Monday, June 30, 2008

Thunderstorms Four Ways

The weather forecasts over the past two or three weeks have been pretty much the same every day: mostly cloudy, fog likely, chance of rain, thunderstorms possible. I can't recall any time in the past with thunderstorms predicted so many days in a row. It's been tedious run for those looking to get out on the water in small boats. But the National Weather Service has tried to "spice up" the repetitive forecast by utilizing various different thunderstorm icons on different days. As if you could maybe pick which day's lightning strike looks least dangerous for your particular activity.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Urban Wildlands

Recent wildlife spottings around the TurboPalace:

1) Opossum: He's been here for several years, lurking mostly in the Norway maple next door. I saw him a few weeks ago, late at night, frozen like a statue on the fence.
2) Woodchuck: Seems to have taken up residence under my back steps. I can't imagine where he came from. He doesn't seem fast enough to have crossed major roads without squishage. But I saw him waddling across the lawn the other day. And he has mowed down my neighbor's peas, parsley, and pansies. She plans to capture him and release him somewhere else.
3) Coyote: I was working on Sandra Lee over at the boatyard the other week. The place was deserted. I climbed down the ladder at dusk and saw the coyote loping along between the rows of boats. He saw me and bolted for some scrubby shrubs. (The boatyard, as you can see here, is right in Smallish City, adjacent to one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the state. So this was pretty cool.)
4) Spiders: I walked out the back door last week and saw a glob of something yellowish attached to the garden hose, which was hanging over a railing. On inspection, it turned out to be a ball of maybe 500 baby spiders. When I approached they scattered in all directions, but a few minutes later re-amassed themselves. They stayed there five or six days; then one morning, they were all gone. Where to??

Friday, June 20, 2008

Freakin' Pill-Pushers

I was just writing a progress note on a patient I saw this morning, and needed to type the word "meditation". But it kept coming out "medication". Four times I had to do it, before it came out right. This was enough to convince me that things are a little imbalanced.

Je Me Voir Dogs

Evidently, today is "Take Your Dog To Work Day". There are clusters of orange TYDTWD balloons tied up on all the lampposts up and down the street from my office. The TYDTWD people have taken over the small park across the street, and have set up various tents and tables, passing out propaganda of some sort, and probably recruiting new TYDTWD members. The Animal Welfare Society arrived with a pickup truck towing a large trailer (? filled with dogs?) And just now an entire parade of roughly 40 people and 40 dogs came down the street, which apparently had been blocked off to traffic, with police escort.

I don't want to sound like a hater, but it is really all that appropriate to bring your dog to most work environments? I mean, if you're self-employed and it doesn't violate any health codes, fine. But if you work in a bank? A law office? A restaurant? A medical office? Drive a bus? Hmm. And, not to be a smart-ass, but if these people took their dogs to work today, how is it that they are marching in parades and hanging out in the park? Overall, Max and I are having a little trouble with this. And when is TYCTWD, anyway?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Conditionally In Agreement

I imagine that, deep down, most of us consider the ideal relationship to be one in which there is "unconditional love", and in which our partner will never leave or reject us. And I'm not only talking about romantic spouse-type relationships-- these aspects, for example, are often cited to me by dog-owning friends as reasons why dogs make better companions than cats.

But here's a story that might make you reassess. It's about the prospect of developing "robot lovers"-- robots not just as sexual partners, but as full-on romantic partners. Technical challenges aside, the article raises the interesting question of whether such a robot should be programmed for eternal dedication, or not. Dylan Evans, a British computer scientist who has published several books on the interface of technology, emotion, and psychology, is quoted as predicting that an "unconditionally" loving robot would become boring to, and perhaps even be "abused" by, its human "partner". Evan asserts, in fact, that "what is absolutely crucial to the sentiment of love, is the belief that the love is neither unconditional nor eternal" [emphasis mine.] He thinks that a robot designed with the free-thinking ability to reject its human would probably be more fulfilling, at least as long as it stuck around, but for obvious reasons "would be a very difficult robot to sell."

When you put things like this, aren't there some implications for human-human love? Even if "unconditional", "eternal" love were to exist (I'm dubious, in case you can't read my tone), would we all be better off to stop trying so hard to pin it down and get us some?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Opinion Poll

When choosing a spouse/"life partner", it is best to follow your:

[a] Heart
[b] Head
[c] "Gut"
[d] Other organ

Friday, June 06, 2008


Sitting alone here on a Friday night, it was tempting to break some of the rules of this blog. So I decided it was probably a good time to review the rules of this blog, which you may not even have been aware of.

Rules of This Blog

1) This blog will not discuss my romantic relationships, or lack thereof, because surely no good can come of that.
2) This blog will not blatantly appeal for the reader's pity.
3) This blog will not post more than one "cat post" per day.
4) This blog will not engage in political rants.
5) This blog will steer clear of reviewing books, movies, music, live performances, and TV shows, because, let's face it, no one cares what I think about them.
6) This blog will not reveal my true identity.
7) This blog will not be used to send "hidden" messages to any person.
8) This blog will not take the place of going out on a Friday night and doing something at least halfway sociable.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Stating The Obvious

Headline from last week's edition of Psychiatric News:

"War Exacts Heavy Mental Health Toll"

I am not sure why this could remotely be called news. Do the professional journals of Emergency Medicine docs have headlines like "War Found To Cause Increase In Physical Injuries"?

It sort of reminds me of the time a forensic psychologist asked me to write a letter to a court, on behalf of a patient, giving an opinion that "going to jail would not be in [this patient's] best interest". I actually started the letter before realizing the stupidity of it. Of course it wasn't in his best interest. His, or anyone else's-- excluding perhaps overnight protective custody intoxicated people. The whole point of going to jail is to make you unhappy. Not that I necessarily agree with jail as a concept in the first place.

Musical Bedrooms

I switched bedrooms at the TurboPalace recently, from a bedroom that I consider to have bad juju to a bedroom that I consider to have bad feng shui. In my estimation, juju is more potent than feng shui. You might ask why I didn't move into the one bedroom that has neither bad juju nor bad feng shui-- reason is, that one is occupied by my housemate. That wasn't my choice, or hers, but that's just how it is.

In the process of moving bedrooms I was pleased to be getting a few yards further away from Accordion Neighbor and his Screamer Daughters (which, if I ever form rock bad, shall be its name), especially as one of the daughters seems to have developed horrible hacking asthma over the past two summers. (I feel bad for her, but more angry with A.N., as I suspect he may be the kind who does not "believe in" real doctors, and may be giving Dysentery Passion Root extract a two-year trial before he will let the kid have an albuterol inhaler)(this is all pure speculation, but I'm in the mood for it.)

In any case, even this aspect of the move didn't work out so well, because I discovered that the neighbor on the other side has a pubescent male child who is wont to come out into the from yard at 7am of a Monday morning and start croaking out showtunes at high volume. Like a finger-nail-chalkboard Ethel Mermen. The horror. I am not kidding.

Having made the decision to move to this bedroom, though, I also decided to buy a real, and bigger (queen-size), bed-- this bedroom being the only one large enough for a queen-size bed. It's coming tomorrow. Alas, yesterday, my housemate told me she's moving out and vacating the non-juju, good feng-shui room that will be too small for the new bed.