I may be right for all I know, but you may be wrong.

An article caught my attention this afternoon concerning  wrong diagnoses by medical professionals. Now I am no medical professional. I was an EMT for 10 years, so if you ask me how to splint a broken femur, I could probably tell you how it was done 30 years ago. And so, indeed, I am no professional medical person but I probably fit the bill as a professional patient.

The article of note from NBCNewscom.com is titled: “Getting it Wrong: ‘Everyone Suffers an Incorrect or Late Diagnosis.'”

The National Academy of Medicine, whatever that may be, says pathologists and radiologists need to be more involved in a patient’s diagnosis. The Academy, as the former Institute of Medicine calls itself, says it can’t quantify the number of erroneous diagnoses but they know it is high. Because the Academy says so, damn it to hell! I suppose it’s like Justice Potter Stewart said in the 1964 Supreme Court decision on obscenity: Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I don’t know what obscenity is but I know it when I see it.”

Actually, that is not what Stewart said, or wrote, exactly.

 “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that, Steward said”

In reality and back to medicine, the Academy did report that 5 percent of Americans receive the wrong diagnosis in outpatient care. And 10 percent of autopsies show patients who were misdiagnosed. On and on it seeps like a morphine drip.

The report goes on to say that the number of autopsies have dropped because insurance does not cover the, ahem, procedure. The study went onto say radiologists and pathologists should be more involved in clinical care. Okey dokey. So they really don’t fault the medical professionals, instead the report just, well … I’m not totally sure what the reports are implying. More autopsies? I don’t know about the rest of the world but in Texas, postmortem studies are supposedly performed on all patients who die an unwitnessed death. Likewise, I think, the same goes for those whose lives end violently. One only may guess where the supposition goes. No, not up there. I said supposition, not suppositories.

In reading this NBC article on the report, one may understand its point while others do not. For instance, the common mental picture one forms of pathologists are that they sit around looking for tiny cancers all day when they aren’t cracking open someone’s rib cage with a Skill saw. Likewise, one might imagine radiologists sitting around all day looking at X-rays or MRIs. No on both counts.

A good friend of mine is what is known as an interventional radiologist. He is a professor at a medical school and teaches his specialty to budding radiologists. But he likewise uses his skills to save lives. Says the Society for Interventional Radiology:

 “(Interventional radiologists) offer the most in-depth knowledge of the least invasive treatments available coupled with diagnostic and clinical experience across all specialties. They use X-rays, MRI and other imaging to advance a catheter in the body, usually in an artery, to treat at the source of the disease internally.”

Here is a little known fact, to me at least. These highly-trained radiologists were the inventors of the angioplasty and catheter-delivered stents which were originally developed for treating peripheral arterial diseases. Pretty neat stuff it is. Had my friend not have been in the field of interventional radiology, I probably would have learned it off the street from some first-year med student selling professional journals with racy X-ray pictures. That’s a joke son!

I see a whole broader issue as far as wrong diagnoses leading to super-wrong outcomes. I go to the VA for my health care and bless their hearts, they love their electronic patient records. Some medical pros must sleep with the records they love them so much. Some of them do not read past the first page of the computerized charts. That’s for another day though, maybe.

The VA is raining down health care.

She got legs. She knows how to use them. She walks on them.

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How many among us have heard the expression: “When it rains, it pours?” Everyone, even those in Botswana I would think, has heard it. One might be excused for asking: “When it rains, what pours?” Or perhaps others might wonder “When what rains, what pours?” I could guess with a fair amount of certainty that […]

Physical therapy, damn it!

Just Monday I started physical therapy. I didn”t plan it. I suppose one never plans it. The VA is paying for my therapy through its Veterans Choice program which allows veterans, in certain cases, to receive non-Veterans Affairs providers. In most instances the program might allow vets to be seen where VA facilities are too great a distance. In my case, the therapy was set up here because it would cause too much of challenge physically and professionally to attend physical therapy several times a week some 85 miles away in Houston.

I think this is maybe the fifth time I have had physical therapy. I’ve had it mostly for my cervical disc problems. Last year I had therapy for a month after arthroscopic surgery to repair a meniscus tear in my knee.

