Monday, May 27, 2013

Mazda 3 Skyactiv

 STI- The Drive Experience Company provided a vehicle for review.  The driving impression I give is my own.  I disclose this in accordance of FTC Guides concerning use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising.


I recently had the opportunity to drive the Brand New Mazda 3 Skyactiv sedan the 1st week of May 2013.  This car was supplied by STI to my wife of Leslie Loves Veggies and me for an official review of the product.  While she wrote her own review I can offer my own impression of the vehicle.

First some background;
I have owned a few cars of different makers over my 36+ years of auto driving experience.  I would say I am an above average driver simply by my defacto driving record.  52 years old, no accidents, 280,000 miles on my current 13 year old vehicle.  My driving experience started when I was 8 years old with a go-cart.  I had a dirt track in my back yard and regularly drove the go-cart in parking lots, school yards, and large pieces of private property.  Since then my automobile ownership included:
1960 T-Bird Convertible
1982 Toyota Celica GT
1986 Toyota Carolla
1980 Honda Civic
1990 Mercury Sable
1996 Mazda MPV Minivan
1997 Mercury Grand Marquis
2000 Toyota Celica GTS (6 spd manual)
2001 Toyota Celica GTS (Sport-Shift)

The Mazda 3 Skyactiv is a vehicle of special calibre simply for the technology packed into a small car.  The engine, fuel economy, electronics, and safety features make this vehicle very difficult to pass up when shopping for a new small vehicle.  Outside of the usual specifications of this vehicle such as 4 cylinder gas engine, PW, ABS,AM/FM CD Radio, PWR dual mirrors, LED Lighting, the highlights of the vehicle  truly bring this offering from Mazda up to the level of a "wish car" - "Wish I had that car?"

Engine - The Skyactiv product line whether in 4 cylinder or 6 cylinder equipped vehicles uses a high tech engine to obtain increased power, torque, and fuel economy by high compression, direct fuel delivery management, tuned exhaust, 4 valves per cylinder, and DOHC running optimally on regular 87 octane.  At a compression ratio of 13:1 one would expect this beast to run smoothly only on high octane offering of 93+.  No, the Skyactiv engine runs flawlessly smooth providing steady and ample power to accelerate the vehicle to highway speed effortlessly on low 87 octane.  Observed fuel economy around town was about 35 mpg.  Highway mpg is rated at 40+ on the sticker and by Mazda Corporation.

Safety - The Mazda 3 Skyactiv matches the wizardry of the engine with several key safety features that probably should be on all cars.  BSM - Blind Space Monitoring is a system using sensors mounted around the car to detect proximity of other vehicles in the drivers "blind-spots".  When there is a vehicle in the blind-spot, an indicator light is observed on the side view mirror of the side of the vehicle with a blind-spot detection.  If BSM is warning and the driver activates turn signal in the direction of the warning an audible signal inside the cabin alerts the driver there is a vehicle in the blind-spot.  At first the BSM warning on the mirror was good at distracting my attention but after driving the vehicle on highway roads for a few minutes the warning blends in an perfectly grabs your attention in your peripheral vision without being a distraction.  At that point the BSM system was an enhancement to my driving  experience and brought me assurance in my driving skill to know where the other vehicle were around me.
ABS, Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control were three features that you really don't detect while driving except when in an emergency braking or collision avoidance maneuver.  I did not experience any of that but you just have to trust that those safety features will be there when you need them and they will complement your driving skill to help the vehicle do and be where you want it at command.  Enough said.


The self adjusting rear view mirror was also a welcome feature when bright lights of a tail gating vehicle behind me was going to affect my vision.  The auto-dimming removed the high glare condition as expected.

The  bright white headlight which turn up to 15 degrees into the direction of a turn are a nice feature
and probably are very effective on sharp curve roads and turns.  In regular suburb and highway driving I did not experience the true benefit of such a feature.  In regular suburb driving making a turn at an intersection it was sort of strange to see the headlights suddenly and quickly shift direction. 

The Skyactiv vehicle line is also lighter and more rigid than predecessor models.  This vehicle holds Top Pick for safety by IIHS.  Multiple airbags make this vehicle a total package for the safety conscious car buyer.

Overall, the driving experience of the Mazda 3 Skyactiv brought confidence in a stable ride with great fuel economy without sacrificing needed power and acceleration for achieving highway speed.
Steering felt confident without being heavy, turning was smooth without any lapse of precise control.
Breaking was strong, super strong.  I felt at times breaking was a bit "grabby" compared to what I am used to driving.  None the less, the strong breaking ability of the vehicle enhanced my driving technique with added confidence in safety.  The manual shift automatic transmission has 6 speeds to choose from.  No wonder this total package of technology, wizardry, and power equals excellent fuel mileage.

The cabin electronics in this vehicle were complemented by a BOSE 10 speaker audio system, with Tom-Tom navigation, Pandora, SiriusXM Satellite radio, HD radio, and Bluetooth.  What more could you ask for.  Sound was rich and clean from the stereo; multiple controls on the steering wheel.  A nice touch were the blue ambient LED lighting that bathed driver and passenger floor boards and from overhead. 

The only two negatives I can sprout about this vehicle are lack of engine temperature gauge and small leg room in the back seat.  The latter maybe a minor issue with most folks but for me it is a big deal.  There are dozens of warning and indicator lights in-between and around the speedo-Tach cluster.  Being an analytical science driven type professional, I personally feel that cars have too few gauges to indicate operating conditions.  "Give me more info than I can understand; is better than not having it at all"~ I say.  At some point the info may be handy to indicate a potential problem and warn of developing issues.

The Mazda 3 Skyactiv is a solid contender in the small car market.  Packed with all kinds of safety goodies and technology this car is a real work of ingenuity.   For the price of this car there are great safety, electronic, and technological features found in upper  class luxury vehicles.  Take a test drive (an extended one if possible) in the Skyactiv and you will see how enjoyable and confident you will be driving this in vehicle.

Scott Mayorga  


Officer Tuthill-Incomming

One of the most dramatic laboratory stories I can ever tell occurred on May 27, 1986.   Officer Tuthill was a police officer for the Suffolk County Police Department; Long Island New York.  This brave officer was shot point blank by an angry motorist who he gave a summons to that evening.  The man shot officer Tuthill in the face with a 12-ga. shotgun.  Officer Tuthill survived his injuries but was permanently disfigured and blinded in one eye.

