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Leaving on a jet plane…I do know when I’ll be back again

Orac finds it necessary and desirable to take a break to contemplate a black hole and recharge his Tarial cells. Here’s what will happen in his absence (not much).

By the time you read this, I will have arrived at an undisclosed location somewhere in Europe. My 25th wedding anniversary is today, and to celebrate my wife and I planned a nearly two-week vacation flitting about Europe. I won’t announce where exactly, given that I’ve irritated a couple of European cranks in recent months, but those of you who are Facebook friends or who follow me on Twitter will likely soon see mentions and/or photos of where we’re vacationing.

As this day approached, I contemplated what to do with the blog. I thought about just shutting it down for two weeks, but hesitated because in its twelve and a half year history, I’ve never shut Respectful Insolence down for longer than a few days, and, to be honest, I fear the traffic hit a bit. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t give a rodent’s posterior if my traffic plummets; I’m sure it’ll recover. In any case, I’m certainly not going to be blogging regularly (if at all), although, me being me, I’d be surprised if I don’t produce at least one new post during travel time (blogging is a lovely way to pass the time on a plane or train, and there will be a plane and train trips to different destinations, plus a long transatlantic flight with many hours to kill). Also, I have at least one post in the hopper scheduled for later, and I have a very long flight ahead of me with a lot of time to kill during which I could knock off another post or two.

So what I’ll probably do is to post “reruns” most days and maybe the odd new post. (If I happen upon some major quackery action in Europe, who knows? I might not be able to resist.) If, as is likely, it turns out that I’m having such a good time that there’s no downtime and I’m getting tired of spending even a few minutes each day to pick out an old post to repost, I’ll stop doing reruns and let the blog lay fallow until after I return, hopefully refreshed and revitalized, ready to lay down some more Insolence. Tune in now and then to find out.

It feels really weird not to have a pager on my belt—in a good way.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

61 replies on “Leaving on a jet plane…I do know when I’ll be back again”

Wishing the lovely Mrs. Orac a very happy anniversary. Oh and I suppose you too.

If your blog’s hit rate drops, your pharma shill payments will also drop. Speaking of which, as a loyal minion and shill, I have not been receiving my payments. My lavish lifestyle won’t pay for itself, you know.

Happy 25th anniversary to you and your honey!

@ Orac,

Temporarily release me from auto-moderation and I’ll get this hive of African bees (Orac’s minions) stinging out-of-control the next two weeks.

Enjoy the trip. There are lots of wonderful places in Europe, and I hope you get to visit a few of them.

I’ve been to quite a few nice places in Europe over the years, and I know there are many more I have never been to–most of my trips over there have been the sort where you stay in one place for a week or two, getting to see that city reasonably well and maybe a day trip to some place nearby. I have found that package tourism, particularly the if-today-is-Tuesday-this-must-be-Brussels sort of trips, is not for me.

Wish you a happy anniversary and a nice trip in Europe.

I still consider myself more European than anything else, though it seems to be a bit impopular these times.

Happy anniversary to you and Mrs Orac! I hope you have a great vacation. I’ll miss the daily Insolence, but you won’t get rid of me that easily! 🙂

Mrs Orac must have the patience of Job–show her a good time. Reruns are fine. Many congratulations!

Happy Anniversary to Dr. and Mrs. Orac!

I hope you have a wonderful trip 🙂

Happy anniversary and holidays!
Enjoy and don’t fall into any radon baths, say, in Germany 🙂

Many happy returns to the Oracs!
*raises glass for a toast*

Have a great time ambling about in Europe, while I will practice being insolent elsewhere… in anticipation of the orange occupier of the White House, who will sadly be in my hometown a few weeks from now – if he’ll finally find a place where he can stay.
(None of the local first class hotels wanted to host the US delegation, and, as of now, it seems the ones in our nation’s capital don’t want to either)

Happy anniversary- sung to the tune of the William Tell.

Enjoy Europe.

Congratulations on reaching 25 years, may you and Mrs. Orac have at least another 25 years.

Just a suggestion don’t wear yourself out like I just did with 15 days in Thailand. I had to come back to work to rest.


25 years? You must, one day, tell me your secret… If there is some secret to it.

Congrats. Many happy returns.

Remember only two touristy things a day at most and lots of time in pubs/cafés/bodegas/restaurants or whatever for recovery. Touristing is hard work if you are not in training and people watching is a lot of fun while you recover.

Ren: “If there is some secret to it.”

I guess it is different for everyone. We had our 37th wedding anniversary last month.

Orac, you both have fun! And I should remind you: provide pictures or it did not happen. 😉

Touristing is hard work if you are not in training

I am a highly-trained professional, and if anyone wants to go touristing but does not have the necessary stamina, I am willing to take the air tickets and go touristing on their behalf.

