A Collection of Tales from the 24 Hours Preceding the Biochemistry Exam:

1. I always wondered what exactly carbohydrates were. It turns out that they're chains of CARBON atoms that have been HYDRATED by -OH attachments. I get it!

2. Richie on how to remember amino acids that contain amide functional groups in their R chains: "It's easy, their names all end in "-ine." I believed this until I realized that ALL of the amino acids end in "-ine."

3. Cameron on someone we know who breaks out when she's stressed: "She has a RIDICULOUS danger zone!" [excessive laughter] "Three points for Gryffindor!"

4. I was videochatting via iChat with Kathryn and Cameron walked behind me and mooned her. AWKWARD!!

Don't find these stories funny? Try studying for 15 hours straight; I assure you they'll be HILARIOUS.

A Question

If I fail out of medical school, will they still let me be the Class of 2012 Social Co-Chair?

We just took our Anatomy exams, and I'm a little concerned about whether or not I passed. And like any good emo teenager, I'm going to release my feelings by blogging about them. EVERYTHING ABOUT MY LIFE IS SO HARD! I'M SO ALONE! NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME EXCEPT FOR PETE WENTZ! [grows bangs, puts on hoodie, listens to more Fall Out Boy]

But seriously, it takes a lot of ATP for this phoenix to keep rising from his ashes. I really need to stop bombing everything that comes across my path in medical school before I run out of glycogen stores and go into a diabetic coma. On the bright side, I'm surviving my cadaver wound, Nosheen and I are going to start planning awesome social events, and tomorrow is a brand new day. One exam down, two more to go!

Breaking News

Okay, I know I said I wouldn't post again until exams were over, but I just stabbed myself with a cadaver probe while studying in the Anatomy Lab. I was trying to scratch my back while holding the probe in my right hand when I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my left cubital fossa. I could literally feel the cadaver juice seeping into my arm. If I die from cadaver AIDS, please use all of my financial assets to construct a shrine in my honor inside the Jordan Hall Lobby. I want it to say something along the lines of Sam: The Boy Who Lived (JK! He Died from Cadaver AIDS! Joke's on Him!)

Oh, and please bury me with my beloved MacBook.

My Spoon Is Too Big

The cafeterias in the hospital have really cool dispensers where you pull a lever and one utensil drops out. I noticed today that the dispensers in Wahoo West Cafe are labeled "Knives," "Forks," and "Multi-Purpose Spoons." So, are we supposed to be doing something with the spoons other than eating? I can't think of anything funny, clever, or even dirty to do with spoons. Maybe I'm just not thinking hard enough, but it seems like spoons are pretty much the LEAST multi-purpose tools in the entire world. And if I can't trust the hospital cafeteria, then what CAN I trust? Oh, right: Scientology.

Shiver Me Timbers!

Thanks to my unparalleled stalking abilities, I noticed that some of my friends had switched from Facebook to Pirate Facebook. "I wonder what that is," I thought. After a quick Google search, I discovered that if you go to Account Settings > Language, you can set your Primary Language to English (Pirate). Instead of Friends, I now have Me Hearties, instead of a Wall, I now have News Ahoy!, and instead of Videos, I now have Bewitched Portraits. All in all, a good exchange and an even better method of procrastination.

And now, back to studying Biochemistry. I mean, back ter swarshbucklin', mateys!

Extreme Dream

I was leading a medical school skydiving trip to the Grand Canyon. The plane took off and when it got to the right altitude, people began jumping off. I wanted to go last just to make sure everyone else got off safely. Finally, only Juan and I were left aboard, when all of a sudden one of the plane engines exploded. For some reason I didn't have my parachute pack on yet, so we both jumped and I was initially in freefall, narrowly escaping being sucked into the still functioning plane engine. I grabbed onto Juan and we coasted down to earth. A surfboard magically appeared in Juan's hand, so we skysurfed for a while. I kept yelling at him to deploy the parachute, but he kept saying that we had plenty of time. I got distracted from my impending death by pulling out my camera and taking a few pictures of the beautiful desert scene below us. Finally we hit the ground and landed safely without even using our parachute. It was pretty hardcore.

When I looked up, I realized we were in the middle of an outdoor Miley Cyrus concert that was being recorded for TV. They were getting ready for her to perform the finale, which was a duet with Meredith, one of my friends from high school who had apparently become a pop singer.

