Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Jewish New Years!

My sister sent me this, I thought it was funny: | ecards for when you care enough to hit send | Celebrating the Jewish New Year is licelebrating the regular New Year except we blow into a ram_s horn and have the exact opposite of fun.jpg
Note: No, I am still not any more Jewish than I am Catholic, but this made me laugh

T minus 1 week to block 1

Yes, the first block of 4th semester is only 1 short week away, meaning I'll be 1/3 of the way done the semester, and 1/3 of the way closer to being a 5th semester. Of course, there is a lot of studying to be done between now and then, but time really does go by quickly here. Also, I think I'm in a much better place, as far as being caught up, than I usually am. Since we have two classes which are 1/2 semester (behavioral and pharm), we only have two exams per block, which means a lot more time to study for each. Hopefully this will result in better grades in all of my classes. Back to studying...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tintamarre Diving

Yesterday, I went diving with a couple of friends at Tintamarre island, about 3 km off of St. Maarten. I've never been diving there before, but it was probably the best dive I've done while I've been here and I'd highly recommend that any divers here take a trip out there. As usual, we went with Dive Octopus, the only people that I'll dive with anymore. Tintamarre itself is a small island (about 80 acres) that used to be inhabited and was the site of the first airport in the area, but is now deserted. It has a very nice beach though and I'd like to go back out to visit the island one day.

The first dive was the Japanese Garden. It was the nicest reef that I've been to so far. As soon as we hit the bottom (about 50' down), we saw a nurse shark that was just sleeping under a ledge. I wanted to pet it, but decided to let this one sleep. The reef has a bunch of channels cut through it and varies in depth about 20 feet from top to bottom, so it's a lot of fun to swim through and around. It also seemed to be more colorful than most of the other reefs around the island.

After a 30 minutes of deco at the surface, we traveled to another site on the opposite side of the island to visit the wreck at Tintamarre, which is an old tugboat. It wasn't the biggest wreck I've seen, but it was probably the most enjoyable since you could penetrate nearly the entire thing. It is very open and still very much in tact, so there's really no risk at all of getting lost or tangled in anything. It was neat to stand in the wheel house, where the steering wheel mount is still standing, and look out over the front of the boat. After we had all been through the boat, we explored the reef around the wreck, which was also nice. Sally (our divemaster) found a dead lobster which she stuck on her head. That made me laugh and if you've been diving, you'll know that smiling quickly makes your mask fill with water. As soon as I cleared my mask, she put the lobster on someone else's head and my mask was quickly full of water again. Oh...we saw another nurse shark on this dive, but this time I decided to pet it! It got a little scared and took off pretty quickly, which was unfortunate because I was hoping it would want to play!

The picture was taken by Sally, but not on our dive. She's got a couple thousand dollars worth of camera equipment at the shop and takes some pretty great underwater pictures. If you are looking for somewhere to dive...definitely go with Octopus Diving, and ask them to take you to Tintamarre!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Something is not write here...

I really could have gone for a pepper steak, but I'm not quite sure what a peppar steak is.
And before the e-mails begin, I am aware of the spelling mistake in the was done on purpose. Were you one of the people that thought I did that by accident? Honestly?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

First exam of 4th semester...check!

We got the results back from behavioral today and I am very happy to report that I got a 96%! The class average on the exam was very high though also (87%, i think). Although I have done better on other exams before, this one took the least amount of effort. My advice for doing well in exactly what she puts on the slides. Examples on the exam were very similar to the examples given in class, if not exactly the same. If she gives you a list of examples of primary prevention, for example, know that list.

