Monday, March 22, 2010

Talking More, Doing Less?

Talking More, Doing Less?

It occurred to me recently that it may be that the increasing ability to talk to anyone anywhere at any time is making us less efficient rather than more efficient.

A simple example might be in the area of grocery shopping. In the "old days" when I went to the grocery store, I made a shopping list before going and read it over quickly before going in the store. Sometimes, at that point, I would remember something else and scribble it down on the list.

As I went through the store, it might have been that I thought of something else. Maybe I couldn't quite remember whether I had the item, whether it was something I really needed or might need in the near future. I didn't have the ability to pull a mobile phone out of my pocket while pulling my cart over to the side of the aisle and dial home to see if there was someone there to help me out. Now, of course, my phone will help me find someone wherever they are and leave a message if necessary. Then I can walk down the aisle hoping to get a phone call to help me out of my dilemma. Maybe it will come and maybe it won't.

But I have spent some time and minutes on the phone as well as ambling down the aisle waiting for help. In the "old days", I would have had to make a decision while I was in the store and I would have moved on. I might have decided to be a little more thorough with making that list so I would not have to wonder if I had left something out or not. That experience, in turn, would have helped me use my time better.

People often say now that life has gotten more complicated. Perhaps so. But the constant ability to contact people can enable us to waste time, put off decisions and be less efficient than we used to be.

Any thoughts and comments can be sent to

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Playing Catch

Playing Catch

Lizzie had been married for about six months and was deliriously happy. She considered herself very lucky to have found a divorced man with a 12 year old son who lived with his mother in a nearby town. Donald had a wonderful sense of humor, enjoyed sports and it seemed as if his son, James, was taking to Lizzie quite nicely.
As was common among divorced folk with children, children would visit one night a week and every other week-end with the parent they were not living with full-time. Lizzie loved it when James came up to visit. She had had no children from her first marriage and not too much contact with children. Nonetheless, she had an easy way with kids as she was interested in their thoughts and what they were doing.

James had arrived that Friday night in early June and the blended family had a casserole and salad dinner together in front of the TV. James delighted in playing with Lizzie’s Siamese cat, named Charlie. There were no animals in his mother’s house. Charlie thought it was great fun to following a red laser beam around the living room which James directed around the furniture and up the staircase to the second floor. Following the beam everywhere, Charlie exhausted himself and then flopped down next to James, breathing heavily.

“That’s probably enough exercise for him,” laughed Donald. “You’ve got a convert to that game, James!”

“And I’ll probably have to play it every time I come now!” James grinned as he rubbed Charlie’s head.

The next morning, Lizzie, Donald and James travelled the few miles to the bowling alley where James played every Saturday in a youth bowling league. He was getting to be quite good and he enjoyed the interaction he had with the other boys. After bowling, the little family had a pizza lunch, did some grocery shopping and returned home.

Lizzie had put a load of laundry in the washer before she had left and now she ran it through the dryer. As she took the laundry upstairs, she could hear Donald and James out in the yard.

“Come on, Dad, give me a real good ball!”

“Here you go! Watch it!”

“Hey, Dad, that was too high!”

“Well, you gotta jump up, kiddo!”

“Aw, Dad!” Lizzie looked out the window and saw James going over to the far side of the lawn which was bordered by a hill and a lot of scrub brush. She smiled as she saw James pick the ball out of the brush.

She looked at the clock and got a start. She was a member of a committee that was starting to organize a grassroots political campaign for a local candidate. She would have to hurry to make it in time for the meeting. It was scheduled to begin in an hour.

Swishing in and out of the shower, she pulled on a bra, pantyhose and a blouse and a skirt. Pushing her feet into shoes with three inch heels, she fluffed her hair which was little wet from the shower with a brush, dabbed some powder on her face and applied lipstick. Grabbing a light sweater and her purse, she ran down the stairs, and opened the door to the backyard to tell “her boys” she would be back in about an hour and a half.

“Hey, guys! Have to go to that meeting! Should be back by 5PM.” She turned to go.
Donald called to her, “Come on out, Lizzie and see if you can hit the ball!” He knew that his wife was a natural athlete.

“Don’t be silly, love, I’ve got heels and a skirt on.” Lizzie started to laugh.

“I’m sure you can do it. I won’t throw it too hard.”

Reluctantly, Lizzie walked down into the yard and took the bat that Donald handed to her. She caught a glimpse of James’ face which registered total disbelief. No way was she going to hit that hitting that ball. He started to laugh That did it! Lizzie took the challenge.

She approached the area of home plate, threw off her sweater and lifted the bat.
The ball seemed to slide so slowly toward her. Pushing as much weight as possible on the front of her feet, she started to swing the bat and leaned into the swing with her hips keeping her eye on the ball. The swing felt good.

With a loud crack, the ball took off, sailing high in the air.

Lizzie heard James yell as she lifted to head to see where the ball had gone.

“Holy Crow! How’d she do that, Dad?” A pause. “Jeez, I don’t know where it is!

“Well, you’re the fielder, son. I’ll bet it went pretty far into the brush.” Pausing a bit, Donald pushed another comment into the air. “Women can always surprise you!”

He turned, grinning and with three giant steps wrapped his arms around Lizzie and hugged her hard. Lizzie raised her eyebrows. “I hope he can find the ball. Wish I hadn’t hit it so hard!”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m glad that you slammed it! Makes James think about what women can do! Now go to your meeting.” Donald patted Lizzie on the back end as she opened the back door.

Before closing the door, she heard James call out, “Criminy crickets, Dad, what else can she do?”

“Well, son, that’s going to be one of the fun things in your life: finding out what women can and can not do!”

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Different Kinds of Lies

We all know that there are an assortment of different kinds of lies. Some are minor white lies which are spoken to save someone's feelings from unnecessary discomfort. There are other lies which are manufactured to create a different scene from the actual truth for the purpose of a business which may not actually be harmful. And there are other lies which are omissions of fact that are meant to hurt and destroy.

An example of a lie, still told, to create a different scene from the actual truth which may not be actually harmful is the myth of the romance between Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. This was business PR which was a benefit to both of them and was not actually harmful unless you count the fact that many people would be slightly upset that this romance was not real.

The actual truth is this: Kate was gay and Spencer was straight. And they both loved booze and acting. Though they were fond of each other, their essential ties were the craft of acting and the consumption of booze. Spencer was an inveterate binge drinker and Kate was known in Hollywood as being able to drink anybody, man or woman under the table if she chose to do so. Kate and Spencer never owned or shared a house together and, most likely, never a bed either unless they were both too drunk to adjourn to their separate houses.

Mrs. Spencer Tracy wanted to preserve her title of "Mrs. Spencer Tracy" but some story had to be concocted as to why Spencer could not divorce and marry Kate. So the story was that Mrs. Tracy was Catholic and could not divorce. But the truth is that Mrs. Tracy was Episcoplalian and could have easily divorced and Spencer was protected. The general public did not know that Kate was a lesbian so the Tracy lie covered her tracks too. I grew up in Kate's home community and the fact of her lesbianism was well known there though not advertised as a general rule.

It was clever PR for both of them and it worked beautifully. Did it hurt anyone? Probably not. Except for those who believe in every story that Hollywood puts out about their own.

But then there are lies that are meant to hurt and destroy. In my case, a psychiatrist, who is still still living lied when he did not tell me that the ingestion of lithium for over five years would guarantee that I would develop kidney disease. In addition, he lied by omission when he did not tell me that he had ordered that blood tests to determine when I came down with kidney disease were not to be done. His plan was for me to contract fatal kidney disease, which is a silent killer and die in his hospital.

But why?

Why would a doctor who has sworn a Hippocratic oath to "First, do no harm" do this? For this doctor, it was simple. He had been offfered $2 million dollars by my adoptive mother for his hospital to keep me until she died. The best way to assure that the hospital got the money was to make sure I died before my adoptive mother did.

However, this psychiatrist, who lives in CT and is a graduate of George Washington University, Phi Beta Kappa and George Washington Medical School, Summa Cum Laude underestimated me. He didn't count on me getting out of the hospital and finding his written orders that prove he deliberately tried to murder me. Read all the details in "Surviving High Society". Available from my website, as well as Amazon and Kindle.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Drug Marketing

The marketing of drugs in this country is out of control.

The pharmaceutical industry has become extraordinarily adept at creating medicines that are perhaps less than 1% different than drugs already on the market and then trumpeting "a new, better drug" to deal with such and so a disease. In some cases, the industry takes a problem which is relatively small, exaggerates the extent and number of people with this "problem" and presto, presents the solution to this problem with a new pill. In the August 20, 2009 edition in my paper, the Gainesville Sun, comes this sentence: "A growing body of evidence suggests that doctors at some of America's top medical schools have been attaching their names and lending their names to scientific papers that were drafted by ghostwriters working for drug companies- articles that were carefully calibrated to help the manufacturer sell more drugs." So who do you believe now and where do you get real facts?

