Apr. 10th, 2019 06:44 pm
warriorsavant: (Time)
(Sorry haven't been posting much, but busier than usual. Am working on one about Dorothy Sayers and academia, but it hasn't gelled yet.)

My mom had a large paper calendar that lived inside the kitchen cupboard door. Ever year she'd buy a new one, and transfer recurring events (birthdays, etc), which took maybe 5 minutes (recurring events were in red with a cute emblem, non-recurring in black). My parents never missed an appointment, never were confused about when and where to be, never forget a birthday. Since we have modern efficient of PDA and Outlook and Calendar (as opposed to a calendar), everything takes 10 times longer to be organized, things get lots, appointments don't happen, gizmos break, hitting the wrong button wipes out your entire schedule.

Plus I never remember to look at it in a timely fashion. One could have the same problem with paper calendars, but somehow those I always managed to look at.
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: (Composite)
Getting back to a few more serious posts that were sketched out, but not cleaned up.

Was talking a few months ago with a colleague. He is newly on staff at McGill. Already had a PhD when he got to us, finished our residency program few years ago, was faculty elsewhere for a bit, and now is back on staff with us. He is interested in research, very hard-working, and also very astute politically/socially, so he'll go far. We had dinner to talk about his taking over some of my administrative teaching duties, and also talking about projects we could work on in common.

Years ago, when I was even more neurotically obsessional than I am now, I had not only a "to do" list, but several of them: (A) to do top priority, (B) to do soon-ish, (C) to do sometime this year, and (D) to do sometime this lifetime. I still keep to do list(s), because you can't be this busy and get stuff done without tracking things, but I'm not that bad. I suppose the 'to do this lifetime" list still exists, but only in the back of my mind. There are things that have already dropped off of it, for example, I'm not really going to go back and take music lessons again (last time was grade school). Still had several things that I was going to do, some starting when this current time crunch (the one that started before Hedgefund was born, and will end when house and office properly set up).

Now, I'm not so sure. One thing that already had faded into the background was intense French lessons (and possible even other languages). I can get by, but nowhere near as good as I'd like. Had always been planning on improving it "when I had time." However, since I am, and have been, good enough, I always had higher priority things to do. At this point, and not going to take weeks-months off for French immersion somewhere, or even devote xxx hours/week to it. (Although reading childrens books to HF & WS might be helping a bit.) I had definitely been thinking that would like to get more involved in teaching and/or research. In fact, am already as involved in teaching as I'm going to get. Research? Right now, it feels like just opening another can of worms, and I've spent so much time the past few years (decades?) herding enough worms. Do I really want to bother? Not sure. Some part of me still does, but after listening to my colleague bubbling with plans, energy, and enthusiasm, I'm thinking going to work, then coming home and biting toes seems about all I want to do. Admittedly, soon enough they'll be too old for toe-biting, but there will be other things. We'll see. There are lots of political games and paperwork involved in research also, and I've had enough of the latter, and was never very good at the former. Right now I'm tired, and thinking that the roads not yet taken will just have to be traveled by other people, not me.
warriorsavant: (Renovations)
The contractor told us he was finished. The house is being cleaned as I type this. We went to look at it yesterday. Moving soon. Should feel exciting and happy, but feeling very sad.

Many reasons for this: we've been renovating so long it feels like my normal life to be doing that; moving itself is a hassle (although have done so many times before, have more stuff now); this is the only home the kids have ever known and don't know how they will adapt; I've been living here for 12? 14? years now and am used to it and comfortable; I'm a city boy through-and-through, and the condo feels more urban versus the house being more suburban (they're only 8 minutes drive apart, but half-hour walk and in very different neighbourhoods, things more convenient near condo); the house is much bigger and I rather like everything close at hand, rather than possibly 2 floors away; this is likely my last move ever so has a certain grim finality to it.
warriorsavant: (Meh)
In some countries, even very open ones, your can only give your child a name from the officially approved list. In Quebec, including multi-cultural Montreal, there's no such list (although the fringe Separatists would no doubt love to require a properly French name), but the government can refuse names if they are too weird. Yeah, yeah, you're the parent, but your kid has to live with being named Eggplant, so we're not going to let you do it. So, with all the choice available, how is it it seems like every second person has one of a handful of names. If I'm emailing, I have to be careful to select the correct Maria, Anna Maria, Anna, or Elena. (There are some others, but these tend to cause the most problems, although several people share similar names to my lovely wife.) How is it with your kith & ken, Gentle Readers. When you start typing in certain names to your email, do you get several people with the same & similar names? How often do you end up emailing the wrong person?
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: (Computer-steampunk)
After my computer crash, I could access emails on my phone, and was able to answer many of them. Others required access to files on my computer (or were to be saved on said computer), and I put them in a "hold" file on my server until such time as was back up and running. In the 10 or so days I was doing this, I accumulated 130+ emails. In between more important tasks such as nibbling toes, I spent hours yesterday and today dealing with them (plus paper files I'd set aside). I'm down to single digits. It's amazing how much stuff has to be dealt with in modern life in that short period of time. I think we spend half our lives just doing the administrative side of having a life.
warriorsavant: (Time)
This is not a "look at how screwed up xxx is" post. I'm referring to the mathematical concept of chaos, and having once demonstrated it to myself. I came across some old notes about it, seem to have been drawn from Jame Fleick's book Chaos: Making of a New Science. The short version is that we think that most systems are linear, when in fact linear is only a small subset of systems, or those systems only within limited parameters.

