Monthly Archives: November 2009

Stopping by to say hi

I used to blog here, right?

I had company in town and a lot of social commitments over the Thanksgiving holiday. I have had a few ideas for posts, but no time to write them. In the meantime, in light of the total lack of any contraceptive coverage requirements in either health care bill, and the Stupak amendment, here’s a cartoon:

From In Contempt, hat tip to Alas, a Blog.

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Student loan debt

I wish the crushing effect of hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loans was showing up in the health care debate more prominently. In addition to universal coverage, non-profit insurance and governmental pricing oversight in every health care system that is more successful than ours in the United States, there is also government support of higher education, including medical education.

Every medical school that opens in my state, including my own, has something in its mission statement about increasing primary care providers for underserved areas. But, when a medical student is facing a decent single family home’s worth of financial debt, with interest, when she graduates, how tempting is primary care? As long as our model pays specialists more, and pays per procedure rather than for outcomes and other quality measures, students will have a huge incentive to follow the money.

As students at UCLA unsuccessfully fought tuition hikes, and everyone and her mother has an opinion about health care reform, student doctors are strangely quiet. We’re too busy studying for boards, trying to impress on rotations, and deciding which specialty will pay our bills.

I’m sick of hearing about trickle down economics, and how tax cuts to the rich and corporations are supposed to help drive success. How about funding university and graduate school? MBAs, law school, education degrees, science and technology, green technology, medicine, etc. Isn’t that what will drive the success of our country, not cutting a break to people who have already made it?


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Things that brighten my day

I have been having a frustrating time on different levels recently, and I found myself looking up various things on the internet to cheer me up. I am going to put them all here, so I can find them and watch them when I am having a rough day. And, if it helps someone else in a similar sitch, all the better.

I don’t know how to code it to do descriptions when you hover over it, so I will provide short descriptions underneath to make it more accessible to those who can’t watch it for one reason or another. If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read the text under each. This is an a cappella tribute to John Williams, the composer of the Star Wars theme, among many other movie themes. All the lyrics are Star Wars based. The singer is wonderfully talented, and the lyrics are very funny for any Star Wars geek. My five year old trying to sing this and getting half the words wrong, and not knowing the original movies for most of the themes, also cracks me up.

That is the “They are naked, and they do dance” skit from Monty Python’s Secret of the Policeman’s Other Ball. It is suitable for work, as long as laughing until tears are streaming down your face over something with no intelligible words is suitable for your work. They sing “Oom cha cha cha cha cha” over and over, and are wearing full suits, but pretend they are covering their privates with pieces of paper. It’s even funny without the sound, although the exuberant CHA CHA CHA!! at the end makes it for me. I may have to make this the representative Monty Python bit, even though I watched about an hour of clips with my 10 year old the other day. Watching his reaction and being able to share something like that with him was almost as fun as watching the Dead Parrot sketch for the 1,000th time.

A female farmer from Chad in a beautiful green dress, swinging a large stick that has been fashioned into a crude farming tool above her head, with a look on her face like she can conquer ANYTHING.

A female farmer from Chad in a beautiful green dress, swinging a large stick that has been fashioned into a crude farming tool above her head, with a look on her face like she can conquer ANYTHING.

Female farmers. This is a link to a photo series of females farmers around the world at Shakesville. I sent it to my mentor as a birthday greeting. These women are beautiful.

This is Weird Al’s White and Nerdy. It’s a bunch of inside nerd jokes, gangsta style.

Autotune the News cracks me up. They take the Autotune, which is the scapegoat of bad hip hop right now, and use it to take clips of the news, turn it into melodies, and use it to do a hiphop parody of recent events. It is total wonky fun. This one has some funny stuff about smoking lettuce (original footage from the floor of the Congress!) and lots of Katie Couric.

Where the Hell is Matt? I feel kind of silly explaining this well known internet phenomenon, but here goes. Matt dances. Everywhere. With everyone. It is breathtaking. The music is beautiful. The faces, smiles, and commonality of (almost) everyone shown renews my faith in humanity, for four minutes at least.

My son, at his 2nd birthday, covered in chocolate and joyfully feeding me chocolate cake

My son, at his 2nd birthday, covered in chocolate and joyfully feeding me chocolate cake

Chocolate, cooking, and my kids almost always can cheer me up.

Valentine's 2007



I took pictures of my older son every Valentine’s Day for a while, so we could make our own cards instead of buying ones with licensed characters (TM) on them.

Sarah Haskins! They’re all good, but I like this one in particular. Maybe because I really hate cleaning.

Here’s the site description: We all know women love to clean. But do you know why? Here’s the dirty little secret…
Sarah Haskins learns that life is more exciting with a little help from Dawn, Swiffer, Mr. Clean, Glade and Lysol.


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Damn damn damn

I’ve grown accustomed….no, just kidding.

No, it’s worse than that. I made 200 copies of my survey, my mentor distributed about 30 copies, and one was filled out by an obstetrician already.

Then, I figured out that there was a major error. A stupid, little, major error that invalidates any results from those copies. I have the scale on the first page of the obstetrics questions set as strongly agree = 1 to strongly disagree = 5. On pages 2 and 3, it is set to strongly disagree = 1 to strongly agree = 5.


So, the silver lining is: I wanted to do it as an online survey anyway. We discovered this while converting it to an online survey. So, hopefully only one physician wasted his time filling it out. And, may be ineligible because of retest bias issues.

I hope I don’t look like too much of a dork to these physicians now.

Grumble grumble grumble.

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Overheard in the hallway

Let me paint a scene for you all.

