dal niente

Month: January, 2011

Fishing Pole

I never really realized how much I like to put myself in the category of a geek until it turned out (from reference letters that co-workers wrote for me) that people at work identify me as the IT guy at work. I don’t work in the IT department mind you. I have no knowledge whatsoever about how to run a server. It just so happens I can read English, am not afraid of attempting to unjam a printer, or press F1 for help. Maybe that’s a bit simplistic– but even though I don’t understand all the inner workings of a computer, I’m not afraid of it, and I have a respect of it that includes the patience to try and learn how to use it properly.

I’ll give myself credit– whatever I feel like learning, I’ll learn eventually, and I’ll use it in a lot of different ways. That, I think, is what makes me a bit of a geek. It has to do with hacking things to bits so that you can use them a certain way.

When I was in elementary school, I think that this kinda thing was kinda less cool. Being someone who sat in front of a television playing video games or in front of a monitor trying to figure out how to code in BASIC just wasn’t considered all that mainstream or cool. Now, somehow, I find myself with special weapons no matter what rung of the food chain I find myself on, because I know how to enter formulas in Excel, and can type 80 words per minute. It’s really not that hard.

The individual exploits aren’t really important though, not so much as the way of thinking about computing. I guess it’s like– you can’t really just memorize techniques of computing– you need to figure out applications of basic ideas, and build on that.

I’m less of a geek than a real geek, but I think I’d qualify for honorary status.

-=-=-=

You know what’s sick? My sister can actually type 120 words per minute. Really. She doesn’t know a thing about programming, can’t videogame to save her life, but she can out type me any day.

I’m wondering– was there like, a golden age of computing? Let me be more specific– was there a good time to grow up computing?

Where people were growing up at just the right time at the cusp between BASIC, C, and DOS? When .bat files still mattered? When Linux was still in two colours? There’s a period before computers; there’s a period where computers were hard to use; and then there is this period (now) where everything is such that if you throw enough money at them, computers just work.

My sister grew up in the current period… I feel I grew up somewhere just when computers were becoming a bit easier but still retained that gritty texty feel to them. And I think I’m better for it. Lets me exercise my mind in different ways– not only can I use the computer to do things in the modern off-the-shelf utility, as a tool, but I can build my tools with my tools, if that makes sense.

I think that largely, that’s why I hate hearing about anything technology related at work– because people who talk out of this now period of glitz and glam and throwing money at problems until they just work. Whatever happened to involvement in the tools we use? Whatever happened to artforms, to thinking, to trying to solve problems ourselves instead of asking for help all the time?

-=-=-=-=-

Of course, there’s something to be said of being able to just tell your computer to do something and have it work.

I’m just saying that my modified 80′ Baracuda is still a better car than your Ford Echo.

-=-=-=-=-=-

The internet in my area really sucks. I’m not really willing to pay over 40$ a month for internet, so, I’m currently paying about 35$ CAN for unlimited bandwidth. The speed isn’t too impressive though– the downloads top out at about 60kilobytes per second. That’s pretty pale, compared to about 700 KB/s at work (more than 10 times as fast).

I’m currently using an Online PC service though that hopefully gets me around the limitation of my slow internet. What the Online PC basically does is allow you to remotely access a PC somewhere else, where the internet connection is better. With the OPC that I’m using, the download rate is about 1300KB/s — do the math, that’s more than 20 times faster than what I get at home. And they offer this convenient service where you can ship them a HD, they’ll dump all your downloaded data onto it, and ship it back. Shipping back your HD is free. Shipping to them costs about… 10 bucks maybe? We’ll see.

Now, I guess you’re wondering why I chose to do it this way, rather than just pay more for internet at home. Well, I’m not sure about the costs just yet– but so far, at least while the OPC costs only 5$ per month (it’s on promotion at the moment) this method seems to be at least as cheap as upgrading my internet at home. Secondly, upgrading my home internet in the past, thanks to the lousy neighborhood network, hasn’t really made much a difference in the past, so I’m not too keen on paying more for marginal speed bosts.

