Sunday, October 30, 2005

Why splints suck

I wish that there was some way that I could post the smell of my splinted hand, because it is very gross. Hopefully, extensive washing can remove this odour from my life.

In other news, I have developed a most interesting typing technique, where my right hand touch-types as normal, but my left hand is held rotated with the thumb pointing straight down, in the standard thumbs down position, and the extended thumb is used in a hunt-and-peck manner for all left-hand keys. Looks very cool, like my left side is an industrial robot.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Today, I had my first follow-up appointment with my plastic surgeon. First of all, my passive range of motion was surprisingly good. Secondly, the bone itself appears to have already healed a once-again-surprising amount. Physio starts Monday, and the splint will be gone in two weeks. Frisbee forbidden for eight weeks, though.

Evidently, I'm a superhealer who should be studied.

Or, maybe my rapid healing is thanks to the bearded guy I ran into in an entranceway of Foothills last week, who used his healing hands on the fracture.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Another night at the study centre, and once again I'm jacked up on coffee beans. This is the last time, 'cause I don't understand the dosage of these things. More Avril.

Watched the original 'Dark Water' today. Scary. I notice that a lot of the successful Japanese horror movies appeal to the fear that adult males have of children, like 'Ju-on: The Grudge'.
Note to self: no longer accept chocolate-covered coffee beans from fellow medical students. If accepted, do not combine with caffeinated beverages.


Watched another great movie tonight, 'Cure'. Kôji Yakusho, he's so trustworthy.

Good news, I guess: I've noticed that I am listening to less Nick Cave these days. That must be a positive thing for anyone's mental health.

Bad news, definitely: tonight I've had Avril Lavigne on repeat play. That must be a negative thing for anyone's mental health.

Okay, don't worry, tonight has just been an anomaly. Actually, early Bowie has been my thing recently. I've finally understood why Heather, Sara, and Steve were so hunky dory back at GHS. It took me a while, but better late then never.

By the way, it turns out that more than 10% of the out-of-province students in my current class are GHS alumni! How's that for a quality high school? Okay, there are only two of us, but still, that statistic is accurate, and we're far from Gloucester out here.

It's snowing out there again. I want some accumulation to jump into and roll around in, though.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Yellow and Blue

Those are the colours of my left arm, mostly yellow from the forearm to the fingers, with touches of blue at the wrist and knuckles. I can barely move my fingers anymore, after just one week of immobilization. It should be even worse, when I am finally free of the splint. Yowzers.

To encourage my hand in its healing, I mentally projected a slightly-modified Yoko Ono lyric to it today, from 'Milk and Honey'. With my best mental Yoko accent, of course.

My hands, so beautiful
My hands, I even dream about them
In a day, no matter how many times we meet, it is not enough
In a lifetime, no matter how many times we meet, it is not enough
My metacarpals, so beautiful
My metacarpals, I even dream about them

I hope that helps healing along. Six weeks like this? Neo-Plastic Ono power to the rescue!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Last Life

I joined last week, because I could no longer go on without foreign films in my life. My standard technique for movie selection is to just select anything in the foreign language section with a good title; I never check the synopsis, as that ruins it for me. This is how I 'discovered' the films of Takashi Miike, back in Boston. So, on Friday I watched a great film, 'Last Life in the Universe'. The high point for me was Takashi Miike brilliantly playing a yakuza. What a surprise that was. Recently, I had a similar surprise watching 'EM Embalming', which featured the spectacular Seijun Suzuki as the lead embalmer's aged sidekick. Which reminds me, I still need to see his latest film, 'Racoon Princess' with Zhang Ziyi.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Shaving 2.0

On Wednesday, as I was shaving in the morning, I realized that last Friday, I had misinterpreted my shaving gel incident. Rather than it having been some general life lesson that I was being given, it was instead a direct warning about the events of the following Sunday. Indeed, that was the last time I shaved before breaking my metacarpal, and so that was the last opportunity to send me that message.

Think about it: what do autumn leaves do? They throw themselves at terminal velocity to the frozen ground. Don't look down; I did look down, to watch my hand twisting away underneath me, in a way it never had before.

So, that immediately raises the question: who attempted to warn me not to wildly pursue that frisbee to my doom? Why did they choose the medium of shaving gel and an obscure Leonard Cohen song? The first name that comes to mind, naturally, is Leonard himself. I assume that while meditating on a mountaintop somewhere in California, as the sun broke over the horizon he foresaw my injury, and immediately attempted to warn me. I submit to you, the first miracle of Leonard Cohen.

Had a rough week? I sure did. There's no better way to finish things off on a good note then by rereading 'Super-Frog Saves Tokyo' by Haruki Murakami (who is apparently currently on a tour of the US northeast).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Was overjoyed to be able to feel my left hand when I woke up this morning, including all the fingertips. Prognosis looking good; can't wait until I get to move all my fingers again. Hurrah!

Why do 'the abled' laugh, when you tell them that it was frisbee that almost ruined your life? I will never leave the study centre again; it's just too dangerous out there!

Monday, October 17, 2005


Have you ever seen the movie 'Patch Adams'? I watched it on Saturday night, and was left wondering about the guy in the psychiatric hospital, who always had his hand up in the air. What was his story? Well, today, I think that I have figured it out. I am pretty sure that this is how his life went:

After years of making his way through graduate school, he found his life energy being drained away by prep after prep of insoluble protein, nickel column after nickel column, miniprep after miniprep. Surely there must be a better use for my brain, he thought to himself. So, with a dose of inspiration and fortitude supplied by those around him, he rose up from the ashes and achieved the impossible: acceptance into medical school, a dream long ago abandoned, now come to life. Upon beginning at medschool, he found that it suited him exactly, and that this was what he was born to do. So, with his mind in Nirvana, and his soul floating through the clouds, one Sunday he went to play frisbee, and broke his left fourth metacarpal, with an ugly spiral fracture with displacement and shortening. As he sat at his desk post-plastic-surgery, wondering whether or not he would recover the feeling in his fingers and the full use of his hand, his friends made fun of his needing to continuously hold his hand high in the air, to avoid swelling. And so he remained, sitting in a stunned silence, his dreamy existence shattered, and his hand held high for evermore.

The only good thing that came out of the event for him was being able to watch the surgery on his own hand, with the skin and muscle cut away, to vaguely feel the screw entering his bone, and watch all his own tendons sliding up and down as he tried to open and close his fist post-op, with the skin all still pulled back.

That's my best guess, anyways.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Bread 2.0

The baking went well. I found a recipe on the web that needed just flour, yeast, salt, and water. I had no idea how much kneading you're supposed to do, but it seems I got it about right. I split my dough into two loaves, one of which I kneaded over a bit more than I think I should have. That one ended up looking very nice and puffy, but the other was a bit more 'artisanal' looking.

Anyways, it's a lot easier than I thought, and the flavour and texture are great.

I think I forgot to mention why I needed to start baking stuff. I went to the Co-op a few weeks ago, to buy a kilo of flour for spätzle. I figured that a kilogram would last me a few months, maybe more, given how often I tend to cook. Well, 5 kg was only a buck more than 1 kg, so I was going to buy that. But, 10 kg was only 30 cents more than that! Wow! So, now I have a 10 kg bag of flour in my kitchen, and it needs to be used.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Today, my mission is to bake a loaf of bread. I've never done that before. Have yeast, will travel!

Had a big exam yesterday, hematology. Next up: the musculoskeletal system! Fun!

Friday, October 14, 2005


This morning, as I was about to shave, Leonard Cohen's 'The Smokey Life' cycled into my iTunes playlist.

Take a lesson from these autumn leaves
They waste no time waiting for the snow

I failed to pay attention to my can of shaving gel for a second, and instead of shooting some gel into my hand, instead a thin blue line of gel flew across the bathroom. It was as if the shaving gel had understood the lyrics, and was taking this chance to make its break.

So don't look down, the ground is gone
There's no one waiting anyway

Unfortunately, the gel ended up splattering itself all across the far wall of the bathroom, its struggle for a life beyond its can or my face denied.

That's when I understood that the gel was trying to teach me something. You've broken free from your can, it told me, but watch out for the bathroom wall. O Teacher, I hear you, I will not allow myself to follow that same fate.

After all, to Gaia, what are humans but some facial lubricant?

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Oh, I got that photo library website going. Message me for the link & password...