The next thing I knew, I had teleported from the concert to the driveway of a giant ranch-style home in Texas. It turns out it was owned by an oil tycoon who was married and had two kids. However, he had recently been having an affair and now wanted to marry his mistress. He didn't believe in divorce, so instead he had decided to hire a hit team on his current wife. I found myself in the rescue team that was supposed to extract the wife from the home. We rang the doorbell, introduced ourselves as washing machine salesmen, and entered the home. We gave what I thought was a great sales spiel, but somehow the oil tycoon realized what we were up to. When his wife showed us to the door, we attempted to sneak her out of the house to safety, but instead we found that the front yard was filled with men pointing guns at us. Before we could even react, they had released a volley of bullets that killed the wife and hit me in the neck. Luckily they missed my carotid artery, and the next thing I remember was being taken to the hospital by ambulance.

The dream ended with me sharing my story at dinner with Dean Pearson. Honestly? Must everything in my life begin and end with medical school? Yes, by order of the king!

Rock the Vote

All of the candidates who are running for SMD 2012 elections this week had to turn in a personal statement by today, and of course I put it off until the very last minute. You can read mine below. Special thanks to Amanda for the revisions. And remember, I don't care who you vote for, just VOTE (for me)!

My name is Sam Zhao, and I don’t just want to be your social chair. I want to be your social COUCH. Chairs are nice, but couches are more comfortable and inviting.

As your social couch, I will do my best to plan activities that will be fun for everyone. In addition to coordinating Grand Rounds, the Halloween Party, and the New Year’s Party, I would like to have events like apple picking at Carter’s Mountain, hiking in the Shenandoah National Park, playing broomball at the Charlottesville Ice Park, taking a trip to Monticello, and even watching a movie in the AFC hot tub (it seats over 50 people). I am open to suggestions as well, and I welcome any ideas you might have. However, you may not take naps on the social couch.

I promise, if elected as social couch, to continue carrying my camera around at all times. As long as you come to the social events, rest assured that the next four years of your life will be VERY well documented. And just as you can’t get rid of that beer stain on your couch at home, you won’t be able to prevent me from showing all of these photos, good and bad, at our ten-year reunion.

By the Skin of My Teeth

I cut a lot of things very closely today.

Rhiannon, Kimberly, Robbie, and I barely made it on time to Dreama and Marc's wedding. I blame this mostly on Dreama, because she chose to have the ceremony at a tiny little church in the Shenandoah that can't be found by Google Maps, Mapquest, or any other mapping system. However, the view was gorgeous, and the ceremony was cute without being too sappy, so it was all well worth it. Congrats, guys!

I had to leave the reception early to make it back in time to take the Biochemistry quiz in the Health Sciences Library, which closed at 7pm. Rhiannon drove me straight to the library, still dressed in my shirt, tie, and blazer and holding my overnight bag. I had just enough time to get settled and take the quiz, which I finished at 6:50.

Last but not least, I got 7 out of the 10 quiz questions right, which means I barely passed. But as the saying goes, P=MD, and I definitely P'd today. Haha. Peed. In other words, Sam : Biochemistry :: Hurricane Katrina : New Orleans. I PWNED IT! Too soon? Awkward.

He Giveth and He Taketh Away

Parting is such sweet sorrow. Actually, it's not sweet at all. I'm downright bitter. Henrietta was brutally taken away from us in the night, and they didn't even give us the chance to say goodbye. Too fumey? TOO FUMEY!? She was the Baby Bear to my Goldilocks: I happen to think that she smelled JUST RIGHT. And now we have to work with Group D-46. I don't have anything personal against Blanche, but let's be honest, she's simply no Henrietta. The perfectly preserved muscle fibers? Gone. The skillfully removed face? Gone. The unbelievable amounts of fat everywhere? Gone, gone, gone. A true shame. I'll miss Henrietta. All 300 or so pounds of her.

But God sure knows how to cheer a poor guy like me up! My MacBook Black arrived today, and I have spent the past three hours exploring this new toy. There's so much to learn, so much to enjoy. From the streamlined hardware to the built-in Stickies application to the Exposé function, I could be occupied for days. So sleek! So fresh! So quirky! So in love... [swoon]

Bed Bath & Beyond

One of the things I resolved to do when I started medical school was to make my bed every morning. I feel like the bed makes a big difference in a room's overall appearance. For some reason, there can be dirty laundry all over the floor and papers strewn everywhere, but if the bed is made, I think, "Wow, this person really cares about keeping an organized room."

I've been keeping up with this resolution pretty well, but I have noticed one thing: I don't actually know how to make a bed. I mean, how to REALLY make a bed. You know how sometimes when you're a guest in somebody's house, and there are pillows of so many shapes and sizes that it looks like the cover of Southern Living? When you're actually unable to go to bed because the covers are pulled so tightly against the mattress that you can't even stick in a finger, let alone your entire body? When the sheets are so taut that you could swear they were ironed on the bed itself? When you wake up the next morning and you try to make the bed, but you know that the host is just going to have to remake it themselves after you leave, probably rolling his or her eyes and wondering out loud why you have no home-making abilities whatsoever?

