warriorsavant: (Wedding/Romance)
We were almost too tired to go away but wanted to break up the period of "kids off from day care" and of winter cold. Also we'd already booked the 5 days away, so off we went. Any doubts about that's being the right decision were erased when we got to our hotel and stood on the outside walkway looking at the ocean (well Gulf of Mexico to be precise). In the warmth. Had sudden urge to change careers to "inspect sunsets through bottom of beer stein while sitting on a beach." Unlikely to actually happen anytime soon, but very strong urge. (On the other hand, summers there are unbearably hot and humid, so beginning to understand snow birds.) Since not actually moving anytime soon, do need to make sure the kids know how to skate and ski and other activities that make one enjoy winter (at least until they go to Med School at UBC (or possibly U Hawaii).

Downside was the long traveling (basically first and last day spent in transit) and that we all came down sick and spent most of the last day sitting around the hotel feeling miserable and puking. Upside was warm and relaxing and beautiful.

Impressions )

Some specifics )

L'envoi. “Goodbye ocean, goodbye palm trees, goodbye warm weather"
warriorsavant: (Renovations)
This does feel like my home now. Mostly. Had a moment driving back from JGH. As came downhill on one street, thought, "I should drive by the house on my way back home." (That's what I would usually do coming back there to home.) Then a sinking feeling of, "Oh… that is home now." Other than that, doing great, and really am settling in (it's been just over a week now).

I'm pleased with a bit of cleverness I put into the design of the master bathroom. We have a double sink. Probably an extravagance, because really never felt the lack of it when only had a single bathroom sink, but it seemed like the thing to do. One thing I've always found foolish, and detested, is that the bathroom mirror is behind the sink(s), which is just a little too far away (for shaving for me, or for applying make-up for Nom). Everybody shaving or applying make-up (unless you have a little additional make-up mirror) compensates by leaning forward awkwardly. I designed the sinks so that the countertop between the two sinks is recessed, putting me (or Nom) 12-18" away from the mirror, which is just the right distance. (The entire area behind the sinks is mirrored to make the room brighter and bigger and lighter, but this is the bit that we actually use for well, looking at ourselves.)

I'm also pleased with a bit of stylish décor we added. (Have to thank Sky, our friend and decorator, for the idea. Wanted to post a photo sequence approaching this, but too hard to upload here.) On the long wall between the master bedroom and the attic stairs is a mural of the NYC skyline. (Digitally printed on wallpaper-like heavy vinyl material. There's a local company that does these.) It's half-hidden. As you come up the main stairs to the 2nd floor, you don't see it. The mains stairs, like most of the house, is in very classic style. When you get to the hallway upstairs, and turn left, suddenly you see the mural. Very striking because it's a contrasting style to the rest of the house and décor, and because it's the NYC skyline. Sounds jarring to describe; well, it is a bit jarring to see, but in a very good way. Sky had wanted trees/forest design, but the New Yorker in me insisted on the skyline, and it really works.
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
There's a trend in bathrooms to replace entirely separate mens and womens rooms with individual stalls off of a common area which contains the sinks. I think that is 1 part being trans- friendly, 1 part being trendy, and 1 part - well 8 parts - saving money on sinks and the attendant square footage. When I was down in NYC, I walked into what I thought was the mens room. In fact, it had both male and female restroom symbols on the door, but my eyes focused on what I was looking for, ignoring the other. I walked in, saw 3 young women, and recoiled out of there, with apologies on my lips and visions of being arrested on my mind. They laughed, and I realized what the bathroom actually was: unisex/universal sink area, with private stalls for whoever needed one. It works well in restaurants which only need a few stalls, not sure how it would work in an airport, which needs hundreds or thousands.
warriorsavant: (Cafe)
I'm boring these days. All I do is babble about the wonders of my kid, rather than stuff about going off to war. Yup, I'm boring, and I love it. Actually, recently found printouts of emails from my deployment to Iraqi Freedom in 2002-3. I'd emailed my brother, who printed them out and snail mailed them to our parents (who didn't use computers), and they eventually gave the hard copies to me. Frankly, much of those are also day-to-day trivia, but wars are 99% boredom (and 1% sheer terror).

