Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 In Review

2008 by the numbers:

Thousands: of miles traveled; money deducted from my gross pay for the government; money paid back on student loans, lights enjoyed at the Mission Inn Festival of Lights.

Hundreds: of people met; patients seen; dollars spent on cat's vet bill, car brakes, and repairing backlight of laptop; hours spent studying for PA exam.

Dozens: empanadas made for graduation; hours spent on trains; number of goals I came up with after I finish PA school; cactus needles pulled from my leg; friends that I haven't heard from in years that I found on Facebook.

60 blog posts written

33 classmates to share my joy of graduation with

28 years to look back on

14 hours straight of partying in Las Vegas

10 weeks of work

9 months eagerly awaiting arrival of new nephew

8 airports traveled through

7 trips to IKEA

6: European hostels; painful hours to get through the PANCE; job interviews

5: nights of dancing in Sweden, hot dogs eaten in Europe

4: camping trips; movies seen in the theatre; job offers; temples seen/visited; Independence Days acknowledged (U.S.A., Norway, Argentina, and Mexico)

3: trips to the Huntington Library, National Parks (Sequoia, King's Canyon, Joshua Tree); days spent with big bro; new CDs; Jimmy Stewart movies watched this year; inspirational people who fulfilled their missions in life: Lora MacPherson, President Gordon B. Hinkley and stake president John Hadfield

2: singles wards; medical-related conferences (CAPA and Alagille Syndrome Symposium)

1: Master's research paper completed; day I should have called in sick; Danish eaten in Denmark; lay-off; apartment; new library card; and finally, 1 brand new nephew: Lucas Wesley

Monday, December 29, 2008

Technology Decade

I got this idea from Nicole and thought it would be kind of fun, especially to see how slow I am in catching up on technology. It's also kind of ironic that right now I am reading Don DeLillo's White Noise.

1998: AOL account, applied to college online (UC online system was a disaster)

1999: Received my very first PC desktop (Y2K compliant of course.)

2000: Survived Y2K, not much that I can recall...

2001: First DVD: "It's a Wonderful Life" birthday/Christmas present from roommates.

2002: Was on my mission all year, but the Church did allow email for all missionaries around the world. My parents probably would not have heard from me much otherwise.

2003: Not much this year, introduced to the concept that people can download and copy CD's.

2004: First cell phone, still have my Nokia old skool model. Last time I will ever use an overhead projector. First time making a Powerpoint presentation.

2005: First laptop, digital camera, Amazon purchase, and USB drive (no more floppy disks)

2006: First MP3 player. Myspace account.

2007: First Palm Pilot. First YouTube experience. Introduced to electronic medical records (not available in all clinics)

2008: First blog, blog-stalking, Guitar Hero/Rock Band experience, and Facebook account

What will 2009 bring? I'm thinking of possibly updating my phone, that was my goal this last year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I want to share the lyrics of my favorite Christmas song. I think it beautifully tells of the birth and mission of Jesus Christ.

"O Holy Night" version translated to English by John Sullivan Dwight
"O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hmmm....maybe not...

One of my biggest obstacles I have had in my job search is my lack of experience. If I had one or two years of experience, I would be hired by now, no doubt. I have been paying close attention to jobs that do offer training and are accepting new grads. Those words are music to my ears and an Ansel Adams landscape to my eyes. Most of these jobs have been in orthopedics and pain management, but I did come across one tonight that made me crack up. I told my mother that since it was in Florida, I could still probably use my Spanish skills. She said it is not worth the 6-digit cost of PA school. Here it is:

"Are you a recent graduate (::cue visual euphoria::) and eager to work in the aesthetic field? Are you a seasoned PA who is interested in more independence at work without a Doctor’s constant supervision? If so, then Body Details is the place for you. Body Details is the largest provider of laser hair & tattoo removal services in South Florida and the Official Laser Hair Removal Center of the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. Body Details was named “THE place to get rid of unwanted body art and body hair” by Deco Drive. (Oh, the prestige!!) The laser hair and tattoo removal industry is growing rapidly. Come and join the experts. Contact us about starting your new and exciting career today. We are seeking interested PA’s to fill open positions to cater to our increasing client demand. Full training is provided, no experience necessary."

On a positive note, I am going to check out a job position on Monday. I'm not sure if I'll accept the job if I am offered it, I still have some questions and concerns. Nevertheless, it still is some progress. All I want for Christmas is a job...a job...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Still Waiting...

I had made the goal that by the end of this week I would know where my life would be going. All of my decisions will have been made. I would know whether I would stay in California or Washington or maybe some other random place. I would know if I would be doing family medicine, urgent care, or pediatrics. But that hasn't happen. My state of unemployment limbo continues... I am waiting to hear back from 3 clinics for possible interviews -- and I have called them, but it's more like 'Don't call us, we'll call you'. There's the fourth job that I did interview at and still have uncertain feelings over. I feel like the single girl (wait, that's me!) who's waiting for the call back after a first date.
::Begin rant:: "Why won't he call??" Are they "just not that into me?" (inside joke, that's for another post). I deserve a phone call, darn it, because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me! ::end rant::

I try not to wait too much sitting around and waiting and use my time constructively. This week I played charades, caroled at a rehab center (not the drug kind), frosted a couple cookies, tried to keep warm without turning on the heat, paid a few bills, sent off a Christmas package, tried swing dancing for the first time at a college hangout, and checked out a couple of books at the library. But still no calls, other than the occasional one from my mom trying to get an update. I'm not sure with the holidays that I will be finding out much either, although I know some of the places will still be open. I remember being originally scheduled to have the 24th off because I told the office manager I would rather have my birthday off and keep up with tradition than taking the day after Thanksgiving off. I guess I could enjoy my "extended" Christmas vacation.

Stay tuned.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Do I really want to go back to my "roots"?

I don't think so. As much as I loved going to Scandinavia this summer and exploring the lands of my ancestry, I don't think some of the other locations significant to personal and family history would have the same appeal as potential work locations. Today I noticed there was a job opening in El Centro, CA (where I was born) and there were quite a few openings in Rapid City, South Dakota (where my maternal grandparents were from). I figure there was a reason why they moved to Los Angeles and never moved back. I was emailed another job opportunity at an ortho clinic one hour from Sioux Falls. It's weird to think of Sioux Falls, SD as "the city."

Job search update: Still waiting to hear back from a couple clinics here in CA. Still not sure what to think of the one I interviewed at in Santa Ana. She said she would get back to me in the next week or two. Just found one in the Riverside area this past weekend and I emailed my resume yesterday. Not quite sure if I'll check Washington out this week due to the weather. I have to make a decision very, very soon.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Do Need A Little Christmas...

