Tuesday, November 30, 2010

From the family album #6

My nephew Fernando, age 21.  A model train enthusiast from a young age, his duplication in miniature of the rail system of the state of Perak, Malaysia, was the cover story in the June 1987 issue of Railway Modeller.  He was also an enthusiastic body-builder but his involvement in a sketchy protein supplement import business led to his imprisonment for 3 months after a standover incident with a local producer of music videos.  He was later pardoned after it was revealed that he had been blackmailed into confessing by an unscrupulous Welsh architect with links to the trade unions.  Today he resides in Peru where he is conducting background research on the Kokubunji Railway Station, Japan in anticipation of a new masterpiece.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

On the economics of stress

Before my exams last week, my stress levels looked like this:

My theory is that the total amount of stress available to a person is fixed, so the more you have to stress about, the less the impact of each individual item.  And the other part of my theory is that you only feel the impact of the most stressful thing you're stressing about.  So I was comparatively unstressed, especially when compared to my Esteemed Colleagues who were not moving house, having babies or dealing with idiot bosses, and whose stress levels therefore looked like this:

But now my exams are over, I've moved house, and I don't have to see my idiot boss again.  So my stress has been redistributed to look like this:

So I'm freaking out.

Friday, November 26, 2010

From the family album #5

Great Aunt Eunice, the pioneering aviatrix, mugs for the camera upon her arrival home from the Dutch East Indies, where she had set all manner of female altitude records.  Her accomplishments would later be immortalized in the fictionalized novella Wolf Slobber which was a minor hit in Denmark.  Her later years were blighted by a mysterious disease contracted from tropical biting flies, but she pressed on, securing a voice-acting role in the Pink Panther cartoon series as a colonial matron which sadly ended up on the cutting room floor due to time constraints.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

From the family album #4

My step-uncle Edwin, who now goes by the name of Shariff.  An early dial-up internet entrepreneur, he styled himself "the modem king of the Murrumbidgee catchment".  He served as Treasurer of the local council for many years and used the platform to make a name for himself as a celebrity weatherman and guest on the summer telethons raising funds for charity.  He recently had a falling out with a major local business figure and friend and found himself shunned at the Rotary Club.  As a result he is thinking of relocating to Western Australia to stage some of the plays he has been writing at night for the past few decades.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

From the family album #3

My second cousin Corky.  This was the last photo taken of his "special" hair before he got it cut off because he was going to attend theological college in Switzerland.  However, he never even got as far as Basel.  While trekking in Bhutan en route to Europe he befriended the coach of Transport United in the Bhutan A-Division and ended up securing a job as the team masseur. Corky's other claim to fame is that he had a species of butterfly named after him by a school friend after Corky bailed him out of jail following his arrest in the King's Cross red-light district under mysterious circumstances.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

From the family album #2

A rare photo of my cousin twice removed, Warren, taken at the age of 30.  This picture was a publicity shot for his prog-rock power trio, The Ottoman Corsairs, in which he played the electric lute.  Warren was a high school music teacher by profession but was sacked after a scandal in which he was found to have stolen melodies from the homework of a Japanese exchange student.  Fleeing Australia for the United States of America, he was last known to be earning a living penning aphorisms for football commentators and may have been engaged to an ornithologist.

From the family album #1

My Uncle Viktor at the age of 27.  He'd recently returned from a lengthy tour of the Caucasus, convinced that there was a fortune to be made in contracting the construction of football stadiums there.  Although his father disapproved, Viktor somehow secured an enormous loan from him which was subsequently squandered on his true passion, buying 1930's German art photographs at auction.  Tragically, all of the prints and negatives were seized and destroyed by Swedish customs officials in a misunderstanding over a university endowment.  Viktor never really recovered from the shock but managed to eke out a marginally successful career as an arms dealer operating via mail order.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I'm done.

Three hour multiple choice exam this morning over and done with.  Now I can sit back and relax... until Wednesday afternoon when I'll find out if I have to sit the this-is-not-a-sup exam on Thursday morning.