May 27, 1986, I was scheduled for evening shift at SUNY Stonybrook, University Hospital.  While driving to work in my 1982 Toyota Celica GT, I heard on a news radio station that a police officer was shot on eastern Long Island.  The officer was gravely injured and was en-route to University Hospital.   I new then that my shift was going to be busy in the lab.  I continued on my usual commute from Copiague, NY to Stonybrook.  Arriving at the hospital employee parking lot the atmosphere seemed quiet, normal, and like no action was going on.  I parked in a space on the lower level of this three tiered open lot and started up the stairs toward main level where the emergency room was located.  Once at the top of the stairs, I could turn around and look over the North-West horizon and see  a far distance as the hospital was on high elevation.  To the East was a line of tall trees that blocked the horizon. In the Easterly distance I could hear a familiar sound.  The low rumble of a helicopter was close and closing in fast.  As the sound became deafening, a monstrous, green, super sized National Guard helicopter cleared the tree line and made a tight radius turn right over my position.  This flying machine was gigantic.  It was the size of a bus with a massive rotor spinning with ferocious velocity.  In seconds the huge flying machine was on the ground and ER staff were running out to meet the tragic situation.  Officer Tuthill was quickly transferred  to a stretcher from the huge helicopter. I stood and watched the whole process of fly in, landing, transfer, ER entry, and then finally take-off.  The big huge bird with the massive rotor began to increase engine RPM.  The faster the rotor spun, the louder the noise.  I never heard anything so loud.  The smell of Jet-A exhaust was almost chocking.  As the rotor spun into a gray blur, the big bird slowly left the ground.  This great big flying machine turned in a hover about 30-40 ft above the ER parking lot and slowly rotated toward my standing position.  Flying directly overhead, I felt the power the rotor exerted in downward force on the atmosphere around me.  It was a feeling I may never experience again.  That close and underneath a roaring army helicopter was impressive, exhilarating, scary, and exciting.

I briskly entered the emergency room and headed toward the elevator to make my way to the lab.  There were lives to save in this large facility. As a trauma center, there were always lives to save.  I was ready to do my small part to help this medical team save officer Tuthill.  Arriving at the Hematology lab, all the staff were buzzing about the newest patient to arrive by helicopter.  Even though the lab did not have windows we could always tell there was a helicopter on the pad.  The ventilation system air intake was in close proximity to the helipad, so we always knew when a helicopter was present on the pad.  In short order,  first blood specimens arrived from  Officer Tuthill.  The lab was a torrent of activity to receive, process, analyze, and result the testing for this brave Officer.  Several more blood specimens would arrive in the lab that evening from Officer Tuthill.  His injuries described amongst the staff were grave and horrific, he was critical.  The next evening at University Hospital there were more specimens to analyze for the officer.  Little did I know then that the patient was on his way to not only making a recovery, he would also testify in court to tell the story of how the "perp" shot him in a supermarket parking lot.  Officer, Tuthill would move on through the years, returning to the police force as a Detective.  After 25 years, Officer Tuthill retired from Police Duty.

Although, very insignificant was my part in the saving of Officer Tuthill that evening, it was the collective efforts of the whole medical team that ultimately saved the patient.  The quick transport from the supermarket parking lot crime scene to the helipad at University Hospital was instrumental in getting Officer Tuthill much needed medical care ASAP.  A dedicated team of Doctors, nurses, and professional staff worked expediently that evening and fervently for the rest of Officer Tuthill's hospital stay to bring the best possible outcome for this brave man - returning home to his wife and children, then back to servicing the community on the police force.
God bless you Mr. Tuthill and your family.

Lab work is not always glamorous or exciting as this story contends.  The laborious efforts of Clinical Laboratory Scientists often go un-noticed, working in background to provide much needed analytical definitive data to help the physician diagnose and assess the medical condition of the patient.   Med Techs keep the laboratory system in good order, instruments running at their best to provide accurate reliable lab data.  Not all medical tragedies have a positive outcome such as this story but when they happen all involved feel that their small part in the success is not that small after all.

Hospital facilities in cities big and small all have various plans and procedures to handle different medical tragedy scenarios.  The hospital I work in now [Gwinnett Medical Center- Lawrenceville] was recently  recognized as providing expert care for stroke victims.  Many facilities are recognized for expert care and for great results in treating specialized medical needs.  Get to know your local hospital facility...find out what their specialties are.  Look them up on Health grades.You never know when you will need their services.

Good day my friends - take care of yourselves.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thanks to the ladies - Angie and Leslie!

If anyone would have asked me a year ago if I would be putting thoughts and memories on a blog today I would have said a resounding No.  But, here it is, my Blog.  I hope all my visitors enjoy the stories and are able to learn about the world of clinical laboratory medicine.  None of this would be at all possible if not for the help of two special ladies.  These ladies are very accomplished in their own rights and by no means need any minuscule notoriety that could be gained by mention on my obscure blog.  But, to not extend my gratitude to them for making my blog look so great would be a dis-service to them both.

First, I must thank my wife Leslie for her assuring gestures to coax me to embark on this project.  Without her, goes without saying, many things would not be possible; two lovely daughters, an awesome grandchild, wonderful dedication to our love and much reciprocation in the love we share with each other.  Oh yeah - it has not always been wine and roses...As one story will go in a future post there were cut nightgown strings, sleeping on the couch, and spaghetti falling to the floor before making it into the pot to boil.  But, anyway may I digress.  If not for my wife a lot of things would not be possible.  And - Yes Helen (my sister in-law) I have you to thank as well [future post when I save up courage to do so].  With Leslie on my side anything in the Blogosphere is possible.  You see she is the Owner, Editor, and everything that is leslielovesveggies.net, .com, .biz, etc. etc.  Leslie is a self taught blogger, website manger, and an excellent writer and product reviewer.  If you need someone to tweet your product to the masses, fb up one wall and down another, and bring attention to your product(s) contact Leslie at leslieveg@gmail.com

Mostly, I must thank Angie of blessedbeyondwords.com.  I know of Ms. Angie for some time now and she also helped Leslie with some design on leslielovesveggies.net.  Angie is responsible for the wonderful creation that my blog has become, she designed the drapes and curtains, imagination behind some of the design, the special flask bottle social media buttons, the navigation bar, and the background made from own my own photo micrograph of a blood cell.  Ms. Angie can do anything your imagination can think of and do it efficiently.  She is brilliant.  If you need a blog makeover, blog or website creation, or just some "work under the hood", contact Ms. Angie at angievinez@gmail.com

Between these two ladies my blog has blasted into stratosphere in style and function. 

I love brilliant, smart, confident, beautiful women.  These two are just grand.

Thank you ladies!

