Monday, December 31, 2007

Back, but still on vacation

Because this is technically a knitting blog, I will do the knitting update first. Look! New project! Colorwork! These are Eunny Jang's Anemoi mittens. They are presumptively for me. For a moment, I thought about giving them to my cousin because they happen to be her wedding colors, but I think her hands are larger than mine. And I want them. I love the corrugated ribbing on the cuff. Love it.

Look! Old project! Done! Remember the Embossed Leaves socks that I started because I was going stir crazy with all the stockinette on the robe? Yeah, I finally finished them months later. That's how it goes with me and socks. Of course, my aunt suggested that she would be most appreciative if I managed to knock out another pair in a slightly larger size, so we'll see if I can find the fortitude for more socks (and the same pattern twice...) somewhere within me.

For a more full description of my Christmas festivities, see Twinset. This is a blog maintained by both my mother and my aunt (identical twins, get it?) and it's quite good. They also are better at posting than I am. I am lazy, so my Christmas rundown will be brief and picture based. For those of you with slow internet connections who don't like pictures, go away. This is my blog and I like pictures. So there.

My parents flew into Cleveland, rented a car, and drove me and the cats to my grandparents' house in Huntington, WV. Ganymede rocked the whole new house, lots of people thing. He likes attention. And power. Also being on top of tall things.

Biscuit did not love the new house, lots of people concept. She pretty much stayed in the basement, so she did not partake in Christmas morning.

But Grandpa did. Look! It's a dog! I think Grandpa got a balloon and instructions in his stocking.

Jon got duct tape in many colors. This is a very appropriate 13 year old boy present. I gave him Settlers of Catan, which also went over well but was not photographed.

Mom got roving from my aunt. Mmmmmmm... I forget exactly what fibers were involved, but I know silk was one of them. The roving was very, very soft. My aunt spins, so she is taking the roving home with her and then mailing it to Mom in yarn form later.
Overall, it was a pretty knitterly Christmas. Mom got the roving and some yak yarn (from me). I'm still working on a scarf for Dad. And remember the wimple I talked about a while back? Mom knit it for me, beads and all. So soft and pretty. See her blog for a picture, because I am lazy and also getting hungry.

The best presents are furry. Also, more proof that somebody likes to be the center of attention.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Not so much as planned

Instead of catching babies last night, I decided to have food poisoning instead.

I went in for a few hours. I was grumpy to begin with, because I found that one of the residents who kind of made my week miserable was also on call. I've worked 5 shifts with her, and I don't think she's ever made eye contact with me or the other med student on. Unless she's ridiculously high functioning autistic, that is not cool.

Anyway, after missing a chance to deliver a baby because it was coming out OP (occiput posterior - face up, the position that often causes "back labor") and needed to be vacuum assisted, I started feeling not so great. I had a small amount of "sentinel emesis" (the warning before it gets really bad) an got sent home. I thought I was in the clear. But no. I don't know that I got much sleep between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. I've never had food poisoning before. This was a new level of aggressiveness of GI irritation for me. And the pain was pretty intense too.

B kept trying to do something to help, but I couldn't keep down any of the liquids he wanted to provide. At one point, he asked if there was anything at all he could do. I said, "No, not unless you have a secret stash of Zofran I don't know about." Forget stealing Fentanyl, Zofran is the med that I'd be in danger of stealing if I were an anesthesiologist. We entertained going to the ER, but decided that I like the comfort of my own bathroom. Also, we're med students, and we don't like going to the doctor.

In conclusion, no solstice baby catching, more sleep than I originally planned on, and I'm left with weakness, dehydration and a day to watch TV and knit while I recover.

Tomorrow I go to West Virginia. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Not dead yet

Sorry I've been slacking. As you know, I'm on OB/GYN. I love it, but part of being a med student is coming in before the residents. Guess what time I have to get up tomorrow?

3:00 a.m.

It's kind of a good thing, because it means that I have a lot of post-partum patients to round on. Which means I did a lot of deliveries and had some good OR time in the last few days. But I'm still not thrilled with the prospect of going to bed earlier than I have since I was about 9 in order to get 6 hours of sleep.

Also, I'm on overnight call Friday. On the way home, I realized that I'm on call on Solstice. Somehow it seems appropriate that it will be the longest night of the year.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Oh, OB/GYN, you had me at hello

Today I did two endometrial biopsies. This means I am awesome.

No, what this really means is I was lucky enough to get paired with a really great chief resident in clinic today, who caught on that I like to do procedures and let me do the biopsies. For those who are curious (the queasy should skip to the next paragraph), doing an endometrial biopsy (or "EMB") entails inserting a speculum, grabbing the anterior section of the cervix with a tenaculum (pointy edged cervix grabber thing), inserting a small but long catheter through the cervical os into the uterus, creating suction by pulling out the stylus in the catheter, and moving the catheter around to suck up some endometrial tissue. You do it two or three times and get enough tissue to analyze.

Basically, it reminded me why I love this field. I mean, I'd been enjoying clinic, but I hadn't been able to do that much. Clinic is very busy, so the residents usually want to do a lot themselves. I'd done a few paps, measured a lot of funduses and listened to a lot of fetal heart rates, but I wasn't given that much responsibility. But biopsy! Whoo! This is why I wake up in the morning.

No. Really.

As far as knitting goes, I did finish the robe. But, the robe is short and it's cold. I don't wanna take pictures. I promise I will at some point. In lieu of robe pictures, I have pictures stolen from Knitty!

I don't actually like knitting lace all that well. Or knitting with mohair. But I covet this wimple. Covet. When would I wear it? I don't know. When I'm posing for modelesque pictures with snowflakes on my eyelashes. Yes.

