A! Joke!

Okayokayokay! So!

What’s the funniest cardiac medication?

Metoprolol!!!

Get it? Get it? Metopro-LOL!!!

How is metoproLOL any funnier than labetaLOL?

Uh…………..

Or atenoLOL, for that matter?

Yes, but….

CarvediLOL is also pretty funny.

But that’s not the…..

So’s esmoLOL.

Come on…….

And equally funny are acebutoLOL, betaxoLOL, bisoproLOL, nebivoLOL, carteoLOL, penbutoLOL…..

Okay, now you’re just showing off…..

……pindoLOL, levobunoLOL, nadoLOL……….

Are you quite done?

propranoLOL, sotaLOL, and timoLOL…..

::waits::

…metipranoLOL?…..

::sigh::

Fine.

What’s the funniest CLASS of cardiac medication?

……………Beta blockers!!!

That’s really not a very good joke. You have to make the leap from “beta blockers” to knowing that beta blockers as a class tend to have names that end in -lol, and then make another jump to the whole LOLcats thing….and by the time you get there, you’ve just spent way too much energy to laugh.

……Well……it’s sure not funny NOW………….

You’ve still got the muffin joke. Maybe you should stick to that one.

But that’s a timing joke! It’s just not MADE to be told in written form!

You just worked overnight again, didn’t you?

…….Kinda…………….

It’s showing. Go to bed!

::sigh:: I’ll be here all month, folks. Tip your waitresses.

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Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 9:43 am  Comments (6)  

New, Well-Written, and Entertaining.

I, for one, welcome our overlord protectors.

After Ever After

No, no. It is human custom to tremble when greeting a great and benevolent leader.

This is joy-trembling.

You will see much of it.

Published in: on March 25, 2011 at 10:57 am  Comments (3)  

Judson Roberts – Codex Blog Tour

Hiya, party people! This is Judson Roberts!

Judson Roberts is a former police officer, federal agent, organized crime prosecutor, defense attorney, and private investigator (and obviously changed jobs far too many times). He lives in Houston, Texas, but hopes to move to the Pacific Northwest in the near future. He is the author of a historical fiction series called the Strongbow Saga which is set in the 9th century world of the Vikings.

And now….you get an ice cream cone!

Okay, just kidding. You know by now that the interview comes next.

Tell us something about you that would surprise us.

Actually, maybe it wouldn’t surprise your readers, but my many years working in various capacities with criminals has made me more suspicious than the average person. For example, when I originally received the email inviting me to this blog, which was signed only “Dr. Grasshopper,” I ran some searches to try and figure out who it was from.

Did you know there’s another Dr. Grasshopper blog? And on his MySpace page (which I mistakenly thought was yours), he has really lovely “friends,” like someone who runs an escort service. Fortunately, someone revealed your secret identity to me.

(I feel compelled to insert: snickersnicker heeheehee.)

What’s the best writing advice anyone has ever given you? What’s the worst?

In a sense, the same piece of advice was both the best and the worst. I wrote my series—and it’s not finished yet, there are two more books to come—as adult historical fiction. When my (now former) agent first undertook to represent it, although she specialized in children’s and young adult books, she was extremely enthused about my first book and assured she could handle adult fiction, too. She was unable to sell it as such, though, so persuaded me to let her try selling the book as a young adult novel, based on the fact that the protagonist is fifteen years old when the story begins. That proved to be very good advice, in that she was able to secure a contract with HarperCollins for three books, with a option clause giving them rights to buy the rest of the series.

It proved to be very bad advice, in that HarperCollins did publish the books as children’s/young adult novels, put covers on them that made them look like romance novels, then failed to follow through on any of the supposed marketing/promotion efforts they said they’d do for the launch of the series (my agent said she’d never seen the hardback launch of a new series by a major publisher get zero coverage before). So not surprisingly, hidden away in the children’s section of bookstores, the series never found its true audience.

To take a different twist on the question, what should have been the worst thing to happen in my writing career is now proving to be the best. Because the books were not selling, last year HarperCollins took the first two—Viking Warrior and Dragons from the Sea─ out of print (for some reason, they’re currently still hanging on to the third). That used to be one of the worst things that could happen to an author.

But now that the rights to those books have reverted back to me, I’ve republished them as adult fiction, with new covers, though Amazon. Currently they’re available only as Kindle e-book editions—new print-on-demand paperbacks will follow soon—but sales of them have already taken off as adult readers have discovered them and are falling in love with the series.

So the series that once was dead, and was considered a worthless property by its original publisher, is rising again.