Scott

Saturday, May 18, 2013

No Opened Toed Shoes, except for the bully

 When you work in a management role, no matter what industry you are in, it is critically important to operation and staff morale that leaders lead by example.  Not all folks say to themselves "If the boss is doing it but I know it is wrong - I will not do the same...I must follow the rules set forth".  Yeh right!  If staff see you breaking the rules as a manager, they are going to take the opportunity to do the same.  Unless, breaking the rules goes against established safety protocol.  You don't work at a nuclear power plant and fall asleep at the panel of buttons, switches, and gauges that measure and adjust how much of the radioactive rods remain covered by cooling system water.  A couple of errant winks and it's melt-down USA.  Safety hazards do exist in the clinical laboratory.  Not as serious of repercussions as letting uranium fuel rods overheat but none the less, the hazards are real and in your face.  Bio-hazards, slips n' falls, chemical splashes, needle sticks, lacerations, dangerous inhalants, the list can go on and on. If you know where the hazards are, know how to identify them, how to safely handle them, contain them, avoid them, the clinical laboratory can be a safe place to work. 

All the safety practices employed in clinical laboratories across the globe are a culmination of trial n' error, scientific intuition, and of course common sense; "all enforced" by CAP, OSHA, and JCAHO to name a few governing agencies.  For some unknown reason as some will say ( I just call it stupidity), some folks will just not obey established safety rules.  The use of goggles to prevent the splash of liquids, to donning gloves when handling specimens, not re-capping needles, to tagging yourself with a radio-active badge when working with radio-nuclides,  and of course my personal favorite; using protective equipment when working with dangerous materials such as liquid nitrogen.  Some people will just flagrantly ignore danger in spite of great risk.  I just get a kick out of these celebrity chefs on TV who toss around liquid nitrogen like it was cheap wine.  Ever touch a block of dry ice?  Liquid nitrogen is much, much colder; 2.5 times colder.  Anyway, back to my point...which is [here we go with another Mayorgaism] "do yourself what you want your staff to do and respect you for, not what you want to do then exhaust yourself bullying and beating rules into your staff."  Human behavior is very complicated.  People do things for many reasons, bad reasons, evil reasons.  If your a manager employing dastardly tactics to coerce your staff you are probably a bully at heart.  Let's face it.  If you are spending all your time beating staff up - something is terribly wrong.  A small percentage of staff deserve to be fired for bad behavior.  If you have 20%-40% or as high as 75% of your staff on written improvement programs, write ups, or your using every available HR policy to "Guide Behavior" it is not your staff who are the idiots - IT IS YOU!

One hard, globally established, safety rule in laboratories is No open toed shoes - Ever.  I have had many the occurrence to escort non-lab staff or visitors out of the lab space because of open toed shoes.  When making appointments for  interviewing job applicants in the lab space I would instruct the applicant to not wear open toed shoes.  You just don;t do it.  Just think if you will, not even critical thinking...What comes to your mind if the top manager of the laboratory strolls through the lab on a busy Thursday morning wearing blue jeans and brown leather beach sandals. Definitely pushing the limits of casual Friday.  Many heads turned toward this spectacle, the  staff ridicule continued amongst for several days.  The idiot thought it was cool.  But was it?  You see when you are busy half your day writing people up for non-sense, your time is wasted on constructing fabrication to punish people out of negligence, your meetings with HR are solely to strategize how far you can go without causing a huge financial lawsuit; you just might be a bully.  These were some of the shenanigans going on that finally gave me a whiff of that horrid coffee and gave me the reason to exit this death camp; stage left.

Remember, following safety rules in the lab is not only smart but is a great sign of respect for your fellow employees.  Like it or not the perception is that if you don't care about the safety rules for yourself - you sure as hell don't care about anyone Else's safety either.  If you are a manger, well respected, followed, admired then you are leading by example including the safety aspect of the job as well.

Good day my friends. Be well.  Manage smartly.  Don't be an idiot.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Medical Science in the Morgue

When I say the word "Morgue" what does that word conjure up in your mind?  Gruesome places, dead bodies laying around, last nights evening news shooting victim, body parts, blood, fluids, stainless steel implements?  Maybe and sadly worse for those who have ever had to go to such a place to make an identification of a loved one this story  may be most disturbing to you.  For me, the Morgue was a work place.  Yes it is gruesome.  It is messy.  It is necessary at times to find out why exactly someone passes on.  In morgue terms it is called expiration and the patient has expired.
 I studied anatomy and physiology in college, parasitology, bio-chemistry, and all the clinical lab sciences.  Nothing could prepare me for what I experienced in the morgue.  Not even the frog, pig or feline dissection we had in A&P.

I was hired as a lab aide straight out of school.  Sporting an A.A.S. Degree in Medical Laboratory Technology I was ready to hit the lab bench.  When I was told part of my duties was to assist the Lab Pathologist with his or her autopsies, my jaw almost hit that bench.  I was scared.  I was intrigued.

During my career, I have assisted a Pathologist with probably about 10 Autopsies.  I was working for the State of New York Department of Mental Health at the time.  I was a Lab Aide at Central Islip Psychiatric Center.  I was part time because I was also attending LIU/C.W. Post to advance my studies and degree.  Arriving to work in the morning I never knew what to expect.  There was an autopsy schedule but the patients were not on it obviously, the Pathologist who was going to cover the procedure for the day was scheduled on it.  Me and my co-hort/co-worker were the assistants. 
There were many a day I just hoped there was not a pending autopsy to be done.  But, it was necessary, and we all took turns covering the need.  Although, the lab manager did pitch in sometimes, the lab aides were the chief helpers.  I got to help a lot almost 1 per month.  With thousands of patients in the mental health facility, many of them elderly, there was quite a great amount of activity in the morgue.

The morgue was bright but not cheery.  A wall of refrigerator, 12 hatch doors, all hiding a slide out metal tray the could hold the heftiest of deceased patient.  Opposite the wall was a wall of windows that would let in natural sunlight into the storage and morgue table area.  The table was stainless steel, typical of what you would see on TV police drama shows.  At the end of the table was a stainless steel sink with hoses that can be used to rinse "things" and the table.  Above the table was a scale used to weigh "things".  At the other end of the table was a cutting board, used to cut "things".  In a storage cabinet was the nastiest, most gruesome looking, horrific sounding device I ever had my hands on.  "The bone saw" was just a nasty device used to cut through bones like the sternum, spinal column, and skull.  That saw screamed and whined at such a loud sharp pitch it was frightening just to hold the  darn thing.  Fortunately, for me, I never had to use it during an autopsy.  My duties were assistant and as such I did mostly clean up, wrap up, moving, weighing, measuring, and observing everything.  The end of my duties for the day were to get everything back in order so the funeral director could remove the body without all the "stuff" falling, pouring, oozing out all over the place.
I would not call it fine stitching, but stitching skin flaps back together with a big bag of organs stuffed back into the body cavity? that was my specialty.

