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November 23, 2004

more fun with harborview medical center

A little over a week after the fracture I returned to Harborview to get some X-Rays and find out how it was all going to go down. Luckily not in the urgent care room, but up in the orthopedic hand clinic (yes, there is such a thing).

Some hopeful decorations greeted me on the way in, in the form of some sort of artistic wainscoting in the hallway made out of hundreds of bamboo canes:



I thought I'd get lucky and be in and out of there, but it was not to be. It was almost as bad as the first night in the E.R. My appointment was at 3:40, and I didn't see a real doc until after 7!

It wasn't so bad though, most of that time was spent sitting in the cast room, reading, watching all the other people with broken hands and wrists wait around and get treated, one-by-one before me. There's like 6 beds, and a few casting techs (nurses who do just about nothing but build fiberglass casts).

Doctors come in and look at the X-rays, now all-digital.


And then just tell the cast tech to do a "long reverse t" or a "groucho marx" (no joke!) and then they slap it on, tell them not to get it wet, stick things inside it, do any pushing, pulling or twisting with it, and send them home. Evidently there was some kind of emergency eariler in the day, because there was a shortage of doctors, so for the first hour or so I was there the casting techs had nothing to do, just sitting there with a bunch of fairly cheery broken people waiting for a doc to interpret an X-ray and give the word.

Then they just pick a color and do what they do best.

Finally they got to me. I was of course ready with the digital cam. Here's the story:


I had some gnarly fracture, in the radius, a little in the joint, but only about 1 mm of displacement, so the doc thought it would heal up just fine and that he couln't do much improvement by cutting into me. (Sigh of relief). For those not experienced with reading fuzzy jpeg x-rays, here's the fracture cheat sheet, done in photoshop by yours truly.


Then, they fitted me with a lovely short case that gives me lots of mobility in the fingers and doesn't cross my elbow. I was as stoked as someone with a broken arm who just waited in a casting room for 3+ hours can be.


I stood in front of the hospital waiting for the Ben to come pick me up on the motorcyle (suicidal but fun!) entertaining myself by saying prayers and mantras or spacing out or taking pictures of my face in the floodlight with the camera in my phone.


Just before Ben came, these two black teenagers walked by. We made eye contact and for some reason it made me smile. "What's up?" they said, rhetorically. They chuckled to themselves. "My brother." one said as he passed, and then, when he was passed he looked back, "my white brother."

I laughed hard. "That's right," I said.

November 16, 2004

in which i cause absolutely no one a great deal of surprise

"Shit," I thought, "I'd better get out of the street." I quickly grabbed the bike, instinctively with my right hand and pulled it up onto the sidewalk with me, and then dropped it there.

A scrape on my ankle...okay, not too bad. A scrape on the knee, oh damn, that's gonna hurt in the morning. And uhhh, my wrist...feels a little numb and funny. Might have broken my fall with it. Hmmm...might be a little bruised there. Might not be able to keep riding. That sucks.

And wait...it's really not feeling so good. I think I'd better just sit here and rest for a moment and think about it. Maybe if I'm okay I can just take a bus to where I'm going. I don't have any health insurance so I don't want to go get an X-ray if I don't have to.

The vines and the...dirt...feels so cool. So nice to sit here. So hot from the bike ride. I'm really sweating! Get these gloves and hat off. There, that's better. Ahhhh, that's better. Now about that wrist.

Oooh, yeah. It feels funny. I guess I'd better go get an X-Ray. Maybe I should call Roseanne and have her come get me. No...I'm too embarassed. I was over at her house but begged off and went home cause I was feeling tired, went home and took a nap, and my friend from New York was in town and wanted to go out for a beer. Her feelings will be hurt.

Ben! I'll call Ben! They just found his stolen car...he'll come get me. You know, it feels like I broke the distal end of the radius. Hope I didn't get any carpals.

"Mr. Talsky, it looks like you broke the distal end of the radius."

"No carpals?"

"No...it's close to the joint, but you may not need surgery."

"That would be nice."

"Are you okay Mr. Talsky? Are you in pain?"

"umm. The... she just gave me some morphine."

"Oh, good. We're gonna hold your arm up by the fingers and put a splint on you. So let me know if you need any more."

"I'm fine...I mean, I will." (I love orthopedic guys!)

I just got my new phone with a camera on it, and now that I'm in a hall in the ER and desperately want to use it, it's short on batteries. Guess I shouldn't have played that video game on it for a half an hour.

There's a guy in a bed in front of my who's snoring loudly and his oxygen alarm keeps going off until some random nurse or doctor walks by and shakes him, "sir, wake up. Take a few deep breaths, Wake up sir. You need to breathe." Then later, once they're used to him and it's later and the drunks are pouring in and they just stop long enough to sake him and say loudly, "remember to breathe!".

