Friday, July 24, 2009

Interesting Patient encounters, volume 2: A 19-year-old male with an "STD"

I was working in a rural county jail when this occurred. The patient is a slender, somewhat sickly looking 19 yo male. I did not ask what his alledged crime involved. The following is the harrowing account of how I came to diagnose his "STD" and my recommended "treatment."

RetiredJK: "When was the last time you were sexually active?"

Jailed Patient: "About 8 months ago."
RJK: "Did you use protection?"
JP: "No."
RJK: "Do you have sex with women?"
JP: "Yes."
RJK: "The occasional dude?"
JP: "NO!"
RJK: "You're sure? You are.... in jail after all."
JP: "Never."
RJK: "When did you first notice symptoms?
JP: "About a week ago."
RJK: "What kind of symptoms are you having?"
JP: "It's like a rash. On the side of my penis."
RJK: "Any painful discharge? Burning when you pee?"
JP: "No sir."
RJK: "Well let's have a look-see!"
(Examination reveals a slightly ulcerated, excoriated lesion on the right side of his penis; otherwise normal exam."
RJK: "Sir do you ever masturbate?"
JP (clearly embarrassed): "Uhh.... yeah."
RJK: "And you're right-handed."
JP: "Yeah (?)"
RJK: "Sir, I do not think you have an STD. Why don't you take it easy for awhile? Utilize your left hand when you return to masturbation. Or switch sides each time. This should resolve in few days."
JP: (relief)

Recipe Ideas for a Moderately New Millenium

Disclaimer: None of these recipes are moderately healthy. They may cause health problems in the short and/or long terms. Not recommended for small children, people with heart problems, or high blood pressure. Also, I shall give credit to sous chef/co-author Katherine Orr (Harvard '04) for some of the ideas in this article. The essence, however, remains mine.

Chicken Fried Steak and Mashed Potato-Corn-Bacon-New England Clam Chowder
1. Obtain Chicken Fried Steak (CFS heretofore)
2. Cover in mashed potatoes. Sprinkle corn atop.
3. Take bacon from a local salad bar and mix with New England Clam Chowder. Douse the CFS with this mixture.
4. Enjoy!
(Optionally, you can substiture macaroni and cheese for the potato layer.)

Very Berry Fruity Pebbles A La Mode Numero Uno
1. Pour Fruity Pebbles in a medium-sized bowl.
2. Cover in rasberry/blueberry mixture.
3. Single scoop vanilla ice cream, or berry-flavored vanilla-based ice cream.
4. Top with favorite ice cream toppings.
5. Enjoy! Can be shared with a friend.

Teriyaki Taco
1. Nuke Chinese food reftovers (I use broccori beef but anything is fine-- try mu shu pork also!) and place in flour tortirra.
2. Nuke mexican food leftovers (can substitute canned beans and rice and veggies) and place atop Chinese food in tortilla.
3. Nuke entire mixture with lots of shredded cheese and cajun seasoning (I suggest Tony Chachere's).
4. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Bacon, Egg, Cheese and Jelly Sandwich
1. Make bacon and egg over medium while toasting bread (white or wheat). Top bacon and egg with slice of American or cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.
2. Slather bread with peanut butter and jelly.
3. Add banana if you're feeling crazy.
4. Make a sandwich or it and enjoy!

Sushi Leftovers and Eggs
Most people don't take their leftover sushi home, but this recipe can be a real winner with sushi up to 36 hours old.
1. Place sushi in pan with sesame oil. Cook until warm and douse in soy sauce and wasabi.
2. Crack two eggs on top of the sushi and cook quickly. Chinese leftovers can be added if available.
3. Enjoy!

Also, some people marvel at my ability to make an ordinary dish better. Here are some simple tips for improving average food.
1. Add bacon
2. Add more bacon.
3. Add mayonnaise.
4. Add cheese.

If these tips don't work you should probably not eat it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Life of A Blogging Superstar, and A New Job

This past weekend, there was a three-day stretch during which I did not post a single blog, and for that I apologize. I was suffering from blogxhaustion. Sometimes the pressure of blogging every day gets to me. You just can't understand how difficult and, frankly, draining it can be to sit at a computer and type about the events of the day, current trends in ice cream, bingo, newfound interests in rodeo, etc., etc. I HAVE TO WAKE UP BY TEN IN THE MORNING, PEOPLE. I never even nap for more than two hours during the day.

