I play bridge. My bridge protocol is patterned after Charles Goren.  The grand high exalted mystic ruler of the bridge table. 

Recently Donna has been playing serious bridge.  Duplicate bridge.  With other women.   I am told Goren is passé.  “You cannot play Goren.”   Instead of creative bidding a la Goren, everyone must disclose conventions, bidding strategy and the content of their hands if and when asked.  All players are encouraged to ask “what does that mean” when a bid is made.  And the opponent must explain in detail. 

Last week, Donna and I were in Florida.  Visiting Donna’s sister and her husband.   Bob and I are always pards against Donna and Carol.  Bob is inspired by Goren as well.  And we’ve never lost a match in 44 years.        

Sooooo we’re playing bridge.  A hand is dealt.  I bid a club and Bob catapults to 6 no trump.   Donna says “you can’t do that.”  Huh?  I get a glare and a question  “What does ‘six no trump’ mean?”  Heck if I know.  My brother-in-law is counting points.  He smiles.  Nods.  He obviously has a good hand.  But we are told that’s “not the way to play.  You have to communicate your hand.”   “Why?” I ask politely.  And I’m told that everyone must know what an opponent’s bid means.  I offer that we might as well just lay our cards down and then bid.  With that we are lectured that if we ever “played that way” with “real” bridge players, we would be drummed out and maybe pummeled (especially by the women).  Bob and I looked at each other.  Smiled.  Eyes narrow . . . . 

Bob and I have signed up for a duplicate bridge tournament next week. . . . . 

Castor Oil

I know my prior post was mildly controversial.  The problem is – everyone is angry today.  And partisan.  Many cannot see, understand or appreciate the merit of anyone else’s position or political persuasion.  My mind is made up. . . .  I’m angry as well.  Thus my observation includes – me.

I like you question – intellectually and morally – those who don’t think as I do.  How can they possibly. . . .  And of course some will question me in that regard.  How can Petersen think like he does . . . . This whole political anger thing is a disease. Which can be fatal.

If you have a school board in a town of 150 people that can’t get along – how do you expect to have people get along on a national, state or even city-wide basis?  Isn’t there enough anger in the world?   Every faction, country, party, religion, sect and individual – is right.  No one listens to anyone else.      

I’m sure if Abraham Lincoln was running  for President today, he would lose.  “Oh he has a high-pitched voice.”  He’s homely.”  “He’s not telegenic.”   Hillary would lie about him.  Trump would ridicule him.  Sanders would condemn him.   Sometimes an individual and a country need castor oil.  Nobody likes it but it helps.  What we don’t need is poison.     

My Mind is Made Up

My mind is made up.  Don’t confuse me with the facts.”  So goes the old saying.  To many, politics is an absolute.  There is no discussion.

Pundits say most Democrats will vote for Hillary though she lies, cheats and may (should?) end up in prison.  Many Republicans would vote for Trump regardless of his craziness, despicable comments and scary volatility.  These people don’t care.    

These are people who would rather vote for (choose – the most evil person in history) than someone of a different party.   My mind is made up.  Don’t confuse me . . . . . What does this say about America?  What does this say about the breathtakingly uneducated  souls who would vote for these two (some of whom may be reading this)?   

Remember the book The Righteous Mind? (See 7/16/14).   No amount of evidence, education or clarity will change some people’s minds.   Ideology is everything.  They are hardwired and don’t know it.  My mind is made up. . . .  

But wait.  Could it be?  An arguably honorable person might run for President?   Michael Bloomberg?  As an independent?  Maybe there is hope for America.   Just maybe.  He is definitely not perfect.  But he is not a criminal or a jerk.   To be continued. . . .      

A Harbinger of Spring?

It was about -7 (F) on the thermometer this morning (-20 wind chill) when I got up. I had coffee, some cereal and drove off in shorts and a jacket – in the dark – to the local Fitness Center.  I groaned through a couple of sit ups and a few minutes on the bike and came home for some jelly donuts. I pulled in the driveway and walk back to the curb to get our recycling bin.  The grey fingers of dawn were struggling to come alive. I’m pulling the bin up the driveway and I see something on the lawn. I walk over and pick it up.  It is a golf ball. A Titleist “range” ball.  Brand new.  How it got there – I have not a clue.  I have never found a golf ball on my lawn before.  

I gazed up at the sky.  A faint shade of blue.  Then at the ball.  And I concluded that this “find” has to be a harbinger of spring – which I am very much anticipating.  I mean why wait for a %#&*!@ groundhog. . . .
                                                                                                                                                I walked in the house – Donna was at the kitchen table finishing breakfast. “I found something” I said.   Hold out your hand.” And she did.   Fortunately Donna has known me long enough to know that I’m not going to drop a worm or cricket or mouse in her palm – so she accepted the ball from my closed fist.   A harbinger of spring” I said.   She inspected the ball, smiled and peered out at the thermometer.  “Fat chance” she said.  


40 Minutes to Glory

On December 10th of last year, I talked about a primo rice and beans dish that I concocted using Rice Select Royal Blend rice. Well, last night I did it again. Big time. . . . .

I volunteered (as I frequently do on weekends) to make dinner. I drove to Fresh Market, walked in and stood. My eyes narrowed. I rubbed my chin.  Drooled.  And then the lights flickered and went on.  I got the fixings and went home to boldly go where no man had gone before.

I took a cup of Rice Select Royal Blend (a unique combo of Texmati, white, brown, wild and red rice) and got it going in a pot of water (for rice, I sometimes use chicken stock which can be flavorful – but salty).  In a saucepan, I chopped some organic carrots; washed and sliced some Shiitake mushrooms (Shiitake and Asian mushrooms are healthier); diced an acorn squash; and chopped a sweet onion. I sautéed the mix on low heat in the usual drench of olive oil. I shook on some pepper, turmeric and Sunny Spain Seasoning.  Stirring frequently.   With a few minutes left, I spooned on some honey — to caramelize.

The “side” was a wild Atlantic salmon covered in olive oil, turmeric, pepper and more Sunny Spain seasoning.  Dinner was finito in about 40 minutes.  We sat, listening to Gato Barbieri, sipping Liberty School merlot and dining on a dish that I have absolutely no idea what to call. . . . .

Killing Lincoln

I just finished Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Wow! Reading this book was like reading a Tom Clancy thriller.   The reader is literally on the front lines of the Civil War – and standing in silent witness in the wings of the President’s private box for the chilling and tragic denouement that took place at Ford’s Theater on Good Friday, April 14, 1865.  A few nitpicky critics pointed out that there were four minor inaccuracies and two typeset errors in the first edition.  These were corrected in subsequent printings.   Killing Lincoln has sold over one million copies and soared to number 2 on the New York Times bestseller list for non-fiction.  It remained for weeks as number 1 – on the New York Times E-Book non-fiction list.

I had asked for this book for Christmas – and Santa Claus did not disappoint.  If you want a truly fascinating read — that will grip you from start to finish — get – and read – Killing Lincoln.  It is truly five star.  And the profits go to charity.        


Here’s a PSA (“public service announcement“) on PSA (“prostate specific antigen“). 

My PSA has been stable – hovering around 2.0 for years.  Under 4.0 is considered “normal” — though “velocity” (short term upward change) is sometimes a sign of prostate cancer.   A few years ago, my PSA went to 4.0 then 6.0 within about 18 months.  I saw a great doc at the University of Chicago who recommended a biopsy.     The biopsy took 16 “cores.”   It came back negative.   Within a year my PSA number went from 6.0 to 8.0 to 10+.  Ouch. . . .   I then had an MRI of the prostate – combined with another biopsy.    The MRI with biopsy is supposedly 98%+ accurate.  It all came back negative.  Pfew (so far). . . .

The doc then advised that I go on a regimen of Advil (6/day for 3 weeks).  If the rise in PSA was due to inflammation (which is a possibility), this protocol would reduce the PSA level.    I did – and PSA went down to 8.0 where it has remained.

The doc says it may be chronic inflammation.   There are no other symptoms (no bumps, nodes or enlargement).   A rise (even dramatic) in PSA does not necessarily mean prostate cancer.  In fact, PSA testing has been recently discussed and – in some cases – discouraged. 

For men who live to be 80 – something like 80% will have cancer cells in the prostate.    Yet fewer than 10% will die of prostate cancer (which in many cases is slow-growing).  But NEVER play doctor.  Always see your urologist if your PSA inches upward . . . . .

There was a great article from the Wall Street Journal which relates to aspirin therapy in prostate cancer situations.  Regular aspirin use may lower risk of advanced prostate cancer.  Check out —  

A Light Show

When we blink our eyes closed, we are usually greeted by an assortment of exploding stars, shapes and colors.  When head hits the pillow and it’s dark, there can be a veritable light show when our eyes close.   The phrase “seeing stars” from a bump on the head or being dizzy refers to these closed eye light phenomenon.  The illuminations you see – when there is no light – are called “phosphenes.”  The term comes from the Greek “phos” (light) and “phainein” (to show). 

When people are deprived of light for long periods of time, phosphenes occur in vision as well — when eyes are open.  Thus phosphenes used to be called “the prisoner’s cinema.”  People who are blind will sometimes press or rub their eyes to stimulate phosphenes (which they can “see”).   While phosphenes have been around as long as the human condition, they were first reported in 1819 by Bohemian physiologist Johannes Purkinje.  Benjamin Franklin was reported to have used an electrical stimulation to cause a closed-eye spectral. 

Trouble sleeping?   Apart from checking out March 19, 2012, just close your eyes and watch the unfolding kaleidoscope of phosphenes. You’ll be asleep in no time.