Chicago COSM

Millennium Park, Chicago

On Thursday, I left Mountain View for the COSM 2016 meeting in Chicago.  I had a research poster selected for display so I got to go to the meeting.  I had never been to COSM before.  It’s smaller than the Academy meeting in the Fall and a little more social.  Overall, I think I like the Academy better because of the lecture courses offered but COSM was a well-run meeting in a great city.

I arrived Thursday afternoon and my brother picked me up, which was super nice of him since the rush hour traffic was so bad.  He said it was worse than normal but either way, he is a very nice person to pick me up from the airport at that time!
Downtown Chicago- the bottom right photo is from the Hancock Ladies’ Room!

We headed downtown and looked into taking an architecture boat tour but there were no twilight tours that night.  We headed over to the John Hancock building and went up to the Lounge for dinner and drinks.  The sunset was incredible and I went into the women’s bathroom with its famed view.  In the women’s room, there are floor to near-ceiling windows overlooking the downtown.  It’s a great view.  In contrast, the men’s room (by report) has no windows.

My brother by the non-sailing boat 😦 and his amazing apartment!

We waited for a window seat and just when I was starting to feel a little sad about our chances for a short wait, we were brought to our seats.  Yay!  I had a prime rib au jus sandwich and it hit the spot.  I was so hungry!  Meg joined us after her class and we went to Eataly, a super-cool Italian market with multiple small restaurants in an open-floor arrangement.  It was awesome and I’m so glad Meg persuaded us to go!  After that, we went to Hop Flower near their house, which is a very cool bar specializing in Belgian brews.  Meg and Ed definitely know the best spots!

Eataly- I wish there was one near me!

The next day, they were off to the airport and I headed downtown to the meeting.  I got an early check-in (yay!), dropped off my stuff and went for the afternoon lectures and panel discussions.  I saw a lot of former residency mates, future colleagues and former staff.  It was really great to catch up with everyone and get some good career advice.

The Purple Pig- amazing!

Friday morning featured the meeting and then I went to the Chicago Institute of Art after an incredible lunch at the Purple Pig.  This trip was filled with amazing food but I think this was the best.  I went with Colleen and Dan (new acquantaince) and the three of us shared several small plates and feasted.

Some favorites from the collection

The Art Institute was great and I saw old favorites (Seurat) and new-to-me finds such as the Winslow Homer non-ocean paintings and Chagall’s America windows.  I had seen the minatures on my last visit and even though they’re amazing, there was no time in this quick museum run through.

Chagall’s Windows

Then I headed off to the airport.  I was off to Boston to see my favorite sister graduate from medical school!

Nashville Weekend

View from the Acme Rooftop

Last week, I took business trip to Nashville to attend a two-day course at Vanderbilt.  The course was exceptional- great faculty, excellent temporal bone lab component and a fun evening social event at the end of day one.  If you’re ever looking for excellent courses that are very reasonably priced, check out CME offerings from Vanderbilt.

Art museum flowers

And…guess where Vanderbilt is?  Nashville!  Nashville is one of my favorite cities in the US.  A lot of people are moving there.  96 people/day is an often-cited, though oddly specific statistic.  It’s an energetic town with a really cool vibe- something cool always seems to be happening but in an effortless rather than trying-to-hard way.

I arrived on Thursday night and stayed at a Marriott very close to the Midtown Hattie B’s hot chicken. That wasn’t the reason for choosing the hotel (getting the discounted rate on a popular weekend was), but it was a nice bonus.  I went to Hattie B’s last time I was in Nashville and went again later in the weekend.

Dark, grainy photo of delicious food!

