Tuesday, September 29, 2009

how to recongnize a mail bomb

Thank you, Stanford Department of Public Safety, for sharing these very helpful instructions on how to recognize a mail bomb (original from Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms):

Weezer, Raditude (a superficial review)

Weezer's been on probation for me ever since Make Believe, and based on most of what I've heard about their new album, Raditude, it looks like their impact on my life will be split at B.M. and A.M. (Before Maladroit and After Maladroit). And this hurts, because Rivers Cuomo has been a near constant on my celebrity crush list since I was 18. Let's keep score a la Gawker, shall we?

Title of album :: -10

Cover of album :: +10

First single, (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To - cheerful, upbeat, a little more interesting musically than a lot of their prior singles. However, Rivers does this strange spoken-word bridge. :: +20

Lil' Wayne is rapping on one of the songs. Rivers describes it thusly: "[Wayne] gave it the edge I was looking for. You can hear in his voice, it sounds so dark, like he was gonna get shot or something when he walks out of the studio." Weezer :: +20. Lil' Wayne :: -50

Weezer Snuggie, or "Wuggie" (this has nothing to do with the album, but I'm hoping to wake up any day now and find out that this is a huge Rivers Cuomo joke). :: -95

TOTAL :: -65

Monday, September 28, 2009

um ya ya

This weekend, I traveled to the Land of 10,000 Lakes to accompany W for his 10-year college reunion. W went to St. Olaf in Northfield, MN for undergrad (the other gig in town is Carleton College). Because a bunch of people from the Twin Cities suburbs go to St. Olaf, there were quite a few Andersons, Johnsons, Elofsons. There were a lot of blonde heads at that cocktail hour, as well as rounded "O's."

I've never been to a liberal arts college, much less one in the "countryside"; not really sure what the opposite of an urban campus would be. There were cows, horses, and the Malt-O-Meal factory (which, I hear, is the preferred source of wafting smells. The other option is the turkey farm). No crackheads. No drunken frat boys. The college is even on a hill, which makes me think of John Winthrop's sermon, "A Model of Christian Charity" (1630):
For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken... we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world.

Boe Memorial Chapel

The campus is beautiful. There's no denying that a bucolic background can do wonders for a college setting. While wandering around the sugar maples, I had to constantly remind myself that everything I surveyed would soon be buried under bleak white snow for the next 6 months.

Holland Hall

Partly because of the white-washed limestone effect, partly because of the simplicity of the architecture, the parallel between some of the buildings and old Swedish ones are uncanny:

Boe Memorial Chapel

St. G├Âran Church ruin, Visby, Gotland, Sweden, originally uploaded by Swedish National Heritage Board.

St. Olaf is pretty heavy on the arts; tryouts for the choir, band, and orchestras are super competitive. The St. Olaf choir tours internationally on a regular basis and sells tons of CDs - or, to quote Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy: "We don't know how to put this but we're kind of a big deal." The choir didn't perform while we were there, but we went to the Homecoming concert, which can be heard here. I'm impressed because they ended with a song ("First Suite in E-flat Major for Military Band" by Gustav Holst) that my high school band wasn't quite able to pull together. And boy, did those difficult bass clarinet passages come rushing back to me.

The most interesting thing about the weekend was to reflect on how different other college experiences could be from mine. We have to make this major, life-affecting decision when we're 17, 18 years-old, which profoundly affect our lives and our financial futures, and yet, for most, those mostly superficial decisions have such an impact on our identities moving forward. I would not be the person I am today without having gone to Howard University, and W would also be so, so different if hadn't gone to St. Olaf. And it's almost miraculous to imagine how both our experiences put us on our paths towards the future.

view of Northfield

Sunday, September 20, 2009

food intimacy

(...not the way you think.)

Despite the fact that Vegas had, at the most, 600,000 people during the time that I lived there, I still considered myself a "city" girl, especially compared to my dad, who grew up in the "country." My dad lived in rural Louisiana, and told stories of wringing the necks of their chickens and using the bark off of trees for shoes (he had one good pair for school and church). I have no such experience.

My belief is that the resurgence of DIY in recent years has to do with people's desire to know from where their stuff comes. This is mostly what drives my interest. The vulnerability that I feel when I think about trying to survive without technology or electricity is sobering.

However, while I've gotten a bit more proficient in general take-care-of-yourselfedness (sewing, baking bread, preserving), I still don't know how to do basic things like catch fish and prepare them, light a fire, or grow my own fruits and vegetables. Therefore, I've come to admire folks who can really get down and dirty with their food.

Emily Weinstein recounts her first lobster boiling experience in this NYTimes article. Although her big apprehension wasn't the killing part, but the "kickback — the lid blowing off, hearing the sound of lobsters screaming, or something unimaginable, and worse" — I can sympathize with the uncertainty of the unknown. It's easy to try out a cupcake recipe. It's an entirely different thing when it involves a live creature. Weinstein even attempts to hypnotize the lobster initially, but finally resorts to tried-and-true method of freezing then plunging into boiling water.