Plus, this method makes me feel like more of a geek.

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Grey’s

“Mystery solved: the patient was sick, and cancelled,” I say, and high five myself.

“Which kid?” asks [Dr. Pat], checking the OR schedule.

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” I reply, waving my hand. “I’m talking about a case last week. When I’m doing the post-operative entries, sometimes there’s these mystery cases– sometimes someone forgets to fill out the forms so I have no record of a cancelation. I keep looking for surgical cases that never happened. So if it turns out that a department said the patient was sick, that’s a good clue: it means they probably had their surgery cancelled. It’s a good thing for me, it means I can stop looking for proof of something that doesn’t exist.”

“Good thing for you maybe!”

“Well, yeah. I guess a kid being sick makes my job easier.”

[Dr. Magic] cuts in: “Maybe good for the kid too!”
“How’s that?”

“Well, when you think about it, he can be sick, and stay home instead of having surgery.”

“But he’ll still need the surgery eventually… it’s just postponing the inevitable.”

“Well, sometimes, they do get better. Or you know, the patient dies, or something. Much easier than coming in, and we’re like, hello little child! Let me put this mask on you! All Hannibal Lectre style y’know? No wonder kids hate us so much. Because we gas them.” (Dr. Magic is an aneasthetist.)

“Er… I guess?”

“I don’t even cut them!”

“So the ombudsman gets involved and everything, and they’re telling us that we really have to do this last umbilical hernia. But like, it’s not our fault it’s on the list– why is the father here yelling at us when it’s the urology department that’s cancelled them like 3 times? Not even here, you know,” explains [Mickey]. “It’s stupid, because then we up here at OR look like it’s our fault, when it’s not. It looks like we’re the ones who can’t get our shit together to do the surgery, which isn’t the case– it’s the clinc, or whatever. And then apparently all you gotta do is be aggressive, scream for an ombudsman and you get your way? That’s bullshit, [Jinryu], it’s bullshit I tell you.”

“I guess I kinda see what the ombudsman is trying to do, but I don’t find it that cool that we’re not being backed up on this. This reminds me of that show there, Grey’s anatomy. I don’t watch grey’s anatomy, but my girlfriend does.”

“I watch Grey’s. Which episode?”

“Apparently there’s like this episode where a dude comes in and starts shooting things up, gets into the OR and then starts making demands,” I recount. “It’s like the season finale or something. That’s like this. ‘Cept nobody’s waving a gun. But they’re controlling us, Mickey, they’re holding us hostage with these bad attitudes, and our instituation isn’t backing us up. We’re giving in to terrorism.”

Investing

Part of an email from Christopher Smith, Ph.D Student
Sociology & Equity Studies in Education
O.I.S.E. / Univeristy of Toronto

“You have people who practice theory in a very deadening way, so theory keeps on aiming for closures and building up boundaries rather than voiding them” (1992: 15).
– Trihn T. Minh-ha, Framer Framed

What does it mean to invest in something? Is it about a devotion to a certain outcome? Is this outcome economical? political? cultural? As scholars and producers of knowledge we make certain decisions that speak to these kinds of investments. Investment is understood here as a commitment to an idea, whether it be about social transformation, emancipation and/or that liminal space in-between. When we engage the work that we do, we know we are committed to an idea that is driven by some anticipated outcome. But what is that outcome? What are different ways that we can imagine investing in scholarly work? How can we re-imagine our scholarly investments? How do we negotiate the material effects of our imaginative processes?

When we make decisions about aligning with particular theoretical and methodological discourses, what kinds of possibilities and closures are articulated? Once one embarks on such an endeavour what are the implications? Further, do the implications of our investments manifest themselves affectively, institutionally, and/or transformatively?

One is often inclined to invest in particular forms of scholarship with the anticipation that our audiences (however we imagine them) will be moved to action. As such, we as scholars are bound in an affective relationship with the communities we engage with. Ideally, we imagine this as a reciprocal relationship, yet often our commitments to pursue innovative ideas limits this as a possibility. It is this quagmire that scholars contend with all the time but are often resistant to discuss. This resistance needs to be interrogated.

