dal niente

Month: December, 2009

Christmas Week


Time: 3:32AM December 29th 2009
Location: @work
Batteries: 50%



Next few days’ schedule of things todo:

  • Give Supergirl her Birthday/Valentines day present.  It’s nature will not be revealed here, since I suspect she may be reading this blog… she’s leaving for about a month and a half on the 4th of January so I’m going to  have to get her those in advance!
  • Buy glasses, now that I have insurance for it. [Supergirl] is going to help me pick out a pair, and I’m looking forward to it– glasses make me look smarter!
  • Set up a dentist appointment, now that I have insurance for it.  Clean teeth make me look smarter!
  • Finish that damn university application.
  • Play a game of “Zombies!” the board game for the first time.
  • Try out “Settlers of Catan,” the board game.
  • Meet my cousin’s new newborn for the first time.


I don’t think I ever took the time to tell you about the phone that I bought a while back, the HTC Dream.  First off, my first experience with HTC was with the HTC VOX s707.  The VOX was the Windows Mobile phone I had before I switched to the Sony Ericsson P1i, which runs Symbian.

I hated the HTC VOX.  While it had some innovations because it is what I call a “semi-intelligent phone” (because it’s not quite as smart as I’d expect a smart phone to be), it wasn’t all that great.  I didn’t really dig the keyboard’s tactile response.  The screen resolution was pretty good and the phone looked okay (I guess) but I guess the major downer was that Windows Mobile simply sucked and didn’t offer too much over non-smart OSes.

The HTC Dream however is a different story.  I guess I have to give HTC some slack– it wasn’t the phone that sucked (hardware) so much as it was the OS (software).  The Dream runs Google Android, which is by far the best system I’ve run so far.

I haven’t tried the iPhone system extensively, so I can’t make a really deep comparison, and I’ve never touched a Blackberry before (but god, they’re so hideous! Why would I want to?) but I can say that the Android phone really feels smart in my hand, and that says a lot considering how picky I am with my phones.


For lunch/dinner earlier today, Supergirl and I made what I’ve christened “C3,” which is a three cheese caserole  that just rocks all your socks.

Do you know what’s the difference between C3, and it’s more widely known cousin, C4?  “Compound 3” is a lot more toxic during the mixing process, and I think that’s apt– making C3 casserole is a crazy feat of trying to cook while fighting numerous obstacles:

  • onions burning your eyes!
  • cheeses which you can’t stop eating!
  • ham that just keeps hamming!

God I’m tired.


Haven’t had time to wipe my ass even lately, so here is a mixed bunch…

Time: 18:55 December 24th
Location: @work

Christmas Eve, I’m here at work, manning the FT corridors to a backdrop of Wagner’s “Valkyrie” blasting from my USB stick.  I’m here with Dr. [S] and we’re taking our time: things are, thankfully, quiet tonight.  I’ve been here since 11:30AM and I’ll be here until about 10pm at least for this shift.


[Supergirl] is out having dinner with my family tonight, since she has no family of her own in Montreal.  I’m glad that she agreed to meet up with them.  It wouldn’t have bothered me if she didn’t want to– it’s not easy to hang out with your boyfriend’s family while your boyfriend is actually at work instead of at that dinner table– but she was game.

I’ve found lately that I’ve more or less wanted to involve myself more and more with my family lately, at least in categorized kinds of ways.  Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I’ve moved out, and that with that new foundation, there isn’t the automatic family presence due to proximity that I always took for granted while I was at home.  Nowadays, I have to work for it– I have to call home every now and then, ask how things are doing, visit, spend time, invite them to dinners, etc.  NOthign happens automatically anymore.  With the unpredictablity of my schedule, it’s especially true that nothing every week is different and I have to fit things in sideways at times.


I’ve had an eczema problem for a little while now.  It’s a sort of allergic reaction in the skin, a dermatitis.  At least, that’s what I’m told. I’m not sure what it is that I’m allergic to that’s causing it, and that route doesn’t really make sense since I’m not exposing myself to anything new lately compared to a few months ago.  I’m just guessing that it’s seasonal, because of the winter dryness.  I’ve had eczema in the past, so this isn’t entirely new to me.

It is, however, a lot worse than I’ve ever had it.  I’ve had eczema on my neck before, but never of a calibre that it actually was incapacitatingly painful.

