The Cookbook shelf. On the top shelves of the food pantry sits my collection of cookbooks. I have a love-hate relationship with them. I love them as some of them are my favorite books, full up with memories of times and kitchen past. On the other hand, they all seem to whimper whenever I go in the pantry as if to plead to take me down and use me, which I never do these days. I suppose I should get rid of the ones I never use/will use but I don’t have the heart.

Where I’m going:  Total Wine. The wine-fridge is bereft of ‘table wine”; all it has is fancy and expensive bottles, which we are saving for ‘special occasions’ that never happen. What we need – what I want rather – is some ‘cheap whites for summer sipping’, preferably until ten dollars. Anyone can buy expensive stuff if you have the money, but what’s really fun is finding good-enough wines as bargain prices. Thems who work at Total Wine have little signs of some of the offerings.These are along the line of “Pam recommends” with a few words from Pam on how she likes it so. These may be the equivalent of ‘summer rain’ perfume, but I hope they are sincere. I usually come back from the place with a cardboard box of a dozen roses and whites, for around 100$.

Do you have any good inexpensive recommendations for wine?

What I’m watching:  Letterkenny. Someone loves this show, but I can’t make up my mind. The writing is clever and the actors deliver their lines that beat an Edward Albee play. Most of the time these lines go whizzing by like rockets with Canadian lingo for which I haven’t a clue. I find all characters disturbing and they make me wonder how on earth anything gets accomplished in this macabre Lake Woebegone-like town. We watch episodes at supper time.

What I’m reading:   The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. A book with all sorts of fancy fustian words; what more can I ask for? Here’s an example:

looseleft [adj.] feeling a sense of loss upon finishing a good book , sensing the weight of the back cover locking away the lives of characters you’ve gotten to know so well.

What I’m listening to:  Attila. A couple I know who are quite experienced in classical music (one worked for the Cleveland Symphony) had me over to take away as many CDs as I wished. They weren’t playing them anymore. What I took were mostly operas I’ve been too cheap to buy but wouldn’t mind having a copy of. One of them is Verdi’s “Attila”. It’s about … wait for it…. Attila The Hun. For thems not familiar with opera, if I asked you to conjure up clichés about them, almost all stereotypes fit nicely into this cheesy endeavor. It isn’t performed much anymore compared to Mr. Verdi’s later works, which are better and more likely to get butts in the seats. Still, there is a camp element to “Attila” that makes it jolly good fun. I’ve seen it once or twice and I just hate it when directors try to make it serious or worse set it in some contemporary setting ‘up. What’s called for are captive maidens in fur bikinis and dudes with oh-so-not-politically-correct Charlie Chan mustaches.

What I’m eating:  Salmon. During a rare time when we went grocery shopping separately, I brought home a large bag of frozen salmon filets while Someone purchased a large bag of salmon burgers. We are up to our oxters in salmon. Happily we like the stuff, so we aren’t too sick of it yet. Salmon gets into most everything these days, including scrambled eggs and on top of vegetarian rice bowls. I prefer filets to the burgers as once upon a time I got very sick soon after eating one of the latter. I daresay it was the mayo-based condiment and not the salmon burger. Regardless, I can’t help but retch a little when having one.

Who needs a good slap: There are no lack of deplorable politicians who have not honor nor integrity. However, I want to avoid these as too easy, too obvious, and slapping them feels like ‘stooping’ to their level of degeneracy. I will go with The Texas Republican Party which is reported to me to have adopted the horseshit belief homosexuality is an ‘abhorrent lifestyle choice’. Must we go over this again that people don’t choose their sexual orientation? The GOP makes up what the want to believe and shouts it long enough to make a lie a truth.

On a 1-5 scale, I give the Texas GOP five slaps.

What I’m planning:  Fondue. I have a Crate & Barrel fondue pot with 6-8 long slender two-pronged forks. am fond of fondue and it’s a pity the pot is not used often. Someone doesn’t care for such. However, in a few weeks it will be my birthday. I was deprived a P.E.I lobster dinner, so my consolation will be a fondue. I get to figure out which vegetables and imperial tid-bits to use for dipping (Someone is allergic to shrimp) as well as the fondue itself. Jolly good fun!

Do you have a fondue pot? Do you ever use it?

