We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, February 12. 2014
We took a two- or three-hour hike each day of our trip. That doesn't sound like much, but it's mountains so it's uphill all the way. Sore legs.
We took one jungle birding hike with Mano, who knows all of the plants, trees, and birds. His granny was a herbalist, so he picks all sorts of leaves and makes you eat them for health. Why not?
He gives his walking stick a bath in the sea each evening to keep it happy. "Happy, happy, tank God for dis day" is the Caribbean mantra, isn't it?
Had we more time, I would have done some serious birding, but we saw many of the common critters. Some, of course, are our northern summer breeders in their wintertime vacation home.
We also saw a bat cave filled with thousands of fruit bats. At dusk, the fruit bats zipped through our little porch and filled a night-blooming tree outside the dining room, sucking nectar and pollinating the blossoms. Remarkable creatures for sure, and a wondrous sight.
My list below the fold, for those interested.
Continue reading "Casual Birding on St. Lucia"
He makes good points. My main hobbies are shooting and hunting, boating, skiing, and hanging out in NYC pubs with pals and gals. Each can be dangerous to some degree. I am heading out to Big Sky tonight for 6 days of off-trail reckless tree skiing with old skiing pals, risking life and limb in deep powder. It's more dangerous than smoking.
We will have a blast, and drink lots of beer too. My theory is that safety is for pussies but, since I have a little sense, there are some things I just won't do. Cave scuba diving is one of them. I can handle fear, but cave diving scares me too much. Once was enough, at 65 feet. A very cool experience, though, and I am glad I did it.
Risk is the zest of life.
Tuesday, February 11. 2014
Editor's note: Dr. Azeff will be a regular contributor on medical topics
"Surviving Anxiety" was the cover story of The Atlantic magazine for January/February written by its editor, Scott Stossel.
One is a little flabbergasted when reading this man's story. While portraying himself as virtually crippled by anxiety in all of its forms, generalized anxiety, post traumatic stress, panic disorder and multiple phobias, he functions as the editor of a prestigious magazine which means likely conflicts with aggressive publishers and super-sensitive, if not querulous, writers. He is a writer himself and therefore a person expected to show up for promotional talks and for lectures. How does he do it? He begins his article, excerpted from his book, by describing his drug regimen for public speaking; xanax, inderal and scotch or vodka. As a clinician one is immediately tempted to take the bait and challenge the doses of his medication and balk at his use of ethanol which he acknowledges is risky at best, dangerous more honestly. From there we are led on a trip through his life and through the evolution of psychiatric treatments over the past thirty years, the good the bad and the ugly.
His first doctor who started treating him at age eleven and saw him twice a week for 25 years is roughly of my generation, I'll be 75 in a few months, Dr. L as he is called is probably in his early eighties. Analytically oriented therapy mixed with play therapy mixed with pharmacotherapy at the outset, progressing over decades to everything as it came along including EMDR and self-actualizing therapy whatever that means. One can appreciate the changes over the years as a picture of the evolution of a modality seeking a scientific framework. Just as edema was initially seen as a unitary "disease" called dropsy until science deconstructed the multiple causes of this symptom, so many of our psychiatric illnesses may be no less than psychological dropsy. I'll wager in the next ten years "schizophrenia" will be at least four different conditions of different etiology, and anxiety may follow suit as well.
But what I take away from this verbose, sometimes wry, sometimes antic, sometimes prolix piece is the transgressions of some of his caretakers. Well into Scott's treatment, Dr. L takes his father into treatment as well and uses Scott's sessions to get information about Stossel senior. The porous boundary is something we all grapple with but this is a destruction of the boundary that calls the treatment into question, perhaps from the start. After all, we may change course with a patient but usually with caution and discussion. I hope we are beyond the point of arguing that one cannot do both psychotherapy and psychopharmacology, but can one start with a classic dynamic model and wander into EMDR? Then there is the behavioral psychologist, Dr.M (both of these caretakers are "Boston" and Harvard trained and perhaps even faculty so we all must be clear that they definitely and unimpeachably know what they are doing) who determined his core problem was emetophobia, fear of vomiting, which she would treat with exposure therapy. Using the emetic ipecac which had cured other emetophobes, Stossel attempts the exposure with two doses of ipecac that produce retching and gagging but no vomiting in the course of four hours.
