And how to build your resilience to the stressors of this crazy year.

Even before Covid-19, a lot of us were pooped — wrung out, over capacity. And with Covid, a lot of us are even more tired. But let’s not just talk about why, but how to build your resilience to the stressors of this crazy year that’s not over yet.

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Photo: Pixabay

For the past 27 years, my life has been wall to wall content creation: writing This is True and some combination of the Honorary Unsubscribe, Randy’s Random, the True Stella Awards, the Uncommon Sense podcast, and other projects.

But I’m finding myself a lot more tired lately. …

Three amazing stories of medical professionals going outside protocol to be fully human in the face of death.

If there’s any profession the public deals with on a regular basis that’s bound by rules and protocols it’s medicine. In life or death situations, scrutiny is high, and professionals — particularly in the United States — know that everything they do might be reviewed by lawyers looking to justify a lawsuit. But some do the human thing anyway, guided by their Uncommon Sense.

#1: Australia

There was a story my newsletter about something rather unusual that paramedics in Australia did that wasn’t about dumb people doing stupid things. It’s called Final Wish:

Paramedics in Hervey Bay, Qld., Australia were taking a terminally ill woman to a hospital when she sighed, she wished she could “just be at the beach,” rather than go to the palliative care unit. “Above and beyond, the crew took a small diversion to the awesome beach at Hervey Bay to give the patient this opportunity,” says ambulance officer-in-charge Helen Donaldson. …

It’s how he helped save 2.4 million babies

I had heard about James Harrison several times over the years, but I didn’t know the whole story of “The Man with the Golden Arm”. It’s a bit of a medical mystery and, as I researched all of this to understand what the heck it was that he did, I discovered he started displaying Uncommon Sense even as a child.

But first, some back story.

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James Harrison, OAM (Photo: Australian Red Cross Blood Bank)

Do you know your blood type?

There are four basic blood types, as discovered by Austrian physician, biologist, and immunologist Karl Landsteiner in 1900. The following is somewhat simplified, but you’ll get the idea.

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The types in the ABO classification system, showing how the antigens and antibodies figure in. (Source: Wikipedia)

Type A blood has type A antigens surrounding its red blood cells. Antigens stimulate production of, or are recognized by, antibodies. So if you give someone with Type A blood a transfusion from a donor who is Type B, which has type B antigens, or vice versa, the two kinds of blood will essentially attack each other with antibodies carried in the plasma: Type B has anti-A antibodies, and Type A has anti-B antibodies. As you might guess, mixing the two is very bad: it causes a significant adverse reaction and, considering the person apparently needed blood in the first place, they’re probably quite injured or ill, so the reaction could kill them. …

Now only at

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Thanks much for reading This is True®, the Internet’s oldest entertainment feature — weekly since 1994.

In addition to True, I also publish a number of different web sites, such as Randy’s Random memes, the Honorary Unsubscribe, the True Stella Awards, the Uncommon Sense podcast, and more.

The problem? It’s too much: something has to give. This action is part of that.

You can always find the most recent edition of True at this URL (, and of course you can subscribe to get the newsletter by email (basic subscriptions free since 1994!) …

Prescription drugs, that is.

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Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey is awarded the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service, a recognition of deeds “so outstanding that the officer or employee is deserving of greater public recognition than that which can be accorded by the head of the department or agency in which he is employed.” (Photo: U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

A Canadian, Frances “Frankie” Oldham seems to have been born with Uncommon Sense, and her education and judgment saved America from a horrific tragedy.

The Oldham family had settled on Vancouver Island in B.C., Canada, after Frankie’s father retired from the British Army. Family transportation was a horse and buggy until her father bought a car when she was 9, in 1923.

“My mother taught my older brother how to read and write,” she remembered, “and I just listened in and picked it up.” She was enrolled at Leinster Preparatory School, a small private school in Shawnigan Lake, B.C., which “was theoretically an all-boys school, and for several terms I was the only girl.” …

Rene Carpenter was ahead of her time, and highly accomplished in her own right.

