The Einsteinian Method

Albert Einstein

I keep stumbling across partially written entries, or ideas for posts, only to realise them at a later date when I’ve got some free time. Today is no different, and here is something I jotted down a month or so back.

Weeding in Granda’s driveway allowed me to clear my mind completely, and begin to plan my scientific essay on encephalitis. There were 5000 words to play with, and I normally end up shooting way lower and only plan for 1000-1500. The next few thousand words are eeked out as I go, and the eeking can be a painful process. People say these things write themselves, but they really don’t. It was made more difficult by the fact my professor told me my subject matter was too specific, and to keep it more general. This was helpful, considering I spent an entire week researching and reading papers on a very specific subject matter. I always love a challenge of course, but back to the method. Working on a mundane task is a great way to focus, and it gave me an idea of how Albert Einstein must have felt working at the patent office.

The print server, or magic network print box, as Bob Fossil might call it. What a fantastic and wonderful gadget in the modern world of today. I bought (with dad’s money, so it’s all good) a Linksys DSUS4 USB print server because I couldn’t face watching people physically carry their computers into the hall to plug them directly into the printer. It hooks up the the printer via USB, then connects to your hub, and even has its own built in hub for connecting other computers. Some tweaking was required, but soon after it was working perfectly well. Many moons ago, I setup a very old PC with Windows XP (it was somewhere at the very bottom of the minimum requirements list for hardware) and hooked it up to the network to function as a file, music, and print server. Comfortably sat under the cupboard in the hall, it whirred away happily and served its purpose well for its brief life. It was far from ideal though, and could be noisy, slow, take forever to boot up, and occasionally it would flat refuse to play ball with anything else in the network (which didn’t help when the Pinnacle Soundbridge was giving us stick too). A simpler solution was needed, which got me thinking about a dedicated print server for the mono laser printer. Of course, my idea was rubbished and ignored, only to resurface a few years down the line after I decided that “I absolutely must have a dedicated USB print server!”. And I’m glad I did this time. I’ve found not telling dad about the things until they arrive to be the best method, because by that stage, it’s too late to try and dissuade me.

X-ray image showing the intramedullary nail screwed into the place in the centre of the femur

It was my first week of real medicine, in a real life hospital. I’ve seen a lot of swollen joints, broken bones, and even been to theatre for an afternoon. The operation I was watching was a femoral fracture repair, and the surgeon was placing a huge rod in the centre of the bone to reinforce and support it. The sterility is amazing, and if anything touches a non-sterile surface, it has to be discarded. I didn’t get a chance to scrub up fully, but I did get to wear surgery scrubs and the surgeon talked me through the operation. Orthopaedics can be brutal at times, with wrenching of bone to pull in into place, and the different instruments are amazing. A battered box came out at one point, which was full of instruments about 30 to 40 years old which were still in use. The strangest tool I saw, by far, was a dessert spoon. Yes, they do use spoons in surgery which I find fantastic. It just proves that spoons are incredibly versatile. What else can you eat ice cream and perform surgery with?

Whilst it is great being in a hospital instead of lectures all the time,  it is a completely different experience with a lot of wandering around confused, and trying to figure out how things work. The rheumatology clinic was Friday morning, which lasted over 3 hours, but was really interesting. It is amazing what people can come through, and the pain they can endure while still being upbeat and trying to live relatively normal lives. Rheumatological conditions can take a serious toll on people to say the least, and change their whole lif ecourse. Methotrexate, or MTX as its known, is an amazing drug and has given many people their lives back.

My writing career, if one could call it that, has expanded again! My dad took on the editorship of the Northern Ireland Camera Club newsletter recently, which in fact, makes me editor to the editor. This seems to happen rather frequently in my family – I’m always called in to edit magazines and newsletters, or make business cards or flyers. At least I’m in demand…

5 responses to “The Einsteinian Method”

  1. Sounds like some experience you’re getting at the hospital. I can relate (in a different way) regarding trying to figure things out in the real work world — although, the only wandering I might have to do is over to somebody who’s been at this for a lot longer than I have!

    Are you at the one hospital for the whole year, then?

  2. It is fun in general, but there’s still so much I’m yet to learn. How is your placement going then?

    I’m only in Altnagelvin for three weeks initially, then two weeks later on, but I’m also in the Ulster in Dundonald, Antrim, and the Royal in Belfast.

  3. Mine is going pretty well so far, professional “engineering” is a far cry from hobby programming, it turns out!

    Incidentally, if you’re looking for a good film: check Looper out. Best science fiction film in a while.

  4. What sort of stuff are you doing at the moment? Has there been much of a learning curve?

    I do want to see Looper after your review! It sounds good.

  5. At the moment, it’s largely about writing automated testing — which is good, as it isn’t an area I have even touched upon before. There’s a steep enough curve, but you learn a lot in a short space — as I’m sure you do, too.

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