Europe, huh? You picked a good time to go. I hear they have cars, and voting, and flush toilets and everything over there now.
Actually, given that the large soggy jack o’lantern that a minority of the American people has been embarrassing us in the eyes of the world, I recommend sticking Canadian flags all over your luggage and clothing. Also, if you go to Portugal, I recommend knocking off a bottle of vinho verde each per day, except for the days when you have one of the very good local beers. Come to think of it, I recommend spending every afternoon and evening in every country in a very slight alcoholic haze to give your memories that golden glow.
Or just do what you feel, have fun, recharge, etc.

Touristing is hard work if you are not in training

Depends what kind of touristing you are doing.

I grew up in an area that attracts lots of tourons. I trust that our host isn’t one of these. “Touron” is a portmanteau of “tourist” and “moron”, i.e., people who think that because they are on vacation their brains don’t have to do any work. (Credit Carl Hiaasen for the term.) The category includes people who merely turn into gibbering idiots the moment they step on the plane, and more than a few Darwin Award candidates.

A work colleague grew up on a Greek island, and his family run a hotel there. He is even more intimately familiar with the type than I am.

Wow. Both Darwin Award winners. Actually, all of them except Wesley Snipes.

@Julian: Story #5 also involves a crackpot medical theory, though the guy who killed himself implementing it didn’t have a medical background. I’m just old enough to remember hearing about Jim Fixx’s ironic death from news reports, so I don’t recall if there were disclaimers before then about consulting your doctor before undertaking an exercise program if you are over 40, but I do remember seeing such disclaimers shortly thereafter.

I also recall seeing news reports about the anti-seat belt activist from Nebraska. He calls to mind Robert Heinlein’s quote about a universal death penalty for stupidity. Contra Heinlein, this penalty is not uniformly applied, but it certainly was applied in that guy’s case.

Happy anniversary – what a lovely way to celebrate!

@Eric – how did I not know this was a thing with xkcd?!

Happy Anniversary!! Have a wonderful trip.

Making donation in honor of you and your long marriage and admirably tolerant wife!

Celebrate Mike Pence’s birthday (and Orac’s anniversary!!) with an annual gift to @PPact in his honor! Join me: #PlannedParenthood

Kudos Jay – supporting Planned Parenthood is one of the best things you can do.

And don’t forget to donate in Jay’s name to a group supporting domestic vaccination efforts, such as Every Child By Two and

@Julian and Eric,

The Jim Fixx case is interesting because it illustrates two common claims of alt med, that something good for prevention like diet and fitness is also good for treatment, and the overselling of the benefits in cases where it has some value like type II diabetes.

But, the benefits of cardiovascular or aerobic exercise to prevent heart attacks were well established by Dr Cooper back in the 60’s, so running for fitness is not nearly as crackpot an idea as Hulda Clark’s zapper or starvation cures.

I’ve read a few things about Jim Fixx. According to another source, he was a bit fanatical about things.
Exercise is beneficial up to a point (about 140 minutes a week), but after that, over-exercise can actually reduce your health. Jim Fixx went beyond that limit, according to the other source I read. That is one of the reasons he had a heart attack.

# 27 Rockin’ Dave

I recommend sticking Canadian flags all over your luggage and clothing.

Oi, are you trying to give us a bad name?

# 31 Eric Lund

It has been a very long time but IIRC President Eisenhower’s personal physician (Paul Dudley?) was an ardent advocate of running for the good of your heart. And yes, he died of a heart attack.

He was probably older than Methuselah when it happened.

after that, over-exercise can actually reduce your health

This may not be true but why take the risk?

That would be Paul Dudley White: you got it close. However, he died of stroke at age 87.

jkrideau: “Oi, are you trying to give us a bad name?”
Orac choosing to be associated with one’s nation is an honor. You should only be so lucky up there in the Great Cartographic Blank Spot.
Also, I am ambivalent about having the “Old” left off my handle. While somewhat pleased at all the senior discount that increasingly are coming my way, and being called “sir” a lot, and belonging to a SAGE group, and having overcome a great deal of various solid forms of excrement to have gotten this far, I tend to think of “Old” as just a kind of nametag, rather than a real part of my identity.

# 42 Se Habla Espol
That was him! Stroke ?

I really thought it was a heart attack but I was talking about a very vague memory of , to me, a very minor event very long ago.

Well I got a good part of the name right which for me is unusual! And good guess at the age. Put that Bible down!

Still, it just proves all this exercise is bad for you. He’d have lived to at least 100 without all that running. Time for another cookie.

Bon Voyage and Happy Anniversary, Orac and Mrs. Orac!

If you’re going to be in Europe, you’d be remiss if you didn’t visit Krakow. And Budapest.

I mean, sure, I’ve heard Paris and Milan are nice, but…

I loved the French countryside, but Paris was an annoying pit. Go to Europe, avoid some major cities like Paris, and according to my children.. avoid Amsterdam. They did like Copenhagen.

