Monday, February 19, 2018

Achilles Killed Hector

By Fred Owens

Achilles killed Hector. It finally happened. It was foretold, but when it actually happened it was awful. This is in Book 22 of the Iliad...... I never read the whole poem before.... When we studied Classical Greek in high school, we read the Odyssey..... But the Iliad is the greater and more powerful work....It is awesome, I can only read one or two pages at a time in English.... I have a Greek version of the poem, the Loeb Classic edition, and I can pick out a few words here and there in the original is a great treasure to know this language, as Horace wrote exegi monumentum aere perennius ... that was Latin, but you get the idea. It means "I will build a monument more lasting than bronze." .... These poems have lasted for thousands of years ...
The Iliad is a terribly violent book, a tale of constant battle, sword thrusts and bloody corpses. It is most thoroughly patriarchal. There are few female characters and they tend to be fought over.
Unless you count the goddesses. They are hell to pay and mount one scheme after another. Hera is the wife and sister of Zeus. She favors the Greeks. Aphrodite and Artemis favor the Trojans. Athena whispers into Achilles' ear and stirs his emotions. The godesses move mountains and change the course of rivers on the battle field.  They strike fear and they inspire courage. This was all before Marvel Comics, but you get the idea.

The Iliad was written three thousand years ago. Thus the patriarchy was born in a noble tragedy. Born in tragedy and ending in farce. Farce, thy name is Trump. He is the last patriarch. Will Trump's Tweets last for the ages, or will they melt in the sun like the morning dew?
A Broken Promise in Florida after the Shooting
The only people we cannot possibly blame are the high school students themselves. We have broken our promise. If we cannot guarantee their safety, then they are not bound to follow our instructions.... By what authority do you compel a student to  attend class and study if you cannot promise safety? .... They will go on strike. The public schools will descend into chaos and conflict. Conservatives will love this because they consider the public schools to be cesspools of corruption and depravity. Go on strike, Trump will say, and let's shut them all down.
Lacking guidance and moral authority, teenagers will form marauding gangs. Conservatives will retreat to armed compounds. Trump will revel in the  fearful destruction. Trump, the last patriarch, will demand loyalty and promise safety. Trust me, he will say, and millions will do just that, all heavily armed.
I might be taking this Greek epic to heart and coloring my words in a nightmare vision. I hear the wailing of the #MeToo Chorus. Fate! It has been foretold! There is no mercy! Epic Glory descends to Fake News!
My rant ends here. Let's lighten up.
I Don't Understand Gefilte Fish

I will keep this short, but it seems relevant to our earlier discussion of kvetching.

I ate gefilte fish, but only once. I didn't get the point. I was doing some garden work for Moshe Waldoks in Brookline, which is part of Boston. How I got to Boston and how I got to know famed Jewish humorist Moshe Waldoks -- that is a long story. He wrote the Big Book of Jewish Humor.
When I knew him, in 1992, he was a large boisterous man with a booming voice and a big smile. Always energetic. He lived in a big white house in Brookline, a leafy Boston suburb. I came one day to trim his shrubbery. This was not a happy job because Moshe, a man of wild ambitions and rambunctious enthusiasm, had no interest in his yard.
Even today I can picture his back yard -- scrawny trees and overgrown shrubs.

But he invited me in for lunch, to his warm, friendly kitchen. He was spoon feeding his young son lumps of gefilte fish out of a glass jar, and cooing like a love bird, such lovely food.
He offered me some. I tasted it. That's the wrong word. Gefilte fish has no taste. What is the point? The point is I never saw Moshe Waldoks again, but I remember that lunch time moment. Forget the gefilte fish, I said to myself, but remember his smile.

