Every now and then somebody writes a comment in response to one of the entries here.  But I don’t get many because this blog is sort of a soliloquy and doesn’t exactly promote dialogue.  So I don’t check to see if I get any comments or not except when I remember to do it, once a week or so. 

When I do check, the site will say I have like 70 comments or something, and I will know without checking that most of that is spam.  The subject line of the spam will say something like, “Great Site.  A work of Art.  Shakespeare would be jealous” or something to that effect.  Like they flatter your ass to make you click on the link and if I bother to click on the link—which I don’t anymore—it will turn out to be an advertisement for Rogaine or Propicia.  Those keyword searches work I guess because they have figured out I am old and losing my hair.  Of course, that might be easy to do since I have written about being old and losing my hair.

I also get ads saying Lipitor (which I take for high cholesterol) is bad for you and I should take vitamins instead.  And of course I get all sorts of ads for different anti-depression meds.  Also I get ones for Viagra and that other stuff, Celesta, or whatever that when you are in the mood one is called.  That stuff scares me.  They all warn about having an erection that lasts four hours and how you should go to a doctor if you have one of those.  I would be scared to death by a four hour erection.  I think it would probably kill me.  I can’t afford to have that much blood in one place.

And I get ads too for penis enlargement.  That’s sort of insulting in a way; I mean who are they to suggest my penis should be enlarged unless the assumption is that there is no such thing as a penis that is too big.  For years I didn’t know what this penis enlargement stuff was.  Back in the old days, back at the end of the sports section of the paper, you could find these little ads (not that I looked for them) advertising “Male Penile Enhancement.”  The male part seemed a little redundant since I don’t think there could be female penile enhancement.  I don’t even know if “penile” is a word.

I was too embarrassed to look up the stuff to figure out how they went about this enhancement stuff.  Once I was talking with my students about something, penises, I guess, and said, “How the hell do they enhance the penis.  I mean do they like hang a rock on the end of it and stretched it out or something.  Or do they have this little exercise machine that you stick your penis in to work it out a bit and give it like more muscle.”  I went on like this some time, acting all perplexed, and completely dead pan, and the students were like dumbfounded except for a couple of guys in the back who were about to piss themselves trying not to laugh.  Actually, this was one of my regular routines.  I say “was” because I don’t know if it’s appropriate for an old guy to talk about the penis or even to have one for that matter.  I always concluded, “Do any of you guys know what they do to enhance it.”

And nobody ever did.  So finally I looked it up and one thing at least that they do is operate on your damn penis.  I mean they take fat tissue from one part of your body and stick that fat tissue into your penis, to sort of bulk it up I guess.  I wonder if they use a local anesthetic for that.  I would want to be knocked out totally were someone to operate on my penis.  I don’t know if this is true or not, but I read it somewhere.

Ugly Callus Buildup

I have pretty ugly feet.  Possibly I exaggerate.  They are not that awful really.  And actually it’s mostly the left one that’s ugly.  The right one is pretty much a-ok.  Though, it too suffers from dry, chapped skin, and heavy duty callus buildup.  I don’t know what else to call it but callus buildup.  It’s not technically a “corn,” I think.  I am not sure what a “corn” is, but I am pretty sure it’s not one.

Just that on the inside of both of my big toes, one may locate a lot of what appears to be callus.  The buildup is the worse on the left foot, so if I am in bed trying to go to sleep and I lie on my right side, sometimes the inside of my left big toe presses against the bed, and after a while, sometimes, the corn or callus buildup starts to hurt.  Actually, the callus itself is pretty insensitive, but it starts to press on the sensitive tissues beneath it and they start to hurt.  The pain of the hurt—though not in the least extreme—is enough to keep me awake.

All I have to do to keep the pain away is to wear a sock on the left foot.  That’s enough to pad the callus a bit and keep it from hurting.  So sometimes, I go to bed wearing one sock and walk around in the morning with one sock.  Why I don’t wear two socks, I don’t know.  But it’s only the left foot that really needs it.  And I believe in airing out your feet whenever possible.

