Noa Lila was born on the 20th of January. I nearly forgot to photograph the news headline the day she was born. In Delaware the NY Times is delivered a few days late. In this case my local library had a newspaper from January 14. No good. On January 24 in the library in New Castle, I caught up to recent headlines on January 20. Newspaper? I read the internet NY Times and it is updated multiple times a day. Who reads a paper? It’s so old and out of date. Hence, the newspaper shows up at the library days later. Old news, historical interest. It is/was the news on the day you were born. It wasn’t as cool as the super blood wolf moon that night.
See it for yourself. This is one interpretation. The picture is viral. The student depicted has received death threats. He’s wearing a MAGA hat. Is it a smirk on his face? Or is it respect or disrespect? Freedom of speech for both parties? One can argue either way/side. It was certainly more complicated than this single image suggests. Are we in or out of context here? Does a picture say a thousand words? Things could have been so different or done differently. The controversy is Catch 22. Damn or be damned, you are in the middle. I see this one way. We all have to choose. And you do too.
Vantage Point – the movie – 2008 – Dennis Quaid, Forrest Whitaker, William Hurt
NYT today. I was impressed and surprised by the array of assault weapons available for purchase right now.
“Gun-related deaths are increasing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in December that the nearly 40,000 people who died from firearms injuries in the United States in 2017 was more than any other year since at least 1968. Nearly two-thirds of those deaths were suicides. The rate of gun deaths also increased to 12 deaths for every 100,000 people, the highest since the mid-1990s.
…A New York Times analysis published in February found that 173 people have been killed since 2007 in mass shootings involving AR-15s. Yet they don’t make up a large chunk of gun violence in America, Mr. Heyne said.”
So, one can argue that assault weapons don’t kill many people. I guess 173 dead is not a large number. Do you remember? When I would watch Public Television news in the late 1990’s every evening would conclude with remembrance of a lost soldier killed in action in the Afghan/Iraq war. One, two…. It was never mass death. That was military. Civilian? Is there justification? 9/11, we went to war for several thousand civilian deaths. What is the lower limit of our tolerance. 40,000? Did you know? TMI. There’s simply not enough time to absorb the news. I daresay someone will call this overblown and “fake news.” The NRA has brought a law suit. They are still trying to look relevant. At 17 you can obtain parental consent to join the Army.
… our fearless leader. As soon as the bombs were intercepted, there was but a moment’s pause when our fearless leader floated the idea that democrats were behind the plot in order to throw the upcoming election their way. Thanks to the efforts of the the “terrible” FBI and others (“equally incompetent”), a suspect with ties to the right wing and ties to the biggest liar of them all – do you need to be called out by your name trump? He got a pic with you. Yes, a pic with trump not with a democrat. Oh, that’s rich too. You can say he set that up as well. There’s only so many incredulous lies you can tell. Is there anything you won’t turn around and just simply lie about? I hope regular folk are listening. As to those of you who embrace the lies, I am bewildered and saddened.
Read: The vest says FBI. The suspect has posted a pic of himself at a trump rally.
I was struck by the salacious headlines. I wonder how they got this information? And, who got it, and who leaked it? Detail? Huh!? So! I can tell you from all my years of carving a Thanksgiving turkey…. I can’t do this in seven minutes. Couldn’t! … not even with 14 assistants. I’ve been told that the first historical limb amputation was performed in 40 seconds by a French surgeon. The assistant lost several fingers. Geez! I think that if these facts can be proven, Guinness should issue a new record. Hey! I’m a surgeon. I should be able to take this heinous act in context from a certain technical point of view. Lies! Who’s Pinocchio today?
Spin is where you take the facts and make them fit your narrative. Facts are facts aren’t they? What’s news? What’s honest reporting? How do you interpret the news? Are you republican? How do you interpret this stuff? It’s not true because the sources are lying to you? Have you been reading this stuff? You decide what’s truth. I’ve got my own opinion. There is a great disconnect when our dear leader says he’s more popular than Lincoln. I don’t think so. As PT Barnum famously never said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” The above image is the current NY Times page. What are you?
