warriorsavant: (Time)
I no longer worry or wonder about the road not taken. I took the one I took, it's a pretty dang good one, whatever ups-and-downs. ("Mistakes, I've made a few… but I did it myyyyy way.") However, I am lately been having some down feelings about what I didn't achieve on some of those paths.

I used to have multiple levels of "to do" lists. Sometimes in writing, sometimes just in my mind. (Yeah, I'm a little over-organized at times.), The lists were something like "do ASAP," "do this week," "do this month," and "do this lifetime." A lot of those have dropped off the list, like "go back to taking piano lessons for the first time since 3rd grade." Just not going to happen, and don't care anymore. No just that I have much higher priorities, just don't care. Some things have dropped off because I do have higher priorities, like learning multiple languages. It would be cool, it would have very some minor practicality, but just not worth the immense amount of time it would require.

I'm a bit down about some things that I would really have liked to achieve, but didn't, and simply isn't going to happen now. Some of those things I actually wouldn't want on a practical level, even if they were handed to me on a silver platter, but ego often overrides common sense. Example, I wouldn't actually want to be Derm Division Chief at McGill. It's really a lot of paperwork, meetings, and bureaucracy for minimal prestige, very little real authority, and no money. And for what? Another line on my CV or maybe my obituary? (This is ignoring the fact that I tend to tick people off and they wouldn't offer it to me anyhow. Not sour grapes, realistic appraisal.) A bigger one is that I didn't make general in the Army. I was a Colonel and a Brigade Commander, which is way further than most people get, but you always want that one more/one last step. What triggered those thoughts was looking something up about the current structure of military medicine, and seeing that 2 people I knew had moved far up in the military and civilian hierarchy. One I used to work for, and I respected. One had worked for me, and although competent in some ways, was rather a jerk. (Come to think of it, someone else I recall who had worked for me also made Brigadier General, but she was really, really good.) There are some other minor things, but these are the two glaring ones right now.

I think it's an age thing. (Getting old? Who me?) At one point I would have liked those things. Even after I'd missed my realistic shot at them, I still used to fantasize about them, but can't even do that any more. Bah.
warriorsavant: (Composite)
Grand-père Lion oublie tout ("Grandfather Lion Forgets Everything") by Julia Jarman
This is a children's book, about how little Leonard, whose grandfather is The King of Beasts, and now going senile. I think it's meant to encourage understanding of the phenomenon and to care for your frail grandparents, but I found it very depressing. I kept thinking about my father, and his dwindling to nothing. Then I kept wondering about how long I have. I know I talk about "not retiring until I put the kids through medical school," but really not that many people can keep up the pace, or even be functional that long. I do have one colleague who is still going strong in his late 80's - well, at least going reasonably - but the "super seniors" are still the exceptions to the rule. Some time ago, [personal profile] ravensron  did point out to me that we really don't know what the "normal" is for people in their late 80's and older, because this is the first generation where we are having large numbers of people live that long. I do see many patients that old, but truly being hale and hearty at that age is the exception.

Warrior Rising by Chris Linford.
Initially came across this book referenced in another excellent book, Marc Dauphin's Combat Doctor. Dauphin was a Canadian Forces Medical Officer, and had been the company commander ("officer commanding" as opposed to "commanding officer" in Canadian parlance) of the last Canadian roto for the Role 3 NATO hospital in Kandahar Afghanistan. That book was impressive enough, and the volume of casualties they saw in one roto - heck, in 1 month - is more than I saw in my entire career. To be honest, most careers are nothing like war movies, probably even if you're special operations, you don't see as much "action" in your whole career as is packed into a 2-hour war movie. Most people don't see even that much, most of the military life is routine, and many people, even in wartime, don't see a shot fired in anger. Even understanding that intellectually, it does make me feel a little insignificant to read about how much Marc Dauphin had seen and done. And that, wasn't a patch off what Chris Linford had seen and done. He was a Canadian Forces Medical Office at the Role 3 in Kandahar, which was his last assignment. He'd also been in Rwanda, Bosnia, and several other places. He was eventually put out of the Canadian Forces on a medical discharge for severe PTSD. Considering what he'd seen over his career, he was entitled to enough PTSD for 5 people. Much like combat, very little PTSD is anything like you see in the movies, but he had a textbook case of the most severe form. Very humbling to consider what he'd done and what he experienced.

