Monday, November 12, 2007


He had walked the razor's edge between life and death, and he knew it; a dozen strangers had formed a human chain to reach into Hell and pull him back into the land of the living. As consciousness returned, he struggled to ask one question of the doctors hovering over him:

"Did the Flames win last night?"

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Carms Revolution

Even damnation is poisoned with rainbows. (Leonard)

I headed out through the snow this morning to meet up with friends. It was supposed to be just for breakfast, but conversation dragged on through dinnertime, with the snowfall coming down hard outside.

We spoke of carms, the residency match process here in Canada. Where to apply, how many programs, what to put in our applications; these are questions that have no answers. The act of asking is cathartic, though, and so these days we go through this process over and over.

Of course, if we are successful in our applications, then this safe little world we're living in, with its tight friendships, will be destroyed, and we will all head out to begin from scratch, again.

To all of my architects let me be traitor.
Now let me say, I myself gave the order
To sleep and to search and to destroy.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

They Come in Threes

I've been thinking a lot about life and death recently. Sitting in my spider hole in D'heller, my networkless laptop powered on just to keep me warm, put these thoughts about existence into my mind. Was there more to life than perfecting my Zero Wing skills? What was the point of being a Puzzle Bobble god?

My good friends in LA had a baby two weeks ago now; I've been through a lot of births in the past few months, but I still get choked up by them. And, when it's the baby of such good friends, it's especially meaningful. My happiness about the event are, well, inexpressible.

While they were experiencing new life, though, I was forming a new and close relationship with death. A week ago, I answered a code; the poor person passed away, his head in my hands, my face perhaps the last he saw. Will I end up the same, I wondered, alone, a stranger saying goodbye to me as I leave this world?

I continued on my rounds, and ended up at another code, less than twenty minutes later. This time, I had just begun to bag when she revived. The code team arrived, and I left. Is she still around a week later, I don't know.

They come in threes, I was told. And so, the wait for number three began. It happened on Thursday, at the end of a long day. This one turned out well, and everyone there was happy and relieved. Grandma was okay, and the family intact.

So, now that I am in nephro/internal, I find myself with a job opposite to that I had in my obs/gyne rotation. Death is all around, and it's our job to make sure that it doesn't come too early. This is why I'm here...

As Leonard said:

We've been around, we fall, we fly
We mostly fall, we mostly run
And every now and then we try
To mend the damage that we've done

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Back to Life

Last Thursday, I emerged from my spider hole, and returned to so-called civilization, looking much like Saddam. I haven't quite recovered, though. A classmate asked me yesterday why I was walking around stooped over; the contractures will take some time to stretch away.

We had Thanksgiving on Monday up here, which resulted in a nice dinner at a classmate's place. I started nephrology the next day. It's fun so far; maybe I should go into nephro...

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Just a quick note to wish everyone a happy Rumi's 800th birthday. Hmm, a trip from Balkh to Konya could be fun.

The BBC had an article on his birthday here.

From the Masnavi:

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Claustrophobia Update

In this world of irony, it is only fitting that I posted about my odd claustrophobic dreams a couple of posts ago. Now, I'm living the dream.

For my placement in the badlands, the school assigned me a room in a basement. Where do those dreams come in? The bathroom: the ceiling is about 6'1", which means that I can't stand up straight. Shaving isn't easy, walking around has to be done doubled over...

But, that's the good part. The shower, well, is about 6'2" tall, and about 2' by 2'. In other words, it would make a cozy coffin for someone 6" shorter than me. The shower head is located a bit below my shoulder height. I can fit in there if I fold myself up a bit like an accordion bellows. To top it off, the shower head pops off once it heats up, giving me a fixed time limit for shower length... showering is a form of comical torture.

No internet access at home either; I have to go to the hospital to (slowly) check my email... and facebook is blocked. I feel like I've been buried in Kill Bill: Volume 2...

Sunday, September 09, 2007


My rotation in therapy is done, so I've left behind the hermeneutic circles I'd weaved myself into, and I'm moving on to family medicine. I have a rural placement, in a town famous for its dinosaur bones; it's in what is called the badlands of Alberta. I may not have net access there... not sure how I'll cope with that. If that's the case, I guess I'll be doing a lot of studying and reading, and perhaps a lot of running as well. I'll have to pack my Nietzsche and Freud books... I almost bought a couple of Dostoyevski books on Saturday, but held off...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I'm one and a half weeks into my current rotation, and it seems to have had a pretty profound effect on my thought patterns.

