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My thoughts, feelings, and interests.

No Speak Computerese5/29/2007

I was just setting up the folder to put my blogs in, and ran into "The Shortcut Wizard".  The first direction was "Type the location of the item."  I typed "this computer."




If it's in this computer, but you can't find it?  And you're supposed to be a wizard?  I went to Explore, clicked on the Blogs folder, and clicked on "Create Shortcut".  One promptly appeared.  So what's the wizard's problem?  Doesn't it have the magic to figure out that the folder I want the shortcut to is the one I happen to be in at this very moment? 


Like a couple of days ago when my e-mail was down.  Instead of saying "Your e-mail is temporarily unavailable.  Please try again later." , instead it gives this list of excuses:

"Error 123.45.  Cache memory error 12.345."  And so on.  There were five different excuses for why the e-mail was down.  My husband George, the local Computer Geek, told me these were messages for the troubleshooters, not a list of excuses, and not to take it personally.  He's also the one who said, "Your computer doesn't do anything it hasn't been told to do."


My response was, "I didn't tell it to lock up and then flash dire warnings at me!"


He explained patiently, "I didn't say you necessarily told it to do that, I'm saying that someone somewhere told it to do that." 


I think what aggravates me the most is that he's so patient about explaining things to me.  I've never seen him lose his patience with a computer and yell at it, like I do.  I still think the thing has a mind of its own.  It's not that it gets lonely; I sit in front of the thing for at least 8 hours a day.  Maybe it thinks it needs a vacation.  I do medical transcription, so maybe it's tired of reading about people's innards (Heaven knows I feel that way sometimes.)  Maybe it wants something more exciting to read, like a steamy novel.  And when I just typed the word "novel", it asked me if the word should be "November".  No. 


At least we've gotten past DOS.  I remember DOS so well:




I typed in GOOD MORNING.




That's what I get for trying to be nice to a computer.


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The Audience4/29/2007

April 29, 2005


I had written a charming story about our two kittens, Daisy and Minnie, "helping" us make the bed this morning, but it vanished.  I guess that happens when you've got two furry helpers who go racing under your desk, and one steps on the power strip and disconnects you.  Thanks a lot, girls.  Maybe they don't want to become famous as mischievous kittens who do strange things like play with the drawstring off my pants when I'm washing dishes, or attack me in the middle of the night because my nightie has a bow on it.  Then they both walk my entire length, settle on my chestal region, and purr like mad.  How can I get upset at them for that?


They're also fascinated by watching my husband George washing his hands or shaving.  I never knew shaving could be a spectator sport, but they sit there on the bathroom counter and stare at him with rapt attention.  Then, once he rinses the sink out, they have to check to make sure it's all rinsed out, and we get an interesting view of two grey tabby tails over the top of the counter.  We're careful to keep our closet doors closed, because with our closets the way they are we'd probably never see the girls again if they went exploring.  They've also been known to knock things off display shelves in the living room, and they're a big help when I'm trying to cut out a pattern.  Right.


When we got them back in February, we'd been catless since our elderly cat had passed away in December.  After having old cats for years who did nothing except sleep and eat, it's been a real treat having two kittens around.  Right now they're 6 months old, and they both weigh at least 7 to 8 pounds, so they're likely to be huge when they finish growing.  They're sisters, and there are times they act just like my sisters and I do - battling to the death one minute, best friends the next. 


Kittens are wonderful.  Minnie will sometimes leap a foot into the air, and then land with a thud.  Daisy has been known to chase balls and bring them back, just like a dog.  Getting her to give them up is another matter entirely, however.  I've also seen them sound asleep on the floor in our office, both sunny-side up with their paws in the air, or one will have a paw across the other one's shoulders.  Then they'll wake up and start grooming each other, often calling each other names in cat language.   Much more fun to watch than reality TV.


April 29, 2007


Now Daisy and Minnie are almost three years old.  They topped out at 11.5 pounds (Daisy) and 8.9 pounds (Minnie.) Minnie's the taller of the two, but Daisy's longer and stockier, although Minnie has feet that would cover a JFK 50-cent piece.  They're still just as lovable and still just as much fun to watch, although only one will fit in our laps at a time now. 


