warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)
Alone, I’m more into doing than relaxing. I used to spend the first day just walking the downtown of a new city. I might spend 8 hours just walking. Then I’d see all the “sights”. I’d only eat in the best, or at least best-known, places (eg either Michelin-rated or Varsity Hotdog). Big on traveling light. Once went to Europe for weeks? months? and only took 1 flight bag that I packed 15 minutes before leaving for the airport. Three sets of underwear and washed them out in the sink at night. Oddly enough, when I was in the military, often had much more stuff. If I deployed, the Army was big on "making sure you have whatever you need, whatever happens. That means, in additon to field gear and body armor, carried both hot and cold weather stuff. I knew at least one doc who was initially deployed to somewhere very hot (Kuwait?); then got sub-deployed for some weeks to somewhere very cold (mountains of Afghanistan?) Bottom line, a rucksack and 4 duffel bags to go anywhere. What was even weirder, was going somewhere on a long weekend with the Reserves. I'd often need: working (field) uniform with boots, dress uniform with dress shoes, civilian clothing with casual shoes, and PT (workout) uniform with sneakers. All this (including the 4 sets of footware) for 3-4 days. I've been been a fashionista (*understatement*), but this masses of clothing luggage gives me some understanding into that life. This from a man who does own 3 pairs of shoes: all black, slip-ons, not quite identical, but close. (Never used to wear slip-on shoes, but since currently live under Asian household rules, much easier than lace-ups.)
With small kids, travel is still not Relaxing (note capital R). Just much slower. Pick up stuff at a local market supermarket to eat in the room (microwavable). Eat off-hours anywhere decent. If manage one tourist sight before kids crash/meltdown, then we’re doing well. Walk a bit, pushing stroller until kids nap. Much chilling in the room, or maybe poolside. Rinsing shirt in sink. Not underwear. Traveling light... except for all the stuff for kids. At some point it has been 1small suitcase for Nom and I, 2 large ones for kids stuff. And that's not even counting the stroller. Airlines love us. (I tend to head straight for the priority check-in. Maybe they don't like it, but will like 2 hyperactive kids running around check-in even less. They can bill me an extra 25-cents.) This last trip, Hedgefund decided that the ideal mix was 1 large suitcase for her, and 1 for everyone else together. Did I mention fashionista? We convinced her otherwise.
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"

Pretty

Nov. 16th, 2018 04:57 pm
warriorsavant: (Springtime in Canada)
Pretty white stuff, falling from sky. Very pretty looking out thru the windows at it from inside my nice cozy house. Earlier, Hedgefund was bouncing up and down excitedly and wanting to go out and play. Not sure where we got her from. As we were dressing her to go out (takes a long time with all the stuff needed), we asked Wallstreet if he wanted go also. If a 3 year old can give you a look that says, “are you #$%&*@ insane?” he did so. After playing in the yard, she wanted to go to the park. As we headed out, of course Wallstreet suddenly decided he did want to join us, so came back and played while Nom got him dressed and then the three of us went to the park. (As for Nom, you know Wallstreet’s view on snow mentioned above? Yeah, that’s where he gets it from. She may not leave the house until late May.) I pushed them in the double stroller to the park, not easy through snow since strollers not exactly off road vehicle with big wheels. Got to the park where they: (1) ran around excitedly, or (2) promptly fell asleep in the stroller. Yeah, option 2 happened. So I then pushed them back home. Glad someone got exercise. Back home made us all hot chocolate as a treat. Which I was the only one who drank it. Sigh. Later Nom made a cake with them, which is to say Nom made a cake and they made a mess.

This is what we call “child rearing” here in Lake Wobegon, where all the... well you know the line.

Signing off now. Starting last week, decided to take a 24-hour break each week from computers and cell phones, so will be offline ‘till Saturday night.
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. 

Cheap Chic

Nov. 7th, 2018 11:05 am
warriorsavant: (Cafe)

Pastel,currently thenew 'in' restaurant in Montreal. We went there last night courtesy of MTL à Table, which as mentioned previously, is like restaurant week most other places, but with l'accent français(*1).

