Archive for January, 2008

Driving Miss Daisy to the Pet Hospital

January 26, 2008 1 comment

Recently, my friend Eric asked me to watch his dog Daisy while he went to Puerto Rico. Daisy has often come over to stay when Eric is out of town and I rather enjoy her company. She is a mid-sized black dog, of the type I describe as “default”, where mongrelization has removed any trace of breed type and they just become a dog (they seem to come in black and yellow and their owners always describe them as a lab mix). She has been a farm dog for most of her life and never wore a collar or had been on a leash until she came to stay with us for the winter last year when Eric was experimenting with town living. For all that she is surprisingly well behaved. She sits, which is nice, and knows how to “go lay down”. If a dog is only going to know one trick it ought to be “go lay down”. She’s not much of a winker though. Have I ever mentioned I like to wink at dogs, cats too for that matter, and occasionally birds, although they never wink back. Cats and dogs do surprisingly and once it gets established they will often spontaneously wink at you as a gesture of connection and affection. I learned this from my Mom who used to wink at me as a kid, usually in a group of adults when i was sitting off by myself in a corner feeling like an outsider and a little lonely, as has always been my wont to do. Well when i was away travelling and settling down in Cali for the first time she had taught Tiger (a mongrel of the Benjy type) to wink. It freaked me out when i returned full blown crazy and the dog started winking at me, but a lot of freeky shit was happening then. To pile an aside upon aside one thing i have noticed is that when your crazy its not just in your head, the whole world goes crazy and you are just unfortunate enough to notice. So anyway Daisy was coming to stay for 10 days or so and I was looking forward to it as I have been trying to get going on walking (i’m as big as a house if you haven’t seen me lately) and thought she would help me make my miles. I thought she was a little sickly on arrival with her ribs more pronounced (she’s a trim thing her own bad self). Sarah and I had talked about trying to fatten her up during her stay and if she didn’t put on some pounds suggesting Eric get her checked for worms. A couple of days into her stay she stopped pooping, and spent a lot of time squatting without results. When she puked up her dinner and wouldn’t eat her breakfast I knew their was trouble. I tried Eric’s cell and left a voicemail, unsure of how semi-internation cell phone coverage works. Sarah, Eric’s ex and my housemate, couldn’t track down his parent’s #, so I made an appointment at his usual vet, and Sarah and I speculated on how much Eric would want to spend on Daisy. Eric obviously has some love and a since of obligation to the Daismeister but he got her as a farm dog, a watch animal, a farm implement you have to feed every day or so and pat on the head on occasion. When Eric moved into town with Daisy its become this whole other deal, a big fat hassle. Eric’s not the town dog type, Daisy never went to Puppy School and her Kong is never filled. He seems uncomfortable with poop scooping and even having the dog in the house. As a farm boy myself I understand, its a whole different type of dog lover than the type that sends out pictures of their dog in antlers for a christmas card (no offence intended John the card was lovely, I’m just painting a picture of contrast here). So I said would Eric want to spend $1,000? “Um I don’t know.” What about $500. “Oh yeah, he’d want to spend that”. So I took Daisy to the vet. X-rays showed her distended tummy was filled with trash (she is a notorious trash eating hound). They then did a barium thing to see if their was blockage and sure enough their was. She said Daisy needed surgery or the tissue would die from lack of oxygen and she would die. She said the surgery would be $400, and I agreed. She talked some more explaining the procedure and then said the grand total would be $800. We were already in for $400, and i debated which would be easier to tell Eric, that I wound up an $800 bill or I had his dog killed, and opted on the bill (he could always kill her later and not pay the bill but bringing the dog back from the great beyond seems a little out of his power). So I reluctantly agreed and I reflected on “the bait and switch”, which i understand is under consideration for replacing e pluribus unum on our coinage. A couple of days I picked her up (I didn’t visit her at the hospital she’s just a dog). She had a ridiculous cone on her head which I enjoyed teasing her about and had a case of expensive vet pet food. I also got the bill which was over $1,000. Now missing her estimate by 25% is outrageous. There was no complications or unexpected expenses and this is a super-common procedure so it was bald deception, because she could sense i would have taken the $100 dead dog option had she been straightforward. And this is why i hate veterinarians and our greed driven capitalist enterprise of a society. She is the expert, I am just a nice guy trying to do the right thing. She uses her special knowledge to paint a picture that makes her the most money. I had the same issue when i had a cat (a good winker that i lost in the divorce) and our vet was always going for the add on sale. The final straw was after jacking us for 3 canine leukemia vaccinations (unnecessary for indoor cats i believe, but they guilted us into it) they tried to sell me a test for canine leukemia. I asked: “Is their a cure?” knowing from their previous sales pitch their wasn’t, and they said no. “Then we’d rather not know”. Now, i’m not saying we need a “truth in veterinary care” law or a government ombudsperson to do personal consultations. I’m just saying we as individuals have a sacred duty to honesty, integrity, and fairplay, especially when their is wild disparities in power, and knowledge is power my friend. There are more important things than the bottem line, and quarterly profits be damned, because this sales methodology creates doubt and confusion and these are not good things. Its the same reason I don’t go to the dentist. I just don’t trust them to tell me the truth. No matter what the condition of my teeth i know they are going to hard sell me a procedure i may or may not need. I’ll take my chances with nature taking its course. She can be a harsh mistress but she at least knows how to tell the truth and can give a flying fuck for the bottem line.

