Feet First

“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

Email Dr. Alice

    follow me on Twitter
    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
    Monday, June 30, 2008
    With a Twist

    There's a phrase in Hollywood that's probably used every time somebody's trying to sell a movie: that it's a romance/horror film/character drama "but with a twist." With Bon Cop, Bad Cop the twist is that it's Canadian and bilingual. Otherwise, it's your standard buddy cop shoot-'em-up movie, which was released last year and apparently broke box office records all over Canada. Why did I rent it? - because it stars Colm Feore, of course. To be more precise, it stars Colm Feore as the uptight English speaking cop from Toronto and Patrick Huard as the loose-cannon Francophone from Montreal. I watched it this past weekend and found myself really enjoying it, explosions, serial killer and all. The movie's makers were meticulous about giving equal time to both actors, both languages and both locations (in fact, the first victim is found on the Quebec/Ontario border, with half of him on each side).

    The plot of Bon Cop, Bad Cop is formulaic - I guessed a lot of what was going to happen early on. That doesn't make the film bad, just typical. The fun is in the details: the acting (both Feore and Huard are very good), the dialogue (overlapping and fast. Learning these lines in two languages must have been quite a job), and the funny scenes that get thrown in along the way. At one point the two police officers, having found the killer's hideout and another body, then manage to blow up the house when one of the officers trips an alarm protecting the killer's marijuana crop. No, it doesn't make a lot of sense, just go with it. They manage to escape the fire but wind up with a contact high from the burning plants. Watching these two giggling helplessly while they're getting chewed out by the Montreal chief of police is worth the price of the film all by itself. Another good scene involves a motormouth coroner who speaks French so fast that not even Patrick Huard can figure out what he's saying.

    There are some parts I could have done without - the gratuitous sex scene where the Montreal cop gets it on with the Toronto cop's sister comes to mind - but the bonding bits are good and carry some genuine emotion to them. Both men are divorced, raising their kids as best they can, and they get to meet each other's families in the course of the case. This part doesn't feel forced to me. At any rate, if you're in the mood for an escapist buddy movie with guns, car chases, humor and subtitles you could do a lot worse than Bon Cop, Bad Cop. And it sure is nice to see Colm Feore in a starring role for a change.


    Wednesday, June 18, 2008
    A Somewhat Odd Recipe

    Yes, another one. This is how it came about. I bought too much shoepeg corn for the Taco Soup and was wondering what to do with it, so I did a web search and quickly found a recipe (or rather, several variants of the same recipe) for a casserole using shoepeg corn. I decided to give it a try, since I had most of the ingredients in the house - minus the canned green beans, but a simple trip to the store remedied that one. Here we go.

    One can shoepeg corn, drained
    One can French-cut green beans, drained
    One cup sour cream
    One can cream of something soup (mushroom, chicken, or celery - your choice)
    One cup shredded Cheddar cheese, as mild or sharp as you want
    Chopped celery and onion - proportions range from one-half to one cup each

    Mix all ingredients, put in a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, then top with crushed crackers or breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter and put back in oven for 5 minutes or so. I had leftover Pepperidge Farm stuffing crumbs from Thanksgiving so, hey, guess what I used.

    I should emphasize here that I really didn't know how this would turn out, but when you find several variants of the same recipe it is a safe bet to make it. No matter which variation you try it will likely be good. And this was.

    Hmm, not bad, was my initial thought. As I found myself returning to the kitchen for a second helping I remedied that to hey, this is pretty good. It is rich, though. It would feed six to eight people as a side dish easily, maybe more. It is much better than the traditional canned-green-bean casserole, which I really can't stand... it has more crunch and character (though I still like my beloved celery casserole better, more veg and less rich).

    I know what I'm going to bring to the office for lunch the next few days, let's put it that way. Not that that's a bad thing: some fruit and carrot sticks, and you're done.


    Tuesday, June 17, 2008
    Send Me Back to the Office

    Traditionally the practice of medicine and working from home have never gone together (except in the old-fashioned situation where the doctor's office is located in his or her home, an arrangement rarely seen these days). Thanks to electronic medical records and Citrix, I have been able to try this concept out for the first time in my life. I now am able to access lab results and telephone notes from home via my computer, which comes in handy with my (now) four-day workweek.

    The thing about working from home is this: I don't think the "working" part is emphasized enough. The phrase "working from home" is too often uttered in tones that imply perfect freedom and efficiency. The whole idea has become some sort of Holy Grail... the peace, the lack of meetings, the freedom to get up and get a snack whenever you want, working in your pajamas...

    ...the feeling that you're marooned on a desert island and the rest of the world has forgotten about you. Okay, maybe that last part is just me. Truth is, I have found working from home to be more difficult than I imagined it would be. Going from a very schedule-driven workday to being completely on your own can be difficult if you aren't used to it. How often should I check my messages? How do I force myself to write that disability letter for a patient that I've been putting off for two weeks because their chart is two inches thick and their history is more complicated than the plot of War and Peace? What's going to stop me from surfing the Net or IM'ing everybody I know instead of working?

    These aren't unusual questions, I know. Every business section of every paper in the country has probably done an article on this topic. I had to write about it because when I first tried working at home I felt as if I'd gone from a blissful 80 mph on the interstate to a frustrating 10 mph on a back road, stuck behind a tractor. It's humiliating when your staff has to warn you to keep out of the office on your day out.

