Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Next Big Goal

My next big goal is the Bataan Memorial Death March, which takes place in White Sands, New Mexico every year. Every year, thousands or people from around the world -- military member, civilians, amputees, children, adults, and the elderly-- participate in a march in memory of the soldiers who survived and died during the 60 mile Bataan Death March during World War II after they were forced to surrender to the Japanese. The intro to the movie, "The Great Raid," offers a good summary of the events of the Bataan Death March. It's a bit heavy, but pretty honest too.

Some of my military friends are forming a team to participate. We've been practicing for the last month every Saturday morning on Transmountain Road and through Franklin Mountains State Park. I've decided to be on the "light" team (just carrying water) because I really haven't been able to "PT" everyday and this is my first march, but I did try the 35 pound ruck sack the last time and it wasn't too bad (of course it was only for a little more than half of the 10 mile practice hike we did). Maybe I'll build up. We'll see.

This was after the weird November snow fall going up Transmountain Road. A perk of training on Saturday mornings and enjoying quiet, lovely views like these. A lovely view of Texas and New Mexico (Soccorro, far left)
For more information on the Bataan Memorial Death March, you can go here. Does anyone want to join me??

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I broke out some of my very few Christmas decorations (mainly a few nativity scenes and a tree from Target) last week.

I also got a lovely poinsettia that was left over from the Holiday Ball. I guess it was one of the perks of staying until the end and dancing the night away. I told my fellow PA that we should cancel sick call on Monday to go to Legal Services to account for damages to the dance floor bece WE TORE IT UP!! And I was sober too. There might be someone out there who is waiting to black mail me with video of my moves, so beware!

A couple weeks ago El Paso was hit with a freak snow storm. It wasn't that bad, it's just that El Pasoans are not used to snow. A few days later there was another storm but it mostly left EVERY road (including I-10) covered in ice! I think I wore out my guardian angels that day as I did a little "gliding" on Fred Wilson Blvd early that morning. Of course I didn't get the message that the base was going to open up two hours later that morning.

Another tid bit, one job I'm really glad I don't have: the security gate people. Yeah, they have looked pretty cold recently. Maybe when I roll down my window to hand them my ID, I momentarily blast them with a little Christmas music and heat. It has warmed up since, so don't let a little cold weather deter you from visiting me in the "beautiful" city of El Paso!

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's been one of those weeks...

These were my daily goals for Thursday:
1. Have my computer/electronic medical records system working. I was kicked off of the system at 8:30 the night before. I guess that was my sign to go home. Fortunately, it was working the next morning.
2. Talk to the clinical nurse psychiatrist about a patient whose needs exceeds that of a primary care provider. This was also my first "will not see again" patient. I've started THE LIST.
3. Not end the day with a mentally unstable patient, unlike the previous two days. Yeah, one of those weeks.

On an up note, my goals for tomorrow include:
1. Road march 6 miles through Transmountain Road. More details later.
2. Finish about 9 patient notes that had to be put off due to other events this week.
3. Go grocery shopping at the commissary when it is actually open. Open!
4. Prepare my lesson for Sunday school on Sunday. Yep, I'm subbing. It's actually from Preach My Gosple, chapter 2.
5. Enjoy my Bluebelle Groom's Cake ice cream (chocolate ice cream with strawberry swirl, chocolate cake pieces, chocolate covered strawberries, something like that.) I have been thinking about this ice cream for well over a month! It's my reward for setting a new personal record on my physical fitness test -- which I completed when it was 35 ndegrees outside. I think I will remember to bring gloves when it's that cold next time. Maybe keep the long pants on for the run too.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

100th Post

Thanks to ll who replied to my last post. I had really good suggestions from my last post and it was hard to pick just one, but it gave me ideas for future posts.
My 50th post was dedicated to things that I was grateful for, so go ahead and check it out.
I was afraid if I blogged on 100 people I could kill. I wouldn't want someone googling their own name and coming upon my blog.
I like my sister's idea, but I stopped around 28 of awkward moments. Maybe some future posts.
A major shout-out goes out to Heather and I dedicate this post to her. May you bask in the warm fuzzies from afar, Heather.

And for Rachel, here is the list of my favorite numbers from 1-100.

100 Reasons to Visit Me.

24. It's me!! Is there any better reason?

8. I MISS YOU!!!

80. Carlsbad Caverns is less than a few hours away. Camping! And bats (best seen during summer)!

99. Franklin Mountains State Park (America's largest urban state park). Good place to have a picnic at some overlooks with really good views. When I first saw it, I joked it was the "make-out point" of El Paso on the weekends.

15. Only 11-12 hours from California!! I'm not that far away. It's like driving to Utah, but you save more on gas.

12. We will laugh. Oh, yes. We will laugh.

18. You miss me.

21. You need to try something new.

16. One year until I'm deployed. The clock is ticking.

36. Lincoln National Forest (NM). Get my "tree" fix.

92. You can get lots of ideas for "desert landscaping"

34. Less than 6 hours away from the closest In n' Out (Arizona)

1. Old Mesilla Village

77. I have an extra bedroom and bathroom. Better than the Hilton, no? Well, maybe not.

33. Petroglyphs!!

43. I think El Paso still gets more water than Southern California. It may not be as "desert-ish" as you think.

49. Blue sky! I don't see very much smog.

27. Photo scavenger hunt (I love Heather's 100 photos of Texas idea, need to break out the camera!)

66. The weather has been in the 70'! And 40's, than 60's. Maybe 70's tomorrow. This was all this past week.

20. Albuquerque is less than 4 hours away, would make a good day/weekend trip.

28. Gas is cheaper here than in California.

3. Hueco Tanks State Park

54. You only have to drive on one freeway to get here (if coming from California). Yay for I-10!!

22. Home of the Sun Bowl!

37. The Aerial Tramway. I haven't even done the one in Palm Springs yet, this might be a good ride.

75. El Paso Museum of Art

2. Ysleta Mission - first established in 1682.

88. Minor League Baseball team : the Diablos.

100. An outlet mall that's pretty close. Plus there's at least 3 other malls in El Paso.

14. Lots of Latin music at YSA dances.

81. You can watch the sunset over two states and two countries

10. Avila's Mexican Restaurant

4. Good mountain biking (I have heard).

25. Good salsa.

50. You can walk some of the same roads Billy the Kid walked in Las Cruces, NM.

97. Albuquerque temple

23. Many of these places I haven't been to yet, we can explore together!

76. White Sands National Monument

31. It is possible to snow in El Paso (but not enough that you have to worry about shoveling the sidewalk).

64. I'll make you cookies. Maybe even a pie.

5. Good stopover to visiting other cities in Texas. Dallas and San Antonio are about 8-9 hours away. There's not much in between them and El Paso, believe me.

65. Lots of hiking opportunities.

69. Have you ever been this close to Mexico?? Sorry I can't cross the border with you.

44. Ciudad Juarez temple (sorry, can't go with you there either).

17. The night janitor is concerned for my social life. Having an out-of-town visitor may motivate me to procrastinate finishing my notes a little.

61. BlueBelle Ice Cream

77. Some bands/singers do actually come to perform in El Paso. So far since I've been here, there's been Brittany Spears, Parachute, and Kelly Clarkson, David Cook, Manheim Steamroller, and Third Eye Blind are coming in the next few weeks.

