What’s worse: no blog entry or a bad blog entry?

I’ve been staring at the blank laptop screen waiting for The Muses or somebody like them to show up and provide me with something anything to get me started on my Sunday edition of rolling down grass hills. I might as well be waiting for Godot.  Nothing is coming to mind. I thought if I turned off all the gadgets and sat in some silence I would receive a theophany.  Nichts.

I could write “How I spent my Sunday” which was mostly tidy up and home work. How exciting is that?  The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections doesn’t believe in tidy up anyway let along it being the topic of a blog entry.  Today I managed to get to the gym and I stopped by the pharmacy as my meds were in.

I can imagine it is right about here Spo-fans are going to Mitchell is Moving or Practical Parsimony.  Oh the embarrassment.

The Cosmic Calendar reminds me this is “the week before vacation’. This means of course I am going to be up to my oxters in work for the gods do not let me go on holiday without paying for it. The Other Doctor probably will be out this week for his wife has been ill. This means ‘covering’ for him. I am glad to do so (especially as he covers for me in two weeks) but that means even more work. I fear blog reading – and entry writing – will be sparse in the upcoming week.

My one card Tarot spread from Urspo’s deck of Wicked Cards is the Page of Swords, which is short for ‘don’t bother’.  Oh the pain.

I have still many tasks to do before I retire, so I bid you all adieu and please be patient something more entertaining is sure to happen soon.  I take comfort in a week’s time  I will be in the faraway kingdom of Palm Springs with all the time in the world and no lack of topics.  Nothing like a gathering of buddies to provide entertainment and blog fodder. Until then it’s batten down the hatches and try not to cry.


Let’s start this painful entry with the recognition of the axiom no one of worth ever calls us on our landline.  There are a few exceptions of course (like my Mother) but these are rare as white blackbirds in hell.  When the phone rings – especially between 6PM-10PM  – it is invariably a fundraiser holding out their hands for my money.  I never pick up the phone but let it go to the machine. Invariably there is a hang up, which confirms my suspicions.

Why on earth Someone does the opposite is anyone’s guess. If the phone ring he picks it up. I hear the silent pause from the other room as he is listening to the start of a sales pitch. In a frigid but polite voice he tells them no thank you, not interested, and he hangs up. I conclude this painful ritual with stating  once again I don’t understand why he bothers.

Once in a while I break my word and pick up the phone – like I just did prior to writing this entry. The phone was right next to me, and if I let it go to machine, I will have to get up and go into the other room to erase the beeping message, so it was easier to pick up and hang up.  As predicted I said hello and there was a quiet pause, then a young sounding girl said hello my name is Candy* and I represent The Judean Peoples Front.  Before she goes any further I hung up.

Someone thinks I am rude this way viz. hanging up without saying a word or no thank you. I admit I do have guilt given my upbringing  that says never be ill-mannered or stoop to rudenes.  At least I didn’t shout at her like Brother #4, nor did I play crazy-mad as does Brother #3.  On rare occasion there is an evil urge in me to break their spirit and lead them on with inane questions while I work until they smell a rat and hang up on me.  I don’t succumb to this awfulness often I am glad to say. I try to remember the cat’s paw at the other end is probably some poor minion who can’t get any other work and hates calling knowing they will become imbedded in a morass of gunge while a nasty supervisor breathes down their neck to put out.

I thought there was some sort of law once that kept away these villains but apparently it is not so. I am all for taking the phone off the hook but Someone worries we will miss something important. I cannot remember when (if ever) this worst case scenario last happened.

I suppose this irksome matter is not a big deal.  Perhaps telemarketer calls would not be so tedious they were cushioned by real people and pleasant phone calls.  I remember once the time when a ringing phone evoked anticipatory delight and not dread. Phone calls at home have gone the way of snail mail and the ringing of the door bell. Rather than being portends of visitation they are instructions. I would rather not be bothered.



*The name has been changed to protect the innocent.


Last night my parents called to wish me/us a happy anniversary. Mother even remembered the number of years (21). They are thoughtful dears, my parents.  We didn’t remember it ourselves, only until later that morning when Someone texted me to remind me of the date.  Mother is the type of person who remembers everyone’s birthday and anniversary – good for her!  I try to do likewise.  I used to know everyone’s nativity day by heart; nowadays I rely more on external reminders like Facebook.

In my family birthdays and anniversaries are mostly in the spring and summer months, although the next generation of Spos have theirs in the autumn months – much to my chagrin as these dates seem less easily memorized. Brother #3 tactfully put everyone’s birthday and anniversaries onto the family photo calendar. Good for him! Curiously no one has a birthday between January through March.  I feel sorry for Nephew #3 whose birthday is 27 December. It must be a let down to have one’s birthday so soon after Christmas.

Urs Truly was born on the seventh day of the seventh month at 7AM but in no good year to get me in Ripley’s believe it or not. The paternal cousins were born 9/9, 10/10, and 12/12. They find it amazing each year I remember their birthdays but how can I not given that run of double digits? The maternal cousins have all theirs in November and December. They are all Sagittarians.  I like Sagittarians; you can trust them.

Spos somehow managed to arrange several ‘double dates” to cut down on the number of cards to purchase and calls to make.  Brother/SIL #2 got married on Father’s birthday, Nephew #3 was born on the parent’s anniversary. At least two SILs share their birthdays with uncles. I suppose with so many SILs and so many uncles this is not too surprising.

Spo-reflections soon has its birthday although I always need to look it up, for I get it confused with my main man Charles Dicken’s birthday. The two dates are off by one day. In hindsight I should have connected the dots and started ,y blog on Charlie’s day but it’s too late.

For years I thought Gustav Mahler and I were born exactly 100 years apart making us somehow linked their time and cosmos but later on I realized I miscalculated (or was it merely wishful thinking? It is really 102 years. This is a disappointment. I decided not to count two years of my life when I was in residency training to get it back to a century. So there.




Once in a while I sit across the desk from a long time patient with again active symptoms who is looking to me to ‘do something’ despite years of treatments and interventions. What on earth is next to do? For these types, I have my ‘cheat sheets’ to consult. I sometimes make a handwritten timeline summary on a patient. This allows me to see at a glance all that has gone before. These papers are time-consuming to compose but they have come to the rescue on many occasion. Thanks to them I can make logical recommendations rather than resort to micromanagement or (worse) random treatment proposals.

Once in a while I go through the ‘active’ pile of cheat sheets to realize some patients have dropped out. Those not seen in over twelve months I move their cheat sheets to the ‘inactive’ folder. I never through them away. Some folks will come back, sometimes years later. The majority who go to the inactive file do not come back.  As I tidy up the folder, I often wonder what happened and why they didn’t return.  Patients drop out all the time in Medicine in general. I don’t know if this is more or less the same in psychiatry as in other specialties, nor have I the data to know if this happens more or less than me compared to my fellow wizards.

There are many possible reasons why patients drop out/don’t return:


A move

Insurance (a loss or change thereof).

A dissatisfaction with me or the clinic.

They got better.

Whatever the reasons the inactive pile members makes me wonder. Since these patients were long timers and challenging too nearly all of them come quickly back to my memory. Some I remember they told me moved away; some I know have died.

The patients who have died are the ones that evoke the most thought. Many of the inactive ones were old, sickly, and didn’t take care of themselves. People with mental illness tend to not live as well or as long as people without such conditions.  I am seldom privy to the reasons how and why they died. The news of their deaths mainly come from a relative’s telephone message Joe isn’t coming in anymore as he died last month.  Sometimes I am told via an ominous fax from the county medical examiner office; they have Joe’s body and please supply the latest progress notes to help them with their inquest.

A patient’s death evokes all sorts of emotions, including anxiety of  a possible suicide. Most patients I see are at some risk for such. I think I can speak for most psychiatrists when a patient commits suicide the doctor wonders had they missed something or should they had done things differently. Truth is when a patient in intent of killing themselves nearly nothing can stop them.

Regardless of the cause of the transfer from ‘active’ to the ‘inactive’ status each one makes me wonder I my endeavors made a difference. Mind, some of these patients were with me for years, if not a decade. It was my task to be with them on their Journey, if only for a little while, hopefully better for my contributions. I never know – and I seldom if ever get a thank you either. I have to take some satisfaction in knowing I tried my best.

