Thursday, April 27, 2006

"The Best..."

Kel de Texas has referenced “Best Gay Blogs” on a couple of occasions. I guess that is a website that features a list of happy, uplifting, funny, blogs, correct? That Kel is one happy, funny guy, most of the time-when he is not being “hotheaded”, so I knew he would be listed there.

Believe it or not, in our Pediatric office we have a little book entitled “The Pediatric Book of Lists – A Primer of Differential Diagnosis in Pediatrics”. I think that same principal could be extrapolated to the internet.

But, I’m not too good at “Googling”. I put in my search request, click on “Search” and get 5,275,142 replies, listed 10 to a page. So I have not been able to ascertain if there are other such "Best" websites. Is there a “Best Sad Blogs”? A “Best Sports Blogs”? A “Best Medical Blogs”? A “Best Urban Blogs”? A “Best Black Blogs”? A “Best Redneck Blogs”? A “Best ‘You Name It’ Blogs”? etc. The mere scope boggles the mind.

If I could compile such a list I could start a website, “The Best List of the Best Blogs”. (No, actually I could not, because I can’t understand HTML). It would be similar to the coffee table book Kramer envisioned on “Seinfeld”, “The Coffee Table Book of Coffee Table Books” listing all the coffee table books available on the market.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Our Miss Em

Have blogged about my Number-One Son, my bride, and even "My Best Friend John". Now it is time to introduce my Number-One Daughter, Miss Em. I really do not know where to start. I'll skip all the part about her early years. That would just be a bunch of parental bragging. But it's not just bragging if it's the truth. I'll concentrate on the last few years.

My bride and I have always strived to allow our children to live their own lives once they attained adulthood. We figured we had done our duty as parents, although far from perfect parents, I may add. Now it is time to allow them to try their wings. We knew that there would be trials and tribulations, successes and failures, encountered along the way. At times it has not been easy to sit back and observe, speaking up only when requested to do so, but this approach has proven the right one for both our children.

Miss Em, upon graduation form Wake Forest with a degree in Psychology but not wanting to pursue an advanced degree in that field, decided to move to the Windy City to seek her fortune in the world of stand-up comedy. She really has a knack for comedy. What better place to scratch that itch than the home of "Second City". While looking into this possible career, she worked as a saleperson and later as a waitress.

When she realized that the world of comedy was not in her future, she reverted back to an earlier desire, a career in law enforcement. In high school she had expressed an interest in becoming an FBI or a Secret Service agent. In her job as a waitress she had encountered many police officers who told her about law enforcement and the Chicago Police Academy. Had it not been for the fact that a class at the academy had just started and the next one would be started only when there was the need for more police officers, she would have enrolled and would now probably be a member of Chicago's finest. While I could not picture my little Miss Em packing heat and patrolling the streets of south Chicago (and the idea of it really scared the hell out of me) I kept silent. With time, her desire to join the police force subsided.

While waitressing and bartending she somehow met some Physical Therapist and was intrigued by what she heard about that profession. Having a physician for a father and a nurse for a mother, she was not a stranger to the healing arts. The more she heard, the more she became convinced that this was her true calling in life. But answering this call required much determination and hard work. As a psych major, her transcript lacked some basic science courses such as chemistry, biology, and physics which were all required as prerequisites for admission to Physical Therapy programs.

So for the past couple of years she has worked to support herself while taking the required courses to allow her to apply to Physical Therapy Schools. That in itself was not an easy matter. Often, because she was not a "degree-seeking student", she was frozen out of these basic science courses by undergraduates. This required her to take different courses at various institutions of higher learning in Chicago to complete her transcript. I'll just say that physics is not her forte. But she persevered and is now finishing her final physics class. At the same time she was performing her necessary volunteer hours in a Physical Therapy clinic. These hours are required by all schools of Physical Therapy. She did such a good job at the clinic that she was able to secure a position as a Physical Therapy Assistant, thus leaving the world of waitressing that had served her so well during her search for herself. This new employment also offers her the chance to get valuable experience in her chosen profession.

The next challenge was to get into a school of Physical Therapy, where the competition is fierce. It was during this process that our Miss Em met initial failure for the first time in her life. She was put on the waiting list at her first choice. A school back home in North Carolina rejected her application, most probably because as a resident of Illinois, she fell in the minority out-of-state pool of applicants. Still, the rejection hurt, and we suffered along with her. She was accepted by another school, but she decided not to enroll there, due largely to the misspelled words in and wrong name on the letter of acceptance (although she was repeatedly assured in later communications that she had indeed been accepted). She said she would rather wait a year and re-apply than go to a school she did not respect.

Then she got into a program that she respected, but that would require a long, relative expensive, public transportation two-way commute each day. Chicago winters can be brutal. She accepted a position there, but had not actually enrolled. Then she was informed earlier this week that she had been moved from the waiting list and had been accepted at her first choice school. Isn't that what a waiting list is, after all? Well now, except for her worrying about what the people at the other school will think now that she is backing out to attend her first choice, all is well. The trip to this school is a mere fifteen minutes, and public transportation passes are provided by the school. She will also be covered by the student health insurance program, not a small matter in itself. It seems now that God is in His Heaven and all is right with the world.

“All things come round to him who will but wait.”
Tales of a Wayside Inn. Part i. The Student’s Tale.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

Some truth here. But one cannot just passively wait. One must work diligently while one waits. That's what our Miss Em did, and things have "come round" to her.

Thanks, Kel de S.F.

Plagarism: The Sincerest Form of Flattery

I AM: beginning to figure out what being a senior citizen and being semi-retired are all about and am enjoying it.
I WISH: I had taken better care of myself as a younger man.
I HATE: stupidity, cause there ain't no cure for stupid!
I MISS: my kids.
I HEAR: everything, one of the signs of ADHD
I WONDER: if this life is really all there is to it.
I REGRET: ever having started smoking.
I AM NOT: interested in the least what celebrities think about or say about serious subjects.
I DANCE: the Shag.
I SING: bass in the church choir.
I CRY: at the loss of a loved one.
I AM NOT ALWAYS: tactful.
I WRITE: this blog, e-mails, and notes to friends who are sick or experiencing a personal loss or hardship.
I CONFUSE: myself at times.
I NEED: to lose weight.
I SHOULD: stop smoking, again.
I START: many little projects, there’s that ADHD again.
I FINISH: most of the projects in one fashion or another, but not necessarily in the order they were started.
I TAG: no, I don’t

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Uncivil Communication

The telephone. That wonderful invention of Alexander Graham Bell which revolutionized mass communication has, in the twenty-first century, become emblematic of our ever-increasing loss of civility.

To wit: (1) "Call Waiting" One is engaged in conversation with another on the telephone. In the middle of said conversation, one of the parties interrupts, saying, "Would you wait a minute, I have another call coming in", and then often, without waiting for a reply, the line goes dead. How arrogant. How impolite. My usual modus operandi is to either reply, "Only if that call is more important than this one", or, if not given the chance to reply, I simply hang up.

(2) The cell phone. Marvelous invention, no doubt. Instant communication, anywhere, anytime. And therein lies the problem. The ubiquitous cell phone is used anywhere, anytime. In stores and malls. In restaurants. In public restrooms. In doctors' offices, even in the exam rooms during the care of patients. Their annoying rings, often meant to mimic some great musical composition, are often heard in church services and funerals. Their use is often intrusive upon other individuals within earshot. And, with the volume of some such conversations, earshot can be quite a distance. Furthermore, the content of these conversations, which should be private matters, are often offensive and profane in content. Cell phone users seem oblivious to their immediate environment and their encroachment upon other persons' space.

Oh for the days of BUtterfield 8 and CRestview 6, phone booths, and home phones without all the bells and whistles. A more simple time, for sure. But a more civil time too, as far as phone etiquette is concerned.

Monday, April 24, 2006


OK, OK, so I am a senior citizen. So I have a cap with "CRS" for "Can't Remember S---" (Stuff). So I have an occassional senior moment. I still consider myself pretty intelligent. However, I have met my intellectual Waterloo, HTML.

Our local church has launched a webite, hasn't everyone? Our Pediatric clinic is also launching one, but it is still a work in progress, so no link here. This is a form of advertising, I know. A part of me, being the dinosaur that I am, remains against such advertising on behalf of churches and physicians. Another part of me is intigued by the whole thing. I wanted to see how it is done. How does one create a website? How does one launch a website? How does one obtain a domain?