[In a medical school hallway, two academics greet my visibly pregnant cousin Susan, who has a history of anorexia prior to pregnancy that should have been clearly apparent to these people who work on the same floor as her]

Not Clueless Academic: (to my cousin Susan) How’s the mama? Lookin’ more like a mama these days!

Clueless Academic: (to Not Clueless Academic, in front of my cousin Susan) I can’t wait until that skinny minnie gets HUGE!!

[Close scene]



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OK, I can’t resist

I am supposed to be writing a lecture right now on anatomy and physiology during pregnancy. I learned some new terms:

souffle /souf·fle/ (soo´f’l) a soft, blowing auscultatory sound.
cardiac souffle: any cardiac or vascular murmur of a blowing quality.
funic souffle, funicular souffle: hissing souffle synchronous with fetal heart sounds, probably from the umbilical cord.
mammary souffle: a functional cardiac murmur with a blowing sound, heard over the breasts in late pregnancy and during lactation.
placental souffle: the sound supposed to be produced by the blood current in the placenta.
uterine souffle: a sound made by the blood within the arteries of the gravid uterus.

Huh. Who knew? A placental souffle. Since I heard about people eating their placentas and have cooked a few souffles (placenta free, I might add) before I heard this term used for the sound of the blowing murmur, I have an ewwww moment going on here.

And, I also just wanted to point out how problematic and difficult it is that most imagery for the medical discussion of the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy is really inconsiderate of the whole woman. I have given up trying to find images where the woman’s face and/or head and/or extremities are not severed and are either present or merely disregarded.

As it is nearly impossible and too time-consuming, I am giving up. I am using these kinds of images and discussing them in context, pointing out why they are problematic:

gravid uterus


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Wow, I am so happy I stumbled across the link to this video on the margins of another blog.

I have been talking a lot about nonbinary gender, or gender (and sex, for that matter) as a spectrum, to my midwifery students. It comes up in almost every class. First, I taught Embryology. Then, Neonate. Now, I am teaching Anatomy and Physiology of the Female Reproductive System.

I am going to send them the link to this video of a presentation by Alex Cannon of the Transgender Health Program.

Just glancing over the Transhealth website, I want to commend them for being accessible. The original site I saw this video on does not have transcripts, and neither does this discussion site. If anyone finds or makes transcripts of it, please let me know.

Also, feel free to check out Transhealth’s Clinical Guidelines for Transgender Care.


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Nice to find an uncracked pedestal

When I was a child, I had a book of Norman Rockwell’s illustrations art that I used to joyously pore over. I remember even doing a report on him for school, and I had to make sure he wasn’t too much of a commercial artist to qualify.

In my previous life before motherhood and medical school, I actually went to art school and was a portrait artist. I could never even begin to touch the hem of Normal Rockwell’s garment when it came to the emotional quality he could bring to his faces, much less his exquisite technical skill. I never, ever mentioned being inspired by him in art school, however. No one else mentioned him either. I was busy discovering other portrait artists like Francis Bacon and Sigmund Freud.

There is a Normal Rockwell exhibit at a nearby art museum, and I really want to go. I was listening to a story on it on my local NPR station (you guessed that I listed to a lot of NPR already, right?) and I was stunned and impressed by their coverage of his dedication to civil rights. I was also stunned and disgusted by their explanation why none of his pieces depicting civil rights for African Americans were ever in the Saturday Evening Post; they had an official policy that blacks could only be portrayed as servants: waiters, housekeepers, etc. This was in the 1960’s.

(Another example of very institutionalized racism, and why I had the “there is no such thing as a race card” this very morning. Before I heard this story.)

I am looking forward to seeing the exhibit, especially two pieces that I had never heard of until they were described on the radio this morning. It used to mildly annoy me when they did stories about art on NPR and tried to describe the works, but I am so happy they do, now. (Obviously, it is beneficial to the visually impaired, also). Here are internet versions of two of the pieces at the exhibit: (click to embiggen)


“The Problem We All Live With”

This piece depicts four federal marshals escorting a black six year old girl (SIX!) to school in Louisiana. All the white parents pulled their children out of the class, according to the coverage. There is a tomato smashed on the wall behind her, as if it just whizzed past her head. And, the N word is emblazoned, lightly, on the wall above her head.

The second piece they described: (click to embiggen)


“Southern Justice” (Murder in Mississippi)

This hair raising image depicts the shootings in Mississippi during the civil rights era. I am fairly sure they are the shootings that lead to the movie “Mississippi Burning”. Only the blood on one of the victims is in color, and the rest of the piece is in black and white. According to the radio story today, he actually purchased a pint of human blood to make sure his portrayal was accurate.

It’s nice to find out more about someone I love (and may have been a little embarrassed for loving) and be even more in love with them.


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I have been really busy lately and overwhelmed with various issues in my real, meat world life.

So, although I don’t have the emotional energy or time to write a full post, I just wanted to say a few things.

Stupak-Pitts Amendment? Makes me furious.

Obama administration’s and other progressive groups’ responses? Disappointed and furious, but not surprised.

What do I think of the chances of the health care (method of payment and abortion) reform bill passing in the Senate? Well, considering the Senate is less liberal than the House, we have “friends” like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson, and a pro-life Catholic majority leader in Harry Reid, I am not optimistic.

Oh, by the way, I highly recommend this book: The Healing of America, by T.R. Reid.


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I’m so stoked!

I have been invited to be an reviewer / contributor to the newest edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves.

I am going to be reviewing a chapter on anatomy and a chapter called “unique to women”. I am interested in seeing what that will include.

I am so excited!


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