Tempus Fugit

Time Flies…

   Apr 10

Forty-Four Days

A significant hiatus since posting last.

Maybe time to resurrect Tempus Fugit for a while.

Forty-four days until the vivas – don’t even know if I will be invited to sit them.  My performance in the writtens could have been so bad that I don’t.

I honestly don’t know.

 

What I am finding difficult though is maintaining concentration for any more than a brief period of time.

I blame (anti)social media.

I’ve become dependent on social media and a constant connection to the internet in the last few years so much so that my previously idle time (eg on a bus, waiting to be picked up, in a boring meeting) is now taken up with a quick check of the iPhone ….to check email….to tweet….to facebook….to play a move on words with friends….

I can’t recall what I did with this time previously … but when I have a phone battery go flat or I disastrously leave my phone at home or something like that I feel naked and disconnected with the world.

Which gets me back to this study business.  Every time I sit down at my computer…. I get distracted by the constant stream of information/communication and find I can’t focus for too long on studying.  The problem is: How can I effectively study?  All of the articles I need to read are online.  Everywhere I go I have connectivity.  I don’t want to print out reams of paper.

Bring back the good old days where there wasn’t so much distraction and my idle time could be spent using my brain for creative means.


   Dec 25

RTW 08/09 Part IV – Europe

London – Day One
Eventually boarded a flight to London around 0130. Arrived lunchtime.

Was supposed to catch up and spend the day with Big G who’d taken a day off work. Caught up in the afternoon – better late than never.

Staying at the usual … Palmer’s lodge at Swiss Cottage. Amazingly cheap for what they provide.

Wandered through a rather pathetic “Christmas Market” and drank mulled wine. Went to the portrait gallery.

Big G and I caught the Tube to Clapham Junction and caught up with Fashionably-Sized-T (Mrs Big G) [note: Big G has no reference to physical size...rather, a historical reference from years ago...] and Klaus (a Danish import). Several pints later, I managed to catch the very last Tube back to Swiss Cottage.

London – Day Two
A relaxing sleep in – although I did manage to get up in time for the free continental brekky. Was rather non-plussed by the big green pennicillinesque mold spore that I saw on my toast. Needless to say I refrained from consuming that particular piece.

A leisurely Tube ride to Bond Street and a rendezvous with the Swiss connection (otherwise known as Chris and his friendly woman-folk, Anjum). Was great to catch up again – in spite of Chris doing his best impression of a viral incubator and disseminator.

London at this time of the year is a mad-house. GFC notwithstanding, every man and his dog was out buying stuff. Anjum was of great assistance in helping me locate a Christmas present for Mum. The day was replete after a leisurely dinner at another pub and another Christmas ale.

London/Milan
Why on earth do I even contemplate early flights? Especially when the airport is three million miles away and I’m reliant on pubic (sic) transport? To boot, I was somehow erroneously convinced of the fact my flight to Milan left Gatwick at 0830. It was only when I arrived at Victoria station that I was shocked to discover my flight left at 0715. On the train out to the airport I was convinced I had missed the check in time for my flight and had resigned myself to being homeless somewhere in the UK on Christmas day.

Somehow though, in spite of the Christmas airport madhouse and the train arriving two minutes before the luggage check-in cut-off, I was able to skip the queues, check my luggage in and catch my EasyJet flight.

Masterfully conquering Milan’s train network with not much more than “mi scusi” and “grazi”, I made it to my hotel…if you could call a single rickety bed in a tiny room a hotel. Still, it was cheap.

Afternoon power-nap.

Met Mik for dinner. Saw the Duomo (impressive). Ate dinner near the canals. Quite foggy. Great atmosphere.

Milan –> Florence
One thing that can be said for cheap and nasty hotel….it made awesome coffee. I should have expected no less being Italy I suppose, but it came as a pleasant surprise.
Early train to Florence. Old European train stations fascinate me architecturally. SMN Florence stazione is very art deco.

Mik and I found hotel. Wandered around. Had a coffee in a very eclectic little store that I swear could easily have doubled for the lounge room of one of my great aunts. It was packed full of delicious sweet morsels and hideously kitsch trinkets.

