Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Expensive Surprise

Wife walks in and sits down across from me in the living room. Here's a general overview of the convo:

Wife: "I have something that I need to talk to you about, and I know you're not going to like it."

Me: "Okay... Go ahead." Puts computer away.

Wife: "Well, I know you just said that we need to pay close attention to the budget (backstory note: we just paid a hideous amount of money for a new, quality couch, and our budget is still kind of reeling from this and all the miscellaneous med school costs that have come up in the past month.) but there is something that I want to get. It's really expensive."

Me: "All right, what is it?"

Wife: "I can't tell you."

Monday, July 30, 2012

Health Insurance

*New blog background - check it out!*

When I graduated from college the first time back in 2007, I went without health insurance for several months before finding employment with benefits. Didn't phase me a bit. Now that I'm married and Wife depends on me for insurance, the idea of being without is a bit scarier. For the next couple weeks, until I can get on MSU CHM's insurance plan, I will be without insurance. This makes me a more careful person.

For example, when working on things like building a rock tumbler, I'm more careful when sawing. The last thing I need is a trip to the ER for stitches when off insurance. I'm also more careful in my everyday activities. I don't climb the buoys at the lake, and I cringed after jumping off the pier the other day, counting my blessings that I didn't smack my head on my way in the water, and that I didn't slip getting back out.

I currently have a call in to the HR office at MSU to see if it's possible to enroll in the health insurance a couple weeks early... I'm about 99% sure it won't be an option, but we'll just see what they say. In the meantime, I'll be playing it safe with some very tame activities, including a possible trip to the coffee shop to read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, a surprisingly interesting book that is part of our pre-reading for this semester. Usually the books that schools give you to read before the semester are mundane, but not so in this case! I've only read the first several chapters, but it's definitely worth the read so far. I'll also probably finish the stand for a motorized time lapse panning rig I've been working on, but more on that later...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Clouds Like Mountains

While on the way to our friends' house this afternoon I snagged this photo on my phone. It might be kind of hard to tell from a photo, but these clouds were HUGE. Miles and miles high, it seemed - though I think cumulous clouds are usually only about a mile high, maybe a little higher. It made me think of what it would be like to live near mountains, where seeing something huge and looming would be a daily occurrence. It also made me think of how cool it's going to be to see the weather from this building:

A Niece's Hug

Today, Wife and I went to the beach with Wife's family. This time that included the sister, niece, and nephew that live in Texas with Wife's brother-in-law. We don't get to see them very much, but they were here for a visit for the past week. This particular niece is five years old, and has traditionally been more reserved with me, mostly (I assume) because she doesn't get to see me very often. You know - shy smiles before burying her face in Mommy's thigh, not necessarily wanting to play games, stuff like that.

Well, that changed today. After building sand castles, playing splashing games in the water, and burying her and giving her mermaid flippers in place of legs, we all piled into the cars to get some ice cream. When I got out of my car in the parking lot, she came running over and gave my thigh me a hug before charging off to look at all the different flavors. No words were exchanged, and no eye contact was made. It was simple, but it was very cool. I found out later that she routinely hugs all her teachers at school, even telling them she loves them. She also made her hug rounds to everyone later on when we all said goodbye. Apparently, hugs are not necessarily an uncommon thing with this niece. But you know what? That doesn't matter to me, because this time I got a hug too.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rock Tumbler a.k.a. Time Killer

Yesterday at 6:00pm I decided to make a rock tumbler. We found those Petoskey Stones when we went camping, and I thought it'd be cool (nerdy-cool, folks) to polish them up. Unfortunately, it would take years - literally - to polish the volume of stones I have using one of those teeny rock polishers. Those teeny ones also cost $50-$60. The larger ones like I would need are way more expensive. I wanted to do it for under $40, which is a significant portion of the allowance I have saved up. That's right - Wife and I operate under a self-mandated $30/month spending allowance. It makes you get creative, as you're about to see.

