Monday, October 5, 2015

USMLE Step 1

How do you say it in Espanol? Si se puede? (Unrelated to the topic, but are this guy's eyebrows amazing?)

The workload is very nearly killing me, but it's killing most of my cohort mates even more than it is killing me. Most people who have survived up to this point (we've lost a total of six from our cohort since starting, which is, I've been told, lightly higher than the mean of students to have departed at this point) will ultimately make it through school, and the vast majority should past this exam, which is the first portion of the three-step United States Medical Licensing Exam, although my program has a much higher-than-average acceptance rate because it is a relatively selective program. scores on this test, in addition to allowing us to advance in our programs, will be weighed heavily in our gaining access to quality residence programs.

This is presumably the final exam I'll take in which what was learned in undergraduate studies -- science courses in particular -- would still be considered relevant. After this, what we learned as undergrads impacts our ability to master the new material, but said content no longer in and of itself will be needed.  I'm confident of my ability to master the new material; however, up to this point, my grasp of undergraduate science courses been a major advantage against my peers, and I'll lose some of that edge even though we're not theoretically a competitive program at this stage.

It doesn't help me in the least for anyone else to do poorly, but even if it did, failing this test is not something I would wish on anyone in my program. We've all worked too hard to be bounced now, although most people who fail will just put in another year and repeat a few courses, then take the exam again. A five-year program is actually recommended for most students, although the majority of us will not follow that recommendation unless we're forced to do so by non-passing scores.

Some of what we're hearing about in lecture will help us, but a whole lot of the subject matter covered on the test  is ancient history. Some people like to clear their brains of everything ever learned in a given course once they finish it, but the science portion of our undergrad studies is crucial to scoring well on this test. Fortunately for me, I couldn't forget what I've already learned even if I tried.

We'll take two more steps of this test after the once we're presently facing. The next one will be near the end of Year 4 of med school, and is a bear of a test, part of which will involve preliminarily diagnosing and writing up findings, including the ordering of tests,  for ten actors posing as patients. I fervently hope the actors they have are better than the ones here. I'll go to Los Angeles to take it, where out-of-work actors abound.  L.A. should have the cream of the crop in terms of actors unless all the actors are from L.A. and fly out to the respective sites. (There are a total of five testing sites in the nation for this portion of the exam.)

The final step of the USMLE is taken after the first year of residency. It determines who will be licensed to practice medicine.

We still have the usual tests in our classes, but then we have this behemoth hanging over our heads, as in we can do tremendously well on our work in class yet still be held back another year by a poor showing. The makers of this test claim it doesn't measure one's ability to take tests but actually measures one's knowledge of subject matter.  I  find that claim just a bit incredible, yet still I plan to show up for the test as well-prepared both in terms of knowledge of subject matter and in regard to test-taking skills as humanly possible. If it's so easy to eliminate test-taking skills from relevance in any test, why have other test makers not consulted the makers of this test to find ways of minimize the effects of test-taking skill in their own tests?

I suspect test-taking skill will always be relevant, yet not so much as to to allow anyone to past this test on test-taking skill alone. Still, I will hedge my bets by taking the Kaplan course in addition to the insane amount of studying hours I'm devoting to this cause.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Scientology, Kabbalah, Mormon Fundamentalism -- It's All Good

Can you picture me as one of these two beauts? 

It seems that in real life I use the words fiasco and debacle rather liberally, much in the way that some people are fond of saying "um," while others are partial to sprinkling their sentences with like in almost random places. I, of course, would never use any word randomly, but still, it's conceivable that I may have overused one or both words. I plan after studying tonight to scour online thesaurus sources for possible replacement terms.

One of my professors said out of the blue today before he started his lecture, "Alexis, in your world, which is worse, a debacle or a fiasco?" 

I paused to consider the question. "I really don't know," I answered. "I believe the two words are essentially synonymous." (For the record, I checked;  fiasco and debacle are about as synonymous as synonymous can be.)

"What criteria do you use for determining whether to describe one situation as a debacle and another as a fiasco?" he pressed.

