Monday, December 26, 2011
Today I economized in a way that made me proud to be Grandpa's grandson. I walked into the Sunflower Market to the back of the store. The obligatory walk of consumption to buy milk. I asked the clerk if any reduced milk was available in the back. He said no but that if I found a jug with a sell-by date within the next two days, I could get it for 99 cents.
Like a man hunting geodes I stuck my skinny neck in the cold rows of dairy, squinting at dates on the top of milk jugs. I found one. I knew I would. I handed it to the clerk and he took a sharpie out of his pocket to write the reduced price on the jug.
"So, I can just walk in here and find a nearly-expired milk anytime," I asked with a grin.
"You bet, just make sure you are nice about it. Don't be like the old ladies who shove a jug at me and demand, '99 cents!' Just don't be annoying about it."
And with that I secured a way to purchase a gallon of milk for 99 cents. At two gallons a week that could save us 104 dollars a year. Multiply that by 30 and I've reduced our grocery bill by 3120 dollars over the next thirty years. Milk lasts longer than the date so we're safe. Now, onto the next money-saving idea...
Saturday, November 12, 2011
A cloudy night. A semi-strong breeze. A dying moon. Perfect night for a jog. That's what Anna thought and she invited me along. I'm glad I went. We drove a mile east to the River Trail parking lot and parked in the darkest corner to begin our late night run.
We walked through the parking lot to the paved trail and began our run. The trail borders along the Rillito River. And if you know your Arizona, you know river is synonymous with wash, so we were basically running along a very wide wash, probably a hundred yards wide. The river cuts through the heart of Tucson. It's flanked the entire length by ranches, parks, and corrals so you really don't feel like you're in the city. But since you are in the city, the lights bounce off the clouds at night and light up your way like an eery Hogwart's night setting. It's great. And along the way you pass giant sentinel Eucalyptus trees. The Ghost Gums' branches literally float in the wind; giant dementors to scare you along the run.
And to perfect the ambiance, you're in the desert, which I'm convinced is the BEST spot on earth in the winter. It's not too cold, but nippy enough to wear warm clothes. The animals are still out - not hibernating. And the plants are still alive. There you go: mother nature in her happiest mood. Tonight we could hear the chorus of Coyotes howling along with us as we ran. They were in the wash. To liven up the run I did a goofy "Last of the Mohicans" dash through a part of the trail to show Anna my manliness. Sadly, a skinny runner man has little claim on James Fenimore Cooper's idea of masculinity. For that I would need fifty more pounds, a hatchet, and a lot of leather.
Luckily, our only hunting at the end of the run would be at Trader Joe's, our reward for the best run on earth.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
The Halls are my second family, so I can't really say I grew any closer during my freshman year. I had lived over there for 18 years as is. Another year was nothing new. However, Bill quickly found out I was particular about two things: homework and sleep. If either my homework or sleep routine were violated, life was rough. When I wasn't slaving away on essays or counting my sheep, I was usually hanging with the Halls. We had a great year. It was a memorable year in history, the year of the twin towers attack, the D-backs World Series, the beginning of the Afghan war. It was a year of mission calls and friends starting to talk marriage. A lot of change. But I was able to note something I wasn't expecting: Jennifer's work ethic.
It's not that I did not know Jennifer worked hard, it's just that I didn't pay attention to it. Like a word you learn and suddenly begin hearing everywhere, as soon as I learned how hard Jennifer works, I noticed it everywhere. In a year of living in her home, I caught her sleeping a total of two-and-a-half times. The half time was when she was doing this pseudo-slide off the couch, downstairs. She reached the ground before she reached REM, so it counts as a half. She had just finished hooking up Andrew's CF treatment at 5:00 AM and I was leaving early to school to witness the rare event of Jennifer pausing for a break.
