Monday, September 21, 2009

Like Herding Cats

Yesterday was the annual Primary Program- where the kids in our church present for the entire congregation what they've been learning this year. The theme this year was "My Eternal Families" so the year was spent teaching the things we can do to build better, stronger, happier families. The program was a culmination of many people's efforts. With all the planning that went into it, you would have expected it to go better. The problem is I did not adequately account for the reality of dealing with a dozen small children.

I say that working in primary is like trying to herd cats. No matter how enthusiastic about your project, no matter how hard you try to lead them all in the same direction, they're each too busy doing their own thing, heading in their own direction to follow you. The kids each took turns at the microphone telling their parents what they have learned. We gave the kids their lines a month ago to practice at home. Then we gave the lines to them again, for three consecutive weeks and practiced them in church for a few weeks. Yet, somehow, what each child was supposed to say was an absolute surprise to them. It was like they had wandered in to some foreign experience they were completely unprepared for.

The highlight of the event was easily Miss E, an adorable 4-year-old who had her part memorized, but then decided to ad-lib, announcing "I'm not done yet," and then talked some more about her dad. She later sang directly into the microphone, curtsied, and charmed the audience in general.

I learned a lot about organizing this event by doing it, but I won't be the one doing it next year (because we're moving in the spring). So, whoever gets this job next time around, call me for a few pointers.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Many Surgeons are Jerks

I'm sure you've heard the stereotype that all surgeons are narcissistic jerks. It's not entirely true, but like many stereotypes, it does have some basis in reality. People used to ask Nick what specialty he was interested in. When he told them surgery, their immediate reply would be "But you're far too nice to be a surgeon." I'm happy to report that Nick has maintained his niceness as he continues to prepare for a surgical career.

Nick is doing his Sub-Internship rotation right now in the Burn Trauma ICU. Before he even started it, he heard that one of the attendings was a jerk of the highest order. When he started his rotation, he was pleasantly surprised to find this physician on vacation, but Nick continued to hear from his colleagues that this guy was impossible to please, made ridiculous demands, and personally attacked people in front of their peers.

The doctor came back from vacation, and Nick thought he was just a typical, demanding doctor who did not live up to his reputation of awfulness. But then Nick heard the other doctors talking about how amazed they were with the transformation that had come over the jerk doctor. They were astonished at his new-found civility and his thoughtfulness in teaching the residents.

So, the question is, why the sudden change? Apparently while the doc was on vacation, his long-time girlfriend dumped him. As she left, she cruelly spelled-out for him what kind of man he was and perhaps how he would die alone, friendless (that last line is pure speculation on my part, but I think it would make for a more dramatic scene.)

This broken-hearted good behaviour probably won't last long, so Nick's rotation is well-timed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

By Popular Demand

Kate demanded I post a new picture today. This is Henry sitting up with the Boppy around him. He still falls over. Then he cries because he fell over. It's all part of the process.
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Beautiful Ceramics at Local Art Fair

Fellow med-school-wife Rachel Akin is displaying and selling her beautiful ceramics works tonight, Saturday, and Sunday at the "Art Outside 2009" art festival. Rachel is in booth #32. The festival is at Schlafly Bottleworks, 7260 Southwest Ave, Maplewood MO. There was a lot of fun stuff happening, including food and live music. Henry loved it.

Rachel's work is gorgeous. The top picture is of a two-toned bowl that you could see everyone look at as they walked by. A few months ago Rachel showed the med-wives how this is done, and it is not easy. Having tried (and basically failed) it once makes me even more impressed at her skill.

We've been out of paper clips for a while. I finally remembered to get some today, and I even bought one of Rachel's little bowls to keep them in on the desk. I hope that it's OK to use a work of art as an organizational device.
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Postal Fail

What's the point in the Civil Service Exam system if it doesn't weed out people who can't read? I'm assuming they can't read anyway, because this is not the first clearly-labeled photograph to be bent to fit into our mailbox. He could have simply left it standing up in our mailbox (we have the kind that's mounted to the front wall of the house that opens on the top.) Sure, some of it would have stuck out, but it wouldn't have been bent.

Instead the mail carrier chose to make a "junk mail taco" using the photo as a shell to protect the weekly delivery of grocery store adds. Also, how did the envelope get that gaping tear on the top left corner?

