Cake or pie?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Most Likely To...

My high school was relatively large. My graduating class had over 600 seniors walking, and a bunch who were not walking. I didn't win any senior superlatives, you know, like "Best Dressed" or "Best Smile" or "Most Likely to Succeed." I could tell you one I would have won, hands-down, had it been offered and voted upon.

Most Likely To Be Walking Around With Fly Down.

I catch myself like this a lot. I don't know what it says about me. Am I absent-minded? Am I in such a hurry, go go go all the time, that after urinating I rush to wash my hands and gtfo of the bathroom? I don't think other people notice nearly as often as I do, or at least I don't consciously check OTHER people to see if they left their fly down. Maybe that is a good thing?

The sad part about it is that a lot of the time I have no idea how long it's been down. Did I pull my pants/shorts on that morning while getting dressed and completely forget, or was it just after the last trip to the bathroom?

In unrelated news, I had my first organic chemistry exam yesterday, and my first physics exam this morning. I felt pretty good about organic chemistry but there were a little over 20 questions, so there isn't a lot of a margin for error. You figure you miss 2-3 and you're already in B territory if there is no curve, BUUUUUUT....

Apparently there is a huge curve in the class. This professor's exams are multiple choice, but known to have class averages in the 40s. Is organic chemistry like this everywhere?? Like I said, I felt good about the exam, out of the 20ish questions, 7-8 I knew cold without having to draw out a structure or really take a close look at, but I did anyway. These were questions like, "What's the name of this?" (insert picture of some bicyclohexane), or "Put in the correct order of base strength" (easy enough, think about the conjugate acids, position on periodic table, electronegativity, inductive effect, etc). Then there were other questions that you had to draw out (which one is NOT a resonance structure of x, etc.). Overall, though, I think I did well. I should find out tomorrow or next week, and I'm going to call my Dad and tell him, because he asked, and because he wants me to do well.

The physics exam was problem-based, just a handful of multi-part problems on kinematics in 1-2 dimensions including velocity, acceleration and vectors of course. There was no formula sheet, so of course I'm scribbling the formulas I remember on the scratch paper, like v = v(sub)0 + at, v^2 = v(sub)0^2 +2a(x-x0), x = x(sub)0 + v(sub)0t + 1/2at^2. If you have done a lot of practice problems though, all of the problems tend to look alike after a while in that you identify the knowns, and the unknown, or "the-big-bad-they're-asking-for." I think the professor said the grades would be posted Friday sometime, so we'll see how I did.

Big news coming soon-ish.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I haven't given much thought to what specialty(ies?) I am most interested in at this point. I know some pre-meds, both traditional and non-traditional, are gung ho about a particular field. One of my lab partners in the second half of general chemistry last year was gung ho about obstetrics & gynecology. She talked a lot about shadowing in L&D and seeing some really bad lacs. I wonder if she told her boyfriend all about it. He probably loved hearing about it.

For me, I'd like to think I'm being open-minded about specialty choice. Besides, it's kind of a moot point until I am an actual medical student, and I start getting exposure to the specialties, especially in the clinical years. There are certain stereotypes for most of the specialties, but I am sure there are exceptions to them as well. I don't mean to say I don't care what kind of doctor I become, I do care. I am pretty interested in the different surgical specialties. However, the fact that I'm 29 now, but a "young" and unattached 29 (I have a lot of energy, stay fit and I'm not married & I have no kids) and most likely 31 or 32 when I matriculate if everything goes as planned, that the length of residency may be a factor as far as what specialty I pick to pursue in the match. If I graduate around 35 or 36, I don't know if I'm really going to want to do say five years of general surgery (and potentially fellowship on top of that), you know? That won't be the only deciding factor.. if not much changes at that point, the main things being my chronological age and my education of course, then I may still be looking at surgical specialties. If I'm married at that point, plans may change. It's good to have a plan but life often throws you curveballs. I think without a plan at all though, you're essentially like a ship without a sail and you drift to wherever the currents take you. So I have some semblance of a plan. :)

I know there is a 130-ish question test on the University of Virginia medical school's website somewhere that ranks the specialties based on your response to questions, like "I tend to ...." with the answers being "Agree" through to "Disagree" with "Neutral" in the middle on the scale (5 options to pick from total). I think I started taking it before but I didn't finish because something shiny distracted me. Maybe I'd be good in emergency medicine? Totally kidding. I read a lot of different blogs and there are definitely some ED attendings' blogs in there.