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My Sister, the Truck Driver4/29/2007

I just got out of the hospital after developing a deep venous thrombosus in my right leg.  Yesterday when my leg was hurting and I was feeling sorry for myself, I called my older sister.  I figured if anyone knew what it was like to be in a hospital, it was her, and she commiserated with me.  Then she told me she'd gone to truck driving school and gotten licensed to drive an 18-wheeler. 


My older sister has had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and all kinds of health problems in the past but is doing fine now.  She told me she'd always wanted to learn how to drive an 18-wheeler, so she decided to sign up for a class.  Because of her health history she isn't allowed to do long-haul trucking, but she can drive locally, and right now she's looking for a job.  The stories she told me of her training would make a very funny book.  If you saw an 18-wheeler with "STUDENT DRIVER" painted on both sides, wouldn't you give it a wide berth?  Nope, they don't do that in Texas.  She told me stories about idiot drivers in Texas that sound just like some of the idiot drivers here in Oregon.


I have to admire her for doing something she'd always wanted to do, even something like learning to drive an 18-wheeler.  How many of us have things we'd love to learn about or learn how to do, but never get around to it?  My sister is 51 years old with a rocky health history, and now she's happy as a clam because she's a licensed truck driver.  She told me that being as close to death as she was in 2001 when I went to visit her last showed her that life's too short to put up with nonsense (she doesn't) and get busy and do what you'd love to do within the bounds of your ability to do it.  I'm not worried that she'll try  sky-diving, as she's as much afraid of heights as I am. 


If (excuse me, when) she gets a job driving a truck, if anyone tried to harass her they'd find that she puts up with nothing.  She might be 51, short, and white-haired, but they'll find out that she's got a temper.  She's also quite a glib speaker, and without saying anything that couldn't be repeated in a church she can put people in their place.  When she was a nurse she put touchy-feely doctors in their place, and I can't see her being afraid of a bunch of truck drivers.  Then again, most truck drivers I knew back when I worked at the Red Top Coffee Shop were good people.  There was an occasional man who felt that women didn't belong behind the wheel of a truck, but they couldn't say that the women couldn't handle the job. 


Sis spent something like five months in the hospital back in 2001, most of it with a tracheostomy.  She told me that when she was in the hospital the surgeons would come by on rounds and talk about her as though she wasn't in the room.  They apparently didn't realize that she was fully conscious, and as a nurse she understood everything they were saying, even that they thought she wasn't going to make it.  When the tracheostomy tube was removed and she could talk again (her cancer doctor said, "I don't think this is such a good idea,") she told the surgeons flatly that she didn't appreciate their bedside conversations about her right in front of her.  I know she gave them a good talking to, but it was something they needed to hear, and better they learn it as residents than later in a lawsuit. 


It's unfortunate that she's no longer able to work as a nurse, but now she's found something else she can do where her past health problems don't interfere.  I'm sure that any place that hires my sister for local trucking will be very glad they did.  I know my sister - she'd most likely be the best employee they've got.

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My husband George and I have gotten reputations for being smart.  Once one of his co-workers asked me, "How can you stand being married to a brain like him?"  I pointed out that I wasn't that far behind him, intelligence-wise, and her response was, "It would freak me out, being married to someone as smart as he is."  Maybe so.  Me, I like it.  If there's one thing I can't stand, it's men who haven't read a book in years and think there's nothing more interesting to talk about than them.  Sorry, guys.


I've always had the problem, not that it is a problem, of reading books considered way too advanced for me.  When I was about 14, I wanted to check out a book on lightning and weather from the base library.  The librarian asked me twice if I really wanted such a "hard" book.  I not only read it and understood it, I read it several times.  I also read every astronomy book in this library, including ones considered hard for adults.  George is the same way, except that he was reading at an earlier age than I was, and reading adult-level books when he was 10.  He said that when he was 3 years old he read Dr. Seuss books to his sister when she was in the hospital.  I believe it.  He has books about chemistry, physics, mathematics, and statistics in his library, most of which I'm afraid to try to read, including the one called Calculus for Cowards.


