Tuesday, October 24, 2006

enough nano already

So today, my phone is off the hook. I’ve done 2 days and 4 nights. I can not do anymore shifts. I deserve a holiday. I’m gonna finish reading my book – today it’s ‘Electric’ by Chad Taylor. To be honest, there’s a lot of stuff that you can do even if you just stay at home. Stuck on the fridge with a “prattling mal-bred miscreant” Shakespearean Insults Magnetic Poetry is the list that I made:

1. Build up my core body strength in time for snowboarding season. Lots of stretching exercises whilst visualizing snowy white pistes of Les Deux Alpes. Very important to hone muscles of stomach and back especially if you are very keen to show off your 360 flips and you fall over a lot. Oh, I can’t wait. Meanwhile, I will just pretend that I am bendable Huck Doll rearing to be opened in time for Christmas.

2. Do some baking. Test drive this simple easy malt bread recipe I got from a backpacker: Mix 8 oz self-raising flour with 2 oz sugar, 2 oz Ovaltine, a bag of mixed dried fruits. Pour mixture in lined 1lb loaf tin and chuck in oven preheated at 350 F. Bake for 45 minutes and voila, a rather tasty and rich grub. Enough calories to keep body primed for a week of peak fitness.

3. Claim the free music codes from Coke that I didn’t manage to do the other day – I have three tracks that I have yet to download from iTunes. These are the tracks I’m thinking of at the moment. I’m still open for suggestions:

a. I am thinking: ‘Under the Bridge’ version of ‘All Saints’. I’m a big fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and I heard this girl band version played in a cool bar last week. I couldn’t convince myself that it is actually cool and would never buy an album from this group in a million years, so I’ll download this crap and see how it goes. It might grow on me.

b. Carpenter’s ‘Superstar’ – I’m not doing this for my Dad who I suspect got this bizarre obsession to get into Karen’s pants. I am actually downloading Sonic Youth’s version from the ‘If I Were A Carpenter’ various artists album. I actually used to have one. My own copy which I originally bought for my father as birthday gift who obviously hated it then eventually ended up in my christmas stocking. The novelty of it faded after a few times of listening pleasure that I finally gave it up to my demented Carpenter freak Chemistry teacher - But now I quite miss that Sonic Youth track, but will not buy the whole album just to let it go through the same humiliation in my hands.

c. The Raven: read by Christopher Walken in that Edgar Allan Poe tribute album. I thought this chap was really cool in ‘Pulp Fiction’- perhaps better than John Travolta or Samuel Jackson who were kind of over the top. I like what he did in that Fat Boy Slim video: ‘Weapon of Choice’. Imagine your own gramps dancing and flying around in a hotel lobby. And he’s not imitating Fred Astaire. He back flips and leaps over tables to a bleeding killer soundtrack. To hear him doing Poe’s most psychologically disturbing poem would be really hardcore.

I’m into ‘Arctic Monkeys’ at the moment but thought: ‘You Probably Couldn’t See For The Lights But You Were Staring Straight At Me’ is rather too long a title for a song to be in a nano. So perhaps, ‘M’ by ‘The Cure’ is more in keeping with the minimalist credo. Or why not ‘Sigur Ros’- strangely titled, actually untitled ‘( )’ album. Yes, just close and open parenthesis. No titles, no track titles and just a blank booklet. If they have actually etched the text in nanoscale using a nano Biro that can only be read using high resolution scanning probe microscope then that would have been a real nanotech album.

If you think about it: there is actually nothing about the ipod nano that is genuine nanotechnology. It is all a marketing strategy. To even speak of size- the ipod is not made in actual nanoscale. In terms of scale, this nano guitar fabricated by a group of geeks at Cornell, would take an atomic force microscope to pluck its strings.

Here is the point of the exercise: it is pointless to listen to - as their vibration is way beyond human hearing.

Nano @ work:
Imagine this drug that we routinely give to patient’s when we put them on a machine that replaces their kidney called “5Z,9α,11α,13E,15S” – naahh, we actually just call it Flolan – it prevents blood from clotting up whilst they are attached to the machine. The actual strength of the molecular formula in 50 milliltres of the solution is 500,000 nanograms. That’s how potent this drug is. To illustrate: your typical Paracetamol tablet is 500 milligrams. 500 milligrams is 500000 micrograms. 500000 micrograms is 500000000 nanograms. We normally give 0.2 nanograms per kilogram of patient’s weight per minute. So let’s say, a patient is 65 kg:

You give 0.2 x 65 x 60 ( 1 minute = 60 seconds )
10,000 ( 500,000 nanograms / 50 millilitres)
= 0.078 millilitres

To be administered through a properly working infusion pump - no more, no less. You miss one zero and you bleed a patient to death or instantly from shock.

A more interesting coup d'oeil of Nano - is from the novel Prey’ by Michael Crichton that I've read recently :

Story revolves around a modern couple. Wife works in a nanotech firm manufacturing nanorobots that will enter the bloodstream to take pictures of diseases or maybe zap cancer cells that eventually evolved into invisible cameras for intelligence to be used by the military. Because the scale of these devices also require nanomanufacturing- they have exploited latest developments in biotechnology and used theories of evolutionary learning and emergent behaviour. Basically, because of the futility of building nanomachines to build these nano robots, bacteria are made to produce chemicals which are then combined with engineered chemicals and attached to another bacterium called ‘assemblers’ to hatch some really fancy small microscopic flying robots with onboard computers and solar power generators and of course, fantastic artificial intelligence that then got really fucked up. So here comes the husband who appears to be an expert entomologist or geneticist of some sort to complicate / solve problems. A bit of love triangle between co –worker and wife ensues to juice up the story. But ultimately the horror began when these smart nanobots that behave like a swarm of insects but were actually bacteria since they are nano version, remember [ ? ] of say, bees or flies, whatever began to attack humans. Lots of screaming, explosions, car chases in the end which probably would be much better left to the cinema. I’m sure it’s going to be a cracking movie. How fiction just seem to be much more interesting than the reality of nanotechnology which is pretty much a part of everyday life now, amuses me.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Just Relax

I'll Take Care of the Squealing, Wretched, Pinhead Puppets of Gotham! *

I’m off today. Actually, I’m off work in the next seven days. Yesh!!! The beauty of working a big chunk of long shifts is that you can have long days off. Doesn’t happen normally especially in the run up to winter when a decent number of staff is needed in the hospital due to a high number of patients, but quite a lot of staff phoned in sick lately that I get to cover their shifts.

Ahhh. Winter & winter blues. More and more people are getting ill. Scientists have always suspected a strong link between heart disease and depression, and if you think about it - a high percentage of illnesses are also psychosomatic or caused by being a little bit on the loopy side: then no wonder that working in the hospital is just becoming a nightmare. Bad weather + depression + stress + loads of cigarettes + lots of ambulance people bringing in inanimate bodies + lots of work for nurses = lots of sick nurses and even lots of fainéant staff feigning sickness. Here’s the top 5 this month:

1. Asthma – Allergic reaction to the cold weather obviously. Also it doesn’t help if you smoke like a chimney.

2. Getting a divorce – For some reason, it is becoming trendy. Stress and depression tears a loving couple apart? And bizarrely, we appear to share this same issue with cold weather animals like the penguins.

3. Seasonal Affective Disorder – I’m not going to elaborate on the subject as I actually wrote something about it recently here.

4. Death of a cat – Unbelievable but true, I would understand it coming from someone who is probably autistic and derive all form of social contact from a rather stinky animal. Cute but otherwise not a good excuse for skiving.

5. Flare up of Gout – Usually attacks the joints of your foot. Extremely painful. Caused by extremely elevated uric acid in the blood from consuming rich food like anchovies, consommé, cheeses and lots of red wine. I should know, because I had it quite recently - but when all of a sudden everybody’s got one it becomes quite faux pas. To a colleague who I strongly suspect is just faking it: “There’s actually a lot of ailments in the planet. You can’t speak Latin, so obviously, if somebody says: "numquam poetor nisi podager" which translates to “I never write poetry unless I am suffering from gout", you haven’t got a clue. So pick another disease, will you?”

* Taken from a line by 'The Penguin' in Batman Returns ( 1992 )

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

I See Red

I was happily sipping my ‘fair trade’ brewed coffee when I walked past the beverage counter and found: Diet Coke – * free songs on iTunes with this pack. I did a double take and whoa - grabbed one from the fridge. The thing with labels that are often preceded by an asterisk symbol is that they always have a nasty small print at the bottom – the catch. Once they managed to charm you with their twirly bold text that promise other worldly consumer item other than the rubbish that you are actually consuming, comes the actual terms of acquisition of the said consumer product: normally it would ask you to cough up more cash which defeats the meaning of the word ‘free’ they like to stick on their merchandise to boost sale.

You know what they’re like: all marketers are liars and all companies regardless what their company logo or names appear ie: LibEyes, Proctor & Gambler, Tammie Bleeding He'llFigure whatever, Jewish, Christian, Islam – they are all heathen: meaning not acknowledging your own God - kind of liars. Anyway, this one is easy. What Coke only wants is a valid email address. Offer limited to residents of Great Britain and access to specified hardware and software to use iTunes.

So that in the course of the three days I was working and eating rubbish food at the hospital cafeteria, I managed to accumulate three ‘stickies’ with song codes I could use to download music and fill up my thirsty ipod. Then the realization:

Hell. I’m feeding the ipod instead of myself and pumping my nervous system with enough aspartame [ artificial sweetener ] to bugger my brain in making complex processes that logic demands. Got to wake up and smell my own ‘fair trade’ coffee and make another poor peasant somewhere in the planet a peanut richer and wonder:

1. Does buying free trade actually make a difference to third world farmers? Same us having a Red American Express Card help eradicate Africa of Aids?

