Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's My Brother's Party and I'll Cry If I Want To

This is essentially what my Godchild's sister (also my Godchild) looked like during most of the party except that her hair still looks as though it was painted on like a newborn doll's hair.

Today was my Godchild's first birthday. I showed up at his party about two hours before its scheduled start as I was asked to in order to help with setting things up. I helped with tables and chairs, tying balloons in strategic places, and similar rocket-science calibre tasks. afterward, I helped with the clean-up. I'm a dutiful Godparent. The main duties are to provide gifts for every occasion and to help with stuff such as birthday parties. Today I fulfilled both requirements.

The birthday boy was in perfect form. He didn't cry a single time until almost an hour after the party was over when one of his cousins pulled his hair. I felt like decking the brat who attacked him but I don't usually engage in hand-to hand combat with two-year-olds. Little does the hair-puller know that Andrew will be both bigger and smarter than she is within a year and will be more than able to hold his own if she chooses to continue her aggressive ways. For Christmas I may get him a karate suit and pay for his first year of karate lessons so that he can defend himself at family events. Do they allow one-year-olds in karate classes? He's quite mature as one-year-olds go.

Andrew's little sister, on the other hand (it's not a typo; he really does already have a little sister even though he's barely a year old; his parents have white trash ways), cried more than enough to make up for every kid there who wasn't crying. She's three-and-one-half months old, though she was born about six weeks early so she's still pretty small for her age. She screamed bloody murder pretty much anytime she noticed someone other than her mother or father or nanny (or I) was looking at her. She knows my voice from skyping so I was allowed to hold her and she didn't cry when I looked at her. I almost felt honored. My dad said she has my disposition. I don't think it was intended as a compliment.

One of my aunts who was there illustrated perfectly why some old people should not dabble in technology. She took up violin this year at the age of fifty-something, and she plans to purchase a new violin soon. She apparently put several violins in her  shopping cart simply for the purpose of remembering what models she saw online and liked. She seems not to have discovered Amazon's "Wish List" feature. I told her about a particular brand of rosin that I use and like, so she used her phone to order it from Amazon. Instead of using Amazon's one-click feature, she put the rosin in her shopping cart -- with approximately thirteen violins -- and when she clicked "Proceed to Checkout" and "Place Your Order," she ordered over twenty-three thousand dollars worth of merchandise. Fortunately for her and/or her husband and for her offspring, who would like to inherit at least enough to bury their parents someday, she checked her order a few minutes later to see when the rosin was scheduled to arrive, and she noticed that thirteen or so violins plus miscellaneous violin paraphernalia [that she found interesting and wanted to consider buying later but was too lame to use the "Wish List" feature] also scheduled to arrive in the next week or so. She very nearly had a seizure. My Aunt Jillian's  brother spent the next fifteen minutes cancelling all her purchases for her.

Notice to Old People:   There are still things called stores in most places. You can buy stuff there. You don't have to risk bankrupting yourselves by accidentally ordering twenty-three thousand dollars worth of violins and associated paraphernalia when almost anything you would ever want can be found in stores.

Friday, October 30, 2015

English Usage, Choice of Words, Phoniness, and Returning Home

I took an online quiz that purported (NOT purposed, as a Duggar would say) to discern my age by the way I supposedly speak. The closest approximation of how a person talks that could be gleaned from such a source would probably be accomplished by allowing some search engine to scan one's twitter account or some similar source. There are obviously flaws in such a method, as how one speaks and how one writes, even for twitter, are often quite different. In my particular case, my writing doesn't differ from my manner of speech in a dramatic fashion except for the noticeable lack of typographical errors in my oral communications. In written communications that matter, such as in written assignments for school, emails to professors and advisors, and in similar missives, I proofread before I send. In my blog and in tweets, I sometimes figuratively tell typographical accuracy and the usage police who point out errors in such to go to hell. 

What the quiz did was to take the answers I gave regarding which words from a highly finite  selection I would use and to make a generalization based on my self-report. I was relatively honest, or at least as honest as I could be when, in most cases, none of the choices offered were words I would actually use. I was forced to choose in most case between trite words and phrases and to designate which were least offensive to my ears. 

