Monday, March 31, 2008

Looking at the world through gray-colored glasses

It's a gray morning in DC: light drizzle from low, flat clouds. Walking down L street this morning, everything was gray: sky, buildings, road, people. Oddly, I found myself really enjoying it - big, wide grin enjoying it - to the point that I was avoiding looking at the few spots of saturated color. Mackey's red bar-front, yellow umbrellas in front of Au Bon Pain, an orange car, these tried to disrupt my perfectly muted cityscape.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Time to retire?

I saw this week that Chris Webber is retiring, at the age of 35.

From time to time I've thought about professional athletes - the non-golfers, anyway - and how strange it must be for them to have to hang it up in their thirties. I remember being in high school and reading an SI with a cover story on Michigan's Fab Five, of whom Webber was one. Since then, in my professional life, I've gone to college, decided on a major, found a job, went back to school, found a job in a new field, and now think ahead to what, potentially, the next 30 or 40 years of that career might hold. Chris Webber has played basketball. Not to say that there is no more to him than ball, but he has been focused on that job the entire time. (At least, I figure he's been focused to compete at that level.) His entire professional life has been as a player, and now, one year older than me, that life is over, whether he wants it to be or not.

Maybe it's only a difference of expectations. Webber certainly didn't expect to play in the NBA until he was eligible for Social Security, and maybe he thinks, "My word, how strange that someone one year younger than me could contemplate doing his current job for another 30 or 40 years."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's good to be dad

Owen was having a hard time getting to sleep tonight. After the changing and the book-reading and the bottle, when alone in the dark, there was lots of crying. When I went in to try to calm him down, some holding and Happiest-Baby-On-The-Block-brand shushing (tm) was enough to get him to stop crying (even though he's supposed to be about six months too old for that to work anymore). Once he wasn't upset about being upset, Owen started squirming, which is his bedtime way of saying, "Geez, I'm trying to go to sleep, here. Why are you holding me? Let me be in my crib, man." OK, good, I laid him down on his back, but instead of of grabbing Sheepy (one of his three, rotating crib companions) to his face, he held on to my forearm and hand. After a couple of minutes, he turned onto his side, away from me, in a typical sleeping position, and shortly thereafter, I extracted my hand. I waited for another minute or two, in case another round of crying started up. And when Owen rolled back on to his back and opened his eyes, I thought, "OK, well what will we try this time?" But he just looked at me for a second or two, then turned back to the wall and fell asleep.

I'm still floating.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Puerto Rico

So it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged (again). But I’ve been thinking about a lot of different blog posts, hence the multiple postings in a 15 minute period. Travis and I had our 1st date last week since December! Mom and Dad came and stayed with Owen for a few days and Travis joined me in Puerto Rico.
I was there for a week for a work conference, which was great. The conference speakers were very interesting, I got to meet with research collaborators, and Puerto Rico is beautifual and have great food. I also got to teach at the hands on course that was part of the conference, which included teaching attendees how to freeze parts of the GI tract with CO2. Nifty.
Travis joined me on Friday and we took advantage of our extended date! Lot of good food, basking in the sun, and hanging out with friends.
I missed Owen a lot since I was gone for a week, but having some time with Travis sans-baby was great.

8 Month Update

Owen is 8 months old. He has more hair and is much more mobile. He now eats Oatios (organic cheerios). His favorite place to play is the kitchen, which has led us to create an Owen cabinet with Tupperware, water bottles, and large plastic utensils to bang. It’s made it much easier to get ready in the morning now that he’s happy emptying his cabinet. He’s 22 pounds and 27 inches long (at least at 8.5 months, when I finally got around to posting this). He babbles, army crawls around the kitchen, and rocks on his hands and knees. He has 2 teeth and now sleeps from 7:30 pm to 6 or 6:30 am (hope I didn’t just jinx us by typing that).

Best Medical/Biology Fact of the Day

There are more bacteria in the human body than human cells. This many bacteria = 100,000,000,000,000. Nice.

Sad News

One of the young internal medicine physicians at my hospital passed away suddenly 2 weeks ago. She had a headache and two days later was dead and no one really knows what caused it. Scary and sad. Prayers and peaceful thoughts for her family, friends, and colleagues.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Happy Birthday to Travis

Travis is 34 today, so now he's almost as old as I am!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monstrously late comment

So this is far too tardy to match the 24-hour election news cycle, but last weekend there were stories about an Obama advisor who got booted for referring to Hillary Clinton as a "monster" (off the record), with attendant shock-and-appall responses from both the Clinton and Obama campaigns.

