usbAnother Lesson Learned


I’ve learned many great lessons in life – usually from my mistakes. In fact, I always say I’ve learned more from my mistakes than from anything I ever got right.

This has frequently been the case when it comes to all-things-technology!

My most recent Grrr Moment came from a fried memory stick incident. For about a year, I’d been carrying around a memory stick containing all kinds of wonderful information – typically stuff I would need quick access to at different locations – whether I was working at home, in the office, or working casually at Starbucks. I had a variety of things on it – collections of ideas, interesting articles to read, copies of my old tax returns, writing ideas, partly-written articles for my blog…..things like that.

There was nothing sensitive that caused me any horrific consequences (like unfinished work, or projects that hadn’t been forwarded to clients – I save all current projects on my computer hard drive which is backed up on an external hard drive, as well as in The Cloud). But the memory stick was just my general Go-To Guy, containing a whole bunch of stuff that I was intending to transfer to my hard drive “at some point”.

Then it fried. I distinctly remember sitting at home using my laptop one morning. My memory stick was plugged in, and before my very eyes, the light on the memory stick suddenly went out, and it was no longer being recognized by the laptop.

I tried all kinds of home remedies to revive it, to no avail. Even my IT guru couldn’t resuscitate it. So I had to just accept its loss. Even though there was nothing critical on it, it contained stuff that was helpful to me, so I felt really mad with myself for not transferring everything. Especially as I’d literally spent the year telling myself repeatedly that I’d transfer it to my computer at some point!

Now I have a new Go-To memory stick, and I just transfer everything from it to my computer whenever I update it!

So, if you’re like me, and carrying a handy little memory stick around, learn from my mistake. In the words of the great sportswear company, Just Do It – don’t wait too long!

Did you know that April was “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month”?
Each year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) “urges supporters across the country to support our efforts and Go Orange for Animals in honor of the signing of the ASPCA’s charter in 1866.”

No other relationship has lasted as long as that between animals and people. It’s amazing to consider how this dates back to prehistoric times, and to consider how it has evolved from an era when people merely used animals to their own advantage – to provide food, labor, and clothing, for example – to one in which companion animals have become increasingly important in contemporary life. Now, we not only rely on animals for companionship, but also regard them as friends and family members. 

Yet, despite our increasing personal bond with animals, we seem to remain the cruelest of all animal species.

Animal Rights

The topic of animal rights continues to generate extremely diverse viewpoints among people. The mere thought of animal abuse is unfathomable to many, whilst others consider that “they are just animals”. Clearly a disconnect remains, and as many continue to feel that humans are the superior species, they don’t believe that animals deserve any moral consideration.

In 1866, the ASPCA was founded on the premise that “….persons who harmed animals would escalate their violent acts to include vulnerable humans” – interesting that the development of animal abuse legislation back in the 1800s related to concern for people, not animal welfare per se.

Do you have any idea how unprotected animals are, by law? The Animal Welfare Act is the only federal law that deals with animal protection, and it doesn’t even provide for rights for animals – and indeed farm animals and laboratory animals have even less protections than companion animals. Typically, animals are considered as “property” under the law, so in most cases of abuse, perpetrators tend to be punished less harshly than if they’d stolen someone’s expensive painting. Although there have been some pivotal cases reported recently, in which owners have been able to claim for emotional damages due to the loss of their pets. So maybe the legal landscape will slowly change in years to come.