When I was in high school, I took two years of Latin, which filled me with an interest not only in mythology, but in word origins and languages.  Part of George's dowry of books was a copy of Bullfinch's Mythology, considered to be one of the definitive works on mythology.  George also has a fascination with languages; when he was in high school he took French, and when his Sea Explorers troop got to go aboard the Calypso and meet Jacques Cousteau and his team, he started speaking his high school French.  Jacques Cousteau told him, "Let's speak English.  Your accent is terrible."  George couldn't help it; he was speaking French with a Virginia accent, which I think would have been interesting in itself. 


Still, we've always read books the general public would consider "hard".  One of my favorites is Between Silk and Cyanide, Leo Marks' autobiographical story of working with the code breakers in London during World War II.  It is very intelligent and also very funny.  I also like anything by P.G. Wodehouse, the British humor writer, who wrote comedies that were also very intelligent and  extremely funny.  My favorite of Wodehouse's is The Mating Season, a story of mistaken identity.  George's tastes lean more toward sci-fi and fantasy; two of his many favorite authors are Philip Dick and Terry Pratchett. 


The first time I went to the Sylvia Beach Hotel, which I talk about in one of my other essays, I took my new copy of Wodehouse's anthology of stories about my favorite Wodehouse characters, Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves.  Bertie is a naïve and somewhat dense but wealthy young man who gets himself into unbelievable scrapes, and his manservant Jeeves is always able to get him out.  Most of these scrapes involving getting out of engagements to women he somehow gets himself engaged to, and most of these are women he would run a mile in tight shoes to avoid (his words).  I was sitting in a chair in the library, which was full of guests who were mostly reading things like the New York Times' Theater Arts Section, and they were giving me strange looks because I was sitting there reading my book, trying hard not to giggle too loudly.  I finally had to leave the room.  This same book had elicited a comment from one of the physical therapists I worked for at the time, when he'd come into the break room to find me in there alone, reading my new book and laughing hysterically, "You sound like you're having way too much fun to be in here by yourself." 


Even after reading The Mating Season more times than I can remember, it still makes me laugh. Now that's fun reading.  

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MT Headed1/24/2006

I told George I should rename my blog "A View from a Broad", and he said it wasn't politically correct.  I knew he was kidding because there's no such thing as "political correctness" in this house.


Once upon a time one of the bosses in my office told me it wasn't politically correct to have a New Testament on my bookshelf, along with all my transcription word books.  I told her there was no such thing as "political correctness" in my cubicle.  My feeling was, if anyone got offended because I had a New Testament on my word book shelf, too bad.  After all, my word book shelf wasn't public property.  Besides, I could use the excuse that I had to look names up in it.  There might not be a lot of people named "Onesimus" out there, but even if there's only one I still need to know how to spell it properly.  I'd have a problem with Maher-shalal-hashbaz, however, since that one's in the Old Testament.  This has become a moot point since I now work at home, and I will have on my desk shelves what books I please.


Back in the office where I used to work, I would sometimes bring in my Walkman, along with some CDs.  If anyone had listened to some of them, they'd either (A) not be at all surprised, or (b) surprised at my choice of music.  Let's see…Tom Lehrer.  Good stuff, but not exactly "politically correct" in this day and age, but I don't care.  I think what the New York Times said about Tom Lehrer sums it up rather succinctly:  "Mr. Lehrer's muse (is) not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste." Another favorite is "Revival in Belfast," which is original  Christian music from a church in Northern Ireland.  Wonderful stuff.  This one wouldn't surprise anyone.  Yet another favorite is Mark Cohn, whose rendition of "Walking in Memphis" is the better of the two versions I've heard. Mostly good music, except that the last one on the CD, "True Companion," isn't the love song it first sounds like; this is a song about a man obsessed with marrying a particular woman, and he doesn't care if she doesn't feel the same way he does.  I still like it.  Maybe I’m strange.


