Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Archive for November, 2022

Thanksgiven: Sunday musings…11/27/22

1 Thanksgiven. What you’ve accomplished over the Thanksgiving weekend if you’ve done it right. Should be a word.

2 Hurt Locker. One of the things I am thankful for is that my IT band appears to have forgiven me, and my surgeon, for initially making my right leg almost an inch longer. My IT band and all of the muscles that reside in the vicinity of the Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL), the muscle that tenses the IT band, have been in full revolt since post-op day 9. That would be 10+ weeks ago for those of you keeping score at home (or suffering along with me).

What turned the tide? Beats me. Might be stopping all of the traditional PT I’d been doing, all of which was particularly vexing to that rat bastard, the TFL. Perhaps it was my dedication to using the very space age red-light laser gifted to me by research partners at the time of my left hip replacement in 2019, or the professional grade ultrasound unit I’ve been using on the daily for a couple of weeks. Beth has continued to lend her elbow for some (VERY) deep tissue massage each night.

More than likely it’s the fact that my right leg is now at least a quarter of an inch shorter than it was right out of the gate after surgery. Less lengthy seems to equate to less cranky. All I know is that it only takes 5 minutes for the “wake up pain” to subside now, and I can walk all of my required daily distances without pain.

Now if the pesky groin muscle I pulled while putting on my socks would just let me get on with my life…

3 Ritual. Another Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone for the White family. By most measures it was quite a nice weekend, thank you very much. We had our entire little family together for a couple of hours on Thanksgiving Day, complete with all of the grandchildren, and even our “extra son” Alex. There were lots of opportunities to spend time with smaller groups over the weekend as well. Beth timed everything perfectly, and the amount of food was so dialed in that we will be through all of the leftovers by the end of dinner tonight.

Pretty much crushing the post-Thanksgiving dining rituals of days on end of turkey, stuffing, and pie.

As I wrote in the “Thanksgiving musings…” we are a family of rituals. Do something twice and it’s a tradition; once more and it’s as much a ritual as anything you see on the altar at Sunday mass. Many of the White Family rituals were observed at my brother’s house this year as he hosted my Mom and one of my sisters and her family.

Here? Bit of a mixed bag to be honest. Change is the order of the day as our children and their families grow. However, the one ritual that remains in place is the ritual of coming together in real life. Being together in “reach out and hug” distance as much as possible over the weekend. For all of the wonders of our modern modes of communication, assembling as a family on this Holiday of thanks remains, for now, the essential ritual of Thanksgiving.

May we always have Thanksgiven for this.

I’ll see you next week…

Thanksgiving musings, Revisited…

Sunday musings…

Here is my annual Thanksgiving “musings…”, lightly edited to be up to date.

Thanksgiving is by far and away my favorite holiday. Not even close. Maybe it’s because I’ve always had so much to be thankful for, always had pretty much everything I need and at least a bunch of what I (thought I) want. Seriously, I can’t really remember a single Thanksgiving in my entire life where I thought the ledger was tilted to the minus side, where I just couldn’t find so much more to be thankful about than not.


Oh sure, there’s always something to gripe about. I’m not really sure what it is at the moment, but Beth called me out last night for basically being an edgy grump. Guilty, but cluelessly in retrospect, even though I managed to come up with a reasonably coherent attempt at an explanation at the time. Still, it’s almost Thanksgiving, and I’ve gotta get my…ahem…stuffing sorted out.

One of the attractions for me to the day is that there are no real obligations. No gift giving. No “X shopping days until” stuff. Heck, I’d love to see a bit of Thanksgiving cheer around town, in stores and restaurants and such. Like we didn’t know all of those Christmas lights were already up the week before Halloween just because you didn’t plug them in?! Sheesh. Throw me a bone. Gimme a turkey and maybe a pilgrim hat in the window, just for a couple of days. Let me revel in the holiday where there’s really no revelry, just for a moment.

Oops…edgy grumpy again. Sorry.

Thanksgiving is so much more precisely because it’s so much less. Your family, such as it is at any given time, gets together and you eat turkey. Simple. You gather around a communal table, pass around whatever traditional fare constitutes your family’s meal, and talk all over each other with your mouth full. Everyone is more pleased to be together than not, even your cranky aunt who always–ALWAYS–tells you to swallow your food before you answer. Even she is OK on Thanksgiving.

There’s a sameness to Thanksgiving, at least in our minds, and I think that’s part of the joy, the comfort of the holiday. Close your eyes, sit back, and just for a moment think about Thanksgiving at your house. Don’t pick a particular life stage, just let it happen. What do you see? Man, it’s like seeing my life scroll out before me in countless little pictures and video snippets. My timeline is notable for one very important thing: at no point, in no image that flashes before me, am I alone.

What do you see? There’s football in mine. Lots and lots of football. The first memory in line is football. It’s so cold at the Southbridge/Webster HS game my hands feel numb typing. I had my first cup of coffee that day; they were all out of hot chocolate. You played and then came home, or went to the game and then came home. Yup, football and fires in the fireplace, and so, so much food. And there’s always that one, strange, once-a-year food, right? Peanut butter filled dried dates, rolled in pure sugar for us. Like a bite-sized PB&J. That’s the one I remember. It was always up to just one or two of your family members to make that weird little treat, too. I flash on my youngest sister as she rolls the dates in the sugar, feigning anger as her siblings snitch them off the plate as quickly as she rolls them. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth at the memory of those little sugar bombs.

As you sit there and move through your Thanksgiving montage you begin to notice something, though. At intervals that are not really regular, but they are there just the same, something changes. Maybe you moved, and the dinner table is different. There are some new characters around the table, a girlfriend here, a husband there. Sometimes something is missing. You run back the tape. You look and you look, but try as you might, someone isn’t there. All kinds of reasons for this, of course, but the first time you scroll through a significant change–venue, menu, cast–it shakes you a bit, right? Your brother got married and has to share the holiday with another family. Your sister was deployed; no Skype, FaceTime or Zoom back then to sorta, kinda, fill the space. Mom or Dad, Grandma or Grandpa, someone is no longer here to be there at all.

Here, I think, is where edgy, grumpy Darrell is probably coming from. If you’ve been around long enough, and Heaven knows I certainly have, you’ll scroll through more of these changes, these inflection points if you will, than you really realized were happening at the time. New families. In-laws. Another generation arrives. If you could somehow go back even further, before your own little Thanksgiving memory tree started to grow, you’d find that there’s nothing really unique at all in this little part of Thanksgiving.

Change, growth and change, are also part of the magic of the Holiday. What was it like for my Mom to move with her new family to a Thanksgiving in her own home? Family lore has it that my Dad’s family was more than a little unhappy with his move all of one county away from the hometown that still housed his relatives. What was he thinking those first couple of Thanksgivings at my Mom’s house? For that matter, what was it like in their homes at Thanksgiving when they were the same age as their grandchildren are now?

Did they have peanut butter-filled, sugar-rolled dried dates?

Every day is new. Each one is different from the last, and Thanksgiving can be no different. This week there will be much that feels like so many Thanksgivings of yore, yet it will be new as well. New babies and new lives and new places. New additions brought into our oldest traditions. Things and people to adopt and love as much as all we’ve loved before. Edgy? Well, it’s almost certainly because so very much will be new this year in our little Thanksgiving at Casa Blanco. New brings a bit of uncertainty, doesn’t it? Yes, for sure, it does.

But with certainty I can say that once again, as with every Thanksgiving, I will have much more to be thankful for than not. The ledger will be long on thanks, needs comfortably covered, wants undoubtedly as well. I will be surrounded by those I love; when the scroll is run in the years ahead I will see my people. Of this I am quite certain.

And there will be dates. Sticky, gooey memories to begin the next generation’s Thanksgiving story.

Happy Thanksgiving. I’ll see you on Sunday…

At Work: Sunday musings…11/20/2022

1 Rafter. The name of a group of turkeys. Another nonsensical, can’t make it up animal fact, however appropriate the timing.

