Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ho Ho Holosystolic Murmur!

Studying for finals. I think that's funny. I'm sorry if you don't.

This vole is very, very busy. This vole is not doing her share of dishes. Partner vole deserves medal for living through this. Partner vole will get vole treats.

I took time out from the heart, lungs and kidneys to make our apartment look a little more festive:

I think that's a Serotta under there, but John would be the expert. I'm still searching for some of those classic glass balls to complete the look. And the whole thing comes off the stand, should someone actually want to do some wrenching.

B-b-brrrr. For SoCal, it is cold. I have started commuting by bike and bus, and I spend a lot of time outdoors these days. I'm enjoying it so far, but I have underestimated the chill a few nights in a row now. John is furiously buying winter gear at REI -- it's so cute -- and I am digging out what I have left from my days of mountaineering. Hats. Gloves. Long stretchy things made of synthetic fibers. Pics of me ridiculously bundled up to come.

The upside of riding to work/school is that you get to eat whatever you want! I recently treated John to an all-you-can-eat breakfast at the artery-hardening Cafe Med at UCLA. Below is the damage, or what remained after about 60 seconds:

Hot wings were the absolute best, followed by the hashed browns. Bacon also excellent, coffee needs improvement, but cut the grease and woke me up for class. In general, commuting rocks -- the food is great, you arrive at school with your brain working and not wanting to kill anyone.

Can't WAIT for break. Sleep. Convert bike to fixed gear. Buy band-aids for shins and knees. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.

I'd end with some fascinating physiology tidbit, but I'm just too tired.

When the dust settles, compromising photographs from SantaCon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Adventures on Four and Two Wheels

The Thursday before last, I rear-ended a remarkably understanding woman driving a Mercedes while going west on Sunset Boulevard. I was lost in a reverie regarding the kidney while on my usual route to school. I went when I should have stopped in stop-and-go traffic. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and her car sustained little damage.

Lucky (the name of my car), however, was not so, and photos make it appear that I attempted to drive under the luxury vehicle on my way to class. The class happened to be Clinical Skills: Abdominal Exam. My classmates palpated enthusiastically, eager to find signs of internal bleeding, but all they found were an achy back, some sore ribs, and multiple frazzled nerves.

Against advice, and probably, in retrospect, against the law, I drove up to Santa Barbara for a Veteran's Day weekend with John and the family. We enjoyed some riding around Santa Barbara, including a visit to Velo Cafe (web site with shopping coming soon!), a bike shop packed to the gills with frames, parts, and accessories from around the world. I went to the bathroom and passed a floor-to-ceiling rack of vintage water bottles. We met the very nice owner Baron, who regaled us with tales of shopping for vintage bikes around Europe. He let us into a back room with lots of vintage cycling clothing. I picked up a maroon jersey (unfortunately Trojan colors) and some wool cycling shorts. The best part was watching John take in more bike parts than he could use in his lifetime ... you could see the gears (the ones in his brain) turning.

The next day we warily eyed the sky for rain and drove to Buellton for a "Sideways" ride -- a loop between Buellton and Lompoc that takes in some of the wineries and sights from the movie. To be honest, I was flat-out terrified that I wasn't going to survive the 40-something mile ride. Fear and copious amounts of coffee forced an emergency bathroom stop in Solvang -- a fake Danish village that attracts a lot of tourists but is frustratingly short on bathrooms. In case you find yourself in similar dire straits, I have mapped the location of the Solvang public restrooms.

The first few miles were creaky at best. I felt clumsy and awkward on an uphill stretch against an annoying headwind. But by the crest of first big climb, I was feeling better and taking in the scenery instead of gasping for breath. First stop: Babcock winery for wine tasting, trail mix, and some duct tape modification to my flapping pant leg. Then we headed toward Lompoc, while the wind headed toward Buellton. We looked around for a bike shop in Lompoc for a while, realized we weren't going to make it to Sanford Winery before it closed, and stopped for grilled cheese and pie. On the way back we took the smaller, winding Santa Rosa Road. As night fell, John managed to get his chain wrapped in an alarming tangle between his big chain ring and right crank. We attempted not to panic and John worked mechanical miracles while I held a headlight over the operation. The rest of the ride was in completely dark and eerily quiet; later John and I confessed our fears of the dark. Mine: running over a skunk. His: getting attacked by a mountain lion.

