I love San Francisco.  My first dissection proper was at this medical centre, (note the correct spelling of centre) and with this to be the last dissection to be done in this building, it feels fitting for me that I should be here. The city is a vibrant, colourful celebration of US life and every few blocks there seems to be an area or part of town that houses ideas and cultures that feedback into the fabric of the city.

Today’s reflection of the skin down to superficial fascia came almost at the end of a day which although not containing an awful lot of scalpel time, seemed busy enough, sometimes at times too busy.

Gil Hedley has decided that these three week exercises are going to give enough data to write the world’s first Atlas of Integral Anatomy.  I’m not exactly sure what that means, but then again, not exactly sure is something we all have in common when around Gil.

It’s probably something that geniuses have in common, where lots of things are going on in their heads, but getting it out and down on paper is often tricky.  Just getting to this point has been a logistical Everest and the amount of kit that Gil has bought and then shipped up to California from Florida is mind boggling.

Never one to be beholden to a single person or entity, Gil has bought a mixing desk, three cameras, tripods, lenses, lighting rigs, cable ties and enough gaffer tape to keep the whole bay BDSM community happy until Thanksgiving.

On top of that he has taught himself how to use all this gear and eventually will work out how to transfer the data into something usable.  It’s therefore forgivable if not all the plans of how the data will be gathered have been fully committed to paper.

Yet the workings are there, and today 15 areas of skin were marked and the process of skin removal begun.  The marked areas will then be cut and compared, creating a chart that shows the degrees of thickness around the body and how these compare.  I am guessing that observations will go along with this.  Does the mottled bubbling effect happen everywhere and on everyone? Is skin thickness consistent throughout the body on all the samples?

It was good to get ‘stuck in’ again in the lab and begin that laborious yet fascinating and compelling process of removing skin from a human form.  The feel of the scalpel blade sliding beneath the surface of the skin and creating and image of skin being an entity separate from its underlying structure.

There is a satisfaction in being mildly competent in this regard, seeing the skin lift cleanly away to reveal the bright yellow bubbles of the multi named adipose beneath.

Day two is a continuation of the skin/superficial fascia, reflection.  The luxury of being able to spend plenty of time on this layer and get lots of cutting in, is not lost on the more experienced dissectors in the room.  By now we would normally have all the skin off and be on to the next layer, with barely a chance to blink.  This is different.  Not exactly leisurely by any stretch of the imagination.  Perhaps considered is a better word.

Gil revels in the size of the group and his ability to captivate them with his style of discussion and his overwhelming sense of human ridiculousness.  Whilst being blessed with a sensitivity that is finely tuned to the room, he also conveys a distinct lack of bullshit.  A swear word or a dirty laugh brings out his boyish delight in the profane and he absorbs and reflects the enthusiasm and ebullience of those around him.

Energetically he can be a worry.  The sheer effort to get to day one has been enormous, and to then keep this running at full tilt, for three weeks presents a challenge, the steepness of which will become apparent in the next few days.

As for me, well I am still feeling the effects of my body trying to tell me that I should have been asleep about six hours ago and I am struggling to keep the energy levels where they should be and stay focussed on the job in hand.