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