Harvey Blume, the Lion of East Cambridge, heard of my gefilte fish problem. He told me you need to eat it with strong horseradish and matzos. I will try that some day.
Greek tragedy is leavened by Jewish humor. Fate  is strong.  What can you do? You can laugh, because the laugh is on you.
Surgery. My thyroid surgery went well. The hospital staff was incredibly kind and competent. I got home the same day and by the next day I was free of pain. Then I took it easy for a few days and now I am back gardening and writing this newsletter. Thanks to the many readers who sent me expressions of sympathy.
Drought in Santa Barbara. It is too dry. The only decent rain we have gotten all winter was the deluge that caused the Montecito Mudslide and that terrible loss of life. Every day we look up at warm, sunny skies -- which are so pleasant for us human beings, but too hard on trees and shrubbery. We pray every day, can we please have some rain, and please not too much at one time.
The Grandchild in Seattle. Laurie and I will fly to Seattle in April to visit our grandchild Finn. He will be eight months old. He is already achieving monumental feats of cuteness which we view via FaceTime. It will be so much nicer to hold him and make faces at him. Lara and Eva are doing a great job raising this young boy. Not much of a baby anymore, ready to crawl, and grow teeth and say Ma.
Toronto. Laurie and I will fly to Toronto in early June for the 50th Reunion of the class of 1968 at St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto. I will indulge my sense of nostalgia and tell you tales of old college days when we were young. It was a gift to go to college in Canada during the Sixties. There was no war in Vietnam, no draft, and no riots. Canadians were concerned about the madness in the States and only wished to be helpful, but there was no way there going to send more than a few soldiers over to Southeast Asia.  In this more tranquil college atmosphere I was able to study and have fun too. It should be illegal how much fun I had back then, but I did study as well, read hundreds of books and got good grades. Well, that was a long time ago.
A New Laptop. If the Seattle trip goes well and the Toronto trip goes well, if I have any money left, I will buy a new laptop. Hopefully. Some basic new model at Best Buy or perhaps an almost new reconditioned Apple.

Subscription Appeal.   Subscription money helps to maintain Frog Hospital as an independent voice. I lean left and Democratic, but I do not support any cause. I do not promote an ideology. I only write about what I see going on.
 Send a check for $25 or $50 to Fred Owens, 1105 Veronica Springs RD, Santa Barbara CA 93105 or go to Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button for $25 or $50.
thanks a lot,

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

Monday, February 05, 2018


By Fred Owens

Dr. Benjamin Howard is young. He's probably 30-years-old but he looks 25, average build and height, light brown hair, a mildly confident manner as he entered the room.

He has a wife and two small children. He recently came to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara when the old surgeon retired. He went to medical school at UCIrvine and did surgical residence at UCSanFrancisco.
That's where he learned to work on thyroid glands. I don't know what else he does but he's going to work on mine. Remove it. Apparently you can get along without a thyroid gland by taking thyroid replacement pills -- $5 a month at Wal-Mart.
The thyroid is like a thermostat on your home heating. You add more and then your metabolic rate kicks up a notch, or you cut back on the dosage and you slow done. Up or down.
Well, if it's that easy not to have a thyroid, then why do we have one in the first place? I don't know. But several well-informed people have told me I would be better off without mine.
It's the nodules. A lot of people have nodules on their thyroid glands. Like warts. They don't hurt anything. But I have a big nodule, bigger than a ping pong ball, big enough to name, big enough to put on a leash and take for a walk.
Oh, don't worry. It's benign. We did a biopsy. They checked, They poked a long, slim needle in my my throat four times and it came up fine. This was a year ago. "Not to worry, it's benign. But you might think about having us take it out because you never know. We could take it out and that's that."
Low key, no pressure. A year passes. Another ultra sound. It's still there. Starting to squish my breathing tube and impact the swallowing. So I said okay, let's do it, let's take it out.
That's when I met Dr. Howard, the surgeon. He explained the procedure and the possible complications and the likely outcome. Then he asked me if I had any questions.
I said, "Are you right-handed or left-handed?"
He said he was a right-handed, but a left-handed surgeon could do just as well.
Then he handed me over to the scheduling nurse. She said is Friday, February 9 all right?
Then be here at 5 a.m. and don't eat or drink anything the night before.
I was nervous about all this, but I talked with people and began to gain a little confidence, so I think it will be all right.
The National Scene

This business with the memo being released by the Republicans on the committee is confusing. I do not understand the problem. I read a couple of news stories about this memo but it reads like Sanskrit. No Comprendo.
Overall, Trump is winning. He is driving me and a lot of other people into a state of exhaustion. He disrupts, then he disrupts, then he disrupts again. Trump is wearing me out and I don't know what to do about this.
#Me Too and Hollywood
Maureen Dowd writes about Uma Thurman and Quentin Tarantino in Sunday's NYTimes. Following her, Nicholas Kristof writes about Woody Allen and the accusations against him.
What this tells us, what we already knew, is that a lot of weird people work in the movie industry. If they are making an effort to behave better, then all power to them. But even so they do not inspire the nation. Or I should say they do not inspire me. I have never looked to Hollywood for moral guidance.  Artists have never been paragons of virtue. Adventuresome, creative, different, yes, and a blessing to our country for that. But to serve as a model of good behavior, I don't think so. They cannot lead us to a better place.
For a model of good, loving behavior, we don't have to look far -- Consider Barack and Michelle Obama. They seem to treat each other pretty well. Their behavior inspires me. They set a good example in their personal lives, no matter what you think about their politics.

