William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Saturday, 29, November, 2008

Shopping In December

Filed under: Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 23:35

I just bought a load of new clothes recently.  As a card-carrying demophobe, it was really nice to sit around in my underwear and buy clothes online.  I mean, you can’t beat the convenience, there are no pushy people around, and if I tried that in Downtown Cleveland, well, I’d get arrested or frostbite or both.

However, I do miss the stores Downtown.  I miss taking the old PCC Rapidrapid through Shaker Square, and then down to the Cleveland Union Terminal.  Higbee’s, Halle’s and May’s were the big three.

Halle’s was not on Public Square, being down by the theaters.  That was more of an adventure, because it wasn’t routine, but eating in the Geranium Room (because Mrs. Halle liked Geraniums) was key, as was going to see Mr. Jingeling at Halle’s Seventh Floor Toyland.  Anyone can go see Santa, WE went to see Mr. Jingeling, jingeling1Santa’s locksmith, the Keeper of the Keys.  (I was never really sure why Santa needed a locksmith at the North Pole, but I thought he doubled making clockwork mechanisms.)

I remember the window displays, and the smell of roasting nuts from Morrow’s Nut House blowing onto Euclid Avenue.  Mostly, though, I remember going to Higbee’s and May’s with my grandmother, up from the Rapid, up the old elevators with the elevator operators in Higbee’s and all the departments, the little booth that sold stamps and coins next to the fabrics and the drug store.  The toy shop on the fourth floor.  The wooden escalators and the pianos and furniture on the eighth floor.

And the Silver Grille.  Where you would go and as a kid get your meal in a little cardboard stove.  Where they had the most excellent muffins, Welsh Rabbit, and the pool with the goldfish in the middle of the restaurant. Where you could go to the Twigbee shop, and spend your allowance on kid-priced gifts for your parents and they would WRAP IT FOR YOU so you could surprise your family.

May’s was nice, and had better clothes, but for downtown Christmas shopping, Higbee’s was the place.  Then after all was wrapped and bagged, we’d get back on the Rapid, and go home.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy adulthood, and the freedoms that come with it, but I’d like to go Christmas shopping with my Grandmother again, at Higbees.

Friday, 28, November, 2008

Sappy Cat Blogging

Filed under: Uncategorized — williamthecoroner @ 21:36

A reminder, once again, to vote for the Rainbow Connection Animal Foundation at the Shelter Challenge.

This week’s sappy cat blogging is for the wait staff at Big Al’s Diner on Larchmere, who are feeding a bunch of abandoned cats across the street. They’re skittish, but they seem to be doing well, probably because of the cheezburgerz.

Thursday, 27, November, 2008

Thanksgiving

Filed under: Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 10:36

Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Proclamation of Thanksgiving:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

One of my students has a tendency to tell me to “have a blessed day”. I find it slightly jarring, as that is a phrase that I don’t habitually use. But the sentiment is not misplaced. As a (minor) student of history, I’ve always been impressed with how incredibly lucky I am, and how lucky people are to be living in the early XXI century. Advances in public health, access to information, access to travel, lengthening life span, and all of that? I’d love to SEE Caesar’s Rome. I have no desire whatever to live there. I’d like to SEE The Tempest at the Globe put on by the King’s Men. Water-borne illnesses and no antibiotics? I’ll pass.

I’m thankful for my job and my students. I get paid to wander around and talk about science to people who, (unless they’re on nights) pay attention to me. I get to analyze forensic cases and try to work for justice. I get to work with really interesting forensic investigators and hear about their most interesting cases.

I’m thankful that I have fuzzy cats that keep me warm. I’ve got a nice, old house, that needs some work, but is a pleasant interesting place. I’ve got friends to turn to for advice (and I’ve gotten it) from people whom I know in meatspace to other teachers who blog. Frankly, if I’m stuck anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard from Lubec, ME to Miramar FL I have people I can call.

It is part of the human condition to be aware of problems and things that might hurt you. It is part of the human condition that nothing ever goes your way. So what? Things are good. It’s good to be thankful. Psalm 118:24.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, 26, November, 2008

You Gotta Be Kidding

Filed under: Social Commentary,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 15:52

According to THIS report in the National Post, students in Carelton College in Ontario have decided to discontinue the tradition of raising money for Cystic Fibrosis research.  Evidently the disease is not “inclusive” enough.   According to the story

Cystic fibrosis “has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men” said the motion read Monday night to student councillors, who voted almost unanimously in favour of it.

I’m really not sure what their point is. Not all diseases affect everyone equally. The autoimmune diseases, for example, primarily affect women. Tay-Sachs disease primarily affects Ashkenazi Jews and French Canadians. Even hypertension and heart disease, widespread as they are, affect African-Americans more severely than whites. So is it that Cystic Fibrosis discriminates? It doesn’t affect a wide enough spectrum of people? So therefore we should stop funding breast cancer research because it doesn’t affect enough men? (more…)

When Educations Attack

Filed under: Uncategorized — williamthecoroner @ 13:01

So this morning, I was at the Arabica on north campus, in search of some hazelnut coffee on a lousy cold morning.  I didn’t get any.  But there was music playing in the background, sort of an up-tempo, Vegas-style nightclub-by sound, very syncopated with a lot of trumpets and sax.  Frank Sinatra began to sing “By the old Moulmein pagoda…”  I thought to myself, “The lyrics are familiar, where have I heard that before?  Is that from Guys and Dolls?”  It took me quite some time to realize that he was singing Kipling’s Road to Mandalay.

