Nom took the kids out shopping. It was a zoo, but they like it. I did some reading, some studying, some cleaning, but somehow not very much of either. So in the spirit of finally digging in and doing work… I'm posting this.
We've been in this house for a year-and-a-half. The vast majority of organizing and putting away got done fairly promptly, the small percent that remains will likely take another 10 years. Mostly not really that important, but my tidy (eg neurotically organized) mind likes things neatly put away. I am working on organizing all the toys, etc in the basement play (which previously looked like a cross between an explosion at a toy factory and a refugee camp), putting different things in different boxes (eg “Legos all go in the box marked ‘Legos’ when you are finished playing with them.”) They get the concept of “tidy up” at school (eg daycare), and I’m slowly working on extending the concept to home. Key word is "slowly."
If they are motivated, they do help clean up. Some weeks back, they got into it, because it was Hedgefund’s birthday party. Her actual Bday was during the week, but more-or-less got the concept of “we’re having the party on a weekend, b/c that’s when people can come.” (And liked the idea of cake on two days: at the party, and her actual Bday.) Miss Manners somewhere said the that number of invitees should be equal to the child’s age in years, which more-or-less happened. This was the first year she wanted to have her friends or for her Bday; I don’t think at a younger age they really have a concept of “friends” and “my friends.” She invited 2 kids from her class, plus another friend, plus 2 daughters of a friend of Nom’s (which is to say Nom invited the mom & her daughters) plus immediate family. It went well. She had fun decorating the house (eg telling me to put up decorations), a little big each night for a week. Nothing fancy, crepe paper streamers and balloons, but she has definite ideas about what she wanted where.
Dunno if I mentioned, but the other day she told Nom, “when I grow up, I want to be bossy like you.” Actually, HF has managed “bossy” since quite an early age, much more so than Nom. I think I told her she was bossy when she was 2 or 3 (HF, not Nom), to which she solemnly replied, “yes.”
Anyhow, party was a success all around. I thing everyone actually had fun, even Nom & I. We had a piñata, but one of those degenerate modern ones where you pull ribbons that eventually open a trap door, instead of whacking it with a stick, or as we did at Army Family Days, shooting at it with an M16. (Joking!)
Winter is definitely over, which is to say that all the snow and ice has finally melted in the backyard. There is likely to be one more sprinkling of snow, but we are now in "post-winter," sometimes known as "mud." It's a gray, rainy day. Not depressingly so, what with my being indoors, but don't really have much energy. On the other hand, that could also be because I've had a long week. Doing more reading, both professionally and recreationally. Will post on the latter soon.
By this morning, all schools and daycares were announced closed, and even university classes were cancelled. I'm told that there are about the same number of snow days for schools whether you're in the far north of Canada, or the mid-Atlantic region of the US. The difference is how much snow it takes to close things: a few meters in Nunavut, down to a few millimeters in Virginia. I did go to the hospital for my regular clinic in the afternoon. T was supposed to come also (she's updating our database and taking pictures for lymphoma clinic), but she texted me early this morning that she couldn't even get out of her driveway. I ended up taking the metro. I wasn't bad, maybe 45 minutes, but not crowded. Clinic was reasonably full. I suppose partly b/c no one can ever get through by phone to cancel, plus since it's hard to get an appointment, people actually keep them come hell or high water. There were a few no shows & cancellations, but we replaced them with people who showed to book an appointment. I had 6(?) trainees (3 residents and 3 students), so clinic went really quickly, and I got in some good teaching. Definitely worth going in.
Last night, after I got the kids (and Nom) to bed, I wasn't really tired, so I read and played on my computer, and generally relaxed. At one point, I poured a glass of something nourishing, sprawled in an armchair, and looked out the window at the falling snow, our street having a pleasant picture-post-cared glow about it.
Weather is incredibly beastly. Not so much cold, as really biting wind. Went to the Family Day in the park. First stop was ride on horse-drawn sleigh. Hard to enjoy while huddling into your hooded coat, turning face away from the wind. Then bounce castle, which the kids enjoyed (and it kept them warm). Then sugar on snow, which is basically maple syrup poured out onto (clean) snow, let it congeal slightly, then wrap around a stick to eat its gooey sweet yumminess. Then hotdogs and hot chocolate, but at least in the small warmed shelter.
That night, there was a mysterious banging. Someone trying to break in? Ghosts? Picked up one of my swords (not so useful for ghosts) and explored. Couldn't find anything in basement or first or second floor, nor any windows open/loose on any floor. Oddly the banging was almost inaudible in the basement, and less audible on first floor or front of second floor. Eventually figured it was from the attic, the stairs to which are in the back of the house. In winter, I put Plexiglas sheets across the bottom of the skylights' light wells. The skylights are vented at the top. One of them, the one in fact at the back of the house, near to the stairs down, is older, and has a different type of vent. The wind running over it was so strong, gusts were causing a Venturi effect and pulling up the plexiglas, which would then slam back down. I put some weights on the Plexi for now. I'll have to see if I can adjust the vent later.
We've been having icy rain. At least not a million below zero, but equally unpleasant, plus snarls traffic really badly. It took me over an hour to get home from the hospital last night, a trip that usually takes 20 minutes. This morning the driveway was a sheet of ice, patients were late, and even Evil Secretary was late, which happens about once every 7-8 years.
The fire part? Well T put some instruments in the autoclave (sterilizer - normally Evil Secretary's job), and didn't know she needed to put the wrapped instruments on a special rack/tray first, so the wrappings were touching the hot interior of the autoclave and caught fire. No damage done, but an unpleasant odor lingered for an hour or so.
I woke up just before the alarm rang, shut it off, and walked around the house to see what windows it was visible from. Answer: a bit from tiny spare room, but best from dining room, and even from there only at the right angle. When the eclipse was actually starting, woke up Nom, who duly noted a notch was taken out of the left edge of the moon, then went back to sleep. Then woke up Hedgefund, who sleepily acknowledged that she wanted to see it. Basically, still at that age where pretty much everything is fine as long as she's with Papa (*dote, dote, dote*). Then she went back to sleep, so I carried her downstairs, set up a comfy chair by the window, with a blanket and phone and binoculars. She noted the bite taken out of the moon, then went back to sleep in my lap. I stayed up watching. Well, reading "The Economist" on my phone, and watching intermittently. When it was closed to full eclipse, I woke her up again. She again noted the change in the moon and went back to sleep.
I saw the super moon, and the eclipse, but can't say I saw the "blood moon," it was just too overcast. When the moon was almost completely eclipsed, I could just about make out the eclipsed part, but as a faint, dark brown through the cloud cover, nothing reddish about it. When it totally eclipsed, it completely disappeared from my view. I carried Hedgefund back upstairs to bed, then went back down, dressed, and went outside. Nope, still couldn't see a pale red moon, or any moon, (and fortunately still now ravening wolves) so went back inside and went back to sleep.
Glad I did it. Didn't take any pix, because in the past, when have taken pictures of eclipses (sun or moon), they really didn't look like much: just a blob of light with a notch in one corner. Both Nom and Hedgefund claim they were also glad they saw it. Not sure she actually understands about how an eclipse works (Hedgefund, I mean, pretty sure Nom does), so tonight I'll have to rig up something with a lamp and two balls in a dark room.
How's everyone else holding up with the massive pan-continental storm/cold snap.
*That isn't actually an obscene reference to the gonads of a metallic simian. In the days of wooden ships and iron men, when the traditions of naval service included rum, sodomy, and the lash***, iron cannon balls for ready use were stored on a triangular brass frame, known as a brass monkey. In cold enough weather, the brass contracted more than the iron, and the balls "froze" off. That that this phrase sounded obscene, was entirely not coincidental.
**No clever hidden meaning there. Straight out crude. And probably anti-wiccan. I'll continue blogging after my being turned into a newt gets better****.
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"
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.
Cuteness of the day: We were talking about going to work and going to school and teaching, and what Hedgefund would do someday. (Spoiler Alert: doctor). Then she said something about when she was big, she was going to be a daddy. (Pause). "Well, a girl daddy."
Weather of the day (month, season, etc): On the positive side, the leaves are changing, and it's pretty. On the negative side, it's turned cold. Despite having been born here, the kids, especially Wallstreet, don't like the cold. Neither does my tropically-born darling wife. Come t' think of it, more and more, neither do I. We live here why? Although when I think of moving south, my heart goes out to friends living in a hurricane zone. On the other hand, those are intermittent, rather than lasting 11.5 months/year, like winter does here. We keep saying the kids they are going to go to med school at U. Hawaii or at least UBC.
Bureaucracy of the… (whatever, enough with this theme): ravensron sent me a picture of the passport of Pharaoh Ramses II (1279-1213 BC). No, it wasn't written on papyrus, and they didn't actually have passports back then. Seems that His Pharonic Majesty's mummy was sent from Egypt to France in 1974 for preservation work. French law requires that anybody entering the country have a passport. The Egyptian government complied, including a properly formatted picture of the mummy's face in the block for picture. First time we traveled with Hedgefund, we had to get a passport, complete with photo. She was 3 months. Still required to pose eyes open, no smiling, no one holding her head. Managed to get the photo - she was actually lying down with the photographer holding the camera over her pointing downwards. What is the point? 80% of the babies in the world look like enough like that photo that it was meaningless. Even more ridiculous is that passports are good for 5 years. When she was 3 years, took her someplace, and the border control agent actually was looking back and forth between her and the photo.