Given the fact that our individual standpoints always emerge in relation to other(s) be they partnerships, collectives and/or communities, the interrogation must consider that the parties involved transform each other as a result of those very interactions. These encounters produce the necessary conditions for imagining alternative scholarly communities regardless of the disciplinary regimes that exist.

Not only are there the personal investments that we must negotiate, there are broader institutional and University investments that must be considered. There are restrictions and material effects that make this negotiation complicated and can often impact the direction our work does and can take. This simultaneously enables and restrains the kinds of ideas that can emerge, germinate and result in some form of capital investment.

Asskickery

For your information:

http://www.geekologie.com/2010/12/drunk_man_kills_shark_by_jumpi.php

Old School

Before reading the Gospel at a Catholic mass celebration, a priest or deacon usually makes a three part sign with his dominant hand– he draws a cross on his forehead, his mouth, and then on his chest.  The significance of this is a reminder that the Word of God be on our minds, in that we must be consciously intellectually engaged with the Word; it should be on our lips, in that we must spread the Word to others and not be afraid to profess our beliefs; it ought to be in our hearts, such that we genuinely feel an emotional and spiritual connection that must be nourished.

Though this is a ritual of Catholics, the Word has throughout history been preached in a number of differint ways for different beliefs.  I like the greek word “logos” which refers to some transcendant word, or purpose.  But you could just as easily substitute it for the words “passion,” or “love.”  Anything that engages a person on all levels at once.

There are various interpretations of this idea, and you’ll find them all over the place.

Mr. Kesuke Miyagi: In Okinawa, belt mean no need rope to hold up pants. [laughs; then, seriously] Daniel-san, karate here. [taps his head] Karate here. [taps his heart] Karate never here. [points to his belt] Understand?

An alignment of one’s being comes with different names: moxy, grit, substance, gung-fu, etc.  When someone is of that state of being, one where everything about them has been put behind a singular goal, there is a certain aura about these people that is at once both amazing and frightening.

While I was in Malaysia with [CM], I got to meet a lot of her family, and by far the member of the clan who left the most lasting impression was her grandmother.  I’m not sure of her age– probably over 80.  But from the moment she started talking in Cantonese, I could tell there was something to her that was out of the ordinary.

One of the things that’s a bit quirky about me is that I tend to be kind of bad at facial recognition– however, I tend to pay a lot of attention to body language, and that’s usually the primary means of how I remember people.  I tend to get the hang of peoples’ faces significantly after I’ve gotten used to the mechanics of movements.  Most people tend to have movements within a range of very common traits. For example, many people will shuffle while walking, will slouch while standing/sitting, will rock on their heels when stationary, etc.  Though there are a lot of little traits on the list, a lot of them are reused, and people tend to be defined by the particular combinations of these common factors.

There are, however, a number of uncommon factors that some  people display.

In the case of CM’s grandmother, it was the way that she moved her hands.  Most people do not use slow, circular movements with their hands to demonstrate things at about chest level.  For most people, bringing their hands up this high in everyday life is simply uncommon… and thus, it makes them uncomfortable.  Yes, people point fingers at people.  Yes, some people wave their hands or make agressive gestures.  But when’s the last time you saw someone make slow, measured, fluid, demonstrative movements with their hands?

The thing about body language is that oftentimes, its a much more accurate way of assessing someone’s personality than what they say or what they wear.  People can chose their words differently, and people can wear different clothes, but body language is harder to fake– and when people do so, you can usually sense their tension.

CM’s mom was the matriarch of the best noodle restaurant in a village in China when her husband passed away.  As far as I can tell, her life is closely related to cooking.  It’s not everyday that you meet someone who easily dismisses Hong Kong food as being garbage– it’s a high standard indeed I think!  I don’t know much about making noodles, but from what I understand, it’s extremely labour intensive.  The techniques involved thus involve a fair amount of working-skill– gung fu, if you will– and like all working skills that are honed long enough, it affects a person’s body mechanics even outside of their job.  Thus, decades after retirement, CM’s grandmother still moves her hands with the authority of a noodle master.

When you’re cutting a carrot, experience will make it so that you tend not to lift the knife more than you need to to deliver the chop.  Lift too much, and you’re wasting energy building up momentum that you’ll have to counter before you can chop downwards.  Lift too little, and you won’t be able to use the weight of the knife to drive through what you’re cutting, and you’ll use more muscle than you need to ‘push’ the knife through the carrot rather than ‘chop’

So basically, if you get good at a movment, it’s fluid, and it’s direct.  There is less hesitation, more economy of motion.  It automatically exerts the right amount of energy.  It is simply a right movement.

I guess it’s just interesting to see someone who has the ability to make such an uncommon right movement. It was really fascinating– whenever she was talking, I was hypnotized by her hands.

Perhaps that’s what we all ought to aspire to.  While I’m sure that being a noodlemaster isn’t without it’s challenges or dissapointments, isn’t the idea of being so great at something that you carry a defining aura, an unmistakable substance to your being, just by saying a few words?  Maybe that’s where something really old school, some sort of courage to just do something that you feel in your heart is what you ought to be doing, something that’s on your mind, in your actions, and fueled by your spirit… That’s only achieved by being totally permeated with the is-ness of something.

Dependence

When I first started using Linux, there was one thing that really struck me as an excellent way of doing things– “packages.” The basic difference between the way that Linux handles stuff and the way that Windows (I’m not 100% sure about Windows 7, but with older WinOSes anyway) handles program installations is in the way it manages it’s library and driver interdependencies.

That probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to normal people, so here it is simply. Installing programs in Windows is like hiring a bunch of people to work in your office. Each of these employees is a specific application– they’re supposed to do a certain job. One guy is for accounting, one gal is for communications, another is to get you coffee. Your office has bunch of pens, a bunch of computers, a refrigerator in the coffee room, etc. It’s got a very communal feel to it.

Linux on the other hand is like hiring a bunch of people to do a job, but your office space has pens chained to the tables. That, or people bring their own pens. People probably have to bring their own laptops, and there is no communal fridge– you bring your own cooler or your thermos or whatever.

While Windows would like to think that its method is nice because it’s friendly and cooperative, the problem is that each one of these employees steals pens, downloads porn, and forgets food in the fridge. Defragmenting your hard disk or cleaning your registry is like scraping all that shit off the top of the employee microwave.

Actually, why am I even bothering to use Linux vs Windows as an analogy? My point is that when it comes to an relationships of people towards goals, a certain amount of trust is necessary for efficiency. You can save everyone a lot of time by helping people out just a bit, but, if they’re assholes, they’ll take that inch, stretch it a mile, and leave you hanging.

So the trick is, if you want to be successful in a social context, you need to make friends and contacts that you can trust to be independant before you depend on them.

Of course, that’s the tough part, isn’t it? Who can you trust?

And the fact is– even if one thinks “I am trustworthy,” sure– but, you have to also remember “I am human.” I know for a fact that there are some days that I simply don’t want to do my job. Not because I can’t be trusted. But because, simply, something about the way work is working makes me tired– and so every now and then, instead of letting work lean on me, I lean on work. I’m not a machine.

I think in the grand scheme of things, there will always be people who are dependable– but the trick, or rather, the miracle, will be to develop a workplace that has an environment, pay, and benefits that nurture that independence so that workers willingly take on new responsibilities for the sake of their own personal growth which coincide with the goals of the company. Do you think that’s too much to ask?

Home Turf

A few nights ago:

I asleep with my bedroom door closed, but at about 2am, I heard a crash in the house. The sound woke me up, and I couldn’t really figure where the sound came from. Even though I was groggy, I waited for the customary swearing that usually followed it (it was usually my mom or dad who had knocked something over in the kitchen). But there was none of that.

My sister, down the hall, had woken up as well, and I heard her ask: “Was that you?”

