Thursday, December 30, 2010
I do not like exercising inside.  I don't HATE it, but I would never choose it over doing something outside.  I can pretty much run outside in any weather.  As long as it's no pitch black (I've been known to find potholes... not good for the ole' ankle), and there isn't a lot of ice or snow on the road, I'm game.  I'm pretty much okay in any temperature.  I'm not as adventurous on my bike, mostly because if I hurt my bike, I can't afford to replace it!  I have insurance on myself... not my bike.

I'm getting off track.  So when I have to be inside, I pretty much refuse to run on a treadmill.  It makes me want to stab my eyes out.  But I don't mind sticking my bike on my trainer and spinning for an hour.

I snagged the CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer a couple years ago, and have put on some good miles over the winter.  When I got it, I was looking for something that was stable, smooth, quiet, durable, and portable.  I did a decent amount of research, talked to some teammates, and decided to go with the CycleOps Fluid 2.  It was a bit pricey, but worth it in the end I think.  I ended up getting the package (seen below), which included a couple front wheel props, a mat for the floor, "bike thong" to catch dripping sweat and store the TV remote, and a rear wheel mounted bike computer with cadence sensor. 
The one thing I dislike about trainers in general (not any in particular) is that they are pretty rough on tires.  I have a set of tiresspecifically for the trainer, but haven't yet set up a wheel with one specifically to stick on my trainer.  I've pretty much burned through the tires I've got on now, and will need to replace them before I ride much on the road. 

Other than that, I have really liked the CycleOps Fluid 2.  I don't have anything to compare it to, but its easy to get my bike in and out of, is stable, not too loud (I tested it out when I first got it to make sure it wasn't disturbing to anyone outside my room), and so far has not had any problems, expect the one time I pinched my finger in it.  Although I'm pretty sure that's user error...

One word of advice the first time you pop your bike onto a trainer.  First off, I know this because of a friend, not from first hand experience!  But if you put the trainer on carpet (as seen above), instead of a hard surface, be sure that there is enough clearance so that when you sit, your tire is off the carpet.  Otherwise, 1), you will get a really high resistance workout, 2) you will burn up your tire, and 3) you will wear a hole in your carpet.

Other that than one warning, you just pop it out of the box, put it on the floor, and spin away!

Keep spinning!

I made soup for brunch.  Well, I made soup to freeze, but I ate some for brunch :)  And it was delicious!  And super-easy, which is also a plus!  We have plans to make about 4 different soups to freeze and take home, and this is the first one we've conquered.  It's kind of like a taco in a pot :)  Here's the recipe!

2 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
2 cans shoepeg corn
1 can rotel tomatoes
1 large can diced tomatoes
2 C water
2 packets taco seasoning
2 packets dry ranch dressing mix
shredded cheese, sour cream, and Frito's for topping.

In a large pot, brown ground beef and onions.  Add all other ingredients and stir to combine.  DO NOT drain any of the cans.  Dump as is.

Simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve topped with cheese, sour cream, and Frito's.

Seriously, easiest soup ever.  And very hearty and delicious!  And it freezes well, sans toppings.

I love soup in the winter.  We have three more to make this week!  I'll let you know how they turn out!  Gotta stock up on easy lunches and dinners, freezer style :)

Now, it's time to hop on the trainer.  Look out this afternoon for a gear post on it!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
There are some things we can't control.  It's best not to stress out about those things.  It won't do any good.  I generally don't stress about them (except when I'm driving...).  One of the most recent "things to stress about that we can't control" has to do with airport travel.  I'm sure most of you know about the new body scanners and pat downs that seem to have increased travel time and inconvenience through airports.  If not, I'll give you the brief summary...

Prior to recently:

Go to airport.
Get boarding pass.
Check luggage (maybe).
Go to security.
Wait in line.
Take your shoes off.
Take liquids out of bag,
Take laptop out.
Take coat off.
Put all on scanner.
Walk through detector.
Put shoes on.
Put belt on.
Put coat on.
Put laptop in bag.
Buy coffee.
Get on plane.

After recently (aka, beginning of body scanner era):
Go to airport.
Get boarding pass.
Check luggage (maybe).
Go to security.
Wait in line.
Take your shoes off.
Take liquids out of bag,
Take laptop out.
Take coat off.
Put all on scanner.
Walk through detector OR Walk into body scanner.  Walk out of body scanner
Put shoes on.
Put belt on.
Put coat on.
Put laptop in bag.
Buy coffee.
Get on plane.

If you choose, you may refuse the body scanner.  In which case, you will get a thorough pat down, which I predict will take about 30 seconds.  Maybe.

There are a few points of angst people have expressed concerning this new system.

1)  It takes more time.  To that, I say arrive earlier.  Or drive.  Flying is a business.  You choose it, or choose not to use it.  If you don't want to fly, get there another way.  If you do, play to the system. 

2)  Pat downs are basically like groping.  To this I say, no person who enjoys groping strangers is going to seek employment with the TSA.  There are way too many security checks and the opportunity for checking ID's and boarding passes, not groping.  Working for the TSA would be a bad choice for the groper.  They should be a tailor or something.  Most people working for the TSA are normal American people just trying to earn a living.  Let them do their job.

3)  Body scanners cause cancer and show pictures of naked people.  To this, I have a couple things to say.  First of all, if you are pregnant, have reason to avoid radiation, or are just particularly concerned about radiation, and get selected to go through a body scanner.  You will get the pat down by a normal American trying to earn a living, and then everyone will go on with their day.  Otherwise, the radiation is tiny tiny (except in the ones that don't use radiation, in which case, it's zero).  Just step in.  It'll be fine.  Secondly, body scanners to not produce pictures of naked people.  They produce silhouette like images similar to CT scans that highlight guns and bombs, and pocket protectors.  See below.

