Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I want socialized medicine. If we had a bureaucratic, rigid healthcare system, I'd be assigned a doctor, would go to him and get my physical, and that would be it. Instead, I have freakin' CHOICE, which would be nice if I had a particular doctor in mind. Instead I'm going to ask around, see what doctors other people have used, how they like them, who's accepting new patients, and on and on. I have no doubt that by the end of the process I'll have spent way more time doing research than actually receiving care, and the care I get won't be of noticeably higher quality. At a minimum I'd love a system like e-bookings in the UK, where you can make your appointment online and not deal with phone trees or anything.

I'm going to San Diego! Wayne, our perpetually awesome CEO, is taking the whole company down there for BREW DevCon. Road trip! Just kidding, though that would be awesome. We'll be flying down and spending two nights in late May, with several very illuminating sessions surrounded by a great deal of merry-making. I regretted missing out on this at Nexgenesis, and am glad to do it now.

The weather here is nice again. It started being really nice yesterday, though unfortunately it was drizzling when I woke up at six so I didn't ride. I remedied that today, though, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I don't think I'm in as good of condition now as I was before the rainy stretch started, but it's nowhere near as painful as my very first ride was, so that's good... I don't feel like I'm starting from Square One. I'd almost forgotten how big a difference the ride makes - I arrive at work alert and cheerful, and banged out a ton of code before most other people were even in the office.

Expect more on this when I finish it, but I'm reading "Kafka on the Shore" by Murakami Haruki, and it is amazing. Weird and wonderful and surreal, also a real page-turner.

My reading has really ramped up. I'm going to polish off Kafka about a week after I finished Norrell, and I have another four books requested: Endless Nights (Sandman-related stories), The Third Policeman (spotted in a Lost episode, I requested this back in December and am now #3 on the list), At the Mountains of Madness (H. P. Lovecraft, I've meant to read his stuff for a while) and V (Thomas Pynchon, this will be my second attempt, and hopefully this time I can get past the first chapter). I'm not entirely sure why I'm reading so much more, though it's almost certainly related to the generally damp weather - I'm spending a lot more time inside now than I was in January or February.

Lots of news stories and stuff here commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake that destroyed San Francisco. At a ceremony this morning, the fire department rang all their alarms in memory. I'm sure I'll regret saying this, but I feel a little bummed that I've lived here for... wow, I guess eight months now, and have yet to feel a single earthquake. Nothing, nada, zilch. I don't want the Big One, but I'd like at least some idea of how the experience feels.

I ate pancakes for breakfast today, and tonight I'll cook myself some tacos. Man, life can be pretty good sometimes. I'm sure there's a lot of kids out there who envy me.

I received an invitation last week for a "Classes Without Quizzes" program. This is a really neat series that the Washington University alumni association runs. A Wash U professor flies out to a particular city, delivers a short seminar on a particular topic, and spends time socializing with the group. I went to one in KC last year where an art professor spoke about an exhibit on early Midwestern painters. It was pretty interesting, he sort of examined the role of art back in the frontier and the ways it has influenced popular art through today. After that we had a really nice meal in the museum cafe and then a docent-led tour of the exhibit itself.

This one is called "Medical Ethics and Frankenstein's Monster." It is led by Dr. Ira J. Kodner, who is a prof at the med school and also the Director for the Study of Ethics and Human Values. Pretty cool, huh? He'll be talking about the prescient issues raised in Frankenstein, which is essentially about a man who creates life and is unable to deal with the consequences, and use that to look at contemporary issues like stem cell research and our unequal system of care. Sounds really fascinating. It'll be held at the Four Seasons hotel in downtown San Francisco, within a block of the Argent where I stayed when interviewing with Weather News. Honestly, I really am going mainly for the lecture, but there will be a cocktail reception before and a discussion afterwards, so I'll try to extrovert myself and meet some fellow alumni. I've wanted to go to one of these things since moving here, but the events are always in SF and it isn't very easy to get up there in time after work. This is on a Saturday so I think I'll make a day of it. I might finally hit SFMOMA, which is nearby, or get out to the zoo or one of the other farther spots, then swing back to Market for the event.

A while back I watched one of those new Monty Python highlight programs, "The Very Best of Eric Idle." It has been years since I've seen the classic TV episodes and I was delighted to see that, for once, something is every bit as good as I remember it. The pure anarchic spirit and erudition on display in their sketches just blows me away. Even when I know what's coming, I still feel a thrill when I see the Greek and German philosophers take to the field for their football match. There were also quite a few bits from their Hollywood Bowl appearance, which I've never seen but need to. I really need to pick up their box set sometime. I really think it's a shame that most people only know them from their movies - "Holy Grail" is excellent, but I think that the very best sketches from their show are better than the best parts of that movie. I'm thinking of the Hungarian Tobbacconist, the Spanish Inquisition, Operation on Mr. Gumby, the climbers scaling Third Street, the entire episode with the guy on the bicycle ("How could you miss?!"), the architectural design competition, and on and on. I'm not saying that every single thing they did was comedic gold, but they have an amazing success rate, and virtually every successful modern comedy owes a huge debt to them. (I'm looking at you, Family Guy.)

That's it from me. Hope everything's going well over there.


  1. Unless a doctor is sugary sweet I don't want to have anything to do with them. Bedside manner counts more than anything. If you can't relate to your caregiver they're just going to shrug you off and leave you just as sick as before.

    I saw a doctor before I left Japan, but haven't since. She was nice and helpful. And a friend of my BF so it went extremely well.

    I'm not sure what doctors are like in Japan, but if I can find one with American craze than I'm set.

  2. Yeah, I'd probably feel the way you do if I actually needed care. This is more just a matter of, "Wow, it's been eight years since I went to a doctor. I should probably go in to make something hideous isn't happening to my body." (That's a big part of the reason I've been putting this off for so long - I'd be way more motivated if I was actually sick.) Honestly, if a doctor came in, said "You're fine," and immediately left, I'd be 100% OK with that.

    Oooh... what would be REALLY cool would be if House was my doctor. Like, I'm the one person who doesn't ask for someone specific so I get stuck with him. He'll come in the room, wittily insult me and my lifestyle, then prescribe unconventional drugs and leave. I could go for some of that.