Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kevin and David say goodbye to Yellow Magic

Relax, it's not the end of our postings.  We have simply decided to rename the blog in the hopes of having a title that's more medically relevant.  If everything goes according to plan your browsers should automatically forward you to the new address and this post will be pointless.  But for those of you with antiquated software or are reading this via a RSS feed, please change your bookmarks, homepages, tattoos etc to:

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kevin has too many med student pet peeves

I've noticed quite a few oddities in medical school that for some reason never really bothered me during my undergraduate studies. They’re not offensive but odd enough for me to take notice. I don’t think these people are unique to my particular medical school so maybe everyone can relate. Who knows, maybe you’re one of my pet peeves.  Here's my top %

5. Inappropriate questions
We have one particularly gross offender that can just fire off questions non-stop. Most students average maybe 1 question per week, if that. I think I can count on my hands the number of questions I’ve had to ask in class. But this guy is prolific in his question asking. Most of the time, the questions are only marginally relevant to the discussion and usually much too in-depth to be of benefit for anyone else. Instead, the rest of us are forced sit through his ego stroking barrage of questions while subtly shaking our heads.

4. Too many colored pens
I never really understood this but some people still insist on taking all their notes on paper even though everything is prepared on powerpoint slides. Environmental irresponsibility aside, I’ve noticed some people who really really love color coding their printed notes. I’m not really sure what color corresponds with what, only that these people have upwards of 8 pens of lovely pastels to help them remember conjugation is just a fancy word for bacteria sex.

3. Laptop on laptop sleeve
This really isn’t bad or annoying as much as it’s perplexing. I’ve noticed that some people like to place their laptop sleeves underneath their laptops while in use. I can only assume this is somehow meant to protect the machine from the ravages of our plastic table top. Such misguided attempts to protect their $1000+ investment is understandable but ultimately ironic. The most likely source of damage to laptops, and most computers, comes from improper venting and the accumulation of heat that damages CPUs, RAM, Hard Drives etc. And nothing builds heat more than placing a insulating foam pad on the bottom of the computer to effectively block any and all vent holes the engineers might have placed. Don’t believe me? Try using your computer by putting it on top of a pillow or bed and feel how hot it gets.

2. Taking too long to leave the classroom
At the end of every class I’m among the first to pack up and get ready to head out the door. However, I am always impeded by those who are just a bit slower, leaving me in the middle of a row twiddling my thumbs. This is quite frustrating since I dont actively rush through my packing, yet somehow I'm always among the first to be ready. Other people seem to take an endless amount of time packing and talking (never at the same time). Perhaps they love medical school so much, they subconsciously stall their packing ritual to milk ever last drop of medical schoolness before the day is over. Who knows.

1.  Jess
No explanation necessary.

Monday, April 28, 2008

David Discusses 5 Things He's Learned in Microbiology

One of the most important skills one acquires in medical school is the ability to synthesize endless amounts of information and develop useful frameworks with which to organize and understand seemingly disparate concepts. In Microbiology, we learn about myriad bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other baddies ad nauseum, and depend on a variety of such strategies in order to make sense of what sometimes feels like an insurmountable mountain of minutiae.

Looking for high-yield study tips? You've clearly come to the wrong place. Instead, here, in no particular order, are five important things I've learned in Micro so far:

5) Not all fungi are fun.

This pearl of wisdom is from Kevin. They can't all be winners...

4) It's time to page Dr. Robot.

So far, it seems like a computer would be as good or better at diagnosing all of the diseases we've studied. Sure, there are subtleties about each, but for the most part we're focusing on things that approximate a complicated checklist (Fever? Y/N. Burning while you pee? Y/N. Excessive play with turtles? Y/N).

Clearly, the next step is to invent Dr. Robot. One probe in the mouth, another down south, and a way to input the patient's responses to a series of questions that help the robot pinpoint the disease. You could even put a little white coat on him and give him some outstretched arms so people know he cares. (Alternatively, we could just find a human physician named Robot who's a whiz at ID. As long as someone's called Dr. Robot, I'm happy.)

3)Noah should have raised admissions requirements for the Ark.

After God told him to pack up the boat, perhaps Noah should have been a bit more selective about which animals made the cut. He really couldn't find two rabbits without Francisella or a couple flying squirrels that were disease free? He couldn't spare five minutes for a quick delousing effort? Pretty lazy, Noah, even for you.

If animal cleaning wasn't Noah's bag, at least he could've sealed the ship before the syph hopped on board. Nobody wins when genital lesions are involved.

2) There already is a Kevin* Disease (with a twist).

Apparently, a Kevin* Disease already exists. Yet instead of one that Kevin discovers and names after himself in order to watch his viral namesake wreak havoc across the third world, this is a bug seemingly tailor-made to infect Kevin. Perhaps we could call it Bizarro Kevin* Disease? BK*D is actually Bacillus cereus , a bacterium sometimes found in poorly heated fried rice. Tragically, his greatest friend has become his deadliest foe.

Now, every time Kevin uses the microwave, he's walking a tightrope walk of death, through a ring of fire, over a pool of sharks with laser beams mounted to their heads and dogs on their backs that shoot bees out of their mouths with each bark. His life has devolved into a terrifying game of Chopstick Roulette.

1) The vagina is an extremely dangerous place.

