I’m in the hospital today, as the on-call senior resident, but since it’s Labor Day weekend, it’s been pretty quiet thus far. This week, though, has been completely hectic — the job of a senior resident is to walk all the various other members of the team through how to be an inpatient doctor, and this early in the academic year, it’s a very hands-on job. I have four interns on my team, and only one of them has been on the inpatient teams before; the other three have spent all week getting their sea legs, figuring out how to handle taking care of patients (most of whom have a multitude of active issues) while also participating in the day-to-day educational activities of a pediatrics residency. I also have a fourth-year medical student on the team, who essentially is supposed to be able to function at the level of an intern, and three third-year medical students, who are brand-new to the entire clinical medicine thing. It all makes for busy days, from making sure that patients get the care they need to making sure the interns and students get the teaching and help that they need.

Fortunately, we have a few extremely interesting patients in the hospital right now that have kept the curious and intellectual side of my brain in the game as well. On my team, there’s a girl whose kidneys decided to stop working for no apparent reason, a boy with Holt-Oram syndrome, and a young woman who is slowly recovering from Stevens Johnson syndrome. On the other team, there’s a boy who appears to have an incredibly rare bone and fibrous tissue disease, as well as an infant awaiting transplant for his inherited liver disease. When I get home at night, I’m enjoying reading about the diseases, and associating actual patients with the syndromes that I learned about in school. It’s how I learn best.

Well, it’s that time of year again — time for me to return to the general inpatient wards and manage the kids who’ve been admitted to the hospital for your more standard (read: non-oncologic) pediatric issues. This time, I return as the senior resident, which means that instead of micromanaging (“are you using your incentive spirometer every 10 minutes like we asked you to?”), I get to command a team of interns, subinterns, and medical students taking care of 15-20 patients. It’s a fun job, since without the micromanagement, I have a lot more time and energy to devote to thinking about bigger-picture issues and entire disease processes. I also get to see more volume — more kids, more ways of coming to medical attention, more pathology, and more interventions.

As a result, though, my volume here may decline a bit for the next four weeks — but I hope to be posting more about what’s going on inside the hospital than I normally do.

I’m not sure if the essay was meant to lead to its own validation (and I wouldn’t put it past that sneaky bastard Anil), but there may not have been any more effective a way to prove the point of this essay than the development of this thread.

I’m nearing the end of redesigning the second bedroom in my apartment, a room that had a roommate in it up until two months ago. I repainted it, wired it up so that I can move all my computers in, and bought some new furniture; the last thing I needed was a new radio for the room (so I can listen to my jazz station while I’m on my computer). I was ready to buy a little shelf system when Shannon intervened, mysteriously telling me that there were some little birdies out there that were going to satisfy my radio need, and that if possible, I should just be patient.

Yesterday, the birdies came forward — it was my brother and his fiancee, and they got me a Henry Kloss Model One table radio. I love this thing — it’s beautiful, it sounds terrific, and it’s perfect for the new room. If you’re in the market for a new radio that looks classy and sounds even classier, I recommend it. Now, maybe for the bathroom… (Oh, and thanks Noah and Lauren!)

I’m now using the MTAmazon plugin to provide the “currently reading” information over there in the sidebar. It’s neat — all I have to do is put Amazon’s ASIN for the book I’m reading into a file, and the plugin generates the HTML with the cover image, title, and author using Amazon’s XML data. I’m aware that this isn’t nearly as cool a use of the new XML programming interface as something like Amazon Light, but it’s useful to me, and that’s sorta the point of the user-accessible interfaces, isn’t it?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

— Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

You see, government can hand out money, but it cannot put hope in people’s hearts or a sense of purpose in people’s lives.

— President of the United States George W. Bush, yesterday, August 23, 2002.

I think it’s phenomenally sad that our President feels that the various levels of government in the United States can’t give people hope or help them feel purpose in their daily lives. Can you imagine someone like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, or Franklin Delano Roosevelt uttering these words? To me, this is a mark of a failing on a truly overwhelming level, that where a President understands his role in helping the ordinary citizens of his country achieve their hopes and dreams, and feel that their existence has meaning.

Today’s one of those days when I can’t believe I got paid, since instead of spending it in the hospital, I got to chaperone 24 renal clinic patients to Six Flags Great Adventure. I was fortunate enough to escort the older kids around the park, which meant one thing: rollercoasters. Each one was better than the last, and before leaving, we got in two rides in the front row of the Nitro. We’re talking 230 feet up, and then an 80 mph near free-fall (at around a 75 to 80 degree angle), with six more hills and three or four corkscrews. It’s easily the best rollercoaster I’ve ridden. (Of course, that’s a record waiting to be broken if I’ve ever heard one.)

