Sunday, December 09, 2007

Memorial Service for a Dear Friend

Carol was a dear friend...full of life...a joy to all who knew her. Cancer took her away way too soon. At her memorial service the church was packed. Another friend, Rev. Harry Clark, delivered her eulogy in an eloquent fashion that left all of us uplifted, a feeling I had never experienced at any other funeral or memorial service I had previously attended. Although the service was not recorded, Rev. Clark furnished me with the quotes and scripture that he wove into his message. They are as follows:

Webster's definition of 'friend' - 1) a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts. 2) A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause.

William Penn said, "A true friend unbosums freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably."

The great evangelist D. L. Moody once remarked, "Some day you will read in the newspapers that D. L. Moody is dead, but don't believe a word of it. For in that instant I shall be more alive than I am now."

When Dr. W. E. Sangster, England's great Methodist preacher lay dying with muscular atrophy, he wrote to his friend, Dr. Billy Graham: "All my life I have preached that Jesus Christ is adequate for every crisis. I have but a few days to live, and oh, Billy, Christ is indeed adequate in the hour of death! Tell everyone it is true."

A similar shout of victory came from Dr. Clarence McCarmey, long-time pastor of Pittsburgh's First Presbyterian Church. As he lay dying, his last message to his congregation was: "Tell them the Anchor still holds!"

The Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8, "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."

(Resurgence) - Robert Louis Stevenson

She's not dead, this friend; not dead,
But in the path we mortals tread,
Got some few trifling steps ahead,
And nearer to the end,
So that you, too, once past the bend,
Shall meet again as face to face,
This friend, you fancy dead.

RIP My Dear Friend Carol

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Medication Black Box Warning - Unintended Consequences

1. There was an upswing in suicide among teenagers and young adults.
2. Physicians, suspected or diagnosed depression, & prescribed antidepressants.
3. Data suggested increased risk of suicide in young people taking antidepressants.
4. FDA mandated Black Box Warnings for antidepressants stating those risks.
5. Lawyers saw chance for big opportunity and solicited clients.
6. Many physicians decreased or abandoned use of antidepressants.
7. Follow-up studies and data showed increase in teen/young adult suicide rates.
8. FDA cited "Unintended Consequences", but denied cause/effect scenario.
9. Only age group that did not show increased suicide rate was that over 60 years old.
10. This was only group in which antidepressant use increased in time frame.

Could it be that depression is a cause of suicide? Could it be that antidepressants, like all medications, are not effective in a certain percentage of the population taking the medicine? Could it be that responders to the antidepressants did not commit suicide while some of the non responders continued in their depressed states and finally committed suicide? Just wondering. But, there seems to be some cause and effect here.
What's going to happen to that FDA Black Box Warning?

"Greed is Good!" - Gordon Gekko in "Wall Street" (1987)

Bank of America raises ATM surcharge

In a move that's expected to prompt higher fees industrywide, Bank of America has raised, to $3, the amount it charges non-customers to withdraw cash from most of its ATMs.

The fee, up from $2 per withdrawal (a mere 50% increase), was quietly rolled out across the country in July and August. It's the highest such fee ever imposed nationwide by a major bank.

Because Bank of America (BAC) has the largest ATM network in the USA, the higher fees could hit millions of consumers. Guess the financial world has to do something now that the ludricous subprime market is collapsing. Bless their greedy little hearts.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

To Blog or Not to Blog, That is the Question

I signed off the blogosphere as an active blogger about a year ago. Since then I have continued to read different blogs and commented on a few or more entries, excuse me, blog posts. A couple more blogsites have caught my attention as well as YouTube...ain't that a hoot? I have been tempted at times to start blogging again. Several things have tweaked my desire to make a comment or two via the blogosphere. Topics will include the "no-no's" around the dinner table: politics and religion. The field of medicine will be featured as well as quirks in our society. Like "Law & Order" ( the original ) some entries will be "ripped from the headlines".

One lesson I have learned: Keep your posts short.

If you are one of the few that have continued to monitor my blog, stay tuned. I think I'll come back in a little while to discuss some things.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Adios, Au revoir, Auf Weidersehn

"A one ana two ana ...So long, farewell, until we meet again, ..."

Thus ended many Lawrence Welk Shows on T.V. that I watched as a child with my parents. I recently relived those days on a Saturday night while we were on the Outer Banks when I watched some of an old Lawrence Welk Show, now telecast weekly on PBS. It was a good healthy bite of nostalgia. A rememberance of a past time, more innocent and less complex than today's world. I made sure I heard that last song before they signed off.