We've been hearing too many bad, true stories, but we need to balance that with some good, true stories, to show us a better way. 
St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto.
It is my good fortune to announce that Laurie and I will be going to Toronto in early June, for my 50th class reunion. It will be fun. I looked at non-stop flights from Los Angeles, they run about $450 round trip. We will be staying at the dorm, where they have fixed up rooms with double beds and private bathrooms. Those rooms, which I expect to be fairly Spartan, run about $45 per night including breakfast.
The St. Michael's campus is quiet and very pretty in early June -- the green grass on the lawn will be a pleasure to our parched drought-stricken eyes. The peonies and roses will be in bloom. It will be nice to see old friends and meet new friends. I expect we will do little more than sit and talk, and then stroll around here and there and talk some more.

How about a class nap?  Okay, class, blankets at the ready, two p.m. in the Quad, ready, sleep!

That's all for today,


Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Blood Pressure

By Fred Owens

Donald Trump is causing a lot of high blood pressure, but he doesn't seem to have any himself  -- based on his recent physical..... The doctors said he was overweight but otherwise fine. To me he shows a remarkable level of energy for a man his age and that puzzled me until I figured it out.
Trump doesn't read or think. I  could save a tremendous amount of energy if I did not read or think. I could get up at 5 a.m. and blast off some Tweets if I didn't think or read.
Enough about Trump. I called the Sansum Clinic here in Santa Barbara because my blood pressure showed an alarming increase. I asked to see Christine, the Nurse Practitioner, rather than Bryce Holderness, the MD.
I called the clinic and they put me on hold for twenty minutes, but my attitude was pleasant so I just put the phone on speaker and went about doing other things while I waited.
What did please me was the result. I told them my BP showed an alarming increase and I would like to come in to see the Nurse Practitioner, choosing her because she was more likely available. Dr. Holderness is a fine fellow but his time is portioned out in minutes. With Christine you get 15 even 20 minutes.
They said I could come in the next morning at 8:30. Isn't that good? I called the doctor with much less than an emergency, and they said I could come in the next day. This is why I like the Sansum Clinic.
And the problem was easily resolved. My BP had not increased, it was quite normal. Rather, my battery-powered wrist monitor was faulty, and too old, and giving false readings..... The nurse said it was time for a replacement.
I said I could use my girl-friend's plug-in electric monitor instead. I had brought that better monitor with me and it showed the same result as the one they use at the clinic.
Isn't that sweet? Now Laurie and I use the same BP monitor.
And it is time to explore lower salt options. Two days ago we had boiled potatoes with dinner. I put butter on them but no salt. It wasn't bad at all. The butter has enough salt in it to go around.
And cheese. I gotta think about that. Most cheeses are very salty --- I might have to cut back there.
What about cholesterol? Not a problem for me. My annual blood test and physical shows very good scores in that area. Basically I have a license to put mayonnaise on everything. That is my good fortune.
This is probably as much as you want to know about my health.
I manage my own blood pressure, and I try not to aggravate other people.. I do a lot of thinking and reading as well. In that sense I am in much better health than that clown in the White House, although we are the same age.
Mudslide in Montecito
We are six miles from the mudslide and scarcely impacted. It was a furious downpour that caused the debris flow. But the fact is it only amounted to an inch or two or rain. We are still in a drought. In Southern California we can have drought and flood at the same time. Most of us Californians know that.
Home prices here are astronomical. The median price in Santa Barbara is above $1.4 million. That prices cops and school teachers out of the market. A good town is where the cop, the school teacher and the nurse can all afford to buy a home. The police force has a hard time hiring people -- they even advertise about job openings on TV..... "You can start a career in law enforcement," the ad says. But if they take the job, where will they live?
California has too many poor people. If you factor in the cost of housing, then California has a poverty rate near to Mississippi. But you don't see that poorness here in blessed Santa Barbara.
It's a problem. I don't have an answer. I wish some elected official would say just that, "Housing is a problem and I don't have a solution."   That would be the honest thing to say.
That's one of the ways you can find out if a politician is telling the truth -- if they admit their limitations. Donald Trump has a solution for any problem you can think of, but I don't believe him. I prefer a dash of humility in our elected leaders.

