Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dia 2: Bogota

Our second day in Bogota was really delightful. We went on a bike tour of the city led by "el gringo" Mike, a Californian ex-pat who has lived in Colombia for the past few years.

We saw a lot of the city, including a park created after the most notorious of Bogota's slums was bulldozed, a fruit market where we tried all kinds of exciting fruits that have no English translation, the bull fighting stadium, and the legal red light district which is limited to a restricted "area of high impact social activity," because it affects the neighbors substantially (no pictures of that)...

After we finished the bike tour, we joined up with another of the cyclists and headed up to the cable car up Monserrate, a hill on the edge of the city. With my deep love of public transit, I was quite excited to ride both the cable car (up) and the funicular (down) that run on Monserrate.

There is a church on top of the hill, and as it was Easter Sunday there was mass going on, but we were mostly interested in the stunning views of the city and of the mountains on the other side.

After we came down the hill, we were hungry for dinner and went by the Israeli restaurant that was closed when we pass it on Saturday. It was still closed, but we headed to another Middle Eastern restaurant for the Colombian take on shwarma:


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bienvenidos a Bogota!

We've been in Colombia since Friday, but I haven't had a chance to post before now. Here are a few highlights from our first few days in Bogota!

Starting the trip off right, we visited the Bogota Beer Company, the "cerveceria pequena mas grande de Bogota" - the biggest little brewery in Bogota. The beer was pretty good, and ending our travel day with delicious bar food was a nice transition for our trip.

After a blissfully restful night, we set out to explore part of the city. We rode the Transmilenio, Bogota's bus system masquerading as a metro, and did quite a lot of walking. We walked around the Candelaria, Bogota's historic city center.

We saw the Justice Palace, Congress Building, City Hall, and the Cathedral (pictured above). We also saw the Casa de Narino, the presidential palace, and it's fancy guards. Below is a photo demonstrating the awesomeness of my zoom lens, because we weren't allowed to get very close.

We were pleased to see lots of cyclists around (Colombia is known for amazing cycling performances on the mountain stages of road races), including the one below who stood out wearing the brighter versions of the colors on the houses:

The first museum of the day was the Botero Museum, brimming with his signature voluminous figures in paintings and bronze sculptures. I'd like to point out that Colombia's most famous artist was way ahead of his time in terms of his love of little birds:

After the Botero Museum and some lunch (hard won, I might add, as it was the Saturday before Easter and lot of things were closed), we headed to the Gold Museum. We had a great guide take us through one of the exhibits and tell us about the symbolism and cosmology of the early inhabitants of Colombia, as shown in the beautiful items in the museum. In addition to all kinds of body ornaments and containers, there were some beautiful spindles in the museum:

There are more pictures from Bogota to come, as well as updates about Medellin and Guatape (today's day trip)...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Delicious Chicago

I went to lovely Chicago this weekend for the National Conference of Physician Scholars in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Actually, Chicago was not lovely for most of the weekend, as it rained and generally was cold and wet, but the places I went in Chicago were still delightful. My hotel was right on the river downtown, which is nice for conference going (as the conference was in the same area), but not all that nice for eating or much anything else (other than maybe picture-taking.

I headed directly to Wicker Park to take in the yarn fumes at Nina, my favorite Chicago knit shop. I found some lovely souvenir yarn, as well as a project bag that reminded me of this video:

Put a bird on it!

I was starving by this point, and knew that I wouldn’t make it to dinner without eating something soon. I stopped at the Milk and Honey Cafe, which served a surprisingly spicy corn soup, and was located next to yet another trendy bird sign, causing the hipster index of this neighborhood to spike off the charts.

After a brief stop at the Verizon store to get a new phone charger, I headed back to the hotel to drop off my purchases and headed back west to try out Green Zebra, a fancy-pants vegetarian restaurant I’d been meaning to try for a while now. It proved to mostly live up to the hype!

The salad was mediocre at best. The menu promised roasted squash, but there was none to be found. Toward the end it was even a little grainy, making me wonder whether the lettuce and scallions had been properly washed. The fig dressing was delicious though…

Dinner was amazing. I ordered the Farm Egg, which was a perfectly poached egg on top of smoked creamed potatoes, with little toasts forming a house around the egg. The potatoes were some of the best I've ever had.

