Thursday, September 28, 2006

Heaviness and Hurt

Hurt so deep
Saber of emotion

Blade of pain
Cuts through the thin veneer

The skin we coat our lives with

Protecting us from the unwanted intruders

Of sickness, loneliness, emptiness


They walk in
Day after day, month, year
All hoping for a cup of cold water
To soothe their parched lips
The endless flow of need coming through the door
Tugs at my tired arm once again
Bidding me come, help

Some days are heavy
Room after room
Heart after heart
All with hands open and insides exposed
Bruised, bloodied, bludgeoned, buried in despair
Looking for slivers of hope
Looking for escape, relief

On my way home
Power totally drained
Thoughts on hold
I try to put down the load
Shoulders still aching from the weight
The heaviness of hurt, the immensity of pain
Turn to face my own life now
Take a deep breath in

A painful honor
A noble burden
Standing in the gap
When all other hopes have disappeared
That I should share suffering tears
That I should hold hopeless hands
I’m not that special or wise
Just me, tired, insecure

No praise to give
Too deep, too real
I wonder why I have been called
To be the one they come to when others fail
I had no teachers in this lesson
Aside from my own scars
Healed wounds, yet hurting still
My many mistakes

Dying, hurting, scared, alone
It is my hand they come to hold
I can only give thanks
For the honor given
The weight can crush
I daily ask for strength
To carry some more loads
To hold some more hands
To open that door

Gifted Child

More kids and Cars:

Three-year-old buys pink convertible on eBay

Tue Sep 26, 9:30 AM ET

Jack Neal briefly became the proud owner of a pink convertible car after he managed to buy it for 9,000 pounds on the Internet despite being only three years old.

Jack's mother told the BBC she had left her password for the eBay auction site in her computer and her son used the "buy it now" option to complete the purchase.

"Jack's a whiz on the PC and just pressed all the right buttons," Rachel Neal said.

The seller of the second-hand car, a dealer from Worcestershire, was amused by the bid and agreed not to force the sale through.

"Luckily he saw the funny side and said he would re-advertise," Neal said.

The parents were wondering why 2000 "Tickle Me Elmo's" arrived at their house. I would think that there is some sort of verification process where knowing how to spell and read is required on e-bay.

Come to think of it, my dog has spent some time near the computer and we started getting Playdog delivered to our house last week. I was wondering about that.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

All Ears

Fellow bloggers, lend me your ears.

I can probably attribute a substantial percent of my lifetime income to ears (although I have never done the math). In pediatrics, otitis media (middle ear infection) is a staple for office visits during the winter, and otitis externa (swimmer's ear) is a frequent reason for visits during the summer. So I have spent a substantial amount of time (probably several weeks) of my life looking in people's ears - especially children.

Over the years, I have made several observations. First I have noted that people tend to be very apologetic about the wax in their ears. I am not certain why this is the case, as it is a natural condition to have wax in the ears, in fact the absence of wax can cause problems (I once heard that wax keeps bugs out of people's ears, but I could not verify it). People often say something like, "I'm sorry about my ears. I didn't get to clean them out." What are they thinking? Do they really think I am offended by the sight of wax? I got some understanding of why people apologize in this situation when I went to get my teeth cleaned and found myself apologizing for the tartar on my teeth. Same thing.

Second, there are a number of odd things I have discovered in ears. Kids tend to put things in their ears and never tell people about it. I have found beads, breakfast cereal, and other assorted small objects in the ear canal. One older gentleman had a toothpick in his ear that he did not know about. The worst thing is when cockroaches get in ears. I usually get my nurse to irrigate ears, but with roaches I just do it without telling her as she has a strong aversion to these critters (as we say in Georgia). Roaches enjoy the warm and dark atmosphere, but can't back out well and so usually die (maybe the wax kills them).

One of the most important skills for a pediatrician is to clean wax out of ears. This is an acquired skill that you perfect over years of practice. Since otitis media is a common problem, it is important to get a good look at the eardrum. We use a tool called a "cerumen spoon" - cerumen is the fancy-schmancy name for earwax - and dig wax out of the ear. Sometimes this is an easy task (easier for adults than children), but sometimes it is a high-decibel experience which leaves both parent and pediatrician physically and emotionally exhausted. Occasionally the ear canal is very sensitive and bleeds when you clean it. I hate it when this happens, because it is hard to explain to parents why you caused the child to bleed from their ear. An interesting phenomenon which happens when you clean some people's ears, they have a strong need to cough. This is a phenomenon called Arnold's Reflex, caused by a branch of the vagus nerve going to the external ear canal. Why it decided to be this way is a mystery to me, but Dr. Arnold has to be happy because let him go down in posterity (I always felt sorry for Dr. Cowper). As an aside, one of the causes of chronic cough is earwax or a hair on the eardrum - due to our dear friend Dr. Arnold.

I generally don't mind cleaning out people's ears (even the children). When you get a "Mother Load" of wax out of someones ear, I have found the most common thing for people to say is, "Good Lord," followed closely by "Oh my God." I am not sure why wax brings out the religious side of people. Perhaps Dr. Arnold can explain that too. One thing I will never do is to clean out my own kids' ears. I did that once when they were young and it was terrible to have my wife watching with great suspicion as I subjected my son to external ear torture. I have never done that again.

