Monday, June 27, 2011


My apologies to Buzz Lightyear.

Istvan Katona and I did a big day in search of life birds for him, and year birds for me.

Istvan drove from Irvine to my house, and for our first bird we counted the Mockingbird that has been taunting me all night long—singing outside my bedroom window—since it got hot. We left Claremont in his Toyota Corrolla at 04:30 a.m., arriving in Indio at the Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center at 06:10 a.m. [there was already useable sunlight for birding at 05:30, so we counted M Doves, Rock Pigeons, Ravens, and an obvious (slightly out-of-range?) American Crow in Cabazon]. The Bird Center driveway was open, and we could see 2 cars parked in front of the office, so we parked there, too, waved at the lady feeding some animals in a cage, and followed the directions given by Kurt Leuschner’ (wow, what a cool name: if that was my name I would be a film director making movies about cave paintings in France), staring in the direction of the 10 freeway at the big field of saltbush. Western Kingbirds, Bushtits, Black-tailed Gnatcatchers, Verdin, Gambel’s Quail, Mallards, Black-necked Stilts. Around 06:40 the first Crissal Thrasher showed itself just barely long enough for Istvan to see all of its field marks, before dropping. At 07:00 one sat out on top of a salt bush, and sang for several minutes.

 As we prepared to leave, we were admonished to sign in, which we did, after going inside, and seeing various owls and nighthawks in cages, along with a fuzzy little baby Killdeer.

 The lady identified various caged birds for us, including a microscopic nightjar that she called a Lesser Nighthawk.

“You sure it isn’t a Common Poorwill?”


Perhaps she meant “Least Nighthawk”.

The seed feeders outside had a scrawny, sickly looking female Western Tanager that kept hiding behind the House Finches and Lesser Goldfinches.

A mile down Highway 111 we stopped at Starbucks (Istvan: tall mocha frapuccino & a apple fritter; me: grande mocha with extra whip & a plain bagel with cream cheese), and drove west on 111 to Palm Desert, where we hooked a left onto Highway 74, and drove up to Pinyon Flats Campground. No Pinyon Jays. This was Istvan’s 6th try in 12 years for Pinyon Jay. We continued along Hwy 74 to Morris Ranch Road (no luck) but Fobes (not “Forbes”) Ranch Road had Pygmy Nuthatches, Red-shafted Flickers, California Quail, Bullock’s Orioles, House Finches, Starlings, Black-chinned Sparrows (one sang out in the open), Red-tailed Hawks, Scrub Jays, Turkey Vultures, and then FINALLY three Pinyon Jays. Thank you, Fake Neil Gilbert (the kid in Orange County isn’t the Real Neil Gilbert. The Real Neil Gilbert is a retired banker in Claremont who was birding before Fake Neil Gilbert’s parents were born.)

09:24 a.m.

Cell phone rings.

“Ho Tom, it’s L.C. There’s a Lesser Sandplover at Bolsa Chica.”

“You’re kidding! I hope it’s there tomorrow!”


“I’m doing a Big Day in the desert with my friend, Istvan.”

“Well, maybe you’ll get lucky.”

Istvan, of course, is unimpressed. He has seen tons of Lesser Sandplovers in Japan. He wants to see a Willow Flycatcher.

10:00 a.m.

All right, let’s get off this mountain, and go down to the Salton Sea. Wow, the views on Highway 74 are GORGEOUS. In Palm Desert we stopped for two more Starbucks (Istvan worked until 10:00 p.m. on Friday night, while I worked until 8:00 p.m., and then took my kids to the drive-in for the 8:45 p.m. premiere of “Cars 2”, so we both got 3 hours of sleep). You know you’re in the nice part of town when the Starbucks has valet parking. Since we only had $100s, we parked the Corolla, ourselves. Istvan got a grande cappuccino, while I got a tall mocha frapucinno. Driving north on Bob Hope Drive, we stopped at a gas station, bought a bottle of Coke and a canned Starbucks vanilla mocha, then took the 10 east to the 86S, down the 111 to the Salton Sea


Brown Pelicans, Cattle Egrets, Kestrels, Loggerhead Shrikes, Mockingbirds. We took Sinclair Road (Cliff Swallows, Tree Swallows, Burrowing Owls, Western Meadowlarks, White-faced Ibis) west to Garst Road, and drove north slooowly. Lots of California Gulls, one LAUGHING GULL, Marbled Godwits, Long-billed Curlews, Avocets, Stilts, one Willet, Killdeer. At Obsidian Butte Istvan pointed out a REDDISH EGRET and a BRANT among the Greater Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Great Blue Herons. Western Grebe. Two adult YELLOW-FOOTED GULLS, lots of Brown and American White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, etc.

Back to Garst Road, where we drove over the sandy bump on the bridge at Red Hill Marina, and parked. We walked several hundred yards north on the icky, slippery, smelly road, because all of the birds were well to the north: two WOOD STORKS, GULL-BILLED TERNS, two BLACK SKIMMERS, WILSON’S PHALAROPES, LARGE-BILLED SAVANNAH SPARROWS, Caspian Terns, Coots, Ruddy Ducks, one SNOWY PLOVER, etc.


Cattle Egrets, Clark’s Grebe, Common Yellowthroats, Red-winged Blackbirds, Abert’s Towhees, Black-crowned Night Herons, Black Phoebes, Double-crested Cormorants, and NO Neotropical Cormorant. My 3rd failure at Ramer Lake, on top of 3 failures at Sunbeam Lake to get Neotropical Cormorant on my California list. À la Stephen Colbert, I shook an angry fist at the sky, squinted, and swore vengeance.


Common Ground Doves, Eurasian Collared Doves, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Black-chinned Hummingbird (at a feeder), but no Bronzed Cowbird. Oh, well. We hit the MacDonald’s in Brawley, where I ordered a “large” Oreo McFlurry. Have you noticed that prices are not going up, the food packages are getting smaller and smaller? I needed a magnifying glass to find my large McFlurry. No time for Gila Woodpeckers et al at Cattle Call Park: we have bigger fish to fry. We head east on Highway 78, towards Algodones Dunes.

3:00 p.m. OMG Algodones Dunes is BEAUTIFUL. I am taking my wife and kids there in the winter on my next Neotropical Cormorant debacle.

OMG it’s so hot. Whatever the temperature is, I don’t wanna know. It’s better that way. Istvan keeps smiling, taking pictures, and saying, “This is just like Tunisia! This is just like Tunisia! This is just like Tunisia!”

I think the heat has gotten to him. I keep expecting Mark Harmon to cruise by on a camel (If you have never seen his epic 1984 Italian film “Revenge of the Tuareg” count yourself lucky. Jethro Gibbs plays a blue-eyed Tuareg who—as the title accurately predicts—seeks revenge.)

4:00 p.m. STILL ON HIGHWAY 78

We are on an endless stretch of highway in the Colorado River Valley. White-winged Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-headed Blackbird. White-winged Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-headed Blackbird. White-winged Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-headed Blackbird. To break the monotony, we insert an acoustic, studio Eric Clapton CD. First song is a mellow version of “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.” Second song is a mellow version of “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.” Third song is a mellow version of “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.”

Istvan’s eyes bulge, and he issues an ultimatum: either the CD or I am going to fly out of the car very soon, if Clapton doesn’t change his tune. We are cursing each others’ village, mother, and dog, but then fisticuffs are narrowly avoided when the Blythe Texaco suddenly disrupts our mutterings in Hungarian [For the record, Hungarian is the best language in the world for swearing at people. Hungarian cussing invokes parents, their body parts, donkeys, dogs, and storks (and their body parts), rabbits, venereal disease, and ladies of ill repute. The average 8 year-old Hungarian boy could make a New York doctor blush.]

The gas tank full, we drive over the Colorado River into La Paz County, Arizona (home of Felicia McGee, Miss Arizona 2011).

We are pressed for time, so instead of taking the scenic, beautiful California 95, on the west bank of The River, we zoom north on Mohave Road a.k.a. State Highway 1 a.k.a. County Road 1, zip through the town of Parker, and eventually get to Parker Strip. If you have never been to this stretch of The River, do so ASAP. On second thought, wait until October, when it’s below 100F. The River is hemmed in by dramatic, deep narrow red cliffs, making for some fantastic scenery. We slow down to a crawl, staring at the river, that is yards away from the car.

“Ott van!” (There it is)

The Yellow-billed Loon is casually floating in the Colorado River, one yard from the east bank. We park illegally, stare at the bird—making it Istvan’s third life bird of the day—then move the car to a safer spot. While I am photographing it, some blond guys pull over and ask,

“Dude, like what are you looking at?”

Istvan croaks, “I am looking at Yellow-billed Loon.”

“No way! Can we borrow your binoculars? It’s our day off, and we left them at home.”

Turned out that David and Leif are biologists doing a Yellow-billed Cuckoo survey at the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge. While we stood on the edge of the highway, ogling the loon, we talked about Sabine’s Gulls, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and other things that make you get out of bed at 3 in the morning. They gave us directions to the “The Bill”, but warned us not to expect Willow Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, or the Common Blackhawk that are there, this late in the day.

A NOTE ABOUT THE YELLOW-BILLED LOON: It looks like it has a fish hook in its mouth. The whole time we watched it, its mouth was open, and it could/would not close the bill. Istvan and I took photos of what we assume is a foreign body. An alternate explanation would be that it was panting from the extreme heat, and that backwards “C” in its mouth was its tongue. If it is a fish hook, this would explain the bird’s poor health, plumage, etc., and it would be desirable to capture & rehab it.


Imagine if someone picked up the Kern River Preserve, and plopped it down into a steep canyon at a 90 degree angle to a desert river. Wow. This place needs to get birded every spring and fall for eastern vagrants. Gila Woodpecker, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeaks, Song Sparrows, Yellow-breasted Chats, Crissal Thrasher, Canyon Wren, but Istvan didn’t get Yellow-billed Cuckoo or Willow Flycatcher for a life bird.

 We clearly “heard” a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, but Istvan thinks it was a Chat imitating Cuckoo calls. Tired, salty, and sweaty, we drive back towards the town of Parker, admiring the multiple Lesser Nighthawks and sp? bats along The River. McDonalds Angus burger for Istvan, Taco Bell steak quesadilla for me. In Parker we got onto Highway 62, intending to get home via 29 Palms/Morongo Valley. Having spent 4 hours in Arizona, we crossed into San Bernardino County, California (home of Tom Benson) at 8:15 p.m. The 4 hour drive to Claremont was uneventful, except for the Kit Fox that almost ran in front of us on Highway 62 (he turned back).

East Germany's answer to the VW Bug
It had a 2-stroke, horribly polluting engine--not fit for a lawnmower.

Well that, and the time that Istvan almost crashed the car, when I started telling a Cold War-era joke that made fun of the Communists. I said, “This East German family drive their Trabant into West Germany…” and next thing I know, Istvan is guffawing, he can’t open his eyes, and the Corolla is swerving all over the highway.

11:58 p.m. CLAREMONT

The wife and kids are asleep. Gina, the World’s Most Dangerous Basset Hound howls at me, rolls over onto her back, and demands that I rub her belly.

Stupid rooftop Mockingbird is at it, again, but after 705 miles on the road, that shower sure feels good. I don’t remember falling asleep.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

City of Trees


One a.m.

Cough syrup with codeine

The good stuff

So why am I still up?

Because I live in Claremont

Claremont is the City of Trees

I am allergic to trees

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gotcha, sucker!

Glossy Ibis (left) and White-faced Ibis at San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge 19 June 2011

     Man, I haven't seen a Glossy Ibis in over 10 years.  As a matter of fact, the only time I've ever seen one was in Hungary with István Katona.  There was a hybrid bird at the other pond that had blue legs with obvious red knees, but the face of a White-faced Ibis, but the other 300 birds were all "pure" (as far as we know) White-faced Ibis.
     Glossy Ibis--which breeds from Louisiana to the Eastern Seaboard--is so hard to tell apart from our normal California i.e. western species of White-faced Ibis, that there is an entire chapter on separating them in "Advanced Birding".  Fortunately, this bird was in high breeding plumage, so all I had to do was stare at every single one of the 300 other ibis out there, one-by-one, needle-in-a-haystack, and say, "No, your face is white.  Nope, you have a white face. Nope, there's white behind your eyes." for an hour.
   Separating these same 2 birds (literally, the 2 birds in the photo) in December would be a nightmare ending with birders cussing each other out, accusing each other of withcraft, idolatry, and Zoroastranism.
  Guy has the annoying habit of finding a winter plumage Glossy Ibis at the Salton Sea in the middle of a flock of 2,000 White-faced Ibis.  Each year when he writes an email like that, I just shake my head and say, "No way, Jose. Not driving four hours to Sinclair Road to stare at a flock that big all day long."

