Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New happenings around school

Today, the AUC security guards have decided that they are going to begin checking IDs at the gate. If you don't have your ID with you, you're sent back home to get it. Today, there was a line of cars waiting to get in. Fortunately, since I rode my scooter today, I just drove around them (I really love that scooter!). But, since most people don't carry their ID around, since we've never been checked before, there were a lot of people sent home. I'll try to get a picture if there's a line tomorrow.

I think this is the product of everyone complaining about a few incidents on the island lately. Apparently, there has been somewhat of an increase in crime around here lately. But, NONE OF IT was on AUC's campus. AUC's campus has always been safe and I've never heard of a single incident. So, in true St. Maarten fashion, they have implemented a security measure which will likely do nothing. I really don't think that the muggers on the golf course are gonna care that they're checking ID's at the school gate. If anyone actually thought that all of their complaining would bring about a change in the police presence, they were sadly mistaken. So, instead of making anything better, it just made things more inconvenient.

On a more positive note, we had our second MCB quiz today. Barring any stupid mistakes on my part, I probably got a 100% on it. But, I don't know how much of an accomplishment that is since the quizzes have definitely been easier this semester. But, easier in a good way, hopefully not a way that will harm our Step I scores. On the tests now, there are a ton of clinical questions. So, we still have to know all of the various enzymes which are defective in a bunch of diseases, but at least they're not questions of minutia anymore, which weren't helping anyone anyway. It makes learning it a lot more interesting. So maybe, they're not easier, I just like it better?

Finally, BioStats is nearly over, and I can't wait!! Pretty sure she could have gotten through all of the biostats in a week or two if we didn't move so slowly. But, to be fair, I have had stats before. So, it may be a little harder if it was brand new. In any case, starting next week, Monday is the only day that we won't be out of here at 11:20. That will give plenty of time to get home, go to the pool, catch up on some TV, and still have lots of study time. :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

False Advertising!!

Today, I got my new license plates. It's one of St. Maarten's many absurd rules that every January, you must pay about $170 to renew your plates. What I really don't like about it is that they don't care when you actually got your plates, you just have to pay every January. So, I just got my first set of plates (and paid about $170) in September, and now, I had to do it all over again!! Fortunately, the folks from Nagico insurance come to the school, collect your money (along with a small convenience fee, of course), and bring you your plates a couple of days later. This saves the hassle of driving into Phillipsburg and dealing with the hellacious St. Maarten DMV. I can only imagine what that place is like now with the whole island trying to get new plates!

In any case, I think it's about time that they take the phrase, "The Friendly Island," off of the license plates. It really is false advertising. Considering all of the problems that AUC students have been having lately, I would say that this place is hardly the friendly island. If they want to be a little more accurate, perhaps they could consider, "St. Maarten, the slow, inefficient, lazy, uncaring, unproductive, not even always safe in the daytime island." That sort of sounds like a NyQuil commercial, but it's true!

Gotta say though, I kinda like the blue color. It goes nicely with the silver car. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

9/10 doctors agree....

This isn't a political statement on my part, I just thought it was funny, whether you like the guy or not. And, since I'm in medical school, maybe it's appropriate?

Apparently, you guys (and gals) like facebook!

So I've got that little blogrush widget on my sidebar, which is supposed to bring new visitors to my site. Basically, it tracks how many people see my site (and thus their widget) and for every person that visits, I get a recent post of mine shown in other people's blogrush widget. Sounds like a good concept, right? But, nobody really ever clicks through. Although all of my posts are shown through the widget a couple of hundred times, I'm lucky if one or two people actually click through. Mostly, I just keep the thing on there because I like the way they track visitors and they have a neat little graph to look at. Actually, I've posted a screenshot of that graph before when Digg visited my blog, if you're curious as to what it looks like.

Anyway, I haven't had a single click through in quite a while. I guess my post headings aren't interesting enough. But, after writing the facebook post, which has only been syndicated 100 or so times, I've already got a click through! Maybe I'll put the word "facebook" in all of my titles. Interestingly, my visitors also spiked today (yesterday) for some reason. It is very obvious that people stop visiting when I post less frequently. The correlation coefficient is probably like .8, which is a strong positive correlation. I learned that in biostats. :)

Good immuno site

A couple of other second semester students told me today about a very helpful website for immunology. The microbiology department of University of South Carolina Medical School has put audio of all of their immuno lectures online. And, they correspond almost perfectly to ours! It must be nice having a competent IT department, but we wouldn't know anything about that. Apparently, U of MD med school has their lectures videotaped and put online every day! I bet they don't have a silly mandatory attendance rule either, for their graduate students!

Anyway, I listened to a small part of what we've been doing lately (immunoglobulin genetics), and it probably will be useful. Without saying anything mean about our professors at AUC, I wish we had this guy. The other professor that came last semester from a US med school and did part of our embryo block was also pretty outstanding. I'm thinking maybe this is a trend?

Here's the website:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

facebook woes

So in the middle of MCB, this is what I'm thinking about: I'm sick of facebook sending me messages about things that were done days ago. I just got a message that someone wants to add me as a friend, someone that I confirmed a couple days ago. I'm done with facebook e-mails. Can you turn them off? I'm about to find out! Now time to bury my head in Lippincotts. To make up for all this crappy studying for even crappier quizzes which it seems like we have almost every day now, I'm going scuba diving today!! It'll be the first time in 2 months or so, so it'll be nice to get out on the water again! I'm debating not taking my camera along this time, so there may or may not be pictures to follow.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


On monday, we had our second Intro to Clinical Medicine class. I'm still deciding whether I like that class or not. I think that I will, but just not this semester maybe. This semester, the focus is on patient centered interviewing. That's basically the part where you introduce yourself, make the patient feel comfortable, and find out exactly what's wrong with them, but in their own words, and by asking open ended questions. Some doctors forget to do that part, and go straight to asking specific questions about what they want to know. There's definitely merit to what they're teaching us, but it's just not terribly exciting right now. They have us saying things like "We have 10-15 minutes to conduct and interview and in that time we're going to......what would you like to accomplish today?" I think telling the patient how long they have is kind of tacky, and so do a lot of the doctors that are teaching us. But, I guess it gives them a general idea of how in-depth they should be going.

This week, we spent almost the entire 2 hours doing the introductory steps with a mock patient. While being a paramedic has not helped at all in most classes, it is definitely going to make a difference in this one. I think it was fairly obvious to everyone that this was not the first time I had talked to a patient. While most of my group was extremely nervous and some even forgot to ask the patient's name, I thought it was very easy to do. And, while the mock patient had comments for everyone on how to improve, she just looked at me kind of dumbfounded and said, "that was really professional, I felt very comfortable talking to you." So, it was good to hear that 9 years of practice is finally gonna make a difference. Next week, we're spending probably the entire class learning how to take vitals (BP, pulse, and such), so that'll probably be another incredibly boring day.

Despite how boring the class can be right now though, at least we discuss things that are going to matter when we're doctors. And, every once in a while, the doctor throws in a clinical scenario, which I'm sure will become more frequent as we go. So, the class will probably become one of my favorites. At the moment, MCB is looking like it's gonna be my highest grade right now (although certainly subject to change), but man is it dull!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

more photos

So I finally figured out HDR last night, in between a lot of studying for quizzes today. The problem was that I was trying to use the RAW files instead of converting them first, but the program I was using doesn't play very nice with RAW files. So, as soon as I imported JPG's, I got much better results. Here are a couple pictures that I made very quickly last night. They're actually all a combination of 3 different pictures. Since it was windy though, the leaves were blowing a little, and I didn't have enough time last night to take it into photoshop and fix it. Maybe later, if I ever have time.

On a side note, it's very cold in Lecture Hall 1 today! I think I'm gonna start reading Lippincotts in lecture today, since the MCB lecture is pretty useless and if you know that book, you know the test. Time to get to it...

