Sunday, May 29, 2011

How to Order Squid Balls in Chinatown

So, with the first year of medical school behind me, I ventured down to Chinatown to celebrate with my brother and his friends. Loyal readers will remember that the last time I went to Chinatown, I tried to order the most illegal item on the menu and then attacked our waiter after I entered jellyfish madness.

But this time, we got "hot pot" style Chinese food. For those unfamiliar, it is where you hold thinly sliced meats in boiling, spiced water to flash-cook them.

Pictured above: On the left is the "non-spicy" water, and on the right is a mixture of 20% water, 20% peppers, and 60% neurotoxin blend.

So, it is the Chinese version of the American State-fair, with just boring water instead of that delicious deep-fry oil. Also, you cannot get nacho cheese dipping sauce for your squid.

Pictured above: "Sai, why are you taking a picture of your chopsticks?" "I'm going to put it on my blog." "What?" "Oh, don't worry. I'll think of some witty caption for it."

Anyway, I got to eat cuttlefish balls. Oh, don't worry, it was just ground squid formed into balls. Though I think it may have been 60% squid gonad.

Pictured above: Lanterns adorned with the traditional Chinese symbol representing "10%-off if you pay in cash".

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Prelude: Chicago Summer!

Pictured above: "Okay guys, just try to act normal...I guess this will have to do."

Pictured above: "Fine, Sai. Just don't do that thing where you put your arms around us... Come on!"

Pictured above: "Really, Doug? People are watching."

Pictured above: "Okay, I guess that's close enough."

Pictured above: "Don't worry. I'm not going to post this one."

Pictured above: "Okay, sassier...sassier...sassier...PERFECT."

Pictured above: "Really, Sai? Another picture of us in a field?"

Pictured above: "No way I'm going over there to take a picture of you. Do you have any idea how much these loafers cost? Almost FIVE DOLLARS. I'm not getting sand in them."

Pictured above: "Okay, Doug. Try to look...okay...well, can you about you put your arms...all right. This is fine."

Pictured above: "You guys know that I'm charging you $100 an hour to photograph you, right?"

Pictured above: "Frattier...frattier...frattier...PERFECT."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What now?

[Below is an excerpt from a chapter from my upcoming novel The Unforgivening: The Tragedy of Medical School. The protagonist has just finished his last Structure-Function exam of his first year.]

He looked blankly around his apartment. All his notes and textbooks had already been packed away into neat little boxes. Nothing but a hastily scrawled "Exam" on his calender even gave hint to the magnificence the past year. Those days were gone now.

He was already two root beers into the evening, and not the value-brand stuff. The strong stuff was the only thing that kept him going now. The kind with amounts of high-fructose corn syrup far above EPA safety levels. But no amount of empty calories could fill the empty void of studying in his heart. He glanced at the box that held all of his notes from the last unit. Neuroscience. Was it really over? It called to him, tugging at his mind-strings.

"Just one more hour of studying," he told himself. "Just one more hour. And then I'll stop. I promise." He just wanted to look at another beautiful diagram of the basal ganglia circuit. But he knew he didn't want to just see one. He wanted to study it all. He wanted another test. But it was done now.

Medical school was all he knew. What now? His trusted friend, the Google Calender, would be able to help. Google Calender always knew what to do. Things to attend, things to study. But no. Now it was just filled with blank white space. Is this what was known as "free time"? Surely it was the product of madmen.

He walked over to the window and looked over the fog that had descended over the city. He rose his bottle to the sky and mused on the fate of all the medical students like him struggling to return to civilization.

"Oh, those moments we shared. The classes we adored. Now we must face the unforgiving Chicago summer. We must face the warm weather, the free festivals, and the excess of vacation time. We must face a lack of responsibilities, a lack of expectations, an unrelenting pressure to enjoy ourselves. May God help us all."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Neuro Study Tips

As we approach the last exam of our first year of medical school, I thought it would be appropriate to share some helpful tips in my repertoire as a neurobiology major in college.

Tip #1: The Soul

While Descartes thought the seat of the soul was in the pineal gland, modern scientists have discovered that "soul" resides in the Soul and Pre-Soul Areas in the parietal lobes of rhesus monkeys. When stimulated by an electrode and "Get Up Off of That Thing" by James Brown, the primates demonstrate the phenomenon known as "Hot Pants."

Tip #2: Freud

We are all familiar with Freud's concept of the Id, Superego, and Ego, but did you know that Freud discovered even more complex divisions of the human psyche? For instance, he was the first to describe the Uber-ego, which is every human's drive to become a psychological icon despite the lack of any evidence to support their theories, and the Unter-id, which is the uncontrollable emotion evoked when forced to learn about a pre-scientific concept in a post-graduate education.

Tip #3: Tracts

There are many spinal and brain tracts, carrying all sorts of afferent and efferent information. Their names all sound about the same, have crazy acronyms, and synapse onto a huge range of complex nuclei. But here is an easy way to remember them! ...well, uh, nevermind. I can't think of anything. You are probably just going to have to get these questions wrong. Hmmm...rubrospinal tract? That's something, right?

Tip #4: Performance-enhancing drugs

We learned that boosting NMDA receptors can improve memory, so this is the perfect time to apply our knowledge! I, myself, have been injecting myself with experimental retroviruses carrying several different species-worth of genetically altered NMDA receptors. I can feel myself remembering things better, but there are some weird side-effkjlag;iubaeiaenrgaeigbareg12421323234.

Tip #5: Giving up/Taking One for the Team

Let's face it, this is the last exam of the year. You are probably excited about your upcoming summer trip to Africa/South America/Rural Alabama and your upcoming malaria medication/typhoid vaccine/racism vaccine. You know what, you deserve a break. Kick back, relax, and drive down that average score for the rest of us. You/We deserve it.

That's it! Good luck, and keep on "studying"!

Pictured above: "Studying," or rearranging the ties in my closet.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Speed Dating 3: Vulcan Nerf Gun Edition

So, I went speed dating. Again.

Pictured above: It's important to place the name-tag near the pocket square. It sends a message. And that message is "Hi! I'm Sai, and I hope you are ready for disappointment!"

In any case, here (again) are some out-of-context quotes from the evening:

"I took the job hoping for free botox injections."

"I keep a vulcan nerf gun under my desk."

"Wait, you seem really young. This is for 33-43 year-olds, right?"

"Why won't you teach me how to swing dance!?"

So, overall, it was an amazing night. As a reward, I bought myself a new straw hat to go along with my new sunglasses.

Pictured above: Now all I need is my own Columbian drug cartel.