Friday, October 29, 2010

Puppy play time!

I am dog-sitting for Ferdinand this weekend while his enviably fit owner runs a marathon in DC. I picked him up at 2pm today and I don't think Walter will ever forgive me if I actually return him on Monday. Here is approximately how it went today:

Tug of war begins...

They learn to share...

Ferdinand loses interest...

They forget how to share but embrace anyway...

Ferdinand gets ridiculous, and Walt remains ridiculous...

And finally, once Walt has tired out Ferdinand he remains vigilant in his bed...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vote early and often

The midterm elections are just around the corner, so I thought I’d post my usual links to information about voting as well as the usual reminders about what you can and cannot do at the polls. Also, if you’re voting absentee, don’t forget to mail in your ballot!

First, some notes about voting in person in Michigan:

Remember that you are allowed to bring whatever you want with you to the polls, as long as there is no campaign material visible. This means it's perfectly legal to print out a ballot, mark all of your preferences and notes, and carry it in your pocket to the polls. If you have a button, t-shirt, etc with a candidate's name on it, you can still vote, you just have to cover the item when you get within 100 ft of the polling place.

Michigan requires identification in order to vote, but if you don’t have ID you can simply sign an affidavit and vote anyway. Details from the secretary of state about the law and how to get a state ID card if you’d like one can be found here.

Second, if you aren’t sure where to vote, how to do it, or who to vote for, check out these resources:

Michigan Voter Information Center: Find out where you are registered to vote, find your polling location, contact your local election official, learn to use your voting equipment, and view a sample ballot.

ACLU Voting Rights Guide: This has information on what to do if you're told you can't vote at the polls, including the Election Protection Hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE Get your whole ballot and use their nifty side-by-side comparison to see what the candidates said and their background information.

Ann Arbor Chronicle Article about candidates for the board of the Ann Arbor District Library.

League of Women Voters: They collect information about the candidates and line it up so you can compare their views on different questions.

Citizens Research Council of Michigan: Look here for nonpartisan analysis of the ballot initiatives that we'll be voting on here in Michigan.

Still have questions or didn’t find what you were looking for? If you don’t live in Michigan, visit to print out a ballot, find your polling place, and find contact information for local officials, or check your local Secretary of State website for details on how to vote near you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A knitting victory!

I knit a lot… And I know that… Nonetheless, in the fall and winter when school ramps up I knit less than I do in the summer. Which means that sometimes things that get started in the winter don’t get finished until… much later. Enter the gray vest: I cast on for the bottom of the ribbing last February. Then, I became consumed with a variety of other projects all summer and didn’t really come back to the vest until school started. Now, finally, after the amount of time it takes most people to create a fully formed human, I can finally present the finished garment. (Please note that I recently posted about my desire to knit instead of doing work. In light of this, please do not pass along the happy news of my knitting accomplishments to any of my dissertation committee members…)

You will note that the best lighting in my apartment at night is in the bathroom... This should explain the oddly plush (actually terrycloth) backdrops.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Spiced Fennel Potatoes and Cabbage Salad

Born somewhat of necessity (in the interest of prolonging a trip to the grocery store), I made two new recipes last week. One was a modification of an old favorite, and the other was a first attempt at a new way to prepare potatoes. The whole meal proved fast and delicious! Here they are:

Spice Fennel Potatoes
Adapted from Easy Indian in Minutes

2 tablespoons neutral oil (or butter, if you’re feeling decadent)
4 gloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 teaspoons mild chili powder
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 tablespoon ground fennel
1 lb small potatoes, quartered and cooked (I boiled them for a bit)
1 serrano chile, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and cook until it starts to brown. Add the chili powder, fennel (both whole and ground), potatoes and chile, and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately!

Chat Masala Vegetable Salad

2 cups shredded cabbage (any will work – mine was beautiful purple)
2 small tomatoes, sliced or cubed (mine were green zebras – so pretty)
1/4 cup frozen edamame, thawed
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons Chunky Chat Masala (I use MDH brand, available in most Indian grocery stores and really delicious on most fruits and vegetables.)

Stir the chat masala into the lemon juice, then add all of the vegetables to the bowl and stir to coat. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who will be there?

From AMSA On Call:

Welcome to the second installment in a series on returning to the wards after several years as a MSTP doctoral student in public health. You can find my first (and introductory) post here. (You can find all of these posts by looking for the tag "Back To The Wards".) This particular post was motivated by a series of events that have prompted me to think about who I’ll be working with next year.

