Wednesday, December 5, 2018


One of the most common dermatological MYTHS is the belief that flaky, itchy scalp, so-called dandruff, comes from washing your hair too much. The truth is the exact opposite. Read on.

 Almost 100% of patients who see me as a dermatologist for dandruff suspect the flakes and itch are from drying out of their scalp. Patients instinctively reduce their hair washing but it doesn’t help. In fact, they all admit their scalp feels better the day of and day after washing, but gets worse after two or three days of NOT washing. Here’s the explanation:

Dandruff affects almost half the world population of adolescents and young adults to some degree. It affects both men and women but seems to be more common in men. Flakiness, itch, and oily scalp are the most common signs. At its worst, dandruff goes by a different name—seborrheic dermatitis and can even involve the skin of the face.

Many factors contribute: Testosterone leads to oiliness (both men and women have testosterone). Oiliness promotes microscopic yeast organisms called Malassezia. Individual immune responses lead to the inflammation (redness, itch) and discomfort. That, basically, is the package.

So how does washing hair influence the problem? The issue is this: Washing removes the flakes, the oil and the yeast which in turn reduces immune reactions which ultimately reduces flakiness, itchiness and redness. The purpose is to clean your scalp, not your hair per se (the hair will get clean in the process). Use conditioners as needed.

What shampoo to use?Mere washing with plain shampoo can help, but the best anti-dandruff shampoos contain either coal tar (T-Gel®, Pentrax®), anti-fungal chemicals (Nizoral®, Cicloprox®) or cortisone-like steroids (Clobex®). Personally, I favor tar shampoos, which also happen to be the least expensive.

How often should you wash your hair? In general, the more you wash your hair, the better your scalp will feel. (Scalp skin is similar to face skin, and you don’t wash your face only once per week!) Daily hair washing is usually adequate in the setting of dandruff/seborrheic dermatitis. It depends on the severity of the condition. The important fact is that washing does not worsen the problem, it only helps.

There are cases where seeing a doctor is required. Topical prescription lotions can reduce inflammation or reduce the Malassezia yeast. Fortunately, the condition is not dangerous to your health, and tends to improve as you move from the prime of life into middle age and beyond. Something to look forward to!

And ONE MORE THING: The concept of lather, rinse, repeat is complete nonsense, falsely made up by manufacturers so that you  use up twice as much product as you need. Once is perfectly adequate. Thank you.

Monday, October 8, 2018


Women in Trump's America: Composition 1

Women in Trump's America: Composition 2


Saturday, August 25, 2018

LETTERS FROM THE FRONT, Part 6: Hemingway's Pants

Emmett’s last encounter with Ernest Hemingway had nothing to do with drinking. He told it this way:

“After Hemingway was transferred to the Red Cross Hospital in Milan, no one back at ambulance headquarters thought he would drive again. Rumors were that he would be lucky to walk. Unexpectedly, after six months, he returned to say his goodbyes and gather his belongings before returning to the States. But he came back to an empty locker. His locker had been cleaned out and he was hopping mad about it! I ran into him that afternoon. All he said, looking down at my khakis, was ‘Shaw, those are my pants.’ All I could say was ‘Yes, sir, they are.’ I apologized and returned the pants the next day, laundered, of course. That’s the last time I saw Ernest Hemingway. No handshake. Nothing. C’est la vie. C’est la guerre.”

At home after the war during prohibition the art of drinking degenerated into a sort of a nightmare and good drinking companions were indeed hard to find. I like to forget those wasted years between 1920 and 1932 when we were forced to buy synthetic liquor from bootleggers and thugs and drink it in bedrooms and toilets and back alleyways. My best drinking companion during most of those awful years was a druggist who made his own poison by mixing a half pint of grain alcohol with an equal amount of strawberry pop. It was a vile concoction and ruinous to the digestion. We did most of our drinking in the rear of his drug store surrounded by shelves of patent medicine bottles and cosmetics.

One other fairly steady drinking companion I had during this gloomy period who was also a glutton for punishment specialized in moonshine. Between us we usually managed to keep a jug or two of the pale fluid that maims and kills cached in convenient places. He could handle the stuff a lot better than I. He liked it raw and the more it burned the better it seemed to suit him. I was finally forced to withdraw from this partnership. I just couldn’t stand the pace.

After repeal when it once more became possible to obtain decent liquor and drink it without hiding, I renewed many old acquaintances and even made one or two new ones.

As time goes on, however, I find myself for one reason and another taking it a little easier. I have almost ceased looking for new drinking companions. On rare occasions I meet up with one of the old friends of bygone years and of course we always celebrate the event in the fitting and proper way.