Also, most of the questions are very subjective, which I'm not at all a fan of. But, this trick is to put the answer that you know she wants, not what you think is right. For example, if she tells you that a patient comes in and says that he doesn't feel he has anything to live for, the best thing to ask him would be if he's considered killing himself. This seems awfully blunt to me, and is not what I'd probably say. But, since I mostly paid attention in lecture, I knew that's what she'd want me to say! There's also a small chunk of the test that is common sense and you'd probably be able to figure out without even taking the class. Finally, it's very important to listen to what the patient tells you and not assume anything. If a patient is afraid of a mammogram because they're afraid it might hurt, the best way to treat her would be to give her pain medicine prior to the exam. The questions does not talk about unresolved guilt, blatant refusal to take the exam, or anything else, so nothing else would be the right answer.

T-mobile G1....FAIL!

T-mobile announced their brand new phone today, the G1, designed to compete with the iPhone. What I cannot understand though is why no company can even come close to matching the iPhone...a device which has now been out for over a year, with very few changes made in that time! Apple managed to come up with the iPhone when nothing even similar to it had ever existed. I don't expect most companies to be able to do that, but they should at least be able to come up to par after the bar has long since been set.

Here are a few of the problems which will keep the G1 from ever approaching the iPhone's popularity:
1. The biggest problem is that it's currently only able to run on T-mobile's network, which is one of the worst networks in the US. The only people that would buy this phone are those already on that network. They are not going to be seeing people dropping their current contracts, like many people did for the iPhone
2. It's UGLY! It's both thicker and heavier than the iPhone, with less functionality
3. No sync for calendar or address book to your better like google's apps
4. The music player is AWFUL! Again, they had something pretty fantastic that they could base their design off of with the iPhone. Why they chose to not even come close is beyond me.
5. No video player built in.
6. Only 1GB of memory built in! The lowest model iPhone has 8GB, with an option for 16. Rumors are that the 8GB is going to be dropped soon for an even larger size
7. I don't like the interface at all, although this is a personal opinion. It looks about 10 years old.
8. You can't even use regular stereo headphone! You either need special headphones or an adaptor. What was the logic behind this?
9. Web browser looks old (like the rest of the phone). Again, this is something that the iPhone has done well for over a year now, and T-mobile has taken a step back. They are missing some of the iPhone's functionality, while adding nothing new.

So, in closing, not even close. T-mobile should be embarrassed that in their attempts to compete with the iPhone, they have released something that is so far from the functionality, design, and ease of use of a device that is over a year old.

Edit: A commenter pointed out a very good point: Although they advertise their internet plan as unlimited, the fine print reveals that they've actually got a 1GB maximum!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Fall!

If you didn't know yet, today is the first day of fall, so happy fall!! Of course, you wouldn't know it in SXM, but it's apparently getting colder back home. In MD, the forecast calls for temperatures in the 70's all week. Not exactly what I'd call cold (although Heather would say otherwise), but it is definitely starting to get colder.

Here in SXM, we're in the middle of Hurricane season. Although there haven't been any hurricanes to come close to us, it has been pretty nasty out lately. It's been raining pretty much every day lately. Today looked pretty bad in the morning, but it's since cleared up nicely. I might even get to take the scooter back to school later for the Behavioral exam. Speaking of behavioral exam...time to get back to studying!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

So many first semesters!!

The White Coat Pictures are still being uploaded! Currently, I'm working on getting all of the pictures of the students up. I'm too lazy to count, but I think there are around 175 of them. Overall, it's about 1.5 GB worth of pictures that need to be uploaded. They should be up by the end of the night, if the internet connection holds out. Here's a snapshot of my desktop while I was working on the post-production stuff (mostly cropping and color correction).
Picture 2.jpg

Saturday, September 20, 2008

CPR and pictures

Today was the first of two CPR classes for the current 5th semester class. When the instructor sign in sheet came around today, it was nice to see that Dr Van der Waag had made me lead instructor (he's course director). Unfortunately, no raise is associated with that title, but they pay us pretty well anyway. We also had a couple of first semester students show up to start training to be instructors. The process is sort of long (you have to teach 3 classes, for which you're not paid), but it's good that they've volunteered since I'm out of here after one more semester! We got out an hour later than usual, but overall, the class went well. Assuming they all passed the written exam, there are now 31 more people walking around the island that are certified in CPR!