I may be a bit slow, but I eventually figure it out when someone is having fun at my expense. "Divine inspiration," I answered him in my most deadpan voice. Lately I've been watching Parks and Rec when I have trouble sleeping.  I channeled my inner April Ludgate as I answered him.  "God tells me whether something is a fiasco or a debacle." I stared the professor down with an intensity that would have made Aubrey Plaza [the actress who portrays the April Ludgate character on Parks and Recreation] almost envious. I say almost  because I gravely doubt either the character or the actress who portrays her is capable of genuine envy.

The professor looked away before I did, which was a victory of sorts. I believe I freaked him out ever so slightly. Kal Penn whispered, "Way to stand up to him, Cutthroat Bitch," from the row behind me.  Cool Guy fist-bumped me from his seat diagonally in front of  me.  He's more double-jointed even than I am, which allows him to put his arms behind him at very odd angles to fist-bump anyone who says something especially salient.  When the professor looked my way again as  he began his lecture, I gave him the sweetest smile I could ever fake. He's lucky I didn't roll my eyes at him. I can roll them practically all the way back where nothing but white shows, and it looks like a medical emergency is taking place,  I don't do this very often, just as I don't intentionally dislocate my arm (both arms, actually) at the elbow, then put it back into place)  very often anymore, either, because it physically hurts to do either of those things. If a cause is ever sufficient, however, I will pull one of those tools from my arsenal of weapons.

My brother told me that after lecture, the professor asked him what my religion is. I found it mildly telling that the professor didn't ask what religion my brother and I are, but asked specifically what religion I am, almost as though he acknowledges that I would never blindly follow any religion thrust upon me by my parents or any other accident of birth.  I considered this a sign of respect even if it was not intended as such. Matthew lied and told the professor I had dabbled in both Scientology and Kabbalah, but found neither to be spiritually satisfactory, so I was working to build enough capital to start my own religion and tax shelter.  Matthew is reasonably certain the professor took him seriously. 

Incidentally, this professor has virtually nothing to do with assigning even the perfunctory pass/fail grades we receive officially for the first two years of med school, much less the real grades that are, I'm convinced, tracked behind the scenes.  I'm not sure I would have done anything differently even if the professor happened to be involved in grading us.  There are worse things than having the person who gives you a final grade be afraid that you might put some sort of a hex on him.

Meanwhile, I must complete my studies for the evening so that I may find suitable  synonyms for fiasco and debacle

P.S. I wish Matthew'd had the presence of mind to tell the professor that we both had either escaped or been kicked out of a polygamous cult. I suspect the professor knows who my dad is, but he also probably knows that my dad had past connections with Mormonism. Many people can't quite shake the idea that modern-day Mormons aren't one and the same as the Warren Jeffs branch of Latter-Day Saint fundamentalism.  Having the professor believe I'd been a child bride at the age of twelve might have given me some serious street cred.

Isn't she positively fabulous? 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Name Game, Part 17 (I've actually lost count)

The topic of naming one's children and the ignorance that sometimes happens in the process has come up numerous times in this blog. I must share with you one more instance of sheer idiocy involved in the naming of children. My Aunt Victoria's good friend has a sister-in-law (brother's wife) who is named Jamie, except that it's spelled spelled  Jammie.  Jammie has a twin sister named Janie, except that her name is spelled (you already guessed it, I'm sure) Jannie

Jannie had jury duty with my Aunt Victoria this week.  My aunt said that the jury commissioner  or whoever it is that calls out names (the one time I reported for jury duty, we checked in by handing to an employee slips of paper that had been attached to the summonses we had received in the mail, but the people who run this backwoods courtroom probably haven't even discovered computers yet and do everything the old-fashioned way, including an old-style role call to determine who among those who were called actually showed up) pronounced Jannie's name the way Jannie it should be pronounced phonetically, i.e. rhyming with Annie. According to my aunt, Jannie was furious and made it a point to approach the front desk from where the court employee was taking attendance  and to loudly correct the employee. Jannie said something to the effect of, "Can't you even read simple English?" to the court employee. 

