Thursday, August 31, 2006

Beep beep it's me - on the blogroll.

Another day, another blogroll. Beep beep it's me - cogito ergo sum has added me to her athiest/agnostic blogroll. Click on the link and check her out. It's one of the most colourful blogs around - and it's on Blogger! I reckon she's really been hitting the html around in her template. It takes about thirty seconds for the posts to appear, so be patient.
OK, I really am off now on my hols. See you next week!

We're all going on a summer holiday

I'm going to be out of touch for a week. It's my summer holiday at last, so you, my dear regular readers of this blog may have to wait till I return. I say may, because there is a chance I might have access to computing technology, in which case I can do an 'on location' post. If not, then I'll return to the blog next week, refreshed, revived and rejuvenated.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Do you speak ancient Egyptian?

You'd be surprised at how much ancient Egyptian you know. Most people know the word Ankh which is the looped cross. It's actually supposed to be a sandal strap. Then there's the names of the gods: Osiris, Isis, Anubis, Horus, Set, Thoth, and Ra. And don't forget the pharoahs, Ramesses, Akhenaten, and Tutenkhamun. You'll probably feel that I've exhausted your supply of ancient Egyptian vocabulary. Not so! The following are words in English that have the same or similar meanings in ancient Egyptian.

Ebony, road, hut, him, Mary, amen, bane, bint, puss, nature, bee, cow, emir.
Nwt is town backwards. The dead are incarcerated in a carcet (coffin), Nob is gold, which is a noble metal. The chem in chemistry and alchemy comes from the name for ancient Egypt which was Khemet. And the word for beer is Heneket, which is not that far removed from Heineken.

Friday, August 25, 2006

New 'Agenda for Change' policies

Dress code
It is advised that you come to work dressed according to your salary. This enables us to assimilate you into the correct banding for your perceived status. We will recognise only three categories of attire:
a. If we see you wearing Prada shoes and carrying a Gucci bag, we may assume that you are doing well financially and therefore do not require a high banding.
b. If we see you wearing clothes by George or M&S that are neither ostentatious nor poor quality (Classification: Just right), you are right where you needed to be and do not require a higher banding.
c. If we see you dressed poorly, you need to manage your money better, so that you may buy clothes by George or M&S and move into category b. which as stated does not require a higher banding.

Sick days
We will no longer accept a doctor's line as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

Personal days
Each NHS employee will be entitled to 104 personal days per standard calendar year. These are known as Saturday and Sunday.

Stress days
Each NHS employee will be entitled to 260 stress days per standard calendar year. These are known as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Toilet use
To ensure Government targets are achieved, savings will be made in the amount of time NHS employees spend in the toilet. A strict three-minute time limit will be observed. At the completion of this three-minute period, if the cubicle has not been vacated, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, and the cubicle door will spring open, triggering a high megapixel digital camera. After a second offence, both pictures will be posted on the NHS website in the Chronic Offenders' Bogroll.
Anyone pictured smiling at the camera will be sectioned under the NHS mental health policy.

Thank you for your loyalty to the NHS. We are here to provide a positive employment experience. In order to facilitate this, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternations, input, output and throughput should be directed elsewhere.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Requiescat in orbe Pluto (1930 - 2006)

(Sob) Pluto is no longer a planet. Not as defined by international astronomers anyway. There was a resolution to include it, plus Charon and Ceres in a pantheon of twelve. That's been scrapped. A planet is now a body pulled into a roughly spherical shape by its own gravity that has cleared its orbit round the sun (except of course for any moons it has collected in the process.) So that means an octad of planets: four rocky dwarves and four gas giants.
Still, all is not lost; Pluto now becomes the first, and nominative, member of the class of objects known as Plutonian bodies. And there's already more of them than there are planets.
The status of Pluto is really a fuss over semantics. It doesn't change in the slightest the structure of the Solar System. We still need to send a probe to study it. It's still by far the closest Kuiper belt object. It can tell us a lot about the formation of our System and its workings.
And now the textbooks will have to be rewritten.

