Shoe Money Tonight

Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Notes from rehearsal

So as my earlier post noted, I'm singing in a concert this weekend. What follows are some things that went through my head during rehearsal.

If your a soloist (especially if your being paid) and its less than a week until the concert, you should not need help with entrances and notes.

There is a fine line between sounding strong/powerful and sounding strident/shrill.

Why is it, that some people, even if they come every week will lose their place because they don't know where the cuts are, but I have every marking down and my pages paper-clipped (and I've missed almost half the rehearsals for this concert)?

Why is it that some soloists can't seem to realize that if your singing with a chorus you can't always play around with the music and you might actually have to sing it as it's written?

Do you hear the people sing is a hard song for a second alto to sing and sound angry and forceful on - too many high notes.

So how come a solo for an alto part in a medley is listed as a soprano solo?

And now that I think about it, why are there so few good roles in musical theater for an alto?

New lyrics to Stars: "And if you fall as Lucifer fell you fall in spit." (you probably had to be there to get the joke)

Kudos to my director for discussing something that often bothers me. Our dress rehearsal is on a different night than usual and also starts earlier than a regular rehearsal does. It's also in a location that requires us to travel on some of the busiest local roadways at rush hour. She acknowledged those who kill themselves to arrive on time (or as close to it as possible), those who might lose money because they have to leave work early, etc. Then she addressed the others. If you were to look at the pictures on the BCAS website (link in my post below), you will note that a fair number of our members are of retirement age. I'd guess about 1/4th of the group doesn't work (stay at home parent, retired, etc). There are a small number of those few who consistently come late to every rehearsal. And as someone who will attempt to move mountains to get to rehearsal at all, much less on time, it is frustrating to see people take rehearsal that lightly. And she let them know it.

Cheap Shameless Plug

I sing with a local chorus, the Buffalo Choral Arts Society. Our upcoming concert is celebrating our 40th anniversary as a chorus. We will be performing at a local venue in park, a place called Artpark . Its actually a pretty cool place. The concert is this Sunday June 4, 2006 at 3pm. If you click on either link you can find out more about us as a chorus and how to buy tickets to the concert, which is titled, For the Love of Song.

End of shameless plug.

BTW - my review of X3 (which I saw over the weekend) in encapsulated form. I loved it. BTW, stay until the credits are over (we didn't and missed a quick little extra scene).

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Define schadenfreude:

5 lowlives with a shotgun and a .380 try to mug a waiter on his way home from work.

Said waiter is a retired Marine carrying a pocketknife.

The results are fairly predictable.

Clarification: A Marine who has been honorably discharged is a "former Marine," or, as I prefer, a "retired Marine". "Ex-Marine" is reserved for dirtbags like John Murtha.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Once again, it is Memorial Day. Today is not a day to simply break out the grill, not the day to have the first generic family party of the summer, and it is not a day to celebrate stupid sales. Today is the day to remember what we have, and those who sacrificed to make it possible.

In honor of that, I hereby post a few links to some of our favorite milblogs. While this is not to downplay the valiant efforts of the 101st, today I wanted to focus on those who've really been there.

Black Five
The Mudville Gazette

(Updated 2:25 PM for grammatical clarity)

Update (3:48 PM)

To truly put it in perspective, one need only read this:

It is the Soldier...

How I spent my weekend

So, I had a rare three day weekend. Especially since this one did not entail me being on call on a Thursday night. And what did I do with my precious free time. We painted the porch. As those who have seen our house know, the front porch was covered with green indoor/outdoor carpeting. Ick. So we ripped it all off, repainted the railings, primed and painted the steps. All of this was done in several hour increments in three days. And did I mention that it got to 80 yesterday and is going up to 86 today? Click here for pics. Yes, that is me in my paining jeans and floppy straw hat.

We did get a bonus look at a baby bird!!!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Death to those who would dare attack The Manolo.

