Thursday, December 29, 2016

Pianos, Fevers, Franz klammer, Debbie Reynolds, and Carrie Fisher

Image result for kawai gx 2 satin oak
This is the best picture I could find online, but it doesn't do the instrument justice. The Kawai satin oak is a lovely finish if you want natural wood without gloss, and the sound is great considering the price. My mom's is a bit darker and has  more red in the wood.
Related image
one of Elton John's flashy Yamahas
Image result for steinway
Steinway = pure quality

Image result for boston grand
Boston gives a consumer Steinway-like quality at a more affordable price.

If there's only one day for it, I will ski rather than snowboard. a person does not travel all the way to the land of Franz Klammer to snowboard. I haven't skied since my leg was broken when I was fifteen. I'm a bit nervous, especially if the slopes are crowded, but I will be cautious and give the right-of-way to anyone who wants it. It's still possible to fall and get hurt, but I'm careful.

Claudia's parents have a Bosendorfer piano. I don't get the hype where bosendorfer pianos are concerned. They're damned expensive for one thing. At the upper end, Steinways are as expensive, but I don't think you can get a new Bosendorfer grand of any kind in the U.S. (they may be a bit more reasonable here nearer where they're made) for under $70,000.  They're supposed to be so much more nuanced than Steinways where delicate passages are concerned. I can play delicate passages with the best of them, but, all things considered, I think my mom's Boston or even my Kawai gives at least as nice a sound, if not nicer,  to delicate passages.

Claudia has a 9-foot Steinway with an ebony satin finish. I personally prefer the high gloss finish, but steinway hasn't made their ebonies with high gloss finishes for all that long. Regardless, it has a very nice sound. Claudia lets me play it as much as I want, since I can't do much of anything else.

Some people in the U.S. buy Yamaha grands and honestly delude themselves into thinking they're getting Steinway-quality pianos. If you want a grand and cannot afford a Steinway, there is nothing wrong with buying a Yamaha, but a person is delusional who believes he or she is getting Steinway quality  from his or her Yamaha piano. For that matter, Kawai is superior to Yamaha in the opinions of far more people than just myeslf. Kawai doesn't get quite the hype Yamaha does because it doesn't do custom funky-colored pianos for people such as Elton John or Liberace. (Actually, I think it was Baldwin with whom Liberace had the deal.) Kawai does what it does very well. If a person wants a Kawai, he or she must select from the models Kawai makes. (Perhaps Kawai makes secret deals with artists to glam up pianos by painting nude bodies on them or whatever, but if such is the case, it is a well-kept secret.)

The whole Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds thing was a bit eerie, though perhaps understandable. There can't be anything much more difficult and stressful for a parent than watching his or her child die and planning the funeral. It's not much of a stretch to see how that sort of thing could send an older person to a fatal stroke. I wish the deaths had happened in the reverse order so that Debbie Reynolds did not have to be aware of her daughter's death. it has to be easier for an adult child to bury a parent, especially once the parent has reached at least middle age,  than the reverse.

I'm still fighting this bugger of an illness but my temp is only 102 now. I'll ski as soon as my temp has been no higher than 98.6 for 24 hours.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Terrible Day

This is especially not a good day and I don't foresee anything improving in the foreseeable future.

Image result for awkward christmas photos
I'm not sure why this is here, but I found it and decided it was worthy of sharing. I may add more photos if I find them and they are worthy of sharing.

From Illness to Snowboarding in a Few Short Days

Image result for snowmobiling in Tyrol
I didn't take my cell phone. A stock photo will need to suffice.

    Today I eased my way from the world of convalescence back to the real world with a snowmobiling excursion. The terrain here is filled with an abundance of snow, and my hosts have cutting edge equipment enabling themselves and their guests to take advantage of nature's bounty. Claudia, our former exchange student, whom I initially knew as my introduction to all things wild, dangerous, and fun when my parents were out of direct line of sight and ear-shot, though now a respectable and responsible oncologist, wife, and mother of two, had very kindly pre-purchased winter attire for me so that I wouldn't be any colder than was absolutely necessary. A person will inevitably feel the cold outside in this glacial environment, but the proper clothing in layers creates the difference between standing stiffly as though one is as frozen as the poles, trees, and whatever other projectiles spring vertically through the snow and actually becoming one of those frozen vertical projectiles. Claudia did well; the drafting of my epitaph can hold off at least for the immediate future.

     Snowmobiling, for one who has never undertaken it, is probably a great deal like you would imagine it to be.  It's not entirely unlike riding a motorcycle except that the very basics are easier to master, and the very basic mishaps are less catastrophic than they would be if experienced on a motorcycle. Falling into snow won't cause quite the level of abrasions,contusions, and worse than will falling and skidding along the pavement or gravel of a road. This is not to imply that snowmobiling is an inherently safe activity, but, rather, to suggest that if a person does not consider himself or herself to be the Evel Knievel of snowmobiling on his or her initial ride and conduct himself or herself accordingly, even in the scenario of a nasty spill, one  will most likely walk away from it. Furthermore, it's easier in basic situations to remain upright and not have the nasty spill in the first place on a snowmobile as opposed to on a motorcycle.

     The snowmobiles I rode today were well-maintained, and I didn't experience mechanical failures.  I was lucky, if the stories told by others around me can be counted as reliable. Snowmobile malfunction is apparently the rule rather than exception. Traveling alone by snowmobile  through lightly traveled terrain is virtually asking for an account of one's story to be retold in Reader's Digest (if the periodical still exists anywhere other than in the offices of doctors who re-stock their magazines once every decade or two; does anyone know if Reader's Digest is still in print?). My hosts pride themselves on buying only the most reliable of snowmobile makes and models, and have them maintained regularly as well.

    Some motorcycle riders refuse to wear helmets despite all the evidence pointing to the efficacy of helmets in motorcycle riding. These people have a nickname: organ donors. Snowmobilers who refuse to wear helmets are risking almost -- though not quite -- an equally grim fate. Just once, take a brief ride down a straight path without a helmet to feel the force of arctic winds against one's face purely for the thrill of it. If you've done it once, you've done it a thousand times. Then put on a helmet and keep it on as long as you ride. Someone very close to you will eventually be glad that you did put your helmet back on if you intend to make snowmobiling a habit.

    I am by nature a very cautious person. With all the other snowmobiling novices, Claudia's father was incessantly cautioning them. He left me alone. I'm the person who looks four times before crossing a street and who never goes through a yellow light. I was not harassed. 

