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  • Michael Krakovskiy 2:09 pm on March 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Albert Einstein, Charlie Taylor, food courts, , Lovecraftian Costco warehouse, , mechanic, Mythography, , , , Swastika, Symbolism,   

    National Air And Space Visit 

    While in Washington, I visited the National Air and Space Museum. It is like some kind of Lovecraftian Costco warehouse filled with a mix of priceless artifacts encased in layers of plexiglas and cheezy recreations, carnival-like educational attractions, and disguasting food courts and kiosks.

    Overhead, like beached whales or a giant boy’s toy models, hang famous air and space ships. They have just about everything you could think of – Spirit of St. Louis, Space Ship One, a Brietling Orbiter, even the original Wright Flyer. They all look lifeless and sad, especially the spacecraft.

    I was a bit overwhelmed by the craft collection, but it’s the little things that I enjoyed seeing the most. They have, side by side, Nestler sliderules that used to belong to former z/k Korolev and former Sturmbannfuhrer Von Braun. Missing is the Nestler that used to belong to Albert Einstein. I also wonder who now owns the two two-copek coins that were Korolev’s lucky charm. I also wonder if Von Braun used to have a lucky charm.

    The only remaining piece of the original Sputnik – an arming device that was removed prior to launch, an equivalent of little strips of paper you sometimes find in remote controls and other battery-powered gadgets.

    It was interesting to notice how many aircraft were put together using slotted instead of philips screws, like these huge ones on the Soviet ICBM.

    I don’t know why, but I stood for a good while admiring the hypnotic twists of a handmade screwdriver that used to belong to Charlie Taylor, Wright’s mechanic.

    Soviet space kitch collection is vast: from magnetic Mir-flown chess (something of a 70s vintage space look to them)

    to all kinds of space crappers (a low-tec suction bulb is probably safer where your privates and vaccuum are involved).

    The nose cone from the Spirit of St. Louis is signed on the inside, but you have to cram yourself into an uncomfortable niche to see the swastika and signatures of well-wishers, including Wrong Way Corrigan. Apparently early aviators frequently used not yet befouled by Nazis swastikas as good luck charms.

    One of the last things I saw, a crazy looking British pusher airplane had such an amazing Star Wars look that I maybe even gasped a little.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 5:05 am on July 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Brain Surgeon, , fatal infection, Firlik, Frontal lobe, fully qualified surgeon, Lobe, mechanic, , neurosurgeon, primitive tools, superbly gifted writer, , trained scientist, untreated earache, young roofer   

    Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside 

    Katrina Firlik is a neurosurgeon, one of only two hundred or so women among the alpha males who dominate this high-pressure, high-prestige medical specialty. She is also a superbly gifted writer–witty, insightful, at once deeply humane and refreshingly wry. In Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, Dr. Firlik draws on this rare combination to create a neurosurgeon’s Kitchen Confidential–a unique insider’s memoir of a fascinating profession.

    Neurosurgeons are renowned for their big egos and aggressive self-confidence, and Dr. Firlik confirms that timidity is indeed rare in the field. “They’re the kids who never lost at musical chairs,” she writes. A brain surgeon is not only a highly trained scientist and clinician but also a mechanic who of necessity develops an intimate, hands-on familiarity with the gray matter inside our skulls. It’s the balance between cutting-edge medical technology and manual dexterity, between instinct and expertise, that Firlik finds so appealing–and so difficult to master.

    Firlik recounts how her background as a surgeon’s daughter with a strong stomach and a keen interest in the brain led her to this rarefied specialty, and she describes her challenging, atypical trek from medical student to fully qualified surgeon. Among Firlik’s more memorable cases: a young roofer who walked into the hospital with a three-inch-long barbed nail driven into his forehead, the result of an accident with his partner’s nail gun, and a sweet little seven-year-old boy whose untreated earache had become a raging, potentially fatal infection of the brain lining.

    From OR theatrics to thorny ethical questions, from the surprisingly primitive tools in a neurosurgeon’s kit to glimpses of future techniques like the “brain lift,” Firlik cracks open medicine’s most prestigious and secretive specialty. Candid, smart, clear-eyed, and unfailingly engaging, Another Day in the Frontal Lobe is a mesmerizing behind-the-scenes glimpse into a world of incredible competition and incalculable rewards.

    From the Hardcover edition.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:34 pm on July 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , boat forward, , ISDN, mechanic, , The Pilot   


    I have two recurring daydreams that run through my mind in the morning, as I’m making my way from the subway platform to my cubicle. I’ve had them for years and years.

    In the first one I’m standing inside the office tower where I work and look outside. The longboat from the spaceship I’m a captain of is hovering outside. Most of my crew is in it, the mechanic is holding my space suit, cargo master – my two guns. The air is swirling from the heat of the longboat’s thrust rockets pointed down. The pilot edges the boat forward and the window shatters. They motion for me to jump, hundreds of meters above Manhattan. We got to get back into orbit and rendezvous with my ship.

    The second daydream is not so science-fictiony. In it I own a small apartment in a tall residential tower: there was always on near every location where I worked. When I worked at 888 Broadway, a tower like that was being built, and the ad at its base promised dedicated ISDN connections for every tenant. Anyway, my apartment is unlike any that I ever lived in: it’s very high up, it has floor to ceiling glass windows, all the furniture is super modern (Design Within Reach kind). And now, I don’t really have to show up at work right away – I can go to my apartment in the sky and take a nap first.

    What about you? Any daydreams you can share?

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