If you’ve figured out anything from reading this blog over the years, it should be that I can take a crapload of pain.  So fr me to complain about this…

There’s not much I can do about it.  I’ve gone through three types of  corticosteroids, I’m on my 4th type of lotion– but sometimes, it’s just bad. There is no cure, there is only alleviation of the symptoms.

And if there’s a second thing that you may have figured out about me over the years, it’s that I’m obsessive about solutions.  It annoys me to no end, thus, that I can’t ‘fix’ this eczema and constantly have to play this stupid game of upkeep.  It’s not cheap to constantly be buying lotions or creams for this stuff… and while a corticosteroid does work to make it less painful, the solution is temporary.  It’s not recommended to constantly use it either .

It bothers me on other levels as well.  [Supergirl] has been really sympathetic of it, but truth be told it’s really really a pain.  Last night I was at our Christmas dinner for my mom’s side of the family, and Supergirl came along.  I wasn’t much good for conversation because I didn’t bring the CS with me and thus suffered much of the night with almost nonstop pain.  I’m not talking irritation– I’m takling about downright pain.  It’s like 75% of my brain’s processing power was diverted at all times to preventing me from screaming.

And it’s an intimacy issue.  I like, very much, to sleep while holding Supergirl close– but if your neck hurts so much that the slightest pressure makes it feel like you’re pulling skin past breaking point like on a drum, well, is that comfortable?

I’ve wanted to get back into some sort of physical activity.  [Terminator] is back on track with the idea of judo, but frankly, I can’t do that with my skin in this condition.  I’ve stopped biking to work for the time being because the cold doesn’t help, nor does sweat.  I’m basically puttnig a lot of my life on hold because of this.


I got a text message from my sister early in the morning yesterday, after the Christmas celebration, by which time I was back in my apartment.  My grandmother was headed to the hospital– she’d had a great deal of difficulty breathing in the middle of the night.

Troponin tests reveal that she didn’t suffer a heart attack or anything like last time, and it’s suspected that she simply had a nightmare which triggered a panic attack.

I wonder, sometimes, if I should be grateful abotu things like this.  I mean, my grandmother isn’t in the best of health– physically, she’s not at all bad off for her age.  But mentally, she’s really not all there, not as sharp as the woman who raised my sister and I.  And that wasn’t easy– we were a handful.

What I mean to say is, at what point do you just stop wishing that someone would continue on, just for the sake of having that farmiliarity present?


Time: 21:25 Dec 24th
Location: @work

There’s a kid in the crash room who basically slammed into a tree while skiing.  What kind of world do we live in, and what kind of person am I, that this is the only thing that’s happening for me this Christmas Eve?

Time: 6:45 December 27th 2009
Location: @work
Batteries: 10% (Absolutely exhausted)

I haven’t really had much time to sit down and write lately, and true to bad habits, it seems that the last few times that I did find the time to write it was only to bitch and whine.  It’s misleding however– today is the day after boxing day, and although I find myself at the crack of dawn at work, things are actually going pretty well for me.

Lets recap what’s been going on the last little while.

First of all, about a week ago, [Supergirl]’s mom boarded the plane to Toronto.  Final destination is somewhere in Asia.  I’ll never really understand why anyone flies from Montreal to Toronto– it seems like such a hassle to spend time on airport related stuff like checkins and all that when there are busses and trains that can do the job for cheaper– but well.  I guess I myself have never actually tried flying from MTL to TO, so maybe there’s a reason why it even exists.  I guess it might just be a stopover or something that costs nothing extra?

Anyway, bottom line: Supergirl’s mom is out of town.  I never did get around to treating her out to a steak dinner at Marvin’s, but ah well. And on top of that, Supergirl is finally done with all her exams, so that means that we’ve been able to spend a bit more time together.  It’s a tough time of year for me to really find free time because I’ve got so many family obligations, but she’s been really great about things by taking the time to actually come and meet my family.

I’m actually pretty impressed by this because whatever fears she had about meeting my folks for the first time, she went into it head first and my family seems to like her a great deal.  I never really realized how important that is to me, because my up until now, my family has traditionally given my ex-girlfriends the cold shoulder.

A bit over a week ago, Supergirl and I went through something like our first real reality check as a couple.  What led to it was that she was upset with me over the scheduling of my time over the holidays, but really, that’s not the important part.  Moreover, the issue was that she had extended her stay in Montreal by another half year, basically to spend that time with me… but how was this supposed to work out?  What was the point in prolonging what would eventually just end, guaranteed?