As if I didn't need yet another reason not to touch the OS that seems at times like nothing but a patchwork of various security holes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Organ Donation

Organ donation has always been a pet project of mine. I was the president of the Organ Donation Interest Group at my medical school. I also worked on the Decision for Life project, which was geared toward education minorities about organ donation and encouraging organ donation. Organ donation is one of the most generous gestures a person or family can make. It has a profound impact on many lives.

There was an Op-Ed published in the New York Times a few days ago, titled Death's Waiting List . In it, Sally Satel talked about what it was like to wait for an organ (she received a kidney transplant) and put forth some suggestions as to what the government could do to improve the situation. She is one of the lucky ones because she got her kidney after being on the list for only a year. She does make some interesting arguments.

First, she points out that the Institute of Medicine issued a report titled "Organ Donation: Opportunities for Action" in which they only suggest one new initiative. They recommended expanding eligibility beyond brain death to people who die from cardiac arrest. Since there are a much larger number of people who die from cardiac arrest, this could potentially include more organs to the system. I think this is a great idea. This doesn't mean all of the people would actually qualify to donate or that their organs would be viable - but it still increases numbers.

Secondly she discusses some other options that she felt the NIM should have discussed. The European system is interesting. In contrast to the system in this country, where you need to expressly state your desire to donate and (in many states) tell your family of your intentions, in Europe they have "presumed consent." This means that it is assumed you wish to donate your organs unless you sign an "opt-out" card. This is an interesting idea. It would certainly increase the number of available organs. But I do find the idea of "presumed consent" slightly discomforting. There are some cultures that view organ donation as a desecration of the body, and if the way to opt out is not well publicized, it is possible for someone who does not wish to donate to become a donor by default.

Another option she discussed was offering incentives to donate, giving things in life to people who are willing to donate after death. Traditionally, this has not been discussed much because it is perceived as being "organs for sale." I think that the sale of organs should be banned. However, I think that if someone makes the choice to donate their organs deserves something. I know that in some states, living donors can have their medical expenses related to the donation covered by the state. I think that this is a good idea.

And there are options to donate while living. Living kidney transplants are being performed all the time. Live liver donor transplants are also being performed. There is a long list of people waiting for bone marrow transplants.

Last week I had the privilege to provide anesthesia to a living kidney donor. He was giving his kidney to his father. It also meant that there were TV cameras in the OR, because a local news program was doing a feature story on them. I admire the son. He's in his twenties and decided to give a kidney to his father. This puts him at risk of kidney problems in the future simply because he has one less kidney. Then there was the risk of the surgical procedure and the anesthetic. Essentially, we were performing surgery on a person who doesn't need it.

Think about being a donor. Talk to your family about it and make sure they know your wished. Check out the National Donor Marrow Program . Donate life.

Monday, May 15, 2006


So, Peter and I are having a dinner party this weekend as an excuse to break out the formal china. Of course, that meant I had to finally take all the stickers off everything and wash the dishes. I knew it was going to take a while, but I really didn't expect it to take as long as it did. I spent 4 hours today, mostly fighting with the stupid stickers. To give you and idea of how much I had to clean - 5 piece place settings for 12, salt and pepper shaker, 2 veg dishes, gravy boat and saucer, creamer, sugar. Over the course of the four hours, several things came to mind.

1. Why do they put the stickers on the INSIDE of the coffee cups?
2. Is there some reason they use the type of glue that refuses to allow the sticker to come off in less than 45 pieces?
3. Why do all 5 pieces of the thing sold as a set each need a sticker?

Plus, I broke one of the coffee mugs and had to order a new one. That happened early on, so I was paranoid and highly stressed for the remainder.

A piece of advice to someone who has a similarly large amount of china to clean - do it a bit at a time and don't try and do it all at once. You'll get too frustrated.

I do believe.

So why did it take me until now to post about the Sabres stunning win over the Sens this weekend? Easy, I was on call yesterday. Check out my friend Jim's post on his immediate post-game reaction. Also worth a listen is this . I must say, the Sabres have one of the best radio commentators I have ever heard.