If you have small children reading this, cover their eyes so they can't read this... scandal is close behind.  Yes, by looking at those pictures, you can tell who is a man, and who is a woman.  You can see boobs.  You can even tell that the man has a penis.  Shocking!  Have you ever been to a beach??????  Ken doll is more scandalous than this.  Not to mention the fact that if this is what you look at all day, I guarantee you are not spending any time looking for anything expect knives and guns.  Like radiologists, medical technicians, nurses and nurse assistants, text book editors, film editors, lifeguards, wedding dress fitters, and morticians, the TSA people behind the screen see the human body.  Kind of.  No one cares, and no one remembers you.  Just get in the scanner and move on.  Or drive.

There are lots of things that happen in airports that I disagree with.  I think most American airlines have horrible business models that have made flying cumbersome and frustrating.  I think checking a bag should be free, even if the ticket is more expensive.  I think I should still get pretzels on every flight.  I think that there should be more options for food and coffee BEFORE security so that when I have to wait to get checked in, I can drink coffee and eat cookies.  I think the curb should be flat because almost all suitcases have wheels and we should just be able to roll them on in to the terminal.  I think tall people should get to sit in bulkhead, because they have longer legs, and that would just be fair.  And I'm not tall.  I wish I could just walk right through, and didn't have to wait for long lines.  And I wish I could sit in the co-captains chair mid flight, just once, because we all know that autopilot does a lot of the work.  But we can't all get what we want.  

And I still choose to fly.  So I go through security.  I get body scanned AND patted down (yes, BOTH), and I get my coffee and get on the plane.

You should too.

Or drive.

Monday, December 27, 2010
Some of you may have gotten a lot of snow with this Nor'easter.  But we here in Lancaster did not.  They were calling for as much a 6-10 inches at one point, and what did we get?  An inch.  That blew away with the winds.  What a bummer!  I will hold out home for more snow this year.  It's only December, after all.

Let's rewind to Christmas.  I think this year we set a Sears family record for taking the longest to finish opening presents!  We all were up by about 8:30, and sat around drinking coffee for a while, then we opened stockings!  Betula opened her stocking first.  She looks like this, only a little bigger.

She got a harness, a leash she can't chew through, a bone, and some treats!  She was very excited!  Then I opened Wyatt's stocking for him.  He got some cool new toys and some treats!  He will be very excited when I get home!

Then we spent some more time opening stockings.  After then, we started to make breakfast, and my dad and brother went out to the hot tub for a while.  At about noon, we finished making delicious Eggs Benedict for breakfast, and ate!  After breakfast, we spent some time talking to other family on the phone, while recovering from a food coma.

THEN (it's like 1 in the afternoon by now), we started opening presents!  Which took us until almost 3:30 I think.  Then I hopped on my trainer for an hour before helping everyone else with this cool puzzle of a map of where we live my Grandma sent us!  Our house was in the middle of the puzzle!  

We had a late delicious dinner of ham, scalloped potatoes, and green beans (and now there's LOTS of left over ham for cheddar chowder and ham and bean soup!

You may be wondering what I got for Christmas...

Oh, nothing much, except the worlds coolest KITCHEN AID MIXER!!!!  That looks something like this...
I couldn't take a picture of mine, because it's still in the box.  I imagine if I took it out, it would not go back in very easily, and I still have to tote it back to NC.  So for now, it must stay put.  That just gives me time to decide that the first thing I will make in it is.  Suggestions??

Okay, so that was Christmas.  Yesterday, my dad and I went up to the barn for the night.  We had nothing specific to do.  Just putz.  Putzing is the best.  First, we started a fire.  Then, we sat around while it got warm.  Maybe we took a nap.  We also watched some football.  And I made tea. 

Then, we decided to build a step stool for a girl in Job's daughters who needs a little height assistance.  I must say, we make a pretty good carpentry team.  And by team, I mean my dad knew how to do it, and I helped.  But I DID get to use a router!  I could build lots of things if I had a router....  Check out the stool-in-process...

And the nearly finished product (sans some sanding, and maybe a coat of paint or stain).

Then, we were covered in sawdust.  I've taken two showers and I think I might still have sawdust in my ear. 

For dinner, my dad made ribs on the grill and mashed potatoes.  It was delicious!  Then, I went to bed.  For real.  That's how things work at the barn. 

This morning, sadly, there was no snow outside (I was hoping for a miracle).  But there was a beautiful morning sky, a fire in the fire place, and fresh coffee (how'd that happen?!?!).  Here's what it looked like!

My coffee isn't in either of those pictures, but rest assured, it was close by.

We packed up and headed home in case there was going to be slow going because of the snow.  Since there was practically no snow, there was no slow going.  We got home just after noon, just in time for me to meet some friends for lunch and run some errands!

All in all, it was an excellent Christmas weekend! 

Hope yours was too!
Friday, December 24, 2010
Pride Is Forever!

I know for those of you in pain, this catchy little phrase seems totally bogus, but that's not the point.

The point is... I used it to make a sweet new medal hanger!  I got the idea from Caitlin over at Healthy Tipping Point, who posted (in her favorite things post) about a Pride is Forever medal hanger thing.  I decided that I either needed to throw mine away, or put them up.  They don't do any good hanging out taking up space in a drawer!

So, I decided to turn it into an arts and crafts project!  I also realized that I'm not very good at documenting "the process".  I totally forgot to take any pictures until I was done.  Sorry, my bad.  I'll describe what I did, and then show you pictures of the final product! 

I bought an unfinished wooden peg rack at Michael's for somewhere around $5.99, and a bottle of silver acrylic paint for $4.99.  I already had brushes, sponges, and black paint left over from another project earlier this year, so those were the only things I had to get! 

I wiped off the wood to get rid of the dust, and then started painting.  Let's have a brief conversation about how much paint raw wood soaks up.  Lots.  More than lots.  I think I ended up putting on about 10 coats of silver paint before there was any reasonable coverage!  It was kind of ridiculous, but ended up working out in the end! 

Then, I printed out some block lettering that said "pain is temporary, pride is forever", and (painstakingly) cut out the middle of the letters with a utility knife.  This made a rough stencil that I put on the painted wood, and marked with a pencil.  It was more of an indentation in the paint than actual writing, but it worked!  Then I painted in the letters by hand.  It only took one coat of black because I was going for a somewhat "unfinished" look (ie, not perfect).  Then I sprayed the whole thing with two coats of matte sealant.

I nailed a pair of picture hangers into the back, and then put a couple screws in the wall (16 inches apart), hung it up, and put the medals I could find up!  I think it looks pretty good!  Eventually, it'll get hung in the room where I put my bikes, but right now it's right outside my bedroom.  Here are the pictures!

I love being crafty.

Because it took so many coats of paint, this ended up being an all weekend project, most of which was spent watching paint dry.  I watched 3 NFL games, Elf, Titanic, and another movie I can't remember, so I was well entertained :)

When I moved into my current apartment, I had lots of things to install.  Within the first week, I hung a lot of pictures and art, a towel rack, a floating shelf, a mirror, a wine glass rack, a clothes line, and two sets of bike hooks.  To do this, I decided I needed power.

More specifically, a Fire Storm 14.4V drill with the super-big drill bit set!   

I do realize that Fire Storm is exactly the same as Black and Decker.  But Fire Storm sounds WAY more impressive.  So we're going to go with it.

I love my power drill because it makes me feel like I can fix ANYTHING!  This has proven to be completely untrue.  But I'm okay with that.  I'm pretty sure that, because I own it, I have predrilled holes that did not need to be predrilled, and put in anchors in places where anchors weren't needed.  But nothing has fallen off the wall yet, so I must be doing something right. 

I've recently found need to a saws all Sawzall, but I don't think that my 14.4V battery will support one.  I also (as of 13 seconds ago), do know that Sawzall is a brand specific name for the Milwaukee version of the "thing that can cut through anything" attachment, which I generically will refer to as the Sawzall (it's kinda like Kleenex).

I got to bust out the drill a few days ago when I was hanging my most recent arts and crafts project (post to come later tonight on that...), and it worked like a charm!  Predrilled screw holes: check.  Screws drilled too far into the wall that I had to back out by hand: check.  I'm practically a licensed contractor. 

I would also like to note the flowery hand screwdriver in the first picture.  This was a gift from my grandmother when I went to college.  She gave me a whole kit of tools (screwdriver, hammer, utility knife, measuring tape, pliers) with the same flowery print because "boys won't steal flowery tools".  How right she was!  I love busting out the flowers to get a job done.  And they work great :) 

When I move in May, I'm going to have 1) A lot of spackling to do at my old apt, and 2) A lot of new drills to make at my new place!  Good thing I already have the right tools...

If you don't have a power drill, go buy one.  I'd tell you to ask for one for Christmas, but it's a bit late for that...  Anyway, buy yourself one.  And go build something.  You will feel empowered.

The end.

Note to reader:  "Spackling" and "predrilled" are apparently not real works.  But spellcheck offered no alternative spellings, so just deal. 

The end, part 2.

Thursday, December 23, 2010
I'm north of the Mason-Dixon line... this should not be a complicated request.  Sadly, I don't think it's going to happen :(  That's what the weather channel says, at least.  Come on, North!  Bring me some snow!!

Okay, that's a side note.

So yesterday, I drove from NC to PA.  I was tied up all day Tuesday, and went to bed without getting ready AT ALL.  So yesterday morning I had to clean, do some laundry, pack, go to the store, take Wyatt to the kennel, clean out my fridge, take out the garbage, AND load the car all before I could leave!  I finally made it on the road at about noon, after snagging a big cup of coffee.  Unlike LAST time I did the NC/PA drive (which took me 10.5 hours and involves being in park on the highway, this drive went very smoothly!  I made it in just over 7 hours, and made my standard stop at Jimmy Johns and Starbucks for a mid-drive refuel!  It was a much smoother trip. 

Now I'm hanging out in Lancaster for a couple weeks... I don't have any plans yet, but I'm sure I will make some soon!  For now, I'm just relaxing and not thinking about school or interviews or residency.  It's lovely.

And I'm praying for snow.  Lots of snow.

Adios for now!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I had the coolest dream ever last night.  I feel the need to tell you all about it.

I "woke up" at 3am when my alarm went off, which I'd set to see the eclipse (that part is true... but I must have not stayed awake for long....).

When I woke up, my room had windows across from my bed, and I decided to stay in bed, and just move so I could see the moon out my window.  I did that, and saw the red moon they'd described would be there, and then I saw a couple shooting stars go across the eclipse.  They looped through the sky, then turned and crashed back into the moon, causing a giant explosion on the moon!  Then, there was a loud whooshing sound, and a wave of heat and bright light.  I thought I should be dead, but then there was ANOTHER as the moon and the sun blew up, and a giant wave of the end of the universe came over me, and I died (with the rest of the world, painlessly).  ie, I went back to sleep.  This morning when I woke up, I looked out the window, just to make sure I wasn't surrounded by heaven or dust.  I wasn't.  Phew.

The end.

I'd like to, some time today, show you my craft project of the week, but I'm having computer picture loading issues.  I'll get back to you on that sometime today.

For right now, I'm going to get some breakfast, head to Lexington for the day, then come back here and pack for my trip to PA tomorrow!

Stay tuned for pictures later today... I hope.

Oh, and just an FYI, I'm done interviewing until January 11th.  So I won't be talking about a whole lot of medical stuff....  Sorry!  It's vacation time, people!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Okay, so today has been somewhat productive.  I managed to make it through the whole closet and dresser, as well as some random other places.  Here's how the day went...

The system was to take EVERYTHING out of each drawer, go through it, and take out the stuff I didn't need or wear, then reorganize the rest.  Here's the system...
Left side of bed: Goodwill   Right side of bed: Things to go back in drawer.

Pile after drawer 1.

Pile after drawers 1-3.

Pile after drawers 1-6.

Now add some sweatshirts... 5 to be exact.