What’s making me smile:  My blogger buddies and the Spo-fans. I was woebegone in last week’s Ws. Afterwards, comments came from folks never heard from before, long time lurkers and silent Spo-fans all thanking me for my scribbles. Later that week, while making ’rounds’ on blogs, a few mentioned me in their entries, saying similar. This is better than all the gummi-bears in Germany and all the rats at Tewkesbury. This is what makes me smile. Whenever I need a grin, I think of you all.

Note: these Ws are a rawther lugubrious; thems prone to the mulligrubs may want to skip over this one.

What’s top of my mind: Money. Inflation is a worry, not that I can’t afford things, but how it will lead to a toppling of the government and the return of Trump. My own money worry is a legion of unexpected expenses: car repair, medical matters, house and teeth matters. These are estimated to be about 5,000$ dollars or more. So much for summer travel plans – or much else.


Where I’ve been: Under the kitchen sink. My kitchen sink consists of two tubs: the left side has the garbage disposal while the right side is large enough for doing dishes by hand. The right side now has a leak somewhere down below that if the water is run, it drips down below. Mercifully, there is a blue plastic tub there, holding various cleaning devices and the dishwasher soap. The mephitic mess was easily cleaned up but the sink remains unusable. I think there is a connection problem between the drain and the sink proper. I am timorous to try to fix this myself, lest I make a mess of things. Time to call in a plumber of someone like him. More repairs! More money! This sh-t never ends.


Where I’m going: The periodontist. In 2020 I had a back molar extracted and there is a gap there. In theory a three-part procedure puts down a foundation, a middle bit, topped by a crown, like a candy corn. As the gap isn’t visible, I figured I can live without a full set. Now that it looks like I will be around longer than anticipated, perhaps I should get this completed. This vanity will cost me time and money. The periodontist wants ~ 2,500$ up front. Afterwards The Good Dentist will want his cut as well. Is this really worth a tooth I wonder?


What I’m watching: Videos of rainfall. It’s that time of year: sky is perpetually cloudless, blazing blue and hot as hell. I compensate by listening and watching videos of rainfall. I love the sound of rain, especially in a forest setting. One of life’s greatest pleasures is a weekend (Sunday is the best for this) with a quiet rain, telling you to stay put indoors and read books and drink tea. I never get this anymore; videos of rain are a comfort.


What I’m reading: The mechanisms of action of viloxazine. There is a new medicine, indicated for adult ADD. Alas, Babylon! In my field there is rarely anything ‘new’, just variations of things already available. Sure enough, this one isn’t new but used in Europe for the treatment of MDD (major depression), as it is an antidepressant. Someone decided to repackage it as a new medicine indicated for ADD. Unlike in Europe where it is a generic, here it’s ‘brand’ (viz. expensive) and no better than generic medications in its efficacy. I am already using similar generic medications in this class in the off-label treatment for ADD, so why would I use a ‘new’ one that quite expensive? The pharm rep for this product did their pony-show how vouchers and downloading discounts and using specialty pharmacies may circumvent its high cost. This means ‘more work’ for me. While I never say ‘no’ to a new medication option, I say screw this nonsense.


What I’m listening to: The Trial of Louis Riel. I am listening to a Great Course lecture series titled “Great trials of history”. Most of them I recognize: Socrates; Oscar Wilde; Salem Witch trials. Last weekend I heard one about a fellow I’ve never heard of. As is sometimes the case, I am completely clueless about someone who is well-known by millions, in this case, Canadians. Mr. Riel’s life makes a smashing story. He was part English/Protestant and part Native American/French-Canadian/Catholic. When he was elected to Parliament the old meanies wouldn’t let him serve his elected posts. Later on Mr. Riel went a little nuts, perhaps in a psychotic depression combined with PTSD, and he was exiled to the States. He later returned to Canada, where he raised a ruckus and many things happened and he was put on trial. The defense team argued he was barking mad and thus not responsible for his actions. Thems in charge didn’t buy it and they hanged the poor sod. I consulted some amis in Canada. They told me some see him as a national villain and others see him as a martyr. They even made an opera about him. Oh, but I love learning!


