March 2008


So yeah, a while has been and gone.  I want to write more frequently than I do.  You know how time is.

K and I went on holiday last month – spent a week and a half in Las Vegas and San Fransisco.  It felt strange to be back in LV again but stranger perhaps to see Phil there again since last time I was there he declared never to set foot in the town again.  Which makes it even nicer that him and Kristin came up to say hi on our first day.  Brief but lovely.

I think that if you take LV for what it is then you can have a great time.  Set your sights low and you’ll be surprised.  Aside from just wandering around casinos and hotels (we stayed here for some cheesy fun):

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we saw a few shows (Cirque du Solei: Mystere and Ka), watched brides on skateboards:

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saw the Bellagio fountains dance along to Frank, got addicted to slot machines (ok, so that was more K than me):

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Plus I bought a hat.

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We moved onto SF (the flight is really quite stunning – some beautiful scenery en route)

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…a city which I adore and can almost find work my way around without a map.  Unfortunately, K got sick and we had to see a doctor.  A 10 min consultation with a man in a black Nike sweat suit and white Nike trainers plus a prescription for Abx cost $200.  Holy fuck!  Still, new experience and we still had a good time.

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A detour back through to LV to avoid an early flight plus a bit of luck meant we got a free upgrade to a much nicer suite for our last night at:

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We had a hot tub in our room!  Add in room service and breakfast in bed and it pretty much beats the hostel option.  I’ve not given up on them completely though.

So, yeah…really nice holiday that seemed to last forever (in a good way), good weather and great company.

Had a really fun night.  Amalgamation of friends.  Engine Rooms.  Saw the Gloria Cycles and they were really good.  Better than most of the bands I’ve been buying music from this year (it’s been a slow music year currently aside from the MGMT album, especially after the brilliance of last year).

Gloria Cycles

Saw them about a  month ago in a local pub but frankly was too drunk to pick up on anything other than they sounded pretty good.  This time, before drunkenness kicked in, they actually were good.  Great in-fact.  Reminding me of many an indie band with sing-along choruses, catchy tunes and energy.  My mate Antony interviewed them recently after chatting to them after the last gig and they sound like pretty nice people.  I’ve had brief chats with them at the last two gigs and they seem nice and open to everyone.  Plus the lead singer looks remarkably like a friend of mine – we got a picture of them together tonight.

In the current music climate they could go very far.  I’m certainly putting my money on them.  Hopefully get to see them next time round again.

They put on a night with support from Transformer who were pretty fun and right for the night plus a table tenns competition and free bangers and mash!  Classy.

If I get my arse into gear I’ll get my ticket for the Great Escape festival in Brighton tomorrow.  Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeep…

So after complaining to a friend the other day and then again to K tonight at dinner about how I’ve never really seen anyone famous in Brighton, I happened to notice that we were in the same restaurant as Norman Cook/Fatboy Slim.  That made me so much more excited than it should do!

He was wearing a lumberjack shirt and had more gray hair than I thought he should do.  Then I gossiped with the waitress after he left.  Ha ha.

That pretty much makes me famous…

And as a quick update – Ron has added his blog from last week on the Mountaineering course with some photos and a brief video of us huddled togther up Jacob’s Ladder.  Check it out here from the 23nd-27th February.

He’s also given a link to Paddy’s site – Paddy was the third member of the course over the weekend and well, his website says it all: World’s Fittest Athlete.  He’s held 157 Guiness World Records over the last 20 years (including an outstanding 8794 one armed push ups in 1hr).  He was a lovely man and you would never have known.  Gentle giant.

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A few weeks back I got asked to be on an exam committee at the local medical school to be their ‘cardiology opinion’.  Let the hilarity of that sink in for a while. 

My Reg asked me to (I don’t think any of them wanted to do it) and I’m interested in medical education so I thought it would be fun.  Plus I got to look round the new med school which wasn’t there during the time I spent on that campus.

It was interesting, seeing how exams are set from the other side of the paper.  Writing a good exam question is a lot harder than I ever considered.  Checking every question to make sure it doesn’t give away an answer to a later question, specific wording, ambiguity and possible interpretation of possible answers.  Thankfully, my ‘cardiology expertise’ wasn’t called upon too much and I got them to email me the questions through.  Amusingly there was one question that 2 of my seniors couldn’t answer.

Tomorrow I’m going along for the ‘Standard Setting’ session where we discuss how hard the questions are and work out the pass mark.  Should be enlightening.

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Being a compulsive second hand (and occasionally, new) book buyer, the stacks on my floor just appears to be growing and the rate at which I’m reading currently has slowed right down.  There are a few books that have sat on that pile for over 4 years.   I’m going back to SF in a few weeks and the books I bought last time I was there (Everything is Illuminated, A million little pieces – from City Lights obviously) are still buried in the pile.

Anyway, I finally got round to reading We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver.  It’s the first book in a long while that really hit me.  I found it pretty slow to start and difficult to read as I really disliked the characters.  However, I got completely sucked in and finished the final half in a breathless and eye-straining sitting.  It’s devastating and genuinely disturbing at times and it nigh on reduced me to tears.  It’s an extremely powerful meditation on the way having kids changes your life.  Kevin is also the most horrific and realised fictional character I’ve encountered in a novel (probably since the pre-Hannibal rising, Dr Lecter).  Truly terrifying.  I would recommend everyone read this book.

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An interesting article in Wired about the concept of Free Economy

Trent Reznor/NIN giving away free songs and a new concept album.

K and I had out 6 month anniversary yesterday.  Time does indeed fly when you’re having fun.

Hello again. Been a while. You know, I’ve missed writing online – it’s been tugging away at thoughts and dreams for the last few months until finally I just decided to start again. Of course, as I went to do this the internet connection went down so this is on my laptop to be posted later tonight.

Life has been nice. What’s been going on? Well…

I got back 2 days ago from a 5 day mountaineering course up in Scotland with my friend Becka. It was AWESOME! Ha. Flew up to Inverness and then caught the train to Aviemore / Cairngorm National Park. I am now the (very) proud owner of an ice axe and crampons, not to mention rather a lot of expensive clothing: I own ‘technical trousers’ (even after wearing them for a week I’m not entirely sure what ‘technical trousers’ are though I did manage to put 3 holes in them with my axe). So yeah, climbing and generally arsing around in snow. The strangest thing: while half way up Jacob’s Ladder, barely able to see because my glasses were frozen and a mass of spin drift was tearing past us from below, the main thoughts going through my head were not ‘Fucking hell it’s freezing’, or ‘what am I doing here?’ but ‘This is simply amazing. I love this’. Yeah, turns out that along with walking I really like winter mountaineering. Shame I live so far away from mountains…

Me with an axe

I passed MRCP part 1 (first professional/post-grad exam) which was a genuine surprise. I mean I worked fairly hard but didn’t feel that confident and I’m usually pretty good at knowing how well I did after the exam. But I passed. Which is nice. However, now I’m wondering about sitting part 2. I mean I don’t need to sit these exams as I want to be a GP and I only sat part 1 to kickstart my revision and further learning (which has worked) but it would be nice to keep at it and build on the knowledge. The timing doesn’t work though as I can only sit it in July (too soon) or December (not in the country) and even then, if I passed I’d have to sit PACES within 2 years and I can’t guarantee that as I may not be back by then. Still.

So I won’t be in the country as I’m moving to New Zealand for the next 2 years. That’s the plan anyway. Annoyingly I can’t apply for a job until May as I can’t start until November which is rather worrying, especially with the job crisis here. However, I’ve got a pretty good CV now and it should all be fine. Katherine (my missus) has a job already in Christchurch which is where I’m intending to go too. Lots of reasons why I want to leave here. Maybe another time.

The reason I can’t start till November is I’m headed back to Nepal as part of a medical research expedition to the Hidden Valley behind Dhaulagiri – I’m acting both as a medical officer and research coordinator. Which should be cool. A 5 week trek to camp at 5100m for a week, studying various effects of high altitude.

So yeah, lots of stuff and much more besides. Plus the Los Campesinos! album has finally come out – and it is glorious.

For now though…