Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Remediation Nation

I am in the throes of finals right now. Let me tell you what our finals week is like. Monday morning always entails two essays over a three hour block. In the afternoon we typically have some kind of lab practical. This unit it was mainly on chest x-rays and Acid-Base problems. Tuesday is a full morning of multiple choice exams for each course, and then we take the same exact exams in the afternoon, but with our small group. Its a way for us to get somewhat immediate feedback on how we did as well as a chance to talk through questions we may have missed in the morning. Wednesday we go to the hospital and see a standardized patient, which is to say, an actor who is acting out a certain constellation of signs and symptoms. After the history and physical you present the patient to your facilitator, who has been watching and listening to you through a one sided mirror the whole time. Then you write up a history, physical, assessment and plan for the patient. After that you have 48 hours to manage the patient's care. This includes ordering labs, tests, etc. Then on Friday we have an oral exam with a different faculty member about our management of the case, our understanding of pathophysiology, treatment, risk factors, patient education, follow-up, etc.

Normally I'm pretty good at most of the above. This week I am struggling. I walked into the patient room this morning and my patient interview/clinical reasoning skills apparently forgot to come with me. I can't give too much detail because some people are still testing throughout the day, but let's just say that there's a good chance I will be remediating my clinical applications class. I've never had to remediate anything as far as I know. I'm not gonna get discouraged about it. Instead I'll look at it like I'm going to get so much more learning and time with faculty out of my tuition money...its just going to require a bit more of a time commitment in the spring. (Insert bear growl of frustration).

In other news, Val has had a terrible sinus infection. She finally got put on an antibiotic yesterday because it started seeming more bacterial. Hopefully she will start feeling better by the time we leave town on Saturday morning for Christmas break!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Clue Coach!

Hi there. Sorry I haven't blogged in over a month! It quickly took a back seat once I left my job at the VA, at which I sat in front of a computer all day and was usually ahead of my work load. Since I started school in June, and seemingly until I finish in just under two years, I have not and will not be ahead of my work load! Nevertheless, I want to keep blogging on a regular basis.

I recently was inspired by a blog written by a post-doc at MIT who writes about time management. Basically he accomplishes way more than I do in a 40 hour work week. Outside of normal business hours he doesn't even check email, walk his dog, or work out...the latter two of those I don't do at all! Ha! Anyway, so I have this new process for my week in which I make an extremely detailed schedule and stay on task from the hours of 7:00AM until 3:30-5:00PM depending on the day. It has worked great so far, and I've found that it makes it possible for me to study things that I wasn't touching until finals week last unit. I think if it keeps working well I'll at least be able to blog once a week.

So things in North Cackalacki are going well. Val started her new job at a really great pre-school and Carver started going there, but is in a different class, which is good. She's running a triathlon this Sunday and I'm really proud of her. She wanted to do this before she became pregnant again.

I like school a lot. I think one thing I've learned over the last few years is that no matter how compelling, challenging, edgy, or inspiring my occupation is, there will always come a time when it becomes at least more rote than it used to be. I think its really important that I realized that, so I can expect it and do things that will kind of throw me off my routine. I've also realized that, for good or for bad, I am the type that is constantly looking toward the future. I've already started thinking about trying to find a job when I'm done where I could practice medicine at a teaching hospital and also teach at their PA school. The problem based curriculum at Wake is going to become more and more popular as time goes on, and I'm pretty good at it, and I think it would be a blast to teach. We'll see what happens.

In related news, I had my first ever co-ed intramural flag football game last night. As you know, there's a recurring theme in my competitive athletics life in which I mouth off, argue with referees, and generally overreact to all things competitive. I think I literally had something like 60 yards of penalties just against me for "illegal contact". But seriously, how can you protect your quarterback without initiating a little contact? Apparently my best Pouncey impression is just too spot-on. I was thankful when the spot-light finally shifted off me as my friend Ben told the ref he was just going to start "running them over", to which the ref replied, "You will not be running them over." I'm 28, Ben is 30 today. It has been 16 years since I first punched Brian Hendrix in the face instead of telling him good game. I think it's clear that I've learned my lesson, as I didn't punch anyone in the face last night. It turns out that all the time I was at my flag football game I was supposed to be in the ER, shadowing. That's a conversation with th efaculty I'mnot looking forward to today!

Well, off to learn about all things gastro-intestinal. Avoid Barrett's esophagus as much as possible. Its a doozy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Settled in

I know I haven't blogged a lot lately. For a while there before we moved I was on a role...but that was before I started school...well, this school.
Things are going great here. I have a somewhat regular week this week, except for a couple of big tests, and then next week we start was is called SPA week. SPA means Standardized Patient Assessment. On Monday we have a day of essay tests, Tuesday is a big multiple choice test, Wednesday we go see a standardized patient at the hospital. The next two days we are spent developing an assessment and plan and following up, and then we have an oral exam on Friday. I am very excited about this style of testing...but a little apprehensive!
Valerie is in Tampa for a week with Carver. Portia flew them down for a party she's throwing for Gary at the beach. After a really tough year for Gary and Portia they are celebrating their lives and loved-ones. I wish I was there! Plus they get to see the Dourtes...and I'm sad I'm missing out. The extra time for school is a real gift though.
Vinny came over from Windy Gap last week for a few days. He had taken Gainesville kids to camp and drove himself so that he could come see us afterward. It was so great to spend time with him. Its amazing how much more time I spend laughing when he's around. We went to see Inception which blew my mind. He also built us a chicken coop. We're getting chickens soon!
I better get to some studying. Chemo drugs. This unit included oncology, which both compels me to work in that field and also has me wondering if I could handle that long term. It also included dermatology. Do a google images search for cutaneous dermatoses and you will know why I am leaning away from derm.
Thanks for following my blog. I will try to be better about blogging! I promise!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Not really about anything

