austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

You are there, I know it's true, but where are you?

As we drove up to the hospital with my mother laying down on the back seat she started to feel better, even with the unpleasant arrangement of using her purse and the car door as a pillow. She was curious to get her pulse measured, though, and since she was not in ideal shape and my father was driving also not in ideal shape it fell to me to try taking her heart rate. I've never done this before, but I have seen it glancingly in various medical shows like M*A*S*H on those occasions when I was watching and not just listening, so you might expect some comedy to arise from this.

The problem is that even with my mother, the former registered nurse, directing me I couldn't figure out where her pulse was. I was feeling with my index and middle finger; there just wasn't anything there. Finally with some searching around I did feel a little rhythmic pulse, which felt to me like it was pulsing about one time a second, but to actually measure it it ... turns out the Toyota Something's dashboard clock doesn't have seconds. Neither does my father's cell phone clock. Nor my mother's. The only watch we could find with a second hand was my mother's, for which she had to take off her watch, which meant losing the spot I was listening to, which I could never find again. After enough of this my mother decided she didn't really need to know her pulse that badly. I didn't volunteer my guess of ``probably around 60 beats per minute''.

Meanwhile phone information started trickling in: my other brother, the one who doesn't pass out when the idea of health care is thought of by anyone in the room, was in New York City and heading home even though my mother said not to do that. He was heading home anyway. (And it turned out he was actually in Brooklyn.) My sister, meanwhile, and her husband were also in New York City, and we couldn't imagine why. My only guess was the Horse Show --- my sister's one of those Horse People you hear so much about outside centaur communities --- but my mother pointed out they haven't had the Horse Show in Madison Square Garden in years. My father guessed the Auto Show, assuming there was one going on.

My mother told me to text message my sister and ask what she was doing in Manhattan. I don't know how to send text messages. She got out her phone and set it up. I had just started to compose a message, with an eloquent, ``Hi'', when the phone rang. It was my sister, checking in. (They were in the city for the Auto Show, so my father was quite pleased that he was right.) I had to admire how useful text messages are for communication.

Trivia: Of the six thousand dollars worth of ice which Frederick Tudor sold in Savannah, Georgia, in the summer of 1820, about one thousand was sales to the wealthy as a luxury; the remainder went to tradesmen such as butchers and dairymen to preserve produce. Source: The Frozen-Water Trade, Gavin Weightman.

Currently Reading: Wall Street: How It Works And For Whom, Doug Henwood. It features one of the best cover quotes I've seen since the Singaporean Video CD release of Galaxy Quest: ``You are scum ... it's tragic that you exist'', Norman Pearlstine, previously executive editor of The Wall Street Journal.

PS to everybody in the entire world: stop saying ``teabag'' unless you are discussing the making of tea. Maybe even then. You've used up the word.


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