Friday, October 27, 2006

World's Best Chili

I'm a Texas girl at heart (though relocated). I grew up eating various forms of chili, and I love most of them. Sometimes, though, people attempt to pass something off as chili and it's just NOT. For example, this deplorable vegetarian product didn't actually contain enough chili powder to taste like anything but canned tomatoes with beans. Bleh. On the other hand, this turkey chili had a very hearty flavor, and was perfect on an organic beef hot dog. However, these canned varieties are only good in certain situations, like in a dip or on a hot dog. If you want a hearty bowl of chili, you have to make it yourself.

I love this recipe. I start with the basic ingredients from my Betty Crocker cookbook recipe, then tweak it. I'm a spoon-by-the-Crockpot kind of chef, tasting and spicing, tasting and spicing. Delicious! So, without further ado, my chili recipe (modified from Betty Crocker):

1 lb meat: ground beef or turkey is okay, but I prefer stew beef (it's more like steak chunks)
1 large onion, chopped (yellow onions are good)
2 cloves garlic, crushed (I use the kind in a jar)
1 tablespoon chili powder (to start)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cocoa powder (key!)
sprinkle cayenne pepper to taste
sprinkle Tabasco sauce to taste
1 can (16 oz) diced or chopped tomatoes (NO seasoning!)
1 can (16 oz) kidney beans (I prefer Ranch Style Beans)
1 chopped bell pepper (green or red)

Cook the meat, onions, and garlic in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Throw in Crock Pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Turn on Crock Pot to low/medium, cover, and cook all day. Taste periodically and add more chili powder, cayenne, or Tabasco to taste. If it's too hot or too thick, add a LITTLE water at a time. As water cooks out of the veggies, it will thin out, so don't add much. Serve in bowls with cheese (if you like), chopped onions (if you like), or over pasta if you're from Cincinnati and are totally weird. Serves around 4-5.

This recipe makes fantastic leftovers. The spiciness will dissipate, so when you microwave it, you may want to add Tabasco.

Note on spiciness/heat: I prefer my chili with a slow burn. I want to eat 2-3 bites before I start sweating. I do NOT want to cry when I put it on my tongue. Other people have different preferences. If you want no-heat, don't add any cayenne or Tabasco. The 1 tbsp chili powder gives it flavor, but shouldn't add much in the way of spiciness. Even my husband can eat this chili, and he's a weenie (sorry, sweetie!).

This recipe is easily modifiable to vegetarian (leave off the meat, and add zucchini and/or tofu) and is easy to double. You could use a stock pot on low/medium on the stove all day in the absence of a crockpot.

PS: Yes, I grew up in Texas (though I don't live there now). Yes, I put beans in my chili. You don't like it, don't eat it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

This Makes Me So Mad

How DARE Michael J. Fox exploit his illness in order to push support for stem cell research? I mean, after all, he should just LIE BACK AND SUFFER, since God has punished him with Parkinson's disease. Pro-life decisions only apply to embryos and fetuses, not 45-year-old men with four children to raise and support. I mean, he was OBVIOUSLY faking his tremors and mask-like facies in order to garner sympathy votes! The same with that Christopher Reeve--he should have just lain in bed and accepted God's disdain, instead of driving around in that unnatural wheelchair contraption campaigning for stem cell research. My man Rush Limbaugh has hit the nail on the head with this one: it's a huge liberal "deception" to push for "cures that don't exist", and "the idea that certain people because of their victim status are allowed to enter the fray with impunity is something [he is] not going to subscribe to". Just because we feel sorry for someone doesn't mean we should take what they're saying seriously! Just because Fox is up there shaking away doesn't mean that Parkinson's is so bad! There are perfectly good drugs for Parkinson's--give you a few good years, and then you should go meet your maker like a good boy. And all this talk about "adult stem cells" versus "embryonic stem cells", it's all baloney. A stem cell is a stem cell is a DEAD BABY. Period. End of discussion.

