Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Because music means more than song...

I should be studying but was suddenly overcome by the need to make this playlist and share it with you. Consider it an ode to the end of summer and a testament to the restoring powers of the wilderness. This music sounds best on a patio or, better yet, on the dock up at the cottage.

PS: Did you know that Sarah Harmer wrote a song (with downloadable lyrics and guitar tabs) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada? (Many thanks to Scarlett for pointing this out to me!) Also, did you know that Parks Canada was the first national park service in the world? How cool is that?! Check out Harmer's song here. I look forward to singing it with you around a campfire soon!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weekly Update: On Time at Last!

  • Getting the Squeeze out of Life*
*this column has been renamed on account of the fact that I generally talk about non-school things as often I as I talk about school-related things here (it's probably a good thing, too!)
    • On Thurs, I switched rotations from radiology to anatomy. While anatomy takes place in the basement and has no windows (seriously, I've bought out the Vit D stock at the local pharmacy in the last 2 months) at least there is full powered fluorescent lighting! 
    • Anatomy is going to be a great rotation. They basically gave us a cadaver, pointed us towards the library resources, and said, we'll see you in a month for your exam!
    • Now, this may come as a surprise to some of you, but most medical schools have abandoned any formalized anatomy teaching in their curriculum. Shocked? You should be. Frankly, in the old days, we used to spend hours and hours and hours in the anatomy lab going over gross dissections - because anatomy was all we knew. It was pure form and function. These days, however, we need to learn about the great diversity of tumor biomarkers and G-protein signalling systems and tons of other microscopic biochemical-type stuff that is what modern medicine (aka pharmacology) is based on. Since there are only 27 hours in the day (according to my work schedule), cuts had to take place. And the first thing they cut was anatomy.
    • Now, if I had gone into another specialty, this may not be a huge deal. After all, I did read about anatomy in med school and I even volunteered to go see an autopsy. But there's just no way to avoid the old-school methods of anatomy training when you're in surgery (and for this, I'm quite glad). Being able to stick your hand into someone's chest and say, "yes, I feel the pleura there... and if I move my hand down and to the left, there is the diaphragmatic crus that becomes the ligament of treitz as it wraps around the duodenum" is kinda indispensible.
    • In non-school life, things are going fairly well. I had my first bout of home-sickness the other day when it was my Dad's birthday. Even though Mom and Dad weren't home at the time (they were out West helping my Opa move), all I could think about were those happy summers of my childhood where we'd celebrate the summer birthdays up at the cottage - soggy from the lake, with pine gum on the soles of our barefeet, crowding around the old dining room table to chortle the birthday song as Mom produced a cake that was more fire hazard than dessert.
    • Even when I was in the Tropical Tundra, I could still drive to the cottage on a weekend if needed. It might have taken 12 hours, but at least I always knew that if my heart was sore and my ego was low, I could just get in my car and go to the one place in the world that has always soothed and restored my spirit. Now, living here, I've never felt more cut off. Granted, the trip to the cottage would now be shorter: it's only a 2 hr flight home rather than a 6 hr drive. But going to the airport certainly makes it more complicated and requires advanced planning (not to mention, money).
    • All that said, though, whenever I feel homesick, I try to remind myself how very blessed and I am to be here on this adventure. And blessed, I am, indeed. So it's hard to feel down for very long with the opportunity to do great and amazing things every day - and at least I get vacation in a month, so it won't be long before I can travel back to the land that is my home and sit under towering pines and watch the seagulls play in the breeze.

  • Recipe I've Been Drooling Over
    • This recipe needs no picture. I made a strawberry rhubarb crisp to celebrate the last strawberry / rhubarb harvest of summer and it is delightful. Many thanks to Lemonriffic for her outstanding crisp recipe. :)

  • Favourite Thing on Etsy this Week
    • Shopsaplingpress has a great series of cards right now that is simply priceless... here's one of my favourites:

we go together like old guys and park benches. letterpress card

  • What I'm Reading Right Now
    • Still haven't hit on a new reading book yet, instead I've immersed myself in textbooks on anatomy. Suggestions are welcome! What have you read recently?
  • TED Talk I Watched This Week
    • I didn't watch any TED talks this week because I have recently become addicted to the CBC's Debaters. Here is an excellent episode that we heard in the car while we huddled wetly around the radio during a rainstorm last weekend that forced us off the cliffs and out of our climbing gear:
  • Song of the Week
    • I recently re-discovered City and Color the other day... here is one of my favourites, The Northern Wind:

  • Thing I'm Most Grateful for This Week
    • The bunnies have wormed their way to the top of the list this week: they have been uncharacteristically snugly, which has done much to soothe my home-sickness. Not to mention making me feel just slightly victorious in my 3 year battle to soften their wild spirits and turn them into loving pets rather than 7 lbs furry termites of unlimited destruction.

  • Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to This Week
    • Penguin is in the process of trying to arrange a work contract that will let us spend more time together in the same city. We find out a verdict on the next step sometime later this week, so please keep your fingers/toes/eyes crossed for us. xoxoxo

  • Bunny Photo of the Week
    • Friends of ours have recently undertaken a move to the East Coast and their farewell party was this past Fri night. They had a rug that they weren't bringing with them and it turned out to be exactly the right size and colour for my living room! Now, for those of you who've never tried to buy an area rug, let me tell you - don't. It's a painful, expensive process that includes being shunned by store clerks and looking through lousy merchandise that doesn't come anywhere close to the look you're going for. But, in the name of tractionless-bunnies-on-hardwood-floors, carpeting for my apartment has now been acquired at a price that simply can't be beat: free! Many thanks to such wonderful, generous friends. We'll miss you greatly.

    "We love carpet!" - the bunnies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

if it never rained, you wouldn't appreciate the sun

Winnipeg is one of the sunniest cities in Canada. In fact, this summer has been one of the city's best in decades - however, the lack of rain has made for a significant drought and some pretty severe backcountry restrictions. Did you know that Manitoba doesn't just put up a fire ban for backcountry campers - they actually CLOSE the backcountry entirely! I can see the logic but it doesn't mean that I have to like it.

Anyway, the long reign of sunny days ended dramatically the other night when my first prairie thunderstorm rolled through. It was certainly worth the wait. My street flooded in moments. The thunder never stopped rumbling. And I wasn't the only one to be impressed, Carpe took video from her own balcony as I was dodging raindrops on my street trying to get photos, too! (video coming soon)

Flooded Street

Flooded Street + School Yard

Ok, so I had some trouble getting Carpe's video off FB but I guess we weren't the only ones filming because a quick YouTube search found dozens of other storm fans out on their balconies enjoying the weather. Here's one such vid that does a good job showing off the best of the storm:

some people never go crazy. what truly horrible lives they must live.

  • Current Scholastic Pursuits
    • Ahem, my apologies for another late update. Turns out that my new motivation to be the ultimate weekend warrior is making it hard to get around to blogging on Sundays. That said, it's all about balance - so hopefully I'll find the middle road between rockin' the weekend and getting on the computer to update you folks on my adventures.
    • I've spent the last month doing a radiology rotation. It was really good - I now have a solid approach for reading CTs and MRIs (which will come in handy when I'm on call at 4am in the future!). And even though I don't pick up on all the findings, I've had a pretty good track record lately of finding the important stuff. So yay me! The rads were, on the whole, really lovely people. They are fun, they like to crack jokes, and they wear jeans to work. They are also probably responsible for 95% of the carrot consumption of Manitoba (my rabbits Hoyle and Jazz making up the other 5%) - these radiologists like to do it in the dark! Like, pitch dark!
    • Maybe their mothers never heckled them about watching TV with the lights off or maybe they have congenital melatonin pathways that are independent of the influence of light... but whatever it may be, I can say with certainty that I am not immune! I need to photosynthesize!!! A month is radiology was like a month spent at the north pole in winter: perma-darkness. And you know what happens in perma-darkenss? Saroja hibernates.
    • There were days when I literally had to hold my eyelids open to stay awake. No amount of strongly brewed tea or early morning protein breaks were enough to keep me from head bobbing during handover. Eventually, I learned to stuff my chair to the back of the room, behind the rads peripheral vision and do my best not to drool all over myself as they flipped through scan after scan at lightening speed.
    • Then, one day, I had an epiphany: turn on the lights! Obviously, this could not be done suddenly because the rads would simply turn them all off again. So each day, I snuck in 5 minutes early and turned up the dimmer switch by one tiny degree... just barely enough to notice without tipping off the staff. And, after a period of 2 weeks, I'd finally brightened the room to an inhabitable state of pre-dawn light. What pleasure those fluorescent photons gave me as they kissed by heavy eyelids! Glory, indeed.
    • The interminable darkness of radiology was broken up by weekends of unmitigable fun. This past weekend, I went to a cliff known as Gooseneck in Ontario to go climbing with the Alpine Club. By the way, did you know that the founding location for the Alpine Club of Canada was right here in Winnipeg - aka land-of-the-unending-flatness? Bizarre but true. When I first moved here, I thought my days of climbing were over. But, as true luck would have it, there are some very impressive cliffs to climb with an highly enthusiastic crowd of fellow climbers willing to make the trek over the provincial border. All in all, I was very impressed with both the opportunity and the company. Hooray for the outdoors!!!
Prairie Sunset - driving home from climbing on Sunday night


  • Favourite Thing on Etsy this Week
    • I found these beautiful prints on Etsy - they would be perfect for the bedroom, which is looking pretty stark since all the other art has been hung everywhere but there. I really hope this vendor makes a fish print, too, since it would round out the series perfectly. At only $15 dollars each, it took all my willpower not to snap them up in greedy delight.

