Sunday, November 4, 2012


So, this has been an eventful weekend so far.  We climbed a mountain.  We half climbed a mountain anyway.  There has been talk at work about climbing a 14er, seeing as we have them scattered around here.  Half of the people from work had to drop out due to the storms out east and what that does for airline travel, along with some rescheduling, so we're going to have to give it another shot before too long for their benefit and hopefully for redemption from this half effort. 

My wife would like me to point out, by the way, that my expectations of what it would be like to hike a 14er were less than accurate.  We made it about 1000 feet up, which is halfway along the trail, but it's the less inclined half of the trail, and the next half would climb about twice what the first half did.  I also have a co-worker (who did not go) who insisted that we would need to bring more gear than we did, more water, more food, more warm clothing.  I cannot believe how heavy my pack was, and I believe I could have made it much farther without it than I did with it. 

It turned out to be Melissa and I, and a co-worker and her boyfriend, going up for the trip.  I started the day off with no sleep.  I was supposed to have friday night (overnight) off, which would have helped out with the hike, but it turns out they needd me in for half of my shift, so no luck there.  We had a decent breakfast and got all geared up and ready to drive out.  On the way up I realized I had forgotten to bring any sort of caffeine, and had no ibuprofen as well.  I have to thank my co-worker for remembering both. 

The trail from Guanella pass starts out pretty level.  You actually go down a lttle before you start heading up.  It gives you a little false security.  It was not as cold as I thought it would be, but I had an abundance of warm gear in my pack in case it was worse at the top.  It got cooler as you went up, but the exertion kept you warm, and even when we paused to rest, a coat was plenty. 

Then the trail got steep.  We pushed through that for quite a way, but seeing how much more we had to go still, I'm glad we turned back when we did.  It seems Melissa and I were certainly slowing the group, but in our defense, I think a lot of that was the heavy packs.  Even after we were done and back home, it was surprising how heavy the pack was, between the stuff I packed and the extra gear I stripped off and put into it when it became apparent I was wearing too much, when bringing it in the house.  At any rate, going down the mountain with the weight was much easier than taking it up. 

After we got down, we hit up Beau Jo's Pizza on the way back.  Two things to note.  When they ask if you mind sitting at one of the high tables, say that you do mind, unless you want the lack of service that comes with having the bartender for a server.  I also did not realize how uncomfortable a tall chair is after hiking for a few hours.  I would rather be able to reach the floor.  And second, it seems they take some time to make the pizza.  I don't know if the bartender took a while to turn our ticket in, or what, but it was 45 minutes before we saw food.  If you're hungry, as we were, maybe get a trip to the salad bar.  Melissa started gnawing on my arm, and there is a now picture out there of me making sad faces while eating the parmesan. 

Overall though, it was a good trip.  I want another shot at it, knowing better what to expect.  Maybe try it out soon here, once the stiffness and soreness fade, and before we get hit with too much snow. 

Good Barbecue

The following has been sitting as a draft for a couple of months at least (which means I could have just logged in and hit Publish when Bridget was giving be crap about not posting). I figure I should post it before I write this next post. If you don't see a next post within a day or two, know that it's in my drafts and I'm slacking again.
So, I made the best chicken thighs on the grill the other day. They were still mostly frozen when they went on, so I had to keep the heat low so I could thaw and cook them through, but it seems that just gave the charcoal and hickory chunks more time to do their smokey magic. Also, it meant we weren't eating until nine. This worked out well enough for us, but it was a little late for the in-laws who are normally in bed by then.

One of the best parts though, was when my youngest saw the bone from the chicken, and said, "a doggy bone!" We had to keep him in the room with us so he didn't actually give it to the dogs, but he liked noshing on it for a while. The next day when I warmed up and ate the last piece, he didn't have any interest, until he saw the bone, and made it clear that he wanted another doggy bone. I had to get it from him when he finished the chicken, and started to gnaw off the end of the bone itself. The man likes himself some barbecue. I'll have to see if I can interest him in a whole piece next time.