Also, the White Coat pictures are on their way up to my flickr site ( They're going to take a while to all make it up (as I've written many times before, internet leaves something to be desired), but they're at least on their way. I'm not too worried about it though since for my white coat, they had a guy come in that took almost a month to post pictures, and then charged you for every picture that you wanted! For this semester, they'll be up within a day or two, and they're FREE! Download them all you want, but please do respect the copyright ;)

here's a few:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Falcon USMLE review

Yesterday I officially signed up for the Falcon USMLE review from May 4th to sometime in June. I was debating just waiting to see what happens with Kaplan (which we get for free), but after listening to the Falcon presentation and talking to some people that have taken it, there numbers just speak for themselves. Specifically, the lowest score reported from AUC students that took it was a 220, with a bunch of people getting 230 of higher. The people who got the 230's were also not particularly strong students in the basic sciences (which was of their own admission), so that gives me a lot of hope. I have a big problem with procrastinating, and I think that the structure of the Falcon class will be necessary for me to do my best. I've never been to Dallas before, but I hope it's nice, since I'll be spending 7 weeks there! Next summer, I'll let you know how it went.

First Semester class picture

First Semester Large.jpg
This is the group picture of the new first semester class at AUC. As you can see, it's a HUGE class. You'll probably need to make your browser window bigger to see the whole thing. This is actually the result of stitching together 3 different pictures, since I couldn't make the whole class fit in one picture (there is a big annoying column in the middle of the lecture hall). I'm still working on finishing up the post-processing of all the White Coat pics. It shouldn't be too much longer.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another mystery diagnosis...solved

While eating dinner tonight, I caught the tail end of Mystery Diagnosis, on TLC. Last time I watched it, John (my roommate) and I were able to diagnose Sjögren Syndrome pretty easily, which made me feel pretty smart. Today, the woman was complaining initially of trouble breathing, and then pain/weakness in her hands. Since it was towards the end of the show, they already said that she had been diagnosed with interstitial lung disease. As soon as I heard the symptoms, I was pretty sure she had an autoimmune disease. In the end, she wound up also having leg muscle pain (which further supported an autoimmune disease) and was diagnosed with polymyositis. I didn't specifically come up with her having that particular disease, but it is an autoimmune disease. Besides, polymyositis is really a kind of cop-out diagnosis anyway (it means lots of muscles with inflammation). Also, if you're not familiar with the show, it follows around patients who have diseases that stumped many doctors and often took many years to diagnose. So, I think I'm doing pretty good coming up with an underlying cause in less than 15 minutes.

Sometimes medical school sucks, but it's always nice to get a little reminder that you are actually learning (and remembering) a lot!

White Coat

AUC's White Coat Ceremony was this past Friday, and not surprisingly, I was asked to be the photographer. It's going to take me a few days to get through all of the editing, but once done, all of the pictures will be available to students on my Flickr site, for free. In previous years, AUC hired a photographer, who then charged a very large amount of money for each picture. I will not be doing that, and in a couple days, you'll be able to do whatever you want with the pictures I took (except make money off of them).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Where are all the good handymen?

There are times when I get very frustrated living on the island, and now is one of them. Our internet is currently crawling along at speeds just above dial up, and we haven't been able to do laundry in over a week now! This time last week, we had one washer and dryer, but the dryer broke. At the same time, the landlady bought a new washer and dryer, to be in addition to the old one. Unfortunately, she bought a very inexpensive model, with no controls to adjust water or air temperature, meaning I probably won't be able to use either one.

Finally, after a week, someone came to hook the new dryer up today. They did a very poor job though and it blew the fuse 5 or 6 times, and now won't work at all. The old dryer still has yet to be fixed. If anyone on this island can reliably fix these issues, please get in touch with me!

Cadavers have arrived!

