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“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Wednesday, September 24, 2003
    Peace and Quiet

    Well, yesterday was interesting. The telephone lines and computer system went down midmorning and stayed off until 5 pm. Whatever went wrong affected the whole building, not just our phone lines; every office had the same problem. (I bet some fumble-fingered janitor hit the main phone line while cleaning in the basement.)

    To be honest, I was overjoyed. No distractions! It was one of the most productive workdays I've ever had. I was able to make a few outgoing calls using either my cell phone or the emergency phone lines in the office (which use a separate circuit). I scoffed when the emergency phones were first put in - they are red and look like the Batphone - but I must admit installing them was a great idea; this is the second time we've had to use them.

    Today will be hell, but it was worth it.

    In other news, I have a book to recommend. (I rarely recommend books to other people, so pay attention!) It's called The Cunning Man, by a writer and former actor named Robertson Davies - actually the late Robertson Davies; this was his last book. I actually came across it at a nursing home as I was waiting in the day room for the staff to bring out a patient: I picked it off the shelf which functions as their library, could not stop reading it, and took it home with me. That reminds me, I have to return it.

    The Cunning Man impressed me to the point that I'm going to track down Davies' other books. As to what it's about, it surprised me by seeming to start as a mystery novel and then turning into something much less straightforward. You could call this book part fictionalized history of Toronto, part memoir, and part mystery. It begins with the narrator, Dr. Jonathan Hullah, remembering the death of an Episcopalian priest who dropped dead during Mass on Good Friday many years before, but that turned out to be only a small part of the book.

    The medical descriptions are fascinating. Hullah practices as a holistic physician and earns the title "The Cunning Man" for himself (this is an old English village term for the local wise man who could work cures). Long story short, get the book. It's a leisurely read, but it never gets boring.



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