It’s Getting Ugly Out there….

It’s Easter, Passover or whatever your flavor of celebration of the season and it ain’t pretty. One can tiptoe through family, road rage, Congress, Europe, the Middle East and beyond to say we are not exactly singing out of the same hymnal…or Torah as the case may be. The older you get the more you look back at the way things used to be.

The Rite Of Spring always engenders pretty thoughts like daffodils or easter baskets and knowing that Opening Day is not far away. That is not saying yesteryear was always idyllic but I am struck by how many really earthshaking events occur today on a pretty regular basis. I always ask myself the question,”Is it chaos or growing pains?”

When you live in the Rockies the mountains are omnipresent. It may be sunny and mild in Denver but you can still see the snowcapped peaks in the distance. I can remember when we lived in Vail all you had to do was step outside your door and the landscape jumped out in front of you. You could take a hike and marvel at the thought that maybe no other human being had set foot here before.

I used to wonder to myself what those mountains thought. Over millennia they had seen just about everything from T Rexes to early settlers. People with incredible foresight and likewise immense folly had trouped through those valleys. Some had prospered and some had perished. Yet the continuity of rock and seashore endure. We are just travelers along the way.

As I approach the wonder age of a septuagenarian there is a part of me that says “Stop the world I want to get off”. Sure I could just put my feet up and chill. If I grew some hair and a stache I could be Don Ameche in Cocoon. How depressing. The world is a dynamic place and it is as satisfying as it is enigmatic. The challenge is to make it work.

Now everyone has the right way to pull this off. We seem pretty intent on spreading democracy throughout the world but the jury is still out as to its applicability everywhere. There are countries that will defy equal participation by their breadth of geography as well as multiple ethnicities. We got rid of Hussein but that created a vacuum that all manner of zealot wanted to fill. Egypt, Libya and Yemen got rid of the tyrants but maybe they weren’t the worst thing in the world at least in terms of stability. Putin’s Russia spans 10 time zones.

I have always been intrigued by Lee Kuan Yew who died last week. He appeared on the scene of a former British colony, Singapore and had nothing to work with but swampy slums. Even Indonesia cut them loose in the late 70’s and they were forced to fend for themselves. Educated at Cambridge Yew had a patrician accent and a vague idea of political science but he built and lorded over a peculiar brand of whatever. He was playing it by ear.

Slowly with a little chutzpah and a lot of resolve he created a miracle. He was dictatorial but benevolent. There were no guns nor chewing gum allowed. You don’t like it? Go somewhere else. And that crazy rag tag country grew to be the most successful nation per capita in the world. This wasn’t looking to the past because they had none. He and his subjects embraced change and innovation. They broke all the rules.

Every planner, MBA and political wizard was proven wrong. I get that same feeling today in so many areas. There was story in the Denver Post about a guy that is growing vegetables vertically in hydroponics two to three stories high. Weird arrays of pastel colored lights warm the plant to not only survive but thrive. Why didn’t I think of that?

In medicine we have a promising cancer therapy that is derived from the polio virus. There is an Israeli researcher who discovered that tissue from your nasal cavity can be grafted onto the spines of paralyzed people and they may regain sensation and perhaps walk some day. Are you kidding me?

Herein lies the rub. Let’s say I am a Republican or conservative if you will. I am a strict constructionist when it comes to the Constitution. I want less government and more defense. Free markets will conquer all. Not quite sure of all that. On the other hand if I am Democratic or liberal I think the government should provide for all. Bring up the downtrodden and all will be successful. Tax and spend beyond one’s means. It will all work out in the wash. Don’t think that is my mantra either. Still searching.

So with all this insanity going on everywhere what does a nice guy like me do? I have to learn that we as a country cannot control the world anymore. We can do pieces but not the whole magilla. That terrifies some but are we giving up power or making more nations responsible? Saudi Arabia feels deserted but is that really a bad thing? They seem like they want to step up to the plate. Ditto Europe and ditto the Far East.

Terrorism is here to stay. I don’t say we give into it but we realize that by virtue of everything from world trade in arms or the ability to harness the internet for all forms of evil it is just too easy to be in the bad guy business. Sadly there are going to be more young copilots that fly into mountains and whackos that are willing to blow themselves up in search of vestal virgins. That is life pure and simple.

Technology is both good and bad. It will drive you nuts and then save your life. Accept that fact. You can’t separate the wheat form the chaff. Just make sure there is more of one than the other.

Bottom line this a wild and wooly world. We will have to think on our feet and be open to all new things. Will it hurt? Depends on your outlook. You can embrace change and revel in it or you can let it scare the shit out of you. I am too old to worry and too dumb to be scared. I think I am just going to enjoy the ride and hope I don’t fall out.

As always
Ted The Great.

1 million domain names on the internet are reserved every month.At the end of 2012 there were 17 billion devices connected to the internet.

Apple, Microsoft, HP and Google all started in a garage.

Terrorism is actually quite rare in the West with 4.6 deaths per years since 2006.Over the last 20 years (which includes 9/11) average deaths from terrorism total 162 Americans per year.To put that in perspective, compare it to the 679,853 who die of heart disease each year, 52,823 who die of the pneumonia and the flu, and 17,961 who die of “falls.”

The pejorative connotations of the word terrorism can be summed up in the aphorism, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. This is exemplified when a group using irregular military methods is an ally of a state against a mutual enemy, but later falls out with the state and starts to use those methods against its former ally. This was too good. I plagiarized it.

Ted’s Theory of Negativity…

The human mind and its maturation within each one of us has always intrigued me. A baby is born without predispositions, fears, or prejudices and is for the most part a pretty happy camper. It does not take too long for tendencies and personality traits to become manifest. They are shepherded or inhibited by the the actions of caregivers. I am sure the same is true whether it is homo sapiens or a lion cub.

Now fast forward to that wonderful age of puberty and beyond. Away from the womb and the nest you really have to find your way in the world. You are adjudged by athletic talent, book smarts and of course social acceptance or lack thereof. The is a wide gap between BMOC’s and dweebdom and you have to find your spot on the scale.

In our youth and beyond we adopt a series of defense mechanisms. They protect our psyche and present a prism through which we view the world. We tinker and fine tune so that we now have a consistent manner of looking at our surroundings that makes us comfortable. That grows into a habit and I guess we call that personality. I hesitate only in that today’s science says that persona is inbred or determined by DNA. I can’t buy that. I can’t surrender that we have no control over it.

What I think happens is we get comfortable in a soft pair of slippers. I may discover that if I am serious or even grouchy people will give me sway. Ditto a bully. If I am happy go lucky that doesn’t play well. People will think I am a pushover and even weak when actually the exact opposite might be true. Better to be a prick and let the world beware.

Moving right along we have now set some ground rules on how to operate. What’s more is we look for people of the same ilk. A club so to speak with its own set of initiation and membership rules. Misery loves company. Do you ever get in a conversation where every one is a grump? Partly cloudy not partly sunny. Obama sucks. Cruz is a whack job. Every word, email and news channel will back up their way of thinking. Makes no sense to screw up the world with alternative thinking. I’ll just sit here and wallow in it with my buddies.

In my newfound world of doctor’s offices misery is a joy to behold. Now there are people who are really hurting. I feel for them. Then there are those who know that if you are feeling chipper you ain’t going to get the attention. Moaning and groaning are strong suits. Fire back at your spouse. Sorry honey it’s just the pain is so bad. And watch everyone circle the wagons to ease your pain. I feel better already.

Now today’s media and government world have figured this out. You will not elect me if I tell you things are fine. I ask you how many New Americas and taking back Washington can we stand? But one election cycle after another has a new vision. This is the reason we don’t resolve issues like taxes and immigration.Wait until the next election. How are you going to grab a headline steering the good ship Tranquility that just tries to make decisions?

Speaking of the press if you don’t pillory Mitch and Boehner or Hilary and Obama you can’t be worth your salt as a beacon of journalistic excellence. There is an urgency and stridency to every news item from ISIS to a lost kitten. Open the Journal and there is nothing but anti Obama. Open the Times and they roast the GOP. Day in. Day out. Even if you are died in the wool doesn’t this get tiresome after a point?

I have told you of a battle with depression I had some 25 years ago. The most telling breakthrough of all my treatment was that we can change our whole way of looking at world not by gene therapy but by making a conscious effort to change our way of thinking. I and not you or others had the ability to change my outlook on life. It was startling. I had gotten myself into that pit but by tapping into a place in my mind I could get myself out.

Every day we are hit by events whether we are six or sixty. In their basest form they are nothing more than an elapse of time. It is like a lightning bolt passing through us and discharging somewhere into the ground. The residual effect is a thing called emotion. With every event we have the ability to react positively or negatively and that tends to be constant as a normal course of action. That in turn creates a predictable form of response that might be called a habit. The devil didn’t make you do it, you did.

We all want to think liberal or conservative. We crave to find our niche.Guidelines and borders. Looking at this crazy world we live in nothing could be worse. Whether it is in government or industry or world politics we have to understand our sphere is totally new and dynamic. We have to look at each situation not as an event where we can take plan A or B off the shelf but how can I look at this from a totally different perspective.

Maybe fearing the worse shields us from disappointment. If I bitch about the weather (especially those in the Northeast) then somehow that makes it more bearable. But it also robs us of possibilities. Sure life is bummer at times but if I can surmount the negative can’t I take some sort of pride in my resilience? Boston Strong and I Survived aren’t acquiescence but triumph.

Let’s attack our problems in the world and at home as challenges. What is the most practical way to combat ISIS or pot holes? Not the old hackneyed and predictable ways but a very tough but cool mountain to climb. And when you get to the top you can say I done good rather than we should have done this or that. I participated rather than sitting on the sidelines and carping. Now that feels good.

As always
Ted The Great


It is estimated that pot holes cause $6.4 billion in damage to our vehicles annually. A pot hole cost $30-40 to fix. Couldn’t even hazard a guess how many gazillions are out there. We have sent people to the moon and beyond. We have created incredible technologies. Don’t you think over the years we would have figured out a way to deal with these buggers?

“It takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile, but it doesn’t take any to just sit there with a dumb look on your face.” Clever as this may seem it actually takes an equal number to frown or smile.

There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 million radical Muslims who want Sharia law and a new Caliphate. This is the prime recruiting ground for ISIS and Al Quaeda. This requires some serious out of the box thinking. Calling them the JV is probably not the smartest thing in the world.

We generate around 50,000 thoughts per day.The vast majority of them are pure nonsense. We often dwell in the past or the future, obsessing about mistakes we might have made, battling guilt, planning ahead or worrying. We are constantly drifting into fantasy, fiction and negativity. Yes it is sad but true that 70-80% of our thoughts are negative. Doesn’t have to be that way.

From The Lunatic Fringe…

Well here we are again. As I mentioned last week I have not been goofing off but quite the contrary. Dealing with a bunch of different issues but most of all trying to steer the starship TTG upward to look at things from 30,000 feet. I am attempting to view current events dispassionately as moments in time without wringing out every bit of rancor and calamity as some of our esteemed pundits do.

It has been difficult to start writing again. Not because of writer’s block but rather a cornucopia of ideas and observations. I keep trying to refine all that mess into a few salient points but I am not sure of my progress. I keep looking for the silver bullet of cognizance that will help us all move forward in a positive and fulfilling way but alas it remains elusive.

I am struck by attitudes and two in particular. Let’s call the first a sense of survival. No matter what our lot in life we view the world as a tough place. If we have money and the good life we want to lock our selves neatly inside. See a heart wrenching story on TV or in the press and quietly say there but for the grace of God go I. Sorry to hear about your misfortune but I am a little busy right now.

If you don’t have it, making things work is a constant ordeal. Over 50% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. One misstep and you are done. Some deal with it and plod on. Some bitch and moan. I am a victim and the world should bail me out. Others just give up and succumb.

The commonality is this vision of success. For most it is defined by money and possessions. If you have them you are going to do everything in your power to keep them. There is never enough. If you don’t life is not only a struggle to survive but to demonstrate that you are worthwhile person. And both sides say, “you don’t have clue.” Distrust and rancor prevail no matter what is in your wallet. And that is a sad thing.

The other attitude is not so much one of optimism but blind faith. Some might call it denial. We tend to feel that somehow some way everything is going to be okay. As part of a daily regimen that is a good thing. As part of a long term strategy I am not sure that is in our best interest. We take things at face value without much question. For us old farts maybe that is just a technique to say let’s hope this thing doesn’t spring leak before we get out of here.

