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November 18, 2008


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The gym I go to has monitors hanging from various points of the ceiling, and on which they play music videos. That's probably to distract us from the groaning and straining and sweating that we inflict upon ourselves. Something tells me that they'll never air anything by Amateur Transplant.

A friend of mine who is a nurse is a big Amateur Transplants fan. They're rereleasing London Underground for charity and trying to get it to chart so it'll be on the radio (or something like that) which may be why people are sending their stuff all around the internet again.

I can't see "London Underground" being played on the radio in the U.S. Not with that kind of language. Different standards in the U.K.?

That's kind of fabulously appropriate, as I was the anesthetist for Junior Surgery yesterday. I did indeed write stuff down and listen to the machine go beep. We couldn't have the radio on during surgery, though, so instead of changing music, I had to keep myself occupied by occasionally singing.

And no white stuff was needed, but I knew what drug they were talking about, so felt all special.

So there you have it - my second geeky vet moment of the hour. (First was about 10 minutes ago when I saw my new kitten's retinal blood vessels with my naked eye. So cool!)

(Keira is the same person who segues in email from "look at this cool dance I found" to "I just spayed my kitten" with equal enthusiasm for both terpsichorean and surgical pastimes.) So what is the white stuff? I can't be the only person whose first thought was "cocaine!" and whose second thought was "no, wait, that can't be right..." One too many times dancing around the room to "Cocaine Lil," apparently.

They just turned down my request to watch an autopsy for reasons of personal psychological development. Fooey. Can anyone come up with a reason to let me watch an autopsy that would sound okay if you read about it in the newspaper? It was suggested that I go with watching med student dissections instead, as those bodies (being preserved)* look less like people and presumably are less prone to having sensitive family members who don't want stray employees working out their personal issues by watching their relatives be cut up.

*The bodies in question are dissected by med students, not the bodies of med students, in case that wasn't clear. Med students are not well preserved at all and tend to look frenetic and exhausted and very young in their white coats.

White stuff = propofol. It's a fast-acting IV sedative.

Could you spin an autopsy observation as being work-related?

That's how I tried to spin it. It didn't fly, possibly because it followed directly upon my giving notice that I was leaving my job. :)

(I don't think it would have flown before that, either, and I'm not entirely sorry to get turned down. But I figured I had to ask.)

Here's what Amateur Transplant say on Facebook:

EDIT: London Underground is Number 1 in the iTunes Comedy Chart!

And it has already made it into the iTunes Top 100!

Please blog it, forward it, do what you have to to spread the word!

Let's see how high we can get the song in the charts!

If enough copies of "London Underground" are sold on iTunes this week, it will get into the Top 40 and they'll have to play it on the radio! Imagine that!

In all seriousness, it won't get played, or if it did, it would have to be a radio edit, which would be quite funny in itself.

You quit? Tell!

I can't have general anesthesia again unless I'll definitely die without the surgery, and we found out a few years back that Versad doesn't work on me. I'm awake the whole time and remember everything. The big problem with the anestheologist that time was that he insisted on trying to start the IV in my hands and wouldn't go for the good anicubital vein until he'd blown three hand veins. Considering that, for the most recent surgery (removal of what we thought would be a gout tophus attached to a nerve sheath but turned out to be a benign lipoma attached, etc.), I just got a block. The surgeon told me to stop being funny because she was doing serious things.

I quit my immediate job. I am taking another position with the same subentity of the overall entity, just in a different department of the subentity. I move across the street, same pay, bigger office, slightly better job, significantly more limited opportunities for office politics, and better chances for advancement should I fail to Quit My Day Job and go teach dance for a living. I'm not transitioning until the new year, but I bit the bullet today and told my boss and announced it to everyone. This whole resigning thing is surprisingly time-consuming.

I don't love them enough to promote that song for them, since I like these other two songs better. But I'm happy to have helped increase their fame ever so slightly.

Ah, so a movement within the company, better to prepare your departure.

