Saturday, January 30, 2010

Take Two Bananas And Call Me In The Morning

I'm starting to get out more. Unfortunately, it has been mainly to medical destinations. It is nice to finally get out, but I think I'm starting to get on Donna's nerves. I have another medical appointment in a few weeks and I fear she will bringing my "living will" and "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" directive with her - passing it out to every healthcare worker in the place...several times. I hope she doesn't interfere too much with the care...I need to have the dental hygienist clean my teeth.

A few days ago I went to my doctor to have a pro-time test done. The test checks the efficacy of a blood thinner drug I'm taking due to a cardiac arrhythmia. It prevents clots passing through the heart chambers which I'm told is a very, very bad thing.

Got to thinking, I've been getting the test done monthly for a long time, but couldn't exactly remember how long. I do remember that I included the initial finding in a Christmas newsletter we put out and checked the computer files for past ones. The newsletter went back to 2002 so it has been a while. I don't know what it means when you have to reference newsletters to remember important things in your life, but there you have it. Hopefully, I wrote about our marriage and the birth of our son in one of those old ones.

Anyway, thought I would include it even though it was from 2002.


"This year I seemed to have settled into a more evenhanded and certain life. I approach things in a mature and thoughtful way. A keeper of the routine. In other words, I've become more like my dog. I get excited by food and in a few more years I'm sure I'll expect to be taken out for a walk.

President George Bush (the senior) and I have the same cardiac guy! During a routine physical exam last winter, my check engine light came on. My regular physician, Dr. James, sent me to a cardiologist, Dr. Englehardt, who explained that my heart chambers were working fine except for one that didn't quite pump - it vibrated - like a Skytel pager. During my first and subsequent exams, Dr. Englehardt kept being interrupted with phone calls from around the world. It seems he consults a lot. The number of phone calls got to be so much he gave me the story.

He was a resident at John Hopkins, the very junior member of a senior cardiac team that diagnosed and treated George Bush when he was President...ditto the connection. During Dr. Englehardt's residency, a medical research team was doing studies on some aspect of elderly cardiology and since baboons' hearts are just like human hearts, they were using baboons to do so. Who knew. I didn't ask if they lounged around in the day room wearing old cardigans and smoking cigars...the baboons that is. To make a long story short, the gerontology teams needed a baseline on EKGs. And guess what. No one had ever done EKGs on baboons! Being the junior member, Dr. Englehardt was chosen to analye the EKG results. He took out a calculator, averaged numbers of all those tested, and whallah!...became an international expert. He published a paper on this in a medical journal so now zoos call him every time J Fred Muggs overdoses on bananas or whenever I have an appointment. I wonder if their exams ever get interrupted."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Act of Nuitrition

I've been thinking about what I am going to do first when I'm able to be up and about again. As I've mentioned before, I'm very grateful my ankle has a second chance at mobility and I've resolved to be smarter, wiser, and generally more temperate in all things. I plan to exercise for an hour every day, be nicer to the neighborhood children, and consume only food and drink with the word "diet." I may even get taller.

I'm planning all of that; right after a day trip to Carl Sandburg's "city with big shoulders", Chicago. I plan to fly up in the morning and back that night. I'm calling it my "cholesterol tour." Going to hit Lou Mitchell's for a late morning breakfast, then Mr. Beef for lunch.

Lou Mitchell's is located across from Union Station. Donna and I stopped in there prior to taking the Chicago Zephyr out west and we found the best, the very best coffee and donuts ever consumed. You can go South. You can go East. You can go North. You can go West. You will neva, eva, have a better cup of coffee or donut. I may get a plateful before I order flapjacks or some other comfort food for breakfast.