Some thoughts I had today:

"Hmm, this reminds me of the conflict between Hegelian and Marxist dialectics."

"He's caught in a classic Batesonian double bind!"

Neither of those sentences would have meant anything to me two weeks ago. I bought a six-pack of beer on the way home.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


I've never considered myself claustrophobic before, but how else can I explain my recent dreams? Over the past couple of months, I've repeatedly had dreams about being uncomfortably squished into tight spaces.

The last one was about two weeks ago, and I remember parts of it very clearly. I was leaving my office; the door was tiny, just small enough for me to crawl through, with quite a bit of trouble squeezing myself through. The door led into an antechamber, a small room perhaps three feet by three feet, with a second door on the wall to my right, leading to a larger room. The second door was the same size as the first, and I had to work my way through that one, while my lower body was still in the first doorway. As I was worming my way to the second door, someone came to talk to me through the second doorway; they mentioned something about increased budgets, and I was happy because it meant that I could get a bigger doorway for my office.

I eventually made it out into the larger room, but the ceiling there was about six feet high, and I kept hitting my head on the metal light fixtures as I walked around doubled over.

I wonder if being in my obstetrics rotation for the past six weeks had anything to do with it.

Now I'm thinking about going into psych; I'm in the middle of a two-week elective in family therapy, and it's great.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Another weekend without call. The result: nothing. The highlight of the weekend was listening to 'Cough Piece' by Yoko Ono, all the way through, and contemplating its meaning to the artist and its meaning to me.

I tried to get a haircut, but failed. Didn't have a reservation...

Yoko's thought for the day:

Kyoko, don't worry
Don't worry, Kyoko
Mum's only looking for
Her hand in the snow

Which kind of makes you worry about Mum.

Leonard's thought for the day:

Four o'clock and the fog comes in
We all remember the sea
For several seconds our sins are forgiven
Mine against you, yours against me

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Survival of the Fittest

Obstetrics is going well; of the surgical specialties, this is by far my favourite so far. Did I already say that?

I just survived a week with three 24 hour shifts in it, so I'm a bit tired. One of the things with long shifts, is that you end up eating a lot in the hospital cafeteria. Options there are... limited, to say the least. However, the result has been an improvement in my diet, I think, as I have been consuming vegetarian sushi almost exclusively. Getting home, I'm too tired to go get take-out, so I'm eating mostly yogurt, Ensure, and chocolate. Yes, chocolate, thanks to my total life disorganization.

Recently, I bought a big box of chocolates from Bernard Callebaut for the nurses in one of the units I'd been working in. Unfortunately, I never got around to going back to drop it off. So... I opened it up and started eating it myself. And man, it's good stuff, bringing a bit of joy into my life every night (every night I'm home, that is). I'm sitting here with the taste of chocolate in my mouth as I type this; it's not just a moment of pleasure that it brings, but it also evokes memories of previous times and places, involving chocolate from various sources, like Burdick's, Serenade, or the chocolate of my youth: Rottenhöfer.

Anyways, I'm sure that right now there's an accountant at the head office of Wendy's, who's staring at some balance sheets, and thinking: "What's gone wrong in Calgary?"

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Gates to the Garden

Okay, I've enjoyed a lot of medicine before, for various reasons, but I have to say that the biggest rush you can get in meds may be obstetrics. I have three 24-hour shifts this week, and finished the first one this a.m.; it was my first completely sleepless call shift.

And it was good. I felt like the opposite of St. Peter, standing outside the gates of the womb, receiving the sinless into life, and cradling them in my size nine hands as their cords were cut and they took in their first breaths.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


As everyone knows, today saw the release of the final Harry Potter book. I preordered from Amazon months and months ago. Well, today is the day... and they have yet to ship it, those jerks. They sent an email a while back saying that if you wanted it shipped on time, you'd have to pay extra. I'm pretty angry at Amazon right now... I wish I hadn't ordered $270 worth of textbooks from them last week; they haven't shipped those yet either, those jerks!

'Chapters' all the way from now on!!!

Anyways, so here I am without Harry Potter to read. I had the entire plot worked out in my mind, based on the final few chapters of the last book, and now I can't confirm my predictions.

To make up for this fiasco, I picked up some light reading at the local used book shop: 'A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis' by Sigmund Freud.

