Monday, April 23, 2018

Sanibel Island

April 23, 2018
Dear Friends,
I called my brother Tom. Thomas Joseph Owens, almost 76, a high school teacher in Los Angeles, lives in Sierra Madre east of Pasadena with his girl friend Marti.
His daughter's dog Aviv, was ten years old and had to be put down for an inoperable stomach blockage. Tom said Jordana was devastated, her being an only child, the dog was like her brother for ten years. Aviv was a good dog and gone now. That's why I called.
Tom's girl friend Marti works in administration at the University of Southern California. She commutes by train and bus to the campus. Her job ends at five, Tom said. His job ends at three but than he has tests to grade and lessons to plan.

I called at dinner time and heard Marti ask Tom if he preferred Thai curry soup or tomato pasta. Tom said tomato.
Well, the dog was the big news. Tom doesn't live with his daughter Jordana, but he is over at the house very often to walk the dog and do other things. So this goes way back. Jordana is 20 and studies dance, especially ballet.
I called because the dog died. I would have called anyway because Tom is easy to talk to. I like to ask him small questions.
Do Marti and you watch TV in the evening? She watches TV, I correct papers.
The TV doesn't bother you? No. I teach high school. I do not get distracted by noises.
I have often admired my brother's ability to command respect in a classroom of teenagers at a high school in Los Angeles. He has two natural advantages. He is tall, over six feet, and he has a natural baritone voice.
But it's mostly skill and experience, quelling the daily riot of teenagers. I personally am terrified about teenagers. I could not teach them. They would howl and whoop and laugh me out of the classroom. I would hide in the closet or throw erasers at them. Do they still have erasers and chalkboards?
Tom is almost 76. He does not care to talk about that. I say to him, you must be one of the oldest teachers still working in Los Angeles.....Pause ..... There are some older than me .... But you keep going ..... Yeah, I like teaching ..... Are you going for the state record, oldest teacher? ... No comment.
In 1952 our dad quit his job after twenty years. He worked  for J.G. Taylor Spink at the Sporting News  in St. Louis.Dad ran the Chicago office for Mr. Spink and sold the advertising. He was good at it. He held this job all through the depression. But in 1952, after twenty years, with a pretty smart wife and five children, he quit his job -- Dad would never admit to the truth -- whether he quit or might have been fired. It didn't matter because he wasn't going back. Instead he mortgaged the house and started his own publication, a fishing magazine. My dad did not take too many risks, but this was a big one. And he bet the ranch on it.
To cap it off, to celebrate confidence in his eventual success, he took us on a three-week vacation to Florida.
That was 1952, in the summer, in an almost new green Buick, all the windows rolled down, going down two-lane highways, no air-conditioning, just the hot wind, all the way down to Florida, Mom, Dad, Mary, Tom, Carolyn and Freddy -- six of us. Katy, the baby, was left with Aunt Mary and Uncle Earl.
Sanibel Island is off the Gulf Coast of Florida -- the first time I had ever seen the ocean, the sky was so blue and vast. We took the short boat ride to the island and discovered the entire beach covered with white, white sea shells, hundreds, millions. It was a paradise, we picket a large bucket of shells to take home and make us wonder.
Mom said the sea shells didn't smell good, but we loved them and we kept a basket of shells in the house for the rest of my childhood, a reminder of far away places.
That trip to Florida was our first family vacation. When we came back to Wilmette, our home in the Chicago area, my mom and dad published the first issue of their fishing magazine. It was a success and continued to be a success for many years.
Correction. My older brother Tom and my older sister Carolyn both insisted that we made this trip to Florida in April, not August. Carolyn said, I remember because we celebrated my eighth birthday on May 2 at a Howard Johnson's.
This is astounding. If we took this Florida vacation in April that means my parents took all four of us children out of school . They never did things like that -- except they did this one time.
Aviv was a good dog. This story seems to have wandered off to my brother's teaching career and our family vacation to Florida, but this story is really about a dog. Aviv, ten years old. He was a good dog and we will never forget him.

