Dogs. A Salutary Solution.

31 July 2011

A few days after Jo and I moved in, we were scouting out things in what we call the North Forty — a flat expanse of grass covering the cesspool — when we noticed some motion in the hedge and out came a dog.  It was large and hairy with semi-floppy ears and an enormous tail that swept the ground like a scythe.

Apparently, the dog hadn’t expected to see anyone for it gave a start, stopped dead in its tracks and began to bark.  Woof, woof.  My first impulse was to yell at it and chase it away.  But a second’s thought told me it was a neighbor’s and that if I wanted good relations with said neighbor, it behooved me to have good relations with the dog.

Hunkering, I held out my hand back-first (if you hold out your hand palm-first, animals can think you’re trying to catch them), talked softly and soon the dog came toward me and, with nose twitching, began to sniff.  Nice doggy.  After a few tentative pats on the head, the dog turned, barked and went back into the shrubbery.

That went well.

A day or two later, Jo came in and announced there were dog droppings on the lawn.  Indeed there were.  Three things that looked like brown knockwurst covered with blue-assed flies.  I got a shovel and moved them into the street (later that week, Jo bought a design-built pooper scooper, in case we ever found more).  I’m glad she did, for the dog droppings began to appear with alarming frequency; one, sometime two, each week.

Just after we moved in, we bought a lawn mower.  But not the usual kind.  This one was a six horsepower weed eater.  It had an aluminum chassis with two large wheels at the rear topped by an engine.  Projecting out front was a two-foot snout beneath which descended a cylinder in which were mounted four stout plastic strings.  The cylinder was turned by the engine through a system of belts.  When running flat out, it could cut down saplings.

One morning, I went out onto the deck and saw the source of the poops.  It was the neighbor’s mutt.  It was squatting with its backside toward me with its tail going up and down like a pump handle.  “Get outta here, ya goddamned mutt!” I screamed at it.  The animal simply turned his head and gave me a sullen and insolent look, then continued straining at the bowels.  When finished, he moved off a few steps and kicked some grass over his leavings.

I grabbed the pooper scoper, placed the turds in a paper sack, stomped over to the neighbors’ place and handed him the bag: “Your dog dropped this in my yard by accident; I thought you’d like it back.”  He was not amused.  He did, however, make an attempt to control the dog as fewer turds appeared.  Sometimes weeks would go by.

Then one morning, the dog came over and passed a loose and watery stool.  It sank down through the grass to the soil beneath where it lay unobserved.  Later that morning, I fired up the lawn mower and began to cut the grass.  Not seeing the dog’s mess, I ran straight into it.  The air was instantly filled with a greenish-brown spume that flew everywhere — onto the house, across the lawn, into the mower’s workings and, naturally, onto my bare legs, my white socks and my sneakers.  Jo could hear my howls of outrage and came onto the deck to see what happened.

“I’m gonna kill that fucking mutt!” I raged. 

Jo suggested a more temperate, less drastic response to the animal’s depredations; one that wouldn’t involve the police.  “You just leave it to me,” she said, “Now go inside and pour yourself a drink.  I’ll finish up.”

A few evenings later, I saw another shit on the grass.  “OK, smart ass,” I sneered at Jo, “Let’s see what you can do about that,” I said pointing to the turds.

Jo smiled.  She said she was going to try something she heard about on a gardening show.  With that, she opened the fridge and took out the jar of bacon grease.  She uncapped it, stuck in the microwave to soften it up, them dumped a large dollop into a small bowl.  Taking an old spatula, she picked up the bowl and said, “Follow me.”

Out in the yard, we went to the reeking pile.  Jo took out a large glop of bacon grease with the spatula, bent down, and smeared it all over the poo.  “What the hell are you doing?” I asked.

“You know if there’s one thing dogs find irresistible, it’s bacon,” she said.  “And the second thing on their list is shit.  So, with some bacon grease on the shit to entice them, any dog coming by will eat the whole pile.  Two for the price of one, huh?”

Wow.

Jo took my elbow and walked me back to the house.  The next day I took a look and, sure enough, the dog crap was gone.  I don’t know if was the neighbor’s mutt, another mutt or a coyote who ate it, but eat it something did.  Oh, joy and bliss.

