I never go online to read what is written there about me.  I suspect there is some (a lot?) of negative reviews. In general, people go online to rate doctors when they are unhappy, which makes Yelp reviews etc. biased towards the complainers.  I cannot rebuke and clarify* matters as it breaks confidentiality. Lately I haven’t gone online to see the news either. Only recently I heard about the bad weather in Texas and Mr. Cruz in Mexico.**  Thanks to my avoidance of social media I wasn’t aware Mr. Limbaugh had died. *** 

As I write this, the sun is shining and it is 18C (mid-60s F).  When I don’t’ go onto the internet, life is quiet and pleasant – my life anyway.  The question arises: am I being sensible not going online looking for things or am I deluding myself?  Am I better off knowing what might be said of my online?  If there is a lot of negative reviews online, I see no evidence my business suffers for it.  New patients have to wait weeks, sometimes months, for an appointment with me. 

I always ask new patient ‘how did you find me or this place?”. Many say their GPs sent them (code: their doctors are happy with me to send me more patients) or they read something ‘good online about me’.  Word of mouth seems good enough to keep me gainfully employed, surpassing what may be written in the doctors reviews.

I will leave you with this charming vignette. I once asked the usual question and I got this response: The patient explained he had gone online to get the address where I work only to be taken right to a doctor review site. He states he read a review saying I was

‘Distant, pompous, arrogant, and godlike”

He explained: since he’s heard from his loved ones he is all that, I must be the right doc for him.  I was deeply touched by this complimentary thunderbolt. However, I stopped wearing to work the helmet and the eye patch.

 

*‘He did not listen to me’ is often code for someone wanted controlled substances and I would not give them.

**I like to go online and give Mr. Cruz a negative review. Stirge. 

***Can we say this is God’s will, and it was his own damn fault for his lifestyle choices? 

The Muses et. al. went to Palm Springs leaving me with nothing wise nor witty upon which to write,

so I thought I would write what came in the post the other day.     Spo

 

There is nothing like receiving a package in the post. Mr. Bezo (the dear!) recently sent me a box of all sorts of items. That was nice of him, considering I ordered them only recently.  Yesterday’s post had four lovelies:

iPhone cover.  I’ve dropped my iPhone enough times the cover resembles a cracked windshield. When I wipe it little sharp shards get imbedded in my finger, evoking thoughts (and moods) of Kay in “The Snow Queen”.  Someone is more clever than I about these things (and he drops his phone less; he will install my new cover this evening.  Hot puppies!

Hot tub filter ring.  I cannot remember when I last had a look-see into the hot tub. Oh the horror. If there was a department of human services towards the neglect of hot tubs I would be rightfully arrested. The filter is supposed to be changed every season; do not ask when I last did so. The old one is so mushy it dissolved with a finger poke.  This weekend I plan to drain the swamp and replenish it with fresh water to go along with the new and sturdy filter. Perhaps then I will use it.

Gum syrup.  One of my YouTube boyfriends* extoled the virtue of gum syrup, which is a more complex simple syrup, to use in your cocktails, so I got some to try.  Yes, it is more nuanced; it has a slight botanical redolence – definitely more complex and better tasting than simple syrup – but will anyone tell in a cocktail?  Someone shall do a double blind study to see if I can tell a difference. There had better be, this stuff wasn’t cheap.

Girl scout cookies.  We ordered several boxes of this, that, and the other from my niece A.K.A Warrior Queen Jr.** I am up to my oxters in Girl Scout cookies neither one of us needs to eat but there they are now, on the shelf, sending out their siren songs. I will probably bring them to work to dump onto others.  Of course, when I ordered them, I asked “are the made with real girl scouts” which WQ Jr. hadn’t heard before.  Who manages her childhood I wonder? Brother #4, that’s who. He has neglected his duties to introduce her to The Addams Family.   Oh the horror.

 

 

*I regularly subscribe to several cooking courses on Youtube. I forget which one suggested gum syrup.  I get bedazzled easily.

