My New Patient, the Terrorist

As a psychiatrist, I see all kinds of people; couples trying to communicate, Woody-Allenish-neurotics, and the occasional psychotic with delusions of grandeur. Some of my patients are folks for whom La-La Land is Home Sweet Home.

One of my newest patients has occasionally been in the news. Operating under the code name of “The Fruit Fly,” Whoopee bin Yowhzah was apprehended for an attempted act of terrorism on a flight. Although he did not, in fact, have a bomb, he nevertheless set his (rather soiled) underwear on fire. When the smell of his own scorched skivvies did not achieve the desired effect, he then attempted to set fire to the underwear of the other passengers.

When the plane landed in Cheyenne, Wyoming, he was arrested. He proudly announced to anyone who would listen that he was sure he would sent to Guantanamo, but was instead held in the Laramie County Jail. He demanded to be water boarded, which was ignored by the staff, so he stuck his head in the cell toilet and repeatedly flushed it until deputies restrained him.

It was decided that instead of communing a military tribunal, he would be tried before a judge and jury in New York. He was, quite understandably, found “Not guilty by reason of insanity” and committed to a psychiatric hospital.

I first met him as he sat on the edge of his bed. We started out with some small talk, and I asked him to tell me about himself.

“Me? I am a terrorist!” he replied enthusiastically.

“I see,” I replied, “and why did you become a terrorist?” He looked at me as though I was clueless.

“Being a terrorist is a religious calling!” he explained. “God, Himself, called me to be a holy warrior!”

The patient in the next bed sat bolt upright and glared at both of us. “I most certainly did not!” he replied.


The Unintended Consequences of the Parting of the Sea

The Ten Commandments Cecile B. DeMille

The Ten Commandments
Cecile B. DeMille

“Okay, which one of you clowns is Moses?”

I’m kind of busy right now. God told me that I could get water to come forth from this rock.

“You’ve got a real problem with water!”

Not really, God always takes care of us.

“That’s not what I’m talking about. Are you the guy who parted the Red Sea?”

Yes. Pharaoh’s army was pursuing us and through the miracle of the parting of the sea, we escaped and Pharaoh’s army was destroyed.

“Yeah, well Pharaoh’s army is his problem. Frankly I don’t give a hoot about any of them.”

So, then, why did you seek me out?

“Listen, buddy, by parting the Red Sea, it cut off irrigation to some farms and others got extra. We have very stringent water rights treaties, and your little stunt just created havoc. You think figs and dates grow on trees? Well, they do, and those trees need a lot of water. Then there’s grapes; you mess up the grape harvest and I’ll never hear the end of it. Some people get downright nasty when they’re sober. This ain’t no land of milk and honey, you know.”

Actually, that’s where we’re headed.

“Well, good! I want to see you head out into the desert and I’d better not see you again so long as I live. If I start letting people like you mess with the water management, who knows where it will end. Someday there’ll be some place with a goofy name like California trying to get water from some river with an equally goofy name, like Colorado. They’ll thank me for chasing water disrupters like you out into the desert!”

Teenagers – the Unendangered Species

flapperThe first and foremost duty of teenagers is to drive their parents crazy.

For my grandparents it was Swing Music and flappers.

My parents, although busy with World War 2 still made time for Big Band Music and Zoot Suits.

My generation – Rock and Roll, long hair, and wasn’t there some weird cigarette or something? Ummm, I like forget, man.

Where was I? Oh yeah.

While today’s music does make me twitch, for the most part, youth today is into passivity.

“Where are you?”

“In my room.”

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing!” and it’s the absolute truth!

Video games. Ubiquitous tablets. Smart phones. I’ve had an entire conversation with my daughter, in which her participation was limited to, “Are you talking to me?” and she doesn’t even know who Robert De Niro is!

As near as I can tell, teenagers don’t date – they text; if your thumbs get permanently attached to the phone, it means you’re going steady or something. I guess I should be grateful since this should lower the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

I guess we can safely say that today’s teenagers are on track. Why don’t I fell like celebrating?

Police Military Equipment

swatThere’s been a lot of coverage in the news about police departments getting surplus military equipment from the federal government. Now I understand police work is a tough job and there are bad people out there, but I don’t think it’s fair that only the police get the leftover equipment. The Los Angeles school district not only has an armored vehicle but also grenade launchers.

I want some, too.

The first thing I want is one of those stainless steel milk dispensers used in y military dining facilities that get milk to that just right, perfect, wonderful temperature for cold milk.

Then, bring on the chocolate chip cookies!

Oh, and while you’re at it, add a soft-serve ice cream dispenser.

Next I want one of those cots that we all had to sleep on in every base of every type throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. That way, if anyone decides to visit, and I don’t want them to stay too long, I make up the cot. With such a lumpy, squeaky, miserable place to sleep, unwanted guests would stay one night – if they last that long.

With all the media coverage of the heavily armored vehicles, I’ve tried to think of some type of nifty high-tech surplus conveyance that I’d like. Unfortunately, having served, I know they all guzzle fuel like Uncle Louie at ano-host bar. I think they average about twenty-eight gallons to the mile (not miles to the gallon) and need about a hundred thousand hours of maintenance for every hour you drive. Besides, based on personal experience I know they’re terribly noisy and no matter how big they are on the outside, the inside is cramped, uncomfortable and smell bad.

So, on second thought, I’ll pass.

Send the milk coolers and chocolate chip cookies to the police departments – maybe it’ll put them in a better mood.

The Changing Meaning of Music

THE Grateful Dead

THE Grateful Dead

As a young man, I sang along with Alice Cooper’s, “I’m Eighteen (and I Like it!)” – back when I was only seventeen! Can you believe it?

My how things change. Now, when I sing “When I’m Sixty-four” the phrase “many years from now” is figurative, not literal.

I don’t want to admit that I’ve changed; I want the music to change.

Here (of course) are a few suggestions:

Huey Lewis and the News –”I want a new drug, like I saw on TV.

They said to ask my doctor if, it was right for me.”

The Doors- “Hello, I love you, can you tell me my name?”

Roy Orbison- “There she was, with her walker on my street.”

Gerry and the Pacemakers – enough said.

The Who – “Hope I die before I get old,


Be Upbeat on 9/11

I’ve promised to be upbeat, and wherever possible, funny, but September 11 is a bit of a challenge. Nevertheless, here goes –

  • After the attack, Americans buried their dead, grieved, rebuilt, adjusted, and moved on.
  • No matter what anyone does, no matter how insane or horrible, God’s will is inviolable, and those bent on evil will find that their efforts ultimately fit into God’s plan. There’s a difference between doing evil while shouting “God is great!” and kneeling humbly before God’s greatness.
  • Although only about 2% of Americans are wearing the “cloth of our country” –  I can tell you that I’ve personally seen some of the finest young men and women who ever lived wearing the uniform. More importantly I can sleep peacefully knowing that these are our future leaders, and America’s future is in good hands.
  • Among other nations, I’ve seen commitment to the same core values we hold dear. Politics and diplomacy being what they are, I won’t name names, because it may actually work against them.

Years ago, Bob Townsend advised us that if you found out how to correct pollution for one dollar a state, the worst thing you could do would be to announce your discovery. It’s a damn poor bureaucrat who can’t attack an idea so that even its sponsor is happy to see it dead and buried. The way to succeed is to solve the problem state-by-state and only after it’s done, announce your discovery.

  •  Nevertheless be grateful for those who are “fighting the good fight” by words or deeds. Don’t forget that taking in and caring for refugees is as difficult as headline grabbing actions.

While I may not have shared any chuckles today, there’s a lot to think about that is uplifting and inspirational.

What if Heaven and Hell Were the Same?

I had a dream in which I visited heaven. As I approached, an angel took me by the hand and acted as my guide, explaining everything that I was seeing.

We walked by – I guess you would call it a meadow, but it was covered with clouds rather than grass. I saw a man in the center, surrounded by hundreds of other people.

“During his life,” the angel explained, “that man was a nurse. Those people around him are the patients he served and the families he consoled.”

In the next meadow I saw a woman in the center of a crowd. “She was a firefighter,” the angel explained, “and those are the people she helped.”

“Not every patient the nurse cared for lived, nor did every person for whom the firefighter responded. The celebration is that someone cared; someone tried.”

We turned a corner and walked a very long way; everything looked the same, but it felt different – colder. I saw a man surrounded by hundreds of others who were all silent and just staring at him.

“This man believed that he had an intimate understanding of God’s will, and slaughtered those who did not share his belief. Now, and for eternity, he will be surrounded by their anguish and pain.

“You were all told, ‘What you sow, also shall you reap.’ If you sow love or if you sow hatred, be prepared to spend eternity with it.”

The angel looked at me kindly. “I know it’s a lot to absorb. You’ve seen enough to understand – maybe too much. Go home.”

With that I awoke in my own bed.