On Thursday night, I walked downtown to Broadway St.  It was a busy Thursday!  The Nashville Predators were playing in the Stanley Cup play-offs, it was Cinco de Mayo and, in general, I think every night is a weekend night downtown!  I briefly thought about going to the hockey game but it was sold out so I kept walking.  I ended up at Acme Feed & Seed company.  There, I listened to a Santana cover set that switched gears at the end with “Hold the Line,” a song by Toto since the lead singer was performing guest vocals with the band.  I ate a late dinner and ordered “The Hatchery,” curried chickpeas, coconut rice, cashews, cilantro & fried egg with fry bread.  Oh my goodness.  It was delicious, especially the fry bread.  Fry bread, where have you been all my life?  After that culinary piece of heaven, I went back to the hotel and turned in.

Overlooking The Gulch train tracks

On Friday, the course went from 6:45-17:30, although my dissection group went a half-hour over so we ended at 6.  It was a great education day.  Afterward, we were treated to a BBQ dinner at Peg Leg Porker in the Gulch, a small district I hadn’t been to.  It was delicious!  I had pulled pork, bean, cornbread and craft beers. Yum!  It was fun to talk to different classmates in the course and I really had a great time.

Saturday started a little later, 7:30 yay!  We went to about 16:45 and then the course was done.  It was 18 hours of CME and really, an excellent, excellent course.  I’m so happy I went!  Because the last Westward flight left at 1700 from the Nashville airport and I would have missed part of the course if I left, I had to stay the night and leave the next day.  Yay! More time in Nashville!

After the course, I went out and walked to 12 South.  On the way, I grabbed a small cone from Jeni’s. This time, I selected Honey Pistachio and Darkest Chocolate.  It was delicious!  In 12 South, there was a small artists’ market going on with street closures, which was pretty neat.  I also stopped in Imogene & Willie, a jeans boutique.  The jeans were nice but they only had super skinny-style, which I’m not in the market for.  Too hot for Summer!

Early morning photo, that’s why there’s no line!

Saturday night, I went out with two people from the course to Hattie B’s.  I had the small White Chicken with beans, greens and mac ‘n’ cheese.  I couldn’t finish it but it was so good!  Afterward, I hung out with Amy.  We headed over to 12 South because we thought we’d find a mellow music spot. Wrong.  There were just (very cool) bars and restaurants.  It was a beautiful night and sitting on the patio would have been amazing with a big group, but since it was just the two of us and we were definitely not hungry after HB, we took an Uber over to Downtown.

Tom Childers and the BTA

We went back to the Acme and, after hanging out on the awesome rooftop for a bit, saw an excellent band, Tom Childers and the Black Tie Affair.  They were very talented musicians and had an amazing extended version of “Superstition” that featured long solos from several of the band members.  They also did a great cover of “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse that I’m now obsessed with.    After the band’s set was over, we headed up the street,  hung out at Tootsie’s for a bit and then headed back.  It was nice to have a new friend to hang out with!

Crema
Crema
Riverboat

The next day, I slept in a bit, worked out in the hotel gym, showered and checked out.  I left my bag at the hotel and it was time to explore again!  I rented a bike from B Cycles, the company with stands all over town.  I biked down to Pinewood Social, which was a really cool place.  It was, as the PA from work said, Hipster-with-a-capital-H.  It was pretty busy and I was more in the mood for a coffee so I walked over to Crema, a delightful, airy coffee shop.  I ordered the Cuban latte and a coffee soda, just to try the two recommended drinks.  Both were excellent, although I favor the Snowy Plover in Outer Sunset for my sparkling coffee soda of choice!

Downtown Nashville and my new hat!

After coffee, I went downtown and bought a hat, as one does in Nashville.  Then, I walked over the pedestrian bridge from downtown Nashville over towards the football stadium.  I checked out another bike and cycled into East Nashville.  It was cool, but a little busier traffic-wise and a tiny bit more spread-out than I was expecting.  I went into a few boutiques and ended up at Edley’s BBQ, which was delicious.   I had the Tuck’s Sandwich with egg, brisket, red and white sauce, cheese and pimento spread.  Again, I couldn’t finish it but it was off-the-hook delicious!

Much photographed Weenie mobile and sign

 

A delicious mess!