I have to say that I have never had successful physical therapy. It may make me feel better as I walk out the door or maybe for an hour or so. In my case over the first two visits so far, I have felt much worse than I originally felt. I am receiving treatment for my neck pain after two neck surgeries over the past 20 years. I also am getting treatment for a back pain that may or may not be caused by an inflammation of a spinal membrane called arachnoiditis. And as I have to repeatedly say, “No, it isn’t something caused by a spider bite.”

A physical therapist who, did something or other to me yesterday, said a muscle in my back is causing my problem. That may be but that is now three diagnoses for my lower back pain and the first by a non-doctor who is forbidden by law to diagnose medical conditions.

I had a visit with my podiatrist today at the Houston VA, some four months after I had hammertoe surgery. All is well there at least. I told Doc that I was a reluctant patient in physical therapy. He told me to give it a shot. That is what I am doing.

But as I told my DPM, I have to weigh the pain I have from physical therapy with the pain I have been having in my neck and back. Right now, the pain increase I have from physical therapy is outweighing the original pain. That cannot go on for too long, no matter how generously I am being treated by the VA.

Oh, if you don’t see my writing here very much in the next few weeks, it will be due to someone deciding to “improve” my health and well-being.

Concerned vets or Koch Brother chicanery?

The GOP Debate on Fox News is on until I can find something more entertaining.

In the meantime, I came across an interesting fact. It seems a Koch Brothers-funded front group called Concerned Veterans for Americans (CVA) is making various anti-working proposals that will attack veterans health care.

While they wave the flag and make everything a misleading headline, some of the CVA’s proposals are just unsubstantiated bullshit. Take this for example:

 “With 88 percent of veterans saying that it is ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important to increase health care choices for veterans, it’s time for the VA to stop pretending there is no demand for increasing options, even if veterans choose to seek care outside the VA. Veterans deserve the freedom to choose a provider who suits their needs, not one dictated by a government bureaucrat and a set of rigid guidelines,” says one of CVA ‘s propaganda releases.

There are percentages that may or may not be true or may or may not be taken out of context. I’ve not had time to check it. That really belies the remainder of the statement. I also don’t know how many veterans receive outside health care. However, I’ve had a “Veterans Choice” card for quite some time. This card allows me to see private providers who are too far from a local VA facility as well as seeing providers for specialized care that the VA cannot provide. I’ve had a sleep study to determine why my CPAP machine no longer helps control my sleep apnea as it should. This was with a local private provider. The study led to another VA study last month because the findings from the two studies turned out to not give information that a memory card in machine displayed. I came home from the VA hospital yesterday with a new CPAP. I also have an appointment with local physical therapists to see if they can give me PT or whether it will help. This is because driving to Houston, about 150 miles round-trip, three times a week is not an option for me.

Yes, these are just a couple of examples for this year. Before that time I only saw a local hospital ER that I had to fight with because the VA was too slow in paying the bills. These two visits were after a VA nurse on the Houston “Telecare” line told me I needed to go to my closest hospital.

I have been pissed off at the VA a number of times. I raised a little hell during my visit yesterday. But the VA is the only systems that specialize in veterans either by directly treating them or having local providers do so. The VA is much improved than when I started using the system’s health care more than 20 years ago. They’re not perfect. But neither is the private medical system by itself.

To paraphrase the old joke, you know when the Koch Brothers are lying whenever they (or their minions) move their lips (or send out press releases.)

Diagnosis: Mass murder fatigue

Too many thoughts are racing back and forth. I am not “depressed” though I do suffer from depression. One Veterans Affairs nurse practitioner — not a psychologist — wrote into my record a diagnosis of “narcissistic personality disorder.” No, I don’t have any of that today. That is, as far as I can tell.

No I think many in our land suffer from what is wrong with me. Perhaps it hasn’t been officially declared by the “Diagnostic And Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” That is the “bible” of psychiatry. If the disorder hasn’t been categorized and named here is a suggestion: “Mass Murder Fatigue.”

I am aware that might sound narcissistic. Perhaps it is even flippant-sounding. But I am more or less serious.

The theater shooting last night in Lafayette, La., about 125 miles east straight down Interstate 10 from where I sit, is troubling in many ways. Thankfully, the Lafayette — I was there on business last week — shooting is less complicated and not likely wrapped up into Jihadism as was the mass killing in Chattanooga, Tenn. It was only a week ago that four Marines and a Navy petty officer died from that mass shooting. This time the venue was a recruiting office and a Navy and Marines reserve center. Muhammad Abdulazeez was the shooter in that assault. Abdulazeez died after one of the slain Marines and the center’s commanding officer returned fire, according to today’s Navy Times.