We have since made it our practice to inspect the lawn every few days and if we see something, we coat that something with bacon grease.  It was more than a year before we had to use the pooper scooper again.  Then they stopped appearing altogether.  Either the dog finally learned its lesson, or its master finally got tired of having a shit-breathed dog licking his face and he applied corrective measures.

In any case, the problem was solved for good-and-all when the dog was run over by a garbage truck.

-Merlin-


Colonoscopy

23 July 2011

About six months back, my doctor asked “Merlin, when did you have your last colonoscopy?”

Wincing at the unpleasant memory, I said “About ten years ago.”

The doctor clucked, “Then you are overdue.”

I dodged his reminders for six months or so then relented.  I called his nurse to schedule the exam for convenient Monday.  “Yes, Monday,” the nurse giggled.  “Everyone wants Monday.  I guess that’s because the preparations take a whole day and Sunday means not missing work.  And by the way,” she tittered, “on Sunday, will you be near a working toilet?”

I recalled that the first colonoscopy had required two unpleasant enemas the morning of the exam.  “Well now it’s different,” she said with relish.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

The nurse told me that today, there are more thorough preparations.  “You have to be flushed out but good, and that means a days’ worth of harsh laxatives, plus some electrolytes.  You’ll be taking the electrolytes all day long on Sunday.  Oh, and you’ll have to fast.”

“Fast?”

“Yes, nothing to eat all day Sunday and all day Monday, and nothing to drink after five A.M. Monday  But after the exam, you can go pig out.”

Swell.  I’d be dying of thrust and willing to eat the ass out of a skunk.  I don’t do well if I miss a meal.  Not for nothing do I look like Orson Wells.

The nurse continued: “I’ll phone-in your prescriptions.”

“Prescriptions?”

“Yes.  Four little pills to get things moving and a gallon of electrolytes to keep them moving.”  (Ha ha)

“A gallon?”

“Yes, but you may not need all of it — just until you are flowing clear.”

“What’s ‘flowing clear?'”

“Your stool,” she snorted like Earnestine the Operator.

“What do you mean, my ‘stool?'”

“Your BM.”  She was enjoying this.  “It’ll be like diarrhea, except more voluminous and less stinky.”

On the Saturday before the ordeal, I dropped by the drugstore and picked up my supplies.  The clerk handed me a plastic gallon jug with some powder in the bottom and a small bottle with the four pills.  She said, “Tonight, fill the jug to the ‘full’ mark and put it in the fridge — it tastes better when cold.”

At home, I mixed up the stuff in the jug and let it sit until everything was dissolved.  It resembled a thin mucus.  Into the fridge it went.

Sunday morning, I breakfasted on bacon, eggs, toast, milk and coffee, then settled in for a day’s starvation.  I turned on the Discovery channel and took to my chair.  The pills went down the hatch at ten, followed by a glass of the mucus.  I’ve never eaten shit, but if I did, I’m sure it would taste like this stuff.

Each hour thereafter, another glass of mucus.

It was mid-afternoon when I said, “Jo, this stuff isn’t working.”

“Give it time,” she said.

A few moments later, my bowels gave a violent lurch followed by an intense cramp.  “Oh, Christ!” I said, “get out of my way!”  Hunched over, I scuttled to the toilet.  I barely made it.

There was a massive poo, followed by more cramps.  I was sitting athwart the thunder mug in a cold sweat when Jo appeared at the door: “Here’s your next glass of mucus,” she said with an evil smile.

This drill was repeated throughout the day until around eight when I pronounced my “stool” to be free flowing and clear.  (I know this, for one must look in the bowl after each voiding to check for content, clarity and color.)

Exhausted and famished, I went to bed.

At ten Monday morning, I reported to the clinic to have a doctor peer in my guts using something like a plumber’s snake.

After changing into a “gown” with no backside (won’t need a backside anyway, now will I?) I was led into  a room and placed on a cot like the ones used for lethal injections.  Presently a nurse came in and plugged an IV needle into a vein on my hand: “There,” she said, “This’ll take the edge off.”

It didn’t.

