Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year: In Memoriam (2010-2010)

At only a year old, the year is already gone. Many of us will mourn the passing of 2010, but others know that it was just its time. On this, its last day, I remember some highlights from the break.

The holiday means something special to my family. And by "special," I mean weird. On Christmas day, in honor of the food that had been and will be eaten, my mother took my brother and I on a blistery power-walk through the Shunganunga (its actual name) Park of Topeka. Although my brother and I initially complained at the prospect of "physical activity", it did give us time to work on our respective swaggers.

Pictured above: Haters gon' hate.

Afterwards, we gorged on the finest foodstuffs Kansas had to offer: Panera Bread. For those unfamiliar with the chain, everything is served out of a bread bowl, including the soup, coffee, and your receipt. Veterans like us know that the bowls do not always have to be eaten, and in fact can also double as festive bread hats. These can be re-used for future bread-themed parties.

Pictured above: My brother enjoying his two favorite things: eating and stabbing himself in the hand with a knife.

Then, we all went home to give each other gifts. I presented my brother with his 1st bow tie and my mother with her 145th and 146th scarves. As expected, I received gifts akin to my new lifestyle: socks, undershirts, pocket squares, and men's jewelry. As a 60-year-old man trapped in the body of a 22-year-old, I was ecstatic.

Pictured above: Pocket squares, cufflinks, and collar clips, also known as The Gentleman's Trifecta.

Happy New Year, internet.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Very Kansas Christmas Eve

Just like all of the other medical students around the country, I have begun my annual migration towards my home far-away for the holiday season. Similar to the green sea turtles, we travel hundreds or thousands of miles back to where we hatched. And like these great reptiles, many of us will probably be eaten by seagulls or get stuck in traffic.

My journey started at O'Hare Airport, where I dined on authentic Chicago cuisine for the last time before my trip. It would have to last me nearly a week.

Pictured above: The cookies were homemade, but the coffee was brewed with the disdain of Chicago's finest minimum-wage employees.

As I waited for my flight at the gate, a lady probably in her late twenties sat across from me. As I was in dire need of practice talking to such women, I engaged her. Here is an abridged version of our conversation.

ME: Nice glasses.
LADY: Got them in Europe.
ME: I have heard of Europe. Living in Chicago?
LADY: New York.
ME: Graduate school?
LADY: Art History.
ME: Medical school.
LADY: Unimpressed. Mundane city talk.
[Now boarding]
ME: Enjoy your glasses.

All in all, I give it a C+ for conversation, though I was very proud of my actual parting line "Enjoy your glasses." Apparently, she did not find this nonsense phrase very amusing. I boarded the plane and, on the walkway, had this conversation with an elderly gentleman.

[MAN stops to tie his shoe. I stand behind him awkwardly, not wanting to cut in line.]
MAN: Oh, you can go ahead.
ME: Sorry, I didn't know how touchy you would be if I cut in front of you.
MAN: [laughs] Don't worry.
ME: It's just that I've been trying not to get into fistfights in walkways anymore.

The plane ride itself was largely uneventful.

Pictured above: The view from my aisle seat.

I even put out a symbolic flag for those around me, to let them know how elitist and sophisticated I was.

Pictured above: I'm reading David Sedaris. He is not a comedian, he is a humorist. He is also gay. Can't you see how interesting I am?

Once I arrived in Kansas City, my odyssey was nearly complete. My driver/mother was a few minutes late, but this is just what you get when you let the mothers unionize.

Pictured above: The Kansas City Airport was full of both hustle and bustle.

Now it is Christmas Eve, and as the frozen rain falls upon these Topeka streets, I realize that I had forgotten to pack my holiday tie. Tragedy befalls me yet again.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dirigible Pirate

I have two weeks of break before I must return to medical school, and I'm trying my best to indulge in as many vices as possible. With all these free time on my hands, I was planning on starting up a blacksmith inside my apartment. However, I forgot about that "smelting clause" in my lease, and I was forced to close shop. Maybe I'll just stick to buying vintage clothes.