The thing was, as you know, I’ve started applying to a university to do my masters.  That’d begin roughly around the time that Supergirl is to leave Montreal.  In her head, and I guess I’m to blame for this, she saw this planning of a life-after-Supergirl as basically signing the death warrant for our relationship.

The truth is, one of the reasons why I applied for a masters via distance education is so that the option would be open to me to follow her to Australia, or Ireland, or wherever it is that she intends to go.

Truth be told, that my grandmother was hospitalized just on Christmas Eve again, that just highlights that there are always going to be things here in Montreal to hold me to this place.  Did I really think anything through? No.  I can’t really commit to either staying or leaving– it’s impossible  for me to really decide that far into the future.

The thing is though, I guess there’s something to really be said about hope.

Without it, there’s no reason for anything.  And I think that perhaps this is what has changed about me in the past few months, since I met Supergirl.  I’m no longer a hopeless romantic, I’m a hopeful one, because if you’re hopeless, you’re just waiting for someone to go out of their way to proove to you how it could never work.  You’re blindfolding yourself and standing in front of that wall.  But here, I took all these chances and I realize that I didn’t do them because I’m hopeless, or a defeatest– it’s actually because I have developped just a opposite, and that is a hope that if I just believe, there’s something at the end of this all for me.

I didn’t really think about mentioning the possibility of travelling to Supergirl because, I suppose, I just figured that it was so far away that we could just enjoy what was going on right now.  But she’s much more of a forward thinker than I am.

I suppose you can say I’m more of a stategic procrastinator than she is.  For me, if there’s no solution to a problem, then I put it on hold.

This isn’t the same thing as avoiding wasting energy fighting losing battles– this is leaving one battle on hold to see if anything in the overal theatre changes the way you could handle that problem somewhere in the future.  It’s like cryogenically freezing a patient until an incurable disease becomes curable at a later time.

Of course, this approach doesn’t always work– I know that I’ve done it a few times and I know that plenty of other have just simply procrastinated because they don’t want to accept responsibility or assume the role of the actualizer, but this isn’t one of those cases.  This is a situation really where only time will tell.

Supergirl on the other hand is a lot more OCD than I am, at least in certain situations.  Whenever she sees my jacket has unbuttoned buttons on the pockets, or if the three ribbons on a Christmas present aren’t aligned, she needs to fix it right then and there.  This situation is another example.

That little difference between our presonalities is probably why I somehow failed or decided not to mention that one of the reasons why I signed up a for a distance education masters is because I’d be able to do it via internet pretty much anywhere.

It’s not so much that I forgot to tell her I guess, but I actually decided not to.   I guess I figured that being able to study abroad (although ironically, to study distance education from my native country) was like an ace I had up my sleeve to magically fix the situation.  I don’t know why I kept that in my sleeve–it makes no sense when you think about it, since Supergirl isn’t my opponent.

On some level maybe it was because I thought that Supergirl had done just what she thought I had done: signed a death warrant on our relationship.

The thing that had, up until then, kept our relationship going, was that “we’ll be happy now.”  I suppose one interpreation was that we were simply going to break up in a half year, but that didn’t mean that we couldn’t have a good time in the meantime.  Sure, that meant that we could be happy, but it meant that there was a doom clock hovering overhead.  We just had to ignore that little detail.

But now, I guess it’s so much easier to not ignore it and instead open up that other option, one where I do move.

It is, in all honesty, a very slim  chance that I move… but what have we got, if not hope?


Date: December 28th 2009
Time: 4:45AM
Location: @work
Batteries: 70%

I had a pretty decent day today, all things considered, with a few hiccups.  (Keep in mind that when I say I had a ‘day’ it probably means something in the neighborhood more of ‘the last 24 hours’ since I’m I night shifter.)  The first was that about 2 minutes before finishing my shift AT 7:15AM yesterday morning, a family from France arrived at the hospital.

I’ve never seen a France French passport before, nor have I actually spoken to France French people in person as far as I can remember.  I distinguish between France French and Quebecois French because the two actually sound pretty different, if you’re raised in one or the other.  That was kind of fun, because, from movies, and from literature, I can ‘fake’ France French if I take my time; it mostly involves just speaking french without all that Quebecois slang.

Aside from that though, the French family caused a bit of a problem because simply, they didn’t have any insurance.  Residents of Quebec are covered by “Medicare,” and if you’re a resident of any other Canadian province, you’re covered by that province’s equivalent since it’s all more or less tied under the same federal health plan.