Finally, I have found that I have made a progression over the years I have practiced as to what I say when I look in ears. Probably one in two adult patients (or parents of teenagers) say "can you see through to the other side?" when I look in the ear. I have resorted to saying "No, the spider webs are getting in the way." For young children, telling them you see something in the ear is a well-used way to get them to cooperate. Over the past 12 years I have made a progression of what I tell kids I see:
  1. I started out seeing Barney in the ears - Even thought I detest this character almost as much as Precious Moments (that's saying something!), I found it was quite popular for a time. After a while, thankfully, the popularity of this fingernails-on-a-blackboard character waned and I no longer had to profane the air with his name.
  2. Then I started saying I saw birdies or butterflies in the ears. This worked well with girls, but the boys just sneered.
  3. I have tried multiple other characters, such as Dora, the Wiggles, and Sponge Bob (I never did stoop so low as to do Telletubbies), but their acceptance was never as wide as "He who should not be named" - the dinosaur thing.
  4. My most popular ear finding is to say there is food in their ear. I have started saying I see peanut butter in the first ear, and another food in the second (usually macaroni and cheese or spaghetti and meatballs). This works up to older ages as well as the younger kids. They think it is absurd to have peanut butter in their ears. I ask them if they put it in there or if it squished out when they were eating. I get a lot of belly laughs from that.
I would love to hear any other interesting foreign body stories (keep it to the ears, please - no GI or GYN stories! I would also like to hear any other successful ear inhabitants used to calm the nervous child.

Just for my good friend Clark Bartram, I found a couple of interesting sites on the homeopathic and chiropractic treatment of ear problems. Simply astounding.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Humorous Picture

I took this with my camera phone, so it is not the best quality, but it is interesting that they would offer both a weekend breakfast buffet and GC gift cards. It did not really sound too tempting to me. I wonder if they lace the eggs with penicillin.

The medical folks will all get this one. Other restaurants in this chain offer HPV and HSV gift cards. You know...the gift that keeps on giving! I hear their sales are not too brisk, however.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Straight Dope

OK, they do call it dope, don't they?

Man strolling with pot plants busted

Fri Sep 22, 9:03 PM ET

Aaron Janssen made it way too easy. Janssen, 36, was arrested on marijuana charges Thursday, after he was spotted taking a leisurely stroll through downtown, carrying his recently harvested pot plants.

Polk County Chief Deputy Mark Burdock said he did a double-take when he looked out his office window at the county jail and saw Janssen walking down the sidewalk, carrying his freshly harvested crop.

"I look out the window ... , and I see him walking north carrying a green leafy substance, all pulled up by its roots," Burdock said. "He was carrying it like you'd carry a bundle of presents. It was tall enough where he was looking over the top of them, and he's just walking like nothing's going on."

Burdock said he went outside and yelled at Janssen, who walked right over to him, still carrying the plants.

Janssen said the plants were part of his marijuana grown near the Des Moines River, but wouldn't say exactly where, Burdock said.

Deputies also found two two-pound bags of processed marijuana strapped to each of Janssen's legs, and a third wrapped in a sweater.

There is not really much I can say about this display of incredible intelligence. Is it cluelessness, or is it a drug-induced stupor? Does it matter?

OK, number two:

Mom properly jailed for letting baby smoke dope

Fri Sep 22, 4:10 PM ET

A Montana mother who allowed her 18-month-old baby daughter to inhale from a marijuana water pipe on several occasions was properly convicted, but should not have to spend five years in jail, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday.

Jessica Durham was photographed allowing her toddler Michala to suck from a marijuana water pipe, also known as a bong, in 2004 by a friend upset about the activity.

"Ms. Durham allegedly remarked that smoking improved Michala's appetite and left Michala lethargic and mellow - a manner she found consistent with her own experience smoking marijuana," Judge Louis Pollak of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in summarising the case.

In 2005, a lower court sentenced Durham to five years in prison for unlawful marijuana distribution. She appealed both the conviction and the sentence.

In its ruling on Friday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit upheld the conviction but said the sentence exceeded the applicable federal law which calls for punishment of no more than two years in prison.

I give a lot of advice for the way to properly handle an 18-Month old. Typically these kids are throwing temper tantrums and are quite a handful (believe me, I have had 4 of them at home). This is a real novel approach. There have certainly been times when "lethargic and mellow" sounds just great. Improved appetite as well...hmmm.

Now, here is a good approach to snuff out the conspiracy:

Polish woman caught growing marijuana for cow

Fri Sep 22, 11:19 AM ET

A Polish woman who grew marijuana to calm the nerves of her cow has been charged with cultivating a narcotic by police in the western town of Lobez.

The cow had been "skittish and unruly" -- once breaking a person's arm -- until someone suggested mixing cannabis in with its feed, the woman told police.

"The cow became as calm as a lamb," the 55-year-old woman said, according to the PAP news agency.

The woman's plants, grown from seeds she bought at a market, reached nearly three metres (yards) tall and were extremely potent, police said.

Marijuana possession is a crime throughout Poland. The woman faces up to three years in jail if convicted.

What is most interesting here is the fact that the woman giving pot to the cow could get more time than the lady who had her baby sucking on the bong. I really think that the people of Switzerland ought to sit up and take notice. Just make Elsie real mellow. With all the controversy about cows fed hormones, this poses a different kind of problem.

