Wednesday, September 26, 2007


For the past month I've been traveling into and spending my days in Baltimore. Each morning my train passes by the Raven's stadium (where I silently boo) and then past Camden Yards. After getting off of the train, I walk through a construction site (future home of the Baltimore Hilton) and then to campus (which is a construction site, too - new student center coming in 2009).

My overall impression of Baltimore has not been that positive, but we'll give it another month or two. However, I would like to comment on the number of people who smoke in Baltimore. It seems like everyone in the city smokes - constuction workers, train conductors, train maintenance staff, staff at CVS, hospital staff - EVERYBODY (or so it seems). My second-hand smoke exposure has risen exponentially in the past month.

The worst place to walk by is the front of the university hospital. I avoid the block of Green Street between Lombard and Baltimore Streets at all costs. Everyone, from hospital staff to patients to visitors to taxi drivers, sits outside the hospital and smokes. It is disgusting.

On the north side of the hospital (along Baltimore Street) there is a bus station/stop area. This is also a hot spot for smokers. Last week I had to walk down Baltimore Street after a quick run to the CVS for more index cards to make flash cards. I walked through the bus station/stop area to get back to school. The sidewalk is pretty wide through this area, but somehow I got cornered into a wall by a large man smoking a cigarette. He was talking on his cell phone and walking all over the place. As he cornered me onto the edge of the sidewalk, he flicked his cigarette ashes onto my arm, which hurt. I said, "ouch" to which he replied, "Oh, baby, look out where you are going!"


First of all, I'm not your baby and second of all you just burned me with your cigarette.


I was so dumbfounded by him burning me and then not apologizing that I didn't have a word to say to him. I have a few choice words now...probably best that I didn't have them then.

Anyways, I am learning where to walk and not walk to decrease my exposure to second-hand smoke in Baltimore. And come January, people in the state of Maryland will not be allowed to smoke in restaurants and bars. Wonder what that will do to the number of outside smokers in downtown Baltimore?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


1.) Your lab work space is in a closet (pictures will be coming).

2.) The computer in said work space is a dinosaur (logging in is at least a five minute process).

3.) You've covered four chapters of statistics in seven class periods. And five chapters of epidemiology in six.

4.) Sitting through three hour lectures is the norm.

5.) Naps become scheduled events during your day.

6.) You feel guilty for not reading, studying, or looking over school work when you have some down time. You especially feel guilty for reading TIME, Entertainment Weekly, and, sometimes even, the Washington Post Express.

7.) You're getting up at 5:30am, jumping on the train, and eating breakfast while on the way to school (not eating at home allows for an extra 10-15 minutes of sleep).

8.) You can wear jeans ANY DAY OF THE WEEK!

9.) You get excited at the thought of new pens, markers, and highlighters.

10.) Flashcards are everywhere - on your desk, in your backpack, at the kitchen table, in the bathroom, etc...

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm enjoying school. But I am overwhelmed by the amount of work and sort of uncomfortable in my lab space where I spend 20 hours a week working on a genetic epidemiology project. All in all, it is good. Mid-terms are in three weeks and my first quiz is next week.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


As mentioned in my post announcing our new house, we bought a new washer and dryer. I also promised to tell you all about them. So, here it is...

The only appliances we lacked upon moving into our new place were a washer and dryer. When we put together our offer for the house, our wonderful real estate agent suggested that we ask for a washer/dryer credit from the seller (it is a buyers' market, ya' know?!). We received the credit and my father assured me that we could install a dryer vent in our laundry room. So we went shopping!

I did some online research and then one Sunday evening David suggested going to Sears to look at our options. Our plan was to just look and not buy until after we had closed on our house. However, plans change! We got to Sears in the middle of a 20% off all major appliances sale. And we couldn't say no. We bought our washer and dryer - they are RED - and scheduled to have them delivered the Sunday after we moved in.