 

'Cheap Chic' is our term to going to classy restaurants on the cheap: luncheon specials, late night specials (well, before we had kids), or restaurant weeks. Usually have their best dishes at a fraction of the price. Usually, we don't have drinks or coffee there, so they really make no money on us.

 

Nom made the reservations. Initially we were told they were full up the day(s) we wanted. She called back with a different plan. Eventually they saw reason. Which is to say, the 6thtime she called, I heard someone in the background say, "It's heragain. Give her a dang table or she'll keep calling!(*2) Contrary to the cliché of Asian women, she is about as passive and submissive as the average mule. Make that 2 mules. Or 10. Anyhow, she can be rather persistent.

 

Been there when it was something else. Even in a city with as many good restos as Montreal, there are still just so many venues, and fancy restaurants rarely last that long. When we walked in, Nom introduced herself, and the hostess turned the manager, and said, "it's that annoying Vietnamese woman who kept calling, seat her quickly(*2)." They found us a place in the far corner where the kids wouldn't disturb the other dinners.

 

Avant garde food. Avant garde is French for "overpriced, tiny portions, and totally awful." In this case 2 out of 3. The portions were filling, only if you were a squirrel ("Hey Rocky, watch me pull a dinner out of my hat"). And only overpriced if you went on a regular night, something like 50$/course. Very involved food. I confess I'm a little tired of overly-involved, pernickety, lets-see-how-many-weird-ingredients-I-can-combine dishes. I've come to prefer fairly standard fare, maybe with a slight twist, but very well done. Still, quite good. The true star of the dinner was one of the desserts, Crème bruûléewith fennel sauce. As for filling part, well, let's just say that afterwards we stopped stopped at the burger joint up the street to get some extra fries, calories, and irony.

 

The kids were largely well-behaved. They had wanted to blow out candles. At the resto we went to the other night, they amused themselves by blowing out the little tea candle on the table. We thought we'd be clever and bring some extra candles (found some spare birthday candles in a drawer) that I could repeatedly light for them from the tea candle and they could then repeatedly blow out. Curses, foiled again! They didn't have tea candles, or any other candles, on the tables. Kids were disappointed, so when we got home, I found some matches, set up 2 candles, and let them take turns blowing them out(*3).

 

 

Footnotes:

*1 Which is to say the waiters speak through their noses which are tilted in the air.

*2 Perhaps a slight exaggeration for comedic effect. There will be some of that in this conte

*3 If I'd let them keep going, it would have been hours of fun for them, seconds of fun for me. Did have a dozen turns each, and felt satisfied at that.

warriorsavant: (Warriordaddy)
One problem with having very small bambini around is that they want to “help” do things. Not good when I’m trying to do home maintenance, because either:
1. It takes at least 3 times longer. I can probably replace a light switch in 5-10 minutes. The last time Hedgefund helped me it took 40 minutes. Admittedly she was 2 years old. Now it would only take 30 minutes. Or they watch me, but then want to play. Example, going up on a ladder to change a ceiling light. Yes, they let me do it alone, but then want their “turns” climbing up and down the ladder, which means I have to stand there and make sure they come down the ladder on their own steam, rather that gravity-powered and head first.
2. I sometimes don’t want them on unsafe places, even if I’m there, because I don’t want them knowing that they can get up/into such places, because they might do it when I’m not there. Example, I don’t want them to know how to get onto the roof of the house. It will be quite a while before they can manipulate the extension ladder into place and open the trap door, but I’d just as soon they even consider the concept as do-able as late as possible. More to the point, there is a spiral staircase to the roof of the garage. I have absolutely no idea why. When we were doing the renos, they put a gate at the base of the staircase, but I didn’t have a lock for it until just now. Again, don’t want them even considering climbing up to the roof of the garage until they are old enough to not risk coming down gravity-powered/head-first.

BTW, being the son of a locksmith, I understand that I could - and therefore did - have a locksmith fit a padlock to the same key as my house key. I’m a firm believer in having as few keys as possible. In fact, our house key also opens the front door of my office, but not the reverse. That is, if I don’t have my office keys, I can still get in, but Evil Secretary’s office key doesn’t open the house (variant on doing a master key). Again, being a son-of-a-locksmith (among other “son of’s” I’ve been called), I realized that they were the same key blank, and therefore could be keyed alike.
warriorsavant: (Autumn-upstate NY)
Thanksgiving. Hunters Moon. Succoth. The autumn harvest festival as found in many cultures. Autumn is in the air. Went to dinner with Nom's family, the traditional Portuguese food. (Not really, but we were tired of Vietnamese or Baton Rouge.) Horsie rides for the kids, which is to say they have discovered the joy of riding on Papa. 