What is the biggest obstacle you face when it comes to your writing?

Having the self discipline to make myself sit down at the computer and get started writing.

How do you overcome it?

With difficulty.

How much research do you do on a subject you are sketchy on?

I research quite extensively. My goals in writing this series, besides the primary one of telling a really good, gripping story, are to be as historically accurate as possible—I weave my fictional protagonist’s story into a number of actual historical events—and to give readers an appreciation for what the Vikings were really like.

Although many today, if they think of the Vikings at all, believe they were crude, violent barbarians, in reality they had a fascinating, highly developed culture that in many ways was similar to that of the ancient Greeks of Homer’s time.

I’d love to hear whether you advocate wholesale slaughter in your novels or see it as a sign of weakness?

Wholesale slaughter—I hadn’t thought about it before, but I guess there are two of those in my first book, Viking Warrior. It was a violent period, though, and the ones in the story are true to what happened back then—one, in fact, is an actual battle that occurred in England between Vikings and Saxons, and the other is based on a type of attack that occurs repeatedly in the old Viking sagas, which were a major research source for me. Both slaughters act to set the story’s major elements into motion. Without them, the story would not have happened.

Thanks, Judson!

Hey, everybody! Judson is also going to hang around for a bit, if you want to ask him questions or talk about his experiences. He may even glare at you suspiciously before answering!

Join us in the comments section!

And, as always, be sure to visit the official Codex Blog Tour page for more interviewey goodness!

Published in: on March 22, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

On Becoming Temporarily Nocturnal

Good morning!

Ever ask yourself: How do doctors ever manage to sleep? (Of course you do. What else could you possibly have to think about?)

Uhhh, Japan? The Middle East? Getting a job so I can pay my bills? Whether or not a country can stay great without investing in its critical infrastructure (education, transportation, innovation, etc?)

………..I’ll just pretend you said “nothing”. (I ain’t touching those topics. I’d rather see what wiser people have to say about them.)

I mean, it’s not doctors aren’t needed 24/7. After all, people don’t just magically stop being sick at night, on weekends, or on holidays. Although, come to think of it, that would totally rock. But, alas. Sometimes people get even sicker during the WHEN hours (Weekends, Holidays, Evenings, Nights), for a variety of contributing reasons.

::Sigh:: I’ll play your silly game. So how can doctors ever manage to leave the hospital?

Well, the glib answer is, “They don’t.” (Well, at least, they didn’t. That’s why new doctors were initially called “resident physicians”. And often it’s still true, despite the fact that it’s now technically illegal due to work hours regulations.)

But the real answer is: Either people take turns working overnight (the shifts are about 30 hours long), or everyone takes turns doing a couple of weeks of a shift called “night float”. Basically, a couple of people take responsibility for taking care of all of the patients in the hospitals so the doctors working during the day can go home and get some rest and something to eat.

My program does night float, and tomorrow, I start doing my time. I’m lucky that it’ll only be for two weeks; some of my friends got rather screwed over by the schedule and had to do up to six weeks!

There will be two night float teams when I’m on, each covering half of the Medicine patients in the hospital. Night float teams in my program consist of an intern and a resident. The resident takes care of most of the overnight admissions, and the intern handles at least one admission and all of the calls from the floors. (Doctor, this patient’s IV infiltrated and I tried three times to put another one in and now I need you to come do it…….Doctor, this patient wants to talk to a doctor……..Doctor, this patient’s blood pressure is too high……….Doctor, this patient’s blood pressure is too low………….Doctor, do you still want me to give this medication?…………..Doctor, this patient’s family member wants to talk to you RIGHT NOW………..Doctor, this medication is ordered for a push and I’m not allowed to push medications………Doctor, this patient has a fever and you have come immediately to do the fever workup because we don’t draw blood except for three specific times during the day………..Doctor, that patient that wanted to talk to you earlier is really upset ’cause you didn’t come talk to him immediately, and now he’s signing out against medical advice and you have to come talk to him RIGHT NOW……… Doctor………. Doctor……….. Doctor………. All………. Night……….. Long……….)

If there’s a code, everyone drops everything and runs to that patient’s room. If a patient decompensates, the night float team responsible for that patient tries to keep them alive until the morning when their regular team (who actually knows them) can take over. In the morning, the night float teams pass over the patients that were admitted overnight to the accepting team.

Gah, I’m getting an ulcer just thinking about it. (It’s probably going to be the most stressful two weeks of the entire year.)

Anyway, since I’m on vacation at the moment, I figured I’d take advantage of the luxury of schedule flexibility and flip my sleep schedule a few days early in preparation for having to make rational medical decisions at four in the morning.