My multicultural childhood

I grew up in a multicultural household. My parents have got a big flat, so they used to let out one of the rooms to postgraduate students from Edinburgh university. Over the years, we had lodgers from all over the world staying with us, from countries such as: Egypt, Gilbert Islands, Switzerland, Pakistan, Kashmir, and Afghanistan. I learned about Islam from an early age; about prayer mats facing towards Mecca, and about not eating pork. One of our lodgers is a senior engineer in his country's power industry, and another became his country's education minister. With this upbringing, you can understand why I hold a favourable viewpoint towards Islam.
The mosque in Edinburgh serves lunches. For a small charge, you can partake of some tasty Indian cooking in the middle of the day, if you've been shopping. If you don't have the good fortune to live in Edinburgh, why not check out what the mosque in your area is doing for the community, and go along. The only way to break down barriers is for you to do something.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The application of leeches

In this week's Nursing Standard, Jane Bates talks about receiving a nursing dictionary from the 1950's, and she mentions a little used ophthalmic treatment:

'One is straight from the horror films: for acute glaucoma, relief was given by applying leeches to the eyeball.'

Now I actually have in my possession Ophthalmic Nursing by P.Garland which was published in 1966. It has a whole section on The application of leeches.

'Leeching may be ordered for the relief of pain and congestion in cases of acute glaucoma and acute iritis. It is difficult to assess the efficacy as the treatment is so often combined with other measures, but patients with recurring attacks often welcome the apparently unpleasant application.'

The leech should actually be applied to the orbital ridge, and should be prevented from accidentally biting on the eyeball! The leech takes between 20 minutes to an hour to feed. They should never be pulled off:
'A little salt put around the spot where they are attached will cause them to vomit and so lose their hold.'
Explanation to the patient should be sensitively timed:
'He should not be told until the tray is brought to the bedside, and the jar of leeches will be kept out of his sight and also that of other patients.'
There's even a list of equipment:
'Leeches, Mackintosh cape, test tube plugged with wool, dissecting forceps to handle the leech, unscented soap and a small bowl of water, sweetened milk, salt and teaspoon, Carbolic 1 in 20 in a kidney tray, receiver, swabs, square of lint, eye pad, small pressure pad, large wool dressing, two inch bandage, adhesive strapping.
The top pillow should be protected by a jaconet pillow case.'
And let's not forget who'll be carrying out this procedure:
'The inexperienced nurse may feel apprehensive of handling a leech.'

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Of manx and men

My wife has just brought back an ornamental manx cat. That's the breed that doesn't have a tail. They originated on the Isle of Man about 300 years ago when a cat was born with the genetic abnormality of having no tail. This can happen in other breeds of cat, but because Man is isolated from the mainland, the mutation was able to flourish. It is an example of a macromutation, where a single change in the genetic code has a significant effect on the phenotype, ie. the non-appearance of the caudal vertebrae.
And when has this happened before? The characteristic that separates apes from monkeys is this same lack of a tail. Could the very first ape, the ancestor of gibbons, orang-utans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans, have been the offspring of a monkey that was born with a mutant gene for taillessness? Or was tail loss the result of incremental shortening over many generations?
I have never seen this issue addressed in any of the books on human origins that I have read, yet the absence of a tail was an important prerequisite to our upright stance. If anyone out there can give me answers, I would be most pleased if you would let me know.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Qui custodiet custodies?

Did the US government pressure British police to arrest the plane bomb plotters a week early? Apparently the plot was not imminent, and the police felt another week was needed to secure the evidence, but the Americans got jittery, and asked for the arrests to be made last week. That's the jist of the MSNBC report. Click on the link above to find out more. You could wait and see if it's reported on the news, but I wouldn't hold your breath.
Thanks to Strawhat (08/18/06 3:23pm) at Echidne of the Snakes for the link

Pete's a real winner

Pete Bennett has won Big Brother 7. Well done Pete!
I've mentioned him before in two previous posts, here and here, only because he has Tourette's. (Don't for one second think I'll be covering BB8!)
He's going to use the prize money to pay off his mum's mortgage (aww, wee sowel), and the rest to promote his band Daddy Fantastic.
If the music is good, there is no reason why Pete and the band shouldn't be successful. Tourette's should be no bar to performance. Indeed, the very act of performance helps keeps the symptoms at bay. That's what I've found whenever I go on stage - and I've been on stage a lot. The worst bit for ticcing is actually the few seconds before you go on stage. I always have an explosion of tics, just to clear myself. Once you're performing, however, once you're immersed in the role, or the song, your subconscious takes over, and the performance becomes your entire being.
Pete has brought Tourette's screaming and swearing, right into the mainstream of our culture. It means that now, when people ask why I'm shaking my head, I can say Tourette's, and they know what I'm talking about.
To me, Pete is a hero. He deserves his good fortune, and I wish him every success in the future.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Chow time

