About Me

Larbert, Scotland, United Kingdom

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Integration Fair

Today was integration afternoon, and thanks to the benevolence of the 3 defence unions (MPS, MDU, MDDUS), the BMA, and the Sickness insurance (Wesleyan) people, I got an interesting haul of freebies.

Most novel goes to MPS, with a 64MB SB memory stick.... noit exactly cutting edge, but nice.
Basic of all goes to BMA and MDDUS, with biro's.
MDU were offering discounted books.
But best of all was Weslyan, who didn't want email addresses or any other info from us, but offered a leaflet about their services and loads of sweets.

PS. on later inspection, of the contents of my carrier bag, the MDDUS pen turns out to be a pen light for checking eyes etc.

Community Care?

Well the Medical faculty are certainly being interesting this year......

It had been said that although not having to do an LCP coursework this year, I would have to attend the Clinical practice in the Community section of the course. this is basically attending a GP's one full day every fortnight in pairs and practicing clinical skills, history taking and observing the Primary Healthcare team in action.

However, when the list of allocations was published yesterday (for allocations starting next Tuesday), my name wasn't on the list. In a mild panic, I emailed the administrator, and she said that she had been advised by the faculty that I didn't have to resit that component, and that as such, and because they are short on GP's to take students this year, I was being taken off the list, and would get a chance for skills revision in Springtime.

This means I now have alternate Tuesday''s free, and potentially more time if i do not have to attend the Communication Skills sessions as well.


You know, sometimes I wonder where Butcher Boy gets his ideas from. No sooner had we finished the piano-a-tron, than he decides he might need some help with his robot costume for the Hallowe'en Rev at the QM, which was on 30th October and fancy Dress.
The inspiration for the robot design was fro Osomo the South Park robot, and a little from Robot Chicken.The robot started off as a crisp box, before gaining arm holes, and such like, including lots of silver spray paint and varnish. The arms were to be made from silver tumble drier ducting, and the head would be square.

To cope with dehydration, there would be a tune running from the right wrist, up the arm, into the main body, and round to the mouth, allowing robot to drink whatever he liked.
There was to be a velcro-d shut door on the front, allowing access for micturation.
Butcher boy then decided that a little panache was required, and we started with the idea of flashing lights. Either my soldering is worse than when I was at High School, or the circuit boards have got smaller, as they failed to work, so I went back to basics and using 9V LED's we built 3 circuits, each of 4 LEDs, with switches. thus teh robot had lights, but could also be turned On and Off by passing company.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Further to yesterday's article on the piano-a-tron, tonight I was at butcher Boy's - more on that story later - and he and flatmate Rob (a fellow refugee from work) were busy installing the piano-a-tron PC and speaker connections as well as the power cables, on off switch and then rebuilding the piano around it. I am very pleased to say that it all works very well, and all the function buttons work. For your delectation, below is a photo of me flat on my back under the piano using cable clips to keep all the wires today so Rob can play (most of) the piano - there are a few broken hammers inside.


Unlike many Med students, I am not a zealot about smoking - for starters, I would have had few friends in high school, sixth form, scouts, Uni or work if I hadn't frequented with those who smoked. As long as they know the risks, I honest;y fail to see the problem. After all drinking, eating and not exercising are more likely to kill you, and anyway sick people = more work in the future - I call it 'security of employment'. I have never smoked and don't see the attraction of it, and never want to smoke, but as long as my friends realise the damage they are causing, I don't feel the need to endanger my friendship with them by going on about the issue.

Tonight I have had a horrendous flashback to the days before Sunday 26th March 2006. That wonderful day was the day when smoking in enclosed public places was banned in Scotland. Since then, trips to the pub and coffee shops, stations, hotels and trains have all been refreshingly smoke free. Today I was round at Little Miss P's along with Butcher Boy, the Tattooed Drinker, and others. Little Miss P smokes, and since it is her flat, no one can stop her, but we had 3 smokers there and I have just got home with my throat hurting, eyes watering and red, nose blocked, and having to febreeze my jeans before I can wear them again.

At least when my friends drink in an antisocial manner, when you leave them you don;t bring the problem home with you and the health problems are restricted to you avoiding them when they fall over, and making sure they don't puke on your shoes....