I barely saw any of the game (we were out doing the Mother's Day thing with my parents) but I saw the most important part. I saw Jason Pominville score the first short-handed overtime goal in NHL playoff history. ESPN's Sportscenter on Sunday morning called that the #1 play in their top 10 rundown. What struck me most about the Sabres throughout the season and even more so in the playoffs is the players themselves. With the exception of Ryan Miller it is hard to pick out a single player who stands out as the hero of the playoffs. We don't just have one or two stars, our team is truly that, a team. If one player is out with injury or having an off game, others bring their level of play up. And we don't give up.

I also watched with great pride, Miller's response to a very loaded question asked to him an a post-game interview. He was asked about being passed over for the US Olympic team, something many hockey commentators (even those not in Buffalo) expressed surprise about. He very politely said that is was their decision, pointed out he had a broken thumb at the time, and said he cheered on the US team. Basically, he refused to take the bait and showed that he is a polite and well spoken person.

I believe we can win the Stanley Cup. But to my beloved Sabres I say this: Whether you come home Stanley Cup Champions or after losing in the East finals, you have done a wonderful job this season. You have served us well and I am proud to say that I am a Sabres fan.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Why am I not at mass?

ES1 & I should be heading to mass. As the only usher without any gray hairs, I'm sure my presence will be missed. ES1, however, was reminded by her mother what today was. Today is something we just don't feel like dealing with.

A few years ago, our church decided that 1st communions should be rolled into a regular mass. In addition, they decided that it should be the 4:30 Saturday Mass, not the dedicated Children's Mass every Sunday at 10:00 AM.

Firstly, 4:30 Saturday Mass is for people with busy schedules, so they can still go to worship. 1st communions tend to severely increase the length of a mass. They do this without giving any warning that the next week's mass will be longer.

If it were that alone, we would suck it up and deal. What is most annoying, however, is the people in attendance. There are vast crowds of people showing up and treating this like some typical family event. Adults are talking in the pews, children are playing with toys, people are running back and forth to say hi to Aunt Marge (this is during the service, mind you) and the whole group is generally demonstrating a severe lack of decorum. It is quite clear by their behavior that the last mass they attended was their own wedding, or perhaps Christmas 1997. There is no respect, no reverence, and absolutely no clue as to why we are here in church.

In addition, the organization level rivals that of that of the Alliance/Reaver battle in Serenity. Each kid is given their own pew for their family to sit in, along the center aisle. Invariably, however, they also have random family and friends who, having shown up late, are scattered throughout the church. When time comes for communion, the kids are called individually, and every 13th cousin, seated between 2 elderly regulars, climbs over people to get up, and the rest of us have to wait until the trampling is over. Then when those of us who, like actually go to mass every week and stuff, are finally called, we have to climb over 15 people who've already gone. They've tried actually asking only those family members in the pews with the children to go up, but that is ignored by the mass of oblivions who just climb over people anyway. Rules are just for us Jesus freaks anyway.

We love our church. The 4:30 masses always have a good crowd, we have a dedicated parish community, a great school, and a pretty vibrant church overall. What annoys the bejeezus out of us is people showing up and turning it into a freak show. ES1 has to be on 24 hour call tomorrow, so this was her only chance to go. She's none too thrilled about missing mass, but then, it doesn't really end up feeling like a mass, just a fsck'd up excuse for one.

Friday, May 12, 2006


I'm not talking about the Sabres performance last night. Sure, they lost. But they played 3 great games in a row. They only need to win more. If we're gonna have an off night (everybody has those) last night was as good a night as any.

What I'm referring to is the fans performance during the national anthems. The Canadian anthem was sung first, out of respect (the Ottawa games featured ours first). There was an audible boo from the fans. It wasn't too long ago that there was a quasi-big uproar over Canadian fans booing our anthem. If that was disrespectful, so was the performance of our fans. If you don't wanna sing, don't sing. But stand up and shut up.