Have you seen the picture of the hybrid mutant beast on AOL news? It was found on Saturday in Maine, apparently having been hit by a car while chasing a cat. How do they know it was chasing a cat, if it was found dead?
There seems to have been a distinct lack of interest in the creature, since it was left lying for five days before somebody took it away for examination, by which time the skull and internal organs were missing. And yet there is a photograph of the head. What's happened to the skull?
I've checked Snopes, to see if it's a hoax, but they've got no mention of it.
They say it's probably a dog - a chow, or a chow-mix. I agree.
If you look at the photograph, you'll notice the ears are small, the snout is short, and the dentition looks strangely...human? There's a blade of grass annoyingly in the way, blocking a view of the canine tooth.
If there were such things as werewolves, that's what they would look like.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

RCN election for the webwise

I've just received voting papers for the Royal College of Nursing presidential election. There are nine presidential candidates, and four for Deputy President. Each candidate has a manifesto and history, and it's now a case of me reading through them and deciding who do I want for President. I don't know any of them. All I have is what's written on the accompanying literature.
The interesting thing, in this age of the internet is how few netlinks there are. I've counted three, out of thirteen people!
Maura Buchanan has an e-mail address. David Harding-Price, who's running for D-P, has a link to his charity's website mattdotcom . Only Loretta Bellman has a website devoted to the campaign, which adds to the information given in the manifesto.
Having a website gives a candidate an electoral advantage. Not an unfair one, because everyone else has the opportunity. It displays a familiarity with information technology which is important in a position like this.
There's more to winning an election than having a website, but it might sway some of the votes.
If I was running for office, you can be sure I'd mention this blog. Reading it gives you an idea of my (sparkling) personality. It's a pity none of the candidates have a blog. Maybe next election?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It's official! Today, through the post, I received my ophthalmic nursing certificates. I finished the course a year ago, and I knew I had passed, so I could, with clear conscience, call myself an ophthalmic nurse. But without the certificates, I still felt incomplete. Now, everything has changed. I am no longer in limbo. The certificates have been delivered, and a new ophthalmic nurse walks the streets of Edinburgh.
There's no awards ceremony. I don't get to wear a robe and funny hat. I guess this post will have to be the public demonstration of my elevation to the realm of specialist nursing. Gaudeamus!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

(Blog) roll me over in the clover

Another day another milestone. I've been blogrolled today, not once, but twice! Two nursing blogs from America : Emergiblog and Nurse Ratched's Place, have done me the honour of including me on their roll. I haven't worked out yet how to install a blogroll on this blog. When I do, they will be first on it. Until then, click on the links above to get to them.

Monday, August 14, 2006

No censorship, you wankers!

They say that they're not going to allow Pete from Big Brother to appear live on daytime TV. That's discrimination! Pete has Tourette's. He can't stop himself shouting obscenities. But because British children must be protected from hearing bad language before nine o' clock at night, they'll record all interviews with Pete, and wait till after the watershed to show them.
This is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Pete has done more to raise the awareness of Tourette's in his weeks in the House than any other person. For that, he is a hero. Children now know that the kid in the playground twitching and cursing away is a person with a neurological condition, and not someone to be persecuted because they are different. Those kids can now see they're not alone. They can point to Pete, and say proudly: "I've got Tourette's!"
What the media have to remember is; Pete doesn't swear! He tics! Okay, the tic is saying "wankers!", but it's no more swearing than me tossing my head, or doing a V-sign.
How can we call ourselves an inclusive society, if Tourette's sufferers are banned from live TV?
Suppose we had a politician with Tourette's - would he be censored?

Saturday, August 12, 2006


You learn something new every day. I've just enabled the word verification for comments. I've been having a little trouble with spam, and it's starting to get annoying. Word verification should stop the automated spam, and allow only genuine comment through. If that doesn't work, I'll have to Moderate, which delays your comments from appearing. &£*%)! spam!

Where nurses blog

I've finally found where all those nursing blogs are hanging out. Remember in an early post how I said that American nursing students have to write blogs? Well tonight I've been plowing through them. Once I've digested them, I'll throw you a few links of those I particularly like.
The thing with blogs is, that once you've found one, you've got a whole blogroll of related blogs, and each of these has a blogroll...

So cybernauts observe, a blog
Hath other blogs upon its roll
And these have further still to write 'em
And so proceed, ad infinitum.
(apologies to Swift)

Friday, August 11, 2006

I went to Hogwarts

I went to Hogwarts.

(Say what?)