Only last year Larry Fisher came through town. I hadn’t seen him but once since the old days in France and Italy. We drank whiskey and soda until far into the night and fought the war all over again. After midnight he got his wife on the phone and introduced me over the long distance wire.

I have never claimed to be much of a connoisseur. I have always drunk and still drink largely for the fun and conviviality. If my drinking companion prefers wine, I usually drink wine. And if it’s beer or gin or rye or bourbon or rum or anything except moonshine, the same holds true.

There have even been times when I have gone for weeks without taking a drink. During such periods, although I may feel fine and everything running smooth, I rarely seem to have any fun and am usually lonesome as hell.

I love a good drinking companion. They are so rare. I have drunk with many during the past years, some good, some bad. The perfect ones are very, very few. I cherish their memory and the memory of the wonderful times we had drinking together.

Emmett continued to write and tell stories of North American Fronts: Fronts of gold prospecting in California, the Alaskan frontier immediately after it became a state, and histories of Civil War fronts and Texas in the making. But the beer glass is empty now. All that remains is the memory of the whiff of aroma.  
                                                The End


Friday, August 24, 2018

LETTERS FROM THE FRONT, Part 5: 1918, Italy and Paris


I shall never forget one weekend that Larry and I spent at Monza drinking Asti-Spumenti (sic) beneath the trees. Larry’s companion at the moment was a beautiful dark haired Italian Countess by the name of Marie. She had obligingly provided a companion for me in the form of a buxom English lass from Lancastershire who preferred ale to Asti-Spumenti and would rather eat than drink.
Larry and George Harris and I spent many a pleasant afternoon and evening when on leave in Milan drinking at the Cova or under the glassed archway in the famous Galleria. Sometimes Hemingway and other convivial residents of Milan would join us. We have since recognized some of those people as characters in Hemingway’s books.
It was also in Milan that Larry and I discovered the English-American Club. A German boat had been captured loaded with Münchner Beer. Somehow a portion of this precious cargo had found its way into the cellar of this club. Many a pleasant hour we spent drinking Münchner. It was delightfully rich and heavy and full of head. When we could no longer drink it we just sat and whiffed the aroma.
That autumn Russ and I secured a leave of absence and went sight-seeing in Southern Italy. Russ always carried a large fiasco of wine with him in his knapsack so as not to be caught short. On the slow train from Rome to Naples our wine gave out. At the next stop I stepped off the train to secure more wine and sandwiches. The sandwiches were provided but before I could negotiate the purchase of more wine the train pulled out. We had no more to drink until we reached Naples and Russ never forgave me. It was beyond him to understand how one could procure food instead of wine when both were obtainable and only time for one.
At Pompeii we visited the ruins and drank wine in the old Roman theatre. Russ took a keen delight in translating the Latin inscriptions around the market place. One in particular caught his eye. “Vote for Crassus for Prefect. He favors open gambling and wine shops.” Men’s tastes change little in two thousand years. We spent an hour or so in the famous or infamous Palace of Love viewing the beautiful life-like frescoes. Women tourists are not allowed in here. While we were inside an elderly American spinster insisted on entering. She took one look at the frescoes and vanished with her head in the air.
After the armistice our unit split up and I went back to Paris. America had gone dry in the meantime and some of us were reluctant to come home. I soon met a new drinking companion, a Texan from San Antonio named McCampbell. Mac had also driven an ambulance and was a graduate of Fontainebleau. We slept occasionally at 21 Rue Raynouard and made our headquarters at Maxims.
Paris was a gay town after the armistice, full of officers from the Allied armies and diplomats and interesting people of all kinds. King Albert came to town and King George and President Wilson. Mac and I knew all the ropes by then and did our drinking for the most part in choice and secluded spots where the wine was of the best and the prices within reason. Only once did we get mixed up in a brawl.
It was at Maxims one night that a young British Captain with a cockney accent told a Belgian Cadet that he hated Belgium. He said he had fought in Belgium since the beginning and the Belgians were no good. The cadet was willing to mix but appeared to be no match for the burly Captain so Mac proceeded to knock the Britisher flat with a well-timed right to the jaw.
Nearly two generations later, around the kitchen table, Emmett would also debut occasional new material from the war. One time in Italy, he and his ambulance partner incurred a  tire ‘puncture’. They were up a rise at the end of a valley one or two kilometers long. The road was completely exposed. In the middle of figuring out how to change the tire, an enemy shell exploded one hundred meters behind them. Frantically, they raced to complete the job. Minutes later, a second shell hit fifty meters closer, sending a cloud of dust into the air. They were just about finished, hurriedly returning tools to the car, when a third shell exploded close enough to cover them with dirt and dust just as they hopped into the front seats and pulled away to safety. “Yessir, that was a close one,” Emmett said, tipping a splash of lager into his glass. 
To be continued...

