Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My first piece of ICM equipment

...a tuning fork. How boring! My otoscope/ophthalmoscope, pen light, and eye chart have also come. I'm just waiting on the arrival of my stethoscope, tape measure (no idea why we need that), and BP cuff. Hopefully they'll come soon, because I'm not in the US for much longer!!
Christmas 022

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

And happy holidays to eveyone. Taco (the most adorable dog ever) is about to come with me to Heather's family's house for his first Christmas. I'm pretty excited for both of us since I've never had a real christmas either. That sort of happens when your family is Jewish, I suppose. In any case, here's a picture of the little man, getting some rest before all the excitement.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

2nd semester preparations

I ordered everything I'll need for second semester the other day, and man was it expensive! Most of the expense was due to the ICM stuff we had to order, including an otoscope, ophthalmoscope, stethoscope, etc. But, they'll last through the rest of basic sciences, so I guess it wasn't too bad. I would up ordering a pretty standard ophthalmoscope, but the upgraded otoscope. The upgraded ophthalmoscope looks like it would be very nice, but you have to clean it after every patient contact since it touches the patient, its not used in any hospital exam rooms that I've ever seen, and it works differently than the one that almost everywhere uses. That was actually the biggest reason I didn't buy it, since I don't want to have to learn to use two different pieces of equipment and I'm pretty sure i'm not gonna want to carry the thing around with me in clinicals. However, I am glad that I went with the more expensive otoscope. It gives you a much better view, but works the same way. So, if you go somewhere without it, you'll still know how to use the one that's provided. And, when I took a patient into St. Agnes' ER the other day, I noticed that every patient room there had the upgraded otoscope that I bought. So apparently, it was good enough to justify the extra cost to them.

Although I doubt I'll ever use the stuff that I bought again after ICM is over, it was kind of exciting to buy it. I've had a stethoscope forever from riding the ambulance (I bought myself a Littmann cardiology when I passed the paramedic class), but the otoscope and ophthalmoscope definitely reminded me that I'm in medical school and on my way to becoming a doctor. Sometimes, I forget that, because sitting in lecture for hours a day can sometimes feel an awful lot like undergrad. But, every once in a while, there's a little moment that makes me remember that I'm not in college anymore. I like those moments.

As far as books go, I think they were a little cheaper this semester than last. I bought the ICM books, which were pretty cheap, two physio books, and a biostats book. Following the advice of the valueMD folks, I decided to hold off on the immuno book, since they all said it was useless. Probably true since many of the first semester books were useless. Besides, if you do want a required book that you chose not to buy, you can always just walk over to the library and read it. It's not a big library, but they do have pretty much any textbook you'd need.

Friday, December 21, 2007

But then again...

I do actually do something worthwhile every once in a while ;)

At the firehouse

Sometimes things get slow, I get bored, and this is what happens

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas, from the mexican restaurant

I went to Los Portales today for lunch, a restaurant which is pretty much authentic Mexican. I was very surprised to see the place totally decked out for Christmas. They did do a good job though.

Eventually, I'll learn to stop challenging mexican and indians with spicy food! I told them I wanted real hot sauce, no watered down crap salsa. So, they gave me what had to be habanero purée. The stuff was hot!! I don't speak much Spanish, but I know enough to know they were laughing at me as I put way too much on my enchiladas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Artistic iPhone photos?

Not really, but about the best I could do with no flash and no editing.
This is from the wall by the bathroom...a bunch of tiles painted by little kids

I definitely do not like religion at all, but Christmas is just such a happy time. I do enjoy the decorations. :)

OK, so I lied

I just got back from the mall and Heather's pedicure. I have confirmed that she's every bit as much of a girly girl as I thought she was. But, I like it, so it's ok. Anyway, check out that directory...more stores than you'd ever need to visit in one day!! And the other as far as you can see. I think the only mall in St. Maarten (in Marigot) has like 10 stores. And, only one is half decent.
P.S.- Heather pointed out to me that she didn't know why I lied. Well, that's because i was referring to something that I wrote on ValueMD, saying that I was going to post the stuff that I missed about the US while in St. Maarten, but decided against it. It would seem that I haven't decided against it after all.

lots of new ways to blog!

Since I've been home, i've discovered quite a few new ways to post blogs, which will hopefully equate to more blog posts. First, I now use MarsEdit for blogging from my computer. It's a mac application that allows you to create, edit, and add pictures to posts without actually going online. When you're done, it publishes it for you. It's a lot faster and more convenient than actually logging onto blogger.

I also discovered that I can post photos and blog from my iPhone, both through blogger and Flickr. I think I like the blogger one a little better than the Flickr option. Basically, all I do is send an email to slevit1.****, where the **** is a secret word that you assign. It doesn't just work for the iPhone, of course, but that's the only time I could see wanting to use that feature.

In other news, I went to Chipotle today and walked around the Annapolis Mall for a little while. Coming home makes me realize how much we're missing in St. Maarten!! You have no idea how nice it is to be able to drive somewhere, find parking, and be able to buy just about anything you could ever want, all in one place, until it's gone. I also went to the MVA today to renew my driver's license. Of course, they never move very quickly. But, they sure were faster than the St. Maarten government place where you go to do the same thing. I never thought I'd say that anyone could learn a thing or two from the MVA's processes, but although they need more employees, they actually are very efficient.

We got an e-mail from Miami recently saying that there are available spots in the dorm now. Personally, I think it's a little late to just now be giving us this information!!! Not that I have any desire whatsoever to ever live there again (mostly because of NETstar), but a lot of other people probably would have liked to, if they didn't already find housing. And of course, all of the first semester students already have found alternative housing, since they specifically said we'd have to!! Looks like MEAS shouldn't have reserved every spot so quickly. Now, they're probably gonna lose some money. And we all know that's not something AUC wants to do! OK, off to the mall now to get heather a pedicure so she can feel prettier than she already is :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

First semester....DONE!

Well, first semester is over and I'm now back at home. I know it's been a long time since I've updated, but I've been busy getting life re-organized at home for the next couple of weeks. All in all, this past semester went pretty well. I can't believe how quickly it went by! It feels like just a couple days ago that I was feeling like that I'd never start med school, and now I'm done the first semester. Assuming my final score in MCB is accurate (which I'll be debating when I return), I didn't do quite as well as I would have liked, but still did very well. I passed everything without a problem and came close to honoring all of the classes. I would have liked to have done better, but I am pretty happy for my first semester, since it was a HUGE adjustment from what I was used to. Hopefully, I'll do better next semester since I now know what does and does not work for me.

Before I left, I moved all of my stuff out of the dorms and into my new apartment. I haven't officially moved in to the new apartment yet because it still has to be cleaned and the other people hadn't left at the time, but I can't wait to get moved in there once break ends. The dishwasher is being installed sometime this coming week and the whole building is being fixed up while we're gone for break. It's about a 10 minute drive to campus, but it's going to be sooo much nicer! Hopefully, I'll be able to get a little tan back since I'll have a pool to study by now, instead of being locked up in my dorm room all day. It will also be extremely nice to never have to deal with NETstar again. That is one company that I will definitely not miss. They'll likely not miss me very much either, as I was one of their most vocal opponents. :)

It's been very nice being back home for the past couple days. I've been spending most of the time with Heather and I've seen my family a lot also. I also spent a day at the firehouse, and will be there a bunch next week. It was good to catch up with everyone there and fun to get back on the ambulance and fire truck again. Last night, I went to Heater's parents' house and we decorated their Christmas tree, which was also a lot of fun. Not sure what I'll be doing today yet, but so far, it's involved laying around in bed until 2:15. Later, it will probably involve getting some food and actually experiencing decent customer service, something I missed a lot in SXM! At some point, I've got to order all of my supplies for Intro to Clinical Medicine (ICM) next semester. Fortunately, I found out that I had a bunch of points stored up at the firehouse that I had forgotten about, and so I got a $180 all black Littman Master Cardiology stethoscope for about $45! Oh...and my iPhone is now working in the US!! I got a new sim card for it, for the times I'm home, and an AT&T pre paid service plan, which wound up being a very good deal. If I had never been to SXM, I would think that 10 cents a minute was a rip off. But, after paying about 35 cents a minute for local calls there, and getting very poor service at that, it's great to be paying 10 cents a minute for AT&T! My new phone number is on my facebook profile, so call me on that while I'm at home.

Well that's it for now...more updates coming soon, so don't stop reading :)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

2 more days!!!