 

May we all be thankful for a good harvest, Gentle Readers, by which I mean all the good we have harvested into our lives this past year: materially, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally.

warriorsavant: (Autumn-upstate NY)
Wallstreet’s 3rd Birthday. Nom is misty-eyed about her baby growing up. Birthday meaningless to him, but seems important to Hedgefund (who does, however, do the equivalent of pointing out that she is older than he is and always will be). She’s asking questions like, “well, will he be bigger tomorrow?” “are his feet bigger today?” At times she is very into being the Big Sister. Sometimes very endearing, and taking care of her little brother (and vice versa), sometimes much sibling rivalry. So, in short, normal relations between the bambini. Anyhow, dinner with Nom’s family. Went to Moishe's, Wallstreet’s my favorite steakhouse. Well, he actually does like steak, although frequently pronounces it “snake.” Clearly has a future in Special Ops.

First Fall weather. The air is crisp. And last week was the last kick of Summer, with sweating running down your back. Ah, Montreal weather, massively fickle. Supposed to have power outage at office today (working on the mains). Figure could just leave the blackout curtains open. Alas, heavily overcast. So far power still on (crosses fingers). At lunch went out to get cappuccino. Of course started raining when I was the farthest away from the office. S'okay, I needed coffee more than I needed to stay dry.

Went apple picking over the weekend. Kids had fun. Hedgefund went on the pony ride. Told me I had to wait outside the ring, what with her being a big girl now.

Had our annual cutaneous lymphoma conference Friday. We didn’t really have our act together, but went okay in the end. We bring in a couple of visiting experts. The first half, they see patients with our group, our most difficult cases. For the second half, we invite outside doctors for CME lectures. Fewer general attendees for the second half than last year. For the first half, we enjoyed the interaction, but can’t say we got a lot out of it. Not that the experts were bad, but we’ve gotten good enough that unless we’re getting one of the top 10 people in the world, they just don’t have that much to tell us.
warriorsavant: (Warriordaddy)
Yesterday took the kids to amusement park about an hour out of town. "Au Pays Des Merveilles" (“Wonderland,” as in “Alice in...”) Really nothing not available closer in town, but some cousin of Nom’s wanted to meet there (was going with some other families from his kid’s day care). Bambini had fun. They really liked the climbing thing (elevated tubes to crawl through, padded ramps and stairs, slides, things to push, etc). I kept thinking a few hundred in spare construction materials, and I could build them one in the basement. Sadly, (a) would likely cost 1000’s in materials, and (b) they’d probably play on it for 1 day then get bored with it. Hedgefund also really liked the little carousel. The horses went up-and-down and side-to-side. I almost got seasick. Ironic: 5 years in the Navy, and I almost get seasick on a kids’ ride.
warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)
Entirely separate concepts, on two separate days. I just like the alliteration in the title.

SEA… well BEACH anyhow: Yesterday, we took the kids to the beach. Was supposed to be Hedgefund's swimming lesson, but it got cancelled. We got the call when we were already en route, with bathing suits under our clothes. We tried to think of something else to do, and Nom remembered she always wanted to visit the beach/nature preserve at Cap St Jacques. My usual feeling about beaches is "have a nice time, I'll pack you sandwiches and sunscreen," but it was a family outing. There was an organic farm, which had some animals that you couldn't pet; and lots of flies, which were quite happy to pet you. Then we went to the beach. Pristine water, sparkling sand… okay, not even close. North shore of Montreal Island is a very far cry from a Caribbean island in more than straight-line distance. Murky water and more mud than sand. Still, it was a beach, and the kids enjoyed wading and splashing.

