Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Horrible Blogger

Yes, I have been a horrible blogger these days. No entries in November? Wow. For those of you who knew me in my past life as a medical blogger, you can vouch that I was very diligent about updating things.

Anyway, life and work have been a bit crazy as always. But I just had a wonderful vacation in Hawaii that helped me to re-charge my batteries. I will try to post some pictures once I get them on this computer.

Over the weekend we attended an open house holiday party that featured a lady making balloon animals. It has always been a secret desire of mine to learn to make a balloon giraffe. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that she was not just making animals and swords for the kids, but was offering teaching for adults. We learned to make turtles, which are much harder than they look. And, of course, the giraffe, which is actually an easier animal to start with. It was great fun.

We left the party in absolutely pouring rain and went to wait for the bus. When it finally arrived it was being driven by a rather surly looking driver. I can't imagine driving a huge vehicle on narrow streets in the cold rain is much fun. But when we got on the bus carrying the animals I saw him break into a smile, just for a second. There's nothing like balloon animals to brighten up even the rainiest of days.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Off Road Adventure

The next day after the saga of the white truck in the garage we headed out of town for an off-roading ostrich adventure. Wait... off-roading ostrich adventure? Yes, you read that right.

This was our vehicle for the outing. It was complete with a very fun, ostrich rancher tour guide who clearly loved being a woman driving a huge truck.

We saw nests in the wild. Guess what ladies? The male ostrich spends half the time watching over the nest as you see here.

And that thing about the ostrich with its head in the sand? Apparently, that is a myth that is based on the female ostrich turning the eggs in the next. Since the nest is a hole in the ground,from afar it looks like her head is buried in the sand.

We also got to go fishing for ostrich. Fishing in the desert? For ostrich? You take a large pole with a rope, some grapefruit, get on a tall platform, and watch them go to town fighting over the fruit.

It was a ton of fun and we got to see some great desert scenery too. When we got back we fed the ostrich, deer, burros and lorakeets. If you're ever in Picacho Peak, AZ be sure to check the ostrich ranch out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On Vacation

This week I am on vacation. I am so happy about this because I was getting to the point of desperately needing a change of scenery. We decided to head out of town for the desert for the weekend to get some sun and natural beauty. My good friend Hotwire found us a cheap deal on a hotel that looked decent, so we were feeling pretty good.

When we arrived at the hotel it seemed a bit dated in decor. But the room was clean, the bed was decent, and the staff was friendly so it wasn't bad. However, the parking situation was a bit bizarre. It involved parking in an adjoining parking garage that had several stories. The only way to get into the main parking areas was to enter the garage, make a sharp right turn, and then wind your way up this really narrow parking ramp that our small-mid size rental car could barely clear without scraping the walls.

I guess the garage was built when everyone drove a VW bug. Given that most people in the desert seem to prefer large SUVs and trucks, it seem like a bit of a mismatch. When you entered the garage there was a sign that stated that large trucks and vans should turn left and park on the ground floor.

So Saturday night we come in after dinner, coffee, and hanging out with a friend. As we enter the garage we are following a large Ford F-150 pickup truck. I figured it would hang a left, but no, it turned right and started towards the ramp. I gave them tons of room by hanging back, figuring they would simply see the tiny entrance to the ramp and reverse out of there. Wrong again. The truck tries to turn up the ramp and cannot swing wide enough to make the turn. Instead of stopping and backing out, the driver then tries to run the back wheels up onto the ramp and gets the left rear side of the truck stuck on the metal pylons. The roof of the cab got stuck again the low clearance roof in the front. It was a mess.

The occupants of said vehicle appeared to have had a lot to drink, so I assume our good friend alcohol contributed to the mess. They stood around, at a loss for what to do, and finally begun letting the air out of the tires. It looked like they were going to have several thousand dollars of body work damage when they finally got it out of there.

We reversed out and ended up parking in the large vehicle spots. A hotel maintenance guy had come out and told us to tell the front desk where we were parked due the the problem. The lady at the desk then informed us that we would get a ticket if we parked in the large vehicle spots and we need to move further into the garage. Our attempts to explain that a large truck was stuck and blocking the only entrance to the garage upper levels were meet with a confused stare. Finally, she told us we could just ignore the tow ticket that they would not tow us overnight. Um, okay.

The next morning the truck was removed from the ramp and nowhere in the lot. I guess they checked out early. More drama in the desert is still to come so stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bad Blogger

I just realized it has been a month since I last posted. Crazy.

Honestly, there has not been much to write about. Just a lot of work.

And not taking public transit everyday really cuts down on the fodder for entries.

Monday, September 8, 2008

At The Symphony

Things have been busy lately... new rotation, on-call this past weekend. Since I have had no life in the city to blog about, I figured I'd share this anecdote passed on by an older friend of my family.

