After breakfast, were going to go food shopping, but got waylaid by swings and slides in a vest pocket park. Also they were doing road repairs, and Wallstreet needed to watch the machines doing their thing. Finally got to supermarket and kids fell asleep in car, so I'm watching them / typing this while Nom buys the provisionsJ
I've mentioned that I go to the Ste Anne's Veterans Hospital once/month to see patients. It's sometimes an interesting variation on my usual practice, sometimes depressing, but I'm always proud and a bit humbled to be taking care of these WW II vets. When the previous Derm gave up the position because she was stretched too thin, I took it over because as a veteran myself, I felt it was right that I be the one to do so.
About a year ago, as the number of eligible vets continued to decline, ownership of the hospital passed from the federal government to the province, who is using it for chronic care of the elderly, not just veterans. This is a population who deserves service too, but I'm here specifically for the vets. A few months ago, the provincial health care system underwent a typical bureaucratic reshuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic ("to serve you better"), so support services have declined even further. In the hall where I come in, they had a series of paintings depicting Canadian military aviation history. Today when I came in,they were gone. The sour taste that left, combined with my needing to consolidate my activities has me starting to look for a replacement for myself to cover the Ste Anne's. I'll be a little sad to leave, but only a little. The reason I came there is fading, and other priorities are growing.
After I retired, I wasn't going to wear bits of the uniform. Unless you're going hunting (which is to say never, in my case), you look like a dork wearing camouflage, and I'd only wear the dress uniform if there was some sort of ceremony. Nom did wear my old field jacket at one point. That point was when she was pregnant with our first, it was winter and she wasn't going to buy a brand new winter coat for 3 months of her life, especially when her pregnant wore the same size coat as I do not pregnant. I must say she looked a lot cuter in it than I ever did.
On the other hand, underwear is underwear, and I hate waste (and my waist hadn't changed), so why not use the shorts. I did try using the t-shirts, but only worked under a dark colored, buttoned up shirt, and it got silly deciding what days I would wear it. Still have some of the PT (eg work out) gear, but I confess I don't do that much now.
Anyhow, 5-1/2 years after retiring, that last pair finally gave up the ghost.
I feel something, but not as much as I thought I would. Not that I'm attached to my underwear, but as some little bit of symbolism. When I retired, I told myself that I'd always be a Soldier. (It helped get me through the depressed feelings when I retired after 32+ years in the military.) It's true, but every year the feeling is less intense. Maybe it would be different if I'd been full time Active Duty, and now spent half my time hanging out at the Legion hall, but that wasn't, and isn't, my life and career. As I type this statement of how much the Army isn't a part of me, I realize I'm getting ever so slightly misty eyed, so clearly it is still a part of me. Good. It was a big chunk of my life, a big part of what makes me who and what I am, something that I want to pass on to my kids.
Must be the influence of the Grand Prix, but I had a flat tire (turned out there was a nail in it). No place open on the weekend, and had errands to run, so actually had remember how to change a tire: my little bit of playing Formula One Pit Crew.
Trotted down to the garage with 2 toddlers in tow (and MIL to make sure the toddlers stayed in tow, didn't get run over, and didn't get underneath the jacked up car). They were a big help. For instance, first Wallstreet would pick up a lug nut (well, MIL picked it up and handed it to him, then he gave it to Hedgefund, who would try to put it on, then hand it to me (she hasn't quite mastered the screw thread). She also held the light when I needed it (this being modern era, I used the one on my phone, and she sometimes even pointed it in the right direction). I tried explaining things to her as I went along. Hard to say how much she actually absorbed, but likes "working" with her Papa. Frankly, if she just absorbs the concept of "you can fix stuff for yourself when you need/want to, it was a success involving her.
