I'm Back!

And I just spent the last four hours captioning pictures on Facebook.

The cruise was everything I had hoped for and more. I could tell you about all the cool things we did in the Bahamas, but instead I'll talk about the food. We were eating so many times each day, we started running out of names for all of the meals we were having. As our stomachs expanded, we also began consuming larger and larger portions at each sitting. For example, this is how I ate over the course of the four days:

1st dinner: One appetizer, one entree
2nd dinner: Two appetizers, one entree, one dessert
3rd dinner: Two appetizers, two entrees, two desserts
4th dinner: Three appetizers, two entrees, two desserts

I don't own a scale, but I'm almost certain that I put on between 9 and 10 pounds this past week. I love my life. [Waddles away from the computer to grab more Chex Mix]

Your Long National Nightmare is Over


I'm outta here. It's been real. Please look forward to posts by my roommate Sam.

The Joys of Indoor Plumbing

In this post I'll tell you how it feels to take a shower in the shower in which I shower every day. I'll maintain a neutral tone so you can decide for yourself how you feel about it.

First, the shower -- I mean the whole shebang: plumbing, drain, flimsy plastic chassis -- must have cost about twenty bucks. I can hear the landlord talking to the guy at the warehouse.

"Hey buddy, I need to buy a shower, but I just want to spend, like, twenty or so dollars on it. Think you can help me out?"

"Haha, sir, I don't think so, most of our models run to about--" A darkness blooms in his pasty unshaven face. He remembers something hidden, something horrible. "Welllll, there is this one thing we have, but honestly, we just did it for a government contract. Hygiene for enemy combatants, extraordinary rendition-type stuff. More engineering went into your average Pez dispenser than this thing, so--"

"Sounds perfect. Here's your twenty. Don't spend it all in one place."

Draped at the entrance of this so-called shower is the worst curtain ever. There are interesting patterns on it that you remind you of a wall that might recently have served as the site of a mass execution by firing squad. The patterns are made by growths, colonies, stains, bits, and other things providing discoloration and texture to the plastic sheet. Trillions of microorganisms are there huddling together like drunk convention-goers. It's a Who's Who of every major disease since the dawn of civilization.

"Hello, Bubonic Plague." "Oh, hello, Spanish Flu." "Didn't expect to see you here." "I know, a shower curtain in western Virginia. Kind of unexpected, but I love it here." "Me too. It's like heaven for germs, LOL." Every pathogen mentioned in the computer game Oregon Trail is there, too.

Your naked body is going to be standing near the curtain very soon, just close enough that a light breeze could make it rise a few inches and start clinging to your leg. Your leg, your very own leg, which you've had since you were a baby and which you love and which you don't want to have to amputate any time soon. The curtain reaching for your leg like a zombie hiding under the floorboards.

You turn on the water. It whistles loudly and shrilly, reminding you of the Headless Horseman galloping down the road to kill you. You're interested in hot water especially, because it's a cold, cold world out there and you'd like to be warm for a little while. Huh, strange, you've cranked the "H" as far as you could and there's not that much water coming out. Hand outstretched and naked, you stupidly wait for things to improve and then wisely give up and get in.

This trickle ain't much, you say to yourself, but it is technically a "hot shower" and that's a staple of good living, so show a little gratitude, why dontcha. But it gets harder and harder to. The hot stuff comes out with no more force than if it were being poured out of a watering can. It's not really strong enough to wash away the soap you've applied to your skin. Come to think of it, there's so little water that large patches of you are still totally dry. You twist and revolve to correct that a little.

But then there's this scary noise that begins humming from the pipes, like the faint initial did-I-really-feel-that tremor of an earthquake that eventually flattens your house. You feel that something terrible is going to happen, something with the water. You want to brace yourself, but how? Turn around? Should you maybe shield your most prized possession with your hands? The nozzle continues whistling and then there's this awful crescendo and suddenly you're hearing the shrieks of the damned and the water instantly quadruples in volume and is frigid and you feel like a volley of icicle-arrows has just landed in you a la St. Sebastian.

Now, the question is, do you tough it out under a waterfall that's the temperature of a Martini? Or do you throw yourself onto that disease-ridden tarp you call a curtain and hope nothing sticks while you make your escape? Obviously, you don't think through it that calmly. It's more like "AH WHAT'S GOING ON I NEED TO GET OUT OH FUCK NO THE BUBONIC CURTAIN GAH GRAB THE KNOB YOU IDIOT FIX THIS FIX THIS." You fix it by turning the "C" knob until it's almost off.

Now you're able to appreciate how things were before. They weren't so bad after all. You decide to just finish up as quickly as possible before the shower plays another hilarious prank on you. What a way to bathe.

The Unlived Life

In my comic book-reading days, before I was capable of growing even the peach fuzziest goatee, I was always a little puzzled by something called "imaginary stories," which were comics that would have the premise of, for example, "What if Captain America had been raised in the Soviet Union?" Pressing questions like that. But aren't, uh, all comic books imaginary? It took me a while, studying the letters sections like a Talmudic scholar, to figure out that for most readers the Silver Surfer was much realer and important than, say, their congressman or their co-workers or their bus driver.

In that vein, here are the most plausible "imaginary" career paths that Sam could've taken. The items below are posted in descending order, which is a trick for creating suspense I picked up while getting my degree in list-making at the École Normale Supérieure.

5) Society columnist. Walter Winchell could ruin someone's career or life with a single article, or section of an article. Creepy-looking reporters for the New York Post routinely risk wrinkling their suits as they root through dumpsters looking for dirt. Sam doesn't quite have the sadism necessary for the profession, but he could assemble the data all right. He seems to know things I don't even know I don't know.

4) Maid. One of the tidiest people I know, Sam would make one hell of a maid. Entropy seems to run faster around me than in the vicinity of your average bear; with Sam, it's the reverse. However, since society seems to accord more prestige to medicine than to cleaning, it's understandable that he should lay his feather duster down. Being a maid is something for the weekend, or retirement, not a profession.

