Sunday, September 27, 2009

Memories of Grandpa Timothy

My aunt is putting together a collection of memories. He's alive, by the way. Not to confuse you with the title. Anyways, here what I put together, a happy happy part of my childhood:

I'll do my best to recall some of my best memories.

As a child:

"Grandparents are there to spoil their grandchildren" represents the majority of my my memories with Grandpa Timothy.
I took many many trips either by myself or with my brothers and sister from Seattle to Portland. "Good 'ol Knowles" was what we always said as we drove up to Knowles St. where Grandpa lived. I had my favorite place to sleep: his couch in his basement. The couch was old and well-used so that it was squishy and soft that you just sank right down into it. In this room, there were 3 tv's: one for Super Nintendo, one for Sega Genesis, and one for cable television. There were a few traditions that I will never forget during my trips to Portland. I remember the most the times when I was able to go by myself and do these things just the 2 of us.

-Go to the grocery store and buy a box of cereal of my choice. My parents only let me eat 1 bowl of cereal per day. This would often force me to poor cereal into the bowl, crush it with all my weight so that I could poor more cereal on top of it and get as much cereal as possible into the bowl. At Grandpa's, I could eat to my heart's content, which usually meant at least 2 meals a day. And I got to pick whatever cereal I wanted, no matter how sweet or unhealthy, which usually meant Fruity Pebbles or Captain Crunch Berries. Especially if I was with my brother Chris, we would go through an entire box of cereal at one sitting, and the milk would disappear just as fast. Having that kind of freedom to choose whatever I wanted was so fun.

-There was also unlimited soda in the giant fridge in the garage, including all my favorites: grape, orange, strawberry.

-Often on the same trip we would stop at a Toys 'R' Us and buy any game that I wanted. This was easily one of the things I was most excited to do. I could pick one of the newest games out there no matter how expensive. And I was able to play as many video games as I wanted at my own sleep schedule. Truly a boy's dream.

-We would go out to the same restaurant every time. It was an old diner, and I would get a breakfast like waffles or french toast every time. We would play Kino every time. And I would get to keep the money. He would pick my birthday for numbers. I never made more than $5, but that was a lot to me.

-We went to this local pizza place. It had arcade games and Grandpa would give me loads of quarters to use. This place eventually closed. It was a sad day.

-He would definitely joke with me every time we passed Dancing Bare, the strip joint with a giant sign with a bear. It would make me laugh every time. "You want to go to Dancing Bare this time?" He would always joke about girls with me since I could remember, ask me if I had any girls that I liked etc. When I grew up, he didn't understand why I would like any girls who weren't tall and blonde until he met Keiko, my wife. Then he finally understood.

-Sitting out in his hot tub. Having a hot tub in your house was exciting enough, but I was able to use it at my will. Good times.

There were many more fun things that we did, but these were the must-do's every trip.

These are memories as a teenager/adult:

-Getting to buy a video game every time we visited....just kidding. But I still loved to play his video games and eat cereal when I visited.

-When I had some musical or other music event I was in, grandpa always wanted to watch the whole thing. He would always pay attention and give such great compliments. There weren't many people I would rather show my music stuff to than grandpa.

-I remember having the worst injury of my life. It was a giant hematoma or collection of blood that dried up in my leg. I was in junior high and my mom had some conference to go to so she dropped me off. I needed way more pain control because I was sweating from pain 24/7. I just had my grandparents to rely on. Luckily they were there for me every second. I remember how much I appreciated it to this day.

-Scrabble tournaments: i don't think I have ever won a game to this day, even when I get to use the dictionary. Grandpa even teamed up with my Japanese wife and beat me. The other game we played alot when lots of family gathered was PIT. Grandpa wasn't quite as skilled at this game as you could always tell when he had the bear or bull cards.

-I love listening to Grandpa's stories from his mission or other stories from his youth. He has led such an interesting life. The things he could do as a missionary are also so different than what is allowed now: it's fascinating.

-Thanksgiving on Grandpa's ping pong table. The largest family meals I can recall.