When you don’t have insurance though, a visit to our ER costs you $581 (Canadian dollars).  If you’re unfortunate enough to be admitted onto one of the wards, that’ll set you back $4239 per day at my hospital, assuming that you’re not in Pediatric Intensive Care (PICU will cost you around double that).

The folks from France didn’t have any insurance documentation on them whatsoever– basically, they had their passports with them.  That’s a bit of a complicated situation because, lacking insurance, parents are expected to pay upfront.  And then there’s a long, complicated process of stamping a buncha forms and getting them to sign a bunch of papers: the “Slip for Patients’ Acounts,” wherin is described the reason why they don’t have a Medicare card; “Agreement with non-Canadian residents,” by which the parents’ agree that if for some reason they try to sue us, it will be under the governance of Quebec law (and not France’s Laws); etc etc etc.

Basically, whatevs– Thas me job, as they say. It can be done.

Just not in the 2 minutes before I finish my shift.

So, as predicted, I miss the bus that I need to take to Supergirl’s place after work.  At least there’s a bus shelter to keep me out of the freezing rain for the half an hour it takes for the next bus to arrive, and I’ve got enough batteries on my HTC Dream to watch Youtube videos the whole time.

I eventually got to her place though, showered, and slid myself into bed next to her.  She was still mostly asleep.


She and I spend a lot of time in bed.  Whether it’s sleeping, talking, or “other,” it’s time that I really appreciate with her.   I don’t really worry about anything when I’m there with her.  My stress is gone, and if I’m tired I always feel better.  It always feels as if I’m more at peace.  And at the same time, I’m alive and awake, acutely aware that I’m not the only person in the world.


For the past week or so, my life has been running a bit differently.

First of all I’m on a new ‘training’ plan. This training plan involves me getting stronger– I can do more pushups, more chinups, more situps, etc, with less effort. The plan? Sleep.

For the past little while I’ve been working those good old Fasttracker shifts at the hospital, which means that I’m back working on day/evening shifts (allbethey about 12 hours each…) with the land of the living. It’s been much easier to sleep during the night and in general I’m just so much better rested. It makes a huge difference.


I got an HTC Dream the other day. I must say, that from the very start, this phone just wowed the crap out of me. I’ve used an HTC Vox s707 before, and that was a piece of crap as far as I’m concerned– the only reason I gave HTC a second chance was because the Vox was running Windows Mobile, which, like many Microsoft products, has a lot of good ideas but gets stuck at entry level jack-of-all-trades innovation instead of really sealing the deal. WM made the Vox slow and although although MSN and Activesync bridges worked almost flawlessly, it was just a very bloated OS that always felt slow and unpolished.

The phone after that was the P1i which I was actually quite happy with– it was running Symbian OS, which I liked much better than WM or any previous non-smartphone OSes that I’ve used. Symbian was really cool in a number of ways– it felt like I was going back to the hardcore days of Dos, where there were command line modifiers to EVERYTHING. There were so many options in the Symbian OS that I really felt that I had a truly customized experience. Even though it wasn’t built for it, and even though the P1i is at this point several years outdated, Symbian is still a robust enough platform that I could perform my own patches to integrate 2009 standards for web browsing, VOIP calls, IM, and even integration with Google products.

The big problem I had with Symbian is that that much homebrew and customization leads to problems with support– you really have to do a lot of tweaking to get things working just right. There are a lot of bugs as a result.

HTC Dream running Google Android though seems to be doing almost everything I want it to– without customizations. I mean, the only reason I want to customize things is because what I want a phone to do might be different from the factor setting– but the factory settings of Android seem to be pretty in sync with what I want. From the getgo, I basically entered my Google username and password, and voila– forget about swapping simcards and crap (I had to get a new one since I switched carriers), it automatically synced all my data from the ‘net. Instantly, my phone was loaded with my contacts, calendars, email, etc. The true (as opposed to patched) Google integration of Android meant little bonuses as well– for example, I can see multiple shared calendars with no fuss, compared to using activesync patches on WM or Symbian which only supported the displaying of my native calendar.

Now, I’ve already heard it before– “But you know, an iPhone also does that!”

I’m not sure what it is about people and their iPhone stuff. I never said that iPhones can’t do things– I just don’t like Apple products. Nor do I need to. I could just as easily say to an iPhone user playing with his tilt-labyrinth game or his lightsaber app: “But you know, an Android phone also does that!”