    "We have a locum tomorrow, Doctor. He's going to be using your office." So stay the hell away, is the implication.

    Despite my grousing, have I given up my free day and gone back to the office? Of course not. After a grinding Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday it's a respite to know I don't have to leap out of bed at 5 a.m. Thursday. And it's extremely helpful to have an unscheduled day when, as last week, I had to call the plumber to fix a leak. And my house is getting steadily cleaner and more organized. Faced with that disability letter I found myself willingly, nay, eagerly cleaning out the back bedroom, boxing junk and taking it to Goodwill. I even wash windows. I have cleaned the refrigerator. I find that a task I absolutely loathe is exactly what I need to get stuff done around the house. (Yes, I did eventually finish the letter, too.)

    Sometimes I even blog. I started this entry last week... on my day off.


    Friday, June 13, 2008
    The Expense of Spirit in a Waste of Shame...

    ... is lust for crochet. (As Shakespeare did not say.) But somehow that quote was the first thing that came to mind when I saw this site. It certainly involves wasting time, energy and money on something that will cause you untold shame if you wear, exhibit or give away these crochet projects.

    Hat tip to Tim Blair (congratulations on the new site, Tim!)


    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    So what have I been doing for the previous three months?

    Well, for one thing I was here:

    I was also here:

    My houseguests arrived in April and a busy time of it we had. Lee, a friend of mine from Australia, was my travel companion to Yosemite and the wildflower reserve in Antelope Valley (that's the second picture); she arrived just in time to see the flowers at their peak. The flower viewing fluctuates from year to year depending on the winter rainfall, and this was a good year thanks to all the rain we got in January and February.

    After Yosemite we arrived back in Los Angeles in time to pick up my other houseguests (from England, Texas and Louisiana) and we spent the weekend seeing Hollywood Boulevard, Mulholland Drive, The Grove, In-N-Out Burger and the Sunset Strip. My friends are rabid Battlestar Galactica fans, so when they heard that Bear McCreary was giving a concert at the Roxy the weekend they were in town they were mad to go. The music was great, but I could have done without the standing for three hours. (No seating! The managers at the Roxy must be insane!)

    We also got to take in a play at the Skirball performed by L.A. Theatre Works. They specialize in recording plays for radio, which are then broadcast on NPR. This particular play, Boats on a River, was the rationale behind this visit. My friends and I are 24 fans, and the play was to costar Gregory Itzin and Jean Smart, better known to us as the characters of President and Mrs. Logan from 24. Sadly, Ms. Smart had to drop out at the last minute, disappointing all of us (we originally met online as part of a 24 fan group focused on the Logans). But the play was terrific and Mr. Itzin did a fantastic job.

    It was an incredibly fun week.

    Labels: ,

    Friday, June 06, 2008
    Where the Wild Things Are...

    ...evidently, they're hanging out at my house. A few days ago I was awakened at 4: 30 a.m. by a ghastly noise coming from beneath my bedroom window: A growly, squealy sort of noise, definitely not emanating from fighting cats. Grabbing a flashlight, I leaned out of the window, stared down and saw a huge raccoon sitting at the base of the tree in my front yard. This thing was big - the size of a medium sized dog. I shone the flashlight in his eyes and he took off.

    That same afternoon as I came home and headed up the back steps I was stopped in my tracks at the sight of a good-sized lizard splayed across the mat at my back door. It's always impressed me how lizards can sit and look at you, giving the impression that they haven't moved in days, but as soon as you come too close to them they'll zip away so fast that you can hardly see them. This lizard was no exception. I didn't have to fight him for the territory of the back steps as he buzzed away and left them to me.

    Then, finally, there is a tree that grows outside my breakfast nook, now in full leaf. I had never realized before that it was a fruit-bearing tree, though I've lived in this house for years. I realized it this week when I saw a fat squirrel climbing through the tree. His goal was the tiny golden fruit I suddenly saw hanging on the branches (apricots? peaches? Some sort of stone fruit, anyway). Suffice to say the fruit is no longer there, though I rapped on the window to try to get him to cease and desist.

    For an urban area, Los Angeles has its fair share of wildlife. I once saw a deer heading up a hillside as I drove along Mulholland Drive; V., who lives just off Mulholland, has seen them more often.


    Wednesday, June 04, 2008
    Garbage Plates

    Naturally, it took a post on food to drag me out of my self-imposed hiatus. To be exact, the topic in question is leftovers, courtesy of Mark Bittman's blog. Some of Bittman's dissertations on food are too high-end for me; when it comes right down to it I am a very basic cook looking to get the job done fast with cheap ingredients. I keep reading his blog because once in a while he or his fellow contributors post a fun, creative and low-tech topic. Then the commenters mix into it and the fun really starts (you've got to read the comments on this one, for sure). And it's of universal interest: who doesn't have to deal with leftovers once in a while? Some of the more popular ideas shared were soup, frittatas, hash and a couple of really creative barbecue sauces.

    The article also references a real garbage plate, if you will, apparently a specialty of certain restaurants in Rochester, New York. If you want to find out what a garbage plate is, go here. As several commenters noted, they taste best when you've been out drinking and the bars have closed.