So if I had to rate my bed-making skills on a scale of 7 to 13, I would give myself no higher than a 9. There is still so much room for improvement!

Election 2008

There has been a great deal of media coverage regarding this year's elections, but they have missed out on one formidable opponent: me. The drama of the United States presidential debates is nothing compared to the attempts of first year medical students to one-up each other in the form of 8.5x11 posters printed on their home computers. Although I have yet to formally start my campaign, you, gentle reader, are lucky enough to see two of my posters before they even hit the press. BEHOLD!

The Doctor Is In

Last night I was walking Becky and Jordan home on Wertland Street when all of a sudden we heard a loud THUD and the sound of moaning. Across the street, a drunk girl had fallen down the stairs and, unable to react, landed on the side of her face. We quickly ran over to see if she needed help, and we found that she had cut the side of her face and was bleeding next to her eye. I learned from my POM mentor that you should always assume the worst, so the first thought that came to mind was that she must have fractured the thin bones forming the pterion and ruptured the anterior branch of the middle meningeal artery. If the ECA Blue Boxes were right, then this could result in a hematoma that would exert pressure on the underlying cerebral cortex, leading to death in a matter of hours! (Thanks, Gross Anatomy Learning Objectives!)

I knew it was probably nothing more than a superficial cut, but we called 9-1-1 just to be safe. The EMTs eventually decided that she was fine, even though she initially told them that the date was September 20 and that the current president of the United States was "[pause] Jefferson?". One of her housemates walked her back inside, and I went home to sweet dreams of cranial foramen and venous sinuses.


I know Chinese officials made a lot of changes in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and I hope things like better public transportation and improved air quality will be maintained. One thing I will miss, however, is the poorly translated English at each and every tourist location. Like all white people, I am obsessed with grammar, which is why I was simultaneously filled with anger at finding this sign at the Beijing Aquarium last year and with elation at being able to point the mistake out to others. Like all Asian people, I am equipped with a camera at all times, which is why I have photographic evidence for posterity's sake.

By the way, the sign actually says "Performance in Progress. Please Do Not Enter."

Good News and Bad News

The Good News: Somebody finally hacked down the shrubbery that was threatening to overtake the pedestrian cut-through between Brandon Avenue and Valley Road. The daily risk of contracting tropical infectious diseases while traversing Valley Road Jungle has now been removed.

The Bad News: Our Gross Anatomy professors devised the most illogical peer evaluation system possible. We have to rate each of the four members of our group on a scale of 1 to 5, with 3 being the highest. Then, using our initial responses, we re-rank them on a scale of 7 to 13, with 13 being the best score and all scores totaling 40. This numeric value is then compared to all of the others given out in our class, and we are each assigned a final score worth 5% of our final grade. Confused yet? Me too.

Allow me to propose a few alternatives that make more sense:
1. Rate team members on a scale of 1 to 4.6415888336, but only in increments of cubed roots. All scores must total pi. Lowest number equals best score.
2. Rate team members in multiples of i. Only those will real numbers pass.
3. Rate team members from Apple to Orange. Size of fruit determines final grade.
4. Rate team members using a single Chinese character. The more brushstrokes, the more likely they are to be imprisoned without trial.

Skull and Bones

George and I cut off Henrietta's skull today and EXPOSED HER BRAIN!! Psychedelic, dude! In spite of the awful smell of sawing through bone, I had an awesome time. I freaked out a few times (what else is new), but everything went really smoothly for us. Well, as long as you ignore the part where George cut our TA Eric's finger and the part where I sawed too deep and released some of Henrietta's brain juices. Schwhoopsies! The whole procedure took about an hour and fifteen minutes, and all I could think about the whole time were (1) what I would do if Henrietta started screaming all of a sudden and (2) Jack Handey.

"When I found the skull in the woods, the first thing I did was call the police. But then I got curious about it. I picked it up, and started wondering who this person was, and why he had deer horns." -Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts


This is it. I've had enough, and I will not tolerate it anymore. Somebody MUST fix the men's restroom across from the entrance to the library. I don't know what the problem is, but it constantly reeks of burnt popcorn with extra butter loaded on top. Imagine stuffing your face into the popcorn stand at the movie theater, only nine times worse. It doesn't help that the heat is blasting to keep the bathroom at a constant 85°F, in sharp contrast to the arctic climate maintained in the library itself. Alas.

On a different note, who drew the diagram of the brachial plexus in the bathroom stall??