Let me elucidate. I grew up in the port town of Leith, which is now a district of Edinburgh. The school I attended was Leith Academy. At the time I was there, this was a school that was spread over several buildings. There was the primary school, the main building, Norton Park annexe, which was a mile away, next to the Hibernian football ground, and the Lochend annexe which was just across the road from the main building.
As you know, JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, lives and writes in Edinburgh. What you might not know is that before she wrote Harry Potter, she did a short stint as a supply teacher at Leith Academy.
By the way, this was long after I left school.
Now you will remember from the book and the film that the central stairwell has stairs that, if the student is not careful, will lead him in the wrong direction. Guess what, that's the Lochend annexe!
The central stairwell has two criss-crossing flights of stairs, but you've got to be sure to take the right stairway, or you end up on the wrong floor.
So there you have it - I went to Hogwarts.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Mike the Mad Biologist found this one:

There's a brand new antibiotic waiting in the wings. It's called Platensimycin, and it's effective against Staphylococcus Aureus in mice. It works by inhibiting the production of fatty acids in the bacterium, by targeting FabF/B condensing enzymes (whatever they are), and this eradicates the infection. It's broad spectrum, so it looks as if it just might work on Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), as well as Vancomycin-intermediate S.Aureus.
They're still only in the animal testing stage, so there's a long way to go before it comes on line. If it's as good as tests indicate, then it's fantastic news for world health. It's like Gandalf and the Riders of Rohan coming over the summit at the Battle of Helm's Deep, just when we had our backs to the wall, and those S. Aureus orcs just breaking through.
This doesn't absolve anybody from continuing with good handwashing technique though. It's a very good way of breaking the chain of infection that anyone can do.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Beast of the Borders

My friend Mark has gotten himself into a world of bother over a tongue in cheek job advert he ran in Hawick. He was looking for a part-time manager with "the guts to kick someone between the legs as we evict them and their two-year-old child onto the street." -ouch!
Borders Council have slammed it as "despicable."
There are two sides to every story, and before you pass judgment, please check out Mark's blog called appropriately enough, for his take on the events.
They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. I hope it's true in this case. It's certainly raised the profile of Caduceus Investments Ltd. And maybe the reputation of being a hardball will help in his line of business. He'll probably get his rents paid on time.
I've been meaning to tell you about his blog for some time, and this seems to be the perfect opportunity. It's quite an entertaining insight into how a property company operates. And now Mark has been crowned the Last of the Red Hot Capitalist Landlords. (Waxed moustache and top hat optional).

PS. The part-time manager's post has been filled. Sorry, if you fancied a bit of nut kicking.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Nor iron bars a cage

It looks like America is heading slowly towards a fascist state. Now they're building concentration camps. They'll be for terrorists and illegal immigrants, of course. People you'd want off the street and kept where they can't harm anybody. That is until there's another attack on the homeland. That's when martial law will be declared. You see, they know they're going to declare it at some point in the future, so it makes sense to have the facilities built beforehand.
If you disagree with the US government, you'd better do it quietly once martial law is declared, because criticism of the leadership in a time of war is treason, plain and simple, and you'll end up within these walls
But why am I worrying about this? I don't live in the US, and I've no intention of visiting it soon. Well, the state of America is a glimpse of what life here might be like in five years time. Britain and America are currently enjoying a Bonnie and Clyde existence, so American influence is strong. British citizens can be easily extradited, if the Americans want to put them on trial, and the Labour government wouldn't want the Whitehouse to think there were some elements of British society who were disrespectful of US policy, would they?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pax Narcotica

Before I start, I want to state, categorically, that I don't do drugs, I don't smoke, and I only drink alcohol in moderation.
The classification of drugs bears little relationship to their danger, based on physical harm, social harm and dependency. Certainly Heroin and Cocaine are at the top, but so is Alcohol, which is legal. Ecstasy and LSD, both class A drugs are much further down the scale, being even less harmful than tobacco!
I am in favour of an eventual liberalisation of drugs. I feel it will happen, and the time is right to start planning for it. I am not calling for an instant declassification of drugs - that would be premature because the culture is wrong. At present, drugs are seen as a big evil, responsible for many problems in our society, and the use of them, is, due to the legal sanctions, necessarily furtive and secretive. Only when people stop seeing drug use as a moral issue can change take place.
Drugs are natural. Cats have catnip. Elephants get tipsy on fermented berries. We have alcohol, cannabis, opium, khat and magic mushrooms. Used in moderation, and with guidance, they can induce pleasant feelings, and interesting sensations, and alleviate unpleasant emotions. Used wisely, they can be a blessing rather than a curse.
This is the cultural change that needs to be in place before drug laws are relaxed. These drugs will be with us always. We must come to terms with their existence, and use them to benefit society. Reclassification is a very good first step.