We’re back (and driving on the left again)

We’re back from Italy! (and trying to get back in sync with the australian time zone).

After spending two weeks getting used to driving on the right hand side of the road (it’s very weird seeing cars drive past and noticing that the right hand front seat (where you expect to see a driver) contains someone reading a book, or a large dog, or no-one at all) I’m now having to adjust back to the “normal” way of doing things. In spite of the weirdness however I’m glad we did get a car, because we wouldn’t have been able to do half the things we did without the car to get us around. That said, if I never have to drive in Rome ever again it would be too soon. The Roman drivers and their chaotic version of city driving I could largely handle, but trying to navigate Romes seemingly random one way system and unexpectedly branching roads was the cause of some new and spectacular forms of stress for me.

There will be some photos of our adventures going up on the website at some stage, although I need to sort them a little first (we took something like 500 photos over 3 weeks) and try to not spend too much time using them as an excuse for procrastinating when I need to be getting back into properly studying for the exam.

Wrap your laughing gear around this…

Today slashdot mentioned the ending of an internet show which I had never heard of, but which apparently included the handing out missions to it’s viewers, and one of these had been to make an earth sandwich.

Think of it. Placing one piece of bread in one spot on the ground, and then placing (or coordinating with other people to place) another piece of bread on the exact opposite side of the world, thus creating an earth sandwich. I just love the imagery..

Curious possibility

Something I was reading a while back that I thought was a fantastically interesting possibility was the notion of using Propranolol (a beta adrenergic receptor blocker drug, most commonly used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease) to treat PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

I first saw it on 60 minutes (which is of course always such a bastion or journalistic reliability and cautiousness), but afterwards I had a look on Pubmed for any published scientific articles on the topic, and while there weren’t many, and they were mostly case studies or case series, it did seem that this was not as unsupported and crazy as I had initially suspected it might be.

The 60 minutes article and several papers talked about using the drug for short courses (days to weeks) at what seemed like comparatively high doses, in conjunction with cognitive therapies and emotional stimulations relating to their specific PTSD situation.

The patients reported that while it did not remove the traumatic memories, there was no longer the intrusive emotional and physical responses associated with the memories.

There were some “experts” (philosophers and some psychiatrists) who were voicing concerns about the use of drugs to effectively modify memories, arguing that it was a dangerous precedent, since we formed bad emotional associations to stop us making mistakes repeatedly, but those who were researching this treatment made the counter argument (which I agreed with) that PTSD is not a normal response, and if we see someone with a broken arm we don’t deny them pain killers because it will cause them to miss out on the full experience of having broken a bone, so why would we consider it any different to contemplate withholding treatment for someone’s emotional pain?


One of the things they tell you about in Med school is the ability of certain medications to give you a metallic taste in your mouth.

Previously I had always though: “Metallic taste, that’s not that bad. I wonder why they make such a big things about it”.

That changed a few weeks back. With lunch I inadvertently had a glass of water that had come out of a copper pipe and it wasn’t until I’d finished most of the glass that I noticed the blue tint to the water and then started to taste the metallic taste. As the afternoon wore on I’m not sure if the taste got stronger or if I just became increasingly conscious of it, but it became highly unpleasant. Drinking water or tea didn’t decrease it. Eating didn’t decrease it. Even brushing my teeth didn’t help things. Eventually it disappeared (overnight I think), but it quite startled me just how unpleasant a situation it had been.

Another thing I suppose that I can learn to take people a bit more seriously about when they report it as a symptom…

Veni, vedi, vino

We came, we saw, we drank a lot of wine.

We have now been in Italy for almost a week and I’m getting into the holiday swing of things.

We spent two and a bit days in Rome seeing the major attractions and adding to our list of things we will go back and see when we return in a weeks time. We have now been in Tuscany for two days and everyone loves the atmosphere and the food (although the weather is a bit variable (raining when we arrived wednesday, sunny and warm yesterday, sunny and cold today)). Day trips to Pisa, Sienna, and Florence are all on the cards, although we’re pretty much operating on a no alarm clocks and figure out what we want to do today over the breakfast table type itinery.

Enough for now. More in a week or so when I next make time to find an internet connection (a concept that makes me realise how in holiday mode I am, given that usually I would be politely described as being umbilically attached to my computer and the internet).



Japan, it’s this whole other country, dontcha know.

So greetings from a whole other country.

We have an overnight stopover here before continuing on to Rome tomorrow. Since we landed pretty much everything has been amusing me and confusing Simone. I’ve been chuckling and grinning as though I’m quite derranged. There was a truck when we were leaving the airport that had an emblem that appeared to be a stylised cat carrying a kitten. For the life of me I couldn’t what airport related industry that could represent (pet relocations maybe?).

At the hotel the toilet had an instruction manual and the ironing board had a power cord (and we have been debating whether it is in fact some kind of clothes press).

We watched a bit of Japanese TV, including a bit of manga (and yes, it is as confusing in Japanese as it is in English), a show that appeared to revolve around food associated with trains and trams, and a channel that appeared to be mostly ads (which are as bizarre and funny as they are always reported to be, even with the language barrier). we watched Sesame Street in Japanese, and a bit of some apparent real life pokemon spin-off, which in true Japanese style involved a lot of physical challenge type tasks.

Other than that we had dinner, I had some sake (when in Rome… wait, that’s tomorrow) which I have always enjoyed since I first had it many years ago in a restaurant in Dunedin, and passed out.

More big flying tomorrow.