In some cases people would give false answers either to sound more educated or, I suspect, in  truly sad cases. to sound younger than they actually are. I don't think anyone I would count among my friends, no matter what his or her age might be, could be justly accused of such a thing.

All of this notwithstanding, the computer-generated scorer of the quiz guessed my age at twenty-five. I'm comfortable with that. I do not need a computer to tell me that I'm younger than my chronological age.

I'm home for the very first time since starting school in late August. I chose this weekend to return home because A) it's my Godchild's birthday and B) my uncle chartered a private plane for his son to fly home and back, so I rode along for free. My bed i my condo at school is equally comfortable as is my bed in my parents' home, but there's something extra comforting about my room at home. I'm glad I'm not here every night and I'm grateful for the space going to school hundreds of miles away affords me, but still it's nice to be here for three nights.

Some people of both genders are obsessed with perpetuating the illusion of youth.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Political Madness

Just looking at his face puts me in a bad mood for an entire day. i'm not sure I can make it through the duration of another presidential primary. I'm hoping that the republicans are not stupid enough to nominate this buffoon, therefore elongating my misery.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sex in Medical School and Other Fallacies

Life is moving along at its usual snail's pace. In my school we've just finished a unit on infectious diseases and have moved on to endocrinology, after which we'll transition to the final area of focus for the quarter, which will be on male and female reproduction.

I'm probably saying more than I should about my personal life here.  I'm relatively anonymous in this forum, however, so what the hell? I'll spill my guts.

It's a bit awkward in some ways to learn so much about the medical aspects of reproduction before having much practical experience in that regard. I wonder if, when it's time for me to experience all of that sort of thing, I'll obsess on the technical aspects to the point that I miss out on the essence of the experience. That would be sad.

I'm not the only novice in regard. There are a few east Asian girls and a  girl whose parents are from India who have no more experience with all things carnal than have I. Perhaps we should stick together during that part of lecture so people don't smirk at us too much if we turn red. Then again, having six or so girls seated together who are embarrassed by the subject matter would probably be far more conspicuous than finding our own individual spots where we can attempt to blend into the woodwork.

I'm going home for the first time this quarter for the Halloween weekend. A few people are coming with me. My brother is not yet sure as to whether or not he will travel home. He's already been home once this quarter. I had planned to visit home earlier but there was never a good time. My parents have both been here at least twice, and other relatives have been through as well. Beyond that, there's really little time to be homesick. This place has essentially become home to me though I don't love the bay area enough to settle here permanently.

Judeg Alex posted this link . It ranks the fans of NFL teams in terms of their obnoxiousness. Whoever did the rankings pretty much got it spot on, though I probably would have ranked the Seattle Seahawks higher on the obnoxiousness scale. The godawful Pete Carroll by himself is arguably the single most obnoxious person associated with the NFL. Anyone who likes him is guilty of obnoxiousness by association. Some people would put the Harbaugh brothers in the same league. I really don't. I think Jim Harbaugh is mildly funny. He's a complete maniac, but maniacs can be amusing. Just the same, I'm glad he's moved back to college sports. He probably belonged in college all along. College athletes still listen to coaches to some degree. College coaches presumably get paid more as well, and Harbaugh has enough offspring that he needs every dollar that he can earn or steal. Pete Carroll, on the other hand, has no option of returning to the NCAA because any university who hired him would likely face sanctions for the next millennium.

They're not obnoxious.
No one here is obnoxious, either . . .

nor is there anything obnoxious about these people.

This guy is probably the least obnoxious Seahawk fan of all.

The Patriots fans are ranked as the league's most obnoxious. I can see the rationale behind that ranking. At the same time, even though I think he's dishonest and stands for everything that sports probably shouldn't stand for, I have a grudging respect for Bill Belichick. Anyone who inspires such paranoia in the opposition that they bring their own gatorade and [for good reason] fear that you're bugging their walkie talkies or going through the visiting locker rooms after you use them for any hint of your team's secrets is probably doing something right. I have no use for Tom Brady, though.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Outrun by a Very Old Man and an Interesting Case Involving the AntiChrist

the defendant

I had a really tragic afternoon today. My dad showed up while a study group was meeting here at my condo. People started talking to one another and the discussion was about money changing hands. I don't know exactly why I ever agreed to such a thing, but my cohort mates were betting on whether or not I could outrun my father at a distance of 200 yards. Someone measured the distance. We ran and I lost. I got a much better start than he did and was ahead of him until probably the final 15 yards or so. Even he admitted that I would have beaten him in a real race, as no one  races for 200 yards in an actual race. The man is something like fifty-one years old, and I'm not quite twenty-one yet. It was a pathetic display on my part. I would burn my running shoes were it not for the fact that the soles are rubber and would not burn very well.

Afterwards I was too disconsolate to continue studying, so I checked out things on the Internet while others were studying things that I already had committed to memory. I came across something a bit unusual.

True confession: I was disloyal to Judge Alex. I watched an episode of the Antichrist on the Internet, I would try to rationalize it by saying that 1) I'm not a Neilson Family;2) even if I were a Neilson family, I watching the episode on the Internet, where it could not be tracked by the neilson people, and The AntiChrist would under no circumstances credit. Still, disloyalty is disloyalty, and I admit to having been disloyal.

Disloyalty notwithstanding, the case was truly interesting if more for the back story than for the actual content of the case itself. It seems that the case was phony -- manufactured jointly by the plaintiff, defendant, and witnesses so that they could get a little cash and a free all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles out of the experience.  The production staffs and the judges themselves on most court shows pride themselves on being able to sniff out a ruse, but either this case fooled everyone or both the production staff and The AntiChrist thought the case was too bizarre not to air even if it was not for real. I'm not sure which of my two possible scenarios is actually true in this case.

The case involved an accusation by the plaintiff that the defendant had thrown two TVs across the room, one of which hit and killed her cat. The defendant's defense was basically that he was too drunk to remember what happened on the night in question. The plaintiff in this case was clearly nervous about lying on camera under oath, but she explained it away by saying to The AntiChrist that she was fidgety. The AntiChrist probably thought she was coming down from a meth high.

Both the plaintiff and the defendant were respectable actors, albeit in an understated sort of way on the part of the defendant. Arguably the most talented actor involved with the case was the defendant's witness, who interjected that he had a scenario that proved the plaintiff was lying. Judge Judy cut him off by telling him he had not been present when the cat was or was not killed. The defendant's witness responded, "OK, Mama," to The AntiChrist. That had supposedly been the particular witness' entire objective in appearing in court -- to call The AntiChrist "Mama." Unfortunately, The AntiChrist seemed not to have heard him. She's gone Kate Gosselin on litigants for saying far less than that.

Lines from the  hallterviews were among the best I've ever heard on The AntiChrist's show, or, I should say, were the best I would have heard if I actually watched her show on a regular basis, which I clearly do not. "He killed a dead bird and then lit it on fire." "They're straight; we hate 'em." 'Kate's nasty." ". . . underwear on the counter . . ."   "The guy's crazy but he's not a bad friend usually." "If the cat died it was a mercy killing 'cuz Kate never fed the cat."  "I didn't kill the cat. Jonathan didn't kill the cat. None of us killed the cat, because we only smash stuff outside." "It's ridiculous." "It's ridiculous, obviously." "I feel like my whole life is ridiculous, really."

The case is a classic, and all the more so because it was totally fabricated. Watch it if you're so inspired.

I  once read something written by Judge Alex on social media where he talked about the potential cost for anyone caught fabricating a case on his show. In addition to having to reimburse the producers for hotel fees, cash for meals, and transportation costs, the production company could even go after phony litigants for productions costs, which would be well into the thousands of dollars. I must ask Judge Alex if anyone ever tried to bring a phony case before him. My guess is that there's no way he would have ever fallen for this particular hoax, but then again, the case might have been funny enough that the judge would have been willing to look the other way in order to televise it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tests, Celebration Plans, Slut Clothing, and Unconscious Classmates

I had a major test at school on Friday. It was related to the GI system and was considered to be relatively important; a thorough grasp of the GI system is more or less essential for anyone treating patients. Not much of what we've learned in this series was actually new to me, but I approach all presented material as though I've never heard it before in terms of notes and studying, as I don't want to miss anything. I was relatively stressed going into this test until one of my cohort mates went into some sort of health crisis.  

I don't know if the student's issues were anxiety-induced or entirely a health matter. If the lecturer of our most recent section had been there, we probably would have been required to write up differential diagnoses of her condition along with lab and radiology orders. Fortunately both for her and for the rest of us, the lecturer in question was not present to add to her humiliation and to the rest of our workload.

I really hope my fellow med student is OK. No one with whom I've spoken has heard anything about how she is. I don't wish this sort of thing on any of my current cohort mates. There were a few students who were here previously that I found to be so unqualified and incompetent that I feared for their potential patients to the degree that even if something of this nature had taken the person out of commission, I wouldn't have been truly sad for them.   

The ailing student, who appears to me to be in her late twenties and hadn't  previously displayed any obvious signs of illness, was gasping for breath and was trying to walk up the stairs of the auditorium when she fainted. Raoul caught her. He and another guy carried her up the remainder of the stairs and into the corridor or anteroom or whatever the outside of our building that is still inside and leads to another auditorium is called.  I felt very sorry for everyone involved. The woman was wearing a top that crept up easily, and there was no obvious way for her to be carried that wasn't a bit awkward. Raoul tried in vain to pull her top to a position where it would cover her.  Poor Raoul is very proper and turned quite red at the site of the woman's bright purple bra.  

Being the paranoid person that I am, immediately upon my return home, I went to my closet and sorted every item of my clothing into two sections: clothing that will protect my modesty in the event that I become unconscious during lecture and have to be unceremoniously carted out of an auditorium, and slut clothing. There's really no in-between. Either a garment will cover me when someone is lugging me up or down stairs, or, for practical purposes, only a hussy would wear the clothing item to lecture knowing what I now know about gravity, the carrying of an unconscious body, and related matters. 

My initial plan was to dress like a nun, or  maybe to wear one of Warren Jeffs'  women's prairie dresses that cover more than burkas, for the next two-and-one-half years. Matthew pointed out to me, however, that what shows when a person is in normal full-consciousness mode is immaterial.  Well-fitting shorts and a long enough top are more protective of  a person's privacy than most dresses are. Thus, the paradigms of proper clothing and slut clothing have shifted somewhat. The zebra-print shorts that I have on loan from my Taiwanese-American friend's younger sister are now on the "nun clothing" side of my closet, while a couple of  previously-considered-benign dresses have been relegated to the "slut clothes" section.

Most of us would probably feel nothing but sympathy for an under-the-weather peer. Still, having such a thing happen to someone else took my mind off the nervousness I was feeling  in regard to the multiple choice scantron test, and I was able to get through it more quickly than I usually do. I didn't rush,  and the questions, while difficult or unanswerable for anyone who didn't know the material well, were mostly straightforward and not designed to trick a person into a wrong answer. 

I had a professor last year who was totally into writing trick questions. It wasn't a major issue for me, as I semi-quickly broke his code, and even was able to help a couple people in a couple of of my study groups to understand how he typically twisted the words in his questions, and how best to un-twist them. He justified his ambiguity by saying that patients would not always be straight with us, and that the human body certainly would do what it could to confound us as interns and physicians. He was only preparing us for life as physicians and surgeons by speaking in riddles.  

Personally, I think he was full of nonsense and delusions of grandeur and probably fancied himself as the next incarnation of House, MD.  My dad knew the professor from when they were both completing their residencies here, and he said the guy was always full of himself. There's not much I or anyone else can do when a  professor is a complete jerk. In regular university classes it's mostly easy enough to schedule around a professor who's obnoxious, but in a medical school cohort [other than the few slots in which we'll schedule electives] where we move as a group for one session to the next, there's not really any getting around such a person. If this jerk teaches any elective courses, I suspect the enrollment in said courses is somewhere between incredibly low and nonexistent.

I just checked my December schedule. My first final exam will not happen until two days after my twenty-first birthday, which will be on December 2.  The scheduling is most fortuitous for me, as on that night  I plan to drink myself into a state midway between oblivion and alcohol poisoning, ideally slightly closer to oblivion.  Because of the lucky break in scheduling, I will not have to complete my first final exam of the year either hung over or still loopy. Praise  Jesus, Buddha, Maitreya, Mohammed, or anyone else who chooses to claim responsibility.

These shall remain a wardrobe staple. I probably should offer to buy them from my cohort mate's little sister.

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.