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Monday, February 26, 2007

How Did They Get a Copy of My Kids' Answers?

Or, test answers we all wished we'd written...

Hat tip, Wanderer (tell me, how is mass emailing a step up from blogging?)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Baruch Dayan HaEmes

Steg's father passed away early this morning. The funeral will be tomorrow morning. I know from personal experience that he would be comforted if you contact him, either through the blog or if you know him personally.

(Shiva will start after the funeral tomorrow).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tfillin and Acupuncture

This was sent to me by a patient:

I don't know why this happened to me, but it's a fact that stuff comes my way; I went to Tel Aviv to visit my father and someone there asked me, "Have you heard about Tefillin?" I said, "What are you talking about?" She tells me that her friend has an article from the Chinese Journal of Medicine written about Tefillin. Right away my curiosity was aroused and I had her immediately bring me the article and when I got it, I saw something unbelievably amazing! Absolutely astounding!

Who of us doesn't know about Chinese Acupuncture? The Chinese discovered the medical treatment using needles to heal when they are inserted at certain points in the body. The Chinese have mapped out and named all the points of the body du 24 du 70 du 23, and so on. And the Chinese Journal of Medicine - to which everyone important in the field of Acupuncture subscribes - published an amazing article, absolutely astonishing. The main article in volume number 70 of the Journal deals solely with the Tefillin of the Jewish People. The article conclusively establishes that the contact and pressure points covered by the hand and head Tefillin are exactly those points at which the Acupuncture needles are inserted in order "to increase spirituality and to purify thoughts." The non-Jewish author of the article puts it that the points covered by the Tefillin are those where the Acupuncture needles are inserted. Reverse the statement to read: The Acupuncture needles are inserted in those points which are exactly where a Jew puts on Tefillin.

The article details all of the Acupuncture points which are the same as the points-of-contact of the head Tefillin - front and back - as well as the points-of-contact of the hand Tefillin on the arm and hand. In the opinion of the expert who wrote the article, these are the only Acupuncture points that will achieve this result [to increase spirituality and to purify thoughts] which, in addition to following the Torah's command to place the Tefillin on the arm (hand) and head as a sign that HASHEM brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand, is likely the reason that Jews put on Tefillin.

Absolutely amazing!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Where's the Fakakta Phone?

I'm not into ringtones (I still have the default one on my phone), but if I were going to download anything, it would be this one.

Hat tip, wanderer (OBM)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I don't know how else to tell you this...
Give it to me straight.
There's been a terrible accident.
Oh no! What happened??
We tried our best, but in the end, we couldn't save...
You mean...
Yes...I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but there's been a...catastrophic accident. A freak event--in all the cases I've done, I've never seen anything like it.

You might think the above exchange was one that I had with a patient. But although I was involved in the conversation, I was not the one giving the bad news.

Your bass, he told me, is dead.

My bass? My acoustic bass?? How could this have happened??

Well, it seems that I had brought two of my basses into a local guitar shop to be worked on. Both had problems, and this place is pretty well known amongst guitarists as the best place in town to have your axes fixed. I'd actually been there several times, many years ago.

The acoustic bass, as you may or may not recall, had a pickup problem. The bottom 2 strings would lose amplification a few songs into a gig, making the bass fairly unusable.

Still, I've been bringing it to more gigs recently, so I decided to see if I could get the pickup fixed. I brought it in, and they seemed pretty sure they could fix it. In the mean time, I asked them to do a "setup" as well, which means straightening the neck and fixing the frets and whatever else needs to be done to get it playing like new.

About a week went by and I heard nothing from them. Finally I called.

"Hi, I'd like to know if my basses are ready?" I told them my name.

Silence. Then, "Hold on a minute."

A new person got on the phone, and began the conversation above.

"What do you mean, it's 'dead'?" I asked.

"Like I said, this has never happened before, but I was adjusting the metal rod that straightens the neck, and it...snapped. It just snapped. I'm sorry. There was nothing I could do."

It was such a strange conversation. It really sounded like a doctor calling a patient about a "therapeutic misadventure" as we like to call these things. I've had to call patients to inform them of a bad outcome in the past, but thankfully, not very often. But this, about a guitar, was just too weird.

To his credit, he immediately took ownership of the problem and told me he wanted to replace the bass. He offered me a Hohner Acoustic bass that was for sale in the store.

Now, I was not that familiar with Hohner. I wasn't sure if Hohner was like a knockoff of Hofner, which made the Beatle Bass. Or maybe it was the other way around. Anyway, I figured, I gotta pick up the Fender Bass (which thankfully was unharmed), so I'd check out the Hohner.