55. Hobby Lobby (crafts/home accents store - usually has good sales).

26. Just 40 minutes from the Land of Enchantment -- New Mexico!!

90. You can stop in Phoenix on the way here from California. It's a good half-way point.

3. Taco Cabana: 24 Hour Tacos and good rotisserie chicken.

60. Will you ever see a Wal Mart parking lot with more cars from Mexico than from Texas?

13. Home of the National Border Patrol Museum

86. It's Sun City, USA. Famous for an average of 302 days of sunshine throughout the yar.

9. A huge Cinco De Mayo festival

39. El Paso is the 21st largest metropolitan area in the United States.

6. How many people can really say that they've been to El Paso?

19. It's on the way to Houston, New Orleans, Florida, and a bunch of other places.

58. I have a nice view of cactus from my balcony. Lots of it.

96. UTEP (University of Texas El Paso) makes it a college town, I guess. Go Miners!

78. Lots of men and women in uniform.

7. Awesome lightning storms.

47. Tax free shopping at the Post Exchange (like a Target/WalMart) and Commissary (grocery store on post)!

59. I may actually be motivated to cook some real food.

41. Excuse to visit the largest state in the continental United States

89. There's a cool star that lights up on the mountain. It just happens to be the world's largest illuminated star.

67. Ruby's BBQ. Has some really good BBQ sauce. There's also a Famous Dave's that I still need to check out.

86. When I'm standing in line at the grocery store, people seem to be very chatty here.

11. Annual Amigo Airshow held at Fort Bliss.

73. Have you ever seen a volcanic crater? Well, now you can.

51. Since it's in the Mountain Standard Time Zone, television shows come on one hour earlier = a. better chance of catching your favorite show, and b. Getting to bed earlier.

79. Delta offers some of the cheapest, non-stop flights from Salt Lake City.

84. I recently discovered a place that sells frozen custard. I haven't seen one of those places since college.

83. Annual Wine and Jazz festival in Las Cruces.

43. Stephen's Hot Cocoa and a lot of imported German treats are available at the commissary.

30. You might be inspired if you watch "Glory Road"

45. There's a couple of scenic drives around El Paso, including a road known as "Scenic Drive."

32. Transmountain road is kind of fun to drive.

70. I live in a safe neighborhood.

29. 6th largest city in Texas!

35. You know you want to.

40. I have MREs available to use for any spontaneous camping trips.

52. Time to catch-up on your life.

63. I won't be making it to California for November.

72. You're missing out on all of my craziness.

82. You need a vacation.

95. I need to see some familiar faces.

38. Good, clean fun! But I don't mind get a little dirt on my clothes either.

42. I haven't had much bad traffic experience here in El Paso (then again, I leave for work at 5:10 in the morning).

56. Free hugs!

62. You can mark "Texas" off of your list of life-long goal of states to vist.

85. There's a Spanish radio station that plays a variety of English rock and alternative songs that you don't hear as often.

98. Carpe diem!!

68. I'm running out of reasons, but there really are more...

78. Complimentary sopapillas at Mexican restaurants. I have never seen that before.

46. Guadalupe Mountains National Park

74. "El Paso is like a big ugly wart, but it grows on you." -- Brother Jessop

87. I have hope for some wildflowers in the spring.

93. You can get your "Jennette-ic" fix.

48. Big Bend National Park

87. Time spent with those you love is the best investment.

94. El Paso is not really a tourist trap.

91. There's actually a Vietnamese restaurant in El Paso. How's that for culinary variety?

53. You can put your sunblock to good use.

71. Adventure awaits you!

57. Did I mention that I miss you?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ideas, Anyone??

I'm approaching a big milestone in my blogging life...the 100th post. I was wondering if there was a special topic I should do to commemorate my 100th post like I have seen other people do. Should I do 100 random facts, top 100 of something, post a question and get 100 comments (I like comments), etc...etc...?? Let me know and the one I choose will get a free mug. Well, maybe not, but at least a shout-out and maybe the respect of random strangers thinking, "Good one..."

Please comment, please...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Welcome Home

Here's some updates and randomness from the past couple weeks. I know, I've been slackin'.

* I made the 8.5 hour drive from San Antonio to El Paso on a pure sugar rush consisting of IHOP Nutella crepes for breakfast and a blue coconut creamfreeze from Sonic's when I reached my halfway point at Fort Stockton.

*When I got back, I wasn't sure if I was in El Paso because it was 74 degrees. I love coldfronts. Then I tried to re-program my radio stations, and sure enough, I was back in El Paso. One weird thing was that I found a Spanish station that occasionally plays some English alternative. Was that Pearl Jam that was just on?

*On a low note, when I got back I found out that my credentialing was not finished. I was told it would take another week before the next credentialing meeting. I was a bit disappointed. Then, 2 days before said credentialing meeting I found out that it would be another 3 weeks. I think I replied, if not shouted in my head, "You've got to be kidding me!!" "But you have a lot of stuff to do right?"said the lady in charge of my credentialing. Ummm, that's what I've been doing this past week. Why is it taking 3-4 months to get this done?? Needless to say, I was having feelings that were less than charitable to credentialing lady. Might I add, that I've never seen this lady in person? She's never there! Oh well, I guess I just have to continue to "flexecute."

*As part of my "flexecuting" I've started organizing the weekly medic training classes. My last one was on sore throat, and this week, by popular demand, it's sexually transmitted diseases. I have to alter my STI powerpoint presentation for a third version. Hopefully it will go over well.

*I have started doing sick call in the mornings. It stinks a little that I can't even write a prescription for something like Motrin. Tomorrow will be pretty busy since we get a lot of soldiers with post-weekend-itis. One of my partners likes to drug-test the repeat visitiors, especially those who come in on Monday mornings and it seems like the weekend had been a bit hard on them. Good idea. I'm still trying to learn the ways of chewing out soldiers who do dumb things. This may take some time. I did show less mercy on a private who was complainingg of coughing while exercising and at night after a cold two weeks ago. My prescription: Stop smoking!

*I do have my own office now! Complete with my name on the door. Oh, and I have my own stamp too. That one came at a cost. I think the lady in front of me was starting her own business and decided to order about 7 stamps and it took about 40 minutes.

*The first day I reported back, my commander said that he wanted to give the next Friday off to get some things done. I thought, okay, sure. After I found out that my credentialing will take a bit longer, I asked for an extra day off and changed the destination on my pass form. I got a plane ticket to California and flew in Thursday night. One of my first stops after I arrived was of course, to get an In n' Out animal style cheeseburger. Much of my weekend was spent attending the annual California Academy of Physician Assistants annual conference (couldn't believe this was my 6th time going) in Plam Springs. There were some good lectures, good advice ("Deep down, everyone wants a rectal exam."), brushed up on my suturing skills, cheered for USC as they won the College Bowl, and saw some good friends and former classmates that I had not seen in over a year. I was also very fortuante to spend most of my weekend in air conditioning, since it was over 100 wherever I went.

*I recognized the big difference between Texas drivers and California drivers: Speed. Californians like it. I had not driven that fast over the speed limit in a long time.

*After the conference I would drive back home and spend the rest of my waking hours visiting with friends. It was so good to see so many faces. I don't know how I know so many awesome people. The five hours of sleep every night was defiantely worth it. On my last day in California I stopped by the DeMaria quads. I can't believe they're walking!

Busy day tomorrow, and I have a mosquito with a death wish to take care of.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

OBC Pictures

Here are some pictures from the past couple months.
San Antonio as seen from the temple (downtown is the fuzziness on the horizon).

Home sweet home. The tent I shared with 28 other ladies.

Cloudy skies were a rare but welcomed event. We were hoping to get some rain, but it didn't happen.

After the gas chamber: Feel the burn!! I really am trying to open my eyes.

The 2nd most popular mode of transportation (second to walking)

Remembering the Alamo.

Chillin' with the Dixons at the Houston Waterfall

Feeding turtles at the Houston Arboretum

Texas State Capitol in Austin

San Antonio Temple

Saturday, September 12, 2009


It's a bit hard to sum up the last few weeks, but I'll try. Still will have to wait until I get back to El Paso for some pictures.

*Here are some firsts: First pedicure (believe it or not, and after field training -- oh how needed it was!), first time feeding turtles, first Korean BBQ, chest tube insertion, and Wii experience (bowling, tennis, and boxing).

* I have to take back what I said about bees in my last post. There were a couple mornings where they were really, really bad when I was trying to eat breakfast. Stupid bees...

* The last week of field training seemed to go by quickly. I do miss the familiar call of the loudspeaker shouting, "Attention on the FOB!" "Time: Now," and "That is All." And the morning MJ/NKOB/Vanilla Ice music. We had some mass casualty drills and those were pretty fun. We couldn't use blanks that day so I had to verbally shout "Bang! bang!!" when I was on the guard tower and under attack. That's probably the reason why I got a fake knee injury and my partner was severely "wounded." I got to be the PA for aid station at the base and it was a good experience. The doc and I pushed 43 patients through in 1 hour! It was the first time I really had to do anything closely medically related in the past month. I love my job.

*I started coming up with a new song parody as I was cleaning my weapon to the tune of David Archuleta's "Crush" - which really was playing while I was cleaning it. "And you know this crud ain't going away-y-ay-y-ay-yaaaaaaaahh..." It was quite a long and tedious process.

* I had a wonderful time in Houston for a weekend visiting my friend Laura from PA school and her husband Cisco. We went indoor ice skating and to the Houston Arboretum. I'm going to miss the trees when I go back to El Paso, but I enjoyed the weekend while it lasted. If you're in the Houston area, apparently Lupe's Tortilla makes some really good fish tacos.

*I graduated from OBLC! I guess. It's weird thinking that I gradated when I still have a couple weeks of class left. The PA track also missed the ceremony because we were doing the Tactical Combat Medical Care (TCMC) course. TCMC was a great experience and it really made me appreciate what combat medics go through. My motto is: Learn/Train like your life depends on it, because it does.

*Fake blood is not easy to get out. Luckily I used my "field" pants, as they are now designated. Darn red food coloring...

*My California peaches let me down. Won't go into details, but I did call the grocery store to give them a heads up. Fortunately, it was only the girl next to me that noticed when I had a mild freakout and threw my peach back into my bag.

*There are some really ugly birds around here. I don't know what kind they are, but they look like diseased, strung-out, balding mini-crows.

* The San Antonio temple is very beautiful! It always feels like home, no matter where I am. I hope I can make it back again before I leave San Antonio.

*I've been enjoying a few other attractions of San Antonio. I was able to go to Sea World and Six Flags over Labor Day weekend. They're not quite like their California equivalents, but they were pretty fun.

*San Antonio finally got some rain!! It makes for a bit of mud around here, but it's been great.

So I finish this next week, drive back to El Paso and report back to duty next Friday. Back to the real world.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week 2 of Field Training

I'm officially done with my second week of OBC! It seemed to go a bit faster than the first. Here are some things that happened:

*It didn't start out great. We had to report at 4:30 in the morning and knew that we had a long wait before we could get our weapons. That morning a new rule was instituted that we could not sit down unless we were eating. The week before we waited over 4 hours for the arms room to open up, so this made me a little cranky. Sometimes the time management is "menos eficaz" (less-effective).
* I found an evening of cooler, cloudy weather has a mildly intoxicating effect. Add some Erasure music playing over the loudspeaker and I became a bit giddy. Multiple this happiness with an instigated rule that we did not have to carry our lightening-rod weapons outside for the rest of the evening. Oh, the joy!! Some of the other music selections that were played over the loudspeaker included Vanilla Ice (my tent did get a premier of "Eyes, Eyes, Baby"), MC Hammer, LL Cool J, Michael Jackson, and New Kids On the Block. I waved my canteen to "Hangin' Tough" but found the whiny "I'll Be Loving You, Forever" to be a bit annoying.
* I survived the gas chamber! It's known as the "Mask Confidence" course and I do have great confidence in my gas mask. I was in a group of about 12 people and was led into a small room that pumped some sort of gas. The skin on our necks and hands burned as did some stretches and jumping jacks, and then we had to individually take off our mask and state our rank, full name, social security number, and where we were from. Some of the people in my group made it look so easy. When my turn came, I took a deep breath in, took off my mask, and proceeded to choke and cough my way through my words. It was almost like a drowning sensation while eating a jalapeno kind of feeling. Good time, good time.
*I had convoy operations training one day and started off in a simulator. I got to be the gunner in my group (stand through a hole in the "hummer" and shoot a really, really, large machine gun) and it was really awesome. During our field practice my job was to do security which entailed lots of kneeling on a very hot afternoon , and the radio person. While I was doing my radio job I missed out on the big "attack." On Thursday I did MOUT training which includes kicking doors, clearing rooms, and shooting enemies. That was pretty crazy yet fun too. This next week there is supposedly going to be some war games, woohoo!!
*I'm becoming more accustomed to bees and other stinging insects. There's always a lot of them during meal times and they just don't like to leave me alone. One of them suffered death by gravy. I do draw the line when they enter my tent. One victim suffered death by Blackhawk boot.
*The culinary highlight of field food this week was chicken. This was especially exciting after an encore of weird meatballs.
*I did make up for the MREs this week with some good food this weekend. Some friends and I went to a cool little dive in San Antonio called The Cove. It has its own car wash and has an indoor laundromat. It was nice enough to sit outside and we caught the last part of a local act in the var room. The food was amazing! It was all organic and we shared a vegetable appetizer that included falafel, naan, hummus, and sweet potatos. Most of the people had the bison burger and I tried the lamb burger with latin spices and sweet potato fries. Sooo good!! I tried some of the homemade ginger ale which was pretty good but really strong. My taste buds were on overload! Highly recommend this place!
* I ended this week with a wonderful visit with my friend Laura from PA school and her husband and met some of her sibs. It was a great afternoon and so fun to catch up. I may visit her in Houston in a couple weeks. Good times!
Stay tuned for more adventures next week! Last week of field training!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

1st Week of Field Training

Here are some thoughts and experiences from my first week of field training. It has been a lot different from the previous 3 weeks of "death by Powerpoint."

* It's still been pretty hot. There have been a few heat injuries, especially amongst my platoon. This week we're suppose to start our physical training again. Oh, how I'm looking forward to that!
* I think the most beautiful sight I saw was the porta-potty maintenance truck pull up. It almost brought a tear to my eye...well, maybe not. It was still rather exciting. Those things can smell pretty bad. I also learned it's best to get in line early for meals, as the line backs all the way up to the latrines.

* I've been getting accustomed to the MREs (meals ready to eat). I had quite a hit of indigestion after the first two. I'm even starting to get use to the rehydration salts, which tasted pretty nasty in the beginning. It's been nicknamed "sweat water."

*I survived land navigation. I've developed a greater appreciation for safety eyewear, patrol cap, and uniform. The daytime course had me going through a lot of branches and night-time I plowed through quite a bit of cactus.
*With all the bruises I've managed to acquire, I'm starting to look like a human Dalmatian.

* Often in the morning and during the few rest breaks there's music played over the loudspeaker. This included a wide variety of classics including Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now." One of the first mornings we were awoken by some weird movie soundtrack with a little girl crying, "Daddy!! Don't leave me!"

* My battle buddy had her birthday while we in the field. I bought her some lunch from the "gut truck" to spare her an MRE.

*I have to have my weapon - an M-16 - tied (literally) to me practically 24/7. Even when we use the latrines. I feel like it's my long lost conjoined twin. I named it Enrique. I don't know if Enrique and I will be reunited again for this next week. He will always be my "first"...

* I felt like I may have cheated on Enrique when I did my 9mm pistol training. I did do a lot better on the range with the pistol than with the M-16. I'm sorry Enrique...

* My shower Friday night was the first shower I had since Monday morning and it felt soooo good. Loved it.
* This weekend went way too fast. Part of it must have been the fact that I slept until noon on Saturday. Yep, I was that tired. One of the highlights was taking advantage of Sonic's happy hour. So many drink choices!! I was already thinking of my next drink before I finished my blue coconut cream slush. It hit the spot.
4 a.m. Monday morning comes way too early. There's sure to be more adventures this week.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Checking In, Beginning Week 3!

Time is sure going by! Looooong days but fast weeks. One of the highlights of last week was the M-16 training. I still have to practice getting it assembled and disassembled in under 4 minutes. Maybe I can tap my inner Forrest Gump. I did a computer simulated exercise and got the rank of marksman. I was pretty fun! I will officially qualify when I start my field training next week.

Another fun moment this last week was Saturday night when I went to a dueling piano bar called Howl At The Moon on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. The pianos were going non-stop and they occasionally added in some drums or a guitar too. The crowd sang along to all of the songs. I loved the contest of choosing the cheesiest song from the 1980's. It tied with "Rock Me Amadeus" and "Gloria". At one point they had all the prior and active service military come on stage and sing along to "I'm Proud To Be An American" and it was pretty awesome.

Today I was waiting to do some medical in-processing (get immunizations, put medical info into the system, and do a vision exam). I arrived at 7 with over 150 other people after a 5:45 formation before breakfast. It took over 3 hours to get the computer system back up again and when all was said and done, I got out 6 1/2 hours later. During this time, I played a few games of tic tac toe and the dot game with the captain next to me, checked my Facebook about a dozen times, chit-chatted with a few other people surrounding me, and attempted to write my first post via phone. Unfortunately, the online access wasn't that great so I'm just doing it now before I touch-up my powerpoint presentation on STDs for tomorrow. Ahhhh, STDs. Fortunately I don't have to give it before lunch. I made it out with a Tb test, a polio vaccine (weird military protocol...), my second Hep A, and the easiest and quickest vision test ever. I thought for sure I would have trouble with that one, but I could use my good eye. At least I don't have to wear ugly "Birth Control" glasses when I'm in the field.

More to come...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

OBC: week 1

I'm almost finished with my first full week of Officer Basic Course (OBC) at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. Here are just some random thoughts and evens of the past week:
* On Monday I had a paperwork fiasco with my unit and this resulted in me leaving pretty late (considering I thought I would have it all signed by 10 AM and could be making it on my merry way. I didn't hit the freeway until about 5 PM and drove through the night. I learned that Texas Highway Patrol are pretty strict about their speed limits and I tried to be careful with the speed limit for most of the trip. With a time change, the night-time speed limit dropping to 65 mph and getting a little lost in San Antonio, I made it to lodging around 5 in the morning. I ended up taking an hour nap in my car and then I was able to register.
* With the large number of people in my class as well as the other overlapping class, we were assigned to hotels off base, with our own rooms. I know my living arrangements will be drastically different in a couple weeks when I start field training (crowded tents, 105+ degree heat, no showers). I guess by then I'll be moved to on-base shared lodging for the weekends and probably for the rest of my time here.
* I did have a little elevator trouble the other night. I was going down to the first floor and when it stopped, the doors barely cracked open. Pulling them and pressing the open button didn't help. The elevator went back up, and then down and repeated the same thing. For the next couple minutes it continued to go randomly up and down while I called the help line. I was told that the elevator had been having problem (duh, why didn't they have a sign on all the floors?)and a mechanic was going to fix it. The elevator finally stopped and opened on the third floor where there was a man waiting to use it and I told him he shouldn't. Craziness.
* I still have a bit of catching up to do on sleep. My first 72 hours since Sunday night I totaled 9 nine hours of sleep. The last few mornings I had to get up at 3 and 3:30 in the morning. I guess it's better to do our outside stuff at 5 in the morning when it's 80 degrees rather than 5 in the afternoon when it's over 100 (and stays 100 even at 9 o'clock at night). It's been a little bit of a challenge to stay hydrated, although it's made a little easier with my "patriotic" blue Powerade. And bless the creator of flavor-enhanced water (except the lemon-lime flavor -- that one is nasty).
* It's nice that I'm not the only one new to the military. The class (over 300 people) is about evenly divided between newbies and prior service. There's also some reserve and National guard too, and three foreign military officers. The majority of the group is made of nurses -- 95% of the people I meet -- and I've met about a handful of PAs.
* I had a nice time last night on the Riverwalk and some good Italian food with some of the other students. Good times.
* It's taking me some time and patience to get used to this San Antonio freeway system. Circular freeways? There's so many different roads and one-way streets. Who's idea was that? Luckily there are some turnarounds, but really it should not be that complicated.
* I attended the military branch today on base that was held in the library. Attending church in the library is a first for me. In a couple weeks we might move to the child development center. There was a pretty good turnout of around 70 people and they said it was the largest group they have seen in a while. I was a bit distracted during Relief Society with the "Read" campaign posters of celebrities from the 80's. Does anyone remember those?

More adventures to follow. Stay tuned.

Soundtrack of Life (so far)

I got this idea from my friend Brett and decided to try it out. I'm passing on the list of rules if anyone feels like doing the same. It is really interesting, fun, and a little challenging. If anyone would like to create their own playlist, feel free to share it with me or we can even swap CDs.

The purpose of the soundtrack is to expose friends to new or different bands and discover one another's taste in music. One should not try to analyze the lyrics to figure out the person as lyrics may or may not reflect the person's own life. For example, some songs may be included that have a particular sentimental value, may be what one was simply listening to at a particular period of one's life, or may even be chosen for the lyrical content, but that can only be discovered by asking the compiler of the soundtrack, not by attempting to analyze and figure it out on one's own. Each individual has his or her own rationale for compiling the songs that he or she chooses and it may be extremely different from your own.

1. You may choose any songs of your choosing for your soundtrack, but an artist can only appear once on your soundtrack (for example, I could not have two songs by The Smiths, but it is perfectly fine to have one song by The Smiths and another by Morrissey--who is the lead singer of The Smiths but later branched out on his own).
2. All songs must fit on 2 cds.
3a. Burn a disc with your soundtrack and swap it with a friend who has done the same.
3b. If you are swapping with someone from a distance and do not wish to mail the cds (or if you would like to swap with me, but don't want to burn discs or get my address, etc.) you may simply send the playlist with the name of the song and the artist. This will allow for the person to look up the music on their own if they like.
4. Swap the cd and playlist with your friend.
5. If you like, you can ask your friend why he or she chose a particular song for the soundtrack, but the friend reserves the right not to share that information if they do not desire to do so.