I think it is appropriate that I borrow those old lyrics as I sign off the blogosphere as an active blogger. I have enjoyed the endeavor immensely, but I have lost the desire to take the time to blog. I will continue to read selected blogs and make comments when the spirit moves me, but for now...


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm Baaack!

Been gone from the blogosphere, as far as posting is concerned, for a while. I have, however, logged onto some of my favorite blogs occasionally and even made a comment or two. I have noted a couple of things: (1) Blog entries are, for the most part, getting less frequent...has the charm of blogging lost it's luster out there, or is it just those among the sites I visit? (2) While I still have a few visitors to my blogsite each day, the number has dropped off a lot as I have not posted in a while...understandable since why should one waste time visiting a site that does not offer something new?

Reasons not to blog lately:

(1) Really have not had the urge to write or "vent" lately (see previous blog).

(2) Been doing other things:

A: Went on a mission trip to the Mississippi coast doing habitat type work for an elderly woman whose 800 sq. ft. house was almost destroyed by Katrina. A year later and she is still in a small FEMA trailer. An eye-opening experience and one I suggest for anyone interested in doing some good. There are numerous groups that have programs that allow persons, skilled and unskilled, to help out. I was, for instance, an electrician's goffer for a week: "punchin' (drilling) holes" and "pullin' war" (wire), completely rewiring the house.

Of course, there are some unexplained sights among the devastation. This is not a cut and paste photo. This is not some fictional Welfare Cadillac, but a true FEMA Trailer Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. This was not the home we were working on for a week.
B: Been studying my Spanish in anticipation of planned mission trip to The State of Tabasco in Mexico in October and trip to visit Number One Son in Costa Rica in December. I actually remember quite a lot from my high school and college Spanish courses, but have forgotten even more.

C: Now my bride, my mom and I are spending a couple of weeks at Kill Devil Hills on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Have enjoyed preparing seafood and other dishes here at the house, dining out, sitting around and reading some novels between Spanish Lessons, taking afternoon naps, vegetating a lot, and visiting with friends and family. Our Miss Em was able to come down from the Windy City for a few days, too few, before she returned to enroll in Physical Therapy School at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She has called back about her first day, including her introduction to her cadaver in gross anatomy lab. Brought back memories of my first day of med school. I think they are starting out with the upper extremity and the brachial plexus, one of the most difficult areas to master.

We were planning to go back home Friday, Sept. 1. Now Tropical Storm Ernesto is heading our way. If it remains fairly weak and comes to this area the end of the week, we'll probably stay till Sunday after it has passed to head back home. If it picks up steam, we'll head out earlier, before it gets here. Will definitely keep track of this one.

I go back to work after Labor Day for another 5-week stint at the clinic. If I have time, and something rattles my cage, I'll be back again.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Recurring Thought While Reviewing Current Events

The Egyptians. The Babylonians. The Persians. The Greeks. The Romans. The Aztecs. The Mayans. The Mongols. The Mings. The British. The Soviets. Etc.

Each had its "empire". Each had its place in the sun. I'm almost certain that the people of these "empires", and most assuredly their leaders, thought that their "empire", their way of life, would last forever. Some have vanished completely, while others are mere locations on the world map.

Globalization. Bottom-Line Mentality. Outsourcing. Record Trade Deficits. Islamic Terrorism. Bitter Partisan Politics. "Politicians" instead of Statesmen. Society of "Victims". Entitlements.

To paraphrase T.S. Eliot:
This is the way we may end, both with a bang, and a whimper.

And we are only two generations removed from "The Greatest Generation".

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Nathan's Hot Dogs...Simply the Best!

According to a recent taste test performed by Cook's Illustrated (The Consumer's Report of the kitchen), Nathan's hot dogs were the "Best in Show". They are dogs, aren't they, so why not use the jargon of the Westminster Kennel Club?

I'm not surprised. They have always been a favorite of our family. Still, its nice to have our taste buds' opinion confirmed by such a prestigious organizaion as America's Test Kitchen.

But, eating 53 3/4 Nathan's hot dogs in 12 minutes, as the winner of the hot dog-eating contest did at Coney Island on the 4th of July, seems a bit much. I prefer to eat just a couple on steamed buns with mustard, chili, onions, +/- slaw, over a period of 10 - 15 minutes. This allows me to savor every bite.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Made in the USA, a Thing of the Past?

