Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Israeli Government Protects Women from Themselves

I was reading an article about Oliver Stone's latest kooky remarks (as a liberal, even I think he's out there) .  He pointed out that Hitler killed 3 times as many (gentile) Russians as he did Jews.    That's a big, hairy, complicated separate topic, but there was a link in that article to another article, which in turn led me to this.


This is one of those times when I'm going to have to agree with the Libertarians about The Nanny State.

She boinked the guy 15 minutes after she met him! Come on!

The women who file these complaints are setting back women's liberation.  Big Time.  Or are they trying to have their cake, and eat it, too?

But then again, I could never get away with it: as an Eastern European goyim, I still have all the body parts I was born with.   Soon as our pants came off she would have said, "Hey, what the hell is that?"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Marilynne Robinson Thinks You're an Idiot

I just saved you $24.00 plus tax.

I really like The Daily Show with John Stewart, and of course, the Colbert Report.  Both Stewart and Colbert interview authors, politicians, and scientists who would never get interviewed on the Faux News Channel.  When they have the occasional conservative or libertarian they're very polite with them, and let them say their piece, so I enjoyed John Stewart's July 8th interview with Marilyn Robinson, the author of Absence of Mind.

Even though I'm convinced that there is no god, no afterlife, etc. the interview made me want to read her book.  The argument that she presented on The Daily Show was that my posse—Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, et al—were not the best people to defend science, and that those on the religious right who argue with them were not the best representatives of religion.

Wow, that piqued my interest.  I assumed that she is religious, but was curious as to what she has to say.  She came across as being sophisticated and nuanced.  The Claremont Library doesn't have a copy, so the other night after walking the dog, I went to the mall's Barnes & Noble with a built-in Starbucks.  They only had one copy of Absence of Mind, and it was in the religion section.  I grabbed it, and plopped down at a table in the bookstore Starbucks with a Grande Mocha, and the world's biggest oatmeal raisin cookie.

I can't emphasize enough: I started reading her book with a positive attitude, under the assumption that she had something new and interesting to say—regardless of whether or not I would eventually agree with her.

It didn't take long for me to see that the empress has no clothes.  There was a huge disconnect between what she said on The Daily Show, and what she says in her book. 

     Before I even get into what she talks about in her book, I'm going to start with a quasi ad hominem attack on her writing style:  she comes across as one of these academic blowhards who are in love with all of the big 5 dollar words they done larned in college.  I understood what she was talking about in the chapters that I read while still in the book store, but it was shear torture.  I felt like I was marooned on a tropical island with my old college advisor, whose idea of a good time was to trot out all of the in-house lingo that is only used at universities.  The one person who I know could read her pages at a much higher rate of speed than myself would be my friend Steve Finlay, who teaches philosophy at USC.  But for the average Joe (or Tom), Robinson's writing is a barely-penetrable backyard weed patch that looks lush and pretty from across the street, but is chaotic and displeasing upon closer inspection. 

I'm only going to attack her on two points.  To do more would exhaust—if not irritate—me, and any unfortunate readers of this diatribe:


Robinson does not like Positivism.  Wait.  What the hell is Positivism?  Ah...this is the first of many instances where the school marm digs into a topic, brandishing her professorial vocabulary around the room, while we the general public hope she doesn't poke our collective eyes out with it.  Tell me again why Barnes & Noble put her book into the religion, instead of the philosophy section?   Sans introduction, she launches into a full-frontal assault against Positivism, which in plain English is the following school of thought:  If we can measure it, record it, or otherwise pke or prod it, it exists.  If we can't test it, measure it, or poke it, it either doesn't exist, or isn't important.

Who cares?

Well, the crux of the New Atheists' argument is as follows: I've never seen God, and neither have you.  We don't have any photos or sound recordings of him.  We can't detect him with any electronic devices.  Same thing goes for miracles, ghosts, and people in the afterlife.  Therefore, they don't exist.

This pisses Doctor Robinson off.

Too bad, lady.  deal with it.

II.     FREUD, DARWIN, and other Stupid White Men

Another weapon in Robinson’s anti-New Atheist screed is a collective attack upon various dead white guys. She claims that Freud’s, Darwin’s, and others’ theories, hypotheses, and contributions to Western thought are a disorganized collection of mutually incompatible ideas that cancel each other out, therefore proving via their collective lack of merit that only religion has the answers.

For example: she says that Darwin’s ideas of natural selection, e.g. Survival of the Fittest (even though Darwin never used that phrase) are incompatible with Freud’s beliefs about everything starting from sexual urges—taboo, or otherwise—therefore, they’re both wrong. No—wait; she takes it back: they’re not wrong, just irrelevant to the question of whether or not God exists, or religion serves any useful purpose.

This is the epistemological equivalent of apples and oranges.

Sticking with her Darwin vs Freud chapter, the reader cannot help but remember the obvious: life is complicated. The human mind is complicated. Freud and Darwin were interested in different topics. They were asking—and answering different sets of questions. The fact that Freud and Darwin had different ways of seeing the world does not automatically mean that they’re both wrong, and now God—with a capital G—is the only person who can step in, and provide the right answers. I say this, despite her repeated protestations within the book, that of course, evolution etc. are real, but that doesn’t prove that God isn’t real, too. She doesn’t refute Darwin et al—she damns them with faint praise.

Oh, wait, I remember that God from a college biology class: The God of the Gaps.

On the brighter side, Robinson does not agree with religious fundamentalism. Instead, she wants to save God—and us—by converting him from being an angry old white guy with a beard and a toga into some sort of a New Age, amorphous spirit of brotherly love.

Don’t let Victor Stenger read that last paragraph: he’ll sneak off to the faculty men’s room, and cut his wrists.

The reason that Stenger, Dawkins, and Hitchens piss off religious folks is that they pose the ultimate uncomfortable questionIf God hasn't shown his presence in a long time (only fundamentalists of any stripe still believe that he personally intervenes in events), and he's just this benevolent dude who nods sympathetically, while listening to our thoughts, and wishing us well, then what use is he?

In the end, I don’t know what Robinson’s goal is in publishing Absence of Mind. Money? Fame? Adulation? respect from her academic peers?  All writers suffer from the pathetic need to be recognized and admired, but by whom? Who is her target audience?

Her colleagues? Your average city college part-time philosophy instructor would shred Absence of Mind over a short, beer-soaked weekend, easily cranking out a 20 page rebuttal while never allowing his blood alcohol level to dip below 0.16%

The General Public?  The book is written with a rich, heavy vocabulary that would give the Common Man a toothache, or an upset stomach, if not both.  Perhaps this is the point.  She certainly bamboozled Stewart, who must have read a few pages, and said, "Wow, this lady must know what she's talking about.  Look at all those big college words!" 

The problem is that Robinson's academia lingo-laden prose is the intellectual equivalent of a magician who waves one hand in the air, while we're not supposed to see when she uses her other hand to pull the hard-boiled egg out of her vest pocket.

She may have fooled John Stewart, but she isn't fooling me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Crazy People

Hey, nobody died this weekend.

I almost killed two different people, but that would have been on purpose, not out of incompetence.

Interesting things happen when medical personnel get medical treatment. Things can go downhill very quickly, and boy, did they ever.


Went to get my blood drawn in Pomona at this place called Lab Corps. Routine blood draw that the doctor ordered for me: fasting glucose, cholesterol, thyroid hormones, liver function, etc. I get there, and see that since the waiting room only has 5 chairs, there is a crowd of people waiting out in the courtyard, sweating in the summer heat (one of whom was a visibly pregnant woman). I sign in, and the guy tells me it will be an hour. He should have said two. So after an hour of me reading the LA Times, while the kids play with a bottle of bubbles, I park the kids inside the waiting room, where I have the 3 of us sit on the floor, so that the little old ladies can sit in chairs, and after half an hour I ask the guy how much longer.

He pulls my paperwork from the ‘Losers who got tired of waiting, and left’ bin and says, “Oh, I called you ten minutes ago.”