This was my thought as I was listening to the Christmas music at Food 4 Less last week. It's kind of weird how much I haven't thought about Christmas this year. It's very unusual for myself, especially since I'm a Christmas Eve baby and "Feliz Navidad" being piped into the nursery at El Centro Community Hospital was probably one of the first sounds I heard. Alas, this year is different. I have failed in my delegated duty of organizing the family gift-giving. I've listend to the 24 hour Christmas station only a few times on Sundays. My mother is still awaiting my list of Christmas/birthday wants and needs. Is "smog check" an appropriate Christmas gift? My car is due for one so I can renew the registration. The idea of shopping has been dreadful, and not just because of the crowds. I have watched "It's a Wonderful Life" only once this year, ::gasp!!:: I have been a bit distracted. The rollercoaster of job searching and interviews. The bills. A computer virus to add to my frustrations. The decisions that I have to make by the end of the month. It's all been a bit emotionally and mentally draining.
To remedy this festive anemia, I decided to go to the annual nativity and music festival in Upland last week. It was fabulous as usual, and great to see familiar faces. Some faces were less familiar as some of the kids I remembered being 4 years old were now teenagers. It was nice to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. The celebration of the Savior, making his humble entrance into the world that He would save.
On another good note, this year does seem better than then years past for the fact that I don't have to worry about finishing my research paper on Christmas. I don't have to worry about final exams or CASPA deadlines or PA interviews. I can enjoy the fact that I'm not currently surrounded by sick people who would later cause me to spend the majority of my holiday shopping budget on antibiotics and co-pays.
So, maybe I could put more Christmas in my life. I am open to service opportunities and suggestions, let me know! If you need some cranberry sauce for your Christmas dinner, I would be thrilled to make you some. My offer on an "It's a Wonderful Life" movie night still stands as well. And for now, I can admire the little Christmas tree in the local public library just as I am doing right now or the large tree of lights at CBU visible from my bedroom window. Good thing I have blinds.

Friday, December 5, 2008


For the record: Not long ago my mother pointed out a typo in a previous blog. I have changed it since then, but it had not been caught for a while. The opening sentence was meant to be, "Job hunting can be a bit monotonous..." It was pointed out that I had typed, "Jon hunting...". For those readers who have been wondering, my financial situation has not become as grim to force me into soliciting myself to Jons (or Johns) for money. I will not be found strolling the streets at night wearing a mini-skirt and fishnet stockings, hunting for Jons. That is one job I am not applying for. Sorry Jons.

For those who were wondering...

Here's an update on my current job status...

Pediatrics job in Santa Ana: Group just posted their ad yesterday, I sent in my CV, job interview on Monday!! Downside: lots of driving...

Loma Linda: I was turned down for an interview for not having enough experience, which I was expecting anyways. I figured when they said "preferred" that would still give me a green light and I didn't have anything to lose.

Montclair: Family practice and derm, just found out from Mom today. Haven't heard back yet. Doctor is looking for a long-term partner I believe, especially one wanting more of the business responsibility, so....not quite sure how to feel on that one...

Washington (rural) pediatrics clinic: Still in the back of my mind. I figure if I don't have a successful interview next week, I may take a roadtrip later this month for an interview. Benefits do look nice, and it's pediatrics in a high-spanish area, we'll see...

There may be some other random job issues coming up in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned,

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thank you, Elder Wirthlin

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, an apostle from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints passed away Monday night. Having lived 91 fulfilling years of service, this was not much of a shock to me, but I will miss hearing him speak. I love to listen to all of the apostles, but I think in the past I probably have not paid as close attention to Elder Wirthlin's talks until the last few conferences. Those talks were remarkable! He taught me and many others how to live more Christ-like lives. In honor of him, I would like to share some of his words.

Adversity (General Conference, October 2008)
" Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training. These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others."

Charity and Love (General Conference, October 2007)

"Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the pathway of discipleship. It comforts, counsels, cures, and consoles. It leads us through valleys of darkness and through the veil of death. In the end love leads us to the glory and grandeur of eternal life... Without charity—or the pure love of Christ—whatever else we accomplish matters little. With it, all else becomes vibrant and alive. "

"Sometimes the greatest love is not found in the dramatic scenes that poets and writers immortalize. Often, the greatest manifestations of love are the simple acts of kindness and caring we extend to those we meet along the path of life."

" Oh, it is wonderful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us—even with all our flaws! His love is such that even should we give up on ourselves, He never will. We see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today. Our Heavenly Father sees us in terms of forever. Although we might settle for less, Heavenly Father won’t, for He sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

50th Post: 50 "Little" Things to be Thankful For

I can't believe I made it to my 50th post. I was looking back on some of my old posts last night, and I laughed at some of the memories that came back even if they happened only a few months ago. I think one of the joys of blogging is being able to find humor in the little things of daily life. So, in the spirit of this weekend, I want to give a list of 50 "little" things that I am thankful for. Of course I am thankful the most for the big things like family, faith, freedom, friends, and other things that start with letters other than "f". These are the most important things in life, but for this post I want to acknowledge some of the more "overlooked" blessings and joys of life. This week I came across a journal that I haven't seen in at least five years. I had written in quite a few pages a list of things that I was grateful. Many of them were roommate and school-oriented, and refelective of the daily blessings of my early 20-something life; nevertheless my gratitude for these things still stand years later. Here are 50 of them, in no particular order, taken from that journal:

1. Sunday phone calls from the family.
2. The way the grass looks a little bit greener after I water it.
3. Plumbing that works
4. Professors who remember my name
5. Being able to laugh everyday
6. Air conditioning, even if it freezes me in class/church/work
7. Performing in a good concert.
8. Left-overs
9. Eating ice cream with friends.
10. October daylight savings time when I get an extra hour of sleep.
11. High-5's.
12. Wintergreen mints.
13. Seeing people that I know in the temple.
14. Walking to school when it's still dark and seeing the moon and stars still out.
15. Laughing at myself when I am soaking wet from rain or snow.
16. Coming home from a long day at school and seeing that my roommates (or mom) have already finished making dinner.
17. Sales on bananas, especially when they're slightly under-ripe.
18. Remembering good/funny dreams the morning after.
19. Making homemade hot chocolate.
20. Dancing silly with roommates.
21. Movie nights with friends.
22. Clean restrooms.
23. Sharing a new CD with friends.
24. Getting email from people from the mission.
25. Evening conversations with a friend on the porch.
26. Being able to stay awake in the most boring classes.
27. Being involved in the education of others and watching them succeed.
28. Beautiful Sunday weather.
29. Free bus fare in Utah.
30. Rain, especially the sound of it at night.
31. The feeling of confidence and relief after a test.
32. New sweatshirts.
33. Laugh attacks.
34. When people understand and laugh at my jokes.
35. Cool-looking clouds on full-moon nights.
36. Smell of fresh-dried laundary.
37. Hearing the weather report before leaving the house.
38. Catching the bus or train just in time.
39. Flannel pants.
40. A camera with a new roll of film (this was before digital of course)
41. The silence that hangs in the night air after a fresh snow fall.
42. The feel of new socks.
43. Eating cold cereal at any time of the day.
44. Hearing a frog croak.
45. Roadtrips.
46. Making homemade tomato soup.
47. The feeling after a funeral of wanting to become a better person.
48. Canadian geese.
49. Walking in soft grass barefoot.
50. The moment of the day before the sun goes down when the landscape glows for one last moment.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I could feel the breeze in their hair...what??

Job hunting can be a bit monotonous. Some people do try to add an informal touch or advertise "community features" to encourage relocation. These are a few actual statements that I have come across in job listings:

For a job in Oklahoma: "Saddle up and lets get started."