Oh, and what is Dr. B's hang up with "back in your mind's eye?"Sunset Falls2-44_2_3_tonemappedSunset Falls2-47_6_5_tonemappedSunset Falls2-10_9_11_tonemappedSunset Falls2-23_2_4_tonemapped

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Going Away Party

Unfortunately, my friend Mike will be leaving AUC sometime tomorrow. It's a shame that he's leaving because I know that he tried hard here and he's a very good guy. So, a bunch of people went out last night for his last big night out in St. Maarten.

We started at the Tijuana Yacht Club for dinner. They've got good food for good prices, a delicious (and very alcoholic) trashcan of liquor, and decent music at night. I was actually there for lunch too since I didn't know that I'd be heading back there later for dinner! Good thing I like Mexican food!

After that, we headed across the street to The Mansion. The only thing I knew about the place was that when John went there a week or two ago, he woke me up at 3am to tell me about how he got beat up by the bouncers, for no apparent reason. I didn't really believe that there was no reason, until I found out today that two or three other people from my class were also punched by bouncers, for no reason. So, the bouncers suck and should be arrested, but man is the place nice!! When you walk inside, it's like you step out of St. Maarten and into New York or something. The whole place wound up being filled with AUC students before the end of the night. It's a trade off, I guess; you might get your ass kicked for no reason, but you might have a good night in a really nice club.

Anyway, here's a couple pictures from last night. There are 305 of them on my flickr page, so go check it out! We'll miss you, Mike!

Friday, January 18, 2008

just about sums it up

Need more reasons not to vote for Huckabee?

Now the guy is equating bestiality with homosexuality! In a recent interview, when asked if he wanted to bring the constitution into conformity with the bible, he replied:

"Well, I don’t think that’s a radical view to say we’re going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal."

And he actually won a state....unbelievable...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Office: Mac 2008

Microsoft released Mac Office 2008 yesterday and I decided to give it a try. Of course, I have no intention on giving Microsoft $150 of my loan money (which I don't even have yet). So, I didn't pay for it, but it did somehow show up on my computer. Fortunately, I am not currently in a country where that matters much :) In any case, I gave it a quick little try and it looks like they've made some pretty significant improvements. Enough, in fact, that I may switch back to using powerpoint instead of converting everything to Apple's Keynote, which I have been doing. I still like Keynote a little better, but it's really kind of a hassle to keep two copies of everything. And, the powerpoints seem to show up a little better in the new version of Powerpoint than they do in Keynote, which I guess makes sense. So, we'll see how it goes.

If you have a mac and a firewire cord or a very large USB drive, Office: Mac 2008 could mysteriously wind up on your computer, as well.

Minor Details

Unfortunately, I don't have much of anything exciting to post at the moment, but I didn't want to let my blog go any longer without an update, so here it is.

Heather got her wisdom teeth removed today. I feel bad for her because I know she's in a ton of pain. I really wish I could be there, but I guess that comforting her on the phone is all I can really do for now, until she comes to visit for Valentine's Day, less than a month now!!

We've had three quizzes so far in 2nd semester. AUC has gone and screwed up the block schedule pretty badly. Now, instead of a block every 3 weeks, we have them every 5 or so. Most of the teachers, and all of the students, are against this idea. To compensate, the teachers have decided to give us a bunch of quizzes, so that we don't go 5 weeks without any idea of how we're doing. Problem is, they're only a couple questions long. So, while they're not worth much, if you get one or two wrong, it looks like you got a very bad grade! I didn't do terrible on the ones we've had, but not as well as I would have liked. Mostly though, I just made a couple stupid mistakes because I was rushing through them. So hopefully, when the exam comes around, I'll be able to do well. Live and learn, I suppose. I do think I did pretty well on the MCB quiz today though, which was the longest of the 3 (almost twice as long).

My loan check is lost in the mail, or at least that's what I'm saying until proven otherwise! I sent it home via priority mail almost two weeks ago, and it still hasn't arrived. Supposedly, it was FedEx'ed back to the states, and then dropped in the Miami mail, so it should have made it home a while ago. If it doesn't get there soon, I'm probably going to have to figure out how to get it reissued, which I can pretty much guarantee will not be an easy or quick process. I'm crossing my fingers and toes that it shows up soon.

