Oops: Repost of Subtle Spirit of the Season

(by whizbang) Dec 19 2014

I accidentally posted this a few days ago in some obscure corner of the Scientopia site. It received little attention, and I'm still looking for movies with a holiday twist that are not in-your-face Christmas movies. To that end, I'm re-posting here.


Sure, there are CHRISTMAS flicks, movies that focus on the holiday. Think Elf, White Christmas, Christmas Vacation...I'm sure you can come up with many more.

I would like to collect less in-your-face holiday films. I will start with some favorites, but I would love to collect more. Sometimes you just need a good movie that fits your mood.

  • An Affair to Remember - You youngsters probably learned about this one from its stalkerish spin-off, Sleepless in Seattle. The original starts with two people otherwise committed falling in love on an ocean cruise, then deciding to figure out how to support themselves before marrying. Tragedy ensues, and they do not find their way to each other again until...Christmas! Have wine, chocolate, and tissues available if you do not know the details.
  • Meet Me In Saint Louis - This musical follows the lives of a family through a year preceding the World's Fair in St. Louis, MO. The climax occurs on Christmas eve with Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Everything ends well, of course, at the 1904 Exhibition.
  • Auntie Mame - This one is a year-round favorite, in part because I would like to be "that aunt." Free spirit Mame becomes the guardian of her nephew, despite the general disapproval of her brother and the banker that pays for the boy's upkeep. When Mame loses her money in the crash of 1929, she Needs a Little Christmas Now. Decorations go up in early November (not as early as the stores today) with the song explaining her need for some holiday cheer. Rosalind Russel turns in a wonderful performance, and the scene where she entertains her nephew's fiance and parents will make you wet your pants. If you have never watched this one, stop whatever you are doing and find it.

I will provide one additional bonus film that through chance became part of our holiday traditions. Dogma does not include any Christmas portions, but it came on while my daughter and I were baking Christmas cookies a few years ago. She was aghast that I had never watched it, and I agreed that it was an excellent adventure in religion. She gave me a copy, and it became our cookie-baking flick. It's not for everyone, but keep an open mind. At it's heart, it really has a nice message for the faithful.

What movies do you associate with the season? Comment below!!!

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What's New: #ISpyPhysiology

(by whizbang) Dec 11 2014

The last day or so I have engaged with other members of the American Physiological Society's (APS henceforth) Communication Committee. We kicked around all sorts of ideas for improving outreach to the non-physiologist world, as well as continuing internal communication in an effective manner. Since I had my twitter feed open during the meeting, I tried out one of our hashtag ideas:


The idea of the hashtag is to highlight physiology in everyday life. The link in the tweet takes you to this infographic, Cleveland Clinic's Top Ten Healthcare Transformations for 2015. Let's take a look at the physiology of a couple of these innovations:

  • Mobile stroke units: Strokes, or cerebral vascular accidents in doctor-speak, cause death and disability in lots of people. Basic science study of the brain and its response to loss of blood flow reveals that rapid response to an event can minimize the damage and improve outcomes. These data (many from animal studies) resulted in rapid-response stroke teams in many US hospitals so that patients get their clot-busters ASAP. Taking that one step further is the stroke-mobile, with personnel who can initiate treatment while the patient travels to the hospital. As time = brain, this seems like a winning approach and an excellent result of brain physiology studies.
  • PCSK9 inhibitors for high cholesterol levels: Despite the widespread, near-universal prescribing of statins, many people still have elevated cholesterol levels and high risk of heart disease. This new class of drugs reduces bad LDL cholesterol. Antibodies to proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (yeah, that's why we abbreviate these things) give doctors another weapon for patients who respond inadequately to other measures. Finding this enzyme that controls cholesterol resulted from studies of normal metabolism in cells and animal models. In other words, Physiology!

I am not waiting for approval or permission (I'm a badass that way); I am plowing ahead with #ISpyPhysiology and invite all my physiologist friends to participate. Read your newsfeed, mine your twitter feed, and find examples of physiology affecting everyday life. They are out there waiting!

We just need to spy them!

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No Permission Required

(by whizbang) Dec 09 2014

One of the most valuable things an academic can do requires no permission from your supervisor. While some departments and groups perform the activity formally, many faculty do it on their own. It should not be a solo activity, though. Strength comes from input from others.

I am talking about the CV review.

In The Ivory Tower, your CV is your life and the most important part of your promotion and tenure packet.

