Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jack McIntyre ("Rose Man") passes away

Jack McIntyre, the man who came up with Pierre Trudeau's signature lapel rose, has died.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jack McIntyre and his wife as part of his volunteer efforts with Queen's University's Clinical Skills program. In the brief hour in which several members of our medical class visited him in Kingston, he told us about himself, his history, how he courted his wife by sending her a rose every week, and the story behind Trudeau's rose. His apartment was decorated with commendations and letters of congratulations from various dignitaries and politicians from across time. In his later years, he dedicated his efforts towards raising money for charitable causes, including cancer research.

He will be missed by all.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa is Canadian!

The National Post has written an article with some little-known facts about Santa Claus and his role with respect to the Canadian government:
- Santa is a Canadian citizen, according to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
- Santa's workshop is GST exempt.
- Because the North Pole is part of Canadian territory, Santa doesn't need to go through border clearance when he travels to deliver gifts.

No comment on whether Santa has to pay landing fees - or in BC, whether he needs to pay the carbon tax.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ontario Health Study

I learned of something called the Ontario Health Study, a recently-launched longitudinal research project that aims to collect health data from millions of Ontarians over the next several decades. They currently have a large presence on the TTC - to learn more, visit the study website or this Globe and Mail article.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wool Lovers in Kingston

To the Wool Lovers in Kingston:

Thanks for putting woollen covers on downtown Kingston's bike stands. They're really pretty and help liven up the urban landscape. I don't remember the e-mail address you tagged your creations with, but consider this a fan letter!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Local if necessary, but not necessarily local

A Globe and Mail article discusses the environmental impact of salmon that is produced locally versus being shipped from an international location. The answers may are surprising!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Antiseptics: Pink is better

In preparing patients for invasive procedures (e.g biopsies, bone marrow aspiration, major surgery), I have always wondered the difference between the various antiseptics used. In the past, I tended to use whatever was handed to me by the nurse or resident.

A recent study published in NEJM earlier this year shows that chlorhexidine-alcohol (pink solution) is superior to povidone-iodine (brown solution) in reducing rates of surgical site infection. This randomized controlled trial found a relative risk of 0.59. Although this is only one study, it strongly supports use of chlorhexidine-based solutions over iodine.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why do cyclists take up a whole lane?

When I'm a driver on the road, sometimes I get annoyed at cyclists who take up more than their proportionate space in a road lane. However, as a road cyclist myself, I know there are many very good reasons cyclists do this. Here are some of them:

- the edge of the lane was repaved, making it bumpy and very uncomfortable to ride on
- there is gravel or dirt near the curb, reducing traction
- the edge of the lane has potholes, sewer drains, road signs or other hazardous obstacles
- it recently rained, making the side of the road wet
- there are parked cars with passengers who may open the door and give the door prize
- the cyclist is allowing the car behind it to turn right
- there is a runner or a slower cyclist on the road
- the cyclist feels the lane is too narrow, so takes up the lane to prevent drivers from passing

Some behaviours of cyclists (running red lights and stop signs) are inexcusable, but riding in the middle of the lane does have its legitimate reasons.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Welcome to a Rob Ford city

Rob Ford suggests runners should compete in parks, rather than on roads, to avoid street closures.

He also says "roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks, not for people on bikes".

Well, I suggest the following, too:
- kids should play NHL 2011 on their PlayStation 3, not on the roadway.
- roads are not for parked cars. We should ban all street parking.
- sidewalks, like bike lanes, take up precious space on roadway easements. They should be demolished and replaced with extra car lanes.
- trucks are slow. We should ban trucks, because freight should be moved over rail lines instead.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another reason to get your flu shot

Another reason to get your flu shot... a study published in CMAJ today finds an association between influenza vaccination and an almost 20% drop (OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.77-0.85) in rates of acute MI.

Source: CMAJ 2010. DOI:10.1503/cmaj.091891

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mandatory census needed

A study from the government has shown that a voluntary long-form census would skew results in a way that makes data less reliable. When will the government listen and revert its mistake to scrap the mandatory long-form census?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


An insightful article into the difficulties of recognizing the creation of new sovereign states by unilateral secession...
Kosovo: The Elusive Recognition of Unilateral Secessions - Montreal Gazette

Monday, August 23, 2010

Shame on the government

For a government that prides itself as tough on crime, it is shameful to see the Conservative government destroy the gun registry. I've heard the arguments that the gun registry does nothing to prevent crime. If that was the case, why are Canada's police boards and chiefs united in their opposition to scrapping the gun registry?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why a pathological diagnosis is necessary

This is why oncologists insist on a tissue diagnosis before treating suspected cancer patients:
Patient fearing he had the Big C in his lung actually had a little pea (The Globe and Mail)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Electronic health records

Although not devoid of problems, Alberta's electronic health record, Netcare, is a wonderful part of working in the hospitals in Alberta. At a glance, it allows easy access to labwork, discharge summaries, radiology reports, even images (sometimes). Although Ontario hospitals have made some progress in this aspect (for example, Patient Results Online at UHN), lack of a province-wide system is an impediment to information access for patient care. Ontario needs a proper electronic health record.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Can we spell?

Clearly, organizers of the G20 can't. You would think one billion dollars would buy a spell checker.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Car culture in today's youth

A Toronto Star article points to the decline of car culture in today's youth, and makes an interesting argument: that technology is suppressing automotive aspirations in today's young people.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sea of colour

Someone has planted thousands of tulips in Toronto, and The Toronto Star is trying to figure out who! Did you plant tulips in Toronto's east end?

Update: Toronto's Clean and Beautiful City program planted the tulips with a special bulb-planting machine.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stephen Harper serves at the pleasure of Parliament, not the other way around

The Speaker of the House, Peter Milliken, rules that the government must reveal its documents on the Afghan detainee issue. It's about time that the people hear about what our country has been up to.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Indian cuisine

I went to Trimurti today, a restaurant in downtown Toronto. Located on 265 Queen St W, they specialize in delicious Indian cuisine.

The restaurant was surprisingly quiet, albeit we went on a weekday. We ordered samosas, a sizzling chicken dish, Punjabi beef, and vegetarian biryani. Dessert consisted of rice pudding. The food was wonderful, the portions were large, and prices were reasonable. Definitely worth a visit!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Parliament resumes

Parliament resumed today, more than two months after it was prorogued. Elizabeth May sums up Stephen Harper's attitudes to parliament quite elegantly:
He has violated the most fundamental of principles in parliamentary democracy: that the Prime Minister serves at the pleasure of the House, not the other way around.

Source: The Mark