This senator wannabe McCaskill, for whom Fox made the FAKED ad, is all about killing babies to make stem cells. See? This Ballot Initiative, even though it forbids making an embryo just to destroy, and bans human cloning, is CLEARLY a threat to our nation's unborn. The current Senator Talent is CLEARLY in tune with what Americans want (he supports whole-heartedly Bush's recent decision to fence the Mexican border), and even though he never mentions it on his website, I'm certain that he wants what is best in the way of medical research in adult stem cells. I can sense it.

And just because the three candidates Fox has campaigned for are Democrats, don't be fooled. He'd campaign for a Democratic monkey because he hates Republicans. I mean, the guy running against Rep. Cardin in the Maryland Senate race, Lt. Governor Steele, has likened embryonic stem cell research to Nazi experiments--clearly this Steele is a candidate who is stable, in control of his emotions, and also in tune with the American people.

Damn that Michael J. Fox. He should go shake somewhere else so I don't have to see it and think about how horrible Parkinson's disease is. And this whole stem cell thing is probably a pipe dream anyway; it'll never work to cure Parkinson's.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Yay, I got reviewed!

The very kind Mark at Blogs of Medical Students has written a little blurb about my little blog here, and basically compares me to an unedited, X-rated Dr. Gregory House (with whom my aunt seems to wish I could procure her a date).

This brought something to my attention: I have a dirty potty mouth. I've known this for years. The problem came when I entered the pediatrics rotation and I suddenly had to clean it up. But why, you might say, did it take the peds rotation to make you clean up your mouth? Surely it is always unprofessional to curse at work, regardless of the rotation you're on! To this I reply, you are indeed correct; however, my first rotation was surgery. Surgeons are the most uncouth, foul-mouthed group in the whole hospital. One of my attendings would end a particularly difficult or nasty case by saying: "Well, y'all, this is about like that ol' fox, makin' love to that skunk. He said, 'I think I've had about all this good stuff I can handle.'" No curse word was too dirty for these dirty old men, especially the trauma surgeons.

Pediatricians, on the other hand, are a little nicer. Smoother around the edges when it comes to their language, perhaps. There were no F-bombs in morning report in pediatrics; no "oh, shit!" when the intern failed the 14th freaking time to enter the subarachnoid space during an LP; there wasn't even cursing when there were no patients around (of course, when there were no patients it tended to be "just us girls", but still, haven't these ladies ever seen Sex and the City??). It was a striking difference.

Here's a conundrum. If pediatricians don't curse, and surgeons curse a lot, then what about pediatric surgeons? I've been told that pediatric surgeons tend to be the foulest-mouthed of them all, or at least the ones at our hospital are. Apparently, all the jokes were sexual, to the point where a fellow female classmate felt sexually harrassed. I wonder if the pedi surg guys just need to relieve the tension, or if they're overcompensating for going into a less "manly" type of surgery than, say, ortho. (Whenever I think of orthopods, I think of The Todd and smile).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I'm like, sort of, an author! My post was accepted for today's Grand Rounds at Health Care Law Blog. The post in question is located here. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, October 23, 2006

I'm Such a Tweaker

I found myself sneezing violently earlier (something in the air?) and my lightning-speed reflexive action was to immediately shut my nose down. Or, my nasal turbinates instantly swelled shut and I could no longer breathe out of my nose. Damn. Sniffling, blowing my nose, and speaking in my oh-so-sexy stuffy nose voice, I decided it was time to take some medicine. But gasp! We were out of pseudoephedrine. Loratadine alone would simply not do; I needed some real power to unblock these nares. I took myself to the local CVS and priced out the goods.

Here's where I get in trouble. Pseudoephedrine is not only an amazing vasoconstrictor and nasal decontgestant, but it is also an ingredient in home-made crystal meth. My great state has decided that the way to stop meth heads from buying this dangerous chemical is to limit its sales to a certain amount (6 grams or two boxes), put the stuff behind the pharmacy counter, and make law-abiding citizens show ID and sign for the drug. I'm torn about this legislation: meth is a nasty, nasty drug, with absolutely zero beneficial properties; but I hate feeling like a druggie when I go buy my allergy medicine. I'm also uncertain about how effective this legislation will be in cutting down on crystal meth (although the senator who pushed this law had very high hopes). This article on makes it sound as though a large portion of our crystal meth comes across the border (although I'm sure the home-brewed variety is common as well.)