Contrary to popular belief, what may seem like a bed of daisies and kittens can actually be a raging cesspool of microbiological evil. Every bug and its brother kicks it in the vagina. Want more evidence? Look at all the bad times that befall neonates. What more would you expect from something that has to bust through this danger zone to make it to freedom?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kevin Warns You About Perineal Silicosis

Perineal Silicosis aka Sand in your Crotch

Perineal Silicosis is characterized by silicon dioxide deposition in the perineal region.  However, PS has a characteristic neurological component that is the basis of clinical diagnosis.  Patients with PS are irritable, adversarial, sarcastic and annoying during social situations. Behavior can best be described as "bitchy," complaining endlessly over trivial matters that no one else cares about. PS patients are prone to overreactions and endless whining. The rants generated by a patient with PS are frequently vitreolic, overly emotional, and most unfortunately, completely devoid of humor.

Etiology and Epidemiology:
The cause of perineal silicosis is currently unknown but recent studies suggest a heavy genetic influence, with certain populations more prone to infection than others. Rates of occurence tend to increase during times of stress, perhaps hinting at a hormonal component. Though this is an acquired affliction, the source is undetermined and it is not believed to be communicable with human to human contact. It is believed to strike men and women at equal rates but more accurately diagnosed, and treated, among men.

There is no established treatment protocol for PS but common practices usually include social isolation and/or mockery of the patient. With extreme cases, blunt force trauma across the patient's face using either the metacarpal or dorsum of one's hand may be necessary.  Treatments should be applied PRN by classmates, co-workers, friends or any other volunteer nearby.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Kevin wishes these classes were real

Top 5 rejected class proposals

MED 451: Healthcare for the Overserved/Majority Communities
This course is designed to give graduate students in health sciences an introduction to the issues faced by overserved populations related to health and obtaining too much health care. Course will focus on proper treatment of ailments such as twisted ankles, tennis elbow, liposuction as well as breast augmentation. Students will be taught to overdiagnose ADD and dyslexia as well as overprescribing Ritalin and Prozac.

MED 454: Advanced Infectious Diseases. Pre-req: Infectious Diseases
This course prepares health profession students for work in an Infectious Disease specialty through first-hand experience. All registered students are infected with an infectious disease drawn at random. They have until the end of the quarter to identify the infectious agent and design a successful course of treatment.* Course is Pass/Fail. *No credit given posthumously.

MED 696: Medicine and future relationships
This course prepares physicians on leveraging their degrees in social situations for maximum benefit. Male students are taught subtle but useful tricks in a variety of situations to pick up unsuspecting ladies (and gentlemen if that's your style). Examples include casually saying "I'm sorry I can't do another shot, I have heart surgery tomorrow morning" at a bar and "I just love saving all those children" anywhere else. Women are taught to downplay their significantly above-average education as to not scare away insecure, but otherwise eligible males. Techniques include asking obvious questions you already know the answer to, twirling your hair and stressing your desire to practice only part-time. Final is a practical test of learned skills at the local college bar.

MED $$$: Advanced Selling Out. Sponsored by Pfizer (R)
This course prepares health profession students for work in private practice, specificially in surburbia. Curriculum will focus on the importance of prescribing commercial brand pharmaceuticals over the obviously inferior generics. Small group sections involve role-play situations in which students will learn to turn away the majority of medicare and medicaid patients and strictly adhere to a cash-only policy. However, students also learn the nuances of such a policy such as taking on flashy charity cases for publicity and dealing with medical errors through rapid and effective out-of-court settlements and non-disclosure agreements.

MED 000: Alternate career paths
This course prepares health profession students for work in fields other than medicine. Given the state of the healthcare system today, it is important to educate medical students on other career pathways that could make use of their skill set. The class will focus on three major alternative paths: 1. Medical TV show authenticity consultant, 2. Weightloss commercial spokesperson 3. Medical School professor.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

David realizes things finally matter now

At this stage in our education, there has finally come the point where what we are learning will have an immediate, signficant, maybe even life-alterating effect on others in the relatively near future. For me, this marked shift from previous educational experiences seems like a big, perhaps too often glossed-over transition. That is not to say I didn't see this coming long ago - soothsaying and double-negatives are two of my hobbies - but I still think the distinction warrants mentioning.

In high school, some people may undergo fundamental intellectual changes, as they begin to think more abstractly and independently without necessarily allowing teachers or other authority figures to dictate their conclusions. Yet despite all this wonderful personal and intellectual growth, the main scholastic endgame is a golden ticket to the highly-coveted next round: college, and hopefully a good or great one at that. For a lot of students, the academic part of the high school years is less about truly learning and more about getting the grades and SAT/ACT/SATII/ACT3/PSAT9 scores to climb the ladder of undergraduate tiers and get as high up as possible. Though obviously not the only, or even most important, measure of success, getting into a good college still remains a landmark achievement that many identify as the primary educational goal of their upperclass years.

Once you reach Eden University, with its manicured lawns, red-brick quads, flowing fountains, and more libraries than one could ever imagine, then what? Do you learn for learning's sake and explore a whole new intellectual world whose vivacity tickles you deep within your knowledge loins? Maybe you do (or even should). Or maybe you, like countless overs have before, find yourself in the next race, working towards another weighty, seemingly nebulous yet arguably life-changing achievement four more years down the road - med school. That'll be a profound, baby-saving party that won't quit, right? Actually, yeah, it very well could be all that and a bag a Fritos.