Pictured above: Thrift store shopping spree. Three bow ties, one necktie, two gray blazers, and two scarves.
Not Pictured: Pair of khaki pants, dignity.

I purchased all of that for less than $50, believe it or not. And even more shocking, I didn't even have to root around in the trash to get it. I acquired them in "stores," though I am unaware of the origin or status of the previous owner. All I'm saying is that I can neither confirm nor deny if these clothes were the result of grave-robbing.

Pictured above: A "brand" of some note.

But I am also using my time to develop new habits to become more of a gentleman. For instance, I have begun wearing hats while outside.

Pictured above: I am only a few steps away from challenging someone to a zeppelin race 'round the world.

Alas, I am still not the coolest guy in medical school. A "friend" of mine had the honor of purchasing a pirate jacket from H&M yesterday.

Pictured above: Unfortunately, H&M was fresh out of designer eyepatches, so he could not complete his look.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winter Break!

Hooray! Now that I have completed my third medical school exam, I will be able to go outside and enjoy the wonderful Chicago winte-
Oh, yeah.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Medical School Study Tips

It's that time again. With an exam on the way, medical students everywhere are eschewing our dear friend Kris Kringle for the warm hearth of gastro-intestinal anatomy and histology. In the holiday spirit, I offer you my tried and true study tips, guaranteed to increase test scores by 20%, decrease body fat by 63%, and eliminate the symptoms of tertiary syphilis.

1. Mnemonics

Having trouble remembering the names of the arteries and nerves? Try some helpful mnemonics! For example, the arteries of the pelvis can be remembered by the saying: "The superior gluteal, inferior gluteal, pudendal, obturator, and superior vescicular arteries are stupid and hard to remember!"

2. Time management

We all have trouble balancing studying and our hobbies (such as binge drinking or cage-fighting), so here's a tip on how to save time while listening to the audio lectures. Just collect 20 sets of speakers and set them up around your apartment. Then, connect them to 20 mp3 players and have them play 20 different audio lecture notes at the same time. Stand in the center of the room and absorb the information with ease. This Cacophony of Cochard (trademarked, by the way) method is also effective at pulverizing kidney stones.

3. Study groups

Study groups present the illusion of productivity, but did you know that they offer you the opportunity to take an offensive role in your medical school education? Sabotage other study groups to lower the mean of the exam. Join many different groups and send them confusing and contradictory information. Advanced users of this technique may also vandalize wikipedia pages.

4. Location, location, location

Everyone knows that you should study where you will take the exam, but for even higher scores, you should live there. I have been living our of my histology locker for the past few weeks, and as long as you don't mind shaving with your anatomy scalpel, so can you!

5. Cheating

Did you know that you can cheat to get a higher score on the exam? It's easier than it looks! All you have to do is study your notes beforehand, and when you are taking the exam, you will remember the facts you are being tested over! They won't see what hit them!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday (Party)

It is that time of year again. Snow is softy falling upon North Face jackets, songs of anatomical mnemonics play through the heads of frozen medical students, and seasonal affective disorder drifts on the clouds of steam from hot cocoa.

Pictured above: Porcelain angels are also lining our televisions, filling the air with porcelain song.

The holiday season has always held great meaning to me, and not just because of my large collection of red and green v-neck sweaters. It is a month to be kind to my fellow man, which will allow me to disregard him for the other eleven. But how am I to enjoy the frivolous pursuit of superficial happiness alone and cold in the big city? To solve this dilemma, I discussed it over breakfast at Elly's Pancake house with my neighbor/accomplice Ro. Loyal readers will remember her as the lady who tried to poison me with macaroons last summer.

Pictured above: Much like Ro, Elly's was full of deceit. And wicker baskets. And I don't know which was more unsettling.

After a brief knife fight to decide who would get to order the eggs benedict (I lost, as Ro is famous both for her love of butterfly knives and her love of hollandaise sauce), we debated the merits of embracing the holiday season.

Pictured above: Coffee helped ease the tension. But not my slash wounds.

Of course, I will throw a dinner party and invite all of my friends! But first, I needed some friends. I promptly went out-of-doors and offered $20 to any passerby to come to my apartment and be my friend. Despite my reassurance that "I'm not a weirdo or anything" and my insistence that "I'm just super lonely and have no friends," no one took me up on the offer. There was a pigeon that did steal a dollar from me though, and I did not take that as a solid "no".

It looked like I would have to go with Plan B: invite medical students. I managed to trick a few of my peers into attendance by blindfolding them and tossing into the back of a van. Before you judge me, you should know that all of this was explained on the e-vite I sent them.

Overall, I had a lovely time at my dinner party. And although I have a reputation for being quite the "square," I had plenty of opportunities to get "groovy" and "funky" with my friends late into the night. I stayed up past 9 o' clock and put whipped cream on tea AND muffins. I was out of control!

Pictured above: Clearly, the tea was flowing at my party.

It was quite the evening, but now I've got to clean up and get back to work. The gastro-intestinal system isn't going to learn itself, you know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

From the Archives: Middle School Mayhem

[During my senior year of high school, I was asked to give a commencement speech for the graduates of my old middle school. Below is a copy of the ACTUAL commencement speech I orated back in 2006. It is so old, I only have a hard copy.

1) The red marks are from my mother, who I asked to edit it.
2) Keep in mind, I ACTUALLY read this to dozens of teachers, hundreds of students, and even more parents.
3) It is curious that my humor has failed to mature in nearly five years.]

Friday, November 26, 2010

Topeka: The Apple That Never Sleeps

Well, here I am. I am far from the glory of Chicago, the riches and splendor of that glittering metropolis of Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. And today, on this holy day of Turki-cide, I am back home. I am in Topeka, the jewel of Kansas.

The trip went smoothly enough. I was finally able to use my leather travelling bag and try out my special airport outfit.

Pictured above: I wanted to look good for the full body scanning, though I did forget to wear my lead tie.

The MD/PHD program's private jet was a great way to travel, but the champagne fountain really just became annoying above 15,000 ft. And just as I was lighting a Cuban cigar with a $100 bill in double-first-class, I wondered what it would be like to be a "normal" medical student.

Pictured above: If I were, I probably wouldn't have this in my basement. This is the first poster I ever presented at a scientific meeting. Oh science puns, I miss you.

When I arrived at home to my biological mother and brother, we gathered to join in that most magical of holiday traditions: manual labor. I worked to install four sets of drapes in two rooms and hauled furniture through hallways. I was just glad that I didn't have to work in the salt mines this year.

Pictured above: Ooh, this is one of my favorite holiday games! You remove the metal brace from the old drapes with a rusty hammer, and if you begin to bleed uncontrollably, it is said there will be five more weeks of winter. Just kidding, I don't actually believe that! I know that screws and bolts don't control the weather! Poseidon does.

After our feast of this year's tofu harvest and the ritualistic sacrifice of a jar of kim-chee, I departed my house to enjoy the company of my few remaining Topeka "friends." We all played something called "Trivial Pursuit", which is a "board game." From what I understand, these "board games" are a kind of PlayStation made out of cardboard and plastic. They are different in that board games cost less than $300 and do not require electricity. They are the same in that both distract us from our own mortality.

Pictured above: The "game." The version we played was published in the 1980's, so I was placed in a severe disadvantage. My knowledge of leg-warmers and mullets was noticeably limited, though I did do well in the "Hammer-pants" category.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

(Failed) Speed Dating

For the most part, I write blog entries describing my medical school triumphs and sartorial eccentricities. But when something momentous occurs in my life, I will gladly share it with the internet. A personal dream of mine was fulfilled this week as I participated in my first-ever speed dating experience. I, and other medical student men, went on 4-minute dates with the lovely ladies of the nearby law school. We were given forms to fill out to indicate which men/women we found suitable. This may be a challenge to most men in my position, but I was prepared.

