February 19--a bloom between storms

I spent about 14 hours working on my proposal today. I forget what I said about it yesterday, but I am really brain dead now. I just submitted this second revision--one more to go before I have to present it for formal approval.

I was supposed to make a powerpoint to go with it, but I lack the reserves, and asked for a one-day extension. Tomorrow is a holiday, so I have some time to catch up.

I slept terribly last night, I woke up at 1:30 am and laid there until about 3. Then I fell into a fitful sleep with odd dreams. I got up at 6:30 and started in again on my proposal. It's pretty unusual for me to not sleep well, and I didn't stress about it--just accepted it as a stress response. I will sleep better tonight, and wake up at 8.

It is starting to storm again, and we are expecting a lot of rain overnight and tomorrow. I went out to the backyard for some air this afternoon and saw that my camellia plant decided to bloom. It sits under the patio overhang, so probably didn't know that it's not fit weather for blooming. Anyway, it gave me something to photograph today, since I didn't go anywhere except to walk to the end of our street to hack the closest Ingress portal, in the rain, while Malida was out getting me some shrimp tacos. I am at 181 days with continuous daily hacks. I got a medal yesterday. Whee!

  • Current Music
    Trixie Whitley--Porta Bohemica

February 18--Prevention or Delay

I spent pretty much all day working on my project proposal revision, which is due tomorrow night. I am anticipating working on it all day tomorrow too. One good thing is I found some new literature that fills a big hole I was having trouble with. Interestingly, one of the studies, very similar to mine, took place right here in Sacramento, and involved the Hmong community. I cried tears of joy when I found it, because it showed me that it could be done.

I knocked off for a while this evening and made some two-bone pork chops that I had cut off a roast and froze, and some artichokes that I steamed in my instant pot. They were delicious. I like taking time off to cook when I am intensely studying. Cooking has always been a relaxing and satisfying exercise for me.

I had music on for most of the day in the background. I played an album called Wyatt at the Coyote Palace by Kristin Hersh a couple of times through, and am not listening to it once again, intently. It's my new favorite album.

prevention or delay
  • Current Music
    Kristin Hersh--Bubble Net

February 17--Five and six years later

One of the great things about Facebook is that every once in a while it reminds me of what I was doing at some point in time in the past. It is generally photograph-related and shows me some image that I posted
x-years ago. Yesterday was a photo of the old blind woman who lived across the street from Malida's house. Today was one of my favorite pictures of our niece Nim. She was about 3 years old here, and it was the first time I met her as anything other than a baby.


I love this shot because it almost perfectly captures her nature at the time. She loved to have her picture taken, and loved to follow me around. It worked out great for both of us. She was still following me around when I was last there two years ago. I suspect when I am there next in 2 years, she will have changed into a shy 11-year-old.


There was a plate on the counter with some beat-up Oreos on it. I asked Malida why they were there. She told me that they had fallen on the floor. I asked her why she didn't throw them away, and she told me that she saved them in case she got hungry later. They were gone this morning.
  • Current Music
    REM--Disturbance at the Heron House

February 16--Scalp vein

I spent the working day teaching our students how to start IVs. it's a fun, low-stress day. We have a bunch of fake arms and they practice on the arms. When I first started teaching, we had the students practice on each other, but someone figured it was a potential liability issue and put the kibosh on it.


One year I brought the arms home to rinse the fake blood out of them and took some pictures. They are kind of creepy.

We were done fairly early and I came home and took a nice nap. After I got up, we went out to our local Italian place for dinner. It is a restaurant tucked away in a strip mall behind a Taco Bell, but it is family-owned, and the food is authentic.

Caprese salad

While we were waiting for our food, the daughter of the owner came out and told us it would be delayed because there was an issue with one of the ovens. She very kindly offered to bring us some caprese salad on the house to tide us over. It was delicious. Our food came shortly thereafter, and it was delicious as well. I am working my way through their menu, and try something different every time. I had the braciola this time. Last time I had the giant lasagna. Next time, who knows. We are working our way through the dessert menu too, and we tried the limoncello cake. It was awesome. When we got the bill, they didn't charge us for it, to thank us for our patience in waiting for our entrees. Such a great place.

I seem to be listening to a lot of Jethro Tull lately. I do that sometimes.
  • Current Music
    Jethro Tull--A Time For Everything

February 15--Shed Ramp Mural

Every morning I walk past the red shed that holds the chemicals that the chemistry department plays around with. It is off to the side of the walkway between the parking lot and the building where my office is. The building that will be torn down after this semester. The door of the shed is a few inches off the ground, and there is a ramp.