“No you didn’t. I’ve been in here for half an hour.”

So he takes me in the back, and wants my insurance card RIGHT NOW. They didn’t have a sign in the lobby that says, “Please Have Your Insurance Card Ready,” so now I’m desperately rifling through my wallet. I haven’t had any food, water, or coffee, and it’s 11:30. I haven’t even brushed my teeth, because they don’t want you to swallow toothpaste and get a false positive on your fasting glucose. Aaargh!

I give him my insurance card, sign some forms, and find out that now I’m going to hang out in the inner waiting room, where I now see all of the people who used to be in the courtyard. I invite any Hungarian who lived through Communism to come and try this out. There is no difference between Lab Corp, and when I had to wait in line at various Communist Hungarian government offices in the old days.

Finally, this young girl in scrubs calls me to a blood-drawing chair. Here comes the part that will cause you to never go to the doctor again, for the rest of your life:

She has me sit down, then stands in front of me, looking around for something. I saw a blue-top (Pro-thrombin Time) vial on the ground, under the seat, so I asked her if she’s looking for that.

She says, “No, I’m looking for…” and she makes a stretching motion.

I say, “Tourniquet?”

“Yeah. Oh there it is!” She bends over, and reaches down to my left side. I bend over to see where she’s reaching, and stare incredulously while she pulls a tourniquet out of the red-bag biohazard trash can. Yes, there was trash in the red bag.

I went postal on her.

I screamed at the top of my lungs, “You are NOT using that tourniquet on me!!!”

“You want me to get another one?”


So, still wearing the rubber gloves that she had on when she reached into the trash can, she opens the drawer, and starts rummaging for a new tourniquet, and yes, god damn it, she is touching everything with those used gloves.

So now I yell at her, “You’re wearing the same gloves! Take off those gloves!!!”

After she put on new gloves, and found a new tourniquet, Little Miss Sunshine poked me with a needle (yes, she wiped my arm with an alcohol pad), and—believe it or not—it was the best needle stick I’ve had in years. I literally didn’t feel it.

I waited until she had all of my blood vials labeled, then proceeded to rip into her like a Marine Corps drill instructor into a long-haired hippie in a Grateful Dead t-shirt.

Here’s a thought: When I have had no food, water, or coffee since yesterday, don’t mess with me.


I groaned when I got a request tonight to do an abdomen series on 70 year old lady who is an in-patient. I pictured somebody semi-conscious, curled up in the fetal position, with a major Code Brown going on in her room. To my pleasant surprise, I got to her room, and found her in an animated conversation with her visitor, another old mare. They informed me that they’re retired RNs, and proceeded to cuss up a storm.

Wow, I thought my friend Irene the Mammo Tech has a potty mouth. These two put her to shame.


So, I get her into a wheelchair, no problem, as she could have walked to Radiology, had I let her. I had to stand around while they cussed at each other, while the patient wrote instructions for her fellow sailor—I mean nurse—to get to her apartment, and feed her cats. As we were leaving her room, the alarm on her i.v. pump started dinging, and despite the fact that she’s a nurse, she couldn’t get the pump to shut up (This is actually not surprising; you have to get trained on whatever weird brand of i.v. pump your employer uses when you start a new job at another hospital). So by the time we get to the Radiology Department, she starts freaking out about how her i.v. isn’t running, and her hep-lock is gonna clot, and they’ll have to start a new i.v. on her, and there’s no fucking way she’s gonna let the goddamn idiots in this shitty little hospital (Her words, not mine!) do that to her.

I tell her, “Look, we already have the KUB and the Upright Abdomen, let’s just do the CXR real quick.”

She lost it. Went into hysterics. Said I don’t understand (Actually, I do understand: she’s a cancer pt with a Hx of chemo, and her veins suck. As a Nuclear Med Tech, I’ve started a lot of I.V.s on people like her. A lot.). Then she crossed the line. In front of 2 other Radiology employees she said, “You’re not a nurse. You’re only an x-ray tech!”

I think if I had killed her on the spot, I would have had no problem getting off with a temporary insanity defense. No jury would ever convict me.