Santa Barbara is an affluent community  -- good schools, a beautiful environment, a sound economy and a gracious social climate. We have the beaches, the mountains, the fine architecture  -- and good doctors.

Getting a quick appointment at a place like Sansum Clinic is one of the perks. We have lots of good doctors  -- they like living here too.

So  it's easy to skip over the alarming poverty in other parts of the state.

Californians voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a huge margin  --- as if we believed in ourselves. But the rest of the nation -- or larger parts of it like Pennsylvania and Michigan -- aren't falling for the California Dream.

It used to be you could be living back east, but you told the boss to take this job and shove it. Then you packed up the station wagon, piled in with the dog and the kids and headed out to California, where you quickly found a good job and the start of a sunny new good life.

You can't do that anymore. Our affluent coastal communities are getting too exclusive. The folks in Scranton are stuck there now and cannot escape from dreary winters, so they become angry and vote for Trump or they become addicted to Fentanyl. I don't know how to fix this.

St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto. I went to this excellent school in Canada. I belong to the class of 1968. We are celebrating 50 years now. I am unlikely to attend the Re-Union at this point, but I kinda wanna go.

The Fishtown Woods Massacre. That was 30 years ago, in 1988. They cut all the trees, tore down the cabins and kicked all the hippies out of Fishtown. Nobody wants to remember that awful day.

You're Not Even Jewish. "You're Not Even Jewish" is a story I wrote that has been published in the January issue of the Jewish Literary Journal. The story is about how I took an interest in learning to read and write Hebrew, how I taught myself that language and went on to a three-year participation in Jewish culture. It was very interesting. That's what Harvey Blume said. Harvey actually is Jewish and he said what he liked about being Jewish is that it is so damned interesting. He's right.

That's all for now. If you want to buy a subscription to Frog Hospital contact me for the particulars.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

Sunday, January 21, 2018

You Almost Made It, Frankie

By Fred Owens
The Montecito Mudslide claimed 21 lives and two people are still missing. Over 100 homes were destroyed, including great damage to roads, bridges and utilities. The freeway has been closed for 12 days but it will open tomorrow.
A little California history, especially geologic history, shows that destructive mudslides occur from time to time. It would be better if we knew when they were coming. As it was, authorities gave very strong and clear warning to the residents involved, but having evacuated for two and three weeks because of the Thomas fire, many folks decided to shelter in place when the flood came.
Santa Barbara folks are recovering. Big storm waves are filling the waters with ardent surfers. The Santa Barbara Film Festival will open as planned on January 31, for ten days of movie magic.  Plenty of oranges and avocadoes continue to grow in the back yard. People like living in Santa Barbara and no one wants to leave.

