Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Weddings With Elvis Impersonators, and Despicable Parents.Who Make Such Atrocities Necessary

This is not what I would want for Caitlin, ad I suspect she would want it for herself even less.

My good friend Caitlin is engaged to be married.  Caitlin remained my good friend despite the fact that I kicked her out of my house and made her call her mom to pick her up at about 3:00 a.m.  because she broke my cardinal rule of never saying inside the sanctity of my house that my father (or my brother) was good-looking. My friends were not allowed to comment favorably upon the appearances of either my brother or my father without facing severe sanctions. Fortunately in the case Caitlin and myself, we got past the breach and are a part of five of the closest friends ever.  (One friend, Claire, succumbed to leukemia a couple of years ago, but she's still very much one of us.)

Most of my close friends grew up in "stable" homes -- ones in which parents sometimes had loud 11:00 p.m. arguments over who did what with the ingredients for the Chex Party Mix right before the house was to be tented for termites and all the food that couldn't be wrapped  and stored in the refrigerator had been distributed to various neighbors' homes, but the arguments almost always blew over. My friend Meredith had things a bit rougher. Her parents divorced and remarried [each other] three times, which would mean they've been married to each other a total of four times.  Still, even between their marriages, they were civil and could attend Meredith's birthday parties and other events together without making either Meredith or anyone else uncomfortable. In fact, people who were present at those events always wondered why they ever divorced in the first place.

Caitlin's parents divorced when she was in middle school, and she hasn't been nearly so fortunate either as the rest of us (well, I suppose she's more fortunate than Claire) or even as Meredith. I don't know if Caitlin's parents really care about the money all that much or if they really don't have it. From their professions, I would assume that any claim of poverty would ring hollow.  They've fought over everything from who had to pay for the insurance co-pay for Caitlin's appendectomy, to who had to buy Christmas and birthday presents for her,  to who should bear the cost of  her braces, to her eighth-grade graduation dress, to her prom expenses, to her driving lessons and car insurance. I'm sure I'm leaving out a whole lot. Most of it was settled in court or by mediators. Ironically, her parents probably paid more in attorney costs than if they had just agreed to split all necessary costs down the middle. Despite a GPA in excess of 4.0 and SATs above 1300, Caitlin would have been stuck in community college (her parents earned far too much for her to have received anything by way of financial aid)  had she not been the recipient of an extremely generous local benefactor's merit-based scholarship.

Now it's time for Caitlin and her fiance to plan a wedding. The groom's parents aren't the Jutes or Kallikaks, but neither are they Rockefellers. They're a  special education program director and a high school principal.  They have three younger children in addition to  Caitlin's betrothed. They could probably go into debt to give their son and his bride the wedding the couple would enjoy, but they seriously wonder why they should take out a second mortgage to fund their son's wedding when the bride's father is an anaesthesiologist and the bride's mother is an attorney who specializes in personal injury and probably brings in an annual salary minimally in the high six figures. The groom's parents are willing to pay their fair share, but they're reluctant to bankroll the wedding of the decade so that the bride's parents can stand in separate corners accepting congratulations for the fabulosity of the wedding without ever letting on that they had nothing whatsoever to do with paying for.

I'll be the first to say that I think today's weddings have gotten out of hand.  In my grandparent's day,  cake and punch were served in the church's basement or social hall following the ceremony, unless, in some cases, if the couple was Catholic, in which case a more booze-friendly location might have been appropriated. Still, if any hors d'ouvres beyond little paper cups of mints and nuts were made available, in would have been considered a classy affair. I'm sure the Kennedys and the Bushes didn't follow this protocol, but the vast majority of America did. Then came my parents' generation, where meals were expected to be served at wedding receptions. Within reason, this wasn't out off line. My generation, however, has taken it to new heights.

At my cousin's recent wedding,  the courses of hors d'ouvres were followed by chef salad  and bread. Next  came the bacon-wrapped filets, followed closely by chicken, by lobster, and by other seafood. Pasta of various forms was available both for the vegetarians and for the carnivores. No buffet line was in effect. Enough waiters were present to simultaneously serve the roughly one-hundred-twenty-five tables. Following the meal, in addition to cake, waiters custom-made sundaes to the guests' specifications, with every available topping I could have  imagined.

First, I should explain that my cousin's parents have more money than I would have if I successfully emptied the vault of a different bank every day for three consecutive years. It's not as though the extravagance of this wedding was really at the expense of anything else. For that matter, they stimulated the economy with their indulgence. My aunt and uncle are uncommonly generous with charitable contributions (and are quiet about it, which makes it all the more noble), and it's not like they needed the money to help their son and his bride buy a house.  Even after paying for the wedding, they probably could have bought Mira Lago or whatever it's called, for their son and his bride had Trump been willing to part with it.

It's simply a matter of why was this really necessary?  Where I personally was concerned, I took two bites of salad, a bite of the bread, three bites of the Filet Mignon, a few sips of water, and was full. Others surely ate more than I did, but I doubt that a single person there required all the available food for personal satiation.  Rather, it was all about the people in attendance who had hosted weddings for their own children at which my aunt and uncle had been in attendance.  My cousin's wedding couldn't be just as good; it had to be at least a little bit better.

Caitlin doesn't need, not do I suspect that she would even want, that sort of wedding. On the other hand, I don't think elopement was ever a part of her plan. Her favorite doll as a child was a bride doll. She was a bride for several years on Halloween.  She faithfully attended church her entire life even when her parents didn't, and always assumed she's be married there in her home church one day.

Furthermore, Caitlin is and has always been, despite her single indiscretion of having referred to my father as handsome in my own home, extraordinarily  good,  reminiscent in a way of Abraham Lincoln who once, as legend has it, walked several miles to return two lousy pennies to someone. When the others in our immediate circle of friends sometimes devised slightly diabolical plans, if anyone spoke out against them, it was Caitlin. She didn't even like to kill bugs. Once a mouse appeared in Megan's family's country home when our group of friends was there.  While I stood atop the dining room table screaming, "Kill it! Kill it!" Caitlin calmly captured the small mouse in a used Cool Whip container and relocated it to the fields behind the house. She was polite even to the rudest of teachers, nor did she speak disparagingly about them behind their backs as did the rest of us. The only unkind thing of which I'm aware of her ever having done was when she immediately spilled a full container of chocolate milk on the boy who broke off his prom date with me (after I had been injured and confined to a wheelchair)o by announcing the break-off  by standing on a bench  and shouting his intentions in a cafeteria full of students at lunch time. Form my point of view, I'm not even sure I would consider that as an act of unkindness. Sometimes one has to be cruel in order to be kind,  and loyalty, too, has its place.