Ah the sacrifices of Friendship.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cat Alarm Clock

I have never had a cat of my own, but friends with cats tell me that the above is true.


Ok, I gave the blog a coat of paint and sorted some of the bits in the sidebar, ditching some of them, and updating others. feel free to comment on the new colours or a better scheme if you think of one!

Resurrecting the piano-a-tron

You may remember the piano-a-tron that I helped Butcher Boy construct for his old flat. Well, following their flat move in early August, the Piano was a little ill. The electronics had been ripped out, and the piano itself needed some structural work to make it work again (there are still a few sticky keys, and the tuning is interesting - more honky tonk than perfect pitch).

Today I went round to Butcher Boy's flat to work on a replacement control mechanism for the piano-a-tron. We went for a solder-less alternative, since we had no drill to drill through the circuit board. Thus we ended up with a second rate solution of LX tape and bulldog clips. I am currently working on a hopefully better solution to be implemented soon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Big hole.

When I was down at Mum & Dad's at the weekend, my dad decided to take me to see North Tyneside's newest tourist attraction - the hole under the metro track.

The story goes something like this:
A hole opened up under the tracks at Northumberland Park on the Tyne & wear metro last week. The hole is into the top of the old mineshafts that litter the area. The local estimates for stabilisation and track re-opening were December.The issue seems to have been exacerbated by the 2005 opening of Northumberland park station (an island) which required the inner circle of track to be realigned around the island platform, and thus on this new alignment ran on an area previously not used for track.

The new Sainsbury's has a car park which gives a nice elevated vantage point over the hole, as can be seen from this picture.

Given that my sister's job is surveying the ground before people build on it, and spends her life either finding holes / mineshafts / soft rock, or pumping concrete in to fill up old mineworkings, my dad was getting rather excited that she might be sent to supervise the filling of this hole. Unlikely given she works in Dunfermline me thinks.

Christmas Decorations

They have been putting up the Christmas decorations in George Square for quite a few weeks now, and are almost complete. they have also been putting up my favourite bit - the lights over Royal Exchange Square which produce the "ceiling of light effect". The lights officially get turned on in mid November, just before the "Radiance Festival of light" starts.

I had never realised just how big the lights are, until I saw some of them on the ground today - see pictures.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Open wide

I need to see a dentist.

I've not seen one in over 3 years, because I used to go to my childhood one, but then he wet private and Mum & dad only registered themselves. Also, being 250 miles from your dentist isn't good. More immediately I need one as I have worn down one of my fillings so now very hot or cold food result in pain.

What is the issue?
I can't afford private dental care, so I need to find a dentist with an NHS list. Call me snobby, but more NHS dentists tend to be in less nice areas of town, and miles from home and/or Uni. The ones near Uni are expensive private ones. And the ones near home in the city centre are mostly also expensive and private.
What's wrong with the free NHS dental hospital?
Firstly i should let you know that I hate injections in my mouth - I smashed my front 2 teeth as a wee kid, and had 3 years of root canal treatment and caps so I had hundreds of injection in my upper gums and hate it.
Secondly I like dentists who a) know what they are doing and b) have only ever had one dentist from the age of 2-22, so i feel nervous about finding a new one. Also i know what state Med students are in in the morning, and I worry that dental students will be the same.

Ok, so why be picky?
I acted as hand-holder to the blu one when she needed dental treatment last year (she is scared of dentists beyond belief) and saw that some dentists are friendly, let you watch TV etc, and all on the NHS. In fact if I thought having a dentist in Edinburgh was a good idea, i would have gone along with her choice of dentist.
So have you any hopefuls?
Well after a google search and consulting the NHS lists from the health board I have found a possible dentists on the Southside, in Burnside. So I;m gonna phone them in the morning.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rugby World Cup Final (2)

The World Cup Final was a disappointment. We played well, tried hard but couldn't score a try. the Ref's decision in the case of the "Try that never was" was an interesting one, but you have to trust the judgement of the 4th official, and England had done well to even make the World Cup Final, so as ever, there is always next time, and at least I have seen us be World Champions in my lifetime.

Are nurses the problem?