So now I’m nocturnal.

It’s like self-imposed jet-lag, except for the sun doesn’t help you cue to what time it’s supposed to be.

As a matter of fact, that’s the hardest thing about this whole nocturnal thing. I’m surprised at how difficult it is to orient myself to what time it is without the sun.

Having been a regular quasi-insomniac, though, I conveniently know a lot of sleep-hygiene tricks that help me make the switch. (Although I’ve been kind of testing myself by lying in my hammock reading during the most difficult stretch of the “day”, practicing staying awake. It’ll be much easier when I’m running around all night like a crazy person.)

Anyway. I figured I’d talk about some of the benefits and detractors of being nocturnal (at least, while not working).

-Benefit: Long, quiet hours with no expectations. Potential to get a LOT of work done.

-Detractor: It’s a LOT harder to actually be productive through the night, at least for me. It’s a lot easier to watch movies than study or write my book.

-Benefit: I get to watch lots of movies, without feeling guilty about not using the time to go out and spend it with cool people doing cool things. (Not to say that I don’t like doing cool things with cool people. But if you’re an introvert like me, you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit and watch a movie without anyone else around.) Same thing goes for reading books.

-Detractor: If there’s really nice weather, you miss it.

-Benefit: If there’s really crummy weather, you miss it.

-Detractor: No one is awake to go out to dinner with. Or lunch.

-Detractor: If you want to go out to dinner, you’re SOL because the only restaurants open at “dinnertime” (7-8 am) are breakfast places.

-Benefit: You get to go out with your brother and his friends and watch a ‘cuse game in a bar that has more peanuts than any normal person would ever think about eating, without worrying about what time you get home, because it’s actually the beginning of your day.

-Detractor: BoingBoing doesn’t really update much overnight. Neither does Whatever. Neither do your friends on Facebook. Or (insert your favorite website). You don’t get new emails, either.

-Detractor: It can get a little lonely. I remember that when I did nights in the ICU, it got a little frustrating that the only people I had a chance to talk to at any length were my patients and co-workers. I mean, they’re great people for the most part….but there’s definitely a difference between them and my friends/family.

-Benefit: It’s easier to catch up with your buddies on the west coast. Or on the other side of the world.

-Detractor: You kinda feel like a zombie. Unless you’re asleep. But you don’t really sleep brilliantly either, even if you have blackout curtains.

-Detractor: The vast majority of light that hits your eyes is artificial.

-Benefit: You can go out and look at the supermoon or any other astronomical events without worrying about how it will affect your sleep schedule.

-Detractor: If you live in an apartment, you feel guilty about doing housework or laundry or anything else that makes noise. Playing instruments is right out. Movies and music are borderline, as long as you keep the volume low.

-Benefit: You get to hear the first birds in the morning. And watch the sunrise, if that’s your thing.

-Benefit/detractor: You end up spending a lot of time surfing.

-Detractor: You end up muddled enough to think that something like this would be a good entry for your blog.

So, there you go.

I’m for bed; you guys have a great day!

Or night?

Or whatever. So long as it’s great.

Published in: on March 20, 2011 at 6:16 am  Comments (3)  

Whoa.

Has it…..

Has it really been a whole year since Match Day?

………….REALLY?!

Wow.

Um.

Happy Match Day, soon-to-be-interns!

Wow.

I’m going to be a second year in a couple of months.

Whoa.

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 7:36 am  Comments (4)  

Let’s Get Some Things Straight.

WARNING: RANT IMMINENT! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!

-When your doctor reaches out to take your pulse, he already has his hand in position to do it properly, taking into account where your hand is and in what orientation. Helpfully holding out your hand and turning it face up only complicates matters.

-A female hospital worker is not automatically a nurse. A male hospital worker is not automatically a doctor.

-Your ER doctor doesn’t give a damn about what drugs you took last night, except to know how it will affect your medical condition, and whether or not she should keep an eye out for withdrawal symptoms. She’s not going to tell the cops that are hanging out in the ER to protect her. They probably don’t give a damn either.

-Your doctor doesn’t care how much you weigh, except to the point that it affects your health and therefore makes more work for him to keep you healthy.

-Your doctor can smell whether or not you smoke, and probably even how much. You may as well just tell her.

-Your doctor sees entirely too many people over the course of his day to bother spending the emotional energy to make value judgments about you or any of his other patients. I guarantee it.

-The information in the article about your medical condition that you helpfully printed out from that website is probably information that your doctor memorized in his first month of medical school. Or it’s completely wrong. Your doctor will look over it and smile graciously at you if he’s in a good mood.