In short, Caitlin is a person who has done exactly what was expected of her probably since the day her parents brought her home from the hospital. She's currently enrolled in her first year of  a PhD program in Cancer Biology and Cell Signaling as well as Signal Transduction in Lymphocytes. She may one day work with (as opposed to for) my father. She's not in any position at this time nor for the next few years to pay for any wedding beyond an elopement, and even that would be a stretch.  If she doesn't want her wedding to take the form of an elopement, she should not have to settle for such. She's not asking for a destination wedding in Antigua or Newport, Rhode Island.,  She would like a simple church ceremony with a reception in someone's backyard or, weather not permitting, in a local auditorium.

Sometimes divorce is inevitable. Sometimes it's even good. People don't need to live together in misery, also making everyone else living with them equally miserable, just because of vows made in what was often an extreme state of youth. On the other hand, divorce is one thing. Spite as a result of a broken relationship is quite another.  If parents hate each other more than they love the child the two of them produced, and if they're willing to allow their own selfishness and need for revenge to stand in the way their child's basic rights (I would consider the removal of an inflamed appendix to be the basic right of a child), much less her happiness, ether God chooses not to actively intervene in anyone's reproductive success or God made a very poor choice in giving such a wonderful person as Caitlin to two such despicable parents.

Caitlin's parents, if you read this and are angry, you are free to fry eggs on the brimstones you're likely to find in immediate proximity to you in hell if there is such a place.

Caitlin, I wish I could personally do more. I hope you don't mind this post. I happen to know that, even though this will embarrass you, efforts are underway to provide you with the wedding you deserve.  Don't worry; it's nothing as tacky or as public as a Go Fund Me  account. Everything will be OK.  You will be a beautiful bride.

Even though Pachelbel Canon is a bit trite, this is more of what Caitlin, I, and everyone else who loves Caitlin had in mind for her wedding. I don't think the groom give's a rat's ileum how it goes down as log as Caitlin is happy and his parents don't have to go into bankruptcy to make it happen.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Possibly the Most Bat-shit Crazy Teacher in History

I do not own this video. Thank you to the owners for allowing me to borrow it however briefly.

While I'm on the theme of bat-shit crazy teachers, please allow me to tell you a story from my mom's year of student teaching. Her initial semester of student teaching was spent in a sixth-grade classroom and was with a teacher who, at the very least, nominally had both of her oars in the water. Teaching sixth grade, I've been told, doesn't bring out the best in most people, my mom's master teacher was never known to pick her nose in public or to go into a funeral home and impersonate a mortician. In short, she was probably about as normal as any sixth-grade teacher. My sixth=grade teacher, Mr Thatcher, was the exception to the rule about teaching sixth grade bringing out the eccentricity in those unlucky enough to find another grade to teach.

The semester in sixth grade was only half the year.  For the second half of the year, my mom was assigned to third grade with a teacher we shall call Mrs. Delphine. (It's close to but not exactly her name.)  My mom thought it was a bit strange when the school principal and the university's student teaching supervisor walked with her to the classroom to introduce my mom to Mrs. Delphine. The principal first knocked, then, hearing no response, used his master key to let himself and the others into the room.  Mrs. Delphine was seated behind her desk, but not in her desk chair. She was atop a porta-potty that she had delivered to her classroom through some private company. when the porta-potty was not in used, she stored it under a counter.  She swore to the principal that she never used it in the presence of the students. Throughout the semester, my mom saw evidence that such was not the case.  My om was dating my dad at the time, and he told my mom that whether or not the unit was used in the presence of the students, it was a health department violation. He phoned the violation in, but the health department must have had more important fish to fry.

Mt's. Delphine was frequently a odds with the custodial staff because she expected them to empty her porta=potty. Their union officials stood firmly behind them in insisting that such was not a part of their duties.  Mrs. Delphine offered extra credit to any student who would take on the task. There were no takers.  Mrs. Delphine even tried to coerce my mom into emptying the sludge pot, but  my mom is squeamish. She barely survived changing her babies' diapers a few years later, and had both of us out of diapers before we were a year old. She couldn't have stomached toting Mrs. Delphine's private sewage.

One of the books Mrs. Delphine read aloud to the third-graders was something called The Funhouse by Dean Koontz. I never read it and only know what my mom told me about it (when I was much older than the third graders had been), but it apparently featured a young woman who ran off to follow an man to the carnival or circus or something of that nature. As things turned out, the man was demonic, ad he impregnated the woman with a demonic offspring. The demonic offspring attacked his mother at one point, I believe, and the woman killed her baby in self-defense. It was a bit like Rosemary's Baby on crack, as I recall.

Mrs. Delphine used to ask my mom to read that book and others equally inappropriate for third-graders but my mom always ignored her and read books of her own choosing. My mom instead brought along novels by Beverly Cleary, Andrew Clements, Ellen Conford, Louis Sachar, or similar authors. Mrs. Delphine didn't like my mom's choice of reading material. but since her main objective was to give herself a break to drink her Kool-Aid (which everyone suspected was spiked with something potent) and eat peanut M & M's.

The school at which Mrs. Delphine taught was slightly lower middle-class. It certainly wasn't skid row, and the students were mostly children of working parents. Most of the parents had little time to devote to volunteering or otherwise hinging around the school, but one would have though at least one or two kids would have mentioned some of the goings on in the classroom. I might have been afraid of being blamed for lying or being a trouble-maker, but not all parents are as supportive of school personnel as mine were. I don't quite know how Mrs. Delphine got away with all that she did.

Each day when the kids had physical education, they just played in their school clothes. Mrs. Delphine changed into a T-short and sweats or yoga pants or something like that, and she did it right in the classroom with the children still present. She even changed her bra and panties.She told my mom that she, too, could change into something more comfortable for physical activity if she wished. my mom declined. my mom ended up rushing the kids out of the classroom and onto the playground before Mrs. Delphine peeled her clothing off, though it wasn't easy because the boys dragged their feet, taking as long as possible to get out.

Depending upon a teacher's status s probationary or tenured, or also upon a district's contract with its teachers, each teacher is formally evaluated at regular intervals. Mrs. Delphine was a tenured teacher (how the hell THAT happened is a mystery for the ages) and, as such, was subject to bi-annual evaluations. The evaluations consisted of review of files, a scheduled lengthy observation, and unscheduled short-term walk-through observations (at least two per year but no more than three for a tenured teacher unless the teacher was notified in writing that he or she was being referred to peer-assistance reviews for sub-par performance; for some reason no one had ever referred Mrs. Delphine for peer assistance review for sub-par performance.  I don't know if she had something on someone important or if the administrators supervising her were just plain lazy.) Administrators were free to walk through classrooms more than three times per year; the visits just weren't to be written up as observations.