I'm a nervous talker and a nervous giggler. Therefore, when I go to get my CVS brand pseudoephedrine, I can't just be cool and say "yeah, I need that one, please." No, I have to start sneezing and sniffling like crazy, saying stuff like "man, I can't breathe out of my nose." Out of curiosity, I almost asked the checker how much I was allowed to buy, but I decided against it. In my Gap sweater over button-down shirt and corduroys, I'm sure I looked like your standard meth head, but I still got so damned nervous! This happens every single time, too. I start commenting on how lame it is to sign for the stuff, and how bad my allergies are. One of these days a paranoid clerk is going to call the cops on me and I'm going to have to sniffle on him to prove I don't use meth.

This is Truly Awesome

At this link, I found an article about an OB/Gyn department which switched to all shift work and not only survived, they thrived. It makes so much sense, instead of different teams rotating different days, Team A signing out A patients to Team C, who then has total care of them for the night in addition to Team C's own patients. I think continuity of care is FAR better preserved under this shift system than under the current rotating call system. Another fascinating fascet of this particular program is that they focused on efficiency to make it work. No more 9 am clinic starting at 10 because patients weren't in the room until 9:45. It's amazing! This website has some real horror stories, so I'm glad to see that someone, somewhere is actually working to try to make positive changes.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


For the past week or so, I've been browsing medical blogs to avoid studying for my dreaded (but now completed) pediatrics exam. I've seen the occasional poorly written tome, but for the most part my fellow medical writers are very well-spoken. One thing some of my favorite bloggers have done is incorporate articles into their blogs, sort of an internet book report show-and-tell type of thing. Yes, I realize that makes all of us huge nerds. That fact didn't keep me from feeling totally inspired to do something similar myself, so from now on I will try to review articles on here that might be interesting to someone other than myself. No clinical trials of one ACE inhibitor compared to the new "pharmaceutical company's losing the patent so they changed a hydrogen group on the compound to get a new 7 year patent" drug on here, though. I'll try to keep it sort of not boring.

Like this article I used for my CAT during peds. At my school, a cat is not a feline, but a "critically appraised topic". I had to dissect this article to shreds, pointing out the study groups, the statistics, and... I'm even boring myself with this discussion. The article, however, was fairly interesting.

Apparently, the belief has long been held amongst pediatricians that breast milk will make a baby smarter than the average bear. The first study of breast vs. formula was done in 1929. Since pediatricians love boobies, many studies have been done on this topic, most showing an advantage to the breast milk. One thing none of these studies seemed to adequately account for was the intelligence of the mother compared to the intelligence of the kid. IQ is highly heritable, so it stands to reason that smart moms have smart babies. As it turns out, this study shows that smart moms tend to breast feed in addition to having smart babies. One arm of the study compared sibling pairs where one was breastfed and the other formula-fed and found no difference in intelligence. The milks alone did not make smart or dumb babies. The main reason I cared about this article is for the women who choose to feed formula or who cannot breastfeed. While breastmilk obviously offers many advantages to a baby, later intelligence is NOT one of them. Apparently, there are still pediatricians who will guilt-trip a mom over this issue.

(Der G, Batty GD, Deary IJ. Effect of breast feeding on intelligence in children: prospective
study, sibling pairs analysis, and meta-analysis. BMJ Der et al. doi: 10.1136/bmj.38978.699583.55)

Now that I've sufficiently bored all 3 of you who read this, I'm going to bed to enjoy my weekend with NO SICK KIDS. None. Not a single one. It's awesome.

Hangover: An Interpretive Blog

My eyeballs crack open this morning. The throbbing above my left eyeball makes me shut them again, and hide behind a pillow. Oh geez. How many drinks did I have last night? I had two beers. TWO. Thinking about beer makes me queasy, but I can't help but rail against my fate. TWO FUCKING BEERS. I even had a large bottle of water in between beers, and way too much pizza. Damn, that was good pizza. Ugh, pizza, I might throw up. Shit, my head really hurts. I roll onto my left side and discover the throbbing to be less. I get out of bed and stagger into the living room, gripping my forehead, to ask my husband to bring me some orange juice and to tell him that I need a big freaking hamburger and fries NOW. After gulping the orange juice, I lie back down, groaning every time the dog jumps on me or I mistakenly roll onto my right side. Oh, no. I'd always heard that orange juice was good for a hangover, but I forgot about my sensitive stomach. Now actively wishing for death, I crawl to the bathroom and lie on the cold tiles until, finally, the orange juice exits my body spectacularly. Instant relief. After crawling back to bed, still moaning every time I even THOUGHT about moving, my beloved hubby came through. He had already brought me orange juice, then walked the dog for me even though I'd said I would do it (I lied). He then drove across town to bring me Beck's Prime, handing me a glorious container of french fries right when I thought I would die right then and there. One fry went down easily, so I reached a pale shaking hand out for a second. Damn, that salt was so good. After a few sips of life-restoring iced tea, I inhaled my 1/2 lb burger and the rest of the large fries, gulped down the 2 3/4 lb tea (that's honestly how they label them), took my ibuprofen, and rejoined the human race.

I may still be wearing my pajamas, but at least I'm alive. Pediatrics is now OVER and at least I had fun last night before I died this morning and was resurrected by an enormous hamburger.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

This is some funny stuff

I would have said "shit", instead of "stuff", but for obvious reasons "urine" would be more appropriate. It's a blog post by a female urologist on why some male patients prefer a female urologist to a male. This is the stuff of legend, boy.

What Am I Going to Do... The Sequel

So a lot has happened since I made this post in July. I've been splashed with urine, for example. I've stuck my fingers in butts. I've snuggled crying babies and then held them in a vice grip while an intern jabbed their backs with needles, praying for the "pop!" that would signal that we had (finally) reached the subarachnoid space. Babies don't like that. I've been slapped by sleeping children whom I must wake to auscultate. I fell asleep standing up in an OR. I witnessed open brain surgery (last week, and SO FREEKIN COOL). Missed a lot of meals (although you wouldn't know to look at me--I think my body's in survival mode, and is packing on the adipose for warmth), missed a lot of sleep, and generally smelled rank at times (in public).

So what have I learned from all this?

a) I don't wanna be an intern. All of the above complaints are NOTHING compared to what the interns suffer. One of my interns is 8 months pregnant and she cannot get any sleep on a call night. On post call days, the interns (and residents) routinely get out by 2 or 3 pm, having shown up at 5 or 6 am the day prior. That's a leetle bit longer than the 30 straight hours rule. Our interns were so nice to us, letting us eat, pee, and sleep. I think either they remembered what it was like to be a student and yearned for those days, or they wanted to soften our hides before we ourselves were subjected to the brutalities of internship.

b) I have a real problem with the sad stories. We already knew this. (When I have my classroom month in November or December, I'm going to go seek professional help yet again about all this, so someone other than my husband can watch me cry about the little ones).

and c, the moment you've all been waiting for, is my updated
Goals in Life

I had a free moment in the school computer area the other day and started poking around on the school's 4th year scheduling options. I went through the electives and started looking at stuff I'd like to do or *might* be interested in. Here's what I've come up with:

Heavy-weight contenders:

Ob-Gyn is still high on the list, as is Infectious Disease (although I'm not sure what they do, besides running around saying "What a cool, multi-drug resistant bacteria you have! Here's a nice toxic antibiotic to treat that with."). Recently dropped from the list: Peds and Med/Peds (which, for some reason, is pronounced "Peeeds", not "ped" like "med" or "Mister Ed" or "Keds" the shoes). Goddamn surgery is still on the Heavy Weight List. Recently added to the heavy weight list: Urology, ENT, and Ophthalmology. I'm not sure if I'm extremely interested in any of them, but they do offer some aspects of surgery, specializing, lifestyle, and happy cases. We'll see--I'm going to examine each one to see how they fit.


Medicine, Psych, Neuro (I FUCKING HATE NEURO), Radiology, Pediatrics, Med/Peds, Cardiology (ugh).

Unknown entities:

Anesthesia--everyone tells me I should do anesthesia. I have no idea why. It seems kind of boring to me, honestly.

Gastroenterology--not as nasty as I'd initially thought, and colons look cool on the inside.

Derm--perhaps boring, but also immediately rewarding in some cases.

Pathology--man, those pathologists are the happiest, friendliest, smiliest group in the whole hospital. I'd love to have that little responsibility for a living patient's well-being (well, not really).


And there you have it. I love procedures, love working with my hands, don't like rounding so much, enjoy some clinic time (but not all the time), LOVE the "fix it now" immediacy of surgery, and don't like really really sad stuff.

Does anyone else occasionally think I'm in the wrong profession? It's still not too late to be a bus driver again--Metro is hiring at $12/hour!

It's a Bad Idea

It's never wise to tell a pediatrician "Oh, really?" when she tells you your child has been hospitalized too many times for severe asthma attack (kid = 3, hospitalizations = 4). It's also not wise to tell that pediatrician, especially one who is PASSIONATE about asthma, that you continue to smoke 1.5 packs per day, but cannot afford your child's daily medication, which is partially how she ended up in the hospital in the first place. (Let's calculate this, shall we? If a pack of Newports cost around $4.00, then at $6.00 a day that's $42 a week, $168 a month. 30 containers (1 month supply) of Pulmicort nebulized corticosteroid, the drug this little girl really really needed, is $149 at an online pharmacy in cash.)

It's even worse to tell a pediatrician you couldn't even quit smoking while you were pregnant with this child.

Of course, maybe it's not such a bad idea, because most pediatricians (including this one) are too nice to up and KICK YOUR FUCKING ASS.

Monday, October 16, 2006


I just spent the entire afternoon wrestling with this mighty, mighty blog. You may not see much in the way of changes, but believe me, they're there and they're proud. I was mostly trying to improve navigation around the site, but apparently that's nearly impossible in old Blogger. For example, I tried everything in my very meager HTML skills (and exhaustive searches of expert bloggers' blogs, AND the google group for blogger help) to get the archives page to show up when you click the (new!) link to a post's title, in case you want to read the next post or an archived post without having to go back to the Home page. I couldn't do it. Apparently, I'm going to have to switch to Blogger Beta to do such a relatively simple thing. Oh well.

Several hours of sweaty blogging later, I have achieved a few simple links, some sarcastic remarks, and listed my blog on Google sitemap. All of that just to avoid studying for the peds exam.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


And much to love to my college football team, who upset their opponent today in one of the best games I've ever seen. And thanks to the quirks of a call schedule that has 3 teams covering 4 call nights, I actually had time to watch all but the second quarter because a) it's a slow Saturday and b) there were 2 other teams to take patients. Now I will eat my Lean Cuisine Grilled Panini (chicken, spinach, and mushroom goodness) and read ESPN highlights of the game, because it beats the hell outta reading Case Files! Whoop! (ha, ha, ha)

EWWWWW Moment of the Day

*warning: disgustingness ahead*

Up here on the children's floors, there are an amazing number of bathrooms available. Bathrooms in every patient's room (which are all singles), staff bathrooms spaced abundantly throughout the halls, even bathrooms in the "Parent Sleep Rooms" which I would never, ever use, except for maybe once earlier today, but it was okay because I REALLY REALLY had to pee. Oh well, at least it was quiet and peaceful.

Anyways, I digress. The staff bathrooms are fairly clean, especially at the beginning of the day. However, as the day goes on, they begin to smell a little worse and a little worse. And by 7:30 pm, when I went in there, someone had left a small puddle of what looked like dried pee on the floor in front of the toilet.

If this were the first occurrence, I would have just said "ew!" and gotten over it. Unfortunately, this happens every single day. Every day, I have to watch out for my pants and shoes to make sure I'm not stepping in the pee puddle (especially since I'm short and tend to be stepping on my pants every day). This is the freaking staff bathroom. Have professional medical men (or women who stand up to pee?) not learned how to control their stream? It just seems to me (lacking the equipment to try this technique) that if you are a messy micturator, you should lean closer to the bowl to control the spray. Is this unreasonable? We already make men put the toilet seat up to pee, so they don't spray it; is it too much to ask that they not pee on the floor, either? Perhaps a diagram would work, with a little toilet bowl, and a peepee, and an arrow saing "pee goes in the potty", and a big X on the floor, saying "pee doesn't go here".

