Friday, April 22, 2016
I was awake early enough to leave the house before 7 a.m. I was heading to Boston. It was a sunny day. The roads were dry. I made good time. Before I left my own street, this is what I saw:
When I arrived in Boston it was five and a half hours later. It had been an uneventful trip until I was a few blocks from her building. I knew where I was going and found myself at an intersection where I would have liked to turn right onto Boylston Street. My daughter’s office building is located on Boylston.
It was not possible to make that right hand turn. Emergency Vehicles were blocking the road. There was a fire hose stretched across Boylston just past the emergency vehicles. I had to go around the block. It was a long Block. There was heavy traffic. There is heavy traffic and there is heavy Boston traffic. I'm not a fan of Boston traffic. I was never a fan of Boston traffic. After this experience, I am even less a fan.
A half-hour later I found my way back to Boylston from the other direction and on the other side of her building. I texted her to apprise her of my situation. She directed me to a place where I could park. There is a lot next to a school where we parked on our last visit when we had dinner at Sweet Cheeks, a restaurant on Boylston Street. When I drove past the driveway entrance to the lot, I found the gate closed. A sign indicated that the lot was full. I drove to the end of the block, turned right and parked near a sign that indicated that parking was permitted for residents only. Welcome to Boston.
I texted Stephanie. She said I would be ok to park there for a little while. She said she would be right down. When she arrived a few minutes later, I asked her to sit in the car to keep an eye on my stuff while I went to the corner across the street to the Thornton Restaurant because I had to make use of their facilities.
After I was relieved, we headed for Stephanie’s apartment in Medford, north of Boston. On the way, we stopped for lunch. We found a parking space on the street around the corner from Bob's Italian Food Restaurant. They specialize in takeout. It is located a few blocks from her apartment building. She ordered her usual sausage and meatball sub. I thought I would try their Italian sub, made with hard salami instead of the usual salami. After paying for the food we walked back to the car and drove to her apartment to enjoy our food.
After lunch, she packed for the trip to Maine and I rested. I wish I could say that the trip to Maine was as uneventful as a trip to Boston but it was not. It was more like the portion of the trip after I arrived in Beantown. Stephanie had just purchased a new car. It was new to her, at least. It is a 2012 metallic charcoal gray Subaru Imprezza. Halfway to Maine, one of the lights on the dash came on. It looks like an oil lamp so I pulled out the driver's manual that I found in the glove box. I read what that indicator might mean.
The first item I read was a little scary because it said that we should pull over because it was indicative of an oil pressure problem and we should pull over right away, turn off the engine and contact a Subaru dealer. I noticed a different indicator light that was similar but had a squiggly line under the oil lamp. I asked her if the light on the dash had the squiggly line. She said it did. I told her that was good. The instructions were not as scary. In this case, it meant that the oil was low and we needed to add some.
We were in New Hampshire at the time. I told her to take the next exit. We should pull off and find a place to buy oil. We found a strip mall that had a Target. We left the car in the parking lot and headed inside. We purchased some 5W20 oil we found in the automotive department. We also found a few other items for her car.
Back in the car, we discussed how the manual did not recommend using the type of synthetic oil we had purchased. We went back, returned it and bought some conventional oil that the manual indicated was okay to use. Stephanie had never changed oil or added oil to a car before so I showed her what to do and we poured in a half of a quart.
We resumed our journey. According to the manual, it could take as long as 15 minutes for the low oil indicator light to go off. Instead, the light went off within a few minutes and we felt much better because it reinforced the thought that the light meant that the oil level was low enough to activate a sensor and was not something more serious.
We arrived in Biddeford, Maine 2 hours after we left Medford. A normal trip without having to stop like we did should take an hour and a half.
Biddeford is town near the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM). Stephanie drove to the street where she is going to live to show me the building where her new apartment will be as of July of this year. It is a two-story white residential-looking structure with an optical business on the first floor and two apartments on the second.
After showing me her apartment building, she drove two blocks away to show me where the Hannaford grocery store is where she will do her grocery shopping.
We drove around a little after that and located a nearby Advance Auto Parts store. We went inside to see if there might be some items she could purchase for her vehicle. We saw some snow brushes, but I told her that she might be able to find a better price somewhere else. I also told her that she had six months before she would need to worry about snow. Before leaving Advance Auto Parts parking lot, we took some pictures of a hearse that was parked at an angle in the parking lot. The hearse had a vanity plate. The vanity plate read “BUH BYE”.