Mum arrived. Wandered around town. Had dinner in a little restaurant near the Duomo. Slept.

Oh yeah….forgot. It was Christmas Day today too. For whatever that’s worth. Merry Bah-Humbug.


   Dec 22

RTW08/09 Part III – More From The Big Apple

Day 4

Actually the last day of the PGA. Not overly interested in sessions.
Went to Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some interesting stuff but a little disappointing. Not actually the sort of art that I am interested in.

Sculpture terrace was very cool. Was made even more enchanting by the fact that I was standing there taking in the sculptures and Central Park out the window beyond the terrace and all of a sudden it starts snowing.

I’ve been to NYC three times and this is the first time it’s snowed. Big fat snowflakes.

Sore feet by the time I’d traipsed around all of the museum. Walked to Times Square, was freezing cold so decided I wasn’t going to stand around in the TKTS line.

Went back to East Village. Booked a ticket to “In The Heights” the latest Tony Award winning musical. Ate dinner and wandered back uptown. By this time it’s well and truly snowing. The snow was pretty cool to start with – and then it melted on my jacket and things just got cold.

Musical was pretty good. I was sitting almost in the gods….but I guess that’s what you get for buying cheaparse tickets. Still, the music was quite catchy. There were a few earworms slithering around my head afterwards.

Day 5

A somewhat cold freezing cold day even if I do say so myself. Slept in (deliberately) and then wandered around the East Village. There was a funky cafe that I’d seen in my previous wanderings that I wanted to check out. I eventually found it on East 9th St – Mud. Cosy. Great ambience. Best coffee in New York in my opinion (given my limited exposure to to coffee shops in NYC). Delicious breakfast.

Feeling upbeat (and zinging) after two large, strong lattes, I went shopping in SoHo and then wandered uptown to MoMA. Ironically, when I was in NYC the first time, I declined to goto MoMA on the grounds it didn’t interest me…to the point of sitting outside whilst others went in and explored. This time, I would rate it as one of the highlights of my RTW trip. I spent all afternoon there and probably could have spent longer had it not been closing time. Quite a stimulating afternoon.

Subway back to the East Village. Wandered past a funky cafe called Karen’s on Astor. Quasi-organic I guess you could call it. Food there certainly hit the spot – more protein, less processed carbs (processed carbs seems to be the norm in the US).

Went to Equus at the Broadhurst Theatre. I had a seat in the on-stage seating.
I was suitably impressed. The stage had been done up such that it was like one of those old operating theatres…or forums….where there are two rows of seating above the centre, circular space where all the action happens. Artistically it was almost like gods observing silently and passing judgement.

The performance was a slightly different interpretation to the one I was in. It was quite effective although I would say, budgetry differences aside, our local Brisbane performance certainly stands up well against it.

Day 6

Up at a sparrow’s fart.

Bus to Boston. Slept most of the way. Free WiFi on the bus which was good to pass the time I was awake.

Met Xav at the station in Boston. We wandered around Boston and Cambridge – including visiting Harvard. Had a noteable cup of coffee in Harvard Square.

I stayed at the HI in Back Bay. Was rather unimpressed at the cleanliness. The room I was in honestly smelt like it hadn’t had any fresh air in years. There was layer upon layer of odours. The predominant smell was that of musty stale starchy bodily secretions. Was not particularly pleasant. Fortunately I was sleeping next to the window and in spite of the bitter cold, I was able to prop the window open a centimetre or two to allow at least a smidgeon of fresh air to permeate the thick and putrid atmosphere.

Day 7

Met Xav and his mate Leo – who lives in Boston and is doing funky Bioinformatics at MIT and an MPH at Harvard. Toured Harvard Med School and the hospital complex near by (House of God territory).

Had lunch in Chinatown. Very full. Just as well…

… went to South Station to catch bus back to NYC. As I entered station, it was just starting to snow. Bus was overbooked. About five people after me got a seat on bus. By the time the bus left the station we were in a blizzard with snow everywhere. Trip back to NYC was at a slow pace (~60km/hr) meaning a 4.5 hour trip became a 7.5 hour trip. To boot, free WiFi wasn’t working and toilet was overflowing. I read and finished Chocolat.