The court employee was of Hispanic descent and apparently took Jannie's rebuke as a racial reference, which it may or may not have been intended to be. I haven't a clue as to Jannie's mentality when she said what she said. I just know that both she and her twin sister have been angry about their names being mispronounced for most of their lives. They're equally fired up when the names are misspelled.  My aunt says the sister-in-law of Jammie (my aunt's friend) has tried to explain to Jammie more than once that a word containing a vowel followed by two consonants, particularly when the word contains a double consonant, is pronounced with a short vowel sound. My aunt's friend didn't know if Jammie  thought she (my aunt's friend) didn't know what she was talking about or if Jammie simply could not grasp the underlying phonetic concept.

Things apparently got a bit testy in the jury selection waiting room at that point. A bailiff or deputy sheriff or someone wearing a uniform and badge, anyway, stepped in and told both women to calm down and asked Jannie to take her seat, which she did after briefly mean-mugging the court employee who had mispronounced her name. When roughly half the group was called to enter a courtroom, the uniformed employee with a badge accompanied the group. He approached the court clerk and spoke with her in hushed tones  as he pointed at a paper the clerk had in front of her. My aunt has a relatively keen sense of hearing, and she said the uniformed guy was telling the clerk that Jannie's name was pronounced /ja-nie/, not /jan-nie/ and that the woman would become very huffy if her name happened to be mispronounced. The court clerk's response was essentially, "Whatever."

In that particular courtroom, they had a little metal machine like one of those things used in bingo games. The metal bingo machine contained numbers -- not B10 or G 56, but presumably a number to represent each potential juror. The second number drawn, followed by the court clerk's checking of the list in front of her and calling of the potential juror's name, was Jannie's. The court clerk giggled, my aunt said, as she correctly pronounced Jannie's name. Jannie gave her a mild glare, my aunt said, as she took her place in the box, presumably because Jannie perceived (correctly in this case) that she was being made fun of.

Once potential jurors and two alternates had been seated, the voir dire process began. Each juror was asked by the judge to introduce himself or herself and to tell what his or her occupation was and where he or she was employed, along with the same information about his or her spouse of he or she had one. The judge asked each potential juror if there was an inherent reason the juror could not make a fair and unbiased decision concerning the case, which was a misdemeanor criminal case involving the theft of hogs if memory serves me  correctly. The judge referred to Jannie as "Mrs. Baumgartner" or something very similar. I obviously should not use her actual surname  here if I don't wish to be sued. I would prevail in such a lawsuit, as everything I'm writing is either objective fact stated truthfully or a matter of opinion. There's no libel here, but that doesn't necessarily stop a person from filing a suit against another, and I don't have time now or in the near future to defend myself against idiots. 

As voir dire proceeded, the state's attorney also addressed the woman as "Mrs. Baumgartner." When it was the public defender's initial opportunity to question jurors, it was apparent that she had not gotten the memo that the rest of them had read. She addressed Mrs. Baumgartner as "Jannie Baumgartner," rhyming "Jannie" with "Annie."  Jannie was predictably not pleased, and corrected the defense attorney, though not going so far as to ask her if she knew how to read simple English in this case. The public defender apologized and pronounced the name as Jannie had said it. Muffled laughter was heard from among the potential jurors, all of whom had previously witnessed the earlier confrontation between Jannie and the court employee in the jury selection waiting room.

Attorneys approached the bench and consulted with the judge, after which he excused two jurors presumably for cause, thanking them for their service. Two more jurors were called up through the process, who gave their basic info to the judge, told him they had no inherent biases related to the case, and were questioned by both attorneys.

Then the peremptory challenge phase began. The prosecutor excused Juror #9. Another number was drawn, the list was consulted, and the next juror was called and took his seat. He gave his basic bio to the judge, then tried to convince the judge that he couldn't be fair in this case because he had been a member of FFA in high school and had once raised a goat. The judge didn't buy his reason for his supposed bias and gave both sides had the opportunity to question the man. Next was the defense's turn for a peremptory challenge. She used her first challenge to dismiss Juror #2, who was Jannie.