Hosting a CV review is pretty simple. I have a guest post up over at Tenure She Wrote detailing how you can make this happen. When you're ready to have your event, you can also download a CV review worksheet from the website for The Promotion Game.


You can also still score a free copy of the book by signing up for the newsletter or following the book on Twitter. 1 in 5 will win!

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Twelve Months of WhizBANG: June Wins!!!

(by whizbang) Dec 05 2014

Continuing the end-of-the-year meme since I do not have the energy to write a real post today...



Tonight the Oklahoma Sooners face Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.


My spouse runs the section of Diabetes and Endocrinology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center.


I have finally returned from a much needed vacation in the sunshine of Florida.


My week involved a lot of work with patients as some hemolytic-uremic syndrome came to town


I previously related my two weeks, four meetings, cross-country travel extravaganza.


Insert your favorite term for fecal material in the title.


Our bathroom needs some work on the walls.


I am off to enjoy some time with my spouse, my son, my brother, and assorted critters in the woods and waters of Oklahoma.


It's been a dry week.


Too many new faculty in academic medicine get lost.


It's that special time of year when two meetings overlap.

December (You're reading this post now; do you really need a link???)

Continuing the end-of-the-year meme since I do not have the energy to write a real post today...

I hereby declare June the winner!


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Not Losing #NaNoWriMo

(by whizbang) Nov 29 2014

The month draws to a close, and I have written nowhere near the 50,000 words I promised National Novel Writing Month. By their definition, I am not a winner.

PenInkBy my definition, I am not a loser, though.

The idea for this novel has been flitting around my brain for more than 20 years. Four years ago I confessed my idea to my son who has periodically asked me about my progress. I feel good that I finally have more than a couple of character sketches sitting around on my hard drive.

Oh, I started out well. About 5,000 words into November, I realized that my antagonist needed more work. A lot more work.

I had given a lot of thought to the motivations and behavior of the protagonist. I know her inside and out, backwards and forwards, right-side-up and up-side-down...you get the idea. However, the antagonist in my story provides the catalytic event that changes everything. As I wrote more about him, he proved to be a cardboard cutout, not a fully developed person. I did not know him well enough to make him or his behavior real.

So I stopped writing and began researching. I read papers about his issues and began drawing his character arc in more detail.

I accomplished a lot in November, even if it is not reflected in my word count. Technically, that seems like winning, too.

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Giving Thanks

(by whizbang) Nov 26 2014

Soon we will all sit down and share a meal with family and friends, ostensibly to give thanks for what we have (or at least a day off). As you enjoy your traditions, I want you to give thanks for something else:


The patients I take care of, with various kidney diseases, cannot merely sit down and gorge as they want. After all, it's only one day and one (never-ending) meal. No, they will have to limit some foods, take their medications, and generally live their lives as they do every other day of the year. For some, misbehavior could result in discomfort. For others, a Thanksgiving eat-a-thon could prove deadly.

So when you go around the table and say what you are all thankful for, remember to at least think about functioning kidneys and the ability to pee.

It's great to urinate!

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What I Am Reading: Recent Airport Edition

(by whizbang) Nov 20 2014

I spent a bunch of time in airports recently (thanks, winter), and I read several books. Instead of trying to review each one separately, I will just list them with a short synopsis of my thoughts. 

The Prince Lestat (Ann Rice)

 Ann Rice abandoned her muse, the bad-boy Lestat, and wrote about other things for several years. I am delighted that the non-sparkly vampires have come back to explore their existence. I have been waiting for her to do a history of the Talamasca since Taltos, the conclusion of the Mayfair Witch Chronicles. Waiting, waiting, waiting…and finally rewarded! If you haven’t read any other books in the vampire series, I would not start here. If you read the first 3, you can jump right into this one!

The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Jill Lepore)

Don’t let the size of this book scare you away; almost half of the text contains notes and other references. This meticulously researched history documents the life and times of William Moulton Marston, a frustrated academic who invented an early lie detector, lived with two women, and belonged to the Harvard Men for Women’s Suffrage. This read provides a fascinating history of the women’s movement in the US, as well as the rationale behind a beloved fictional character (yes, the bracelets, lasso, and invisible plane all have a reason). I was sort of sorry when this one ended; frankly, the story of the Amazons is as believable as that of the Marston clan!

The Secret Place (Tana French)

This is French’s fifth book to solve a death with a member of the Dublin murder squad. If you haven’t read her earlier works, you could start with this one without feeling lost; however, her character-driven novels are delightful, so you will want to read them all anyway. You may as well buy them all and go in order. In this one, an officer working cold cases gets a chance to work a murder. The action takes place in a swanky girls’ school over the course of a day. While I agree with the critics that this is the weakest novel yet from this author, I still found it a wonderful read and recommend it highly.