3) Studio audience member. We're starting to play fast and loose with what qualifies as a "job," but, hey, let the good times roll and stop being so gol'dang uptight. When there's real audience laughter, and not a recorded track, you can often hear one guffaw rise unmistakably to the top like a seagull floating on the crest of a wave. That voice could easily belong to the proprietor of this blog. When he's witnessed something funny, he lets this fact be known. Producers would hustle him to the front row, maybe even turn a mic in his particular direction. The problem of being paid for this "job" remains, though.

2) Chief of staff for some politician. The most famous example now is Obama's guy, Rahm "Mephistopheles" Emmanuel, and if you haven't read about his antics and naughty knife-wielding behavior, I highly recommend it. Sam would be like Rahm, minus the anger, and the knives, and the resemblance to an imp sent from hell to lead mankind astray. These chiefs of staff are for the most part enablers. Sam's good at getting people to do stuff they don't want to do, or rather at making them forget temporarily that they don't want to do it until a voice inside them says, "Hey! Why am I doing this? Why?" I once almost sawed off my right hand because Sam told me they needed it for the class fund. Luckily, reason returned to its throne, though not a moment too soon.

1) Diplomat. To be one of these, you basically have to ingratiate yourself with a wide variety of people, some of whom are class-A dingbats, while maintaining your composure and handling crises as they pop up like prairie dogs and continuing to be well-liked despite keeping order. Parties must be thrown. Names must be remembered. When higher-ups start talking about promotion, your name has to bubble to the top like carbonation. Nuff said.

I maaaaaade you something...

I once knew this kid who was always making mix CDs for girls he liked in lieu of actually talking to them. The idea was, I guess, that they'd pop it in to the player and realize as the harmonies flowed over them in waves that his love was a rare thing and not at all creepy, oh, no, no, no. Such fun for the girls, such fun.

Anyway, I have a crush on the entire internet and I wanted to give it this mix CD, which will express my affection and high-octane lust for it much better than can mere words.

Some will say that this is a series of YouTubes and not a CD. Well, people say a lot of things. Remember when everyone was like, "Oh, Mr. Hitler just wants to live in peace and help his people who were so screwed at the end of the last war." Remember that? You probably don't even remember that.

Track One: Elvis Costello, "Accidents Will Happen"

"It's the words that we don't say that scare me so..."



Track Two: Elvin Bishop, "Fooled Around and Fell in Love"

"I didn't care, how much they criiiiiiiiiied, no sir..."



Track Three: Wire, "Mannequin"

"You're an energy void, a black hole to avoid..."



Track Four: Tom Tom Club, "Genius of Love"

"He still is the Godfather of Soul, ya'll, so check it out..."



Track Five: John Lennon, "Starting Over"

"Why don't we take off alone... LA... LA... LA... LA..."



Track Six: The Spinners, "It's a Shame"

"How can you stand to beeee so cruuuuuuel..."



Track Seven: The Band, "Katie's Been Gone"

"Dear Katie, don'tcha miss your home? I don't see why you had to roam..."



Seven tracks. Seven tracks of pure, troubadour-level passion! Read between the lines, internet! Can't you tell I'm head-over-heels in luuuuuuuurrv?

Hangover Helper

There's a certain satisfaction to beating a hangover before bedtime, similar to the feeling you'd get from (I guess) building a house or capturing Osama bin Laden in a twine-and-twig snare. Makes you feel like you've got the power of Science behind you, like you're chuffing along on pure Yankee Ingenuity.

But that is not the topic of this morning's sermon.

I take as my text the following incident, which will shock and appall you, brethren and sistren.

Morning. New Hampshire. The autumn air crisp as a Pringle. Each leaf's color as dramatic as construction paper's. But I'm unmoved by the beauty of the season because I have a problem. During the night, someone had sawed open my skull and replaced the brain I'd relied upon for so long with an acid-soaked kitchen sponge, which was now going brittle. For anesthesia, I could only assume that they just slammed my dome into the concrete a few dozen times until I went limp. Not how surgery is usually performed in this day and age, except in Brazil.

It wasn't the worst hangover I've ever had, but the worst up till that point, and my self-pity was about as mighty as it's ever been, which is saying something. I thought my suffering had a kind of historic grandeur, that maybe a Hollywood producer would be optioning the rights by the end of the day.

I was on my way to the cafeteria to get life-restoring coffee (the good American kind they boil all day like a stew, stronger than any street amphetamine) when I met a friend. What are friends for but to hear your troubles, I thought. I explained my situation. She said, "You know, I kind of like being hungover. You know, you're wandering around, saying hi to people you saw last night, a little tired, a little dazed..."

Some things are so wrong they just tear the fabric of the universe, stab at it evilly with an ice pick. Later, when I'd regained about 80% of my mental capacity, I started to come to terms with this falsehood, that a hangover is somehow fun. I realized that this girl -- fairly intelligent -- had probably just never had a serious hangover. Obviously, anytime you stay out late, you feel a little dazed if you get up at the normal time. She must have thought, "Oh, so this is a hangover. Not as bad as they say."

I thought this was an isolated delusion. Then I read a few articles about hangovers and hangover cures. God, the tone they took! They never said these outright, but the detached and condescending tone they used seemed to convey the following: (a) Hangovers are a just punishment for drinking, which is not a serious pursuit anyway (b) People whose brains are sloshing around like dishwashers filled with broken plates and knives and pure liquid pain are comical figures to be mocked or at most indulged (c) The efforts that victims put in to relieve their pain are also very funny, and remind intelligent sober people of the folk medicine of primitive peoples, like "Haha, in Bulgaria they drink pickle juice for it! Pickle juice! Ain't that a hoot and a half?"

It's easy to complain about the poor state of hangover journalism, not so easy to offer solutions. But I was ready to put in the hard work of assigning a kid to write an article about it for a student paper. His task was to, within a week, interview a guy at the medical school about effective solutions to the hangover problem. I picked that particular interviewer because of his keen interest in getting hammered. I thought his closeness to the topic would motivate him to get things done.