I was thinking this week that I have been mostly successful at eliminating all fun from my life. Almost all reading I do these days is textbooks. I don't have a TV; I gave up renting movies. However, I unfortunately still listen to music, and have a remaining hobby. I ordered up a bunch of Towa Tei and Haroumi Hosono CDs a few weeks ago (Motivation Five, Future Listening/Future Recall 3, Sound Museum, and Hosono House), along with a disk I was missing from Faye Wong (天空), and they arrived this week; I drove to the courier office today to pick them up. I'm enjoying GBI (German Bold Italic) right now. Augh! It's fun! Darn, must stop!

Anyways, I should really be studying obstetrics now. I need to know how to deliver babies by 8 a.m. tomorrow morning.

High contrast. It's cool!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Well, I've enjoyed paeds neuro so much for the past week and a half, that I am thinking this may be it. I will decide over the weekend if I should just go for it. If I find I'm not so crazy about it after another rotation, I can always take a year off.

Cases are very complex, and come to the clinic typically undiagnosed. After spending time in surgery, where the cases were mostly 'done' by the time they got to you, it's a refreshing change, and more or less provides me with the main thing I wanted out of meds.

Funny, surgery seems to be about black and white: he has this, we do this, in this way. Things that fall into grey areas make surgical people nervous... and sometimes angry. That attitude is pretty desirable in the OR, but ultimately fails to satisfy me. I like the greyness of uncertainty that you find in the most complex cases. Heck, my life is spent living in grey, so it's what I'm good at.

Anyways, how can't you enjoy a profession where you get to test for the Moro reflex every time you meet a baby?

As an aside, the number 9.51 keeps coming up for me. What is the significance, I wonder?

Monday, July 02, 2007


Well, I have very little to report. Anaesthesia is over; it had its rough moments, notably in the first week, but things pulled together more-or-less in the second week. One more week, and I would have been competent.

My current study style is a bit of this, a bit of that, what are they going to ask me tomorrow, what did they ask me today. That system really doesn't work at all; I need to formalize some kind of studying regimen, but haven't yet. I had all weekend to study for my next rotation, but felt so far behind, that I didn't even begin.

Anyways, this will be my first rotation outside of the OR since starting clerkship. So far it's been surgery, followed by surgery, followed by surgery, surgery, surgery, and anaesthesia. Now, paediatric neurology. A big shift. Will I cope with going from an action and anatomy orientation to a diagnostic one?

A preceptor told me on Friday that I should pick a discipline where I save the soul of a person, i.e., their mind. A finger, a bit of bowel, none of these are crucial to a person's being. I am taking that into consideration...

To quote the Trashcan Sinatras:

It's a hard road when you know where you're going
And it's harder when you know where you're not

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Falling Asleep

So, as I reported before, I finished surgery on Friday. Before heading off to the exam, me and my size 9 hands closed our last incision for a while, and wrote up our last OR note.

Well, to wrap up our current placements, Atopy, Rococo and I went for sushi on 4 Street on Friday night. Afterwards, we hit some café on 17 Avenue for dessert, which was a nice change from the usual routine.

Anyways, next is anaesthesia. It involves a lot of sitting around and reading, with the occasional IV start or intubation. Quite a change of pace. I can't say I'm looking forward to it much, as I hate that feeling of unpreparedness I always seem to have these days.

Midsummer is this week, and that means that by next weekend, the days will be getting shorter again. Winter is coming.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sleep on the Horizon

I was on call three out of the last four weekends. That wears a person down. Tomorrow, I have my final surgery exam, and on Monday I start anaesthesia. So, I won't have any call for two weeks, possibly four. Now I can get some sleep.

Too bad; I've enjoyed being in the OR. Or, should I say, I like being at the table in the OR, since I'll still be physically in the theatre for two weeks, but I won't be doing anything except perhaps some IV starts and some arterial blood draws. On the plus side, I am looking forward to sleeping in until 5:30 every day, instead of getting up at 4:30 like I have been.

I thought about going to Boston for the weekend, but at $1500 for a flight via Chicago, it's a bit too much dough for 48 hours out of town.

Hoo, today was not an easy day. Lucky for me I can fall back on YMO's 'Computer Game -- Theme from The Circus' to get me out of a funk.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


I didn't have call this weekend. Whew! I really needed a full weekend off. It's funny how satisfying a simple day of relaxation has become for us clerks. Saturday, I did nothing of import. I met up with Rococo and Magic Pants at Earl's, and we spent the afternoon in the sun on the patio, with margaritas and happy conversation. Then, with coercion employed skillfully on my part, we went to see the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It was supposed to be pretty bad, but Johnny Depp is Johnny Depp. Well, I enjoyed it. I have to say, though, that it was a bit Tranantinoesque, what with all the killing and killing and killing. Also, I was a bit disappointed in Keira's choice.