It seems this shooting last night was apparently a typical instance of severe mental illness, whether psychotic or overly narcissistic or just a crackpot. Whatever you call it. Sadly, I don’t really seem to care.

Not even the glasses and wigs found in the Motel 8 room in which the mass shooter stayed interested me. Motels have such a bad rap by the way. I could write a book.

It isn’t that I don’t care though about those two young women, known as bright and lovely, who lost their lives while watching a movie. Nor am I callous toward those who were injured in the carnage. But I am not very intrigued by the Lafayette shooter, a man who supposedly graduated from law school but was a perpetual crank, according to lawmen.

I would sound like a very bad person to say I don’t care about these mass shootings. Those killings seem to click like dominoes one after another. So no, it isn’t I don’t care. Me, who was almost blown away with a shotgun as a toddler, not caring? No, I think I care too much.

I care that our society has become so murderous. I care that the only cure our politicians, fed by the NRA-Koch money machine, can come up with is meeting these mass killings with more guns.

“Oh my neighbor’s tree is hanging over our fence.”

“Buy a gun.”

“My toe hurts.’

“Get a gun”

“Ain’t this heat something?”

“Get a gun?”

No, it’s that I care too much that I am left adrift in a world where people with intense personal problems think they can cure their ills by shooting as many people as possible. Then, they either kill themselves or force police to shoot them. Some would say, why not skip the killing and shoot yourself first? That is ridiculous. It is ridiculous as all the killings week after week. We have mentally ill people who need more help than having some shrink handing out the anti-depressive du jour.

Fatigue, that’s what I got. I need to go out in the woods and listen to the wind through the pines to clear my head. I like shooting targets. I don’t think that would be very therapeutic.

This crap of murder and mayhem is wearing me down. I have fatigue. Our society needs to get a grip. And that grip is not at the butt of a gun.

What do vets say about Trump or McCain? There is more than one opinion.

Anyone who has ever read the newspaper or watched television should know Donald Trump — despite his ability to make millions — is generally a buffoon who loves hearing himself speak.

The attack on Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in which Trump questions the long-time senator’s heroism, seems to do nothing insofar as advancing the race for the Republican nomination for president. With the exception of raising the geographically-inspired debate on immigration, one must wonder what in the hell does McCain have to do with this presidential race?

This is not to say genuine questions might be raised in the discussion of McCain and his past. During the period of time, as well as after, in which McCain was imprisoned in Vietnam he broke the military’s Code of Conduct. That Code, introduced by President Eisenhower in 1955, acts as a guide of obligations and responsibilities of U.S. service members who are in “harm’s way:”

U.S. Military Code of Conduct


I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.

When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

Those tenets are not military law but rather a code of ethics that would no doubt cause fellow troops to cast aspersions if an American service member strays too far from these six guidelines.

During the five and a half years McCain was a prisoner of war he would break this code due to reasons including physical torture. Though names were redacted, this paper McCain wrote during study at the National War College in Washington, D.C. in 1974 after repatriation. Some of the reasons for straying from the Code as well as praise for the same are spelled out in his paper.

Some World War II veterans held Vietnam vets in contempt. The reasons run from breaches of the Code of Conduct to one-year tours. Some of those resentments are still harbored by those surviving WWII vets. Likewise Vietnam vets sometime resent the government that sent them to war and seemingly forgot about them afterwards.

Perhaps “some” is not a grammatically-correct or an inaccurate measure of participants. But no doubt, the word serves as a true measure when it comes to veterans, of any era, and what feelings they may harbor.

Last week I wrote a local TV news reporter and complained about a story she did. The local reaction piece was on what veterans felt about arming recruiters and other “soft” military facilities in the wake of the Chattanooga shootings that resulted in four dead Marines and a dead Navy logistics specialist. The two veterans in the news piece were a retired sergeant major and retired captain who just happened to meet each morning for coffee. Being retired from the military and from  Southeast Texas, it was no big surprise to hear they believed the soft targets required hardening — with guns.

My complaint was there were two lifers who have met for years each morning for coffee. Does it seem that some veterans might disagree? Or the same for some civilians?