Novella Carpenter's account of raising two pigs in Oakland for charcuterie was one of my all-time favorite San Francisco Magazine features. Her detailed discussion of the process -- the late-night dumpster diving, the salumi apprenticeship, and the heart-rending butchering that did not go as intended.

My favorite thing about the article is that she quickly disabuses any romantic notions of farming that us city-folk might have, but maintains an affection and closeness to her pigs throughout their raising; she says "Bye guys" as they are taken away to the butcher, and when she learns that they were killed in a way different from her wishes, she is truly sorrowful:
They were dead, and I hadn’t been there. Not that I’d been looking forward to watching them die, but I had wanted to close the door on what had turned into a massive task. I had also wanted to make sure they weren’t scared in their last moments. I had hoped that having me nearby would make their deaths easier. I had the same feeling of cosmic unfairness that I had felt when my ducks were slaughtered by an opossum. Injustice. Life gone bad. And, worst of all, it was my fault.
That personal responsibility that she feels towards the two animals she raised, even after their death, makes abundantly clear that being close to your food is a two-way street - you are not only connected to the food items themselves, but the entire process behind what produced it - the farmers, the preparers, the pickers. You get to know where your food comes from, but you also are touched by it.

wild deer seen on a hike

dissertation beard - gone

In true hockey player upbringing, W grew a beard for his dissertation-writing process. On Friday, he shaved it off.

WhitWhit, post-dissertation beard

He also now looks like a regular person instead of a grizzled fisherman.

Friday, September 18, 2009

my sign is vital

Every year, my course holds a joint workshop with the Stanford student-run health clinics (Cardinal Free Clinics) and the Primary Care Associate Program (physicians' assistants) to train the entering medical and PA students on a variety of basic procedure skills. These are: blood pressure measurement, PPD placement (for TB testing), glucometry, IM injections (for vaccinations), and blood draws. Every year, something different manages to go wrong, despite my best efforts to tightly control the activity.

The most common planning error is in the way of equipment and supplies - namely, ordering and receiving the right ones for each skills workshop. We do get closer every year, but it's never the same issue year to year. For instance, this year I had ordered saline for the PPD placements, but unknowingly received sterile water instead. This means that when the solution was injected subcutaneously, it burns like crazy. One of the trainers used it as a teaching moment for cell biology; as the water (which is hypotonic) diffuses into your cells, they undergo lysis. Or, as one of the students declared, "your cells be poppin'."

Nate teaching PPD placement
Nate is saying, "well, this should be saline, but it's not..."

Nate teaching PPD placement
"...which means you don't really need to inject all of it into my arm. Pretty please."

One of the problems with this workshop is that we struggle with balancing the amount of time to require the students to be there with giving them enough time to practice. This year, we did three hours, which I felt was enough for each of the students to at least do each procedure once. In addition, I was pretty sure some of the procedures (blood draw, and the Burning PPD Placement of Hades) were ones that the students would NOT want to repeat.

One of the first-year students, who blogged about the experience here (and whose experience with the blood draw room cracked my heart), puts it this way:
The funny thing about medical school, I'm realizing, is that we're never allowed enough time or practice to master something before moving on. My classmates and I are in a perpetual state of minor confusion, and we have had our confidences bruised just slightly, like the poor arm of my partner. I'm worried for the next person who has to be a victim of my ruthless blood drawing.

What I want to say to her is that we don't expect mastery of these skills after one workshop, or even five workshops. While it is fundamentally unfair to "get better" with real patients, there's really no other way to actually get better. And I want to reassure her that just the fact that she seems so worried about her next patient, makes me rather get my blood drawn from someone with this kind of empathy and less experience than someone who has done hundreds of blood draws but couldn't give two farts about my comfort or discomfort. You will eventually be a great physician, medical student; please see this as a initial step on a long and exciting journey.

(Or, we could try to get another grant and start using this baby to find veins).

"They call me 'Doctor'..."

After a six year journey, you can stick a fork in it. W submitted his PhD dissertation to the registrar this morning. This means that now I am a Mrs. Dr. F-.

[Except, not really, since I didn't change my name after I got married. We still haven't figured out if I'm supposed to refer to myself as Ms. B- (maiden name), Mrs. B-, Ms. F-, etc. Whatever. Mrs. Dr. So-and-so FTW!]

Congratulations, babe!

Whit and the castle
Feels just as good as Disneyland

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2nd anniversary

Two years ago, I married a stupedulous man. Best decision of my life.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

revisiting my 2009 summer menu list

I said back in May that there would be some serious summer yumness happening in my kitchen this year. How'd I do?
  • umeshu (plum wine) - made in June, and just sitting on it for a few more weeks.

  • Guiness mustard - did not make :(

  • yogurt - did not make, but still motivated to do so!

  • brandied cherries - done, and delicious over ice cream!

