Monday, August 3, 2020

while my program runs

I am writing this post while my program runs.  

  1. Orientation
  2. Redo results section with refreshed data and tables and figures (probably will take 4h of concerted work, but I've set up my spreadsheets so all I have to do is cut and paste, so it's not that bad, just very boring)
  3. Send email to mentor to set up meeting to discuss data scientist, faculty mentorship program at new institution, and possible grant idea
  4. Email to data supplier to ask follow-up question about patient identifiers.
  5. Read through faculty handbook
This is what my list for today started off with.  Not terrible, but I kind of suspected I wouldn't be able to get #2 done.  #5 I plan to read this before bed instead of a book each night this week.  I got through 10 pages last night.  

But then, I got a response from #4, AND my refreshed data, which I was totally not expecting!  I also received immediate responses from several other people, giving me more work to complete.  Also, orientation happened.  All of these things combined caused a nuclear explosion of my to do list.  Now my to do list looks more like this:

  1. Orientation
  2. Figure out how to download data
  3. Check that data is correct
  4. Format and incorporate new data into previously existing programs
  5. Rerun all former programs 
  6. Compare results between old data and new data
  7. Send thank you note to person who turned this around for me in record time
  8. Redo results section with refreshed data and tables and figures (probably will take 4h of concerted work, but I've set up my spreadsheets so all I have to do is cut and paste, so it's not that bad, just very boring)
  9. Send email to mentor to set up meeting to discuss data scientist, faculty mentorship program at new institution, and possible grant idea
  10. Email to data supplier to ask follow-up question about patient identifiers.
  11. Incorporate refreshed data into current programs that needed it
  12. Complete control totals and data dictionary for refreshed data
  13. Audit refreshed data to make sure program ran as it was supposed to
  14. Send refreshed data to data science team
  15. Work on analytic plan for care escalation study (this keep on getting pushed back, and it is SO FRUSTRATING).  I hate it when I am the bottleneck, but in this case, I totally am the bottleneck.
  16. Figure out how to transfer large data dumps from new institution email to my PC
  17. Look into comorbidities that we should include in perioperative peds database
  18. Update SPA profile
  19. Look at MPOG data dictionary 
  20. Figure out how to set up Outlook email
  1. The plumber finally came to fix the leaky pipe (yay!  I can use my bathroom again!!).  We heard this was going to happen at 10am today.
  2. We got invoiced by the guy who mows our lawn.  Husband said he would take care of it, but I still had to remind him to pay when they came to mow this afternoon. #mental_load
  3. Daughter wanted to talk after camp because she was sad she didn't get to ride the horse she rode last week, and this week the horse was very bouncy and she had to be on a lead line
  4. Daughter whined and cried and carried on about not wanting to play piano for 20 minutes, wanted to hang out in my room, had to be extracted by AP.
All of this is to say, it is all fine and good to make yourself a to do list for the week.  But all it takes is a few little things to destroy the entire plan and for paralysis to set in.  I've gotten a LOT done today, but I actually expected that none of this would be doable for at least another week.  On the downside, a lot of the things that I wanted to do just got pushed back again, which is very frustrating.  

As a side note, I haven't actually started working for my new institution, and things already are going SO MUCH MORE SMOOTHLY than where I was before from an administrative standpoint.  Every day something works as it should, and some person who would have been obstructionist or given me attitude before at my old place of work, is polite and helpful and responsive.  Not a day passes where I don't feel like weeping tears of joy for something being much easier than I expected.  I freaking LOVE the midwest.  

Actually, Sarah, if you are reading this and have time: I know this kind of to do list explosion must happen to you as well with your job.  I suspect many of your organization techniques (e.g. inbox zero) would not work for me, but I do wonder if you have tips on how you deal with triaging and managing all the work that comes in as you're doing work without feeling hugely overwhelmed.  


Saturday, August 1, 2020


I am finding it interesting that though I don't start my new job until 8/24 I am doing increasing amounts of work related to it.  On Monday and Tuesday I have orientation.  Last week I participated in data meetings, and I will next week also.  And obviously there is a bunch of admin to do.  It's all good stuff but I... well, thank goodness I moved 7/1 otherwise this would have just been so so much harder.

We went for a walk at Nichols Arboretum today which was lovely.  Dylan got to go wading in the Huron River, which she greatly enjoyed.  She wants to go back this week, so maybe if the weather is nice, I will send her and AP after camp one day.  It was lovely, but if I have to be honest, a little touristy.  I preferred Eberwhite Woods, Bird Hill, and Saginaw Woods over Nichols, 1) because they were more wooded, and 2) the people at the other places were... not students, i.e. they were considerate, wore masks, and were generally less... oblivious than the ones at Nichols today.  

I did Beachbody today too.  It felt... not awesome, if I'm being honest.  I'm still glad I did it, but ugh.  But, despite that I can tell I'm getting better.  I finished the whole workout without sitting down, and I was able to do all the exercises, mostly the way they were supposed to be done, for a full minute on all of them except one I think.  The extra 10 minute abs at the end was especially hard.  I also noticed that my hip didn't pop when I was doing leg lifts, which is a major improvement.  So yes!  I am still glad I am doing this.

I have to say I really like AC's affirmations as she brutalizes you during the workouts.  I feel like I needed more of that kind of talk during residency and fellowship.

Dylan has started reading Misty of Chincoteague, and just announced that she wants to go to Chincoteague Island.  This made me feel a little sad, because that was a trip I had planned to make for years when we lived in Philadelphia.  It was just another mommy-daughter trip that fell by the wayside this past Spring because of COVID.  I had also wanted to take her on the train to NYC, and to Washington DC.  I guess I'll still be able to take a train to the NYC the next time we visit my parents, but God knows when that will be.  I also never got to see the Mutter Museum, which is basically the best museum in Philadelphia.  *headdesk*

On the positive side, we can go fun places here!  I actually might decide to go camping for real!  Somehow, camping in the Pine Barrens or near the Delaware River Water Gap, while I'm sure fabulous, never really got me excited about the prospect in the same way that camping on Lake Superior does.  Maybe that is horribly misguided though.  The Upper Peninsula is probably quite cold!

I hate going places and worrying about whether I'm going to get sick.  Tonight we went to get ice cream, and even though everyone was wearing a mask and standing far apart, it still made me feel antsy.  I wonder if we will ever get back to a time where I don't feel like that anymore.  

Well anyway.  Plan tomorrow is work on my manuscript, make orzo tomato salad, do Beachbody, and drive around my town in the rain exploring.  We still haven't found a neighborhood we like as much as where we live now, but we haven't seen much of the East side at all.

Thursday, July 30, 2020


Went and got a haircut today.


I like that when I said I wanted a trim, I got a trim.  I liked that she didn't go all crazy with product for the blowout.  It really wasn't THAT bad before, but now the ends feel smoother, and aren't as frayed.  I thought the salon did decently well with the social distancing too.  

We tried the lemon orzo chicken soup that I found on LagLiv's blog, and it was fine.  Luca and AP loved it, but I was kind of meh on it.  I think that this may be because of all the soups I've made recently, this one was far and away the biggest pain to make.  Transferring the eggs into the broth slowly slowly after letting everything cool so nothing scrambled added a large chunk of time and was quite frankly, really annoying.  I'm certainly never making it again!  But if my husband cares to knock himself out, he can go right ahead!  

My favorite is still the Thai Carrot one from a few weeks ago that nobody in my household liked but me.  

Now that we have orzo, I want to try this.  

I did Pilates fix today, and guys - it was so much easier than last time! I actually made it through the entire leg circle series without stopping.  Plank is still pretty hard for me, but that's ok, even that is getting better.  I only couldn't make it through the last one where AC made us hold it extra long.  

I also took a walk and did a bunch of work.  It was a good day.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2020


Next week I am sitting on a panel at  my alma mater's MD PhD retreat talking about careers in the Social Sciences!  I am so excited!  I was a little worried that they would ask me to talk about work-life balance, but they didn't!


Riding camp is going GREAT for Dyl.  I haven't seen her so happy in months.  Here's hoping that she's able to keep going once the university students bring coronavirus back to where I live this Fall.  