I dated an ob/gyn resident a year or so ago, and when I told her I was going to do the postbac thing, it became a game where she would guess what she saw as my specialty. I think the most common ones she guessed were emergency, ortho, and general surgery. She said I didn't "seem like" an internist. Whatever that means.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Root Canal'd

My first, and hopefully last, root canal was this morning. I was a little late getting up to the dentist's office, and I hate being late but the traffic in Northern Virginia is truly unpredictable. I love Northern Virginia & the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, but the traffic is both unpredictable AND horrible most of the time. My appointment was at 8 a.m. and I left my house at a quarter to 7, which theoretically should have given me plenty of time to get to the dental office, considering that's one hour and fifteen minutes to cover a little over 20 miles. Guess what... I was a half hour late thanks to a crash further up I-395 near the 14th Street Bridge, further up from where I had to go.

Moving right along, I get to the dentist's office and the dentist numbs me up with the good stuff, not sure what, other than it wasn't Novocaine since he said it's "faster acting than Novocaine" and then gave a Novocaine shot after that. Soon enough, that side of my face was numb, from just under the orbital bone of the eye down to my mandible and the midline of my chin. Wow, okay, that really is the "good stuff." He left to check on a different patient and the assistant put the rubber dental dam in place around the affected molar. I'm not going to play-by-play the entire procedure, if you are curious look up "root canal therapy" at Google, but suffice to say, it got done. Honestly, the worst part of the entire procedure was I drank waaay too much water this morning before leaving the house and I had to pee so bad the entire time I was in the chair, which was around two hours. I was hoping I didn't fall asleep in the chair because if I did, I totally would have woken up with wood, and you really wanted to know that. Right?

Root canals aren't so bad after all. However, with that being said, I hope this is my last one. :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Second Impressions, Root Canal Yikes!

The second week of classes is over. Due to the Labor Day holiday, my organic lab didn't meet. Our first meeting is this week, which means I should probably do the reading and pre-lab sometime tonight or tomorrow. I do a fair amount of practice problems, if a fair amount equals I see myself running through reams of paper. I'm sorry, forests! I'm sure there is a direct correlation between your grade in organic chemistry and physics, as it is with most math and physical sciences/chemistry classes, and the amount of paper you expend doing practice problems. I do the textbook problems for organic, plus I use the Klein book, which is excellent. I'm going to e-mail him sometime this semester and tell him how much he rocks at explaining stuff.

Physics is going well. The recitation is interesting, and we get to see any problems we have difficulty with solved by the instructor. She is very good at explaining things, but so far it isn't that difficult - we are only doing kinematics in 1 or 2 dimensions, non-rotating. Basically it is a lot of velocity, acceleration, time, etc. Some problems give velocity and time and you have to find the acceleration, but there are about four equations we use and depending on the given quantities, you pick which one is appropriate, and they recommend drawing a picture. The instructor for recitation is also good about posting grades on Blackboard pretty quickly. Each meeting is worth 20 points (10 for attending the entire time, 10 for a quiz and up to +3 for participation, good explanations or good questions, but can't exceed 20 points in a given meeting). I got a 19 for the first meeting, so I assume I got 9 points on the quiz. I probably got points off for taking shortcuts, not including units or using the wrong amount of significant figures. I guess the important thing is I know how to do the problems but I need to include everything they will be looking for to show my process in getting to the answer. I will have to see what I did.

Tomorrow, I am having a root canal at 8 a.m. sharp. I swear my dental hygiene the past few years has been as good as a dentist's kid's, but I admit for a long time I did not floss regularly, but I did brush and use mouthwash. What that lead to was that I had an inlay done on one of my back molars a year or two ago, and recently developed an abscess on the gum underneath it. After calling my dentist, but speaking to the office manager/scheduler, she said the dentist had looked at the panoramic x-rays from my last cleaning a few weeks ago and thinks I will need a root canal. He called it a prescription for Pen VK for me, so I have to take 500 mg tabs every 6 hours, for 10 days. It kind of sucks not being able to sleep for more than 6 hours since I don't want to miss a dose, but the abscess has grown smaller. The office manager said the worst-case scenario was that they would need to do a root canal, which we went ahead and scheduled, and then crown it. I get a 15% discount since I'm a cash patient, since I have no major restorative dental insurance, just 2/year cleanings and oral exams, so the root canal, if it needs to be done, will be a little under $1k. The post-fill and crown would be an additional $1500ish. I hate the D.C. area sometimes, but I'm sure some other areas have higher dental costs.

I complained about the $2500 quote, considering he hadn't mentioned the possibility of needing a root canal at my last cleaning when the panoramic x-rays were taken. She talked to the dentist and they agreed to drill through the inlay and try to put a filling in its place post-root canal.