2 Bullseye. “That’s like drawing the bullseye after you already shot.” Dr. Vinay Prasad.

It almost doesn’t matter what facts you are espousing, this one rings true, especially in this fraught world in which even basic science has been politicized. Prasad was discussing research on cancer in this instance; he is a noted scold of the scientists and physicians who have been in the public eye with all manner of science driven by expedience, not the scientific method.

This applies to any and all research. Literally anything you can measure or test. Science, real science, is declaring your hypothesis, your target if you will, BEFORE you shoot.

3 Diversity. Oh my. Oh my, my, my. As quoted in the WSJ on November 5th, David Lat said the ultimate “quiet part” out loud on diversity in highly selective schools at all levels. In an essay first published on Substack.com he describes what “diversity” actually means for elite preschools and elementary schools in NYC, ancient prep schools in New England, and the likes of Harvard and UNC which are now appearing before the Supreme Court defending their diversity efforts.

These schools are seeking “visual diversity”.

Mr. Lat has done the heretofore unthinkable by saying this out loud and giving us his thoughts at a skin-deep level (Mr. Lat is Asian-American; he opines that White-Americans have greater visual diversity than do Asian-Americans and other people of color). I’ll let you search for the essay on WSJ or Substack if you wish.

4 4-day. As in 4-day work week. Or, for that matter, remote work. Pundits of all sorts have been bleating about the elevated “humanity” of the 4-day work week and remote work. As if any employer who fails to acknowledge that their workers can achieve whatever their job entails in less than 5 days each week is somehow inhumane. That the workers will be more empowered, more “seen” if they can do their job from whatever spot on the planet they may find more to their liking than the home base of their employer. I’m calling BS on this point of view coming from the navel-gazers of the intellectual crowd, the “digital class” who simply refuse to acknowledge that a massive percentage of people with jobs do not simply sit in front of a computer and think.

Like the lovely woman who did such a fantastic job cleaning the hotel room I stayed in last weekend in NYC.

I work in healthcare. My day job is eye surgeon. Like almost everyone in healthcare, in order to do my job I must be physically present. There is nothing inherently of greater importance or somehow more noble about my particular “gotta be present” job. The EMT who was killed in Cleveland last night, run over while tending to a car accident victim, could not have done his job from behind a screen at home. The police officers at the scene, likewise. The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick makers? Ditto. And if we all only go to work 4 days each week instead of 5, either someone else must fill that slot or the work doesn’t get done.

This has been sticking in my craw for a very long time. There is an unspoken but very real dismissal of work done face to face by at least the most outspoken of the digital class. It borders on contempt in some instances. In the command and control world that these folks wish they were running it’s as if each one is the proverbial engineer designing the cockpit for a new fighter jet and failing to remember that in order for it to fly there needs to be a pilot sitting in that seat. Woe be it unto the test pilot who is the first one to point out the effect of this oversight to those same engineers.

We may begin to make more stuff in the United States now that all of the keyboard captains of industry have realized that a far-flung supply chain may not be in their, or the country’s, best interests. Surely there will be more robots in the factories that build our stuff than there was at the start of the Industrial Revolution, but to make the factories run men and women will need to come out from behind their screens and, you know, build stuff. With their hands. Right there, on the line, in person.

They matter, too.

All work has nobility. If one worker works less, another must be there to complete the job. In the service industries such as retail, hospitality, and yes, healthcare, on location is where the job gets done. Please don’t try to tell me that we should be more concerned about how inhumane it is to make an engineer at Facebook–I’m sorry, Meta–work 5 days a week in the office. Doctors and nurses, firefighters and police officers, and that lovely woman who made my stay in a tired, old Mid-Town Manhattan hotel a bit brighter all deserve to be acknowledged, supported, and celebrated.

We are all there when you need us.

I’ll see you on Thanksgiving…

You are currently browsing the Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind blog archives for November, 2022.