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Pondering the Imponderables of National Security Leaks and Condiments

There are times when try as we might the deepest secrets of national security are made know.  Such was the case last week when the wife of Britain’s MI-16 spy service posted photos of the reclusive spymaster in his Speedo on a beach on her Facebook.com page.  Needless to say it is not good when every potential and enemy sees their enemy in such a revealing garment which most men who are not young good looking world class swimmers should never be seen in public in.  So the dear wife of the British spymaster has blown his cover in a big way.  Now Al Qaida will be staking out Brighton Beach or the French Riviera for a chance to schwack him, or at least give him an atomic wedgie as they no longer need simply to see his face but now know what the rest of his body looks like.

Unfortunately there was a security breach in Padre Steve’s household as the Abby Normal Abbess aka “Judy the Snitch” revealed something that the government has been concealing from you for many years.   Of course she could not help herself in being a snitch since she was the youngest child in her family, save her Pug Susie.  Since the damage to yours and mine national security cannot be undone now that she has posted for the world to see, I am posting the link to her article in hopes that the knowledge of the leak and the official explanation from Padre Steve will defuse this crisis.  The link is here:

http://abbeynormalabbess.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/steve-ketchup-and-national-security/

Now the official explanation:  Catsup packets and other condiments are indeed to reserve currency in case of a meltdown in the world economy.  Since many in the world are fearful of a worst case scenarios like the Great Depression or the hyper-inflation period of the Weimar Republic the world leaders decided that condiment packets that are found in fast food restaurants from Atlanta to Zagreb would do in a pinch.  Now this has not been announced anywhere and will not be officially as it could cause a rush on catsup futures which would further destabilize the already fragile world economy as McDonalds, Burger King and other fast food giants would be forced to close stores and lay off employees to find the money to keep the catsup bins stocked.

For those that don’t know the Germans have ascribed a monetary value to catsup and other condiment packets.  Back in the old days if you went to a fast food place or an Imbiss (a little snack bar often found in small towns) you would pay 5 pfennings for a packet of catsup.  Today with the advent of the Euro the last time I was there they cost 10 Euro Cents, which is about 14-15 US cents at recent exchange rates.  Some US fast food franchises now charge for more than the two or three packets that they might normally give you.  I found this out when I looked in the bag with my “to go” order and seeing that there were not enough to have extra to add to my stockpile, I asked for more and was told that it would be an additional charge.  Knowing what I know I paid for the extra.  Many fast food restaurants now have copied what Wendy’s has done for many years and instead of giving you packets of catsup as a “dine-in” customer now supply a pumping station to the catsup tank located below the store, which a couple of times month a tanker truck filled with catsup pulls up to about 0300, or 3 AM and fills up the secret tank.  This is one reason McDonalds is replacing its older buildings, it is cheaper to build a new building with the tank than renovate.  It also provides them cover of plausible deniability should people ask when the parking lot is ripped up and a tank is being installed.  These catsup tankers are unmarked for the reason that the restaurants and the government do not want you to know what is really going on.  Most of these are owned by the Heinz conglomerate whose owner; Teresa Heinz Kerry is married to a member of the US Senate and former Presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry.  By doing this the government and the restaurants are allowing themselves to stockpile catsup packets for the coming time when they will be needed.

Now you probably wonder how you can verify what I am saying.  If you have a friend or family member in the military or employed by a Federal or State law enforcement agency and visit their home or ride in their car, look for their secret stash.  After reading what Judy wrote on her blog, Judy’s cousin Diana recalled a visit to her daughter Becki who is a senior Law Enforcement official in a Federal Government agency with an astronomically high security clearance. Becki also has a drawer full of catsup and other condiment packets.  The light went on for Diana and she knew that indeed that Judy had unearthed a dark secret.

I’m sure that this post will also give the Bible prophecy addicts something new to ponder in relationship to the scriptures which talk about in the end times a bar of gold will buy a loaf of bread and stuff like that.  It is likely now that this is out there that books like The Late Great Planet Earth and parts of The Left Behind series will have to be re-written.

Additionally survivalists and militia movement members who have long suspected a government conspiracy will begin to stockpile catsup packets and begin to hijack restaurant re-supply trucks to make off with cases of catsup and other condiments and even Al Qaida my start targeting Heinz, Hunts and Del Monte catsup plants around the country seeking yet another way to undermine US and world economic security.

So that’s the story.  There will be a cover up of course as there always are, when asked government spokesmen and women will claim ignorance or deny the story altogether.  But now you know the dirty little secret. As we know from Agents Scully and Mulder in the X-Files the truth is out there.

Peace, Steve+

Note:  I gave a bad title to a post a couple of days ago.  It is the “Visit to Super Holy International Temple.”  It is quite funny and quite profound in its own way and I hope that you look it up if you din’t think that the title sounded too interesting. I was told by a reader that it reminded him of the book “The Shack” which I have never read.

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Filed under Loose thoughts and musings, national security, Political Commentary, purely humorous

Interns and Residents Graduate while New Ones Arrive; Save #500 for Mariano Rivera and I Know Why the North Koreans are So Belligerent…They Don’t Have Baseball!

Well. I got back to work today and I’m glad to be back.  The trip to DC was really nice.  Having duty the first day back well, what can I say?  Tonight has been very busy but not too sporty yet, although I am wondering as the night has a weird feel, which a resident that I have worked with a lot feels too.  Hopefully we are just paranoid.  I wrote this at my dinner break and thankfully I picked relatively uncomplicated things to write about tonight, I had it done by the time the cardiac response pager went off following some meetings and early rounds and patient visits.  It’s about 2300 and I am just now sitting down to finish this prologue.

Today we graduated our Intern Class.  I have gotten to know a good number of these young physicians during the past year during their ICU rotation as well as when I have been on call throughout the house.  It was a privilege to be at the graduation at the invitation of the class leadership as I had been with them on their Dining Out back in April.  To have one more time with them before they go on to residency, the Fleet Marine Force or Sea Billets as General Medical Officers or Surgeons, as well as those selected to become Flight Surgeons or Diving Medical Officers assigned to Special Operations, Diving or EOD units was really nice.  Having spent a lot of time with many on the ICU I see the toll that the internship places on them and their families.  These young physicians have done well and will serve our Sailors and Marines, as well as Soldiers and Airmen and their families well.  Some will remain to complete residencies of various types and lengths, while those who do not initially get a residency will likely be on the front line of caring for our servicemen and women in harm’s way or on medical and humanitarian missions.  Some will end up with the Marines in Iraq or Afghanistan and others serve as the “Doctor” for a ship or Marine battalion often far from any immediate back up or specialty care.  I wish all of them the best.  We have also had residents leave us for new horizons.  Some will be going on to advanced fellowships while others will serve as staff physicians or surgeons throughout the world.   It has been great working with many of them in their final residency year.

While these young physicians are leaving us, we have some who will remain on as residents here or fellowships.  It will be good to continue to work with and get to know them over the coming years.  Now the fun part, we have a butt load of brand new Interns who are reporting to us as well as some Residents from other institutions or coming back from their tours in the Fleet.  I remember my time at civilian teaching hospitals where I served as a chaplain or did my residency.  Pastoral Care Residencies typically start in September or October which takes them out of the cycle that most residents or interns have in the medical community.  I hope that we will eventually have our program lined up so our new residents report the same time the physician internships and residencies begin and for our residents to have more interaction with them.  I think the latter will happen sooner than the first mentioned with things that we are in the process of instituting.  I really believe that the cross pollination of physician and pastoral care residencies will benefit both specialties as they meet at the intersections of healing, life and death, faith and spirituality.  Tonight when I have been greeting every new physician I see and introducing myself to them.  They come from quite a few interesting places and I hope to get to know them all pretty well.

Last night was a great event.  Yankees ace reliever and “closer deluxe” Mariano Rivera notched his 500th save.  He became the second pitcher to achieve this number as he shut down the New York Mets at Citi Park.  To some this may not seem too much of an accomplishment.  After all, the relief pitcher as a specialty and development of pitchers to serve in different relief roles is a relatively new part of baseball, really only going back to the 1970s.  Of course there were relieves before, but they had a limited role as starters often would pitch complete games.  Satchel Paige was an exception when he came to the Majors from the Negro Leagues spending most of his time in a relief role, and there are a few others but the reliever was in many cases a former starter who didn’t have the juice to pitch complete games later in their careers.  Rivera is a special breed even as a reliever.  He is a closer.  This means that when he comes in he is either trying to save the victory or stave off defeat.  He has to come in at a moment’s notice in any park, weather or situation often to deal with the heart of an opponent’s batting order.  He has the 500 saves and a career 2.29 ERA.  In the World Series he has 9 saves and a 1.16 ERA.  It gets better.  In the League Championship Series that he has pitched in he has 10 saves and a 0.97 ERA and in Division Series he has 15 saves and a 0.38 ERA.  Since the playoffs tend to have the better and more competitive teams in them so these are amazing statistics.  In the playoff he has 8 wins and only one loss.  At age 39 he shows no sign of letting up.

