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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Scary Pills

I recently ran across an ad for a certain pill. It contained, in part, the following "warning."
AMBIEN CR is indicated to help you fall asleep and/or stay asleep.
AMBIEN is indicated for short-term treatment to help you fall asleep.
AMBIEN and AMBIEN CR are treatment options you and your doctor can consider along with lifestyle changes. When taking either of them, don’t drive or operate machinery. Plan to devote 7 to 8 hours to sleep before being active. Sleepwalking, and eating or driving while not fully awake, with memory loss for the event, as well as abnormal behaviors such as being more outgoing or aggressive than normal, confusion, agitation, and hallucinations may occur. Don’t take it with alcohol as it may increase these behaviors.
True. How true.

It seems Mrs T was recovering quite nicely from major surgery at a world famous local clinic and hospital. On that particular night, however, her roommate was having a particularly rough go. There was much coming and going of the nursing staff. At that point one of the nurses suggested the Mrs. take a sleeping pill so she could get some sleep. Mrs T agreed with the suggestion.
She quickly fell asleep, only, I learned later, to have bad nightmares concerning her prison status and the fact that someone was going to "take all my blood." Upon being awakened in the middle of the night, a nurse did indeed want to take her blood. Later, according to her roommate, my spouse categorically refused to allow this procedure three times. Also, she was unable to give the nurse her name or where she was. However, she did insist on speaking to me.
It's more than a little upsetting when your wife is in the hospital, and a nurse calls at 2 a.m. It took me a few seconds to get up to speed. The nurse said, "Your wife wants to talk to you." The bottom line though was when the nurse added, "basically Mr. Troutbirder, you wife is being incoherent and uncooperative." I replied, "So what else is new?" Nah, I didn't really say that. Just bit my tongue. My wife then got on the phone and repeatedly said, "I love you."
On a more serious note, she later told me she had never been so frightened in all her life and couldn't remember what she said. Truth to tell, we have both had experiences where being told of possible side effects of a drug might have altered our uninformed choices. I had a near death experience once, which later cost, a unnamed by legal agreement, multi-zillion dollar "big pharmo."

Friday, January 22, 2010


Some time back I was lucky enough to win a give-away at Hasty Brook.

Lynne is an avid birder and so naturally the book was about that subject. The book was actually about birds from a rehabbing point of view. Titled Flyaway, by Suzie Gilbert, it’s really a memoir by a woman passionate about life, birds, her precocious kids, and understanding husband. The whole thing was a stitch. I loved it.
After some positive experiences in an animal hospital and a local raptor center, she turned her home into Flyaway, Inc., a nonprofit wild bird rehabilitation center. Funny yes. Heartrending at times Gilbert learns about human as well as animal nature. Human carelessness and compassion.
Pursuing one dreams no matter how unconventional. Holding on and letting go.
Its hard not to like this remarkable woman and her passion for caring about other living things. Even if your not a birder.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Into The Wild

April 27th, l992
Greeting from Fairbanks! This is the last day you shall hear from me Wayne. Arrived here two day ago. It was very difficult to catch rides in the Yukon Territory. But I finally got here.
Please return all mail I receive to the sender. It might be a very long time before I return South. It this adventure proves fatal and you don’t ever hear from me again I want you to know you’re a great man. I now walk into the wild.
Postcard received by Wayne Westerberg
in Carthage, South Dakota
Quoted from Jon Krakauer’s book Into The Wild

Historian? Investigative reporter? Jon Krakauer writes intriguing and most often controversial books with flair and style. There are almost always mysteries surrounding the facts and his interpretations of them. They also become best sellers that other people write or film rebuttals about. I first ran across his writing about a mountaineering disaster on Mount Everest. I had seen an Imax film on the subject and numerous television documentaries, then I read his book into Into Thin Air. It was an astonishingly evocative book. You felt you were at 28,000 feet gasping for air and your very survival. Krakauer pulled no punches putting the blame for all the deaths where he felt it belonged. Some people felt he tweaked the facts to make a more interesting story. Hmmm.

Other books followed including Under the Banner of Heaven. This was an account of the past and present history of the Mormon Church focusing particularly upon the practice of polygamy and two dissident brothers who murdered in the name of their religious beliefs. The Mormon Church officials did not approve of Krakauers’s interpretation.
Another best seller was Where Men Win Glory an account of the life and death of Pat Tillman, who left a career in the National Football League to serve in the war in Iraq. The real truth of his death was not revealed by the U.S. government.

I just finished reading Into The Wild. A young college graduate leaves his well to do family and becomes Alex Supertramp. He gives up his money and family and becomes a wanderer. He eventually intends to spend a summer, living off the land, in the Alaskan wilderness. And he dies there. Why? What actually happened? Reading the story it was easy enough to brush off the whole thing as the mistakes of a stupid, selfish and naive young man. But not really. I found much empathy for the psychological depths that the author turns up, much of it based on his own youth and experiences.
Krakauers books are about life on the edge. They never disappoint me because they make one think about some of the bigger questions of our lives. And then you wonder if they are nonfiction fiction. That’s part of the mystery.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Up In The Air

It was only sixteen below zero last Friday..... so time to get out of the house and head to the big city and do something. A quick mall stop, then the public library to look for a book on improving bird habitat in your backyard, lunch and then a movie. I favored Sherlock Holmes, my favorite detective. Mrs T wanted George Clooney. Well, you get the picture. A chick flick I thought. Well it might be funny. It wasn’t.
There were some humorous spots but the underling premise was that George’s job was to travel endlessly across the country, firing people from their jobs, that their rich, arrogant and gutless bosses wouldn’t do themselves. Now that fits in well with the national economic mood. Nice! George had to be frozen emotionally to put up with this kind of work. Then he met a woman who appeared to be similarly oriented. Then a young hot shot woman appeared, whose computer skills were ready to replace George’s very way of making a living. No, it wasn't a triangle. It was a mess.
Perhaps the sophisticated banter, psychological swampiness, and unexplained twists and turns in the plot were way above my somewhat naive small town perspectives on life.... but when the film ended my basic response was WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?