Sunday, October 31, 2010


The photograph,one of my favorites, was taken at St. Ives,Cornwall, a Sunday morning in 1962. The other innocents were the parents, the pianist and me. Little children,taken by the hand and transported, not necessarily where they want to go. The photo depicts for me, the vulnerability, the aloneness, the immensity of distance, the clinging to the companionship of the known, the longing for something inexpressible. Almost 50 years later it still evokes strong feelings for me of a time when we all struggled to retain our center! They are looking out onto the Bristol Channel to the west, as it widens into the Atlantic. The same route taken by many to the new world, and first by the explorer-navigator John Cabot in 1497 for Henry V11. We had taken the weekend off but had driven too far to get back to Plymouth that day so had to stay in St. Ives overnight. Our car was the warmest enclosure we had so we often went driving in the winter, escaping the cold council house we lived in. Money was tight but we found a bed and breakfast in St. Ives to tide us over. I remember the weekend as if it was yesterday and it was a cherished family time. None the less, as I look at the picture now, and think of the feelings I ascribe to the children, they are really my feelings. I have a marvelous ability to project! Those feelings were there then, but I operate by denial, and certainly did in spades at 28 years of age. Home for them was where ever the pianist and I were. Home for us was out there, somewhere, in that direction!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mother Nature's Fruits

The indigenous berries produced on the prairies,where cultivated fruit is rare, provided a wonderful bonanza in the fall: a gift from Mother Nature for the taking. I'm not talking of the cultivars that have developed from these plants by the plant developers at the universities and experimental farms, but the original plants that we harvested berries from in the olden days. Low bush blueberries from the Hudson Bay Junction area (Vaccinium agustifolium). Your fingers were blue from the bloom on the berries and your back sore from the stooping. Your ears were alert for sounds of bears in the patch and your legs ready to run. High bush cranberries (Viburnum trilobum) were from the same area, but not related at all botanically or horticulturally ,to the common cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) . These high bush berries made a tart and piquant jelly. The pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanicus) also was a favorite for the jelly maker. A tart and delicious jelly was created, particularly good for meat and game. My favorite as a child was chokecherry (Prunus virginiana). The flavour of jelly from this berry was unique. A slice of homemade bread,slathered with butter and chokecherry jelly was ambrosia! Food for the gods from Saskatchewan! Because it took a long time to pick enough of these fruits, and since they were so small and thinly spread, the preserves were special and treated with great care. The Saskatoon berry (Amelanchier alnifolia) was wide spread through the prairies. The pioneers named the city after them. The berries made very nice pies and were easy to pick. They were the prairie icon.The cultivars that have arisen as a result of selection have improved the production of all these little trees undoubtedly, but they will never supplant the fruit flavors one remembers from one's youthful taste buds. Mother Nature has provided indigenous fruits on the wet coast as well. Here, we have abundant cultivated fruit on Lotus Island, so we often tend to ignore the indigenous offerings. Too bad because they are spectacular! I don't include the Himalayan Blackberry variants or the Rowanberry because they are not indigenous. The Trailing Pacific Blackberry (Rubus ursinis}, that little squirt that tangles everything you plant, produces a quality berry jelly, very different from its mellow Himalayan cousin.The salal berry (Gaultheria shallon} and the Oregon grape {Mahonia aquifolium) produce berries that our long time neighbor used to add as a wild flavour, to most jelly and jam preserves. The Thimble berry (Rubus parviflorus) and the Salmon berry (Rubus spectabilis) are for the birds, and best left to them. There are many good publications on a lot more wild fruits that may be worth trying! Not in anyway to derogate the abundant cultivars that are the anchor of the fruit industry, it's worth trying a little of what our early ancestors had available to them, freely given, if only for the novelty. A paen to history and Mother Nature!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Loss of Innocence

My dad took me to watch Whipper Billy Watson, Hardboiled Haggarty, and Chief Thunderbird "wrestle" when I was about ten. My mother wasn't at home then, or she would have never let me go. My dad met up with his friends, so I sat and watched these large men punch and kick one another endlessly in what seemed to me like a life or death struggle.I still remember the feeling walking home in the dark, on that winters night in Kindersley, on the glittering hard packed snowy road with a newly found sense of dread! I thought of this when I watched Wendy Mesley yesterday on CBC interviewing two "experts" who have studied evil and the media's compulsion to cover it. The experts concluded that the extensive coverage and all the abundant crime shows, serve a "useful" purpose to inform the naive that evil is around and protection is needed! Bosh! We all have a shade, including yours truly, that is compelled to watch, however dreadful,the sad,the sick, the evil that is around us. The fear it arouses has a titillating presence. It doesn't take a psychologist to note that we all have a shade. To say the portrayal of evil is "useful" panders to this need. Unfortunately as a human being we can't fully embrace Philippians 4:8. The other day I saw some writing on the wall. I went up and read it. Do you know what it said? It said, "This is the writing on the wall!"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Touching (verboten)

