Monthly Archives: April 2008

The Age of Turbulence

While my elderly first patient of the day took a quick trip to the lavatory before I brought her back to the  operating room, I noticed her husband was reading Alan Greenspan’s recent book, The Age of Turbulence. The avid Mulberry Street reader will remember this book from my November 19, 2007, post in which I repeated a reviewer’s remarks, “…nobody ever accused Mr Greenspan of being a lively speaker, let alone a born storyteller, and no reviewer could approach this volume with anything but a heavy heart and a sense of duty.” 

I commented to the husband on the book, and before I could repeat the clever phrase from the review, the husband said, “Oh yes, we’re good friends with Alan.”
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When I was looking for a picture for this post, I ran across this one of a younger Alan Greenspan. This was taken probably some 30 years ago, back when he was 80.

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Filed under Awkward moments, Work

Another blog

On the blog English Fail, I saw a funny post. The blog features pictures of grammatical mistakes seen by various grammarians who submit photos. (And for those of you who are worried about me, I do not spend most of my free time looking at grammar blogs. I do not have a problem.)

This picture had a warning sign,


One person left commented that it had a haiku-like cadence. As for me, it reminds me of Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.”

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Filed under Grammar & language, Poetry

One Ireland Have I Loved

Unfortunately my posting has not been as regular on this vacation as last year’s London trip. So far, it’s been a great time abroad; I’ve really enjoyed the time in the countryside, particularly rustic Dingle Penninsula on the far western edge of Europe.

The title of my post is a tongue-in-cheek title I have planned for my memoirs of this trip. I plan to include several lines of Gaelic poetry as well. So far, all I have is, “Green, green are the meadows/Blue, blue is the sky/I like Guinness.”

Some better poetry I have been reminded of several times as we drive through the countryside is that of Ireland’s famous son, W.B. Yeats:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And make a small cabin there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
and evening’s full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavement grey,
I hear it to the heart’s core.

In just a few short days there’s already far too much to write in one post. I will say, however, that the weather has been phenomenal. Perhaps slightly warmer than New York this time of year, with a couple soft afternoon rains but still plenty of sunshine. The dark rain clouds with the sun peeking out have made for plenty absolutely gorgeous photo opportunities at ancient ruins and country manors, as well as many a rainbow sighting, though nary a pot of gold.

I’ve also enjoyed the warmth of the Irish people, who seem a bit reserved on first meeting, though are generally friendly and even boisterous after a pint.

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Filed under Traveling

Irritating patient

Patient: What is the risk of infection with this surgery?
Me: About 1%.
Patient: Why isn’t it zero?
Me: 1% is a lot better than it used to be.
Patient, in accusative tone: By why is it still 1%? Where does the infection come from?
Me: Look, I’m the one who gives you antibiotics before the surgery. The surgeons are the ones who cut you open and put their hands inside. You can ask them.

Okay, I wasn’t quite that brusque. But it feels good to write the story that way. Turns out she did ask the neurosurgery resident, and his response was, “Why do planes crash?”

Perhaps not the most appropriate rhetorical question to ask a patient immediately before surgery.

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Dr W, adressing my class of second-year residents: So, what do you make of this arterial blood gas drawn from the newborn premature infant?

Joe: This is not compatible with life in any human being.

Dr W: Actually, I lifted the numbers from a textbook. They represent normal values for a newborn premie. But I like your confidence!


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