Pictured above: Just throw on your tuxedo jacket and let the peak lapels do the talking.

Actually, I arrived more casually, as to not frighten these kind women too early with the true nature of my metrosexuality. I wore a necktie and a v-neck sweater, which is the first step in my personal seduction system.

Step 1: Look like Mr. Rogers.
Step 2: Explain why you look like a grandpa.
Step 3: Apologize for spilling your drink.
Step 4: Go home alone.
[Note, the Sai Seduction System is still in its beta phase of field-testing]

Pictured above: Only deploy a velvet vest in emergency dating situations.

So, I ended up talking to nearly 15 different ladies from the law school. They were all quite sweet, but the awkwardness of the situation expanded as the night wore on, like some sort of awkward souffle. My conservations typically went like this:

ME: Place of origin?
GIRL: Place of origin.
ME: Joke about place of origin!
GIRL: Do not understand. Hobbies?
ME: List of hobbies plus joke hobby.
GIRL: Joking?
ME: Joking.
GIRL: Silence.
ME: Words.
[Time up!]

And after all the smalltalk could not be spoken any smaller, the male medical students parted ways with the female law students. While in the medical post-date huddle, I discovered that some of the men had chosen an interesting strategy. Many had responded "yes" to nearly every date. This gave me a great idea.

Now, I'm sure there were a few ladies who implemented a similar plan. Therefore, this is great opportunity for me to launch my bold new company Sai's Speed-Speed-Dating, where I will just give the emails of all the singles to each other (for a small fee) as soon as they sign up, without having to go through the trouble of "meeting" each other! Slogan: "Where love and sadness meet!"

Pictured above: With my adventure over, all I have to do is sit back, relax, eat my poppyseed-apple-eggnog pancakes, and let the results of the speed dating roll into my email inbox.

And they just came in! No matches. Well, I was planning on crying alone in my apartment tonight anyway, so that simplifies my plans for the evening. Hooray!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vintage Voyage Vivacity

When people comment on my personal style, it usually comes down to two types of questions.

1. Why are you dressed like that?

2. How old are you?

The answer to the first question is easy enough ("Because I'm awesome."), but the second is more tricky. Apparently, my sartorial decisions have made me look like an old man, devoid of any youthful glow and content to complain about how the internet and fax machines are destroying family values.

It seems most Chicagoans assume that I am about 28 years old (approximately two Justin Bieber's), which over time has increased the standard deviation of age-related guesses beyond a comfortable level. But instead of trying to fight back against this image of senescence, I've embraced this truth about my appearance. Better to be old and bitter than young and beloved. Wait, that doesn't sound right...

Anyway, I've indulged in some recent vintage clothing purchases to cement my elderly personal philosophy and appearance. First, I needed a raincoat.

Pictured above: A beautiful, double-breasted, navy-blue trench-coat. I don't plan on engaging in much trench warfare during my 7-15 years in the MD/PHD program, but you never know when the Kaiser will strike.

I had to take in the sides a bit (London Fog tends to be a bit boxy), but when such a coat is only $6, it is definitely worth the effort.

Pictured above: The recommended washing instructions. To maintain its authenticity, however, I will be cleaning it the old-fashioned way: by indentured servant.

I also purchased a leather travelling bag ($5) and a khaki fedora ($10). Now, my ensemble is complete.

Pictured above: I wonder if there is such a thing as a "vintage nerd"...

Together, I now will look like a 19th century British explorer, ready to indulge in the silks and spices (and colonial oppression) of the orient or participate in big-game hunting (and colonial oppression) in the Serengeti. How extravagant!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Welcome to Northwestern! Put on Your 3-D Glasses Now!

This last Wednesday, I had the privilege of mingling with some interviewees for the MD/PHD Program, which quickly made me nostalgic. It seems like it was only a year ago I was applying to MD/PHD programs...

