Life, Running, & Medicine.
Notes on life as I see it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Update: Out with the 101

Well, it seems my min review of my new Forerunner 101 got me thinking... and looking... and finding that the Garmin Forerunner 205 is on sale at Amazon after Christmas for $149.99 and qualified for free shipping and no taxes in GA.
Hmmm.... So after letting my wife know I had her get me the wrong gift I went and returned the 101 to Target and upgraded for $50 more to the 205.  The warehouse is in ATL so I got the device yesterday.
I just completed my first run (6.5mi) with it.
Here is a large review on the 205, so I won't reinvent the wheel.
Some of my own comments though:
- First off it is awesome.  Hopefully I can get a web app to publish my runs with.
- The more traditional watch shape fits better
- The GPS Receiver is supposedly far more accurate.  I have no way of knowing.  It was within .01 miles of what google maps said my route should be though.
- The included software, Garmin Training Center (GTC), had some sync glitches which required me uninstalling and downloading the newest version off the garmin site to fix.  No real biggie but annoying.
- GTC has a lot of limitations but does all of the basics.  Does NOT have good built in street level maps.
- The web-based account you get with the 205 is somewhat more useful for mapping.  I'm still playing with this now.
- Garmin says they will be replacing MotionBased with for the 205/305 in Jan 08.  Hopefully that means it will be feature-packed and easy to use.
- Elevation/Grade is pretty much way off except for long steady hills.  MotionBase fixes this somewhat by cross referencing position for known elevation data.
- There are some whispers that the 305 may have yet better accuracy, but so far the only upgrade I can find for the 305 is the free HR monitor and the optional footpod or cadence device.  For most it seems like that isn't worth the $80 extra...
Happy Caching!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back in the Saddle

OK, my first real run in about 3 weeks.  I tried out the new Forerunner I got for Christmas - seemed to work great, but didn't have the auto-pause turned on so my virtual partner left me in the dust at the water fountain.  Finished with a 9:49 pace for 5 miles.  Also ran with the Nike+, calibrated it on the first mile but by the end it was still off by 6-7%.  I think the hills really screw it up, even though my average pace was the same.
Legs a little sore this morning.
Today is the last day of Holiday for me.  I return tomorrow, but after New Year's my schedule lightens up a bit.
I will begin training for the ING Georgia Half Marathon.  Was thinking of doing the full marathon but given my recent hiatus don't think its possible.  Will be fun to do the Chicago next fall as my first anyway (and still before 30 years).