    We were in an area not-well-traveled, but there were enough of us and we stayed close enough to our home base that the off-the-beaten-path nature of our trails worked to our advantage. It was the perfect environment under which to perfect our previously non-existent skills and to learn the basic workings of the equipment. Being there must have been non-stimulating to the point of boredom for our hosts, but they were good sports. Franz, Claudia's father, was happy with the outcome by the end of the day because neither snowmobiles nor snowmobilers had been damaged in the process of introducing us to the equipment and to the sport. It was difficult for my brothers (and probably a few of the other young males as well) to follow the guidelines of Franz and the others offering direction, but they (my brothers, anyway) were told by my parents that if they wanted to be wild and stupid with snowmobiles, they would need to rent the machines elsewhere and assume their own financial responsibility for them. (Mom and dad made no such warnings to me. My level of caution in everything I do is well-known and documented.) Claudia's younger brother indicated, though, that tomorrow (now today) we, the "adolescents" of the group, would venture a bit further away from the geriatric group and would have a bit more fun with the machines. 

    Once the morning chill lifts, we'll take the snowmobiles out for more adventurous rides without the extreme supervision of yesterday. we'll spend the day touring the area. Somewhere along the trail we'll find a place for lunch, and we won't return until the sun has set.  My muscles and bones will ache before we return, but it's a price I'm more than willing to pay. 

    Today will be our final major snowmobile excursion, as future days -- weather permitting -- are reserved for snowboarding and skiing. I cannot recall if I told anyone in advance of the trip that I dreaded traveling here because of the boredom factor, but if I said such a thing, I was obviously speaking out of sheer ignorance.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas in Austria: when the Blue-Bloods Meet up with the Irish-French-Canadian-Cuban Hillbilly White Trash Segment of Society (and we're just guessing on specific ethnicity because we haven't yet received our results from, but we're right on the mark where the White Trash Hillbilly part is concerned)

None of these pictures

have anything to do

with my family

     After being awakened by younger children who wanted to tear into presents. (Claudia's family's tradition is for Claudia's kids and all of their cousins to spend Christmas Eve overnight at Claudia's parents' home and to wake up at unGodly early hour to begin devouring presents and every bit of sugar they can cram into their mouths for the next eighteen hours or so; if I'd known of this tradition earlier, I could have conveniently arranged to spend the night elsewhere -- anywhere but here; even the city's jail would have been an improvement -- but hindsight is typically 20/10.) Those spending the night elsewhere felt obligated by peer pressure to be transported by their hosts to Claudia's parents' home as soon as the phone call came just before 4:30 alerting the parents that their children were awake. Once the group reached the big house en masse, I told my approximate contemporaries that I was going back to sleep and that if they were still in possession of functioning brains, they should find beds wherever they could. Aunt Aletha was a bit taken aback, but what could she really do as everyone under thirty ransacked her house in search of unoccupied beds? 

     Matthew and Josh crashed on the beds in the room where my parents had been sleeping. Alyssa bunked with me. Tim took his parents' room. Claudia's nephews took their grandparents' rooms and a few other hideaways they knew about. Scott and Jillian's kids were still asleep, and they (Scott and Jillian) weren't stupid enough to wake them (Andrew and Baby Camille) at 4:30 a.m. and have them be cranky all day, so Scott and Jillian slept along with their kids until a more civil hour. Aunt Aletha was at first discombobulated about the gathering being incomplete, but then concluded that overly tired adolescents rarely have a positive impact on any group and that we should be allowed to sleep. Those of us to whom she referred as "adolescents" were, in descending order of age, 33, 29, 27, 26, 25, 25, 24, 23, 22, 22, and 21. That would seem to be a major stretch of the borders defining either adolescents or adolescence, but then, what do I know? I haven't even graduated form medical school yet. And, for that matter, what do I care about how Aunt Aletha delineates adolescence? As long as I'm allowed to decide for myself when to sleep and when to get up during my vacation times, I am a happy camper. Call me a preadolescent, a toddler, or even an octogenarian as long as you let me sleep until I'm ready to get out of bed.

Most of us made it out of bed before 10:00 a.m.  We opened real presents from the Austrians, and they opened real presents from us. Uncle Jerry, always practical, had decided that it would be stupid for the Americans to lug presents across the Atlantic, only to have to lug them back to California, paying overweight baggage fees each way, or paying to ship the presents. Instead, Uncle Jerry said, we should take pictures on our cell phones of the gifts and then send the pictures on Christmas morning. 

This might have worked had the people to whom my Uncle Jerry made the suggestion been slightly less deranged. I don't think anyone even collaborated on the picture project -- everyone here possesses a sufficiently borderline-psychotic personality to have come up with it on their own --but I sent Matthew a picture of a very homely fourteen-year-old girl holding a sign that said "I'm yours for one night." He sent me a picture of a crate of disposable douches (It's a long story based on a theft my Uncle Mahonri made and was caught and charged for in the Utah Valley).  My Aunt Jillian didn't bother with pictures. She just handed out condoms to everyone. Her husband, Scott, gave out certificates for free prostate or pelvic exams. I sent a picture of a framed picture of Charles Manson to my cousin/brother Josh. To my friend Alyssa, who is my Uncle Scott's sister's daughter, I sent a copy of Charles Manson's prison address. I included a copy of Scott Peterson's prison addy as well, as he's quite a bit better looking than Manson.  My parents got a photo pf an updated version of The Joy of Sex -- the original edition, dated 1974 give or take a decade, is in their library at home. (There's a long story related to me and their copy of The Joy of Sex. I think it's in this blog somewhere, but I may share it again sometime if I feel inspired.) I sent Aunt Jillian a copy of a gift certificate for a boob job at a swanky practice in Beverly Hills. I had my Uncle Steve write out a prescription for Viagra for my dad just long enough for me to photograph it. He tore it up immediately after I snapped the picture. I took a picture of a picture of the White House for my Uncle Jerry. Uncle Jerry cannot legally hold the office of President of the United States because he was born in Cuba, but he can buy it when Trump puts it up for sale. When that happens, I will help him. I'll contribute anywhere between one dollar and ten-thousand dollars to his effort, depending upon my financial status at the time the White House becomes available for sale. My available contribution is likely to be closer to a dollar than to ten thousand dollars, but that's just between you and me.

A large buffet table of breakfast foods including but not limited to fruits, meats, and pastries, was available, and guests were encouraged to eat heartily. I took and ate enough food to keep aunt Aletha from crying anorexia. It was my gift to her.

I won't waste any more of your time sharing stories about the lame gifts my family pretended to give each other or even the actual gifts that will in at least some instances will be given. That's not what Christmas is about in my family.

In my extended family, Christmas is about who defeats whom in the medical edition of a trivia game similar to trivial pursuit.  It's about who eats the most and who becomes the most inebriated. It's about which baby steals all the other babies' toys. It's about the Oakland Raiders losing. It's about how much of a wenis Derek Carr is because the fibula is hardly even a weight-bearing bone. It's about taking turns shooting apples off the kids' heads using plastic arrows. (Aunt Aletha was horrified even though we offered the kids the option of wearing sunglasses and only berated them mildly if they took us up on the offer.)  It's about who can come up with the most obnoxious prayer at dinner time. It's about just how farcical the annual nativity pageant can be made to be, especially when juxtaposed with what is happening on the other side of the world simultaneously as told by the Book of Mormon. It gets even worse when two of Aunt Aletha's children and two of her grandchildren want to lip-sync a song from the sound track of The Book of Mormon, the musical. When it got to the part with the pool noodles, the woman turned pale and looked as though she might be in need of resuscitation, which would have been OK because there were more than ten doctors in the house, not counting the four medical school students.