Grab bag

Jan. 5th, 2019 07:14 pm
warriorsavant: (Meh)
Herein a grab bag of posts that I'd half-written, but didn't get around to posting. Have a number of half-formed ideas and half-written posts that I'm going to finish and post. I hate back-logs.

"Papa knows…" This soon?
Read more... )

Christmas? Bah humbug (belated, but so be it).
Christmas? Bah humbug (belated, but so be it). )

Back to the future (coin names).
Back to the future (coin names). )

Software updates at gunpoint.
Software updates at gunpoint. )
warriorsavant: Family Tree (Family Tree)
The kids were watching me shave. (The "You don't get out much?" concept of finding something trivial to be fascinating doesn't apply to small children, to whom everything really is new and fascinating.) After I finished, Wallstreet (age 3) decided that HE wanted to try shaving. Since I was using an electric razor, I let him "shave." He was delighted.


His next shave will probably be in another 8-12 years, unless he inherits his beard characteristics from him VN side. I asked my FIL, who said he has never shaved a day in his life, and my BIL who said he almost never shaves. Since Wallstreet has very few Asian features physically, I assume he'll get his facial/body hair characteristics from my side, which is to say he'll be able to grow a beard in a week. (Not a full beard, but clearly "I'm growing a beard," not "oh, you were too lazy to shave for a day or two.") 


Speaking of body hair, and speaking of things you really don't want to discuss with your mother (not that we were discussing the latter, but this is going to be a rather rambling, and I hope amusing post), I'm not the first White person Nom has ever been with. Every time she did date someone White, her mother would ask her, "Is it true that White people have hair all over their bodies?" Also, apparently, MIL once came across an article in a French language magazine (newspaper?), and asked Nom, in Vietnamese, to explain the term "le sexe oral." If there weren't proof that her parents had sex at least twice, Nom would doubt they ever had. For that matter, I know my siblings and I are the products of virgin births. 


Back to shaving. Many men like to shave. I don't. It's an annoying thing to have to do each morning. At various times of my life, I have worn a beard. When I was younger, that was more a function of whether my military time was Active or regularly drilling Reserve versus inactive Reserve. I was in the Navy when beards were permitted and did have one, shaving it off when they changed the regulations. Now I'm used to being clean-shaven, plus in modern society, being a graybeard literally as well as metaphorically doesn't confer gravitas, it makes you look scraggly. I frequently don't shave on weekends because I don't like doing it, and don't have to look professional. I use an electric most of the time, but after not having shaved for 3 days, the stubble is rather thick and rough, so I use a manual razor. Not really sure what to call those anymore. I grew up calling them "safety razors." They were so named in contradistinction to straight razors, at a time when electric razors didn't exist. I confess to being confused when I first read Jack London, with people fighting with razors. I knew they didn't have electric razors, but had never seen a straight razor, so had no idea how you could hurt someone with a safety razor. By the time I started shaving, I understood what a straight razor was, and wanted to shave with one. My father wisely pointed out that I'd likely cut my own throat, and got me an electric razor. Actually it was an old one that had belonged to our Grandpa Jimmy. Instead of an on-off switch, there was a little wheel that you flicked to start it turning. It was my brother's first razor, and then mine. I don't know what ever happened to it; both of us "graduated" to rotary-head razors, which do seem to work a little better.


Grandpa Jimmy died before I really have much memory of him, except that he was a good man, and the accidental cause of a minor linguistic confusion in me that lasted until my 20's. He was my maternal grandmother's second husband, and was born and raised in Italy. He came to the US as a young boy, and I believe served in the US Army in WWI. Like many Italians, even when speaking English, he frequently threw in the word capisce. (Heck, most New Yorkers of whatever background use it.) In my family, there were a dozen or so Yiddish words that we used frequently: mensch, kibitz, etc. (Again, most New Yorkers of whatever background use them.) When you're 6? (8? 12?), you don't think about the linguistic derivation of how you speak. I knew capisce wasn't English, we used it in my family, ergo it must be Yiddish. Some time in my 20's I began to find it strange that so many Italians used that particular Yiddish word, and eventually the had the light bulb/facepalm moment and realized the word was Italian.


Straight razors. I have a few times been shaved by a barber with a straight razor. It is partly luxurious, and partly scary. Someone literally has a razor-sharp blade at your throat. Especially considering that the first time was on a street corner in Pakistan. Eddy, my barber, said that when he was a boy growing up in Lebanon, 50? 60? years ago, it was normal for men to stop at the barbershop en route to work to get shaved. They'd wait their turn, get shaved, then stop for coffee (Lebanese coffee, which is what we call Turkish coffee), waiting their turn to get served for that. In short, leisurely lifestyle which did not involve a high work ethic. Many countries that people in First World nations are terrible workaholics; then they can't understand why they themselves are poor.

