Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ category

The Defintion of Fiction

January 14, 2009

        You remember how I told you I had a few folks here in Harvey County who were gonna look over my manuscript?  I didn’t want them to feel the need to do an all out edit, and I didn’t want to eat up too much of their time.  I was more interested as to whether it was relevant to their walk of life.

        One was a creative writing teacher.  She said she found it a compelling story with lovable characters, especially Indie.  She did say it was in need of copy editor.  She invited me and my wife over to dinner, partly to talk about the story, but also to give me an English lesson.  My mom was an English teacher, and I begged this teacher lady not to tell my mama how many typos and grammatical errors I committed.  I did not plan to show it to mom until I took it to the next level.  I promised the English teacher I would visit her class and tell her students they better pay attention to something besides girls and guitars.

           Another was a minister, and he loved Indie too, so much so he could overlook a few cuss words or the fact Dr. Bibey could be a smart-ass at times.  He promised he wouldn’t tell mama that either.

        The third was from a lawyer.  I didn’t ask for any kind of binding legal opinion; I didn’t think that would be fair.  I did want his legal perspective, though.  Was it realistic?  Did it make sense to a lawyer?  This guy is in a position to know.

          He had two statements that made me happy.  For one, he knew a new doctor who might move to Harvey County, and the cat plays flat-pick guitar.  Can you beat that?  This is a well connected bluegrass lawyer if there ever was one.

        But as far as the book, the other comment was even more important.  When this lawyer speaks I listen.  I have all respect for him.   For him, the story brought back a flood of memories of many different people he had run into over the years.  However, he could not positively ID a single one of the characters, even though he was in and out of Harvey County all through the time the Mandolin Case went on.  It reminded him of dozens of old cases.  He said the story did as fine a job as he has ever seen to show the truth but not tell the facts. 

        Man, I can’t wait to call my agent.  He has spent years trying to teach me the definition of fiction.  He is  a very strict man, but if I showed the truth and did not tell the facts I might be close to the standard he demands.  As the Nashville Bluegrass Band said, “I’m a slow learner,” but I’m getting there.

Dr. B


Mike Marshall for Secretary of the Arts

January 13, 2009

        First the disclaimer:  I have spent my life as a country doctor and part-time bluegrass picker, and know little else.  My agent says I am a hopelessly naive country boy, and he has not been wrong about me yet.  But I guess it is O.K. to write my personal thoughts, so here goes.

        Recently an e-mail caught my attention.  It was an on-line petition to nominate Mike Marshall for Secretary of the Arts.  In spite of the fact I know nothing of politics, I can not imagine a better choice.

        According to the e-mail, there has been consideration in the Obama administration to create a Secretary of the Arts position.  Your first question might be why do we need this.

        To my mind we need it more than ever.  One thing that bothers me about modern politics is it has been so divisive.  Given the Obama administration has made it a point to try to bring us together rather than divide us, it seems the arts would be a good place to start.

        Mike is the kind of artist who brings that mentality to the table.  He can communicate with an old bluegrass picker like me, but is also at ease with the high school orchestra kids he does workshops with.  He lives in Oakland, California, and grew up in Florida.  He loves the Gators (listen to his tune Gator Strut) but is equally at home in Brazil jamming away with the choro guys.  As a youth, he toured with David Grisman, and was in Europe with the great French jazz violinist Stephan Grapelli.  As Mike has said, music is like the wind.  It knows no boundaries and does not recognize artificial divisions of human beings.  Mike Marshall believes in allowing people their diversity and freedom, not only in music and the arts, but life in general.  I find the notion of his involvement in government a very unifying concept. 

        The petition for Mike Marshall has gathered momentum.  If you love the arts, and believe it brings important benefits to civilized society, check out the Secretary of the Arts concept, and tell folks about it.  It seems to me a step in the right direction.

Dr. B

When Doc gets Sick

January 12, 2009

         Old Doc is sick today, but don’t feel sorry for me.  It is just laryngitis, and it’ll pass.  As Indie would say, it’s just a thing.

        I didn’t stay home, ’cause I don’t know how not to go to work.  (That is if you call it work- it’s just doctoring to me- no heavy lifting involved.)  I’ve been lucky.  A couple days out in the third grade for the mumps, and two Fridays post cataract surgery is all I have missed through the years.  I’ve been at this business long enough to know your luck can change overnight, so I ain’t bragging.  I’m just thankful for my good fortune.