For the young generations of many names it is almost a disinterest. I am just going to keep on trucking. I don’t understand how this all works and I don’t have the time to read or study. I can’t really blame them. You watch government in stall mode or industry sacrificing everything in the name of share price and ambivalence seem the only sane way to operate.

Everyone seems to take the word of experts. I heard this from so and so and he or she really knows what they are talking about. From sports to the market to miracle cures we are beset by people you and I have never heard of but if they are in print or on TV it must be so. Dr. Phil, Dr Oz, Rolling Stone, Fox News, CNN, 60 Minutes, and now Brian Williams, all have come under scrutiny for less than factual expertise.

This may be a broad brush but I think our vaunted connectivity has had a debilitating rather than particularly positive role to play. We want everything fast and furious. Don’t bore me with details. A matter of morality or conscience? Just tell me what to do. You are hurting? You need help? Geez, I didn’t get that feeling in your last text. Why didn’t you speak up?

I think we have to get interested in our world and just as importantly in one another. We have got to see people as living and breathing organisms and not just a means to an end. How many of us really look at the world and say how can I help you? How can I make you better? How many of us just take the time to notice a fellow human being and even wonder how their life is going? This is not just a lofty goal but I really believe tantamount to our survival as a country and possibly a world.

The way we do this is a change of attitude. Not as difficult as it seems but it would take some work. Right now in your face is the national anthem. We need a consistent albeit positive message. We tell people to save for retirement but then the market goes down because consumer spending is off. Healthcare costs soar but we want our freedom to eat what we want and blow each others brains out with guns. We want to cut back on government spending but not for defense. And congress votes itself a raise every year. We want moral values but then take our 12 year old to a concert where the tickets are $600 and the bump and grind would make a stripper blush. As the old saying goes,”Me Thinks ye speak with forked tongue.”

A wonderful buddy of mine threw up his hands in disgust after reading one of my missives and said “Why can’t we all get along?” Well we can if we get serious and attack problems. But right now our DNA is soft, complicit and complacent. We are worrying about our own lives but not the motherland. Let someone else do it. I am too busy. Please tell me I’ve got it all wrong.

As always
Ted The Great

Pew Research has demonstrated that people are as conversant in public affairs as they were 30 years ago. This despite the vaunted Information Age. Rich more than poor. Men more than women. Old over young.

A study by Portland State University asked twelve questions regarding today’s news. 2% got all the answers right. 6% got no answers right. Only 42% got half right. Lower income and less educated people were up on local politics more than national. Of those that voted 25% were deemed LIC, lower information citizens. I think that means they voted with their heart rather than their heads.

Success is defined as the accomplishment of and aim or purpose. It seems the most successful are those that view this a dynamic process. You don’t “make it” but rather go on from there. Constantly questioning and creating and reaching out to your fellow man or woman yield more inner peace. Money may be a measure but does not assure it.

Your resume can and probably should be the most random document you own. Uncertainty breeds creativity.

The most trusted people in US? Actors and actresses: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock(she gets my vote) Denzel Washington and Meryll Streep. In the top ten are Bill and Melinda Gates and Alex Trabek. Nursing is the most trusted profession and politicians and used car salesmen the worst. .

It’s Been Awhile…

My short break turned into a long one. Part laziness. Part vagaries of life. The day after Christmas I got the glorious news that I had prostate cancer. An unopened gift of sorts. Of course I was crestfallen. Not that I had the big C but that Superman was no longer invincible. The journey has gotten interesting.

In the true Jesuit tradition I took nothing for granted and began doing research. Books and internet articles provided me with the basics. This disease is common among those my age. The fact I was in good shape worked against me. The implied longevity of my life dictated that I do something about it, not ignore it.

I got to meet a bunch of interesting people in the medical profession. Each MD had a little different slant on things and that was just fine. One even noted that it was a matter of personality. I could watch and wait, zap it or just remove it so there were no questions. Which one do you think I picked?

After a PET scan and an MRI I got surgery a week and a half ago. I wasn’t nervous or upset. I just wanted to get it over with. I mention all this not as an “organ recital” buy rather a cause for wonder. Throughout everything I had my wits about me and wanted to absorb the experience.