The News. Looks like Trump is winning. The Cohen files were supposed to bring him down. Democrats said this time we really got him, only we ain't really got him and he's still winning, grinning, playing golf and going to North Korea..... Now Trump might lose big in November, that could happen. He could lose the Congress, possibly.

The Democrats have Nancy Pelosi, Stormy Daniels and the Teenagers for Gun Control .... and the Starbucks protestors and California Governor Jerry Brown .... Kind of a grab bag of people .... And the mainstream media .... All determined to bring Trump down .... Can they do it?
What the Democrats lack is a leader like Barack Obama. Sure, they can put a million people on the street on short notice, but what good does that do? I expect the Democrats can take back the Congress in November, even without a leader, even without a unifying theme, but with an intensely negative enthusiasm for Trump. That is not an inspiring vision, but it will increase turnout, and a high turnout will beat the Republicans and take over the Congress in November.
This is just my take on the situation and I am usually wrong. Personally I am tired of Trump. He exhausts me. I would rather watch TV news about Prince William and Kate having their third child. Call me an escapist, but I need a break.
Let's finish with some good news, about wind farms in Denmark as reported in the NYTimes. Do you think they made this all up? I don't. I think they sent one or two reporters to the area and those reporters made a lot of phone calls, and toured the facilities and researched their findings on the Internet and wrote an accurate account to the best of their knowledge.
Have a good week,

Spring Subscription Drive. I would write Frog Hospital for free, but your subscription money warms my heart and keeps me from getting cranky. I do not support a cause or represent any group or report to any institution. Your contribution maintains my independence.
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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

kevin sunrise

April 15, 2018
Dear Friends,
I called Kevin Sunrise last week. He lives in LaConner. Sunrise is his real last name. We talk on the phone every few weeks. He doesn't have email or Internet, so we just talk or sometimes mail each other something.
It is a good thing to keep those old channels open and running -- meaning the phone call and the written letter. You don't need to throw out your smart phone and swear off Facebook, but you just need to shut the damn thing off now and then.
Even watching network TV is an old-fashioned experience. That's what we especially like about the Roseanne reboot  -- it's on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and everybody is watching it at the same time. You can stick your head out the window and look east and look west and imagine millions of Americans watching  Roseanne, sharing a common experience. I wouldn't want to go back to the old days with only three channels of network TV  -- the choice was too limited -- but we did have great shows like Mary Tyler Moore and All in the Family with Archie Bunker.
Kids today -- you can't get them on the phone, it has to be text. Maybe this will pass in a year or so, and some retro trend will bring back the phone call --- you know, the kind where you actually talk to someone.
I was in Zimbabwe in Africa in 1997, just when the world was making a transition from postal mail to email. I discovered that the postal service from Zimbabwe to anywhere in the US was quit efficient and reliable. You could mail a first-class one-ounce letter from Bulawayo to Boston for little more than the cost of a local stamp. The letter arrived in a week, sometimes ten days. Your American correspondent could write back and that would also take a week. This was actual communication. It worked very well. It just took longer..... much slower than a text.
But Zimbabwe at that time was coming around to email. I began writing my letters by hand, but taking them to an office called the Secretary Bird  -- so-called because secretary birds are a common heron-type of bird in Africa and they do have kind of a clerical look if you should ever be so lucky as to get to Africa and see a secretary bird in the field.
I took the handwritten letters to the Secretary Bird office. They re-typed the message on their email connection and charged me about one dollar for the service. This was the beginning of my email usage...... messages to my daughter Eva who was in her freshman year at Oberlin College in Ohio. I did not send email to my son Eugene because he was out of pocket at that time and fairly unreachable.
Eugene did have the phone number of our family attorney, Ed Burke of Framingham, Massachusetts. I had left some money with Ed as a retainer before I went to Africa. This was get out of jail money for my son, and get out of Africa money for me, just in case I needed a lawyer to act quickly.
I could tell stories about Ed Burke, stories that reflect well on his character, but another time for that, when I get around to writing the Boston Chronicles.

But I was talking about my phone call with Kevin Sunrise as opposed to using social media. It doesn't matter what method you use, fast or slow, the only thing that  matters is the effort you put into it. Communication requires effort, period. You have to reach the person. You have to connect and touch their hearts and touch their minds. Modern methods are good, I use social media all the time, but the universal law still applies -- communication requires effort.

West Texas, 1975.  I was thumbing a ride on this empty highway. Sheriff deputy stops and begins to question me. Then real sudden he throws me on the ground, puts his boot on my chest, draws his gun on me and says one false move and you're dead. So I didn't make a false move. He asked me a few more questions and he put his gun away and said I could get up. He goes back to his vehicle, makes a call on the radio, then walks back to me. He apologizes, said there had been a murder but I wasn't the guy who did it. I said OK.... It all happened so quick that I did not get scared. I was living a real cliche. He actually said one false move and you're dead.

I may have had some resemblance to the killer he was looking for. He said, after he questioned me, that they were looking for this guy and said maybe he was a little on edge for that reason. Not quite an apology but close enough for me. And the line about not making a false move. I had to think about that and I resolved to never make a false move anywhere or anytime. Make true moves as much as you can...... It was so empty out there. If I recall correctly, it was on Highway 90 just south of Van Horn in Culberson County, t
he sheriff and me and no one else for miles. No witnesses, except for the sky and the wind. After that, I figured West Texas was  a good place for me, just don't make any false moves.
Politics. The politics in Washington DC are too nasty. The whole situation makes me nervous and I have no constructive words..... The gardening work I do is constructive however. If we keep doing those good things and don't make any false moves, that is our best choice.

Spring Subscription Drive. I would write Frog Hospital for free, but your subscription money warms my heart and keeps me from getting cranky. I do not support a cause or represent any group or report to any institution. Your contribution maintains my independence.
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

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Dear Friends

April 3, 2018
Dear Friends,
This is Frog Hospital, but I am tinkering with the format right now, so today I address you as Dear Friends.
I am fortunate to have a wide variety of friends throughout the country. I have friends right here in Santa Barbara. Yesterday I had a stimulating conversation with Hugh Kelly. Hugh is our guiding spirit at the Mesa Harmony Garden. He is often present and usually engaged in some productive task. Someone left a half-dozen Bachelor Buttons in four-inch pots, to share with anybody who wanted one. Hugh encouraged me to take one because this was Crop Swap Day at the Mesa Garden.
Bachelor, bachelor, I mused to Hugh, it's an interesting word. My Uncle Ralph was a bachelor. Never married. He lived less than a mile from our house and he used to pop in for a quick visit. My dog loved Uncle Ralph. My dog's name was Mack and he used to squilp for joy when Uncle Ralph opened the front door and peeked his head in. Being a relative, he didn't knock.
But he was a bachelor. He lived with his sisters, my Aunt Carolyn and Aunt Tessie. My two aunts were spinsters and never married.
How extraordinary, Hugh exclaimed, never married, no children. The three of them formed a household. Actually Carolyn and Tessie and Ralph never left home. They took care of my Granpa and Granma for all their years.
Granma died in 1955 when I was nine. Granpa died in 1958 when he was 94. He used to chew tobacco, being the only person I knew who did that.
But back to the words. We don't say bachelor and spinster anymore. Bachelor acquired the highly inaccurate flavor of some gay blade out on the town -- hardly befitting of my Uncle Ralph who worked as a milk man for Glenora Farms Dairy in Evanston, Illinois -- a close by suburb of Chicago, just to give this account a setting.
Ralph was a bachelor and he lived quite modestly. My dog loved him and most other people did too.
Spinster acquired a negative flavor -- that of a dried-up unwanted lonely woman who pined for love and sat quietly in a dimly lit room.
My Aunt Tessie and Aunt Carolyn were hardly like that, especially Tessie. They went out on the town to concerts and museums and took vacations together in the summer. They seemed to have a fair amount of fun without the bother of seeking a man's company.
They did however look after Uncle Ralph to some degree. I am not aware of of their division of labor, but I expect he kept the yard and the garage, and they kept the kitchen.
Not having children under foot, they could afford to buy cute little ceramic figurines and perch them on the coffee table in the living room.
We visited often and no running and jumping around. Good manners. But the aunts weren't old stuffy things. They wore nicely floral perfume and they scolded us in the most generous manner. I actually wanted to be a gentleman when I grew up under their tutelage.
Anyway, I told Hugh, I thought that was normal. I thought everybody had old maid aunts. But it was just at our house and it was like having two extra moms.
Now we don't say bachelor or spinster. we say single. Single is a word without any flavor. It's accurate, but no more than that.  The language is impoverished.