I've never had a root canal. Should I be scared? :(

The finale of True Blood is tonight. I admit it, I watch it. I watched the first season and I've read all the books too, my sister got me hooked on them. It's interesting to see how Alan Ball adapts the books into the series, I think he has made some great choices so far (sparing Lafayette, turning Tara from an olive-skinned white woman into a black woman, and a few others). Maybe I'll do the organic lab stuff after True Blood, if I don't watch Hung. Remember, it's not TV... it's HBO­™.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Impression: Organic Chemistry

Today I had my first lecture in organic chemistry and first meeting of the organic chemistry lab. The professor in the lecture seems like a pretty laid-back guy, he was wearing Asics running shoes with his khakis and blazer so he already gets a thumbs-up from me. I'm an Asics kind of guy. I like that their name is derived from the Latin expression "Anima sana in corpore sano" which means "A sound spirit in a sound body." The original quote from Juvenal was "Mens sana in corpore sano" which means "A sound mind in a sound body" but I guess ASICS sounds better than MSICS. High school Latin rears its ugly head again, sorry. Alea iacta est. Sorry, I think it's out of my system now! I'm sorry for the diversion, let's get back to organic.

Unlike the physics professor in our 50 minute class yesterday, the organic professor went over the syllabus in about 10 minutes, leaving most of the hour and fifteen minute lecture to actually lecture. He made a few introductory comments about organic.. it is the chemistry of carbon, and then went into depth in the language of organic and the myriad ways with which to depict the molecules we will study, some of which was review, like Lewis dot structures, but also dash line models (wedge represents the plane heading towards the viewer from the paper, dashed line represents plane heading away from the viewer). We started off with something simple, which was this:

Yes, it's good old methane, CH4. There are a bunch of ways to depict methane, including the 3D ball/stick model above, and we drew it a bunch of different ways, talked about nodal planes, lobes and phases, and how phases are depicted by + or - signs, which he admitted can be confusing, since they don't indicate a positive or negative charge.

Then we talked about line drawings like /\ could represent propane and it's assumed that each angle and each endpoint of the line represents a carbon atom and the hydrogens to fill its orbitals. We talked a LOT about atomic orbitals and molecular orbitals near the end of class. We also hit structural isomers very briefly near the end, talking about the line drawings, which seem to me like the easiest shorthand to use in organic chemistry. Then we talked about propane and specifically how this:

is not propane. You always have to assume the endpoints of lines are occupied by C's (carbons) he said, with the hydrogen necessary to fill out the rest of the orbitals present as well. So instead of the above being propane, this has a longest chain of 5 carbons, making it a pentane, with methyl groups at the 2,2 positions, 3,3 positions, and 4,4 positions (six methyl groups total) making it 2,2,3,3,4,4-hexamethylpentane. At least I'm not confused. Yet. Yay!

The lab was pretty straightfoward in that we did not do anything substantive. Our instructor introduced herself, she's originally from somewhere overseas (I know where she's from, I was paying attention, but forgive me for being intentionally vague), but has been in the US for over thirty years, and says when she gets excited she can be hard to understand so if that happens, we are to tell her to slow down. Next, we went around, everyone introducing themselves with their name, major, and something interesting about them. I just said I graduated years ago, I'm a post-bac. Not so interesting. In my lab section there are a few other pre-meds and a lot of sophomores and juniors. In addition the interestingness included a guy that has played the guitar for several years, a Redskins fan, an expert diaper changer and a girl that loves to dance. Gotta love those icebreakers!

We had check-in for our drawers, signed that everything was present even though no one really checked, student, lab instructor or even the director of the labs. I guess if something is missing at the end of the semester we're screwed. Oh well. The last thing we did after turning in our paperwork (sheet confirming we've already taken the organic chemistry I lecture somewhere or are currently enrolled in it, lab rules/safety sheet agreement, and combination personal info/emergency contact and medical Hx sheet), we watched a dated safety video that looked like it was produced in the mid-90s. I know at least a few people in the lab, one that I worked with in my genchem II lab, and he was a smart, dependable partner, which is always a plus. I don't get anxious about who I get paired up with, but it just sucks so hard when your lab partner does not know what they're doing or how to do the simplest of calculations (even in Excel!), which happened to me last year a few times. This one girl in question, one time she sent me a text wanting to compare my lab report to hers and WE HAD NOT WORKED TOGETHER! I hate being passive aggressive, but even so, I just ignored her text, thinking to myself, "Yes, why don't you 'compare' your nonexistent lab report to mine. That sounds great!"