Remember, no matter what you must clean up, you have earned that drink or candy or other treat. Enjoy!
Remember, no matter what you must clean up, you have earned that drink or candy or other treat. Enjoy!
Just before Christmas gift exchange, I heard Alton Brown discouraging the use and gifting of single-use kitchen tools. I also used to pooh-pooh such things, and some of the items discussed in his interview his interview truly perplex me (a square hard-boiled egg?). However, one such tool has a permanent place in my gadget drawer:
The main blade is all plastic. While it easily slices the skin and flesh of the fruit, you would be hard pressed to scratch yourself with it. The only metal pieces are within a cupped area. They are not sharp enough to cut skin, yet they grip the pit and easily twist it out. Finally, the plastic blades in the slicer easily cut through ripe fruit, but I cannot imagine anyone hurting themselves with it.
I used to dismiss these things as nonsense; I could use a chef's knife! Then, I cut myself pitting an avocado and ended up in the emergency room. My payment for that visit (not to mention the subsequent infection) would buy more than 45 of these tools. One of my nurses suffered a very similar injury this fall, also while pitting the fearsome green fruit. I gave her one of these devices.
We are worth it.
Join me in raising a plain red cup to the winter solstice and its celebrations in all cultures and communities.
To my friends and acquaintances in the southern hemisphere, fear not. You will get your winter in 6 months.
Looking for a great gift for a tween/teen girl? Or even someone a bit older (hey, I'm over 50)? Look no further.
I just finished Gail Carringer's Finishing School series. As noted in the first book:
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time.
Set in a steampunk version of Victorian England, the stories focus on Sophronia, a 14-year-old girl who would rather take things apart than flirt with boys. She gets sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality (always pronounced quali-tay), a school set in interconnected dirigibles so it floats above the moors. It rapidly becomes apparent that this is more than an etiquette academy. Soon Sophronia has learned how to use a well-timed faint to her advantage. She excels at fighting with a fan tipped with steel blades.
This being a steampunk world, homes and school have tracks laid for mechanical servants to roll about and do their jobs. These same servants in the school can help enforce curfews as well. In addition, the world is inhabited by immortals, including werewolves and vampires. The latter live in hives, with mortal human drones who provide a food source for the vampires. Werewolves also tend to run in packs and cannot float, so a werewolf cannot board the school. Becoming an immortal is not as straightforward as in the usual literature; transition to either species is difficult and often not survived.
In addition to the mechanical slaves, there have to be human servants. For the school, the giant steam engines run through the efforts of sooties, black youth who shovel coal and fix the riggings. One of these young men, Soap, becomes acquainted with Sophronia as she galavants about the blimp against all the rules. Can you see the forbidden love interest from here?
Conflict occurs and drives adventures through 4 books. The Picklemen want to rid the world of immortals by taking control of the mechanicals that serve society. Of course, Sophronia and her entourage save England from an ugly fate. Her colleagues include immortals, a girl who lives as a boy, and a mechanical steam dog.
These books provide a lively romp through an alternate history. I just love imagining all these proper young ladies learning the feminine arts while doing very untraditional things. I also greatly appreciate that Sophronia chooses a nontraditional lifestyle in the end, rather than the politically influential marriage that most of the spy-maids enter. I won't spoil the ending, but it is worth every moment.
These four books seem to close the saga. I really wish they didn't and we could go on with Sophronia's adult adventures.
I also believe that this series could be the next big YA movie franchise. Are you listening, Hollywood?
Drugmonkey has a series of vignettes he uses to launch a discussion of privilege and disparities in NIH funding. The first of these reminded me of a recent event in my own life. Briefly, it involves a guy with TSA PreCheck status who gets a secondary bag search and the dude is SO INCONVENIENCED.
If you fly more than occasionally, the TSA PreCheck rocks. You take your passport to a center where you get photographed and fingerprinted. After a background check, you are assigned a known traveler number that you enter when you book an airline ticket. The security line is generally shorter. You pass through a metal detector instead of the scanner. You still run your bags through the x-ray machine, but you can leave laptops and CPAP machines in your case, as well as your bag of tiny liquids. You still only carry on 3.1 oz bottles in a sandwich baggie, but you don't have to dig everything out and repack. You can also leave on your shoes, unless they set off a metal detector. I would like to thank Tory Burch for putting so much metal in the logo on my ballet flats that I still get to wander through barefoot. All things considered, my PreCheck status is well-worth the $85 I paid for 5 years of facilitated screening. For my travels, that works out to less than $1.50 per security screen.
This last return trip, my purse got a secondary search. They had looked at its x-ray for a long time, so I knew something had piqued their curiosity, but I had no idea what it might be. I had added nothing since my uneventful screening en route to Baltimore.
Here is the culprit:
Apparently they had not seen Louboutin's lovely lipstick before. It costs enough and it's new enough to make it scarce in the TSA world (it's clearly a symbol of my socioeconomic status and privilege). They handed it to me and had me show them how it worked.
I am glad that they take screening duties seriously, even though I am sure they felt a little silly making a fuss about a lipstick. The whole thing was pretty hilarious to me, and it barely slowed me down. Finally, I'm so grateful to not unpack laptop, liquids, and that damn CPAP machine that I can handle occasional nonsense like this event.
I hope the people Drugmonkey documents can learn a lesson from their experiences although I doubt that it happens. If you have not read his post yet, what are you waiting for? I'll even put the link here again, just in case scrolling up to the first paragraph is too inconvenient.
Life has been hectic for several months, full of changes and plans. As pressure built, I felt like something had to give. In my case, it was blogging. After all, I write here as a hobby with no financial reward. The police weren't going to show up if I failed to blog. Even though I use my real identity, I doubted that any readers would grab pitchforks and light torches if I didn't post. I was right about the lack of external consequences.
I was also wrong.
I have felt horribly burned out for a while. Focusing on full-time patient care is exhausting. I need to process thoughts and write to feel whole, even if it takes some time out of my day.
Thanks to everyone who still follows this blog. I look forward to being myself again.
I do not use all social media platforms equally. I have set some limits on how and who I interact with on different platforms as follows:
In other words, don't be insulted if I turn you down as a Facebook friend. I just don't know you well enough yet.
Yes, I am on G+ but I have no idea if anyone else is.
My daughter and her spouse decided to write their own wedding vows, something I generally think should be avoided. The length of her notes frightened me, but she said they would be perfect. She kept going on about sea otters, a favorite animal of hers (although sharks always come out on top), and how could anything with sea otters be bad. With her permission, I am printing her vows here:
Sea otters in the Northern Pacific eat, sleep, mate, give birth, and hunt at sea. They are the only member of the weasel family that can live their lives entirely in the water. At night, you can see a group, or raft, of otters holding hands so they do not drift apart while they sleep. They wrap themselves in seaweed to help keep themselves together. Like these otters I often talk to you about (daily), I give you my hand so we will never drift apart.
Ever since I met you, I knew we would be close. It sounds corny, but I knew right away. I have known you for almost half of my life...I did the math. We have gone to the mountaintops, seen the flat plains, and discovered the depths of the ocean together.
I promise to respect, honor and love you for the rest of our lives. I promise to love you in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, and for all the ups and downs. I also promise to be honest, faithful, kind, and to cherish you always.
Most importantly, I promise to be not only your wife, but your under-average cook; camping, kayaking, and fishing partner; your best dive buddy; and your companion always.
I can't wait to have the next adventure with my best friend.
The groom melted, and that's what matters.
Now, if I ever catch up with work, I will blog about science and medicine stuff!
I know, I say this often. I promise this will be changing.
The hummingbirds have headed south, so that shiny distraction is gone.
All my manuscript reviews have been submitted.
My daughter's wedding will soon be completed.
Blogging will once again become part of daily life.
Work-life "balance" has become a big issue in the circles of professional women. Can we have meaningful careers and families? Never mind that men do this all the time; society still expects us to run the household and nurture the children, even when we make six-figures. In various career circles, a couple of strategies have been suggested, including "Lean In" (build a career that lets you have the resources to do stuff) and lean out (making part-time work a safer career option).
Laura Vanderkam now presents her work with women making it work. She obtained extensive weekly time tracking sheets from 143 women earning at least $100,000 per year with young children in the home, showing their lives for 1,001 days. She included single mothers as well as those with partners. Some were self-employed while others were in hierarchical companies. What she found will surprise most readers:
By looking at a week's worth of tracking data, these women were juggling all the pieces of a complete life while averaging more than 7 hours a sleep each night. They were achieving in their careers and their families were not suffering.
The only criticism I can make is that this work definitely favors the "Lean In" school of life, although she includes women who took the other approach as well. Myself, I am a "Lean In" kind of gal.
I recommend that everyone read this book when they feel overwhelmed by their lives. I especially recommend it for male partners who expect their "women" to take care of the household. If you sign up at Laura Vanderkam's website, you can get her tracking tool and examine your own week. You may realize your life is not as gloomy as you think.