Monday, June 26, 2006

At the Hellman Homestead

Well, Claire & I have now officially moved from Philadelphia--the bulk of our possessions being housed in two large storage crates somewhere on the East Coast--and we've made it to Indianapolis relatively unscathed. Dad is recovering slowly but surely, thanks in part to Zeus, recipient of the 2006 Dog of the Year Award. I spent most of the day swimming, reading, dusting off camping equipment, and practicing portaging the canoe in the backyard.

We'll be in Duluth by tomorrow night and I can't wait to show Claire around!!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Keep On Truckin'

Packing stinks. Don't let anybody ever tell you otherwise.

My blogging is about to become a lot more erratic in the coming a result of the Big Move. I may post an entry here or there but likely not on a regular basis until we get squared away in France. For now, the Master Plan is the following:

Saturday, June 24th: pack all our shit in storage pods
Sunday, June 25th: drive to Indianapolis, visit with Mom & Dad Hellman
Monday, June 26th-Tuesday, June 27th: drive to Duluth
Wed, June 28th: my friend Nir arrives in Duluth, prepare for camping trip
Thurs, June 29th - Sat, July 1st: camping trip in BWCA!
Sun, July 2nd: drive Nir to Minneapolis
Mon, July 3rd - Mon, July 10th: hang out in Duluth
Tues, July 11th: drive to Indianapolis
Wed, July 11th - Friday, July 14th: hang out in Indy with the 'rents, Cathy & Henry
Sat, July 15th: fly to Paris!

One of the lakes we'll be camping at in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area is Horseshoe Lake. I'll bet you can tell which one it is from this aerial photo:

For anybody looking to get in touch with us during this time frame, both Claire & I will have our cell phones available 'til we leave for Paris.

Nate: 215-498-0009
Claire: 267-978-1675

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It Is Done

Well, it turns out that I went out in a "blaze of glory" with respect to my residency & last shift in the ER on Monday night. Not really any lulls in the action, unfortunately. I saw a ridiculously high number of patients and by the end of my shift felt dehydrated and beaten down. But then I remembered: I'm finished! I celebrated with my friend Roger by eating a delicious Phiadelphia-style cheesesteak from one of the many food carts just outside the medical center. It wasn't the longest cheesesteak in the world like this one, but it was still pretty damn tasty after a night like that one.

Congrats to the Miami Heat who are the 2005-06 NBA Champs. Dwayne Wade was spectacular. I hope that LeBron or Nowitzki or Kobe or SOMEBODY rises to the occasion next year to stop him because I'd prefer that we not have a Miami Heat dynasty, even though I was happy for them to win this one.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Penultimate

So I finished my 2nd-to-last shift in the Emergency Room, which is also my penultimate shift of all residency. In a matter of hours I will be heading on in for my absolute FINAL responsibility of my residency, working the uncoveted 7pm-7am shift one last time. Part of me wants it to be an epic night, full of crazy ER stories and challenging patients, which is certainly a possibility on a Monday night following a wonderfully-weathered weekend during which many folks have ignored their medical problems for a spell. However, the more practical resident side of me wants it to be an unremarkable 12-hour shift without stress, so that I might leave on Tuesday morning with a bounce in my step and lightness of my heart. Whatever. The end-result will be the same: tonight shall be the last time I ever have to spend overnight in the hospital ever, and for that I am as happy as these two gay Japanese superheroes in the picture below, which I've been waiting to use for quite some time...

Saturday, June 17, 2006


It's time for the homestretch: only three more ER shifts to go! I'm working tonight (Saturday night), tomorrow night, and Monday night--the dreaded graveyard 7pm-to-7am shift each time. However, armed with the knowledge that I will be turning my pager in first thing on Tuesday morning, I am hopeful that these last few moments of residency shall go relatively fast...

