Let’s Break Some Stuff

 

Last week I went to Pumpkinfest up the street from where I living. I went with my wife, her young niece, and her mother. I expected a quaint family-fun-filled afternoon with little to keep me entertained. What I encountered was a high-fueled world of motorized legumes and high speed orange destruction that left me begging a 3-year-old to let me watch just one more pumpkin get fired through the side of a demolished pick-up.

I’ll keep it brief and let the pictures and captions do the story telling, but a little history first. Pumpkinfest (and Regatta) started within the decade and has grown steadily year-by-year. The pictures are from the second Sunday of the 10 day festival. While Sunday is the climax of the event, it does not include the “Pumpkin Parade” where dozens of 300+ lbs pumpkins are carted through town before the big events, and it most certainly does not include the last day’s “Pumpkin Drop” where giant pumpkins are smashed by dropping them from a height onto a car. Sounds cool,I would have liked to have seen it… but someone has to work in this town.

Enjoy the pictures.

-James

P.S. Click on the thumbnails to see the full pictures.

I Am Spent.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. Wedding, after wedding, after bachelor party, after wedding… I should be clear, I’ve had a freakin’ blast.

Did they know we were coming? - Oceanview Inn, Gloucester, MA

Each weekend has been so much fun. Friends that I sometimes see once in a year, I’ve seen 5 times this summer.  It has been so cool going to weddings on boats, to weddings at summer camps, and to parties in foreign countries, but come on. I’m tired.

I’m headed into the first weekend I’ll actually spend at the apartment I’ve been living in for 6 weeks. I am so excited for all the sleeping in I’ll do and the French Toast on the horizon. There’s an autumn festival up the street and a couple craft beer festivals going on around the state if we get restless around the studio apartment.

Anyways, Hobohealth has suffered from my social indulgence. Spammers, or more accurately spam bots (computer programs that register for websites and create general electronic-anarchy), have over-run the discussion boards and this blog has gone untended for far too long.

I’ve started working on a new forum for discussion, hopefully it’ll be up in the next couple weeks. While Hobohealth has headed in the direction of a blog, I’ve always thought the strength of it was natural, uninfluenced discussion between travelers and wanna-be-travelers. So, hang with us while we fix up our discussion board and continue to slowly, but steadily grow.

Other than Eric Gosselin, perpetual Traveler of the Month, there are few people I would drive with to Montreal for a 3-day bachelor party.

As we move forward, think of what you want to ask other travelers on our new forum, think of your best experiences as a traveler you’d like to share, be our Traveler of the Month, or even consider being a guest writer on this blog. Also, if you like to have input, the blog comments are up and running for your pleasure.

Well, gang, happy autumn. “They” say our foliage here will peak in 2-3 weeks. I’ll try to share some photos at that time and keep you entertained with witticisms until that point.

 

James

 

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Local Fare

Yup, this is why I choose to travel over picking a steady home with 2 labrador retrievers, a fenced in back yard, and 1.5 little rug rats. I’ve traded a steady job for 2 storage areas full of my stuff in 2 states that I don’t currently live or work in and a 300 sq ft apartment without a dresser.

Why? Permanent vacation and enjoying everything a new place has to offer.

While writing this blog I drank a Lobster Ale by Belfast Bay Brewing Co of Belfast, ME. It was delicious. Incidentally, I drank it out of a "Surf's Up - Hawaii" koozie, a nick knack from last summer's assignment.

I’m going to put myself through a 30 second drill. In the next thirty seconds I will type as many things as I can think of that I enjoy in each place I move to that are unique to each location: READY. SET. Let’s GO!

-Food
-Drink
-Runs
-Micro-brews
-Hikes
-Accents
-Customs
-History
-Scenic Views
-Nick Knacks

OK, so I started to run out of time when I came up with scenic views. That may be stretching it, but each part of the country does has it’s own look about it that is uniquely beautiful. After “scenic views” I looked out my window and saw a souvenir store full of nick knacks, I apologize. I would like to also acknowledge “micro-brews” is a subcategory of “drinks.” This does not bother me, and I stand by what I wrote on a 30 second clock.