In other news, we are painting our house. The inside looked so much better by the time we moved in compared to when we bought it (thanks to all the family helping with that), but the outside still looks pretty sad. I've been pulling off some of the "extras" that litter the outside walls, the old house numbers, an old plastic thermometer, a whole mess of wires (all phone and cable were just ran around the outside of the house, and drilled in to make the jacks), and the ugliest railing I've ever seen, which had to be a good three feet deep, including a couple of feet of concrete. I wish the fence posts were so well set.
Just by way of update, the house looks much better with the new paint, but I still have got to get on the trim. I also have some landscaping that needs to be taken care of, but that's another project entirely.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Chemist

As of today, I am no longer an unskilled laborer, but a chemist. I now perform tests on body fluids, looking for drugs, or at least I will once training is done. Last night was my last night at the airline, throwing bags and pushing planes. It was 12 degrees when I left, and it was snowing, not just cold. Today, I started my new job, which for a change was mentally taxing, not physically. I'm sure part of the stress is just the result of working a late night at one job, and then starting a new one in the morning, but the vast majority is trying to take so much in at once. I have a new building, new faces, new names (names are always hard), and the procedures we do are fairly complicated, although anything is going to seem complicated by comparision to the old job. I think I got a fair amount down for the first day. I'm familiar with most of the machines we use, even if it will take me a little while to get the programs down well, and I have the basic procedure down, although it does vary depending on the drug we're looking for and the fluid we're looking in, and there are plenty of specifics I just don't have down well enough yet. Still, within a couple of weeks, I ought to be a contributing member of the group, rather than a drag on those who know what they're doing, and they say in about a month I'll likely be apart from the group I trained with, doing it all on the third shift (graves).

Monday, September 5, 2011


We've got a dog again. It's maybe a little sooner than I would have gone for, but MJ has been missing her dog for a good year now. I think it's been significantly tougher on her than it has been on me. He's six months old, so still has some puppy hyperness, and he's a big dog, an american bulldog mix. We got the brand of food that he was used to, and are working on switching him off of it to something less expensive and less foul smelling. His previous owner had him on one of those specialty brands that they try to oversell you at the pet store.

MJ's totally in love with him already. The kids are less sure. Chien-Po's pretty much good, just gets knocked over a bit. Bandit reminds me a lot of my sister's dog, Duke. He's just all muscle and so excited. The previous owner had a one year old and a three year old, and they all got along well. Dash, is significantly more concerned. He tells me that when he's older he'll like Bandit, but he seems to be more of a cat person.

Aside from that, our dog seems to be getting used to our house, and vice-versa. He's learning which toys are not his (most of them), and picking up basic sit, stay commands. We've also noticed a few allergy issues among myself and the boys. We didn't have any problems with Penny, who was also a short haired, frequently shedding dog, but it's been a while. I've had itchy eyes and the boys have had excessively runny noses. We're hoping that will clear up in a little while as we get used to having a dog around again.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fire Fire Fire

Well, the smoke detectors work. Not for detecting smoke necessarily, although I hope they're good at that too. The one in our bedroom decided it would start detecting air. seems we have air. The wiring that connects all the alarms together so that they all go off at once leaving us puzzled as to where the imaginary fire is coming from and how to shut the whole mess off works well too. Also, they are sufficiently loud to wake any occupants and/or send them fleeing from the building. Good times.

In other news, I've retaken my MCAT by now. I still have about three weeks before I'll know how I did. I'm hoping for better. I got a 31 last time, and on my practice tests this time around I managed a 38 and a 40, as well as a 32. While I suppose 32 is technically an improvement, I'm still hoping for something at least a little closer to 45.

I'm also looking for better work. MJ is a little stressed with work and all lately, and I can't blame her. They've got some changes going on that affect her department pretty significantly. I'd like to carry the full weight of bringing home the bacon, but that's just not going to happen with my current job. Among the various lab jobs I have been applying to, I've also started applying for emergency dispatch. It's not as related to my recent education as some of the other jobs I've applied for, but I was trained as an EMT at one point, have family in law enforcement, and I think, have a generally level temperament, polite but able to be forceful when needed. Also, as I found out today, the county I'm currently testing with offers a part-time, hourly position requiring at least 20 hours a month. There's a commitment I think I could keep up with even while in medical school.