There were several autopsies that stand out in my mind.  One had serious injury involved.  One had a querky Pathologist with ensuing antics around the table.  Two I found astonishing.  The Pathologist was telling during an autopsy that some of these mental patients will eat anything.  Glass, nails, thumb-tacks, bugs, pencils, anything they can get down their throat winds up in their stomachs.  This particular gentleman that we had in the autopsy room was quite hungry it seems.  When the doc opened up the stomach, low and behold there was a treasure of oddity to behold.  Coins, metal pieces form window locks, keys, and a short pencil.  Astonishing it was to see what this fellow ate and was stuck in the stomach.  At another time, an autopsy of a female patient was rather old...The pathologist told me of older times when patients would undergo the labotomy procedure or frontal lobe labotomy.  He told me these were gruesome procedures done under local anesthetic whereby a drill was used to drill a hole through the skull at strategic locations so that a surgeon could cut and remove brain tissue in hopes of improving the condition of the patient.  This poor female patient had three holes drilled through her skull.  Two were in close proximity at the upper-front part of the skull, but there was another larger hole in the skull almost at the back of the head.  It is terrible to think of what these patients must have gone through and endured in hopes of improving their condition in mental facilities all across the globe.  This patient also had sizable and obvious brain tissue deficit.

In today's world, many people need treatment but are afraid of the stigma of "Mental Health Condition" or these people are some of the homeless wandering the streets.  Years ago some people were held against their own will, formally committed to institutions of mental health.  I worked at two of those types of facilities early in my career.  These were dark, dreary, spooky institutional places.  But the staff were loving, caring individuals, highly trained to take care of those that could not take care of themselves.  We have more homeless today because a vast amount of these folks on the street really would qualify and should be taken care of in institutions.  Yes these facilities were not the greatest of places to stay and may atrocities were uncovered by media folks like Heraldo Rivera back in the 70's.  But we can do a better job in 2013.  We can better the care for those who cannot care for themselves now than rather than 30-40 years ago.  Unfortunately, these days it is all about the almighty dollar.  Trillions of American dollars are spent each year to support unworthy causes in far reaching terrorist laden lands; lest we overlook our own desperate needs  on our streets, in our shelters, and under roadway overpasses.

Be good to yourselves, take care of each other. It is rough out there.
My wife chided me for putting a picture of a young woman on my Pinterest boards and this particular female was sporting a trophy for the Worlds Largest Breasts; Guinness World Records.  I told my wife this lady represents the only thing that is good and wholesome in this dreary world we live in.

Be kind to those on the street.

Good day my friends.

Red Tricycle Introduction Event in Atlanta

What a wonderful event! - I attended the Red Tricycle Grand Introduction to Atlanta Georgia on Wednesday evening 5/15/2013. Hosted by The Seed Factory children's store, the evening was great, the hosts were gracious, the food and beverages were spot on, and the the Mommy Bloggers who attended were just beautiful bright eyed ladies. Everyone had a wonderful time. All walked away with a very generous goody bag full of sponsored items like: Zevia, Kind Bars, The Melting Pot, Nature Box,Something Different, Ideals Publications, Zico, Purminerals, BURGERFI, Aloette, Colour Gossip, GAME-X, and Red Tricycle. Thanks again to Red Tricycle for the invite;(Leslie Loves Veggies) to this event.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Behold The De-Bubbler

Follow my blog with Bloglovin Necessity is the mother of invention say those who develop ideas into real solutions solving the problems in our day to day lives.  From the pencil eraser to the toaster we use invented items everyday. Mr. Ron Popeil has made millions with his inventions hawked on TV for decades.  Can you imagine, 20 years ago the latest rage was the spray can of GLH you could spray on your head to hide bald spots?  WTF!  and who can forget the Pocket Fisherman!  I have an old family proverb for you ~ The Mayorga men lose their hair; the Mayorga women lose their minds.  Well, I don't think black shoe polish on my head will be flattering. Anyway~

In my line of heavily regulated work which is under constant supervision and scrutiny of governing bodies such as OSHA, CAP, NCCLS, ASCP, FDA, etc., there is rare opportunity for a general lab person like myself to invent anything usable at the lab bench.  But, if you work in a Laboratory analyzing hundreds of urine specimens and bubbles at the meniscus are a problem; like this was to me...then you need the De-Bubbler. This device doesn't slice or dice, it doesn't burn toast or cut through tin cans like a hot knife through butter.  It won't even link your facebook fan page to your blog.  But, it will remove those pesky bubbles floating on top of urine samples.

Why the De-Bubbler came about?
Some urine analyzers in clinical laboratories are sensitive to formed bubbles on top of or at the meniscus of the urine sample.  The instrument I was managing at the time was the Bayer-Siemans Clinitek Atlas which is a major workhorse of high production rapid urinalysis testing.  The De-Bubbler is also well suited for the Sysmex UF-100 Urine Sediment Analyzer as well.  These two instruments have an aspiration pipette dipping down into the specimen to aspirate urine which will be tested for various analytes to show urinary/kidney function.  When the pipette encounters bubbles, the level sensor detects the bubble and stops the pipette from lowering further into the specimen; aspiration then sucks up air instead of sample for testing.  This can result in an aspiration error, partial results for the test panel, or a failed test; all requiring repeat testing, wasted reagent, and wasted technologist time.  Removing the bubbles from the specimen is the only way to prepare the urine sample for efficient testing yielding accurate reliable results. The process used to remove the bubbles involved plastic disposable transfer pipettes; one pipette per specimen done by hand.  The Techs used 600-1000 transfer pipettes per day.  That was a great amount of waste and time consuming activity.

With the De-Bubbler, you can efficiently, rapidly, and precisely remove pesky bubbles from urine samples before you test.  With some materials commonly found in a clinical laboratory and a few purchased items - you too can build yourself a De-Bubbler.  And, if you act now, you can build two De-Bubblers to meet the needs of your lab. Wait! There's more.  If you tell 5 co-workers about this device...Alright, enough of that jazz.

You want a De-Bubbler?  Here is what you need and how to run/maintain it.


