Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wrong Way Go Back

Many of us remember cartoon episodes in which Bugs Bunny "must've taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque on the way to Pismo Beach." He'd tunnel up in Saudi Arabia or some other such unlikely place.

Ed was lost. He had gotten out of his hospital bed to go to the bathroom but he took a wrong turn and instead went to the the door to the hallway. Not finding a toilet there, he pushed a waste basket out from his room and then dropped his pajamas and sat down on the basket to get his job done. Nobody seemed to notice what was going on until he'd stunk up the place pretty good, then we ushered him back to bed and freshened him and the place up a bit.

He had a right subclavian temporary hemodialysis catheter which he usually ignored, but for some reason later that evening it caught his attention and he bit the end off of it. Sandy, the nurse assigned to him, had just walked into the room to check on him when she screamed out for help. It was a real bloody mess and he would have exsanguinated if she had walked in much later.

She held the torn double-lumen cath pinched off while I got a Kelly clamp and the charge nurse Rhoda called the surgeon, who said to "clamp it off and I'll get to it in the morning." Ed was asking where all the blood came from. He didn't realize it was his.

As lost as he was in the present, Ed could speak quite eloquently about things from the past. He was a chef and restauranteur with stories to tell about wierd customers and waitresses who did things like go into labor right in his kitchen. That was the thing about him. He could present very well and hold lengthy lucid conversations about stuff that happened years ago, but he really didn't know where he was in the here-and-now.

Sandy liked the old guy, and the night shift nurses told me that sometimes she'd call the place up in the wee hours of the morning, a little drunk maybe, asking how he was doing.

When he was eventually transferred out to the local nursing home and as he was leaving us, he said hello to everybody, as if we were just then meeting, oblivious to his having been with us for weeks.

Friday, December 29, 2006


The duck is already roasting in the oven, which warms the kitchen nicely on this damp and overcast day, a rarity in The Valley of the Sun But Practically No Solar-Energy-Collecting Rooftop Arrays.

Later I'll toss in the lamb racks with rosemary from the patch outside the gate. Mint sauce for the lamb-pops. Aged Gouda. Lump crab for one of the dips, plus avocado from the Pidgeon Tree. Enough crackers to satisfy many generations of pirate-shouldered parrots and all their feathered relatives.

Granny Smiths sliced and served with peanut butter. Domaine Chandon, the pink stuff with kiwi-strawberry juice, jacked-up Mimosas. Orange-juice traditional varieties also available. Sausage-stuffed mini-croissants. The duck will be stripped and used for spinach-garlic-tortilla quesadillas with Jack and a stingy addition of jalepenos so as not to over-ride the fatty tastiness of Mr. Duck.

Beatles on the Martin-Logans, alternating with Danu, Peter Tosh, Bartoli, and of course Anna Netrebko.

Friends, children, and neighbors.

Happy new year, all.

All food-oriented posts come courtesy of Head Nurse who continues to exult in the Darwinian niche of nurse-and-food-and-other-brilliantly-interesting-stuff blogging. She makes it easier for all the rest of us to slog on.

On edit I would like to welcome Bili Rubin and Creature57 to the blogroll, if they will put up with association with my mad ravings.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect people here even in The Valley of the Sun.

They woke up crying at 4:00 a.m. The spouse slept through it, or at least pretended to do so. That was one of the spoken issues: feeling ignored. Not getting a Christmas gift of the correct pattern and color. The wrong color socks. The wrong Beatles CD. The wrong perfume. The wrong superhero. Windows instead of Mac... Chocolate frosting covered brownies were another clue.

Winslow instead of Santa Fe...

Midori instead of Hillary Hahn...

It probably affects a half a million people in this country. Severely, that is. Jack-Nicholson-rampaging-with-an-ax serious. (The Shining in 30 Seconds.In Bun-O-Vision.)