So, that's my excuse for not getting around to blogging for a while. More than enough going on to keep me busy, but nothing big enough that I absolutely had to post about it. Maybe now that I'm not so busy studying for the test I'll actually post a few more things.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy New Year!

I know it's still 2010, but who am I kidding if I think I'll post anything else between now and 2011. I'm generally pretty busy lately, between the hours at work (Sunday I worked 15 hours, 19 minutes) and the two growing boys. If it weren't for a case of redbull induced insomnia (brought on by a single redbull this morning, and a coke tonight, I'm a lightweight sometimes), I wouldn't have time for this.

There's a lot that has gone on this past year which I haven't posted about, and most of it's been good. We've moved out on our own for the first time in our married lives. Finances take on a different tone whenever you're providing your whole livelihood, but "awesome" is not a big enough word to describe what it's like to have your own space for your family, so the added stress is worth it. Adding to the stress, my mother in law has to return to her former position at work, which means that she will not be working from home anymore. She has been good enough to watch our kids for us while we've been at work, and as she will no longer be able to do that, we've had ample opportunity to reconsider our current career choices, to see if MJ can get more flexibility in her schedule so we can do with less babysitting. It's likely that she'll be switching to part-time at the airport, and resuming her career as a massage therapist. That should give her greater flexibility, more pay for fewer hours, and get her back to doing something she's loved. We're still looking into it, seeing if it's as feasible as we hope, but it looks good so far.

I've had my first interview for medical school. It's the one I really want to get into, too. Acceptance would mean I can stay around here for the next four years, and from everything I hear or read, they've got a really good program, amazing equipment and facilities, good partnerships with a number of local hospitals, and a reputation for having a good, cooperative, uplifting student body. I felt pretty good about the interview day, and I loved the campus, but I know that for any applicant the statistics are against you. For the 2012 graduating class, 1132 applicants were invited to interview, and of those, 270 were offered acceptance. Many of them must have had more than one acceptance because only 156 took the offer. I'm more interested in the 270, since I just need to get as far as the offer, but that's still only about the top quarter of applicants who looked good enough to interview, that are accepted. I have never had any difficulty keeping in the top quarter academically, but this isn't the usual competition. I've heard that some people find out that they are accepted within a matter of weeks, but I believe the normal thing is to hear in mid to late March which of three categories you fall in. One is most likely accepted, the second you may have good chances especially if you rank towards the top, and the other, you just hope you have some eggs in another basket somewhere, because this one's not going to work for you. I have a few other eggs, but although I know I'll love wherever I go, I've got my sights set here.

In lighter news, the trip to DisneyWorld went very well. Much of that is already on my wife's blog, but there are a couple of things that she left for me. First, in Florida, they call a speed bump a hump. We had a few giggles on that one. That's right. We're mature like that. The other, is that Taco Bell officially has the worst toys in their kid's meals. First, here's the top view of the box it came in.

The text on the bottom of the box read, "Careful when opening, the box is part of the toy." I like to picture some executive in CrapToys, sitting at a desk and thinking to himself about how you can get a kid a toy, and he'll just play with the box. And then he thinks, "Eureka, I've got the perfect toy!" That's right, when you've got to save the box to play with, you know the toy inside's going to be good. And here it is.

We call it BoxHead, and it served the purposes of entertaining him in the car, for all of a minute or so. We're not sure what you're really supposed to do with it. The head, being a cardboard box, is a little fragile, and the desk is practically broken as soon as you put it together. It also came with a sticker sheet, although stickers don't really adhere to the box, or the desk thing, or the plastic body. Maybe it's the stickers that sucked, but if you really have to draw that line, try to figure out which part of the toy sucks more, the whole toy is crap.

Good trip though. We got to swim in the ocean and watch the sun rise while swimming in the ocean. We got to take the kids to Disney while they're still young enough to be free, and we got pictures to prove it to them later. Good times.