As for manliness, there are two schools of thought on this. One says that a "real man" handles all mechanical and physical tasks himself. The other says that a "real man" gets a good job, then can pay other people to do them for him. I don't actually attend either school, but do feel…
<Okay, just interrupted my typing this to engage in the manly art of changing a diaper. Really, not making this up. Where was I?>
… that it is important to be competent in basic life skills, which include driving, cooking… well lots of stuff. Changing a tire is arguable, but being the son of Mr. Fixit, I certainly do know how to do that. I don't think it's un-feminine/un-womanly to be able to change a tire, although I did grow up in an era where the way women changed a flat tire was to stand by the car on the side of the road, looking fetchingly distressed and helpless. (These days, when knights in shining armor are more likely rapists, we have a family CAA membership for such emergencies.)
BTW, I loath the now-universal "space saver" spares, and European style scissor jacks. They really don't work as well as old-fashioned bumper jacks, although not necessarily any less stable (the late Mr. Fixit had only 9-and-a-half fingers as proof of that). On the other hand, the don't make 'em like they used to, which is a good thing for tires. It's rare enough to have a flat these days that it was briefly touch-and-go to remember how to change a tire. When my parents went on their honeymoon, they borrowed a car from a relative. The old style (c. 1940's) cars had 2 spares mounted on the running boards. They had 3 flats.
This weekend is the Grand Prix in Montreal. Grand Prix racing is even more boring than NASCAR. At least in NASCAR you can see the entire circuit as cars go 'round and 'round in an incredibly boring and predictable fashion. And if there is that one moment of interest (aka a life-threatening car crash) you will certainly see it. In Grand Prix, if you are there, you only get to see your one little corner of the track… as cars go 'round and 'round in an incredibly boring and predictable fashion. And if there is that one moment of interest (aka a life-threatening car crash) you will only see it if it happens at your one little corner of the track.
In the week leading up to it, there are various festivities designed to stimulate interest (you can see how well that works on me) and snarl downtown traffic. There is also the predictible moralists and feminists complaining about the increase in prositution (as opposed what happens during any other sporting - or rather "sporting" - event or convention that comes to town).
Yeah, so downtown was snarled yesterday by displays of cars with pretty woman standing next to them. Fortunately I was walking, so wasn't frustrated by the traffic jams. Unfortunately, I was walking, so I had to see the displays. Maybe I'm elderly and jaded, but I know what cars look like, and I know what women look like. If I really feel the need to see the one standing by the other, I'll ask Nom to come down to the garage with me. At least that's a woman I care to see.
They drove up Saturday, did some stuff during the day while I was at the conference, then met us for dinner at Gibby's, a steak house (well, lots of different foods) that's in an historical building. Great atmostphere, great food, great company.
The next morning we had brunch at Spanel, our fav crepe place that I've mentioned before. Nom and MIL took the kids to the park, while Bob & family & I went to the Chagall exhibit (see post a bit ago). Nom didn't have much interest in going, Bob and I really enjoyed it, and his family at least tolerated it After that, we went for a walk up Mt Royal. Despite Montrealers pride in it, it's really more of a large hill, formed by a (we hope extinct) volcano. First we went to the tamtamjam, then hiked up the mountain. Due to my poor land navigation skills, we spent more time going up than we should have, and due to my lack of exercise these days, my calves were sore for days afterwards. When we move, I swear I'm going to start exercising regularly again.
It was good seeing them. Would be nice to get together semi-regularly, but we live relatively far apart, and don't have any reasons to be in the same area anymore. We'll see what happens, but I suppose there's a lot of that in life. More in active duty military, but a fair amount in the reserves when you've gotten up to a higher level.
Last weekend (well, weekend before last by now) was the annual conference of the ADQ (Association des dermatologistes de Québec.) I don't usually go, but it was in Montreal this time, and I was asked to speak. Cool, I'm now an official conference speaker. Even got paid for it. (Could have put in for travel expenses, but not worth filling out paperwork for "two Metro rides.")
Why don't I usually go? Partly because I don't like to be away from home these days, partly because it's rather bush-league (in retrospect yes-and-no), partly because almost all in French. Why did I go? Partly because it was in town, partly because I was asked to speak on Cutaneous Lymphoma and if I'm going to be the local expert I have to act the part, partly because even local conference do get good and more-than-local-level speakers, and partly because I actually do (mostly) understand French. Also, I usually avoid the business meetings for most assemblies, but with all the shake-ups in the reimbursement system by our brilliant Health Minister, I thought I should go to that part also.