I took her back to her room.

The truth of the matter is that the cxr isn’t all that critical on an abdomen series—especially when they already have a history on the pt. Problem is that in this digital age I can’t do like the old days when a Radiologist actually parked his/her ass in a chair down the hall, you handed them sheets of film, and had a chance to explain what’s going on. Now they sit at home on their sofa in their underwear, looking at ultrasounds, CT, and x-rays on their laptop, making big bucks while I sweat my ass off (The little hospital where I work has seasonally-adaptive air conditioning: it’s cold in the winter, and hot in the summer).

So, basically because there’s no supervisor and no radiologist around, it’s less hassle to just get the damn cxr. An hour later, I push the portable machine to her room, and ask her if I can do it. She says, “Yes,” and while I’m setting up, her phone rings. She ignores me, and starts screaming and cussing at her friend who is at her apartment, feeding her cats. I stood there, stared at her, and decided that I’m done. I put the portable back together, and left her room without saying a word.

When I got back to Radiology, I wrote “Pt refused cxr twice” on her printed request, and sent the 2 abdomen views over the internet to the Radiologist.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Dumbest Guy in the Universe

Who is this idiot?

Your average biology undergrad could watch this video and pick it apart without even needing to get their books off the shelf.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Boys and Girls Arrive and Leave

     A friend wrote recently about the inequalities that women face in the military.  I agreed that women should be treated equally, as long as those women who want equal access put in equal effort.  I had (and continue to have) difficulty articulating (without coming across as a male chauvinist) my gut feeling that when it comes to certain types of physical work women will never be mens' equals.  What I meant was that while there may be some women who are physicially large enough to compete with men, most women will not by virtue of their physique.  This inequality only applies to a very small number of jobs in the West, for example, fire man—I mean firefighter.

     How many firewomen—I mean female firefighters have you ever seen?  Female cops?  Wait, that's interesting: law enforcement is highly associated with testosterone, yet women have entered law enforcement in numbers. 

     How about doctors (real doctors; not PhDs)?  Being a doctor used to be presented on tv and the movies as a macho, life-saving job—especially surgeon—but now there are lots of female doctors. The surgeon who operated on me was a woman.  

So, now what do we do?

We need to all take a week off work, and read Louanne Brizendine's book.

As for all you men out there; stop having heart attacks.

     I couldn't believe it.  This was the third weekend in a row that we had a full-blown Code Blue in the ER with an adult male younger than me in full arrest.  Okay, the guy the previous weekend went into hypovolemic shock caused by internal bleeding brought on by his love (the love that dare not speak its name) of Jack Daniel.  But, the other two—including the guy they wheeled in this weekend—simply had their heart give them the middle finger.

     This guy bore a remarkable resemblance to my brother-in-law: overweight, hairy bald guy in his early 30s.  This guy was 35.  Ambulance called to tell us they're bringing him in, and the ER Doc serenely watched while the nurses set up the med trays, the respiratory therapists set up their equipment, and I stood there, scratching my ass (I already set up the portable x-ray machine just outside the door).

Wait, wait.  Rewind!  Let me start at the beginning.

     I was having a really good shift.  I was reading a good book in the radiology front office, when a request came out of the printer for a newborn baby girl to get her clavicles x-rayed.  This happens all the time.  When babies are born, sometimes the OB-GYN uses forceps (really big tongs, like the ones you use when you're bar-b-cueing) to pull that sucker out.  Hey, sometimes they just don't wanna come out.  Can you blame them?  So I look at the request, and think to myself, Well, I'll take an x-ray and it'll turn out like it always does: no broken shoulder.


     I pushed the portable x-ray machine (an unwieldy 500 pound monster that patients often think is a vaccum cleaner or carpet cleaner) into L&D, and there she was: a pink, naked little girl with a full head of black hair, screaming her ass off.  I gave the nurse a lead apron, and she held Pinkie while I pushed the button.  Okay kid, let's take your x-ray, and show these dummies that you're okay.

I tell the nurse, "Hey I'm gonna leave the portable here in the hallway.  Just in case."

I jinxed myself. 

I ran the cassette, and immediately noticed that her left clavicle was broken clean through.  Clean break, midshaft. 

Food for thought:

(1) It happens.  It's part of being born, if you're an upright hominid.  (Don't say that to any pregnant women in your vicinity, though).

(2) There's nothing you can do about it.  Operate a broken clavicle on a newborn?  Stupid, dangerous, and completely unnecessary.  When adults break their clavicle, they put your arm in a sling, send you out the door, and wish you good luck. 

     Okay, but now I gotta go back, and take a 45 degree cephalic view, to make them happy.  I go out in the hallway, strolll back to L&D, and turn on the portable.


Aw, shit.  Now what do I do?

Here's the problem:  in any hospital, babies get priority.  Period. 

Okay, well, I already x-rayed the baby, and clearly established that her shoulder is broken.  It's non-life threatening.  She's okay, she's not going anywhere.  But, I really should do that second view, to close out her care so that the OB-GYN can tell the parents, "Her clavicle's broken, and we ain't fixin' it."

But there's a Code Blue in the ER.

Fuck it, I headed for the ER.  That's when I arrived, and saw everybody standing around with no patient in Bed One.  The parking lot door flew open, and usual scene unfolded with firemen wheeling in a guy while doing chest compressions, dumping him onto Bed One, us taking over, blah blah blah.  Apparently Junior was in the back of the house, his parents heard a thud, and found him down, in the bathroom. 

One good thing was that there was a bunch of young nursing students in their white uniforms (I hated when they made us do that, when we went to school), and the ER Doc and nurses made sure that each one of the newbies got a chance to spend five minutes doing compressions on Junior's chest.  Nothing like a little real-life hands-on experience.  I'm sure that this was the first time in their young lives that they ever did such a thing.

I realized that with all of the kids thumping him, I wouldn't be doing compressions on the guy, so I ran outta there, and cranked out Pinkie's 45 degree view of her clavicles.  Ran the cassette.  Perfect.  Sent the images via the internet to the radiologist,  and went back to the ER, where I discovered that there were zero white uniforms, all the students had disappeared, and Junior's dad was standing there, watching while the nurses and the ER Doc kept on working.  After half an hour of pumping Junior full of everything in the cabinet, and zapping him 3 times, the ER Doc called it.  We're done.  I think Junior's dad already knew where this was going when he called 911.

Still sucks.

I can't picture msyelf in his shoes. 

My presence served no useful purpose, so I tip-toed out of the ER. 

What I saw floored me.

I literally walked away from the bedside of a guy who just died, and was greeted in the hallway by the sight of a young woman in a wheelchair, being pushed towards the hospital exit by a nurse.  The woman held a newborn in her arms, and her husband was carrying baby supplies.  They slid out of the building into the warm summer sun, and went home.

Life goes on.

If I wrote a scene like that in one of my stories, other writers would kick my ass for assembling something so contrived.

Okay, so I'm a fat guy.  Do I want to die of a heart attack, too?  Nope.  I already had a doctor's appointment (she's a 'she') set up for this week.  Told her I want full blood work.  Haven't done it in a while.  I'm fat and out of shape, and over 40.  The lab paperwork is in my car.  Blod sugar, cholesterol, the whole 9 yards.  I'm going tomorrow morning, before work.  I need to stick around long enough to make sure my Little People go to grad school.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"Push Deeper and Slower"

Never thought I'd hear a man say that to me.

Don't get me wrong, he's a good-looking guy, but hey, I'm married and have kids (like any Republican senator), but that's besides the point.

Well, okay, he wasn't telling me to push him deeper and harder; he was telling me to push the other guy deeper and harder.  I'll explain in a minute, but first I need to step up onto the soap box:

There was alcohol involved. 

Hard liquor.

Fire water.