It probably locks me into a day job for at least another 2.5 years or so, since I don't wish to look flaky by changing jobs too often. (I'm barely making it to three years at the current one.) But if I must have a day job, there's no entity I'd rather work for. The benefits are gold-plated, the pay is decent, it comes with major-league library privileges, and I can walk to work. I just have to keep switching jobs so as not to get bored. Fortunately there are gazillions of jobs here.

Susan... I am taking another position with the same subentity of the overall entity, just in a different department of the subentity...

Why do I find myself thinking of your work place as one ruled by lovecraftianb entities?
("This manager was of no human shape!")

As for myself, I finally got over the latest insult inflicted upon me by my manager. On Monday, I accidentally found that my Big Project's deployment had been rescheduled from Tuesday to Thursday. The reason for doing so turned out to be valid, but they didn't see fit to consult me, supposedly because the unrelated database problem was so dire that there was no time to call me in to join that meeting. Believe me, it was not urgent like when James Bond was shackled to an atomic bomb inside Fort Knox. To add insult to injury, nobody had seen fit to tell me even after the supposed crisis had been handled. I was so furious, and loudly so, that my wife at the other end of the house woke up in spite of her recently being out of surgery. I especially liked it when, after I wrote a rather terse email to the team, my manager found the time to call and to tell me not to take it so personally.

This sort of thing is one of the reasons I decided to change jobs.

We don't have Lovecraftian entities around here, but we do have an ample supply of stray organs and such. One could be constructed and then animated with the aid of eldritch spells in the conference room after hours.

Susan... Your old job waits until after hours to reanimate the dead in the conference room? Mine does it at all times of the day and darkest night, thanks to the wonders of telecommuting.

It is my fondest hope that my manager will self-destruct. She has antagonized people who usualy handle this kind of crap way better than me. Until then... HERE is what's on the side of my favorite coffee mug.

I have a sign taped on the side of one of my monitors, next to the aisle:

Doing it wrong 16 times is NOT job security, because QC will kill you after the fourth time.

Good for you, Serge!

Thanks, Marilee. It does reflect how I feel about work. So does today's entry of my blog, including all implications of the photo's context.

I hate it when this happens...

What else do anaesthetists do
When patients are not turning blue?
They sit around and wonder
What other doctors do
And that, anaesthetists do.

(So I'm told)

...I don't wish to look flaky by changing jobs too often.

If I'd known there was a recession coming my CV would have less quitting to wander around New Zealand and since then working as a temp in a variety of jobs (running from entertaining through to just plain silly) for the last 4 years. On the other hand, if I'd known there was a recession coming, I'd have been wasting my time working in my previous career*.

* This is paraphrased from when our Finance Director wanted us to analyse some long term predictions of short term interest rates. If I'd known how to do that I would have been wasting my time at that job as I should have been working for the high priced consultants who'd prepared the interest rate report; as it was I was only wasting my time on that particular task.

I did my wandering around the U.S. (five week drive-around) right after university. Since then, I had a respectable seven-year stretch in one field, then eight years of extreme irregularity with grad school, chronic depression, starving artistry, temping, etc. Now I have nearly three years in one job, and am switching to another job with the same employer. I feel so dull.

If you believe my notes I spent most of time in New Zealand waiting for buses. On the other hand, when the bus stops look like this it's not too much of a hardship.

Very nice bus stop, Neil! My original plans were to retire at 55, buy an RV, and become a fulltimer (no other home) and roam the US & Canada. Clearly, that didn't turn out how I planned!

Susan... I feel so dull.

You've got to be kidding.

I spent a lot of time on buses when last I was in Scotland (after Interthingie in 2005). That included a stretch waiting by the side of the road after one broke down. The scenery was not quite as magnificent. I spent all my spare money in Japan splurging on bullet trains, which were lots of fun. (And yes, I really need to organize and post all my Japan trip pictures!)

I think quitting one's job to wander around New Zealand sounds very reasonable. Serge, I feel dull because this whole 9-to-5 job routine is so tediously repetitive and unoriginal. It's so steady. I miss the freedom I had before.

On the other hand, Susan, 9-to-5 (the job, not the movie) has the advantage that, before 9am and after 5pm, your life is your own.