SUSTENANCE & SOCIETY: (Wanted something closer to ethno-cultural identity, but "society" was the best I could manage that would alliterate. Hoisted on my own petard by that alliteration thing.) Yeah, anyhow, for Breakfast had lox and bagels, for Lunch had poutine, and for Dinner had bún thit nuong. Somewhere in there had some tea, even if didn't have Tea. Yup, touched all the ethno-cultural culinary bases in one day.
warriorsavant: (Composite)
Am I ever going to retire? What does that mean anyhow? How do work life and personal identity interrelate?

This thoughts inspired by a friend's posting (https://jillianpage.com/2018/07/22/retirement-one-foot-in-the-grave/#comment-11807) Most of this is from my reply to her post, with some quoting from another reply.

"Retirement," like many labels, seems to be all-inclusive in its description, whereas it really just means "ceasing to work at a certain well-defined job." I think that goes hand-in-hand with defining yourself as what you do for a living (farmer, lawyer, journalist, etc).

Admittedly, what you do for a living, for most people, is how they spend the majority of their waking hours, and often an important part of their identity, but the be all and end all of their existence, if they don't want it to be.

Another reply to that posting (regb1957) gave a good list things one can "do" in retirement. If your health is good, you can carve out another career for yourself, if you want to. If you want to be at the beck and call of someone else that is. Retirement means you won’t have to, you can do things you want to do, when you want to do them. Write a novel; start a business; campaign for xxx rights; get more deeply involved with local politics, whatever.

All good points, but even that begs the question of if we should define ourselves by what we "do" rather than what we "are."

I think in general people retire later when they enjoy their work. As you know, I'm not going to retire anytime soon, having 2 kids to put through medical school (and they are not even in kindergarten yet). Even if that were not a factor, I like what I do, so can't see giving up doing it any time before 80-? 90-? The key is to recognize when you are no longer capable of doing it well, and stepping down at the height of your game (at least when still in good form), not been pushed out for incompetence. In another 10 years will likely slow down a bit, but not stop.

Even that, again, pushes the question of "who am?" to be answered by "this is what I do for a living." As you know, Gentle Readers, I am a professional (in the older meaning of "learned profession") and that does come with a sense of identity more than most jobs, but I get to largely keep that identity even after retirement. I have multiple identities (as we all do), but sometimes have to remind myself that father/husband/family man is as much my identity as what I do for a living.

La Ronde

Jul. 19th, 2018 12:19 pm
warriorsavant: (Warriordaddy)
Took the kids to La Ronde*, the big amusement park in Montreal. Hedgefund wanted go on the rides, which surprised me. She had previously been very afraid of anything like that, but then she previously had been 3 years old, so things change. Apparently they have some mini-rides at one of the shopping malls that she'd been on, and at the most recent Family Day in our local park she enjoyed the pony ride, which the year before she had been terrified of.

I've never been big on amusement park rides. The concept of paying good money for something designed to evoke sensations a normal person tries to avoid (nausea & overwhelming fear - they're there for a reason) makes no sense to me. If I wanted to do that, I could more simply and cheaply walk through a bad neighborhood with 20$ bills hanging out of my pockets. As a teenager, I once or twice went to an amusement park near me, called Adventurers Inn, but I don't recall much about it. I doubt I went on any of the rides. I've been a wuss sensible since an early age. Come to think of it, the scariest thing about deploying with the Army was the roll-over training.**

We bought a season pass, because they were on sale for only 2$/person more than single entry. (And before you scoff, Nom has scheduled us to go back tomorrow.) First thing was going on the mini-rail, an elevated monorail that loops around the park. Well, it was supposed to loop around the park, but due to the installation of the fireworks launcher (they have a twice weekly international fireworks competition in summer), it only went halfway around, and we had to walk back. Then we had overpriced lunch (tomorrow we're bringing our own food) and went on the kiddie rides. That's about my speed (literally and metaphorically). Hedgefund really liked the carrousel ponies that went up-and-down. I rode next to her, and Wallstreet, being the sensible tyke that he is (takes after his papa), rode on one of the fancy, fixed benches with Nom. I think the waiting times to get on the rides were longer than the rides, but not outrageous like at Disney Land/World/Universe. They had fun. Hedgefund really enjoyed the rides, and Wallstreet tolerated them, plus just enjoyed looking and people and things (which he could have done just as well on a crowded downtown street). Surprisingly, I enjoyed it too. Obviously enjoyed being with my family and seeing them having such fun, but kind of directly enjoyed it.***



