Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dell's Answer to the MacBook Air

I can sew...people!

Today, I went to the Phi Chi suture workshop. Although I usually help teach the Phi Chi workshops, I have never sutured, so I was a student this time. The day started with breakfast in LH1 at 7:30 PM. I never thought that I'd be up that early on a weekend, but I think the workshop was worth it! After a very short presentation by the new anatomy professor, we headed to the anatomy lab to really learn and spend a couple hours practicing. By the end of the day, we learned four different techniques to suture, all useful for different injuries.

Suturing was not terribly difficult, but it definitely does take practice. I could tell that I had improved considerable by the end of the day. And, until I remembered that my patient was no longer alive, I almost felt like a doctor! We learned one technique used by plastic surgeons (or friendly/patient doctors) and my suture almost looked worthy of a plastic surgeon, if I do say so myself. However, it probably took me way longer to pull off than it should. In then end, you do not see any suture marks (it's all internal), other than a small string of suture hanging out at the end, which falls off eventually. And if you do it just right, you can hardly see the laceration in the skin.

After we finished practicing for a couple hours, lunch was provided from BB's. I am not entirely convinced that I won't have food poisoning tomorrow, but it did taste better than the last time I ate lunch there. The new anatomy professor is fantastic, btw! He's actually an MD, which is a very nice change of pace, and he's great in lab. The first semester students and TA's, who have him in lab regularly, seem to agree.

Dodgeball Pics!

As promised...all of the pictures from dodgeball have been uploaded to my flickr gallery, which can be found here. Just click on the Dodgeball set on the right hand side of the page to go to the gallery. Here's a couple of them to get you started:

Friday, March 28, 2008

Delusions? No, I think not!

Stolen from Vince, who stole it from someone else ;)

The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?

A little odd since I don't drink anything but water, but ok.

Someone's gonna die

and unfortunately, AUC doesn't have any sort of equipment to try and save them. For a medical school, AUC is very low on medical supplies! In any case, AUC recently put up this scaffolding, which looks extraordinarily unstable, and then they slung up some caution tape around it. I have no doubt that if anyone attempts to climb it, it's gonna fall down and they're gonna die. Not to mention, it's still about 15 feet lower than it needs to be, so they're gonna have to build even more scaffolding on an unstable base. I am a little impressed though...I had half expected to see one guy standing on the other's shoulders to get the job done.

If they want to make the school prettier for the upcoming graduation, they probably should have started by taking down the gold painted steering wheel covers (and everything else gold) inside the rotunda! See my recent gym post to get an idea of what the decorations all around campus look like. There is also apparently a picture of the last feast, featuring a picture of the golden chancellor's head just above it. If I can find it, I'll definitely get a picture of it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stupidity knows no bounds

If you needed just a little more proof for the inherent dangers of religion, how's this for you:
Police: Girl Dies After Parents Pray for Healing Instead of Seeking Medical Help

This 11 year old girl was unfortunately murdered (make no mistake, she was murdered) by her parents when they refused to seek medical treatment for her diabetes. This girl was sick for about 30 days, before she finally died of diabetic ketoacidosis - a problem which could have been treated VERY easily, with just a little insulin.

Why do the parents think she died, you may ask? Well, her parents, who are genuinely out of touch with reality or any modicum of sanity, attribute the death to "too little faith!" Yes, they believe she died because they didn't pray hard enough; not because of her totally treatable medical condition! And, to further ingrain the nearly incomprehensible stupidity of her parents, the girl's mother believes that she could still be resurrected!!

What is almost equally as infuriating is the fact that their inept police department has decided to leave the girl's siblings (she has 3 of them) in their parent's custody!! They do not feel that there's any reason to remove them and state that they don't see any signs of neglect or abuse! is this possible, that parts of our society have stooped to such a mind numbingly low level? The fact that this girl died of a perfectly treatable problem, because her parents are insane, is not a sign of abuse or neglect? Are you kidding me? It's time to wake up, America.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Can someone tell me how this happened?

