Sunday, August 21, 2011

Boys will be...disgusting

As part of my Urology residency, I am spending 4 months in Asheville, NC working at the Asheville VA hospital.

Fortunately for me, the VA puts all visiting residents up in housing across the street from the hospital.  My apartment can be described as quite dilapidated serviceable.

While the accommodations are on the verge of being condemned leave something to be desired, I was quite happy to see that there was a washer and dryer in the unit.

Now, the last three successive occupants prior to me were all men.  And, I'm coming to realize, NOT laundry experts.

I washed my first load this weekend and then put it in the dryer, happily utilizing one of the dryer sheets from the box left behind by the resident who lived here before me.  Who doesn't love free dryer sheets?  It seemed like an auspicious start.

The machine rattled and hummed, in the standard fashion.  However, when the buzzer sounded, my clothes were a hot, humid, damp mess.

I put them in for more time.

Again, the buzzer sounded -- still wet.

At this point, I realized I hadn't checked the lint trap.  And based on what I found, neither had the last three people who used the dryer over the past year...

It's hard to tell from the photo, but this thing was a good 9" long and 3" high.

I was appalled.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bike vs Car

Our friend Mark has a cool blog called Bike v Car.  Mark got a new car and a new bike on the same day and he has challenged himself to put more miles on the bike than on the car over the coming year.  So far the demands of modern life have allowed the car to jump off the line to a comfortable lead, but the challenge year is still young and, no matter what, the blog is full of Mark's great shots of the English countryside that serve as the backdrop for many of his bike rides.

Obviously, every time I check out Bike v Car I am overcome with jealously that Durham Salad Days does not have its own Bike v Car challenge.  Don't worry, I'm not going to start doing anything crazy like actually riding a bike, but I will present you, my gentle readers, with two of my favorite videos of supreme vehicle control and general derring-do in the hopes of settling the question of superiority between bikes and cars.

First, Danny Macaskill has a pleasant bike ride through an old train station:

Second, Ken Block goes motoring outside Paris:

One video has the best stunts, and one has the best soundtrack.  I suppose it's a tie.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Men are from Mars

While Matt was busy constructing an amazing work bench, I was cruising the Internet and encountered the following quip in this random blog post:

We have married friends who told us a story about when they were in college and had gone out on their first date together. The next morning, each one went down to get breakfast in the dining hall of their respective dorms. She sat down with her cereal and thought about all of the details of last night’s date: Did she like him?  Did he like her? What might happen next?  What would her friends think of him?  When should the meet?  Where would the go next?
But what did he think about when he sat down to eat his bowl of cereal? In his words,  “I was just thinking about the cereal.

I just had to laugh.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Shop Also Rises, Part I: Workbenches

There is no denying that the inside of our home is extremely comely.  Our cute one story brick house has been done up to the eight and a halves (would be "the nines" if only I would finish our bathroom renovation...), but it's low slung brick facade hides a secret.

A menacing secret.
Below our small house hides a HUGE unfinished basement.  Frequent readers of this blog already know that our basement exists, its walls are an ugly green, and it is primarily used for the storage of a mountain of cardboard boxes.  From the very beginning, I knew that the basement had the potential to be more than just a room full of junk, and growing up helping my Dad with "Appalachian" wood projects taught me that a true man needs to have a shop of some kind.  I figured that I owed it to myself to create a shop down in the basement.

Pictured:  Manliness
When I started putting the "shop" together, it mainly consisted of my excellent Ridgid compound miter saw (a wedding gift from college roommates) sitting atop an old desk, so my first order of business was to knock together a couple of workbenches from 2X4s and 1/2 inch plywood.  I built a matching pair to a comfortable height for me with the table top of each just below my elbow. I also added locking casters to the bench on the right so that bench is free to roll across the concrete basement floor.

Mobility = Versatility
 Next, I added pegboard and pegs to the rear of the stationary workbench for storing frequently used hand tools.  I also organized most of my small parts and fasteners that were scattered throughout the basement and placed them in a red small parts bin and set it on the stationary workbench.  I drove nails into the stationary workbench to hang additional tools and accessories.  Finally, I placed the miter saw on the mobile workbench for cutting wherever the project demands!

 With the workbenches done and against the wall, I moved the old desk in behind to use as an auxiliary service and staging area.  Despite what the pictures show, I'm trying to prevent the old desk from becoming simply a place for stashing junk... we'll see how that goes.