Tree, also in the past tense: Our neighbor's tree died. The other morning, there was a crew taking it down (before it fell on one of our houses). The kids were fascinated. “Why man in tree? What he doing?” I sent my condolences to the neighbors (it was a beautiful, huge ash tree, but had been attacked by Emerald Ash Borers). Then I wondered, if one sends a bouquet of flowers (plants) when an person or animal dies, does one send a bouquet of animals when a tree (plant) dies? The neighbors declined, but I think that was unreasonable. True they already have a cat and a dog, but maybe they would have liked a nice basket of mice - I'm sure the cat and dog would have.
Tech: Once upon a time (say 2-3 years ago), if someone wanted you to sign a document, they printed it out, mailed or handed it to you, and you signed it. Now they send you a pdf, which you have to print out, sign, then rescan back to them. Much more convenient… for them. Recently realized that having Adobe Acrobat Pro (which creates pdf, doesn't just read them), I can do a digital signature. Still requires a few steps, but all mouse clicks, no wasteful printing and rescanning. (If you want to do it on a phone, there is an app called "fill and sign.")
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.
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.
The new house. We really love it. It's very bright, very classy and classic styling, high ceilings with moulding, lots of woodwork, beautiful layout with different sightlines in different directions.
The new office. Also very bright and classy. Really do need to tweak the layout of things in each exam room. In my old place, could basically sit in one spot and pivot to reach everything. Highly efficient way to work. Although these rooms are actually smaller, they are not yet as neatly laid out. It's annoying me, but haven't had time to tweak it yet; too many other things to do. Taxes mostly in to the accountant now.
Sitting in the back of your own car. Interesting feeling. The other day Nom w/ kids and I arrived home at the same time (warned you there'd be kids in this post). Wallstreet decided he wanted to play in Papa's car instead of going into the house. We both climbed into the back (later into the front where he sat in my lap and "drove" and also pulled everything out of the glove compartment). Sitting like that, the car changes from being a vehicle to being a small room. Interesting psychological perspective.
Hedgefund. Speaking of cars, she's become a back seat driver. At 4 years old. If she starts saying "mind the lorry," I'm sending her back. (Hyacinth from "Keeping Up Appearances" a BritCom used to like.) She also has become quite talkative in general, and much happier. That makes me incredibly glad, I was so worried she was depressive. She is also quite inventive about names and how she addresses us. Sometimes it's "hey guys" (from the timbre of voice and facial expression, I think she's imitating one of the daycare teachers), sometimes it's "hey parents," sometimes it's Papa Savant and Mommy Savant (I think from "Peppa Pig," a current popular children's show, the parents being Daddy Pig and Mommy Pig). Lately, she was mad at Wallstreet and started calling him Blue Dragon. Dragon because he was being mean, and blue because that's his color. His room is painted blue. Hers is green. Did you think I was going to write "pink?" Silly Reader, stop thinking in clichés. Green is her favorite color, has been as long as she could barely indicate a choice, so we painted her room green. The master bedroom is red (actually 3 walls are pale gray, and the back wall is deep red). Since we Savants like dragons, she (mostly) stopped using it as a negative, and now Wallstreet is Blue Dragon, she is Green Dragon (of sometimes Hedgefund Big Sister Green Dragon), we are Papa Red Dragon and Mommy Red Dragon. I have a hypothesis that color in dragons is multi-genetic, which effects how the colors breed, so perfectly reasonable for 2 red dragons to produce one green and one blue dragon. I'm putting in for grant to study it.
And oh yeah, "Happy Spring," apparently that being the season when it's only minus-a bit, and not too much snow forecast for tomorrow morning.
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.
Meanwhile, the expertly designed heating system for our new(ly renovated) house heats very, very unevenly. Some rooms are so cold need a sweater, some are so hot can scarcely breathe. It's a forced hot air system, and it either isn't zoned properly, or there aren't enough dampers to properly regulate the flow of air, or both. Either way, right after the holidays I'm going to have a little sit down with all the parties involved and "suggest" they fix it. I have the bad feeling that means more holes in the walls, and more plaster dust, which will very much not make us happy. Along the same note, there seems to be a frozen pipe in one part of the house (out to the extension). Only the hot water pipe is frozen. The plumber has been unsuccesfully working on it for 2 hours. Add this to our little post-holiday sit down.
We're still in the midst of the cold snap you might have read about. I've always had cold hands and feet ("but a warm heart"), but I can't take my gloves off outside for more than 10 seconds without my fingers aching with the cold. We wanted to live in this country, right?
Nom & ba ngaoi took the kids out for a couple of hours (a bit of grocery shopping and a bit of running around the mall driving other people crazy, but at least they get out of the house for a bit). I can post this, have a peaceful cup of coffee… then dig into the piles of home fixing-up, and paperwork that I promised to do over the holidays.