We shouted deliriously when we saw Pea Soup Anderson's, and kept up the noise until we hit the parking lot at our final destination: The Hitching Post. Undaunted by an 1 1/2 hour wait (John, helmet in hand, pants tucked into socks, in the lobby: "Did these people just ride to Lompoc and back?!?") we rode some victory laps and then sat down at the bar with a bottle of wine and roasted artichoke, followed by the best steak (flat iron) of my life.

(Photos by John on his spiffy iPhone!)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Extra Crunchy

I've got a blog about cars brewing, and I want to write about my awesome weekend riding bicycles in Santa Barbara. But today, for reasons I can't really go into, I feel like a vole again. As always, thank goodness for my vole partner ... perhaps I'll send him for some ice cream.

PS: I spanked my Block 1 final. But I'm still voleish.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A few words about fake blood

a) It does wash off. So far.
b) It is not anticoagulated! Luckily, in fake-blood hematology, the most effective anticoagulant is water. Studies have shown that a 1:3 water to blood ratio gets stuff moving.
c) If you want to create arterial spray, put your anticoagulated blood in a ziploc freezer (don't take your chances with sandwich) bag and poke a tiny hole in. Bingo! Systolic pressure!
d) Make sure the bag is sealed.
e) Do all of the above in a bathtub.
f) Leave ample time for fake blood to dry because that is so not going in the dryer.
g) Don't tell John I did any of this in our apartment.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I missed my own birthday.

So I've been having a little pity party as of late, the usual "oh-I'm-so-depressed-that-I- have-to-do-first-year-over-again" festivities. But I was so pitiful this time that I bailed out of my own birthday, first out of a fun bike ride (all downhill!) on Tuesday and a birthday dinner last night. I finally finished picking up party detrtitus (kleenex and empty Ben & Jerry's cartons) and got back to my e-mail and the InterWeb. My most exotic birthday greeting comes from Anchorage, Alaska, where my friend Kirsten is still blogging as the snow comes down. She sends me e-mails with the word "sledding" in it and the Google-driven ads on my e-mail go crazy. Dog-sledding vacations! I was thinking fish tacos and Coronas, but now that you mention it ...

John bought me a great big owl candle to be my spirit guide, staring down at my from my bookcase while I study. He also bought me a first edition of The Classic Cuisine of Vietnam, from whence the curry comes. Phew, now I can branch out. This is blasphemous, but I was getting a little tired of it. The cookbook has awesome food photos circa 1979 and a nice story behind it -- when author Bach Ngo left Vietnam, she had thirty minutes notice, so she threw all her recipes in a suitcase and took off.

Ngo's story and the apocalyptic fires raging around us the last few days got me thinking what I would take. I have one box of letters and photos that would go, and I guess my two laptops would contain everything else. I think about disaster scenarios enough (hey, I'm a SoCal native after all) to know this right away, and hopefully I'll remember when the time comes. I also hope I stay calm and do smart things like this one guy who I heard kept calling his answering machine. As long as the answering machine picked up, he knew his house was still there. (Me, I'd be headed for the wine aisle of the nearest grocery store. Is there a Trader Joe's on the way to the evacuation site? Thanks.)

While I sit around feeling sorry for myself, hundreds of square miles catch on fire. Clearly I'm in the right place. Thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone. I'll be stumbling around with a Herradura bottle as soon as I am able.

PS - I know you know that I love this blog, but this is especially delightful. Yeah, they kinda do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Vole Update!

At the moment, I have survived my (second) first anatomy lab and I reek of formaldehyde.

But ... I just learned that voles mate for life. My friend Minh was willing to get close enough to me to report this very exciting fact. He was completely unaware of my recent interest in the rodents.