He gives the simple example of graphing the salmon population in a river, where, and adjusting how it changes year-to-year depending on the fertility (which would increase the population) and the mortality (which would decrease it). Run the numbers year-to-year, and graph it (either by hand, or computer). (Eek, math, scary… that's what computers are for silly, just go with the flow, it's a fascinating exercise.) Use the following parameters:
   P = this year's population. (As fraction of maximum supportable salmon population in that river. E.g. 1 = 100 of supportable population, 0.6 = 60% of supportable population.)
   F = fertility (I don't know how they derived it, probably something about how many viable offspring one can expect from salmon reproducing? It's set between 0 and 4 to make the examples work- you'll see why shortly)
   mortality = 1 - this year's population
      Next years population = (P x F x mortality) or (P x F) x (1-P)
         To feed it into a spreadsheet, next year's population = P*F*(1-P)
      Repeat with each successive year becoming "this year" and graph result.

If F (fertility)  <3, population quickly becomes stable.
As F increases, population becomes bi-phasic (alternates between 2 values), then quadriphasic (alternates between 4 nubmers), then octaphasic (8 numbers), then 16-phasic (I forget if there's a word for that), 32 phases… then it becomes completely chaotic.

When I graphed different values for F:
3.25 -> 2 phases
3.5 -> 4 phases
3.55 (through 3.5555555555) -> 8 phases
3.565 -> 16-phases
3.568 -> 32-phases
3.70 -> total chaos

Understand that when I first ran this experiment, I was alone, in a bad mood, and it was night. I sat there and watched this little graphing experiment rip away the veneer of orderliness of the universe, revealing the seething chaos underneath.  It was a very strange and unsettling experience.
warriorsavant: (Wedding/Romance)
I sit. The fire is burning. I am drinking a glass of Pimm's No. 1 Cup, a novel at hand. My lovely wife is seated nearby also reading. Our children are wreaking havoc frolicking. To paraphrase [ profile] ravensron, I wish I go back and see my 20-year old self and say "kid, don't worry, it all turns out alright for you." I am happy.
warriorsavant: (Warriordaddy)
Hedgefund clearly is my daughter / a true scion of my family. When she doesn’t like someone or something (at the moment), she says “go away xxx.” Just now, she was mad at Nom, and then me. I asked if she was mad at everybody. Answer: “Go away everybody.” Yeah kid, pretty much how I feel much of the time.
warriorsavant: (Time)
We are the sum of our experiences. Maybe there's a soul in there too, personally couldn't say. Regardless, consciousness is a mix of our beliefs/thoughts and our past. Robbing us or our memories robs us of ourselves, which is why dementia is so terrifying to contemplate.

I am the Dermatology consultant on a study of a new Alzheimer's drug. (Seems earlier trials showed some cases of pigmentary abnormalities, and FDA/Health Canada mandated that subsequent trials required a at least two total skin exams.)

By definition, Alzheimer's is early-onset dementia. Well, that was the original definition; there are characteristic histological findings, but that is on autopsy. There are also other causes of early dementia, but these details aren't relevant here. What is relevant is that the patient I was screening the other day (who didn't seem very demented) was only a little older than I am. An slightly uncomfortable feeling, a bit of "there but for the grace of God…"

Later that day I saw a doctor I've known since I was a Resident. Haven't seen much of him lately, but he is someone who is a Part Of My Past. Not much older than I am either. Seems he's having memory troubles now. He said that some of it was related to a blood pressure medicine he'd been on, and has gotten a bit better since being switched to another one. However, he is no longer teaching, and seemed sometimes to have trouble getting to the facts. Part of that can be put down to his manner of speech, which goes with his branch of medicine (few are as crisp and to the point as Dermatology), but some really did seem to be memory loss. Someone I knew well for many years. Someone only a few years older than me. More than slightly uncomfortable. Closer to terror.
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
In is Canadian Thanksgiving (Monday observance).