Washington: "If you are tired of a big city we can help. If you are looking for an outdoor oriented lifestyle we can really help."

And this one is my favorite...
For a job in Nebraska: "Buffalo used to roam this land in the famous frontier days. If you listen closely in the quiet of the night you can still hear the settlers wagons cutting new ground and feel the breeze in their hair."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One of the best movies ever!!

On Saturday after a college football game I caught the beginning of the cartoon version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." This did surprise me a little because Thanksgiving was still a week and a half away. So I don't feel like I'm too premature if I share my love for what is often regarded as a "Christmas" movie. "It's a Wonderful Life" (IAWL) shouldn't belong in the same category of films such as "The Santa Clause," "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," or "Frosty the Snowman," only to be dusted off once a year. This movie is awesome year round and only part of it takes place during the Chirstmas season. The story and cast are fantastic (more on Jimmy Stewart soon to follow) and Frank Capra is an amazing director. Here are some more reasons to love it:

There are few movies that I know of that captures so many human emotions: love, innocence, discouragement, fear, unity, courage, passion, the list goes on...

There are those classic one-liners, like:
"Say Brainless, don't you know where coconuts come from?"
"He's making violent love to me, Mother!"
And of course, "Every time a bell rings..." yeah, you know it.

There's also those timeless messages, as recited by Clarence the angel, how each man's life touches so many other lives, and no man who has friends is a failure.

If you're a fanatic like me, you might catch some of the little bloopers, the improvisations, and other behind the scenes trivia. If you want to know some, just ask me.

And one of the best reasons of all: Jimmy Stewart. Oh, yeah. One of the greatest actors who has the gift of portraying the "every man," and he delivers here as the memorable George Bailey.
We see the serious side of George as he struggles to provide for his family, stands up to the greedy Mr. Potter, and continuously demonstrates sacrifice and integrity.
There's the humorous side of George as well. Trying to get Violet to go to Mount Bedford and start a scandal that the whole town would talk about. His threat to sell tickets when Mary loses her robe... Then there's the romance. Who can forget the passionate scene when George is at Mary's house: The tension escalates, and he looks into her tear-filled eyes, knowing that loving and marrying her will cause him to lose his dreams of world travel and other endeavors. Then there is the kiss: Jimmy Stewart's first on-screen kiss since he returned from the war.

If all men were like unto George Bailey...

If you haven't seen it, see it. If you haven't watched it since you were a kid, watch it again. If you want a movie night, let me know and I'll bring the hot co'.

Friday, November 14, 2008

THIS is what I want to do...

This is something I want to add to my bucket list. I thought it was worth sharing...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I'm on the hunt. Release the hounds!!

I've been asked quite a few times today how my job hunting was going. I have sent my resume out to a few places. The lack of local jobs that I could apply for (especially since I don't have a lot of experience yet) has been a bit discouraging. I'm still looking...

After I tried to apply for a local position, I found out that I had uploaded my resume on a health career national database. Needless to say I have been receiving emails and calls from place like Bullhead City, Arizona and other places across the country.

Here was a conversation I had yesterday (yes, Saturday) morning.
Me: Hello?
Caller (very thick accent): Hello Janet (my name is pronounced this way quite frequently), my name is So-n'so from ::something incomprehensible, I thought I heard the name 'Pomona':: and Dr. So-n'so saw your resume and was wondering if you can come in for an interview next week.
::cue small earthquake - this really did happen and I was distracted for a moment::
Me: Sure, I'm pretty open. How about Tuesday at 2:00?
Caller: Okay, that's fine. Our clinic location is 380 Fremont. Will you be coming by car or bus?
Me: By car. What city is your clinic located again? (thinking it might be closer to Alhambra)
Caller: Da' Bronx. So you will be coming from the west?
Me: The east. I'm sorry, what city was that again?
Caller: Da' Bronx... ::moment of silence::...Oooooooohhhh, I'm sorry, I thought you were in Riverside, New York! Soooo... you probably won't be able to make it this Tuesday?
Me: I don't think that will happen.
Caller: Have you ever thought about working on the east coast?
Me: Um, how about you send me some information on the clinic and position and I'll get back to you.
Caller: Information? What do you mean?
Me: (Thinking, is she really asking me this?) Oh, things like, specialty, expectations, hours, benefits...
Caller: Oh, okay thank you!

Not all of the jobs I have seen have been weird. I did come across a good job at a rural pediatrics clinic in another state. There is even a lower cost of living and I would get paid extra just for being able to speak Spanish. To me, especially if it was a year or two ago, this seems like I would be living the dream! Before I started PA school and through most of my time in it I had thought about going into rural medicine in a high spanish-speaking population. Adding the factor that it's a pediatrics clinic sweetens the deal as I have considered that is the area I want to stay in for my career. But I am not sure if now is the right time to live that dream. Since the time I graduated, I have learned that timing is an essential factor in my career development. I recognized it first when I interviewed for a sub specialty position for my first job. While I had envisioned that type of job as an ultimate goal, it does not mean that it was the right job for me right now. I was even relieved when I was not offered the job after my interview. I am not sure if this current job offer has that similar lesson for me. I just know that right now I reeeeally want to stay in Southern California. This is where I have my roots. This is where I have grown up and lived with such a great support system. While I am a pretty independent person and can enjoy some solitude and I don't have a problem living alone, I still have a need for frequent social contact outside of work. Would a job in a rural area impede such peer interaction? There are so many things to consider right now and I must admit that I am getting a little less patient by the day and more stressed about financial obligations and the uncertainty of the whole situation. I am comforted by the fact that any decision I make will be used toward my good. I just have to keep relying on that fact. If I do have to cut my losses and find a better in situation in another city or state, then, as the Beatles would say, "let it be." We'll see what happens. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Matters of Rights, the Constitution, Discrimination, and Marriage

"May I humbly urge you to learn about the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and other basic documents of our great country so that you can sustain it and the free institutions set up under it...Before we can intelligently sustain the principles of this divinely inspired document, we need to understand it and the philosophy that underlies it. We will then be in a position to determine encroachments on our liberty when well-intentioned, but unenlightened politicians attempt to circumvent those principles. The greatest watchdog of our freedom is an informed electorate." Ezra Taft Benson

This election season, much is being said in support of rights. From the rights of animals, to the rights of the unborn, rights of teenage mothers, and the rights of same-gender relationships. I have decided to take up Benson's challenge and review the Constitution and ponder about the meaning of rights. Much of this blog will focus on the same gender marriage debate that is happening in California, Arizona, and Florida.

Point#1 Protection of Voting/Democratic/Republican Rights
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government... Article IV, Section 4 Clause 1
In regards to California's Prop 8, regardless of marriage, it is the right of the citizens to have their government respect the voice of the majority. The Founding Fathers did not intend to have the states run by a monarchy or a mobocracy, but they sought to preserve republican values to maintain the stability and liberty of the states. One of the issues behind California's Proposition 8 , regardless of one's opinion on the definition of marriage, was the abuse of power of 4 judges who overturned the will of 61% of Californian voters to legalize gay marriage. While some people may support this action, what is there to stop these judges from overturning the state's decision on another matter in the future.