As Jannie was walking down the center aisle of then courtroom, Aunt Victoria  tried to hide her face behind a book she had brought along, but her effort was futile, and Jannie recognized her. Jannie loudly said, "Well, hi  there, Vicky! I didn't even see you here today." she paused. My aunt said she felt her own face growing hot. Having other people know that this idiot even knew her by name was, in and of itself, sufficient cause for embarrassment for my aunt.

The judge said, "Mrs. Baumgartner, you're excused. You may leave now."

Jannie turned and looked at him, then turned back to my aunt. "Well, I guess that's one way to get out of jury duty," Jannie concluded as she finally walked out the door.

My aunt Victoria felt for some reason that she needed to explain herself, so she pleaded,  "I don't even know that woman. Seriously."  The bailiff commanded those inhabiting the courtroom to be quiet as the room erupted in laughter. The judge tried to say something to my aunt, but then put his head down because he could not stifle his own laughter. He put his hand over his face. Then the judge composed himself and said, "I don't care. It doesn't matter," to my aunt.

The jury was seated without my aunt ever being called into the box, so that story is history, and I'll presumably never know whether or not the defendant was convicted of hog theft unless my Uncle Ralph happens to read about it in the newspaper. I need to remember to ask him about it, because the trial is probably already over. Still, that's not the important thing here.

There are two points to this. One point is that there should be some sort of qualification process in place before a person is allowed to name a child and to decide how that child's name is spelled or, for that matter, even to create a child.  It wasn't Jannie or Jammie's fault that their names were spelled stupidly -- blame for that belongs squarely on the backs of their parents --  although if either one possessed any sign of intelligence whatsoever, they would probably comprehend just why it is that their names are consistently pronounced as they are.

Point Number Two is that intelligence or lack of it is obviously hereditary.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

People Against the Ethical Treatment of Animals

This message is not necessarily sanctioned by the People Against the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

I kid you not about this. Until I educated him as to the truth of the matter earlier this evening, my brother honest-to-God believed that PETA stood for "People AGAINST The Ethical Treatment of Animals."  I'm not making this up. It's what Matthew genuinely thought.A friend of mind would be happy to know that I did NOT roll my eyes when Matthew earlier this  evening shared his wisdom with me.  

I'm working hard on trying not to roll my eyes even at the most sub-imbecilic  things that are shared with me or said or done in front of me. It's damn hard, as I think I've been rolling my eyes at idiocy for as long as I can remember. I was in the hospital when someone told me to stop doing it. Of course, being in the hospital at the time the person said it, it was not even close to possible for me to cease and desist with eye rolling on the spot. I suspect the gesture of rolling one's eyes was originally invented by a hospital patient.

But seriously, can you effing believe it? "People Against the Ethical Treatment of Animals"? And this guy is going to be practicing medicine in just a very few short years. He is good looking if the number of girls  see hanging all over him every chance they get is any indication of his sex appeal..Maybe he can get one of those Dr. Oz-like jobs on TV or something of that nature/

Eye Rolling and The New Year's Resolution

a mannerism I must eradicate, which is mildly unfortunate, as I'm quite good - possibly even the queen --  of it

I'm home now, but my body has yet to adjust itself to the idea of getting into bed at night and actually sleeping, as opposed to be woken up for one thing or another all night long and then all day the following day and so forth. So I'm still wide awake and now engaging in frivolity, or alleged frivolity anyway,  since I've spent the past ten hours reviewing lectures and lecture notes.

