December 16, 2011

Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins in San Francisco Bay

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany by President of Germany Paul von Hindenburg

The Blaine Act ends Prohibition in the United States

The original film version of King Kong, starring Fay Wray, premieres at Radio City Music Hall and the RKO Roxy Theatre in New York City

The Great Depression: President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares a “bank holiday”, closing all United States banks and freezing all financial transactions (the ‘holiday’ ends on March 13)

The Reichstag passes the Enabling Act, making Adolf Hitler dictator of Germany

Mohandas Gandhi begins a 3-week hunger strike because of the mistreatment of the lower castes

The Nazi Party in Germany introduces a law to legalize eugenic sterilization

Gandhi is sentenced to prison in India

Air France begins operations with 250 planes

Albert Einstein arrives in the United States as a refugee from Nazi Germany; he accepts a position at Princeton University

New Deal: – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt unveils the Civil Works Administration, an organization designed to create jobs for more than 4 million of the unemployed

FM radio is patented

The US 21st Amendment officially goes into effect, alcohol becomes legal in the US

The first doughnut store under the Krispy Kreme name opens in Nashville, Tennessee

Turkey concludes a treaty with the creditors of the former Ottoman Empire to schedule the payments in Paris. (Turkey succeeds in clearing all the debt in less than twenty years.)

May 23Joan Collins, English actress is born

May 24 – Christina G L Lyons, later Campbell, my Grandmother, is born


Be a hummingbird

October 4, 2011

A poem

September 26, 2011

Assisi – Norman McCaig

The dwarf with his hands on backwards
sat, slumped like a half-filled sack
on tiny twisted legs from which
sawdust might run,
outside the three tiers of churches built
in honour of St Francis, brother
of the poor, talker with birds, over whom
he had the advantage
of not being dead yet.

A priest explained
how clever it was of Giotto
to make his frescoes tell stories
that would reveal to the illiterate the goodness
of God and the suffering
of His Son. I understood
the explanation and
the cleverness.

A rush of tourists, clucking contentedly,
fluttered after him as he scattered
the grain of the Word. It was they who had passed
the ruined temple outside, whose eyes
wept pus, whose back was higher
than his head, whose lopsided mouth
said Grazie in a voice as sweet
as a child’s when she speaks to her mother
or a bird’s when it spoke
to St Francis.

A Life as a Biomed

May 26, 2011

A Life as a Biomed

For those of you who don’t know, a biomed is a term for what we are known as within the industry. This is short for biomedical engineer. We are now referred to as, officially, clinical technologists. There are varying types of clinical technologists. Here, I am referring to clinical technologists that deal with medical equipment management within the NHS.

Over recent years, the typical day for a biomed has become rather busy. As the amount of equipment used within our various hospital wards and departments grows, so does our job to respond to enquiries for equipment to be repaired, or safety checks carried out for the correct performance of the equipment , or indeed just some help or advice when medical equipment is being used.

We work in all, and I mean all, areas of a typical large acute hospital. Areas where we tend to work mostly are the intensive care areas, theatre suites and accident and emergency departments. The more equipment there is in any one department, the greater the chance of some sort of equipment failure being reported. Usually a prompt and speedy response is expected in these sorts of areas, and is normally responded in that way.

I am responsible for the issues with medical equipment in the NICU, or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, in my hospital. Here, I get involved with setting up ventilators prior to use with the neonates. I also try and sort out problems as they arise; otherwise I end up swamped with things to be done. I also get involved with any training I have to give to other biomeds in relation to equipment used within NICU. As I am based in the maternity block, I am responsible for any issues in all the other maternity areas as well.

A typical day:

9am-  Start the day by checking what equipment has been left for me overnight in NICU. A ventilator is waiting for me as the nurse has had problems setting it up and passing the pre-use checks. We have had problems with a recent batch of ventilator circuits where they fail when we carry out a leak test on them. They do not leak, but the compliance, or stiffness, of the material of the circuits cause too much expansion. This creates too much of a pressure drop, even though it is very little, for the ventilator’s software and renders the test as failed. I pass it with my criteria as agreed with a senior clinical biomed and the senior nursing staff of the unit.

10.00- Tea break.

10.15- An anaesthetic machine has gone down in the hospital’s theatres. As I am also part of the repair team of biomeds, and I have been trained on these machines, I am sent to inspect the machine. The equipment does not pass all the self-tests required for use. I try resolving the problem and realize the problem is internal. As we have a maintenance contract with the manufacturer, I decide to download the error files and send them to the manufacturer. This should cut down the downtime of the machine as the error logs should flag up what parts may be required for the job to be completed.

11.15- Get back to continuing a job left over from the previous day, carrying out a planned preventative maintenance of a volumetric infusion pump. We have dedicated test equipment to measure rate delivery and occlusion levels, but we also have to interface the pump to testing software to carry out other function checks like the display, LEDs illuminate, certain internal parts operate normally and other tests to do with the function of the equipment. Following all jobs like this, we carry out an electrical safety test, as recommended by the government body for medical equipment management, the MHRA.

12.30- Lunch

13.00-  The maternity ward upstairs had left a message on my answer phone. They have some items that require repairing. An infusion pump that has crashed to the floor- probably due to a mum-to-be in the middle of labour  either grabbing onto it with extreme force or possibly it being thrown across the room. Also, they have some ultrasound probes that usually picks up the fetal heart beat on the cardiotacograph equipment that don’t seem to work anymore. I take the equipment to the workshop and book them in as repair jobs. If they are deemed as urgent, they will be looked at with some priority. The repair shelf is usually quite full on a typical day.

14:00- I get on with some routine work to carry out either repair work or planned safety checking and maintenance of the hospital’s medical equipment.

And now you know the life of a biomed.

Favourite things…..

February 26, 2011

No categories, no explanations or rankings…. just favourite things.

my Family



Annie Lennox


nice websites

going out

reading popular science books




lovely furniture


eating out

eurovision song contest


museums and galleries

National Portrait Gallery

Kings Arms, London

good, soft pillows

white bedding

red wine

Julianne Moore

medical dramas

medical equipment

Apple computers and gadgets

chinese take-away


A Poem

February 20, 2011

Norman McCaig

Visiting Hour

The hospital smell
combs my nostrils
as they go bobbing along
green and yellow corridors.

What seems a corpse
is trundled into a lift and vanishes

I will not feel, I will not
feel, until
I have to.

Nurses walk lightly, swiftly,
here and up and down and there,
their slender waists miraculously
carrying their burden
of so much pain, so
many deaths, their eyes
still clear after
so many farewells.

Ward 7. She lies
in a white cave of forgetfulness.
A withered hand
trembles on its stalk. Eyes move
behind eyelids too heavy
to raise. Into an arm wasted
of colour a glass fang is fixed,
not guzzling but giving.
And between her and me
distance shrinks till there is none left
but the distance of pain that neither she nor I
can cross.

She smiles a little at this
black figure in her white cave
who clumsily rises
in the round swimming waves of a bell
and dizzily goes off, growing fainter,
not smaller, leaving behind only
books that will not be read
and fruitless fruits.

Colourful Streets in a Colourful Society

Being a Glaswegian, who lives presently in Greater Manchester with experience of life in London, I have had plenty of opportunities to have a ‘feel’ for life in a variety of streets in the UK. Life in the streets of the UK is as diverse as society in today’s United Kingdom.

Two streets that first come to mind when considering the question of differences and inequalities being made would be Old Compton Street in London, and Canal Street in Manchester. These streets are central to the gay scenes in both these cities. I myself am a gay man, and have first hand experience with gay life in both cities. The problem of differences and inequalities being aggravated within the gay scene, or in both these streets is that exclusivity arises from creating gay scenes in the first place. People could possibly feel intimidation and possible hatred just by walking down these streets, while yearly Pride events go on as a protest for gay men and women to fight for equality. We, as gay people, create differences and inequalities by going to these venues. But at the same time, I understand why it is nice to have a gay venue to go to when I want to socialise.

Another contradiction from this, it that a lot of the time, gay men and gay women tend to socialise in different venues. So, even within an exclusive scene, differences and inequalities arise within them. This is not the case across the board, but it does happen a lot.

Another case where differences and inequalities arise would be on the Curry Mile in Rusholme, Manchester, where there are several restaurants that provide Indian and Eastern dishes, as well as other places to socialise in. There are a number of restaurants in which a national identity has become a commercial identity or brand for a particular kind of food and evening’s entertainment. We are all equal when we feel like going out for a curry, and get to experience something that we tend not to make at home. It is part of having a night out. When we do this, we would feel more equal with other cultures by joining in and celebrating with an Indian curry. But would we still feel as equal or indifferent when we walked down the Curry Mile during the day?

In the daytime, we are getting on about our lives, and we see the Curry Mile in a different light. There are coffee bars where people of certain cultures go, and there are the English pubs where another goes, and so forth. We are all divided up, depending on how we want to spend our time. This shows an example of inequality within the street that, as mentioned before, can bring us together in a different light.

A typical street today in the UK will have some sort of mixture of cultures. This could be a Polish shop, or a Chinese supermarket for example. These shops and other establishments with come from unfamiliar backgrounds are what help make our society more colourful and interesting. As we travel more, we get to experience more cultures. One of the aspects of traveling means that when we get back home, we sometimes have a go at making a dish from the country we have traveled to. The joy of having that shop to go to to get the authentic ingredients means we are bring a sort of equality to our lives with the culture and people from that.

Another reason for this could also be thanks to the diversity and amount of programmes we see on television. Cookery programmes and dramas set in different cultures means we can relate to the cultures we see everyday in a typical street. Across the UK, major cities have China Towns full of Chinese supermarkets and restaurants. These are strong contenders for bringing equality to society, because these restaurants are always full of Chinese customers along with other customers. This is something you don’t always see in other restaurants in the United Kingdom.

I have mentioned the gay scene and the Curry Mile, as they are part of my life, and something that I enjoy, and will enjoy again. Experiencing it first hand helps you to see the equalities and inequalities, and the similarities along with the differences.

Middle Class and Jobless

September 14, 2009

Just watching a documentary on the television regarding the jobless middle class. Brings back horrible memories of the time I was looking for a job. I am not middle class, but I know how much it is a struggle to look for the work you are used to doing. I never once got help from the jobcentre on actual jobhunting…. but they were happy to advise me on local bar and restaurant work. I finally found my job I was looking for, but I had to be patient and persistent. I am in a relatively professional job, and a statistic mentioned in the documentary is that the professional job vacancies on the jobcentre database accounted for 6% of the total of about 300,000 vacancies. The business to be in today….life coaching the jobless on how to find a job!

Juggling with Time…

December 8, 2008

I know.. I have not been very good at keeping my blog up to date. Thinks have been pretty busy here in beartech world, but probably not so busy that I can’t have a blog every now and again. So, I hope to be more interactive with my blog in the future, particularly as I have a lot going on with some ambitious plans. An example of how busy things are is that I have just spent 2 weeks in my home country.. Scotland. Mainly for my job, but also to catch up with my family. And… I am back there in the morning for another week. I am kinda wishing I can be online when I am mobile, but do enjoy the break away from the online world when away from home. It strikes that balance from an online world and being offline. But it also makes me realise how important the Internet is to me these days, as I always have lots to check when I get back home.

Sing my sister sing…

March 14, 2008

Good to see Annie Lennox and her Sing campaign gaining momentum. She has been working very hard to get this campaign going, and as she has said in her own words, “this is just the start.” Her single has been released on CD this week, and on sale in the countries chain of Bodyshop. It is a great anthemic song, sung in collaboration with 23 of the world’s top female vocalists, including Madonna, Pink, K D Lang, Sugababes.. to name a few. Well done Annie!! Keep up the good work.