Keiko's best memory:

Kara was working on Disney cruise and has some amazing discount. Grandpa decided he wanted to go but there weren't too many people who could go. Keiko was one of them. So Keiko and Grandpa went on a cruise, just the 2 of them :). They had a great time: going to all-you-can-eat buffets, seeing the Carribean, touring various islands, watching Disney shows, playing ping pong.

He also has helped Keiko alot with her English. Keiko stayed in Seattle to learn English. It was often only the 2 of them at home. Grandpa used his expertise to help Keiko with hard sounds like L and R. Gorilla gorilla gorilla, squirrel squirrel squirrel. I love him. :)

Things I like about grandpa:

-The love he shows for us grandkids, whether through
-watching our musical events,
-buying us video games and cereal
-or just joking around with us and treating us like his friends and grandkids.
-His amazing personal history
-His patience

Friday, September 25, 2009

From the CDC: orientation

I guess I've been here long enough that I can talk a little bit about the CDC.

The first 2 weeks was an orientation. It was 8am-5pm. The mornings were mainly lectures. Some of them were a review of epidemiology, the methods of how we are going to do studies on various diseases. Some were on how outbreak investigations were done. Others were done by famous epidemiologists that told stories of how they discovered now well-known diseases (e.g. Legionnaire's Disease) or investigated swine flu when there was an outbreak in 1the 1970's. One speaker is advising president Obama on swine flu.

The afternoons were case studies, or we would would slowly be given real evidence step by step and work through problems. For example, we were given the actual evidence when physicians were first trying to prove that smoking caused lung cancer. These were always really fun, like you were the first people to see this data and make the discovery.

One of the best parts was getting to know the other fellows. I have definitely noticed that public health is generally full of people who are extremely nice. All the fellows have something in common and I’ve found it quite easy to make friends. There are 9 of us. We are from all over the country, every one a different medical school.

Just from hearing all the amazing stories and feeling "I'm at the CDC!" made me really excited about it all. If that feeling continues the whole year, there is a good chance I could end up here again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Biking in Atlanta

I always planned to bike here. I knew I would have more time than in medical school and I could really get in shape and save on gas if I biked.

I live about 5.5 miles from where I work. however, the first 2 weeks I went to a different building which was 8-9 miles away. And I had no car, so I got a rather intense introduction to biking in Atlanta.

Unfortunately, biking it Atlanta is a famous for how bad it is. That goes the same for pedestrians. The train here is very sparse and doesn't go many places. Most streets, including big ones, don't have sidewalks for most of the time, and bike lanes are quite sparse.

By pure chance, possibly the only street with a bike lane around happens to be one that goes almost right from my apartment to my work. It's truly amazing. However, there is a problem with bike lanes in Atlanta.

While cars ignoring bike lanes is a problem, my biggest problem is mainly bushes and trees growing into the bike lane, or the fact it seems to just disappear at times. Or people leave their garbage and recycling in the bike lane.

Forbes recently rated Atlanta #1 worst traffic in the country. This can't be helping.

I plan to stick with it whenever it doesn't rain. Which lately, has not been enough to keep me in shape. My brakes don't work in when they are wet, so I have little choice. I do have a nice helmet and lights both on the back and front of my bike, so don't worry mom. :)

Flooding in Atlanta

I've been trying to ride my bike to work most days. But I haven't rode once in 2 weeks. It has rained every single day...

I thought maybe this is how Atlanta is this time of year. But on my way to work yesterday, one of the major highways to work was covered in water. I made detour and got to work. I got an email at 3:30pm or so that we were all excused to go home that day and take the next day off. I turned to the news and learned several people had already died that day from flash floods, nearly all of them having their cars swept off the roads.

I decided to take their advice and headed home.
I tried to take my main route home: blocked by a tree that had fallen over and blocked the entire road.

My first detour: the whole road blocked by flooding. I went completely by guessing the general direction and eventually made it home.

My sidewalk in front of our apartment had at least 2 inches and with the forecast of more and more rain, I was getting to be pretty worried.