As I reported in my last blog posting, I bought a pair of Bass Weejuns this past weekend. Got them at a Bass Outlet in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Not much different than the first pair I bought in high school. Cost $39 now, vs. about $19 then. Not bad, when one sees how much other things have gone up over the years.

Could not help but notice that they were made in Brazil. I guess that is how the price has been held down.

About 90% of all golf club grips used to be made right here in my hometown by GolfPride. Now a large majority are manufactured by GolfPride and its competitors in the Far East.

Abbott closed its I.V. components plant here and moved a lot of the production to Puerto Rico and other Central American plants.

GolfPride representative on plane to China struck up conversation with representative of Timberline Boots, and was surprised to learn that not a single Timberline boot has ever been made in the USA.

Furniture and textiles, once, along with tobacco, the backbone of the N.C. economy are going, going, gone...never to return.

The Big Three U.S. automakers are encouraging early retirements and closing plants, and still posting staggering losses.

There are many other examples as we now dwell in a "global economy".

We supposedly now live in a service economy. But, much of service is being provided by undocumented workers who do the work that "Americans won't do." Meanwhile, the welfare rolls grow. And, to my simple way of thinking, not everyone who seeks employment in the U.S. can be accomodated by the service industry. There is just so much service that needs providing. And, if the economy tanks, who can afford service.

Is the day approaching when nothing will be made in the U.S.A.?

Who or what is the blame? Look in the mirror. The American consumer who demands low prices...always looking for a bargain, whether at WalMart or the outlet mall. I got my Weejuns, what have you gotten recently that used to be "Made in America"?

Sea Island, an Inn at the Beach...Redux

Here we are, once again, at the Beach, Myrtle Beach, S.C., to be more specific. By “we” I mean my bride, my mom, and myself. Three-of-a-kind (senior-citizen travelers) beats two pair (young whipper-snappers) any time, at least in poker. That’s what I continue to tell myself, anyhow. What else can one say once the days of youth have passed?

We have come down here to patronize and try out an old favorite get-away spot and try something new at the same time. The old 4-story hotel-based Sea Island Inn at the Beach was torn down and replaced with a much larger 13-story condominium-based complex on the same site. For years we have come to the old Inn (not to be confused with The Cloisters, the blue-blood resort island on the coast of Georgia) for long restful weekends. Located on the ocean front in the middle of an upscale residential neighborhood, it is a unique anomaly in a very busy Myrtle Beach. We were anxious to see how the new Inn compared to the comforts and amenities of the old. Would it still offer that “special” atmosphere so prevalent in days past?

By and large the answer is “yes”.

All rooms in the old Inn were ocean front with a balcony. Ditto the condos, which range from one to four bedrooms. Price for a two bedroom condo is a little more, but not that much more, than we previously paid for 2 rooms. When we look at the prices for the off season, when we really enjoy coming down, it is still a great deal.

Dining: Equally good menu, preparation, presentation, and service. The $40 per day American meal plan is a deal. One gets a five-course dinner, with many choices of appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and desserts. Also included is a wonderful breakfast with choices including omelets, eggs Benedict, and waffles, as well as eggs done any way, bacon, ham, sausage, grits, hash-browns, fruits and juices. Not an Egg Mc Muffin in site.

I was a little disappointed in the loosening of the dress code for dinner. Previously jackets, usually a blue blazer for me, with a collarded shirt (golf shirts permitted) were the rule. Now "vacation casual" is the code. I felt so bad that I had forgoten to pack some leather shoes that I went out and bought a pair of Bass Weejuns to wear to dinner. While the wait staff remained in coat & tie, and most patrons wore nice casual dinner attire, there were present in the dining room men clad in T-shirts of various designs, shorts, and tennis shoes or sandles. Not what one expects to encounter in a first-class restaurant. I guess "vacation casual" is open to interpretation. Or perhaps, the men were looking for a Big Mac with fries, supersized. The women accompanying these men were all more appropriately dressed for the dinner. I guess I am really getting old when I notice such things.

Pools, splash pads, pool-side accommodations with bar service upgraded. Enough chairs and recliners to accommodate guests. Umbrellas, chairs, and Life Guard on duty down on the beach.

You can still check in and stay here with no need to leave the premises, unless you choose to do so, until time to go home. And, unlike the Hotel California, you can check out and leave.

It is not the same, but it is still special. We will be back.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Must be Something in the Soil

As I mentioned in my last posting, one of the last things I did during my last days off was to replant the gebera daisy bed. The old ones did not come up this year.