So here's my soundtrack of life (so far):
Disc 1

Beautiful Day – U2
We’re Going To Be Friends – Jack Johnson
When I Fall In Love – Nat King Cole
All We Are – Matt Nathanson
Winding Road – Bonnie Summerville
Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Passenger Seat – Death Cab For Cutie
Dreams – The Cranberries
Homesick – Kings of Convenience
Keep Breathing – Ingrid Michaelson
Analogue – A Ha
Angel – Sarah McLachlan
Chocolate – Snow Patrol
Smells Like Teen Spirit -- Nirvana
Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo
When You Say Nothing At All – Alison Krauss and Union Station
Book Of Days – Enya
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing – The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Gabriel’s Oboe – Ennio Morricone/Yo-Yo Ma

Disc 2

Turn, Turn, Turn – The Byrds
Little Wonders – Rob Thomas
Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve
Fix You – Coldplay
Am I Awake? – They Might Be Giants
Brand New Day – Joshua Radin
Dancing In The Moonlight – Toploader
When It Don’t Come Easy – Patty Griffin
Life Is Beautiful – Vega 4
Life Ain’t Always Beautiful – Gary Allan
California Soul – Marlena Shaw
Off I Go – Greg Laswell
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day
We Will Never Forget – Savoy
What A Wonderful World – Eva Cassidy
Appalachian Spring, Simple Gifts – Aaron Copland
Ara Batur – Sigur Ros

Monday, June 29, 2009

Almost July: another update.

* I had a bit of a laundry room fiasco last Monday night. I went to put my clothes in the dryer and found the floor to be flooded. First time that happened to me and I have no idea why especially since the washer wasn't overloaded. It took me almost a half hour to get most of the water up. Que lastima!
* As I came back from the main lodging laundry room I scared off a coyote in the parking lot. I must admit it was pretty cool to listen to it howl a couple minutes later. Maybe the back door should be kept close...
* I had dinner with Marsha, Brandy, and another girl and they continue in their efforts to acclimate my taste buds to spicy food, but it was very delicious as usual. may have to get some Jamaican spice. We watched the movie "He's Just Not That Into You" and we shared a genuine chick moment.
* Yet another tie-up in paperwork and processing as I have to wait for my AKO account, which supposedly will take a few weeks.I did get to start shadowing the PA in the clinic and so it was nice to get back into the setting.
* I went to my first dance here in El Paso (for the last 40 minutes)and was actually quite impressed with the variety. I really did not know how to dance to ranchero music so I joined a group hitting a balloon and thinking of foods that start with the letter "m." I said marijuana counts, as it is an ingredient in certain baked items. Could I be corrupting these people already?
* After the dance I went to Village Inn with a large group and enjoyed some Nutella crepes with strawberries and bananas. Good good stuff.
* I learned that at the commissary they sell individual servings of Stephen's hot chocolate. There were only three flavors, but oh what joy!!
* I moved into my apartment. I won't have my stuff until Wednesday. I kinda miss my fridge. I have little to no cell phone reception and the phone company told me that I really, really needed to upgrade. I guess it is about time.
* As I was unloading my car the missionaries stopped me as they were looking for an apartment. They asked me if I had talked to guys like them before and I said many times. When they asked me where, I told them I was Mormon. I was glad that I could offer them some water in the triple-digit heat, and they just did a tough bike ride up the hill.
* Downside of El Paso: The drivers. I know that the speed limit is 60 miles an hour and I'm used to going 72, but when people drive 50 in the middle lane, that's just plain wrong!!
* Upside to El Paso: I love, love, love summer rain storms. It allows me to turn off my air conditioning for just a bit. The thunder was loud enough to set off a couple of car alarms and I got a text saying there was a funnel cloud over Biggs Air Field (out where I work). There aren't many things more peaceful than falling asleep to the sound of rain.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Almost two weeks later...

Just an update on the last couple weeks...
* I think I've been the personnel department's worst nightmare. Lots of issues and things to fix. Being reassessed in the system, hunting down other paperwork, waiting and waiting and waiting. It took me a little over a week to finally be in the system and on Friday I finally was able to get my ID card(makes leaving and getting around base much easier) and start my in-processing (basically paperwork and getting situated at the base). I should be done tomorrow. I thought today was going to be pretty easy and I would just pick up a paper before I headed to finance. That wasn't the story. Another hassle came up and I was sent to a couple other offices and found out that I didn't have a certain necessary account which I couldn't register because of another glitch, and so the cycle of frustration continued... Iwas finally able to get needed form at the end of the day and hopefully tomorrow will be a lot easier.
* I have a really cool PA in my unit that I will be working with named Marsha, who happens to be from Jamaica. She's been a big help and the past couple weekends we went to the bowling alley on base and had a couple of dinners at her house with her roommate who also is in the Army. Last night I was really spoiled with some amazing marinated grilled chicken, potatos, and homemade salsa.
*Last night I also discovered the joy of watching the Dodgers in HD. Amazing.
* I've done some apartment searching and I think I've settled on one which is actually a town home apartment. Stairs will be good for me. It's actually the farthest one away from base but it's only about 25 minutes on a highway that crosses the mountains. I actually liked being a little closer to the mountains and I guess giving myself a little space between home and work could be a good thing.
* On Saturdays I've treated myself to some Mexican food for lunch. I went to a burrito place (it starts with a C, can't quite remember) and had some good mole with wonderful homemade tortillas. I also tried Avila's which is one of the most popular places in El Paso, and I can see why. Wonderful food! I may be developing an addiction to horchata as well.
* I have a greater appreciation for clouds. Sometimes brings the heat down just a few degrees, and I especially love it when it rains - which hasn't been often. Today it dropped thirty degrees just within 30 minutes and it was heavenly. I even turned off my car's air conditioner. Unfortunatly it didn't stay cool very long. It's still in the 90's at night, uggg....
* I found 1.5 more English stations to program onto my radio. Still have a couple more buttons to fill. One of the stations - the best I've found - is a bit fuzzy but is clearer when I'm near Biggs Airfield (where I'll be working).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The LA River

I felt a touch nostalgic the other night when I saw this. During PA school I sometimes commuted to LA on the Metrolink train (as seen in the clip). A few minutes before we pulled into Union Station, the conductor would give us our wake-up call as we crossed the "beeeeeeaauutiful LA river." A fond memory.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

First Day

It'll take me a while to catch up with the events of the past couple weeks, so I'll just focus on today. It's been an interesting first day as I reported to my unit at Fort Bliss. Here's just a run-down of some of the events:
*Locked myself out of my motel room as I ran to get something from the car while I was on the phone.
* Had lots of salutes given to me. Failed to salute an officer because I was temporarily blinded by sun and blowing dirt while leaving a building and had to be reminded of this simple military courtesy by another officer. Sunglasses are a must here.
* Found out that I was still not in the system. Third time was not a charm, as I was previously told this at Camp Pendleton and Los Alamitos. My in-processing has been put on hold for a bit. Fortunately, I was able to get all of the paper work together and everything is now being put into the system. Then I can get my ID card. It was highly recommended that I do not leave the base until I get my ID card. This could take a few days since Friday may be off.
* While my breakfast sat like a rock in my stomach, I was reeeeally thirsty all day long. I finally re hydrated myself after a trip to the commissary in the late afternoon and I stocked up on gatorade and water.
* I was set up in one of the annexes for lodging. They are some pretty old buildings, but it's decent. The downside is that I have very low cell phone reception.
* I can see Mexico! However, I am prohibited from traveling to any part of Mexico.
* My orders for tomorrow: call the captain of my unit to let him know I am still alive (this is what he said) and search through apartment guides.
* I have not been able to find enough English stations to finish programming my car radio.


