Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tree in Bryce Canyon

Tree in Bryce Canyon
Originally uploaded by skron.
I did take this picture a few days ago. Bryce Canyon has to rate as one of the world's most beautiful places. More on how I spent my summer vacation (officially over next week) in later posts.
For now, I hope you enjoy the picture.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Greek plant

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006


MeSsedTuP is a humorous take on my previous academic training. Actually the acronym is MSTP which stands for Medical Scientist Training Program. We also used to say it stands for Maybe Someday To Practice. Today's theme has nothing to do with the above pictures. They refer to how I am spending my summer vacation. And my new-found ability to download two pictures to my blog at a time. Of course, I still haven't figured out how to move them around the page.

To begin (again). Well, around a century or two ago when I was young and idealistic, I had the honor of being accepted to the MSTP program. The MSTP is a federally funded program designed to create Medical Scientists. The theory is that students complete both an M.D. and a Ph.D. (somewhat) concurrently and therefore become ideally placed to become cutting edge medical researchers.

And why am I on a rant about something that I started in 1983 and finished in 1992? Because I have run into some interesting Blogs by women in science. Some are completing Ph.D.'s and some are junior faculty. I wish them all luck. And I admire their Blogging acumen. I have linked to two (another new Blog skill) but there are more out there worthy of attention.

The interesting thing is that I'm not sure I am a "woman in science" anymore. For me the "Maybe Someday To Practice" is descriptive of my current career choice. My work life since 1983 has gone more or less as follows: Ph.D. (basic science), M.D., postdoctoral fellowship (bio-medical), residency, medical fellowship, academic position, private hospital position, academic position, private practice. If my thesis advisor knew what I do for a living now, I think he would feel all his hard work wasted. But what about all my hard work? Was it wasted?

The answers depend on how you look at it. See, being a woman in science, I also have to listen to the old biological clock ticking away (in direct conflict to any potential tenure clock). Somehow I managed to squeeze into the above list, marriage (Ph.D.), first child (M.D.), spend time with first child before intern year (postdoctoral fellowship), see child on days when not on call (internship and residency), second child(fellowship, no more in-house call), raise a family and earn a living (all jobs since). Job number three made me decide against potential child number three--fatigue factor was too daunting.

Oh, by the way spouse is a "man in science"--now why does no one ever use that phrase? He managed his Ph.D. before marriage, skipped the M.D. and now has tenure. I am not trying to imply that he hasn't pulled his own weight (solo parenting while wife away on 24 hour call and zombie next day). I only bring it up here to point out how complicated it gets sometimes.

Anyhow, I'll leave you with this cliff-hanger ending. It's dinner time and I figure no one will read this Blog if it gets too long. Next installment, how I got out of science and into humanity. . . .

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mushrooms and fungi and slugs, oh my!!

Dorothy, we're not in Tuscany any more! Since the last time I blogged, I have returned home to Chicago, worked for a month and climbed back on a plane to Seattle. One can infer from this that I do not blog during work weeks and that I travel a lot. So what do slugs have to do with this?

Today, I am posting from the Pacific Northwest coast near Pacific Beach, Washington. This is a marked contrast to the beaches of Italy. For one, it is not hot, there are no crowds, no beach umbrellas and one is more likely to see a banana slug than a topless woman sunning herself. (I deny all responsibility for that free association). Fortunately the banana slug was willing to pose for a picture.

As I walked back from the beach today, I thought of naming today's blog, "This land is my land. . ." Not that I claim ownership. More that it owns me. These are the beaches that I grew up on. The water is numbingly cold and it is nearly impossible to get a tan. But I feel a sense of belonging on these beaches.

As a child, I used to backpack near here. At night we would camp on the beach and listen to the waves and the foghorn. During the days we would explore the sea stacks, climb on the piles of driftwood logs and look for agates and sea shells. One of my favorite memories is of finding a floating log in a small creek flowing into the ocean and spending much of a day poling it around.

Sometimes sharing these places and experiences with my own children makes me feel closer to this land. Other times I realize how far away I have moved. Today I learned that my younger son is afraid of kelp. How can that be? I guess we do not have kelp in Lake Michigan. I suppose kelp is a little slimy (but not compared to the above-mentioned slug), but it does have its charms. Did you know that you can make a pipe out of a large piece of kelp and blow on it like a ram's horn? Smaller kelp are fun to pop, like bubble wrap.

As elsewhere, sometimes people manage to spoil paradise. Some 15 miles from here is Ocean Shores. This is a small town with an incredibly long sandy beach. Since the beach is open to vehicles, from motor bikes to SUV's to campers, it more resembles the parking lots outside Disneyland than a chance to commune with nature. If any kelp are left on this beach, they have surely all been popped.

So don't come visit here, unless you plan on walking softly and parking well away from the beach. And bring a jacket and rain gear. You likely will need it.

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