     I'm afraid we may have given Aunt Aletha a somewhat distorted view of just how generally crass, irreverent, and crude Americans are. I say "somewhat" because Americans really are, except for the fundies, at least a bit crass, irreverent, and crude. and that's the good side of the Americans. The fundies, in all their holier-than-thou splendour, are much harder to take than are the rest of us.

     To our credit, we did at least provide Aunt Aletha with a powerful choir to impress all of her neighbors when we went out caroling. I use the term "we" ever so loosely here, as I'm not a good singer and did very little to contribute to the overall sound of the group. I'm the queen of on-key-yet-astonishingly-lousy singing. You don't want me in your choir unless you have no one else who can sing on-key without an anchor.

     The visit still has another week or so to go, during which we will either redeem ourselves or dig even more deeply into the hole of depravity.  We've invited Aunt Aletha and her family to spend Christmas with us next year or the following year -- whichever year works out better for them.  Will they show up, or will Aunt Aletha conclude that her progeny have already been so corrupted by our presence on her own turf that God only knows what might happen if they're allowed to run loose on our native soil? 

     Only time will tell.

 . . .nuclear OR extended . . .
I'm including them only to show
that there are people out there even worse than we are

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and Other Miscellaneous Bullshit

                                        I do not own this video.

Despite a few physical limitations getting in the way of my frivolity, I am managing to have a bit of it [of frivolity, that its] despite all the admonitions to the contrary being directed at me almost every time I even  think doing anything remotely fun.

I've reserve the best and most exciting of the fun for when i'm  bit physically stronger. I'm trying to keep in mind that there re tons of people around me every day whose physical limitations cause mine to appear, by comparison, as physical strengths. Keeping this close to the forefront of my thoughts help me to feel gratitude for what is, in the grand scheme of all things related to health, a lifetime of good health, Most maladies I have faced have been minor. Those that weren't necessarily minor were ones I have defeated.

Tonight I overheard a  portion of a conversation between one of  our hosts, Aletha (my brother and I call her and her husband "aunt"and "uncle" even though they're not related to us because in our family, children -- even adults children -- do not call adults by their first names) and my parents. "Aunt" a=Aletha was suggesting as carefully as she could, as criticizing a person's parenting skills can easily lead to hurt to hurt, that my parents do not take as good care of me as they perhaps should.My mom responded that I'm now 22, and it is essentially up to me at this point to take car of myself. Aunt Aletha conceded this point to a degree. She said that when I' m healthy, I'm probably more than capable of caring form myself, but that when I am sick -- and that I seem to be sick more thn a person my age should be -- my parents need to step in and see that I am taken care of if i'm unable to make wise choices or to stand up to the medical school to ensure tht I m not forced to work more than is good and for me.My mom answered that as an adult, I have to learn at some point to manage my own affairs to stand up to those in direct charge of my schedules. Aunt Aletha suggested that while such may be the ideal, ideal don't really matter if students contract illnesses with permanent repercussions or, God forbid, even death. (Claudia, Altha's daugher, had a friend and roommate who contracted an upper respiratory infection during year three in medical school. An overly zealous supervising resident insisted that she work through it. One night at work he temperature spiked st 105. She was diagnosed with pneumonia, which turned out to be a virulent form. Someone had to pull the plug on her about three days later.) Since then, Aletha has been something of  helicopter parent on crack when it came to her kids and illnesses they contracted in medical school. Her intrusion probably would not have been tolerated had her husband not been relatively important  in the local medial school scene.  She's become a crusader of sorts.

My parents listened but didn't say much in response to her.  Truthfully, they've been somewhat "hands-off" in term of our  medical school careers, and that's mostly the way I would have it. i don't need my parents running interference for me. As far as when I'm genuinely sick and the school is expecting more than I can offer, I don't know whether or not they should be involved.  I'm sure i would find their interference embarrassing, but would it be a god thing? I don' know.

I've tried throughout this vacation to be sensible in terms of what I did and didn't. The others were snowmobiling today, I didn't participate even though it would have been lots of fun. I'm hoping the opportunity comes up again when I'm a bit stronger in a day or two. The same is true of skiing and snowboarding.I really want to participate, as how often does one get the opportunity to snowboard of ski in one of the truly premier wintersports  sites in the world? In the end, I'll do it whether i'm ready or not if the end of our vacation nears and I'm still dragging. Still, i'm hoping it does not come to that point.

In absence of the ability to participate in the fun and games available everywhere around me, I've tried to take advantage of some of the more spiritual aspects of the holiday n this region.  I've made no secret in recent months of my increasing disingenuous feelings toward organized religion. Being in Austria cannot change that.  Still, at this point, I'm inclined to believe, despite what some scholars are currently saying, that there really was a baby Jesus. it's a bit easier to focus on him when I'm a little closer, geographically speaking, to the places were he walked the earth, and, perhaps more importantly, where so much great music about him was written.  And regardless of a person's stance on the divinity or even of the existence of Jesus, without the Protestant Reformation, much of the music of J.S. Bach might never have been written. Without Bach, W.A.Mozart -- born just a figurative stone's throw from here--  might never have reached the stature to have compose and for his compositions to have been published and remembered to this day,

Perhaps my real religion is music as opposed to any organized theological structure.

And religion notwithstanding, Christmas is as good a time as any to show gratitude for the people in one's life.  I have a delightful if flawed nuclear and extended family. Numerous times many of these people have given what to me is the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of a friend: they have donated their blood for me. What more could  anyone ever ask of a friend?

Then there's dear, sweet Alyssa, who keeps logs burning in the fireplace in my bedroom so that I will stay warm. That, too, is the act of a true friend.

Matthew, my brother, functions as a friend and a brother. Without him I wouldn't be on this trip. He was willing to give it up if I were not included.

My friends from school are too numerous to mention, but a few I will. Sophronia, Kal Penn, Raoul, Raoul's older brother, Troy, Cool Guy and Raptor Jesus are too great not to mention. Every day one of them does something that makes life a bit more worth living.

My girlhood friends who are still friends will, I hope, always be with me. Megan just married my former boyfriend. it was obvious that they were right for each other, and he and I were clearly no longer an item, but she refused to date him even once without my OK.  She had the freedom to do what she wanted, but he valued our friendship too much to jeopardize it but dating my former boyfriend without an OK from me. That action speaks more loudly than any verbal expression of friendship she could offer.

Claire was my very close friend who is no longer here. I can't speak or write at depth about her yet. Maybe someday I will be able to do so. I miss you, Claire.

Meredith and Caitlyn, any list of  my friends would not be complete without you, who also date back to the days of my girlhood.