I also wonder about the whole deal with the cows speaking with different accents. How would a cow on pot talk? "Well, like Mooo...." "Hey man, this cud just tastes great! I think, like, I might just chew it again." "Whoaaa. Am I seeing spots? No, that's just a Guernsey. Heh, heh, heh."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Northern boy moves South

I grew up in upstate (Rochester) New York. I loved to play in the snow, cross-country ski, and play hockey on the pond behind our house. I loved the cool fall days with the crisp crunching of leaves under my feet. I loved going to the cider mill and getting fresh apples, fried cakes, and cider. I thought I would always stay a northern boy.

But a funny thing happened: I got married. My wife was actually from Oklahoma and we met in Philadelphia (I was in Medical School - Jefferson, and she was just getting a change of scenery). After residency, we had to decide where to live. I wouldn't have minded going up north, but it was too far from her family. Thankfully, she really did not want to go back to Oklahoma (it would have been too far from my family and it did not really appeal to me). She has sisters in Charlotte and Asheville, and we felt that the Southeast would be a good compromise - planning on living in the Charlotte area. Well, we ended up in Augusta, GA; in the deep south. Quite a change from upstate New York!

Now I have lived here for 12 years, and I have a few observations about life in Dixie.
  1. People up North say: "Isn't it hot down there?" Well, yes it is very hot in the summer, but the rest of the year more than makes up for it. There are 3 months of the year here when the weather is very hot and humid. You just stay inside. The evenings are cooler, and the pool is very nice. However, the spring starts in February and ends in May/June. Fall starts in September and goes to late November. These two seasons are absolutely gorgeous. We have mostly sunny days - twice as many sunny days that we had in Rochester. The winter up north is equivalent to the summer down here - you stay inside. But the nights are worse, and it lasts more than 3 months (in Rochester, at least). So when all is said and done, we have many more nice days (between 65 and 85) - probably 2-3 times more of them, than the northern states do. South 1, North 0
  2. I thought I would miss the fall we had up North. I do. The colors in upstate are spectacular and the feeling of the chill on your face is very nice. However, nobody ever told me about the springs down south. It is a progression of color, starting with the cherry blossoms in March, progressing to the pear trees, wisteria, magnolia, lilies, and incredible displays of azaleas (for which Augusta is famous). It is just incredible to watch it unfold. So I call it a tie. South 1.5, North 0.5
  3. Ever hear of Southern Hospitality? The south is well known for friendliness, and it is fairly well-deserved. I got some taste of this in Indiana, when I was surprised for people talking to me in the grocery store, but it is more so in the South. People just like to chat to strangers. It has probably gotten less over the years, as television has caused people to isolate more, but it still is a friendlier place to be. South 2.5, North 0.5
  4. There is a Baptist church on every corner. Some may think that this is a good thing in my mind (since I am a religious person), but I actually have trouble with the style of religious practice in the South. It is more a culture than a belief. People are made to feel that only good people go to church. To me, that is like saying that only healthy people go to the hospital. As a physician I see many people disaffected by the guilt of "not being good enough," as they have lifestyle habits that go against the predominant culture. As a Christian, I see the shallow cultural Christian as being "inoculated" against appreciation of a more satisfying deep belief. Truthfully, I prefer the moral honesty of the North (as brutal as it may be to my kind). South 2.5, North 1.5.
  5. The children say "Yes Sir" and "Yes Ma'am." I love this. My kids say it (although my older daughter is rebelling against it). I just feel like it is good for them to show some respect to us old folk. They also don't say "Mrs. or Mr. Johnson," they say "Miss Judy" or "Mr. Rob." I can take or leave that. South 3.5, North 1.5.
  6. Racism is not as bad as advertised. The impression is that the South is polarized. The reality is that I have never lived in more integrated neighborhoods than I have down here. We have had many African American staff, and there has been little problems with it. I think the Black Middle Class is bigger down here than it was up North. There are, however, enclaves of terrible bigotry. One of my nurses (who is black) was delivering flowers to a patient at Christmas, and went into a mobile home park. She was greeted at the door by a man with a gun. He put it down when he realized who she was, but it was a scary moment. I see it like this: in Philadelphia, it was dangerous to be white and go to North Philadelphia (my friends had rocks thrown at their cars). In the South, there are dangerous places to go if you are not white. Most people down here, by the way, don't favor the use of the Confederate flag. It is just an obnoxious minority. Still, I will give the North a slight edge on this one due to these idiots. South 3.5, North 2.5.
  7. I just like the way the Southern people talk more than the Northerners. South 4.5, North 2.5.
  8. The South has grits, better Bar-B-Q, and Collard Greens (yecch). The North has chicken wings, bratwurst, Italian Sausage, and Philly Cheese steaks. A big Northern victory. South 4.5, North 3.5.
So I am overall glad to be down here. There are things I miss about the North, but the South is a great place to raise a family.

By the way, do you know where the term "Bubba" comes from? I did not know it until I moved down here. It is short for "brother" (the younger siblings call their big brothers "bubba"). I have no patients with the actual name "Bubba."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Blight on Humanity Worty of only Disgust

Yes, I am speaking of pajamas.