The Link Between Animal Abuse and Interpersonal Violence

The connection between abuse of animals and humans is irrefutable. Some of the data that have emerged in recent decades from studies investigating the link, have been both revealing and chilling:

  • 70% of animal abusers also have other criminal records
  • People who abuse animals are 5 times more likely to commit violent crimes than       those who do not abuse animals
  • Domestic partner violence is the most common cause of nonfatal injury in the US
  • 36% of emergency room visits by women between 1992 and 1996 were related to domestic abuse
  • 60% of domestic violence cases also involve pet abuse
  • 48% of battered women don’t escape to protect pets or livestock
  • 74% of battered women seeking refuge at a shelter reported that their pet was killed
  • More than 80% of families being treated for child abuse involve animal abuse, and in       in a quarter of these cases, the victimized child may later go on to abuse their pets
  • 31% of teenagers in one survey in Chicago had been to a dog fight
  • Men who abuse pets are more dangerous than those who don’t, using more types of violence, such as emotional and sexual violence, marital rape, and stalking
  • Most serial killers start out by killing animals

Animal abuse is known to represent part of a triad of behaviors for predicting criminal behavior. And the link between cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence is so well established that many communities now cross-train social service, animal control, and law enforcement agencies in how to recognize signs of animal abuse as possible indicators of other abusive behaviors. And some state laws now even mandate that veterinarians notify police if they suspect animal abuse.

So it’s easy to see how animal welfare plays an integral role in the welfare of humans, demonstrating the need to prevent, and intervene early in, animal cruelty cases. The concept of “animal rights” therefore clearly has implications in areas of society other than animal welfare.

“Every veterinarian has an obligation to protect the health and welfare of animals. Therefore the AVMA considers it the responsibility of every veterinarian to report animal abuse to appropriate authorities even when such reporting is not mandated by law or local ordinance. Such reporting is for the benefit of the animals, but there are often implications for people as well.”

[Dr Ron DeHaven, CEO, American Veterinary Medical Association]


If you’re fortunate enough to have a day off today, it’s because of the sacrifices made by our military servicemembers. 

We have a beautiful Memorial Day tribute in Boston right now. For the 2nd year running, a garden of flags blankets the ground in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Flagstaff Hill on the Common. 33,000 flags are currently planted, in honor of Massachusetts’ servicemembers who’ve died in conflicts dating back to the Civil War.

Breathtaking, to say the least.

Be sure to thank a servicemember today.

This weekend I’ve been covering this year’s Annual Meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Boston. My specific assignment was to write news articles on endocrinology presentations there, but there was so much going on outside of the endocrine world!  

It’s been a busy couple of days, but I’ve just emerged from the tunnel! I didn’t get home until about 7pm and have just finished writing my final article, so it’s a good feeling to be able to sit down and relax for an hour or so before bed.

At least the weekend’s weather has been beautiful in Boston for the attendees. And for me, since I had to travel into the city to get to the Hynes Convention Center where the meeting was being held.


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Because I work in the city at MIT, yesterday I decided to park at work and take the train across the river to the convention center. That shouldn’t be too bad ordinarily – a 45 minute drive, followed by a 5-10 minute walk to the train station, and then change trains before arriving at the convention center.

But things started to go wrong when I arrived at the subway station and discovered that they were now operating a shuttle bus instead of a train, due to work on the lines.

The trip there went ok though, I was one of the first onto the bus, so I managed to get to the meeting without too much hassle.

But my return journey wasn’t so smooth! At the station where I had to change again to the shuttle bus, I emerged from the station to find at least 200 people in front of me, all awaiting the same bus! What a nightmare. Somehow it was only about 20 minutes before I managed to get onto a bus, but I was certainly glad that the weather was pleasant. And I was also glad that the Red Sox weren’t playing at Fenway Park – Boston would’ve been even more of a nightmare to cope with!

Today I knew I’d have to do something different, I really didn’t want to do battle trying to get on the shuttle bus home again. So I drove to a different subway station instead, and took a train on a different line. That all went a lot more smoothly, I’m pleased to report!


The Meeting

The meeting was mayhem yesterday. Only about 10 minutes after I arrived and settled into the Press Room to get myself organized for the day, alarms began sounding, and there were overhead messages advising everyone to evacuate the building.

Soon this was followed by messages that nobody was to evacuate, there was no problem. But the real problem then was that they couldn’t get the alarms to stop! So they continued to peep in the background for about an hour, interspersed with messages that there was still no need to evacuate!