In all seriousness, I love the variety. Talking with the locals, enjoying the local specialties, and absorbing a little bit of each location into who I am. This is what I think it’s all about.

Off Topic Travel

A quick update on my current life: The new assignment has been started, a 500 sq. ft. apartment has been found, and I’m absolutely loving the views of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

I started writing this blog entry in Augusta, Maine on generator power in the wake of Irene. I was surrounded by candles watching the movie “2012,” where (spoiler alert) the world ends… somehow fitting. I’ve moved on from that, out to the coast, where unlike landlocked Vermont, little effects were felt. But, Maine and the beautiful resort/retirement town of Boothbay Harbor are far away from what I’d like to write about tonight.

3 weeks ago, I honeymooned in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana was a town I knew little about before booking our trip. What we found there was nice, comfortable resorts plopped on the far East tip of a 3rd world country. Tourism, the Dominican Republic’s top grossing industry, is well respected by the locals and frequently offers the best and highest paying jobs. Compared to U.S. standards, pay is quite low and hours are very long, but the added benefit of decent housing and health insurance draws a large pool of applicants.

We enjoyed our time in Punta Cana, but had a wider variety of experiences  during our time outside the resort gates and city limits. I’ve placed a few pictures here that I think will tell a better story than I could write. Click on the thumbnails for fullsize images. Enjoy, I know we did.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Kate (my wife, also a traveling PT) and I planned to write daily on our search for traveling jobs over the next several days or at most a couple of weeks. That plan has been blown. Between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM today, our recruiter called and said there was a potential job, set up a phone interview, got 2 jobs lined up, and emailed the contract paperwork. WHAT!?!? Yesterday I was chewing my nails nervously about the difficulty of finding a job, and today I’m happily employed. Such is the life of a traveler.

Since I can no longer tell tales of traveler misfortune, I’ll stick with giving you some of the details of our current arrangement. I stick by my motto that I learn something new with each job search, and I hope this story can be educational for a new or experienced traveler;

-We found ourselves, last Tuesday (8/16/11), without any decent leads on a projected 8/22 start in Maine. We had been searching through our two “go-to” recruiters. We went into a more urgent mode and called up several of our past recruiters and started the process of reinstating our Massachusetts licences. The strategy was to expand the pool of jobs that were available to us. This did uncover a couple more opportunities that fell apart before we could even interview for the potential jobs.

-As the weekend passed, we knew we weren’t going to make our intended start date, but continued with daily check-ins to each of our recruiters. We interviewed with a couple jobs that weren’t in our ideal location, but would serve the purpose if we continued with poor availability of jobs.

-Today, we got lucky. One of our original recruiters reached a hospital in beautiful, scenic Boothbay Harbor, Maine right after the hospital’s current traveler gave his 2 week notice. We were notified of the position and scheduled with an afternoon phone interview. What we ended up with was two different positions with the same facility through our recruiter. One is your typical hospital-based travel position, one is a more crafty arrangement as a prn that is able to be cancelled should a full travel position arise in the area. A second travel position is more desirable due to the higher pay, tax breaks, and guaranteed 40 hours, but given our DESPERATE situation… we love it.

It’s interesting how this one has panned out. Not your typical travel assignment, but perfect timing for us. Sometimes it is all about timing – in this particular case, 0 jobs turned into 2 jobs in a 4 hour span – sometimes, that’s the way it goes. Fun sidenote, Kate and I both grew up visiting Booth Bay Harbor. As kids we each made annual visits to the same condo complex – wierd, right?

We’ll keep you updated over the next week as we search for housing, attempt to upgrade to a second full-time position, and get ready for a short 10.5 wk assignment.

Cheers and Merry Travels,

James

Flexibility

...but no travel PT jobs

Well, the honeymoon’s over.

