Monthly Archives: January 2013

Public Health Problem

Let’s put this in perspective, now.  Gun violence is a public health issue.  Period.  We reduced other public health threats by taking appropriate action.  We can fix this one too.

From the Journal of the American Medical Association — information on how we reduced deaths from other causes and what we need to do to reduce deaths from this one:

Public Health approach to Guns

(Mozaffarian D, Hemenway D, Ludwig DS. Curbing Gun Violence: Lessons From Public Health Successes. JAMA. 2013;():1-2. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.38.)

But of course, this shows the heart of the problem:

more alcohol

More guns aren’t the answer.  Guns in schools and shopping malls and office buildings aren’t the answer.  Fewer guns — and guns with smaller magazines that’s the ticket.

To contact your Congressional representative and Senators and ask them to help enact reasonable gun laws, follow these links:

House of Representatives:



Filed under Elections, Gun control, Health and Medicine, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Mental Health, Stupidity

Sticks and Stones — The Poll

You remember it as well as I do:

Sticks and stones

May  break my bones

But names can never hurt me.

But they can sure as hell piss me off.  Especially when someone refers to folks, readers, women, whomever as “bitches.”  As in “yo! Bitches!  Listen up!”

It is meant affectionately, I’m told.

Ummm. No.  I don’t think so, buckaroo.  I think it’s offensive.  Very.

Am I alone though?  Am I the only one?  Am I the only person of my gender (or any other gender) who is offended when referred to collectively as “bitches”?  Female dogs?  Am I the only person of either gender who thinks it is annoying or offensive?  Am I truly a fuddy-duddy?

I thought I’d take a poll to see what my millions of readers think.  Because I always forget to post the results of “Other,” I won’t include it in my poll — instead you’ll be able to see where your opinion is in the greater scheme of FiftyFourAndAHalf-dom.

Feel free to expand on your answer in the comments, folks.  I’m sure I’ll be adding mine to yours!


Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Dogs, Pets, Stupidity, Writing

How to Lose Your Friends and Your Job

It was not my fault.  Really.  I would admit it if I were responsible.  But I was asleep.  Snoozin’ in my bed.  After all, it was 2 a.m.

The other night I sent an email out to everybody I know.  Friends I correspond with a lot.  Friends I haven’t corresponded with much lately and probably should have.  Friends I really have lost touch with.

And then there were my clients.  Yup.  They were there too.  Clients I deal with routinely, and those we do business with periodically.  Some who haven’t needed help from my company in 7 or 8 years.  Some who probably can’t quite recall who I am, and others who have changed jobs 3 or 4 times since the last time we chatted.  My business is like that.

And last, there were my business contacts.  Folks I might need to look up should I, say lose my job.

You know, if I were to devise a way to get back in touch with everyone I have ever known, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do it by sending them a link to a miracle diet aid.

As a fake medical professional, well, I don’t recommend diet aids.  Nope. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  That’s my firm belief when I see recommendations for miracle pills that will let you lose weight while still stuffing your craw with McD’s.

[As a fake medical professional, though, I just love the idea of liposuction.  Although I will never forgive the industry for not using the motto I developed when liposuction was brand new:


Why diet when you can vacuum!

Still, I’m pretty sure I’ll never have liposuction, either.]

So the other day I woke up to an email by my nephew, sometimes commenter and friend Clinton.  He was a little perplexed as to why I sent him a link to a diet website.  Clinton is pretty trim, actually.  If I were going to send diet recommendations to anyone, Clinton would not be tops on the list.

And then I noticed that there were lots of failure notices in my Yahoo account inbox.  Lots of the emails that I had not even sent did not go through.

But a whole bunch of them did.  Shit.

And in these emails, I apparently told my friends to visit a diet pill website.  So that they would no longer be so damn fat.

I apparently told my clients and business contacts to visit a diet pill website.  So that they would no longer be so damn fat.

I apparently told my boss to visit a diet pill website.  So that she would no longer be so damn fat.

Do you think I can get into the Witness Protection Program?


Filed under Criminal Activity, Health and Medicine, Humor, Stupidity


For a while, I’ve kind of wondered why the issue of gun sanity makes me so, well, crazy mad.  More than any of the other issue I feel strongly about, this one runs the deepest in my heart.

But thanks to Lisa of Life with the Top Down who commented on my last gun control piece and told the story of her father-in-law leaving a loaded gun in a drawer where her young son found it, I figured it out.  (Lisa’s story ended happily, thankfully.)

Yes Lisa reminded me of one of my own stories.  One of my earliest memories, in fact.  A clear as a bell memory where I am inside my own head as I acted out the events.  Remembering it made me wonder if this might explain why I feel so strongly that guns should be handled, well, differently in the U.S. than they are today.

So here is my story.

It was summer, probably 1960, but maybe 1959.  I was playing in my backyard with Debbie A who lived next door.  I didn’t really like Debbie.  Nobody did.  She was argumentative and we always fought.  Everyone always fought with Debbie.  But that day, Debbie said something that made me mad.  Really, really mad.  And so I went into the house to get my Dad’s gun so I could shoot her.  I don’t remember wanting to kill her; I just wanted to shoot her.

I went into the house, past my mother who was doing dishes, watching us out the back window.  And I opened the drawer where I knew my dad kept his gun.  He had been in the Navy in WWII, and he had kept his gun.  I knew that.  I was sure of it.  And I knew exactly where it was, too.  It was in the bottom drawer in the den.  And I was gonna get it.

Dad's Gun

But I couldn’t find it anywhere.  I emptied the drawer but couldn’t find it.  I asked my brother, Fred, who tried to help me find it.  Finally I asked my mother, who told me with a laugh, “there’s no gun in this house!”

I was crushed.  Disappointed.  I really wanted to shoot Debbie.

Years later I told my Dad the story.  His eyes widened when he thought of what might have been.  Would I have accidentally shot myself?  Would I have mistakenly blown my wonderful brother away?    Would my mother have been blasted as I headed out the door to shoot Debbie?

Would I have shot Debbie?

Dad told me that he had kept his navy revolver, but only for a short while.  When my mother first got pregnant he got rid of it.  “Kids and guns don’t mix,” he said.  “That’s a recipe for disaster.” He was right.

I was 3-1/2.  What would my life have been like had I found the gun?  How many other lives would have been ended or ruined by my action?  My really delightful childhood would have been much, much different if I had murdered someone before even starting kindergarten.

So today, on “Gun Appreciation Day” I celebrate my Dad, who was a smart guy.  Thanks Dad, for protecting me (and who knows who else) from myself.  Because you were right — kids and guns don’t mix.  Trouble is, a lot of the adults who have them don’t mix well with guns, either.

This song is about fathers.   Not guns.  It is beautiful, though.  And it makes me think of my Dad and the wise choices he made that helped me navigate life.


Filed under Childhood Traumas, Criminal Activity, Family, Gun control, Neighbors, Stupidity

Some Things Do Change With Age

Before 1986 there were two things in life I was certain about.  Things I never got wrong on a pop quiz.  Things that I could recite in my sleep.

First my name.  Elyse Ellen E….

When I got married I didn’t have to change my name.  That was until the woman I worked for at the time announced that I absolutely could not change my name.  So naturally the decision was made and I changed it.

Besides, nobody ever pronounced my maiden name correctly;  it drove me crazy.  Nobody pronounces my married name right either, but it’s John’s name not mine, so I don’t care.  Butcher away, folks.

The second thing I always got right was my birthday.  January 18, 1957.  Simple.  Easy.  I had a document from the State of Connecticut with a raised seal to prove that I was born on that date around 3 a.m. in the morning (sorry Mom and Dad).  But I didn’t know that I would end up changing my birthday when I got married too.

Actually, I can blame this one on the same boss.  It was Anna’s fault.  Yup.

The summer before we got married, I was working as a high level lobbyist and John was a lowly government employee.  OK, actually, I was a lowly lobbying flunky and John was pretty high up in the U.S. government.  But still.

One afternoon when I was supposed to meet John for some wedding prep stuff, something earth-shatteringly important happened involving my job.  It was so vitally important to the rest of the history of the world that I can’t at this moment quite put my finger on just exactly what it was.

Anyway, we were supposed to go to the DC City Office and get our marriage license.  Now stop it, readers.  This event was nothing like you see in those old movies, with movie stars in great hats.

Arsenic and Old Lace

Really, there was nothing romantic about it at all.  I don’t think.  Not so I’ve heard, anyway.

So anyway, John got our marriage license, and we got married a month or so later in a lovely church service in the church where John’s parents had been married 40 years earlier.  Family and friends were in attendance.

All was good until my birthday rolled around, when John made a major confession.

“Ummm, Lease,” he said quietly.  “When I got the marriage license, I mistakenly put down January 17th  not 18th as your birthday.”

“You what?”

“Yeah.  Oops.  I guess that means that either your birthday is January 17th or we’re not married.”

“No, I’m pretty sure it just means that I married an idiot.”

We would have happily left it at that if it hadn’t been for my family.  They betrayed me.  Each and every one of them called me on the 17th to wish me a Happy Birthday that year — thinking my new husband would be taking me out to dinner on my actual birthday January 18th.

