Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Last bit of Christmas cheer


Here's wishing you and yours a happy last few days of merriment before January comes around.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fourth Family Member

Matt, Mitchell, and I have added a new member to the family:


Meet Toby Tumbleweed

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Low

Working at the Durham VA is a lot like practicing medicine in the 3rd world...or in the 1970s...or in the 3rd world in the 1970s.

In any case, today, I reached a new low.

Yes, that's right. I trimmed a patient's toenails.

Good thing I went to 4 years of medical school for that.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vocabulary Lesson

Matt and I recently had a debate about the true meaning of both of these words:


Philistine:

a person who is lacking in or hostile to or smugly indifferent to cultural values, intellectual pursuits, aesthetic refinement, etc., or who is contentedly commonplace in ideas and tastes.


Nonplus:

to render utterly perplexed; to puzzle completely.

All I'm saying is, for the last 10 years I've been using "nonplussed" as a synonym for "underwhelmed." Who knew?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

PINK






Matt won't let me decorate with pink in our house, so I have to reserve it for the blog...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Furniture Craving

Aren't these coffee tables great?






I've been really, really wanting a glass or lucite coffee table for our living room.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Disposable Hand Towels - Bah Humbug




Search the shelves of your local supermarket, and you'll find that Kleenex is now making single-use hand towels.

Sure, companies have to make new products to bolster their marketshare and remain viable, but I have a number of issues with these.

#1. Are these really different than paper towels, which have been around for decades????? Does Kleenex really think we are stupid enough to be duped into spending our money on this "new" product?

#2. More importantly, do we really need disposable hand towels????? Seriously, isn't the point that we already throw away too much?


The Annenberg Foundation quotes that the average American makes 4.6 pounds of trash daily. Obviously, we do not need disposable hand towels...we are already disposing of enough.

Kleenex's 'angle' is that these One Use Towels are cleaner (i.e. safer) than your standard-use hand towel. However, let's note that washing machine technology is as advanced as it has ever been (washing machines today have a more complex computer mainframe than my 2001 Subaru)...and, also, that you wash your hands with SOAP....which kills germs...and cleans hands...meaning that your towels should really stay pretty clean anyway.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Brainiacs

Guess what: Durham is one of America's 20 Smartest Cities.

Here is the complete list:
1. Boulder, CO
2. Durham, NC
3. Washington, DC
4. Boston, MA
5. Trenton/Ewing, NJ
6. San Jose, CA
7. Ithaca, NY
8. San Francisco, CA
9. Charlottesville, VA
10. Madison, WI
11. Raleigh, NC
12. Olympia, WA
13. Albany, NY
14. Fort Collins, CO
15. Ames, IA
16. Austin, TX
17. Seattle, WA
18. Rochester, MI
19. Corvallis, OR
20. Iowa City, IA

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

26 is the new 17

To those of you who know us personally, and let's face it that's anyone who reads this blog... if anyone actually does, you know that Jllo and I have somewhat different personalities and can view the same situation quite differently.  From the general dour nature of her previous post, I infer that the NY Times article she quoted (I'm too busy being awesome to read the whole thing) is saying that 20 somethings these days are less mature than those halcyon days gone by when a young man got his union card at 18 to start working in the coal mine, and women were expected to be baby factories from age 18-28.  If being less mature is the price to avoid a life of limited options and limited happiness, I'll pay it gladly.

I don't feel old or some objective level of "maturity" simply because, in an eerie coincidence, I have reached the same 4 out of 5 "milestones to adulthood" as Jllo.  In fact, I'd say I'm currently living much of my 17 year old self's dream life.  Let me count the ways:

1. I am in love with a smart, beautiful, and funny woman and she loves me back.
2.We have a great dog that is well behaved, but not so well behaved as to be boring
3. I have a career in one of the top 4 careers represented in TV shows (Detectives, Doctors, Lawyers, and Secret Agents).
4. We own a great house, where we can be proud to have all of our friends come over for a party.
5. I get to play in a rock band that practices in my basement
6. I still get excited when new and cool video games come out
7. I get to drive a cool car that is pretty fast
8. I get to go to kickboxing training twice a week

If 17 year old me knew I'd have all these opportunities in only 9 years, he would be pretty pumped.  I don't mean to list all these things in a "look at me, my life is so much better than yours" way.  I bet most folks couldn't care less for more than half of the things on that list.  The point is that your life is your own make it the best it can be.  Getting older does mean more responsibilities, but one of the biggest responsibilities is the creation of your own happiness.  So don't worry about "milestones to adulthood," or how old you are or are getting.  You've only got one life to live and all that other self-actualization blah-blah-blah.  But seriously, make your life what you want it to be, even if the NY Times thinks you're not mature enough.

Not Pictured:  Happiness

Monday, September 13, 2010

What is it about 20-somethings?

This article , "What is it about 20-somethings," from the NY Times Magazine was actually quite boring, being more about history than science.

However, it did inform me that a 30-year-old today is about as mature as a 25-year-old from the 1970s:

We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.” Sociologists traditionally define the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones. Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so. A Canadian study reported that a typical 30-year-old in 2001 had completed the same number of milestones as a 25-year-old in the early ’70s.


When I read the 'five milestones to adulthood', I felt badly about the fact that I'd already achieved 4 of them. You see, I really don't like the idea of getting older. Don't get me wrong--getting older is obviously better than the alternative. It just seems to imply gaining a whole lot of responsibility at the cost of a whole lot of fun. (Not that I actually do have have a lot of fun now...but I like the idea that I could have fun if I wanted to.) Plus, you get wrinkles. And bifocals. And arthritis.

But, there seem to be some benefits...namely, chances are, when you get older, you make a lot more money, which you can spend doing things that are fun...or, at least, buying things that are cool, which is a reasonable approximation of fun, and perhaps the best an old person can muster.

Alaskan Doctor's Exploding Cabin

Sometimes the Doctor and I contemplate moving to Alaska once this whole residency thing is finished.  Once there, we imagine life will be filled with lots of adventures.  Adventures like this:

Talkeetna's only physician came within about 20 minutes of losing his life early Tuesday morning when a faulty stove pipe and 47 pounds of gunpowder in his log cabin clinic caused an explosion that blew out the back door and incinerated most of the building.
Read more here. I, for one, welcome the days when we need to be mindful that out stove doesn't cause our 47 pounds of gunpowder to blow up our rudimentary frontier health clinic/law office.

Pictured:  Adventures on the frontier.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Leeches

My excitement on-call this weekend?

Medical leeches.

Awesome. Welcome to the 1700s.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bathroom Plans

Someday, I want our master bathroom to look something like these...




...apparently, I have a lot of work to do.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fire Drill

I heard the following story on the radio recently.

In brief, a high school math teacher who motivates inner city students by teaching them chess was being interviewed. He himself learned chess as a kid in the Ukraine, before he moved to America at age six.

So, the six-year-old future math teacher moves to America and his parents enroll him in first grade. The school year has already started, so he tries to fit in as best he can. Problem is, he does not speak English. At all. No English.

School is hard -- not the material, but the not-understanding-what's-going-on-because-I-don't-understand-the-language part.

Then, the school hosts a fire drill. Apparently, there are no fire drills in Ukraine, and the kid doesn't really know what's going on. Plus, he's in the bathroom--alone--so he can't see everyone filing out to the school yard. It turns out, while they don't have fire drills, the Ukrainians do have faulty equipment, so the kid just assumes that something has broken in the school building's wiring and is making a strange noise.

So, he washes up and traipses back to his classroom. He finds it empty. 'Strange,' he thinks. He wanders to the next-door classroom, and finds, curiously, that it is empty as well.
In a moment of true problem-solving, the kid decides, 'it's almost lunch time, I guess everyone just went to lunch early.' He wanders to the cafeteria. No one is there, but there are plenty of lunches lined up on the counter. He reaches to take one, and, at that exact moment, a hairnetted lunch-lady runs out from the kitchen, shouting, "THIS IS A FIRE DRILL. YOU MUST GO OUTSIDE. WHY ARE YOU IN HERE???? PUT DOWN THAT LUNCH AND LEAVE RIGHT NOW."

As the math teacher/chess play is relating all this, the radio host interrupts him and says, "That must have been so confusing. It must have been exhausting never knowing what was happening and being so disoriented all the time. I bet you went home that afternoon and thought to yourself 'I can't take this anymore. I never want to go back.'"

At that moment, I couldn't help but think that the kid's experience was a lot like being an intern. Things happen in the hospital, and you don't know why. Patients have bad outcomes, and you don't know why. Tests get ordered, but not completed. Patients refuse blood-draws. Medical students fail to learn simple concepts. Physical Therapy doesn't come. Surgeries are done in the OR, and you don't know what they are. And at the end of the day, some metaphorical-lunch-lady is always yelling at you, for reasons you can't really make out.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Glow of Good Health

If you Google "glowing with good health," you will find this image:



Now, this isn't really what I had in mind...so, I tried another option-- "fine physical specimen" -- which I feared might veer into the realm of pornography...but, as an intrepid blogger, I carried on.

Porn it was not, but still not what I wanted:

You see, this photo is of a fat guy, and what I wanted was an image to demonstrate "the glow of good health" and being "a fine physical specimen".

I wanted these images to contrast with the picture I'm about to paint of the typical resident-in-training.

Throughout my years as a medical student, I used the following terms to describe the physical appearance of most residents: 'soft,' 'doughy,' 'pale.'

'How do they let themselves go like this?' I thought. 'I won't be like that,' I thought.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

(pot, meet kettle)

The jury is in: I've been a resident for the past 8 weeks, and I've already developed a bloom of subtle flabbiness. What once were (slightly) rippling muscles now sag wanly. There are divots where divots weren't before, and bulge-y peaks that I hadn't seen during my carefree days as a medical student.

Oh well... Chalk up my physical well-being to the cost of medical training... It can go on the same tab as 1) all my free time, 2) reading for pleasure, 3) staying up past 9pm, 4) sleeping past 5am, 5) my 20s, 6) etc.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

American Cliches

I count no fewer than 6 typical European stereotypes about Americans (and two hilarious asides) in this article written by a Serbian girl who came to the US to lifeguard at a suburban pool.

An excerpt:

Last year, no one came to my small pool. All day and I'd see nobody anywhere, except when it was time to walk the dogs. Americans do a lot of walking the dog. In Serbia, our dogs know how to go on a walk alone.

The only big one that's missing is a pointed reminder of how fat we all are....even our pets.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

As I cut the grass in our front yard today, I met our new neighbors that have just moved in across the street from us.  Their number consisted of a wife with her toddler-aged son, a mother-in-law, and the mother-in-law's teenage daughter.  I let loose with some of my trademark banter and welcomed all to the neighborhood.

During our conversation, our next door neighbors also came out to meet the newcomers, and they were followed by their cat, Pepper.  Pepper is a very friendly long haired cat that spends as much time in our yard as she does anywhere else, and Jessica has become enamored with her.  As the next door neighbors made excuses for their cat running wild about the neighborhood, I mentioned that we liked the cat, and that Jessica in particular had missed seeing Pepper when our next door neighbors were gone for their most recent vacation.


The mother-in-law's eyes immediately lit up, and evidently hoping to find a playmate for her young grandson asked, "And how old is Jessica?"  I paused for a moment and answered, "She's twenty-five."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Who Am I?

As previously discussed, The Tell played its last show on July 30, 2010 at the Local 506 in Chapel Hill.  Here is a clip of the band playing one of its older, but seldom played live, songs:  Who Am I?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Someone steal my pager...I'm begging you.

Got the following hilarious page from my Chief Resident on Vascular Surgery, regarding a patient whose operation I was scheduled to assist with:

JLlo -- unfortunately, your patient presented to preop with confusion and new o2 requirement -- case cancelled. sorry! (it wasn't because he heard you would be operating on him)

This page was obviously more entertaining than some other electronic gems I received today, such as:

So-and-so, rm ####: Pt also is complaining of indigestion following lunch. XXXX, RN.

or

Rm ####, Pt So-and-so. patient states that his Right foot hurts worse than it did prior to surgery. he states that "the doctor didn't fix anything!" thanks, XXXX, RN.

Obviously, I hate my pager.

Friday, July 30, 2010

This is Why I'm Hot

Yesterday I overheard some of my office staff stating the following two reasons for why I'm considered cool:

1) I'm in a band

and

2) I'm married to a doctor

Finally, I'm getting the street cred I deserve.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What Does an Intern Do?

New doctors in the first year of their residency training are referred to as 'interns' and much of modern academic medicine is built on their backs.

Certainly, internship has a steep learning curve. It is the moment of transition from 'medical student' to 'doctor' and many, many competencies must be mastered.

It is a privilege to have access to all this learning, and the cost of that privilege is scutwork.

Scutwork (also known as 'scut'): Monotonous work or menial tasks that--while not pleasant or fulfilling--have to be done, usually as part of a large complex job or project, often by an underling.

Scut is, by definition, neither direct patient care nor clinically-relevant learning. Unfortunately, all residents (all doctors, for that matter) must manage some degree of scut, but--at least in academic settings--a large portion falls on the intern.

My daily scut work looks about like this:
-enter nursing/medication/diet/imaging/PT/etc orders on the computer
-talk to the ward social worker (now called a "patient resource manager") to make sure that patients' insurance companies will pay for their necessary care
-call Radiology to make sure that all the imaging studies I've ordered will actually be performed
-call the clinical laboratory to find out why missing blood test results aren't back
-make 1289746166739509 follow-up appointments for the patients who are soon-to-be discharged
-write 23891612876498793877466 prescriptions, because every patient goes home on a full pharmacy's worth of medications
-type discharge instructions for the patients who are leaving the hospital
-call Radiology again to inquire why the studies they said would would get done haven't been done yet
-answering plenty of pages from the nursing staff
-change wound dressing, stick fingers in surgically-created orfices, put tubes into various bodily openings

Nonetheless, there are still upsides of being an intern:
1. Painful though it may be, you are still a doctor. You wouldn't have gotten this far if that wasn't important to you.
2. Sometimes (rarely, since you don't know anything) you can actually help people.
3. In one year, you won't be the intern anymore, and you will have an intern of your own to carry out all the necessary but painful tasks of the modern medical center.

The End of The Tell

For folks who may not know, I play bass in a local rock band called The Tell. Tomorrow night is our last show because our lead singer/primary songwriter is moving to Atlanta to go to grad school. I'm pretty bummed about the end of The Tell because, although we are actually quite good, I feel like there was so much more potential then we ever came close to reaching. The band is full of talent and good natured folks, but everyone's "real" lives kept getting in the way. We had planned to record an album of new material at some point during Summer 2009, but getting everyone together for practice or songwriting was always difficult because people just had too much to do, so it just kept getting pushed off until it never happened. Real jobs, bar exams, weddings, new babies, and distance all conspired to make the band meander rather than excel.

Maybe that's what happens with most bands. Maybe there is some broad takeaway about modern society and reaching for too much, but I can't quite put my finger on it. All I know is that finding a very talented group of musicians that are also friends and truly enjoys playing music together is a very rare commodity. And it will be missed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New York Magazine

New York Magazine recently ran a very interesting article on the current trend toward viewing children as 'projects to be perfected.' As my cohort hurtles toward helicopter parenthood, I found Jennifer Senior's critique to be especially apropos.

An excerpt:

"Before urbanization, children were viewed as economic assets to their parents. If you had a farm, they toiled alongside you to maintain its upkeep; if you had a family business, the kids helped mind the store. But all of this dramatically changed with the moral and technological revolutions of modernity.

As we gained in prosperity, childhood came increasingly to be viewed as a protected, privileged time, and once college degrees became essential to getting ahead, children became not only a great expense but subjects to be sculpted, stimulated, instructed, groomed.

The Princeton sociologist Viviana Zelizer describes this transformation of a child’s value in five ruthless words: 'Economically worthless but emotionally priceless.' Kids, in short, went from being our staffs to being our bosses."

Read the rest here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

When I Heard the Learn'd Astonomer

When I heard the learn'd astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and
measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much
applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

-Walt Whitman

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Castle!

A man is the king of his castle. That much is undisputed. But how can a man truly feel like a king when he is relegated to cleansing himself each day with a shower head installed at a height between his belly button and sternum? He cannot!

Pictured: A shower head for peasants

A "master" bathroom deserves a masterful shower head, so I quested over to the local home improvement store and slew a mighty shower head with a mere card sized bit of plastic and brought its carcass home for mounting. BEHOLD WHAT MY TERRIBLE WRATH HAS WROUGHT!

It's good to be King.

A glorious brushed metal shower head with selectable output speeds and, most importantly, an upper vestige level with my own royal head now hangs proudly in the master bath. No more shall I stoop like the serfs gathering their miserable harvests. Instead I shower while standing straight, as I am due by my divine right. One must only look upon this shower head to know that, in addition to my mastery of my castle, I am truly a just and beneficent ruler. My fair Queen is so lithe and dainty that the great heights of the upper shower head escape her grasp. Knowing this, I selected a shower head that will allow for a selection of water flow from both a Kingly height, and a lower level perfect for my Queen, thus preserving peace and tranquility in all the realm.

White Coat Pockets

As an intern, you must travel light but be prepared for anything.

Thus, our white coat pockets are jam-packed with all kinds of essentials.

Here is what I found when I unpacked the 3 pockets of my white coat:

-Resident Survival Guide
-Maxwell's Pocket Medicine
-'Important Numbers' memo book
-Alcohol swabs
-Scissors
-Blood draw tourniquet
-Silk tape
-Prescription pad
-Stethoscope
-Vasoactive drugs reference card
-Diabetes management reference card
-Laminated Duke phone directory card
-Size small gloves (1 pair)
-Patient list
-Note paper with random patient info
-ID Card
-3 paper clips
-2 pens
-1 highlighter
-Penlight
-4x4 gauze pads
-2x4 gauze pads
-Sweet note Matt wrote for me
-Bandaids
-Post-It notes
-Dunkin' Donuts sugar packet
-One dime

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shelter

I've been taking a lot of shelter lately in 1) my long white coat and 2) the fact that I can now call myself "Dr. JLlo".

You see, as the intern, you spend much of your time managing patients on 'the floor' who are either waiting for their operation or recovering post-op....and these patients have a lot of questions.

Fortunately, as a new doctor, I know a lot of stuff.

Unfortunately, most of the things I know are either irrelevant (all the enzymes involved in glycolysis), really irrelevant (how much detergent is left in our jug of Tide at home), or crazy (the entire dialogue of the 2000 Hollywood 'mega hit' Love & Basketball).

Thus, it is hard when patients and families look to me and want (need) answers that I don't have. My policy is to only say what I know and otherwise, defer defer defer. I spend a lot of time explaining the hierarchy of a teaching hospital, and how, as an intern, I have the least amount of experience and the least decision-making clout.

It is easier to say, "That decision is best left to Dr. So-and-so (the boss) because he has much more experience" than to say, "I have no idea." Really, though, these explanations go hand-in-hand.

I worry that patients will give up on me because I often can't answer their questions, but I'm realizing that they don't.... A lot of this has to do with the two things I mentioned at the beginning: the letters M.D. after my name and the white coat I wear. These are powerful symbols that earn new doctors trust and credibility in the eyes of our patients. They make up for our lack of practical knowledge. In these early weeks of my residency training, I feel lucky to have them -- and I hope to become continually more deserving of the authority they give me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dogs are Delightful

Since we moved to our new house, Mitchell has been spending a lot of time snacking on our walks.


Now, Mitchell has always enjoyed grazing. Like, he eats so much grass that I used to worry (does he need more fiber? Is he constipated? Is it because he has colon cancer? Is he going to die tomorrow?). But, after 1.5 years, he's still here (maybe it's a really slow growing tumor?), and I've come to terms with his grass eating... Not to say that it isn't embarrassing when a rabbit hops directly in front of him, and instead of trying to chase it--or even noticing--he just gulps another bite of someone's lawn.

Anyway, I figured his walk-snacking--during which he burrows his nose right into the dirt--was just an attempt to get down to the lowest, juiciest blades of grass. Now, this guy will eat coffee grounds directly from the trash can, so why I thought he was being picky about getting the best grass shoots is beyond me...

Then, one day, Matt comes in from walking Mitchell. "How was your walk?" I ask.

"Good, but Mitchell was really slow because he was eating all those grasshoppers."

"What?"

"Yeah, that's what he's been snacking on -- grasshoppers. Our dog eats bugs."

Matt doesn't know this, but I hate grasshoppers. They are so smug, just staring at you with those bulging bug eyes, hopping just out of reach when you try to catch them. Regular bugs are bad enough, but smug bugs are just unbearable.

Therefore, I was actually a little bit proud that our dog was single-handedly perpetrating a grasshopper massacre. And I couldn't wait to see him crunch down on one of those suckers for myself.

I spent the next days carefully watching every time Mitchell appeared to eat anything on our walks. Grass, discarded chicken bones (don't worry -- I pried those out of his mouth), some scraps of paper, a pebble...but I didn't see any grasshoppers. I figured they must be really small and stay really low down in the grass...

Until this morning...

...when got a good look in a sparse patch of grass and realized that what he is actually eating is bunny turds. Like, literally, the poop left by the neighborhood rabbits as they frolic around.

Delightful.

Monday, July 12, 2010

If Urology Doesn't Work Out

I'm sure I can get a job at the New York Times as a copy editor, because I know I could do better than this drivel opening an ostensible science article:

It’s hard to imagine a more fundamental and ubiquitous aspect of life on the Earth than gravity, from the moment you first took a step and fell on your diapered bottom to the slow terminal sagging of flesh and dreams.

Gag. I may not be an astrophysicist, but I'm pretty sure that gravity does not affect dreams.

Here is the article, if you dare.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

FIGS

Remember my feelings about the mulberries? Well, I have really mixed feelings about these guys...




...that's right. We have figs.

Two huge trees of them.

All I'm saying is, in about 3 weeks, you best leave your car windows rolled up and your front doors locked, because otherwise you're going to find a big box of figs waiting for you when you return. And if you get something in the mail from me, open it right away...leave it out, and it might start to smell.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Financial Lifestyle

Becoming a doctor is a long road fraught with delayed gratification. Like, I'm 25 and just now finally starting my first real job...although working 80 hrs/week for a salary that equates to $11/hr doesn't sound that good. And I won't be an attending physician until I'm 31 (i.e. better wait awhile before signing on the dotted line for that Lexus).

Nonetheless, going from -$50k annually in tuition to +$45k-ish in salary (no big secret here -- resident salaries are set by the Federal Government and more-or-less uniform nationwide) is a big swing and I've been thinking a lot about how I'm going to spend all those Benjamins.

And don't get me started on all they ways I've been mentally spending my future earnings when I'm an attending.... The AAMC quotes average Urolgist earnings to be in the ballpark of $325-425k, which will buy Barbie a lot of pink Corvettes. (Or pay off all of my student loans, which are themselves in the 6-figures.)

So, the point of this post is, I've had money on the brain lately...but, as I go from negative-earner to positive-earner to someday primary-breadwinner, I look forward to continuing to spend smart.

I want to continue to live a 'financial lifestyle' that I can be proud of.

Financial Lifestyle? By that, I don't mean a budget exactly, but rather a balance between luxury and austerity that seems reasonable.

We believe in budgeting, money planning, and living slightly below one's means, but, beyond even that, we believe in buying things that aren't RIDICULOUS.

What is ridiculous? Well, to my mind, it's things like this:


This Waterford crystal retails for, I kid you not, $79.50 per glass. I could have as much money as Bill Gates and not justify that expenditure. Wine glasses chip in the sink, people rap forks against them to make toasts, sometimes guests accidentally-on-purpose take them home after parties... All I'm saying is, if I owned this crystal, when I entertained, I'd be wearing a velvet glove on one hand and holding a whip in the other, just to keep people in line (trust me, that's not a party any sane person wants to attend).

What I'm saying is, no matter how much money we have (or don't have) someday, I want to spend in a way that feels justifiable.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Today



Today:

This morning my car wouldn't start,*
Matt drove me to Duke like a dart,
He went to Autozone twice
To get parts that suffice
Our day was terrible.


*made all the more miserable by the fact that it was 5:25am and I was trying to get to the hospital before the night guy left at 0600

Monday, July 5, 2010

Entryway Styling

Spent some time recently making our entryway look it's best (okay, it's really just the far-left 1/3 of our living room where the front door opens...but doesn't "entryway" sound a lot fancier?).

What do you think?




Sunday, July 4, 2010

What does a lawyer (like me) do?

As a commercial litigator and business attorney most of my job involves taking situations that would otherwise be completely FUBAR and mitigating the damage to make whatever has gone wrong a bit more manageable.


I also specialize in personal injuries as a result of tank accidents

I spend a significant part of my day, like most Americans, in front of a computer. The internet has revolutionized legal research to such an extent that most law offices have either phased out their physical library or are in the process of doing so. I'd like to imagine that this has actually reduced the costs of hiring an attorney because they can access the required information so much quicker (using less billiable hours), but I'm not sure clients would always agree when they see the bill.

Despite the cost, I still think lawyers provide valuable services for their clients. The law is really complicated, and protecting or vindicating your rights is long hard work that most folks have neither the time nor the inclination to perform. So they hire a lawyer to take care of the hard stuff for them. Otherwise, we'd have lots of folks just resorting to "self-help" to recover from those who have wronged them.


This is "self-help" according to law school. Seriously.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cute!

Look what came in the mail for me today!

I used to think that those women (okay, and gay men) who had like 2374129809887645 pillows on their beds/chairs/sofas were *crazy* ... but now I'm becoming one of them. What can I say? Pillows are a room's accessories...and if there's one thing I feel good about, it's accessories!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dining Room Wants...

Feeling really triumphant about the dining room.

It's currently the only room in the house that is done. Well, by 'done', I mean it is not marred by boxes, saddened by bare walls, or shamed by hideous 1970s vertical blinds. It is 'done' in the sense that we could have guests in this room without apologizing (e.g. "Sorry there's no nightstand here in the guest room...our TV is sitting on it right now in the den" or "Sorry there aren't pillows on the couch...we just can't seem to find any we like").

Nonetheless, that doesn't mean the dining room couldn't get *even better*.

Primarily, I've been coveting these last two things to really complete it:







And this wine rack (Crate&Barrel)


We'll see how long it takes to get these or some similar lovelies. I'm keeping my eye open for sales at West Elm / Crate&Barrel, plus watching Craigslist and Ebay. For now, the sideboard (and by 'sideboard,' I mean Ikea Expedit console table) is a fine bar top and my wine glasses will remain hidden in the kitchen cabinets...plus, I've already mentioned my plans for the really unfortunate light fixture...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Family Recipe - Chili

Having go-to meals that can come straight from ingredients in the freezer and/or pantry is a huge-time saver and a great way to avoid what-are-we-going-to-eat stress. This easy, throw-it-in-the-crock-pot-and-forget-about-it chili is that kind of meal for us. (also, today is apparently two-for-the-price-of-one hyphen day)

LLOYD LAWLESS VEGETARIAN CHILI

1 can black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
2 cans no-salt added diced tomatoes, drained
1 can no-salt added whole kernel corn, drained
1 can Hormel chili starter (we like the 'Texas' kind)
(optional: one cup brown rice)

  1. Open all cans and drain all except the chili starter
  2. Pour beans, corn, tomatoes, and chili starter into crock-pot. Mix.
  3. Cook (either at 'medium' for 5-8 hours or 'high' for 3-4 hours...bubbling is a good sign)
  4. Prepare brown rice (in rice-cooker or on stovetop) and mix into cooked chili if desired prior to serving
We top this chili (and, let's be serious, everything else we eat) with cheese. It is also delicious when accompanied by cornbread (at least, I imagine it would be...in what alternate universe are Matt & I prepared enough to have/make cornbread when we are making chili?)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chandelier - Painting Project

The dining room is looking good, but we really need to do something about the old, country light-fixture in there.

Now, I'm going to be generous and say this fixture isn't terrible. It's a little spider-like, I think. In any case, it's not what we need. I'm thinking of spray painting it glossy black. Seems like that will coordinate nicely with our dining room palette of aqua, gray, white, and black. Plus, it should help tie in the black sofa (yeah, I don't love that guy, but it was free and sometimes free trumps stylish).

Friday, June 25, 2010

minor success in the dining room

Matt and I received two gorgeous contemporary 11x14 frames as wedding gifts.

Unfortunately, between our photographer, Photobucket, and the Target photo center, we are being foiled at every turn when we try to print oversize photos to fit these frames.

However, I had to beg Matt to hang them, because I the wall I'd planned to put them on was horribly lopsided in their absence.

They looked really silly displaying the store decal on the wall.


Then, in a moment of genius, I thought of a great temporizing measure...I downloaded a great free font (Traveling Typewriter) from DaFont, typed two quotes from our wedding programsaved them as a PDF, and went to the UPS store to have them printed on 11x17 paper (only 50-cents!).

They turned out pretty cool, I think.

Now, these aren't permanent...I'm still hopeful that we can find some gorgeous black&white photos to put in there. Plus, it kind of kills me that I couldn't print them in white text on a black background (it would look so much better with the white mat), but for 50-cents, it's a darn good temporary fix.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Does a Urologist Do?

As a recent medical school graduate, I will be starting my residency this July. Residency is the period of specialty training that follows medical school, during which new physicians are closely supervised while gradually developing the skills necessary for independent clinical practice.

I have chosen to specialize in Urology.

What does a Urologist do, anyway?

Urology is a surgical subspecialty that treats a variety of diseases affecting the urinary tract, pelvic floor, and reproductive system in men, women, and children. Commonly-seen conditions include genitourinary (GU) malignancies (kidney cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, testicular cancer, etc), kidney stone disease, incontinence, and male infertility. Urologists also perform GU reconstruction following surgery or trauma and repair congenital GU anomalies.

Urology involves a blend of surgical and medical (i.e. non-surgical) disease management.

One side benefit of practicing Urology are the numerous opportunities for bathroom-humor when people ask "what kind of doctor are you?", and then invariably hear "I am a Neurologist," when you say "I am a Urologist." (humor that goes along the lines of "oh, a little farther South...but a lot of thinking goes on down there as well")

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blue Dining Table...Done & Done

That blue table? Well, here it is:



Monday, June 21, 2010

Family Recipe - Aunt Veronica's Spinach & Tortellini Soup


Matt and I eat a lot of salads, but sometimes we run into trouble keeping enough fresh greens in the house...seems like we always buy too little and run out or too much and it goes bad. This soup is a good way to get the good stuff without relying on fresh greens.






AUNT VERONICA'S SPINACH & TORTELLINI SOUP

1 10-oz package frozen spinach (thawed or frozen is okay)
1 package three-cheese tortellini
1 small onion
1 32-oz container vegetable broth
feta cheese to garnish

  1. Bring vegetable broth + 32oz water to rolling boil in large stock pot
  2. Dice onion and add to boiling broth
  3. Add spinach to broth/water (It is fine to add the spinach when it is still frozen...we usually do because who has the foresight to plan ahead and defrost?)
  4. Once spinach is unfrozen and water has returned to rolling boil, add tortellini and cook according to package instructions
  5. Once tortellini is cooked, remove stock pot from heat and add 5-10 ice cubes to stop further cooking (You don't want soggy tortellini)
  6. Season to your taste with salt, garlic, oregano, basil, etc...whatever you have on-hand is good!
Cool before serving. Garnish with feta cheese (don't have feta? try another hard cheese...just avoid anything too soft, because the hot soup will cause it to congeal into a gooey, sticky mess.)

PS. We have to credit our good friend, Veronica, with the origins of this delicious soup.

My Nemesis

Matt and I are fortunate to have a mulberry tree growing in our backyard...and by "fortunate," I mean I hate that tree. It is my nemesis.

nem·e·sis

1. something that a person cannot conquer, achieve, etc.
2. an opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.

Having one's own fruit tree seems really cool and loving...a little bit of farm-fresh wholesomeness in the suburbs. WRONG. All this bastard does is drop sticky, gooey, smelly berries *all over* the driveway. They stain the concrete, they attract flies, and they look awful.


Bane of my existence.


Now, you might ask, 'well, JLlo, why don't you just pick the berries and eat them, before they fall on the driveway?' Yeah, that seems logical, until you realize that all the berries are in the tallest branches, way out of my reach, or even Matt's. I thought, maybe, that some local birds might eat them, but apparently nature is constantly foiling me, because the birds just look at the mulberries and laugh.



So, I end up sweeping all the berries off of the driveway...which is not without it's own insanities. Mostly, the grass that borders the concrete is so heavy with mulberries, that, if you just touch a single blade of grass with the broom, it somehow catapults like 30 mulberries from their grassy resting place back onto the driveway.

How much RoundUp does it take to put down a mulberry tree?