There really were some good talks, even if most of the speakers were local/semi-local (eg Ottawa or Quebec City): medical emergencies on airplanes, better use of lab tests, cutaneous lymphoma (*bows theatrically*), update on immunizations, how to teach Generation Y, biofilms, phototherapy.
I think my talk was well received. The informal feedback was good, but since hard to tell if people just being polite, I'll wait for the official feedback. (Unlike the last CME I gave, don't think I'll get a "sacrée vache, c'etait bon!" partly because that just doesn't translate.) I don't do so many of these that I'm blaise about giving talks: I'm not completely comfortable going into them. (Okay, I keep thinking someone is going to jump up and say "are you freakin' kidding us? What kinda junk is that?" or asking questions I can't answer.); and I greatly appreciate positive comments. The full title of my talk was: Cutaneous Lymphoma: What Every Dermatologist Should Know. (Yes, I spoke in English. I speak French, but not well enough to give a formal presentation.) It was geared to exactly what the title says. Cutaneous Lymphomas are a group of rare diseases, and out of the 2-dozen related obscure entities in this group, what are the ones that the average dermatologist will likely see at some time in his/her career, and what to do about them (besides sending to me). I think I really have developed the ability to take a subject and present the essentials clearly.
The admin part of the meeting was tolerable, but actually I knew most of what they had been presenting, because, uh, I've been paying attention to the emails that have been sent out. It was clear from most of the questions that most people weren't paying attention to those emails. This was a major mistake, because they concern our livelihood.
Although I'm not a very social person, the social aspects were good too. I didn't go the evening dinners and receptions (there was that "I want to be home with my family" thing). At the breaks and luncheons, I did catch up with people I hadn't seen in a while: colleagues of long-standing, and former-residents who are now colleagues. Lunch on Friday was at a very good local restaurant (there was a choice of three, most people went to the better known one, but I never liked that as much so went to Club Chasse et Peche which is a restaurant, not a rod and gun club). Lunch on Saturday was catered in the conference center (Marché Bonsecours in Old Montreal) and was totally unimpressive (I mean, I'm pretty sure even upscale lobster rolls are supposed to have lobster in them.)
I'm happy with what I learned, with the social aspects, and with my presentation. All told, good conference. Next year it's in Quebec City; will have to see if the family is up for going.
(It's been quite a while since I've posted. I hate when real life interferes with blogging. We resume with an adventure in cultural elitism.)
Last weekend while my friends were here*, we want to the Chagall exhibit at MBAM (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal). It was somewhat multimedia, with both his paintings and scupture and costumes (for ballet and theater), with a background of klezmer music playing. I loved it. Chagall had never really done much for me. He seemed to be a little weird for the sake of being weird. This time it really spoke to me. I appreciated the surreal, fantastical nature of his art and what it was saying. I think the fantastical work appealed to my fantastical side. I don't know if the fantastical is something in my (ethnically) Jewish side. As I've mentioned before, I'm not even slightly religious, and even much of the ethnic aspects tick me off, but there is some self-identity / cultural thread of it running through me. There's an odd, apparently contradictory mix of the highly logical and the fantastical. In me, it's not so much that they alternate; both are always present at all times. (BTW, both can tick people off. Am thinking of printing up a t-shirt: "Jews, pissing you off for 5777 years") I'm really glad I went. I got an new appreciation for Chagall, and for myself.
MBAM has gotten much better over the years. When I was first here, many of the exhibits almost seemed like they were just displaying posters and prints of exhibits from better museums. Now they are really first rate: good works of art, well presented. Also, I think I've gotten more true appreciation for art in the past several years. I always did go to museums, but part (only part) of that was "I'm the sort of person who is supposed to enjoy museums, so I'm going to go." The last several exhibits I've been to I really enjoyed.
*The cliché is that it's the wife wants to go to the cultural activities and drags the husband, especially someone as conservative as my friend: retired after 30 years Army Reserve, still State Trooper, thinks the John Birch Society is too liberal. As it turns out, he's the one who drags the family to the cultural events. Another cliché shot to hell.