Pyjama-wearing a scourge of Shanghai life

Wed Sep 20, 2:35 AM ET

People wearing pyjamas in public, still a common sight in Shanghai, is one of the most irritating aspects of life in China's biggest city, according to an opinion poll of residents.

The survey found that pyjama-wearing on the streets and in public places such as shops, banks and parks is among the most uncivilised things in the city, along with aggressive pets, unhelpful neighbours and disregard for the natural environment,

Over 16 percent of respondents said they or family members often donned pyjamas in public, and 25 percent reported they sometimes did, Yang Xiong, a professor who helped conduct the poll, said on Wednesday.

The survey was sponsored by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the Shanghai Women's Federation.

Theories differ over why the practice of wearing pyjamas -- baggy cotton outfits which are often printed with flowers or small animals -- is so widespread in China's richest and most cosmopolitan city.

Some believe residents are showing off their social status by underlining how close to the city centre they live, while others say it is a holdover from life many decades ago in small, self-contained communities.

I have often seen pajamas as a scourge that approached that of mean animals, mean people, and people who don't care for the environment. Just the thought of these things makes me shudder. Why is so much time spent focused on violent crime, illiteracy, homelessness, and racism? We know the real problems in our society.

I almost am afraid to mention another even more terrible scourge on society: animals in pajamas. Dogs, cats, even squirrels are cropping up in pajamas terrorizing innocent people and making a mess of the environment in the process. Their contempt for anything decent is a thumbing of the nose (or at least a pawing of it) at all which is good, right, and just.

There is another scourge, almost as horrible, terrifying the people of China: Killer Toilets:

2 patrons knocked out by strange toilet odour
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-09-20 08:58

Two women felt faint for a moment late last week after going to a public toilet in a residential area of Beijing's Haidian District due to an unknown odour inside.

Seeing the women fall to the ground outside the toilet, police were called in.

Although cops said they might have been poisoned by marsh gas, a worker who went there minutes earlier without detecting the strange odour suspected that someone may have poured unknown chemicals into the toilet

A monkey in a nightgown was spotted at the scene, but not enough evidence was available to yet make an arrest. Two dogs are under surveillance.

Note how horrified both of these writers were in that they misspelled Pajamas and Odor. I think it is a veiled cry for help. Our dear friend Shinga has the same problem (with that Paediatrics thingy she did the other week). She is probably being stalked by a baboon in a bathrobe or something like that. Shinga, if you ever need us, we are here to help.

Chapter 2: Developments

They came to Lucy's appartment. As Lucy unlocked the door, Bob tore into the evelope to find out what was in it. Among the contents he empited onto the kitchen table were the following: 20 paper clips, 2 pieces of string - one yellow and one white, a Breathe-Right strip that appeared to be used, a worn-looking piece of notebook paper folded tightly with "32" written in pencil on the exposed paper, a tag from a sofa that read "Removal of this tag is punishable under the law...", an assortment of Tic-Tacs, and a weather map that had been cut out of the newspaper.

They stood and stared at the contents, trying to make sense. After a few seconds Lucy turned red and exclaimed, "Bob, they are trying to frame us with that tag! We need to hide it so we don't get caught by the police."

Bob felt it best to ignore this train of thought and focused on the folded piece of paper. He inspected the outside. "Why do you think it has '32' on the outside of it?" he asked. He then slowly opened it up, revealing a hand-drawn map. "I have no idea what this map is of," he said. "It kind of looks like this is the coastline, and this may be a mountain range - but I am not sure what this is over here..."

"Hey, I think I hear some sirens. We need to get out of here" Lucy continued.
Bob started taking the string and laying it on the map. He was trying to see if it fit into the lines of the map, maybe giving a clue to the location that the map was describing, when there was a knock at the door.

Lucy gasped and hid behind the sofa.

Bob went over to the door and and opened it up. There was a police officer looking at him, rhythmically patting his club on his hand.

"So, you must be Bob," he said.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Aaarrrgh, I've Been Tagged!

Shiver me timbers!

Thanks to Flea, that swarthy critter, I have something to write about. In Celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day, I smartly will be donnin' the tongue of the swabbers of the poop deck. So sit ye back as I tell about me music I favor.

When I was a wee lad, me Momma and Pappa favored the artistic life. Ole Paps played the bass fiddle and Mam tickled the ivories. They felt that as we were getting longer in the tooth we should take up the musical practice (so as to some day play in a saloon, per'aps).

Each of us slaved over the ivories and had another instrument to play. I played the Cello (the "middle fiddle" as we pirates like to call it). Now I strum the guitar to wile away the hours on the sea.