Nope. And my parents were still sleeping in their bedroom.

Still in the dark, I leaned over the stairwell and peered down at the first floor– no sound, no light.

When I used to play 1 on 1 deathmatches in DukeNukem 3d, my cousin [Adan] and I could hunt eachother based on environment sounds alone– every light switch, every door creak on stage 1-1 of Duke3d made a different sound, and we knew exactly where every one of those sounds came from. My real-world home is the same. I know every floor board. The thing about my house is that I’ve been living here most of my life– I know ever sound, every creak.

As a young adult, when I used to sneak out of the house after dark, I knew exactly which parts of each step of each flight of stairs to put my weight on so that they wouldn’t creak as much. Similarly, I know invisible paths around the kitchen and dining room that make no noise.
So, the question was– what was that huge noise? Had someone broken in?

Call me paranoid– but when I was a kid, someone did try to break in. I was probably 10 at the time, and my sister just 6. It was dark outside, and someone had rang the doorbell. Because my sister and I were watching television and had been too slow to come down and check the window, perhaps the burglar figured the place was empty. A few minutes after I’d gone back upstairs to continue watching television with my sister (my dad was in the shower), there was thunderous booming coming from downstairs. We later found out that the would-be burglar had kicked in one of the sets of security bars on our basement windows. My dad had come out of the shower shouting: “What’s going on?!” and I think my sister screamed something about the house falling down. My mom was at work that night.

I remember my dad telling me to call 911– he pulled on some sweatpants, went under his bed where he pulled out 10-inch bayonette, and scrambled down the stairs– the guy was still kicking in our basement window. I guess he hadn’t noticed all the commotion upstairs.

“Someone’s breaking into my house!” I cried to the operator. I remember at first that I couldn’t remember my address, and that I felt sick because my heard was pounding so fast. I don’t think I’d ever been so scared in my life up until then.

The rest of the events were a blur. My dad found the guy, halfway through the basement window. The burglar went back out though, before my dad could take his leg off. I didn’t see this part, but I remember my sister close behind me as I went to the bathroom, and unscrewed the shaft of a broomstick to hold on to as a weapon.

My dad practically ripped the front door down going through it, but the burglar was nowhere to be seen– he probably jumped the fences in the backyard, and escaped onto the main street. He told my sister and I to come outside, and to get out of the house.

I remember him calming down, and laughing finally. It was winter. We were quite a sight. My topless dad, with his bayonette, and my sister and I, with my broomstick clenched tightly, wearing our slippers in the snow. Can you imagine? A broomstick. It was probably taller than I am.

A few nights ago are different, but the idea is the same. I grabbed my Lego Man dynamoflashlight (which is actually pretty bright), held that in an icepick grip in my left hand. And, from my bedside, grabbed my nunchucks. Yes, to answer your question, I do own nunchucks. Not the foam covered ones or the aluminum ones– mine are made out of oak, weigh about a pound on each end, and have a chain strong enough to hang a man with.

They’re not ideal for fighting someone in closed quarters with, but the trick is that you have to use forward swings. Try to do lateral ones and you’re likely to waste all your energy hacking a chunk of the wall out, or a microwave. But used correctly, forward swings will work. It’s not ideal, but I don’t have any bayonette in my room. In a worst case scenario, I can use them as a throwing distraction (Bas Rutten style) which makes openings for other options.

It wasn’t that I was looking for a confrontation.. this was more about assessing the situation first, and I didn’t want to wake my folks if it turned out to be nothing. So, I slowly went down the staircase, checking all my angles… listening all the way, sweeping the dark first floor with my flashlight. I cleared my throat a bit. If there was someone there, I didn’t want to surprise them.

The thing is, if you think someone’s broken into your house to steal things, then you should probably give them opportunity to leave. You don’t want to fight. That’s rule number one of fighting in the real world. You don’t want to fight unless you’re in a corner. Burglars might not be killers, but burglars carry tools like screwdrivers and crowbars that can kill you. That means, on the flipside of basic street smarts, you don’t back anyone to a corner– if anything, sweep the place in such a way that they have exits. If you corner them, you’re in for trouble.

