Monday, May 27, 2013

21st Century Feminist: The summer of this independent woman

Independent Woman

Happy Memorial Day to all!

From PK

Aside from the million of other things I'm trying to get through this summer,  I am also on a quest to become a more assertive woman. WO-MAN. This is important to me as I'm about to embark on the next chapter of my life and I'd like to not feel defeated because of lack of confidence especially since holding my own is important in a field like medicine. Here is Swimming's action plan and I will provide updates on the 21st Century feminist:

Phase 1: Create Independent Woman Playlist--Done
Good Ole' Queen Bey
Coming to think of it Destiny's child was a great pro-woman group
Xtina (although I sometimes question her outfit choices) Good tune nonetheless
If you like me then you better put a ring on me
I am Titanium!
and Triumphant
and the Queen
A little Nietzsche

Phase 2: Summer reading (this is just a start, must add more to this list):
Toward a new psychology of women
Lean In-Sheryl Sandberg
Bossypants-Tina Fey
The Feminine Mystique
Decisive: How to make better choices in life and work (ok not really feminist lit but I think I could benefit from this one anyway)

Phase 3: Daily dose of feminism
Justice Sonia Sotomayor's Experience with Casual Sexism (For anyone who doesn't realize how fine the line is of being sexist)
On the Imposter Syndrome...
Julia Gillard on misogyny
For those who don't know that sexism exists

Phase 4: Employ feminism/assertion into real life.
Swimming, do you want a cookie?
Swimming: NO! I do not want a cookie. I eat cookies when I want and where I want.

Feminism/assertive independent woman hits 'Play' now!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Etiquette Wednesday: Dining Etiquette

Per Emily Post, here are some quick tips on dining etiquette. (The first ten are EP and the rest are from personal etiquette experience.) :

1. Chew with your mouth closed.
2. Avoid slurping, smacking, and blowing your nose.
3. Don’t use your utensils like a shovel or as if you’ve just stabbed the food you’re about to eat.
4. Don’t pick your teeth at the table.
5. Remember to use your napkin at all times.
6. Wait until you’re done chewing to sip or swallow a drink. (The exception is if you’re choking.)
7. Cut only one piece of food at a time.
8. Avoid slouching and don’t place your elbows on the table while eating (though it is okay to prop your elbows on the table while conversing between courses.)
9. Instead of reaching across the table for something, ask for it to be passed to you.
10. Always say ‘excuse me’ whenever you leave the table.
11. If someone asks for either salt or pepper it is in fine form to give both the salt and pepper together. This signals courtesy in the anticipation of another person's needs. It's also worth noting that the food should always be tasted first before requesting either. Remember: Salt and pepper travel together!
12. Wait until everyone has their food to begin eating (this is more important in restaurant dining and in big dinners of course you must wait for the host to begin eating.)
13. In formal dining, men should never rush to sit before women.
14. If you must blow at your soup to cool it then be quiet. It's preferred to just scoop hot soup from the surface (the coolest part) or even better just wait until it cools down a bit.
15. Please keep dining discussion to cordial and pleasant topics. Heated debates are for the after-dinner room.
16.  When finished with your plate, place your utensils in the 4 o'clock position. This is the signal for the wait-staff to that you are finished. (As a reminder don't leave your utensils in this position if you are just leaving for a minute and aren't finished.) Remember-plates are served from the left side and removed from the right side so placing your utensils at 4 o'clock allows the waitstaff to secure their thumb on them so they don't fall while picking up your plate.
17. Avoid shouting across the table to catch someone's attention or engage in conversation.
18. If, by any chance, a utensil or a piece of food is dropped on the floor--do not pick it up and put it back on the table. Kindly ask your wait person for a replacement utensil.
19. Please wait until everyone is finished before leaving the table.

I recently invested in some new dinnerware and referred to this diagram to brush up on my place settings. (NB: In Europe the soup spoon is generally placed at the top, ahead of the plate, and turned 90-deg.) Here's to being civilized again not to mention environmentally friendly and using less paper/plastic!

*Special thanks to RDLV for inspiring this post's topic! Always a treat to dine with and your lovely wife!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

1 Year Anniversary of Swimming At Sea!

Oh My ears and whiskers I can't believe a year has flown by!

