Thursday, June 18, 2009

People Who Speak for Me: Lewis Black

I had a heated debate today with a relative and her conservative friends on Facebook. They're all up in arms over how Obama's a Socialist who's wrecking the country. All in 5 months, so far, which is pretty impressive, I guess. Maybe he is the Antichrist after all. I mean, that's fast work.

A lot of them were clearly feeling threatened by the US Government, fearing infringement of their freedoms by an increasingly (perceived as) oppressive government. Am I just that oblivious? Because I'm not feeling it.

Late in the thread, I put in a link to this Lewis Black video bit, which makes the point, in true Lewis Black style, that government is not automatically the problem. Anyway, the thread-starter got offended by the language and distracted by the Palin shot at the end, so it probably flew over all their faces. Well, over the faces of the few that got to see it before she removed my post, claiming the offense to her sensibilities was too great. Isn't it ironic that the one who is afraid the government will oppress her is the same one who censored me?

I saw Lewis Black in person last year, and he delivered the goods. I just read his most recent book, and I'm about to go read his first one. I am a real Lew-o-phile. I'm sure that he would laugh at what happened to me tonight. I'm even more sure that he'd ask me, "What the hell did you think would happen? That's why I told those righteous types to put down my book, right there in my foreword! I told them I'd save them $15 and a lot of misery!" Which he did, 'tis true. In both books.

Anyway, I remember him repeating this point in his live show: "Government is people!" Good food for thought.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Proud Papa Moments

This is my first week back at work after a Disney (WDW) vacation. While down there, I went to the Virgin Megastore and spent a couple of hours browsing CDs, picking up a lot of $5, $8, and $10 specials.

When Nolan found out I went to the CD store, he asked (unprompted, I swear), "Was there a new Rush?"

Talk about a proud papa moment.

Nolan also amazed us with a demonstration of map-reading skills on one of the nature walks at Animal Kingdom. He quickly said, "We are here," correctly pointing out the start of the trail. After we saw the tapir, he saw it on the map and said, "Next come the bats." So I guess all that Dora the Explorer has paid off.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Favorite Books: Old Coyote

I read a medical school classmate's "25 Things" list on Facebook, and he revealed that he often cries when reading stories to his daughter at bedtime. I thought it was awesome that he revealed that, foregoing the macho crap that society usually puts on us guys.

My thoughts then wandered to my own tearful experiences with children's books, and one book in particular. Old Coyote does it to me every time. It's really a conditioned response, at this point. It's a great book, really well done, and it hits a deep nerve with me - gets in there way down deep in my soul. Hmm, I'm feeling a little emotional just typing about it, seriously.

I first came across the book a couple of years ago in a gift shop in downtown Santa Fe. Every year or two, we like to visit Gail's family in Los Alamos and shop in Santa Fe for art. This day, Gail, Nolan and I had lunch at the Hotel Santa Fe, and we looked around the lobby shops on our way back outside. Gail and Nolan had found something else to occupy them in the store, and then Gail came up and asked why I was crying. I told her about the book, but I decided not to buy it because it was full price, and I'm such a bargain hunter. I think now that I was just rationalizing my avoidance of the deep emotions that the book stirred up.


by Nancy Wood; illustrations by Max Grafe.

About a year later, I was browsing a Book Warehouse when I came across a copy. I knew I had to buy it. How I enjoy that book. The prose is tender, thoughtful, and rich. The illustrations are perfect - you can see the age and emotion in Coyote's face. I learned on the Barnes and Noble web site - where copies are available, cheap - that the author, Nancy Wood, has a long friendship with the Taos Pueblo Indians, so there's no doubt that it resonates with me because of the Native American themes of the circle of life. I'll let you read the synopsis and review on the B&N web site - I could not describe it better. I just felt the need to blog about this book.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Fun with patients, Political Button Edition

So, I'm getting ready to see my next patient when I hear my nurse bust out laughing. I ask her what's so funny, and she points to my mental status exam on my last patient. For those of you non-providers, that's the section of my note where I comment on the patient's appearance, behavior, mood, affect, cognition, etc. Often, this is a cursory "Calm, content, cooperative" when the check-in is routine ("Just gimme a refill and I'm good to go!"). Sometimes I will write something unique to help me remember which patient it is, such as "Looks like Wallace Shawn" or some similar attribute.