Eddy is a great barber, with a good work ethic, and also offers you a coffee when you're there. Not Arab/Turkish style, but at least a good espresso, and occasionally something stronger. 

warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
In a few minutes the sirens will sound, and I’ll post this out, at 11:11, then stand for a minute of silence. The kids won’t understand - I’ve tried to explain about the significance of my wearing the poppy - but they’re too young. Some day they will. Till then, I salute and embrace my fellow veterans, until we too fade away.

THESE, in the day when heaven was falling
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

- A.E. Housman
warriorsavant: (Time)
For some obscure reason, my municipality doesn't hold its Remembrance Day ceremony on the day itself. They usually hold it on the Sunday closest to Remembrance Day. Maybe so it doesn't conflict with the big ceremony downtown Montreal? Anyhow, since this year Remembrance Day falls on a Sunday, one would think they'd have it on the right day for a change. Uh, no. They had it today. It also isn't wildly advertised, so I only found out it was going to happen late Friday, too late to call City Hall and find out the details. I might have attended, or even marched in the little parade. It actually goes past my house. City Hall is about a block away from me, and the ceremony is at the Cenotaph in front of City Hall. I'm a little shy about attending, what with my uniform being of another country. Last year, for the big ceremony, I was thinking of going with a Veterans group, who would have been happy for me to join, but just didn't feel like being that sociable. From what I could see, there was a small group of older veterans in their dress uniforms (few dozen), then a group from a local reserve unit (again, about a few dozen), two Montreal police on horseback, then a few dozen cadets, Army and Air. 'Cadets' here not meaning officer trainees, but a high school aged organization focusing on leadership, citizenship, physical development, and self-reliance. Kind of like Boy Scouts/Girl Guides, only more so. (Note to self: get more info about Cadets when the kids are a bit older.) Anyhow, I'll look into our local ceremony this week, for consideration for next year.

Further on the list of mis-timed events, Hedgefund's swimming lesson was supposed to be tonight. As we were en route, got a text, first from a friend whose daughter takes lessons at the same time, then from the teacher, saying it had been cancelled because they were doing maintenance on the pool. Grrr. We had already planned on going out for dinner after, so we stopped at a park near old condo (both the swimming and the restaurant were near there) so the kids could play a bit. Well, Hedgefund played, Wallstreet is his mother's son (and especially his late paternal grandmother's grandson) and doesn't like cold, so he and Nom hung out in the car.

The dinner was part of Montreal à Table, an annual 2-week event with specials at different restaurants to encourage people to try them. The one we went to, called Asado, was in the same location, and under the same management, as another place Nom had wanted to try, but had closed before we could try it. Would rate it, "glad we went, but no need to go back." Asado is Spanish for "roast." Not sure I thought the food was very Latin American, but the atmosphere (including the music) was. For some reason, the décor tickled some memory of someplace I once was eating or drinking (or wenching?) in Chile, although I don't remember it well enough to say why.
warriorsavant: Family Tree (Family Tree)
I'm afraid that my siblings and I are getting to the age where ailments are conversation. I'm resisting the tendency, but from the tenor of some of the conversations, I’m beginning to think Bob is in better shape than any of us. Harrumph. (Halloween being over, he’s back in the back room of my office. Evil Secretary is displeased, but realizes that he scares some of the patients. And I’m talking about adult patients. Did have a little girl today (age 8?). She was asking a million questions about things in the office, and allowed how she was very curious. After mangling a translation into French of “curiosity killed the cat,” I then allowed how curiosity was a very good thing and should be encouraged. Then I offered to show her Bob. She was most pleased and impressed.

