Friday, September 24, 2010

On the road again...

Just finished a whole day of exams -- hurrah!!! Peds is now over and I (finally) got my G license. As a reward for all my hard work today, I spent an hour on my couch surfing the web and thinking about our upcoming across-Algonquin adventure.

Below are some really excellent examples of adventure videography. Hopefully, Penguin and I can put our heads together and come up with a good way to record our spring expedition for your entertainment.

Algonquin Park Photomotion Adventure from Hannah Maia on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just because I can hear you through the wall does not mean that I get to participate.

Ok. 3rd blog post today, I know. Being sick + chicken guilt + thinking about babies is a recipe for depression in this household and the best cure for depression that I know of is Penguin. Since Penguin is in a different time zone right now (actually, he's in Vegas for a week with his boys), I have to rely on the comic gold of our past correspondences. And believe you me, it really is gold. Enjoy.


Memoirs of an Undergraduate Lab Rat
Year 5.last.semester.ever.
February 11th, 2008

  • At 11:57pm, the Lab Rat blows out her candles and takes a hot water bottle with her to bed.
  • Prior to this, the Lab Rat had studied consistently for approximately 9 consecutive hours.
  • It should be noted that the Lab Rat did take a break to watch Oprah between 4 and 5 pm, but dutifully muted the television during the commercial breaks in order to keep studying.
  • The Lab Rat, sadly, did not eat dinner. Or snack. In fact, she completely forgot about that thing called food.
  • In the last 9 hours, the Lab Rat has read more slides than she can count and created over 32 pages of notes.
  • The Lab Rat shall arise at 5am tomorrow to continue studying the last 3 chapters (8-10) and review said notes before her midterm.
  • The Lab Rat is not looking forward to writing her midterm. However, since it is the LAST BIOCHEM MIDTERM EVER, the Lab Rat will attempt to appear enthusiastic.
  • The Lab Rat desires carrots.

Lab Rat


Dear Lab Rat,

We at 
Tufty Ears Laboratories have read your recently submitted memoirs. Your dedication to your work is very notable. 9 consecutive hours of studying without pausing for food demonstrates a strong will and dedication, even in light of your puzzling, yet intruiging fascination with Oprah. A note-taking rate greater than 3.5 pages per hour is well above our requirements, especially accounting for the numerous slides you have read. The text of your memoirs indicates that you can count at least as high as 32, which is an acceptable number.

We would be interested in meeting with you to discuss the possibility of a position with 
Tufty Ears Laboratories. A block of time this upcoming weekend has been set aside for you. This will be an informal gathering, although you should be prepared to answer some questions, particularly the specific number of slides you can count up to. It was unclear whether your remark about desiring carrots was an initiation of salary negotiations, however rest assured there will be an ample supply of carrots this weekend.

Thank you for considering 
Tufty Ears Laboratories. We look forward to seeing you this weekend. Sincerely,

- Penguin
CEO and Chief Carrot

No one has ever been charged for smoking oregano...

I tried to solve my chicken-guilt by mindlessly creeping on Facebook this afternoon since I was too snuffly to get any productive work done. Facebook didn't help, it just gave me more to think about.

It seems like everyone I know these days is either engaged, married, pregnant, or has a newborn. So, needless to say, FB is filled with new pictures of infants, engagement rings, and wedding pics. Sometimes in that order, too. Today, I've ping-pong'ed back and forth between looking at baby pictures and writing about my biochem thesis where I cloned a gene. Right about now, my CV reads something like this:

"Hello, my name is Saroja. I cloned a novel gene during university but I'm terrified of the idea of meiosis occurring in my uterus."

I will admit though that I've spent some time in the last few months looking at cute baby stuff. I mean, I'm 25. My reproductive years are limited. Sometimes, I fantasize about buying some of the extra cute baby stuff I see. Not because I like babies but because I like the idea of extolling my idea of what is cute and what is not on the blank slate of a child's psyche so that they'll grow up to have exactly the same tastes and interests as me. And also because we already know that I have a problem with impulse buying.

Anyway, I can usually end these fantasies pretty quickly by imagining Penguin finding my hidden shoebox of baby stuff. I picture myself becoming pale and stammering... "My ovaries made me do it, I swear."Because really, up until this point, we've only ever discussed my becoming pregnant as a Worst Case Scenario. That's right, Accidental Pregnancy is filed under A in my binder of Disaster Management Plans. And if you think I'm kidding, I'm not. (As a side note, Penguin is all for the actualization of a future hypothetical child at the appropriate time. I'm the one who's throwing up all the speed bumps to that actualization... frankly, I'm throwing up speed bumps at the actualization of our discussing the actualization of a future hypothetical child, too. Which, frankly, I think is better than throwing up because of morning sickness because pregnancy itself has to be a pretty significant speed bump in life.)

Anyway, there's a none-too-fabled list of Pro's and Con's to having a child that I've been keeping while we navigate through medical school. And no, I won't share it here on the world wide web. I think everyone's decision to have or not to have children is personal - and should probably stay that way for the kids' sakes. And it's not that I'm judging the wonderful people I know for their happiness in life. They are doing a great job of being terrific parents and raising strong, happy, healthy children. Kudos to them.

This post is really just about recording the significant vacillations I have about considering the prospect of future child rearing. The breaking news is that I can admit I like cute baby stuff. I also like blaming my internal organs for making me do crazy things that are out of character for me. And lastly, I like the idea that we could tell my parents that I'm pregnant by presenting them with a bushel of chicken wire. It might take them a few minutes but they'd eventually figure it out. It's an inside joke in my family.

But, let's not forget. The reason I'm sitting around thinking about all this baby stuff is because I was on FB trying to repress the memory of buying a chicken today that was severely under-valued. Why did I buy the chicken? Because I'm sick and I didn't have the energy to go to the ethical butcher and buy a happy chicken and then dress and cook it myself. Why am I sick? Because I'm on my pediatrics rotation. A child gave me their strep throat when they coughed directly in my face while I was trying to look in their throat.

That's right. I'm blaming the kid.

“The difference between 'involvement' and 'commitment' is like an eggs-and-bacon breakfast: the chicken was 'involved' - the pig was 'committed'.”

Three days ago, I came down with strep throat (cultures pending). Today, I turned the corner and am finally beginning to improve. I can swallow my own saliva again (yay!) and even though my nose is running like a faucet and I still have a spiky temperature, I feel better than I have all week.

Having been unable to eat anything but chicken broth and popsicles for 3 days, I was delighted to awaken this morning with the knowledge that I'd finally be able to eat real food again (ie. I could swallow and it didn't feel like razor blades were going down my oropharynx). I also had just enough energy to get to the grocery store and back in order to restock my empty pantry.

Well, even though I made a list and checked it twice, I ended up engaging in some rather bizarre impulse buys. That's the trouble when you go shopping and still have a fever. The first craving had to do with potatoes. I bought regular red potatoes for roasting, baking potatoes for baking, mashed and scalloped potatoes in boxes, french fries, and potato chips. Can you say, "Holy carb craving, Batman"? You'd think I was pregnant. I'm not. Just sick.

But the crowning impulse buy was a cooked BBQ chicken. It cost $7.99 and even though I couldn't smell it's tantalizing aroma, I was sure it was exactly the perfect compliment to my main course of potatoes.

It wasn't until I got home and was halfway through eating one of the chicken legs that my illness-fogged brain started doing the math. Apparently, a chicken's life is worth only $7.99. Could I look a chicken in the eye and tell it that for 1 penny less than 8 bucks, I could kill and eat it? No, I don't think I could. $7.99 is too cheap - I can't even buy a paperback book for that price! Life, even chicken life, is more valuable than that for me.

But wait. It's worse. $7.99 also covers all the costs of raising a chicken from egg to adult. This includes food, shelter, and vet care. It also covers transportation from the chicken farm to the butcher. Plus the actual butchering and cleaning process and then, lastly, the seasoning and cooking of the chicken before me. And nowhere in there is any calculation for overhead at the grocery store or profit for the farmer.

It turns out that a chicken is really not worth very much at all. And that makes me pretty sad. Because I like chickens. Because I think that all lives are valuable and I don't like the idea that I'm willing to pay only $3 more for a chicken than I do for my potatoes. That doesn't say very much for the chicken.

So yes, I'm glad that I'm finally able to eat solid food again... but I'm pretty disappointed in my choices. It's time to get back on the wagon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

While you were sitting in the back seat smoking a cigarette you thought was your last, I was falling deep, deeply in love with you.

Quote of the day: She was like a chain-smoking grizzly bear who had just awoken in the spring, all shaggy and thin- and just as grumpy. She only worked the night shifts and I called her Grandma.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How to Introduce Yourself as Batman

Correct Method:

Incorrect Method:

and finally - we'll let you judge the appropriateness of this last one:

This isn't life at Walden Pond, sorry.

Today is Sept 1st and with only 4.5 months between me and CaRMS interviews, I decided that I needed to prepare for game day with more than a catchy CV and a heavily edited personal letter. Thus, Operation Turbo-Minx (OTM) has been brought into being.

If you're sitting at home right now wondering, WTF is OTM? Let me explain. Between now and January, I promise myself that I will not let anything come between me and physical fitness 4 times a week (minimum). The plan is to get myself into peak physical shape by interview day.

Why? - you may ask... a few reasons: (1) if I don't do it now, I won't do it later; (2) sports are my way of dealing with stress and applying for residency is the most stressful thing I've done yet; and (3) I want to look good (scratch that...) I want to look GREAT for interview day. I want to walk into my interview looking like Catwoman (minus the leather unitard) and have them think, Damn. Look at those guns! This woman means business.

OTM will consist of the following 4 workouts: run, swim, spin, and yoga - one day each during the week regardless of crazy call schedules or overwhelming homework. In addition, I'll be undertaking the Twenty Pull Ups Challenge. Why? Because Pull Ups (or Chin Ups, I haven't decided which to do yet) are hardcore and butch. Also, nothing develops grit like doing 20 Pull Ups - other than eating gravel, that is.

Lastly, I'm calling this Operation Turbo Minx for a few reasons. Firstly, all epic adventures deserve a code name. Secondly, Turbo is appropriate because if I'm really going to achieve all this, that's pretty much the speed at which I'll have to get things done during the day to make enough time and still get sufficient sleep. Thirdly, because Minx are sexy and smart and vicious - all excellent qualities in a surgical candidate.

So there you have it folks. Day 1 found me sweating buckets on the spin bike and ready to tackle more.
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