How Doctors Think

How Doctors Think is a window into the mind of the physician and an insightful examination of the all-important relationship between doctors and their patients. In this myth-shattering work, Jerome Groopman explores the forces and thought processes behind the decisions doctors make. He pinpints why doctors succeed and why they err. Most important, Groopman shows when and how doctors can — with our help — avoid snap judgments, embrace uncertainty, communicate effectively, and deploy other skills that can profoundly impact our health.

Mark Z Danielewski’s Signing

I am still trying to finish a few book reviews, but my mind is following associative paths a bit too freely these days, so they are coming out too wordy and confusing. Meanwhile, one of the authors that I am writing about, Mark Z Danielewski, came out with a new book, “Only Revolutions“. It has a cryptic flash website. I noticed that the two eyes comprise a stereo pair, if you look at them through a stereo viewer (or simpy coross-eyed) the pictures seem to float around.

I checked Barnes & Noble’s website, and there seems to be indeed a reading and signing on September 25th at 7 PM at the store at 675 6th Avenue (I used to work just around the corner from there). If you want to meet up, shoot me an email or IM.

For those of you in Ka-lee-fornia, Texachussets and other cromulent places, here’s the entire Only Revolutions tour:

Sep 16 06 Skylight Books Los Angeles 7:30PM
Sep 17 06 West Hollywood Book Fair multi-author panel, West Hollywood Park, West Hollywood 2:15PM
Sep 18 06 University Book Store Seattle (University District store) 7PM
Sep 19 06 Powell’s City of Books Portland (Burnside store) 7:30PM
Sep 21 06 Bookshop Santa Cruz Santa Cruz 7:30PM
Sep 22 06 M Is For Mystery San Mateo 2PM **signing only**
Sep 22 06 Booksmith San Francisco 7PM
Sep 24 06 KGB Bar New York 7PM with Ken Kalfus
Sep 25 06 Barnes & Noble New York (6th Ave) 7PM
Sep 26 06 Brookline Booksmith Brookline 7PM
Sep 27 06 Books & Books Coral Gables 8PM
Sep 29 06 Master’s Tea/Yale University 4PM

Oct 10 06 Boulder Book Store Boulder 12PM (noon)
Oct 10 06 Tattered Cover Bookstore Denver 7:30PM
Oct 11 06 Bookslut Reading Series Hopleaf Bar, Chicago
Oct 12 06 Borders Books Madison 7PM
Oct 14 06 Twin Cities Book Festival Minneapolis
Oct 15 06 Prairie Lights Books Iowa City 1PM **check for webcast details**
Oct 17 06 Borders Books Los Angeles (Westwood) 7PM
Oct 18 06 Book Soup Los Angeles (Sunset) 7PM
Oct 20 06 International Festival of Authors Harbourfront Centre Toronto
Oct 22 06 Strand Bookstore New York 5PM
Oct 23 06 New Haven Public Library New Haven 6:30PM
Oct 24 06 Collegiate School Book Festival New York 6PM
Oct 25 06 Vroman’s | store link Pasadena 7PM
Oct 26 06 KDGE interview with DJ Jessie Jessup Dallas 2PM-6PM
Oct 28 06 Texas Book Festival Continental Club Gallery Austin 9PM

A Jaunt To Boston

I dread the question “how was your weekend” because I usually spend my weekends not going anywhere. But this time I have enough to do a whole “how I spent my weekend” post as my wife dragged me to Boston. She wanted to see Russian bells at the Lowell House in Harvard as well as break the loosely stay at home cycle that I am so prone to.

We took a Fung Wah bus to Boston (“Licensed and permitted by Federal Highway Administration” and everything). Fung Wah is one of the companies that operates New York Chinatown to Boston Chinatown trips at cutthroat rates – about $15 each way. Somehow they took on Greyhound and seem to be winning – Greyhound was forced to bring its rates down from about $45 to $15. We took a Greyhound bus on the way back, and I’ve got to tell you that the Fung Wah experience was a bit better. They left on time, had little shopping bags to throw you garbage into, and most importantly did not play a stupid movie at full blast – I really did not need to have my mind raped by former Batman performing in 1998 Christmas horror flick Jack Frost. Next time I am taking Fung Wah again.

We were driven around Boston by and old friend of mine, had dinner in an Indian restaurant and later drinks at the top of the Prudential Tower. Top of the Hub is located on the 52nd floor of the tower and has views to die for.

I had some Old Potrero which (as I now know) was incorrectly billed as a Canadian whisky. Even though it’s made in San Francisco and not Canada according to Anchor Brewing website, it was very good and unlike any other whiskey or whisky that I ever had. I’ll have to get acquainted with real hoser stuff later.

Our hotel room purchased with hard earned Mariott Points&tm; had this outstanding view of the controversially named Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge

We visited the “Art Deco: 1910-1939” exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. There were two pieces that I really liked – a metal gate that was used as a door to an executive suite in the Chanin Building and a pottery vase. I tried to imagine what a regular employee would feel seeing that gate, with a design of cogs and wheels, coin stacks and lightning bolts so wild that it looked electrified. The vase had a design of spirals that looked like Cthulhu tentacles, actually shining with evil glow. Overall, for $20 the exhibition was too short and not that interesting.

The main purpose of our trip was a visit to the Lowell House Bells. As it turns out an amazing set of Russian bells from the Danilov Monastery was purchased from the Soviet government in 1920s by a diplomat and industrialist Charles Crane thus escaping smelting. Crane gave it as a gift to Harvard. The bells were installed and then tuned by Constantin Saradjeff, an eccentric Russian bell expert who reportedly had superhearing powers, being able to “identify by ear any one of 4,000 bells in Moscow”.

Harvard students organized a Society of Russian Bell Ringers and for 50 years have been trying to learn to play the bells and learn their history, passing everything learned onto the next generation. They practice for 15 minutes every Sunday and invite everyone to visit the bell tower, listen to and even play the bells.

There are 14 bells of small and medium size and two very big bells called “Sacred Oil” and “Pestilence, Famine and Despair”, which are played from a console that has pulls and pedals:

And then there’s an absolutely giant 26,700 lb “Mother Earth” bell that is played by standing inside and moving its 700 lb clapper by hand. It takes a few sways to actually ring it once.

I stood inside the bell when it was played, and it was an unforgettable experience. The reverberations would not stop for minutes. Some say that Russian bells have healing powers. I don’t know about that, but that ring of the Mother Earth bell must have had everything from infra to ultra sounds in it. My wife had a great time taking her turn playing the bells, and I kind of regret that I did not have the guts to try it. Next time I sure will, and advise that you do the same.