And this after I just blogged praising our fans. Grrr.

I was caught a bit off guard by Ronan Tynan singing "God Bless America" as opposed to "The Star Spangled Banner," but he hit it flawlessly, and it was a great performance. This morning on WGR I heard a few fans talking superstitiously about not singing the actual national anthem. Fooey, say I. It's a patriotic hymn, that was sung very well.

Aside: For those who are unaware, ES1 is an Alto II. She's practically a tenor. She hit every note of BOTH songs flawlessly. It was almost disturbing.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Dumb instructions or dumb instructees?

Welcome visitors from this week's Medical Grand Rounds. If you're wondering about the name of the blog, please look in the archives for the post of Wed March 8th.

Of late, there have been a few articles in the press about cooking and the average American's ability to cook. One of the topics was the "dumbing down" of recipe instructions. Instructions like cream, braise, saute have been all but removed from modern cookbooks. Or, like the Joy of Cooking, there is now a glossary with definitions of cooking terms. Tonight my husband and I tried out a new recipe. We decided to buy some frozen garlic bread to heat up and have with our dinner. I found the instructions very amusing. First we were to cook the bread as is in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Then we were to open the bread and cook it for another 5-7 minutes. The amusing part, was that they specified to place the bread "spread side up" when cooking it open. Is the average American home cook that stupid? It would make sense to cook it spread side up, otherwise it would make a horrible mess and likely burn. I think that deserves to go on the list of really stupid things on instructions. Like the instructions on the portable iron that say not to iron clothes while wearing them.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Now that is class

I'm watching the Sabres game right now. Connolly was hit pretty bad, and went down. He was motionless for a few seconds. When he got up about 10-15 seconds later, there was an audible cheer from Ottawa fans. That shows a general classiness that some other cities *cough* Philly *cough* simply lack.

Buffalo is a pretty safe place for an opposing team's fans. I've sat at Bills games among groups pretty evenly split between Dolphins fans and Bills fans, all decked out in their respective garb, and cheering at the appropriate times. Apart from the occasional drunken idiot, the fans of an opposing team will get nothing more than a good natured taunting. There is no physical danger involved.

Let me just make one thing clear:

If you make death threats against players on a sports team....

If you physically accost fans of an opposing team....

If an injury to a player on an opposing sports team brings you pleasure...

If you riot because of anything having to do with soccer...

and while I'm on this rant:

If you are motivated to violence because of a gorram cartoon...


Welcome to the 21st century. Take a chill pill, pour a cold beer, and enjoy the hockey game.

Friday, May 05, 2006


I love playoff hockey. Go Sabres!!!!!! In case you weren't watching, my hometown team, just won one of the most exciting hockey games I have ever seen in my life. We scored 35 sec into the first. Three and a half minutes into the first Ottawa scored back to back goals in a 15 second span. Each team scored 2 goals in each period. We were down 6-5 in the third, pulled our goalie and scored with 10 seconds to go in the game. And then there was overtime. We stepped on the ice, got the puck and scored. This is going to be a very interesting series. We now lead the series 1-0 and we beat them on the road.

The best thing about the Sabres. They are a young team.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ahhhhhhh free time

So if you were wondering about why there were so many posts today, I had a really good call night. So I came home at 7:30 am wide awake and full of energy, and therefore time to blog. I had a mandatory conference tonight that just got out. I'm watching CSI, drinking a gin on the rocks with lime and taking some random quizzes. Feel free to try them yourself. I'd love to know how you turned out.

You Are Olive Green

You are the most real of all the green shades. You're always true to yourself.
For you, authenticity and honesty are very important... both in others and yourself.
You are grounded and secure. It takes a lot to shake you.
People see you as dependable, probably the most dependable person they know.

You Are Guinness

You know beer well, and you'll only drink the best beers in the world.
Watered down beers disgust you, as do the people who drink them.
When you drink, you tend to become a bit of a know it all - especially about subjects you don't know well.
But your friends tolerate your drunken ways, because you introduce them to the best beers around.