  • cherry pie - sort of; I made a peach pie

  • cherry cobbler - another sort of; I made a nectarine cobbler instead

  • cherry preserves / any fruit preserves - both olallieberry and apricot jam was made.
So not a total bust. Part of the backing away re: the cherry products is that the good, moderately obsessive folks over at Baking Illustrated had nothing but contempt for baked goods with Bing cherries, which are the most available here (they push for sour cherries). I got nervous about cooking with them, but may be willing to do a pot of jam with the Bings next year.

amaretto cherriesDrying umeApricotsPeach Pie

"San Francisco Plays Itself" - SF Camerawork

The parent organization of First Exposures, SF Camerawork, has a new exhibit opening to celebrate it's 35th anniversary. The exhibit is called "An Autobiography of the San Francisco Bay Area," the first part being "San Francisco Plays Itself":
This landmark anniversary exhibition explores the work of artists that have contributed to the cultural landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area through practices that are in dialogue with the events and the people of the region. Exhibited together, the cumulative effect of these works function in an autobiographical capacity that is inclusive and representative of a dynamic, multi-faceted and multi-cultural region.

Artists include: John Chiara, Catherine Wagner, Mark Citret, Richard Gilles, Michael Rauner, Alex Fradkin, Shi Guorui, Abelardo Morell, Larry Sultan, Catherine Opie, Keba Konte, Judy Dater, Michael Jang, Katy Grannan, Annie Leibovitz, Kota Ezawa, Sergio De La Torre, Richard Misrach, Mary Ellen Mark, Tseng Kwong Chi, Zig Jackson, Ken Light, John Harding, Jim Goldberg, among others.

Larry Sultan, "Denise Hale"

Jim Goldberg, Rick and Poor series (via matthewlangley.com

The VIP and members' opening was last night, public opening tonight, and the exhibit is up through October 31. This is a great one to check out; the variety of work keeps you engaged, and the personality of the Bay Area really shines with these selections.

SF Camerawork
657 Mission Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

failing at first matron-of-honor task

I'm supposed to be buying a black dress for my best friend's wedding in October. Oops.

Anthropologie Water Roses DressAnthropologie Clustered Petals Dress

On the left, Anthropologie Water and Roses Dress. On the right, Anthropologie Clustered Petals Dress. Neither of which are black.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

let me ride


OK. My housemate K was allowed to test drive a BMW 745Li for 12 hours this weekend (in reality, it will turn out to be about 24 hours since he was able to pick up the car 12 hours earlier). Our house did a 20-minute joyride last night. That car has some "zazz," as E would say.

test drive of BMW 745Li

This is the first luxury car that I've ever been in, and I can see why people never go back. The is the greatest example of invented sumptuousness that I have ever experienced. There were features in this car that I never even knew existed in car form. Like seat massagers. And night vision with pedestrian detection. And 20-way adjustable front seats. And an 80 GB hard drive for storing music, movies, and GPS routes.

And built-in iPhone integration.

Of course, it drove like a dream. There was actually so much room inside that I wasn't able to touch anyone in the front seat from the back.

We then spent about 30 minutes this morning just hanging out in the car in the driveway. We put in a DVD, and spent the rest of the time pushing buttons and pouring over the instruction manual. The guys, of course, wanted to pop the hood to check out the engine.

test drive of BMW 745Li
test drive of BMW 745Li

Despite all this, I probably wouldn't spend an estimated $119,000 on this car. I mean, please. That's almost a house. Or over 2 years of my salary (pre-tax). Or five Honda CR-Vs. But for next car purchase, I think I might hold out for the heated seats :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

happy birthday, W.

Today, my husband and best friend turned 32 years old. Happy birthday, babe.

Whit at intermission

health care - my 2¢

OK, there's a lot of passionate and emotional discourse going on about health care reform lately. On both sides, all the shouting has been drowning out actual facts, concerns, problems, and solutions.

Personally, I am in favor of universal health care. People in this country shouldn't be going bankrupt because they become sick. I am also in favor of beefed up primary and preventative care. I am in favor of more evidence-based medicine, so that doctors aren't throwing random diagnostic studies at a health problem as if it's a dartboard. And I am also in favor of more transparency in health care costs, which is also W's hoarse-making rallying cry for reform (so that people can make informed decisions about their health care consumption).

(For my medical school course, we try to incorporate how much procedures cost so that the students can include that information into their clinical decision-making. However, I have yet to find a document from our own hospital that outlines itemized procedure costs. We generally fall back on the Medicare fee schedule.)

However, I know that reform will be expensive. The trouble is, no one can seem to figure out how expensive it will be, because different budget offices and committees come up with different figures that contradict other figures put out by various think tanks (estimates range from $150 billion to $2 trillion). The Economix blog over at the NYTimes has tried to break this question down a bit more comprehensively.

For people on the other side, I believe that there may be some good arguments against reform, or for a different type of reform. But it keeps getting drowned out by false hysterics ("death panels" and "Obama lies, Grandma dies" and my absolute favorite, "SOCIALISM!!"). Look people, if you believe that your health care isn't currently being rationed, or that you have the freedom to choose your care or your doctor, you must not have been part of the 20+ year HMO-revolution in this country. And end-of-life decision-making, which is painful and emotional, should be something that is discussed before people are actually in those situations.

Thankfully, I'm glad I can count on the Minnesota State Fair to put forth a bit more civilized discussion about the issues.

via Gawker.com

Wednesday, September 2, 2009