The next day he speaks to Dr. M who eventually relates that she was so shaken by his experience she cancelled all of her afternoon patients and spent the day at home nauseated and vomiting and taking to bed. Once again a transgression of questionable purpose. That treatment was fractured and collapsed fairly soon afterwards. We all have seen patients who are difficult to treat, who have disabling symptoms of anxiety or depression or psychosis, which are not easily medicated. How often do we ask ourselves about the possibility that the patient is consciously or unconsciously engaged in an attempt to make us feel as helpless and demoralized as he feels? Is it "blaming the patient" to weigh this possibility as a cause of intractable symptoms?
There is nothing glaringly obvious pointing to this in the story Stossel tells us and his brave walking through fire story is to be admired, but I'm just saying . . .
I don't know what motivates the nanny state. People just want to be left alone.
Monday, February 10. 2014
This is a rather remarkable admission from the leadership of the Democratic Party. Have they merged with the Socialist-Worker's Party? Or with the Leisure/Artist Party?
I am, of course, opposed to "job-lock", but there is no job-lock, aka indentured servitude, in America today. America is seen as the land of opportunity for people all around the world who dream of getting here. What the heck are these Dems talking about? To whom are they pandering now?
We barely made it out of Yankeeland in a blizzard last week (thanks to our fine drive service with 4 WD Lexi limos), and barely made it home last night in another snowstorm (thanks, fine driver).
I will post some of my travelogue pics and fun info from the only Caribbean island and the only elite boutique hotel (35 rooms) there that Mrs. BD likes (no computers, no WiFi, no TV, no cell service, no pool, no lifeguards, no clocks, no A/C, no windows - all open to the tropical breeze - no phones, no salespeople, no elevators because all the totally-private and jungle-surrounded little villas are one-floor, the best diving and snorkeling in the New World - and you can leave all of your valuables on the beach - wallet, watch, cameras, etc all day without any concern, for hours) when I get organized.
In fact, this pic is a mid-1700s French sugar cane plantation manager's house, now embedded in jungle a 45-minute jungle hike from one of the resort's two little private beaches. Thanks to the mountainous volcanic terrain (unlike most of the flat coral-based Lesser Antilles), St. Lucia has a rain forest habitat but it happily has mostly sunny days with occasional spitting light showers which you ignore.
Sunday, February 9. 2014
We're having 30 friends over here at Maggie's Farm HQ for a casual wild game dinner tomorrow night. Perfect for a 10 degree (F) winter night. I'll have all three fireplaces burning.
Three of us guys now do the cooking for these events, and lucky are the invitees.
Hor's doevres: Slices of rare charcoal-grilled wild venison filet mignon and slices of rare Canada goose breast, en croute, with a dab of horseradish.
Entrees: One hunting pal is making his favorite venison curry with rice. My Louisiana-born and bred hunting buddy is making wild duck gumbo. I am making wild duck breast with dried cherry sauce, with cheese grits. Or maybe a warm duck breast salad. Can't decide.
Somebody offered to bring a big salad, and somebody else graciously offered to bring home-made desserts. I supply the beer, and everybody will bring a bottle or three of red wine.
I'll provide pretty good cigars too, for them what wants 'em. In my experience, women never complain about guys and cigars when men do the cooking and party planning. We'll have to set up a few extra tables in the living room to do this, because this ain't no palace (but not a trailer either). The persnickety Mrs. BD just hates it when a plate of gumbo or a tankard of Pinot Noir gets spilled on her furniture.
A pal who read my piece about humidors in winter was thoughtful enough to deliver me an Opus X along with two 72% Boveda gel-packs. Those packs are news to me.
He promised that putting two Boveda packs in there will get your humidor through three months in the winter up here, where our humidity can be quite low in winter. The packs don't activate until opened.
Thank you, friend.
Everybody likes pancakes, especially with a side of bacon, sausage, and/or fried eggs.
Readers know that I like to throw a handful of frozen cranberries into the batter, and that I am particular about Maple Syrup - Grade B, not Grade A.
I also like to make cornmeal pancakes (as in photo). I tend to overweight the cornmeal/flour ratio, and I like to throw some canned corn or frozen corn into the batter. Good stuff.
Kids love it. They will grow strong, healthy, average or above-average, and attractive on this feed.