What makes a guy like Mariano so special is first that he is nearly unhittable and his very presence on the mound gives confidence to the Yankees and sends a message to their opponents.  He will if he has any say in the matter save or win that game even if he comes in early with the bases loaded and no outs in the 8th inning.  Rivera is like a really hot ER or ICU team that has to save a life when the situation is at the worst or if not that bad where it could get sporty.  I have always admired relievers who do the job well having had to go into a number of jobs where my predecessor both as a Medical Service Corps Officer in the Army or Navy Chaplain was fired.  That is no fun when you have to go pick up the pieces.  Relievers make their living doing this and Rivera has to be the best reliever who has ever lived.  To top it off he is regarded as a nice guy, a leader and one of baseball’s good guys.  And last but not least Mariano was not a “bonus baby.”  He came up as an undrafted free agent.  Some Trevor Hoffman fans may argue this point but the high intensity playoff game record speaks for itself.  Nobody does it better.  Someday Jonathan Papelbon may do so for the Red Sox, but he has many years to go before he hits 500 saves.  He has the advantage of starting his Major League career as a closer and already has as of the end of 2008 114 saves and a 1.84 ERA.  He is the real deal and hopefully will remain healthy.

Finally a closing thought for the night.  I have wondered for some time just why the North Koreans can be so bellicose and ill tempered.  They are threatening to incinerate us and upset that we have moved missile interceptors to Hawaii, like hello, Hawaii is 4000 miles away from North Korea.  Needless to say the whole bunch of nations in the neighborhood is not real happy with the Dictator named Kim. The Japanese are upping their readiness, the South Koreans sending folks to the border and talking of pre-emption and even the Chicoms and Russians are not real happy.  Some sources are even saying the Nutty North Koreans may launch and ICBM in our general direction around the 4th of July.  That would not be cool.

So like I said, I was wondering about what makes the North Koreans so ill tempered.  It finally came to me last week at Harbor Park when watching the Tides play the Pawtucket Red Sox.  There were scouts from the Korean Professional Baseball league in the stands as well as Japanese scouts and American scouts.  Then it hit me.  Baseball is big in South Korea and they are getting pretty darned good in international competition.  They are so good in fact that they have won the Olympic Gold Medal and finished second in the World Baseball Classic.  In contrast the North Koreans don’t have baseball.  If they had baseball they would be able to work off all that unhealthy stress and hatred, the Yin and Yang would come back into balance.  What if Kim Jung Il had played little league and high school ball?  Who knows he might be a manager in the Korean Leagues taking out all that anger on the umpires when they make a bad call or executing his closers when they fail.  The South Koreans have been blessed by the Deity Herself with Baseball and I do believe that this has to be the difference.  Even Communist Cuba is nowhere near as nutty as North Korea and this too I attribute to Baseball and Fidel having played ball himself.   Maybe we should instead of negotiators send Baseball players, scouts and instructors to North Korea?  It just might work. Look what McDonald’s and Coke did to the former Soviet Union….

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, Foreign Policy, Loose thoughts and musings, Military, philosophy

Whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention…

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“My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention…” Headley Lamar (Harvey Korman) Blazing Saddle’s

Blurred Days, Preparing for Death and Medium Rare Diseases : The past 10 days have been a blur.  So much has happened that I have a hard time coming to grips with it all.  First was going out to California to assist my mom and brother in dealing with things concerning my dad’s worsening condition.  It was good to have a couple of visits with him where he was with me at least for a few minutes.  I will treasure those figuring that they may well be the last that I have with him on this green earth.  Yet it was hard.  I had to kind of package away my stuff for a while and hoping to process when I got back.  It seems that the Deity Herself has decided that she needed to build more character in this character than this character thought that he needed.  When I got back we were faced with the first real health crisis in our lives.  Judy contracted Epiglotitis somehow and we spent the majority of the past three days in hospital ER’s or having her admitted to hospital.  Nothing is ever normal for us. Maybe it’s because neither of us are normal.  In fact Judy is Abbess of the Abby Normal (see the link on my blog roll).  So Epiglotitis is very unusual, 10-40 cases in a million.  Most are kids and it is almost unheard of in this country.  The Third Year ENT Resident said that he had never seen it before.  The attending almost missed it until the ER Attending saw the soft tissue X-Ray.   As I said in my last post after I had made the diagnosis which was confirmed by the physicians: “It’s a kid’s disease except when it happens to adults.” It is what probably killed George Washington.  Thankfully even early Monday morning though the ER Attending did not see it he did the right thing in a heavy dose of IV antibiotics and steroids.  This probably arrested the development of the condition.  When it worsened we got Judy into the ER pretty fast and again the right thing was done.  She seems to be doing well now that she has been discharged home and for this I am most grateful that she is not dead  or even the Grateful Dead. However two long nights in ER with little rest following the trip to California have left me worn out.  I do hope that the Deity Herself does not think it necessary to build any more character in this miscreant Priest.  Thankfully my Department Head took my duty today and put me on two days of leave to put myself back together. Sleep has been fitful and my anxiety levels have been rather high.  Thankfully no PTSD meltdowns this time at least not yet.

