Friday, December 30, 2011

ICU Waiting Room

Mack Hall, HSG

ICU Waiting Room at Christmas

Artistic gilded deer repose in peace
Among the store-room-dusty plastic leaves
Of decorator-decorated wreaths;
From thence they gaze serenely down upon
Sneeze-spotted pics in People magazine
And empty coffee cups recyled from
Recycled natural fibers recycled
From green fair trade recycled soy inks.

No ikons grace this dying-place, no cross,
No crucifix to focus farewell prayers;
Christ’s people gather lovingly around,
Their baseball caps thrall-ringed about their heads
In devout remembrance of passing souls.
Their cell-phone aps pass through their vague, weak eyes
As once the ancient biddings and prayer-worn beads
Slipped gently through the lips and hands of men.

The future is unknown, but at last report
‘Tis civilization on life-support.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Begging Season

Begging by healthy people has become fashionable in East Texas, reflecting a decay in demeanor.  On Tuesday morning a couple of large men in orange vests were in and out of traffic along US96 in Buna, holding out large buckets with crosses.  What organization styling itself a church would promote this?  Whether or not this is illegal, this is undignified.  Get a job, fellows.

The intersection at Dowlen & 96 in Beaumont has been free of beggars for several years -- another purported church once had children begging in the streets; can't imagine Jesus being happy with child endangerment -- but the IHOP doorway and parking lot are increasingly infested with healthy looking individuals begging.  On one Saturday two young women driving a Mustang and smoking cigarettes drove around to ask for money. 

In the spring and summer more and more adults will set young people to begging along the highways for sports trips and, ironically, safe-graduation projects without even the metaphorical fig-leaf of a car wash.  What does this teach the next generation?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Light Shines in Jasper

Mack Hall

A Light Shines in Jasper

Last week, nine new Jasper nursing graduates were capped and pinned before their families, friends, instructors, and God in a traditional ceremony that has graced this community each year for some four decades.

Over forty years ago a number of Jasper visionaries considered the needs and possibilities of health care in East Texas, and persuaded the people to vote the creation of a hospital district.

Among the first fruits of this dream were Jasper Memorial Hospital and, shortly after, JMH’s state-sanctioned LVN school taught by my aunt, Rhoda Holmes, RN and definitely old-school. 

Many people agree that the only thing Rhoda, of happy memory, got wrong was the design of the school’s first nursing cap, which looked like a misshaped cold-drink cup with some blue fringe. 

More recently, other far-seeing Jasper folks helped facilitate a satellite campus of Angelina College, to which the Jasper LVN program has since been transferred.  The hospital practicum is as intense as ever, but vocational nursing students now join students from other disciplines in college English, math, and science courses.   The success is demonstrable – Jasper LVN candidates are among Texas’ best in the state board exams.

Upon graduate, Jasper LVN candidates join for one last lesson, and that lesson is in faith and ethics in a traditional pinning and capping ceremony which originated with Florence Nightingale over 150 years ago.

For this dignified ceremony Jasper nursing graduates wear traditional white uniforms and traditional white caps.

And at this point your humble scrivener digresses: what is with the moldy-looking scrubsuits that now infect hospitals?  When, once upon a time, a suffering patient saw the white uniform of an RN or LVN approaching, he knew for a certainty that the (metaphorical) cavalry had arrived, and that all was going to be better.  Nowadays the patient cannot tell whether the slovenly-dressed individual walking the ward is one of the health care professionals -- the nice lady who tidies up, a surgeon, an imaging technician, the charge nurse -- or some Occupy thug who wandered in to relieve himself on the floor.

End of grouchy aside.

Dais dignitaries for the occasion were: Nadia Martindale, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC; Melvin Johnson, MA-English, MA-History; Whitney Craven-Larkin, LVN; Sharon Buffalo, MSN, RN; Charlet Blades, MSN, RN; Amber Murphy, BSN, RN; Elizabeth Powell, M.Ed, RN; Donald R. Samuel, M.D., M. Gilliland, M.D.; Lynn Pearson,M.D.; P. Bidwell, M.D.; Rodney Pearson, Jasper Chief of Police; and Honore Bailey, RN and some other letters after her name, Angelina College nursing instructor, role model, ministering angel, and, yes, of the old school.

This year’s graduates were: Pamela Smith Davis, Rokeshia Nicole Elam, Jana Wise-Horton, Chelsea Nichol Livingston, Candace Cheri Locke, Amanda Michelle Lundquist, Kari Michelle Martin, Denise Lynn O’Neal, and Christie Crawford Williams.

The founders of Jasper’s growing medical community are mostly gone now, but they left a wonderful legacy.  Jasper Memorial Hospital serves more people than ever, health care providers find the area a positive place for establishing their professional practices, Angelina College continues the excellence of the Jasper LVN program, and the Mary Dickerson will perhaps soon enjoy a renaissance in providing medical service.

