Articles written by Alan Muskett


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  • Please vote for me

    Alan Muskett MD|May 30, 2024

    Greetings from the Chesapeake Bay. We have been working our way up through Virginia, now Maryland, through the lands of earliest English exploration, American Revolution, Civil War and other scrimmages/wars/skullduggery that created this country. Last week we visited the very battlefield at Yorktown, where English General Cornwallis blew a fourth quarter lead and surrendered to George Washington. All this history has filled me with patriotic fervor, a desire to give back to honor all the...

  • Please don't ground me

    Alan Muskett MD|May 16, 2024

    When we started this boat trip around the Eastern United States, we kept hearing about Bob423. It seemed odd that a group of retired boomers, who seem to have a bottomless appetite for classic rock (one more rendition of "Margaritaville" in a seaside restaurant and my cranium will fragment like a grenade) would be so devoted to a rapper. Turns out that Bob423 is not a rapper, but a 70-ish retired engineer who looks like your high school civics teacher. His retirement passion has been to cruise t...

  • What happens when my ship comes in

    Alan Muskett MD|May 2, 2024

    Back when Ulysses Grant was President, my fiancé and I attended a - required by the church - weekend seminar called "Engagement Encounter." The idea was to improve the chances of marital success by having the couples engage in serious discussions about core issues - money, communication, in-laws, respect and so forth. We were posed questions that we answered in notebooks, then shared the answers with each other. Messages such as "please don't get fat," and "if you turn into a drunk my divorce...

  • Rock me like a hurricane

    Alan Muskett MD|Apr 18, 2024

    Greetings from Beaufort (Be-you-fert) South Carolina, where we are precariously tied to the very outside dock of a marina, which is perfectly aligned to allow us to fully experience the 1984 hit by the Scorpions entitled "Rock Me Like a Hurricane." It is not technically a hurricane, but when the toaster oven and the coffee maker become deadly projectiles, it seems that way. We have been cruising up the coast, from Key West now to Beaufort, soaking up the history and geography as well as soaking...

  • Riding the storm out

    Alan Muskett MD|Apr 4, 2024

    Elton John knew it was time to go into rehab when he called the front desk of his Atlanta hotel and asked that the wind be turned down. I can empathize with him, however addled he was. Our boat, currently in Titusville, Florida, is raucously rolling in a 25-knot breeze. Titusville is across the river from Cape Canaveral and the Space Center, where, this afternoon, we clutched our expensive ticket for three hours, in the viewing bleachers, awaiting the launch of a big rocket. With less than four...

  • Gratefulness for the bathroom

    Alan Muskett MD|Mar 21, 2024

    In our younger years we can be awakened by a frightened child, or the on-call phone dagger from the ER or ICU. As we "mature" (get old, fall apart, what-happened-to-me), that renting of our dream cloud is more likely an insistent ringtone from the bladder. So there you are, cozy, maybe the room and the floor aren't so cozy. After a period of deliberation, sometimes lengthy, an impulsive toddle to the bathroom ensues. Now imagine this occurring on a boat. The little boat bathroom can't be used...

  • Humble pie in paradise

    Alan Muskett|Mar 7, 2024

    Since our last Pathfinder report, we have traveled the 240 miles from Fort Pierce, Florida to Key West. Along the way, I would estimate we have heard some version of Jimmy Buffet 500 times. Apparently, tourists expect a mind-numbing repetition of "tropical" music, none written in the last 40 years. Don't worry, be happy. I have substituted "cheeseburger" in the Buffet song for "humble pie," as I have made about every goober mistake you can make on a boat. I thought I was quite the docking artist...

  • A loopy idea

    Alan Muskett|Feb 22, 2024

    It is helpful, when your life or job is in grind mode, to have a diverting obsession. At 3 a.m., in a fluorescently lit surgeon's lounge, waiting my turn in the OR to reconstruct a face that, earlier in the evening, had lapped up a dozen beers or so, then flew through the windshield of his Ram 2500, I would peruse innumerable websites related to way cool boats and yachts and exotic locations. The fact that many of these vessels cost ten times more than my net worth (counting the sale of a...

  • Swan Valley Community Council meeting does not erupt in violence

    Alan Muskett, of the Pathfinder|Jan 25, 2024

    As an intrepid member of the Fourth Estate, I ventured out into the frigid night, determined to shine light on the Swan branch of the Deep State. Parenthetically, the Fourth Estate refers to the press. I’d never actually known what the first three are, so I looked it up (as older people say rather than Googling). The monarchy, barony (people with titles), and the Commons are the first three, with the fourth apparently keeping an eye on the first three. There is now a Fifth Estate, that being social media and other online sewage systems. When a...

  • Yoga, mountain style

    Alan Muskett, of the Pathfinder|Jan 11, 2024

    For the last five years of my surgical career in Billings I endured two or three sessions a week of “hot yoga.” Seriously hot, 104 degrees with added humidity. I had been experiencing the common occupational hazards of surgery--neck, back, and shoulder pain resulting from twisting, bending, and generally contorting the skeleton into improbable positions to see into the nether regions of the human body. With regular, seemingly tortuous yoga sessions I had none of the aforementioned somatic complaints. A friend of mine suggested that I went bec...

