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Sh*t Richard Says
Dear Subscriber, when I launched this column in 2021, the early audience consisted of a handful of family and friends. My husband, Richard Gilbert, would periodically weigh in with a column. Readers loved it. Not that he’s competitive, but he’d watch the column metrics skyrocket and took particular delight if his numbers exceeded mine (which they often did). For whatever reason, I haven’t been able to nudge him back for months. Then a friend whom he respects said: Tell Richard to write about his cataract surgery.
So, he did. And he added a piece about a mishap on an Okoboji tour boat. Let’s say that had a worst-case scenario taken place, and the boat had capsized, the irony of this volunteer sailing coach for the U.S. Naval Academy drowning in an Iowa lake would not be lost. He also expresses an opinion on what he says could be the fate of the disgraced former president. I might add the views expressed in this column are his and his alone.
Since our subscriber base has tripled since the last Sh*t Richard Says appeared, an explanation and introduction seem in order.
Richard began his career as an ink-stained wretch: literally, he worked the presses at a print shop before becoming a reporter. He wrote for the paper in Harlan and then bought the Eagle Grove Eagle at 29. He went on to do a lot of stuff requiring wearing a suit, but he’s a writer at heart.
Please welcome, Sh*t Richard Says. Hit the heart button (he watches) and share it with your friends.
I can see clearly now…and now you can, too.
When it comes to elective medical procedures, I am a champion procrastinator. Especially if it has to do with the eyes.
So even though I put up with ever-increasing prescriptions for my glasses, I ignored the suggestions from the optometrist that “you really should do something about the cataract in your right eye”.
Six weeks ago, I finally got the cataract removed and an artificial lens implanted. Twenty-four hours later, I was seeing the world in High Def.
I marveled at the technology in our modern age. I could go into a clinic in West Des Moines, have an eye exam, schedule outpatient surgery for a few weeks later, not suffer any discomfort and now enjoy Eagle Eye vision at my advanced age.
I felt like a medical pioneer until I did some quick research using Wikipedia.
People have been plagued with cataracts impairing vision for as long as there have been people…almost. Cataracts are deposits of protein that form on or around your eye lenses and eventually do not just screw up your vision; in advanced cases, they can lead to blindness.
Cataract removal surgery gets mention in the Code of Hammurabi around 1750 BCE. It was going on in Egypt in 1279 BC. There were practicing surgeons removing cataracts in Paris in 1748 and procedures in Philadelphia in 1815. They didn’t get the lens replacement part of the work until the late 20th century, and its taken off in the 21st century. As of 2021, about four million people in the U.S. were having an operation, as I had. Nearly 28 million worldwide last year, with India leading the way,
If you have trouble reading this or seeing halos around street lights when driving at night, man up! See an ophthalmologist and start the process. It takes about 15 minutes tops actually to have the surgery. It doesn’t hurt because there’s a local anesthetic. The only downside is remembering to do the eye drops before and after surgery to promote healing. One little tip, though. When you meet with the person who will do the surgery, check to be sure they have steady hands.
Cost? Partly covered by Medicare (if you’re eligible) with out-of-pocket costs if you elect to” upgrade” to a more versatile lens. The doctor explained the options well, and I never felt like I was being unsold.
Julie reminded me it’s been a while for a Sh*t Richard Says, so here goes….
Hanging out up at Lake Okoboji for a few weeks and at Julie’s insistence, we took a ride on the venerable Okoboji Queen II, the latest in a line of excursion boats that have plied the waters of West Lake Okoboji since 1884.
Now boats are a passion of mine, so any time on a boat on the water is a good day. Except when it’s not. We boarded the Queen on time last weekend and went up to the observation deck with about 80 other passengers, scoring spots near the stern on the starboard side. The Queen is 75 feet long, 18 feet wide, and can easily carry 200 passengers. About half that many on our ride.
First, out of a long habit, I wondered how I’d get off if I had to in a hurry. And where were the life jackets stowed? I am known in the family as the original “chicken of the sea” when shipping out on a strange boat. But I tried to talk myself down a notch. After all, this was a boat ride on a beautiful May afternoon on a lovely inland lake that wasn’t very rough and only 126 feet deep in its deepest part. Still…
The part that I noticed first was what happened before and after we backed off the Arnold’s Park pier. There was no safety briefing, no signs pointing to where to find a life preserver. Later in this narrative, I went to the lower deck to ask the only crew in sight where the life preservers are stowed. (I know they were someplace because the Coast Guard would take a dim view of any boat, even on an inland lake, taking passengers without providing life preservers). FYI, the flotation gear is in overhead compartments, tastefully secured behind navy blue covers that unsnap should anyone want one. I learned that from the bartender.