If you weren't reading the news a while back, you may not have read that pilots can now get approved to carry guns, just in case some crazy terrorist tries to break through the cockpit door. Well today, we get to see why this is not a good idea. Somehow, one of the guns managed to "accidentally fire," during the final approach of a US Airways flight. This leaves me with a couple of questions.

First, why did the pilot have his gun out of its holster during final approach? I suppose that he could have opened his window (yes, cockpit windows can open) and went hunting, but I would think that at that particular moment, he may have had better things to do. If he did not have the gun in his hand, why was it so poorly secured? And, how can they say that this was never a danger to the plane or the passengers? Is it not conceivable that the bullet could have fired through some very important avionics...or maybe the pilot's head? I don't know a lot about flying a plane or pilots having guns, but it seems like something is not being done properly. Who would have thought that the person I had to worry most about shooting me would be the pilot? Here's the link.

Back in Hell...

Or, at least, my closest approximation of hell. I just arrived back in St. Maarten at about 2:00 this afternoon, after a very early (4am) start to traveling. I have only been here a couple hours, but I already miss the wonderful land of customer service, high speed internet, and paved roads, that I will not be seeing again for another couple of weeks. The people who come here on vacation and decide that this would be a great place to live are seriously crazy.

Sorry for the long gap in blogging, but I didn't really have a lot of time to do anything on the internet while I was back in the US. Heather and my family kept me pretty busy during the little time that I had at home. Happy Birthday to me, btw! My birthday was on Easter Sunday...I was born on the same day as all those crazy catholics believe Jesus was resurrected. Coincidence? I think not! Also, happy birthday to the ex-awesome MCB tutor, Sunil, who's birthday is today!

To all the people who have been asking...I'm sorry that the dodgeball pictures aren't up yet, but there are over 400 of them and they take a while to get through! Give me another couple days and I promise they'll all be online! For now though, it's time to get back to medical school reality...we have two quizzes tomorrow (no, our teachers are not very nice or considerate of our breaks) and I did not study one tiny bit this weekend, aside from the plane rides. Fortunately though, I was mostly on top of everything before break, so i should be ready to go by the end of the night.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Spring!

That's really all I had to say for tonight...Happy Spring!!

Going home tomorrow though for Easter and my birthday! Woohoo!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Sorry, I know I've been a bit of a bum with the updating lately. In any case, the Phi Chi dodgeball tournament was this past Sunday. It wound up being a very nice day for dodgeball: warm, but not too hot. Again, I was asked to be the official photographer for the event, and I said OK. I wound up taking about 450 pictures, so they're going to take me a while to sort through and edit. So far, I've gotten through almost 200 of them. I'll post a few of them, along with a link, once I get them onto Flickr, it might be a week or so.

For those of you not yet on the island, the Phi Chi dodgeball tournament happens once a semester and is open to anyone. You just need to find a team, pay the admissions fee, and have fun! The fee is only a couple dollar a person, and your team gets to make a shirt, so it's a pretty good deal. The faculty always has a team too, and they're fun to watch. This semester, the faculty played 3 matches, and actually won one of them! Dr. Behrisch was pretty fierce, but also made himself an obvious target. Dr. McIntosh was out almost before it even started! I have a great picture of him rolling around on the ground somewhere, but you'll have to wait a couple days. I think there were around 10 teams playing this year.

Here's one picture to hold you over. It's just a panorama that I stitched together in Photoshop from 4 different photos. The newer versions of Photoshop have a very good tool for doing this, so it only took about 2 minutes to put together!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rednecks Rejoice!

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It's a car, it's a pickup,'s a 2010 El Camino, and it's ugly as hell! Had I been alive when the El Camino were popular, I probably would have been glad to see it go. However, GM has decided to bring back this atrocity and make it a Pontiac. Until you get to the B post (the area just behind the passenger's door), it almost looks like a nice car. But then, they thought it would be a good idea to throw on the back of a pickup!

