Doc What's Up?, Humor Writing, Inventions


As I’ve mentioned before, I have quite a few inventions sprinkled in the pages of Doc What’s Up?. The Snore-No-More is one of these, responsible for saving marriages everywhere.

Does sleeping in the doghouse get you down? Is your wife’s divorce lawyer claiming mental cruelty because you have snored incessantly for years when she does not snore at all?

Well, at last snorers are coming out! Out of the bedroom, out of the doghouse—into Dr. Zuckerman’s office to be cured!!


“At first, I was skeptical,” says Joe Morphus of Snoozeville. “No doctor ever gave me any advice except ‘give your wife a set of golden ear plugs.’ I hadn’t spent the night in my wife’s or my girlfriend’s bed in years. I’d just show up for sex and then get kicked out.”

“Now I sleep when and where I want to, fearlessly. Sure, I’ve had a few relapses, but when that happens, it’s back to Dr. Zuckerman for a night of treatment and I’m snore-free for another 6-12 months.”

How Dr. Zuckerman’s Snore-No-More Works…

Following an intake interview, those who clearly are snoring sufferers are given an appointment to spend a night at the Snore-No-More (TM) Lab. There you are fitted with special inner ear amplifiers. A microphone is used to capture your snores so that they can either—be played back to you instantaneously amplified or—trigger the transmission of your personally most-feared sounds to the inner ear amplifiers, sounds like a grizzly bear attack, a car crash, or your tax attorney’s voice…

Built into the cost of a night at the Snore-No-More Lab is a CD recording of your snoring, taken during your night in our lab—so that you can hear, for yourself, just how bad you’ve snored and how effective the Snore-No- More treatment is.

The History of Snoring

I am a fellow snoring sufferer who has had numerous humiliating experiences like: having a string tied around my toe to wake me when I snore, being screamed at and poked into rude consciousness, exiled to the living room couch and threatened with involuntary surgery.

Sound familiar? I had to find some way to cure myself, but I also wanted to exonerate snoring as a loathsome, useless activity. I searched back into ancient times, all the way back to the cave and there, I pieced together the preservation function that snorers must have played in the survival of our species.

Man’s nature is to sleep at night—a time when most large predators hunt their prey. Thus, not only was man vulnerable while he slept, but he slept at the precise time that he was being hunted. No doubt, once fire was mastered, some poor insomniac (they too, served to save society) was forced to tend the nocturnal fire at the cave’s mouth. But what did man do before fire?

The perfect solution had to have been that the loudest, most obnoxious snorers slept at the cave’s entrance. No beast would doubt that his human prey was awake and in an ornery mood. Meanwhile, everyone else slept in blissful safety.

Therefore, the snorer played a critical role by allowing society to evolve beyond the need for his service.

But—is the snorer revered for his past efforts? How quickly we forget what others have done for us!

The cost of one night of guaranteed therapy in the Snore-No-More lab is a lot cheaper than a second bedroom or a divorce!

Doc What's Up?, Personal Essays

Foreign Aid

A few of my thoughts on Foreign Aid, originally published in Doc, What’s Up? with the tag line: 

Don’t despair, our foreign aid policy is working in more ways than one. 

It is unheard of for a poppy or a cocoa farmer to cheat his local drug lord, delivering a poor product or adding a little more weight to it. At least we never hear of it in the American press. Assuredly, the system works. The farmer performs ethically and, for his efforts, he is well paid. After all, if this wasn’t the case, he could grow coffee or sugar cane or some other legal food crop.

The farmer’s illegal crop is eventually sold to end-users in America. Thus Americans ultimately pay him for his industriousness. Isn’t this a form of foreign aid?

In the past, foreign aid was typically described as large U.S. government grants to foreign military dictators, especially those in Africa and South America—payment for loyalty to the U.S., as opposed to the USSR and communism. The elite in these countries were the ones who took the aid and got rich. Very little of this aid was used to improve the lives of the countries impoverished.

This is not the case with illegal drug money that does trickle down to the poor farmer, fostering industriousness and entrepreneurialism. Fortunately drug enforcement efforts are futile and thus no threat to foreign aid via the illegal drug trade.

Isn’t this an upgrading of our foreign aid policy?

Doc What's Up?, Humor Writing, Personal Essays

The Golden Land

When the Vikings returned home from having discovered Iceland, they began seeking out volunteers to colonize the island. It soon became obvious that they had committed a marketing blunder. Even in a northern climate like Sweden, few people want- ed to immigrate to a place called Iceland.

They must have learned their lesson because they applied it on the next frozen wasteland they encountered. They named it, Greenland, and recruiting colonizers went much smoother.