I hate goodbyes. I'm really terrible at them. I try to hold back my emotions and I had been doing a pretty good job until my last couple days. I decided to replace goodbye" with "Aloha." It just sounds more cheerful that way. I know many people I will see again, but there are always those who I will not. I remember when I was on my mission I had to do it about every 6 weeks. Most of the people I met there I knew I wouldn't see again. While I was discussing with my trainer of why saying goodbye has to be so hard. She shared a quote that her uncle told her, "The only way to take the sting out of death is to take the love out of life." So, the only way to take the sting out of saying goodbye is to remove the love in a relationship. A man once said, "Grief is a by-product of love." A couple years later I was dealing with the death of my dog that I had for 13 years. It was pretty emotionally hard on me, even harder than some of the human deaths I had dealt with in life. I came to a realization of the emotional investment that people put into relationships, whether it be with family, pets, friends, crushes, co-workers, even jobs and homes. It's a kind of investment that I can never regret because it has brought more richness to my life. I don't look at time spent with the ones I care about -- whether it be a belly rub for my dog or staying up way past my bedtime to spend time with friends -- as wasted time. There are always things that we can focus our attention on, but some of those things will pass, become nothing more than a check-off an a to-do-list, or can be put off. This isn't an invitation to procrastinate, just re-evaluate your time with the people and things that make you happy and enrich your life.
**warm fuzzy**

Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's Official

On Friday I was commissioned as a First Lieutenant Officer and officially sworn in by Major Britson. I can't believe I leave for El Paso a week from tomorrow!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Not just a desert wasteland: embracing my next home

I admit that the idea of living in the desert has not excited me very much; especially since I'll be surrounded by hundreds of miles of desert in any direction. There are some wonderful things about the desert such as beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and storms. I'm currently reading the book, "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer (yes, there was a movie too, but books are always better, right?) and I came across this quote and it gave me more hope in embracing my soon-to-be environment:

"The desert is the environment of revelation, genetically and physiologically alien, sensorily austere, esthetically abstract, historically inimical... Its forms are bold and suggestive. The mind is beset by light and space, the kinesthetic novelty of aridity, hight temperature, and wind. The desert sky is encircling, magestic, terrible. In other habitats, the rim of sky above the horizontal is broken or obscured; here, together wih the overhead portion, it is infinitely vaster than that of rolling countryside and forest lands... In an unobstructed sky the clouds seem more massive, sometimes grandly reflecting the earth's curvature on their concave undersides. The angularity of desert landforms imparts a monumental architectureto the clouds as well as to the land...
To the desert go prophets and hermits; through deserts go pilgrims and exiles. Here the leaders of the great religions have soughtthe therapeutic and spiritual values of retreat, not to escape but to find reality."


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

27 Days

Yep, that's 27 days I have until I leave California. I am trying to compile a list of things to do or places to go before I leave.
So far:
1. I went to the beach twice this weekend. I loved it and it hit me how much I'll miss it. It included a couple adventures, including a lifeguard coming up to us saying he received a complaint and proceeding to lecture us on the no alcohol/no smoking rules. It was hilarious since most of us were silent for about 90 seconds. Another beach-goer approached him and said that we were the wrong group and he apologized profusely. It was pretty funny. Maybe I'll throw in one or more beach trips before I go.
2. I had In 'N Out twice last week and I'm sure it won't be my last. My body is starting to revolt against fast food, but it may have to be patient. See #6
3. I will be attending my first Dodger's game next week. It's about time.
What I still need to do:
4. Go to the Getty. Haven't been yet and it's been on my to-do list for years.
5. Enjoy LA. Maybe see a concert or something. Anyone know of any shows?
6. Have a Tommy's Burger. I've never been there and it was brought to my attention recently that I must go there before I leave.
7. Get all the greenery I can. Maybe a quick camping trip or some hiking. Plus the exercise is good and needed.
8. I still have some more dancing left to do at the Coffee Depot on Monday nights.
9. A quick trip to San Diego. I'll probably go to the AAPA conference for a day or so and enjoy the beautiful, non-arid weather.
10. Last and certainly not the least: enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Anyone have any more ideas? Does anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Life A-Quad-ic

Last week I spent another afternoon with 4 very cute babies. It's amazing how much they've grown since I first saw them a few months ago. There's a feeling that all is right with the world when you see 4 happy or sleeping babies. I debated stopping by the grocery store on the way home but figured my shirt was a bit too messy. I played "Name that stain" and my mom got it right on the second guess: sweet potatos! They are such a great family and the parents are wonderful. You can check them out on their family blog here.

El Paso I Will Go

Yesterday I came to a final decision and it wasn't an easy one. I received a much anticipated phone call, but I still felt like I was deciding at almost the last moment because I did not have a really definite answer of where I wanted to go. It was down to two choices: El Paso, TX and North Carolina. I went over my choices with Captain Jones (he's going to be the White House PA starting next month) and he confirmed that both were two great choices and he helped me make my final decision based on what would be best for me professionally. Not that I wouldn't mind jumping out of airplanes (part of the airborne certification that I would have to go through at North Carolina) or the fact that North Carolina was a lot greener and not bone-dry like Texas. If I felt like I wanted to spend the rest of my career in family medicine, North Carolina would hands down be my first choice. It is the Army's medical center of excellence for family medicine and many doctors do their family residency training there. I figured I would have more exposure to emergency medicine and trauma at Fort Bliss, and since their major trauma center serves up to 25% of civilian emergencies, I may even get to keep up my Spanish a little.
When I hung up the phone one of my first thoughts was, "the desert...the brownness...the heat...why??" A funny thing was the fact that I was giving the family home evening lesson that night and it was on decisions. It was almost a sort of "decision-decompression-therapy" for me. I was reminded how all decisions, when made with good intentions, thinking and prayer, can be used to benefit our welfare and learning. There are also times when the answers to the decisions that we make are not so clear. Brigham Young said the following: "If I ask Him (God) to give me wisdom concerning any requirements in life, or in regard to my own course...and get no answer from Him, and then do the very best that my judgement will teach me, He is is bound to own and honor that transaction, and He will do so to all intents and purposes." And so it is with me. It will be interesting to see what experiences I will have there. I will be reporting to El Paso June 10 to start my processing and orientation and will start Officer Basic Course in San Antonio in July. I'm excited -- desert and all -- bring it on!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Great Advice on Life and Spirituality

This was great and I wanted to share it. It is by Elder F. Enzio Busche of the Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while speaking at a BYU devotional on May 14, 1996.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Twilight" Impressions

I realized that my last couple of posts were a bit somber and I hope maybe this one will help lighten up the mood.
Last weekend I was invited to watch "Twilight" at a friend's house. I had never seen it, nor read the book, but I figured I should catch up with the pop culture of 2009 and see what all of the hullabaloo was about. It was what I expected. No surprises. I knew that since this was going to be a part of a series, most of the movie would lack plot and focus more on the introduction of characters. This led my mind to be distracted by little details like these:
* Edward Cullen (the vampire), for as much attention as he seems to be getting, seems like nothing more than an obsessive, creepy, albino. Not that I have anything against albinos, I just think they went overboard with the "pale" look.
* I can't understand why Bella (the girl) seems like she always has her mouth open. Why?
* "It's anaphase...take a look for yourself" one of my favorite lines. I am a nerd. Maybe because it seemed like one of the most intelligent lines of the movie. The planarians brought back some memories of invertebrate zoology. Awww, flatworms...
* I also can't understand why Bella has such a problem with speaking/narrating in compound sentences. What's up with the pauses?
* The nasal cannula has always been a standard prop for any hospital scene. Why couldn't they put it on right? It always looked like it was going to poke her in the eye or something.
* I do give props for the Pacific Northwest scenery, it was quite beautiful and a little eerie at the same time, but a good setting for a vampire movie.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bedford Falls or Pottersville?

"Vice is a monster of such frightful mein,
As to be hated, needs to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace."
~Alexander Pope "Essay on Man"

In my last post I briefly commented on the apathy of people towards their own healthcare and now I want to brush on a continually growing moral apathy of America.
Yesterday I was thinking about my favorite movie of all time (yes, I know I've posted about it before - It's A Wonderful Life), and this time I was looking at it from a social perspective and found some eerie parallels. I recommend watching it again, even though Christmas is still 8 months away. You'll see where I'm coming from. Look at the background: Economic crisis (a bank run during the Great Depression), greed, power, and an effort to take over businesses (Potter takes over bank and wants to take over the Savings and Loan), and the transformation of Bedford Falls into Pottersville, where the Emporium, Movie House, and other buildings become sleezy motels and exotic dance clubs. Citizens are unhappy everywhere.