A formal observation was scheduled for Mrs. Delphine 9:30 on a Thursday morning in early March.
My mom asked Mrs. Delphine what lesson she had prepared to teach for the observation. Mrs. Delphine shrugged and said she planned to wing it.  At 9:29 and 45 seconds, the principal walked through the doors of the classroom with his yellow legal pad. (Evaluations are now typically done on laptops, which are more efficient. The principal greeted Mrs. Delphine, my mom, and the children, and took a seat at the back of the classroom.  Mrs. Delphine stared at him as though she had no clue as to why he was there. After a few very pregnant seconds, she said to me mom, "Come with me,  Miss Fitzsimmons. There's something i must show you." my mom looked at the principal. He shrugged, as if he didn''t know what to tell my mom. My mom followed Mrs. Delphine as she led the way to the faculty parking lot.

Once she reached her Ford Explorer, Mrs. Delphine opened the rear hatch and  began taking out supplies. "Do you know how to change the oil on a car?" Mrs. Delphine asked my mom.

"Nnno," my mom answered.  I assume she thought that was what boyfriends and Jiffy Lube were for.

"Now is the time for you to learn," Mrs. Delphine announced. She crawled under her SUV, commanding my mom to follow her.

"I'm not really dressed for this," my mom countered.

"Neither am I," answered Mrs. Delphine," but some things are more important than clothing."

"But you can afford to replace your outfit," my mom argued with Mrs. Delphine. "I'm not being paid. In fact I;m paying for the privilege of student teaching."

"Never mind, " Mrs. Delphine conceded. Just watch everything I do and listen to everything I say!"

"What about the children?" my mm asked. "We're supposed to be teaching them!
"The principal is credentialed to teach and supervise students, " Mrs. Delph responded. "Let him earn his pay for once."

"Did you leave lesson plans for him?" my mom asked

"Lesson plans, schlesson plans1" Mrs. Delphine concluded. "Lesson plans are for losers. If he has half a brain, he'll figure out something to do with the kids while we're busy. He could always do the Hokey Pokey or play Hangman with them."

Mrs. Delphine emptied the old oil into the oil pan, fastened the bolt or whatever it's called, then crawled out from under her SUV, by no covered with soot and whatever is found i a school parking lot. Her hair looked as though it was done by a blind person with tactile impairment.  She lifted her hood, opened the oil cap, inserted a funnel, and opened and poured five cans of Pennzoil into it.

"Now you know what's really important," Mrs Delphine told my mom. "All this Piaget, B.F. Skinner, Pavlov, Bandura, Madeline Hunter and her Clinical teaching bullshit,  Marie Clay and her crazy notions of reading, even the McCrackens and their fuck-up known as whole language, are poppycock, as are grading, classroom management, and district and state standards. What is important in life is to know how to change the oil in your car, how to change a tire, and how to pt air in your tires. It's also important to know the proper way to apply a roll of toilet paper to the dispenser, but I'll assume you MUST have learned that by now.. And to change a light bulb. You do know how to change a light bulb, don;t you, Miss /Fitzsimmons?" My mom conferred that changing a light bulb was within the scope of her capabilities.

"I've had enough for the day, " Mrs. Delphine declared. "I'm out of here! Would you care to come with me?"

"I think I'd better stick around,  my mom answered.

My mom walked with trepidation back to the classroom.  She found the principal at the front of the classroom teaching a lesson on two-digit multiplication. He excused the children to work on their assigned pages and motioned for my mom to follow him just outside the door. "I'm really sorry about this, " he told my mom, which was a relief to her. She was afraid she might somehow share the blame.

"We've known there was a problem here," the principal said, "but the principals who preceded me didn't take care of the necessary documentation. With your supervisor's permission, we've taken possession of the journal you've been required to keep as a student teacher. It contains enough incriminating evidence to at least begin the peer review assistance process."

"I'm not going to ask you to teach the class for the rest of the day with no lesson plans," the principal told my mom. "If I give you the rest of the morning, can you come up with lessons for the remainder of the day?"

My mom agreed. The remainder of the  day was uneventful.

The next day, Mrs. Delphine showed up at school wearing a leather skirt and a see-though lace bra with no blouse over it. The principal sent her home to change clothing. She threatened to call the teacher's association representative. The principal picked up the phone and made the call for her.  "Are you SURE it's just a bra she's wearing on top?" the teacher's association representative asked him.

"I've been married for ten years," he told her. "I know what a bra looks like."

"If I were you, I'd call the superintendent, but meanwhile, you'll get no fight from the association if you send her home to dress herself appropriately."

Mrs. Delphine left. The word on the street is that the next morning before dawn, she was in the parking lot wearing a G-string with no bra, sprawled across the hood of he SUV in a most provocative manner. When the custodian came on duty, he called his custodial supervisor, who told him to dial 9-1-1.  An ambulance came. She was carted away in restraints.

My mom taught the class with minimal supervision, probably totally illegally, for the remaining three months of the year.

My mother had never seen or heard from Mrs. Delphine for the next eighteen months or so, until Mrs. Delphine inexplicably showed up at my parents' wedding in Nebraska. No one my mom knows has any idea how Mrs. Delphine even knew where or when the wedding was to take place.  My mom had tried to be professional as a student teacher and didn't talk much about her upcoming nuptials, which weren't far into the planning stage at that point, anyway. A person doesn't typically travel from California to Nebraska to attend the wedding of a person she barely knows.

Mrs. Delph  arrived early for the wedding. The guest book was on a small podium, and a corsage had been placed there for the girl who was to supervise the guest book. Mrs. Delphine pinned it on herself, then took her seat in the front row on the groom's side.  For all most of the ushers knew, she was a relative f the groom. She would have fit right into my dad's family in terms of he overall bat-shit craziness.

The wedding was held outdoors, though was a full mass sanctioned by the Roman Catholic church and with both a priest and a relic of a saint present.  My aunt Colleem sang a song -- I don't now what because I wasn't there -- during communion.  During the remainder of communion, the organist (an electronic organ was move outdoors) was to play Bach-Gounod's Ave Maria as an instrumental solo. Such was not to be. As soon as Mrs Delphine recognized the tune,  she stood up from her place in the front row. and began belting the hymn at the top of her lungs. By no stretch of the imagination could she be said to have a nice singing voice, but one would have to give her credit for being loud. There was a gas station - mini mart nearly four miles down the road, and people there heard it and asked what was the caterwauling.  It was so very bad that there was nothing to do but to laugh. My mom had to lean against my dad because she was laughing so hard and gasping for breath to the extent that she couldn't stand. The priest turned his back. He knew it wasn't proper to laugh while facing a congregation as Ave Maria was played or sung, no matter how pathetically it was sung,

My mom heard that Mrs. Delphine did lose her credential. If rumors are correct , Mrs. Delphine is now supporting herself as a life coach.  There's a sucker born every minute.