Doctors and producers of consumer products for sen- iors such as DependsTM, walkers, canes, catheters, enema products, arthritis pills, joint replacements, wheel chairs, penile implants, hearing aids, etc., must have taken the Vikings’ lesson to heart. Instead of calling old age, The Tin Years, they named them The Golden Years, so people would want to go there.

Doc What's Up?, Humor Writing

Longer Zuckerisms

I try to post at least one of my “zuckerisms” on my twitter every day, but 140 characters can sometimes be a bit limiting. Here are a few longer “zuckerisms” that don’t quite fit!

1. My father, who is 89 and diabetic, recently had risky surgery to remove his only leg. He’d lost his first leg for the same reason, gangrene from the lack of circulation—a typical problem among diabetics.

In order to comfort him before surgery, I told him that no matter how the operation went, he would not be leaving the hospital feet first.

2. When patients ask the perfectly legitimate question, “What are the side effects of this drug?” I’m sometimes uncontrollably tempted to play with their heads.

If I’m talking to a bald patient, I’ll tell him it’ll turn his hair green. If it’s to an elderly woman, I’ll tell her it will make her appear 30 years younger. And if my patient is a young man without a wife, I’ll tell him that it could make him irresistible to women.

3. A prophet must be permitted to sing his song simply because it gives him joy to do so— irrespective of whether people view his words as prophetic.

His song is G-d’s song, even if only a few find its melodies entrancing.

4. When I was six years old, and in the midst of one of my bawling tirades my mother said to me calmly, with no malice, “If you don’t like it here, you can leave. I’ll give you $10 to help you on your way.”

Nobody ever accused my mother of being overbearing!

5. The wealth produced by the new economy has strained society’s ability to produce extra-ordinary, unique, and expensive items for the excessively wealthy to spend their fortunes on.

I’ve heard that the going rate in Australia for the thrill of being attacked by a great white shark and living to tell the story is—$100,000.
For growing a clone for spare parts—$100,000,000. For a week’s excursion to the moon $1,000,000,000.

Don’t forget to check out my new Etsy shop where you can find truly unique scalloped ties!

Doc What's Up?, Humor Writing, Inventions

Another Invention

As I mentioned in this post, my books are a blend of zuckerisms, short stories, personal anecdotes and inventions. Today I wanted to share another of those inventions with you. Introducing, The Florida Special:

The Florida Special (TM)

To most seniors, loss of the right to drive a car is equivalent to losing a leg. The automobile defines Independence in our society and in Florida wheels are even more critical to mobility because of distance. So, we invented the Florida SpecialTM to safely prolong the driving life of seniors by 5 to 10 years! By wedding available life-science technologies to the automobile, the resulting Florida Special represents a dramatic change in approach.


Rather than drivers licensing boards, social workers and doctors all trying to find out reasons to limit driving by the elderly, the Florida Special is making positive strides to keep them on the road! The Florida Special will prove to be the hottest, must-have product for senior drivers since bifocals! In addition, their spouses and children will breathe a sigh of relief, for not only will it vastly prolong independent living for aging Americans, but it will also prevent the fatal depression that happens to nearly every elderly person when they lose their drivers license.

List of Features…

  1. Adjustable Prism Windshield—bends & magnifies light for shorties and the poor sighted
  2. Crash Recorder (black box)—a voice & instrument recorder for research on elderly drivers and their insurance claims
  3. 911 box with nitroglycerin pills included
  4. Wrap around air bumper
  5. One-inch thick steel chassis
  6. Arrhythmia Recorder and Defibrillator
  7. “Alter Kakher!” (old timer!) Warning on the license plate—like the “Babies On Board” concept
  8. The Backseat Driver Overhead Amplifier (nagging included):
    • Magnifies street sounds, horns, sirens, etc.
    • Reminds the driver every fifteen minutes where

      he is suppose to go and why.

  9. Critical Information Plate on the car’s fender to include:
    • Name and address
    • Hospital and doctor’s name
    • Medical conditions
    • Medications
    • Code status (DNR/DNI)
    • Autopsy or not, living will, donor status
    • HMO and car insurance companies
    • Lawyers name; last will file date
  10. Additional accessories available for customization
Doc What's Up?, Personal Essays

Hellooo! The Universal Recognition Signal

Early in the 1970’s, I had the good fortune of being appointed head of Internal Medicine for the Truk Islands of Micronesia, located in the Western Pacific (upon its independence in the 1990s, Truk is now referred to as Chuuk). This appointment also led me to be named Chief of Diving Medicine for the United Nations Trust Territories of the Pacific. Little did I know how much I would learn from the native people and how much it would influence me through the rest of my own medical practice and life in general.