Tim, we dated for something like a week, but our friendship was and is strong enough to survive having dated. 

Becca, we've never met, but we have a special friendship that is more tightly intertwined than I would consider most of my face-to-face relationships.

Judge Ferrer, our friendship is difficult for me even to understand, much less to try to explain to anyone else. Suffice it to say that I'm really glad I can  count you as one of my friends.

At this point  shall make an abrupt and somewhat non sequitur turn.

Many of you know that I am a musician. Among my friends are musicians as well. One is much older than I and is actually a closer friend of my mom than of me, but still I consider her a friend of mine independent of her friendship with my mom. For the sake of protecting both the innocent and the guilty, let us call this friend Kristy.

Kristy is a pianist and a church musician. Her formal training as a musician was as a pianist and as a string player. As a church musician, she must sometimes play organ, which she does quite competently, though her strength is as a pianist. Because the organ is not her first (or even her second or third) instrument, she has to put in considerable time in practicing it, She can play any hymn without having first practiced it, but if she ants preludes or embellished anthems to should polished, she must practice them, and she does.

The church for which she works had a previous organist who moved onto bigger and better things. he was an organ major in university and  has a masters' and doctorate in organ performance. He was overqualified fr the position at the small church. 

Occasionally the previously organist comes back for  guest performances. Last night he came to play the prelude for the Christmas Eve service, and played the carols until it was time for him to leave for his service at his current job. My friend said his playing was spectacular, as it always is. My friend knows her organ playing is nowhere near as good as his is, and she's relatively comfortable with things the way they are 

Then she made the mistake of logging into facebook.  Several church members made separate posts expressing the joy at having a REAL  concert organist at the service, often going back to comment on their original posts, clarifying with remarks that  "JEFF was there" lest anyone make the mistake of confusing Kristy with  the concert organist to whom they referred,

My friend will get over this small indignity, and it's probably not the last time it will happen. Still, I wish people would stop and think about how their presumably intentionally harmless posts do cause hurt feelings. Non-musicians don't always stop to think about the difficulty of being even a lowly church musician -- about how the person is putting himself or herself on the line week after week for very little pay but with a great deal of exposure for criticism - real or imagined, and about how very hard it can be on a person's sense of self-worth. 

Some of you who are in positions to either make or ruin someone's day. Facebook postings, however harmless they may seem, can sting, and they may hurt people who usually don't deserve the sting of others' words.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fröhliche Weihnachten!

    Update: My brother said he wouldn't go to Austria if I didn't go, so my mother had no choice but to allow me on the trip. We were in first class so it was comfortable and I slept for the entire SF-to-Frankfurt portion. Someone brought me a wheelchair during our layover, which was barely long enough to find the next terminal. I don't remember the flight to Innsbruck.

     Our hosts are wealthy.  Claudia's father (Claudia was our foreign exchange student) was and is a doctor, but I know for a fact that being a doctor in and of itself doesn't equate with this kind of wealth here or elsewhere. There has to be additional source of income beyond what a doctor earns. Claudia and her husband are doctors. I haven't seen her house yet  (it's maybe a quarter-of-a-mile from here, but I haven't been out much) but I'm told it's smaller than this house but still large. 

     I'm not even sure how large this house is. I just know that there's a fireplace in my bedroom and that a maid checks on me every half hour or anytime I ring a bell. My brother said Claudia's mother wanted to hire a nurse but that my mom convinced her that with the number of doctors around it probably wasn't necessary. I counted the doctors in my head, which is fuzzy so my count may be off. With Jillian's husband, dad, and brothers, there are five. My dad makes it six. Uncle steve makes it seven. Claudia and her dad and husband and brother (who lives next door) make it an uneven eleven.

     They all went ice skating and are having dinner downstairs. They even took the babies. My dad and Scott know how to ice skate. Jillian is coordinated enough to pick up almost anything instantly. The rest of them (the Americans, anyway) probably sucked. They're having dinner downstairs. I'm eating broth and jello and bread, which is as much as I can tolerate. We're supposedly playing board games tonight. I will go downstairs and join them. I'll probably just fall asleep. I don't really care. 

     Neighbors will come carolling and doing all that Austrian traditional bullshit. Everyone goes on different nights because if everyone carolled on the same night, no one would be home to hear anyone else carol. Our night to go is tomorrow. They're practicing tonight. (I don't intend to waste my energy practicing.) They're very excited because Claudia has told them that we have actual singers among us. It would help if any of us spoke German. C'est la vie. Everyone who lives here speaks English anyway. Jillian taught Andrew to sing "Silent Night" in German. He already carries a tune really well even though he's only two. 

    The family went to the town's traditional Christmas Market and came back with all sorts or nonsense that will have to be mailed home. They ate like pigs and drank like fish, and the kiddies loved it because there was a carousel. They're taking me there tomorrow so I can at least see it.

    I have my window cracked just a bit event though it's frigid because there's a brass choir playing from a tower somewhere and I can hear it just a bit. 

     I don't know if I mentioned it, but it's really cold here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Should Families Be Forever Together?

                      how my mother imagines our family at gatherings

what our family is actually more like

     Unless something changes in the next seven hours or less, my family is going to Europe without me. I have a relapse of an illness I had a few years ago. It's very likely not contagious, but no one is taking any chances. The plans to go were made months ago, and they family and extended pseudo-family will go ahead with their plans.  There could be a change of plans that allows me to go, but at this point it's not looking that way.  I'm considering purchasing my own ticket and showing up anyway. I doubt that the family who is hosting us will throw me out in the street if I show up. I may have been one of the ones who was scheduled to be at a hotel anyway. I can afford a hotel room on my own. I'm not sure what exactly would be the point of traveling all the way to Austria at my own expense to spend the holidays by myself in a hotel room, but I may do it anyway. I'll be sure that it's a very nice hotel room. As long as I have enough medication to make me comfortable, it probably doesn't matter where I am.

     My cell phone is malfunctioning, or maybe it isn't. A person I used to text blocked me during a conference call and now I can't text the person at all. Maybe there are others I can no longer text as well and just haven't discovered it. I really don't know. It seems a small problem, and it is, but the timing could have been better. Being isolated right now does not make anything better.

     I may invite a friend to come along with me. I can afford to spring for the cost or an extra person. . Or maybe I should go somewhere totally different. Maybe I should go to Ireland or Catalonia. Or Iceland. Or The Ukraine. I need to make up my mind because there is not a great deal of time left. feel free to crime in with any suggestions, though responses are down these days, whether due to the occasional presence of a particular person or due to general boredom with me.

     My mother is being incredibly holier-than-thou about the whole matter. She says I brought the illness on myself. She says she said from the very beginning the med school was a bad idea for me because I am not sufficiently physically strong to withstand the demands medical school places upon a person's body. 