I have a large family.  Even distant cousins nine times removed called on the 17th.

“See,” John said proudly, “I was right.  Your birthday is obviously on the 17th because everybody is calling to wish you a happy birthday!”

This scene has been replayed every blippin’ year for 25 years.  This year it will be an even 26 birthdays.  And never a call on the 18th.

To make matters worse, though, I put the final nail in my own coffin myself last year.  You see, I wanted to let all my bloggin’ buddies know it was my birthday.  Plus I needed to address the glaring issue of my stupid blog name.  And so I wrote this post:  People My Age.

And because I didn’t know how to schedule posts in those days, and because a lot of my readers were from Europe and Asia, well, I posted it on January bloody 17th.

So this year I’ve given up.  My birthday is January 17th from now on.  Or the 18th.  Whenever.  Gifts will be gracefully received all month long, however.


Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Family, Humor, Stupidity

Before the Fall

It was 1977 when I first lost my pride completely, medically speaking.  January 23, if I’m remembering correctly.

And as happens in so many of my stories, I was in the hospital.  This time in one outside of Boston.  Nineteen seventy-six/seven was a big year for me, my first living on my own away from my parents, my first real boyfriend, my first taste of independence.

My first time dealing with my shitty illness on my own.

This particular hospitalization (my second) was actually a pivotal experience in my life.  I came out of those doors a different person, a better person.  I think back on it fondly  This one afforded me the opportunity not just to be treated for my colitis-that-was-actually-Crohn’s, but time to reflect on life.

The hospitalization did not start out well.  It was the day after my birthday when the doctor informed me that I needed to go in.  I was terrified, because my first and only previous hospitalization was the stuff of nightmares – nearly 40 years’ worth.

Besides, I was already pretty low.  Things were already rocky with my boyfriend Mark.  When I went into the hospital he refused to come and visit me.  It was exam time, and he needed to study.  The hospital was directly in between his dorm room and the library.  Hardly a major effort was involved in stopping by, giving me a kiss, and going on his way.

So I dumped him.  (Last I heard via Google he is a senior executive for a huge tech corporation.  He is, I’m sure, now a multimillionaire asshole.)

Anyway, there I was, sick, sad, lonely.  I had just moved to Boston and knew almost no one.  Nobody came to visit me in the hospital.  I was pathetic and very lonely.

But the resident in charge of my case made up for it.  He was wonderful.  He was cute.  He was compassionate and caring and he had a mad crush on me according to the nurses who know everything.  And I, fresh from dumping an asshole was flattered by the attention.  OK, I was madly in love with him.  Dr. J. Sigh.

My treating physician was really terrific, and he had a name that began my list of weird doctor names:  “Dr. Lesser.”  If I’d have had my wits about me, I would have requested “Dr. Moore.”   But I was sick, so I didn’t.

Anyway, Dr. Lesser was examining me, and he decided to do a sigmoidoscopy right then and there in my hospital bed.  A sigmoidoscopy is a test to check out the lower colon.  I affectionately dubbed “the umbrella test” because when your lower colon is raw, as mine was, having a sigmoidoscopy is like having someone shove an umbrella up your ass, open it, and pull it out.

So anyway, Dr. Lesser had me get into position.  The knee-chest position, which is a misnomer.  It should really be called the “Swallow your pride” position.  Head on the pillow, butt, bare-assed above you in the air.


Google Image. Not me. Really.
I’d be screaming bloody murder.

Dr. Lesser was putting on his gloves to start the exam when I heard a voice that made my heart pitter-patter say:

“Oh, can I do it?” said the man I had been madly in love with 30 seconds earlier.


The new love of my life wanted to stick instruments of torture up my ass.  All I can say is he nipped that crush in the bud.  Or the butt.

That was the first time I totally lost my pride, medically speaking.

In retrospect,  I don’t really mind.  Or I’ve gotten used to it.  It makes for good stories that I can tell again and again so that I can relive the most humiliating moments of my life.

Since then there have been countless times when I lost my pride in a medical setting.  Illness does that to you – and when it is poop related, well, the opportunities for humiliation are bottomless.  You become a pin cushion, a warm body filled with vile fluids and other unfortunate materials.  A specimin.  A black hole of embarrassment.

As I said, I’m OK with that.  Because in order for doctors and other medical professionals to make me better, and for others to learn how to do that, well, they need to poke around in places where I don’t normally encourage exploration.  So I always say “yes” to the gangs of medical students that want to crowd around my bed while some doctor does something weird to me.  Pokes, prods, whatever.  (I have never had another in-bed umbrella test, though, thank God.)  “The rounds” is where doctors learn how to treat patients, what medicines to prescribe, whether they really want to spend their careers looking at the dark end of the human body.  It is helpful, and really everybody benefits.

One plus I’ve found is that these young doctors often come back around to chat with me individually.  It alleviates some of the loneliness inherent in being hospitalized.  Sometimes I have felt more comfortable telling them things I should have told my doctor – it gets filtered back through, and my treatment is adjusted appropriately.

Teaching is good in medicine, whether it is doctor to resident or patient to doctor.  An exchange of information benefits everybody.

I recently read an article about a woman named Martha Keochareon who has done the most amazing thing, knowing from a nursing point of view just how humiliating sickness can be.  And you know, I honestly want to be just like her, although not any time soon.

The article, entitled Fatally ill and making herself the lesson is the finest example of just caring medical professionals can be.  Because it’s about a nurse who decided to invite student nurses from her alma mater to use her as a case study.  To let student nurses learn about end of life care from someone who can give them a first-hand lesson in how to deal with death and dying from someone who is facing both.

You see, Ms. Keochareon is dying of pancreatic cancer.  The students were invited to feel her tumor, but most importantly, they were encouraged to ask her anything.  Anything at all.  How does it feel to get the diagnosis?  How does it feel to know you’re dying?  Does it hurt?  Where does it hurt?  Can I make you any more comfortable?  What can I do to help make you feel better?

Imagine the questions we all might be too uncomfortable to ask just anyone.  Ms. Keochareon is inviting a few lucky students who will benefit most from understanding those answers – they will then be better prepared to help ease others’ pain and suffering.

Throughout my many ordeals with health problems, there is one thing that always stands out.  The nurses.  Their caring, their help, their comforting touches and words, their cheerful attitudes.

But this is the most heartwarming story I’ve ever heard.

Ms. Keochareon has given these student nurses, and really the rest of us, a huge service.  With all of my heart, I am in awe of this gift, and I hope that what time she has left allows her to pass on the lessons she knows are so very important to teach.  She has opened a door to help us understand and accept dying as a real part of life.  That is something I believe our society prefers to forget.  But it doesn’t let us.

And with this gift, I’m also pretty sure Ms. Keochareon gets to keep her pride intact.


Filed under Childhood Traumas, Crohn's Disease, Health and Medicine, Humor

Marriage Strains?

There’s nothing like the sound of young love.

Well, except when I try to eavesdrop on my son and his girlfriend.  Then the sound of young love – “dub step” — is, well, not “moon/June/spoon”- inducing.

Back when John and I fell in love, well, things were different.  Music was wonderful, made to share.  And so I did.

About three months after John and I started dating, I made him a tape.  (For the youngin’s amongst us, it’s like a portable playlist that can be played on any appropriate device available in the prehistoric period in which your parents were, ummm, young.)  Yes, I made my love a cassette tape of my very favorite songs from that and every era.  It contained, among other songs, the following:

Juice Newton, The Sweetest Thing

Joni Mitchell, A Case of You

Bonnie Raitt:  Home

Linda Ronstadt:  Blue Bayou

It was too late when I learned that not only did John not love the songs I loved, he hated them.  Every single one of them.  Over the years, he has solidified his position.  For example, John has threatened to divorce me should I sing Blue Bayou within range of his supersonic ears, an approximate 5 square mile range.

Let me tell you this:  It is not an ideal situation for a critically acclaimed former singer to be banned from singing her favorite songs.  Especially when the ban includes those rare times when I am actually doing housework.  It has been a rather sticky issue for 26 years now.

I try to be accommodating because I am wonderful.  And because I have a huge repertoire of first verses of songs that will get stuck in John’s head for when he really pisses me off.  John has been accommodating by vacating the house immediately when I begin singing/playing/thinking about any of these songs.  Generally he is in search of a divorce lawyer.

But you know what?  Payback is hell.

You see, in the past, I’ve often told John that he needs to outlive me, because I don’t want to have to deal with all our financial issues.  Seriously —  I haven’t balanced a checkbook since we got married, and I don’t intend to start.

But now, after reading an article in today’s, I’m reconsidering my position on who gets to “go” first.  You see, I read that there is:

No rest for the dead with surround-sound coffin

Because now I can get John a specialty coffin complete with seriously impressive stereo speakers, hooked up to the latest iPod/music technology.  And I will get to choose the playlist.

I wonder if I can find that cassette.

Coffin speakers

I promise I will only need one.

Payback is, literally, hell.


Filed under Family, Health and Medicine, Humor, Mental Health, Music, Technology