Archive for the '[Etc]' category

My Privilege Triggered TSA Action

Nov 25 2015 Published by under Travel, Wackaloonacy

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:

Expensive but gorgeous; click to Sephora

Expensive but gorgeous; click to Sephora

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.

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Burned Out But Back

Nov 19 2015 Published by under Blog Maintenance

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.

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Social Media Housekeeping

Nov 02 2015 Published by under [Etc]

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:

  • Twitter:  Anything goes; this is where I hang out the  most.
  • LinkedIn:  If you want to connect with me, and you do not appear to be a spambot, I will accept your connect request.Some folks in industries not remotely connected to my own have provided useful and unique information.
  • Tumblr:  I do very little on this site, mostly posting photos of Pretty Cocktails. I haven't had a visually unique beverage in a while, so don't hold your breath.
  • Instagram:  Most of my photos end up on Twitter rather than here. You can follow me, but it won't be exciting.
  • Facebook:  I limit Facebook to actual friends - people I know from real life or have interacted with at various venues. I will accept as friends work colleagues because I consider them friends. I try not to friend patients; there are things we should not know about each other. I do have a public professional page that includes posts from this blog and other material I find interesting.

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. 

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My Daughter's Vows

Oct 26 2015 Published by under [Etc]

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!


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Long Time, No Blog

Sep 16 2015 Published by under [Etc]

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.

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What I Am Reading: Timely Edition

Aug 25 2015 Published by under What I'm Reading

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).

IKnowHowLaura 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:

  • Most of these women worked less and slept more than they thought
  • Family time approximated or exceeded that reported by more traditional mothers
  • Creative approaches to family time made this possible
  • Housework suffered most, either by accepting "good enough" or outsourcing as much as possible

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.


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Angry Birds

Aug 20 2015 Published by under etc

This week a wonderful article about hummingbirds appears on Slate.  For those of you unable to concentrate long enough to read this excellent piece, I will summarize:

Aztec origin myths aside, hummingbirds really are badasses. And there’s a biological reason why: Their lives depend on it.

The information in the piece only confirmed my patio observations. Last Sunday, I noticed that my feeder was empty aside from some dead ants. I noticed because a hummingbird hovered at it, then swooped by me. I know he wanted to tell me to get off my ass and get nectar out there.

So I did.

We then had at least 5 birds trying to make our feeder their territory. There may be more; they do not stay still to make counting (or photographing) easy, and several of them are the same type of bird.

King of the Feeder

King of the Feeder

I have identified the dominant bird of the past 4 days, shown to the right.

He is not the largest bird in the group, but he has successfully defended his quart of nectar. He spends much time perched on the feeder, sipping leisurely. If another bird approaches the spouts, he chases them off vigorously. At other times, he sits in a rosebush (just out of the photo frame to the left) and then ambushes the intruder.

Sneaky bird!

Despite his success thus far, he is not my favorite hummer in the yard, That title goes to the clever bird shown in the next photo.

Clever Bird!

Clever Bird!

Clever bird (to the left of the support pole) waits until King of the Feeder chases off an interloper. He then swoops in and feeds while the King is occupied. He gets chased off eventually, but only after a meal.

Of course, there are a couple of hummers that look like this guy, so they could be taking turns.

By yesterday, the King seemed to be tiring. He waited until intruders tried to drink, rather than attacking them as they approached the feeder. He also has done less defending from the rose bush, spending most time perched on the feeder itself.

These little guys are beautiful and fierce. Unless unicorns or dragons show up in the backyard, these little dudes will be the main show.

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My New Obsession: @ShoesOfPrey

Aug 12 2015 Published by under Fashion (or not)

Hot weather, blazing sun, a backyard pool, and cold beverages do not promote blogging. You will, therefore, understand how amazing this new site is since it got me to write about it immediately.

Have you ever imagined a perfect pair of shoes? The heels of one but the color of another, perhaps with an accent of reptile leather or leopard calf hair? What you imagine probably does not exist in stores, even if you have the money to purchase any designer out there.

Enter Shoes of Prey. This site lets you start with one of twelve basic shoe types, from ballet flats to stiletto platforms. You then choose from hundreds of materials to make exactly the shoes you want. In addition to varying the uppers, you can change the lining as well. You can add insets and accents and straps. Every single piece on the shoe can be a different material. The base prices vary with model, but they start at $129 for the ballet flats. With enough bells and whistles you could probably get a pair up to $300, but I have not gone there yet.