Today was a quiet day at home with Wa-Wa, Victor Jara, and the other rarely-played artists in my iTunes catalog. Funny, it seems that Tarcy Su and Yuki Hsu have new albums out... I thought they had moved permanently into the realm of memories of my youth.

Anyways, back to the subject of movies, I finally saw Babel. An okay movie; the strongest moment for me was when Ryuichi Sakamoto was used for the final scene. A great song.

We're in the midst of a thunderstorm right now. The windows are wide open...

The Lowest of the Low said:

And some time when your resistance is low
Remember that I know...
Who's your favourite Pogue

There's a place in my soul where no one else can adore you
And like the poet-soldier says, "I would spill my blood for you."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Winter has Arrived

This morning, I woke up at 4:45, to complete silence. As any Canadian knows, there is no silence like that of a snowfall, so instantly I knew that there was a blanket of snow on the ground outside. When I looked out the window, I was greeted by about three inches of snow. June is in a week, and I still need to get the snow off my car before I head out to the hospital.

Anyways, I was gonna say a bit about my 24 hours of trauma call last weekend. It was pretty crazy. There were some car crashes, a couple of stabbings, etc. But, the big shocker for me was the number of ATV/quad injuries, who made up the majority of cases. In terms of long-term problems, I think that it will probably the quad riders that will end up in the most trouble; those things are dangerous, holy cow.

Good to see, though, how the whole system works. The city has a few good people standing at the ready to save our lives, 24/7.

Well, I got about 30 minutes of sleep during my shift. I was pretty much shot when I got out the door late in the morning on Victoria Day. Oh, it was snowing then too...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Keep Your Pants On

I just finished my week of urology. Now, it's the Victoria Day long weekend, but unfortunately, I have to do 24 hours of trauma call starting on Sunday at 8 a.m., so my weekend is shot. Tuesday, gen surg begins in the northeast.

I have one little story from the past week. On Wednesday afternoon, I was following my doc for an afternoon of cystoscopy. That's looking inside peoples' bladders with a scope, in case you're wondering. Well, for one patient, we had to use fluoroscopy, so we had to get on our lead aprons. My lead was different from the ones I have become used to for OR work; it closed at the front, with big velcro strips. After we were done, the doc started writing his notes, and the nurses and radiation tech were talking to the patient. I began to remove my lead. Riiiiiipppp, I pulled open the velcro. Unfortunately, the waistband on my scrubs had adhered to the velcro, so zooop, my pants fell down.

Pretty embarrassing. I'm not sure if anyone actually saw, since I was pretty speedy at getting them back up again. However, I can hardly believe that all of the five other people in the room failed to notice me standing there in my underwear...

Very inappropriate behaviour for a med student.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Face Time

Facebook use has exploded around here. Everyone is doing it. On Monday, I started in urology in a new hospital, a bit more laid back than Foothills. During one of the cases, I looked over to see what the anaesthesiologist was doing so intently; she was facebooking. Walked past the fluoroscopy control nook; the x-ray tech was facebooking.

The only two hold-outs I know of are Magic Pants and Vibe. How do they resist the peer pressure?

Speaking of Magic Pants, I think I've mentioned that we both owned the same crappy phone, a Motorola V220. The worst phone of my life. His phone was crapping out in the same way as mine, with the phone hanging up when you answer it. That's the opposite of what a phone is supposed to do, Motorola; you may want to look into removing that instant-hang up function. Anyways, things reached the breaking point for me on Saturday, when I had a phone conversation with Rococo consisting of about a dozen ten-second individual calls, with the phone crapping out each time.

So, on Sunday, I picked up a W180i. It's good to have a Sony Ericsson again; I feel alive once more.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I think I've been sprayed with more human blood in the past week, than in my entire life up to this point...

Monday, April 30, 2007


When I got home from the hospital today, the latest English translation of a Haruki Murakami novel was waiting in my mailbox: 'After Dark'. The first few pages are great; too bad I have to study! :(

Hmm, Amazon says that it isn't out for another week! :)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Come Together

Things have been slack at school for the past week, but I've been pretty tired nevertheless. Things should get busier again tomorrow, but I am not sure... it looks like my next two weeks won't be what I'd hoped, since my preceptors are out of town for most of it. :(

Anyways, yesterday, Rococo, Magic Pants, and I got together for a late breakfast at Nellie's, with Rococo constantly watching her pager, as she was on call. Our pagers have become central to our lives. Today was almost a repetition of yesterday, as we once again went for breakfast at Nellie's, this time with a bigger crowd of classmates and their spouses. We're kinda starved for contact these days...