In front of me there's a guy with a big bandage over a bloody patch over his forehead. He sits calmly for hours until a big black doctor gets ready to pull him into the other room. "make me look pretty," he says.

Down the hall I sometimes hear yells of drunken indignation or pain. A few times I hear the question, "Have you had any other drugs tonight?" I'm glad I was stone cold sober, for some reason, I always have been everytime I've broken something. That's nine times if anyone's counting. At least it's my left arm this time.

Ben was my fucking hero. By the time I walked out of Harborview at 3am with a temporary splint and a baggie of Vicodin, he had been waiting with me there for over an hour and a half. I had been there for over five hours.

Roseanne was my other hero. She put me up on her living room futon and I think we talked in my sweaty drugged state, it was painfully sweet like old times but not. The next morning Sam attacked my splint with metallic markers and drew Reiki healing symbols and hearts. And hey...my phone has a camera on it.


November 12, 2004

why i use google less now

If someone asked me to produce a nomination for the most amazing public project ever realized on the internet, it would probably be the Wikipedia.

For those just tuning in, a wiki is a website that allows anyone to add new pages and edit existing pages (basically). And the wikipedia is a very successful attempt to create an informative encyclopedia using this model. It's an open-source encyclopedia.

In fact, if you don't understand the difference between commercial software and open-source software, the wikipedia is a good way to understand it. Go take a look at the Encyclopedia Brittanica for a moment. What are it's defining characteristics? It has a unified editorial voice, professional research and editing, it's a little outdated, it's missing entries for rapidly changing cultural ideas and specific technical ideas, and it costs money.

The wikipedia? It's free. It has varying levels of quality and styles. It's has entries for everything from Britney Spears and Reality TV to BitTorrent. Most of these articles are of surprising quality.

More and more, things that I used to look up on google first for general knowledge, I now check the Wikipedia first to get a balanced and thoughtful picture.

Why does it work? Because there's a dedicated community of people keeping eyeballs on their own corner of the wikipedia, correcting errors and updating information.

But is it a perfect world? No, people obviously just fuck around with pages, and sometimes they stay for a long time. There is a page of short-lived or otherwise jokes that got posted to specific entries. Or, people have genuine differences of opinion that cause edit wars. Notably the sites for Bush and Kerry had some serious struggles in the weeks leading up to the election.

But in spite of wierdnesses, it is an incredibly informative document. When I first found it, I thought I could contribute to some topics I knew something about, but I was surprised (then) to discover how exhaustive the information about Tibetan Buddhism or PHP already is. I did however, end up contributing. I wrote the (unfortunately citation-free) October 2004 update about the conflict in Darfur.

Go take a look...do you know of any other interesting remnants of Wikipedia culture? Interesting, funny or amazing articles? Leave 'em in the comments!

sunny days and foggy nights


It's been so amazing in Seattle these last few days. Bright fall days, and foggy fall nights. Last night I was out without a camera and regretted it, because every branch made spiderwebs of shadows, and the stadium lights made a huge dome of daylight. Tonight I was prepared.



November 9, 2004



Do you believe in hell? It's not very popular these days.

November 8, 2004

sometimes the tinyblog needs some weird al

You make me wanna slam my head against the wall
You make me do the limbo
You make me wanna buy a slurpee at the mall
You make me watch the Gong Show
There's really something kinda strange about you, baby, but I can't exactly seem to put my finger on it

You make me
You make me
You make me
That's what you do to me

You make me wanna hide a weasel in my shorts
You make me wanna phone home
You make me wanna write a dozen book reports
Then pack myself in styrofoam
Sometimes you make me want to build a model of the Eiffel Tower out of Belgian waffles

You make me
You make me
You make me
That's what you do to me

You make me wanna hang out in a trailer park
Then take my hamster to the beach
You make me wanna do my laundry in the dark
And use a recommended bleach
When I'm with you I don't know whether I should study neurosurgery or go to see the Care Bears movie

(You make me) That's what you do
(You make me) That's what you do
(You make me) That's what, what you do to me

You make me wanna break the laws of time and space
You make me wanna eat pork
You make me wanna staple bagels to my face
Then remove 'em with a pitchfork
You know there's something quite unusual about you but I can't exactly seem to put my finger on it

You make me
You make me
You make me
That's what you do to me

-- Weird Al Yankovic's "You Make Me"

I'll see if I can come up with the .mp3, if you haven't heard this early Yankovic gem, then I assign you to listen to it as soon as I post it...and do 3 hail marys.