Bitterly cold when arrived in NYC. Amazingly beautiful with snow covering the city. Slippery.

Day 8

Again up at a sparrow’s fart.

NYSORA Regional Symposium – again at Marriott in Times Square.
Far more interesting and useful than the PGA. Learnt quite a bit.

Went wandering in the evening. Finally made it to Strand Books. Amazing. 18 miles of books. I could have spent days looking through the piles of new and used manuscripts. Made a few purchases.

Went to Mud for dinner.

Dropped into funky hat shop “The Village Scandal” which is nearby to where I’m staying and tried on a million different hats. Got a funky suede paperboy cap.

Day 9

Ultrasound guided regional anaesthesia workshop this morning. In spite of feeling a tad cross-eyed from staring at grainy US images on screens all morning I feel inspired and empowered to go forth and learn me some regional anaesthesia. Made me realise how much anatomy I don’t know though.

Afternoon wandering around town in and out of stores. Didn’t buy anything. Sun came out and shone on the icy streets in the afternoon. Quite picture-sque with the steam rising out of the subway vents and the reflections off the ice and the buildings in shadow.

Took subway to JFK. Far quicker option than Super Shuttle me thinks. Took only about an hour from the East Village to JFK as opposed to the two-and-a-half it took last time.

Nothing worth buying in duty free.

Discovered a tasty beer – Brooklyn Brown Ale – in the Admiral’s club (American Airlines equivalent of the QANTAS Club).

Flight to London delayed. Was due to leave at 2135. Now 2300hrs with a departure time predicted at 0020hrs.

C’est la vie.


   Dec 16

RTW08/09 Part II – NYC

Vancouver –> NYC/ NYC Day 1
Cathay Pacific is not a bad airline. Food was tolerable. Flight was half empty. I had a full exit row to myself. Consequently slept. Arrived JFK 0600.
Bitterly cold. Well…. minus 5C so not really but for me it was. Thank goodness for layers.
Decided it was more convenient to take a Super Shuttle to accommodation rather than the subway. Ha. An hour of circling JFK terminals picking people up, then the ruddy driver couldn’t find 7th St where I wanted to be dropped. Drove around and around in circles until the other passengers got so pissed off that they gave him directions using the GPS on their phones.
Hostel is right in the East Village. Very nice. Clean. Cheap. Awesome location. Beats the crap out of other places I’ve stayed in NYC.
Caught the subway to Times Square where my conference was. Interesting topics. Lots of the speakers were pre-eminent in the field of anesthesiology – many being editors of textbooks or journals. Some interesting topics.
Dozed off in afternoon sessions.
Skipped the last session to catch up with Xav (one of the locums from Rocky).
We both went wandering around the financial district – saw NYSE and Ground Zero. Was miffed at the need to take happy snaps at Ground Zero but…to each their own I guess.
Got lost on the subway getting to SoHo as some stations closed and some trains are express. Arrived late in SoHo but worth it in the end. Went to a funky restaurant called Frankies Sputtino. Met some locals who were friends of Xav’s. We all went to a bar called Lulus after.
Walked home. Slept soundly.

NYC Day 2
Slept in. Oh well. Interesting sessions in afternoon.
Stood in TKTS line and got a ticket to Spring Awakening at the Eugene O’Neill Theater.
Not a decent cup of coffee in sight all day. Sugar overload from Starbucks (cringe) hot chocolates. Spring Awakening was a pretty good show I’d have to say. I was impressed with many aspects including the staging, lighting and set. Very effective. Some of the actors seemed to be losing their voices but oh well.

NYC Day 3
Fark. Slept in. Missed TOE workshop. Oops. Oh well. Just annoyed because I could have spent the money on other things. Got up in time to have bagel/muffin/cornflakes (free) breakfast at hostel. Flaked out on bed again after feeling like ratshit. Slept. Through several alarms. Managed to stumble uptown to conference in afternoon. Worked out the reason I was feeling so ratshit was the processed high carb high GI diet that seems to be the norm here. Sugar highs followed by sugar lows. Ate. Felt better. Attended afternoon sessions of conference. Some interesting topics that make me wonder about the future of anaesthetics. Attended a lecture on electronics in anesthesiology put on by one of the equipment companies….supposedly a free dinner…..pretty lacklustre offerings….content of lecture was worthwhile though. Wandered down to SoHo, had a look around at a few places. Booked a ticket to Boston for Thursday. Ate a slice of mushroom and broccoli pizza….rather bland…but at least it’s some protein and some vegetables. Earlyish to bed in the vain hope I get up at a reasonable hour tomorrow.

