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

One Year Down…  2

Posted on June 25th, 2006. About Ramblings.

When I left the hospital this afternoon, it marked the official completion of my intern year. My first year of residency is behind me – and now I move on to my position as a neurology resident. I’m so thankful to have had the most educational and stimulating internal medicine training imaginable within a year-long time period.

I am traveling to Portland, OR to take the United States Medical Licensing Exam, Step 3 on June 27-28th. It has been difficult finding the time and energy to study intensively for it, but I discovered from taking a practice exam this evening that my University of Washington medicine training has adequately prepared me for this. I have not performed any well-child exams or delivered any babies in at least two years, but c’est la vie. These questions seemed to be in the minority. Anyway, following my exam, I will return to Seattle, hang out with my mother (who has just returned from an Alaskan cruise and is spending a week with us), and then begin my second year of residency on July 3rd. July 3rd, incidentally, will mark the 16th anniversary of my rattlesnake bite. I cannot believe it has been sixteen years since that whole ordeal. (Does that make us old, Austin?)

Since I’m rambling about random things, I will note that it was 88 degrees in Seattle today, and despite the new air conditioning unit in our master bedroom, the condo was still quite hot this afternoon. We are supposed to reach the 90s tomorrow. This may not sound like much to South Carolinians, but WOW – when air conditioning is obscure one really takes notice.

Happy summer, everyone. To my MUSC classmates, congratulations on finishing your intern year. What a milestone! 8)

Thugs R Us  0

Posted on June 23rd, 2006. About News and Politics, Ramblings.

I’ll admit – it has been a slow day at work, thus the second blog posting in less than two hours. I’m intrigued by this plot that has been uncovered today – seven young men have been implicated in a plot to blow up the Sears Tower. That’s not what intrigues me. What I find amusing (and terrifying) is what their mothers had to say about it:

Mothers of two of the indicted men denied reports that their sons were followers of Islam. The mothers told CNN that their sons are devout Christians who closely follow the teachings of the Bible and their group was nothing more than a religious study group.

I wanted to tell these mothers, “Perhaps your attitude is the reason your sons are a bunch of thugs.” That’s right – they weren’t out drinking; they were only at a sleep-over. They weren’t using drugs – their friends were and their sons just happened to be with the wrong people at the wrong time. They are all so misunderstood, aren’t they?

The “Death Penalty Experiment” – failed from the start  1

Posted on June 23rd, 2006. About News and Politics.

Austin told me once that when she receives her Newsweek each week, she looks at the table of contents, then flips to the final page to see if Anna Quindlen is the columnist closing out the issue. When she reads a column by Quindlan, she realizes she is not alone, and says a quiet “Amen” to herself. Regardless of the topic, Quindlan’s words seem to reasonate with reasonable people everywhere.

This week is no exception. Quindlen’s column, featured on the MSNBC website prior to its official release in Newsweek, examines the consistent arguments before the Supreme Court regarding various aspects to how the death penalty is carried out. Is it more humane to use lethal injection rather than electrocution? Is pain actually experienced during the lethal injection? If so, what does that mean? Should we execute mentally retarded people? Criminals who commit murder before the age of 18? Quindlen basically writes – here’s an idea. The death penalty is wrong. We kill people to demonstrate how wrong killing is.

We are one of four nations in the entire world (alongside Iran, China, and Saudi Arabia) who carry out the vast majority of executions. The thought that Iraq may have been more civilized in some respects than the United States is more than disturbing. Or maybe our supply of right-wing fundies believe we are the more enlightened society because the Old Testament condones executions, despite Jesus’s negation of Hammurabi’s code and his plea to love one’s enemies.

 

It is “An Inconvenient Truth,” but Seattleites are getting the message  0

Posted on June 21st, 2006. About Ramblings.

Evan and I saw An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary currently playing in theaters across the nation which features Al Gore and a talk he has given for years on the effects of global warming. I believe it excellently illustrates the inanity of statements from politicians claiming that global warming is not real. I see global warming like I see evolution or plate techtonics – the scientific evidence supporting its existence is overwhelming, and the scientific community acknowledges that it is fact. Yet, a few select “leaders” choose to deny the reality of global warming. Gore is right – it is because the truth is too inconvenient for many of them. I think it is appalling to label those who care about the environment as crazy, liberal hippy types. Somewhere along the way it became very unpopular to preserve our environment. I wonder where these people plan on living as we continue to destroy the earth?

However, more families in the Seattle area continue to recognize this inconvenient truth and find ways to conveniently arrange their lives in such ways that are less harmful to their surroundings. An article in the local paper a few weeks back featured a family in Issaquah who ditched the cars and now only commute using bicycles, public transportation (many of our buses are actually electric trollies, powered by hydroelectric power – very clean!), and their feet. Tonight, Anderson Cooper 360 featured a Seattle family that also said farewell to their vehicle in order to do their part. They are by all reasonable accounts “normal,” a husband and wife with their three children, living in a house (not on a hippy commune), and employed (not sitting around smoking pot and watching lava lamps). Furthermore, their commutes have aided them in getting into shape!

Why is it so impossible to start implementing such changes? No one is asking people to completely give up their beloved gas guzzlers entirely, but why not cut back on the amount of driving/gasoline/smog output? If you live two miles from work, why is it such an insane notion to ride a bicycle? For those of you in rural areas without good, safe ways to get around, I think it’s a shame that your towns are not installing sidewalks and bike lanes to encourage the transportation to which I am referring. If I were the mayor of Irmo, SC, my primary project upon first entering office would be to get a sidewalk installed down Shady Grove Road, through Old Tamah Road in front of Dutch Fork High School, and continuing down Kennerly Road where it would end at Broad River/Hwy 76. It’s a total of four miles of sidewalk, and just think of all of the kids who could either walk or ride their bikes to school rather than DRIVING. We’re encouraging the same habits by not providing kids with a good way to get themselves to school. (Anyone living in Irmo, SC, feel free to borrow this idea and implement it should you become the mayor of this thriving metropolis.)

Food for thought. As for me – I will be pumping air into my bicycle tires tomorrow morning prior to leaving for work, putting plenty of “smug” into the atmosphere to replace the smog. 8)

W Opens Mouth and Inserts Foot  1

Posted on June 18th, 2006. About Health Care, News and Politics.

Some of you may have heard about the president’s recent gaffe when, at a press conference, he began haranguing L.A. Times reporter Peter Wallsten for asking a question while wearing sunglasses. The exchange went like this (referenced from MSNBC and The Daily Show):

Bush: Are you going to ask that question with shades on?

Wallsten: I can take them off.

Bush: I’m interested in the shade look. Seriously.

Wallsten: All right, I’ll keep it, then.

Bush: For the viewers, (he looks at the cameras here) there’s no sun. (laughter in the press corps)

Wallsten: I guess it depends on your perspective.

Bush: (after giving a snorting sort of laugh) Touché.

Peter Wallsten has a degenerative retinal condition known as Stargardt’s Disease that has not only rendered him legally blind, but is thought to progress more slowly with consistent protection from UV light.

Apparently the president was in a joking sort of mood, and I believe he was unaware of Wallsten’s condition. He stuck his foot in his mouth, something we have all done. I do think this situation is reflective of a flaw in the president’s personality on which many have commented since he took office in 2000. Bush always seems to think he knows how things are and implies that others are inferior in some respect. He really behaves quite condescendingly towards others. “We have a really big border with Mexico” and “You can’t read a newspaper if you can’t read” come to mind here.

Fundy congressman has his own issues with Ten Commandments  1

Posted on June 15th, 2006. About News and Politics, Ramblings.

All of you probably know that I greatly respect Stephen Colbert and the show he has co-created on Comedy Central, The Colbert Report. In particular, Evan and I have enjoyed his Better Know A District recurring segment during which he interviews a congressman from a particular U.S. District, the goal being to fill the entire U.S. map. It is a 434 part series – not 435, because former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s district is “dead to me.”

The wittiest and most impressive Better Know A District installment arrived last night during Colbert’s interview with Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland. Westmoreland has co-sponsored a bill to post the Ten Commandments in judicial buildings, even stating that he cannot think of a more appropriate building for them to be located. He expounded on the great importance of the Ten Commandments and how they should be applied consistently in our everyday lives. The best part, though, came when Colbert asked him to name each of the Ten Commandments. Here is the dialogue:

Colbert: What are the Ten Commandments?

Westmoreland: You mean all of them?–Um… (At this point, the camera pans to Colbert, holding his hands up, prepared to hold up a finger counting each commandment correctly named.)Don’t murder. Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Ummmm… (This lasted awhile as Westmoreland thought about it.) I can’t name them all.

At this point, Colbert ended the interview with a cheerful thanks-for-taking-the-time-to-talk-with-us. It was a shocking but simultaneously not shocking sort of hilarity. The segment has been placed in the Comedy Central Motherload – you can view it by clicking here.

So, going back to the title of this post – when I write that this fundy congressman has issues with the Ten Commandments – what I mean is, he doesn’t actually know them.

Warning: a superficial, judgmental post  7

Posted on June 10th, 2006. About Ramblings.

I will openly admit it – I find tattoos ridiculous and somewhat disgusting. Yes, it’s psychological. Yes, it’s my problem. Yes, people have the right to do what they wish with their bodies. Yes, they should remain legal. (I hope that is enough disclaimers for one posting.)

I can pinpoint the exact source of this revulsion. When I was about six years old, my dad took me fishing, and his fishing buddy’s arms were “decorated” with black ink that had once been, I’m sure, an attractive naked woman, but was now nothing but a black splotch with the trace of a nipple. The woman had aged with the man’s arm – she was sagging, drooping. I vowed never to get a tattoo.

Over the years, I have observed as young women tattoo the smalls of their backs or decide that the way to fully express themselves is to find an out-of-the-way body region to place a butterfly. I once saw a woman with five different (visible) butterflies permanently penned, and two thoughts ran across my mind: A) If you love butterflies so much, is it not enough to visit the zoo on a regular basis? and B) Her poor mother probably took folic acid and vitamin E through 40 weeks of pregnancy to bestow upon her daughter the most beautiful skin possible, and I’m sure every day she took those vitamins so that the images of butterflies could arise. The irony here is that tattoos at one point were this very non-conformist thing to do – and now, well, decide for yourself if sticking butterflies all over yourself is the most unique medium for self expression.

Men ink themselves from head to toe with weird figures too – dragons, Chinese characters, and still, naked women seem omnipresent on arms and legs everywhere. Does a 21 year old really say to himself, “You know, when I’m 70 years old and sitting with my wife of 40 years on our porch with the grandkids, it would be so awesome to have my naked high school girlfriend tattooed down my leg”???

Since moving to Seattle I have desperately attempted to accept the tattoos around me as part of the West Coast culture. I love the open-mindedness out here, the respect with which women and homosexuals are treated, the city’s appreciation for foreign cultures – and yet, at 27 years of age, I am still extremely irritated by tattoos. I recognize that this is a very shallow, irrational, and judgmental aspect to my personality, but the harder I try to overcome it the more these figures irritate me. When I see articles like this one about how it’s becoming the hip thing to do to permanently draw all over oneself, I wonder – why does one have to use his or her skin to express who he or she is? Who we are evolves over time, but tattoos are permanent (or leave permanent scars upon removal when you decide maybe you don’t want a huge rising sun on your back). Expressing yourself through what you do and who remembers you – why not try something like this?

The first “red” in MS Money  0

Posted on June 9th, 2006. About Money.

This is the first time since I became an official investor a year ago where the unsettling sight of red greets me when I load my portfolio in MS Money. I have not lost all gains over the past year, but am now negative for my year-to-date returns, and I must admit – not quite as much fun as it was when it was black. 8) Fortunately, pay day was today, so perhaps I will get a little dollar-cost-averaging in for this pay period before things recover.

I also made my first actual stock purchase about two months ago, thinking I had a good idea, and so far – not so much. From now on if I make a purchase from my taxable investment account, it will be in the form of a mutual fund – either index or otherwise. Unless a company gives me stock as a bonus of some sort, I do not think I’ll be purchasing it again any time soon.

What’s in the news today, I wonder?  0

Posted on June 6th, 2006. About News and Politics.

Ahhh, ’twas the question on my mind as I mindlessly typed in http://www.cnn.com this morning (I need to stop defaulting to CNN simply because it is easy to type). Here were my choices for news stories on the home page:

Indianapolis suspect ‘started shooting everybody’ – Wow, started shooting everybody?! How horrifying and simultaneously irresistibly interesting – maybe we should all sit glued to the tv today to learn of the latest breaking developments.
Iran: Nuclear plan ‘positive’ and ‘ambiguous’ What a positively ambiguous headline.
Doctors remove baby’s third arm – Whew, thank the Lord. My sleep has been plagued by images of that third arm – now life can return to normal.
Radio station caters to rapists, killers, robbers – Stuffed salmon and macaroni?
‘Night Stalker’ wants a new murder trial – Well, since we’re not biasing potential jurors against the defendant in the media, why not give him a new trial?
Suspected hit-and-run grannies plead not guilty – Look both ways before crossing the street lest you get mowed down by some hit-and-run granny.
5 shot, 3 killed, in West Virginia home – Ugh!
Tiny officer gets help taking down 6’11” suspect – Nothing like stripping a police officer of a bit of dignity. Would you want to be known as the tiny officer?
6-6-6: Is our number really up? – God only knows.

Why do I even bother with the mass media? From this point, I am officially forcing my fingers not to easily type “cnn.com,” but I vow to go the extra mile to type “bbc.co.uk” or “npr.org” instead. Time to move on – I think I learn more from The Daily Show and several of my fellow bloggers anyway.

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