     Well, there's Howard, getting into his pickup truck.  If you don't know Howard's last name, then you aren't a serious California birder.

Other birders whose last names are not necessary:

Chet (thanks for finding the Glossy Ibis, Chet!)
Stan name a few.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011



So I’m working in the ER last weekend, and this nurse, X, starts showing me her gold wire jewelry that she made, herself. Starts telling me that I should buy some for my wife. I tell her that my wife doesn’t wear jewelry (This is true. It is both a good and a bad thing as (1) my wife isn’t out to spend my paycheck on jewelry while (2) my wife is very hard to buy presents for on her birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and Christmas). She pushes, insisting that my wife would really like this jewelry, since it’s hand-made, blah blah blah…

Couple days later, late into the evening, it’s almost time to go home. I burn a patient’s x-rays onto a CD, for them to take home (you don’t drive home with big sheets of black & white film negative a.k.a. x-ray film in a big white paper envelope, any more—we went digital years ago) and I suspect that not all of the images got onto the CD. I tell the ER clerk that I’m going back to Radiology to burn a 2nd CD—of the rest of the images—just to make sure. I go back to the department, and Q shows up for the graveyard shift. We start talking, I clock out, and drive home. When I get home I realize, “Holy shitburgers, I didn’t give them the second CD!” So I call up the ER on my home phone, and Nurse X answers. I tell her about how I forgot to drop off the CD before going home, and that the CD is still in the computer in Radiology. She says, “Got it,thanks.”

So of course the next day at work I get pulled into the Radiology office where I am forced to sign a Maoist declaration of self-criticism in which I admit that I am a Kulak, a counter-revolutionary, a Bourgeoisie Enemy of the People. It’s not the Radiology manager’s fault; he got this long, ranting email from Nurse X about what a lazy jerk I am. Not satisfied with what she wrote, she called the Radiology Manager, and went on a rant about what a rude, unprofessional asshole I am.


So, of course, half an hour after I signed the voluntary confession (that I am a capitalist running dog), and the Radiology Manager had gone home for the day, the proverbial light blub clicked on over my head, and that’s when I realized that the whole incident with the CD that I forgot to hand-carry over the ER was nothing more than a great opportunity for Nurse X to get even with me for not buying her home-made jewelry.

Hello? Can I get a little justice, here? I did, of course,write the Radiology Manager a follow-up email, and to quote my mother, “Thanks God”, he must have followed up on it, because the next night I saw Nurse X, and Boy, Did She Give Me Dirty Looks For The Rest Of The Shift. If looks could kill, I wouldn’t be writing this on my wife’s laptop, I’d be transmitting it from my grave via a ouija board at a séance (allow me the hubris of assuming that when I’m dead, anybody would want to hear from me).

So here’s what pisses me off: people who can dish it out, but they can’t take it. Aaargh.

Consider this: Right now, the one thing that is keeping me financially afloat until I find a full-time job is the fact that the Radiology Manager has been giving me a lot of shifts, but each time I as an employee get written up, it goes into my file—and as far as I understand it—If you get written up X number of times (I don’t know the number) corporate policy is that they have to fire your ass. So, whether or not my 6 year old son and 5 year old daughter become homeless is in the hands of people like Nurse X. It doesn’t matter whether or not I’m a talented, experienced x-ray tech with strong ethics. That doesn’t go into the equation.