I am thankful to all my readers that keep up with the many eclectic topics I cover on this blog. Those of you who have been reading from the start know that I initially started the blog as a nice past-time last summer and means to document my aquatic adventures through aquatic mediums like Jacques Cousteau and Jules Verne provided us many years ago. Suffice to say I never I went sailing last summer, but who knows what this summer might bring!

Throughout the year this blog has transformed into something a bit different. Maritime adventures has tagged along as I journey through my transition into the medical profession. I've posted many tid-bits about topics that interest me deeply and have tried to collect the major themes in my labels section. I'm glad you all have enjoyed my thoughts so far and I've come to realize that my blog has served as more of a dialectic than anything else. I'm grateful it has given me a forum to voice my thoughts, opinions, and interests considering I don't participate in social media. While I develop and broaden my views and experience life I hope the upcoming year enables me to continue writing and bringing relevant and interesting topics to the forefront. Strap on your flippers and here's to a great start of year deux of Swimming at Sea!

-Swimming At Sea

Friday, May 17, 2013

End of an annoying week

This script sums up my frustrations this week:

Me: What do I have to do to make sure this package gets delivered by Monday? We're willing to make it worth the effort. I'm willing to retrieve the package from Raynham if necessary.
FedEx: I'm sorry mam, No. You'd have to coordinate any upgrade with the sender and it still won't get shipped out today because it's locked in a box at the Raynham facility.
Me: I'll go to Raynham and pick it up that's not an issue.
FedEx: Sorry Raynham facility does not support customer pickup.
Me: If I was Barack Obama you'd let me go to Raynham and get my FMOC (chemical reagent)
FedEx: No. Sorry that's our policy and you're not Barack.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Etiquette Wednesday: Gym Etiquette

While I really do love my gym--it's small, clean, and unlike most Boston gyms it's not in the basement and overlooks a big street so the view is quite nice, but there's some things I hope everyone (no matter where they choose to be fit) keeps in mind.

First off, standing around and taking up space in a small locker room to text is super annoying. Especially if there are other people changing and such. I don't understand why people linger around in the locker room and text. I'm sorry, but none of us are texting people that important that it can't wait to take 2 mins and go outside the gym in open space. (It's not like they're texting Barack Obama right?) Secondly, although I don't think I've ever noticed anyone do this at my gym, I'm sure people do and I just don't notice but please wipe down the machine after using it. Courtesy people! Luckily my gym has a no phone-call policy on the floor, but if it's absolutely necessary for you to gab on your phone at the gym please just go outside and do it. Be kind to the people who work at the front desk. I always see folks just walk by and not even say hi. For me, the worst thing to do so someone is to ignore and not acknowledge their existence. At least say hello and goodbye, you see them everyday and it doesn't hurt! Lastly, if your gym gives out towels the least you can do is put them in the dispensary when your done with them. I find it rude that some people just leave them on the floor or in the locker room. Whatever happened to respect communal spaces?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hilarious Interview and the start of the 21st century feminist

First off--does anyone else find this guy's interview absolutely hilarious. Word up to AC who knows how to do a real street handshake.

Now onto a new blog segment I'm going to start: The 21st Century Feminist. Perhaps as I grow older I'm becoming more attuned to gender-bias in the workforce/academia, but I want to make a few points about women in medicine (or really any other male-dominated profession.) I recently posted Sheryl Sandberg's TED talk on why there are so few women leaders. I hope as I progress in my career that I see a paradigm shift where there are more women in leadership positions across every field. The issue I have, however, is our journey to those positions in the first place. I'm on the cusp of my career and time and time again I notice comments (on the frontline in my field and through the media) that continuously place women in a less than positive light for either being assertive or having ambition to enter positions of power or dominance or male-dominated fields. I'm a little bothered by the NY times coverage that was written by a woman about a survey from the Pentagon that indicated a sharp rise in sexual assault cases in the armed forces. While that fact alone is disturbing, the line that really pinches my nerve is when Senator Gillibrand (a woman-D-NY) is described to have "nearly shouted as she addressed Michael B. Donley, the secretary of the Air Force." My disappointment rests with the word "shouted." That description doesn't add any value and carries a negative connotation. What is also cause for concern is that the author is female. My point is we have to stop doing this to ourselves. This ties back to a point that Sheryl Sandberg made in her TED talk about stepping back in our careers as women before it's necessary or called for. As a collective demographic that comprises half the population of the human race we have to stop limiting ourselves because how can we expect any societal shift if we continue to illustrate assertion of other vocal women in a negative light?