New Toys: Garmin Forerunner 101 GPS

Ok, so Christmas from my wife this year brought the Garmin Forerunner 101, mainly because I saw it in Target for a $100 and thought it looked like a great deal.  Right now in my life (and slow poke training) I just can't justify the pricetag of the 305.  The 101 seemed like it had most of the key features and seems like a deal at cool Franklin.  I'll leave a quick review SO FAR of my experience, mainly as a resource for anyone looking to buy one of these training watches.
SYNOPSIS: This is a low-end GPS training "watch" that uses satellite technology to track the user's runs, walks or bikes.  Garmin is a popular namebrand of all things GPS.  This unit can display current pace, total pace, lap pace, distance, time, lap time, elevation and grade (pace can be changed to speed for bikers).  It will record pace/time/distance data for 100 workouts.  Like all GPS devices, it will not work indoors and needs a clear view of the sky to work "best".  Unlike pedometer style trainers, eg the Nike+, it will not work on a treadmill.
PRICE: This device is selling now for about $100.  There is a cheaper GPS trainer out there at around $50, the Forerunner 305 is the "full featured" Garmin trainer at about $250.  The Forerunner 301 is around $150 at Amazon and also has a includes USB connectivity and heart rate monitoring.
OVERALL: Seems like just the right device for the person not wanting to spend a ton but wanting a bit more accuracy and features than the Nike+ system.  Would consider the Forerunner 301 or 205 also.
- The biggest is twice now in 3 days it has not started up without me manually removing/replacing the batteries and then starting with the power button.  I don't know what causes this.  The data is not lost during this. The batteries are new.  This is most concerning.
- The 101 and 201 do not sync to a computer, so runs have to be manually entered if you want to blog your runs.
- Elevation is GPS-based, not a barometric altimeter, which means it is less accurate.  It does seem to display a changing elevation though.  I don't know if this is calculated in to the calories-burned algorithm.
- Elevation and grade data is not recorded, only displayed.
- Size of unit is much larger than a watch, but on par for these products.  I hate wearing watches but I'm not too bothered by this on my run.
- Very limited for "navigation", eg no street maps, no waterways, nothing.  So if you're in a strange land and try to return to your starting point you may be blocked by, say, the Mississippi River, another country, or the Pacific Ocean.  It is helpful and useful but far from full-featured.
- Battery life at 14 hours, but some out there are using rechargeable AAA's.
- Paula Radclife doesn't come on and talk to me.  And it doesn't play music.
- ACCURACY!  Of course it has some probs calculating your pace for the first 20 seconds or if you go under a bridge, but by and large this seems right on.  I was worried about some of the canopied roads I run on - it seems to work fine.  Probably as long as you are running fairly straight it can can get away with loosing the signal temporarily without any impact on your overal pace.  I run on a lot of hills and the Nike+iPod is notorious for being inaccurate (because stride length varies on the hills).
- Virtual training partner feature is simple but something lacking in the iPod.  Set your partner to run  at a 9:00 pace and it tells you how far ahead or behind you are.
- Pace Alerts.  You can set the Forerunner to beep at you when you slow down or speed up beyond certain limits (you customize).
- History feature.  Stores a synopsis of your run (but not all the location points).
- Navigation.  It is limited but will be nice when out of town, like at a hotel, and you want to just go get lost on a run.  Just "Set Mark" at the hotel, go run, and when you're ready to return just "Goto Mark" and use the navigation screen to find your way back.
- Has an auto-rest feature if you want.  If your pace dips below a certain customizable level the timer stops recording (good for water breaks).
- Counts your calories, allows you to enter your weight in your "profile".
- Turn down the screen contrast on the settings menu to lowest visible for longer battery life.
- Turn on the "auto lap" feature so it automatically records your lap data every 1 mile.
- Make a custom screen displaying Pace and Average Pace.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Reindeer Sightings

The wife and I made it out to OK just in time for a little snow on Saturday.  The temp never rose above 30 and the wind never got much below that.  So cold we had to go buy more warm weather gear.
The snowfall probably didnt amount to much more than  1 1/2" but all the wind made it kick around quite a bit.
We visited the OKC bombing memorial, a very nice place albeight all outdoor and FREEZING.  The we went over to bricktown for a bit of fun snow-tubing inside the baseball stadium.
Being Floridians at heart we tried our best to make a snowman but it barely stood 40" tall.  It lasted through the night (although the head rolled off) but was reduced to an "ice mound" by midday sunday.  It did manage to scare the dog off.
Today we fly back home.  Tomorrow will be spent exchanging gifts between the wife and the dog then heading up to Chateau Elan (resort, winery, hotel) for a Christmas buffet lunch with some friends.  Will be my first Christmas away from family of some sort and honestly am looking forward to the relaxation.
If I can get everyone awake here in time we're going to to the gym this AM.  I would run but the roads are a little icy and I don't know where any trails are.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chipping for Par

Wow well my holiday vacation-thon started last Friday.  Began with (of course) another long day then the obligatory "night out" with my wife's friends, then my friends, all ending up at a common third watering hole in midtown Atlanta.  Somehow managed to stumble in around 1:30am just in time to get a little sleep before two solid days of Christmas shopping.
Sunday evening I drove down to north Florida to hang out with my family - our holiday time - as will be visiting the wife's family this year for most of the break.
It has been kinda the southeat's first cold snap and I'm maybe a little too wimpy to go out for run in the near-freezing temps.  Last night and tonight I did a hard 30 minutes on my fam's elliptical (450 calories burned, harder than my usual run); weak I know but more than the nothing I've been doing lately.  Really glad to see I can still hang given have taken off practically the last 6 weeks from any serious exercise.
Today the old man and I played golf at an unknown south Georgia course - Golden Leaf in Calvary, Ga.  A neat place because it was opened about 2 years ago by a farmer that worked the land for some 30 years before he designed and built an 18-holepar 72 course on it.  Granted you have to fight off his watchdog for the first hole and the tee-box markers are made of concreted Solo cups, it is a very interesting (and at times lonely) place to play.  The Tuesday rate is $18 for 18 holes and a cart - cheaper than the cheapest ghetto golf in Atlanta.  My game was further off than the norm - found myself in a situation to chip for par (from 50 yds or so) on almost every par 4 or 5.  Thursday am playing in Atlanta so maybe will be able to redeem myself.
Later this week am flying out to Oklahoma for the in-laws.  It should be a good time.  Have never been out there before and am looking forward to the BBQ (and hi test egg nog).
Joy to all.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Head Above Water