Okay, I have had enough of the pirate stuff. You get the point. Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Given the fact that I have had music as such an integral part of my life (I even started in college as a voice major), I have very eclectic tastes. In each musical style I could probably list 7 songs I like a lot. I cycle through different artists regularly on my I-Pod (one of the best purchases I have ever made, by the way). So, I do this with great pains in that I am leaving many wonderful songs out. Here goes:
  1. Classical - The Moldau - by Smetena. This was a piece of music my father played often, and tells the story of a river in the Czech Republic that starts as a small mountain stream and eventually goes to the ocean. I remember on Captain Kangaroo they had this with pictures. It is just beautiful and also carries lots of childhood emotions.
  2. Hymn - Rock of Ages - I did not really pay much attention to the lyrics until I heard it with a different melody. The original melody is very unimaginative and plodding. It tells of our unworthiness and the goodness of God.
  3. Folk - When You Say Nothing at All - Alison Krauss and Union Station. This is one of the best love songs I have heard. I also just love to hear her sing.
  4. Classic Rock - The Dangling Conversation - Simon and Garfunkel. Just incredible lyrics. Extremely poetic and creative with great melody, etc.
  5. Jazz - Take Five - Dave Brubeck. This was a groundbreaking song done in the 5/4 meter. To those who don't know, that is 5 beats to a measure and is very unconventional. He, however, got this to sing so smoothly it just captures you. He had a hard time getting it published due to this odd meter.
  6. Instrumental - Mombasa - Tommy Emmanuel. I saw him perform this on the PBS show Mountain Stage, which was my first exposure to this Australian artist. He is absolutely mind-bogglingly good at the guitar. On the TV version he does a long interlude where he uses his guitar as a percussion instrument.
  7. My Favorite Artist, Bruce Cockburn - All the Diamonds in this World. My wife is always asking me to play this on my guitar. It is just a wonderful melodic song about his personal voyage. Whenever I play it for someone they comment on how beautiful it is.
Gosh, it was painful for me to leave out Rachmaninov, Brahms, Peter Gabriel, Coldplay, Jack Johnson, Nichole Nordeman, Yo-Yo Ma, Brooks Williams, etc. Aaaargh!

So now I give a big "Ahoy" to my Mateys I tag: Laundress, Skye, Enoch, Clark, TheTundraPA, Kim, and of course, Spooner. I hope they don't make me walk the plank!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Read the fine print

While it is not a small town (population is 23,230), Gallatin, TN has distiguished itself in a way that is quite unique and worth mention:

Mayor's offer to film movie backfires

Fri Sep 15, 7:01 PM ET

When moviemakers told Gallatin, Tennessee, Mayor Don Wright they wanted to use his office to film a scene with a superheroine, he kindly obliged.

But Wright was startled when the movie's title, "Thong Girl 3," and his role in its making was splashed across the front page of Friday's editions of the Nashville Tennessean newspaper.

"I had no idea what the movie was about," Wright said on Friday. "They told me it was about a superhero woman and there was no nudity or offensive stuff in it. Other than that, I really didn't have a clue."

According to the Thong Girl Web site, heroine Lana Layonme wears a red thong under a cape as she flies over Nashville repelling a villain who is trying to turn country music performers into rappers. The movie is the third in a series released only on DVD.

"They said it was family friendly," said Wright who let the locally-based crew use his office for two hours. "We've had a lot of movies filmed in this area during the past few years. In fact, I think Sally Field was in one of them. Anyhow, I thought it was good for business."

Residents have not been unkind, Wright said.

"Well, it's sure true that no good deed goes unpunished but most of my e-mails about this haven't been bad."

Well...Thong Girl 3? How come I never heard about #'s 1 and 2? With a premise this plausable, it is hard to imagine this movie did not make it big.

So I want to know, what is the big deal about wearing thongs? They are good to wear when you walk out of the pool, keeping your feet nice and safe when you walk on the pavement. I just wonder how Lana flies without them falling off. Red thongs are quite stylish, however. I wore them as a kid. I would say they are Family Friendly.

What seems unrealistic to me is the fact that these Country stars are turned into rappers and she wants to change them back. Now, I am not big fan of rap, although some people think of me as a gansta, but it seems to me that this is a service to the music industry.

Now if they only would do something about Precious Moments...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Where the HECK is Waldo?

Our first stop is in Waldo, AL, Pop 281, located in Talledega County

Males: 143 (50.9%), Females: 138 (49.1%)
Median resident age: 39.6 years
Median household income: $26,563 (year 2000)
Median house value: $57,200 (year 2000)
Nearest city with pop. 50,000+: Hoover, AL (53.1 miles , pop. 62,742).
Nearest city with pop. 200,000+: Birmingham, AL (54.4 miles , pop. 242,820).

Waldo is not far from the Talledega Superspeedway (home to many NASCAR races) and the Aniston Army Depot.

The community was named for the maiden name of the wife of the one of the Riddle brothers, founders.

Waldo is home to the Waldo Covered Bridge:

Waldo Bridge (1858) spans Talladega Creek in the Waldo community southeast of Talladega. The bridge was built at Riddle’s Mill, a gristmill operated by the Riddle brothers. The mill has been converted into a restaurant. Used by Wilson’s Raiders during the Civil War, the bridge is near Riddle’s Hole, an 1840 gold mine that continued operating until World War II.

Now Waldo, AL is not to be confused with Albert (or "Al") Waldo, professor of molecurlar cardiology at Case Western and the 13th Annual GordonK. Moe Lecturer.

By measure of both Dr. Waldo’s research and clinical interests, he is one of the major leaders in our field currently and has been for a long time. More importantly he helped to develop the field of clinical cardiac electrophysiology.
He sounds like an important guy, and I would name a town after him, but that has already been done.

Waldo is also home to the Old Mill Restaraunt. I had a hard time finding much about this reastaraunt, except the following two quotes:

One place in such peril is the covered bridge in Waldo, a historical landmark that sits next to the Old Mill Restaurant on Alabama 77.

