Sunday, April 26, 2015

Salt from Laeso

By Rob Watson

The best story is from the salt processor, a former school teacher: Salt processing was begun in Laeso about 1100 AD when a subsurface source of concentrated brine was discovered there, and discontinued in the late 1600's when all the trees on the island were gone. In the mid 20th century the Danish forest service planted trees on the island. By the 1990s a few citizens decided to revive the old business and began excavating the old salt processing area. They eventually discovered most of the methods used formerly... boil the brine until the salt becomes dry. But the salt was brown and tasted bitter. The school teacher began researching. He found a mine in Germany that used a similar process but got good salt. He went there and watched the process and asked some questions. Turns out, the brine is heated at 80C until 2/3 of the water is gone, then reduce the temperature to 65C... afterwards slowly adding water and removing the salt that precipitates out for 6 days. "By then the remaining solution of water and calcium carbonate is brown and tastes like horse piss." to which our teacher replied "I don't know what horse piss tastes like." (This remaining water is then fully dehydrated and sold as "bath salts" (really!)) The good salt that comes out of the brine is wet and "fluffy" (I think something is being lost in translation on the fluffy part) It is then air dried in woven conical shaped baskets.

When the trees were all gone, the men of Laeso discovered they could go to their roof tops and spot ship wrecks on the margins of the island... a fine source of building materials and goods if no one survived... and a fine source of rent if any did survive (many homes had extra rooms to rent to survivors.) Records show 10 to twenty wrecks a year were common. On the highest hill in the island is a tower, nearly 30 meters tall, from which you can see anything around the island, except for the trees. Some years after this new source of income was developed, a newcomer to the island thought it would be nice to plant some trees. Mysteriously, the next day all the trees were found uprooted. (when Shirley's father emigrated from the island about 1916 it was still completely devoid of trees and tall bushes.)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mixed Blessings

By Rob Watson

Today began with church. I was to read the scriptures, which I enjoy doing. (plus) The first was from Genesis, and was easy and straightforward. (plus) The second was from St. Peter, who's tranlater insists on writing in 100 word sentences full of prepositional phrases which don't come out well when reading aloud. (minus)

My big task for the day was a Civil War Reenactment. (plus) That area had lots of rain during the night and the weather had turned cold and misty. (minus) But, I had my Captains cell number and could call to find out if they were still having the event. (plus) He did not answer, so I left a message. (minus) I called the police at the town and asked if the event was still on. Yes. (plus) I loaded up and set out.

After a few minutes on the road I turned on the radio and got Prairie Home Companion, an NPR production of humor and music, that kept me entertained for most of my drive. (plus) On arriving at the battlefield I was told I would again be 'union'. (minus) But I would learn a new position on the cannon, Gunner, which is the guy that pulls the lanyard to fire the gun. (plus) After several practice drills, (plus) we stood in the cold misty wind for 30 minutes (minus) waiting for the order to begin the reenactment.

 The first order is "Load". The second step of that is to clear the barrel with a 'mop'. The mop came loose from it's handle and stuck in the barrel. (big minus) The cannon, now disabled and out of action left us, the gun crew with nothing to do. Some of the crew went and stood around the other cannon and tried to look busy.

My colonel found a guy who brought an extra rifle and asked me to be a 'skirmisher'... a guy who wanders around the battlefield, by himself, shooting at the enemy. (plus) The rifle was an 1866 Henry repeater and a sack full of blanks for it. (plus plus plus plus) {the battle we were reenacting was in 1864 so I am guessing this rifle was a simulated early preproduction model} As the battle progressed I wandered around popping away with my most excellent toy. After 30 or so rounds the rifle jammed. (minus) The last I saw of it, the owner and his friend were addressing the thing (and possibly me) with rather salty language. (minus) At the end of the battle my colonel told me the blanks cost 50 cents each... oops.

On the way home, I turned on NPR again and was listening to a couple of interviews about the Chinese New Year and Viet Namese Tet holidays. (plus) As I drove along, the road seemed less and less familiar, until at last, it turned into an uncared for narrow strip of tar and gravel. (minus minus) After careful consideration, I looked in the glove compartment for a state map put there by my loving Wife. (plus) I found my location on the map and after a half hour of driving got back on the correct road. (Plus) I bought food and gas and had a quiet, uneventful drive home. (plus plus)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Battle of New Orleans

By Rob Watson,

A History: The United States began the War of 1812 to redress certain violations of its sovereignty by the British and to capture Canada for itself. The American leaders chose 1812 because Britain was heavily involved in fighting Napoleon  in Europe. By mid 1814 little progress had been made by either side in accomplishing their war goals.

With the problems in Europe abated for the time, Britain decided on a three pronged attack on the United States. First an attack down from Canada, then one against Baltimore and Washington, and finally, New Orleans. The first two had failed and peace negotiations got serious in Belgium when the final effort began.

At the peace conference, the British were aware of the upcoming campaign against New Orleans and deliberately left wiggle room for success there, hoping to negate the Louisiana Purchase entirely, or as much as possible. American grievances were not addressed and commissions were established to define the boundaries of the United States and Canada. It was signed on December 24, 1814.

As in all military operations, there were a lot of coulda/woulda/shoulda things that I will ignore for the time being, and concentrate on what actually happened. The weather during the series of battles was reported as rain during the day and frosts during the night. Some accounts mention fog, others not.

The "Battle" of New Orleans was actually a campaign designed to capture the city for the British. Ships bearing troops and supplies, from various points, congregated in the Gulf of Mexico, about 80 miles east of the city. They could get no closer because the gulf was very shallow in that area. Troops and supplies were placed on small boats and rowed the 80 miles to the Villere Plantation where they set up their camp. About 1/3 of the troops arrived during Dec. 23. Jackson learned of this movement about noon and planned an attack for that night.

For the night attack, Jackson had about 2,100 regular soldiers, cavalry, Indians, and militia. He was also supported from the river by a number of small armed boats. The British began with about 1800 regular, very experienced, troops. The British had neither eaten nor slept for 24 hours and were preparing their meals and sleeping when Jackson attacked. Due to confusion, darkness, and a continuous stream if incoming British troops, little progress was made by either side. The fighting ended about 4am and Jackson retreated two miles north to the Chalmette Plantation. Casualties were light on both sides.

At Chalmette Plantation, Jackson began to dig out an old canal and build a dirt and wood earthwork from the Mississippi River to the swamp on the east. He was assisted by citizen volunteers and slaves from local plantations. By Dec 28 it was mostly completed.

By the 28th, British General Edward Pakenham had taken charge and decided on a reconnaissance in force to test the American defenses. He had some success against the American left at the swamp but called off his attack when his artillery ran out of ammunition. Jackson, seeing his weakness there, extended his line into the swamp using wood and logs. It is reported the militia at that point stood in waist deep water for the subsequent fighting.

Pakenham decided to reduce the American earthwork with artillery. On Jan 1 he moved up his reinforced and resupplied cannon and began to bombard the earthwork. The American cannon responded. Because the earthwork was made of soft mud, and twelve to twenty feet thick, no significant damage was done.  The British gunners had the most casualties because they had poorly made gun emplacements. This action is usually referred to as the Artillery Duel.

For Jan 8 Pakenham planned a two pronged attack. One group would cross the Mississippi and attack a small artillery emplacement on the west bank, then use those guns on the east bank Americans, while the main British force attacked the American troops behind the earthwork on the east bank. To cross the ditch dug by the Americans, bundles of sugarcane and ladders were to be carried by the leading British troops.

The west bank assault was delayed and played no part in the fighting on the east bank.

Pakenham decided to attack the ends of the American lines because of the vulnerability he discovered on the 28th. On his left, his leading troops "forgot" to pick up the sugarcane and ladders. When they came under fire they broke and ran... possibly to go get the bundles and ladders. A followup unit actually broke into the American lines there but was repulsed because other supporting units had been destroyed by cannon and musket fire. On the swamp end of the line, the British encountered the extended and strengthened American left.

As the British assault began to falter Gen. Pakenham rode forward to encourage his troops. He was unhorsed by a cannon blast and killed by a rifle shot when he tried to remount. At about the same time the other two ranking generals, Samuel Gibbs and John Keane were hit. Gibbs died on the spot and Keane was carried from the field. The surviving General, John Lambert, halted the attack and asked for a truce to bury the dead and tend the wounded.

Of the 7,500 British troops involved, about 2,000 were killed, wounded, or missing. 44% of officers of all ranks were killed or wounded. Most of the British casualties have been attributed to the American artillery, maned by Jean Lafette, his brothers, Dominique and Pierre, and their pirate cohorts. Jackson's troops suffered about 20 men killed or wounded. The British packed up and went home on Jan 18. Pakenham and Gibbs were packed in casts of rum for the voyage. They were said to have left in good spirits.

200 years later many questions remain. You can read all about it in Robin Reilly's "The British at the Gates." (only 370 pages, small print, with pictures)

The commemoration and reenactment of these events began under my watchful eye on this January 7th past. In Jackson Square, (formerly Place de Armes) a tall thin park ranger depicted General Jackson by standing on a precarious makeshift platform, and after introductions, remained entirely silent. Robert Livingston, portrayed by a distinguished French diplomat (assigned to promote the speaking of french in Louisiana), read, in both English and French, the call to arms, as originally presented 200 years previously. They were backed up by 30 or so reenactors in period dress, representing the various units of regular army troops, militias from various states, Indians, Pirates, and townspeople.

(you may have discovered this last picture is a screenshot from a paused video, not a viewable video)

I introduced myself to one of the militia men. He was from California and was visiting his son, an NOPD officer. He had a complete outfit, researched on the internet, and authentic except for color. He was outfitted with a flintlock musket, cartridge pouch and all the proper accoutrements. During these four days many people, besides the reenactors, were dressed in complex and often elegant costumes.

January 8, dawned cloudy, piercing bitter cold, and windy. Large capacity heaters set up by the Park Service served mostly as decorations, unless you were tall and stood close. Then a small portion of your head  would feel a slightly reduced chill. Wife and I arrived late to the actual battlefield and missed most of the speeches. We did hear the English Ambassador speak about the battle and the importance of continued good relations between our countries. This was followed by "Taps" Played "in echo" by two excellent buglers . Inside the visitors center there were a number of informative displays and videos depicting various portions of the New Orleans Campaign. If one more person had entered that building there would not been enough room left for anyone to turn around, much less move... but, it was warm.

Friday was much like the eighth, weather wise. We went back to the battlefield for the demonstrations of period crafts, weaving, powder horn making, musketry, and cannon firings. I noticed a small number of differences between these cannon procedures and those used in the Civil War. Then we went to the reenactors battlefield, about a half mile away. The area was to be a subdivision before Katrina. Now the owner has leased it to The Louisiana Living History Association, presumably for annual reenactments of the battles of New Orleans. The field was cleared, about 200 yards (meters) wide and 600 long. On the north end a replica of the original defenses, built by Jackson, complete with cannon embrasures,  and redoubt, had been erected.

Friday night brought the reenactment of the night battle of December 23, 1814. Spectators were allowed to stand at the dirt and wood berm of the Jackson defenses and watch the battle taking place in the open field to their front. Huge portable lights illuminated the area. Mostly all one could see were the backs of the American troops and the flashes and sparks from the English muskets and cannon. The freezing wind kept the gun smoke from obscuring the view... this time, and for each of the other engagements as well.

Saturday's weather was the same. Wife and I arrived early and I made friends with some of the cannoneers. I quizzed them closely on their guns and procedures. At 10am spectators stood behind barricades set back about 50 yards behind the Jackson defenses. Again, spectators watch the backs of the American troops as they defended against the "reconnaissance in force" of December 28, 1814. Between battles we wandered around the encampments and the sutlers (Venders) tents. I hoped to talk to some of the British (actually Brits from England, some Canadians, and some Australians) but they were having drills and inspections in formation when I went to their camp. Some of the British and many of the American reenactors were from the North, where they mostly do battles from the French and Indian War, The American Revolution, and the War of 1812. Idle times found us wandering about in the French Quarter. We saw the Presbytery, the old US Mint, and the Civil War Museum. We ate well and often.

1pm brought us back to the area behind the Jackson Defenses to watch the reenactment of the Artillery Duel of January 1, 1815. This time I searched out the bleacher on the highest ground (nearly one foot above surroundings) and got us seats on the top (fourth) row. If I stood, I could occasionally see a line of British troops or their cannon blasts. 4pm brought us up to the Jackson berm to watch the reenactment of the January 8, 1815 engagement that occurred on the west bank of the Mississippi.

Wife and I had given up our room at Place de Armes hotel and moved to Slidel. This to avoid a raise in rates from about $125 a night Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday , to over $350 a night for Friday and Saturday. Our reward, besides a $90 room, was an excellent dinner at a lakeside marina/yacht club.

Sunday weather was slightly less cold. 10am brought on the climactic battle of January 8, 1815. Spectators were again stationed in the area 50 yards behind the Jackson Line. I secured my regular observation point early and recruited some pleasant folks to join us. The curse, was a "talker" who joined us and insisted on talking from 9am, shortly after I secured our seats, until we left after the show. The following pictures and video should tell the story of the reenactment... The mule team may have been the simulated ambulance.

Sorry! the video has not downloaded. i will try again later.


Monday, December 29, 2014


by Rob Watson

Perhaps you have had cause to wonder how any change in a series of events might have changed an outcome. In the cases of great outcomes and cases of tragedies, we humans take time to examine our decisions and speculate on how we might have made things better or worse. The following is a story of a rather benign series of events with a pleasant outcome.

Wife made friends with a co-volunteer at one of her former occupations. A plan, on our part to travel some 3,000 miles,  would bring us within a few miles of this person's abode. Using electronic means they made a plan to meet this friend as we traveled near by. There in lies the tale.

After a week or so of electronic isolation, Wife sent a message of when we would arrive, but received no acknowledgement. Presuming the message would be received later we continued with the original plan. After driving a few hundred miles it became clear we would arrive at the meeting place two hours early. Common courtesy requires one to call to verify we could come early. Again there was no acknowledgement. Now the question becomes to go or not to go. We decided to go.

When we arrived in town,  Wife called again. Again, no answer. We had a GPS, a map, and a general idea of the location of the friend's home. We decided to go there and if no one was home we would come back to town and look around until the appointed meeting time. In order to drive in the correct direction we had to turn around.  We decided to turn around by going around the block. We could have gone right or left. We chose left.

At the end of this block we could again choose right or left. To the left I saw the town hall and seat of local government. I suggested we ask at City Hall for better directions.  Wife responded by turning right and suggested we ask at the post office, which was right there. She turned in and parked.  Being a gentleman I volunteered to go inside and inquire.

As I stepped from the car a lady on a bike rode up and dismounted. I inquired as to whether she knew Wife's friend. "Oh, indeed!" was her reply. "How can I help you?" I told her we were seeking directions to the friend's home. "go back one block and drive south 9 miles until you get to a big barn. Turn right and drive three more miles to a large orange mail box and turn left. You will see the house off in the distance at the top of the hill." I repeat these directions with her nodding to indicate I had gotten it right. Then she repeats these directions again, and concludes "Well, I think that is correct. Lets go in the post office and make sure."

 Inside, the postmaster is on the phone and we must wait for her to finish before asking direction again. "Go back one block and drive south 9 miles until you get to a big barn. Turn right and drive three more miles to a large orange mail box and turn left. You will see the house off in the distance at the top of the hill." word for word the original set of directions I had previously been given. Then the postmaster added "The road is being torn up to be resurfaced but it has not reached the mail box yet... Let me call to find out." She makes a phone call but got no answer. She calls another number and chats for a bit before hanging up. She repeats the directions a second time. I can now go outside, get in the car and relate to Wife all that has occurred, including the, now repeated four times, directions.

When I have finished, there is a pause in the action as a car pulls into the parking space beside Wife. There in the front passenger seat is her friend, who looks over and develops an expression of great surprise.