     I believe that even if what she says is 100% true, which I'm not conceding that it is, it wouldn't kill her to show the slightest degree of compassion about the situation. I'm fine with her taking the rest of the family off the continent to celebrate a holiday that is supposed to be all about family without 1/4 of the nuclear family, but would it kill her or any of the others to say that she or any of the others will miss me while they're off having fun without me? I think it wouldn't. She obviously thinks it would. So do the rest of them, apparently. 

     But it's OK, really, because my parents will have their favorite child with them.

This picture is obviously not me - it just represented how I felt at the particular moment I posted the blog - but it begs the question as to what sort of a sadistic person would photograph a child when she looked like this.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

White Trash Wedding (Sorry, Megan and Jared)

The babies in the wedding were even younger than these two. Someone should have thought to corral them similarly.

I was telling a friend a few moments ago that there is basically nothing I can do at this point to prepare for Christmas. What is ready is ready, and what is not ready by now will have to wait until my return trip from the Alps.

Much of my clothing I'll wear while touring the part of Europe I will inhabit has been sent there already and has already arrived. Everyone's medications have been sent, or prescriptions have been sent to be evaluated by local doctors and converted to the European equivalent if it's not something that can be sent there. My preparation has involved only tying up loose ends here and packing what I'll carry onto the plane with me. We'll be able to travel very lightly.

I really wish the pesky kidney stone had passed, but those things operate on their own timelines. It's not causing sufficient issues to warrant lithotripsy, so I have to ride it out. Should something get worse in the regard, first-rate medical care is available where I am going. Three of our hosts are MDs. They don't specialize in urology, but they can write prescriptions and can hook me up with the doctors I will need should I need them. Still, I'll hope that I do not.

The original plan was for us to leave tomorrow. The plan changed a couple of weeks ago, but my mom for some reason thought it was a good idea for us to labor under the illusion that the departure date was still Monday, December 19. then when we fund out at the last minute (fifteen minutes ago) that we had another day, it would be like a gift. I'm not sure it's exactly a gift, but it does allow both matthew and me an opportunity to socialize with some of our peers tomorrow night. my parents promise to make themselves scarce by hanging out at the nearby condo of friends. I'll believe that my dad has made himself scarce when I actually see it happen.

Last night my ex-paramour Jared married my longtime friend Megan (with my blessing if it matters to anyone).  Jared decided that it would be a splendid idea to have his two baby cousins - a seventeen-month-old girl and a twenty-six-month-old boy,  in the wedding as ring bearers. (He had included his cousins who were present. He had about ten flower girls, a handful of candle-lighters, including hos little brothers and sisters. Someone was a bell-ringer. I can't remember all the positions he came up with so that no one would be excluded, but the end result was more of a three-ring circus than a formal wedding. This was fine, as it was Jared's and Megan's wedding to conduct as they saw fit.

Still, if the ring bearers are going to be under the age of three, it might be wise to give them fake rings and to have someone else maintain control of the official jewelry. This didn't occur to Jared and Megan. about halfway through the ceremony, the 17-month-old, carrying Megan's ring on a pillow,  wandered away. She was halfway up the stairs to the balcony, which probably hadn't been cleaned since the last flood (the church was located somewhere in the winding Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which floods if the region receives an inch more than average precipitation) when her two-year-old brother noticed her and went after her. We all thought he would come back with her, but they both found something apparently more exciting up there than could be found at the main level of the sanctuary. When it was time to exchange rings, they were still occupied doing whatever it is babies do when they're unattended. Jared needed Megan's ring, so he took off to go get the kids I told him to stay and that I would chase them down. i found them dancing in the dust upstairs. I brushed them off the best I could. The two-year-old came willingly, but the baby had no interest in leaving the dust, so I carried her, getting dust all over my dress. She thought this was very funny and laughed hysterically all the way down the stairs and to the front of the sanctuary. The grandparents, all sitting in the pews, looked at me like, "What did you expect us to do about it?" I just shrugged and plopped the baby down in front of Jared and Megan and guided the two-year-old up there next to her.

We got through the wedding and moved further up the Delta to a riverboat on the Sacamento River for the reception. The reception was relatively elegant considering who was running it and who was attending. i had received as a birthday gift a book of country songs. It was delivered to my aunt's house. She was away at a rodeo when it arrived, and then I was in Canada, so we din't connect so that she could give it to me until yesterday. I made the mistake of setting it down momentarily. 

My dad picked the book up. He showed it to the bride's father, who is one of his drinking buddies. My dad has several friends with whom the only thing he has in common is a love of booze. Megan's father is one of such friends. Once the bride/groom first dance (to, of all things, "The Dance," a Garth Brooks song about a breakup), the father of the bride and bride's dance, the wedding party dance, and all that shit otherwise known as wedding protocol took place, Megan's dad and my dad decided they were the remainder of the night's entertainment. They picked one song after another out of the book and asked the band to play it, and they sang along loudly without the necessity of amplification. Megan's mom looked a bit embarrassed. My mom's been through similar events too many times to be embarrassed any longer by such behavior from my dad. The groom's family, even though they're Mormons, at least have senses of humor. The guests had to dance to "The Devil Went down to Georgia,' "Desperado," Achy Breaky Heart," "Smoky Mountain Rain," "Stand By Your Man," "Me and Bobby McGee, "Galveston,"  "Wichita Lineman," "Your Cheatin' Heart," and others. I was texting with the friend who sent me the book. He was offering other suggestions, which I gave to the inebriated performers. By this time my pseudouncle Scott had joined them. He can sing even if he's had a few too many, so his addition was definitely an improvement.

There were several other places on the riverboat that had pianos, and I wanted to try the book for myself, so I pried it from the hands of the groom's father. (My dad and scott knew most of the lyrics anyway. They just needed the book for song selection ideas. i told the bride's dad to use his cell phone for lyrics. my pseudouncle helped him find a site. I made a list of songs they could sing, including but not limited to "The Battle of New Orleans," "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," "Love Me Tender," "God Bless the U.S.A.," "On the Road Again," "All My Exes Live in Texas," "The Coward of the County," "The Gambler,"  and "Ring of Fire."  Most of the Mormon men had joined in by then.Scott said he'd take it from there if they got through all of those. 

I eventually escaped with my new music book. A few friends followed, glad to get away from the cacophony. I only played a few songs. By then I was ready to call it a day. I went back to watch the bridal couple make their exit, then left for my hotel room on the riverboat. I may have seen five minutes of some sitcom before conking out. 

Now I can sleep late tomorrow. A few friends will show up mid-afternoon. i'm a lousy hostess, so if I grow tired before I'm ready to leave, i'll let Matthew nd Timmy (who's co-hosting with us and is traveling to Europe the next day) manage hosting duties while I go upstairs and sleep. (We have maid service coming to clean up after us, so we don't even have to pick up after our guests.) My bag is packed. All I need to do is hop into and out of the shower and pull clothing over my body to be ready for early-morning departure.

I wish  I could be more specific about my European trip. Security reasons dictate that I cannot. I'll share the scintillating details when I return.

I may blog tomorrow. I may not. I have no idea what I can or cannot do in terms of using my electronic devices while in Europe. Consequently, I bid you sayonara for a very short time or for a couple of weeks. tie alone will tell.

a reasonable facsimile of the drunk singers

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Worst of Everything According to Alexis






















Monday, December 5, 2016

The Dead Bloggers' Society

Do you ever wonder what happened in real life to bloggers who have ceased to blog? Did these people develop real lives -- something I probably need to do -- which fill the voids in their lives formerly consumed by blogging? Did their blogs merely take different forms? Instagram is incredibly trendy at the moment. Or do they, the former bloggers,  occupy some mysterious and ethereal graveyard for exanimate  (at least as far as their on-line writing presence is concerned) bloggers?  For that matter, when a blogger finally does bite the dust, do we learn of it? If I met an untimely demise, I cannot imagine that it would occur to anyone in my immediate family (who no longer have passwords to my blog, anyway, so the most they could do would be to leave a notice in the comments section) to clue my my vast readership in to the fact that I am now residing in plot #11119 at Cadaveriew Meadows Cemetery. But I digress, as is my inclination, from my point of what happens to bloggers when they desert their blogs.

Out of curiosity and fueled by an extreme case of insomnia (Left-handers are more prone to insomnia than are our right-handed counterparts, I learned recently. Left-handers are prone to a whole lot of misfortune as compared to our right-handed counterparts. Extending the discussion two steps further, my own mother conducted research on the topic of left-handed red-haired males. She has found that they are rarely within the average range on any psychoeducational measures. They're more prone to learning disabilities and behavioral problems in particular, but they're also more prone to unusually high IQs and savant-like talents. Having a red-haired left-handed  male child is a bit of a roll of the dice. You could end up with a prodigy of some sort, or you could end up with a brat with a severe case of the uglies, as in Bobby-Flay-ugly. I personally would choose to hold onto the dice and roll them over something a bit safer than a red-haired left-handed male child.) In my sleeplessness and boredom,  I googled "sarcasm BYU-Idaho" hoping to read a bit of snark related to one of my least favorite places in the entire world. Reading Knotty's blog reminded me of just how much I detest BYU-Idaho and everything connected to it in any way.

My twitter search led me to the blog of a person who either is or calls herself HaileyBusath. The lack of space between the apparent given name and surname  is not a typographical error on my part. It may have been one on HaileyBusath's part, or perhaps she intended to smash her first and last names together, or even perhaps her parents did it for her and recorded her name on her birth certificate as such. Or, on the other hand, if HaileyBusath is LDS [UPDATE: I read further into her profile information, and HaileyBusath is indeed LDS], which almost everyone who has been enrolled in BYU-Idaho for more than twelve hours is,  perhaps the name was miswritten on LDS church records. It is tradition on the paternal side of my extended family, or at least it happened that way once, that if a child's name is misspelled on LDS church records,  the  parents have the child's birth certificate amended to reflect how it is spelled on LDS church records because the LDS church is always right. I must say by way of a disclaimer that I have no way of knowing if this is any sort of official LDS policy or if the relatives who changed their child's name when a ward clerk misspelled it on church records are merely raving lunatics. It is highly probable that both possibilities are true and correct.

Anyway, HaileyBusath is the author of a now-defunct blog (How We Do at BYU-Idaho) that is, if possible, even more random and senseless than is this one.  And I pride myself on being both random and senseless in this blog.  Outdoing me on these counts is a noteworthy accomplishment. In her most recent posting from September of 2012 at that blog site, HaileyBusath scorns those who play the game Monopoly while divulging the sort of games that are played at BYU-Idaho. What is played at BYU-Idaho, according to HaileyBusath, is mind games. She wrote this in all seriousness as if to imply that anyone enrolled at BYU-Idaho is honestly in possession of a functioning mind. A person -- even a high school student, and we all know what a phase of complete and utter brilliance in our lives our high school years were -- would have to be a little off-kilter even to contemplate filling out an application to the school. Once a person arrived in Rexburg and beheld both the sight and site that is BYU-Idaho, he or she, if  owning a brain that as much as registered waves on an EEG sensor, would have run screaming  -- for or away from the hills as though being pursued by a rabid mountain lion -- within the first half-hour of being there. Anyone who lasted a week at the place, even under the threat of dismemberment or disinheritance,  would have to be shy a few marbles.

I personally have nothing against the game of Monopoly. My mom preferred that we play The Game of Life with its pro-college indoctrination agenda (last summer my Uncle Michael, upon seeing The Game of Life in my mom's game closet, asked if anyone had updated the game to allow for the long-term financial prognosis of college students who went into heavy debt to pursue impractical degrees which were useless in the job market and were then saddled with the task of paying off massive student loans on telemarketers' or fast food workers' salaries) but I've always enjoyed the cuttthroat competitive capitalistic facets of Monopoly. It is my opinion that  today's kids would do well to put away their electronic devices and play a few board games once in awhile (because we know they're not going to do anything so radical as to pick up a book and read it in their spare time). I hate to sound like some old geezer such as my dad when he complains about how tough kids had it back in his day (and my father is actually speaking the truth when he says he had a difficult childhood and youth, though not because of the era in which he grew up but because he had a half-witted-at-best troglodyte for a father; I've already been disinherited from anything I might have gotten upon death from that source, so I can say anything I wish to say about him with absolute impunity), but when I was a kid, board games were what we were allowed to do after finishing homework and extra reading (though I've always liked to read, so that part of it I would have done whether I had been told to or not), not what we did on bad-weather days when our parents finally got tired of us doing nothing but watching TV and playing electronic games. I've said enough about Monopoly, though. The Parker Brothers will have to pay me if they expect more in the way of a proper commercial endorsement for their product. And it [Monopoly] is not going to be played at BYU-Idaho regardless of the endorsement given by me or by anyone else, as the students there are too busy playing mind games with their incredibly high-functioning minds to trifle with Monopoly or any other board or card game.

I clicked on HaileyBusath's profile and found two additional blogs connected with her. One was "All the Hailey You Could Ever Want." Its most recent posting was dated November of 2011. The other linked blog was "Life Of a Student At BYU-Idaho." I received this message upon clicking on the link: Sorry, the blog you were looking for does not exist. However, the name lifeofastudentatbyui is available to register.