Yet because reaching that goal can be challenging, your college time might be spent working towards similar grade/score ambitions that might occasionally force actual learning to the back-burner out of sheer practicality. This isn't necessarily bad. It's hard to do well enough in college to get into medical school, and sometimes, where learning best and improving a grade aren't 100% compatible, it makes sense to favor the latter for the time being. For many, paving the road to the next step is more important than appreciating or learning from every noteworthy stop along the way. Besides, there will be time to catch up on things that were missed or glossed over, and even what's been well-internalized will require quite a bit of brushing up in 1-2 years. So, even if one isn't completely sacrificing learning at the alter of the almighty 'A', a bit of a compromise is sometimes made en route to the ultimate goal.

BUT, once in med school, things actually matter. Sure, grades and scores remain important, but skating through important material with only a mind for H/P/F/whatever may leave students unprepared for the clinical applications that are fast approaching. In college, one could feasily put off O-chem and only do enough to get by in the class. Even the BS MCAT section doesn't require any particularly in-depth O-chem knowledge. In med school, we can't just ignore microbiology and expect it never to pop up in the future. Sure, one might pass the class without knowing all the important details, but the difference is that, sooner rather than later, this stuff is going to be of practical, unavoidable importance. Perhaps this is no big revelation for most people, but I'd argue it represents a fundamental difference in the educational endgame and significantly changes the required approach to the curriculum. This is simultaneously awesome ("Hey, this stuff actually means something now") and maybe even a bit daunting ("Hm, if I don't learn this, there will be real consequences for other people"). Or, perhaps, everyone knows and takes this concept for granted, and I'm just slow enough to find it worth discussing.

Hopefully, this is food for thought. As long as it's not Moroccan food. Excuse me, can I get a fork...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Kevin finds Moroccan Food Illogical

About a week ago I went to a Moroccan restaurant for a friend’s birthday. This was my first foray into Moroccan cuisine and the food, while good, left me confused. Throughout history cultures have had a myriad of methods for consuming their food, whether that be knife and fork, chopsticks or just using hands. Usually no method is better than the other since people modify their cuisine to fit the style (or perhaps vice versa). For example, it would be really inefficient to try to attack a steak with chopsticks, just like how it would be foolish to try to eat a bowl of ramenwith your hands.

Moroccans, flaunting conventional wisdom, have decided to take their cuisine in a different direction. They have opted for the use of hands, a fine and dandy , albeit unsanitary, option. However, unlike their smarter Indian friends, they’ve decided to eschew naan or some kind of bread-like staple. Instead, people simply bare fist hot saucy dishes without the benefit of some kind of protection. This might not be so bad if it’s just rice or a piece of sushi but Moroccans decided to go the couscous route. For those who don’t know, couscous is a type of wheat that is incredibly granular and thus really loose. This is served in conjunction with steaming hot meat (let’s stay professional here) piled on top. So as you try to scoop yourself some couscous goodness, you burn your million dollar fingers on the piping out dish all the while little bits of food is falling off the sides. By the time your hand actually makes it to your mouth, you’re left with maybe 25% of what was originally your share, with the remaining 75% becoming the tears of starving African children. OtherMoroccan dishes don’t make much sense either. For example, they love serving meat on the bone. This would be fine as finger food if it was served individually, but given the Moroccans’ love of sharing, you feel obligated to break off tiny pieces rather than taking the whole thing. So basically there are multiple pairs of hands going over the same piece of chicken, tearing off tiny pieces of meat over and over again.

No chocolate inside, just chicken and eggs

Just in case this might be too clean, all their meats feature some kind of fruit sauce that you would normally find in a dessert. Apparently, Moroccans have no time for multi-course meals (edit: in the traditional sense). Instead they prefer to lump all their meals into one dish, resulting in the b'stilla royale: puff pastry enclosing shredded chicken and scrambled egg, and topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. So basically if your local KFC and Cinnabon collided in a tornado, the result is Moroccan food. Either way, I resisted being the guy to ask for a spoon and finished my meal like a champ, sticky fingers and all.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kevin presents 5 More Guys You Don't Want To Be

5. Asking for knife and fork at a Chinese restaurant guy
I think everyone knows one or two guys like this. Even though they frequent Chinese restaurants regularly, they refuse or even attempt to use chopsticks. Instead, they flag down the nearest waitress and demand a knife and fork to go with his meal. More amusing than offensive, this guy has steadfastly resisted even the most minor amount of cultural immersion. A close cousin of :Knife and Fork at Chinese restaurant guy" is “Ordering the same thing every time guy.” A mainstay of every Panda Express and Safeway deli, this guy consumes “Chinese” food on a biweekly basis yet never wavers in his dedication to one particular order, whether that is sesame chicken, General Tso’s chicken, or some variant therein. Like true American heroes, these two guys tackle their local cultural forays with a dogmatic ethnocentrism that makes the whole experience rather pointless.