2-large glass erlenmeyer flasks (2000 mL size) one with perpendicular side arm nipple/one without
1- rubber stopper; with two holes for tubing, must fit snuggly in mouth of the flasks
1- rubber stopper; with one hole for tubing, must fit snuggly in mouth of the flasks
(Can also be done with 2- regular flasks and 2 - two hole stoppers)
3 - 5 mL plastic serological pipettes (disposable kind)
6-8 ft. rubber tubing with inside diameter big enough to fit snuggly on 5 mL pipette and the flask nipple
1- vacuum pump capable of reaching at least 25 inches of vacuum aspiration (preferably with adjustable vacuum).
Any brand 1000 ul. size pipette tip (MLA type works); must fit snuggly on end of rubber tubing
1- wire coat hanger
Regular pliers
cutting blade/utility knife
Some oil type lubricant; makes the 5 mL. pipette insertion into stoppers easier
Cloth reinforced work or garden gloves

The above is the material list I used for constructing a De-Bubbler device.  In the laboratory I worked at, I had most items already available in storerooms and around lab benches except for the rubber stoppers which I ordered from a scientific lab supply company.

Constructing your De-Bubbler:
1. Don the garden gloves while pushing the 5 mL. disposable pipettes through the rubber stoppers.  Place a small amount of lubricant to ease the insertion into the rubber stoppers.  Be Careful! whether using plastic or glass pipettes, shattering can cause laceration or other injury.
Place stoppers in each flask.  Flask#2 will have two 5 mL. pipettes, one sitting lower then the other.
Attach rubber tubing to the side arm nipple of flask #1.  Cut length about 2 ft long or so depending on how much rubber tubing you have.  Size appropriately to side arm and inlet on the vacuum pump.
Attach tubing to one of the 5 mL pipettes in 2nd stopper.  Cut length of tubing just long enough to connect flask #1 to flask #2.  Connect free end of this tubing to 5 mL pipette on flask #1.
Attach another length of rubber tubing to 2nd 5 mL pipette in flask #2.  This should be cut to length no more than 3 - 4 ft long.  Insert free end of tubing into a plastic 1000 uL size pipette tip.

Your device should look like this when you are complete...


During operation of the De-Bubbler, tubing with the pipette tip is used to swirl at the meniscus of the urine sample.  Bubbles will be quickly aspirated from the specimen.   Fluid will aspirate up the tubing which will collect into flask#2.  If the flow is slow and back-flow or gurgling occurs, increase the vacuum regulator on the vacuum pump.  Normal operation will be maintained at 20-25 " vacuum. Fluid will collect in flask#2 but should not collect in flask#1.  Flask#2 should be emptied before fluid level reaches pipette connecting with tubing to flask#1.  The 5 mL pipette connected to the rubber tubing with aspirator pipette tip should sit lower in the flask than the pipette connecting via tubing to flask#1.  As an added safety to protect the vacuum pump a disposable air filter can be placed on the tubing connecting flask#1 to the vacuum pump just before the pump inlet.  That is it.

Validation work done with this device design concluded that no specimen to specimen contamination was present for any measured analytes tested in a standard urinalysis bio-chemical panel and microscopic or flow-cytometrical analysis.

A word about safety and contamination: This device is designed to collect urine bubble fluid and urine which will collect in flask#2.  As such this creates a bio-hazard risk and any handling of the components should be done by trained clinical laboratory professionals wearing appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) including latex or vinyl gloves, lab coat, and eye protection; at a minimum.  Some components are glass and care should be used when handling and cleaning all the glass components to prevent injury, laceration from broken glass, and bio-hazard exposure.  Any chipped, cracked, or stressed glass or plastic components should be replaced with new perfect condition parts.  As always, follow good laboratory practices and assume all specimens have the potential to transmit disease including Hepatitis and HIV.
As a precautionary measure, a small amount of bleach (40-50 mL.) can be added to flask#2 after emptying collected urine and cleaning.  General laboratory grade glassware cleanser can be used to soak components for thorough cleaning maintenance.

There you have it lab folks.  The De-Bubbler.  Behold, use it, save money with it, and for goodness sake save the planet already.  I may be losing my hair, [not intent on spraying shoe polish on my head  though], but my wife is losing her mind - over me and my antics.

Good day my friends.  Ssssslurp!






Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Don't Touch That Bottle

Health care is a glamorous profession (in my own mind) as there is electronic technology, emotion, tragedy, defeat, and countless victories.  In my profession, Clinical Laboratory Science, there is a great amount of technology, computers, servers, switches, interfaces, and the really cool stuff like microscopes, stainers, automation...I could go on and on.  It is glamorous in my own mind but usually not anyone else that I know outside of the laboratory.  Rarely, does the job get dangerous.  But it is science.  In the field of sciences things can get a bit risky.  I have had patients try to bite me when drawing blood.  I have had patients faint, get ill, and even have heart attacks just after phlebotomy procedures.  Maybe it was my devastating looks?  Nah! but it couldn't have been my technique...could it?  Anyway.

I have never lost my composure on the job except for almost once.  I have been interrogated, lied to, falsely accused of taking too long of a lunch break, stripped of bonuses, etc.  However, I did almost lose it way back in 1981..  Let's see - I remember it well.

While in college for my A.A.S MLT degree there was one day I could not go to a Chemistry class.  No one went to their classes that day at Lupton Hall.  The building was evacuated as the Suffolk (New York) County Bomb Squad was dispatched to remove some chemicals from a store room that were "unstable".
After graduating, I was lucky enough to get hired at the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in Brentwood, New York as a lab aid for that summer before the start of fall classes at C.W.Post LIU.  It was late summer, a very hot day indeed.  I was assigned to work in the chemistry lab that week.  I was setting up assays for blood phosphorus levels to be analyzed by spectrophotometry.  I went into the storeroom down the hall from the chemistry lab to look for some kim-wipes and I was startled by what I also found on one of the shelves.  Inquisitive, I always was and still am, I found a crusty very old brown glass bottle with a paper label on it.  On the label were the words "PICRIC ACID".  Now, picric acid was and still is a common test reagent for creatinine testing in blood and urine. This was not a full bottle of acid though.  There were crystals in the drying liquid on the bottom of this glass vessel.  I was shocked, I was startled.  I was frightened.

Back in school, the bomb squad was called in to remove such a bottle of crystallized picric acid from a Lupton Hall storeroom. The bottle was disposed of, nobody got hurt, nothing damaged.  But, that was not the first time a bottle of picric acid caused trouble.  I had heard years back before I attended that school, a jar of such highly unstable substance did cause quite a racket with lots of heat, deformation, and noise.