Sometimes people approach me on the street and say, "Hey, retired blog guy, isn't it awesome riding an Escalade limousine everywhere and getting free Dom P on every corner? Can I have your autograph on my chest?" That's nice, but I feel kind of awkward when guys ask that. I usually say no. I'm very polite about it. No, really, blogging isn't all about what you see on MTV and the E! Channel. It's really about sitting down in front of an old Dell laptop and pouring my heart on the World Wide Web (bless Al Gore's heart for inventing this wonderful technology).

One time a small Canadian child with chicken pox walked up to me and said, "RetiredJK, I want to be just like you when I grow up!" Well you can't. You can't just wake up one day and decide to be a blogger. You have to retire first, and then you have to find a computer. So you already have two strikes against you, kid. Plus, you're Canadian.

Some people tell me not to front, that if I was big time I would have platinum grillz, a cross, and rings with my first and last names in diamonds. But I care not for the usual trappings of blog superstardom; my real interest lies in technology. Take, for instance, my diamond-studded optical mouse:

Or, for example, this platinum-plated keyboard that I utilize when I'm on the road:

This is what ballin' is about; my treasure is on the computer, bro.

Anyway, enough about me; let talk about my new job. First of all, it was quite difficult to obtain. I went to the local saloon/dinner theatre/art gallery/restaurant/package store (to buy some art, of course) and talked with the only other person there, who happened to be the owner/manager/artist/bartender at the time. We struck up a conversation and she commented that her usual bartendress had quit while the owner was on vacation. I asked her if she had filled the position yet, as I have always wanted to be a bartender for the experience of it. The conversation that follows is the harrowing story that followed.

Owner: "Do you have any experience?"

RetiredJK: "I've been in several bars. I once watched a bartender work for an hour. I dated a waitress for a couple weeks."

Owner: "Then what kind of qualifications do you have for the job?"

RetiredJK: "Ummm, I can add things in my head really quickly. And I have a doctorate, so I should be able to learn how to bartend."

Owner: "Well, you're pretty much just serving up people's medications in a bar. "

I had never thought of it that way. She asked for my "information" and walked away. I wondered, does she want high school GPA? References? Green Card? I looked at the chef, who was standing next to me, and asked he thought. "I think she means your name, phone number, and address." Relieved, I crossed out my MCAT score and list of scientific publications and simplified things down to the bare essentials. I had crushed the competition. The job was mine.

Sneak Preview of Next Week: YouTube video of JK wrestling a live pig. (This is totally serious.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dippin' Dots: Ice Cream of the Present? Another Rodeo, and Fishing

Dippin' Dots. For the uninitiated, the website advertises these small, flavor-packed cryogenically frozen ice cream balls are sold in "thousands" of malls and at amusement parks around the country. Their motto is "Dippin' Dots: Ice Cream of the Future." They are celebratin' their twenty-first year of distributing these all-too-tasty treats around the world. But, for me, this has long meant that Dippin' Dots are an idea whose time has come. Thus, I propose a new motto: "Dippin' Dots: Ice Cream of the Present?" (The question mark is there on purpose, it is not a mark of my ineptitude with computers.)

For instance, look at those children in picture #1, on the left. They are clearly Dippin' Dot nymphomaniacs, unable to stop eating Dippin' Dots for long enough to huff the liquid nitrogen in which the ice cream is frozen. And look at their heads: suspiciously malformed, likely the result of Dippin' Dot dependence. Worse yet is fetal Dippin' Dot Syndrome; imagin' of the brains of affected children looks like this:

Yes, it's the dreaded brain freeze, congenital Dippin' Dot style. Look at the huge blue DD in the cerebellum!
I have pictures of both Elisha Cuthbert and Jason Alexander eatin' Dippin' Dots but I am so f'in' lazy I can't even post them. Also, my lawyer says there may be legal issues with postin' these pictures. So I'll tell you about other parts of the last couple days. Check back in five years for "Dippin' Dots: Ice Cream of Antiquity?"
I also went to another rodeo yesterday, friends. I am quite a rodeo aficionado now and plan to join the Peace Core with the intention of setting up rodeo as a recreational sport in locales as far-flung as Wasilla, Slovenia, Lesotho, and Spain (muerte al bullfighting, viva bullriding!) I am fully in the process of selecting a cowboy hat and boots to put on layaway, as the ones I wanted cost $200 and $300, respectively. The name of yesterday's rodeo was "The grandaddy of 'em all," aka Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. There was a French cowboy!
Also, I went fishing today for the first time in quite a while. I managed to catch my second through twelfth fish of all time (my first occured when I was a small child) and defeat my dad in our fishing contest which occurs every twenty years. I managed to free all eleven fish without any fatalities, wade in the lake without ruining my phone, and get a wikkid sunburn in my traditional T-shirt and socks pattern. Anyway, tonight is sing-along night at the local bar, so off I go on my bike!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Saturday Night at the Bingo Hall

Location: Turn of the Century Bingo Hall, near Aurora, Colorado. Stardate 109927773. After teleporting to a questionable suburb of the city Earthlings call Denver, we are greeted at the door by dozens of humans lighting small tobacco delivery devices called cigarettes and frantically inhaling them. They seem a diverse group, some in matching tees emblazoned with "Jesus Saves" on the back. Some tote small metal canisters to assist their breathing. Others carry electronic boxes; perhaps they are interstellar communication devices. In the top picture above, we see that a gently used Toyota Camry has decided to ram the front door of the Turn of the Century Bingo Hall.

As we enter the hall we encounter a furry creature made entirely of used pickle cards, and it is two feet deep and rapidly enlarging due to the elderly persons next to it, whose job is evidently purchasing losing pickle cards and throwing them on the pile. I am overwhelmed by the bright lighting and the empty feeling in my soul. We immediately turn around and leave, bound for the local tavern to obtain reinforcement in the form of Southern Belles (Peach Schnapps and Crown Royal).

Emboldened and ready to get our bingo on, we return to the bingo hall next door. A cursory explanation of the night's slate informs us that we buy "packs" which consist of 6 separate sheets each printed with six bingo squares. I shell out the $16 for two packs and spend my last $3 on pickles for good measure. The memorabilia I'm most excited for, the colored markers used to mark your bingo sheet, come in hundreds of different colors. Arvada's High School Band is the nonprofit group running tonight's bingo game, so there are high school children running around the bingo hall assisting the elderly and calling numbers.

The game stars almost immediately after we redeem our "free soda and medium popcorn" coupon, conveniently mailed to my bingo partner's house the day prior (coincidence? Surely not). Unfortunately, this bingo hall is alcohol-free and the woman at the snack bar refuses my request to spike it; luckily, the liquor store next door honors my wishes and my out-of-state ID. We quickly return to the bingo hall for game 1: H. The object of this game is to form an H with your bingo card; afterwards, the game continues until someone blacks out their bingo card. The game is uneventful until the caller misreads one ball, saying "I sixteen, sixteen under the I," when the actual ball is I twenty-six. The crowd erupts in dismay, yelling at the caller until she's near the verge of tears. One male even tells her she's "worthless," which I thought was going a little far.

The picture above is me playing bingo. As we both fail to win the $50 jackpot for the first round, we realize that the fifty is split four ways, really making the jackpot almost completely worthless after tax. I dip my marker in nacho cheese for good luck, making my marks green with an orange halo around them.

During the next two games, we realize the odds are against us. Several people have a half-dozen packs in front of them, and I learn that the interstellar communication devices are actually e-bingo, which means that the players just pay for their e-packs and the machine keeps track of all their bingo cards for the them. I assume there are three groups of people that pay for these: 1) the grizzled gamblers that are just in this for the money, not for the markers; 2) the grizzled smokers who simply can't sit inside for an entire game and instead sit outside smoking and watching their e-bingo; and 3) the feeble-minded who simply can't wrap their minds around what "B 3" means, or who lack the coordination to match the called number with the sheet in front of them. Most likely, there is a complex combination of these three conditions.

