Always tech-forward, Harris Southwest employs robots. Quite a few of them, actually. There are robots like Da Vinci that perform endoscopic procedures, and robots like Pharm that sort and retrieve drugs from the dispensary. There are also robots like TUG, the number-one cause of near-miss heart attacks in patients and staff alike. TUG looks like a flat cart with a handrail on the front side and an enormous HAL-like interface complete with glowing red eye. It navigates the hallways on its own, grabbing carts, carrying supplies, and terrifying the shit out of you when you least expect to see its horrible little robot-gremlin outline whizzing from the dark. There are about fourteen of TUG and when they turn sideways they are nearly invisible.

The hospital is papered with reminders for staff on how to deal with TUG. Open doors if it tells you to, don’t stand in its way, and if you see it getting on the elevator, remember: TUG Rides Alone. I don’t know why they even bother with that last bit. You couldn’t pay me enough money to get on an elevator with TUG.

Sometimes two of TUG will encounter each other in a corridor and, utterly confused, will stand facing each other and demanding, in Spanish, that they move to one side and allow TUG to pass by.

My preceptor Sheila is obsessed with and horrified by TUG. She torments it every chance she gets, blocking its access to things to make it talk, standing on it while it’s moving, and even getting on the elevator with it. Once. She says it spends the whole ride chattering softly to itself and executing a ten-point K-turn, because it can’t back out of the elevator on its own.

Sheila is a brave woman.

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I can never

blog when I’m writing. And I can only write when I’m stressed. And the only thing I can write, apparently, is terrible alternate-history fantasy that rapidly becomes pornographic.

I can’t even edit out the sex scenes. Some of the stuff that happens in them, relationally and physically, is crucial to the plot. I can’t help it that their religious structure includes a strong element of sexual repression and celibacy!

Well, okay, I guess I could. I did make it up, after all.

It would just be really boring.

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I woke Kevin up from a nap

by poking him in the side, gently, to see if he responded.

I know that he’s fully capable of responding to stimuli, and even formulating words if he has to, while remaining completely, amnesia-inducingly unconscious. But poking is a good place to start, so I poked him, just once, in the ribs.

In response, he nudged my foot with his, just once.

So I poked him again. Aww, so cute. Surely he’ll wake up pretty soon.

This time, he responded with two nudges.

I replied in kind.

Three nudges. Now we had kind of a poke-nudge dialogue going.

Five nudges.

Seven nudges. So are we just doing odd numbers or what?

…Eleven nudges. Do you see where this is going yet?

By the time he’d got up to thirteen nudges, I couldn’t roll my eyes for laughing. “Prime numbers? You could have just said something if you were awake.”

“Prime numbers are good enough for aliens.”

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Rock climbing,

in case you haven’t tried it, comes in several varieties.

First, you have to decide whether you’re going to climb outdoors or in. Outdoors is very pretty (though you’ll be too busy sweating and clinging to the rockface to enjoy it properly) and offers a great excuse to visit exotic locales (though you’ll be too sore and exhausted to do anything touristy). Outdoors also comes with bugs, sketchy rock, and Colorado climbers who will climb better than you, but not really well, and rub it in your face with their proudly-displayed hand wounds. This is VERY BAD FORM, and I’ll tell you why in a bit.

Indoors climbing is air-conditioned, the routes have been constructed to be doable (though you’ll swear a few of them are impossible), and you will quickly make friends at your chosen climbing gym. However, indoors climbing also means you occasionally have to put up with children, ugh. It also means that when you fall on your ass, at least twenty people will be watching.

My sister is an outdoor climber who enjoys some indoor climbing. She was baptized in blood and chalk while living in Yosemite, and is the single toughest living human bar none. You may think you’re pretty tough stuff, and could totally take a 21-year-old woman who shares my weenie genetics. You would be terribly, terribly wrong.

I am the kind of indoor climber that gets six feet off the ground, looks down, and gets queasy. I used to be… well, not even quite decent, but okayish in high school. (I think I was the first of us to take an interest in rock climbing, mainly because of a hot picture of a rock climbing celebrity in a magazine; she was the one who perfected the art, was hit on by said hot celebrity, and shut him down for being a douche.) Now, though, I’m an old duffer schoolmarm librarian type, and as previously mentioned: a weenie.

So, of course, I went climbing with her and her equally climbery manfriend. They skittered across the rock like waterbugs on a vertical pond, swinging and bridging and stretching so quickly and cleanly it looked like the natural mode of transportation for humans. They did not fall.

I went up a route, gripping the rocks like the hands of a dying loved one, arms locking and trembling, sweat dripping into the back of my glasses, and feet clanking against every nubbin and spur of rock regardless of whether it was “on” (read: a part of this route as opposed to a totally different route). The first thing I did was hang in one spot for about two minutes straight while my muscles insisted that no, this was not an acceptable course of action, and threatened to give out entirely. Behind and (very slightly) below me, my sister urged me to stop thinking and just move.