-----------------------
*It was built as the amusement park for the Expo 67 Worlds Fair. I dimly remember coming up here with my family as a child for Expo 67. I was kept open as a stand-alone for quite a while, went bankrupt, then was bought up by Six Flags. It is the largest amusement park in Quebec, second largest in Canada; I don't know where it stands on world rankings, if there is such a thing. It is on one of the smaller islands near Montreal (which itself is actually on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, so technically I live on an archipelago).
** Simulates being in a vehicle that rolls over, to train you how to get out of an darkened, upside down armored vehicle. It is the cabin of a vehicle attached to a frame that can roll it. The windows are blacked out, and there are a bunch of empty plastic soda bottles that bounce around to further disorient you (in a real vehicle roll over, there would be lots of things bouncing around, many of them heavy and metal). You strap in, they roll over the vehicle 2-3 times. The first go-around, they stop it on its side; the second time, they stop it completely upside down. Then you have to unstrap and extract yourself.
*** I have a bit of memory of being very small and going on some kiddie rides with my mom. I think a local dinner had a little play park on the side. I can see in my mind's eye a carrousel, but our riding on the fixed bench instead of the horses; and a bright green caterpillar with a happy face that went around a track. I wasn't scared going on the rides, but for some reason, up until now, every time I remembered that scene, I found it terribly sad. I don't know why, but every time I'd flash back to it, I'd get very sad. After taking the kids to La Ronde, I look back on that scene with something resembling happiness.

warriorsavant: (Venice)
I'm on vacation. Had a jam-packed off Friday. I was expecting that, as there are always people I want to see before I shut down for 2 weeks, so the week before, and especially the day before, I shut down, are always packed with last minute issues. I'm not going anywhere, it's more of what we in these parts call as "staycation," a.k.a. "going to Kitchen Inn," or in French, "balconville."

Started off the vacation with a great show. Montreal is big on festivals. Trying to prove we're a first-ranked megacity. We ain't, but we have fun. All summer there are different festivals: jazz, comedy, movies, etc. This week is Montréal Complètement Cirque ("Montreal Completely Circus"), and last night there was a free show of Phénix (https://montrealcompletementcirque.com/en/program/shows/phenix/ ). Picnic in the park, and watch juggling, dance, acrobatics, and more. Most circuses in Montreal are inspired by Cirque du Soleil; maybe most around the world now. More fantasia, more choreography. I think needed in the modern world. A century ago, could watch someone juggle 3-4 balls and be totally fascinated. Now we've all seen better on television, so need more than the simple acts/actions. Children and adults (we met some friends there) all really enjoyed.

We went via Metro, which was a first for the kids. They handled it well. Good. They're urban kids, they should be comfortable on the Metro. More comfortable in Montreal than NYC, because Metro here is rubber tired and therefore doesn't hurt the ears. (That's one of the things I no longer appreciate about NYC. I don't mind the bigness and crowds, I don't like noise to the level of phyically painful. Put dang rubber tires on the subways, or otherwise engineer them better.) Not all the Montreal Metro stations are stroller friendly, but I find strollers do fine on the wide escalators. For the stations that only had stairs, we just looked around for some young man looking friendly and reasonable strong to help me carry it up or down the stairs while Nom herded the kids.
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: (Warriordaddy)
Many will tell you that education is the key to getting a good job, good life, and avoiding manual drudgery. For much of human history, that meant being able to avoid laboring in the fields. So, for the first relatively cool day in a while, we two university-educated parents took our young kids to pick berries. The irony is not lost on me that what is considered horrid grinding work if you have to do it, can be the epitome of leisure if doing it for a lark.