While based in Truk, I was intrigued with how well my fellow Trukese health workers coordinated their jobs without so much as speaking a word. Eventually, I became aware of their non-verbal form of communication. It is a simple-but-quick raising of the eyebrows—one or two times. Apparently, this stands for a great many things, depending on the situation. Basically, it means: “I see you, I recognize you, I acknowledge you.”

Try it out yourself, but do not use it indiscriminately. You don’t need to be looking directly into another’s eye to get results as this signal can get the attention of another even through their peripheral vision. Many people won’t look you directly in the eye but they will eye you by using their peripheral vision. The signal also works when your reflection is being observed.

I have since discovered that other primal groups in Africa and Papua New Guinea and even many Native American Tribes use these same eye movements to communicate the same ideas. I now use this subtle form of communication when I am in all sorts of societies, including our own garden variety American, mostly with good results!

Because of the universality of this signal and its potent effect on humans, I call it the “Universal Recognition Signal (URS)TM.”

Doc What's Up?, Humor Writing, Personal Essays

Patients, Part 2

Last week I posted a couple of experiences with some of my first patients. I wanted to include one more for all of you.

Here’s another patient I encountered in my early days at Drexel Nursing Home:


In every crowd, there’s at least one kvetch—a professional whiner. I was lucky that my nurse was skilled in saving the intern-of-the-month from his first experience with the Drexel Kvetch, Molly Schwartz.

Molly Schwartz paid monthly visits to the Drexel clinic for the sole purpose of assaulting the newest intern with her litany of real and imagined ills. Apparently, she was able to relieve her symptoms by totally overwhelming the naïve intern, leaving him deliberating why he’d ever picked medicine as a career.

My nurse let me in on the skinny that her complaints never changed. So, for fun, I decided not to be another passive victim.

When Molly entered my office, I stood up slowly with obvious effort. I made sure that a brief wince shot across my face before greeting her.

“Hello, Mrs. Schwartz. Have a seat.”

After she sat down, I went to sit down myself, but as I did, I grimaced and groaned, “Oyh vay!” I panted.

Immediately, she looked concerned. “What’s wrong, Doctor?”
The hook was set.

“Oh, I have sciatica. But that’s not the worst of it. I also have crippling rheumatoid arthritis in my hands…”

She made a sympathetic snivel.

“But that’s not the worst! I also have a heart condition—a bum valve—and I need surgery.”

She gasped a sound that resembled a yelp and leaned back from me.

“But that’s not the worst… I have a malignant tumor in my brain… but…well that’s enough of me, you’re not here to listen to my problems, what’s wrong with you, Mrs. Schwartz?”

Molly’s mouth had been open for the past two minutes but no words had been able to exit. Then, she pulled herself together and stated firmly but with sympathy,

“Doctor, you have too many problems to bother with me today—I’ll come back another day.”

She never did return on my rotation. I guess she’d already gotten more than she’d bargained for. Or, maybe I cured her forever.

Doc What's Up?, Humor Writing, Personal Essays


As many of you know, in addition to writing I also spend my days as a doctor. Here are a couple memorable experiences I’ve had with patients:


One of my very first patients was a robust, elderly gentleman who complained that his rectum itched. Dutifully, I examined him but I couldn’t find the source of his itching.

“Try Preparation H,” I advised.

The next time he returned, he complained, “It doesn’t work.”

So I examined him again. Still, I found nothing.

I tried another prescription, “Soak in the bath and try Vaseline.”

Again he returned with his itch. But this time, he brought a flashlight to help diagnose his problem. It was then that it dawned on me that his real interest was in supervising my exams—not curing his itch.

Always willing to go along, I used his flashlight for yet another look. The unnecessary illumination, however, didn’t change a thing. Catching on to his modus operands, I decided to play it his way.

“I can cure you,” I said definitively.

“He can cure me,” he mumbled, mocking me to some invisible companion next to him. I figured his accent to be Russian or Polish Jew—immigrated around 1910. He eyed me and picked up the gauntlet.

“Okay, Mr. Doctor, so tell me—how you goin’t to cure me?”

“We’ll cut out your anus.”

He scratched his head and looked me in the eye, not sure if I was kidding.

“So, without my anus, would I still be able to go the bathroom from my tocus?” (Yiddish for butt)

“Absolutely not! After we remove your anus,” I said, “you’ll shit from here!” and I poked him in the left side of his belly.

The old face turned white from shock as he backed away from me until he met the wall. After ten seconds, he regained his composure.

“Listen here, you pisher (whippersnapper), you v’ill not be cutting out my anus or any’ting else on me!”