2. Or is it just another marketing tool to fuel consumerism?

Amex UK

Suddenly, my tummy felt queasy.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

I had cappuccino and hummed my favourite song by Joe Jackson:

No caffeine, No protein, No booze or Nicotine
Don't work hard, Don't play hard, Don't plan for the graveyard
Everything, Everything gives you cancer
There's no cure, there's no answer.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Stonehenge & A Case of Humour Bypass

“Personally, I would call the climate around the end of September the middle of autumn. Although, I should say it is a tad bit nippy for early October this year, Isn’t it?”

I overheard consultant of surgical team giving a small lecture to one of his senior house officer about the weather after the rather boring mundane daily rounds of checking wound drains and stomas that take forever to work. I mentioned to him that this particular one is still rather dusky and not the usual pinkish colour I’m normally accustomed to.

Stomas are formed after a colostomy or ileostomy - depending on which part of the intestine the surgeon thought best to create an opening or a bypass for the patient’s faeces to come out. Best graphic way to put it:

[ I suggest for those of the slightly squeamish kind to look away from the monitor. ]

Normally happens when it is no longer possible for crap to come out of the ass hole.

Stoma is just a fancy Latin or Greek term geeks in the hospital like to use to sound important or mysterious for the ‘mouth’ or the opening. Funny to think that no matter how medical science has progressed medical people still cling to good old classical language.

“Give it another day or so… I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work.” Charles the house officer croaked whilst I was showing him a few millilitres of the serousy stuff that I managed to drain off the colostomy bag. He was not showing any particular notice how dusky looking this stoma is. Charming, and obviously not bothered.

“Isn’t it chilly and foggy this morning? Driving down the M20 is horrendous.”

Big brain surgeon said, “It’s the Autumnal Equinox my dear, the time of year when the sun god Apollo crosses the celestial equator from up north down to the south. Marks the beginning of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere..” Proving yet again that not only he is a smashing surgeon but also a brilliant Astrophysicist.

“Doesn’t help that you live in England”, I said.

The Autumnal Equinox signals the end of the summer months and the beginning of winter. At this time of the year, days have been shortening since the Summer Solstice some three months earlier, and the Equinox is the point where nights reach the same length as days.

Sister Rebecca in her poetic best, added: “Oh yes, the Chariot of Fire traversing the skies. We have been following the cycles of the sun for millennia.”

Of which surgeon said,” that is utterly bonkers, Sister.”

“Oh yeah? Have you been to the Stonehenge Doctor..? Stone circles are scattered all over the British Isles and they date back more than three thousand years.”
Junior Doc quipped, “Isn’t that where naked women prance about on a full moon once in a year?”
“Of course, not. They are aligned to the Solstices and Equinoxes using a standard unit of calculation that was so precise; the central value can be measured to accuracy in less than a hundred nanometres.”
“Are you trying to tell us that the metric system might as well be invented by Stone Age Brits way before Saxon peasants knew about the English system? The French won’t be happy with you Sister,” said the surgeon whilst everyone sniggered.
“Very funny. Well, if you men think that Neanderthals like you are, travelled a smooth evolutionary journey from stupid cavemen to sophisticated metrosexual: You better keep an open mind. The world is not what you think it is.”
Then someone said: “Oh yeah, and the advent of a nip in the air is what they say when they hang a Japanese criminal.”
Oh, be very careful with what you say. Big Brother is watching.

Nip in the air were the words from a local vicar who, musing on the change of seasons wrote in his column and was forced to apologise after being branded a racist. Nip by the way, is a shortened form of the Japanese name for Japan. [ BBC News ]

What has happened to the British sense of humour?

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Above Us Only Skies...

There is nothing more precarious than having to deal with good old religion when caring for a terminally ill patient. Not only you have to make sure that you are adept with whatever quirks and oddities these religious nuts have, but as a Nurse you have to ensure that you remain sensitive to their cultural needs as well. It is very, very frustrating, but it’s part of the job. Since I have worked in a few other countries prior to coming over here in England, I know what some of them are like. Although most are quite sensible, they have needs that often breach “unit policies”. Some cultures are very, very closely knit as families which I guess is a good thing, but they will overcrowd the bedspace no matter how you tell them that you can only have two relatives at a time. Okay, sometimes you can understand the grief that these families are bearing and you can be a bit flexible, but oftentimes you just find their behaviour quite challenging:

“Hey! Did you buzz before before you bust your ass in here..?”