The Holy Unction of the Baseball: If you remember my post Baseball in Between Life and Death in the ICU I mentioned a dear woman and her husband who were both big baseball fans.  She was in the ICU and seeming to be getting better and I promised her a baseball.  She crashed hard.  The next day when I brought the ball in she was heavily sedated and intubated. She was trying to die on us.  If you recall I placed the baseball in her hand and she gripped it tight. Her husband and sister said that she did not let it go for about 7 or 8 hours.   I prayed for her as I did this.  I went to California and she was still pretty bad off.  By the time that I came back I heard that she was doing a lot better.  I saw her yesterday and had a wonderful visit with her and her husband.  There is a possibility that they may be actually able to do something to help her heart function.  She remembers having the ball in her hand and wondering how it got there even when she was heavily sedated.  Could it be possible that the Deity Herself could have made The Holy Unction of the Baseball a new sub-Sacrament of the Sacrament of Healing?

Don’t Screw Up the Prayer: I did the invocation and benediction at the groundbreaking ceremony for Preventive Medicine unit at Norfolk.  I’ve done hundreds of prayers at military and civil functions.  They are not hard to do.  What you don’t want to be is too memorable because if this is the case you have probably done something to be remembered and not in a good way.  I have seen this done a number of times.  Often the Chaplain has no clue that he stepped all over it.  This can happen by going too long, forgetting the words or trying to be too uppity, sectarian, funny or unique.  Since most of the time the people at these functions have to be there the chaplain cannot presume that they are the show and can do whatever they want.  In the Navy this is really important.  I write these prayers out and have done so for many years now.  Not only do I write them out I read them several times before I ever get in front of a live audience.  Doing this keeps me from doing something stupid, which on occasion even I can do.   I even have a basic format that I put the prayer into: The introduction; specific event/unit/situation that I am asking God to bless, and the closing sentence.  I try to keep it to 30-45 seconds, never more than a minute.  It is not good when they look at their watches when you are praying or yawn. In the public forum you have a place to be a witness, but it is always a delicate balance. The people at the event are not there to see the chaplain.  The chaplain is like the ceremonial first pitch or meeting between the managers of the two baseball teams and the umpires to discuss the ground rules.  Chaplains are not the main event unless it is an actual worship service.  Even memorial services and ceremonies where the chaplain plays a huge role, the chaplain is not the reason everyone is there.  It is no place to try to be Paul Harvey and tell “the rest of the story.” Thus this ministry in the public arena can be one that either provides the chaplain entrance into the community with opportunities to provide great ministry, even evangelical ministry.  Or ensures that they remain an outsider to the community, nipping at the fringe and hoping someone will hear them.   When we were done I had an officer compliment me on my prayer.  He said it wasn’t too long, wasn’t too short and honored what they were doing.  I love it when a plan comes together.

A Tale of Two Burgers: Yesterday I did something that I have not done in years.  I had two hamburgers in a single day. Both were fast food burgers and usually I maybe eat A HAMBURGER every 45-60 days.  Yesterday as you know from reading this was rather hectic.  One the way home I stopped by Sonic to get a Super Sonic Double Cheeseburger with Mayo, Mustard and Ketchup. For fast food this is a hell of a burger.  It is tasty and big.  Sure it’s not the best hamburger in the world but it will work in a pinch.  Early this morning after leaving Judy at the hospital I stopped by a 24 hour McDonald’s.  I was hungry and tired.  Unfortunately they have an exceptionally limited after midnight menu. Two Types of Quarter Pounder, The Big and Tasty Burger, a Southern Chicken Sandwich, Chicken McNuggets and Chicken Strips.  Not much to choose from.  I should have gone with the McNuggets or regular Quarter Pounder but taken in by the name I asked for the Big and Tasty.  This was very possibly the very worst hamburger that I have ever had.  The meat was bland and greasy and topped by a mound of mayonaise that drowned out any other taste.  I could feel my arteries closing as the first bite went down.  I can only say “Never Again.”

Moving to the Front of the International League: My Norfolk Tides are now 26-12 not only atop their division but now has the best record in the International League.  This is a exciting young ball club.  We have not had anything like this in years at Norfolk.  I just hope that the Orioles don’t rape the Tides to fill their roster.  I know that the minors exist to support the big team but right now this is a special team and fun season.  I pray that the Deity will ensure the Orioles success so that we can continue like this the rest of the season.

Getting the call reversed: It looks like our insurance company has decided to agree with us and the body shop and denial the fraudulent claim against Judy.  Sometimes arguing with the umpire nicely gets the call reversed.

As always thank you for your kind words, encouragement, concern and prayers over the past 10 days.  They are appreciated and I know that they are effectual.

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under alzheimer's disease, Baseball, ER's and Trauma, healthcare, Loose thoughts and musings, Military, PTSD