Using the above materials ($12 for wheels, $0.79 for scrap wood, $15 for a drill, and $8 for the cooler for a total of $35.79) and random scraps and screws from my toolbox, I set about making a rock tumbler. After two hours, I had come up with this:

Unfortunately, with the added resistance of rocks, sand, and water tumbling around in the barrel, the drill couldn't turn the full barrel when arranged like this - at least, not at low speeds. I had sort of expected this, thinking that I would need to choose between being able to fully load the barrel (leaving an appropriate amount of space for air and tumbling action) and doing things the simple way. I chose the difficult option, reconfiguring the motor placement like this:

It worked great for a while - until the rubber belt snapped. I think I'm going to have to either find a chain of some sort, or... I don't know, we'll just have to see. Regardless, I polished some rocks for about an hour...

In case you can't tell, I don't have much trouble keeping myself entertained while not in school.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Dog is a Good Helper

Our dog Naiya has always wanted to help out. She mostly carries stuff for us, but until now I've never really gotten a good video of it. After we brought the groceries inside, I decided to get a video of her carrying reusable grocery bags into the apartment. And now I think I'll share it on here.

Because it's cute.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ludington Reservoir - Very Cool

This past weekend I went on an interesting excursion with Wife and Mom and Stepdad. On the way back from camping (yes, I went camping AGAIN, and loved it...) we visited the Ludington Reservoir - a place that I never even knew existed. Basically, it's an elevated, man-made 2 mile x 1 mile lake that is used to generate electricity in a fiscally responsible (and therefore very lucrative manner).

Most people (I think) know that during the day, electricity costs more because there is a higher demand for it. People use more electricity during the day, so the electric company can charge more for it. Usually, the electric company likes to not run out of electricity. This means they usually generate more electricity than they will dispense to consumers in a day. THIS means they have some left at the end of the day that they cannot always store effectively.

To solve this issue, the local power company (Consumers Energy) decided to store that electric energy into gravitational hydroelectric potential energy. What does this mean? It means they use their leftover electricity at the end of a day to pump a crazy amount of water from Lake Michigan uphill to fill a huge lake. During the day, that water is allowed to drain back to the lake through turbines (see above photo) that generate electricity. Doing this allows them to generate enough electricity to serve 1.4 million consumers each day.

We took a slight detour to visit this feat of engineering, and I wasn't disappointed. It was impressive. Click Here to read more about it, or if you're just interested in some fancy pictures, I've got those down below for you. Don't be afraid to interact with them...

The first is the view of the hill that holds the lake. Don't be deceived - it's a lot bigger than you can tell. It also shows the slope down to where the reservoir empties into Lake Michigan.

The second is the view from the visitors' area up at the top, at the edge of the enclosed lake. Visitors can't actually go near the edge of the reservoir, and this panorama was actually taken with my hand through the bars of the visitors' area. The reservoir is 13 stories deep, about 1/3 of which gets drained and refilled each day.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fun Day, Productivity, Avocado

Yesterday was a fun day. I went on a 3.5 mile run in 90+ degree weather, then rode my bike slowly while Naiya ran beside me. We hit the lake (VERY full of algae and nasty growths) then the chlorinated fountain/pool in front of a bank (to kill all the algae and nasty growth she had no doubt picked up). I finished the day out by being very productive at home, cleaning and straightening up around the apartment.

I also set up a wireless solution so that Wife and I can do all of our filing electronically. Using Genius Scan + on our phones, we can just scan in all of our bills, receipts, pay stubs, etc. and upload them to the shared "File Cabinet" folder I set up on Dropbox. Every time one of us uploads a document in this way using our phones, it immediately gets pushed through to a shared folder on both of our laptops and is instantly viewable on each of our cell phones. This way, when I'm off at med school (orientation starts in FOUR WEEKS!) we can stay up to date on stuff. Since I'm the one that is in charge of managing the budget and paying the bills, I will be able to continue doing so even when I'm not home. When a bill comes, Wife will scan it with her phone and upload it, I will receive an automatic notification to view it on my computer, and I'll pay it online. Easy peasy.

Speaking of wirelessly synchronized and shared Dropbox folders, the students in the class of 2015 (the year ahead of me) have set up something amazing. They've created a shared folder with all of the study guides, coursepacks, cheat sheets, outlines, and academic wizardry that they created in the past year and uploaded it into a shared Dropbox folder. They then shared this folder with all of the members of my class, the class of 2016. At a stroke, I've been able to download essentially all of the resources I could possibly need to succeed this year. Granted, I will for sure be creating some of my own materials, as a big part of the learning process (for me) is pulling it all together in my own way, but this makes it infinitely easier to get the information in the first place. It also gives me a lot to review to make sure I haven't left anything out of my own materials.

It's just one more affirmation that I've chosen the right place for me. MSU CHM is a place where willing, eager, selfless collaboration is the norm rather than the exception, and that excites me! I can't wait to get to know my fellow students during orientation week a month from now. It's going to be awesome. Know what else is awesome? I'm growing an avocado tree. That's right! I thought it'd be cool to try, so three days ago I looked up how to do it, and I'm doing it! Here's the Week 1 shot, showing the shell begin to split (top view), but no roots yet (bottom view):

I'll end this post with a whopping CONGRATULATIONS to my friends Josh and Jamie, who just yesterday gave birth to a healthy baby boy - Jonah Miles Knap
Hurray for procreation!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Muck-Muck and Family Time

I've been working through the paperwork and digital muck-muck required for pre-matriculation. This includes making sure all my vaccinations are in order (and documented!), getting a TB test (hooray, I'm not infected and I can prove it now!), ordering a white coat (with the proper measurements. I pretty much had to order the skinniest, longest one possible...), getting an Amazon Prime membership (I've been told by numerous unrelated sources that this is one of the most valuable resources to a med student. Hooray three-day free shipping on any size order!), and filling out a million different forms and registrations, include Basic Life Support. Woohoo, my first for-healthcare-providers hands-on medical training! I know it really will be just the basics, but I'm looking forward to it anyway.

I've also signed up to take the waiver exam for Biochemistry. Basically, they don't want people taking the class that don't have to, so they give you a chance to take a 2-hour waiver exam. If you get better than a 75% on this FREE exam, you automatically pass the class, no questions asked. Worst case scenario, you take the class, which you'd be doing anyway. Thanks to Bekah for some great advice!

Amidst all of this, Wife and I have been getting a lot of quality time. I've also been able to have an appropriate amount of "alone time," which makes me appreciate the Wife time that much more. When it comes up in conversations with others that we're spending a lot more time together now than normally, a variation inevitably comes up of the phrase, "That's good - getting enough time with each other before the semester starts." Let me clarify. There will never be "enough" time together to sufficiently prepare me for the semester. It's really about cramming as much quality time in as possible, period. I know the second my head hits the pillow on our first night apart, I'm going to miss her. Hopefully the memories we're making now will serve to make our time apart easier, not harder.

And that's where my only real worry comes into play - that all of this quality time and relaxation might work against me instead of for me. I mean, if we go from having all of this awesome time together to absolutely nothing - not even sleeping in the same bed most nights - how hard will THAT be? Combine that with going from a barebones, I-can-sleep-till-eleven-am-then-go-to-the-beach-then-take-a-nap-then-watch-four-straight-episodes-of-24 schedule directly to 19 (I think?) credit hours, homework, papers, and ungodly study hours, and you've got an incredibly rough transition. Ideally, all this time off will just make me rested and better prepared for the transition, but there's a possibility that it will simply make the transition that much harsher and more abrupt. Here's hoping for the former...

In other news, the FDA has approved a new weight-loss drug that is a phentermine-topiramate combo. It's called Qysmia, and it joins the weight-loss drug ranks with Lorcaserin as the only weight-loss drugs to be approved by the FDA since 1999. Read more here.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Is This Weird?

Like all dogs, my dog Naiya (see above glamour shot) likes to get petted (pet? pet.) behind the ears, on the ears, around the ears - pretty much anywhere involving (and not involving, for that matter) her ears. Interestingly, this also includes inside her ears. That's right - she LOVES it when a person sticks a finger right down deep (but not too deep...) inside her ear and wiggles it around a bunch.

We keep Naiya clean, but there's always some amount of brown waxy buildup that collects in there. It also inevitably gathers in (sometimes) thick layers on the tip of that scratching finger. And apparently, it's delicious.

