Medical Bills

medical_363124952_std

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird’s chest.

After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and sadly said: “I’m sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has passed away.”

The distressed woman wailed: “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am sure. Your duck is dead,” replied the vet.

“How can you be so sure?” she protested. “I mean you haven’t done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something.”

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room. He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck’s owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom.

He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head. The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out of the room.

A few minutes later he returned with a cat. The cat jumped on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.

The vet looked at the woman and said: “I’m sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck.”

The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.

The duck’s owner, still in shock, took the bill. “$150!” she cried, “$150 just to tell me my duck is dead!”

The vet shrugged. “I’m sorry. If you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with the Lab Report and the CAT scan, it’s now $150.”

***

You can get much farther with a kind word and a
gun than you can with a kind word alone.
Al Capone

***

President Trump was being entertained by an
African leader. They’d spent the day discussing
what the country had received from the Russians
before the new government kicked them out.

“The Russians built us a power plant, a highway,
and an airport. Plus we learned to drink vodka and
play Russian roulette.”

Donald Trump frowned. “Russian roulette’s not
a very friendly game.” The African leader smiled.
“That’s why we developed African roulette. If you
want to have good relations with our country,
you’ll have to play. I’ll show you how.”

He pushed a buzzer, and a moment later six
magnificently built, nude women were ushered in.
“You can choose any one of those women to give you
oral sex,” he told Trump.

“Unreal,” The Donald said, “But it doesn’t seem much
like Russian roulette.”

“Trust me!” he said. “One of them is a cannibal.”

 

 

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Flash Fiction #100 – Milestone

Milestone

MILESTONE

This is my 100th Flash Fiction, so it‘s a milestone – or is it??!

The first Flash Fiction I wrote, I did so as a challenge by my blog-friend, BrainRants, who had tried it. The blog-post of Rochelle’s that I accessed was not a F.F., and the photo I downloaded was that of her Grandmother, which I used to write a [pioneering story.]

That first one was 101 words, just to prove that I could do it. Every one since has been exactly 100 words.  It, and a few of its followers, I did just for personal satisfaction, and to extend my stat numbers.  I soon learned how to LinkIn, and joined the group.  Christmas/ New Years -2014/15, Rochelle didn’t post a prompt photo, but I felt a surge of creativity, and used one of my own photos, of a double rainbow, to write a [Sci-Fi short story] that didn’t get linked.

(Technology apparently still eludes me.  It’s FF #32  😯 )

Inspiration does not strike every week, but number 100 is just over two years from my first. Along the way, I’ve read some interesting stories, and met some creative writers and nice folks.  Thanx, to Rochelle and the rest of you for having me along.  This week’s submission follows.

Clown

Copyright -John Nixon

PIANO, MAN

There was something strange about this piano. He’d got it for a song.  A classical pianist had used it for practice, but had mysteriously disappeared.

He had tried to play upbeat lilts, but they always seemed to come out sedate and serious.

Today, while playing for the kids, in his Happy the Clown show, he had reached up to turn the page, and somehow caught his hand. When he reached up to free it, his other hand got tangled….  and he’d ended up – where??

How could he be inside a piano??  And who was this old guy with the tuxedo??!

***

Here’s what he was playing, on YouTube ‘circus march piano’

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Op-Ed Joust

Op-Ed

During the recent Canadian Federal Election campaign, which threatened to become as long and strange as the American one, a failed municipal politician with very Liberal leanings had the following rant/letter about the Conservative Prime Minister published in the local paper.

A QUESTIONABLE TACTIC

I’m no fan of Stephen Harper. No surprise there.  But not withstanding my political leanings, I am deep disturbed that he is, by accounts, a five-question leader.

On a daily basis he has been limiting questions from the national media to four, and one from local media, with no follow-ups. I am unaware of any such limits by the other party leaders.

We are in the middle of a profoundly critical debate about Canada’s future, so we need to hear clear answers to the most difficult questions that face our country. But the person who wants us to continue to support him for four years is limiting reporters to a mere five questions a day.

