I love the nutcracker, it is un abashed corny pastel pink fun. I’ve danced it plenty of times myself and I still think the grand pas de deux music is just sublime.
Having lived in crappy $ruralTown for the last few years with no semblance of theatre to see I gorged myself when recently in London and Italy
I saw 2 nutcrackers, one by the English National Ballet and the Royal Ballet and here follows my thoughts on these productions.
English National Ballet;s version is choreographed by  Wayne Eagling who has fiddled considerably with the story and the choreography. I’m not sure if its his choreography or the fact that the company was under-rehearsed but the group work was scrappy, particularly noticeable in the snow scene. For Principals we had Alina Cojucaru and Vadim who were both individually beautiful. Alina, as always, was stunning, all goodness and light as the sugar plum fairy, and Vadim’s solo showed off his lush technique. However it looked like they hadn’t rehearsed together enough as he dropped her twice, and he apparently forgot the finale.
The chinese dance had a welcome update – in contrast to the Royal Ballets which I will savage shortly, becoming a bit crouching tiger and hidden dragon but a welcome change from the bumbling chinamen of the Royal Ballet. There is a confusing bit pre-snow scene, danced by the lovely Alison McWhinney which was beautifully danced though i’m a little confused as to who the heck ‘Louise’ is and what she has to do with the story. I should have bought the program…. The Arabian dance though was very strange. A slave is introduced, with some terrible homo-erotic pseudo bondage choreography who is then freed by Clara. All in all bizzare and I feel completely out of place for a nutcracker.
The Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker is by Peter Wright and on the whole I quite like how the did the story – Drosselmeyer’s Nephew is cursed into a Nutcracker doll by the Mouse King after Dross invents a mousetrap that decimates the mousey population.  This spell can only be broken by the love of a young girl. Dross is invited to a Christmas party and knowing Clara will be there, thinks this is the chance for his nephew. She loves the nutcracker , they beat the  mouse king and Dross is so happy he uses all his magic to reward Clara for his magic by conjuring up the land of sweets and all the various divertisments in Act II. Ballet isn’t narrative gold, but this seemed to be as good a story for nutcracker as I’ve seen.  It gives Clara and the nephew a chance to dance with the divertisments which is better than the usually passive role they have in Act II. The national dances were fine, except the Chinese dance which is unforgiveabluy racist. National Dances are, by and large, a caricature of folk dances – but all of them, other than the chinese is treated with respect, its over the top but they are taken seriously. The chinese dance has them in the long pony tails with their fingers extended with much head bobbing and buffoonery. WHen Clara joins in, it is in a gross parody of the gross parody and the whole effect is mean spirited. THe poor chinese aren’t even allowed dignity in the curtain call, with them playing the fool even then. It needs to be changed and frankly i’m surprised that is allowed to continue to exist in its current form.
The principals were Nunez and Soares. They partnered well together, and Nunez was a regal sugar plum fairy. Soares however was a disappointment, his solo was underpowered and flabby with floppy entrechat sixes and a completely puny mange of assemble tours in the middle. To finish an off balance pirouette. Terrible, I would, and have seem better from junior competitions.
He also had absolutely no idea of the finale and muffed it totally, going in the wrong direction at one point.

There’s a great video on vimeo by nicolas deveaux

and the question turned to its plausibility. We wondered how flexible giraffe necks are, and it turns out pretty flexible, though I couldn’t find any solid info on max flexion.
http://animals.howstuffworks.com/mammals/giraffe-neck1.htm
bendy
So if we say that it could infact bend his head and neck into an appropriate position, would the neck be strong enough to flip his/her buddies

so firstly I tried to work out the force exerted on the head/neck
so assuming a 5.5m tall giraffe, at an endurance run of 31mph and a weight of 3500 lbs (whatever values came up first on google) I’m working on the idea we’re converting forward momentum into vertical so the math should work, basing it off http://what-if.xkcd.com/133/.  It comes out as is 55.4kn which is a fair bit. (5600kg or so) 
http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/…

There was no data on the tensile strength of a giraffe’s neck, but helpfully there is on people.
human neck tensile strength is about 3100N (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19388771)
a male giraffe neck is about 70cm circumference at the head and 152cm at the base (http://repository.up.ac.za/…/Mitchell_Growth_2013.pdf…)
and human male neck circumference is 35cm (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19388771)

tensile strength scales with cross sectional area so it comes out at about 12kn. Which is unfortunatelysome way short of the 55.4kn it would need to flip another giraffe. Shame. It would hold up a smaller giraffe though (2698lbs)

i’m not really a mathematician so please correct me if i’m wrong!

I didn’t like what i had become, I was grumpy, stressed, my health was shot. I was inpatient. Snappy. My head which had used to be full of stories, and images was now concerned only with getting enough sleep to make it through the next on call cycle.

But unlike my friend Halaina over at the D word, change came quick, I guess the signs were there but I was fixated on the idea of becoming a plastic surgeon and ignored it until I was forced to confront them
The consultants had not made time to see me to discuss my future, but assured me that they would have me in my current job and not to worry.
I didn’t (rookie mistake. Don’t trust them as far as you can throw them.) and a few weeks later got a generic health department telling me I was unsuccessful in my application for my current job.
This was a bit of a kick in the balls, as I had no negative feedback, and no heads up this was on the cards.
But this was the big kick I needed. Looking back over this blog, I was always torn between my need to do my art and my love of medicine. The last few years was an experiment in subsuming my art for medicine and I didn’t like it. I wasn’t me. I missed being creative, I missed collaborating, I missed moving and dancing.
I had forgotten these things and this kick was what I needed to reassess.
I took the time to step back and get in touch with what I wanted out of life, I looked forward to what I could expect if I wanted to pursue plastics and I found no joy in that.
I took wise counsel from trusted friends and decided to step back in 2015. reconnect with my art practice and take a different path.
So in 2015, I’m dancing again, teaching, doing a Masters in Sports Medicine, a Dip in child health, making films, riding my bike badly. Its going to be good.

Follow your bliss’ (Joseph Conrad)

a lecturer once told me this and it stuck in the back of my mind until recently and it seems apt.

I did manage to make a small film at the end of last year which re-enforced how much I missed being creative.

Us Right Now (120mb. NSFW)

LakeWanakaTree

Lake Wanaka 2013

I was asked about advice for advice about undertaking Plastic Surgery training in Australia, so I thought I’d write it down.

The process goes Internship -> Residency (1-2 years) -> Unaccredited registrar (numerous) -> Accredited Registrar (5 years) -> fellowship (optional 1-2 years) -> Boss

Now the problem is that it is pretty competitive at all levels, very uncertain and often unsupported.

With the medical student tsunami well underway, competition for residency position is heating up, no longer can you expect to simply wander into a residency job of your choosing post internship. Further more if you want something as competitive as Plastics then you’ll need to score plastics rotations so you can meet the bosses. You also would benefit from an ICU, ED or anaesthetics term (my advice is to try and schedule this late in your residency career as you have to have done one of these terms within 5 years of applying to the SET program and you don’t want to break up your unaccredited registrar time with a residency ED/ICU/Anaes job if you can help it)

you need research, in plastics, published in certain journals.
You need a masters at least
you can now do your primary surgical exam before applying to the program (~$3000)

So you’ll want to start angling for unaccredited jobs. These are competitive (FYI there are 9 unaccredited jobs in NSW. people tend to stay in them till they get on or quit, and only 7 get onto the program per year IN THE COUNTRY).
Be prepared to suck up, hard. 1 guy i know spent every weekend and every morning pre round, hanging out at a different hospital to the one he was working at chatting up the bosses.

So while tootling around in unaccredited land, getting your masters and publishing like a mofo you will start thinking about applying for the SET program. The privilege of applying will cost you some $1200.
People are getting on somewhere around around 6 years post graduating uni, and it is not unheard of getting in at 10 years post.

Now, its probably true that if you really want to get on, you will eventually. The thing you have to ask yourself is how long you are willing to wait and how much you are willing to put up with.
As a registrar your time is not your own, you will have surprise shifts all the time, you will work 110hrs in a week +, we still do the Friday 11pm to Monday 8am (and expected to work all Monday as well) on call. (for those non surgeons, consider that on Monday your surgeon may not have slept since Thursday night). Almost everyone in the hospital will hate you, because while you’re operating you’re not in clinic, and ED has been waiting for hours, and that patient on the ward needs a review, and no they will not get someone to cover the other 2 registrars who are off. And certainly don’t expect love from the boss who has called the sole remaining registrar off to help them in the private.
As an unaccredited registrar you can’t even think about the light in the end of the tunnel because you aren’t even in the tunnel yet. Do consider what happens if you don’t get onto the training program – GP is increasingly competitive with the vast numbers of students coming through, CMO jobs are slowly being phased out as young consultants come out the other end. Surgical positions are tightening down from a high of 14 entries/year to 7 now.

That being said, your time actually operating is magical (provided that you were lucky enough that someone has taken the time to teach you, as an unaccredited the bosses are generally uninterested in teaching you, and you will have to settle for scraps of teaching. I was lucky in my first accredited year where I got superb training, but in my second year I can count on one hand how many times I operated with a consultant). (also as an unaccredited trainee you are NOT ALLOWED to go to any of the accredited teaching session) The extraordinary privilege of operating on someone and being able to restore function is unmatched, and while you are in theatre, its a bit like being on stage – its all about the operation, time loses meaning, everything else is forgotten, and you work.
And seeing people regain function in a hand, or saving someone’s sight is incredible. I got to see great things, I got to do great things and I certainly don’t regret doing it.

So it’s really up to your values. Surgery demands your everything, and it is rewarding. It is a noble cause (until you become a private cosmetic surgeon which I’ll rant about another time), and that might be for you.
And while I tell you all this, I was told all of this before. It will make not one iota of difference because you will need to experience it for yourself to see if its worth it for you.

Good luck, let me know how it goes.

10358978_10152345323581536_1548878159845608170_o

Basel 2014

Holy carp, Its march 2015. A lot has changed. I lost the last few years as a plastic surgery registrar (resident for you yanks), I haven’t created barely anything during that time so 2015, I’m stepping back, reassessing, reconnecting with my arts practice.
Its a bit odd, stepping back from a promising, exciting (lets face it glamourous sounding) career and something I didnt’ think I would do, but I feel I should write it down, its something young medical students and doctors should think about before embarking on study/specialisation.

This is largely inspired by my friend over at the D word someone I knew as a young ballet student who became a gorgeous dancer with the Australian Ballet and has moved over to Germany and tackling new and greater challenges. Check it.

1602_GH1_0001

After ordering a mushroom soup to go

excuse me, could I have a spoon please?

oh i’m so sorry, we’re all out of spoons. I have given you 2 knives though….

brits are weird.

At a met call
Ok oxygen turn it up full via hudson. What’s her sats. Can we get an ECG… 
Oh hey. Are you plastics? 
Urr yeah.. Have we got a line in? 
Mrs blah wants to discharge with some endone. 
Um not a good time.. Blood pressure? 
Oh yeah. Sure. 
Have we got an old ecg, take usual blood and a gas. 
Is just that she wants to go and you haven’t written her up…

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