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I Save The Day

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Visiting Taif. You drive up mountain roads. And it seems the bus was slow. And there is a zoo which was on the list of activities and places to visit. I had a camel encounter. Friendly, I’ve heard they can be temperamental. But the zoo camel was friendly. The elephants sprayed water at you. Fortunately, I watched as a couple nurses were set up and drenched. Those elephants are smart.

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The group but their banner across the front of the bus. Nice touch. About 30 minutes later the bus overheated. The driver stopped, pulled his cellphone, and called the hospital for help. No A/C, it was getting hot on the bus! Light bulb! Yeah, you guessed. That darn banner cut off air flow to the engine. We removed it and were on our way in 10 minutes. Saved! Yes, I did save the day on that one. Did I tell you I know a little bit about lots of things…


Gambling

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While spinning wheels are on my mind I’d like to tell you another story. Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Worldwide and from across the USA people come. The traffic line was more than a mile long. And no one cut in. My my, what a polite crowd. Big? You bet! And just to see sheep, really? Yup. I was pretty impressed. The hillside was covered with cars. They’ve done this before. And the fairgrounds were packed.

Gambling? There was an auction. People were selling. Part of the sale went to support the next fair. You name it, there were things of value and junk. Outright junk. You sort and figure is all out. A single spinning wheel, a very special one, never before on the auction block went for more than $2000. And junk was sold for $5. You had to bid. It was friendly as long as you weren’t bidding against a nut case. You also need to have an idea of price. Oh yeah! Like I know spinning wheels and the cost of looms. Good stuff. As is. Who knows. Old things and brand new in the box. So I watched. Saw that $2000 wheel go to a woman whose husband approved. My my, that’s a lot. And then I put in a bid on a flax spining wheel. I got a nod. The auctioneer was not looking my way. I had to make noise. You sort of grunt ascent and wave your hand. Don’t look like you are scratching your head. And then it comes down to two or three women who stay in and drive up the price until the determination in my eye or the price exceeds their desire. Got it. As in, I bought it.  No, silly, I didn’t take a picture. I don’t shoot everything.

The last time I did an auction was back when my kids were 8 or 10 years old. Their school auctioned off a large white stuffed bear. How large? Bigger than my two kids combined. They were impressed. Me too! I got it for about $20. The very next year at the same auction I got another but smaller bear for another $20. After that never again. I’m not a gambler by nature. I think that I would be tempted and lose the family farm if I were in Las Vegas. The worst I ever did was lose $5 in Atlantic City. (We had to pay for parking to enter the casino.)

I was in Puerto Rico at a spine meeting and the hotel had a casino. An orthopedic friend of mine handed his girlfriend $20 and told her to have fun. She went to the roulette table and damn if she didn’t parlay that money into $5000. Wow. She bet corners and lines and …. She hit the number a few times. Double wow! So years later during a family vacation at the Tyler Place in Vermont, lo and behold – Casino Night! $5 got you a Styrofoam cup of chips. Using my knowledge of roulette, I lost that cup of chips in less than 30 seconds. I walked away much the wiser. Nope. I don’t gamble.


Fun

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I’m not much of a museum buff. No real photo ops. Still, there are some fun things. American Gothic. A classic. It needs no introduction. It’s in my psyche. So, to see it up close and personal was fun. I’ve been to the Chicago Art Institute before. Darn, if I remember the painting was there. Still is. And will be when I come back. Maybe (I’ll come back)? So my feet are tired and we needed to get a little less serious about all this art. Actually another woman did this first. I actually had an umbrella. But the security guards are too tight assed. I shouldn’t have asked first. Just take out the umbrella, get the shot, and be gone before they notice. But with TSA, one does not mess with Mother Nature. Nope. Not permitted. They strictly told us at the door to carry our back packs in hand and not on our back. It might swing and damage something. Inside people did as they pleased. Too many people disobeying to really try to police. Oh well…civil disobedience. We made light of it all. No rain for days….

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Terracotta Warriors

Not too often is there something I’d like to see or do. A couple things on my short list would include the exhibition of Chinese human anatomical dissections and another is Cirque du Soleil. SFSG. Riding the bus at the Chicago meeting I noticed signs proudly proclaiming there were terracotta warriors on exhibit at the Field Museum. The entire army is more than 6000. I just finished a novel in which the setting was in China at the site. A chance! Up close! Alas, it wasn’t the 6000 or even close. But there were some. And it was fascinating to read about it. And then I got to see them up close. No I did not get to touch. Many of the warriors were broken into fragments and were painstakingly reassembled and restored. The ultimate puzzle game! And I did not know that they were originally colorful. The dyes had faded with age. Outside the exhibit I got to pose with them. Cute!