If they were here to cause us harm, that’s a different story– because that probably means they have the advantage of being prepared to harm you, with tools specific to that purpose, more useful than a set of nunchucks. When I made it down to the first floor, I started turning on some lights, making sure to keep my back to the stairs to bolt back up if necessary, keeping my flashlight hand up to protect my face, and my right hand cocked to swing the chucks. I gathered my courage to be ready to scream like a madman if I encountered anything, both to warn my family and to hopefully shock the intruder. Bathroom clear. Entrance– still closed and locked– no signs of forced entry… no broken windows. More easily, I could feel that there were no drafts, which would be the case if something was still open. So at least if someone had broken in, they were courteous enough to close up behind themselves?

I made my way cautiously to the kitchen, where I counted the knives on the magnetbar. It had been almost a minute since I first heard the crash, so if they had detected movement upstairs, they might have decided to improvise, grabbing something local to defend themselves with if they didnt’ already have something– wouldn’t it be ironic to be assaulted with one’s own kitchenware? All still there. At that point, I swapped my nunchucks for the 8″ chef knife. More suited for the environment. Though most of the first floor was lit at this point, I took my time sweeping the place with my flashlight from a distance before going closer into a room to turn on the lights, to give any intruders a chance to move.

After checking the basement too, turns out that there was nobody. No footprints in the fresh snow out front or out back or around the sides of the house. I couldn’t figure out what had fallen so loudly that it had woken my sister and I up. The next morning though my dad found a bunch of stuff in the closet in the landing had fallen down, which I’d overlooked that.

The thing is, all through this, I don’t remember being scared… I remember thinking almost that it was a game. Isn’t that kinda scary in itself? Maybe videogames have made me desensitized. Martial arts training probably gives me the means of porting those experiences to the real world. But I remember considering things in the usual progression of a game– assess the situation, find some weapons, and then find a problem that needs fixing. Upgrade along the way. Check your angles. Pay attention to your peripherals. Keep your guard up. Have an exit plan. Stay in cover….

It was uneventful, thankfully. My sister was on standby upstairs, also listening for any sounds that she didn’t recognize as my own. Like me, she’s got the home turf advantage.

So, if you were woken up in the middle of the night, what would you do?

Time Machine

When I really think about it, I am in a time machine. It doesn’t go backwards very well, but it is a machine in that the clockwork is just always going.

Is that what being an adult is all about?

Some things are timless, in that, well, sometimes you read a xanga feed for example and you see how someone sounds so much like how they sounded when you first started reading them years ago. Sometimes you see how no matter how much they’ve changed, the more they’ve stayed the same.

On the other hand, sometimes you have no clue what’s going on because time is taking you for a ride!

I think that when time does that, that’s when it’s most fun.

Adult educators have long come to understand that what’s different about adult life and student life mostly has to do with the range of the experiences. What happens when you’re in school is that, although there is the mundanity of going to classes, you’re learning about different and new things all the time. As adults, life is more about getting more money than it is about trying new things– but that’s ironic, because it’s only when we’re adults that we have the power to do the things that we couldn’t when we were kids!

That being said… I think I’m getting back in balance.

The big thing that screwed up my balance was meeting [CM] to be honest. It’s the love. Love throws everything out of whack, it really does. It makes you do crazy things. It makes you care in ways you didn’t know, it makes you hurt in ways you didn’t know– both turned inwards and outwards.

But now that I’m getting used to it (and I thought I was used to it before, I was wrong! and even in saying it now, I’ll probably say it again in the future– you never really get used to love) I feel like things are a bit more managable, and that the ride that time is taking me for is going in a way that makes more sense, and feels better. It just feels better.

I’ve got a full plate on my hands, but it’s been a long time since I felt so focused.

A few days ago, I began applications to law schools. I haven’t fired any off completed yet, but I’ve got most of the forms, and am just getting all my ducks in a row. A few minutes ago I finished writing a reference letter that [Chere] is going to sign on my behalf. Later, I have to finish my personal statement. On monday, I have to go to ConU and have some transcripts sent off to AustraLearn (the agency handling most of my applications).