What I’m eating: Midwest casserole – my own recipe. Having eaten countless casseroles I don’t need a recipe, I just follow the basics rules and ingredients at hand. Last weekend I chopped up some chicken breasts and combined them with some tins of mushrooms and jalapeños (after all I live in the Southwest), some shredded cheese, and bound it all with the obligatory can of cream of this/that or the other. I sprinkled it with buttered bread crumbs, popped it in the oven at 350 for some time, and voila! a dish fit for a church basement get-together. It was quite tasty and I ate it with relish. If had combined it was rice or some noodles it would have been perfect.


Who needs a good slap: The Overlords at work. A few months ago the powers that be at work hired another psychiatrist. He seemed a sharp and experienced fellow. Soon there were hints of expanding the place with new treatment options like TMS. Yesterday I was told by The Medical Assistant (who heard it from her boss) he announced he is leaving. He lasted only a few months. I don’t know the reason(s) why he is going. Perhaps there was a sudden turn of unforeseen events. However there is a pattern of my place of employment hiring people and not keeping them. I have lost count how many have come and gone. What is the matter(s) in the interviewing process or in the support or salary that makes folks not stay? Another beef: always hear about these things through the grapevine of the staff and never directly (like in an email). I have to remind myself I don’t run the place, and they are not under obligation to tell me anything along this line. I will probably inherit his patients after he goes. It is not the first time a departed prescriber dumps their workload into my lap as a departing gift.

On my 1-5 scale, I give management at work two slaps.


What I’m planning: A state of nihilism. Somewhere in the archives of my blog I wrote of an experience I had in my youth of going into a small closet-like area on the second floor of my childhood home. It had no windows, so once the door was closed it was the completely dark, the most ‘no light’ I’ve ever experienced. It was fascinating. I would like to experience that again, but how? I think if sit in the walk-in bedroom closet and close the sliding doors (done at night) I might be able to experience it again.


What’s making me smile: Nothing. Again. I sometimes think to eliminate this “W” as it is the hardest one for me to fill. Unlike the others, ‘nothing leaps to mind” quickly. I have to think hard and often my mind is a blank. I will keep it, as it is important to always look for the good and the gratitude in everything, lest one becomes submerged in gloom like a small child lost in the forest. I hope by the time I edit this I have come up with something that is making me smile.

What’s top of my mind: Repairs. Patience above! The list of things in need of repair at La Casa de Spo is as long as a winter’s night in Moscow. The Elantra’s oil light is on. The cement pond has turned a verdant green (Jenny Greenteeth has taken over). The front yard is in desperate need of a tidy-up. Every room as a project to it. Oh the pain.


Where I’ve been: Lost Vegas. What a city. It certainly doesn’t lack for spectacle. It was also very expensive, sort of like Norway without its charms. Gasoline: 6$ a gallon; cocktails: 20$; buffets: 70$. It’s a marvelous party but for only good for 1-2 days at the most. After a while the noise and the crowds get to be too much. We were both glad to go on Sunday. There is is another boondoggle conference in Lost Vegas in December. If I go I will fly and leave Someone behind so he isn’t bored waiting for my lectures to end.


Where I’m going: Nowhere for now. After trekking through Arizona and Nevada I want to stay put at home. I don’t want to stray too far in the Elantra, what with its warning light on. This weekend I will be up to my oxters in homework and paperwork so staying at home is a good thing.


What I’m watching: The planets. This month the planets are doing some mighty-fine line dancing. Around the solstice several celestial bodies will be in line, five of them, for the first time this way in 18 years. The full moon (six days hence) will be a big one low on the horizon, as summer moons are. It will be in the constellation Scorpius. In Astrology, the Moon in Scorpius means it is a good time to stomp as many of the b-strds as you can as there will be ample light outdoors to do so.


What I’m reading: Science Fiction. I am a long-time lover of sci-fi, and summer is the time to read some. I have some old paperbacks of such that written in the ‘classic’ years of the 50s and 60s. For stories set in the future, they are curiously dated. A bonus benefit: the old books when opened and sniffed elicit a euphoria only the bibliophiles can appreciate. They smell of old bookstores discovered on long ago trips. Funny how futuristic novels elicit nostalgia.


What I’m listening to: Cirque Du Soleil ‘O’. While we were in Lost Vegas we decided not to take in a show. First and foremost there wasn’t anything especially alluring. Second, tickets were going for 200$ minimum. I remember seeing “O” and liking it a lot; I thought to see it again but not for that price. What I like most about the ‘Cirque’ shows is the music. I am hearing the soundtrack on The Tube of Yous and this seems enough.