This is your golden opportunity! You could be the proud owner of your own site lifeofastudentatbyuI!
You could do whatever your heart desires with the site. You could turn it into an expose on how bare shoulders equate with nudity in the mind of at least one professor at BYUIdaho.  You could use the site as an artfully camouflaged home base to sell your contraband of choice. Unless the feds are a whole lot smarter than most of us give them credit for being, they probably would never think to look at a site with a name like LifeofaStudentAtByu-I when scouting for sites hawking illicit or otherwise unauthorized goods such as bootleg Vicodin or lactation porn artifacts (I didn't know such a thing as lactation porn existed until I just now googled "demented forms of porn." We all would do well to speak and write less and to google more. There's an entire world out there that most of us don't even know exists.), or, entirely hypothetically, Donald Trump's used condoms.  I said "hypothetically." The feds in the form of  the Secret Service or the FBI or the CIA or the IRS or whatever agencies over which Donald Trump will soon exercise some degree of  control do not need to hunt me down to interrogate me under bright lights and conditions of deprivation that fly in the face of the Geneva Convention. I know nothing about Donald Trump's used condoms or from what venue he sells them other than that, with his love of money, if there is anyone  who is sufficiently deranged to be willing to part with his or her dollars in exchange for the president elect's used condoms, Donald Trump would most likely be willing to accommodate the person.

With HaileyBusath's most recent blog sighting having been in September of 2012, she very likely has moved on to bigger and better things.  Most young people begin college at around the age of 18 give or take a year depending upon his or her state's kindergarten entrance date or whether or not he or she finished school early or late, I'm 22, so if HaileyBusath was attending BYU Idaho in the fall of 2011, she's probably at least my age. 22 is almost into official spinsterhood territory where Mormons are concerned. For those bothered by my obsession with marriage, please allow me to remind you than I am only half Mormon, and, as such, am referring to Mormons and their predilection for early marriage as opposed to alluding to any uneasiness about my own relationship and/or marriage  status or lack thereof.  Chances are that she is no longer HaileyBusath but HaileySomethingelse, likely bound to Mr. Somethingelse for time and all eternity [as opposed to the more mundane " 'til death do us part'," though, forboding as it sounds, seems these days to be no more binding than a few quick words uttered in front of a judge or magistrate] and quite possibly already having gotten a start on her Mormon prerequisite crop of crotch gnomes.

Then again, when the LDS church changed the minimum age for female missionaries from 21 to 19, HaileyBusath may have taken the bait. She may have served a mission in east LA and may have picked up enough Spanish that when she returned to university (assuming my nose doesn't grow half a foot for referring to BYU-Idaho as a university), she may have changed her degree emphasis from English Education to Spanish Education. Or perhaps she didn't serve a mission and chose instead to concentrate on finishing her education.  She may have become what the Mormon hierarchy fears most -- an empowered woman who can take care of herself and is not dependent upon any man for self-validation, though she will consider a relationship if and when both the time and the man are right for her.

The possibilities are endless, though. She may have discovered extreme Catholicism and perhaps became a cloistered nun who hits herself with leather cords while pleading for God's forgiveness in Latin. (If you've never seen the movie The Nun's Story, you really should.) Then again, perhaps she was the one person in ten thousand who opened the door when the Jehovah's Witnesses came knocking, and maybe she is now herself knocking on doors and handing out Watchtower pamphlets and using her newly-discovered religion to avoid jury duty. She may have become a pole dancer. Mormonism is what most of us who are not Mormons would consider to be an extreme religion. Extremists in religion (even when people are born into it) tend to go from one extreme to another. Not always is such the case, though. She may be a kindergarten teacher who volunteers at the SPCA during her free time. She may have married a Presbyterian who likes wine with dinner, and she may have discovered that she, too, likes to drink a bit of wine on occasion. She may be the Zumba instructor at your gym or at mine.

HaileyBusath, if you google yourself and come across this post, I would be very happy if you were to give a shout or leave a comment even if what you have to say to me after reading this may be ever so slightly on the hostile side.

How to Pronounce "Nuclear"

I admit that this is perhaps a biased or elitist view on my part, and that is probably the most pointless post in a blog filled almost exclusively with pointless posts, but I shall, nonetheless,  share this bit of information about myself.

I divide this planet's English-speaking population into two distinct groups: those who pronounce the word nuclear as NU/klee/ur  and those who pronounce it NU/kyuh /lur. (I cannot get blogspot to allow me to do the upside-down e schwa symbol or any other International Phonetic Alphabet characters or other diacritical markings; I apologize for any inconvenience this insufficiency may inadvertently cause.) END OF POST.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

working insane hours with equally insane people in order to attend an even less sane Portuguese rosary

Image result for father guido sarducci humor

I need to be up and at work very early because I will leave work early to attend a rosary for which I will play piano or organ. I'm already at the hospital. Probably the very last thing I should have been doing, other than shooting up heroin or something along those lines, was staying awake and blogging. I'm sure most people understand, on the other hand, what it's like to really need to get to sleep. Sleep is often a most elusive commodity under such circumstances. It's pointless to lie awake in bed trying to sleep. It only makes sleep even harder by which to come. Blogging is more productive than staring at the shadows on the ceiling.

Matthew will be with me on the travel to the rosary, and he will drive. The drive there, even though we're leaving mid-afternoon, will be a bit of a bitch because of traffic, but the drive back will be quick and painless, as we won't be dealing with traffic late at night. Matthew is probably still sleeping (he doesn't need to be at work quite so early today; he worked late last night) as though he's Michael Jackson after a dose of "warm milk," known in the medical community and by virtually everyone other than the late Michael Jackson as propofol. I should probably clarify that Matthew is sleeping as Michael Jackson did following the intravenous hits of propofol that were not his ultimate shoot-up of the drug. Matthew is still very much alive and well. I opened his door an hour or so ago to let the cat in, and could hear him breathing.  Matthew sleeps like a heavily sedated person even without the benefit of drugs. He falls asleep within five minutes of the time he first attempts to sleep, and wakes up whenever he wants, usually without benefit of an alarm clock. It's a fantastic trait for a doctor to have, and he's very fortunate that both sleeping and waking come easily to him. 

I will be on duty shortly after 5:00. I typically would not attend hospital  rounds on a Tuesday, but since I'm making up time that I will miss at the end of the day, so the most logical use of the time is for me to participate in hospital rounds for internal medicine patients. I will be the only med school students. The interns will likely pull rank and will ask me every question that is in the book and many that aren't, which is why I plan to start reviewing charts almost two hours before the scheduled start of rounds. It's a chance to look really good or really bad. I'd prefer to look good. It's also a chance to make a few interns resent me if the residents ask them questions to which they do not know the answers, and then refer the questions on to me if I happen to know the answers. Often the attending stands back and observes the drama without saying much, though occasionally he will ask questions of the residents, and God help the residents if they don't have the correct answers. I won't volunteer answers but if I happen to know and am asked questions directly, I'll either answer or apologetically admit that I don't know the answer. The very worst thing is to try to fake it when one doesn't know the answer. It's OK to be wrong once in awhile as a med student -- though not too often -- but bullshitting gets a prospective physician absolutely nowhere except in deep doo doo  during rounds. 