I had never been in a hospital as a patient before and the University of Colorado Med Center is a great place to lose one’s virginity. The entire complex is less than ten years old. They started from scratch and did not have to make do. When we arrived at admissions at 5:30 AM I was astounded to see a dozen or so fellow travelers already there. As it turns out this place has 24 operating rooms and is building 6 more. Cut down again. They didn’t care if I was Ted The Great. Just start the process Mr. Kenny and keep it moving.

After getting checked in I was escorted back to pre op by a very pleasant nurse. It was one of many handoffs throughout the day. Each one was beyond caring. I said please and thank you to everyone but moreover wanted to know something about them. Married or single? Kids? From Colorado or elsewhere? They seemed to be surprised by my queries and were only too happy to fill in blanks. Very cool.

I met the whole team from docs to nurses and each one described what they were going to do in great detail. Beth was our OR nurse and like a good drill sergeant kept everyone in line. At precisely 7:20AM (and I mean to the second) the good ship lollipop was wending its way to OR10.

It wasn’t like being wheeled through an episode of ER and of course I was yukking it up with all involved. I peered around at every detail and was surprised how compact it was. There were tons of vials and dials but they all seemed to fit perfectly. The table was definitely a twin and no more. They actually tied my legs down which I of course found offensive. How is guy going to put the moves on nurses when I was thus constrained?

The most incredible part of the whole thing was that it was all going to be robotic. My brilliant 41 year old surgeon never laid a hand on me. They put the mask over my mouth and for the next 3 1/2 hours TTG was blissfully in dreamland while the gang inserted about one wrench short of a tool chest in my belly to extract the interloper. Mission accomplished.

A couple of hours after that Lazarus awakened but I was not jumping off the gurney just yet. Tubes and wires adorned my torso and everyone was asking if I was okay. Why wouldn’t I be with Kathy and all these beautiful women poking and prodding? I kind of just laid there and was wondering what the hell had just happened? You listen for beeps and alarms and just hope it is not you. A few patients were pains in the ass but most were just trying to grin and bear it.

It was almost like a prison where you have never met the guy or gal in the next cell but you started to conjure up what they looked like and where were they from. I probable should have passed notes. Some had come from 4-6 hours away because our rural nature as a state demands it. One was from Hawaii. I have no idea how that happened.

I continued my questioning and this new set of staff was more than willing to spill their guts. It was wonderful. One Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) was coming to the end of a twelve hours shift. from 7:00PM to 7:00 AM I said “I bet you are going home to get some sleep?” Not so. She was going to class at the Denver School of Nursing at 9:15AM. Talk about a work ethic. I guess it was almost the same for someone to go home and take care of unruly toddlers.

Well enough of this. I hope you don’t mind that this is the way I wend back into your lives. I had to have a cover story for all my goofing off. I have missed you guys and gals. I have a bunch of things to talk over with you. I have watched this crazy world we live in for some common threads. Some good. Some bad. But we will give them full air together.

I will try to stick with Tuesdays but don’t bank on it. I will also attempt to put pen to pad weekly but the times may dictate more or less frequently. In other words I will be random with a plan if that makes sense. I have been thinking a lot and I hope to prod you to do the same once again. It’s a gorgeous day here in Denver and the view from Unit #509 is glorious. You all look just fine.

As always
Ted The Great


Surgeons in the 1800’s were both healers and barbers. They used the same utensils for both. Today we have general and specialty surgeons. A surgeon today might perform up to 500 operations per year. The male surgeon performs up to 30% more than the female. Why? The male is trusted more. Incredible.

Intuitive Surgical manufactures the Da Vinci Robotic surgical system. There are over 3200 installed thought the world varying from $500,000- $3.0 million per unit. Last year there were more than 600,000 procedures on their systems. The stock came public for around $5 in 2000 and currently trades under symbol ISRG. Last quote was $492.59.

Minimally invasive surgery is being performed on urological, cardio, breast cancer, hysterectomies et al. They simply use smaller more precise tools and as a result your recovery times and complications are quicker.

The head OR nurse can make in excess of $100k per annum depending on location. The median salary for a general surgeon is $190,000. For a specialty surgeon it is $396,000. These may or may not seem high but consider the cost of medicine and doctor’s salaries are not the primary villains.

In the US we spend more than any other country in the world on healthcare. On the order of 40% higher than countries like Canada, UK, Denmark, Sweden. Yet our life expectancy of 78 pales to their 82-83 years.