I, Robot

I was talking with Robin the other night, and I don’t remember exactly what we were discussing, but I remember wanting to express myself very clearly. When I had finished, she turned to me and said: “You used your doctor voice.” And she was right. I had slipped into it without even being aware of what I was doing.

What is my “doctor voice?” It is me speaking slowly, measuredly, in a flat tone without any attempt at humor or “goofing around,” and doing so while looking directly at the patient.

I fell into it whenever I wished to give instructions that needed close attention on the patient’s part, and when I needed to be both accurate and clearly understood. In some situations I would ask the patient to repeat back to me what they had taken as the message. Following that I might also send a written handout home with them, which repeated much of what I had already said.

The doctor voice evolved out of my witnessing a great many miscommunications when I was in training, either between doctors and patients or between doctors and nurses. Some of these mistakes had led to problems for patients, occasionally severe ones. I gradually honed my delivery into something resembling that of a concerned robot. Like the one in Lost in Space, over there talking to Will Robinson. Put a white coat on it and there I am.


Following up on those children in that Jerusalema video last Wednesday, the film below allegedly is the one that started what has become an online craze – dancing competitions involving the song. There are even instructional videos for those lucky enough to have a right and a left foot, as opposed to unfortunates like myself who have two lefts.

But, and I say this with all modesty, I am as talented in one respect as the beautiful people you see here in that I can use a fork and a plate with the best of them. With panache, even.



Reasons I feel optimistic on this Sunday morning

  • The wind velocity is projected to be below 60 mph.
  • I have discovered a back door to the New Yorker cartoon archive.
  • The health of the basil plant we brought back from Steamboat Springs had been upgraded from comatose to critical.
  • Knowing that if I should happen to go to a doctor any time soon that the use of leeches is currently out of fashion.


We have added a banner to the berm in front of our home as part of our ongoing efforts to show that there actually are a handful of progressives here in Paradise and to induce some serious angst in any of the local QAnon members who happen to pass by. I can hear them muttering to themselves:

“Look there … not only are they liberal, but they don’t have the decency to be ashamed of it.”



Robin and I just finished watching the series Outer Range, which ran for only eight episodes. The star was Josh Brolin, and he turned in a decent job of playing a Wyoming rancher with a one-note emotional range. Overall, the series was confusing to us, and when it was over we had to admit that we had only the slightest of clues as to what it had been about.

Looking back, I now realize that the door was left open for another season. But we already gave them eight weeks to draw some of those bewildering plot lines together and if they did we missed it. I don’t think I’m willing to give them another eight.

BTW, if you do watch the series, you can’t help but notice an epidemic of product placement involving Carhartt clothing. Apparently that’s most of what they wear in this imaginary part of Wyoming. Sensible folk.


A short time ago a passel of Democratic “leaders” made a pilgrimage to Ukraine, and this week a handful of Republicans did the same thing. This is supposed to be evidence of bipartisanship, although if they had all been on the same airplane that might have made an even better show.

Spending bills to support the present government of that embattled country pass through Congress with almost unseemly haste, and whenever that happens you can bet than an audit done a year from now will reveal that half of the money disappeared somewhere along the way and no one will know where it went. But I digress.

You can almost hear the sighs of relief among our elected representatives these days when they discuss the Ukraine. For this is like the good old days when there was a bad guy, a bad war, and lots of tanks to shoot at. Not like in the Middle East where people wire themselves to explosives and try their darnedest to get to Heaven by flicking a switch located just above their navels. No, the Ukraine fighting is good old-fashioned war. It requires only the simplest kind of thinking to support those sorts of heroes.

It also allows us to be distracted from the bad old stuff going on here at home, where we have examples of governance at its worst. This whole sorry mess about abortion and the Supreme Court gets so entangled that it is sometimes very hard to keep in mind … what is the major point here? And it’s not whether the fetus is a person or not, nor the exact day when life begins, nor whether we should pay bounties to ugly people in our neighborhoods for turning in our fellow citizens because they made a trip to a Planned Parenthood clinic.

The point is that this is not a proper arena for government at all. What is at stake is who do our bodies belong to, if not to us? That’s what Roe v. Wade affirmed – the right of a person to privacy. And this right to privacy includes freedom from interference with our bodily integrity by any individual or group.

I was going to write here “If I were a woman … ” but stopped myself. Right now the focus is on whether women should be able to end an undesired pregnancy or not. But those whose state of mind says it is okay to force those women to carry those pregnancies to term could one day turn their laser beam of religious zealotry on any aspect of our lives that they choose. (It wasn’t so long ago that police could break into homes to enforce anti-sodomy laws, which targeted gay citizens. They might still be doing so if it weren’t for the assertion of the right to privacy.)

Nope. If I were a woman I would be very angry at what is happening today. I know this for a certainty because I am not a woman, and I am very angry at what is happening today. Once again, I call on one of my favorite cranky people to clarify my feelings. (I have changed the pronouns of the quote to better fit today’s diatribe.)

Every normal person must be tempted at times to spit on their hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.

H.L. Mencken


Plaisir d’Amour by Nana Mouskouri


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