What I’m eating: Nothing good. Neither one of us had had time this week to grocery shop, and there is little to eat at home, so we are eating ‘to go’ items like chicken and sides from the deli counter or frozen pizzas. That ain’t good! We need time – probably this weekend – to make some meal plans and a proper trip to Uncle Albertsons. The making and preparation of fresh food seems to becoming harder to do.


Who needs a good slap: The Hyundai Dealership. Someone called the dealership where we take the Elantra for its maintenance to tell them the oil light is on. He was tersely told there are no appointments available until mid-July. Patience above! He tried to explain this is an urgent matter but he was cut off and told there is no way and you are not listening and not liking what I’m telling you. Someone was angered by this, not so much by the lack of appointments but how the receptionist talked to him in form and content. I suspect the frustrated woman is dealing with a lot of similar calls (and with people less polite than Someone) but her approach is not excusable.

On my 1-5 scale, I give the dealership two slaps: one for not being available and another one to the churlish receptionist.


What I’m planning: A Father’s day/birthday prize. Father’s Day and Father’s birthday are always nearly the same day, so he’s always combines the two holidays into one. What to get a 86yo man who is blind and spends his days listening to Alexa and sleeping in a chair? He doesn’t need clothes or knickknacks or books. Imperial tidbits and nibbles are a good notions. I should ask Brother #3 if he wants/needs anything.


What’s making me smile: Generic medication. One of my meds was costing 250$ per month in co-pay. Merciful Heavens! Tt went generic this month. It now costs 10$. This is a great relief, especially with home repairs to attend to. I received my first shipment. It is unsettling that the long-time blue oval-shaped pill is now a circular non-descript white one one. My first emotional reaction is to wonder if it is any good. Time will tell.

What’s top of my mind: My back. I am weary of having a stiff lower back. Mostly on the left side, it lets me know every time I stand up or move about. It isn’t a pain per se, but an intense tightness, like that of a spring wound too tight to half its length. Daily stretching hasn’t helped, nor has reading it “The Scientific Statemen of Being” (so much for the Christian Science approach). I move about as if in slow motion. No fun this.

Where I’ve been: The cinema. On Memorial Day we went to the movies (Someone loves them so) to saw Dr. Strange movie. It was profusely illustrated and there wasn’t a believable moment in it. For two hours we watched Mr. Cumberbatch and his parallel-universe twins run around and do all sorts of computer-generated shenanigans. It was all nonsense and jolly good fun. The movie had two downsides: first, it was hard for me to believe this was Dr. Strange. That was Mr. Cumberbatch! You can spot him a mile away! Second, there were a lot of loose-ends that weren’t tied up by movie’s end. Someone tells me those are for the sequels. I felt swindled. I wanted some closure but apparently Marvel Comics movies never really end.

Where I’m going: Lost Vegas.* Tomorrow Someone and I drive to the far off kingdom of Nevada to the magical city Lost Vegas for my first in-person medical conference in two years. I am looking forward to having a proper lecture hall-style education. Someone is looking forward to his first time off in years.

What I’m watching: The evolution of blood. I love this sort of stuff; at heart I’m a scientist and a nerd.

What I’m reading:  The philosophy of tea. Travel Penguin and Wicked Hamster (the dears!) sent me a little book all about the history of tea. It is a lovely read, especially over a cuppa.

What I’m listening to:  Wooden Jackets. Someone recently introduced me to this podcast. The gimmick: a small English town has one funeral home run by a neurotic man and his sometimes psychotic sister. A new fellow shows up in town – and starts his own funeral home across from theirs. I reminds me somewhat of “Fawlty Towers” and the “Lucia” novels by E.F. Benson. I am only on episode #5 but I am hooked. It is quite clever.

What I’m eating:  General casserole. Blogger-buddy Sam (the dear!) taught me a basic recipe to turn leftovers into a hot dish good enough for a women’s church basement dinner:

1 cup main ingredient

1 cup second ingredient

1-2 cups starchy ingredient

1 1/2 cups binder

1/4 cup “goodie”

seasoning

topping

Who needs a good slap: Caesar’s Palace. This is where the weekend conference will be. Since making our reservation, Someone has been inundated with emails from thems in charge at the resort, asking over and over if we want a room upgrade, would we like to buy this/that/the other, and providing ‘if you act now’ offers. Oh the pain.
On my 1-5 scale, I give the casino barons one slap.

