Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The techno-nots of Maura

I've been at home sick for the good part of the last week and half with some sort of nasty cold thing. I am feeling pretty tired most of the time with a linger cough. As I said to my boss today, I don't have my Mauraness, and quite frankly I miss my Mauraness.

So the time at home has allowed me to be productive on some parts: list things on ebay, clean my closest, sort through books, all things good for my impending move, as well as watch The Devil Wears Prada 3 million times and Pride and Prejudice 5 million times. I've been blazing through Scrabulous games with my cousin, and reading blogs. There was a recent series of posts on techno-nots, which got me thinking about my own techno-nots. I am pretty good at most things technology, but I also have my shortcomings.

  • My ex boyfriend had about 5 remotes to work the TV, cable, DVD player, and some other things that controlled the sound for all these devices. I never figured them out after many years together. Remotes just baffle me. I once had a job at a cable company where I'd have to help people program their remotes over the phone. I would rather be yelled at for ten minutes than help someone program their remote.
  • I often don't know why a computer has frozen or a program stopped working, so I just recommend a restart and 99% of the time that seems to do the trick. Like right now, my co-worker said the printer wasn't working. I suggested turning it off and then back on. 99% of the time, it works!
  • I pretend to be all non interested in gaming, but really I would love a Nintendo Wii, and I had dreams about playing Guitar Hero after that one time at with some friends. Though, I am a bit scornful at other types of games, like World of Warcraft and Runescape.
  • I had a lot of trouble when transferring oatmeal by noon to the new server. I had to enlist a friend to help me set up the new space, and it turns out I didn't import the right files to rebuild it. Whoops!
  • I used to know a lot about networks, ftp, web stuff, html and css. I don't use this on a daily basis so most of it is lying dormant in my brain.
  • I've been told a million times how to restart the print server, but I just can't figure it out on my own.
  • I'm not very good at securing home networks or even for that matter my personal computer. It is so bad, but I think because I have a Mac, I am somehow immune to viruses and other yucky things.
  • I just started backing up 4 months ago.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

BAM Feb 2008: The Surgeons

Due to a feverish cold last week, I was able to finish my February Selection for the BAM Challenge. I had selected a nonfiction piece, as last month's read was very romantical. In keeping with the theme of hearts, I went for the literal interpretation and selected a book about heart surgeons. I read The Surgeons: Life and Death in a Top Heart Center by Charles R. Morris.

The first half of the book was engaging and interesting. Morris was able to gain behind the scenes access to one of the top heart centers and hospitals in the US. Soon he blended into the wallpaper, and was able to present two in depth case studies of patients at Columbia-Presbyterian, an older gentleman and a young girl who ultimately died. Morris also focused on the lives of the heart surgeons which gave insight into the lives of these extraordinary problem solvers. Morris probed to learn what it takes to be a heart surgeon, including skill development, training and education, character, problem solving skills and salary. He gave us primary information by posting the notes of one surgeons diary, detailing his surgeries and challenges.

The second half of the book was very dry and not as engaging. Morris discussed quite a bit about policy, money and the future of health care: the business side of heart surgery and health care. I found this to be all rather boring, and not as personal as the work of saving lives. I am drawn to the stories about the surgeons and the difficult choices that need to be made, like the explanation of the transplant process and decision making tree. His prose was accessible, with the mechanics of surgery and the heart easily explained, including a helpful appendix. However, when discussing salaries and comparing them to what other New Yorkers make and the different kinds of work they do, was quite compelling and Morris made the argument that based on the kind of work heart surgeons do and the outcomes, they are underpaid.

I might pursue another book for the second half of the month... perhaps something a bit more romantical....