There is actually a doorbell outside that has a huge sign in English that says: Ring the bell and wait for the Nurse to take you inside.” It is quite understandable if you are dealing with older people who perhaps couldn’t see properly or may have language issues, but not with obstreperous girls and boys who just don’t care about anything whether they know how to read or write.

“And hey! No flowers, please. They got little bugs in them that we don’t need more than what we already have in here.”

Moslems may request a special food that may have been ritualistically slaughtered in whatever manner their religion called for, and may ask for it to be placed in a location that does not necessarily conform to unit policy on infection control, but cultural sensibility is tops- so you can perhaps, let them get away with it. Make sure there is no newspaper lying round the bed with cartoons of Mohammed in it. They also get ‘arsey’ when they find little specks of blood on the bed, but this time they can keep their anal behaviour with them and shut it because you can’t be bothered to change the bed sheet every time you take blood gases. You stick to your priority: Save the patient by keeping him breathing and the planet by conserving energy and reducing laundry detergent use.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses will get barmy if you give them blood even if they will die bleeding. Imagine this: A man is dying of bleeding from a perforated duodenal ulcer, but the family is refusing a much needed blood transfusion. Jehovah's Witnesses believe blood is sacred, representing life, and the Bible tells them to abstain from blood. Some artificial blood products may be permissible but never natural human blood or its byproducts. I know this is quite painful to watch, but to be a culturally competent care provider means recognizing that patients have a right to make this choice. So you’re faced with the dilemma whether to save their life or their soul. Okay then, save their soul.

It’s the added pressure of having to deal with self-righteous, over zealous and raving evangelists that makes saving lives much, much more difficult that it is quite a refreshing break to find a simple good natured atheist on a deathbed. He was admitted following a bowel operation and was extubated the next day. Because of his cancer that has already spread to his lungs and kidneys, the Doctors decided not to re-intubate him in case he deteriorates. He was told of the poor prognosis and he was pretty much happy with the plan for his care and even refused to be resuscitated. “I’m not scared to die”, he said. I noticed that he had loads of books with Jedi Knights on them and a copy of HG Wells: War of the Worlds, so I asked him:

“Do you believe in aliens?”

He said, “Not really”, then added, “Same as I don’t believe in an all powerful being who demands to be loved and adored by his people unconditionally, then punishes them according to his whims and fancy.” He asked me if I go to church, and I told him sometimes, because I’m Roman Catholic.

Then he said: “Pardon my irreverence, but do you believe in God?”

I told him, “If you mean God that punishes according to his whims and fancy, then maybe I’m an atheist, but non-belief doesn’t stop me from being a good Catholic.” So he laughed hysterically, and told me it’s the funniest thing he ever heard.

The patient died the next day and I was told his family was very angry that a Nurse asked for a Catholic priest to do last rites for him. I learnt that this Nurse thought he was doing good service by providing spiritual care even if he didn’t know what the patient’s religion is, which I thought is very insensitive. There should be a commandment that says:

Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself!

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Hello, Darkness

I woke up to a really dark morning today. I have to remember that the clocks will go an hour back again this month as British summer time is drawing to a close. Why we move the clocks backward is still beyond me, but I was told it is supposed to save daylight in winter evenings – but working twelve hours in a day doesn’t really make any difference. You go to work early morning when it’s really dark and come home in the evening when it’s surprise, surprise – daylight saving time or not, really dark. Worse, you will find that it probably rained most of the day as well.

If you find yourself eating lots of carbohydrates, generally miserable and becoming more and more antisocial, you probably is SAD – suffering from a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus due to shortening of daylight hours and the lack of sunlight during winter otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

So, I sorted out my wardrobe: Off the loft went my T-shirts, my sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, and assortment of sunglasses, visors, baseball caps and everything that looks bright. Down came the biker jacket, woolly sweats, trench coat and that mean black Doc Marten boots. Good bye to brightly coloured 80’s preppie slash nerd look and say hello to blood sucking Lord Byron.

you can click on image to enlarge view

I’m surprised to find out how much rubbish I have accumulated. Did I actually wear these clothes? No.

Then I read this: Shopaholics are almost as likely to be men as they are women, according to a study published by psychologists today. [ Guardian Unlimited ] And eat your heart out, this: Freud thinks men are anal-erotic. Freud represents the ‘anal character’ by the image of a man who, like the devil, is given to hoarding, sadism and pedantry, and who, like the devil, is a secret lover of excrement. [ Freud Satan and the Serpent ] I dread the day when The Devil Wears Prada opens in UK cinemas on Thursday. Sick.

sunglasses. mud flows like river. along with industrial waste. ashes falling from the bleak sky. the prey is seen lying on the surface. with debris, tissue paper & matchsticks. fleas flocked to feast on the refuse. the parasites viscerous craving thrived on the flesh. their blood: slime tinged- the colour of money. their fat-bellied camouflaged aid. serve the compulsion to suck. from the sallowed cadaver of the victims

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