* Actually, they didn't have my coordinates, so traced down my sister in NYC, who was mentioned in the document. She called me to say had an odd message on her answering machine from 'some lawyer's office in NH,' who wanted to get in touch with me.
** Rather a grim title that, sounds too much like executioner, but not much better in Quebec where it's a liquidator. Seems like you want to hire Arnold Schwartzneger for the job.
Last boxes unpacked or semi-put-away. Mort Walker, the author of the comic strip "Beetle Bailey," just passed away. I haven't lived in NH since I moved up to Montreal, shortly after the glaciers receded, but that is still my official US state of residence. I was working in my study and Wallstreet came to sit in my lap. The kids were lying in my lap. How many warriorsavants does it take to change a light bulb? First: Happy Canada Day. My father was a locksmith, a Mr. Fixit of the old school; from him I got my mechanical skills. Friday, Nom & the kids were visiting the grandparents. Okay, not literally what the flyer said, but close. I'm afraid that my siblings and I are getting to the age where ailments are conversation. One is a rank-conscious, hide-bound, tradition-encrusted institution, that rewards and otherwise encourages conformity, group-think, and clichéd-thinking.
Today it was "how can you tell which of two eggs was cooked by spinning them?" (Spoiler alert: the cooked one spins longer than the raw one). Hedgefund tested them, then announced correctly which one had been cooked.
"How did you know?"
"It's warm and the other one is cold."
I always give full marks for correct answers, even if not the one I was looking for.
Okay, got that one off my chest. I'm not really that naïve about the Army. I'm just also not that naïve about universities.
I realize, with some of my older patients, that they do require more patience (no pun happening here!). What is sad, with some of them, is that I've known them for 20+ years, and seen them go from "older but vigorous," to "elderly and decrepit and confused." I realize too that what sometimes seems just an annoying character trait is in fact their trying to cover for no longer being with it mentally. Not completely gone, but worse off than they seem at first glance.
One problem I noted today, is that some of them were frankly annoying when they were younger. Becoming elderly doesn't make you saintly. If you were a total pain when you were 25-35-45, if you haven't worked on yourself (whatever that could mean), then you are still a total pain at 65-75-85. Some people were just annoying for their whole lives, plus they pick up more annoying character traits to try to cover for their losing it. I'm training myself to see past the annoying to what really needs doing.
Anyhow, the key line missing from all the instruction manuals is "first remove the two toddlers from your house…" Really, if I did that, all of the assembly would be 3-5 times faster than with their helping me.
( laughter and tears )
Wallstreet's language ability is literally changing day-by-day right now. Leading up to his 3rd birthday, we were actually worried about him. He was still only speaking in 1-2 word "sentences," maybe 3 on a good day. Now, just 2 months later, he is using complete sentences of 8-10 words, and stringing 2-4 sentences together into a comprehensible speech. Wow.
I'm not all that thrilled with the whole "Christmas decorations go up right after Halloween" commercial greedfest. At least in the US, there's Thanksgiving to break up the two month stretch. Christmas Carols I divide into 2 groups: traditional ones, which I love until I've heard each one for the 100th time that year, and which point they annoy me; and newer ones, which annoy me from the first time I hear them. Did I mention "bah humbug."
After the parade, we went to the nearby mall to have a bite of bad food and pick up a couple of items we needed. They had some entertainment, which was good because I was watching the kids while Nom braved the lines. By that time, Wallstreet had fallen asleep, but Hedgefund enjoyed the juggler dressed as an elf (complete with Spock ears). As jugglers go, he was kind of lame, but for a 4-year old, it was great.
Okay, a good start to the Christmas season; I'll see if I can keep my (limited) holiday cheer attitude for another 6 weeks.
This is what we call “child rearing” here in Lake Wobegon, where all the... well you know the line.
Signing off now. Starting last week, decided to take a 24-hour break each week from computers and cell phones, so will be offline ‘till Saturday night.