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Rene & Scott Carpenter with their children at a presidential show and tell at the White House on 5 June 1962. (Photo: JFK Presidential Library)

Rene Carpenter — the wife of America’s fourth man into space, Scott Carpenter — was extremely supportive of her husband’s career, but wasn’t content with the subservient role NASA assigned her.

Born in Iowa in 1928, Rene’s mother — who had a job, which was fairly unusual in the 1920s — had divorced when Rene was 2, which was also unusual for the era. Her new husband adopted the 8-year-old Rene, which she pronounced “Reen” throughout her life, and the family moved to Boulder, Colorado.

After graduating from Boulder High School, she met Scott Carpenter, and they married in Boulder in 1948. Carpenter, about 3 years her senior, had grown up in Boulder, and was friends with a classmate at University Hill Elementary School: Anne … who later became my mother-in-law. …

Job titles don’t matter. What you DO does.

For more than 25 years, I’ve made my living writing about people. Individual, specific, real people. And the more I researched Reynold “Rey” Johnson, the more my mind was blown. He’s the most accomplished man I’ve ever studied.

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Rey Johnson in 1952, as he established IBM’s West Coast lab. (Photo: IBM archives)

Born in Minnesota to Swedish immigrants, Johnson went to a private Christian school, perhaps for his entire 12 years of basic schooling, and he seems to have liked it: he then went to the University of Minnesota for his bachelor’s degree in Educational Administration, and became a high school science and math teacher in Ironwood on the western tip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, on the border with Wisconsin. …

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Illustration via Pixabay.

How I cured a friend’s writer’s block.

There’s no such thing as writer’s block.

A writer who “can’t write” simply has nothing to say and decides that they’re blocked. You probably think you do, so here’s how to figure out what you have to say and “unblock” yourself.

How I Cured A Friend’s Writer’s Block

I had a good friend from my prior day job at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (“Had” being a bummer: he died at 37).

He was a NASA engineer who loved to write and is the only writer I know who had been published quite a few times in magazines as a freelancer without ever getting a rejection.


But one day he told me he was “blocked” and hadn’t written anything for weeks, so I went to his house and asked if he’d like me to fix that for him. …

How an earlier opioid epidemic led to a medical breakthrough.

On July 16, 1982, a heroin addict was rushed to Santa Clara, California’s, Valley Medical Center from the county jail. He hadn’t overdosed, but rather he was completely frozen, and the medics, let alone the jailers, couldn’t understand what was wrong. George Carillo couldn’t move or speak. He was admitted to the hospital, and the neurologist on call was J. William Langston — he and his wife, Lisa, happened to be my parents’ next-door neighbors.

Dr. Langston was just as perplexed by George’s condition. He had been fine the day before, but now he was stiff and unmoving. Sounds a lot like severe Parkinson’s disease, the doctor eventually decided, and he gave George the classic drug to treat Parkinson’s, L-dopa. Sure enough, almost instantly George was able to move and talk again. As the drug wore off, he was again frozen. …

You’ve seen the meme. Here’s the true story behind it.

A few years ago I saw this meme on Memorial Day weekend. I didn’t make it, but I wanted to know the story behind it. No one who posted ever said who James was, or who the woman is, so I researched it.

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Sgt. James John Regan, who was 26 and from Manhasset, N.Y., died February 9, 2007, in northern Iraq.

This is Mary McHugh at the Arlington National Cemetery grave (Section 60 Site 8535) of her fiancé, Sgt. James John Regan, who was 26 and from Manhasset, N.Y. He died February 9, 2007, in northern Iraq of wounds suffered when an IED exploded near his vehicle while on combat patrol. Regan was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Benning, Georgia. …


Randy Cassingham

Online Writer Since 1994. My is Thought-Provoking Entertainment — social commentary with attitude. Uncommon Sense is my podcast.

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