Monday, February 28, 2011

No verbs please, we're British

The anaesthetist I was with one day this week was a strange chap.  Only once did he initiate conversation.  He was happy to answer questions and did so most informatively.  But it was as if he was simply at a loss for anything to talk about unless I raised a topic myself.  Either that or he was perhaps a sunflower in disguise and was unaware of the basic human need for interconnectedness.

The only time he spoke to me unprompted was towards the end of the list, after we had wrestled the patient off the theatre table and onto the bed, and we were starting to roll her out to the recovery ward.  He looked at me and said, "Theatre dress standards.  Mask on.  Mask off."

I was bemused by this.  Had he suddenly morphed into Mr Miyagi from The Karate Kid?  Or perhaps he had had a stroke affecting that part of his brain which controls the use of verbs and articles?  I knew I had to figure it out soon because he was staring at me quite pointedly.  Or, to be precise, staring at my neck.

Aha!  He was staring at my theatre mask, which I had pulled down off my face so it hung around my neck.  I reached up and pulled it off and hung my head in shame at my gross blunder.  As we left the theatre, I glanced back at the other staff, my cheeks burning, wondering who else had been a witness.

And I noticed that every single person in the room was wearing their mask around their neck.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Perfect Symmetry

Special Operations Paramedic
I don't get paid for what I do.  I get paid for what I can do.

Same here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Education revolution

Here are the facts:
  • Girls get better educational outcomes in single sex schools.
  • Boys get better educational outcomes in mixed schools.
  • Girls who go to single sex schools seem reasonably normal.
  • Boys who go to single sex schools are thuggish ruffians of the first water.
So sadly it seems that we either have single sex schools and the boys lose out or co-ed schools and the girls lose out.  Unless ... unless ... someone, somehow, can come up with an ingenious scheme whereby we can have the best of both worlds.  But who could possibly be so clever?  Who amongst us, what paragon of untrammelled creativity, could draw together these disparate threads and weave a tapestry to hang high above us all and show the way to salvation?  Who?


My simple proposal is that all classrooms should be fitted with one-way mirrors down their length.  Boys and girls would be separated by the glass such that the boys could see the girls but not vice versa. 


Thursday, February 24, 2011

On sunflowers

Sunflowers are creepy.

Let's face it - they don't look real at all.  They look like a bad drawing of a flower.  Or someone taking the piss out of flowers.  Or - and think about this carefully, your life may depend upon it - they look like something else entirely that is pretending to be a plant.

Something from a far away place.  Something that doesn't understand what humans expect plants to look like.  So they disguised themselves as these spindly things with flappy leaves and strange giant faces, thinking that they could watch us incognito.  But we're onto them.  We know that they waddle around in the black of night, making their reports and issuing recommendations for our eventual disposal or enslavement.  And when we we drive past them in their fields they give themselves away by all doing the same thing and looking in the same direction at the same time.

It's a conspiracy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Good questions

Does hard steel soften like wax underfoot?
Do your hands lie to your eyes?
Do your teeth snap like a fox trap?
Are you seized by revolting compulsions?
Do you dwell on painful thoughts?
Does the knife-edge make you blink and tremble?
Do your limbs yield to gravity with no warning?
Is your coffee tainted by memories?

Monday, February 14, 2011

In which I manage to start insulting people before lunch on day one

Anusthetics tech
... whereas this machine here is no longer compliant with the required standards because it doesn't have a negative polarity flux inverter on the hyperspace motivator, so we'll be getting rid of it by the end of the year.

So will it get sent off to a developing nation like New Zealand?  Ha ha ha.

Anusthetics tech
I'm from New Zealand.

And what a beautiful country it is.  I loved Lord Of The Rings!

Suspicious minds

Some people might find it refreshing to have a mattress that has been delicately scented with the aroma of limes.  Perhaps if you ate a lot of corn chips or thai food in bed it would be great.  But I just can't help lying there wondering what it is that the mattress would otherwise smell of that the manufacturers don't want me to notice.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Spot diagnosis?