I haven't posted much, but that's because it's FINALS TIME!!! The rest of today and tomorrow will be spent studying, Monday is finals, and then, I'm outta here!!! Well, outta here for the next 3 weeks. I can't wait to get back home to see Heather and the family, and to be back in the US! I do not enjoy this island and it will be very nice to be back home for a while!!

But, I still have a ton of work to do before I leave. This is a very important block of exams for me because doing well on these exams will put me on the deans list. All I need is somewhere around a 90% on each exam and I'll get it. And, I've done better than that in every class before. So, I just need to keep it up for one more exam! Fortunately, we should have our grades Monday afternoon, so I won't have to wait long to find out. One thing they do well here is get your grades back to you quickly. Certainly can't complain about getting your grades back just a couple of hours after you take the exam!

After exams on Monday, I've gotta move everything out of my dorm room and into my apartment. Packing and moving everything in one day is not going to be fun, but I don't have a choice since I don't have time to move before exams and I'm leaving on Tuesday. But, even though it'll be a pain, I am VERY happy to be getting out of the dorms. I will not miss NETstar one bit! And honestly, they probably won't miss me either, since apparently (according to them), I am using multiple computers to try to hack their network! ;) Oh make me laugh. Maybe one day they'll grow up into a real internet company.

Anyways...lunch time and then back to studying!! Wish me luck!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Digg visits my blog!!

My post about Apple corporate calling me was posted to Digg yesterday, and I've finally experienced the Digg effect...sort of!! Usually, I get around 70-120 visitors to my blog per day. But just today, I have had well over 500 visits, and my story only has 17 diggs!! I can't imagine what happens to blogs that make it to the front page of Digg! Thanks for visiting guys, I hope you'll stick around for a little while. It's gonna be sad when my visits drop back down to their usual numbers.

In any case, not too much new going on in med school this week. Very excited that it's the last week of first semester, but I've still got a lot of studying to do before it's all over. I've talked to all of my professors though, and it's still possible for me to make the Dean's list if I do well on the finals! So, that's even more motivation to keep up the studying.

Today was also the second to last day of anatomy lab...forever, which was very exciting! We are finishing up quickly with the dissections. Today, we had about 4 people cutting on the guy at once. Two of us were working on dissecting out the pelvic vessels, and two people were working on dissecting out the thigh muscles. I really feel bad cutting through certain parts of the just looks so painful!! ;)

Edit: 725 hits for the day, and still going!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Apple called me!!

Yesterday, I had an issue with spotlight indexing on my computer, so I decided to call Apple Care. Long story short, I was on hold for nearly 3 hours, and still never managed to reach tier 2 support (the people I really needed to talk to). I understand that AppleCare has recently gotten much busier because of Leopard, and that this is not a usual occurrence for Apple, but it was still ridiculous. I can understand 15 or 20 minutes, but not 3 hours!!

In any case, I decided to send an e-mail to Steve Jobs. From the time I worked at Apple, I know that he does actually read his own e-mails, and often responds directly back to you, or will forward it to the correct place. Well, I've never done it before, but I thought I'd give it a try. I wrote a decent length e-mail, explaining why I was so frustrated that I had to wait for so long, and how bad it would look for those people who are calling AppleCare for the first time. In the past, I have convinced customers to purchase AppleCare probably hundreds of times, but I would feel bad if this was the service they got from it. It was so easy for me to recommend because, before leopard, wait times were usually 2 minutes max! Really, although I'd heard he did actually read all of his e-mails, I didn't think I'd get a reply.

However, at around 3:00 this afternoon, not even 24 hours after I sent the e-mail, I got a phone call from a lady who works in the Apple executive office!! She said that she was calling for Steve Jobs, he read the e-mail, and requested her to call. She listened to why I was frustrated, explained what is going on with AppleCare, and was actually helpful! After 3 hours on hold yesterday, I did finally figure out the solution myself. But, she said that if I had any problems again, especially since I am out of the country and going to an Apple Store is not a possibility, to call her directly and she would put me straight through to a product specialist (tier 2), or even the person above that, if necessary (the highest level of support they have, usually reserved for businesses).

It would have been neat to get a response directly from the Steve Jobs directly, but I know he's probably way too busy to actually call someone and handle a problem like mine, which is fine. The e-mails that I have seen him send to people are usually very short or something with a definitive answer. But, I'm still very impressed that he actually read the e-mail so quickly and made sure it was handled. You don't get much better customer service than that!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

almost there

Only one week of class left, and I'll be done with my first semester of medical school!! Of course, I've still got 4 more semesters in SXM, then 2 more years of clinicals, but this semester has gone by fast! Seems like the other day, I thought I'd never start medical school, and now I'm almost done the first semester. The first day, Dr. Fogg tried to scare everyone in the class (somewhat successfully) with a cranial nerve diagram. He put it up and told us, this is just one slide of about 30 that you'll get in one day. But, we've almost made it through all of it. It's kind of amazing how much we've covered in such a short period, in all of the classes.

But, we've still got one week left, and these last exams are very important for me. If I get an A in MCB, I should honor the class. I need a very high A in Histo to honor that class, but it's possible. Anatomy is not possible, unfortunately, due to one block that I didn't study it nearly enough. I'm kinda mad about that because all my other anatomy grades were very good. Oh an learn. Also, If I do well on the MCB exam, I talked to Dr. B and it looks like I'll probably be the next MCB I tutor for next semester! It's not definite, but looking that way. I think it will be a very good way to keep the material fresh, so I'm hoping I do well and get to do it.

So, back to studying, to make sure I do well!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


So, we definitely just had an earthquake! I had just sat at my desk in my apartment to do some studying and I felt things start shaking. At first, I thought that a big jet was passing overheard. Then, it occurred to me that we are not in any flight path here and it would be very odd for a jet to be nearby. And, it was a lot stronger and lasted longer than an airplane would. So I stood up to see if I was imagining things, and it was definitely still there. So, I walked outside, and everyone else was outside too, asking everyone else if they felt it also. Then, I got an IM from friends that don't live on campus, and they felt it also! So, definitely an earthquake... albeit a little baby one. Don't damage and no one hurt. The internet even managed to not go down!! It can withstand an earthquake, but not rain....odd.

Turns out, it came from Martinique, where there was a magnitude 7 earthquake today. No idea what it wound up being here, but nowhere near a 7. Is it weird that I'm kind of excited for my first earthquake?

As an aside - Dominica, where Ross Medical School is located, is about 15 miles or so from the center of the earthquake, so wonder how bad they got it? There have already apparently been 2 more earthquakes around magnitude 5. We didn't get any of that here though.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jermaine Dupri, we need to talk!

Jermaine Dupri (JD) recently wrote a blog in support of JayZ's decision to release his new album as full album only (meaning you can't buy individual songs, as you usually can). He goes on to make numerous [bad] points. I don't understand why this guy, and the record industry just can't seem to get it. I'm sorry that Apple has stripped away all of your power, but that's what you get for not caring about what the consumer wants. Ultimately, any business that does not care about the customer will lose their business, it's that simple. If you take a look at the current state of affairs of the music industry, as they scramble to retake hold of what they've lost, it's glaringly obvious that it's probably already too late for them. Let's analyze a little of his argument.

Maybe Hova coulda sold another 100,000 to 200,000 units by playing it iTunes' way, but he still had the number one album last week
I suppose that an extra 100-200,000 units is not a big deal to you? He only did 450,000 total, another 200,000 would be a pretty huge chunk of that!!

Soulja Boy sold almost 4 million singles and only 300,000 albums! We let the consumer have too much of what they want, too soon, and we hurt ourselves
But he sold 4 million singles!!!! I can 100% guarantee you that he would not have sold 4 million more albums if singles were not an option. People aren't going to pay $10 for one good song, because we don't have to! Your argument is seriously that you let the consumer have what they want? Have you forgotten who is buying your music in the first place?

Why do people not care how we - the people who make music - eat?

Oh come on, give me a break...I've seen MTV Cribs, you're eating just fine!

Every album is created for you to hear the next song, especially on rap albums. Rappers make intros on their records for a reason- they want you to listen it to set the mood and get ready for that second song
And if consumers want to hear that next song, the way you want us to, we'll buy the whole album. But, I personally don't like rap much at all...I only like a select few songs. Actually, your absurd "intros," which largely consist of ebonics speech, make me NOT want to buy the whole album. There is no chance that I will buy nearly any rap CD, but I will buy a song. That is one sale you would not have made otherwise. Thousands of others feel the same as me. flash...not all of your songs are good!