Well, dear reader, I think that is enough for today. We can hear more about Uncle Ralph another time. And we can hear more about current affairs -- the culture and the politics  -- but now I am only tinkering with the format. And it might look different.
Thank you,


Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

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

Sunday, March 25, 2018

We Live in a Ruthless World

By Fred Owens
We Live in a Ruthless World

We live in a ruthless world. We need Ruth to come back and make everything nice again.
Ha Ha --- a serious week so we could use a laugh

High School
I had a hard time in high school but I never got shot at, so I need to keep the perspective. The kids that marched and spoke yesterday were right to do so. They had a justification  -- a failure of the adults to protect younger folks.
"We are not safe."  That's the truth. That's a fact. And if people aren't looking after your safety you are best to do it yourself and speak up.
My brother teaches public high school in Los Angeles. He was at the march. "I didn't see any of my students, but there were hundreds of thousands of young people there, so some of my students might have been there."
My brother supports the effort. He spends most of his working day in the company of teenagers. He likes them and he gets along well with them. Sometimes they even listen to him.
A Story about Teen Life that seems Relevant to me
When I went to high school, 1960-1964, there was no possibility or thought of violence. Inconceivable. It was an all boys Catholic school.  Generous doses of prayer and corporal punishment kept the student body in line. To put it plainly we were afraid of the Jesuits in their black cossacks and swinging, sanctified fists. But nobody got killed. 
Years later when I had my own teenagers they went to public high school in Newton, Massachusetts -- not in a regime of prayer and corporal punishment. Amazingly, they still learned a lot and nobody got killed. This was 1991-1995.
Something happened since then and schools are no longer safe places for children. If we adults cannot ensure their safety, then we are not entitled to their respect. That's how it works.
One More Story
My Dad grew up in St. Louis, born in 1904. They were very poor -- his widowed mom and her five children. My Dad was the second oldest of these five and he had to leave school after only the 8th grade and take on a full-time job  -- to feed his family, he gave his pay to his mother.
My Dad didn't get to be a teenager. At age fourteen he became a man, because he had to become a man, because the adults in his life were not able to provide for him and his brother and three sisters.
So a kid can grow up in a hurry if he has to. Those kids in the high school in Florida had to grow up in a hurry too.
Let's listen to what they have to say.

When I Die... My story with this title about the passing of Stephen Hawking was taken up for the Op-Ed section of the Santa Barbara News-Press in Sunday's paper. They knew it was a good piece and worth a broader audience.
Gardening. It rained all last week, so there was no gardening work for me. But this week I am busy with seven customers and lots of weeds growing now, gotta get cracking first thing Monday morning.
Subscriptions. I would write Frog Hospital for free. The only reason I ask for subscription funds is because I need the money. I make $500 a month and more doing the garden work but it is hard work and I am getting too old for that. So my life plan is  to diminish the garden work and increase the writing income. You can help by pitching in.

 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

Monday, March 19, 2018

When I Die....

