Sunday, July 31, 2011


Just so you know, I'm hanging up ye olde keyboarde for a while.  I need a break from this place.  Lots of ideas coming and going all the time but to be honest my interest in bothering to capture them for the Library Of Congress and the CIA is pretty minimal right now.

So I'll be going back to basics for a while.  See you when I see you.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


This is something that I almost didn't write but I need to write it to keep going here, so forgive me my sentimentality.

I won't lie - having the Secret Cat die last week was awful.  She was 19 years old, and although we didn't start to look after her until she was about 10, it still feels like a lifetime.

In the end, we had her put down by the vet.  She had been deaf and blind for about a year.  Surprisingly, she adapted well to moving into a new house, and she learned to find her way around.  Gradually though, she got sicker and sicker, slowly getting thinner and thinner and wasting away.  Part of it was arthritis.  She clearly was uncomfortable moving.  But part of it was the slowly evolving diabetes that we didn't know about.

Lots of people said we should have her put down, but we always thought that she was still enjoying life.  She'd find the sunny spots somehow.  She'd find her way to the kitchen when she could smell us cooking and ask us for some meat.

In the last fortnight though, things went downhill fast.  She got painfully thin.  She seemed to have trouble walking straight and seemed to get lost.  And she sometimes got very weak and couldn't straighten her legs out.  We would find her crouched on the floor in the morning, stranded in the dark for who knows how long, waiting for us to rescue her. 

A cat that can't or won't move is a cat that is suffering.  And we couldn't watch it, and there was nothing we could do to help her.  So we took her to the vet one last time. 

It was such a hard decision to make.  I knew what my decision was though, when I found myself hoping that she had died overnight so that it would be over for her, and for us.  At least this way we could be there with her as she died.  I think she deserved that.

I'm glad that we had her put down when we did.  Any earlier and it wouldn't have been right for us - we would have felt that we did it for convenience.  Any later and it wouldn't have been right for her - she would have suffered too much.

But it doesn't make it easier when the time comes.  It had never occurred to me that you sometimes need to plan these things.  There was no last minute call to the vet, begging for help in an emergency.  There was just an appointment made, a schedule to keep.

We walked out with an empty cage.  And she danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon - she danced by the light of the moon.

Friday, July 22, 2011


The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

           - Edward Lear

In memory of Belle, 4 March 1992 - 22 July 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


After my glorious salmon joke yesterday, I was zinged back by the consultant today.  He was examining a little 5 month old girl and she kept craning her head back to peer at me where I had suddenly appeared above her head.
She is trying very hard to look at you.

It's because I'm so handsome.

I am very worried about her eyesight.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Sometimes an opportunity to make a stupid joke arises and you just have to seize it.  This morning I was standing in the room with a patient, her mother, the consultant, two registrars, an intern, and four other medical students.  We were discussing animal vectors of infectious enteritis.

So, PTR, what type of animal is a frequent carrier of salmonella?


He laughed.  In a strained, God-help-me kind of way.  I was so proud of myself for not wussing out. (For the record, the correct answer is "reptiles".  So not only are Galapagos tortoises immune to ouabain, they are also dangerous to kiss.)


I usually have a small notepad secreted somewhere about my person where I jot down phone numbers, book references, interesting quotes, and other things that I am otherwise liable to quickly forget.  Scattered throughout the book will be little seeds of ideas for things to post about here.  About half the time I follow up on it.  About half the rest of the time I'll decide the idea is a dud.  Very occasionally I'll decide that an idea is good but would be more effort to complete than I'm prepared to give.  And the rest of the time I find the note at some later date and think to myself, "What the hell is that supposed to mean?  I must have been smoking crack."

Sometimes I can look at a note and clearly remember the circumstances under which I wrote it - just not what the note actually signifies.  Sometimes a note makes me think of something quite definite - but I'm pretty sure it's not what I meant myself to think of when I wrote it.  Sometimes a note is truly mysterious - it's in my hand but I have no memory of it at all.

Here's a collection of extinct blog prompts from the last couple of years.  It resembles the ravings of a madman, so I've chosen to arrange it visually to resemble poetry - the poetry of driftwood and lost balloons and old photos. 

favourite bowl
Thar she blows!
character "in" a book - from? of?
Greatest American Hero
Wolf Creek Cafe
Calendars and other people's dogs
Kit fox

itch! actual ants!
glasses with bizarre sideboards
Shadow puppet - doctor?
Sad second-hand stores
David Bowie over 20 years
Body dysmorphic effect vs re-reading own writing
aqueous humour - watery joke?
visualizing blood vessels!

eating vs studying - good-bad or bad-good
gold injections!
stress reduction kit
only girls and Italians cook
presentation - ongoing fear
who wants a ride up?
tuning fork
chopping veggies - not dice!/cubed! chinese style
on screws

book cover/binder
concentrate on not reading things
awards for med school
a blob for you
psychic expo
smelling like chicken
towel - bee - cold - A-delta - alfalfa
lostradio - insulting people, standing in dog shit

Colonel Light's laser powers!
evil genius of Pat Rafter accumulating sinisterness
What's next?