Another 10 to 20 percent of Americans suffer from a milder version. Meaning that axes are not the weapon of choice. Santokus, maybe. Symptoms may include:

A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
Weight gain
A heavy feeling in the arms or legs
A drop in energy level
A tendency to oversleep
Difficulty concentrating
Increased sensitivity to social rejection
Avoidance of social situations

Sounds familiar, maybe?

This is serious enough. As a nurse, I know it's really a waste of time to usher a patient through a hospitalization only to have them go home and stick their head in a gas oven. Sometimes a simple request for a psych consult can go a long ways towards the easement of the suffering that can accompany short days.

That's what it's really all about, and it affects people at all latitudes.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

That's the Spirit

Yesterday while people-watching at the Biltmore Fashion Dog Park the younger carrier-of-half-of-my-DNA and I came with with some perhaps distasteful modifications of The Twelve Days of Christmas, keeping to an Arizona theme:

On the twelth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

Twelve displaced hockey players,
Eleven hours of gridlock,
Ten snarling pitbulls,
Nine stolen Camrys,
Eight feet of border fencing,
Seven sunburned Japanese tourists,
Six fish tacos for four dollars,
Five golden tortillas,
Four margueritas,
Three Mexican day laborers,
Two bean burritos
And a pigeon in an avocado tree.

You had to be there.

Placidomonas Freeperiai

The controversial debate, if one can honor it with such terminology as it probably doesn't deserve, over evolution versus creationism is now over. I have discovered incontrovertible evidence of macro-evolution, plainly observable to all. The evolution of an entirely new species arising from the genepool of lesser precedents.

Cool, man.

The Freepers were discussing Placido Domingo being booed at the Met. That in itself is a remarkable stream of events.

So why was Domingo flipped off by the rowdy low-lifes in the back rows? Freeper "Red Badger" in post number 8 explains:

"They found out he voted for George Bush!.........."


Out of the primordial freeper mud we have observed not just transitional forms, but the arrival of a whole new species.

I will continue my examination of this freeper phenomenon. Perhaps I will find a thread in which they discuss their love of the Toyota Prius and 1960's Miles Davis recordings, or other such evidence of evolutionary change, such as consistently correct spelling and grammar.

Accompanied, of course, by threads that blame Clinton for Domingo's lapse. Punctuated equilibrium and all that.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Laptop is Back After Being Sent for Repair

Some recent events:

They came in with rapid atrial fibrillation, a lung mass showed up on a chest X-ray, and a probable small bowel obstruction. And they were rather old. The surgeon didn't want to open them up, but the family insisted.

At the bedside, he said "Look, we see this all the time, don't we?" (And he solicited my concurrence in which I offered an anecdote of the last patient we had who went through this.)

They opted for the surgery instead of going home with Hospice care. After several weeks of suffering a difficult, dangerous, and expensive recovery from surgery, they died in the hospital just as we had warned weeks earlier.

But we gave excellent care for which the family was very grateful. Once a family/patient decision is made we run with it, running like the wind. It's what we do.

All my cynicism stays out in the halls. It never gets into the patient rooms. It stands outside as my ever-vigilant watchdog.


I was grabbing a shopping cart in the Basha's parking lot when an older woman approached me out of the blue and asked if I lived around there. I replied that I did and she then asked "Well, do you know where I can get a good fried-chicken sandwich?"

She went on to say that her husband was in a nearby skilled-nursing facility and that he'd taken a turn for the worse. "He's dying. He says he feels like something inside him has changed."

I mentioned a place down the street that's known for barbecue and such. And I said her husband was lucky to have her, and that like William Carlos Williams red wheel barrow, so much depends on that gesture of a chicken sandwich. Well, actually I didn't really get all poetic like that.

Her eyes welled up a little and she made the sign of the cross as she thanked me many times going to her car.

One more:

We were off the main path that we'd taken up into the South Mountains. That's what I call them since there's more than one, but most people here refer to these as just the plain singular "South Mountain."