By the way, have you ever used molasses on pancakes? It's delicious, especially on cornmeal pancakes.
Saturday, February 8. 2014
A re-post -
Gourmet pizza nowadays often comes without tomatoes and with all sorts of other toppings, but it was the basic tomato-mozzarella mix that made pizza so popular, beginning in the 1950s, in the US. It was made for beer.
That basic format relied on the importation of the tomato - originally a yellow fruit, the "pomi d'oro," from Mexico to Europe in the 1500s. Cortez brought more than gold to Europe.
From its Greek origins to Chicago's Pizza Uno, the story of pizza is about immigration, entrepreneurialism, and invention. Now, "93 percent of Americans eat pizza at least once a month."
Read the whole American Pie at Am. Heritage. 1960s image of Miss Rheingold (a bigger deal in NY than Miss America) from the article. Extra-dry Rheingold Beer - the beer of New York baseball, brewed on the east side of Manhattan until the 1970s.
Friday, February 7. 2014
An annual re-post, but re-posted again because we seemed to help a number of people with this:
Forget the "Obesity Crisis." That's a crock. Abundant, good food is a blessing and a rarity in human history so it is a great privilege and luxury to be overweight. It certainly is true that, when tasty food is cheap, people will eat a lot of it and their bodies will kindly store what they don't need to survive today, to the detriment of our knees, hips, appearance, comfort, and general vigor. Trouble is, we won't need that storage tomorrow - or ever. It's like hoarding.
We can all be as fat or fit as we wish to be. It's a free country, and being fat (but not obese) isn't terrible for your health unless you are diabetic or want to be able to get around energetically. But don't listen to the Dieticians and Nutritionists. They will want you to get in shape slowly and in a "sustainable" way. In your heart, you know that will never happen. If you are bothering to read this, you just want to get in shape as quickly as you can without liposuction or use of the vomitorium.
Eliminating carbs reduces or eliminates carb craving in most overweight people over several weeks.
This can be a one- to three-month program as desired. Maintenance is another topic.
Details below -
Continue reading "The Official Maggie's Farm Get-Back-in-shape before Summer Plan"
Creation, existence, and our awareness of these things, are the greatest miracles.
"There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle."
My Christmas present to Mrs. BD was piano lessons from a fine teacher who comes to the house. Mrs. BD had lessons in youth and had an incredible music education later. She is music-oriented, but now can only easily play basic things - Happy Birthday and Christmas carols and Auld Lang Syne - she reads music but wants and needs to be able to play chords, jazz riffs, serious pieces, etc., especially since we replaced the old and now have my late Dad's Steinway baby grand. What a sound! It fills ye olde cabin with rich noise. I don't care about missed notes or the sound of practicing. I love to hear it all, including the "damn, damn, damn."
Barking dogs, "damns" from the pianny, drier thumping, vacuum cleaner roaring, the scullery maids dropping pots, doorbell ringing, Blue Jays squawking outside, a young 'un yelling "Where's my sneakers?" - the lovely sounds of home sweet home.
Mrs. BD "gets" music, but pretty much dislikes pop music, country music, rock - and Dylan. She's not a snob, just finds them all annoyingly juvenile, unrefined, and stupid - except for a little Motown. What she loves is opera - and anything you can dance to. She wins Charleston competitions, and that's saying a lot, because the youth these days are into vigorous retro dance.
I am musically-retarded and tone-deaf but, in my wasted youth, a little cannabis plus a history of music course helped me hear, seemed to open my ears and, for some reason, that effect has lasted despite being drug-free since college. I still have to close my eyes to listen. You can get WQXR via the internets. Good fun.
So are Bob Greenberg's Great Courses. We love them.
When I grew up, we had an upright in the kitchen for kids' lessons, and a Grand or Baby Grand for the grown-ups in the parlor. I am told that the life span of a fine piano is 40-50 years if kept away from heat, sunlight, and given proper humidity - and then it's worthless junk, useless if not pretentious decor to put pictures on, or a $20,000 factory refurbishing. Unlike fine violins, old pianos are basically garbage which you have to pay somebody to get rid of. I placed Dad's in a northern corner of the parlor which has no nearby heat source except a fireplace that we only light up about 15 times per year for a few hours, for holidays and winter parties.