By Fred Owens
When I Die...
When I die I'm going where Stephen Hawking went when he died.
I'm sure of that. I'm not sure where Stephen Hawking went when he died, but I'm going there too.
Hawking kept God out of his masterpiece of theoretical physics. There was simply no time for theological speculation. Religion encourages fuzzy thinking. You pick up the book, you read the book, and it's all explained. There is no need to figure it out yourself.
All of cosmology is explained in the first verse of the Bible. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Done. That's all you need. All I need. I have other problems beside a need to ponder the origins of the universe. Like today, because of my gardening work, I am figuring out how to transplant and revitalize a woody, old hydrangea that blooms, but poorly, next to the mailbox at the Child's Play Pre-School on San Andres St. in Santa Barbara.
I felt a rosy cosmic glow when Hawking died. A comet swooped down from the heavens and picked him up for a wild ride. I didn't just imagine that. It's what happened.
You don't need to believe in God to get into heaven. This is a little known fact. That's where Hawking went, to heaven, I think. I'm really not sure about these things. Maybe there's an especially lovely place for atheistic physicists who are kind to cats.
I was taught about heaven in Catholic grade school. It was somewhere up in the sky, on puffy white clouds. I was not inspired. It didn't seem like any fun.
I gave up any thought of heaven when I got older. The only reward for being good is that it makes you feel good, but you don't rack up any credit for your good deeds, not in this world.
Ten years ago I came up with a renewed vision of heaven that had some appeal. Heaven is a place just like earth only less aggravating. This was heaven as designed by Fred Owens, because I like it here. I would rather live on earth than any place that I can imagine, so how could it be a reward if I had to leave. Die, yes, that can't be avoided, But leave, no, why leave? Earth is a  good place, although it can be aggravating.
That was the beauty of my vision of heaven. You still had to stand in line at the bank, but the line was shorter and the people in line were friendly. You still had to swat mosquitoes when you went camping, but not so many as to drive you crazy. You still got into arguments with friends and with foes, but the arguments were over consequential matters.
You still had suffering and death, but you had steadfast friends and family to get through it. You had meaning. It made sense. This earthly heaven was far better than the random cruelty in our lives, but it still hurt when you stubbed your toe.
That was my vision of the after life until earlier this week when Stephen Hawking died, when I decided that what I really, really want is to go wherever he went. And if he evaporated into nothing, then Me Too.
However that does not make me an atheist. God is too important to put aside -- for me, that is. Hawking could not permit God-thoughts to infiltrate his research.
But he was a scientist, I am a story teller. And this points out the weakness of science, which can explain almost everything, but cannot tell even the simplest story.
You gotta believe or there's no story. I spent most of January reading the Iliad, the ancient story of Achilles and the Trojan War. Achilles, the great warrior and hero of the story, was born of Thetis a Nymph of the Sea. She was a goddess who lived under the waves. Her father was Zeus who rattled thunderbolts from atop Mount Olympus.
That was real. Maybe not real to Stephen Hawking, but real to me.
I don't ponder the great theological questions, like if God exists and if He is good, why does He permit such great evil?
I don't spend time with that on my mind. I just don't know.
I salute Hawking's effort to find a scientific explanation for the origins of the universe. And he knew himself that his own life was a story. He was a legend in his time, if there is such a thing as time.
Send me your Manuscripts.
Send me your text files of memoirs and stories and poems. What are you writing? I want to see it. It might be very good. It might need a lot of work.
Two Frog Hospital readers sent me drafts of their memoirs. One was very good and only needed to be tightened up. The writer found my comments to be useful. The other text needs quite an overhaul, but I liked the story. The writer and I are discussing some kind of deal.
There will be a fee for this editorial review in the future, but right now it's free. I figure I need to get my chops before I start charging for the service.
But this could be fun......
take care,

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

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

Sunday, March 11, 2018


By Fred Owens
1968 was a terrible year. I don't even like to remember it. I've done a good job of forgetting, except I don't forget, it just got buried in some cranial crevice.