If you asked me why I don’t like Apple products, I probably wouldn’t be able to come up with a better reason than that the branding annoys me way too much. It’s not a question of hardware per se, and nowadays pricing is a bit better (although still NOT as good as comparable products of the same ability from other brands), it’s just what I call Apple ‘culture.’ So it’s not so much Apple that I dislike as the people who use apple.

Kinda like how I can just as easily wear a YMCA sweater instead of paying 200$ for a lululemon one.



I got a full sized chopping board for the apartment. No more running out of real estate while trying to cook. Bring on the butchery!
Android phone.
Laundry basket. No more using a storage bin as a laundry basket! Now I can pretend that I don’t live in a ghetto!
A pair of Ikea lamps. Added for irony!

Case Closed

In case you were wondering how that scenario ended, the one I describe in that old post (http://jinryu.xanga.com/718357006/mystery-patient/),

I managed to track down the Doctor’s name. That doctor is a pathologist. The baby was dead– the labs were from an autopsy report.

That’s why the patient didn’t exist from an administrative point of view– we don’t register dead babies.


Testing 1 2 3…

Gaming for a Living

Time: December 15, 2009 3:37AM
Location: @ Work
Batteries: 75%

Tomorrow (or rather, today after I finish work at 8AM) I’m off work for two days.  It’s long overdue.  I’ve worked 8 out of the last 7 days and frankly, I’m feeling a bit burnt out.

I realize now that one fo the differences between who I was, say, five years ago, or even ten years ago, versus who I am now has a lot to do with how I communicate.

I’ve always held that for a person to be a better person, they need to develop ‘substance.’  These are the things that, I suppose you could say, make you a respectable person.

You could, for example, swim 50 laps every morning.  You could be someone who has developed superior barbecue meat cutting skills after working as a butcher for a decade.  You could be someone who choses to quit smoking.  You could be someone who helps old ladies across the street.

It’s basically anything that makes you a ‘good person.’

And for the longest time, I suppose I held that actions always spoke louder than words, and that if you didn’t need to, you shouldn’t speak up anyway.  So it was that I worked hard, only for myself.  I’ve always been the sort of person to pack my day from start to finish with things that I take seriously with the exception of perhaps school, because those things seemed to be the least substantial of all the things I could learn.

Anyway, years down the line, I’m pretty pleased with the amount of substance I’ve accumulated. I am a jack of many, many trades, and though I master none, I think I’m a survivor– you can throw me in any situation and I’ll be able to do a fair job of surviving. Give me some time and I’ll get good at it, and you’ll find me gaming the system to try and find better ways of doing it.

That’s what life is to me: a big game. Take it as a parable. Every day, you’re working towards becoming a better gamer– you find entertainment along the way, but just as importantly if not as importantly, you grow.  Some people take offense at a statement like that, because the idea of a ‘game’ to them is something peurile and unrealistic– but as I’ve said before, I take my games very seriously, perhaps more seriously than some people take real life.  If anything, treating life like a game allows me to accept risks and acheive things that not many others can.

Growing up is a lot like building a character in an RPG.  And while a closed system like and RPG may seem overslimplified compared to the wishywashiness of real life, there are a lot of parallels.  I know, for example, friends who run their lives like fighters/tanks, such as [Terminator].  [Zanshin] I see as a sage. [SiB]… maybe a bard?  [Paladin], I actually see as a paladin. There are all sorts of ‘classes’ out there, and truly, many people display the traits of several classes.  The importance isn’t the category, nor on the appropriateness of a comparison to a game.  A game just caricatures real life, and it’s lesson lies in how you recognize the importance of those exaggerated characteristics as traits, perhaps in yourself.  The game is sown for introspection.

Tell me

Time: 2:42AM December 15th
Location: @ work
Batteries: 80%
Morale: ^_^

Work has been really choppy, interrupting me all the time, so I’m never really able to finish what I’m trying to write about.  So, to concinute what I was writing about on December 13th, about that meal I was having with [Paladin] at 3 in the morning,

“So what’s the deal with [Supergirl]?  Is she still going to be leaving?”

“Yeah. She’s leaving on January 4th for Asia,” I replied.

“That’s too bad,” he grimaced.  “You seem… less evil nowadays.”

“But, she’s coming back for a while.  She’ll be coming back to Montreal and then she’ll be staying until June or July.”