Just before New Years, Nick's Australian aunt, Lisa, mailed us a beautiful calendar featuring Australian landscapes. In its sturdy photo mailer, it safely made the 15,000 mile odyssey from the Land Down Under to our front door; at which point it was bent in half in order to fit through the mail slot in our old apartment. Nice. The envelope it was in was so strong, you would need to break it over your knee to get it to fold in half; clearly the sender had intended for the calendar to arrive flat. It doesn't fit in the slot, yet, somehow the mail must be delivered.

This is another picture of crumpled mail, sent to us from Jo Ellen in June. Perhaps if she wrote "Do Not Crumple" instead of do not fold, she'd have better luck.

St. Louis Camera Club: My First Meeting

I went to my first Camera Club meeting last night. The St. Louis Camera Club is one of the oldest photography clubs anywhere, founded in 1914. I think there might be some original member still there- I was one of about 3 people under 60. They may be old, but they are incredible photographers. There's a competition each week. Last night's was Nature, which has very strict rules. I don't think the above picture would qualify because you can't use a picture of a domesticated or hybrid plant, which I think this Camellia must be. But how could I have a blog entry about photography without having at least one picture?

The first part of the club meeting is a lecture (last night focused on nature photography and its rules). Then they show all the photos submitted for that week's contest, with the judge commenting on each photo. The winning photos are then ranked. The process was very interesting to watch. The photographs were incredible. There were only a couple pictures where I thought "Well, I could take something like that," and they weren't in the running for anything. I do want to participate in the weekly contests, but it will hurt to hear the judge say "Pass," meaning your photo is cut from contention.

I do think a lot of the submitted pictures were taken at the Botanical Gardens. There were several pictures of lotus with dragonflies, and I think the Japanese Garden is the only place to find them. It seems in order to win you had to travel much farther. Check out these incredible photographs.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Prisoner of Love

Inmate #24601

This outfit is really just one piece, but now that I actually see it on him, I think it looks like a prison jumpsuit. It's as if you married the black and white stripes of yore with today's modern orange flair. This baby's got a life sentence.

Nick starts his burn ICU clerkship in the morning. Brigham did this one last month, so we know going in how time intensive it will be. I'm not really looking forward to how much he'll be gone, but at least he'll be in the same state.

This last week, Nick turned in his residency application. So we're one huge step closer to "match day" in March, where we'll discover our destiny for the next five to eight years. I'm praying that he'll get lots of invitations for interviews. One thing I found out by reading his resume was a paper he wrote this Spring was accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. He forgot to mention it to me.

Part of the residency application is submitting a photo of yourself. I was planning an elaborate on-site photo shoot, contemplating which outfit he should wear, and worrying about it in general as I so often do. Nick read the guidelines, decided his passport-photo fit the criteria, scanned it in and was done.

Speaking of prisoners, I heard of a property crime in the St. Louis area where an arrest was actually made! A brand new med student family from rural Utah moved into the "Mormon ghetto" in Kirkwood. (The "Mormon Ghetto" is the nickname for a development where a lot of Mormon med students and residents live. It's actually quite nice and has a great location.) Their first week there, while they were sleeping, someone broke into their townhouse, stole their stuff (including their car keys) and drove away in their car. They didn't recover their personal property, but did get the car back (a real rarity) after the criminals abandoned it rather than fixing the tire they blew out. It's a real blessing they got it back, but it's terrible to pay the tow/impound fee and for a new tire when you left it safely parked in front of your house. An arrest was made, but I believe an accomplice is still at large. The burglar had just been released from jail after just 9 days of a 40 day sentence.

Welcome to St. Louis!
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Rubber Duckie Bath

Henry loves playing in water, and the duck bath tub gives him more freedom in the water than ever before. And, since we have to add bleach to his bathwater, he feels like he's in a real pool. He even pees in the bathwater sometimes to make it a true public pool experience.

Baby Sitting Up, Fighting Sleep

Nick recorded this after the baby had literally fallen asleep, sitting up once already.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Easily Amused

He played with this unopened can for a long time on our flight home.
His other favorite "toy" was an unopened bag of peanuts.