I've always thought that most people who drive pickups were a little strange. If you're a construction worker...go for it. But, the vast majority of people that I know with pickups waste a ton of perfectly good interior room to throw on a bed that will never carry anything. But, at least some people think that they look like "a man's vehicle," usually with good ground clearance and a half decent engine. But to put an equally useless bed onto the back of a car? Are car designers getting that desperate that they've decided to bring back the El Camino?

Friday, March 14, 2008

AUC Gym / Art Gallery

photo.jpg on Flickr - Photo Sharing!-2.jpgphoto.jpg on Flickr - Photo Sharing!-1.jpgphoto.jpg on Flickr - Photo Sharing!.jpg
Today, I finally made it back into the gym! I've been saying for nearly two semesters now that I was going to do it, but I'm finally going to do my best to get back into a routine. In the past two semesters, I have deflated like a beach ball, and I'm tired of it. However, every time I step into the gym, I can't help but to laugh a little inside. All of AUC looks as though it was decorated by a blind autistic 3 year old, but the gym is particularly bad.

Fortunately, 5th semester Jack (my neighbor), has taken it upon himself to fix up the gym, and has even managed to squeeze some money out of the notoriously cheap MEAS! When I went in, the gym was kind of a mess because they were supposed to pull out all of the cabinets. According to Jack, they said the job would be done in an hour. But, in true SXM fashion, it was hardly started at the end of the day. Within a few weeks though, there should be mirrors on the wall, replacing the horribly tacky artwork, and 2 flat screen TV's! One can only hope...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

St. Maarten's Finest Vending Machine

I have no idea who put this on AUC's coke machine, but it's pretty hilarious. In case you were not aware, they have recently raised the price of a soda to $1.25. Normally, this would not sound so bad, but at AUC, it is an enormous scam. For some reason, this particular soda machine does not take quarters, nor is it stocked with quarters. It also does not have the ability to return dollar bills. So, although the soda is only $1.25, it will actually cost you $2 since you can neither receive your change nor actually feed it $1.25! Another fine example of why I love this island so much!

In case you can't read the sign, it reads:
St. Maarten's Finest Vending Machine Services
I have raised my price to $1.25 so you are now required to insert $2.00 into my machines. I do NOT give change. I may or may not give you what you want to drink. If I have nothing for you to drink, I keep your $2.00. I love medical students. They keep giving me money.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Studying paying off...again

Congratulations to Vince, one of my favorite bloggers, for passing Step 1!!!!! I'm counting down the days...

If I were not so lazy, I'd link to his blog in the post. But, instead, you can just scroll down an inch or two and click his link on the right side of my blog.

Studying pays off!

Who would have guessed....if you actually keep up and study regularly, you get good grades! To be honest, walking out of this set of block exams, I felt terrible. I was almost positive that I had failed MCB, I thought I might have failed Immuno, but I thought I did pretty well in physio (my favorite class this semester). As it turns out, I got an A in both MCB and physio, and a B in immuno. I really still have no idea how I pulled that off, but I'm very happy about it! Although things could certainly change after comprehensive finals, I'm currently honoring two out of three classes, and comfortably passing the other. Turns out that what I thought would definitely be my worst block of medical school wound up being almost the best! Looks like I just have to keep up the regular studying.

To add to my current happiness, John recently returned with a new key to my car and I got my financial aid stuff for next semester done.

P.S. - It would seem that many people at AUC are not at all happy if you do well and put it on your personal blog. Last time I said I did well, I got all kinds of crap for it. However, I feel I have a right to be happy this block, and I decided to share. I've also decided that I'm not gonna feel bad about it!

And, for all of the prospective students who read my blog, this is my advice...just keep up! Nothing we learn is difficult, it's just a lot. Study every day, don't fall behind, and you should do just fine. In my opinion, that's really the only secret to doing well.