Also, I rarely wear shawls. But I need this one. Cableydropstitchgoodness.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Why I will never be a pediatrician

I finished peds on Friday. My last patient, a 3 year old boy, gave me one of his drawings on my last day. "Put it on your wall?" he said. "On your wall?" I told him I would. "You has a house?" he asked. I told him I had half a house (a duplex), which was a little confusing for him. He then wanted to know more about my house. Who lives there, are there kids, are there pets? Then, he wanted to know about the student nurse's house, also in detail.

See, he's obsessed with houses, with homes, because he knows on some level that he no longer has one.

He was admitted for child abuse. A relative had been suspicious for a while, but when she saw the burn he recently sustained, she grabbed him and his brother and went to the ER to start a case. His injuries are such that he will recover, physically. However, they are also the sort of injuries that could only have been inflicted by someone else. We're pretty sure we know who, but I obviously can't go into detail here. Right now, the concerned relative has custody, but who knows what that means in the long run?

The night he was admitted, I was on call. He screamed and cried and shook, but let us examine him. We didn't want to, really, but we had to document his injuries. But he was so afraid. By the next morning, he seemed to realize that he was safe. People here might insist on taking his blood pressure and temperature every 8 hours, but he got used to that pretty quickly. When I came in to round on him in the morning, he started automatically rousing himself from sleep and sitting up so I could listen to his heart and lungs. He knew the drill.

On my last day, he sat on my lap and played with his cars and trucks for a while. There was a construction site outside his window, so we matched toy backhoe to real backhoe, toy bulldozer to real bulldozer.

When I told him I finally had to go, he looked at me and said, "I come too?"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Something about modified expectations

There is no sleep so sweet as post-call sleep. You drag yourself through rounds all morning, waiting for the senior resident or attending to look your way and say, "You're post-call? You can go home now." And then you go home, shower for much longer than you should because you feel so dirty with hospital, and crawl into bed.

And the sleep is so warm, so uninterrupted. Sure, I usually get to sleep a few hours in the on-call room, but this is so much better. No pagers waiting to go off. No sounds of the hospital's tubing system coming through the walls, sounding like a surprised inhalation. Just sweet, perfect sleep.

It almost makes being on call worth it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Oh, right...knitting

In case everyone thinks I've changed my needle preference from size US 6 circs to 20 gauge angiocaths, have faith that I am still working on the robe. It's all knit, and I sewed the shoulder seams and one sleeve on tonight. Since we do get Thursday (and maybe Friday...fingers crossed) off this week, I'm hoping to finish this sucker up by the end of next weekend. You know, just in time to put it in a drawer and wait until May to wear it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Time for the morbid hospital post

Last week was my Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) week. For the most part, I really enjoyed it. I got some interesting patients, and I really like the feel of an ICU. Nursing is better, and there's more information at your fingertips to play with. Vitals are charted meticulously, labs are drawn frequently, and rounds happen twice a day. It's an OCD dream.


It also makes you think about children and death and maybe living but not really living. One patient was an infant born at 24 weeks. She essentially had no brain, just a bit of brainstem, thalamus, and cerebellum. But no actual, thinking brain. And she was in foster care, because whoever her parents were didn't have the abilities to take care of her. She also had problems with just about every other organ system, but the brain thing was what really bothered me. She couldn't interact, and she was the age where she should at least be smiling and making eye contact and cuddling. But she didn't. She showed distress when we tried to draw blood (she was very obese, so that made it extra difficult), but even that was not really emotion, just being agitated. Taking care of her was frustrating for everyone. At one point, one of the doctors on the team said, "The NICU [Neonatal ICU] made her; they should take her back."

It sounds callous, but it pointed to something I've been thinking about. Sometimes, maybe, the NICU doesn't really do good by saving these early, early preemies. Sometimes, you're just prolonging suffering. Sometimes you're creating a being that has no consciousness, essentially a baby Terry Schiavo. But sometimes, the baby you're trying to save grows up to be a person who has thoughts and interactions, and thank goodness you fought for that life. And you don't know, at 24 weeks, which sort of situation you're dealing with.

So what do you do? I have to admit that I'm glad I won't have to make that decision. I can help with genetic counseling in the prenatal period, but I won't have to deal with the aftermath of whatever my patients decide. And I can work to deliver those 22, 23, 24 weekers as safely as possible. But then I get to pass them off to the NICU folks and focus on making sure the mom is okay. For me, it's just an ethical argument to contemplate when I'm post-call. But for many, it's a real, practical decision.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Wooo Cleveland! Represent!

Michael Symon is the Next Iron Chef!

I wasn't sure he'd make it. His competition (John Besh) was very respectable. I would have been okay if he had won. But he didn't. Because Chef Symon did. Because he is awesome.

Michael Symon is a Cleveland chef who owns both Lola, one of the best restaurants in Cleveland, and Lolita, it's more casual, cheaper little sister. Lola is where B and I spent both our first and second anniversary dinners. Both meals were remarkable. I could talk about the perfection of the vanilla infused salad dressing or the perfectly crisped arctic char skin or the amazing pineapple panna cotta concoction for quite a while, but I won't. (We also visited Lola the night after taking Step I of the United States Medical Licensing Exam, aka "The Boards," but I honestly don't remember that much about that meal. I was too stunned and sleep deprived to appreciate it. After we take Step II, we'll be ordering pizza and watching a low-brow movie. Anyway.)

Cleveland doesn't get much glory. We tend to choke in the final round(s) (I'm looking at you, Cavs and Indians...), so I was kind of surprised to see Cleveland come through this time. Congratulations, Chef Symon. Rock on.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Oh, the cute

Today was my day in the newborn nursery. It basically entailed doing little, repetitive exams on perfectly healthy babies all day. Cute, but a little dull after awhile.

The cutest was this: on one baby's crib, there was a little piece of paper with child-like handwriting that said, "Hi, [baby's name]. Happy Birthday!"

That's pretty freakin' cute.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Day 2

I'm happy to be back. My first week is peds clinic and one day of nursery. Then on to the PICU for a week, then two weeks of peds inpatient. I felt so without purpose during research. There is nothing like a way overbooked rapid access peds clinic to cure you of that. Granted, those kids are sick, so that's not fun. Not deathly sick, but covered in germs sick. If I make it through this rotation without getting a URI or gastroenteritis, it will be amazing.

I think I'm doing a good job. It helps that I like babies (most of my patients are between 3 and 14 months) and that I'm not afraid to look in a poopy diaper. Also, it helps that the expectations are low. Basically, I'm taking lots of histories, trying to get the babies to hold still long enough to look in their ears, and handing out amoxicillin like candy. Also hydrocortisone cream. This rotation is going to teach me when to bring my own kids in to the pediatrician and when to stay far, far away. Useful.

We finally got our clinical grades today from the block that ended four months ago. I'm happy. I'm in a position where I'm still going to have to up my NBME grades (the test based part of the final grade), but I have a shot to be where I want to be. I was actually kind of scared that I might not get the grade in surgery that I thought I deserved (based on feedback I received). UH surgery has a reputation of grading people down. Anyway, either they didn't, or the powers that be scaled grades back up. So, phew... B also did very well, so we're happy.

That's about it for now. I don't really have any hilarious stories yet. And I do actually have work to do. Time to read about peds hematology. You know you're jealous.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Food, glorious food

Although I have been knitting some, I haven't done much, what with the craziness in lab and all. Also, it continues to be that expanse of turquoise stockinette. Not so interesting. (And, speaking of lab craziness, the second antibody in nonspecific too! I am definitely not publishing...)

But. But. I have been making fun food. Not every night (sometimes I eat cheese and bread and a pear for dinner...shhhh), but some nights. A friend had a pumpkin themed party Friday night. A couple of months ago, B's mother gave me a pumpkin cake pan. You know, where one half is the top of a pumpkin and one half is the bottom and then you put them together? So, clearly, I had to make a pumpkin cake. Since the pan is so deep, I had to bake it longer than the recipe called for, and next time I'll dye the cream cheese frosting in the middle brown to better match the cake, but other than that it turned out well.

In other fun food news, B's dad bought us a pasta making class. There really is nothing like fresh pasta. Although some of the people in the class were a little grating (that's what you get for taking a weekday morning cooking class at an upscale mall....draw your own conclusions), the pasta was awesome. We made goat cheese tortellini, pumpkin ravioli, and tarragon fettuccine. And we ate it all for lunch. Of course, now I want a pasta machine, but if I actually had one I'd never use it. Besides, we did alright without one later that night. The chef/teacher sent B and I home with the extra dough. I'm not sure if he picked us because he liked us or because he was taking pity on the students. Either way, we practiced hand rolling and slicing fettuccine last night. B made sauce with tomatoes and herbs from our garden (and wine and veggie meatballs from Trader Joe's). It was delicious. Of course, now my last six meals have gone like this: bagel, pasta, pasta, bagel, pasta, Halloween candy. Hmmm... I think it's time for a salad.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sunnier side

Thanks for the comments. They helped.

I'm feeling better. First, I felt worse. I actually ran into the guy in charge of my lab at the airport as he was returning and I was leaving. I'd emailed him some microscope pictures, and he confirmed that I had cause for concern. What a way to start a weekend.

Luckily, I had Marie to look forward to. Marie is my cousin. Our mothers are identical twins. Seeing as our fathers are very different physically, we don't look that much alike, but we're very, very much alike in habits and interests in kind of bizarre ways. After not seeing each other for years, we discovered a year and a half ago that we have almost identical default dance moves. We're attracted to similar traits in people, and offended by similar traits as well. We are both very much like our mothers and becoming more so each year. Anyway, it's always a blast to see her.

This time, it was an extra-blast for two reasons.
1) Marie is performing in a burlesque troupe, and I got to see her show. Pretty great stuff. Some of the numbers by the other women there was a lot of creativity and humor on that stage.
2) Marie is getting married in 4.5 months. I met her fiance, Heidi, this trip, and she is awesome. Very supportive of Marie. And....I get to be the maid of honor! Woo! (Pending approval of my request for the day of the wedding off from whatever rotation I'm on.) I'm excited. and not just because my dress will be turquoise.

Anyway, it was just what I needed to kick me out of the grumpiness I was in. And today, I talked to my lab people, and things are maybe looking a tiny bit less awful. We're ordering a new antibody overnight, and I'm going to try to crank out what I can in the next two weeks. This means I'll be crazy busy, but I have a small, tiny, eensy amount of hope for some sort of data. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

So much self-pity

This is going to be a depressing, basic science entry. Y'all can stop reading right now.

My research block (which ends in two weeks), has been focused on evaluating medroxyprogesterone acetate's effects on glucocorticoid receptors (GR) in bone cells. To do this, I've been running a lot of different tests with an antibody to GR. Things were kind of starting to work. I was excited. I had some pretty pictures that could possibly add up to "data." And then we realized that this GR antibody might be (euphemism) "nonspecific." Which in science talk means "crap." Which means that ALL of my results could very well be garbage. I kind of think that's the case. There are still a few last-ditch things I'm going to try in the next two weeks, but it's a stretch.

I've been working so hard. So hard. So many long days of lab protocols only to watch them fail. Or think they worked only to discover now that the data might not count. Lots of my colleagues have been doing chart reviews or working on analyzing preexisting data sets and, well, not working so hard. But they will have data and probably publish. I will not. This makes me feel bitter and sad and defeatist. And while I know that I'm still a really strong OB/GYN applicant, part of me is already waving goodbye to a shot at, you know, Hopkins or Brigham or Northwestern.

Maybe a miracle will happen. But I doubt it.