I’m basically doing a lot of “work” in pursuit of my goals. And… it’s different from working for work. When you’re working for yourself, it feels different. It feels kind of nice– in a strange way, one can feel that they do work for work and that work never cares. But if someone works, for you, doesn’t it feel nice that someone believes that you’re taking this company in the right direction?

Recently, [Zanshin] came back into town for the holidays. That’s no small trip– in from SK. I only got to spend a short time with him, but as he mentioned of his experience– it’s so different to suddenly feel that you are different, that in looking at yourself, you’re more of a man than you used to be.

Doesn’t it feel nice when you realize suddenly, that you’re believing in yourself, that you’re going for bigger and better things?

I don’t know what law school applications will result in. But if anything, the whole “if you give a mouse a cookie” scenario, which all began with me wanting to be with CM in australia, has taught me a lot about life.

The other week, my professor returned grades on my second assignment, and final paper for my first Masters course. My final grade in that class will be a B+ or an A-.

Many of you readers are still in school, so you probably don’t care– but for me, it’s a huge acheivement. I’m someone who did so poorly in college that I was put on academic probation– that means, push that average a little lower and they’ll boot you out. In University? I had such bad relations with some of my teachers that I was twice (wrongly accused) of plagarism, I suspect, just to give me a hard time.

So a B+ or an A- after years, about 4 in fact, of being away from school? Of starting a Masters and then finding… “Oh shit, I just read those 10 pages and didn’t retain anything but the title!”

Yeah, it makes me feel pretty good. And I’m glad that I gave myself a chance. I didn’t think I’d ever care about my grades before, but something about me over the years has changed. Somewhere, including the madness that is life with CM, she’s helped me respark a hope that is no small thing in face of the cynicism and bitchery that I’m known for.

There’s still a lot of stuff to be done… small things though are like Xbox acheivements. They make you feel like you’re making permanent additions to your gamerscore. Things mailing my professor at Athabasca some empty envelopes, which he will put reference letters in and seal… they’re small things. Buying stamps and making a pre-paid envelope feels like such a small thing. But it represents a lot more to me.

It’s the changing of the times.

Recent Media

Resident Evil – Afterlife:
Awful movie. Don’t go near it.

Tron: Legacy:
I give it points for being interesting, although it’s not exactly original. It gets a satisfactory rating at best just because of the visuals, but acting, storyline, and action was all kinda less than I expected.

Going the Distance:
A generic romance that isn’t all that funny. As [CM] points out, it feels as if they try to do too many over the top supporting characters– probably to compensate for what are supposed to be ‘normal,’ relatable normal characters. But overall, the movie wasn’t all that great, and the ending was just… “What…??”

I wonder what’s good to watch out there? It’s been a while since I saw a really good movie.

Hospital Culture

“This kid weighs… like… 57 pounds. Are they nuts?” asked the nurse.
“Which part?” asked the resident impatiently, without looking up from the chart.
“Adolescent femur nails? Look at the size of the kid. We can’t use those on this kid, the nails are bigger than his frikking femur.”
“Well, that’s what’s in the order, I don’t think…”
“Well, Doctor [X], I’m saying– when a kid has a broken femur and you want to put it back together with a nail, you don’t use a nail that’s bigger than his femur. What do you think?”

It’s not that I hate doctors. It’s just that, more than any profession I see at the hospital, they tend to be the one that is populated by the most assholes and idiots, especially the newer residents.

When you’re a resident, you’re new the the hospital. The nurses you are dealing with might not be doctors, but they’ve likely been there for years longer than you– possibly lifetimes longer. So when residents feel that asshole urge to sound smarter than a nurse, they should probably just shut the fuck up, because they’re wrong anyways. Wrong on one hand because sometimes they don’t know what’s going on, and wrong always on another hand because simply, you’re never right to treat a nurse as if you’re smarter than them.