Right now I'm finding a couple of recent topics a bit disturbing that makes me wonder if our country is going the way of Pottersville. Some may consider me a "prude" or an old "fuddy-duddy" twenty-something. Maybe I am.
The first has to do with the legalization of "sexting." This is a new term that describes people taking nude or other inappropiate pictures of themselves or others on camera phones and then sending or texting these pictures to their peers. Some people estimate that 20-25% of teenagers have engaged in this - either sending or receiving. When minors are involved, this is considered technically as child pornography, which in many states carries stiff penalties such as prison terms and being labeled as a "sex offender." Many promoters of the legalization of sexting argue that children should not be subject to such stiff penalties and that it's just another form of lame adolescent behavior such as mooning or flashing. Many do warn that, yes, these pictures of them will be out in cyberspace forever and can impact them years from now, but they don't stress any form of strong punishment other than conversation and taking away their cell phone. To me, child porn is child porn, and teenagers need to realize this and some sort of legal prosecution should be in order.

My next worry is the legalization of marijuana. Some proponents stress that marijuana crimes are not serious and plug up the justice system's courtrooms, lawyers, and jails. Others think of legalization as a solution to easing the tensions and violence between drug cartels, smugglers, border patrol units, and other law enforcement. One California representative offered the suggestion that California would prosper economically off of the legalization and taxation of marijuana growers. Hmmmm.... Marijuana is practically harmless, right?
According to my Current Pediatric Diagnosis and Treatment, low intoxication levels can lead to impaired thinking - sure, we could use more of that. Would you really like to see the driver next to you on the freeway smoking a joint? Chronic use can also lead to infertility (could be touted as an alternative form of birth control!) as well as apathy (after substitute teaching high school, I really fear an increase in this) and amotivational syndrome. Amotivational syndrome is characterized as "decreased attention to environmental stimuli and impaired goal-directed thinking and behavior" which is due to "destruction of hippocampal and basal ganglia nuclei." I think that anything that causes destruction of any part of my body would be cause for concern. Doesn't it seem that all that money spent of childhood Ritalin is going to waste? Not to mention the studies of marijuana as a "gateway drug" and the effects of toxic intoxication (i.e. psychosis...). Other studies have shown that the marijuana stashed under your teenager's bed is not the same kind their dad smoked at Woodstock. One analysis in the late 1990's proved a 3-5 fold increase in the concentration of THC since 1970's and 1980s. Not to mention the possibility of "hybrid" drugs (smuggling hard drugs like cocaine and meth with marijuana).
I fear that we're only a few months to a few years off from public service announcements urging us to "smoke responsibly." Sigh...

2 questions I have are these: Are we teaching the future leaders of this country that when confronted with problems and social issues, we throw our up hands, shrug our shoulders, turn our heads, surrender, and let them infiltrate our society? Do we just legalize all vices just to make "life easier," "save money," and not "tie up our justice system"?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Let Real Healthcare Reform Begin With Me

I came across this article this week and it serves a good reminder about the need of personal responsibility in healthcare. I was talking with a friend the other day who comes from a country that has a socialized health care system and he commented how people there seem to have a more apathetic attitude about taking care of their health (many smokers, etc...) because their health care is already being paid for. When a person views how much of their tax dollars are going into the medical system, who is to blame them for feeling entitled to any medicine or treatment they need? Unfortunately, when one keeps their poor lifestyle habits and opt for a tax-paid "pill" to handle/"cure" their diabetes, they don't see the long list of potential complications (dementia, amputation, death- as seen recently in the case of Larry Miller) that will impact their quality of life, not to mention the quality of life of their family members. These complications cannot be cured with money, whether from tax payers or from one's own pocket.

Hopefully this article will get some one's attention...

Let real healthcare reform begin with me - Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Roadtrip Recap

These are just some random thoughts/experiences from last week.
* I went to my mission reunion since I had not been to one in about four years. Usually when one goes to a reunion, they "reunite" with someone. I actually didn't know anyone else there. My mission president had to go out of town and here only a handful of people who served around the same time I did. I still had a really good time.
* On Sunday I met up with some friends who came up from California to go to general conference (a large meeting where leaders of the LDS church speak to people around the world twice a year). It was great and the messages were very uplifting. Between sessions we had a little "tailgate" party. I suggested doing some face paint with the mustard or mayo, but that idea didn't quite catch on.
* I love how the food is cheaper in Utah, I miss that!
*It's a good thing to occasionally listen to the radio in a different state. There were quite a few songs that I have not heard yet, and some that I have not heard in years.
* I was at a gas station and I noticed the car behind me had some dogs who were happy to stretch their legs. "Are those Norwegian Elkhounds?" I asked. "Yes, they are!" She replied. I told her they were beautiful. She said, "I'm surprised you even knew what kind they were!" I am a nerd.
* At my usual Fillmore, UT rest stop I took a moment to help the worker find a few more edge pieces of the puzzle she was working on. My efforts proved futile.
*I had a lovely lunch with one of my mission companions at Hires in Salt Lake, I had not seen her for years and it was great to see her. Hires has delicious hamburgers and fry sauce (it's a Utah thing) too.
*Speaking of food, I went up to Logan to stop by Gossner's Cheese factory to pick up some squeaky cheese (regular and fresh smoked cheddar cheese curds) and some ice cream - even though it was cold and rainy out. Slightly disappointed that the Huckleberry cheesecake was too frozen too serve up (I don't come across huckleberry anything much in Cali) but the Oatmeal cookie was still delicious. I also stocked up on a few canisters of flavored hot chocolate mix.

* I had a wonderful time in Idaho at a friend's wedding. It was almost like a family reunion because I grew close to her and her family while we were roommates. The weather was beautiful! I had a moment to enjoy the sunshine and take a little walk near the falls.
*I did get to spend a little time with my brother. I don't really see him that often since we've lived in different states for quite a number of years. I was amazed that he woke up before 7 A.M on his day off to treat me to breakfast before I headed back to California.
*My camping and hiking plans were rained/snowed out. My original plan was to spend a couple days in Yellowstone while I was up in Idaho, but they were expecting snow storms (and only one road open) for the rest of the week. Plan B was to go to Zion's National Park on the way home, but there were some expected thunderstorms that night and rain the next day - which would make for some very slippery sandstone at Angel's Landing and possible flash floods in the Narrows. Plus it was a holiday weekend. Dang. Plan C was to go on a short 2 mile hike around Cedar Break National Monument. After I traveled the 20 minutes through the canyons I got to the road about 7 miles from the trailhead and it was closed due to about 4 feet of snow. I wish I had some snowshoes... Oh well... I did get to see this lovely view and you may be able to see Zion's National Park in the distance on the left.
*On my way up to Utah I was disappointed to see that the world's tallest thermometer in Baker, CA was not turned on. Was this the end of a landmark that I always looked forward to since my childhood? I was relieved to see it turned back on and boasting a nice 71 degrees on my way home. I figured maybe they forgot to turn it back on after Earth Hour.
*One confession: I smuggled 3 Sunkist tangelos into California. I really did forget about them. It's not very often that I'm stopped at the checkpoint. The officer asked me if I had any fresh fruit. I said no. He looked at me, and said, "Where's that beautiful smile?" I gave him a cheesy grin and he let me through. Phew...
* I drove through/enjoyed a thunder and lightning storm from Baker to Barstow. There's something really beautiful and captivating about a desert storm.