For this patient, who I saw 11-3-08, I wrote "McCain-Palin button; pleasant nonetheless :)"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

25 random things about me.

A chain note is going around Facebook in which a person is asked to write a note in which he lists 25 random things about himself. I usually chuck chain emails in the trash, but this chain note is different. It involves audience participation, not just mindless forwarding. Plus, there's no threats of disaster for not participating, nor promises of riches or other good fortune for participating.

This chain note actually is a clever idea in that it amplifies the very essence of Facebook. Participating in it makes you feel like you've subscribed to Facebook Turbo, if there were such a thing. After all, people join Facebook to learn more about what their friends are doing, and also to share that same sort of info about themselves. Someone once said that Facebook (and Twitter) are to social interaction what Impressionism is to painting, in that all these little bits of data about people, while individually not always that meaningful, join together to form an overall picture of a person's reality. So imagine that your data set just expanded exponentially. Now you've got an even clearer view of things.

Plus, you get to learn a lot of fun things about your friends. A voyeur's delight!

Her is my list.

1. I grew up on 30 acres in Comer, Georgia. Half pasture, half woods. There was a little swampy part and a creek. It was a wonderful place to play and explore.
2. When I was 12, I got a Suzuki moped. It topped out at 28 mph. I would race my Great Dane and he would win without breaking a sweat.
3. I changed school systems after 8th grade and lost touch with a lot of friends – until Facebook!
4. My high school experience was second-to-none. Athens Academy nurtured me perfectly.
5. I appreciate all my teachers at all of my schools. Except this one in the 6th grade. I told her she wasn’t doing a good job and that she had lost control of the class. That didn’t go over well.
6. I think Athens, Georgia is the best city in the world, although NYC and Hong Kong have been fun to visit.
7. Speaking of which, I can do a mean karaoke version of “Love Shack”.
8. In high school, Beau would drive, and I would pick up the traffic cones. After we circled the block, I’d put ‘em back.
9. My favorite folk artist is Brian Andreas, with his Story People.
10. I own 9000 comic books, and I once had thoughts of opening up a comic book store. I’m glad I didn’t – the comic book store is struggling these days.
11. In 1992, I called in regularly to a weekly radio game show and did impressions. Once, they invited me into the studio for a special edition.
12. My favorite dine-out pizza is Costco’s pepperoni. Sprinkled with red pepper = perfection.
13. I have an autographed picture of Janet Fielding on which she wrote, “Great legs, J.P.!”
14. My two favorite animals are the polar bear and the tiger. If I see either of them at a zoo, I usually camp out and shoot a whole roll of film.
15. I am a huge WDW fan, and my favorite park is EPCOT. One day I hope to be picked out by the British theater cast members for a role in their King Arthur production.
16. Gail and I got married on the beach of Hilton Head Island. We bought flowers at the Piggly Wiggly on the way and changed into our wedding clothes in a sporting goods store dressing room.
17. I use my PS3 almost exclusively for playing Blu-ray movies. I would love to play video games, especially Gran Turismo, but I don’t find the time.
18. My favorite fine artist is Roy Lichtenstein, and my favorite piece of his is “Whaam!”, from 1963, which hangs in the Tate Gallery, London.
19. I enjoy celebrity gossip web sites, but it leaves me conflicted about the tactics of the paparazzi.
20. I have seen Rush on seven different tours in 5 different cities. They are my all-time favorite group. The fact that they are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is total bullshit.
21. My dream car is the BMW Z8.
22. I applied for an Air Force ROTC scholarship to college but got rejected due to asthma. I applied for a Navy ROTC scholarship to medical school but got rejected due to poor vision. My Army friends told me I should have applied to the Army – “They’ll take anybody!”
23. I was the pitcher for the Snowden Snowdogs for a few years. Our hospital coed softball team won the 2004 Stafford County Parks and Rec commercial division.
24. This was joyous vindication, since my intramural efforts at MCG (softball, volleyball, basketball) consistently led to second-place finishes.
25. My favorite President is Thomas Jefferson, but I think Barack Obama has the potential to unseat him. I have faith in him.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Buffet