Perhaps the one redeeming quality of Trump and his McCain bashing is to show the American public that military veterans are not homogeneous. Most should already have that figured out, but not in this old world will the logical become the norm.

A new VA hospital in Orange, Texas? Man, give me some of that smoke!

Well, I’m back. Not that I went anywhere. I see I haven’t posted since last week. When I was last here Tropical Storm Bill was causing havoc with its torrents of rain. But alas, I have returned to the keyboard and summer has returned to Southeast Texas with its muggy days and afternoon bouts of here and there thunderstorms.

Having not written in a few days I do realize that many items of importance have gone unmentioned by the proprietor. To that, I must say, missed it. Missed that. Missed that as well!

Something just caught my attention on the local news though.

The story by KFDM Channel 6 right here in Beaumont, Texas, got me to wondering what some of the folks over in Orange County (Texas) have been  smoking?

I mean, the 70s were my heyday and that was supposed to be a time when folks were smoking a lot of different things. I was there, but I don’t remember much of it … being so long ago. With all these places allowing marijuana, like Colorado, I don’t know much what to say. I figured I would never see marijuana legal. Of course, it is only half-assed legal. It’s illegal, according to federal law. But a bunch of different local laws were passed making pot legal for everything to medicinal reasons to recreational. I think all places should just cover their bases and make it all legal. The federal government too!

But in this story on Channel 6 story by Lauren Huet, one wonders if she must have run into a bunch of folks over in Orange, between Beaumont and Louisiana, who are smoking something mighty potent.

The story this evening tells how locals over in Orange including the young county judge seem to think they can get the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to build an inpatient hospital there. That very idealistic. Very very idealistic.

I tell you why. Not so many years ago the VA went through the “CARES” years. And those years weren’t anything like the Care Bears. The GOP presidential years in the early “Oughts” (2000) could have been called the “Don’t CARES Bears.” Too bad I didn’t think of that back then.

CARES was an acronym for a VA-equivalent of the military Base Closing and Realignment Commission. CARES (Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services) had an “independent” commission of some distinguished individuals such as its chairman Everett Alvarez. “Ev” as he is known, was a Navy fighter-bomber pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam. The Navy commander spent almost nine years in the notorious prison camp sarcastically-known as the “Hanoi Hilton.”

There were a number of VA hospitals targeted by CARES for closure ranging from New York state’s Canadaigua VA facility to the Waco VA Hospital, now named after Waco-born Messman Doris “Dorie” Miller. Miller a black cook was one if not the first U.S. Navy hero of WWII. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroics during the Japanese bombing at Pearl Harbor. There has been a large admiration society over the years for Miller who believe he should have been a Medal of Honor recipient. However, his race is generally recognized as having kept him from that award.

When the news broke that the VA planned to close the Waco VA hospital, a cry to action quickly happened. A local committee made up of Waco leaders was formed. The then-Congressman for the area Chet Edwards, D-Waco, was on the rise in the Democratic party. He had been considered as a running mate for President Obama. Edwards position and his fervor to help veterans gave the CARES bunch and the VA quite a fight. Eventually the hospital was made a center for mentally ill vets.

The report tonight on Channel 6 mentioned that the U.S. House member representing Orange, Rep. Brian Babin-R, Woodville, had mentioned his willingness to help with the move to get a VA Hospital in Orange. The fact that the Baptist Hospital-Orange shut its doors as an inpatient center, the ER is still open, appears to present an opportunity for the VA to serve what was is estimated 6,000 veterans in Orange County and others in Southeast Texas.

An inpatient VA hospital in Orange, Texas, is nice as a pipe dream. The Strategic Plan for the VA through 2020 isn’t big, it isn’t even small, on more inpatient facilities. The department is still out to close long-established facilities.

I can understand an idealistic young war veteran elected as Orange County Judge, Brint Carlton, believing he can move heaven, earth and the U.S. Government. Congressman Babin is relatively new as a U.S. House member. However, he has been in politics for many years as a small-town mayor and running unsuccessfully for Congress.