What I’m planning:  Pillaging the pharm reps. My pending medical conference will have an exhibit hall full up with representatives from pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment sellers and book-mongers all eager to talk to Urs Truly. They often have notepads and pens and things to eat. It is like trick-or-treating: you walk around with an open bag, you approach these happy good-looking types, ask them a question they can’t really answer, hold out the bag and get something. One could get a full meal this way and more. There is an evil urge on my part to see how far they are willing to go to please.**

What’s making me smile:  Reaching 2,000,000 visitors. I wrote about this yesterday. It is quite an achievement. Not so much the number, but what it means: I have persevered as a writer.

*Due to a slight lisp/stutter, my dictation device routinely transcribes ‘Las Vegas’ as ‘Lost Vegas’. I used to correct this, now I leave it as it is as a charming parapraxia.

**Lest the APA Secret Police be reading this, I have never never ever propositioned a pharm rep, nor have any suggested such. Thems in charge at Pfizer et. al. haven’t figured out the nice-looking lady representatives aren’t influencing my prescription patterns that way. So much for their judgment.

What’s top of my mind: My health. I present have something and I don’t know what it is exactly. It feels like a bad head cold: body aches; mild warmth/fever; a congested head. No fun, this. I don’t think it is covid19 for I have no lung symptoms and I can smell and taste things. Chances are it is merely bad allergies and fatigue. To add insult to injury, my lower left back muscles are still in a tight spasm, making getting up painful. I am in bad shape.


Where I’ve been: The back parking lot at the MESA office. It’s that time of the year when the ardent heat of the Arizona sun heats cars so hot touching the steering wheel is difficult. I realized if I park in the back and not the front, the buildings block the sunshine and the car isn’t so bad. I have to walk around to get to it, but it is worth it. While everyone clamors to get the sunny spaces out front, I am more or less alone in the back. I should have thought of this years ago.


Where I’m going: A meeting with The Good Investor. This Wednesday morning we have an appointment with The Good Investor. He’s managed our ML funds for decades and we are overdue for a general check-in. Much of our savings are down, which is to be expected. In difficult times, we generally take the ‘wait and watch’ approach, and I suspect TGI will advise us to stay the course. Traditionally we would fly to Chicago for a long weekend and meet with him over a fancy paid-for lunch on The Magnificent Mile, but those were happier times. Today’s meeting is a zoom appointment. No fun, that.


What I’m watching: A rainy day in Somerset England. I enjoy putting on background ‘nature’ videos. I recently found one consisting of a rainy day in some place called Somerset, England. In the distance is stands a tower called The Glastonbury Tor. I listen to the sonorous sound of rain falling on the trees while I write my notes. I should look it up its history for the Tor thing looks ancient.

Has anyone been to Somerset England and seen this sight?


What I’m reading: Letters. Proper letters, handwritten and popped in the post, are rare gems and I recently received not one but two of them. Hot puppies! Both are from blogger buddies. I haven’t read them yet, as I want to make a proper time and setting in which to read these lovelies, carefully and with respect – preferably with a hot cup of tea. Tea and letters make a delightful combination. At the moment I can imagine no better.


What I’m listening to: Treatment options for refractory depression. What can you do with a case of depression that is still active despite time and treatments? There’s a bunch of options. First, you have to determine if there isn’t some other condition active and getting in the way. Second, you need to deduce if the case really is ‘refractory’ or just not ideally treated. Although there are various options to address a so-so response to treatment, the literature is surprisingly not clear which route to take. This is both frustrating and a comfort. The nice part: the patient and I can decide what’s best to do/try next, not some algorithm determined by an insurance company.


What I’m eating: Chicken Soup. Last weekend I made soup using a nearly picked over chicken carcass along with whatever vegetables were past their prime. The soup came out very well, considering all the ingredients were leftovers. I was pleased with my frugality and my industry. When I make soup, I am up to my oxters in amount. You could feed a charity kitchen off of my makings. I will freeze some for later.


