Saturday, August 29, 2009

saintly last days with the latter day saints

Feeling battered from the 6 days straight school, I catch my breath before catching my flight out of Utah. Dr. Allison (Biostatistics1) described it best, being a part of the "tag-team wrestlers" that flew into Provo, beat us up intellectually for 8-10 hours a day, then flew out, leaving just enough recovery time (6 hours sleep) before the next heavy hitter arrived. The week read like this:
Dr. Jennifer Caputo: Writing: management of electronic search, retrieval and storage. I had stumbled my own way through Endnote X2 prior to coming out west, so I was able to fine tune some aspects of storage and output modification. It is really interesting that a component of the course had to handle basic grammar errors in scientific writing. At this level of education I would have assumed that most writing hiccups had been beaten out of people, but apparently not. Hmmm.
Dr. Todd Ellenbecker PT: Scapula, shoulder and elbow: serious brain bomb, one of the two days was an 11 hour day 8a to 7p..All we were able for after this was a Polygamy Porter and an early-ish night. This was an incredible synthesis of clinical, research and conceptual work by an energizer bunny, who couldhave kept going well past the setting sun. Thank God he didn't. We had the rest of the week to get through..
Dr. Stephen Allison PhD., PT:, fundamentals of data analysis, introduction to SPSS software, use of Excel for analysis and graph construction. Brain bomb. At the end, I was a blubbering mess with total confusion about variables, factors, x and y axes, needing a stiff glass of Cabernet to get me to sleep. Somehow, Dr. A has managed to retain me through the class, and actually makes statistical analysis both interesting and relevant. Verry funny, very smart.
Dr. Joseph Wilkes MD: Hand hand hand: two solid days of wrist and hand: Having been interested in this topic as an undergrad PT (1987-91), and again while doing my masters (1993-4)I am totally intrigued all over again with the crazy wonderful hand. Dr Wilkes managed to inspire us with his surgical skills, his big brain approach to problem solving, and pure love of patient care. I gave him my copy of Neil Shubin's book: "Your Inner Fish" details the transitional phase of mammals from a marine environment to a land-based environment. The evolution of wrist joints in fish was a beautiful surprise to me, and prompts me to re-read some text books on embryology again, to better explore aspects of pathology that originate from a place deeper than the immediate presentation. I hope he enjoys it as much as I did. I hope my brain becomes even a fraction the size of his.
My classmates, all 8 of our cohort (OS4), get on incredibly well adn I look forward to developing with this smart, entertaining, diverse group.
In some of the intervening evenings, I managed to get out for some easy rides, spinning the air-conditioning out of my tissues, allowing my brain to focus on simple repetitive pedal strokes, not an easy feat after sitting for 8-10 hours.. and definitely not easy at 4000 feet above my home base of 5-50 feet above sea-level. I had a couple of spins into the canyon towards Sundance, diverting towards Bridal Veil Falls and up into the South Fork road where I got to ride with an older cyclist, 60-something year old blly goat, who told me it was his 176th time doing this climb (up to 5900 feet). I hung back on the descent, trying to prevent him catching me takeing photos as we dropped back into the vally floor...Supreme bike paths along the Provo River Valley: a solid 25+ miles of paved, off-road bike paths, away from the traffic, winding from Utah lake up into the mountains. Incredible. I will draw on this path as we try to build an equivalent on our very own South Fork, resurrecting Mike Bottini's original dream and nudging it forward. Utah lake, though grand and perfectly situated, looked funky in colour, and even the primordial fish in me couldn't get drawn in. I cycled around it instead, past the latinos fishing and beyoned the horse ranches, under roads and rail passes along the winding river back to the centre of town.
Sitting in the departure lounge, the building essentially sits in the Salt Lake Valley with a 360 degree view of the Uinta mountain range, I think it must be the most beautiful airport view in the country. The sun is coming up draping the mountains in light purples, blue-greys and glden streaks, and spreading across the valley by the minute. My only regret is that I didn't get to swim at "my" pool this morning before leaving, no worries, I will without a doubt be back.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cleanliness being next to Godliness

..maybe only in Provo, UT, but especially after this mornings swim while sojourning out west for semester #2 Module #2. Anxious last night to get settled quickly in Provo after an exhausting delay-filled trip, I did what makes me comfy: search out the nearest bike-shop and the nearest swimming hole.. Through the magic of the internet, I found the Provo Recreation center and swimming pool, located near the business district, right behind the Provo High School. Having taken a bike spin around the 'hood after Sunday's class (scientific writing), I was not really amazed to find it shut tight on the Lord's Day, the lord weighting in pretty heavily in these parts of the world. Still head-spinning after hours spent figuring out import filters to EndNote X2, I headed towards the big "Y" painted on the hills overlooking Brigham Young University, and span my wheels. Several Mount Greylock-like climbs later, I dropped down into the valley floor, burning up my CX brakes and heading towards Mad-Dog Bicycles (also closed).. Never mind, I had dinner, drank some utah legal micro-servings of wine and hit the sack. This morning, an early start at 4:45 got me out of the Marriott King size slumberpad and onto my bike for a quick, dark spin through Provo. Whizzing past the original BYU campus, the Womens Gymnasium (honest, I HAVE to find out more about this building) and onto BullDog Ave, I hung a quick left and arrived at the unremarkable pool building. 1970's style concrete block without any windows, it looked remarkably similar to my beloved Kennedy Memorial Swimming Pool in my Irish home town of New Ross, where I spent many many chlorine filled years. Wafting a faint scent of chlorine and humming in the dark. Home. 5am had 8 or so locals lined up for open adult swimming, and I stood out amongst the septugenarians. Or at least, I hoped I did. Inside, having parted with the princly sum of $3 for a swim session, I followed the unspoken pool ettiquette and showered, lined up on the deck and surveyed the landscape; everyone assuming their position in their respective lanes. One lane empty, for me. Cool. Sliding into the water, immediately comforted by the familiar tiles, the warm water, the silky embrace of the blue water. Several thousand yards later, my attention is drawn to the large, bobbing figures to my right as I flip turn at the deep end. Aqua-aerobics is underway, and along with the ubiquitous 1980's music, a dozen extra-large ladies bob and weave while strapped into floating water-corsets, heads crowned by rubber floral swim hats, bottoms dimpled, legs larger than life underwater. Pushing off and tightly wound into a long arrow, with my ears filling with slooshing and my eyes tracking the black lane line, I am settling into Provo.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

back to summer

Friday after work, Saturday afternoon after swimming 2 mile race (47', 1st female, 2nd O/A), plans to sail tomorrow after mountain biking..finally feeling that Summer is sinking in as we get Aisling wet with spray three days in a row..Ah Jaysus, summer finally rocks on..It has been late this year with school and work demands, but as I sit after dinner with salty dry skin, and uncontrollable post-swim-and-sail hair, I finally feel the heavy pace of the year fall away, at least for the moment.
Dennis and I talk not so idly of Maine, looking forward to poking around the Blue Hill region, possibly looking for a patch of rock to hang a hat on, and to launch a boat from..My brain is still rocking a bit from being on the boat all day. Next to curling up with my lover, this is my most favourite feeling. Slightly giddy, slightly off kilter, slightly drunk from constant motion, sun, waves, swimming and dreaming..
When once you have tasted flight you will always walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward; for there you have been and there you will always be. -Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519

Thursday, August 13, 2009

life updated

ok, the first time home before 6pm in aeons, a glass of vino on the table and a few minutes to take a breath..recap on the last 8 months.. 1. Semester one completed at RMU only many many more to go. I have finally begun to setlte my scores with biostatistics, and with my third time around, (and the very capable help of Dr. Stephen Allison) I can get my brain around the terms statistical analysis, confidence intervals and MCID without my brain thinking "blah blah Rover, blah blah blah Rover" a la Gary Larson. 2. SPOKESPEOPLE is well underway, we have finally established a firm structure, are legitimately performing as a not-for-profit organization, and are on the radar in the community as an advocacy group. check it out. 3. Bike-fit analysis wth use of Retul is a serious option for use for my dissertation as I have already completed a mini-prospectus and gotten good feedback to date. Will need many able and not-so-able bodies to be guinea-pigs. or just pigs. They are all good research fodder I hear. 4. Swimming: oh my watery love: I plunked down the e-greenbacks for a 10k swim in Bermuda on October 19th. This was a dream prior to Dennis's gift last night of Trudy Ederle's book: " the young woman and the sea".. a play, I am assuming, on the "old man and the sea" fish tale.. 4. Work @ MSPT: work is work, one staff member giving notice yesterday to depart for the dubiously greener fields of Nepal, to work for Medicins San Frontieres: their gain, my loss. I will miss Miki and her ethereal appearances in our offices. The door will always be open, and I am sure we will cross paths again. One new staff member in the front office, welcome Emily. If you are half the woman your mother Gail is, you will be fine! 5. Back running, First time since Block Island Shad Bloom 10k in May..23rd, 46.08 gruelling inutes of beauty on the bluffs of the Block.. I still can't believe that I am running again, though my calf muscles definitely can.. 5 miles in the woods with Liliana, while she is recovering from a stress fracture, and getting used to running again. We are a sweaty, slow pair.. cruising switchbacks and sandy spots. avoiding the gym by pounding up the hillocks.picking ticks off. having fun before work. 6. Dennis, ever the rock for me, planning our trip to Maine following our annual adventures in Vermont in Fall Singlespeed 34x 19 for 50 miles, rising into the breaks in VT's foggy clouds for autumnal views to gasp at, even if you weren't anaerobic. Great road trip together, has been a long, (not hot) summer of hard work, and we deserve what Maine has to give us! I CAN'T WAIT!!