Sibs and I were also discussing different ways of measuring intra-ocular pressure (testing for glaucoma), known as tonometry. I mentioned that I recall when air puff tonometry came in, as the hot new gizmo. (Prior to that, they numbed your eye, and pushed a small measuring rod against it. Our late Great-Uncle B was an Ophthalmologist. Quite prominent in his day, but was not big on shiny new gizmos if the old ones still worked. Part of that was his old-fashioned frugality. He was raised in the school of “you never know when the next famine (pogrom, stock market crash, whatever) was coming, so use things until they can no longer be fixed." Having been raised by Depression Era parents, we all have that streak in us. I’ve gotten away from it somewhat, and I’m not entirely pleased with that. Not sure how I’m going to teach the next generation the value of money. Just because you can afford something, doesn’t mean that you should. Back to Great-Uncle. Had a small office in his house - dunno if he actually saw any patients there, or if simply for tax purposes. Anyhow, after he passed away, we found a pair of magnifier glasses in a drawer in the living room(?). Inside was a piece of masking tape, labeled “B: better pair in office.” So we looked in the office. Sure enough, there was a pair of magnifier glasses there. Inside the case was a piece of masking tape, labeled “A: worse pair in living room.” The hat he wore to his wedding to Aunt C was older than any of his adult children. (This was his second marriage, both of them having been widowed for many years.) Yeah, there are the jokes about “I have a hat older than you kids,” he really did. BTW, I still have my original canvas duffel bag from when I was very first in the military. Newer ones (say, oh, the last 2-3 decades or so) are nylon. My last deployment, a young troop asked me, respectfully, why one of my duffels looked different. I explained, then realized that duffel was indeed older than he was. "I have boots (well, duffel bag) older than the young troops…" And was actually bringing same on a deployment.

Yeah, back again to Great-Uncle. He had a gizmo for measuring your existing eyeglass lenses, “reading” the prescription. He acknowledged that the then new-fangled (40 years ago?) electronic ones were more accurate, but pointed out that the human eye couldn’t perceive the difference, so why spend the extra money to get a new one that wouldn’t help his patients any better than the old one. I still have a quite old hyfrecator (what most people call an electric cautery) that is older than most of my Gentle Readers. (Possibly older than all of us, I don’t recall when or where I got it, but it was used then). The newer ones are slightly better, but they burn out after several years, so I keep it as a back-up.
warriorsavant: (Time)
Two weeks ago, I started taking Fridays off instead of Mondays, and I'm completely disoriented. I do know what day it is, I haven't become demented, but the day always feels wrong, and the "what I will be doing tomorrow" is off.

Taking a day off goes back to when I was in the National Guard and later Reserves. That "one weekend a month (small print footnote: unless we deploy your butt to Afghanistan or Iraq)" applies to the junior troops. Senior leadership is more like "2-3 weekends a month, and some of those will be 3-4 days long." If I hadn't started programming in "extra" days off, I would have been working 26-28 days/month, and getting VERY cranky. Since the 3-4 day weekends would include the Fridays, and even 2 day weekends meant I would be traveling home and arriving late Sunday evenings, it made more sense to take off Mondays instead of Fridays.

Sometime after I got out of the Reserves (on Veterans Day 11-11-11), I thought I should start to work a normal 5-day week. Actually, come to think of it, I had someone sharing my office on that extra day, then she left, so it was a bit later than that. I enjoyed having those long weekends, but somehow felt I "should" work a normal 5-day week. Nom told me I shouldn't. I felt I should. I felt virtuous. I also seriously missed having the 3-day weekends. I told Nom she was right, and cut back to 4 days, keeping the Mondays off schedule. But really, there's a reason most people who work 4-day week take off the Fridays. Too many things are closed on Monday (eg, if I want a lunch date with my lovely wife, most restaurants are closed Mondays).

All that having been said, I am disoriented. It is Sunday night as I type this, and I'm indignant that I have to go to work tomorrow. I'll go in, and be convinced that my hospital day (Wednesday) will be the next day. On Friday, the first day of my weekend, I will keep thinking that that should be Saturday, and not understanding why every place isn't on weekend hours. It's sort of like being jet-lagged. Not the fatigue, just the feeling that everything is happening at the wrong time, but in this case the wrong day. I suppose in a few weeks, I'll adjust, but for now it feels weird.
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
Not reading as much as I used to, so doubly appreciative when I find interesting ones that effect me. Trying to write my feelings about these books, I realize I'm not expressing them well, but not sure will be able to refine it any better.