As It happens, the friend had completely forgotten we were coming. Her mother had died several days before and she had gone, with her sisters and friends, to that home to clean up and sort the mother's possessions. They had come to town to visit the bank, check the mail, and go to a resturant for lunch.

Arrangements were made for meeting at lunch in another town. We lunched, visited, and drove on our way, marveling at the series of events needed to make this happen.

Friday, December 19, 2014


By Rob Watson 

 The group is a Catholic men’s organization first formed by Irish Catholics in Boston in the 1880’s to provide charity to catholic widows and orphans. It has grown to an international group. When I was in college, the Catholic student club, the Newman Club, finally saved enough money to build a new building. It was unfurnished until the Knights of Columbus men of Shreveport sent a team of their officers to Ruston to determine our requirements. A doctor’s wife, associated with our little club, led them through the building, room by room, with a catalog, picking out what we needed. Those men never had a chance. Mrs. Black was smart, aggressive, and attractive… a deadly combination around men. What we got was attractive, durable, and very good quality. We got everything we needed. They spent thousand of dollars, today would be measured in tens of thousands of dollars. I was president of the Newman Club that year and had a front row seat to it all. It is probably time i worked with these guys and did some pay back.( I recently had cause to return to my old college stomping grounds. At the newer, much expanded Catholic facility there, I met some ladies who regularly visited Mrs. Black at an elder care home. I wrote a note to Mrs. Black identifying myself and expressing my thanks and admiration for her work on my behalf. These ladies promised to deliver the note for me.)

However it might be classified, manly or childish, I like the parading around in the fancy outfit and the sword. I have not gotten the hang of handling the sword yet. Today, in church, we marched down the isle and drew the swords in salute. Then we were to replace the thing and remove our hats. Every time I tried to get the sword back into its scabbard, the point snagged the fabric of my glove and would not go in. As a form saving device I held the scabbard and unsheathed sword in my left hand. I removed the hat with my right. After a few minutes I was challenged to use my left hand for another activity, while still holding the hat in my right. I put my hat on to make another stab at replacing the sword. Immediately, the boss knight on the alter, saw me and signaled to take my hat off. This time the sword made it in on the first try. The hat came off and everyone was happy.

The “Installation” pictured is for the officers who were just elected. I am in the pictures because I was a stand-in for a guy who couldn’t make it. My actual induction was part of a secret ceremony done three years ago in Kansas. That group never had a meeting, so I transferred here to the local group. There are a lot more Catholics here than in Kansas… They are active with meetings that include a nice meal, and they use their funds to do public service and charity work. The regalia ( the fancy outfit) is used for funerals and special celebrations in the church. Friday we will go to Many, LA to participate in the 25th anniversary of priesthood for one guy and 17th of another. They will feed us afterwards… another chance to get food on that outfit.

Another recent activity, pictured below, was attending the dedication ceremony for the Veterans Memorial Park. This monument has a series of plaques listing the local persons who died in the various wars our nation has fought. All of these men, pictured, are veterans of the US Military.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Serving A Civil War Cannon: Part 3

By Rob Watson

You might read the three previous posts on the Civil War In April 2013, April 2014, and May 2014, before reading this. You will find they add color to this post. April 2014 has a short video as well.

The type of cannon I have served, so far, is called a Mountain Howitzer. Previous to my Civil War experiences I was exposed to this type cannon at Fort Laramie National Historical Site and Fort Casper both in Wyoming and Fort Larned in Kansas. The Wyoming sites discussed the cannon as part of their historical presentations, usually held on Memorial Day weekends and other holidays. At Fort Larned they had live fire demonstrations for their events.

The 12 pound, Mountain Howitzer was designed as a relatively light weapon of 150 pounds (68kg) that could be disassembled and packed around by pack animals. The gun tube was made of bronze. The carriage could be taken apart and packed on animals as well. Its main feature, other than mobility, was its ability to fire standard 12 pound ammunition: canister, shrapnel, and shells. (but not solid shot) Because of the exploding nature of the shrapnel and shell ammunition, the American Indians call these cannon "the gun that shoots twice". Indian fighting in the American West was mostly Cavalry action. Because of the cumbersome nature, hauling, assembling of this cannon it was seldom carried, much less used in that regard. However cannon were used at the Sand Creek Massacre, and they might have been the mountain howitzer.

The Civil War was very different. Because of the relative light weight and maneuverability, as compared to other cannon, and the more organized battles, Mountain Howitzers were used extensively. The Louisiana Second Cavalry, with its four gun battery of these cannon, saw extensive action throughout the Civil War in the Louisiana Theater: Donaldsonville (September 21-25, 1862); Georgia Landing, near Labadieville (October 27, 1862); Bayou Teche (January 14, 1863); Fort Bisland [in reserve] (April 13-14, 1863); Irish Bend (April 14, 1863); Brashear City [detachment] (June 23, 1863); Red River Campaign (March-June 1864); Henderson’s Hill (March 21, 1864); Mansfield (April 8, 1864). They fought under this version of General Richard Taylor's Flag.

Another unit with the Mountain Howitzer was N. T. N. Robinson's Battery of the Louisiana First Cavalry. Indirect records show they participated in the battle at Stone's River/ Murfreesboro  Dec. 31 1862- Jan. 2 1863. I found this record:

Robinson's Company, Horse Artillery
Stationed at Murfreesborough, Tennessee, September 1 - December 31, 1862
Stationed at Bean Station, January - February 1863
Stationed near Jacksborough, Tennessee, March 1- June 30 1863
From November 1, 1861 to May 1, 1863, this company had three howitzers, to which was added from time to time three 3-inch rifle guns, two of them being steel Parrott guns captured by one regiment, First Louisiana Cavalry, from Colonel Sanders� Abolition raiders on June 27, 1863.
The Wild Cat Cavalry Company, Captain [Obed] P. Miller, being wholly without officers, was transferred by Major General [Simon Bolivar] Buckner to Colonel Scott, commanding brigade, and by him to this company.
June 1. - At an election held for officers, in pursuance of orders from brigade Headquarters, the following were declared duly elected: N. T. N. Robinson, Captain; Winslow Robinson, Senior First Lieutenant; J. A. Turner, First Lieutenant; Charles E. Liverich, Senior Second Lieutenant; the juniors are still vacant. N. T. N. Robinson, Captain.

At the battle of Chickamauga, Louisiana First Cavalry, and Robinson's battery were attached to the command of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forest. In action there, Robinson's Battery was held in reserve. There was another report that Robinson's battery opposed the Union crossing of the Tennessee River in action just prior to the battle at Lookout Mountain.

Robinson's Battery dissolved in December 1863 when Braxton Bragg reorganized his artillery units. An obituary for N. T. N. Robinson in 1909, reported he had an extensive career in public service before passing away in New Orleans.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Colonoscopy and Upper GI

By Rob Watson

I am writing this for the benefit of my nieces and nephews who share my family history, and for those who might need one of these, or are just curious. In the interests of full disclosure, you should know there is no part of this experience that is in any way pleasant, uplifting, or enlightening. But, as they say about getting old, it sure beats the alternative.

I am currently two hours into recovering from my most recent Colonoscopy and a new experience, an upper GI... something. I have a family history of colon polyps. I have experienced a few sorts of inspections down there from about the age of 14. Nothing was found in the early years. I had a sigmoidoscopy about 1991 but cannot remember any results. I began colonoscopies in 1994, with one every 3 years or so sense. They have produced both benign and precancerous polyps in every inspection, always several, sometimes many, until today.

The process begins with an initial appointment with a Gastroenterologist. Here you should experience some parts of a physical examination and extensive questioning about your health history and current health. This is mostly done by trained healthcare professionals (THP). When these have been covered, the doctor reviews them, then comes to meet you and review all that has gone before. A date is set for your 'procedure'. You are also given a set of instructions for you to prep yourself for that procedure.