This story is extreme, but we've all had wack-job teachers. Please share some of your stories with me. Perhaps we could compile them into a book.

P.S. I may have exaggerated ever so slightly, but the vast majority of this story, unless my mom is a complete liar, is true.\

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Piss- Poor (as Opposed to Econimcally Poor)Teachers and Their Legacy - Think of Trunchbull


Mrs. Moore may have been slightly
more subtle, but Trunchbull and Cruella had nothing on her when it came to sheer diabolicality.

Life is treating me with relative kindness at the moment.  I'm off the dreaded Augmentin and onto Ampicillin. Montezuma continues to extract his revenge, but I'm at least not doing my best Linda Blair imitation.  Projectile vomiting is bad, as I probably don't have to tell you, but it's all the worse when you are the adult, and no matter how sick you are, the vomitus is not going to be cleaned off the walls unless you do it yourself, 104-degree fever and all. Al things considered, adulthood has been a positive change in my life, but there are those occasional times, such as when you're  painting the walls with the contents of your stomach, that it would be really nice to have mom or dad there to take charge.

I'm missing a bit of extra work time, but my hours of work were nearly double what they should have been for my initial two weeks.  I was having fun and learning a great deal as well. Also  extra time was built into my sub-internship for me, and, if necessary, I can substitute another stint in either surgery, pediatrics, or pediatric surgery next semester. it's not likely to be necessary as far as my superiors are concerned, but I want to feel prepared. it makes more sense to me to spend the time in the areas in which I want to concentrate rather than to pick up a clerkship in urology. it's not that urology is unrelated to pediatric medicine or surgery, but there will be others I can consult, and I'll cover it in my residency as well.

With everything going along so sunnily even in the midst of my illness, from which i am recovering quite nicely, I for some reason feel the need to share a memory of something that happened to me as a child that was not tremendously positive.  Both the positives, the negatives, and the ordinary happenings in one's life combine to make a person whom he or she is, but it doesn't make the negatives any more pleasant to remember.

Some of you may remember my least favorite teacher of all time -- Mrs. Moore, who ridiculed me for many things, but most noticeably for having taken a school picture in which I looked unkempt. It might have helped had she not asked the two children from the fifth grade (one [me] from our class and a boy from the class next door)  who were absent the several days before when the mile run was conducted for PE testing to complete the mile run just before pictures. Still, both my parents and I would have forgiven her had she not made such a scene about the quality of my appearance in the picture.  My father really should have written a note excusing me from the mile run for that day, and probably would have had he known it was happening. The entire fifth grade ran the event together, but Matthew probably  never thought to mention it. I had been absent for six prior days with croup and was questionable even as far as school attendance for that day, but it was picture day, and if a student was absent on picture day, he or she could get re-takes but would not be in the class picture. I showed up at school, crouped my way through the mile run, then took my picture with my hair wild and my face wet with perspiration. Our district typically took school pictures in mid-September, and the weather often made it not far from the 100-degree mark by close to noon.

Maybe six days before the school picture incident, Mrs. Moore was reading to the class after lunch, as was customary. The book she was reading at the time was these Little Town on the Prairie, which was a sequel in Laura Ingalls' Little House series. This particular volume was filled with excitement as Little House books went. Almanzo  Wilder's (Laura's eventual husband) sister was hired to teach at the one-room Walnut Grove School. She took a particular liking to Laura's nemesis, the incomparably evil Nellie Oleson, and used every available opportunity to  torment Laura and her little sister Carrie.  Even the boys were typically interested in this Laura Ingalls volume.

On the particular day, however, for some reason the boys in the class were especially obsessed with the upcoming San Francisco Forty-Niners game. The Niners, I believe, were scheduled to play the Atlanta Falcons that weekend. While we were clearly within Forty-Niner country in northern California, and that was in the day when most kids still rooted for the local team, some kids doubted the Niners' ability to take the Falcons and were not apt to pass up what they saw as sure money.. Now you have kids in Florida cheering for the Vikings, kids from Seattle rooting for New England, and vice versa. Usually the kids are front-runner bandwagon jumpers who follow whatever teams are winning. Still, some children choose teams from out of their region and stick with them. That wasn't nearly so common in my day.

Anyway, against both school rules and local statutes,  money changed hands over the game. Making bets at recess was risky. The principal had heard of the gambling operation and had his eagle eyes on any potential. bettors or bookies.  Any money that changed hands at school had to happen inside the walls of the classrooms. Had the gamblers just passed notes, which was not a difficult thing to do in Mrs. Moore's classroom, all would have been well. Those who wished to hear the story could have heard it, and the high rollers could have made their wagers. Instead , the boys whispered their offers of odds for bets.

Mrs. Moore had little patience for children talking about things other than the story while she read aloud. Actually, she had little patience for anyone talking even about the story. Questions about what was read weren't welcome, and discussions were even less welcome.  Even though Mrs. Moore drew a salary as a teacher, she wasn't a legitimate "teacher" : we learned next to nothing in the time we spent with her.

In any event, one too many boy whispered a bit too loudly regarding an offer of odds to another boy. Mrs. Moore slammed her book shut. "I'm not reading ANY MORE!!" she declared. "You children obviously aren't interested!" The daughter of the class's room mother, to whom Mrs. Moore felt more obligated to be less brutal than she was to the average student, pled with Mrs. Moore to continue the chapter. It was the  part where Carrie and Mamie something or other, who shared a desk, were unconsciously rocking it as they read. Miss Wilder told them to rock the desk as hard as they could. Mamie left the desk, leaving skinny and anemic little Carrie to fend for herself in rocking the desk.  Carrie grew paler by the minute, and Laura spoke in her defense.

At that point, I let loose with a cough that wasn't actually a cough. I was a croupy child, and had a bout with  croup that was apparently just at its onset. The sound of croup is not easy to describe to one who hasn't heard it. (You can probably find it on YouTube now, just as you can find videos of people cleaning the wax from their ears. Hell, you could probably locate a video of someone passing a kidney stone. Nothing is too sacred for YouTube anymore.) The sound of croup is something like the sound of a seal making its barking-like noise,  followed by difficulty and noise in taking in air, known as stridor..  I then crouped again. In both instances I tried to muffle the noise,, but it's a deep and penetrating sound not easily  quieted by a small hand or two.

The average compassionate and humane teacher might have been mildly concerned and probably would have sent a child with such symptoms to the school nurse.. Mrs Moore especially should have been so, as she had raised three children to young adulthood; chances are that she had heard the sound of croup before and knew what it was. Instead,  Mrs. Moore once again slammed Little Town  on the Prairie shut, glared at me, and said, "Some children don't care if they spoil it for everyone."