I believe in the airing out of feet because for years I had one whopper of a case of athlete’s foot.  I would try this or that to try to get rid of it and usually failed through lack of patience and perseverance, and hell I am a live and let live sort of guy.  But then they came out with this stuff—I forget what it’s called—but wham! That stuff really worked and all that really evil athletes’ foot between the toes went away.  But I just couldn’t get rid of the dry, scaling skin on different parts of my feet, especially the heels.

I figured that was a really tenacious form of athletes foot, since athletes foot is really a whole host of different sorts of fungi (?) or funguses (?) that the powerful lotion had not been able to kill off.  So when I was at the dermatologist I asked him if there was anything I could do for it. He sort of shrugged and said no; some people just get that stuff.  Could be virus, could be genetics.  Nobody knew for sure.  Then I said, what about this callus buildup on my left toe here.

Hmmm, he said, maybe I have some salve for that.  So he gave me a prescription for some salve to put on my left toe.  Carol picked it up from me and I got a bit freaked out when the label on the box said, “Urea Cream.”  I mean in my mind Urea had something to do, I was pretty sure, with Urine.  I didn’t really like the idea of putting urine on my toe.  So while I was complaining about it, Carol looked it up on the web for me and sure enough Urea is a central ingredient in Urine.  Turns out there are about 1200 medical applications for Urea.

I wonder if any other form of excrement has so many medical uses.  I also wonder where the urea I am using comes from.  Human Urine?  Horse Urine?  Elephant Urine.  Are there people out there who get paid to pee all day?  Or maybe it can be synthesized.

Some Language

Sometimes just getting to the movie irritates me to death.  As soon as I put in the DVD I start hitting the menu button, but this little red thing comes up saying I can’t do it.  Like I just have to watch.  I watched a DVD lately that had this:  “This film has been formatted to fit this screen.”  Now, that’s irritating because I didn’t ask anybody to format the movie, and they act like they are doing me a favor.  And on top of that, how the hell do they know or could they know that the film is formatted to “this” screen.  Seems to me there must be thousands of different kinds and sizes of screens, and there is no way they could know whether or not it has been formatted to this screen.  I mean what are they really saying:  “This film won’t look the same way on your TV screen that it would look in the movie house had you bothered to pay to go see it.”  But I would assume any idiot would know that anyway.

And then comes on this long warning about not duplicating the movie or you could go to jail and they mention something about Interpol in the warning.  Interpol.  What the hell is that?  All of a sudden, I think I am being warned that I will be arrested by “The Man from Uncle.”  That was a TV show from the early 60’s I think with Robert Vaughn.  He was a spy and worked from an organization called Uncle.  Somehow Interpol does not scare me.

Then you have to watch these things that say the views of the diverse persons expressed in the completely unnecessary and useless interviews included on the DVD do not represent the views of this company or any of its subsidiaries.  As if I cared.  First I watch it in English and then I watch it in French.  I practice my French while watching it, and then lately after watching it in French, I watch it in Spanish.  I expect before I die that I will watch it in English, French, Spanish, and Chinese.

Then you get to the ratings part that just drives me nuts.  I saw one lately that said the film was rated such and such and included “cartoon violence.”  Cartoon violence?  I guess that’s the sort of violence you get in a cartoon.  Or maybe it’s “violence plus gore.”  That’s like French fries with ketchup I guess.  Yea, order me up some violence with plenty of gore.  And of course, there’s your classic “graphic violence.”  Leading me to wonder what ungraphic violence might be.   I wish they would get down to it with something like, “Unremitting, mind numbing violence featuring multiple decapitations and torture involving the testacies.”  Now that might explain something.

And then you get “Some language.”  It’s like they don’t know what language the movie is in:  like it’s some language or other, we don’t know.  But a language of some kind.  Or sometimes it just says, “Language.”  Well, duh!  I was pretty sure I was going to see a talkie.