-Doctors don’t have any influence over nursing staff. Doctors and nurses are colleagues, at the same level on the pecking order, and with completely different jobs. If you have a problem with a nurse, don’t complain to the doctor. Complain to the nurse’s boss.

-Being obnoxious or demanding does not improve your care or your family member’s care. You may get what you want this moment, but you’re far more likely to be unconsciously neglected later, and you’ll have to keep on being obnoxious and demanding in order to get the normal level of care that you would otherwise receive. Nurses and doctors are human, even though they aspire to greatness and have to act professional; they don’t like being yelled at and pushed around any more than you do. The effect that you have on them will likely be inadvertent…but it will likely decrease the quality of care regardless. PS: Medical students spend more time with friendly patients. And get better histories. And tend to advocate more for them. That effect should also not be overlooked.

-Just because you’ve never “had to see a doctor” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. That’s like saying that your car runs perfectly because you’ve never let a mechanic look under the hood. For (insert your age) years.

-You can’t put anything in your body without side effects. That includes herbal/”natural” substances as well as mainstream medicines. There is no such thing as a miracle cure.

-The people who are most likely to complain about how long they had to wait past their appointment time are most likely to be the people who expect the doctor to spend extra time with them. You know, making the next patient wait past her appointment time.

OKAY, ALL CLEAR! AWOOGA, AWOOGA, AND ALL THAT.

Published in: on March 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm  Comments (20)  
Tags:

Salivating, Hyperventilating, All That Jazz

Oh, Stephen King. Isn’t it enough that the Dark Tower Series is going to movies and TV? You’re also bestowing upon us A NEW INSTALLMENT OF THE STORY?!

Wind Through The Keyhole

Oh, Stephen King. You sure know how to make a grasshopper happy.

Published in: on March 13, 2011 at 10:53 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: ,

Luc Reid – Codex Blog Tour

Greetings, fellow webizens! It is my great honor and pleasure to introduce Luc Reid: stalwart founder and fearless leader of the Codex Writers’ Workshop, dear friend, and all-around ultimate personification of neat-person-ness!

Let’s hear what he has to say for himself.

I’m Luc Reid, a Writers of the Future winner, founder of the Codex online writers’ group, and a frequent blogger on writing, the writing life, and the psychology of habits, for instance with posts several times a week on my blog and with a monthly column on writing motivation at Futurismic called Brain Hacks for Writers.

My latest book, Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories is available on Amazon for the Kindle and on Smashwords for all eReaders, with a print version expected out this month. Bam! collects the best of my flash fiction, throwing normal people into strange circumstances in stories that can each be read in a few minutes. Cinderella tries to get a grip after her divorce; inventions go horribly wrong; robots rebel; a thinking teddy bear is trapped for decades in a toy box; love blossoms in a hotel corridor unmoored from time and space; dinosaurs invent the steam engine; girlfriends blink in and out of existence; and Very Bad Things happen that might be worth it in the end.

And now, let’s grill him a bit!

Tell us something about you that would surprise us.

I’m a high school drop-out. In 1985, in 10th grade, I heard about a tiny, academically vigorous college in southwest Massachusetts that accepted students out of 10th and 11th grade without a high school diploma on the idea that some people can get bored with high school academics and be in danger of being turned off to school entirely if they didn’t get something more challenging. That definitely described my feelings about school in 1985, and as promised, Simon’s Rock was much more challenging.

I earned my B.A. in Humanities four years later, but I never did get a high school diploma.

What’s the best writing advice anyone has ever given you? What’s the worst?

The best writing advice I’ve ever gotten was from Orson Scott Card, who drilled the idea into 20 of us at his first Literary Boot Camp in 2001 that writing well means writing all the time–not waiting for inspiration, not getting dragged down into the mire of our self-critiques, and certainly not eschewing the keyboard to stand by the mailbox waiting for responses from editors and agents.

The worst writing advice I ever got was to read a huge stack of classic literature that didn’t really interest me: it was explained to me that until I understood the literary context in which my work existed, based on the history of literature to that moment, I wouldn’t really understand how to write.

Don’t get me wrong: I agree that writers have to be readers, but I frankly don’t believe historical context counts for all that much when you’re trying to write a compelling novel or story: there are much more important things (like character, emotion, tension, and immediacy) that deserve our attention instead.

Have you ever had the occasion to vehemently disagree with your agent/editor about a change to the MS, and if so, how does that sort of thing get settled?

