Richard G. Petty, MD

The Best Things In Life Aren't Things

I was sorry to hear this morning that Art Buchwald has just passed away at the age of 81, having defied the odds for a year after entering a hospice.

I’ve enjoyed his columns for years, and the title of this post is one of my most favorite Buchwald-isms. And it sums up a lot of his work. Hidden beneath the satire and humor there was always a wise, pithy and unsightful comment.

Just think about that for a moment, "The best things in life aren’t things." He’s right isn’t he, and how often do we all forget it?

Here are a few from my collection that I hope you will like.

Farewell Art.


“A bad liver is to a Frenchman what a nervous breakdown is to an American. Everyone has had one and everyone wants to talk about it.”

“And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried:  "Look at this Godawful mess."

“I don’t know what’s coming next and neither does anyone else. It’s something that we do have to face but the thing is that a lot of people don’t want to face it. And there’s denial. If somebody says it, like me, everybody feels a little better that they can discuss it.”

“I don’t know whether it’s normal or not, but sex has always been something I take seriously. I would put it higher than tennis on my list of constructive things to do.”

“I worship the quicksand he walks in.”

“People are broad-minded. They’ll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn’t drive, there’s something wrong with him.”

“The buffalo isn’t as dangerous as everyone makes him out to be. Statistics prove that in the United States more Americans are killed in automobile accidents than are killed by buffalo.”

“We seem to be going through a period of nostalgia, and everyone seems to think yesterday was better than today. I don’t think it was, and I would advise you not to wait ten years before admitting today was great. If you’re hung up on nostalgia, pretend today is yesterday and just go out and have one hell of a time.”

“Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.”

Medicine and Creativity

The Lancet medical journal has just published this year’s themed issue on the topic of ‘Creativity and Medicine’.

If you click on the link, you will be taken to a digital edition of the special issue. The digital edition is an exact facsimile of the print copy and is available for one month. You can turn pages just as you would with a print edition and even print off the pages for your own personal use.

The Lancet is one of the journals that you will find in the "Journal" listing on the left of this blog.

Many of the articles are extremely interesting and thought provoking: "Writing and healing;" "Development of children’s creativity to foster peace;" "Healing through art therapy;" "Theatre – a force for health promotion;" "Hospital clowns;" "Healing architecture; " "Healing gardens;" "Chance favors the prepared mind" and "What can the arts bring to medical training?" were some of my favorites, and give you a good flavor of what’s in store for you.

You will also see how this fits very precisely with a true Integrated Medicine.

One caution: it IS a medical journal and there are one or two articles near the back that are not for the squeamish.

With that caveat, there is much food for thought in these articles, and the Lancet deserves our thanks for making them available for free. Even if it is only for a month!

Labor Day Trivia With a Twist

The English language must be one of the oddest. Well actually I know that it is. Except perhaps for those few languages that have managed to get by with hardly any words for emotion. Or the ones that have hundreds of ways of describing snow.

In English there are more than one thousand words describing groups of things, usually animals. Many of these words go back to the Middle Ages: fun to look up on a wet English afternoon. And many have been taking up some of my precious neural storage space for a very long time.

In today’s trivia corner, the question came up as to what name is given to a group of cats? I knew that one, it’s a clowder, and if they’re kittens, it’s a kyndyll, also spelt kindle.

Then I started putting together a few others that I remembered, and looked up a couple more. If you type “Collective nouns” into Google you’ll get hundreds, but I’m not sure about some of them!

Here are a few fun ones:
Army of frogs or ants

Bale of turtles 

Band of gorillas 

Baren of mules
Bed of clams or oysters 

Bevy of quail or swans 

Brace of ducks 

Brood of chicks
Business of ferrets
Cast of hawks 

Cete of badgers 

Charm of goldfinches or hummingbirds
Chine of polecats
Cloud of gnats
Clutch of chicks
Colony of rabbits, ants, gulls and bats
Company of wigeons (they’re dabbling ducks found all over North America)

Congregation of plovers
Convocation of eagles 

Covert of coots 

Covey of quail or partridge
Cry of hounds
Down of hares 

Draft of fish (That one’s rarely used these days)
Dryft (drift) of tame swine 

Drove of cattle, sheep, pigs 
(In the Middle Ages, cows were also called kine or kyne)
Exaltation of larks 

Fall of woodcocks
Flange of baboons
Flight of birds 

Flock of sheep, geese, ducks 

Gaggle of geese 

Gam of whales 

Gang of elk 

Grist of bees
Harras of horses 

Herd of cattle, deer, elephants, horses, and sheep
Hive of bees
Horde of gnats 

Hover of trout 

Husk of hares 

Kettle of hawks
Labor of moles
Lepe or leap of leopards 

Leash of foxes 

Litter of pigs, cats, dogs 

Murder of crows 

Murmuration of starlings 

Muster of peacocks 

Mute of hounds 

Nest of rabbits, vipers, turtles and hornets
Nide, or nye of pheasants 

Pack of dogs, hounds, wolves, and mules
Parliament of rooks or owls 

Pod of dolphins, whales or seals
Pride of lions
Raft of ducks (paddling around on water) 

Rafter of turkeys 

Rag of colts
Route of wolves
School of fish (At one time they were called shoals of fish)
Scold of jays
Sculk of foxes
Sedge of cranes, bitterns, herons 
shoal of bass
Singular of boars
Shrewdness of apes 

Skein of geese (In flight)
Skulk (sculk) of foxes 

Sloth or sleuth of bears 

Sounder of wild swine or boars  

Span of mules 

Spring of teal 

Stud of mares 

Swarm of bees
Team of ducks, horses, pigs, oxen 

Tribe of goats 

Troop of kangaroos or monkeys
Unkindness of ravens

Volary of birds 

Walk of snipe 

Watch of nightingales 

Wedge of swans 

Wing of plovers 

Yoke of oxen
Zeal of zebras

There are some very funny ones that can’t be genuine. Try these:
An addition of mathematicians
A brace of orthodontists
A bunch of florists
A clutch of car mechanics
A concert of yes-men
An expense of consultants
A flash of paparazzi
An intrigue of politicians
A prickle of hedgehogs
A rash of dermatologists
A tedium of golfers

This is all harmless fun. But there’s also a slightly more serious side to it. Developing your vocabulary, even for odd words like these, appears to reduce your risk of developing age-related cognitive decline and should help keep you mentally sharp.

And I’ve got the brain scans to prove it!

And Now For Something Completely Different

I wouldn’t like it to be thought that this blog only deals with the serious side of life. I’m also eager to alert you to products and services that may enhance and enrich you. I was perusing a favorite blog: when I came upon mention of an important resource: Strange New Products Blog

Seeing such weirdness and creativity should give us all hope for the future….

Though it may be a somewhat "different" future….

Sleeping Policemen

In Europe, speed bumps are called "Sleeping Policemen."

I never thought to see the real thing.

Three thirty on Sunday morning I was on my way home from the airport.

Headlights full on, trying to stay awake by singing along with some REALLY loud Iron Maiden, I was tooling down the road at "more or less" the speed limit.

When horror of horrors, I spied a hidden police car in the road leading into the Horse Park.

In less than a second, I turned down the lights, cut the music – and my singing – and slammed on the anchors. I passed him at a sedate 45 mph.

I needn’t have bothered. He was all tucked up and fast asleep. Even had a comfy looking pillow.

He looked so content, I was in half a mind to go and take a picture.  But then I thought, "What if he’s also got Teddy with him?" That  would not be a good thing to have recorded on film…….

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