Monday, July 18, 2011

New poll

It's been quite a while since my last poll.  If I remember rightly, the Mob called for my child to be female and lo, I complied.  Since then I've been a bit distractabubble and haven't been able to think up something to poll you about.  So that's what I'll poll you about.  It's up now to the right ->

Vote now or else you won't!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Maslow's hierarchy of blogging

  1. Naming.  When finally committing to starting a new blog, a blogger needs to find a unique name for his blog which at once indicates his depth of thought as well as his insouciant whimsicality toward the whole thing.  He also needs an online handle which will fulfill the same needs for him.
  2. Posts.  Now that she has a blog name and a handle, the blogger actually needs to post something.  She feels fulfilled by coming up with an idea and writing something observant or clever which is long enough to be worth reading but not so long as to not be worth reading.
  3. Comments.  Once fulfilled by his ability to generate posts on a semi-regular basis the blogger is driven by his insatiable need for comments.  He will seek them out by asking questions in his posts, leaving comments on other blogs to lure readers to his blog, and casually mentioning the fact that he has a blog that people leave comments on to acquaintances.  He will check his blog dozens of times each day to see if there are any new comments.
  4. Subscribers.  Comments are eventually taken for granted as merely the blogger's due return for her efforts.  What she really wants now are subscribers, a.k.a. followers.  She wants a little band of imaginary friends who owe her fealty and might perhaps, in the event of some kind of internet war, be drafted into her private army to fight for her.  She imagines that they check her blog dozens of times each day to see if there are any new posts.
  5. Notoriety.  The blogger has now gathered his disciples but what he wants is fame.  He'd like, for example, for his blog to be mentioned in another blog, or in a newspaper, or for him to overhear people at the next table in a trendy cafe discussing some uproarious post that he recently wrote.  Ideally, he'd like for one of his friends who doesn't realize that it is in fact he who writes the blog to recommend it to him.
  6. A book deal.  If only someone would just email her and offer to print out all these years of crap and sell them in time for the Christmas gift rush, she'd never have to work again!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gender mender

So why is it that men seem to behave so strangely around boy babies?  Show a guy a little girl baby and he'll go all cutesy-pie and goo-goo trying to get her attention and he'll praise her gorgeous smile and beautiful eyes and all but start to file adoption papers. 

But show a guy a little baby boy and he'll go all blokey-matey and call him "chief" or "muscles" and not be nearly as snuggly and friendly and generally nice.

Is it some kind of bizarre fear of being thought to be homosexual?  Or are they genuinely unable to relate to other males except via the medium of sport?  Or is it actually a reflection of men only valuing females for their appearance and thus not being threatened by them whereas boys will in future grow up to slit their throats in the night and steal off with their daughters?

Man, I can't wait for my psychiatry block!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Charms to soothe a savage breast

Music which puts the Hatchling to sleep:
  • Mozart's string quartets
  • Johnny Cash
  • I Monster
  • 30's swing
  • Paul Kelly
  • The National
Music which does not:
  • Rage Against The Machine
  • Queen
  • George Michael
  • Gillian Welch
  • Ladyhawke
Draw your own conclusions.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A cunning plan

My problem is that I am a bad liar.

When I go home in the afternoon, my Smaller Half will conversationally enquire about what I had for lunch.  And if I had a moment of weakness and had hot chips for lunch I am unable to adequately account for my time and money.  I know perfectly well that not only are chips bad for me but I also feel queasy afterward and regret them.

"Err", I say, "My lunch.  Indeed, my lunch was delicious!  I had something good, I can't recall now the details but it was very satisfying."

"You had chips didn't you?" asks my Smaller Half.

"Yes", I say, "I am so ashamed."

The stupid thing is that even though I know I need an alibi, I am unable to come up with one because I don't want to actually lie.  It would be easy to just tell her that I had a chicken sandwich or some such innocuous thing.  But I think that if a man is going to fib about his lunch he isn't much of a man.

So this is my plan from now on: "I had some potato salad".

Brilliant, eh?  If pressed for details I can concede that it was a deep-fried potato salad, of the French variety.  But otherwise, the truth remains safe with me, you, and the internet.