It seems that voles have more receptors for vasopressin and oxytocin, chemicals that work in voles and human to produce the very romatic-sounding "pair bonding." We get it when we cuddle or when someone leaves the toilet seat down for us.

Here are some vole life-partners for you:


Loosely translated, kindly tell me when my exam results will be posted because I am going out of my mind.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Out from the Vole Hole

I haven't seen my scores yet, but I'm bouncing back -- even I have a limit on self-loathing and second-guessing.

Special thanks to John for peering down the vole hole and yanking me out with a trip to Brooklyn Bagel this morning, and for sending me this story about bicycle-riding day laborers.

As is the eternal conundrum of the left, how to unite those who ride bicycles to make a statement (and for fun!) and those who ride out of necessity. I've been wracking my brain trying to work cycling into a research project for medical school ... I'll stash this article away for future inspiration.

By the way, I voted for the guy who got the Nobel Peace Prize and all I got was this lousy War on Terror.

But I did discover Loose Change - Second Edition in my local video store! (Yes I still frequent one ... sometimes I get too impatient for Netflix.) I know, I know, sometimes I take my conspiracy theories too far, but I totally had my dad convinced after watching it.

Tonight is Midnight Ridazz ... finally relaxing and getting my ride on!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


This is a vole. Owls eat voles. Today I feel like a vole.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

T minus 45 minutes

And thank you, Stephanie, for reading. I hope you get into that anatomy class. Then we can both smell like formaldehyde at the same time. We can go to Boiling Crab to freshen up.

Friday, October 05, 2007


Sorry if this makes you want to barf, but I always appreciate a shout-out. Look at it this way, at my age, I put my boyfriends through an intense vetting process. Don't want them dropping dead during, um, a bike ride.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Grinch Who Stole Health Insurance

George W. Bush. He just vetoed a bill to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program. Let me get this straight, our fine POTUS doesn't think that poor children deserve health insurance? What are they supposed to do? Get off their lazy butts and get a job with benefits? (Oops, no time, too busy studying for standardized tests!) Invest in their health savings accounts?

Here's a photo of President Bush right after he sold his soul to Satan (again):

And by the way, and he did it while visiting the Amish. Look out -- if he visits a Buddhist temple or Quaker meeting house, we should anticipate that we're finally invading Iran.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Geeking out

I'm in serious study mode, but I've found a fun outlet for my nervous energy.

MedGadget is holding a science fiction writing contest. Maybe if I'm not too shy, I'll post my entry here. Here are some of last year's winners.

This Blackwater report is totally nuts. Mother Jones was pretty interested in them back in 2003. (Just wanted to give a shout-out to my alma mater.)

Embryology - the study of what makes Emily curl up in the fetal position.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I love this photo

Reminds me that an ER doc at UCLA is doing some amazing work on the Thai/Burmese border. Check out Tom Lee, MD and the Global Health Access Program.

Off to bed, immunology has got the best of me. In another life, I will be a photojournalist.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hipster Doctor

First off, many thanks to John -- a voracious blog consumer -- for finding this for me and pulling me out of a studying-for-finals funk.

So there's some serious buzz about Jay Parkinson, MD MPH, who has just set up shop in Brooklyn. Williamsburg, to be exact, which is like the Indus Valley for hipsters. According to the WSJ Health Blog, he's got no office, makes only house calls, and manages his practice on an iPhone and a laptop. His super-sexy web site posits some pretty good ideas about the doctor-patient relationship, and in medicine in general:
"I believe that health care should be accessible, affordable, and personal." Definitely.
"We'll make decisions about your health together ... my main goal is a solid understanding of your own health." Sure thing.
"We can solve small problems early before they explode into something large and costly." Good thinking.

Here's the deal: he's a genius, with a brilliant business plan. But he's not a hero. Er, not my hero. (Sorry, John.)

He treats patients ages 18 to 40 -- a relatively healthy demographic. (I could insert all sorts of snarky comments about latte burns and fixed-gear-bikes-without-brakes accidents, but I'm not that kind of person.) He's bringing a fairly tried-and-true practice model called "concierge medicine" to the Williamsburg crowd. You pay for 24/7 access, a warm and fuzzy doctor-patient relationship, and his connections to "some of the best ranked hospitals in the world with the highest quality specialists."