As annoying as it was, it didn’t really impact me, I was just drinking coffee, eating a cookie, and reading some abstracts. But I can’t imagine how disruptive this was to the speakers who were trying to get through their presentations!

But all in all it was an enjoyable meeting. I caught some great presentations and posters, met some extremely nice people, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people in one building before! This was a huge meeting – over 8,000 attendees.

It was my first time covering PAS, and I have to say, I think this may be the largest meeting I’ve ever attended!


Well it finally happened!

I’d procrastinated enough, and eventually managed to make a decision on a business name so that I could purchase the domain and become self-hosted.

I think it’s at least functional here right now, although I’ll be slowly adapting the site more as time goes by, so bear with me!

I’m enjoying it so far though, and I like the new look.

Guess I’d better get my tech-goggles on in case I need to install widgets myself…….I’m shuddering at the very thought of it!



Image credit Ambro @FreeDigitalPhotos


It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of the second week in January already. How is it that time went by at a snail’s pace when I was a school kid, but these days I just blink and I’ve lost a couple of months!?

Well, it’s been a busy couple of weeks since I returned to work in the new year. I took the remainder of my vacation leave at the end of last year, so ended up with almost two weeks off. It was wonderful, especially as I enjoyed a fabulous trip to Yosemite National Park. Can’t wait to go back there!

So what else is new here?

  • Identity Crisis: Over the recent months, I’ve been trying to focus my mind (always difficult!) on my blog – specifically its name. When I first started out doing some freelancing, I had envisaged it being focused mostly on editing; however, it’s really morph’ed into more writing and less editing. So right now, since I’d like to buy a domain for this site (eventually, when I stop procrastinating!), I’m trying to come up with a new business name.  One that doesn’t completely focus on one aspect. Currently I’m pondering on “The Boston Microscope”. What do you think? The other option is just to use my own name…..
  • Blogging for Medical Writers: Last week I received an email from the Program Director of our local AMWA-New England Chapter. Our next regional meeting is coming up in mid-February, it’s a roundtable session, where multiple medical writers host discussions on different topics at separate tables. I’ve been asked if I’d be willing to participate by hosting a session on blogging for medical writers. So I’m really excited about this opportunity! 


So that’s where I am right now…….otherwise, I’m just trying to keep my head above water at work, it’s a little crazy at the moment!

I hope the new year is getting off to a good start for you all.



Image credit jscreationzs @FreeDigitalPhotos

Happy New Year Everyone!

Here’s hoping 2012 is a prosperous one for you all.


Merry Christmas to You All!



I hope the holiday is a peaceful and festive one for all of you and your families.


I’ve been away from home for 10 days on a road trip of sorts. A 2,478 mile road trip to be exact, to Nashville and back. Last week I was attending the annual conference of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists there, and I’d been pondering ahead of time about driving instead of flying.

I live in Massachusetts, so it’s not a quick drive, but I thought it might be a great chance to see some places en-route that I’d not seen before. And I know it’s not for everyone, but I really love driving. I could quite enjoy being a trucker, I think! Just cruising long distances, listening to my in-car (or truck!) satellite radio……

Anyway, I’d kept an eye on the weather situation – it can be touch and go this time of year in New England, you just never know when the snow is going to make its appearance. And since we had that early snowfall at Halloween, it was anyone’s guess as to what might happen. I decided I could book a last minute flight if necessary, but it turned out that luck was on my side, and I had great weather on both ends of the journey.

The conference turned out to be very productive for a few reasons:

