Thursday, January 18, 2007

Some Say In Ice

From what I hear, when your world falls apart, it sometimes looks like a glass chandelier crashing in slow motion to a cold marble floor—every hard, delicate piece following the same line downwards, striking, and breaking.

I also hear it can sometimes look like a slab of ice loosened from the roof of a speeding vehicle—one moment tenaciously grasping, the next moment free and flying spectacular summersaults, but following again an inevitable trajectory to the pavement and shattering destruction.

In any case it seems always that something crystalline is involved and destroyed, order reduced suddenly to entropy, the years of energy saved suddenly released into fragments that still glint and gleam but are nothing.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Green Acres: Decor Questions

Do you think it is a good or bad idea for a coed, inpatient psychiatric facility to put up Valentine's Day decorations? (Pink hearts, cupids, etc.) What about holding a Valentine's Day dance? (Note that facility policy "strongly discourages" physical intimacy between patients.)

And then there's Halloween-- Are carboard decorations of headstones, skeletons, and witches "fun" or "inappropriate"? Should staff be allowed to paint their faces green with fake scars?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Form-al Thought Disorder

Today I had to fill out an official, pre-printed form for a federal agency, which read in part:


No kidding—the U.S. Government now spells “your” without an “o”. Sounds like Texas? Perhaps not a coincidence.

Anyway, this question always cracks me up, because it reminds me of the inane military forms in “Alice’s Restaurant” (and also, less humorously, of the McCarthy hearings). Unfortunately, though, it is a standard query on doctor paperwork every time you apply for anything. If just once, thirty years ago, a patient sued you for, oh, let’s say, waking her up too early in the morning—well then, for the rest of your career you have to answer “YES, I’VE BEEN SUED” to this question every time it comes around on the guitar, and endure all the additional questions and investigations that will result.

What would be much more useful is a form for applicants to administrative and bureaucratic positions. It would read:


Things That Drive Me Bonkers, I

The Green Acres voicemail system. It requires 17 keystrokes to listen to and delete one voicemail. How many voicemails do you think I average, in a day?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Kind Of Like A Game Of Pong

My Subaru has travelled 28,985 miles since it was born last January 11. But it hasn't left New England, and only twice travelled more than 100 miles from home.

A Green Acres Interlude

Psychiatrist: The team thinks you’re doing great. You’re ready to go home. When would you like us to arrange a ride for you?
Patient: How about a week from Friday?
Psychiatrist: A week from Friday? Why so long? We could get you home tomorrow or the day after at the latest.
Patient: The guy isn’t coming to turn my cable back on until a week from Friday.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Motivational Posters of Green Acres (Part III of an occasional series.)

In a previous post, we discussed a motivational poster featuring the Great Wall of China. As you’ll recall, the poster’s message is that when many people work together, they can achieve remarkable things (such as building the Wall.)

Proceeding down the hallway a few feet and through a door, one encounters the next motivational poster. This one displays an idyllic, soft-focus photograph of a wooden bridge, such as you might find in a Japanese garden. The text below reads:

Build bridges, not walls

I must admit that even with my advanced cynicism-detection, the humor of this whole arrangement escaped me for over a year. Now that I see it, though, I crack up almost every time I pass down the hallway. Who arranged the posters this way? Was it just random, or was there wicked genius at work? We may never know.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Big Heavy Things, Part II

Call me Sisyphus.

Less than a year ago, 517 persuaded my to spend a perfectly good Saturday morning moving an almost certainly bad Saab engine from his parents' shed, into a pickup, twenty miles down the road, out of the pickup, and into his garage. He intended to transplant it into an another Saab.

Then last month 517 got me to help him move an ancient, defective-looking, sharp-edged, and almost certainly tetanus-infested woodstove from his garage, down a far-too-steep flight of stairs, into his basement. He intended to hook it up to the stovepipe. He promised it would stay there forever.