The first semesters last semester never did get any cadavers for Anatomy lab, which made a lot of people pretty upset. But, they have arrived in time for this semester to start, and it looks like they've got enough now to last them a while! The container just arrived today, so they should start showing up soon on an anatomy table near you. I'm sure the first semesters (and from the looks of it, the January first semesters also) will be very appreciative that Dr. Nash was able to come through for them this semester and make cadavers happen.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Is iTunes' new "genius" really genius?

Apple - iTunes - What’s new in iTunes.jpgIf you're not as crazy about Apple as I am, you may not know that iTunes was updated to iTunes 8.0 today (along with a couple new iPods). One of its features is a new smart playlist called "genius." You just click a song and it creates a whole playlist of similar music in your library. It also recommends other music from the iTunes store that you don't own.

I was honestly very skeptical of this feature, but it's pretty damn amazing. The music that it find is right on with whatever song you picked. If you want to listen to dance music, find a song, click genius, and you've got a whole playlist of it. If you want something relaxing, click another song and get a new playlist. Try it out, you'll probably be surprised. It's very good to help you find old music that you like, but forgot about, or just never listened to very much. It also has a new view mode that is much better than anything iTunes has had before. If you haven't already, download it now!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Blood alcohol above .08? maybe?

The upstairs neighbors had a big party at our house a couple of nights ago. I don't know for sure whether this is or is not an indirect result of that party. All I can say for sure is that this car was not there the afternoon of the party, and it was there the morning after the party. This is not taken from a great angle (again, shot on my iPhone from my scooter), but the front of the car hit that wall pretty hard. In case you were wondering, the wall won.

The morning commute

So I've definitely done my share of complaining about various things on the island that I don't like. However, there are also definitely some positive things. Take, for example, my drive to school in the morning. I just snapped this with my iPhone, so it's not fantastic quality, but it's what I see every morning as I make my way to class. It will be even nicer when the construction is completed (which may be a while), but it's pretty nice as it is. More often than not, it's nice out, so the scooter ride to and from school is usually a very enjoyable break from everything else.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Best ab workout ever....


Yesterday at the Phi Chi / AMSA Welcome Back BBQ, Kent and Chuck showed up with the AUC Kayak Team's surfskis for people to try out. I've been meaning to do it for a while, and finally got the chance yesterday. When you see people who know how to use them paddling, it looks very easy. However, as everyone who tried them found out, they are incredibly difficult. You basically sit on top of them, with just a small depression to sit into, and they're only about as wide as a normal sized person. They are very possible the most unstable craft that I have ever been in (or on). According to Kent (pictured above), who tried to teach me how to use it, I did very well for a guy on my first try. I was able to get into the boat (which is a lot like pulling yourself onto an unstable pool ledge) and sit up and paddle a little, as long as I kept my legs hanging over the sides of the boat. As soon as I tried to put my legs inside the boat on the rudder pedals, it was all over. For the rest of the people who were able to make it as far as I did, this was the common theme. I didn't see anyone (outside of Chuck and Kent) that could do it for more than 10 seconds, which is about how long I managed to stay upright once putting my feet in the boat.

Basically, the thing has no desire to stay upright once you sit in it. It barely stays upright with nobody in it, so once you get in there and raise the center of balance a little, you better be ready to work! It's a constant ab exercise, trying to keep the thing stable. We were not helped any by the fact that we were in Mullet Bay, and there were lots of waves from the Hurricane that recently passed. When I finally gave up, I barely thought I'd be able to make the short swim back to shore, and pretty much collapsed on the beach. However, it was a lot of fun and I'm definitely going to try and get back out and try again in calmer waters. Kent says that it takes a couple days of practice to get the hang of it. It seemed like everyone else also had a good time trying them out, so thanks to Ken and Chuck for bringing them out! If you're at AUC and want to try, just shoot them a message and I'm sure they'll be glad to take you out.

They're actually training for a race from St. Barths to St. Maarten (I think it's around 28km or so). Good luck to them, but I think I'll have to pass :) I could barely even paddle the thing from 30 feet out in the ocean back to the beach.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What kind of doctor should I be?

Just out of curiosity, I took a medical specialty aptitude test to see what they thought I should be. The results were mostly as I would have expected. Number one on the list was pathology, but neuro, plastic, thoracic, and general surgery were all in the top 10, along with emergency medicine. At the very bottom of the list for me is pediatrics, general internal medicine, psychiatry, and family practice...all things which I could never see myself doing.

If you're interested in taking the test yourself, here's the link:

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cheap food of the day: ribs

So I was told about this a while ago, but just remembered today while shopping...Food Express in Maho has a full, seasoned rack of ribs for like $3.50! I have yet to try it, but it looks delicious, and I hear it is. Assuming it is as good as it looks, this may turn into my new save-money-food. I'll be sure to let you know, along with maybe some pictures.

In other news, I am now an SGA class rep again. It didn't go so well first semester when I was a class rep, but all of that is behind me now and I'm giving it another go as a 4th and 5th semester rep. I think it will be a good time. It wasn't exactly hard to get since hardly anyone wanted to do it (it's probably the most work the last couple semesters), but I'm excited to be doing it again, especially since I really like the current SGA exec council.

Unfortunately, it's remained very gloomy looking outside (maybe because we're currently in hurricane season). Tomorrow is the Phi Chi/AMSA welcome back beach party, but I'm not sure that the weather is going to hold out. I hope it does! I guess we'll all be in the water anyway, so maybe it won't matter. If I remember, I'll take my camera and get some pics of the festivities.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Today is not a pretty day


Not a pretty day at all! I almost took my scooter to school today, but was glad that i didn't, since it decided to pour for most of the morning. It is hurricane season, so I guess nasty days are to be expected for a while. From what I hear, next week should be fun, with a lot more rain heading our way.

As far as classes go, so far so good. Path is interesting, as it was last semester, but not exactly sure how to study for the new guy we have. I guess I'll have to finally read the path book. We found out that the first half of behavioral, which we take this semester, is mostly about doctor/patient relationships and we don't learn about any of the diseases until Behavioral II next semester. While this part may be important, it is also not very easy to stay awake through. Fortunately, it is easier to study, which gives us a bit of a break to concentrate on the other classes. Neuro seems interesting and I like Dr. D's teaching style. But, she puts all of her notes in Word documents, and relies heavily on drawing on a tablet computer, which is awful for those of us with computers. Since so much of what she does in class is done on the tablet, it's nearly impossible to take notes on the computer, and none of us want to pay $150 for paper notes, which means I have to print it all out myself. I am trying to talk to the dean though to see if anything can be done so that we can just buy notes for that specific class. We'll see what happens.

Other than that, it's just good to be a 4th semester. Time to study to make sure I'm a 5th semester in a couple months!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Welcome to the First Semesters

Today, AUC was filled with almost 180 new medical students. As they do every September, they have taken over lecture hall 1, and my class has been moved to lecture hall 2. And for sure, it has never felt so good to be pushed out of anywhere! With them there, it means that I'm officially a 4th semester and only 2 semesters away from being done with the island forever! I definitely remember thinking, a year ago, that it would be really nice to be a 4th semester, but it was so far away. Well, it's hear now!

To the first semesters, my best advice (which I've given many times before) is just to make sure that you study every day and never get behind. Medical school is not hard, it's just a ton of information thrown at you at once. Fortunately, first semester is the easiest, so you get a little time to sort of ease into it, or at least as much as you can ease into medical school. Also, take what most of the upper semesters say with a grain of salt, particularly if they are complaining. For the most part, the teachers are very good, tests are almost always fair, and just about anyone who puts their mind to it can make it through. I have certainly done my fair share of complaining, and then some, but I'm still here, over half way done on the island, and doing well.

Don't be afraid to ask upper semesters for help or advice. We've all been where you are and most of us are pretty friendly! Good luck to all of you and welcome to med school!