Being a new graduate MLT working as a lowly lab-aide, I did the first thing that came to mind.  Go run and tell the supervisor; so I did.  I did not waste any time. "Freda" was the chemistry supervisor, very capable, bright, smart, and a very hard worker.  She was one of my first mentors in the lab business.  "Freda" I said, "You've got an old bottle of picric acid in the storeroom!"   She said "I do?" Ok... "Yea but it has crystals on the bottom of the jar"  I lamented.  She put down her pipette she was using to dispense chemicals with and said "Show Me".  I took her into the storeroom and pointed out the offending "terrorist" on the shelf.  She reached for the bottle and I said "Wait - Don't touch that bottle, not until I leave the building at least".  She asked me to leave the room; and so I went back down to my lab bench, to my phosphorus assays, and spectrophotometer. Hey! it was a Bausch & Lomb with a gauge needle instead of the easy to read LED model.  A few seconds later I hear footsteps shuffling into the chemistry lab, I turn around and what do I see... "Frigen Freda" with that bottle of unstable, potentially explosive, highly dangerous picric acid in her hands.  I ducked behind the sturdy steel and granite topped lab bench.  I just couldn't help but peak at what she did next.  She gingerly opened and removed the cap of the picric acid bottle, grabbed a bottle of what I think was hydrochloric acid, and slowly dribbled the HCL down the inside of the picric acid bottle.  After adding about 40-50 mL of HCL she slowly rolled the picric acid bottle to bring the crystals back into solution.  Then she dumped the contents of the picric acid bottle down the sink with copious amounts of water.  After that episode, I told "Freda" she should apply for the POLICE bomb squad.  She laughed and said "They don't pay enough for that job".

Back to my phosphorus testing, I completed my standard curve , QC, and patient samples.  Just another day at the lab I thought only months into my first Lab job at the infancy of my laboratory career.  Luckily my shift was only 4 hours, I could not wait to get out of there that day.

Turns out, the picric acid was scary, but not as scary as some of the psychotics I would encounter in the rest of my 30+ years in laboratory business.

Good day my friends -
Thanks for reading.

If you are bored, make an appointment at your local hospital for a tour of the laboratories.  Us Clinical Laboratory Scientists love to show off out gadgets and toys in the lab.  I promise -  No unstable picric acid though.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Musical No-Chairs

In ones life there are always several defining moments that stand out vividly etched in the mind, easily grasped from within the memory, each time conjuring up emotion and despair.  Luckily, these moments are few and far between.  It (SHIT) happens to us, these are the things people say "If it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger".  Emotional distress, bullying, harassment, coercion are real issues in any workplace.  I have had many curtain calls to this arena of deceit and humiliation.  If you have not been subjected to any of this you are either oblivious, brain dead, you are the perpetrator, you are sleeping with the perpetrator or luckily you are very fortunate not to be in this precarious position.  This dastardly behavior is usually symptomatic of dysfunction, anger, or worse yet delirium; driving the acts against others which are perpetrated by one in a superior position upon others who are at a disadvantaged subordinate position.  We allow ourselves to be subjected to a limited amount of abuse for several reasons; chiefly "I need the job",  or "this will pass with time and things will get better", and then there is always; "this jerk abusing me will not last long", and then a few of us just like to play the victim and proclaim such for sympathy.  The latter often feeds into the situation by portraying a stance of I am weak therefore have at it and let me take all that is coming to me and more..."Thank you Sir and may I have another!"

The atrocities in the workplace are just getting worse by the day.  Basically, if you are working, you need that job because the very idea of public assistance, food stamps, EBT Cards, unemployment benefits is even more frightening that putting up with the workplace abuse.  Employers know this and no one knows this more like the back of their dirty hand and plays a dirty deck of cards like middle-management.  These folks are just in the right place at the right time now.  These are desperate times and more employers and middle-managers are exploiting employees because they know they can and will get away with it.  Some employees just feel helpless, say nothing, continue on and pray for a paycheck every week because that is what they need to sustain there family.  Other victims fight back.  They may fight back a little too hard...then people start getting shot, disappear mysteriously, poisoned, and other forms of retribution which is always categorized in the media as "Goin' Postal".

Unfortunately, these are some of the moments that stick in our minds, make up our work character going forward, we adjust our behavior, and take a cynical state of mind where no one is trusted - we trust no one - paranoia.  It was not too long ago I had to rid myself of such paranoia, distress, abuse, and just remove myself from a bad situation getting worse by the week; all at the hands of people who thought they had power over me enough so to coerce and stifle me into submission.  They were wrong, terribly wrong.  In the end, the separation was best for me; the immediate relief it gave me from the abuse was liberating. Another door opened at the right time and my career advanced positively.  The chance came along at the right time and with the right employer.  The escape I made from this death camp was never more urgent, the opportunity before me was never so great.  Post exit legal action taken against me was a last desperate act to discredit me after separation; the legal action was baseless and ultimately hurt the instigator. I am happy to say my current position is one of stability, security, professionalism, team spirit, and trust. The rewards are great.  The management are not psychopathic, no one gets hurt and everyone goes home at the end of the shift with all their limbs attached.

I say "Musical-No Chairs" is the title of this life experience because that childhood game we played at birthday parties was morphed into a sinister, devious act of distress, coercion, dastardly humiliation, and embarrassment.  The worst staff meeting I ever attended had several elements I soon will not forget.  The circumstance, the table with no chairs, the principle in power bringing one chair for a devious self, the irritation and abuse, the fatigue both mental inflicted and physical I felt by having to stand for several hours without a chair to sit in while being berated and barraged by insults.  Worse yet, this was not a one on one session of manger with employee; this was Genghis Khan inflicting himself on his subjects.  At the time it was happening, we all felt that we where adults, we were strong, it will not kill us to stand for several hours in front of the idiot.  But after the drama ended there were no awards for best supporting actor, humiliation set in, then anger, and great distrust of upper management in lofty places above this scourged group.  Why we were invited into an empty conference room several years ago to be abused is not as important as realizing what it was - straight up intimidation, coercion, and humiliation.

This circumstance came about after a few days of back and forth comments via email and yes we were guilty of losing ten points for stating the obvious about a workplace issue. Four victims were called into an empty conference room down the corridor from the main lab at this immense facility.  If  this death camp was not rough enough with thousands of specimens received each day all needing analysis to be completed by end of day, QC 1 SD of 0.2 on some assays, there was also an element of abuse to contend with from this upper manager.  As a lower manager at this facility, me and my cohorts were basically human shields between the techs and the staff who were in charge of global projects; folks who would ruthlessly throw any one and all except themselves under the bus on any given day.  These folks were the cause of many issues that plagued and disseminated into the lab work, making the daily work harder than it had to be and sometimes pushing the limits of good practices.

