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Tuesday July 6, 2004 - Traveling With Shelly

I'm off this morning to a high school class reunion in Brookings, South Dakota. I will drive through western Kansas on the return trip to visit long-lost relatives and childhood playfields. Due to my soul mate's work committments I'll be making the trip alone -- except for cousin Shelly with whom I just came into contact about a week ago. It has been almost fifty years since we last spoke, so we'll be catching up via email along the road.

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Saturday July 3, 2004 - Who Says K-Mart Sucks?

I'm there less than ten minutes, and find all sizes of jeans available and all apparently accurately marked. I select two pair, quickly try them on in the changing room, and am on my way before you can say "Route 66". Who says K-Mart sucks?

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the FoxPaw

Friday July 2, 2004 - Paw of the Fox

Configuration of the permanent Foxpaw server has taken on a life of its own the last few weeks, but it has finally been completed and all domains and domain email have been brought home. Welcome back,!

We're taking a well-deserved break for July 4th, and then we're off on vacation.

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Saturday June 19, 2004 - Definitely a Commie Plot

We get a late start to a nearby Factory 2 You. I'm still looking for some Jeans, and two days of analysis haven't provided any brighter solutions. It doesn't take us long to determine that we haven't solved our problem, either. Nothing in stock here, either, except 36" pants labeled 30". We entertain the idea of discussing the problem with the clerk, but think better of it.

It's definitely a Commie plot.

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Thursday June 17, 2004 - It's In The Genes

Out shopping for clothes, we stumble into Wal-Mart / Christown late this afternoon looking for a couple of pair of Jeans, size: 38" waist by 30" long.

That's interesting; all they have is 30" length. I mean 28" waist, 30" waist, right on up through 48" waist -- all of 30" length only. There are no other lengths in the store. No matter, that's what I want. I confidently pick out a couple of pair of 38 x 30's. Before stepping into the changing room I unfold one and drop the legs as I align the waist with my own. The legs hang against mine and drape across my shoes. But they don't stop there; they continue horizontally for a full six inches after reaching the floor.

What the. . . ? I re-adjust the pants against my waist but there is no change in the length.

"I don't get this," I comment to my wife.

She suggests they're probably marked wrong, takes the other pair from me and drops the legs to the floor. Both pair are the same length. We grab a few more off various shelves, but they're all the same -- all marked 30" length, but with legs over 36" in length.

I bring the problem to the attention of a couple of young clothing clerks, who suggest that I really can't tell the length without trying them on.

"Of course I can," I protest; "I may not be able to tell if they're within an inch of the length I want, but anybody can see that these pants are six to eight inches too long."

The young ladies aren't getting it. I give up on the discussion and take to the changing room almost in self-defense. I reappear in a few moments, pant-legs covering my shoes and trailing backward on the floor. The clerks aren't interested, but they dutifully interrupt their enthusiastic conversation anyway to take a look at the fit. To demonstrate the absurdity of the situation I pull the pants up over my navel and halfway to my armpits. One of the young ladies states the obvious.

"You need to select some shorter pants," she observes.

My wife's jaw drops. I don't see it, but I can hear it when it hits the floor.

"There aren't any shorter Jeans anywhere in this store," I counter.

That doesn't do the job, either. They both shrug, and that is that.

"You need to discuss this with the department manager," I continue.

The young ladies shrug in unison, a sure sign that the conversation is at an end. I put my selections back and we leave the store.

No matter, there is another Wal-Mart a few miles north. Fifteen minutes later we've cleared the front door and are headed for the menís clothing department; but alas -- their stock is the same. We should have known better.

We return to the car and head toward home.

"I think it's a late blooming Commie plot," I tell my wife, "left over from the cold war. There is no other explanation."

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Friday June 04, 2004 -  . . .Begs the Question?

In a statistical news bulletin, it was announced today that 443 Arizonans die each year of unintentional accidents in the home.  It makes you wonder -- how many die of intentional accidents?

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the FoxPaw

Thursday May 13, 2004 - Work On Foxpaw Server Continues

The Foxpaw server has been upgraded to a gigabyte of memory, 80 GB of disk space has been added, and DVD backup has been provided. NetBSD 1.6.2, the most portable and most secure UNIX-like operating system yet has been installed, and it is up and running as an internal server.

Work continues toward installation of a name server, Apache web server and Exim domain email. Once server configuration is completed, the Cortez Chronicles and all affiliated domains will be brought home to the Foxpaw server. ETA is still a couple of months off.

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Monday May 3, 2004 - What Was That Again?

With Phoenix gasoline prices reaching $2.139 and above, my soul mate starts her new job today -- on our side of town yet. According to business wisdom, convoluted hours produce happier employees and higher job efficiency, so naturally her weekend will be in the middle of the week. It's simple. Monday will come on Friday for us -- except next week, when Monday comes on Thursday, and this week when it comes on Sunday. And today, when Monday came on Monday. Or something. But Friday always comes on Monday. Except this week, when it comes on Friday. Whatever.

Now, if too much work is left over at the end of the week, she'll have to work a day of overtime -- before the week starts. Yeah, you've got it, on Sunday -- not yours, but hers.

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Monday April 12, 2004 - No Wuss. . .

NPR - A gentleman in Great Britain liquidated all of his assets, and alerting the news media today put his total worth, $135,000, down on a single spin of a roulette wheel. He was going to bet on black, but adoring fans shouted "red, red, red,. . ." He switched to red and moments later walked away with $270,000.

He's reported on holiday the remainder of the week. . .

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Thursday March 25, 2004 - Anguish

She was riding high.
The pregnancy was doing fine
Until the ultrasound --
There were two of them,
But one heart beat.

One fetus didn't make it, they said,
But the body knew best --
The other one wasn't in any danger.
That was a few weeks ago,
And she was riding high.

And then they left for a few days' vacation on the Mexican playa.

But when they returned the world had changed.
Her water had broken
And they had rushed to the hospital.
Mother and baby were in danger
So they induced labor,
And the baby was born
At four and one-half months.
A perfect nine-ounce baby boy
With all of its fingers and toes --
But it could not survive and they had to kill it.

She was riding low.
And they consoled her,
And they consoled her --
They held her hand
And clutched her tight,
But her anguish was a bottomless pit.

Her mother made the arrangements.
They drove clear to Mesa to pick up the casket --
A five by thirteen inch casket,
And when they dropped her off
She was riding low.

They ate supper with visitors,
And while they ate a great wail of anguish was released
That reached them in the car on the way home,
And they called 9-1-1
And turned south on the Canyon.

The paramedics beat them there --
A large fire truck,
Three police cars,
And an ambulance;
And she was down real low.

She was down real low --
On the floor,
Propped against the couch,
And there were wires connected to her,
And monitors and heart machines.

The oven was hot
But the pizza was sitting there in a pan
On top the stove,
Two lidless pepperoni eyes
Staring down on her
From the cold pan;
And the smoke alarm was wailing --
For her dead baby boy.

It was a bad reaction to the medication
And the cold medicine,
And the two drinks.
They followed the ambulance to Good Sam
And then to St. Joe;
And she lay there on the pallet
With an I.V. in her arm,
Attached by her umbilicus to the instruments,
And slept and sobbed and slept and sobbed,
While they ran tests and more;
And hours passed . . .

And when the doctor returned at 4:30 AM
She awoke and sat up.
"That was pretty stupid," he said,
"Having alcohol with cold medicine
And all of the usual prescriptions --
On an empty stomach."

"Yeah," she said,
And then she smiled for the first time in days.

And the next day they buried her dead baby boy, Melik Seth Hollins.

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Tuesday March 16, 2004 - Relief

Today is my soul mate's last day at work, driving 70 miles round-trip each day. The distance was killing us.

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Sunday March 7, 2004 - Emergency II

We arise around 9:30 am. The telephone rings before I reach the kitchen. Same scenario, only this time it might be caused by a bag of pre-cooked chicken purchased at a local food store -- heavy grease and gastronomic difficulties. Multiple telephone consultations with the patient and another family member. Ultimately, it is decided that my services will not be required today; but my heart goes out to the patient and the family member who will do it2. Phone calls throughout the day; blood tests, more X-rays and waiting. Diagnosis: nada. The patient is sent home at the end of the day with the usual smile and instructions to consume only clear liquids the first day, continue liquids the second day, and stay away from commercially prepared foods for the remainder of the week. And the doctor appointment is scheduled for Wednesday.

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Thursday March 4, 2004, 7:30 AM - The Emergency

There is an early morning phone call from across the Gridiron. The patient has been unable to keep food down for three days and the doctor is unavailable on short notice, as is customary.

"If you need immediate medical attention, please go to the emergency room," the recorded message states.

I have been nominated to make it happen, but the doctor must first be consulted once again. I arrive around 10:00 am with a bottle of futilely recommended Milk of Magnesia. Around 11:30 we leave for Boswell Memorial.

During registration the nurse asks, "On a scale of one to ten, how bad is the pain?"

"Eight," the patient answers.

After only two or three hours we're issued into the usual examination room, the one with our name on it. Hookup to the instruments is quickly accomplished, including all those chest connections -- like an EKG. An IV receptacle is set into the patient's wrist, but no IV is attached. We watch the screen: all readings are normal.

But things are picking up; the patient is sent for a series of X-rays after only an hour or so. Returning shortly, we wait again. Eventually, the nurse appears wielding a needle that looks as if it's designed to pump your stomach through the abdomen.

"I'm going to give you a shot of morphine for your pain," she announces.

The shot goes in, and within a few seconds the patient's face relaxes into a minor smirk. Shortly thereafter, the babbling starts. I make the appropriate attempts at communication, but it is hopeless; we're in two different worlds. Time passes, and after about an hour the squirming starts, wires and tubes thrust to and fro in the ritual of withdrawal. I stress several times that it would be appropriate to settle down and avoid yanking the wires any more than necessary, but it doesn't register.

After 45 minutes of struggling the patient begins to settle down, just in time for the nurse to reappear and offer the remainder of the morphine shot. No answer. The nurse asks again.

"There goes a big yellow thing," the patient responds.

The nurse tries one more time, carefully aligning her face with the patient's gaze.

"No pain," the patient replies. I have to agree.

The nurse disappears as quickly as she has come, then reappears about fifteen minutes later with a large bedpan and appropriate other paraphernalia designed to achieve the desired results. The diagnosis is obstipation. I exit post haste and head for the waiting room.

It's raining very hard. A security guard goes by outside the massive window holding an umbrella overhead that's appropriately decorated with cats and dogs. That's how hard it's raining. An orderly is trying to retrieve a wheelchair-bound patient from the smoking area, which has been considerately located halfway across the parking lot. At least it's under a narrow rain cover. He dashes out several times, gets less than a quarter of the way, then turns around and dashes back inside. After three attempts he gives up. He must be from Arizona -- no one else would be that concerned about a little rain. He's probably seen it only once or twice before in his life. Besides, the patient isn't exactly on her deathbed if she has the stamina to go that far for a smoke.

Another patient is hunched over in a wheelchair with her head almost between her legs. I take notice that she remains that way for over 20 minutes while her husband sits, back rigid, with his arm around her.

Eventually I find a chair near the windows and sit down, placing me face to face with another patient in a wheelchair that is fighting to stay awake. As her head slowly drops forward then bobs up again, I notice there is a large wet spot on the carpet beneath her. I get up, empathetically thinking I need to tell someone, but change my mind. I recognize most of the patients from way back when we first arrived. They seem to be on a first name basis with each other and with the attendants; the though occurs to me that this is more like a nursing home than an emergency room.

I squeeze through the security door behind an orderly and make my way back to the family examination room. The patient is still sitting on the portable device and there is a certain ambience about the room. Too soon.

Back in the waiting room I once again notice how nothing has changed since we arrived this morning. It's getting late. I idly stuff 70Ę into a vending machine and inhale the half-ounce of trail mix. After another twenty minutes I check on the patient again, who is sitting up in bed and feeling much better. The only thing left to remind me of the treatment is the overwhelming ambience.

More time goes by; but the nurse, and eventually even the doctor show up. The doctor, smiling confidently, advises the patient to make an appointment with the family doctor within a week, but to come again if anything gets worse. The patient dresses and we're home in no time at all, just in time to watch Dr. Phil at 7:00 pm.

It was a big day. We so enjoyed the emergency room1, and we hope to do it again real soon.

But I'm beginning to understand the family doctor.

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Wednesday March 3, 2004 - Oh, Well. . .

The commute continues . . . not very cost effective at 70 miles/day with regular gasoline up to $1.999/gallon. My soul mate reluctantly gives her two weeks' notice, effective March 17th.

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L. Fox



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1In my later years, though, I don't want to live anywhere near a hospital.

2In my later years I don't want to live anywhere near my children, either.



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