I did my first load of laundry on Labor Day Monday. And it was fantastic. Not only is EVERYTHING digital (you just hit the casual clothes button and it washes your clothes - no choosing a water level, water temperature, nothing), but it is also a front-loader. So I can sit on the floor of the laundry room and watch my clothes being washed (I've only done this once). Additionally, both the washer and dryer are HUGE. I've washed my clothes in an apartment-sized washer for the past five years. I was so excited to wash all of my sheets and pillowcases in one load!

I've also learned a couple of lessons during the past few weeks with the new washer and dryer...

1) the water to the washer must be turned on before trying to wash. On our first washing attempt, we got an error message within minutes of starting the cycle. Turns out my dad turned the water to the washer off. Lesson learned: turn water on before each load.

2) the salesmen at the store sometimes get confused and pass along misinformation. I remember our Sears salesman telling me that you can store detergent and fabric softener in the machine. He reported that there is a sensor that knows how much soap to use with each load. This is not true. I dumped about a half gallon into our machine for the first wash and all of it was used in a single load. Lesson learned: read directions.

3) for high efficient washers you do need to buy a special kind of detergent. I went out and bought two huge containers of Arm and Hammer brand 'HE' detergent on Labor Day (we only did one load with regular detergent). The 'HE' stuff is a little bit more expensive, but I am proud to say that I bought mine on sale - buy one get one free. I do have a nearly full bottle of Arm and Hammer detergent for regular machines. If you'd like it, please let me know.


SCHOOL UPDATE: I'm finished with week three. Things are going well... I decided to take four classes this semester: Principles of Biostatistics, Principles of Epidemiology, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, and Health Survey Research Methods. I really like the Infectious Epi class and the professor for the surveys class is great. I'm enjoying the train rides to/from Baltimore - I'm productive in the morning and nap in the afternoon. Plus, having space at home to study and a short three minute walk to the Metro is fantastic. My rotations begin in the new week or so, my schedule will quickly fill up with 20 hours of work each week. I'll be sure to tell you all about it...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


This is what they mean by row houses. This is the side view from our front porch.

The view of the moon (which is in the lower left-hand side of the sky) as seen from my bathroom skylight around 8:30am.

And, as you can see, Chai has adjusted well to his new environment. Here he sits in the front doorway. He's able to monitor who comes in and out of the front door, who is in the living room, who is coming up the steps from downstairs and who is in the kitchen. Maybe in another life he was a watch dog...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


So...we bought a house. We closed on Thursday evening and moved on Saturday. The house search was easy. We visited about a dozen homes in early July. David fell in love with 'our house' the moment he walked in the door. I needed about 24 hours and visits to a handful of other houses before I was ready to say 'this is the one.' So... we own a home. No more living in a one-bedroom apartment. No more living below ground. No more washing clothes in the smallest washing machine ever (more details about my new washer and dryer to come!). No more rent!

Our house is fantastic. It is a lovely DC row house about a block and a half from the metro (it took me 4 minutes to get to the station this morning and this includes the precious seconds I took to kiss David good-bye). It has three bedrooms upstairs and a finished basement (with laundry room!!). The laundry room is about the size of my small bedroom in my Capitol Hill apartment. We have a little backyard and we will need a lawn mower. And the best part (especially for two people who have lived nearly 20 cumulative years in basement apartments) is that we have a sun room and a front porch. I sat outside and read my TIME magazine yesterday and watched the sun set behind my neighbor's house. It was delightful!

My parents were in town for our big move and were so helpful. My dad vented my new dryer, changed our locks, moved furniture, packed the truck, and (most importantly) drove the 14 foot moving truck through the narrow DC streets. My mom cleaned everything, made sure both of our bathrooms had toilet paper and hand soap, met all of our neighbors, made several trips to the grocery store for snacks and drinks, and helped get everything organized. I could not be more grateful to them!

Chai moved in on Sunday and has adapted well. Yesterday I found him sprawled out on our bed basking in the sunshine in the morning. In the afternoon, he found comfort on the bottom of our bookshelf.

As we unpack the remaining boxes, await the delivery of my new desk, and pick out new furniture, I'll be sure and keep you posted. And for all of you non-DC folks, we now have a spare bedroom - please come and visit.