warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)
"I like to feel a healthy breeze around my privates…" (very minor character from one of the Harry Potter books). Except it never gets down to -17ºC (0ºF) in Scotland; highlands, lowlands, midlands, outer islands, then or now; or they wouldn't have taken up wearing kilts. On the other hand, it was really just between house and car (in which I put a blanket over my bear legs) to and fro to my friend's house for his annual Robbie Burns Night.

Between everyone there, we had a total of perhaps 1.25 Scotsmen, but still great fun. Some food (limited what can be eaten on a keto diet; but a small amount of haggis won't ruin the diet). Some chat. Some scotch (just a wee dram… or four). Some poetry - actually my favorite part last night (even if I cheated and recited Dave Van Ronk). There was something fascinating about sitting in a cozy living room, reading poetry from 2-1/2 centuries ago, with people of 3 (4?) generations. The dark, warm, comfy feeling of being immersed in a warm, slow river of history.

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: (Cafe)
First day at the new office.
It is gorgeous. Everyone from Evil Secretary to my grumpier patients to my cheerier patients commented. ES had seen it in past week while we were unpacking and contractors still working on last details, so it was beautiful in her eyes to see it as the patients see it. Still a few details have to be finished, plus things needing to be sorted out and put away, plus inevitable changes later. All that having been said, I love it. Probably cost me a month's worth of patients to give it that elegant and slightly magical look (pix eventually), but worth it to me to not be working in what looks like a 2nd hand bus terminal, which is what half the doctors' offices around here look like. Although not as full-on magical-looking as I'd like, there is still an air of Hogwarts School of Dermatology and Witchcraft.
Of course, couldn't start off entirely smoothly, what with the ice storm yesterday and the walkway not properly salted. No one broke anything, which is a good thing. Booked fairly lightly until we get the hang of things. It's all the little things that feel wrong: where did I put this? Why is this 2 steps further away than I'm used to? (Doesn't sound like much, but 20+ years of muscle-memory makes things like that fell just slightly off.)


First day back at the hospital in a bit. Have been on-and-off between the Christmas Holidays and the move, but ramped up full time. First patient was easy: rectal melanoma. You read that correctly. What is usually a skin cancer, highly correlated to UV exposure, manifesting inside someone's rectum. Super rare. Had already been diagnosed and half-worked up, but she landed on my doorstep because she'd been shuffled around, didn't really know who to trust, or where to go. I told her frankly that I was not the person who would be able to treat her condition, but I would take charge of getting her to the best place and quickly.
A couple of other patients had odd cases of "who has been treating your case of xxx as yyy for how long?" Not grossly wrong, but the sort of thing that sometimes gets passed down as diagnosis xxx from one doctor to another, made sense initially, but nobody rechecked the facts when it didn't seem to be behaving as it should. Sometimes all I do is get people routed to the correct place. That can be a big thing by itself.


Came home, salted the walkway in front of the house, then had kids climb all over me (that's what is referred to as rearing children). Very tired, but life is good.
warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)
Well, mostly Scots - or rather Scotch - and poetry. It was my friends' annual Burns Night party. "And so we've had another night of poetry and poses." Okay that line is from a rather grim poem, which doesn’t really go with such a great and fun evening, but I do like the line, so using it. (So there, nyah.)*

Unfortunately, went solo, as Nom was feeling under the weather, and we weren't sure about bringing the kids. Next year though, we're going en famille.

It was a chance to socialize, which I don't do often, a chance to drink Scotch, which I don't do often enough, and a chance to wear my kilt, which I don't more than about once/year. Met some nice people. Also met a nice Scotch last night, called Edradour. Supposedly the smallest distillery in Scotland. Nice, slightly smokey taste.

Found out an interesting fact. Seems Robbie Burns was actually Jewish. Before revisionist historians anglicized (scotized?) the name, he was really Rabbi Bernstein, and later in life owned a deli, where the sandwiches were so generous, you could actually see the pastrami coming thru the rye.

Mar sin leat, Gentle Readers

*Last Call by Dave Van Ronk

warriorsavant: (Sword & Microscope 1)
I recently picked up a book on the life and times of Damon Runyon. As a native New Yorker, he is part of my soul. I haven’t started it yet, but had the whimsical notion of Anthony Burgess channeling Damon Runyon for parts of Clockwork Orange. Yes, I understand the differences*, but just imagine the opening scene of Clockwork Orange being done in an old New York accent:

     What is it going to be then, eh? There is four of us:
     me, and my 3 pals: No Nose Pete, Gorgeous George,
     the Dim the Horse, and we are sitting in the Kolovo Maloko
     Bar on Broadway, on the night this story begins, what I am
     telling you about, oh my brothers and only true friends.