Wow the last few weeks have been a blur.  I'm barely able to find time to eat much less run.  I have managed to only run about 5 miles a week since mid november.  My schedule has been killer (granted not all work, some play, but still killer).

The last five days:

Wednesday I got in at the typical 5:45am, rounded on patients and spent the rest of the day in the operating room.  Around 3pm a friend called - an extra club level ticket to that night's hockey game - I accepted, forgetting I had about 200 pages of reading to do by thursday morning.  Got home at 11pm, read till 1:30am.

Thursday woke up around 5:15am and headed to work.  Did rounds, operating room, etc until around 8pm when finally made it home.  Was on call.  Got the obligatory call in around 10:30pm ("I'm sure this will be fast").  Yeah right, little kiddo had to go to OR for large parapharyngeal abscess that was obstructing breathing.  Got home at 2:15am.  Called back to another hospital at 3:00am for some total BS that I wound up yelling at them about.  Slept on the lounge couch 4-5am when I awoke and started Friday.

Friday was a full day.  I did manage to scrub out for 45 minutes for a nap.  Was at work until 7:30pm, picked up pizza on the way home.  Planning to go to bed when I got a call around 8:30 that our med student welcome party at a local bar was poorly attended.  So I left and went out to the bar until midnight.

Saturday got up at 7am because I was volunteered to entertain the med students during their interview and tour day.  At the hospital until 2:00pm.  Then headed home and took a 3 hour nap.  Saturday night had a dinner party with my wife's friends that kept us out until 1am.

Sunday morning up by 7:30 for a 9:15 tee-time with friends.  Played 18 holes, shot > 100 but was fun.  Worked on house chores that afterrnoon, finally got in a 5 mile run with the neighbor.

The week started again this morning with a 5:00 wakeup, home by 8pm tonight.  On call of course tonight then wednesday.

Light at the end is that vacation starts this Friday.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Daylight Comes

This weekend I'm on call at the big house.  Kinda the pits but its only once or twice a month.  My friday night was good - made it down to happy hour after work with "team" and my wife.  Managed to not get called in all night, but had the obligatory "every 90 minutes we'll page you about something we don't really need to ask you about." [incidentally I'm preparing a whole entry on stupid doctor phone calls]
I woke at four, then five, then five fifteen (to let the dog out), then six thirty, then finally seven AM to my alarm.  I got up and ready in the usual fashion but couldn't help but notice something...  it was daylight out.
I haven't actually seen daylight this week since last Sunday on the drive back from Florida.  (we'll maybe in the afternoon i had crossed the street at work in between buildings, but that hardly counts).  Most all the leaves are down too.  The wind blowing drifts of maple magnolia leaves across an empty Saturday morning steet is almost sureal; I'm instantly transported to last year this time.
It is my favorite time of year I think.
I did my rounding, caught up on some scut and was able to negotiate a 5miler in at work - running round and round a small lake at the hospital.  It was sunny and in the high sixties.  Perfection.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tough Monday

I broke away from the hospital tonight before 7pm (what a break!).  My wife was working on some project with coworkers late so I took the opportunity to go for a little run.  It's been raining off and on all day so the grounds were wet.  Being well after dark I wore my flashing light clip-on and kept the iPod turned down low.
I started at a pace I felt was fast - maybe 8 minutes by the feel.  I managed to keep up what FELT like a very hot pace for me.  I checked the Nike+ several times and was convinced it was well out of calibration again - SURELY I was surring faster than what it read.  SURELY!
Throughout the run I fought hard on all the uphills and picked it up on the downhills.  I was getting pretty sore about halfway through the 5 miles.  I pressed my iPod again to get my pace - 10:00/mile.  DAMN CALLIBRATION!
I finished at 46 minutes for a purported 4.6 miles.  SURELY that was wrong.
I checked on Google Maps and to my surprise the run was only 4.78 miles.  Somehow I got totally exhausted from only running 5 miles at a pace that was a full minute slower than my recent 10 mile race.  This running stuff is amazing.  The day to day flux makes to no sense.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Runs

We pulled up to my in-laws in rural Florida at about 1am Thanksgiving
morning. The skies were getting cloudy and we could start to see a
little lightening in the distance... regardless, at 1am after 6 hours
of driving we were headed to bed...