There have been a few times in the last few weeks that I've thought, "Will I ever have time to blog again?" Turns out I will!
PA school is awesome. I am really enjoying it, and last week I got a 100% on my pharmacology midterm! I was in a lecture when I got the email telling me that I aced it and was totally blown away. I wanted to jump up and down but all these folks are super professional and don't tell each other their scores...which is fine.
Life in Winston is great. We love our neighbors and our neighborhood. Valerie got an awesome job at the best pre-school in town, and we have two great churches that we really love.
I think the main reason I haven't been blogging is because I haven't been in the writing mood. That may have something to do with the amount of brain I've been dedicating to the rest of my day. I'm gonna say yes.
I have three more regular weeks of school, then a week of finals, and then a week off! This program is going to FLY BY! I am SO excited to become a PA!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekend in Gainesville

So this weekend we headed to Gainesville for Travis and Rachel's wedding. I was a groomsman. It was a BLAST. I still cannot think of an event that compares to weddings with your best friends...specifically dancing at weddings with your best friends. When the DJ stopped playing music, after disregarding about 30 of our really good requests (Fergie didn't even make one appearance) I thought about pooling money to get him to stay for another hour. We didn't, though.

Let me back up and tell you about the whole weekend.

We left the Dash straight from school at about 5:00 on Thursday, and stopped just north of Charlotte at a Chicken-fil-et. That new spicy chicken sandwich is gangbusters for real. So anyway, we get back on the road and about half way to Gainesville the car starts doing a hic-cup type thing every 5 or ten miles. It was almost like it was out of gas for a split second, and then it'd be fine. I called my dad. I still call my dad with all my man questions. Yes, I'm 27. But he's there, and he knows. Not calling him would be like not going to wikipedia if I wanted to know why flag day originated. So he says to put premium in it, and maybe change the fuel filter when I get to Gainesvegas. I did both (we made it to Gainesville). The car wouldn't start Friday morning and hasn't started since. It also got egg'd last night. At first I was like, WTF? Then I was like, when it rains it pours, and then I was like, "I was such a punk when I was in high school." I even helped my best friend siphon gas from his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend's car once a week in the high school parking lot. Kid deserved a lot worse though. I think my favorite part about our car not starting (yes, I have a very good attitude about it and have a favorite part) is that I got such good time with Dan while we tried to fix it.
In the midst of car trouble Friday morning, Carver had some out-of-the-blue asthma attack/allergic reaction to Tug (the Dourte Labrador). I've heard wheezing and stridor, and this was some serious wheezing and stridor. Val was at breakfast with a bunch of people. I gave two puffs of albuterol, which he could barely breathe in because of the airway constriction and crying (he is very interested in the inhaler until you smash it against his face.) We went on a walk with Noanie (Nana + Joanie). After about a half an hour he was much better. Then we took him over to PJs (our newly graduated PA friend), where he and Adam listened to his lungs, gave him some pediatric singulair, and C's been right as rain ever since.
The wedding, like I said, was a blast. About 3 years ago I didn't dance. Something changed one day and thank the Lord it did, because now I love least at weddings. I would say, though, that this DJ played a little too much traditional wedding dance music (NOW WAAIIIIIITAMIIIINNUUUUTTTEE!!!), and not enough Fergie, Gaga, K-C and Jo-Jo, etc. Nevertheless, it was a blast. The ceremony was wonderful, too. It is such a privelage to see Travis and Rachel get married. They are both my former YoungLife kids turned good friends, and they are truly in love.I know their marriage will always stay fresh and alive and growing. Rachel was beautiful, and wore the same dress her granmother wore when she got married in 1955. It was classy, timeless, and beautiful. Travis is always classy, timeless, and beautiful, so I won't mention anything about his attire. I am very proud of him, though.
So about the car...I ended up renting a car from Avis for $10 a day, because the need to get some cars to Winston, and out of Florida. As far as I know there are no elicit drugs in this deal...just a car.
So my folks came up today and we went to breakfast and spent some time with them. After they left I left and made it home (to W-S) in less than 8 hours. That will probably forever be a record because I doubt I'll do the drive alone again. (Did I mention Val and Carver stayed behind?)
So, tomorrow begins another week of school. I better get to bed.
Go Gators.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Poem Friday

And you thought I'd forgot! Nope, at least for this week I'm committed to Poem Fridays.
This is a poem by Wendell Berry, a great American author...and my favorite author. I have never read anyone that captures and articulates my feelings as well as Wendell Berry, and in my opinion he is the most relevant living voice we (the present world) could be listening to. This poem is from his book Sabbaths 2006. Read it out loud.


O saints, if I am even eligible for this prayer,
though less than worthy of this dear desire,
and if your prayers have influence in Heaven,
let my place there be lower than your own.
I know how you longed, here where you lived
as exiles, for the presence of the essential
Being and Maker and Knower of all things.
But because of my unruliness, or some erring
virtue in me never rightly schooled,
some error clear and dear, my life
has not taught me your desire for flight:
dismattered, pure, and free. I long
instead for the Heaven of creatures, of seasons,
of day and night. Heaven enough for me
would be this world as I know it, but redeemed
of our abuse of it and one another. It would be
the Heaven of knowing again. There is no marrying
in Heaven, and I submit; even so, I would like
to know my wife again, both of us young again,
and I remembering always how I loved her
when she was old. I would like to know
my children again, all my family, all my dear ones,
to see, to hear, to hold, more carefully
than before, to study them lingeringly as one
studies old verses, committing them to heart
forever. I would like again to know my friends,
my old companions, men and women, horses
and dogs, in all the ages of our lives, here
in this place that I have watched over all my life
in all its moods and seasons, never enough.
I will be leaving how many beauties overlooked?
A painful Heaven this would be, for I would know
by it how far I have fallen short. I have not
paid enough attention, I have not been grateful
enough. And yet this pain would be the measure
of my love. In eternity's once and now, pain would
place me surely in the Heaven of my earthly love.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Today is my last day at work. Did you know I blog at work? Well, if you're my future, I don't blog at work...blogs are for self-important post-college, pre-true-adulthood twenty-somethings.
Well, I'm super excited to not work here anymore. Of all the jobs I've had, this one seems the farthest from what "work" was supposed to be many millenia ago before we men-types were sent out to the east of Eden. The job that most closely resembled that old forgotten type of work was probably mixing and blending smoothies all those years...but still a pretty major stretch.
Anyway, we pack the moving truck tomorrow and abandon our roots here in Gainesvegas for a couple of years. I'm pretty sad about that part. I somewhat inadvertently think of myself as a leader, and so its hard for me to think of what Moe's Thursday will be like after we leave. And where will everyone watch The Office and 30 Rock...and is it fair for us to bring Bananagrams (TM) with us? Its not that I think I'm more important than other people...but who will fill the enormous void of terrible jokes and talking too much?
Here is what I'm pumped about, though:
My social circle consisting of Valerie, Carver and I,
Learning medicine,
Experiencing life outside of the colorful, lawless swamp,
Being an hour from mountains,
Living in a house again,
Finding hills to skateboard down.

OK, I have work to do. I'll see you later!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You should look at these photos

Energy Independence

Begging your pardon

OK, sorry about my last post. It may have been a little harsh...especially depending on YOUR opinion of immigration. I still stand by my opinion, though.
"...but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Opine and a poem

People rant and rave about immigration. Granted, I don't live in Arizona. Maybe the immigrants there are really hostile or something, but the ones here sure aren't. I wonder if those who rant and rave about immigration eat tomatoes or blueberries, or are descendants of American Indians. And if you do eat tomatoes and blueberries, are you really willing to pick them yourself...and not as a pastime on a Saturday but for entire days, making $10 an hour? Come to think of it, I bet 100% of Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants are more American than almost every American you know. A bunch of European descendants eating American food picked by American people and complaining about it. We all need to get our story straight if we're gonna cry "capitalism" and "closed borders" in the same breath. That don't jive.

False Documents
Nicole Walker

They ran the numbers twice for you
giving you the benefit of the doubt
but you knew the computer at the other
end of the officer’s PDA would not find
your brown number in its little black index.
You drove exactly one mile per hour below the speed
limit. You buckled your baby into his car seat according
to instructions. You signaled for exactly three seconds
before you turned left. You wanted to hide the Subway wrappers,
the empty box of Orbitz gum. Evidence of Big Macs.
You wanted to drink the Mountain Dew before it turned toxic
in the hot Phoenix sun as you asked, doesn’t this green
sludge make me American enough? But you didn’t
move because you knew the officer would have taken
that for gun-finding or drug-hiding or some other supposed
Mexican sport. You with your hands at ten and two
wondered how long the bus ride the officer would take you
on would last and whether they would provide any water.
You wondered, as the officer put hand to holster,
how dangerous it would be to down that Mountain
Dew then and there, in the wide-open American air.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


As a caveat, this post will not capture what I am feeling/thinking to a sufficient extent.

We're moving from Gainesville on Saturday. I moved here about this time, 9 years ago for school. Looking back, there is no way I could have written or hoped for a richer life than the one I'm moving from Gainesville with. This place, and our deep, broad, rich, and diverse community here has been like the roots upon roots in a forest might be upon soil, or vice versa. If anything I've learned over the last 9 years sticks out the clearest, it is community. Filial community can be, and has been for me, one of the most wonderful and sacred things in my life. If God is restoring everything to himself through Christ, and I know he is, and if that restoration means humanity will resemble anything close to the community I have had in Gainesville, we have no idea how deep and rich and good that restoration will be.
Wendell Berry, my favorite author, writes a lot about place. All of the valuable things in our life are intimately dependent on and crucially supportive of place. It is so hard for me to leave Gainesville. Not because of the Gators, or the weather, or living on campus, but because it has been the setting and home I have had while going from an 18 year old, lacking wisdom, assurance, community, etc. to who I am now, which I think is as different as can be.
I hope we are moving back here in two years. I hope Dan and Natalie are still here...or willing to also move back. I hope John Brantley's replacement is incredible, and that Jeremy Foley is still our AD. I hope Ron Kuykendal is still our priest. I hope Moe's still has the Big Moo.
Well, I just took a break to do something else, and am no longer feeling as emo about leaving. Anyway, thanks for reading. See you soon. Thanks for being a part of the rich, deep, and good that is my life.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Poem Friday

I've decided to adopt a routine for my blog, at least for Fridays...or at least this Friday. I'll write it in my planner for next Friday, and see if it becomes habit. Anyway, the following poem was written for Obama's inauguration, and when I heard it read that day I really loved it, and still do. The poet does an incredible job of ascribing worth to the things that make up the days of people like you and me, who may not see worth in our day to day 100% of the time. My favorite line is "the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables." What a picture of a family making it, whether they feel like they are making it or not. Well, I hope you like it too.

Praise Song for the Day
by Elizabeth Alexander

A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what's on the other side.

I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mustache Tuesday

Valerie and I were watching the Phillies/Brewers game on TV the other night and she asked,
"Are all the guys with something in their mouth dipping?" To which I replied,
"Well, if its in their bottom lip, then yes." And then she said something about how its crazy that you can do that while you play professional baseball. I had never considered it in regards to other professional sports before, probably because I grew up so immersed in baseball. My high school coach lit all of his forthcoming cigarettes with the one he was about to finish, while having a dip in. And then I came across this photo of Kieth Hernandez, clad with his 1980s soup strainer and a cigarette...during a baseball game.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Abandoning the Final Frontier and "Why don't we let the Russians bid on purchasing Louisiana?"

