31 January 2008

Busy Day for Elderly Pathologist

For a mostly retired pathologist I had a busy day.

First thing was a post-mortem examination on a 40 year old male who didn’t wake up yesterday morning. Now that I think about it, with the amount of skin slippage that he had, it was probably at least 3 or 4 days ago that he didn’t wake up. He had a heart large enough to do him in.

Then I hurried to St Pius for a funeral mass for the wife of a retired surgeon. Apparently she just up and died one evening a few days ago. Another reminder that we need to treasure all our gatherings as they may be cut short at any time, so always say what needs to be said, just in case one or the other of us doesn’t wake up.

A quick lunch at home, then off to First Presbyterian where we celebrated the life of Bob W., president of the Billings Mustangs for quite a few years, and a good guy. He was known to have some kind of heart disease and fairly severe Parkinson’s disease, but as bad luck would have it, he slipped and fell while shoveling snow on 1 January, broke his hip, and then took about a month to die.

Then back to the morgue to examine a month old male whose mother was in jail and was being looked after by his step-father: not a very auspicious start in life, and not surprisingly, he didn’t get very far either. He was filled with pus in all his airways and even in his urine. The “old man’s friend” can affect the very young too.

Standing out in my mind at the end of the day was the reading from Proverbs about the good wife at the morning funeral and the eulogy from an articulate 11 year old grandson at the afternoon funeral.

What has been offered for learning today? 1) Choose your ancestors wisely; and 2) Get somebody else to shovel your driveway.

30 January 2008

Wall Street Journal Strikes Again

This paper, the Wall Street Journal, must be rapidly overtaking the far left blather of the New York Times as America's newspaper of record. This morning I read a medium-size news story on Kenyan goings-on. Compared to the truncated (I assume) Associated Press version seen in our local newspaper, the Billings Gazette, it was almost scholarly. Comparing the two versions was particularly instructive when I noted what the AP left out, but now that I think about it, isn't that what our friends on the left continually give us, a highly selective compilation of the tons of flotsam and jetsam rolling down the information superhighway?

My eyes jumped to paragraphs with place names like Naivasha and Nakuru, (see the entry back in September 2005) places where we spent long weekends in the fall of 2005 while working in the laboratory at Kijabe Hospital. We were mainly interested in the small and large animals in the nearby parks and lakes, but we drove through the towns in order to get to the animals. I wouldn't have the courage to do that these days. I remember seeing signs for Eldoret just up the road apparently, and that is where the present killing rampage started.

28 January 2008

More pictures of the new ballpark: Sorry I'm Starting to Repeat Myself

I just can't resist driving around the city block the new ballpark is being built upon, especially around the outfield.

See what is being called the outfield wall just below. It looks like it is being built with the same bricks being used for the grandstand and the players clubhouses. If I were an outfielder I would probably be a little leery approaching this wall with any speed at all.

The picture above right shows that the show goes on even when it is cold and snowy.

Checking out the pictures from the excellent website of the Parks, Recreation and Public Lands, aka the PRPL, is also very helpful. That is where all these pictures come from.

These are miscellaneous pictures from late December to late January. The one at the top right is from 24 January and shows the work going on despite the snowy and cold weather. Below left is of the outfield wall. The last one is behind and to the right of home plate looking toward the Mustangs dugout on the 3rd base line. It may give you an idea of how the playing field is going to be sunken as the main entrance is to the left of the picture and street level is at the top of the stands.

22 January 2008

Tuesday of the 2nd Week in Ordinary Time

Spent much of the day gathering information and writing emails and talking on the phone to older and younger relatives about this summer get-together, tentatively being called the Mueller Family Melee.

Finished Jacqueline Winspear’s Messenger of Truth, the fourth in a series about some of the close and distant and usually unforeseen consequences of the Great War on the survivors in Britain. It was a good story about good and evil, as were the earlier ones in the series. One really cares about many of the characters, especially her main heroine, Maisie Dobbs. I suppose the critics would call the series a kind of a soap-opera in book form.

Two quotes stood out for me. One in the front matter was a poem that didn’t rhyme by Paul Nash, who served with the Artists’ Rifles and the Royal Hampshire Regiment during the Great War.

I am no longer an artist interested and anxious,
I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men
who are fighting to those who want the war to go on forever.
Feeble, inarticulate, will be my message, but it will have a
bitter truth, and may it burn in their lousy souls.

and then on p. 166, a few lines of prose, some of which rhymed, where the narrator describes a diphtheria fever hospital in the early 30s: “Austere, iron-framed cots were lined up, each with just a sheet and rough blanket to cover the feverish body of a child. The vapor of disinfectant barely masked another lingering smell, the foul breath of death waiting for another victim to weaken.”

I can actually remember an infectious disease ward, having had the privelege of serving in one in Cincinnati in the middle 60s. We knew it was a leftover from an earlier time, and probably not going to be around much longer, but tradition dies slowly in some places, and there was a peculiar smell I can still recall. I didn't know then much about the "foul breath of death."

18 January 2008

Learning Something Somedays

Have you seen the word "viral" used in situations that, when you think about it, doesn't seem to make sense? Maybe because of my medical background the word seems to be popping up more often recently than back in the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

Of course I turned to Wikipedia and I haven't been disappointed yet. As you might guess it is derived from scientific jargon having to do with how some microbes spread within a susceptible population. It is used in politics and advertising or am I being redundant?

As a bonus, when you look up "viral" and read the short and pithy entry you come across the verb "astroturf" which means to generate interest in something artificially as opposed to the real or "grassroots" phenomena. As in almost all of our politics these days. Who would have thought in 1960 about the unintended consequences of putting important parts of that presidential race on TV.

17 January 2008

George MacDonald Fraser RIP

After reading of the recent and timely death of George MacDonald Fraser, creator of the famous Harry Flashman memoirs, in today's Wall Street Journal, I turned to his entry in Wikipedia. I was amazed to see references to his obituaries in the Times and Telegraph of 3 January and even the article in the WSJ of 17 January. The last time I looked that was today! How do they do that?

I first became acquainted with Fraser's approach to Victorian history in 1971 with his publishing of the third "packet" of Flashman's papers, Flash for Freedom. All told there were 12 in the series, all of them presenting Flashman as the "most impossibly toadying, lying, cheating and cowardly hero in fiction," according to the WSJ.

In addition, he also wrote screenplays, the most notable being the 1973 and 1974 versions of the Three and Four Musketeers, directed by Richard Lester; and an autobiography Quartered Safe Out Here. I will have to look around for these.

08 January 2008

Moving Right Along

Just can't resist having a look at the progress on the new ballpark here in Billings. This was one of the first things I checked out when we returned from Rome, Italy. They are moving along: imagine that in December and January in Montana. Oh sorry, I've let out a usually well-kept secret.

Gary Roller, general manager for the Mustangs, has told me that I have some season seats just behind the Mustangs' dugout on the third base side. See above for the dugout in the background. Those of you who remember the old Cobb Field will also remember having to look into the sun in the late afternoon and early evening because the home dugout was on the first base side. And see also the splendid web pages of the Parks and Recreation people here in Billings.

06 January 2008

Coming Home Again

We left Rome on the morning of 31 December for Paris and a long day's flight to Houston. Had a good sleep and woke up on 1 January feeling pretty good. We managed to change our tickets on SouthWest to later that day without too much bother and arrived in Albuquerque in late afternoon, 1 January.

Sharon, Leo and Diego had been visiting in Mexico so we caught up on some more jet lag and did our laundry, then met up with them the following day. Diego is growing quickly, but wasn't feeling so well because of a fever. The popsicle went down very well.

On 3 January we were off to San Francisco to see Joan, Don and boys Matt and Mike. These guys were growing fast too. Matt is doing a little microscopy here just like his grandfather used to do. He might be looking at a booger.

Had some bad weather and some loss of power while we were there but it was still a good visit. That is Joan and Mike, about halfway between his fourth and fifth birthday below.

On 5 January we took off from Santa Rosa to Seattle, stayed overnight there. The Mazzucas were off attending a wedding in Detroit so we missed them. We went on to Billings on Sunday morning, 6 January, the Feast of the Epiphany. We were very glad to be home.

01 January 2008

Sic Transit Gloria Icicles

The view from my front window looking toward Ramada Drive running from left to right on 27 December 2008. This is an example of climate change aka Local Cooling.

Three days later this is all that was left. This is an example of climate change aka Local Warming. I haven't seen any polar bears. They may have all drowned in these parts because of climate change.

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue


Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here
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