I took my motorbike out for a ride this evening. It's been around five months since I last rode... a very long time. It was chilly out; lucky I'm still wearing my winter clothes these days, with my scarf at the ready.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The World is My Oyster

I survived my last elective, and it was not easy. I'm tired out of my brain, and considering going to bed for the night just after 8 p.m.!

But, I find myself suddenly very excited again about the future. Neurology or neurosurgery, two incredible fields. Ah, what to do? Everything else has been forgotten.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Neuro Calling

I just finished my first night of call ever, in neurosurgery. I ended up being there for 35 hours. It started and ended well. Yesterday, I saw a live cauda equina for the first time, sitting there in its dural sack; I was assisting in a laminectomy. I was feeling a mixture of elation and awe as I suctioned and retracted away. This afternoon, I scrubbed into a craniotomy, and saw a live brain for the first time. It looked a bit sad at first, but by the end of the procedure was pulsating away happily in its skull. Wow. That's a living skull. That's a living dura. That's a living brain. That's a living person.

I also attended an interesting clinic in the morning. Overnight, though, between 5 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., all I did was write up an admit note and history for one patient. I was expecting to be pushing myself a bit harder...

Well, at the moment I am preparing part of a talk for Friday morning rounds. Fun! :) Suddenly, though, I am missing having a lab to play around in... maybe I should ask someone in neuro here for a project I can work on.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Unexpected Vacation

Yesterday afternoon, I found out that today would be a holiday... not a bad surprise.

Things started well. I had a comic book and a new CD waiting for me in the mail when I got home. However, I was so tired that I ended up going to bed sometime around 9. So, this morning, I got up bright and early at 4:15.

That's right, it's a holiday, and I slept in until 4:15 a.m..

I guess I should do some neuroanatomy studying... I've already gotten in a full day's worth of wasting time.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Adjust It

After two weeks of clerkship, I thought that I had made a pretty good transition to the early waking schedule. I was wrong.

On 'Monday morning', I woke up and noted that it was awfully bright outside. Oh no! I'd slept in! I hurriedly put on my glasses, rolled out of bed, and looked at the clock. 12:15.. A.M.. Just after midnight. Okay, so I guess that it wasn't that bright outside. I went back to sleep.

Wednesday morning, something similar. My phone alarm went off, and I got up out of bed, turned it off, and collapsed back on the bed, to wait for my clock radio to go off a minute or two later. As I lay there, I thought, this is good, I managed to sleep soundly since 11 p.m., without waking up at all, so I got a full six hours of sleep. That was an improvement over previous nights. But, I was still quite tired. Very tired. Oh well, gotta live with it. Get up and hit the shower. Why hasn't my clock radio gone off yet? I looked at the time. 11:15 p.m.. Tuesday. I had slept for 15 minutes. The phone alarm turned out to have been the low battery warning. I went back to sleep.

Tomorrow, I get to sleep in, since we will start rounds late, at 7:30.. Maybe I can pop by the pulm rounds at 7, just for fun. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tied Down

I went tie shopping over the weekend. I basically had four ties in total, and after one week of clerkship, it was pretty clear that I needed to expand that number to add some variability to my wardrobe.

First, I hit all the 'best' stores in town, and boy, was I disappointed. This town is full of ties meant to be loud and make you stand out in an oil-business crowd. To top it off, the salespeople all looked at me with suspicion; I suppose that I look more like a shoplifter than a med student. Anyways, I then backtracked to the cheaper places like The Bay, and found a couple of ties that did the trick.

That's a lot of effort for an outgoing fashion. Ties are losing popularity in healthcare these days, as they tend to help spread infections. However, they haven't been banned outright here yet, and the patients and preceptors still expect you to wear them, to meet society's standards of professional dress. Oh well, it just means more money for the dry cleaners.

In unrelated news, I have managed to acclimatize my body to getting to work by 6:15. Unfortunately, I've overdone it a bit, and now I'm waking up on my own before 4...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lack of Intellectual Growth

Skinny Talls goes on elective last summer. Picture an OR, with a surgeon performing a laproscopic cholecystectomy; he uses his instruments to indicate the gall bladder:

Surgeon: "What am I holding?"
Skinny Talls: "A CAMERA!!!"
Surgeon: "Uhh... okay...? (Thinks to self: OMG, how dumb is this guy?)"

