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Another pundit bites the dust. Jeffrey Lord, a Mr T defender on many CNN shows, has had his contract with the network terminated. I would usually turn the channel whenever his smugly leering mug appeared because he always seemed to me insincere. Nothing worse than a reluctant ideologue. And guess what he said – in a Twitter tirade no less – to Angelo Carusone, the President of Media Matters for America?

“Sieg Heil!” 

“Nazi salutes are indefensible,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement. “Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network.” https://www.washingtonpost.com

This particular German phrase is banned in Germany. You can’t put air quotes around these two words and pretend you don’t know what they mean. In English the phrase means “Hail Victory;” in reality, it goes along with the Holocaust and an arm in the air and black shirts.

Kayleigh McEnany, another Mr T media consultant left CNN recently. She is now the RNC’s spokesperson, working for Mr T’s very own network. You can’t make this stuff up, in fact I wish I was making it all up.

Let’s skip over to Google shall we. James Damore, an engineer wrote some of his thoughts in a company memo on the reason we see nearly 75% more men in the tech industry and in leadership positions, and then he got sacked. His words of choice were “Biological Differences,”  which seems pretty tame on the surface. After all, we women are the ones giving birth and nursing if we so choose. That can sometimes put a dent in a woman’s career.

But we are not back in the 60s when women could be asked if they planned on having children in a job interview. On a deeper level, Damore was implying we’re not FIT for such complicated, intellectually stimulating and challenging work. Remember, initially we didn’t have women astronauts because of that little “time of the month” problem. No, it’s actually 2017 and young girls are encouraged to pursue Stem careers (science, technology, engineering and maths) – just ask my niece Lynn!

But I have to admit that censorship of any kind scares me. In fact, the ACLU is taking up the case of Milo Yiannopoulos’s free speech rights. He is that ex-Brietbart editor who was drummed out of speaking at a California campus, a British citizen who is ‘dedicated to the destruction of political correctness,’ an alt-right agitator extraordinaire. The Washington, DC Metro removed Yiannopoulos’s ads on their trains for his new book…now a train system is a utility and I guess they don’t have the right to discriminate. Right?

And believe it or not, I’m glad the ACLU is doing what it’s supposed to be doing – protecting our rights! When “Hate Speech” collides with “Free Speech” we have a fundamental question that speaks directly to our democracy and may end up at the feet of the Supreme Court. This is an essential thing that differentiates us among many nations, we don’t ban words or burn books, our only admonition is not to yell “Fire” in a big, crowded public room.

Yesterday I spent much of my time pointing out to a certain two year old, who loves his new Superman cape, we need to use our “inside voices.” We teach our children about tone and decibel levels effortlessly, we want them to grow up in a civilized world. Unfortunately, we have a President who needs someone to manage his Twitter speech, to explain to him it’s like yelling “FIRE” at North Korea, in an “OUTSIDE” voice.

This was my view yesterday morning on my way to the Zoo. Nashville has sent out the Bat Signal because we need a hero!

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You’ve all seen them while running through an airport. The giant ads – no, not the picture of the Parlor Mob at JFK – pictures of doctors in white coats, smiling in front of computers. Why wait for hours at your local Emergency Department? Can’t get an appointment with your actual doctor for months? Maybe you’re too sick to drive, and just too busy to take an Uber to an Urgent Care?

Well, the Virtual Doctor is in!

The first time I saw my very own Dr McDreamy at UVA I was slightly disappointed. Like many women, I had never had a primary internal medicine doctor before…ObGyns sure, and specialists to repair meniscus tears etc. Whenever something was seriously wrong, I always had Bob to remind me this was just a virus and it would get better with time. But a real doctor, this was something new to me.

Let’s go over the best parts first: the waiting room was almost empty; he was on time; his nurse was efficient, I was blessed with some very good genes so my medication list is mostly vitamins; his resident asked all the right questions; and finally, when I saw the doctor, he sat and talked with me for a very long time. I was in love!

And now for the not so good parts: I had to drive 40 minutes to park in a gigantic cement parking garage I would later get lost in; the walk to his office was well over a mile; and the worst part of all, he never actually touched me. I never got undressed and jumped onto an exam table clinging to a paper robe. No physical exam…I left his office with appointments for tests like blood work and a mammogram.

Let’s skip ahead to that week between my fall off the steps in Nashville, and our trip to the South of France. I called my Primary Care doctor and he was away and they couldn’t fit me in. I called my Orthopedist and his office said since I didn’t break any bones, he doesn’t do muscles! I didn’t bother trying to see my Dermatologist. I wondered aloud, is this what it’s like for everybody? When you finally really really need to see a doctor, like you can barely walk and you’re about to get on a plane, they are nowhere to be found?

Well folks, I think Bob may have found his retirement second act. Emergency docs have to know a little bit about every disease and a whole lot about the ones that will kill you. And isn’t that what we all want to hear? You don’t have a terminal illness. It’s just a cold, get over it! Well, maybe they will say it with a bit more finesse, into their monitor.

Dr Ali Parsa, founder and chief executive of digital healthcare app Babylon, sees the (remote physical and mental) health trend as an undoubted force for good.
“It’s time to do with healthcare what Google did with information – using the power of technology to democratise access for all, and put a personal (digital) doctor in everyone’s pocket regardless of geography or income,” he says. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40629742

Bob’s been doing this for years already with our relatives and friends. People send him pictures of rashes, x-rays of broken bones, brain CAT scans. He’s functioned as our collective consultant at seders and dinner parties. “My foot’s just not getting better.” Or, “Will you just take a look at all the drugs I’m taking?”

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want an App or a Bot to speak to about my medical condition, but having a real, live physician on FaceTime or Skype? Sure! And the doctor or the patient could be in Katmandu, so long as the WiFi is working – this takes boutique medicine to the next level.

Lots of hospitals do this already. Did you know in most rural parts of the country, smaller community hospitals have critical care ICU docs checking in via monitors from their big city university hospital? At night, radiologists in other countries read X-Rays that are sent  digitally from the US. This has been going on for years.

I’m feeling hopeful today after the Senate saw fit to drop their misguided bill to “fix” the ACA and throw millions off Medicaid. The sheer irony of Sen McCain delaying the vote because he was busy having a surgical procedure his insurance covers illustrated their sinister deliberations. http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/18/politics/how-the-republican-health-care-bill-fell-apart/index.html

I hate that we politicize health care in this country. Until we see fit to have Medicare for all, maybe technology will help restore access and autonomy to the doctor/patient relationship. And at the very least, we would know if we need to go sit in an ER because our neck is tender and we must rule out meningitis. The doctor is on deck!IMG_0846

 

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I’m feeling like a two year old. It’s a rainy, cold morning in the mountains and I just cranked up my Twitter account to read about some middle-of-the-night GOP shenanigans. It would seem that Congress has voted to dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics! So somebody please sit me on your lap, get me a blankie, and read me Rebecca Patterson’s book, “My No, No,NO Day.”

Won’t somebody make it stop?!

After nine days in Nashville without cable news of any kind, I was almost looking forward to watching some CNN. Y’all know I’m a news junkie, an ex-reporter and school board policy wonk with a taste for irony. When West Nile began swelling my brain until my eyes turned beet red, I didn’t go to a doctor until I couldn’t read that new-fangled news crawl. But I’ve been quickly disabused of this notion – it would seem that media coverage today consists of deconstructing Mr T’s Tweets.

And I refuse to follow him on Twitter. NO.

SO, since throwing a temper tantrum isn’t an option, today we here in MountainMornings Land will be observing Opposite Day! I am in opposition to this whole damn Electoral College business (this is true) and Mr T is NOT my President-Elect! Get it?

Today I will dress up funny, I will say the opposite of what I mean to say, and probably mumble. A Lot. Kids love doing this in Middle School; they learn about antonyms and might play a game of Opposite BINGO in their classroom. When the Rocker was very little, we were playing a board game with a group of adults, the one where you can’t actually say the word in order to get your team to guess your word and win…his word was “Negative.”

“The opposite of affirmative.”

That’s what he said, and we all looked at each other. This response has been etched into our family’s history.

In some ways, I feel as if our country is living in a perpetual state of Opposite Day. Since journalists are now trying to parse what, how and when to use the word “LIE,” and translating Tweets has become a common practice. It’s only because I have Twitter on my phone that I read about Mr T’s New Year message to his “enemies.” Tasting like a bad clam, I wish I hadn’t.

Nancy Pelosi said, “Ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”

Elizabeth Warren said, “Tell us, @GOP: Who, exactly, thinks that the problem with Washington is that we have too many rules requiring the gov to act ethically?”

And I say, shall I list the antonyms of ETHICS? Corrupt, Dishonest, Immoral, Improper, Unjust, Unrighteous….

Some friends and family have stopped watching the news on TV altogether. But being an ostrich about current events isn’t the answer. In fact, this beautiful, tall bird has gotten a bum rap all these years. They actually DON’T stick their heads into the sand! http://mentalfloss.com/article/56176/why-do-ostriches-stick-their-heads-sand

So let’s suspend all our belief systems for the day, or maybe the week, or even this New Year. My cookie broke and ballet is too itchy and… Put on your big girl boots and get ready to March on Washington ladies on January 21.

 

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Fog Happens. That was the bumper sticker I loved on Martha’s Vineyard. To this day I have remained a bumper-sticker-free driver, although I do appreciate a good joke on a taxi. There is one company in town that adorns its taxis with snippets of wisdom, like this one: “Only dead fish go with the flow.” And you know that silver fish you sometimes see on a car that means the driver is a Christian? Well a friend gave me that fish with the word “Gefilte” inside; it stands above my desk keeping guard. My car shall remain fish-free!

This morning it’s hard to see your fingers in front of your face. Birds are grounded and the red tail hawks are not circling the backyard looking for vermin. I wonder if planes will be grounded too, and that has me worried since we are supposed to fly out of here today for our 37th Wedding Anniversary river cruise up the Danube. Fingers crossed the fog lifts and s&*t doesn’t happen!

For a person who doesn’t like to travel, I seem to be doing a lot of it. We are supposed to have WiFi on the boat so hopefully I will continue to blog.

I will be happy to take a hiatus from CNN. The fog of war continues as our brave armed forces “assist” the Iraqi forces in taking back Falluja. Trump continues to spout nonsense to Bikers in DC, many were Vets yesterday showing respect for the fallen as they cruised the monuments.

And don’t get me started on the gorilla and the toddler. Bob says they could have tranquilized the big guy, but I said he may have collapsed on the baby…we met a large animal Vet the other day at Starbucks. Pat is married to our small animal Vet. He tends to cows and horses all over the Shenandoah Valley and he told us they are “Wild” animals and cannot be trusted. That made me feel better, sort of. Still I turn away from the video. So, as much as I’d like to be all Dame Jane Goodall about gorillas, I’m sure the zoo did the right thing. Right?

Time for another cup of coffee, to clear my foggy brain, and make sense of the final packing checklist. To edit out the useless, and stick with the essentials. We always pack light, one carry-on each for any trip, of any length, anywhere. Bon Voyage!  IMG_4484

 

 

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Allow me to get on my feminist bandwagon for a minute. Over morning coffee I watched CNN’s Carol Costello interview Mindy Finn, the founder of “Empowered Women,” a right wing lobbyist group trying to co-opt the word “feminist” to include “center-right” women. She was very convincing, until she started saying that the original movement was more about reproductive rights, when today’s GOP women are all about pay equality, and of course getting elected to public office. OK. Just saying that TN women will now have to wait 48 hours before obtaining an abortion, and that’s not because their doctors thought it might be a good idea.

Eroding our rights is a time-honored tradition for the Republican party. How about all those little bills popping up in Southern states involving TRAP law? Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers was just one small slice of the GOP strategy to impose their right-wing, religious agenda on a woman’s right to choose what is best for her life. If they can make clinics close due to regulatory folderol, or increase our wait time, or include unnecessary vaginal ultrasound probes into our bodies, well all the better! Please, explain to me again Ms Finn how women need to join the Republican party. Sure, if you think an old white guy from Alabama has your best interest at heart, go right ahead.

“What do today’s female presidential candidates think about feminism?” This was Carol Costello’s question on Twitter. Really? I almost snorted up my coffee!

Then I read this: https://medium.com/human-parts/how-to-date-a-feminist-4e0fdf48d364 by a young feminist.

You date a feminist the same way you date anyone; you treat them with respect and try to impress the crap out of them. As long as you support equal rights, you got a shot…You hold the door for us and we will most certainly appreciate it. We hold the door for you and hope you’ll say thanks. It’s a door people, no big deal.

It’s a good read. And in case you thought the Republican agenda was just about closing doors on women’s reproductive rights, let’s talk immigration. Remember when President Obama announced a unilateral federal action back in November to reform immigration? We were supposed to give nearly 5 Million undocumented workers a path to citizenship in order to free them from the fear of deportation. And guess who has blocked this by imposing a hold on the executive action? Ding ding ding!

You’re right, 26 states of the mostly Southern persuasion. So this action would include women and children, because it specifically targets illegals who came here as children, and those with children born in this country, so called “anchor babies.” We can let this population grow to fight in our wars, but not make them citizens? The DOJ argues that our immigration system is broken and the federal government needs to fix it. But these Republican states beg to differ. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32893810

I wish I could step through a time travel door, and see what side of the argument history looks back on, which party wins. With Ireland passing their own marriage equality law this week, my ancestral homeland and the first democratic country to do so, I think we may have a clue. Very proud Ireland!

Dublin Doors

Dublin Doors 

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“That’s it!” I said to Bob this morning while watching the Breaking News Conference out of Dallas on CNN. This could be your real retirement plan, become a disease detective!

We turned up the sound as Dr. David Lakey confirmed that the first case of Ebola contracted inside the US tested positive in their Austin lab, and that they didn’t want to give his/her name at this time. As reporters questioned Lakey, we learned it was a health care worker who took infectious disease precautions, and not someone who treated their patient from Liberia, Thomas Eric Duncan, at his first fateful trip to the ER – when he was sent home with antibiotics. Duncan has since died.

So now we have our first case here in the US, like Spain, a provider is sick with Ebola. And it wasn’t the janitor who cleaned up the ER room when they first thought Duncan had a cold; when the travel history the triage nurse obtained never made it back to the doctor.

Cue the Mystery Detective music. Our family and friends have always thought Bob was the medical oracle. When signs and symptoms just didn’t make sense, when people were getting the run around from doctors, they would tell Bob their story and the sky would clear. He could somehow always make sense out of a complicated medical scenario. He is our very own Dr House!

But of course I’d rather he do some medical school teaching, or even golfing, rather than run around the world trying to solve real-time medical mysteries. Even though the CDC is probably hiring right now. Here are the facts, and only the facts about Ebola: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

In my dystopian view of the crisis, I can see the GOP blaming this outbreak on Obamacare. I can see the National Guard putting up a fence around Dallas, and I can see some crazy militia taking up arms. As soon as the TX Health Resources guy told people of Dallas not to panic, while ambulances are currently being diverted from that Presbyterian Hospital, I just knew people were going to panic. But let’s get real.

“The Ebola epidemic has killed 3,431 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; it has killed one in the United States.” http://mic.com/articles/100618/one-powerful-illustration-shows-exactly-what-s-wrong-with-media-coverage-of-ebola

So if we can keep some sense of perspective about this whole business, we’ll be alright. If we remember that yet another child in Michigan has died from enterovirus D68, that this upper respiratory infection is something we really need to wash our hands about, we may not panic about Ebola. “Enterovirus is very common, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating 10 million to 15 million infections each year in the United States.” http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/11/health/michigan-enterovirus-68-death/

“…D68 is a particularly virulent strain of this respiratory virus. So far there have been 691 cases of enterovirus D68 in 46 states and the District of Columbia;” six patients who died had the virus strain. It mostly affects children with asthma, or compromised immune systems. And like Polio, there can we some paralysis associated with its symptoms. Enterovirus-D68--EV-D68-jpg-1

Oh, and remember to get your flu shot!

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Tonight on “60 Minutes” our VA Senator Creigh Deeds will address candidly, for the first time, the events that led to his son’s attack and subsequent suicide. He’ll talk about the plight of the mentally ill. Every month Bob, and I’m sure many other ER physicians in our state, must discharge one or more patients because their psych unit cannot access a psych bed in ANY VA hospital. But I wonder if he’ll address guns.

The following is an essay from a father, an anesthesiologist who trained with the Bride and Groom at UVA. A friend of my daughter’s. He was at the Maryland mall yesterday with his almost 2 year old daughter. I thought it was “funny” that I learned about the shooting incident via Twitter, and then went to CNN’s website to read many of their sources were Twitter. And then I moved on, because it is too heartbreaking to feel for EVERY SINGLE ONE of these senseless acts and because I’ve become cynical. After all, it seems nothing can change, no bills for background checks can get past the NRA…and yet, we turned our state a darker blue…so maybe, one state at a time? These are his words:

“I spent most of yesterday feeling scared and shaken up. When I heard the gun shots so close to me I had so much adrenalin pumping through my body that as I ran out of the play yard with Meenakshi I couldn’t even see properly and I grabbed our stroller on the way out with all Meenakshi’s food, diapers, etc and in the process spilled hot coffee all over my left leg. I didn’t even feel it. As I entered the store I was frantically running, trying to keep Meenakshi as concealed as possible, knocking over clothes as I pulled the stroller behind me and hurtled down the aisles. I started to crouch behind the checkout counter when two women who were employees of the store were screaming for me to come deeper into the back of the store. So I kept running. There was so much panic in their eyes that I thought for sure the shooter was behind me but I had to keep moving. Later I learned that the person who was shot in the foot was not more than 200 feet from where Meenakshi was playing. Once safely inside the store and after making contact with Radhai and assuring myself that she was out of the mall Meenakshi and I sat and waited with about 20 other people. Then a man came to the closed gate at the H&M entrance and started yelling. We couldn’t see him and he couldn’t see us. In hindsight I think he was a mall patron trying to get to safety, but I don’t know. There was a box of cups next to me and I ripped the cups out and stuffed Meenakshi into the box, thinking that if someone came in to start shooting at least she would be out of sight. Finally a swat team let us out. They had body armor, huge guns, and there were a lot of them. I looked around the mall as we were being escorted out and it looked like the apocalypse. There were abandoned strollers, food trays with half eaten meals, coats, spilled drinks, a random shoe here and there, children’s toys strewn about. There were armed officers at every corner. My hands were shaking. As I approached the mall exit I realized Meenakshi’s coat was somewhere buried under the stroller so I took of my coat and wrapped her in it while some kind soul held the door open for me and patiently waited for me to bundle her up. I met Radhai outside and we hugged for a long time and left.
We finally made it home safely. And after coming home and hugging my family and crying I felt confused, grateful, scared, but mostly shaken up. Today, I feel angry. I feel angry that some 19 year old boy wielded a weapon of such destruction so irresponsibly and made me and hundreds of other families feel so frightened that they might lose their children, spouses, or their own lives. I feel angry that a day of fun at the mall turned into a chaotic war zone with bullet riddled walls left behind as evidence. I feel angry that now when we go out I view it as a calculated risk that something like this might happen again because somebody is having a bad day and has easy access to a gun. Guns belong on the battle field, not in the mall.

This boy had an overwhelming amount of ammunition and home made bombs on him. The prospect of what might have happened is horrifying. I am most of all angry that in spite of all the events over the last decade that have happened in this country, nothing will change. Clearly it doesn’t matter whether adults or children are murdered, we still need to make sure that everyone can have a gun.”

The shootings, which also left five other people injured, ended a violent week which saw shootings or gun scares at American schools or shopping centers — ordinary places where people once felt safe.dition.cnn.com/2014/01/26/us/maryland-mall-shooting/

Schools, movie theaters where a dad is texting his babysitter, malls. So the question remains, are we willing to give up our freedom to congregate and walk freely in public for the narrow interpretation and political might of the gun lobby? What kind of freedom is that? Let’s get money out of politics, and the NRA out of our politician’s pockets.

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