Poor Car :(

This is my poor car...stranded on the side of the road by Mullet Bay Beach. Why is it stranded on the side of the road? Well, that's a very good question. It's stranded there because I was weak and allowed John to use my car, although he should have had his scooter fixed a week ago. So, he took my car to the beach, and lost my keys somewhere in the sand. As we speak, a locksmith is attempting to make a new key for the car.

Apparently, this locksmith thinks I'm an idiot, because he told me that he'd be a while, so John and I should probably just leave and he'd call when he is done. He actually thought that I'd leave my car, and all of the stuff inside of it, alone with a sketchy island guy who knows how to make a key for it! Since that definitely was never gonna happen, John is there with him now, waiting for a key to be made. I almost feel bad for John though, because a key and remote are being ordered from the Toyota dealership back home, and the remote alone is about $180! Hopefully though, in a little while, my car will be safely back at the apartment, with a temporary key.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Time Stands Still

snapshot or movie.jpg
Slowest employees in St. Maarten on Flickr - Photo Sharing!.jpg
What you see here are very possibly the slowest employees in St. Maarten, or maybe even the world!! They are working (i use that word very loosely) at the Quiznos in the airport. They are pretty notorious for their slow service, but this time was special. I really did not think that people could move this slow. I have attached pictures, but they could have just as easy been 30 second movie clips and you wouldn't have known the difference. It's actually more exciting to watch paint dry than to watch them attempt to work. It's like you're watching them, and you know that they're doing something, but you just don't see anything happen. It's really a lot like watching a flower know that something's happening, but you just don't see anything move unless you sit around and watch for a long time. Today, it took nearly 20 minutes for them to complete the 2 orders in front of me. Is it possible that there are slower people working somewhere else? Probably not. I used to think that the Popeyes restaurants back home had the worst employees ever, but you are looking at the new face of slow.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Block 2 - check

We just got through with our 2nd of 3 blocks for this semester. Since the first block was a couple weeks longer than the second two, that means that we're over half way done second semester, and one step closer to being back in the US!! We haven't gotten our grades back yet, but I think exams are a lot harder this semester, likely because there are only 3 instead of 5. I still could be doing more studying that I am, and will be doing more for this final block, but I am studying as much as I did last semester and not feeling as good about grades. I did honor one exam last block and nearly honor another, but I should have done much better on the third and I have no idea how I did today.

The MCB exam today was somewhat ridiculous. The questions were difficult, but the biggest problem is that we were not given enough time. This is the first time that I have not finished the exam without LOTS of time to spare. In fact, I didn't even get to finish two of the questions. And, other people I've talked to (who also always finish on time), didn't get to 10-15 of them! There were a lot of genetics pedigrees, which are not very difficult, but just take a while to look through. Hopefully though, I'll come out with a decent grade in that exam. The other two, I have absolutely no idea how I did. So now, just playing the waiting game until tomorrow or Wednesday when we get our grades.

Virgin Mary is in the Sun!!!

It's true...she's there. You just have to stare very hard and do it for a long time. Seriously, if you believe that there was ever such a person as the virgin mary, I suggest that you go outside while it's still light, and gaze into the sun for a while.

That's exactly what about 50 people in India did. And now, because of their ridiculous beliefs, they're blind. But, you don't have to take my word for it. If you believe that she's real...go look at her. Don't forget to let me know what you see.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Getting Pregnant?


I'm currently studying genetic counseling, for the block exam on Monday. This is what I've learned so far:

There are only 6 states that screen newborns for all 29 core conditions, which are relatively common and can be safely tested for. Those places are DC, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia. Glad to see that my state is on the list! As for why the other states don't test for all of them...your guess is as good as mine.

And the worst states, testing for less than 10 core conditions? Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Maybe it'd be best to cross the border for your prenatal care.