Quinn Farms is about 35 minute drive from where we are. I've always been amazed that for a city of it's size, from Montreal you can be in farm country in 30-45 minutes. I think because Canada has such a relatively small population for its size, the cities are not as widely surrounded by suburban sprawl as in the US or Europe. Quinn Farms is large, clean, and well-run. We got there early before it was too hot or too crowded. First we went to look at the animals. The kids, urban-raised that they are, were fascinated by the future chops, wings, steaks, and bacon animals. Some you could pet (eg sheep), and some you couldn't (eg pigs), which I imagine depends on how likely they are to bite you if annoyed. In with the chickens was one larger, bald-headed bird, which I think was a turkey. Or possibly a vulture (or turkey vulture?). Naw, turkey.

After that, took a ride on a wagon behind a tractor out to the fields. (WS loves tractors, and they had several old ones he got to climb on.) HF was very into picking strawberries, and quickly filled her basket. WS mostly waited for mom to pick some, then ate them. I noticed they had different fields with different crops, which ripened at different times, cleverly allowing them to have tourist custom at all times during the spring, summer, and fall. As part of it's being a working farm, there was an area you couldn't go into: dusty tracks connecting buildings made of sheet metal or of old shipping containers. Reminded me of my Army days.

After that, went back to the main area, had BBQ lunch, then hit the shop (toys, souvenirs, fresh eggs, etc). It was a great day for the kids, and for us. Nom is thinking of going back with her parents. I think her dad might enjoy the new experience, but her mom is more likely of the "we went to university to avoid this kind of work" philosophy. I'm thinking we could create a VN version. Instead of BBQ for lunch, could have pho; instead of sheep, could have water buffalo; and instead of berries, could pick rice.
warriorsavant: (Dr. Injecto)
The CDA (Canadian Dermatology Association) annual meeting was in Montreal this year. I've gotten less and less interested in attending meetings, but felt I needed to support the home time. Why less interested in conferences? Firstly, if they are out of town, I don't really want to be out of town/away from family these days. Secondly, even if local, I get less out of them than I used to. My first AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) meeting as a first year Resident, every day, I scheduled a breakfast session, morning session, lunch session, afternoon session. After 3-4 days, I couldn't see straight, but everything was new and interesting. By now, I've been doing this for a day or two. The speakers are mostly invited because they have published in the leading journals, and I read those journals, so I likely already know what they have to say. Further, either they are saying things I agree with, in which case I am already doing them; or they are saying things I disagree with, in which case I'm not going to do them.

Many people attend for the social side of things, but I'm not that sociable, nor am I much of a networker, nor do I want to be attending dinners away from my family, so again, not that much incentive to go.

All that having been said, there were some good sessions, and I did learn a few things, and make a few contacts that might prove useful as I try to move more into the research side of things. Well have to see how that part plays out.
warriorsavant: (Default)
First: Happy Canada Day. The cliché is that we have 2 seasons here: winter and Canada Day Weekend. Feels true this weekend. Summer has arrived with a vengeance. Even Nom, who is always cold, feels that it's too hot, and she grew up planting rice in the Mekong Delta. Well, not really, but is cancelling her plans to talk the kids to going to school in U. Hawaii, and more thinking U. Northwest Territories. It is the sort of weather that we here in Canada refer to as "a taste of your afterlife if you've been sinful, and those Gentle Readers in the Carolinas refer to as "an average week day." Anyhow, into the 30's (90's). We took the kids to the wading pool today. At least they had fun.

Been the nerd/science guy that I am, I've been able to use metric for most things for a long time. Kind of bilingual in that. Since moving to Canada, became more "bilingual" (bimetric?). It's odd, but although officially metric, most people use Imperial for day-to-day items. Example: drivers licenses list height in weight in metric, but everyone will give you their height and weight in Imperial. The one thing that most people do use metric for every day, is temperature, and that is one thing I had the most trouble with. In the past year or so, I've been forcing myself to think in Celsius, and it's starting to sink in.
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
Was in NYC week before last. Haven't had time to write about it. 'till now. Family: One of Nom's cousins on her mother's side got married. Big family on that side, cousins in Montreal, NYC, Maryland, California, Texas, and even Paris (France, not Texas). Every 2-3 years someone gets married and they have a family reunion at the same time. I think if no one has plans to get married after 3 years, they hold a lottery and draft someone to have nuptials as an excuse to have a reunion. Maybe not, but still it is a nice touch to have reunions. I usually sit at the table with all the other white guys who married into the family; they're both quite nice. We used it as a reason to have a mini-vacation and so I could see my sister and friends. With two small ones, and the in-laws, driving wasn't practical, so flew, and rented a van once down there. Surprisingly no problems with flights, the only travel kerfuffle was the traffic getting out to Long Island (suburban to NYC, where both the wedding and the reunion were held, 1-hour-ish away). I expect bad traffic in NYC, but it was weird, practically at a stand-still up to a certain point, for no obvious reason: no construction at that point, no accidents, just crawling along, then suddenly moving.


