I Climbed Mount Everest
A lot of you have been exceedingly curious about my highly successful expedition to the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mount on Earth. Quit pestering me, dammit!
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single schlep.
–Me, paraphrasing Laozi
In the world of video games, there is a concept known as the voluntary challenge. It basically means, “I’m so bad ass I can win this thing while restricting myself in some way.” For example, you might try to win Mario Kart without using a vehicle. Or successfully ascend to the status of demigod in Nethack while adhering to a strictly vegan diet. Eating corpses left behind by mobs is a great way to pick up intrinsics that are vital to winning the game, so this is no small achievement.
This is my post about the time I climbed Mt. Everest. It is not a story I often share. And because I’m not that flamboyant, I decided there would be no recognition of voluntary challenges of any kind.
Continue reading →
Quest for the quirky queen of Quackery
A little something from my Twitter timeline:
My wife is still not feeling well and saw a new doctor today who listened and asked questions. Is it sad as fuck that surprised us so much?
—April 13, 2011
I don’t care what your job is. Maybe you’re the kid who pumps the gas. (Historical reference.) Maybe the person on the other side of the counter at the fast food restaurant. Maybe even the President of the United States.
Maybe you’re a pathetic loser, like me, nothing more than a piece of gum on the bottom of the universe’s shoe.
Or maybe you are a doctor.
Whatever your job, and more importantly, whether you hate it or not, you should do your best. Hell, I find myself caring and trying to excel even as I wish I could melt out my eyeballs with a blowtorch. There’s something very very wrong with me in that I care about doing things right even while I hate what I’m doing. It’s a sickness, I think.
That’s probably why I’ve never been fired in my entire life. I know! But it’s true.
It’s no secret that I don’t think too much of doctors. I often bitch about doctors on my blog. In a previous post I called them Salubrious Basterds. (That post was yet another “challenge” post, namely Blog Improv. The day is coming soon, I think, where a post that isn’t part of any challenge will become the most trendy challenge of all!)
My beef with doctors is twofold. First, they still haven’t evolved too far beyond, “Hey, let’s break out the leeches. That should improve your humors. Fuck it, we don’t know what else to try.” There’s still so much we don’t know.
When the U.S.S. Enterprise went back in time (yeah, that narrows it down) Dr. McCoy gave an elderly woman at the hospital a pill and she grew a new kidney.
Alas, we’re not quite there yet.
My second beef is that, out of all the people I meet, doctors seem to be the least concerned about doing their job and doing a good job.
It works like this: You go to the doctor. You wait on them half an hour or more because they are way more important than you. You pay $100 for about three minutes of their time. During those three minutes the doctor won’t listen to you, glances at facts, leaps to conclusions, acts like being near you is akin to being covered in biting, crawling fire ants, scribbles out a prescription based on the latest visit from a pharmaceutical rep, and then flees the room as fast as humanly possible.
$33 a minute for that kind of “work” is fantastic when you can get it.
The last time I went to the emergency room, I was there about 15 minutes, got a shot of something called diloted (which was actually good shit), saw the doctor a total of three minutes, and got billed for $1,200. What a fucking racket.
My main point is, can’t they at least pretend to care? Do they have to act so rushed, like your mere presence is such an imposition on them? We’re paying good money.
My wife and I have been sick a lot so far this year with that damn lingering bug that has been going around. I went all John Wayne on it (perhaps Mike Rowe is the more suitable name these days?) and toughed it out by going to work and never seeing a doctor. I consider it my duty to work when sick and be a vector.
My wife, however, missed a record number of days and used up all her sick time. She went to the doctor a few times, too. And urgent care.
Her primary care physician wouldn’t give her the time of the day and prescribed prednisone, some sort of steroid. Why is it that doctors think steroids are God’s gift to medicine? Steroids must be the modern version of leeches. Then, when the prednisone didn’t work and caused other problems, the doctor stuck his fingers in his ears and went, “naw naw naw I can’t hear you.”
Meanwhile my wife is paying big money for the privilege of having this discussion with him over and over.
Finally, she figured out that if she made an appointment on his day off, she’d get to see someone else. Brilliant! And that’s when something unusual occurred. The person she saw actually listened. And didn’t act like my wife was frothing at the mouth with rabies and stayed in the room with her. And even asked questions! And, get this, said, “I see you went to an urgent care. You need to sign this form so we can get their records over here.”
What the hell?
The thing that really hit us was, of course, how bloody surprised we were to be treated well by a member of the medical profession. Wow. It’s truly sad just how staggering of a surprise it turned out to be. When doing a good job is so damn unusual perhaps there’s something wrong with the whole profession?
I often wonder, “What would life be like if a native American village ran like our modern society?” You’d go to see the medicine man and he’d say, “Yes. I can help you. But in return, I will require from you everything you hunt for the next 12 years. Sound like a good deal? If you don’t like it, you always got that other option. Just go die.”
Somehow I don’t think they ran things that way.
To close this section, I’d like to talk about a doctor who is not-so-affectionately known as The Dragon Lady or the The Black Widow behind her back. The woman is a Queen Biatch of Quackery in the highest degree. (In this context, “quackery” is just a general derogatory term based on her profession. I don’t know what her actual skills are.) She had her own practice but suddenly and mysteriously closed it down. Now she works in the field of insurance billing where she is hated. If you are a doctor she’ll treat you with a modicum of respect. Anyone else? Watch out. You are her minions and treated as such. A noble example of a noble profession. And, at least to me, she’s not that exceptional in her field. Just another doctor that doesn’t treat people right.
Big “Q” Bonus: Quetzalcoatl
If you’ve ever played Nethack (the greatest computer game of all time), then you already know that Quetzalcoatl is the lawful deity of the archeologist profession. He’s the guy you pray to when you are dying of hunger or about to die.
Quetzalcoatl was also a God to the Aztecs.
One of the principal Aztec-Toltec gods was the great and wise Quetzalcoatl, who was called Kukumatz in Guatemala, and Kukulcan in Yucatan. His image, the plumed serpent, is found on both the oldest and the most recent Indian edifices. … The legend tells how the Indian deity Quetzalcoatl came from the “Land of the Rising Sun”. He wore a long white robe and had a beard; he taught the people crafts and customs and laid down wise laws. He created an empire in which the ears of corn were as long as men are tall, and caused bolls of colored cotton to grow on cotton plants. But for some reason or other he had to leave his empire. … But all the legends of Quetzalcoatl unanimously agree that he promised to come again.
[ Gods, Graves, and Scholars, by C. W. Ceram ]
It is also interesting that Quetzalcoatl has a tie-in with Mormonism:
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Some Mormon scholars believe that Quetzalcoatl, as a white, bearded god who came from the sky and promised to return, was actually Jesus Christ. According to the Book of Mormon, Jesus visited the American natives after his resurrection. Latter-day Saint President John Taylor wrote:
“The story of the life of the Mexican divinity, Quetzalcoatl, closely resembles that of the Savior; so closely, indeed, that we can come to no other conclusion than that Quetzalcoatl and Christ are the same being. But the history of the former has been handed down to us through an impure Lamanitish source. “
TED: Ideas Worth Spreading
A song by Queen on a slightly different instrument…https://ted.com/talks/view/id/1063
This is my “Q” post for the April 2011 “A to Z Blogging Challenge.”