I just got through reading another news article which really makes my blood boil. It's called "Cervical Cancer Vaccine Not a Simple Choice" [link]. However, the title is a little confusing to me, as it's not a difficult choice at all. Before I tell you why it's such a simple choice, I should point out that every year, there are 11,000 new cases of cervical cancer and 4,000 women die from it. In fact, 50% of all women who have sex will get this disease, in one form or another, at some point in their life. And what are the side effects of this life saving vaccine? Pain at the injection site and dizziness. Also, as with all injections, there is a possibility of fainting. Considering the fact that this may PREVENT YOU FROM GETTING CANCER, i'd say the side effects are pretty benign.

So why, you may be asking, would anyone have a difficult time making this decision?'s recommended that girls get this vaccine when they're 11 or 12 - most likely before they're sexually active and before they've been exposed to the disease? So, what's the problem with that? Well, the first minor problem is that some people don't want to think about their little girl having sex. This is reasonable, but I hope an easy concern to overcome when you consider the reality of the situation, and the fact that you're reducing her chances of getting cancer! The next reason is the one that really gets me going.

Sometimes people ask why I am so against religion. Aside from the obvious reasons that it's nonsensical, slows scientific progress, and is a waste of time, perhaps the biggest reason is that IT KILLS PEOPLE!! And this is the perfect example! Parents are not letting their children be vaccinated against a disease WHICH CAUSES CANCER because they think it might encourage them to have sex, which of course is frowned upon in the church. Let's ignore the fact that protecting them from one particular cancer causing virus will not protect them from all of the other STD's or unplanned pregnancy, and thus should not make them any more likely to have sex. Even if it were going to make a girl more likely to have sex at an early age, wouldn't you rather them have sex than get cancer? Of course, this conclusion is reached through logic and reason, something which is sorely lacking from religion. Because of these religious nut jobs, legislation requiring all girls in public school to be vaccinated against HPV, as they are required to be vaccinated against many other diseases, was blocked, placing the decision back into the hands of their deluded parents. If you want to kill yourself on religious grounds, have at it. But, denying your children the vaccine for a common type of cancer is nothing short of child neglect.

I'll close with a very good point made by some guy in the article, "How [are you] going to be able to turn to [your] daughter when she's older and tell her, 'When you were younger, I had the chance of making sure you never got a certain type of cancer, and I decided not to do it'?"

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Epocrates and AIM on the iPhone

Apple is currently in the middle of a big iPhone announcement. So far, they've already announced exchange support and push e-mail, calendar, and contacts. This may not be a huge deal to you (although push e-mail is nice), but it is a HUGE deal for businesses and was probably the major hurdle keeping business users from adopting the iPhone.

But, the bigger announcement is the availability of the software developers kit, allowing outside developers to create applications to work natively on the iPhone! So far, just in their demo, they're already shown an iPhone version of AIM, the new game Spore, and Epocrates!! The fact that epocrates is now on the iPhone is probably going to be a very big deal for healthcare people. People have been asking about it for a long time on the Epocrates website, but now it's finally here! So, if you haven't already, now's a good time to buy a new phone!

OK, time to start studying. Lots to do before the immuno quiz tomorrow and the block on Monday!!

Update: Unfortunately, they're only releasing a beta version of the SDK right now, so that "thousands" of companies can start developing today and give feedback. However, consumers won't see this until June, when it is released as software version 2.0. Still a pretty huge announcement, and implemented better than most people probably would have expected. All software will be released through iTunes or a direct application on the iPhone (like the iTunes mobile music store). Developers have a choice of making you pay for the programs or releasing them for free.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The block approaches

Our 2nd block exam is this coming Monday, and the studying has seriously started today. Going into this block week, I feel a little better than I did this time. I think that I am currently caught up in all of the classes and I can finally spend a pre-block week just reviewing and learning the new stuff, rather than learning the new stuff in addition to some of the old.