4. Too enthusiastic about racist jokes of other ethnicities guy
Everybody loves racist jokes, especially minorities. Look up any minority comedian and his set is inevitably racially oriented. Chris Rock, Carlos Mencia, Russell Peters… all comics working off of racists stereotypes. All this occurs on a smaller scale among groups of friends, especially ones that are racially diverse. Anyone that hangs out with me or David will inevitably discover our love of Asian jokes. For the most part it’s all in good fun and everyone has a good time. If the situation is right, even our white friend will toss in a couple of good natured ribs. When things go a little too far and the humor becomes just a little be offensive, most white guys will simply smile uncomfortably while observing from a distance. This is a pretty well understood social convention that while it might be ok to laugh with minorities as they make racist jokes, and maybe even toss out a few softballs, it’s never ok one-up your minority friends in their own proverbial house. However, there’s always that one guy who thinks he’s exempt from this convention. He might be inclined to toss out the occasional racial slur during the rowdiness and for the most part it goes unchallenged. After all, no one wants to be Overreacting guy either. But please take note, while it’s ok to laugh, it’s rarely ok to make jokes at or above the level of offensiveness your minority friend are tossing out.

3. Jesse
Yeah, I don’t want to be him either

2. Overplays inside-joke he’s not part of guy
“I love inside jokes. I hope to be a part of one some day. ” –Michael Scott, The Office. Inside jokes are a fundamental ingredient in any good friendship dynamic. They are inherently funny with very little set up and can be tossed out frequently as long as it’s situationally appropriate. Given their popularity and the overwhelmingly positive response among those “in the know,” some people might be inclined to force themselves into an inside joke they’re not really a part of. Often times they may hear the joke done once or twice but without fully understanding the back story. Thus, armed with an incomplete understanding on the inside joke, they’ll toss it out at random. This, of course, results in awkward silence or perhaps a pity laugh as the rest of group wonders who this guy is. Don’t be that guy.

1. Being named David guy
Historically, being David has been cushy. A biblical story here, a statue there, pretty good. However, if David was a stock, the opportunity to sell high has long passed. The current crop of Davids has been disappointing to say the least. The slide began with David Duke, born 1950.
After graduating LSU, he decided to dabble in politics and race relations by starting a local chapter of the KKK, eventually rising to the level of Grand Wizard.

Feeling this wasn’t douchey enough, he left the KKK in 1980 to form the NAAWP. Yep, the National Association for the Advancement of White People. Unwilling to settle for racist, Davids decided to enter the entertainment arena as well.

Born 2 years later than his fellow David, The Hoff has enjoyed a long and fruitful career making horrible television, songs, movies and anything else that was meant to entertain human beings. His last television outing was apparently “epically ironic guy”, being one of the regular judges on America’s Got Talent. Clearly, nows not a good time to be a David.

Monday, March 31, 2008

David presents 5 Guys You Don't Want to Be

As two-plus quarters of medical school have conclusively proven, the perfect complement to learning about baby-saving is complaining to random people you don't know who happened upon your blog because they shadily typed in "crazy hot" during a Google search. To continue this worthy pursuit, I present the following list (Kevin's to follow soon):

5 Guys You* Don't Want to Be**:

5) Bad Birthday Present-Giving Guy

Not everyone can give amazing birthday presents (like a giant gift-wrapped box that contains progressively smaller boxes, until all that's left is a lot of boxes, discarded wrapping paper, and no actual gift (or maybe a really nice card!) - Classic!), but some gifts really should have been reconsidered. If you're buying a present and thoughts like "Teehee, this'll be really funny because it's sexual!" or "Here's a novelty T-shirt no one in good conscience would ever wear" cross your mind, it might be time to move on to the next item.

4) Self-Righteous About Obvious Or Long-Ago-Resolved Causes Guy

"You know who I hate? Racists! How can they discriminate against people on the basis of something as superficial as skin color or ethnic heritage!!?" We've all met this guy once or twice and, despite his good intentions, it's a bit tiring to listen to him tear down prejudices or viewpoints no reasonable person you know actually supports.

Yes, SRAOOLARC Guy, we also believe that kicking puppies is bad and that that thing that happened decades ago that everyone back then agreed was wrong is still wrong today. Thanks for yelling.

(If SRAOOLARCG had a cousin, he'd probably complain about people who don't let him into their lane on the freeway and make jokes about how they should make the entire plane out of the black box.)

3) Jesse


2) Cliche Tattoo Guy

Barbed wire may be good for keeping people off your fence, but the time for inking it into your arm has passed. And if you decide an Asian character is a must, make sure what you think means 'serenity' doesnt actually mean 'face.'

1) Picky About Ubiquitous Food Ingredients Guy

This guy, for whatever gastronomical, idiosyncratic reasons (not because of allergies or anything medical), refuses to eat foods with ingredients that are so common that it precludes a shockingly wide variety of options when you go out for a group dinner. I don't even know what cilantro is, are you really sure you can't eat it?


*In the interests of fairness, you don't want to be these girls either.

**It might also be said that the guy you really, really don't want to be is the one who spends his time creating lists of guys you dont want to be. But that will not be said here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Kevin is convinced all white people love white meat

In my 23 years on this good Earth, I’ve come to know quite a few white people, almost more than I can count on my two hands. And while they may all be unique in their education, religion, and politics, there is one unifying trait that is universal: they love white meat. I’m not sure what it is about the breast but white people can’t get enough of it. Today I conducted an informal poll among 8 white people in my vicinity and the results were clear, 100% of gringos love breast meat. This seems to be a distinctly Caucasian preference because all my Asian friends shun the white meat for their dark, succulent brethren. So why do white people love white meat so much? This is truly perplexing. There are several aspects of meat in general that we can examine as possible reasons.