My conclusions may be ungenerous, but I would call this hiding. Personally, I don’t think any of our leaders should be hiding behind arbitrary rules that limit our ability to ask tough questions of them every day of the campaign, and have them answer them thoroughly and comprehensively, so as to be transparent and accountable.

Perhaps, just perhaps, this limit of five is the most telling indicator of how accountable Harper really is and is prepared to be. Maybe not.

John Ryrie

Fortunately, a fresh shipment of snark had just arrived here at Grumps R Us, and I was able to provide him with the following.

 

ON THE JOB

In his, A Questionable Tactic letter of Oct. 14, John Ryrie may have missed a point because, like me, he’s an old fogy.

Today’s banal public media circus is all too full of inconsequential 140 character Kardashian Tweets and Instagram photos of someone’s lunch of baked beans.

By limiting the media to five questions, Harper is forcing them to focus and do their job.  They have to plan ahead and ask incisive questions, more relevant than, “What color socks are you wearing?” or, “Are you betting on the Blue Jays?”

Five serious questions per day should be enough.  This allows him to get on with the important job of governing the country, rather than stopping to feed the Info-tainment industry.

 

Grumpy Old Archon (as usual)

 

Things get strange during an election campaign, as the Americans continue to learn.  Media reporters, and Liberal opponents, feel they can just stop the Prime Minister and pump him for information so they can direct their counterattack.  He’s got two jobs.  One is to run a campaign.  The other is to run the country – until he was defeated (Sadly, in my opinion.)

Perhaps the other party leaders have the free time to kibitz with reporters.  That’s what the P.M.’s Media Office, and press releases are for.  I can hardly imagine, “President Obama, will we be bombing Palmyra?” or, “Pope Francis, are you going to sanctify gay marriage?”

Have you Americans got some odd election occurrences you’d like to make us Canucks aware of?

 

Serendipity

Storm Warning

GOD hates Toronto

Through reading Cordelia’s Mom’s submissions, (as well as her other fun and interesting posts) I have been introduced to another entertaining and helpful lady.  Marilyn Armstrong, over at her Serendipity blog site, occasionally posts a photo prompt as an inspiration.

She calls it the Serendipitous Photo Story Prompt.  You can write a short story, or a long one, about her picture.  It can be fact or fiction, or even poetry.  It’s okay if it inspires you to use one of your own photos, or a picture you found on the internet.  It’s even acceptable if you post an interesting picture with just a caption, or a comment.  Hey, if that isn’t Serendipitous, I don’t know what is.

Locally, May was one of the driest on record – no rain for the first 29 days – then we got an entire month’s precipitation in two days.  It wasn’t as bad as Texas, or Germany, but it had its moments.

I got the above picture from the son’s friend, who had to be in Toronto.  We were 75 miles away when this happened, and I’m glad!

#471

Flash Fiction #42

Barbecue

 

 

 

 

© Copyright – Rachel Bjerke

Thinking Outside The Box

Fountain, where are all the people?

I don’t know, Barbecue.  We used to be the center of entertainment.  They cooked meat and roasted corn on you, and splashed fingers and sailed little boats on me.  They had picnics.  They enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air.  They laughed, and talked, and joked, and played out here.

Now, the few times I see a person, they carry something in their hand that glows.  I hear them complain, “There’s no bars out here!”

I fear we’ve been abandoned.  Now they’re trapped inside, not merely the house but their heads also.  It’s not healthy!

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Dear Abby

Dear Abby, and her twin sister Ann Landers have both retired, and later died.  Abby’s daughter, Jeanne, was (is?) carrying on the advice column her mother penned.  Other yentas, both Jewish and not, have come, and some have rapidly gone.  From one of them, I give you the following question and answer.

Dear Abby; I recently discovered that my son, who is 17, is a homosexual.  We are part of a church group, and I fear that, if people in that group find out, they will make fun of me for having a gay child.

He won’t listen to reason, and he will not stop being gay.  I feel as if he is doing this just to get back at me for forgetting his birthday for the past three years.  I have a very busy work schedule.