Jennifer works crazy hours. She is a professional caterer, working as many as four receptions a week. She teaches swimming lessons in her pool to all the kids and their kids in Mesa. She works actively in the church. She cooks homemade meals nightly. She is constantly running errands for family and friends. And she is never too busy for people. When a client comes over to discuss a reception, she will spend over half-an-hour just shooting the breeze and getting to know the person and their family. Her product at receptions and swimming lessons is more than time, it's love. And that's why people keep coming back for her swimming and catering.
I'm again staying with the Halls this month as I work at St. Joseph's hospital in Phoenix. I haven't seen Jennifer sleeping yet in two weeks. Though she once told me, "I'm going to bed," a phrase I never heard her speak before. This past weekend she pulled off something that would have made my legs fall off. She catered a reception Friday night for over 400 people. She directed a staff of ten, paid them all, sent them home, cleaned up, went home, and began packing for the next day's reception in Sedona, AZ. At around 12:45 am she began making her shopping list for her 7am trip to stores. I was tired and went to bed. Then next thing I heard was her footsteps upstairs at 5:30 am. She had an appointment with her running buddy. They are running a half-marathon in two weeks. After that she was off shopping. She came home, cut up veggies, made two sauces at the same time while listening to me jabber mindlessly, and finished packing her trailer. The amazing thing about those sauces was she had to quadruple the portions, doing the math for the different sauces in her head. By 10:30 she was off to Sedona. I stayed back to study, and re-attach my legs that had fallen off while helping at the previous night's reception.
At Sedona she had to improv as grills went out, the trailer didn't fit, and her cell phone stopped working. Once more unto the breach she went, and she came home victorious, early Sunday morning. When I talked to her Sunday evening, her voice was tired and hoarse, the effects of two straight days of giving directions beginning to show. I went to bed and today saw her in the afternoon. She was giving me an update on the day even though she was late for a service project for a girl she helps with cerebral palsy. Then her daughter called, who she stopped to help. Then she told me her dear friend had passed away this morning from a heart attack, her tired voice beginning to break as she began to cry. I couldn't help but think: God bless you Jennifer for all you do and are.
A while ago she once told me, "If I ever stop I'll break." We were running on the beach at Santa Monica at the time. She was talking about more than running. She was talking about life. Thanks Jennifer, for showing me that whatever we do, we give our best, because anything less is "to sacrifice the gift" (Prefontaine).
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
We celebrated our fourth anniversary a couple weeks ago! Thanks to my oldest, most wisest sister, we dined at a classy joint. While I was contemplating how to make a dinner of chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, and cookies and ice cream romantic on our front porch, I contacted Whitney. Her input caused my plans to evaporate to the voice of reason. The voice consistently says, "She deserves finery." But for some odd reason which might be due to maleness, or just plain cheapness, I ignore the voice. As a side-note I wonder if the sound of the voice resembles those Sirens of old.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
"Kennedy (18-4) became the NL's first 18-game winner and has victories in his last three starts. He allowed one run on five hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked two.
"Arizona beat Lincecum at sold-out AT&T Park for the second time in just over a month after a win against the Freak here on Aug. 2. Lincecum allowed nine hits and five runs and struck out seven in five innings, his shortest start since also going five against San Diego on July 4."
can you hear the rumbling memories of 2001?!
Thursday, September 1, 2011
When I was seven I met a kid named Adam. He moved at 97 mph and never stopped. I always admired his energy, especially in high school track where he could run the 800m faster than I could dream. Nothing stopped him. Not even a nail shot through his head. One day out working construction with his brother, he was climbing up a ladder. The man above him was climbing with a nail gun. While the man was ascending, the gun bumped a ladder rung and discharged a nail down into Adam's head.
Adam climbed off the ladder and felt the top of his head. Nothing. Just a little scratch where the nail presumably ricocheted off. But just to be sure, they went to the ER and took a plain film of his head. And there, smack dab inside his temporal lobe floated the nail. I saw that plain film in Safford, AZ, where a technician showed me. Amazing picture. Amazing luck.
Surgeons removed the nail and Adam continued his life, racing around high school and track like his normal self. I've always remembered that story and thought how extremely lucky he was. In fact, he was the luckiest person I knew...until now.