But that doesn't mean the people who investing their time, money and sweat into a record shouldn't have the right to decide how it's gonna be sold, whether that's in single units or as a whole
You can decide to do whatever you want, just like Jay-Z did. It's just a very bad idea and will absolutely cost you in sales.

Apple, why are you helping the consumer destroy our canvas? We don't tell you to break up your computers into bits and pieces and sell off each thing. When you go to the Apple store you may only need one thing, but you have to buy all their plug ins and stuff. You have to buy their whole package, even if you don't necessarily want it, or your equipment won't work
Apple is helping your sales tremendously. Remember a little thing called Napster, a while back. Then, people were getting your music for free (read: you made nothing). Apple gave the music company an easy and efficient way to deliver their music that consumers actually wanted to use! I can easily get any album I want for free online, but I often pay to get it from iTunes. If it's not on iTunes, or it's not available as a single...I'll let you guess how I get it. Hint: I don't buy CD's, ever, for any reason.
And, they actually do sell computers in bits and pieces. If you're going to give an example of something relevant, at least make it correct! You have to buy an entire computer only so far as you need certain components for it to work. However, you can change these components in countless configurations. And, if it's not required for the computer to work, you can buy it separately. Last I checked, Apple was not bundling external keyboards or mice with laptop computers, didn't include a carrying case, an extra charger, an extra battery, AppleCare, .Mac, or anything of the sort. If they are doing that, I got ripped off big time!! Did they make you buy the USB hub, or keyboard, or AirPort Extreme when you went there?

What it comes down to is that I probably shouldn't have expected anything better from a rapper. Read the article yourself and tell me how intelligent he sounds. (link). Listen to this, music industry, and listen good. What you are doing is clearly not working, because you do not give the consumer what they want. If you continue to ignore the consumer, then your spiral into oblivion will continue.
Jay-Z and JD, you're gonna lose sales by doing it your way, no two ways about it. I'm going to show you, right now, what happens when you don't give the consumer what they want.
Jay-Z's American Gangster...absolutely FREE!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

School updates

It's amazing how much the site visit stats drop when I stop updating! I guess it's not exciting to read the same posts over and over again. I really am going to try to keep updating more often!

Anyway, not too much new going on at school. We got our Histology group project practice back the other day. Dr. G's comments were, "good job." I guess it's a good thing we did it, since that feedback was so helpful. The only reason we did the practice is because apparently, he grades harder if you don't. Tomorrow, we'll have Dr. G back for histo, after having a guy they were interviewing to take his place last week. The guy last week was nice enough, but really pretty useless as a lecturer. So far, they've tried out one replacement for Dr. G and one for Dr. F (anatomy). Neither of them was good, so I feel bad for the incoming first semester class...who knows what they'll get. I've also heard rumors that Dr. Parr may not be around next semester, but it could very well just be a rumor. That would be a shame though, because a lot of people in the class like her. Dr. Parr's tests aren't necessarily easy, but they're fair.

In anatomy, we're dissecting the pelvis. The instructors did a midline cut down the guy and cut straight through his cash and prizes. Although he didn't feel it, I still sort of felt bad for him. It did give a very interesting view though of everything. Also, it made it easier to have more people dissecting at once, since you can just take off one of the legs from the level just above the hip. My group has lab 3 times this week, which is somewhat unfortunate. But, only 4 more lab periods to go and first semester is OVER!! We have less than two weeks of class left and honestly, it has gone by pretty quickly. Seems like yesterday that I thought medical school would never begin. And now, I'm almost done the first semester.


Again, sorry I haven't updated in a while! Dodgeball tournament was this past Saturday though, and I suppose I was the official photographer. Congratulations to the Kinky Menkes (don't ask me what that means, or why they spell it that way). It took a couple of hours of post-processing to get them ready to be uploaded, but they're all on the internet now. Head over to my flickr site (link on the right side of the page) to check them out. The faculty team actually did pretty well this year, plenty of pics of them as well! Unfortunately, my memory card had some sort of issue and about 50 of the pictures were corrupted. I was not very happy about that, but I've reformatted the card, so hopefully it won't happen again. I did still get 352 others!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Update time!

Yeah, I know it's been a while since I've posted lately. Sorry about that, just been busy. Anyway, I've been in a much better mood lately after a couple of good experiences.

First, we had the 4th block exam on Monday. Just one more to go and I'm done with first semester!! However, although I haven't ever failed an exam, I was not very happy with my scores on the 3rd block. I just didn't study enough. Coming out of the last block exam, I felt alright, but not like I did amazing. However, I wound up getting an A in anatomy and histo, and an 89% in MCB!! I was pretty happy with the MCB score since the class average was so low that they spent an additional day grading to see if they could give some points back. Everyone said the test was way too hard, but honestly, I didn't think it was that bad. It wasn't easy, but not impossible either. However, the half of the class or so that failed probably disagrees with me.

After the exam, I actually found a business on the island that gave cheap and fast service!! My muffler was broken for a couple of weeks, but I never had time to get it fixed. I have no idea how it happened, but the exhaust pipe broke off from the muffler. My car sounded awful...a lot like those ridiculous mufflers they put on civics. It really was just embarrassing. So, I figured the repair would be a few hundred dollars at least and take a week. However, I went to some muffler shop in Phillipsburg and while they looked extremely sketchy, the guy welded the exhaust pipe back on in about 5 minutes and charged me $20 for it! He said the repair should last at least a year and now, it seems to be working perfectly. Since I couldn't believe how fast and inexpensive they were, I had them change my oil too, which took about another 5 minutes!

Also, after the block, I went to lunch at Jimbo's with John and Bhaskar. It was good, as usual. John got an enormous margarita and needless to say, he was not quite the same the rest of the day. I got one that wasn't even half the size and I was definitely feeling it. Pictures are attached.

Yesterday, I finally got my car washed. It desparately needed a bath, especially since the idiot at the inspection station made me pull the tint off my front windows. They're not fast, but do a very thorough job. There was basically a beach in my car from the last time I let John use my car when I was away. Now, there's not a trace of it. I tried to catch dinner while I was there (pictures also attached), but they were elusive!

Well, back to studying now! Gotta do well on the next block, so I started studying yesterday (which is the earliest i've ever started)!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cute gallbladder?

this is the first time I have agreed with Dr. G, that a histology slide might be kinda cute. Maybe I've just spent too much of the day looking at them! See the little eyes, and nose, and mouth!! :)

Temple of Ignorance

This picture is from the creation museum. Come on guys....really? How many cans of paint did you sniff before coming up with this? I've never been there before, but I'd like to go! I'd imagine it's mind-numbingly painful to see, while hilarious, all at the same time! i suppose this is what happens when you wade in the shallow end of the gene pool.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Just a glimpse...

If you're wondering how hard medical school is, I've decided to give you a little info on what it's like for me. First, I'll let you know that I almost never studied in college, and still managed to make it to medical school. That might explain why I'm in the caribbean...but I digress. Point is, I usually did pretty well without much studying. However, that does not fly at all here!! If you want to keep up, expect to do at least 4-5 hours of studying every night of the week, sometimes more.

We work on a block schedule, so we have all of our exams at once. Personally, I like it that way, but some people don't. Basically, it means that every third week, you study about the equivalent of what you would have studied for a final exam in college. It's fairly typical to get somewhere around 80 powerpoint slides per class per day. In one day, we cover a week or two of college material.

However, that doesn't mean you don't have any free time! If you start studying right after class, you can have a good bit of the night free. And, if you study every day after class, it's perfectly reasonably to take at least one day of the weekend off completely. Although, probably not the weekend before the block exams! People do go to the beach fairly often, go out at night, scuba dive, or whatever. I've been diving 3 times already, and could have gone more if I didn't go home two weekends.

My advice for anyone who is starting med not get behind!! Not even a day! Like I said, one day of class is about 4-5 hours minimum of studying. If you get behind a day, it is hard to catch up. If you get behind a few's nearly impossible. Life in med school is not bad, and there is time for fun, but it's different. I'm still getting used to the amount of studying I have to do (and honestly, I need to keep up a little better), but it's getting better.

Also, med school is an awful lot more interesting than undergrad. Even the classes that you wouldn't think would be interesting, are. I thought I'd hate biochem, but it's the class I'm doing the best in! It's a lot to learn, but it's all relevant. Particularly having been a paramedic, it's interesting to see how all of the diseases I knew of and treated actually occur. It's nice to finally know why I gave the drugs I gave!

