Monday, August 30, 2010


Today was my first real day back from my much needed end-of-summer vacation. Technically I arrived home last Thursday, but practically I needed a few days to catch up and also a few more days of relaxation before jumping into fall. Though I travelled a lot this summer, this was really the first trip where I got to relax. I saw the Smithsonian Museum of American History and the Air and Space Museum with Matt and Sonia in DC (see me with the Wright Brothers below), and enjoyed delicious food and wonderful company the whole weekend I was there. I must say, enjoying AMSA from the outside (having retired from the national leadership) is truly a treat.

From DC, my flight through JFK was really delayed so I was graciously (!) rerouted by Delta through Detroit to Burlington. Feeling not only I like I got a great deal on my ticket (since I ultimately didn’t just fly in a circle, I flew home in between, even if only for 45 minutes), but also like for the first time in my life Delta actually had a workable solution to a flight problem, I arrived in Burlington, VT pretty happy. I was made even happier by getting to see Ash who is always the hostest with the mostest. It helps that she tends to live in places where delicious foods are made… And that she works in places that allow me to “rent” [for free] awesome bikes that I will not be able to afford for many years… It was a fantastic trip (see Ash and I/Ben and Jerry enjoying ourselves at the factory tour), and I already miss the kitties (another thing Ash has going for her).

If anything was going to prepare me for the fall, this was it… Bring on the semester!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This [deadline] too shall pass…

I finally finished a draft of the final report for the grant project I’ve been working on all summer. I’d hoped to have it done yesterday, but didn’t quite make that deadline. As a result, this morning was a bit of the frenetic kind of writing that I hate. Even more than the frenzied pace of this mornings work, however, I dislike the vaguely anxious feelings it leaves me with for the rest of the day. Finishing something I’ve been either putting off or just working diligently on for a long time always makes me feel like there is something else I should be doing. This is why I had a defacto moratorium on talking to/engaging with people before I had read an entire work of fiction when I came home on breaks during college, and why I was horrible to be around during most of my first two years medical school (mostly because the moratorium should have continued, and didn’t). In an attempt to learn from these experiences, I’m planning to go on a long bike ride this evening and take a page from Walter’s playbook, who feels no qualms about barking at me to pet him if he does not feel sufficiently relaxed:

As an aside, I was interested in the origins of the proverb that gave the title to this post. I checked Wikipedia…

Sunday, August 15, 2010


If you’ve talked to me recently, you’ve probably heard about the profusion of babies in my life. None of them are mine, but all of them are connected to me in some way or another, sufficiently closely that I wish to knit something to welcome them into the world. There are classmates and colleagues, friends and family members, all having babies this year. As of last count there were 10 babies either already born this year (five) or scheduled to arrive in November or December (another five). This is a lot of babies! Luck for me, baby gifts are little…

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Farmers Market Bounty

Now that I’m in town for longer than 5 days, I’m enjoying the farmers market.* It is the perfect time of year because lots of things are done growing and ready to be eaten. I froze a bunch of green beans and wax beans (because anything that is on sale if you buy a “bucket” has to be worth it), and have been enjoying the purple beans (which I refuse to freeze because they turn normal green when you blanch them, so I insist on eating them raw), as well as tomatoes and will soon enjoy some broccoli as well. I don't have time for a long post, but wanted to share some pretty vegetable pictures... (And a fruit picture... but it's less beautiful...)

(Also, a quick unsolicited pitch for Locavorious, which is the frozen CSA I’ve subscribed to. I never thought I would look forward to winter produce, but theirs is delicious! I will get to eat all kinds of farmers market goodies that I missed while I was out of town.)

*I would like to note that I did not put an apostrophe after “farmers” because the website for the Ann Arbor Farmers Market did not, but the Wikipedia entry for “Farmers’ Markets” did include one. If you have strong feelings about this, please comment. I couldn’t decide one way or the other…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

400 miles…

The odometer on my bike clicked past 1600 a few weeks ago, and today I recorded my 400th mile for the year. (As an aside, does the odometer still “click” if it’s digital?) As someone who loves to record things, I am still adoring Bike Journal, where I can record the date, duration, distance, and terrain type of my rides. This is how I know I’ve ridden just over 400 miles. I am also at the same time humbled and pleased to be ranked 3948th out of 5962 riders on the site. It’s based purely on distance logged this year, and I like looking at the top riders to see where they’ve ridden, and how far. Like this rider who does leisurely day rides of 196 miles. So cool!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Breaks – the gifts that keep on giving

This is a post I conceived of a while back, and have been meaning to post for the better part of a month. It is a reminder to myself (and perhaps to you) that taking breaks is good for you. Not only does taking a break allow you to recharge and return to work fresh and motivated, the benefits of the break rarely end with that initial payoff. Whether it’s the cool clean sheets on the bed that were only possible because of a laundry and reading break in the late afternoon, a delicious snack made possible by taking a pause to make hummus, or even just a lasting feeling of accomplishment for reading a book that was not related to work/school, the good things that come from taking breaks are many. I am continually reminded of this when I cook with fresh basil. The plants that continue to thrive in my living room were sprouted during a particularly difficult spring semester a little over a year ago, and were transplanted into pots during my preliminary exams, at both points they provided a much necessary pause in otherwise hectic periods. And… as if that weren’t enough… they have been providing delicious fresh herbs for over a year!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Practice makes perfect

Or at least a little better…  As many of you know, I sat, um, toward the back of the cello section in the Life Sciences Orchestra last year.  In general I am really competitive (particularly with myself as I’ve matured, though privately often also with others).  However, the huge number of things I enjoy has meant that as my life becomes increasingly full I’ve had to settle for being pretty average at some of them (cooking, cycling, salsa dancing, to name a few).  Mostly this is fine with me.  As long as I’m doing well enough to enjoy what I’m doing, I’m happy, and in particular if I can continue to improve and compete with myself, I have learned to care little for how I do compared to others.  Orchestra has become a bit of a sore spot, however, as I haven’t been motivated to make practicing a priority for the past few years, and my technique has suffered greatly.  It has made orchestra less fun, which I didn’t realize until I started practicing last year and realized that it is notably more enjoyable to already know the rough spots in the music before rehearsal!  All this to say that I’m resolving to practice a bit more this summer.  Whether I sit further forward in the section is somewhat of a moot point (though I wouldn’t be sad to be able to see the conductor regularly), I just want to be better than I was last year. 

Life lesson here: Sometimes it’s hard to tell what it takes to be “good enough.”

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Sleepy puppy...

I thought it was time for a gratuitous Walter photo...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

August? Really?

I don’t think I have ever had a summer go this quickly. Or a year, for that matter. It seems like just yesterday I was marveling at the arrival of 2010, and here I am wondering how the first 7 months have gone by.

You’ll all be pleased to know (I’m sure) that I’m finally settling into the apartment, though I haven’t yet painted the walls I’d hoped to and I still have a few things left to pick up (notably an alarm clock). I’m also pleased to finally have a few uninterrupted weeks to work on the dissertation.

To help get through the unending heat of the summer here is a picture of the lovely Gellert Baths in Budapest – like swimming in a palace!