This weekend we went to Merritt Island to see my family before we move and to go to my cousin Tessa's graduation party. Incidentally, the Space Shuttle Atlantis had its final launch Friday at 2:20, so we left early to catch that.
I grew up in the shadow of the space program. My dad has worked at the space center since just after I was born, minus a few months after the Challenger accident in the 80s, when he got laid off for half a year. I played on an AAU baseball team called the Spacecoast Braves. I have always been extremely enamored by the whole deal...especially because my dad is such a part of it. We didn't make it to Kelly Park before the launch because most of the rest of Florida had the same idea, so Valerie, Carver and I watched the launch from the side of 528. It was awesome. Hundreds and hundreds of cars moving along at 20 miles per hour, and then at 2:18 or so we all pull over and watch the launch. I can't tell you how special it is to me that Carver got to see a launch, even if he won't remember it. One day when he is a little older I think he will be pretty awestruck that his grandpa was a part of such a program. I think its a real shame that the country that has always led the world in space travel, especially manned space travel, is giving up. Sure, a lot of money is spent on it, but it has brought us so many things we use today, including telecommunications, all satellite based technology, and thousands of products like Velcro. You can talk all day about the innovation of private industry, but the public won with the space program. Now we will pay $58 million to buy a seat for an American to ride up with the Russians, and have virtually zero ownership of current and future space station projects. This is like Lewis and Clark getting to about Nebraska and saying, "Meh, the rest is probably about the same. I'm sure there are no geysers or grizzlies, or volcanoes, or grand canyon, or salmon, or redwoods, or giant secoyas, or American hops, or the Salinas Valley. Let's just turn back. The price is too high to discover." They didn't say that, though! The other side of hard work is always worth it Mr. President! I know you know that!!!
Anyway, sorry for my bad attitude, its just hard for me to understand spending so much public money on weapons and defense and cutting a mission of human discovery completely.
The weekend was wonderful, though. It was priceless to see Carver at the beach. Its the first time he's been there since he started walking, and he walked into the waves with no fear. I loved it. I also loved seeing my family, and I'm so proud of the mature young woman my cousin is becoming. I am also dreading being so far from Ayden and Emilye. They better come hiking!

UPDATE!!! This day in history: May 17th, 1804, Lewis and Clark begin their exploration of the Louisiana purchase...a coincidence which superstitiously corroborates my opinion. But seriously, what a strange coincidence.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Black Gold

I think its time for us to analyze what’s happened, and what we might take away from this oil spill. Environmental regulation in general is seen as a restriction on business, and some would argue that it is antithetical to American ideals to restrict buisiness in any way. Well, the SWISS company that is responsible for this oil leak, which is equivalent to 1,633 5-quart oil changes per second, was able to win limited liability in a Houston court. This means that American fisherman, beachgoers, and gulf coast businesspeople of every type are limited to a total of $27 million in law suit money from this swiss company, or less than a percent of the real economic damages that will be incurred this year, not including the decades to come. The law that the company used as legal president was established in 1851, and was made to ecourage shipping in rough waters...not oil drilling in the gulf. Another interesting way to look at this volume of oil is that as of June 10th, we will have done the equivalent of changing the oil of half the personally owned vehicles in the United States, and dumping that oil in the Gulf. That’s 260,000,000 5-quart oil changes by August first.
Off shore drilling to get us off foreign oil, in this case at least, will cost America way more than another two decades of foreign oil. Rather than choose political sides and argue ideals that are based on vague perceptions of reality (we need to drill because there is no risk and this is Amurca), we need to look at numbers and facts...and the fact that this spill and its effects will never be financially worth off-shore drilling.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dust of the earth

As you know, I've long been troubled by the animosity between Science and Christian Faith, especially in their perceived conflict over how we are here...not why, but how. A long time ago I read a book called "The Language of God", written by Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project and current head of the National Institutes of Health, and Christian. It put my mind at ease. Well, he has kind of headed up a group that tries to bridge the theo-phylogenetic gap that has been existed since about the time of the Stokes Monkey Trial. Here is their website. It is quite a resource.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Misperception and Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions

For the sake of this post, let's assume that you, dear reader, believe in God, or that you at least have some perception of what the God of true Christians is like, whether real or not. What brings this up is that I think most people, Christian or not, have a certain perception of what God is like, and that this perception is not all correct, and is maybe way wrong. I think this is mostly due to the fact that authority on earth doesn't do a perfect job of being authority, and we ascribe our experiences with them to what the ultimate authority might be like. The only real, concrete idea we can trust of who the Christian God is, is through what the bible says...and it says things much different than how I think the world perceives God. I will list some things verbatim...

"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne."
"Love and faithfulness go before you."
"I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness."
He is "the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles"
Jesus is described as being "full of grace and truth."

The bible is full of this stuff. To me, it makes God sound more like a great husband or dad than anything else. I'm not trying to sound religious by any means, I'm just trying to be real here. What is our perception of God? I'm always finding myself doubting that God would want good things for me, or that he cares about my trivial needs a whole lot. But if my dad's goodness and faithfulness to me and my family is even an inkling of God's goodness and faithfulness to us, I think we'd be crazy not to pursue his love. I'm just saying people...I think we've got it all wrong most of the time. I think the best thing we can do is try to understand what God might actually be like. The foundations of his throne, the very framework in which he is God, is righteousness and justice? What if you could trust that your dad or boss or president's authority was completely righteous and just? That would be so freaking reassuring! Could it be that he is like a Father, but a Father who is truly right and just and faithful to us? I'm not attempting some back handed way to get you to become a believer. I'm trying to really challenge what it is you think about the God of the bible. Let's be real with ourselves here. If he's really that good, we need to figure out what keeps us from trusting him.