Please help him make the right choice in life by not being gay.  He won’t listen to me, so maybe he’ll listen to you.

Feeling Betrayed

 

Dear Betrayed; You could teach your son an important lesson by changing your own sexuality, to show him how easy it is.  Try it for the next year or so.

Stop being a heterosexual to demonstrate to your son that a person’s sexual orientation is a matter of choice – to be dictated by one’s parents, the parents’ church, and social pressure.

I assume that my suggestion will evoke a reaction that your sexuality is at the core of who you are.  The same is true for your son.  He has the right to be accepted by his parents for being exactly who he is.

When you “forget” a child’s birthday, you are basically negating him as a person.  It is as if you are saying that you have forgotten his presence in the world.  How very sad for him.

Pressuring your son to change his sexuality is wrong.  If you cannot accept him as he is, it might be safest for him to live elsewhere.

A group that could help you and your family figure out how to navigate this is pflag.org (In Canada, see pflagcanada.ca.)  This organization is founded for parents, families, friends and allies of LGBT people, and has helped countless families through this challenge.  Please research and connect with a local chapter.

***

Advice columnists have to be well-mannered and respectful.  Me??  My reply would probably started with, “Really, Bob??!  Do you think you could possibly make this any more about you?”  In this day and age, it still amazes me how powerful the religiously-driven willfully-blind syndrome can be.  Bad enough that he still thinks that being gay is a choice, and one made just to spite him and his ego, but even worse, that he thinks some advice columnist can, or will, do, what he as a parent, cannot.  There are none so blind, as those who will not see.

***

A man walks into a bookstore….

Sadly, this is not the opening line to a joke – at least not intentionally.  The “man” is the well-known, powerfully connected pastor of a large Protestant New York church.  After thundering from the pulpit about an attack on the Christian faith, he calls all his political buddies and complains to them, to the point that he is contacted by the TV show, The View, where he gets to complain an national television about how Christianity don’t get no  respect.

What was the trigger for all this, “Alas, woe is us?”  While he was in the bookstore, he saw some Bibles which were on sale.  That would seem to be a good thing for Christians….except, the shelf tag, advertising the sale, also listed them under “Fiction.”

As a minor addendum, after he finished whining to Elizabeth Hasselback, he finally admitted that it might have merely been an inattentive clerical oversight.  I think that, like above, the It’s All About Us button was pushed too soon and too hard, but, if it’s good enough for Brittany Spears and Lady Gaga, it’s good enough for the Bishop of New York.  I say, only change the tag when he can prove they’re not.

***

The pastor of a fairly large suburban Philadelphia Methodist church has been suspended for 30 days, to reflect on his actions and attitudes.  It was not said that he was suspended without pay, merely that his pastoral powers were temporarily removed.  He cannot perform weddings, or offer Holy Sacrament.

What was his crime, you ask?  He married his son, two years ago.  No, no!  Not like that!  He officiated at his son’s wedding.  I still see some confused faces, although that’s common on this site.  I’ll give you a hint.  Psst, his son is gay, and the Methodist Church don’t allow no equal rights, gay marriage ‘round here!

He was invited to a private little Star Chamber meeting by the ruling synod, who chastised him for marrying gays, in defiance of Church doctrine.  He fired back, rebuking them and the Methodist Church for not being more loving, acceptant, and inclusive.  That, at this late date, is what actually got him censured, this lack of blind faith and obedience, and of course, a tendency to think for himself.

This man has not been afflicted with the trials of Job himself, but I find it ironic, that, in a Denomination which does not believe in gays, three of the four children of this pastor, are gay.  It’s no wonder he’s fighting for their equality.

I love Jesus; it’s just many of his followers that I hate!

Food Service

On the third Saturday of November, we went to the Farmers’ Market.  They have the steel frame of the temporary replacement building up, and the plasticised canvas cover over it.  They’re just working on heating systems and internal power supply.  It should be ready for re-opening soon.  We later made several more shopping stops, and we all, but especially the daughter, had a big day.

