Sunday, August 31, 2008

Old Gas Station

I love this picture from 1940 of an old gas station. It has one of the old gravity feed gas pumps. The hand pump feeds the gas up into a glass jar, with measurement marks on it. Then, the gas flows into the car by gravity. I like all the old signs, and the old man sitting on the porch. One can only wonder about all the conversations that were had under this porch.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

School Boy

This picture was taken in 1938 and shows a school boy in class. The child looks to be bare footed, which was a common thing during this period, as many people simply could not afford shoes for their children. When I see pictures like this, I wonder what ever happened to the child. I wonder if anyone reading this blog can ever remember going to school bare footed . . . if so, we would love to hear your story.
OK, I finished my first week of school in my new career as a school teacher. A couple of comments. First, I think that most people do not appreciate just how hard the job of school teacher is. I think people think of the job as a job where the person gets to go home at 3:30 and gets the whole summer off. The truth is, being a teacher is a very, very hard job. The other thing I see is that the teachers that I am around really care about what they are doing, and are trying hard to positively impact the children. In the past I have had jobs that would be considered very high stress (jobs in National Security, High Technology, executive management). Teaching is by far the hardest thing I have tried to do. All day long, you have wave after wave of kids coming into the classroom. You have to be ready to engage them, maintain control of the classroom, assign and evaluate work. You have 4 minutes between one class and the next. By the end of the day, you are completely exhausted, but you still have to grade papers, and prepare lecture material for the next day.
So, hats off to all the teachers . . . I have a new found respect for what you do.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Old Bicycle

This is a picture from 1921 showing an old style bicycle and a motorcycle. I always wondered how they got up on one of these old bicycles, and whether it took two people to get someone going on one. I have seen them in museums before but never really saw an explanation of how to get one started.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Zulu Chief

This is a photograph of Cetshwayo kaMpande, last of the great Zulu Kings. He was captured by the British on this day, August 28, in the year 1879.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Homesteaders

This picture shows a Homesteader couple. The picture was taken in 1940 in Pie Town, New Mexico. I think these folks show the true American Spirit.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

President Taft

This is a picture from 1908 showing President Taft on a train. I like all the hats people are wearing in the picture. I think it is too bad that no one wears cool hats anymore. Maybe you will see somone in a baseball cap every once in a while, but hat wearing has really fallen out of fashion these days.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Overwhelmed

This photograph was taken in 1903 and shows a man that is confused and overwhelmed. I mentioned a week or so ago that I had decided to become a school teacher. Well, today will be my first day in front of the students, and I feel a little like this guy. I am teaching Algebra II, computers, business, and multimedia. That is going to be a pretty full schedule. Hope all goes well.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Segregated Bus Station

This is a photograph taken in 1940 in Durham, North Carolina. The picture shows a bus station, but the interesting thing is the sign that reads "Colored Waiting Room". So, I guess the White people and Black people did not sit together.

I grew up in the 60's, and I never remember seeing any segregation situations like this where I was. The community I grew up in was very small, and there was only one or two Black families in the community. I knew 2 or three black children as I was growing up. They did well in school, and I can not remember them being treated any differently than anyone else. The community had a large Hispanic population . . . maybe close to a half the kids in my school were Hispanic. I think where I came from people were busy trying to make a living to put up signs telling people where to sit. It was actually a nice situation to grow up in.

I am curious about what type of segregation situations people from other parts of the country remember seeing. I am not talking about cross burnings and hateful violence, but the subtle things like different restrooms, different seats on the bus and so forth. What were all the ways people remember seeing different races being separated.

Friday, August 22, 2008

President Theodore Roosevelt

This is a photograph of Theodore Roosevelt as a soldier. The picture was taken in 1898, at about the time of the Spanish American War. Looking at the picture, you can almost see that this man is going to do great things. I think he was one of our best presidents, and there was something in him for just about everyone to like. "Walk softly and carry a big stick" should keep the conservatives happy, and the fact that he was an environmentalist before anyone else really saw the importance of preservation of natural resources should be admired by liberals.

There is a great quote by Teddy Roosevelt which is a great encouragement:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."


What wisdom these words carry. I notice that usually the people who criticize the most are those who never accomplished anything, and never really tried. I respect the people who step up to the plate and hit a home run. I respect the people who swing hard, and strike out. I don't respect the people who never quiet make it up to the plate.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Insurance Building

This is a picture of the Fireman's Insurance Building taken in 1909. It was in New York City, and was on the corner of Broad and Market street. It looks like a statue of a fireman up at the top corner of the building. I wonder if the building is still there?