Point #2 Constitutional Amendments in Other States
The controversy over same sex marriage is not new. This is an important issue to all Americans, and Americans have made their voices heard on the matter. Currently, defense of marriage amendments have been adopted into the state constitutions of 27 different states. Of these, eight make only same-sex marriage unconstitutional, seventeen make both same-sex marriage and civil unions unconstitutional and two states have their own unique laws. Hawaii grants legislature authority to ban same-sex marriages and Virginia prevents the state from recognizing private contracts of unions that "approximate" marriage. These amendments passed in their states with an affirmative vote ranging between 52% (South Dakota) to 86% (Mississippi) with an average of the combined states being 69%. 16 other states prohibit same-sex marriage by statute. 2 states (New Mexico and Rhode Island) have marriage undefined. Have these 44 states suffered negative backlash, being labeled as "bigots," "intolerant," "inhumane," "homophobes," "unjust," and "unconstitutional"?

Point #3: "Fundamental" and Civil Rights
I have heard the word, "fundamental rights" used repeatedly in the argument of the definition of marriage. Looking up the word "fundamental" in Webster's dictionary, the definition includes the synonym, "essential". Is homosexual marriage essential? Does it fall under the same category of other essential rights (freedom to protect one's property, free speech (communication), freedom of religion?) There has been argument that some of these rights would be violated if same-gender marriage is legalized.

The roots of marriage as found in JudeoChristian beliefs point to spiritual and moral reasons (including upholding chastity), as well as the perpetuation of the human species and upholding parental responsibilities. Other ancient anthropologic reasons for establishment of the family unit include safety, providing of needs to offspring, and again, species propagation. Some years ago I visited a rural, Peruvian village along the banks of the Amazon river. I learned that while some of the moral vales regarding chastity were not given importance among this small society, marriage was deemed essential once a girl (usually a teenager) was determined to be pregnant. It was then she was put into a monogamous relationship under the title of marriage to secure the physical and social needs of the child. Such is an example of why marriage is essential, or "fundamental" to this village and the global society in general. Is same-gender, or any other alternative marriage arrangement, equally essential to society as traditional marriage?

The issue of civil rights has also been brought up in the argument. According to the Constitution, civil rights are those guaranteed to all individuals by the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th Amendments. The 14th Amendment was first intended to secure the rights of former slaves and has since helped different cases that are mostly racial-based . The Equal Protection Clause, which includes the text in the latter portion: nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, has had some debate with issues like afirmative action and proponents of same-gender marriage are claiming to fall under the protection of the Amendment. Many claim that their civil rights are violated because their domestic partner rights are not equal to those of married couples. Their argument is legitimate, but does that have to involve the changing of the definiton of marriage?
Often civil rights and natural rights are used interchangably. Thomas Jefferson wrote, "a free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate."

Point #4: "Promoting the General Welfare...To Ourselves and Our Posterity" and Discrimination
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."
This is the preamble, or the Constitution's statement of purpose. This is to show the principles for its existance and why it needs to be upheld.
Are there times when rights of some may have to be denied or restricted for the welfare of others? Is "discrimination," as often used in this argument, ever justified? One random example is the issue of convicted sex offenders. Is it unjustified to have their names made publicly known or restrict them to where they can live (certain distances away from schools, etc...). In California, the California Teachers Association, ACLU, and Equality California opposed a bill, SB1105, that would withdraw the teaching credential of a teacher who pleads "no contest" in a sexual offense case. Why did they oppose? Because they considered it "discrimination" against teachers who may be homosexual. Has our obsession with being "politically correct," our fear of offending another, or the opinions of our peers crossed the line?
On the other hand, others have justified discrimination when it comes to the welfare of others is held at a greater level of importance. France banned same-sex unions because they believed that it was in the best interest of children. The Michigan state constitution states, "To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose." Is changing the definition of marriage, out of fear of being labeled "discriminators", justify the potential detrimental effects on society's views of marriage, family, and procreation? Will we have that same answer 10 year or 25 years from now?

There's more that could probably be said regarding this issue and the natural rights, democratic rights, and legal rights that encompass it. I hope all people, regardless of their politcal party or position on issues will look into the issues, become an informed electorate, and make decisions tomorrow that will uphold the prinicples of the Constitution.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One week later...

It's been a full week since I've joined the ranks of the unemployed. Things are going better. No job prospects yet, but I am getting things organized, working on updating my BLS/ACLS certifications and resume, and making the most out of my time.
Here are a few things that did put a smile on my face this past week:
*I went jogging yesterday (it's been a very long time) and I discovered a lovely, quiet avenue that is lined with willows and orange groves as well as rose bushes on the median. It's been my highlight of Riverside so far.
*A friend bought me a super delicious cinnamon bagel with hazelnut cream cheese. It was reeeeaaaly good.
*I also was treated to a wonderful lunch at a Mexican restaurant called Anchos, very delicious.
* A fantastic Halloween party with lots of familiar faces and some new faces as well. And lots of candy.
*More cute nephew pictures on my sister's blog.
*Stopped by a health fair hosted by a local church. There were a lot of volunteers so my help wasn't needed much, but my Spanish did come in handy when I told a man that he had to ge to the doctor ASAP because his blood sugar was super high.
* I did finish watching the first season of "Flight of the Conchords."
*I Reviewed a research paper for a friend, anything to help. I'm still open for service opportunities, just let me know.
*I saved $2.75 with coupons yesterday, which means I can get almost a gallon of gas. Gas being below $3 is enough to put a smile on anyone's face.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Scythe Has Fallen...

The Scythe of the Grim Reaper of Unemployment, that is... Yes, my job is the latest casualty of the healthcare crisis. It was quite an unexpected blow to me. As I was clocking out for the day on Monday, my supervising physician pulls me aside and explains that due to current financial issues (less private-insurance patients, lack of reimbursement from Medicaid patients) the clinic could no longer afford to keep me. The news floored me. I was unemployed as of that very evening.
My emotions are still a bit raw. It is mainly the grief of loss, the unexpected shock, the stress of meeting my financial obligations (I have two loan payments due in a couple of weeks, and seven months left of my lease) and the sudden disruption of a life that had been progressing very smoothly. Today I reflected on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's 5 stages of death/dying/loss and noted that I had a short moment of denial (the "is this just a bad dream?" thought I had on Monday night), and now passing through the sadness stage and gradually easing into acceptance with the whole thing. I have tried to self-medicate by watching the first season of "Flight of the Conchords." I really could use a laugh. And maybe some chocolate milk... Nevertheless, I feel no anger, no bitterness,* or need to "bargain." The grief is still real, and I have had shed more tears the past couple days than I would like to admit, but I want to arouse my optimistic nature as well. Things will work out. I don't want this to be mistaken as a false happiness to suppress discouragement, but it is as the adage says, "Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." I also reflected recently on a saying that Joseph B. Wirthlin said, quoting his mother, "Come what may, and love it." So, am I going to love being unemployed? Well, I may not like its effects and stresses, but I can still find joy in today. I have more opportunities waiting for me. More free time, that hopefully I will be able to put to good use including serving others. Anyone need help moving out? Some cookies or empanadas made? Or, hey, maybe I could even go out on a date on a weeknight! (Okay that last one might be a little too optimistic, haha!). My mother suggested a possible visit to see Cutest Nephew Ever I and II. Very tempting, I have to see how the remaining finances** go when I figure them out. I haven't come across too many jobs yet, especially since I may be commuting from Riverside for a while. There's an opening in Thermal (near Coachella/Indio), CA. Like I said, I haven't come across too many openings yet. We'll see what happens.
* I initially felt no anger of bitterness, but I later realized that the way that I was laid off was, as my mother puts it, "despicable" and was very unprofessional. It was an insult to me and to the physician assistant profession. I am not one gets angry very often, but I will say that this issue left me very, very disappointed.
** I have also decided that applying for unemployment is not a bad thing, especially since 1/3 of my paycheck (even my final paycheck) goes to the government anyway.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

On a lighter note...