**Not to be confused with Warrior Queen Sr., the blog-mate. She doesn’t sell cookies, alas.

 

The Firesign Theatre [1] had a comedy satire album about folks who believe in UFOs. The repeating statement was ‘everything you know is wrong!”  As I age, I realize this cheeky statement becomes more and more true. Everything I know is wrong.  Let me give you a recent example. I am reading “The Cooking Lab” whose author scrutinizes cooking techniques to discard rubbishy beliefs we inherited from our grandmothers and use what really works. [2] Last night I read soaking raw pasta in warm water for 15 minutes is good enough for a baked pasta recipe and there is no need to boil the stuff. I have never heard of such of thing and I am eager to try this next time I attempt a lasagna which has never worked thanks to the noodles matter.

I can never determine whether or not to feel outraged or relieved when another one of my ‘truths’ topples over like a statue during a political revolution.  Here are some examples from my childhood:

Santa Claus : outrage.

Red meat:  relief.

‘Your teachers and colleagues will always support you’: outrage.

‘There is something wrong with you’: first relief, later outrage.

Eggs – this one goes on/off the ‘everything you know is wrong’ chart. Doesn’t matter, as I love them so.

It seems most of my adulthood is unlearning the nonsense I was fed in my youth.  In science this isn’t ‘bad’ per se. Theories and facts change as more data is collected.  What I do for a living no way resembles what I did as a resident back in the early 90s. [3]

There is a difference between misinformation viz. information given in earnest that turns out to be false, such as you can always trust the police, versus disinformation, which is blatant rubbish and the speaker knows it, such as what comes out of the mouth of Kellyanne Conway.  One must always be skeptical of so-called truths presented as irrefragable.  As a boy, I naively trusted all grown ups as always telling the truth as they were always telling me how bad lying was. [4]

There seems to be a lesson here: question everything, and that includes Grandmother’s cooking techniques.

I am waiting on a few current dogmas to acheive ‘everything you know is wrong’ status, and I will be blithe to see them go. One or two of them I would gladly push off the pedestal. For the love of me I can’t think of an example right now, but when I do, I will tell you.

While it is uncomfortable not to have clear and set-in-concrete truths it does give me relief of being open to the advancement of truth even if I never quite achieves it.

Spo-fans: have you had a recent ‘everything you know is wrong!” to share ?

 

 

[1] The Firesign Theatre is a comedy troop from the late 60s/early 70s who should be better known. They used mostly auditory puns and repeating themes; they were the American “Monty Python”.  Their parodies on ‘film noir’ detective radio shows is worth the price of admission. If you don’t care for such, well, you’re no fun you fall right over.

[2] His lofty tome should be subtitled:  “Everything you know about cooking is wrong” .

[3] This falls into the ‘relief’ category.

[4] This whopper is almost beyond outrage.

Patience above! Mardi Gras is tomorrow, which means Ash Wednesday is this week and afterwards the season of Lent. Easter must be early this year. February this year is chock-full of holidays, what with The Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day last week.  I will skip Mardi Gras – again; it is a holiday I’ve never done. At most I would wear purple, green, and yellow beads to work (the one day I can get by wearing necklaces).  Although I have not been to Mass in over a year, I tend to follow the Lenten practice of toning things down. During Lent, my music and my eating becomes more austere. I like ‘giving something up’ and this year it may be Facebook. I think this ritual is supposed to come with a sense of deprivation but I admit ‘no FB’ sounds quite jolly and liberating.

