Slide Show

We had a dermatologist come to class last night to talk to us (as interpreters and future interpreters) about dermatology terms and give us what he called “Implosion” to the world of rashes and skin conditions.  He was my least favorite speaker so far.  He opened up a window to what goes on in the mind of some providers, a window best left closed, I think.

The first thing he wanted us to know was that he can usually tell what is wrong with a patient within 15 seconds of walking into the room.  All he needs to do is see the affected area and he can make a diagnosis.  As a matter of fact, one of the hardest parts of his job he said, is figuring out how to make patients feel  important in the process.  Yipes.  Isn’t that what we’re all afraid doctors will do?

He had lots of slides of rashes and ailments of the skin.  He said he wanted to show us the slides so that we don’t have a gasp of horror in the doctor’s office when we see one of them in living color.  This was a good idea, I’ll give him credit for that.  Because ladies and gentleman, there is some sick shit going on in the world of skin.  One of the women in front of me kept turning her head away from the slides.  Until the doctor chastised the room for getting queasy at the slides.  “What are you going to do in my office? You guys need these slide so you don’t pass out in front of the patient.”

I needed the presentation for my own benefit as well.  During the last 20 minutes of slides we saw some of the different forms that rashes can take: ichthyoform,  herpeform, annular, targetoid, guttate, paisley, stripes…  I think I said, “Cool” 3 different times, which would also be inappropriate in a clinic setting.  Good thing we had the slides.

Not that it was close to our least comfortable slide presentation.  It wasn’t.  I think that might have been either the female or male reproductive system.  The male reproductive system slide show was like a how-to lecture on torture.  The most alarming picture was the one of the cystoscopy.  Cyst is a word used in medicine for almost any bag of fluid.  In this case they were referring to the bladder.  The scope part of the word refers to examining with a viewing instrument.  So in the front of the room, bigger than me, was a diagram of a tubular camera, inserted through the end of the penis, threaded up the urethra and into the bladder.  It was like the premise of a Stephen King novel

The female reproductive slide show was also a little  difficult to sit through.  It was something like Georgia O’Keefe meets Gulliver’s Travels.  In the front of the room was an artfully rendered sketch of a vagina the size of a fishing boat.  That sketch was followed by another gigantic black and white sketch of the same subject matter.  It was weird.

I love this class.

Global Warming, Financial Ruin and Sacrifice

In an effort to help with global warming, obesity, financial meltdown and the general malaise around the world, I have a few suggestions.  They will hurt some people a little; some a lot.  But they’ll help everyone in the long run.  Here are my austerity measures, which I’ll be submitting to our new president in January:

  1. A 2-5 year moratorium on the manufacture of the following items.  These things exist in surplus in the world and are not a necessity.  Some people will be unemployed for a while during the transition to recycling existing supply, and making things which are really  useful, but in the end the value of the items in my attic and garage as well as thrift and dollar stores everywhere will go up due to restricted supply.
  • Baseball caps
  • Coffee mugs (possible exemption given to coffee shop mugs)
  • vases
  • key chains
  • paperweights
  • porcelain and plastic figurines
  • Restaurant happy-meal toys
  • plastic flowers
  • car air fresheners
  • plastic vampire teeth
  • dog and cat toys
  • Fabric softener
  • all plastic jewelry
  • Styrofoam clam take-out containers
  • Styrofoam coffee cups
  • Styrofoam heads
  • Styrofoam Christmas balls
  • all glass Christmas baubles
  • Disposable razors
  • Lamps
  • Bath salts
  • Scented candles
  • disposable chopsticks

2.  Rationed gas supply, or alternatively, higher gas prices.  Personally I like the idea of rationing, at least while we’re at war.  Anything to get people out of their lonely cars and into carpools, buses, bikes and feets is headed in the right direction.  This will be good from all angles, but it will be hard.  Some people will have to insist that their neighborhoods put in sidewalks, or at lease paint lines so people can walk safely (the people who used to make Styrofoam heads can do some of this work).  They’ll have to re-zone so it’s possible to open a store in a neighborhood.  Ever wonder what It’s like to walk to the store?  It’s cool.  It isn’t an accident that shopping districts became islands impossible to get to without getting in your car.  It was planned that way and it can be un-planned.

3.  Meat rationing.  Again, this has multiple good angles.  Eating lower off the food chain is good for everyone and everything with the possible exception of a few cowering beans.  Harvesting of local wildlife such as squirrels, pigeons, prairie dogs and citified geese would be allowed with some restrictions on method and areas.  Also, serious consideration should be given to eating otherwise euthanized animals from overflowing  animal shelters.  This isn’t going to sit well with a lot of people, but what are we doing with all that meat right now?  Is it ethically better to throw away animals we kill?

4.  Refined sugar and corn syrup rationing.  This will be good for everyone.  Except maybe the sugar people.  But they can start growing hemp (which should be encouraged) and rebuilding bridges.  I didn’t say it wasn’t going to hurt, but in order to get better, it has to hurt.  If you think you support the troops for example, but can’t go without your Snicker or Sunny Delite while they sweat in the desert, get over it.

5.  Free birth control and/or family planning advice made available to anyone who wants it, worldwide.  I love babies.  Just like I love sugar.  It is untenable however, to continue to increase life expectancy on the far end of life, and fertility and infant survival on the near end, but not increase landmass (on the contrary, look at coastlines, the land is getting smaller, not bigger).   The only sensible thing to do is reproduce less.  I want a million grandchildren.  I do.  But it’s wrong.

6.  At a bare minimum, the health insurance industry needs to have all paperwork regulated  and streamlined.  A quarter to a third of our medical care expenses are dedicated to paperwork and administrative costs.  People who currently juggle forms this can look for work at the Goodwill, or designing, decorating and building new power lines.

7.  Here are some things people who are unemployed could be re-directed to do:

  • Grow hemp
  • Build mass transit
  • Rebuild bridges and roads
  • Teach kids
  • Teach Adults English
  • Plant trees
  • Go to nursing school
  • Build energy transmission systems
  • Build renewable energy infrastructure (solar and wind)
  • Insulate homes and buildings
  • Take care of old people
  • Decorate power poles
  • Clean up brownfields
  • Re-process toxic electronics
  • Organize the jeans at the Goodwill by size.
  • Sort and organize coffee mugs, baseball caps, figurines, etc for resale
  • Clean my basement, put my photos in albums

I hear you saying, Lisa, this all sounds fabulous, where do I sign up?  But you haven’t quite seen how it helps with our financial troubles.  My financial theory is a little complicated and will require another post.

I’m sure I missed some moratorium items or some new employment ideas, feel free to add to my list.

Bus Vignettes

When I got onto the bus at Selby and Grotto, I didn’t expect to see anyone I knew.  By that I mean no one that I knew outside of the bus context.  I knew the driver, I knew the teacher looking guy with the driving cap, and the teacher looking lady with the peter pan collar, and the false-eyelash lady, and the mother and son painting duo.  But only as part of my running bus narrative.

But one of my tenants got on the bus.  He’s a nice buy.  Big and quiet.  Musician, works the night shift at the hospital.  He’s taking some evening classes, so we’ve run into each other a couple times on the bus lately.  We said our pleasantries and even got off at the same stop to connect with our  next buses.  His was on the other side of University Avenue, quite possibly the busiest street in St. Paul, and he also crossed Pascal Street to get to his stop.  I went to my little stop and paced around.  I’m a pacer.  Rarely do good things come from standing still.

I noticed that my friend was still on my side of University.  He was leaning over a bike which was held by a different guy.  The second guy was a Mexican looking guy with a pretty nice bike.  Something wasn’t working and the two of them were talking about it.  This went on for another couple minutes.  A young college aged white kid sped by my stop and  crossed towards them.  He zoomed past them about 40 feet, then he stopped.  He turned around and went back to the other two.

Now there was my tenant,  a mixed guy with fair skin and kinky hair; the Mexican guy with the broken bike;  and a white kid, all crowded around this bike.  The light had now cycled through 6 or 8 walk cycles, and none of the pedestrians was moving.  They worked together trying to figure out why the back wheel wouldn’t move on this guy’s bike.  They gestured a lot, and it looked like maybe the Mexican guy didn’t speak English all that well.

My tenant was a pretty nice guy.  I could see him trying to help a stranger.  But when the second biker rode by and stopped and turned around, I  wondered if there was some sort of unwritten code of ethics that bikers follow.  He was young.  The age where I sort of imagine kids to be really into themselves and not much else.  But he stopped, turned around and tried to help.

They never did get the bike going.  The Mexican guy had to cross the street holding the back end of the bike up, which is an extreme pain in the ass because the only wheel that hits the pavement is the one which is attached to the steering wheel.  That wheel wants to wander all over the place, and if you are lifting the back wheel up, its awfully hard to steer the front of the bike.  They all went their separate ways, but now they’re stuck in a nice cozy humanity spot in my brain.

Bus Vignette Bad

I was on the 16, I had asked Andy come and pick me up at the White Castle on University and Lexington, instead of waiting on the 21 and having him pick me up at Selby.  Three people got on the bus.  They were all middle aged  (that is to say somewhere between my age and old) and black.  Two of them had bags and a pizza between them.  They had just run hard to make the bus and they were drunk.  The third got on the bus without me taking much notice of him or her.

The two drunk people were arranging their stuff in the three aisle facing seats in the front of the bus, pizza box, bags, backpack, finding their transfers and panting.  The man greeted everyone in that way that people who’ve been drinking have, sort of a forced casual tone (“Hey, hows it going”).  As he bent forward to dig through a bag, he began to topple over onto me, almost falling into my lap.  I put one hand up and planted it in the middle of his back.

He looked around surprised. Then he looked at me.  “OOOh.  I’m sorry, you’re a very beautiful woman.”  I said “That’s alright.”   and rearranged my stuff.  He leaned over to me and said, “I didn’t mean to get in your space.”  I said, “Don’t worry about it.”  He said, “You don’t need to be arrogant like that. S’pecially around black folk.  Cuz I don’t give a fuck. That’s right.”

I have to remember he was drunk.  But in my defense I really wouldn’t have cared if it was his black ass or his white ass that landed in my lap.  It wasn’t a race thing.  But he must have had lots of pent up anger, because I’m actually really nice, and I behaved myself even when dude totally encroached on my personal space.  How can I deal with that?

It made me mad.  Really mad. Who the hell was he to bring race into the picture?   It brought up all my pent up angers at people like him.  The groups of young black teenagers who dare me to honk as they spread out slowly across the street, and the black punks who smashed my neighbor-boys’ pumpkins last year (and made them cry), and the drunkards who stumble and piss all over the sidewalk in the summer… as they all danced in my head, for just a second I understood why he was angry.

But I behaved myself.