Well I guess that's about it for now. I should probably get back to studying some immunology. Next post, I'll try to have some pictures.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Good news for my paramedic certification

I just found out today for sure that medical school counts to fulfill National Registry requirements for paramedic re-certification. I had a feeling that it would, but hadn't heard the official word from The Registry until today. In any case, I had to send the syllabi to the county medical director and he wrote a letter stating that medical school exceeded National Registry requirements. Now, I just need to get copies of all of my cards and send them into the Fire Rescue Academy to be sent to Registry.

I was pretty worried about that because I obviously don't have time to take a 36 hour refresher class and do an additional 36 hours of continuing education credits while I'm in school. So, if this didn't come through, after 6 years, I would have lost my certification. And, although docs know an awful lot more than a paramedic, they can't ride the ambulance unless they maintain a paramedic certification (since docs don't do much splinting, back-boarding, etc.). But now it looks as though I'll be able to keep it up as long as I want, as long as I send in the paper work every 2 years. No matter how busy I get, I don't have any plans to stop hanging out at the firehouse anytime soon!

Monday, January 14, 2008


Today was our first day of ICM (intro to clinical medicine) and honestly, it looks as though this semester is going to be pretty boring. The entire semester (at least the portion of it that we spend in ICM) is going to be spent on patient centered approach. We don't even start getting into the typical doctor stuff until next semester! The instructors seem very nice and knowledgeable though, so maybe they'll make it more interesting. It's nice to finally have M.D. instructors as well.

My group is in the brand new ICM offices, which are really not finished yet, and probably shouldn't have students in them yet either. It looks as though they quickly painted and tiled the rooms so that we could begin class in their. However, there is no air conditioning yet, and it's still very dusty. The outside is also still entirely concrete and cinderblock. Looking from the outside, you'd never believe that anything is done on the inside. Also, they were not prepared for our huge class size, so there are 14 people or so per group! Oh well, I suppose it's a step in the right direction from how it used to be. At least they're trying. Here's a picture of the room (one of two that is pseudo-completed).IMG_0029_2

Too much money?

OK, so I'm used to seeing the airport overflowing with private jets. Every once in a while, we even get a private 737 (or two at once, last week). However, this is just ridiculous. I'm pretty sure it's an airbus. First, why in the world do you need a private airbus?! Second, what do you have to do to make enough money to afford that?! I'm gonna have to be one hell of a doctor...

[edit] Apparently...Paul and I were equally impressed by the plane, but he decided to do a little more research than me. It's actually a Boeing 767, owned by Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich. In addition to the plane, he has a 177 foot yacht, a 282 foot yacht, and a 377 foot yacht. He's also got a small fleet of helicopters, a 2.2 million dollar Ferrari, and two Maybachs! Sure must be nice! Of course, this 767 has got nothing on Prince Al-Walid bin Talal's brand new Airbus A380 Superjumbo!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

St. Maarten's "Extraordinary Police"

While talking to Paul (of fame) about one of his recent blogs, I decided to take a look at the St. Maarten Herald. Making front page news, 44 civil servants are soon to be trained to become "extraordinary police officers." Presumably, this is to complement St. Maarten's already "extraordinary" police force.

After completing a 5 month course (which, of course, they can retake if they fail), they will be given the "extraordinary" power to issue fines! Yes, you read that right, they will be able to issue fines...after 5 months of training! Fines must be a pretty serious business here in St. Maarten; man am I glad I haven't gotten one of those yet! I will certainly sleep much better next semester knowing that there will be 44 additional "police officers" around, with the ability to issue fines!

I can see it now..."Put your hands out of the window, open the car door, and step out of the car slowly. Get on the ground, NOW! GET ON THE GROUND OR YOU'RE GETTING A FINE!!!"

The original story can be found here.

How bad is traffic?

Bad enough that people get out of their cars and walk where they're going instead. This particular day, we moved about 2 feet in 1/2 hour.