There's a shop somewhere under all that mess.
That's it for Part I.  Stay tuned for an exciting sequel in which the shop obtains a new tool!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Facebook serves a purpose other than procrastinating...?

Take a look at this interesting article, about how Facebook helped a woman get the right diagnosis for her sick child.

Maybe all those online over-sharers are on to something?  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Feature -- This Will Never Get Old

Can I profess my undying love to Pandora?

#1.  Who isn't in love with the opportunity to handcraft his/her own personal radio stations?  Mine are obviously filled to the BRIM with Katy Perry and every wailing pop hit produced in the 1980s.

#2.  Pandora will clue you in on jams you would have otherwise missed.  Like, I had no idea that my own heart was beating to the power ballads of the sister-duo Heart (uh, All I Want to Do is Make Love to You?  Epic.)

#3.  You can play it ANYWHERE.  Home, work, on your phone....  Score!  I mean, the opportunity to display my adoration of both Rhianna and Journey in the doctors' workroom and then in the OR minutes later with just the click of a button is a modern miracle.  (As a sidenote, I have no pride.)

Pandora -- that will never get old!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Rapture

Everyone make it through the Rapture last Saturday intact?

***warning:  things are about to get really sappy.  stop reading now if you are weak of stomach***

Matt and I were discussing the upcoming end of days on Friday night (one day prior to the impending event) and he said the following, which immediately catapulted onto the list of 'top 10' most loving things said in our relationship:

"I don't really care if anything does happen, because I'm pretty sure that where ever I end up, you'll be there with me."

Then--ever the romantic--I said, "Yeah, but are you going to do the laundry?"  (**just kidding...sort of)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

If this is an emergency...

This month, I've been working at a smaller, community hospital affiliated with the large academic center where I mainly spend my time as a Urology resident.

It's really different here -- everyone knows everyone, the ancillary staff takes a ton of initiative to solve problems before running them up the chain, there is less paperwork, the nurses take verbal orders, the patients are less's a pretty sweet deal all around.

I discovered one of my favorite aspects of this smaller hospital late one night when I was on call.  I had a medication question and I asked the switchboard to connect me with the pharmacy.

The phone greeting went like this:  "You have reached the overnight Pharmacy line.  Please listen to the following list of telephone options; however, if this is an emergency or you are a physician, please dial 1 now to speak with a pharmacist immediately."

I have never felt more important in my life.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Check it out!

Remember a couple of months ago, when I mentioned coveting this sofa to replace our old, black dinosaur couch?

Old couch -- Not Dreamy

Well, when Macy's offered a big markdown on the price recently, it was too good to resist.
Matt can't resist

She looks pretty good in the living room, doesn't she?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Seriously, what have we been doing...?

So, what have we been doing, really, during these long two weeks of non-posting?

Short answer:  Nothing exciting

Long answer:  Lots of stuff. 

1.  Cutting down a cedar tree in our front yard.

We are TERRIBLE at documenting 'before' pictures
Amputated Stump
2.  Taking out two big, dead branches from another front yard tree.  (this actually brought the neighbors out onto their front stoops...which is good, because we needed someone around to call 911 if things didn't go according to plan)


3.  Clearing some brush and vines from the back driveway and pruning our front yard shrubs.

Note that these plants now look vaguely bush-shaped.  They didn't before...

4.  Nursing terrible cases of poison ivy (we had to take prescription medicines to keep from scratching ourselves into oblivion).
Ouch.  Also, Yuck.
 5.  Putting up a pull-up bar in the basement.
6.  Washing Mitchell with his new, fancy kelp and tea tree oil shampoo.

7.  Taking the last step of the US Medical Licensing Exam.
8.  Watching Thor at the movie theatre.
9.  Painting three frames for the office.

10.  Hanging various diplomas and school accolades in the office.

11.  Potting geraniums for the front stoop.
These looked better before they were battered by a tornado-esque storm last night

12.  Going to a Kentucky Derby viewing party.
13.  Repainting a plant stand for the living room.
14.  Trying a last-ditch relocation effort to revive the dying plant that lives on the plant stand.
This guy still looks awful.  Black thumb strikes again.

15.  Scheduling dentist and optometrist appointments. 
16.  Buying a weedeater, lawnmower, and wheelbarrow.
17.  Buying new shoes for summer.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Look at this STAT

Have you noticed that there haven't been many posts on this blog lately?