1. You get more meat when you opt for white
I suppose that could be true but I’ve noticed that many white people will choose white meat regardless of quantity provided. This is apparent in buffet situations where the supply is infinite so it only falls upon personal preference.

2. White meat is healthier
This is undeniably true since the deliciousness of dark meat is mostly derived from this fatty goodness. But roast chicken is already pretty unhealthy, or fried chicken. So when your chosen food is already so unhealthy, might as well go with what you like. By this logic, when people choose white meat, its for taste reasons and not health.

So that leave taste, which is a personal thing. I think the reason I love dark meat is the reason people hate it. I love the juicy, fatty, succulent deliciousness of a drumstick. Oddly enough, whenever someone said they opt for white meat, they always explain by saying they hate the taste of dark meat, rather than providing evidence of white meat’s supposed goodness. Truly odd indeed.

Do you prefer white meat or dark meat

View Results
Free poll from Free Web Polls

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

David discusses the 15-15-1 Theory

In my glorious two-plus decades on this planet, I have been many things: scholar, playwright and, most recently, emo-blogger extraordinaire. Today, I add intellectual revolutionary to that storied list as I unveil a strategy that will forever alter the landscape of medical school admissions.

Just kidding. The following is more of a thought experiment. Nonetheless, ladies, gentleman, our #1 fan (that’s you, Julia), maybe even Kevin (but probably not Kevin), I present to you the 15-15-1 Theory:

As many of you know, the journey to medical school is filled with hurdles. One must do well in school and have a decent complement of extracurricular activities and/or research experiences to make the cut at many schools. On top of all that is the MCAT, perhaps the greatest, most-feared obstacle of all. The MCAT, in a nutshell, is comprised of three main multiple-choice sections – Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Verbal Reasoning – each scored on a 15-point scale. There is also a short essay section that students generally believe carries less weight in admissions decisions. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the group that administers the exam, the national average for applicants in 2007 was 27.8, while the average for matriculating students was 30.8.

According to conventional wisdom, a strong applicant has both a high MCAT score and a reasonably even distribution of scores among each subsection. A student with a 9-9-9 breakdown, ceteris paribus, is probably more desirable than one with a 15-6-6, as the former score may indicate a more well-rounded student. This rationale makes perfect sense; a strong medical student should be less a genius in only one subject and more a jack-of-all trades who is competent across the board. We’re not doing hardcore physics or PhD-level biochem here.

Yet how would you choose between a 15-15-1 and 10-10-11, again assuming all other primary characteristics are roughly the same? Here, the choice may not be so clear-cut. Let’s assume for a moment the school has no minimum subsection requirement – which may be highly unlikely, but potentially true in extreme circumstances such as this – and thus does not immediately exclude the 15-15-1. In this scenario, which student is likely to become the more competent physician?

Well, the lopsided genius (LG) is probably a lot more intellectually gifted than the jack of all trades (JT). Two perfect scores indicate LG is very bright and most likely hard-working, both desirable traits for a medical student. JT did fine in each section, but a 31, as evidenced above, is objectively average. Since the margin for error diminishes disproportionately as one approaches the higher scores, the difference between 15 and 11 on any given section is actually quite significant,. So, at least for those two subsections, LG is a world ahead.

But what about the third? Is LG a science whiz who struggles mightily in verbal? (That would be bad, since the VR section correlates most strongly with future clinical performance because it best approximates one’s ability to synthesize new, foreign information and make analytical choices without the benefit of tomes of background information and months of fact-cramming. It’s an extremely loose simulation of any clinical situation, sure, but the critical thinking it demands is a crucial asset for any physician.) Well, maybe LG is or isn’t, but looking at that score breakdown, my guess would be he/she was the victim of some unfortunate twist of fate. Perhaps LG mis-bubbled one of the earliest answers and thoroughly messed up the scantron. Maybe there was a scoring error that wasn’t corrected or some other inaccuracy that was no fault of LG’s. Contingent probability would suggest it’s extremely unlikely that someone capable of a 30 in two sections could possibly score 1 on the third. In fact, I imagine it improbable that LG would even get below a 10 if capable of such dual-section wizardry on the previous two.

What if we assume LG is not even capable of half of his typical brilliance, grant him the slight benefit of the doubt that something strange happened during his exam, and give him a 7. Now his conservative 37 is out of shouting distance from JT’s 31. And since these two candidates are more or less equally qualified in other respects, where does that leave them? At the very least, LG would deserve an interview and a chance to explain what happened, whereas JT might not even make that cut.

Admittedly, this is a unique, rather improbable scenario. To the extent that this would ever occur, the solution would likely be for the admissions committee to recommend LG take the test again to confirm his/her brilliance in all three subjects, reapply the next year, and then choose among the top med schools. But that’s just plain boring.

I’ve discussed this randomly with a number of people, most of whom would favor JT. I’m not so sure. As an extension, if it is completely inconceivable that someone with a 1 in any subsection could ever warrant admission, what if you had to choose, right now, who you’d prefer as your doctor in 10 years? That 1 might be a dealbreaker for acceptance, but who is more likely to pan out in the end?

Clearly, the only way to resolve this amazingly profound debate is for me to drop out, change my name to Lopsided Genius, retake the MCAT and get a 15-15-1, and see what happens. Might be unfair though – that name alone is probably worth an interview.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

David is sad that young Dave was an idiot

Back after an extended hiatus, I have a fresh rant that is arguably less meaningful and more inane than any I have produced so far.