So I asked Roberto, the friendly webmaster of both websites, if I could learn the basics so that I could help keep the sites up to date. I explained to him that I did not have a clue, but that I did use a computer in the good old days of DOS. I even toyed with, but did not master, BASIC. "No problem," he said. I could easily learn HTML online. He referred me to a website, saying that I could progress at my own pace. My pace turned into a standstill. The website itself was overwhelming in itself. Then when he told me how to get to the HTML section, I found it just as perplexing. So many symbols for a simple entry. I'll never keep them straight.

I have Spanish to learn for our planned trip to Costa Rica. Spanish is easier than HTML. I have to complete my yearly Continuing Education Credits to keep my medical license. Medical stuff is easier to me than either Spanish or HTML. Even in a semi-retired state, I have just so much time to sit in front of a computer screen learning stuff. So unless I find "HTML for Dummies", I think my pseudo webmaster days are over.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Austin Remembered, Fondly

As mentioned in previous posting "Austin on My Mind" my bride and I spent several days in Austin with Number-One Son as he prepared to vacate his apartment, put most of his belongings in a storage unit, organize his other belongings so he could carry them with him to Costa Rica and thus avoid the 50% tariff on imported goods, get his various important papers and documents organized for us to take home for safe keeping, and lastly bid a fond farewell for a year (or a week, depending on how you looked at it) to his wonderful group of friends. It was a wonderful three days. Some observations:

1. Car rental and pick-up at the airport is very convenient. No shuttle bus.
2. Tex-Mex at Chuy's as delicious as I remembered.
3. A SUV is almost as good as a pick up truck when moving boxes and small items, but a pick up truck is necessary for furnuiture. Thanks to a friend, a pickup was available.
4. Books and framed pictures are heavy. They, because of their various sizes, are hard to pack.
5. Boxes purchased for storage are better than saved boxes from the liquor store.
6. A roll of packing tape goes a long way, but don't lose the end, or you may not get it unstuck.
7. When it comes to organization, cleaning and packing, Mom knows best.
8. A Mom helping her son has more energy than a lioness protecting her young.
9. A 10' X 10' storage unit holds a lot of stuff.
10. Everything in Austin is a ten minute trip according to Number-One Son. Not so.
11. When it comes to good hotel accomodations in a busy, crowded city, it is definitely who you know.
12. The Texas relays the Urban celebration brought a bunch of people to Austin. Doesn't anyone go to church on Palm Sunday anymore?
13. Traffic in Austin is not small town.
14. Using a vacuum cleaner and a shrink wrap storage bag, a total bed set (pillows, coverlet, bedspread, etc) can be reduced to a package about 3' x 3' x 2". Tight and compacted and heavy.
Clothes can be similarly shrunk and stored in smaller bags.
15. The largest suitcase available (Ht. + Length+ Depth = 62") holds a lot of stuff, even more when many items are shrink wrapped. They can easily hold in excess of 100#.
16. Indian cuisine is OK, but I prefer Tex-Mex and Bar-B-Q, both eastern North Carolina and Texas styles.
17. Number-One Son was blessed in Austin with a wonderful group of friends. We enjoyed our evening with them immensely. As careers tend to send them to different parts of the country and the world, we hope they stay close. Funny how their paths seem to cross and recross over the years.
18. There is a 4 o'clock am when one is not on call, and flights do leave Austin at 6:30 am.
19. A taxi is the way to get to the airport at 5:00 am.
20. A post-script: Real Estate in Austin is obscene.

Austin, I enjoyed you. I hope Number-One Son relocates to Austin one day so I have a good reason to return to you. If not I may return anyway.

No Hablo, Yet

Number-One Son is now to be living and working in Costa Rica for a year, or so it seems. I have had several people tell me that they have visited there and it was a wonderful experience. Part of the country has been described as "unspoiled" and/or "exotic". It has also been termed "third worldly". The Pacific coast is supposedly beautiful. The lush forest called "enchanting".