The ramp is the interesting thing here. It is a piece of plywood, upon which is painted the Sacramento waterfront from the 1800s, with the capital building in the distance. I don't imagine that someone painted it as a ramp for a chemical shed. I lean more toward that it was some sort of art project that was repurposed.

shed ramp mural 1

I think about it every time I walk past. Who painted it? How did it end up as a shed ramp? Do I need to capture it? Yes it is also an Ingress portal. One of the handful that I can access from my office. I capture it, they take it away, I recapture it, and so on.

Here is a better view so you can appreciate it not sideways:

shed ramp mural 2

Now that I have a photograph of it, I should send it to the art department and see if they know anything about it.

After my dark night of the soul last night, I had a fitful sleep. I eventually dropped off and dreamt that I was in Thailand, and all sorts of people I knew were there with me, and we were having a good time shopping for souvenirs at my favorite souvenir shop (which exists only in the dream). I woke up and made a plan of attack to get my project proposal ready to submit again Sunday night.
  • Current Music
    Shearwater--Stray Light at Clouds Hill

February 14--Matters of the heart

I am sitting in the low light listening to music and thinking about whether I want to continue this doctoral program. My head says "no", but my heart is less sure. Or maybe it is the other way around. I ask myself why I want to do this, versus doing other things I love like taking photographs and traveling. Having my summer off to do whatever I want. I don't know. That's what I'm thinking about.

In past experience, when I have been doing something that prevented me from doing other things, once that thing was no more, my desire to do the other things diminished. It's like, when I am in the middle of an assignment, I'd rather be cleaning the house. But I don't really want to clean the house. I just don't want to be doing the assignment.


When I was leaving work today I saw a squirrel sitting on the bench looking at me. One of the professors on the other side of the building (the side with all the rocks and dinosaurs) puts peanuts in his windowsill, so there are always plenty of squirrels hanging around in the general vicinity. Back when I was taking photo classes, we were told that squirrel pictures didn't count for anything, as they were ubiquitous. But I still like photographing them when the opportunity arises. I like squirrels.

When I got home, Malida had a little valentines treat for me--a daffodil, a Hello Kitty card, and some candy. I got her a card and a necklace. Surprisingly, Valentines day is a big deal in Thailand. I remember being there about 5 years ago, and seeing people selling stuff on the streets--mostly for high schoolers and college students, I think.

hello kitty valentine
  • Current Music
    Thomas dolby--I Love You Goodbye

February 12--Sunny

It was a bright sunny day, a welcome relief after days of rain. One of the dams to the north of us is in big trouble. The emergency spillway is failing, and they have evacuated many of the towns and cities downriver from the dam. Hopefully they will be able to get enough water off to relieve the pressure. I just looked at the news report, and about 130,000 people have been evacuated. Hopefully the emergency spillway can hold until the water levels drop enough to relieve the pressure on it. After so many years of drought, it is strange to have the potential for massive flooding.

I spent a good part of the day working on homework. I have the second revision of my proposal due next week, and everything I have to do seems kind of overwhelming. I think just thinking about how overwhelming it seems is making it harder for me to actually do what I need to do. I need to just put my head down and do what I need to do. I can do it. end pep talk.

I had a very tasty mushroom bisque at one of our favorite places that isn't some sort of asian restaurant.

I noticed that the daffodils in our back yard seem happy with the sunlight. I am happy for them.

  • Current Music
    The Sadies--It's Easy (Like Walking)

February 11--Hmongstory 40

I attended the opening of an exhibit today that tells the experiences of the Hmong refugees who came to California after the end of the Vietnam war. It was an interesting experience, given the current political system. One of the speakers reminded us that refugees don't have a voice--if we don't speak up for them, then no one will.

The exhibit itself was fascinating. Lots of pictures, lots of history. It was pretty crowded, so I will go back on another day and take my time with it. I made some good connections with people in the Hmong community. I was talking to one guy, and it turns out he is best friends with one of my former students.


A former refugee looks at pictures from one of the refugee camps in Thailand. On the opposite wall was a group of pictures of former refugees in their current positions as physicians, police officers, judges, entrepreneurs, and so on. A good reminder of many gifts immigrants bring to our communities.
  • Current Music
    Doyle Bramhall II--Hear My Train A Comin'

February 10--AKA 4th floor

The hospital where my students have their clinical experience is actually a mishmash of about 3 or 4 different buildings, that don't exactly match up. I have a circuit that I usually take, that starts in the new building. I take the elevator to the 3rd floor, and walk around until somehow I am in the 4th floor of one of the other buildings. I take the stairs down to the second floor, and then take them down another half floor until I am in 2 south. I walk the long hallway to Oncology, and then double back and take the 2 south elevators to the 4th floor, and eventually I end up back on the third floor again. I have students on 5 different floors in 3 different buildings. I walked 6 miles today.

Two of the three elevator banks were out of order today, and it was challenging.

  • Current Music