So I drove down there after work and took a look at the thing. It felt like the kind of used guitar you'd expect to get in a shop like this. Lovingly set up, not betraying its age.

While playing this thing I committed a Medical Faux Pas. See, I had just come from my third hospital, and while I remembered to take off my lab coat and leave it in the car, I had forgotten about the stethoscope around my neck.

Apparently somebody noticed it and came up to me.

"Are you Dr. S?" he asked.


"You used to be my mother's doctor." He told me the name. I remembered her fondly. As I recalled, she had left the practice a few years back because she wanted a clinic and a hospital closer to her side of town.

"Oh sure, I remember your mom! How is she?"

"She's dead."

Probably I should have said something. Or at least stopped playing the bass, which I was doing the whole time we were talking. But I was a little stunned, so I just kept doing what I was doing with my mouth hanging open a little.

"Er" I eventually said. "Uh. Sorry to hear that. What happened?"

He told me about her brain aneurysm which had suddenly burst. I said something about it being better to go quickly like that than to suffer. I threw in the story of my Father's death for good measure.

We sized each other up, and after that, it seemed we were even. He smiled at me and thanked me for the care I had given his mother, and complimented me on my playing.

I went back to the counter and told them I'd accept the Hohner in trade. Actually it's not a bad outcome. To fix the Washburn would have cost a lot of money, no doubt.

Still, I'm a little sad about the old bass. And about the guy's mother.

If you'd like to hear what the old acoustic bass sounded like, listen to the bass on Sevivon, or watch this clip from 2002:

Once Again: BSG--WTF??

I love this show, but I'm getting a little tired of all the propaganda. Particularly because the analogies are flawed and make little sense. I was going to write a post about this, but Michael over at Battlestar Galactica Blog does a nice job, so read his post. I added my take on this week's episode in the comments. As always, spoilers are present.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It's a Good Thing I Don't Carry a Gun

If you've been keeping up with my personal life, you know I've been a little stressed lately. The clinic has been very busy, I've had a bunch of admissions, I'm now rounding at three hospitals a day, and I still need to make minyan every morning. Somehow I have to fit everything in and it's a very tight squeeze, and there are days when I feel like my brain is being compressed to fit into an overstuffed bookshelf.

Today was one of those days. Lets see...

Minyan at 5:45-6:35

Home for a bite and a cup of coffee, then

Make rounds at two hospitals between 7 and 9

Make it to clinic hopefully in time to boot up my computer, check my schedule and answer a few emails

See patients non-stop every 15 minutes from 9-12 while simultaneously fielding calls from the emergency room, various hospital floors, and patients who need to be called back before 9 (and what time do I get the message?)

Hop back into my car and drive across town to get to hospital #3 to see that one little old lady who just can't seem to agree on which rehab place she wants to be transferred to

Somehow manage to get to my consulting job by 1pm, maybe eat in the car on the way...

You see how my days have been going?

Back up a bit to hospital #3. I really don't like going there. I have nothing against the place, but it's WAAAY out of my way and it adds about an hour into my day that frankly, I just don't have. The only reason I agreed to go there was to see the little old lady who's been my patient for years.

And no, it's not because I'm such a great doc and don't want to abandon my patient. It's because I don't have the heart to dump her on someone else! Honestly, I wouldn't wish her on my worst enemy. You can tell how much she must appreciate all the effort I go to every day to go and see her (if you said not at all, you are a winner!)

So, as I said. I hate this place. But I made it there today around 12:30ish. And I drive into the Doctor's lot. And...there are no spaces. But.

There is one guy sitting in his car with the engine running. So I back up a little to give him room to pull out. He just sits there. I wave at him. I flash my lights. I make strange arm motions. I drive forward and backwards. Nothing. The time is ticking by. I'm getting late. And did I mention it's snowing heavily now.

I finally drive out of the lot. No sooner do I do so, than he pulls out of the lot and exits. I catch all this in my rear view mirror.

SonofaB***!!! I literally yell that.

I circle back around to the entrance gate. There's a car there already, and the guy gets my spot.

It's a VERY good thing I don't carry a gun.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New Blogger

I've been playing around with my "New Blogger" template today. Actually, that's not quite accurate. I obliterated my former template and adopted Blogger's new "modular" template. In doing so, my journey towards the Dark Side is complete.

