Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to retire (by HoNY)

“I retired six months ago. I moved from five acres in Texas to a small apartment in Harlem, and I just love it. I can do whatever I want, all day long. This morning I explored the Garment District. Right now I’m going home to eat some chicken and waffles with my neighbor. Tonight I’ll probably smoke some pot.”

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Men Just Don't Trust Women

reprinted in full from Huffington Post:

Men Just Don't Trust Women -- And It's A Huge Problem

Damon Young Headshot

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It took five months of marriage, eight months of being engaged, and another year of whatever the hell we were doing before we got engaged for me to learn something about my wife. Actually, that's misleading. I've learned many things about my wife in that time period. I learned that she owns both a snuggie and a onesie. And I learned that she's prone to wearing both of them at the same time. But, there's one thing in particular that didn't quite dawn on me until recently.
Panama and I were talking about the Rolling Stone story controversy. It eventually segued to Cosby, which then segued into a realization that there's a common thread in each of these types of stories and the tenor of the conversations surrounding them.
Trust. Well, the lack thereof. Generally speaking, we (men) do not believe things when they're told to us by women. Well, women other than our mothers or teachers or any other woman who happens to be an established authority figure. Do we think women are pathological liars? No. But, does it generally take longer for us to believe something if a woman tells it to us than it would if a man told us the exact same thing? Definitely!
This conversation is how, after five months of marriage, eight months of being engaged, and another year of whatever the hell we were doing before we got engaged, I realized I don't trust my wife.
When the concept of trust is brought up, it's usually framed in the context of actions; of what we think a person is capable of doing. If you trust someone, it means you trust them not to cheat. Or steal. Or lie. Or smother you in your sleep. By this measure, I definitely trust my wife. I trust the shit out of her. I also trust her opinions about important things. I trusted that she'd make a great wife, and a trust that she'll be a great mother. And I trust that her manicotti won't kill me.
But you know what I don't really trust? What I've never actually trusted with any women I've been with? Her feelings.
If she approaches me pissed about something, my first reaction is "What's wrong?"
My typical second reaction? Before she even gets the opportunity to tell me what's wrong? "She's probably overreacting."
My typical third reaction? After she expresses what's wrong? "Ok. I hear what you're saying, and I'll help. But whatever you're upset about probably really isn't that serious."
I'm both smart and sane, so I don't actually say any of this aloud. But I am often thinking it. Until she convinces me otherwise, I assume that her emotional reaction to a situation is disproportionate to my opinion of what level of emotional reaction the situation calls for. Basically, if she's on eight, I assume the situation is really a six.
I'm speaking of my own relationship, but I know I'm not alone. The theme that women's feelings aren't really to be trusted by men drives (an estimated) 72.81 percent of the sitcoms we watch, 31.2 percent of the books we read, and 98.9 percent of the conversations men have with other men about the women in their lives. Basically, women are crazy, and we are not. Although many women seem to be very annoyed by it, it's generally depicted as one of those cute and innocuous differences between the sexes.
And perhaps it would be, if it were limited to feelings about the dishes or taking out the garbage. But, this distrust can be pervasive, spreading to a general skepticism about the truthfulness of their own accounts of their own experiences. If women's feelings aren't really to be trusted, then naturally their recollections of certain things that have happened to them aren't really to be trusted either.
This is part of the reason why it took an entire high school football team full of women for some of us to finally just consider that Bill Cosby might not be Cliff Huxtable. It's how, despite hearing complaints about it from girlfriends, homegirls, cousins, wives, and classmates, so many of us refused to believe how serious street harassment can be until we saw it with our own eyes. It's why we needed to see actual video evidence before believing the things women had been saying for years about R. Kelly.
There's an obvious parallel here with the way (many) men typically regard women's feelings and the way (many) Whites typically regard the feelings of non-Whites. It seems like every other day I'm reading about a new poll or study showing that (many) Whites don't believe anything Black people say about anything race/racism-related until they see it with their own eyes. Personal accounts and expressions of feelings are rationalized away; only "facts" that have been carefully vetted and verified by other Whites and certain "acceptable" Blacks are to be believed.
So how do we remedy this? And can it even be remedied? I don't know. This distrust of women's feelings is so ingrained, so commonplace that I'm not even sure we (men) realize it exists. I can do one thing, though. The next time my wife tells me how upset she is about something I'm not sure she should be that upset about, trust her. After five months of marriage, eight months of being engaged, and another year of whatever the hell we were doing before we got engaged, it's the least I can do.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Birds on the Wires



"One morning while reading a newspaper, Jarbas Agnelli saw a photograph of birds on an electric wire. He cut out the photo and was inspired to make a song using the exact location of the birds as musical notes. He was curious to hear what melody the birds created.

He sent the music to the photographer, Paulo Pinto, who told his editor, who told a reporter and the story ended up as an interview in the newspaper. It ended up Winner of the YouTube Play Guggenheim Biennial Festival.

Have a listen at how incredible the sounds that came out of the birds' positioning on the wires."



Saturday, March 14, 2015

Organ donation



Register HERE to become an organ donor


(via Long Live NY, linked from MUG)





Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Paul Kalinithi

Before I go

Time warps for a young surgeon with metastatic lung cancer

In residency, there’s a saying: The days are long, but the years are short. In neurosurgical training, the day usually began a little before 6 a.m., and lasted until the operating was done, which depended, in part, on how quick you were in the OR.