I was at supper in a restaurant with my granddaughter,her uncle ,and two colleagues, when the up beat waitress, who couldn't remember my order, put her hand on my forearm to get my attention! "I'm sorry ",she laughed "I was so discombobulated, I forgot what you ordered!" After I confirmed my order,the granddaughter and my colleague were aghast! "She touched you!", they both said at the same time. My reaction was bewilderment. So what? All I noticed was nothing more than a friendly and an apologetic gesture. My grandaughter, who is 25, said, "They never do that!" I've thought about it since! Teachers don't proudly touch children who turn in good work any more! Your avuncular old pediatrician never gives a precious squeeze to his little patient. Grandad never bounces little Mary or Johnny on his lap. What is going on here? Not everything is sexualized! The world is in a spin of phobic correctness. Maybe it's my age but there was a time when you could pass the peace with those you knew and that mutual cherishing was accompanied by a comfort hug. Now when we pass the peace we shake hands or bow with hands folded prayerfully with those that worry about germs. Old friends cheek kissed as a matter of course! People who conquered the mountain together gave precious hugs to one another! It still happens, but all too often there is tentative hesitation . We seem to have entered a time when tactile expressiveness is guarded. I suppose for good reason at times, but it is a sad thing. For simple enthusiasm with one another, our human connectedness, we only have our voices and the five senses to utilize. That is ,all the five senses! Without them, we are looking at an alternative definition for six degrees of separation!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Avoiding Vanity

In the olden days I played defense for our hockey teams. I wasn't all that bad a defenseman. I wasn't the best skater on the team for sure, and I wasn't rough and tough. I was a "stay at home" defenseman, moved the puck forward well and stickhandled skillfully! Whenever I had a really good game,my dad would say, "That Jackie Clark is a terrific forward!" Tantalizing, but the string was pulled just out of reach! Whenever I brought my spelling tests home my mother always wanted to see the word I spelled wrong! I'm not complaining, I'm just observing. The carrot was held just in front of my nose! I tried hard to munch! My best buddy in those days was my brother, Ken. Later when I was the new boy in a prairie medical clinic I often showed the senior guy my good results. I was looking for affirmation. Eventually he said, "Jim, I know you are a good surgeon but I'm too busy to keep patting you on the back all the time." Gulp! The head of the clinic once said to me, "If a patient gives you splendid feedback, suck it up, because you'll be able to withstand the brick bats more easily!" Good advice! Is this reluctance to praise the praiseworthy the fear of instilling vanity into the big striver? It certainly made me work harder to eke out that scintilla of praise that came. King Solomon, who was a very smart guy said "Vanity of vanities,all is vanity".It sounded like danger to the devout! The residual Presbyterianism in my parents may have taken that to heart in the olden days. They praised with a faint damn to our face, but waxed on about us to their friends. Somehow we knew this and that had to be enough! Today's parents are supportive and rightly effusive about the children's success to their face.I'm not sure that the new approach is any more effective frankly, but it is more pleasing. Even slight praise from the constipated provides a small hard thing to be savored!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fellini Satyricon

He said,I paraphrase," If you eat me you will partake in my bounty." So the last, or perhaps the penultimate scene, is the compromise of the Lustful, sitting around the large table,or perhaps a large marble entableture (it's so long I can't remember exactly), at what appears a campsite, munching doggedly on the corpse of the deceased! Awaiting largesse! They clearly are not enthralled with the means to the end, but it just goes to show where Fellini would put the bounty hunters, let alone the fate, if you'll pardon the imagery, of the deceased in the "end"! In the meanwhile, the final scene shows the rest, the Enlightened, the non inheritors, down to the beach, about to sail to unencumbered freedom. How much, money seems to rule! How much misery it has caused! How much sacrifice it has driven! How little stability it really provides! How much joy has it erased? How manipulated those who receive! Of course it is not money per se that is evil, it is the love of money that leads to destruction. Money can provide ease, the love of money provides dis-ease. There is a pointed character on CBC that says ."I love money". "Greed is good." I don't know how serious he is. He may be partly provocateur! His counterpoint,a female with a strong animus, serves to modify his point of view, but marginally! Our values have become so skewed by reward that it is difficult to carve a path that combines the growth of the soul with the necessities of the flesh. People give up trying. They become cynical. Anger at the fetters that have become bonds and chains. Ambivalence confounds even the gentle. I think a good idea is to stop, now, watching television, reading the newspaper, and surfing the internet! It's a start!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Agonal bloom

As the ground water rises and the light shortens, the dahlia patch enters the period of agonal bloom! The old plants have become exhausted,partially due to "seed production interruptus" from yours truly! Each time they produced a perfect bloom to perpetuate their species it got plucked. If it escaped the plucking when prime, it got deadheaded well before seed set! Now, in it's approaching agony, the plant throws itself into a desperate budding frenzy to reproduce, to no avail! Feeble little curlicue stems, petal deficient flowers,stem rot,color fading,nodding blooms, and a proliferation of unsightly "sports". "To everything there is a season............a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted", Ecclesiastes 3. It's inevitable, I guess, that we interrupt the natural history of the plant,or nature,or for that matter maybe of ourselves, in order to produce some sort of other gain. That's progress! No one asked the plant if it wanted to stay rooted in a spot that was drier in the winter and more clement, and if it wished to produce some serendipitous seed from a colleague,as well as perpetuating itself from it's tuber. Instead it may have got pruned to one or two miserable stems by a showman for another inch of bloom breadth and millimeter of stem width. Or it became the bride of a chosen groom's family by a plant marriage broker and shrouded in mystery until seed production! Or it was allowed to flower till "untimely ripped" for a vase, when in full pubertal beauty! We are plucking up that which is planted on October 25th. They will be buried in a straw cloister for the winter and frustrated again next summer! In my hands always the bridesmaid! Sorry, mea culpa!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Many years ago the pianist and I went to the Belfry Theater in Lotus City to see Waiting for Godot! I was mystified by the play, thought it completely opaque, and blamed myself for not being "with it"! What is it about that play that has stuck with me over the years? At 76, am I able to see through the opacity that bedeviled me when I was 35? Maybe! Why Beckett wrote it in French, and whether at 76, he understood more than he did when he wrote it in his 40's, I do not know. I do know that the play has been dissected over and over again. For me I stick with "res ipsa loquitor". Otherwise it contaminates! What Samuel Beckett thought, and what his interpreters thought, is interesting,but what it says to you is the crunch point. We went to Olympic City last weekend to spend time with four old friends who were an integral part of our wedding party in 1957. We have all grown old together and walked similar, but dissimilar pathways! Together we have a total of 157 years of marriage. The play no longer seems absurdist. At forty I was impatient and certain that I would amount to something! It seemed terribly important! Amounting to something was clearly defined! In my case it was defined by others. Rabbit ears! Waiting was agony. Waiting is still somewhat agonizing but expected now. Living with uncertainty is easier. Amounting to something is no longer as important. Godot will appear when he does. It is certain, that he will when you least expect it. If he doesn't appear, then the faithless were right, but that also doesn't seem important. Being part of the woodwork and watching that march of humanity is a blessing in itself since the woodwork no longer has to perform if it chooses not to. Both cream and shit float to the surface!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Trip to Fairyland

In 1947 my dad went to Kelowna for a holiday to see his family siblings. He took me along for company. My dad's brother and sister lived in the Okanogan with their families and his younger brother had just arrived there after a long period as a prisoner of war. When I say " took me along for company", I use the word advisedly since when my dad broke free of his responsibilities, then, he became a free spirit.I don't remember seeing him much during the week long holiday! Bonding wasn't in! No matter! I had acquired the company of my cousin, Joyce and her friend, Linda. Kelowna in those days was like a fairyland to a boy from the bald prairie. Both of the girls I was chumming with for that week seemed like princesses! And they liked me, wonder of wonders! I had no real time communion experience with girls before. They both had boyfriends but they set them aside for the week to devote their time to me,an object of interest. The three of us were sitting in my cousin's back yard ,a fairyland of lawn and flowers and a small clear stream. Our conversation was innocent and intimate. My aunt was busy hanging clothes on the clothes line. "Jim",she said ,in loud and ringing tones, "You didn't bring enough clothes. I'm hanging up your underpants that I washed and you only have this old yellow sweater as well." I could see the underpants swinging down the line with my only sweater,designated as old, and could envision my newly found princesses with horror that I,a boy, would have somewhat worn underpants. The humiliation was intense. It's easy to be humiliated at 13 years of age. They however, didn't miss a beat. I don't think they even noticed! It was one of my best holidays ever. It was a year when I realized my "anima" for the first time, and came to appreciate the gifts of girls.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Heritage Dahlia

Bishop of LLandaff, some times listed as (Landorff), is a heritage dahlia, first created in 1924. It is by modern standards very venerable, like it's namesake. Llandaff is the Scottish Episcopal Seat in Wales where it was first developed. It cannot be purchased locally, but is available through friends, as is the one currently in my possession. My friend Sue, who gave it to me, tells of her parent's garden in Comox BC, which was then, a commercial Rhododendron nursery,but had some Bishop of LLandaff available. Her mother wrote to the Royal Horticultural Society in England to offer Bishop of LLandaff to them, since they wrote an article describing their loss of this treasure, following the second world war, stating the dahlia had disappeared in English gardens due to displacement because of the war effort and the priority of food gardens. The pianist tells me her "nana" grew it in her garden in Regina. The plant is a small,semi double dahlia,with a red core and rich red petals. The foliage is green black with a small but attractive crenellated leaf margins. This is the only heritage variety I have, as most of the dahlias I own are modern hybrids produced by a limited number of committed hybridizers. The season this year has been exceptionally long and the dahlia are still in good bloom. I am looking forward to growing Bishop of Llandaff next year! A dahlia that has remained with quality morphology over almost eighty years and has an affectionate following among knowledgeable growers has outstanding worth! It may not have the lushness of today's varieties but it has the character and the history!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Legal Wrangling

I was in court as an expert witness, testifying at the request of the insurance company in a personal injury case! The plaintiffs' lawyer was cross examining me on the basis of my previously rendered report! I had examined the plaintiff earlier and had reviewed all the documentation germane to his medical condition, consisting of records both before and after the accident. This material included the hand written notes of the emergency room physician at the time of the car accident. This particular physician had quite terrible handwriting but we were accustomed to deciphering one another's script or scribble, so it was do-able for me. Cipher was a good word for it though! In the copy of the emergency physicians note I had circled two words,though I didn't refer to them in my report! The plaintiff lawyer showed me the copy of the emergency report from my chart and asked "Is this your circle around these words?" "Yes", I said. He then asked me, "What are these words?" I said "Hyperventilating and circumoral numbness". He paused, so I said, "Do you want to know the significance of that observation?" "No," he said," I just asked you what the words were!" After he concluded his cross examination the defense lawyer rose for a re-cross question and asked what the significance of these words were. All hell broke loose and the plaintiff lawyer appealed to the judge that the question was improper since he had not opened the question of "significance". They argued the point for about ten minutes and the judge agreed that the court would not address the significance. I swore in court to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! I'm impressed that due to the arcane logic of the lawyers, that the whole truth is often not addressed. The whole truth means consideration of all evidence, favorable or otherwise, rather than some truths buried by arcane rules of evidence. As a physician I couldn't make a good assessment without all the evidence available! Why not find out everything? Why suppress anything? Making argument, making judgement, expert witnessing, should, in an ideal world, be peopled by those completely indifferent to the outcome. The only interested parties should be the plaintiff and the defense! Adversarial, alright, but based on the whole truth, not half-truths! Law reform in British Columbia needs to go well beyond Duty to the Court and promises of unbiased and independent expert witnesses. It's just a good start!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Inherent Vice

Years ago my father-in-law purchased a car load of walnuts from Chile. He owned a packaging company that wholesaled to retailers. The walnuts were prepaid. When they arrived and at the time of packaging it was apparent that a hatch of worms had occurred in the bulk walnuts." Inherent vice" would have been the label applied, and neither the carrier or the insurance was liable. My father in law had no knowledge of the term. He just knew he was out a big bundle and had no recourse.! This simple phrase reminds me of the history of joint replacement and implant surgery in general, an activity in which I was immersed for many years. Inherent vice, this strange term, is defined as, "a hidden defect (or the very nature of) a good or property, which of itself is the cause of (or contributes to) it's deterioration, damage or wastage." The evolution of surgical implants are highly dependent on the research capabilities of the bioengineering firms that manufacture the implants. Inherent implant defects were not uncommon in the pioneer attempts to restore joints, immobilize fractures and reconstruct major physical defects. Though careful case selection was undertaken by the surgeons, and product safety was paramount, the test of time is infinite, not finite and so many products, despite best efforts in the early days displayed inherent vice.It was a ethical tightrope to choose. It's a curious thing that until recently ,I had never heard the term,inherent vice, despite my long professional career inserting surgical implants. I only learned of the phrase when, in a literature group, we were reading The Faerie Queene, and encountered the human characters created by the magician, Archimago; faux humans who were really Sprights: a product with inherent vice! It just goes to show, no matter what you know, there is always something to apply to your area when knowledge is cross fertilized!

Friday, October 8, 2010

African Violets

In May of 2007 the pianist and I attended a celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary! Our daughter bought a large number of African Violets for the table settings! African Violets are beautiful, but fussy, and if you are to keep them in good health the care is rigorous. We ordinarily couldn't be bothered maintaining plants that are not user friendly,beautiful notwithstanding. However ,given the circumstances, these are a keepsake. Having a greenhouse and a potting shed is an advantage to maintaining house plants through the rest period they enjoy, and the necessary pruning, splitting and repotting, but the real secret is care during the bloom period. The violets are the pianist's wards and she is as fussy as they are. She bottom waters them and gently strokes the leaves with warm water. She maintains them by situating the plants with a good view of the east. She feeds them every 10 days or so, lightly, and pinches unwanted growth and spent blooms to extend the season. She does the same with the second cousin of the violets, a Streptocarpus that was given by a good friend years ago and therefore also a keepsake. We still have after 3 and 1/2 years, almost all of the African violets and their offspring. I could never do this labor of love, since I am too impatient. Plants of a keepsake nature are nurtured not only because they are beautiful, but because they have meaning, history,and relevance to the ongoing relationship of our family. Embrace the present because you can't take them with you!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Turkey Fish

I picked up a frozen hen turkey from the farmer this afternoon. A Thanksgiving dinner years ago came to mind! An aunt and uncle, with whom we had a chequered relationship over the years, came from Winnipeg to Lotus City to stay with us for Thanksgiving. It was a precious time of healing and love in, and my aunt was keenly interested to go fishing with me on the briny deep. I lucked out that morning and she caught a fighting spring salmon of about 15 pounds. When we got home she phoned her daughter in Winnipeg to set up her customary fancy dinner party for their medical clinic friends and colleagues. We then settled down with them to a family dinner of turkey and all the trimmings attached to that festive occasion. It was nice and my aunt was ecstatic about her catch and fully engaged, since she was particularly fond of our children. Perhaps because it was so much fun, the stay was stretched to the last minute before the necessary ride to the plane for Winnipeg. The fish was in the freezer in a double bag, frozen solid. The pianist has always operated on a " waste not,want not basis" and had frozen the turkey carcase for soup making, also, it in a garbage bag of the same nature. You know what happened! The carcase was packed in the rush and discovered in Winnipeg when she proudly opened the bag at home to display it to her daughters. The pianist and I had a enjoyable salmon dinner party with our friends and colleagues later.Even later, we made delicious home made soup from the Christmas turkey carcase. That winter my aunt died of a head injury when she fell from her horse at the roadside in Winnipeg! She was 56 years young! That Thanksgiving a relationship was restored! It never fails to remind me at Thanksgiving, of the healing, humor, blessings and sadness we are given!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wood Burning

The pianist developed, over the years,expertise from her wood burning, fast fire, outdoor kiln. Her choice of wood was cedar and fir, split fine, which we have in abundance on Lotus Island. She managed over 600 firings of high-fired, ash glazed, ceramics in the years when we were young and sturdy. We, however, were never attentive to the wood burning alternative in our house until this year. The reasons were laziness and a lack of parsimony! Since the onset this year of the cooler weather of fall, and a greater desire to hoard one's diminishing wealth, the fireplace and the Vermont airtight have become fully employed. No more baseboard heating for the present in the house. We are novices in this heating matter, but are keen to learn and experiment with woods of a various kind. Our base wood for jump starting and push is Alder. This is primarily used in the airtight. Ceiling fans and room to room fans, distribute the warm air after a fashion. Laziness must be set aside in the early morning, to take the ashes to the compost daily and reset the airtight for a new fire later each evening. The fireplace, on the other hand, is large and the Alder is the starter, but Cedar and Fir split logs that follow are abundant in the ancient woodpile. The fireplace is set at night for the early morning wood fire when the pianist and I gather for our coffee and a vegetative period with one another. Care needs to be taken with this older wood to avoid the Brown Recuse and the Widow. They are unwelcome in the house! We also have, in the old woodpile, hard wood from the orchard trees that we had felled or trimmed in the past . Both Italian Plum and Apple logs are available. They provide an even and spark free heat. I have a number of year old, Evergreen Magnolia branches and logs that are also a hard wood and burn slowly and well. Much of the very old wood is what the woodcutter described to me as "punk".He looked at it with disdain and observed it had no BTUs. The etymology of this description of "punk" escapes me. It is certainly light weight and becoming sawdust so maybe that is it. It certainly ignites and burns fast but doesn't last! Maybe that's it! Maybe punks have no BTU's. This exciting phase of our life is beginning to take fire, learning to make smoke!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ponce de Leon Syndrome