Following a shallow and narrow track that had been improvised by mountain bikers, my partner said "They're here. Feel that?" and I replied that I hadn't really been paying attention.

"This place is haunted. We just crossed into it," they said. After a moment of walking I suggested that we were travelling in the wrong direction so we turned west and in a few steps a stunning vast panel of Hohokam petroglyphs, maybe four meters by one high, came into view. Though this was the biggest and most elaborate, there were also others that we saw in that area. Animals, human figures, abstract geometrics...

From a high point I could see that we weren't very far from an established trail which we used to leave after gazing in awe at the centuries-old markings. "We're out now," my significant other said as we went down the path, "It's not haunted anymore."

Actually we did see a few small glyphs right along the trail that we had missed when we came up, in a spot where the trail closely parallels a wash for a bit. One was a human figure holding a vertical staff topped by a circle.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

But He Gets Paid to Not Get It

One can only hope that the Arizona Republic has something other than that which is most obvious when they publish yet another crazy letter-to-the-editor like this one.

"U.S. Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, D-Minn., has chosen to use the Quran for his inauguration oath rather than the traditional Bible. One must ask: Is he going to support our system of law, or will he be more likely to trust in the Islamic sharia?"

Ellison, of course, is the first Muslim to ever be elected to the House of Representatives. It really doesn't make any sense to require him to swear upon a bible, does it? The letter writer goes on to accuse the Democratic Party (which is referred to as "the Democrats," a word-choice preferred by Republican strategists because its ends with "rats," suggesting displeasing notions that activate deeply-framed negative connotations, but that's a whole other story and one which I also occasionally write about,) of "travesty."

"It is recognized that Ellison is "only" a congressman, but where does it end? Would we as Americans allow a senator, federal judge or a candidate for the Supreme Court to get away with this travesty?

If Ellison is indeed allowed to take his oath in this manner, the Democrat Party should be ashamed of itself." - Dale E. Singleton, Chandler

We've suffered a host of Republicans who have openly declared their allegiance to some sort of permutation of their so-called Christian god above and beyond our Constitution, which was the document they had sworn to uphold. For example, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from office for ethics violations because he refused court orders to remove a 10 Commandments display he had snuck into his courthouse in the midst of night.

Attorney general John Ashcroft openly proclaimed his allegience to his religion outside the law.

Ashcroft, speaking after receiving an honorary degree, said, "Unique among the nations, America recognized the source of our character as being godly and eternal, not being civic and temporal." As reported by major news outlets at the time.

Well, what Ashcroft said is just completely bass-ackwards. It is very well established that the authors of our Constitution were proud that they had fashioned a uniquely secular document upon which to build their new nation. It was all the other countries in Europe that were monarchies sent from god. Sheesh.

On another tack, politicians from JFK to Joe Lieberman to John Kerry have had doubts cast upon them just because of their religious affiliation, as Ann Coulter so tenderly reminds us:

"In addition to having a number of family deaths among them, the Democrats' other big idea — too nuanced for a bumper sticker — is that many of them have Jewish ancestry. There's Joe Lieberman: Always Jewish. Wesley Clark: Found Out His Father Was Jewish in College. John Kerry: Jewish Since He Began Presidential Fund-Raising. Howard Dean: Married to a Jew. Al Sharpton: Circumcised. Even Hillary Clinton claimed to have unearthed some evidence that she was a Jew — along with the long lost evidence that she was a Yankees fan. And that, boys and girls, is how the Jews survived thousands of years of persecution: by being susceptible to pandering."

I guess the national discourse, at least the so-called conservative spectrum of it, has progressed little since 1960:

When Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts ran for president in 1960, he faced a barrage of questions from a predominantly Protestant public like: "How do we know you can separate your Catholic beliefs from your political responsibilities?"

Anyways. the whole gist of Dale's LTTE offends me, because it is an affront to this:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Forcing an elected candidate, or anybody else for that matter, to swear on any given scripture flies in the face of religious freedom. Franklin Pierce and Herbert Hoover, among many others like Dennis Hastert (who just put his hand on the podium) chose not to "swear" oaths at all. They "affirmed" their oaths or just did something else. I'm sure the censorious loudmouth Dennis Prager has much to say about how those people undermined the moral fabric of The United States by doing so. Dennis, Sean, and probably a whole gaggle of others have somehow even managed to drag Hitler into the discourse. What? You mean this isn't Bill Clinton's fault?!

Prager actually agrees that people should be forced to swear oaths on a book they don't believe in. But then again, he's totally, eery-music enhanced, way-down-the-road-past-Jack-Nicholson's-house nutso. Of the ballistic variety, not just your ordinary garden-variety freak.

Colorado Republican representative Tom Tancredo says he doesn't care. Does that mean the Republicans are in disarray?!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Silence and Democracy

"These are not natural silences, that necessary time for renewal," she said. "They are the unnatural thwarting of what struggles to come into being but cannot."

One of the commonly-read books that we college-student types passed around among ourselves, one of a few books assigned by professors that we probably had already read, is Silences, by Tillie Olsen. What a remarkable woman, and her main message is simple and compelling.

But dreadful.

She wrote the book over a period of years while working a variety of common jobs and raising children. The "silence" about which she wrote is the silence of a creative voice that is muffled by the demands of day-to-day living.

Though my circumstances are far more fortunate than the ones Olsen worked through, my own patterns of blogging suggest to me that she had a real point to be made. Note the timestamp. 0540 on Saturday morning before my beloved family members have awoken. I either blog early in the morning or late at night.

This point is critical to modern democratic discourse. Your average Bobo working two jobs is still likely to have opinions that apply to social, economic, cultural, and political issues of the day. But when would such a person have the time to voice these concerns?

Are you busy yourself? Too busy to discuss it right now? Then I'll get back to you. How 'bout Monday? Oh, too busy then. Well what about a day later in the week? Oh. Busy all week. Well, how about never? Good? Great! I'll get in touch with you then.

Your average working slob, besides having little unstructured time for contributing to the maintainence of modern American democracy, also suffers from other mitigations.

From low-level service work to doctoring, work itself is exhausting and stressful to extremes. People go home to comfortable domiciles, bright television entertainment, and delicious beverages, but the work itself can seem to resemble serfdom in its demands on the mind and body. Whether a burger-flipper or a neurosurgeon, they're going to come home tired. Maybe too tired to e-mail their senator or call up the Mike Malloy show.

But wait, there's even more. Besides having little time and being too tired anyways, a lot of people are politically silenced because nobody ever asks anyways.

When you do ask, you are very likely to get an opinion. When you provide time and relaxation, you are likely to get extensive conversation regarding a range of issues from people that do not themselves publish regular opinion columns or blogs.

This is probably the essence of blogdom itself. It allows voices, even people like me, to put it out there. I have no delusions, but you must admit that I'm basically doing the same things that, say for example Glenn Greenwald or Robert Reich are doing, with similar software and media platforms. They just do it a lot better than me.

Blogging is democracy.

Tillie Olsen and I wish more people had the time and energy for it, and we also wish that those who stroll the halls of power would shunt aside the putrid stream of lobby-lawyers that stench up their congressional offices and actually ask constituents what they are thinking.

I was reading something Rebecca wrote when this whole Tillie-Olsen-and-silences thing popped into my head. She was discussing voter responsibility when she asked:

"The problem we are faced with is how do we not just educate the electorate on how our government works, but make them care and understand about it. How do we get the electorate to give a damn about what goes on in our halls of power where laws are made and carried out?"

If more members of our electorate had the time, energy and feeling that others were actually concerned about their opinions then there'd be like about a million-and-a half blogs, eh?!

The dogs just woke up. The rest will soon follow. Peace out, dudes and dudettes.