I also saw a home just a couple blocks from our apartment covered in rain, about the same as this pic:
There were at least 3 interstates that were completely covered and blocked. And many schools are closed for a while due to damages.
This community isn't far from where we live:
Some excellent pictures at:

We did, unfortunately, have someone in my CDC group whose home was hit pretty badly. I, for one, am a little more grateful for my apartment and safety.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Atlanta Sight-seeing

My dad was here for the last 10 days. Now we have a car and a free Saturday, we decided we should take the opportunity to see the sights. There are tons of things to do in Atlanta, with Keiko having an interest in only a few of them. So we started out with those. The World of Coca-Cola and Georgia Aquarium are both new and were built next to each other. So they have combo tickets to save money. These were Keiko's picks.

As long as we were there, I wanted to see a few things nearby, namely Atlanta Underground and Centennial Park.

We started out parking at the cheapest place, which was Atlanta Underground. It is basically a mall that is where older Atlanta used to be before they built on top of it. Not a terribly special mall besides it's location. There are bunch of places to learn about Atlanta history, but no Japanese translations so we skipped out on that.

We passed by CNN center. This is also a popular tourist attraction as they have tours you can go one and see the sets etc. We didn't make it to this one today.

We did make it to Centennial Park. This park was built in preparation for the 1996 Summer Olympmics in Atlanta and infamous for the bomb. It turned a rundown part of Atlanta into a big tourist attraction. It now has free music and festivals.

We did realize this was going to be a big crowded weekend. What we didn't know that on this Saturday there were several events, all attracting tens of thousands of people each.

-The Alabama Virginia Tech football game. All I could see were jerseys from these schools. The South is nuts about football.

-Atlanta Braves game, with the stadium nearby

-Georgia tech football game

-NASCAR on Sunday

-Everybody else that comes for the 3-day weekend

This is a Virginia Tech fan that has really gone all out.

The Centennial Park was where ESPN had made base for their college football show. It was filled with people rooting for their schools. It was fun to show Keiko a little American culture about tailgates and football fever.

This is the Olympic fountain.

The G-fish stands for the Georgia aquarium. From the website, "On November 23, 2005, Georgia Aquarium officially opened its doors to the public. As the world’s largest aquarium, Georgia Aquarium features more animals than any other aquarium in more than eight million gallons of water."
Apparently, this was due to contribution by Home Depot.

I have nothing but good things to say about this aquarium. It was a little pricey, but it truly was the most impressive aquarium I have ever seen. It had several tanks with just huge giant glass windows to the tank, like bigger than movie theater screens. It had a great variety of wildlife, tons of things for kids to do including just a play area when kids just need to run around, etc.

This is the map. It is very easy to navigate because you can see every section of the aquarium from the center lobby. My favorite was the one in the top right of the map because it had a giant glass tunnel through the water.

Pictures of Keikos favorites incloude these little guys that just come out of the dirt to feed.

Dad and I in the tunnel
Sawfish above the tunnel

The center plant is actually a fish
Touching a sting ray (and a shark)

We then went on to the World of Coca-Cola. It is a combination of a museum and great marketing/advertising.

Here is the giant building.

Keiko found a Japanese coke machine
An example of all the artifacts they have
Our souvenirs. They have a automated factory at slow speed so you see the bottles being put on a conveyer belt, being cleaned and photopraphed for quality, where the syrup is combined with carbonated water, the filtering, and then you see the filling of the bottles and it being capped and get to take one home with you.

Highlights of that for me were this 3-d Star Tours kind of ride where the seats move and you get sprayed with water and mist and poked by "bugs" in an effort to discover the recipe of Coke.

They they have a room with soda fountain dispensers of Coke products all over the world. Really all over the world. Some taste pretty good, some taste pretty awful. We did this after not eating lunch and after having 64 flavors of Coke and Coke products at 3pm with no lunch was not the best idea.

So we went to a 50's style diner and filled up. Keiko seems to like American food more than me. I got some Greek lasagna and Keiko got lamb and potatoes. Since being pregnant, she seems to like meat more.

THANKS DAD for the great day!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Our apartment from the outside

Keiko took a bunch of pics of our apartment complex.

Welcome to outside the apartment.

These stair lead up to the parking lot. So we live on the "1st" fl but it's really more like the basement.
The path that leads to the stair from our door.

The opposite direction to the pool and office.
This is the view from our window/patio. It's beautiful, but it has lots of bugs...
"Garbage can"
Outside post boxes

Parking lot
Gate into the complex


Tennis court

Shows how we live in the basement.
Many paths to walk around the area.

And you can see how we have a patio with screens surrounding it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thoughts on a specialty at the end of 3rd year

I have finally finished one of the busiest, most interesting, most useful, and most exhausting years of my life. Unfortunately I still don't know what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I have some thoughts.

Medicine or peds, that is how I started the year out. I thought I valued having more time to talk to patients that anything. Then I did medicine and it didn't seem all that enjoyable to me. The internal medicine clerkship director says we shouldn't judge internal medicine on our 3rd year experience. But that's all I have to judge. That left pediatrics, which I really enjoyed.

Then I did surgery. I did 1 month of trauma surgery, 1 month of urology, and 1 month of orthopedics. vascular surgery, and ENT (ears nose throat). I actually had a really great time. I got better evaluations from my residents and attendings than I had received all year. The flow worked for me well. You see the patient, ask them only pertinent questions, make a plan to solve the one problem that you as a specialist can solve and move on to the next patient. Surgery is a quick-fix. In general, you do surgery, the problem gets better, and you are done.

I realized that I wasn't a "I just want to talk to patients as much as possible" kind of guy. I like to get things moving. So, surgery is for me: right?

Well, surgeons spend a good portion of their time in the operating room (OR). Do I like doing surgery? I have no idea. For the most part, I haven't done much more than sew the skin at the end of the surgery. Frankly, the OR has in general been pretty long and boring. Sometimes the procedures are really interesting and look like the would probably be fun to do but standing for hours on end just watching is not my idea of a good time. I really have no idea if I would like to do surgery as a career and am not sure how I will figure this out.

There is one more specialty that I find very appealing: emergency medicine. I will get a chance to really experience it until 4th year but emergency medicine is a nice balance. You get to think a lot and try and figure out what the diagnosis is for lots of different problems, you see quite a bit of action and get to do various procedures during emergencies (like sewing up cuts, putting various tubes into people, etc. but I'm not really sure to tell you the truth).

And there is the final possibility: working at the CDC permanently. If I enjoy my next year immensely I could end up doing public health for the rest of my life. This is a real possibility. Maybe even working in a foreign country. I won't be able to judge this much until I see how much I like next year in Atlanta.

But no matter what specialty I choose, I hope to be able to do research and advance the field. It's one of my favorite parts of medicine: the possibility to improve awaits, and that results in more lives saved.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Our apartment in Atlanta, all moved in

Here are some pics of our place in Atlanta:

Entrance way with little place to put our shoes and I stick my bike helmet. I have a healthy 5-8 mile bike ride to my work, depending on the day. I feel much more fit than med school :)

To the right of the last pic, our dining area.

At the center of the last pic, our kitchen. It's nice because it is easy to study or do something while someone is cooking as sound doesn't travel far from here, but a little lonely for the cook... :(

Looking from the doorway, our entrance into the patio which can be seen during the day in the Japanese BBQ entry.

Moving to the left, our "living area." And thanks to my dad, I tried to hook up the cable again after our Internet was connected and found we got basic cable after all.

Our closet isn't quite as big, so we tried to stuff a bunch of stuff behind our bookshelf. I feel like it's hardly noticeable unless someone takes a picture of just this and points it out...

A few stairs leads up to our bed.

Then we have our desk and bathroom (and someone hiding)


Closet connected to bathroom

Marriage pics in the bathroom

Marriage pics in the living room (too many perhaps?)

We live in a beautifully green area. Pics soon to come.