I'm home now, though, and my new goal in life is to stop rolling my eyes no matter how eye-roll-provoking the impetus may be. My brother just told me something so incredibly stupid that it to every kilogram of self-control I could garner in order to force my  eyeballs to remain focused and looking directly ahead  versus upward and ever so slightly to my right. I said I would stop rolling my eyes, and I stopped. I didn't get a jar so I could put a dollar into it each time I rolled my eyes,and I'm not going to do ten push-ups for each eye roll (which I could very easily do, I might add; I kick @$$ when it comes to doing push-ups), or I'm not going to hit myself in the face with one of those kinky leather cords with which  Opus Dei Catholics  torture themselves either when they believe they'e sinned or whenever else God inspires them to hit themselves, 

Such actions are lame. (Push-ups aren't lame in and of themselves. Do them for your overall fitness; not to torture oneself for bad behavior as if it's some sort of game.) If you are guilty of a behavior that is inappropriate or otherwise unbecoming, one should simply stop doing whatever it is that one is doing that is wrong according to society's conventions.  I'm well aware that I'm using one of Ann Romney's campaign speech lines, but I dgaf.

Likewise New Year's Resolutions are incredibly stupid. For what reason would a person wait for some arbitrary day to start or to stop doing something one should or should not do? Why not resolve the very same thing on Groundhog Day or on Tom Hanks' birthday, whenever the hell it might be? What if doctors or bank tellers or trash collectors operated according to the principle of The New Year's Resolution? 

Need your appendix removed? Your doctor's New Year's Resolution is to remove your appendix, so you'll just have to wait until then to have it removed; if it ruptures and your entire gut turns gangrenous and you die, it doesn't really matter because your doctor is keeping his New Year's Resolution. 

Do you need cash and your ATM card is not working? Get it from a bank teller, but wait until January 1, because it is your bank teller's New Year's Resolution to give you your money that you have deposited. Unfortunately for you, you're screwed, as no bank in the Western hemisphere is open on January 1, so it may be one  resolution your bank teller cannot keep. Not everyone keeps their New Year's resolutions, you know. 

Your trash bin is full, and trash is starting to pile up along the streets of your neighborhood. Your trash collector's New Year's Resolution is to pick up your garbage. Ooops. That, too, might be just a bit of a problem for you, as a sanitation worker is even less likely to be working on January 1 than your bank teller is, and such is the case even if your city contracts privately with a company for trash collection services as opposed to maintaining its own  sanitation department. You're screwed for certain either way.

So now you clearly should  comprehend the sheer futility of the concept of The New Year's Resolution. Next I shall tell you the stupid thing my brother told me that very nearly caused me to roll my eyes.

Fairly Odd Science Projects

This is apparently how mating chickens look when its done heterosexually. I deeply regret that I never snapped a shot of Maggie Lou in action. My cell phone didn't even have  a camera back then.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last! (with apologies to the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King). The hospital has sprung me with the understanding that I need to stay in my condo until Monday. Now, onto more pressing matters . . .

My friend Megan, with whom I grew up from the time I was nine until we finished high school, and with whom I'm still in regular contact, lived with her family in a home on the very edge of our town's city limits. In fact, while their home itself was in the city limits, the majority of their rather large back yard was not within our incorporated city, and was therefore exempt from city regulations controlling the possession of farm animals. The family owned a few horses, a donkey, several hens and sometimes a rooster, a couple of sheep or pigs from time to time depending upon what kid in the family had what project for 4-H or FFA, and Megan's mother raised calves. It's apparently common practice to separate calves from their mothers when they're a day or so old. Various individuals around the dairy farming community --  often stay-at-home wives supplementing their family income -- sort of "foster parent" these calves until the calves are old enough to not need to drink milk any longer and can eat grass and hay and whatever else it is cows are supposed to eat. (I read somewhere that corn really isn't great for cows, but I cannot vouch for the accuracy of that bit of information; I need to ask my Godfather, Uncle Ralph.)

Megan was less involved with any of the farm animals on the premises than were her three siblings. 4-H and FFA were not her cup of tea. She was more into playing her flute and competing as a member of  academic decathlon teams , mock trials, math Olympics, and other academic pursuits. We rode her horses on rare occasions, though riding horses was pretty far beyond my comfort zone. My Uncle Ralph had a horse I trusted not to take off at breakneck speed with me on its back.