It's Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. To celebrate, I cooked up dinner for the usual crew on Friday night, as our current exchange students go back to Sapporo next Saturday, after our hematology exam. I cooked up a big five pound pork roast, with potato dumplings with crouton filling, along with red cabbage and spätzle on the side. It turned out great, although it's been a long time since I've cooked a roast. The gravy worked out very well, which is a change from Boston. We followed up the roast with pumpkin pie and Saskatoon berry pie, along with a good bottle of ice wine.

Anyways, to prepare for people coming over on Friday, I spent a couple of evenings finishing unpacking and cleaning up my apartment. It is now spotless and most awesome. I went to Ikea to try out couches, but decided to forget about a couch, and just go with my pillows, just like my place in Toronto...

Basically, I decided that what I really wanted was a leather couch, and if I couldn't afford one now, then no couch until I can. It's basically the same deal as for my future TV: it's either a 50" widescreen LCD or plasma, or nothing. Looks like it will be 'nothing' for a while.

Oh, now I remember why I mentioned all this. As I was looking around for a guitar tuner during the party, I found my copy of 'Smoochy', that I haven't seen in several years, despite searching for it repeatedly in Boston. It was with my motorcycle title, that I have unsuccessfully searched for for the last two months. Nice!

Monday, October 03, 2005


When I left for school this morning, it was snowing. It was a fine granular snow. It started up again in the afternoon, but had changed over to bigger flakes. Wintertime is here. I started chapstick use a few days ago, 'cause my lips hurt real bad!

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Today I went running after waking up. It was pretty cold this morning, so very few people besides runners were down by the river... maybe ten non-runners on my whole circuit. No fair-weather rollerbladers, the wimps. I noticed that 95% of the runners were running alone, though. That made me wonder, are the runners alone or are the alone runners?

In any case, I think I figured out the 'train noise, it's a good thing' thing. It's self-evident: it's a reminder of life in the womb. What else could it be? The low rumbling heart-beat-like sound; the clunk of the wheels over seams in the tracks even gives you your first and second cardiac sound separation.

Anyways, I was thinking of that because of a conversation I had yesterday. Chihiro, Shuntaro, and Takeshi threw a dinner party at Chihiro's apartment, which is down the valley about 2 km, and also on the river side of her building. It was just the three of them, me, Kent, Marcel, Diane, and at the beginning, Chihiro's landlady and her friend from down the hall. Somehow the conversation got onto train noise (something to do with the level of street noise in that area), and the neighbour said that he loved the sound, and was happy to have recently moved from the north side of the building to the south side, because that meant that now he could hear the train. That is pretty weird phenomenon.

Anyways, my last story for the week is that I went speedskating for the first time on Wednesday night. I rented a pair of those really old-school skates, with the low-cut ankle support. The blades were pretty dull, so it wasn't easy, but even with dull blades, you could feel the speed difference. With minimal effort, and even less control, I was about even with the fastest people on regular skates that were there that evening. So, it would be interesting to try out a pair of modern speed skates.

But, that reminds me of my biggest problem with Calgary so far: lousy skate sharpening. The last time I had my blades sharpened, I was still living in Toronto. So, they were getting pretty dull when I started skating again here in Calgary. I had them sharpened at the oval, and instead of some expert doing it, the girl at the counter went into the back room and sharpened them. The result was a disaster. The edges were completely gone. She had actually managed to remove any and all sharpness from anywhere on the blade. I could have used the blade as a pillow, even (perhaps replacing the Turkish-English dictionary I used as pillow for the month of August). Well, I then brought it to a sports store, hoping for something better. Again, a teenager went to the back room and sharpened them. The result that time was passable, but not great. At least it is currently a bit better than it was when I got to Calgary. However, back in Ottawa, I remember that skates were always sharpened by middle-aged guys with mustaches and long hair (or at least a mullet), and they always had a Hattori-Hanzo-like devotion to the skate blade. If you rubbed your hand accross the blade, it would be cut.

Okay, there was one more thing I wanted to say. Speedskating in that rented pair of skates, I wore off a circle of skin on my foot about 8 mm in diameter. It was quite painful walking on Thursday, and so I was walking with this limp, dragging my right leg out straight, with the foot swung out, so as to not irritate the foot at all. I told people that I felt like Gondo in 'A Taxing Woman' (I could hear the soundtrack in my head as I dragged myself along), but nobody had a clue what I was talking about. What's wrong with society that people don't understand these things?