For the first time, I’m annoyed at Google.

Moving this site from Manila to Movable Type meant moving it to another machine, which meant that the IP address for q.queso.com needed to change. There’s a way to handle the address change gracefully, and help web clients (browsers, indexers) find your new machine quickly — for the technically-minded, a few days before the move, you set the time-to-live of the nameserver entry to a shorter duration so that nameservers are sure to grab the changed entry as soon as you make it. Alas, it turns out that Google’s indexing system doesn’t play by these well-established rules. As a result, when a site changes IP addresses, Google continues to try to index at the old address, and misses any changes to the site for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. And what I’m seeing here is that the machine running my old site continues to get hits from Google’s indexing spider, while the real updates here on the new machine are ignored. Bleah.

At some point, when my brain is less scrambled, I need to dig into Paul Graham’s Plan for Spam (kindly pointed out by Jim Roepcke). He describes a pretty cool algorithm that he’s using to filter email and sort out the unsolicited crap, and it looks both effective and pretty neat. (Besides, how can any method that uses tokens, hashes, and a corpus not be superbly effective?)

Sorry about the sporadic downtime here tonight — I’m trying to upgrade a component of Apache, and having a bitch of a time doing it.

It seems to me that we’re in for at least a month of “shocking” pieces by CNN about various and sundry things seen on the recently-discovered al Qaeda tapes. Why do I think that? Because almost all the stories state that there are 64 of the tapes, and so far, CNN is revealing about a tape or two a day to us. On Monday, we had the tape showing dogs dying by poison gas; on Tuesday, we learned about Osama bin Laden’s declaration of war on the west. Yesterday was the day of urban terrorism training, and today’s revelation is the instructional tape on the assembly of explosives (released late yesterday on their “War on Terrorism” pages, but now carrying the lead on the website).

The sad thing about this is how up-front CNN is being about drawing out the news of the tapes. In the right-hand sidebar of most of their al Qaeda-related pages, there’s a box detailing the schedule for future stories about the tapes, and they even have a “Caught on Tape” gallery that breaks down the news by the day that it was released. The entirety of the coverage feels manipulative, and well-timed to coincide with the time when waning interest in the news coming out of the Middle East is crossing paths with the rising interest in the anniversary of the events of last September.

If you’re the kind of person who’d dig a cool-as-all-hell view of the former site of the World Trade Centers, you might want to check out Alison’s view from last week.

For those who are interested in reading the release notes for the upcoming service pack to Internet Explorer 6, they just so happen to be posted. (They were in a deep directory on the Windows Update site for a little while, but once NT BugTraq members found them, they were further hidden. Of course, someone downloaded a copy first…)

Images from my new camera are now up, in a slideshow that’s (appropriately) named First Images with a StyleCam Blink. I have to admit that, despite the obvious lack of comparison to my CoolPix 995, I’m pretty pleased with this little toy. It comes down to one thing, a bit of wisdom that my friend Phil told me: no matter what the quality, a camera that’s with you is worth infinitely more than a camera that’s sitting on a shelf at home.

In doing a little web research into a photo caption this evening, I stumbled across a great site documenting the history of King’s College in New York City. (King’s College went on to be renamed Columbia University, and was the fifth chartered school in the British Colonies.)

The site is not that unique a find — there are plenty of other websites that go into a good deal of the history of colonial higher education — but discovering it comes at a great time for me, since I’m reading City of Dreams. It’s a neat novel about five or six generations of a family of physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries as they wind their way through eighteenth-century life in what’s now New York City, and the amount of historical detail Beverly Swerling goes into (all factually correct, as far as I can tell) is amazing. I’m finding it hard to not keep grabbing my Encyclopedia of New York City to find out more about places and people mentioned in the novel, and I am loving forming mental images of the island of Manhattan in the 1700s. There’s also a good deal of medical history in the novel, which obviously isn’t diminishing my interest.

Both of these works — the website about the history of King’s College, and City of Dreams — are worth checking out.

All of the third year pediatrics residents have to do one major presentation, a talk about an interesting case that we’ve seen, including a discussion of the literature that’s relevant both to how the child presented and the disease the child ended up having. Mine is tomorrow, at 8:00 AM. Wish me luck!

I have to say, it’s damn cool that it looks like Fred Thompson, former attorney and minority counsel of the Watergate hearings, former movie actor, and current U.S. Senator from Tennessee is going to be the next New York District Attorney on Law & Order. Given Dianne Wiest’s uninspired performance over the past two years, it’ll be nice to have someone come in who has the chutzpah that Steven Hill had.

Interestingly, today, someone decided to sign up for their Western Union website account using a fake email address in one of my domains. Did she not realize that doing so means that I have total access to her account, including being able to transfer money to myself on the credit card that she stored in her account? Hell, I could just post the account login somewhere, and let others do their thing. Really, it’s one of the dumbest things this woman could have done. I guess it’s lucky for her that I have a sense of ethics.

I tried calling the woman on the number that she used in her account, but it’s “disconnected or no longer in service.” I changed the password on the account, and changed all the password hints, too, so that she’ll be forced to use another one. I can only do so much…

I’m not quite sure why, but the idea of being able to post via my cellphone’s short message service intrigues me a bit. Of course, the more I look at that page, the more I realize that it just describes generic posting-via-email; there’s nothing SMS-specific about it. (The author, Raffi Krikorian, even added better protection against hacking.) Of course, there are times when posting via email wouldn’t be such a bad feature to have…

Lately, I’ve noticed that the water in the big tank behind my toilet has occasionally been leaving a stain around the inside of the bowl. I decided to get one of those little drop-in thingies for the tank today, but now, every time I pee, I immediately harken back to the commercial tagline for Glad sealable sandwich bags: “Yellow and blue make green!”

While doing a little reading about the curfew law mentioned in this MetaFilter thread, I found some other strange laws that are remain on the books in the fine city of Houston. Here are some of the things that are illegal:

And, in addition, the curfew law in question seems a little hinky to me, specifically section 28-173(d), which sets up a special exemption for religious events. Why should religious events get targeted government approval? (Oh, wait… it’s Texas we’re talking about.)

Yesterday morning, in Lenny’s Bagels:

Couple walks in, comprised of an all-American man and a fairly pretty woman, both in their mid-to-late 20s.

Man: This is the kind of place where they’ll put whatever you want on your bagel.
Woman: Mmm-hmm…
Man: They’ll put butter, cream cheese, tuna salad, cold cuts… whatever you want.
Me: (thinking to myself) What other kind of bagel places are there?
Woman: Ummm… I have to tell you now that I don’t know what a bagel is.
Me: (jaw drops onto floor)

The kicker of it all was that the woman had as Brooklyn an accent as you can get.

In general, I’m of the opinion that there has been way too much written about the so-called phenomenon of weblogging, and that part of the reason is that the medium is still at the stage where people are kicking its tires, trying to figure out if weblogs add value to the world. That’s not to say that some of what’s written isn’t valuable, entertaining, or even needed; on the contrary, given the relative newness of personal web publishing, there is a real value in well-reasoned pieces that try either to familiarize readers with the medium or to help writers understand those things which make weblogging unique, powerful, and an entirely different way of reaching readers.

As a good example of the latter, the latest issue of A List Apart brings us Mark Bernstein’s “10 Tips on Writing the Living Web.” Mark focuses on the dynamic nature of weblogs (or, better yet, of any site that represents frequent personal input and guidance), and gives ten good rules that aim to help writers both understand that dynamism and shape their creative energies accordingly. It’s the kind of essay that I’ll bookmark and send along to anyone who asks me about weblogs; it may be the best example yet of capturing the reasons why weblogs have become such a success. It’s definitely worth a read.

stylecam blink

I just got my latest toy, a StyleCam Blink, made by SiPix. It’s the littlest digital camera you’ve ever seen — less than two inches square — and has a 0.3 megapixel CCD (that’s 640x480) with enough built-in memory for around 100 images at that resolution. It’ll also take a rapid series of pictures and assemble them into an AVI, and will function as a webcam when connected to your computer. Best yet, it’s under $40, which is what made me give in and buy one for playing around. Fun fun!

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding myself entertained by the controversy that sprung forth when Tiger Woods revealed that the things he’s paid to say and the things that he wants to say are two entirely different things. I also found myself thinking a bit about whether or not someone like Woods has a responsibility to take a stance against exclusion based on race and gender, and the more I thought about it, the stronger I felt that he does. Precious few people find themselves in a position to say something that reaches as many ears as his voice does, and part of my core belief system is that I feel that we all have a fundamental responsibility to try to improve the world around us in whatever ways we find ourselves able. Tommie Smith and John Carlos held their fists up over their heads on the Olympic medal stand in 1968, nearly a hundred musicians put together Live Aid in an effort to improve conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, and the NFL took the the Super Bowl away from Arizona when the state refused to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. day; all found themselves able to bring about social change due to their stature. Perhaps its time for Tiger Woods to do the same.

Once again, Wired has an awesome magazine issue out. Articles not to miss: the progress that’s been made in brain implants that allow blind people to see; a team of former MIT students who put together a revolutionary team-based approach to beat casinos; and the work being done on gene-based vaccines.

Back in the beginning, Wired cut its teeth on having total geek cred, with in-depth stories on the fringes of intellect and technology. As the Internet economy took off, though, the magazine spiralled downward as it succumbed to the pressure to be yet another dot-com profiler. Back in April, I noticed that things had changed for the better; it’s nice to see that the magazine is still on track.