My new apartment

Here's some pictures of my new apartment. After being here for a little over a week now, I'm pretty much settled in and I like it here a lot. The apartment is located in the French Lowlands. We're surrounded by beach on two sides, and a bunch of houses that I probably won't even be able to afford on a doctor's salary, Hugh Hefner even has a house here! Being in a nice area, it's pretty much silent when you walk outside, which is great for studying. The land lady is great, the utilities have been reliable, the internet puts NETstar to shame (not that this is any great accomplishment), and the other people living here (all AUC students) are good neighbors. I know I haven't been here that long to judge utilities, but they haven't gone out once yet, and people living around campus have already had power and water outages. The drive is only about 10 minutes to school (5 minutes of that is getting out of the neighborhood), but it's scenic and there's never any traffic.
1080i 32" TV and PS3, not a bad setup
I know the couch is hideous, but a much prettier slipcover will be here within the week

It's almost too easy

I really feel like I'm cheating when I take sunset pictures's just too easy. Pretty much any evening that you feel like walking upstairs, you can get a great picture! But, I decided to run down, grab my camera (I was studying by the pool), and take these anyway. I'll have some pictures up of my new apartment soon too, probably tonight.
Saba, off in the distance.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Program for physiology

Unfortunately (and very annoyingly), our physiology teacher gives us all of our notes in PDF form. So far, he's the only teacher who can't seem to manage to make a powerpoint. It sucks because it is very difficult to mark up and take notes on, when using a computer. But today, I found a free little program for the mac that makes it much better.

The program is called Skim, and it allows you to highlight, circle, draw arrows, and write notes, right in the PDF. It looks a lot like mac's Preview, but has a lot more features for PDFs. If you're in 2nd semester and using a mac, you should check it out! It's available from

Monday, January 7, 2008

almost forgot...

I just found this picture and realized that I had forgotten to post it here. I took it at the end of last semester from the roof of the AUC dorm building and I kinda like it! My blog can't decide if it wants to be a photoblog, a personal journal, political commentary, etc. etc.....

Some more pictures

Here are some more pictures of the place I now live. As it's called "Sunset Falls," I saw it fit to add some pictures of a sunset. A couple of them are HDR images (3 images combined). Now, it's time to get to some serious studying!
Sunset Falls-5Sunset Falls-4Sunset Falls-2Sunset Falls-1Sunset Falls HDR-5Sunset Falls HDR-4Sunset Falls HDR-3

Sunday, January 6, 2008

My apartment building at night...

Sunset Falls HDR
I really only took this photo to test out the tripod. If you need a tripod, Manfrotto is the way to go! When there's better light, I'll get some good pics of the place.

Stop voting for Mike Huckabee!!!!!

What were you thinking, Iowa? I am proud to be an American and mostly, I love the US. But, the fact that Huckabee is a serious presidential candidate, especially that he has won a single state already, really makes me lose a little faith in my fellow citizens. Huckabee is quite proud of his religious views; religious views which should disqualify him from holding any political office. And, I don't say this because I personally disagree with his opinions, but because he is dead wrong in his views and lacks the ability to tell reality from a fairy tale. There are two MAJOR reasons that Huckabee should not get a single American's vote in this race.

First, Huckabee has plainly stated that all creatures were all created at once and evolution is not the way it happened. Well, I've got news for all of you who agree with him...YOU ARE WRONG. Similarly to the fact that the earth is round and gravity holds us to the ground, this is not up for debate and there is no possibility that you could be right. Humans evolved, and that's all there is to it. This has been confirmed and reconfirmed by scientists, backed up by irrefutable evidence. Conversly, there is not a single shred of evidence for creationism, anywhere, outside of the glaringly flawed bible. Any person who believes in creationism, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, has seriously flawed reasoning abilities and should not be a serious contender for political office. If they can so blindly believe something so wrong as creationism, then who knows what else they are able to doubt. Gilbert Omenn of the University of Michigan stated, "The logic that convinces us that evolution is a fact is the same logic we use to say smoking is hazardous to your health or we have serious energy policy issues because of global warming," A president that does not believe in the evolution argument may not believe in those issues either!

Second, Huckabee, like Bush, is against stem cell research. And he's against it because of the flawed belief that first, stem cells are equivalent to humans and second, that we'd have to produce and then kill new embryos to get the stem cells. The first argument is wrong because, well, it's just ridiculous! If you really believe that the value of a single cell is equal to that of a paralyzed teenager or a grandfather with Alzheimer's disease, then I'd argue that your priorities are seriously twisted. Really the only thing that I question about evolution is the fact that such beliefs and character traits have not yet been selected out of human life! And, the second argument, that we'd be destroying lives, is equally as absurd. I find it both amusing and disturbing that people never complain about in vitro fertilization, but yet this is where the stem cells come from!! Presumably because it's such a nice thing for couples having difficulty conceiving, but more likely because they know that any attempts to go against IVF would be met with a great deal of hostility. I suppose that these people are not aware that in the process of IVF, many eggs are fertilized, but never used. They're simply not needed anymore, once a child is conceived. So, the other eggs are either thrown out, or frozen beyond their viable shelf life!!! Yes, you heard it right, they're THROW OUT or DIE. So, doesn't it make a bit more sense to use these embryos, which will be destroyed anyway, to further certain life saving medical research?

Come on, Americans, stop voting for these people. Do you really want people with these beliefs running your country? Most unfortunately though (and very sadly), about 2/3 of Americans agree with Huckabee. For a developed nation, it would seem we're not all horribly developed.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Right back to it

Again, sorry for the lack of posting. It's been a lot busier than I had thought it would be moving back to the island. So far though, so good. I've moved into my new apartment and the new semester has begun. Thursday was the first day of classes and it looks like it won't be too awful. I think I'm going to like physiology and possibly immunology. MCB is, well, MCB, so we'll see how that goes. I'm kinda looking forward to the genetics part because I liked that block last semester and I like Dr. McIntosh, who teaches it. He's pretty amusing, doesn't take crap from people, and definitely knows his stuff (He worked at Hopkins for years before coming here).

I'm very glad to be in the new apartment, but it's been a bit of a hassle to set up. First of all, running errands here is an all day affair. There is no such thing as just running out for an hour to get some things. Partly because the tourists have made traffic absurd, partly because watching employees work in SXM is like watching grass grow, and partly because you need to go to multiple stores if you want more than one thing. There's nothing here like a WalMart or Target that sells everything you could possibly want. If you need toothpaste, lighbulbs, printer paper, and some food, you're going to 4 different stores herer.

The new place is pretty awesome (I'll get pics up as soon as I set up my camera gear), but unfortunately, it was not cleaned when we moved in. Apparently, every person on the island that cleans apartments was either off or already spoken for over the holidays. I half believe this because people are lazy, but I do not totally believe it because as poor as this island is, someone has to want to work! So, the apartment was pretty messy when we got here, which was a big disappointment. The dishwasher which we were promised has also not been installed, and neither has the new washing machine (there is already one, but she bought a second). However, the maid is coming today and the dishwasher and washing machine are ordered, just need to be installed. So, at least things are getting done, even if they are getting done on St. Maarten time. And, the fact that the land lady just bought me a dish washer because I asked her too is still pretty great.

P.S. - I'm pretty pissed off at the fact that any state in American could pick Huckabee as a presidential candidate (I'm looking at you, Iowa). Why must the evangelicals screw everything up? A post about why you should not vote for Huckabee is probably coming soon.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!!

Well, today is the first day of 2008! That means tomorrow, I'm heading back to the [sometimes] friendly island of St. Maarten for my second semester of medical school. I'm gonna miss everything at home, a lot, but I'm also looking forward to starting the next semester. I think that this semester is going to be a lot more interesting than last. Even though physiology will probably be hard, I think it should be interesting, at least from the scribes that I've seen already.

Last night, I went to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse with Heather, to celebrate the New Year. We had some amazing lobster tail, yummy vegetables, good dessert, and good wine. So, not a terribly exciting New Years, but a good one. Attached are a picture of Heather and I from last night, and pictures of just her, looking hot as always :)
Christmas 003Christmas 001Christmas 004