At first, they appeared a nervous bunch; they were all dressed in that prised oasis of American style: business casual. The ambiguity of dress code ranged from cardigans to full suits, a result that I greatly enjoyed watching unfold. It is much easier to make harsh judgments of people based on appearance if we force them to make such sartorial decisions. I remember I wore a gray, hounds-tooth blazer with a white pocket square over a white oxford shirt to my interview here. It was definitely the strongest part of my application.

Pictured above: Ah, those were the days. Now I am forced to deal with the dilemma of matching my stethoscope with my outfit. As expensive as stethoscopes are, I still imagine how awesome it would be to have multiple stethoscopes in different colors so I could match them with my ties.

The M1 class of the MSTP took it upon itself to take these applicants out on the town, specifically, to bar called Rock Bottom. I had fun, even though bars really aren't my scene. I tried to let the program bring the interviewees to my weekly cockfighting ring, but the program directors informed me that the NIH cannot fund non-mammalian violence without prior authorization. This such a tragedy, since you can't get a real feel for a medical school without seeing the strength of their underground gambling programs. US News and World Report now uses it as a metric for ranking schools.

Pictured above: Rock Bottom Bar and Lounge. Stabbing-free since 2002!

I talked a big game for Northwestern, partly out of obligation for the portion of my MSTP salary itemized as "deception". As one the MD/PHD program's star students ("star" because I am burning a sizable hole into the program and my core is made up mostly of fused protons), I felt qualified to describe my school with a hyperbolic pride.

Pictured above: This is Prentice Women's Hospital. About 100 million babies are delivered here EVERY HOUR. That's enough babies to destroy Harvard Medical School.

I also may have exaggerated a few things about the city.

Pictured above: This is the Hancock building. It was named after John Hancock who, after achieving fame as having the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence, built this tower to house his giant pen. This also is why the Boston Massacre is re-enacted every morning when it opens for business.

Okay, enough lies for now. Back to studying.

Monday, October 25, 2010

150 Uses of the Gourde

Ah, Halloween. As a child, I learned quickly the important lesson that deception grants us the ability to get what we want. But now that I am a grown-up, I no longer have the privilege to knock on the doors of strangers and demand candy. This is mostly because of my increased maturity, but partially due to the restraining orders.

Nevertheless, I met up with my brother and sister-in-law last weekend to make some festive, decorative gourds. We had a lot of work ahead of us.

Pictured above: By "work" I mean "pumpkin guts." After having my hands in an embalmed cadaver last week, I enjoyed the chance to rip out moist innards without having to worry about severing the phrenic nerve.

Did you know that pumpkin carving was actually invented by George Washington Carver who, drunk off his prestige as a legume scientist, published a pamphlet titled: "150 Uses of the Gourde and Gourde Products"? It turns out it was just a series of carvings of his own face into pumpkins. This was met with poor reviews by the scientific community, which eventually caused him to invent the peanut allergy in a vengeful rage. Later, he was also unsuccessful in changing the name of the pumpkin to "orange super-peanut."

I went in another direction with my pumpkin. I wanted to create a pumpkin with elegance, grace, and style.

Pictured above: Nerd pumpkin. Or perhaps Andre 3000 pumpkin.

My brother, an electronic-videographic gaming enthusiast, chose instead to depict one of his favorite characters.

Pictured above: My brother now cannot stop making this face.

My sister-in-law perhaps gave the most thought to her creation. After careful thinking and internet soul-searching, she finally finished her own self-portrait.

Pictured above: I can see the resemblance, but I don't think her tentacles are as long as she thinks.