My classmates  turned and gave me death glares. Jeffrey Keiser, who sat directly in front of me, told me he hated me, He was from what was probably the most pious Presbyterian family in our town. Had I possessed the ability to talk without going into another crouping fit, I probably would have asked him the rhetorical, "What would Jesus do?" The croup only got worse. Mrs. Moore finally told me to take a chair out and to sit outside the room to do my work. Not knowing what else to do, I followed directions. At that point in my life, teachers were right and held ultimate authority.

I remember having increasing difficulty in breathing. I'm not sure I completed any work, though it hardly  mattered as I was usually several weeks ahead of everyone else in the class on work that was years below my ability level.. The school dismissal bell finally rang. I moved the chair back into Mrs. Moore's classroom and gathered my belongings.  I somehow made it under my own power to the gymnatorium where an after-school program was held for children whose parents worked.  The director of the after-school program heard one  episode of croup with the stridor, took one look at my blue-purple fingernails and lips, and dialed 9-1-1. I was hospitalized for two days and recovered at home for the next four days.  Again, my dad or uncle should have written a note excusing me from PE, but I don't think it occurred to either of them that a child who had been hospitalized due to croup six days earlier that came on at school would be called upon to run a mile, and our typical PE program consisted of foursquare and tether ball, neither of which would have been much of a risk to a child recovering from a respiratory ailment..

I made it through the picture, looking utterly colorless except for the bluish-purple of my lips, with a sweat-drenched face.. This time  the photographer noticed that something was amiss. He alerted Mrs. Moore, who assured him it was just Alexis being Alexis. My brother's teacher, there with her class because they were next in line for pictures,  overheard, took one look at me,  and immediately summoned the school nurse. After another ambulance trip, I this time spent three days in  Children's Hospital..

Mrs. Moore never called, sent a card, or otherwise inquired about my well-being. (The previous year, a ten-year-old boy in her class had been tragically killed in a car accident. When a collection was taken up among faculty members to send flowers to the family,  Mrs.  Moore declined to contribute. "I never liked that kid," was her explanation, according to my aunt's sister, who also taught at the school.) When I returned to school, Mrs. Moore reminded me that I was responsible for all the work missed in my absence. I tore the pre-completed pages from my workbooks, took the compositions from my folders, signed and dated everything, and handed the work to her. As it ended up, I had given her two extra weeks worth of work, which for some reason didn't please her. 

The class then received a lecture. "Some of you think you're smarter than the teacher, but you're not."
It was one of many of her themed lectures, one of which was "Some of you are not pretty at all, but if you would just be sweet, others might forget how homely you are," An acquaintance in the class with whom I had little in common but who was neither an enemy of mine said to me at recess  after that particular lecture, "I don't understand why she always looks  directly at you when she gives the speech about being homely. You're not exactly Miss America, but you're not really any uglier than anyone else here.." Backhanded though the compliment may have been, I took the words as the consolation they were intended to be. Another favorite theme was, "People who think they're sick all the time will never get anywhere in life. They may fool their doctors, and they may fool their parents, but they won't fool their bosses when they have to work, and they'll never fool me."  Another was, "Premature babies do not have to grow into weak individuals. Just get over it." For the record, I had been the only premature baby in the class.  Another favorite topic was, "Our culture has some sort of fixation on thinness. Thinness does not equate with beauty. If you're very thin, you are NOT pretty, and you need to do something about it, and by that, I don't mean that you need to eat candy." At four-feet-four-inches and forty-one pounds midway through fifth grade, and, incidentally, known for my love of candy., I was by far the skinniest kid in the room. and Mrs. Moore always glared directly at me when she made this speech or any of the others. Probably the most damning thing she ever said to or about me was that because my mother was a school psychologist and my father was a medical doctor, I thought I was better than the other children.  She said this to me in front of the class, but the worst part was that she apparently said it to the other children individually when I wasn't present. Near the end of my association with Mrs. Moore, several parents telephoned my mom to let her know of these indiscretions. I suppose I could have told my parents about some of the things that were said before, but it never occurred to me to do so. The teacher was always right.

Eventually the fiasco with the school picture and Mrs. Moore's public ridicule of me happened. I imploded. Other parents called my parents. I was moved not only from  Mrs. Moore's class but from that school to another one in the district into which we had just moved, and I was blessed by being placed into the class of one of God's greatest gifts to children, who was a thirty-ish man named Mr. Thatcher.  My brother and I were fortunate enough to have him the next year in sixth grade as well. Mr. Thatcher  knew how to make learning fun, knew how to make learning happen, and treated children with the respect they deserved. Education never again sank quite to such lows for me. Mr. Thatcher had a wife and young children, a church he attended regularly , and other outside interests, but one would never have known that by the focus on which he placed upon his students while at school.

I'm not quite sure why I felt the need to share this story tonight, part of which I've shared before.  Sometimes something is on a person's mind and a person cannot move on without acknowledging what is bothering him or her.

For anyone who feels called to be a teacher, or even one is limited by default to join the teaching profession because he or she feels in possession of no other professional options, remember this: you can be like Mrs. Moore, or you can be like Mr. Thatcher. Not everyone  has the skills and talents possessed by Mr. Thatcher. Regardless of  talents or inclination, though, anyone can make the conscious choice to work hard,  to put students' needs above his or her own while at school, and to be both fair and kind.  Prospective teachers, the choice is entirely yours to be either the exemplar of all teachers or the Anti-Christ of the same. .Either way, you may never know the difference you'll make.  Despite which path you take, you may read of  former students who are Nobel Prize winners, or you may read of students who have committed senseless violent crimes. You will likely produce impeccably educated students, or you may produce at least a part of a generation of semi-literates. Fate may be beyond your control in some instances.  The students are with you a mere six or seven hours per day Monday through Friday.  Still, you can skew the odds in favor of your students and of their successes.  If you must teach, be dedicated, diligent, and child- or student-centered.  You may never be thanked for all you do, but  knowing a job was well done is thanks in and of itself.

And thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Thatcher. My brother and I took the opportunity to honor you at our high school graduation, but that feels woefully inadequate in light of everything you've done for Matthew, for me, and for probably every other child with whom you've come into contact. I hope some day to make you proud.

I don't own this video. Please allow me t use it if only briefly. Thanks for your generosity.

This video is from the One Voice Choir, under the direction of Masa Fukuda. Thank your for allowing me to use the video,  however briefly it remains here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Either the Walking Pneumonia or the Augmentin is Going to KILL Me

These are gonorrhea-resistant condoms, which have absolutely nothing to do with the price of tea in China except that if they cause one's naughty bulbous parts to fell anything like Augmentin has made my digestive system feel, I would prefer to take my chances with gonorrhea.

Whoever coined the expression, "That which does not kill you makes you stronger,"  first of all had it backward.  It's more like "What doesn't make you stronger will kill you. " Secondly, I'm pretty sure the person who first uttered the words had antibiotics in general and Augmentin in particular on the brain when the immortal statement was made.

The whole principal behind antibiotics is that the bacteria wreaking havoc with one's body cannot be destroyed without also causing major damage to parts of one's body that, heretofore, were managing just fine on their own. Life and health are about sacrifice. If a person wants to rid herself of walking pneumonia, she apparently must give up  a functioning gastric system that was, in all honesty, functioning marginally in the first place.

I'm almost back to "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again" and bequeathing all my worldly possessions to my loved ones. I won't get in to my entire last will and testament here, but Meredith gets my piano -- the one in my bedroom at home that was given to me by my Godparents. My mom can have my expensive violin. Megan gets the economy violin. Caitlin gets the viola.  Alyssa gets my digital piano. Matthew can have the cello. Note to Matthew: it's OK to sell the cello if you don't want to keep it, but don't take less than 17 grand for it. It's worth more. Scott gets my Beatles, Bach,  Mozart, and Billy Joel  lithographs. Celinda gets all of my notes and study materials as long as she shares them with Jake. If celinda's little sister sophronia goes into medicine, she gets all my scrubs, my stehoscope, and other supplies.To Knotty I bequeath my status as a half-Mormon, not that she would want it. Jono gets access to my extensive  kazoo set, which probably should be sterilzed before use,  Oz Doc gets my Judith Durham recordings. Rebecca gets my color-coordinated comforters, sheets, and rugs. jillian gets my running shoes. Baby Andrew and Baby Camille can share my Suzuki violin books. La Perla gets my lithograph of  Jerry Garcia.  To Matt from the UK I bequeath any remaining codeine cough syrup in my medicine cabinet.  To Judge Alex I bequeath my continued resolve to never, ever roll my eyes again even after death.  To Donna Banta I bequeath my scripture combination autograohed by the one and only Paul H. Dunn. (It makes great kindling.)Dad can have everything else, although I'm not sure what is left that is worth having. If anyone I have omitted wants something, it's all in my closets -- one at my parents' home and one in the condo. Help yourself to the contents. You would be doing my parents a favor. If anyone around the age of thirteen wants my clothing, it will probably fit.

Without going into enough detail to make anyone who reads this as sick as I am, I tasted the In 'N Out Burger twice. I didn't enjoy it nearly as much the second time.

The person who invents an antibiotic that kills walking pneumonia without killing the patient in the process will be most deserving of a Nobel Prize.

I must now adjourn to once again pay homage to the porcelain god.


                                   less cheesy than the MoTab, but still morbid, nonetheless

I Would KILL For an In 'N Out Burger

I see this logo in my dreams.

For political reasons (not those related to Trump and his cronies, but of workplace and school politics), I cannot divulge a great deal of my present circumstances. Siffucie it to say that I was on duty for far longer than was either prudent or legal. The saving grace to the situation is that I am not yet in a position to issue orders. No one was likely to die or to suffer irreprarable harm (other than I) as a result of my incoherence incident to fatigue. Still, the policies governing our hours exist for a reason. I face no workplace jeopardy because I insisted that my workplace supervisor sign off on my hours.

I'm now on extended rest because of a nasty case of walking pneumonia. I'll survive this just as I've survived everything else. I'm presently being babysat by a nurse. She's not one of the 26-year-old nubile nurses my brother so strongly  prefers, but I'm sure she's competent. My only complaint is that she won't send for In 'N Out Burger for me. (I like my In 'N Out Burgers plain with just the bun and meat -- no sauce, no anything. I don't like their fries. They should be better than the fries from other fast food places because they use real potaties to make their fries, but for some reason they're not all that tasty to me.) Nurse Ratchet insists that I eat what she calls "real" food. The last time I checked, In 'N Out Burger contained calories, carbs, fats , and even a few grams of protein (for that matter, people have been known to grow fat on a steady diet of In 'N Out) but she apparently studied nutrition under a different professor than I did.

This, too, shall pass.

Monday, October 23, 2017

This May Be It for Me (or it may not; I've been known to be overly dramatic)

Life is not good at present. The cold doesn't really feel like a cold anymore. I lack the energy to get out of my bed to get a drink of water. I barely drag myself to the bathroom. Sometimes i just pull towels off the racks to keep myself warm and sleep on the bathroom floor. i may be dying. No nurses are here tonight. If I don't survive whatever this is, so long. It's been fun.

Ask not what your brother can do for you; ask what you can do for your brother's sex life.

Again, it's not my brother, but just try convincing the nurses of that.

To paraphrase a song from the 80's, "You know it's true, everything I do, I do it for my brother's sex life."

Regarding the comely nurses who appeared at my condo last night under the guise of preparing food for me, at least one spent the night . . . in my brother's room. I'm hoping it was only one. I'm too prudish even to think about anything in excess of a single overnight guest in his room.

As to whether or not the hospitality service will continue for an additional night, only God and the nurse know for sure.

As long as it keeps me eating well, vive l'amour, or at least vive le sexe.

I don't own this video. To whomever owns it, I appreciate its use for however long I am allowed to borrow it.

Liam Hemsworth is not my brother, but don't tell the nurses.

This is obviously not my brother, but, fortunately for me, as far as some of the nurses are concerned , he may as well be.

Alexis is officially under the weather. I know it's obnoxious to refer to oneself in the third person, but my brother did it until he was almost five, and it's a habit that rubbed off on me. Furthermore, I enjoy doing so, perhaps for the obnoxious properties of the practice as much as for any other reason.

On Friday, we had back-to-back-to-back lengthy surgeries. I've only been out of my cast for about nine days, and the duration of remaining upright for the procedures was more than my leg and knee could manage. I was able to remain upright until the final patient was sutured, and even managed to make it out of the O.R. under my power (qa good thing, because had I collapsed on the operating room floor, the cleansing process would have been of Hazmat proportions. 

As it was, I stumbled into a surgical bay before collapsing. The process still involved being lifted onto a gurney, rolled into a procedure room, and more or less hosed down, but it was less extensive than it would have been had it happened on the floor of the surgical suite.

on to of the overuse of my still-recovering fracture and knee injury, I now have an upper respiratory infection, brought on in all likelihood by the outrageous hours I've been putting in on the job. my face feels as though it may explode at any time. The virus has yet to do its real damage, which will happen when it travels down my bronchial tubes and causes me to sound like a tuberculosis patient. Because I had a pneumothorax in the late winter, my lungs will need to be monitored, which means that I will have, joy of joys,  the opportunity to be exposed to even more radiation. If I don't come down with leukemia by the age of thirty it will be only as the result of divine intervention.