It’s almost as if I’ve played this game right.  The first time I told her I loved her, I told her that I was hesitant to do so because I felt that it was almost like emotional blackmail.  That she would be leaving, who would want to hear things like that?  It only makes things more difficult.  It’s, as she says, a train wreck waiting to happen.  The more attached we become the harder it will be for her to leave.  She’s stuck with the dirty work of having to leave.

None of that reall matters now though. I don’t know when it was that she decided she loved me back, but when I first brought it up, I told her she didn’t need to say anything in return.  We didn’t talk about it for a few days, maybe weeks, I can’t remember, I should have written it down.

At some point though she just said she loved me right back.

And you know, that changes everything.  I guess on some level I thought that it was okay if I could say something like that to her and that I didn’t need her to say it back… because on the inside, I had some hint that she felt the same way.  It’s just words right?  Who cares if she couldn’t say it?

But when she finally did, I realized how wrong I was.  It seemed like such a small thing, just a word, but really, once you hear it, and in a tone and with eyes that you look at and realize that it’s for real, it’s a sort of confirmation.  Even if it might be something you suspected, once I heard it, all my resolve about the uselessness of mere words seemed so stupid.  Now, if I don’t hear it every now and then, I feel a bit lost.


The othernight, she looked up at me and said to me: “Tell me that you love me.”

It wasn’t a question– she knew it to be true already.  But I guess this situation sums it up– even if you know it, there’s something about going through the motion of saying it.  It’s not that it officiates it or makes it more authentic, it’s something else, more important, but finding a way to describe it escapes me.

In my head, for someone to need me, me specifically, I guess in some strange way, that makes me feel more whole.

Empty Tank

Time: 3:23AM December 14th
Location: @ work
Batteries: 10%
Morale: =_=

I am SO incredibly exhausted right now because I only slept, at most, 4 hours since the last shift I worked.  Probably wasn’t very smart of me, but necessary.  I got home from work at about 8am, took about 4 hours of sleep, woke up because I had trouble sleeping.  Decided that, since [Zak] was in the apartment, we might as well load up Left 4 Dead 2, which I just picked up a week ago.  I waited a week to play that game because it’s definitively a multiplayer experience, based on what I’d seen of Left 4 Dead (the first one).  Played that until the late afternoon, tried to get some more sleep, failed.  Went to join [Supergirl] and some of her friends for coffee at a chocolatier on Maisonneuve.  Then went to one of Supergirl’s friend’s apartment to see if I could obtain some furniture secondhand.  The evening ended up wearing on pretty long and I was a bit bummed about that: the 13th was our 2nd anniversary since I officially asked Supergirl on a “date-date” instead of just whatever else it is that you call it when two people just hang out and get to know eachother, which I guess we were doing for a month before that.

I say bummed because I had it all planned in my head how I would either show up with flowers or get one of my friends (who knows a flower shop near his workplace and who drives) to bring me some last minute that I could surprise her with, but one of Supergirl’s friends and her mom ended up joining us for dinner.  So much for a dinner for two and a slow evening watching a movie!  But the situation just kinda spiraled and that’s where we ended up.

Lunch at 3AM

Time: 6:53AM December 13th
Location: stillll @ work
Batteries: 50%
Morale: 🙂

[Paladin] flung me a text message at a bit before 2am this morning, wondering if I was up for some gaming. I replied that I was, unfortunately, at work, but if he wanted, he could join me during my ‘lunch break’ from 2:30AM until 4:40Am and we could have a coffee at Moe’s down the street.


So it was that at about 2:40AM, he and I were sitting at Moe’s, which is a place I really like. Friendly service. Open 24 hours.  Food there isn’t exactly Cordon Bleu stuff, but who can be chosy at 3AM anyhow? It beats a Tim Hortons or MacDonalds anyday.

We started talking about nothing in particular, including how somehow we always find the time to  sit down, he and I, to have these occasional meals.

We shot the shit.  The thing is, I wouldn’t really say that he and I are super close– he doesn’t know the inner workings of my life, nor did we write that much history together in those most influential of college and cegep years.  But I find that he’s someone that I get along with really well– it’s easy to just hang out with him and do something because he’s one of those rare frineds of mine who has his shit in order.  One might say he’s in a truly enviable position: he has a great finance, a job he likes, no debts, and a good sense of humor.