“You’re the boss, alter kakher (old fart),” I smiled back at him.

That was the last I ever saw of Flashlight Man.

One day, my nurse came to me with a question. The nursing home sponsored all sorts of trips into the community. This month’s trip was to Arlington Race Track. One of our residents, Max Silverman, was a horse-racing aficionado who desperately wanted to go but suffered from angina. My nurse was nervous.

“Should we let Mr. Silverman go and risk exacerbating his heart condition? You make this call.” She said, exacerbating her own reluctance to get involved.

“Well, send him down here and let’s see.”

Mr. Silverman came into my office with his head hung down, saying nothing. Instead he sat down “before me” as if I was G-d, Himself. A quiver ran up my spine at the power he’d just imbued in me. I thought about his current life—What life!? I asked myself. Was this the way to live the end of your life? All he wanted was a little entertainment. He wasn’t asking for anymore.

I sat up straight and looked him over. Wouldn’t it be good for his health just to have a little fun? No contest there. Well, if I had the power to make him happy, I was damned well going to do it. Still, I needed to medically justify my actions, so I posed this situation to him.

“What if you’ve got 50 bucks on the nose of a 30-to-1 long shot and in the stretch your horse has a half-length lead—?” Max suddenly came to life, “Then…two other horses begin closing in on him as he’s coming down to the wire. Now, with two strides to go—all three ponies are nose-to-nose and you’re jumping out of your seat scream- ing, ‘Run, you SOB!’”

His head nodded like a wild man, his face inflamed with the imaginary race.

“And then…you keel over—dead.” I paused and then asked, “Would that be O.K. with you?”

Still overwhelmed with the fantasy, he howled, “You betcha!” and then keeled over, clutching his chest, pretending to die. Rising from his fake death at my laughter, Silverman said, “Now, chochum (esteemed gentleman), that’s the way to go…”

That cinched my “medical” decision.

Read more patient stories in Doc, What’s Up?

Doc What's Up?, Personal Essays

A Winner Every Time

Excerpt from Doc, What’s Up?

Even crooks, cons and hustlers can be elegant in their arts. It only seems to require a bit of chutzpah and sense of humor…

It was the Sixty’s and I was twenty years-old, working at Monticello Raceway in the Catskills or what we called the Jewish Alps. Here each summer, tens of thousands of escapees sought relief from the heat of New York’s Jewish ghettos. The Monticello Racetrack, which featured standard bred trotters and pacers on its half-mile oval, was a major attraction. Still, the amount paid for a winning race was minuscule, as were the wages for us part-timers.

A ticket seller’s work lasted only during racing hours, approximately four hours a night, six nights a week. Thus, it was no surprise that with fast money abounding, low purses and slave wages, off-color dealings were the norm amongst workers at the track.

There was little doubt that races were fixed. At least the drivers and trainers knew something that the betting public didn’t. The “know” was crucial to winning a race since the ones who were in the “know” seemed to win most of the time.

Those of us selling and cashing tickets rarely were apprised of the fixes but we had a more reliable way of cashing in. I called it “the hesitancy ploy”. It went like this:

The sucker bought two tickets at two bucks apiece, paying with a five dollar bill. The ticket seller would punch out the two tickets and then hesitate—as if the transaction was complete. Twenty to thirty percent of the time the harried horseplayer would run off to catch the next race, oblivious of the dollar owed him. If he didn’t run off, the seller would eventually get around to returning his change.

Cashiers did the same thing. When someone came to cash in his winning ticket for, say—$10.70—the cashier would present the ten and then stop, as if ending the transaction. Most of the time, the winner ran off to study the next race or calculate his victory and the cashier pocketed the seventy cents.

Another similar scam was an elegant yet simple ploy used by a few shady ticket sellers. If there were eight horses in a race, the seller would rotate his advice to each ticket buyer, advising the first buyer to hit on #1, the second buyer to hit on #2, and so forth. At the end of the evening, this would usually earn the ticket seller thirty to forty dollars in tips from the delighted patrons—winners because of his advice. This strategy was inevitably lucrative because someone had to be a winner. The winners thought the ticket seller was a genius and often became repeat customers for at least one more time.

About ten years ago, I was drinking the night away at the Harvard Club with a few of my New York venture capitalist buddies. I told them the story about running this con with my fellow ticket sellers during my early career at the horse track. It met with delighted howls and reminded one guy of a similar con used by his own New York broker.

His broker would go to seven or eight bars in an evening and buy drinks for certain patrons, pretending to get drunk himself. Then he’d advise those who’d listen to buy “such and such” stock. The trick was that at each bar, he advised a different selection of stocks. Once again, at least one of the stocks inevitably made money so he invariably got business from those he’d “let in on the skinny.” They thought he was a marvel and talked up his clairvoyance after their success, gaining further investment clients for him.