* Remember that Runyon's gangsters might have seemed cute and cuddly the way he wrote them, but were actually just as brutal as Alex & his droogs.
  I'm also thinking that Runyon's writings were the source of the stock character of the wisecracking, pseudo-literate thugs like in Quentin Tarantino's films.
warriorsavant: (Quebec sait faire)
The Jabberwocky, despite certain Australian national-imperialistic-cultural-appropriation claims, is native to Canada, specifically the boreal forests of Quebec. The original spelling, as set down by that famous French author, Louis Carrolle (nom de plum of mathematician Charles Filsdedodg), was Jabberouiaqué. However this was likely derived from the Iroquois Jabrwukki, meaning "terrible creature with jaws that bite and claws that catch."  The Iroquois, despite being among the bravest people ever to walk this earth, had a great fear of it, as it was not until the European colonists arrived, with the ability to work steel into vorpal blades that anyone was ever able to slay one. Since that time, Jabberwockies have been hunted near to extinction, with only a few hiding out, playing cards with Bigfoot and Elvis.
warriorsavant: (HHG-Typing)

The question before us, Gentle Readers, is whether eBooks and reading on-line increased or decreased literacy/reading. (And I realize the potential irony of asking this in an on-line forum). This springs partly from a discussion I had with my siblings, and partly from one I had with a patient who was a university professor and had his eReader with him.

I love books. Physical books. Walking into a bookstore or library is a joy for me. Just stand there and imbibe the atmosphere. (Plus books don't need charged batteries and the operating system never crashes.) Some part of me always wanted to own a bookstore. Yet, no doubt, when bound books came in to replace scrolls, the ancients felt the same way that some folks today feel about eReaders. I love books, but I love reading more. I equally enjoy reading physical books and reading books on my iPad (does that make me ambidextrous, bilingual, or ACDC). Although attention spans have been getting shorter, I don't think the Internet or eBooks have caused the death of literacy. A movie comes out based on a book, and people buy or download the book. Have to remember that no business model is sacred - if the Internet changes the way people do business, so be it. Similarly, no model of preserving knowledge is sacred - be it oral tradition, scrolls, bound books, or eBooks. We adapt. Each has made the knowledge more accessible to more people.

Mars

Feb. 8th, 2012 12:12 pm
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
I am looking forward to the upcoming John Carter of Mars with a mix of joy and dread. This is one of the great SF classics, but what is Hollywood (and especially Disney) going to do to/with this story? I grew up reading Edgar Rice Burroughs. For those of you only familiar with the Hollywood version of his other great work, Tarzan, let me explain that Tarzan did not speak like a grade-school drop-out, he spoke Shakespearean English. And Jane, being an upper class English lady, would never shriek, much less cower. At least with the modern penchant for action-adventure females, we can assume (or at least have a reasonable hope) that Dejah Thoris will neither shriek nor cower, and more likely shoot anyone who ticks her off. And she will be beautiful, even if not having crimson skin:
   "Oh who is Sylvia and what is she, 
   That all our swains commend her.
   And who is Trojan Helen,
   E'en with Venus to defend her.
   And who is Juliet...
   These ladies all were quinces.
   No one would dare, to risk compare, with Cap't Carter's princess.
warriorsavant: (Staten Island Ferry)
This was the last travel that I had scheduled. Have been complaining about being on the road so much with the Army. However, I realize that even though I'll be happy to have most weekends sitting home, I do miss it. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that I'm not sure what to do without it. It was so much a part of my existence. Anyhow, Gentle Reader, I shall continue with my tales of daring-do and Dermatology for the weekend.