Those instructions include no solid food for 24 hours before the procedure. In fact no murky liquids either, only clear liquids, with nothing red or purple. Jello is OK. For some reason, and in contrast to normal fasting, I do not recall feeling hungry during this time. In the late afternoon or evening, you will be given something to drink, which can, regardless of the choices, only be characterized as awful. If you are lucky, it will not be terrible. My current experience included stuff that was so sickly sweet it threatened to come back the way it went in, instead of going out the other end. Your last instruction will be nothing, food or drink, after midnight, not even water.

This material is designed to clean you out, literally flush all contents from mouth to anus. With numerous visits to the toilet, you will quickly begin to expel solids, the soft materials, and so forth until nearly clear liquids are produced. I was allowed to watch my first colonoscopy. My colon was as clean as the pictures on the doctors walls.

On arrival at the medical center you will be greeted by pleasant helpful people. My former Gastroenterologist was a bit of a sour puss but he was the exception. You need to get use to being asked why you are there. (I will mark the times with *)It seems to be a test of your mental acuity rather than some need to know on their part. In today's experience I was checked in without delay* and given one of those call devices you get at a busy restaurant. No nurse hollering your name from the door. I went in to have my records checked and reviewed*. After a short wait was called to be preped for the procedure*.

*First you are connected to a heart monitoring machine to take heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen level. You are given privacy to remove all your clothes and jewelry and don one of those hospital gowns that gap open in the rear. I was given a soft and pre-warmed blanket with which to cover on a nice soft bed. (In contrast, old sour puss had me lie down on an ice cold stainless steel table. No blanket.) *An IV is established in your hand and secured with tape. *The anesthesiologist meets me and asks if I have a family history of problems with any anesthesia and asks if I have any questions for him. *A HCP comes in, calls up my history on a computer and reviews all the entries with me. Wife is brought to the room to keep me company until the surgical room is ready. After a short wait,* a HCP appears, gives Wife instruction on where to meet me in the recovery room and rolls me to the operating room. *Here, a number of HCP get busy connecting me to monitoring machines and an oxygen-through-the-nose plastic tube. The anesthesiologist appears and tells me to keep my eyes open. (others may ask you to count backwards)

After what seems like an pleasant nap, I wake up in another room with Wife beside me. In referencing past experiences, here is what I/you have missed: The doctor inserts a long black flexible device into your anus. The head of which contains a gas tube for inflating your intestine, a wire loop for capturing and removing polyps, a light, and a video camera so everyone in the room can see what is happening. The head with the camera seems to be able to swivel. It is slowly pushed inside your large intestine, looking from side to side, looking for small white spots on the intestine wall. When one is found, the wire loop reaches out and plucks it from its place. (By some means it is transported to the outside where a technician examines it for cancer, usually a few hours later in time.) At this time, one can also see the small pockets in the intestine wall called diverticulitis (losis?). When the end of the large intestine is reached, the tube is removed and one begins to expel gas at a prodigious rate, which continues for a few hours afterwards.

Here is the cautionary note. Everyone hears the Horror stories about perforated colons/bowels. One happened at the clinic where old sour puss worked, but no one ever said who did it (6 doctors worked there). This caused me a fair amount of concern when I went for my last one there. YOU are your best defense against a bad outcome. Pain, serious pain, is one of the symptoms. (old time gunfighters said shoot for the gut because the pain will paralyze your opponent) The other is copious blood from the anus.(SMALL AMOUNTS OF BLOOD WILL APPEAR IF POLYPS ARE REMOVED) You must not delay if you have these symptoms. The lady in that town died from blood loss after 6 hours.

The discomfort is not over, even now, 6 hour after the procedure. What ever they gave me has dried out my mouth and I cannot eat anything... nor am I hungry. I love french bread it tasted awful. I asked Wife to stop for my favorite candy bar. It tastes great but it sticks in the mouth like very dry peanut butter. I quit eating after two mouth fulls. The remains sits on the desk beside me now. Sherbert and sprite was OK.

On a final note, after several experiences at nearly a dozen facilities over the years, I really liked the people, the process, and the outcome at The Central Louisiana Surgical Hospital, today. ( all the necessary unpleasantness aside). My results: for the first time, no polyps found!