The new ones were beautiful for about a week to ten days, rich green foliage and a rainbow of colors. New buds almost daily. Then, no more new flower buds. Next, wilting sick looking plants. I thought the intense heat was getting to them, although they love sunshine. I watered them religiously. Used some Miracle Grow, by package instructions. Applied some insecticide. All to no avail. They are dying right before my eyes. I am still trying to save them. If one or more actually die, I'll dig it up and inspect the roots for nematodes, although the yard and garden treatment plan through TruGreen/Chemlawn is supposed to take care of that problem.

If they all die, I'll have to abandon the idea of geberas in that area. I'll hate that. Any ideas or suggestions.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Back to Work...For a Much-Needed Rest

Well, my five-week hiatus away from the clinic ends Monday, and I return to the practice of Pediatrics for five weeks. People ask me if I am ready to go back, not that it really makes any difference whether I am ready or not. I reply that I am ready. I don't dread going back in the least. I enjoy my work for the most part. I guess I am lucky to be able to say that after all these years. But, I would be just as ready to stay in retirement. I have found the experience to be enjoyable and rewarding. I have not been idle. I have learned some things. And, I have gotten some things accomplished.

My bride said if I listed all the things I did during the past five weeks I would be amazed. So, I decided to do just that.

Spent a lot of time (and money) at Lowe's, WalMart, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

- Downstairs Bathroom: Put in new light fixtures, electrical outlets, and switches & new decorative cover plates; redid grout and caulking; changed tub & shower fixtures; cleaned tile and porcelain; insalled new curved shower curtain rod and new towel rods. (Still to do: install through-the-wall exhaust fan)

-Upstairs Bathroom: Redid grout and caulking; cleaned tile; changed shower curtain and rod.

-Master Bedroom: Hung new window treatment.

-Attic: Installed new motor on roof ventilator fan.

-Yard: Mowed grass weekly; edged the yard (streetside, driveway, and walkway); planted new type grass in area that it is hard to get to grow since it is so shady - new grass is coming up, but spotty - may have to overseed or bite bullet and get sod; weeded flower beds in front yard; replaced Gebera Daiseys in flower bed - after years, the old ones did not come back this year; re-planted herb garden (its in an old wheelbarrow); planted annuals in topiary planters; started cutting back azaleas after they bloomed. (still to do: finish cutting back azaleas and other shrubbery, clean out tool house and pool house, clear out vines [briars & wisteria mostly] from bordering plants, and weekly mowing and monthly edging)

-Kitchen: Cooked supper on many nights, which I enjoy a lot...and the bride still works full time; cleaned out the "tool drawer" and organized my tools in the rolling tool chest that my family gave me for's about time.

-Social: Helped host several pre-nuptial parties. Hosted cookout and manned the grill for the volunteer staff of Camp Spinoza, the bereavement camp for kids, sponsored by my bride's Hospice.

Volunteer: Worked with Realy-for-Life committee. Going to help with fund raiser tonight. Its a dinner dance, beach theme, so should be fun; worked on church committee planning mission trips to the Gulf Coast in July and to Mexico in October.

Personal Stuff: Had pictures made at professional photographer for new passport and hospital physician handbook and for Dr. gallery. Had pictures taken with No. 1 daughter to give to bride for Mother's Day. No. 1 son stuck in Costa Rica, so he was not available as planned; boxed up things to send to No. 1 Son in Costa Rica...sent them UPS...had them refused by him because the tariff was more than the items were worth...lesson learned; framed pictures and sent to No.1 Daughter; sent just pictures to No.1 son...did not want to send another package, and pictures fit in envelope.

Computer Stuff: Blogged some; studied some Spanish lessons; worked on new website for the clinic; organized e-mail address list for church; wrote announcements for church website; planned Alaskan cruise/tour; initiated planning for Greek Isles cruise in seems it is never too early to start these plans; blogged some more.

Its really amazing what one can do when he does not have to go to work every day. It's not like a day off or a weekend. You can really plan and accomplish larger projects. I did enough different things that I did not get the least bit bored doing any of them.

I look forward to my next time off. Besides the "needs to do" listed above, I have other projects that I am just as eager to tackle.

So, with work interfering with my life for the next five weeks, I will not be posting so often, but like General McArthur, "I'll be back".

Friday, June 16, 2006

Just Some "Southern Good Ol Boys"

I was watching The O' Reilly Factor last night. Geraldo Rivera was on the program for a segment on the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, something I favor, by the way.

The subject changed to the Duke lacrosse team rape case. O'Reilly thinks the case should be dropped, and had said as much on one of his "Talking Points". Rivera countered, saying something to the effect that the use of the "N" word really upset him, and it reminded him of what Southern women had been forced to endure in times past. He clarified that to mean black Southern women.

I somehow felt compelled to e-mail a comment to O'Reilly. Since I know it will not be seen on the show, not "pithy" enough, I will post it here:

Dear Mr. O'Reilly,

Mr. Rivera alluded to the fact that when he heard the use of the "N" word he got upset. He then said that he recalled what Southern women, corrected to Southern black women, had experienced in the past. Fact #1: None of the charged Duke students are Southerners. Fact #2: Lacrosse is not exactly a Southern sport. Fact #3: Duke is a Southern university in location only. Mr. Rivera was quick to stereotype Southerners as bigots and racists when Southerners were not involved.

I think my Facts #1 - #3 are correct. I know that #3 is true. Just ask anyone in our area.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Missing In Action

I like pictures and images inserted in my blog entries. Above are shown the images I wanted to insert in my last blog posting. But, try as I might, old Blogspot would not allow me to upload them. The program teased me repeatedly, acting like it was uploading them when it really wasn't. "HELP" was not helpful. I even tried to edit the posting after it had been published. No Go!

Jason M has told me the problem was with the Blogspot program, not with my methodology. Since it works well on this posting, I am more perplexed than ever.

Has anyone had similar problems, and if so, are there any work-arounds to solve the problem when it occurs?

You may want to look at the last entry and try to imagine where the images were to be inserted.

Monday, June 12, 2006

"And on That Farm They Had Some Tractors...E-I-E-I-O"

My bride and I once again helped host and attended another pre-nuptial party last Saturday night. This time, due to the fact that the groom-to-be is a young farmer, the theme of the party was a summer farm picnic. The catering was handled by General McArthur's, best known in the area for his Bar-B-Q and pig-pickings. This night he served fried chicken, baked ham, potato salad, and tomato/onion salad. Dessert was banana pudding (with vanilla wafers). Wish he would have stuck with his specialty.

Music was provided by a bluegrass band, Appalachian Blue, featuring vocalists, banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and bass. They were great, playing favorites such as Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Rocky Top, and Dueling Banjos, among others. They also did some MoTown numbers with a bluegrass flavor, that they termed MoGrass. Also included in their repertoire were renditions of Brown Eyed Girl and Under the Bordwalk. That was one talented bunch of musicians. I could have listened to them all evening, so I did just that. I did not, however, join in the "clogging". Number One Son and I took "clogging" lessons years ago, and did not pass the course. It's hard folks.

The decorating committee adopted the basic green/yellow color scheme associated with John Deere farm equipment. There was a child's small riding John Deere tractor (you know the kind with pedals) at the entrance. The tablecloths, plates, and napkins were color coordinated in the green/yellow motif. Centerpieces on the tables were comprised of toy John Deere farm implements with white daisies with yellow centers. The bride was presented with a John Deere cap with a short veil attached. The couple's chairbacks at the head table were festooned with John Deere T-shirts, her's complete with a bridal train. I am going into such detail to show it was a John Deere evening. I thought it most appropriate, because I wanted to tell the groom, "Nothing runs like a Deere"...but idea was nixed by my bride.

To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, "Big Mistake". For you see, the young farmer groom works for one of the biggest farms in the area, that just happens to be a major user of International Harvester farm equipment. The elder farmer employer and his farmer sons/wives were in attendance, of course. If they were not some of the nicest people in the world, something probably would have been said that was later regretted.

Farmers are pretty much brand loyalists. You are a Deere farmer, an International farmer, or a Massey-Furgeson farmer, period. Much like NASCAR race fans are Chevy fans, Ford fans, or Dodge fans, period. (Sidebar: I guess next year they will be some Toyota fans, as they enter the fray.)

But look at the bright side. The decorating committee could have adopted the red and white color scheme of the Massey-Ferguson brand. Then the young bride could have walked around all night with a large MF emblazoned on the front of her bridal cap.

Monday, June 05, 2006

"We are the Champions, We are the Champions..."

After being blown out (12-zip) in the first game, which ended after only 5 innings due to the 10-run mercy rule, the Fighting Scots of Scotland High School regrouped, came back, and won the next two games (1-0 and 10-5) to win the North Carolina 4-A High School Baseball Championship.

Great news in our One-Horse Town.