Stupid Tuesday questions, 13.1 edition

There are many not-entirely-complimentary things I could say about my medical school.  (It was, after all, a state school.)  It served its purpose, I met lots of wonderful friends there, and I have no regrets.  But I could tell you all the things that were wrong with it, were I so inclined.

However, there is one way in which I think it just totally rocked.  We got lots and lots of very hands-on clinical experience very early in our time there.  As far as the expectations regarding our clinical skills went, I would step to any challenge from any other school.  As a medical student I was expected to take call with the residents and handle much of the work when patients were admitted.  (This is, in part, why I’ve found the frank laziness and unapologetic apathy of some students I’ve encountered at far more illustrious schools so shocking.)  In order to earn honors on certain rotations, it was required that I learn how to do procedures.  Entering our core rotations, junior students were paired with senior students to show them the ropes.

I can still remember my senior partner (a wonderful woman with whom I am still good friends, and who charitably chooses to remember me as far less of a pain in the ass than I am utterly sure I was) sitting down with me and teaching me to write admission orders.  The abbreviation she taught me (which I would still use, if I didn’t have residents to order around now) was “ADCVAANDIIM.”  They letters stood for “[A]dmit to (specified unit), [D]iagnosis, [C]ondition, [V]itals, [A]llergies, [A]ctivity, [N]ursing, [D]iet, [I]ns and Outs, [I]V fluids and [M]edications.”  I’m sure there are variations on this list, but it was the one I learned and used.

Now then, hold that thought.

Fast forward to the present day.  As I’ve mentioned once or twice, I live in Maine.  Specifically, I live in the part of Maine that becomes ridiculously crowded in the summer with vacationers in search of quaint little towns, rocky beaches, temperate climates and cheap, plentiful lobster.  While it makes me grouchy to have my usual running routes clogged with trundling tourists (seriously, people, would it kill you to move the hell out of the way?), I enjoy seeing the area bustling like it does during the high season.

Anyhow, living in a vacation destination, I am well-acquainted with those little oval stickers that people slap on their car to make sure everyone knows where they like to spend their summers.  (I am sad to admit that I suffer from a related malady, in that I have slapped a similarly-shaped sticker on my car to make sure everyone knows how far I can run in a race.  I regret this flaw in my character.)  All of the local communities have their own little abbreviated signifiers, so people can signal that they’ve visited right alongside their “OBX” and “ACK” stickers.

[Aside: For some reason I find the “ACK” sticker particularly annoying, mainly because it’s supposed to be this winking inside reference that only people cool enough to have been there will get.  It’s not that hard to figure out, vacation snobs!  Hey, everyone!  Those “ACK” stickers mean the people visited Nantucket!  ACK are the call letters for the local airport there.  Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  Don’t tell hoi polloi!]

At one popular seaside destination you can get yourself a sticker that reads “OOB.”  It stands for Old Orchard Beach.  While I don’t live there, I live close enough that I see “OOB” on lots and lots of cars.

Except my brain doesn’t see “Old Orchard Beach” when I come across one of those cars.  It reads “Out of Bed,” because that’s what “OOB” stood for when I was writing Activity orders and I wanted to make sure the patient got up and about.  It is my understanding that such shorthand in medical orders has fallen out of favor due to the potential for misinterpretation, but Back In The Day I saw and wrote “OOB” many, many times.

I thus amuse myself, every time I see the sticker, that (in the manner of a marathon runner with a “26.2” sticker on her car) the person whose car sports it is just so damn proud of himself for getting up that morning that he needed to let the whole world know.

So that all leads up to this week’s Question — what means something to you that is different from what it means to the rest of the world?  What does everyone see one way that has been inflected for you, by your personal or professional history?  What hidden, private little jokes of yours does nobody else get from the straightforward message usually conveyed?

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. I have a similar laugh each time I see O.G. as a reference to Ordinary Gentlemen. Whenever I see O.G., I see Original Gangsta. I find this to be very funny.

    • I brought this point up yesterday amidst the April Fool’s jokes being bandied about. It didn’t get much traction. It was hard to tell what was serious and what was not, I guess.

  2. That’s a whole lot better then what I recall when I see the OOB sticker, Russel. The girls are relieved to have an alternative.

    I just looked up the code for our town’s little airport, OB1; the force is strong in this mountain town.

  3. “For some reason I find the “ACK” sticker particularly annoying, mainly because it’s supposed to be this winking inside reference that only people cool enough to have been there will get.”

    i assumed it meant they were big fans of the cathy comic strip.

      • Bill the Cat was my first guess, too. And while I knew there weren’t scads of well-heeled Berke Breathed fans cluttering up the Maine seacoast, it amused me to think otherwise.

        • it’s at least plausible to think of people who wear a lot of land’s end being into doonesbury, but the idea of people who are militantly yet cryptically into cathy is, i think, more sublime.

          • DOONESBURY?!

            Where’s my face-slappin’, duel-challengin’ glove, it’s around here somewhere…

          • shit man i meant bloom county. i never read either so it’s all in that bucket of “90s college nerd” for me.

          • “90’s college nerd”, eh? I see how it’s gonna be.

            dhex, yer goin’ down like lowercase type, my friend. 😉

          • I love both “Doonesbury” and “Bloom County” (though, in my adulthood, I have realized that the latter’s quality wasn’t always consistent).

            But I simply cannot help but cherish the notion of militant yet cryptic “Cathy” fandom.

          • ““90′s college nerd”, eh? I see how it’s gonna be. ”

            ahh well you know what i mean, right? 🙂 it’s like uh, ned’s atomic dustbin.

            “But I simply cannot help but cherish the notion of militant yet cryptic “Cathy” fandom.”

            foucault’s sunday pendulum!

          • “What’s next, a critical reassessment of the compleat discography of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine?”

            pitch it!

            but yeah that’s kinda random. i know the av club is a bit odd sometimes but c’mon.

  4. OOP is a fairly common abbreviation for “out of print”, but it makes me think the book is written in C++.

  5. I knew you lived in the OOB area! Even as I was reading this, I thought, “Man, that sounds like OOB!” My friend’s family had a vacation home one town over (I don’t remember the name) that I visited a couple of times. Beautiful area… though the water is frigid, even in the summer.

    When I see “OOB” I actually just read it as a word, like it rhymes with “tube”. But I’m not sure I see anything a way different than most. Probably because I just assume everyone sees it my way since that is undoubtedly the right way.

  6. There’s a tech school out there called Universal Technical Institute, or “UTI” for short. Whenever I see one of their commercials where they are talking about UTI, I snicker.

  7. This is actually kind of a tangent, but back home cars have location-stickers that actually matter. They’re not the classic oval ones talked about here (they’re usually square, and smaller). They are important because when there’s a hurricane evacuation and only residents are allowed back in, it’s the difference between being able to get back in and not being able to get back in.

    It also greatly improves your ability to get out of a speeding ticket, if they know you are a taxpaying (and potentially voting) resident of the municipality.

    • We have those too; it means you can use the dump. Never heard of them helping to avoid a ticket, however.

      • It was one of my bigger mistakes to get the sticker on my car instead of the Better Half’s, since now I’m the one who has to schlep all our larger cardboard items to the recycling center when our pile reaches critical mass.

  8. DM means Dungeon Master for me, no matter what context it appears in. For example, Robitussin DM cough syrup is clearly intended to help Dungeon Masters regain their voices quickly in time for the next D&D session.

    IPA means India Pale Ale to me. That probably wouldn’t bother most people, but where I work, IPA means isopropyl alcohol (used for cleaning space stuff), which can allow real confusion to develop at times.

  9. Active: boost & cut
    Passive: cut only

    I use those terms in that sense frequently. It’s the way I understand them.

  10. This is kind of the opposite of your question, but I work in a library with LC call numbers. Certain combinations still amuse me, 5 years in:

    BM (yes, I am 12)


    • Er, I meant DC. There aren’t actually any DMs, I dunno why. Nor do I know why I typed M.

      I often find myself thinking little amused thoughts related to these combos. Like, “I got 99 problems and a book ain’t one,” for JZ.

  11. When I was in high school, I liked to think of myself as the shining star of the Bible Quizzing world. I memorized giant chunks of text, and I’d use the number world around me as memory triggers to practice quoting verses.

    The 6 of us in my family would be driving around in our station wagon, and we’d pass a bank clock that read 7:19, for example. I’d clear my throat and holler (exclamation points mine), “‘Circumcision is nothing! and uncircumcision is nothing! Keeping God’s commands is what counts!’ 1 Corinthians 7:19!”

    There might be some sighing and looking out the window after that. Or my dad might generously say, “Well, neat.”

    I don’t know if it ever occurred to me how obnoxious I must have been to my poor captive family–until I grew up and moved here, and all around me are the 13.1 stickers.

    It’s funny that you mentioned those stickers, this has happened to me with those very ones. When I see them now, in spite of myself all I can see is “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbol.”

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