All good things must end and after my late lunch, it was time to go.  I caught an Uber to the hotel and airport and flew home.  It was a great weekend and again, the course was amazing if not the most interesting for the blog.  Blogging about Nashville is much more fun!

Nashville Notes

The theme of this blog sometimes I think…

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to go to the Temporal Bone Dissection Course at Vanderbilt University.  The course program was amazing and I feel really lucky that I got to go.  Actually, I feel lucky that I found it online and all the stars aligned that allowed me to go.

This place seems classy, but only 4 M&Ms!?!

After the OR Wednesday morning, I had a quick lunch with SMS before heading to the airport.  I thought that San Jose airport would be sleepier than it was and I had a mild amount of alarm when I saw the TSA line but it all worked out.  I arrived late in the evening and since the course started at 11 the next day, I was able to sleep in a bit.

Jeni’s!

I went for a ~4 mile run from my hotel to Music Row.  It was great to multi-task: exercise and sight-seeing.  Then it was off to the showers followed by walking over to Vanderbilt for the course.  The entire course was amazing but probably of limited interest to anyone reading this except me, but I included the link above if you’re interested!  Afterwards, I walked over to Jeni’s ice cream where I had a brown butter almond brittle and bourbon salted pecan cone.  Yum!  Because I am an adult, this was my pre-dinner amuse bouche as I headed over to Edley’s BBQ.  Yes, I’m the epitome of sophistication!  I use French words incorrectly!

Fan-girl-ing Dr. Galsscock.  Please note, the dress code said jeans and I believed it.
 Never again!

I wasn’t very hungry but that was ok since I ordered the ribs (so-so) and was informed later that one does not order the ribs at Edley’s, one orders the chicken wings or brisket 😦  I also had the pickle chips which I shared with my neighbors at the bar, who were an interesting and fun bunch.  I was sitting at the L-shaped part of the bar so got to talking with several people.  There were two women who were insurance adjusters/artists and the mayors of the bar.  Seriously, they knew everyone.  Then there were two guys next to me, one a drummer with a famous band and the other a well-known producer.  None of us talked about work too much but it was really a fun time.  I also talked to a Nashville historian who was pretty interesting as well.  Then it was off to the Extended Stay so I could rest up for another awesome day of class and dissection!

Friday was all business, mixed with a little fun.  The course continued to be incredible.  That evening, Dr. Haynes and his wife hosted a dinner catered by Hattie B‘s hot chicken.  Oh my word.  The food was everything that Thursday’s was not, Jeni’s and fried pickles excluded.  The chicken was amazing and the sides delicious.  There were different heat levels of chicken, collard greens, macaroni n cheese and an incredible key lime pie bite at the end.  Oh my goodness.  I am hungry just typing this! The company was also great.  The Vanderbilt department are my new professional idols- they are so smart, accomplished and personable all at the same time.  They were so nice to put on the course and share their expertise.  I was really impressed and very grateful to be there!

Queen B!  Ok, this picture is zoomed in but not by much!

On Saturday, the course finished up and I walked back to the hotel after getting my second Jeni cone. This time, I got darkest chocolate and honey chocolate with smoked almonds.  I thought I would take a nap since I was tired from the time change but I went to Centennial Park instead because I heard live music.  The Americana Music Festival was finishing up that day and they had a stage/food truck event going on.  I wasn’t hungry but hung out for the music and heard a great band called the Carmonas.  I also listened to several musicians during a Les Paul tribute.  The music was great but I headed back to the hotel to change before heading downtown because I wanted to go the Ascend Amphitheater and see the final Festival show, which featured Loretta Lynn!  Yes!  I ended up seeing Loretta Lynn and she was absolutely fantastic.  Her voice was amazing, her stage presence intact and it was really awesome.  I also lucked out because as I was walking in with my lawn seat ticket, a woman gave me her Ticketmaster printout for a seat 8 rows back from the stage!