And where is the FDA in all of this? According to Melody Petersen, in "Our Daily Meds", the bar for approving new drugs is so low as to be be laughable if it were not so serious. All a company has to prove is that their new drug is better than a other words, better than no treatment at all. There is no requirement that drugs for the same ailment be tested so than the FDA can compare effectiveness. It just has to be better than "nothing" (a placebo) and the marketing begins.

Serious marketing of a drug for as many purposes as possible is perhaps best shown in the story of Neurontin. This drug was approved as a drug to treat epilepsy when a primary epilepsy drug was not successful. But doctors began to use it for many other purposes, for instance in the treatment of manic-depressiveness. This is a practice that is called "off-label" use. Pushing products for "off-label" use is illegal but the company that produced Neurontin did it anyway. Complaints began to pour into the FDA because of the side effects of the "off-label" use of Neurontin.

In May, 2004, Warner Lambert, then a division of Pfizer pleaded guilty to criminal charges in their marketing of Neurontin and agreed to a $430 million dollar fine.

From January 23, 2002 until May 8, 2002, my psychiatrist in Gainesville, FL, who still does extensive clinical trials for drug companies prescribed Neurontin for me for a non-existent case of manic-depressiveness. Another drug he prescribed for my non-existent manic depression helped to worsen a severe kidney dysfunction. For more details, see my book, "Surviving High Society".

Friday, July 17, 2009

CIA Assassination Attempt

July 17, 2009

Mr. William Falk, Editor-in-Chief
The Week
55 West 39th Street
NY, NY 10018

Dear Mr. Falk,

I just received my copy of the July 24th, 2009 edition of The Week. In it, there is an article on page 4 titled: “The CIA’S Secret Plan: Did Cheney commit a crime?”The article is in error because there is documentary proof that the CIA attempted to assassinate Osama bin Laden in 2003. The CIA team was assisted by Afghan soldiers.

The whole plan was explained in detail by the head of the operation (a CIA man in disguise) on “60 Minutes” last Sunday. The same program was also broadcast last fall by “60 Minutes”.

The segment showed maps, described strategy and included substantial film shot by the CIA team within yards of Tora Bora on that night. The CIA commander told of two plans he wanted to execute but “Was denied permission with no explanation”. In the first plan, the CIA team had wanted to approach Bin Laden’s hideout from the backside instead of climbing up a hill but they were not allowed to do that….no reason given. The CIA leader also mentioned that the Afghan allies “went home at night” and left the Americans in danger.

There was a very clear implication by the CIA leader of this assault team that he believed that if his team had been allowed to do what they had been trained to do and could have done, if given permission, Osama bin Laden would have been killed.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


The summer I was seven, it was very hot and there were lots of fireflies every night in our yard in the house near Long Island Sound. I was sure that these swarms were sent by some magical hand which swished these flickering lights onto our lawn as dusk came. They danced and sparkled all over the lawn and I fell in love with them.

I felt I had to hold on to the beauty from their lights for as long as I could. I dragged my Dad out onto the lawn. "Look, Dad, aren't they beautiful?"

"Yes, they are!" In the dusk, I could see him smiling at my delight.

"Can you help me catch some? I love their lights so!"

"Well, yes, we probably could catch some in a mayonnaise jar and use some paper to put some air holes on the top . But you will have to let them go after a bit so they can live."

We got an almost empty mayonnaise jar, washed it out and made a paper top pricked with a pin for airholes. I ran around the yard until I had captured three of the dancing lights. The paper top went on and was secured by a rubber band. I watched in awe as the lights twinkled on and off. "I'm going to put them by my bed, so I can see them until I fall asleep and their light will be the first thing I see in the morning!"

My Dad put his arm around my shoulder. "If you imprison them that long, they will die because they need more oxygen and room than is in the jar."

"No, no, they won't die! They wouldn't do that!"

Dad hugged me and said, "Well, you do what you have to do and we'll talk in the morning."

So I put the jar with the fireflies in it by my bed and the last thing I saw before I slept was their light. And when I woke in the morning, it was as Dad had predicted. They lay, dead, jumbled in a heap of wings and bodies. With tears forming in my eyes, I stumbled down to breakfast and showed the jar to Dad.

Taking the jar gently from hands and putting it the table, he gave me a hug as my tears rolled onto his collar. Pushing me away a bit, he then looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Sometimes you must just enjoy beauty and let it go away and be glad that you have seen it. Then the memory of it will be with you forever."

For the rest of the summer, I would watch the fireflies at night for as long as I could. The memory of their sparkling light is with me decades later.