Sunday, December 5, 2010

O Tannenbaum

I bought my very own Christmas Tree this year. I have been fortunate to enjoy various Christmas Trees throughout the years since leaving home, a few of these include: many elaborately decorated twigs, a real tree when I lived with my brother and sister-in-law in Cheyenne, and a fake, but elegantly decorated tree compliments of my roommates in Michigan. I have in no way been lacking in trees over the years, but I never had one of my own.

I contemplated a real tree but had too many personal and practical objections and went instead with a fake tree that I could live with. I found my pre-lit tree-mate at Target. It is a four foot spruce look alike and is perfectly framed by the front window. On it's stand the tree and I are about the same height, thus no Elf-like scenes necessary to put decoration on the upper branches. I really like the lighter color it takes on when it is lit up, it has a slightly flocked look. A special thanks to Warren for helping me pick out the color scheme.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving pat down

I really enjoyed this article, but was sad that so few of the topics in it came up over Thanksgiving break, with the exception of the new TSA body scanners. Everyone had something to say and opinions did not necessarily fall along traditional political lines. While I am not going to argue whether these scans actually heighten security or not I would like to direct you to Lewis Black's take on the issue. I think he offers a valuable perspective one the issue. As for me, the next time I fly I'll take into account the attractiveness of the person doing the "patting down" and then decide. If I do decide to go through the machine I think I will ask for a copy of my scan as a keepsake.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Back in Black - Nanny State
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorThe Daily Show on Facebook

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween: a break in slogging

I have been a lazy blogger long enough and this week forces combined to bring about enough momentum that resulted in a blog post. First my sister in law knitted me a lovely beanie which adorns my head in the picture. Second, my disgust that "teen advocate" and "worst dancer ever in her age group" Bristol Palin has not yet been voted off Dancing With the Stars- yes I am a little ashamed to admit I watch it almost weekly. I justify it as room mate bonding time- nonetheless I needed to showcase the beanie and channel my Bristol frustration in a more productive manner, hence my Halloween costume: me trying to look like a pregnant teen indicated by the leggings and Ugg boots.

Fortunately, I don't look like Bristol Palin and have about twice as much rhythm than her, which isn't saying much. (I think my Bishop might have an incriminating video of pregnant Jessica dancing to the song "Dancing with Yourself," I am astounded by the number of people who fought the urge to bust a move during that song, its so danceable.) Any ways, at the Halloween Party I went to Friday night I had to put Juno on my name tag and Future Breastfeeder for anyone to figure out that I wasn't just looking for an excuse to walk around knocked up.

In conclusion, I love my beanie, I hope Bristol gets voted off DWTS soon, but fear the conservative conspiracy that is keeping her on will last at least through the elections this week, and can only imagine how hard it is to get around when one is really pregnant. It was hard enough to bend over and such with just a pillow duct taped to my abdomen.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My weekend as a hipster

What better way to describe my weekend as a hipster then by rekindling one of my long lost hipster-like habits: blogging. While I did not go to NYC for the express purpose of being a hipster it quickly became the theme of the trip.

This weekend was as much about understanding the meaning of the word hipster as being one myself. In addition to discussion of the word with various people throughout the weekend I also defered to two reliable web sources on the subject: urban dictionary and wikipedia.

Regardless of the definition it is how one uses the word, either to disparage or flatter that matters. In order to be the best hipster possible I brought along Brooke, my hipster coach, who unabashedly embraces her inner hipster. With Brooke's help and some consultation from Carissa--who claims she is not a hipster but if being a hipster is all about being cool she is inherently one-- you would think I couldn’t mess it up.

I even bought a hipster purse and aviator glasses. Unfortunately, as hard as I tried to be ironic and look cool and unconcerned about everything around me, my wonder of NYC and love of pop culture media references won out and I found myself saying things like, “Hey, where’s Fox books and the Little Shop Around the Corner?” "isn’t that where they filmed (insert any number of NYC based films here)" and "where's Woody Allen or John Stewart?"

Though I don't consider myself a hipster (though many disagree) I had a great time in NYC and am perplexed that many things I enjoy such as listening to indy rock, gardening, recycling, long boarding, rebuilding old bikes and riding said bike to work have been co-opted by hipster culture. My only consolation is I perhaps am less apathetic.

Hipster consultant, Carissa (center) and Hipster Coach, Brooke (right)
Us crossing the Brooklyn bridge, Brooklyn being a hipster haven.

Brooklyn bridge from the Brooklyn side. I recommend going across to anyone. I hear it is even more amazing at night.

Much to my delight there was an actual hipster exhibit going on at the Met.

More Pictures:

Hot Chocolate at Max Brenner's, or more appropriately describe- a melted chocolate bar. So thick and delicious.

Nice Policeman who saw me struggling with a self take and offered to take our picture but after one person in our party refused to be photographed he agreed to be in our picture instead. Then gave us a NYC police patch, although I like to refer to is as a NYC badge of honor.

Time Square

Brooke on Wall Street in front of the NY stock exchange

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I bet you can guess the topic...Gardening!

I swear some day I will find another topic to blog about, but until I receive the necessary creative inspiration I will continue to blog about my garden. Kirsten and I planted our little garden about 6 weeks ago. At that time our "children" looked like this:

Now they look like this:

We have many blossoms and even small fruits forming, however we are realizing how unprepared we are for our "children" to grow up. Thus, like any good parents we will be hitting the books (or wikipedia) again to figure out when one should pick Kale or Collards or just how often does one need to cut back cilantro?

Here's a pictures our of Zucchini and Butternut squash the two plants that in a few short weeks may grow so big that small children will become lost in my back yard.

Zucchini blossom
Roma tomatoes

Sunday, April 25, 2010


This weekend is the first that I haven't done something garden related since my last soil preperation post. When Kirsten and I started this garden, we didn't think it would take up about a month just to get it planted. We were so careful to prepare the soil buy the seedlings and seeds, by the time it came to planting we were a little lax and just kind of threw the stuff in the ground. The plants seem to be surviving regardless of our planting haste.

Kirsten and I joke how this gardening venture is a bit like parenting. I hope our gardening partnership works out because if it doesn't visitation rights and weeding responsibilities could get messy, not to mention divvying up the harvest. Just in case something goes awry here are some picture that show of us taking care of our plants, but please notice who is actually watering:)

Here's what we planted (that I can remember):
Serrano Peppers
Red Bell Peppers
Green Beans
Collards and Kale
Egg Plant
Butternut Squash
Pumpkins ( we don't really know how these will turn out but decided to give it a try)

Seedlings that we got at a community garden. They were so cheap. After we bought these we picked up some seeds a Home Depot and our were so much cheaper than theirs. We celebrated like and good Americans by spending the savings on brunch:)

Me giving the crucial nectar of life (water) to the plants.

Kirsten "taking care" of the plants

A newly planted garden.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Gardening: Soil Test and Prep

There are two garden plots in the backyard of the house I am currently living in Atlanta, crying out to be planted. I heard their cries and solicited the help of my coworker and office-mate Kirsten to help me plant a garden this season. Neither of us have extensive gardening experience. Even though my family had a garden growing up, my memories recall the weeding more then the preparation or planting. Fortunately, we work in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the CDC and are surrounded by people with who know and know people who know.



Last week we started our gardening efforts in earnest. We bought a soil testing kit and tested our soil to see if it was conducive to planting. While the PH was neutral, it was very low in Potassium, Nitrogen and Phosphate. That meant that yesterday we headed over to Farmer D's for fertilizer and 14 bags of compost. Even though my little Mazda has made it from Utah to Michigan with all my belongings, and from Michigan to Atlanta packed to the brim, these 14 bags of compost provided it's greatest test of strength yet.

Soil Test Results

Car of compost

Yesterday morning Kirsten and I set to work incorporating all this compost and fertilizer into our two plots. I think the before and after pictures demonstrate well enough how strenuous the task was. Lucky for us it was a beautiful morning and we are much closer to being ready to plant our garden.



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Health Care Reform Means for Me

Today, was just like any other day. I got up, I went to work, I exercised, etc. However it is not just another normal day. Today 32 million people who were not insured, now have hope of becoming insured. This is amazing! As a public health professional it is not hard to guess why I would be an advocate of health care reform. I don't hide the fact that I think health care is a necessity, that everyone should have access to primary care and appropriate tertiary care (though I will not define what that means here). It has been a long year fraught with political tension, fear and misinformation. Fortunately, while misinformation may never die, in the end fear lost.

Through my schooling and work I have learned a lot about how health care works in America, why it is so expensive and what might be done to "fix" it. I am not naive enough to think that this reform bill is a cure-all, however it is a good step in the right direction. Now that it's done-although it hardly done with actual implementation and crazy lawsuits all ready being file- I hope that other measures to decrease health care costs will be implemented. There have great examples, one is close to my heart as it come from IHC in my home state.

I am a huge advocate of structural and policy change, but one thing that is lost in all the political debate is what health care reform means for me. I am not talking about the New York Times calculator that requires my income, marital and insurance status in order spit out how I am affected. I am talking about what personal reforms do I need make in order to help myself, my family and my community be healthier? True health is not just the absence of illness. I'll leave you to decide what health means for you, but I hope it has something to do with connecting with and helping others whether it is codified in law or not.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Oakland Cemetery

Last weekend I visited Atlanta's historic Oakland Cemetery. I love cemeteries. They are ever so peaceful, even when they are located in metropolitan areas or right next to a MARTA station. A few friends and I took a tour of the cemetery that focused on symbols throughout the cemetery. Unfortunately, I didn't listen very well and can't tell you much about the symbols but I am pretty sure about half the people on the tour were Dan Brown wannabes doing research for a debut novel.

Oakland can boast of some prominent residents:) Margaret Mead, author of Gone With the Wind is buried in Oakland, as well as golf legend Bobby Jones, famous for his Grand Slam sweep, winning all four golf tournaments of his era in the calendar year 1930. Oakland also has numerous sections, I didn't make it to all of them and need to go back but I loved the Jewish section and it was the first cemetery I have visited with its own confederate section.

I thought this was a really unique headstone with apparently a lot of symbolism since our tour group spent a lot of time there. The cross, the wreath, the open book, even looking up all means something and someday I will look into it further.

Here's the resting place of the great Bobby Jones. As you can see his grave is littered with golf balls and on top there are lots of tees and score cards.

A grave in the confederate section being swallowed by the trunk of a tree. I don't dare touch on what I personally think that might symbolize for confederate goals.

The Jewish section was a bit like a metropolitan skyline- the tombstones tend to be tall rather than wide and were so many different heights. I also like to find names I like in cemeteries. Since previous cemetery jaunts have provided with me names for female progeny I focused on male names. Do you think a non-Jewish person can name a son the first name Cohen? I really like that name.

I don't think this one needs much explanation.

After we ate at the ever-so-appropriately named restaurant- Six Feet Under.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Mom, ahead of her time


I have been thinking about some of the issues and ideas that I deal with daily in my job, either from my work or those of my coworkers. Ideas such as eat local, grow your own garden, know where your food comes from, breastfeed, exercise regularly, limit TV viewing, don't drink sugary drinks and eat fruits and vegetables. My whole division is dedicated to these issues. While none of these things are novel to me I have always chalked that up studying public health, but the more I reflect, I realize it is thanks to my mom.

My mom was the daughter of a farmer and had a green thumb- I think Matt stole those genes from the rest of us siblings- so we always had a garden and used home-made compost for fertilizer. I have vivid memories of carrying buckets of grossness behind the house to dump into the compost pile. Since my grandpa had cows most of the meet we ate growing up was various types of beef that came from the slaughter of his cows, so we knew where is came from.

Uncle Brian's wedding, mom's the one on the far right. This really is a great picture that captures so much family awkwardness all at once.

As for breastfeeding, one of my fondest memories as a child is leaning on moms shoulder and watching James, my younger brother, breastfeed. Breastfeeding was never a gross, inappropriate or something that should be covered up-except maybe at church- but was a natural part of life. The fact that James breastfed at all actually surprises me because he was premature and had to be in the hospital for a 21 days. Who knows what they fed him there and how hard mom probably had to work to get him breastfeeding.

I don't remember watching a lot of TV growing up. Of course, mom let me indulge in the PBS greats like Sesame Street, Today Special and Mr. Rogers but other than that I spent time doing other things like playing with friends, annoying my siblings or working. Work! You heard me right, I had to work. Each of us children had 'jobs' that were assigned by means of a carefully-crafted job chart. Much time was consumed by jobs. This was something I detested at the time, but since have been ever so grateful that my parents taught us kids to work.

In terms of nutrition we always had great balanced meals and drank juice, not pop. Even today I mainly drink water, milk and juice; I am not a fan of soda or pop as some people call it. Due to the fact that we had a huge garden we had lots of fruits and vegetables. A vegetable garden in the back yard and and orchard and berry patches in front.

Mom not only exercised but she took me with her. I remember spending many hours at the community pool playing by myself or with Adam in the shallow end while mom watched from her water aerobics class. Sunday walks were common and with multiple gardens there was lots of yard work.

All I have explained is really just a long way to say that my mom was ahead of her time. Today she would probably be termed a 'foodie', a hippie, a conservationist or a member of the slow food movement. However to me she was just mom, a really smart, great woman.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year!

While most people in the US celebrated Valentines Day today, at my house, we celebrated Chinese New Year. Our celebration took the form of a potluck dinner. The result was lots of delicious food, me overeating and developing a huge food-baby. We had wontons, spring roles, stir-fry, cucumber salad, fortune cookies and much more.

Here is the dining area with all the delicious food.

Food and Friends. Rob, Sara, Nikki, Carrie, Brooke and Your's truly around the table.

Jake, the camera-man and main planner of the event so he gets a solo shot.

Not so Hotlanta: Part Dex

I just had to add some pictures from the day after the snow storm. It was quite beautiful and the roads quite treacherous. I just stayed in home.

Friday, February 12, 2010


With no excuse not to blog today here are a few pictures of snow in Atlanta. I really can't complain when I consider that my DC friends have been snowed-in all week. A fact that has been reinforced over and over again on NPR. Thanks to All Things Considered, I now know what books to read when it's snowing, what foods to eat when it's snowing and what swear words to say when it's snowing; if I hear another NPR story about being snowed-in I may lose it. I was almost relieved when I heard a story about Bill Clinton being hospitalized.

Ironic that I am now the one snowed in, not because I can't handle snow but native Atlantans can't, and I don't want to be out on those roads.

Monday, January 18, 2010


It's about time I posted something; you would think with graduating I would have time to blog but not so. I just moved to the Atlanta area to start a fellowship with the CDC. My friends Kara and Mike graciously volunteered to accompany me so I wouldn't have to do it all alone. We arrived Friday to beautiful 50-something degree weather. Unfortunately, the weather turned sour, and rained all Saturday leaving us to have a soggy walk around down town. We did have lots o' fun at the Coke Museum, where we tasted over 60 different coke products from around the world, and the aquarium, where we met up with Jody, a fellow Michigander in town for a friends wedding. Here are some pictures documenting our adventures:

I think this photo is a bit awkward, but I swear that's how the photographer set us up with the Coke bear.

A torch from the Olympics in Atlanta.

Kara and Your's Truly

Mike, Jody and I making fish faces, although I would understand if you were confused by Mike's not-so-fish face.

Hammer-Head Shark

Random Fish

A Whale Shark

The whole gang

Please hum the theme to jaws while looking at this picture.