Another week, another fellowship program looked at and added to the list of places to drool over. In all honesty, I’ve now been to six programs, and four of them are so amazing that I only have a faint glimmer of an idea of how to begin processing them into a final rank list. Like I’ve said before, though: I consider myself pretty fortunate to be in this position, and I’ll probably be happy at any of the hospitals.
The other morning, while I was getting ready for my interview in Houston, one of the morning news shows had on a bereaved widow of the September 11th attacks, talking about her goal of preventing anything from being built on the former site of the World Trade Center towers. I immediately dismissed her quest as pretty unrealistic; later in the day, though, my brain returned to the idea, and for the past week, I’ve been batting around the reasons why it would never happen.
New York City has a history of impermanence. Limited by land, but unlimited by goals and desires, the city is caught in a quandary — the need for growth without the room for growth. To deal with it, New York continually demolishes the old and builds in its place — the glorious old Penn Station was replaced by Madison Square Garden, the Singer Tower made way for One Liberty Plaza, the Polo Grounds became low-income housing, the Murray Hill Reservoir was drained and the New York Public Library arose. Sentiment lives on in the pages of historical texts, while the real estate moves on.
Good or bad, this quality is part of the very fabric of this city. To not rebuild would be against all that New York has stood for in its history; to return the land to use, to begin establishing roots in the ground of Battery Park that will give rise to the return of daily life, would keep true to the spirit of the millions who have passed through this island over the centuries and would serve as the ultimate monument to those who lost their lives that day.
I had a great experience on my flight tonight. I was in the second-to-last row, and for most of my flight, I put on my noise-cancelling headphones, listened to a little Chuck Lives, and buried my head in geekreading. About 30 minutes from NYC, my rowmate asked me about the book I was reading, and we began a nice conversation — until I finally noticed the obnoxious guy behind us. My rowmate explained that he had been blathering on for the whole flight, each boast bigger than the last, and each statement more laced with sexual undertones than the last. By landing, there was a clan of us in the last four rows who were all rolling our eyes, gritting our teeth, and within inches of beating him about the head and neck with the in-flight magazine.
Which then led to quite a surprise on all our faces when he stood up, and we noticed a well-thumbed copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People in his back pocket.
There’s a thread over at SXSWbaby that’s worth a read. It began with a complaint about the ostensible male whiteness of the panelists (huh?), and led to a discussion about disadvantage and access to the web on a more general level. And despite the predictible reactionary blather, the thread also resulted in a few terrific contributions by people who I have grown to respect immensely over the years, and who I finally met at SXSW.
I could not be happier about Megnut: the column. Why? I think for the same reasons that Meg herself states — that it’s the natural evolution for a person who writes well in snippets, but clearly enjoys (and has a lot to offer in) the longer, more researched format. (It doesn’t hurt, of course, that her first column expresses a lot of the feelings that I had about the panels at SXSW this year but wasn’t able to express.)
Does anyone know any history behind the domain name atwola.com? It’s owned by AOL Time Warner, and every time that you go to a bunch of sites (CNN and Barnes & Noble among them), banner ads and whatnot are loaded from a host named ar.atwola.com. Every time my browser hangs while trying to load the data from that machine, I try to figure out where the domain name comes from. What does “atwola” mean? Why aren’t they just using some aol.com hostname? I don’t get it.
Maybe I just have too much time on my hands.
Buried in MSNBC’s article about today’s cut of travel agent commissions by American and Continental is the following quote: “An official with one of the largest corporate travel management firms accused airlines of seeking an unfair hidden price advantage over travel agents.” Am I missing something, or does the word “unfair” not really fit here? Of course the airlines should have a price advantage over travel agents — they’re selling their own freakin’ product!
Generally, a producer can sell its own product cheaper than a reseller can; that’s why resellers usually have to add value, and hope that consumers recognize the added value (in the case of travel agents, examples would be more thorough fare searches or entire-trip planning) and are willing to pay for it. Travel agencies are understandably worried, though; with the disappearance of the commissions, and the ease with which people can plan every aspect of their own trips online, the ways in which agents can add value are shrinking.