I failed to foresee that, instead of asking questions and transcribing tapes and filing copy, he spent the week slurping down a few barrels of Keystone a night and recovering during daylight hours. Funny, eh?

Actually, no, it's not funny, and damn you for suggesting it. It's a serious issue we'll never resolve because of widespread social prejudice against binge-drinkers. A wart on the face of these United States. A zit on the tip of Lady Liberty's dignified schnoz.

You Know You Make Me Wanna Doubt

Before Congress nationalizes Meryl Streep's half-manifested viper grin and ennui-flavored lilting delivery as valuable resources that the U.S. economy depends upon, let's consider her in that piece of Oscar bait, Doubt.

Like supersoldiers bred in the laboratory of a 50s comic book, these Oscar movies lurch into the multiplex every year, tricked out with the same old features, extending their meaty hands to receive the prizes they know they deserve. They're often set in the past and shot "sumptuously" to catch all those golden English Patient-y rays of archaic sunshine dripping onto fedoras and flapper hats. Ralph Fiennes is often involved, popping up like a goddamn mushroom in the rain-soaked grass. These movies will often be based on works of a more "serious" medium, a novel or a play, and, to make sure that not even the stupidest Hollywood goon can fail to see how important it is, some mass murder or historical injustice is alluded to. Did I say "alluded to"? Sorry, I meant spritzed into your eye-sockets like mace. If any jokes are allowed in the movie, they're always in the shadow of some blimp-sized irony, because humor is not serious, only solemnity is, and seeing a flick should feel like chugging a whole gravy boat of big themes.

(There's something about the blog medium, don't you think, that encourages you to denounce things, to wail on, for example, some poor 70s rock band until your golf club's all bent out of shape and you're panting harder than you ever have since high school gym.)

Doubt isn't as bad as all that. But it suffered from being a filmed play, instead of a movie. Well, it was and is a play. The playwright directed the movie, and I wonder if that was the best move. Can you trust someone to hack his play to pieces in order to make it work on screen? What I mean is: Non.

Most eukaryotic organisms already know that a stage actor is not a movie actor is not a t.v. actor. Just because you can do one medium doesn't mean you can do another. That might be because of the way you look or speak, or the fact that your face is projected to a scale of fifteen feet, but I got to thinking while watching Doubt that it might have something to do with the material itself. As you'd expect from a movie based on a play -- though how closely it's based I don't know -- scenes of dialogue go on for quite a while. Amy Adams and Meryl Streep. Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Meryl Streep and Viola Davis. Alone with each other in dim rooms or on snowed-over benches. Like on an afternoon of speed dating, the bell rings and a new pair begins their meandering little confab.

Now, where I saw it, Meryl Streep's every menacing mouth-twist and eye-twinkle had the audience hooting with glee. (I don't want to slander the good people of Ballston, Virginia by saying that some of the laughs sounded a little forced, but, well, there you go.) She plays a strict nun, the principal of a parochial school. These are the sorts of performances that cause critics to say, "You can tell she had fun." Oh, those critics, such suckers for fun. But I couldn't help thinking she was out-Streeping Streep, piling on more nuance and suspense than her lines could support. Or maybe it was just that, well, there's no one more at home on celluloid than she is. Movies, with their cuts and relatively fast pacing, normally reward her kind of acting; here she came off as a ham, conveying a kind of self-consciousness that isn't the, uh, hallmark of tight-fisted school administrators. Can't blame her though. She wasn't in her natural habitat. An ecological lesson for us all.

(That's Deer Hunter Streep up top, by the way, before she learned to be so amused by her surroundings and the funny people floating around her like so much dandelion fluff.)

Popping the Zeppelin

I'm convinced both that Led Zeppelin is the most overrated band since the dawn of Rock 'N Roll and that bringing this up in the company of dudes is like going snorkeling in shark-infested waters with a chicken corpse tied to each ankle. I've seen stoner personalities fly into out-and-out berserker rages when I make this suggestion -- really, just calling attention to a fact, as I see it. You speak the truth about that band, and they begin to remind you less of gentle hippies wiping potato chip grease onto their tie-dye shirts than coked up Wall Street types informing you at maximum volume that it's a man's, man's, man's, man's world, as they loosen their neckties to facilitate the deep breaths their screams require. Touchier than they seem, those laid-back dudes, at least when it comes to L. Z.

Now I don't mean that Zep is the worst band ever, or even bad. Just that its brand got weirdly inflated. I forget who it was that observed that there are no jokes in Led Zeppelin lyrics, but, God, it's true. What a pious bunch of pop crooners they are. Of course, most rock lyrics are just embarrassing nonsense, and you avoid analyzing them the way you avoid looking at some middle-aged "free spirit" who's just peeled off her top at a concert. Just keep your eyes on the road, you tell yourself desperately, don't let it spoil your good time. Still, the best lyrics don't take themselves too seriously and even convey a sense of fun, or at the very least get out of the way or let you hear the tune.

In contrast, the Zep serves up an awful goulash of Celtic mythology references, hilariously ambitious allegorical conceits, and some Brit's idea of what the blues is supposed to be. I mean, really. Listen to Plant screech "Baby, baby, baby" or some such R&B standby. He sounds less like Sam & Dave than some creature Frodo had to stab to death in Lord of the Rings, some hideous beast that shrinks from the light and then crawls home to his cave to make platinum records.

Pretension, in other words. Trying to be something you're not. The bane of all popular art. In rock, a string of cliches or empty phrases is always preferable to some failed attempt at poetry.