Now, though, I can't listen to anything except dictations while I'm working.  I just finished an account with some truly horrendous dictating providers, and what's sad is that one of the worst was a native English speaker.  You'd think that someone with enough university degrees to be a nurse practitioner would have halfway decent diction, but I guess I was expecting too much.  Her provider number coming up in my queue was enough to make me want to scream, run away, and resign, not necessarily in that order.  Some of the providers for whom English is a second (or third, etc.) language had better diction than this nurse practitioner did.  Another nurse practitioner I transcribed apparently thought we medical transcriptionists don't know how to spell.  While I didn't mind her spelling obscure terms, I know how to spell "penicillin", "Carolina" (North and South), and even "eye".  Trust me:  I have heard of all of those, and know how to spell them.  There was a psychiatrist who always pronounced omeprazole, generic Prilosec, as "omeprazolone."  It's a good thing I knew what he was talking about.  He had the psychotropic drugs down; but when it came to drugs for hypertension or heartburn, he had some of the strangest pronunciations for those.  Still, I'd only typed about 100,000 of his dictations (not really, but it sure seemed like it sometimes) so I knew what he was talking about.  That kind of thing goes with the medical transcription territory, however.  Back when I still worked in an office, I took some paperwork up to one of the wards.  While I was up there, I heard one of the technicians ask a doctor how to spell "omeprazole."  The doctor misspelled it.  I said, "Excuse me, that's o-m-e-p-r-a-z-o-l-e." The doctor pointed at me and told the technician, "What she said."  Thanks.  I'll take what credit I can get.


Working at home has its advantages.  I can work in jeans and old T-shirts, or shorts in summer.  I can drink my coffee or eat at my desk, but if I spill and ruin my keyboard, it's my nickel.  That's okay - it teaches me to watch what I'm doing.  I can have what books I want for reference, and no one borrows them.  While I didn't mind loaning out my books when I worked in the office, I had a rule that if you borrow it, put it back.  One of the coders lost his lending library privileges because he'd borrow my books and not put them back.  Granted, my books were well labeled, but since I was the only one in the office with a decent abbreviation reference I wanted to make sure it didn't sprout legs, if you catch my drift.  I also have a copy of Pyle's "Current Medical Terminology", which is an excellent reference for any medical transcriptionist, except that mine is missing 30 pages right in the middle of the Ps.  I didn't find this out until after it had been doused with iced tea from a leaky bottle, either, so if I want to look something up that turns out to be missing, there's always the internet. 


Medical transcription is a challenging field that can also be a great deal of fun if you know where to look for it.  I encountered this statement in a report dictated by a podiatrist:  "The patient's umbilical hernia was repaired by naval surgeons in Korea."  I saw this headline in a paper devoted to military medical records processing:  "Records Missing from Navel Hospital."  I guess that's where the aforementioned patient had his umbilical hernia repaired.  One of my favorites from trainee days was, "The patient underwent humerus x-rays, and was determined to have a fracture."  This sentence is correct, but the phrase "humerus x-rays" conjures up some interesting mental pictures.  So does "After a joint…(long pause)… meeting with the Dental Facial Deformities Board…"  Made me wonder what was really happening in the Oral Maxillofacial Surgery Department. 


Now I'm starting a new account.  Wish me luck.


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My Favorite Hymns9/18/2005



Some of these hymns are beautiful music.  Some have beautiful sentiment.  Some are just beautiful.


1.   "How Great Thou Art".  Most people, even those who aren't regular church-goers, have at least heard of this one. 


2.   "The Haven of Rest".  This is my favorite of all the hymns with a nautical theme. 


3.   "The Old Rugged Cross".  Like "How Great Thou Art", this is one that most people are at least familiar with. 


4.   "Lo, How A Rose 'Ere Blooming".  This song is primarily sung at Christmas, but it's got some of the most beautiful harmony I've ever heard.  It's also one of the oldest hymns on this list, since the first two verses are translated from 15th century German.


5.   "Precious Lord, Take My Hand".  This song was written by Thomas A. Dorsey, a black jazz musician, after losing his wife and child.  The last line says it all:  "Take my hand, Precious Lord, lead me home."  It's a short song, only two verses, but I don't think anything can be added.


6.  "Oh, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus".  I've sung this one to different tunes, and my favorite is the rolling Ebenezer hymn tune.   