Yeah, but that's not enough time to squeeze my real life into.

That included a stretch waiting by the side of the road after one broke down.

That happens in New Zealand too. At least it was a nice day for it; I'd walked the Tongariro crossing (a mountain pass between Mt Tongariro and Mt Doom) the day before and it had been cloudy and cold, at least until you dropped a thousand metres down the far side.

What's the story behind the name of Mt. Doom? The photo here suggests that the name was changed. Is this a post-LOTR-films thing?

The "Mordor" picture is quite impressive, by the way!

The Tongariro National Park was where some of the LOTR filming took place, especially Mordor (it's volcanic and above the treeline). Mt Ngauruhoe was one of the mountains that played Mt Doom in the films. Non-New Zealanders can't spell Ngauruhoe and non-polynesian language speakers can't pronounce it properly so it's generally called Mt Doom, except for pedants like me who call it "Mt Doom, formerly Mt Ngauruhoe".

You can climb it, but as it's an unmarked path, it's not a good idea when the clouds are that low, and it takes 2.5 hours to go up and down back to the path. As it took me 7.5 hours to go through the pass, and after 9 hours you're overdue and mountain rescue get called that was probably the right move.

I'm told there's no chasm into the interior.

There really is a distinct shortage of quality chasms in the world, isn't there?

I wanted to climb Mt. Fuji while in Japan, but couldn't find a companion and didn't want to do it alone (well, as alone as one can be in a huge crowd of Japanese climbers). I am determined to go back sometime and do it! I have no climbing experience whatsoever, but Mt Fuji is supposed to be doable by anyone with hiking boots. How accessible is Mt. Doom, formerly Mt. Ngauruhoe, to non-climbers? I wouldn't want to get myself into anything that required technical climbing skills.

Susan... There really is a distinct shortage of quality chasms

Downright abysmal.

The Tongariro Crossing needs no technical climbing, which is just as well as my rock climbing was 10 years unused at the time. There were a few bits where I was using my hands to scramble up, and there were a couple of snowy and icey bits (it was November, so late spring). Up the mountain I'm told is no harder, but of course you go up aother 400m. People who do this are usually staying in one of the huts or campsites on the northern circuit walk, so have more time in the day.

I did go on my own, but was rarely out of sight of anyone else, except when it was very misty. Looking at my flickr account, I have loads of upload for this month so I'll stick more pictures up.

I don't know if I have problems with altitude. I think Denver is the highest I've ever been, and despite all the warnings, I had no trouble there. So if I ever get to New Zealand, I will put the Tongariro Crossing on my list of things to do.

In Japan, the major issue for me was the language barrier: potentially being in the situation of getting into trouble on a climb and not having anyone I could communicate with was a bit scary. I didn't go off the beaten path in Japan for this reason. The major cities are quite friendly to English speakers, but I was not confident about visiting more rural areas. In New Zealand I suppose I'd have to take the personal safety issue more into account (female and alone is a bit different than six-foot-plus male and alone) but the language barrier wouldn't exist.

Truly, it's the pits.

As for Mt Doom, it's not so much the altitude as already having climbed 1200m that morning, wanting to climb another 400m is a bit much. If, like me, you travelled through youth hostels and similar, you'd be able to find people to walk/travel/do pretty much anything with; I nearly walked with an Australian but was feeling bloody-minded that day. I met up with a group at lunchtime (who'd all met that morning at the bottom) and tagged along with them on the way down.

I'd been advised by a friend that if I went to New Zealand there were two things I should definitely do - Walk the Tongariro Crossing and visit Stewart Island (Go to New Zealand. Head to the South of South Island*, and at Bluff, South Island's Southernmost town, catch a southbound ferry for 40km.) I recommend both.

* The Southern most district is called Southland

When I travel solo I travel through hostels, yes. One meets the most interesting people that way. When I have company, they tend to want to actually stay in hotels and spend too much money.

If I ever visit NZ and my knees have survived enough to permit me to climb things, I will keep your recommendations in mind!

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