A couple weeks ago I moved to an apartment. I guess it's my first long-term (more than 6 weeks), all-bills, non-roommate living situation. I've been lucky to get some second hand furniture from the fam and won the battle of the couch with my Mom (it was easier to get her when she was in a good mood and thousands of miles away -- "Ask your father.." Victory!!) As of last Thursday I finally had a place to sit, woohoo!!! I'm still patiently waiting for a table and some chairs. I figured I'll get more "less-needed" stuff such as a television after the post-Thanksgiving or post-Christmas sales.
I think I'm now starting to miss television.
I thought getting by without it would be great for me, I can have more time to pursue other things, less temptations and distractions. I've gone for longer times without it. Now that I go home for lunch I don't get my daily mind rot of "Maury," but I am starting to miss watching the news and being caught up with things going on. I completely missed all the fun of the presidential debates (there's always the internet, I guess). There are those few other shows that I do miss. I had a funny thing happen last week. As I was locking my front door to run an errand, I heard the voice of Steve Carrell subliminally beckoning for my attention. I turned around and from my second-floor door step, I could easily glance into one of the neighbor's living rooms on the first floor across the way. Their sliding glass door was open and I could hear and see "The Office" so clearly on their big screen television. I stood by my doorstep for about a minute or two in my "Office"-induced daze until I realized that this could look very bad. Could my love for "The Office" drive me to become a voyeur? A peeping Thomasina? This would not be a good way to make a first impression with my neighbors.
There's always repeats. And DVDs. My dear "Office," I have not forgotten thee. We just need a little time apart. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. On to more productive uses of my time...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Can Universal Healthcare Reeeeeaaaally Work?

This was the question I asked my boss during a political discussion not too long ago.
"Sure," he replied, "they just have to lower their costs." If only it was that easy...

This is my first attempt at a political blog, so bear with me. I have been thinking about blogging on this topic for a while. Part of this blog was a response I wrote on an online q&a board a few months back. Last week I had thought about it while I was frustrated with an insurance group but I didn't want to spoil the happy auntie euphoria. This weekend I thought about it some more as I engaged in activities that included exploring bat-infested abandoned mines and scrambling up and down boulders with the consistent thought: "I don't have health insurance, I better not break anything..." It may seem a little ironic that the licensed health care provider who performs physical exams and prescribes your kid's drugs does not have health coverage herself. Fortunately, for me that will change in a few more weeks. Unfortunately, that's not the case for millions of Americans.

We all know that the current health care system is wracked with problems. Our healthcare system is crippled. We pay more money per capita on healthcare than any other developed nation in the world, we still have large populations of the medically underserved, health care costs are grossly inflated, insurance companies have way too much overhead/administration costs (CEOs are being paid way too much), there is a severe problem of Medicaid fraud and abuse, and health care providers and patients are frustrated. No one wants an elderly person on a fixed income to struggle with paying for their medications, a person to be denied a surgery due to their inability to pay, or a child to go without proper medical care. My last point is what I am going to use as a model for this blog because most children, if their parents are responsible enough to look into it, are able to get healthcare, whether through government sponsored insurance (Medicaid) or private insurance. No child should be going without proper medical care in the United States (or at least in California, anyway). I know this because all of my patients are covered under two Medicare insurance branches. For the past couple months I have been able to get a greater understanding of this type of insurance and have pondered about its potential as a model for a universal healthcare system that many politicians are pushing for. Another question: Is a single-payer system the best cure for America's healthcare crisis? I'm not sure if it is, but if it happens, there has to be A LOT of CHANGE on everyone's part. Everyone including every citizen of the country. Below are some points to consider when comparing healthcare systems and some of the negative points of why such a system may not be the best/easiest option (nothing will be easy) for the United States. This is also keeping in mind that the single-payer system will either be controlled or otherwise heavily influenced by the government.

1. Every health care system in the world has three main objectives: Access, Quality, and Low Cost. Unfortunately you can only pick one or two of those things for your system. No healthcare system can have all 3 nor is there a perfect system.

2. Different American mentality. Americans want the best, Americans want choices, Americans want it now. Someone with bone-on-bone knee arthritis living in daily chronic pain doesn't want to wait 5 years for a knee replacement (I heard that's the average wait in Canada). A friend's father flew from Canada to New York for his heart bypass that he paid with his own money because he didn't want to wait months and months for it and risk having another heart attack while he's waiting. I have struggled recently as one of the government health insurance groups has began to crack down on medications that are not listed on its formulary. An allergy sufferer who had been on the same medication for a very long time was trying to get refills. I write on the prescription, "intolerant to A." The pre-authorization was turned down. The insurance company only offered two choices of nasal spray: Drug A or Drug B. "But he's allergic to drug A!" says the grandmother (intolerant to the side effects most likely). Still can't get favored drug... Drug B it is, or nothing...

3. There will always be people who abuse the system and wastes tax-payer money. It already happens with Medicaid, I've seen it. Just one example from a universal-healthcare country: My uncle was in an accident in Norway and his hospital roommate, who was perfectly healthy, was there just because he wanted a "holiday." But it's okay, the government will pay for his holiday. People get ticked off when their tax dollars are misused. People aren't too crazy about how high taxes would have to go to provide universal healthcare. On another level, people will feel like they can go to the doctor for every sniffle or insect bite they get (trust me, I see it every day), because, hey, they're paying for it with their taxes. Never mind the fact that they are exposing themselves to more germs in overcrowded clinics...

4. Reimbursement for government-sponsored programs is horrible. I was talking with one of the other doctors who sees some of the same patients that I do and she says that we (healthcare providers) are only paid for one visit per patient per month, and it's not much of a payment to start with. Therefore, a patient can come back as many times in a month (i.e. follow-up for visit #2, mosquito bites for visit #3, runny nose for visit #4. cough three days later for visit #5 - trust me, this happens) and the provider is paid for the first visit only.

5. Many people don't trust the government handling healthcare. They have seen how efficient the government is handling other issues.

6. There are some lifestyle issues that affect the cost of healthcare. People in the United States live differently. There's fast-food on every corner. We spend too much time in cars or indoors. We're overstressed. Other countries get 6 weeks of vacation a year. Poor lifestyle contributes to many chronic health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and other problems. Chronic diseases are VERY expensive. A large percentage of people in the United States are overweight. Diabetes care (90% Type 2) used up 10% of government health spending in 2006. That's billions of dollars, and that will probably rise in the years to come. There's other cultural differences that can impact health and health costs.

7. Cost will still be an issue. Where will the money come from? The sponsored-insurance groups of my patients have seen some scary financial difficulty lately, but at least the Governator passed a bill recently that supplied more money. A temporary Band-aid.

8. Are people in single-payer healthcare system-countries satisfied with what they have? Many say no. Some countries are looking for other options. I heard that Canada passed a law making it illegal for Canadians to seek medical care in the United States. I don't have a source on that, but if it was really true...

So are universal healthcare and a single-payer system the main solutions to the United States healthcare problems? That's for the people to decide.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Welcome to the World, Lucas Wesley Mitchell!!

I have auntie euphoria! My nephew count doubled on Sunday when Lucas Wesley (a.k.a Cutest Nephew Ever #2) entered the world after a very quick delivery (labor was only an hour, I hope I will share my sister's "labor genes"). He weighed in at 8 lbs, 11 oz and 22 inches, quite a big boy. All is well and he went home yesterday. My mom will be in Alabama until the end of the month to help out mainly with my older nephew. Brian Jr. will be such a great big brother. I can't wait to see them, although who knows when that will be. I am so blessed. My auntie love capacity has doubled. No recession here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My first complaint

This week I got my first complaint from a parent of a patient. Normally, this would be a traumatizing moment for me, as I am a bit sensitive and need to thicken my skin for for future incidents. The last thing I want to do is offend someone or make a bad name for myself, but I know I am not perfect, parents are not perfect, and I will unintentionally offend someone again. I actually found this incident kind of funny and an example of why patients and parents need to use common sense and courtesy.

Monday one of the doctors came to me and said that she received a call about one of my patients. My heart began to race. She told me the conversation and I knew exactly who she was talking about.
Rolling back to Friday... An hour after the scheduled appointment, I see a girl about 8 years old with a chief complaint of runny nose, congestion, and fever for three days. She had not had a fever since the first day, no fever now, and had not taken any medicine for fever (Tylenol or Motrin). No cough, no history of asthma or allergies, no sick contacts. The only thing I found on physical exam was a really congested, runny nose. Meanwhile, the mom had been talking on her cell phone in a heated conversation for about 75% of the visit. Yes, there were signs in the room about cell phones, and I did have the right to leave the room and come back when her conversation was over or have one of the assistants tell her to turn off the phone, but I was feeling a bit laid back and decided to ignore it. I wrote a prescription for some Sudafed Cold and Cough to relieve the congestion; (yes, I prescribe over-the-counter meds all the time because Medicaid will pay for it, and I figure even if it saves them a couple bucks, a couple bucks may be their children's lunch money). I explained that it's most likely a very bad head cold caused by a virus, that antibiotics won't help (when she asked if I was going to give her the "pink" medicine), and with the combination of lack of fever, no sinus tenderness, length of time, and her age, it most likely was not a sinus infection, and that because it was a virus it just needed some time to pass. I told the mom that if it did persist for more than a couple weeks without any relief, to come back in. The mom was not very happy about the medicine and just shook her head on the way out and mumbled about how "this stuff don't work."

Fast forward to Monday and the doctor tells me about the call she received from the same parent of the same patient. The mother said, "I don't mean to be mean, but I saw your assistant on Friday and she told me it was a cold and gave me some Sudafed." The doctor said that the mother's voice got angrier when she started telling her about her experience after the visit. During that same weekend (not sure if it was the same night of her visit or not), she went to an urgent care (wonder if she had to pay a co-pay, but that's another issue). The mother's anger reached it's climax when she said, "your assistant said it was a cold, but they (urgent care) diagnosed it as a VIRAL infection!!" The doctor reassured her that the two diagnoses were the same thing and that I was correct in my decision.

If only this parent had not been on the cell phone, she would have heard me say "virus" at least three times. Oh well. I guess the stronger the medical terminology, the more reassuring it is to the parents... I have also learned my lesson on cellphones: it's gotta be zero tolerance from here on out...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Do I surprise you??

I'm behind in my blogging and need a little inspiration. I figured I could write one about some recent controversial issues and politics, but I'm not really in the mood right now. But stay tuned if you are into that stuff. Instead, I got this idea from my friend Heather's blog and thought that it was a pretty cool idea. One that I've put off too long. It's a list of 200 things that I have or have not done in my life. The things I HAVE done are in bold and italicized. There's quite a few things I still hope to accomplish, and if you want to help me accomplish them, let me know. If you've known me for a while maybe something will surprise you...

200 Have and Have-not's
1. Touched an iceberg
2. Slept under the stars
3. Been a part of a hockey fight
4. Changed a baby's diaper
5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Swam with wild dolphins
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a tarantula
10. Said "I love you" and meant it

11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
20. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
21. Had a pillow fight

22. Bet on a winning horse
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Taken an ice cold bath/Shower (well, maybe not really ice-cold)
28. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Ridden a roller coaster

31. Hit a home run
32. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
33. Adopted an accent for fun
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Felt very happy about your life, even for just a moment
36. Loved your job 90% of the time
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Watched wild whales
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Gone on a midnight walk on the beach
41. Gone sky diving
42. Visited Ireland
43. Ever bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited India
45. Bench-pressed your own weight
46. Milked a cow
47. Alphabetized your personal files
48. Ever worn a superhero costume
49. Sung karaoke
50. Lounged around in bed all day
(does it count if I was sick?)
51. Gone scuba diving
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Done something you should regret, but don't
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Been in a movie (does a mission video count?)
60. Gone without food for 3 days
61. Made cookies from scratch
62. Won first prize in a costume contest
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Been in a combat zone
65. Spoken more than one language fluently
66. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
67. Bounced a check
68. Read - and understood - your credit report
69. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
70. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
71. Called or written your Congress person
72. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
73. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
74. Helped an animal give birth
75. Been fired or laid off from a job
76. Won money
77. Broken a bone (do teeth count?)
78. Ridden a motorcycle
79. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph
80. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
81. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
82. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
83. Eaten sushi
84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read The Bible cover to cover
86. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
87. Gotten someone fired for their actions
88. Gone back to school
89. Changed your name
90. Caught a fly in the air with your bare hands
91. Eaten fried green tomatoes
92. Read The Iliad
93. Taught yourself an art from scratch
94. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
95. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
96. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
97. Been elected to public office
98. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
99. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
100. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
101. Had a booth at a street fair
102. Dyed your hair
103. Been a DJ
104. Rocked a baby to sleep
105. Ever dropped a cat from a high place to see if it really lands on all fours
106. Raked your carpet
107. Brought out the best in people
108. Brought out the worst in people
109. Worn a mood ring
110. Ridden a horse
111. Carved an animal from a piece of wood or bar of soap
112. Cooked a dish where four people asked for the recipe
113. Buried a child (Does it count that it was in a play?)
114. Gone to a Broadway (or equivalent to your country) play
115. Been inside the pyramids
116. Shot a basketball into a basket
117. Danced at a disco
118. Played in a band