At the end of a particularly thorough scratching, the first thing Naiya does is whip her head around to get at all that waxy goodness on the tip of my finger. That's right - she loves to eat her own ear wax. I've never really thought anything of this exchange. I know she loves getting scratched in the ear because of how her eyelids kind of flutter and she tips her head and leans into the scratching. I also know that I don't like having a messy finger when things are over, so I don't mind that she seems so eager to clean my finger off. In my mind, it has always been a win-win.

The first time Wife saw me me scratching Naiya's ear, she laughed at how much Naiya seemed to like it. Her mirth quickly drained away, replaced by utter revulsion as she watched Naiya clean my fingertip. Here is how that interaction went:


Wife: "EEEWWW!!! THAT is disgusting. How can you let her do that?!?"

Me: "I dunno, I guess I've just always done it. She seems to like it - and look! Now my finger's clean."

Wife (shuddering): "I don't care if she likes it. That is really disturbing. You need to stop."

Me: "Really? It doesn't seem so weird to me..."

Wife: "Seriously. It's weird."


So I ask you - is this weird?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Marigolds: Fifteen Days of Life (video)

So, I've been getting really into time lapse photography videos lately. Here's the first I've put online. 

This is a time lapse of a marigold plant taken over fifteen days. Shots were taken 20 minutes apart, so each second of 30fps video represents 10 hours of real time. A couple key things to note: this video is a collection of still shots. Any movement of the plants is the plants themselves actually moving very slowly over time. There is no wind, as the plants are indoors, and wind at this infrequent interval of shots would simply cause the plants to blur dramatically. Also, note that in the shot of the plant's water, the water level drops because the plant takes up water when respiration increases in sunlight - not as a result of evaporation. Music is "Almost Familiar" by Pretty Lights.

Officially Enrolled! Fall 2012 Course Schedule

I've already been officially accepted and have accepted my acceptance to MSU CHM, but today I officially enrolled in my courses for this fall. While not as monumental a moment as answering that call from Dean Mauer, enrolling in classes was still a big deal for me. I definitely had a couple butterflies gamboling about in my stomach as I hit the "enroll" button on the first few.

Here's my class list for the Fall 2012 Semester:

ANTR 551 - Medical Gross Anatomy (6 credits)
BMB 514 - Medical Biochemistry (3 credits)
BMB 526 - Genetics (2 credits)
HM 531 - Clinical Skills 1 (2 credits)
HM 571 - Integrative Clinical Correlations 1 (2 credits)
HM 581 - Mentor Program (1 credit)
PSL 534 - Cell Biology and Physiology 1 (3 credits)

It's definitely new to see all the course numbers start with a five instead of a three or four... Obviously, some of these courses will include labs. Apparently most of the labs will be in the afternoons and lectures will be in the morning. With a total of 19 credits just with the lectures, this will be a pretty insane fun semester!

Best Comment Fail Ever

A while back, I disabled the "prove you're not a robot" feature for commenting on my blog. I knew this would potentially open me up to spam comments, but I figured it would be worth the risk to lessen the hassle for my readers. I was not expecting to get pure comment failure GOLD like the most recent one, shown below (minus the several hyperlinks it originally came with):

"Again, walnut is used to create a bespoke joinery and panelling to one wall; this is dramatically lit with LED lights that enhance the design. Unfortunately, Sung fell on some hard times and sold out his share of the chain (in recent interviews, he says he got screwed on the deal by the other partners). a . Over the past three years Semel sold 18.1 million of his stock options for a gain of $450 million. Actually, even if he called me right now, I'd say I couldn't do it this weekend. and no i usually, don't laugh or get ticklish, except maybe once that i can remember. Some go for 100% polyester, due to the fact of your sturdiness of your fabric when washed above and above once again, and due to the fact of moisture-wicking properties that make it fantastic in sweaty predicaments."

I'm pretty sure the discombobulated insanity of this "comment" was a result of an automated translation fail, similar to that which occurs in some internationally manufactured products. However it happened, it made me laugh A LOT.

In other news, today was a great day. I got my landlord to come down to *only* increase my rent by $50 per month. Wife and I also spent a great couple of hours at the beach, where we got to watch an extremely overweight and elderly gentleman wearing compression socks weave his way down the beach, in and out of the water and over a kid's sandcastle. He never even realized what he'd done. I felt bad, especially when I realized that as the gentleman had been tromping the kid's castle, the kid had been turned around to get a bucket of sand. When he turned back to his castle, he found it inexplicably smashed beyond repair. He just looked around (obviously confused and wondering what had happened) before furiously chucking his bucket into the lake and stomping back to his blanket.

Sorry kid.

Friday, July 13, 2012

401K to IRA - Check!

A little while back I quit my job. Yesterday, I finally finalized my 401K transfer, rolling it into an IRA so I don't have to pay any nasty taxes on it yet. Whoop whoop! Being a responsible, currently unemployed (yikes!), premedical adult is very interesting at times, forcing you to learn all about budgeting, investment options, financial and governmental policies, laws, growth strategies, etc. When you think about it, not only do doctors have to know a lot about medicine and the human body, they also have to know how to manage money really well. In looking through some of the seminars planned for our orientation week, several of them are going to be about budget planning and debt management.

MSU CHM is an averagely-priced med school - which puts the recommended student budget (including tuition and all living costs) and the subsequent loan recommendation right around $48,766 for this first year. It goes up each year after that, and does not include the summer semester or any months off. Assuming a student borrows another $10,000 to cover the summer semesters (and an average of $50,000 for the other Fall-Spring academic sequences), this reaches a total expense of around $240,000 for four years as an average in-state med student. When you bump up the cost for out-of-staters to $85,000 ($70,000 normal term plus $15,000 for summers), you see a four-year cost of $340,000. I don't care who you are, you need to be able to manage money well and come up with a budget plan to be able to effectively pay off debt like this.

Fortunately, I've been coming up with budgets and devising loan repayment plans for a while now. I didn't make boatloads of money at my previous job, and Wife has yet to work a full-time position since we've been married. With both of us going back to school for new careers, we have had to come up with some pretty interesting plans and strategies for paying all the bills while also keeping food on the table. These experiences and the lessons we've learned from them will definitely come in handy in the years ahead...

As far as advice for anyone out there who is getting ready to attempt something similar, all I can say is do your best to live like a college student. And not the crazy ones that go out and spend all their money on booze or clothes or concerts. Live like the nerdy ones who spend their evenings playing Mario Kart after doing research in a basement lab all day and think that a crazy night out involves driving barefoot to Little Caesar's to pick up your once-a-month $5.55 large because you're too cheap to splurge the $8 plus delivery fee on Papa John's. 

Use coupons when you go to the store. 

Save your money and buy quality stuff so you don't have to replace it when it breaks in a year. Living frugally doesn't always mean having only cheap stuff. A lot of the time, being frugal just means not buying a lot of stuff all the time, but rather saving up to buy quality necessities that will last you a long time.

All that being said, our modus operandi will probably change quite a bit as we begin the next phase of life. Wife and I won't be living under the same roof for the next year, so we won't be buying groceries the same way, planning meals out, etc. For me, there will be more time spent eating out (Subway, Zoup, etc.) because I won't have the time (or the culinary know-how) to plan all my meals out. Luckily, there's (loan) money in the budget to compensate for this.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rent Hike

I just learned from my landlord that it's time to renew our lease, and they're probably going to jack up our rent by $100 per month, possibly more (but probably "just" the $100). This is how that conversation went:

Me: "So, is there any specific reason for the increase?"

Landlord: "Well, there is a lot more demand for our units than there was a year ago. We are completely full, and the waiting list is packed, so we think we are probably underselling ourselves at the moment." 

Me: "So there are no new costs or anything? That would be a lot easier to swallow - you know, higher property taxes, so we have to recoup our losses through rent increases, etc..."

Landlord: "No, it's really just that we would like to make as much money as possible, and we realize that people will pay more than they currently are to live here. So, we're going to start charging more."

Me: Stunned silence at his stark greediness and disregard for others. "Huh. Guess there's no way to argue that. Thanks for being honest, I guess, but have you considered how a policy like that affects tenants like us, who have been faithful in making regular payments, never once late, and being good tenants? I've created a budget plan for the next year that doesn't include an extra $1,200 in rent on top of what we already pay..."

Landlord: "We understand that this will be inconvenient for a lot of people. Just this morning, I increased another tenant's rent by $300 per month. Believe me, he was not happy."

Me: "I can imagine..."

Landlord: "In the end, we are about making money, and this is the best way for us to do that."

To paraphrase: We want to rake in the cash as fast as possible, and we really don't care about our tenants.


The Word Has Spread

Apparently, the word about My Cards (the Mental Case digital flashcards I created when studying for the MCAT, now available online) has gotten out. Maybe it has something to do with the most recent deal, but more people have downloaded the cards in the past week than in any other month before now. It's great to see something like this begin to really take off, especially knowing how much of an asset the 3,499 MCAT cards will be to all these people. The reality of it is, going through the premed process and studying for the MCAT is hard, and if a quality study tool works, it's worth pursuing. It feels good being able to help people out, especially the nontraditional premeds who (like I had to) juggle a family, work, school, and studying as they prepare to apply for a chance to become a doctor.

If you know a premed who has a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and is preparing for the MCAT, forward them a link to My Cards and tell them to check it out. If the feedback I'm getting from users is any indication, they won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Leelanau Camping and Awesome Photos

We love camping on the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, just north of Traverse City. For those that don't know, this is the little pinky finger of the mitten that is Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Check it:

The green arrow shows where we love camping.
We left Sunday evening, camped out that night, hit the beach and state park trails most of the day Monday, then camped again Monday night before heading out on Tuesday morning. Here are a few of the photos from the beach. As always, click to embiggen; they're worth it!

There is a secret spot along the beach FILLED with petoskey stones. For those unfamiliar with the Awesome Mitten, the Petoskey stone is a kind of fossilized coral, and it's pretty rare everywhere except northern Michigan.
These were just a few of those we found in about an hour and a half of looking.
Total, we found about 92 stones, but not all were worth keeping. Once, I pulled five stones in one handful!
They don't look like much unless wet or polished; the above stones are in a glass bowl with water.

Naiya wanted to join in the fun, so whenever we would toss a stone in the water, she would fish it out and bring it onto the shore, just like we were doing with the Petoskeys! We didn't train her to do this, she just did it!

While looking for stones, Naiya noticed a bird floundering in the water as though dazed - kind of how birds behave when they slam into a window. When I went to check it out, the thing wouldn't even really try to get away from me, just kind of lazing around, flapping a bit occasionally but never getting airborne. I checked its wings, and they seemed fine, opening and flapping well. It tried to bite a few times, so I ended up holding it by its feet. It didn't seem broken in any way, and after we took the pictures, it just ended up walking away and swimming  back out into the water. Very weird behavior. 

It probably had a disease.

 During the evenings, I set up the camera to take some long-exposure shots of the stars. My lens is great for bright, outdoor photography (sports, nature, etc.), but it's not the best for really dim stuff. Hence the grain from having to jack up the ISO. My apologies. Maybe someday I'll invest in a nicer lens and get some really cool shots. Until then, you're stuck with these:

Each of the above photos was actually part of a time lapse, where I would set the camera up for a few hours, taking 20-30 second exposures every minute. It's part of a time lapse montage video I'm making of various places in Michigan. Should be pretty sweet. It'll probably be a little while till I finish it though, possibly not till after this semester starts, as I'd like to include some lapses from the Secchia Center view of Grand Rapids...

While setting the camera up for the star lapse shots, I noticed some cool lights to the north. Maybe some of you have heard of the Aurora Borealis, but most people know them as the Northern Lights:

Not bad, for not even being in the Upper Peninsula. Normally, I never even see much of them unless I'm in Canada. It was definitely worth the slight loss of sleep, and the lapse turned out pretty cool. Again, more on that later.