The brunch meeting of the Free Thinkers was the next day, but she was nearing her next pain-med infusion treatment, and was just too weak and sore to attend.  She urged the son and me to go without her.

After parking, we picked up three beer bottles and three cans which had been left, after parties had spilled outside the night before.  We walked downstairs to the door that is always open, to find it locked, because of sewer work being done outside, so we walked back up two stories, to the door which is usually locked.  It’s a good thing the daughter didn’t come along.

Since we didn’t stop to pick up daughter/sister, we were early, arriving at 10:20, for a 10:30 meeting.  Something about the new hotel’s service caused them to begin the meeting at ten AM.  The son and I are not “members” so we weren’t notified, but we weren’t the only ones.  Other members continued to amble in after us.

Two full tables and a part table, where we soon joined the meeting in progress, greeted us.  Sitting across from each other ensured that both the son and I were surrounded, and well supplied with copious, varied conversation.  A later move to an emptying table, as the early birds left, garnered us more erudite, and non-Atheist, discussion.  My “boy”, who is almost BrainRants’ age, wants to go again.

The room was set up.  The coffee was ready.  The buffet was available, and more Sterno heaters were under the chafing dishes.  The food was warm.  Scrambled eggs with cheese had been replaced with eggs Benedict, a dish I refuse to touch.  The (cheap) ex-Mennonite lady demonstrated that there is menu service, something I may look at in the future.

She wears a pair of glasses, but took them off to read the menu.  I don’t know what the glasses do for her, but, if her nose had been a quarter-inch longer, she wouldn’t have been able to see it.  She is working with the chapter president to produce a Humanist/Atheist study module for the regional (and Ontario) schools.  No school, or teacher, will even mention it without having authorized course paperwork available for preparation.

She wants to have a list of influential people who are Humanists/Atheists.  The SOFREE website mentions Canadians such as actress/director, Sarah Polley, Canadian rock group Rush’s singer/songwriter, Geddy Lee (attn. Madame Weebles), actress Caitlynne Medreck, and scientist/oncologist/linguist, Rob Buckman.

She asked the room at large to send her names of others, especially Americans.  She has a Smartphone, but no computer, and has never seen a movie nor ever watched any TV.

There will be another meeting on Dec. 15, another early, third Sunday, but it will be overshadowed by the Winter Solstice party they have scheduled.  The calendar, this year, allows them to celebrate the 21st, on a Saturday.  We have decided to skip the December brunch, and not return till January.  We’ll have to check the website, or email someone to find out if they’ve returned to Waterloo, and what the start time is.

Because the two top (male) execs are members, the solstice party will be held at the premier local curling club.  They offered to take anyone interested, out for a quick instruction and practice session.  I picked up, and investigated a variant word usage.  The one man mentioned “a quick jitney”.  I was aware of meanings of that word being about unlicensed cabs, bus-type van-cabs, and small motorized non-autos.

In this usage, it refers to an unscheduled, fun match/game, with teams picked from a pool of attendees, particularly referring to curling, or lawn bowling, which is where I first saw the term as a child.

Shortly after I started working 40 years ago, at the building the son now works in, at the corner where you turn off the highway out of town, a six unit strip mall was erected.  Recently, it has changed hands.  Taking advantage of the destruction of the Farmers’ Market building, the internal walls were torn out, and it became a pretentious new boutique Market.

A recent newspaper had a two-and-a-half page congratulatory, Grand Opening announcement.  It has two meat vendors, one specializing in beef, the other in pork.  It has a seafood outlet, a coffee company, and a deli/cheese sales and lunch seating area.

Part of their advertising tries to pull disappointed patrons of the Farmers’ Market, but, it’s bright and cute, and I assume, more expensive.  A few might make the switch, but it just doesn’t have the same look/feel, and there are no vegetables, plants, Mennonite baking, or much parking.

That was my weekend (two weeks ago), how was yours??   By sheer coincidence of an every-three-days posting schedule, today, December 2, 2013 is our 46th wedding anniversary.  Don’t I get frequent flyer miles or something??   😉