Here endeth part II


   Dec 13

RTW08/09 Part I

Greetings from Vancouver airport.

Brisbane –> Sydney
Flight delayed an hour. Would have missed international connection had it not also been delayed.

Sydney –> Honolulu
Remarkably an exit row == lots of leg room
Minimal sleep (if any)
Studied. Actually studied. Amazing but true.

Honolulu
Hot. Humid. Check in counters outdoors (go figure).
Check in counters for American Airlines don’t open for three hours after arrival meaning a three hour wait in the humid heat with luggage (thank goodness for bathroom breaks pre-luggage collection).
Luggage now radioactive due to obscene amount of X-Raying (three times in Honolulu alone).
QANTAS Club uninspiring – free two-minute noodles. At least I got an exit row on flight to LA….

Honolulu –> LAX
Delightful lady in QANTAS Club/American Airlines Lounge takes one look at my boarding pass and clucks and tut-tuts muttering something about how dastardly it was I had been given a middle seat.
Boarding pass summarily destroyed and reissued with an exit row seat. Thank goodness is all I can say…..TOTALLY packed flight. I swear a sardine can would be more spacious.
Slept.
Airport Hotel at LAX expensive but worth the shower.

LAX –> Vancouver
Four hours sleep. Bed very comfortable. Up at a sparrow’s fart to get through the myriad of hurdles that is LAX. Remarkably, am checked in, patted down, through security and vacuumed for explosive residue in the space of ten minutes. Almost unheard of at LAX. Three hour wait to board flight as had allowed lots of time to get through check-in process.
Half empty flight. Seats to myself. Nice view.

Vancouver –> Whistler
Nice bus ride.
Stupid pubic (sic) phone not accepting credit cards.
Made use of global roaming on mobile….suspect I now owe Three my first-born son after thirty second call.
Very comfortable couch to sleep on. Mark and Robbie very laid back. Kawana (the dog) very friendly.
Much beer consumed at GLC (Garibaldi Lift Co) at Whistler Village.

Whistler Day One
Slept like a log. Woke early. Buggered if I know why, given the minimal sleep over last 36 hours and the fact Whistler is 6 hours ahead (yesterday). Jetlag less of a problem these days having become used to it as a shift-worker.
Snow conditions less than desirable.
Village very pretty. Coffee rather shite. Banana bread moorish.
First snowboarding lesson…interminable in the AM….I should have gone up a level. Felt like slitting wrists waiting for other class-members. By lunch, a 50% attrition rate. By mid afternoon, I was the only person left in the class….which actually turned out to be good – one-on-one tutoring for the price of a regular lesson. Slightly made up for the morning. Instructor an Aussie. Whistler seems to be the Canadian capital of Australia. Aussies everywhere.

Whistler Day Two
Second snowboarding lesson (made good because there was 15cm of snow overnight). Only one other person in class and relatively at my level. Much improved. Much more confidence hurtling down hill.
Miserable conditions in terms of wind and fog, but given it was snowing, I wasn’t complaining. Dinner at a pub in town that makes great steak sangers (if you know to ask for them as they’re not on the menu). Watched the ice-hockey and asked lots of questions.

Whistler Day Three
Third snowboarding lesson. Two others in class. Both poms. Both reasonable. Same instructor as day one and two. Further improvement. Not quite at level 4 (but I blame it on the shit conditions). Dinner at a funky Tapas bar called 21 steps. Good food. Good company.

Whistler Day Four
NO snow overnight. Icy as all buggery. Did one run and cracked the shits. Beautiful views all the way down to the village. Took a few photos. Went back down the mountain and spent the day searching for a decent coffee – settling for free internet and average coffee. Saw luge track.

Whistler Day Five
FARK. 10cm of snow overnight. Snowing in the village. FUCKING TYPICAL that it’s my last day here and if finally decides to snow. Went up mountain. Five great runs in. Snow closest to powder I’ve seen. Was feeling really good by end of morning as I was able to get comfortably down runs at speed without falling over. Peak-2-Peak opened this morning. Took ride over to Blackcomb. Thank goodness for fog as I would have vertigo otherwise. Back down mountain. Packed bag. Caught bus to Vancouver International Airport.

Here endeth part I.


   Sep 09

Incredible

I’m not sure how or why, but I passed.

The Pharmacology portion of the Part I is mine – done and dusted.

Incredible, unbelievable and yet true – they passed me.

As a colleague said “I’m dissapointed at the standard they’re letting through these days”.

What does this mean? Well, another exam in Feb, that’s a given, however it will just be one part not two of that dratted part I.

Very cool.


   Aug 14

Commiser-brations

Always a fan of neologisms…..

Commiser-brations ….. simultaneously experiencing commiserations and celebrations (perhaps synonymous with Bittersweet??)

So… I got a pharm viva. I didn’t get a phys viva.

Well, I didn’t exactly do anything for phys so why should I expect to.

But then… on another level, I didn’t exactly put the effort in to studying pharm….so that means I have to do a crapload of work in the next three weeks to stop me looking like a dolt in front of two examiners in Melbourne….another reason to comiserate…. so really it’s a celebration that I didn’t get a phys viva because I would have crashed and burned big time.

Such paradox and conflict.


   Aug 12

The In Between Bit

So here I am in the middle. Not rock bottom and not over the moon. Far from the beginning but a long way to go before the finish line.

Any day now viva invitations and or rejections are in the post. Which means hopefully soon enough I’ll be able to know if I’ve been able to command a miracle and scrape over the line for an invite (in which case maybe the fear will motivate some more study) or be relegated back to square two to revise again and again to attempt another go at the dreaded written exams in February.

Time will tell.


   Jul 24

Exam Musings

Better than expected. Not as good as I would have liked. Far too close to call.

Ironically most of the MCQs and in fact some SAQs I was able to answer were from the “half a textbook” I read the night before the exam.

A surreal experience not to have an exam imminently looming. I can’t use the “I need to study” excuse not to do things now. Not that that excuse meant that study was done when the excuse was instigated.

Paradoxically the fear of failure paralyses the ability to study – thereby increasing the chance of failure.

I heard a quote last night that I wish I had heard when I needed to be studying…..

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.
—Lance Armstrong

I will be sure to remind myself of this when next I am swotting.


   Jul 04

A Long Day

There’s something about the smell of Jet-A1 fuel that sets the senses on fire and sparks the imagination. Now before getting carried away don’t for a moment think I’m espousing the virtues of fuel-sniffing. The sense of smell is perhaps on of the most primal of the five senses….and it is a powerful thing. Through association, the mere hint of scent can evoke a memory or an experience before we’ve even consciously acknowledged the presence of a smell.

Bleary-eyed and still half asleep in the cab to the airport, the scent of Jet-A1 transformed me from grunting sloth to elated and hyperactive meerkat at the sudden anticipation of an impending flight.

Sometimes I think that often the travel part of a trip is almost more interesting than the destination. Especially when that destination involves sitting in meetings for an entire day.

Today was no exception – partially due to the fact I had not slept overnight (why pack the day before when you can leave it to absolutely positively the last minute). I was already feeling slightly ready for bed by the time I arrived in Melbourne on the first flight of the morning. Alas there was no sleep to be had.

A day of meetings dragged on. I was amused at how inefficient the discussions were – which is to say, if I was chairing the meeting, it would have finished much sooner.

Dinner went a long way to consoling my fatigue. Melbourne’s “The Wine Room” on Fitzroy St St Kilda was the venue of our junket dinner and certainly provided a the taste buds with an epicurean adventure….

Note to self….carpacio == raw meat

Finally the long day ended, some 30 hours after it started when I made it to my hotel room. I was amused to note that the hotel in question actually has a “pillow menu” offering a selection of different types of pillow for the discerning pillow connoisseur. I was too tired to care….if only I’d booked a wake up call…

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