As the dust settles on the C.diff argument down in Kent, and the Government, opposition and patients join up in the "Something must be done" lobby, the Spectator (not a magazine I normally read, but I left my book at Mum & Dad's and had a long train journey yesterday) had a comment piece by Charles Moore (formerly Editor of the Daily Telegraph). Mr Moore is clearly (as the Spectator is) slightly to the right of Centre in Politics (rather like some of my blog readers).

I quote part of his comment column below - I think his opinions are harsh, but have some justification, which I will explain below.

Charles Moore in the Spectator wrote:
Perhaps you cannot blame the media for hounding James Lee, the chairman of the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospital trust, who has resigned after the deaths from C.difficile. But it is nevertheless possible that he is right — that central government denies power to the board and subjects the executives to ludicrous micro-management. He tried to be fair, but he said, in effect, that lots of nurses are useless and very little can be done to improve or get rid of them. This is visibly true. Far from being the ‘angels’ of popular mythology, nurses have become too grand and ‘professional’ to make sure that patients are healthy. They have actually killed people. If they were bus drivers or building workers, they would have been sacked. But because they work for the sacred NHS, the media considers them beyond criticism.
Well it is a tricky case. The nurses are the victims of nu Labour as much as Junior Doctors are. Over the past 10 years, more have degrees, and are being trained further into areas such as being Nurse Practicioners, and prescribing. These areas tend to occupy some of the space left by the reduction in Junior Doctor's working hours. Hence they are now operating at a higher level than they did before.

The problem is that there are fewer auxilliaries than before, and thus a gap has opened at the bottom of the scale. If there are fewer nurses to help clean up patients, and fewer auxilliaries (or Healthcare Assistants) to help with personal care, and fewer cleaners to clean the wards, and fewer matrons to check on the cleaning, then the current situation of dirty hospitals happen.

My Mum (who used to be in charge of domestic cleaning services for a large teaching hospital) was commenting at the weekend that she had heard an Interview with Aggie McKenzie (from How Clean is your House) where the presenter had asked Aggie "Do you think Alan Johnson's idea of doing an intensive clean of hospitals will help?" Her reply was along the lines of "Until the first visitors come in, and the first dirt enters the building, until the first patient soils a bed, or there is a spillage. "

Basically a one-off blast clean will work for a short time.However, spending the same amount on cleaners to clean the Wards properly, including additional staff to deal with spills etc, and having cleaning cover morning til night 7 days a week, in addition to visitor and staff hand washing etc will be the only way to clean up hospitals long term. As my Mum said "I have yet to see a government initiative clean a floor".

Friday, October 19, 2007

A second quiz

I was recently accused of being friends with people yet they didn't know much about me - so here is a quiz i was sent of umpteen random facts that you may / may not want to know.

What is your favorite song of all time?
hmm not sure....
Do you own any pets, and if so what do you have?
I had some fish, but they died.
Who do you admire most?
Famos people: Nelson Mandella, Desmond Tutu, CE Koop;
Non Famous: My Grandpa;
Do you have any tattoos, and if so what and where?
No (don't like needles going into me)
When do you plan on getting married?
After I meet someone I want to spend my life with.
Get the number or give the number?
not sure, it depends
How do you feel?
ok, bit hungry
What size shoe do you wear?
7 I think
Water or 100% Juice?
T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Cingular/AT&T, or Sprint/Nextel
Would you rather be hot or cold?
Would you rather lose an arm or a leg?
Favorite Place to Eat?
at a table
Opera, Musical, Concert, Play, Performance, or Other?
Performance or a gig
What is your favorite clothing brand?
Blue Harbour?
Most Memorable Past?
My degree results
Most embarrassing moment?
can't think of any.... my therapy is clearly working!
If you had to pick one car, which would it be?
at the moment, a ford Ka would do
Your favorite Disney Films?
Lilo & Stitch
Why did the chicken cross the road?
to get to the other side
Do you support Paris?
Where is Waldo?
Favorite element?
What was your last thought?
How many more questions are there?
Firefox, Internet Explorer, Netscape, or other?
Who are you going to vote for in 2008?
They won't let me; I voted Green 3 times in 2007 though.
Juice and crackers or milk and cookies?
juice & cookies
Favorite fruit?
apple or pineapple or blackcurrant
Which is worse? A bad laugh or a bad cough?
bad cough
Are you a cat or a dog person?
Would you rather be blind or deaf?
Define yourself in 3 words...
logical, sporadic, me!
Do you eat cold cereal at night?
What is your favorite TV show?
Kill the spider or let it out?
Let it go free
Do you shower every single day?
Walking past a beggar, spare change or ignore?
ignore normally
Boat or bus?
Boat if the bus would sink... bus if the boat doesn't have wheels.
What is your favourite Pj Fabric
Where do you want to travel next?
Going to Newcastle tomorrow, Edinburgh on Wednesday.... beyond that few plans or even ideas. Would love to visit the Antarctic, but that's not gonna happen soon.
What would you do if Michael Jackson asked you out?
Scream / run away, or politely decline and say I was busy that night
What is your favorite food?
Raw carrots
Do you read harry potter books?
What is your favorite place?
On top of a big hill, looking down a valley at a loch
If you could have one super human power what would you choose?
the chance to wind back time and do things differently
Have you had a beer in the last week?
Vitamin Water or Gatorade?
Water, or lucozade sport
Flip flops or sandels?
Steelies? Flip flops if I had to choose
What do you do on fridays?
Go to Uni?
Do you like bananas?
not really
How tall are you?
5ft 3 and a half