As it sinks in that I'll really be going back, I've thought a lot about the class I’ll be joining. It will be made up of a few individuals I've worked with or made friends with, former students and folks who know me from lectures I've given, people I've never met, and some returning MSTP classmates. Apart from the medical students I'll be rotating with, however, I'll be working with 4th year medical students, interns, residents, and attendings, as well as medical assistants, nurses, techs, physicians assistants and a variety of other healthcare personnel . Of these, I'm likely to have met a few of them in my previous 6 years at UMMS or in the university at large. I anticipate running into my former boss at the Women’s Health Resource Center at various points, perhaps encountering nurses and administrators who have been involved with the UMMS Pride Network, and seeing physicians who have worked with other student organizations I've been involved with. I also expect to see instructors I've taught for and worked with in other capacities. These interactions promise to be somewhat straightforward, however, with normal rules of etiquette covering all that I need. Though there will likely be a few "how should I address this person" moments, I'm looking forward to showing these colleagues that I've made it and am finally back on the wards.

The interactions I've described above are not the ones I've been thinking most about, however. Instead I've been considering the friends and medical school classmates who will be 4th years, interns, residents, and even potentially attending when I start my rotations. Do you call your friend Dr. So-and-so when you've been calling her by her first name for the past 6 years? Are the expectations higher or lower or can they possibly be the same if your supervisor or evaluator knows you in a context outside of medicine? These questions are not unique to returning MD/PhD students, but apply to many medical students who worked in the same healthcare setting where they are now in school. I suppose I'll have to pin down a few folks over the next few months and grill them about their experiences and the etiquette they used to get through them…

Finally, I've been thinking a lot about friends and colleagues who won't be there when I go back. Last week the world lost an incredible individual when Sujal Parikh died after a motorcycle accident. He was an inspiration with his dedication to global health, HIV/AIDS research, responsible global exchange, and the huge range of student organizations he joined and led (including AMSA). He would have come back to finish his 4th year next year, and I would have had a chance to work with him as a sub-I or on exciting extracurricular things. Though Suj is the most recent and striking example, there are others who won't be there on the wards next year because of illness or untimely passing, or to care for a loved one. It's hard not to feel powerless in the face of these losses, and wonder whether every day will bring some reminder, but I'll be keeping those colleagues in my thoughts and if I can, working just a little bit harder in their memory.

A funny thing happened on the way to the wards...

From Dose of Reality:

It’s finally starting to sink in that I’m going back to medical school next year. As much as I’ve been writing and thinking about it recently, it’s only just now occurred to me that I will be rejoining the current M2 class, a class of medical students who have been together since the first day of the their first year of medical school. I will be the “new” girl who doesn’t know anyone, and who certainly didn’t take Step 1 two weeks ago, or even two years ago.

This really hit home when I was talking with a former student of mine who subsequently started medical school at Michigan. She is a second year, and going through the normal joy of M2 coursework, wondering what scheduling clinical rotations will be like in a few months, and generally panicking about the process of learning clinical medicine. I think that most M2s share a mixed bag of emotions that includes excitement at the prospect of finishing up with classroom-based learning, terror at the prospect of even a small amount of clinical responsibility, and nervousness about performing adequately as a third year student on the wards. I’ve always sympathized with this predicament, even as I laughed to myself at my privileged position as onlooker who wouldn’t have to deal with this for quite some time. Suddenly, however, it hit me that I was no longer to be an onlooker.

This realization was made all the more real when I ran into a friend from BGLAM, the student group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students at UMMS. He is an M2 and was preparing to see a standardized patient on the morning that I ran into him. At this point in my academic career, I feel a bit more like an advisor to my favorite student groups than a participant, even though I’m obviously still a student. I drop in when I can, provide an… historical (?) perspective. However, as we rode toward school and discussed BGLAM and when we might next see each other, I realized that soon we would be classmates and I would be a “normal” BGLAM member again: a medical student educating and supporting other medical students. So bizarre...

Monday, October 18, 2010

(Through) Chicago

I returned today from a family wedding outside of Chicago.  Although I’m feeling a little bit behind, I got to see my grandma for the first time in way too long (years…  really…) and had a really nice time with my family.  We went to the botanical gardens near my aunt’s house in the morning, and then headed over to the wedding. 

It was yet another lovely ceremony.  It really makes me happy to see yet another wedding that is so well suited to the couple getting married.  Everything from the welcome dinner to dessert at the reception seemed to fit Kristina and Evan to a tee, and I think everyone else had a great time too!  Congratulations to the newlyweds!

