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.