Saturday, August 28, 2010

It’s hard to believe the worthless people who continue to make headline news. Three names in particular continue to surface; Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Levi Johnson. These three continue to make the headlines, but have made absolutely no contribution to society other than being an alcoholic, drug addict or sex jock.

Paris Hilton is in the news again after being arrested in Las Vegas for possession of cocaine. She has already spent time in jail where she is supposed to have read the Bible and found the Lord. Her only contribution to anything is that she is an heiress to the Hilton fortune. The paparazzi love her and have warped our minds with their photographs and news coverage.

Lindsay Lohan is another worthless celebrity. She has been in a couple of movies, but people are more interested in her because of her misbehavior. She is on drugs and alcohol and is in and out of jail and rehab. Everyone thinks this is great stuff. If they make another dictionary and need a picture to illustrate the word dysfunctional, Lindsay Lohan would be the top choice.

The other amazing, worthless celebrity is Levi Johnson. He is the guy who got Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah Palin, pregnant. A homeless bum could have performed that act. Levi has become a celebrity and been on numerous talk shows and even posed nude for a magazine. The only thing not shown in the nude photo is the part of his anatomy that made him famous. His on and off again relationship with Bristol has been big news. Who cares? The most unfortunate thing about this whole dysfunctional affair is that it brought Sarah more into the limelight. She has already done enough damage to the political system. The Democrats are probably behind this whole thing. Sarah is the greatest thing the Democrats have going for them since their President and Congress has them at a frightening low level of acceptance. Sarah is managing to split the Republican Party so the Democrats will end up winning in the November elections. The Democrats slogan should now be, Yea Sarah! Forget the change stuff, they want everyone to forget that word. Anyway, the most repulsive thing about this whole business is constantly seeing and hearing about Levi Johnson. He is more depressing than the economy.

I just need to escape my addiction to the news. I guess the only thing I can do is turn off the electricity to the porch, but then I would succumb to the heat. It’s almost worth it to take my chances with the unbearable heat than listen to the latest escapades of Lindsay, Paris or Levi.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School has started and I’m glad all that is over for me. I have seven grandkids ranging from the 4th grade to a junior in high school. I ask them about their subjects for the year and it is unbelievable. I couldn’t cut it.

Last year I reviewed some of their Biology assignments and they were studying molecular biology and material beyond what I had in medical school. I have always questioned some of the stuff they are taught in biology. It seems like they should cover a little more anatomy and physiology so they will have an understanding of the major organs and their function in the body and will know what’s going on when illness hits them later in life.

The math and science that kids now take in high school is beyond what Oppenheimer knew when he constructed the atomic bomb. I’m sure that most would be able to calculate the critical mass of U235 needed for an explosion. My concern is, do they know simple arithmetic and able to make change or balance a checkbook.

I’m always asking medical students and other college graduates basic history questions and am surprised about what they don’t know. Well over 50% of college graduates don’t know who Winston Churchill was. Many can’t tell you who we fought against in WWII. What are they teaching in American History?

Of course, they can look up all this this stuff on a computer in the blink of an eye. Even though I’m amazed at what they don’t know, I’m even more amazed at what they do know. Most are so far ahead of where I was at their age it’s frightening. They are also more advanced in music and athletics. The average high school football player would make all pro if they were playing back in the early days of football. They are faster and bigger.

I grew up in a world of strict discipline and the teacher’s word was law. There was no policeman at school and there was complete silence in the halls as we changed class. All we had was a teacher with a yardstick. I guess the lack of discipline and presence of cops makes kids better prepared to deal with the real world of today and the violence we experience every day in the streets.

It’s just comfortable to be safely on the porch and far removed from the jungle of the average school. I am occasionally ask to help a grandkid with homework. It’s usually problem number 121 in chapter 13. Of course, I have to review the first 12 chapters, then I’m ready to start on the problem. And to think, I was once pretty good at math. I do still know how to make change.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I recently read a survey that identified some of the differences in young people entering college today compared to a few years ago. There were some surprising findings and some that may already be apparent to most observers. We are indeed in a different world than my generation.

Here are a few of the findings from the survey. Most kids today do not write in cursive. They are skilled on the computer and text messaging and end up printing things they must write with pen or pencil. The spelling with text messaging is almost like another language and a dictionary may need to be developed for this foreign tongue.

Most young folks never use a phone with a cord except at their grandparent’s home. The world is rapidly moving to the cell phone. When I went to college we had no phone. For me to make a call it had to be on a pay phone or a line in the home of a friend. I wouldn’t think of making a long distance call unless it was for a death notification.

One of the amazing things is that kids don’t wear wristwatches anymore. They use their cell phones to give the accurate time. When I graduated from high school my graduation gift was a wristwatch and it was my pride and joy. I still have it even though it doesn’t run.

