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.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dive Bomb

I forced Matt to run errands with me today...and I paid the price.

No, Matt didn't complain. 


I got pooped on.

Let me explain.  It was a gorgeous, 70-degree spring day and we were riding around with the windows open, like so:

Then, all of the sudden, something purple, wet, and warm careens through the window, hits my shorts, and ricochets onto the passenger seat.  On further examination (I'm a doctor, so trust me, I'm distressingly well-versed in all things fecal), it was definitely bird poop.  Yuck!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Well, as the case may be, there are only really three presentable rooms in our house.

Those would include the living room, dining room, and master bedroom.  Given that the first two have had their chance to shine, we thought it was time to stop neglecting the bedroom.

This is where we sleep.  And check our email.


Friday, March 11, 2011

As promised...disgusting Tupperware

Recall when I said that Matt has a bad habit of leaving old Tupperware containers in his car, with bits of food that then rot and congeal?

Coincidentally enough, as I was writing that very blog post, there were such Tupperwares sitting in Matt's car!

I discovered these beauties yesterday, on the floor of the garage.  It was not clear if they had fallen out of the car by accident or if Matt had purposely removed them, but then pointedly decided not to bring them inside as some sort of final insult.

In any case, I have previously told Matt that I was not going to be the person who eventually opens and cleans these automotive stink bombs.  After these particular Tupperwares sat on the counter for a day, I re-reminded him of my policy.  You do the crime, you pay the time, as I always say.  Well, seems like right now, Matt is not so much 'paying the time,' but rather 'scampering around on bail, enjoying the slow-moving nature of the hulking American justice system' ... because he sure as heck hasn't touched these containers.

 You may ask, why not just throw them away?  Indeed, not an unreasonable option.  However, these guys are recyclable.  And I have some sort of pathological inability to throw any recyclable object into the regular trash.  BUT...to send something to be recycled in Durham, it has to be clean. Sometimes you just can't win...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Responsible Travel

Recently saw this thought-provoking article in the NYTimes about how to travel responsibly and charitably.

Notable trivia:  this article was written by Kevin Salwen, the father half of the father/daughter team that wrote The Power of Half, about their family's decision to sell their Atlanta McMansion dream home and spend half the sale price toward charity. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dining Room, Revealed

The Dining Room called me last night.  She said she was ready for her close-up.  Not one to disappoint, I obliged. 

Here are the goods:

(If you look carefully, you'll see Mitchell's head poking into this photo.  Always a camera hog, that guy.)

Anyone else get the sense that one wide-angle lens could have decreased the number of photos in the post to A Single Picture?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

1400 Calories Per Day Per Person

Apparently, despite Sub-Zero refrigerators, ultra-pasteurization, chemical preservatives and the growing Slow Food movement, we are throwing away more food than ever. 

Per the New York Times, Americans now throw away food amounting to 1,400 calories per day per person.  Given that the daily caloric requirement of the average person is about 1800-2250 calories per day, that is A LOT.

Read more here.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Living Room, Revealed

After hinting that we had some changes in store for the living room--twice--uh, three times--we thought it was about time to show you.

Without further ado, here it is:

Many thanks, obviously, to Mitchell for sleeping the whole time I was taking these photos and not even offering to help once.  That guy has no shame.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Yuck No More

You may recall my previously-stated feelings about this guy, our dining room light.

Yeah, he's pretty ugly

So ugly, in fact, it took a triple effort between me, Matt, my parents, and Matt's family to finally slay the beast.  I found this gal (seriously, she's too pretty to be a guy), Matt okay'd her, my folks bought her as Christmas present, and Matt + his parents and sister installed her.  Good bye, Mr. Yucky.

the installation process

What do you think of our new, glamorous girlfriend?


Close up of the capiz shell dangling bits: