Thursday, November 6, 2008

don't be shy, don't shut your eyes

Got distracted by the HISTORIC, AMAZING ELECTION (ahem), but did manage to write over 1700 words today, so I'm just barely under pace, even with two days of no writing at all. A huge shout-out to Ben for very sweetly nudging me to get back to it.

I've "finished" an essay on why primary care is still important in our sub-sub-specialist era of medicine, and started one reflecting on the challenges and the crystalline moments in palliative care. ("Finished" in quotations because it's terribly rough and needs tons of editing, but I have to keep reminding myself that that's what December is for.)

Also, I cast off both the Luna Moth shawl and the Adamas shawl today, so ... good day all around, I think. (And I got that second widget working in the sidebar, finally. Plea to web designers: Please don't post sample code with a punctuation error in it. Thanks.) Tomorrow's goals: block at least one of the shawls and write 2500 words. But first, a cozy nap. :)

title from "Be Like Water," by Sarah Fimm.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

- Barack Obama, presidential acceptance speech, November 4, 2008.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

half accidental, half painful instrumental

The NaNo website and associated widgets are not behaving, but ... 5,039 words. I'm almost done with my first essay. That ... was easier than I thought it was be.

title from "Half-Jack" by the Dresden Dolls. Because somehow goth-grunge-trip-hop-punk is what my writing music turns out to be.

Friday, October 31, 2008

i wish i was a writer who sees what's yet unseen

So when the only elective I could register for was another two weeks of radiology, I decided that I didn't have any more excuses, so I'm going to try and do NaNo. Ten essays, 5,000 words apiece, 30 days - piece of cake, right? I am going to try and write more than the average word count I'd need in these first two weeks, because the end of November will be interviews and Thanksgiving and less free time, probably, even though I'll technically be taking two weeks of vacation.

So, there's a new widget on my sidebar so you can see how I'm going, word-count-wise, and I'll try and post here with updates - public failure to finish might help motivate me. I decided to post my notes, thus far - my scribbled thoughts may not make much sense, but I have a few ideas for topics, at least. Anything not on the list that you'd like to see me write about?

- primary care and how it will save the world. (ha. not really.) Radiologist wanted ENT to look at his infected ear, woman d/c from hospital not on warfarin --> in ED two months later c PE. People need to expect more from their doctors. The trap of the specialist perspective. Common sense.

- On bodies, body modesty, viewing people (self included) as bodies, too, not just brains. Looking at their insides, "eww, gross." Body "modesty" as contributing factor to sedentary lifestyle, obesity.

- palliative care, pain control, end-of-life. the guy I'll never forget from research experience. why doctors hate it and why I don't, really. how is this influenced by my own life experiences (or lack thereof). grief. psychiatrist who couldn't treat grieving pt.

- obstetrics in the inner city. frustration, difficulties, "i just keep getting pregnant and i don't know why." troubles with contraception: "i don't want anything up there." delaying own child-bearing.

- how medicine changed me, how I thought it might and how it did. Decisiveness, callousness, comfort level with people not my own.

- how people view their doctors. trust. responsibility. "are you in high school?" how doctors don't have the doctor-patient relationship any more. "who thinks their doctor is above average?" fraternity of mutual silence, united front. self-policing. double standards: our own drug use, etc, vs our patients' drug use.

- why abortion, what people do and don't get about abortion, looking at it from the inside vs looking at it from the outside. S. L. MSFC. Bunker mentality.

- difficult patients. what makes a patient difficult. M. J. why difficult patients get better and worse care.

- pediatrics vs adult medicine: EMLA, murals, art therapy, etc. why do we care for children differently? their fault vs someone else's. pressure (self-imposed) to get it right; disability matters less to us at fifty than at five. integrating consideration for life and life factors into care: teachers, unlimited visiting hours, mental health care.

- CPR, resuscitation, "saving lives," what actually saves lives and what medicine looks like on TV. how TV medicine shapes patients' expectations. how it shapes doctors' expectations.

title from "Wish (Komm Zu Mir)" by Franka Potente, from the movie "Run Lola Run." My favorite techno-German song. Mostly because I don't know any others, but if you've got some to share, I'd be interested for sure. I'm still trying to figure out what the song was that played on German MTV incessantly in 2004, with the video of creepy monster-kids' birthday party - one of those artistic endeavors that was just so bizarre you had to love it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

that time of year when we push ourselves ahead

*deep breath*

So, it's been, um, a while since I was here. Things that happened/were accomplished since July:
- I've applied for residencies (in family medicine, of course) and scheduled my interviews. So that feels good. I'm really looking forward to the interview thing, actually, even though it's going to be tiring and all that, but I'm excited to meet the people I'll be working with for the next 3-4 years, whomever they are. (For the record, in case anyone is interested, I applied to UH here in Cleveland; Montefiore, Beth Israel and Columbia in NYC' Tufts, Boston Univ Medical Center and Lawrence in the greater Boston area; Brown in Rhode Island; and Middlesex and UCONN in Connecticut.)
- Did rotations in emergency medicine and geriatrics, did my acting internship in pediatrics, and am now chilling in musculoskeletal radiology. And kind of scrambling to figure out what rotation I'm doing for the next two weeks, but that's another story.
- Took Step 2 CS! Our clinical skills exam, part of our licensing boards, is a big pain in the butt (expensive, offered in only 5 cities, long and tiring) but I took it in Houston on Monday and now I am done with standardized testing! Until Step 3 in, like, a year or two, but whatever.
- Attended some lovely weddings of family (my cousin Lisa) and friends (my childhood friend Christine). Discovered that yes, it is possible to drive to Connecticut and back to Ohio for a weekend. Thanked God and good fortune that I have a life partner willing to actually do all that driving, so all I had to do was sit and knit and be conversational and not get a DVT.
- I've also been knitting a ton, although, as Ben is quick to point out, I haven't actually finished a project since, like, May or something. However, I believe firmly in the utility of parallel knitting projects and many of them are nearing completion, so stay tuned. I've been working on:
- a shawl of my own design (ran out of (discontinued) yarn on the edging, need to devote some time to emailing Ravelers to see if they'll part with a skein)
- a scarf for my mom's birthday (in May) that I, um, still haven't finished. (There's beading. It's driving me crazy. It will be done by the time I go home in November.)
- a Pi shawl that may or may not be wedding material (halfway through the edging, it started to get not-fun; I'll be picking it up again soon when I'm ready for more finicky knitting)
- a pair of socks that exist solely for portable knitting, which I started during the AAFP conference in August. They'll get finished while I'm interviewing.
- the Luna Moth shawl (ran out of yarn doing the bind-off. This was even more annoying as I purchased three skeins of this yarn, but could not find the third skein anywhere in the house. Since it's only $2.99 a skein, KnitPicks got an emergency order from me.)
- another shawl (noticing a trend?) that may be a gift so I'm not going to say more about it. But I got a lot done while I flew to Houston and back earlier this week, with connections both ways.
However, as it gets colder (and these projects get finished), I think I'm going to transitioning to winter knitting. I appreciate a lapful of wool in November in a way that's just not possible in August. I have yarn and patterns for the Urban Aran, cardigan version (Cascade Ecological Wool in beige) and the Sayuri sweater (Rowan RYC Soft Lux in amethyst or green - I lost it a little when I found it for $1.99/skein, so I bought two sweaters' worth. This is how that excessive stash thing starts, isn't it?), so those will probably be my next projects.