Note – I wrote this Monday afternoon waiting for customers who did not show.

For some time now I have been staring at the computer screen with its blank “Word” page and thinking strong thoughts to the cursor ‘Move! Put out something witty, profound, and entertaining!” Alas it is to no avail. The Muses are silent. They are no doubt outside enjoying our ‘first day of spring” for it is 78F and clear as a bell. A pleasant breeze is blowing. I can’t blame them for strolling about rather than implant ideas into the inner-compartments of my insula.

Last week The Personal Trainer lowered my calories allowance about the same time The Good Doctor lowered the definition for controlled high blood pressure. Overnight I’ve becoming a problem medical case with an appalling diet. Perhaps there is a correlation here, not so much cause and effect but two people nagging me to be better than I already am. What was considered ‘good enough’ is now considered in needs of reform.  I am all for self-improvement but sometimes I feel I am a sinking ship with no freight to throw overboard.  I can’t get any more virtuous and if I did someone no doubt will deem it still not good enough.

I suppose I could stand to lose some weight and less hypertension has its merits. I am a good boy and do as I am told. I will lay off the extra carbs, and eat more protein*, and up the dose of the metropolol and see what happens. I don’t think I will obtain apotheosis or nirvana but maybe I will look less of a walrus for Palm Springs when I remove my Spo-shirt. After all there is nothing like vanity to put a some fire under your achterwerk.



*TPT says I am to consume 150g of protein daily. Can you imagine?

I recently heard a study which doesn’t bode well for mankind but it does explain a few things. You may have noticed when you try to talk to people who don’t hold your views they are at ‘deaf’ to your opinions and become bellicose.  A group of neurologists found a group of people with ‘strong religious and political beliefs” and put them in brain scan devices to watch what happens when the study-subjects are shown data that runs contrary to their convictions.  What lights up in their brains are not the frontal lobes (where higher thinking happens) but the primitive ‘lizard’ parts – the same areas that go haywire when you are suddenly threatened with bodily harm.  In other words, the flight or fight mechanisms kick in. Hearing facts that question your convictions on global warming, evolution, and religious beliefs etc. elicit the same emotions as if being attacked by large nasty animal.  Ones Self is felt to be under attack.

Oh the horror.

This grim finding makes it nearly impossible to have rationale and logical conversations with thems who have strong views.  In their view, questioning an opinion is no different than attacking them with a sharp stick. Picking away at a conviction is sensed as bringing down the whole house, not just fixing the faucet.

In this study the neurologists don’t propose how to talk to your anti-vaccine auntie or your tedious uncle who gets all his news from Fox.  They seem to suggest it is best not to talk to them at all lest things end in hysterics or fisticuffs.

I think the solution is to stop linking ideas to our sense of self so when a belief is shown to be faulty it won’t wipe us out.  Also, we as a society need to stop the stigma on ‘being wrong’.  If we could be supportive of each other when one says ‘you know, I thought ‘A’ but now I see I was wrong, it’s ‘B’ really” we would not be so fearful to admit a change and mistake.  If I hear any more on this I will post again.

I am not one to pack for a trip the night before. I start packing as it were weeks ahead of time. What I mean by this is not the no-brainer items like Spo-shirts and blood pressure medications, but the more esoteric items I would like to bring but I am likely to forget in the frenzy of packing. This is both being a good Boy Scout viz. ‘Be prepared’ and being cheap viz. I have these at home so bring them rather than got out and buy new ones.

Plus it’s jolly good fun.

Between now and two weeks hence I will be sitting and minding my business only to have a sudden theophany of sorts to bring X, or Y, or Z.  I will pull up the ‘Palm Springs” list on the phone and write it down.  A few days before departure I gather them all up.

Here are a few of them for your amusement.


imagesA cribbage board.  I enjoy the game although I don’t play it regularly to remember all the rules. It would be delightful to sit pool-side with an iced tea and try to recall how it’s done and play. I remember counting  has a chant to it: ’15-1, 15-2’; I remember the expression ‘skunk’.  If I get stuck I can always call Mother, who never loses and more often than not skunks Father. I know this as he remonstrates about both in my phone calls home.