That concludes my latest adventure. I got home safe and sound with no speeding tickets. I love cruise control. I'm definitly sure this won't be last road trip this year.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

Last week I had the opportunity to listen to Elder Holland give this beautiful and powerful message about Christ and the Atonement. I highly recommend reading it in its entirety here. Here is a clip:

I am grateful for Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. I cannot comprehend all of it, but I know that he did it for each of us. He loves us despite our weaknesses and that without Him we will always fall short of our potential. I know that He can heal our hearts. He lives today. What a wonderful opportunity we have as a world to celebrate this. I would like to end this post with a beautiful scene about the Ressurrection.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Road Trip Snacks

Last week I drove from California to Utah in 11 hours. This was pretty good, since I had some crazy rain, drove an acceptable "legal" speed (those cops in Nevada and Southern UT are always on the prowl), and hit some traffic in Vegas. Plus I had an unhappy cat in my backseat to motivate me to get to my destination as soon as I can. This did not leave much time to stop for food and I had resorted to my granola bars that I brought along with me and some brief browsing of the shelves at gas stations. This brings me to my first snack and a mini-review:

Welch's Strawberry Fruit n' Yogurt Snacks: Initial impression: yogurt covered fruit snacks. I had been on a yogurt raisin kick the week before, so it beckoned to me, and I thought, why not?
Pros:It was actually healthier than what I expected. Low fat, 100% Vitamin C and 25% Vit. A and D with a small amount of calcium, iron, and protein too. The taste was okay (brother commented that "it's alright"). It was actually made from fruit puree (first ingredient) rather than the artificial gumminess that I was expecting. The grape was a little overpowering to the strawberry flavor. Bag fits conveniently in arm rest/cup holder for mindless snacking. When combined with a granola bar and a Vitamin Water, held me over quite well for a few hours.
Cons: Some people may not like the grittiness from the fruit puree. The white appearance of the yogurt on the front is deceptive, it's actually a light brown. I wouldn't recommend eating the whole bag in one sitting (I did not attempt this). This could lead to some digestive issues.

A couple other foods that I discovered that were actually quite good: Sobe's Orange Creme drink and Chex Mix Turtle bar. Good, good stuff. Maybe I'll discover something new when I drive back to Cali later this week.

So, what's your favorite road trip snack?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's Something Unpredictable, But In The End It's Right.

I've made a decision. It hasn't been the easiest decision, and it took quite a bit of time and struggling to reach it. Now that I have decided to become more public with it, I haven't quite found the easiest way of sharing the news. I have told some friends individually, but I'm a little hesitant on blasting it on my Facebook status. It is easiest when I simply tell people straightforward. I come across the response of "Why?" quite often and it's hard to express all of my reasons.
How did I come about to this decision? It was an answer to prayers, fasting, hours spent in the temple, studying, weighing options, realizing that I wasn't where I want to be and I wasn't going where I wanted to be going. A result of frustrations over job opportunities, employers, physicians, and the hardships and utilization of physician assistant colleagues. There's been some tears, especially knowing that there was a strong possibilty of leaving family and friends. I had also been praying that my eyes could look at my situation in a new perspective.
Then there was the awakening of an idea that has laid dormant in my mind for years, aroused over a simple question from a friend during a lunchtime study session at B&N: "I know you talked about it before, but have you considered the military?"
My eyes began to open and I decided that this was the new pespective I had been searching for. I asked queations, I read, looked at the differences between the Army and Air Force -- decided on the Army for a few reasons, and prayed.
Last week I took another step. I went to San Antonio, Texas to get some questions answered, get a physical and a vision waiver (I wasn't sure if my vision would disqualify me, that's one of the reasons I've been quiet about my decision), and most importantly, get a confirmation that I was doing the right thing. And I got it. In the words of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "I'm motivated by the lack of doubt." I really don't have any doubt and for the first time in 5 months I feel confident in what I am doing. There are other reasons and feelings for why I'm going into the military, but they are a bit more personal and harder to express.

For those who have some questions (and I'll be happy to answer any more)
1. How long do I have to do it? It's a three year commitment. If I decide to do any kind of advanced training or pursue a doctorate, they require more service in return of at least another 3 years. I'm not sure if I'll go beyond the three years, it depends on what happens in the next three years (ie. family, etc...)
2. Could I be deployed? Yes, and I am willing to do it if I need to. I won't be involved in combat due to my gender, and most of it will be spent in a heavily secured hospital. The PAs that I spoke with that have been deployed said that it is more of an issue of inconvenience of being away from family that was a concern for them, rather than the issue of safety.
3. What will I be doing? Most of the time it will primary care for soldiers and their families for the first three years. I'm looking to be stationed at a large military hospital so that I can get some good experience. There's also some training of combat medics that I will be involved with as well. It averages about 45 hours of work a week, so there is hope for a life outside of the military. Deployment usually has longer hours and work 6 days out of the week, still lots of primary care as well as trauma care experience.
4. Do I have to go to boot camp? I will be going in as an officer, which is a bit of a different world than the enlisted soldier. I will spend 9 weeks in San Antonio going through the Officer Basic Course and I will learn some of the basic things about how to be an officer, some physical training (but not as intense as boot camp, and there really isn't any yelling at officers - they do keep it at a very professional level), and more training related to the medical field like combat trauma, etc... This will most likely start in June and when I am done I have about 2-3 weeks to get ready and move to my first post -- which I should find out in April, feel free to do the poll on the side.

So that's a bit of an update. These next couple of months will be interesting to say the least. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Public Service Announcement for Socially-Inept Men

Last week at a social activity I noticed that one of my friends, who is still a bit of a novice to the single social scene, seemed a bit uncomfortable around a guy that she had just met. I swooped in and removed her from the awkward situation. I've had my times of similar situations when I needed rescuing too, even from "Superman" (a guy once introduced himself as Superman). She was a bit weirded out by the guy who seemed a bit forward and "touchy." I had to reassure her while she had just met a couple of weird guys, there are plenty of decent ones too, and she just happened to come across a couple "outliers." Those are the kinds of guys that stand out the most. I have met quite a few of them myself, and would like to take a moment to turn this post into a type of Public Service Announcement for guys who might be one of those left side outliers on the socially appropriate scale. This advice is based on personal experiences. Feel free to include your own ( for guys and gals).

1. Never grab a woman's waist unless you are and she's comfortable with it or 2. you are dancing to actual music (imagined music or humming doesn't count) and only after you have asked her to dance.

2. If you invite her over for some home-cooked food to show off some mad cooking skills, make sure the food is decent. Gravy should not have the appearance nor the consistency of wet cement. I'd rather settle for a bowl of cereal. Cooking skills are definitly a plus, but I'm actually quite content with just a PB&J that is made with love.

3. Weapons do not have their place in most social conversation, especially when you have known the other person for only 5 minutes. Do not mention the machete and rope you keep in the back of the car. That is just creepy.

4. Beware of a flat affect. This can also come across as creepy. Show some facial expresion. Smile. Use a little voice inflection.

5. Do not claim that you have "special healing powers" or that you have "The Prophet" as a nickname.

6. Never underestimate the value of smelling good, or just even the absence of B.O.

7. Don't stare. Open mouth staring is even worse. Even if you don't think she notices, one of her girlfriends will and she will mention it to her.

8. Do not use Facebook applications to express your feelings about your crush or ask her out (not an actual experience, but I still find it really lame.)

9. On the first date, use discretion if you want to mention that you like to play "Dungeons and Dragons".