In other news, I'm thinking very seriously about doing NaNoWriMo. (Since their site has been very slow, the short version: November, National Novel Writing Month, write 50,000 words in 30 days. Go.) Except I think I'm going to skip the "novel" business and just try to write 50,000 words of more-or-less non-fictional essays. I've had a few medically-related essays percolating for a while, and this might be a good way to actually get them down on paper. And interview season might be just the right time to reflect on the practice of medicine. And writing ten 5,000 word essays seems a lot more possible at this point than 50,000 words of plot. So we'll see.

Tangentially, I'm loving Genius, iTunes' version of Pandora: you pick a song, and it builds a playlist from your library based on that song. I've been actually listening to music again, and enjoying a lot of the stuff I'd forgotten I had. (If I end up doing the NaNoWriMo thing, I have a feeling it will come in handy.)

title from "The End of Summer" by Dar Williams. Because it's snowing here today.

Monday, July 28, 2008

drive-by posting

Hi! I know, it's been forever. And I'm not even really here (because how do I get caught up on two months?!) except for how I didn't want July to go by (like June almost did) without posting so... hi! How's it going? Here's what's been occupying me lately:

Things that Are Awesome:
- Manhattan. Seriously. I had my doubts about living in NYC but I had a great month when I was there at a fantastic hospital that is basically exactly what I want out of a residency, and I'm getting pretty excited about this next-stage-of-our-careers business.
- The beach. Specifically the beach in Westerly, RI, where Ben and I passed a lovely week with my family and Anna earlier this month. Speaking of...
- Family and friends. A lot of this online silence has been because I've been visiting and hanging out with all the people I love in person, which has been delightful.
- Weddings, other people's. Specified as such because of how you just get to buy presents and show up looking pretty and eat cake and enjoy how much they're enjoying their day. And also because of how we've been to a few lovely ones recently. Planning ours is lots of fun, too, but... see below.
- Being done with Step 2. I think this is self-explanatory.
- Knitting!
- (and, similarly) Reading! (I have actual books to talk about soon!)

Things that Are Hilarious:
- How the Cleveland Clinic starches the scrubs. I always forget this, and then I pull on a weirdly-crisp set of scrubs, and I think about how much better my real clothes would look if someone else tended to them.
- That was actually it, really. Starch! On what are essentially pajamas! I don't even know how (or to be perfectly honest, why) to starch real clothes!
- (The back half of season 3 of Entourage was pretty fantastically hilarious, though, now that I think about it. Highly recommended.)

Things that Will Never Be Done, OMG (even though they totally will be, of course):
- Ordering wedding invitations. Seriously, people: April 25th, 2009. Come hang out. It'll be fun. (I have to think about cardstock weights and ink colors for this?)
- Importing my CV into ERAS* one line at a time. Bah.
- Laundry. Bah again.
- Getting my car to e-check. Mostly because it is so low on my internal list of priorities, I keep forgetting it's, you know, something I have to do.
- Wading through my back-logged email.

Things I'm Looking Forward to:
- AAFP** conference: on Wednesday! (If anyone knows of some crazy-cool hotspots in Kansas City, let me know.) (I'm serious.)
- International Blog Against Racism Week: I talked about this briefly last year, but this is a really interesting (and, for me, a knock-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone) event, and I'll probably be linking around to different posts that I find intriguing. If I manage to blog more regularly.
- Emergency med rotation: So this technically started today, but I enjoyed it a lot and I'm looking forward to the rest of this month. (Which you should all remind me about when I'm cranky from having my circadian rhythms completely disrupted.)
- Being done with ERAS: which is a long way off (see above) but I've got my eyes on the prize, people. Or something.

So, that's ... wow, about all I've done for the last two months. I've been so computer-shy recently that not only have I not been blogging, I haven't been reading at all. So... how've you been?

* ... Electronic Residency Application System? Too lazy to look it up, but you get the gist.
**American Academy of Family Physicians (i.e. my future tribe) (!)

Edited to add: I can't believe it's been 19 days since I've listened to music on this computer! That's... really sad.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

what he said

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for this country that we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs for the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.

- Barack Obama's speech on June 4, 2008, St. Paul, MN (excerpted from transcript here, video available here.) If you're so moved, click to donate to Obama's campaign or to MoveOn.

I have nothing relevant to put here today

Belatedly, the answers to a meme that Sarah tagged me for (and then Ellen tagged me, too, with a slightly different variant, and so I really had to get my act together):

What were you doing ten years ago?

Finishing my freshman year of high school. So... getting ready to go to Girl Scout astronomy camp - correctly termed a Wider Opportunity (I kid you not) - for three weeks (the first time I flew on an airplane without my parents!) and reading unholy amounts of classic SF - that was pretty much The Summer of Asimov. Just starting to think about being an adult. Crushing on increasingly nerdy boys. Starting to question how much of the Nicene Creed I really believed. (And re-reading Contact over and over. These were not entirely unrelated activities.) Probably talking on the telephone a lot - which was maybe by that point cordless. No cell phones! I used my dad's email address! Uphill both ways!

What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

Um, the day is mostly over, so getting to bed at a reasonable hour is the only one on the list, really (and I'm here blogging, so.... that should tell you how well that's going). Things that were on the agenda today were attending my respirator training and fit-testing, which was about as exciting as it sounds. Spending some money at the Union Square Greenmarket because I like supporting these kinds of things - but the rhubarb lady from Monday was not there today, so I only bought a few apples. Registering (finally!) for Step 2 CS and CK, which I did. And, you know, getting up on time, which I did not accomplish, as my cell phone alarm entirely failed to go off. Luckily, Fran woke me up, but, man, I haven't moved that fast in the morning in a while: it was literally ten minutes from bed to subway, people. (I've been showering at night, so that helped.)

What are three of your bad habits?