Beads.  We realized we will be in Palm Springs at Mardi Gras.  This is not a major holiday for Urs Truly but Someone has a huge collection of purple, green, and yellow beads, enough to don the whole resort.  Why the hell not?


teacupProper Tea.  I’ve come to the conclusion one can not get a decent cup anywhere in California.  The morning coffee at our resort  provides copious amounts of alleged good coffee but what passes for tea is quisquillious dust bits in little white bags. Oh the horror.  A third to half of our coterie are tea drinkers so I can count on DougT and Leon AKA The Wild One bringing decent stuff but I should contribute as well.  Happily I have plenty.

Lens Wipes.   One the counter in the laundry room we have a pannier of moist towelettes for wiping down the spectacles and the iPhones.  It is amazing how sticky/dirty these surfaces get.  Ours are in constant need of a wipe. Grab a handful and keep a few nearby.  One never knows where those grubby fingers were last were.


Some demon or dastardly Muse got hold of The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections for they got wind of the notion of giving “The State of the Union” address. They’ve decided to do one. I received via certified carrier raven a scroll filled up with Board-reflections. It’s hard to read; there are tell-tale signs it was written by several hands. Many of the runes have been crossed out and new ones written in on the sidelines.  Someone seems to have spilled ink or mead on the third page making the writing unreadable. I think in the next Board meeting I will introduce to them word processing – and the concept of editing.

Here are the highlights Spo-fans may find amusing.  I’ve eliminated the name-calling and dangling particples.*

Food entries get an A+. These entries bring in lots of traffic and comments, as do suggestive titles that lure in the naïf and curious and the wicked old screws.

TBDHSR seem unanimous they loath the categories “Wicked words” and “Walking the dog”, possibly as they can’t pronounce “W” words well. Entries titled

“Spo-reflections on ……” make them sit up to see if I am going to be maudlin or profound, which they consider ‘poison at the box-office”.

They enjoy entries with pretty pictures and photos, especially of people hitting each other. They do not like ones with half-clad gentleman but they grudgingly admit they bring in the hits so they are passing on this one.

I am told to cease and desist the following Spo-isms:

 Tewksbury rats.

References to people’s height.

Activities involving grass-hills.

Oh the (fill in the blank) !

They like the word ‘thems’ as it has an ersatz-Old English tone and it reminds them(s) of their youth.

There was a unanimous decision (based the thumbprints in blood) under no circumstances am I to post any more entries with poetry. This is a disappointment for I like a good poem.  Before they connect the dots here is a video. The contents are quite apropos for today’s USA paranoid politics – and the poem reminds me of the Board.  Enjoy.


* I will tell you one exception: apparently my sobriquet around the office is “Troll-breath”.  I am not certain if this is funny or sad.

I need to stop writing blog entries at work.  I write something half-baked then the workday begins. By the end of the day I forget to post or place it at WordPress.com for later editing and completion. This hummingbird-brain activity parallels my propensity to consume beverage glasses half-way and leave a trail of them throughout the house. Oh the embarrassment.  Somehow I managed to ‘save’ this one and finish it now hear at home while I eat a peeled grapefruit.


Someone at work (not Someone) dropped off some grapefruit. The brown plastic bag is bulging as if stuffed with rocks. But these are not rocks; they are yellow grapefruit, each the size of a grapefruit.* Happy joy!

‘Tis the season hohoho when everyone in Phoenix with citrus trees has a sudden overabundance of homegrown citrus fruit.  Alas, the lemons and oranges etc. all come out at once and everyone has surpluses.  Bags of produce are thrust upon you or dumped on porches like a litter of unwanted kittens.

Every year I look forward to this annual treat for I have no citrus tree and I love grapefruit. Between now and mid February I will eat 1-2/day. I eat them with relish. The sudden initiation of regular grapefruit in the diet often causes some GI upset and (worse) cold sores but it is worth the price of admission to ride the tilt-o-whirl known as feasting on free fresh fruit.