Thanksgiving morning brought the rains - granted good for the
southeast drought - the 1/2" or so we got was barely a drop in the
bucket but enough to keep me off the road.

We had a our usual grotesquely large Italian thanksgiving for lunch
and did the other usual family things after the rain cleared up -
played with the motorcycles, our golf driver challenge, badminton.

The day ended by carving into the turkey and cranberry sauce for dinner.

Friday morning I woke up before everyone and found the morning
beautiful. I strapped on the Saucony's and headed out on the rural
Florida highway (careful to keep the Pod volume low - very little
traffic, but also no sidewalks). I did a nice 6.5miler and got back
before my wife even woke up. Temp in the 50's. Then treated myself
to the outside shower.

Later Friday we went to visit my family, a couple hours away. I
dragged my dad out to run Saturday morning on a 4 mile jog (he used to
do distances, but is just now getting back into it - mostly doing
elliptical training - and only runs now when I come in town). The 4
miler was slow but we got to explore a few new areas around the house,
including two large ponds, I never knew were there.

I would be out there right now but the rain has returned. Am getting
ready to head back to the city, back to work, back to 14 hour days,
and back to probably no more running until my next day off - December

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's been a slaughter

In the medical field we call it a slaughter. Since November 1 I've
been on a very busy rotation in my residency. Lately I've been
getting into the hospital at 5:45am and leaving around 7 or 8pm (7pm
actually on the early side). I've decided that no matter how hard I
work during the day there will be work found until at least 7.

That being said the Chickamauga run has been my last time out. This
past weekend I was on call, which usually affords me some time to run.
I changed into my running clothes in the car, hooked up the iPod and
halfway down the stairwell got paged back to the hospital - a simple
30 minute consult turned into 4 more, plus an OR trip, plus a couple
of procedures on the floor.

I've been away from my wife and house so much I don't feel right about
running during my 2-3 free hours a day.

Tomorrow I hope to get all done by 4 or 5pm and head out the door for
a four-day Thanksgiving break. Will be sure to get in a run here or

Happy break!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chickamauga Success!

I met with personal success the morning of the 10th.  My foot gave me an ache on Oct 30th and I've been off it ever since... except for a single 1-hour elliptical workout last weekend.  I did a 1.5 mile "stretch" around the block friday night.  My goal for the race was a 9:00 mile / 90min overall, which I have not done for that distance before.  In the final analysis I wound up with a 1:24:24 time (8:27 pace), which is about a minute faster pace than I expected - VERY HAPPY VERY SORE.
Saturday morning my neighbor Z and I, and our wives, woke up pre-5am.  We loaded in the SUV and barrelled northward to Chickamauga.  After getting some directions from local Chickamauga cops (the Google maps failed us!) we found the Oakland Street Church and the Start of the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon and 10 miler.
We got checked in, used the potty and even got race chips  for this one (a nice but unexpected touch for a 10-miler).  Before I left Atlanta the temp in Chickamauga was reported as 49F.  I think they were about 10 degrees off.  Definitely felt thirties and was slow to warm up.  We started the 10 miler about 30 mins after the marathon.
The race starts by winding out of small neighborhood and over a highway to enter the Chickmauga Battlefield area.  In general the 10 mile course is almost flat, but definitely 1 or 2 real hills and many slow inclines and declines.  We finally enter the Battlefield area, staying on paved roads.  It is strange that during race it is apparent why they call it the "Battlefield".  Yes, of course there was a battle there, but its almost like the area was laid out to have battles - Looks like before being a battle field it was an agricultural area (not just forest).  The whole place is diviied up into large 20-acre open fields spearated by strips of woods.
We passed several deer that did not seem to mind us.  Someone spotted a coyote.  Most of the roads were canopied but several stretches in the sun.  Unfortunately no houses around and very few cheering us on.  There were plenty of water/powerade stations and the course was very well marked.  Our split times were taken at the halkway / turnaround point.
At mile 7 my foot started hurting again, but not as bad as previously.  It didn't really slow me down but boy does it make you anxious!  At mile 8 I was starting to run out of gas at this quicker pace.  I checked the iPod clock though and could afford to back off a little. Finally the last mile came and the steam was quickly exiting.  For the last 200 yards I had no juice left to sprint, only enough to jog a little straighter and smile a little more.
I finished and stood on the chip mat extra long to be sure - Over 5 mins faster than my goal.
Great Day.  Great Race.  WIll definitely shoot to make it back next year.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Uggghhh... What am I doing!

