Friday, March 30, 2012

I chose death over diarrhea

Let's say I have colon cancer.  Here are my options.

Surgery A
Chance cured without complication 80%
Cured with colostomy 1%
Cured with chronic diarrhea 1%
Cured with intermittent bowel obstruction 1%
Cured with wound infection 1%
No cure (death) 16%

Surgery B
Chance cured without complication 80%
No cure (death) 20%

Without any time for consideration, I chose Surgery B.  Death over Diarrhea.

"Why?" the speaker at the Medical Decision Making talk I was attending asked the few of us who selected Surgery B.

For whatever reason when I thought about me having colon cancer I imagine I'm old.
Not that I know anything about age incidence and colon cancer.
And of course my children are financially independent and my life insurance and estate will be my parting gifts.

A bunch of stuff might be medically wrong with me at that age anyway.

And while it sounds dark, death is a certainty at some point.

If I die in surgery B I won't care.  I'm dead.  I can't care.

Both surgeries come with a possibility of survival and a possibility of death.  More chance I get cured than not.  I also have a notion that because something highly unlikely medically already happened to me I've paid my dues.  I understand this isn't an accurate notion at all.  But I have it nonetheless.

Something about Surgery B seems braver to me.   I've not really thought much about old lady Jamie but I would like to think she's brave.  Then again, I think about life with the aforementioned complications.  I would probably find humor in them because, well, I would have to.

As the speaker continues to talk I wonder if I'm kidding myself.

Would I really prefer death over diarrhea?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Top Eight Favorite Things About My Evening with Ira Glass

Ira started the show.  In the dark.  For a moment everyone in the audience was alone in their car listening to This American life.

I read something in the local newspaper that made me think he might not talk about Mike Daisey.  That wouldn't have felt right.  It would have felt like a show, not a performance.  He brought up the Mike Daisey thing and talked about it without letting it take over

He told all the folks who were there on dates and had no idea who he was or what he was talking about that he hoped they would all get laid.

"Great stories happen to those who can tell them."

“It's important that you're out to amuse yourself"

He answered questions from folks in the cheap seats during Q&A.

He was delightfully straightforward.

"People tell me I have a great voice for radio.  I don't.  I talk like a 15 year old.  You're just used to it.  There's a lot to be said for repetition."
Audience Member:  Do you have any tried and true questions you use to bring out a really great story?
Ira:  Yes.  "Do you have a really great story?"

He does talk like a 15 year old.  I would be wasted in 5 minutes if there was a drinking game based on him saying "Like" or "You know."

Least favorite thing about the evening:  Paying to park in the garage where I used get paid to park.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hours and Deep Practice.

A few years ago I read "The Talent Code."  The book prompted me to reconsider my assumptions about aptitude and practice.   I won't do it justice but the gist of the book is that talent is about hours and hours of deep practice.

It challenges deeply engrained notions about being gifted or born with a skill.  There's something really intriguing about the idea of a prodigy.  The idea that "you kind of have it or you don't" is also incredibly useful in terms of explaining our own avoidance, shortcomings and frustrations with certain types of activities.

The book reframed how I think about my own successes and failures.  The concept of deep practice was most compelling (as was the realization I am not good at it).  I take deep practice to mean allowing yourself to fail.  Fail harder.  Let go.  Feel like an asshole.  Challenge yourself, push yourself, set aside assumptions, shut up and listen.  Don't phone it in. And hours.  Lots and lots of hours.  

There's something very heartening about this approach.  I am not a stellar Cross Fitter or dancer.  The book reminds me I *could* be.  I admit I haven't given either the hours or deep practice to warrant improvement.  

All that said, a small part of me maintains that I'm just kinesthetically challenged.
As have others.  

Yes, it feels like an excuse.  
Yes, it flies in the face of a premise that I claim to embrace (and has decent empirical support).

After six days of skiing, I call shenanigans.  On myself.

You can't be kinesthetically challenged and successfully negotiate your movement through racing gates, moguls and significant changes in equipment (straight to carved).  I'm still riding the high of how masterful I felt on the mountain last week.

I can't remember not knowing how to ski.  I started very young and skied a lot. Then raced a lot.  Hours.  I trained.  I practiced.  On one ski.  With no poles.  Drills.  I messed around a lot too (tried random shit) and when I add it all up I'm calling it deep practice.

So, "Talent Code" this is why I chose you when I gazed at the book selection in the lab.  Let's catch up.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Yes, that's a penguin on my head

I remind myself of an "Elf Yourself" video.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Dear American Airlines indeed.

A story about getting laid over in the middle of a trip.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Silver Joy

There's something wonderful about rediscovering joy.

I'm in Colorado this week (I love this Spring Break academic calendar thing) skiing.  The weather great, the conditions good (great by New England standards) and very fun company.

I enjoyed the first few days getting back into the groove, working on technique and breaking my body into it (a housemate put it best when she woke up after the first day and said "I feel like elephants have stepped on me.")

Today the NASTAR course was open.  For this first time in almost half my life I ran gates.  Repeatedly.

I absolutely loved it.  Exhilarating, thrilling, speed.  This was joy.  Rediscovered.

Most of my runs were Bronze but I managed to score a Silver.

Being in my thirties definitely helps with ratings/rank.
And I have two more days to get Gold.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012