           The City itself:  It has changed much since I lived there. Overall much cleaner and safer. When I was doing the police ride-along, even that very bad neighborhood is much better, and some parts of it are even gentrified. There is a brand-new luxury condominium overlooking the northeast corner of Central Park. The Park itself is fairy-tale pretty at night. Even took a look at the old Flower-Fifth Avenue Hospital which had been owned by my medical school in years past. It no longer an acute care facility, but is still a beautiful building with a classy rotunda on top (I remember going up there with my g.f. of the time to, ah, admire the view). In its day, Flower was a great innovation - a hospital owned by a medical school for purposes of teaching. What a concept (since copied by every other medical school in the world). New York street pretzels - not sure I like them, but I do have one every trip - it's just part of the NY experience for me.
           Santa Claus?:  Heading back to my hotel, noticed a lot of folks in Santa and Elf costumes. Seeing the first group, I'd assumed they were coming from an office party. Then I kept seeing more and more. Apparently it was "SantaCon," which incorporates elements of a flash mob with bawdy and (usually) harmless behavior. Vaguely entertaining.
           VOLG:  Saturday night, had more formal Christmas entertainment, in the form of the VLOG show Scrooge. The slightly wacked out theater buffs of VLOG took the story of A Christmas Carole, set it to the music of their beloved Gilbert and Sullivan, with newly-written lyrics to match the story. It was a hoot. However I do wonder how long G&S societies will continue to flourish. When I was in school, it was a well-accepted bit of nerdiness to know (or at least know of) G&S. I think it is now too far removed in time for even nerdy students to know it. Sad. (And saying "sad" is likely proof I’m getting old.)
           Food and family and friends:  Some friends joined us at VLOG, including part of my sisters CCLN and [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67, who by his own admission has no sense of direction. (BTW, note to everyone I know in NYC: Although I will always be an New Yorker - it's my DNA - I actually haven't lived there in 3 decades. Don't ask me for directions. That is what Mapquest / GPS / maps / asking local residents is for.) Sunday morning, WWC, Dad, and I, being us, went out for dim sum. Dad is getting noticeably older every time I see him, which is painful. Still, he keeps hanging on; stubbornness can be a virtue. Later that day, met an Army friend for a couple of beers. I do miss the Army (already). He asked me how I was adapting to being out of the Army (looking towards it in the nearish future himself). As you know, Gentle Reader, the answer is "slow at best." Had similar conversation by email with another friend who got out a while ago. Still slow for him. One misses the adventure and the sense of belonging to something greater than oneself.
           Home again:  Flight home was uneventful, and here I be. Usually I take all the airline stickers off  my suitcase(s) as soon as I get home, but I think I'll start leaving them. Not as classy as the one's they put on steamer trunks in times past, but a bit of the same flavor of showing your mileage.
warriorsavant: (Time)
NB - most of this is supposed to be under cuts with clever intros, but LJ cut doesn't seem to be working today.

I am retired from the Reserves. I marched in the Veteran's Day parade and had a (mostly) formal military dinner. I also did "New York stuff" and saw many of the people I love best in the world. In all, an awesome week.
 
Hospital clinic on Tuesday morning - the first teaching clinic since I've been back. I told them to book me lightly, so I we almost had more Residents than patients. That did leave room for the inevitable add-ons and ER consults. I wasn't really in the rhythm of it, but have to start somewhere. Actually, my rhythm is always off at the hospital clinic. I’m used to my own office, where everything is laid out efficiently, but I enjoy being a teacher

The drive down was benign.  I listened to an Audiobook (ah, the joys of an iPad). I don't normally care for Audiobooks, but they make the time go by on the road. No travel kefuffles - I guess that future-tense flat tire the day before did indeed count as the problem for this trip.

Wednesday was a cultural day. First I had breakfast with Dad and WWC, then she and I met up with my favorite museum geek, [livejournal.com profile] oxymoron67, to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Discovery Center museum. I highly recommend this excellent exhibit; it's well-organized, well-balanced between historical explanations and artifacts, and just the right length. After that, WWC and I went to TKTS (half-priced same-day Broadway tickets), scored tickets, and saw Sister Act. Really good.
 
Welcomed the troops home on Thursday. My last official act in the Army was to welcome home one of my Forward Surgical Teams (FST). They spent 9 months in Afghanistan and were demobilizing at Ft. Dix (close to NYC). As their Brigade Commander, I went down to shake hands, eat lunch with them, and tell them I was proud of the job they had done. They really did do a great job; from the stats I got, I think they were the busiest FST in Afghanistan. I keep the speeches short, but I do want the troops to know that their work is appreciated by me, by the Army, by the country, and that I hoped they were proud of themselves, as they had a right to be.
 
In and around the whole week, I did the real work of an Army leader - I talked to people and signed lots of paperwork. (Napoleon got it wrong - an Army doesn't travel on its stomach, it travels on paperwork.) Later that day, I met up with Pipemajor (who, if you are keeping track, Gentle Reader, you will know was my Command Sergeant Major 2 commands ago). We had dinner at the local Italian restaurant we always used to go, then went over to Fraunces Tavern to scope it out and have a drink.
 
