My Lyrics for Halloween

It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year!
With kids trick-or-treating
And everyone greeting
With candy and cheer!
It’s the most wonderful tiiime, of the year!

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Astronauts for Halloween!

First off, Amber chose to be an astronaut this year. Yes! And it was all on her own! No prompting or hinting from me, though I was very happy she picked that! Later I asked if Aurora could be an astronaut too. Amber said only if she (Aurora) wasn’t an orange one.

So last weekend (not this immediately past one), Amber and I tried to tackle the helmet issue. Internet seemed to think the best solution was paper mache. Hmm… I’ve never done that on my own, I don’t actually even remember the last time I ever did paper mache! But, recipe and advice from a couple sites set me on a seemingly doable path, and some kind of echo of a memory surfaced enough for me to get it. (See image #1)

I used the “COOK” method:

Amber and I practiced on Aurora’s balloon. 2 layers, then let dry completely, then 2 more layers, was my favorite site’s recommendation. I realized at this point that each layer should go in the opposite direction of the previous, up and over one layer, around for the next, so it would be easy(-ier) to see where the second layer actually started and stopped, so as not to put too many or too few layers in any given spot. Then we, or rather I late that night, got the first 2 layers onto Amber’s balloon. (See image #2)

But I noticed that the paper mache from earlier that day wasn’t smooth anymore on Aurora’s. I thought perhaps using warm “glue” had caused the balloon to shrink a little as the “glue” and paper cooled. The next morning Amber’s was mostly dry, only part not was the part that had been in the bowl all night. Aurora’s was still pretty wet, and smaller. Later that day I tried to slide the paper mache down and push the balloon up inside Aurora’s hoping to get it smooth again maybe far enough to make a short helmet for her. It all moved the way I expected, but the paper mache didn’t straighten out. I pushed and slid a little harder, and heard a distinct hiss…. Argh! Her balloon had a hole! Well, oh well. Amber’s was the more important one. Aurora wouldn’t know if she didn’t have one that it was missing. Plus, given her reaction to Amber’s near finished helmet later, there’s a very good chance Aurora would refused to wear it if it did get made! I got 2 more layers on Amber’s that night, the last of which I did in white printer paper on the advice of that same site. (See picture #3)

I was very glad for that white paper advice. Not only would painting white be easier, but the lines looked very cool. I had somewhat inadvertently done the last 2 layers in the proper directly to make it look great. We ended up not painting at all!

The, finally, we got to pop the balloon and cut the bottom edge even all around. I was worried it wouldn’t fit over Amber’s head and I’d have to get creative with cutting the visor hole so she could get it on. The balloon had shrunk just a little bit as the “glue” dried. But nope. It came out amazing! WOO! (See picture #4)

Lastly, we cut a visor hole for Amber. It all worked perfect. So glad!

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AADL Nerd Nite Solar Eclipse Presentation

Oh YAY! The Ann Arbor District Library posted my short talk on the Aug Eclipse that I did for Nerd Nite Ann Arbor! You can view it here, if you want to see me do a presentation despite the topic being past relevant.

Thank Emily for the suggestion. I hope to get a video of my Ceres presentation to post too.

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So Hard

It’s been so hard getting over the Summer slump and forcing myself back to working on getting into Med School, especially with Summer lasting so far into September. BLAH. But I did. It’s not an immediate path anymore, I have to take Biochem (1 class) and Organic chem (2 classes) first, somehow. Then I had to force myself to finish up again last week, which due to a not-meant-to-be-inspirational post from Lisa, I did! So then last Wed I went to the U of M Postbac MEDPREP informational open house. Informative! But, *sigh* challenges and having to “defend” myself and my actions thus far and then the follow up swirl of emotions to deal with: confrontation, obsession over if the wording in my application essays was just right even though its too late to change them, anxiety over waiting for an answer even though its the weekend now and doesn’t count towards the review time, ….