Oh, and I finally met trixie the pixie tonight!! I'm not sure if she gives out her real we'll just leave it at that. When I asked her how I new her (she looked familiar from the picture on her blog), someone thought I was trying to use a cheesy pickup line! :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

House...not just a tv show

Although I already knew it was a great show, House has now become a sort of additional motivation to study more! Watching it today, I realized that I'm actually starting to know what they're talking about! Certainly, I don't know a lot of it and I couldn't diagnose most of the patients (yet), but I do at understand a lot of the logic.

The most recent episode had a 16 year old boy with a severe midline facial deformity. Of course, being House, there was something else wrong. As it winds up, it was just Lyme disease. But, since we're just finishing up embryo, I was thinking that if he has a facial deformity, he likely has a cardiac deformity. One of the doctors on House thought the same thing!

So, at this point, I'm basically like the doctor with the wrong diagnosis. Not quite ready to be the primary doc yet, but at least I had an idea, even if it was the wrong one! Almost one semester down and I can already diagnose poorly...just imagine in 4 more ;)

P.S. - Some people think stem cell research is a bad thing because you're killing a potential human life, and all life is special. They believe, somehow, that the "life" of something that can hardly be considered human is more valuable than the lives of people who are already very much alive and suffering. In their attempts to convince children (or sometimes even adults) that stem cell research (or abortion, or whatever) is bad, they'll even go so far as to try to say that an embryo looks like a tiny little miniature person. Just to add a little educational material to this post, I've included what an embryo really looks like. I do know what these structures are and what they'll eventually become...but do you? Not very human looking, is it? You don't see a brain to process any sort of thought or pain? That's probably because there isn't one!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Paper never wins!!

I didn't come up with this...but I've always wondered about it. I would have just copied it from where I saw it, but I've edited it for language :)

I understand how scissors can beat paper, and I get how a rock can beat scissors, but there's no freaking way paper can beat rock!! Is paper supposed to magically wrap around rock and leave it immobile? Why the hell can't paper do this to scissors? Screw scissors, why can't paper do this to people? Why aren't sheets of college ruled notebook paper constantly suffocating students as they take notes in class? I'll tell you why, because paper can't beat anybody. A rock would tear paper up in 2 seconds! When I play rock paper scissors, i always choose rock. Then, when somebody claims to have beaten me with their paper, I can punch them in the face with my already clenched fist and say, "oh crap, i'm sorry, I thought paper would protect you, idiot."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Back to reality

After an amazing weekend in Florida, it's time to get back to studying. I really didn't do much of anything exciting on vacation, but I got to spend a lot of time just laying around with Heather, which was very nice. It is also always very nice to get back to civilization! I'm sure Heather was happy that we had great weather in Florida, but it's just sorta status quo for me, lately. Heather did ask me a lot though if I was getting sick, and I kept telling her no because I really didn't feel sick at all. But, sure enough, woke up today and I'm not feeling well. Nothing specific...just that yucky feeling you get when sick is coming.

Because I didn't feel well this morning, it was hard to get out of bed. I finally rolled out of bed 5 minutes before class and got there only like 2 minutes late. I even made it in time for the MCB review questions that he does at the beginning of every day. Judging by my performance on the review questions, i'm doing a much better job keeping up this block than I did last. I guess the fact that I actually study this block has something to do with that.

We had a guest lecturer for embryo today, and he was pretty good. I still like Fogg the best, but this guy was close. Hard to compare though because their styles are very different. I heard that this next exam is going to be like 50 questions of abdomen, and 15 or so of embryo. This is absolute BS because we did 1 week of abdomen lectures, during which the power continuously went out, so we barely made it through them. This is in comparison to two weeks of embryo, often with twice a day embryo. I really don't understand their logic here most of the time. I also don't understand why embryo wasn't the first thing we did. We spent plenty time hearing about all kinds of embryonic derivates before we learned a thing about them. We also got a couple of questions on every anatomy exam about embryo, which we spent almost no time covering in class. That really just wasn't very well thought through. In any case, I do kind of like embryo, but I'm going to reserve final judgement until we get test results!

Dr. G gave a histology review today. His reviews seem to be very helpful. He spend the whole time quizzing the class and on occasion, telling people how ridiculous their answers are, but it makes you think and pay attention, just in case he calls on you. He also gets through a decent bit of material, which often shows up later on the exam. I left with a much better general understanding of the GI tract. Now, I just need to continue filling in the details.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

How to handle monsters

I know this is old, but it still makes me laugh every time I see it! If you haven't seen it, enjoy.


Alright hollywood writers, you had your fun, caused a disturbance, now GET BACK TO WORK!! Unions have gotten totally out of hand and it is beyond me why corporations have continued to allow their existence. I'll make this very simple...those people in unions are employees of a company; employees work for the company, the company does not work for you. You do not get to set the terms or decide how much you get paid. If they allow you some room to negotiate because they value your work, then congratulations, you're a good employee. But, they certainly don't have to negotiate anything (or at least they shouldn't). Just as they have the right to not pay you more than they want to, you have the right to quit if you don't like it, and find yourself a better job.

The writers are striking because they feel they deserve more money from the sale of online or other digital content. Well sorry for you, writers, but you don't. Yes, you provide a very good service, but like any other employee, you are replaceable. Yes, media is going in a new direction now and there is plenty of money to be made. But, your job hasn't changed at all, so why should your salary? Would it be nice if the studios decided to give you more money since they're doing so well? Sure! But do they have to? Certainly not! And the only thing that bothers me about this whole situation is that the networks haven't fired you yet! If any employee outside of a union decides not to show up for work for whatever reason, they get fired. Plain and simple. Unionized workers should be no different. Even without the union, you'd probably still do your job, because you like what you do. And if you wouldn't, there are no shortage of other people lining up to take your job!

I used to be in the firefighters union when I worked in Baltimore City. I joined the union because it was the thing to do and it was available. I also liked the sticker and license plate you got out of it. They did negotiate raises and better benefits, which was nice, but I would have worked for the fire department regardless. I wanted to work as a paramedic and that was really all that mattered. Union or not, I would have been happy to have the job. Fortunately for the citizens of Baltimore City, we were not allowed to strike as we were essential employees (like police officers and some others). However, I wouldn't have gone on strike anyway! I liked my job and you certainly don't go into the fire department expecting to get rich! Really...did anyone reading this take a job just because they had a union, or did you really just want the job?

Unfortunately, corporations have allowed unions to continue to exist, and put up with their garbage when they decide they need more benefits or money. Please don't think I'm advocating for companies to ignore their employees and not reward them for their hard work. It is in the companies best interests to provide good benefits and a good work environment, as this makes happy, more productive employees. Making your employees happy is important. However, at the end of the day, they are still employees of a company and do not get to set the rules. Like I said already, if you don't like the job, you're free to leave and find a new one. But as long as you are employed by a company, you are not in control.

Since I'm in med school, lets relate this to a physician. Just as you need writers to make shows (which is probably why they think they can demand whatever they want), you need physicians to make people better. If the physicians all decided one day that they weren't making enough money and went on strike, lots of people would die. Clearly, they're important to keep around (much more important than some screen writers). However, while they usually make decent money, they don't always make what they'd like. Fields go in and out of popularity, and salaries change. A super competitive specialty one year may be undesirably the next, that's just the way things work. But, the doctors stick around, because they usually love what they're doing. I will be a physician in a few years and while it would be great if I could make more money (because after all, all physicians are essential and save lives), I'm not gonna walk out because I don't get exactly what I want. And if I did decide to leave, there is certainly no shortage of qualified people just begging to get into medical school to take my place.

So, writers, if you really love what you do, get back to work. We love the work you do too and want to see more of it. But, if you don't want to do your job and are going to let your greed get the best of you, then I would love to see you thrown out on your ass and replaced.

Monday, November 5, 2007

This place is weird

St. Maarten is the only place that I've ever been where it regularly rains while it's sunny! And sometimes, it pours while it's sunny. Today, at least I could spot the clouds where it was probably coming from. But there have been times where the rain just seems to materialize out of nothing. At least it's still warm though, which is something I can't say for home. And, the rain here (other than last week) seems to come and go all within 10 minutes or so. Here's some pictures, all taken at the same time. Notice the sunny blue skies and tons of rain!

As you can tell...I've discovered the camera function of my iPhone. I always wish I had as many pictures to post as Paul, but I don't usually carry around the dSLR. Today, I finally remembered that I do pretty much always have a camera with me! Any requests of things you'd like to see? Just post them in the comments. If they're reasonable, I'll see what I can do.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

An open letter to NetStar

Please, NetStar, do yourself and everyone else a favor and hire a computer engineer! I do not mean just some guy who fills the position of a computer engineer, but an actual computer engineer! Do you not understand how ridiculous it is that an internet service provider does not seem to employ anyone with at least a bachelors degree in computer engineering. And no, this is not the same thing as information systems.