Good news. Dec 5. Our fearless leader decertified 2,000,000 – two million acres – of national park in the name of states rights. Billy Bush said, “Yes he (Trump) said, ‘he (Trump) grabbed pussy.'” DT is out with full support of another fellow molester – Moore. Delicious irony?? Meanwhile TV/broadcast anchors are being fired left and right. Yeah, it’s all fake news! The tax bill will hurt blue states – a neat trick by the Republicans. It’s better than gerrymandering except you can’t gerrymander the presidency or the senate.
And then there are these two pictures. The first was drawn on the homework of a student by his step father a tattoo artist known to make offensive jokes. Look closely! It depicts a school shooting?!!! He was charged with a felony. Stay tuned. What about freedom of speech? What about dead kids? Go figure.
The second tattoo shows up across the collarbone of a patient who arrived in the ER unconscious and in need of medical care. Do NOT resuscitate. Hmmmm… they considered what to do? The signature is blurred in the lower right. Therein lies a debate??!! It’s good that the man arrived and slowly died. The decision was referred to an ethics expert who determined that the patient meant what he had tattooed. Ah! I’m glad an instant decision could be deferred. This was a tough one. What would you do? We rehearse, “what if?’ scenarios all the time. It means that you have a plan “in case of.”
Are you having a good day yet? It’s bright and sunny where I am. I’m in a good place. …but, I won’t say where.
When John F Kennedy was elected, he was JFK. Later it was LBJ. No one else is really known by their initials. I was in a salvage shop and on the counter, was a stack of my hometown newspapers. Yellowed dog eared, there sat a stack of three on top. Stunned, I looked at each. The third one down carried the fateful headline that rocked my childhood. Yup! The woman at the counter was a kid. For her it was 9/11. We all have our moment. I had just gotten done with track practice. The ‘chief executive’ was dead. Denial. They didn’t say ‘President.” Maybe it was not so. It was one of the few times I ever saw my mother cry, as she watched the funeral on our Philco black and white TV. Years later, from a fellow neurosurgeon, I heard the tale of that day in Parkland Hospital ER. JFK was brought in by ambulance. It did not take the neurosurgeon more than a moment to glance over and pronounce him a “goner.” He related that he was next looking at a .45 pistol as the Secret Service told him divert his attention back and to attend the case “now.” It was only then he realized who the gunshot victim was. Gunshot injuries to the head never cease to make the ER staff breathlessly call you. But the secret is that the bullet settled the argument on the street. You arrive in the ER dead or alive. The role of neurosurgery is limited.
I will quickly recall a phone call I received at 3AM when I was chief resident at Bellevue. “We’re getting a gunshot to the head from Columbia.” my junior resident related. At 3AM it’s a rule. Make sure I am speaking in sentences before you give me information. Columbia? The South American country.
No! Columbia University – Neurological Institute of New York, the pre-eminent “Ivory Tower” uptown. Why? “…because they are not taking gunshots tonight.”
It turned out that my counterpart chief resident at Columbia was too lazy to get his ass out of bed in the middle of the night so he turned the case down and sloughed it off downtown.
Happy ending! The bullet was lodged under the scalp and had never penetrated the skull. My junior resident removed the bullet at the bedside in the ER slot and in an act of cheekiness sent the bullet fragment with our complements to Columbia. Our respective departmental chairmen had some choice words to share in the morning. Life goes on in the big city….
That reminds me of when the orthopedic surgery resident put a patient in traction by driving a Steinman pin through and through the skull….
I am of an age that I remember December 7 in the abstract. My dad and mom were directly involved in WWII in China. Both were in danger. I only knew of the moment of remembrance every year in elementary school in West Virginia. I grew up free and without fear. So, it was interesting to come across the Daily News headline from so many years ago. The Kennedy assassination was my first tragedy. For others it was the space shuttle. And then, there was 9/11. History and memory fade with time. The significance is certainly different if you lived in the moment. I was not yet born on the day of this infamy. And it was completely random that I was in an antique store in time to post this thought.