There are other interesting needs for kids starting to college these days that I knew nothing about. All must have a backpack. This needed piece of apparel starts in elementary school and continues until they get a PhD. Now days students couldn’t make it without a credit card, so this piece of dangerous plastic is an essential item. The college living quarters are filled with an array of electonic equipment including computers, ipods, TV, speakers etc. It is interesting that watching live TV is becoming a thing of the past. Shows are recorded and watched at a later date with skipping commercials and viewing a series of a favorite shows at one setting.

Of course many students now have a car. That was something beyond my wildest dream, but somehow I managed to get to most places and survived. It is amazing that I survived at all because except for a movie, air conditioning never touched my body. I couldn’t make it today if I had to attend class or study in the 100 plus degree heat. So, air conditioning is no longer considered a luxury, it is just a simple basic need like oxygen.

Well, the world has changed. It’s time to get out of the wristwatch business and into the cell phone racket. In the mean time on the porch, I still have my phone with a cord because I don’t have to keep repeating, “can you hear me now.” I just looked at my watch and it tells me it is almost 5 and time to watch the news live. That’s another thing, newpapers are dying. Kids don’t get their news from that souce anymore.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The older we get the more paranoid we become. Experience hardens the psyche. Even considering the age factor, it seems like there is less of a caring attitude by everyone. In my field of medicine this is certainly the case and you see the same in business and even in the ministry. Even though we have more modern conveniences, to make life easier, we don’t seem to have the time to care for others.

Doctors are so busy the patient has just become an object. Long gone are the old family docs, who didn’t know much, but made you feel better by visiting and explaining things. The lower the echelon in medicine the more caring, but folks like nurses only do their caring on their shift. One minute past shift change and all caring stops. Docs gave up the caring part a long time ago when they became technicians and busy ringing up the cash register.

Business people and merchants haven’t cared in a long time. When businesses were small, mom and pop, operations they cared about the customer. The large chains are now operated by young folks who barely speak and only know how to stand at a checkout point, run a wand over your merchandise and swipe a credit card. There is absolutely no help in buying merchandise. In the old days every time I purchased a suit or pants there was a salesperson there measuring and helping select the right colors. You can now forget getting help in any store.

Ministers have now dropped the caring bit. Churches have become mega-operations with a large staff. If the minister is any good at preaching he spends his time preparing his one sermon per week. That sermon may be delivered two or three times on Sunday, but it’s not like in previous years with an evening Sunday sermon and one on Wednesday. Ministers used to visit when you were sick and even came to your home. Now, one of the associate pastors makes hospital rounds and if the head preacher shows up you know you are important, have a lot of money or you have reached the Pearly Gates.

Well, I guess it’s the bitterness of age, but I’m beginning to think the deer in my back yard are a lot more caring that the average person I deal with in medicine, business or the ministry. The deer love me so much they have almost moved into the house.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I saw a Schwan’s food truck on the street this morning and it reminded me of a time when deliveries were common. When I was a kid many things were delivered and there were all sorts of salesman calling to peddle their goods at your home.

I remember when the milkman came every day with fresh milk in a glass bottle. Cartons and plastic bottles had not been invented. We left empty bottles by the door and the milkman just exchanged them with those filled with milk that had a big layer of cream on top. There was no skimmed, 1%, 2% and dozens of substitute milks, all we had was the fully loaded stuff, and it was terrific.

I go so far back in time I remember when we had no refrigerator. We had an icebox that was a box lined with tin and a compartment on top that contained a block of ice. The ice kept everything cool. The icebox was a luxury appliance for folks in the city who had ready access to an icehouse. An iceman delivered ice that was carried with a lethal looking instrument called ice tongs. Country folks were deprived of this modern convenience.

In those days, there were a lot of door-to-door salesman. They sold Fuller brushes, vacuum cleaners, Watkins Products, knives and dozens of other items. I always enjoyed watching these folks demonstrate their wares. Watching the vacuum cleaner demonstration was better than a lot of movies.

In those days, groceries were even delivered. One of the luxuries we enjoyed most was the dry cleaners delivery person coming by the house, on a regular basis, to pick up and return clothes for cleaning. More things required the service of the dry cleaners in those days because, wash and wear, polyester stuff had not been invented.

Young boys on bicycles even delivered telegrams to your door, but this was something you really didn’t want to get because it frequently meant a death or other bad news. Young boys also delivered medicine from the pharmacy and of course the newspaper. Newspaper delivery is about the only thing that still exists, but it comes in the middle of the night from an unknown source.

So, even though I don’t care for Schwan’s MSG laced food it was good to see them drive by the porch and remind me of simpler times when customer were important.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

It’s great to hear that the oil in the Gulf is disappearing. It has suddenly vanished. The fisherman can, hopefully, go back to work and maybe the tourist will return soon. It’s still not entirely clear what happened to the oil. Was it sucked up, burned, washed away by the hurricane or was it prayer. Maybe it was a combination of all the above.

I’m glad the oil is gone but there are many things in my life that make me sad to see disappear. Many of the type movies I love, like Westerns, are no longer made. Much of the music I have enjoyed is so hokey that it is no longer played. People dressing nicely are now a rarity. Waking down the street at night is no longer safe and it’s no longer possible to leave a kid unattended in the yard to play. The world is filled with crazy folks ready to assault you. Even the priest can’t be trusted. A kid can’t even ride their bike to the store or to a movie and leave it unlocked. It doesn’t matter because movies aren’t in the neighborhood anymore to be accessible by a bike.