Categories: dogs

Fantasy Trip

January 17, 2008 1 comment


If I were to abandon my current life and travel say around the middle of March it would look like this: I’d drive down to NV to see my Dad, assuming he’s still there, for a couple of weeks. Besides hanging out in Mesquite I’d (we’d) probably do a long camp at the Valley of Fire and perhaps Lake Mead. By April I’d swing up through the Midwest camping and seeing the sights along the way through Chicagoland and a long visit home (SE MI and NW OH). I’d then like to drive out to the DC area, see Jillian, do the DC tourist thing, maybe camp in Shenandoah, and hopefully leave the truck there though I haven’t asked yet because this is a fantasy. I’d then probably take a bus down to North Carolina, hitch the last 60 miles to the Nantahala (spell checks as Not taxable) National Forest and pick up the Appalachian Trail where Amee and I ended our ill-fated trip. This would be in early May, maybe the 2nd week or so and I would hike until some time in early July. Maybe pick up 350 trail miles, lord willing. Then I’d fetch back my truck and drive back to SEMINWOH for my niece’s wedding in July. Then I’d ride out to Yellow Stone with John and the Popster (assuming he’s not just in visiting from driving around escorting big trucks around) and ultimately landing in the Bay Area for a month or so, its getting hazier here. I might then like to hitch up the coast, camping and seeing the sights along the way and visit John and Lisa and Terry and Christin in Eugene and Corvalis, respectively. By this time I would be anticipating getting low on funds and wearing a bit thin on constant travel and might be thinking about getting the truck and getting back to Mesquite, Toledo, Columbia, Berkeley, or Some Place Else and doing that thing for a while.


Or I could learn to see the strengths in my current position, my clinical freedom, good pay, and ability to help people in a meaningful way. I could re-invest my off-work time with meaning and purpose and put my capital into some project, a house, storefront, rural property, something else. I could work out, quit smoking, and socialize more. Meet a good woman and settle down. All right probably not in the 6 months I sketched out in the fantasy scenario but close. But if I could do scenario 2 why aren’t I? Fantasies, I’m afraid, must be enacted or discarded.

Categories: travel

A Theory of Cluster Headaches

January 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Classic migraines, like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other psychosomatic disorders have no known physical etiology. They are all based in an over stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, the fight, flight, or freeze response to perceived stressors. Cluster headaches are not in this class of disorders even though the symptomology is identical. Cluster headaches are identified by their peculiar pattern of appearing in high frequency over shorter periods of time and then going away for longer periods. Since most of biofeedback involves consciously allowing the sympathetic nervous system to back down through a process of passive volition based upon receiving precise data on the body’s state, cluster headaches are not as amenable to this safe, easy, and effective treatment. In addition the psychosomatic disorders are all amenable to treatment in learning to manage or cope with stressors while cluster headaches, not so much. While individual headaches can sometimes be associated with discrete triggers, like some migraines, the timing of overall clusters has appeared to be less associated with life circumstance. There is an association with the type of person who gets cluster headaches. It is usually men, often driven, with a tendency towards heavy smoking and drinking. Even though I fit this pattern it does not follow that it is caused by the smoking or drinking as for my case the cluster headaches preceded that behavior by many years. I believe cluster headaches are caused by a failure of the parasympathetic nervous system, the part that relaxes us. I believe that because of the drive to accomplish based in our consciousness we operate in more structured and less naturally cyclic manner and our parasympathetic nervous system becomes strained in maintaining homeostasis. Periodically the system becomes tapped out leading to very similar symptoms of sympathetic nervous system disregulation. 

Categories: health

battered woman’s syndrome

January 17, 2008 Leave a comment

I have to write about my latest attempt to be an expert witness on domestic violence. I was called by a Callaway County Public Defender and asked to serve as an expert witness in a tampering with a prescription case. It was his assertion that she was coerced into it by her longtime abusive live-together-partner. I agreed to do so as much as to get a chance to educate a court and jury about domestic violence as for anything else. For those not from Mid-Missouri Callaway is a rural county most known for being the short lived Kingdom of Callaway when they declared their independence during the Civil War. It is now known for being parochial and rumored to be severely in-bred. So I am scheduled to testify around 1:00 pm, I don’t hear anything from the PD so I call him the day before and he tells me he needs me there at 9:00 am to check in. His other expert had a death in the family and couldn’t testify and the judge denied him a continuance since I was on the witness list. I show up and wait 2 hours to talk to the PD. He tells me Judge Oxenhandler (I call this prick out by name) has disallowed a domestic violence defense because the victim was not married to her abuser. He also asks if I will stick around until the afternoon as he wanted to present my testimony to the judge while the jury is out so he can appeal that this info should have been let in. I agree, in for a penny in for a pound. So I wait until close to 3:00 to learn that the judge was disallowing my testimony because I lacked licensure and couldn’t talk about battered women’s syndrome. Now this whole medicalization of a social problem is ridiculous. Victims of domestic violence are not experiencing a syndrome like its some kind of disease they are victims of a crime. If my stereo is stolen I am not experiencing stereo theft syndrome I have been victimized. Being victimized leaves very real consequences but the court’s attempt to medicalize it shifts the focus from accountability for the offender to something being wrong with the victim. It is ridiculous, tragic, and the whole day turned out to be a fiasco. Judges do not want to really examine the real nature and dynamics of domestic violence because it would challenge the cut and dry assumptions of our unconscious patriarchy. Or perhaps conscious as the previous judge i was testifying before stated a domestic violence defense was an “attack at the very fabric of our society”. True no doubt, but an attack long overdue.

Categories: politics

Obligatory Vacation Blog

January 10, 2008 1 comment

One of the nice things about family get-togethers is nostalgic reminiscences. One of the things my brother John and I reminiscenced about was spending summers on the road with Dad and getting to report on what we did on our summer vacation when we were shackled back in our student desks. The trip itself called out for such remembrances tooling around with Dad in his big Ford 250 diesel was a lot like cruising around in the old semi, although I got to sit in the back seat instead of on the dog house (the plastic covering over the engine that rose up between the seats in old cab-overs.


I flew out of Kansas City after driving there because my return flight was too late for the shuttle. I got out just after the snow started falling and got to witness my first wing de-icing. Not an inspiring sight as the first wing they cleared was covered over before the second wing was done and we were off. I flew into Las Vegas, which John said was Spanish for Devil’s Anus. I think it harkens back to imperial Rome and makes me more sure of who we are as Americans. History is not going to look on us kindly. Its kind of pretty in its gaudy tawdriness, especially at night, even as it screams its wrongness.


But Vegas was just an airport, our real stopover was in my Dad’s chosen hometown of Mesquite, just north of there. Got to see Dad’s little efficiency which seems more like an extended stay hotel but it seems to suit the Popster pretty well. We had one of those buffets and met Dad’s buddy Dora. She was sweet and charming and I’m glad he’s found someone to at least hang out with. We decided too skip the longer trip we had planned through AZ and go to Death Valley instead. John and I had done Christmas there 3 years ago and it was pretty fun and Dad had never been. I had been there 3 times previously, although John doesn’t count my first time because we just drove through because it was so damn hot and we went through a part of the park not in the valley. I count it because it was a long ass drive and we saw a lot of cool stuff.


We camped our first night on possibly BLM land outside the park. The dogs loved it there running wild in the wild. John has two dogs these days adding Smokey (aka Doo Doo) a pretty rambunctious Australian cattle dog to the world famous Shadow (try googling “ornery critter” aka Fat Dog). My dad got a puppy who I was glad to finally meet named Myrtle (John nicknamed her turtle which caught on and I got to calling her Princess Mildred down the stretch). Traveling with a pack of dogs takes a little patience and some planning but it can be a hoot. I especially got a kick out of waking up to hearing John yelling and then having him tell me Smokey pissed all over him (glad I decided to bring my own tent). I would have been more sympathetic if it wasn’t so fucking hilarious. Princess Mildred and I were the only ones who heard the coyotes that night, but Smokey was out after the horse rider in the early morning.


A word about Smokey. John is one of the most conscientious and attentive dog owners I have known but Smokey is a handful. John tried hard on the reward system that made Shadow such a great dog to be around but it didn’t take with the Smokester. After failing to find someone more likely to make a good dog out of her John sent her to reform school for a couple of weeks and they largely shaped her up. The technique is mostly built around a choke collar and swift punishment for not listening. It also involves bopping her for misbehavior which is kind of fun. I can see why she needs the tough treatment when I bopped her one for beating up Princess Mildred and she was ready to throw down. Smokey and I ended up becoming pretty good friends although she chewed up my glasses on our last night together.


With dogs in tow, a little piss soaked but still optimistic we drove into the park saw some sights and camped off a jeep trail near Hole in the Wall (most parks in the West have got one). It was a nice sight except for when the Santa Anna winds kicked up and our tents blew away. Mine ended up about 100 yards down the canyon and John’s went a good ½ mile and he and Dad had to go driving to find it. Fortunately we weren’t in it in the time and they were both sort of structurally intact (John’s has some holes and my zipper is fucked possibly terminally). It at least got out the smell of piss John reported. My Dad had called it too so he got a big kick out of that.


After a couple of days of seeing the sights we drove into Beaty NV for a hotel and more casino cooking. We stopped off in Rhyolite an old ghost town from the turn of the century that is pretty cool being mostly structurally intact. We also stopped by the cemetery in Bullfrog, which was new to all of us and pretty neat. We later drove through this really cool cemetery with mausoleums carved into the rocky hillsides, speaking of cemeteries.


We then drove back into the park and camped right in the valley. It was backed by a hillock which was a nice windbreak and had a 270 view of the colorful mountains that surround the valley. I can’t describe how beautiful it is there, even being largely devoid of life. Moths were our best critter siting and their aren’t even cactus there, just some mesquite looking things and a lot of this bunch grass (its all the salts in the soil, in better times Death Valley is a lake bed). Its got volcanic action going on and sedimentary stuff and the rocks are just so colorful in so many different ways. Anyways, its one of the 5 prettiest campsites I’ve had and I’ve had some amazing ones.


From there we drove out to an abandoned mine and climbed back inside. It was a very Scooby Doo moment walking down the shaft over the little train tracks with 100-year-old wooden bracings sharing a flashlight with 3 people and a pack of dogs. “Don’t fall in a hole” John told them and none of us did.


After a return trip to Beaty we motored back to Mesquite to lounge for a couple days at the casino hotel. It was nice to have some good time to relax before leaping back into the salt mines. That was delayed when I broke my key off in my truck door at the KC airport at 2:00 am. It was 9 degrees my coat was in the truck and it took me till 6:00 am to get a tow truck out. I ended up getting home, changing clothes and going to work. Thank God my 10:00 cancelled and I got to run home and sleep for an hour.


All in all it was a fun trip. If you ever get a chance to ride around with my dad and brother through Death Valley I would definitely recommend that you take it. They were both excellent hosts for the West for this Midwesterner.


Categories: travel

fairly new poem

Sorry I haven’t posted. I am still planning to write about my vacation to Death Valley relatively soon but thought i better throw something new up here, so here is a poem i wrote and forgot about in my planner. It may be called “spinach or chard” but that could be part of a shopping list.

The question is ambivilance

The heart can host a storm

Immersed in infinity

I don’t remember being born

I look forward to hello

But don’t begrudge goodbye

My life may be a hurricane

But I live in the eye

The I, the aye, the eye.

For I am an observer

I know I know I know

I see what I might see

I see where I might go

My mind’s eye is even greater

It sees what is not there

And climbs the highest mountains

Can be every one and every where.

And I am just a spark

Of this eternal raging fire

For I have felt its burning

Though you dare to call me liar

There is no God, God does not exist

Its just a mystic’s dream

A fairy story for scared kids at night

For some that’s how it seems

But I have tasted of the fruit

And dared to take the time

To delve into my deepest self

From horror to sublime

And I have seen divinity

Looked it square in the eye

Everything collapses into probability

Without the observer’s I.

And I know I know not everything

But I know I know I can

And I suspect I’m not unique in this

But just a simple man

And I have seen the many others

And felt they’re just the same

Where ever eyes create the world

Surely God has came.

Categories: poetry