At least I'm off to D.C. this weekend, where I will do my best to forget that there ever was such a thing as a glucocorticoid receptor. I will meet my cousin's fiance and watch my cousin dance and eat good food and play with new kitties. And knit on the plane.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The television entry

I've been watching a lot of crap television lately. I justify this by saying that I'm on my research block and therefore essentially on vacation. Of course, I justify the tv I watch during hospital blocks by saying that I'm uber-stressed and thus deserve this fluff. Here are some of my recent favorite moments in crap tv:

1 - When Victoria, a Yale student, was kicked off of America's Next Top Model. See, Victoria auditioned for ANTM on a dare, and it was clear from the start that she was too smart to be there and she wasn't going to play Tyra's silly games. When she was eliminated, instead of crying, she shrugged her shoulders and immediately took off her stiletto sandals. Ha! Take that, modeling empire! No more high heels!

2 - When Justin on Ugly Betty was trying to learn to play basketball. It was actually a really sweet moment, but the background music to the montage of Justin's failed attempts to make a shot was hilarious. Specifically, it was "Get Your Head in the Game" from High School Musical. An appropriate song lyrically, sure, but dude. High School Musical? As a soundtrack for something other than...High School Musical? Seriously?

3 - When Alex had to decompress the kid with hydrocephalus on Grey's Anatomy. By putting a needle through his skull. Or, more specifically, through his skull behind his eyeball. By moving the eyeball out of the way...with a tongue depressor!!! Okay, I know that orbits are not actually sterile, but could we just pretend they are and maybe displace them with something more appropriate than a dirty wooden stick?

4 - When Zaphod getting his game back was the main plot for Meerkat Manor. Okay, I only just started Meerkat Manor. It's clearly a very well done show, and who doesn't love meerkats? But something about it screams, "Hi! I'm home at 11 on a Friday night watching Animal Planet! Sweet!" Anyway, I just found this whole "rogue male" subplot kind of funny. That's all.

I could go on, but then we'd eventually end up discussing Beauty and the Geek, and that would just be embarrassing, what with my identification with the girl geek and all. Sigh...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Yay, marathon!

B finished the Portland marathon this morning with a time of 3:27:49. Yay! I am proud.

Here he is a few days ago with Biscuit. Awww.... She's proud too.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Up and awake

So, first, my life. Then, a meme.

Research goes on. It's possible I'll get done in plenty of time. It's possible that it will all blow up in my face. I'll let you know in a month. The important thing is that in a month I have to be done so I will be. This lack of structure, lack of accomplishment, lack of meaning is really getting to me. Luckily, I'm exercising a little more, so that's helping to compensate the ennui and the crazy that research seems to engender in me. I don't know why, it just does.

Also, B is gone for a week. He's in Portland, running the marathon on Sunday. I'm proud of him, but I'm lonely. It doesn't help that two other friends are also basically unavailable this weekend. I'm planning on getting a lot of writing done (the research kind, not the fun kind) and watching Freedom Writers and knitting. It won't be awful, but I can imagine better weekends.

Okay, meme. Normally, I don't do memes, but this one is kind of interesting, albeit long. My friend Christina did it on her blog, and I liked seeing what she liked and didn't like, so maybe someone will like seeing what I like? Or maybe you'll all skip over it. That's fine too.

"What follows is a list of the top 150 titles marked "Unread" on LibraryThing, with the number of books so marked in parentheses. I have made bold things I've read, italicized the ones I've started but didn't finish, and colored red the ones I couldn't stand and green the ones I loved. Feel free to play, too!" -Christina

I deleted the ones I haven't read because the list was too long. Go to Christina's blog for the whole list if you care to.

Madame Bovary (83)
The Odyssey (83)
Pride and prejudice (83)
A tale of two cities (80)
Jane Eyre (80)
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies (79)
The time traveler's wife (73)
The Iliad (73)
Emma (73)
The Blind Assassin (73)
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius (67)
Atlas shrugged (67)
Memoirs of a Geisha (66)
Middlesex (66)
The Canterbury tales (64)
Brave new world (61)
The Fountainhead (61)
A clockwork orange (59)
The poisonwood Bible : a novel (57)
1984 (57)
Sense and sensibility (55)
The picture of Dorian Gray (55)
One flew over the cuckoo's nest (54)
Oliver Twist (54)
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time (52)
The god of small things (51)
The unbearable lightness of being (49)
Beloved : a novel (49)
Slaughterhouse-five (49)
The scarlet letter (48)
Oryx and Crake : a novel (47)
The catcher in the rye (46)
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of… (45)
The Aeneid (45)
In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its … (44)
The bell jar (43)
Beowulf : a new verse translation (43)
The plague (43)
The handmaid's tale (42)
Little Women (41)
A brief history of time : from the big bang to black holes (41)
The chronicles of Narnia (40)
Possession : a romance (40)
Fast food nation : the dark side of the all-American meal (40)
Alias Grace (39)
The great Gatsby (39)
To kill a mockingbird (39)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Gla… (39)
The alchemist (39)
Candide, or, Optimism (39)
Snow falling on cedars (39)
Midnight in the garden of good and evil : a Savannah story (39)
The lovely bones : a novel (38)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (38)

I don't dislike very many of those books, but I also haven't read many good works of fiction recently. I like Anita Shreve, but her books leave me too depressed. Does anyone have any great suggestions?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm not a sock knitter

I finished the left front of the robe, then started the right front. Then I considered the stretches of stockinette and decided I needed a knitting project that was exactly opposite what the robe was. Instead of being big and simple, it must be small and complex. Something with a chart would be ideal. And so I cast on for the Embossed Leaves Socks from IK Winter 2005.

I'm not really a sock knitter. I'm definitely not into colorful sock yarn. I was for a little bit, but I never wear those socks. While I may not be a product knitter, I do want to actually be able to use what I knit. I've given away most of the socks I've knit because I don't wear them unless they look formal and sedate and fairly boring, frankly. But then Knit Picks came out with Risata, which has elastic in it. That seemed exciting. I bought some in brown, because brown is a safe boring color. And a few days ago, I decided to try knitting wearable socks again. The lace pattern is subtle enough that I might actually wear them, especially since they're elastic and machine washable. (Seriously? People who are willing to hand wash socks? Beyond me.) We'll see.

I'm still working on the robe occasionally, in situations where a lace pattern would be too much (trying to interact with other people, watching a movie with subtitles, the five minute breaks in lab while my samples are centrifuging). It'll get done eventually, maybe before next summer.

Also, a couple of nights ago, I flipped out and decided I needed to know where I'm applying for residency. So B and I went through the list of possible locations and figured out where we both would have acceptable programs. Right now I'm at 27 programs, assuming that the rest of med school goes well and I continue to be a competitive applicant. It feels good to know what my options are, to some extent. The cities on our list include Boston, Baltimore, New Haven, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Charlottesville, Cleveland, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis, Portland, San Francisco, and Denver. It's a lot of places, but that's what you have to do.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I have data.

Knock on wood.

Not complete data, or finished data, but data nonetheless. For you science geeks, my cell transfections worked, and the receptors that I transfected into them are showing up on staining. And the hormone treatments are making the receptors respond, which is also showing up on staining. This is a very, very good thing.

There's a problem with the mounting media, so I'm getting a lot of air bubbles on my slides, too many to take good pictures. So I won't really have data until that problem is taken care of. But I have hope. I also have a meeting with my lab group tomorrow morning, so the timing of this couldn't be better.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I have never been this big, pink, or fluffy

The Leavened Raglan in bubblegum pink mohair is done. It was actually done about a week ago, but I wasn't home during good photography lighting until today. Man, that went fast. And, man, is it pink. I alternated skeins to avoid pooling, but I still got a little pooling. I guess when something is that pink and fluffy, pooling is the least of your concerns. I know I don't sound thrilled with it. I'm not. I like it just fine, but I'm not sure I'll ever have the guts to wear it in public. If time proves that I, in fact, do not have the guts, I'll give it to my sister because she's better at wearing unexpected things. However, I bet if I wear it, the kitties will love me forever. And try to eat me. Same difference.

It's been a wild and crazy weekend (relatively - consider that last weekend consisted of me, movies from the library, knitting, and lab work). I doubt it will sound as exciting on the blog, but I'll try.

My cousin Jessi is in town, so B and I went to dinner at my aunt's house Friday to see her. Dinner conversation was more...excited...than usual. She's getting her degree in elementary education in Texas, so there was talk of the state of schools, No Child Left Behind, illegal immigrants, and health insurance. My aunt and I disagree on all of those topics. Yes. That is all. No hurt feelings but definitely some strong debate. We will try not to continue these conversations tonight when we all go to dinner at a Japanese steakhouse that we always go to with them.

Yesterday, I decided to check out the Stitch and Bitch and Phoenix, a coffee shop in walking distance of my house. I heard about it on the Cleveland Ravelry group. Naturally, I was afraid to go alone, so I made Christina come with me. The women were cool, with careers including IT, chemical engineering, writing, artistry, and other avocations. One woman there is married to a med student, so she know what we were going through. About two hours in, I asked one woman what exactly it was she did. She'd referenced writing, publishing, costuming, and promoting, and I was curious how she went about it all. Basically, she does all of those, she said, but what she's most known for is the film made about her and her husband's life that won all these awards at Sundance and was nominated for an Oscar.

Um....what film?

American Splendor.

Oh. Naturally. We're knitting with Joyce Brabner, Harvey Pekar's wife. We flipped. For those of you who don't know, Harvey Pekar is a graphic novelist and one of the biggest names to come out of Cleveland. Joyce is pretty cool even without her Harvey affiliation. She does everything, and she does it with energy. Naturally, she's Unitarian. And she goes to the church that I very occasionally go to. Once we discovered that, she encouraged us to try it out again (new minister!). She's kind of a force of nature, so Christina and I found ourselves promising to see her this morning at church. And we did. And the new minister looks like Harry Potter, which is fun.

Church was fine; I'll probably go back. The real point of the story is that just by going to a knitting group out my back door I met a really cool lady and started maybe getting back into UU stuff. Not bad for a lazy weekend.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

LYS I don't hate

There is a yarn store in Cleveland Heights that I hate. It is full of fluffy, expensive, impractical yarn for rich people to make ugly scarves with. Nothing is priced, so you have to go ask a salesperson to look up the price for you whenever you are interested in something. Inevitably, it's a little more expensive than you'd like, but you suck it up and decide to buy, say, 5 skeins for that shawl/sweater/whatever you've been thinking about. However, they do not actually own more than 2 skeins in any given color. Because they only expect people to make scarves. Or maybe hats. And they're rude the whole time you're there, because you want to knit a sweater, shawl, pair of socks even, and you are not made of money. I always leave unhappy and frazzled.

For a while, because of this store, I've been buying yarn online. KnitPicks and I are friends. Recently, a yarn store moved to within 3/4 mile of where I live (Susan Yarns at the corner of Taylor and Cedar). It had been in a smaller location before, slightly further away. Yesterday, I walked down to the new location, partially for the exercise and partially to pick up new 4s so I could continue the robe. I walked in and it was calm. The Australian owner was available, but he wasn't pushing you. The stock isn't extensive, but about 60% of it is Aussi Wool in different weights and tons of colors. And they have more than 2 skeins of each color. They also have a good selection of lace hand-dye that is gorgeous. There's an obligatory box or two of fluffy scarf yarn, but you can tell that this store's bread and butter is basic, beautiful, reasonably priced workhorse yarn.