Who needs a good slap: The inventor of the voice-activated telephone menus. The Medical Assistant told me I had to call some bean-counter to go over a case. I called the 1-800 number and was connected to one of those tedious ‘Welcome to our program, listen carefully for our options have changed” recordings. I jumped through the hoops to get to the person who wanted the call. Before connecting me, the voice asked me if I would be interested in participating in a post-conversation survey of my experience. I said yes. “OK”, it said cheerfully, “I will connect you to your party”. I was then placed on hold for about ten minutes. Then I heard ‘action’ – but it wasn’t to the bean counter. It was to the survey. “Welcome to your post-conversation survey’ it chirped. “Please rank us 0-10 how likely are you to recommend us?” I replied ‘0’. It asked me ‘why’. I left a terse message the ‘0’ was based on the highly unsatisfactory experience of being placed on hold and then dumped.

On my 1-5 scale, I give for two slaps, press 1; for three slaps, press 2.


What I’m planning: Macaroni Salad. Every Memorial Day I make me a big tub of macaroni salad, and not just any sort but a proper no-rubbish type. Gone are the Midwestern church picnic types I grew up with, dismal elbow macaroni in mayonnaise with not much else. I have a capital recipe. Last year I bungled by using a whole-grain pasta on the delusional grounds of making it healthier. This worked as it didn’t taste very good so I didn’t eat much of it.


What’s making me smile: A surprise package in the post. Patience above! Travel Penguin and Wicked Hamster (the dears!) sent me a package, out of the blue, for no reason other than he was thinking of me. It is full up with Spo-delights of books and items from their trip to Iceland. The Yule Cat ornament is especially nice as every time I hang it on the tree I will think of these two ersatz Yule Lads who gave it to me.

What’s top of my mind: Summer plans. There’s a lot I wish to do, particularly traveling. Some of the pleasure trips rests on clarifying when I ought to go to Michigan for my turns at visiting and caretaking Father. I need to get these in place. Afterwards, I need to get Someone to sit down with me to plan what we can do/afford to do as traveling being expensive. We have an elderly dog to consider. How long/far can we go with her at the boarding place? Many variables to consider.


Where I’ve been: Costco.
I went last Sunday afternoon and I went alone. Oh the horror. If Mr. Dante were alive today he’d put this scenario in his Inferno, perhaps between levels 2 and 3. With that said it wasn’t too hellish. It was a sort of game of trying to maneuver around the shoppers with their oversized carts to get from A to B without ructions. Costco sells things in bulk. We now have enough paper towel and bathroom tissue to last a life time. I also got a tankful of Tide detergent, enough to wash our clothes until Christmas, which is good that I don’t have to return to their vast halls any time soon. As a treat, I brought home one of their broiled chickens, you know the ones, the birds they glaze with some unidentified addicting habit-forming substance. We’ve been eating off this bird for a few meals. I will use the carcass to make stone soup.


Where I’m going: The Good Dentist. This afternoon I see The Good Dentist for a routine check up. I hope he tells me all is good. I’ve been procrastinating going back to the oral surgeon to get a replacement tooth for the back molar that was pulled in early 2020 prior to the shut down. Getting a replacement will be time-consuming and quite costly; I often wonder if it is is worth it. Thanks to my journals, I was able to look up and recall the name of my bouncy young dental hygienist* so I can go in greet him today by name. He is a dear well over four feet. He makes me feel eighty years old.


What I’m watching: The cement pond. Last weekend it developed an emerald green coating around its edges and on the steps going down into the deep end. That ain’t good! I gave the thing a good scrubbing with a stiff brush not unlike toothbrushing. Then I “shocked” it with a bag of nasty chemicals that made me asphyxiate but it seemed to clear the waters up. Once algae appears it can be a challenge to keep from returning. Jenny Greenteeth will be quite cross I cleaned her abode so. I must remember to swim with the light on so she doesn’t drag me down to my doom for my industry.


What I’m reading: ‘Stuck between two bad options? You need to ‘knock the flagpole down”.
This funny saying is based upon a real-life contentious debate about flying flags on a certain pole. No compromise could be made. The impasse was solved as it were when someone (accidently or intentionally) backed up into the thing and knocked it down. Problem solved. The gist of the article is trying to get people to look at other solutions than “mine or yours”. When we’re stuck between two bad options, our mindsets become fixed. We think: These are the only options. And then we stop getting creative. But of course, there are always more options. When we knock the figurative flagpole down, we are clearing out space to see beyond our problems. We are giving ourselves permission to take action, rather than to simply settle.