Here’s the real problem: what kind of shift I will have tomorrow is not determined by what kind of patients show up, or how well I do my job—it’s determined by who is working in the ER, tomorrow. The one thing that I don’t understand is the extreme level of tension in this ER. I have never seen so many unhappy, angry people shackled together in one place in all my life. Wait, that’s almost true: Daniel Freeman Marina Del Rey’s ER and Radiology Department were a disaster in the 1990s until they figured out that, like my mom always said, “A fejtől büdösődik a hal,” (Der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf her.) and they fired the Radiology Manager. She was awesome. I was working alone on a 3-day weekend shift, and the ER got super busy, so I did what I was told to do: I called in the back-up tech (the manager’s friend), who of course, showed up reeking of alcohol, and slurring her words. The Radiology Manager’s response was to berate me for calling in the back-up tech (who got paid to be on stand-by), when I should have been able to x-ray all of those people, myself, without help. She actually wrote me up. That was 20 years ago, when I was young & stupid, and I let people like her get away with shit like that.

Today’s shift, for example was nice. The mood was set by J.

J is a crusty old Vietnam vet. He’s a no bullshit guy who doesn’t take himself—or anybody else—seriously. As soon as I saw him, I knew that the shift would go well, regardless of what medical events go wrong with the patients. God Bless the USMC for cranking out guys like J.

This, in fact, is the crux of the problem: we work in a job where the worst-case scenario is that somebody dies—so really—do we need to make being at work worse by being at each others’ throats? If I were to make mistake in front of J, he would most likely wrinkle his grizzled, white eyebrows and hiss, “What the fuck was that?” which in fact is far more painful than getting written up, because I’m a guy, and like all men, I suffer from this horrible disease: we spend our whole lives obsessively trying to get men older or higher up the food chain than us to approve of—and like us. Having J think I’m an idiot has far more corrective power than a write-up.


photo credit: St John's Ambulance of Australia (G'day, mates!)

So Q comes in for the graveyard shift, and he says, “Man, you were lucky that you went home when you did, last night. Three people on backboards brought in from the same car accident. One of them is drunk as a skunk, and he rips the c-spine collar off his neck. Then he unbuckles the straps on the backboard, and gets off the gurney. Then he rips the i.v. out of his arm, and blood squirts across the room, hitting his friend, who sees the blood, and BBBLLLECCHH! pukes all over the floor.”

I snorted, and laughed so hard that I almost fell out of my chair.



Before I rip into male nurses, first a caveat, then a short lesson in radiation biology:

1) I rip into nurses all the time, but some of my best friends are nurses. To paraphrase, “I love nurses as a class, but I hate the nurses I know.” My apologies to Edna.

2) If you are a woman under 50 years old, and you need an x-ray or a CT (which is nothing but a computerized 3D x-ray), whatever hospital you go to will make you jump through hoops before they’re willing to zap you. This is as it should be. You have to get a pregancy test, and sign a waiver with all kinds of info about when you had your last period, etc.

Okay, so here’s the problem: you get a young, fertile female, and she’s not the patient who needs an x-ray, it’s her kid that needs an x-ray—but we need her—or someone—to hold the kid still during the x-ray. Do you do a pregnancy test on Mom? No, because she isn’t the patient. So, what I do is I always ask the moms if their husband, or some other male relative (over the age of 18) is around. If the answer is ‘yes’, then Dad gets to hold his kid for the x-rays. Sometimes Dad is already sitting next to Mom and the kid in the ER, sometimes Dad is out in the waiting room watching Nancy Grace a.k.a. The Harpy on CNN, and sometimes Dad is out in the parking lot, on the cell phone. Sometimes Dad isn’t around, and Grandma winds up holding the kid for the x-ray. Sometimes Mom is alone, and she has to hold the kid. Whoever it is, they wind up wearing a lead apron while holding the kid down on the table, and typically there is a 2nd lead apron on the kid’s pelvic area, too.

No problem.

So this weekend I walked up to the patient bed, where Mom was waiting with her baby, who needed an x-ray.

“Hi Mom. What’s this baby’s name?”

“John Smith Jr.” (not his real name)

“Okay. The doctor ordered an x-ray. Any chance you’re pregnant?”

She shrugs, “I don’t know!”

“Is your husband here?”

“Yes.” (Whew!)

“Where is he?”

“Out in the waiting room.”

“What’s his name?”

“John Smith Senior.” (Duh)

So I open the waiting room door, and Dad isn’t there. I go back to Mom, who turns out not to have her cell phone, but she knows his number,and says that he has to be here, close by. Awesome humanitarian that I am, I give her my cell phone, and she calls him. He immediately answers from the parking lot, and runs full-tilt to the ER door.