A Sloth of Bears - Photographic Print

A herd of Swans - Photographic Print

A Colony of Rabbits - Photographic Print
  • What I'm Reading Right Now
    • Bedtime reading has been a little out of control recently. I've read no less than 4 books in the last month that are completely unrelated to my surgical education. This probably makes me a bad student (albeit a better person). Currently, I have not yet selected my next read, so I'm open to suggestions!

  • TED Talk I Watched This Week
    • This one is for you, Penguin: Dyan deNapoli on The Great Penguin Rescue.
  • Song of the Week
    • Check out this awesome song that Scarlett sent me. Absolutely breathtaking.

  • Thing I'm Most Grateful for This Week
    •  Being done radiology and going back onto a rotation where I'll get to see sunlight!
    • Also, meeting a fantastic bunch of outdoors-orientated people who are eager to trip!

  • Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to This Week
    • Another great weekend, filled with friends, going outside, and other adventures.
  • Bunny Photo of the Week
    • It poured on our first day at the cliffs for climbing, so we had to set up our tents in the rain and, eventually, pack them up in the rain as well. As always, I diligently set up my tent in my apartment after the trip to air it out. The bunnies came to investigate - from the looks of it, they would make excellent camping guests. They were really quite well behaved inside the tent!

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Being in the Saddle Makes it Hard to Blog

    Hi Folks,

    This weekend was really great! Penguin came out to visit and we managed to get out of the city for nearly the entire weekend. First, we went up to Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park on Saturday to do some hiking. Then, we went to Whiteshell Provincial Park today to go horseback riding and swim at the Falcon Lake beach. It was an amazing weekend. Unfortunately, it was low on sleep, studying, and - most importantly for you - blogging.

    Tonight, as the clock creeps its was past bedtime and the necessary tasks of lunch making, presentation research, and TED watching aren't yet complete, I'm afraid that I'm going to blame being carried away by wild horses (literally) and delay my usual Sunday update in favor of getting some sleep.

    I'll update things as soon as I can- there are some really good storied I have to share with you! In the meantime, thanks for being patient. :)

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Back in the Saddle and Back on the Blog!

    • Current Scholastic Pursuits
      • Sorry for being MIA since the move, everyone! As I'm sure you can imagine, it was a crazy time. Made worse by the fact that the moving company did their very best to royally screw me over. They delivered my belongings a month late - not a few days, not a week, but a month late. And the process of getting it delivered was simply hellish: they wouldn't return phone calls, couldn't offer a delivery date, and basically refused to admit any wrong-doing or inadequacy on their part. For a month, I slept on the floor with an air-mattress that leaked slowly and a rolled up sweater for my pillow. I had no clothes, no dishes, no books, nothing. The bunnies didn't have their cage either and so it was free-reign and disaster for a few days until I got some new fencing to give them some security.
      • To add to the moving drama, I started my first rotation of residency on the Acute Care Service. It's a surgical service that only deals with emergency conditions requires, you guessed it, surgery! My first call shift was exactly the same as the pilot episode of Scrubs (if you haven't seen this episode, you can watch it for free here). The shift started with a Code Blue (patient dying on the floor), ended with  a Code Blue, and stayed true to the plot line right up to and including the fact that one of my patients died and no one paged me to let me know. In fact, my version of the episode went something like this:
        • I got a consult from Internal to come see a delirious guy who had belly pain. His daughter had just flown in from England because she'd heard he wasn't getting better in hospital and was there when I did the assessment. She was really quite lovely and so was her dad, the patient. He was certainly quite sick and we weren't sure what was going on, so I moved him to ICU and ordered some tests. A few hours later, I returned to reassess him and see what the tests had turned up. I walked into the ICU room and the daughter had her back to me and there was another man there, I assumed he was the son. I glanced quickly at the patient and said, "oh, he's sleeping! I can come back later" when the daughter turned to look at me with a tear-stained face and said, "he died 3 hours ago." I looked again at the patient and saw that he wasn't sleeping at all. He was definitely very dead.
        • "No one paged me!" I said with a hoarse voice and plunked down in the chair beside the daughter, unable to stand. Turns out the other man wasn't the son but the preacher there to give the last rites. Since when do preachers were polo shirts? I don't know. He gave me a withering look but I could care less. I knew I'd blundered. It was a rookie mistake.
        • I stayed with the daughter for a few minutes to give my condolences and then went to find a closet to have a good cry. It was pretty short. My pager when off within moments and I pulled myself back together to go do my job.
      • Needless to say, it was one hell of a first day. But, I took things one day at a time and in the end, I survived. Now I'm on radiology, which is basically a holiday rotation. Those guys take coffee breaks every 2 hours and take an hour and half long lunch. Every single day! On surgery, I was lucky if I had 5 minutes in a 20 hour shift to go pee.
      • Last Friday, I came down with the stomach flu and have been trying to fight it off over the weekend. So far, not much success, but I'm ever hopeful. Send me some 'get well' thoughts if you've got them to spare, I could sure use 'em today!

      • Recipe I've Been Drooling Over
      • Cheese Biscuits
        • Cheese Biscuits by Garret over on Vanilla Garlic and re-posted by Elise on Simply Recipes are the perfect comfort food for post-call-I-don't-know-what-order-I-should-sleep-eat-and/or-pee-because-I'm-so-tired moments. Even if you don't regularly work for 30 hrs straight, I'm sure you'll enjoy them, too. :)

      • Favourite Thing on Etsy this Week
        • Look, somethings in life just make you smile, no matter what. Duck bums are one of those things. I can't help but grin when they go "Bottoms Up" - even if I'm walking to work in the pouring rain at 6 am. Here is a perfect rendition of one of life's simple joys:


      • What I'm Reading Right Now
        • I'm currently reading "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant" by Jenni Ferrari-Adler. It's a collection of essays by famous people I don't recognize talking about what it's like to cook for one and all the strange things we eat when we're alone. Some of the essays are quite snotty (ie. truffled egg toast; made with white truffle oil, creme fraiche, and a few other totally unaccessible ingredients) while others are absolutely terrific (ie. asparagus superhero. 'Nuff said!). In the end, I'd say it's a great read, especially since it makes cooking for yourself feel less lonely and there are several recipes that sound quite good. Just don't read it when you've got the stomach flu - lesson learned.
      • TED Talk I Watched This Week
        • I went to the movies the other week and saw the trailer for I Don't Know How She Does It during the previews. My friend turned to me on the spot and said, "we've got to go see that!!" and I agreed. It seemed to epitomize our lives. This got me to thinking about how gender roles have changed and what it means for our generation with respect to cultural expectations and social functioning. This, in turn, led me to look up some talks on the subject on TED.
        • Below are 2 talks: one on the rise of women and the other on the fall of man. You'll quickly discover that they're deeply related stories and neither has a happy ending. Women, unable to shake off the traditional (and frankly biological) expectation to generate children have, through the suffrage movement, also acquired the need to have a career, earn a competitive salary, and generally do everything. This, in turn, has undermined men's traditional role as the head of the household and the official breadwinner. With the shift from a manufacturing economy to an information and service based economy, men no longer earn enough money through labour to support their families. And, labour positions are often the first to see lay offs when the economy tanks. 
        • Thus, the roles of men and women are both affected: men feel that they cannot be "manly" if they don't support their families; women feel that they can't support their families because they're too busy doing everything else! No one wins.
        • I think the solution is to dissolve the notion that certain roles are associated with certain genders. Thank goodness, Penguin can cook, because I'm lousy at making sure dinner gets to the table whereas I know he'll never forget to feed us. While not a traditional "manly" role, making food is essential and celebrated act in our home and Penguin always rises to the occasion. (Nothing says I Love You like a good meal!!) In turn, I usually do the dishes. Not because I'm a woman and that's what I'm supposed to do but because that's my contribution. But for us, maybe it's easy. Because we're young and adventurous, we don't pay too much attention to the roles society tries to confine us to - we decide our own roles, sometimes consciously and other times not.
        • And that's my rant for the month. :)

      • Song of the Week
        • Sabrina Starke's song A Woman's Gonna Try was pretty much my theme song for the first month of residency.
      • Thing I'm Most Grateful for This Week
        • Having all my stuff here! YAYA!

      • Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to This Week
        • Penguin is flying in on Friday and staying until Tuesday. It's been so long since I've seen him and I miss him so much. During med school, we used to drive 600km every other weekend to visit. Now that I live 2000km away, our visits aren't nearly as regular or scheduled. The loneliness of being in a new city away from all my friends and family is only reprieved by the total awesomeness of my job and the new friends I'm making in the process of being here. But nothing much seems to make up for the loneliness of doing all this without Penguin here to share the highs and lows.

      • Bunny Photo of the Week
        • Since my things arrived a month late and I'm very poor, I spent the first rotation of residency sleeping on the floor with my camping mat and sleeping bag. Eventually, I made some new friends and they lent me a duvet, a pillow, and a pot to cook with. It made all the difference in the world. Jazz bunny was also ecstatic to have a blanket to nap on and here she is surveying her new home pre-furniture arrival (note: the booze in the recycling bin is not a sign that I'm an alcoholic; they're all full bottles! I went to all my favourite wineries before leaving home and got the vintages I knew I wouldn't be able to find here in my new province... and they are now carefully stored away for upcoming special occasions):

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