The movie "Nacho Libre" was nothing short of brilliant. For anybody else who has already seen it, the top two scenes are: (a) when the "Devil's Cavemen" wrestling duo first show up, and (b) when Nacho uses his eagle powers to soar through the air in order to deliver a flying tackle to defeat the great Ramses. Go see it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sing It Loud & Sing It Proud, Dirk

So I'm watching Game 4 of the NBA Finals last night, and my wife asked me kind of a funny question: Why are those fans waving big signs of David Hasselhoff around? It turns out that Dallas phenom Dirk Nowitzki (who is from Germany) recently admitted that every time he goes to shoot free throws, he calms himself by humming pop tunes sung by Dave Hasselfhoff in his head which were popular in his native country when he was a young lad. So now the Miami fans are evidently taunting him with cutouts of the Knight Rider himself while he is contemplating his free throws. I guess it kind of worked: in Game 3 during a crucial situation Dirk missed a FT which would have tied the game and the Mavs ended up blowing the game.

Nowitzki joins the legion of NBA players who have developed sometimes bizarre and quirky rituals prior to shooting their 'throws. Jeff Hornacek (handy jumpshooter of the 80s/90s) would brush his hands over his face so as to "wave" to his children on TV. Similarly, Jason Kidd blows kisses to his kid while at the line. Sherman Douglas (sorry, couldn't find a picture) did this weird "salute" gesture during which he would line up the basket with his arm before shooting. One of the top free throw shooters ever, Rick Barry, was a master of the underhanded (a.k.a. "granny") shot. And Shaq shoots bricks like nobody else.

I am really looking forward to seeing this movie Nacho Libre starring Jack Black. It's a goofy dude movie, and fortunately I am scheduled to see it this evening with fellow goofy dudes Dave Portnoy & Matt Ortman. Should be fun.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It's a Zoo

Back in the Emergency Room for my glorious last waning days of my residency's a little weird to be ending my time down there, as opposed to doing a regular rotation working with the standard Internal Medicine faculty. Instead, I'm trapped in the ER, which is constantly in state of near-chaos at best and zoo-like catastrophic frenzy at worst.

Over the years I have fortunately gotten to know many of the ER residents and attendings, and overall this makes it a more pleasant experience. As a young Medicine resident, it's easy to get royally pissed off at the ER for being the source of your painful admissions and not always obtaining an accurate history and physical. After rotating through the Emergency Room and realizing the sheer volume of workload the ER has to deal with, most residents (including myself) are far more understanding and respectful of the job that ER doctors perform. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that most research careers don't really jive with a career in Emergency Room, I would even consider doing ER Medicine myself. These docs truly are on the "front lines" and the ER is often where a lot of the fun stuff of taking care of truly sick patients takes place.

I did another lumbar puncture (a.k.a. "spinal tap") yesterday. I've gotten quite good at them, if I do say so myself, largely as a result of my time in Africa, and in a weird way I will miss doing them (you don't really need to do them ever as a Nephrologist). Yesterday I was one red blood cell away from getting a "champagne tap", one of the great traditions of Medicine. The tradition is as follows: when you do an LP, you get back spinal fluid, which should in normal situations be completely clear. You look at it under the microscope, and then count how many red blood cells (RBCs) and how many white blood cells (WBCs) are present in each high-powered field. A "champagne tap" is when your spinal fluid shows 0 RBCs and 0 WBCs in the fluid in two separate tubes, which is usually indicative of a superb job of maneuvering the spinal needle into place without any undue trauma. Most importantly, if you obtain a champagne tap, your Attending has to buy you a bottle of champagne as a gift! Yesterday my tap showed 1 RBC and 0 WBC in tube 1, and 0 RBC and 0 WBC in tube 2. So close! And thus is the elusiveness of the champagne tap...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sports Sunday

It's my first full weekend off since April, and it's been spent largely packing our stuff in preparation for the move. To help make the moving chores more palatable, however, we've kept the TV tuned to a variety of exciting sporting events as we work. To begin with, we watched Rafael Nadal defeat Roger Federer in the final, thrilling match to win the French Open. Currently, we're catching some World Cup soccer. And later this evening I plan on tuning in to Game 2 of the NBA Finals: The Miami Heat versus the Dallas Mavericks (a matchup I admittedly would not have thought very likely at the onset of this NBA season). Regardless of who wins, one of these teams will earn their first-ever NBA championship, which is generally something I support. Share the wealth, I say. Who needs another Pistons/Spurs/Lakers/Celtics team to win?

By the way, one of my friends pointed me towards this interesting facial hair-oriented web site, in response to our own HUP SAR Men's Club Mustache Competetion earlier in the year. Be prepared to be blown away.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Back to the Lab Again

For the past two weeks I've been back in the lab, trying to finish up that one last elusive experiment before I turn in my lab coat and safety goggles.

Just kidding, I don't actually wear a lab coat or safety goggles. I'm just reinforcing the stereotype of the geeky scientist.

After that, I still have six ER shifts left to go...then I'm done!

Not much else exciting to report on currently apart from my never-ending quest for cardboard boxes as Claire & I plan to move in a few weeks. Seen any?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Well, 6.6.06 has nearly passed, and it doesn't seem as if anything too freaky has happened (much like the absolutely anti-climactic Y2K instance). The weirdest thing I suppose is this website declaring 6.6.06 to be the National Day of Slayer (the speed metal band we all know and love).

Book I just started reading: "Horsemen of the Esophagus: Competitive Eating and the Big Fat American Dream". It's by Jason Fagone, a local Philadelphia writer, who travels to 27 eating contests in an attempt to make sense of America's growing fascination with the gluttonous world of food sports. Perhaps along the way I will pass on to you various disgusting factoids that I have learned, such as that Sonia "Black Widow" Thomas holds the record in the tater tot eating competition (250 tots in 5 minutes).

Monday, June 05, 2006

Boolah Boolah

10 years!

It was kind of funny how at my 10th year reunion at Yale, after not having seen several of my classmates for a full decade, fairly often when you'd ask somebody "What's new?", they'd say, "Not much."

In terms of topics of conversation, there is a tendency for it to be a little bland...Where are you living? What's your job? Married/kids? etc etc. I had the added bonus of having to describe my weirdo plans of moving to France for one year. I found that with my closest friends (for instance, my best friend Nir who served as best man at my wedding, below; as well as my former "Big Sib" Barbara Lewis, pictured in patriotic drag on the right--don't even ask) however it was as if we hadn't even left college and we mostly talked about all sorts of random everyday shit. I'm just so glad that I went.

In other news, I finished my LAST CALL of residency. Ordinarily this would be cause for a celebration of the highest magnitude, replete with champagne, dancing girls, and pinatas. The pinatas will have to wait, as there's still a matter of six (potentially very painful) ER shifts left before I call my residency career quits.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bright College Years

Ah, the bright college years. I am reliving my college days this weekend at my 10th (!) College Reunion at Yale. I took the train up from Philly yesterday and since that time it's been an almost non-stop trip down memory lane, as I meet up with former friends & roommates, many of whom I have not seen in 10 years. The night ended at about 3 in the morning at Yorkside Pizza (one of our traditional late-night hangouts) and I'm just now (11:30am the next day) recovering...

On tap for today: I'm probably going to visit some of my old haunts, especially Jonathan Edwards College (the residential college/dorm where I stayed for all 4 years--pictured on right) and hopefully meet up with even more Yale '96ers.

In honor of the occasion, here's an outstanding photo of one of the greatest college pranks ever played. The setting: The annual Harvard-Yale Football Game, 2004, held in Cambridge, MA. A group of Yale students dressed up as Harvardites handed out cards to each and every person sitting in the Harvard section and were told that when everybody lifted the cards up in unison it would spell out a patriotic Harvard message. That message was "We Suck", written in loud red letters, in perfect view of the Yale section on the opposite side of the stadium. If I wasn't going to be a Harvard employee in a year's time, I would seriously consider purchasing a framed picture of this memorable image for my office...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Who's Your Daddy?

Who's your daddy? For the newly-arrived Sara Hauck, born on 5/31/06 at 2:59 pm, the answer is Steve Hauck. A hearty congratulations to my fellow ex-Duluthian Steve and his wife Danette.

Question of the Day, in honor of the upcoming "Superman Returns" movie to which I am (not surprisingly) very much looking forward: what comic book creative team is credited with the creation of Superman, the Man of Steel? Click on the Superman icon below for the answer.