Another striking change in my life is that my condo is messier and less "adult" than ever. Doubt that will change in the next decade or two. I always admired classy, classic, adult décor. Most of my life I was too peripatetic to have that. Since setting up this place, I definitely achieved that: nice furniture, objets d'art, and memorabilia of my travels. Now, the more fragile items are put away, and there is baby-stuff everywhere. I do miss having a place that looks urban sophisticated, but enjoy Hedgefund more than I miss the other. I will have that look again some day, plus a child as well.

Speaking of Hedgefund, she’s starting to walk. So far, it's only 2-3 steps at a time. I don’t expect her to do more than that right now; “one does not just simply walk into Mordor.” She is starting slowly and cautiously. I think she is going to be like her old man, a cautious adventurer.
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
We take a brief break from discussing the wonders of my newborn to babble about my day.
Not quite starting back at work, but doing a few hours of teaching this week. McGill, along with all other Canadian Universities, has revamped its curriculum to be more problem-oriented. For generations, medical schools have been stupidly organized, with the first 1.5-2 years being rote memorization of basic sciences, which you only learn how to apply (if at all) in the next 2.5-3 years. For years, successful, brilliant, senior physicians have gone back and audited medical school classes and universally reported back that this was an idiotic way to do things.* In recent years, there has been a move to revamp all the curriculae to be "problem oriented," meaning start with teaching what patients actually present in your office with, then work backwards from there to understand what could cause the problem (physically or socially or mentally), what is the basic science behind that mechanism, then work forward again to how to address it. Like anything, works better in theory than in practice, but works much better in practice than the old system. There is also more emphasis on students learning how to find out the answers themselves.

Anyhow, that being said, today I was giving the Intro to Derm lecture to the 1st year students.** Admittedly the Intro lecture is not problem focused. No matter how "problem focused" you are, you still need to learn the basic vocabulary of a field, and Derm has specialized vocabulary even within medicine. I enjoy teaching, and even in a lecture hall, try to have some interaction.

This was held at the old Medical and Dental building on the main campus. Like many Universities in N. America, McGill was built in the Imitation Oxford / Scottish Baronial Style. I confess, curmudgeon that I am, I love that style. McGill is pushing 2 centuries now (founded 1821), but the current buildings aren't that old. I believe the original buildings were whatever was available, surrounding a cow pasture. You had to step carefully walking across said pasture, as the cows left their droppings. It's apropos: "teaching is like throwing manure against a wall; some of it sticks."

I'd parked across the street at one of the hospitals (since I have a monthly pass). Coming out, I was parked in. The car jockey asked me if I could drive a stick shift; seems the car parking me in was a manual transmission and he didn't know how to drive one. (They don't make car jockeys like they used to...) Fortunately I do know. The Chief of Derm was pulling in as I pulled out, and looked at me strangely. I just explained I was tired of Dermatology and had taken up a new profession.

After that stopped by the office to say hi to Evil Secretary (and check my mail and show her baby pix), ran a few errands, then went home to the important things in my life.

*Dr. Robert Goldstein, who was Dean of Students when I was in Medical School, did likewise in later years, and came to the same conclusion. Of all the administration, he was the one who was held in the greatest respect by students and faculty alike.
**Prior to the new curriculum, we only gave the students 4.5 hours of required Derm teaching (which is 3.5 more than I had in medical school). Between lectures and seminars and in-clinic shadowing, we've upped it to over 30 (yup, I'm a crafty little devil).
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
Had a Derm conference, a.k.a. a tax-deductible chance to visit my family (yes, I really went to the conference too). It was sandwiched between two other things, so made for a quick trip: only 1 show and 2 museums; not even enough time to round up the usual suspects. Nom was disappointed she couldn't join me, but it's "that time of month." (She's a corporate accountant and it's month end. What did you think I meant?)