Here's the deal:  in this great land of ours' we are not supposed to state publicly that we consume alcohol.  Go ahead, and post a picture of yourself on Facebook with a drink in your hand.  Good luck finding a job, after that.  Despite the fact that you can't drive a freeway without flying past a billboard with a picture of a young blonde woman in a bikini holding a can of beer, we are all supposed to deny that we consume alcohol.  The erroneous assumption is that if you state publicly that you enjoy an occasional drink, then you're actually a no holds-barred raging alcoholic.


So, now I will tell you that aproximately every other Friday or Saturday night* instead of watching bad TV, I put a chair outside the front door (after I finaly find the cigar cutter), and park outside the house with the following items:

1) a large glass of cold water
2) a 2 ounce shot glass with 2 ounces of whiskey or brandy
3) a lighter (optional)
4) an imported cigar (optional)
5) the stars in the night sky
6) the moon

In a good year, I smoke around 10 cigars.  Typically, my wife buys me a pack of 10 high-quality cigars, each October for my birthday, and I finish them by next October.

Each year from this Christmas to the next, I consume one bottle of whiskey or brandy.  It takes me a year to go through a bottle of the good stuff.  And I do drink the good stuff.  If it's Scottish, it's single malt.  If it's American, it's single barrel.  Either way, it's at least 12 years old.

Not so in the case of the guy I was pushing too fast and too hard.

For the Fourth of July I performed my patriotic duty by working the day shift in the Emergency Room.  I was taking a breather after spending a couple hours on my feet in the O.R. wearing a lead apron, thyroid shield, and leaded glasses while operating the C-arm, when the overhead speaker announced, "RESPIRATORY THERAPY, E.R., STAT.  RESPIRATORY THERAPY, E.R., STAT." 

Uh, oh.

I got up, and dragged myself over to the E.R., where everybody was standing around Bed One.  In any ER, Bed One is the bed where they take care of people who have serious problems.  If you take somebody that you love to the hospital, and they put them into Bed One, that's not good.  I turned on the portable x-ray machine, made sure I have couple of 14X17s in the cassette holder, set it for a chest technique, and parked it really close to the ER door (We're not supposed to do that, but when there's a code blue going on, I defy decorum because when they intubate somebody or suspect a pneumothorax, I wanna shoot that cxr ASAP.)

I ask, "What's going on?"

Nurse says, "Full arrest.  Forty year old."


So we're all standing around, staring at the ER side door, where ambulances arrive.


"Five minutes."

Okay, I'm just gonna wait right here.

Finally, 12 minutes later the firemen show up, doing chest compressions on a guy in a gurney, while they wheel him in.  Their leader, the tallest, youngest fireman I've ever seen (seriously; this guy is NBA material), gives report to the ER Doc.  He rattles off how many milligrams of atropine, epinephrine, etc. he has given the guy, while I'm staring up at his retro-70s Neil Young sideburns, and nerd glasses. 

Apparently our friend here vomited blood, twice, the product of esophegeal varices, then crashed.  Esopha-what?  Well, you know your mom's varicose veins on her legs?  This guy had varicose veins of the esophagus, induced by years of drinking copious amounts of hard liquor.

Now, I like Jack Daniel, and George Dickel (despite the fact that they hated each other**), but here's how I like my whiskey: 




Alone, except that one night a year at Cathy Jacob's house, when we read bad Scottish poetry, while drinking good Scottish Whisky with no "e".  On that, I enjoy the company of others who appreciate a good drink, and a good cigar.

So anyway, we take over, and after our in-house EMTdoes chest compressions on the guy for 5 minutes (she's half my age, and half my weight), I step up to the plate i.e. foot stool, and find myself doing compressions for an amazingly long period of time, while the ER Doc is hunting for our new friend's femoral artery, so that he can start a triple lumen on him. 

ER Doc says, "Hold compressions."

I say, "Holding compressions," take my hands off the guy's chest, and stand up straight.  My left latissimus dorsi complains vigorously, so I reach for the ceiling, giving my back muscles a well-deserved stretch.

ER Doc says, "Stretch."

Hands in the air, I answer, "Stretching!"

ER Doc runs the line into the guy's femoral artery and says, "Resume compression."


ER Doc says, "Push deeper, and slower."

"Deeper and slower."