I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

No Quiero Ser Pediatra

So I think we've already established that I don't handle sad things all that well. I'd like to present the following cases to prove that either I am a huge wuss, or you have to be a lot colder person to be a pediatrician than I am:

1) I had a 15 year old patient who cracked his neck in a car accident this summer. After awakening from the surgical repair of his fracture, he couldn't move the right side of his body. Neurology came to see him and, salivating, delivered a diagnosis of Brown-Sequard syndrome. Neurosurgery ran about a million diagnostic tests to try to figure out what happened. In the end, both services said "What a fascinating case" and referred the patient for PT/OT. As his only therapy. He has gone to long-term rehab to learn how to function without the right half of his body. He liked to play sports.

2) I saw a young woman about the same age as the previous patient walking around with PT, totally blank.She barely responded when the other walkers told her to "turn right here" or "slow down". Only weeks earlier, this young woman was perfectly healthy when she began having seizures of unknown origin. Now, she does not appear to even recognize her parents.

3) My service has had a total of 4 kids with liver and small bowel transplant issues (3 are awaiting; 1 has received both, and is rejecting the bowel and has ruined this new liver). A common theme to these children is that they were premature, had some injury to their guts which necessitated gut removal, leaving too little bowel to absorb nutrients. Thus, these children have had their nutrition pumped directly into their veins as TPN since birth or soon thereafter, which has caused their livers to fail. One child, toddler-age, has suffered at least 2 central line infections since he's been on the service (3 weeks); he has also suffered several strokes in his short life, and now basically lies in his crib and cries if anyone touches him. Another child, 5 years old, is the size of an infant, and can barely speak, due to spending most of her life ill and in a hospital. Another, perhaps the most poignant, is now a teenager, still awaiting transplant. She told her mother the other day that "she was thinking about escaping from the hospital" so she could go home and eat pizza, her favorite food (at least she knows how to eat). Sadly, she only has one open vein above her heart, so she's now on anticoagulation so that vein will remain patent and she can remain alive.

4) A 2 year old girl came to the ER in the middle of the night and was admitted to the floor with fever, leg pain, and limp. She'd received a diagnosis of "cat-scratch disease" at a well-known outside hospital (apparently without receiving any diagnostic tests) 2 weeks earlier and been treated with antibiotics with no resolution of her symptoms. When I saw her, I saw a beautiful little girl, very pale, who barely winced when I manipulated a very tender knee and palpated some very large lymph nodes in her groin (she was the stoic type). Upon the recommendations of infectious disease, who suspected osteomyelitis or a septic joint (as did I), an MRI was ordered, which clearly showed a large lytic lesion in her femur, HUGE lymphadenopathy in her groin and into her pelvis, retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy, and a large mass on her adrenal gland. Tissue biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of neuroblastoma, stage 4. That beautiful little girl is now a cancer patient.

5) And last night, I got called to see a 15 year old girl, who likes to play basketball and is learning to drive a car, who had had a severe headache for a week, to the point where she was throwing up. Her family history of migraines had kept her out of the ER for a week, but yesterday she went. Whether the ER doc was CT-happy or actually suspicious, I don't know, but a CT of her head was obtained, which showed a "5 cm calcified solid mass in the cerebellum, with hydrocephalus and generalized edema." Further workup shows that she might have distant metastases. She'd been told there was a mass, but I was in the room when her mother asked point blank "Is it cancer?", to which we replied "Most likely." In the span of 12 hours, she went from being a healthy kid with a headache to a cancer patient with severe disease. Her family wept last night with guilt: "I thought it was a migraine, everyone in her family gets them, I should have brought her sooner." In radiology report this morning, the radiologist looked at her MRI and said "this doesn't look good." The neurosurgeon said "ouch" when he saw her CT. She will never drive that stick shift car or play another game of pickup.

Yes, I'm a wuss. I don't know how you don't take this stuff home with you. I couldn't sleep last night for thinking about this girl, watching her cerebellar exam deteriorate. I don't know what to say in the face of such suffering. I don't know how to handle it. It hurts me, and I don't know how to make it stop without turning away and ignoring it, which isn't my goal either. I know life is short, and there are no guarantees, and it's a stupid cliche to say "life isn't fair", but it's fucking NOT.

Ophthalmology and dermatology are looking better and better.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fat Kids Denied Soda at School

Go to CNN for the story. From what I can tell, President Clinton has met with some of the largest snack food makers to encourage them to make and sell healthier snacks at school. This follows the spring's decision amongst soft drink manufacturers to ban sales of full-calorie sodas at elementary and middle schools. Some critics have said that these measures aren't enough, but I think they're at least moving in the right direction.

That said, why not in hospitals or medical schools? The vending machines in the medical school offer pretzels as about their only healthy food option. Also, up until about 3 months ago, the healthiest thing I could find in the prepackaged section of the hospital cafeteria was Baked Lays, and that was only if you came in right after the Frito Lay guy had delivered them--they went quickly. The cafeteria has recently started selling the 100 calorie snack packs, which is how I became addicted to the Chip's Ahoy ones--100 calories of sheer goodness, let me tell you. But at 2 am, about all that's left are the Mrs. Baird's Cinnamon Rolls, which are approximately 1000 calories and 400 grams of fat apiece. Damn, they are tasty, though.

Many hospitals (although not the ones I work at) have actual McDonald's restaurants inside. Are the hospitals trying to create repeat business? I've always wondered.

I think I was trying to make a point, but I've derailed and all I can think about are Mrs. Baird's cinnamon rolls instead. Good thing I'm having homemade frosting with graham crackers (most important ingredient listed first) for dessert, to appease my ENORMOUS sweet tooth.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Banned Book Week

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, posted this to her website:

" Once again, the Harry Potter books feature on this year's list of most-banned books. As this puts me in the company of Harper Lee, Mark Twain, J. D. Salinger, William Golding, John Steinbeck and other writers I revere, I have always taken my annual inclusion on the list as a great honour. 'Every burned book enlightens the world.' - Ralph Waldo Emerson"

There you go. If a book is worth reading, some nut somewhere has banned it.

Woo girly fangirl gushy post

So guess who found out 30 Seconds to Mars is coming to town next month??? I've already purchased the tickets. Now to arrange my work schedule around the concert...

How to Vote in Texas

[Author's note: in 2006, Texas had an interesting gubernatorial election. I wrote about it, since I used to live there.]

So in all honesty I could care less who any of you vote for in November 2006. What is important to me is that you vote. As I was rooting around on the Internet, I came across some handy websites I'd like to share:

  • Locate Your District By entering your address and/or zip code, you can find out what congressional districts you live in, as well as who the incumbent is for that district.
  • Don't Vote Also a place to find your incumbent, as well as who they are running against.
  • Wikipedia Article on United States House election in Texas
  • CQ Politics, online (supposedly) objective political news source
  • How to Register to Vote in Texas: note that the application (available online) must be postmarked 30 days prior to an election (October 10th officially) in order to be eligible to vote. You can also register at most county or state offices, including DPS.
  • Early Voting in Harris County for those who won't make it on November 7. It shows you where and when you can vote early, including dates over the weekend of October 28-29. For an FAQ of early voting, go here. All registered voters in Texas are eligible to vote early in person.
  • Wikipedia Article on Texas gubernatorial (I love that word) election. This ought to be a good one, guys, so pick a candidate (out of 6!) and go for it

Why is it important to vote in this election? There are a lot of national Senate and House seats up for grabs, so the balance of power in the country is really subject to change. In Texas, the governor's race is at least 6-way, with good ol' boy Perry, tough grandma Strayhorn, soft-spoken Bell, Jewish cowboy Friedman, a Libertarian and a write-in. You can also write in your favorite Green Party candidate or yourself if you want to. The balance of power in the nation's second largest state is up for grabs. Strayhorn's decision to run as an independent has split the Republicans and the Democrats, so the race could feasibly go any of 3 directions. If the major candidates are too divided, Friedman could pull off a surprise victory. Crazy!

As I once saw written on a bathroom stall: "If you didn't vote, don't bitch about the election." Just vote, for fuck's sake.