After rounds, I'll have time for a very brief break before office hours begin. Because I will have shown up substantially earlier than everyone else in order to review charts and talk to the patients, and for the simple reason that the lower one is on the food chain in this business, the earlier one is expected to be on the job, I won't be expected to find ways of making myself appear productive because I will have been working long before the rest of them and will be entitled to a bit of a break. That is, unless I screw up on the question/answer sessions of rounds, in which case I will be expected to make it very obvious that I am studying the material of which I demonstrated non-mastery during rounds. If I handle rounds acceptably, I'll make a few quick notes for studying later, go back and bid the patients farewell and wish them a good day, and find out if they have any immediate needs that aren't being met. I don't HAVE to do this, but it's a nice touch, and I would appreciate it if I were stuck in a hospital as a patient. I will then have a bit of time to myself.

I have protein bars, chocolate milk, and a travel toothbrush with toothpaste packed in my car for when I leave the hospital to go to the internal medicine office. I also have a five-hour energy drink in case I cannot get by without it. Those things are supposedly really toxic for one's kidneys, which is why I avoid them on normal days, but after  sleepless night (though I did have a 50-minute nap when I first arrived home from work), I cannot be yawning in patients' and physicians' faces. I may have to sacrifice a day of the life span of my kidneys in order to avoid appearing highly unprofessional.  I try hard to limit myself to no more than one of those energy drinks per month, but at those rare times they're necessary. If I yawn too much on the job, am excessively sluggish, or fall asleep, my reaction to the reprimand that I receive -- the obvious degree to which it would upset me -- would cause far more damage to my health than would the 5-hour energy drink.

The piano is still in the waiting room of the internal medicine practice at which I am now working. It will remain there until December 10, at which time it will be moved to the floor where it will be housed semi-permanently, which will allow it sufficient time to settle before being tuned on the day of the 16th in anticipation of the holiday function for physicians, administrators, board members, benefactors, and others. I still have no idea if I'm expected to play it that night. Perhaps it's presumptuous of me to think it could even be a possibility. On the other hand, it bothers me a bit that if those organizing the event are expecting me to show up to play the piano at their event, they think they can wait until the very last minute to let me know that my services are needed. The bottom line, however, is that they can.  They may very well be waiting on an R.S.V.P. from a more esteemed musician. If such is the case, they are sparing my feelings by not letting me know that I'm their second or third or fourth choice, but that I should keep the night open. I would prefer to think that it's their knowledge that they can expect me to be on call at any time without notice even though playing piano isn't really part of my scope of duties, and even if it is rude of them not to let me know further in advance, and even if it's not part of my job. My dad disagrees about the "not being part of my job" thing. He says that as a med student or intern, if one lists a skill on his or her resume,  he or she may expect to be called upon to perform that skill if it in any way benefits the program to which he or she has been accepted whether or not it has anything to do with the practice of medicine.

My only issue is that I need a play list, and I'd rather, if the event coordinator is not going to provide  the play list, come up with it at my leisure, as opposed to spending every spare minute on the day of the event trying to figure out what to play. Christmas music is the obvious choice unless someone in power suggests otherwise, but I'd like to know if it needs to be almost exclusively holiday music with as many non-Christmas-specific seasonal selections as possible out of respect for the many doctors who do not celebrate Christmas, or if they're looking more for light classical music, piano standards,  or easy-listening-type fare. My mom says I should have this list on hand anyway. I asked her if she had such a list on hand. She said no. Why would she think it was so important for me to be prepared in this way if she is not? 

In any event, I'm probably flattering myself to think whoever is in charge of procuring a musician for the affair  would even consider using my musical services for this event.  We're not far from one of the major cultural centers of the world.  There have to be many known artists on whom the event coordinator could call for this event, though the services of the well-known pianists in the area would not come cheaply.  I am not in a position to demand a cent.

At least I won't have to worry about what to wear if my services are requested. Male professional musicians wear black tuxes to such occasions. Women wear black clothing - usually dresses, but nice slacks and relatively elegant tops are acceptable as well. My closet is one-third filled with professional musician clothing. I could always drag out the cute little ensemble I wore for my senior piano recital. It was black, but the style was something like one of the Von Trapp girls would have worn. I thought it looked a bit silly, but my mom was in love with the dress. I considered telling her if she loved it so much she should order one for herself and wear it at her next appearance, but I know what she would have answered, which was that the dress was for a person my age and not hers. I have few opportunities to make my mom really happy, so I wore the dress she wanted me to wear.  

No one minds (or has expressed it to me, anyway) if I play the piano in the waiting room either before I'm on duty or after the work has been done prior to the start of the day and it's not yet time for patients to appear. I don't invite myself to play the piano if there's work to be done. Yesterday I could tell that the noses of three of the other four med students assigned to the practice were slightly out of joint when I played the piano. (They were already on vacation when I played in the days before thanksgiving.) Late yesterday afternoon, when one of the attendings mentioned that the doctors wanted me to play a bit more while the piano is still in the waiting room, I  voiced my concerns about it possibly causing hard feelings among my peers. He almost exploded. I was glad they had already left for the day, as he might have said something to them, which would have been awkward. He said that he is going to ask them if any of them proficiently play the piano or any other instrument that would be easy on the ears in an office setting, and to invite them to have a turn at playing if anyone answers affirmatively.  He said if he notices anyone even looking at me cross-eyed when I'm asked to play, he'll call the person in to have a chat. He said it's none of anyone's business what he does with the time of the medical students assigned to him as long as it's both legal and ethical, and he won't have med school students deciding what anyone else's duties are while they're in his office. He also said that my knowledge and skills are superior to those of the medical students assigned with me (I disagree where one of the other students is concerned, but it's not my place to argue with a doctor; I'll try to put in a good word for him later before final grades for this rotation are issued) in this rotation to the extent that none of them have any cause for complaint that I'm not carrying my share of the workload, because they need far more practical experience than I do, and  because I accomplish twice as much in half the time as most of them do when I'm on the job. That isn't not as much of a compliment as it might seem to be. With one notable exception (who is also the one who has neither complained nor given me the stink eye when I play the piano), the weakest links in our cohort are assigned with me right now to this section of the internal medicine rotation.

I suggested to the attending physician that people get tired of Christmas music if it's played too early, and that it might be good to wait until the first of December before dragging it out. He said that for now he plans to have me play for roughly an hour in both the morning and the afternoon. I can play what I want unless he or one of the other doctors thinks of something they want to hear, but if a patient requests a holiday song, I should play it. He said he happens to like the sound of Christmas music. He's Hindu, so if he's willing to listen to Christmas music , I suppose I should humor him.

Today is going to be a very long day, but then we'll be back to business as usual. I'm already at the hospital, and it's time for me to begin reviewing charts and waking patients to talk with them. They so love it when I wake them early in the morning to chat. 

P.S. Cousin Dan has arrived in the chaco, or el chaco, in Uruguay, to determine if the Mennonites there are indeed of the House of Israel, and, if so, from what tribe. I'm not sure what he'll do if he realizes once he gets there that the indigenous people are of the house of Israel, and not of the tribe of Manasseh, as interpreters of the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Morons if you prefer, would have you believe.

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