Cindie Brewer, who owns the restaurant and surrounding property, said people come from miles around, with their road maps in hand, to see the historic landmark — even in its current dilapidated condition.

One of the oldest in Alabama, the bridge was built in 1858 and spans 115 feet over the creek, resting on two stone piers.

It was once traversed by people coming to and from town to get their corn ground into meal and has a history as rich as the homemade pie offered at the Old Mill Restaurant.
Mmmmm....Homemade pie!

That night, we went to the Old Mill Restaurant, whose specialty is ... fried catfish! I'd pigged out on fried catfish for lunch, so I went with a salad instead!
I agree with her choice - catfish even once in a day is a big task, but twice? I'd go with the pie.

This is what Waldo would look like if you were in a blimp.

In case you were wondering, the Administrative report for the Talladega Drum Removal Site in Waldo, Talladega County, Ala. is available for public review. I have a website to prove it.

There is another mysterious website that boasts to tell all about Waldo, but really it is devoid of information. It does, however, give the weather report for Redmond, WA. It has a cute picture of a cat as well.

Well, that's a wrap from Waldo. I am not certain if the most famous Waldo has ever been there. I am not sure if he was named after Albert or after one of the Riddle brothers' wife's maiden name. I would have to do more research. If you have any of this information, please let me know.

Small Towns

I have found a delightful website that lists all sorts of interesting facts about small towns. Since I have been so enjoying the rompings of Spooner Jenkins, former mayor of Belvidere, NE (Pop 98), I thought it would be fun to learn more about these little towns and maybe uncover some humorous facts about them.

The truth is, the posting of silly articles is getting a bit stale, and I wanted to find another theme to go after. We'll see how this goes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Watch your blind spot!

Here's a neat little news item:

Blind man sentenced for dangerous driving

A blind man who was convicted of dangerous driving after he admitted being behind the wheel of a car that touched 35 mph was given a three-month suspended sentence on Monday.

Omed Aziz was also banned from driving for three years at Warley magistrates' court in Oldbury, West Midlands.

Aziz, 31, who lost his eyes after an explosion in his homeland of Iraq, had been driving by following instructions on where to steer and when to brake from a passenger who himself had been banned from driving.

When police stopped the Peugeot 405 in April this year after it had erratically negotiated two traffic islands and a corner, Aziz's passenger explained that his friend was blind.

When Aziz, who is also partially deaf, was asked to step out of the car and remove his sunglasses, the officer was surprised to see he did not have any eyes, the court heard earlier this month.

In his defence Aziz, who also suffers from leg tremors and has only two fingers on his right hand, said he was testing his driving abilities.

At an earlier hearing he had admitted driving with no MOT, no licence and no insurance.

Well, ban him for three years from driving. That will teach him! Don't you think that a lifetime ban for people without eyes may be more appropriate?

What about that second to last paragraph? How is it part of his defense to point out that he has leg tremors and two fingers on his right hand? Does that offset the fact that he is blind? It gives me little reassurance.

The last paragraph has me a little concerned. I often drive without a MOT. In fact, I have no idea what a MOT is and would not know a MOT if it fell on my head. Perhaps I should not admit that, since it would put me at risk. If any of you see my MOT, please tell me (I sure hope it is not something personal).

Finally, what better person to get to help you to drive blind than someone who had their license revoked? It only is logical. Of course, he could have gotten a dog or infant do drive instead. Wait, no, I think they are not allowed to have a MOT either.

Chapter 1: A Stranger Appears

As people go, Bob was just like any other. He was of ordinary height, weight, body mass index, density, specific gravity and even would emit radiation in a normal fashion when exposed to unstable isotopes. In short, he was just like you or me.
But Bob's normal existence was about to be rocked with something so immensely radical that even his wildest imagination could not come close to it. None of the books he read so voraciously - books about knights going on quests, about explorers, about penguins eating tacos, about people who committed minor traffic infractions - could prepare him for what was about to happen.
Let it now be noted that I, the author of this story, also have no idea what will happen to Bob. I am just making this up as I go along. I am shooting from the proverbial hip. It is my hope that Bob will actually have something interesting happen to him. If not, then this will be a long, dull trip for all of us. Yet things to seem promising, so let's keep our fingers crossed (I won't do that while I am typing, however).
It was the 5th of November. There was a little chill in the air, but not so much as one would expect. It had been a fairly warm fall, and the predictions were that the winter would also be mild. Bob found this quite fascinating, as he was part of the small band of radicals to fight the effects of global cooling. This was a fairly small movement - really just Bob and his girlfriend Lucy - which started when Bob noticed that December was a particularly cool month. Lucy noted that January was also fairly cool. This seemed to them to be a pattern worth noting. What is all of this talk about global warming when we have these obviously cool months every year??? Perhaps the global warming movement was a cover-up of the more insidious problem of global cooling. Perhaps major industries were conspiring to cloud this issue of global cooling by making the opposite problem a national issue. Soon both Bob and Lucy were searching the web for any mention of global cooling - they found nothing. It seemed obvious to them that someone needed to stand up and point out that the king was wearing no clothes (although Lucy did not know what this had to do with the weather).
"A warm winter," said Bob, "just what the conspiracy needs to bolster that crazy global warming theory."
"Yes" retorted Lucy, "It's a good thing that good thinkers like you are on the prowl. Without you, the world would be destined to turn into barren Tundra while big business rakes in millions selling cold-weather gear."
"You aren't so bad yourself, little chickie" Bob responded, "Your theories on the power of the snowboarding cartel were a stroke of genius."
This back-patting barrage continued as they walked down a street in their hometown of Cleveland.
"I think they should make you Czar of Ohio. I can't think of any Despot I would rather grovel under than you, Bob."
Just as Bob was about to respond in kind, a strange man wearing a long black trench coat came up to them and put his hand to Bob's chest. "Here, take this. This is from the Boss," said the man in a voice that betrayed fairly large adenoids as he handed Bob a plain brown envelope. "Don't open it until you are sure you know who isn't looking," said the man as he disappeared down an alley.
"He sounded like Tom Brokaw," Lucy said dreamily. "Did you hear how nasally he said the word looking? I sure do miss Tom."
"Lucy, do you realize what just happened? A man who had the nasal voice inflections of a TV anchorman just handed me a plain brown envelope from The Boss!!"
"Who is the Boss?" asked Lucy. "Is it Mr. Zucherman at the fish market? You worked there last year, didn't you?"
"No, I think this is bigger than Zucherman. This is not just A boss, it is THE boss!"
"You mean..."
"Yes, I mean..."
"No, it couldn't be"
"I think it is, it has to be, must be, surely is."
"What would Regis want with us?"
"Let's get to a safe place and find out."