Easy for her to say. She is at least half mountain goat, and I am at least half mountain troll.

Then I squinched up my face, determined not to humiliate myself, and threw myself upward. And then upward again, grabbing the next ledge and sweating all over it while my feet scrabbled for purchase. Which they found.

Suddenly I realized that I was halfway up the wall, and my arms weren’t nearly as angry. I paused to celebrate–

And my arms immediately shut down. I froze up; the ache settled back in, and I nearly fell.

Well, it worked before. I threw myself up the wall as if pursued by crocodiles, giving myself barely enough time on one foothold to recognize that I had a grip on it before I started searching for the next. And it was so natural! The wall stopped being a sheer cliff of wet granite and became a ladder with strangely dispersed and ugly rungs, leaning at a friendly slope. Then I was at the top, and a second later rappelling back toward the ground.

I did it again, and again. By the fourth time my arms really were shot, totally rubbery and stuck in the claw position, and I fell off that route– but after a game attempt, and at least halfway up. Turns out, the secret to rock climbing is that you can’t stop to rest or worry about what’s next or look down– you have to keep going, hurling yourself toward the next handhold without even pausing to congratulate yourself on the last.

It helps to be really, really strong, too. Weenies like me spend the day after wincing and limping and asking techs, very politely, if they would mind opening this drawer for me, please.

(If I had it to do over again, I might not have completely worn out both forearms the night before I got to place about twenty IVs and two foleys. Hoo-wee, the cramps.)


On that note, yes, I finally got a day in the ER! It was amazing and beautiful and everything I hoped it would be, even if nobody bled out on the floor. There were plenty of critical and emergent cases to pretend I was actually helping with, and although I wasn’t great by any means, I was good. And the time flew by, leaving me exhausted and happy and fulfilled and ready to punch the next clinical in the face.

It left me pretty sore, too. Who wants to open the fridge for me?

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I promise I haven’t stopped posting.

I’ve just been vaguely drunk since Thursday night.

Let’s talk for a minute about Cap’n Crunch. It’s incredibly delicious, as we can all agree (and if you don’t you can go directly home and put a bunch of Cap’n Crunch in your ass), but it also cuts up your mouth like a spoonful of glass shards. You face the painful choice: do you let it soak in milk until it’s soggy but no longer painful, or you can just chomp down on that agonizing stabmouth and hope to taste the deliciousness around your own blood.

Or you could do what I do, and break all the Cap’n Crunch into large crumbs in a Ziploc baggie, and then drop the crumbs into the milk one spoonful at a time, immediately snatching it back out and cramming it in your mouth before it get properly soggy.

And then you have to take a few moments and wonder how, exactly, you managed to lose your virginity when you care that much about perfect Cap’n Crunch.


Tomorrow, when I am not quite so drunk, I will tell you all about the amazing, moving, sociologically profound film Zardoz, and why you should immediately watch it. (In case you are wondering it’s a terrible movie about Sean Connery in a red bikini.)

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Flattering swimsuits for every body type!

Today I tried on my bikini.

My purpose in trying on my bikini was to see if the elastic still worked, because nothing is worse than a lime-green-and-yellow-paisley, rhinestoned string bikini except a lime-green-and-yellow-paisley, rhinestoned string bikini that falls off.

Instead, I learned that– after sixteen months of nursing school and four months of absolute failure to exercise more than once a week (not to mention all the Nutella and cheese [often at the same time])– my pale, sluglike, alternately bony and squishy body is much, much worse than any paisley bikini.

In a panic, I searched the entire internet for swimsuits that would suit my new body type. Fear not, O ladies emerging from winter slumber! I will share my bounty.

First, I thought I might be able to fashionably cover up the offending parts, while still displaying my super-sexy ribcage and flat chest region. (Shut up, my ribcage is sexy as hell.)

Well, no. See, that doesn’t even look good on the model, who is paid to look good, and who has probably been paid to look good in clothes so ugly Tyra Banks wouldn’t inflict them on her Next Top Models.

Huh… maybe I can find something to distract casual viewers while still displaying a bit of skin:

This is an excellent choice for women who feel that their flaws, while severe enough to justify obsessive self-flagellation, would be easy to hide behind a recycled bead curtain.

Some of us, though, are looking for less of a distraction and more of a disguise.

Although this swimsuit offers no more than average coverage, it allows you to convincingly imitate the furniture from your doctor’s office, which nobody looks at any longer than they have to. Ideal!

If, however, you are a leper or a vampire just exceedingly fish-fillet lily-pale toothpaste-with-chlorine-bleach white, you might prefer something a little more… head to toe.

