God’s Hotel, check in and explore– A Doctor, A Hospital, and A Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine with Victoria Sweet.

Click to visit God’s Hotel site.

I discovered Victoria Sweet’s book God’s Hotel, A Doctor, a Hospital, and Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine via  one of Roxie’s Two for Tuesday highlight offerings. The photography book, Infra, which was the primary interest draw for me still eludes my grasp, but Sweet’s tome was already strutting around the shelves of my public library awaiting my call–unlike most modern doctors of my experience. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to explore Sweet’s pilgrimage even when I put in the book request that would pull it from an inner city branch of the library to the eastern library outpost of my territory.  The cover art online certainly did nothing to attract anyone’s attention–in my opinion. Nor was I really in the mood for a full course meal of the intellectual arrogance usually found with the profession that produces God complexes galore.  But two things enticed me into giving God’s Hotel at least a ten page reading chance: the location of Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco and the concept of seeing the human body as “a garden to be tended.” I’ve spent just enough time in San Francisco to enjoy its quirky quality so a possible exploration of more quirky was enticing (Ahh the joys of discovering the quirky and dark side of Portland, Oregon as revealed by Chuck Palahniuk’s so-called travel guide of the city complete with rogue Santas. Reader beware–Portland will NEVER seem the same after you read Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon).  The concept of the human body as a garden is a very old one which has always made perfect sense to me–though I’ve never met a living physician espousing this view–until Victoria Sweet. Though I’m not sure reading her book really qualifies as ‘meeting’ her at all. Written text is one thing and a person in the flesh is quite another.  At first I wasn’t too sure about how far I’d venture into God’s Hotel with Sweet as guide. Luckily her own venturing into the world of Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine evoked my curiosity about Victoria Sweet’s mind and I continued reading until convinced God’s Hotel offered more than a self-centered memoir.  Guess what God’s Hotel really really is. Come on, take a moment before reading further and guess just what this book about a hospital for the poor actually is.  Not a fair question because you’ve not read the book–yet? True. So I’ll let out the delightful strange and wonderful secret–it’s an indictment of the entire medical system as currently practiced en masse in the United States. Yes, it really really is. It’s not billed as such. It’s not marketed as such. I seriously doubt any medically connected reviewer would dare describe it as such. But at its very heart that is precisely what God’s Hotel presents in the best possible manner using the element of direct personal engagement with people over the course of time as the means for presenting the case that damns the current practice of medicine as a service industry. As such God’s Hotel is a GREAT book. Why? It’s a learning experience that teaches, informs and gently demands serious questioning of what is generally taken for granted in the medical profession–and the damned medical insurance industry with its factory minded drones.

Sweet manages to do something very difficult–she actually takes us on her own journey to enlightenment via not just her own experiences and explorations but the life stories of many other people met at Laguna Honda. Dr. Sweet is a learner and grower and a woman with an interesting mind curious about the practice of medicine before all the gadgets, hard metal toys, and purple pills for everything under the medical sun.  Her learning experiences are vital and vibrant. You will learn a great deal just from the patients she encounters and cares for at Laguna Honda. Oh my, did I use the word “care” in the same sentence with a doctor? Oh hell, yes I did. Will wonders never cease? I suppose NOT.

So please do give Sweet’s book at least a chance. I think at the very least you’ll be very glad to meet “Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet, and Dr. Merryman.” Oh yes there is a good dose of quirky in God’s Hotel. Such is the nature of humans engaging in self-determination. If you aren’t aware of Hildegard of Bingen’s existence you definitely will be via Sweet’s intellectual and physical pilgrimages.  I daresay God’s Hotel could be a most excellent foundation for any discussion of the health care system in America that is in such dire need of evolution.

“I had changed, too, but in a diametrically opposed way. Back on the admitting ward, meeting my old self, I discovered I did things differently, I saw things differently.

I took back to the admitting ward the lessons I’d learned from Mr. Bramwell and Mr. Bramwell’s sister-in-law, from Mr. and Mrs. Teal, from Paul, and from so many others, and, somehow medicine no longer seemed so complicated.”

Oh hell can the medical profession in the United States find its own beating heart? Maybe it can. Might require a few transplants though.

Victoria Sweet’s website http://www.victoriasweet.com/

Roxie’s Blog  http://roxieh.wordpress.com/

Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon via Powell’s Books–Portland’s HUGE glorious independent bookstore  http://www.powells.com/biblio?show=Hardcover:New:1400047838:16.00

Mad-City Parent Steams about Walker in the land of Koch aka Wisconsin.

Well I could rant on about whatever the hell happened in Wisconsin yesterday regading the Recall Gov. Scott Walker effort. But I won’t. I think it’s much more appropriate to guest post the thoughts of a friend who resides in the state and worked hard for the effort.  Without further ado:

A Madison Resident steams in Mad-City:

Short answer:  Walker held on by outspending Barrett on tv ads by a margin of between seven and ten to one.  The ads were either a) the indisputable fact–and not campaign hyperbole–is that we saved Wisconsin by balancing the budget or b) Tom Barrett has turned Milwaukee into a hell on earth, as evidenced by this photo of a dead baby that Barrett is responsible for in some vague, non-actionable way.  Walker also got some cushioning from people who don’t personally like him but who are offended by the concept of the recall.  And finally, I think, despite the demonstrably crappy job he’s done as governor, Walker is still powered by an undercurrent of up-state envy, people who hate Madison liberals for being more affluent and educated and therefore more smug than they are.

Honestly, I don’t know who the hell Walker’s supporters are.  I really can’t fathom this.  He is as close to a mustache twirling villain as I’ve ever seen in Wisconsin politics, a demagogic bully who is willing to do anything to further his political aspirations, and who doesn’t care who he stomps on to do it.  As near as I can figure, I guess, is that his supporters are people, suburbanists especially,  who are afraid of losing their stuff and who are willing to let budget cuts fall on everyone else in order for them to maintain the subsidized lifestyle they somehow deserve.  And Walker understands that, and promises he’s the only one standing between them and the special interests, the bogeyman union bosses, who want to make them pay for incompetent, indoctrinating teachers they can’t fire and make them sit next to other people on crowded non-high speed trains, trolleys really, because they want to put the earth’s needs above people’s.

So, shorter answer:  Walker won because we live in uncertain times and he shows no uncertainty.

The worst part now is how smug Walker is going to be as he rolls out his next legislative session using the failed recall as a cudgel.  Of course, before that, we will be treated to Walker lapping up national attention as the new-flavor-of-the-month frontrunner in the VP sweepstakes, coyly declining consideration, finally, in the interests of running the state.  Which is to say that VP consideration for Walker will continue up to the point the Romney team does its background check and discovers just how dirty Walker is.  Walker’s lawyers spent the past six weeks before the election trying to get letters from both the Feds and the Milwaukee County DA’s office declaring that Walker wasn’t the target of an investigation–either when he was Milwaukee County Exec or sitting as governor–and they couldn’t get them.  Thirteen people around Walker have now been given immunity, so something’s coming down the pike.

Which points to what I hate most about Walker:  this may sound quaint but what I really can’t stomach is that he has no sense of fair play.  The whole John Doe investigation centers around his using his office for campaigning, for using the levers of power to help himself.  Ever since he got elected he has been working tirelessly to tilt the playing field for his own benefit.  He’s called special sessions to get around legislative rules and when that wasn’t enough he broke laws to muscle his bill through.  His legislators on redistricting met in secret and then passed a bill so gerrymandered that the courts struck parts of it down.  he passed a voter ID law to disenfranchise as many Democrats as possible.  And, of course, his whole emergency budget bill was less about a budget crisis and more about cutting off political opponents at the knees.  And all the while he crows hypocritically and piously (I can’t count the number of times he’s mentioned that he’s the son of a minister) about how hard he is working for Wisconsin, again, standing up against the special interests.  Every time he parrots that line I want to throw something at him, because how much more special an interest can you get than the Koch Brothers.

In other words, this one really hurt.  I put in a lot of get out the vote work, and I started letting myself get hopeful.  And now I don’t know anything anymore.

But thanks for letting me vent.  That actually made me feel better.

A Mad-City Parent

Get your radioactive water now! Compliments of SB 2109 via Sen. McCain and Kyl! Don’t you too want to glow in the dark?

Just when I thought facebook was becoming too much of a pain in the butt to waste time even checking the newsfeed,  Navajo Truth Stop SB 2109 posts a link to Dine’ Water Rights’ sweet piece that demands to be SHARED: Reasons why SB 2109 should be smacked down all around Senators McCain and Kyl. Shame, Shame!  O, I forgot, this is America where the motto is not “Do No Harm” — but rather,”Do Whatever the hell you can make a profit off any way you can — Just DO NOT GET CAUGHT. If caught, deny, deny, deny till the day you die.”  The post said “share”– so I’m sharing. I wonder what Stanley Pollock is thinking about now.  I bet John McCain knows!

Hmm, I bet some of you wish I’d stick to writing book reviews. Don’t worry there are more of those forthcoming.

 

Here’s a link to Dine’ Water Rights   http://dinewaterrights.org/2012/05/131/

Here’s the content Navajo Truth Stop SB 2109 link shared:

Ya’at’eeh,
Here is a Navajo Nation resolution with proposed wording that clarifies the reasons why Navajo Chapters should not support SB 2109:

The [Chapterhouse Name] as part of the Navajo Nation.
Sponsors: [Resident from Chapter]
Topic: “Opposing “NAVAJO-HOPI LITTLE COLORADO RIVER WATER RIGHTS SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT,” S2109 (“Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012”) and HR 4067 (“ Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012”
The [CHAPTER HOUSE NAME]
Whereas, the Navajo Nation is in grave need of fresh drinking water presently and for the future.

Whereas, The State of Arizona, State of New Mexico, State of California, State of Nevada and Mexico have been appropriated 2,800,000 acre-feet Colorado River Water in Arizona v. California , 547 US 150, 126 S.Ct. 1543, 155,
Whereas, The Navajo Nation was denied entry into Arizona v. California, November 20, 1961, 368 US 917, and January 8, 1962 368 US 950 which is discriminatory as other Indian tribes were let in even though they were barred,
Whereas, In re the GENERAL ADJUDICATION OF All RIGHTS TO USE WATER IN the GILA RIVER SYSTEM AND SOURCE, Supreme Court of Arizona, Nov. 26, 2001, decrees that water be “tailored to the reservation’s minimal need,” “consideration of existing users’ water rights,” “realistic basis for measuring tribal entitlements.”, and “welfare and progress of our indigenous population is inextricably tied to and inseparable from the welfare and progress of the entire state.” is ridiculously lopsided controlling decree that favors the State of Arizona and no future water for the Navajo Nation.

“NAVAJO-HOPI LITTLE COLORADO RIVER WATER RIGHTS SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT,” S2109 (“Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012”) and HR 4067 (“ Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012” is bad water legislation and termination of the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe for the following reason:
1. $199 million and other monies for a total of $358.7 million not guaranteed by the US , S2109 Sec. 109(c),
2. Navajo Water Projects not guaranteed by the US government. S2109 Sec. 103 (a)(6),
3. Poorly written settlement agreement, S2109 and HR 4067,
4. Universal execution and release of claims against the State (or any agency or political subdivision of the State), the Hopi Tribe, or any other person, entity, corporation or municipal corporation under Federal, Stateor other law for all for all time. S2109 Sec. 105(a)(1)(A),

 5. Retained claims in S2109 is questionable as retain claims are put back into the category of explicitly waived claims which leaves the Navajo Nation with no water claims including the claim to the Lower Colorado River and Upper Colorado River. S2109 Sec. 105(a)(1)(B),
6. Navajo-Gallup Project water is only a temporary Congressional fix for Navajo Water Rights until a final Indian water rights settlement is approved by Congress for the Lower Colorado River . S2109 Sec. 206 (c)(3)(A),
7. S2109 and Settlement Agreement releases US responsibility of N-Aquifer. S2109, Sec. 103 (c)(3),
8. S2109 and Settlement Agreement give Peabody Coal a license to be exempt from the N-Aquifer Management plan and continued water withdrawals that are damaging the N-Aquifer. S2109 Sec. 104, (e)(1) and Settlement Agreement 6.2,

 9. S2109 releases the US from damaging past and present claims relatingin any manner to damages, losses, or injuries to water, water rights, land, or other resources due to loss of water or water rights (including damages, losses, or injuries to hunting, fishing, gathering, or cultural rights due to loss of water or water rights, claims relating to interference with, diversion, or taking of water, or claims relating to failure to protect, acquire, or develop water, water rights, or water infrastructure) within the reservation and off-reservation trust land thatfirst accrued at any time prior to the LCR enforceability date. S2109 Sec. 105 (2)(xi),
10. Relieves the US of the Churchrock Uranium spill in 1979. S2109 Sec. 105 (2)(iii) to (iv),
11. Navajo Nations 12 million acre-foot per year claim to the Colorado River is reduced to a claim of 22,589 acre-foot per year. S2109 Sec. 206 (a)(1),
12. If settlement fails, Navajo Nations 12 million acre-foot per year claim to the Colorado River is reduced to a claim of 22,589 acre-foot per year and returned to the Secretary S2109 Sec. 206 (c)(1),
13. If settlement fails, Navajo Nations 12 million acre-foot per year claim to the Colorado River is reduced to a claim of 22,589 acre-foot per year and terminated by the Secretary S2109 Sec. 206 (c)(3)(C),

14. S2109 (c) 3(C) Terminates the Navajo Nation and the S2109 (c) 4 (C) terminates the Hopi Tribe as who can live in the desert without water,
15. Navajo Nation would have unlimited use of groundwater, but C-Aquifer is mostly salty and sulfate. C-Aquifer near Leupp , Arizona already has 11.55 pico-curies per liter of gross alpha radiation close to the maximum limit of 15 pico-curies per liter and high levels of sulfate,
16. Navajo Nation would have unlimited use of groundwater, but R-Aquifer is contains salt and sulfate and connected to the C-Aquifer to radioactive Breccia pipes. R-Aquifer explicitly not defined in S2109. R-Aquifer share with Prescott , Verde Valley , and other Indian Tribes,

17. Navajo Nation would historically get 40,780 acre-feet per year (Settlement Agreement 4.5.2) or radioactive contaminated wate, but Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement, Report to theNavajo People, April 2012, page 22, by the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission says 37,780 afy. Either somebody cannot add or the report was never checked,
18. Navajo Nation would get 100,000 acre-feet per year of radioactive water located at Blue Spring, located 2,500 feet below the cliffs of the Little Colorado River Gorge which is salty and sulfate requiring prohibitive distillation costs to purify for drinking,
19. Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement, Report to the Navajo People, April 2012, page 41, by the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission says “If Congress fails to fund the projects – Navajo gives not waiver and there is no deal,”, but if settlement fails, Navajo Nations 12 million acre-foot per year claim to the Colorado River is reduced to a claim of 22,589 acre-foot per year and returned to the Secretary S2109 Sec. 206 (c)(1) and termination of water claim and the Navajo and Hopi.
Therefore, the [CHAPTER HOUSE NAME] oppose and reject “NAVAJO-HOPI LITTLE COLORADO RIVER WATER RIGHTS SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT,” S2109 (“Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012”) and HR 4067 (“ Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2012” as blackmail with termination of the Navajo andHopi as a consequence. We request that Stanley Pollock be excluded from the Navajo Nation and removed from any water related cases for not appealing the Gila River Adjudication Decree of November 26, 2001 as it provided a controlling tool to terminate the Navajo and Hopi from the face of the Earth.
Therefore, the Navajo Nation water litigation team must be reformed.

Therefore, the US Congress must be lobbied to provide a congressional law to immediately provide 8 million acre-feet of mainstream Colorado River Water as a right for the Churchrock Radiation spill and for the US not providing for the water needs of the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe.
This resolution was passed __________ for __________against
On this ______ day, 2012.

Cheap Coffee Binge-ing at 7-Eleven

6:32 am and my brainwaves commence looping: “Coffee, cinnamon roll, 7-Eleven ten minutes ago!” This gets me out of the bed-cave and into The Daily Dress–a spaghetti strap number 3 sizes too big that no one I know, so far, has the guts to tell me to stop wearing every day as soon as the temperature rises above 70 degrees. Hey the name of the heat game is ventilation. It is indeed possible to do that hair combing thing and toothbrush dance  in under sixty seconds and achieve a semblance of normalcy that will keep the clerk from hitting the alarm button upon my appearing on the security cameras at the entrance. Neither the cameras or alarm have deterred any of the daylight hour robberies of this particular 7-Eleven.  Who repeatedly robs a 7-Eleven? The same folks who hit the little barbershop, the shoe box sized gun shop, and the 24 hour self-serve laundry.  Hey, small change adds up. Bonus, all of these businesses are within five minutes walking distance round trip, unless one gets ‘stuck’ in the suicide lane crossing the street, so gas consumption is significantly reduced with a simple one stop park and rob plan.

Now let’s get one thing clear: As a recovering coffee addict my infrequent coffee binges are rare yet intense and generally expire within two weeks.  Another thing to be clear about: Not just any coffee qualifies for binge status consumption. Coffee binges involve imbibing great cafe mochas from the only independent coffee-shop to ever drive out an invasion by a Starbucks (Yuck! Yuck!) chain, The Broadway Cafe, and freshly trickled down regular 7-Eleven blend with a minimum of four tiny tubs of half and half topped off with a dash of cinnamon if no roll is available. The only reason to have the roll is for the cinnamon content. This is a matter of scent–nothing else matters except smelling the spice. Considering the depletion of my supply of ticket stubs from the independent art house movie theater, said stubs serve to slice the price of BC mochas in half, and the relative proximity of the aging convenience store to current home base, 7-Eleven is servicing my present early morning coffee binge.

Note: In a pinch, home percolated coffee in which a scoop of vanilla ice cream of a variety which lists no more than five ingredients, all of which we all can pronounce and identify to the tune of cream, milk and sugar et al, topped off with a swirl of honey and a splash of cinnamon will temper the coffee craving. But true bingeing involves hunting and gathering the caffeine carrier.

The current early morning clerk can’t be a day over nineteen with his thick mass of curly black hair barely restrained by a bright red cap. We’ve become acquainted enough over the last week for him to actually reply to my inquiry about the appearance of some sort of filled yeasty pastry where the daily delivered cinnamon rolls are generally located. “Dunno what’s in them. Just showed up today. Only one cinnamon roll arrived and it’s gone.”  I glare at the pink sprinkled pastries with their devious mystery filling and the two for one dollar glazed donuts then move on to the coffee bar with my tidy reusable mug in hand.  Three steps and I freeze in horror.

Egads!  The coffee station has been thoroughly ransacked, raped, pillaged and decimated apparently to the point of total devastation. Empty glass decanters, white paper coffee filters, drip baskets litter the usually gleaming stainless steel counter-space. I consider asking the exceptionally alert red capped clerk if a herd of manic monkeys recently invaded his territory. But he’s already on the scene fully engaging in coffee resupply mode. Instead I start matching up empty decanters with heaters to see where the regular blend stands in the resupply line. Several heating elements are out of sight so I circle around the floor freezer proffering tawdry ice cream confections to the other side of the coffee bar. Lo and behold Red Cap has indeed managed to replenish one solitary glass pot full of my blend of choice. I close in on the only pot of coffee available and commence covering the bottom of my travel mug with half and half–to avoid overfill at the top.  Red Cap and I are standing side by side busy with our different engagements in the supply and demand chain. He glances at my assault on the half and half but refrains from commenting. I’m sure he’s seen more interesting coffee concoctions. At the moment the store is empty aside from just he and me and a lot of coffee awaiting brewing.

“How ya doing today?” I inquire as I tear the top off creamer number 3.

“Oh I’m just piling on my facade to get through the day,” he replies as he yanks open a bag of coffee.

“Well that’s true of 99% of the people 99% of the time.”  Creamer number 4 joins the other three in the black bottom of my plastic mug. I sense Red Cap looking at me sideways for a moment after he sets a decanter under a brewer and hits the button. Regular blend fills my mug turning the desired shade of tan as it mixes with the half and half. “I gave it up. Too much work.” I gently shake cinnamon on top then snap on the lid.

Red Cap laughs a little as he pours coffee into another filter.  I go glare again at the glazed donuts then decide to do the 2 for 1 special.  While doing the tissue grab and bag a short short guy enters and stares at his lottery options at the counter. Red Cap is no slouch in the service department and fast walks up to the register. Short guy decides, buys and departs. Red Cap enters my purchase for $1.o5. “Hey, I got these too.” I tap the donuts then resume hunting for my loose change.

“Yep. Got ’em. Coffee is on the house today.”

I look up surprised as I pay. “Thanks. Have a great day. Be safe.”

A million freckles grin around solid black eyes for a moment without any trace of tough young guy facade. “You too.”

420 Characters by Lou Beach complete with quixotic collages

All lovers of small texts this is for you. Tiny tales of woe, love, insanity, murder, mayhem and epic dreams no longer than 420 characters each.Perfect for snarfing between salami sandwich bites on feudal timed lunch breaks. Quick taste and daze day-dream prompts galore.  Example per review. Beach’s writing boxes heartily.

Lou Beach: Stories & Pictures http://www.loubeach.com/the-book/

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