Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sidewalk etiquette waning

In this, my final semester at Miami, I've noticed an alarming trend: sidewalk etiquette is waning. Granted, it's possible that sidewalk etiquette here has been terrible for the entirety of my Miami career and it has simply escaped my attention until now, but I don't think this is the case.

As I walk to and fro--whether I'm on my way to class, to get food, or to get sleep--this plague of the pavement impedes my path perpetually! As I'm scooting around campus, I frequently see small groups of people, probably friends, who are all walking side-by-side along the sidewalk, unyielding to others--the Manifest Destiny of the pavement, perhaps. Of course, I am not one to deny others the right to be friendly or cordial by urging others to force their friends to walk behind or in front of them in a single-file line. Rather, I am urging others to walk behind or in front of their friends when there are others on the sidewalk who would like to get by without stepping off the pavement. Instead, these clusters of people plow forward as if one monolithic juggernaut, displacing all others in their path off the path. The call for these groups to allow the room for a single person to pass by without exiting the sidewalk would seem to be easy to accommodate.

But what if--perish the thought--two of these sidewalk syndicates come face to face, both vying for what they apparently see as their rightful place on the full breadth of the sidewalk? Would it play out as if a scene from West Side Story? Well, this need not happen. I propose a simple solution to this absolutely simple problem. I call it "proportional perambulation." Are you walking with a friend and you're encountering two other people walking together down the sidewalk? You and your friend get 1/2 of the sidewalk and the other group gets 1/2 of the sidewalk. Are there three of you and one of them? You get 3/4 of the sidewalk and the other individual gets 1/4. Are there five of you and two of them? Well, unless you're on a very wide sidewalk, some of your group may need to lag behind in order for your group as a whole to fit within 5/7 of the sidewalk. Another key component to this is that the fraction allowed for the other group must allow enough room for at least one individual to pass through. These are the key tenets to proportional perambulation, and as college students, we should all be educated well enough to handle fractions. Preach it. Practice it. Be a winner.

Currently listening to: "Cupid's Chokehold" by Gym Class Heroes
Previous activity: My last day of neurophysiology lab
Next thing on the agenda: Watching Scrubs then reading

Saturday, October 28, 2006

So, it's been a while, and for good reason

Since the last time I posted on September 18th, I've been to five med school interviews and have missed countless classes. In fact, during one two week stretch, I attended only a single class, during which I took an exam (Neurophysiology). So how about a quick summation of the events that have transpired?

My first interview was on September 26th with the University of Chicago. Having heard some less than savory things about Hyde Park, the area in which the school is, I was mildly paranoid about leaving all of my stuff in my car during the interview with the thought in the back of my mind that my car may be broken into during the interview, as I wasn't sure how the parking situation might be. Ironically enough, the night before the interview, my car was broken into--window busted out and all--in Wicker Park, where I was staying with a friend. Nothing major was stolen; it really was more of an inconvenience than anything else, with my primary concern being that I may have to drive to Pittsburgh in a couple days still without a window. I've always hated driving on highways with the wind blowing in. It drowns out the music! Nevertheless, the interviews (there were three of them at UC) I thought went pretty well, and I think the admissions committee may have been mildly impressed with me for not flipping out regarding the break-in. I've yet to hear from the school, though, in regards to whether or not I've been accepted, rejected, or placed on a waitlist. I should be hearing something from them in the near future. The Chicago trip was great, despite the break-in. I was able to hang out with my good friend Naynay and old buddy Ryan while in Chicago, and was able to swing by Notre Dame to see my friend Ting on my way home.

The second interview was a few days later at the University of Pittsburgh, a school that I've been quite excited about from the beginning. The interviews all went pretty well, with the exception of one, which was fantastic. It turns out that the assistant dean of admissions, with whom I had one of my interviews, is a big fan of Tool and actually went to their concert in Pittsburgh a few days before the interview. I, having attended my fifth Tool show only a week or so before, was more than happy to talk to her about Tool for about 20 minutes. I felt great about my chances afterward, needless to say, and I've since been accepted, about which I'm absolutely thrilled. While in the city, I was able to visit my friend Danielle and her husband Aaron--I had driven to Maine in June to be at their wedding.

The third interview was with St. Louis University, a school that I've kind of considered my back-up from day one. The interview went well, and honestly, the group of interviewees was really great. It made the day much more enjoyable. I met up with my family, minus my older brother who is of course in California now, which was nice. I've since been accepted here, though I turned down the acceptance after hearing the good word from Pittsburgh.

The fourth and fifth interviews were combined into one trip: first at UPenn in Philadelphia and next at NYU in Manhattan. I loved UPenn. It's probably my first choice overall at this point, and it'll be difficult for anyone to top it. The interviews went pretty well, especially the student interview, but I won't hear from them one way or the other until March at the earliest. Philadelphia was also very nice. I've been there before, but did not really have the opportunity to truly experience the city. I had the opportunity this time around, and was very pleasantly surprised by it. I stayed with my old friend Karla from nerd camp back in the day; she's doing her PhD in Immunology at UPenn now. I was also able to catch up with my college friend Scott, who is at UPenn for his MD/PhD, and my Uncle Mike. Afterward, I hopped a train to Manhattan and was able to catch up with my friend Nancy, who's getting her MD at Cornell on the Upper East Side, and her boyfriend Rick, who's getting his MD at NYU. I was staying with Rick, who made for a really good host, and the location was very convenient for the interview. I liked NYU more than I thought I would, though, admittedly, I didn't know much about it prior to getting there. The interview went very well, and I should hear from them as early as December.

So that's where things currently stand. After hearing from Pittsburgh, I cancelled my interviews at the University of Missouri and Ohio State, and will probably cancel at the University of Cincinnati also. I was recently invited to interview at Tulane, and while I would love to take a trip to New Orleans, I will probably turn down the invitation for time and money constraints.

Finally, my aforementioned friend Ting (who is visiting next weekend!) and I were talking a couple weeks ago and decided on a whim to take a trip to China. The current plan is to go for the month of January, but nothing is set in stone yet. More on this next time.

Also, more as a reminder to myself than anything, next time will include a few thoughts on immigration, a few obstacles to catching up with school work, and music. In the meantime, inform yourself.

Currently listening to: "Helpless" by Faith No More
Previous activity: Trying out a new bottle of wine
Next thing on the agenda: Who knows? Not I.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Updating the schedule

Having received an interview invitation from good ol' Mizzou, and having scheduled my interview with NYU while rescheduling with OSU, here is an update of the travel schedule:

Sept 21 - Tool concert in Columbus
Sept 26 - University of Chicago (Pritzker) interview
Sept 29 - University of Pittsburgh interview
Oct 3 - St. Louis University interview
Oct 7 - friends' wedding in Columbus
Oct 13 - University of Pennsylvania interview
Oct 16 - New York University interview
Oct 30 - University of Missouri interview
Nov 1 - Ohio State University interview

Interviews that I have not yet scheduled but have been invited to: Vanderbilt University

Schools that have put me "on hold": University of California - San Diego

Applications I've yet to finish: Duke University, Emory University, University of Washington

In other news, don't get into a discussion of immigration policy in a class titled "Cultural Diversity in American Film." It will inevitably be the most uninformed debate in which you'll ever participate.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Wisdom from a Shaved Head

A thought crossed my mind recently. Yes, just one. After shaving my head this past May, I have yet to be around too many other individuals with shaved heads. However, I believe it is for the better: if too many shaved heads are seen together, people begin to suspect them to be unsavory characters. A shaved head becomes a Skinhead, with all the connotations that come with it. Remember this nugget.

Also, I hope everyone is tuning in to VH1 tonight at 10pm Eastern for Flavor of Love. This should prove to be an earth-shaking episode, with New York having re-entered the competition for Flav's heart. Last week, when the infamous New York was placed in charge of the house and was to help Flav with that episode's elimination, I found myself repeating uncontrollably, "Oh my gosh, she's such a crazy bitch!" My mouth is certainly one of the cleaner mouths you'll encounter (excluding those of dogs, who have supremely clean mouths), but the woman's irrational knee-jerk antics propelled the utterance instinctively from my tongue. Watch, and you will be convinced of this. Yeahhhh boyyyyyyyy!

Currently listening to: "Chinese Translation" by M. Ward
Previous activity: Researching Mexico's immigration policy
Next thing on the agenda: More research until Flavor of Love

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Toy of the Century

How many times have you found yourself clinching your fist, yelling to the skies, "If only I had a flying screaming monkey that I could slingshot at will!" This all-too-common dilemma has finally been rectified. I just purchased a fleet of five slingshot flying screaming monkeys. I'm quite excited about this purchase, whose selling point was obviously:
As an added bonus, every time you shoot him, he lets out two loud monkey calls. We don't know why he does this, he just does.
Now, naturally, slingshotting five flying screaming monkeys myself would be a pretty tall order; cast out your assumption of a flying screaming monkey Napoleon complex on my part. A number of these are intended as gifts--amazing gifts sure to please. And, as was noted in a conversation with my friend Becky, how can a flying screaming monkey not live up to a 3.99 value?

I've been lazy and procrastinating all day, which means tomorrow must be especially productive. I'm hoping to both start and finish a paper for my North American Politics course as well as to finish my Vanderbilt secondary, so I can finally schedule my interview with them. As they're on rolling admissions, I should have done this long ago. Upon completion of this secondary, I will post excerpts from the autobiography it is requiring me to write.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Real Story

As promised, here's a synopsis of the application process to date:

Sept 26 - University of Chicago (Pritzker) interview
Sept 29 - University of Pittsburgh interview
Oct 3 - St. Louis University interview
Oct 13 - University of Pennsylvania interview
Oct 16 - Ohio State University interview

Interviews that I have not yet scheduled but have been invited to: Vanderbilt University, New York University

Schools that have put me "on hold": University of California - San Diego

Applications I've yet to finish: Duke University, Emory University, University of Washington

Mind you, when I was beginning this process, I didn't really plan on hearing back from any schools until sometime in October, so having these interviews scheduled already certainly puts a smile on my face. The hard part, of course, is the travel time that will take me away from classes and coursework at Miami. From September 21st until October 4th, for example, I will only be back at Miami for one full day, due to traveling for interviews, visiting friends in random cities, and a concert. Needless to say, it'll make my current classes more challenging.

Currently listening to: "Sound of a Gun" by Audioslave
Previous activity: Hangin' out and eating
Next thing on the agenda: Picking up some IBC cream soda

Avast, me hearties!

Avast, me hearties! Let it not leave yer mind that September 19th be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Mark yer calendars, else ye be cast out as bilge rats!

In other news, the whole of Pearson Hall smelled like one giant fart on Thursday. This was highly unfortunate, as I had both neurophysiology lecture (8-9:15am) and lab (11am-2pm) in the building that day. I fear I may have departed the building smelling like fart myself. I don't know whose research lab is responsible, but darn them to heck!

Additionally, I am pleased to announce the following things: 1) Good progress is being made in the medical school application process; 2) I picked up new CDs from The Mars Volta, Audioslave, and Dream Theater; 3) I'm reverting back to nocturnalism, though it is likely to only be a Wednesday-Saturday affair weekly; 4) I'm updating! I offer my most profound apologies for my failure to do so in the past month. I lost sight of my mission.

More on each of these updates soon. I will be altering my blogger profile so my real name is no longer associated with it. With this done, I will be able to discuss more freely the application process and give an unedited update of how that's proceeding. 'Til then!

Currently listening to: "Day of the Baphomets" by The Mars Volta
Previous activity: Wasting an entire night's worth of time watching good movies and crappy TV
Next thing on the agenda: Eating, then public opinion & political behavior class

Thursday, August 17, 2006

From Weddings to Wanderings

Ohio Wedding Weekend #2 turned out to be a great time. The wedding was on Sunday (and both the wedding and reception were very nice), but I left Missouri on Friday. I was able to hang out in Oxford on Friday night, spend Saturday in the Hyde Park area of Cincinnati at Dan's place with a bunch of friends, catch a great wedding and reception on Sunday, and attend the first day of med school classes at the University of Cincinnati on Monday. They did four hours of biochem lecture, but it was bearable. As I've had biochem already at Miami, I sat in the class trying to think whether or not I would understand what the lecturer was talking about if I hadn't already had the class. I didn't quite come to a conclusion. Either way, can't shake a finger at that weekend.

While I was driving to Ohio on Friday, I received a phone call from my mom who told me that I had a letter at home from a medical school to which I'm applying, inviting me to interview. This is my second interview invite so far in the application process, and I must admit, I'm very happy with how things are going so far (though it's still very early in the process). For my own reasons, I'm going to try to abstain from discussing specific medical schools until after I've received whatever acceptances I may receive; however, I'll be happy to discuss the process in greater detail one-on-one, for anyone who may be curious. Nonetheless, I'm very excited about this new interview invite, as I've heard great things about the school from my friend Katie, who interviewed there last year.

Driving home to Missouri on Monday evening was great, just as it was driving back last Monday night after the first Ohio wedding. Not that I needed any kind of therapy or therapeutic activity, but night time driving while singing along with your favorite music is certainly therapeutic. It's interesting how, alone on the highway, you can find new meaning in songs you've heard a thousand times, or find some personal significance in a random lyric. I love it. The only bad part about it is that you eventually get to where you're going, and the drive is over. Now, this is by no means the first time I've recognized how much I love driving, and most notably driving at night, but after these past two weekends, I just have to tell the world how wonderful it is. If this whole med school thing doesn't pan out, I think I may be a truck driver. One caveat: If you're uncomfortable being alone with your thoughts, this might not be for you.

Currently listening to: "Roads" by Portishead
Previous activity: Watching the Colbert Report
Next thing on the agenda: Reading some articles online

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Affirmative Action?

As I'm in the throes of applying to medical school, the occasional debate over Affirmative Action is inevitable. Obviously, it's a touchy subject for many, and as I'm your standard WASP, perhaps the perspective from which I approach the subject would be worn and old. However, I'll be the first to recognize the need to compensate somehow in the admissions process for hardships faced. My complaint with Affirmative Action is that it does not adequately do this.

What we have in Affirmative Action is a program that seeks to provide benefits or perks in admissions to "Under-Represented Minorities," or URMs. The rationale behind this is the contention that URMs will be more likely to provide medical care to underserved populations after completing their medical training. Indeed, the end sought is a desirable and necessary one: medical care is maldistributed in the United States, producing large populations that receive inadequate care. The fallacy in Affirmative Action is the assumption that all URMs come from underserved populations, but this simply isn't so. Affirmative Action, as it stands, would disproportionately assist URMs who come from privileged backgrounds, as they would be far more likely to have received a good education, gone to a good college, and be a competitive applicant for admissions--in short, it assists those who need no assistance and bear no significant disadvantage via their background. Those URMs who come from disadvantaged backgrounds remain left behind and unassisted, and the URMs who get accepted, being from a privileged background, will be less inclined to tend to an underserved population later, as they have no underserved roots.

Not to mention that much of America's underserved population is among our poor rural communities, which are largely white.

So, given the desirable and necessary aim of producing physicians who will be more inclined to provide care to underserved populations, how are we to accomplish this? For starters, if a government policy is to mandate admissions benefits to a particular group, that group should be based in socioeconomic status, not race or ethnicity. Indeed, such a policy would probably benefit more disadvantaged minorities than the current system. In addition, it would be inclusive to poor rural whites or other disadvantaged individuals who would be more prone to caring for an underserved population similar to that from whence they came.

Finally, such a system--one based on socioeconomic status rather than race--would eliminate the discrimination, or belittling, that many feel as a result of the current Affirmative Action policy. Some minority students feel sneered by their peers, as if they were given their position rather than earning it through their own hard work and success. If a policy were based in socioeconomic status, rest assured, students would not discriminate against their classmates for presumptuous reasons such as this. For starters, as individuals of every race and ethnicity could potentially benefit from the policy (since individuals of every race and ethnicity could be socioeconomically disadvantaged), there would not be a physical characteristic attached with benefiting from the policy. Additionally, people who do benefit from the program would by definition have been disadvantaged growing up, and this prerequisite should eliminate criticism of benefits or advantages in admissions.


Currently listening to: "Just a Thought" by Gnarls Barkley
Previous activity: Seeing Talledega Nights
Next thing on the agenda: Figuring out plans for the weekend

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Here's to August

I don't know about you, but I'm loving this month. Love is in the air, and it's singing some sweet tunes. Actually, the love and music I speak of are nearly entirely separate, paired only in a temporal sense. The love? My friends Adam and Christine got married this past weekend after dating since their sophomore year of high school (if I'm not mistaken), and my friends Sara and JJ are getting married this coming weekend. Both of the weddings are/were in Dayton, Ohio, and as I'm in Columbia, Missouri for the summer, I have a lot of driving back and forth to do. In fact, including moving back to Miami for the fall semester, I will have three consecutive weekends of Missouri-Ohio cruising.

Now, the music? Well, for starters, I finally broke down and bought an iPod, which replaced money as the chief content of my pocket. My primary intention behind the mention of music, however, is all the new music that has been gracing my tympanic membranes as of late. It started with a new album from TV on the Radio, entitled Return to Cookie Mountain. Then I discovered a few new tracks from Happy Hollow, an upcoming album from Cursive. Finally, I stumbled upon some new songs from Amputechture, a yet to be released album from the guys of The Mars Volta. Look for Happy Hollow on August 22nd, and Amputechture on September 12th. From what I've heard of the latter two albums thus far, both bands are on the top of their game, which actually puts them at the top of modern rock. As for the new material from TV on the Radio, if you've liked their previous work, you'll certainly like this (though they still haven't produced a song to match their early release, Young Liars, which is just brilliant). The only sad news in all of this is that The Mars Volta's drummer has apparently left the band. Listen closely to their music and you will hear some amazing drum work; his leaving is a tragedy.

