August 2007 Archives

Wed Aug 29 6:29PM (2007)

Quote of the Day

"In normal circumstances, people who turn their backs on reality are soon set straight by the mockery and criticism of those around them, which makes them aware they have lost credibility. In the Third Reich there were no such correctives, especially for those who belonged to the upper stratum. On the contrary, every self-deception was multiplied as in a hall of distorting mirrors, becoming a repeatedly confirmed picture of a fantastical dream world which no longer bore any relationship to the grim outside world"

-- Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs, as quoted in Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

Posted by Ed | Permanent link

Sun Aug 19 3:16PM (2007)

A Thread of Grace

"A million deaths is a statistic", but every death -- and life -- has its tale. Mary Doria Russell weaves a dark but rich tapestry quietly filled with not one but countless threads of grace.

The setting is Northern Italy during the Second World War. Russell picks up the disrupted lives of Jewish refugees escaping persecution and of the people who shelter them. Keeping a tight focus on a small number of individuals illustrates the beauty of each life, each thread. Russell's quiet matter-of-fact voice suffuses each tragedy with a significance that no other tone could match, each character with an almost palpable nobility that makes the pages feel alive. Through these few lives and deaths we begin to get a small sense of the unimaginable horror of WWII, of war itself.

"A Thread of Grace" is often brutal--not gory, but its simple everyday narration is merciless. This is a book that will haunt me.

Posted by Ed | Permanent link | File under: Books

Sat Aug 04 5:13PM (2007)

Trima machines

The new Trima machines are a big success. The staff were so enthusiastic about them, and I can see why! I loved today's collection.

The machine has a large, friendly screen that can be angled toward the donor. Entering donor info is simple, as is deciding what to collect. Based on my previous platelet count, the ABQ office decided to draw two units of platelets and one RBC (just the red, not whole). So even though the new machines are much faster -- the first unit of platelets took only 50 minutes -- I still ended up spending a long time, and wasn't able to make the 10:15 Vinyasa class at Body.

The procedure itself was much better than the old Haemonetics. The cycle is 2 minutes draw, 30 seconds return, compared to 10/5 (or thereabouts) on the old machines. There's also no increased pressure on the cuff, and no need to stop squeezing. And no need to count cycles: the Trima's display shows the time left, as well as quantity of platelets/plasma/RBC collected. (Yes, I can look at the bags, but I don't have a feel for how full they need to be). Rocio's only complaint? "I don't have enough to do."

The new machines are on tour this month, on a trial basis for the mobile units. I hope they work out well: I really liked my experience today, and three units for the cost (time) of one certainly seems worthwhile.

Posted by Ed | Permanent link

Sat Aug 04 4:54PM (2007)

Over Easy Cafe

Today's NYT crossword utterly humiliated me. UBS had their new Trima machines set up -- and they are wonderful indeed -- but instead of a quicker draw I got to do a double platelet and single red cell donation. 83 minutes, not counting the stick and takedown, and most of that was spent staring in frustration at a barely filled in grid. Byron Walden, I concede. You have bested me.

Afterward, I was consoled by a Grande Handheld breakfast burrito -- chorizo green -- at Over Easy Cafe right next to UBS. This place really knows how to make a good burrito: crisp cubed browns, not soggy shredded potatoes. Tasty eggs, tender and fluffy and voluminous. Excellent chorizo. The chile was weak today, but we all have our off days (the chile last month was perfect). Second Breakfast at Over Easy has become something to look forward to on the first Saturday of each month.

Posted by Ed | Permanent link | File under: Food