Work has been a bear!  The upside is that I haven't had any time to screw up my foot more - no pain since running on it last weds.  Just 4.5 days to Chickamauga!
I spent an hour on the elliptical over the weekend (only and hour I know I know...).  Burned 870 calories and did 6.6 miles according to the machine.  I'm seriously considering buying one as they seem like the perfect cardio for a runner - no impact for when you've got the aches, and indoors for when its cold out.
Anyway If I can make it through the week at work then I'm off all weekend - The Chickamauga 10mile on Saturday and the Multiple Myeloma 5K (cool down) on Sunday.
Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Foot Pain Blues

Halloween morning I went off to enjoy a long 10 mile run.  Note this is coming on the heels of my pretty tough 5 mile run the morning before.  Immediately I had a pain in my right lateral foot (on or about the 5th metatarsal).  The pain was a dull ache that pounded with each step.  It got worse and worse and at 0.9 miles I quit running.  I walked back to the house.

What frustration!  It is a terrible feeling being hopeless and hurt.  My 10 mile race is coming up - supposedly my mental springboard for a marathon next year.  Now I've got an injury to nurse.

I don't think its a fracture - no tenderness I can find and no swelling. Just pain in the general region of that bone, especially when I supinate my ankle and give it a little more pressure.  Probably some tendon or joint space in there inflamed.

The plan is to chill on jogging until the race next weekend.  I will work on the eliptical machine this weekend to keep strength up.  I probably won't get a chance to run during the week as my new rotation has begun at work and it is insanely busy (some 30 hours just thursday and friday alone).

Stay posted.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

First Frost

The plan this morning was to get up well before dawn and do my 10 mile loop, this time adding a few speed intervals along the way.  Apparently I didn't get the message that it would be the first real fall day we've had.  The weather out was in the high 30's, plenty of frost on the ground and on rooftops ( can anyone explain to me how frost can form when its not even near freezing? on the roof?)
I snoozed for an extra hour (thankfully I have a late start day today) and dragged myself up so so I could head out around 7:30.  Rather than doing my big loop I went for a 5.0 mile quick run (5 miles per Google Maps).  I deliberately pushed myself hard most of the run and had a very strong finish.  My final time was 44:56, or 8:59 per mile.  My iPod still not exactly calibrated read it as a 4.81mi distance for a 9:20 pace.  I went into the iPod workout folder and changed the XML file to reflect the correct distance and pace.  I did not bother to change all the split times though so it will be a little off if you look carefully at the graph.
I think the calibration was wacky because I was running about :40 harder than I normally do, no doubt lengthening my stride a little and therefore running fewer steps and therefore making the Nike+ think I didn't run as far.
All in all a good run.  Now off to work, and later off to buy some winter running clothes.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Calibration tonight

Calibrated the Nike+ tonight.  One thing I unfortunately discovered along the way is the iPod only lets you calibrate to a distance of 1.25 miles.  I calibrated running and walking at distances of 0.75 and 0.35 miles, respectively.  We'll see in the AM how it goes with tomorrow's run.

12 days to Chickamauga

Say what?! Never heard of Chickamauga? Honestly neither had I. I found the race on as an Atlanta-area marathon and "10mile tot-trot" whose timing happened to correspond with my training goals (the 10miler, not the marathon).

This year's race is November 10th.