But what if ...
Something goes wrong? Even his quoted "bargain" price for a trip to the neurologist (for my pesky new problem with migraines, say) is pretty steep: $850.
You don't have the fortune of living in lovely Williamsburg, or you just turned 41?
Maybe you turn out to have a chronic health condition that Dr. Jay just can't manage over his iPhone?

Parkinson isn't the only one who's caught on to health insurance for the hip, young, and healthy. Blue Cross offers Tonik, a no-frills, bargain insurance plan (with a slightly less cool web site.)

I guess Parkinson will improve health care for 1,000 fortunate Williamsburg residents. He seems like a well-meaning guy with a nice smile. But I can't get behind fixing a broken system by opting out of it. 45 million Americans are uninsured right now and another 50 million could be financially ruined by a major illness. Parkinson's got an MPH from Hopkins; he knows this.

I could go on. I should. But I have to study, so in 3 3/4 years, I can flash my winning smile for a county hospital badge, one that's got my name on it with an MD at the end.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Alice Waters and the Three-Legged Chicken

If I were a chicken, I would like to go out as a bowl of Ca Ri Ga -- Vietnamese chicken curry.
I've taken the recipe on as The One Thing I Cook, and I had a craving for it this afternoon. (Photo by John)

I pondered the chicken's point of view while driving 14.6 miles round trip to purchase lemon grass and other wholesome, organic ingredients at the Whole Foods in Glendale. I drove the whole way without A/C (to save the planet), so I felt hot and sweaty when I arrived. Just as if I had ridden my bike.

Inside the supermarket utopia, I wandered around in a daze as usual (must be the hemp shopping bags) and forgot to buy, um, chicken. Then I stared intently at a woman while she talked on her phone the entire time the checker checked her out, bagged her groceries, and processed her check. (Who writes checks?)

So after a brief moment of earth-mama joy when I thought a big green snake was crossing the freeway (it was a garden hose) I drove over to Ralph's and bought chicken -- the Picnic Pak. I am such a white hippie girl, but raw chicken on the bone so grosses me out.

Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be studying for finals.

Alice Waters is publishing "The Art of Simple Food" -- it's hailed as "The Joy of Cooking" for the Chez Panisse crowd. It's supposed to have easy recipes for cooks who like that scene but don't always have the time to squeeze their own agave nectar. (Would tequila be close enough?) It sounds like a good way to venture out from the comfort of the Ca Ri Ga.

PS - here's the recipe.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Into the (Sort Of) WIld

My good friends are in Anchorage, Alaska right now. They've been blogging since they got there this summer. Kirsten is one of my best friends from Santa Barbara, and Chris, her husband, is a professor on sabbatical. They have a son, Soren. Their writing covers navigating moose on bicycle, recipes for 60 pounds of halibut, and knitting squid hats. They're funny in the best way - dry, and they take pictures of moose poop.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Autumn Migration

Monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles each year to winter in Mexico. (I wish I could say the same.) So as my orange and black winged friends head south, I'm migrating my blog back to Blogger. Interim posts can be read on my on-again, off-again MySpace page.

In a nutshell:
I quit medical school. Er, took a Leave of Absence.
I met a wonderful person named John who makes me laugh and corrects my grammar.
I started riding my bicycle again.
I started medical school again.

My sister bought a horse, which I thought would cause an uproar in la familia, but he's more like our first grandchild. His name is Bugsy ... I'm crocheting him a blanket right now. In brown, I guess.

I'm at that age where people I assumed would be around forever aren't anymore. A Wrinkle in Time author Madeline L'Engle is one of those people. She passed away on Septmeber 8th at 88. "There is such a thing as a tesseract."

PS - When you (I) constantly blog about yoga and transcendence, it usually means that you're (I'm) a complete mess on the inside. Good blogging demands mess on the outside. I promise to do my best. No more yoga poses unless they enhance your sex life, but we're still freeing Tibet. On bicycles.