Saturday, June 22, 2013


I've been working in Hong Kong for the past week and -- just for the record -- I've been getting more adventurous when it comes to ordering off the menu.  Yesterday at lunch, for example, I decided to branch out and try one of the food stalls at Hong Kong Science Park.  The menu was all in Chinese, so I had to rely on the man behind the counter to translate for me.

Food Stall Employee:  Hi there, are you hungry for lunch?
Me:  You bet.  What's the special today?
Food Stall Employee:  It's something very wonderful.  You'll love it.  Let me show you. (He smiles, dips a pair of tongs into a cauldron of bubbling water and pulls out a hermetically sealed plastic pouch).
Me:  What is that?
Food Stall Employee:  Crocodile Stew with Fresh Lotus Leaves.
Me:  See ya later, alligator ...!

Today I found a restaurant in Kowloon that makes chicken salad with a twist ... of the neck, that is.  They serve the chicken head alongside a garnish of skin on a plate of dark, leafy greens.  I was too chicken to order it ...!

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Whistling Dixie, a local vigilante who made the scene at 7th and Montana this morning intent on dispensing his own brand of justice.  The fun began when two women pulled in front of Our Favorite Starbucks in an Audi SUV.  They left the vehicle in the bus lane, blocking a bus stop, for nearly 20-minutes while they ordered their lattes, then sat there shooting the breeze -- illegally parked -- for what seemed like an eternity.  Little did they know, the Whistling Dixie was lurking nearby and when a bus had to maneuver around them, he went ballistic.  He ran up to the SUV, tooted a whistle that hung around his neck and began screaming at the top of his lungs.  "Get the hell out of here," he shouted, "Don't you realize you're in a bus zone?!?  Just because you live North of Montana you think your shit doesn't stink!  Well, I'm here to tell you it does.  Go on, move it ... MOVE IT!!!"  He shook a cane at them to emphasize his point.  "Sheesh," I said, "Where does he think he is, the Whistle Stop Cafe?"  The women pulled away faster than you can say 'psycho.'  As for the Whistling Dixie, he was last seen patrolling the streets South of Montana in search of Jaywalkers ...!

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Last week was difficult for my father.  He has always had bad allergies, especially in the Spring, and last week they started kicking-in with a vengeance.  The new rehab center where my father is at was quick to recognize the problem but, as usual, didn't listen to my mother when she repeatedly warned them that allergy medications like Benedryl have always knocked him out, especially in combination with everything else he has been taking.  For this reason, he only takes Benedryl sparingly -- half a dosage every now and then.  True to form, the rehab center ignored my mother, loading my father up with a full dosage of Benedryl combined with other over-the-counter allergy medications and the usual cocktail of pills I can't pronounce.  The result was predictable:  My father was knocked out for most of the week, while my mother -- increasingly alarmed -- kept trying to find out how much Benedryl they were giving him.  Given his previous momentum, it seemed logical to assume that the Benedryl, as predicted, was the culprit.  The neurologist at the rehab center denied that the medication was the problem -- afterall, they're the ones that recommended it -- and instead attributed my father's sudden lethargy to his Parkinson's.  Anyone who had seen my father before the Benedryl would know the neurologist was wrong.  Distressed, my mother called the neurosurgeon who operated on my father to begin with (yes, the one whose botched surgery put him where he is today) to get his feedback.  The neurosurgeon immediately suspected the medication was the culprit and asked my mother to request a complete schedule of all the medication my father was on.  If you can believe it, the rehab center refused to release the list even after my mother's call and the doctor's request.  We eventually got it, but only after some faxes and phone calls went back and forth.  It immediately became clear that my father was being over medicated.  They stopped the Benedryl and -- what a surprise -- he is once again coming back to us, becoming more alert by the day.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that -- if you can believe it -- the rehab center just told us that since my father was 'unresponsive' for much of the week, they're inclined to recommend he be moved to a nursing home.  He's only 67-years-old;  the reason he was unresponsive was because the rehab center doped him up.  There's still every chance, given the right therapies, he can recover, but the system is working against him.  Let's face it, the rehab center isn't fooling anyone.  They get more money from insurance at the beginning of a patient's stay than they do after a few weeks have gone by, and my father has been there for a few weeks now.  They are financially incentivized to move him out, regardless of where he is at in terms of his recovery.  Truth be told, we got mixed reviews about this place even before my father went there:  Some friends of the family had a nightmarish experience there, but a good friend of my father's was one of their 'miracle' patients and is on their board of directors.  If I combine what they put my parents through last week with some other problems -- other requests for the list of medications that went ignored, changing dosages without informing my mother, dinner(s) where they forgot to give my father a main course, a refusal to shave him -- I'm left to conclude the worst.  They've taken a meat grinder approach to patient care ... and why not?  The faster they grind, the more money they get.