Memories are woken up by the call for Reunion after fifty years. The war, the assassinations and riots .... laughing frantically at the disaster. It was terrible.  But I did have the good sense to stay from the Chicago riots late that summer, when the cops and kids went at it during the Democratic convention. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, and those Chicago cops could tolerate carousing suburban youth, chasing us back home.
But when some of the anti-war protestors wanted to pick a fight with the cops, I just wasn't that crazy -- to go downtown and get in a cop's face and curse at him. Couldn't do it. I explained to my friends from out of town that it has nothing to do with the war. It's all about turf. Lincoln Park and the waterfront belong to the cops. The local boy scouts can camp overnight in the park, but you guys can't.
Or maybe it was just self-preservation. I didn't go to the demonstration because I didn't want to end up in the hospital with stitches and an angry story.
This was the class of 1968 now assembling for a reunion fifty years later. Like the Rolling Stones on their farewell tour we shall not pass this way again. Last chance. Last rodeo.
It has to be about forgiveness. I didn't mean it, I was wrong. I wasn't grateful. Things didn't work out the way I had hoped. The reality of life after school crushed me.
I told this to Virginia Smith. She's from Long Island. She lives in Toronto and might drop by the Reunion even though she is not in our class. We called her Ginny back then, but she prefers Virginia now.
She told me by email that I ought not get worked up about any of this. I ought not take it seriously. Just come to Toronto and hang out with some other old folks and talk about grandchildren and hip surgery, take walks, tell old stories, have some laughs. Nobody cares.
The campus will be beautiful and quiet in early June. The custodial staff takes pride in the flower beds. We can sit on the grass and on the benches.
Father Iversen taught us history freshman year. He was harmless. Mr. DiIanni taught us philosophy. He was tormented. He said he had read the Critique of Pure Reason by Immanual Kant three times and he still didn't understand it. I felt sorry for him. Fr. Madden taught English at 9 a.m. I fell asleep during his lectures and got Cs and Ds.
Nobody took attendance, so I skipped most of the lectures, but I read the material, took the tests, wrote the essays and got good grades. Made friends, partied, had girl friends, stayed up late.

It was nearly guilt-free going to college in Canada during the Vietnam war years. There was no conflict. Not just the students , but all the teachers, and bus drivers  -- everybody in Canada said it was a stupid war and to stay out of it. Canadian students didn't go home and argue with their parents about the war in Vietnam. No draft for them, no body count.
As an American I was against the war. Here we were at college drinking beer and chasing girls and we got exempted but the farm boys got drafted and killed. Too strange. It wasn't a national emergency...... this is such an old argument from fifty years ago. I would rather forget the whole thing.
By the time I was a senior I had read quite a few books. For some reason I now recall some authors not worth a second glance, but at the time I read and admired -- Norman O. Brown, Herbert Marcuse and Oswald Spengler. I poured over them with intensity. I finally realized they were bad writers with nothing to say. This is how we form literary judgment, by reading widely and having the confidence to form an opinion.
I read the Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. It was so romantic and so exotic. I am embarrassed to say how much I dreamed on it.
Our senior year we lived a few blocks from campus at 55 St. Nicholas Street, in a decrepit red brick three-story apartment building.
Tom Orent and I and George Massey and Richard Smith occupied the second floor. Upstairs lived Paul Schulte, Jim Gardella and Brian Fredericks.  We were a merry crew. I was the instigator. They were the caution . It was wild times with the war in the background on the TV. Enough about that.
This was St. Michael's College, a Catholic school run by the Basilian Fathers and a part of the public University of Toronto.
A good school for all that. I am so thankful I got to spend my younger years there. That school experience gave me a reserve of quiet joy when things got tough later in life, when I was lonely and broke or just adrift.
But I don't understand the Critique of Pure Reason.
Marshall McLuhan gave a lecture on the Wasteland in the Elmsley Lounge one year. This great man was talking but it was the free sherry that got everybody to show up. It was the last time the college ever served sherry like that, too many drunk undergraduates. McLuhan didn't mind. Not that he liked us. He didn't. He just didn't care how much we drank. What he said was some people get the Wasteland and some people don't. Don't worry about it.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

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

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