Archive for April, 2009

Nice places to walk the dog – No. 5

OK so it was pissing down, and it looks a bit grey. And it’s really just a walk along a cycle path round the artificial lakes that form the monstrosity of the great white elephant of a construction plan that is Craigavon.

But still, it has potential. And it was a Sunday afternoon so the walk was required.


About half way round the dog ran into some company. Two big chocolate brown labs who thought the skinny black lady dog (we call them bitches in the technical terminology…) was lots of fun and they went off frollicking through the mud. All three wanted to play “chase the tennis ball” which made everything a little more complicated.

Five minutes later they were still walking with us. As they were 15 minutes after that. It seemed to be the most fun they’d had in a long time and showed no sign of leaving. Wee liz was not amused at the behaviour, and kept trying to wave them away, with no success.

When we got to the car and opened the car, one of the terrible twosome was straight in to the boot and lying down like this had been his boot his whole life.

So if you’ve lost two quite pleasant chocolate labs then they were still in the car park in Craigavon Lakes when we left.


Beauty dies young

I am kind of a baz luhrmann fan. Not the whole sunscreen thing. That was just weird.

Magnolia was in the top 5 for quite a while till it got squeezed out by eternal sunshine of the spotless mind.

having said that i have never seen romeo and juliet. Neither have i read the shakespeare version or read it in school.

i know the story – it is embedded in so much of what surrounds us.

So here in Dublin on a rainy night i watched it. And bloody hell it was good.

From the dialogue, to the religious icons, to the swords, to the cross dressing, to the angel wings and swimming pools, to the cars, to pete postelthwaite, to the whole shebang.


Despite knowing the ending through and through i still watched it somehow hoping she’d wake up in time.

the tragedy and melancholy appeals to virtually every bone in my body. and there’s a lot of them.

Pictures of you part 4

It’s 2am.

I am now realising why my room was so cheap. overlooking the late club with the pumping beats. Sleep will not come easy.

To close the course we had a game of emergency medicine jeopardy. Being Americans this kind of made sense. Except to us, who were mainly foreign national doctors who had no idea of the rules. There was free candy – and proper candy like Hershey bars. Can’t say i’m a fan.

Good course all the same.

Armed with such knowledge I’m ready to go back and diagnose the life out of my patients. At least i would do if we had a machine. Anyone want to lend us 30 grand or so?

Managed to meet up with the office who was down on some clandestine interview or something. Enjoyed a pint and some food while it pissed down outside.

I know this sounds kinds of dubious but I spent this evening meeting up with someone i met over the internet.

See i told you that would sound dodgy.

I know Zoomtard vaguely through the blog and always fancied meeting up for a pint. Seeing as i was in Dublin…

[Brief interlude – drunken irishmen appear to be spilling each others blood outside the room]

(… and Maynooth is in Dublin in my geography) then we should meet up. After a series of emails I ended up in a room in Maynooth with a NASA astrophysicist and some post grad students talking about the meaning of life.

It was immensely enjoyable as you can imagine. Random is always enjoyable.

This was followed by a party where i managed to meet people i vaguely knew from back home.

I even talked to people i’d never met and may even have talked to girls at one point. If i wasn’t careful there may even have been dancing.

This is quite frankly exceptional in my book, having spent the past number of months either miserable, working or hiding and avoiding having to meet life head on.

I may even have had fun – otherwise known as enjoying myself. It has been a while.

Anonymous fun is always so much more fun – i don’t know these people, they don’t know me – why does that make it so much easier? I dunno.

Nice bunch of people i must say. If i say that the hospitality was good then that probably means i’ve been hospitalised which is not quite what i wanted to say.

Pictures of you part 3

Today was lots of naked models and jelly.

I imagine that probably got your attention.

the naked models were slightly hairy medical students from RCSI and the jelly was the slightly bluish ultrasound gel needed to conduct ultrasonic waves in the MHz range.

Lots more Americans turned up to do the lectures and run the workshops. All armed with Apple macs that refused to work with any of the local projection equipment. Though they persisted and in the end it was worth it. I don’t say it often but they were really nice power point slides with little moving ultrasound images and all.

For the course they’d flown over what looks like the whole department of emergency ultrasound from St Luke’s Roosevelt hospital in New York.

Yes that’s right they have a whole department of emergency ultrasound. We don’t even have an ultrasound machine and they’ve got a whole flipping department.

We got to poke the medical students to our hearts content and used the machines to help put large needles in little jelly blocks to simulate central lines.

Socially, courses are always weird.

There’s a lot of people finding their space in the crowd – the conversations usually start with where you’re working and then the all important what level you work at. This helps you find your level in the caste system of medicine.

Having finally graduated to the middle-grade of doctordom (i like that word) there’s a certain acknowledgment of seniority – if not necessarily competence!

We have all kinds of ways of talking ourselves up a grade by throwing in stories of exams and previous jobs and that time you diagnosed the phaeochromocytoma simply by shaking hands with the prime minister’s wife.

All this makes us feel good about ourselves as our spouses, family or friends have no idea what kind of miraculous super humans we are and so it’ good to get together and stroke our own egos a bit.

No one wants to appear stupid on a course. It’s like the first day at a new school. It’s all bravado and bullshit.

Unfortunately it was pissing down by the time i was leaving so further plans of dandering round dublin were scuppered so i headed straight back (via a bookshop and 30 euros of purchases…) to the hotel and dived into the episodes of House I’d brought along for such an occasion.

Adventurous i know.

Pictures of you part 2

Dublin is ridiculously expensive. Or at least it feels like that. I payed 3 euros for a take away coffee. I’d expect some kind of cocaine fueled, caffeine based beverage for that kind of money. Fancy coffee is off the eating out menu. Good thing I brought my own coffee with me – that’s how addicted I am.

So far we’ve had teaching from a dry, rather sardonic guy from offally who is like something straight out of a father ted script. And a couple of americans. One of whom struck me half way through to be rather like David brent. I’m hoping this will pass with time.

Not the most intellectually stimulating day covering mainly basic stuff that I’ve been doing for years. Tomorrrow will be a lot more fun when we get to play with the USS machines and get to pretend we’re radiologists.

After the course ended I went on a rather long dander round dublin. Started with St Stephen’s green and sat for a while contemplating the daily life of a duck then dandered past what looked like the fancy bit of Dublin.

All cities seem to have one of these. The bit where they keep all the embassies and government buildings and it’s all high gates and security guards and blackberries.

They do keep the museums there though they were all closed. Though I may have a go at a gallery tomorrow if I get the chance.

Galleries are an even odder experience than the museums. In the galleries I just dander round with the headphones on trying to look cultured while listening to Bruce.

From there I walked a while further finally finding myself in temple bar for the first time in my life. Lots of quite nice looking dark, grotty pubs but filled to the brim with Europeans and Americans sipping pints and deciding half way through and deciding that no, they definitely don’t like guiness.

There was even a guy playing Irish twee on an acoustic. Though I make it sound horrible I stayed long enough to get through most of the Irish times.

Dinner was in an oddly combined mexican/Italian restraurant called “from Mexico to Rome”. Decent feed all the same.

Through the wonders of facebook I’ve ended up at an open mix type gig at a pub in Dublin. A guy I went to school with is meant to be playing. I say meant to be cause I’ve been here for a good hour and a half now (making the best use of theo free wi-fi with all this blogging so I’ve not been bored) and the girl playing is a lot prettier than jay ever was and I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably not actually him.

I think I may even, for the first time in my life, have been stood up. Not the worst of experiences so far anyhow.

Pictures of you part 1

I’m down in Dublin on a course. It’s the type of thing us professional types are meant to do.

I always seem to he in Dublin either for exams or courses. It’s a nice excuse to get down here. Dublin feels like a proper city. Like London but with more, you know Irish people in it.

It has public transport that seems to work, nice parks and even buskers to boot. When you’re from portadown all this is kind of exotic.

The fun of the journey starts with the train. I love the train. You’re probably aware of that. A long train journey on a sunny day through ireland is about as hood as it gets.

Unfortunately with the currency the way it is it’s full of southerners with bags full of shopping. All crossing the border to save themselves a fortune.

They also tens to be the more wrinkly members of society as translink give the golden oldies free rail travel.

Not that any of this is a problem. It just means you have to share thetl table with a few other people. This is a bit of an exception when it comes to norhtern Irish public transport. There’s usually (literally) one man and his dog on the train.

Several acadmeic papers on implementing clinical decision rules later I’m in Dublin.

The hotel was the cheapest I could find – cheap in Dublin being a whole different concept. Considering all that it’s pretty flippin decent.

I walked my usual walk. Past the custom house, down the Liffey, down o’connell street, through temple bar, onto at Stephen’s green to watch the ducks (I have a bit of a thing for ducks), back down grafton street and into a pub to watch one of the best footy matches I’ve seen in a long time.

Nice places to walk the dog – No. 4

Tollymore is one of the childhood haunts. Second only to Castlewellan in the idyllic caravan filled weekends of my youth.


More than ever Me and Simy would go back to being in our single figures and riding bikes and feeding ducks.


After a feed of chicken and roast spuds we hit the road on the nicest day of the year. No doubt you were engaged in some sun-drenched activity yourself. When the sun shines in Northern Ireland I don’t want to be anywhere else. All the thoughts of emigrating slowly slip away. It happens about twice a year as you’ll see


Everyone else in Northern Ireland appeared to be here too, mainly in the car parks with their portable BBQs and small children and canines. There were rows of people carriers with their boots open and 5 Live blazing the football while the grannies in the cars next them frowned severely.


The dog noticed none of this. The dog notices nothing when the tennis ball is in view. It is hypnotic in effect Other dogs turn up and sniff her bits and she’s not the slightest bit distraced. It makes her appear well trained and disciplined.




April 2009