So that's 2010 thus far for me. looking forward for a couple more things before the year's up, the first Christmas on our own, and for anyone who's not up on current astronomical events (which included me until Sunday), today is Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest night, and about midnight, the full moon will be blotted out by the Earth's shadow. Sort of poetic and all. The last time a lunar eclipse coincided with winter solstice was 1638, so that's fun. I've been a little bit of an astronomy nut since taking a physics lab where the instructor gave a couple points of extra credit for anyone who went to this after school event by the astronomy club, and signed a sheet to show that we were there. The sheet actually signed us up for the astronomy club, so I got a few emails from them for future events, and I have since seen Jupiter and a couple of its moons, seen mercury cross in front of the sun (using a hydrogen alpha filter on the telescope of course), and sort of saw the eclipse in February 2008, but it was a bit cloudy. I'll likely be up at the in-laws, where there are no city lights, to see this one, so hope for clear skies.

Update: Scratch that eclipse thing. Apparently that was last night. Things I read said it was on the 21st, but I think they're just stretching to make the solstice thing fit. I go on today, and notice things are saying, "depending on where you live the eclipse will be either late on the 20th, or early morning on the 21st." Awesome. There's always the one on June 15th next year, if you're in eastern Africa, the Middle East, or India, and the one on December 10th, which should be going on here just before sunrise.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

So, I know I don't blog much these days (or ever), but this one is too good to not share.

Hacked Games Super Mario Bros - Watch more Funny Videos
You have to love the internet.

Want to play it?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Quality if not Quantity

I know I don't post all that often lately, but I just realized how little. I was collecting a few blog posts for I Write Like, and found one at the bottom of the front page from August 16th 2009. In nine days this post would have been exactly one year older than the one at the bottom of the page. I feel bad, but at least you are all getting quality if not quantity. It seems I write like Dan Brown, David Foster Wallace, Dan Brown, and Edgar Allan Poe in the posts Atheist, Haitian Orphans, Freakshow, and Skepticism respectively. I'm not actually familiar with David Foster Wallace, but I hear he writes like Dan Brown and Edgar Allan Poe, and he's got three names (each of which could feasibly be a first or last name), so he's got to be good.

There have been a few things going on. I have a job. It's not anything with chemistry, or a lab, or anything that's good for medical experience, but they do pay money, which I'm going to need if we want to get our own place any time soon. I just need to learn a list of airport/airline codes and acronyms. I'll be working on the ramp at the airport throwing bags. It should be a decent job for the next year during the application process, and MJ should be able to go to part time once I start bringing in the insurance.

The dog has been ill too. Penny's staying up at the in-laws where they are better equipped to let her run around the house and put her out in the yard after her twice daily treatment. My mother in law is great for helping us out with this. Penny has developed a swollen fluid filled cyst on her neck, for which she has been taken to the vet twice to have drained (this is not counting the time Penny scratched it open and it bled out on the deck right in front of my brother in law), and once to have it opened up properly so we can wash it out with a syringe full of betadine twice daily. We need to reopen the incision with the tip of the syringe, and irrigate. I've done it twice, once with MJ and the other with my MIL, who has been good enough to take it on so I don't need to choose between making the 40 minute round trip twice a day, or just living up at her place.

Also, I've got my application for medical school submitted now. I've got five letters from five professors, I have what I hope are good MCAT scores (although I won't really know for ten more days when they release them), and I've got the whole Summa Cum Laude 3.93 GPA (although AMCAS figures GPA differently, so it may be a little different). I've think I've talked up my personal experience section enough, but I'm relying more on my academic record and hopefully MCAT scores a little more than the previous experience. The five lucky schools I've applied to are University of Colorado, University of Utah, Stanford, Yale, and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. I've also been looking into the Caribbean schools, always popular as a backup, but it's a little tougher to tell what's good.

So, that's about all that's big going on, that and the boys seem to be waking up from their naps, so I'd better go anyway. By the way, this post is also a Dan Brown.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


So, the other day I was asking Jack-Jack what various animals said, like you do, and we got to the chicken.  I asked what the chicken says and he says "Mugget" (which means nugget if you didn't catch that).  Good times. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Creepy and Good

Amid studying for the MCAT, sending reminders and requested information to professors for letters of recommendation, and working on my resume and job search, I came across this oddity online.  
The guy makes drawings on post it notes, some of which are pretty creepy, but all of which have a nice style. 
By the way, Father's Day was awesome.  Nothing really beats spending a day out with the family, followed an evening with the wife after the kids have been put to bed.  It was a welcome break from the tension of trying to get one's life organized and moving forward.