All in all, it was a great experience. I got a chance to bond with my family through a wholesome activity, and I also got the opportunity to examine the vascular structure of my hands as I cut several arteries and veins trying to give a pumpkin a bow tie with a fillet knife.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to Order Dolphin in Chinatown

Although I've been living in Chicago for nearly 5 months now (that's 22.5 monthometers for you metric system users out there), I had never yet ventured to Chinatown. This is mostly because I was told that if I traveled anywhere south of the loop in Chicago, I would be instantly mugged, stabbed, shot, forced to join a gang, and, worst of all, be confronted by my own white guilt. Luckily, on this my first trip to Chinatown, I had "friends" to protect me. Or at least people more easily stabbed than me.

Pictured above: C'mon, guys! Getting stabbed isn't that bad! Think of it as being hugged by a knife.

We went to a 24-hour Chinese diner, which turned out to be very similar to American diners, with some key differences. For instance, instead of everything being deep fried, everything was covered in soy sauce. And instead of a jukebox playing in the corner, we were flanked by dual televisions playing bizarre Chinese soap operas. I was secretly hoping that a bunch of Chinese Jets would challenge the Chinese Sharks to a quaint gang battle while we were there, but sadly no one joined in when I started snapping and dancing around the hostess.

Regardless, I was happy to escape my medical school bubble. It was fun to spend time with friends who don't flinch at the word "histology."

Pictured above: Best friends forever!

First, we started with an appetizer. We wanted to eat the most dangerous animal on the menu, but since they had unfortunately run out of murder-fin tuna, we ordered the jellyfish.

Pictured above: Jellyfish tastes like neither jelly nor fish, but rather like a tentacled turnip. But just like when you are consuming any cnidarian, you are just happy that your mouth isn't being filled with venomous barbs.

I, of course, asked for a dish on the secret menu, which required that I give the secret passcode ("I'm Asian. No, really.").

Pictured above: It was a bit of a hassle, but not many places can bring you dolphin meat this fresh.

Overall, it was quite the satisfactory meal. We even went to a nearby bakery to top off the night.

Pictured above: Green tea cheesecake? Now I've seen everything! Oh wait, never mind. I still haven't seen Iron Man 2. But I imagine that it would be similar to eating green tea cheesecake.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ferns and Other Bloodthirsty Plants

I can be a "fun" guy. I went to a "bar" with the rest of the medical students and "danced" at a "club." But as wild as I get when I stay up past my 9:30 p.m. bedtime, I realize that I do occasionally partake in "unusual" activities for my 18-24 year-old demographic. For instance, yesterday I went to the Conservatory.

The Conservatory, despite sounding like a place where Republicans are allowed to breed in captivity, is actually just a large greenhouse where a variety of plants are tortured for sport. I, for one, was offended at the cruel conditions that were endured by the helplessly organisms.

Pictured above: This poor flower was forced to fend for itself, and it may go its entire life without ever knowings its parents, stamen OR anther. It may never know where it got its long stem or embarrassing petal pattern. And with such low self-esteem, it will probably start dating a gymnosperm half its age.

However, I did fall in love with the steampunk aesthetic of the Conservatory's glass dome. Apparently, this Conservatory has been around for over a century and still has the rusty pipes and steel chains to prove it. I can only imagine how many moustachioed men tightened screws for the steam-powered Greening engine for their Artificial Botanirarrium.

Pictured above: Oh, valves. In my dream house, all of the electronics will be operated by giant levers and the doors opened by iron wheels.

But I was also appalled at the lack of security. There were no fences to protect the visitors from the more viscous plants, so it just remains a matter of time before the ferns execute their daring and violent escape plan. The blood of their victims is on your hands, Conservatory.

Pictured above: The Japanese Shield Fern is the ninja of ferns. The nametag lists its common name, scientific name, and political powers controlled by its iron-fronds.

Overall, going to see some pretty flowers in a greenhouse may hurt the bad-boy image I've been crafting in medical school, but it was worth it. I enjoyed mocking the plants by showing them all how easy it was for me to move in and out of the greenhouse with my mammalian legs. They retaliated by reminding me of my allergy to pollen. Touché, plants.