Some of you know that I first started with another blog entitled "Rob's odd blog." It is a story that is more stream of consciousness than any. I am going to consolidate my blogs and start putting the chapters of that blog in here. When I am done with that, I will start writing more of those stories in here as well. Variety is the spice of life.

Humor me.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Losing Focus

I am generally a pretty laid-back person – at least I like to think of myself that way. I rarely get rattled by stressful situations at work. My modus operandi when I am in a crisis is what I learned when I was a resident: the first thing to do in a code (when a patient has stopped breathing and/or has no heartbeat) is to take your own pulse. The bottom line is that you are of far more use when you are calm than when you are in a panic. So the normal grind does not really bother me – or so I have thought.

I was going through some personal stresses a few months back and was having some problems sleeping. I try not to bring my personal experiences into work, and had done fairly well at keeping this at bay. My fatigue, however, was starting to build up. When I did sleep, it was not really good sleep and so I woke up with significant fatigue even after an acceptable number of hours of sleep. I found that I was dozing at lunch and at significant pauses in my day and became alarmed.

I came to realize at this point how much pressure I put on myself to think clearly. Since I am primarily a problem-solving physician (I say that the main procedure I do is scratching my head – maybe an explanation for that bald spot), my bread and butter is my thought process. People don’t pay me for my skills with my hands nearly as much as they rely on my problem-solving ability. So any lack of focus is a real problem. I don’t want to give a poor-quality product to any of my patients that come in. Even the relatively simple problems like sinus infections and cough can be a more serious problem lurking just below. It is my job to listen for any aberrations from the typical pattern that may suggest something else going on. I take great pride in my ability to do this. So the thought of having a “bad day” really had me upset. I basically shoved the coffee IV in my arm and slogged through the fatigue as best as I could.

Everyone is entitled to have a bad day at work, but do you want to go to your doctor when he/she is having one? It had never really occurred to me that I have done my best to have the mental discipline to not allow bad days to happen. So was this pressure always there? Doing the inventory of my life, I began to see that I often came home with a lot of fatigue that I could not explain. I often was little use to my wife upon coming home and just dropped on the couch and either watched TV or played on my computer. The main reason for this fatigue, I concluded, was the sustained mental concentration of a typical day. This was often magnified by difficult cases, either emotionally or medically, that I faced on that day.

So how are we supposed to face this pressure? Is it the inevitable consequence of a job where people’s lives may be in your hands? Is there anything to do to escape from this, or am I condemned to being useless when I come home? Since that day I have been much more conscious about giving myself breaks during the day. This does not mean that I necessarily take more time between patients, but I just put on some music, talk on the phone to my wife, or chat with the staff about something non-medical. Beyond that, I have made my trip home from work one which allows me to mentally recover. I consciously change my mind out of the “work” mode and relax. The work at home does not require the intensity of my job and can actually be relaxing if I let it be.

The bottom line is that we need to be more self-aware. It is good t know what your stressors are. I was fooling myself thinking that I did not take work home with me. I was letting my job take big nasty swipes at something much more important: my family. I am grateful for the lesson being learned before it caused too much damage. Maybe my learning this lesson can help other physicians.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A cruise to the bizarre.

I am not sure if you read the news

"Tomkitten's" 'first poop' goes on display in New York
Wed Aug 30, 5:24 PM ET

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have yet to show their baby daughter off in public, but eager fans were given an unusual preview with the chance to see a bronze cast depicting her first solid stool.

The scatological sculpture -- more doodoo than Dada -- is purportedly cast from 19-week old Suri's first bowel movement and will be shown at the Capla Kesting gallery in Brooklyn, New York, before being auctioned off for charity.

The artist behind the work, Daniel Edwards, previously courted controversy with a life-size nude sculpture of pop star Britney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug. That work was shown at the same gallery in April.

