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?