What I’m listening to: “Castle in Spain”. This is a Disney tune from ‘Babes in Toyland” I don’t remember the movie much, but I remember the song, for as a boy I had a LP record. Later in life during my dancing days (circa the 90s) “Castle in Spain” was often played in dance class as the students learned to tango. In my innocent days, I had no clue to the economic references in its lyrics. It’s actually a nasty capitalistic song but jolly good fun to dance to. When I hear it, I can almost remember how to tango.


What I’m eating: A doughnut. To be specific, a chocolate doughnut with chocolate glaze. It’s been months since I had anything like this. In celebration of my lab work (see below) I thought I would ‘celebrate” with a sugar-fried cake of death. Oh the horror; oh the euphoria. After months of ‘no sugar” this tasted obscenely sweet and not in a nice way. It was sort of like one note really loud, with no nuance. On the other hand the dissolution of the dough and the taste of chocolate came together in my mouth like The Wonder Twins to make a scrumptious euphoria. Funny though I don’t see myself wanting to do much sweets anymore. I’ve grown accustomed to the ‘no sugar’ taste of food. I can live without it.**


Who needs a good slap: Thems who run the stoplights at entrance ramps to highways. Most of the ‘on-ramps” in Phoenix have two lane merging into one, each with its own red/green light to make people enter the highway one at a time, every other car. Cars often run through these, not even bothering to slow down in a show of feigned compliance. It is a simple case of folks breaking the law as they know no one is looking and they can get away with it. I’ve been honked at from behind for following the law and stopping at the red light for my turn to go. I wonder about these folks who break the law because they know they can. What else do they do? Steal from work? Cheat at their taxes or their spouses? I define integrity as doing the Right Thing even when no one is looking.

On my 1-5 rating scale, I give 2 slaps.


What I’m planning: An outrage. I am rather shocked at this, but when I thought out the question this is what popped up. Sort of like Tolkein saying out of nowhere he wrote on a blank piece of paper “In a hole in the ground live a hobbit”. Now where did that come from? Possibly The Skanks or someone like them. When I think of ‘outrage’ I think of the Monty Python line to ‘set fire to some public building” or the voice of Binky The clown advising you about your boots to through them out the window. I’ve been oh so conventional these days; perhaps a bit of outrage would be good. Perhaps I could run a red light on the on-ramp?


What’s making me smile: My latest lab work. Happy Joy! I am pleased as Punch to announce my non-pharmaceutical interventions of diet and exercise were adequate to normalize my labs. There is no sugar in the urine and my fasting glucose is 93. No metformin for me! The Good Doctor was pleased too. My PSA was OK too. My viral load came back again at non-detectable, which has been the case for so long I don’t remember when last it wasn’t. So it looks like I am sailing into my sixties relatively in good shape.

*Jason

**With that said for my birthday in July I plan on making love to a big bag of Gummi-bears.

What’s top of my mind: Breathing. During the day I continually check in on my breathing as well, for when excited/worried/working etc. I tend to take short shallow unconscious breaths – when I am breathing at all. I pause to close my eyes, sit or stand straight, and take in a couple of better breaths: deep, slow, quiet, and from the abdomen. Whenever there is an impediment like waiting for a call or the computer to come up, rather than fretting I see these times as opportunities for a few deep breaths. This does me a world of good.


Where I’ve been: The living room.
This sounds odd, so let me explain. La Casa de Spo is sort of “H-shaped” with the two wings, east and west. In the middle is a hallway and a large open space, divided into two areas: the dining room and the formal sitting room. Neither one of us ever uses this area, not even to sit. Someone does his sitting in the the ‘family room” in the west and I like the comfy chair in the master bedroom in the east. Once in awhile I go to the living room to dust, as it gets thick in there from lack of use. On the positive, the couch and chairs are nearly new. In my next house I don’t want one so large it has useless rooms.