Needless to say, this can be a very deep rabbit hole to explore.

Designed by Pascale

Designed by Pascale

As a public service, I decided to try out the service. I had a pair of red ballet flats with some raggedy edges. I started with a basic flat and then chose a d'Orsay cutout on the instep. I added a pieced toe but kept it all in the same soft red leather. These beauties came today, and they are lovely works of art.

The site works in European sizes, and they recommended a slightly larger size than other conversion sites. The shoes fit perfectly, so I recommend taking their advice. However, if something does not come out right, the shoes are guaranteed with a 365-day return or remake agreement.

How can you go wrong?

Below is a video explaining more about Shoes of Prey:

Better yet, click on over and start designing your new dream shoes.


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On Further Consideration: What I May Be Reading

Jul 17 2015 Published by under What I'm Reading

GoSetWatchmanThis week Harper Lee's novel, Go Set A Watchman, hit the shelves of booksellers. The internet gave a collective gasp when early reviews revealed that Atticus Finch has racist views in this sequel, set in the 1950s. I know, because I gave one of those digital huffs. I could not believe that Atticus would be this way! I had no desire to read this book.

With further thought, I am reconsidering.

Racism does not have an on/off switch; it resides on more of a dimmer, with a variety of levels in between the extremes. I know* a lot of people who would agree that Tom Robinson got treated unfairly in To Kill a Mockingbird. They would agree that people of African descent should not be abused by others just because of the color of their skin. They also would not want "those people" living next door to them. They would express dismay when a professional sports team fielded an all-black starting line-up. They are racists, but not as extreme as the white jury of Mockingbird.

As I considered the bits included in reviews about "the new Atticus," I realized that he never professed to be a civil rights pioneer in Mockingbird. Readers really have no idea how he feels about African Americans, other than recognizing that Tom Robinson cannot have raped Mayella Ewell. Providing Tom's constitutionally-guaranteed defense does not mean that Atticus wants black people living next door or attending school or voting.

I will likely download and read Watchman in the near future. With current discussions of race, the "new Atticus" may provide more important lessons than our more heroic version.


*I may be related to some of these people.

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What I Am Reading: #GDIGFA Edition

Jun 26 2015 Published by under What I'm Reading

One of the plenary sessions at this meeting demonstrated the utility of Whole Brain(R) thinking.

Now, I assumed that I tried to use my whole brain most of the time, so I got the book, The Whole Brain Business Book, and read it en route to Puerto Rico. This model overlaps with a lot of other approaches to how we humans perceive the world, but it can provide a useful new frame for the problem.



Four aspects of human pattern preference occupy each quadrant of the diagram. The upper left thrives on logic and facts. The bottom left craves order and process. The lower right focuses on the human-emotional facet of things. The upper right is creative and big-picture. Many, if not most, people have a dominant quadrant. This doesn’t mean that we cannot appreciate the other perspectives; they just come less easily to us.

Many people have more than one quadrant that is relatively strong. The two upper quadrants are often found in inventors, scientists, and other creative yet data-driven types. The bottom half of the diagram, with its order and emotion, often finds professions like nursing supervisors. Those who favor the left side rely on facts, logic,and order, while those on the right tend to be idealistic.

As I read this book, I thought about the pharma booths I saw at recent clinical meetings. Ad agencies certainly know how to pull all of these perspectives into the show. Each booth featured big images, most often people living good lives with their disease (because of this drug, naturally). If not a patient image, some other emotionally charged picture appeared; fish out of water seem to be favored by pulmonary products. A tag line also dominates the big stuff, often with a message appealing to those D (upper right) quadrant folks: “Imagine a world without disease X.” Less prominent, but still big enough to catch the eye, are diagrams and graphs showing study results about the drug to start pulling in the left side of the diagram; after all, you have to get them close enough to take the reprints and package inserts that have the details they need to change their practice!

Like all models, this one cannot solve every problem of interpersonal communications. It explains a lot, if you let it. And Ann Herrmann-Nehdi put on a rollicking work-shop this morning where we all learned a lot.


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