119. Shot a bird
120. Gone to an arboretum
121. Tutored someone
122. Ridden a train
123. Brought an old fad back into style
124. Eaten caviar
125. Let a salesman talk you into something you didn’t need
126. Ridden a giraffe or elephant
127. Published a book
128. Pieced a quilt
129. Lived in an historic place
130. Acted in a play or performed on a stage
131. Asked for a raise
132. Made a hole-in-one (Does mini-golf count?)
133. Gone deep sea fishing
134. Gone roller skating
135. Run a marathon
136. Learned to surf
137. Invented something
138. Flown first class
139. Spent the night in a 5-star luxury suite
140. Flown in a helicopter
141. Visited Africa
142. Sang a solo
143. Gone spelunking
144. Learned how to take a compliment
145. Written a love-story
146. Seen Michelangelo’s David
147. Had your portrait painted
148. Written a fan letter
149. Spent the night in something haunted

150. Owned a St. Bernard or Great Dane
151. Ran away
152. Learned to juggle
153. Been a boss
154. Sat on a jury
155. Lied about your weight
156. Gone on a diet
157. Found an arrowhead or a gold nugget
158. Written a poem
159. Carried your lunch in a lunchbox
160. Gotten food poisoning
161. Gone on a service, humanitarian or religious mission
162. Hiked the Grand Canyon
163. Sat on a park bench and fed the ducks

164. Gone to the opera
165. Gotten a letter from someone famous
166. Worn knickers
167. Ridden in a limousine
168. Attended the Olympics
169. Learned to hula or waltz
170. Read a half dozen Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books
171. Been stuck in an elevator
172. Had a revelatory dream
173. Thought you might crash in an airplane
174. Had a song dedicated to you on the radio or at a concert
175. Saved someone’s life
176. Eaten raw whale
177. Know how to tat, smock or do needlepoint
178. Laughed till your side hurt

179. Straddled the equator
180. Taken a photograph of something other than people that is worth framing
181. Gone to a Shakespeare Festival

182. Sent a message in a bottle
183. Spent the night in a hotel
184. Been a cashier
185. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
186. Joined a union
187. Donated blood or plasma
188. Built a campfire
189. Kept a blog
190. Had hives
191. Worn custom made shoes or boots
192. Made a PowerPoint presentation
193. Taken a Hunter’s Safety Course
194. Served at a soup kitchen
195. Conquered the Rubik’s cube
196. Know CPR
197. Ridden in or owned a convertible
198. Found a long lost friend

199. Helped solve a crime
200. Commented on a friend's blog today.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Welcome to Pediatrics

Now that I've been in my job for over a month I guess I can share some experiences. Jumping into pediatrics for my first job has been quite an experience. I've learned a lot and still have so much learning to do. There's been some ups and downs. Downs including demanding parents (PLEASE check your attitude at the door), kids coughing in my face, the shock of having over a third of my paycheck go towards the government, and a few others. Ups include the sincere thank yous, working with great staff, the smiles that I get from kids of all ages, the opportunity to express standards and morals (monitoring TV programs, abstinence, etc...) while being viewed as "an authority" - that part is still a little weird. I appreciate those little opportunities where I hope I make a small difference in someone's life during such a short encounter. And then there are those weird, crazy, and funny moments, some are as follow...
* A rule for parents: please do not bring your puppy to your child's doctor appointment. Even more important, do not weigh your puppy on the baby scale or use any other clinic equipment on your dog.
* Another rule for parents: Please do not steal soap from the rooms. That is just ghetto. Ghett-o.
* I do confess that there are quite a few parents who ,"do not present themselves well," as one of my friends would say. Sometimes they don't have to say a word and sometimes their kids will say it for them. I had one tot whose first words, according the parents, very closely resembled "shut up" and "stupid." The only response I could say was ,"Wow." I remember my program director in PA school very early on in our training teaching us the importance of the "thought bubble" - as seen in cartoons and comic strips - and keeping our potential reactions and thoughts inside that bubble. I have used my "bubble" often.
* I am often humored by "creative spelling" of kids names. I know with some of the parents English is their second language, and some parents are trying to be unique, but I can't help to chuckle when I see names like "Melony" and "Marical" and quite a few others. Plus, it makes me look a little foolish when I attempt to say their name after I read it off the chart.
* One of the important rules I learned in pediatrics: Teenagers will always take more time. Always.
* I love my Littman stethoscope. It has endured some trauma during this past month, but its durability has not let me down. On my one week anniversary working at the clinic, I came down with the stomach flu. Near the end of the day as I was observing one of the doctors start putting some sutures into the last patient of the day, my stomach could no longer keep my breakfast and lunch down. Before I bowed to the porcelain god, I threw my stethoscope off my neck and onto the floor. After I finished what I needed to do, I noticed that the chain was broken in the toilet. I removed the lid of the tank and placed it on the trashcan so that I could reattach the chain. As I was fiddeling with the toilet , the trashcan tipped over and with with a loud noise (enough to scare another staff member and have her knock on the door) the tank lid fell right on top of the bell of my stethoscope. Fortunately, the tank lid didn't break and the only damage my stethoscope received was a crack in the rubber no-chill ring. Sooo lucky.
Fast forward to yesterday. I had a three year old patient who was going through a major mood swing. After yelling at his mom and calling her some not-so-nice names, he grabbed my stethoscope, pulling it from my ears, bit down on it and pulled on it as hard as he could. After I kept my cool he calmed down almost instantly and with my constant praise for his good behavior, he was an angel for the rest of the visit. After sanitizing my scope with some alcohol, I noticed that there was no damage, no teeth marks even. Amazing! A vet student friend of mine commented on how her stethoscope has survived being stepped on by cows. Huzzah for Littman stethoscopes, Huzzah!!

That's it for now, I'm sure I'll have more stories from the trenches, in a HIPPA-protected sort of way. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bergen, Norway

After I arrived in Norway, I was ready to achieve another part of my dream. This was to walk the same narrow, cobblestone streets that my great-grandparents walked at the turn of the 20th century - my great-grandfather as a missionary, and my great-grandmother as a resident. Other than the satellite dishes, many of the streets looked as if they had not changed much. I enjoyed the harbor, especially in the evening with the street performers, my first-night downpour without my umbrella, walking through the fish market on a Saturday morning (except for the smell), and the lovely shops that have existed for more than a hundred years.

One of my stops on the trip was to visit the home of Norway's most famous composer, Edvard Grieg. His name may not sound familiar to most people, but his music is. What I like most about Grieg is his ability to transform the emotions of life's ordinary and extraordinary moments into beautiful music, as well as his ability to embody the inspirational and spiritual nature of his surroundings (i.e. the wilderness of Norway.) Not surprising, his composing hut has a beautiful view overlooking a tree-lined lake that undoubtedly inspired his music.