I had a friend named Paula when I lived in Michigan who managed to make Lent quite festive. She was a vegetarian and she advocated this diet at any opportunity. During Lent she would make fabulous meatless table spreads for her Catholic friends (and anyone else).  These soy-based soirees took on the same feelings as Mardi Gras, although no one wore beads or exposed their chests.  I suspect someone complained to the local priests she was making Lent ‘fun” when it was supposed to be about ‘suffering’. I wonder what sort of pastoral advice was given to the snitch/theologian who was questioning Paula’s parties. The priests were probably nonplussed; this was a problem generally skipped over in divinity school. Then they  remembered the great Christian principle nothing needs reforming so much as other people’s habits and advised truth-seeker to askew and eat fish sticks like a good Catholic does on Fridays in Lent. Paula eventually stopped these shin-dings, not because the Ann Arbor chapter of The Spanish Inquisition showed up on her doorstep, but she grew tired from cooking and throwing such lavish parties every Friday.*  I still give up meat on Fridays during Lent, which is an old habit of mine. Like Paula I tend to make scrumptious veggie-based dinners which feel festive not frugal. Perhaps I am a closet convert after all. There are worse apostasy than giving up hamburger.

 

 

*I don’t recall she made any converts towards vegetarianism. Most of her disciples still got their honey-baked hams at Easter.

“It helps sometimes to be a little deaf” – Ruth Ginsberg

Social media is notorious at presenting a Potemkin village how one is and is doing. This often elicits in the reader a sense of inferiority, depression, and envy.  Comparing ones insides to another outsides always does this. In response to yesterday’s post I later worried a little I was giving the illusion we were ‘made for each other’ and all in our relationship is knee-deep in buttercups and daisies. It made me think about and write what makes a good enough relationship – and it isn’t euphoria and compatibility.

Not too long ago people married not because they thought ‘this would work’ but for other reasons, and it was hoped in time Love would grow, although this wasn’t a priority.  Nowadays people on their own to find a mate and they tend to marry others like themselves. Dating apps (I am told) try very hard match people to others nearly identical to each other. From a psychological point of view this can be hazardous. When two people are very much alike, the trivial differences between them they discover in time are likely to result in upset.

Finding a partner with whom you will be happy over a lifetime is a tough thing to evaluate when dating. It is arguably impossible do to through insight.* I don’t need to tell you many marriages do not last and they are often rejected because they didn’t stay how they were or the deficits were not improving.**

It is so obvious yet few people consciously realize when courting or exchanging rings not only is your partner going to be different in time, so will you. What you want now is not what you will want in twenty years. Overtime time you will drive each other to distraction. No matter how well you think you can chose someone, later on you will question your judgement. 

So what happens when Prince Charming later becomes King Not-so-charming?  One option is to call it quits and start with someone else. Many do and many should. I tend to think decades of effort is not something to throw away quickly.

Successful relations require both parties to be aware of these axioms and be resilient. You will not have a partner without flaws but you will need to discount your partner’s flaws – and laud their assets. Your mate needs to be allowed to go from being the one you want to wanting the one you are with. 

Yesterday I mentioned Someone’s biggest bane is I don’t listen/pay attention well. Despite two decades of failure and effort I still have to keep working on this. Yet he hasn’t told me to leave. I’ve come to the conclusion if I want the dryer lint trap emptied I will have to do it myself. It is a small price to pay really for walking into the sunset with Someone you love. 

 

*In “(I, Claudius) Augustus asks his wife Livia, who is arranging the family’s children’s marriages, about Claudius’ future wife. “Well, I feel sorry for her, does she know what’s she is getting?” to which Livia replies: “Do any of us?”.

 

**This used to be called ‘the hysterical-obsessive marriage” where two people, each with a deficit in their personalities, marries each  each other hoping this fulfills themselves. Later they break up because they are not fulfilled and the original charm is now looked upon with disdain. 

It is Valentine’s Day tomorrow and there is a meme on Facebook I thought I would try here. Feel free to copy such a play along.

Where you first met:  Key West, Florida

How did you meet:  At ‘happy hour’ at the resort we were attending. He was on a business trip; I was on my annual winter holiday. Neither one of us was looking for such.

First date: There are conflicting stories of what happened and when it did it happen. It is like “Roshomon” without the subtitles. 

How many years together: we met in 1997. I had to get out the calculator. Patience above! 24 years!  

Age difference: Someone is older by seven years. 24 years ago it seemed more important. As we age the gap decreases in significance. 

Who was interested first: Oh, I was. I was a moonstruck idiot. 

Who is taller: I am, although we are both well over four feet. 

Most obnoxious in-laws: Someone has no relations while I have dozens and most of them have untreated ADHD. They all like to keep in touch with us. Someone should have asked a few logical questions before saying ‘yes’.

Who said “I Love you”first:  I did. 

Worst temper: Neither one of us is ill tempered. I get cross at times. When Someone is angry/upset he broods. However, he ‘lets it rip’ in the car towards obnoxious drivers. My eyes cross at such awful language. 

Most sensitive:  Someone.

Most annoying habit: He would say it is my not paying attention/not listening. As for his worse habit, Someone seems incapable at cleaning out the dryer lint trap. This is where I should have asked a few logical questions before saying ‘yes” 

Most forgiving:  We are both good at this. 

Loudest:  I have a voice once described as “Wagnerian, without the charms”. 

Who has the most useless facts: I win by a country mile. 

Funniest: I am. Do not dare to question this. 

Who wears the pants in the family: In all matters I defer to Someone. This makes for a happy marriage. 

Most stubborn:  Someone. 

Falls asleep first: Someone can fall asleep in less than five minutes, anytime and anywhere. Amazing. 

Most impatient: I am. 

Better driver: see “Who wears the pants in the family” response. 

Biggest neat freak: Ms. Kondo and I are one.  

Most social:  Urs Truly is constantly texting, calling, blogging, and reporting to Someone who doesn’t do any of these things. 

Least likely to remember to do what the other one asks him to do:

Three guesses. Oh the embarrassment. 

Most competitive: Neither one of us is so.

Best cook: I have surpassed Someone in all categories of cooking but chicken pot pie. 

Who is the handy-person: Someone is much better with his tools. The challenge is getting him to use them. I find a good way is to do so myself only to make a mess of it, obliging him to do it right in the first place.  

Post a picture:

I read on the internet today is the Chinese New Year. Normally I am skeptical about things on line, but this seems legitimate. Apparently it is The Year of the Ox, which sounds better than last year’s animal, which was The Year of the Rat. 2 020 was indeed a ratty year.  I don’t know much about the animal, other than the word ox retains the Old English way to pluralize a noun.*  I personally don’t know an oxen, but I do know a lot of ratten – opps I meant to write rats.

What one does to celebrate The Chinese New Year is not clear.  A friend on Facebook advised me to eat dumplings today for good luck. This sounds similar to Someone’s insistence of eating black-eyed peas on the first of January . I like dumplings more than I like black-eyed peas so I won’t say nothing against it.  It is enough for my first crack at the holiday.

Twitter has a few shady remarks why Westerners would bother to celebrate the day as it isn’t proper new year’s day. I smell a rat (or is that an ox?). This sounds like another white man’s paranoia about ‘them’ infiltrating  the white man’s world.  I read the same rubbish every 5 May when there are grumbles why ‘we’ are celebrating ‘something Mexican’.**  I am neither Chinese nor Mexican but what the hell. it’s jolly good fun.  Every March I do something on St. Patrick’s Day although I don’t have a strand of Irish genes either. ***  Any excuse for a party.

I have a face calendar full up with holidays of which I am clueless. Along with the dates it lists the origins of the holidays (mostly UK, Canada, and many from NZ of all places). What fascinates me most are the ones called ‘bank holidays”.  One could have frequent parties if you adopted all of these these and did a little research what to do.  The biggest challenge looks  to be the ‘bank holidays”. What does one do to commemorate these days?  Go to the bank?  Extract money?  With ATMs so ubiquitous this seems to spoil the fun.

On Twitter a friend is campaigning for celebrating the 31 of every month not unlike Halloween. She just finished “Janu-ween” although I forget what she did that day.  What really needs a holiday is the month of August. Next time I am at the office I will have a look-see at the face calendar at August if there are any bank holidays or happenings in NZ that I could try.  I hope the food is good.