From there we located restaurants using the GPS search engine. That function listed several local restaurants. I read them to Stephanie while she drove. She recognized one that had been recommended to her.
I pressed the go icon next to Pizza by Alex. We found the restaurant to our left as the GPS voice said and parked in the lot next to the building.
Pizza by Alex specializes in one size pizza they call a personal pan pizza. It could feed two people. I ate more than I should have. I ordered pepperoni mushrooms and onions, the way I like it. The pizza was delicious. Stephanie ordered a whole bunch of stuff and spinach. There may even have been artichokes on that thing. I try not to think about it.
After dinner we drove to UNECOM. Stephanie had been there a month before to interview. We were visiting because she had been accepted as a student beginning in the fall. We were scheduled to attend an orientation program called “Osteoblast” the following day. Stephanie wanted to show me the places on campus where she had been before and had left her with positive memories.
The first thing she pointed out is the fact that the campus overlooks the Saco River that empties into the Atlantic Ocean. She told me how important being near water is to her and how glad she is that the campus is situated where it is.
Before that trip, I knew that the University of New England was somewhere in Maine. I found out on the trip that it is not too far north of the border between New Hampshire and Maine.
Stephanie found a place to park in one of the campus lots. We left the car and walked around the campus. At one point she led me toward the water in a wooded area toward the river behind some dormitory buildings. We stopped at the edge of a 12 to 15 foot drop. It was a beautiful time of the day to be there. The sun had just set. The Western sky was lit up with purples, oranges, yellows and reds.
From there we walked to a boat shaped shelter at Jordan Point that overlooked the river. We sat there and enjoyed the lights across the river and the shore as twilight have at to darkness. Three coeds sitting on a pile of rocks in front of us were acting like they thought there was no one around for miles until they noticed we were there. They gasped in embarrassment and climbed down to make their exit.
I thought it might be a good moment to enhance the experience with harmonica music. The Sailor’s Hornpipe seemed to fit the bill. After a few more tunes, we walked around the rest of the campus. Stephanie showed me some of the buildings that she had visited when she interviewed.
Following our impromptu tour of the campus, we drove to the Ramada in Saco, Maine. The setup of this place is strange. The best access to the place would be from the other direction from which we were driving. We missed the driveway on our first pass and drove around a bit. We needed my GPS device, Google Maps on my phone and her Waze app on her phone, combined to figure out the quickest way to get there. From one point, with the Ramada sign within eyesight, Waze prompted us to drive 15 minutes out of the way to approach the hotel from the other direction. After some discussion we decided, since we could see the hotel, that Google maps offered the best directions.
The circle at the top of the map above, shows the hotel and where we were when we decided to follow the Google maps directions. The circle at the bottom shows the entrance ramp to the interstate that the Waze directions would have taken us to approach the hotel from the other direction.
The circle near the Lund Road graphic on the map above shows the connecting road where the gate blocked our passage.
While checking in, the desk clerk explained how the highway department would not allow them to provide access to the highway side of the building from the direction we had come. That provided some logic to the fact that the connection between the road we took and the road from the other direction had been blocked by a closed gate.
There was a weird full-size cardboard cut-out of a strange magician in the lobby across from the desk that someone in the hotel chain must have decided would be a good branding idea. It was just creepy.
We were both very tired so we went up to the room and unpacked a bit. I put some things in the refrigerator in the room. Before we went to sleep, my wife called because I had texted her and we talked to her for a few minutes.
I had set the alarm for 6:15. I woke up before it sounded and showered. Stephanie took a shower next. Then we went down to the first floor for breakfast. I had packed up my stuff before breakfast.
Breakfast was scrambled eggs, bacon, orange juice and coffee. There was other food also.
After eating, we went over to creepy magician guy and I took a picture of Stephanie striking the same pose to send to my wife. I wasn't sure my description of its creepiness was enough.
We were ready to check out soon after we returned to the room.
After checking out of the Ramada, we drove to the UNECOM for orientation. Registration was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. in the Lobby of Decry Hall. The 112 students attending the orientation were split into two groups. There was a blue group and a yellow group. Stephanie was given a yellow name tag at registration. Registration was paired with a half hour for breakfast. There was not a lot to eat. There was fruit and baked goods on a table at the far end of the lobby.