I got this story from a friend who works as a nursing aide at the hospital here in Santa Barbara..... slightly edited, but his words.
By Philip Deutsch
You Almost Made It, Frankie
I’m telling this story to get it off my mind. Patients don’t usually stay with me. I put my heart into the work when I’m on the unit, but I forget the whole thing by the time I get to the parking lot when I’m going home at 11 p.m.
It’s a good rhythm. You go home, read a book, have a glass of wine, and sleep without troubles. The next day you do it again
But Frankie stayed with me. He was 78, in assisted living. His wife had just died and he was in pain from hip surgery. He overdosed on his pain medication and the medics found him on the floor with seven Fentanyl patches pressed to his skin.
Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic and widely used in the form of dermal patches to relieve pain. The patch releases the medication in a careful slow way and -- sometimes with unpleasant side effects -- it works.
But seven patches all at once will send you down the river and on your way to the next life. Such a patient will not be left alone in the hospital, lest they try to harm themselves again. Standard procedure. Suicide watch.
Frankie was deeply asleep when I got there at 4:30 in the afternoon. Comatose? I don’t know the medical term. But past danger, I think.
Kelly was the nurse. She’s one of the angels. They make you feel good just walking in the room. I don’t know about the patients, but I know I feel good when Kelly is around.
Frankie had a heart monitor, just in case. These are four wire leads pressed to the chest, connected to a monitor room where someone could watch his pulse and breathing rate. The monitor, besides being watched by a live person, is set with ding-ding-dings if the patient’s heart rate exceeds the parameters. They have ding-ding-dings all over the hospital. You can’t relax for a minute.
So there’s Frankie, on his back, sleeping peacefully, with thick white hair closely cropped, a trim spade beard, round face, and good skin color. He looked healthy, if you asked me, and he was resting well. I was sitting beside the bed and I turned on the TV to watch the baseball game -- kept the volume low. It makes good background noise -- the sound of a murmuring crowd. No ding-ding-dings at the baseball game.
Maybe that’s what’s bothering me. How can anybody get any rest at this hospital? It’s a process of continuous interruption.
Kelly floats in and out of the room. She gives Frankie a bladder catheter. He barely wakes during the procedure. The urine bag fills up promptly. He needed a good pee, but he was too out of it to use the urinal, and the narcotic relaxed his muscles over much, so he wouldn’t just go without help.
If there’s one thing that matters around here, it’s urination. They get really worried if you’re not peeing, and they get happy if you do. It’s all about moving the fluids -- things you’ve been managing by yourself since you were two-years-old, but when you’re sick you need help.
Kelly leaves. Frankie sleeps, I watch the game -- Dodgers and Phillies. That’s it. Six hours and I go home. Only this time, when I get to the parking lot, I keep seeing Frankie’s peaceful face. I keep thinking -- Frankie, you almost made it.
Depression and Suicide.  Everybody gets the blues now and then. But real depression is much worse than having a bad day -- real depression is staying in bed all day, being unable to leave the house, no appetite, insomnia, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. One of the things I do at the hospital is suicide watch. Obviously, I don’t see those who have made a successful effort to end their lives. But I see the attempts and the failures. These are some mighty unhappy people -- everything’s going so wrong and they can’t even kill themselves.
Usually it’s an overdose -- a cocktail of legal and illegal drugs. The doctors would sure like to know just what it is you took when you get to ER -- perhaps if you pinned a note to your shirt before you passed out.
Either way, when you get to the ER, they give you the charcoal syrup which soaks up the poison. The charcoal looks awful, but it has no taste.
Don’t try suicide with Tylenol. A sufficient amount of Tylenol will kill you, but a less than sufficient amount will merely damage your liver, resulting in prolonged hospitalization and enormous medical expense. The opiates are actually better, because recovery can be fairly quick after a less than fatal dose. Wrist slashing requires determination, and a failed attempt will leave scars that might embarrass you later in life.
As I said, I deal with the failures, and my medical knowledge is strictly anecdotal -- I only see the patients after they have been medically cleared -- when they just need to be watched.
The patients are almost always quite young, 20 to 35, and two thirds female. They are very withdrawn. They seem to be terribly embarrassed. They just lie in bed and I make no attempt at conversation.
I don’t think they want to die.
I don’t have much faith in therapy and social work, but that’s what happens after the attempt. You have to talk to somebody. This somebody comes into the patient’s room and an earnest conversation ensues -- as in, let’s find out what’s going on, and let’s see what we can do about it. This is just my bias, but I don’t see the point of “doing anything” about it. I’m quite glad to be alive myself, and I would recommend that status to anyone who asked.
But it’s your life, not mine. The social compact requires us to live until we die, so I would not help you if you wanted to kill yourself. Having said that, I think the highest respect and kindness for someone is to let them be the way they are. Are you depressed? Yes, that happens. Do you want my help? Ask for it. Do you want my attention? Then do or say something that interests me.
I just don’t want to treat a patient as if they were pathetic. I stay in the room with them and we’re going to get through the day together. I can promise that -- we’ll get through the day. And we’ll see about tomorrow.
Now Frankie was different than the others, in my own limited experience. He was much older, for one. And he made a fairly serious attempt to die, taking seven Fentanyl patches. As I said, he almost made it. If they hadn’t checked his room for another hour, he would have been gone for good.
So what happened to him after I left him at the hospital? I don’t know. I suspect they won’t let him have his own supply of Fentanyl anymore, but will give it to him one dose at a time. He’ll get counseling, but I hope it comes with respect.
There’s a time when you might tell a younger person that she’s a fool and that she’s throwing her life away. That can be a good thing to say.
But the old folks -- you really shouldn’t tell them anything. They are way past the rest of us. A doctor or a nurse, no matter how experienced or how well trained, will have no idea what it takes to be 78 until they get there themselves.