And yet, I still have a LOT of sweatshirts...  At least the piles stand up now!
Other stuff... helmets, crock pot, sunglasses, alarm clock, etc.

So, I'd say the clean up was a success.  I also managed to do some laundry, wash some dishes, and have a fun arts and crafts project lined up for the evening... You can see it when I'm done!

Tomorrow, I have to take all this stuff over to a Goodwill drop spot, and then I'm sure I will find something else to fill my day with... maybe writing thank you notes and Christmas cards? 

Right now I'm watching Titanic... USA has had an excellent movie line up today! 

My mission, should I choose to accept it (which I have simply by writing about it and telling all of you...), is to go through my WHOLE apartment today and find everything I can part with and donate it to Goodwill.

I've already got a box started.

I've watched a couple of my friends move in the last few months, and know I will be moving in May.  I want to declutter as much as possible BEFORE then, so I don't have to do it when I'm trying to move!

We'll see how it goes...

I'll report back tonight and let you know what I come up with.

Let the cleaning begin...
Thursday, December 16, 2010
This post marks a new stage in my gear posts... It's the first piece of gear I'm writing about that I don't actually own.  Yet.  So far, my top choices for residency would be in places I can snowshoe... so they may be getting added to the "gear I own" list eventually.  But as of right now, they were just a rental.  That doesn't mean I can't review them!  So here it goes!

While I was in the northwest last week, I wanted to do something winter-esque... to celebrate the fact that I was near big mountains and snow.  I thought about skiing.  I've only been once, and it's something I'd love to learn and become good at, but the likelihood of me injuring myself is high, and I didn't want to get quite such a close look at how the ER at OHSU worked, so I decided that snowshoeing might be a better idea!  It's a better way to see the sights, and I figured the chance of breaking a leg was lower. 

We headed up to Government Camp near the base of Mount Hood, and rented (for $10 a pop), these Tubbs Venture 21 snowshoes. 
In the grand scheme of snowshoe quality, these fall in the middle to upper end of the Tubbs series.  They are made for day hiking, rolling hills with some terrain, but don't have the aggressive traction of the mountaineering version.  Which was okay, because were weren't (supposed to be) going mountaineering.

The sizing is based on weight, not shoe size or anything like that, so if you're looking to buy or rent a pair, make sure you (and all the stuff you are carrying!), fall within the weight range, or you will sink and have less fun. 

So, we strapped these bad boys on and jumped onto 4 feet of mountain snow.  They were super easy to get into, and not as cumbersome to walk in as I expected they might be.  I imagine the engineering has come a long way since bent sticks and rabbit fur... 

They were excellent in the flats and rolling hills.  Traction comes from toe and heal spikes, and a couple on the sides.  For most of our hike, they provided PLENTY of traction.  And there was lots of time to take in the beautiful snowy scenery!

The only place we had problems was heading up this steep little gem... in the new falling snow.  Oh, and when we tried to follow some power lines back down to the water, until we discovered a cliff. 

 The uphill was okay, but the downhill was a little tricky!  I'd say the mountaineering version would have made this descent a little more stable, but these worked out fine in the end.  If you were going to be climbing LOTS of mountains, the upgrade would be worth it.  But for most stuff, I think that the Venture series provides enough traction, plenty of sink-prevention (yes, that's the technical term), and they are light enough that you don't really notice any added weight.  If the tracks they made were any shallower, we would have had nothing to follow back out of the woods, and might still be there...  The snow was coming down!

When we got back to the car, with frozen hands, they snowshoes were super-easy to pop off.  We chucked them in the trunk and returned them wet and dirty, so I can't tell you how they'd be to clear or maintain, but they were great for the day!

If (and when?) I were going to invest in my own pair of snowshoes, these would certainly make the short list of options!  As with many other things that you rely on to get you out of the woods safe, I would recommend against getting an inexpensive off brand pair.  The last thing you want is to break a shoe in 5 feet of powder in the woods in the cold while the sun it setting....  That being said, I think the mountaineering version is a step above what I might need... although I do like to be prepared in case I become more brave and upgrade my adventures to the stupid level.  I think I'm too afraid of avalanches to do that though.

All said, these rocked for our day trip.  Because the folks who rent these invest about $189 (list price) in each pair, and rent them for $10, I imagine they have some pretty decent longevity.  I can't personally speak to that as I only used them once. 

The good thing is, they are cheap to rent, so if you want to try it out, JUST DO IT!  It's super fun.  You'll want a pair too.

Adventure on,

Curious, it might seem, since I spent the last two weeks traveling to interesting places... But I'd really love to go somewhere and NOT have to set an alarm.  Luckily, my next interview isn't until January 11th! Until then, I don't have to set my alarm AT ALL.  It will be splendid, I imagine.

To pick up where I left off on Monday (yes, I know I've been tardy), we interviewed at South Bend Memorial on Tuesday.  It kept snowing all day (it was the beautiful floaty snow), but the roads stayed pretty clear, and we headed out of town as soon as we got back to our Bed and Breakfast and changed out of suits and into driving clothes.  We headed back to Indy, and checked into the hotel next to St. Vincent's where we were staying, just in time to get picked up for dinner!  We were to a very tasty place and met a couple other residents who hail from the great state of NC!  One of them grew up in Winston, so we spent a lot of time talking about places we both knew.  I felt a little bad for the other resident who didn't know anything about NC, but she didn't mind :)  After dinner, we headed back to the hotel, and did some serious weather tracking.  Well, Keli tracked the weather, I tried to figure out why my computer wouldn't turn on...

We discovered that, very sadly, there was ANOTHER snow storm approaching :(  It looked like Wednesday was going to be clear, but on Thursday, our whole route was going to be covered in snow.  So we decided that, more than likely, we would need to leave Wednesday after our interview instead of Thursday like we'd planned.  Sad.  That meant that at some point we had to go back to the condo and get the stuff we'd left there (a cooler, some food, etc).  We decided to go Tuesday night while there was no traffic, and made it downtown (past all the old money Indy homes, which were GORGEOUS!) in about 12 minutes, grabbed the stuff, turned in the keys, and headed back to the hotel.