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

LETTERS FROM THE FRONT, Part 4: 1918 Italy

A letter from Emmett to his mother explains his decision to transfer to the Italian Front:

From: E.H. Shaw
Am. Red Cross
5 rue Francois Premier, Paris
Italian Service
Section 4
January 15, 1918

My dear Mother,
I received a letter from you today which was written Dec. 18. I am awfully sorry that you are so put out because I haven’t come home.
You are not a pacifist, are you? Don’t you realize that there is a terrible lot of work to be done over here before Germany can be brought to terms and that there are very few men to do it. Perhaps you can understand the situation better when I tell you that France is talking of calling out her men up to 50 yrs., and England up to 46. Germany seems stronger than ever and America seems terribly slow and unorganized.
When things get so bad that 50 yr. old men have to step into the ring, I hardly have the nerve to calmly turn my back on the whole affair, I, who am barely 23 and healthy. I swear I would feel like an awful quitter if I came home now.
The U.S army may not need me – they have more men than they can handle already and I admit I did waste some weeks trying to land a commission (illegible) which might have been spent to better advantage elsewhere in view of the scarcity of man-power; -- but then, I figure a shoulder-strap is always worth a little effort.
The U.S. army having seen fit to reject me, however, I now feel that I am free to go where men are needed most (Believe me, the other armies aren’t rejecting men.) and I think that place is right here in France or Italy, not in America, three thousand miles from the fight.
If I were self-supporting, I would join the Foreign legion. They are reorganizing just at present and lots of boys are joining—boys like myself, who have been turned down by U.S.A because of physical reasons or otherwise. But the Foreign Legion pays its soldiers nothing, in fact it doesn’t even equip them properly --- so I figure the next best bet is Italy with the Red cross. They need men and it seems like wonderful work.
Surely you agree with me about this coming home proposition. The fight is here in Europe and I’d rather be where the fight is than 3,000 miles away—in the 1st place it’s much more interesting—and above all, being here—I don’t want to turn and beat it away just as the crisis seems to be approaching.
I hope you agree with me.

Your loving son,
p.s. I thought I was writing you often.

The Italians had recently suffered a terrible defeat losing many divisions and much material, and retreating 150 kilometers from Caparetto to the Piave river. The Allies were doing everything they could to bolster their shaken morale. We secured brand new Fiat Ambulances from the factory at Turin and drove across Northern Italy by way of Milan and Verona to Schio.
Scott Russell and Larry Fisher were my drinking companions on this trip. They had both driven ambulances at the French front and in the Balkans. Russ was a great red wine drinker while Larry preferred cognac or champagne. At Milan we were joined by a group of new recruits fresh from the States. Among these recruits was an old gray-haired cattleman from Yakima, Washington, by the name of George Harris, also a young reporter from Chicago called Ernest Hemingway. We who had served in France were at first very loathe to accept these recruits as equals. Old George, however, soon proved himself to be an excellent drinking companion. Hemingway was badly wounded in the leg during the Austrian attack on the Piave and spent many months in the hospital at Milan. No one realized that he would one day be famous. A Farewell To Arms must have been brewing that summer while Russ and Larry and George Harris and I were peacefully drinking.
I shall never forget one weekend that Larry and I spent at Monza drinking Asti-Spumenti (sic) beneath the trees.    TO BE CONTINUED...


Monday, August 20, 2018

LETTERS FROM THE FRONT, Part 3: 1917 France

In Memoriam:
Emmett Hamblen Shaw, 1896-1979

It was not until long after Emmett’s death, when we were clearing out my father’s library that we found Emmett’s letters and essays and appreciated better his talent for storytelling. Excerpts from my favorite of his essays, Drinking Companions I Have Known, tell of his WWI experience.