Back in the day, I used to love going to buffet restaurants. College was essentially four years of the buffet experience, and in medical school, Golden Corral was a frequent stop for me. A good Chinese buffet still sounds appealing today.

However, as I've grown, the appeal of the buffet has dwindled. There are many reasons for this, and most of them revolve around Mrs. Medic8r. She has a discriminating palate, which can't help but rub off on me a bit. She is a great cook, so I get to enjoy a wide variety of quality food at home. Lastly, her work history in the food service industry is even longer than mine. She often takes the opportunity to put down the buffet as the triumph of quantity over quality, so she's purposefully worn down my enthusiasm for buffet dining.

For these reasons, it was with glee that I called her on my cell as I was entering the local Old Country Buffet. "Guess where I am?!" I chuckled. She was only mildly amused.

So I pay first - $8.82 with tax - and find a table with my coworkers. I dig in to a couple of plates of hot food: slice of pizza, cheeseburger, honey sesame chicken, rice, green beans, Mac and cheese, baked fish, more mac and cheese. For dessert, soft serve ice cream with cookie crumbs.

And ... it just wasn't that good. Gail is right - it was the definition of quantity over quality. It wasn't bad food, but for the same money, I could have gone to Five Guys or Chik fil-A or any number of places, and had a more satisfying experience.

I married well; this much is clear. For all the world to hear, "Honey, you were right. Buffets stink."

At least this one did. Take it from me and my vaguely dissatisfied stomach.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Charlie Daniels for Ambassador to the U.N.

Greetings, my loyal readers (all six of you). I hope your holidays were good. The medic8r family enjoyed itself. Nolan racked up on presents, as usual, while Mrs. medic8r and I took it easy and gave each other (and ourselves) small gifts.

One of the treats I got myself at Walmart was a $5 CD of the Charlie Daniels Band's greatest hits. It brought back memories of my teen years, when I had a different CDB hits collection on LP. It sounds funny now, but growing up in Georgia, I identified a little with Charlie, who is from Tennessee. As I played on our 30 acres of farmland and swamp, I enjoyed Charlie's tales of, well, swamps. "Well, if you ever go back into Wooley Swamp, well, you better not go at night ..."

Ol' Charlie is an unapologetic redneck, as he reminds us with lyrics like "What most people call a redneck / ain't nothin' but a workin' man". He sings the gospel of Republican family values: Christianity, patriotism, gun rights, low taxes, and keeping government out of his/our damn business. Even if my political views have diverged from his, his songs still resonate. For example, "Still in Saigon" conveys more about PTSD in 4 minutes than any psychiatrist could, and would make an excellent blog piece of its own, come to think about it.

About the same time I was rediscovering CDB, I ran across this Wall Street Journal article via the Huffington Post: As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S. It's pretty funny stuff as long as you're not paranoid enough to believe it. Actually, it's very laughable, as countless people have pointed out in commentaries. One of the best follow-up articles is here is the Washington Post: A Disintegrating U.S.? Critics Come Unglued. The reactions quoted here are just what I had thought, myself: (1) nothing like projecting your insecurities and bad history onto your nemesis. My residency director was right: Psychiatry is everywhere! (2) Gimme a break! Splitting up the Confederacy? How little does this guy know about US History?!

To finish my post, here's my gut reaction (3), as voiced by Mr. Charlie Daniels. Fron a live performance c. early 1980s, here's "In America":