So far, so good. Mom, Dad, Junior and I head out of the ER towards Radiology, to go take Junior’s x-ray.

photo credit: A & E Watches

     Nurse Y, a.k.a. Mr. Rolex (He wears his Explorer II like a Papuan phallic reed), is holding court with “his” ER staff, and he stops us dead in our tracks. He’s sitting on a stool, legs splayed apart at an anatomically impossible angle, and he’s leaning so far back that I can’t figure out how he has not fallen off the stool. The rest of the ER’s nurses and clerks are standing around him in a semi-circle, and he bellows, “Hey Tom, you didn’t need to get the dad. You coulda just had mom hold him for the x-rays!”

Wow. I have so many responses to that, and none of them are pleasant. So I said, “I’ll be happy to discuss that when we get back.”

So after I x-rayed the kid (Dad held him, while Mom stayed outside the x-ray room), and took them back to their ER bed, I left the ER without talking to Nurse Y. I was furious at him. I stood out in the hallway, outside the ER door, while my mind did loop-the-loops:

I should go back in there.

Nah, bad idea.

No, I need to set him straight.

Nah, he’ll actually turn it against you, and file a written complaint—even though you’re right, and he has no business telling you how to do your job.

I checked my pants: yes, my testicles were still there. So I went back into the ER.

Prince Charming was still slouched on his throne—I mean stool. So I said, “Y, would you still like to discuss why I got Dad?”

“YEAH! I wanna talk about that.”

“Okay, well let me ask you a question…”

“No! You just answer my question!”

“No. First I get to ask my question: do you feel it’s okay for you to confront me like that in a room full of people in a manner that could potentially embarrass me?”

“Well, I need to know why you did that.”

“Maybe, but the way you did that was uncool.” (I should have said the word I wanted to use: he was totally unprofessional)

“Well, I uh…You didn’t need the dad. Mom coulda held the kid for the x-ray!”

“Says who?”

“Well, well, well…your manual says that the mom can hold the kid for an x-ray while wearing a lead apron.”

“Now, Y, you know how we refuse to x-ray young females until they get a pregnancy test, and we still make them fill out the waiver?”


“Well then, why is it okay to make a young fertile female hold her kid at arm’s length, when we don’t know for sure that she’s not pregnant, and her husband or mom is right here in the ER?”

“Well, you caused a delay in patient care.”

“Really? How long did it take for me to get Dad? It was an extra 2 or 3 minutes.”

“Yeah but, all of those 3 minutes add up, and we’re really busy here.”

Wow, he had the balls to look me in the eyes and say that. Half the ER beds were empty, which is precisely why his ass was glued to that stool. The argument dragged on and on, and I could clearly see that he was resorting to semantics and other high school debate team tricks to try to win an argument he shouldn’t have started in the first place, so I said, “Well, I’m done discussing this.”

He screams, “You haven’t answered my 2nd question!”

“I answered your original question, and feel no need to answer any more. I’m leaving now. I’m going to lunch while there’s still another x-ray tech to cover for me. Goodbye.”

I waved Adios at the lot of them, and waltzed out.

Actually, a few minutes into the argument, once Y had gotten in over his head, I could already see that he had lost his posse. They were still standing around him, but their facial expressions revealed that Mr. Rolex had lost his followers.

Well, I haven’t heard anything from Management, so I’m assuming that Mr. Rolex didn’t bother to write me up.

Good boy.


I speak fluent Spanish. Because I have blond hair and blue eyes, when I claim to be fluent in Spanish, the California version of reverse discrimination kicks in: people assume that I am lying, because only people with brown skin know how to speak Spanish.

Exsqueeze me? Or should I say, “¿Escuchame?”

Try this on for irony: in Europe the Spaniards disdainfully proclaimed, “Tu hablas como un Mexicano.”

So I had an exasperating conversation with a patient, yesterday: I walked up to her, and instantly determined that she did not speak English; she only spoke Spanish. So I started talking with her in Spanish. Every time I said something in Spanish, she turned to her friend standing next to her, who repeated everything in Spanish that I had just said, in Spanish.

These are the times that try men’s souls.