My favorite foods are also disappearing. My wife cooked us a great meal today with okra and tomatoes, blackeyed peas and cornbread. She remarked that none of the grandkids would eat this stuff. Their life is fast food, pizza and such. They would be repulsed to see me crumble a piece of that cornbread into a glass of milk for a bedtime snack.

The saddest things to disappear are the people I love. All my aunts and uncles have passed away and my cousins are going fast. As the Bible says. “ One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever. Unfortunately, even the earth is not abiding very well. Global warming is in the process of reducing the planet to a burnt out cinder.

Oh well, I’m not going to worry about these things. There is not much I can do. I’m just going to close the porch for tonight and have me some cornbread and milk before turning in. I have to make sure all the doors are locked. That’s something else new to our modern age. We didn’t even have locks on the door when I was a kid.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Some things are timeless and our mental image of many other things does not change with time. The pyramids have not changed in appearance for several thousand years. We were recently driving through the desert of the southwest and much of this remains unchanged and is the same as viewed by the Indians.

Even though some things age and die, our mental image remains the same through the years. For example, on this day, August 5th 1962. Marilyn Monroe died. If she were alive today she would be 84 years old. I just can’t imagine Marilyn as 84 or in a nursing home. My mental picture will always be of her standing with her skirt blowing up to reveal her perfect legs. She became a pop and cultural icon much like Elvis Presley. Those two will always remain the same to me. A lot of movie stars are like that. I prefer for them to stay young and vigorous looking. It bothers me to see folks like Willian Shatner as an overweight guy in a suit on TV commercials rather than as a thinner Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.

Whenever I visit the gravesite of a relative or someone I have known, I usually have a mental image of that person as I knew them at their peak in life. Usually, the image is as I saw them through the eyes of a child.

When I see folks who were classmates in high school, they are still teenagers in my minds eye. It’s sort of like the picture of Dorian Gray. I always picture them as youthful but don’t see the aging picture.

I guess I have adapted or adjusted to my aging self. I’m sure, if a person from my teenage years was seeing me for the first time since those years, I would be unrecognizable. To me, I haven’t changed in spite of all the weight and wrinkles. The main thing that hasn’t changed is my inner self even thought it has been battered and bruised from experience. I still like westerns, the music of my younger years and Mark Twain. There is an inner spark in all of us that survives the slings and arrows of time.

Time itself is an interesting concept. If we understood more about it then maybe we would understand things like the earths creation, space and even religion. Hopefully, that inner spark in most folks is timeless. Unfortunately, that inner spark in many people is bad and needs to be extinguished. Maybe the creator will take care of that.

That’s some heavy thoughts from the porch. It’s time to get back to watching a good western even though most of these are repeats, but I like repeats.

Monday, August 02, 2010

We just returned from our annual family trip to New Mexico where we tag along with the grandkids as they attend the Suzuki String Camp. It’s always a great experience and a thrill to see their progress and listen to them play in quartets, orchestras and solos. This was our eighth year to attend. The first six years were in Santa Fe, but last year it was moved to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. The facility at UNM is better, but nothing can beat Santa Fe. Santa Fe is a unique place with all the art, opera, food etc.

I love the food in New Mexico. The New Mexican food is really better than TexMex. They are basically the same; enchiladas, tamales, tacos etc, but the New Mexican uses green chilies and green or red chili sauce is used on almost everything. Refried beans aren't as popular in New Mexico. They use a small bean that is still tasty. Chili Rellenos are a big favorite . In general, the New Mexican food is great.

Tacos have always been one of my favorite Mexican foods. I must admit, that to my taste, one taco has all the fancy restaurants in New Mexico and Texas beat. That 5 star taco can be found at none other than Dairy Queen. In my opinion, Dairy Queen makes the best taco on the planet for a great price. The crispy shell is indeed crispy but with the perfect amount of steadiness to hold the contents together as you bite into the morsel. The meat is tasty and not as sticky and soggy as found in the more expensive restaurants. It’s good quality ground meat with just the right amount of seasoning. The lettuce and tomatoes are fresh and the cheese is like it has been freshly shredded with little tiny bands of the stuff capping the remainder of the contents. I usually squeeze a package of their delicious taco sauce on top of the whole thing.

These great Dairy Queen tacos used to cost three for a dollar. Like everything else, the price has gone up, but you can get three with a monster drink for 5 dollars. The drink cost almost as much as the tacos. The tacos by themselves are a little over three dollars. It’s a great deal compared to most of those fancy restaurants. Anyway, I had some of these mouth-watering tacos in Big Spring, Texas on our way home. It was the best meal of the trip and the least expensive.

It’s still good to be back on the porch and eating home cooking. I think I’m going to lay off green chilies for a while. My GI track is not as young as it used to be.