Before visiting UNECOM, I knew little about what osteopathic medicine. As the day progressed, I learned more. I also learned more about the difference between a medical doctor and a doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. I even learned a term I had not heard before that refers to the type of Medicine practiced by an MD. They practice allopathic medicine. They focus on the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. A Do paired osteopathic medicine.
My education that day began when the program started after registration.
From the small lobby of the building, we were guided to Leonard Hall that is located in the same building. I learned that Leonard Hall was the location for many of the classes that Stephanie would attend in the fall and for the next four years. The room is interesting. It is the size of a rectangular gymnasium with three windows on each of the long sides. Each window has a room darkening shade. Above the window, recessed in the ceiling, is a retractable projector screen. There are retractable screens at the center of the short walls also. All of the projection screens were down. Images were being projected on them. It was easy to get a clear view of a nearby screen from any point in the room.
At the center of one of the long walls was a white board. The white board is used at times to project images onto the screens and also enable the instructor to draw on the white board which shows on the screens as part of the lecture.
When the program began, we heard from the associate dean of admissions. She introduced the dean of the college. He explained how the education process at UNECOM differs from schools that rely on lectures. Studies have revealed that the average time a student pays attention in a typical 55-minute lecture situation is 10 minutes. The approach at UNECOM is to form groups of 5 or 6 students each who work together for the whole semester or the whole year instead of attending lectures.
Next up, was the dean of curriculum or the Associate Dean for Academic Programs. Hers was a most engaging manner of presentation that was energized with humor, passion and emotion. She said that over 4,000 had applied for the class of 180. I did the math. The acceptance rate is 4.6%. She also said there would be more educational time than MD schools including osteopathic clinical skills that MD's are not taught.
After curriculum, two students presented an overview of what the first year would be like.
The emphasis will be on a case-based learning group (CBL) of 6 students. There will be a year-long anatomy course. They used the phrase Osteopathic Medical Knowledge (OMK) many times as well as Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM). The school promotes group thinking and collaborative work.
The next part of the program led us to a different building for the Opportunity Fair. It was set up in the gym. Tables were end to end around the perimeter and in the center for different groups and businesses that were associated with activities at the college. There was a dance group and an a cappella group, several local financial institutions and the global Health Group, to name a few.
After the opportunity fair, Stephanie was scheduled for lunch. Her chance to discuss financial aid with the Director of Financial Aid Operations coincided, so off we went to talk finances. We waited in a nearby room with a young lady named Emma from Maine who was also scheduled for the same time. She had been waiting there before we arrived so she went ahead of us.
After the financial aid meeting, we had 20 minutes for lunch. The food was in a different building. We had a chicken wrap and salad with fruit and spinach. There were several dressings for the salad and I chose Italian. I also grabbed a bottle of water. We sat at a table with one of the orientation leaders and a woman named Brooke. Brooke had worked at a blood bank and decided it wasn't for her. She was attending the orientation to help her make a decision about her future.
After lunch we attended the first part of a demonstration of how some classes are conducted at UNECOM. It was presented as the case of Ronald Weasley, a fictitious character from the Harry Potter series. The case was about a child who had asthma. It described how the groups of six learn about how to diagnose somebody with a given malady. The first part of the exercise took place back at Leonard Hall, where we had started out the day. First year volunteers marked on a white board while the incoming students reasoned through the diagnosis of the fictional malady.
Part 2 of the Ronald Weasley case was in another building. The demonstration took place in a lab that had exam tables lined up in rows. There were 40 to 50 tables throughout the room. At the center of one of the long walls, six or seven students in lab coats explained how the exercise works. It was a demonstration of how a doctor of osteopathic medicine would manipulate someone who had breathing problems to help them breathe easier.
Before demonstrating the manipulation, they showed everyone how, by placing hands on the back of a person, it was possible to assess whether there was a problem with their breathing based on the comparative rise and fall of one hand to the other.
The next scheduled event required me to part company with my daughter. Stephanie went to a medical school panel discussion. I attended the significant other and family panel discussion. The panel was comprised of students and parents and spouses who were discussing the expectations of what it is like to be related to somebody attending medical school.
The last event before the campus tour was back at Leonard Hall. It was a raffle. Stephanie had accumulated six or seven raffle tickets through the day. None of them were winners.
Following the raffle, we located one of the orientation leaders outside near one of the entrances to the building. She was gathering folks interested in a tour of the campus. Nicole was our guide. We learned that her mother was a DO and had given helpful advice to her daughter as she experienced medical school at UNECOM.
