Altnageezy (*Nialism*)

EDIT: Just to clarify, *nialism* is referring to a word coined by Niall, one of my fellow medical students. I can spell relatively well, but in this case I’m fabricating words.

Life is full of choices. Some of those choices lead us down paths filled with wonder and adventure, and some of those lead us to Altnagelvin Area Hospital. Yes, I am yet again ensconced in the nurse’s home at Altnagelvin, where I am in residence for five weeks. Five whole weeks of paediatric fun. I hadn’t given a whole lot of thought to paediatrics before coming here, and my main exposure to kids in a healthcare setting was through ENT and GP, but I’m starting to warm to them. Who couldn’t find a tiny premature baby cute, and I spent this afternoon measuring their little heads for growth charts. It is a bizarre feeling, carefully lifting a neonates head and feeling the softness of their skull, and how their head will keep growing until the bones fuse together. It is sometimes hard to imagine that we all started life as tiny babies, though most of us didn’t start as tiny as these babies. Many of them have had a rough start to life, but most will keep thriving and improving, and grow into big humans. I find it fascinating to observe how involved mother’s are in the care of their children, even in this rather alien setting with incubators and respiratory support equipment. They are the experts in their children, involved in care and working with the doctors and nurses, not just as passive observers. Even with years of medical knowledge, a good paediatrician knows that to ignore mum’s gut feeling could be perilous. It is a stark contrast to geriatric medicine where a largely paternalistic style persists and is often appropriate. That was rather heavy, so I should probably move on to a lighter subject matter.

Tampopo, a Ramen Western

Since I’m planning to go to Japan on my elective this summer, I thought I should spend some time learning the language. I am currently using a combination of the Michel Thomas method CDs and a few apps for Android. The trickiest part so far has been learning the Hiragana, the phonetic alphabet used for spelling native Japanese words. After that comes the Katakana, which is used for foreign loan words. The experience has been challenging so far, though I have not fully committed myself to the task. If I set aside time every day it would be more manageable. As part of my quest to maximise my exposure to the language I have started watching Japanese films. I had hoped to pick up some words, but I’m not quite at that level yet.

The Ramen Kata

The Ramen Kata

The Japanese have a deeply rooted food obsession, and nowhere is this more apparent than Tampopo, a film about the quest for perfect ramen. It centres around a single mother running a sub par ramen shop (selling noodle soup) who begs a friendly trucker, who also happened to be skilled in the art of ramen, to help her improve her business. There are a number of other stories involving weird and wonderful aspects of food running alongside the main plotline. I assumed these smaller threads were going to be tied together in the end, but they remained independent – their own little stories nestled within the film. What seems like a bland subject at first makes for a great off-key comedy. It also made me want ramen so much! In its basic form, ramen is really easy to make. All you have to do is make soup from a stock cube, soy sauce, and some five spice, then add your cooked noodles and whatever vegetables/meat you want and it’s done. It can be as healthy as you desire, but I enjoy adding copious amounts of baby spinach and thick cut ham. I can’t wait for Japan!

Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking

Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking

The Theory of Everything

In the words of Sheldon Cooper, “The physics is theoretical, but the fun is real”. In actual fact, the physics is rather thin on the ground in the Theory of Everything. It is Stephen Hawking’s biopic, focusing on the human interest angle of his story, rather than the cold hard science. Who can blame them? The general moviegoing public isn’t overly fussed about science, let alone theoretical physics. Though it oversimplified the scientific process and condensed it beyond belief, it was a great film, and told a very compelling story. Eddie Redmayne portrayed Stephen Hawking fantastically well, and was definitely the highlight of the film. If you haven’t seen it, then I thoroughly recommend it. It’s great to see a film being released about the life of a scientist rather than a musician, and anything that promotes public engagement and understanding of science (even a little bit) is welcome in my book.

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