I am going to coat those windows with that UV stuff to protect the wood. It's around 25 years old, so it still has a good life left in it. My Dad would bang out Mozart for an hour a day on this machine, during cocktail hour. The good old days. "Damn, damn, damn" when he missed a note. Mom would do Christmas songs and children's songs with nary a "damn."
The previous family piano was a black Chickering Grand piano. Like all pianos, it aged and was junked.
Those excellent Legacy speakers? I can play pretty good Bach on the CD player and my old Denon record player. Recorded music mostly destroyed the American family music culture which was based on home-made music. Well, that plus radio and TV all turned Americans into inert and passive blobs.
Thursday, February 6. 2014
If and when that's done, there will something else, ad infinitum, until the people rebel and take back their birthright.
I never expect honest answers from questions about sex, substance use, or money, so I won't expect perfect honesty here.
However, in an effort to warm up this frigid winter season, here's my scientific Maggie's Farm poll question for today:
How often during a normal day out and about in the world do you think "Hmmm, that's appealing; I think I wouldn't mind having some sex with that guy or gal"?
Honest answers most appreciated.
A medical man, "C.T. Azeff," is interested in this newfangled blogging biz. He emailed me this initial offering which is partly in response to If Obamacare Doesn't Kill Small Medical Practices, Bureaucratic ICD-10 Coding Requirements Might :
OK class, take out a pen and piece of paper, I am going to tell you a bit about ICD 10.
First, don't be alarmed by the prophets of doom who say you docs will be required to use this carefully crafted taxonomy in order for the insurers to refuse to compensate you for your services. This is true. I had dinner with an oncologist friend who is in bankruptcy because even though his patient's insurance company gave prior approval for a $100,000 course of chemotherapy they maintained that did not obligate them to actually pay for the cost. He already had, and on multiple occasions.
V9733XA: Sucked into a jet engine, initial encounter
I'll be back soon to discuss Scott Stossel's heroic battle with anxiety and transgressive therapists.
Read this question, come up with an answer and then scroll down to the bottom for the result. This is not a trick question. It reads:
A woman, while at the funeral of her own mother, met a guy whom she did not know. She thought this guy was amazingly appealing. She believed him to be her dream guy and soul mate so much that she fell in love with him right then and there, but never asked for his number and could not find him. A few days later she killed her sister.
Question: What is her motive for killing her sister?
[Give this a little thought before you answer]
Answer below the fold -
Continue reading "A do-it-yourself test for sociopathy, re-posted"
A good friend left off this load of split Beech last weekend. I have to unload it, which is fine. An excellent gift. Beech is heavy as lead and as hard as nails, so hard that it destroyed saws so foresters left it alone until power saws came along.
All of the majestic old Beeches around here are dying of a bark fungus.
Wednesday, February 5. 2014
Here's the place where your editor Bird Dog spends many hours in work and study. Kids and
I was experimenting with camera settings, and this was not really as sharp as I was aiming for. I was hoping to be able to capture the antique Eskimo animal carvings on the mantle, but it does give a general idea of The Inner Sanctum on a dark, snowy winter evening. A comfortable if humble study, perfect for me:
Tuesday, February 4. 2014
The American Robin is semi-migratory (populations edge southwards), and can be found almost anywhere in the US in wintertime. Here, our winter Robins are probably Canucks, while our local summer breeders are probably in South Carolina.
In the northern US, they live on old berries and fruits in the winter, usually foraging in flocks. Sometimes they get drunk on fermented rotten fruit. They do not eat bird seed.
This pic was from a reader a while back, taken, as I recall, in Lenox, MA:
But today's release, by the CBO, about how Obamacare will impact the workforce is possibly the most insightful look into the potential damage this legislation will wreak on workers in the United States.
But wait! There's more! Spin, that is. After all, what good is an administration if it can't get the gullible masses to believe the CBO didn't say what it did say? I'm curious to see how this plays out (or doesn't, as is more likely) in the media over the next few days.
I was pretty good college material because I have always been curious about everything, have always read up on anything I did not know about, and have always had adequate verbal and mathematical abilities.
Feeling ignorant was a blessing for me because I always wanted to fight it, and learning new things has always been one of my joys.
Still, I liked this from Matt Walsh: Thank God I wasn’t college material.
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