No, really, we just got back from our honeymoon to my mother-in-law’s house with few immediate options for a new job. This is a first in my 5 years of traveling. I have never passed my start date without some sort of job lined up. But, I guess it’s all I can expect without having seriously put some attention towards finding an assignment until sometime last week. This time does seem different than others, though. There’s no immediate attractive job options on the horizon in the great state of Maine. One option to start 3 weeks from now has arisen, but I’d rather be working today.

So what do you do when the jobs you’re looking for are dried up? Well, we’re scrambling to get our Massachusetts’ licenses. For some reason the 20 short miles of New Hampshire between Maine and Massachusetts is blocking all the decent jobs from coming North. So, the current deal is that we are waitingfor our job updates and hoping to see our Massachusetts’ licenses materialize. Then, we can grab a couple jobs down there if nothing pops up here in the meantime.

I guess it’s not all that bad, having to be a little flexible this month is quite a fair trade for the many years of easy and fun traveling I’ve done. I need to get going, my margarita needs a refill and there’s some lobsters that need cooking. Ah, the way life should be and I’m sure there’s a couple jobs on the horizon.

Motivations

As travelers, why do we travel? Why do we choose the assignments we do? What are our motivations?

I think if you ask a bunch of travelers, you’ll get a bunch of answers. The obvious answer is to travel… duh. Some people do it to help pay off loans and choose their assignment based on the pay package. Sometimes it’s a transition to try out a new area of practice or new geography. Travel PT is an awesome oppoprtunity no matter the reason.

On this last assignment, my prioritiess were: 1. getting close to the location for our wedding for frequent weekend trips to prepare;  2. staying in outpatient practice; 3. and stocking away enough moolah to pay for the wedding.

Mission accomplished. While the area of Maine I’ve worked in over the past 3 months has offered a pretty difficult patient population (See “Disparity” 5/20/11), the job has been good. Good boss, good co-workers, good environment.

Which brings me to my next point. You can do anything for 13 weeks. Some assignments are good, some are bad, but usually it boils down to who you supervisor is. Essential travel PT tip of the day: On your interview, ask questions. On the assignments I haven’t liked, my asking a couple of obvious questions on my interview would have saved me a lot of trouble.

Anyways, I’m off to get married in Northern Maine this week. We’ll then travel to the Dominican Republic and Colorado before starting a new assignment. When we return, Hobohealth will undergo some long needed maintainance and we hope to make another surge to connect travlers to e

Forest Gump and a New Clinical Prediction Tool

Firts, let me first start with 2 (two) apologies:

1. I apologize for writing so sporadically. I’m getting married next month and promise to be more consistent in August.

We passed this couple while hiking on the N Shore of Kaua’i. She was wearing the same shirt as me from Jack Quinn’s Running Club who we used to run with in Colorado Springs.

2. Sorry the comments don’t work on the blog. In addition, if you click around, you’ll find the entire blog portion of this site acts funky. If you wondering why I haven’t fixed this already, please see apology number 1 (one).

On we go:

I do like running in different places. I especially like finding a body of water on vacation (lake, ocean, river, irrigation ditch) and running along side it. While running on assignment, I learn my way around the neighborhoods I live in and see interesting things along the way. On a recent wrong turn that took me 6 miles out of my way, I realized how quickly I could get into vast farmlands and have beautiful valley views (it didn’t seem so close on the way home). I also got an up close look at a roadkilled-porcupine. The porcupine was pretty interesting, but more than I had bargained for.

The last time I went running a small happening that I think most runners can identify with inspired the creation of a new predictive rule for the field of psychology. So, the moment you have all anticipate, my first independently developed objective measurement tool:

The Spencer Societal Startle Test (SSST)

The subject should be sent out for a casual walk on a public street. The investigator should dress as a recreational jogger and begin running from a distance behind the subject. As the investigator approaches the subject from the rear, a cough and foot shuffle should be performed at a distance of 20 ft to alert the subject of an approaching person. The investigator should continue to run alongside and past the subject.

