Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Harvard Impact

Not the best grades, I didn't go to all the talks I wanted to, I didn't take all the classes I wanted to, I didn't talk with professors as much as I should. So what exactly did Harvard do for me?

Three things at Harvard changed my life:
1. Response Papers
2. primary research literature
3. Harvard Track and Field

Response Papers, even though I didn't particularly enjoy them at first (such an understatement), taught me that what I think about something is important, and that when you read something, you shouldn't read it trying to understand what others think is important about it, but it is okay and good to read something and figure out what you think about it. I wish someone told me that this is how to really write papers and essays in general, I think it have made my life a lot easier, it was only until senior year when I figured this gem out. So simple, yet way more than I ever understood paper writing to be. I blame my frosh/soph HS teachers for throwing really deep books at us, without any historical or literary context and making us write crappy, shallow papers on them.

Primary research literature, my two research seminars taught me to appreciate the science of how we come to know what we consider to be knowledge and truth. I learned how knowledge builds, how we can be critical of what may be "true", and how every piece of evidence base in the scientific, political, and economic world can be analyzed and controversialized because the data is not foolproof, but is instead statistics, observations, and "significantly" with a margin of uncertainty. This impacts almost every piece of fact I am faced with on a daily basis, a political poll, a new scientific article, etc.

Harvard Track and Field taught me the most important lessons: how to deal with people. As a team leader I was constantly pulled in different directions, working with coaches, teammates, friends. Trying to give sound advice, trying to get the team in a positive direction; I learned that in being a leader, even just a team captain, your morals and values can be pressured to an extent I didn't realize at the time, and that these values are really what matter most and what you should base all your actions around. It is so easy to get caught up in things, but when you stick with your values, you stay grounded, happy, and optimistic. I realized that I like being a leader, I'm not a great leader yet, but I know it's something I want to become more effective at over time.

Feeling Rushed

Last fall I decided to postpone applying to medical school for a year, now 2, and the main reason for this was because I was afraid of never actually living life. I felt that if I didn't actually live life now, read books I've always wanted to read, ponder questions I've always put off pondering, learn about the things I've wanted to learn about, watch all the movies on my movie list, I would never actually do the things I wanted to o to cultivate the type of person I want to be. Now that I've made that decision, I still feel incredible rushed to "live life"-such a funny thing right? It's like I want to experience everything RIGHT NOW, I don't want to wait, I'm fascinated by so much and want to learn so much. It's an incredible feeling, almost joyous, to know that you know so gosh darn little and have the urge to know so much more. Ahhh,what a life worth living! :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Anything can happen GRADUALLY.

I was on a running through Doheney this afternoon with my dad and we were discussing how learning to surf is just something that takes time. (We had gone out earlier in the day and I had stood up a few times on the longboard, nothing amazing, but progress nonetheless) I mentioned how I was comfortable in the little waves but was definitely not ready for bigger waves yet and he said that it is something that just takes time and experience. Over time one of two things happen, you either get really excited and jump right into the bigger waves, or you get so bored from riding the little waves that you decide to step it up a notch.

The same principle of gradualism holds up in running as well. The first few days you get back into it, you may have to throw in some walks every 5-10minutes, maybe the first few weeks you are only running one mile or so, the next few months you feel comfortable running 3-5 miles at an easy pace, and then you start picking up the pace. No one should expect to be at their tip top form and speed in the first few weeks, it’s something that gradually happens, so gradual that you barely notice it.

This principle of gradualism is true for the environment, for relationships, for almost anything in life, I think the one place where it can really speak to is politics. My personal opinion of politics is it is symbolized by punctuated equilibrium, like evolution is, there are years and years of slow or hardly any progress, and then, when the cues are right, rapid change. However, when you throw the principle of punctuated equilibrium at the general public (those who’s world is driven by the principle of gradualism), it doesn’t go over so well. People don’t like “change”, it’s too fast, it’s unpredictable, it’s hard to understand and keep track of. People like things to happen over time, slow enough so they understand the impact etc.

This where I think that government officials and politicians could learn a real lesson, and I think it is especially important with the nations underlying issues with health care, quality, affordability, and coverage. I think we have to introduce the new ideas in a more gradual fashion to the American public, we can’t have national health insurance over night, it’s not going to happen, but we can start tuning people to the idea that America citizens deserve quality health care. This means ALL citizens, deserve equitable health care. I think we need to start giving real life examples of the difference between Person A with BlueCross, Person B with Kaiser, and Person C without insurance when it comes to something like discovering a malignant lump in your breast. I think if we use real life examples of the cost of care, the quality of care, and the impact on quality of life, we can frame the health care problems in a way that is understandable, and relatable for the American public. If we could sell the theme that in America, health care is not a privledge, but a right, then I think the political landscape could be a lot easier to deal with.

Inner Fire, thoughts that came up:
“It’s important to develop a sense that you are important because you exist”
Self worth.
What are my goals in life? Are there specific things I want to achieve? What is my passion in life? What do I live for everyday?

A happy person is a passionate person –Julia Pederson

Friday, September 7, 2007


Today I had the realization of the importance of storytelling in the field of medicine. If you're going to be a doctor, this means you are going to have to describe sophisticated, high level scientific jargon to lay people, you will have a time crunch, they will be scared and nervous, and you want to explain the situation in a manner that will allow the patient to make an educated, informed decision about their care if necessary. I am going to practice my storytelling more often now that I've had this thought!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Future

I've been impressed with a variety of individuals as of late, and I think one thing they all have in common is their ability to look towards THE FUTURE. Innovation is a very exciting part of life, we are are all born innovators, child development is like programmed human innovation, we're always reacting, learning and adjusting. However, I think the ability to look way ahead in the future, see what could be, or what is necessary at the end produce if you will, and then have the capability to break down that version into smaller attainable steps over a timeline is a TREMENDOUS talent, and I think that this quality is extremely impressive in people. To be able to grasp a concept, create it, play with it your mind, fully understand it, and then convince others to believe and invest in your idea and your time line, is so impressive. I think the health care industry needs to be looking to the future more, and as of yet, we don't have a leader that is able to innovate and get other people to invest effectively. I think my current example of someone who I think has a keen ability to understand the future of their industry is Steve Jobs, and I wish I could see in his head and understand what he thinks out communication, music, and video technology will look like in 20 years.

PT Reflections

Recently I've been playing a role in collecting memories, stories, and photos that people have of Paul to make a booklet to give to people at his Memorial Service on October 6th. I think it's been helpful for me to focus on the logistical aspect of emailing people and reminding them to send something in if they would like to contribute. I just read through a bunch of the submissions I've received so far, and it got me pretty worked up. I still can't believe he's dead, he's not here, I'll never see him again, it's still so shocking to me. Reading through other people's thoughts also makes me realize that even though Paul died young, he had an AMAZING impact on a lot of incredibly gifted and talented people. Here's what I submitted for the Tribute booklet:
I can say that Paul is the one person who has genuinely opened many doors for me in life, he recruited me to THE best school in the nation, he became close friends with my family, he was a kind and good-hearted coach, and he taught me to have a deep reverence for the sport of track and field. I think the biggest impact Paul had on me was his appreciation for the complexity of people’s lives. As a coach, it’s easy to demand people to conform to your reality, your time frame, and your wants and needs, but Paul never once did this. If you had to practice at 6am, he was there, if it was important to you to take a semester abroad, he had your back, if you had trouble running intervals after a late night writing papers, he adjusted the schedule to fit your needs. It may seem simple, but what Paul did on a regular basis was profound, it allowed him to form relationships with his athletes much deeper than the regular athlete-coach relationship, and also allowed his athletes to flourish at their sport. While there are many other ways that Paul influenced me, the type of understanding, appreciation and true respect for other people that Paul had is what I hope to guide me throughout the rest of my life.

Shaver Lake Horseback Riding

In July I drove out to Shaver Lake and met up with my family for a weekend. It was my first time seeing them since starting my job in San Francisco, and we had a great time. I went on a run with my dad, we kayaked in the lake, and here you can watch a video made about our horseback riding trip!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Here is a fun video of an unofficial UCSF Decision Services trip to the 2007 Pure Mendocino county organic food and wine festival event. All proceeds supported the Mendocino County Cancer Resource Center.


Happenings in SF

Presidio Main Post Parade Ground Lawn (between Graham St & Keyes
Ave, near Officer's Club & Visitor's Center)
Saturday, Sept 15, 7:30 PM Sunday, Sept 16, 2:30 PM
Saturday, Sept 22, 7:30 PM Sunday, Sept 23, 2:30 PM

The passes are available for 24 hr. check out at the Student Activity
Center, Millberry Union 108W. Must have your student ID to check out
the pass.


My TECH Wish List

On a more materialistic note, I've begun to make a list of items I would like to own to further my interest in photography and videography. My current digital camera is not cutting it for me, I run through AA batteries like they are an endangered species. The other problem with my photos is that my family has green eyes, and thus we all look like frightening demons in all our photos, only Ms. Adobe can conquer the demons in my life, iphoto makes us look like zombies, not much better.
In other tech news, I made my second movie ever last night (the first being the Amazing Race tape), and I was sad to see how my camera shots bounced around and gave me motion sickness. Which was great for the Blair Witch part, not so great for the other parts. Thus, I have created a Tech Wish List.

  • Digital Camera, minimum 8.0 megapixels, with continuous shooting capability. Right now my favorite is the Canon PowerShot 8.0-Megapixel Digital ELPH Camera
  • Tripod, must be portable & fit in a backpack, must be compatible with my digital camera and video camera
  • Adobe Photo Shop, newest version
  • Final Cut Pro 6, amazing video editing software
  • External Hard Drive, required to store all of these photos and videos I'm creating
  • iphone = INCREDIBLE Wish List

I recently created a Wish List of books I want to read. I like a large variety of books, fiction, nonfiction, biographies, mysteries, historical books, policy issues among other topics, so if you have any suggestions for MUST READS, please let me know! Half of the rationale behind creating this list was to keep my reading list updated and organized. This is also a big hint that any book on my Wish List would make a great present! wink wink!

My Wish List

Why Pura Vida?

Pura Vida is the national slogan of Costa Rica, which I visited two summers ago with my boyfriend. According to good old Wikipedia, Pura Vida, literally translates into "Pure Life" but contextually means something approximate to "Purified life". For Costa Ricans, Pura Vida is a philosophy that stresses the importance of "strong community, perseverance, good spirits, and enjoying life slowly and celebrating good fortune of magnitudes small and large alike." I think it's a good guiding principle for life and thus it is the name of my blog.



My name is Julia, I started this blog in 2007 after I graduated from college as a way to keep in touch with folks. I'm a California girl at heart, with wanderlust in my blood. You name it, I love exploring it. From small towns to big cities, national parks to small urban refuges. My favorite thing to do is to spend time outdoors, whether it's running, hiking, rollerblading, kayaking, birding, you name it!

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Enjoying a "Noreaster" in college