Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Being Useful

 By Fred Owens
Being Useful. Online I read the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. That's the legacy media or what we call the mainstream press. I also read Politico, Slate and the Daily Beast. I used to read the Huffington Post, but it has gotten too fluffy. For conservative balance I read the National Review.
Here's an interesting observation: When the New York Times AND the National Review agree on the same opinion, we have something worth noticing. The Times thinks that Trump, Jr. is a fruitcake with a bad haircut -- not surprising. But the National Review seems to share that view.
The National Review hates to agree with the Times, but they have agreed with the Times on the matter of Trump, Jr.'s character -- he is one bad actor.
Forty Percent. Trump is supported by forty percent of the people, according to the latest polls, 36 percent actually, but let's round it up and say 40 percent. At that level Trump can govern and govern badly, but he can't be impeached. He holds the high ground and occupies the White House. Those forty percenters love him and no amount of Russian chicanery will change their minds. The mainstream press howls and screams against Trump. He doesn't care. The Democrats in Congress are old and weak. Obama is playing golf. ........ Nothing ever happens in late July or August anyway. Everyone is at the beach or in the hammock....
Trump is having his day, but the tide will change -- it always does.

Sharks and Wildfires in Santa Barbara
What we have going on in Santa Barbara is sharks and wildfires. The Whittier fire has been going for more than a week and more than 18,000 acres. We had two evacuees staying at our house this week. There home was right in the path of the blaze, close enough to force the evacuation, but thankfully never got any closer and they went back to their home yesterday.

The Whittier fire is a good five miles from our house. We have seen towering clouds of smoke from the fire and some ash has fallen on the garden and on the cars in the driveway, and the air has gotten a bit smoky.
Out in the ocean, we keep hearing shark reports, some within ten feet of the shore. That doesn't seem to keep me or anybody else out of the water, but those big munchers are out there cruising for snacks. The great whites prefer sea mammals but people will do.
I think we need to call the guy from Jaws. We can have shark for dinner or they can have us.
The Quotidian -- Eye Surgery

“Take off your shirt and put on this gown with the back side open.”
“Okay, but I’m going to be cold.”
“I’ll be bringing you a heated blanket in just a minute.”
Sharon brought in the heated blanket after she got me settled in the bed.
“Which arm do you prefer for the IV?”
I had to think about that.
“Which arm did they use the last time they drew blood?”
“I don’t remember which arm, but they said I had good veins, so you pick the arm that works best for you.” I thought I was being gracious to the nurse, to make it easy for her to find the best vein. I had no preference. It’s an art to install the IV needle with the smallest poke and some people have devilish tough and a hard-to-find veins, but I am one of the easy ones. She  got me stuck and connected to the drip in no time.
Meanwhile she was wondering out loud what happened to the nice Hawaiian music on the radio overhead. She called out past the curtain to the hall and said, “I liked that Hawaiian music. Who turned it off?”
Then she told me about the time she was a single mom with four kids living out in the country and one of her kids got a fish hook in his nose, so she used a wire cutters to cut off the barb and then pushed the hook on through. That had to hurt. “But that’s what you do when you’re out in the country on your own,” she said.
I really didn’t want to hear that little story. She had light-blonde hair cut across evenly around the back of her neck and straight cut bangs in the front. Her complexion made her look experienced. I noticed her feet, in clean white sneakers and guessed her feet didn’t hurt, not yet. It was 8 a.m. figuring Sharon got there at 6 a.m. and her feet didn’t start to hurt until after lunch, if at all.
That’s why she was still working, and ten years older than any other nurse on the staff. Good bones and good posture will save the day if you’re on your feet all day at the day surgery center.
She got the heated blanket and put it over me. Then for good measure brought in another blanket on top of  that. I was going into zen mode, into the pre-anaesthetic meditation state of mind. They were going to hook me up with the happy juice for the procedure, but I figured I would start going there already.
The way you do that is close your eyes and leave your body. I can do that easily because I have such an active imagination and powerful memory. Retreating into my own head is like entering into one of  world’s great libraries – places I have been, people I have met, recordings of long discussions and arguments that I have never actually had, but imagine having. Like what Harry Truman and I were talking about one day when we were out for a walk together.
That was in Kansas City, Missouri, in the late summer of 1954. President Truman was two years retired from the White House at that point, and he continued his habit of an early morning walk in the neighborhood. One day I waited on the sidewalk in front of his house and asked to join him.
He came out striding briskly, well suited, clean-shaven, undaunted, “Mr. President can I join you?”
“Certainly,” he said without breaking stride. I had to jump to keep up with him. We discussed Dean Acheson, and the United Nations and the Soviet menace. Truman was an outspoken man in every respect, but he took his retirement seriously. It was no longer up to him to call the shots. Let Ike do it, he said in so many words.
I was remembering this conversation with Harry Truman as they wheeled me into the operating room. I was about to bring up the career of John Foster Dulles, but I was interrupted by the smiling face of Dr. Hussein, the anesthesiologist.  “I am Dr. Hussein, your anesthesiologist.” He was less than forty years old, slight build, of a South Asian complexion, strong teeth, heavy beard, friendly smile. “I want to be sure you are comfortable. I will put some medication in the IV and it will feel like one or two margaritas. You will be awake, but you won’t care.”
Fine with me. That’s the power of trust. They draped me around the right eye to prepare removing the cataract. They call it routine surgery. I see nothing routine about it. Just because everybody in the room has done this same procedure a thousand times  doesn’t make it routine to me.
This is the most important medical event in the year 2017. This is my life. The entire surgical center, the entire worldwide medical establishment, all depend on the successful completion of this “minor” operation on me, That’s how I see it.
The happy juice takes effect. Dr. Ketchup, the ophthalmologist, arrives. I don’t know how he spells his name. I don’t care how he spells it. He doesn’t care either. Dr. Ketchup doesn’t do the bedside manner. He is not the voice of re-assurance. He is the voice of how are the Dodgers doing today and the pros and cons of investing in real estate in the small town of Lompoc where he owns some investment property…. All the while doing stuff to my eyeball. I don’t care what he talks about because I can feel his hands working and his hands feel good. He’s having a good day, and that is to my benefit. Let the man work, I say. In five minutes he was done.
They pushed me into the recovery room. Waited a while. Gave me post-operative instructions and then called Laurie to come pick me up.
Meanwhile I took off the hospital gown and put my shirt back on. I was done.

Notes. His real name is Douglas Katzev, M.D., chairman of ophthalmology at Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara…… The Santa Barbara Surgery Center is located on DeLaVina Street right next to Trader Joe’s. They ask you to sign a release to resuscitate, to transfuse blood, to transport you to the big hospital, to allow assistants to help the doctor, and to allow observation.
The basic procedure was covered by Medicare and my supplemental insurance from Blue Cross/Anthem. I chose a slight upgrade on lenses at a cost of $800. They gave me prescriptions for three kinds of eye drops that would cost $600. I balked at that expense.
It was Aurora, the surgery coordinator, who told me about the cost of eye drops. I said “I can’t pay that. My insurance doesn’t cover prescriptions. We’ll have to postpone the procedure.”
“Not to worry,” Aurora said. “I have a solution.”
She opened her desk drawer and took out a handful of samples. “Here’s what you need.”
So, Fred wins and big Pharma loses.

thank you,


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