As I reflect on the art of con, I realize it is a fitting description of what financial advisors do all the time. When there are five hundred analysts with five hundred different opinions—someone has to be right. That analyst is hailed as a genius—and gets richer, at least for a while.

Doc What's Up?, Personal Essays

Down With Sad

Considering the weather, the cold, and this seemingly never-ending winter, I thought this was an appropriate essay to share with you all today. This was originally published in Doc, What’s Up?

It’s early November and I was tossing and turning in my bed in an attempt to get much needed sleep. I couldn’t let go of my thoughts about SAD or what the medical field calls, Seasonal Affective Disorder. After all, this time of the year was the beginning of the downslide for us SAD suffers now that the shortest day of the year was rapidly upon us.

I tried to come up with a new twist on my troublesome problem because living in the cold, dark Minnesota winter was a recurring fact of life for me and my patients. As I lay there dreaming one winter night, a placid image of hibernating bears, safely nestled deep in their snow-covered cave, came to me.

Perhaps SAD was a remnant of the hibernation instinct, which, in some individuals, is so strong that it causes severe depression. Actually, if you follow this line of thought, the hibernation instinct itself would not cause depression, but our cultural taboo against laziness would. Imagine—with 50 thousand years or more of conditioning, your body says: “NOW IT’S TIME TO GO TO BED…” What would you tell your family? How would you explain it to your boss? Who would pay the bills while you’re getting your forty thousand winks?

Anthropologically, it makes obvious sense. We didn’t always work eight to ten hours a day nor did we have the resources to do so. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that free men and women worked more than four hours each day.

Not so long ago, most people this far north of the Equator lived in small villages or clans. Barter and collective cooperation was the necessary way of life—for survival’s sake. We worked hard, long hours tilling the soil, through the planting season and finally to harvest. All that hard work thinned our protective body fat but we gathered it back during the winter. Survival demanded that we paid close attention to Nature, so our intuition was more highly developed than today. Our survival was completely dependent on our abilities to adapt to Nature’s changes. The consequences otherwise were gruesome.

Back then there weren’t outdoor floodlights as the days began to shorten. In fact, it was less than a hundred years ago that electricity lit up our households and factories so that we could continue into the night with our work or shenanigans. We came indoors and played or talked by the fire or an oil lamp. Or we simply retired to our huts, houses or hovels and went to sleep right after sundown. Like any member of nature, we were dying as the seasons do, lying fallow. It’s a natural cycle, why wouldn’t we be a part of it? All through the late autumn and winter, while lying fallow, we restored our bodies, loved our families, told our stories, built our relationships and most of all, we slept!

Everyone went to bed without guilt. We worried about next season’s crops, not our next promotion or the pile of bills. By the coming of spring, we, like the plants and other animals, had prepared ourselves to be reborn.

Instincts are mighty. Some are impossible to ignore. If indeed, Nature is telling us that it is time to rest, then resistance against Nature’s rhythms and systems inside of our bodies murders our most basic and intuitive selves. It has nothing to do with will power or the mind. Compound our resistance to follow our nature with a cultural environment that makes it a felony to follow our natural animal instincts and—who wouldn’t be depressed?

SAD sufferers who are wealthy go to the equator for the winter. Their doctors even tell them to do it. But what about the middle class and poor working stiffs?

I was still tossing and turning in my November attempt at sleep as my mind shifted to the Russian playwright, Maxim Gorky and his play, The Lower Depths. It portrays the lives of poor Russian working class people in the basement of an apartment building in Russia. They were the lost souls, the mentally ill, and the destitute creatures of G-d, who, in the play, comes to bring them hope. The setting is late winter and the tenants live communally in the chill of the basement. Yet, even with the cold, no one complains of having SAD. Obviously, they have a lot to be depressed about, but instead, they hibernated—together.

There was the answer! Why couldn’t SAD sufferers get a 90-day work release prescription from their psychiatrists, be eligible for Workman’s Comp and sign up for the Hibernation Renewal Center? We could rent out basements in Minneapolis that are made up of large open spaces and paint the walls with snuggling bears contently hibernating. The floor could be one big mattress. It could be lit with dim lights and soothing new age music, with a soft snoring rhythm, could be piped in.

We could stop fighting SAD and surrender to it instead. Go with the natural hormonal flow and hibernate the winter away! We’d have to get labeled from DMS IV, but it would be easier than fighting Nature and a whole lot more fun!

Where do I sign up?