Photo of Paul Kalanithi
Paul Kalanithi
Time at home. Time well spent
A resident’s surgical skill is judged by his technique and his speed. You can’t be sloppy and you can’t be slow. From your first wound closure onward, spend too much time being precise and the scrub tech will announce, “Looks like we’ve got a plastic surgeon on our hands!” Or say: “I get your strategy — by the time you finish sewing the top half of the wound, the bottom will have healed on its own. Half the work — smart!” A chief resident will advise a junior: “Learn to be fast now — you can learn to be good later.” Everyone’s eyes are always on the clock. For the patient’s sake: How long has the patient been under anesthesia? During long procedures, nerves can get damaged, muscles can break down, even causing kidney failure. For everyone else’s sake: What time are we getting out of here tonight?
There are two strategies to cutting the time short, like the tortoise and the hare. The hare moves as fast as possible, hands a blur, instruments clattering, falling to the floor; the skin slips open like a curtain, the skull flap is on the tray before the bone dust settles. But the opening might need to be expanded a centimeter here or there because it’s not optimally placed. The tortoise proceeds deliberately, with no wasted movements, measuring twice, cutting once. No step of the operation needs revisiting; everything proceeds in orderly fashion. If the hare makes too many minor missteps and has to keep adjusting, the tortoise wins. If the tortoise spends too much time planning each step, the hare wins.
The funny thing about time in the OR, whether you frenetically race or steadily proceed, is that you have no sense of it passing. If boredom is, as Heidegger argued, the awareness of time passing, this is the opposite: The intense focus makes the arms of the clock seem arbitrarily placed. Two hours can feel like a minute. Once the final stitch is placed and the wound is dressed, normal time suddenly restarts. You can almost hear an audible whoosh. Then you start wondering: How long till the patient wakes up? How long till the next case gets started? How many patients do I need to see before then? What time will I get home tonight?
It’s not until the last case finishes that you feel the length of the day, the drag in your step. Those last few administrative tasks before leaving the hospital, however far post-meridian you stood, felt like anvils. Could they wait till tomorrow? No. A sigh, and Earth continued to rotate back toward the sun.
But the years did, as promised, fly by. Six years passed in a flash, but then, heading into chief residency, I developed a classic constellation of symptoms — weight loss, fevers, night sweats, unremitting back pain, cough — indicating a diagnosis quickly confirmed: metastatic lung cancer. The gears of time ground down. While able to limp through the end of residency on treatment, I relapsed, underwent chemo and endured a prolonged hospitalization.
I emerged from the hospital weakened, with thin limbs and thinned hair. Now unable to work, I was left at home to convalesce. Getting up from a chair or lifting a glass of water took concentration and effort. If time dilates when one moves at high speeds, does it contract when one moves barely at all? It must: The day shortened considerably. A full day’s activity might be a medical appointment, or a visit from a friend. The rest of the time was rest.
With little to distinguish one day from the next, time began to feel static. In English, we use the word time in different ways, “the time is 2:45” versus “I’m going through a tough time.” Time began to feel less like the ticking clock, and more like the state of being. Languor settled in. Focused in the OR, the position of the clock’s hands might seem arbitrary, but never meaningless. Now the time of day meant nothing, the day of the week scarcely more so.
Yet there is dynamism in our house. Our daughter was born days after I was released from the hospital. Week to week, she blossoms: a first grasp, a first smile, a first laugh. Her pediatrician regularly records her growth on charts, tick marks of her progress over time.  
Photo of Paul Kalanithi and his daughter Cady
Paul Kalanithi savors moments with his daughter, Cady.
Verb conjugation became muddled. Which was correct? “I am a neurosurgeon,” “I was a neurosurgeon,” “I had been a neurosurgeon before and will be again”? Graham Greene felt life was lived in the first 20 years and the remainder was just reflection. What tense was I living in? Had I proceeded, like a burned-out Greene character, beyond the present tense and into the past perfect? The future tense seemed vacant and, on others’ lips, jarring. I recently celebrated my 15th college reunion; it seemed rude to respond to parting promises from old friends, “We’ll see you at the 25th!” with “Probably not!”
Yet there is dynamism in our house. Our daughter was born days after I was released from the hospital. Week to week, she blossoms: a first grasp, a first smile, a first laugh. Her pediatrician regularly records her growth on charts, tick marks of her progress over time. A brightening newness surrounds her. As she sits in my lap smiling, enthralled by my tuneless singing, an incandescence lights the room.
Time for me is double-edged: Every day brings me further from the low of my last cancer relapse, but every day also brings me closer to the next cancer recurrence — and eventually, death. Perhaps later than I think, but certainly sooner than I desire. There are, I imagine, two responses to that realization. The most obvious might be an impulse to frantic activity: to “live life to its fullest,” to travel, to dine, to achieve a host of neglected ambitions. Part of the cruelty of cancer, though, is not only that it limits your time, it also limits your energy, vastly reducing the amount you can squeeze into a day. It is a tired hare who now races. But even if I had the energy, I prefer a more tortoiselike approach. I plod, I ponder, some days I simply persist.
Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.
Yet one thing cannot be robbed of her futurity: my daughter, Cady. I hope I’ll live long enough that she has some memory of me. Words have a longevity I do not. I had thought I could leave her a series of letters — but what would they really say? I don’t know what this girl will be like when she is 15; I don’t even know if she’ll take to the nickname we’ve given her. There is perhaps only one thing to say to this infant, who is all future, overlapping briefly with me, whose life, barring the improbable, is all but past.
That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.

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