Where I’m going: ‘Costco’ Sooner I’d eat Rats at Tewkesbury than go to Costco on a weekend, so I will go near closing time on the weekday. I want to buy some protein powder* and we are running low on toilet paper. I hope by now thems that shop at Costco aren’t lunatics about the latter and there will be some available. My cousin tells me Costco has the best wieners – or is it pizza? – which sounds suspicious as Costco and haute cuisine sound incompatible. While there I am get one of their chickens. These are good for a few meals and the carcass makes an excellent base for stone soup.


What I’m watching: The post. I ordered some coffee beans from my favorite beanery, Spring-heeled Jack coffee. All their beans sound morbid, but they get rave reviews by thems at work who drink the stuff. Thanks to my making proper coffee (no rubbish types) I’ve been authorized at work as Coffee Master. Oh the horror. This is a lofty title indeed for someone who prefers tea (also no rubbish). Back to the beans, I’ve order something called The Hessian:


What I’m reading: “When medical myths outlast the evidence”. You will be shocked to know doctors don’t always change their approaches in the light of new data that negates their long-time beliefs and practices. MDs, despite their protestations they are rationale thinkers, are still human and they tend to stick to their experiences rather than change. I suppose I am no different that the great minds of Psychiatry repeatedly tell me there is little if any evidence to support adding an antidepressant medication to a case bipolar-type depression, yet thirty years of clinical experience tells me this often work/helps. I am continually aware of the evolution of Medicine to discard so-called dogmas. If I didn’t, I would be diagnosing women as hysterics and treating OCD types with psychoanalysis.*


What I’m listening to: ‘Enemy Slayer – A Navajo Oratorio’. I go regularly to concerts. Once in a while, there is a performance that sticks in my memory, something extraordinary that is almost numinous. Years ago I attend the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra that did a world premiere of piece about a young Navajo man’s journey to war as a G.I. and his descent into PTSD and madness and his ascent back to his tribe. The audience were told it was being recorded and please hold the applause at the end for editing sake. It was an extraordinary piece of music and the energy in the audience was high. It was one of the few time I actually leapt up to do a standing ovation. Nowadays everyone stands for everything and we applaud singers for clearing their throats. I have a recording of this music; it reminds me of that marvelous night and I was there.


What I’m eating: Eggs and things. I recently heard a two hour-long lecture on nutrition and working out. It reminded me in order to ‘gain bulk’ I must have extra protein, not just ‘enough to function”. I am not a fan of protein drinks so I need to eat my protein. I like eggs, so I am eating a few each day (sometimes without the yolk) mostly in hardboiled form. I have plenty of lovely salty toppings to apply to them. At the moment Zehnder’s from Frakenmuth, MI is my favorite, for it tastes like chicken dinners at Christmas time. Another one I use is ‘Arizona Habanero’ which is basically dried habaneros and salt. Oh the pain.

Hot puppies!


Who needs a good slap: I suppose the most likely candidate this week is the villain who invited the credit card device at counters or in restaurants, the type that ends not with ‘Do you want to leave a tip?” but how much tip do you want to leave? There are usually four choices, the lowest is 20% and the highest is 35%. There is no easy option to leave less or none at all (in favor of paper money). One feels cornered as the waiter is watching and I feel sheepish to ask how do I negate the tip option.

On my 1-5 rating scale, I give the inventor three slaps (and no tip).


What I’m planning: A trip to Goodwill. On my weekend list of ‘there’s-work-to-be-done” chores is locate the nearest Goodwill store and Grinch-like haul my goods up Mt. Krumpit to dump it. I have heaps. I hear tell Goodwill has grown snippy as to donations. I wonder if I can drop things of surreptitiously like a foundling baby or a box of kittens.


What’s making me smile: A card in the post. Ron (the dear!) sent me a card. In it he writes:

Sometimes it bears saying again. I appreciate your friendship.

It made my week. Thank you, Ron.

*If it is too expensive, I will throw up my hands in disgust and exclaim ‘No whey!”

**After centuries of seeing hysteria as a valid diagnosis we no longer see female symptoms due to wandering uteruses, and psychoanalysis has been shown to be no good for OCD, yet once upon a time it was THE treatment for such. Handwashing, as everyone knows, is really a subconscious acting out of guilt for being angry about having desires to kill your father. Just look how long it took to remove homosexuality from the manual as a psychiatric illness in need of treatment.

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.

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.

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