One of my mandatory sites in Norway was to see a stave church - the centuries-old wooden churches with unique architecture and design that, as a tool to convert former pagans to Christianity incorporated early Christianity with pagan symbols. Unfortunately the original near Bergen burned down in the 1990s, but it was rebuilt. A stone cross from the early years of Christianity still remains there. I also had a good conversation with a graduate student conducting a survey about churches as tourist spots in Norway and Europe. We talked about his study, the religious lifestyles of Americans and Europeans, as well as a little of my own beliefs.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was my journey to Flam and taking a little cruise around the infamous fjords of Norway. It was incredible! I would love to return again someday and maybe take a hiking/kayaking trip around the fjords just like the American girl I met at the laundromat.
The train ride down into the Flam Valley was impressive and throughout my whole fjord journey I saw numerous cascades flowing down the deep green, and sometimes snow-topped, fjords. I also enjoyed seeing the beautiful little towns scattered throughout the fjords, from the deep valleys to the high peaks. The envy toward those Norwegian shepherds continued to grown inside me...
I enjoyed a sunset at the Bergen fortress one evening and it was very beautiful. My favorite sunset of the whole trip was enjoyed at the top of a hill overlooking the whole city and harbor of Bergen. I was able to take a tram up to the top and stayed until 11:30, just enjoying the view.

This pretty much wraps up my Scandinavia trip. Hope you enjoyed the ride. I would love to take this trip again, but I'm afraid it's going to have to wait for a very long time. I guess it's back to more diverse blogging.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Oslo, Norway

This was it. This was my gateway to achieving my 17 year dream of going to Norway and now I had achieved it. I had only one day to explore Oslo. Oslo is a beautiful city, lots of statues, clean streets, (except for the section of downtown that was torn up for construction), fountains, a mix of old and new architecture (the majority still had the antique feel) and lots of flowers.

My first stop in Oslo (after a much longer than anticipated trip the day before from Copenhagen) was the Akershus fortress and castle. Much of the building dates back to the late 13th century. This was a great place to take some pictures and get a view of the city.

My second stop in Oslo was the National Gallery. So many wonderful works of art and masterpieces that were centuries old from different Norwegian artists. My favorite part was the room dedicated to the most well-known artist, Edvard Munch. I am fascinated by how he is able to convey such intense and personal feelings, philosophies, and experiences into his work. He is most well known for his painting of "The Scream", which I have a parody on the left side of my blog. It was fascinating to learn about how this painting was inspired by a personal experience of his. This particular version (he made multiple "Screams") was stolen a few years ago and recovered earlier this year. The restoration efforts, due to some defacing it underwent, were amazing. I was also able to enjoy the beautiful "Madonna" painting that was also recovered this year. Another painting that I was fascinated by was "The Sick Child" which was a work he painted at the age of 22 and was inspired by the death of his own sister. Despite the harsh criticism he received for his style and technique, I thought it was an excellent work. If I had more time, I would have visited the Munch Museum in Oslo, but I felt like I did get a good introduction to his life and works.

After an afternoon visit to the Royal Place and gardens, I spent the evening in Frogner Park and the Vigeland Sculpture Park.

The theme of the Vigeland Sculpture Park is the Human Condition and the cycle of life. Over 200 bronze and granite statues were designed and created by Gustav Vigeland during the early half of the 20th century. One of the highlights of the park is the Monolith, a single, carved piece of stone consisting of piled figures that look as though they are struggling to rise to heaven. This work is said to represent man's desire to become closer with the spiritual and design. It is suppose to portray a feeling of togetherness as the humans embrace one another as they are carried toward salvation. Another interesting point about the Monolith is that the humans at the top are children and babies, those who are closest to heaven and all that is divine. There was something about the range of human affections, emotions, and relations portrayed in all of the statues in the park that I found intriguing. The essence of the human soul and its basic relationships- parents, children, friends, siblings, lovers, enemies - all depicted in stone and bronze; giving life to the lifeless. It was a very memorable experience.

My day in Oslo ended with a trip back to the hostel on the tram, just in time to barely miss the beginning of a thunder and lightening storm. I wanted to see it, but it was quite late and I had a morning train ride to Bergen. Plus, risking electrocution when one is alone in a foreign country may not be a good idea.

Some other random observations about Oslo:
* I've never been to a city where street performers are dressed up as famous natives (well, maybe the exception of the Ben Franklins in Philadelphia). In Oslo's case , it was the playwright Ibsen.
*There were a lot of Spanish-speaking tourist in Norway. I would have never thought...
*I finally caught on about the true value of the recycling redemption value of plastic water bottles. A refund of a krone (probably about 20 cents) is a krone more to spend, especially in a country like Norway. I finally gave up buying bottled water in Bergen anyways.
* I did take a couple breaks from walking all over the city to watch some children play in the city's fountains on a hot, summer day. I was tempted to join them, but I refrained.

It is safe to say that Oslo was the cultural highlight of my trip. Stay tuned for more Norwegian beauty and adventures...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kobenhavn (a.k.a. Copenhagen)

Copenhagen is an interesting city and has some of the "classic" European things including a castle, a palace, and a windmill. I think compared with other major cities I went to, it has a bit more of an urban, yet still historic feel to it.

* I attended Church and fortunately had all the meetings translated in English with the use of some interesting headphones, amazing technology!! Luckily I wasn't the only one who was wearing them. I still had the opportunity to slaughter the Danish language by attempting to sing the hymns. The Copenhagen temple was around the corner from the chapel and I was glad I could see it. Another highlight for that Sunday was seeing the original Christus statue (as replicated in LDS temple Visitor's Centers). It, as well as the statues of the 12 Apostles by the same artist in the same church, are wonderful works of Christian art. I attempted to catch a Carl Bloch painting but that shall have to wait until a future trip.

I had a nice walk along the harbor and was able to see the Little Mermaid statue. Hans Christian Andersen (no known relation to myself) is the famous Danish author of the tale. Tourists swarmed the statue but I was fortunate to get a few shots.

Fredericksberg Garden was a lovely park to spend a Sunday afternoon in. It even has hammocks! I rocked out, literally.

Copenhagen was still a pretty busy place at night and was bustling with tourists who were enjoying the end of the weekend. There was a long pedestrian street with lots of shops and some museums (I did stay away from the Erotic Museum). Other sites included the Round Tower (one of the oldest observatories in Europe, dating from the 1600s) and the World Clock Tower (supposedly one of the most accurate clocks). I set my travel alarm clock to it, but unfortunately a couple nights later it fell and the battery came out. Oh, well. Someday I would definitely like to go to the top of the Round Tower to get a sweet view of the city.
Some other random observations:
* Outside the train station I saw a male bike-taxi driver wearing a shirt that said "BYU Women's Track" which included the old BYU cougar logo. I thought it was pretty funny. (I know this must seem like an inside joke for some readers.)
* I don't like Copenhagen laundromat dryers. I couldn't get the dryer off of the "cool down" setting. At least the dryer was in English, unlike the washer with which I had to take a complete guess on how to operate.
*It was my reminder to put on sunscreen. Th sun seemed to be on steroids and I did get burned. I had a really nice ankle-sock line the next day to show off with my sandals.
* I cannot praise the strawberries enough. So good! And so good looking!! Not quite like the genetically-induced-oversized - mutant-looking strawberries that I have grown accustomed to in California.
*This was my first time staying at a YMCA hostel. I really had the urge to start singing the YMCA song and do the dance, but I settled for a more discreet whistling of the Village People tune.
*Danish danishes (the pastries, they're not called danishes in Denmark) are, not suprisingly, better in Denmark than the United States. I made sure I bought one at the train station before I left for Norway.
That's Copenhagen in a nutshell. Stay tune for Oslo, Norway next.