Being a cultured individual, he attended a recent Sunday matinee at the symphony. If you've ever been to the symphony, especially on a weekend afternoon, you may have noticed that the average age of the patrons is definitely somewhere in the realm of breing, shall we say, well into the Medicare demographic. At the intermission he walked over to use the restroom. There was a crowd waiting by the door. Suddenly, as he got closer, he realized it was a line for the men's room. Yes, you read that right. There was a line for the men's room and not the women's room. He got in the line and waited. And waited. Somewhat amused and a bit indignant he turned to the guy in front of him, "why is there a line? This is unusual." The guy answered "look around at who's here. We're the prostate crowd."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Taming of the Rat

When exiting the train station I have come to recognize several homeless people who hang out near the entrance panhandling and selling "street sheet" newspapers. The other day I realized that one of them was selling her papers sitting down instead of standing as usual. In her lap was a large, dirty gray rat, the type that you see running along the train tracks. She was feeding it some bread and stroking it. It looks like she had been able to tame it and turn it into a pet. My hat is off to her because it must not have been easy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


They have been renovating our building recently and making the hallways more modern and bright. Overall, the changes have been good because when we first moved in it was kind of dark and scary. But during this last week they re-did the elevator, which was circa the mid-1970's, and I am not sure the "new" elevator was a step in the right direction.

Basically, they put down some fake marble linoleum flooring and covered all of the elevator walls with this low-pile beige carpet. I have no issues with the floor because it looks a lot nicer. But with the elevator being as small and confined as it is, the soft beige walls now remind me of the solitary confinement rooms for decompensating patients that I saw in the inpatient psychiatric facilities during my 3rd year of medical school. It's a bit creepy. Oh well, I guess it's motivation to take the stairs and get some exercise.

Monday, August 18, 2008

How My Brain Feels After Step 3 Day 1

Sorry for the lack of posts. I have hardly left the house for the past 4 days of cramming for Step 3. Today I took the first part and my brain feels like it just got spun silly by an ostrich. Yes, you read that right. Now check out this footage from one of my favorite events of all time: The Virginia City, NV Camel Races.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Heat and Steel

It was pretty hot here today. And the summer heat means that the buses are just miserable. I got out of the hospital a bit later than usual and found a crowd waiting at the bus stop. I know from experience that this points to a packed, steamy, miserable ride home. There were no buses in sight, so I walked a block back to the previous stop on the route. Soon enough the bus pulled up and I got one of the few remaining seats in the very stuffy back of the bus.

The back of the bus always has a distinctive odor. It's usually a mixture of body odor, cheap cologne, and stale cigarette smoke. Today was no exception, and there was even a strong alcohol smell overshadowing the usual suspects. I pulled out my book and tried to focus on reading while I wondered who on the vicinity smelled like they just fell out of a bar.

Within a couple of stops the bus was packed. A rather scruffy looking guy managed to elbow his way to the back through the crowd and someone got up and offered him a seat. The new arrival looked to be a bit mentally unstable as he sat down, muttered to himself, and started to dig through a big dirty backpack. Everyone around him went back to their respective activities... sort of.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I noticed the guy pulling something really shiny out of the backpack. I discretely glanced over and noted that he had pulled two large daggers out of the bag. That's right--daggers. These were real daggers, like mini-swords. They looked like they could cause extreme bodily harm. It seemed like everyone noticed the daggers at the same time. A tense feeling of silence fell over the back of the bus. Everyone looked away. What do you do in a situation like this? We all seemed to opt for remaining very quiet and sat still, trying not to look, while the guy played with the daggers. He rubbed them together, banged them around, ran the dull surfaces across his needle-tracked arms, and muttered the whole time.

After a few minutes of this I decided that I wanted off the bus at the next stop. Who knew what this guy could do. I figured I could easily make it out since I was between him and the door. All of a sudden, he jumped up and started down the aisle with his daggers. Everyone froze... and then he quietly exited the bus, daggers and all...

We all exhaled and resumed reading/listening to music/texting/etc. It was quite a day in the summer heat.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Urban Dictionary on Wheels

My daily bus ride has been a very educational experience this week. I have learned a ton of new vocabulary words by overhearing random conversations. It's so much better than Urban Dictionary because it's live and I get all the context and the players involved. Of course, I am guessing on some of the meanings based on context, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Here are a couple of my new words relating to illegal activities.

"We got rapped the other night."
Rapped - got busted by the cops for doing something illegal

"How long is he gonna sit down for?"
Sit down - be in jail

And I knew that "snitch" was used as a noun for someone who rats someone else out. But I had not heard it as a verb until the other day.
"He started snitchin and got us rapped."
Told the cops about their illegal activities.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Adventures in Gluten-Free Baking

Yesterday I had to give a journal club and bring in food. I made gluten-free brownies from a mix and everyone loved them. This success motivated me to bust out my gluten-free flour and cookbook and give some chocolate chip cookies from scratch a try. Supposedly, with the proper ratio of gluten-free flour and xanthan gum, you can follow a traditional wheat-based recipe with the same proportions of flour. We decided to take a trip back to childhood and make the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse chocolate chips.