Uh, yeah, okay, not quite. I'll get my fantasy life in check. What actually happened was that I had seen a patient in Room 2, and removed a small growth. We usually can tell when a patient is feeling faint or dizzy, and get them lying or sitting down quickly (such as the next patient who was in Room 2). This makes only twice in, uh, never mind how many years, that someone slipped past our guards. Anyhow, he seemed fine, said thank you & goodbye, and went to the front desk while I went into Room 1. Apparently he suddenly went from 'fine' to starting to fall over. Evil Secretary grabbed him, but she was on the other side of the reception desk. When I came out in response to her shout, she was leaning across the desk, holding him under the arms. Couldn't let go or he'd fall, but had no way to get around the desk either. I got him under the arms, and laid him down with something soft under his head and a stool to raise his feet. Turned out he hadn't eaten all day. Those are always the ones who get dizzy, combination of low blood sugar and anxiety. Frankly, if I don't have a nibble mid-morning, I get light-headed by the end of the morning (just the blood sugar, no anxiety), and this was the early afternoon when the gentlemen saw me and had his episode. We got him some juice (we keep some juice boxes in the fridge), and half of E.S.'s granola bar. After a while, he felt better, sat in a chair for a while, and when felt even better, took a taxi home. I think we're going to lay in a supply of not-very-good chocolate (because if it's good chocolate, well, I have no will power and would eat it all). Raises the blood sugar, and besides, everyone knows that's what you need after a dementor attack.
His next shave will probably be in another 8-12 years, unless he inherits his beard characteristics from him VN side. I asked my FIL, who said he has never shaved a day in his life, and my BIL who said he almost never shaves. Since Wallstreet has very few Asian features physically, I assume he'll get his facial/body hair characteristics from my side, which is to say he'll be able to grow a beard in a week. (Not a full beard, but clearly "I'm growing a beard," not "oh, you were too lazy to shave for a day or two.")
Speaking of body hair, and speaking of things you really don't want to discuss with your mother (not that we were discussing the latter, but this is going to be a rather rambling, and I hope amusing post), I'm not the first White person Nom has ever been with. Every time she did date someone White, her mother would ask her, "Is it true that White people have hair all over their bodies?" Also, apparently, MIL once came across an article in a French language magazine (newspaper?), and asked Nom, in Vietnamese, to explain the term "le sexe oral." If there weren't proof that her parents had sex at least twice, Nom would doubt they ever had. For that matter, I know my siblings and I are the products of virgin births.
Back to shaving. Many men like to shave. I don't. It's an annoying thing to have to do each morning. At various times of my life, I have worn a beard. When I was younger, that was more a function of whether my military time was Active or regularly drilling Reserve versus inactive Reserve. I was in the Navy when beards were permitted and did have one, shaving it off when they changed the regulations. Now I'm used to being clean-shaven, plus in modern society, being a graybeard literally as well as metaphorically doesn't confer gravitas, it makes you look scraggly. I frequently don't shave on weekends because I don't like doing it, and don't have to look professional. I use an electric most of the time, but after not having shaved for 3 days, the stubble is rather thick and rough, so I use a manual razor. Not really sure what to call those anymore. I grew up calling them "safety razors." They were so named in contradistinction to straight razors, at a time when electric razors didn't exist. I confess to being confused when I first read Jack London, with people fighting with razors. I knew they didn't have electric razors, but had never seen a straight razor, so had no idea how you could hurt someone with a safety razor. By the time I started shaving, I understood what a straight razor was, and wanted to shave with one. My father wisely pointed out that I'd likely cut my own throat, and got me an electric razor. Actually it was an old one that had belonged to our Grandpa Jimmy. Instead of an on-off switch, there was a little wheel that you flicked to start it turning. It was my brother's first razor, and then mine. I don't know what ever happened to it; both of us "graduated" to rotary-head razors, which do seem to work a little better.
Grandpa Jimmy died before I really have much memory of him, except that he was a good man, and the accidental cause of a minor linguistic confusion in me that lasted until my 20's. He was my maternal grandmother's second husband, and was born and raised in Italy. He came to the US as a young boy, and I believe served in the US Army in WWI. Like many Italians, even when speaking English, he frequently threw in the word capisce. (Heck, most New Yorkers of whatever background use it.) In my family, there were a dozen or so Yiddish words that we used frequently: mensch, kibitz, etc. (Again, most New Yorkers of whatever background use them.) When you're 6? (8? 12?), you don't think about the linguistic derivation of how you speak. I knew capisce wasn't English, we used it in my family, ergo it must be Yiddish. Some time in my 20's I began to find it strange that so many Italians used that particular Yiddish word, and eventually the had the light bulb/facepalm moment and realized the word was Italian.