As a note for future postings, I may often include mp3 downloads to my blog updates. Feel free to download them. The only thing to note is that the links will expire after seven days, so get it while it's hot! Be sure to visit frequently so as to not miss any tunes. Here are a few samplers from the albums mentioned above:

"A Method" by TV on the Radio
"Dorothy Dreams of Tornadoes" by Cursive
"Viscera Eyes" by The Mars Volta

Currently listening to: "Dorothy Dreams of Tornadoes" by Cursive
Previous activity: Setting up this blog
Next thing on the agenda: Reading Dostoevsky's The Idiot

A new blog, a new philosophy

To read my previous blog, visit my old site.

One of the chief reasons for the paucity of my blog updates is my whole perspective of this blog and blogs in general. Rather than viewing it as a simple conduit for communicating everyday--perhaps even mundane--observations, events or musings, I have taken it to be something higher, something greater. I insist upon having some kind of news (or some great peer pressure) before updating. I'd like to change this, though. I'd like to toss aside that old paradigm and start anew. However, before I can do this, I first need to catch up with the many things that have happened since my last update, some of which are exciting and some of which are pretty bland.

May has long since come and gone, and with it went 90% of my friends from Miami. By this, I mean that nearly everyone I know graduated, leaving me to largely fend for myself come time for the fall semester. I'm sure it will prove to be a very different experience from past semesters, providing a feeling utterly unique to my college career. My hope is that I can turn it into a positive: with far fewer friends to spend time with, I may feel more available to finally reclaim my habit of lifting and running. Irrespective of the future, my present has found me keeping in close touch with my graduated friends this summer, and I'm sure this will continue as the months and years go on, despite what may happen to our schedules. I visited many of my Ohio friends in May when I drove out to Maine and back (~3,000 miles) for my friend Danielle's wedding. The wedding was beautiful, and the drive, although solo, was a lot of fun. Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where I stayed two nights, was beautiful. As the only people I knew who would be at the wedding were in the wedding party, I went out on the town by myself the night before the wedding. At a piano bar, I met an older couple from California who were open to conversation. The man, who was obviously intoxicated, repeatedly noted his deceased physician father's credo: "The patient is a person, not a commodity." I actually made use of this in my personal statement for my primary med school application.

In continuing with what has become the summer of love, my older brother, Nathan, proposed to his girlfriend, Sarah, in May. I only met her for the first time when I returned to Missouri after finals week (unrelated: a 4.0 for the semester), but she immediately revealed herself as quite likeable. She seems to have Nathan figured out, and is providing him with a little more discipline than perhaps he previously had. I think both contribute something important to each other's life, which is obviously important for anyone planning to marry. The two are planning a May 2007 wedding, which should work well for everyone. Only about a week ago, they moved together to Pasadena, California, where Nathan landed a new job. It's quite the change from Missouri, to be sure, but I think they will handle it well. Already, I'm planning to drive their wedding gifts out to Pasadena for them, which will be an awesome time. You can be sure that I volunteered for that job.

This past weekend, I was in Ohio for the marriage of my Miami friends Adam and Christine. It was a beautiful wedding...very well done, I thought. The best part of all for me was simply getting to see so many of my friends in one place, which is always kind of rare for me, as I'm the lone Missourian in the group. (To be fair, I finally convinced Dan and Naynay to come visit my humble abode in Missouri. It was nice having them down and showing them around.) I will be back in Ohio for another wedding this coming weekend--this time for Sara and JJ, two more friends of mine. As I said, it has become quite the summer of love.

As for me, the summer has consisted largely of working at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Missouri here in Columbia. I'm with Dr. Bal for the third summer now, and it's been a really good experience again. He always has quite the variety of jobs for me, and this summer it has been mostly medical illustrations, consulting on research database issues (the biggie), and producing patient information literature for the website. Of course, I've had a healthy dose of clinical and operating room observation mixed in there. Aside from working, I've spent a good portion of my time working on medical school applications. Yes, the time is finally upon me, four years in the making. I've compiled quite a list of schools; I won't divulge that whole list here, but suffice it to say, I'm making very good and timely progress on the applications and am happy with the schools to which I'm applying.

I've worked very hard to keep this post from rambling into oblivion, because it certainly could stretch on forever if I were to include all the details that actually make life interesting. However, I really just wanted to catch up on the big, basic events, and as I stated above, the hope is that I can now start anew. No more waiting for newsworthy updates necessarily; I am now giving myself the latitude to use this more for directionless musing and reflection. For now, take 'er easy.

Currently listening to: "Roscoe" by Midlake
Previous activity: Writing and submitting Stanford's secondary application
Next thing on the agenda: Reading some more from The Idiot