Further, it would probably be best for you if you did not have your technicians handle customer service. Or maybe, if you're that strapped for help, at least teach them a couple things about customer service. I really could care less if the technician is tired of hearing from me. I am your customer, and I will continue to call until you fix the problem. Since I am paying your for a service, I will not feel bad complaining if you do not deliver that service.

And while we're talking about service, I also don't care what excuses you want to give me, there is absolutely no excuse for a google web search to take over 30 seconds to complete! Dial up internet doesn't even take that long. I also don't care if the service is working just fine wherever you are, because it is not working here. As we both know, wherever you may be, it is not the same as where I am. We are on different networks which are given different amounts of bandwidth. So, the fact that it is working just fine for you does not mean that it is working for me.

What you have at AUC is an amazing opportunity to get yourself tons of new customers. Every semester, there are over 100 students on average coming to the island for nearly 2 years. Many of them will begin their time on the island in the on-campus apartments, which you currently hold a monopoly on for internet. If you provide good internet, we'd have no reason to switch companies when we leave at the end of first semester. This means that from each person you impress in the dorms, you'll likely make an additional couple hundred dollars during their time here. As it stands now, I'd be very surprised if a single AUC student chooses to remain with NetStar when we leave the dorms. While your tech may not care about this (and I know he doesn't, because I've heard him say he hopes I get CaribServe), your sales people and management certainly should!

Let me make this very clear for you. You are losing tens of thousands of dollars because you cannot provide adequate customer service or adequate internet service. Stop telling your customers that they're lying to you (even if some of them are), stop accusing them of just downloading too much porn (because some of us don't), and just fix the problem. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, there is a problem, make no mistake.

Why do I have to explain these basic concepts to you? Must you be so extraordinarily dense and insensitive to your customers' concerns? Fix the problems, respond to your customers, and stop sending your business into obscurity as everyone switches to CaribServe. Because, we are switching to CaribServe, and if anyone is not aware of why they should, I am just one of many AUC students that would be more than happy to fill them in.

Poor chair

Today, I went to Zee Best for breakfast. If you have not been there, I highly recommend it. Pretty much all of the breakfast stuff there is good. They also have amazing fresh squeezed grapefruit and orange juice. But, the real reason I am writing this post is because today at Zee Best, I witnessed something that I did not think happened in real life. A rather large man (probably 300 pounds, minimum) sat down and within 5 minutes, the chair buckled under his weight, losing one of its back legs. It was a little funny (if you think you disagree with me, you're just lying to yourself), but mostly I felt bad for him because he was an older guy. I felt a little less bad for him when I saw what he ordered for breakfast. Fortunately, he didn't get hurt.

Not 10 minutes later, another man, easily twice is size and half his age, came walking in. I wanted to wait for his chair to break too, as I'm sure it was only a matter of time, but we didn't stay long enough to see it. We did stay long enough though to see him pack in a few danishes, surely not helping the matter.

For now though, back to studying for the rest of the day. I need to be totally caught up when I go BACK TO THE US THIS WEEKEND!!! Going back to the US is always extremely exciting, especially because I can't wait to see Heather in Florida!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I'm thinking of generating my own power

Because AUC can't seem to pull it off! If you're coming here next semester, make sure you bring a flashlight! This is now the third day of frequent, unannounced power outages, affecting only the AUC campus. Apparently, they're having a lot of trouble figuring out how to make their generator work...3 days worth of problems. Fortunately, the outages also happen during class, because it's hard to study a lot of information in the dark. Last night, I spent 1/2 hour studying in the dark, by wind up LED lantern light.

This is ridiculous. Did I mention that AUC has yet to offer an explanation, apology, or time frame for getting it fixed?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My next 3 weeks

Will consist of not much other than studying. After a very strong last 2 blocks, I finally let my confidence get the best of me. While I studied consistently every day when I got here, that was not the case for the last block. I did study a lot towards the end, but it was already too late. My mistake was taking nearly a week off from studying after the last block. I figured that i was doing well, we don't do as much the week after the block, so I could take it easy a little and just catch up later.

Well, if you haven't been in med school yet, please take my word that you cannot catch up on a week of medical school. It's just not going to happen. So, I spent the last two weeks trying to catch up constantly, instead of getting ahead in the new work. End result...I did not do well at all on the last exam. I did still pass everything, which was far from the case for everyone, so not doing well is relative. But, all that matters to me is that I know I could have and should have done a lot better.

At least now, I know that I can't take any breaks like that again. I know what works for me now and what doesn't, so I'll just use this as a learning experience. Now, I just have to study every night again, like I did for the first block, and destroy it again. Honoring is still a possibility, if I can keep up my performance from the first two blocks.

In other news...Leopard (mac's new OS) is now on its way here!! I'm very jealous of the people in the US that already have it, but I am not willing to download an entire operating system from a torrent. It may be the exact same thing, but that's just too big of a risk for me. So, I can't wait for it to arrive. Sometime this week, I'm also finally going to get around to updating my iPhone to the current firmware, now that it can be unlocked as well. And if you were wondering, enabling encryption for my TV show downloads is still working perfectly. Some others have also tried it, with success.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


It is officially bucketing outside. I use that word because nothing else really conveys what it is doing out there. It's not really raining, because I don't think that there are any individual rain drops. It's basically just a waterfall from the sky. Combine that with the fact that the water is directed to just fall off the roof (no sort of downspout or anything), and it's really pretty impressive out there. Very dark and ominous looking. At least it's raining and warm, unlike home where it's raining and cold. Too bad I left my scuba gear at the dive shop!

OK...back to studying for the block on Monday!! I hope to be done studying tonight, using tomorrow just for review. We'll see how that goes though.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I pay for internet and intend to use it!

When you move into the AUC dorms, part of your housing fee goes towards the internet connection. Unlike in previous semesters, you have no choice of service providers, or service levels. For better or for worse, you get NetStar's lowest level of service. Actually, you get lower than the lowest, because if you live off campus, you are not sharing your bandwidth with as many people! What we are getting is a maximum of 256kbps, per room. I have monitored my usage, however, and almost never get anything higher than 100kbps, and those are fleeting moments.

To make matters worse, not only are we getting only a maximum of 256, but what we are getting is being "prioritized." This is NetStar's word to describe the method in which P2P applications, YouTube, and some other sites, are being severely limited in available bandwidth. However, "prioritized" is not the correct word to describe what they are doing. What they are doing is throttling our bandwidth...telling us how much we can or cannot use for certain applications. Even if they were to hypothetically allot every student 10mbps (about the amount the entire campus is getting), P2P, YouTube, and some others, would still run just as slow. I find this unacceptable since at no point were we told that we could only use the internet for certain things or given any option in the matter. If I had known about the current internet setup before, I would not have lived in the dorms.

In any case, I have found a solution to the throttling problem (for P2P apps). It's very simple...just enable encryption on your P2P client. If you're using a mac, the newest version of Transmission supports encryption, and does it automatically. If you're not using a mac, get one. Or, use uTorrent, which also support encryption. The minute that I relaunched the updated Transmission client, my download speeds went from ranging around 0.8-4 kbps to 60-80 kbps! Happy downloading...

With encryption enabled, the internet provider does not know what, specifically, your connection is doing. Since, they can't identify it as P2P activity (or anything else that they're throttling), they can't block it. While Comcast has figured a way around this, it is highly unlikely that NetStar will!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I just impressed myself

So I went to get some water to drink and while I was standing there drinking, I glanced over at my jug of protein powder (I know, very exciting). While looking at it, I saw that it listed the amount of each essential amino acid that it contains. Prior to this week, I would have just glanced at it, though "ok, whatever...glad that means something to somebody," and given it no further thought. But, I actually know the structure of all of them and what they do now, as well as why those few are essential!!! Who would have guessed...actually learning a few things in med school!! :)

Block 3 approaching

As Block 3 gets closer (it's on Monday), I'm beginning to realize that I am quickly running out of time. I suppose I still have a decent amount of time, but not as much as I would like. Fortunately, tomorrow we aren't doing much in anatomy, just some x-ray stuff, and we don't have anatomy at all on thursday or Friday. As usual, we also don't have Histo on Thursday. So, not getting much new information will definitely make it easier to catch up. I'm not really far behind, but there's still a lot to learn!

Dr. G (histo) has decided to move waaaaaay to fast through a lot of the information recently. Since he didn't finish the respiratory system last week, he blew through the remaining slides today in about 5 minutes, skipping most of them and saying that he didn't have time for it. I was clearly not the only person in the class who was not happy about this. He also said that he put the review from Monday on the Notes drive, but I couldn't find it there today. Of course, with computers the way they are here, it's very possible that this was not his fault.

On a related note, there have apparently already been over 30 first semesters who have dropped histo!! From what I understand, this isn't the number of people failing (i've heard that number is closer to 50), but just the people who have already dropped!! After looking at the graph of grade distribution in anatomy from the last exam, there are probably a lot of people dropping that class as well. I don't have any idea how people are doing in MCB, but that class had the most people fail last semester, so I wonder if that's the same this semester. This next test in MCB though I think is going to be the first real test of who will or will not do well...I think we've got more and harder info to learn now, and I have heard that two of the professors from this block write very difficult tests. One of the professors said that they think our class will be down to around 110 students by the end of the semester. That would be a very high attrition rate!

I thought I didn't have lab today, but as it turns out, I did! I am very glad that I checked with John before lab started, just to make sure. In lab, I worked some more on the heart, and then cut a flap into the right atrium so that we could start learning the inside of the heart. Lab goes by so much faster and is so much more enjoyable now that we're finally dissecting!!! Now, it seems like there is actually a lot to get done, instead of having to try to continuously figure out new things to do. It will be nice though to not have lab the rest of the week, so that I can spend more time on studying for the block.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dissecting the heart

Today in lab, I spent about 2 hours dissecting out the coronary vessels. It may not sound like a ton of fun, but I liked doing it and time went by very quickly! It is certainly very nice finally having bodies! Dissecting on the heart was a little frustrating because the heart is not very large and likes to roll around a lot, but it went much smoother once I finally got a block of wood to prop it against. Dissecting the blood vessels was also not very easy because they're totally surrounded by very closely associated fat and fascia. It's a little tricky to cut that away without destroying the smaller vessels. But, I got a decent amount of it done in the 2 hours I had. I would up having the L coronary artery, L circumflex, L anterior descending, diagonal, L marginal and posterior descending arteries. I also got the great cardiac vein, carotid sinus, and middle cardiac vein dissected out. If it's not already done when I get back to lab Wednesday, I'll finish up the right side. That side is going to be harder since there's a ton of fat on it!

Now, I'm just wondering what they're going to have us do with the heart. We're supposed to cut it open sometime soon to look at the chambers, but that would definitely not be good for the dissection I did today! If we just keep dissecting everything away, we're not going to have much left for the practical.

Oh, and the TA's did a decent job destroying one of our lungs while they made up the mock. Other people in my group spent a long time and did a good job dissecting out the bronchopulmonary segments, but the lung looks like it's been punted across a football field, at the moment. In their attempts to make the mock a lot harder than the actual practical, they twisted the lung around in all sorts of ways. If we ever run into a patient with a similarly contorted lung, it won't matter if we can identify the structures, because they will be very much dead.

I don't want to blame everything on the TA's and certainly some of them are very good, but this is not the first time they've screwed up a dissection. Some of them have a habit of being way too rough when they're trying to move things away or point something out. The other day, a TA was trying to get to the phrenic nerve (which goes down the side of the heart) and was just basically pulling at it to rip it away from everything else, and didn't seem to notice that he was just squeezing the hell out of the heart in the process.

How to ship (and not ship) to St. Maarten

After a couple of months in St. Maarten, I've tried a few different ways to ship to AUC. Some are fast, some are slow, most all are expensive. But, here's what I think are the best:

If you want something reasonably fast and for not a ton of money, use The Mailbox. You set up an account with them for about $100/year and they give you a US address to have people ship to in Miami. They just pay whatever it costs to send something there. Then, they ship it for you to St. Maarten. They'll ship two pounds/month, included with your membership, and you pay less than $3 for every pound after that for the month. It takes a week or so to get here and they deliver to the school twice a week, or you can go and pick it up in Simpson Bay.

If you want something faster than that, you have to pay for it. Shipping via FedEx or DHL straight to the school is the fastest option. I'm not sure how much it costs, but it is significantly more than using the mailbox, although it's faster.

The worst option is to ship to the school via USPS! First, it's about the same price as using the mailbox. But, it's a lot slower. If you use USPS, they ship it to the St. Maarten post office. And, you want to avoid any kind of St. Maarten government agency at any cost. Not only do they take forever to deliver it, half the time, they don't even deliver it!! They leave a note at school that you need to pick it up at the post office, just to charge you a storage fee when you do pick it up!!!! I know this because I got caught in this silly little scam of theirs today when I went to pick up my new wireless keyboard that my parents had sent. The woman at the post office couldn't tell me why they didn't just deliver it to the school, but I suspect it's just so they could charge me to store it. I have also heard of a few people who have had things lost by the St. Maarten post office.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

back from the US

I just got back in St. Maarten today from my slightly extended weekend home. It was a great weekend and I am not at all excited to be back in St. Maarten! I got home Thursday night, into Washington Nat'l airport, and it was very good to see my parents and Heather waiting for me!

After I got home, at around 12 midnight, Heather and I went to Taco Bell. I didn't really want it that bad, but I wanted to go just because I could. By the time we drove around to the window from ordering, our food was already ready to go! It was absolutely amazing how efficient workers can be in the US! Taking less than 5 minutes from the time you drive up to the time you drive away in St. Maarten is something that will NEVER happen!

The next day, Heather and my mom and grandparents and I went to the Delly for breakfast and then stopped by the Apple Store so that I could get an airplane adaptor for my laptop. I studied the whole way from St. Maarten to MD, but I had to study from the books since my laptop wasn't going to last that long. Again, it was nice to see fast, efficient service and knowledgeable salespeople, since they also do not exist in SXM. The Annapolis Mall's addition is nearly completed and it is gonna be really nice. I can't wait to see it when I go back for semester break in December. That night, we had an amazing dinner at Ruth's Chris. The steak was perfect, as usual, and after eating their creme brule, I will never eat it again in SXM.

Saturday, I slept until like 12:30 and then went to the firehouse to visit. While I was there, they got a call, so I drove the utility and treated a girl who had a goal post fall on her head. It wasn't too exciting of a call, but at least I got to drive emergency and run a call, which I have not been able to do for nearly 2 months. It was nice to stop by...I'll definitely have to spend a couple days there over winter break. For dinner, a lot of my family and I went to The Melting Pot. It's really Heather and my place, but we decided to be nice and let the family come :). If you have not been there...go there.

Finally, Heather took me to the airport very early this morning to catch my 8am flight to San Juan and then to SXM. I've heard San Juan is worse than Miami International Airport, but I find this very hard to believe, and it was fine for me. Although, they could use some more (a lot more) food choices.

So, now I'm back in SXM, wishing i was home and missing Heather. Back to studying I suppose. I'm just about all caught up now in MCB after studying on the plane rides, but I've still got a little Histology to go over tonight.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

sorry it's been so long...

But I've been home in MD for the last couple days!!! I'll post more later about the weekend, but now I'm off to chipotle...with my amazing girlfriend, HEATHER!!! :)

There, she has a name...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Good start to the week

Today was Monday. For most people, this is probably a bad thing. But, not today, not for me! First, we don't have Histology on Mondays (or Thursdays). Any day that we don't have a class is a good day! Also, i didn't have lab. Again, any day without lab is a good day. Lab does go by much faster and is not nearly as much of a waste, now that we've finally got bodies, but I still don't particularly like going. I would probably like it a lot more if we had twice the number of bodies and less people in the room!

But, I decided to go SCUBA diving today with Matt, which is mostly what made the day good. We got out at 10:30 today from class, so there was a little time to study before going diving at 1:30. I went to a place called Dive Octopus on the French side in Grand Case. The diving is supposed to be better over there and I figured I'd check a new place out. Overall, I think I like this dive shop the best so far. It's owned by a husband and wife from Canada who just decided to up and move here years ago. It's not a very big shop and you have to walk out in the water to get to the boat, but I think it's worth it. The water is only about waste deep and it's only as far as you'd walk out on a dock, so not too bad. Apparently, getting permission to build a dock on the French side is not easy. And, to be fair, there were none to be seen close by.

The boat that they use is much newer and faster than any dive boat I've been on before. It's not a very large boat, but it's got two 150hp motors on the back which propel it very fast. And, although it's a pretty small boat, they only take a maximum of 6 divers, which is very nice. Today, the owner was the captain and divemaster. He's very friendly and knowledgeable of the reefs around St. Maarten.

The place he took us today was a reef in Grand Case bay, since it's a pretty shallow reef and we had a snorkeler coming along. He guaranteed us to see a turtle, and we wound up seeing two. They didn't seem to be at all scared and I got the best pictures that I've gotten yet of a turtle. There was also a very large sting ray, but it swam away before I could get a good picture of it. The visibility wasn't amazing since it has rained recently, but it was good enough and there was plenty to see close by.

After diving, Matt and I went to a small restaurant close to the dive shop that the owner (John) recommended. The food was good and fortunately, the local employees are not aware of the horrible exchange rate of the dollar compared to the Euro!! So, they just told us it was the same price, dollars or Euro. Needless to say, we made out very well because of this and a plate of ribs with 3 sides wound up costing $8! The menu actually had prices listed for the drinks the same in dollars or euros, but were assuming this was either a mistake or was for drinks only.

After lunch, came back and studied Histology. Since we didn't have histo today, I am now officially caught up in that class. By Wednesday night, I will hopefully be solid with the other two classes. Only 3 days left until I'm back in Baltimore for the weekend with the girlfriend and family!!! Can't wait for fast internet, good service, and big roads!!


Sunday, October 14, 2007

i'm here

I know I haven't posted much lately, but I've just been usual. Apparently, more people read this blog than I had though, so I'm going to try to make it more about med school and what's going on in my life than it has been. I still probably won't be able to resist a little commentary here and there on things that really catch my attention, but less of it. update:
We're currently studying the thoracic cavity in anatomy. We only had 3 classes this week though (week of an exam is never very busy), so we don't have a lot of work...yet. I'd say i'm pretty much caught up in that class. I did not think I was quite caught up with MCB, but the tutoring session helped a lot. Sunil's tutoring is always helpful because he points out the most important stuff, presents all of it again in a different way, and you just get to see all the powerpoints again. It also comes together a little more the second time around. We only had histology twice this week, but we're doing respiratory tissue at the moment. We also had a review with Dr. G. this weekend that cleared a few things up. I always feel like I'm a little behind, but then it all comes together closer to test time. However, the goal this week is to pick up the studying and get ahead.

The first block, I went into the exams a little bit ahead and it was a very nice feeling (particularly when grades came back)! I did well the second block, but I did not feel as prepared and didn't do quite as well. Since we haven't done much in class yet though this block, I definitely have plenty of time to get on top of things. And, that will begin tomorrow! Then, as a reward for all the studying I plan to do this week, I GET TO GO HOME THURSDAY!!!!

We don't have class on friday because it's Antilles day or something. We don't get off for any US holidays except winter break, but we do get off for the SXM holidays. I'd rather have the US holidays off, but something is better than nothing! I cannot wait to get back to civilization! Roads where you can get up over 40 mph, with traffic control devices, lanes, and parking lots, are very much missed. I also miss internet speeds consistently faster than dial up. And Friday afternoon, you will definitely be able to see me in a Chipotle for lunch!!! Man do I ever miss that place. And, most importantly, I can't wait to see my girlfriend and family again! I definitely took a lot of things for granted before I came here and I cannot wait to get back home!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's the other half I worry about


That is a link to a recent news story, entitled "More than half of straight Americans wants gays treated equally:poll." A more accurate attention grabbing heading ought to have been "Almost half of Americans don't want gays treated equally!" Perhaps the other [almost] half is still under the archaic impression that being gay is a choice. Absolutely, couldn't agree more...if I had the choice, I'd definitely choose a life where people harass you, deprive you of basic rights afforded to a straight couple, and often change their opinions of you as a person. In the interest of not offending too many people, I will leave out a discussion of the popular reasons that people do not think gay people should be treated equally...but I'll bet you can guess.

Now my head hurts...i'm going to study.

P.S. - in case it was not obvious to you (because apparently everyone didn't pick up on it)...this post was meant to be sarcastic. Of course, being gay is not a choice! If you feel otherwise, then you are deluded. There is absolutely no reason in the world that gays should be treated any differently than anyone else and the fact that almost half of americans think otherwise is disturbing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Yay for cadavers!

Today was the first day in anatomy lab with cadavers!! I didn't bother to look at the others, but my group's is in very good shape. Unfortunately, there are only 9 bodies, so there are now 13 people in my group per day, which basically sucks. But, most of them didn't seem to interested in cutting, and if they were, they didn't speak up. So, I got to cut for a good part of the day. The groups yesterday had already pulled back the skin of the thoracic cavity, so today we got rid of a little more skin, and then reflected back the pectoralis major and minor. We wound up getting a very good view of the subclavian artery and vein, which are pretty ginormous! Other groups started cracking the chest, but we'll do that tomorrow. There's only one saw in the room to cut the ribs and it just hasn't made its way to our table yet. So, tomorrow should be more interesting than today.

Other than that, not much happened today. I've got the SGA meeting in about half hour, then i'm heading to the gym, and then it'll be back to studying. We've got some visiting professor for this week in MCB, teaching us about microfilaments and related topics. I haven't decided what I think of him yet, but it doesn't really matter since he's only here this week. Well that's it for about 1/2 hour of studying before SGA.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

2/5 done!

As of yesterday, I'm 2/5 of the way done with 1st semester!! Yes, there is still a very long way to go, but at least we won't have anatomy lab anymore after this semester!! If I haven't already mentioned it, we did get our cadavers (finally)! Unfortunately, there are only 9 of them, and there are 170 people in the class! So, although we do have some, it's not nearly enough. There are going to be HUGE groups of people cutting on them! It could be worse though. Some US schools don't do cadaveric dissections at all. And, SGU (another one of the good caribbean schools) has upwards of 400 people in their first semester class, but only 8 bodies!! So, no matter how bad you've got it, someone always has it worse! The other two lab groups had lab today, so they've begun the dissections. I think this is kind of unfortunate since I honestly do not trust many other people to do a great job. I guess we'll see tomorrow how they did with the first cut.

So about the block... Well, it was definitely harder than the first block! I still managed to do well, but not quite as good in anatomy and histo as last time. But, I am still definitely in the range where I could honor all of the classes, just have to see how the rest of the exams go. Supposedly, head and neck (the last block) was the hardest block of anatomy. If this is true, then I should be just fine! The histology exam was ridiculous! He tested us on the smallest details that he barely even covered in lecture. It was really pretty ridiculous! Especially because we haven't had this professor before, so we had no idea how he'd test. Basically, it was not a test of concepts, it was a test of minutia. Given the ridiculousness of the test, I'm pretty happy with how I did. And, now I know how to study for the next one, so it should go much better.

Last night was an after-block party at Sunset Beach Bar, which is one of my favorite bars on the island. They had half price drinks, which was pretty great considering drinks are already cheap there. I won't get into all the details, but if we weren't getting our grades today, i would have had a lot of difficulty getting out of bed! Today was not one of my better days! But, last night was still a lot of fun, so I suppose it was worth it....once in a while. I hadn't been out since schools started, so i think I deserved it! to the second floor laundry room to put my stuff in the dryer, since none of the machines on the 3rd floor work! Man, I love St. Maarten!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The end is near

The end of studying for block II, that is! This block is head and neck for anatomy, skin, ears and eyes for histo, and mostly transcription/translation of DNA/RNA in MCB. Supposedly, this is the hardest block for anatomy, so we will see. There certainly is an awful lot of stuff packed into a pretty small space. However, on the last day of studying, it finally all seems to be coming together.

I have just officially finished studying histo, for this exam. I've got 3 packets of notes to go through again in MCB, and then I'm gonna spend a little more time looking through all the nerves and innervations of the head/neck. I think I'm going to give myself another 3 hours to do that, and that'll be it for the night! I stopped studying around the same time for the last block, but didn't fall asleep until 2am because I was so nervous!! Hopefully, I'll actually go to bed early tonight. The material is a little harder (more of it), but at least it's not the first exam of med school anymore!

