Sunday, March 28, 2010

health food, part II

What's up with these Taco Bell ads where the guy comes in and furtively orders this 5-layer enchilada thing, like it's some kind of a drug deal? I almost freaked when I saw that ad! For a second I thought I was on LSD.

And I thought it was just a one-time thing. But now, there's a new one with another guy coming in and asking for Denise, the 5-layer chalupa dealer! Damn! I guess Taco Bell knows their target audience pretty well ...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

health food

We all know Fritos are delicious, but how many of you out there realized how healthy they are for you? I'm eating some right now. Let me read off the ingredients to you: "Whole corn, corn oil, and salt. No preservatives."

Three ingredients! That's it, baby! As long as you don't have to be on a low-sodium diet, there's nothing but goodness awaiting. Just read the nutrient panel: "cholesterol, 0 mg." Sure, there's 10 gm of fat per serving ... but nearly all of it is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat! I shit you not. I also have a bag of peanuts in my desk, and there's actually more fat in the peanuts. (And did I mention that they're roasted and unsalted peanuts?)

Kind of ironic, isn't it? You would think Fritos'd be all bad for you, but they're not. And I do wish they were made by some mom 'n' pop company, rather than an agribusiness giant, but I'm not going to apologize for being hungry.

I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

the jubilation

Holy schnikes! Health care reform is really gonna happen! Hot damn.

Monday, March 15, 2010

the misery

This is normally kind of a lighthearted blog, but I'm gonna be somber here for just a few minutes while I talk about my job. I work in a hospital, primarily taking care of people who have cancer or have been treated for cancer though every so often there's someone with no history of cancer in the mix. I decided to go into medicine a few years after I'd finished my undergrad degree, and then decided during my pre-med studies to pursue oncology as a career. And that's basically how I wound up in Mad City - I'm doing my oncology training here.

Now, the first thing most people say when I tell them what I do is, "Oh, that sounds depressing." I've been hearing that since med school, basically. But really, I was prepared for it. And the way I see it, once you become an MD, there's very few areas you can go into that *aren't* depressing at some time or other. We've all gotta deal with bad situations and diseases from time to time, whether you're in primary care or neurology or psychiatry or yes, even dermatology. Another way of looking at it is that oncology is an interesting field, and I'd get down if I was doing something that I didn't find interesting.

So I was prepared for the grim side of oncology. But as Mike Tyson once said, "Everybody's got a plan until they get hit." And at times, this work can kind of pummel you. On a busy day in clinic, for instance, when you see wave after wave of patients dealing with horrible, horrendous diseases and your options for helping them are limited. And sometimes, there are things like trying to explain a very complex illness to someone who basically doesn't understand what a cell is. It can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially when you're running an hour behind schedule and you know that most of what you say to your poor patient is not sinking in.

And one of the toughest things to deal with is when a patient or family member redirects their anger/anxiety/fear about their illness at you. It actually happens quite a bit, not only for physicians but also nurses and really anyone directly involved in patient care. You can't really blame people for feeling that way, but sometimes it can be tough to deal with. (Check this out - I saw it on the NY Times website the other day.)

So obviously, it's important to have some sort of support network when you work in this field. But to be honest, I haven't had a lot of support here in Mad City. And part of that's my fault, people! I moved here by myself, and figured it wouldn't be too hard to build up a social network like I had during residency. But the situation's different here: fewer people in my program, bigger city, bigger hospital, more impersonal hospital. The director of the cancer center, who in a certain sense is my boss, hasn't said a word to me during my 2+ years in Mad City. I shit you not. And I'm finding that as one gets older, it gets harder and harder to make new friends in a new location, unless you join a church or have kids or otherwise sell your soul (just kidding ...) Anyhow, I thought this would be a friendlier place, but it's not really. It's a very liveable place, just not exactly friendly. Not hostile, but ... it's hard to explain. And it probably doesn't help that work sucks up a lot of my free time.

Don't get me wrong - I can think of a lot of people in a worse situation than mine. Many of my patients, for instance. All the wretched earthquake survivors in Haiti. The people who went through the earthquake in Chile. The impoverished. People without access to health care, or without jobs, or without hope of any kind. The New Jersey Nets. There's a lot of different varieties.

But still, if you want to know what it's like to not only work in a field like oncology, but to more or less do it on your own: well, at times it really sucks. I'm inspired by many of my patients, and there are times when I feel fortunate to be able to do this work, but I just wish I hadn't had to be so isolated. And if it seems like I'm having an off day once in a while - a bad blog entry, or some lame Facebooking, something along those lines - all I can say is that I'm dealing with this stuff the best I can. I like to think that at the very least, I'll come out the stronger for it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

in the na'vi

Guess what, Mad City readers? I finally saw "Avatar" tonight. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Huh???" And all I can say is, I've been busy. Pretty damn busy.