As we got underway, I could feel a vibration that appeared to be coming from somewhere down in the boat, which caused me to wonder if one of the engines (turns out there are two) was having some stress. The other thing I noticed was the Queen had a slight list to port (left). I thought it was because the passengers on the top deck might have been causing the boat to list a little, but as I guessed the weights, it looked like the payload was pretty evenly spread top sides. The only person on the lower deck was the aforementioned bartender.
So besides my fretting about the absence of a safety brief and the listing (which was getting more pronounced as we chugged around the lake), it was a pleasant ride. The engine sounds were not as noisy until…the engine sounds changed, and the Queen slowed down. That’s when we first heard from the captain, who reported that we were down to one engine but don’t worry, it will just take a little longer to get to the dock. The Queen II was launched in 1986, so she’s about 37 years old, not too old for an excursion vessel in fresh water. She’s made of steel which is a plus over old wood.
About this time, the southeast wind picked up noticeably, and without as much headway, the Queen seemed to wallow as we slowly made our way to the Arnold’s Park pier. The captain warned us that it might be a bumpy docking, which it was, with a strong crosswind as we approached our pier.
There’s an adage we say as we arrive toward a boat slip. “Always approach the dock at the speed you intend to hit it.” We did, and given the lack of an engine and a tricky wind, I’d give the captain high marks on the arrival.
I thought the worst as we left, though, fearing perhaps we’d been passengers on the last cruise of the Queen’s 2023 schedule. But happily, whatever caused the engine to quit, got fixed, and when I checked the next day, the report was that the Queen was back in service.
I still think the powers that be should include a safety brief before departure, if done for no more than to get the armchair skippers and nervous nellies to enjoy the ride a little more.
If it was good enough for Napoleon….
The Trump news keeps coming to the point where even some Republicans wish the former president would go away. And from the looks of things, there are more indictments, investigations, and probably more court drama. The country would be better off if all this could be avoided.
Thus, my solution. Instead of yet more about Trump as he gets ground up in the justice system, let’s get inspiration from the French, who once had a guy who headed the country and liked it so much he wanted to be Emperor for life. I’m talking about Napoleon Bonaparte, from whom our own legal system adopted the laws he handed to his subjects and is even now the origin of much of U.S. law today. It’s called the Napoleonic Code. Thomas Jefferson thought the code was good enough to purloin some ideas Bonaparte used to run his justice system. So why wouldn’t it make sense to take a cue from how the French solved the Ex-Emperor running amuck problem? Just exile him.
Parading the ex-president in an orange jumpsuit would boost cable news ratings, but it wouldn’t do much to tamp down division in this country. Why not do what the French did to solve their Ex-Emperor's problem? Award him his own island where he can say whatever he wants and won’t have to put up with people calling him out all the time.
One lesson the French learned early on when they exiled Napoleon the first time was the Island of Elba in the Mediterranean was not only a little small but worse, it was too handy to France, and he broke loose after a few months of exile and started more trouble before Wellington put a big hurt on him at Waterloo.
So the second exile was on St. Helena in the South Atlantic, 1,200 miles west of Africa and 2,000 miles due east of Rio de Janeiro. It is out there! It was a 10-day sail from the mainland, which worked for Napoleon, who was slowly getting the message that his former subjects were over him. St. Helena today has a nice little harbor, good utilities (diesel-powered generator), and wireless service, although, unfortunately, not strong enough for gaming at only 40 bps. You’ll probably need a DVD player for watching old movies.
Napoleon lasted six years on St. Helena. History says he died in exile in 1821. He was 52. France was better off after a while. Out of sight, out of mind.
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Just a few seats remain for the Okoboji Writers’ Retreat!!! Stop procrastinating. You know you want to come. Just do it! Network with international writers, hobnob with publishers and have a glass of wine with a literary agent. This is an outstanding opportunity to hang with cool people and learn a thing or two.
Learn more: www.okobojiwritersretreat.com