William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Wednesday, 30, September, 2009

The Sliprails and the Spur

Filed under: Poetry — williamthecoroner @ 12:24

wrc_-_3_rail_with_horse-709x329The colours of the setting sun
Withdrew across the Western land —
He raised the sliprails, one by one,
And shot them home with trembling hand;
Her brown hands clung — her face grew pale —
Ah! quivering chin and eyes that brim! —
One quick, fierce kiss across the rail,
And, “Good-bye, Mary!” “Good-bye, Jim!”
~Oh, he rides hard to race the pain
Who rides from love, who rides from home;
But he rides slowly home again,
Whose heart has learnt to love and roam.~

A hand upon the horse’s mane,
And one foot in the stirrup set,
And, stooping back to kiss again,
With “Good-bye, Mary! don’t you fret!
When I come back” — he laughed for her —
“We do not know how soon ’twill be;
I’ll whistle as I round the spur —
You let the sliprails down for me.”

She gasped for sudden loss of hope,
As, with a backward wave to her,
He cantered down the grassy slope
And swiftly round the dark’ning spur.
Black-pencilled panels standing high,
And darkness fading into stars,
And blurring fast against the sky,
A faint white form beside the bars.

And often at the set of sun,
In winter bleak and summer brown,
She’d steal across the little run,
And shyly let the sliprails down.
And listen there when darkness shut
The nearer spur in silence deep;
And when they called her from the hut
Steal home and cry herself to sleep.

~And he rides hard to dull the pain
Who rides from one that loves him best;
And he rides never back again,
Whose restless heart must rove for rest.~
Henry Lawson

Monday, 28, September, 2009

Points of Information

Filed under: Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 15:39

You should probably never tell a professor that you think the book has too much information.

You should probably never tell a professor that you can’t find him, when he keeps office hours three days a week, and spends his office hours  blogging because no one comes to the office.

You should also probably not whine for PowerPoint handouts in the hopes of not having to take notes.

I will also not put sensitive materials, be they autopsy or just plain gross photos on any server at all.

Graduate Class #13

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 15:21

Croaked my way through visceral injuries.  I feel fine.  I just sound like I’m going through puberty again.  When I can talk at all.

Sunday, 27, September, 2009

Roman Policier?

Filed under: Forensics,Haterade,People who need pianos dropped on them — williamthecoroner @ 11:22

Filmmaker and long-time fugitive has been arrested in Switzerland, according to the BBC.  He is in custody, and facing extradition to the US.

Film director Roman Polanski has been taken into custody in Switzerland and faces extradition to the US for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

Mr Polanski, 76, was detained on Saturday as he travelled from France to collect a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.

Uh, not quite. Mr. Polanski gave a protesting thirteen-year old girl champagne and quaaludes, and then sexually assaulted her when she was incapacitated by drugs. She “begged him to stop, until it was obvious that it was of no use.”  *This is more than “having sex with” this is aggravated rape of a child.

The French, among whom Mr. Polanski has been living openly for decades, are outraged.

Mr. Polanski has suffered great hardship in his life, suffering in the Krakow ghetto in WWII and the murder of his pregnant wife in 1969. Tragedy, however, does not give someone a free pass to be a criminal. Neither does talent or celebrity. I reserve my sympathy for his victim. Mr. Polanski has evaded justice for decades, and it is time for it to end. Justice delayed is justice denied.

*These are his victim’s own words.

Blunt Object and the Atomic Nerds have their takes on Mr. Polanski and Acorn.

Friday, 25, September, 2009

Blunt Force Trauma

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 11:26

Abrasions, contusions, lacerations, fractures of various kinds.

How to distinguish between a laceration and an incision.

Patterned abrasions and contusions and what causes them.

How bruises change over time.

How to examine and describe wounds.

This is part one of a three-lecture series of blunt impacts

Thursday, 24, September, 2009

Sappy Cat Blogging

Filed under: Cat Blogging — williamthecoroner @ 20:28

ducttapecatThis is “Sticky” an abandonded grey tabby who was wrapped in duct tape and dumped in North Philadelphia this week.  Sometimes people really piss me off.  Evidently the vet was able to remove the duct tape, and she’s doing well, and up for adoption.  I hope she finds a better home that she originally had.  The story is HERE. Between Michael Vick and this, I’m beginning to take a firm dislike of Eastern Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, 23, September, 2009

Graduate Class #12

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 14:47

The examination of the heart.  In detail, from the external examination and the weight to how to cut it, the valves, the muscle, and the conduction system.  Other causes of sudden and unexpected natural death.

It is interesting how pathologists tend to use disgusting food metaphors.  Chocolate cysts.  Coffee-ground emesis.  Cheesy necrosis.  Bread-loafing an organ.

I’m also going to have to think of another method of getting the class to talk.  Passing out handouts has lead to two unfortunate consequences.

  1. People come in late
  2. When I ask questions they read the answers off the lecture notes.

I’m going to stop giving out the lecture notes.  I’m not determining if they students are learning, I’m finding out if they can read.  As this is a graduate class instead of grade 2, I’d already guessed that.  Pity I don’t have the budget to buy clickers.


Filed under: Forensics,Poetry — williamthecoroner @ 14:37

Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Monday, 21, September, 2009


Filed under: Cat Blogging,Natural History — williamthecoroner @ 21:29

518px-Tamias_minimusTamias minimus. The eastern chipmunk.  Rather a pretty beast, what with the red side, the black and white stripes, the button eyes.  They must be plentiful.  Murphy brought me one to play with yesterday.  When I didn’t, he looked at me distainfully and then ate the head.  Tinker also brought one home, but his was alive, to save for later.  In the dining room.  Of course.  Where else would you keep the small rodents?

Graduate Class #11

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 20:29

Natural Disease. We talked about the difference between sudden death, instantaneous death, and unexpected death. These are not synonyms. Sudden death is death that occurs within 12 hours of the onset of symptoms. Instantaneous death is really rare, and with the exceptions of severe violence leading to fragmentation or blunt impact with something really, really big (like a planet) there is always SOME time between onset and death. Unexpected death is one that comes out of the blue.

60% of people who come through a medical examiner’s office, more or less, have natural disease. A lot of those are due to heart disease. Fully 50% of people with hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease learn they have it when they drop dead. This makes treatment difficult. Some folks just don’t go to the doctor, even in Cleveland with a good county hospital system and a very active Free clinic. Some are Christian Scientists, and they will not have a PCP to sign their death certificate.

The heart, lungs, and brain are the organ systems most likely to be involved in natural death that brings you to coroner’s attention. We’ll talk more about this Wednesday.

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