  • A Christmas gift of life

    Alan Muskett, of the Pathfinder|Dec 21, 2023

    Mack was flown to us at the university hospital nearly dead. He had contracted a vicious virus that had attacked his heart, and despite every available medication, a ventilator, and a cardiac assist pump, his heart failure was so severe that his organs were shutting down. Mack was sent to us in the hope that he could be saved with a heart transplant. His wife had died a year earlier, around Christmas, and now his daughter Lisa, 15, faced the loss of her remaining parent, again at Christmastime. She was alone with her desperately ill father, no...

  • High drama at the Frostbite Festival

    Alan Muskett, of the Pathfinder|Dec 14, 2023

    A holiday bazaar, whether church or community, is deeply nostalgic for me. Memories of the green-tiled basement of the Methodist Church in Missoula in the 1960s evoke taste memories of butterscotch bars, riots of color in quilted art and remarkable expressions of creativity from souls that otherwise appeared so conventional. When the opportunity to have a stall at the Upper Swan Valley Historical Society "Frostbite Bazaar" presented itself, I saw an opportunity to sell some of my books, and to...

  • Smashed liver for Sunday dinner

    Alan Muskett, of the Pathfinder|Nov 30, 2023

    After I finished high school, I underwent 16 years of additional training—college, medical school, surgical residency, surgical fellowship—before I started a real job. I was 34 years old and deep red broke. Finally, I thought, I am done with the educational waterboarding. Not so fast. The last 32 years have been a continuous, Sisyphean series of courses, seminars, meetings, recertifications, and general shakedowns to make sure I am “up to date.” All these, of course, involve substantial fees. If you do not pay these fees you will be listed...

  • Street Cred in the Swan Valley

    Alan Muskett, of the Pathfinder|Nov 9, 2023

    It happened like this: The guy is going 120 mph in a stolen car, running from the cops. Not surprisingly, being fabulously drunk, he misses a 90 degree turn, launching him and his vehicle (separately) into a low earth orbit, our protagonist being unrestrained. After a flight of around 100 feet, he was then restrained when he landed on a metal fence post, which entered his lower jaw and exited through the middle of his back. First responders cut the fence post off at the ground and found to their surprise that he was alive. Remarkably, they got...

  • Do I Drink Too Much?

    Alan Muskett, of the Pathfinder|Nov 2, 2023

    Of course I don’t drink too much. That is purely a rhetorical title, because I am not a drinker. Being without sin, as the Bible says, I can cast stones at you, reader, as likely you do drink too much. Alcohol consumption has been much in the news lately, as recommendations as to what is a safe and appropriate are changing. Again. It seemed for quite a while that moderate consumption of alcohol, i.e. the red wine is good for your heart narrative, was the conventional wisdom. Now, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National I...

  • Night moves in the Swan Mountains

    Alan Muskett, of the Pathfinder|Oct 5, 2023

    If you’ve lived in this area for an appreciable period of time, you’ve likely been to Holland Falls. It is neither an easy or an onerous hike, with spectacular views, great photo ops, and the excitement and sound track of the falls. When the call came to the Condon Quick Response Unit (QRU), our phones screeching the alert, the message related a young person with a medical issue tucked up under Holland Falls. Not too bad, I thought, a nice evening, not unduly hot. As I drove to the trailhead, I began to realize that it was getting dark. I met T...

  • The Bear is still Hungry

    Alan Muskett, of the Pathfinder|Sep 7, 2023

    It was a cold, rainy June back in the 70s when I and other members of the Rustics log home company assembled the logs for what would become the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Condon. Many fond memories since—I brought my now wife Pam there in 1982 to show the city girl Montana, only to have my Rustics coworker Tuffy Anderson say “I like her better than the last one you dragged in here.” The Hungry Bear has endured the many decades with different owners, a significant expansion, and evolving gastronomic emphases. Current owners Rick Medeiros and Deb...

  • What is the deal with fentanyl?

    Alan Muskett, of the Pathfinder|Aug 31, 2023

    I was broke. Again. During my last year of medical school interest rates were 13%, so yet another loan was out of the question. I took a job at Herfy’s Hamburgers (home of the Hefty Burger) in Seattle. I wore a paper cow on my head. That wasn’t quite enough, at $2.75 an hour, so I participated in medical experiments, getting paid to have bone marrow biopsies (not worth it), upper endoscopies with no anesthesia (worse), and a weekend taking cold medicine. One experiment sounded intriguing—all I had to do was wear some monitors and suck on a lol...

  • Column: The sociological and theological manifestations of burgers, brats, and firewood

    Alan Muskett, for the Pathfinder|Aug 3, 2023

    “How much are the burgers?” the rather churlish man demanded. “There’s no charge” replied Bruce Rippy, pastor of the Condon Community Church (CCC), who was serving as head waiter and order taker at the food booth during the Condon Fourth of July celebration. “Well I suppose you watch how much I put in the donations bucket so the church can make a big haul.” “No,” Bruce Rippy replied. “All the money this year goes to the senior meals program, and if need be, you can take some money out of the bucket.” The incredulous man stuffed a wadded bill...

  • Helicopter rescues hiker

    Alan Muskett, for the Pathfinder|Jul 13, 2023

    Alan Muskett Editor’s note: Alan Muskett worked as a doctor in Billings for more than 20 years. While there, he wrote a column on the medical industry. Muskett now works as the Swan Valley Emergency Services Medical Director. The patient mentioned in this story was okay. The Bell 429 jet helicopter descended on the grass surface of the Condon International Airport (CIA) like a great green/blue/titanium raptor, one that had plucked an injured hiker from treacherous terrain of the high Mission Mountains. Awaiting the arrival of the patient was t...