Chickamauga is a small town south of Chattanooga, TN, an hour-and-a-half from Atlanta. It is the site of a bloody Civil War battle and now a large National Park. The race is hosted by the Chattanooga Track Club and is in its 31st year. In 2006, the 10 mile had 246 runners and the marathon 323. The marathon course is a 1 mile feed to a large 12 mile loop which is doubled. The 10 miler is just an out-and-back of the first 5 miles. The CTC describes the marathon as "paved, rolling hills", the 10miler is described as "fast and flat".

Fast may be open to interpretation.

This will be the longest race I've done in 11 years, and my 2nd longest race ever. My neighbor and I are getting up at the crack of dawn to drive up there, get our race packets and game on. I guess I'm sort of shooting for a pace of aroun 9:10. I've been running in the high-9's lately for hily 10 miles. If this course really is "flat" and if I really give it my all I should be able to shave :30 off. Maybe...

To make things even funnier my wife (a social run-walker) registered us for a Multiple Myeloma 5K the following morning. Something tells me I may be run-walking with her!

Chattanooga Track Club
Race Course @ USATF

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Run

On the heels of my 10 miler Friday morning with the neighbor, and his Forerunner, I set out again this morning.  Having stayed up to watch all of SNL last night needless to say I slept in a little and got a late start (about 9am).
It was a little brisk, but the run started great.  I've started to notice that the first 3 miles used to be the worst part of my run, this morning I felt loosened up and engergetic at about a mile and half.  Progress I guess.
I brought a Powerade Gel pack with me in case I was feeling adventurous and wanted to go a little extra.  My stadard 10.1mile run takes me through the Oakland Cemetary at about the halfway point.  I get a good view of Grady from the big hill in the middle (I will have to post a photo here next week).  The Cemetary is hosting some kind of spooky nights thing for Halloween.... there were a few scattered Corona's and some left over lights and signs from last night.  Looks like fun.
I was feeling good enough by mile 6 to go ahead and try to run more than my usual long course.  I popped down a Gel and hit the water fountain.  10.1, by the way is the longest I have run since a 20K in 1996 (The Bainbridge, Georgia Pine Run), and that was the only time I had run that far before.  What I'm saying is basically I have been training at 10mi recently, which is something I have never done until the past month or so.
I passed my usual endpoint and continued to do another loop around the block.  Man, funny how I can run 10 miles without feeling dead then addding only an extra mile is like KILLER.  My extra loop took me around the backside of my 'hood, where my old 5.5mile loop used to finish up.  On several occasions I tripped and nearly fell on the crooked sidewalk when I was totally exhausted from the 5 miles.  And as I crossed mile 11 I almost tripped again.  Fitting.
I ended on my new powerson - Bleed it out by Linkin Park.
Happiness is setting a new distance PR (minus the one race 11 years ago).  Unfortunately my iPod is now miscalibrated by about 5% so it overcalled my distance and speed, I will work on another calibration tomorrow.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pumpkin Fun

So I stumbled upon this great site .  After having an utterly hysterical time flipping though this at work I couldn't resist stopping to buy a few pumpkins of my own on the way home.
I just finished carving two of them up.  With the third and final pumpkin I have yet to decide which face of terror it will be.  (Admittedly my designs are 100% stolen from the Extreme Pumpkins site.)
Happy Haunting...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

ImageJ: Freeware DICOM viewer for PC

For the medicine nerd in all of you, I thought I would pass this along...

I recently spent a lot of time looking on the internet for a freeware DICOM (medical image filetype based on BMP or TIFF) viewer for looking at computerized CT scans at home "offline" - mostly for a research project I am doing. ANYWAY, there is a ton of trialware outthere. Some of it is good, most of it is not. Most are very large software packages and very difficult to use/install/uninstall.
ImageJ is Java-based DICOM viewer that has all the features most of us non-superuser-non-radiologists could need in a lean & mean package. It is open source and there is a large collection of plugins that integrate easily (some quite elaborate). ImageJ's web-home is hosted by the NIH, but not really government sponsored or supported. There are some forums and ImageJ superusers out there that you can contact.

Most notably, ImageJ supports a variety of formats, but not compressed DICOMs. This is kind of a pain because DICOM compression is sometimes very proprietary to the originating machine, so uncompressing it on third party software is hard. So far I have been dealing with uncompressed BMP files, which load easily using the File-->Import-->Image Sequence... command. By having my BMPs of the same series in a single folder, ImageJ knows to load them all into a stack.