In my youth grapefruits were quite tart and acidic; table sugar was required to make them palatable. Not so nowadays. Grapefruit seem to get sweeter with every year. I don’t know if this is me or the fruit. Whether due to farming evolution or an alternation in my taste buds I am glad for the improvement.

I wish I had some way to throw some of them through a time-hole into July and August when they would be more appreciated.  Alas, one has to gobble them up before they go bad and one develops taste fatigue for them. I suppose I could juice’em and freeze’em for some distant day, but I am not a big ‘juice’ drinker – unless we are talking Salty Perro cocktails** and even then I go light.

I suppose there is nothing more to say on the subject. There is nothing witty or profound about a grapefruit but they do give me a mild satisfaction.  Excuse me as I go get some handi-wipes to clean off the keyboard or there will be hell to pay with Someone. ***


*This is a bit of medical humor. Tumors are often described as as big as a lemon or a big as a grapefruit. No one knows why.

**A combination of grapefruit juice, tequila, tonic water, dash of bitters poured over ice served in a salt-rimmed glass.  Jolly good fun!

***Someone does not like grapefruit. Can you imagine?


A few weeks hence Someone and I pack up our glamor and drive The Precious to Palm Springs for the annual winter holiday. This year we will be joined by two other couples . [1] There will be a special guest appearance by Mr. Fearsome Beard himself.  I am pleased as Punch.  Every year I turn more into my mother who considers sitting pool side reading books and talking to others while sipping Diet Pepsi the best way to spend a holiday. [2]   The coterie is on its own to entertain itself while Urs Truly is ensconced in his beach chair channeling his mother.  This is fine until evening arrives and supper plans are proposed. Then a crepuscular transformation then occurs.

Most of the members of this merry group originate from the Midwest.  Can you imagine a bunch of Midwesterners trying to make dinner plans?  For thems not familiar with Midwesterners, let me explain. Midwesterners feel uncomfortable plainly asserting their desires or opinions lest they be looked upon as bossy.  The usual ritual of making dinner plans is a combination of indirect speech acts and deflections. The dialogue is a predictable as a train on an open track; I know every stop, every junction along its way and the precise time it will roll majestically into the station:

Someone [3]  says out loud “Where does everybody want to go to dinner?”  Out of politeness people then ask each other what the other wants;  in turn the recipient replies “Oh I don’t know” or “Why don’t you decide” or “Oh, anywhere at all is fine with me”.  I’ve gone on holiday with some of these guys for years so I know what happens next. After a few rounds of this rondel it results in Urs Truly taking charge and making the decision. [4]  By now the usual ritual is discarded and people look immediately towards me as Dinner-Master.  I remonstrate the same protest why the hell should I always be the one to make the dinner decisions, which is met with “Oh, you I do it so well” and/or “It’s why you’re here”.

Noblesse Oblige.

I suppose it is a complement my pals unconsciously and unanimously vote for my continuation as Timekeeper, Whistleblower, and Referee.  Perhaps they are just more Midwestern than I; perhaps my years living in Arizona has made me more of a bossy-boots.  Maybe I just happen to remember all the swell eats in town thanks to my journaling. [5]  Whatever the reasons I put on my proverbial cruise director cap and dial for reservations.


So every day in Palm Springs I wait for the 4PM incantation “So, what shall we do about dinner”. This year I might save time and energy by immediately quipping  “Tonight we are going to Copleys that’s what. Dinner at 8.”  It would at least save the time. Less time for playing Midwest tag and more time to have another highball.


[1] Fine lads all – and well over four feet.

[2] I differ from my mother I will be drinking highballs.

[3] Not necessarily Someone but someone.  He knows this game too well to start it. He too is from the Midwest.

[4] I immediately start to worry about everyone liking the dinner choice. My inner-Midwesterner will take it personally if someone is dissatisfied with dinner, and it will have to take personal responsibility if the restaurant screws up. Really.  This is why Midwesterners never want to take charge and make a group decision –  he who does so must do likewise. Oh the pain.

[5] Perhaps they are all a bunch of lazy-louts.


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