I have so much to be thankful for.

- My family. I could not believe I could be this happy, nor love having children so much. I get weepy just thinking about it.
- My family of birth. We don't seem close, but when I look at other families, I realize how good we have it.
- My extended family. They are loving and supportive.
- My job. I love what I do: 90% of the time, I basically like it; 5% of the time, I think they aren't, and couldn't pay me enough to put up with the cruddy parts; but 5% of the time, I can't believe I get to do this cool stuff, and they even pay me.
- I'm healthy. Not perfectly healthy, but way better than the average 60-year old.
- I live in a free and wealthy country. Even at the worst, it's a great place to live, and I have it far from "the worst."
- I was born, and still a citizen of, another great, free, and wealthy country. Ditto the above. (And both of these, despite the idiots we have as leaders.)
- I served in the military for a long time. Deployed 4 times to war zones. It was truly an honour. (And I'm physically unscathed.)
- I have a lovely, comfortable condo in a good part of a great city, and will soon by moving into a lovely, comfortable, large house in another good part of this city.
- I have enough to eat, and can eat with great variety and delicious taste whenever I want.
- I have traveled the world. I'm (mostly) bilingual. Having a second language gives one a second soul.
- I can read, and have books as my companions whenever I want.

I am so lucky.
warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)
Like all parents, I think ruefully of the many phrases I heard my parents tell me, that I swore I would never utter, and now find myself saying.

The phrase my childhood self found the most ridiculous was, "I'm cold, put on your sweater." Now that I'm a parent... I still find it ridiculous. I NEVER say that. Alas, Nom, lovely and intelligent as she is, still believes in it. I guess she has no choice; it's in chapter one of The Mothers' Manual: Things You Absolutely Must Say And Do.

The other day, I took Hedgefund out for a walk. It was a bit cool, so I put her jacket on her. At some point, she decided she didn't want to wear it and took it off. I, negligent parent that I clearly am, made no attempt to stop her, even though I was wearing my jacket. After a few minutes, she realized that she was cold, and put her jacket back on. Let me repeat the key point for those Gentle Readers who might not have caught it (eg the mothers in the crowd): she realized that she was cold and took appropriate action.

Putting on my scientist hat, allow me to point out that all organism regulate their homeostasis, which in the case of humans and temperature, includes adjusting one's clothing-wearing. Here endeth the sermon.
warriorsavant: (Time)
Hedgefund has gotten pretty stable on her feet. However, when she is going up or especially down stairs, I still pace her to catch her if she falls. Sometimes she accepts it, sometimes she waves me away, as she has a (largely realistic) independent streak about doing things herself.

The last time Dad was able to travel was 2006. WWC and he and I went to the UK (Wales & northwest England). WWC was part of a Gilbert & Sullivan festival held in Buxton, England, and Dad went with her for fun. I was returning from somewhere or something (I forget what) and meet up with them to go traveling.

It was a fun trip. Although we didn't know it would be Dad's last trip anywhere outside NYC, at 86, he was starting to get a little unstable on his feet. Not for well-paved and level roads, but on hills and cobblestones we were a little worried about him, so subtly one of us walked on either side of him. Well, we thought subtly. At some point, turned to me, said he knew what we were doing and appreciated it, then he grinned. I don't know if the grin was because he actually did appreciate it, or because he had caught us; probably a bit of both. 
warriorsavant: (Meh)
Seriously up to my a** in alligators. Just barely beginning to see my way through the swamp. Details to trickle out soon. Been a long while since felt under this much load (maybe internship?). However, this too shall pass, with support of my loving wife, diligence, hard work, and kicking some butt.
warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
I've started atorvastatin (Lipitor). I've alway run high-normal to borderline-high cholesterol, whether or not I exercise or take fish oil supplements. I've mostly ignored it, as my doctor* kept telling me it wasn't high enough to justify treating. I've not really wanted to do any other treatment, because I really didn't want to start on medication, because that's what old people do: "Oy, pills. I gotta take my pills. So many pills. All dese pills..." On the one hand, it's not really that high. On the other hand, atherosclerotic heart disease runs in my family, and even if we tend to live to a ripe old age, that's sometimes after the cardiac bypass surgery, which procedure I'd rather bypass. I'm not happy, but gotta be a big boy and do what's right.