Okay, I know it's Ramadan. (Ramadan Mubarak to my Muslim Gentle Readers, which I also wished by my Muslim friends while resisting the temptation to loudly and visibly eat and drink in front of them.) Apparently it's also Shavuot (shows just how bad I am at being a Jew that I didn't know it until I got into the hospital today.) I'm not sure what Shavuot celebrates* but it seems that part of it is a dietary stricture that all the coffee shops be closed. What-The-Heck? Coffee is kosher. I'm pretty sure that there is nothing in the Torah that says "Thou Shalt Not Drink Coffee on This Day." Harrumph. (My Resident was also in caffeine withdrawal and went across the street to that Great Canadian Institution and The Temple-Of-Bad-Coffee-and-Donuts, Tim Horton's. I don't like Timmies? I guess I'm also a bad Canuck).
*That was for dramatic effect. I know perfectly well that it celebrates being given the Torah, which is to say the original concept of codified law.
It is the 375th Birthday of the founding of the now-City of Montreal. On May 17, 1642, the city was founded by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, who led French missionaries and settlers onto the island. (The First Nations would disagree with the term "founding" in this sense.)
There are all sorts of celebrations today and all year, none of which I'm going to be attending. I'll wait for the 400th anniversary, because (a) I like round numbers, 375 is lame, and (b) the kids will be old enough to go see the shows.
I pointed out my print of Roman Vishniac, who photo-documented the now-vanished inter-war life in the old Jewish Quarter in Warshaw. The mother thought she recognized the street.
People like that put "first world problem" whiners in perspective.
If this place looked any worse, our new address would be Emerald City, Oz.
Finally got to use a joke that I've been saving for over a year, waiting for someone to inadvertently give me the straight line.* I had taken Hedgefund to the Market. She wanted to take her toy stroller with her toutou, so I pushed the big stroller empty. May look strange going there, but I know that she'll get tired on the way back, then if I didn't have the stroller, I'd have to carry her, her stroller, her toutou, and the groceries by hand. This way, I could put her and everything else in the big stroller.
While at the market, ran into some people I knew. They looked at the empty stroller and asked if Nom and Wallstreet were inside one of the shops. I said, "no, Wallstreet's right here…" turned to look at the (empty) stroller, effected a look of surprise, and exclaimed, "Wallstreet! How many times do I have to tell you not to turn invisible when we're out. *Sigh* Kids and their superpowers!"
*I once waited over twenty years for the straight line to something. I was in Boston with my then g.f. (I think it was when I was in Medical School). Coming out of a small restaurant, I overheard another customer ask the cashier, "How do you get to Boston Symphony Hall." I tapped him on the shoulder and solemnly informed him, "Practice man, practice."
She doesn't like people. If she sees/interacts with something she doesn't like, she says, "go away xxx." Example: she turned around without looking where she was going and bashed into the door. "Go away, door." At one point she announced, "go away everyone."
Hedgefund took pictures of me and Wallstreet today. She's "taken pictures" before, in the sense of picking up my phone, and realizing that when she pressed the little picture (camera icon), it made a "click" noise (and maybe a flash). She had no idea this was taking pictures, but it was fun for her to do 1 or 2 (or 50) times in a row. This time she picked up the phone, and announced that she was going to take a picture of "Papa and Baby."
Will have to work a bit on the framing (also see attached).
Only 2 out of 11 were framed well, but that's on a par with most adults from what I've seen. I grew up with film (for my younger Gentle Readers, ask your parents/grandparents), which means it learned that it costs money if you don't frame shots correctly the first time, so I'm good at it (plus having inherited Mom's artistic eye).
Other new capabilites? Nom and I were sitting in the den, and she walked (can't even really call it toddling anymore) in with a bottle of milk. She also can pour her own milk: open the fridge, take out the pitcher of milk, take out bottle, and pour from the one to the other without getting too much of it on the floor (and wipes it up if she does).
At this rate, I'll get to retire sooner than I thought.