When surgeons have colds, they must work through them. They wear masks, wash their hands in an OCD manner, and do all they can to protect patients, but they need to be on the job. When we flunkie med students have colds, if they're bad colds, as this one is (fever, etc.) we are banned from the premises. The risks of our presence do not outweigh the benefits. Fortunately for me, I had eleven bonus days built into this rotation. i can afford to stay home for a few of the, G=Furthermore,i'm far beyond the hours i should have worked thus far. My status in this rotation should not be jeopardized.

I have a reputation for getting on extremely well with the nursing staffs at whatever hospital to which I am assigned. i am friendly to everyone and treat my contemporaries as equals. I am appropriately deferential to the nurses who are significantly older than I. If I must make an order, i do so as mildly and as humbly as possible. Consequently, the nurses have my back. They double-check my orders before the orders go to the chief resident. My orders are usually fine, but one never knows whan an error might be made.Most if not all are technologically superior, at least when it comes to using my iPhone, than i. they come to my aid on a regular basis.

two nurses came over tonight to make chicken soup and banana nut bread for me. i'm not fooling myself into thinking it was entirely for me that they were here. they're young and single, and I have a handsome brother. Still, if they hated me, they wouldn't come here even if my brother were Liam Hemsworth.

This cold, too, will pass, as does everything else, and I will soon return to repairing inguinal hernias and removing ap[endices.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fuckface Von Clownstick i.e. The Great White Dope aka Sir Sissypants alias Cheeto Benito

I'm watching over a patient until someone else arrives. If something goes wrong, I can't do much for the poor child . . . that is,  unless something goes really, really wrong. I can, God forbid, defibrillate, intubate, or otherwise perform life-saving measures. It shouldn't get to that point, however. Let us hope not, anyway.

I've been watching news programs with one eye and listening to them with one ear as I stay with the child. Inside sources  quote Trump as having said to his chief of security, "I hate everyone in the White House."  The circumstances surrounding Trump having been called "a fucking moron" by his secretary of state have been clarified, making the original assertions of Tillerson having referred to Trump as such seem all the more credible.  Discussion of the U.S. Constitution's Twenty-Fifth Amendment is reaching the forefront (and, as much as I fear a Pence presidency, invocation of the twenty-fifth amendment is sounding like a good thing.) The president reportedly asked, when Bannon mentioned the Twenty-Fifth Amendment "What's the twenty-fifth Amendment?" Trump reportedly asked. Republican legislators have speculated [only partially in jest] concerning Kelly and other Cabinet members  restraining Trump in the event that he lunges for the nuclear football in a fit of rage.

What are the possible outcomes? These immediate crises could blow over, and as likely as not, will, though the next set of crises could be every bit as serious if not more so. The cabinet could decide Trump isn't fit to hold office and could invoke the Twenty-Fifth Amendment in removing him from office. Trump could quit in a fit of anger. Trump could have a stroke or heart attack in a fit of anger. Congress could impeach Trump, and he could quit before he is tried in the impeachment proceedings. Or Trump could be tried and removed from office by the senate in impeachment proceedings (I have no idea what the charges against Trump might be, and this option wouldn't be a quick solution.) 

Things are not looking great for us here in the U.S. A residency in Canada is looking like a better option with each passing day, not that North Korea wouldn't accidentally hit Canada with one of their nukes after Trump nukes them first and if they had the distance but not the accuracy to get their nuke here.

My Role In Facilitating My Brother's Sex Life and other musings . . .

It's probably foolish for me to use the little time I have to blog rather than to sleep, eat, have a long shower or soak in the tub, or study. I arrived home at just after 9:00 p.m. following a seventeen-hour shift. My brother was entertaining his latest paramour when I walked in, but I was too tired  to make it upstairs to my bedroom and too tired even to care. I fell asleep on the living room sofa within seconds of entering the condo. The two of them either called it a night or relocated to the privacy of Matthew's bedroom. If they had any major action going on, they were at least polite enough to keep their moans quiet enough not to disturb my sleep. Unless one of them has to be at work early, I'll probably never know whether I put the kibosh on their night of passion or actually accelerated it. C'est la vie.

In any event, I awoke five hours later feeling as though I'd gotten a full night's sleep. I'm probably awake for good now. There's still ample time to bathe, eat, and even to get in a bit of study before returning to work in another three hours or so.

After completing a period of travel and interviews in preparation for my residency, I'm now fulfilling a four-week subinternship in the area of pediatric surgery.  Following two years of formal classroom education in the parts and functions of the  human body and in  various maladies and injuries interfering with said functions, and following more than a year of required and optional clinical training in multiple areas, my medical school career is winding down. I've completed all units of study required of every student.  Now I need only to get through this  subinternship, complete another subinternship in pediatric medicine (I've chosen to complete a second subinternship, this one in pediatric medicine,  rather than to fulfill an additional clerkship rotation), and to complete three additional elective clerkships.  Besides Christmas break, I will have one additional (and much-needed) block of  time off. Even more important to me, that light of the end of the tunnel that has for so long eluded me is finally beginning to come into view.

A subinternship is a sort of trial internship in a selected field of medicine. A sub-intern is given a greater patient volume and greater responsibility than a regular medical school student would be given in a rotation and is treated much as an intern would be treated except that legality doesn't permit a sub-intern to enter patient orders. (A senior resident handles that duty.)  It's a time to show one's skills, ideally in a positive light. It's also a time to confirm one's interest in a particular field of medicine. Realistically, it's a time to show off ever so slightly.

It's still very early in my subinternship. I haven't yet had any opportunity to show off, which is to be expected. Early in one's subinternship, the goal is more along the lines of not exposing any glaring weaknesses, not committing any professional breaches or faux pas,  and of not making a total fool of oneself. The opportunities to strut one's stuff will come later.

My cast has been removed. I limped noticeably for several days, but the limp grew less noticeable with each day of freedom from the cast.  If you've never had a cast on your leg or foot, it's probably difficult for you to imagine regaining the skill of walking following removal of a cast. Even if there were no injury involved, with one's leg in a cast  -- even a walking cast, which my cast was not --  the cast is doing much of the work involved in supporting the leg and the entire body.  When the cast is removed, the leg has temporarily forgotten how to function. I'm now walking relatively limp-free and am eagerly awaiting my doctor's OK to run once again.  Today I scrubbed in for a nearly four-hour surgery. My leg barely held out. Had it gone another twenty minutes, I would have needed to excuse myself, which, though probably understandable, wouldn't have done much in the way of creating a favorable impression on my second day on the job in this sub-internship. I'm really glad things ended when they did.