So yesterday I gave a talk to the various paramedics, nurses, registrars and consultants at the end of my first rotation.  I was pretty tense about the whole thing since I was basically getting up and talking to them about stuff that they do every day whereas I have only a pretty tenuous grip on.  So I used my most wily of tricky tricks to make them feel like they couldn't be too cruel and rend me limb from stinking limb for my ignorance.  Trick number one was to put my most cuterest picture of the Hatchling as the first slide in my presentation to make them all go "awwwww". 

So I flashed up the picture and before I could say a word, one of the doctors in the front row who I've spent a bit of time with shouted out, "Noonan syndrome!"

Oh how we laughed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Whither blob?

So, let's brush past the alarming fact that the majority of you seem to think that the Kurgan could take out Reepicheep in a cage-fight.  I don't care to dwell on that thank-you.

What I want to talk about, once I've made it clear that I in no way condone the sale of unpasteurized milk products, is that there seems to be some confusion about the purpose of this blob.  Recent comments seemed to invite me to wax philosophical but were in fact simply traps to tempt me to engage in the quoting of lyrics from awful 90's dance hits.  Eurgh.  Somehow some readers seem to have gotten the idea that this would be fun.

To address this issue I have put up a poll, to the right.  (No, your right.)  Please vote for the things that you think this blob should focus on.  You can choose multiple options, of course.  Nobody wants to be like a dog racing in a trench.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Certain words

One of my favourite words at the moment is "certain".  Not in the sense of "sure", but in the sense of "particular".  I like it because using the word "certain" can change the whole flavour of your sentence, creating an illusionary air of informativeness whilst actually contributing nothing specific that can come back to hurt you.
Here's an example - consider this sentence:
"Whilst reversing out of my driveway I sideswiped my neighbours' cars."
And now consider it rewritten slightly to include the word "certain":
"Whilst reversing out of my driveway I sideswiped certain neighbours' cars."
In one fell swoop I have gone from being a klutzy driver to a malevolent vandal.  The word "certain" has transformed the event from accident to incident.

And think about this one:
"During attempts at resuscitation by emergency department staff, the patient expired."
Which then becomes:
"During attempts at resuscitation by certain emergency department staff, the patient expired."
Or even this:
"During certain attempts at resuscitation by emergency department staff, the patient expired."
The first is a statement of fact, the second is an insinuation of incompetence, the third makes you wonder if they were using smoked kippers and AAA batteries to try to revive the poor guy.

So here's my tip of the day.  Try slipping the word "certain" into otherwise innocuous sentences and see what happens.  Even if it all blows up in your face you can just claim that certain people took your remarks out of context.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wasting rice

One of my hobbies that I just invented for the purposes of this post is collecting sayings relating to the wasting of rice.  I'd never heard of such a thing until my Smaller Half told me about some of the dreadful things her parents used to say to her to get her to eat all her rice.  Apparently this is something of a tradition in families from cultures where rice is king.  They used to say to her:
Every grain of rice you don't eat will be a pockmark on your face when you grow up.
But what really piqued my interest was that they didn't say that to her brother.  To him they said,
Every grain of rice you don't eat will be a pockmark on your wife's face when you grow up.
Ah, the gender politics of grain consumption.

I came across two more when reading Maeve O'Meara's Food Safari yesterday.  From Vietnam we have:
Every grain of rice you waste becomes a maggot that you have to eat in Hell.
Ingenious, not only because of the rice=maggot image that lingers in your mind for far too long, especially if you eat rice regularly, but because of the inbuilt assumption that you're going to Hell anyway.

And from Japan we have:
Be careful when washing rice - if even one grain goes down the drain, you'll go blind.
At first glance this really ups the ante - blindness for just one grain!  But in my opinion it's misguided.  Once that first grain is lost by accident - and accidents happen - further losses are insufficiently disincentivized.

If any of you were threatened in brutal or baroque ways by your parents for wasting rice, I'd like to hear about it.  Please, for the sake of future generations, speak up!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Words of wisdom

This is, apparently, everything you need to know about emergency medicine:
  • Assume nothing
  • Trust no-one
  • Give oxygen
I think I just need to work on the second one.