GI Jews by Deborah Dash Moore. (WWC) gave it to me. Relates the stories of Jewish GI's in WWII, mostly through oral histories with a dozen or so from different areas. Prior to WWII, the concept of ecumenicalism barely existed in the US, and even the concept of the US having a "Judeo-Christian" basis didn't exist. The US was viewed as Protestant, even if those other "weird" people (Catholics and Jews) were around. The military deliberately set out to create a sense of "we're all in this together," "we're a Judeo-Christian nation." That didn't sit well with everyone, but too bad, we had a war to fight. (Side note, compare current concerns with Moslems in the US military.) Jews served in numbers proportional to their representation in the US population. The general view of Jewish men was that they would not be good Soldiers/fighters: cerebral instead of physical, scrawny, unaggressive, not manly in the cliched, robust American sense. Much to the surprise of the military and themselves, they proved to be neither more nor less good Soldiers than anyone else. By so serving, they forged a new identity for themselves as "Americans and also Jews" (as opposed to Jews who happened to live in America), and helped forge concept of the US as "Judeo-Christian" and what today we'd call "multi-cultural." (Sorry for all the quote marks, rather needed.) They still faced prejudice, sometimes enormous amounts of it. Sometimes they overcame it, sometimes they didn't. By the time I got to the military, most of this was already established, but could still feel echoes of it: the "am I (are Jews) manly" in that sense?; are we really all one big family?; of negative reactions to me, how much was anti-Semitism? I'm proud of where the Army is in modern life. When I Commanded a NYC-based unit, I could say we were one of the most multi-cultural units in the Army… possibly in all of history. On the other hand, we were all one culture: we were all US Soldiers. "We all wear green, we all bleed red."

Combat Doctor by Marc Dauphin. He was an ER doctor and Canadian Army Reservist who mobilized to the NATO Role 3 Hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan (then under Canadian Command, but multi-national staffing). He was appointed as Officer Commanding (As opposed to the Commanding Officer, which meant that he was in charge of day-to-day operations, not… oh heck, too confusing to explain, he was in charge of lots of stuff as well as actually treating patients himself.) This one evoked a lot of feelings. Some thinking about my time deployed, bringing back memories of what I'd seen. Some of that is a sense of pride in my service and an abstract camaraderie with others who've served. Some a longing to go back (have zero thoughts of actually doing so and leaving my family!). Some giving me feelings of inadequacy, in that the Role 3 was a major trauma center (possibly the busiest and most successful in the world at the time), and what I did and saw was small potatoes in comparison.
warriorsavant: (Default)
Gray outside and in.

Gray outside; it was raining on-and-off all day. At least it broke the heat.

Gray inside, as this was my last clinic at the Veterans Hospital. As mentioned in prior posts, it is no longer a purely Veterans Hospital, and there are fewer and fewer veterans still there. Moreover, I just have too many things to do, and I'm trying to drop the more peripheral ones, so I don't want to drive out there even once/month.

Still, it was sad to leave. I think I've been there for 4 years, and gave me some military connection, so it is closing at least a small chapter in my life. Things moved slowly today and I finished late. Slowly partly because my heart wasn't into it. Slowly partly because we wanted to make sure I got the waiting list cleaned up, and did any procedures that needed doing because there is unlikely to be a "do it next clinic." There are a few that will need follow-up. It looks like things are going ahead with their bringing on board one of my recent graduates in October (finally, after their sitting on it for months). If that is definite, than can defer the follow-up until she is there. If not, we'll figure something out. Maybe I'll go there for a couple of hours one more time. Maybe they'll put them all in a van and come to my office. Those are details, but I'll make sure I won't leave the patients stranded.

It was emotional for me to be there. I think these two posts state my feelings about the Veterans there the strongest:
I'll be okay by tomorrow, but feeling very blah tonight.
warriorsavant: (Composite)
Between military and civilian, I spent 7 years in primary care: general medicine, walk-in clinics, and small emergency rooms. Even after qualifying as a Derm, I did random bits of primary care, mostly while deployed. It's really about 10% specific training, 40% generalizing the knowledge you were trained in (eg if you understand muscle sprains, doesn't matter that much which muscle was sprained), and 50% common sense.

Got a somewhat flustered call from Nom today. Seems her mom had called an ambulance for her dad, then he was told "wasn't permitted to enter the ER." He was suffering from a sore foot. Or maybe severe pain somewhere. Or maybe couldn't breathe. Realize that this was from her dad, to her mom, then to Nom by telephone, then to me mostly by telephone. In-and-around this, I was (a) at my office, then (b) met Nom and the kids at the wading pool, then (c) had to go to one of the hospitals for a meeting about a research project (which got cancelled, as the other person had the date wrong). Eventually got myself over to JGH, where I clipped on my staff ID badge and strolled into the ER.