As I explained in my last post, we woke up the last morning to a flat tire. Not cool, but surmountable. After we got that whole fiasco taken care of, we bummed around Traverse City for a bit, pleasantly surprised by a lack of parking because the Cherry Festival was in full swing! We didn't even know it was going on, so it was pretty fun. We got some incredible smoothie / cookie / coffee drinks from Espresso Bay Juice Island, and they were delicious. It wasn't until we were on our way out of town that I realized I hadn't taken a single picture while we were there. Ridiculous. Sorry, A.

On our drive home, we nearly made a life-changing decision to get another dog. Well, Wife almost decided to get another dog - a Toy Poodle puppy, to be exact. There was a stand of them by the side of the road. Wife always wants to pet the puppies, and I thought this would be just like any other time. Wrong. The puppy was awesomely cute, as you can see below. However, I will be leaving for med school in about a month, so the decision was really hers. Whether or not she could devote the time to training it and all that. We will be sending Naiya (our current pupper) to live with my mom and stepdad because A.) I can't take her where I'm going (Wife's relatives' basement), and B.) Naiya needs too much exercise, and Wife probably wouldn't be able to handle it with her schedule. With a smaller dog, Wife would still have a companion (aside from her roommate) to spend time with, it could use puppy pads once a week when wife is out for 9 hours on clinicals, and (being smaller) it wouldn't need as much exercise as Naiya currently needs. Plus, Wife has wanted a teeny dog she can "carry in a bag" for years.

After about two hours of thoughtful consideration, mental budgeting, and unabashed hemming and hawing, I told Wife it was her choice. She could do it, and I would support her in it. Either way, it was up to her. She ended up deciding to wait a year. She definitely wants a puppy of her own to train and have look up to her, but it would probably be too much while we're separated. It was a tough decision. You probably won't understand how tough unless you see the pics though, so here they are:

She told me later she would have named it Lucy.
I normally have this thing against dogs with people names,
but I think I would have made an exception...

Once we got back home, Wife and I unpacked like a team of professional mercenaries taking out the enemy. Calm, cool efficiency was the name of the game, working like a well-oiled machine that gets the job done, then spits out cliche phrases when describing it later. After unpacking, I whipped up this meal in less than twenty minutes while she finished the laundry:

Fourteen sausages, six eggs, nine miniature pancakes, fresh blueberries, toast, syrup, butter, and orange juice.
This meal = amazing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hiccup in the Plans

As one of my favorite fellow bloggers would say (or perhaps would have used to say), "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." This morning (our last of a couple days of camping) we planned on waking up at reasonable time, making an awesome breakfast (pancakes, eggs, sausage links, orange juice), then heading to Traverse City for some sight-seeing. When I woke up, I found that one of our cars had a flat tire, forcing me to whip out the spare (see below) and spend the subsequent few hours remedying the situation. Obviously, our plans changed a bit, but we're now back home unpacking after a bumpy but AWESOME day. More on that (and some cool photos!) later...

The flat tire (right) replaced by the ridiculous motorcycle/bicycle-looking-50mph-maximum-speed spare tire from the trunk.
Not wanting to push it, I never took it over 45.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Picking Blueberries

The blueberries would had been better known as giantberries.
I have no clue how many I've eaten today.

Michigan is known for its blueberries, and a few days ago Wife and I decided that this morning, we would go pick some of them. They're only $1.55/lb if you pick them yourself, and it's actually kind of fun. Granted, this morning was evidence of how an idea conceived three days ago doesn't always seem as great when the time for implementation comes. Our conversation this morning went something like this:

Wife, waking me up: "Hey, are you ready to go?"

Me, groggy: "To the beach, or... where?"

Wife: "No, blueberry picking!"

Me: "Ughhh..."

Wife: "Do you want to go?"

Me, groaning: "No."

I perked up after a few more seconds of being awake, and it ended up being a ton of fun. We finished the day out with about 25 lbs of blueberries, and I got some fun pics:


It's hard to get across just how many huge, juicy blueberries there were at this place.

I liked this photo so much, I made a huge version of it the new blog background.
The blueberry farm also had a storefront, so we checked it out: 

Nicole (aka Wife) got a blueberry/vanilla swirl ice cream cone, and I got some blueberry lemonade.
Both were delicious.

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