I had some vehement disagreements with a copy editor who undertook, word by word, to destroy my book Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures (Writer’s Digest Books, 2006). Her “corrections” did things like change the definition to the wrong part of speech. She also had little notes in the manuscript about things she didn’t find believable, which might have been of a little more interest to me if she had any special expertise in any of the subject matter and/or if I didn’t have documented sources for every single term in the book.

My editor, Michelle Ehrhard, kindly took my corrected version back and allowed me to reverse the very great majority of the copy editor’s changes. In marking up the manuscript, I’m surprised I didn’t manage to carve the word “stet” into the surface of my desk through repetition.

However, that same copy editor taught me that “e.g.” should be followed by a comma, for which lesson I am grateful.

I’d love to know how you *get rid* of ideas- how you isolate the concepts that won’t work in a story, or the story ideas that you just won’t have the patience to tell, or whatever. Is there some litmus test an idea has to pass? Do you just write it up and realize at some point “well that’s not working”?

I think this is a great question, because once you’ve gotten in the mindset of recognizing possible writing ideas (and especially of writing them down once you recognize them!) you can wind up with a lot more story ideas than you’ll ever be able to use. To decide which of the ideas is going to yield the best story, I think about subjects like these:

* Does this idea have emotional juice for me? Is there something in it that, if I write it well, will impact on me in the heart or the gut?
* If this idea has been done before, am I doing something truly different and worthwhile with it?
* Is there conflict embedded right in the idea?
* Am I going to be able to tell the story without having to explain or justify things all the time?
* Am I excited to discover what I’ll come up with?
* Does the idea come to life in my head as soon as I start thinking about it?
* Do I know enough about the subject matter (or am I willing to do the research) to do this idea justice?
* Does the idea fit the genre, length, and audience I want to write for at the moment?
* Will I be able to summarize what’s interesting about the story I write from this idea in just one sentence?

If the idea doesn’t pass all of those tests–and most don’t–then I generally don’t use it, or at best let it offer a subplot or scene to something I’m writing based on another idea.

I know a lot of writers prefer to go with whatever grabs them. I think the danger in this is that what grabs us has a lot to do with what we’re focusing on at the moment. Just because one idea seems extra appealing at the moment doesn’t mean that another idea won’t be just as appealing if it gets its chance. So I like the idea of choosing an idea that suits my needs and that I can get excited about.

How do you keep the pace and interest going when you also need to showcase your world?

My feeling is that good fiction writing is generally doing at least two things at once. For instance, a particular passage could help us understand a character and increase tension, or deliver backstory while moving forward through a meaningful plot incident, etc. If you’re showing off the world of your story, you can keep your reader’s interest if you are doing it e.g., from the back of a galloping horse while exchanging arrows with a pursuer, or through a character who inadvertently makes their prejudices and desires clear in the course of showing something to another character.

For example, if you’ve ever seen the movie The Princess Bride (or read the book, which is a little different but just as good), you may remember the scene where the Man in Black and Inigo Montoya have a sword fight at the top of a cliff. In that scene, William Goldman (one of my favorite screenwriters of all time: he also penned Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) gives us the action of the sword fight, the tension of the pursuit by the Man in Black layered over the tension of the kidnapping of Buttercup, entertaining dialogue, our first close-up view of the Man in Black, our first chance to see Inigo Montoya in action, and a couple of clever reversals. My belief is that it’s no coincidence that so many things are going on given that this is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7zvffHu_wo

Many thanks for the chance to join in this discussion.

Many more thanks to you! (Yeah, you heard me. MANY more! Hah! What now, Cricket? What. Now?)

Oh. Aherm.

Hey, guess what? Even though I sprung this on him, I’m going to go ahead and go out on a limb and say that Luc is probably going to hang around for discussion for the next couple of days, if you have any questions or comments on his work or his interview.

So as always, join us in the comments section!

And visit the official Codex Blog Tour page for more interviewey goodness!

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 1:43 am  Comments (3)  

Quick!

Recommend your favorite New York City restaurant and/or quirky-awesome-thing-to-do there!

One-two-three GO!!!

Published in: on March 3, 2011 at 8:39 pm  Comments (9)  

ON! VACATION!

Oh, holy crap on a stick, does it feel GOOD to be done with this three-month block from HELL!

::pant, pant::

Oh, I am so totally on vacation.

I’m gonna try to write some stuff for you soon.

Thanks for sticking through the content-drought with me!

I’m going to bed.

And I am NOT setting my alarm.

And lordy-loo, is my pager OFF, friends!

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Published in: on March 2, 2011 at 10:51 pm  Comments (2)