Compare. Look. In one corner, Mungo Jerry:
In the summertime when the weather is high
You can stretch right up and touch the sky
When the weather's fine
You got women, you got women on your mind
Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find
See, nice. Here is a writer who knows he is "Ray Dorset, founder of the skiffle band Mungo Jerry" and not "Wallace Stevens, major American poet." A useful thing to get learnt. Tune's not bad either. Now, on the other end:
There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.
WORDS HAVE TWO MEANINGS! WORDS HAVE TWO MEANINGS! If single words can have not one but two meanings, imagine how many metric tons of meaning that "songbird who sings" is holding up! I'm surprised the little fella doesn't get discouraged and maybe start whistling S.O.S., like "Help! Oh, help! Those blokes from Led Zeppelin loaded me down with so much meaning I'm about to implode into a little pile feathers and blood and tumble off the tree into the brook! Omigod, heeeeelp!"

As a supporter of the humane treatment of allegorical birds, I can't help but feel that Led Zeppelin has to be devalued. I really thought when they talked about a "credit crisis" these past few months that they weren't talking about the long withdrawing roar of American empire or multinational banks bursting like soap bubbles so much as how various song-and-dance acts have gotten more than their fair share of love. Well, they weren't talking about that, sadly. I was wrong, and I'll be the first to admit it.

Portrait of the Housepet as a Young Pooch

Titan is a dog who's been mentioned in this space before. A stout fellow and true, strong-limbed and brimming over with good intentions, a good man and a handsome devil, he looks like a coal miner thanks to his black sooty snout. For the sake of posterity and scholarship, I'll now set down some observations and anecdotes about the guy. The public has a right to know, you know.

Sometimes I'd peek through the blinds to see Titan locked in a death struggle with some Tiki torch that was clearly asking for it. (For some reason, this house has a kind of Asian landscaping scheme. By which I mean it's ringed with bamboo and, until Titan laid them low, there were three Tiki torches standing outside in brave triangle formation. I don't think they were ever lit so it's no huge loss, from the standpoint of beauty.) There were times when I thought the Tiki torch was ascendant and had him on the run, but Titan would surprise me and bounce back and bring that sassy lawn decoration down. Other afternoons saw Titan doing battle with enemies that seemed, by my lights, to be entirely fictitious. Maybe they were elemental spirits or invisible woodland creatures. At any rate, despite my not being able to detect them, I have no doubt he fucked them up, and I salute him and his courageous stand against beings from another dimension.

From this you might think that Titan has a rich inner life, at least for a dog, an Emerson in a dog collar, a Marcel Proust on all fours, but I tend to think of him as more of a social being, meant for pack life. When he first arrived, his manners were a little on the barnyard side of the spectrum, but Sam ran a whole My Fair Lady routine on him, and now our canine friend knows a fish knife from a soup spoon and can publicly kiss his crotch with enough dignity and taste to shame any hoity-toity Aristocat.

He's perfected this move that's somehow a combination lick, sniff, and bite. It might be truer to say that it begins as a lick, turns gradually into a sniff, and resolves itself into a bite before becoming a lick again, continuing the cycle. It's a little confusing for anyone who finds himself on the receiving end. I actually sometimes doubt that he himself knows what's he's trying to do. Zen-like, though, he goes with the flow. Good man. Never apologize, never explain.

I have a coffee maker that I often carry from my room to the kitchen. Strangely, Titan seems to hold this little appliance in awe, imbuing it with an almost religious significance. I once held it up like a relic just filched from a cursed tomb, and he backed away staring and would have said, "Oooooh..." if he could've, I guess. Nothing else that I've seen catches his fancy that way.

My other big discovery is that when I do this particular whistle, he'll go wherever I tell him to. It shoots straight into his brain and blocks whatever mechanism usually makes him distrust my commands. Guy's totally enchanted. It's a little like what violin music does for Peter Boyle's monster in Young Frankenstein. Very useful little birdcall.

To conclude, I endorse the hell out of this animal. Long may he thrive and wag in the righteous light.

Relax. You're In Capable Hands.

Good evening. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Sam's housemate. Like Beethoven in Beethoven Lives Upstairs, I live upstairs, though unlike Beethoven I'm not hard of hearing and I know just a smattering of German: schadenfreude, perestroika, joie de vivre, not much more than that.

In striking contrast to Sam, I do as little as possible every day. Mostly I sit with my back to the camera like Don Draper in Mad Men as I marinate in cultural anxiety and Brylcreem. I've been working on a sonnet for the past year, and I'm nearing completion of the third line, the only trouble being that I can't think of the right rhyme for "wispy." Neither "crispy" nor "lispy," if that's even a word, will do.

Longtime readers of this blog have become used to medical themes and leitmotifs. The good news is I feel eminently qualified to carry on this tradition. My father, you see, is an M.D. Some of you science pedants will say that knowledge can't be passed on from dad to kid, the way that I inherited (say) my god-like physique or skill at the caber toss. Well, I used to be with you on that one, until full-grown adults started asking me for medical advice upon learning of my dad's profession. When I'd tell them I lack the expertise that allows doctors to diagnose bunions at a glance, they'd put their socks back on and turn away hurt and confused. They seemed to genuinely believe I was withholding some cure-all. Oh, bless their hearts, as they say in the South.

My connection to Sam is that we were raised as brothers. Each afternoon of our golden childhood we would walk through the forest and hunt wild boar and pick daisies and ride a long pendular rope swing, letting go at an apogee of some twenty feet over a clear cold mountain lake, into which we'd fall with a ha-ha and a splash. Hm, or maybe what we'd do is hunt daisies and ride wild boars and watch Swingers on TNT. Hard to say, my memory's all fogged up from the Xanax. Anyway, what eventually happened was, Sam betrayed me, and I was cast out of the community and forced to fend for myself on the blasted heath. I subsisted on locusts and honey. And there was much beating of breast and gnashing of teeth, let me tell you. My raiment was rent and my tongue clove to the roof of my mouth and, lo, my iPod ran out of charge.

However, one day I received a text from Sam and there was a teary, some would say overly drawn out, reconciliation such as you find toward the end of Shakespeare plays and Bollywood movies. We swore a blood oath never to watch Swingers again, even if there was nothing else on, and I agreed to write his blog for him while he went on spring break.