  • Great opportunities for continuing education: There were so many interesting sessions this year, and one in particular turned out great. It was a non-scientific session on the theme of entrepreneurship for veterinary pathologists. Once I get my act together and catch up at work, I’m hoping to piece together some of the major points covered in some of the sessions as a blog post here, because most of the points were applicable to anyone setting up a small business of their own. So some of you may find them share-worthy!
  • Committee meetings: I also had to attend the conference because I’m a member of the ACVP Examination Committee, and we meet up a few times at the annual conference. These were productive and useful sessions too, as we head toward the 2012 board certification exam. Amazing that we’ve only just finished up with the 2011 exam which was held late September, and now we’re preparing for the next one already.
  • Post-meeting workshop: There are always great continuing education workshops held both before and after the conference. This year I attended one on evaluation of bone marrow specimens, and it was great. An MD pathologist was an invited speaker for the sessions, and he gave some great insight into bone marrow cancers and other diseases in people. Plus he was a very articulate speaker in general, so was just very interesting to listen to.
  • Vendor Networking: We’ve been having problems at work with our diagnostic software – to the degree that we’re looking into getting a completely new system. Expensive! After a fair bit of networking with other pathologists, and doing some online research, I finally came up with a good referral. I’d contacted them before the conference and received a follow-up package by mail, and am awaiting an appointment with them. And as it happened, when I was at the conference, I discovered that they had a vendor booth in the exhibit hall. Their first time at our conference. So I was very lucky to be able to get a first hand demonstration of their software. The representatives were extremely helpful.
  • Socially: I really enjoyed catching up with my colleagues and friends, some of whom I really only get to see at this time of year at the conference. I was especially pleased to see a friend from Scotland who attended too – we haven’t seen each other since 2005, so it was lovely to spend some time with her. We managed to get to see some live music in Nashville on the first evening. I’m not much of a live music fan – mostly because when I go out with friends, I like to be able to chat to them, and I find that music obviously prevents this happening! But regardless, this may be the only time I ever visit Nashville, so seeing some live music was kind of a “bucket list” item. And I’m glad I did it, even if it kept me up until after midnight, leaving me over-tired the following morning.

So as is typical for most conferences, the days were long and exhausting!


And On Another Note…..Some Eco-Friendly Thoughts

I’m always conscious about being as “green” as possible, regardless of my whereabouts, but when I’m traveling, I do my best to pay some extra thoughts. Nine days in hotels reminded me of this:

  • Towels: You know how most hotels give you the option to be eco-friendly and not have your towels replaced every day if you either hang them on the rack, or display the relevant tag to alert the housekeeping staff to this? During this trip I was once again frustrated in our Nashville hotel because despite hanging my towel as requested, so it wouldn’t be replaced, I’d constantly find it gone when I returned to the room, only to be replaced by a fresh one.
  • Bathroom accessories: You know the wee travel-sized soaps, shampoos etc that hotels provide? I try to avoid using them at all costs. When I was in New Zealand in January, I discovered that the NZers are massively green, and most of their hotels offer pump-action dispensers of shampoo, soap etc, which I liked a lot. But anyway, when I travel, I take my own stuff with me so I don’t have to use up small containers of the hotel supplies. The only thing I don’t tend to take is soap, because I don’t use bars of soap at home. If I’m only at a hotel for a day or so, I avoid opening the small bars, and instead make do with using my shampoo as soap. And if I’m traveling for a long time, like in this trip, I’ll open a small bar at my first hotel and carry it with me for the remainder of the trip, wrapped in its original package.
  • Linens: I always opt for “no fresh linens” each day when I’m at a hotel for a few nights. Thankfully on this trip, they granted my wish, despite giving me fresh towels daily!

And is anybody as weird as I am? I consistently only ever use one trash can in the room! I tend to only use the one in the bathroom for all my trash. I always like to try and minimize the work that other people have to do in my wake, and I feel that keeping my rubbish confined to one place is a bit of a help here!

I know, I’m quirky!

Do you have any travel rituals?


Well after an exhausting few days last week trying to get enough work done to make up for the short working week (there’s no free vacation!), I enjoyed an equally exhausting Thanksgiving holiday – or more of a non-Thanksgiving since I spent it in Montreal!  So to start the week off lightly, I decided to share this poem that I came across via a friend of mine over the weekend.

It appealed to the editor in me, and I know it’ll give many of you a smile too! 

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.



The Spell Chequer

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a quay and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
It’s rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
It’s letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

Martha Snow



Image credit jdurham @morguefile