*Yes, I have a doctor. I do more of my own health care than I probably should, but as ancient saying truthfully says, "doctor who treats his own illnesses has a fool for a patient," so I actually see my family doctor (or some other doctor) to make the judgement call on any but the least serious issues. Similar comment for lawyers, and likely other professionals.
warriorsavant: (Time)
It seemed very odd that yesterday, Tuesday, was outwardly an ordinary day. All the things that normally happen on Tuesdays happened. I went to my office, and saw patients (fortunately rather lightly booked). Didn't see any reason to take more time off: I won't feel better doing that, I won't process the event any less, I'd just end up sitting around feeling non-productive as well as personally unhappy. Part of the reason for rituals about mourning is to give people defined roles so that know how to act during a time when no words or actions are actually sufficient. I'm not religious, so I took the role of going through my normal day, accepting the condolences and kind wishes of friends and acquaintances, and continue to process things inwardly, as is my habit.

Actually, writing what I did helped with the processing. I am someone who often thinks by writing things out. I realize I was indeed fortunate in who I had as parents.

It’s odd and a bit sad, but day-to-day didn’t think about what they (and at this moment, especially he) meant to me, and how he influenced me. I suppose that’s normal, day-to-day we all only think about day-to-day concerns. If you’d asked me before, I sometimes have said he and I were not particularly close, even that the whole family wasn’t particularly close overall. Yet as I think about it, and see other families, I realize we had, and have, a quiet closeness and respect in our family.

Now I need to cultivate that with my children, who someday will be looking back on my life.


Dec. 3rd, 2015 10:53 am
warriorsavant: (Meh)
First of all, you'd think the kids would have already been able to get out and about on their own: prepare dinner, run up to the store when we're out of beer, etc. Instead, all they do, especially the 2-month old, is sit around and look cute. Okay, they have other actions, such being the prince & princess of pooh (well, by rights make that the princess and prince), queen & king of kaka, empress & emperor of excrement, sultana & sultan of... well, never mind.

Anyhow, they are really cute. HF is starting to say letters. I don't think she actually knows what they are but has some idea that there is a sequence: if Nom says a, she says b, and so on (I think up to h). She can also "sing" the alphabet song, but wordlessly, just using baby-babble/nonsense syllables, but you hear the rhythm. And yes, elemenohpee is a letter. In French also. (Well, it's elemenohpay in French.)

Have some other big projects which will get into later, but they are being held up, which is really annoying. One of which is because of massive stupidity on the part of the other party. I am seriously not pleased, and if it falls through will be suing his butt at the very least.

Other petty annoyances include the fact that most people can't answer a simple question in their native language. I don't know why I'm still surprised. My late, great-uncle told me that many, many years ago. Also, world, when you go into someone else's office, you do not sit in their chair. I realize that since I set the desks and chairs in the exam rooms at an angle* it could be confusing to people, but somehow the people who sit in my chair have a higher than average chance of being pompous, self-important a**holes.

Oh, and hold off on the Christmas stuff for a couple more weeks. In the US, with Thanksgiving at end of November, only just starting, but some stores in Canada have been ramping up since just after Hallowe'en.

Yeah, grumble, grumble, whine, snarl. At least there's a scotch tasting at my accountant's tonight (annual good will towards the clients thing), so life will get better then. I'll take the kids, time to start them off right.

*I don't like sitting across the desk from someone, as it forms a barrier. In each exam room, I have a small, triangular desk (well, actually a short pentagon, with the point in the corner of the room), with the patient and I sitting at right angles. It's more personal, and if I need to see or feel something, I can just lean forward a little. That having been said, one chair is clearly at the of the desk, and one clearly at the side. It is possible for someone to be confused, but as noted, those who get confused are p, s-i a-h.


Nov. 12th, 2015 09:16 pm
warriorsavant: (Time)

Did my monthly clinic at Ste Anne's Veterans Hospital today. As always, it is a mix of sadness and pride to be doing so. These are the men (and a few women) of the "Greatest Generation," or at least, those who fought the most horrible war in history, setting the foundations for what we enjoy today. Now they are elderly and feeble, the few who remain.

I felt especially solemn and sad today. Probably partly because it is the day after Veterans (Remembrance) Day. I think also because I have just gotten my first pension check for my military service. I won't compare my service to these men's, but I did well, and truly, and honorably serve and so earned that money. I did much less than many, but much more than many others. Regardless of how much I did, by getting said check, I am now a ROF (Retired Old Fart), U.S. Government certified old. True, by today's standards I'm still only middle-aged, and I have a young family to help keep me young, but I also look at the Vets at Ste Anne's and see my future.


warriorsavant: (Default)

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