Gradumacation

Titan graduated from Obedience Class today at the top of his class. He won the final challenge, a musical rugs competition. Basically, we had to walk our dogs around the room and get them to sit on one of the rugs as the music stopped. Titan was such a good sitter that we won a gift certificate for a free day-care session! Can you tell what a proud dad I am?

But enough about dog school. In real human school, we just finished half of Physiology, Human Behavior, and Neuroscience. Time to celebrate on the sunny beaches of the Bahamas. Nothing can stop us now! ...except for pirates.

Check out the theme song to our trip below (NSFW for language). I’ll be back in a week, but in the meantime, enjoy guest posts from my roommate Nick. Peace!

Are You Serious?

Jim, Cal, Dylan, and Doug: I really could have used you guys tonight.

I've been spoiled by the past four years. My friends in college were all bigger than me, which meant that if I were to ever get in a fight, I wouldn't have to worry about actually defending myself, because obviously my friends can beat up your friends.

Tonight, a bunch of my med school friends and I were partying it up at Three for Tina and Josh's birthdays, when suddenly some guy I didn't know pulled my hair. I thought that someone who was bold enough to harass me must be someone that I knew, so I punched him back. Turns out, he was a complete rando who then tried to fight me. He and his friends went on the offensive and started making fun of everyone I was with. The girls we were with actually had to hold Nick and me back because the guys kept trying to provoke us. Seriously? I'm 5'7" and 120 pounds. If you're trying to fight me, then you must have serious self-esteem problems. Get a grip and pick on somebody your own size. Besides, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. And after a few drinks, the size of the fight in this dog is HUGE. So bring it.

So Close...

It's 12:35 at night. I'm still in the library, studying for my Medical Neuroscience exam tomorrow. I have only a little over 12 hours left, but I can't concentrate on my practice test. Why? Because I have the Jeopardy theme song stuck in my head. And at the end of each fourth measure, it drops by an augmented fourth. Over, and over, and over again. Screw you, tritone! Screw you and your abominable dissonance!

Chick Flick or Guy Cry?

After spending over $2000 in movie theater tickets over the past eight years (it's true, I've saved all of my stubs and added them up recently), I have finally come to the realization that I need to be a little more discriminatory when it comes to what films I pay to see on the big screen. This means that I will probably have to decide between the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an adaptation of the Jane Austen classic that portrays Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters as zombie slayers, and the recently announced Pride and Predator, in which the story is disrupted by aliens who crash land and then begin to butcher the mannered protagonists. My life is very difficult.

Speaking of zombies and aliens, check out the official Periodic Table of Awesoments. And then buy it for me, because I WANT IT.

I Can't Feel My Toes

No, it's not because I have stocking and glove sensory loss or some other type of peripheral neuropathy. It's from wearing my new flip flops despite the sleet, rain, and 33 degree weather outside. But I can stand it, because I'm not afraid of the cold! I'm a MAN. I like FOOTBALL. And BEER. And POWER TOOLS. And ROBOTS. And WAR. And ROBOTS USING POWER TOOLS IN WAR. And Mean Girls.

Since I just did horribly on my Human Behavior exam, I'm going to stop thinking about it and instead focus my concentration on things that make me happy. Like the free dinner that Farida and I had at Cassis last night. Except for the fact that I was the only guy there not wearing a suit and tie. Apparently when they say fancy, they really mean it.

I can also think about the free lunch I had today. It's Free Pita Day at the Pita Pit on the Corner, so obviously I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu, which happens to be the Dagwood. I mean, how can you say not to a pita stuffed with turkey, smoked ham, AND roast beef? I'll be going back again for dinner.

And now there's rumblings of unlimited gelato at Splendora for only $5 on Wednesdays in February. Could my life get any better? Well, yes, if I could only score a few free points on my exams...

I Need to Stop Blogging Twice (Thrice?) a Day

Picture this: I'm running down JPA Extended with Titan. It's bright outside, and I'm wearing a green hoodie, so I'm virtually impossible to miss. We're jogging at a steady pace on the sidewalk, when suddenly WHAM! I'm knocked over by a car door. I manage to catch my balance but am unable to react appropriately. I do the first thing that comes to mind, which is apologize. Then I realize, it's not my fault, it's the fault of this crazy girl who had been sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car and suddenly decided to get out without looking out the window first. It was like a scene from a really bad movie.

But I'll let bygones be bygones. Now, I'm all fresh and clean, and it's time for my Date Auction dinner with Farida at Cassis. Fancy French food, here I come!

I Dream of Kidney

Last night, I dreamed that all the epithelial sodium channels had been turned off in my patient's body. Luckily, I had the superpower to shrink down to a tiny size. As Micro Sammas, I was able to enter the patient's bloodstream, find my way to the kidneys, and repair each nephron by hand. Apparently there are a lot of ENaCs in the body, because the dream felt like an eternity.

Really, subconscious? Is that what you're always thinking about? I think I need to be psychoanalyzed.

And now it's time to forget everything I know about the heart and kidney and memorize everything there is to know about sleep, drugs, neurophysiology, and stress. Hooray for exams!

My Brains Are Fried

I have studied for a grand total of five minutes since our physiology exam. Here is a play-by-play of what I've actually been doing since 4pm.

1. Posted on my blog.
2. Cooked and ate dinner.
3. Went to the CMA ice cream social.
4. Watched Heroes with Byron.
5. Watched Equilibrium at Bob and Richie's place (still the best movie ever).
6. Played with Google auto-complete.

Thanks to recent posts on FAIL Blog and Geekologie, I've become obsessed with Google auto-complete. For example, if you type in "I smell like," it suggests the search term, "I smell like poop," and if you type in "I am extremely," it suggests the search term, "I am extremely terrified of Chinese people." Naturally, I searched for all of my classmates, and here are some of the funnier phrases that came up. Remember, I might not necessarily think these are true, but Google does... and Google knows everything.