 

*Once upon a time (over a thousand years ago) if you wanted to have more than one thing  you added ‘-en’:  ox/oxen; brother/brethren.  Later on the ending ‘-s” took over.

**The irony of this one is few Mexicans in the area bother with this holiday of no importance. They look on the shenanigans with amused bewilderment and cringe a little at the nonsense the gringos are up to. On the other hand, they exploit the silliness and sales of foodstuffs skyrocket this day.  Good for them.

***St. Patrick’s Day is the exception that on this day “Everyone is Irish”. I don’t hear “Everyone is Chinese” or “Everyone’s Mexican” but then Irish are white.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections are pleased as Punch to see a recent surge of comments. They are always one to find a cloud to every silver lining; they informed me my recent entries are ‘too lofty’ and if I want to write such stuff go try Pocket. Perhaps something ‘simple’ would be nice. Sam (the dear!) gave me an idea to write about simple pleasures.

What is a simple pleasure? I define it as something mawkish and trivial yet it elicits elation or better yet a quiet content feeling.  A simple pleasure is not extravagant, expensive, nor emotional – like my men. Indeed! It’s like homeopathy for the soul: the smaller the better.

Here are five, one for each of the prime senses.

Bath gel (smell). In the shower stand four tall black bottles of shower gel, each with its own colored cap: red for ‘fig’; yellow for ‘cedar’; green for ‘mint’; blue for ‘stone’.  A little dab goes into the palm and spread over the face for a momentary redolence of said content. ‘Which one shall I use today?’ I silently ask myself as I wait for the hot water to arrive.  How nice it is an aroma can go right into our brains to make a quiet elation of tranquility.

Sleeping attire (touch). I  make a point to change my clothes at the end of the day into ‘evening attire’ to associate this for bed time. This is a good thing to do. In the winter months, I sleep in X-large T-shirts, quite capacious. They are frayed from continual use.  The touch of these ragged old tops on my shoulders is soothing and helps me towards sleep. Often I wear the same one for a couple of nights. This gives them a slight ‘me’ aroma that is not unpleasant, an added bonus.

Humidifier (hearing). Also at this time of year I have a humidifier going at night. I don’t know if it does any real good at moisturizing the air, but the real benefit is its sound. How to describe it? It is an orchestra of a low continuous hum combined with a constant gurgling of water. The third element is the hiss of humid steam emanating from its top.  This puts me instantly to sleep.

Habanero (taste).  Let’s get out of the bedroom and go to the kitchen.  Next to the cooker stand the pepper grinder and salt shaker, but joining the dynamic duo is a canister of dried habanero. It gives a spicy kick to my cooking and makes all with a “southwest” taste.  I sprinkle some in nearly all my cooking, using it in place of salt.  Its ‘kick’ never fails to light up my palate in pleasure.

Spo-shirts (sight).   All my shirts are together on the lower rack.  Every time I enter the walk-in closet I see them. Nothing cheers me up as a vast array of bright color. Sometimes I run my fingers over their tops to add touch to the experience. I get to smile at the color and it feels good in the satisfaction of my industry.  I haven’t made a Spo-shirt in ages, as I’ve been making masks rather. I should do something about this.

 

As I said, there is nothing profound or spectacular about any of these things. They are merely a noise, a slight tang on the tongue, and a quick glimpse at a rainbow. All the same,  they invariably cheer me up. Such is the power of a simple pleasure.

Spo-fans: what sort of simple pleasures to you have? 

 

 

 

 

For four years I’ve managed not to touch a hot stove by asking thems with “Make America Great Again” caps the philosophical question: when was America great?  I’ve read when these sorts are asked thy usually reply ‘the 50s”, probably because this is as far back they know of American history. Another common answer is the time post-1776 although ‘why’ is not too clear other than it is romanticized to the point to make the Founding Fathers retch.  The propensity for oldsters to pine of those better years when they were young is as old as the pillars at Parthenon. Thems who lived in the 50s when asked when was America great didn’t say ‘now of course’ but tended to think America was great before The Great Depression. Thems in the late 1800s pined for pre-civil war times. I’ve read pre-revolutionary folks looked back to the alleged ‘golden days’ back in England. You get the picture. Take this further and we are all longing for Eden before the fall.

I am in my late 50s.  If I were to wear cap with “Make Spo Great Again”* when was that? When was my life ‘great’?  My first thought is to reply ‘the early 90s’. I was finally done with school (at 30yo!) and I was single and ready to roll. But no, the 90s were filled with health fears and dating drama and unhappiness at my first job. Maybe 2000-2005 was ‘great’. That’s when I moved to MI to start life with Someone in a city I loved (Ann Arbor) with a house I adored with lots of yard to grow my vegetables. Wait a minute, I was in difficult job then too, with a long daily commute. Maybe the early 80s was when Spo was greatest. I was in college and Life was ahead of me. No, I was messed up and had morbid fears of being ‘discovered’ and I was always anxious to about getting into medical school. Perhaps Spo-life was great when I was still living at home, dependent on my parents. Rubbish. I was closeted and bullied at school. Really, the further back I go the more ‘green’ I become. Oh the embarrassment. Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than return to these immature states.

OK, I am no longer thin as in my 40s nor can I jump up and down. Guys don’t turn their heads anymore when I make an ingress at the bars or at the Palm Springs resorts. However I am far more wise and I no longer anguish (thank the gods!) about rubbish matters like what do people think of me or whom to date.

In summary, my life is already ‘great’  and I don’t have to make it again anything. It is OK as it is ,thank you very much, you rotten orange red cap types.

 

 

*Since the color red is now spoiled, I choose blue, Prussian or cobalt.

For some time now I’ve been wanting to write my thoughts about the painful and paradoxical problem of what to do with an artist’s work you live when the artist himself is a louse.* Recently I lauded Charles Dickens yet he was an awful man. He bullied and abandoned his wife; he was a bad father to his children, whom he held in contempt. How on earth did he write such brilliant novels of such warmth and human compassion, extolling us to care of one another, when he was abysmal at home in his personal life? 

Even more ticklish is my love for the music of Richard Wagner. He was a revolutionary genius whose brilliant music makes me soar. He wasn’t just awful he was vile, a narcissist whose egotism makes Donald Trump look like a nun. His faults were legion: he was sexist and a liar; he manipulated everyone to his end; he stole women, and then cheated on them. He was also anti-Semitic, a darling of the Third Reich.

Wagner et. al. force us to confront the uncomfortable question what to do with such artists. If the artist is awful but his work is stunning should it matter? Should we ban Wagner from our concerts? ** I hear of people are ‘cancelling’ Ms. Rowling over something she said. Here’s an example from another direction: I once attended a lecture where Linda Ronstadt was speaking. The Scottsdale audience was eating every word she said. Then she made a disparaging remark about guns. A fraction of the audience stiffened, got up, and left in a huff. I heard one mutter as she left: ‘Well, now we can’t listen to her anymore!” 

In a world of woe, Art reminds me it is not all bad. Art comforts me, it tells me not to despair. Despite our ugliness we can be truly great. Mankind is not all destruction, but capable of great creativity. When Voyager was launched, a golden disc record went with it. It contained some of mankind’s best music. “Look at what we can do! We can create beauty. Despite our darkness we also have light.”

There is darkness and light the same person. Can we look past the darkness and focus on the each other’s light? 

Try as I might I can’t refuse Wagner or stop reading Dickens or reject Luther. There is darkness but I can focus on the light. I hope people would do that towards me. Where we draw the line I cannot tell you.  

*I will use the ‘he/him’ in this article as history is heaped with male artists up to no good and doing all sorts bad things.  There aren’t too many depraved female artists.

**I think his music is banned in Israel; I need to look this up. In a way I hope this is true: At the Bayreuth Festival they play nothing but Wagner. It would be poetic justice or at least balance in the Universe to know there is a place where anything but Wagner is played.

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