In 1917 I went to France to drive an ambulance. After several months of pretty fair drinking in Paris and at Bur-le-Duc and most of the little villages around the Verdun sector, I met Harry Nelson. He was a husky mechanic from West Virginia. He had never been to college but he knew more about the fine art of good drinking than most college men I know.
Champagne was fairly cheap and plentiful in the little hamlets of Northern France in 1917. That was before the hordes of American soldiers arrived. Every little estaminet and farm house had a well-stocked cellar. Moët and Chandon sold for 4 ½ Francs a quart, less than a dollar. Harry and I drank champagne in abris and on bridges and in grave yards and on manure piles all the way from Ancemont to Cabaret Rouge.
Except for an occasional attack on a limited front, Verdun was a fairly quiet sector that summer. At least so it was between Bellevue and Les Éparges where we had our posts. By tacit agreement both the Germans and French seemed to be using the sector as a place in which to rest their tired divisions. There was plenty of activity in the air, however, where the Boche had almost complete control.
They used to bomb our cantonment and machine gun the roads on moonlight nights. One hot night a group of us were sitting in the front room of a little stone farm house drinking champagne and enjoying a quiet game of poker. We had blankets over the door and windows to hide the lights from enemy bombers. Another group of boys were sitting outside on the door step. Suddenly a huge bomb from a great height dropped and exploded right in our front yard. Everyone at the poker table jumped up and made for the door to get out of the house. At the same time all the boys who had been sitting outside on the door step tried to get in. The two groups met in the doorway fighting frantically for a moment or two before we discovered that no one was hurt. When the excitement was over and we resumed our game, no one had any chips or champagne except Harry Nelson. He had shoved all his chips in his pocket and grabbed two bottles of champagne just after the bomb hit!
That fall most of our gang went to Paris. Our six months enlistment with the French Army was up and we decided to look around. Some of the boys went into aviation and some joined the tank corps. Several others enrolled in the French artillery school at Fontainebleau. Harry and I were in no particular hurry as the battle of Paris was very fascinating about that time. We made our headquarters at Henri’s Bar and the Hotel Edward Sept. For several weeks we lived on raw eggs and cognac and saw the sights.
It was over a bottle of champagne at Henri’s one afternoon that Harry confessed that the main reason why he had come to France was because he had read in some newspaper that there were two million more women than men in France. Are armies recruited and wars waged on such trivialities?
Almost every night we had a glorious adventure of some kind. Harry had a particular technique with Parisiennes. He always invited them to tea at the Edward Sept first. After a cup or two of hot tea he would order hot rum. It never failed. After tea and rum, the party was on and the sky was the limit.
Later on, the M.P.’s began to invade Paris and proceeded to make life miserable for us bon vivants. One day Harry suddenly announced that he had enlisted in the Balloon Corps. A day or so later I signed up with the American Red Cross Ambulance Corps and departed for Italy.
                                                       To be continued…

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Letters from the Front, Part 2: 1917 France

2nd installment in this WWI series

In Memoriam: Emmett Hamblen Shaw (1896-1979)

10 P.M. Sat. April 21st, [1917] On Board SS. Rochambeau

Left pier 57 North River at 3:30 P.M. Weather Foggy. Could not get good view of New York sky-line on trip down harbor- statue of liberty barely visible. Dropped pilot at Sandy Hook at 5. Fog settled down thicker and all signs of land disappeared. As soon as darkness came all portholes barricaded and doors shut. Not a sign of any light on deck—one light high up in cross-trees, however, --(which seems rather strange as everything else is dark). Two sea-men continually on watch on forward deck- where small brass cannon is mounted.
Sent a telegram to Uncle Lawrence just before getting on board but pulled a bone in forgetting that tomorrow is Sunday. He will not get it till Monday as it was a night letter addressed to the Paulsen Bldg.
Boat began to rise and fall slightly about 6 o’clock with more and more motion as time went on. Dinner at 7:30—our 1st meal. There are on board about 60 young boys mostly from Harvard Dartmouth and Cornell; a sprinkling of Frenchmen mostly middle aged— (one or two having their wives and families); a few French girls and one or two red-cross nurses, --also some medical men, and one French soldier in the regulation Police uniform with a brilliant ‘croix de guerre” on his breast. (It seems he is a petty officer on 6 months furlough and now headed for the trenches again.) The crew is entirely French—and can understand very little English. As our boys are by far the biggest part of the passenger list—and only about 5 can talk much French we ought to have some fun.
Curiously enough I ran across 2 Spokane boys before we were out of New York Harbor-- Emmett Durkin whom I used to know in Spokane and Lester Whitten whom I never before knew. Seems rather queer for a small town like Spokane to have 3 representatives in a motley crowd like this.
The 1st meal was fair—only fair—served in that peculiar French way—one course at a time. The bread is ‘war bread’ all one kind—hard and brown there is hardly any butter. There are two kinds of wine (vin rouge and vin blanc—and both are, according to my notion absolutely putrid). Out in the smoking room, however, they serve some light beer that is better than any I ever tasted—very mild and sweet. Roast lamb, lima beans, apricot pie, cheese + coffee made up the rest of the meal—all one at a time with about 10 minutes between each course it makes it a long drawn out and rather punk.
10:30 P.M. The old ship is rolling for fair now--some have already turned in. I can hear a big noise up in the smoking room I guess I'll see what's up. I can see where we have a slow time for the next 9 days--it takes 9 days from New York to Bordeaux on this boat. be continued