We hear so much about the US Presidency being the hardest job in the world, being ready to answer the phone at 3 AM, etc. Couldn't we expect that individual to have a bit thicker skin? (And please understand, this is not a criticism of Hillary Clinton. This pattern is repeated innumerable times in any campaign.) Couldn't a campaign just blow this off, indicating a little more toughness and a little less political gamesmanship? "Oh that... yeah, we understand that an advisor to Obama made an off the record comment. Called Senator Clinton a 'monster', I think? Well, maybe she thinks that Senator Clinton is a tough character, maybe a little bit scary with her strength. Or maybe she said something dumb in the middle of a long, exhausting campaign. Or maybe she just doesn't like Senator Clinton. But really, does it matter? Do you really think this is the first time Senator Clinton has heard someone say something not nice about her? C'mon... Oh, but if you we're asking to check facts, no, Senator Clinton is not a vampire."

Even better would be if Clinton jumped out at the press corps, wearing a Frankenstein mask, saying, "Boogity, boogity, boogity!" but that's probably too much to hope for.

(Aside: I obviously don't understand what "off the record" means, if such a comment is immediately printed and attributed to the speaker.)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

What not to eat

I'm reading capsule endoscopy studies again (I'd put in a link to my previous rants/posts on the subject, but I don't know how). I learned some valuable info about Chicken n' Stars soup, which I used to really like growing up. The stars don't digest. Stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes, and 5 hours in the small bowel aren't enough to digest the stars. I know this because I spent 30 minutes watching stars, and the occasional bit of stringy chicken, travel through someone's digestive tract. OK, now I'm hungry.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The birds

I'm working from home today, and I just saw a marvel of nature.

I opened the front door to let Tex out. (No, of course, she didn't actually want to go out. She was just meowing at the door. And no, she's not the marvel of nature.) There was a flock of smallish, black birds down the driveway and across Ivy Terrace, making such a ruckus that I could hear them quite easily from our front door. Walking closer, I saw what had to be at least a thousand birds. Over a few minutes, most of them congregated on the ground in a backyard. That group of groundlings then flew 50 yards through some trees to some different open land. All the while, the birds had been chirping and chattering. Their calls stopped, all at once, as all of the birds took off from ground and trees. The sound of their wings was stunning: soft in quality, like a stack of frayed paper being ruffed, but loud in volume, because there were hundreds of stacks of paper, all around.

The flock redistributed themselves at the tops of trees around the Holler and resumed their calls. After a few minutes, they started to leave, a steady stream heading north. There were so many that the leaving itself took a few minutes. But then it was quiet and they were gone, black specks headed north, a few blocks or a few hundred miles.

It was a wonderful ten minutes or so. I was reminded of the cicadas in 2004.

Monday, March 03, 2008

What makes a little dude happy

We paid a quick visit to cousin E in New Jersey this weekend and had a good time hanging out with him and his dogs, Mabel and Maggie. The pups were, in fact, a highlight for Owen. He liked trying to touch their paws, though they were clearly unenthusiastic about the prospect. And he loved it when they wrestled. They did it a couple times, and both times he watched them in quiet amazement for a minute or two. And then he started to laugh, cackling with delight. It surprised me, because high-voltage hilarity is generally reserved for things being done to him: tickling, being tossed in the air, being carried up stairs. But just seeing something and laughing is rare. He'll smile at us, Carla, or a few favorite books - not necessarily in that order - but the only other time I can remember him really knocked-out amused by seeing something was when Tex leaped onto a ledge to get away from his grasp.

Mr O was also very happy to examine a VCR and a large candle-holder, as for a pillar candle, but sans candle, on a low shelf. Why the latter, when there were so many more dangerous objects around? Who's to say. The candle-holder had a reindeer motif. "Genghis loves animals," as we used to say before he was born.

Owen is a good traveler, but he seemed quite happy to get home. This also was a surprise. When he's returned from previous trips, I don't remember the sense of yay that he seemed to exhibit yesterday afternoon.