A bomber and his bomb went off in a spot close to where I live and work. In fact, the bomb went off within hours, maybe less, after I passed by the area in the middle of the night. If I say minutes someone will pull my ticket and make me come home…
I have a knack for being close to news happening. Currently based in the Middle East, I have raised lots of concern from people who care about me. And those people know I live life on the edge and am not risk averse. That said, I have been safe. I have never felt in danger. More crime happened near or to me in New York City.
Recent events (last night) – namely a bombing close to me has raised concern from a lot of people. So I suppose it is apropos to post and reassure you. To start you have to know that I am wired a bit differently than most people. I’ve been to lots of places and done lots of things. I’ve been in or close to news stories before. I’ve been mentioned in the New York Times: Once for winning the hurdle event in the Manhattan Borough track championship. (Hey! I digress! It’s my blog.) And the second was more extended coverage of a neurosurgeon who operated on the wrong side of the brain. (No comment) He is the sentinel case that triggered “Time Out” in the operating room. (How’s that for being in history.) Hey! I was on the sports page before I ever knew or read a sports page! The other story is sad, sad and someone died.
I’m gonna make this story long and convoluted. Bear with me, it’s entertaining (or not) for sure. To start, I take pictures of everything. And to be sure, I have more than 200, 000 digital images alone. They are spread across a myriad of devices and on multiply redundant hard drives. So to find anything is a feat of memory and ingenuity. I know I have taken a shot (a picture, silly) of the bomb site. Find it?! It took all of about 30 minutes. I knew that I did it quietly. No one should be seen to appear to case the American Embassy. And after searching, voila! I have actually shown and commented on the security to friends in a slide presentation back in 2014. Who knew these nondescript photos would be handy someday later on.
Back to risk – When I first visited Jeddah to interview for a job, I was taken to a wealthy residence to dive. I don’t dive. I did not have lessons yet. So, I snorkeled. My three companions went diving. I stayed on the surface with a point and shoot camera just playing with the fish. Peaceful. Calm. Tropical. Nice. My snorkel stood up and out like a flag. The passing coast guard patrol boat immediately swung around to investigate and then tried to arrest me. Without a worry in the world and without a shred of guilt in my heart, I was completely nonplussed. What followed was a mess that should have warned me. (But of course not…) The officer actually tried to pull me into the boat. I knew better than to be separated from the group without a translator. And besides there is no way to climb into a patrol boat without a ladder. They asked me to climb up on the outboard and in. Nope, not happening!
They sent me to shore. The adjoining villas are all walled from each other. I was motioned to the end of the wall and facing the ocean I could see around the wall to the neighbors place. I was greeted by the caretaker and his two AK-47 armed guards. Now it was serious. But at least no one was shooting. The other three divers soon emerged. As they swam to the surface you could see their bubble trail left to right from the neighbor’s water to the villa we were diving from. Aha! Trespassing! And not in just anyone’s water, it was the prince of terrorism’s palace we had transgressed. Well, they did it; remember, I was snorkeling (in bounds).
This prince was famous for stamping out terrorism years. It was bad politics and bad for business. So the story goes: he offered $1million dollar bounty on any terrorist. And the story continues, that people turned in their sons and brothers. Peace or relative peace followed.
So? We were suspicious assassins swimming in his water. It’s not his water. Certainly the fish do not recognize borders! But here we were. And then we were hauled off to the coast guard station for twelve hours! They knew right away that we were innocent. But the paperwork! took 12! hours. A very nice office wrote out, by hand, in careful perfect Arabic script a report for each of us. Three would be identical copies but he wrote out each separately and painstakingly. After all how long does it take to write? You can’t make this stuff up. Someone from the hospital actually had to come and vouch for my orthopedic surgeon host and me. (Later we found out the CEO’s father and the coast guard’s general were friends and we’d have been free fast. Who knew?) Afterward, like Alice’s Restaurant, we all shook hands, and took the phone number of the lieutenant just in case we were ever in a jam again.