        For the most part I am against sickness, not that I have much control over it.  I will say one thing for it, though.  If we were never ill, we could not appreciate being well.  When ever I am sick, I always think of my patients and friends afflicted with a chronic illness.  They live that way every day, and the good days are the exception.  I reserve my sympathy for them; they have it far worse than a guy like me who only deals with it sporadically.

         A doctor needs to be sick every so often.  If for nothing else, we need to be reminded what out patients go through.  And I’ll be well in a week or ten days; just in time for Neuse River’s next gig.  

Dr. B

The Ranks of the Rinky Dink/Hoop Jumping 101

January 6, 2009

        Like all modern professions there is a certain amount of hoop jumping that goes with the territory.  Some of it is a bit silly, but I figure you gotta roll with life.  I take it for what it is.

        For example, we Docs have to periodically take some on-line kind of test to prove we know our business.  This is no problem for me.  I never forget a patient, and if you know them you can figure out the right answers to the questions every time.  

        I decided to have a little fun this last go-round.  I was done with the simulation in no time flat.  To tell you the truth, I am concerned for any Doc who can’t blaze through that no sweat.  Here ‘s where the fun came in.  After you got all the basics down, you could start to enter questions the computer had to answer.  I started out with the easy ones:

        “Does your head feel bigger than a peck bucket?”

        “I am sorry, I do not recognize.”

        “O.K.  Your  knee be swolle?”

        “Sorry- do not recognize.”

         “Let’s talk about your diet.”


        “Last time you were in you said you had three thirds of a biscuit for breakfast.  Any change?”


        Pretty soon the machine began to beg me to leave.   “You may exit the simulation.  You may exit now.”

       “Hell, no.  I have some more questions for you.”

       “Pardon?  You may  exit now.”   Then, “Congratulations, you have passed this clinical simulation.”

        “Wait a minute.”

         “Have a nice day.”

         Of course, this all has little to do with doctoring, but everything to do with life lessons.  I have learned to deal with people, and if you make enough of a pest out of yourself those kind of folks will go away.  And too, I have to give my kids a lot of credit.  They are computer geniuses.  As for me when I was a kid I used a slide rule, and as I have said before a bluetooth was something in need of a dentist, but this old man is adaptable.

        I can jump through hoops with the best of  em.  It’s like GOEMA, the government office for the elimination of medical abbreviations.  To stay in compliance, I have to join the ranks of the rinky dink to continue to play ball, but I do.  For my efforts I get to be a doctor.  Other than being a husband and father, it was my most sacred privilege on earth, so I do what I have to to keep being Dr. B.

Dr. B

Rural Health Reform

January 1, 2009

        My friend and colleague, Dr. Therese Zink, is on the move.   She is the Med School Professor organized the Country Doc Compilation due out in 2010.  (I ain’t gonna let y’all forgot old Dr. B has an article in it!)

        Well, she’s done it again.  She’s now joined forces with the blog world, and has a new forum to address the problems faced by Docs like me.  Man, I heard Obama’s people will read this thing, so it is big.  

        I have a notion before it’s all over, Dr. Zink is gonna be like a female Moses and lead us all to the Promised Land.  One thing is certain- she has a very good handle on the problems faced by everyday Country Docs like me.

        Y’all check her out.  Here is her address:

A Bluegrass Wedding

December 30, 2008

        The bride was beautiful and the the groom was handsome.  They sang some of their vows.  The Circuit Riders backed them up as the house band.  The closing tribute to the bride was an old Charlie Waller number, “Remembrances of You,” a favorite of mine.  They did it perfect pitch three part harmony. 

        The ceremony was reverent and respectful of tradition.  The congregation and the bridal party recited the Lord’s Prayer in unison.  The music was acoustic, but not all bluegrass.  Fiddle toggled back and forth with violin and classical pieces were rendered at just the right moments by the chamber music ensemble.

        The wedding party was pretty young bridesmaids, mature gentlemen in tuxes (someone kindly dubbed them as distinguished) and cute flower girls and ring bearers.  There were Christmas poinsettias and pictures and many hugs and kisses.  It was a bit of a family reunion; bluegrass is but one big family.

       The reception rocked the house.  The Harris Brothers led off.  Reggie might be my favorite guitar man on the planet, both in flat-pick and slide, and Ryan is a soul singer extrodinare and a rock solid bass man.  Some old guy in a tux got up and played with ’em.  I figure a man ain’t lived till he’s jammed with the Harris Brothers and the electric suitcase, so I had to do a few tunes with them too.  Old Doc played mandolin and sang the harmony part to “I got my Mojo Working.”  Now that is my idea of a wedding reception!  The boys were most kind to let me jam with ’em.  (And no I wasn’t drinking)

        Soon the Circuit Riders were up.  Luck fiddled and Corb picked banjo, Billy Gee played bass, and Darin Aldridge was on mandolin.  Jaret Carter and Jerry Douglas are the best dobro guys I know of.  The groom flashed both a wide grin and the the best mandolin chops you’ll ever hear. 

        We had to do several for old time’s sake.  The groom’s version of ‘Catfish John’ brought back childhood memories for my daughter.  I have never heard anyone in a bridal dress come close to the bride’s version of “He Ain’t Never.”

        We ate well, jammed late into the night, told tall tales, and reminisced with old friends.  I never go to a wedding without thinking about how lucky I have been.  We got married years ago, hit the ground running, and haven’t looked back.  I was lucky to find someone so compatible.  I think these kids did the same.  One thing is certain; if they have a married life anything like the wedding, they are gonna rule.  It’s the bluegrass way.

       All the best to them for all time.

Dr. B

The Patient is the Boss

December 21, 2008

        Ms. Pamela Villas made a nice comment a couple posts back that set me to thinking about an encounter with one of my patients years ago.

        One Monday we had a barn burner.  By lunch I was worn out.  Tired, hungry, borderline frazzled, I was trying to get to the finish line- lunch.  My last patient was complicated.  Hypertension, mild renal failure, diabetes; he had multiple problems.  I did my best to tend to him, but my mind wandered.

          After lunch, I felt better.  I got out my office mandolin and strummed a few tunes.  I caught up on my dictation.  By 1:30  I was about set to regroup for the afternoon.

        Paig beeped me.  “Wasn’t Mr. Williams here this morning?”

        “Yes ma’am. ”

        “He’s on line one- says he forgot to ask you something.”


       “Dr. Bibey?”


        ” This is Williams.  I need to talk to you.”

        “Yes sir, what’s up?

        “When I was in there this morning, I felt like you were distracted.   I know you have a lot coming at you, but when you’re in that room, I want your undivided attention.  When we’re in there I’m your boss.”

        I thought about that.  Mr Williams was retired.  He had been a mid level manager in industry, so he knew what it meant to be a boss, but he know all about having a boss too.

        “How far do you live from the office?”

        “Five minutes.”

        “Tell you what.  I was tired.  I should have paid more attention to you.  Why don’t you come over right now and come back to my study?  I’ll tend to whatever we didn’t get to.”

        He seemed surprised.  “Well O.K. Bibey.  I’ll be right there. ”

        We went over a few nuances about his blood pressure medication and decided to make a small change.

       “Thanks, Doc.  How much do I owe you?”

        “Not a thing.  The government won’t allow two visits in one day, man.  I could get in trouble.  The buck really stops with that crowd.”

        “Ain’t it the truth?  I dealt with all those bureaucrats for years.”

        Ten years have gone by.  Every time I see Mr. Williams I pull up a chair, sit down, and say, “O.K, boss.  What can I do for you today?”

        He always breaks into a broad grin.  We get along famously.   He, like Ms. Villars, understood a very important concept- the patient is the bottom line.  And he was kind enough not to chew me out or correct me in front of everyone.  As far as I know he never even mentioned it to the staff.

        Mr. Williams is a very wise man.  He has even taken a liking to bluegrass music.  He’s just the kind of boss every employee hopes to draw.

Dr. B

Rude Doctors

December 3, 2008

        Blog pal Ted Lehmann ( sent this link from the New York Times, and I thought folks would enjoy it.

        It is sad but true; some Docs can be downright disrespectful. 

        Believe it or not, the study of what to do about this has become a science.  There is a Doctor from a famous institution in Tennessee who has studied the phenomenon in quite a bit of depth.  He is the South’s (maybe the world’s) leading authority on disruptive Docs and the impact they have.

        His institution began to realize the bad actors were not only a frequent target of litigation, but they had a negative impact on patient care and the overall quality of the institution.  They set out to develop a program to try and rehabilitate these guys.

        I’ll never forget the first conference of this Doc’s I went to.  He told the story of having to confront a Doctor who was rude to everyone in his path.  The Doctor studied the data.  (Doctors like science)  

        When confronted with the mound of scientific evidence compiled in charts and graphs, the Doctor looked at it all and said, “I knew I was an ass^*!$, but I didn’t realize I was the worst ass^*!$ in the hospital.” 

        What a legacy!