I had no such confidence in any of those horses Megan's family owned. I suspect every damned one of the family's horses  was trained by either Evel Knievel himself or one of his protegees.One of the tamer horses once jumped a fence that separated the horse pasture from the tennis court  and ran with Megan's older brother on its bare back, clinging to its mane for dear life,  through the streets of our town until the horse finally deposited her brother onto the steps of the First Baptist Church. The horse continued its run through the town and onto the university campus, terrifying bicyclists and narrowly avoiding multiple auto accidents, until it finally found its way home and jumped back into the pasture. After that adventure, Megan's dad had all fences  surrounding the horse pasture extended two feet higher than they had previously been. And please keep in mind that Megan's brother was actually at least moderately skilled in western riding techniques, as opposed to someone like me, who was more suited to riding a carousel horse than one that actually lived and breathed.

I like horses -- love them, even. I think they're beautiful, majestic animals. I never miss one of the televised triple crown events.  I just don't particularly want to ride them. Horses and I have reached a tenuous understanding. I agree not to climb on their backs as long as they promise not to climb on mine. Megan's father could never understand my complete ineptitude where equestrian skills were concerned. "You were practically an elite gymnast!" he exclaimed. "You should have great balance on a horse."

I just shrugged because I didn't know what to tell him. I totally sucked at riding horses and had no great explanation for it. I learned many years later in a motor learning class that riding a horse requires a motor skill known as waist differentiation, which is similar in a way to balance, yet is its own separate skill. In any event, I may have great balance, but I possess poorer-than-average waist differentiation. An additional factor was that none of the gymnastics apparati that I used had minds or wills of their own. There wasn't the slightest chance that the balance beam would race out of the gym with me on it and run through the town until it found the steps of some church on which to drop me.  With Megan's family's best-trained horses, there was a better-than- average chance that even a skilled rider was not going to end up at his or her intended designation riding one of those beasts.

I mentioned that Megan's family also kept chickens, mostly for the fresh eggs. Every now and then they would allow a rooster to mature so that the occasional egg would be fertilized and the herd (I don't think groups of chickens are properly referred to as herds, but that's what I'm calling Megan's family's chickens) would be perpetuated, but mostly they wanted hens to lay fresh eggs. Someone took the vast majority of  the little male chicks away and we never gave any thought to their probably not very happy fates. 

Anyway, there was generally only one rooster around at a time if there were any at all. What they did have, on the other hand, was a hen who thought she was a rooster and very much behaved the part. She would attempt to mount the other hens and have her way with them as they awkwardly flew about the coop in effort to avoid her. The hen who wanted to be a rooster (Maggie Lou; Megan's mother named all of her chickens) was our introduction to gender  identity issues, homosexuality, and the like. Megan's father would not have been caught near a church if they'd been giving out free horses trained by Evel Knievel or his protegees, but Megan's mother and the children faithfully attended the First Baptist Church, where homosexuality was believed to be a cardinal sin, or at least a major one. (I don't think First Baptists have cardinal sins.)  

This presented a bit of a dilemma in Megan's family, as how could homosexuality always be a choice if a chicken had found that lifestyle?  Everyone knows that chickens are inherently stupid animals even as birds go. If you've ever had a college course where you had to train a chicken, you understand the meaning of the word frustration. Chickens have very small brains and are not capable of the thought processes required to decide whether to pursue a heterosexual lifestyle or an alternative one.

The main reason Megan's mom kept Maggie Lou around as opposed to frying her for Sunday dinner was that she was a great egg producer but didn't have much in the way of maternal instinct and didn't sit on her eggs, so it was really easy to collect them each day.

It was my idea that we could turn Maggie Lou into a project for our biology class. Megan's dad thought we should simply videotape Maggie Lou doing her thing, but I felt that a video lacked the dramatic effect we needed to achieve a maximum score on the project. Our classmates and teacher needed to see  with their own eyes a live performance of Maggie Lou attempting  coitus with a few of the other hens.