In part because I was feeling lonely what with B out of town, and in part because I wanted to reward this store that didn't make me crazy, I bought yarn. I bought 400 g of worsted weight periwinkle wool. It might be for Nora Gaughan's Twisty Turns shawl but who knows. Also, I bought 100 g of superwash merino sock yarn in a variegated gray color weight. Typically, I like my socks to be one color, but the softness of the gray appealed to me. Also, it has a little bit of nylon in it to make it more durable.

And, yes, I bought needles. Although I'm more excited to finish the Leavened Raglan (I'm on the sleeve decreases), I cast on the left front of the robe and knit two rows to be fair. At least now I have the materials, even if I don't have the focus.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Frustrating morning, and I've only been up 3 hours

This crisp Saturday morning, I got up at 7:45 because I had a long protocol I wanted to do in lab today. It wasn't something I had to do over the weekend; it could have waited until Monday or Tuesday. However, since my projects have not been going so well, I wanted to make a weekend offering to the bench research gods. I rolled into lab around 9:15 due to more kitten play time than really necessary. By 9:20 I realized that the so-called Master Key to the labs only opened about half of the rooms I needed. And I couldn't really make do with what I had: my slides that I was going to stain were behind one of the locked doors.

At first I decided to take this opportunity to go to the gym. Then I realized that I ate so much goat cheese and roasted garlic last night that my GI system was still not entirely pleased with me. Okay, fine, so I'll go home, pick up toppings for pizza along the way, and come back to the gym later in the afternoon. I had parked in the parking garage near the lab, the one that is free for 30 minutes and $2 for 30-60 minutes. Having been there for 45 minutes (I ran to my other lab briefly to check on my cells - still alive!), I was going to owe $2, yes? I drove up to the attendant, ticket and 2 singles in hand. When I handed them to her, she glared at me and said, "You have to use the card reader." There is a machine for when there is no attendant. You pop in your ticket and pay a flat rate of $5 to exit the garage. I looked at her and said, "And pay $5?" She looked at me like I was a moron. "Yes." I glared back, "But you're here." Apparently the machine for calculating how much a person owes was broken. She could still hit the button to allow people to exit, but she could not calculate how much people owed. After some arguing, she decided to call her boss down to deal with me. He accepted my ticket and $2 and let me go. It isn't as though the time you enter isn't printed on your ticket or that the fee system is complicated. She just refused to deal with it. I kind of wanted to point out to her boss how difficult she was making my already frustrating morning, but I let it go.

Now I get some knitting time for my troubles. Also, I must contemplate these Harmony needles further. I don't love the colors, but I hear they are pretty fabulous otherwise.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Wow. After years of, "I haven't knit on anything bigger than 7s in ages," snobbery, I am loving how fast this Leavened Raglan is knitting up on 13s. Man. I started last week and I already have both the front and the back done. Also, we have discovered Biscuit's favorite yarn. Ganymede's is Malabrigo. He will seek out and steal anything made of it: hats, fingerless gloves, camera case, sweater, mittens (I like Malabrigo too...). Biscuit is now enamored with the yarn for this sweater, this mohair/wool/acrylic blend from the 70s that my aunt gave me. She loves it more than anything. Hopefully I can finish the sweater without her consuming to much halo.

And here is the sad, neglected, little After Dark robe back. It is curling in that oh-so-stockinette way, but you can use the 5 month old kitten guide to see how long it is. I do like it. I just can't find my 4s. I may make it to the yarn store sometime this weekend, or I might order the new wood Knit Picks needles. We'll see. I had hoped to finish it before it got cold, but we all know how those hopes go.

B is in Portland for his 10 year high school reunion, so I have the house and kitties to myself. Mostly, I'm using the time to get more lab work done, but I've also been watching movies. The combination of Netflix and the library means I have access to movies that I should watch but always forget about. Specifically, I've watched Auntie Mame and Philadelphia this weekend, and All About Eve is sitting next to the TV waiting for a watching. Auntie Mame was a favorite of one of my high school friends. I found it entertaining, but dated and long and requiring a little much suspension of disbelief. Philadelphia, however, was awesome. I was too young to see it when it came out, but it's clear even now how groundbreaking it was, both in the acting and the content. Tom Hanks is incredible, as is Denzel. Not that it's saying much, but I cried multiple times. If you can overlook the giant cell phones and sprayed within an inch of their lives bangs, I really, really recommend it.

Friday, September 7, 2007

At the age of 88, Madeleine L'Engle has passed away. There's a really nice article in the New York Times here. She is/was, hands down, my very favorite author. I read everything of hers I could find at the library or bookstore, and I think part of that is why I can't really get into any piece of fiction that doesn't have a slightly awkward, intelligent female protagonist now. Her work was story, science, and spirituality all at once.

Also, I finished the back of my robe. When I went to cast on for the left front, I couldn't find my size 4 needles. So...instead of looking harder or buying some, I started a new project: Fall 2007 IK's Leavened Raglan in this bubblegum pink variegated acrylic mohair my aunt gave me a bunch of a few years ago. The whole effect is both awful and wonderful. We'll see how it ends up on. It's on huge needles, so it's going very quickly (the back is already done). Pictures of both the robe and sweater backs soon.

My parents arrive in four hours for the weekend, so I have some cleaning to do. And since we're going to Fire, I have some showering and looking decent to do (i.e. not the same jeans I've been wearing to the lab all week).

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Berried Treasure

Since Kristen is on call on Monday and the boys are running 22 miles tomorrow, we celebrated labor day early. We went raspberry picking! Raspberries are way cheaper and yummier if you pick your own, and it was a low activity way of being outside.

Brandon picking berries.

Me picking berries with Jamin in the background.

Jamin and Kristen.

Anna and Christina.

Benjamin was in New York for the weekend, but I bet there will be some leftover berries for him, considering the quantity we managed to pick.

It was a cute farm, very well run, with a subtle pirate theme. Many signs and posters suggested that we were hunting "Berried Treasure."