It was an email that passed amongst the small group of us in which the only mistake was inviting the upper manager into the discussion.  That was the trigger that gave this individual the lofty idea that an opportunity was at hand - the opportunity in his mind should not be wasted.  Late in the afternoon the invite came through Outlook for the "meeting" to commence in a few minutes.  Showing up on time to the empty conference room the four us were scratching our heads wondering who took all the chairs out of the conference room and for what purpose they, he or she did that? Several minutes later the principle walked in lugging own chair in hand and promptly sat down.

This upper manager commenced in a savage delivery of ugly adjectives, foul language (nothing new for this dastardly person), and insults in a diatribe that would have made Patton blush in front of his troops.  Gleeful as this person was in this self aggrandizing meeting paled to the overall terrible flavor of the dish handed out to the ones standing front and center.  Post meeting, I never felt such humiliation  in my life.  That was before I arrived home and told my loving wife about how my day went when she asked me that evening. She was angry and hurt for me.  As for what to do next, there were not many options.  Upper Lab Management and Principle Human Resources staff  were colluding together for more than a year.  Staff were brutalized with no avenue to turn down to stop the abuse.  Those who did venture to speak up were brutally beat down like a pop-up mole in the arcade game "Whack-A-Mole".  There were employees that arrived to work in the morning, sat in the car crying, and could not drag themselves into the death camp.  Regaining composure, they headed straight to their family physician to file for mental disability and got it.

The only option I had after 12 years of dutiful service was the quickest exit I could make.  I was not the first of this down-trodden group to "exit stage left".  I was not the last either.  After years of performance reviews  achieving scores of 4.4-4.7 out of 5.0, awards and accolades, nominations for the Presidents Award, annual bonuses in the range of $3,500 - $5,200, I was suddenly brutalized with laser guided bomb precision by upper management, Human Resources and Project Management until the day I tendered my resignation.  Turned out that that day was sobering and liberating at the same time.  I miss the employees I managed terribly, but I don't miss nor wish for that type of abuse again. Ever!

Good day my friends - Be good to each other.  Abusing subordinates is not becoming of a competent leader.

Note:  This employer cannot be identified.  Legal action taken against me by this organization post my exit was defended successfully by myself.  Any identification of this organization will probably bring new legal action from this bully.  I have no desire to defend against such baseless legal attacks nor would it bring any satisfaction to me to "Beat down this Lyon again".
The content in this post is 100% true and can be corroborated.  The content in all my posts is 100% truthful.
The Lyon has be maimed permanently by my responding legal defense.

Friday, May 3, 2013

What's Going On

The medical field is full of heart ache and tragedy.  If you work in a busy hospital or trauma center you will encounter the emotional distress of the  face to face interaction with grave illness, terminal sickness, trauma, and the like on a weekly basis.  Medical professionals all have a common core belief system; Provide the best health care possible no matter the local, circumstances, or situation at hand.

Even though, my time at St. Francis Hospital in Port Washington NY was short, it was a roller coaster of activity and emotion.  As my first professional employment as a certified Medical Technologist,
B.S.MT (ASCP), there were many acts of drama the helped to shape my professional character.  It was a winter night that I remember vividly.

A relatively young patient was admitted to the Heart Center and he was uncharacteristic from the norm for St. Francis.  Most patients were older 50+ with some sort of cardiac malady requiring open heart surgery by one of the accomplished thoracic surgeons.  This guy was different.  He was pushing mid-30's, thin, dark hair, and apparently sicker than his circumstance presented laying in a bed at a cardiac specialty hospital.  This poor slob not only had heart trouble but had viral trouble as well.  He was admitted in the afternoon and kind of was just there waiting around but in a bed.  I was called in early during the mid-evening shift to help out for some short staffing. My first duty upon arriving to the lab was to draw this man's blood to prepare transfusion cross-match testing.  He was destined for the knife the next day.

Arriving at his room, I had no idea what to expect from this unlikely candidate.  After introduction of who I was and my purpose, he laid out the ground rules.  He told me I must wear gloves to draw his blood.  I replied that I always do and it is required for all patients.  He then pulled up the half sleeve of his hospital gown to show me the marks on his arm; track marks.  He said, "I am HIV positive and who knows what else I have - You need to be careful!"  During the phlebotomy, he told me his brief story of drug abuse and how it has now ruined his heart valves.  His surgery for the next morning was to replace his heart valves.  I said good night and assured him he was in good hands with the best surgeons around anywhere.  He smiled and said good night.  Back in the lab I set up his bloodbank testing; 8 units of whole blood.

The next night I was scheduled for night shift, arriving just prior to 11 PM at the hospital.  It was a crisp cold New York night with a slight breeze.  Pulling into the parking lot in front of the hospital I saw a familiar sight; the helipad lights were on meaning eminent arrival or I just missed a departure of a medivac chopper.  I parked and walked toward the building.  In the distance I could hear the whisper of an arriving chopper coming closer so I stood my ground to watch the arrival.  Descending quickly out of the dark sky was not the normal medivac chopper - it was a Nassau County Police chopper circling overhead once then diving in for a very quick touchdown.  Emerging from the cockpit was a pilot dressed in all black helmet to toe.  Quickly, rushing around the front of the chopper he opened the side door of the cab and pulled a white box with the all familiar red cross icon.  A blood shipment?  At 11 PM?  Transported by Police Chopper?  Something big was going down.  As quick as he entered the building the pilot returned to his running chopper blades a spinning, Jet-A fumes and all.  Within seconds the chopper was leaving the ground and headed into the darkness.  I knew then my night was going to be bad...even without the starting helipad drama this was going to be a solo night working the shift by myself.

Arriving at the lab I quickly took report and learned what was so big a deal this evening.  The patient who was the drug abuser had his surgery that afternoon and his condition was not good.  All 8 units I set up the night before were transfused, 6 more were set up during day shift of which he was given 4; two were left on the shelf.  The Police chopper just brought an additional 8 units of his blood type which was all that Long Island Blood Services would relinquish to St Francis for the day.  Drama was thick in the lab, lots of blood work for this patient and other patients who were post-op that day.  The drama was interrupted by the bloodbank phone ringing.  It was the BB supervisor.  He wanted report about what the chopper brought in and what was requested by the surgeon.  I said 8 received from the police chopper, 10 ordered by surgeon, 2 units still on shelf.  The supervisor told me set up all 8 - hopefully they will not need them.  He said I'll be in early before 6 AM.

It was not long into the shift when an ICU nurse arrived at the lab in hurried fashion requesting the two units on the shelf.  I had already started the cross-match process for 4 of the 8 units just delivered.  She said the patient is not doing well, he is bleeding, we need FFP and CRYO, and when can more units be ready?  I said you can have anything you want right now -  uncross-matched; just complete the form.  She said they are not ready for that yet - but hurry Please!  I started the cross-match on the additional last 4 units.  Now I had two sets of 4 units in various stages of the cross-match testing.  Just prior to the AHG phase spin what happened next I will never forget.  A small radio in the blood bank started playing Marvin Gay, "Whats Going On".  Just about 1 minute 40 seconds into that 4 minute song the ICU nurse returned to BloodBank.  There I was sitting in front of 8 whole blood units almost ready to sign them out for her.  She was not hurried, she was calm, she was distressed.  She came in and said "relax - he did not make it".  That is all she said.  She turned and walked away.  I sat stunned for a minute.  I looked at the scenery.  The lab, the bench full of whole blood units, the centrifuge spinning, the freezer full of FFP and CRYO, the two blood washers standing at attention against the wall.  That was it.  The song was ending.  Now just quiet.  Apparently there was some sort of technical difficulty with the station the radio was tuned to because there was radio silence for a moment.  The patient expired, the drama was over.  I placed the units of whole blood back in the refrigerator.  I left the bench to get a cup of much needed coffee.

Over the brew, I thought...what is going on?  A man destroys his body with drugs, another man tries to sew him back together.  Humpty-Dumpty's men and women could not put this man back together as whole.  The end.  I drew this patients blood less than 36 hours previous.  He would soon be occupying the morgue just steps away from me now.  Fortunately, there was plenty of room "At The Inn" tonight.

Life is fragile.  Take care of all around you.  Take care of your pets. Take care of yourself.
Good day my friends.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One from Column A, Two from Column B

Not all my posts are going to be about dumb co-workers, dangerous antics, nor dastardly management horror stories. With over 30 + years working in Medical Laboratories there are plenty of good heart warming moments to share.  While this entry is neither heart warming nor that good for the soul, it does point out an important ritual that goes on every year in teaching hospitals across this great land.

What I am talking about is "New Resident Transition".  Every year new resident MD's start their training at teaching hospital facilities and wind up spending the next 3-4 years advancing their studies in the hands on clinical setting.  Most common time of year for this activity is the mid summer, July or so.  For University Hospital at StonyBrook New York, the tradition was a coming of change every year for basically the whole facility.  Come July, new residents would start all over the place in various disciplines of health care.  It made for an exciting time, a chance to meet with and work with them in a professional capacity, and also a chance to "Show them the ropes".  Working in the Dept. of Pathology, Clinical Laboratories, Hematology section, I had great opportunity to guide some of these individuals through the clinical lab.

After, the anticipation of late June musings about "New Residents" starting soon, there would be a calm before the storm period. These new folks really did not get introduced to the lab until mid-late July or early August for more timid of the resident kind.  Learning how to order tests was almost as challenging for some of them to figure out as what tests they needed to order.  Back in 1985, the PC was mostly a dream device seen in techy-science magazines much like someone would gaze at the pages of Car and Driver seeing the latest Ferrari or Lamborghini.  PC's were rare back then and very expensive.  It was not until the early-1990's that my brilliant Father in Law; Mr. Robert North told all us young adults "Computers will be the big thing in the near future".  He told us we would be able to shop for groceries via computer, pay for the groceries with a credit card via the computer, pay bills also, and have the groceries delivered to the door.  He was right and I have done all that and pay my bills on line; with my wife's help of course! We were so Techy-naieve back then.  But, back to the residents...Sometimes, there were over achieving Docs who would just order tests, numerous tests, and more tests just for the sake of being able to do so.  We would call that shotgun testing.  They did not know what was wrong with you so the Doctor would order a whole slew of tests hoping to find some abnormalities.  Other Docs were more level headed and really tried to control themselves after they got a smakdown from the hospital administration.  Working in Hematology I had direct access to the "New Hematologists" every year.  Hematologists, were special folks to us in the hematology lab.  All who could gather around would often do so to discuss cases, healthcare in general, discuss testing strategies, and review blood smears on a multi-headed microscope.  As a Lab Tech, being able to sit one on one with the Doctors at the microscope and discuss blood smears  was a wonderful experience. I will treasure those experiences the rest of my life.  Yes, we had some good times around the microscope!  Not to far off a year or two later Dr. C...pulled something out of his pocket while sitting at the microscope...oh that's for another story; I am getting ahead of myself.

Anyway, one evening; that is the shift I primarily worked at University Hospital (UH) (The Mecca -  as affectionately called by the lab folks) we had the pleasure of meeting the new Hematologist.  He was friendly and all but his ulterior motive was not to be social.  He had to order some tests on his assigned patients and he did not know how to do that.  So Dr. A... strolls into the lab that evening, introduces himself to us staff members and proceeds to shoot the breeze.  After a few minutes of niceties, he gets down to business.  "So" he says, "How does one order testing around here?"  "I have a patient upstairs that I need to do some testing on but I don't know what to do."  Well, being the helpful slobs that we were, we were more than happy to help him.  He signed onto the computer system.  Oh-wait let me explain...  Back then PC's were too expensive to own, but UH did have a"Main-Frame" IBM System for a Hospital Computer System.  There was a mysterious 14th floor of the hospital where the "Main-Frame" computer banks were housed and only a select few were lucky enough to even know what hallway to traverse to get to the computer room door.  It was so cloaked in secrecy if any of us lowly lab techs ever found the computer room we would have been shot on site.  Anyway, Dr. A... signed onto the "Main-Frame" with his ID.  Next he found his assigned patient and pulled up the medical file - we call that EMR & PHI now which stands for Electronic Medical Record & Protected Health Information.  Then we guided him to the ordering screen which was categorized by discipline such as Hematology, Serology, Flow Cytometry, Toxicology, Urinalysis, etc. etc.  "Oh!" he said - "I can order anything on these lists by just clicking the light pen on the test name?"  You see back then, cir. 1980's the computer mouse was not invented yet but we were special.  We had "Light-Pens!" Hard wired stick like devices that when pointed and tapped on the green monochrome screen, the test name would highlight with a strikethrough.  The light pen would activate on that strikethrough and viola; test ordered.  Well after a couple of clicks with the light pen Dr. A... was clicking Sed Rate, Platelet count, Chem 7, CBCD, Fibrinogen.  He had ordered about 10 different tests and profiles, when my co-worker yelled "STOP"!  "Do you think this is a Chinese Menu...ordering one from column A, two from column B, and TEN from column C?"  Dr. A.. said "Oh just one more test".  Click and he was done.  Well we all had a laugh, he got a valuable lesson, and Dr. A... became a good friend of the evening shift for his tenure at the "Mecca".

Those were the days of residents, the dawning of computerization in health care, and the antics of providing health care for patients on evening shift.  Those were the days.
Good day my friends...


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