The first clue that something might be amiss was probably the runny consistency of the batter after we followed the recipe to a T. Was it the Smart Balance Trans-fat free spread we used? Or was the gluten-free ratio just a bit off? Who knows. We plowed ahead and put teaspoonfuls of "dough" on the cookie sheet. Into the oven it went and within a few minutes we noted the "cookies" were running together a bit. By the time they came out 10 minutes later, they gave the term "cookie sheet" a whole new literal meaning. We had a sheet of chocolate chip cookie. It was rather hard to get off the pan and came out in big, flat chunks. Luckily, it tastes good, but is very aesthetically unpleasing.

We decided to bail on traditional cookies that that point since it was clear that they would not hold their shape. We dumped the remaining batter into well-greased a baking pan and created a cookie-brownie-cake sort of thing. Hopefully it will taste good. Better luck next time.

Update: it is yummy, like a very delicately textured brownie with excellent cookie flavor. And you can never go wrong with chocolate.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Free Food

I get free meals at the hospital. Every morning I go through the line and get the same thing: 2 hard-boiled eggs. It is the only gluten-free thing they have that I can see besides the Gatorade and tired, tasteless apples brought out of storage from last winter. And every morning the lady who serves me the eggs says with surprise, "is that all? Are you sure? You're so tiny." Either she is determined to get me to gain the intern 15 before my rotation ends, or she is just baffled by my order after serving orders along the lines of "1 cheese omlette, 2 hashbrowns, 3 sausages, 3 strips of bacon, and a cinnamon bun, to go please." Just because you work at a hospital doesn't mean you eat healthy food.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Save The Tree Octopus

This site is hilarious. I love it. Apparently, it was made as part of an experiment where college students were asked to visit the site and evaluate whether it was a reliable source of information. You can see what the study showed in this article if you want.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Quote of the Day

On the bus:

Elderly-looking but probably only in her mid-50s toothless woman (to no one in particular): I like to shop at Big Lots. Love my Big Lots. They got some good deals and some rip-offs. I can get my Lite Beer for $4 for a 6-pack.

(long pause)

You gotta be careful though. Or else you can leave with $100 of stuff you didn't intend on buying.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Flat (Tire) Broke

I stepped off the bus today to find a rather disheveled looking man with wild, tangled jet black hair circling around and around the bus stop on a broken child's bicycle with a sagging rear tire. He was singing:

(to the tune of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow")

No tengo nada dinero,
No tengo nada dinero,
No tengo nada dinero,
dinero, dinero, dinero.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Damn Computer

I was playing around with the CD that the USMLE sent me for taking Step 3. On Step 3 there are these simulated patients that you have to manage in 25 minutes. I had no idea what I was doing with the software and the little tutorial did not help much. My case was an ED patient with shortness of breath who clearly had tension pneumothorax. I was trying to manage him and all of the sudden the computer says:

"Your patient is lying very still. He is gasping for breath. He is unresponsive."

Damn, I think in other words they are trying to tell me I killed the patient.

Friday, July 18, 2008

You Get What You Pay For

It has been a busy week but I finally have some time to sit down and ponder the funny moments of the past few days. The week started with quite a bang literally. We'll get to that. On Saturday I headed out of the city to attend a medical conference at a resort destination not too far from here. Since I just started residency, I could not get the time off to attend the whole conference. But a mentor of mine suggested I come down for the final part of it to do some networking. By the time I made this plan, all of the lodging for the conference was full and all of the hotels/motel in the immediate vicinity were booked as well. The few rooms I could find were very pricey--like over $150.00/night to stay at the Howard Johnson's. Then I found a deal. Only $99/night, steps from the ocean, underground parking. Right. I knew something had to be wrong with it, so I read some reviews and it sounded like it if you just wanted a clean, basic room with a decent bed to sleep on for a night, this was the place.

As we drove into the area where the motel was, I suddenly saw this three story pink monstrosity coming into view. The building was bright, florescent pink--like the color of a pink plastic lawn flamingo-- except in areas where the stucco was peeling off to reveal a barf orange color cement wall. There was a dry mermaid fountain in front with the paint peeling off the mermaid's face to give her the appearance of a cyclops. My stomach sank because I knew it was our hotel.

We checked in and were told we were "upgraded" to the second floor. As we opened the door to the room it smashed into the bed which was scrunched up against the door. After squeezing into the room, we noted that the television was precariously bolted to the ceiling in the middle of the room and looked like it would come crashing down in even the smallest of earthquakes. The sink and surrounding counter were only about three feet off the ground. It was so low that the motel had provided a small, dirty stool with stuffing coming out of the seat for us to sit on to use the sink. The sheets had cigarette burns in them, the couch had some mysterious stains on its sagging pillows, and there were small signs adorning items like the alarm clock that read, "unauthorized removal of this item from the room will result in charges to your account."
Luckily, there was not time to stay long as we had to get over to the conference. Out the door we headed hoping that the room would seem better when we got back late that night to sleep.


When we arrived around midnight we noted that the outside parking lot was full and we needed to pull into the underground parking garage. In we went and to our horror found that a big chunk of it was flooded. That was where the remaining normal parking spots were. Having a tiny car, however, we managed to squeeze into a spot in a drier area that was next a huge SUV taking up its spot and almost half of ours. Relieved to have fit, we jumped over the water and made it into the elevator. Up we went.. and then we stopped on the first floor. Into the elevator stepped a very drunk couple. They seemed shocked to see us and began asking us if we had just come from a bar that we could recommend to them. Sorry, we told them, we don't know bars in the area. The elevator stopped on the second floor and we got out of the elevator. The couple followed us down the walkway, staggering and laughing. As we tried to open the door to our room around the bed, I noticed that the couple was going into the room next to ours. This could be bad if they stay up and are loud, I thought.

We got in and decided to watch a movie for a bit. We could hear the couple talking since the walls were paper thin, but they soon stopped. Maybe they passed out. The bed sucked but it was late so we decided to stop the movie and get some sleep so we could jet out of there early the next morning.


Bang, bang, bang, bang, squeak, squeak, squeak, bang, bang. What the hell is that? I bolted up in bed and saw that it was 6 am. Suddenly, I realized it was the couple next door having sex on the other side of the paper-thin wall. They were so loud. I put in earplugs and I could still hear them. That was it. We were done. We got up, packed our bags and left our tiny room with the couple squeaking, banging, and moaning away in the pink monstrosity by the beach.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

You Had a Bad Week

On a Crowded Hospital Shuttle

Resident (on cell phone): I'm on the bus and it's crowded, so I have to talk quietly.

There is a moment of silence as the person on the other end of the line talks.

Resident (in an even louder voice than before): It's going well, I'm glad to be here, but it has been a rough week.

Another pause as the other person talks.

Resident (even more loudly so it is hard not to hear throughout the bus): Well, in the past week my dog got sick and had to go to the emergency vet, I got hit by a car while riding my bike, and our apartment nearly burned down and the fire department had to come and put it out.

Damn, now that's what The Lone Coyote calls a very bad week.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Overheard on the bus:

Early 20s woman: (very loudly to her flaming gay friend) Don't you just love Billie Holiday?
Her friend: Yeah, her stuff is cool.
Early 20s woman: Me and my ex-boyfriend used to put Billie Holiday on in the winter, light a fire in the fireplace, and made love on the couch like every night.
Her friend: Really!?!
Early 20s woman: It was so fucking romantic. (Sighs) Sometimes I miss him, but I know I'm better off without him.
Her friend: Really? Why?
Early 20s woman: He was such a sweet guy and so good to me. I was just too young and not ready to be with him.
Her friend: What happened?
Early 20s woman: I totally cheated on him with all these other guys. I fucked like four other people. (smiles) In a way I don't really regret it because it was fun.

Monday, July 7, 2008

After Work

At a bus stop outside the county hospital.

Man (clad in dirty jeans and a T-shirt, carrying a backpack, talking to no one in particular): I got my meds, got my meds got my meds.

(He moves closer to a woman in scrubs)

Man (to woman): I got my meds and I got out of the hospital today. The psych hospital.

Woman (avoiding eye contact): Mmmhmmm.

Man (looking around): I like it here. It's much better than Miami where I came from. People here are much nicer.

Woman (still avoids contact): Mmmhmmm.

Man (looking around some more): Hey, isn't that a liquor store over there?

Woman (not looking at him or the liquor store): Mmmmhmmm.

Man: Whoa, in all the cities I've been to, I've never seen a liquor store that close to a hospital. (long pause)
Well, I guess those doctors need to do and get drunk after work when they spend their days dealing with crazy people like me!

Friday, July 4, 2008


Welcome to The Lone Coyote's newest blog. If you hopped over from my past life as a medical student, be aware that this blog is going to be a bit different. This is not a medical blog. In fact, it might aptly be subtitled "Anything But Residency." There may be some time when medical things are mentioned, but overall this one is going to look at the sites and sounds of life in the city. My inspiration for this is more along the lines of Overheard in New York than any of my medical blogging heroes. If you have enjoyed my random observations on life outside the hospital, you may enjoy this blog as well. So if you're on board sit tight or grab on tightly to the handrail above you because this is going to be a wild ride.