Straight razors. I have a few times been shaved by a barber with a straight razor. It is partly luxurious, and partly scary. Someone literally has a razor-sharp blade at your throat. Especially considering that the first time was on a street corner in Pakistan. Eddy, my barber, said that when he was a boy growing up in Lebanon, 50? 60? years ago, it was normal for men to stop at the barbershop en route to work to get shaved. They'd wait their turn, get shaved, then stop for coffee (Lebanese coffee, which is what we call Turkish coffee), waiting their turn to get served for that. In short, leisurely lifestyle which did not involve a high work ethic. Many countries that people in First World nations are terrible workaholics; then they can't understand why they themselves are poor.
Eddy is a great barber, with a good work ethic, and also offers you a coffee when you're there. Not Arab/Turkish style, but at least a good espresso, and occasionally something stronger.
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.
Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.
- A.E. Housman
Pastel,currently thenew 'in' restaurant in Montreal. We went there last night courtesy of MTL à Table, which as mentioned previously, is like restaurant week most other places, but with l'accent français(*1).
'Cheap Chic' is our term to going to classy restaurants on the cheap: luncheon specials, late night specials (well, before we had kids), or restaurant weeks. Usually have their best dishes at a fraction of the price. Usually, we don't have drinks or coffee there, so they really make no money on us.
Nom made the reservations. Initially we were told they were full up the day(s) we wanted. She called back with a different plan. Eventually they saw reason. Which is to say, the 6thtime she called, I heard someone in the background say, "It's heragain. Give her a dang table or she'll keep calling!(*2) Contrary to the cliché of Asian women, she is about as passive and submissive as the average mule. Make that 2 mules. Or 10. Anyhow, she can be rather persistent.
Been there when it was something else. Even in a city with as many good restos as Montreal, there are still just so many venues, and fancy restaurants rarely last that long. When we walked in, Nom introduced herself, and the hostess turned the manager, and said, "it's that annoying Vietnamese woman who kept calling, seat her quickly(*2)." They found us a place in the far corner where the kids wouldn't disturb the other dinners.
Avant garde food. Avant garde is French for "overpriced, tiny portions, and totally awful." In this case 2 out of 3. The portions were filling, only if you were a squirrel ("Hey Rocky, watch me pull a dinner out of my hat"). And only overpriced if you went on a regular night, something like 50$/course. Very involved food. I confess I'm a little tired of overly-involved, pernickety, lets-see-how-many-weird-ingredients-I-
The kids were largely well-behaved. They had wanted to blow out candles. At the resto we went to the other night, they amused themselves by blowing out the little tea candle on the table. We thought we'd be clever and bring some extra candles (found some spare birthday candles in a drawer) that I could repeatedly light for them from the tea candle and they could then repeatedly blow out. Curses, foiled again! They didn't have tea candles, or any other candles, on the tables. Kids were disappointed, so when we got home, I found some matches, set up 2 candles, and let them take turns blowing them out(*3).
*1 Which is to say the waiters speak through their noses which are tilted in the air.
*2 Perhaps a slight exaggeration for comedic effect. There will be some of that in this conte.
*3 If I'd let them keep going, it would have been hours of fun for them, seconds of fun for me. Did have a dozen turns each, and felt satisfied at that.
There is a condition called Actinic Keratosis, which has a very low (<1%) chance of becoming cancerous. They also have a 30% chance of just going away on their own, so I don't get too excited about them, but do treat them when I see them. If there are just a few, then they can be destroyed individually, but when there are dozens-to-hundreds, it is better to use "field treatment" that will destroy them wholesale. The advantage of these creams is that they get all of them, including ones too small to see. The disadvantage, is they all get irritated - very irritated - at once. I usually warn patients that they will hate me for 2 weeks, therefore come back in 6 months when I'll be their best friend.
Had one patient came back today, had only used the cream for 1 week instead of the 2 prescribed. He explained that "After a week, I had enough of detesting you (i.e. it was too much for him to tolerate for 2 weeks), so I stopped, and now I'm back to liking you."