“Adult themes”—what the hell is that and why would you have to be warned about it.  Adult themes plus some language and unremitting graphic violence.  I would like to see ratings “so graphic” and with “some language” that they themselves would have to be rated. 

Bacteria Appreciation

My friend who had her ear cut off had at another time another ear problem.  I forget when but she had some ear infection and had to go on an airplane and went to a doctor to get something for the infection, so he gave her some powerful antibiotics that went and killed off the bacteria, I guess, but along with that bacteria some other strain of bacteria that lived down in her colon.  This set off an ecological crisis in her colon, but this bacterium had apparently made its living by feeding off another type of bacteria.  So when these bacteria died off, the other type just went crazy growing.

Then my friend began to have horrible dizzy moments and moments of occasional horribly frightening blindness.  Turns out the bacteria that were out of control were “s…t…g” up a storm and the feces from the bacteria was going to my friend’s brain.  So she was being “s…t” to death by bacteria.  To restore the ecological balance in her colon, the doctor said she had to eat nothing but protein for three months or something like that.  The idea was to starve the crazy bacterium back into submission because it lived on carbs not on protein.  I guess it worked because my friend got better.

I was thinking about this because I was watching the Jon Stewart show and they had some science guy on who said that in one centimeter of the colon one could find more bacteria than all the people on earth.  That’s nuts.  More than six billion bacteria in one centimeter.  It’s a strange thought to think or at least I find it strange to think that these bacteria that live in our colon see us and our colon as in the same way a beaver might see a river.  Our colon is an ecological niche; our colons and the bacteria that live in them have co-evolved over millions of plus years. Thank god for these bacteria since they are essential to helping us digest and utilize stuff particularly as I understand it vitamins and minerals. 

Let us take Michelangelo’s David.  Well, that gives us a representation or depiction of the human body in space, but space only.  It’s a beautiful depiction I guess, but only an abstracted husk, as it were of the real thing, the thing as it exists in time.  If we could view the human body in time and also microscopically we would get an entirely different picture of the human body. 

First the surface area—the skin itself—would not be clearly define.  Instead, where the skin should be we would see this kind of haze or fog of bacteria and other microorganisms living on and just off the surface of our skin.  We would not even be able to see the features of the face clearly because of this haze and when the body breathed in and out there would be this sort of tidal ebb and flow of mouth bacteria.  Also occasionally big hunks of stuff—skin—would come flying off the surface.  As we moved along it would appear that we were in a constant state of disintegration. Then, in this time lapse picture, if we could see inside the body we would see blood and fluids sloshing all around and shooting this way and that and deep down there in the core a veritable volcano caldron of bacterial activity.

Which brings me to the question of the day?  I know that a bullet moves too fast for us to see it, and is it also true that a thing can move to slowly for us to see it.  I mean honestly, I have never seen a tree grow one iota.


I had a friend who was sociology major as an undergraduate, but grew to hate the discipline when he began to sense the sociological view of human beings.  It took me a while to figure out what he meant but the more one reads sociology the more one sees that human beings are herd animals.   That overall view is connected to the idea expressed by an early social thinker, Helveticas, who said that human beings are apes of each other.

I have been trying not to think about anything to do with teaching, education, and my job, but I thought about this when I notice an article on the first page of the LA Times: “Obesity is ‘contagious,’ study finds Friends help friends get fatter, a report in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates.”  Followed by:

Obesity can spread among a group of friends like a contagious disease, moving from one person to another in an epidemic of fat.

That’s the finding of a novel study released Wednesday that reported that having close friends who are fat can nearly triple your risk of becoming obese.

First, I have to say, as I used to say, when I taught a research paper class on eating in America.  This idea that obesity is an epidemic—while it may serve to medicalize the problem—is pure nonsense and misleading because it makes it seem the whole thing is somehow a biological problem, which of course it is (and isn’t).  You simply don’t catch obesity like the flu.

What human beings do “catch” and depend on for their very existence is the behavior of other people.  We are in a loop of mimicry.  Don’t know what to do.  Well, do what that guy does.  That’s what we do all the time.  Society has stuff built into it that does our thinking for us. 

But we US citizens have a problem with this whole idea because we have been taught to think we are individuals who prize individuality.  This idea serves to cut us off from seeing the obvious.  We aren’t individuals.  We are not born individuals.  Maybe a very few people become individuals over a life time, but even that’s pretty rare.  Mostly we muck along unthinkingly via mimicry and herd behavior.

Any way this whole business is all tangled up.  When people start talking about individuals and individuality, they are usually talking about “responsibility.”  The importance of this study on obesity is that it suggests obesity is not a “personal problem.”  Which of course does not make it any less of a problem for the person who suffers from it.

For years, as a joke, when students came to my office and wanted to know how to get write an A paper, I would say, “Well, the best thing to do is go and find the people who write A papers and hang out with them—all the time—and after a while, not long really, you too will start to write A papers.”  Actually, this is not a joke.  It’s the truth.

Some Old Emporer

Our cleanup proceeds apace though recently we have stalled a bit.  Now we are into the dinky stuff.  I wander around from here to there, pick up stuff, and put it in a pile with similar stuff that needs to be sorted through.  For example, a pile of manuals for different sorts of software we have acquired over the years.  So now we are starting to build up rather all over the place, on this book shelf, or that part of the floor, little anthills of junk for further sorting.





While investigating an anthill of junk that had fallen out of a shoebox, I came across this Roman coin (featured here pictorially) or more precisely this coin from Roman times.  I have had this coin for 30 plus years.  I was in downtown San Diego for some reason and while walking where ever it was that I was going I walked past this coin store and stared into the window.  Over in one corner was a little pile of coins labeled “Roman” or something to that effect.

I remember being startled to think that Roman coins were out there for sale.  I figured Roman coins were in museums or something.  But no, here was a pile of Roman coins apparently for sale to John Q. Public.  So I went in.  The coins seemed to be priced by their size and also by their possible historical significance.  They were sort of like baseball cards.  The more important the guy on the coin the more the coin was worth.  There were some pretty important guys on those coins.  I remember a Tiberius, the guy that came after Augustus, and a real pervert.  He went for quite a bit.

 I got this one for three dollars.  Remember this was 1973 or something, so three dollars was worth a lot more.  But I wanted a Roman coin, so I got this one.  Unfortunately I appear to have lost the little information card that came with the coin.  But the guy featured on this coin was a pretty nobody emperor.  He was from around 200 AD and didn’t last long as emperor.  He warranted a couple of lines in the Britannica and was described, I think, as “sickly.”

But while my emperor is not very significant, I have done a pretty good job over the years of not losing the coin.  That would be easy to do.  It’s about a half inch across and wafer thin.  Much lighter than a dime.  I have no idea what it was worth in Roman terms and adjusted for inflation.  I figure maybe you could have bought an orange with it.  But that is absolutely speculative.  Maybe part of an orange.





Any how, I am glad I found the coin. I could too easily have thrown it out.  Eventually I would have missed it had I done so and gotten perturbed.  But there it is.  I just find it interesting to hold between my fingers something that is pretty close to 2000 years old.  Now I have to stick it some place where I make sure I don’t lose it.


The first picture shows the sickly emperor and the second shows the symbolic stuff on the back of the coin.

A quick web search indicates that there are a huge number of Roman coins out there that one might purchase. 

Continue reading Some Old Emporer

Doctor Visits

I remember as a callow youth looking down my nose at old people who sat around doing nothing but discussing their doctors, their diseases, and their operations.  Not that I was around your old people much, but when I was around them that’s all they seemed to want to talk about.  When there were many other things of greater importance, I thought, like war, world peace, and the state of the economy that one might be discussing.  Maybe I just envied them because, man, you could tell these people were really into what they were discussing, like you know when I had my hip removed, and they would go on savoring every detail even using occasional medical terms.