Wednesday )



Thursday )



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Saturday )


Sunday/Monday )


Random Thoughts/Comments )
warriorsavant: (Renovations)
Finally sold the old condo. The closing went fine, and happy mood prevailed. They seem like a nice couple, and I sincerely wish them joy and happiness in their new home. Nom & I went out for a nice lunch (without the kids) in celebration.

Last night, went to say goodbye to the old place, with Nom and the kids. I love where my life is now, but it was still very sad. I'd lived there for over 10 years. It was the adult, sophisticated, urban apartment. Not perfect (nothing ever is), but it was really cool. I had some bad times there, but many good times also. I really felt it was my home. After leaving the house where I grew up, nothing ever felt really permanent/like a real home that was mine. That condo did feel that way. This house mostly does, but haven't lived here long enough to really have a connection.

Not only was the condo the sophisticated, etc, etc, it was where I was living when I met Nom, and we had our kids and got married.* Wallstreet was too young to remember it, but Hedgefund definitely did and was very sad. I have so many memories of her as a baby and toddler there. The kids were standing on the window ledge, looking at cars going past. I remember holding her on that ledge (she was standing, I was making sure she didn't fall off), and when a car went past, she'd wave, and say "bye car," and smile.

Then we left, waved, and said "bye house," but weren't smiling.


*Very traditional: get married, move in together, have kids…. just not quite in that order. We actually got married at the condo in an intimate home ceremony.
warriorsavant: (Default)
Or, I could have just titled this "various: mostly about family."

A small boast. The other day I had to do an excision on a 7-year old. I usually defer these until teen years when the child is ready and wants it, but the lesion was physically hurting her and mom talked her into doing it. I managed to do the local anesthesia (eg by injection) without her so much as saying "ouch" or otherwise seeming to be uncomfortable even once. Pinch the skin, keep talking to the patient ("talkesthesia" - which is not easy for me), and inject very, very, very slowly.

I don't know how I'd handle one of my kids going in for major surgery or other serious medical issue. For doctor's visits, Nom is the designated parent; I usually go too, but not always. For minor, but more-than-doctor's-office stuff, I'm the designated parent, and Nom sometimes goes also, but not always. Hedgefund, for all her fussiness has been fairly good with blood draws, ultrasounds, and other other more-than-doctor's-office stuff. Some of that credit goes to the staff at Montreal Children's Hospital, some she picks up from my attitude that medical things are normal, and some is she just has different things that do and don't bother her.

When Wallstreet describes / refers to something as "big," he always makes his voice BIG when he says it (eg "that big truck"). I don't mean louder, but he purses his lips, deepens his voice slightly, and makes the word resonate.

We have a Vietnamese landscape painting that belonged to Nom's paternal grandfather. Her father, who is a bit of a pack rat, had it at home and gave it to us when we moved to the new house. He had also tried to unload a bunch of other art on us which we declined. However this piece is a bit of family history. The grandfather had been in the Vietnamese Army, rising up to Colonel. He was initially in the Army under the French and a prisoner during the Japanese occupation, then when the country was divided in 1954, was in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The painting was a gift from his junior officers when he was promoted to Colonel, out of their personal respect for him. I love history, and family history, and so am interested to know about this piece. Last night, I sat with FIL and asked him about the painting and about his father, which I think pleased him. BIL, other than having some self-identity as VN, doesn't care at all about VN history, culture, family history, etc (which is why we got that painting, not him). Nom cares, but not in an organized way. I am going to do a small write-up about the piece. I've done that for several items I've picked up over the years that are either antique, or have a personal/family story, or are otherwise unusual. I am doing this part for myself, but more so some day I'll be able to tell the kids about their great-great grandfather.

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