Is There A Pill For Stupid?

I like shopping at Hobby Lobby. I have spent many thousands of dollars there over the years and I will probably continue to do so.

I also respect an individual’s right to stand up for what they believe in, even if I don’t agree with their point of view. Further, I do not believe the government should have it’s hand in religion or that religion should have any part in government. The details of that are another post for another time.

However, I have been shocked, hurt, and upset by many of the comments I have seen posted about the Supreme Court ruling today. The ruling itself, silly as it is, does not bother me so much as these responses from the public.

And so I ask:

For everyone lauding this as a win for religious freedom, when was the last time you personally offered assistance, love, and acceptance to an unwed mother? You haven’t? Then YOU are part of the problem here. YOU are part of the reason women choose to abort a baby rather than face the ridicule and scorn of carrying that baby to term. Sex happens, forced or consensual. You have not done a very good job stopping that over the centuries…and you won’t.

Plan B is available over the counter without a prescription for very little cost. This ruling is going to do nothing to limit access to that.

For a good lay discussion about IUDs, read this article on IUDs from the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. While IUDs affect the lining of the uterus there is no proof that it causes “abortions”. It acts primarily by blocking sperm from reaching an egg.

But in the end, this is not just about possible abortifacients. This is on a larger level about access to any contraception which many religious groups consider sinful and for some women is life saving. I deal with this in real life every day in my practice. I can name dozens of situations where birth control has prevented suffering, prevented surgeries, and yes…saved lives. I have many who under current insurance coverage cannot afford contraception for these needs. There are even more who cannot afford it just to prevent pregnancy so they rely on Plan B.

You really want to limit abortions? Prevent pregnancy by providing contraception.

What really bothers me, though, is that this has become a question of morality. Who are any of us to stand in judgement over someone, not knowing the details of their circumstances? Wasn’t that the point Christ made when he said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?”

Now, let’s talk about sin.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument, though I feel otherwise, that taking birth control for abortion or for pregnancy prevention is a sin. Is access to birth control the sin? Must we limit all access to it because it might be used by someone for birth control even though it has many other uses (like prevention of endometrial cancer in polycystic ovarian disease)? Or is actually taking the birth control with the intent to prevent pregnancy or cause an abortion the sin? Where is the line drawn? What if it was decided that eating sunflower seeds was sinful? Is being a sunflower farmer sinful since he is providing access? Some of those seeds might be eaten by someone, you know. Or is the individual eating the sunflower seeds the one sinning?

Must we take away a woman’s right to decide what is right or wrong in her own circumstances? Is she so stupid that she cannot do that for herself? Is it necessary to protect her from the consequences of her own decisions?

And so I leave you with this:

“Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex.” Mahatma Gandhi

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WIFI World

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The WIFI Phenomenon

I started off my trip not knowing what to expect from an Internet access standpoint. Five years ago, when I did my last international trip, humanity really didn’t have smart phones to such a degree. Access was a mute point back then. I feel so old!

On this trip, some of the hotels had no access. Some had free access in the rooms. Some charged for access. And some, interestingly, had free access but only in the lobby.

Surprisingly, the ones with free access only in the lobby had a carnival-like atmosphere and were the most fun.

Perhaps it was the proximity to the bar?

At first, I was dubious and angry. Why would you do that, only providing access in the lobby? Damn cheapskates! But then, as I watched the human interaction, it was clear this was brilliant!

Even though people had their heads buried in their electronic devices, they were still forced to interact with each other. If someone from your tour group was also in the designated space, you could not just walk past and not acknowledge them. You had to wave or say hello. Even those small gestures created a layer of intimacy that we might not otherwise have developed. You are more likely to confide in someone who has said hi and smiled at you three or four times, even in passing, than someone who has only done it once.

Further, you are a heck of a lot more likely to buy a coffee or a beer to consume while WIFIing which means more income and alcohol means freer socializing.

The desire for Internet access is a little bit like cutting. The tension builds up until finally you engage in the behavior, then sweet release until the tension starts to build again. Some may not appreciate the analogy but it is true. The lobby arrangement allowed the release of tension, which would have ended up distracting after a point, while still providing a forced break from devices, which is also necessary for brain vacations.

Which then begs the question, how much Internet does one need?

Texting prevents necessary human interaction. It is also dang convenient and fun. So what to do?

I often recommend device vacations for kids/teens when I am doing an adolescent well visit in the office. When we have that much access to each other, it wears you down. I have young patients who are trying to answer texts in the office during our visits. They find it difficult to maintain eye contact. Conversation is punctuated by what is going on with their device. When I ask them to put it away, they get a wild, lost look in their eye. Adults need this break, too!

Odious or Odiferous Body Odor

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One of the things about being in Europe is the prevalence of body odor.

Seriously.

Particularly in the heat of Rome.

Prevention of body odor with the use of antiperspirants is a relatively new thing given the history of mankind. So body odor in the past was likely even more prevalent. I have heard all sorts of arguments to the contrary, but really folks, nothing beats modern chemistry (aka sticks of antiperspirants).

Why is body oder so taboo now?

Is it really that unpleasant, or are we just conditioned to believe that it is in order to sell toiletry items? Are we merely pawns in a diabolical marketing scheme?

Is body odor something that we would stop smelling and stop noticing if it were more ubiquitous?

Can body odor be erotic? I have noticed that certain body odors are less offensive than others, particularly if they are emanating from a big hunk of a sexy guy. Why is that? Is pungent body odor a part of pheromone attraction and we are potentially missing out on a good match by eliminating odors?

These are the things that I think about as I am circling the Roman Colosseum.

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Thoughts On A Bidet

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Bidets creep me out.

I don’t like looking at them and I certainly don’t want to touch one. I find that I am unable to treat them with the uninterested indifference that I am able to approach other inherently disgusting things…like toilets and maxi pads. Why do they gross me out so thoroughly and other things do not? Perhaps because they are necessities and a bidet is not?

Or is it?

My dislike has led me to never, ever have the desire to try one.

I just don’t understand the appeal.

And yet, they have been in every single hotel in Italy that I have slept in, which seems to imply that washing one’s butt is wildly popular here.

And so, I wonder, has anyone out there actually tried one? And if so, what did you think?

The Art of Conversation

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I am traveling with a friend of mine all over Europe in a big bus.

Yes, I left the husband at home with the kids. Can’t really have fun if either of them is around, you know?

So we have been on one of the many tours of Europe that you can do with a group and a tour guide. This helps you get from point A to point B and lets you cut in line at the Eiffel Tower and the Vatican which leaves more time for sightseeing and photography.

However, when you are touring Europe with a group and are forced to sit at tables with a new group of strangers at each meal, having someone with you that is good at making conversation is essential.

Personally, I am not good at conversation at all unless I am in the office playing the role of doctor. I love talking to people in that setting. They generally welcome me prying into their lives. Outside of that box, however, I don’t know how much people want me nosing around in their business and I am not really sure that I want them nosing around in mine.

One of the particularly difficult questions for me on these types of tours is “What do you do?”

I try the “I am in healthcare line,” but no one is OK with that answer. If I say that I am a physician, suddenly everyone is either self conscious because they feel I am judging them, or they start asking me about what I think about the Affordable Care Act or if I agree with dear old Aunt Editha’s treatment for stroke last year.

So, my friend has done a marvelous job of deflecting the attention away from me, even if she is not aware of what she is doing. For this, I am very, very grateful.

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At the Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy.

Get a Room, Why Doncha?

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So today, I am in Venice. At first, I was not terribly impressed. It was raining and dreary. Where was this fabulous city of magic?

Then, the sun came out.

Gondola ride. Music and singing. Ancient buildings. Gorgeous colors.

Romance.

When I was a teenager, I had a fascination with The Phantom of the Opera, much like so many other girls. I loved the music and mystery, the darkness… the sensuality and desire.

As I was bullied so thoroughly growing up, I was considered one of the untouchables at school. I had no friends but what I did have was a very active, though unfulfilling, fantasy life. I desired friends so strongly that I could taste it. I wanted to be loved and desired above anything else. Each year I wanted a homecoming mum, Valentine roses, and a date to prom, but none of these things ever came about.

I have mentioned before that my father had polio as a kid. It left him crippled and deformed. Through my own experiences I was able to understand that even though I hated him, he and the Phantom and anyone with some sort of atypical appearance ALL had the same desire for love and passion and acceptance as I did.

This is hard for a lot of people to understand. We all have a tendency to get lost in appearances. Our subconscious silently judges who “deserves” love and who does not. We forget about this being such a basic human need and stop seeing it as a right.

I found myself doing this very thing today as I watched an overweight, greasy haired couple make out in front of me in Venice. Revulsion. How dare you do this in front of me and the world!

Then, I remembered.

Love is not just for the beautiful. Love itself is the beauty. It is as beautiful for that couple as it would be for some young, hunky Italian man and his dark haired, dark eyed size 2 girlfriend with big boobs and a nice tan (NOT me, as it turns out).

I don’t care who you are, if you are going to start groping, please… maybe get a room, huh?

Quick! Hide That Passport.

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I am embarrassed to be an American today. We are a cancer on the world. I have witnessed interactions between Americans and the native French and Swiss folks that make me want to hide my passport.

No wonder the French get the reputation for being ugly. They have every damn right to do so when they are constantly invaded by arrogant Americans who assume the whole world should operate exactly as they believe it should, instead of conforming to local norms.

When you are a guest in someone’s house, you behave as such. Why does that not extend to a foreign country people? Why do Americans not research a little bit about customs and language of the places they visit instead of going in, guns blazing, expecting everyone to conform to your own expectations?

I am at risk for turning this into a rant. Granted, not everyone is a moron when they travel, and I am constantly learning new things as I go, but sometimes the attitudes I see displayed are despicable.

Even more seriously, McDonalds is another cancer that has spread everywhere. Absolutely no country is safe. It must be cut out or it will kill us all! I am willing to hear ideas on how to accomplish this.

Above is Scorch enjoying the view at dinner, overlooking the Chapel Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland. Below, Scorch is chowing down on the fondu. Good dragon!

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It Mattered To Me

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Seven years ago a waiter at a restaurant in Paris, the L’ Etoile 1903, told me that I was beautiful. It was something in my eyes, he said.

Likely, it was the fact that my eyes were framed in black…from my glasses…that made them stand out. It matched my little black dress.

Not only did I tip him very, very well…which was probably why he said that in the first place…but I went back for dinner again the next night.

Sadly, that particular waiter was not working that night. Dang it.

I say this to point out the power of kind words. It did not cost this man time, great effort, or money to say something nice which ended up making my trip downright magical. Someone in Paris thinks I am beautiful and is willing to say so in front of my husband?!?!?? Woohoo! Sure, maybe it was not genuine. I don’t care! It still made me feel special.

So tonight, I went back again.

It is always risky revisiting places that hold such power in your heart. What if the food sucks and the service is awful? Will that make the first memory less magical?Do I want to take the risk?

As it turns out, my special waiter was still there. He had been waiting for me all of this time. We are going to spend a wild night making passionate love in his swanky apartment here in Paris and then we will run away to the French countryside where we will live happily ever after…

Meh.

Who am I kidding?

The food was good, but it was a different menu, which was disappointing. The service was ok but no familiar faces.

Off to Lucerne, Switzerland in the morning!

In the meantime, here are some fun pictures of Scorch riding the Metro and sight-sightseeing.

Until next time, Paris!

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Introduction to French, 101

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This morning I crossed the channel to France and stopped to eat at the equivalent of a truck stop in the US. It was not my fault. The tour guide picked it.

I know rudimentary French, certainly enough to get by, but when a French person is staring me down across the counter (even if they are smiling) poof! Completely gone…all knowledge, sense, and reason. I am left struggling over how to communicate that I want to have two of the items listed as #3 on the menu. Good grief!

Why am I so intimidated? These are nice people!

It struck me that it has been almost five years since I have had a vacation. I am RUSTY!

The last time I got out of the country was a trip to Switzerland when I was pregnant with my son. I carried a huge backpack and took the trains all over the country… Saint Moritz, Lucerne, Zurich, Geneva, and Zermatt. I climbed to the top of the Klein Matterhorn, where the air is so thin even healthy, non-pregnant people have issues. I ate unpasteurized cheese. I drank lots of coffee. I probably even ate sushi somewhere. I was insane, really.

I have a lot of photos of potties from that trip. When you are pregnant and overseas, that is pretty much all you care about. Where is the next toilet so I don’t pee myself?

The other memorable thing was a Texas themed restaurant in Zermatt that featured horse as an entree. Let me repeat that. Horse. I can assure you, anyone that might be inclined to wonder, Texans do not eat horse. They eat a lot of other crap, but not horse. It is illegal to sell horse for consumption in the US.

Anyway, above is Scorch getting the run down on Kensington Palace from a tourist on a bus tour and then below he is sneaking up on the palace looking to get affection from Prince George (the guards were not amused)…

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