One one hand: I’m flattered to be on the reading list for UC Berkeley’s upcoming class on intellectual property weblogs. On the other hand: I’m embarrassed that the selection the professors have chosen is this trainwreck of a thread. I’d like to think that I’ve spent a good amount of time discussing actual issues of intellectual property — music sharing, website design theft, software licenses and enforcement — that are probably more on-point to the site; the recognition comes for a flamewar, though. Alas…

My pictures from last week’s walk of the High Line are now up.

high line montage

Today, I learned that RedHat wants to charge me to get security updates.

Will Charles Heston’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease force him to give up his guns? Two media sources — Slate’s Bryan Curtis and the New York Daily News’ Rush & Molloy — quote the same California attorney general spokeswoman to come to opposite conclusions. It’ll be funny to watch if Heston takes up the cause of the right of demented people to bear arms…

There’s some good news out of the medical community: it appears that doctors are finally heeding the warnings and are prescribing less oral antibiotics to kids. (What warnings, you ask? It’s pretty well-known that overprescription leads to bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics; two months ago, the CDC identified the first Staphylococcus aureus that is completely resistant to vancomycin. That should scare you. A lot.)

The move is complete — you’re now reading a Movable Type-run site. I fully expect there to be a few things that I’ll still need to fix around here, but for the most part, the major functionality is in place. I’m loving the new system, and you can soon expect to read a little bit about what it took to make the move.

If you find anything broken, please feel free to leave a comment here, or drop me a line.

(Oh, and TrackBack is pretty much enabled throughout the place, so if you want to use it, feel free.)

Today was a good day, for after work, Alison, Yanda, and I walked the High Line.

the high line

Thanks have to go out to Rosecrans Baldwin; his photo essay a few months ago reinvigorated my interest in the abandoned freight line, and Alison’s trip to New York turned out to be the perfect time to finally climb up and explore a bit. (Update: the photo collection from our trip is now available.)

I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what would be added to the functionality of TrackBack by changing it’s implementation to XML-RPC. Too often, stuff like this gets overengineered, and then become so much more difficult to implement on systems other than the ones on which they originate; the beauty of TrackBack’s current setup is that it’s completely trivial to implement elsewhere, since all the new system needs to do is be able to request a web page.

I’m leaving town again, for a long weekend with Shannon in, of all places, Alabama. Last week at camp spoiled me — I need my fix of swimming, reading, and lounging, and one of Shannon’s cousins has just the right place to visit.

When I get back, item one on the agenda will be finally making the move to Moveable Type. I finished the script to export from Manila, I conjured up a CSS-only layout that replicates the layout here, I figured out all the mod_rewrite rules to make references to pages in Manila find their way to the right MT pages, I wrote a new picture show script, and I got the new search engine running — there’s not much left to do but import the entries and flip the switch!

See you all soon…

For those of you who live in a town that has the Citibank “Live Richly” ads plastered all over things, Tim Carvell penned a pretty funny “interview” with Citibank, with the bank’s words made up entirely of the moronic quips from the ads. (Joseph Lamport observed the same silliness over at Salon back in February.)

It’s a little ironic that OpenSSH, a product that most likely provides security for more computers on the Internet than any other, was distributed with a Trojan horse over this past week. The CERT advisory is here; if you downloaded the server code at anytime over the past week, you’d be wise to check to see if you got the infected version.

Ah, the wonderful things that people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can do…

I think it’s pretty cool (geek cool, but cool nonetheless) that I live in a country that keeps track of all the asteroids that run the risk of colliding with Earth. (I discovered this JPL website when I was looking for more info on the two asteroids — 2002 NY40 and 2002 NT7 — that have gotten a lot of news playtime the past few weeks.)

I’ve always been intrigued by honeynets — networks of computers that are set up as attractive targets for hackers, so that the hackers can be monitored, and ultimately, improvements can be made in network security. It seems logical that, in this day and age, honeynets would be extended to wireless networks; Cisco and SAIC have done just that, and I’d imagine that it’s just a matter of time before wireless security gains a little bit of, well, real security as a result. (And I love the term David Sifry has coined for these intentionally-vulnerable networks: honeyspots.)

It’s totally weird when two previously-separate branches of your life collide, specifically when it’s in the form of one of your patients being the subject of a thread on a community website. Sorta cool, but also totally weird.

I’m back, and while there’ll be a more comprehensive wrap-up of my week at oncology camp, I have to say this about the last week: SpamAssassin trapped about 1500 email messages, and out of all of them, only one was something that was worth reading. There really isn’t a better testament to the program than that.