Oh, my. Just three? Procrastination, although I like to think of it as relaxation time management. Talking before I think (mostly evidenced by me asking you over and over what you're doing this weekend, etc). And my perennial messiness, which I think may count as at least two bad habits - the making of piles (papers, clothes, whatever) and the real lack of attention I give tub, toilet, etc.

What are five places where you have lived?

Um. I totally fail this one. Ridgefield, Connecticut. Cleveland, Ohio. Aix-en-Provence, France. And I guess you could count Queens, New York, although I only lived there until I was two and the only thing I remember is the dog from next door. I've visited D.C. a lot? And, oh, I guess you can count Manhattan now, too, although I've only been here three days. But I'll be here for two months out of the next six, so that's something.

What are five jobs you have had?

Jobs I worked for monetary compensation, in temporal order: Cashier. Biophysics research assistant. College tour guide. Protein crystallography research assistant. Undergraduate admissions interviewer. And that's it, really, unless you count my med school research. Oh, and babysitting, I guess. (Let me tell you about the time I applied for a job at the mall and all I could put on my resume was biophysics research jobs, etc. No, really. I failed to land a job selling cheap jewelry to fourteen-year-olds - it was right around that point that I realized I had better stay in academia until I had enough letters after my name to be employable, because I had absolutely no real-life skills.)

Snacks I enjoy:

Cheese, oil-cured olives, apples, dried fruit and nuts, hummus, chocolate and coffee. And almost any baked good known to humankind.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Probably I'd buy lots of yarn, let's be honest. When I got that out of my system: fund some research into women's and reproductive health issues, because Lord knows the government's not paying to study women's reproductive health choices. Set up one of those Millenium-type prizes for working out a practical method of clean energy production. Maybe fund development of private space travel, mostly because it would be awesome. In terms of philantropy, I'd probably do something like Kiva, to fund microloans (and maybe macroloans, I'm no economist) to entrepreneurs in the developing world, because I think it's really the best solution we've found yet for effectively getting money from the developed into the developing world. And I'd give Greg Mortenson a substantial budget to work with. (I think I'm imagining myself as a multibillionaire, here with this list.)


I have lots to say about NYC, but it's getting late so... suffice it to say that so far it's been great and I'm getting very excited about graduating.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

always getting curious and leaving town

So here I am, posting from New York City! (Thank you, ELWIN, whoever you are, for your unsecured wireless network.) The drive out from Cleveland yesterday was surprisingly enjoyable - I turned on an audiobook and settled in for eight glorious hours where no one's BP meds needed to be held, nobody needed a little something to help them sleep, and no one needed a gold form or a social work consult or a dressing change. I'm not sure what it says when driving aross the boring part of Pennsylvania is a pleasant change of pace, but there was no traffic, no bad weather, no speeding tickets and I got to listen to the entirety of a scifi novel plus a few mix albums of new-to-me music I had downloaded from somewhere or other, and it was really quite a lovely time.

Of course, the down side was that I had to leave town on Ben's birthday yesterday, which really couldn't have worked out worse in terms of timing. I did get to celebrate a little in the morning with some birthday French toast (which I completely forgot to garnish with the birthday candles I had bought and then hid so well I didn't see them, so Ben, imagine there were birthday candles. I'm sorry, hon).

So, now I'm here in New York and I've got orientation at Beth Israel tomorrow at 8:15. I'm going to try and post much more frequently this month, since I know I won't be able to keep up nearly the correspondance I'd like with everyone while I'm gone, so... I'll let you know how things go. Hope everyone had a good weekend!

title from "La Familia" by Mirah, which I've already used but whatever, a little more peppy pop music can never hurt

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

it's back to sleep to re-dream me

I actually have a couple of hours free tonight, and I am too tired to knit. Even surfing Ravelry is making me feel exhausted. Send help. Or possibly caffeine.

Recent happy-making things have been:

- Attending my sister Katherine's college graduation this weekend! Spent less than 24 hours in Rhode Island, but I was able to celebrate with her and my family the night before and see her all dressed up in cap and gown. (Sadly, I had to drive back to catch my plane before she walked, but I was able to wave at her during the procession.) (I'm not sure she reads this at all, but if you're reading, Katherine, congratulations again!)

- Less life-changing, but Ben and I have excavated the office closet and set up a workable desk situation for me. No more laptop at the dining room table! And I got to page through all my old college notes before recycling them, and let me tell you, not only was my handwriting neater and my notes far more carefully taken, I was a lot smarter four years ago. At the very least, I knew far more calculus. (However, I also apparently thought jokes about safer math through parenthesis usage were funny enough to scrawl in the margins of my notes. So it maybe evens out.)

- We also made a lot of pesto and I managed to document the process before returning Jen's camera. (Incidentally ... expect a lot of text here until I find someone who can fix a digital camera for less than $200.) But for now, pictures!

This is just under half of the basil we went through - the other half is already stripped off the stems and soaking in the other sink.

One finished batch with more basil leaves and cheese waiting behind it. (I think I minced something like 20 cloves of garlic that day as well. Our pesto is not particularly subtle.)

The fruits of our labors. As we manage to do every time, we vastly under-oiled it, so the effective volume of this batch is far greater, since we're adding oil to it as we use it. (We've finally figured out it's because the pesto heats up in the processor and we go by texture - which is obviously much firmer once it sits in the fridge for a while. We're learning.)

- Also, we went to see "Prince Caspian" last night and, people, it was excellent! I didn't love the first Narnia movie, actually - I thought the effects were simultaneously overdone and not very good, and the pacing was a bit off, but this one is fantastic. (Also, I am completely envious of Susan's badass-ness and amazing outfits, although where I'd be able to wear a cut-on-the-bias chain mail shirt and leather bustier is ... probably no place I'd want to be, come to think of it. She looked great, though, and I am completely smitten by her archery skills.) The rest of the cast was very good, too, although Caspian's accent was a bit irritating at times (mostly the times it faded in and out during the same scene). It was good enough that I broke out our omnibus edition of The Chronicles of Narnia last night and re-read a bit of The Lion... last night before bed. (I seem to recall Prince Caspian being not that good, and I didn't want to spoil the movie experience.) At any rate, I'm excited that the summer movies are starting to come out, although I'm not even sure what else is on the horizon.

- And it's off to bed with me - when I left tonight, we were four patients over our cap. I don't think tomorrow's going to be any better - we've already got a number of patients waiting in the internal medicine wings for as soon as we discharge our current patients. Wish me luck.

title from "Wake Up Exhausted" by Tegan and Sara. Yes, it's a link to a Grey's Anatomy fan vid. I can't help where these girls got their big break. (Have liked them for years! Since they toured with Ben Folds! God, I'm so curmudgeonly some days.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

to break the still of day

Just popping in here to say that I'm loving family medicine. The patients come into the hospital, they get more or less fixed up, and then the same person follows up with them after their inpatient stay. And, you know, addresses the issues that landed them in the hospital in the first place. Love it. (Additionally, we're only calling consults when we have an actual question for the consultant. My consultant calls are going like this: "We've got a patient who's still having blood in his urine 4 days after his traumatic Foley placement and we've worked him up, done these labs, gotten this imaging and we're thinking it's 60/40 for Diagnosis A vs Diagnosis B but we'd like your input and additionally some recommendations on the current best treatment modalities for either diagnosis" vs "This patient has diabetes and we need endocrine on board. Just because." Incredible.)

I really don't have much else to say, and I'm off to bed in about 5 minutes, but just - *happy sigh* When do I get to go do this full-time for real again?

Also, totally stolen from Ben: go check out Pandora - it's this fantastically fun music streaming site where you enter in one or two of your favorite artists and it builds you a radio station. I've already found 3 new artists whose stuff I love.

title from "Of Angels and Angles," The Decemberists.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

here's wishing you the bluest sky

Book log time! Since the things I'm knitting are a) gifts or b) maybe possibly going to be submitted to Knitty one day. And I haven't cooked anything blog-worthy all week.

Knitter's Almanac, Elizabeth Zimmerman, 1974. I don't usually claim to have "read" knitting books, as I don't really count a pattern book as "reading" but this delightful little volume is really more like a journal with some knitting thrown in than a pattern book. It's the first EZ book I've owned, and I can see why she has such a following in the knitting community: she's smart, funny (in that wry, transplanted-Brit sort of way) and completely on your side. I enjoyed her little asides directed towards the reader and how she simultaneously elevates the craft of knitting to art and emphasizes that it's art anyone can produce. I'm trying to curtail the knitting-related spending, but when I give myself a knitting budget again, I think I'm going to be hunting down a few more of her books.

Worlds of Exile and Illusion, Ursula K. LeGuin, 1964-1967. Three novels in one volume, I read this both to expand my exposure to LeGuin's work and as preparation for writing again. I love how LeGuin has such a sense of the vastness and the continuity of history, how she can link events separated both by hundreds of years and light-years and show you the connectivity among the events, without beating you over the head with it. She's great at world-building, but her characters - like many seem to be in SF - are not particularly well-fleshed out. I was reading this with more of a critical eye than I usually do with fiction, and so I noticed the lack of vivacity her characters have - the reader has a good sense of their motivations, but maybe not for what lies beneath their motivation. Definitely an entertaining and thought-provoking set of stories, but I think LeGuin's preference for the short story shows through here: these seemed to be more novellas than novels.

James Tiptree, Jr: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, Julie Philips, 2006. I'm not quite finished with this one, but it's a biography of one of LeGuin's contemporaries and friends, so it fits here, I think. I first heard about Tiptree from the Tiptree Award, "an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender." James Tiptree, Jr was the pseudonym of Alice Sheldon, a Chicago socialite, CIA agent and psychologist who wrote speculative fiction throughout the 1960s and 70s. Tiptree was secretive and conducted all his SF relationships (many of which turned into deep friendships with editors and other writers, including LeGuin), via letters, and didn't meet any SF colleagues in person until his mother died and correspondants deduced that from that week's obituaries that Mary Bradley, whose obit listed as a survivor her only child, Alice Bradley (Mrs. Huntington) Sheldon, was in fact Tiptree's mother. I haven't actually gotten to that part of the biography yet (but Mary is very ill, so I imagine it's coming), but even if you have no interest in SF, this is a fascinating work. Alice Bradley Sheldon was a remarkable and, really, tragic woman - from her behavior and writings, she was probably bipolar, and bisexual if not lesbian - in an era that didn't really understand either. She led a riotous and richly full life - and a lot of that was probably an underlying mood disorder, but it makes for interesting reading, especially when filtered through Julie Philips' perspective as a woman writing in 2006, and reflecting at length upon the positions, freedoms and restrictions women had over Alli's lifetime, which spanned from 1915 to 1987. I highly recommend this and if anyone would like to borrow my copy when I'm done, just let me know.

The Omnivore's Dilmenna, Michael Pollan, 2006. I'm not sure I can say anything about this book that hasn't been said already, but everyone who eats in the developed world really ought to read it. This, with Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, further sold me on the "locavore" movement. The way food gets grown, transported and consumed in this country is really appalling when you look at it, and the only reason it's worked for this long (since the 1950s or thereabouts) is that no one really had looked very closely at it until now. I think (from my very limited perspective since I wasn't, you know, there) that the organic movement in the 1960s and 70s was reaching for this point but didn't quite get there. And I'm not sure if the research and the information was really possible to obtain to put it all together until now, now that we have a better understanding of the environmental cost of fossil fuels, and how soil architecture works and more independent agencies taking a look at what's going on in terms of our food production. And I don't think it's so much the pesticides, etc, that are the problem -which is why I've always been kind of wishy-washy on the organic thing - but it's the way in which our crops and food animals are being fertilized and growth-hormoned and what-have-you past the point of healthy growth so that they require such intense levels of pesticides and antibiotics to survive: that's the root problem. I've been idly compiling a mental "required reading" list for the post-industrial age - in terms of understanding how our society and our economy works and doesn't work and how it suceeds and fails and why - and this is close to the top of that list.

Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, Atul Gawande, 2007. I still haven't read Complications, but I will have to look it up. I breezed through this, and I enjoyed it a lot - it was interesting to read a surgeon writing for a lay audience from my perspective as someone within the medical field. I appreciate that there are physicians writing about these issues, and forcing change from the inside: I've found there's a lot of resistance among existing doctors towards even conducting performance-based outcomes research, let alone grading/judging/paying doctors based upon those outcomes. But I think it's coming, and frankly, I think it's past due - every other profession in this country is pretty consistently evaluated on their performance in one way or another, and it's the worst kind of arrogance to state that our profession is so special we can't possibly be judged by a standardized metric and we're all performing at the very top of our abilities. Because we're not, and no matter how you look at it, just the act of evaluating performance makes people perform better. Which was part of Gawande's point, I think, and it's certainly something the medical profession - and its consumers and customers - need to hear.


Well, that got a bit long-winded. Events of note in real life, short form, include:

- Ben and I celebrated our "T -1" anniversary on April 25th - less than a year till we get married! We had a lovely dinner in (truffled wild mushroom risotto, which was pretty tasty if I do say so myself) and brainstormed ceremony/vows ideas, which was fun. And also made us realize - again - that we started dating in high school. We were going through this little worksheet thing for vows ideas and it was all "talk about your first date, about how you met each other." And we met on the stage crew for the spring musical and our first date was going for ice cream at Mr. Shane's and I had to be back home at 9 pm because my parents were terrified that I was out with a boy and there was just so much cognitive dissonance there. But it was a lot of fun and while we don't have anything actually written down yet, we have (just less than!) a year and a good sense of what we want from the ceremony, so I think we're in good shape.

- Relatedly, we went to the Unitarian Universalist church last Sunday, and really enjoyed the sermon - a very interesting mediation on the whole Jeremiah Wright thing that I was going to blog about before I got sideswiped by the cold from hell last week. I really enjoy the UU perspective and position as religion/spirituality as a basis for fueling social justice and I think we're both pretty comfortable with the idea of finding a UU minister for the ceremony (and possibly as a spirtual home for our family thereafter as well.)

- Okay, I did say this was the short form, so: starting my family medicine AI tomorrow! (Two months solid of doing what I want to do. I can't wait.)

- Still looking for a place to live in June, but have two possible people from Craiglist and one from the plea I posted in the NYC Ravelry forum, so I'm feeling a bit more settled about that.

- Spent the weekend hiding from the rain by doing laundry and gift-knitting. And rewatching LOTR: The Return of the King. Now I'm off to the gym and the grocery store. How can you all stand the excitement of reading about this?? :)

title from "Better Things," Dar Williams. How is this song not on YouTube?

Monday, April 28, 2008


Okay, I have a journal club presentation to put together tonight and so I'm not actually here posting except: I was (momentarily) procrastinating with the presentation thing and discovered that Kay Gardiner herself favorited my kitchen rug on Ravelry! (I'm not the only one who occasionally checks her projects to see if anyone likes her stuff, right? Right.) At any rate, I'm just sitting here bursting with knitterly pride.

....all right, back to work.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

when May is rushing over you

Eight pounds of strawberries? Is, for the record, an enormous quantity of strawberries. If you were wondering. (Seriously. If you ever find yourself standing in Costco, telling yourself that maybe you might need the second gigantic box of fruit, you don't. Trust me.)

But, now I have 16 half-pint jars of jam cooling on our dining room table. And two cookie trays full of quartered strawberries in the freezer. And, unrelatedly, I may be developing seasonal allergies. I think I'm going to be in bed inside the hour.

For those of you in Cleveland, let me know if you prefer strawberry preserves (whole fruits in jelly, basically) or strawberry-blueberry-raspberry jam. The jam fairy will be making deliveries this week.

title from "These Are the Days," 10000 Maniacs.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

step from the road to the sea to the sky

So the laptop is back home again, virus-free and with freshly-vacuumed hardware. I therefore have access to my food pictures, which may or may not be interesting to you, but... I have no real knitting news, so cooking will have to do.

Ben and I made fresh pasta last Sunday, inspired by Brandon's birthday party fun, and made possible by Lola's generous donation of her pasta machine. (Thank you!) We ate half of it on Sunday, and it was... just okay, which was disappointing. I didn't help matters with the sauce I had made, which was not my finest effort, and the texture of the pasta was sort of soft and rubbery and blah. Which was kind of a bummer after spending two hours preparing it. But! We made the rest of the batch on Thursday with an alfredo-type sauce, and it was fantastic - either the pasta seasoned itself in the fridge a little, or we kept a closer eye on the cooking of it or something, but it was very satisfying and something we will definitely do again. We also made garlic cheese bread, more or less on the fly, and that also turned out very well. So, for your culinary enjoyment, some recipes:

Almost Guilt-Free Cream Sauce (no, really):
1. Make a roux: melt 1-2 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and stir in 1-2 tbsp flour. Cook with more-or-less continuous stirring, until a paste forms, and keep cooking for at least 3-5 minutes, so the flour won't taste raw. (The paste may thin out some as it cooks, but that's fine.)
2. Season the roux: for a plain alfredo-type sauce, I like to use white pepper (just for the lack of black specks, but black pepper is fine), a dash of salt and about 1/8 tsp nutmeg.
3. Gradually stir in about 1.5 cups milk (I usually use 1%) and keep stirring until well-blended, making sure you stir/whisk out any lumps from the roux. Keep stirring over medium heat until almost ready to serve.
4. Just before serving, add 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese, and stir until well combined. Remove from heat and toss over cooked pasta.

This sauce actually takes almost no time to make (I usually put the pasta water on to boil and then start the sauce, and it's done well before the pasta is) and, given the small amount of butter and the lowfat milk, it's actually not that bad for you - certainly an improvement over the traditional "equal parts butter, heavy cream and parmesan cheese" alfredo sauce recipes. We've used it as is, and we've also added to it - cooked chopped spinach and diced dried tomatoes are a tasty addition. We've also made a southwest-inspired pasta dish using this as a base, and adding chili and chipotle powder to the sauce, and tossing the pasta with black beans and sauteed diced peppers and onions. Anyway, it's one of our staple, easy weeknight meals, and I thought I'd pass it along.

Garlic Cheese Bread
1. Slice 1/2 baguette lengthwise, completely separating the halves. (We used the Stone Oven's Pugliese baguette, which is of course consistently delicious).
2. Mince 3 large cloves garlic and place in small microwavable bowl/ramekin with 1 1/2 tbsp butter, maybe 1 tsp Italian seasoning and black pepper to taste. (We also added a tsp or two of Trader Joe's crushed garlic, because we seriously love garlic in this household.)
3. Microwave on high for 10-15 seconds. Stir and microwave for another 10 sec or so, until the butter is all melted and the garlic a bit cooked, so it loses that acrid, raw-garlic taste.
4. Stir in about 1 tbsp olive oil to the mix, and spread on both cut sides of the bread. (I usually use a spoon to drop the butter-and-garlic mixture on, then spread it around with the back of the spoon - I've found this works better for me than a brush.)
5. Season further with Italian seasoning or pepper if it needs it. (I'm obsessive and fill in the spots with inadequate spice coverage.)
6. Top breads with maybe 4 oz total grated mozzarella cheese (NOT fresh unless you really squeeze the life out of it, as it will be too watery. TJ's "fresh" mozzarella is actually a good compromise)
7. Bake in preheated 375 deg F oven until cheese is melted and browned.

This one isn't maybe all that good for you, but it did turn out to be very, very tasty.

Culinary exploits planned for this weekend include learning how to brew beer from a friend who brews and making strawberry jam from the pounds of strawberries that tempted us in Costco. And maybe some strawberry-blueberry jam, as I still have some of last summer's blueberries frozen in the fridge. (I really need to start trusting that I've frozen enough fruit, and eat this stuff in December, too.)

We were going to make pesto, but the basil that Zagara's had on Thursday disappeared by the time I went back Friday afternoon, so that will have to wait a few weeks. (I think I scared the poor guy in Zagara's, asking him where their basil comes from and what the season is like, and when will I be able to buy 10 bunches, and if I call and ask, will someone know if it's in yet? Last summer's pesto ran out a month ago, and we're going through withdrawal.)

I thought I had pictures of the bread I baked a few weeks ago, but I can't seem to find them. Maybe I'll have to do some baking this weekend, too.

title from "Snow [Hey, Oh]", Red Hot Chili Peppers

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

we crossed the deepest ocean, cargo across the sea

A finished object! With pictures scavenged from my Flickr account, since my laptop is getting its annual tune-up down on campus. How much do I love our IT guys? (Having someone else to go virus hunting on my hard drive is a joy I will miss once I'm done with academia.)

Pattern: Tuscany shawl, from No Sheep for You.

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Pure Silk, 4 skeins

Needles: Size 8 / 5.0 mm Knit Picks Options circulars

Modifications: the size 8 needles rather than 6's; only did 9 repeats instead of 11 as written.

(I would have cropped this if I had access to my photo editing software - pretend there's not so much towel and couch in this shot. Also, um, let's further pretend the towel I blocked it on actually covered the entire section of couch I draped wet shawl all over. Thanks.)

Even with the fewer repeats (I bought the yarn on sale and they only had 4 skeins left in this color), it blocked out to a substanstial 72" x 23", which is plenty large enough for me. I've already worn it out three times, as spring is slowly but surely making its way to Northeast Ohio. (It may actually already be the most-frequently-worn knitted object I own, aside from hats/mittens/scarves). I'll have to get someone to take a photo of it out in the wild.

As far as med school goes, well. I'm doing my Perioperative Care rotation and I'm not going to be an anesthesiologist, I can tell you that. Mind-numbingly boring, in terms of the OR stuff. And I've just deleted two-paragraph-long rant on the staff of the pain clinic which no one really needs to hear, but suffice it to say that I've been frustrated by the complete lack of concern re: pain that cannot be fixed with/has not responded to an injection or a spinal cord implant. If they can't treat it with a (very well-reimbursed) procedure, they do not want to deal with you. (Why do these patients keep showing up to the pain management clinic, wanting someone to treat their pain?! )

Okay, so I am going to rant a little: here's a sampling of real, live quotations from the residents and staff: "You have to be careful with these old ladies, because most of them don't really have any pain - they're just pressured by their families to get these drugs so they can sell them." "I try not to write scripts for opioids for people who aren't working - you know, if you're young and active and have a job, then fine. But if you're sitting at home all day anyway, there's no way you need that kind of pain medication." "I'm not going to give you any more Percocet to treat your [diagnosed on MRI, nonoperable, nonblockable, 8/10] pain. It won't fix the problem, it's just going to mask it."

Bah. They're not all bad, but it's just so frustrating to sit there and watch a resident or attending make a total mess of a patient interaction (Patient, very apprehensive on being told they can try a nerve block for her pain: "What's a block?" Attending: "A block? A block is a block! Like at the dentist. We'll do you next week.") and not be able to speak up. I've been trying to catch patients on the way out and explain things if it seems like they're confused, but it's still awful to watch.

Two weeks until my family medicine AI. I cannot wait.

(In other, happier news, I've just made my first international yarn purchase - a cone of gorgeous pewter laceweight cashmere/silk. I think I'm going to attempt Frost Flowers and Leaves with it, once I actually finish a laceweight project.)

title from "Hands on Me" by Vanessa Carlton. I really need to find another album to listen to at the gym, so I don't keep outing myself as a Vanessa Carlton fan like this.

Monday, April 7, 2008

none of us forget about who we are

But, um, sometimes we forget to blog about it. I do apologize for all the radio silence around here lately - my only real excuse is that I've gotten back into writing fiction lately, and I've been trying to do that when I sit down to write. Nothing really ready for public consumption yet, but I've got about eight thousand words on a story that might have a viable plot if I can bring the fortitude to actually write it. (I'm trying to ignore the fact that it's going to require that I invent a religion from the ground up. There's already poems and folk songs involved, and I think it's just going to get worse.)

If you've been Ravelry-stalking me, you may see that I've uploaded some pictures of finished objects over there. I'm going to wait to post about them, though, in order to do an update sort of entry. (And it'll also give me some ready-made content while I try and remember to post regularly.) But here are some teaser pictures, from the Tuscany shawl and from the kitchen rug:

I've got two laceweight shawls on the needles, one of sort-of my own design that I'm very pleased with and another that I may end up frogging. The pattern isn't really speaking to me, and it's becoming a chore to knit it, which is, you know, not the point. I also started Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts, which are fun but may also get frogged and re-knit (I've only done most of one so far, but I learned a few lessons about colorwork in the process, which was most of my motivation for knitting them). I think it's interesting that I've reached the point in my knitting career where I can quite comfortably contemplate just ripping something out and starting over if it's not working out well. Gone are the days where every stitch was precious to me, and I think that's a good thing.

Non-knitting life stuff has also been proceeding in my blogging absence. I really liked my family med clerkship (surprise fun procedure I enjoyed? Botox, of all things. And I&Ding abscesses, but I knew that already) and I held on to the family-med love during my med-peds elective, so I think the winner is going to be family med in the end. I've set up two away electives in NYC (Beth-Israel in June and Columbia in November) so I'll be checking out some programs relatively soon. And applying not long after that, which is something I'm trying not to dwell on. I still need to work out where I'm staying in June, but I imagine Craigslist will come through when it gets a little closer.

I'm currently doing perioperative medicine at the Clinic, which lives up to its reputation of legendary organization. I'm already thinking about doing another core or elective over there. So I'll be hanging out in the ORs on the other side of the drape for the next little while, trying not to freeze to death. I have never missed being wrapped in non-breathable plastic-coated paper so much as I have today.

title from "La Familia" by Mirah; link goes to a remix that differs subtly but unfortunately from the copy I have sitting on my hard drive.

Anybody wanna join Pownce (messaging/social media/file-sharing network, now out of beta so you don't need an invite) and I can post these there? I'm theraveledskein over there, too - friend me and I can cross-post a copy of the next title-song for your listening enjoyment.

Monday, February 18, 2008

fail with consequence, lose with eloquence

So, I've never pointed you all over to xkcd, which is a fantastic webcomic about "romance, sarcasm, math, and language." And that's a tragedy I'm rectifying today, because it's absolutely hilarious (and will provide you with a few hours' entertainment browsing the old strips). I thought today's comic "How it works" was an excellent introduction to everything I love about the artist's comics, and also a pretty good reminder of how it does work, sometimes:

Go enjoy reading the rest of them. (Edited to add: And make sure you let the cursor hover over the comic to read the embedded pop-up text thing that I'm sure has an actual technical name. They're usually just as funny as - if not funnier than - the actual text.)

In other news, I just discovered this: Sea Socks Cruise and Yarn Expedition! I want to do this. I particularly love the question in the FAQ: Can you bring your family? As if you have non-knitter family members you might be able to convince to spend seven days on a ship surrounded by knitters, who probably would not be so much concerned with getting a tan on their vacation as protecting the handspun from harsh UV rays. It sounds like heaven. However, I think the family medicine AI is going to have to take priority.

....Also, I started Tuscany (lace shawl from No Sheep for You, scroll down for a pic) yesterday and am already one skein of Pure Silk into it. I'm ... not entirely sure how that happened. Further progress may have to wait until the arrival of my gorgeous new stitch markers from Etsy vendor SeeJayneKnitYarns, as I'm approaching the end of my stitch marker collection with two lace projects on the needles. I did get some good work done on it this morning, when I finally brought knitting to our completely useless Monday morning lectures. It helped some.

title from "Consequence," The Notwist

Friday, February 15, 2008

holidays are made for reading

There are free books on the internet! I wanted to pass along this link - SF publishing house Tor is trying out this whole viral marketing thing, and the rewards they're offering are pretty good: a link to a downloadable .pdf full-text book every week! I just received my first book today (Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn, which I know nothing about), and next week's text is John Scalzi's Old Man's War - I've actually been meaning to pick up a novel of his, so I'm pretty excited about this one. So for all you SF fans out there, wants your email address, and in return they will give you weekly free e-books. I'm pretty okay with that.

This is also probably a good time to tell you all about my favorite sites to get free books on the internet. I've had these links on my side-bar for a while, but for those of you who are interested, LibriVox is an archive of free audiobooks, produced by volunteers, whose texts are in the public domain. For a fantastic free archive of such texts, check out Project Gutenburg, which has gotten much more tech-savvy and user-friendly since I first discovered it in, like, 1999. Both places are great for discovering interesting books written, you know, a hundred years ago - I particularly enjoy browsing the medical texts, which are mostly hilarious but frequently terrifying. Also included in the public domain are, of course, all the Victorian era classics - I've been listening to Emma recently while knitting, which has been fun.

I am woefully - woefully - behind on the booklog thing, and I may not return to it, especially since I don't know if anyone but me is interested in reading about what I'm reading. I also think my ability to read literature critically has declined in proportion to my increasing ability to read nonfiction and academic literature critically, so I feel that I have very little that's new or interesting to say about books I've read recently. However, for completeness' sake, here's a list (more or less) of the books I've read since the last booklog update - as I recall, all were pretty good and worth the time.

Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, 2006.
The Invisible Sex, J. M. Adovasio, Olga Soffer, and Jake Page, 2007.
Salt: A World History, Mark Kurlansky, 2002.
Fledgling, Octavia E. Butler, 2005.
Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, William Bryant Logan, 1995. (Truly excellent. Seriously. Completely entertaining and you will never look at dirt the same way again.)
Atonement, Ian McEwan, 2001.
Treatment Kind and Fair: Letters to a Young Doctor, Perri Klass, 2007.
Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brien, 1994.

I've also been reading The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart, which was a Christmas present (thank you, Lola and Peter!) and a fantastic reference on the art of bread-baking. I've made a few breads so far, including the pain à l'ancienne and the pain de campagne, both of which turned out to be pretty tasty.

I have an ungodly number of works in the "to be read" pile(s), especially after I stopped at a Half-Price Books yesterday out by my clinic in Mentor and left with 7 new books. (Total cost was something like $32, so it wasn't such a ridiculous splurge. But a splurge nonetheless. And here might be the time to mention how much I love buying used books: the sense of history that someone else has read this, the economics of it, the fact that it's effective recycling that works. Love it.) I picked up a Spanish-English dictionary, a pocket guide to Spanish verb conjugations (in anticipation of heading off to Central America next winter to learn Spanish) and some books I've been meaning to read for a while: Octavia E. Butler's Kindred, Toni Morrison's Paradise, and E. M. Forster's A Passage to India. Unfortunately, they had only really crappy knitting books, but you can't have everything.

title from "Things to Forget," Sarah Harmer. (YouTube has failed me on this one, unfortunately.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

we are bound by symmetry

It's done, it's done, it's done! Here, have some photographic evidence:

That is Henry, blocking away on our sunroom couch. Done! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be done with this: the finished product is great, but the knitting was very boring, very fussy - and did I mention boring? The bind-off ALONE took 3+ hours, which I'm really trying not to think about. But it's done (finally!) and Ben will be able to wear it at least a few times this winter, which pleases me immensely - I really hadn't thought I'd get done with this sucker until June. Done!

Pattern: Henry, by Mareike Sattler in

Yarn: Aussie Sock in Oak Moss, about 1.5 skeins

Needles: Size 3 / 3.25 mm for the body and size 2 / 2.75 mm for the first and last three rows.

Modifications: Only that I did 6 of the 7 pattern repeats, mostly for my own sanity. If I were ever to knit this again (which appears very unlikely), I would probably see if I couldn't get away with less freakishly time-consuming set-up and bind-off rows. I don't think the edges look that great, especially considering how annoying the bind-off is. Also, I'm not in love with the little weird ridge at the ends of the scarf, but it's fine.


title from "Red Right Ankle," The Decemberists

Saturday, February 9, 2008

want a garden by the ocean tide

So I was home visiting my family last week (for my grandpa's 80th birthday!), and I received this very lovely present from my sister Jen:

She threw this flowerpot and tray (or whatever the bit is called that goes under a flowerpot to catch the water) in her ceramics class, and I cannot wait to get some herbs planted into it. I think a big bunch of parsley would look great with the gorgeous glaze. She had also done me a huge favor and glazed a porcelain pot that I had thrown, according to the date carved in the bottom, in 2002:

I can't believe it's been 5 years since I've done any ceramics work. It was something I loved in high school, and I always thought I'd keep it up, but I haven't really touched a wheel since then. (2002, of course, was after I graduated, but if I recall, my ceramics teacher had let me come back the summer after freshman year and play around a bit, which is when I had made that bowl.) I think both knitting - and cooking, to some extent - have fulfilled some of that creative urge, but I do miss the alchemy of taking a lump of mud and turning it into something pretty and useful. Another item to add to my fantasy farm: a wheel and a kiln to share space with the apple orchard and the goats. (I do know how ridiculous this is. Watch I spend the rest of my life living in Manhattan, growing miniaturized fruit trees on the roof and hiding a chicken coop up there from the zoning department like a crazy person.) Anyway. I had really just wanted to share the pretty pictures.

In other news, Ben and I went to go see Chris Rock last night at the Palace Theatre downtown. He was, of course, absolutely hilarious, and I'm not sure if my abs are hurting today from yesterday's workout or from laughing so hard. He had a number of political-oriented segments, and a really interesting bit about white privilege, where he discussed the people who live in his upper-class neighborhood in New Jersey. The four black homeowners in this community are him, Mary J. Blige, Denzel Washington and Jay-Z. All extremely famous people who are superlatively good at what they do. And yet the white guy who lives next door is a dentist, "not a great dentist, not in the Dental Hall of Fame, but a yank-your-teeth-out dentist." The punchline of the segment was along the lines of: "And do you know what a black dentist would have to do to live in this neighborhood? He'd have to invent teeth!" And it's a very funny line, and it's really a great example of what makes Chris Rock's comedy so hilarious, which is that it's absolutely spot-on true. Not literally, obviously, but this segment of his show very clearly illustrates what it means to have white privilege and how the lack of privilege manifests itself in day-to-day life for people of color. (If you've taken a sociology class in the last ten years, I'm sure you've seen this, but more for my own future reference, a link to "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," which is the article that really made the idea of white privilege real and immediate for me - and, I think, the one that first defined it in the academic literature.) At any rate, it was a great show, and also something I'll be thinking about for a while.

(A parting quotation from Robert Heinlein on humor: "Of course it wasn't funny; it was tragic. That's why I had to laugh. I looked at a cageful of monkeys and suddenly I saw all the mean and cruel and utterly unexplainable things I've seen and heard and read about in the time I've been with my own people - and suddenly it hurt so much I found myself laughing.... I grok when apes learn to laugh, they'll be people.")

(I sometimes wonder what Heinlein was like in real life. It must have been rough on your psyche to hang out with him all day long, but it just might have been worth it.)

title from "Nolita Fairytale," Vanessa Carlton

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

fill our mouths with cinnamon

An actual finished object! With pictures! (And with much thanks to my sister Jen, who has let me take her camera back to Cleveland after I dropped mine off a table and it became displeased with me.)

Pattern: modified from Absorba, the Great Bathmat (from Mason-Dixon Knitting)

Yarn: about 3 lbs total of worsted weight cotton, knit with three strands held together: the same 2 strands of neutral (cream and natural) throughout and changing color with each log cabin strip. From Bernat and Elmore-Pisgah.

Needles: size 13 / 9.0 mm circulars

Modifications: increased the row width to 8 garter ridges, knit a bigger (17 garter row) center square, added two strips to each edge to get a longer rectangle.

I'm not sure what it is about the Mason-Dixon patterns that make me want to knit eight of them in a row, but I found this to be a lot of fun. I'm already contemplating rugs for the kitchen in more tame colors arranged in an actual pattern.

And here's a picture of my latest project, which is really a very old project that I knit 8 rows of and decided that I couldn't handle lace. Eighteen months of knitting experience later, magic happens so that "Oh, my God, I would rather be scrubbing the toilet" turns into, "Oh, the flight's almost over? Maybe we'll have to circle for a while? I hope?"

I've officially caught the lace bug, I think.

title from "Sons and Daughters," The Decemberists

Thursday, January 31, 2008

old men with broken teeth stranded without love

(Odds are Dylan wasn't intending to describe the patient population that comprises the vascular surgery service at the VA, but he did a pretty good job of it nonetheless.)

So, I'm back! Surgery clerkship is over and done with, and I have been a Very Bad Blogger for the duration of it, but frankly, there's enough whining on the internet, and I didn't have anything really positive to say. In summary, now I know how to: do a guillotine amputation, dress a lot of really nasty wounds, distinguish a mono- from bi- from tri-phasic arterial Doppler signal, recognize gangrene at twenty paces and keep my head down while angry people in nicotine withdrawal shout and cuss a lot. Valuable lessons indeed.

General surgery was far, far better, but still not what I want to do with the rest of my life (seriously, if I ever see another *^#%# hernia repair it will be too soon), and I'm happy to leave the OR behind for now. I'll have at least two months of gen surg during residency, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Speaking of residency, a decision has been made! I'm (99.9% sure that I will be) applying for family medicine residencies, and I am going to be spending June and November in Manhattan, checking out Beth Israel and Columbia-Presbyterian, respectively. The away electives are still pending some paperwork, but I think family med is going to be my eventual destination. As such, I am completely delighted to be on my family med clerkship, which has been really fascinating so far.

I start my outpatient clinic next week, and so this week I've been working downtown at Care Alliance, a clinic for the underserved. I don't know the exact specifics regarding who qualifies for care, but a number of the patients are homeless and most are uninsured. It's been a pleasure to be back in a primary care setting, and I've been really enjoying working with this population. I understand how chasing an obscure diagnosis can be really intellectually exciting, and there's the thrill of stabilizing and managing the acutely ill patient, but... seriously? A free bottle of hydrochlorothiazide (a super-cheap diuretic, used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure) can make an incredible difference in somebody's life, and hopefully prevent that somebody from landing in the ED retaining 40 kilos of water and unable to breathe.

So I'm still getting excited about preventative medicine, which bodes well for the whole family med thing. I'm going back to Care Alliance tomorrow, but today my big adventure was tagging along with one of the staff at 2100 Lakeside, a men's shelter downtown. The day included: a discussion with Cleveland PD regarding this hostage situation, a board meeting for another shelter in town, an hour-long intake interview with a new client, and a tour of five of the area's homeless shelters. It was a pretty busy six hours. (Generally, on this day of the rotation, us medical students shadow a nurse who drives a van around town providing mobile medical care for the homeless, but she was off today, so I saw the more administrative side of things, which was probably more of a unique opportunity.)

All and all, it's been a great week, with more professionally interesting and satisfying patient encounters than I had over all five weeks of surgery, so... three cheers for primary care! I've also had the opportunity to get my life back in order, and have gone to the gym, done some knitting, started a non-medically-oriented book, and even cooked dinner a couple times. And blogged! Which will hopefully be a more frequent occurrence from here on out.

title from "Shelter from the Storm," Bob Dylan