One morning we loaded up Maggie Lou and three of the least passive hens --  Little Lotta, Jeannette, and Ellie May --  into chicken cages. Megan's older brother drove us to school in her pick-up truck and helped us to carry the chickens to our biology classroom. Our teacher, while not the worst excuse for an educator that  I've ever endured, would have preferred that everything we learned about science be accomplished with science books, writing utensils, and paper. He wasn't a hands-on sort of teacher who got off on mixing liquid from different beakers together and heating  the mixture up until it exploded, or even on dissecting fetal pigs. Live chickens in his classroom for a day was something that wasn't in his lesson plans, and he always followed his lesson plans to the letter. Yet we certainly couldn't carry them from class to class, and he was the one who okayed the project in writing -- we had his signature right there on the proposal -- even if he hadn't actually bothered to read just what it was that he was agreeing to before he signed it.

Megan, Claire (who was also involved) and I left the chickens in our biology teacher's classroom against the loud protests of Mr. Zweichert. When we came back nearly two hours later for the next period (we were on a modified block schedule) the chickens had been moved into the hallway. Zweichert claimed someone in his earlier class had been allergic. I'm highly skeptical of his claim, as the kids in the earlier class said that Zweichert was developing some sort of nervous tic, and his face twitched every time one of the chickens squawked.

Mr. Zweichert decided our project should be first so he could be over and done with the damned chickens. Claire read our hypothesis, which was a wordy explanation that gender attraction is not in all cases a choice or likely even learned behavior. (No roosters had been on the premises in Maggie Lou's brief lifetime.) Remember that this was long before the days of  Caitlyn Jenner or probably even Chastity  (Chaz, isn't it now) Bono, so Claire's proposal caused a few gasps and giggles even in the major high school of our relatively educated university town.  We were breaking new ground here.

I let the conventional hens out of their cages. They mostly just quietly walked around the classroom exploring their surroundings. Then Megan freed Maggie Lou from her cage. She first went after Ellie May, who flew to the top of a lab table where three girls were seated  in effort to avoid Maggie Lou's advances. The girls screamed, as did two other girls at an adjacent lab table. (I don't know why we even bothered with the pretense of  lab tables. We never did one single thing resembling a laboratory procedure all year.) Then Little Lotta caught Maggie Lou's attention. When Maggie Lou attempted to put the moves on Little Lotta, Little Lotta sort of flew/hopped onto the teacher's lb table at the front of the classroom. I've never seen a man so afraid of two chickens - and these weren't even those fighting roosters you read about than exist in the farming communities of the San Joaquin valley where lost of Mexican-American immigrants live. They were just plain old hens, albeit one with allegedly a bit more testosterone than the other two. Zweichert screamed and ran out of the room, and the entire class followed except for Claire, Megan, and me. Just before we could round her up, Maggie Lou took a giant crap on Zweichert's grade book. Megan's brother drove the hens home during his lunch break. He compensated himself for the effort by not coming back to school for the final period of the day. i'm not sure what he told his mother. attendance policies were pretty lax back in the day.

Zweichert didn't give us the 100% we expected on our project. Our written portion received full credit, but he said that he had to deduct point for the mayhem we had created. I argued unsuccessfully that a few screaming girls and one cluster of chicken poop on a grade book did not equal mayhem, but Zweichert was not swayed. Fortunately, everything else we did for a grade in that class was based on books, paper, and writing utensils, so I still ended up with the highest grade in the class.

I would tell you about the experiment two years later in physiology where we fed equivalent doses of Immodium and Exlax to one of Megan's mom's calves to see which drug was the stronger of the two, but someone would probably report me to PETA and my blog would be permanently shut down.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Segue to Better topics; I can blog but can't do much else

I came across a recent article alleging that this picture epitomized not jubilation, romance, or anything positive, but , rather, sexual assault. I'm glad the event took place during  society's more innocent times.