Now, I’ve finished writing about Frankie. I’ve done patient care for five years -- at a hospital, a psychiatric hospital, and a nursing home -- five years.. In those five years, I have adopted about 12 patients. It just happens. These are the ones that get into my psyche, make themselves at home and just stay. That’s why I call it adoption. I see their faces, and I mean going back years and I still see their faces. It looks like Frankie has joined the roster, along with Rachel, James, Eddie, and the others.
Twelve patients are enough. You don’t want to encourage this adoption. You want to shake them off by the time you get to the parking lot, but it happens anyway.
Subscription Appeal.
Subscription money helps to maintain Frog Hospital as an independent voice. I lean left and Democratic, but I don't work for those people. I do not support any cause. I do not promote an ideology. I only write about what I see going on.
Send a check for $25 or $50 to Fred Owens, 1105 Veronica Springs RD, Santa Barbara CA 93105 or go to Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button for $25 or $50.
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

The Battle of the Sexes

By Fred Owens
This past year of 2017 has been a good one -- turbulent, to be sure, but a good year over all. And 2018 will be even better.

In 2018 the battle of the sexes will continue. Men know they don't understand women and they don't try to understand women, which is why they say you can't live with them and you can't live without them, and the best thing is to do what they want as often as possible and don't ask why.

Women think they understand men. They don't. Thinking they understand men leads to thinking they can change them. This doesn't work and won't work, but it will be fought out in 2018.

But men will adopt a few changes, out of compassion and out of self-preservation. There will be no more bum patting, for instance, of anybody by anybody else. That's an easy one, because it is concrete and specific. Everybody knows what a bum is, and everybody can understand that you don't put your hand on someone else's bum.

The hard one is the ban on jokes. No jokes at all is the safest choice, but it's so undefinable -- what is offensive -- and it's so humorless.Imagine a sign at your place of work that says "No offensive language." This is most problematic and subject to constant interpretation.

Imagine dropping a large heavy object on your foot while you are at work. You cry out "Jesus Fucking Christ, that hurts!"

Multiple persons might be offended by that language. You should have said, "Dang! Double Dang!"  But instead you let loose with a ripper.

So try to stick with concrete and specific rules. Men cannot be reformed, but they can carry out simple instructions. Women are expecting men to change, and to live up to new standards of behavior..... I would not raise the bar too high. I would not issue a universal indictment against the male sex. That's a little too ambitious. Trump merely wants to make America great again, whatever that means. Trump's goal seems modest in comparison to #MeToo's goal of reinventing human nature.

I mistrust messianic movements. I mistrust zealotry. I have a small tolerance for righteousness. I am sinner myself and I feel most at ease with my own kind.

I mistrust movements led by Hollywood entertainers. I mistrust movements that go viral on social media.

Please Change the Name

The movement against harassment and assault is laudable but the name is a poor choice. #MeToo has a whining sound to it. "Don't I get to play? I want to come too?"  The name is passive and secondary. Wonder Woman would never say Me Too. Me Two is for sidekicks. It's for Number Two.

The Battle of the Sexes Continues

Being a little picky here, but I keep hearing about unwanted sexual advances. Is there a way to find out ahead of time?

And sexual misconduct is beginning to sound like fun -- please re-consider using that phrase.

So Old-Fashioned

If you change your expectations and insist that men behave in a new and better way, you might very well be right about that -- erecting a New Standard for Men.

A standard for men and a standard for women. What do you call that when men and women each have a standard?

A Double Standard! God, I love it. We're bringing back the double standard. 

Coercion and Deception. Sexual harassment and assault are matters of coercion and should be resisted. Deception is another problem altogether. Supposing you meet a man and you get along well and go out together and become intimate over time, and then you find out he's married. He lied to you. He didn't force you to have sex with him, but he lied to you and got what he wanted. This happens all the time. Are we going to include deception in the general indictment?

Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein is small potatoes. Donald Trump is causing far more harm to woman and humanity. Is #MeToo going after Trump? He seems unscathed and unassailable at this point.

Meryl Streep. She said famously and in paraphrase, about Harvey Weinstein's hotel room, "I didn't know. Nobody told me. How was I supposed to know?"  By defending herself this way she became guilty of either ignorance or looking the other way. Streep's day as queen of Hollywood is over. Reese Witherspoon is my pick for the new queen of Tinsel Town..

#MeToo is evolving into Time's Up. Certainly a much better name, as I have already mentioned. But it remains to be seen if they can get their feet on the ground, representing the top tier of wealthy and prominent actresses  -- how is that supposed to help the rest of us? This is the Hollywood elite. Real movements start in church basements in Oregon and union halls in Wisconsin.

The movement is flawed, but Trump dismisses it as his peril. The battle of the sexes will rage in 2018. Trump will lose. Time's Up will stagger, will falter, but will somehow stumble to the finish line and win.