There’s lots of literature on the culture of the medicine– but it boils down to the basic free-for-all culture of liberalism that says that if you have the bigger salary, you’re probably entitled to a bigger opinion or exemption from basic manners.

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If you really asked me to honestly tell you, a hospital is a terrible place to work at. It’s an absoultely thankless job– the only way I survive is because I’m a chronic optimist, despite what you might be lead to believe by my incessant bitching.

The way the system is set up is that it relies on the benevolence and dedication of workers to the idea of healthcare. That is to say, you’re dealing with good people who want to make a difference in the world. However, the system takes advantage of these people to be the glue of an infrastructure that is fundamentally broken. If you just paid people to do their jobs at a hospital, it wouldn’t work.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Overcrowded+patient+death/4059996/story.html

Why is it so broken? Well, because the system is basically throwing money at problems without putting in place effective policies. There’s money to be made in health care– if I really, really didn’t want to work, I could show up at work, work for 1 out of 8 hours of my day, and charge another 4 hours overtime– and I wouldn’t be caught. You’d pay your taxes, I’d get my paycheque. If I was a bad person. Unfortunately for me, I’m not.

The sinistry of our system is that it ruins good caring healthcare professionals– it turns them bad. It offers them poor support or little incentive to cooperate. If it weren’t for the people who are terminally do-gooders, this place would burn to the ground. It would burn to the ground and while it happened, you’d see hospital workers on nearby rooftops all playing their fiddles.

I’m paid bi-weekly, and they failed to pay me the correct amount due on my cheques for the last two cheques. This issue has yet to be resolved. Basically: I work overtime to get stuff done because of short staffing and retarded, circular procedures, and for the last month, the hospital has been withholding money from me because of administrative errors. That’s bullshit. I say without exaggerating that I’m an excellent worker– when there’s work to be done, I do it. I go beyond my job’s mandates. And they can’t even deposit money that’s owed to me?

Last week, my manager cancelled one of my shifts the day before. She didn’t even tell me about it– one of my coworkers sent me a text message to warn me. When I asked my manager why, she basically explained that since I was a part-time employee on-call, she could cut my shifts the same day if she wanted to. Bullshit. I spoke to the union, and according to our collective agreement, that’s not legal, and as a result, I’m entitled to a full day’s pay! The union is taking care of the situation on my behalf at this point.

But that’s what I’m talking about. Now I ask you– if you were in my position– what is the incentive for you to do well at your workplace? Sure– you could say you want to help people. But this isn’t a volunteer organizatin– I’m a professional, and I expect to be paid. If make me jump through hoops, what are the chances that I’ll be the person who will go through that extra 5 minutes of work that helps save someone else 1 hour of work the next day? Where is the culture of enjoying the workplace because it’s a good place to work?

Healthcare in Quebec is suffering massive budget problems– but it’s not just the management. It’s the morale. If leadership fails to inspire and set the pace for a workplace of transparency, cooperation, and forward-mindedness, if we have no unified vision– if, on the contrary, we have opression, disrespect and unprofessionalism– we’re going to waste shitloads of money. Employees will work slower, just to get through their day. Employees will steal. People will not give a fuck unless it becomes directly their problem.

[Zanshin] asked me what I think about Montreal’s plans for the new Superhospital ( http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=39b18411-0a5a-4606-b94b-5cf0bb40a23d ). The Children’s Hospital that I work at is one of the hospitals set for closure and integration into the main campus.

One one hand– the idea of a superhospital, four or five times the size of my hospital, is an impressive idea– but it also reeks of administrative pestilence. Of all the hospitals I’ve worked at, each one has suffered from internal communication failures for non-technological reasons– how much more for if you scaled operations to for a site entire factors bigger?

But I have my fingers crossed. Definitively, I think it’s impossible to overhaul current administrative practices at my hospital. Impossible. Our only chance is to burn the whole system down, and start fresh– which I hope is what will happen with the superhospital.

Keep your fingers crossed– but don’t hold your breath. This is a timeless tale.