I’ve been wondering for a month (or two?) if I’m really doing the right thing. If I’m being fair to my kids. I’m not going to have a flexible work schedule as a doctor. I’m not going to be able to make last minute decisions or changes to our schedule. I’m probably going to have night shifts and lots of 12 hour shifts keeping me away from dinner and bedtime once through med school! I keep thinking how selfish I’m being. I know I’m a selfish person, I had kids on my own because *I* needed to. Now I’m planning to sell our house, possibly (but hopefully not) have to move Amber to a new school, and scale back on our lives, because *I* want to go to medical school. *sigh*

It’s so hard. Trying to find the best way to get where I want to be. Keep getting the timeline pushed farther and farther away because I need those 3 classes in order to do well on the MCATs. (Did I tell you how I did on them last May? Percentages are not how many questions I answered correctly, they are how many people I scored better than: 90% on Critical Analysis and Reading. 75% on Psychology and Sociology. 7% and 13% on Organic chem and Biochem.) But, at all local and online colleges, the 3 classes I need have prerequisite classes and the courses I took back in college have “timed out”. I took them 17 – 20 years ago, so they aren’t considered valid anymore. Only U of M doesn’t require prereqs, only demonstration of proficiency. So I’m trying to get into the MEDPREP program to take those 3 classes I need. Well, we’ll see. Two of the guys in charge recommended I ask the MEDPREP administration for a consultation on my application, to give me advice on what I really should be doing. I think if they say no to U of M Postbac MEDPREP program, I’ll just go take the courses online at UNE. It will end up being at least 5 or 6, instead of 3. More money. More time. :(

It’s just so difficult. And I keep going back to thinking how bad financially I’ve been doing this Summer and Fall. Trying to catch up, finally seemingly starting do so! And then another unexpected medical bill shows up. I know how to fix the money issues:
1) get a better paying job. I’m pretty underpaid, but I told my boss last year I was only going to work 37 hours a week, and I have a lot of flexibility, so I’ve been fine with it. Plus, why go through all the effort of finding and landing a new job, and then having to make it a priority to establish myself at the new job, when I’m planning to go off to Grad school?
2) sell the house now, buy a new smaller home of some kind with the profit, and then have at least half the monthly mortgage payment (if not more) as “disposable income” EACH MONTH!

This morning I started thinking about all this again. I could get a better paying job AND sell the house / buy a smaller place, and end up with ideally a whole bunch of extra money that I could use to do the other ideas to help people I’ve stacked up over the years:

  • A seasonal access free storage facility for homeless
  • “Penpals” app designed to ensure teens have friends when entering high school
  • Try to do the “same great medical care if you have Platinum insurance or only emergency / hospital insurance” doctor’s office idea despite not being a doctor myself. This involves convincing doctors to donate 8 hours of their time once a month to the office. And trying to get at least one insurance company to let the office buy X number of “beneficiary to be named later” insurance plans – basically buying coverage for X number standard medical procedures and screenings per month.

I’d be using my existing skills for these. Hopefully could save up enough money in a few years to go part time or even maybe early retire, and focus on the kids and the helping other ideas.

Then I turned on to Main St and heard sirens. I looked around quickly, nothing. I looked in the rear view mirror: Ambulance behind me. I immediately pulled over. As the ambulance passed me and carefully drove through the lights in front of us, I was reminded of a LOT in less than a second. Culminating with I NEED to be in the ER.

I can’t. I just can’t. It’s hard, but I can’t give up. I HAVE to go to Med school. I need to help other people in that way. And when the girls are off to college I can go do Doctors Without Borders, until there starts to be grandchildren. :)

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The Wounds of Dementia

I imagine this is what my Mother, and others like her, feel like these days. I’ve never heard this song this way before, not sure I’ll ever hear it the original way again.

“I must be looking for something / Something sacred I lost
But the river is wide / And it’s too hard to cross

And even though I know the river is wide
I walk down every evening and I stand on the shore
And try to cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out what I’ve been looking for

In the middle of the night / I go walking in my sleep
Through the valley of fear / To a river so deep

And I’ve been searching for something / Taken out of my soul
Something I’d never lose / Something somebody stole

I don’t know why I go walking at night
But now I’m tired and I don’t want to walk anymore”

Billy Joel – The River of Dreams

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Been researching Ceres (dwarf planet in the asteroid belt) and the NASA Dawn mission for my presentation in early October. It’s all more fascinating than I already thought!

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Eclipse Viewing Party 2017 – The Long Version

1) Here in Ann Arbor, 82% of Sun coverage, attendance was estimated by the library to be between 2,500 and 3,000 based on door count and that people walked away after glasses were handed out.

I was still able to do the yard stick eclipse demo a few times, when there weren’t people lined up to borrow my glasses for a moment or to ask questions.

2) The best part, for me, was watching the faces of people light up and listening to their reactions when I gave them my eclipse glasses to look at the Sun for a moment. From young to old, the reaction was almost always the same. Amazement, exclamations (of varying strengths), and joy. :D I especially remember one elderly woman, just so moved by the experience. And later one teen-aged boy with that face of disdain at being dragged around by his Mom to something he didn’t care about. After his Mom looked through my glasses, she made him take them. The way his face morphed from teenage contempt, to shock and awe, and then to a smile – he even laughed! – was just so wonderful to witness.

3) Seeing the glowing gold eclipsed Sun with my own eyes… priceless.

4) Lots of people has questions for me – from Eclipse related to how can they learn more to where I was from, worked, or went to school – which I answered to the best of my ability. I twice told people about the applying for the SSA program in September. One man was so elated to meet an event host who knew what he was talking about when he mentioned the EM drive, so we discussed that for a short while. One parent told me her child only wanted to come because someone from NASA was going to be here. Three people asked for pictures with me, which I happily did. Two people wanted handouts to take back to their classes. I gave away hundreds of the left over Cassini photo of Saturn eclipsing the Sun stickers I had left over from my June event. One man did not speak English as a first language, he tried very hard to understand my answers to his technical questions, then he would repeat back to me in his own words. Only once did I have to correct him and explain a different way. Once he got done with all his questions, he took one of my yard stick eclipse demos and did the demo for me to make sure he understood it. Then he asked if he could do the demo for the children coming up wanting to see it. I said yes, and thank you! It freed me up to be able to monitor the glasses use and answer questions! I did get two of “those guys”, those who just won’t stop talking. One eventually left after I started debunking his stories about eclipses not being significant to science. The other (who was the one who brought up the EM drive) stayed until the end, literally the library staff took the table out from between the two of us and then told him I had to leave to get my kids. He was nice enough, he did not complain when I would break the conversation and let others ask questions, but I couldn’t find a nice way to ask him to go.

5) The worst part for me was the heat and dehydration. Thankfully the library staff member assigned to help me found a handful of water bottles for me!

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Blood Journey

I just got a notification from the Red Cross Blood Donor app that my blood has been sent to Cleveland Clinic. This is so cool!

If you make an appointment to donate through the Blood Donor app, it will track your donation through it’s “Blood Journey”. You don’t find out who (all) gets your blood, but apparently you do find out where it goes once it’s needed!

It says in storage for up to a certain amount of time depending on what you donated (whole blood can be separated into it’s components if needed):
- 42 days for red blood cells
- 5 days for platelets
- 1 year for plasma

I donated whole blood on 7/29. It went into storage around 7/31 – 8/1 (I don’t remember exactly, and the app isn’t telling me anymore). So about 21 days in storage for this donation.

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Solar Eclipse Viewing Party 2017

Rough estimates put attendance at 3,000+. We were expecting maybe a little over 1,000… So, our plans for this event were shot away. Enough people had shown up far enough in advance the library couldn’t even set up two of the demonstrations we had planned, nor could they put out most of the children’s craft activities. But we managed to get through it!

After a lot of people grabbed glasses and bailed – despite knowing there were not enough and we were asking people to share – there Were a handful of attendees that shared eclipse glasses with all the others who didn’t get any. I saw one person who brought their own pair sharing. Good people. And, I’m happy to say, despite all the glasses hunting, we had a very peaceful acting crowd in whole. No issues there at least!

The best part, for me, was watching the faces of people light up and listening to their reactions when I gave them my eclipse glasses to look at the Sun for a moment. From young to old, the reaction was almost always the same. Amazement, exclamations (of varying strengths), and joy. :D

I have, however, officially experienced warnings signs of dehydration. Not. Fun.

Seeing the glowing gold eclipsed Sun with my own eyes… priceless.

Thanks to my Dad for the pictures.

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Near Perfect Rain

Spent a little time outside today in the nice warm-ish rain. :) Mmmm

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