Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

The Winter Olympics – Part 3  0

Posted on February 27th, 2006. About Sports.

I’ll subtitle this one: “Another beef I have with the Media.”

I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics this year, but what has driven me nuts is the media commentary. Many of the commentators are so negative, focusing on mistakes athletes have made or what should have been done differently. When Lindsay Jacobellis fell in the snowboarding competition, they hung her out to dry. Every interview I saw directly after the event was so demoralizing – do you wish you hadn’t been celebrating on that last stretch? How does it feel to know that the gold medal was yours, and you lost it at the last second? Why don’t they just add – don’t you feel like a total failure? That life is now meaningless? You lousy silver medalist!

When Apolo Ohno won the bronze medal at the start of the games, the interviews again were terribly negative. Ohno’s answer was wonderful – that he didn’t see how anyone could think that winning a bronze medal at the Olympics is a bad thing. But the press continued to harp on this, acting as though Ohno had failed the whole nation by not beating the South Koreans in front of him. He seemed fine with it – but the press wasn’t. Is this because we’re so self-righteous that we believe we have to be the best at absolutely everything? Part of what I love about the Winter Olympics is that it isn’t a given that the U.S. will win everything – it’s truly an international competition.

I, for one, look forward to watching the events in person in Vancouver four years from now. No commentators, no media – just sitting in the stands and seeing events unfold before me.

Huge Surprise  0

Posted on February 27th, 2006. About Money.

The title has sarcasm behind it, for those who may not interpret my tone correctly.

I saw this article on the Money site – basically, it explains that there has been a boom in new housing construction (although it’s now falling back a bit), thus making houses that are new-ish (1-4 years old) difficult to sell.

It confirms what Evan and I have professed over the past year – about how houses are not always sure things when it comes to income from an investment. Not that we’re speaking from actual experience or anything… (yeah, right)

The Winter Olympics – Part 2  0

Posted on February 22nd, 2006. About Ramblings, Sports.

Wow, what an amazing performance by the female figure skaters in the short program! I’m usually not one to get too absorbed in figure skating, but the program that Irina Slutskaya put on was enchanting. For starters, her music kicked ass – a modern version of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. It was so jazzy and full of rhythm, unlike the typical flowery stuff to which others skate. Then, she wore pants rather than a skirt and put her full energy into true performance. A real, solid athlete. Oh, and she’s another foreign athlete that can give interviews in English.

Sasha Cohen’s performance was, of course, dazzlingly perfect for an Olympic performance. Fun to watch, artistic, and as soon as I saw it I knew she was the gold medalist. Wow – just, perfect is all I can really say.

It seems the feud between speed skaters Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis continues. Davis publicly stated (with Hedrick sitting next to him at this particular press conference) that (paraphrasing here) it would have been nice if Hedrick had congratulated him on his gold medal victory earlier in the Games. Hedrick, taken aback and visibly at a loss for words, replied with (paraphrasing here too) that it would have been nice if Davis had participated with his teammates in the relay (the pursuit, I believe it is called). Yikes. To Hedrick and Davis (two loyal blog readers, I am sure), I say this: you are acting like stereotypical women. Get over yourselves. Better yet, admit that you’re in love and stop fighting it. You can’t fight this feeling anymore…you’ve forgotten what you started fighting for…so bring the ship into the shore, and throw away the oars forever…

Ahem.

California Execution Delayed  0

Posted on February 21st, 2006. About News and Politics.

I found this story very interesting – California was to put a convicted rapist/murderer to death at 12:01AM this morning, but the two anesthesiologists involved with the case refused to participate due to “ethical concerns.”

It got me to thinking – do the same people who are against physician-assisted suicide (where the patient is requesting lethal doses of medication) not object to physicians participating in executions? Why hasn’t the Bush administration challenged this off-label use of medication? That was their argument against the Oregon Death with Dignity law – that physicians were using meds for off-label purposes. Fascinating…

Seattle Housing Market Likely Strong  0

Posted on February 20th, 2006. About Home, Money.