Today in the reading room with the radiologists, we pulled up the images of a local Tucson man. He was pruning his garden when he dropped his shears. The sharp edge wedged into the ground, with the handles (blunt end) pointing to the sun. He bent down to pick them up and tripped right on top of them. Amazingly the handle penetrated under his eye ball and down into his face, all the way into his neck until it rested on his carotid artery. And there it rested, bumping with every beat of his heart.
Surgeons removed the shears and today he has made a full recovery. Sorry Adam, you've been trumped by an 87 year-old gardener.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
My two interests of radiology and history combined during a resident lecture today at lunch. The attending physician, Dr. C, described the research of French army surgeon Rene Le Fort. In the early 20th century, he outlined specific facial fractures. He interest in studying this macabre medicine was allegedly born upon his visit to Notre Dame cathedral.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Extra driving time is always worth it when you get that spot. The sad part about this day was we weren't even trying. It was too easy. Life is never that easy, but it was for us then.
I gazed deep into the eyes of the awaiting drivers when we pulled away from the spots so I could telepathically stress how important of an event this transfer of parking spots was. In reality, I was sulking for the loss. Don't ever take for granted good parking.
I was going to blog about my sweet day in neuroradiology. But for some reason parking lot karma trumped it.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
This morning we awoke to a moderate breeze. The sky was clear but for a few floating vestiges of last night's monsoon.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Some interesting trends and facts.
He says abusers of opioids are wising up to the damage they are causing to their livers by abusing Percocet and Vicodin. So they are turning to Oxycontin. So, if you abuse, oh be wise.
Also, a sobering fact. The most common cause of mental retardation in the United States is maternal alcohol use. Sad, but can be prevented with some attention by good homes.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Friday was a knockout, literally. It was a comedy of errors too. Thursday afternoon I was reading the case of two rabid dogs in Michigan. About 130 people were treated with post-exposure medication, causing quite a ruckus. So Friday morning I headed out to find a dead battery in my car. I hopped on my bike, rolled up my pant legs, pulled my socks over them like a Scottish school boy, and pedaled up the hill towards Northwest Hospital.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Dealing with psych patients today was very memorable. I saw geriatric patients in wheel chairs sitting at the end of the hallway in the sun, like potted plants soaking up the light. They didn't move for hours. Perhaps they know something I don't.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The opening line to my textbook today read:
"Knowledge does not keep any better than fish."
And that's what I can testify to after day one of my fourth year, after a year off.
But oh, was it worth it.
Today was orientation in the psychiatric ward of the hospital. A pretty light day with my only patient interaction being with a 350 pound man who thirty minutes earlier threatened the life of himself and the attending physician across the room. I was unaware of these threats until a nurse saw me bump into him in the lock-down hallway on my way to the bathroom.
The rest of the blessed day was spent reading for tomorrow's activities.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
This is my last week as an official medical student "drop out." I'm dropping back in on July 5th. I'm excited. Anna comes home from the ICU and dazzles me with stories from the life in health care, constantly reigniting my desire to get back in the game.
Just for the sake of a personal accounting of my last year I want to catalog some of the fun I had, some of the things I did:
-Hikes with Anna all over Southern Arizona
-Campouts until 9 pm
-Pick up the guitar and learn the classical approach
-Play the piano any time I passed one
-Serve as a boy scout leader
-Compete in road bike races
-Run a road race
-Work as a substitute teacher (One of the most fun things I did)
-Work with Jennifer as a punch boy in Mesa again
-Visit family in Thatcher, Lake Powell, and Salt Lake
-Read, read, and read (I'm a new fan of Newberry books)
-Publish in a radiology journal
-Eat good Anna dinner without having to pick up a medical book to study soon after
-Sunday walks with Anna
-Sleep in when Anna had days off (I feel guilty typing this)
-Write thoughts, figure out what I like to write
-Make sling shots and give them away to missionaries in the Tucson mission
-Go on exchanges with the Elders
-Go to Bookman's often
-Watch movies with Anna
-Drop off my brother at the MTC before he headed out to Cusco, Peru (a great highlight)
-Play tennis (watch out Rich!)