Oh, and a big thank you to the makers of Ritalin, without which I would be in big trouble!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Your body is amazing

Yes, everyone's, even yours, is amazing! I thought that the basic sciences, particularly first semester, would be very boring. However, even though learning it is a ton of work and not always the first thing I want to do, it is extremely interesting. I think everyone knows that the human body is really pretty incredible, but most people probably have no idea of the extent. I certainly do not have the time (or the knowledge, yet), to get into everything that our body must do all the time to keep us alive and healthy, but it's extraordinary. Just as a small example...the DNA in every single cell of our body is actually 2 meters long if you were to stretch it out. However, it is compacted in such a way that it can fit into a small part of a microscopic cell. Despite being so compacted, there are a ton of enzymes, proteins, steroids, and other various things which all work as tiny little machines to unwind this structure, piece by piece, duplicate it, and make functional proteins off of it. And even more tiny machines are involved in deciding just when and where your DNA should be transcribed. And they do it FAST! They rarely make mistakes, but when they do, they can even proofread and fix them, on the fly! Of course, various failures of these mechanisms are causes of tons of diseases. Just in the little over a month I've been here, I've learned enough that I could easily spend all day convincing you how nearly impossible it is to imagine that we came to be. Fortunately, we have had billions and billions of years to evolve to the point that we are at now.

On that note...the block exam is looming nearby, so I should get back to studying! Today will mostly be devoted to molecular and cellular bio (MCB) and histology, with probably a little anatomy thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

more to come...

Yes, I know that the posting has been kind of thin lately, and I apologize for that. It's getting close to block time though and I seem to not have any time! However, once I get through this block, I'll hopefully have a bit more time on my hands! The head and neck is a very large block to learn!!

But, on a positive note...our cadavers finally showed up today!!! There are only ten or so of them, when we really need 20, but 10 is better than none. I also here that SGU only has 8, and are not dissecting at all, even though they have like 400 students! So, no matter how bad you think you've got it...someone else always has it worse!

Monday, October 1, 2007

He said what??!!

I never expected a presidential candidate to reach out and speak so clearly to me as Sen. McCain has just done! He has actually asked me (in so many words), not to vote for him!! Astounding!! If you'd like to see proof of this, look no further than

"I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who has a grounding in my faith," the GOP presidential hopeful told the Web site in an interview published Saturday.

McCain also said he agreed with a recent poll that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. "I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation," he said.

I will let slide the the fact that a serious presidential candidate (and our current president) are sorely lacking in critical thinking skills and have abandoned all logic, in their acceptance of a god. Instead, let's talk about his absurd notion that this nation was founded on Christian principles. Senator McCain, you could not be more wrong! While many americans were christians, many more, including most of the Founding Fathers, were deists and held to Freemason tenets more than Christianity! There is absolutely no evidence that the Founding Fathers ever intended to create a christian nation, as many Christians would like you to believe.

Perhaps Senator McCain has never read the US Constitution, which is clearly a secular document, with not a single reference to Jesus, Christianity, or any imaginary god, of any sort. Here is what it does say:
"Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd say that does just the opposite of creating a Christian nation!

After naturally pissing off a couple of Jews with his nonsense, he went back to correct himself:
"What I do mean to say is the United States of America was founded on the values of Judeo-Christian values, which were translated by our founding fathers which is basically the rights of human dignity and human rights,"
Again, NO...the US was founded on no such values. If you choose to cherry pick, as all religious moderates do, those things in the bible that suit you at the current time, then perhaps his statement has some merit. However, no mainstream religion today has at its core the rights of human dignity and human rights. Conversely, the bible clearly promotes prostitution, slavery, and murder (among a few other similarly horrible things). I am reasonably certain that none of these things, which the Christian God has advocated, were what the Founding Fathers had in mind!

There is a fairly large field of candidates right now and honestly, I'm not sure who I'll vote for. I would like to thank Senator McCain though for narrowing the field down just a bit! You, sir, are an idiot!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mock #2

First, I'm sorry for not posting more often, but the internet has been sucking pretty bad here in the dorms. I really can't wait to get out of the here next semester so I can finally have CaribServe, which is apparently much faster and reliable! It literally takes about 10 minutes or more to stream a 1 minute youtube clip and I have been stuck updating my computer one program at a time since the internet is too slow/unreliable to update everything at once.

Anyway, we had our second mock today and it was much like the first. Meaning, it covered a decent amount of stuff that we have not covered yet and was significantly harder than the actual exam will be. It is harder not only because they give us questions that we are not yet expected to know the answer to, but it's also free response (unlike the real practical) and many questions have multiple, sometimes even unrelated parts (unlike the practical). Also, they'll sometimes tag a structure without showing us where it's going to or coming from, making it even more difficult to identify. Because of this, it's pretty much impossible to get much of an idea of how you're doing so far, making the mock not very useful at all. It's not totally worthless, because I did pick up a few little things in the discussion time at the end. But, mostly worthless.

In any case, compared to others I've talked to, I did very well...better than I did the first time. This may sound horrible, but really the only reason I go is because I do better than most people and when I feel like I've still got so much to learn before the exam, it makes me feel a little better than I'm still ahead of most everyone else. There's no curve in grading and getting into the honors society no longer depends on doing better than your classmates, but as long as class rank remains, there's a reason to do better than others. And, I probably wouldn't even usually care about that, but I'm trying to do everything I can to improve my chances of transferring out of here, so maybe that'll help.

P.S. - to Jay, aka. - anonymous:
Thank you for continuing to visit my blog! Although I will never publish your comments and I'm not quite sure why you continue to waste your time writing them, they are slightly amusing to read. Also, ever since I've installed that BlogRush widget, every page hit I get increases my blog's exposure! So, thank you for helping to bring more readers to my blog! Even if you do continue to hide in anonymity and send comments that will never be posted, I hope you'll keep visiting and in turn, bringing more people to my blog!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Status of med school

Well we're now into the second week of the second block. In anatomy, we're studying the head and neck. I had no idea how many tiny little structures (a ridiculous amount of nerves) were in there! Apparently, this is one of the hardest blocks. For a while, I thought I was a little behind, but things starting coming together today for some reason. Tomorrow will be a big anatomy study day for me though, so that will probably help a lot. Also, like usual for friday, we don't have anatomy tomorrow, so we won't have any new material. So, I'll be able to spend the whole day just reviewing. We also had histo today instead of tomorrow, so we won't have anything new there either!

Speaking of Histology, our new professor (not new to the school, just us) Dr. G., is hilarious!! I don't know if it's because he's got a strong accent or just because of the degree to which he is inappropriate, like all the time, but probably just gets away with it because of his accent! He's already taught us how to make a "hormone" and he had way too many gratuitous pictures of breasts in the lecture today, along with plenty of jokes for them. I'm not complaining, but it was like every other slide! Although, we were studying breast tissue today. Also, in case you didn't know, melanin covers the nucleus of epithelial cells over the apical surface, "like a little hat, it's kind of cute!" Lots of histological slides are very cute to Dr. G for some reason.

MCB is coming along and i think I'll do well again, but it's very difficult to stay awake while Dr. V. lectures! Thank god I've we've got tutoring with Sunil on Fridays to fill in anything I miss! Sunil is probably the best tutor we've got for first semester, definitely knows his stuff He's sort of all over the place on stage ;) , but he does a very good job of highlighting what's important for the exams! The anatomy tutors are also good, but too many people show up and crowd around the dissecting table, so I don't bother to go. I really wish we had smaller classes!!! 170-something is too big, really too large for the anatomy lab to hande! I don't know how they're doing it at Ross and SGU with twice as many people! Oh, and in case you were wondering...a month into first semester and we still don't have cadavers! I really don't see any acceptable excuse for that. Oh well..nothing to do about it now, i suppose. In reality, even though there is plenty to complain about here, the quality of education is very good and we have some excellent professors. I'm certain (and from what i've's true) that we'll be at least as prepared as all the students from the US schools when clinicals begin. It may be easier to get in here, but it is not any easier to stay here and do well!

It has arrived!

After waiting for the past couple of months (very impatiently), since the day they officially announced the iPhone, mine finally arrived in St. Maarten! I don't know that there's ever been a package that I've anticipated so much! If you don't know by now, I am a bit of an apple fanatic, but the iPhone is the most amazing piece of technology that I have ever held in my hands. If you have touched one, then you may know what I'm talking about. However, if you've only seen it in pictures or heard about it, you have no idea of it's greatness! it really is somewhat magical when you use it.

In any case, it took me about 3 hours to unlock because of the painfully slow internet connection at school. However, the actual unlock process only took less than 1/2 hour! As soon as the unlock program had completed its thing, I stuck in a Chippie SIM card (the local cell provider) and it worked immediately, with full service. The only thing that obviously doesn't work is the EDGE network and visual voicemail, which are both dependent on AT&T's network. However, everything else works perfectly! Thank you soooo much to my dad for getting it for me! If you want one of your own, I can tell you how to unlock it, it's really pretty simple.