Some minutes later, they wheeled me into the examination room which was dark like an execution chamber.  There were four, maybe five, people in green scrubs milling about.  They paid as much attention to me as do mechanics who about to grease a car.

“OK, sport,” came a male voice.  “Hop up on the table,” he said pointing to a cold looking black slab.  I did as he asked.  Then a pair of hands laid me down on my left side, ripped the gown off my back end and told me to draw my knees up into a fetal position.  In the background I could hear a couple healers chatting about whither or not the Saints would clobber the M`s.  A third was on the phone telling his wife he’d pick up a roast on the way home.

“OK,” said a woman, “Let’s do this guy.”

With that, a pair of hands spread open my cleft and probed my unmentionable spot.  “Mister .. um, er .. Sprague, you wanna watch?”  Then they stuck in an air hose and inflated me like a balloon.  With my colon thus distended, they can see all the details.  “Sure, why not.”

I was told to direct my gaze to a monitor on the far wall.  Before I knew what was happening, the snake was in.

Do you know what your guts look like?  No?  Well they look like the inside of a vacuum-cleaner hose festooned with red and purple veins.

On went the snake.  Then there was a stab of pain.  “Hummm,” said that doctor, “looks like you’ve got a mess of adhesions from all those surgeries.  Here, let me see if I can knock a few of them loose.”  In an aside, she said to the nurse, “Better give him a good hit of Fentanyl; this will smart.”  What followed felt like someone jabbing plunger into a toilet.  “There,” said the doctor, and then played-in more snake.

Then I saw the first polyp; a sickly white lump peeking from a crevasse.  “Ah,” said the doctor with obvious satisfaction.  With that, she slid a wire loop from the snake’s business end, dropped the loop over the polyp and drew it in, snipping the polyp off at its base. A small aspirator sucked the polyp back into a catch bag for later analysis.  Blood oozed.

Then she found another, then another . . . Five, all tolled.

Finely she was done and the hateful apparatus was withdrawn.

After laying around the recovery room nauseous from the Fentanyl, I finally went home and ate a hamburger, fries, milk and pie.

A week later, I got the news: The polyps, called tubular adenomas, were precancerous.  Well Jesus Christ and General Jackson!  I already had one cancer, and that was quite enough, thank you.  The doctor advised me to come back in a year for another look-see, and to eat plenty of roughage in the meantime.  –Which I shall do, for I’m not yet ready to croak, nor do I want to spend the rest of my life shitting through a hole in my side.

And I imagine, Gentle Reader, neither do you.  So a word to the wise: If you’re over fifty, go to your doctor and ask about a colonoscopy.  If the doctor recommends one, don’t be shy.

-Merlin-


Harry Potter, RIP

18 July 2011

So, this weekend it finally happened: The last of the Harry Potter movies came out.  Thank heavens!  When the first one came out, friends and family dragged me off to see it.  I thought it was terrible.  A few years later, it happened again, only this time I was forced to endure the damned thing at a friend’s house.  Again it was terrible, just like the first.

Of course I never read any of the books, but I did hear Jo reading some of it to our friend’s kids when she was baby-sitting.  I have say, from what I heard the movie seemed true to the book.  Pity; I’d hoped the book was the better of the two but no such luck.

Harry Potter ain’t no Lord of the Rings.

I find Harry Potter to be puerile in the extreme, what with all the fantastical gee-gaws and mumbo-jumbo.  Harry Potter stories are like little kids playing war.  One will move his men, the other will respond and so it will go.  Then suddenly, one of them says, “You can’t attack my army because it has a force field I got from the little green men.”  The other replies, “Yeah?  Well the big red men gave me a nullifier to counter your force field, so there.”  The first turns up his nose and says, “It won’t work because my mother has a beard!”  His opponent then sticks out his tongue and says, “I don’t care `cause I just pulled out my magic wand and cast a spell on your army — and your mother’s beard.  So there, pfttttt!”

Harry Potter makes as much sense.

As for Harry’s rather mild treatment of the Arch Fiend, you know that’s a crock.  In the real world, when you’ve got your mortal enemy on the ropes, you squash him like a bug.