By the way, I graduated Saturday with my masters in Interdisciplinary Ecology. I feel really great and thankful about it. The ceremony was for all advanced degrees. If you get an advanced degree you get to wear a hood, and your gown has big wings on it. As we were waiting for the processional I couldn't help but whistle the theme song for Harry Potter. I was almost sure I was at Hogwarts. Gosh I wish I could go to Hogwarts. Anyway, there were so many times I thought I would never finish this degree. I mean, I really didn't think so. Hard work, I think, is always worth it when you get to the other side of it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

We're venture capitalists from New Hampshire

When I was about 10 years old around Christmas every year I "harvested" mistletoe from the trees in our yard and went door to door selling it. I think for 50 cents a piece. Pretty good deal if it gets you a kiss with your crush, right? And when I was home from college after my freshman year, working at Smoothie King, I watched these guys come wash our windows, which took about 8 minutes, and they got paid $12. When I got back to Gainesville that August I started a window washing company. My free smoothie intake went down but the time I spent at work did too. So all of this is to say that I've decided to "monetize" my blog. This just means that I'm allowing Google to post ads on my blog, and for every million visitors that click the ads I'll make about a penny or something. I'm planning on getting rich on this, obviously. So, don't be scared if an ad appears that is really related to whatever post you're reading. Google owns all the information in the world, including stuff hidden in your prepare your link-clicking finger and your spouse, because you about to start buying some ish online. Actually all of the ads will probably be related to pest control or mail-order meats, because the only real content on this blog has been about the time I got chiggers or about my thesis (its about meat). Who knows, maybe I'll include ridiculous keywords and see what kind of ads it brings...because up to this point my keywords have always been very related.

I've decided to find an athletic goal to put on my goal list. Yes, I had put half-marathon or olympic length triathlon on there at the beginning of the year...but I'm not sure if I'm up for 2 hours of running or that ridiculous swim.
Also, I graduate Saturday with my master's degree. I'm going to be a jen-you-wine scientist. One of my long term goals fulfilled...the fruition of a seed planted by 3-2-1 Contact when I was 5. BOOMFREAKINGROASTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

You probly think this blog is about you

From the looks of the box to the right, I've been getting a decent amount of visitors on the ole blog lately. I see you New Jersey. You too, Baton Rouououge (Strong Frenchy accent inserted). So I figure all you faithful readers deserve some more oftentude to my posting. Well, I'm done with my master's degree. That is unspeakably awesome. Hands down the most difficult thing I've accomplished...I think. I'm working on adapting the 120 page thesis to a 10-15 page journal article...which is hard so far. I can't tell you what a reward it is to be done though. Man. I'M DONE!!!!!!!!!!
I'm not sending out graduation announcements, but if I did, I would say something like, "In lew of graduation gifts, please buy my wife whatever she wants. She deserves the world." Because honestly, at least I had some control over how long and how hard this process was. She just had to be supportive and wait. Way tougher.
So anyway, whole point of the post...besides rewarding your frequent visitation with something other than "The road goes on forever..." I've been telling Val for months that when we move I want to have a new style...or a style at all. Right now I wear t-shirts a lot because of their utility and surface area, which is useful for slogans and trademarks and stuff. I got a v-neck at Old Navy recently for $2, and Valerie gave me a new leather banded watch for Christmas, so I'm two items into my new style...and then today we went to Urban Outfitters in Ybor, which I don't think I've been to before, and I was like, dang. I didn't get any new clothes, but we got a cool blue "S" to put somewhere in our new house in The Dash, plus an end table for $5. But watch out. For the first time in my life I thought, "I get why people like to buy new clothes so much." Next time you see me I'm going to be Surf Party USA...or at least our house will be.
More to come later, including video of our new house (rental), and Carver trying to whistle (see Facebook). He said "moon" for the first time tonight. It was very high pitched, like, "Ooooh look at the moooooon!"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The road goes on forever and the party never ends

Over facebook chat at 1:30 this morning, Chris James called me a reductionist...because I am almost a scientist. I was happy to remember that this is part of my whole problem...that I am not a reductionist. My degree is as integrated as it can be, and I cannot focus on one area without getting too interested in its peripheral areas...and then their peripheral areas. To borrow a metaphor, it is like a cow that chews grass, and moves, and chews grass, and moves...until he finds himself on the other side of a hole in the fence, near the road, and he doesn't know how to get back...and he gets so lost he just starts stealing chicken sandwiches from cars.
Anyway, the whole point of that is that I had an ad hoc committee meeting yesterday to discuss my results and conclusions. The good news is they are very exciting (the conclusions), the other, err, good news is that they want me to adapt my 120 page thesis to a 6-10 page journal article. Alas, I am not done. The ivory tower has many flights of stairs and a long long the scene in the Matrix when Neo and Trinity shoot up that lobby. Yes, C.J. and I facebook chat. Don't hate.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Couldn't have planned it better myself!

This weekend was incredible. Let me tell you about it.
My mom came up on Friday morning and watched Carver for us here in Gainesville while Val and I headed to Winston-Salem/ The Dash/ Winston, to look for a place to live, celebrate her birthday, and to just be on a trip together, without the sweet dude (This was one of Val's 2010 goals). By the way, my wife accomplished every one of her 2009 goals and is halfway through her 2010 list. I am not this type of person. I do, however, have a list of goals. If you look back far enough in this blog you'll find it!
Anyway, we stopped in Charlotte for Friday night and stayed at Melissa's (Val's great friend), and spent Saturday with Lauren and Nick, or friends from the Dirty Jerzzz. We went to an awesome place for breakfast and then, of course, went to IKEA. Isn't this what everyone does on their birthday? It was awesome to see Lauren and Nick. We miss them a lot!

We continued on to W-S, with the help of Melissa's GPS, which helps you get places while making you a dumber, more oblivious human being. Side note, we spent about 10 minutes Saturday night looking for Cha-Da-Thai (Thai rest.), because the GPS keeps saying we've arrived. We needed to look across the street. We ate at Bonefish when we decided the Thai place has closed down. HA!

Anyway, Saturday night we kinda scoped out the neighborhood we wanted to live in (Ardmore), checked out Harris Teeter to see how it compares to Publix (eh, it'll do for a couple years. Good beer selection. Did I mention N.C. gets New Belgium beers?) In fact, North Carolina places third in the nation for numbers of breweries distributing beer into the state. This is the opposite of Florida, which believes the best way to foster economic development is through a hodge podge state code that can't decide if this should be the colorful lawless swamp it should be or if they should regulate everything anyone thinks of...or lobbies for...and I'm pretty sure most of it dates back to prohibition...

Anyway, we ate at Bonefish for Val's birthday and then went back to the hotel, where we decided we'd go to this small Anglican church the next day (Easter). It's called Christ Church and it is very similar to St. Andrew's, our church. Well, we walked in about 20 minutes late and sat in the back behind a young couple about our age. The husband is about to finish med school at Wake and his wife, who introduced herself to us, is an IB middle school teacher (only IB middle school in the country). Nerd alert! They invited us to an Easter BBQ at some folks' house, which we stayed at until about 6:00 that evening! The priest showed up and brought some of his homebrew, which was great. Valerie and I kept looking at each other and not understanding how we already found a church we like (did I mention that we liked it?), people that are fun to hang out with, and I already have an interim brewing partner or two while we're in W-S. Could it get any better!

Well, it did. For the sake of brevity I'll just say we signed a 24 month lease (bargained down the rent if we signed a longer term) on a house we LOVED. It was built in the 20s but has been totally restored. It has a big front porch with a swing, 3 bedrooms, crown molding and beautiful hard wood floors, a big back yard, a new garage out back, and the street is lined with young families. I can't tell you how thankful we are!

We got home last night (Tuesday). Carver and grandma had a great time, although I'm pretty sure they were both ready to see us! Anyway, thanks for reading. Long post I know.

Oh, I forgot to say, we found a place called city beverage, which has the best beer selection in North Carolina. I took a video. Actually we took a bunch of videos on our trip, including one of the house, but I can't figure out how to get them uploaded to the blog. As soon as I can, I will. Until then, monomedia for you.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Changes in attitudes, changes in latitudes

Biggest news in the Stonerook clan...we've decided to change direction. I've been feeling for some time like North Carolina just isn't the place for us, and have been feeling really drawn back to that's where we're headed. For those of you who don't know, I spent two summers there during my undergrad education, working with smallholder farmers. We've decided that PA school wasn't the right fit for us, and we're moving just outside of Quevedo, Ecuador to start an eco-lodge/environmental education center/fish farm. I'm pretty excited, but also pretty hesitant. What do you think?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Boom? Roasted?

The important news is that I passed! They want me to make a lot of changes, which is kind of daunting because I forgot that is standard, and have to gear up for more work. But I can do it. WE can do it, people! I'm a bit mentally fatigued right now, and will explain it all later. But I passed. This is historic. Thank you, dear readers, for your silent but perceived support.

In all kinds of weather...

If I can boil yesterday down to one idea it is the "rain delay". I feel like I may be down by a few runs, definately on the visiting team, and its about the 6th or 7th inning. Good thing is, this team's got more heart than Valentine's Day, so...
Rest of the game takes place at 1:00 today. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Evidence Based Medicine

The most recent episode of Lost we watched (Season 2 episode 1), was ironically called "Man of Science, Man of Faith". Ironic because its tie-in with the following story.
So over the last week or so Valerie and I have had the worst sore throats we can ever remember having. Finally we got an appointment to see some Drs. yesterday. Same time, different physicians. My doc, a tall male resident just a few years older than me and with quite a few more pounds of physique and intimidating muscularity, inspects my throat and nose and asks me about my symptoms and concludes that, based on evidence about oropharyngeal infections (the "say ahh" region), it doesn't really hold water to prescribe antibiotics. I didn't have a white film on my throat (evidence of bacterial infection), and even if I did, it would only take a few extra days to kick even without antibiotics. In the next wing Valerie is seeing another resident, she is a tiny lady with a middle-eastern accent, who is very friendly and even a little apologetic, as if she was the one who got Valerie sick. She comes to the same conclusion about the etyology of Val's sickness (viral) but says she'll order a strep test anyway. Val does the strep test, which comes back positive. I'm in the room at this point, and after the physician's explanation of recurrence of strep infections, we have a 14 month old, etc. etc., we should be on antibiotics. After writing Val's prescription she walks us to my doc's office and says he should write a script for me, too. He says he'll see me in a room in a sec. So a few minutes later we go in a room and he has a piece of paper, which turns out to be a literature review about the efficacy of antibiotics on strep infections such as mine, and that evidence suggests that there is really no benefit to antibiotics. I am very impressed that he stuck to his guns. Did I mention he was all muscly-armed?

So now our house is the setting of a mini clinical trial. Val is on the amox and I am purely on my own immune system. We will see if there is any difference in progression.

If I forget to update you on this, someone remind me...unless you're not interested, in which case, keep it to yerself.

In other news, I defend my thesis tomorrow at 4:00. Eat less red meat. Eat more fish. Pray for me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

T-Rex doesn't want to be fed, he wants to hunt!

Oh frick! Carver look out behind you little dude!!!