And then when the folks hit their late 60s it seemed like the big event of their week, whatever week it was, was to go to the doctor.  Well, what will you be doing, and it was like, well, on Tuesday I go to the eye doctor and I will be getting back the results of the blood test, and I have this corn that needs looking into.  And I though, Jesus, what kind of life is that when the high point of your week is to have your teeth cleaned.

Well, age humbles us all.  When we went down to visit Carol’s mom last, I called ahead and made a date with an old friend whom I have known since 1973. So I we met up and talked while Carol went to spend time with her mom.  We talked up and down over a thirty plus year period about this and that and what happened to whom, and so on, and what do you know but we had a good hour in there talking about our diseases. 

I described my colonoscopy and tried to talk her into getting hers, but I probably failed.  She has an ongoing problem.  Once she was swimming and felt a pain in her ear, and thought well it was a whopper case of swimmer’s ear, and went to the doctor, and he gave her antibiotics or something.  But the pain did not relent and so after two weeks she went to an ear expert and the expert said her eardrum had burst and what was worse a horrible infection had set in that eventually complete screwed up the little parts in there—the “hammer” is it called—and the other thing, so that she went deaf in the ear pretty much and began to suffer also from vertigo.

The vertigo thing sounds pretty terrible because there are no warning signs at all.  I mean none.  Just suddenly and for no clear reason you get vertigo and you start to lose your balance for no reason at all.  That must be awful.  Here you are one second taking a step forward and the next you are falling.  There doesn’t seem to be any cure for it.  They did an operation on the ear to try to get the hear back and put in plastic replacements for the broken parts, but they went out of whack and didn’t work.  To do that operation, they had to cut her entire ear off.  Of course, they sewed it back on.

So far I have avoided having my ear cut off.  In fact, no doctor has yet to make an incision in me.  Yesterday, the skin doctor blasted me in a couple of spots with liquid nitrogen to get rid of some pre-cancerous lesions.  And for the first time ever, he started fingering his way through what remains of my hair and blasted a couple of spots on my scalp too.  I have to face the fact that the skin up there has lost most of its natural covering and I better make sure to wear a hat.

Skin Doctor

Ray, the guy who looks after the Tingle Trust at Morgan Stanley (at least his secretary does), was in the locker room at the club on his way to the pool.  His face was all slathered up with sun block because he is fair like me and has a profusion of those so-called pre-cancerous lesions on his cheeks and especially forehead.  I told him he should get that chemical salve from the dermatologist.  

I did that because of my precancerous lesions.  I don’t know what was in that stuff but my forehead where the lesions were swelled up something fierce and then the swollen places popped and started draining so that once my head stuck to my pillow.  This went on for about six weeks and then the red stuff went away.  And my forehead has been free of those precancerous lesions ever since.   But Ray doesn’t like the sound of it and is afraid he will lose a client because the salve might make it appear he has some sort of violent and possibly contagious skin disease.

I guess I am thinking about skin disease because I have to go to the dermatologist today.  I got this notice from my primary care person practically ordering me to go see the guy because my dermatologist is a guy.  And because about 20 years ago I had an actual cancer cell growing in my upper lip and ever since then they have insisted I go.  So I have gone every year pretty faithfully because that cancer cell freaked me out. 

Yesterday, I went to the eye doctor.  Somehow I forgot my yearly visit to him too.  I found out when I went in to have the frames of my glasses readjusted because they were sitting all lopsided on my nose.  I guess I sat on the glasses or something—though I don’t know when—and they were really out of whack.  So while I was there they checked my records and said it had been 18 months or something since my last check up.