1,530,000: Jon is a noob
1,870,000: Angie is pregnant
172,000: Monique is 24 years old
1,310: James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it
955,000: Ed is a barbie girl
7,940,000: Chris is full of crap
83,400: Jeff is watching you poop
2,940: Matt is my hero and danny thinks moliere was italian
2,230,000: Josh is horny
434,400: Jess is a poo
12,700: Jim is now a blind cave salamander
4,930,000: Tina is fat
2,440,000: John is traveling to a meeting that is 28 miles away
659,000: Benji is a hippie
1,190,000: Katie is a brat
36,400,000: Sam is dead
328,000: Greg is gay.com
1,990,000: Dwight is a pervert
787,000: Ryan is a douche
560,000: David is standing behind ashley and ashley is standing behind david
426,000: Paul is the walrus
506,000: Amy is one hot mess
128,000,000: Brian is in you
883,000: Patrick is not sparta

Goodbye Cardiology and Urology

Those are definitely two fields that I won't be exploring as career options. How I felt after finishing the Physiology exam is about the same as how I felt coming out of the first Anatomy exam. You know, the one that I failed.

On top of that, I just got off of the phone with All Things Pawssible, the Dog Training Center where I take Titan for his obedience classes. I left my coat there last week, and I wanted to see if they could hold onto it for me until this Saturday. Not only was the guy on the other line too busy to check when I called, but he kept referring to me as "ma'am" throughout the entire conversation.

In conclusion, I hate my life right now.

Practice Quiz, Part 2

Your Score: 0%

Select the single best answer to the numbered question.

1. Which of the following statements is NOT true?

A. The autonomic nervous system makes no sense.
B. The cardiovascular system makes no sense.
C. The urinary system makes no sense.
D. If the activity of the autonomic system that is not parasympathetic is not decreased, then the AV conduction time will not be decreased as well.
E. The physiology exam is less than 24 hours away.

You answered: C.
That was not the correct answer.
Explanation: You might think you understand the kidney, but actually, you don't.
The correct answer is: D.
Explanation: You probably missed one of the 14 negatives in the statement. Idiot.

Happy Valentine's Day

Yeah, I completely forgot that today was a national holiday, probably because I've been spending all day studying renal physiology... not the most romantic subject, apparently. The most exciting thing I did all day was purchase a new pair of Rainbow flip flops to replace the ones that Titan destroyed over winter break. I want to break them in before we leave for the cruise, so I've decided to wear them all week, no matter how cold it gets. Take that, you stupid groundhog!

Speaking of Titan, I've been running with him a lot lately. Today we had our first blunder: he decided to go on the other side of the lamp post right in front of the Starbucks on the Corner. The scene that ensued was kind of like this one, which was slightly embarrassing. But it did get a lot of "Aww"s from the girls walking out of the coffee shop, so pick-up win!

Also, a brief snapshot in time: currently, I am cooking dumplings, steaming vegetables in my rice cooker, posting on my blog, and talking to John about Pokemon all at the same time. I'm so Asian right now, it hurts.

Dlive to Flolida!?

This spring break cannot come soon enough. After next week's exams, I'm going on a cruise to the Bahamas with 19 of my classmates. It's my first cruise, so to say that I'm excited would be an understatement. My parents have been on several cruises without me, so they were happy to learn that I would get to go on one as well. That is, until I told them that we would be driving all the way down to Miami. Since then, my mom has called me on eight separate occasions to tell me to be careful and obey the speed limit.

Last night, she called again, specifically to tell me that after we enter the state of Florida, there will be a bridge, and on the other side of the bridge, the road takes a sharp turn. So sharp, in fact, that one time her friend almost drove off of the road. Seriously, Mom? It's an interstate. I promise, I'm not going to swerve off of the four-lane highway. She also reminded me for the fifth time not to drink and drive. And I had to explain to her for the fifth time that people drink and drive when they're leaving from bars, not when they're getting ready for road trips.

I eat with [MACHOP] sticks.Also, after hours of contemplation, I finally came up with my own Pokemon bumper sticker. Hover your mouse over the image to find out what it means (thanks, Sunny). Lee also made a few suggestions, but they were all pretty lame:

"If you [PIKACHU] nose it might bleed."
"Stop [KOFFING] on me."
"She doesn't like me to [STARAPTOR] boobs." (Okay, actually, I love this one, but Staraptor is not one of the original 150 Pokemon, so I refuse to use it.)

Procrastination Fail

My life has been consumed by clever Pokemon bumper stickers. How do these people ever expect me to study?? Some new favorites:

"When you're in the shower I [PIKACHU]."
"I turn on my [CHARMANDER] pants come off."

Today, I spent half an hour coming up with my own Pokemon bumper sticker that said, "I want to take you on a [MAGIKARP] it ride." It turns out, someone else had already thought of it. FML.

EDIT: I just found more.

"I am [SEAKING] your assistance."
"I put my [MANKEY] inside her."

And, one that doesn't have to do with Pokemon, but also made me laugh.

"I didn't hit you, I high-fived you in the face."

Pop!

I finally decided to purchase the Neuroanatomy atlas, a decision that I had put off until the week before exams. For some reason, the thin book, which weighs only a little over two pounds, arrived in a box the size of my computer desk. Okay, maybe that's a little exaggerated, but it did come wrapped in over 16 feet(!) of bubble wrap. I mean, I love playing with the virtual stuff, but nothing can compare to the real McCoy.

This is an open invitation for anyone to come over tonight and pop bubble wrap with me. Huzzah!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad's 60th birthday, which is the most important birthday in Chinese culture. The zodiac has gone around five times, and his 60th birthday corresponds perfectly with the actual day he was born. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go home and celebrate because we have exams next week, so I didn't get to eat noodles and peaches, symbols of longevity, with my parents. Instead, I had a turkey sandwich, a Healthy Choice Grilled Chicken Marinara, and a pear for dinner. Mmm, delicious!