Click here for fascinating details )
warriorsavant: (Venice)
Maison de Jazz is a well-known jazz club in Montreal. Not quite as famous as New York's Blue Note, but up there. We caught the show last night, which was top notch. And unlike Blue Note, you are not crammed in cheek by jowl, you have some elbow room. If you're in town, pass on the food, but go for the drinks and the music and the decor. Yeah, the decor. The jazz was worth it, but the decor was a mix of jazz club, Turkish seraglio, and Dodge City saloon.


Jul. 29th, 2012 11:24 am
warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)

I'm back. No need to call the FBI, Australian Federal Police, Interpol, or RCMP. Certainly no need to call the Spanish Cuerpo Nacional de Policia, as they knew where we were. We were in Spain, specifically Madrid, Toledo, and Barcelona. Had great time. Took copious notes which I will post in bits.

Spain –- Prolog (Thu) )
Spain – 1 (Fri) Madrid - first impressions )
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)

It was the fete national in Quebec, so we had a long weekend. By happy coincidence, posted yesterday, I had an Army ceremony to attend. In addition to that, it was a fun whirlwind weekend of friends, family, and New York. (Yup, lots of tags. Really was a good weekend.

The City )

warriorsavant: (Default)
Went to an interesting talk last night by Roy Doliner, co-author of The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican. The talk was about his discoveries as noted in that book. (Despite my resolution not to buy any more books until I get through the ones already stacked up in the nightstand and on the iPad, I couldn't resist ordering a copy. I'm not very good a resisting temptation, especially books or food.)

The background is that Michelangelo was raised and educated (under Lorenzo the Magnificent) in Florence, which was the well-spring of the the Italian Renaissance, and very enlighten about tolerance (e.g. to Jewish and other minorities) and interested in ancient wisdom. Since they were a bit short on ancient Babylonians, they studied Jewish learning. They, including Michelangelo, were not Jewish and didn't want to be, but searched out all sources of knowledge. Michelangelo became a sculptor, and only reluctantly painted. He got drafted by Pope Julius Second to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. (BTW, so named because it was started by Pope Sistus IV. Coincidently started in the year of Michelangelo's birth.) Roman was a very intolerant city at the time, and Michelangelo hated painting and loathed Pope Julius. He got his revenge by painting any number of subtle insults to that Pope into the work, and only painting Old Testament iconography (and that following Jewish versions of the work, not Christian).

Sounds rather Dan Brown-ish, but this was real. Interesting information, and very well-presented.

NYC - cont

Apr. 29th, 2012 12:29 pm
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
Drinks in the theater were one thing I forgot to mention about the other night. Used to be that could only have your drink in the lobby bar, but the theater had a policy of allowing you to take it into the theatre proper, but had to be in a spill-proof cup. Yup, watched the show drinking my rum and coke from a sippy cup. The cultural adventures continued the next with...

Grand Central Station is worth a visit for its architectural splendor. The high, vaulted ceiling of the great hall is painted with the stars of the night sky, with the constellations of  the zodiac outlined in gold. After a stroll through the station, I went to greet...

The Library Lions guarding the 42d street library. The one on the left (as you look from the street) is Patience. The one on the right, Fortitude. They guard civilization in their way as I guard it in mine. My den/library at home in Montreal is guarded by their little brothers. They're miniatures sold as bookends, but I use them as doorstops/guards. It is, after all, my library, and libraries should be guarded by lions. I didn't go into the library, but to sooth my bibliophilia, I stopped by...

Argosy Books which carries antique books and prints. I would pay admission just to go in there and be surrounded by the ambience and smell. Eventually got to the conference which is (allegedly) why I'm here in NYC...

Atlantic Dermatology Conference's first day sessions were talks. They were okay, but nothing inspiring. The problem with going to too many conferences is that the same people speak at them. After a while, you know what they are going to say, as you've heard it already. Also, they get asked to speak because they've published articles in important journals, and I read those journals. If I pick up a pointer or two from each talk, it's a good day. Also, the snacks at the breaks were really sub-par (yeah, even at conferences I'm a food snob), so that night, WWC and I ate at... 