Pictured above: This is just a picture of some banana fritters I made. I couldn't think of any jokes to work with it, despite "banana fritters" sounding like one of the best punchlines of all time. Oh, well. I'll get you next time, banana fritters.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Exam Exuberance

Today, I have completed and "passed" my first medical school exam! True to my upbringing, I whipped out my non-regulation Number 2 1/2 pencil, which has the extra 10% graphite hardness I needed to conquer this test. I was, of course, the first to finish the exam, since the brain parasite implanted by the Kumon math program is still eating away at the impulse control part of my brain. But it didn't stop me from putting on my leather jacket, peeling out on my motorcycle, and leaving the rest of those suckers behind as I rode into the sunset (NOTE: at this point, it was only 9:30 a.m., so it was more "sunrise" than "sunset." Also, the motorcycle is fictional.).

Time to kick back, relax, and go crazy this weekend!

Pictured Above: THREE kinds of bow ties! Now we are getting the party started!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Autumn" is the gentleman's "Fall"

Autumn is here! And do you know what that means?

Pictured Above: Yes! It means blazers and matching pocket squares! I also would have accepted "sweater vests" or "the hipsters' scarves have suddenly become useful."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ducks Don't Have Hands

The first exam of medical school is fast approaching, and I will be faced with my first academic challenge in Chicago. As my classmates scurry to the library to stress about this upcoming test, I place my hand warmly upon their shoulders and say: "Don't worry. This is medical school. Failure is not an option; it is an inevitability." Oddly enough, this did not comfort them, despite being a big part of my upcoming motivational speaker series "Don't Give Up, Give In: You've Already Lost!"

Regardless, I have found some time to distract myself from the tedium of pretending to study. I went to explore the underground tunnels near the lake, where I discovered a city of hundreds of spiders.

Pictured above: Chi-town spi-town. The joggers and bikers going through the tunnel all stopped to see why I was taking pictures. Then they noticed that the entire tunnel was covered in spiders, and promptly started to freak out. They all ran out, even after I reassured them that they would have a solid 12 hours of consciousness before they succumbed to a violent death from a spider bite. Some people just can't see the bright side of things.

When not spider spelunking, I've also been putting in some time with my brother and his wife. My brother plays the husband role well (wears a variety of sweaters), and my sister-in-law is just as accomplished (criticizes said sweaters). But occasionally, we will all go to a coffee shop to get away from it all to discuss politics and other non-sweater-related issues.

Pictured above: I also ordered the world's smallest scone. I didn't mind so much, because it made my coffee look huge. Then it also made my hands look huge, which made me quite self-conscious. But I recovered, remembering that promise I made never to let baked-goods affect my self esteem ever again.

The coffee shop also had a board of weekly specials. This was good news for me, since I was only aware of the "free doughnuts in the dumpster behind Dunkin' Donuts after it closes" special in my neighborhood.

Pictured above: My favorite is the "buy two pies, get one free" Wednesday. Some of you may be asking, "Why do you need three pies?" Well, I certainly do not need three pies. I do need two pies, and who am I to deny a third if it presents itself?

We also went to a Vietnamese restaurant later that night, where our table shared dishes prepared from an entire duck. The roast duck was carved and made into Vietnamese sandwiches, the scraps were made into a fried rice dish and a fried noodle dish, and then the rest of the carcass was made into a Pho soup. At the end, we were all given a raspberry sorbet, leading us to ponder as to what was the duck's contribution to the dessert. Initially, my guess was that the ducks (being excellent chefs) actually prepared the sorbet while they were still alive, but then I remembered that they don't have hands. And as anyone who has made a sorbet can tell you, you definitely need hands.

Pictured above: Peking duck. Like the Native Americans who use every part of the buffalo, the Vietnamese truly use every part of the duck. But while the American Indians fashion tools from some of the most exotic parts of the buffalo, the Vietnamese simply label the more disgusting body parts in a duck as "delicacies." Even a guy drinking water from a buffalo bladder would think that is gross, and buffalo bladders are one of the bottom five bladders you can drink from.