On Wednesday morning, our interview wasn't supposed to start until 10:30, so we got to sleep in!  I woke up at like 9 and hopped in the shower.  When I got out, something was beeping...  It sounded like the fire alarm, but I didn't smell smoke or hear screaming, so I ignored it.  Until someone came and knocked on my door and said I had to go down to the lobby.  And I wasn't wearing any clothes.  Bummer.  So I threw some clothes on, and went down to the lobby.  Keli was already there, and apparently some alarm to the boiler had gone off?  We were down there about 20 minutes before we were allowed to go back up to our rooms.  I finished getting ready and was packing up when the alarm went off again!  Really, people?  Again?  I figured the chance that the building was going to blow up was slim... so I finished packing, and brought all my stuff down to load into the car.  According to the firemen, they had time to get back to the station and put a whole load of laundry in before having to come back!  A good morning all around!  The bad part:  we didn't have time to go to Dunkin' Donuts and get breakfast :(  Luckily, the program coordinator had coffee and granola bars for us!  Problem: solved.

After the interview, we hit the road and headed south.  We missed ALL the weather, and actually made decent time.  We rolled into town somewhere around 1:30am.  And then I went to bed.

The end of the interview trail for now.

I've got some stuff to do here in NC, and next week, I'll head back to PA for Christmas!  It'll be fun.

Happy Holidays!
Monday, December 13, 2010
I am in South Bend, IN.  There are NOT 20 inches of snow.  The Weather Channel was wrong... by about 30 miles.  If you recall from last night, our trip to South Bend was in question, as they were predicting snow squalls and upwards of two feet of snow to fall throughout the day.  When we went to bed last night, our potential plans included driving to South Bend in Keli's car, rending a 4WD SUV to drive to South Bend, start driving and turn around if it got bad, or stay in Indy and eat more pudding.  All reasonable options, I'd say.

This morning I called the program coordinator to see what the weather was like, and she said it had stopped snowing, the wind wasn't bad, and the road from Indy to South Bend SHOULD be plowed regularly.  We called rental companies, and we couldnt' get an SUV for less than $200.  We checked the weather forecast, and predicted snow totals had decreased from 10 inches to 4... so we decided to hit the road and see what happened.  We thought about getting chains to have with us... but decided against it when we couldn't find any... we took that as a sign that we wouldn't need them.

And we were right!  There was lots of wind, and a little drifting, but not enough snow had fallen to create the white out conditions that were predicted.  We made it in UNDER the GPS predicted time, and even stopped for coffee and breakfast sandwiches at Starbucks.  We're just that good.

When we got to South Bend, we checked into our super-cute bed and breakfast (we're very sad we have to leave before breakfast in the morning!), and walked downtown for some hot chocolate!  There is a place called the chocolate cafe.  It was sweet, sweet redemption after the hot chocolate failure in Spokane.  I think we'll be stopping on the way out of town tomorrow for some more...

Then we got ready for dinner, and headed out to a new place by Notre Dame's campus with a few residents.  It was an excellent time.  Great food, good looking dessert (I didn't eat it yet... I was full... it's sitting in the corner of my room), good company, and lots of information about what seems like a great program!  I'm excited... they have a whole sports medicine institute!

Tomorrow will be an early morning, then we head back to Indy for another interview and the drive home.  More weather watching...

Right now, we are watching more The Sing Off... because we like it.

Oh, and I have a king size bed tonight.  That's super exiting.

Whelp, we made it to Indianapolis.  Alive.  In one piece.  But it wasn't easy.

You're going to have to wait even LONGER for snowshoeing pictures... I just don't have the energy to sort them and post the good ones tonight!  Instead, I plan on eating pudding and telling you about my day.

Last night, I was going to be productive.  But I got tired, watched The Sing Off, went to the grocery store, and then went to bed.  Wyatt and I snuggled.  He is lonely. 

This morning I took a shower, finished packing, made some breakfast, and watched Meet the Press before Keli came and got me, and we hit the road (around 11).  The first hour of the "8:30 hour" drive was rain.  Not bad, just annoying.  Then all was well for about 3 hours.  Then, it started snowing.  And kept snowing.  For awhile, it was just dry, cold snow without much accumulation.  The kind you couldn't make a snowball out of with a prayed and mouth full of spit.  Then, it got verrrrry harry for about half an hour.  We were sliding all over the road, despite Keli's excellent driving skills.  We started thinking about finding a hotel because it was just not a good idea to go on, but then things cleared up a bit, and became more manageable for the rest of the drive to Indianapolis.  It took us a little less than 11 hours to get here (with a couple short stops).  But we made it safe!

Now, we have to decide if we will be able to make it up to South Bend tomorrow for our interview Tuesday.  They are calling for a total of 1-3 inches of snow in Indy, which is totally manageable.  But they are calling for "snow squalls" in South Bend through tomorrow, with estimated accumulations around 12 inches.  I predict that the regular old sedan car we drove up here will not like 12 inches of snow.  Nor will it like squalls.  What exactly a squall is, I have not a clue.  But it sounds bad.  I am imagining lots of wind.  White out.  Not enough car snacks in the world for a white out.  I don't think we want to drive through squalls...

Now, it may clear up by midday tomorrow, and we won't have a problem... but that seems doubtful.  Very doubtful.  We considered renting an SUV for the day.  But it would need 4WD.  And maybe crampons and self-guided driving capabilities.  And a hot chocolate dispenser. 

If we can't make it (which would be sad, because I know they put lots of effort into planning these interviews!), we will chill here in Indy, walk lots of places, and go to our interview here on Wednesday. 

We can't make a game plan until tomorrow though, so I'll let you know what happens.  Either way, it may involve me buying snow boots. 

Stay warm,
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I can't believe it's been since Wednesday since I updated.  I blame it on the cost of wireless in airports...

I've arrived home, unpacked (shocking, I know), thrown a load of laundry in the washer, and now am sitting down for 14 seconds before doing a billion other chores today... since I'm heading out of town AGAIN tomorrow.  But before I start ANOTHER trip, I need to tell you about the rest of tour de northwest.

On Wednesday night, we went to sleep.  We were pooped.  Trudging through the woods in 4 feet of snow, in a practical white out, up ski slopes, while dodging wolves and grizzly bears, will tire a person out. 

Thursday was a wonderful, albeit rainy, day.  We started out by making pancakes and coffee.  Not just any pancakes, but SNOWQUALMIE FALLS pancakes.  Let me tell you a little about them.  You can only get this delicious mix in Washington.  It makes it more special that way.  You just add water.  I don't know how they do it, but they are the most magical just add water pancakes you can imagine.  I discovered them while staying with a friend when Sarah and I drove around the country.  That was in 2006, and I haven't had them since.  I sent an urgent message to my friend to find out where we could get them (Safeway...), and we stocked up.  Should last me a couple weeks at least....

Anyway, we had these delicious pancakes (with real maple syrup), and Tully's coffee in a french press (have I talked about Tully's coffee yet?  Maybe I'll save that for later).  After breakfast, we headed out for a day of shopping.  Stop number 1 was Powell's books; THE biggest bookstore in the world.  Yes, the world.  It has over 1 million volumes.  This makes it difficult to browse.  It was fabulous.  They do have the strangest, most awkward parking garage in the world though.  But, it was free, so who's complaining.  After wandering the book store and picking up a gift card for the girl whose condo we stayed in, we headed south, to outlets.  Why did we do that?

I will say that I pretty much knocked out all the Christmas shopping in a single day!  Which also meant that we had to buy another bag to bring everything home in... It wasn't just me.  Keli helped too.  I can't say WHAT outlets we kept in business for the next year, because that would ruin the Christmas surprise.  Just know that there were lots of stores, and they were wonderful, and I didn't but anything for more than 50% off.  I will say that there was a Le Creuset outlet, and it was tempting... until I thought about lugging cast iron across the country.  That is just a bad idea.

After outlet shopping, we headed back to Portland for an applicant dinner at an amazing pizza place!  The applicant group was large (12), so it was hard to socialize with everyone (and we were pooped), but it was still a good time.  

Friday we packed up the car, and then headed to the hospital for the interview day.  No details, remember.  They are top secret.  But it was a long, but good day, and we headed out just after 5 for the airport.  Annoyingly (I've only had this problem with red eyes), there was no one at the check in booth until 7, so we sat around (after doing some creative repacking to get all our bags to legal weight), until we could check in, go through security, and get dinner. 

The flights were flights... I slept for part of it, did a little cross word puzzling, we got breakfast in between, and Keli's roommate came and retrieved us when we got into Charlotte.  After a side trip to Starbucks and Great Harvest Bread (we need snacks for tomorrow's car ride...), I made it home.  Phew.

Tomorrow we head to the midwest for a couple more interviews.  Then I'm done traveling for a while, and at some point will be heading home for some Christmas time with my family!

For now, I'm going to get some more chores done (I have big plans for collecting a few bags of stuff to take to Goodwill).

Look out for some snowshoeing pictures later today!!!  They will be sweet.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Sorry I haven't updated in a couple days... I've been too busy cursing at Oregon and Washington for their inability to paint a road line that shows up in the dark AND the rain.  With the amount of rain they get, you'd think they'd have figured that one out.  But they haven't.

I'm writing to you from Portland again.  Since the last update, we've gone from Spokane to Seattle to Portland.  Most of our driving for this trip is finished!  It's nice to be in one place for more than one night!  Let me give you the recap of what's been going on.

Monday, after Keli's interview, we hit the road for Seattle.  There were concerns that "the pass" (we didn't know what this really was, but it sounded daunting..." could make travel difficult, but other than some on again, off again fog, our drive went fine!  We got to our hotel after some random turns through downtown Seattle, and decided we were too tired to get up, so we ordered room service (BLT on wheat w/ a side of fruit x2) and watched The Sing Off, and then went to bed.  Yes, we are that exciting.  On Tuesday, we woke up with BIG plans for heading downtown, but were a little scared it was going to rain (it is Seattle, after all).  It was cloudy, but didn't rain all day!  Sweet.  I headed to the gym while Keli talked to her parents in Hungary, and then we headed out to look for breakfast (and coffee).  We stumbled upon a Top Pot doughnut store!  These are the doughnuts that Starbucks sells, but they are fresh and not frozen.  Hands down, best doughnut (or two...) ever.  Then we stopped at Tully's for some coffee.  Yum again.  We spent the rest of the morning walking through Pike Place Market, and oogling at stuff in the Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, Columbia, and North Face stores.  Those places really need a clearance section.  Then we went BACK to Pike Place Market for fish and chips.  They were fresh.  And by fresh, I mean the dude across the counter from us was pulling the fish out of an ice bucket brought up from the water and chopping them up.  We also talked to a nice guy who was originally from Indianapolis about where we should go to residency.  His description of west coast vs. midwest: A beer after work vs. a kayak after work...

After lunch, we meandered back to the hotel and headed out for Portland.  Good timing, as it started to rain just after we left.  This was not as great a drive as the others... it rained the whole time, visibility was crappy, and my windshield wipers streaked.  But we made it alive! 

Did you know that OHSU (the place we are interviewing) is on the top of a hill?  Us neither, until we drove up it last night!  There is a cable car, yes the kind that's like a ski lift, that goes from the city up the hill and into the hospital.  It's pretty cool.  But anyway, we drove to the top of the hill BECAUSE we met a girl on the interview trail who offered to let us stay in her condo for FREE for three nights!  How excellent.  And it's within walking distance of OHSU.  Double excellence.  So that's where we are now.  We got in last night, ordered pizza, and fell asleep.  I don't think we've fully adjusted to the time difference...

Today... ohhh, today.  What a day.  We really wanted to get some good outdoor adventuring in during this trip.  Neither Keli nor I have ever been snowshoeing before, so we thought that would be a good thing to try.  Turns out, we were right.  Today we headed out of town towards Mount Hood with plans to rent snowshoes and ask the guy where we should go.  The rain stopped by the time we got into Government Camp (at the base of the mountain), we rented out snow shoes for $10 a pop, and the guy told us where we could go for a nice "alpine hike".  I can't wait to get pictures up here!  First of all, snowshoeing isn't as hard as I imagined it might be.  It's because they know how to make good snowshoes these days.  I imagine back in the day, when they were made out of bent sticks and woven animal fur, people fell over a lot.  But technology's a beautiful thing!  We walked along a river, up a STEEP hill, through the woods, down another hill,  back up that hill (it led to a cliff...), through the woods, down the STEEP hill, and along the river again.  I think it was probably about 6 miles total... but that's just a guesstimate.  It started snowing about 1/3 in, and was soooo beautiful.  There was a little concern that maybe out tracks would get covered and we'd be lost in the woods on a mountain in the cold in the snow with nothing but trailmix and water.  But that didn't happen.  Phew.

Anyway, we made it out warm but wet, got in the car, scarfed some trailmix, stopped at Tully's and got coffee, and drove back to Portland, to "our" condo, and heated up some pizza. 

Now we're trying to see if we can get The Sing Off on our computers...

The day was a huge success.

I am in love with snowshoeing.  And really just being on mountains where there is 4 feet of snow.  At the beginning of December.  Ohh, that was the other good thing!  It's still too early in the season for it to be busy, so we only passed about 3 other people the whole time. 

Tomorrow, we are going to the biggest bookstore in the country, and other cool things that we haven't decided on yet.  You'll find out tomorrow.  Don't let the suspense kill you!

Now, I'm going to go to sleep.  Wait, it's only 7pm... Maybe I'll hold out for another hour.......
Monday, December 6, 2010
Who else played the game, Oregon Trail, when they were in school?  If you didn't, let me give you a brief explanation.  First of all, you put the floppy disk in the computer.  And by floppy, I quite literally mean flexible.  Do you remember those?  Okay, so you put the disk in, and the game starts.  You and your crew of peeps have to get from one end of the Oregon Trail to the other, without dying.  You must find food, avoid sickness, barter for things you need, ford rivers, and hunt.  Buffalo, preferably.  They give you the most meat.  Sometimes, you had to sacrifice your friends to avoid snakes.  But they understood, because on their game, you'd just drowned swimming across the river.  It was a good time.

Well, Oregon Trail may seem COMPLETELY irrelevant to our travels across the northwest... but it isn't.  According to my very informative road trip compadre, Oregon Trail ended in the Dalles of Oregon.  I didn't know that... because I never got to the end.  But that's beside the point.  Yesterday, we got up relatively early, and were packed and on the road before 8:30 for our 5ish hour drive from Portland to Spokane.

The drive took us through the mountains of Oregon (which, PS, were all snow covered and beautiful!), and then into the Dalles, which is an area where the mountains melt away into sloping fields (resembling Alpine Meadows, which I love) and a giant beautiful Columbia River floodplain.  Apparently, the Dalles can be quite the tricky area to drive, and between the snow and wind, it regularly becomes impassable.  Luckily, we had no problems.  I'm not sure our bright red Chevy Cobalt rental car can handle a whole lot of winter weather...

Our drive to Spokane was relatively uneventful.  We stopped for gas, and it turned out to be full service... and we couldn't figure out if Oregon is a mandatory full service station state, or if he was just there and we needed to tip, but we had no cash (Dad, are you reading this?), and he walked away too fast for us to give him one anyway...

Then we stopped at Walmart to get shampoo, and ended up getting some salami, cheese, bread, and apples for lunch (and a giant tin of popcorn.... impulse buy).  That is definitely my favorite car lunch ever.

We got to Spokane in early afternoon, checked into our hotel, and then headed down to the river for a walk.  We ended up walking along the river, and into down town for a while.  We stopped to get some hot chocolate, I oogled at an $899 copper mixer in Williams Sonoma (no, I would never ever spend that much money on a mixer, but it's still beautiful!), and we strolled back across the river to the car.  Keli had an interview dinner last night, so I finished my book (The Help, it was excellent, I highly recommend it), ate pizza, and watched football.  Our internet was having some issues, so I didn't do any productive online perusing.

This morning, Keli left for her interview at about 7:40, and I left just after her to go running!  Yesterday we stopped into a running store to see if they had any ideas where I could go.  Most of the many trails and paths are covered in snow, so they directed me to the Aubrey White Parkway, which runs along the Spokane river through a state park, and is usually plowed and dry.  I headed out there and it was BEAUTIFUL!!  I did take the Cobalt through some snowy streets to get there, and he did okay (I like to think it's my excellent snow/ice handling skills...).  I only ran about 2.5 miles because it was super-cold and I was really tight from sitting in cars and airplanes.  But it was hands down the most beautiful run I have ever been on.  There was snow everywhere (except on the road!), frosty evergreens, a river, mist, and deer!  I would have taken better pictures when I was running, but I didn't remember to bring a camera :(.  So I snapped a few with my phone on the way back to the hotel.  I saw 6, yes SIX deer while I was out there.  Okay, maybe 4... one pair could have been a double sighting (while running, and while driving), but I can't be sure, so I'm gonna go with six. 
Out the car door across the river...
So pretty.
It's kinda like the Blue Ridge Parkway, but with a river, and snow.
See those two little dudes at the top of the hill?  They have a path where they are standing that's flat.  Tricky.
These are the two that I might have seen twice... but who can tell, really...

After my nice little jog, I went back to the hotel, packed up all our stuff, ate breakfast (leftover bread and cheese... I think I'd make a good European), loaded up the car, and headed out.  I decided to hunt down the one Tully's coffee in Spokane.  Our trusty GPS guided me to the address, but Tully's was not there :(  I guess I'll just have to wait until Seattle for that one.  Instead, I went and got a pedicure.  I REALLLLY needed it!  I haven't had one since my surgery in August, and you could tell.  My toes are now Christmasy red with snowflakes!  Now I'm sitting in Starbucks waiting for Keli to be done interviewing so we can hit the road to Seattle.  We have plans to wee Pike Place Market, Fisherman's Wharf, and a few other things...


PS.  I just googled it.  Oregon does, in fact, have ONLY full service stations.  Good to know.  They also have no sales tax....  Good thing there's extra space in my suitcase!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Good evening!  I'm writing to you from all the way on the west coast in Portland, OR!  A friend and I flew out today for a week of interviews and general west coast fun.  More west coast fun that interviews, really!

I'm going to TRY to keep you up to date on whats going on out here, but I may be having too much fun and not have time.  So sorry if that happens!

Here's the review of today!

  • Drove to the airport in the AM, got some coffee.
  • Spent leg #1 of the flight trying (and failing) to complete a crossword puzzle.
  • Ate lunch at fudruckers.
  • Spent leg #2 of the flight napping, listening to James Taylor, reading The Help, and trying (and failing again) to finish the crossword puzzle.
  • Arrived in Portland, oogled at Mt. Hood from the airplane (we'll be there soon!), got our rental car, and went to our hotel!
  • Drove to the hotel we'll be staying at later in the week... just for fun.
  • Went to the Widmer Brothers Brewery!  Apparently, they like to brew their beer here in Portland, so we figured we'd try some out.  5 of the 6 were good... one was not.  Note to self:  Don't drink anything called "Old Embalmer".  I had an EXCELLENT schnitzel w/ potatoes.  Yummmmmmm.
  • Went to REI to investigate snowshoe rentals and get socks for Keli.  I also found a pair of running tights that I actually liked that were on sale. 
  • Now we are here, in the hotel, trying to stay awake until after 9PM so we don't get too off schedule!
The rest of the week has some big plans!  We're heading to Spokane, Seattle, Mt. Hood, maybe Mt. Rainier, back to Portland, and potentially (most likely) some random adventures in between!

And I'll probably post about something other than my fun travels... probably.

Thursday, December 2, 2010
I was flipping through all the links on my blog after the redesign to make sure everything uploaded the way I wanted it to, and realized that on my "Things that make me happy" page, there is NOTHING under the "things that make other people happy" heading.  You can see for yourself, but don't look until you're don't reading this!

So, this being the second day of December and all, I would like to send out an plea for things that make YOU happy!  Remember, these are supposed to be the "mundane" things of life.  Not exciting things that SHOULD make you happy, but random things that you get exceptional joy out of. 

I know people read this thing... I watch the counter go up every day.  Don't pretend otherwise.  And anyone can leave a comment, even if you don't have a blog or gmail account.  So leave a comment about what makes YOU happy!  Better yet, if you have a blog, write a whole post about it, and them leave the link in a comment! 

I think that I will declare 12/2/10 as National Declaration Of Something That Makes You  Exceptionally Happy But Other People Think Is Not Exceptional Day.  In case you're wondering, I DO have the authority to declare a national day of something. 

So participate!  And then I can put them on my "things that make me happy" page under the currently empty heading, and THAT will make me happy.

I took this opportunity, it being the first day of December and all, to do my seasonal blog face lift.  I think I have blog design ADD... good thing there are ENDLESS possibilities!  This new design clearly has a winter/snow/Christmas theme.  That's because winter is the best, snow is the bestest, and a white Christmas would be bester than the bestest. 

I hope you understand how much emphasis is implied by my betrayal of all rules of grammar. 

My favorite thing, in the WHOLE world (maybe...), is being outside at night in the dark while its snowing... and it's not really dark because of all the light reflecting, and it never seems late and you never get tired and can play in the snow all night.  It's just splendid.  I hope that happens to me soon.  Now that it's December, it's a realistic possibility.

December will bring all sorts of fun things...

I finish my student health rotation on Friday, and it's been great.  There has been lots of excellent learning to be had, and I feel like I've reentered the world of family medicine.  The folks at student health are great fun (and they eat a lot, which clearly I appreciate).  I'll be sad to leave.  But not TOO sad, because...

I have off from Saturday until the middle of January!  I use the term "off" lightly because the next two weeks, and at least 4 other days of the rest of it, will be spend traveling for interviews.  But don't feel TOO badly for me because...

A lot of that interview travel time will be spent in the northwest and midwest... not interviewing.  I will, however, be rehashing my supreme navigation skills, spontenaity skills, and car-snacking skills.   

I will go home at some point... before Christmas!  I don't know when yet.  I feel bad leaving the feline munchkin right after getting home from spending two weeks away.  He's a people cat, and needs some loving, not time in a kennell. 

I will be riding my bike and running... Probably a lot once I'me done traveling.  Nationals, people, nationals.  I need miles.  And those little toe warmers that go inside your socks.  My feet get so frigid.

I think I will also go to NYC to visit my friend who just moved there.  She doesn't know it yet, but if she's a good friend, she reads my blog and just found out!  If not, I plan on showing up on her door with a map of Manhatten and my walking shoes.

I think that's it for the plans right now.  It's enough, I promise.

For now, I am just basking in the smells of my kitchen, and reading a good book.  I made peppermint patty brownies, Good Morning muffins, and chex mix tonight.  It was a very productive night.   

And now I must go to bed.

Happy December!

About Me

I am a Family Medicine intern at a community hospital in Indiana, navigating the new world of being a physician. I am privileged to work in a field I love, where every day is a new and unpredictable challenge.
I am not only a doctor, but also a cyclist, runner, DIYer in the making, lover of the outdoors, traveler, and human.
Human, MD is a glimpse into the world of a young doctor who is just trying to stay true to herself through the grueling whirlwind of residency.


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