Number-One son has rented a three bedroom home and has extended an invitation to us, me and my bride, to come to visit him while he is living in San Jose. There are direct flights from Charlotte to San Jose every day, and I have some frequent flyer points to use (first class is all I can find, so why not?) so we will definitely try to get down to Costa Rica at least once in the next year. I am now officially semi-retired, and my bride can use vacation time or unpaid leave, if necessary, to make the trip. With free flights and a place to stay, we would be crazy to pass up the opportunity. The biggest expense will be gas to and from Charlotte and long-term parking at the airport. I have always thought of myself as a pretty self-reliant person, but Number-One Son will see I can learn to mooch with the best of them. Old dogs can learn new tricks, especially if they are very advantageous to moi. But isn't that French? No help here.

I need another new trick. I need Espanol. (My keyboard doesn't have the n with the ~ over it). I took Spanish for two years in high school and two years in college, but that was in a former life. My spoken Spanish was so bad that my college professor would not let me answer questions in Spanish. And mind you, this was supposedly advanced Spanish literature course where no English was allowed. I would start to answer a question in Spanish, and Dr. Causey would put his hands over his ears and say, "En Ingles, Senor, en Ingles, por favor". My situation is further complicated by the fact that I lived in Germany for three years while in the Army and learned enough barn yard German to get by. Now when I attempt to speak Spanish to some of my Spanish-speaking patients and their parents I see a wierd look on their faces. I go through what I just said to them, and it is a combination of English, a little German, and poor Spanish. No wonder they "no comprendo" what I said.

So I searched the web and found a Spanish program that seems to meet my needs. I was able to sample some of the lessons online, liked what I saw, so I bit the bullet and orderd the whole package. I plan to dedicate several hours a week in the pursuit of learning conversational Spanish before our sojourn to Central America. Hope in future blogs I can state, "Hablo Espanol muy bien, y usted?" Adios, Hasta luego, and Bis Spater (Opps, there is that German again.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Austin on my Mind

Not that anyone is interested or really cares, but my bride and I are flying to Austin, Texas tomorrow to see my Number One Son before he "moves" to Costa Rica to advance his career in the interactive internet advertising world. To be perfectly honest, I really do not know or understand exactly what he does, but it seems that his talents are in demand. He has no problem in finding gainful employment. I guess it is a generational thing.

The reason I said "moves" instead of moves is for the simple reason that he said he would be in Costa Rica, now get this, for one week...that's right one week, before he has to fly back to Austin for business. He also has said that he will have to come back to the good ole US of A about once a month to check in with the home office. The way I figure it, he will have to sign a three-year deal to be out of country long enough to reap the tax benefits.

As I said before, I do not really understand exactly what it is that he does. But, I do know that it has to do with the internet. I also know that I can correspond with people in Scotland via e-mail. So I assume that the internet is an international phenomenon. So, why can't my Number One Son just as well do his internet thing in Austin as well as he can do it in Costa Rica? Furtermore, why can't he just work at home. If he has a laptop he has a virtual office. Could he not work from the beach, the mountains, his original home in N.C., a bar, Internet Cafes, Mickey-D's, etc. The possibilities are limitless.

Do these companies just like to spend money on international flights and hotels?

As I said in the beginning, probably no one will note this because, according to comments received, the Blogosphere is an empty, empty place.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Growing One's Faith...A Mountain Top Experience

Just got home from church where our men's book study group had the pleasure of reading, studying, and reviewing A Life of Search (excerpts) by D. Elton Trueblood (1900-1994). I am a Christian. But, I have a questioning faith, and Dr. Trueblood answered many of these questions concerning faith, which he explains must be a "Reasonable Faith".

Dr. Trueblood was a Quaker. While Quakers are known as "Friends" he preferred the name "Seekers". The book was dedicated "To Seekers Everywhere". The Prologue is titled Seek and You Will Find...

Dr. Trueblood has written a very readable little book, less than 100 pages, that is full of "pearls". If you start to underline or highlight things that grab you, you will run out of highlighter before you finish the little book.

Anyone who is interested in the least in reason & religion, Christianity, and philosophy will find this a meaningful read. To quote Dr. Trueblood, "Though reason alone may not enable persons to find God, it can do wonders in enabling them to surmount barriers to the achievement of an examined faith".

Topics presented in the five chapters are the following: (1) A Reasonable Faith for Today, (2) The Importance of Christ, (3) The Necessity of the Church, (4) A Wholistic Faith, and (5) The Future of Christianity.

If you have a couple of hours to expand your horizons, spend them with Dr. Trueblood. You will be glad you did.