Babin’s name became known in a negative light during his unsuccessful campaign against then U.S. Rep. Jim Turner, D-Crockett. As the National Journal reported during Babin’s election campaign to Congress, his Democratic opponent brought up:

” … Babin’s role in a notorious Texas campaign finance scandal, noting that he received $37,000 in illegal corporate money from his friend, (Orange) businessman Peter Cloeren, when he made his first House bid in 1996. Cloeren claimed the idea came from GOP Rep. Tom DeLay—the former House majority leader—but DeLay denied any involvement. Cloeren eventually pleaded guilty to campaign violations and paid a fine of $200,000, while the Federal Election Commission dismissed his claim that DeLay was responsible.

As for Babin, the FEC gave him a pass, ordering him to pay $30,000 in civil fines. The official who let him off the hook was Lois Lerner, the embattled former IRS official who recently was accused of giving extra scrutiny to tea-party groups.”

So Rep. Babin should know better, if no one else around Orange doesn’t. The odds on Orange being even considered for an outpatient facility — with a fairly large one 25 miles away in Beaumont and a huge inpatient hospital in Houston– seem pretty long-range.

Smoke up! Orange would have better luck getting pot legalized.

Flag pins only go fabric deep

Look at the photo below:

President Obama mugs it up with newly commissioned Coast Guard officers on May 20 at the USCG Academy in New London, Conn.

President Obama mugs it up with newly commissioned Coast Guard officers on May 20 at the USCG Academy in New London, Conn. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

What do you see besides new Coast Guard ensigns having what appears to be fun poses with their Commander-in-Chief upon the graduation of the 2015 class at the USCG Academy in New London, Conn. Well yes, there’s that. But what else?

Why no!! It can’t be!! OMG, IT IS!!!! If you look at the President’s left lapel, you will see, an American flag pin. (Well, I had to reduce the photo a bit, but trust me, go to https://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/photogallery/may-2015-photo-day and look for yourself.) Heavens to Betsy! What’s the world coming to?

I saw a discussion on a relative’s Facebook page lamenting that ABC News anchors and those from other networks don’t wear flag pins. People also complained it was just as that Obama guy who doesn’t wear an American flag pin. Well, what’s with his photo taken last week?

If you look through most photos of Obama on the White House Web site when he is wearing a coat, you will find he wears a flag lapel pin.

Looking through the various comments about ABC having some new order not to wear flag pins, I found that President Richard Nixon was the first president to wear a flag pin. The practice kind of waned until George W. Bush started wearing them again. Whether that is true I don’t know. I have read on snopes.com and numerous news stories that ABC had a policy saying on-air people shouldn’t wear symbols such as American flags in order to show impartiality. Apparently, this had been a policy for decades, not after 9/11 or recently, as some claim. Other networks  reportedly have no such policy.

There were a couple of other comments on this particular Facebook post that I feel a need to address. First is that something is “happening to America.” Some say they want their “country back.” Another site said that Obama and network anchors not wearing flag pins were a “slap in the face to all veterans.” I remarked on this post that I am a veteran and it doesn’t bother me in the least.

Symbols, I said, are a sign of patriotism and should not be confused with actually “being a patriot.”

This Memorial Day is supposed to remember all those who died in service of their country. It isn’t a day to remember us of something that never existed. You want a real mess? How about the late 1960s and particular during the Vietnam War? And not only the war but its aftermath. I feel I must constantly remind people that when I served in the Navy, from 1974 to 1978, folks never came up and said to a military member: “Thank you for your service.” Some might say “F*** you very much.” I never had that happen. I did have people, mostly my age, who recoiled from you because you were in uniform or was sporting a military haircut. I’m not saying everyone was like that, thankfully.

I was lucky to find some wonderful civilian people, especially in Gulfport, Miss. and San Diego, when I served there in the 1970s. I still do find good people who sincerely appreciate our service. This Memorial Day I think of those people as well as those who sacrificed all for their country. It doesn’t matter whether you fly a flag, wear a flag lapel or have a flag decal or ribbon on your car. Those things don’t matter. It’s what’s in one’s heart. Like John Prine sings:

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A cliche will likely prove right in two weeks

We have all heard the old cliche about how things being worse before they get better. Perhaps that is what will be soon happening to me.

By no means am I saying I want my situation worse so I suppose I should explain.

For several months now, I have been a virtual prisoner in my own abode. The pinnacle of these months have been taking a trip, mostly by Greyhound, to Houston to see a doctor at the VA Hospital. I mentioned one such trip yesterday. Fortunately, most were better than this week’s trip.