"A bronzed cast of baby's first poop can be a meaningful memento for the family," gallery director David Kesting said, adding that he hoped the work would attract bids of up to 25 or 30,000 dollars.

The sculpture, which sits on a wooden mounting with a glass casing, is to be sold on eBay next month with proceeds from the sale going to infant health charity March Of Dimes.

As of Wednesday it had attracted a top bid of 41 dollars.

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise and Holmes announced Suri's birth in April. The entertainment press, which dubbed the pair "TomKat," has shown a seemingly insatiable appetite for news of the pair and their "TomKitten."

A spokeman for the couple was not immediately available Wednesday to comment on the sculpture.

Above is an actual picture of the first poop.

Well, I have to say that I am incredibly excited by this news. Poop bronzing has long been a family tradition and I have been long considering starting a celebrity poop collection, and now seems to be the best time to do so. I do wonder how this infant produced such a fine specimen. My children always produced poop that more resembled mustard with cottage cheese in it. This is obviously a precocious child.

My hope is that they bronze the first vomit as well. As a great fan of Mr. Cruise and his incredible medical knowledge, I am just on pins and needles about this. It just seems like my life keeps getting better and better

Friday, September 08, 2006


80 Years

My father turns 80 today. That is an amazing thing to write; for it seems contradictory to the man I have known for 44 of those years. The image that comes to mind of an 80 year-old is one of frailty, faulty mind, weakening facilities. He does not seem to have gotten much older – he seems more like 65 than 80 both in physical appearance and mental capacity.

Dad stands as an icon of silent strength in my life – on who moved me more as a quiet force than a conspicuous one. He did not force us to fit into a mold. Yes, he had (and still has) strong opinions on things – and was happy to share them; but he never held me to those opinions as a measuring stick of my worth.

He is a man of happy contradictions: a spiritual man with a PhD in physics, a serious man that always chuckles, desiring to live a worthwhile life while loving to fiddle with things, a generous Dutchman. Even though he is not one to fight against authority, he has always enjoyed defying expectations. He fled the cultural pressures from the church of his heritage on the strength of his desire to live consistent with his beliefs. He shunned the upward mobility trap and stepped down from management so that he could do the science he loves. He once stopped a stock peddler on the phone by telling him: “I have all the money I want, thank you.” The person had never heard someone say that before.

It was not a normal childhood – growing up in the house of a PhD in physics. Imagine sitting at the dinner table as an 8th grader and have your father try to show you calculus on a napkin. I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about, but nodded my head to not make him feel bad. Yet while he loved science, he never got it out of perspective by seeing it as more than it is – our “best guess” at the reality around us. He never worshipped science, nor did he stray from his faith in God.

Though I am second son and fifth out of six children, I carry his name. I am very happy with that legacy. I now try to step with caution to honor the name as he has. Not that I will hide from the scorn of others – I will gladly do so if I stand on the side of right, but I will not seek it out for self-promotion or dishonor the name by poor choices.

From him I get: my “husky” physique (thanks a lot), my love of reading, musical talent (although that credit should be shared by my mother), my scientific mind, my love of puzzles (that’s why I do internal medicine), my ear for Classical music, my faith. I have even started (much to my dismay) to chuckle like him – according to my wife…but I deny that completely. I guess I’ll give my kids something to roll their eyes about.

Thankfully, he remains healthy and vigorous (having successfully beaten prostate cancer). He helped me put in a sliding door on the back of my house earlier this year – he is still stronger than me. He recently was doing work on the bottom of their swimming pool and fell off a ladder. He was chastised by many around him for being up on a ladder at his age. When I heard this, I told him that he needs to be climbing ladders. The minute he stops climbing ladders is when he stops being my Dad. He thanked me for that and now continues to climb ladders (thank goodness!).

So happy 80th to Robert Lewis Lamberts! Here’s to you, Dad! Here’s to 80 more!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Pope shows solidarity on Pluto

Now the Pope is joining the debate!

Holy Saturno! It's old hat for the pope again

Wed Sep 6, 6:08 AM ET

Pope Benedict on Wednesday showed once more that he has a thing for old hats.

The Pope surprised tens of thousands of people gathered in St Peter's Square for his weekly general audience by wearing an unusual, wide-brimmed red hat when he rode in on his popemobile.

It was the first time the 79-year-old German pontiff wore the hat, known in Italian as a "saturno" because it is vaguely reminiscent of the ringed planet Saturn.

Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963, used a saturno and John Paul II, who died last year, donned one occasionally during trips to hot countries.

It was not the first time Pope Benedict has worn a strange-looking hat at an outdoor audience to shield himself against the weather.

Last December, to keep warm against the bitter cold, he wore a red velvet cap, trimmed with white fur.

That hat, known as a "camauro," was commonly worn by popes in the mediaeval period to keep their heads warm on cold days and it featured on many paintings at the time.

I have little doubt that he donned this hat in response to the demotion of Pluto as a planet. It had been so many long years since this kind of hat was worn. What other explanation is there?

Hopefully the Catholic scientists who were among the power-mongers demoting poor Pluto will understand that their eternal destiny is at stake! Do not take the word of the Pope lightly! If God had meant for Pluto to be demoted, he would have done it himself!! I am greatly delighted by this development.