(Photo courtesy of Miss America, paleontologist laureate)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Freedom is Free (100th Post!)

I was going to save my 100th post until I could use it to tell you that I successfully defended my thesis. I changed my mind. Over the last few days or so I have been feeling a pretty substantial amount of pressure while thinking win, win as I envision walking across the stage at my graduation. By substantial amount I mean it has been occupying my mind almost entirely. So, God gave me quite a freeing word this morning. I wrote it down on an index card at work. Here it is.

"If I do not successfully finish my thesis this semester, or ever, if I do not become a PA, or own a brewery, or a farm, if I never own a home or write a book, if I never have an audience, I will have been made in the image of God, I will have had His breath breathed into me to give me life. I will have discovered His kindness, His sacrifice for me, His forgiveness, His faithfulness, and His Holy Spirit that brings the Kingdom of God to us."

We do not have to be spiritually subject to the characteristics of the world that are broken. In view of the glory of God and His righteousness to us, I am convinced that our momentary troubles, however terrible they may be, are not worthy to even be compared to the goodness that is to come.

Update: "I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pigpen takes a bath

One of my favorite parts about the weekend is that Carver still wakes up at 6:30 or 7:00, even though the rest of the world is sleeping in. This is also not my favorite part sometimes, but I really delight in being the one that gets up with him. We're both big time morning people. Much of this may have something to do with the reocurring theme of the act of drinking coffee making me feel real awesome about things. Anyway, this morning Carver gave me two unsolicited kisses, and that made me feel like the king of the castle. Right now his head is in a big plastic pitcher from the pantry and he's yelling. The hearing test lady from the hospital when he was born would be disappointed. She recommends wearing ear plugs like 8 hours a day or something.

So I haven't gone about earning my masters degree in the most orthodox way, so far. I could write a book on how this whole thing has gone, but about two months ago I wasn't sure if I'd ever finish. Now I think I'll have my initial draft, ready to defend, sent to my committee by this Wednesday. I honestly don't know what it will feel like to not have this thing hanging over my head anymore. I don't remember the last time I had the feeling of not having something enormous hanging over my head. Sometimes I would compare it to the dust cloud around pig pen, but instead of dust its residue of academic shame and pressure. Doesn't that just sound terrible? Wow. Well, in any case, I AM SO FREAKING CLOSE TO BEING DONE!!! I will bet anyone $83,000 that the day I finish I will be the happiest guy in America. Anyone.

So anyway, seeing as how I'm a morning person and I have about 60-80 hours of work to accomplish, it would probably be prudent for me to go write...not blog. Maybe next time I post I'll be getting ready to defend my research. When I started this blog I think I was about a year into it. Crazy huh?

Oh, I just remembered what my original reason was for blogging this morning. So Carver, Valerie and I have been sick. Some kind of sore throat, congestion, etc. type thing. Naturally Carver did not sleep great because he's sick. At 5-something this morning I went into his room to give him his pacifier (he had been crying), and the neighbors are tapping on the other side of his wall, like, "Hey 1 year old, you're keeping us up...please quit crying." Before they tapped I was about half asleep. Immediately I woke up completely and thought, who in the world knocks on the wall to get a baby to stop crying? Definitely my least favorite thing about apartment living is worrying about noise and neighbors.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Aubrey Michelle

I am now an uncle of three! I have an (almost) 11 year old niece whose smile is just like my sister’s, a 6 and a half year old nephew who I want to go on adventures with every day, and a brand new, beautiful, eight and a half pound niece who was just born last night. Her name is Aubrey and I love her. I hardly know her, but half of her is the most incredible man I know other than my dad and the other half is my faithful, honest, and beautiful sister-in-law, Natalie, who seemed to harness the redemption of labor and delivery for womankind with her strength, confidence, and peacefulness through the whole thing. I can’t even express how proud I am to be family with these three.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guinea Pig

I am not up at 4:55AM because of my one year old, or rowdy neighbors, or insomnia. I am up because I would rate the pain level in my shoulder at 99 out of 100. As many of you may know, I am a sucker for giving back to science via being a guinea pig for research trials involving humans...and a sucker for the cash it pays. Among others, I have earned $300 for taking one dose of a diabetic medication (I am not diabetic) that had not yet been tested on humans, or a placebo. $200 for taking laxatives, or a placebo. $1,000 for going a month without and vitamin B6 and eating only bagels, jello, buttered pasta, and egg burritos for the whole month. And now I am being paid $160 to take part in a shoulder pain study. Day one they run me through these pain tolerance tests, and then have me work out my dominant shoulder until it is totally fatigued. Then the next four days I do the same pain tolerance tests. It turns out somewhere between 36 and 48 hours after the shoulder workout you experience the worst muscle soreness you've ever felt. And that's saying a lot considering I had rabdomyolysis about 2 months ago from trying to keep up with my brothers-in-law in a workout of push-ups and pull-ups. So, now I am awake because the pain is keeping me up. Did I mention I can't stretch or take any anti-inflamatories?
Sorry for the griping. I had to tell someone, and I didn't want to wake up Val. The good news is that I have been in the control group for all of these studies, which means I don't have diabetes, constipation, a B6 deficiency, or shoulder surgery.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Of goods and sundry

Well for starters, its Friday! This weekend is what is being called by many "man weekend". A bunch of us are headed to Chase's farm house to ride 4-wheelers, play football like B. Favre and his friends in the Wrangler commercials, and shoot clay I told Danny I'm going to shoot him with bird shot from a fare distance away. I missed this weekend last year. Well, I wouldn't say I missed it exactly, but I wasn't there. Carver was just a week old at the time.

By the way, Chase lives in The Sudan working for Samaritan's Purse. We get him for just a couple weeks a year...otherwise he'd have to pay taxes.