We will politely ignore the strange disembodiment of her head, because while some might cry “photoshop!” we are tolerant and accepting of people’s differences. This swimsuit replaces embarrassing skin deformities with Seussian charm!

For some, however, disfiguring werewolf-battle scars take a supporting role beside the disfiguring emotional werewolf scars of low self-esteem. There are also many women who believe that Jesus offers exactly as much redeeming blood, in milliliters, as they possess of body surface that no human has seen, in centimeters. To these, I suggest an even more modest and ladylike swimsuit:

This demure cladding will shield your tender ego from the gaze of passersby and your vulnerable soul from the balefires of Hades.

In case you are especially pious, laboring constantly under the burdensome knowledge that if any man so much as glimpses the vague outline of your elbow, that man will be eaten by the same deathless worm that eternally devours Satan:

This impervious tent-suit not only repels water and dries quickly when exposed to air, it refuses to cling to your womanly curves in any way that it would not also cling to, say, a washing machine. It also promises an exciting summer of nonstop yeast infections and heat rash!

However, I do not possess womanly curves. I do not even possess manly curves. I am a stick with nipples. My navel is a dent.

So I offer a few options for those of you ladies endowed with buxom allure. Enjoy your sexiness! Flaunt your cleavage! Send those men to hell!

For example, look at this Olympic swimmer:

Somebody call the fashion police! This woman has great potential, but her swimwear leaves something to be desired. Something known as “boobies.” Here, Ms. Pride of America, give this a try:

Ohhhh yeah. That’s so sexy I’m having difficulty not humping my screen. Look at your life, Ms. Olympian, look at your choices. Would you rather have a tacky gold-coin necklace, or THIS?

And for those of you with plastic-perfect bodies, waxed from stem to stern, imbued with the powers of silicone and spray tan, why not go for the ultimate expression of female empowerment?

Just look at it! The poise! The class! The fishing line and scraps of penalty flag! I’m sure I needn’t tell you that this woman is clearly the pinnacle of womanhood. (Please note the sublime, astonished awe on the face of the woman in the right foreground, who is torn between envy and admiration.) God, I wish I were a woman like that. I would put that bikini on and flaunt it to my grave. I would wear that shit to Wal-Mart.

Alas, it can never be. My buttcheeks don’t touch.

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Clearly, they are gay.

So we watched X-Men First Class last night, and it was a fun ride: cheesy, explosion-y, and full of pretty. (Hnnnnngh James McAvoy hnnnnngh.) It also had an incredibly massive scope of plot that moved at rocket speed, tons of Praxic Age/Cold War eyefood, and– in an incredibly daring move for a summer blockbuster– a gay couple whose relationship was the pivot of the entire movie.

Wait, you might say. Wait, who are you talking about? Who in that movie (which killed off or villained off everyone of even faint tinges of color) was gay?

Those of you who are NOT saying this are twisting out wry smiles, because you were clever enough to pick up on the incredibly subtle homoerotic subtext in the purely platonic relationship of the two main characters.

Oh, did I say subtle? No. Not subtle at all.

Look at it this way: in a movie where two nations launch a billion missiles at a battling supersonic stealth hover plane driven by a monster vs. a nuclear luxury submarine driven by a radioactive Nazi, the tragic romance between Xavier and Erik (that’s Professor X and Magneto for you cartoon-watchers) completely steals the show.

The first time they meet is the sexiest near-drowning rescue in the history of the silver screen. They gaze longingly into each others’ eyes, sit up late playing chess by the fireside, share a bed in the private room of a strip club, and have sweaty tearjerking brain-sex.

Plus, there are so many opportunities for both of them to get their hetero perv on: hot blonde tied to bed, hot stripper taking off her shirt, hot… blue… thing determined to get in somebody’s pants– and these result in a) tortured, angsty redemption-by-true-love between Our Heroes; b) old-married-couple chatter while totally ignoring the half-naked girl at the foot of the bed; and c) the single most unconvincing hetero kiss since Star Wars Episode II, respectively.

And let’s not even talk about the weight of history behind that couple. I mean, look at Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan in previous X-Men movies, with their crackling tension and their paradoxical air of strange tenderness combined with the spite of jilted lovers. Both pairs of actors portray it brilliantly: they may have their causes, their followers, their right-hand women, their ambitions for mankind, but they are the axes of each others’ worlds, the bright centers of their combined consciousness, and without their love the entire franchise is a teenage drama with occasional (completely badass) cameos by Wolverine.

In short: clearly, they are gay.

Also: Wolverine is the Tony Stark of his universe. Just as you can’t find an Avengers prequel (let’s face it, that’s what they are) that doesn’t throw in a one-liner about Stark (in case the movie really sucks and they need to imbue it with a touch of Iron Man’s success), you will never find an X-Men movie in which Wolverine doesn’t sneer at the camera and unapologetically tell everyone in the audience to fuck off.

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