You Are Animal

A complete lunatic, you're operating on 100% animal instincts.
You thrive on uncontrolled energy, and you're downright scary.
But you sure can beat a good drum.
"Kill! Kill!"

The Movie Of Your Life Is A Cult Classic

Quirky, offbeat, and even a little campy - your life appeals to a select few.
But if someone's obsessed with you, look out! Your fans are downright freaky.

Your best movie matches: Office Space, Showgirls, The Big Lebowski

Must stop Hyperventilating

Not that I didn't believe in God before, but what my darling husband linked to below is proof He not only exists, but He answers prayers.

That sound you're hearing is millions of voices suddenly crying out at once. We are proclaiming a loud Hallelujah.

Click the link in his post below if you already haven't and you will see why.

The light...

Have you seen the light?

Yes! Yes!

Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ!


Hat tip: John Gruber over at Daring Fireball

Mmm... Cookies...

You can have my cookies when you pry them from my COLD DEAD HANDS!!!!!!!

Banning Pop (Soda) in Schools

There's been quite a few stories in the news about banning the sale of pop in schools. Some states have even suggested checking the lunches students bring in from home and suggesting to those who bring in pop that they not do so. So here's my two cents.

The first thing I always find interesting is that they seem to think that eating junk food and drinking pop in school is the main source of obesity in children. They ignore the fact that school is only one segment of a child's life. Children are becoming obese at younger and younger ages. Some obesity clinics are reporting patients as young as 5 years old. Family life plays an important role. Children eat what their parents eat, what their parents feed them. They don't eat what they're not forced to. There is a growing group of parents who want to be their children's friends and not their parents. They don't force their kids to eat vegetables, they don't cook healthy meals. People are busier than ever today and more and more go out to eat/get fast food. I know, because I do the same thing. If parents have poor nutrition habits (as obesity and diabetes rates in the country suggest many Americans do), then how are their children going to get good habits. I happened to see a new show on TLC a few weeks ago. It's called Honey, We're Killing the Kids . Now the show uses scare tactics and some cheesy computer simulations to show parents what their children will be like in 20 years if they continue along the way the eat/exercise now. Then they're offered ways to change their lifestyle: limit tv, eat better, exercise more. Let me tell you, these kids fight tooth and nail. But it's something the whole family does together.

Another thing is what gets banned and what it gets replaced with. First off, whole milk is also banned because of it's high fat content. Young children can benefit from the higher fat content. At least it's being replaced by low fat milk (and they still have health benefits). What I find most interesting is that in many locales this ban includes all sodas, including diet soda. What is replacing these sodas is often high sugar and high calorie fruit juices. Granted there are health benefits from the juices compared to sodas, but most commercial juices have high levels of corn syrup and very little actual juice. They will add things like Vitamin C. So what is the kid with diabetes supposed to drink? High sugar fruit juices?

It's not only snack food and pop they should be worrying about in schools. When children buy their lunch at school what exactly are their options? I did a quick google search and found some online lunch menus. Things on the list at one middle school: grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, tater tots, pizza, etc. Many of them came with sides of vegetables. Often though, when children are faced with choices between healthy foods and fatty lunches, they choose the fatty ones. It used to happen all the time in my high school. The most popular item on the lunch menu were buttered noodles. Not exactly health food.

Don't misunderstand me, I think it's great that schools are trying to offer healthy lunches for students. But, altering what's available to children in school probably won't make too much of a difference. They'll still find ways to eat the junk at home. And changing the food they encounter at school won't make them less sedentary. The entire country's eating and exercising habits need a makeover. Including mine.

Do yourself a favor. Eat better, exercise more and if you have children, make sure they do the same. That will do more than banning junk food and soda in schools, taxing junk food or any of the other government based ways of trying to force it on us. Its called personal responsibility. Have some.