Book Heaven

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Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Burglar Who Stole Medical Journals

(with apologies to Lawrence Block)

In my wild and reckless youth (a Freyian fantasy, to be sure), I was asked by a girl (who I had a crush on) to steal a band-aid for her. She could have afforded to buy the band-aid and I certainly would have bought it but nooooo it had to be stolen. We were in New York at the time and even in my youthful innocence I knew it wasn’t an especially good idea. In an instant I had the aftermath storyboarded in my mind and it would have made Will Eisner proud. I was being carted off to the Tombs. As they dragged me away, there was a frame that was just filled with her lovely hand (with band-aid prominent of course) as she waved goodbye. As her hand fell out of frame, the screen was now filled with the leering faces of my future cellmates. Not too surprisingly, I passed on stealing the band-aid.

Later that day we were on the Staten Island ferry and this same girl dared me to take off my shirt. Not being a crime, I only had to endure the embarrassment of doing it in front of a rush hour crowd, and this being many years before chest-bareing became cinematically popular it was still something I mentally wrestled with. As a reader of Strength and Health magazine and a disciple of Bob Hoffman though, I possessed a bare chest that was pretty good in those days but evidently it was not enough to overcome my failure at the real test that day -- stealing the band-aid. I wasn’t too surprised when I didn’t get any further with this girl.

My larcenous nature was not tested again for many years until one day when I found myself in Macy’s looking at bookcases. I didn’t see any that I liked but I did notice a copy of Frank Gruber’s Brass Knuckles tucked in among all the other worthless books displayed on the floor model bookcases. I really wanted that book and even though I knew there would be no consequences in spiriting it away, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I did however come back the next day with another book which I “traded” for the Gruber. I still hadn’t really passed the larceny test.

Fast forward to the present. I am in a doctor’s waiting room pawing through the magazines when I come across a copy of The Journal of the American College of Cardiology. This magazine is just jam packed with articles I’d like to read -- articles about statins and stents, bypass surgery, and lipid levels. I immediately decide that not only am I probably the only patient that would want to read this stuff, I also decide that I would actually be doing a good deed if I “spirited” this issue out of there. What could the doctor have been thinking when he left a magazine out there that would undoubtedly scare the daylights out of any skittish patient who dared to crack it open?

After reading the journal I am still curious about this stuff and discover a website where I can learn everything there is to know about stents. I hope I’ll never need one but at least I’ll be prepared if that day ever comes. (P.S. I’m a minor expert on stents now if anyone needs a consultation). Again, I can’t believe this information is available for anyone to look at. I can access every issue of a journal that’s basically intended for cardiologists who place the stents. There are stories here about stents gone amuck as they were being placed and lots of other installation mishaps that would send any prospective patient fleeing. One article’s title was especially chilling -- “Don’t Cause a Stroke While Trying To Prevent One.”

I have quickly become a medical journal junkie. I have hundreds of journal articles on my desk and now whenever I go into a meeting I always take a stack of them with me. As soon as the meeting turns boring (usually almost immediately), I start reading journal articles. It’s better than sitting there with a bored expression on your face for a couple of hours and my coworkers have even gotten used to my behavior.

In my medical journal surfing I have finally found one that has obsessed me. There is an issue of The Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology that has eighty some pages devoted to the effects of chocolate and cocoa flavanols on cardiovascular health (one of my favorite research topics). The problem is that this is not available online and a twelve issue subscription to this august journal costs nearly nine hundred dollars. Ouch!

I tried to find a medical school library nearby that had this but no luck. I’m not positive but I’m pretty close to the point where I might try to “liberate” this issue even if they had a guard watching it. Of course I’d bring it back after I had a chance to read it. I guess I’m still light years away from truly larcenous behavior. Stealing valuable knowledge like this can’t really be a crime anyway, can it?


Blogger Bill said...

Knowledge belongs to everyone! Power to the people!

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Blogger Gert Z-B said...

I definately agree, absolutely another excellent reason for people to stop fearing the big stacks... and to stop bullying the small stacks. Today I just have time to just passing thru and I think you have a great topic related blog here! I'm definitely going to put you in my favorites! It was quite useful reading, found some good/nice stuff in here. Thanks!
I have a Website site.

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