The Lady with the Lamp (who is just as likely to be the Gentleman) now carries a high-tech pocket flashlight and a palm computer on her night rounds, and the white uniform has been sacrificed temporarily for (gag) scrubs, but the professionalism, the skill, and the care remain forever.

Those squeaky shoes a wakeful patient might hear walking the quiet hospital corridors at 0-dark-thirty – those aren’t really shoes, those are the wings of an angel.


Christopher Hitchens -- Maybe Not So Bad

Any one who laughs at the Dalai Lama and Princess Diana must contain some divine spark.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Horse - It's what's for Dinner

Mack Hall, HSG

Horse – It’s what’s for Dinner

It hath behooved – hooved, get it? -- our current government to auto-pen an edict permitting once again the sale of horse meat for human consumption.  For all of us who have been whinnying about Washington compromising the economy through oppressive regulations, let us at least be grateful that we will have more to eat this Christmas.

Horse – well, it’s probably tastier than a baked Alaskan.

Will menus soon offer palomino ‘n’ potatoes, or maybe chipped mare on toast?  Pinto beans and real pinto – yum! But the FDA will have to determine if horsemeat is a staple diet or a stable diet.

Whoever thought that Dale Evans’ mare Buttermilk would someday be served with buttermilk, or that Seabiscuit would appear on a plate next to a biscuit!   Trigger is now part of that famous complete, nutritious breakfast, and Gene Autry’s Champion is the breakfast of champions.

With our government’s decision that Tonka may be served as a main course – or mane course -- the remakes of classic horse movies and television shows may not be to our (ahem) taste:

Justin Morgan had a Horse for Lunch.
The Horse Cookerer
The Miracle Whip of the White Stallions
Blackened Beauty
Smoky the Smoked Cowhorse
Fury – the Story of an Horse D’oeuvre, and the Boy Who Ate Him
Hidalgo to Go
The Pony Expresso
My Meal Trigger
Lunchy of Chincoteague
My Food Flicka
The Blackened Stallion
National Velvet Cake
Mr. Ed a la Milanaise
They Died With Their Horseshoes On
The Appaloosa Appetizer
My Little Petit Fours Pony
Brighty of the Grand Cutlet
The Saddle Club Sandwich
The Flame-Broiled of Araby
The Horsemaster Chefs
Fried of Kentucky

No, it just won’t do.  We Americans bond as strongly with our horses we do with our dogs and cats, and we do not bake our beagles or cook our kitties. 

The horse is a noble animal, brave and strong and fiercely loyal, not unlike a dachshund, only much larger.  Since we eat cows and birds and sheep, balking at dining on Dobbin might appear to be somewhat illogical.  Even so, to kill and cook an animal who for thousands of years has served humanity in war and peace, in fields and streets, carrying us and our dreams, seems to be a degradation of civilization.  Our ideals are the Crusader knight and the American cowboy, brave and good, each on his great horse.  We do not admire cannibals, not even the ideological ones.


"One of the Only"

This unfortunate phrase is quite common now, but so are houseflies. "Only" means one; thus, to say "one of the only" is to say "one of the one" or "only of the only." Presumably the writer, in a hurry, was trying to say "one of the few."

Saturday, December 3, 2011 Gets Defensive (and their feedback site is always down)

Dear L. Mack Hall,

Thanks for submitting a customer
review on Amazon. Your review
 could not be posted to the website
 in its current form. While we
 appreciate your time and comments,
 reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:
We encourage you to revise your review and
 submit it again. A few common issues to keep
 in mind:

  • Written reviews must be at least 20 words long.
  •  The ideal length is 75 to 500 words.
  • Your review should focus on specific features of
  •  the product and your experience with it. Feedback
  •  on the seller or your shipment experience should
  •  be provided at
  • We do not allow profane or obscene content. This
  •  applies to adult products too.
  • Advertisements, promotional material or repeated
  •  posts that make the same point excessively are
  •  considered spam.
  • Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or
  •  personally identifiable content in your review.
We welcome your honest opinion about products -
positive or negative. We do not remove reviews because
 they are critical. We believe all helpful information can
 inform our customers buying decisions. If you have
 questions about the product or opinions that do not fit
 the review format, please feel free to use the Customer
 Discussions feature on the product page.

Review it? I'm not sure it's even being
 shipped., November 23, 2011
By L. Mack Hall (Kirbyville, Texas USA)
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Cts New Sunday Missal Standard
 Edition (Missal Sunday) (Latin and English Edition)
I ordered five copies last week, but DHL advises
 me that the order was shipped via Israel, New Jersey,
 and Finland, and was signed for by someone named
 Gustaffson in October!

I recommend holding off on ordering until somebody

 somewhere knows something.