Thursday, October 18, 2007

World Cup Final

I am escaping Scotland this weekend, to the land of the current World Cup Champions. I really hope that we (England) are still World Cup champions when I get back to Glasgow on Sunday night. At least at Rugby we are more successful than we are at Football.

Dawkins & Atheism

Richard Dawkins is on 'The Late Edition' on BBC4 tonight. Richard Dawkins is always someone I have felt torn over. Whilst I agree with his views on the importance of science, and the crucial role that Science plays in the world today, as well as the importance of the public understanding of science. His views on the importance of curiosity and scientific investigation is reflected in his 2003 collection of essays 'A Devil's Chaplain'. I especially enjoy his essays about postmodernism (debunking much of the arts) , his schooldays at Oundle. His response to the death of his close friend Douglas Adams is also a deep insight into the lives of both men.

I do however have major issues with his views on Religion - his recent comment that "People like Rowan Williams are in a minority - religious and educated. the majority of religious people believe in miracles and the virgin birth."

I find it alarming that a man who relies so much on theories in his scientific career, has ended up criticising people who believe other theories. He may not choose to believe in anything himself, but he should accept the right for Christians, Muslims and Sikhs to each believe in what they choose. His final essay, a letter to his daughter is particularly guilty of that which he claims to argue against. It seems to be indoctrination and the start of a tradition as much as (he claims) other religions are.


We have now had our term dates etc for this year. Integration week starts on Mon 19th October. It is quite relaxed, with only 15 hours of contact time through the week, and that includes Integration afternoon and also the Elective evening, both of which include circulation time and refreshments.

The earliest start is a dawn breaking 9.30am! But we do have a 9pm finish on Tuesday 30th, which is a bit late.

Latest health crisis to hit the NHS

My Day Out

Yesterday (Tuesday) I got up early, and went by train to Inverness, then changed and caught a train along Loch Carron to Kyle of Lochalsh. The journey down along Loch Carron was amazing, and the sun came out over the rain at some points. After lunch and a short time to walk around Kyle (and see the bridge "over the sea to Skye") I hopped on the train back to Inverness and then Glasgow. Again the scenery was amazing as the setting sun shone up Loch Carron, giving the mountains a totally different colour and personality to the ominous grey they had under the rain clouds. i also saw several rainbows.
A great day out, even if it did involves 11 hours on trains!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Birthday nights out

Monday was the tattooed drinker's 22nd Birthday - what do you mean you thought he looked older!? Thus he , me, Butcher Boy etc went to the QM for a quiet night the out properly last night to celebrate his Birthday properly.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


After France surprising New Zealand yesterday, Scotland and Fiji both has spirited poerformances today which were in the end just not quite enough to get through.

Argentina vs South Africa is an interesting tie, as on paper you expect the Springboks to win...but Argentina have had some good performances in this World cup. It also presents me with too problems - which would I like in the final (bearing in mind that at the moment, England still have a chance to reach the final) and also, who to support. I think despite my not supporting Southern hemisphere teams, that in this case I have to support South Africa, since I don't have anything against them, except the fact that they are Southern Hemisphere, whereas I'm not keen on Argentina at all....