Saturday (yes, I'm skipping around), did more New York stuff. During the day, Pipemajor and I went sight-seeing. First we walked the High Line,* the second section of which is open. (Had done the first section with Davidthearchitect last year.) Then we headed over to MOMA (Museum of Modern Art). Neither of us are that big on modern art, but he'd never been to MOMA, and not entirely sure I had either, so we scoped out 2 floors-worth (2-3 hours - that's about all the museum-ing I can do in a day before sensory fatigue and cultural overload set in). There was a retrospective on de Koonig - definitely a screwed up individual, but interesting to see the development of his work. Also saw part of their standing exhibits, both such famous paintings as Van Gogh's Starry Night and some artists like Umberto Boccioni about whom I'd known nothing (but intend to read up on ). That night, we met up with a small party at the famous jazz club, the Blue Note. It was Chick Corea's 70th anniversary performance. He was playing with Gary Burton and the Harlem String Quartet. Never saw a string quartet doing jazz - probably never has been done before - but when you're Chick Corea, you can do anything you want, and it works.
 
Friday was the big day.
          During the day, I marched in the Veteran's Day Parade. I went in my Afghanistan uniform and marched with IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America). One bit of true Army (for old times sake) was "hurry up and wait." We spent about 2 hours in the area where we met up (signed in with IAVA, got our sweatshirts, schmoozed), then moved to the official marshalling area and waited for another 3 hours. All this for about 40 minutes of marching. But dang! that 40 minutes felt good. People lined 5th Avenue and cheered and waved, and we yelled and waved back. At one point along the route, IAVA had a table set up, and we stopped to pose for pictures and make noise. All well and good, but then we were 2 blocks behind where we should have been, and in true Army fashion, double-timed to catch up. I'm sure some of the on-lookers thought we were doing some sort of formation running or showing we were still hooah. No, just trying to get caught up. It was inspiration marching in the Veteran's Day Parade as an official veteran.
          That night was my retirement dinner at Fraunces Tavern. This is an historical building in New York, having been a tavern since 1762** The great military significance is that this is where George Washington said farewell to his troops. A little grandiose of me to hold my farewell there, but also I'm a sucker for the historical. (BTW, he only served a cold supper, I served a proper dinner. So there, George.) It was really a touching event for me. The only fly in the ointment was that [livejournal.com profile] ravensroncouldn't make it, but did have the rest of my (not very big) close family. Folks literally came from near and far - WWC lives only a few subways stops away; Pipemajor and DonandLinda came in from out-of-state, which I really appreciated. Heck, I appreciated everyone who showed up. Total of 40-50 people including my CG (Commanding General, a.k.a. "boss") and 2 other generals. The evening was as close to a proper, formal, military dining-out as the space would allow. Pipemajor played the bagpipes, Don (the male half of DonandLinda played the bugle). Cocktails before, receiving line, saluting the colors, toasts (especially including "absent comrades"***), dining, presentation of awards and gifts, and a few brief speeches. The gifts may technically qualify as tchokas, but they are meaningful to me and the people who presented them, and I was touched. They are gracing my mantelpiece as I write this. Several people spoke briefly, including the CG, and I gave my farewell remarks.****  Didn't entirely choke up - would have spoiled my macho image (such as it is), but close.
 
L'envoi. I'm still tired and a bit down, but that is a natural aftermath to deployment and retirement. All told, it was a splendid week, and a great finale to my career. I was pleased and touched more than my poor words here can express. May your retirement celebrations go as well, Gentle Reader, and may your lives be filled with joy and significance.
 