On the way home, we stopped for lunch at an unlikely but incredible Thai restaurant.  It’s called Ban Thai and the proprietor (Jimmy) is one of the friendliest people I’ve run into in a long time.  He introduced himself by name when we came in, and shared with us the history of the restaurant as he brought us our menus.  In addition to the food being delicious (and the lunch specials fantastic), the decor was just lovely.  It’s located on Niles Rd. just off of I-94 in St. Joseph, MI, so if you’re traveling between anywhere east of Ban Thai and Chicago, I’d highly recommend making the stop!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Feeling crafty

I suppose everything ebbs and flows, but it seems like my desire to be crafty is particularly variable and highly correlated with my ability to focus on the rest of the things I’m supposed to be doing.  Take this week, for example: it’s been a really sad week in which I’ve attended 2 memorial services already, and will be heading to another tonight for my medical school friend who passed away on Wednesday.  All of this sadness has made it rather difficult to focus on my work.  I keep coming up against the inevitable connections between my work and that of my deceased friends and colleagues, and just feeling frustrated at the world for taking them away before they had a chance to keep getting more amazing.  Instead of thinking about my work, I find myself thinking about the knitting projects I’d like to make for myself, the ones I’m already working on for myself and for others, and the things I want to get done before particular deadlines (holidays, due dates, etc).  I suppose it’s not irrational to want to create something soft and warm in the face of all of this destruction, but it is a little frustrating overlaying the other deadlines in my life…  Hopefully things will look up soon, and until then, I’ll keep taking little breaks to dream about baby booties, sweater vests, and other crafty pursuits…

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

And now for something completely different…

I thought a happy post was in order, and a comment by Kurt, my cubicle-mate at SPH, provided just the necessary fodder. You see, Kurt had a birthday this weekend. Kurt, as well as most of my friends at this point, is past most of the really exciting birthdays where you get to be a teenager for the first time, get to drive, get to vote, get to drink, or even get to rent a car for the normal price. Kurt is a thoughtful individual, however, and pointed out that after this particular birthday, he is now eligible to be president of the United States. I now have something to look forward to at 35!

These photos are from my visit to the Smithsonian in August, and although they are a little blurry (shocking that there would not be enough light for flash-less photos at the pretend-t0-be-the-president-area), I think that they are still kind of awesome. I believe the background is from FDR's inaugural address...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A friend in need…

Things have been a little crazy around here, what with my first math exam tomorrow afternoon (!) as well as the usual craziness of dissertation writing. In addition to all kinds of academic stresses, sad things seem to be happening all over. It started with the passing of Sam, Alicia’s mom’s miniature dachshund. Several friends have had relative pass on this week, and though some were expected, and even welcome as an end to a long period of suffering, it doesn’t make the loss any easier. Finally, tonight I learned that a friend from the medical school who has been abroad in Uganda was in a serious accident recently. His situation is tenuous, and it is an all too scary reminder of how dangerous travel can be. I’ll be keeping him and his family in my thoughts, and hoping that he will pull through against all odds.

Friday, October 08, 2010

End of the week...

Apologies for the dearth of posts recently. Things have been busy, but hopefully this makes up for it:

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Really a tragedy

The last few weeks have brought a great deal of sad news to the LGBT community. In listening to The Savage Love Podcast (Dan Savage’s amazing podcast) last week, I learned that 15 year-old Billy Lucas had taken his life after classmates called him a fag and told him to kill himself. Then, earlier this week, I read in the New York Times that 18 year-old Tyler Clementi had jumped from the GW Bridge in New York after having his romantic life broadcast online by a roommate. Just one day later I learned that Andrew Shirvell, an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan, had been stalking and harassing Chris Armstrong, the first openly gay president of the Michigan Student Assembly. Shirvell is also apparently the “concerned alum” who was up in arms about the appearance of a rainbow sticker at New York Pizza Depot a few years back. (Thanks for sending that link mom!)

At this point, you may be wondering, what can I do? How can I help? Here are some suggestions:

Both and the Detroit News have reported that Shirvell has been suspended or that he has taken a personal leave. This link will take you to a site organized by the Victory fund (a group that supports LGBT candidates) to send a message to Mike Cox, the Michigan Attorney General, asking him to dismiss Shirvell.

In response to Billy Lucas’ death, Dan Savage created the “It Gets Better Project,” YouTube channel, which features videos submitted by out LGBT individuals letting kids who may be going through a rough time that life gets better after you leave high school. His The first video, posted by Dan and his boyfriend Terry is inspiring and the outpouring of support (and thousands of videos) is incredible. Check out the site, and if appropriate, make a video yourself!

Finally, I hope that all of you will make sure to share an anti-bullying message whenever you get the chance. You can use this HRC Action Alert to contact Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to encourage anti-bullying programs across the country, or you can get involved in your own school district and ensure that the necessary policies are in place to protect vulnerable kids where you live.