Those of you who took the time either here or elsewhere to comment left many delightful replies. I'll somewhat address most of them (all of them if I don't go Alzheimer's on you) in this blog as opposed to leaving multiple responses. I apologize if I miss anything, but please know both that A) I appreciate the time you left in responding; and B) I've both read and thoroughly enjoyed each response.  I also recognize that, while we all like to be appreciated for our efforts, I'm not the center of everyone's universe, and should I fail to reference anyone's reply somewhere in one of my rather verbose blogs, for most of you, life as you currently know it will go on, and you will not slit your wrists or overdose on hydrocodone or Xanax or Exlax.

[Incidentally, I wouldn't recommend Exlax for that purpose. While I would willingly spend all day and night if necessary (even skipping a test and taking the zero if there were no other way; that's how important YOU are) using my limited counseling skills to attempt to dissuade anyone from making the grand exit before a person's medical condition has made the decision a non-decision, even my limited medical knowledge allows me to know that Exlax is not the method one should use if one is determined that suicide is the only answer.]  Actually, I suppose I should tell the person contemplating suicide to go ahead and use Exlax, because the chance of it being successful for that purpose unless one is in a place where he or she will not be found for days is  virtually nil unless one has appendicitis or a severely obstructed bowel. So yes, go ahead with Exlax if you're thinking of ending it all. Take the whole box. [Good luck in getting an entire box down, as it is roughly as tasty as the human by-product it induces]. Then someone a bit more qualified than I will see you in the E.R, where you'll feel miserable and need lots of rehydration, anti-nausea meds,  and probably some Fentanyl for the cramping, but you'll probably live to tell of the ordeal. Also, remind me to tell you of my ninth-grade science project involving Exlax and Immodium.] (If, God forbid I've underestimated your state of mental health and/or my relative importance in your world, please contact me or someone who knows more than I RIGHT AWAY so that someone can assist you you in gaining access to competent emergency mental health expertise immediately; I'm usually being snarky, but right now I'm not. If you need genuine help, please allow someone to help you to get it.)

First and foremost, no one said anything (Becca commented the first time I used it many times ago; I'll probably keep using the picture over and over in the future at least as many times as I've used in in the past) but isn't that picture of Pee Wee Herman peering out at viewers through the inside of an anal orifice not one of the most utterly delightful discoveries since someone came up with all the fake UFOs in Area One? (I have a relative of a relative who's a certified Ufologist - his certification is probably about as legit as Knotty's dear friend's is in a different domain, but that's a subject for another day's blog. And, by the way, if you're a bona fide Ufologist, let me know and I'll drop the subject and not bring it up again; I don't desire to hurt anyone's feelings.)  

The Pee Wee Herman photo obviously cannot compete in terms of sheer dramatic effect with the horrific photo of little nine-year-old Kim Phuc running down a small Vietnamese village stark naked after having been struck by U.S. forces with napalm.  I don't really think any picture comes close to competing with that one, other than, in a slightly less dramatic yet more poignant way,  perhaps that of of the Oklahoma City first responder carrying the still-living body of the tiny child, whose name we would later learn was Bailey,  who ultimately and unfortunately did not survive Tim McVeigh's attack. 

Segueing to a less depressing genre, the Pee Wee Herman photo lacks the spontaneity of the emblematic picture of the  random sailor in Times Square grabbing and kissing the first woman he saw upon learning that Harry Truman had just announced Japan's surrender and the end of World War II. That is, of course, unless, Pee Wee spontaneously came across the plastic over-sized anal orifice, and his tongue-wagging gesture was one of pure spontaneity, in which case I take back everything I previously said about that European soldier's photo displaying more pure un-staged and impromptu joie de vivre. If such is the case, Pee Wee wins hands-down.  

More likely, though, the genius in the Pee Wee Herman/colonic end photographic effort was a combination of the work of an incredibly talented prop master, a gifted photographer, and Pee Wee [Paul Reubens] himself, who, alleged moral turpitude aside, had the ability to take what might have been for anyone else a run-of-the-mill photo op and turn it into a work for the ages.

Enough for now about Pee Wee and larger-than-life acrylic anuses . . . we'll move on to new but not necessarily more salient topics.