I’m finding it very hard to understand why this story appears on the BBC News website. It’s about a 15 year-old Welsh girl who appeared to have some form of chronic fatigue-like syndrome; the article claims that it was due to her dental braces, which “played havoc with the teenager’s immune system by effectively blocking passages which allow vital fluid to circulate around her brain and body.” Yep, I shit you not— the braces blocked passages which allow vital fluid to circulate around her brain and body. Huh? (Clue #1, by the way: not a single quote from an actual medical source.)
I have always thought of the BBC as a pretty damn respectable news organization; I guess the bar’s not as high as I had figured. (Thanks to Alwin for the heads-up on the link.)
I added it to my ever-evolving page of SXSW 2002 people and links, but I felt that Anil’s meandering list of non sequiturs deserved its own front-page treatment, as well. The man’s a master of simultaneous understatement and exaggeration; he also is the master of the quasi-hidden references, and for what lies beneath, I couldn’t be happier.
If you’ve ever had to use FedEx’s godawful web-based shipment system, you’ve probably come close to putting a stapler through your monitor. You’ll probably also be interested in knowing that the fine folks at 37signals feel the same way, and as a result, have put up a proposed redesign of the shipment form as a promotional for their work. Take a look; even if you’ve never used FedEx for online shipment prep, it’s worth seeing how simple interfaces can contain complex logic and good functionality.
So, given that I got about 12 hours of sleep last night (while on call!), I spent most of today writing a new system to view comments here. Below each home page post, there’s a new “Comment” link (replacing the old Discuss link), which will take you to a pop-up window where you can jot off your remarks about whatever drivel I’ve written. You still have to log in — or create an account, and then log in — in order to participate; that’s something that would take a little more effort to work around with my software.
I still have a few things to tweak (like letting you log in from the comment page, rather than jumping to the login page and then back), but I’d be happy to hear any comments about what people like and don’t like with the new system.
Derek has the audio from Fray Cafe 2 up — it’s worth a listen if you’ve got some time on your hands. I wish that it was available in some non-RealAudio format, though; it seems like the perfect thing to throw onto a CompactFlash card and listen to with my MP3 player on the subway. (I also wish that my voice didn’t sound so much different to the outside world as it does inside my head!)
Any resident will tell you that there are a few days that are particularly memorable in a given year of their training. There’s the first night on call on a new service, and the first time that a patient dies; there’s also match day (when it becomes official that an entire new group of medical students has been chosen to become interns at your program, allowing you to advance another year).
Pediatrics residents have another added day, though: the day that it becomes clear that winter has ended. On this day, the frenetic pace of admissions and discharges melts away, and — gasp! — there are empty beds in the hospital. Likewise, we have a chance to sit down once or twice, and maybe even learn something about our patients. While I was in Texas, winter ended here in New York, and I couldn’t be happier.
I doubt that my hospital’s unique in the fact that we have an intranet; I hope that we’re unique in that the home page of the intranet website has recently starting making extensive use of the <blink> tag. (Of course, all that does is make me eagerly anticipate the introduction of a few <marquee>s in the coming weeks.) Really, with the apparent glut in jobs in the website production world, you’d think that they could hire someone who knew something — anything — about visual design; I guess not.
There’s a new entrant in the free wireless network space, Sputnik, and they’re just interesting enough that they could shake things up. They make software that will turn any computer with wireless and network access into a wireless gateway, and includes a firewall and authentication; their apparent goal is to ultimately produce boxes that are just plug-and-go and would serve as “picocell” access points to a free global network.
Interesting concept, with a lot of problems but also a lot of potential.
And, in addition to the link page, I’ve finally gotten around to putting up my SXSW 2002 photos. They’re sort of random; there are whole blocks of time that I appear to have forgotten that I had my camera with me. Sorry ‘bout that!
Hey, look! Yet another feature that Manila users could implement on their own if only Userland would give us a macro that the Radio people have had pretty much forever. (Wow, actually, there are two such features in one day!)
SXSW was a total blast this year, despite the fact that I had to leave early for a fellowship interview. This page is just some scribblings, mostly as a reference for myself — people I met, pictures that other people took, presentations that people did, that sorta thing. It’ll evolve as I find more and remember more.