So I suppose you want to hear my thoughts on it, right? Well ... I think it was a technological tour-de-force. I've never seen animation like that before! And I didn't even go to the 3D version. But I also think it's a little questionable, from a certain point of view, that these native people needed an outsider to come in and rescue them from a bad situation. There's an allegory in there somewhere ... hey, you know what it's like? "Dances with Wolves." It's just like "Dances with Wolves," where you had this goy cross over the lines and help the Indians fight off the white man's attack. I mean, why couldn't one of the natives have been the leader, the chosen one?

That's what I thought. I just thought of that.

But still, when Jake Sully called bullshit on the Sky People and their crazy nonobtainium-seeking ways, I couldn't help but get stoked up. And I vow to all of you that someday when I'm on my deathbed, my last words are going to be, "Take my bow. Protect the people." And I expect all the natives will do a whole bunch of crazy swaying-around, so my spirit can successfully get linked up with my avatar.

I see you, people. I see you ...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

and on the subject of movies ...

M. Night Shyamalan should do a remake of "Soylent Green." Think about it: it's right up his alley. And we're due for a remake of "Soylent Green" by somebody. And let's face it, this guy's in a slump. Has he sent anything to the box office since "Signs" that hasn't been mocked and jeered by surprise twist-weary viewers? And now he's got this "Last Airbender" thing coming out. Can you say "CGI-heavy?" Even though it hasn't been released yet, I'm gonna guess the big plot twist right now: the main character can bend air.

The big question regarding the "Soylent Green" remake, obviously, is who would play the Charlton Heston role. I ... I don't have a good answer for that. But I'll tell you what: I want M. Night to make some sort of cameo appearance. Promise me that, M. Night! You're the friggin' modern-day Hitchcock of suspense-movie cameo actor-directors! Your turn as a small-time drug dealer in "Unbreakable": so convincing. And plausible, too! The last time I was in Philadelphia, the streets were just crawlin' with East Indian-American drug dealers. Sheesh ...

one for the ladies

Don't know if you heard, but a lady finally won the Oscar for Best Director! And in doing so, she beat out her famous ex-husband. That's so cute ...

Monday, March 8, 2010

big in japan

News flash: Mad City is #31 Blog in Japan for the month of February! I'm not sure how this happened, but I'm not going to question it. And while #31 may not seem like such a big deal, keep in mind that Japan is a deceptively populous country, and very tech-oriented. It's kind of like being #17 Blog over here in the States.

Another news flash: with this unexpected celebrity, I'm currently working on some endorsement deals. Just like the Huffington Post. You may see a few ads sprinkled through Mad City in the next few months, no big whoop. I've been having some talks with Kikkoman soy sauce, Asahi beer, the newspaper Nikkei Weekly, and Daiwa Seiko fishing tackle.

Bring out the flavor in your stir fry tonight! Kikkoman soy sauce. Works great on sushi, too.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

joke of the day #8

We all know what happens when you "assume" something, right? You make an "ass" out of "u" and "me." So ... what happens when you "presume" something?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

the aquarium for adults

There's a pretty cool aquarium in Atlanta, which I visited during my recent swing through town. I can't remember the name of it (Atlanta Aquarium?), but it's right next to the Coca-Cola Museum. Anyhow, I digress. I came up with a great idea during my visit: aquariums for adults.

You see, I've visited a decent number of aquariums over the years, and the one consistent theme (other than fish and sealife, ha ha) is kids. They're usually crawling with kids! I have a theory about why this is, which I won't elaborate on now, but which I do have a name for: the "Nemo effect." And don't get me wrong, I think it's great that kids are showing an interest in marine biology. Hopefully, the next generation will discover all kinds of new and exciting tropical fish to add to our home aquariums. But still ... wouldn't it be nice to enjoy the fish, once in a while, without getting overrun by rugrats?

Here's what I'm thinking: a place with no child-oriented displays like starfish petting areas and penguin feeding times. This would be strictly about serious fish, like hake. And there would be docents from nearby universities to give insightful, detailed talks about various topics that kids might consider too boring, like the importance of kelp in marine ecosystems. And Jacques Cousteau! There'd be plenty of memorabilia and tributes to the late, great oceanographer. Most kids don't know JC from SpongeBob, which is probably why you don't even see a picture of him in most aquariums. Also, anyone who yelled excitedly at anything in an exhibit, or moved around at anything faster than a brisk walk, would be escorted from the premises. The aquarium for adults would be as quiet as a library.

And finally, instead of a family-themed restaurant, there'd be a lounge where you could get a couple stiff drinks and a lap dance. Because why not? This is an aquarium for adults, after all. And after listening to a bunch of talk about kelp, you'd probably deserve some kind of award.

All right, just throwing it out there. Testing the waters, so to speak. Keep in mind, though, that a lot of great ideas start small. And if in 10 years, you find yourself milling around in an adult aquarium, just remember where you heard the idea first ...