So remember the new rules. Keep yous hands to yourself and if you drop something heavy on your toe, say "Dang! Double Dang!"

Subscription Appeal.
Subscription money helps to maintain Frog Hospital as an independent voice. I lean left and Democratic, but I don't work for those people. I do not support any cause. I do not promote an ideology. I only write about what I see going on.
 Send a check for $25 or $50 to Fred Owens, 1105 Veronica Springs RD, Santa Barbara CA 93105 or go to Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button for $25 or $50.
Bonus story
Since we discussed wrong touching, it might be interesting to read this story about nursing work, which is very much a "hands on" occupation.
Touching People
I wrote this for students in a nursing class -- you might find it interesting because it gives you a look on the other side.

Nurses touch patients. There is a right way to do this and it can be learned.
I begin with my experiences as a patient, in hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices, going back to childhood. When the nurse or doctor touched me, putting their hands somewhere on my body, it always felt good.
It’s kind of difficult to describe how it felt -- sort of warm and cool at the same time, and both comforting and firm.
If a doctor or nurse touched me and it didn’t feel good, I would get out of there really fast, but this has never happened.
The nursing student might recall experiences of being touched by health care people. Did it always feel good? Try to remember how it felt.
New nursing students are not used to touching people in the way that doctors and nurses do, especially the men. It’s a little scary and it feels awkward and embarrassing, but think of it simply as a skill, something you can learn, something that you will get better at with practice and experience.
Consider the body. In our culture, for the most part, the safe areas are the arms, shoulders, neck, head, and the feet below the knees.
I like to make a “get acquainted” touch when I first meet a patient at the hospital, usually by putting my hand on their arm for a second. This gives the patient a chance to get used to me. It gives them a chance to object -- with words, rarely, but more often with a kind of flinching that can be quite subtle. It’s hardly ever happened to me, but if that does happen, I back off a few feet, and give the patient some space, and begin to talk instead.
If I have the time, but often enough I’m dealing with a necessity and must act fairly quickly. I still go through an approach procedure, even if it’s very compressed in time. “Hello, I’m Fred, I’m the Nursing Assistant and I’m going to help you move into a more comfortable position so that you can eat your dinner.” Then I come closer, but a hand on their shoulder or arm, pause for a moment to see that it’s okay, and then go ahead and prop them up or help them move to a chair.
I sometimes deal with cranky, irritable, delusional, and violent people. I get hit, scratched, bitten. One time an older patient, a stroke victim, threatened to throw a hot cup of coffee in my face -- that was a little scary, but usually it’s not scary, just very unpleasant. I really don’t like it when patients act like this. It hurts my feelings, and it feels just as bad if I see one of the other nurses get treated this way -- but it’s been a part of nursing for a long time. Very sick people are simply not responsible for their behavior -- they are sometimes very frightened and in pain -- who could blame them?
Nurses ¬never respond to a disruptive patient with an attitude of “getting even.” If you can’t literally “take it on the chin” with a smile, then you should not be in nursing. Which is to say that the patient can touch you in a bad way, but you must always touch them in a good way?
This has never been a problem for me, but I always monitor my emotional balance. I strive to be sympathetic and yet professionally detached. Some patients are more fun to be with than others. It’s all right to like someone, but within a fairly narrow margin. You still owe the very best of care to those patients who are not exactly your cup of tea.
Consider Mr. Jorgenson in Room Three. He is getting to be a pretty unhappy fellow. He keeps yelling, “Where’s my shoes? This is a prison. I’m leaving.”
But he can’t leave. He’s too sick, and if he tries to get out of bed, he’s going to fall down and hurt himself. His desire to leave the hospital is rational, so the nurse can agree with that, but we cannot, ever, let a patient hurt themselves or someone else. So, a dialog begins with Mr. Jorgenson, and it might go on for hours. “Mr. Jorgenson, I understand how you feel. Of course you want to go home, but you’re too sick to get out of bed. You really need to be in the hospital right now. We’re going to get you better and get you out of her as soon as we can…”
Back to touching. The private part of the body is everything between the shoulders and the knees. We do not go here without the patient’s permission. Even if the patient is asleep, unconscious, or delusional, we always announce verbally our intentions. “I need to check your brief, Mr. Jorgenson. It might be time for a change.” The patient then has the opportunity to refuse permission.
Touching in this area is intimate. I think that “intimate” is the right word. It’s not sex, it’s not love, it’s not even friendship -- it’s health care, it’s what we have to do when we have to do it, and we’re good at it. And you will be good at it too, with practice and more experience.
I continuously verbalize as I’m working. “Yes, it looks wet. I’m going to change your brief and clean you up a bit....This cloth might feel a little cool...I’m going to turn you over on your side for just a bit...” --all said in that calm, matter-of-fact tone of voice which the nurses are so good at using. You will get good at it too.
This is not the time for “visiting” or being friendly or sociable, and, please, no jokes. Curiosity of a professional nature is good because that’s how we learn. We work with human bodies, which are very interesting. They come in all sizes and shapes. And every part has a name -- and we only use the professional names. You will learn them and use them.
When you’re learning to do this work on the private parts of the body, watch your own thoughts and feelings -- if you’re too nervous, if you have inappropriate or unprofessional thoughts and feelings that persist and do not go away -- then, seriously, maybe you shouldn’t be in nursing. You’ll be doing yourself, the patients, and the whole world a big favor, if you are completely honest with yourself. No blame, just look for some other kind of work.
But you’ll probably do just fine.
Then, when the procedure is finished, the brief is changed, and the covers are back on, we can go back to being sociable and talk about the baseball game or any other thing.
Generally, an older patient, or one who has been sick for a long time, is very used to being handled. This is where the beginner gets experience and where the nursing staff will assign you. If you are a little nervous or tentative, the older patients either won’t notice or won’t mind.
Just take a deep breath, pause for a moment, and do it.