Now, several folks have recorded that as a song.  Usually, however, it’s done in a very straightforward march tempo, very evenly.  To hear (and I’ll try to render it phonetically) “And you seeeeee the Sun, Like THUNDER…cross the bay” with heavy wah-wah big band brass behind it just grates on the ear.  Not like I’m opinionated or anything [1] but really.  Also, at least Frank didn’t try to sing with anything but his own accent; but the song really does need to be sung by a Brit.

Having obtained my coffee, I went back to the Medical School.  I related this story in the elevator to someone who has obviously worked in the medical school too long, because she said “Vagus style?  Oh, you mean Las Vegas style!  I thought you were referring to some one with excess parasympathetic tone!  Like the Vagus nerve.”

I realized in an instant that this was a blogworthy moment.  Comedy like this doesn’t come along every day.  Then, of course, I started thinking about excess parasympathetic tone, the mnemonic for which is SLUD–Salivation, Lachrymation, Urination, Defaecation.  The symptoms of acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (nerve gas) poisoning–you get those from unopposed parasympathetic activity.

Now, I don’t think that song would sound that good if Frank had those symptoms.  And I don’t know of anyone who’d pay good money to see Frank drooling, crying, and peeing all over the stage, even if it were in Vegas.  Weimar-era Berlin, perhaps, but still I can’t see filling ninety minutes of a nightclub act like that.  Perhaps as the opener, but of course, 1. could you pay Sinatra to open for someone else and 2. would you like to be the performer who came on stage after that act?  I wouldn’t want to.

1.   HA!

Tuesday, 25, November, 2008

From the New Medical Journal “DUH!”

Filed under: Social Commentary,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 22:12

Medical Students are Socially Segregated from Others You read it here first.  And they’re SURPRISED by this?  Between 80-120 hour work weeks, a course load that’s like drinking from a fire hose, balanced meals that are from a different row and column in the vending machine, what do you expect?  Haven’t you read the House of God?

I let all my interviewees know that they are more likely than others to get addicted, get divorced, go off the deep end and successfully complete their suicide as a physician than the average person.  Now, this usually scares the undergrads who are starry-eyed and have watched too much Grey’s Anatomy. I don’t bloody care.  In terms of dealing with reality and medicine Dr. Cox is actually a better role model.

In medicine, we see people at their worst and who need help the most.  Is is any wonder health care providers are a little odd?

Monday, 24, November, 2008

Yet Another County Heard From

Filed under: Uncategorized — williamthecoroner @ 23:48

Rethoryke says “1stLT Vincent T. is confused, but very happy with his care package. I sent him an email earlier this morning from my [school] account.

Thanks for facilitating this!

Thank the Lt., Rhet, and thanks for all who participate.  I’m game as long as you guys are.

Child Abuse

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 23:41

Today I spent the morning reviewing slides from a homicide and a probable SIDS, and then lectured for an hour about child abuse.  One year I had a class that kept asking for “more photos”.  Then I gave this lecture.  The calls for photos stopped.

I illustrate the lecture with photos from an autopsy that was replete with findings.  Frenulum tear, fracture callus, open linear skull fracture, bruising, cigarette burns all in one case.  Only thing it didn’t have were scalds.  No, I’m not posting these photos on the blog.

Not EVER.

Friday, 21, November, 2008

Another County Heard From

Filed under: Social Commentary,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 18:11

I got this e-mail today:bu1sw66

I followed up your lessons regarding particle accelerators.
This weekend I purchased a S&W Model 66 .357 Magnum.
Your lessons did not go to waste.

This person spends a lot of time wandering around woods and boggy areas. Sometimes uncivilized folks are in those areas, and she’s taking responsibility for her own safety.

Though I Live Not Where I Love

Filed under: Poetry — williamthecoroner @ 18:11
Come all ye maids who live at a distance
Many a mile from off your love
Come and assist me this very moment
For to pass away some time
Singing sweetly and completely
Songs of pleasure and of love
My heart is with you all together
Though I live not where I love

When I sleep I dream about you
When I wake I find no rest
Every moment thinking of you
My heart fixed within your breast
Though great distance may prove assistance
From my mind your love to remove
My heart is with you all together
Though I live not where I love

All the world should be one religion
All living things should cease to die
If ever I prove false to my jewel
Any way my love deny
The world would change and be most strange
If ever I inconstant prove
My heart is with you all together
Though I live not where I love

So farewell lads and farewell lasses
Now I think I've got my choice
I'll away to yonder island
Where I think I hear your voice
If you call then I will follow
Though the ocean be so wide
My heart is with you all together
Thought I live not where I love

Trad.
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