When done, we had one of our standard, very yuppie picnics (cheeses, hummus, veggies, roasted zucchini, white bean and kale casserole...) at the berry farm. To top it all off, Christina brought pie crusts in ramekins and whipped cream. The results, as you can imagine, were delicious.

And one more, because they're so pretty:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sugar and Spice

Well, I finished the Iris shrug-cardi. It's definitely wee, but I think I like it as a sun dress shoulder cover-up. The pattern is Iris from Rowan magazine #35, Spring and Summer 2004. The yarn is Rowan Calmer, as called for. Normally, I don't knit with the yarn called for, but my mother and sister bought a huge amount of Calmer together. They both knit Iris and still had a bunch left over, so they handed it on to me. I pretty much followed the pattern initially, changing the decreases on the neckline so that they'd mirror each other. Then, after it was "done," I picked up along the bottom, knit until it was almost as long as I wanted (increasing a few times at the side seams after my waist) and ended with 8 rows of garter stitch to parallel the garter rows at the bottom of the shrug. My closure is a simple 4 stitch I-cord tied in a bow. I like that it's sweet but still a little bit sexy. I like that it's really a pattern but still a little bit of my own making. Of course, I can't wear it in the hospital and I don't wear handknits in the lab (it's less heart breaking to ruin a store bought shirt with bleach...oops), so I'm not sure how much use it will get. Probably not as much as it deserves.

Also, 1702 people in front of me on Ravelry. Sigh...

Last night I made up my own recipe and used a fish cooking technique I hadn't tried before! Making up recipes isn't new to me, but I just started eating fish about a year ago after not eating it for most of my cooking life (I was a stricter vegetarian). Thus, fish preparation still intimidates me a little. But last night B wanted to make pesto in order to break in his food processor and use the crop of basil we have. I wanted to put pesto on something other than pasta. Last week we bought a bunch of tilapia at Costco and froze it in lemon juice, so I figured I should try to do something with that. We also had panko, which I've been wanting to use. Solution: panko breaded baked tilapia. I guessed about temperature and time (375 for 12 minutes), and it worked out perfectly. It was fish I would serve other people, even kind of judgmental people. And B's pesto was pretty darn good too.

Kitties remain adorable. Ganymede has taken to trying to lick Biscuit clean. I'm not sure if he thinks she's dirty, or if he's just trying to be a good parent. Sometimes she lets him, sometimes she flips over and bites his face. She's getting comfortable, so she's in the punky phase. I can almost hear Ganymede sighing as she runs about all crazy.

P.S. We went to Blossom with some friends the other night. For details, see Christina's blog.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Slightly competent

Thus far, I've been feeling somewhat incompetent in the lab. I used to be really, really good in the lab; it was one of the main reasons I kept taking science courses in undergrad after I fulfilled my med school requirements. One summer I even did organic chemistry research, cultivating advanced skills like distilling solutions under vacuum and setting up and working with a Schlenk line. However, over the past three years, I apparently lost those skills. The first time I tried to pipette some media onto a dish of cells, my hands shook and I ended up mixing bubbles into the media. The cells lived, but I was embarrassed. I quickly relearned the basic skills, but I still don't know where things are in the lab. I have to ask where things like 50 ml tubes, 100% ethanol, and cell culture plates are.

Yesterday, I was making up EDTA (a solution that we use to decalcify the bone samples so that we can make slides out of them) when I realized that I was not the weakest person in the lab. We have an orthopedic fellow who is working on his research in the orthopedic surgery lab (I also work in the Reproductive Biology lab - it's a weird combination). He's very nice and clearly very smart, but he really doesn't know his way around a lab. I overheard him asking a grad student what it means to balance a centrifuge, and he confessed to me that he had no idea how to work a pipette. By the time that I was showing him how to use a stir bar and explaining how it works, I felt better. Not because he's struggling, but because it means that this is what the grad students have to put up with. They'd been telling me that I was doing fine, that I wasn't a burden, but I couldn't help feeling like I was slowing other people down with my ignorance. I actually am doing well. I'm not doing well for a Ph.D. student, but I'm doing well for an M.D. student, and that's good enough for me.

The Iris cardigan will probably end up a cardigan. I'm past my waist now with about a ball and a half left, so I think I'll make it. I'm adding some subtle waist shaping as I feel like it, which usually works out pretty well but isn't reproducible. I'm hoping to finish in the next week or so.

In other knitting news, there are currently 2,236 people ahead of me in line for a Ravelry login. I actually visited the site and chose not to get a login when it was brandbrandnew. I am a moron. Now I wait impatiently and hear other bloggers talk about all the time they spend there. I need to get a login while I'm still on research so I have time to play with it. Sigh... At least I'm not one of the 16,160 people behind me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Comfort food

A while ago I remembered this little device I used to use to make soft boiled eggs when I was a kid. It was an enclosed container with circle slots for eggs and a little basin for water. You'd add however much water to make harder or softer eggs and turn it on. The water would boil and steam cook the eggs, resulting in easy, perfect every time eggs. I know that you can make these eggs simply by boiling water in a pot, and typically I'm not one for silly cooking gadgets, but I really loved this egg cooker. Both my grandmother and my mother had one. Recently, Mom figured out how to use the egg cooker to steam idli, which takes it from a one-trick-pony to a....two-trick-pony.

When B turned a stack of change into an Amazon gift card, he suggested I look for it. I found it. Today it came, a modernized version of what I remembered from childhood. The egg poaching trays were larger, and it now buzzes when the eggs are done, but it's pretty similar. Also, it's so German. The eggs can be done weich, mittel, or hart. I love it! It came today, and I made two mittelgekocht eggs promptly. I'm one of those people who like ooey, gooey yolks, which I know a lot of people find gross.

An added bonus when the package came was that B had ordered a surprise gift as well. He'd heard me talking about Annie Modesitt's new book Romantic Handknits, and he both remembered the name and ordered it for me. Very impressive. My knitting queue is pretty backed up, but there are a few things that really caught my eye. The Adam's Rib jacket would be beautiful in a less floofy yarn. A Streetcar Named Desire would be perfect knit in a smaller size than it suggests for me. I love Charade, just as it is, a little wrap lace sweater. Notorious, the curve-hugging, corset inspired top reminds me of Red Carpet Convertible, but a little more summery and, you know, not a dress. There's more, but I should stop for now. Basically, it's a good book, and B is a good boyfriend.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Summer monotony

I'm kind of neglecting the Faroese shawlette. I can only take lace in small doses. It's probably because my free time, even now, is so short. I want something with occasional chunks of stockinette to ignore while I watch Scrubs, which happens to me my current favorite medical show. Unlike some, main and semi-main characters don't drop dead every episode. I appreciate that. Also, there are inside doctor/med student jokes which I also appreciate.

As mentioned, I started the Mason-Dixon After Dark robe last weekend. I really, really love the CotLin. It is, as everyone else has already said, a little tough on your hands, but it makes beautiful fabric. Unfortunately, it's cotton and linen, so it also makes really prone to wrinkling fabric. And since I keep my knitting projects balled up in a tote bag, they get wrinkled. Sorry. Pretend that it's not wrinkled. Focus on how pretty the seed stitch looks and how great the color is going to look with my coloring. Yes? Anyway, the robe is good mindless knitting, but on US 5's, a robe is going to take forever. I'm okay with that.

I've picked up stitches from the bottom edge of the Iris shrug to start turning it into a cardigan, length to be determined. In order to keep it from flaring strangely, I've done a couple of mirrored decreases at the front edges. I'll probably take it off the needles and try it on soon to see how/if that worked. I have enough yarn to do a full length cardigan, I think, but it might be cuter cropped. Either way, it is, again, a lot of stockinette, albeit on US 7's which is slightly faster work. And none of this stockinette is even in the round. Maybe I will go back to the lace soon. Or start a pair of Fair Isle mittens.

Last week was my first week really, really in the lab. Right now I have results from immunohistochemistry of an earlier bone specimen, two osteoblast cell lines growing, and two newer bone samples decalcifying. While I'm no closer to actually knowing anything new, it makes me feel like I'm doing something. Of course, it means that my days of reading articles on my couch with a kitty in my lap are over, but that's probably for the best.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Nose kisses

Biscuit has been home one week now. After keeping her in the back of the house for the better part of a week, she and Ganymede finally met face to face last night. I think the cat psychologist slow introduction plan actually worked. When they first met Gany was a touch nervous. There was one hiss and then some power play, but they touched noses a few times. There was no yowling or swats to hurt, just swats to prove he was alpha cat. She, of course, mostly thought it was a game, but by the end of the night she was moving into submissive posturing. He's more than four times her weight, so I think it's pretty easy to establish who is in charge.

We separated them for the night after about an hour of play. In the morning, when we let Biscuit out of the office again, she walked up to Gany, touched noses with him and walked on. Now, they're hanging out in the living room together calmly. It's far better than I could have expected. She's still going to challenge him and try to catch his tail from time to time, but it seems like he's accepting her despite her high energy level. We are very pleased.

We also built them a kitty jungle gym from Target. It's cheap and plastic but has levels to help establish hierarchy. I'll take pictures once they're playing in it regularly.

As far as the Iris shrug goes, it's "done," as in the pattern is done. However, I think I'm going to pick up around the bottom and turn it into a cropped cardigan because I have so much yarn left. I did start on the Mason-Dixon knitting bathrobe in teal CotLin over the weekend. I've been bad about taking pictures of knitting however, since I've been struggling to catch pictures of the cats in a still moment. This bathrobe is not going to make for very interesting photography either, what with the feet and feet of stockinette. I'll put up something soonish. Maybe.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Icarus and Biscuit

So, first to get the knitting content out of the way. Yes, out of the way. Today there are more important things.

I finished blocking my Icarus shawl last week. It took up the whole guest bed. Although I did wear it to a wedding this weekend, I didn't take pictures. Too busy having fun. If I run across pictures that other people took, I'll link to them later. Until then, these blocking pictures will have to suffice. I really, really loved this pattern. It's simple but has enough "real" lace action at the border. At my age, I don't really rock the all over Shetland shawls yet, but this is just modern enough. The yarn is lace weight Misti Alpaca, which is soft and warm and even protected me from the bugs in Maine. for the best part of today. B and I went to the APL. It took two trips for a final decision, but in the end we went home with a three month old kitten. Her tentative name is Biscuit, because she seems to live for making biscuits (you know, kneading with her front paws). We knew we wanted a young female cat because we already have a three year old male, and that's supposed to be the best combo as far as resolving territory disputes go. We also went with a three month old instead of a two month old since we wanted her to have a few defensive maneuvers in her arsenal when she heads off against Gany.

It's a good thing we had to pick a female, because it would have been impossible to pick out of all the little boy kitties. After we'd picked out Biscuit and were waiting for her to get her FELV/FIV test, we went and played with the guys we knew we couldn't take home. I found a little orange dude who licked my nose and posed for the camera. I found a little orange guy who licked my nose and made me want to take him home. But I was strong.

Right now, she's confined to the office while Ganymede gets used to her scent in the house. He's a little skittish and on guard already. We'll slowly introduce them to each other over the next week or two. She's spending a lot of time playing under the bed with her new toys. As she gets used to her surroundings, she'll probably become easier to photograph. She's learning to climb, and soon she'll be sitting in the windows like Gany, looking for birds and chipmunks.

And maybe someday I'll have a picture of her and Gany cuddled together.

Note: Biscuit sleeps in her kitty pi! Hooray!!