I go to a real eye doctor, an MD.  He has all the latest equipment. He has this thing called a retinal maper or something like that.  He charges $35 extra for that but I pay anyway because this thing is the best way to detect eye disease.  They get this really cool picture of the back of your eyeball, veins and all, and in his one some of my eye lashes too.  One time they emailed me the picture in an attachment.  But I have lost it.  Any way they said that looked good, and then I stared into another machine, and every time something moved on the little screen, I clicked a little clicker to indicate I had detected the movement.  I have no idea what this machine is for and I didn’t feel like asking.

Finally, I see the real MD guy and he is nice enough really.  Carol and I met him at the club though he has not been going to the club much this last year since his house burnt down.  He had a bad year.  And maybe for the nth time, I ask about contacts instead of glasses.  I don’t know why I bother.  I guess I expect some new break through in contact lenses, but again he says I am not a good candidate because one of my eyes is pretty good and the other really sucks, and that makes me a bad candidate I guess.

But I decided to order those lens that go dark out in the sun because I can’t for the life of me remember to carry a pair of shades with me.  I need to do that since a lot of sunlight is one of the things that cause macular degeneration.  WB had that.  But he worked out in the sun too every day and I don’t remember him ever wearing a pair of shades.  I wonder why.  He had all sorts of precancerous lesions too.  His arms didn’t look like normal skin but more like allegator hide.  They made him put that salve on every year.  I don’t know what good it did except to make it look like allegator hide with a skin disease.

Class Notes

Two times a year the college I went to—Occidental College, in LA—sends out a magazine with news about the college and class notes.  There are too many classes to have all the notes in each issue, so one time it is the odd numbered years and the next it is the even numbered years.  I am an even numbered year having been graduated in 1968.


Finally, I wrote a note, as part of that time, I think, when I was trying as I put it, to reconnect the dots between my present and my past.  Also somebody wrote a note wondering where I was along with a few other people.  I don’t remember what I wrote in that first note: fifty words about something.  But I wrote a couple others too and they were about getting older.  I remember I wrote about how I got really alarmed when one day I was combing my hair—no, that can’t be right, I never comb my hair—anyway I found this hair, whatever I was doing, about a foot long, growing right out of the top of my ear and it had got mixed in with all the other hairs.  So I wrote about this hair I remember and I wrote about having to buy tweezers to pluck the hairs that had started growing out of the top of my nose.

I got a call from the class notes lady for a class note a few weeks back because I guess the even numbered issue is about to come out, and, hell, I just stared at it and thought about what I might write, and didn’t think I could write that I felt like s…t because my father had died last year and my mother had died this year and my brother had a stroke and I caught pneumonia.  For some reason, in class notes, you don’t write like: “Life is hell and I can’t figure it out at all.  And every day I think about shooting myself.”  I guess that is just not polite or something.  Imagine a whole page of class notes with everybody just lamenting their asses off about the struggle of existing.

But then I got that picture from the classmate showing me and friends from that time.  So I sat down and wrote a note something like:  “My damn fecal sample tested positive and they practically ordered me to go in for that colon thing where they knock you out a little and stick the tube all the way up.  This scared me to death since I figured I was dying.  So there I was lying on this table with my bum sticking out in the air and I ask the nurse lady what could cause a positive.  And she says, Oh this test gives all sorts of false positives.  And I think, Oh Great! Sarcastically in my head.  After the doctor says I have a normal colon for a 61 year old man.  I guess this is good though it doesn’t sound so hot.  I guess my colon is just aging along like my face except I can’t see it.  Which is probably a good thing too.”

The next time the class notes come out I will be interested to see if the editor of the class notes includes mine.  Because so far nobody has written anything about having something stuck up his or her colon.

Visualizing a window

So we want to turn our big closet into a little office, and to do that we need to put in a window.  When we went to look at windows, the window people said we should put masking tape on the wall to help us visualize the window.


So I have been trying to visualize.
I like this one OK.  But I think I like the next one better.
Of course this will require some redecorating of the exterior also.