Today, Skinny Talls, on elective, assists in a VATS procedure. A full year of medical education has passed:

Surgeon: "What are *you* holding?"
Skinny Talls: "A CAMERA!!!"
Surgeon: "Uhh... okay...?"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Waking Life

I've made it three days into clerkship. It has required some adjustments to my schedule. For the past few weeks, I'd generally been going to bed somewhere between 2 and 5 in the morning. This week, I've been getting up at 4:45, to try make it onto the wards at 6:15.

That said, it hasn't been difficult, as the work is interesting, and pretty relaxing. Hmm, what can I say about things...

I have been known to be jealous of people who get to retract. "He/She's probably in the OR right now, holding a retractor!" was one of the phrases I used most often last summer, always accompanied with the voice and face of pure envy. Well, now *I'm* the one who's doing the retracting, people, and let me tell you, retractors come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, including 196 cm. Okay, retraction isn't the only fun I've had; I put in a VATS port on Monday, from incision to insertion, and used a stapler for the first time yesterday.

Anyways, how is it? There is a mix of apprehension and enjoyment inside me. On the one had, it's clear that I'm grossly under-prepared for this. On the other hand, it looks like it will be a wild ride.

The Trashcan Sinatras wrote this about clerkship (I suspect):

But i forget the conversation we had,
i don't remember what you said or did
that made you so attractive.

Yes, attractive. It's the mesmerization that induces amnesia.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Happily, I was right in thinking that organizing my recyclables was the key to organizing my life. The apartment is almost ship-shape, and I've recovered my joie de vivre just in time for clerkship.

I'm still clueless as to what will be happening tomorrow, though. Will I be put straight to work, or will I get to relax and find out how the heck everything works? It's a mystery. I should have watched a chest-tube-insertion video or two today, or memorized surgical instrument names.

Like I've mentioned in earlier posts, I've been listening to the Trashcan Sinatras a lot recently. This verse reminded me of moving on from classrooms to clerkship:

Soothe your fear, we're off where it's warmer
Here's to all of us, I know you are worried
We're leaving here, regret to inform you
Leaving everything, it's just that we've got to
believe in everything, we're leaving everything


Bring it on...

Saturday, March 10, 2007


My apartment is a disaster area, as is my clerkship preparation. Today, I went out and bought a bunch of containers to organize my recyclables, which is step one in cleaning things up around here. Studying all thoracic surgery and all anatomy tomorrow will fix up my lack of preparation on the clerkship front.

While I am staying here for my first six weeks of electives, like a baby hanging around in the 41st week, most of my comrades have left town. I'm used to being the one that moves on, and leaves everyone behind...

To quote Rivers:

The world has turned and left me here
Just where I was before you appeared
And in your place, an empty space
Has filled the void behind my face

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


On Saturday, I picked up Magic Pants and Rococo, and we headed downtown for a late breakfast (at 2 p.m.). We went to a place none of us had ever been to before, 1886 Buffalo Café in Eau Claire. We found some parking nearby, and spent about an hour and a half eating, followed by wandering. The café itself was fine, if rather more expensive then Nellie's. Anyways, afterwards, Rococo asked me how much time I'd gotten on the parking meter. "You have to pay on a Saturday?" was my answer; sometimes, I am surprised by how dumb I am.

When we got back to my car, I had no ticket. Whew. However, the car behind me did. Checking my meter, I saw that I had 15 minutes on it. Somebody had come by, seen police ticketing cars, and put at least a quarter into the meter for me.

That's so nice. Good, Calgary, good!

In other news, on Sunday, I finally made it to 'Peters' Drive-In'. I figured that if it was good enough for Hugh Jackman (Wolverine!), then it was good enough for me. I had the double cheeseburger, with small fries and a shake. The burger was okay; it reminded me of a Harvey's hamburger. The fries had a too much oil flavour; I didn't finish them. Finally, the shake. Ah, I chose marshmallow, believe it or not. That was supposedly the flavour that was the culprit in the drive-in's E. coli O157:H7 crisis of '05. Well, it tasted like unflavoured soft-serve, and certainly wasn't worth getting HUS over (haemolytic uremic syndrome).

Okay, Harvey's is probably my favourite burger chain, so the burger was fine. The fries, I'll give another chance to in the future. The shake, I was later informed that I should have gotten strawberry-vanilla or chocolate. I guess I went with expectations set too high...