If, during the Battle of Waterloo between the tactical parry and thrusts of England's Duke of Wellington and France's Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon asked the Duke where he could get a good cup of coffee and donut; I am sure the Duke would respond, " Lou Mitchell's...just sit down on that stump over there, wait about 130 years, go to Charles Degaulle Airport, hop a plane to Chicago, then take a cab downtown. You can't miss it".
"Who is Degaulle?"
"A French general who helped re-invade France during World War II."
"I am, Napoleon, Emperor of the First French Empire, what did they name after me?"
"A puff pastry and a drink."
"FOOD! I almost conquered the known world! FOOD? Monsieur, France names an important public facility after this rinky dink General, and I get FOOD?"
"Go sit on the stump and wait - you will die a happy man after you have Lou Mitchell's coffee and donuts."
"Did you tell this Degaulle about the coffee and donuts?"

Now when we were at the "Lou" as the locals call it, I didn't see any autographed pictures of Napoleon on the wall so I'm guessing he never made it. Probably couldn't get his sword and scabbard through airport security.

I will then proceed to Mr Beef. Never been there and I understand Mr Beef may be having some IRS issues, so I hope it is still open. The sandwiches are supposed to be so thick that when you bite down, the beef starts shooting out the other end! It is not food consumption. It is an Olympic event! I'm told if you order a bunch of sandwiches at Mr. Beef, and let them dry out, they can be used as attic insulation.

After lunch I will head back to the airport and start a life of Cobb salads. If I have time though, I may stop at the hospital for a cholesterol test. Hope the results don't involve four digits.

I'll let you know.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Help Them

How do we explain or understand the aftermath of nature declaring war on itself.

Since I have a lot more time than you do, I've been glued to the TV watching the coverage on the Haitian earthquake. The coverage has been very good. I've mostly been watching CNN, but I'm sure the other channels provide yeoman's service as well. I'm always ready to criticize television, but not for Haiti.

The news correspondents stand in the devastation repeating the same short phrases tinged with incomprehension. Their lucidity gives way to vague repetition, their slick professionalism gives way to humanity. We live in a world where we use words to define emotions, but the correspondents' words are the emotions themselves. We connect with the on site reporters not through their presentations, but through their witness. We see what the camera sees, but aren't able to feel what the correspondents feel. We may get a glimpse of the terror and numbness in the Haitians eyes, but the correspondents feel that terror and numbness and so convey it to us. God bless them all.

They stumble over words and keep repeating the same phrases peppered with "unbelievable","horrible", "hellish", and "tragic". Their minds go back to the same phrases, as if by repetition the truth of the situation will form. Like losing the car keys and repeatedly visiting the places the keys should be. The reporters offer good witness.

As I watch, I think. What can I do? Me, recuperating from a sophisticated surgery of choice involving thousands of dollars while some Haitians could gain a footing on the future for want of antibiotics that cost five cents. Why is life so unfair? Why does this happen? I don't think the answer to those questions are of this world. Not even in scripture...the first place I would look. I think scripture offers the map to the answer, but not the answer itself.

I can give. Don't have much, but again the news channels list viable and effective charities (and also some that are scams). I've also looked on
that lists many (not all) organizations, their financial effectiveness, and payroll (shame on some of them).

I can pray. I don't pray enough. I sometimes think I need to use words of careful consideration and deference to God. I sometimes look up prayers of tradition and those written by others: all good. But I think all prayer is the same to God. It can be a thought, a silent pause in the day, a sound....even just the phrase, "help them".

Whether you have firm faith, little faith, no faith, or aren't sure what life is all about, I hope you hold those words in your heart and share them with God or what you believe to be a higher power...."help them".

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle, And the hills the greenest green, in Seattle"

Since there was no Christmas newsletter in 2009, thought we would let you on the Mullen doin's. Donna and I didn't travel much last year due to my limited mobility and the economy being a bit dicey. We did establish some travel guidelines prior to any trips; as close to home as possible, no cities (concrete is not my friend), no flying (open space terminal flooring not my friend either), and no place where the sun wasn't shining most of the day.

We then flew to Seattle in May.

Donna always wanted to go there and I had fond memories from a visit 30+ years ago. When I revisit a place I haven't been to in awhile, I like to compare and see who or what has changed more, me or the place. Seattle won in all categories. Seattle wasn't fighting gravity around the waist. No proliferating gray hair. Not a wrinkle visible on city streets, no potholes. I limped; the downtown traffic, even at rush hour, moved with measurement and order. Store fronts and sidewalks were full of interest. Polite and unhurried pedestrians - cell phone affixed to one hand, Starbucks to the other - always at the ready in case someone lit a cigarette or dressed without fashion consideration. The city was still young without those attendant problems, still in puberty even after 30 years. Bad for me, good for the visit.

Seattle is surprisingly hilly. In fact a guy I was talking to on one of the buses while going to the Mariners game ($15.00 for a great seat!) explained to me that Seattle was just like San Francisco, but "without the Californians." Which I took to be a good thing.

Donna made me stay in a nice hotel downtown that came with a concierge desk and great views on upper floors. About once an hour a sea plane with pontoons would either take off or land on Lake Union and fly right by our hotel window. On our first day we asked the concierge the best way to get around. He said, "we have 78 light rail and bus routes". So although complete, public transportation was somewhat complicated. But Day two, armed with 4 maps, Donna was giving route numbers and directions to tourists.

Herein lies the best memory of the trip. I find a trip always has a memory moment, the first thing that comes into your mind when thinking about or asked about a particular vacation or place you've been to. Sea level sunset in Maui, a double-decker bus motoring around London, a beach of rain on Cape Cod. A moment. For Seattle, the moment came as we were waiting for a subway on the third underground level of a subway station and having a bus show up. Let me repeat. We were waiting for the subway and a bus showed up...out of the subway tunnel. My first thought being - does the bus know it is a bus and not a subway? Imagine. Donna and I flew over 2400 miles to discover a 12 ton bus with a delusional identity crisis. Go figure.

We did all the touristy things, mostly in the city, but did take the ferry over to the Olympic peninsula for a day. No matter where you went it was hard to escape the magnificent gaze of Mount Ranier. Like everything else in Seattle, it was impressive. We also went to the Univ. of Washington Botanic Gardens. There is an magnificent Japanese garden and an azalea walk that spans over a mile. The azaleas are interspersed with lilac bushes and all manner of evergreens and pines that background a wide, grassy trail.

We also ate out - restaurants around Pike's Market and in Belltown mostly. Tom Douglas's Dahlia (Tom "put Northwest cuisine on the map",... thank you Tom) in Belltown was very good. Dining tip- word to the wise-they sat us near kitchen. I didn't have enough black on.

Also noticed both at Dahlia's and another very good eatery, Steelhead Dinner, (near Pike Market, not seated by the kitchen, we must have been considered "cool")that the wait staff used the term "treated" instead of "cooked." You know, when they come up to you and give the specials and "featured" presentations of the evening..and also size you up for a tip; they will say something like this, "We have for your consideration Grilled marinated skirt steak treated with encrusted oregonzola, pickled onions and peppercorn aioli." I started to wonder if the food in the kitchens of Seattle restaurants are being handled by line and sous chefs or board certified physicians.

I "treated" my side dish, french fries, with ketchup.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!!

At this point in my life, I'm not enthusiastic about giving birth to any New Year's resolutions. I can't remember any that proved sucessful when made - many did eventually over a long period of time so maybe that is the real benefit.

Wrapping a wish for changed behavior around a date certain for this particular year would only make me think of my shortcomings more than usual (too much time to do so) and make attainment out of reach.

On the other hand if making resolutions this year is something you like to do and have done - I salute you! I know some of you need it :) If you want to start, drop me a line by email or "comments". You can share. Or if you are stuck on which bad behavior to reform first, I'm sure I can help. Always excelled at pointing out
peoples' shortcomings.

Come to think of it, I guess I may be making at least one for myself now.

If I see something during the year I wish to remember, I've learned that I have to write it down and set it aside for future purusing. The list is short this year (note to self - after writing it down, be sure to remember where it is set aside).

A character from the TV show, House..."Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous."

On blackboard in a children's room at church. "Preach the gospel. If necessary use words."

From a forum on a financial website - not attributed:
"A person needs 3 things to find happiness and peace.
-Something worthwhile to keep them busy.
-Someone to love.
-Something to look forward to."

I think happiness involves more. Good place to start though.