After the tour we drove to Jimmy the Greek's, a local restaurant where there was a COMmunity Mixer. COMmunity is spelled with a Capital COM for College of Osteopathic Medicine. The schedule of the day’s events had several examples of similar creative spelling to accent the school’s acronym. Another example is the COMpanion that is assigned to first year med students as a mentor of sorts. Their duties are more spirit guide than mentor, providing emotional support to help the first year student adjust to the demands of med school so they can avoid feeling as if they are doing it all alone.
At the Jimmy the Greek's mixer, the restaurant had set up a tray with vegetables and dill dip. There was also one with cheese and crackers. While we were next in line for the food, a guy came over and took away the cheese and crackers and the vegetables and dip, though there was more food left on them. We thought he would bring some back but he never did.
We ordered from the menu instead. I had garlic and parmesan chicken wings. Stephanie ordered fish tacos. Stephanie did not mingle as much as you would have wanted to. Instead, we sat at a table with a couple who are planning to be married on July 9th. The name on the guy 's “hello my name is” tag was Robert but he introduced himself as Bobby. His fiancé’s name is Mary Rose. Bobby was intense and focused. He was excited about the decision he had to make between Tufts University and UNECOM. Coming into the orientation he said he was ninety percent certain he would be attending Tufts. At the end of the day at the mixer, he said it was back to 50-50. I took that to mean he was as impressed with the school as was.
There was a woman at our table who had participated in the significant other and family panel discussion. Her name was Crystal. She is married to a doctor of osteopathic medicine. Her son is looking to enroll in the school.
We left Jimmy the Greek's at 6:30 and heading back to Medford. Back at Stephanie’s apartment, the exhaustion of the day overtook me. Stephanie checked the times for the events she had planned for the next day.
On Sunday morning, I woke up earlier than my alarm. I made some coffee. At 7:30 we decided to take my car to the diner for breakfast instead of the Imprezza. We took a few things and put them in the trunk so I would not have to take care of it later. As it turned out, that was a smart move.
We had breakfast at the Medford Square Diner. Stephanie looked up where the Penske Truck Rental location was, using her smart phone. It was on the same street as the diner and only 4 miles away. We drove there and I parked the car. Stephanie went inside with the woman who had just parked the van we would be using. She filled out the paperwork for rental.
From Ryder, we drove to my daughter’s apartment and put her mattress in the van. The concept of this endeavor was to exchange her mattress for a more comfortable one that her co-worker was leaving behind after he moved out of state.
We drove the van into Boston and parked in a driveway between two buildings, one of which was the apartment building where her co-worker, Ahmer lived. We were there to pick up several pieces of furniture and other items, in addition to the mattress, that he was not able to take with him on his move to Utah the following day. He introduced us to his friend Alyssa who was at his apartment helping.
It was a studio with a separate bath and kitchen area off the main room. There was a storage area also connected to the kitchen. We loaded the mattress and other items into the van and somehow managed to get everything to fit in the cargo area. The cars parked on both sides of the street made it a little tight pulling out of the driveway. It was fortunate that I was there to help guide her back onto the street.
Then we drove to Kwame’s apartment. Kwame is another co-worker who agreed to take some of the items that Ahmer was unable to ship to Utah. Once again we parked in the driveway between two buildings. Stephanie helped Kwame carry the frame, box spring and mattress up to his apartment. I stayed with the truck to take out the items that would not be making the trip back to Medford. Those items were strewn about in front of the apartment building when we drove away waiting for Kwame to bring them inside.
From Kwame’s we headed back to Stephanie’s apartment to unload the remaining items. We put the mattress inside the anti-allergenic cover. Stephanie set it in the frame that was still on the floor in her bedroom.
We drove the van back to Penske. It was too late to get the final paperwork because we arrived 45 minutes after the business closed. Stephanie found a parking spot at the rear of the building then deposited the key in the drop box.
I drove us back to her apartment in my car and loaded the remaining items I had brought for the trip. On the way home, I made a wrong turn in Boston. Traffic combined with confusing GPS directions cost me twenty minutes before I found my way. Perhaps this was appropriate and served as a bookend for the issue I experienced a few days earlier when I had arrived in Boston. Once I found my way back into the interstate, I experienced a smooth trip unencumbered by any further delays.