For months now, as the pessimistic “experts” have predicted that the general housing market is nothing more than a bubble that is about to burst, I have insisted that the Seattle housing market is more immune to this gloom-and-doom forecast. My argument goes something like this:

  • The median income for the city is very respectable, and from what I am observing, those who are relocating here are educated, employable people.
  • There are a vast number of companies headquartered here that are going strong – the best known are Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon.com, Starbucks, and Real; biotech continues to grow as well in the South Lake Union area. In short – there are jobs (well-paying, stable jobs).
  • It may be a shock to people from the Carolinas (as it was to us) to learn how much housing costs here (I challenge anyone to find a nice three bedroom, two bathroom 1800 square foot house for less than $325,000+ in Seattle or in any town within ten miles). However, folks from California are flooding into the city because the housing, relatively, is so affordable. Real estate is not nearly as expensive as it is in San Francisco or Los Angeles. Yet, Seattle is just as nifty of a city (I would argue, even niftier) than these two locations. A well-kept secret.
  • Therefore, with employed, educated individuals quickly relocating to this area and wanting to invest in property, I’m doubting that there is a bubble here, ready to burst.

Anyway, an article in The Seattle Times peaked my interest (thanks to Evan for showing it to me). Lawrence Yun, the senior economist for the National Association of Realtors, studies home trends across the nation regularly (he is located in Washington, D.C.). According to this article, he “predicts that the Seattle area will lead the nation’s major metro areas this year in home-price growth, even as prices moderate in some cities and perhaps fall in others.”

I have included a table from the article, demonstrating that the median home price in Seattle has increased by 56% from 2000 to 2005, as compared to San Francisco’s 60% (from a much higher starting point) and Los Angeles’ 124% (also from a much higher starting point). The other part of the table outlines job growth, which shows that the U.S. average is currently at 1.5%, San Francisco is at 1.6%, and L.A. is at 1.2%. I am pleased to see Seattle’s employment growth rate at 3.3%, more than double the U.S. average.

seattlerealestate.gif

I would love to see this on the one hand – my condo would appreciate, and I could finally pat myself on the back for making a smart investment decision. However, should I remain in Seattle following my neurology residency, it doesn’t help my situation if I want to move to a larger place. If my condo is worth $500,000 by then, it will just cost me $1,000,000 for a house. I suppose it only makes a difference if one sells and moves to a less expensive area. But then – interesting cities are expensive for a reason. People want to live in them, and they are willing to pay for such exciting and amazing lives.

The Winter Olympics – Part 1  0

Posted on February 19th, 2006. About Ramblings, Sports.

Evan and I have really enjoyed watching the Olympics this year – previously, we (particularly Evan) have not taken much of an interest in the Winter Games, but because of our new enthusiasm for downhill skiing we have been glued to the tv this time around. In addition to our fascination with the alpine skiing events, we have not missed a speed skating or luge event either. By the way, the 2010 Winter Olympics will be held in Vancouver!!! If anyone wants our spare room, speak now. 🙂

My comment here, ironically enough, has nothing to do with sports, but everything to do with our education system. We have long known that other countries value the teaching of foreign languages. During our April 2005 trip to The Netherlands we were constantly reminded that English was the third language of many with whom we conversed, and their English was nearly as good as ours. Amazing. During the 2006 Olympics, I have lost count of the foreign athletes interviewed by our media sources, and the Gold Medalist always seems to be able to speak English. I suppose English is one of the “universal languages,” and that it would be difficult for our athletes to learn every European language plus several Asian languages, but still – not many of us are fluent in a second language, but Europe has done a damn fine job of ensuring that their citizens know at least two well.

So that is my first point. Point #2: there are quite a few athletes from the Seattle-area participating in the Olympics! Scott McCartney, a 28-year-old from Redmond, has represented us well in several alpine skiing events. He has been our favorite athlete for whom to cheer! Also, Apolo Anton Ohno, the well-known speed skater, is from Seattle. Other athletes from this area include Christian Niccum (Woodinville – luge), KC Boutiette (Tacoma – speed skating), Jeremy Teela (Tonasket – biathlon), Libby Ludlow (Bellevue – alpine skiing), and Kelly Stephens (Seattle – ice hockey). It has been a blast pulling for the locals. 😀

By the way, Shani Davis just won the gold medal in a speed skating event, the first African-American to ever win a gold medal in a Winter Olympics individual event, and the interview he just gave was so pissy. He seriously looks royally pissed off about something. That’s my official coverage of the event from my living room.

More to come… (that’s not a threat, more like a trailer ending)

Smoking Ban in London  1

Posted on February 16th, 2006. About News and Politics.

Evan and I were quite pleased to learn that the lower House of Parliament in London has voted to ban smoking in public places. It has to be ratified by the upper House for the law to take effect, but thus far it seems to be heading in that direction. You can read more about it here.

In 2002 the discussion arose as to whether my home at the time, Charleston, SC, should go smoke-free. I actually struggled with this issue – wasn’t it the choice of the business owner whether to allow smoking inside of a bar or a restaurant? What next – would the government step in and decide that alcohol could not be served?

And then…we traveled to Europe in April 2005. In Paris, I never saw so much as a non-smoking section in a restaurant, much less a smoke-free establishment. I felt ill constantly breathing the carcinogenic fumes and my clothes reeked of second-hand smoke for a solid week. It was absolutely disgusting, and there was no way to avoid it aside from buying fruit at a stand and eating all of my meals in my hotel room – and even then, it was a smoking hotel, and the people there before us had been smokers. It was even worse for Evan, who had his albuterol inhaler out more in that week than I had seen him use it throughout the years of our relationship. His constant wheezing and difficulty breathing was difficult to watch. So my tune changed quickly.

I have always enjoyed London and claimed that it is probably my favorite city. As far as I was concerned, there were two points that kept it from achieving near-perfection: A) it’s expensive, and B) it’s smoky (although it is not nearly as smoky as Paris). Kudos to London’s lower House of Parliament for working towards remedying the smoking problem.

The state of Washington voted to go smoke-free in November 2005, which took effect on December 10th. Despite my protests in 2002 based on “principle” I have to admit – it is wonderful to go to any restaurant or bar in Seattle, to enjoy my evening, and to leave, well, not reeking. It’s delightful. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to London (after 2007, which is when the ban would take effect).

Living Proud – I Still Love ’80s Music  0

Posted on February 15th, 2006. About Entertainment.

Yesterday, the attending physician on our neurology team took us out to lunch, quite a generous gesture on a day with a light work load. During lunch, one of my fellow interns (Shay) and I got to chatting about concerts we have attended, and the table realized quickly that old ’80s groups seemed to dominate both of our lists. Our attending informed our medical student that we have “terrible taste in music” and that we “shouldn’t admit this to anyone.” Shay immediately informed our colleagues that she is proud of her preference for bands of the 1980s and that I should be as well. I completely agreed.

So I have decided to archive here a list of concerts I have attended, and will continue to add groups as I see them.

  • 1995 – The Rolling Stones “Voodoo Lounge” Tour, my first concert! My brother, Tim, was with me for this one. Blind Melon as the opening act didn’t hurt either. My mother sacrificed her ticket (there were only two total) so that we both could attend – and waited for us in the parking lot. A true act of love.
  • 1997 – Jimmy Buffett – my second concert was just as awesome as the first was (yes, Evan, I know – you may substitute “awesome” for your own snide adjective). Jamus got a group together to see Buffett in Atlanta (Lakewood Amphitheatre) and it was a most excellent time! Jamus even presented me with an autographed picture of Jimmy when I arrived in Spartanburg, SC for the ride to Atlanta – my knee was still in a brace status-post ACL surgery, and when James informed Jimmy by mail of my condition, Jimmy graciously responded. 😀
  • 1997 – Jump, Little Children – a local group from Charleston, SC, whom I saw in Columbia, SC my first month of college. I always expected them to go big.
  • 1997 – Elton John – a musician I had admired since birth (my parents were big fans); seeing him in person was a real treat. He did not disappoint. Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road is still one of my top five favorite songs ever.
  • 1998 – Aerosmith – another concert with Tim. It was impressive, except they didn’t play Amazing, and my ears rang for three solid days after the event. I remember I had a calculus test the following morning at 8AM and could not hear anything the proctor said.
  • 1998 – Survivor – a free concert at Finlay Park in Columbia, SC. I just loved it! “The search is over…you were with me all the while…”
  • 1998 – The Indigo Girls – They were to give a free concert at Irmo High School as an award for drug-free pledges among the students, but then the principal and school board cancelled it because of a few parent phone calls about Amy and Emily’s lesbian status. Graciously, they gave a concert at a local venue, free for IHS students and cheap for anyone else. This was also my first concert with Evan. (Awww)
  • 1998 – Boy George and The Culture Club, Howard Jones, and The Human League – all in one concert! *This* was a memory. Still one of my best concert-going experiences.
  • 1999 – Low Fidelity All Stars, The Crystal Method, and Orbital – again, three great groups all wrapped in a single concert. This one was at The Tabernacle in Atlanta – which was to become one of my favorite venues.
  • 1999 – The Pet Shop Boys – Absolutely awesome!!! This is one of my top three concert-goings. Again, at The Tabernacle in Atlanta. Evan and I celebrated our two-year anniversary of dating with this weekend trip.
  • 2000 – Elton John – I took my mother to see Elton John for her birthday that year. It was such an interesting concert – it was a classical sort of concert – just Elton and the piano.
  • 2000 – Depeche Mode – It was a dream of Evan’s to see Depeche Mode live. I was not too familiar with the group until I met Evan, and soon enough I was dying to see them. It was fabulous show – they didn’t play People are People or Blasphemous Rumors, but I was satisfied to hear Enjoy the Silence, Your Own Personal Jesus, and their newest hit at the time, Dream On.
  • 2001 – Betty Buckley – The Tony Award-winning performer from Cats I had also seen as Norma in Sunset Boulevard during a theatre trip to NY in 1996. She breezed through Columbia while I was in college.
  • 2001 – Three Dog Night – the 1970s band performed with the Charlotte Symphony in what turned out to be a wonderful concert. “The ink is black, the page is white, together we learn to read and write…”

Since 2001, I have seen numerous theatre and symphonic performances, but no formal concerts that come to mind. I may be forgetting one. If I have I will amend the list.

Groups I would still absolutely love to see include (but are not limited to) Simon and Garfunkel, Journey, Van Halen, Pink Floyd/Roger Waters/whoever is left by the time I see them/him, ABBA, Duran Duran, and Tears for Fears. Maybe someday…

Ramblings on jobs  2

Posted on February 15th, 2006. About Money.

First of all, congratulations to those who were insightful enough to major in engineering as college students! You engineers have done it again – for the umpteenth consecutive year, engineers are the highest paid employees when graduating from college and accepting their first full-time jobs.

According to this article and several others I located to confirm this point, chemical engineers are in the lead for the highest straight-out-of-college salaries, followed by electrical/computer engineers, while mechanical engineers hold the #3 spot. Unfortunately, their salaries have not been increasing tremendously, but their professions are still considered quite lucrative. Salaries aside, engineers are intelligent and loveable people, and I’m very happy to be married to one. 😀

Now…as for what I believe to be the *worst* job ever – it has to be Scott McClellan’s position. Who could possibly want to be the press secretary for this administration? Having to face the media day after day, justifying the actions of the president and his cabinet? Wow – no thanks. Evan and I were watching McClellan explain why the White House waited 24 hours before releasing the story about Dick Cheney’s accidental shooting of his fellow hunter over the weekend, and I thought – this poor bastard. He has to answer for every mistake made. Surely they don’t pay him enough for this.

Excellent website  0

Posted on February 13th, 2006. About Uncategorized.

Recently, I was driving down the road and saw a church sign too good to pass up. I returned to the spot with my camera the following morning, just to document it for my blog.

So actually, and many of you may already be familiar with this website, but it’s from http://www.churchsigngenerator.com/ – a great site for playing intelligent (but totally immature) jokes on friends. Thanks to Austin and Evan for passing it along. 🙂

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