I believe I touched upon my technological ineptitude in a recent blog post.  A friend was curious as to how I got to the point at which I now am with so few cell phone skills. I think I detailed the explanation both to him and on the blog,  I thought about it a bit more as I was waiting around for the senior resident to make her appearance. (Though I cannot enter the orders, I draft them and then wait around for a senior resident to look them over, make necessary changes, and enter them.)  

I will complete medical school at roughly the age most people start. If you're into statistics, my age of  twenty-three years in June would probably be the mode, or most frequently appearing age, for students entering med school. Those with outlying ages have far greater variance in ages above the mode than in ages below it  It's not uncommon to have a forty-year-old entering a med school program (the mode age + 17 years) but we don't have, at least here in the U.S., students 17 years below the mode age, or six years of age, beginning medical school. Thus, both the mean and median ages for entering medical school students are above what my age will be in June, but twenty-three is single the most common age of students upon entry to medical school, with twenty-two being second (and first in some years; it's getting slightly older with kindergarten entrance ages of various states gradually getting higher). 

I started and will finish early because a) I have a late birthdate relative to the kindergarten entrance age; I turned five on December 2 of my kindergarten year, which was at the  time in California was the very latest birthdate allowed for a student entering kindergarten; b)  I skipped one grade of middle school by completing just one semester of seventh grade and one semester of eight grade; c) I completed two university courses in each year of high school  and took a heavy load of academic placement courses, which allow university credit with passage of associated exams in conjunction with the course work  Had I not completed both music performance and microbiology majors, I could have completed my undergraduate degree program in just two years rather than the three  that it took me.

My academic accomplishments from the ages of four to nineteen were in excess of what the average student accomplishes in those years.  My level of intelligence, while certainly adequate, is not highly unusual, nor would I be considered even an unusually high achiever by most standards.   The only way for me to achieve what I did achieve in the interval of time in which I achieved it was for me to have forsaken some pursuits or activities in favor of those I chose.  Looking at the person I am now, it seems clear that I neglected social and technological areas in favor of academic pursuits. I am by no means suggesting or recommending the same course for anyone else. I'm not even sure that it was the wisest path for me to have followed.  Rather, I am acknowledging that a person cannot accomplish one thing without sacrificing something else; what I gave up was a large portion of a social life and much of the technological experience typical for a person of my age.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Technological Nerds Vs. Any Other Kinds of Nerds

I lack the technological savvy that is characteristic of most nerdy people of my generation.  For safety reasons into which I would prefer not to delve right now, my parents limited and closely monitored my access to the Internet when I was in middle school and high school. For both security and financial reasons I would prefer not to discuss at this time, my parents limited my cell phone privileges to a device that had no texting or Internet capacity and limited my calling capacity to the seven numbers they programmed into the phone. I could have purchased a decent phone sooner than I did, but I was sufficiently busy with the ordeal of completing my two-and-one-half major [including pre-med] undergraduate studies that I neither needed nor wanted the hassle even of going to the trouble of purchasing a new phone, much less the headaches associated with learning to use the more complicated phone. Consequently, it wasn't until I was in medical school that I got my cell phone that didn't look like a toy. That first "real" phone was soon upgraded not much later to the iPhone 7 plus that I now have.

My computer skills are on the low end of functional for someone in my position as a medical school student. I can accomplish everything I need to do as a medical school student on a computer with relative ease. Some things I do not do just because I don't want to do them, but all things considered, my delayed exposure to technology has not significantly gotten in the way of my doing anything work-related that I need to do. I can operate technologically-based surgical equipment including various scopes (endoscopes, laparoscopes, etc.). I  must ensure that I am wearing corrective lenses of some sort in order to be able to see what I need to see with regard to these devices, but I am otherwise not technologically impaired with regard to my current educational endeavors and my future profession.

I am, however,  still somewhat limited with regard to my cell phone usage. I was communicating with a friend of mine via a particular application when the application displayed on my screen a promotion of some sort. There wasn't an arrow or cursor to exit the page. When I exited the application, the same display came up whenever I again clicked on the link for the application. My friend tried to talk me through exiting the application's rather aggressive attempt to sell me an upgraded version of the free application I was using.  I clicked on my standard text-messaging application and text my friend that I would fix the app issue later.  My friend told me to hit my home button (He even told me, "The home button is the round white button at the bottom of your phone." I concede to not being the sharpest Crayola in a 64-pack, but, dotard though I am,  even I know what the home button is.) He immediately called me to berate me for my ineptitude and for my temperament, saying that I give up too easily. He asked me what I would do if I were operating and had difficulty removing a patient's appendix. Would I just give up and walk away, my friend wondered aloud, leaving the patient on the operating table with an inflamed appendix and an open abdominal cavity?

Of course I would do no such thing, I told my friend . . .  unless the appendix really was all that difficult to get out and I genuinely had more important things to be doing with my time.  I went on to detail my prowess as a surgeon-in-training, including [but not limited to] my strength with regard to the skill of suturing. I went on to somewhat boast of the aesthetic properties of my suturing ability. I'm not sure my friend believed anything I told him, and I can't entirely say that I blame him, as there may have been an element of bullshit in what I said.  (I do have a flair for stitching, though, if I may say so myself without being accused of the sin of narcissism).

Later, I clicked the app on my phone again, again got the display trying to sell me a vastly superior version of the app I was using for free. Through trial and error i determined that the easiest way out of the sales pitch was to click on an option that read "Demo Message," which then gave the user the option of sending a text as usual, or of returning to the app's home page. The following day, when I returned to my home area, I was able to relocate on the application that very same sales pitch message. I handed my phone with that message on the screen to one of my colleagues whose undergraduate major had been computer engineering. He clicked a few things, then was successful at exiting. I asked him how he had gotten free of the sales pitch page. He told me that the easiest way to exit that page while staying in the app was to click on "Demo Message." I found it odd that a person with all of the iPhone expertise of my colleague recommended the same solution I found for myself.

While it is humbling to be as challenged in using my iPhone as I am, I'm allowed to have a weakness or two, or maybe even three, four, or five. I cannot draw. I'm sometimes irrational if my temperature is above 103 degrees Fahrenheit.  I have a minor processing disorder that delays my ability to access information from my brain so that, when I am asked a question, I sometimes have  to pretend to cough or use another delaying tactic for the five to ten seconds that I need for data retrieval. I have difficulty accessing many of the features of my  iPhone. I don't deal effectively with extremely stupid people. Those (in addition to a possible lack of humility) are what I would perceive to be my five greatest weaknesses. I'm not particularly proud of my weaknesses, but I own them.