I think the biggest difference for me lately is that I've started paying attention in class. Sometimes it's hard to do since class can be extraordinarily and mind numbingly boring, but it really does help to pay attention. If you're gonna be in class anyway, might as well listen. Now, when I go back to study at night, I'm just reviewing what I've already heard, instead of trying to figure things out for the first time. Eventually, I might stop brining my laptop, since that's my last remaining source of occasional distractions. But then, I couldn't e-mail Heather! :)

OK...back to immuno and physio, just finished MCB for the night.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Today in class, I had what is most likely the best hot chocolate that I've ever tasted. It's from the coffee shop right next to AUC and it is amazing!! They have two kinds of hot chocolate there...a generic kind and this one, with some fancy sounding name. I honestly thought that the "gourment cacoa" was a gimmick, but it's not. Seriously...go buy it, you won't regret it.


Well, at least for this week. This week is one of two of my favorite weeks of the semester...attendance week!! It is during these two weeks that you absolutely have to go to class and make 80% attendance. It is because of this totally worthless rule that we have California approval and most other caribbean schools don't! So, as boring and difficult as it is, just go to class this week! :)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

How to clean a mighty mouse scroll ball

I really like Apple's new-ish wireless mighty mouse, but I do have occasional problems with the scroll ball not wanting to scroll. Apparently, after reading around the internet, the insides of the scrolling mechanism can get extremely dirty and stop working. Searching around on how to fix the problem gave all kinds of ideas, from just turning the thing upside down and blowing, to actually taking it apart and gluing it back together (you're not supposed to take an Apple mouse apart, so it's mostly impossible to do without breaking). Well, nothing that I tried worked, and I wasn't willing to break the thing for a scroll ball, but I finally found a solution that works...and works very quickly!

All you need is one of those lint rollers with the sticky tape. Hold the mouse upside down, roll the ball on the tape for about 10 seconds, and try scrolling again. Now, my scroll ball looks much cleaner than it did and it's scrolling at least as well as it did when it came out of the box.


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Well I'd say that's a wonderful idea. I am a bit worried though about the people who need that warning. Sometimes I think it's best just to let nature take its course.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

From paramedic to doctor

Although I've only been in medical school for less than a year, I can already see the way that I think about medicine changing quickly. As a paramedic, you learn what little physiology they can teach you in the year or so that you spend taking classes on 2 nights a week or so. But mostly, you learn that if you see one thing, you've got to do another; patient has a low heart rate, so you give atropine. Yes, they tell you that it's an anticholinergic, but few people know what this means and even fewer will remember (or care) 6 months later. I consider myself a pretty good paramedic, and I think most people who have been on the ambulance with me would agree, but I cannot honestly tell you that I would have known why I was giving atropine for low heart rate, aside from the fact that I new it acted on something in the heart to bring your heart rate up. I also probably could have remembered the word "anticholinergic," although not given you much of an explanation on what that means.

So finally, parts of medical school are becoming interesting. Even though we haven't done any pharmacology yet, we're doing cardiovascular physiology at the moment, and I could easily explain now exactly why atropine is given for low heart rate, why it helps in heart blocks, and why it wouldn't make a bit of difference in a denervated heart transplant patient. It's definitely a huge change in thinking, and one which opens up many more treatment possibilities. Also, I think that this type of thinking has to make you a better clinician. Sometimes, it's easy to forget things that you just memorized. You may not be able to remember, for an extended period of time, every situation in which you should or should not give a drug. But, if you know exactly why you are giving the drug, then you don't really need to bother with memorizing a list. You just have to know the problem, know how a particular drug works, and then you'll know what will and will not work.

Every once in a while, we'll get a good doctor come through the firehouse and teach us something more than what EMS providers typically know, or give us another way of looking at things. There is one particular doctor who volunteered at Arbutus who was very good at this (he's now an assistant medical director for the county) that I always liked to take classes from. And, while it's totally impractical and impossible for EMS providers to have anywhere near the knowledge of a physician, it is possible for them to start thinking more in these terms as they gain more experience. Hopefully, I'll be able to bring some of this back with me. Now, if I could only find a way to make DNA amplification interesting :/

Oh...and i just killed another bug with my tennis racquet/bug zapper. I really love that thing!