Once loaded there are all the standard adjustments and stack scrolling that can be done. There are several good filters and 3D tools built into the base software as well. There is also easy image Copy and Export features. A huge list of plugin addons is kept on the ImageJ website.

Plugin: Volume Viewer. So far this seems to be the best way to look at coronal and sagittal reformats with ImageJ. The plugin is found: . It is simple to use, allows arbitrary planes, and allow for easy export of "saved" images.

All in all, this is definitely the best, simplest, and arguably the most powerful freeware DICOM viewer out there, especially for the casual user.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DIY Wildlife Habitat

So don't know what to do with that untamed corner in your yard? Or the gully behind your house you've let get out of hand? Or maybe you're just tired of your Bermuda grass lawn and liriope...

You too can have your very own National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat. I saw a few of these signs in people's yards while jogging and thought I would check it out.

Basically you can register a section of your lawn as a backyard wildlife habitat with the NWF. Your habitat needs to provide food sources, water sources, "cover", places to raise young, and sustainable gardening techniques (e.g. mulch). For $15 you get a year's membership in the NWF and your habitat put into a database. A few extra bucks gets you the nifty sign (which I'm sure is why most people do it).

There is also an option for a "community habitat" for neighborhoods or groups.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Nike+ Sportkit

I went out and picked up the Nike+ iPod chip kit over the weekend. Really cool toy I must say. I bought a small add-on velcro- "pocket" for my Saucony shoes to put the clip in (the greatest hack ever). Sunday morning I ran down at the local track for a 1-mile calibration run (it worked without calibration but at some point these pedometer technologies need calibration).

Tonight I finished my big run this week - the 10-miler. My google maps -based route has it measured at 10.13 miles. The calibrated Nike+ chip recorded it at 10.33 miles... That's only about 2% off.

The pedometrer technology works by essentially counting your "Steps" then using your average stride length to calculate your speed & distance. They will never be as perfect as GPS (which isn't perfect either) because invariably your stride length will change some depending on energy level and terrain. I was surprised to see it only at 2/10ths off after 10 miles.

The best part is the chick that tells me how far I've gone every mile and Paula Radcliffe telling me how great I did on my personal best. Why isn't there an add-on for more motivational talk during the run? ("Hey hot guy, keep it up", "Nice work, sexy")

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A visit from the Dalai Lama

Wow there's way too much to say about the Dalai Lama visiting the United States... and Atlanta... and Emory of all places. I managed to get my hands on a couple tickets and headed down to see him (and other theologians) today for a "Summit" on "peacebuilding".

Most notable was the sheer simplicity with which the Dalai Lama relayed his message (basically that mutual affection is at the center of peace). Also interesting were the other religious scholars who echoed this sentiment with thier own traditions' flare.

I will surely remember this forever. Hopefully I can work a little harder to live a little better every day. I may go out and buy one of his books.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Shoot 'em up

Uggh... Grady call last night. Covering "face" for another resident out of town.

Friday night trauma at grady is just short of battle really (well, maybe a MASH unit in battle). This was no exception:

1. One guy shot in the nose, bullet travels through the orbit and exits on the side of the cheek. He of course is awake, pissed, and "don't know the guys" that shot him. His eye is the size of a softball (frank globe rupture, orbital hematoma, hyphema, optic nerve with direct missile injury on CT). Went to OR to have his eye out by the time sun came up.

2. Dude #2 walks in through the doors with more holes in his face. This teenage minor apparently "heard two or three shots" then found his face bleeding and sore. Looks like only hit once - bullet breaks his jaw and his zygomaticomaxillary complex, then bounces out of his head (rather than deeper into it). Lucky I guess. He was awake, and pissed, and "didn't know the guys" that did it. Of course.

3. Dude #3 a transfer from OSH. Got assaulted some 24 h prior, now can't see or can't move his eye. Got a full workup at the outside hospital including a cat scan. Was transferred after 20 hours when they realized they couldn't handle his injuries (i.e. he had no insurance). Best part is they send no labs and send no cat scan. So everything gets repeated. Remind me why Grady can't stay afloat...

Countless others with bloody rags holding their bleeding heads waiting on stitches, cat scans, pain meds...

[time for bed]

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