Over the past week, we have been on Spring Break. Since I had some time to relax and the weather was dreary, I made the fateful decision that I would find something to read besides my favorite book, Magazine. Ultimately, I ended up picking one of my sister’s many Narnia books. I remembered reading and thoroughly enjoying them when I was a kid – talking lions, heavy-handed Christian allegory, what’s not to love? – so I figured an hour or so reading one of the series might be worthwhile. Yet where I expected to find a dream world of magic, I instead met nearly unreadable prose. Sure, the words weren't too long, but after a few minutes it was so bad I just couldn’t continue.

Later on, I stumbled upon an old Saved By the Bell rerun. Surely, I thought, this would be an entertainment gold mine. Zach Morris, Kelly Kapowski, Screech, that really tall girl who took all those caffeine pills in the episode when they were making that awesome music video – good times all around. Everyone and their brother loved this show growing up. All teenage misadventures, no annoying angst. Alas, it was not to be; SBTB was more vapid and god-awful than I could possibly imagine.

You guys used to be so cool. Sigh...

All of this led me to the saddening realization that I was an idiot when I was 11 years old. I may have been the Tiger Woods of block-stacking, but apparently I was a bit dim when choosing my entertainment. Seriously, young Dave would’ve bet you six cookies and his entire collection of Ken Griffey Jr. baseball cards that SBTB would stand the eternal test of time as the greatest artistic masterpiece ever created. Now? I could barely stand to watch five minutes before changing the channel (although Zach was still up to his old tricks. What a rascal!).

On the bright side, I am much smarter now. I’d bet six cookies that Friday Night Lights will last forever and be the greatest TV show ever created…

Now this is ground-breakingly original programming (and promotional advertising)!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kevin debunks 2 myths about medical school

1. Medical students are really smart

There seems to be some kind of general assumption that you have to be really smart to do medicine. Not true. Medical schools come in all shapes and sizes and with that, different entrance requirements. While the kids over at WashU are probably phenomenal test-takers and would be considered “smart”, the average med school is quite different. People come from all walks of life and while we’re certainly not dumb, most of us really aren’t that smart. The majority of medical students would not hack it in physics, mathematics, even engineering. Hell, looking at averaged VR MCAT scores, most of us are bad at reading as well. Unlike some other fields, medicine doesn’t require its applicants to be the sharpest knife the drawer, only the eagerest. Those who have academic deficits can more than make up for in volunteer work, perhaps save a few African babies. So what people lack in intelligence, they make up for in good ol’ fashion gumption. This isn’t really a bad thing. Medicine is ultimately a service industry and intelligence alone isn’t always enough (unless you’re a neurosurgeon, then it’s probably good enough). But regular people out there: your doctor may be smarter than the average Joe, but that doesn’t mean he’s a genius.

2. Medical school is difficult

The materials covered in medical school are not difficult. Everything is mostly memorization and regurgitation. Rarely do you have to take what you know and apply it to a truly novel situation. Perhaps this will change in second year but so far, it’s been pretty mundane. That’s not to say classes are not time consuming. Memorizing a lot of random facts takes a decent amount of work, but then again so is laying bricks and neither is really that challenging. A lot of my non-medicine friends really believe medical school is the pinnacle of academic rigor and honestly I don’t have the heart to tell them otherwise. Instead, I play into their assumption and pretend I’m just busy all the time with work. Sometimes I’ll tussle my hair up a little bit before approaching some non-medical friends so I look a bit more frazzled (ok not really but I’m willing to go this far if they catch wind of my ruse).

Monday, March 3, 2008

David advises pre-meds against Biology

It probably seems counterintuitive that anyone would seek my advice about anything. Yet, believe it or not, I often get asked for words of wisdom about navigating the pre-med and med school application process. For any current or prospective pre-meds, here is perhaps the best advice I have: unless you absolutely love biology, enjoy it on a profound and fundamental level that resonates within your pre-med soul, do not major in Biology*. (And if you do love it that much, I’d also argue you should eschew medicine entirely, get a PhD, and cure cancer instead of learning how to treat it. But that is a rant for another day.)

Why? I’m glad you asked. Not majoring in Bio*

1) will help you decide if medicine is really for you.

I know every 4th freshman in college has felt some burning, innate desire to become a doctor and save the world. They played with stethoscopes as toddlers, volunteered at the local children’s hospital during high school, and have told every teacher, relative, and college admissions officer that they’re going to become a whatever-ologist because they really want to help people. Yet despite that medical love-fest, most people have no clue what being a doctor really means. They’ve settled on the ideal of making a difference and saving lives, but haven’t necessarily explored alternative career paths or taken the time to really understand what a physician does on a day-to-day basis.

In high school, everyone takes more or less the same classes and meets roughly the same requirements. College is the best chance to learn new stuff and explore new opportunities. Why pigeon-hole yourself if you don’t have to? The path to physician-hood is a ridiculously long process that requires a lot of personal and financial sacrifice. Pre-meds too often do a disservice to themselves by not exploring other options. So delve into a new subject, not just on a superficial level or even to get that minor you think med schools will care about, but all the way into upper-division classes that really show what the field has to offer. At the same time, do all the shadowing/pre-med club stuff too. The point is to see what’s out there and what you like the best, rather than mindlessly following the rest of the sheep without a second thought.

Finally, what if you major in Bio* and decide medicine is not for you. That's better than entering med school and hating it, but you're still looking at an uphill battle. Unfortunately, a successful career in research is going to demand a hell of a lot more than your BS, and non-science employers won't be that impressed that you know about cells. Again, if you just love the natural sciences and want to pursue the next step in education, this isn't a problem, but if you're banking on med school and it doesn't pan out, things don't look as bright.

2) will teach you something new and valuable.

Ok, so you KNOW you want to become a doctor. There’s no point in even exploring another field, the ingrained instinct to save the children is that strong. If for some unknown reason you couldn’t get that coveted MD, you’d be so distraught that you’d forsake the professional world, tie up a hobo sack, and ride the rails. Well, that’s awesome, congrats on the choice. Now go find something besides bio to learn about for four years.

Contrary to popular belief, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, etc. do not equal Medicine in College. Sure, your O-chem prof might spice up his lectures by talking about the structure of taxol or have you make god-awfully impure aspirin in the lab, but you don’t get to play doctor until MS-1. And once you reach med school, you’ll have two intense years of science and a whole lifetime of literature to satisfy your urges for knowledge. Why not take the chance to put another shot in your bag while you have the time? Major in English and learn about rhetoric. There will be exactly one gazillion times in your life where being a good, persuasive writer will help you. Major in Economics, Finance, Accounting, etc., so you’ll be better able to invest in the future, understand financial markets, and read The Wall Street Journal while holding your glasses loosely with one hand so that the tip of one earpiece is touching the edge of your mouth (then bust out terms like ‘basis point’ and ‘expansionary’ and watch all hell break loose). All of eternity awaits for that medicine-only focus. Learn something cool that you can use later on and you’ll never regret missing that extra bio class on the mechanisms of something the cell does that no one cares about.

3) will HELP your chances of getting in to med school.

Even though I don’t advocate going the non-bio route purely as a way to game the system, I still find it exceedingly obvious that being a non-science major is an effective way to stand out from the crowd.

Sad though it may be, your 3.9/35 (or whatever strong combination you offer) from Look How Awesome I Am University doesn’t impress anyone on any admissions committee at any med school. They’ve seen you and a million more just like you come down the application pipeline over the years. Sure, there are amazing kids every so often that probably get in by virtue of their academic accomplishments alone, but that isn’t a feasible option for the average student. A History major, however, is relatively unique. Assuming you’ve done well in your science courses, the fact that you would bolster the intellectual diversity of an incoming class can only help. People reading your file are probably thinking “Wow, this kid did something cool and unique that will add to our student body,” not “Uh-oh, not enough science, he/she won’t cut it.” And in your interview, you’ll have the rare ability to talk about something you know more about than the interviewer. Who is Prof. Blah going to remember better, the mechanical engineer who worked on the solar car team or that other kid who did that one experiment with those flies?

4) will NOT hurt you once you reach the Promised Land.

“OK, David,” you say. “Sure, I can learn cool non-medical stuff and maybe even get a boost in the application process, but what about once I get accepted? It’s going to be all science, all the time, and my crappy Math degree is going to come back to bite me in the ass.”

Not so! There’s a reason med schools demand all those prerequisite courses in bio, chem, and physics. Those classes test your ability to work hard, internalize large amounts of information, and apply all the concepts you’ve memorized in new, unfamiliar situations. They also give you the necessary knowledge base to succeed in med school. Med schools aren’t in the business of accepting people who lack the requisite scientific background to keep up in class. Assuming you did well in your pre-reqs and got a good MCAT score, you definitely won’t be behind. If you can’t already tell, I was a non-science major in college, and I guarantee a PhD in biochem would not have had an appreciable influence on my experience in biochemistry so far as a med student.


So, there you go, several reasons not to major in Biology*. Take ‘em or leave ‘em. Hopefully the former, since I knew from my earliest moments that all I wanted to do is help people…

*This extends to Bio, Biochem, and any hybrid pre-health major that pre-meds gravitate toward just because they think it’s relevant or helps their application

Saturday, March 1, 2008

David discusses the neurosurgery interest group

All medical schools have a wealth of student interest groups in a variety of medical specialties such as psychiatry, OB-GYN, IM, family med, surgery, etc. These groups can be extremely helpful; they provide students with information about the specialty, the associated lifestyle, potential practical workshops, networking opportunities, and some useful guidance about how to strengthen a residency application for that field. Still, I find it a bit curious that our school has a neurosurgery interest group.

As many people know, neurosurgery is not one of those fields someone just wakes up and decides to enter. It is one of, if not the most competitive specialties, and demands a kick-ass application with top board scores, clinical evaluations, recommendations, and probably some strong research too. Those qualifications – and I know it is nearly forbidden to say people can’t do something if they really, really, really try – are realistically beyond the average, above-average, and maybe even the near-excellent student. If I devoted my life to becoming a neurosurgeon, there’s a ridiculously strong chance I just wouldn’t cut it no matter how much I wanted it. Out of the 20,000 or so med school grads that match each year, only ~150 are able to do so in neurosurgery. That’s more or less one spot per med school in the entire country, meaning one has to be, on average, the top pre-NSG student in one's school to snag a spot. Even Best Medical School has a snowball’s chance in hell of sending more than a couple in a given year. So while learning about future career options is extremely valuable, and no one should ever be discouraged from dreams/ambitions, all of this seems similar to having a Fortune 500 CEO interest group in B-school or NFL player interest group in a DIII football program.