Anyway, I mentioned the other day that I had decided to be a school teacher. This week was preparation week where the teachers get ready for the upcoming year. It turns out to be a lot of meetings learning about various state requirements and rules. Also, we were required to talk to the Aflac insurance salesman, who tries to sell you his insurance program. I had always seen their advertisements, but never really understood what their program was about. Well, the guy sits you down, and shows you this list of really bad things. Then he tells you how much they will pay you for each of the bad things. Things like dog bites, or walking through a glass door, or having cancer, or driving your car into a post. Well, they would pay you something like $150 if you got bit by a dog, or something like $3,000 if you got cancer. I told the guy I might be willing to go out and get dog bit for $150, but that he was going to have to pay me a lot more than $3,000 if he wanted me to get cancer. Seemed to me like a strange business, paying people to go out and have bad things happen to them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Baseball

This photograph was taken in 1910, and shows a group of children at a baseball park. Cute kids, and it looks like it could have been taken yesterday. To me it is sort of strange to look at pictures like this and realize all the people would be gone now. Life is short . . . do something worthwhile.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Family Dinner

This photograph is from the 1940's and shows a family enjoying dinner. I find the picture interesting in that the scene is so simple. The furnishings are plain, and not much else in the room.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Suffrage

This photograph was taken in 1914, and shows a woman participating in a Suffrage Parade. Her sign reads "Help Us to Win the Vote". It was on this day, August 18, in the year 1920 that the nineteenth amendment to the US constitution was passed, giving women the right to vote.

I can remember when I was a young boy, my dad thought that it was the Man's role to decide how the family voted. So, prior to each election, he would sit down with my mom, and show her who or what to vote for. Well, this went on for several years. Then this one time there was a ballot initiative to build a swimming pool in our little rural town. Of course, my dad was against this, thinking that kids should swim in rivers or stock tanks, so he told my mom to vote against the swimming pool. Then a couple of days later the results of the election were posted in the newspaper . . . on the swimming pool initiative, there were 197 votes "for" and 1 vote a "against". Well, my dad then realized that since he had voted "against" that my mom must have voted "for". He realized that my mom had not voted the way he had told her to. He then also realized that she had probably never voted the way he had told her to. It was an interesting time around my house that day I tell you.

Anyway, I guess some people did not catch on as fast as others, and my dad was one that was slow to change. I would imagine that he was probably not the only one with such attitudes back then. It is encouraging how far things have come since then. My daughter started her own business at age 14, at age 15 she had signed deals with several large companies, at age 16 she had a nice little income, and started investing in the stock market. My hope is that we have reached a point that nothing in the system will artificially hold her back.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ronald Reagan

This photograph was taken in 1976, and shows President Ronald Reagan (image Courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Library). I can remember when Reagan was president. I was a young man in college at the time. What I can remember most is that I always felt safe when Reagan was president. I felt like there was a man in charge with his eye on the ball, and that no matter what came up in the world, Reagan could take care of it. Carter was president when I was in High School, and I always felt very unsafe. It was not a political issue . . . at the time I really did not care about politics, I just had this uneasy feeling that the man was not up for the job, and I feared he was being manipulated and out-maneuvered by the Iranians during the Iranian Hostage Crisis.

I watched the presidential forum last night with Rick Warren at Saddleback church. First, I was immensely impressed with what Rick Warren did . . . I thought it was a great venue for learning more about the candidates. I appreciated the fact that both Rick and the audience were respectful of both candidates, and that it was a chance to get a better perspective on the two men.

With that said, I have to tell you that I am not really happy with the choice we have for President this year. I find it hard to believe that either of these two people would be best qualified to lead us through the immense challenges we face in the world today. Barack Obama is a profoundly gifted orator. But, when you get past the moving sound bites, I find him woefully naive about the threats and challenges we face in the world today. I find John McCain to be an honorable man who has served his country well. I respect him, and appreciate his service. At the same time, I can not help but wonder if he still has the fire-in-the-belly needed to be President. I am sad to say, that I worry that he might be a tired old man, or might be a tired old man by the time he is a few years into his term. I wish we had a choice like John Chambers, T. Boone Pickens, Jack Welch, or [Pick your favorite Successful Corporate Executive].

Again, I am not expressing a political opinion, I am just saying that I dont see the two men running for president as being gifted Leaders.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Japanese Reloacation Center

This is an interesting photograph. It was taken in 1943, and shows a nurse and newborn baby. The baby was born in the United States, and hence was a US citizen. At the same time, the baby was born a prisoner.

US participation in World War II was spurred by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The US government believed that some individuals of Japanese descent on the Island of Hawaii had provided critical intelligence to the Japanese government that helped coordinate the devastating attack. The US feared that similar agents might be at work on the mainland of the United States. With this concern that the Japanese might be planning an even more devastating attack on the mainland, attention was focused on people (including US citizens) of Japanese descent living in the United States. A decision was made to "relocate" these people to "relocation centers". These centers were in fact incarceration camps. The people (including US citizens) that were relocated were given very little time to put their affairs and businesses in order. Many were forced to sell businesses for pennies on the dollar, and many people were financially ruined due to being relocated. It is generally accepted that the conditions in the incarceration camps were good. The people were in fact denied their liberty, but the camps were safe, relatively comfortable, and well equipped. This act of relocation is probably one of the most controversial actions ever taken by the US government, in that it denied US citizens some of their basic constitutional rights.

I recently asked my Dad about his opinion on the Japanese Relocation Program. Interestingly, he said he would have traded places with any one of the people placed in the relocation camps. You see, at the outbreak of World War II, my dad had just finished business school, and had just purchased a hotel, and was in the process of getting his business off the ground. He was drafted into the infantry, and had no time to get his business and affairs in order. Having to leave his business unattended was financially disastrous for him. After training, he was sent to the pacific, and was in the middle of some of the most intense fighting of the war. He was in the first wave of soldiers to land on Leyte Island, and was again in the first wave to land on Okinawa. He spent months in fox holes on the front lines, witnessing horrors that even today he can not talk about. He was proud to go, and proud to serve, but in his mind, he is not to sympathetic to people who got to live in a comfortable center is California for a few years.

I understand that this is a politically charged issue. Please realize that I am not personally advancing a position, or stating any opinion of my own. I am simply stating that there are two different perspectives on this. One perspective is that this was one of the greatest outrages ever done by the US government, and the other perspective is that there were a lot of people asked (or forced through the draft) to make a MUCH larger sacrifice.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Charlie Chaplin

This is a photograph of Charlie Chaplin. Charlie was one of the world's first movie stars. His character, The Little Tramp, was hugely popular across the world in the early 1900's.
Chaplin's fame grew so large, that Charlie Chaplin look alike contests were held across the world. In these contests, people would dress and act like Chaplin, and judges would determine who best portrayed this famous actor. Chaplin himself once entered one of these contests in San Francisco. He did not win, and he did not even make it to the final round of competition.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One Room School

This picture was taken in West Virginia in 1921 and shows a one room school house. I find it interesting that several of the students are bare foot.

I appreciate all the insightful comments yesterday on my thoughts of becoming a school teacher. I found them both useful and interesting. After reading over the comments, I made the decision, yes, I will be a teacher. I took a position yesterday, and the job starts this coming Monday. I am now in the midst of a major panic attack, wondering if I can do this. They have me teaching 3 different classes . . . Algebra II, Business, and Computers, and will be teaching 7 periods per day. The major fears I have are:

1) I dont have a teacher certificate, so I will have to be working on certification training and testing while teaching what looks like a pretty full load
2) I have never taught before, and it has been 27 years since I was in high school
3) I have good math skills, but it has been a long time since I worked Algebra problems.
4) The computer class is based on Office 2007. When I bought my last laptop, I downgraded to office 2003 because I found 2007 peculiar and hard to use.

Things I am encouraged about:

1) They tell me they will hand pick the students in my classes and give me students who are smart, motivated, and want to learn.
2) This school system still uses the paddle, and the principal assures me that discipline is maintained in the school.
3) The superintendent and principal have assured me that they will support me and help me to be successful
4) I think that the Computer and Business classes could be tailored to teach kids not just how to use a computer, but how to communicate, and how to build a successful career (with the computer being a useful tool).
Anyway, this will be a new adventure. My main fear is simply a time issue . . . I am willing to dedicate 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM to this job, but is there enough hours to both teach, prepare for class, grade papers, take my own teacher certification training, and testing. We will see . . .

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

School Room

This picture was taken in 1902, and shows a classroom full of unruly children. While the photograph appears to be "staged", I think it is interesting in that it shows the clothes and dress of the day. The teacher appears to be pinned in the door.
I have actually been thinking about being a school teacher. On one hand, I think it might be a rewarding and honorable thing to do. On the other hand, I think it might be a nightmare . . . what do you think? Should I try it?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Piano Lessons

This photograph was taken in 1899, and shows a young girl taking Piano Lessons. When I was a little kid, they made everyone take piano lessons. Yep, I had to take piano lessons . . . I really do not know why. I did try pretty hard, but I could never make any progress. You see, I could only think about one finger at a time. When it got to the part where lots of different fingers had to be doing different things at the same time, that is where I had lots of trouble. Anyway, after a couple of months, the teacher politely told my parents that they were wasting their money on the lessons, that I was not going to be a piano player.

Do you have memories to share of Piano Lessons?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Buzzard

This picture was taken in Africa, and shows a Buzzard that was killed by hunters. My, that is one big bird.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Clothes Line

This picture was taken during the Great Depression, and shows a woman drying her clothes out on a clothes line. It is funny how much people talk about going green these days, yet I never see any of them drying their clothes on a clothes line. You see, using a dryer in your house not only uses lots of energy, it generates lots of heat in your house, which makes your air conditioner have to work all the harder, using even more energy. Using a clothes line wastes no energy.
As a kid, I can remember my mom drying clothes on a clothes line. The neat thing was it was near our back door. As the breeze blew through the wet clothes, it cooled the breeze, which then blew into the house, and helped cool the house. Today, I do not know of a single person who uses a clothes line.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Nagasaki Bombed

On this day, August 9, in the year 1945, the United States dropped the second atomic bomb, Fat Man, on the city of Nagasaki. It is estimated that over 70,000 people were instantly killed. Six days later the Japanese surrendered, and the war ended. The photograph above shows the mushroom cloud moments after the blast.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Buying Lunch

This photograph was taken in 1938, and shows a field worker buying his lunch from a mobile store. I am sure the prices charged to these poor working people was probably not very fair.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Doctor's Office

This picture shows a Doctor's Office. The picture was taken in 1908. My, how things have changed since then.

You see, last week, I had an interesting day. I swore to myself that I would NOT put the story up on the blog. I felt it was unfair to subject my readers to such a tedious story. I was able to restrain myself for about a week, but today I have lost my self control, and am going to have to tell the story. Understand that most of my stories offend about half the people. I am pretty sure this one will offend everyone. Remember, just because I put the story up does not mean you have to read it. In fact, you might should just go up and hit the "back" button right now, and go back to wherever you came from, and save yourself some agony.

OK, you have been warned but have chosen to read on anyway, so here goes. This happened last week, about the same day that I finally got my state-of-the-art, Dual Fuel KitchenAid range fixed, after being broken for 49 days. My wife and I went to bed at the normal time that evening. I drift off to sleep, happy that my new stove is finally working. Then, sometime in the night, I am awoken by a disturbance. My daughter has come stumbling into our room and is crying. My wife jumps up as any good mother would, to see what was wrong. I look up, see my daughter hunched over, holding her back, screaming out in pain, and cursing the day of her birth. My wife asks her what is wrong, and I tell her that Elizabeth has a kidney stone. You see, I would recognize that look of terror anywhere. I had had a kidney stone last year, and knew just what it felt like. Now, if she had just been hunched over grabbing her back and side, and crying out in pain, it might have been gall stones, or maybe appendicitis, but when you throw in that she was cursing the day of her birth, I was pretty sure it was kidney stones (DISCLAIMER- I have no medical background, this should not be considered medical advice. Most of the time I am wrong about things. You should not listen to me, in general, and especially, you should not listen to me about medical issues. This is not medical advice). So, I tell my wife to try and get our daughter ready, and try and make her comfortable, and I will get ready, and take her on in to the doctor.

It does not take me long to get ready, so in no time I am down in the kitchen, fixing myself a piece of toast. Now that the stove is working again, I am looking forward to once again enjoying a piece of toast for breakfast. I decide to make the toast using the "Convection Broil" mode on the stove. I am watching the toast through the little window in the door, and I can see that in about 20 seconds I am going to have what might very well be the finest piece of toast ever made. It was about this time that my wife walks in the kitchen, looks at me with disgust, and says, "WHAT DO YOU THING YOU ARE DOING? ! ! !"

Now, this is a hard question to answer. It is like a question that has no right answer. The response of, "I am making myself a piece of toast," the obvious response ,would no doubt lead to follow on questions. If anyone out there knows how to answer a question like that, please let me know, so I will be prepared next time something like this happens. Anyway, I look in at that perfect piece of toast, and I realize that I have two choices. I can wait 20 seconds for it to be done, and then take it with me, or, I can just walk away right then, and get my daughter loaded in the car. I realize that the only shot I have of ever enjoying another day of domestic tranquility in my life is to just walk away from that piece of toast, and tend to my daughter. So, I make the wise choice and walk away from the toast.

So, I get my daughter loaded into the Toyota out in the garage. I press the garage door opener button on the visor of the car. I hear a loud grinding noise, and then sort of a clanking sound. I look back, and the see that the garage door is not opening. Yes, my new, state-of-the-art, Wayne-Dalton Idrive Torquemaster Plus Model 3726 Garage Door Opening system has failed, yet again. This is the 7th time in the last 6 months that this thing has malfunctioned. Now understand, everything in my house is new, because my house is only six months old. I am not saying this to boast, but just point out that this stuff is all new and should not be breaking like this. Anyway, I get out of the car, and inspect the door to see if I can disengage the opener system from the door, and then open the door manually. No way, it is a catastrophic system failure, and there is no way to disengage and open the door. We are now at Garage Door Def-Con II . . . family with medical emergency trapped in the garage. OK, for a second I thought about calling the service center and telling them that my daughter is about to blow a kidney, and that my garage door is malfunctioning, and how do they suggest I get my daughter to the hospital. I decided now was not the time to poke fun at that garage door opener company, I realize I need to focus on getting my daughter in to town. Now, the truth is, the garage door system had malfunctioned so many times that I had actually worried about getting stuck at home, so I never put both cars in the garage at the same time. I always leave one car outside, for just such an emergency.

Well, I get my daughter out of the Toyota, and take her out to the Ford Ranger parked out front. As I am walking through the kitchen, my wife is watching me like a hawk, making sure I don't try and get that piece of toast as I walk by the oven. I get my daughter into the Ranger, and even though it is a Ford, it did start on this particular morning. It did start, but I could not be sure whether I had enough gas to get to town or not. You see, about 2 months ago, the gas gauge went out on the pick up. It reads empty all the time, even if you just filled it up. I had taken it in to see about getting it fixed. I was told that the little gas tank "sender" unit, a 25 cent component had gone out, but the sender unit is built into the fuel pump, so if I want the gas gauge to work, I have to have the gas tank taken out, taken apart, and the entire fuel pump replaced. And we wonder why all the American auto manufacturers are going bankrupt. Anyway, I refuse to pay the $850 to fix it, and decide to live without the gas gauge.

But I have digressed . . . back to my daughter. So, I get the car started, and start in to town. I live about 35 miles from town, so it is going to take a little time to get her in for help. The trip goes relatively smoothly, other than her screaming in agony the entire way. We get to the medical facility, and I breathe a sigh of relief. We go in the front door, and start heading back towards the Doctor's office. I make it about 20 feet, and all of the sudden, I feel someone grabbing me from behind. Focused on trying to get my daughter to the Doctor's office, I struggle to break free from whoever is grabbing me. Well, that was a mistake. I turn around, and there is this woman who was a former German SS Gestapo officer, and she is trying to restrain me. Now I don't know for a fact that she is a former Gestapo agent, but I am pretty sure if she was not that at a minimum she was one of the Hitler Youth. I try again to break free, and this time she picks me up, and body slams me to the ground. She gets me in a choke hold, and I become fearful that she is about to give me the Pile Driver. Well, I realize I better stop struggling, and see what the problem is. I stop struggling, and she explains that I have to go to the front desk, and "Sign In" before going back to the doctor. You see, I had thought the priority was to get medical attention for my daughter, but in fact, I learn, the priority is to sign in at the registration desk. Once I understood this, I was happy to comply. The lady releases the choke hold she has on me, and I get this tingly feeling as oxygen returns to my brain.

Well, she escorts me over to the Registration Desk. Real quick I learn that "Signing In" is code speak for "They are going to get all your money before you see the Doctor". So, she takes her position behind the desk, and she looks at me sternly, and asks, "Do you have insurance?" I whip out my handy-dandy Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Texas Card. It is a lovely card, with my name embossed in gold lettering. She sees the card, and a magical transformation occurs. Her face lights up, she smiles at me, happy music starts coming from her workstation, and little butterflies start circling her work area. Yes, she sees I am somebody. I have insurance. I am in the circle, the few, the proud, the insured.

Well, she takes my card, and she types some numbers into the computer. All the sudden, her head sort of bobs back, she has a perplexed look on her face, and she types the numbers in again, this time slower and more deliberately. Her demeanor darkens once again. The happy music turns to ominous music. The little butterflies disappear, and she once again looks like a Gestapo agent. She looks at me with disgust and says, "Sir, your insurance has a $10,000 per year deductible. This year you have met $4.87 of that deductible. How do you plan on paying for the medical services today?"

Well, I could not resist, and asked her the following question, "Ma'am, what do you do with 18 year old girls who come in with kidney stones who don't happen to have a father kind enough to be willing to pay for medical treatment?" It took her no time to answer . . . "Kidney stones will pass in time. We tell them to drink lots of water and send them out". You know, the lady had me completely convinced that if I were to try and just abandon my daughter at their facility, that they would in fact throw her out on the street with no medical attention.

Anyway, I look over and see my daughter still flailing around on the floor in agony, and realize I better quit fooling around with the lady, and pay her and get things moving. I had left home without my check book, but I have a Discover card. The lady swipes the card, and tells me I can go back to the Doctor's office.

So, my daughter and I walk on back. We are in. We are entering the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies, yes, we will be able to see . . . The Doctor. Well, when I get back to the Doctor's Office, his nurses and receptionists are very kind, helpful, and concerned. Seeing my daughter is such agony, they take us right back into the examination room.

In about 2 minutes the doctor comes in. He sees my daughter in misery, and asks what the problem is. I tell him that she has a kidney stone. Oops, that was a faux pas. I knew it the minute I said it. If you could have seen the look on the Doctor's face . . . I really can not describe it, but it was a look of disgust. You see, when he asked the question, he was not asking for my medical opinion, or my diagnosis . . . he was asking for what her symptoms were. So, I try to recover as best I can and tell him that at about 4:00 AM she started having severe back and side pains. She did not have a fever, and had some blood in her urine.

Well, he makes a few notes, and says that he is going to send her over to radiology for some x-rays. I gasp. You see, they charge about $200 for x-rays. That is not the worst of it either. If you get an x-ray, in addition to the charge for the x-ray, about two months later you get the "mystery bill". The mystery bill is from the "Radiologist". The Radiologist is a doctor you never see, and you never asked for his service. He is not the person that takes the x-ray. He is a person who somehow intercepts the x-rays somewhere between the x-ray machine, and your doctor. He looks at the x-rays, and then sends you a bill for $250. I cringe, but realize that my daughter is in pain, and we will just have to go down and get the x-rays done.

So, I take her down to radiology, and the people there are real nice. They get her right in, and she gets out in under 5 minutes. We go back to the doctors office, and he already has the x-rays up on his fancy little monitor. He shows us the x-rays, and says that it looks to him like she might have a kidney stone. I use good judgement this time, and bite my lip, and do not say, "Do ya think?"

Anyway, he can not be sure from the x-ray, so he decides to send her back down to radiology for a CT scan. I gasp, and try to steady myself against the wall, as I feel I am about to pass out. You see, I have no idea how much a CT scan is going to cost, but I figure it is going to be a lot more than an x-ray. What scares me even worse is I figure that the radiologist is going to figure out some way to get his grimy little fingers on the CT scan, and charge me for looking at the scans. Then what really scares me is that I figure that they probably have the Junior Radiologists look at the x-rays, and probably the really expensive Senior Radiologists look at the CT scans. Yes sir, there is probably some Grand Dragon or Imperial Potentate of Radiologists who is held back just to look at CT scans. Any hope I had of eating red meat this year disappears . . . I realize I am going to be eating pinto beans and cornbread for the rest of the year.

Well, I take her back to radiology, they do the CT scans, we go back to the doctor, and he has the CT scans up on the screen. He looks at them and says he is pretty sure she has a kidney stone. He then tells me that he can do the surgery first thing in the morning. He then tells me that he is going to go ahead now and check her into the hospital (Cha-Ching), and keep her there today (Cha-Ching) and tonight (Cha-Ching), and put her on an I-V pain drip (Cha-Ching) so she can control the pain until the surgery in the morning.

Now at this point I could not control myself any more. I see my life savings slowly slipping through my fingers, so I just come out and ask him, "Are you putting her in the hospital for safety or health reasons, or are you putting her in the hospital for her comfort?" Well, he says that it is a comfort issue, not a safety or health issue. I mention to him that when I was a kid they use to have a big hypodermic needle that they would use to give you a big shot in the rear that would sort of numb your whole lower body for about 8 hours. I told him that it was not a nice pretty little syringe, but a huge ugly hypodermic needle. I told him that it looked like something you would use to put a race horse out of his misery with. I told him that the orderlies would bring the shot in on a tray, and as a courtesy they would have it covered with a little towel so as to not throw the patient into shock by seeing it. But you could see the bulge under the towel that looked the size of a baseball bat, and you knew you were fixing to get the Shot from Hell. So I ask him if they had anything like that anymore. He said he could probably find one. I ask him how much that would cost. He said $25. I asked him if there would be any additional medical risk of that strategy. He said no.

So, I tell him that we will take door number 2 . . . the $25 shot.

He looks sort of disgusted with me, and he goes out and in a few minutes the nurse comes in with the shot, and gives it to my daughter. They did not even try to hide it under a little towel. Sure enough, in about 3 minutes the pain goes away. The shot is one of those that numbs the pain, but does not make you goofy in the head, or groggy. So, my daughter is thinking clearly, and not in pain, so I tell her as I see it we have three options. The first is, we can sit out in the waiting room all day. That way, if the pain comes back, we are right there, and she can ask for another shot. The downside is it will be a pretty boring day. The second option is I can take her home. It would be better to be at home, but if the pain comes back, she will have a long ride back into the doctors office. Now, there is a third option, and in the interest of full disclosure, I felt it only fair to present the option to her. You see, she is taking classes this summer at the university to get a jump on her freshman year that starts this fall. She is taking Physiology. In the summer they cram the entire semester into one month, so if you miss one day of class in the summer, it is like missing a week and a half during the normal semester. I realize that if she misses today, and tomorrow (due to the surgery), there is going to be no way for her to successfully complete the class. Now, I already paid the $1,200 for the tuition, and if she does not complete the class, I will have to re-pay for her to take it again in the fall. So, I tell her the third option . . . I could drive her over to school, and she could sit in class for the afternoon. She picks option three. I breathe a sigh of relief.

OK, so I drive her over to the university, and I walk her to class. I sit outside the class, so in case she has any trouble, I can drive back over to the doctor. She makes it through the class with no trouble. We get in the pickup and drive home. Also, I picked up the pain pills the doctor had prescribed.

Anyway, we get home and get settled in. I realize that the shot is going to wear off in about the next half hour. The pain pills he prescribed are the kind that make you goofy in the head, so I realized that I only had about five minutes to speak to her while she is still pain free and clear headed. There was something real important I needed to talk to her about, and I only had about 5 minutes to do it.

Now, you need to understand that in my career, I have been sent to many different management training classes. I have been to crisis management training, Malcolm Baldridge Quality training, managing for success training, and even paper shredder safety training. I mean if there is a management training class that you have heard of, I have probably been sent to it. I always felt like someday all that training would come in handy, and today was that day. You see, if I were to sum up 25 years of management training into one brief summary, it would be this: First, you need to make sure the person understands the objective. Second, you need to make sure they understand why the objective is important. Third, you need to make sure they understand what the incentive is for them to achieve the objective.

So, I have about five minutes to explain the situation to my daughter. I sit her down, and tell her that I need to speak to her about an important matter. She sat down, and I felt I had her full attention. I explained to her that her surgery in the morning was going to cost me $10,000. She nodded, and indicated she understood. I told her that I was counting on that money for things like groceries, heart worm medicine for the dogs, and college tuition. She said she understood. I told her that if she passed that kidney stone tonight, that we would not have to have surgery in the morning. Now, for the kicker, I told her that if she passed the kidney stone tonight, I would give her $500 cash to do with as she pleased. She said she understood, and did not appear to be offended by the offer.

Now I fully realize that there is no way to deliberately pass a kidney stone. I made the offer in the faint hope that there was perhaps some yet to be discovered synaptic connection between the old, primordial region of the cortex of the brain and the plumbing system. I was hoping that perhaps the right incentive could somehow stimulate this yet undiscovered nerve pathway, and that with the proper incentive the cortex could somehow stimulate the plumbing system to relax or fluctuate in just the right manner to release that kidney stone. I knew it was a long shot, but it was the only shot I had.

So, sure enough in about 5 minutes the pain shot starts wearing off, and she starts screaming in agony, once again cursing the day of her birth. She takes the pain pills but they do not help much. I settle in at the computer for what I anticipate is going to be a long night. Not having anything better to do, I email my brother, who works in the medical field. I tell him my theory that there could be an undiscovered path between the brain and plumbing systems. I told him about the $500 offer. He thought it was pretty funny. In fact he thought it was so funny he told his wife. His wife did not think it was that funny, so she calls my wife and tells her. Well, it was about five seconds later that my wife comes in and says, "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? !!!!"

That is another one of those questions that is hard to answer. She says, "YOU OFFERED OUR ONLY DAUGHTER $500 IF SHE WOULD NOT GET THIS SURGERY DONE? ! ! !"

Well, you can see the story got distorted somewhere along the way. I was not offering her money to not get the surgery, I was offering her money to pass the kidney stone, which is an entirely different matter. Anyway, I start trying to explain the whole deal to my wife, while at the same time my daughter is in the next room, screaming her lungs out. Well, as I am trying to explain my way out of things with my wife, suddenly my daughter stops scremaing. About 30 seconds later she walks in, she has a little zip lock bag with a little rock in it about the size of a BB. She hands me the little zip lock bag, and tells me I owe her $500. Well alrighty then.

So, I look at it and it looks like a kidney stone. My daughter tells me she is completely pain free. I call the doctors office, and they tell me to go ahead and bring her in in the morning, and the will check things out.

So, I take her back to the doctor in the morning. This time I was careful to check in at the registration desk. He comes in and asks what the situation is. I started to say,"she passed her kidney stone last night and we can cancel the surgery", but I remembered my Faux Pas from the day before and I bite my tounge. I tell him, "She went to the rest room last night, and this little rock came out. After that, she has been completely pain free". He looks at it, and says "I-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g." In fact, he finds it so interesting that he wants to send her back down to radiology (Cha-Ching) for more x-rays (Cha-Ching). So, I take her back down to radiaology, and they are all happy to see her feeling so much better. We get the x-rays, and go back to the doctor. He looks at them, and then says that it looks like the kidney stone might have passed, but he can not be sure. He wants to send her back to radiology (Cha-Ching) for some CT scans (Cha-Ching) to get a closer look (Cha-Ching). I start to ask him why we continue to take all this expensive data only for him to ignore the data once it is taken. I refrain from saying anything, and take her back to radiology. We come back, he looks at the scans, and says that as near as he can tell, that the stone has passed, and that little rock we have in the zip lock bag might in fact be the stone. He takes the bag, and says that he can not be sure, and wants to get it tested (Cha-Ching) and that we need to come back in two weeks (Cha-Ching).

Anyway, I hope you all have better insurance than I do. What you find is that if you are self-employed, or if you work for a small company, it is almost impossible to get health insurance, and if you can get it, it is extrememely expensive, and not very good.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

B-29 Bomber Crew

This photograph shows the crew of a B-29 Bomber in World War II. It was on this day, August 6, in the year 1945 that the crew pictured above loaded into their bomber, the Enola Gay, and then dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. About 70,000 people were killed immediately. Nine days later, Japan Surrendered, and the war was ended.

In the late 1990's, I had the chance to meet Paul Tibbets the pilot, and the other living members of the Enola Gay crew. They were quiet men, who did not carry themselves as heroes. At the same time, they appeared at ease with the historic mission which fate had assigned to them, and had a quiet dignity as they talked about the mission.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Disabled Veteran

This photograph was taken in 1938 in Omaha, Nebraska, and shows a disabled veteran from World War I. The man lost a leg in the war. I read the other day that presently, there is only one living American veteran from World War I. They recently honored him for his service.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Calvin Coolidge

This photograph shows President Calvin Coolidge, tipping his hat to a crowd. The hat looks to be a large western style hat. Most pictures of Coolidge show him wearing a hat. I find it interesting that pictures of Coolidge always show him with a big smile, and from the pictures he would appear to be a jovial, outgoing kind of guy. It turns out though, he was an extremely reserved man. His nickname, among those who knew him was "Silent Cal", because he almost never spoke. There is a story that he once was seated at a dinner party next to a woman. The woman told him that there was a bet amongst the guests that she would be unable to get more than two words out of him during the entire dinner. His response to her was, "You Lose".

Calvin Coolidge took office as President on this day, August 3, in the year 1923, upon the death of Warren Harding.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Surgery

This is a photograph from 1902 showing a patient about to get an operation. The interesting thing is the large crowd of spectators. One would assume that they are medical students, or somehow there for a reason. It creates an unusual image, since they are there in street clothes . . . they look like they are attending the opera. The picture was taken at the Jefferson Medical College Hospital.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Calamity Jane

This photograph was taken in 1895, and shows Calamity Jane. Calamity Jane was a colorful figure from the Old West. She was friends with Wild Bill Hickock, and in later years was a member of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Calamity Jane died on this day, August 1, in the year 1903. She was buried next to Wild Bill.