Last week, 517 filled his house with smoke up to the first-floor ceiling. The woodstove no good. Would have to come out of the basement.

This morning, 517 reported that he's found a great deal on a Saab-- only $750, and probably the guy can be talked down to $600. And, as part of the deal, he'll tow away the current non-running Saab. And take that engine out of the garage, too.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Green Acres Interlude

Patient: "I really want to lose some weight."
Dr. Turbo: "That's a great idea. Have you always struggled with your weight?"
Patient: "No. Only since three years ago."
Dr. Turbo: "What happened three years ago?"
Patient: "I got a new job."
Dr. Turbo: "What was the new job?"
Patient: "Driving a cupcake delivery truck."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Motivational Posters of Green Acres (Part II of an occasional series.)

A “motivational” poster hanging near the Green Acres dining room shows a large photo of the Great Wall of China. The bold text below reads: “Many minds. Many hands. One goal.”

The message, apparently, is that if we all join our minds and hands together, we can accomplish the phenomenal. True enough. But the reality may be a bit less inspiring. I find the following information about the Wall’s construction on

“In addition to the frontier soldiers, the builders included conscripted laborers and convicts in exile… 1.8 million people were forced to join the ranks of the laborers. Owing to the arduous work and poor conditions both for living and construction, a lot of people died in the course of this project. Some of their remains were even buried in the wall.”

Thus, the photo may as well show an antebellum Southern cotton harvest, or an image of slave-built Egyptian pyramids. Perhaps the caption should read: “Many minds. Many hands. No say in the matter. No unions. See what can be accomplished?”

No Kyoto In Smallish State

On problem with trying to stop global warming is that a lot of people are unabashedly in favor of it. I mean, no one will drive around with an “I HEART GLOBAL WARMING” bumper sticker, but the average Smallish Stater was just thrilled by our warmest-ever December.

On Christmas day (balmy) I took a walk on the beach. I passed a couple out with their dogs. “Fantastic weather, huh?!”, said the man, without a hint of irony. “I wish every Christmas was like this!”, said his wife. Today I looked out the window from the staff room, eying the last scraps of snow melting in the sun. “They say it’s going up to 50 degrees again this week,” I said to our ward clerk, in a sad voice. She replied, “Oh, my! Well that’s just wonderful news. I wish it would just stay like that.”

I have the sinking feeling those Smallish Staters who believe in global warming at all may be secretly burning extra fossil fuels in an attempt to bring it on faster.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Is This Some Kind Of JOKE?

Something is greatly amiss over at, one of the two sources I routinely monitor for snow-depth maps of New England. Have a look at today's map and see if somethings looks wrong in these parts. I don't know how this happened -- maybe their satellite is slightly out of orbit, or maybe their snow-depth expert is doing a lot of acid and seeing what he wants to see. Maybe they're really operated by the true Weathermen, and this is one small step towards the overthrow of the U.S. government that they failed to achieve in the 60's. Or maybe they decided we here in Smallish State need some cheering up with positive, albeit false, news about snow.

The reality is, it's been god-awful warm here for weeks, and it just won't snow. We got one little dusting a few days ago. Today it rained, again. There's maybe a half-inch of slush on the ground. That's reality. I'm looking out the window at it.

But according to the weather underground, the Smallish State has an incredible two-and-a-half foot snowpack. We're as deeply buried as Colorado. We're the snow capital of the east. The Canadians are driving south to ski, and the Vermonters are driving east. There are two feet on the ground right here in the Smallish City! Schools are shut down, a state of emergency has been declared, folks are going to the market on skis, and kids are building snow forts up to the second floors of their homes. The stores are sold out of snow shovels and salt. The governor has appealed to everyone to help his neighbors and check on the elderly. The guy across the street with the snow blower has been working for hours to clear peoples' driveways; in a little bit I'm going to go out and relieve him. I can't get to work anyway.

Ah. Never mind. It was all just a strange dream.