Other artists that I saw included Steve Earle, Gillian Welch and Valerie June.  It was pretty spectacular.  The concert ended around 11 and although I wanted to check out the Bluebird Cafe, I didn’t think I would get in so I took in the S. Broadway scene for a little bit.  There are so many bachelorette parties in Nashville!  I went to Acme Feed and Seed before grabbing a piece of pizza, where I met even more new friends including a guy who loved his nickname Sandwich (his given name is Reuban).

Breakfast of Champions!

On Sunday, I ran ~6 miles to the 12 South neighborhood, which is a very cool part of town.  Edley’s is there as are many cute restaurants and shops.  After showering and checking out, I bought a pass to the Nashville bike program and biked over to Hattie B’s for chicken and waffles.  Yum!  Then I headed back to 12 South and bought a coffee and looked in several of the shops.  Next, I took an Uber ride to Parnassus Books, the shop co-owned by one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett.  No Ann sightings, but I did buy a signed book!  At that point, it was time to start thinking of heading back.  I made a quick stop in the Hillsboro area to check out a shop I thought had an awesome dress when I ran by it the other day but I couldn’t find it.  I called Uber and after stopping by the hotel to pick up my luggage, we went to the airport and I headed back home to see SMS!

Working for the Weekend!

Ok, maybe Tuesday is a liiiii-tle too early to be singing that song, but I am so excited for my parents to get into town.  We have the best itinerary planned.

I’m also very excited because I am getting a lot done at work.  Last night, I finished a paper on portable vestibular evaluation devices that will hopefully be published.  I haven’t heard back from the big cheese about it, but I hope he likes it!  It was the first late night I’ve had in a long while- yes, including (lack of a) social life too!

SMS pointed out that I’ve become quite a .gif fan.  This is true but I haven’t been taking very many pictures of my own.  I plan to remedy that on my trip.  Did I mention that I’m going on vacation!?!?  Sagoy!

First stop- relaxing ryokan in Miyajima!

Work is the time between vacations

I really like my job.  Nerdy, but true.  It was a great week at work because in addition to two (!) OR days, a big project is finally getting off the ground and I’m really excited.  We have a home sleep study project that a contract was finally approved for and in two days, I’ve already booked 9 patients.  It feels awesome to blast a waiting list to smithereens and it’s nice to have success from the very beginning.

What’s interesting is that I don’t love sleep medicine.  I do, however, LOVE sleep so sometimes my wish for other people to enjoy good sleep helps me focus on the positive aspects of sleep medicine.  The reason why I don’t like the specialty is that the surgical interventions are limited with low cure rates and I am a person who likes to operate and achieve successful outcomes.

In addition, there is a large financial incentive for military members to have OSA.  Twisted but true.  If a person is diagnosed with sleep apnea, the VA rates their disability at 50%.  I won’t go into the details too much but there are many people who see this as a reward for being fat, since obesity is associated with >75% of OSA cases.  And, despite how it looks in some workspaces, military members are supposed to comply with weight standards.
So, because some people see this money spent as a way to satisfy secondary gain from unprofessional (read: fat) military members, there is resistance to the program.  In response, I say that OSA is a disease with significant morbidity if left untreated.  In terms of “rewarding” being overweight, a large portion of all our health care dollars is spent treating chronic medical conditions linked with excess body weight (coronary artery disease, Type 2 Diabetes).  So, we need to treat the patient population as they are while encouraging weight loss, healthy eating, tobacco cessation, etc and we still need to diagnose and treat OSA.  The home studies are 1/4 the cost of sleep lab studies and equally accurate in diagnosing OSA.  I think the program fills a need in a cost-effective way and more importantly, that’s what my boss thinks.  Since my boss told me to take on this project and see it through, I did it.  The end.
Moving on!  My projects are going well and most importantly, they’re at a place where I can leave them on auto-pilot while I tour around Japan with my parents next week!  I’m so excited and look forward to all the fun we will have!  After that trip, there will only be 8 more days until SMS arrives in Japan for good.  Hooray!

O’Hare Area Wasteland

Ok, the O’Hare area is fine.  It’s just that it still looked and felt like Winter and I was there for my oral boards.  Meanwhile in Japan, the sakura were around for about three days according to people who were here.  Then it rained and the blossoms fell off.  So ephemeral…talk amongst yourselves as I write a poem!

Ok, I’m back!  So, the Osler Review Course was held in the O’Hare area at the Holiday Inn.  I’m glad I went since I picked up a few pointers on delivery technique and it helped calm me down a little bit.  Only a little, since I was still battling my insomnia/jet lag double demons.

After the three day course, I headed over to the Marriott.  I am a Gold member, a carryover from when I spent 90 days at the Courtyard Marriott when I was at MD Anderson.  The Marriott Suites was a beautiful hotel and I rested up/studied on Saturday.

Saturday night, I slept from 10-3 and then 5-10.  My test was Sunday afternoon so I dressed up in my suit from 2001.  Hey, it got me into med school so maybe I’ll have luck now?  Candidates were asked not to wear their military uniforms in order to prevent bias although from what I’ve heard, we’re pretty obvious with our Yes Sirs/Yes Ma’ams.

The board examination was simultaneously the fastest and longest experience of my life.  Honestly, leading up to it was long but the exam went incredibly fast.  The information we were given preceding it was pretty good in terms of letting us know the format but nothing can really prepare a person for the experience.  (There was a candidate video and a presentation at the exam site.)  I think I did well, but I won’t know officially until mid-June.  Apparently, the “psychometrician” needs to analyze the data.  This is a real word.  A neologism, if you will.  Maybe even a portmanteau!!  Everyone at my table immediately started discussing the similarities to Tobias’ professional occupation in Arrested Development.

So, yes, there were brief moments of levity where we didn’t feel like our futures were on the line.

Approaching the finish line!

Four more days until I travel back to the US to start the long-ish journey to my 6 April oral board certification exam.  Sagoy!  I’m going to stay in the LA area for a few days on an “extended layover” which a totally awesome concept since I get to see SMS.  On April 1 afternoon, I’ll head to Chicago to start my 3-day review course the next day.  I am excited for the practice and final consolidation of my studies and ability to present them in a clear, logical, correct fashion.  I have a day “off” on the 5th and then my exam is on the 6th.  The next day, I’ll have a bit of time in Chicago before I head back to Japan, probably totally nerve-wracked!  I won’t get my results for 9 weeks, wah! [Oh, I realize that posting full itineraries on the internet isn’t the smartest but no one really know where I live to break-in and steal my stuff, plus I live in a secured apartment building.  And if a robber tried to come in the middle of the day (um, what robber would do that?), Yamaguchi-san would probably kick their a** given the aggressiveness of her pursuit of bad garbage sorters!  Yamaguchi-san is the little old lady- really, she’s very little and pretty old- who supervises the building.]

I’m looking forward to the boards being over although I did manage to run a race this weekend and go to Church, where I sat with the lovely Cragin family.  On Saturday, I ran the Anchors Aweigh half marathon.  I felt alright during the race apart from a brief wall-like feeling at mile 9.  Oh yeah, at the end I thought I was at the finish line but I didn’t realize there was a 1/3 mile loop to complete.  Argh.  I had already started my kick and that did not feel awesome to keep it going for longer but that’s what I get for trying to pass people at the very end (because I am competitive!).  I ended up coming in at 1:46:48, which is respectable enough.  I’d love to train more so that I could keep that pace up for a whole marathon since 3:40 is what is needed for Boston, but I’m not super bitten by the long-distance bug right now so I might keep my long runs around the 10-12 mile mark for now.  Granted, before the race, I hadn’t ran very far at all- one six mile run and one twelve mile run with a few stretching breaks.  Eh, we’ll see how my motivation holds up as the humid, hot Japanese Summer approaches. [<– That sounds promising.]

Ok, back to studying!  I have such big reading (for fun!) and TV/movie plans when this is all over.  I cannot wait!