Dad, mom, and mom's brother were sitting in the waiting area. Dad in a wheelchair with a look of pain on his face (and he's not a wimp), but clearly was breathing. ER's do tend to rush you right in when that isn't happening. On the other hand, it was dinner time, and the worst times to go to Emerg is between after-work, and before-bedtime, when everyone else goes also. If you are still breathing and/or not bleeding copiously on their floor, there will be a long wait. Couldn't do much of an exam there, but asked a few careful questions, did some very limited exam, and realized he had sciatic nerve pain ("sciatica"). Although at the time he denied any trauma or straining, later came out that he had been lifting stuff too heavy for him earlier that day. Anyhow, since he was breathing, and was not bleeding on the floor, if he waited to get seen (allowing for appropriate triage), he'd likely be in the waiting room until the next morning (and in pain the whole time). I told them (both in French and via Nom's uncle translating into Vietnamese), to go home, gave them some basic instructions (mostly to ice it down), and I called in some pain and anti-inflammatory medications to their pharmacy, and told him to see his regular doctor in the next day or two.

Wasn't high level medicine, but they were most appreciative, and at least I remembered how to do this stuff.
warriorsavant: (Composite)
Some time ago… hmmm, rather quite some time, just found a draft of this buried somewhere, I mentioned I was putting together my academic CV. Why the CV you ask? Highly belated response to (auto-rhetorical) question. I'd gotten an email that I can apply for academic promotion. Academics are more jealous of their ranks than military folks. Last time it came around, I got promoted from Assistant Prof to Associate Prof. I was surprised when I got that email; since they don’t actually pay me, I never paid much attention or thought about academic promotion.

Regarding the pay issue, I'm CAS (I think that stands for Contract Academic Staff). Rather like the Reserves/Guard in the military, it is part time. Since when I was in the Reserves, I was a fairly senior leader, "part time" was a bad joke; I spent almost as many hours/week on the Army as did most full time Commanders.. As CAS, I mostly do clinical teaching. I get paid for whatever patients I see by the Province (same as if I saw patients in my office). Teaching slows me down, so make less, but I enjoy doing it, so I do it. I get zilch for whatever administrative work I do, but it's part of the game. Within limits.

For whatever reason, I’d done enough “stuff” that they promoted me. As noted, it is really an ego thing to get the promotion, since they aren’t paying me, I do it for the pleasure of teaching and the "glory" of being university faculty. It is way too soon to put in for Full Professor, and frankly, I haven’t done enough stuff to get it, and probably never will. However, I put together my CV in the format they want, and had a meeting with the Chief of Medicine (Derm is a division within the department of Internal Medicine), because I thought it was time to talk to him about my academic “career.” Is there anything for me to move forward and upward into? Is it worth it? When I got out of the Army, I thought I would move up in Academia in a similar fashion. In the Army, I moved up in rank, and also in authority (for doctors, not always the same; most don’t want to Command anything. I did). I thought I’d get more involved in teaching and research, and move up from Undergraduate Training Director (eg medical students) to Residency Director (could have had that 2-3 years ago) to Chief of Dermatology (maybe). Why didn’t I take Residency Director 2-3 years ago and move forward and upward? Something - or rather someone - more important came along. Now 2 someones. In a couple of years, the someones are going to be starting school, and I might want, or be willing, to do more academically-administratively. On the other hand, it’s a pain in the butt, and I’m not sure I care.

Doctor-Professor-Chief of Medicine easy to talk to, and I enjoyed the conversation, although the upshot is that it is very, very unlikely I will ever get selected for full Professor (which would rather like being full Colonel in the Army). As for Residency Director or Chief, he wasn't encouraging about what would be involved: too much work, not enough resources, little-to-no pay. Even disregarding the "I tend to piss people off" part, the small amount of ego gratification is not worth my time commitment when I have more important priorities. I screwed up one marriage (no kids involved) by devoting too much time to an organization; not going to make the same mistake twice. Many years ago, a wise friend said something about not needing to grab any more brass rings; she already had a whole drawerful. Maybe if I'd never done anything else in my life, I would be more tempted., but I what would it add besides lots of aggravation and one more line on my obituary.
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
Mort Walker, the author of the comic strip "Beetle Bailey," just passed away. He had been writing the comic strip since 1950, the longest tenure of any cartoonist. I won't say it was an accurate depiction of military life, but it had its moments. In 1954 the Stars and Stripes military newspaper stopped carrying the comic strip because "it would encourage disrespect for officers"...as a result of which 100 more newspapers started carrying it. Our hero's sister, Lois, then became a character in the "Hy and Lois" comic strip, and Beetle occasionally “visited" his sister and her family.