I didn't want to break the guy's ribs.  I've done that, you know.  Budapest, 1987 I believe.  Or was it 89?  Any way, I kept guesstimating how deep an inch and a half is, when pushing down on Jack Daniel here, not wanting to reak his ribs.  He doesn't need a pneumopthorax on top of his stopped heart, and internal bleeding.

Eventually, I let Rich take over.  He's a foot taller than me and could do CPR on a Grizzly Bear.

Next morning I'm doing one of my favorite things: washing the dishes while listening to KPCC, and Larry Mantle is doing a live show--a town hall meeting--about the legalization of marijuana.  One of the guests was LA County Sheriff Leroy "Lee" Baca.  Baca made several claims that I find hard to believe, but he did say something that floored me:  He said  that people use illegal drugs like marijuana as "self-medication" for depression.


The conversation almost shifted into a debate about health insurance.  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and rather than discussing drug abuse as a health issue, the conversation steered back to shooting illegal border crossers.

Made me proud to be an American.

Here's my take on legalizing pot in the US:  I have never smoked pot in my life.  Not once.  If they made it legal tomorrow, I would feel no desire to try it out. That's the least of it.  Here's the real point:  If they made it legal to buy, grow, and sell pot, the people who would go into business i.e. "go legit" are the ones who are already growing and selling it.  I don't hang out with people like that because they give me the willies.  I don't like druggies.  I know that this is a case of generalizing, but I feel pretty comfortable saying that all of the people who I have ever known who were into the drug culture were all people with very fuzzy moral boundaries.

*Actually, I don't think I drink that often.
**Yes, there really was a guy named Jack Daniel, and his competitor was a German immigrant named Georg (George) Dickel.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The End

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.


Keep hoping, it'll happen sooner or later.

Hopefully, later.

I should have died at Little Company of Mary Hospital in 1972.  They told my mom that I wasn't going to make it.

I decided to stick around.

They had us set up in a building, with all the lights turned off, and a soundtrack of an earthquake (with repeated aftershocks)  playing on high-quality speakers.  Angela took this picture during one of the rare moments during the earthquake drill when I wasn't screaming at the top of my lungs, or sobbing with self-pity.  I tried to make it as realistic as possible, by panicking when the rescue workers would leave me, in order to evacuate the more gravely injured victims.  There were 7 of us, all made up by a Hollywood movie make-up artist.  They asked us to wear clothes that we don't care about i.e. are ready to throw out.  The green shirt was one of my shirts with only a couple of little holes in it, that the wife wouldn't let me wear outside the house, anymore.  The Hollywood make-up lady whipped out a big pair of scissors, and went to town.  Then she grabbed a bottle of fake blood, and "Splat!" she squirted me all over.  The spike through my thigh was attached with a roll of medical tape, then decorated with more fake blood.

Helpful hint:  that fake blood doesn't wash off as easily as the artist will tell you.  I rode home on the Metrolink train with people staring at my leg.  Yes, I changed clothes.

We all hammed it up, acting like hysterical, emotionally distraught people.  Just like the people I x-ray on the weekends.  Take a good look at the victim in the back.  Ten bucks says that 10 years from now, he will be a famous stand-up comic, or movie star.  Mark my words.

The interesting thing about these drills is this: last year, I was one of the guys in a helmet and vest, avoiding fallen objects, finding injured people in a dark building, assessing & tagging them, then going back in to carry them out.  Despite the fact that I knew it was an exercise, despite the fact that I knew that it was all fake blood, props, and make-up, despite the fact that I have dealt with an untold number of real-life shooting, stabbing, and motor vehicle accident victims since the early 1980s in Emergency Rooms, and despite having served in the military,  I got really stressed out while we carried out the search and rescue final exam.

That really surprised me.

Somehow, the process of acting and pretending made it real.

I discussed this with a friend who is a fellow writer. His answer surprised me, but made sense:  some times, when a writer gets stuck while writing a scene or chapter, what they do is stand up, and act out the scene with somebody, and what they need to write for the rest of that scene magically comes into their head.

The human brain never ceases to amaze me.