The Tuck Shop is not exactly fine dining. There is a mini-trend in Montreal to give trendy restos humble names (Tuck Shop, Mess Hall, Cafeteria), but this was anti-trendy. Started by an Australian immigrant, and serving pies and such with an Australian flavor. Had the steak and mushroom pie. Don't know how authentic it was (hey, ecosopher, can you drop by this weekend to give us your opinion?), but it hit the spot. I may like good food, but I have eclectic tastes. Had spent a fair amount of time just walking around NYC, so the legs were stiff, and treated myself to...

A massage at a place WWC knows, where they found knots in muscles that I didn't even know I had - the muscles, I mean, not the knots. (Or is that knot the nots?) Very tiring to get a massage, so we treated ourselves to...

The Black Hound makes marvelous cakes and pastries. I did mention liking my food, didn't I? And I did need to fortify myself against the poor food on the second day of...

Atlantic Dermatology Conference's second day was the heart of the conference. This was the patient viewing. The ADC is not really an organization, it is sort of a federation of all the Dermatology societies and associations in eastern Canada and northeast US. Each year a different member society hosts the conference in their city. They get several dozen of the most exotic patients they can find. Each has a rare disease that you might see in your office only once or twice in your career, if you are lucky. The patients agree to sit in a room and have 100's of dermatologists come in and look at their skin findings over the course of three hours. There is a short write-up on each one, and discussion time later. (I skipped the discussion, as they have about 5 minutes apiece, and usually do little more than read their write-ups. I'm started reading up on each case, will take me a few weeks to get through all of them.)
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)

The new Hearst building is near my hotel. The outer, lower 6 stories are the original 1920’s building, done in a balanced mix of neo-classical and art deco (actually works). In the center of that is a new, glass and triangular-steel-brace tower, built to LEED Gold standards. The two complement each other nicely. It was amusing though, to read their blurb about the Hearst Corporation as this big, respected news and broadcast empire. Hearst was the Rupert Murdock of his day. Well that was then and this is now, and the building is great.

One “grrr” factor was transportation. (A) Parking was its usual abysmal, but (B) even the subway betrayed me. First, the L-train was out of service on the weekend, and had to take a cross-town bus, my least favorite mode of transportation. Then my farecard ran out, and it was a pain to recharge it. For some obscure reason, some machines only issue new cards, some recharge cards, some only take credit/debit cards, some will take cash. If you want to use a credit card, you have to enter your zip code. Note to NYC Transit Authority: “you might not have noticed, but people come from all over the world to visit NYC, and other countries do not have US zip codes.” You can go to a booth and talk to an actual person, but then you don’t get your 10% bonus for multiple rides. In “ye goode olde days” subways took a metal token, which is how it should be.* It was embossed with “NYC.” Actually, the N and the C were embossed, and the Y was a Y-shaped slot cut through the token (and you tended to poke your thumbnail through it). Small businesses would accept subway tokens as cash. (C)Even my fav mode of transportation let me down – namely shoe leather. The heel came off my shoes. This is my oldest (and most comfortable) shoes, and the heels and soles have been replaced many times, but this time it was an urgent repair. Fortunately found a shoe repair place near my sister’s.

In other good news, did get some stuff done for Dad, worked out this AM, had a slice of NYC pizza, and [livejournal.com profile] ravensron is in town briefly. It's for business, but we'll have a mini-family reunion

*This was back when Pluto was a planet, men were men, and sheep were nervous.

warriorsavant: (Default)
Background: War and Medicine is the title of the current exhibit at the new Canadian War Museum. Great exhibit, great museum (even if I did have to drive to Ottawa). Didn't really feel like getting on the road again this soon after I've gotten back, but the exhibit is closing soon. I'm a contributor to the museum, so I got free admission, VIP tour, and a behind the scenes tour, all of which was very cool. I don't get carried away with being a macher, but once in a while it's fun. The drive is usually rather boring, but there was good foliage, and drove out with DavidtheArchitect who is always good company (doubly so when appreciating the architecture of a new building). We got to go behind the scenes to the vaults with the uniforms and arms, and see where the did the cataloging and conservation work.
The Museum itself: Brilliant design (see http://www.warmuseum.ca/home/) No military equipment is displayed outside. They focused the design on the individual and the individual experience of war. The grounds are landscaped to look like a grown-over battlefield (eg undulating to represent lines of trenches, with depressions of old shell craters). The building has a fortress-like look, all angles and small windows, with a grass roof (both to be ecological and is if it were a camouflaged bunker). At night, one line of windows spell out the intials in Morse Code. The colors are subdued browns and greens and grays, like military gear. The floors and walls are not square - they are deliberately angled to give a feeling of being off-balance, since one is always off-balance in war. Some passages are narrowed, like passageways on a ship or a connecting passage in a bunker. One room, which has the headstone of the unknown Soldier (this was a Soldier from WWI, buried in France, and the headstone was moved from that cemetary) is very quite, with a reflecting pool, and 1 window. At 11:00 on November 11th, the sun through that window falls squarely on the headstone. (Canada, like most Commonwealth countries, holds great symbolism with the 11th hour motif of what they call Remembrance Day and America calls Veterans Day.)
War and Medicine exhibit: This too was brilliant, tracing military medical support from its earliest days to the modern era. Much of the factual part I already knew, but they presented it very well, very strikingly. I could identify with much of it - those are my boys and girls they're talking about, and my spiritual forebearers. Some of the modern equipment is the same as I'd carried one short month ago in Afghanistan.
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)

Apple Store - a triumph of glass construction - stairs and elevator, tables, the machines themselves.  Irony: Davidthearchitect taking a photo of the store on his (non-Apple) phone.  Nothing that couldn't see in an Apple Store in Montreal, but slightly more elegantly displayed, and much, much more of it.  Rather a metaphor for the difference between the two cities: both cutting edge, both elegant, but NYC just a little more so, and a lot more of everything.

Woodcutting contest on TV.  Glad they have all the big sports.

Christmas Day - never saw NYC so empty.

Taxi driver didn't know how to find destination: "I don't have a GPS," "I’m new." The Christmas Day relief driver?

Dimsum with Dad and WWC. Didn't go out for Chinese on Christmas Eve, so did Dimsum on Christmas Day.

Bloomberg building - courtyard defined by the beautiful lines of the building swooping around it. Needs the Christmas tree up all the year to complete it.  Positive versus negative space; public versus private versus semi-public spaces. I think these topics need their own post.

Madison Square Garden - neither a garden, nor square, nor located on Madison.

The Highline - an old, disused, elevated railway track that is being turned into an elevated linear park. Subject of a future post, except to say: (a) recycling old structures is great, and (b) best view is where it swings from one side of Tenth Avenue to the other.  There is a mini-amphitheater with the "stage" being Tenth Avenue itself.  Somehow works brilliantly.

Standard Grill at the Standard Hotel (which itself straddles the Highline).

Urban Cycle: industrial -> depressed -> true artists -> true cutting edge boutiques -> poser artists -> trendy -> soulless

Frick museum - the former mansion and art collection of a really rich dude, now a really good medium-sized museum.

Snow… Snow… Snow

Hanging out - were going to go get half-priced tickets at TKTS, but nothing we really wanted to see, and really didn't feel like standing in line in the driving snow.

Snow inside a subway station. Probably came down through the vent grills, either by itself, or someone shoveling it off their sidewalk.

Williamsburg (Brooklyn).  Has become a really nice, café-society area.  It is the role model for Mile End in Montreal (Davidthearchitect's hangout of choice).  For many years, Montreal looked to NYC, while Toronto (ptui) looked to London.  In reverse-flow, there is now the Mile End Deli in Williamsburg, where they import Montreal-style bagels and smoked meat. We'd called to ask if they were open. Forgot to ask the next question: "do you have food?" They didn't, deliveries having been cancelled due to snow.  Walked around. Ate at B.o.B. - Building on Bond (Street). Good.

The trip home - next post.


warriorsavant: (Default)

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