-Listen to NPR and Dan Patrick radio on many a morning (these two shows have a way of canceling out the flow of information in my head)
-Look up family history
-Call family more often
-Learn about trees (there seemed to be a calming influence as I finally learned about these standing neighbors I pass everyday)
And there was more to bore. Oh! And I got to watch March Madness and the NBA Finals uninterrupted by study or hospital work. But trust me, I'm excited to join the human race again in the normal way of life.
But how normal it will be you can decide. Come back and check out the adventures of a fourth year medical student, which begin July 5th. My first clerkship (5 week assignment) is in psychiatry.
We drove home from Utah yesterday, into incredible wind. Gales, in fact. Also, much of the way down I-17, 89A and I-10 was under construction. At one place on the 89 between Lee's Ferry and Flagstaff we were forced to stop at a one-way section of road. The oncoming and outgoing traffic shared alternating turns of the one way stretch. We pulled right up into line to wait out turn. We rolled down the windows to get some fresh air. We were out in the middle of nowhere. The wind was blowing. Clouds were sailing their shadows across the hills. And the mood was calm. But then it stank like a mix of partially clean bathroom and partially messy bathroom. And there, upwind, on a solitary hill stood a port-a-john. The door was flapping open in the wind, sending the sweet smell of good stuff right into our car. We rolled up the windows and cranked up the A/C, in idle mind you! Gone are the last tracings of Grandpa's conservative influence on me and cars. Fear not though, I still drive 65 mph.
Anna is the most, most patient wife in the world.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I like for people to tell me what is good. Trails to run, food to eat, movies to watch, and books to read. I like when they all have been critically reviewed and recommended. I'm not much of a cultural scout. And I've taken this preference to my book reading this last month.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
When I feel something, I write. When I write, I learn about about what matters to me. I recently wrote about homosexuality. And through the post I learned that what matters most to me are my relationships with others.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I can see the pioneers of old looking down on us in wonder when we set off to go camp in the domesticated wildernesses of America.
"Sweet Joseph and Mary, why do they leave the comforts of their fluffy homes with all their magical devices and freezers with ice? If it were me I'd never take another step outside."
Or...they might just be looking down on us and smiling, thinking, "Oh, those darling folks. They do try, don't they?"
This sounds more likely what hushed down from the heavens as we trekked out into the Coronado National Forest this weekend.
In summary, we left with supplies for two days, plans for hours of hikes, and blankets so thick we couldn't see out that back of the car. We had knives, saws, matches, first-aid kits, and toilet paper. We were going to rough it on hot dogs, manly beans, and marshmallows, all over a roaring fire hot enough to singe my beard. We were going to gaze off a peak at the sunset and be back up with the sunrise, hunting down a black bear sighting. In the end, we hiked 45 minutes, saw the sunset, shivered back to the car, ate half a raw hot dog, cried into a can of cold beans and drove home. I was no Kit Carson. Anna was no Calamity Jane. But we couldn't have had a better time realizing we weren't born pioneers.
The camping trip started out promising. Our hands floated out the car window as we drove up the mountain. We watched the temperature drop from 106 in the valley to 70 by the time we reached Ski Valley. As we made it to our trail head we loaded up with supplies for a hike off into the forest. We planned for four hours. You know how long we made it.
Instead of hiking, we ended up on the ground with our backs against a fallen pine. The forest, four years past a fire, looked young, scarred, and fresh. Off to the left we could see forever with the sky islands opening up over Tucson. To the right we watched the sun descend into the Ponderosa. Smoke from fires on the border gave a purple/pinkish haze to the late afternoon. And we talked. And held hands. Who cares for four hour hikes when you have that?
Then we shivered. We stood up, dusted off, and headed back up the trail. We were passing through some meadows of green grass, ferns, and pine when we looked west though the trees and smokey haze to see a blood orange sun, setting. We ran to the edge of the mountain to see it set. The dramatic violin music from the new Jane Eyre movie was playing through my mind as we ran...until Anna tripped over a root and face-planted. Then it was all laughs for the rest of the sunset.
Then we hungered. We had learned upon entering the forest we could not have fires. So we bundled up in the car, opened our beans, and sat with a lighter heating up our hot dogs. If you've never done this, don't, it will infuse a butane-like aroma into your hot dog leaving your ready to pitch anything you might have eaten all week. At this point I couldn't tell if I should be laughing at Anna's recent face plant or the state of our dinner. We couldn't imagine a better trip, so we threw the rest of our hot dogs away, gathered all our stuff, and abandoned our two-day plans in the mountain for McDonald's in Tucson and a night in front of our TV watching The Man from Snowy River. Now there's a man and a woman of note!
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Of the long list of pre-requisites for medical school, Bio 120 was not supposed to be difficult. In fact, it was theoretically the easiest 2 -credit class of them all. But it snapped my DNA in half. And that's because my instructor was William Bradshaw, professor at BYU.
1) If you were a student beginning a course in any field, what would you define as a “success” upon completion of the course?
To think like professionals in that field. To hear a presentation from a person in the field (a seminar talk, for example), and be able to follow most of the arguments and evaluate their validity.
2) Are there elements of an education that every student should possess upon graduation from college?
a) To be able to write well – clear, concise, complete, and interesting.
b) To be able to evaluate the merits of data and arguments so as to make valid judgments. To draw conclusions based on evidence.
c) To have a general interest in a wide variety of subjects, and maintain an interest in them as an educated adult. Be committed to reading.
d) To be able to engage in a meaningful conversation about important ideas.
3) Does practice, practice, practice make perfect in any field?
Practice makes perfect if one is in a field for which he or she is well suited. There are probably some fields of endeavor for whom each of us lacks the neurological wiring, interest, or commitment to be able to succeed.
4) When were you happiest as a student? Explain if you wish.
The day I left a biology classroom session having learned the principle that cells of an embryo are genetically equivalent, but cellular differentiation is due to selective gene expression.
5) When were you most frustrated as a student?
Poor performance on exams when I thought I had prepared well. Recognition that I really didn’t know how to study.
6) Can true learning exist without God’s help?
I don’t know, but if we really are God’s children we must have some genetic endowment – with the potential to learn as He does, perhaps independent of Him. One person can’t learn in behalf of someone else. One can’t learn very much without constructing his/her own set of models and frameworks.
7) What advice would you give a high school student to prepare for the academic challenges of college?
Learn how to read and write. Cultivate broad intellectual interests. Don’t take AP courses as a means to avoid (pass out of) those subject in college. Be prepared for the realization that you’re not as good as you think you are.
8) Are there principles of education that you use in college that you could also use with primary children?
Teachers should provoke people of any age to actively articulate an idea, not just passively accept as true ideas presented by others.
9) What does the ideal learning environment consist of?
It’s not an environment, it’s a process. An active exchange between students and teacher, where following a formative assessment, teachers provide feedback that allows people to identify the holes in their understanding and take the steps to correct them. The experience must be both rigorous and user friendly.
10) How has your wife helped you improve your teaching?
She has helped me in everything because she knows more about me than anyone else. Coming in the room when I was grading exams and saying, “Don’t be so hard on them.” I never paid attention to that.
11) What do students do wrong in their learning?
Study alone. Study silently. Fail to ask questions. Fail to be metacognitive – to think about thinking with the intent to do it better.
12) What do they do right?
The opposite of the items in 11 above.
13) Should every high school graduate aspire for college today? If not, for what reasons might they pursue a different course?
No. Lack of sufficient interest in higher education; unwillingness to pay the price; sufficient interest and aptitude in earning a living in a field that requires some other preparation than college.
14) What do you do to keep learning every day?
Read the newspaper. Read books. Listen to NPR. Associate with informed friends and associates.