From my personal experience and the experiences of many of my female friends here, we are consistently discouraged to pursue demanding and highly-competitive residencies. I have lost count of the number of times I've been discouraged to even pursue the MD degree altogether and encouraged to instead be PA or going the MPH route for no other reason than that "it's more economical for women to do so." These comments have only come from men so far and nearly every PA I know (all female) say they wish they just went to medical school instead. It's upsetting that after so much social progress, the journey to getting the opportunity to even play on the field is still an uphill battle and will continue to be so unless things change. I'd like to share an anecdote from PK who went to see her physician (a male) the other day. He commented on medicine being tough for women especially if they want to get married and start a family and that a lot of women in medicine choose ROAD specialties for the 9-5 schedule and high salary instead of surgery (and there seemed to be an insinuation that the women couldn't hack it to match in a surgical specialty.) First off, medicine is tough for everyone. Secondly, her comments to me as she relayed the conversation were en pointe "why don't fathers take care of the children while women are in residency? and when did it become ok for male surgeons to not spend time with their children?" True points. I have a sister in a surgical specialty and I recall many of her female seniors that either had children or were pregnant during residency and they managed to handle it (it is undisputed that there's few endeavors that are more taxing on time and energy than a surgical residency where you kill it for 100+ hours/wk for 5+ years, but it's possible to survive and women can do it.) I'm always aggravated when I'm discouraged to pursue any competitive surgical specialty because my elders just want me to have an easy life where I get in and out of residency and earn a real income again. The thing is though, I didn't choose to be a doctor for either of those reasons. I want to tirelessly work, even for the 5 years of less than nothing resident salary, because with grueling hours and hard work you learn and you grow in ways that you simply cannot if you don't push yourself to your limit and doing anything less than that simply limits my own potential and contribution to the field. I'm not discrediting the women in ROAD specialties in any way. I just reject the notion women ought to be the ones to consider confining their options from the start whereas for our male colleagues any residency is fair game. If Marissa Mayer can steer Yahoo while having a newborn then isn't it time we believe it's possible for women to handle 12 hours of surgery and be mothers and wives?

As a last thought, interestingly when I worked as an engineer I remember many of my superiors with children and I was impressed by how they found a way to seamlessly integrate fatherhood into a demanding career. The point isn't to leave men behind, it's to bring them along with us. This is a collective challenge for both men and women and we all must make a greater effort to share the responsibility.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Nicki Minaj Lil Wayne-High School

(1) A patch test is one of the most annoying things ever...another 48 hours to go :-/ and this little lady is miserable.
(2) Anyone else love these massmutual commericals?
(3) Exposure part two still does not desensitize, but I might have found a way to subdue...although my third house mouse sighting is still just as annoying and the first one.
(4) Whatever happened to attention to detail? On top of the patch test, even more annoying is when things are rearranged. grrrrrr
(5) If I haven't already expressed my disdain for brokers...seriously? yuppies that charge me money for apartments I find myself? I cannot think of a group of individuals that contribute less to society.
(6) Irritants and allergies are different (but may present the same symptomatically.)
(7) Is anyone else obsessed with Downton Abbey AND Doctor Who (the new ones)?
(8) Some really good TED talks:
- On Image I take this one to heart because I'm often the recipient of misjudgements based on whatever image I apparently exude.
-In reference to my other post (see here) my former boss Dave recommended this very eye opening TED talk from Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs Extremely interesting/humbling not only factually but also philosophically.
- The Art of Asking This one is very interesting just to watch--Amanda Palmer is an engaging, theatrical speaker.
- Sheryl Sandberg on Women leaders in industry
- Super Interesting on alternative approaches to therapeutics for mood disorders
- Atul Gawande-How to heal medicine Read the book on this (Checklist Manifesto) which is a good read and I've seen it widely used in engineering/industry so I kind of wonder why it isn't used in high precision/high failure theatres like the OR.