Speaking of birthdays, in a moment of weakness, I took the RealAge test. You know what I'm talking about; you've seen the ads online: "John McCain's RealAge is 63.7. What's yours?" Basically, you answer 132 questions about your lifestyle and family history. It turns out my RealAge is 15.4, which I guess I'll find exciting in a few years. But right now, that means I can't drink legally. In fact, I can't even vote. Or drive, for that matter. Man, being a teenager sucks. NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME! [Grows bangs, puts on tight jeans and studded belt, pulls hoodie over face, sulks while listening to My Chemical Romance in the background]

Booze and Schmooze

Lee, Greg, and I went to a Psychiatry Reception at X-Lounge tonight. It was very bizarre having a professional gathering at a place that I associate with drunken debauchery and dirty dancing (oh snap, check out that alliteration), but I was quickly won over by the free hors d'oeuvres and wine. Plus, we got to chat it up with Dr. Hobbs, our Human Behavior professor, who is just as animated in person as he is in the lecture hall. I also met a community psychiatrist named Andy, and he informed me that he only works 8-10 hours a day, 4 days a week. Suddenly Psychiatry is sounding more and more interesting...

In other news, I discovered Wordle, a website that generates “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. Obviously, I immediately entered in my blog, and these are the results. I'd also like to make a shout out to Nosheen, the only person other than myself and my mom (really?) who made it into the top 200 words on Idiopathies.

My Prayers Have Been Answered

If you know me, then you know that action movies with big explosions, intense fighting sequences, and improbable plots have a special place in my heart (the right ventricle, in fact). You should also know that my favorite movie of all time is Crank, in which freelance hitman Chev Chelios, played by Jason Statham, wakes up to find that he has been injected with a synthetic drug known as the Beijing Cocktail, and his only hope of staying alive is to keep his adrenaline pumping. The movie ends with Chev jumping out of a helicopter and landing on top of a car (if you haven't seen the movie, don't worry, I haven't ruined it for you, and it's still worth watching).

Anyway, the poster for the sequel, Crank 2: High Voltage was released today, and it makes perfect sense. What better explanation for him coming back to life after the end of the first film than simply stating, "He Got Better"? I can't even put into words how excited I am for this movie to come out. I dare you to read the following synopsis from Wikipedia and disagree with me. Sickawesome.
Set three months after his destructive run through Los Angeles, hitman Chev Chelios launches himself on a literally electrifying chase through Los Angeles in pursuit of the Chinese mobster who has stolen his nearly indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered heart that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working.

Best. Class. Ever.

Today we had two hours worth of lecturing on Neurotrauma, and it was probably the most bizarre class we've had all semester. There wasn't actually a lot of material that we needed to learn, and what we did have to know wasn't exactly all that exciting. The lecturer decided to spice things up by randomly throwing in short video clips and doing a brain demonstration using tofu (and he wasn't even Asian!). Probably my favorite part was the Driver's Ed movie where they explained what happens during automobile accidents. We spent no less than ten minutes watching crash dummies in slow motion. Amazing.

We're also in the process of selecting next year's Mulholland Society officers, so people are trying to decide who they want to nominate for each position. Nominate. NOMinate. NOM NOM NOM! Here's a video of a kitty literally making NOM NOM noises as he eats. Perhaps the language of Lolcats isn't as out there as we had once thought... Check out 0:07 and 0:54 for my favorite NOM NOMs.

Under the Counter

Tonight I had dinner with all of the Class of 2008 Trustees who are still in Charlottesville at Qdoba, the best fast food restaurant in the entire United States of America (no exaggeration). My typical Steak Fajita Ranchera Burrito didn't fill me up the way it normally does, so I ended up having to go back to get an order of chips. As the cashier filled up my bag, I noticed that he reached in and took one out. When I turned to walk back to my table, I saw him slowly put the chip in his mouth out of the corner of my eye. I then heard a slow crunch, crunch as he tried to chew the chip quietly. Silly Qdoba cashier. I nearly turned around to tell him that I knew exactly what he had done, but I decided not to embarrass him and let him get away with it... this time.

And now for you fans of the Office and all things funny, courtesy of Bob.

Study Skills

Apparently I don't have any. I've been "studying" kidney physiology all day, but I still don't understand a single thing about glomerular filtration or tubular function. It only took me about five hours of listening to the lectures online to realize that Dr. Kutchai was saying "thick ascending limb," not "thick-ass ending limb." Now I can finally stop wondering why he keeps cursing during class.

It doesn't help that Nosheen introduced me to F*** My Life this afternoon. Check it out; I've added it to the links at the top of the page in place of Stuff White People Like, which has been suffering from a severe lack of updates in the past few months. But seriously, if Christian Lander has run out of creative juices, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Five Dollar Footlongs

Part of why University Baptist Church is so great is its location. It's at the end of the Corner, putting it literally steps away from some of my favorite restaurants, like Baja Bean Co., Pita Pit, and Arch's. After church this morning, I swung by Subway to grab a delicious Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Sandwich on Honey Oat Bread before heading over to the library. As I was walking down JPA, I passed a guy who was leaving the hospital. When he saw my bag, his eyes immediately lit up the way Titan's do when he hears me open the peanut butter jar. He knocked me over, pinned me to the ground, shook me violently, and demanded, "Where is the closest Subway!?" Okay, so maybe only the last part of that sentence is true, but you can't prove it. Anyway, I directed him towards the Subway on the Corner, and he went merrily along his way.

Speaking of Titan, I'm bringing him to the dog park this afternoon for the first time ever. Here's to hoping that he doesn't do anything too embarrassing.

Killer Instinct

Every year, the president of the medical school is assassinated at the hospital staff meeting in the spring. It's a horrid affair, but it is an effective way of keeping our leaders in check. This year, I was selected to be the gunman, an honor that I was no less than ecstatic to receive. Finally, I would get to live out my dream to be the next James Bond!

For some reason, in spite of this imminent threat, people still choose to run for the position of president. It must be peculiar to know exactly when and where your death will occur, but as a result, the assassination becomes more difficult each year as the president beefs up his or her security in hopes of being the one to finally escape this unfortunate fate.