        Y’all check out the Times article.  I ‘d enjoy your comments on the subject.

Dr. B

The Six Habits of Highly Respectful Physicians

Blog Power

November 16, 2008

        I am always surprised to see where my blog takes me.  The Internet is so powerful.  I found out the other day I had a Power Rating of 31.  My agent said it put me in the top 205,000 and that was very good for for a fiction blog.

        It set me to thinking.  How in the world did so many people come to read about a country doctor in a little town?  After all, my life style isn’t exactly of the rich and famous.  

        As I pondered it, I began to realize how many folks were involved in making that happen.  I read all kinda other blogs and find them most helpful.  There were folks like chili, who’d gently correct me when I fractured my syntax.  I’ve read folks like Ms. Kim who is a writing instructor.  I got a lot of good ideas from her.  I learned so much over there that when she wrote her golf game had gone south I felt I should send her some advice professional courtesy.  I can’t leave off Ms. Amber, either- she sent some cool pictures of country Docs I plan to use on the website.  I need to get back to work on it.

        And the English Professor- he was from way up North and knew more about bluegrass than I did.  Any sterotypes of “Yankee pickers” that might linger in my subconscious were put to rest by Ted and Irene forever.  

        I’ve heard from mandolin players all over the country, and have a place to play almost anywhere I go nowadays.

        When Ms. Pande writes of her office, it makes me want to pull my own hair out for her- you have a job, ma’am.  There were mystery writers like Meg, and Romance specialists like Ms. Susan.  Men can get a lot of good pointers over there.  Ms. Cindy wrote country stories I could identify with.  She made me wish my dog was as cool as Ranger.

        I’ve heard from Docs in Scotland (Dr. Bob) who invited me to visit when I get that way.  And when Ms. Karen writes of Australia, you know someday you’ll have to go there, too.

        And then there’s Smitty.  I went to visit him, and they made feel like I was a native.  His school kids made me an honorary Mississippian.  It was my proudest day as a writer, and even ranked above that first paycheck from the Laurel.  (Bless your heart Paul for taking a chance on me.)

        As I thought it over I realized the blog has shown me what I set out to do with my book- it proves we are all in it together.

        I appreciate every one of the 23K+ folks who have taken the time to read what I have to say.  I’ve enjoy your comments, too.

          I read other folks blogs for the insight into ways of life that are different than my own.  But in spite of that fact we are all from different places, and have different problems, I find us more alike than not.  Perhaps some of it is all of us are book worms, and on a constant search for like minded human beings. 

       I am on track to finish my final MS revision in January.  My agent says a couple of publishers have shown some interest.  If they have it is because of you guys.  If you hadn’t come over here for a look see, they would have never given me consideration, and I know it.  It’s like a Doc.  If you aren’t good to your patients what good are you?  If I don’t dig deep for some insight into the worlds of medicine and music that might make your day better, then I should quit.  You inspire to type another day, and I thank you for it. 

        Tell me, what is it you look for in a blog?  What is it about mine you read, and what others do you frequent on a regular basis and why?

        Hey good luck to all of y’all in NaNoWriMo.  I would have tried but I type way to slow to do a novel in a month. 

Dr. B

My Perfect Day

October 29, 2008

        Maybe there is something wrong with me, but I am a very simple man.  I hear folks talk about snorkel dives in Aruba, Vegas slot machines, or fancy cars, and I have to admit I’m too busy at home to take all that in.

        I read one time that Arnold Palmer had a golf game with a guest at his home club in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  It was a one of those early fall days- crisp sweater weather but not too cold.  Arnold turned to the fellow and said, (paraphrased) “You know, I’ve been all around the world, but I’m just as happy to be here at Latrobe as anywhere.  This is a perfect day for golf.”  One thing about Arnie- he was world class, but didn’t get above his raising and forget his roots.  I admire that.

        I’ll never amount to what Arnie did, but I can identify with his sentiment.  My perfect day would be to see my favorite patients till lunch, play golf in the afternoon with Jacob and the choose-up boys, then eat supper with my family.   I’d say grace and be thankful for the good fortune that my people live in peace the way we do. Then I’d check in with my blog pals and write a few words about my day.  After that, I’d get together with Darrell and Summer, Moose and Warbler and all the gang and pick bluegrass music till two o’clock in the morning.  The next day I’d get up and do the same thing again.  I guess I am boring, but that is what I’d do if had to walk the green mile tomorrow.

        What would y’all do on your perfect day?  Write and let me know.

Dr. B