The sad part of the weekend was that it represented the end of the Triumvirate of Nerds. The other two are headed off to electives out east this week, while I remain in town. Well, we'll see if we end up finding the time to get together again, once we're in clerkship.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Welcome Back, Talls

I got back into town right around 3 o'clock in the morning on Monday. It took a good 45 minutes for my luggage to show up, so I was pretty tired when I got in my car and headed home. I was the only car on the road as I headed south on 19, cruising (crawling) along at a city standard of 45 km/h (gotta stay under the speed limit). Well, eventually a car pulled up on me very fast, and hugged my bumper. What's up with that, I thought to myself... it's a cop. After a minute and a half, her lights come on. Speeding? No. She ran my plates, basically out of boredom, and I wasn't registered. $115. Welcome home. Be careful, the streets are pretty slick tonight. Thanks.

Earlier that night, in Vancouver, it took me 45 minutes to check the bottle of duty-free vodka I'd bought for a classmate. Lucky the plane was almost two hours late, otherwise I'd have missed it. Well, it gave me something to do. I was surprised that a glass bottle in a plastic bag actually survived being checked.

Happily, Monday was redeemed when Rococo called me to go for a late lunch at Moxie's. The thing is, while the atmosphere there is great for a slow mid-afternoon meal, the menu has become tiresome. A new restaurant to hang in is needed, but none is evident.

Anyways, to (almost) quote Bruce:

Nineteen Street Northwest
Ridin' on a snowy night
'Neath the refinery's glow
Out where the great black rivers flow
License, registration, I ain't got none
But I got a clear conscience
'Bout the things that I done
Mister state trooper, please don't stop me
Please don't stop me, please don't stop me


I went to L.A. for the weekend. The Man finally convinced me to come down, and since I had a free weekend, I went for a day and a half. Kind of a short trip... It was good to see The Man and his wife; it's been a few years now. This was my first trip to the US since moving back to Canada in 2005.

Highlights included strolling the beach in Santa Monica and going to In-N-Out Burger, not to mention seeing The Man's CalTech lab, and the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens.

I am told that 'The Grand Lebowski' (sic) is the quintessential L.A. movie.

Civilization there is very different from here. It's so not Cowboy.

Now, I'm back home in the cold and the snow, back to school. I shall return, though; I still need to meet up with my Enders floppy management partner.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Emulating a Life

Wednesday we had our last class of the year, and Thursday was our last exam of the year. Technically, we have three more, but they're all 'formative'; id est, they don't count. A bunch of us hit Nellie's post-exam, but considering that we're done with the classroom part of medschool, you may have expected a bit bigger celebration.

Friday, I thought I'd go to ACH for the m&m and a bit of surgery, but found that I needed a break from meds for a few days. So, instead, I got to playing with Virtual PC 7 on my Mac, which I picked up on Wednesday. I managed to install NT 4.0, and more excitingly, DOS 6.22 with Windows for Workgroups 3.11. I then installed Serf City under DOS, and lo and behold, it worked.

Why? Well, I was playing Serf City back in 1995, when I upgraded to win95 and ran into compatibility problems. So, I never finished the game. Fast forward twelve years, and it looks like I will finally get to do that. Who says I never finish anything I start?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


It's been snowing a lot here recently. I swear, it fell almost continuously between Friday and today; it was always a light snowfall, but it just wouldn't stop. Anyways, since it's Valentine's Day, and I've been listening to the Trashcan Sinatras straight for two weeks, I offer you 'Snow':

snow...fills the fields we used to know
and the little park where we would go
lies far below
in the snow's all over and you're gone
but the memory lives on
although our dreams lie buried
in the snow

sometimes the wind blows
through the trees
and i think i hear you calling me
but all i see is snow

everywhere i go
as the cold winter sun sinks low
i walk alone through the snow

I dropped off my car at the local Canadian Tire on Monday afternoon, to have new tyres put on my car. My old ones were worn right down, and two of them had 'slow leaks', and by slow, I mean they would go completely flat over the course of a week or so. Anyways, I ended up walking home from the shop, through the snow, which took about 45 minutes in -20 ˚C weather. Not smart, but it reminded me of my youth. :)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ah, Good Times

This was one of those great weekends that make you happy to be alive... and in medschool. With Friday being the peak stress day for medschool so far, it felt great to suddenly have (almost) no worries whatsoever. Saturday was breakfast at Nellie's with Magic Pants and Rococo, at 1:15 p.m.. Today the three of us went to see 'The Queen', followed by dinner and a mile-high mud pie at Montana's.