This year, my year, was no different. I came up with the perfect strategy, with a series of relays that had to be carried to perfection in order for the plan to be carried out successfully (think Ocean's Eleven or The Italian Job). My fellow agents were flawless, and before I knew it, I was running down the hallway with my sniper rifle trying to get to the meeting hall in time to shoot the president as she processed in. I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins, and I pulled the trigger just as the president rounded the corner of the table she was to sit at. I watched her reel and fall backwards, bolting from the scene as soon as I knew she was dead.

The rest of my dream (oh yeah, did I mention that this was all a dream?), I sank into a deep depression. I could not believe that I had taken someone else's life, and I was utterly inconsolable. It was so upsetting that it was still bothering me this morning when I woke up. I've never had a dream where I've killed someone before, and even as thrilling as this kill was, I'm beginning to wonder if there's something wrong with me...

Going Once, Going Twice...

Tonight is the SMD2012 Date Auction! There are 19 dates being auctioned off, each of which comes with a free meal at a local restaurant. I come with a $50 gift certificate to Cassis, so if you're reading this and you're going to be in Charlottesville tonight, you had better show up to Boylan Heights at 8pm to bid on me. Also, the highest bidder all night wins an additional $100 gift certificate to L'Etoile, and I WANT IT.

The only thing that might pose a problem is my recent (and I mean very recent) engagement to Beth. She's studying in Florence this semester, and apparently guys are so forward in Italy that she's started to wear a fake engagement ring and telling eager suitors that she has a fiance back in the States. Much to my chagrin, she informed me last night that her imaginary fiance goes to UVA Law School. Law School? Seriously? I couldn't let her leave it at that, so I immediately proposed to her in the most romantic way possible: via Gchat, complete with a "<3" emoticon. Now, she's engaged to a UVA medical school student. Ah, much better.

Also, Beth, this is the only photo I could find of us standing next to each other. And you're making that weird face of yours. I refuse to use this as our engagement photo. We have a lot of work to do when you get back to Virginia.

Gotta Catch 'Em All!

You know when you laugh so hard you start to cry? Well, it happens to me at least once a day. Today, it happened during Neuroscience lecture because Sunny tried to explain to me a Bumper Sticker she had seen last night on Facebook and was planning to send to me this afternoon. I thought I was going to die of joy right then and there, but I have lived long enough to tell the tale. If you can figure out what it means, then Sunny and I welcome you to the Geek club. If you can't, then you're probably better off for it, and you can find out what it is by highlighting the white space below.

Answer: I'm not gonna RAICHU a love song.

Speaking of Grief and Loss...

Healer's Art is a course designed to help medical students explore the emotional aspects of becoming a doctor. We meet once every few weeks, and tonight we focused on the topic of Sharing Grief and Honoring Loss. I walked back to my house after the class ended, wondering the whole time why my backpack felt lighter than it did when I went to school this morning. I merely assumed that I had experienced great muscle hypertrophy in my shoulders and back over the course of the day, but it turned out to be something much worse. I opened my backpack when I got home and discovered that Alessandra, my MacBook Black, was not inside.

Luckily, Joseph had found it sitting in the Mulholland Lounge and gave it to Lindsay, who drove it all the way to my house. Thanks, guys... without you, I would be in the throes of despair right now. And I wouldn't even be able to blog about it. What would I do with all of my pent-up emotions!? Oh, the horror!
And thus ends another horrifically unproductive day. As it turns out, classes were in fact not canceled this morning, but I opted to sleep in and skip the first two lectures anyway. I then managed to spend a total of seven hours in the Digital Media Library putting together the VMed Talent Show 2009 DVDs and uploading each of the acts onto YouTube. Sure, it took a long time, but what a great way to procrastinate! You can check out the entire show here.

And now that it's 11pm, I guess I should begin studying. Good thing I don't have a neuroscience quiz tomorrow or anything! Oh wait... sigh.

Six More Weeks of Winter

This past week, the internet has been abuzz with a Superbowl dish known as the Bacon Explosion. The recipe calls for 2 pounds of thick cut bacon, 2 pounds Italian sausage, 1 jar of barbeque sauce, and 1 jar of barbeque rub. Being the real man that he is, Bob not only made the Bacon Explosion for our party, but he even added a layer of cheddar cheese, causing anyone who even laid eyes upon it to experience an immediate myocardial infarction. I'm ashamed to say that at the clutch moment, I wimped out and didn't try it. My pride is hurt, but my arteries and veins rejoice!

Also, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, so apparently we'll be having six more weeks of winter. Temperatures in Charlottesville dropped instantly, as if on cue. We went from 61 degrees and sunny this afternoon to what is now 33 degrees and half an inch of snow on the ground. If tomorrow's classes were canceled, that would be great, too... hmm, Punxsutawney Phil?

A Night to Remember

As if medical school weren't enough like high school already, we had VMed Prom 2009 last night. Tina and I went to dinner at Continental Divide with Lee and Lindsay, Randy and Jess, and Byron and Robin, although Robin apparently had the worst day of her life and showed up to dinner just in time for the waitress to bring out our checks.

We rented the Wahooptie, a classy kelly green '88 Lincoln stretch, to take us to Newcomb Hall. I was excited because it was my first time in a limo, but I was horrified because the interior looked like a crack den. It also took twice as long for us to get there as it should have because our chauffeur didn't know how to get from JPA to Newcomb Hall (!?), but he was kind enough to turn off the meter when I realized that he had driven us all the way out to Ivy.

The crowning moment of the night (pun intended) was when Nosheen and I won Prom Prince and Princess. I felt so popular, so loved, so powerful... until I was informed that they couldn't find any sashes that said "Prince" on them, so all of the guys on Prom Court got "Princess" sashes instead. Of course, I immediately used that to milk as much attention as I could out of everyone else. Masculinity fail; attention whore win!