I have been on light duty, phone duty mostly, at work. I spent about six months doing that last year with a torn meniscus and surgery to repair it. Then came physical therapy for a month. Hopefully, this episode won’t going to take that long. I hope.

What has had me tied down for a short time this year has been — ta da — my left, second toe. Is that not appropriate for a blog named eightfeetdeep?

As I have mentioned before I have Type II diabetes. Some time ago I found a sore on the bottom of that toe. It, the toe, and the two adjacent ones are afflicted with hammertoe. You can read all about it in the link. As a result, the toe keeps being hammered when walking. With diabetes, such ulcerations tend to heal very slowly, if not ever.

I have been seeing a podiatrist for a couple of months now. He suggested, and I tend to agree, that hammertoe surgery is called for. This is a rather long and technical look at the operation written by a podiatrist. If you know a little of the basics of medical terminology, then it isn’t all that difficult. But basically, I will have some bones cut on in the toe and they should heal within a couple of weeks. I will probably need a week off after being “surged.” Isn’t that a better term than operated upon? No? Who cares what you think?

My podiatrist said he has done “thousands” of these surgeries and that they only take 10-to-15 minutes. Of course, there is the waiting around all morning, plus recovery, then figuring out how the hell I am getting home from Houston. I will figure that out and I better do so pretty damn quick because my surgery is in two weeks.

Oh my. Well, like I said. It will be worse before it gets better. Damned cliche!

People yell. Who cares?

These days I am still not running on all cylinders. Well, my truck isn’t. Perhaps I am not doing so as well.

I went for a routine, more or less, appointment yesterday with the neurologist at the Houston VA Hospital. I have developed a routine of traveling to the hospital by Greyhound bus rather than in my own vehicle. It can get expensive.

Luckily, the Houston Metro Rail runs near the Texas Medical Center. I can stop at one of the transit centers and catch the 1 bus to the VA Hospital. And vice versa.

The trip went okay, I made it back home in time to watch “Justified.” I did have one of those flashes of anger that kind upset my day.

I was at the Downtown Transit Center in Houston, just about a block from the Greyhound station. I was walking on the platform, going nowhere in particular, “just waitin’ on a train,” as Jimmie (the Yodeling Brakeman) Rodgers wrote and sang. All of a sudden, this loud voice boomed in my ear.

“HEY,” It was if this guy with the loud voice had a bullhorn in his hand.

When I turned around I saw this muscular black guy in his 30s or 40s — I will explain why I make that distinction in a moment. I must have had a puzzled look on my face because I was certainly puzzled.

“You were in my way and I hollered ’cause I wanted you to move,” said the guy, walking with a woman, not at all a beauty queen.

“You didn’t need to yell, I’m not deaf,” I said, yelling, not nearly as loudly as he.

I have no idea why this guy felt he needed to holler at me. His face couldn’t have been no more than a foot behind my ear. Catching a glance at this guy who was then standing on the platform with his companion, it seemed as if he was either angry or was perhaps just an angry guy.

Some guys are just mad or get mad at the drop of a hat. I was like that once, a whole lot like that, for a good while. It was a manifestation of depression, a psychiatrist told me, when I realized after spinal surgery that I was seriously depressed. “Depression is anger turned inside out,” the doctor said. Maybe so, but what is an umbrella turned inside out? Uh, don’t know that one either.

The wandering loud guy may have just had a bad day. Or a bad life. Maybe he just doesn’t like white people.

Race relations is a rather complicated matter in my case. I grew up in East Texas which is more like the Old South than the West. Hell, my great-grandfather fought in the Confederate Army. If you think about it, that’s pretty recent, relatively speaking. As I grew up, went to the Navy and worked with and became friends with people of all colors and ethnic groups, race became a bit less complicated.

But I also have realized some folks don’t like you because of your color. Wow! It took me a good part of my life, to discover a truth that millions others grew up knowing first hand. Stupid ass honky!

I don’t go around thinking about whether this person or that likes me or detests me. Well, maybe with some people. I have definitely been wrong about what people think. But here I am near 60. So I think: Why should I care?

It’s like the expression on a coffee cup my sister-in-law, Barbara, gave me upon graduating college some 35 years ago. I loved the sentiment then and still love it. It said: “Excuse me. You have obviously mistaken me for someone who gives a shit.”

There it is.