Hanging out with him, the wool of his sheepskin lined collar and fake leather of my jacket lining our respective necks from the draft that would cut in everytime the door would open, was one of those rare happenings that made you feel like a part of something.  Something like a community, though not so big, and still, something like a family, though not so familiar.  Something just casual and comforting in the way that everyone spoke to you as if you’d known eachother for ages.

Untold Tales of Emergency

Time: 5:47 December 12th 2009
Location: @Work
Batteries: 75%
MOrale: ^_^”’

In case you were wondering why I write the time in my posts and that time doesn’t actually correspond to the time that you see on the post time, it’s not because I’m in a different time zone or something. It’s because the computer at pre-triage, which has the most comfy chair, doesn’t give me access to my blog, so I usually write during the night and then later upload the post when I get back home. “Batteries” refers to my sleep condition, and if you want to have some fun, you can try and find some correlation between low batteries and the amount of spelling errors (since I seldom proofread my posts) and of the degree of bitchiness of my posts, as they are inversely related.


So, for a little while just now, I thought I’d destroyed the pre-triage server.

That would have been bad. Like. Very. Very. Bad.

But all is okay now.


So the thing is,

the computer at pre-triage is hardcore firewalled. I can basically use the hospital intranet and install drives from the Microsoft Windows Update server, but I can’t even log onto the MS website. Basically, anything that you’d want to access via web HTTP won’t work, unless it’s served by the hospital network intranet. We’re not allowed to browse the web on most work computers because the IT directors are communists, or they answer to communists. There are some computers where I’ve managed to work around the firewall, but the computer that I rely on 95% of the time during overnight shifts at the N1 uses windows 2000 and I’m not familiar with getting around the access issues. Namely, I don’t have sufficient administrative access because someone somewhere actually did their job when securing this machine. (Whoever was supposed to firewall the newer machines did a really half assed job, so I can use Internet on pretty much all the other machines in the department.)


I however have owned a nifty-ish phone for some time, the SonyEricsson P1i. It’s the same phone that the main character in “District 9” uses– how cool is that? Among other abilities, it can jump on WAP servers to deliver internet to itself, so I can browse the web without paying anything extra on my phone bill. Yeah, I know, it’s not as fast as a 3g connection, but it’s free. I’m a stickler for cost efficiency.

I don’t like sitting at my desk and browsing on my phone though, at least, not when I have a perfectly good sized screen right in front of me. So, I set about a mission earlier tonight– to patch myself an internet connection to this computer from my phone.

The theory is pretty simple.

Here’s the situation:

  • P1i is capable of jumping onto the Fido.wap server, basically enabling the th P1i to browse the web and a few ports for things like IM client connections.
  • I don’t like browsing the web on the P1i because typing on a keypad is annoying compared to a keyboard.
  • I don’t like browsing the web on the P1i because screen real estate is too small.
  • I don’t like browsing on my phone at work because technically, we shouldn’t be using cellphones in the hospital. Nobody actually cares, because it doesn’t affect the type of medical equipment we’re using unless you’re witin a couple of feet of it, but you know, it’s easier to tell obnoxious parents to turn off their phones when they don’t see you using yours all the time.
  • pre-triage computer is firewalled, basically making internet unavailable.
  • pre-triage computer has a great flatscreen LCD and a fullsized keyboard!

And by their powers combined, they might make an internet capable device.


So, what I need to do is find some way to bridge the WAP connection the the Internet Explorer.

What I basically had to do first was find a way to get Sony Ericsson connection software installed on this computer which has no internet access. I went to one of my unlocked computers in the department, find the software and drivers on the SE site, then dump it on a hospital shared drive in hidden folders buried in the most obscure of unused directories where we store ketamine protocols from 1997. Just to really cover my tracks, I rename and save the files as the ’96 protocols.

Gonig back to the pre-triage computer, I access the shared drives, copy the ‘protocols’ onto the local desktop and start installing.

It takes a bit of doing to get the cocktail just right… Windows 2000 was great back in it’s day, but the P1i came much later down the line and uses USB and TCP/IP in ways that the hospital’s ancient and poorly updated version doesn’t really know what to do with. So I needed to first bridge the USB into a Serial COM that the the software understood. I needed to somehow tell the phone that I wasn’t going to be using it for a dialup connection, but for it’s WAP abilities.