Tonight is New Years Eve. The start of the new year is defined by when the ball drops in Times Square in NYC (no matter where in the world you happen to be). Or in our case, when we get up the next day and watch the recording of it.
Happy New Year to all my Gentle Readers. May it be full of happiness, health, and good things.
Þ I wonder how long until: (a) I run out of synonyms for miscellanea, and (b) I have the time and energy to write a serious post.
Þ We are going to have a White Christmas. Meanwhile, have to find my heavy gloves! Had our first real snow fall 2 days ago, then today the temperature dropped to below zero on that archaic scale used south of the border (i.e. below -17 Celsius/real degrees). Actually there is one aspect of Fahrenheit I appreciate: below freezing (32º F) is cold; below zero is !☁︎&⚔☔︎&*#-ing cold.
Þ Montreal urban highway planning strikes again. Was my monthly visit to Ste Anne's (former- and still-partly, veterans hospital), which is in west end of the island. The entrance I usually take was closed, with a detour to the east. Got to the next entrance, which was also closed, with a detour back to the west, via a narrow street, which was having construction.
Þ One of the patients had a problem on her toe. Understand that she, as so many of these patients, was infirm, wheelchair-bound, & rather demented, who didn't have to go outside to see me. The floor staff dressed her in tights.
Þ We've sent out the letters for the change of address (the move will be next month). At least 5 people called Evil Secretary to ask, "so are you moving?" ("Uh, no. We only sent those letters out to patients we don't like, so in future they will go to the wrong address and stop bothering us, but since, darn it, you caught us, you can continue to be seen at the old address.") Over the past 20 years or so that we've been at this address, we've had patients who went to the wrong address blame us because: (a) we gave them the wrong address, and/or (b) we moved the building. ("Uh, yeah, it has wheels on it, but darn it, you caught us.")
Þ Finished reviewing the files for our residency applicants for next year. As promised (to Nom), I've started putting away the last boxes of stuff (with a slight detour to post this).
➢ The weather teased us with a few nice days, now back to winter. Why don't I set up shop in the southern hemisphere for 6 months out of the year.
➢ In between those two is the fact that hard to determine if a lesion is hot to the touch if this is your first patient of the day, and you've just come in from outside. Gloves or no, hands are too cold to be sensitive. Had to tell her to wait until I saw anoth
➢ Dang it, stop wishing me "Happy Holidays," when (a) the phrase is "Merry Christmas" (even for we non-Christians), and (b) it's still November*. Gonna boil someone in their own plum pudding and bury them with a stake of holly through the heart.
➢ My accountant has his annual scotch tasting. Even bigger this year, with food. For him, it's a company-sponsored event (good will for employees and clients) which gives him a chance to hold court and drink scotch. He's quite sociable and great to talk with. For the invitees, it's a chance to… socialize (even I manage) and drink scotch.
➢ I'm secretly Sheldon Cooper. Well, Nom is. Well over a year ago, she ordered the kid's shower curtain. It displays the Periodic Table of the Elements (in lovely shades of brown, so even goes with the décor. Finally got it hung; it looks great. However, if I ever did shower in their, Tom Lehrer's Periodic Table of Elements would be running through my head**, not to mention C.J. & the PhD's Periodic Table of Elements.***
*Clearly jotted this one down a coupla weeks ago. I think I can start wishing people Merry Christmas by the middle of next week.
**Our neice was very proud of having memorized that, and was astounded that I'd heard of it.
***Not likely you'd heard of them. Probably all wanted to be Tom Lehrer when they grew up. I knew them in Virginia back when I was an Intern. They had originally formed the band as graduate student, singing humorous & satirical songs for beer money on the weekends (eg Nuke the Whales). By the time I heard them, they were only doing this for old time's sake, having all graduated and gone onto real jobs - well, except for one guy who had a little too much "fun" in the '60s and didn't have the brain power left.
Our driveway is especially bad as it got torn up during the renos, and didn't quite have time to put down a new one this year. Wanted to, but the contractor said it was now too late in the year, maybe could have done it if we hadn't taken so long to choose the uni-pave. Which is to say, if we'd agreed right up front with his choosing the most expensive stone, with the fancy border, and didn't haggle on the price. Anyhow, our driveway is basically mud with tiny patches of asphalt here and there. Today I found some low quality boards in the garage left over from the renos and put them down in the spots where we have to stand to get into the cars. No doubt the city will eventually declare them to be eyesores and make me take them back up, but until then they will be a help.
Much of the wood in the garage is junk, but some is the good quality old wood from the house. Having someone coming tomorrow to take a look at what is worth keeping (and maybe make something from it) and what to throw out.