Juan Ponce de Leon, in his search for the mythical Fountain of Eternal Youth,discovered and mapped much of southern Florida. He never achieved the immortality he sought since his search for the fountain was interrupted by a Seminole arrow. His contribution of the discovery of Florida was, however, a useful secondary goal. The genetic discoveries of telomere shortening in the ageing process and the role of the enzyme, telomerase,in reversing the cellular aging in vitro has led to new speculation. Extending life with enzymatic treatment, or alternatively extending cellular health through a normal life span, has been an engaging idea for some scientists. It has also piqued the interest of some entrepreneurs. Certainly Ponce de Leon had a healthy entrepreneurship in mind. Maybe we are talking about a phenomenon like The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay! It lasted perfectly for one hundred years and then it all fell apart at once. As I understood it, abrupt and complete system failure. We are more and more avidly in pursuit of physical health and longevity, which is some how, equated to happiness. We seek freedom from stress, and exercise without goals other than achieving self health. Now, the new rationale, will be increasing your telomerase levels and checking the shortening of your telomeres through relaxation and exercise. The Fountain of Relative Youth! High achievement is often associated with high stress and frequent accomplishments,often for the good of mankind. Exercise with the primary goal of producing a product, or a service, or an achievement will have two benefits, one to you and one to mankind. Those of us who were long in the health field and long in the tooth were often beset by the demands of the patients with Ponce de Leon Syndrome and were never able to provide the satisfaction they required. The many physicians from Lotus city over the last twenty years that volunteered to Vanuatu, to work for six months to a year in the primitive surroundings will recognize that the Fountain of Eternal Youth is a fantasy of the affluent world! The scientist who tries to touch this star, towards immortality, shouldn't say, "I'm doing it because it can be done"! They must say "Why am I doing this?" It's undoubtedly fascinating research, but why is it that technology always seems to drag ethics well behind it?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Good Egg

You might say of a friend that he is a "good egg", or a demanding boss that he is "hard boiled". An intelligent friend could be an "egghead". And, if we were arguing, we might be "egging one another on". I don't have useful etymological thoughts on all these weighty matters, but I know a good egg when I taste one. I know a good egg when I find one. They are not always hard boiled; they are not necessarily smart; and they are not typically argumentative. The pianist is an expert at the craft of cooking eggs. Poached, with the addition of vinegar to the water, the surface white is congealed early so that it neatly contains the contents due to the vinegar altered surface tension. The egg remains lightly congealed on the inside. She times 3 minutes,10 seconds for me and 4 minutes -10 seconds for her. This timing of course is at sea level. That delivers a good egg, and mirrors the characteristics of our good egg friends, soft, contained, and delectable. With boiled eggs, when cooked from the onset of the boiling, the same timing is apt for the two of us, as with the poached egg, but variation in timing occurs throughout the country, again as a result of the relationship of the egg to sea level. As you travel around, only experience will tell you what timing fits the definition of a regionally cooked, good egg. The rate of drying of the water on the shell, when the perfect boiled egg is lifted, is 4 seconds here on Lotus Island . It's easy for us to treasure a good egg. Perfect hard boiled egg timing in the hands of the pianist consists of 20 minutes of immersion, off the element, from the initial boiled state, and then a cold water bath. Unfortunately, the over boiled egg, timed beyond this period, develops unsightly grey margins at the center. This is unattractive in man and egg, giving a grey shade to the derivatives, potato salad,deviled eggs,doing business,meeting people, charitable acts. The grey shade will not occur if a cold shower is applied in timely fashion, to the hard boiled! As always, in love and war,timing is everything!