Oddly enough, I'm a bit of a monarchist, so this was a bit of a 'Passion of the Queen' for me.

Anyways, we had a journal club over dinner. I assigned a paper for the group to read, and we discussed it a bit. We didn't read papers like that in science! We then moved on to the subject of the role of orientation week activities in setting expectations for student behaviour throughout medical school, something that Magic Pants has been thinking about a lot recently. At the moment, a frat-boy mentality seems to dominate in this kind of thing, and the times, well, they changed years ago in the rest of Canada.

Sitting around, enjoying some decent food, and having some great conversations, all in a background of pushing your physical and mental abilities to their limits, that is what has made this last year-and-a-half such a pleasure. Meds, there is nothing like it.

Friday, February 09, 2007

And... break

I just came through the crunch with flying colours. I was up all night writing and making figures, but got my last big project of the year done. Not only did I finish it, but I went totally over the top, with every single figure accompanied by a stereoscopic version. I didn't stop at just sticking in parallel stereographs; no, I went for the full-out cross-eye/parallel triple image combo. Yokochi would be proud.

In other school news, yesterday I also got the electives I was hoping for in March/April. Four weeks of thoracics, then two weeks of neurosurgery.

It's cold here. Last night when I drove to Wendy's to get dinner, the inside of the windows iced up, and I had to keep scraping the windscreen to get some vision. Funny enough, that reminds me of my youth, and gives me a deep feeling of contentment inside...

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Textbook Case

I made it through my exams just fine... hurrah! Unfortunately, yesterday, I was feeling a bit weird all day, then fell very ill right after I got home after dinner. I pulled out a textbook, self-diagnosed myself (a textbook GI case), and proceeded to spend the rest of the evening sick, instead of working on the first of three reports I need to finish by next week.

I should be back at it tomorrow, though. I missed a 'mandatory' small-group class today; I wonder what the repercussions of that will be.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Time Flies

On Saturday night, I headed over to Big Poppa's for a birthday party. I realized afterwards that it had been a very long time since I'd been to any kind of party. They're fun; maybe I should go out more.

Yes, life is a bit dull these days. I did some online CD shopping over the weekend to try and lively it up. A whole pile of Trashcan Sinatra CDs. A Pizzicato Five DVD. Even an album from The Brilliant Green. Plus, I found a used copy of Mint Sound Greatest Hits, Volume 1. However, online shopping results in a ten-to-fifteen-day delay in satisfaction.

I have OSCEs this Thursday and Friday, with 'culture' and 'ethics' exams on Friday afternoon. Monday is our paeds exam. I should be studying, working, pushing. Instead, time seems to flow by, but I've stepped out of the stream.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Lappy's Back!

My computer is back from the shop. Phew! After getting it back, I immediately upgraded it to a 160 GB HD. Now I'm happy again.

I immediately ripped the CDs I got over the holidays, including "It's All Gone Pete Tong" and a Tengir-Too album. Good stuff. Then, I cooked up some Kraft dinner, opened up a bottle of wine, and enjoyed a good samurai movie, "Kiru" (aka "Kill!"). Damn, Tatsuya Nakadai was great back in the sixties; I'm glad to see he's still acting.

I'm glad to report that my stomach has adjusted well to my Kraft dinner diet.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Soccergrrrl was out of town this weekend, so I headed over to The Smokehouse to keep Banana company. Yep, just Banana and the Breadfruit, hanging out, watching some TV. I ended up watching the first eight episodes of season one of 'Grey's Anatomy'. Now I get what the fuss is about, and I get the whole 'thing for ferry boats' too.

I need to buy a big swath of land, along with a trailer...

First, though, I have to get my PowerLappy G4 back. :( The local repair place called me on Friday, not to tell me to come pick it up, but rather to tell me that they had 'looked at it' and confirmed that the hard drive was indeed dead, but hadn't ordered a replacement yet. They actually expected me to be happy that they had 'looked at it' within a week! The thing is so integral to my studies, it was a struggle to go a week without it. Never again do I trust Calgarians with my PowerLappy!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Yesterday, I finished the last instant noodle soup I had in my apartment. All told, I think I've had instant noodle 112 times since moving here, and it's time for a change of pace.

I'm now making my way through the 24 packages of Kraft Dinner that I bought back in August of 2005. Thank goodness that Ensure keeps my diet healthy and balanced.