Well, it's probably because I've been watching this video again and again and again.

Check it out immediately (or sooner).

PS.  If you have a sensitive stomach, maybe don't watch it while you are eating...

Saturday, April 30, 2011

To Box or Not to Box

There are two types of people in the world:
those who obsessively hoard cardboard boxes for some unknown packing apocalypse and those who mercilessly throw them away.

Obviously, I've been a compulsive box-hoarder since conception.  I mean, duh, right?  You never know when you might need to instantaneously move your entire household under the cover of darkness with only a few hours notice -- and when that day comes, I'll be ready.  No Hefty bag packing job for me!

In contrast, Matt utterly fails to see the utility of saving EVERY BOX that ENTERS OUR HOUSE.  He says things like, "they clutter up the basement," "we can buy boxes someday if we move," and "given the general lack of civil unrest in Durham, North Carolina, the chance that we'll have to pack up and leave immediately under the cover of darkness is very low."   A personal favorite of mine was the following:  "there are spiders living in there."

However, we're at a great impasse, because the one thing Matt hates more than my box pile in the basement is cleaning up the basement.  So, looks like this cardboard box Machu Piccu is going to stay put for awhile.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Curiosities at the Hospital

I am continually fascinated by just how fat Americans are able to become.

Like, people can get so fat, that Medicine had to come up with a word for the extra gut that hangs down and makes a fold over your lower torso--that 'body part' is called a pannus.  I'm pretty sure that word didn't exist 100 years ago, because No One Was That Fat.

I recently discovered that our equipment room on the Urology floor has a bin full of "retracted penis pouches".  Now, I am a doctor, training in Urology, but even I had to read the package insert to figure out what the heck these were.

I'll spare you the gory details, but it's basically a urine collection device that can be used on a man who is so fat, that his fat has actually mounded up and completely obscured his man-parts.  (This problem is so common that someone actually had to invent a device to address it...?!?!?!)

All I'm saying is, if you are So Fat that your fat starts engulfing other parts of your body--such that they cannot be seen or recognized any longer--you need to put down the chicken strips, the french fries dipped in mayonnaise, and your bucket of Mountain Dew and go for a walk.

PS.  Yes, the 'retracted penis pouches' are next to the 'large scrotal supports'.  Let me just say that being a Urologist is a very *interesting* job, and there is really no limit to how large a scrotum can become.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Threat to All

I don't like jellyfish.  They sting, they are disgusting, and they can make one of my favorite activities (playing in the ocean) a total drag.  Once, one almost ate my sister, so it's kind of personal.  Needless to say, I HATE the lion's mane jellyfish:

Why are you swimming towards it?
According to Wikipedia, these foul behemoths can be up to 120 feet long (longer than a blue whale) and trail over 800 stinging tentacles.  I don't think I'll ever have another night's rest knowing that these gelatinous abominations roam free in our blue oceans.  They hover soundlessly just beyond the breakers.  Their neutrally buoyant tentacles softly probing the shallows for the taste of the coveted flesh of man.  With primordial patience they wait, counting on the inevitable evolutionary mutation that will allow them to leave the confines of the ocean and lay waste to mankind.  There is only one way to meet this threat.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Get On It

Remember when the "Do Not Call" registry came out, and you were able to submit your phone number, such that it would become *illegal* for telemarketers to contact you?

Well, there is now something similar for catalogues.

Register at the website (you do have to give them some personal info, but it all seems very official) and then you can specify all of your various catalogue preferences, telling companies which ones to keep sending you, which ones to send less frequently, and which ones to Never Send Again.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Managing Expectations

A lot of being a successful doctor is managing the expectations of your patients.

It is important to say things like:
"after your surgery, you will have pain."
"after your surgery, you will have to get out of bed and work with Physical Therapy."
"after your surgery, you will not be allowed to eat Bojangles Atomic Chicken strips on post-op day 1."

Despite our best efforts at expectation management, patients all too often seem to arrive to the hospital thinking they are about to go on the health-care equivalent of a 7 day cruise.

We hear a lot of things like:
"Can I have another drink?  A Sprite?  No, a Ginger Ale.  Wait, definitely a Ginger Ale, but if it isn't Canada Dry, then actually I want a Diet Coke."
"Do you guys have a long-distance code in here?  I have to call my cousin in Albuquerque.  I haven't talked to that guy in months."
"Would you trim my toenails.  They are nasty."

Given this apparent confusion, all I'm saying is, Do We Really Need TOWEL ANIMALS!?????!?!??!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sometimes Patients Make You Feel Bad

At the hospital, I meet many new patients every day.  Sometimes, I introduce myself as "J" and other times, I'm "Dr. Llo."  There's not clear rhyme or reason to when I pick which title, but I tend to use "J" with the very young, the very old, people who look like they might be fun to get a drink with were we meeting under different circumstances, and always with patients who are themselves physicians.  In contrast, I make sure to use "Dr. Llo" with patients who are angry, unruly, or have already called me "Nurse" (these patients are usually talking loudly about inane stuff into their cellphones and say things like 'hey, hang on, my nurse just walked in', yeah, I didn't go to 4 years of medical school, pass three national licensing exams, and give up my twenties to be called "nurse"). 

Tonight, a patient came up from the Emergency Department after breaking his tibia falling off of a ladder.  He was a relatively healthy, middle-aged guy who had been painting his house prior to putting it up for sale.

So, after putting in a few orders for pain medicine and a meal tray, I went to the patient's room.  All new arrivals to the service need to be checked out by a doctor following admission, plus I figured a little TLC would smooth over what I'd heard was a long wait in the ED.

As it so happens, this patient did something sort of boldly obnoxious that had not yet happened to me in my almost-10 months of being a doctor.  And he really, really irritated me in doing it.

You see, I walked in and--based on my split-second assessment of his posture, his age, his mood, etc--decided that I would be "Dr. Llo" in my interactions with him, because he just looked a little bit surly. 

"Hi Mr. SoandSo.  My name is Dr. Llo.  I'm one of the night doctors on Orthopedics" [aside:  I'm covering Ortho this month].

"Who are you?"  he asks.

"I'm Dr. Llo.  I'm one of the night doctors on Orthopedics."

"And what is your first name?"

Obviously, I don't love this question since I'd already decided that I wanted him to call me Dr. Llo, but I answered, hoping my ever-so-slightly reluctant tone of voice would clue him in to the fact that I've not invited him to refer to me by my first name--especially since I was referring to him as 'Mr. SoandSo'.  "My first name is J," I told him.

And then we talk...about his long wait in the ED, the 10 feet of his house he has left to paint, the plan for his operative tibial repair.  And the whole time, he's calling me J, in a way that feels simultaneously aggressive and dismissive.  I was so mad...and what kills me is, if he was just a little less threatening to begin with, I probably would have introduced myself as J in the first place!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Feature -- This Will Never Get Old

Anyone who exercises regularly knows that the hardest part of actualizing any given aliquot of exercise is getting yourself off the couch and out the door.  Seriously, if even one neuron in my brain thinks 'exercise,' it's like the couch deploys some sort of flesh magnet and I'm incapable of getting up before watching like four straight episodes of the Millionaire Matchmaker.  And, by then, I'm hungry, making it easy to rationalize that I can't exercise in some sort of horribly malnourished state, at which point I eat a snack, and then rationalize that 'I'm way too full to exercise...If I try to do anything, I'll puke for sure...Best go see what's on TV"...and the whole process starts anew.

Well, having gone through this song-and-dance about 23970572587320598 times before, I demanded that we buy an exercise bike for our basement as soon as we moved into our house last summer.  We got a real gem from Craigslist...and I was able to bargain the guy down on the price!

Basement Exercise Wonderland...?

Now, I'm not saying it's easy to work out in the basement, but I can do it while watching back episodes of Glee on my laptop, which is a pretty good motivator.

Being able to work out without leaving home -- that will never get old!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Words Are My Tools

As an attorney, writing is most often the most important task I perform each day.  Since my profession requires so much writing, it is with some embarrassment that I admit that I have only recently read George Orwell's classic 1946 essay on good writing,  Politics and the English Language.

According to Orwell, a scrupulous writer, he will ask himself at least four questions in every sentence he writes:

1. What am I trying to say?
2. What words will express it?
3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more:
[5]. Could I put it more shortly?
[6]. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

Fortunately or unfortunately, my law practice affords me few chances to explore the universe of metaphor.  However, I constantly ask myself questions 1, 2, and 6.  Especially 6.  I may be extremely dorky, but some of the most fun I have at work is writing in as clear and concise language as possible.

Orwell closes his essay with some great rules of thumb:
(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

A Station Wagon

The primary thing that gets me out of bed (slowly and begrudgingly) to head to the office each day is money.  Money is very important because, when we have enough of it, we can trade that money for a station wagon.  J-Llo loves station wagons, and as her dutiful husband, I fully support her.

Not just any station wagon.
The Cadillac CTS-V is rear wheel drive, has a supercharged V8 that produces 566 hp, and comes with a six speed manual transmission.  All that in a STATION WAGON!

In short, it is everything I have ever wanted out of a car.  I would like mine fully blacked out and in my garage right now.

My primal desire for this car overrides all rational arguments against it, such as:
  1. The ridiculousness of spending lots of money on a depreciating asset.
  2. The $2,600 gas guzzler tax included in the purchase price, as well as fuel costs in general.
  3. My repugnance to purchase a vehicle from GM due to their demonstrated commitement to making low quality cars over the last 30 years.
  4. My repugnance to purchase a vehicle from GM due to my own radical political beliefs.
  5. There is nowhere to legally use even half of the horsepower of that car.
Just imagine 566 roaring horses underfoot with plenty of room in back for dogs and guitars.  Seems like a no-brainier to me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


As we round the 4.5 month mark of our hall bath renovation project, Matt and I were finally feeling like we'd made some good progress.  We thought the finish line was in sight.

That is, until we made a list of everything remaining to be done:

-Buy shower curtain and rod
-Install shower curtain
-Hammer-in trim nails and putty over
-Select corner trim
-Install corner trim
-Select baseboards
-Install baseboards
-Patch closet walls
-Buy trim for closet shelf supports
-Reinstall closet shelves
-Paint closet and shelves
-Unclog shower drain
-Clean bathtub
-Patch drywall around light switch
-Tape edges for painting
-Prime/paint white elements
-Touch-up paint gray elements
-Hang fixtures
-Hang storage shelf

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Feature -- This Will Never Get Old

Here on DSD, we have previously discussed some of the highlights of dog-ownership.

Indeed, along with highlights, there are also some pitfalls.  For example, Matt and I can only fondly remember our halcyon pre-dog weekend mornings of lazing in bed till almost noon.  Now, our furry alarm clock makes sure we wake up the same time on Saturday and Sunday as any other day of the week... which leads to a favorite game of mine, called "Playing Possum," in which I pretend to be asleep until Matt wakes up and takes him out.  Granted, waking up Matt takes only slightly longer than it took to build the transcontinental railroad, so some patience is required.  (Marriage is not for the faint of heart).

Indeed, early AM wake ups aren't Mitchell's only specialty.  He also has an innate knack for puking in the least opportune places.  Our entire house has hardwood floors.  Seriously, we own about 30 square feet worth of rugs in a 1600 square foot house.  Yet, every time Mitchell has yakked in the last year, he has deposited his gastric bounty on some sort of carpeted surface.  We might as well be buying stock in Resolve carpet cleaner, as much as we go through.

Nonetheless, Mitchell brings us great joy, in terms of his love and affection, loyalty, hilarious antics, etc... BUT, let's focus on what's really important -- his physical appearance.  Mitchell is incredibly handsome, and that handsomeness is especially set-off by his four white paws and white tail tip.  I kid you not when I say that Matt and I mention four-white-paws-and-white-tail-tip almost daily in conversation. 

Four white paws and white tail tip -- that will never get old!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kicking a Widgets Nest

I really enjoyed checking out Jllo's blog post below involving treating teachers as professionals.  I would highly recommend reading the entire series if you are at all interested in U.S. education policy.  I've always been extremely interested, somewhat secretly, in what can be done to cause real improvement in the educational system in our country in a way that reduces the horrific educational outcomes suffered by those students at the worst schools.  I know... a pretty simple problem I should have been able to figure out while showering or commuting.

Pictured:  a hotbed of critical thinking
The sad truth is that we (as a nation) throw tons of money at capital "E" Education with little to show for it.  According to the Department of Education, we have increased per pupil spending by 360% in inflation adjusted dollars between 1960 and 2007.  I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I doubt that anyone would argue that our ability to educate students has increased by 360% over the last 50 years, and I imagine quite a few folks would agree educational outcomes in this country have decline despite the great influx of cash to the system.

For the 2007-08 school year, Washington, D.C. spent $24,606 per pupil.  I happen to know of an excellent parochial school in northern Virgina that will provide a superb education even to folks like me who are not of their preferred religious persuasion for $15,350 for the 2011-2012 school year (more than double what it cost when I enrolled as a lowly frosh in 1998!  Alas the perils of inflation).  It's even cheaper if you happen to identify with their particular religious affiliation.  They will also dunk on your universe in basketball, no extra charge.

If anyone 1) reads this blog, 2) has made it this far down my post, I will now present my solution to the educational malaise of this country that I thought up entirely by listening to people smarter than me:  educational vouchers for all.  Vouchers of the kind championed by the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation (they were really smart and average .5 Nobel Prizes in Economics between them.).  The argument goes like this, in brief:

1. It is socially/morally/politically desirable for the public at large to finance the education of the youth of the nation.
2. The primary beneficiaries of a publicly financed education program should be the children, parents, and society at large.
3. In general, parents have the greatest interest in securing a quality education for their children.
4. The current system of government schools severely limits parents choice in the education of their children and places greater powers with administrators and political entities, i.e. school boards and departments of education.
5. The lack of parental choice and competition among schools severely erodes the incentive for current government schools to pursue excellence in education.
6. The burden of poor public schools and no school choice falls disproportionately on families of limited means.  They are stuck sending their children to public schools because they cannot afford to pay twice for the privilege of attending private schools; once in taxes that go to fund the public schools and then again in tuition to the private school.


1. Each child, via their parents, should receive a scholarship (voucher) redeemable in the amount of the per pupil spending in the child's local government school system for use towards tuition at any school, including other government run schools, so long as the school meets some minimum requirements.  For example, suppose Durham County spends $9,041 per pupil per year.  Under the voucher system, each Durham student would receive a scholarship in the amount of $9,041 towards the tuition at the school of her and her parent's choice.
2. The minimum requirements to qualify as a school under the program should be a minimal and consist only of bottom-line requirements of literacy and civic education.  The requirements should as unobtrusive as possible and be enforced similar to current health inspections at restaurants.
3. As a consequence of this program all parents will be free to select the best schools for their children.  Schools that provide excellent educations will prosper and thrive as more parents seek to enroll there, and schools that provide substandard educations will wither and close.
4. New private schools, whether non-profit, for-profit, or parochial will be established to serve increased demand.
5. Students from disadvantaged background will have a chance to escape the crippling cycle of poverty and poor education provided by the worst of the public schools.
6. Education standards will rise across America as schools increasingly compete with one another to provide greater educational value at lower cost.

Ta-da!  Problem solved.  Seeing as folks have been advocating this plan for more than 60 years, and yet it is in effect almost nowhere, lots of people are against this plan and for varying reasons, but it seems to make sense.  I'll leave it to our buzzing commentariat (ha ha!) to pick it apart.  But beware, Milton is watching you.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Taking Stock

Ran across the following statement recently and it has stayed on my mind since that first reading:

"We live in a world of infinite possibilities and it creates the illusion that the time to embrace them is also infinite."  (here)

Years ago, a gray-haired attending physician sat me on his knee (metaphorically) and told me, "Jessica, one's college years and early twenties are about opening doors.  You work as hard as you can to open as many doors for yourself as possible.  But, then comes the time for making choices, for narrowing your focus.  The fact is, your late twenties and early thirties are about closing doors."

These statements are sisters, really, all about the finite nature of our time here and the inherent, if unspoken, abandoment of certain opportunties that travels hand-in-hand with our decision to actively pursue the futures we choose for ourselves. 

Every Spring holds the memory of the Winter that came before it, and the Autumn that will come after; every choice holds the ghosts standing behind the doors we closed along the way and the stillborn future we will never know. 

As I make the transition from strictly door-opener to sometimes door-closer, I find myself taking stock.  Indeed, I am quite satisfied by the life I've made thus far, and the people in it; however, that doesn't mean that I don't occasionally take a brief moment to mourn those paths I didn't choose along the way.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How Good Life Is

For those of your who are medically inclined (or economically inclined, perhaps), this NYT article about hemodialysis is food for thought.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Feature -- This Will Never Get Old

Welcome to this week's Friday Feature.

Today, I want to recognize my Android phone as being continually awesome.

As a medical student, I had classmates with smart phones...they were so slick and shiny, so useful for problem-solving on the go, so emblematic of post-modern coolness.

Obviously, I was desperate for one... But, they were expensive.  And I was a medical student -- which is to say, broke.  Well, broke implies having no money, whereas what I actually had was *negative money*, in the form of tons of med school debt.

As such, I couldn't justify adding an additional $100 on my monthly loan bill for a smart phone.  So, I made due with a really dumb phone... no Internet, no texting, a broken antenna, a spotty battery, the whole deal.  All the while, I promised myself that as soon as I got a job (started residency), I'd get a smart phone.

Three years pass, and the day finally comes.

I've had my Droid for 10 months now, and I remain continually in awe of all of its features and the myriad ways it has both simplified and enhanced my daily routine. 

Having a smart phone...That Will Never Get Old.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who wants to be a widget?

I thought this opinion piece in the NYT really hit the nail on the head with regard to some of the major problems with education here in the US.

"Great teachers are among the most respected people in our society. We revere the teachers who shaped our lives and who go the extra mile for our children. It’s the teaching profession that has a status problem"


Monday, March 28, 2011

The Green Hills of Earth, Part I

For those of you that have not had a chance to visit our delightful home, I must regretfully inform you that the landscaping will not win any awards (except perhaps any awards given for apathetic mediocrity).  We have our share of bushes, flowers, and blooming trees, but there is no order to the chaos as, despite my complete lack of credentials and a record of borderline flora-cide, I have been appointed Captain of the Landscape and Viceroy of the Out of Doors.

My plan is to glare at the plants until they grow.

Fortunately for me, the responsibilities of my office are quite manageable due to the domination of 3/4 our vast territory  by a particularly robust strain of fescue grass.  Our native tall fescue may not be particularly beautiful and may often be mistaken for crabgrass, but it does have its virtues.  The fescue is 1) tough enough to withstand the seriously hot North Carolina summers and 2) green.

This grass is just spoiling for a fight.
Unfortunately, the other 1/4, and the 1/4 of the yard in the front of the house and facing the street is under the shade of trees and is currently a grass-less wasteland.  It is with heavy heart that I now realize that the Spirit Rover likely never made it to Mars, but is lost in vast seas of sand and rock in our front yard.

My mission is to bring life to that barren rock.  Our neighbors say it cannot be done, that previous attempts to terraform the land have been all for naught.  It is a desperate mission, but one that I must undertake.  I'm sure we'll see results in no time.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Feature - This Will Never Get Old

I love hearing foreign accents.  I think it's because I crave novelty.  All people do, to an extent.  That's why we try new restaurants, why we dismiss the perfectly good old clothes in our closet, and why we tire of the hum-drum routine of our daily lives.

However, there are some things that will never get old.  In an effort to add some scheduled content to the blog, and to honor-roll those really superlative aspects of my life that bring ongoing joy despite being old news, I'm starting a Friday Feature called "This Will Never Get Old."

First featured item, my white coat waist band:

See, when you are a medical student, you have to wear a short white coat.  It's hip-length, and is a visual marker that you are still in training.  Lots has been written about short white coats, for example, here, here, here, here and here.  Like any blazer or similar-length item of outwear, there is no waist band.  However, as a medical student, your role in the hospital is essentially that of a Sherpa -- it's the price you pay for people higher up on the totem pole teaching you things; you are expected to have on your person anything that they might need.  On any given day, I would have the following, plus more:  ID badge, stethoscope, cellphone, 2 notebooks, 3 small reference books, 2 black pens, 1 blue pen, 1 red pen, 1 highlighter, 1 penlight, 1 black Sharpie, gum, a granola bar, paperclips, a small bottle of water, peppermints, silk tape, paper tape, bandage scissors, alcohol wipes, an OR cap, lotion, 4x4 gauze squares, 2x2 gauze squares, hospital progress notes, and an admission packet.

I mean, seriously, as a medical student, if I found myself alone in the Paraguayan wilderness with just my short white coat, I probably could have survived for at least 25 days...and maybe launched a satellite into outer-space to triangulate my location and teleport me back to civilization, all with the pounds and pounds of miscellany in my white coat pockets. 

Now, given that the coat was hip-length, carrying all this business in my pockets meant that my silhouette was approximately that of the Michelin man.  All of the female medical students bemoaned the way our bursting-ath-the-seams short white coats were so horribly unflattering; we all dreamed of the day that we would have long white coats (as full-on MDs) with waist bands.

All I can say is, it is as good as I thought it would be.  I still have enough stuff in my pockets to storm the beaches at Normandy, but I look about 40 pounds lighter with a coat that cinches in at the waist.  I still smile every time I see my reflection.

White coat waist band...that will never get old.