Okay, it is personal opinion.

Sad news, JP… the porcini season here finished early.

Spend a day in Amsterdam with some friends from the US, who liked it there.
I would prefer Delft, or perhaps Utrecht. Both have canals, like Amsterdam, but they are smaller. The canals in Utrecht have terraces close to the water. They can be seen in ‘Amsterdamned’.

I’ve never been to Amsterdam (transiting at Schiphol Airport doesn’t count), and my experience with Paris is limited to a part day between flights at CDG (morning arrival from US, evening departure to Asia, in between I stashed my suitcase at Gare du Nord and saw a few sights). But I have spent some time in London, Munich, and Stockholm, as well as various smaller cities. The main problem with London is that everything there is so bloody expensive: for a first-order estimate, take New York expense account prices and replace the dollar sign with a pound sign. Munich and Stockholm are great places to visit, and not quite as expensive (though you will find liquor is heavily taxed in Sweden).

I’d rather play tourist in any European city than in a North American city of similar size, because over there they actually take seriously the notion that many people might prefer not to drive. Even smaller cities like Bern (which is similar in population to Huntsville, AL, a city with no public transportation whatsoever) have well-developed public transport systems. One afternoon in Bern I took a tram to the end of the line, walked up a small mountain, and walked down the other side into one of the suburbs. The bus back to the city center was pulling away just as I was approaching the bus stop. I had to wait all of six minutes for the next bus.


If you are self guiding don’t always believe Google Maps. I rented a scooter (125cc) in Chiang Mai and basically got lost every time I road around and Google Maps did eventually help find my way back to the hotel. I did go to a post office and Google Maps said I had reached my destination which would be on my right. It was no where to be found but it was soon pointed out that it was on the left side of the road.

Today is a surreal day for me because I proposed to a young Thai lady at 3:01 am this morning.

Sad news, JP… the porcini season here finished early.

More sad news: I never did find any “spring kings.” I suppose I was focusing on morels, therefore I was in the wrong kind of habitat. I did have some luck with morels.

I gather, from looking at the posts in various ID groups that I’m a part of on Facebook, that there are still plenty of mushrooms out there for the picking, in any case. I’ve seen people finding oysters yet, chanterelles already, chicken of the woods, etc. Must get out soon! (I was curtailed for a time because the temperatures here got up into the 90s, freakishly, which I find disgusting. They’ve since dropped about 30 degrees, though.)

Rich@51: Google Maps isn’t the only one with problems. I am convinced that at least one major GPS map vendor has the addressing on my street reversed, because I have had more than one pizza delivery person show up at my front door when they were looking for the house at the other end of the street (notwithstanding that I have my address number on a mailbox next to the street, visible to traffic moving in both directions).

Things have improved, fortunately. There was a time when I would routinely see things like an instruction to get on the Mass Pike in a place where there is no onramp. An even more ridiculous case was the directions I got to attend a friend’s wedding in New Jersey. First attempt: go through the Bronx, but instead of staying on I-95 the whole way across, get off and take some local streets for a while. Not wishing to drive in New York City, and specifically trying to avoid the George Washington Bridge, I attempted to set an intermediate point on the Tappan Zee Bridge. No problem: cross the bridge, exit immediately thereafter, cross the bridge in the other direction, and then head south to the George Washington Bridge (which was the route I was trying to avoid). “Favor Major Highways”? According to that website, the portion of I-84 east of Hartford (a motorway with three or more lanes each direction) was not a major highway.

I suppose I was focusing on morels, therefore I was in the wrong kind of habitat. I did have some luck with morels.

Oh good. Not much sprouting up under the trees here except blewits and slippery jacks. Which are meh, so I’m dehydrating them for later.
I did have a stategic stockpile of dried porcini from last year, but used up a lot of that yesterday, because a colleague and I are brewing a Porcini Porter

Today is a surreal day for me because I proposed to a young Thai lady at 3:01 am this morning.

I didn’t propose yet but yesterday, I learned that the waitress at one of my favorite brewpub (no I didn’t drink any alcohol) was single since two years. I asked her to a nice diner/lunch/meal and movie theater. She agreed to go with me.



Try working with a 14 hour time difference. It is tomorrow for her now.

Congratulations to you both! Have a wonderful relaxing time – & if in Rome, try to get to the Borghese Museum. My SO is just back from a trip & swears the Borghese leaves all other museums in the shade.

Best wishes, kids**

** altho’ considering the 25 years, perhaps I should have said ” people”

If I happen upon some major quackery action in Europe, who knows? I might not be able to resist.

I had thought that recovering false memories was a bit of American quackery, now largely disappeared, but I was shocked to read today that it’s alive and well in France, with some horrifying examples.

I’m horribly late, but that’s better than never —

Happy Anniversary to the Oracs!!! 🙂

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