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My Least Favorite Hymns8/2/2005

1.  "God Give Us Christian Homes".  Not only was the tune inane, the song was based on the standard 50s nuclear family with the dad going to work and the mom staying home and looking after the kids.  I can't argue with the sentiment, but the song itself made me cringe when we sang it in church, and it must have been one of the music minister's favorites because we sang it all the time.  Once was more than enough for me.


2.   "We've A Story To Tell To The Nations".  This was another one with good sentiment but an inane tune and some equally inane metaphors.  My least favorite line was the one about turning hearts to the right, and the first verse talks about the story but never tells what that story is.


3.   "I Exalt Thee".  To me, this hymn seems to last much longer than it actually does.  Once I told my worship band leader how much I disliked it, he saw to it we sang it regularly.  The rat.


4.   Any hymn using the "Hyfrydol" tune.  This particular tune goes with several hymns, and my main reason for disliking this hymn tune is because the alto part is awful. The hymn "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" uses this tune.


5.   "Amazing Love" written by Charles Wesley.  I like this hymn, but it's deucedly hard to sing unless you're a trained singer.


6.   "Sunrise Tomorrow".  I've never heard this one sung right except by a tenor from the church I went to when I was growing up.  I have, however, heard it sung wrong.                

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Every time I see those ads for building bustlines, I laugh.  Things like, "Increase your self-confidence!  Add two cup sizes to your bustline!" or even "Why be flat?  Look more attractive in clothes the Natural Way!" 


Women who are 36C and below don't know how nice they've got it.  Consider:


(1)  They can buy bras off most sale racks.  There's no such thing as a sale price on a 44DDD bra.  I know, I've looked. 

(2)   They don't have to buy industrial-strength bras from specialty shops at inflated (excuse the expression) prices.

(3)  They don't have to deal with bra manufacturers who  think that large-sized bras should have narrow stretch straps.  I've worn those, and they just about amputate my arms at the shoulders so I don't give bras of my size with thin and/or stretchy straps a second look anymore.


What's with some of these undergarment manufacturers?  I was looking at a catalog the other day that announced that it had bras in larger sizes.  I read the small print:  "All the way up to 36D!"  When you're a 44DDD like me, a bra size like 36D just makes you laugh derisively.  I also saw an ad for foam bra inserts, "Boost Your Bust Instantly!"  If I boosted mine, it'd be under my chin! 


Why are women supposed to have large bustlines?  Granted, mine came from nature, but women who are flatter are made to feel as though they are less than a real woman.  That's ridiculous.  A lot of this came about because women are  supposedly more attractive to men if they have a larger bustline.  Well, men can look all they want, but they don't have to live with them.  My husband has the right attitude:  while he likes my 44DDD, if I were to lose one or both of them, it wouldn't change his love for me.  After all, what I'm all about has nothing to do with my breasts; it's just packaging.  Nice packaging, but still just packaging (according to him.)


I think women who get breast augmentation for anything besides medical reasons are out of their minds.  While I have nothing but compassion to the woman who has to have a mastectomy because of disease, or is seriously lopsided (one's a 34B, and the other is 40DD) then I say go for it.  But I've known and read about women who got augmentation when they were already a very respectable 36D, because they wanted to be a 44DDD.  Ladies, it's not at all what it's cracked up to be.  Some of us have neck and back problems from having too much out front.  Some of us have to go to high-priced specialty shops to buy custom-made bras that cost way more than Playtex.  At least I can still get mine on sale from time to time.  And, depending on your build, you could have a serious ballast problem.  So learn to appreciate your 34B!  And if some man thinks you aren't big enough, then he isn't, either. 

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Funny Guy II: "Let Angels Prostate Fall"5/31/2005




We'd met right before the rehearsals began for my church's Christmas program.  I was the only alto in the choir who could possibly be accused of having any talent, and one of the other choir members, Ed, was a former professional opera singer.  Our choir director had once been a professional singer, but although I liked him as a person I privately wondered where he'd lost his pitch.  His wife, a lovely person (and I hope I look that good when I'm in my 70s!) had been a professional dancer in her youth, but was an okay soprano.  So there we were - an okay soprano, me, a tenor who was always flat, and Ed, a baritone, who could outsing the rest of the choir combined, myself included, and I'm not exaggerating.  Our job was to work with a group of nonmusical parishioners to put together a Christmas musical.  It actually sounded good once we were finished, because what we lacked in skill we made up for in enthusiasm.


