Friday, November 30, 2007

You know what I was thinking would be Smallish State sexy?  See-thru Polarfleece.  Now why hasn't that been invented yet?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Thoreau (and Thoreau quoting Milton) on climbing the Smallish State's highest, wildest peak. Or at least, that's ostensibly what he is describing. There is more in it, of course.

"Some part of the beholder, even some vital part, seems to escape through the loose grating of his ribs as he ascends. He is more lone than you can imagine. There is less of substantial thought and fair understanding in him, than in the plains where men inhabit. His reason is dispersed and shadowy, more thin and subtle, like the air. Vast, Titanic, inhuman Nature has got him at disadvantage, caught him alone, and pilfers him of some of his divine faculty. She does not smile on him as in the plains. She seems to say sternly, 'Why came ye here before your time? This ground is not prepared for you. Is it not enough that I smile in the valleys? I have never made this soil for thy feet, this air for thy breathing, these rocks for thy neighbors. I cannot pity nor fondle thee here, but forever relentlessly drive thee hence to where I am kind. Why seek me where I have not called thee, and then complain because you find me but a stepmother? Shouldst thou freeze or starve, or shudder thy life away, here is no shrine, nor altar, nor any access to my ear.'

'Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy
With purpose to explore or to disturb
The secrets of your realm, but as my way
Lies through your spacious empire up to light.' "

A Green Acres Interlude

Dr. Turbo:  "So, the notes here say you had some struggles with alcohol abuse in the past.  Is that right?"
Patient:  Oh, yes, back when I was human I was an alcoholic.  Now that I am inhuman, I don't drink at all.
Dr. Turbo: [At a loss for a response.]

Monday, November 26, 2007

Results Not Statistically Significant

As an experiment, over the past couple weeks, I've tried cutting by about 2/3 my consumption of all forms of sugar, simple carbs, caffeine, alcohol, and aspartame*.

So far I don't feel noticeably different in any way. I am starting to question the "you are what you eat" mantra. If I continue to feel no different on this regimen, I am considering increasing my consumption of all the above substances to double the usual baseline amount and see if that has an effect.

* I had to make several exceptions for the day on Thanksgiving, but I don't think that interfered materially with the experiment.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sort Of Like A Rorschach Test On Himself

At my childhood home for Thanksgiving. Favorite And Only Nephew is here and has done some fine artwork. He informs me that the paintings are:
A Dog

A Rocket

A Race Car

No one can accuse FAON of being one of those banal "realist" artists that have become so tedious in recent years. No, he works in impressionistic abstractions. But he is very sure of what he sees.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Empty Office

I have yet to establish a firm "no-show" policy for my private practice, but I very much need to do so. My last two new-client appointments-- one on Friday, one today-- have both failed to materialize. Both were referred by colleagues, made the appointments very recently, indicated a sense of urgency, and expressed gratitude that I could see them so quickly. Then, they just didn't come. So I'm sitting around the office, not making any income. It's crap.

What's the right policy for this? One local shrink makes prospective clients sign an agreement, before making the first appointment, stating that if they do not show up they will be charged the full fee for the session, but never allowed to reschedule. This seems draconian. What is fair?

I was reading a book yesterday which contained a chapter on how to out-source your routine business needs to India. It is tempting to hire someone in Bangalore to make reminder phone calls each night to all the patients I have scheduled for the next day...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pricey Stuff

My parents (and grandparents) are thrifty shoppers. They taught me, probably before I was 8, how to divide the price of a grocery item by its weight or volume to get an absolute price-per-unit that could be compared between brands or sizes. It became habit for me to do this at the supermarket. Even when I finished residency and had some extra money, I would still sometimes find myself wasting minutes in front of, say, the spaghetti section, calculating whether a 20oz box of Prince pasta at $1.38 was a better deal than a 1lb box of Ronzoni at $1.12.

So I've been very appreciative of the recent trend at supermarkets to show, on the shelf label, the actual price-per-unit. This doesn't really save me much money, but, given my little compulsion, it does save me a lot of time.

Some things, though, don't get marked with the per-unit price. Such as pharmaceuticals. Today I had to pick up a little tube of steroid eye ointment. It contained 3.5 grams and cost $78. Of course, it was only 0.1% active ingredient-- or 0.0035 grams. I did the math, and it comes out to about $664,772 per ounce. Yep. I think the stuff is worth considerably more, per ounce, than my eye itself.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

GlacierSound 7.1

My mom is a shrink. My dad is an electronics and software engineer. I could've gone either way. In the early days, I was headed more for the latter side of the spectrum. I spent many childhood hours wiring devices to electroplate dimes, building electric generators that ran off the garden hose, and writing programs in BASIC for the TRS-80. In fact, if it hadn't come to my sudden attention in 8th grade that messing with computers was sure to be the final nail in the already-closing coffin of my adolescent social life, I probably would've ended up working here. One of the even-geekier, even-less-popular kids, who was a grade behind and shared the computer lab with me at recess, went on to get a computer science degree from Stanford and is now a vice president at Google. I imagine he has no trouble getting dates now, but back in those dark days it was unthinkable that a girl would even speak to him, and it was considered virtually certain that he would never, ever have sex with a human.

Anyway, I have some regrets about my somewhat-hasty decision to repudiate the silicon chip, and there remains deep within me a barely suppressed delight with wires, electrons, rheostats, and if-then statements. Every now and then I indulge it, usually without any resulting fires or appliance death, and so more or less harmlessly. A few nights ago the urge struck me to put together an analog "passive matrix decoding system" to get the surround-sound feature out of DVD's (as described here). I used my c. 1997 stereo, my c. 1981 bookshelf speakers, a pair of little computer speakers that Co-Chief left with me many years ago, $8 worth of parts from Radio Shack, and a few bits of wire and stuff from the depths of the junk drawer.

Can I just say, it sounds AWESOME. I mean, it's really cool. I think I am almost as proud of this as I was of making a successful sun/moon celestial navigation sextant cross-plot during the sailing trip last fall. Three friends have informed me that tinkering with home audio projects is a clear "warning sign" of an impending "second adolescence". Well, so what if it is. Maybe I'll get offered a job at Google this time around.

Friday, November 09, 2007

It's Serene, But I Don't Dare Move

I’m up at Green Acres again for a few days, covering for a colleague who is on vacation. I’m borrowing his office while he’s away. I don’t know him well, but it’s clear from the décor that I am not nearly so meditative a clinician as he. As I sit at the computer, I’m actually bit fearful of moving my arms too far from the keyboard, lest I knock over one or more of the relaxation objects. From my chair here I can see:

-- Two serenity fountains (with polished stones, terraced miniature waterfalls, and bamboo spouts.)
-- Three Buddhas of varying size and material
-- 11 crystals (mostly quartz, some natural, some dyed blue or green)
-- 8 CDs of healing music (Native American, Asian, New Age, Other)
-- Three origami cranes, two origami frogs, one origami ?moose ?elk ?reindeer.
-- Three aromatherapy dispensers, four vials of aromatherapy oils (also one thing that looks like a Glade air freshener.)
-- One Japanese suiseki
-- Two bonsai trees
-- One set “Zen cards”
-- A lot of small books, neatly displayed, with titles like “Spiritual Insights from the Great Traditions”, and covers featuring lush nature photos.
-- A print of an unusual painting featuring a large pig leaping off a small dock into a bucolic pond at twilight.
-- One container of sugar-free Coffee Mate non-dairy creamer, vanilla-caramel flavor.
-- One Gund miniature stuffed duck toy.
-- And perhaps the only thing that we both own: A copy of Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning

While writing progress notes this morning I put on the “Creative Mind System” CD, which contains music with “breakthrough audio processes” proven to “boost lateral ‘out of the box’ thinking by 20-39% in six weeks.” So far today my progress notes seem to reflect just my usual level of fabulous creativity. But maybe if I put these tunes on my iPod I’ll be coming up with really good stuff by Christmas.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Domain Names I Wish I'd Registered Before Someone Else Got Them, Part I

Oh, what I could've done with that one!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Port In A Storm

Bad choice, scheduling the hardwood floor refinishing to coincide with the biggest storm of the year in the Smallish State. The Turbopalace is uninhabitable due to furniture dislocation, extreme dust, and floors that can't be walked on. Meanwhile hurricane Noel bears north to side-swipe us with (predicted) 3-6" of rain, 60mph winds, and ocean waves of 25 feet or more. Already the sky is steely, the temperature is plummeting, and the breeze is kicking up. It's virtually certain that the bathroom ceiling will start to leak again, but I can't even get to that part of the house until tomorrow.

On the brighter side, I have taken refuge at 518's house (they're away on a trip.) I'm ensconced in front of their soapstone stove, with old steam radiators hissing in the backround. I've raided their cupboards for a toasted almond-butter sandwich and a bowl of corn chowder. Upstairs they left me clean sheets on the bed, a pile of clean towels, and even some fuzzy slippers. It's cozy and peaceful here.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” - Thoreau

Here is something I have been wondering lately: If you could have love, money, fame, and truth, plus wisdom, respect, health, intelligence, and good looks-- or, none of these things, but have instead perpetual happiness-- which would you pick? In other words, could you choose actual happiness over the things that are commonly supposed to bring happiness? Or would you have trouble believing that you could possibly be happy as a poor, unknown, homely, sickly simpleton? I think we all tend to believe that such a life must needs be unhappy. But I often think the objective evidence often points otherwise.

All Fingers

Through minor accidents over the past several days I have injured the tips of both of my thumbs. The first incident was a freak accident involving the foil top on a wine bottle; it had a sharp edge and sliced open my right thumb razor-style. The left thumb suffered a similar insult two days later, the culprit this time being a bare edge of sheet metal while trying to install some new speakers in the non-Turbomobile. Now it's extremely painful to do simple tasks like opening my laptop or using chopsticks, and as much as possible I am avoiding use of my thumbs-- which makes daily activities rather more challenging. I don't know who came up with the phrase "all thumbs" to describe a clumsy person, but "no thumbs" would be just as appropriate.

In other news, I am thrown into a minor state of panic by the knowledge that a crew of workers will be invading the Turbopalace tomorrow morning to begin refinishing the hardwood floors. I've been putting off this project for five years, I think with good reason, but now there is no turning back. I'll be sleeping over at 518's for a few days, if you're looking for me.