Acting Up on Scott Boulevard

We took a walk on Scott Boulevard used my smartphone for the first time to take selfies with the Sitting Man. Can you believe it? I’ve had that phone for over 7 years and never took a selfie with Sena until then.

It was a sunny day and we walked clear out to the intersection of Scott Boulevard and Rochester Avenue. When we did this last February, we saw a sculpture by Iowa City artist, Eugene Anderson. It’s a striking white abstract called “Family.”

Except it wasn’t there anymore. There was a lot of heavy construction equipment and large excavation holes with construction stakes all pretty close to the concrete pedestal where the sculpture had been mounted.

But it was gone. We remembered talking with the developer not so long ago about the new development planned for the area. He mentioned something about a plan for moving the piece somewhere. I sent him a message asking about it.

The President of the Harvest Preserve Board, Douglas Paul himself, got back to me about the sculpture. This is the same Douglas Paul who created the Sitting Man sculpture. Eugene Anderson’s sculpture is in the shop getting needed repairs. Doug Paul is doing the work on it. The plan for now is to move it to the western entrance of Harvest Preserve. It’ll be near the gate, visible from Scott Boulevard.

Doug Paul told me about his book, Go Figure. You might be interested; I know I am.

Juggling and The Wings of Change!

The other day we were at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area mainly to see how juggling goes outdoors for me. We filmed the event for posterity.

It turns out that “wings” had a lot to do with it. I juggled next to Hilde DeBruyn’s sculpture “Winds of Change.” It’s my favorite sculpture, although the winds of change are dictating that the Iowa City Parks Dept. is again going to accept new sculptures for this year which will replace all of those currently on display.

Wings figured in a different way and you can tell by how I react to the bugs flying around. We picked a nice spring day when all the winged insects were buzzing around in my face.

The level of juggling difficulty goes way up when gnats are zipping up my nose, my ears, my mouth, etc.

Always Wear Safety Glasses When Claw Juggling!

I just got a new eyeglass prescription a few days ago. I figured a year was long enough to wait after my surgery for an acute on chronic retinal detachment of my right eye. My vision in that eye has changed quite a bit, but I think new glasses will help a lot.

My old pair of eyeglasses is pretty beat up. Juggling has not helped. I’ve knocked them off my head a couple of times lately. That has not helped the poor fit.

I’m also practicing a new juggling trick called the claw. The throw and catch techniques are very different. You have to claw catch the balls from the top. I end up slamming them on the floor or off my groin. Juggling takes dedication and sacrifice—but there’s a limit.

I think I need safety equipment. I’ll be getting new eyeglasses, but it might be a good idea to get a pair of safety glasses. I just happen to have an old pair of plastic safety glasses from the time Sena bought me a battery-powered pole saw for tree trimming in the back yard a few years ago. Talk about safety. It takes at least as much agility and coordination to dodge a heavy falling tree limb as it does to dodge a juggling ball.

The claw trick puts a vicious spin on the ball and it can fly anywhere at meteoric speed. Controlling the arc and direction to fit the cascade pattern is quite a challenge. Balls frequently ricochet off each other, which is why I don’t drink my coffee during juggling practice. Practicing the claw reminds me that juggling is great exercise. I’m flying all over the place, lunging, leaning, and ducking.

But I might need a helmet.

How Can You Wash Your Face Without Washing Your Beard?

OK, Sena washed my beard with beard wash the other day and then I hopped in the shower, rinsed off the suds and applied the beard conditioner.

Then I got to thinking about what I’d been doing about washing my face (and necessarily my beard) with a moisturizing soap every day. This was before Sena got a beard care kit for me, and I did the same thing for months prior to that. I used a body and face soap on my face, and my face was covered with hair from my beard.

You can make the argument that you shouldn’t use regular hair shampoos on your beard because it’ll strip away all the oils you need. And you can say that you shouldn’t use beard wash to wash your face. But on the “face” of it, doesn’t that sound silly?

I got on the web and tried to ask it as a question. How can you wash your face without washing your beard? The search yields the message “This site cannot be reached.” I didn’t bother to ask an Artificial Intelligence (AI) nerd about it. I’m sure AI would either give a nonsense answer or blow a fuse.

I was not surprised. There are dozens of face wash products out there for men who have beards. Then the advice is to not use face soap on your beard. And you’re not supposed to use beard wash on your face.

Am I missing something here? I suspect I’m just encountering the usual marketing strategies for selling me something I probably don’t really need.

I found one video with a guy who has a magnificent mustache and beard in which he’s supposed to tell you what he does about cleaning his face. It’s not a YouTube video. I couldn’t get past his simple comment in the first segment of the video in which he says he washes his face once a day. That took a few seconds. Then the video just quit working.

Apparently, what I have to do is simple. I just remove my beard every day before washing my face with a facial soap. Then I put my beard in the bathroom sink and scrub it with beard wash. But I shouldn’t do that more than 2-3 times a week. Next, I reattach my freshly washed beard to my clean face.

So, when do apply my beard oil? I read that it should be applied once, and preferably, twice a day. Sorry, I don’t want beard oil or beard balm on my pillow case, thank you. On the other hand, I noticed that you can buy beard masks. One web site advertises that it’s for protecting your well-groomed beard. The price is $20.

Getting back to the question of how to wash your face without washing your beard and vice versa, I’m pretty sure this is an experiment by extraterrestrials to see if humans are smart enough yet to meet with them so we can teach them how to drive their flying saucers without forever crashing them all over our planet.

When I figure out how to wash my face without washing my beard, I’ll let you know—after I’ve patented the method and I’m ready to market a product I’d be happy to sell you for the low, low price of just $20, on a monthly subscription plan.

Sena Letting Juggling Balls Sleep

Sena has been letting her juggling balls take a nap lately. The reason is that she has been very busy in her garden. The balls are either on the floor where she drops them—or placed neatly on a footstool.

I left my assistant coach to encourage her to practice. Unfortunately, he’s been sleeping on the job.

However, last night she practiced because I could hear balls dropping!

Resident Physicians on Strike at Elmhurst Hospital in New York City

I read the news story about resident physicians at Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York City who went on strike this past Monday about low pay. The story doesn’t mention whether psychiatry residents joined the strike. The story did mention how difficult it was to work there during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

I looked up the report from the consultation-liaison psychiatry department at Elmhurst during that time. Their report and many others were submitted to the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry (ACLP).

The Elmhurst report was submitted April 1, 2020 by Dr. Shruti Tiwari, MD, Professor Consultation-Liaison, Icahn School of Medicine at Elmhurst Hospital Center, Queens, NY.

I read the report in order to figure out what I and my colleagues at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics needed to do in order to respond to psychiatry consultation requests in the setting of the Covid-19 pandemic. In general, we followed the Elmhurst suggestions.

I remember how difficult it was to operationalize the consultation protocol in light of the need to control spread of the Covid-19 infection. We worked with our IT department to use iPad devices with video hookups to evaluate patients in the emergency room. Early on, incredible as it may seem, there was limited supply of PPE for emergency room physicians.

We could do curbside consultations sometimes. Often, when I was on service, I found it difficult to use the iPad because of glitches in the device. In order to reduce the number of consultation team members huddling together, residents and I saw patients separately. Often, delirium with agitation demanded we evaluate the patient in person. There was an adequate supply of PPE with some limitations. Psychiatric consultants didn’t have access to N95 masks because of the shortage of them at the time. We wore surgical masks and face shields as well as gowns and gloves. We were not to see patients in the ICUs other than by video assisted means.

I couldn’t tell from the news story when the residents formed a union. One them was interviewed for the story and said that their immigrant status made working conditions more difficult as well as insufficient pay. The story also mentions that the last time doctors went on strike in Manhattan was in 1990.

It would have been difficult for physicians (including psychiatrists) to go on strike during the pandemic, probably impossible. I’ve written about physician strikes before and have given my opinion about that. I hope things work out for the Elmhurst resident physicians and the patients.

Terry Trueblood Birds Show Off in the Spring

Just about any time of year is a great opportunity to walk the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area. The birds are busy competing for mates and nesting spaces.

The nest boxes for the tree swallows are up. Already, vacancies are few. Their iridescent feathers are dazzling.

The music in the first part of the video is a piece called “There Are Chirping Birdies In My Soul” by Reed Mathis.

In the second part of the video, we let the birds themselves make the music. The birds don’t just show off; they sound off. All the birds are singing—except for the one killdeer for some reason. I managed to save a few clips of them singing their songs. They are in the last minute or so of the YouTube video. The first is the tree swallow. The next is the red-wing blackbird. Last is the song sparrow.

You’ll need to crank the volume to hear them. The tree swallows have a subtle trilling chirp. The male red-winged blackbirds have a distinctive call that probably sounds very familiar to most of us. We also saw and heard a song sparrow, a first for us.

Familiar Backyard Birds and One Sort of Familiar

We were bird watching the other day and saw a few birds we definitely recognized. One of them we puzzled about but finally decided was a sparrow.

The Red-Bellied Woodpecker is familiar. We think it was a male. The Blue Jay is still interesting because when it’s not in the sunlight it looks like what it really is—a blackbird. When we first saw it, the bird looked sort of grayish black. Finally, it turned just right and its feather bent the light into the familiar blue color. The Northern Cardinal is instantly recognizable, especially the male. They like to sit a long time, which is great for getting pictures.

The last bird looks like a sparrow but the tail seems longer and the bill is narrower. The breast is not streaked. It has head feathers which stick up. It resembles a female house sparrow, but it seems a bit larger than that. We looked around the web to try and identify the sparrow-like bird we saw.

We wonder if it might be a Cassin’s Sparrow. Although it would be out of its range since it’s found mostly in the southwest United States, Cassin’s Sparrow has been known to wander.

On the other hand, it’s not listed on the websites we saw featuring sparrow species seen in Iowa.

I think the reason it had a greenish breast was because it was reflecting the surrounding tree leaves. We’re calling it a Cassin’s Sparrow for now, but if you know better, shout it out.

Can anybody help us identify this mystery bird?

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