The order of the blue thumb – you don’t sign documents in Jeddah. You leave your thumb print. So each of us had to attest to our guilt – what me?! – by inking our thumb at every statement the officer wrote. That was a lot of thumb prints. Not one – a lot! And then no alcohol to wipe the ink off…. So, you see? I actually came back to work in this crazy place six months later. Don’t ask. The orthopedic surgeon and I are good friends now. He never asked.
So two days ago on July 3rd I was called. Routine. I get calls for emergencies all the time. A recently retired orthopedic surgeon was in the hospital ER with subdural hematomas right and left side. I was going to do the operation the next day but was persuaded to operate in the night because his neurological was not entirely stable. It’s Ramadan. They fast all day. Break fast is at 7:10pm. So everyone did that first. At 10:30pm they called me to come on in to the OR. I had been napping after breakfast. Everything was ready to go. And at 11:23pm I joked to the anesthesiologist, “We’ll be done before midnight. I want to finish the within the same day I start.” Hey! At that hour… His nephew was in the room with us. He’s a house doctor in the orthopedic department. And the son was in the waiting room. He’s a general surgery intern with us. Even with a discerning hovering audience, everything went well.
I left and drove home safely and quietly. There are two ways to go. You pass by the American Embassy on the right of left. Hail Street is the local route. Andalus Road is a highway, of sorts, that passes the American Embassy to the left. Right or left, it depends on time of day and traffic. In the middle of the night, Andalus is faster of course. And I always go the fastest way home. Missed by that much, maybe an hour or so, because my assistant passed this way home too. He was about an hour or so behind me. He found all the streets blocked. Within the hour I was called about another emergency, but, I did not have to return to the hospital. Close! Some poor kid had his motorcycle hit by a car…or he hit the car. Either way, he did not need surgery though he was in a coma. Sadly, they often ride fast without helmets. No one knew of the bombing at the time. (And they close off roads all the time for passing motorcades carrying royalty.)
In 2004, the US Embassy was attacked and nine Filipino’s lost their lives. After that the embassy walls were reinforced. (Curiously the Iranian embassy is only minutes away.) A double wall of concrete with barbed wire was installed right into the street. The two-way street became one-way and traffic always moves slowly past. (They think nothing to just block off a street permanently.) To the right side there is a parking lot where the bomb supposedly detonated. A mosque is there on the corner. A large hospital sits to the right as well. The cousin to my hospital’s CEO owns Fakeeh Hospital and competes with us. Guards from within and without are there. It is the beginning of the entrance to enter the embassy grounds.
Across the street are the Saudi security forces in plain sight with uniforms and weapons at the ready. There is a pick-up truck with a mounted machine gun. My curiosity was raised to see whether the machine gun was ready to go. It appears that the ammo is not loaded up for immediate firing. No one sits in the gun mount anyway. But, this was what prompted me to sneak a pic and scope out the extent of vigilance. You cannot be 100% vigilant if nothing ever happens. You get complacent. I was wondering and gauging complacency. I guess they are pretty vigilant and less complacent. No one was seriously injured. The bomber was seen long before he got close to the embassy.
Bottom line: I know the site. And I passed by within a very short time before it took place. And, I very nearly passed by again for another patient emergency. Close, but no cigar? Close is for horseshoes? Better to be lucky than good. Good means fast and I finished and left before trouble occurred. It was July 4th – was it fireworks gone bad…? Bad jokes, all…. Go figure. The prince of terror may have more work to do again. Yes, my kids and everyone close knows I am ok. Thank you to all of you who noticed. It looks like there were fireworks here and, fortunately, I missed them.