Sunday, November 23, 2008

I have always liked the phrase Catch 22. It means a no win situation. This description of a no-win situation applies to so many things in life, especially in today’s economic dilemma. It means that no matter which way you go or whatever decision you make there is always an undesirable result. For example with the question of, is there an afterlife? To get the answer you have to die. The phrase describes a circular paradox.

This phrase comes from a very interesting book by Joseph Heller called “Catch 22.” In the book, a World War II bomber pilot named Yossarian tries to get himself declared insane so he can stop flying bombing missions. Unfortunately, there is a regulation called Catch-22, stating that if you want out of combat duty you aren't crazy. Heller wrote, "[A pilot] would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to."

Today’s economic situation and the stock market are really Catch 22 situations. For example, the stock market won’t go up unless consumer confidence and spending go up. On the other hand, consumer confidence and spending won’t go up unless the stock market goes up. The result is that neither will go up. It’s a circular paradox.

Another one on consumer spending has to do with the price of gasoline and the stock market. When the price of gasoline was high consumer spending was high and the stock market was up. Consumer spending was up because we were spending all the money on gasoline. Now that gasoline prices are down we should have more money to spend on everything else and the stock market should be up. But no, consumer spending on everything else is also down because the stock market is down and everyone has lost their savings. With the lower price of gasoline more money should have been available in the consumers paycheck to buy everything else. It’s an insane paradox and you can’t win.

Economics is really fun. You can find an expert to tell you anything you want to hear or you don’t want to hear. There are no experts on the economy or investments. The ship is sinking because we have a big hole in it and we must also have a big hole to let the water out. We can’t win

Catch 22 even applies to the deer I see every day from the porch. There are so many deer now that it’s a danger to kill them for fear of killing a human in the line of fire. The number of deer is also dangerous, creating a hazardous driving situation and a threat of attack when approaching the herd on foot. In other words they are a hazard to get rid of and a hazard of we don’t get rid of them. We are in a no win or Catch 22 situation. Help, I’m confused.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A recent article in the local paper was about the need for repair of sidewalks in Belton. The same could be written for any town in the U.S.. Sidewalks are a wonderful thing and are one of the great memories of my childhood. Unfortunately, they are disappearing from the American scene.

The sidewalks in my hometown were a thing of beauty. They were lined with crepe myrtles and were like the colorful fringe on a dress for our town. I walked on them to school and the short distance from my house to town. The sidewalk formed the boundary of the courthouse grounds. Most everyone walked in those days and the sidewalks served as a conduit for business and social exchange. They connected most of the homes and business establishments in our town. They also served as a safe path to ride my bike but I always gave way to the walker who had top priority for their use. I also used the sidewalk as the boundary for my football field and as a line of demarcation for almost every game I played. The sidewalks were truly a useful and beautiful part of our town and as I walked on my daily excursions I would never think of stepping on a crack for fear of breaking my mothers back.

It’s now very sad for me to see what has happened to the sidewalks in my hometown and across the country. They have either been destroyed or in a great state of disrepair. The remaining ones are buckled, badly cracked, chocked with weeds and often downright dangerous for walking. Kids and the few adults who walk anymore have to do so on the street or on the grass in folk’s yards.

As America moved to the suburbs, developers just found it too expensive to include sidewalks. People became addicted to the automobile and had to travel longer distances to shopping malls and other places of business. Sidewalks just weren’t needed anymore and they were too expensive. The downtowns and business hubs of places like my little hometown boarded up and the sidewalks went into a state of decay just like the town.
So many things of my youth have disappeared and have been replaced by fancier things like TVs, computers and cell phones. The beauty and usefulness of the sidewalks has not been replaced and are greatly missed. My spouse had one built around the side of our house but unfortunately it doesn’t extend around back so I can see it from the porch and be reminded of the beauty of that strip of concrete and the important role it played in the life of hometowns of America. If I ever build another house I am going to have one built so it can be viewed from every direction to serve as a fitting memorial to that important part of our history. It should be in clear view and accessible from any respectable porch.

Monday, November 17, 2008

When I was a kid I saw the movie Bambi and this has had a great influence for most of my life on how I view deer. I even cried when Bambi’s mother was shot. I never wanted to hunt deer when I became an adult because of the sorrow I felt for Bambi. That has all changed in recent years as I have learned more about deer.

As I have mentioned in numerous blogs, deer are a pest around my place. The Bambies, their mothers and fathers eat up my precious shrubs, flowers and garden. I have tried to learn more about the habits of deer and what they do and do not eat. I have learned they will eat almost anything if hungry enough. They don’t especially like sage, rosemary or things that are aromatic or have a rough leaf. They have never eaten my Asian Jasmine or Lambs Ear.

They are very bold creatures and have almost become domesticated because of the neighbors who feed them. The neighbors have at least slowed down on the feeding because the creatures have become so numerous.

I have learned more about the habits of deer through my several hunter friends. I also watch them daily in my backyard and in my flowerbeds. There are about twenty in my herd including six fawn who are now losing their spots. There are about four scrawny bucks in the group. This week a big handsome prancing buck has shown up. He is not with the group but I have seen him with a single doe. It is obviously rutting season and the big stud has arrived to sample the wear.

My friends tell me that a buck may service a doe several times when she is in heat and that several other bucks may also service her. The Lord only knows who the father may be out of those millions of sperm. The number of sperm injected into a doe to result in impregnation is almost as much as the government bailout dollars for the banks. All this means is that the does are nothing but prostitutes, sort of like our banking establishment. I have lost all respect for Bambi’s mother and I say to the hunters fire away at the mother and Bambi and if there is a fetus involved go ahead and use it for stem cell research.

The one view I don’t have from my porch is a yard with no deer. They are always there. These creatures are getting so bold the next thing I know is they will be moving into my bedroom to mate.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baylor beat A&M in football this weekend. Miracles still happen on the Brazos. As a Baylor graduate, I have always loved the place but have never gotten very emotional over football because the team is always so bad. One time we did win the Southwest Conference when the great Grant Taff was coaching and that conference was still in existence. That was truly a miracle.

Baylor was a great place for me. When I attended it was a time when Baptist churches still had revivals, there were traveling evangelist, the congregation still sang from hymnals, there were no rock bands in church and the organ was a very special instrument. Men still wore ties to church and everyone dressed nicely. Folks were even fairly reverent in church and they sang songs I loved rather that ones that repeat the same line over and over. That was a long time ago and it was almost like another religion. The religious experience at Baylor reflected all these traditional practices and helped indoctrinate my soul. It was a good feeling. Unfortunately, that feeling no longer exist except as a memory.

I may have learned more at another school but Baylor was just right for me. I enjoyed most of the courses very much but the premed stuff was probably my least favorite. I loved a course on writing and my favorite was American Humor that was mostly a study of Mark Twain’s work. That course has stayed with me all of my life. Of the premed courses, comparative anatomy was my favorite because of the teacher. I was her pet and she had a big influence on my life. I even got to be the lab assistant in that course and learned a lot of anatomy from dissecting so many cats. It’s interesting that the teacher was really teaching about evolution, thus the course was called comparative anatomy. We looked at the similarity of anatomy in the frog all the way up to more advanced animals. The administration of Baylor wasn’t smart enough to figure out we were studying this doctrine of the devil or else we would have all been kicked out. As it turns out my teacher has been one of the most revered teachers in the history of Baylor.

Losing at football has never been a big deal with me because my Baylor experience has made me a winner in the game of life, which is more important. I must admit, it is occasional nice to beat the Aggies. Hearing about that victory was the only part of the news I enjoyed on the porch last night. It helped reaffirm my faith in miracles at a time that we could sure use a few.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obama was elected President by a decisive majority. There were a few surprises with the election. He carried the population that makes over $100,000 a year and are the ones who will bare the tax burden. Obama originally said that he would not increase taxes on those making over $250,000. He later lowered this to $200,000 then Joe Biden said $150,000. Where will it stop? It’s kind of like the stock market. It will go lower. Next it will be $50,000 and then on down until it is everyone not receiving welfare.

Obama is already saying that he will reverse many of Bush’s executive orders such as the one on abortion and stem cell research. It’s surprising that the ban on same sex marriage was upheld in California but I am confident this will be reversed with a national law, which permits it for the entire country. This will become law in the same bill that makes prostitution and gambling legal nationwide.

There were a few other revelations in the election included Obama winning the majority of the Jewish and Latino vote. It doesn’t really surprise me about the Jews because they have a history in the Old Testament of biting the hand that feeds them. The Latinos are also no surprise because all they want is amnesty and have social security, Medicare and to be safe and secure away from their impoverished homeland. The Latino’s will be able to join the ranks of those who do not work and live on welfare.

I am sure that soon we will see the Washington Monument torn down along with the war memorials and the Jefferson Memorial to make way for statues of golden calves and Baal. These structures will symbolize out decadent society. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright will reemerge to deliver the dedicatory remarks for these idols of an immoral nation. I’m just glad that Billy Graham is too old to be a Presidential Advisor because we wouldn’t be ask anyway.

This whole thing has got to be a major conspiracy which also involved our below average, arrogant, hard-headed current President whose blunders got us into the current situation. At one time I laughed at the idea of a New Age Movement that was positioning itself to take over. Now, I think that may be entirely possible or else we are seeing an antichrist who will unit Muslims, and all religions in a new world order that will herald the second coming of Christ. The time is right for America to sell its soul to get out of our economic doldrums. If I sound crazy, read the paper.

The way things are going even the porch doesn’t look like a safe place. All of us face the possibility of being reduced to a burned out cinder. Even the golden calves and Baal statues will melt.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My spouse recently had a very brief hospital stay for a mastectomy. She only spent one night in the hospital. That was unheard of when I first started in medicine. In the old days folks would have been in for a couple of weeks for removal of the gallbladder or a hysterectomy and at least that long for a mastectomy. For a broken hip you could be in for weeks. Those long hospital stays with prolonged immobilization and bed rest caused incredible problems. Pulmonary embolus was common because of deep vein thrombosis resulting from prolonged bed rest.

Now days much of surgery is done as an outpatient and you are admitted only for the real big stuff like cardiovascular surgery. They have you out of bed by the time you are back in a hospital room and all sort of preventive measures are taken to prevent deep vein thrombosis like giving heparin to thin the blood and wearing compression devices on the legs to keep the blood flowing. They have you sucking on an apparatus to inflate your lungs to prevent pneumonia and atlectasis. Even with a broken hip you are out of bed the next day because of the sturdy hardware that replaces the broken bone. This rapid mobilization has greatly reduced the mortality rate. A broken hip in the old days had about an 80% mortality rate in the elderly.

My spouse was in for only 24 hours and for this I was most thankful. A hospital is not a safe place to be. A recent report revealed a scary incidence of antibiotic resistant germs ready to kill you. One that is getting a lot of attention is Clostridium difficile that causes severe diarrhea and colitis and can be fatal in the elderly. It is spread by fecal contamination and about 13 out of 1000 patients get it in the hospital. There is also the deadly methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) germ that infects 5% of hospital patients. The hospital is a scary place. Even if the personnel wash their hands to get rid of the germs they can kill you with medication errors. In the middle of the night, a nurse came into my spouses room to give her more blood pressure lowering medicine even though her pressure was down to 100/50. We refused the injection.

If the personnel and germs don’t get you the final bill will. You can stay at the very finest hotel in the world for only a fraction of the price of a hospital room.

I ended up suffering more from the hospital stay than my spouse. I spent the night, with only a couple of hours sleep, curled up in an uncomfortable recliner that has resulted in an incapacitating backache for the past several days. It’s sure good to be back on the porch.

We are very thankful for the brief hospital stay and are back safely on the porch where no lethal germs dare live and we are free from the very helpful personnel with dirty hands and syringes containing someone else’s medicine or a fatal dose of your own stuff. I’m thankful for modern hospitals but more thankful if I can stay out of them.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The recession deepens and may develop into an all out depression unless some reversal of the meltdown occurs. Hopefully, Obama will find the answer. It’s likely to be more government involvement and bailouts. It’s unfortunate that some of the greedy lot on Wall Street and high priced CEOs can’t go to jail.

Unemployment continues to rise. The group which is now in greatest danger of layoffs is the media. Without Bush, McCain and Palin to bash they are without jobs. I’m glad McCain didn’t get elected because the bunch at CNN would continue to flourish. The media at the so-called major networks may also experience major reductions. They are now grasping for straws. They are still after Palin for the clothes purchased by the Republican Party. She apparently has returned the clothes but they continue to hound her to make sure she is dead for 2012. Even people in the McCain camp are after her and blaming her for some of their failure. As for me, I wish her well and may even become one of her supporters.

The media is a very biased group and in my book have a lower rating than Bush or even Congress. They are all over anything that hints at yellow journalism. About the only paper that didn’t capitalize on negativism was the Christian Science Monitor. I am not a Christian Scientist but they had a good newspaper. Their publication has now been reduced from a daily to a couple of times a week. People are only interested in blood and gore or imagining that the sky is falling. Papers constantly tell us the sky is falling and that pushes us over the edge to more recession and negativism. Again, quoting Shakespeare, “Nothing is either good or bad, it’s thinking which makes it so.”

As we release the enemy combatants from the Afghanistan War, now in the Guantanamo detention camp, I think they should be replaced with members of the media, tycoons from Wall Street, CEOs and bank executives. This would be an ideal spot. The only better location would be a floating iceberg from the melting Artic Circle.

I’ve learned a lot during the recent presidential campaign. One thing which is very apparent is that liberals and also folks who are ultra-conservative have absolutely no sense of humor. They can dish out criticism but are highly offended or mad if anyone challenges their point of view. It’s almost as bad as the various positions people take on religion. All these folks might also do well at Guantanamo. I sure don’t want any of them on the porch. I like the porch to be filled with people who can laugh at themselves and have an open mind. One of the nice things about Obama being elected is that now maybe some of the media and humorless liberals will keep quiet for awhile. I’m sure whining conservatives will replace them, but they are not as easily heard because none of the networks or newspapers provides a means for them to speak.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It has been a very bad week. My spouse had a mastectomy for breast cancer. We have a new president whose background and philosophy are questionable. One of my favorite authors, Michael Crichton died and the economy and stock market continue to go sour.

On the bright side is that my spouse has had successful surgery and a smooth postoperative course. Her lymph node biopsies were negative and the pathology looks favorable for a complete cure. She has a great attitude and has had many expressions of love and concern from numerous friends and relatives.

Also, on the bright side is that the new president may bring us much needed change to a country and world in great turmoil. He has a big job and I am most thankful I am not in his shoes. I suspect he will find out that change is not going to be easy and is beyond what a president alone can do even with Congress on his side. If he is not successful change will again come as it has with so many before him. I just hope that we will not become a completely socialized state that rewards people for not working and penalizes those who work hard and achieve.

It was sad to hear of Michael Crichton’s death. He will always be alive in my mind. He brought us great stories like, “Jurrasic Park,” “Andromeda Strain”, “Timeline,” “State of Fear,” and “The Great Train Robbery.” These are only a few of his many excellent tales which were techno-thrillers that had a message about technology gone awry. Crichton was a physician who used medical situations as the basis for many of his stories and his TV series ER.

As far as the economy goes, it’s almost humorous. The stock market investors are schizophrenics. The stock market is like a roller coaster and is totally unpredictable. I have always dealt with matters that were fairly predictable and logical in the field of science. There is nothing predictable or logical about the stock market. All you can do is laugh about the situation.

The end of the week is certainly better than the beginning. I’m sitting with my daughter and recovering spouse on the front porch with the temperature ideal and the weather spectacularly beautiful. There is a morning after. Maybe things aren’t so bad after all. Like Shakespeare said, “Nothing is either good or bad, it’s thinking which makes it so.” I have my spouse who is now doing well, a new president who at least brings us hope for a better future, the memory and stories of a great author and a good laugh at the insanity of the stock market and the worship of the dollar.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Last week was a terrible week. The one I refer to as my spouse, partner, soul-mate, president, boss and love of my life was diagnosed with breast cancer. The good news is that it was found very early and biopsies show no involvement of the lymph nodes. She should have an excellent prognosis. The bad news is that she will have a mastectomy this week. That is a tough thing both physically and emotionally. Since at our age she is not concerned about being a playboy bunny this type surgery is of less importance. The most important thing is that it assures her of the best chance for cure. No chemotherapy or radiation is planned.

She has had many expressions of concern from our friends and relatives. She has received, flowers, cards, e-mails, calls, food and everything in between. All this has been most reassuring and lifted her spirits. It also reminds me of a passage from my favorite book, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Scout was talking about her neighbor, Boo Radley when she said, “Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between.”

Her surgery will be on Tuesday, Election Day. We will not be able to watch the election returns, so there is one blessing about being in the hospital. We already know the results of the election, so we will miss nothing. Hopefully, she will be completely recovered when we enter the changed world of America and the new welfare state. It will take all of our strength to survive this new age. Those who pay 60% of the taxes will be taxed more and those who pay no taxes will receive payouts. The current tax cuts including the death tax will be repealed. The borders to Mexico will be opened and 40 million illegal aliens will be granted amnesty and will be eligible for the new free medical care. I may reenter practice as an abortionist since this will be legal and services in high demand. Same sex marriage will become legal in all states. The wealthy CEOs and Wall Street Gang will continue to out-smart the government and rob us in other ways. The stock market will recover regardless of who becomes president. Affirmative action will be in full force and being hired or accepted into a school will depend more on race than qualification. Our defense budget will be cut by 25% as we become a second rate power. All this will occur in the world of our new President, Barack Obama. Obama would have my vote if he could help me get rid of the deer. It could have been worse if John McCain became president. He could have dropped over and Sarah Palin would be the Commander-in-Chief. She is an interesting lady and may be ready in 2012, but certainly not today. I know Palin would have done nothing about my deer problem, she may have even added a Moose to the mixture of wildlife in my backyard.

Anyway, this has been a bad couple of weeks. My only interest is that my spouse has successful surgery and returns to the porch. In any event, we are most thankful for our friends and their thoughts and prayers.