Stripes is not longer run by the military, and more recently (during my time) carried “Private Murphy’s Law,” which wasn’t all that much positive about military life, although maybe less negative than Beetle Bailey. The cartoon that I remember most of Pvt Murphy was when he gets his annual “compare what you are earning to your civilian counterparts” info sheet. He raises his hand, “Uh, Sarge, how much does a rifleman make in civilian life?”

They did send those out, saying that although you make xxx, also consider your free health care is worth yyy, and your PX privileges are worth zzz, etc. Actually a worthwhile exercise, because the benies added up (eg I didn’t contribute any cash to the pension I’m now drawing) but it also depended on if you used the PX/Commissary frequently, and how often you got sick. Not to mention it is a bit hard to calculate how much a rifleman makes on the outside.

Hmm, come to think of it, when we were deployed in 2002-2003 (start of Iraqi Freedom), the gate guards were civilian contractors. Another of then SecDef Rumsfeld’s brilliant ideas to downsize the military to save money - by paying someone 6-figures to do the work of an Army private.
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
If you have not done so, please observe a moment of silence.

I ended up going to the ceremony in Place Du Canada downtown. I was conflicted right down to the last moment. The weather was wretched cold and my foot is acting up (oh, stop snivelling, Soldier). Should I go? Is it more important to be with my family? Should I go in uniform? How will an American uniform sit with the Canadian public? Which uniform? Can I find all the pieces and accoutrements? Should go with the Black Watch Association who had invited me to do so? I managed to find everything, and put on my Dress Blues, then changed to my Greens. (The current Class A, the military equivalent of the civilian business suit, is also now Blue, but that change came in just before I retired, so I still have my Classic Greens. Yeah, the only time a non-metro-, heterosexual male obsesses about clothing are military uniforms.) I also wore two long-sleeved undershirts (both Army issue, so it was legit), so I wasn't really cold.

Hedgefund told me my "shirt" (uniform jacket with all the ribbons & accoutrements) was very pretty. I told her she would have her own one day. The two of them are still too young to try to explain it to, but eventually I shall. I would be very pleased if they both did their hitch in the military, but that is something they will have to chose to do or not when the time comes.

It was still bit weird, being the only one on the Metro in uniform, and I think the only one in the crowd in an American uniform. I think I was the only one feeling weird about it, no one else cared either way. The ceremony was the usual: playing traditional marches, especially including Last Post: reciting In Flanders Fields, in English, French, and Mohawk; prayers; speeches (this year few and short, as it should be); a flyover by Canadian Forces helicopters; and 21-gun salute (not firing all at once, but about minute apart throughout the ceremony). Then came home and was moody for a bit, but glad I went. I served my time but came back, I need to honor those who did not. I served my time, now it is time for someone else to do so:
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)
Was packing, found on a top shelf, and finally (with some pangs) threw it out. It a small vinyl bag (about the size of a men's toiletry case, which it might have started life as, say 8"x4"x2"). Over my time in the Army, I'd used that keep those little items for field use/deployment, that are not on any packing list, but every experienced Soldier knows are useful (not, not chocolate or ladies of the evening). The items changed slightly over the years. Some were super-useful, some never used, but it's a good list to know. Presented (in alphabetical order) for my nostalgia, & your use and edification:
• carabiner clip
• chem light
• duct tape (not a big roll, just a few dozen feet)
• ear plugs
• foot powder
• insect repellent
• knife-fork-spoon (camping type)
• leatherman tool or swiss army knife
• lighter and/or waterproof matches
• marker pen
• mini-fan
• mirror
• padlocks
• parachute cord (thick nylon cord, also called 550 cord)
• plastic bags
• safety pins
• sewing kit
• small flashlight (originally a mini-maglite, later LCD light)
• spare AA batteries
• sunscreen
• tags and twist ties
• toilet paper (little packets)
• water purification tabs
• whistle
• wipes

Ste Anne's

Sep. 15th, 2017 11:15 am
warriorsavant: (Chimerae)
I've posted that it's changed from a pure veterans hospital to a mixed civilian/veteran long term care unit. That's sad for me. Perhaps sadder still are the vets themselves aging so much. Even 2-3 years ago when I started, I could have conversations with some of them. Not long conversations, and I don't really have a lot of time for chit-chat with patients anyhow, but some sort of conversations. Now more and more of them just aren't there mentally anymore. The nurse who works with me, said that 10? 20? years ago, it was fun. They still had open wards instead of all private rooms, and the evenings frequently like social gatherings: movies, popcorn, singing, and likely smuggled beer. (In fact, when the Feds ran it as a pure veterans hospital, they did get a nightly alcohol ration of 1 drink if they wished.) I remember when I was an Intern at Portsmouth Navy Hospital, there were also open wards, and there was a certain camaraderie with the patients. For everyone, interns, nurses, corpsmen, and patients, it was just another duty station. (However, no camaraderie with the more senior residents and staff - very vicious place in that sense.) From what the nurse was telling me, it was rather the same atmosphere years ago at Ste Anne's. No longer. It's a much sadder place now and in some way, we all come there unless we die young.
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
Two things lately made me realize I'd had had enough of the Army. (Important realization when one has been retired, for, oh, 5-6 years.) No, not Hedgefund and Wallstreet, although they would have been enough to keep me from doing anything silly like trying to re-up, or deploy.

The first is talking with someone I knew from the Army. He is a full-time Reservist (called an AGR), I first knew as a Captain when he was my Adjutant (= S1 = Personnel & Admin Officer) when I Commanded a CSH (Combat Support Hospital - like a MASH, but bigger). He's now a Colonel himself, in charge of major training site (I'd trained there more than once). It was not a very happy call, in that I'd heard 3rd hand that he'd recently lost his wife of 32 years (cancer, spread quickly) and was calling to offer my condolences. We chatted for a while, and he was mentioning getting ready for 3 CSHs moving into his training site for their summer training. I was thinking, "yeah, I understand what that involves (huge planning & paperwork for those personnel and logistics) and am so glad I don't have to be doing that anymore.

The second is a book I'm reading, Christie Blatchford's Fifteen Days about her time as a reporter embedded with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan a few years ago. I'm only so-so enjoying it. Basically war stories, I suppose good insight if you've never been there. Again, the feeling of "glad it's not me anymore." Not the getting shot at part (although not a big fan of people trying to kill me), but the moving into, and staying in, some godforsaken, dusty patch of barely habitable real estate and calling it home for the day/week/month. Nope, glad I don't have to be doing that anymore.

I did my time doing those things. Didn't mind them at the time, proud of it, very glad to have done it, but have done enough of it, and getting too long in the tooth to want to do more.
warriorsavant: (Time)
Just got back from a tax-deductible excuse to take a short vacation medical conference(1) in The Island at the Center of the World(2). More on the trip itself in another post; this post is about identities. Was almost going to say had some identity crisis, but more identity realizations.

New Yorker )

Soldier )

Doctor )

Family Man )

New Yorker, Soldier, Doctor, Family Man. Not a bad CV.

(Footnotes) )
warriorsavant: (Time)
I'm writing this during my lunch break on my monthly consulting at Ste Anne's (veterans hospital). It's effecting me today for some reason (coming down sick? kids fussy? not enough sleep? thinking about my dad? feeling my age? all of the above?)

I look often look at the page in the patients file that briefly mentions their wartime (WW II) service. One wrote laconically in a shaky hand, "43 trips to Germany in a Lancaster" (heavy bomber). That's 43 chances to die screaming, falling through the air with your body on fire. Others were on the ill-fated raid on Dieppe, or landed at Normandie. Enjoy your trip to the beach, every square inch has more guns targeted on it than any place ever in the history of the world. Don't worry about applying sunscreen, you won't live long enough to need it.

But they did live. Lived through a hell that makes my 32 years of service look like a walk in the park. Lived to become old, infirm, often demented, wearing diapers, unable to stand up unaided. Do I weep for their past and present, or my future, or for all of us. Sic transit gloria miles.
warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)
Hedgefund is (mostly) potty trained. Potty trained, not toilet trained, since she's too small for a regular adult seat. At home she either uses a potty, or we have a seat insert/adapter. In essence, a munchkin-sized seat which clips onto a full-sized one. Which we take with us when we go out. My "going out of the house" checklist is now something like: wallet, keys, phone, toilet seat. I now routinely carry around a toilet seat! My Army training taught me to pack for all eventualities, but I'm pretty sure this one isn't in the Field Manual.


warriorsavant: (Default)

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