 
* An old elevated railway that is being turned into a linear park. Very tastefully done.
** The original building was built as a private house in 1719 by Stephan Delancy. Samuel Fraunces bought it in 1762 and turned it into a tavern. The building is owned by the Sons of the Revolution, who run the museum on the upper floors. The ground floor is a restaurant/tavern run by the Porterhouse, an Irish brewing company.
*** The first toast is always "to the United States of America." The last is always something like "Absent Comrades" (there are slight variations). A small, empty table is specially set. I arranged the explanatory reading with different people doing each line: "The small table is positioned a place of honor.  It is set for one.  This table is our way of symbolizing the fact that members of our profession of arms are missing from our midst.  They are commonly called POWs, they are called MIAs, they are called the fallen.  We call them "brothers and sisters.”  They are unable to be with us and so we remember them in their absence.  The table set for one is small - symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his oppressors.  Remember.  The tablecloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.  Remember.  The single yellow rose - symbolizing remembrance - displayed in a vase, reminds us of the families and loved ones of our comrades-in-arms who keep faith awaiting his return, lest we forget.  Remember.  The red ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand proper accounting of our missing.  Remember.  A slice of lemon is on the bread plate to remind us of their bitter fate.  Remember.  There is salt upon the bread plate-symbolic of the families' tears as they wait.  Remember.  The glass is inverted, they cannot toast with us this night.  Remember. The chair - the chair is empty - they are not here.  Remember.  Remember, all of you who served with them and called them comrades, who depended upon their might and aid and relied upon them, for surely, they have not forsaken you.  Remember." The piper played Amazing Grace and the bugler played Taps.
**** Paraphrasing a bit, as best I remember:  "Thanks for coming, it really means a lot to me. I have some notes, but uncharacteristically, am not entirely sure what to say. I've never spoken at anything so personally intense before. I've welcomed new Soldiers into the Army and said farewell to retiring ones; I've seen units off to war and welcomed them home (mentioned the FST); but never my own retirement. Some of you know that our Piper was my CSM - he used to sit in the front row with his stopwatch and give me that 'Sergeant Major look' if I spoke to long - well tough, it's my retirement and I'll go long as I want. (Mentioned that I'd been in or with Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Army; Active, Guard, and Reserve.) It's truly been an honor and privilege to serve - and I admit, a lot of fun. Got to do things that most people only dream about. Movies seem more intense; they take the highlights of a year or a whole career and pack it into 90 minutes. They have to, it's entertainment. In the real world, it's spread out over 32 years, but when you add it all together, I got to be the star of my own movie - not many people can say that. I got to travel - good places and bad. The past year, I got to Japan and Italy - a working vacation, but Italy on a working vacation is better than just about any other vacation anywhere else. Other places not so nice; you take the good with the bad in the Army. I've walked the sad and dusty places of the world. Sometimes for humanitarian work (like Haiti), sometimes I did my small part in the ancient wars of the children of light and dark. I got to serve along side of people I love and respect. I read somewhere that life is like the blink of an eye. There is no significance in the blink of an eye, but there can be in the eye that blinks. It is up to us to create that significance. To have served in the Army is to have filled my life with significance. I don't say that is the only path - you all have to make your own paths - but it is a big part of mine. So now, It's adieu and farewell… or maybe just au revoir and see ya' round. Right now there's a 70-something dentist serving in Afghanistan on a retiree recall. The current wars are winding down, the Army is already shrinking and will shrink further. We grey-hairs are retired or soon will be. You young'uns will have to carry the torch. Likely in another 5 or 10 or 15 years there'll be another war and the country will suddenly find that the Army is too small. Then perhaps I'll be the one coming back on a retiree recall. If so, I will quote Thomas Mallory. He wrote La Morte D'Arthur which was the full, grown-up version of the Once and Future King. After describing the history of King Arthur, he speaks in his own voice for himself: 'now the world is again engaged in war, and I, and old man, must go to serve my country.' As to what will happen - only time will tell - it always does. But, at least for now, this old Soldier will fade away."
warriorsavant: (White Lion - Jabulani)

He claimed that "happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" (first line of Anna Karenina).

 

I'm reading Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides. It is beautiful, lyrical writing, but I want the protagonist, Tom Wingo, to STOP WHINING. Yes, I know the whole axis of the book is about his bizarre upbringing and the deep psychologic scars it cast on the whole family. Now shut up and stop whining. His upbringing is no different from millions upon millions of other people's, his unhappiness is no different from theirs, and really, all unhappy families are all alike. By the way, Anna K, Vronsky, and the rest of Tolstoy's characters are twits also.

 

I suppose novels are about struggle and conflict, and if everyone was happy, it wouldn't be much of a book. Maybe that's why I read more non-fiction these days.


warriorsavant: (Default)
It's a miserable, rainy day out there, but I'm in a good mood (for no apparent reason). Going to light a fire, take some Derm journals and good books, and a glass of something nourishing, and relax.
warriorsavant: (Default)
    The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. Not entirely sure who these people are, or why I care about their list, but it makes me look good, and I obviously have too much free time on my hands (not that I read too many books, but that I have time to do this). Some of the list makes no sense. They list  "The chronicles of Narnia" and then later "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." And all  of Shakespeare counts as one book? (Yes, read them all. Big nerd.) And The Bible - Old and New Testaments - right down to the last begat. (Yup, that too.) Anyhow, I am bolding the ones I have read, too lazy to do the rest. Have too many books to read. Have read 79-80 of these (can't remember about one of them).

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading.
5) Bold and strike books you read but hated.
6) Reprint this list in your own LJ

warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)
1. It is often pointed out (by Philosophy or Statistics professors with too much time on their hands) that if you have enough monkeys typing away at enough typewriters for long enough, they will eventually write all of Shakespeare.
2. It is often debated (at least among English and History professors with too much time on their hands) who actually wrote Shakespeare's plays.
3. Combining 1 and 2, we realize that Shakespeare's plays were written by a massive number of typewriter-equipped primates stuck in a termporal loop (and clearly, I have too much time on my hands).

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