In a scene very reminiscent of the one in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (I know I'm obsessed with this film now; just work with me) where Brooke Adams' body dissolves into dust, only to be replaced by the fiendish, naked, Pod version, I upgraded my template, and with one click, the functional, if not particularly attractive Psychotoddler template vanished and was replaced with this new monstrosity.

So I guess the whole purpose of the "modular" template is to make it easier to add elements to your blog, and to edit the ones that are there. Theoretically that makes sense. However trying to transfer your old, established elements is another story. It doesn't like HTML. Or rather, it doesn't know what to do with it, and if you have anything complicated on your sidebar it gets nervous, and tries to fit it into some other premade pigeonhole. Sometimes it works out. Other times, not so much. What I'm left with is a bunch of modules labeled "HTML/Javascript element" and no way to identify them on my template, without having the internal label show up as a sidebar label.

For example, if I want to remind myself that the "Theme Song" module is the one in which I posted the HTML for the Theme Song, I can type it in the title box of the module. But then it shows up as an official label on the side when you view the blog. If I want to keep it blank on the blog, I cannot label it in the template. Nit-picking, you may say, but when there are a bunch of generic HTML/Javascript elements staring at you from the setup page and you are trying to put them in order, it gets a little confusing.

But I'll manage. For all my kvetching, Blogger remains free and has added quite a bit to my life. I can cut it some slack. I do like the widgets and I plan to use the label feature, both long overdue. And if someone has some code that makes recent comments show up in the sidebar (without installing a third party comment script--I had a bad experience with Haloscan), let me know.

Monday, February 05, 2007


I took The PT to the Domes on Sunday. They were having their yearly Garden Railroading display.

Something that you probably don't know about me is that I was a Model Railroading enthusiast as a kid. When I was in 8th Grade, I built a huge HO scale layout in my basement, complete with mountains, houses, people, trees, working streetlights and cars. Mostly cars. Truth is, I didn't care so much about the trains. I loved the modeling. Creating a miniature world. Playing god with the little people. Having the Army come in with tanks and green soldiers and blowing up the soda shop. Or having granny's car break down on the train crossing. Good times, good times...

But anyway, after high school the layout was disassembled and packed up into boxes, and some time after I moved out here I had my Dad ship the boxes to me. And all of it has sat on a shelf in my dungeon awaiting such time as I could make space available to reconstruct it. And as you've probably guessed, that time never came.

Meanwhile the kids have their own hobbies, and it seems Model Railroading is a thing of the past. Still, whenever there's a good railroading show, I like to go and show the kids. So this weekend it was The PT's turn, and she enjoyed it mightily.

But that's not really what this post is about. I took a bunch of pictures while we were at the Domes, and after a while, The PT asked if she could take my picture. So I gave her the camera.

The interesting part is how she chose to take the picture. She put the camera up to her face and tried to peer through the viewfinder. I have no idea why she did that. She was having a heck of a time and finally I just told her to point the thing in my direction and press the button.

But I don't know where she got the idea to use the little viewfinder instead of the big ole' LCD screen. Of all my six children, she is probably the only one who never saw me squint through a viewfinder, because she is the only kid who was born in the digital camera age. We always have used the LCD around her. Taking a picture has always meant holding a little box a few feet in front of you and trying to line up a shot. It's never been about sticking the camera over your eye.

She always seems to find her own way of doing things.

There but for the Grace of G-d...

A 37-year-old West Bend man may want to give the Hippocratic Oath another skim through.

The man, a Columbia St. Mary's triage nurse at 4425 N. Port Washington Road, was suspected of threatening a co-worker with a box cutter after the employee asked him to take a phone call from a patient the morning of Jan. 6.

The man said he didn't want to talk to any more patients, a police report said.

Glendale police prescribed the nurse a ticket.

Diagnosis: disorderly conduct.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Kol Isha

This week's Torah/Haftorah portion featured songs from two women:

Miriam and Devorah.

So what I'm trying to figure out is, did they sing these songs to "Women's Only" groups? Did Miriam say to Moshe, "Hey bro, gotta sing a song now, you had your turn. Now if you'd be so kind as to take all the male folk with you a couple miles in that direction so they don't hear me sing..."

Or did Devorah say to Barak, "Barak, thanks for all the help with the battle and all, but it is against Halacha for you to hear me sing, so get lost."

And if so, who recorded this stuff for the Chumash or Navi? Please enlighten me and reconcile how these very clear examples of women singing in public jibe with the common Orthodox practice of banning men from hearing them sing.