Dessert was also incredible, making me wonder whether it is, in fact, only vegetables that cause problems at this vegetarian restaurant… The crème fraiche ice cream was 100% a reason to continue eating dairy…

The rest of the weekend was consumed with the conference, which was, as it was two years ago, a great source for thought-provoking talks as well as some of the best career information I’ve ever received. I think Adam, one of the conference organizers, put it best when he said “this is the conference of my people.” I thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet and reconnect with the other MD/PhD students in the social sciences and humanities!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another knitter…

I spoke on a panel for a class of nursing students today. It was similar to all of the other panels I’ve done over the past 8 years or so, talking about gender, sexuality, and healthcare, except for one thing. Right after we came into the room, as the other panelists and I were organizing ourselves, the instructor walked onto the stage, introduced herself, and then proceeded to explain that she was going to knit during the panel and that we shouldn’t interpret that disrespectfully. I was so pleased to find another knitter! I told her about my own class/meeting/conference knitting, and revealed that I had a sock in my bag that I had considered working on during the panel, but had decided would be too distracting while I was presenting…

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Back in the saddle again

Today was beautiful in Ann Arbor! True to form, it seems that the weather here has leapfrogged over spring into summer, and it was nearly 80F this afternoon. To celebrate, I went on a bike ride with Alicia. It was only 9.6 miles, but my legs are tired… I’m about to start composing an optimistic training schedule, even though I know that it’s likely that much of it won’t happen once rotations begin. I might as well at least have a plan, though…

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

One small step for a current student, one giant leap for me

From AMSA On Call:

Post #7 of the "Back to the Wards" series focusing on the transition from research years back to the medical school and clinical rotations.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, an incredibly gracious current M3 let me shadow him on the first two days of his inpatient pediatrics rotation. I would highly recommend this before returning from an extended absence, as it not only gives you a better sense of what will happen in the months to come, but gives the more advanced student a unique opportunity to demonstrate everything he/she has learned and to teach a newer student.

The logistics: The MD/PhD program identified a willing volunteer who was on an inpatient pediatrics rotation this month, which is what I’ll be doing in either May or June, and put me in touch with him. I decided not to go to orientation, as I knew I’d get my own orientation soon enough, but met up with him following orientation before rounds started for the day. I only spent a few hours with the team on Monday, but I got a good sense of how the team works in the hospital, and when I showed up for pre-rounding on Tuesday, I got a real sense of what medical students do with patients who’ve already been in the hospital for a while. I went on rounds again, saw the med students present, and helped with the tasks that followed.

The lessons: Do this! No amount of shadowing can prepare anyone completely for anything, but it can substantially decrease anxiety. I learned that even after eleven months of clinical rotations, there are still new things to learn and different approaches to adapt to on each service. I saw some great medical students in action, and learned that even folks who haven’t taken a break are constantly learning new things. I also learned that interns, residents, and even attendings are not scary (which should not have been surprising, as many of them were my med school classmates!), and are nice and helpful and willing to teach if you work hard, try new things, and aren’t afraid to ask questions. I also learned that “work hard” includes spending long hours at the hospital. I had a good sense before that this was the case, but spending just two half days in the hospital drove it home.

The bottom line: I need to start believing folks that this will all be fine! There will be long hours, and lots of work, but nothing insurmountable. I’m certain that as crazy as next month may be, at the end of it, I’ll join the chorus reassuring you that you too, will be fine.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sometimes over-ambitious + under-prepared = good enough…

As some of you know, I’ve become a devotee of the Design*Sponge blog feature called Before & After. In this feature, wildly talented designers transform thrift store, basement, and dumpster finds into beautiful works of art. Some of them are quite pricey makeovers, but many simply use a yard or two of beautiful fabric to reupholster a chair, or a coat or two of paint or wood stain on a dresser. There is also a less frequent feature called Before & After Basics that demonstrates a wide range of techniques. Turning old (and often unattractive) pieces of furniture into beautiful things you’d want in your home appeals to me for so many reasons: it’s crafty, thrifty, and does not take 8 years to complete. Imagine my excitement when this lamp-and-side-table-combo showed up next to the dumpster in my apartment complex:

I initially grabbed the shade, thinking that it would work for a lamp I already had, and then when it became clear that it would not, I pulled the whole lamp inside. This is the point when I engaged in a healthy (?) dose of suspension of disbelief. In my head, a few short hours with some paint stripper, leftover bedroom wall paint, and some poly-acrylic finish would yield a table that was pale shiny finished wood with a delicate yellow border, with a matching base. Flash forward to the lamp and I in the bathtub, with me doing my darnedest to neither expose myself nor the municipal water system to the most eco-friendly paint stripper I could find. It became abundantly clear that I was not patient enough to get all of the paint off. Also, it seemed that the wood stain on the base of the lamp would have taken multiple applications of the stripper to remove. Tired and a little sore from hunching over and under the table, I cleaned everything up and let it all dry. Dreams of encountering a beautiful wood table dashed, I resigned myself to a yellow table with a yellow base. Three coats of paint later I was exhausted and it was time for bed. In the morning I applied two coats of water-based poly-acrylic finish, with only a little bit of dust and impatience leading to a less-than-perfect tabletop.

I set it next to my bed and am quite thrilled with the result, even if it’s not exactly what I dreamed.

Walter enjoyed snuggling in the blankets and pillows while I finished the lamp:

And then promptly posed for a photo when I tried to get a good picture: