Sunday, August 31, 2008

Exploring Charlestown

We're still in the process of settling in, but this weekend we took some major steps forward in terms of taking things out of boxes and organizing.

We even made time to take a stroll around our new neighborhood!

Here's Claire & Sophie on the boardwalk.
One of the "dry docks" near the U.S.S. Constitution where they used to build naval ships.
View of Boston skyline from Charlestown harbor (you can see the ferry that goes from C'town to the Boston waterfront...a bargain at $1.70).
The Massachusetts Korean War Veteran's Memorial.
Sophie chasing bubbles for the first time at Paul Revere Park.
View of Leonard Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge over the Charles River.
Bunker Hill Memorial at dusk.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Introducing Your 2008-2009 Duluth Dominators

The Duluth Dominators participated in its annual Fantasy Football Draft tonight with a bunch of my Penn buddies (only about half of which still live in Philadelphia...but trash-talking online is one good way to keep in touch). I'm the defending champion and I'm going all-out to defend my title.

The 2008-2009 starting lineup looks like this:

QB: Matt Hasselback, Seattle Seahawks: Consistently puts up big numbers in a West Coast, pass-heavy offense.
RB: Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo Bills: Scarily I just found out that Marshawn has his own blog, and if you want to see some truly atrocious spelling, check it out.
RB: Ryan Grant, Green Bay Packers: He had great numbers the 2nd half of the year, and with Favre gone GB may have to rely more on the running game.
WR: Chad Johnson, Cincinatti Bengals: The guy legally changed his last name to "Ocho Cinco" today--how could I pass that up? He is clearly destined for a monster season.
WR: Torry Holt, St. Louis Rams: He's still the #1 receiver for St. Louis and in my opinion a great deal for a 4th rounder.
TE: Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts: He doesn't rack up the yards, but gets a lot of TD passes (which counts for a lot) from ever-consistent QB Payton Manning.
K: Nate Kaeding, San Diego Chargers: Above-average kicker.
DEF: Green Bay Packers: Without Favre the Green Bay defense will have to step up.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where is Charlestown?

So where's this "Charlestown" place we just moved to?

It's still technically part of Boston, though it is on the opposite bank of the Charles River from the downtown part of Boston (see map); it is bounded on the north by the Mystic River. Charlestown was founded in 1628 as a Puritan colony and is famous from a historical sense in that it was the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill of Revolutionary War fame. The Bunker Hill Monument (below) is a large obelisk-shaped structure which is kind of like a "mini" Washington Monument.

More recently, the building of the cool-looking, cabled Leonard Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in 2003 (which connects Boston with Charlestown) provides a nice scenic backdrop for Charlestown. The supports on the bridge are supposed to mimic the shape of the Bunker Hill Monument.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Okay, so I haven't spoken too much about our house-buying was mostly because I didn't want to jinx things until the deal with done.

But we closed today on a condo in Charlestown (just across the Charles River from downtown Boston) and are moving in tomorrow! Very exciting. Come visit us in our new home!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Neighborhood Park

Here are some pics from yesterday afternoon spent in the park with Sophie who was in a particularly photogenic mood.

Also we had dinner at the "Bluestone Bistro", a place across the street from us we hadn't been to in over a year. Turns out they had $1.00 home brews which weren't bad (shown below). Who knew?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Medal Counts

It's interesting to note that the Olympic medal counts are being reported differently in different countries.

For instance, in the U.S., the standings are being tallied based on the total # of Olympic medals--conveniently giving the Americans a hefty lead over the Chinese.

However I've noticed that on most international web sites, the countries are ranked purely on the total # of gold medals, which places the Chinese comfortably in first.

While I certainly admit that the "spirit of the Olympics" is not embodied by concentrating solely on which country has done better than another, my instinct for fairness leads me to suggest a more just ranking system.

I would propose that 3 points be given for gold, 2 points for silver, and 1 point for bronze--that way, not all medals are considered equal, but the focus isn't only on the gold medalers--which seems unfair given that often the difference between 1st and 2nd can be a few hundredths of a second.

Inicidentally, using this method as of today the U.S. & China would be virtually deadlocked in first place (US: 191 pts versus China: 190 pts).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Claire!

Another birthday for my beautiful wife Claire! Let's wish her a happy one.

The three of us (myself, Claire, Sophie) went out to a nice French restaurant tonight in the Kenmore Square area of Boston as a special treat. It's "Restaurant Week" meaning that a lot of the traditonally more expensive resaturants have a more affordable menu for us non-old money New Englanders in the area.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yo Yo Nation

I neglected to mention one of the unusual spectacles we witnessed a couple weekends back in NYC--an international yo-yo competition! This dude's performance wasn't part of the actual competition but he was more than willing to ham it up for the cameras.

Yo-yo history actually dates back to ancient times. They are thought to have originated in China but are first mentioned in Greek culture from as early as 500 B.C.

By the way, this link starring Neil Patrick Harris is hysterical, if you haven't seen it already.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sophie & Nye

Sophie & Nye--separated only by about 2 months--are bonded by the fact that their fathers were both nephrology fellows during their first year of life.

On Sunday, Nye celebrated her 1st birthday party. It took quite a few pictures, but I finally found one where they appear to be friends.

More often than not, however, there was a Battle for the Toys, resulting in some physical altercations as shown here. Why can't we all just get along?

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Question: What do Nate Hellman and Bruce Willis have in common?

Answer: Aside from the obvious (rugged good looks, action hero), they are also both MOONLIGHTERS.

In order to make a few extra bucks on the side (and in order to stay financially afloat in the very expensive city of Boston) I started my moonlighting career today. I'll be doing periodic shifts as an internal medicine "hospitalist" (a doctor who only takes care of patients sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, rather than the generally healthier clinic population). Interestingly I am not allowed to moonlight as a nephrologist until after I have completed two years of fellowship--so it will be all internal medicine moonlighting opportunities for the most part. Today I did a 7am-7pm shift, which was generally much easier than what I'm used to doing.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Favre's Blog?

Weird headline in the wake of the big "What will happen to Brett Favre" which played itself out last week (with Favre heading to the NY Jets after a painfully drawn out decision by the ex-Green Bay Packer to un-retire): "Favre's deal with Packers included souvenirs, blog, report says." Evidently Green Bay so against his coming back and playing this year, they offered him a $20 million marketing package, including....a blog! Don't let them pull one on you, Brett--anybody can get a FREE blog on; there's no need for a $20 million marketing package!

There are some good sports blogs written by athletes out there...probably the best ones I've occasionally perused are recently retired NBA journeyman Paul Shirley, and Red Sox ace Curt Schilling.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pike Lake Triathlon

You know what the say: like son, like father.

16 years ago, I completed the Pike Lake Triathlon "Short Course" (1/3 mile swim, 10.3 mile bike, 2.5 mile run) in my hometown of Duluth, MN. I recall being one of the last people out of the water (suffice it to say, my swimming skills are not those of Michael Phelps') but had fun passing people during the bike portion.

Not to be outdone, just last week, my father Rick Hellman completed his first Pike Lake Triathlon! Apparently it's now named the Brewhouse Triathlon, but it looks like the course is pretty much the same. Congrats, Dad! His friend Bob Nesheim put together this photo montage.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nate versus Lobster

A photo series detailing one man's struggle with a fierce stuffed lobster.

The End.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's All Happening At the Zoo

On Sunday we went to the Bronx Zoo--I hadn't been there since my college days. I really like this zoo; it's a nice wide open space that is pretty remarkable for a densely-packed place like the Bronx. My only objection is that you have to pay extra for attractions such as the children's zoo & gorilla exhibit. However there's still more than enough to see with the regular admission, and we didn't come close to seeing everything before it started downpouring rain at around 4pm (which seems to be an unfortunate pattern developing during our various weekend sojourns).

Here's some pics to commemorate our day, one of the highlights of which was watching tiger feeding time.

Susie poses wth giant rhinoceros.
Rotunda bizarrely filled with orange paper frogs. Has that sentence ever been written before?
Sophie looks on as a bird of prey devours some innocent bird.
Sophie really enjoyed running around at the bird exhibit.
The orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Toy Story

On Saturday, after our snooze in Central Park, we went to the FAO Schwartz toy store. We were welcomed at the entrance by the FAO Schwartz guard.

One of personal favorites, and Sophie's also: a life-size Chewbacca made out of Legos.
And don't forget the Lego version of R2D2 as well.
What kind of parents would buy their kid a stuffed giant spider?
Claire & Sophie trying out the "Big" piano.
The next time you see Claire, ask her about how the French are going to "crush the Americans" in Olympic swimming.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Escape from New York

We just got back from our weekend trip to NYC. I'm pretty exhausted after driving the 4 hours or so this will be short. Lots of pictures to share later in the week.

Our hosts for the weekend were my sister Susie and her boyfriend Andy, standing before this somewhat anatomically-correct sculpture in the Times-Warner Building in Columbus Circle.

Sophie hangs out on the doorstep of Susie & Andy's apartment in Astoria, Queens.
Here we are in Central Park with a carnival in the background.
Sophie takes a nap (along with the rest of us) in Central Park.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


This weekend we have plans to visit Aunt Susie in NYC. It will mark the first time I will have been in New York City for several years--probably since 2002 I think. It's a four-hour drive from Boston to NYC; let's hope that Sophie is up for the challenge.

I counted some zebrafish embryos today--here's what one looks like after about 14 hours. At about 48 hours most of them will hatch from the egg-like chorion on their own and start swimmin' and floppin' around, but some of them need help--it's relatively easy to strip the shell off with a pair of forceps.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Zebrafish Sex

I learned about the birds & the bees (and the zebrafish) at work yesterday.

The "fish house"--the room in our research building where the zebrafish is stored--is impressively organized and packed with small aquariums containing a few to several swimming zebrafish. Although it's a spacious room, it pales in comparison with the amount of space (and generally unpleasant smell) of mouse facilities, another common organism for research.

I was pretty surprised at how efficient zebrafish mating is. In the afternoon, one male and two females are placed in the same tank--but they are separated by a "mating divider", which is simply a piece of plastic. They have a chance to meet and get to know one another. Then, the next morning, after a good night's sleep (with the lights out), the divider is removed and the fish are able to go at it. Usually within 10 minutes, they will have successfully mated, which I find amazing. The female will spew up to 300 eggs onto the bottom of the aquarium, where they can be collected by passing through a simple strainer. Each one of these eggs has the potential to develop into a happy adult zebrafish.