Scoring: Score 1 (one) if the subject yells out audibly in surprise. Score 0 (null) if there is no audible reaction. A score of 1 indicates the subject will likely benefit from professional psycological intervention.

Clinicians interested in studying the SSST should note that it should be expected that the test will have strong specificity, but fairly poor sensitivity. Meaning, a high percentage of subjects who test positive under the SSST will benefit from psychological counseling, however, a negative score may not truley indicate that a subject would not benefit from psychological counseling.

Enjoy the open road…. some day I’ll write about this whole barefoot/forefoot running thing, it’s really been driving me nuts.

James

James R Spencer, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS

Current location: Skowhegan, ME

Disparity

We all know about the proven links between socio-economic status and health status, but I’m not sure we REALLY get it.

I finished an assignment in Aspen in late April and was working in rural Maine 7 days later. Aspen boasts the highest realestate prices in the country, Newport, Maine boast a truck stop that sells Fourloco. Making the quick move from a population of patients injured while using $100/day ski tickets to a population consisting primarily of Medicaid recipients whose back is prematurely deteriorating under their own weight has opened my eyes.

We have a huge problem that needs to be the focus of every future health care policy decision made in America. Prevention and early treatment are the answers to these people’s health problems and everyone’s pocket book. Many states’ indigent programs (Medicare as well) greatly restrict what services are covered. Frequently this means a person needs to have developed a problem and allowed it to progress to a more serious status before treatment will be covered. If the less foturnate have their early symptoms treated, they may avoid a more serious progression of their diseases, and we ALL will pay less.

For example: Medicare will not pay for a wheelchair pressure relieving seat cushion for a patient until they have a stage II ulcer (open wound). Rather than buying extra seat cushions early, we end up paying forcushions, the wound care for the ulcers, and a whole host of sequelae that result from the patient’s prolonged immobility. We’re talking TENS of THOUSANDS of dollars per patient. Prevention, people!

The other side of this issue is the lack of health care providers in the poorest of areas. Specialists have long wait times and patients get worse and worse while they wait to be seen. Again, early detection and complete treatment at the first signs of illness have the potential to unload the specialists and allow them to provide better service. Proper inital diagnosis by primary care physicians and treatment that they are appropriately reimbursed for will decrease the financial burden on us all.

I think you get the point. I’d like to say so much more but I’ve broken my own rule of keeping this blog brief. Feel free to comment for further discussion. Below is a related piece I heard on NPR yesterday, it really gets to the point.

NPR – Mississippi Losing the War With Obesity

Healthy travels,

James

James R Spencer, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS

Current assignment: Newport, ME

ROADTRIP!

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Ahhhhhh, the open road.

I’m just getting settled at my new assignment in Newport, Maine. We drove in from Aspen from Tuesday to Saturday where I had a full refresher course of the fine art of turning a 2,000+ mile drive into something enjoyable.

One thing I remembered to enjoy was those unexpected “life experiences”: As we approached our hotel outside of Chicago that we found on the AAA iPhone app, we found it several miles down a dark access road paralleling, but not accessing, the main interstate. As we got closer, we found it sandwiched between two, ahem, Gentlemen’s clubs. The following drama of finding our way safely back to the highway, finding a new hotel at 11 PM, and eventually settling in to our far more comfortable (and far less grimy) hotel was an adventure that while not enjoyable at the time is a unique experience that does not happen during most peoples’ commute.

That next morning, we were able to stop close to our hotel to check out Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This is the spontaneous touristing that falls in your lap. Our visit 45 minutes off the highway drive to the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown New York the next day is the other kind of touristing. While I’m talking about it, Cooperstown is definitely a pilgrimage worth taking for any baseball fan. I wish I had a few more hours there, a really cool place (except for all the Yankees fans 🙂 Aha! Go SOX!).

Road trips. I love ’em. In an occupation where the destination is definitely what it’s all about, this was a journey worth enjoying.

James R Spencer, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS

Current Location: Newport, ME