We leave a couple hours later penniless but with our dignity intact, despite having been taken for all our cash (actually, all my cash, as my playing partner operates on a debit-/credit-only basis) by a group of elderly women and high school band members. I take comfort in knowing that a young tuba player may march because of my contribution. Besides, I have a nacho-flavored green bingo marker to remember that wonderful night.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Smell of a Greyhound Bus in the Morning

I sat down in the seventh row, aisle side, so that I wouldn't be trapped in. I watched the folks saunter (or, in many cases, waddle) down the aisle and hoped I'd have a row to myself. I averted my gaze when a confused-looking man seemed to be eyeing my window seat; at only 210 pounds and dainty waist size of 34, I realized I was a prime target for a seat-mate. Furthermore, I had showered that morning, and my Irish Spring flavor was sure to attract potentials. What to do? I was fresh out of garlic cloves, and couldn't exit the bus to smoke a big cigar that might ward people off.

Maybe it's not so bad, I thought, and my canine-like sense of smell simply exaggerated the natural odors of people around me. But I realized the threat of chemical warfare was real when a mountain of a person in a Snuggie plopped down in the two (yes, both) seats in front of me and overwhelmed my defenses. This was the first time in my life I actually desired Axe brand spray deodorant, and not for myself, and not for stinky French people either.

The psychiatric patient continued toward me, slowing as he reached my row; I tried to look mean and show off my tattoos, but then I realized that a temporary cupid tattoo was more likely to attract a recently released, potentially loving inmate than ward off a scented bus rider. My mean look also didn't work very well, as I have the face of an angel.

He stopped and asked if the seat next to me was occupied, and I imagined pulling a Forrest Gump ("seat's taken!") for a second but realized the trauma Forrest went through. I decided to do a cursory inspection before assenting. I wafted some scent toward my nostrils and gave him a preliminary thumbs-up; as he turned around to place his backpack (it looked expensive, big bonus!) in the compartment, I saw that his hair had been cut recently. This was a double-edged sword; either he was a clean-cut dude, and my suspicions were unfounded; or he was recently released from prison, which would explain the oversized clothes and, moreover, the reason he was on the bus out of town in the first place.

I kept my ears clear and on the listen for any humorous material on the bus. It was plentiful, and could be an entire entry unto itself. Some of the highlights follow. They range from the culpable: "I know, I shouldn't have been outside the window in the first place" to the annoyed: "For the third time, I told you, I got laid off!" to the downright honest: "I hitchhiked here from San Antonio last night" to the embarassing: "The song I really like to sing karaoke to is Tiny Dancer by Elton John" (I may or may not have been the speaker on that one) to the insightful: "Next time, I'm won't transport any packages I didn't pack myself!"

Lessons learned: when I take the Greyhound to Denver tomorrow, I pledge to:
A: Not shower beforehand. For three days.
2: Sit in the middle of the seat and puff out my cheeks to make myself look bigger.
C) Put the temporary tattoo on my face, a la Mike Tyson.
D: Bring a whoopee cushion and load up on beans in the days prior to my journey.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Night on the Town!

A wild night in Centennial, Wyoming, usually consists of shooting firearms out of a moving vehicle, ATV, or snowmobile if it's past September. But this Tuesday, the Costello family took to the town hell-bent on having a great time without poaching animals. As you can see on the left, the town is fairly small. The picture is from 1979, but looks very similar to Centennial today. There is gas, diesel, basic foodstuffs, lots of fishing tackle, two stores with "Western" memorobilia (mostly fake guns and homemade candles), a post office, three hotels, three bars, and two fake cop cars that sit empty to scare speeders. The sign on the right is real, but an informal census by a local hippie census-taker revealed around sixty full-time residents. One hundred was during a platinum boom which has since faded.
We started at the Beartree Restaurant and Tavern, which on Tuesday nights has some of the better chicken fried steak I've tasted outside a middle school cafeteria. You best call ahead, though, because there are only twenty-five available each week, and they sell out around six most of the time. It's also one of the biggest social events in town. After introductions to five different people, we sat down and had quite a meal. I did have to stand up and approach the bar in order to obtain a second beer. Zagat rating: 19, Michelin rating: half star.
After dinner, my sister Christy and I scored enough cash from Moms to pay for most of our drinks throughout the night: $11. Big! I did think it a little strange that the $11 consisted of a five, two twos, and two ones. We proceeded to the somewhat dilapidated Trading Post to continue our night out. The limo was late, so we walked across the street. Notice: if you're looking for a one-speed bicycle, this place has everything you're looking for. There are twenty gently use fixies parked out front, unlocked. Seeing that vandals have broken into the local one-room school and the post office, it's a wonder that these bad boys are still there.
At the Trading Post, we doubled the number of patrons. The bartendress was a bit chilly at first, but warmed up to us when she learned I was a doctor; the chiliness returned when I informed her I recently retired. We chatted up some locals and heard some jokes, none of them racist (score two for the locals, although someone did think I was an Arab due to my dark tan and flowing beard) but most of them pertaining to bestiality (score three for the locals). We earned a tee time at the local seven-hole golf course, complete with coffee can holes and deer on the greens. We downed a pitcher, we played a game of pool in which the white ball went in eight times, and I donned a hockey helmet resting on a peg in the corner, thank you lost and found.
After the Trading Post closed at ten (?), we stopped off at the hippie's house (the former town flea market, Valley's End) for a beer. We then headed across the street to our third and final bar; on the way, I had a particularly surreal and touching moment looking at the stars with the hippie. The Milky Way was clearly visible, and I created some metaphor for retirement and the stars and the galaxies far off. The long and short of it was, retirement is great, and Wyoming is a great starry place to spend it.
But enough starry-eyed talk; the Friendly Store beckoned. The place really lives up to the name, as over the years it has morphed from general store to general store/hotel/greasy spoon/bar without missing a beat. At this particular destination, we only increased occupancy by fifty percent. We commandeered the jukebox and played quite a bit of Fleetwood Mac, which is agreeable to everyone in Centennial. My sister danced with an elderly man who repeatedly told us that he was the newcomer and town and had never played pool, and after awhile I believed neither statement. One-Eyed Jack entered (I later found that he was nearly the victim of Centennial's only drive-by shooting) and left quickly; fortunately for him, the legal alcohol limit was waived by the sheriff in absentia!
Perhaps the most peculiar thing there, though, was the bartender's electronic cigarette; evidently, you provide it with cartridges of nicotine, inhale hard, and it provides you with the nicotine you so desperately crave! It sounded an awful lot like a cigarette to me; he said it's meant to wean people off cigarettes, but he smoked three in the hour that we were there, so I have a hunch it was simply a way for him to augment his nicotine intake. We ended the night watching a tribute to Nat King Cole, bless his soul, on mute.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Errata and reminders

Errata (that is, things my editors have ordered me to correct):
#1-- in the original post I stated that there were tapes from LeeAnn Womack, Tanya Tucker, and Faith Hill. The truth is, the tapes are by LeeAnnWomack, Tammy Wynette, and Faith Hill. Even the best of us mix the two up sometimes.
#2-- In the rodeo post, I stated that no one rode the bull for the requisite seven seconds. It was pointed out that the buzzer actually sounds after eight seconds. The reason for this mistake was that I mistook the name of a Luke Perry movie (8 Seconds) for the length of the star's career (seven seconds).

Also, I added an earlier, edited post, and it only shows up between the Day 3 post and rodeo post. Please check it out, as I am considering adding a funny patient encounters list.

And, if you haven't seen it yet, check out David After Dentist on YouTube, it is one of the funniest videos I have seen not on America's Funniest Videos.

Day 5: An Intruder in the Dust, and a Moose

This Sunday was indeed a hallmark day for me. Indeed, I lost my virginity with not one but two new weapons. First, I awoke at 1 PM to find my dad using a chainsaw in the backyard; like a moth to a flame, I ran outside and demanded to use it in my flip-flops. We build a small bridge, one of the three things I have constructed in my life. Then I proceeded to quote Scarface and pretended to chop up Tony Montana's friend in the tub. Whoever thought of diverting a chainsaw from its original use (decapitation) to such a boring, mundane job as chopping wood was really a spoilsport.