We were working our way through a book of Christmas hymns, which went okay until we got to the part of the music that featured a medley of old hymns.  Jim, the director, was singing the section from "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name":


"All hail the power of Jesus' Name

Let angels prostate fall,

Bring forth the royal diadem,

And crown Him Lord of all!"


If you're familiar with this hymn, or even if you aren't and have some knowledge of anatomy, you'll notice a word that doesn't belong there.  I do medical transcription, so I picked up on it immediately - instead of singing "Let angels prostrate fall", Jim was singing "Let angels prostate fall".  I started giggling behind my music.  Of course I had to explain what was so funny to the ladies on either side of me, which started a lot of giggling in the back part of the alto section. 


And he kept doing it!  I was trying hard not to laugh outright at what was surely just a slip of the lip, but after about a half dozen times of this my ribs were about to part from their moorings.  Finally, Vivian (Mrs. Jim) said, "James, you're saying the wrong word!"  Jim reacted with real class when his mistake was pointed out; he laughed heartily, then got on with the rehearsal. 


Once we'd gone over the words, Jim asked Ed to take the men back to the multipurpose room and work with them on their parts.  Ed's voice was so carrying I could hear him plainly down a hallway that was at least 100 feet long, and through two closed doors.  Comes from having a trained voice. 


But little did I know what was happening behind the scenes.  About a week or so before the program, it was recommended to me that I invite George to our Christmas program, since he was new in the area and probably didn't have Christmas plans.  So I did.  Ed was quite enthusiastic about the fact that I had invited a friend who played the piano, and he was anxious to talk to George about possibly joining the worship band we were forming.  Of course, since I was 38 and still single, the fact that I had invited a man to the Christmas program was a subject of immense interest to the rest of the choir.  I'd told George about the 'let angels prostate fall' interlude, figuring that since he was a lab technician hearing such a thing wouldn't embarrass him, and he definitely appreciated the humor potential.    


On the night of the program he came and sat behind where the choir was gathering, and probably had every eye in the place on him.  He told me later that he'd waited for the  "let angels prostrate fall" part of the program, but fortunately no one actually sang "let angels prostate fall", or the entire choir would have cracked up laughing and the program would have been over.


That was the beginning of our relationship.  And to think:  most of it came about because of "let angels prostate fall"! 

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Funny Guy5/17/2005

I consider myself the most fortunate woman in the world to be married to George.  We met at the base bowling alley at Travis Air Force Base, on the base hospital's bowling league.  He was in the Air Force, and he was working in the hospital lab.  This was in his favor:  he was employed.  I had gone through a period of time where I tended to attract the chronically unemployed or the constantly broke.  While I know what it's like to not make very much money, I don't like being informed that a date is "Dutch treat" when we're standing at the cash register.  Anyway, he had just joined the team we were bowling that night, and he came in with two other members of the team.  I don't remember hearing any bells as we were introduced, but I do remember thinking, "He's awfully young to be bald," and "His eyes don't line up!"  He told me the first thing he noticed about me was that I was reading a sci-fi book he had already read. Of course, George's team thoroughly trounced us that night, and George was a large part of it, since his average is 181. 


The second time we met, I was sitting in the bowling alley's snack bar, reading the latest issue of Astronomy Magazine. Now, Astronomy Magazine is not for the casual stargazer; some of the articles are way over my head, and I've been an amateur astronomer since the late 60s.  George got his food and walked over to my table, and asked if he could join me, to which I said, "Sure."  He then asked me what I was reading, and I told him, "an article about the Einstein Cross.  It's an image of a galaxy with four  gravitationally-lensed images around it."  To my surprise, he actually understood what I was talking about.  I was to discover that he also had an interest in astronomy, although not as long-term or as in-depth as mine, plus an interest in physics and mathematics, two subjects I was clueless about.  He reads books on physics and calculus just to keep his hand in.  He also likes to do math puzzles, most of which might as well be in Martian for all the sense they make to me.  After watching the Nova special on the code breakers at Bletchley Park, who broke the Nazis' codes during World War II, I realized that George  was exactly the type of person they had looked for - someone with a strong mathematics background who enjoyed working puzzles.   