So for an update to my last post, all seeds of bitterness towards said employer have been burnt up in a fire. Now it is spring flowers. He makes all things new indeed. Amen and amen!

In other news, I am on a campaign to not feel older than my age anymore. I have been doing crossfit endurance workouts on a somewhat regular basis, and I am JACKED AND PUMPED ABOUT GETTING JACKED AND PUMPED BRO! AMIRITE?! POUND IT BRO!

And to really make this one of the most random posts ever, my 2010 list of goals, in no particular order...

- Run a half marathon or an Olympic length tri-athlon,
- get excellent marks in PA school,
- finish my thesis (this is by May),
- have normal cholesterol levels,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Life...or...Why I need the Gospel

The Gospel is hard. Or at least I should say, if the gospel means suffering with Christ, and allowing Christ to suffer for other people, then the gospel is hard. Over the last couple weeks I have been treated pretty poorly at work, and at least from my perspective have not been communicated with well or respectfully and have been somewhat misrepresented to the powers that be. At the same time I was cut to 20 hours because of "cut backs". The hardest part is not that we are missing half my income, but that if I am to live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ, I am supposed to forgive them. I'm supposed to let the perfect Messiah suffer in their place. If I don't, surely I don't deserve His suffering in my place.
The most striking realization I've had of this came Saturday night. Carver has been sick and was up almost the entire night, unconsolably crying. At one point I got so frustrated that I had to just set him down in his crib and walk away. I was extremely frustrated with a one year old who cannot control how he feels when he gets sick or his perspective on when the symptoms will end. If I can get that angry with my incredible, perfect son, I need the gospel more than any of you.
The gospel does not come down to making wrongs right, it comes down to the unjust being completely justified. This is why the world has a problem with the gospel. It does not fit well in our current system.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


There are so many ways to wonder about this earthquake and why something so unbelievably devastating can happen to someplace already so devastated. I am just mourning for Haiti. If you want to keep up with what my friends who live there think of what's going on, I'm posting links to their blogs below. We have no idea how terrible this actually is. If God is both good and sovereign we cannot fathom what His justice and final redemption of creation really will be like. I cannot imagine what goes on in a child's heart and mind in Haiti today.
Here are their blogs:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cold blooded blogging

That has to be the problem. As the temperature drops, so does the rate at which I write blog posts. Actually, I have just been really busy. Let me do you the disservice of "catching you up", which is to say, tell you what's been going on without giving you the interesting details.
Haiti was incredible.
When I got there I could not stop thinking about how amazed I am that the Americans that are there long-term are there long-term. It is a hard place. By the time I left I realized that i could be there long term if my family was with me. The reason I went, if you recall was to assess whether or not Lespwa could develope some kind of tilapia production system to either 1) feed the orphans and alleviate their anemia, 2) feed the orphans and the school's students and alleviate their anemia, or 3) feed the orphans, the students, and sell some fish to other villagers to help alleviate anemia, maybe create a job or two, and maybe start to develop a little economy in Mesaye. The highlights of the trip for me were: *being near/around orphans (expounded upon below)*, meeting the other people on the trip, wonderful friends that I wish I lived with on a cul-de-sac, perspective of life in Haiti, Haitian people, Creole, and the farm we saw that looked more like a farm in Cuba than Haiti. (Did you know Cuba has a really incredible agriculture system?)
Christmas was great!
I can't tell you how excited I was to get back to Valerie and Carver. We spent the days surrounding Christmas in Tampa. I am in love with Valerie's family. They have each become so special to me, and I love sharing the holidays with them.
For New Year's weekend we went to merritt Island to be with my family where we had our Christmas. It was awesome. We always make a huge deal out of the food, and no one dissapointed. Ayden got me ladderball and my folks got me a Wake Forest hoodie. I'm super pumped about both, but I'm kind of affraid to wear the hoodie around Gainesville because I can imagine someone just like me yelling out there car window, "Why don't you go there if you like it so much!?" And I'd be like, "Gators wear jean shorts!" And the guy would never know it was meant as a compliment.
Gainesville is great.
And cold! It may snow tonight! It is hard knowing this is our last semester in Gainesville for at least 2 years. I want to say that I am firmly confident that we'll be back here. We want to be in Florida. We love being in a college town. With that said, though, my other goal in the next 2 years, and in the next 60 years for that matter, is to do a better job of discerning and obeying what God wants me to do. He does put our desires in our hearts, though.
Well, I guess that's a sufficient catching up. I'd like to really get my thoughts down about Haiti sometime soon. It would be a shame to let any of what I experienced be forgotten. If you are ever interested in going to Haiti and helping out, this aquaculture project may eventually need some hands to get started.
For now, thanks for reading. I'll look forward to posting more this semester since I'm not in school full time.

(The orphans standing in front of a cargo container that was washed into the compound during the Mesaye flood on Sept. 7th, 2008.)
*As mentioned above, being around orphans was really challenging for me. Not challenging in the sense that it is hard to be around orphans, but that it challenged my perception of orphans before I went. In a few thoughts, they are very independent for their age. They have no one to rely on, so they make do...emotionally, physically, socially, and I'm assuming mentally and spiritually, other than what they get from the Americans that live there and their house mom. I love these boys. There are 12 of them, and it is so hard to look at each of them and realize that they do not have a dad. It is so unspeakably unfair that they don't get a dad. I cannot tell you how many times this thought went through my head while I was in Haiti. They are better off than most Haitian kids in their provision, because they are at this orphanage. But they don't have a dad or a mom, and that is and was so hard for me to process. The only place I can turn is to a deep deep aching and hoping that God is good, sovreign, and just.
By the way, if you would like an illustration for how God can possible be good, sovereign, and just in a world that contains orphans, read "The Man Who Was Thursday" by G.K. Chesterton.