Yadda yadda, 30 minutes later, I’ve got internet at the pre-triage computer! It’s slow as hell, and reminds me of my 56k modem days (although, you must consider too that webpages are a lot more bandwidth intensive than they were ten years ago) but it feels good to be reconnected to the ‘net.

But then I realize something strange when an ambulance comes in: none of the pre-triage systems are working anymore.

The pre-triage computer requires four things to basically do it’s primary job. First, it requires a connection to an ancient 1990s client program codenamed Teddy Bear, which has access to the hospital network’s patient database, at least for our hospital. The Teddy Bear client basically operates like the oldest of the oldschool 1990s bulletin board systems– it comes in two colors, menu items are accessed by typing in the number of your choice. You can’t use the cursor for anything. And whoever designed Teddy Bear didn’t care for aesthetics at all– there isn’t even any of that ANSI art that made all the really funky BBSes so popular back in the day. The system is, however, running on ethernet cabled connections, not dialup phonewire connections. It’s sorta like giving a really ugly, retarded person a really fancy car. But in any case– once you learn to use Teddy Bear, you come to respect it because when all other systems break down, this is the system will usually still be there for you to create and modify your patients’ demographic data, as well as handle your admissions and serve you ward reports. I only actually use about 10% of Teddy Bear’s functions, and already there’s more to Teddy Bear than I could teach you to use in a day of work.

The second bit is SIURGE, which is the healthcare professional’s portal client. Nurses and doctors don’t care about fixing patient demographic data– they just need something that manages current patients and recently discharged ones. And, since the learning curve for something like Teddy Bear is so treacherous, the SIURGE client GUI is a lot more user friendly. It’s got buttons you can click with your mouse, and gasp, even scrollbars!

Teddy Bear handles outpatient data. SIURGE handles inpatient data.

Then you need a standard-ish printer to print out the ER sheets, each one customized to a patient, which nurses and doctors use to record their notes. After a patient is sent home, these ER sheets, combined with whatever special forms and consult records they may have accumulated from various procedures during their stay, are all sent to Medical Records, where they’re compiled into a patient’s “Old Chart” which is the typical big ugly folder full of your medical history.

And lastly, we need a working card embosser, which is to say, a machine that prints you hospital cards. You’d be surprised but because of the legal systems in place, a lot of the hospital falls apart simply if the card embosser breaks down and we can’t stamp a patient’s sheets with their hospital card. If we can’t make a hospital card for a patient, a lot of departments simply aren’t allowed to work on a patient! Luckily, we’ve got the primary embosser, plus two backup machines. One of the embossers doesn’t actually work, and they haven’t made these things since the 1970s, so it’s only job is as a 75 pound steel paperweight. The other machine more or less works sometimes, and is configured to work with Siurge. And the last machine only works pretty consistently with Teddy Bear.


So, there I am, browsing the internet on the pre-triage computer, feeling pretty smart and all that. When an ambulance comes in and I have to start a registration.

Suprise surprise– my connection to Teddy Bear isn’t working! Hooookay. Lets see about Siurge and just do a blind admission without changing any demographic data?

Oh, fuck.

Since all of this happened only after I started phone tweaking, a few little tests leads me to guess that that somehow, all the patching I did *overwrote* the pre-triage computer’s network connection settings. Apparently, this computer isn’t capable of dual wielding. So, when I try to use Teddy Bear or Siurge, the computer is trying to access the hospital’s intranet through my phone– which isn’t going to happen, because the intranet patient database isn’t accessible via public internet, much less Fido’s less-than-full-spectrum WAP abilities. Hospital data is essentially on a strictly a closed circuit database, for obvious security reasons.

So I’ve got an ambulance and no method of registering the patient.

There is only one computer at pre-triage to do all this with.

Fortunately the computers in the Registration department can do the same job, but when i go there I realize that they changed the passwords last week and that I didn’t get the memo about the new one. Since my employ is under the jurisdiction of Nursing and not Admissions department. Greeeeeeeeeat.


I eventually manage to get the patient entered into the system from another computer with an embosser connection which someone forgot to lock (THANK GOD) and which, due to a McAffee Virus Scan “Sign up for the full version!” system message didn’t go into locked sleep mode.  This is perhaps the first and only time that I will say “Thank God for pop-ups.”

From that computer, I make a copy of network configuration files onto the shared drive, go back to pre-triage, spend half an hour uninstalling SE drivers and software, and finally manage to return pre-triage to it’s pre-[Jinryu] state.

Piece ‘o cake.

Although now I have no internet here again.