As I got to know him, I found out that George is highly intelligent and has a deadly sense of humor.  He also sings very good high tenor, and plays the piano.  I've been asked if this was the reason I married him, and I have to say no, that was merely icing on the cake.  I realize it does look a little suspicious since another member of my church and I were starting a worship band at that time, and we didn't have anyone playing keyboards, but I assure you it was only a coincidence.  Not that it turned out totally bad.


One morning I encountered George in the parking lot as we were going into the hospital where we both worked.  I said, "Running late, are we?"  His response:  "If I were an Indian, that would be my name." 

Then our church began working on the Christmas program, and it was suggested by someone who knew both of us that I invite George to the Christmas program.  Little did I know where it would lead.


(In case you're wondering what a gravitational lens is, here's the definition according to HubbleSite, a website about the Hubble space telescope:  "A gravitational lens is created when the gravity of a massive foreground object, such as a galaxy or black hole, bends the light coming from a far more distant galaxy directly behind it. This focuses the light to give multiple or distorted images of the background object as seen by the observer."  The Einstein Cross is a case where a massive galaxy bends the light from a bright but more distant galaxy, and splits the image into four parts, one on each side, one on top, and one underneath the massive galaxy's image.  And yes, I do actually read things like this for pleasure.  If you think I'm bad, George reads things like "Understanding Physics" by Isaac Asimov, for fun.  That book is about three inches thick, and full of equations.)

Next time, Part II:  "Let Angels Prostate Fall"

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"Gonna Railroad High Tonight"5/11/2005

Dave Barry, in his famous "Book of Bad Songs", talks about a friend of his, Al Kooper, who sang a song called "Caress me, Baby."  According to the book's narrative, one of the lines sounded like "gonna railroad high tonight", or, more accurately, "Goan raroo hirenite" (or words to that effect.)  Dave said he asked Al what the words really were, and Al told him he had no idea, that that's what he heard on the original recording, and he just picked words that sounded somewhat like what he was hearing.


I sometimes wish we MTs could do that, but we have to be accurate.  I've heard dictations that made "Goan raroo hirenite" sound like masterful prose delivered by a trained thespian.  I've typed dictations that sounded like 25 minutes of "Goan raroo hirenite," with a few "wonk sterbo geneserets" tossed in just to make it more interesting.  I've also worked my way through ones where the last statement I clearly understood was, "This is Doctor"¦" and from there on out it was "Goan raroo hirenite."


Occasionally these docs who talk as though their teeth have been cemented together get their due.  Back when I was a trainee (back in the age before computers) there was a doc working at my hospital who had the bad habit of dictating through his yawns.  As a result we ended up with lots of statements that sounded like, "The patient was taken to the awwweperrrraatin rooooooom unnn put on the table."  Actually, that was a fairly easy one to decipher, but sometimes he'd get incomprehensible later in the report.  Once he came into our office to use the phone while I was working on one of his reports.  I came to a yawn, and had no idea what he was saying, so I asked him to listen to himself.  He listened, and confessed that he had no idea what he'd said.  "But here's what it should say," he told me, and I typed what he said.  You'd think getting to hear something like that would have cured him, but it didn't.


I have the secret fantasy of making some of these people listen to themselves dictate, and I'm sure I'm not the only MT who feels that way.  I got my wish once - a pediatrician who was one of the worst dictators I've ever heard in many years of doing MT got to listen to himself dictate when he came to the office to complain about the quality of his reports, which I think took a lot of gall on his part.  Well, he was so aghast at how badly he dictated he insisted on redoing the report he'd listened to and straightened right up after that.  He even left me a thank-you note for typing a long complicated summary for him.  What a guy.  I wish we could do that to a few of these providers who think that because they're a doctor everything they say is worthy of being taken down for posterity.  In some cases, it sounds more like ramblings from someone who drank too much coffee before bed. 


Oh, well.  I can dream, can't I?

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