Honestly, this is the stupidest exam system I have ever encountered in any of my thirty four degrees.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Serenity now

There comes a time before each exam when you must find the balance between learning and de-stressing.  For me, that time is now.  And the balance is learning 0%, de-stressing 100%.

This is particularly true of studying medicine because there seems to be no limit to what we might reasonably be expected to know, even though in actuality what we are expected to know is quite reasonable and sensible.  In fact, to put it in the words of an Esteemed Colleague, "They just want us to be sub-lethal".  Just make sure you know Plummer-Vinson (Paterson-Brown-Kelly) Syndrome back to front.  Sure, it's rookie stuff, but you'll look silly if you haven't reviewed it.

Everybody de-stresses in different ways.  Some people hit the gym.  Some people meditate.  I like to behave like an effete retired dilettante.  So here's what I do:
  • Feed the birds.  Tut-tut over the crows that have been pushing the rosellas around.
  • Put some string quartets by Mozart on the stereo.
  • Slowly nibble some avocado and smoked salmon on whole-grain ano-bread while sipping my eco-coffee and browsing The Guardian online.  Tut-tut over government spending cuts in the UK.
  • Gaze vacantly out the window at the garden, thinking about where I might plant some bulbs for the winter.
  • Put some waltzes by Chopin on the stereo.
  • Go to my blog and dispense some patronizing and sanctimonious advice to my long-sufferering readers.
  • Do some tai-chi in the front yard where the neighbours will be sure to see me.
  • Throw open all the windows in the house and stand in front of them with hands on hips breathing deeply and saying, "Aaah, it's a beautiful day!  Feel the air in your lungs!"
  • Put some Bach violin sonatas on the stereo.
  • Idly wonder what might be on the OSCE tomorrow.
  • Hurriedly snatch up an excrutiatingly detailed textbook and attempt to memorize specific gene defects for a range of rare diseases for the best part of an hour before collapsing sobbing into a corner.
  • Put some Rachmaninoff piano concertos on the stereo.
  • Tell everybody on Facebook how bored I am.  Tut-tut over the young folk these days.
The next time you have a big exam looming, why not try my method?  It's never failed me!

I am going to make it through this year if it kills me

Well that's the last time I try to draw anything with this stupid touchpad...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Good guessing

Hopefully the upcoming MCQ exam will have a lot of questions like this one I saw today:
Here is a medical investigation finding.  Which of the following statements is true?
A.  This can be found in normal people.
B.  This can be found in X syndrome.
C. None of the above.
D. All of the above.

Logically, the answer can't be D, since then the answer would be (A,B, and neither A nor B).  So my odds just improved from 1 in 4 to 1 in 3.  Sweet as bro!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Third Year Desiderata

o placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there was in second year.
As far as possible, be on good terms with all persons,
until you get their notes. 
Give your excuses quickly and clearly;
and listen to your patients,
even to the opinionated and the loquacious;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive surgeons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become discouraged or lazy,
for always there will be both gunners and muppets.
Enjoy your coffee as well as your cake.
Keep interested in your own "career", however humble;
it is a pleasing fantasy to dwell on in the early morning darkness.
Always document everything,
for the world is full of bullshit artists.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high standards,
and they may be able to help you, come swot-vac.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign incompetence,
everybody is sick of your shit.
Neither be cynical about psychosocial histories,
for in the face of all PCRs and MRIs, 
they are as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth,
excepting perhaps certain tactical wargames and the odd bit of Scrabble.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you when pimped on the ward.
But do not distress yourself with paranoid delusions,
most consultants don't know you from a bar of soap.
Beyond a vigorous handwashing before lunch,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a student of the university
no less than the midwives and nurses;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the year is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with your Supervisor,
whatever you perceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of Medicine,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still interesting from time to time. 
Don't be a freak. Strive to be normal.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Practise MCQs

Which of the following are good reasons that you'll pass your exams?
  1. You are a genius - you mother told you so.
  2. You're part of a generously funded rural education program so the university can't afford you to fail.
  3. The year after you already has too many people repeating from your year so the university can't afford you to fail.
  4. You have the dirt on the political heavyweights so the university can't afford you to fail.
  5. All of the above.

Why is it that beft always go to the left?
  1. Levorotatory motion induced by perinatal prostaglandins.
  2. Differential homeobox gene expression.
  3. Torsion of the sigmoid mesentery.
  4. Peyronie's disease.
  5. None of the above.

Medicine as a career is:
  1. Overrated
  2. Underrated
  3. Serrated
  4. Frustrated
  5. Adulterated

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I hate the internet

But I so desperately want to access it.  Actually, it's computers that I hate.  And ISPs.  I hate them too.

We moved house two weeks ago which means that I've had only intermittent internet access since then because of course I was slack and didn't arrange transfer of my access 10 years in advance because I was preoccupied with freaking out about the fact that I wasn't freaking out yet.

Finally on Thursday the phone guy turns up to pluggle me in.  He had a little box with wires and lights which he fiddled with for a while, then he made a phone call, then he told me I was good to go.  So I pluggled myself in and it worked!  Except it was really slow.  Reeeeeeeally slow.

Which was strange because it was only one of the three computers in the house which was slow.  Yes, I know that three computers between two people is stupid, but one of them belongs to the university, so it's not my fault.

So I, having Masters degrees in Engineering and Computer Science, decided I could fix it.  So I broke it.  And then none of the computers could pluggle in any more.  Sad face.

I spent several hours fiddling around with the acronyms on my modem on Friday.  I fiddled with the PPPoE, the DNS, the SSID, and the PSK.  I became so enraged that I contracted a cold and went to bed angry and congested.

I got up this morning and drove off to uni so I pluggle myself into the computers there.  And that was when I realized that I must have forgotten my ISP password.  Slap.

So I came home and called the ISP and asked them to reset my password.  They told me it would take effect within 15 minutes.  So I waited 16 minutes just to be sure, and then spent the next few hours fiddling with more acronyms to no avail.

I became so enraged that I sat on the couch and studied obstetrics and gynaecology.  Which enraged me further because it now becomes apparent that there's more to it than I suspected.  So I did some crosswords, but that also enraged me because one of the answers turned out to be soup├žon which is, in my opinion, a stupid French word.

So I pluggled myself back into the computer and for whatever reason, it worked without me changing any acronyms at all.  What the hell?  This country is stuffed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Disease of the week

I got excited the other day because I peered over a doctor's shoulder at a patient's notes, and saw that one of their previous illnesses listed was ELEPHANTIASIS.

Wow!  What are the odds of that?  I started looking at the patient, trying to figure out which bit of them was affected.  Hmm.  They looked normal enough to me.  So I glanced back at the notes.

ELEPHANTIASIS?  No - BLEPHARITIS.  Inflamed eyelid.  How dull.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I think I can

Why yes, I did have a lovely weekend.  Thank you for asking!  We got out of town and caught up with lots of old friends, all of whom happen to have young children.  It was tiring, as young children are, but none of our friends have gone completely insane and some of them have even had second children, so it was encouraging for me and my Smaller Half and gave us a sense that we could perhaps cope with the coming onslaught. 

Thanks friends!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sharp as a razor

Stoner Girl
Hey, are you pregnant?

Smaller Half (8 months pregnant)

Stoner Girl

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Suits me

Brrrrrring!  Brrrrrring!


Gym Person
Hello, I'm Gym Person.  I'm just calling to check if you know that we have new spray tanning booths being installed next week.

Oh, that's exciting!

Gym Person
Yes, so if you have any women or you need a tan you can get it done right here for only $25.

I have no idea what she meant by "if you have any women".  I'm hoping she just mis-spoke because she was so startled by my rapturous enthusiasm for spray tan booths.