Obitchuary (Stephanie Hayes)

This came to me as an Amazon featured book that I got for almost nothing. This chick-lit features a young reporter who gains a degree of fame writing in-depth obituaries for selected people. Getting a date for her cousin’s wedding results in murder, mayhem, and the mob, along with finding true love. Good book to have in an airport if you want to forget you are delayed in O’Hare. It has no redeeming social value.

Killing Ruby Rose (Jessie Humphries)

Another Amazon feature and the first book in a series. Ruby Rose is 17, a brilliant high school senior in southern California, and grieving after the death of her ex-marine, SWAT team father. She starts tailing sex offenders who got off on technicalities, planning to get them convicted. She ends up being manipulated to kill them instead. Her family history gets very complicated along the way, and her own life comes under threat. She handles it all with poise; the major criticism with the story is that NO TEENAGER IS THIS TOGETHER, I DON’T CARE HOW SMART SHE IS!!! It’s a fun enough read that I bought the second book (came out last week), but you really have to be able to suspend your disbelief for these reads.

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Almost Home #KidneyWk14

(by whizbang) Nov 15 2014

Kidney Week is once again winding down. Today I ran my last meeting of the Kidney News Editorial Board. I will miss putting that magazine together, but new blood often generates new invigorating ideas for a publication. The new editor is keeping me on the board, so I still have a voice.

Oklahoma expects snow tomorrow for my return home. My car sits in an open lot, so I will have to clear it off. At least only an inch or two is predicted. I just hope Denver stays clear so I do not get delayed like I did en route to Philadelphia. Reentry to regular life is just that much more difficult when you are sleep deprived.

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Travel Time: #AAMC14 and #KidneyWk14

(by whizbang) Nov 04 2014

It's that special time of year when two meetings overlap. This year, I get to come home for a bit and repack.

JetI head for Chicago this Thursday for the gathering of the Association of American Medical Colleges (#AAMC14). I fly back to OKC the following Tuesday, and then head to Philadelphia on Wednesday for Kidney Week, the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology (#KidneyWk14). I have a spread sheet going to make sure there is no critical wardrobe overlap. When I get home from meeting one, I want only to wash my underwear and then re-pack.

#AAMC14 includes a lot of people interested in career promotion in academic medicine. You may have heard about my book, The Promotion Game (if you haven't, then I have failed). I will be giving away some hard copies at that meeting. You can also win a free copy by signing up for email updates on the web site.

#KidneyWk14 will be a bit sad for me this year. It will mark the end of my editorship of ASN Kidney News. I have loved my 6 years as a magazine editor. Hell, it's that experience that got me involved in social media and blogging! You probably wouldn't be reading this now if I had not had that opportunity. It's time to move on and find new experiences. Who knows where I will go next?

I will likely post about events and presentation from these meetings over the next 11 days. Stay tuned!

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Progress Report: 10,000 steps at a time

(by whizbang) Oct 29 2014

A while back I blogged about the addition of a stair stepper to my standing desk set up. I have gotten much better at typing (keyboarding for you whippersnappers) and doing other work while stepping. Working with our electronic record systems and sending email barely slows me down.

Phone calls still require standing still or sitting; the stepper, unlike a treadmill, requires some oomph from me to move. That gets transmitted in my voice, and I don't want to have to explain why I sound weird.

To give you an example of how this changes my activity level, here is today so far:

8:30 - 10:00:  Made rounds with residents. Saw consult patients. Just over 2,000 steps by Fitbit

10:00 -  Noon:  Office work, including charting, reading manuscripts, email and other correspondence. Current steps at 9,264

Thinking it's time you added a stepper? Some things to keep in mind:

  • Keep padded shoes available; if you have been standing at your desk, you probably have something comfortable stashed under your desk anyway. Unlike standing, my ballet flats and loafers do not suffice when I'm stepping.
  • Some steppers squeak. Mine started out quiet, and then became annoying when I put my right foot down. This noise stopped a couple of days ago for no good reason that I can identify. It's best to close your door while you do this anyway, both because of noise and the weirdness factor.
  • If you are prone to feel warm in your workplace, you may want a fan. You really can get warm with this level of activity, even at an incredibly leisurely pace such as I have.

By the way, in the 8 minutes it took me to write that bullet list, another 400 steps have been added to the total.


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