I don’t usually go to the museum in a suit. We had rushed over from the meeting witouth time to change. Did I tell you the one where I was at the meeting in Los Angeles? Universal Studios. We had the opening reception there. 2000 or so neurosurgeons showed up for the evening event all dressed in suits. We rode in the trams sitting tall and straight. The bedraggled tourists, kids in tow, leaving at the end of the day, looked upon this rank and file and thought we must have been brought in as extras for Men In Black. Yes. We all wear dark suits. It’s a uniform. No Hawaiian print. Not for this conservative group! Nope. Nada. And the entertainment band was wildly playing out their hearts. Sweat poured in the warm evening. And when the band finished it’s number, the audience stared back at them. No one applauded. Would this be the definition of a stuffed shirt? So I laugh at myself too. And I try not to wear a tie unless I must. But at the national meeting it’s easier to blend in with the boys then to fight city hall. You don’t have to change your suit. No one will notice.


HB – Happy Happy

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Happy Birthday. I just remember the day. Eric was born on the last day of third grade for me. That would be Elkins First Ward School. Lot of memories there. I awoke and mom had delivered overnight. Dad was getting us breakfast. John and me. He had left us alone overnight. We slept and never knew it. I barely remember when John was born. All I remember is that they kept acting like I might be jealous of someone new in the house. He did not affect me in the least. We were expecting a girl (Eric). Hoping for a girl. I don’t know why. It seems ok by me that I got another brother. His name is closer to the front of the alphabet. And he got a middle name.

Me? My mother used a baby name book. She bailed at V. WXYZ not too much further to go. And no middle name. “T” it was on my birth certificate. No, I did not know till I was sixteen. My first summer job as a waiter in a camp and when they returned our birth certificates someone pointed it out. “Oh, well, I didn’t have a first name for you. So I just saved a spot.” Great story. And each brother got a letter closer to the front of the alphabet.

My mother was one of seven children. The last three were sisters. The youngest sister my dear Auntie Fu Ching told me after my mother had passed away, “Your mother lied on your birth certificate.” Huh? The older sister Emily told her she was too old to have a baby (me). So she told my mother, “Lie about your age.” Great! I have looked and I know that I am not a girl.

You’d be surprised but a lot of Chinese guys have my name. I can’t get my name alone as an identifier for email or username. The most fun I had was entering Hong Kong after I visited China. I was separated from my group and placed in a room with a very nice man with a rifle. It was clear he was guarding me. I, of course, did not have a guilty conscience. But I cooled my heels for a while. And when released (I was released with a smile) my friend informed me that the customs folks thought they had just caught one of the big drug smugglers with my same name. Geez!


I Lost

Bigg’s Museum ran a photo contest and I was seduced into entering. Like everything else I did not spend too much time in selecting three images for submission. You got to enter three images for $35. I think it was a fundraiser for the museum. I was persuaded to do this. Flattered into doing it. You know the drill. So I collected about twenty shots and they were passed around and around. The jury of my close admirers picked and debated. I submitted these images. I am perfectly happy to have lost. Someone better than me won. The images make me happy. In the end I have so many images that are good. Some are technically good. And others are artistically sound. There’s a difference.

The best example I could give was in painting figures. Dave and I painted detailed figures for a game we played. Jules did for a while but then lost interest. Dave kept me at it. I was technically sound. After all I was a surgeon and good with fine detail. So I could paint tiny detail and get it just so. Dave painted too. He was a kid. Mistakes and all. But his finished product was better than mine. Forget detail. We had both painted the same figures and his were better. Art. He had that “je ne sais quoi” (I don’t know what) that cannot be translated by technical excellence. That’s the difference in knowing and winning. I’m just happy that there are some folks who like what I’ve done.

By the way, the fish kissing was real and not post processed. Yes, they came together for a second, long enough for me to get the shot. I imagine it wasn’t kissing but then again, what else?


Gun Battery

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The site of the watchtowers had gun batteries of all sorts. This site gu.arded Cape May and it required guns capable of throwing a projectile more than ten miles. This would guard the harbor in case of invasion by ship. In other words it could hurl a shell from Delaware across the water to New Jersey. As near as I can estimate this took a 16 inch artillery shell.

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And of course, this required a very large gun. So we had an opportunity to look at the gun and shell up close. It’s a very large canon. And it shoots a big shell. And the armor it will pierce is quite thick. How thick? As much as David’s forearm thick.

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Are you impressed? I am. And to think this all started from a Chinese invention for fireworks and progressed to mass destruction from miles away with truly massive armament. And all of this is antiquated and way out of fashion. I do not believe such a shell or gun would ever be of use nowadays.

IMG_4463It appears that the principle of groves in a rifle barrel to create spin to improve accuracy is applied to large canon as well. Ignore the trash. This is a big gun!


Leaping – Wall

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Remember the wall? The nine foot one from yesterday? Hey! Sometimes the posts link. Jumping is an art. To do it the lazy way needs no real leap of height. It’s an illusion. Just bend your knees as you go. Then you will look high without hurting yourself. It also helps if the photographer (you know who you are) presses the shutter while you are in the air. Otherwise it looks like you are holding up your hands at a stick up. Hmmmm? That begs the question, do you know what, “Meet you at the pass” means? It’s an old west term from the movies, when the bandits split up to escape the posse. They would say, “Split up. We’ll meet again at the pass.” It seems they don’t say that in the movies any more. And you need to be a certain age (old) to know the term.

So there was this metal bridge in the park that cut over and across the highway.

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Neat. It made for a photo op. I did not have time to plan. It was cold and slightly rainy. Windy. Hey, it was Chicago! No standing around in the rain.


Mike and Me – He’s the Big Guy

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Yup. That’s me with Mike. Who? Mike Singletary of the Chicago Bears, Super Bowl Champs of 1985. Yeah, it’s like when were there four Beatles? Who? Who were the Beatles? Old. Me. Yup. The Bears won that year with a marvelous defense. The Giants – my beloved NY team won the following year. The Bears wupped their butts (Giants) on the way to their championship. Too much history? Mike came to speak at our national meeting. Last year it was Peyton Manning. Is there a theme? At least it wasn’t Ben Carson again. Get it? I’m a neurosurgeon and he came out during our last meeting. Not Mike, Ben. Too confusing?

Well, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons meets once a year. And there are invited speakers. We are a very conservative lot. Not me. Them. Maybe there are a few progressives and even some Democrats among us. I, for one, don’t care to have my politics mixed with business. And, no, I don’t wear striped underwear or boxers. Bet you wanted to know that too.

We had Bush – you know – GW – give the Cushing oration. Cushing, he was the modern godfather of neurosurgery. In fact, Cushing trained Davidoff; Davidoff trained Ransahoff; and Ransahoff tranined me. So I am pedigreed. I digress. Mike was invited to speak and the NFL came. Everyone did a little PC dance and no one said, “Don’t do it!” And we heard a discussion about chronic traumatic encephalopathy CTE. Mama, don’t let your kids grow up to be Cowboys (Dallas) and don’t let them play football. Mike claims he only had a concussion twice. Lucky! He’s still sharp. Once was William “Refrigerator” Perry. I bet that was a boatload of fun. Meanwhile I got a picture at our opening reception. He’s a sports hero of sorts. I have many. But boy was it fun! Yes! Mike and me.

Oh! Bush? The security was so tight that they did not announce he was coming until the meeting started. There was no obvious secret service presence. However, bags were checked and it was  strictly no photographs. Some secretly used their cellphones. I’m way too cool for that! W actually spoke coherently. To listen to him one could understand that his TV demeanor was hardly like his real life thinking. Nice guy?! Hey, don’t tell. I voted for him once.

The second election was scheduled just after our fall meeting. Gorbachev was the speaker. Remember him? The room was packed. A member of our national leadership rose and spoke – I thought to introduce Gorbachev. Nope. He said, “Bush will sign medical malpractice reform if it passes congress. Kerry and Edwards will not.” He sat. The room was silent. And the implication was clear. Though I knew there was not a snowball’s chance in hell medmal reform would pass I voted special interest. It was the one and only time I have ever voted for a presidential winner. Yeah, twice I voted for anarchy and Ross Perot. Don’t shoot me, ma? Please.


HB HB!

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Yes, Happy Birthday Dave. Big one! Thirty years ago. His obstetrician showed up sleepy eyed. She was a member of a group so I met her for the first time in the delivery room. Her name was Ida. Hey! Get it? Ida Ho. The state, the potato, one of the names I wanted for my kids. Or Ivan… She was not too comical at 4AM. And poor Aunt Audrey was there at home taking care of Jules, his sister. She had asked that Dave not be born in the wee hours. She was sweet. She came from the Bronx to watch Julia in the middle of the night. And, my chief resident had last said to me, “Don’t go into labor, we got a big operation in the morning.” And, it was a terribly difficult vertebral artery aneurysm. And of course, we postponed the operation. In order to assuage the poor patient, I told him that I had named my son after him. A year later he appeared for his post op visit and asked how his boy was. My puzzled look was followed by, “You know! Vincent! Vincent Pallazoto Jr.” Oh, yeah!

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This is wedding weekend again. You just gotta love the shot. We had a muscle car courtesy of the rental upgrade in Los Angeles. A Dodge Challenger! Yes, it’s a fast car. We never did get to drive it fast. But the boys looked cool sitting on it.

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And for Susan, here’s another shot of the kids as they are today. And for those who want to see the dad, here I am again.


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