Saturday, 20 December 2014

Catalan Carol

 
I get a bit jaded with all the old traditional carols, those which are trotted out each year, as if there was not a world wide repertoire of Christmas music.
 
So here is a variant for our tired ears   -  it's a Catalan Carol  --- "Fum, Fum, Fum"
 
 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Lunch al fresco in South West Florida, 19th December 2014

Of course I would not create envy, nor would I want to "rub it in" for friends and family members in colder winter climes (ahem!), but I knew that you'd like to know that I enjoyed lunch out of doors today.

I was at the Dry Dock Water Front Grill on the intra-coastal side of Longboat Key, FL  see

http://www.drydockwaterfrontgrill.com/

I ate "Fish and Chips"  (for the first time since I was in the U.K. last May/June).

The fish (haddock?) was entirely delicious, cooked as it was in a light batter.

The coleslaw was no more than "O.K.".  (I find that most restaurant coleslaws have too much mayonnaise, and not enough seasoning. This was the case today. -  I prefer my home-made 'slaw).

The chips  -  well what to say about the chips?

Chips  (french fries) should be crispy and brown on the outside, and fluffy in the middle.  I know that, 'cause my Mum's chips were the best ever. Maybe it was because she deep fried them in lard.

The chips at the Dry Dock looked good, but there was no crunch on the outside, and no fluffy texture inside.   I should not fault the "Dry Dock" alone, for such is the sad case for most restaurant "fries" in the U.S.A. - and even for the chips I had in the U.K. last summer.

Bring back "twice-fried" in lard chips will be my next crusade!

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HOWEVER  (despite my Gordon Ramsey without the F word review of the Dry Dock) I had a lovely time.

This was in part because it was more than wonderful to be able to dine outside in mid-December, with a lovely view of the intracoastal waterway  to boot.

Good as that was, the best part was that I was the guest of my dear friends Fred and Diana. 

Fred and I were colleagues in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts,

I got to know Diana after she wed Fred,  and they bought a winter home on Longboat Key.

They are a delightful couple, and their company is to be cherished.

So much so, that having met them at the Dry Dock at Noon, I was so utterly relaxed that I did not glance at my watch until we left the restaurant.  It was 2:15 p.m.

That's a mark of good friendship:  to sit at a meal table for two and a quarter hours, but to be unaware of the passage of time.

Thanks Fred,

Thanks Diana.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Stupid Inc., (or Stupid Plc). John Michael Povey, C.E.O.

My nonagenarian friend Betty M has not been well for about three weeks.  She's had intense abdominal pain, with an accompanying lack of appetite.  Her primary care physician, (a good, competent, and caring man), has been unable to find the reason for her malady.

With no relief in sight, and at the urging of Betty's neighbour (Linda), Betty went to the E.R. yesterday. 

Betty called me from the E.R.  to tell me about this, and to let me know that she had been admitted to the hospital.

So, of course, I visited her today.

Today the "Front Desk" people at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital told me at first that that Betty was not in their data base; and then they said that she had had been discharged. This seemed to be very unlikely, so I  'phoned Betty.

She assured me that she had not been discharged, and that she was in Room 413.

I relayed this to the front desk staff member who checked the computer records again, and told me that Betty was indeed in Room 413.

I trudged endless corridors, took a lift (elevator), trudged more corridors and (almost) got to room 413.  Except that 413 is in a section devoted for folks recovering from day surgery.

A staff member on that unit, trying her best to help me, called the admitting folks, only to be told that Betty was not in their data base.

"But she is", I protested, "I talked to her a wee while ago".  The gracious staff member said, "maybe she is in a room near to the E.R.  Some of those rooms have numbers in the 400 range".

I was grateful, so once again I trudged endless corridors, took a lift (elevator), trudged more corridors
until I found the E.R. There  I had to wear a face mask in order to ask a simple question, viz  "are there rooms in the 400 range near here?" There are/were not.

I loped back to the front desk, and asked again where I might  find Betty. The young man on  duty checked the data base, and told me that Betty M was not in their records. I protested and said "but she is here, I talked with her earlier".

He asked "could she be registered under her maiden name?"  I thought this to be unlikely since she had tied the knot some seventy years ago.

He asked if I knew her date of birth - that being another way of checking the data base.

I responded by saying that I would check it by 'phoning Betty.  That I did.

Betty gave me her d.o.b.  and then asked "Michael, are you at S.M.H.?"

Indeed I was.

Betty said "but I am not at S.M.H., I am at Doctors Hospital".

DUH.  The C.E.O. of "Stupid Inc." (one John Michael  Povey)  was in  the wrong hospital,

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He  (I) drove to Doctors Hospital; had a great visit with Betty; and discovered that her pain and distress is real  - she has colitis.

Nevertheless Betty was filled with gratitude, for two reasons.

First that, even though colitis is miserable,   she does not have cancer,

Second, that she does not need surgery.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Episcopal Relief and Development trolled my blog.

Yesterday my blog was critical of E.R.D. and Amnesty International, and grateful for Sarasota's All Faiths Food Bank, and our local Cat Depot.

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Earlier this  year I wrote a blog about  my modest investment account, (sponsored by the Church Pension Fund and administered by  Fidelity Investments).

I stated that  F.I.  had confused me with another investor  (remember Mary Gilligan?), and that F.I. seemed unable to correct their own mistake

You may remember that the Church Pension Fund computer system had trolled my blog entry, (because I had mentioned CPF in the title), and had contacted me by e-mail to offer their assistance in "righting the wrong".

You will also remember that I had mixed feelings about CPF's trolling of my blog.

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Now I have discovered that Episcopal Relief and Development also trolls the internet  to search for items which mention them.  (To be truthful, I mentioned Episcopal Relief and Development in my title to see if this would happen).

Indeed it did.  I received the following today in an e-mail. ( I wondered if I should open the e-mail on account of the exotic and wonderful name of the author - fearing that it might be harmful spam).

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This is what E.R.D. wrote to me today:

Dear Father Povey:
Season’s greetings to you and your loved ones.  I thank you for your previous support of our work in the Middle East.
 Your recent blog post was brought to my attention this morning.  I would like to apologize profusely for this oversight in not keeping your name off of Episcopal Relief & Development’s general mailing list.  I’m currently researching on my end where the breakdown occurred internally.  In the meantime, I have just made sure your record has been removed from our mailing list.
 Your feedback is invaluable to us.  One of our goals is to be as efficient as possible and if there’s any way for us to save money with fundraising costs, then we are all for it.
 Again, I thank you for your past support and greatly appreciate your assistance in making us a better organization.
 Sincerely,
Xerxes
 Xerxes Eclipse
Director, Donor Services
 
 
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On one hand I am grateful for Xerxes Eclipse's prompt and careful reply. 
 
On another hand I get nervous about the trolling abilities of the web.
 
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In the Episcopal Church we often begin our Communion services with a 16th century prayer (with earlier roots) which we call "The Collect for Purity".
 
It starts thus:
 
Almighty God unto whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hid.... 
 
 
I like the idea that no secrets are hidden from God.  It reminds me that I can be utterly honest in the presence of God, knowing that I do not  need to keep any secrets from her/him.
 
 
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Now I live in a world in which "no secrets are hid".  Every e-mail I write, every website I visit, every blog I compose,  is out there in cyberspace for ever.  Nothing can be expunged or deleted. It is all "eternally accessible".
 
Which means that a myriad of  national security agencies (in this and other lands) are able to read my e-mails; to search my blog; to check the sites I have visited, and to access my financial records.
 
That is both amazing and fear-inducing.

We (supposedly) have national security.  This means that I have personal insecurity.

 
 
 
 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Episcopal Relief and Development fails (charitable giving)

A few months ago I sent money  to Episcopal Relief and Development (an agency of the American Episcopal Church).  My gift was designated for the rebuilding of the Anglican Hospital in Gaza, Palestine.

I made it clear that this was a one time gift, and that I did not wish to be on ERD's mailing list.

FAT CHANCE    I have since received four mailings from ERD despite the fact that I have requested (in writing and by mail)  to be removed from their list.

A few years ago I joined Amnesty International.  I think that they do good and essential work. 

When I joined I stated  "I do not wish to be on your mailing list.   If you send me multiple mailings I will not renew my membership next year".

Guess what?   They sent me multiple mailings.

Guess what again?   I did not renew my membership the next year.

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Au contraire  - earlier this year  I mailed donations to Sarasota's "ALL FAITHS FOOD BANK", and later on to our "CAT DEPOT":  (in each case in honour of the neighbours who had taken care of my cats whilst I was out of town) .

When I mailed the checks/cheques I stated the reason for my gift, and asked "do not place me on your mailing list"

The Food Bank and the Cat Depot have honoured that request.

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So, as you might guess, I have much warmer feelings about our Food Bank and about our Cat Charity than I have about ERD and about AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL.

I am far more likely to give to the local charities who do not place me on eternal mailings lists, than to the national/international charities which bombard me with request after request for yet another donation.

Blah to ERD and to AMNESTY

Kudos to the Food Bank and to the Cat Depot.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Oh excrement! (Are we 90% poo?)

I am reading an article in the 1st Dec 2014 edition of the New Yorker about the promising research regarding a new  therapy for persons with Crohn's disease.

Odd as it may seem, this can involve the injection of another person's stool into the colon of a Crohn's sufferer, (fecal transplants, or "fecal microbiota transplantation").

You'll probably be able to find the article on line: "The Excrement Experiment" by Emily Eakin.

This passage caught my attention:

"Science writers love to cite the freakish fact that for every one of our cells we are hosts to ten microbial ones, and nowhere are there as many as in our digestive tracts, which house about a hundred billion bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other tiny creatures. (As one gastroenterologist put it to me, (the author) with only mild exaggeration, 'We are ten percent human and ninety percent poo'"

Humbling ain't it!