More Bonus Stuff

FARM NEWS from Fred Owens
Man dies in torch fire accident on farm
 ELTOPIA, Wash. (AP) -- A man was killed in an accident on a farm near Eltopia.
 The Franklin County sheriff's office says 75-year-old Everett D. Monk was cutting scrap metal in a field with a torch Saturday when his clothes caught fire. The Tri-City Herald reports he apparently died of burns.
 A friend found the body.
 That was the news story. Just those few words. It was in the paper last year, but I kept this file because I wanted to think about this man, 75-years-old, and his name was Everett D. Monk.
 I thought of calling his people in Eltopia to find out about his life, but I didn't need to do that. I found I could read his whole life story from this news item.
 He was out in the field cutting scrap metal with his torch in early December. It was cold out there in the sage brush country. This was in eastern Washington, with low hills and no trees -- just wheat fields lying fallow in the winter sun.
 This is where you could research it -- you can find things on the Internet. You could find what the weather was like in Eltopia on the day that Everett Monk died. But it was almost surely sunny and cold -- that's the typical winter weather, and it's good working weather.
 Everett Monk was 75, but he didn't want to sit around the house. He had been a working man all his life. He grew up on a farm and started doing serious chores every day since he was ten years old. Starting work at the age of ten, driving the pickup around the ranch and handling tools.
 So he worked every day for 65 years, until December of last year, and he wasn't going to just sit around in his easy chair on that last day. He just wasn't used to that.
Instead he got dressed and went out. There was a "bone yard" -- a pile of rusted out implements and machinery -- but it was a good hundred yards from the house.
 The bone yard was a little bit out of sight, and his family was gone to town. There's not that much to do in December on a farm. That's when you have the time to work on some projects -- like making modifications on a piece of farm equipment.
You can't just buy a hay baler and use it, but you need to adapt it to the special conditions of your own piece of land.
Everett Monk knew how to do that, and his welding tools were in the back of his pickup that cold and windy day.
I'm not sure about that -- was the wind blowing? Or was it calm?
Because he began cutting the scrap metal and working in a careful way.
Then the accident happened. Maybe it was calm and then, all of a sudden, the wind picked up, and blew a spark from the torch to the sleeve of his jacket, and he may have been distracted by a sudden noise over the hill, and the spark settled on his coat sleeve and began to burn, and the wind picked up and he was on fire.
He was on fire. And he was shocked. Did he drop and roll on the ground, which is what you are supposed to do if your clothes catch on fire?
I could call the sheriff or the friend who found his body and ask them -- if he just fell down, or if there was evidence that he dropped and rolled on the ground. But that doesn't really matter too much.
A friend found his body. Everett Monk was dead, after working on the farm all his life. He may have suffered in agony from his burns, or he may have gone quickly from the shock.
But it was over. Everett Monk, the farmer from Eltopia in eastern Washington, may he rest in peace.
He could have stayed in the house on that day in December. He could have just taken it easy, but he was used to working.
That's all. This is the End. Really.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital