After not getting gasoline, I stopped at the grocery store. Sitting at a table stacked with boxes of Girl Scout cookies outside the entrance to Lucky's was a pair of women representing a Girl Scout troop. I asked them how much longer they were going to be there and they said ten minutes. I rushed in and hurriedly finished shopping and was back out in about thirteen minutes, at the latest. They were gone. Cookie! I was in a mood to curse them to have grandchildren born with congenital explosive diarrhea. Where is ambition these days?
I suppose it could be worse. I could be in Japan. Gah, those poor people. Who would have predicted a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, a tsunami, and a multiple-reactor nuclear power plant meltdown? Insanity. What a thing to happen, especially at a quarter of three on a Friday afternoon, although I suppose that in the dead of night would have been worse. Grim. Even most of the writers of the seventies disaster movies would probably have found such a story idea ridiculously implausible. Ten thousand people dead, or missing and feared dead, in a single day? Thousands more without food, shelter, or adequate medical attention? It's almost incomprehensible. The video footage of the disasters is astounding and gut-wrenching, like watching the World Trade Center burn. Stalin was wrong: a million deaths is not a statistic; it's just mind-numbingly horrible. What is worse to contemplate is that, throughout history, people have inflicted such wide scale grief and misery upon one another on purpose. Disasters such as this one make one wonder how that is possible, but it nevertheless has been, and it still is.
The Tokyo exchange has been falling like a rock. The Dow Jones Index has also been dropping for the past two days. The graph goes into vertical declines at the opening bell after each new revelation of bad news from across the Pacific. The seismologists are saying that there could be an aftershock, likely an order of magnitude less violent, coming within the next few days. Of course, a magnitude eight quake is a disaster in its own right and would likely produce another tsunami.
On Thursday, I had a free blood pressure screening test at work around 11:30 in the morning. I was 137/77 and pulse 79. Not too shabby; I studied hard! I was wondering if the tester was a doctor or a nurse. How do you tell these days; she was a late-middle-aged woman in a lab coat and I didn't think to ask. I subsequently found out from Jenni, our HR person here, that she is a nurse. At any rate, I got the spiel to lose a little weight and join the ranks of the right-minded, healthy ubermenchen who do not eat fast food and who exercise regularly. At any rate, she had nothing good to say about fast food. "They take the meat off the floor and wash it in ammonia to kill the bugs." Thank you for being graphic, blunt, and folksy, Dear; I'm still not impressed. The thing is, Lady, those ground-up suppurating cow rectums that have been swept off the floor, mixed with sawdust, and marinated in Mr. Clean, are actually a palatable and convenient source of breakfast, and sometimes supper, for a man who doesn't want the bother and mess of cooking and dishes. Thanks much for the information.
Ah well, so much for my curiosity about my blood pressure. Why do so many doctors, and even nurses, apparently, come across like bureaucrats? I think that there may have been a trace of a smile on her face when we were introduced but after that, she was all business and came across as slightly sour and condescending. Why is it that doctors always feel the need to lecture? You know, I don't mind getting medical advice; that's the only reason I would go to a doctor in the first place, but why does it so often seem that doctors take the state of their patients' health as if it were a personal affront to them to find one whose health is less than Olympian? It's natural to want them to care about giving their patients the best advice that they can, but that doesn't mean that they have to treat their job as if it were their personal crusade to make you into the kind of person they think you should be, and then wear on their faces their condescending distaste at the knowledge that their advice will probably not be scrupulously practiced. I came for information and advice, not a lecture. I am once again reminded that I have an aversion to medical procedures of all kinds.
A question comes to me as I sit here and I wish I had asked her while she was here. What does she do to control her blood pressure? Perhaps she is one of those people who is below 120/80 naturally, but being the age she appeared to be, I would bet otherwise. It occurs to me that most middle-aged people end up on blood pressure regulating medications because their arteries naturally harden no matter what anyone does. Meanwhile, no doctor can predict with any certainty, what will happen between one check up and the next unless the patient is already in the clutches of some pathological condition. Even then, predicting changes in a person's condition are at best, guesses based upon weighted probabilities.
Where am I going with this? People grow old and pick up ailments left and right. They are stricken by diseases and infirmities and accidents. Natural disasters swallow people up like popcorn. Nobody now drawing breath is likely to live to see the achievement of Engineered Negligible Senescence. We are mortal; what matters is what we make of ourselves between the time we are born and the time we die. There are more things to do and be than just extending our lives to the last possible second of duration. Every choice imposes opportunity costs and exposes us to risks. Everybody has their own comfort levels. Everyone has their own ideas of acceptable risks and opportunity costs, and draws their own line on where the point of diminishing returns on the investment in healthy living begins. It is the height of hubris to second guess someone else's life-choices. It is the height of ignorance to presume that everyone's priorities are the same. If I want a cookie, Doctor, I am going to have one. Just do the job I pay you to do and do not presume to order my priorities for me. Physician, heal thyself.