And for another thing, there isn’t any hot and steamy sex.  Let me tell you, there sure would be if Harry and his crew were normal teens.

And that Dumbledore.  Don’t you think that with a whole school full of kids at his disposal, he’d be putting the letch on some of them?  Ya betcha.

And where were the kids out behind the school getting blasted on cheap wine?  I didn’t see them.

Well, anyway, Harry Potter films are all done.

But what about the chap who played Harry?  Well, he’s fucked.  He’s now as type-cast as poor old Leonard Nimoy.  As an actor, the Harry Potter guy is finished.  But he’s a rich as Croesus now so he probably doesn’t care.  However, if he ever feels moved to practice his “art” once again, he can go back to the male strip joint he graced a few years back.  There he’ll drop trow, hump a brass pole and shake his junk at the audience.

I just hope the next character to capture the minds of the young is better than this turkey.

-Merlin-


Trofim Lysenko is Alive and Well in the Republican Party

3 July 2011

Lysenkoism is used colloquially to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.  -Wikipedia-

Old Joe Stalin, dictator of the long-failed Soviet Union, wanted to have a creature called the “New Soviet Person”.  This person was to exhibit characteristics Joe found highly desirable.  As these characteristics were generally not found in nature, nor all of them in one person, and as Old Joe knew trying to breed such a creature through eugenics would take a long time, OLd Joe devised a theory that if a person were subjected to sufficient coercion, they would eventually exhibit the desired characteristics.  (Well, duh!  That’s what happens to kids in school.)

But Old Joe went further: He maintained that, when these people reproduced, these so-called “characteristics” would be carried forward in their genes and, bingo, the New Soviet Person.  Utter rubbish to be sure, but Old Joe insisted on it.  To lend the smack of scientific rigor to his theories, Trofim Lysenko came along and with his credentials, decided it would be in his best interest to support Stalin’s nonsense and discredit Gregor Mendel, the man who proved the laws of genetics.  Hence the term “Lysenkosim”.

Fast forward to last Thursday when my favorite talk radio person hosted a dialog between a scientist who demonstrated the actuality of Global Warming (a more apt term than Climate Change) and a representative of the Republican Party.  The first guest was scientist who came from an august institution of higher learning where he spent years studying the phenomenon.  The other guest was a political hack from the Cato Institute who spewed the bilge of his employer.  The Cato Institute, a propaganda organ of the Republican Party, maintains all scientific data supporting Global Warming are invalid — or if valid, must have an interpretation favoring the continued effluence of noxious gasses from powerplants, cars and whatnot.  A case of Lysenkoism if ever there was one.

Lysenkoism, it must be noted, can only survive in a milieu of ignorance, compulsion and a steadfast denial of reality — as in the Republican Party.

  • The ignorance comes from a willful desire to not confront change; especially when that change entails effort and cost.
  • The compulsion comes from telling the party’s functionaries that their salaries depend on toeing the party line.  Also telling think tanks that their money will be cut off if they deviate from the party line.
  • The steadfast denial of reality comes from knowing (at least subconsciously) that the data are unimpeachable and change is therefore, unavoidable.  But like churchmen of old who, when confronted with irrefutable evidence that the world is round and that it rotates, declared such thinking heretical and deserving of death.  Like Lysenko, the Republicans’ attempt to discredit legitimate scientists, and their research, through denunciation, scurrilities  and outright defamation.
Even when Lysenkoists understand that denying reality will result in their own destruction, they redouble their efforts and cling to their delusions to the bitter end.  After all, an Orthodoxy, once adopted cannot be questioned, for if one part is found to be untrue, the Orthodoxy fails.  And if it fails, the true believers have to admit they were hornswoggled — and no one likes to admit that.  And so the Republican Party solders on.
  • Its members go about in hats festooned with teabags.
  • They lionize an ersatz plumber and a failed governor.
  • Their heroes are jingos, adamantines and peckerwoods, many of whom never made it out of high school.
  • Intellectual dishonesty is their warp and woof.
And Lysenko would be proud of them. Next year we have an election.  If we care about the USA, or the world in general, professed conservatives better take a long, hard look at the Republican Party, for the truth is not in it.
.
-Merlin-