Thursday, June 22, 2006


Dear Reader(s),

Shrink or Fade will be taking a short break here. I'd like to thank you(s) for reading. It's really been fun getting to know those of you I've gotten to know, and being curious about those I haven't (but hope to). I'll see you back here in maybe a week or so.

Very truly yours,


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Aren't Pigeons Asleep At Night?

In the interest of protecting patients' rights and civil liberties, we are obligated to let patients have any items they wish, unless the items are directly dangerous.

This morning, one of the guys asked permission to have a set of infrared binoculars. Ostensible reason for request: nocturnal birdwatching.

This one I'm having a little trouble believing.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Impressive List

Some people think it would be fun to be manic. I doubt it. It can certainly be exhausting.

A letter handed to me Friday morning at Green Acres

“Dear Sir,

I have been told that I am not capable to care for myself. I disagree with this statement. I am one of the smartest people in the Smallish State. I have done everything listed below:

1) Built gas stations
2) Built & rebuilt cars— rust proofing.
3) Invented roller covers, trays, sticks, angle brushes.
4) Faux painted houses, custom painting, used different tools.
5) Business cards— full color laser printer.
6) Fractal postcards, holograms.
7) Phone and Central Smallish State Power— erected.
8) Install outlets, switches, boxes, wire.
9) Fireproof & built woodstoves.
10) Install windows
11) GM: told to make smaller cars.
12) Worked with dyes on clothes.
13) Custom designed ladies clothes.
14) Invented metal ladder.
15) Worked at [Restaurant]. Started as dishwasher, trained kids, left being most respected by all, bar, dishes, head chef, waitresses.
16) Greenhouse: first. Bulbs: first. Personal gardening.
17) Custom built houses and lay floors.
18) Worked with kids & disabled adults. Invented wheelchair.
19) Started C.A.R.E. and Red Cross.
20) Helped build [Smallish State beach resort town.]
21) Silk screened clothes.
22) Log cabin: built. Dome house: built.
23) First in-ground and above-ground pools.
24) Helped take 2 houses—put large furniture in house—built house around furniture.
25) Delivered all babies in Smallish State.
26) Ice fishing traps, smelting.
27) First pair of jeans, T-shirt, sneakers, socks underwear.
28) Invented Christmas.
29) Clocks. Time of day. Documented sun and moon from here and from CA, FL, MA.
30) Computers
31) In car stereos.
32) Changed cars.
33) Invented and changed baseball & football & uniforms & shoes.
34) Donated money.
35) Art: I made up word.
36) Antique: I made up word.
37) Updated books for 2005.
38) Read lots of books.
39) Research old books and churches to change schools.
40) Could be next president.
41) Will meet with Bill & Hillary Clinton—possible George Bush.
42) Traffic light system design.
43) Turnpike design.
44) Space shuttle: designed it.
45) More respect from more styles of people than any other person.
46) Electric typewriter.
47) Electric and rechargeable drills & saws.
48) Changed saw blade.
49) Planted trees—20 year plan—started age 4.
50) Have Martin Luther King’s book with pictures. Limited.
51) Have JFK book. Limited.
52) Have John Lennon book. Limited.
53) Own CD player plus CD’s.
54) Designed table at this building.
55) Hot water heater: 1st.
56) Electric heat: 1st.
57) Gas stove: 1st.
58) First trailer
59) First cement style walls in place to live—in ground.
60) Invented using old bricks to make sidewalk.
61) Post office boxes.
62) Coffee, French fries, bread, donuts, muffins, cookies, cake, pizza, Italians: invented all.
63) Trade bananas for clothes.
64) Working on huge yard sale east to west with clothes, stuff.
65) Need to check towers, dams.
66) Had cement mixer and sand bags ready for emergency.
67) All children delivered alive & well.
68) All trees cut for homes or to burn already replaced.
69) Need to figure-- recycle old tires and old style steel mowers, cars, etc.
70) Lined brick chimneys with stove pipe, clean stoves, matches, torches.
71) Copper tubing & PVC pipe & clay pipe.
72) Complete portfolio on faux finish work.
73) First skate board, board games, Big Wheel, comic books.
74) Write music, TV, movies, Rolling Stone, National Geographic.
75) Made up card games.
76) Tennis court, Olympics, basketball, batting average.
77) Outdoor & indoor running water, tubs, showers, sinks, hot water heater.
78) Eyeglasses
79) Car seats for kids, safety belt, stroller, backpack, maps.
80) I-95 truck stops.
81) Changed tints for clothes and house paint, mud for sheetrock.
82) TV, VCR, CD
83) Sponsor young people poor other countries.
84) Cements, taps, glues, sheet rock screws.
85) TV shows, move shows, song, book writer.
86) Lay floor tile, wood floor, carpet flood.
87) Electric razor
88) Worked with all styles of equipment.
89) Sunglasses.
90) Smallish State organic farmer and growers association: started it.
91) Bread, donuts—1st.
92) Scanners on items for electronic checkout system at register: invented.
93) Wrote to stop boxing and wrestling.
94) Worked with fishermen."

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Question for Neighborhood Ethicists

One time (and I emphasize, it was the ONE time) I had a dog in my back yard for about 15 minutes, and he was about to leave, but in the meantime he was barking. It was early evening. My closest neighbor, whose house borders my yard and is ten feet from the TurboPalace (same neighbor from this story) immediately telephoned, irate. "That barking needs to stop at once," he said angrily, "it is waking my children. Please see to it."

We got the dog in the car. I was embarassed and contrite. I believe that was the only time a loud noise has come out of the Turbopalace.

And yet, on the flip side, Neighbor has sired two new children in the four years since I moved here. Between them, for four years, there has been top-of-the-lung screaming every bath time (note that we do not use air conditioning here in the Smallish City, so our windows are generally open all summer.) This morning, for the third weekend morning in a row, the youngsters have awakened me before 6:30 a.m. via a screeching serenade of off-key nursery rhymes from their backyard, just below my bedroom. And in all probability, before too long, Neighbor himself will be out on the back steps with his accordian, which he plays unsolicited nearly every day, to the delight of all polka fans within roughly a one-block radius.

I've never said a word about any of this. I try to tell myself that kids just naturally make early-morning noise, and everyone knows bath time is intolerable, and the accordian-playing may be the product of mental illness. But really, it's getting old. What's the right thing to do?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

This Is Not A "Cat Blog"

And yet, on rare occasions, we here at SoF receive information about cats which we feel compelled to pass on to our readers. Today we have quite a rare tidbit.

Research (Google) has turned up a photographic image of "Mrs. Chippy", the cat who accompanied Ernest Shackleton aboard Endeavour for the famed ill-fated Antarctic expedition. Interestingly, Mrs. Chippy was actually a boy cat. But that's beside the point. The point is that my good friend 9 bears a striking resemblance to Mrs. Chippy. There's no denying it: they could be father and son.

9 has always been adventurous, particularly in the cold. Once, in February, in Vermont, he disappeared for ten days. He returned hoarse, malnourished, dehydrated and bedraggled-- possibly he had gone to the North Pole and back. So I have long suspected that he may be descended from famous explorer-cats, and this new photographic evidence strongly supports my theory.

I will be mounting an expedition to Antarctica this winter to search for Mrs. Chippy's remains and obtain DNA samples which can be used to confirm 9's ancestry. I will need a stout wooden boat, sixty sled dogs, and 700lbs of pemican. Anyone wishing to join the expedition may submit his or her qualifications to this site.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Gorilla Milk: Antidote to Liver Disease?

NPR this morning reported on recent medical findings that coffee consumption may protect against liver damage in alcoholism. Not just slightly, but robustly. In fact, in this study, alcoholics who consumed four cups of joe a day had one-fifth the incidence of liver cirrhosis, compared to those who drink no coffee (where the found the latter group is somewhat a mystery to me.)

This news is of particular import here in the Smallish State. You may recall I mentioned last week that Moxie is the official beverage of the Smallish State. I forgot, however, to mention that the unofficial state beverage is Allen’s Coffee Brandy. If you don’t live here, you’d have trouble imagining the significance of this product. ACB is usually combined with milk into a concoction known as a “sombrero” or “gorilla milk” (or, as I just learned, “fat ass in a glass”). It is consumed in vast quantities, from the streets of Smallish City (I have found empty bottles in my driveway) to the most remote logging sites of the north woods. And when I say “vast quantities”, I mean that in the Smallish State ACB outsells the next-best-selling hard alcohol by a factor of 2:1. And has done so, year in and out, for decades. Everyone here can list the advantages of ACB—it’s cheap, it’s sweet, it goes down easy, and the caffeine keeps you awake to run the skidder, chainsaw, or maple syrup evaporater all night long. What no one can really explain is why the rest of the country, let alone world, doesn’t guzzle the stuff the way we do. (See recent Washington Post article for more information.)

But back to the point, which is that by combining alcohol and coffee directly in our state drink, Smallish State residents may for years have been protecting themselves against liver damage. Truly, this should be looked into. I might do it. And I might buy stock in Allen’s before I publish my findings.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I Know I'm Staff, Because I Have The Keys

I was just thinking, this morning, how strange it would now seem to work in a place where all the doors were open. Where you could move from hallway to conference room to office to outdoors without unlocking every door you pass through, and making sure that it locks again behind you.

I just did a rough estimate, and figure I unlock at least 7,000 doors annually at Green Acres. Minimum 35,000 since I started here. Quite possibly twice that. This has got to have some sort of effect on a person's psyche. I wonder if anyone has studied it...

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Green Acres Interlude

At the end of a treatment meeting this morning:

Dr. Turbo: "Anything else on your mind, before we wrap up?"
Patient: "Yes. I would just like to say that it is safer to wave fish-sticks at a tree than to wave fish-sticks at a cat."

(Have never tried taunting 9 in this way... perhaps that will be tonight's entertainment.)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Green Acres Interlude

Patient, approaching me in hallway: "B-minus."
Dr. Turbo: "Excuse me?"
Patient: "B-minus. That's your grade."

Exit Patient, stage right.

They might as well be dead, if the rain comes.

Rain. The weather's fine.

It rained all day yesterday in the Smallish State. And all day today. And it's predicted to rain tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

Rain, I don't mind.

Shine, the weather's fine.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Green Acres Interlude

From nursing sign-out this morning: "Mrs. P refused to go to sleep last night until staff came to check her bedroom for crocodiles."

Reportedly, none were found.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Water World

This weekend was 517’s extended bachelor party, which involved 11 guys trucking several hours north, beyond the rim of civilization, to where the moose and blackflies reign. The itinerary read as follows: camping out Friday night, a long dirt-road shuttle in a decrepit schoolbus Saturday morning, running the south outlet from Moosehead Lake (class II-IV) in inflatable kayaks, rendezvous at lunchtime with powerboat at northern end of Indian Pond, get towed (in kayaks) five miles to island at mid-point of the pond (it's a big pond), camp out on island with lobster dinner, get up early, get towed another several miles to the other end of the pond, switch to 14-foot rafts, and run the Kennebec (class II-V) 12 miles back to where we camped Friday.

And all this might have been an excellent plan, except for one small point: In the Smallish State, nowadays, it rains non-stop. Which is exactly what it did from late Friday until—well, it’s still raining. We became very familiar with the feeling of being wet and cold, in a wetsuit. Lunch on Saturday involved standing in the woods in a downpour eating sandwiches and chips off plates which periodically had to be tipped into order to drain off the water. And the tow-across-the-lake scheme was simply a textbook case of “how to induce hypothermia”. The “tents” provided by the outfitter leaked hideously. I tried to adjust the rainfly on ours, and it shredded in my hand like tissue paper.

For a brief period Saturday night we did get a smoky fire going. More importantly for morale, a flask of whiskey made endless circles. It was periodically refilled by the best man; in the morning we discovered we’d consumed a bottle of Jameson, a bottle of Black Velvet (thanks, Canadian friends), a bottle of Crown Royal (why are you shipping all this stuff south to us?), and a “handle” of Jim Beam. Foof. One young fellow got rowdy and had to be restrained from entering the fire several times.

In the morning the rain persisted. The eldest member of the group, in his 50’s, proclaimed mournfully that he was “still hammahd”. Some cans of Moxie (the official beverage of the Smallish State) were produced to ward off the ill effects from the previous night. The wetsuits felt like climbing naked into graves of cold mud. Again we were towed in the “duckies” across the lake, arriving at the other end numb and bluish. On to the rafts and four hours of repeated submersion under slate-grey spitting skies, finally hauling our pruned and shivering asses out just about at the limit of endurance.

Never have dry clothes felt so good. I feel like we’ve earned the right to attend the wedding, now.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Not So Professional

Sorry, dear reader(s), for the absence. I haven't had much to say, and it's been kind of a humorless week (and I was always taught, if you can't say something funny, don't say anything at all.)

So, I still don't have much to tell you. But thought maybe I'd share an excerpt from the Smallish State Board Of Medicine newsletter, which came in the mail today. These are remarks made by Smallish State docs which precipitated complaints to the Board. (Please keep in mind, some of the persons making the complaints may not be sane.)

- "Come back when you have a real problem." (How many times have I been tempted to say this?)
- "So you could be called Mick Spick?" (Presumably to a Hispanic person named Micheal?)
- "You have Medicare? Then I've already paid for your baby." (Nice)
- "You are just S.O.L. then."
- "You have Beautiful Eyes" (I don't know why the capital B and E)
- "Perhaps your child needs a vibrator." (Hard to know-- maybe it made sense in context?)
- "I could prescribe something that would kill you." (Allegedly, this statement was made to a child. Of course, this is a factual statement, and you should never lie to a patient. So if the kid asked, well...)
- "Sounds like you have CRS Syndrome" (No idea what that means-- anyone?)
- "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am" (Reportedly a description of a pelvic exam. Not so cool.)
- "I'm going to hire someone to have you shot." (Okay, now this sounds like a complaint from Green Acres...)
- "Autism is like 'scrambled brains' " (I thought that was "your brain on drugs"? I wish they would get this straight.)
- "I got my degree from a matchbook cover." (Again, a perennial G.A. accusation.)
- "Do you need to go to Big Psychiatric Hospital?" (This might have been quite appropriate, depending.)