All Alone

I've done a lot of cycling classes before, and although it is definitely a female-dominated activity, there are always a few guys there as well. Not today. I walked in, picked a bike, sat down, looked up, and realized that the room was entirely full of girls. More were soon to follow, eagerly descending upon the yellow titanium x-framed exercise machines like a swarm of locusts. Ten minutes before the class was supposed to start, all 22 of the bikes were occupied, and my Y chromosome was all by its lonesome. I'm not gonna lie, being surrounded by a pack of uber-athletic girls with their hair tied back and legs pumping at 347831028 mph can be a little intimidating. By the end of the hour, I was drenched in sweat and exhausted, and of course, half of the girls hadn't even broken a sweat yet. I think they were robots.

What's in a Name?

I'm taking a break from my aforementioned need to study to post the nicknames given to the Class of 2008 Gross Anatomy Lab cadavers. Who needs cells or tissue structures anyway? They've never done me any good.

Bert: short for Albert. Means bright in German.
Bertha: feminine form of Albert. See above.
Blanche: means white in French.
Buddhist Biker Bill: short for Buddhist Biker William. William means will or desire in German. Ergo, desire to go to Buddhist Biker Bar & Grill.
Chocolate Bear: CAMPING.
Debbie: short for Deborah. Means bee in Hebrew.
Doris: means Dorian woman in ancient Greek.
Fred: short for Frederick. Means peaceful ruler in German. (I wonder what Adolf means?)
Gertie: short for Gertrude. Means spear and strength in German. (Has a woman named Gertrude ever won the Olympics decathlon?)
Harley: from a place name meaning hare clearing in Old English.
Henrietta: feminine form of Henry. Means home ruler in German.
Martha: means mistress of the house in Aramaic.
Millie: short for Millicent. Means work or labor in German. (So, was Millie a Jew?)
Morty: short for Mortimer. From a place meaning still water in Old French.
Mr. Magoo: MYOPIA.
Pierre: French form of Peter. Means stone in Greek.
Rose: associated with the word for the fragrant flower rose. (Are you sure it's not associated with the word formaldehyde?)
Sitting Bull: RACIST.

Practice Quiz

Your Score: 0%

Select the single best answer to the numbered question.

1. It is Saturday afternoon. What should Sam do?

A. Go to the UVA vs. UR football game.
B. Watch some TV.
C. Study at the library.
D. Work to resolve the roommate dispute going on at home.
E. Take a well-deserved nap.

You answered: A. Go to the UVA vs. UR football game.
That was not the correct answer.
Explanation: Having fun is not an option.
The correct answer is: C. Study at the library.
Explanation: No explanation necessary.


Soooooo I just failed my Biochemistry quiz. I needed a 70% to pass, and let's just say I did the inverse of that. Yeah. I don't think I've ever failed anything in my life before, so this is all kind of new to me. In fact, I thought that Newton's Fourth Law of Motion stated that "For every action, there is an equal and opposite grade of no less than A- given to an Asian student." So much for that, Mr. Isaac Newton.

My confidence is shattered, but my spirit prevails. I will rise from my ashes like the sacred phoenix, and I'd like to see you draw THAT biochemical mechanism. That's right, you can't. Who's the sucker now?? Caw, caw!

What Dreams May Come

I haven't made it through a single Cell and Tissue Structures class without passing out, so I skipped the lecture today to take a nap in the library, where I could sleep more comfortably. During my one hour nap, I had an awesome dream.

I was walking around grounds when I ran into Tina, Mica, and Ashley in front of the UVA Chapel. We hung around and chatted for a while, but Mica spent most of the time making fun of people we knew. A lady and her daughter walked by us with their dog, a beagle, when suddenly the dog fell over and became unresponsive. We decided to take him to the veterinarian, and I tagged along. The vet determined that the dog had appendicitis, so she went ahead and performed the appendectomy. The best part is that she did it all using only the tools available to us in our Gross Anatomy Lab. Turns out a scalpel, scissors, hemistat, and foreceps are all you need to complete a successful surgery!

...and then I woke up and studied Biochemistry. Womp womp.


There are quite a few library regulars that I have come to know and love. The most interesting character I've encountered is Chess Man, a white male in his late 40s or early 50s. Chess Man always sits in the same seat, always wears the super-awkward looking library headphones, and, as his name implies, always plays chess on his computer. Lately, I've noticed that Chess Man has been rubbing his hands together. A lot. Either he's (1) cold and trying to keep his hands warm, (2) physically anticipating his next chess move, (3) about to receive $1 million in cold, hard cash, or (4) starting an invisible fire. Probably all of the above.