People: (in no particular order)
These are all people that I met at some point (whether it was during kickball, or while imbibing in the lobby of the Omni). For most, I was just happy to finally put faces to their names; it was awesome to get to know quite a few of them a little more than that, and start some good friendships.
A lot of people have already put up their photo pages from SXSW; these are the ones that I’ve found. I’ll update the list as I find more, or as people put up their pix. (Of course, if you find some that I’ve omitted or not found yet, feel free to mail me with the links.)
- My photos!
- Fray Cafe 2 (Derek’s baby)
- Matt (of A Whole Lotta Nothing)
- Jish (of Jisu.nu)
- Brad (of BradLands)
- Mike (of What’s On It For Me?)
- Ben (of Alt Text)
- Pamela (of Easily Amused)
- Justin (of Links.net)
- Leia (of Random Thoughts From A Large Head)
- Paul (of Onfocus)
- Meryl (of Meryl.net)
- Carrie (of Rogue Librarian)
- Dana (of Maybe I Am)
- Wesley (of Hack The Planet)
- Thomas (of Vanderwal.net)
- Jessa (of jessajune)
- Jessica (of ThinkDink)
- Geoffrey (of Inkblots Magazine)
- Leonard (of random($foo))
- Mark (of Chim Chim)
- Min Jung (of Brain Dump)
- Jared (of Entropy)
These are links to presentation-type stuff. Some of it pertains to panels and conference stuff, other links are to artistic things that happened at night. It’s all good.
These are just things that people wrote on their sites — either during SXSW or after they got home — that I liked.
- Meanderings and non sequiturs, by Anil
- SXSW Interactive 2002 Scrapbook, by Brad — it fit into photos and wrapups, so I put it in both!
- Post-SXSW observations, by Jish (MP3)
- Ten Things I Learned at South By Southwest 2002, by Kevin
- What Ani would have read at Fray Cafe 2, had it not been too crowded for people to get in, by Ani
- Snarky Xrated pSeudo Webprofessionals, by Min Jung
- The Cool Crowd at South by Southwest, by Keri
At my first sight of the National Guardsmen in at Laguardia Airport in New York last Friday, I suddenly realized that this trip is my first time on an airplane since September 11th. While on the plane, I tried to keep it out of my mind — that shudder of the airframe was just turbulence, that man standing up and walking to the front just needs to use the restroom — but it was always bubbling just underneath the surface. Changing planes in Dallas, though, it wasn’t hard for it poke right up into my consciousness, since all the National Guardsmen here in Texas are carring their M-16s right across their chests, the American terminal was empty (where it used to be full of people waiting to meet flights), and things just felt palpably more…. tense.
Today’s the six-month mark after the attacks, and it’s fitting that I’m traveling; it’s one way to force me to think about what happened, make it a little more personal, and remember everyone and everything that was lost that day. Nobody can seriously say that America was innocent before that day, but in looking back, it’s clear how much more innocent we were, and how much has changed in our daily lives. Thinking about the past six months is still sobering, it’s still thought-provoking, and it still has the ability to completely overwhelm me.
I’m sitting in the Austin airport right now, leaving SXSW early (insert big frowny face here), thinking about the last panel that I sat in on today. Steven Champeon talked about non-traditional web design, but it wasn’t design in the sense that everyone talks about — he was talking about true design, from the back end all the way to the user experience, including the structure of a site, the storage system that holds the site’s text and image and whatnot, and the way that that raw data flows from that system out to the user as a palatable document.
At some point in the 75 minutes, I started wondering if I was outgrowing the system that I’ve set up — Manila, with a few custom extensions and whatnot — and how I could go about both setting up a new one and get my data into it. Userland seems to be making a clear move towards Radio, with features that aren’t in Manila (and that it isn’t clear will be in Manila), but that I want in order to implement some of my ideas. Maybe it’s time to start programming my own; we’ll see.
I’m having a great time in Austin, but alas, I’ve got to leave early tomorrow, to make my way to Houston for another fellowship interview. I’ll try to catch up here when I get to my hotel tomorrow evening; there are some good pictures hanging out on my camera, and some cool events to talk about.
Danger, Will Robinson; there’s a fake Microsoft Security Update making the viral email rounds. You’d be well-served by not running it (since Microsoft never, ever, ever sends out security updates as attachments), and best-served by running a good antivirus app with frequent and comprehensive updates.
I hate when people in the hospital abuse the fact that I, as a pediatrician, am much more interested in making sure that the right thing gets done than they are, and shirk their own jobs knowing that I’ll come along behind them and make sure that some family or child doesn’t get hurt by their brevity.
Last night, I spend an hour talking to a family about their five-week-old baby, answering their concerns and walking them through what was done to their child. What was the problem with this? The child was a neurosurgery patient, and as a pediatrician, I’m definitively not the right person to be doing this. But the neurosurgery resident spent no more than two minutes in their room — most of which was spent suturing a leaking wound that he initially insisted couldn’t have been an issue — and the parents got the sense that he felt overwhelmingly bothered by their questions. So as the pediatrician covering the neurology service overnight, I went by to see how they were doing, and ended up leaving an hour later.
(This morning, I was glad to learn that at least a little good came of it all. The chairman of pediatric neurosurgery came by our morning rounds to ask “who’s Jason?”; it turns out that the family had told him that the only person to actually spend time with them had been me, and that while the rest of his staff didn’t represent him well, at least there was a pediatric resident who made up for it. That made me smile a little. )
Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, has announced that on March 11th, the Tribute in Light memorial will start shining. It will be 616,000 watts of light, pointing upwards from just next door to the original site of the World Trade Center towers; it’s a derivation of the Phantom Towers idea that graced the cover of the New York Times Magazine the week after the attacks.
I can’t stand it when I go to a website to get information about some computer product, click on Products, and then am asked to choose whether the thing I’m looking for is for home or office use. (Example of the day: Hewlett-Packard’s handheld and PocketPC page.) Does this distinction have any meaning for most computer products? Are there really explicit criteria that differentiate a home handheld computer from an office one? What about desktop and laptop computers? Antivirus software?
The very nature of the products means that any of them can (and will) be used in pretty much any environment, and as such, trying to shoehorn them into meaningless cubbyholes makes users less able to find the information they need, and ultimately, less likely to spend their money on them.
I have a ton of CF cards, because of my camera; I want a good MP3 player that can use ‘em, so that I don’t have to keep track of a billion kinds of different media cards. I currently have a Frontier Labs Nex II, but it’s buggy — it randomly freezes, and skips a lot when I use MicroDrives. I have kept the data page for the e.Digital MXP-100 bookmarked, but haven’t pulled the trigger, mostly because I know nothing about it from actual users. And Anil tells me (possibly tongue-in-cheek) that the only obvious choice is an HP Jornada.
Does anyone have any ideas?
It’s a well-established (and well-known) fact that the risk of chromosonal defects (like Down’s syndrome) increases with increasing maternal age. A Spanish research lab is now reporting that the same fact holds true for increasing paternal age; it’s the first time that this has been demonstrated. (That sound you just heard was a billion men startled by hearing their own biological clock ticking for the very first time.)
How many people really wish that this Microsoft Knowledge Base article really existed? It’d be nice to be able to email it back to certain groups of people…
Oh my, what a good entry. I hope that the dog learns to trust someone, and if she has puppies learns to trust them to that someone, too.
I’m back from Boston, after what felt like a whirlwind trip — on a train at 7:30 PM Thursday, arrival at 11:45 PM, immediately to sleep, awake and at the hospital by 9:30 AM, interviewing until 5:00 PM, dinner with an old friend and his girlfriend until 8:30 PM, and then back on a train, arriving back at Shannon’s at 2:00 AM Saturday morning. Then, tack onto the end: back awake at 7:45 AM, in my own hospital at 9:00 AM, on call overnight and until 10:15 AM this morning — I’m beat. But the interviews went really well, and I’m starting to feel excited about the entire process of becoming a fellow. (Of course, it’s not until July 2003, so there’s a bit of time between now and then!)