There have been so so so many threads in places about creating learning pods for kids.  In some ways, wow, what a great idea.  You could even hire a tutor for the group.  It could be the best of individualized learning and group learning all wrapped up into one.  

But there are so many problems with pods specific to our situation.  I'm not even going to touch on the social justice issues.  Primarily: 

1. We don't know anybody here!
2. Even if we did, would they want to pod with my family, who has ME in it?  I (from the perspective of a lot of people) basically smear COVID inside my nose every day as part of my literal job.  
3. Even if I could convince people that we are actually pretty safe at work -- there have been a few studies showing that the incidence of COVID among hospital employees is similar to that of the general population, suggesting that PPE does work, what if I did end up getting COVID from a grocery delivery or work or from another pod member.  In the end people are going to freak out and it will be my fault for minimizing the risk up front.  It will be, "As a doctor, you should have known better."
4. Is it only reasonable to pod with other people who are being cautious, and how do you ensure that they actually are as cautious as they say.  

So basically this whole pod thing is based on trust of other people, preexisting community, and everyone having low risk AND behaving themselves.  For instance, our lovely next door neighbor would probably make a great pod partner!  But should they trust our family given what I do for a living?  And even if the answer is, "They should," would they?  

Others might say, well OMDG, you have an au pair.  You should create a pod with your family as "base" and your au pair can teach the children.  


1. My au pair didn't sign up to teach my child, let along a pod-classroom of children.  
2. She is not actually a teacher!  She's doing the best she can with this garbage situation we have been handed.  
3. It would be unfair to assume that she would be good at this, or (more importantly) that this is something she would want to do.  She is a person, with rights and preferences, and we need to respect that.  Plus, she is an employee and member of OUR family.  If we took on a pod, then all of a sudden she would have more than one boss.  
4. I guess I could ask her?  I am pretty sure she'd say no.  I know I would.      

And then there are other practical things.  
1. What happens if one children needs a lot of help or is disruptive?  ("Good" people are supposed to be actively recruiting these children in the pursuit of social equity, but for a lot of reasons, this is a lot to ask of a nascent pod that is just trying to figure things out.)
2. What happens if a family member of a kid (or a kid) gets COVID.  What if they refuse to quarantine or send their kid in sick?
3. What if the children don't get along? 
4. What happens if the parents don't agree, or if there is a jerky parent?
5. Suppose you all pool together money to hire a tutor, but can't agree on who to hire, or one of the parents doesn't pay.
6. Suppose the tutor sucks or plays favorites or doesn't show up or parties and gets COVID, then what?
7. Who decides what gets taught?  What if some of the parents want whacko things to be taught?  What if the loudest but most ignorant parent dubs themselves in charge of curriculum development. 

Pods have long been talked about from whence I came (West Philadelphia) because many of the schools there sucked but they never got off the ground mostly because of these issues.   But everyone always imagines a scenario in which they get exactly what they want, and where other people just agree with them, and perfect harmony is achieved, which causes them to jump up and down and yell pod! Pod! POD!  

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?  Has anyone ever run a successful pod?  How about a successful pod that didn't intentionally exclude members who weren't part of the clique?  


Would love to hear your thoughts.  :-)  

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

On the positive side

Yesterday evening, our local school board released a video question and answer session, addressing many of the concerns that members of the community raised.  I have to say, even though I suspect they aren't going to do 90% of the things they said they would, it was nice to see that they at least acknowledged the concerns and had contemplated the possibility of things like:

- Asynchronous learning
- Small group learning in public spaces led by an in-person teacher for at risk kids
- Special education for children with IEPs, special needs, etc.

It made me at least FEEL better, even though things actually AREN'T better.  So that's something, right?

And then I found out I had to schedule almost all of my vacation/meeting time through June of next year by Friday of this week.  Eeeek!

Of course, many of the weeks were already taken, but!  One advantage of virtual learning is that as long as you have an internet connection, you can kind of do it from anywhere.  So, I went ahead and just scheduled myself for three random weeks of vacation with no particular attention paid to the school calendar because who the heck knows whether anything is going to go as we plan this next year anyway.

You know how I had hope that COVID would push some things in medicine that really needed to move into the 21st century into the 21st century?  Like telemedicine and telecommuting in general.  Or maybe healthcare as a right not a luxury?  I have hope for this for other services as well, like:

- Internet as an essential utility, like heat and electricity
- Virtual classrooms as a way to address the academic needs of children who aren't being well served by traditional school
- Virtual classrooms as a way to improve equity between school districts

Ah well, a girl can dream.  

In other, more frivolous news, I decided to make an appointment to get my hair cut on Thursday because it has been almost 8 months, my ends are scraggly, and once the university students bring COVID back to campus, I fully anticipate that the salons will close again.  

I'm also half done with Beachbody 21 day fix!  Yesterday was a yoga day, which I totally did not want to do.  My au pair didn't let me bail though, and I did it anyway, and it actually felt good!  Like yoga is supposed to, but rarely does for me since I'm usually quite out of shape.  I don't think I'm going to end up losing any weight with this program, but that is fine.  My body feels tighter and I feel so much stronger, and I'm gaining flexibility, and my mind is so much more clear, and IT HAS ONLY BEEN TEN DAYS.  I really need to stick with this for the long run.  

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, July 27, 2020


Let’s just get one thing straight: No, I did not sign up to be part of the covid intubation team when I a) started med school, or b) decided to become an anesthesiologist.  In fact that part of my new job was not disclosed to me until a week ago.  So. 

Dylan had her first day of riding camp this morning.  There were four other girls her age, and she was so excited!  Last night at 9 she came to my room and said, “Mommy, I am going to bed now.  I want to make sure I am well rested for riding camp tomorrow.”  And then, “Daddy you need to come kiss me now!  I’m going to bed!”  

She had a blast, and she was told that next week she will be assigned to ride with the more experienced riders who get to walk, trot, and canter, and maybe even jump.  I cannot tell you how proud she was of this. 

She is currently passed out in my bed.  Apparently camp, even for a half day, was exhausting for her.  Yay!

So that went well.  Here’s hoping it continues and that nobody gets covid.  😂

Friday, July 24, 2020

the schedule from H3LL

A proposed schedule for synchronous virtual learning was published by our district today.  Note, this is for elementary school students only.  

Behold, the sh!t show!

So, it's actually even worse than I thought it could be!  This is quite remarkable given that I'm usually pretty good at imagining the worst case scenario.  And yes, you are reading that correctly -- what you are looking at is roughly 7 hours of mandatory, attendance required, screen time per day.  With 6-7 check in periods scattered at random times throughout the day.

Oh sure, I'm sure there will be "opportunities" for children to complete independent work interspersed, but that work must be done at scheduled times, which requires a dedicated person at home supervising at all times, completely engaged, making sure the child stays on task.  None of that takes away from the generalized cluster f8ck this schedule represents.  

And listen, I am saying this as a person who has childcare.  I can't even imagine how people without childcare, or with more than one child, or with a child with special needs are feeling.  

I think the likelihood of this fulfilling even 1% of my child's needs is so vanishingly small, and the likelihood of sucking her love of learning dry and impeding her academic progress is about 99%. I gotta say I don't know if I believe that a district that thinks this is ok -- for any child -- deserves the money that my daughter's enrollment / warm body represents.  Virtual learning has the potential to be an amazing, wonderful, innovative thing.  This... is not that.  

I am p!ssed.  Congratulations, school district, on failing our children.  ALL children.  Particularly the ones with working parents, but also those who have parents who can't or won't be able to do this with their kids all day long every day, for any reason.  Congratulations on creating a schedule that is inherently incompatible with supplementation with challenge work for kids who are ahead, or extra help for kids who are behind.  Because there is NO WAY my kid is going to be willing to do anything extra after a day of this.  MY brain is sucked dry just looking at this schedule.  She is not a robot.  

Oh yeah, to top it off, school doesn't even start until 9/8.  The week before is "onboarding."  Guess who else will be "onboarding" full time at her own in-person job that week and the week before (raises hand).  

And with that controversial comment, I open up the discussion.