Friday, February 27, 2009

Is there a doctor in the house?

This week our facility is filled with bone doctors, this is the first time we have had this group here. At the beginning of the week it was our downstairs hall, with 8,000 people for the research meeting and now it’s all the upstairs halls for the general meeting. Big sections of the floors are filled with low boards on which they place posters describing projects. I was first introduced to this poster concept by our heart surgeon friend from Sweden, who came to Vegas for a similar thing for heart doctors several years ago. They create a poster that is about a meter square displaying information on whatever it is they are working on, with pretty technical descriptions and x-rays and photographs, and a select few are then picked then to give lectures and presentations.

This is definitely an area that I have had little contact with. I’ve been programming computers for a while, worked in a lot of industries and have had to learn details about how things work in order to make programs that fill needs, but medical research has not been on my list. I wrote down a few of the poster titles that just seemed to say something, but just what I am not sure. ‘Optical targeting of distal locking screws of imrubs’, ‘cartilage repair evolutions: from autologous chrondrocyte to bone-marrow-dreived cells transplantation’, ‘incidence of patella fracture after tka with two resection technology’, osteotomy of the first metacarpal with trapezieplasty: and alternate treatment for reizarhrosis’, superaramagnetic iron-oxcide (SPIO) labeled human chondrocytes and syovium-dreived stromal cells: transfection efficiency, cellular toxicity and localization by magnetic force’. Yes, I can figure out a few of the words and some of the concepts, and I’m sure the medical among you will probably get more, but such combinations of words are just beyond my experience. Perhaps I was right in not becoming a doctor, but if I did then probably it would be more understandable.

The show floor is packed, the estimates were for 30,000 attendees and it looks like a lot more. People have come from all over the world for this, and it is interesting to wander around and hear all of the different languages being used. Many of the booths are large, with big drug companies and electronic companies putting up huge displays, x-ray machines and computer displays are being demonstrated, counters are full of surgery tools, almost every booth has glass examples of bones and joints and spines. There are a lot of video screens showing micro surgeries in action, and a whole section of the floor is taken up by an educational area, with dozens of doctors sitting with headphones quietly watching videos of operations. Most shows have busy days and light days, but for this one it seems everybody is here every day. Almost everyone has a laptop computer in a shoulder bag; the tables in the food court are filled with groups having intense discussions, people bringing up things on their laptops to show and discuss, or just taking notes on computer.

This is the most formal show I’ve seen, with most of the visitors wearing suits and ties. I play a game of trying to guess where people are from based on how they dress. So far the only consistencies are: doctors from China and Hong Kong are all wearing baggy black suits with white shirts, even the women, and are generally young; doctors from Italy are dressed in really nice tailored grey suits with pastel shirts and are in their late 30’s; doctors from the US favor black suits and ties as well, but there are a lot in tan pants and dark blue blazers, no tie, sometimes a golf shirt underneath and mostly older. The ratio of men to women is about eight to one, with the women being well dressed also.

Nascar is also in town. There are races up at the speedway this weekend, yesterday there was a big parade down the Strip with the Nascar painted trucks (sorry I missed it, no photos of the trucks here). It provides for an interesting combination, when we go for our lunchtime walk we’ve been outside all week with temps in the mid 70’s, clusters of doctors in black suits standing around while crowds of people in colorful Nascar shirts and windbreakers moving through. It has been a warm week, resulting in something happening out in our yard we didn’t expect.

Our peach tree has started blooming. When we first moved here that April it was one big pink ball, some years the leaves come out before the blossoms so we miss the pink mass, this year the flowers are very early, I hope we don’t get a late frost that would cause them all to drop. The warm looks like it will continue, with Sunday scheduled to have a high of 77f, low of 53f (25c, 12c) and sunny. Of course sunny.

Next week brings my favorite show; the Halloween show. This has always produced the most enjoyable exhibits, with lots of costumes and spiderweb guns and fog machines and ghostly noisemakers. I can do without explicit videos of exposed kneecaps being operated on; give me the inflatable Frankenstein monsters. (yes, I know he was the doctor, but what was the creature's name?)

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