The second big event of the day occurred around bedtime. I was laying in bed, doing Sudoku as usual and reading Guns, Germs, and Steel, which I personally think should be renamed Guns, Germans, and Steel. My dad barged into the camper and told me that a madman had assaulted someone in our subdivision. He was, alledgedly, on the loose with a firearm. We both decided it would be safer in the cabin. So I brought my books, phone, and stuffed penguin in from the camper to find both parents brandishing handguns. As with the chainsaw, I demanded that I be armed immediately; when my mom balked, I wrestled the pistol away from her.

"JK, do you know how to use that?" my Dad asked.

"Yeah, I've seen Menace to Society a dozen times. You point it at someone, turn it sideways, and pull the trigger." I mimicked every gangsta movie I've ever seen, pushing it forward with each pantomime shot as if the bullet gained more power from my arm motion.

"Actually, you take it out of the holster first, then you turn off the safety."

"I thought we could just skip the basics."

In reality, I don't think I've ever fired a handgun in my life, mostly due to my incredibly suburban/urban upbringing. Also, a desire to stay as far away from guns as possible contributed to my handgun virginity. But I needed to learn, and fast; a madman was on the loose.

Little did he know that he had chosen the worst subdivision outside of Texas to be a felon on the loose. Most estimates put the gun: human ratio around 4:1, and at ten PM yesterday, every one of those was loaded and aimed out a window waiting for this abusive, bipolar moron to show his face.

I did sleep with the gun under my pillow, not because I needed to do so, but because I wanted that life experience that can only come from sleeping with a gun under your pillow. It turned out this morning that the suspect had escaped to Cheyenne, where he was captured without incident.

But more excitement followed this morning, when I went on a hike with my parents and another couple. For the most part, the hike was gorgeous and uneventful. However, about a mile before the conclusion, I heard a rustling ahead. I stepped off the trail, thinking there was a group of mountain bikers ahead; instead, the biggest moose I have ever seen crashed across the trail. I pointed it out to the four hikers following me, and they managed to glimpse it. All agreed it was ginormous. Here is a picture (not of the moose I saw, but of a generic Shiras moose):

Please see the top of the page, I can't figure out how to move the moose picture.

Apologies again, as I am still learning to use the "digital" camera and upload those pictures. Indentation also still eludes me. But I am terrific at using semicolons.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day 4: Laramie Jubilee Days Beerfest

Actually, the first big thing that happened Saturday was the North Fork Men's Breakfast, which is a once a month occasion during which the men (mostly retired) get together for their Saturday morning meal. Due to my newfound status as a quasi-journalist, I was priveliged enough to snag an invite to this fine civic organization's event. I don't think my dad's status as member and former Homeowner's Association president influenced the invite in any way.
We ate biscuits and gravy, egg bake, fruit and lemon cake. I threw $3 in the hat because that's all I had. But mostly, we discussed how many times during the night we each get up to go to the bathroom. I won with an average of one, zero if I haven't been drinking. The high was six; I suggested nightly bladder catheterization to save time, hassle, and toilet water.
Again at this breakfast I realized my wardrobe is sorely lacking in Wrangler brand jeans and cowboy boots; I may have to invest in these next time I stop at Wal-Mart in Laramie.
After some serious crossword puzzling and Suduko solving, it was time for lunch; I skipped it so I could get better bang for my buck at Beerfest. I considered giving blood as well, but declined due to the altitude (kids, don't try these money-saving tips at home). My chaffeurs pulled up to the camper and whisked me away in their sporty Ford Taurus. I arrived at the park fashionably late and played catch-up for awhile, avoiding all beers lighter than dark brown and thinner than honey consistency. I circled the twenty that I wanted to sample most and set about a three-hour session of calisthenics for my liver.
The day wound on, and eventually I was able to make some conversation. I also made the decision that I will become a writer, a decision I think most unemployed people share after their third or fourth drink. I texted a bunch of friends and listened to the band. They requested impromptu lyrics for a well-known Southern folk song, but I couldn't think of anything family-friendly enough to submit. I convinced an EMT that medical school and residency are not nearly as sexy as they seem on TV. Then it hit me: my calling is to talk people out of going to medical school based on what they see on TV. I'll be an unmotivational speaker. It couldn't possibly pay worse than residency.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Day 3: Laramie Jubilee Days Rodeo

I had the opportunity yesterday to attend the 69th (yes, everyone giggle) annual Laramie Jubilee Days Rodeo. It was preceded by a farmer's market, carnival, and meth bust. On a side note, I am always quite amazed at carnivals... the kids have so much fun, the adults seem like they just want to get away and have a few drinks, and the carnies seem like they want to jump off the highest ride as soon as possible. Perhaps being around kids having fun every day makes them anhedonic (read: unable to have fun) via constant stimulation of the happiness pathway in their brain... but more likely it's their frequent use of mind-altering drugs.
After a quick stop at Corona Village for some feeble attempts at Spanish, three pounds of queso in several semisolid forms, and a couple of the restaurant's namesake beverages, we proceeded to the Albany County Fairgrounds for the aforementioned rodeo. I quickly realized that my attire gave me away as an outsider. My jeans, first of all, were far too loose. The faded black also clashed with everyone else's bright blue jeans (evidently, chemical washes are NOT the rage amongst the cowboy crowd). People looked at the "Seven for All Mankind" label as if they'd never seen designer jeans before! I made a mental note to sew a "Wrangler" patch over my Diesel label.
Further betraying my alien status were my multi-colored Polo belt (without a buckle, nonetheless!) and gray T-shirt. The shirt came close to acceptable, except it lacked the requisite two or more guns pictured on it. One of my favorite shirt messages of the night, and there were many:

Lovely. Another favorite:

Those are some guilty-looking animals. I almost got a picture with the guy wearing this, but I thought better of it lest he think I was ridiculing him.
But enough about the spectators; the rodeo calls. First, concessions. Besides your standard concession fare of chili dogs, 64-oz. sodas, funnel cakes, and Super Ropes, there was a family selling blinky glow lights (evidently the Laramie Jubilee Days E-Rave was called off this year) They sold everything from blinking bull horns to blinking grillz to blinky-glow mini-lariats. For those of you unfamiliar with my obsession with glowing and blinking objects, this was quite a find for me. I dropped $49.73 on a pair of horns, a blinky light saber, and a glow-in-the-dark grill which I have worn out by wearing it and dancing in the dark in front of a mirror all night. They also had deep fried Snickers bars and Sham-wows.
The first event at this rodeo was the "mutton busters". This cruel event pits three to six year old children against a fairly aggressive sheep; the idea is that they mimic a bull rider and hold onto the sheep's neck for dear life. This kid is "bucking" the trend and riding the damn sheep like a bull: What a badass! Most kids wear a hockey helmet and cling to the sheep for a few milliseconds before falling on their noggin. Observe the sheer terror on this kid's soon-to-be sullied face:
This was perhaps the most exciting part of the night, especially when a small child got bucked into the tire of a promotional Dodge Ram.
The second part of the rodeo is the introduction, and if you've never been to a rodeo, this is more than a mere formality and Star Spangled Banner. Included are songs about America, moments of silence, more than several invocations of Jesus (they saved the Jewish and Islamic prayers for later, evidently), and tributes to each branch of the Armed Forces. As much as I love America, the intro lasted longer than barrel racing and tie-down roping (formerly calf roping but renamed due to political correctness) combined.
After that, they proceeded with the rodeo. Bareback bronco riding was followed by steer wrestling, tie-down roping, saddle bronc riding, team roping (very exciting), barrel racing (the only event for females), and finally bull riding, although no one managed to stay on the bulls for the requisite seven seconds. I ended my night with a chocolate-marshmallow milkshake and a ride through Laramie with the parents, followed by some stargazing and National Geographic reading. Tune in next time as the experts weigh in on current events. Methamphetamine and Rodeo Clowns: A Chicken or Egg Debate?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Interesting Patient Interviews, Volume 1: A 53 year-old schizophrenic male present to the emergency department...

Patient: "I'm hearing voices."

MD: "How long have you been hearing these voices?"

Him: "Since I stopped taking my medications."

Me: "Why did you stop taking your medications?"

Him: "The voices told me to."

Me: "Sir, do you use drugs?"

Him: "Yes."

Me: "Great."

Him: "Do you know Michael Landon?"

Me: "You mean.... the guy from Touched by an Angel?"

Short Indian Female Doctor: "Sir, why are your lips burned so badly?"

Him: "You must be really bad at basketball."

SIFMD: "... I am."

Him: "I'll bet he's really good."

Me: "You think you could take me?"

SIFMD: "Sir do you use crack?"

Him: "Crack... is whack."

Me: "My pager just went off, I have to call someone back... and it could be a really long call."

Him: "I want to talk to my Michael Landon."

Retired at 28, Day 3

This episode shall serve as a further introduction to me. I'll leave out the first 27 years, as the details of my life are quite inconsequential. In summary, I am a tall, overeducated, happily unemployed, currently heterosexual male from a military suburb of Omaha. I currently have a pretty sweet beard/mustache combo which will at some point become an even sweeter solo handlebar mustache.
As stated in my prior blog, I moved to Wyoming three days ago from San Francisco with a short hiatus in Denver visiting old friends and making new ones. I am, as the title suggests, a retired physician. I am happy to say I have returned to some of the activities which formerly gave me satisfaction. Namely, I am eating at regular intervals, talking to members of the opposite sex, sleeping ten hours a day, being nice to people, making my own meals, exercising, and reading alot. Residency precludes alot of these things, and doesn't pay well enough for others. The advent of a foosball table did add a small amount of happiness to the end of residency.
As for my future plans, I have very few right now. I plan on taking my licensing exam to make a little money as a moonlighting physician. I am also applying to public health school, as I always thought I might be interested in caring for larger populations. But really, there are a few other options: male model, inventor, voice work, techno DJ, beekeeper, advice columnist, Buddhist monk, professional basketball player, and chef. Some of these are just horrendous ideas, but others sound pretty good. I have not entirely ruled out organized crime, as many people think I am Italian.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Into the Wild: Day 2

Hello, let me introduce myself. I am a twenty-eight year-old physician who recently retired after deciding that internal medicine is not for me. I moved in with my parents yesterday; we live in a small cabin thirty miles outside of Laramie, Wyoming. It is two miles to the nearest town (Centennial, population one hundred) which boasts a 33.333333:1 person:bar ratio and some of the finest rural postcards you have ever seen. I didn't know how to get the bar over the 3's in the last sentence, as it is my first time blogging. This is one of the skills I hope to acquire over the next few months.
Allow me to show you my humble abode. Please use your imagination as digital photography and the uploading thereof the the World Wide Web is another pending skill. My parents live in this beautiful 600 square foot cabin on a heavily wooded, riverfront lot. We have a pond stocked with fish and some type of algae film on the top. In the springtime, moose and bears are plentiful in our front yard.
I currently reside in this beautiful Companion brand camper in our back yard. My parents borrowed it from a neighbor for me to stay in, as they evidently believe I'm too old to be living with them again. My camper is nice; it has a bed, a living room/dining room/kitchen, and a nonfunctional bathroom. The ceilings were clearly built for me; at 6'6'', they are exactly my height. The camper is outfitted with a Japanese-made tape player replete with misspelled words. It was made before they figured out how to change sides automatically, forcing me to stand up, bend my head over so as not to hit the ceiling, and remove and replace the tape.
When I moved in to the camper, I hit the jackpot. Not expecting any decent, functional tapes to be around the camper, I was surprised to find not only LeeAnn Womack and Faith Hill, but also an old Tanya Tucker cassette. Wait a second... behind the tape player I also found a single of Coolio's timeless classic Gangsta's Paradise. This brought back some memories: Michelle Pfeiffer, "what the heck is karate?" and music before high school football games my freshman year. I popped in the tape, remembered that I had to rewind it, and gave it three listens in a row, listening to the B Side (Gangsta's Paradise: The Instrumental Version) between each take. Unfortunately, I am so out of shape, and the altitude is so high, I had to stop my enthusiastic singing before the chorus each time and place my head between my knees to keep from blacking out. I hope this will improve with time.