OK, enough musing. I’m running late for my plastics interest group meeting…

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

David quantifies his inanity

To those who know me, it's probably not a big surprise that I waste a lot of time talking about things that are completely meaningless and most likely offer zero benefit to anyone. To illustrate, I offer the following example. Recently, we have been studying childhood development. One important topic in the study of infants and toddlers is a milestone, a certain ability a child acquires at a certain age which is important in his or her development. Some one of these milestones involve how many blocks a kid can stack at, say, 20 months versus 24 months (only four at 20, but a whopping 4-5 at 24). This is important because it indicates the child's motor and cognitive skills are progressing appropriately.

Instead of taking this concept at face value, my friend and I launched into a 30 minute discussion about how exactly these block values are ascertained. Is there a block laboratory where babies perform thousands of stacking trials? Are there internationally standardized blocks sold by Welch Allyn? If there aren't, what's the point? A toddler might be able to toddle his way to a stack of 10 really stable blocks, but if one weighed 5lbs he probably wouldn't be able to add number two. What exactly is the limiting factor? Is there just an increasing error accumulation that is insurmountable once four blocks are reached? And perhaps most importantly, how much more awesome would we be at block-stacking than those little kids? If we had a crane and a really tall indoor space with virtually no airflow, couldn't we be an unstoppable block-stacking force the likes of the which the world has never seen?

As sad as it seems, I have at least 2-3 of these sorts of conversations per day. This one was sort of long, but if we assume I have 2.5 conversations at 15min per, and take about two weeks of vacation time to rest my rambling muscles, I waste over 9.1 full days on this nonsense annually ((15/[60*24])*2.5*350). That may not seem like a lot, but since I plan on saving at least 300 lives per day as a doctor, and the economic value of a statistical life has been argued to be about $5million*, my inanity will cost the world billions by the time I die. Good to know I'm making a difference...

*This is actually true, but don't expect me to cite any sources here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

David discusses med school by correspondence

Normally, my rant:rave ratio here is pretty high, and hopefully that's something the six dedicated readers have come love. For once, however, I'm going to discuss something neither rant nor rave, but rather simply a part of med school I never expected.

I'm not exactly sure what I thought med school class would be like, but I imagined it would more or less follow the structure of my undergrad pre-med courses: go to class, take some notes, maybe read a textbook, study for exams, bubble in the scantron to make a funny picture and hope to live to do it all again in a few weeks. I figured there would be great, inspire-you-to-learn teachers, other, less effective profs that droned on and on, and a wide variety in between. One thing I did not expect was how much of the first year could be just as easily taught by correspondence as in class.

It may be no great revelation that the MS-1 curriculum is mostly about learning the vocabulary of the body and disease and important background information about biochemical, immunological, blahblogical processes, etc. Beyond the obvious exceptions - anatomy lab, clinical stuff - most of this information can be effectively taught through textbooks or a solid syllabus. Of our many classes, a few have concise, well-written syllabi that comprehensively present the important information, some interesting extra details, and do a generally excellent job of teaching the material. It's no coincidence that the professors for these classes, as a result of good preparation/organization/whatever, also tend to deliver good lectures. Yet since the provided written materials are so strong, and because it takes even the most gifted lecturer much more time to deliver a talk than it takes a student to read that content in condensed form, many people appropriately choose to skip those lectures. And it's not because they're lazy students. I imagine they make the calculated decision that they can save time going over the material at home or would rather dictate their daily schedule and decide exactly when they want to review that information.

On the flip side, in classes without dependable syllabi, where the organization is relatively poor and the expectations for students consistently vague, attendance skyrockets. Not surprisingly, these lectures are often disjointed, even incomprehensible, and sometimes I come away far worse for the wear with almost no new knowledge to show for it. (Loyal reader, you might be thinking, "David, that's probably because you're an idiot." True though that may be, I assure you that I am not the only one that feels this way.) This theme doesn't necessarily depend on the content of the class or even the attitude of the professors towards student learning, it's just a product of how well the course and study materials are organized.

Maybe this isn't surprising, but it seems odd to me that the most engaging professors who have the most well-developed lectures are the ones that face an empty auditorium, while those running the classes that most frequently frustrate the students get a full house. What's more, if the latter profs emulated the former, there would be virtually no reason for many people to attend class at all. Students would have high-quality study material, complete all of the educational objectives set forth by the faculty, do well on exams, and basically be med students by mail. This dynamic would collapse later on during the transition to the wards, as well as in those aforementioned pre-clinical classes that provide exceptions. Still, on the whole, a University of Phoenix-style curriculum would be about as pedagogically sound as the one we have now (that's right, I used 'pedagogically', what of it?).

Not to complain, because I do think we are getting a good education, but isn't that still a bit strange?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

David wins epic battle against co-walker

(Kevin recently contracted bird fru, so I will become the prolific scorer I always knew I was and continue to pick up the slack.)

Yesterday, I was walking towards my car with a jaunty spring in my step after managing to stay in class for two hours before calling it a day. A few minutes away from the parking lot, another random guy (RG) started walking alongside me, and initially I thought nothing of it. Normally, I’d give RG the patented Dave speed burst and launch ahead on the way to bigger and better things. Alternatively, I could’ve played it Mav style, hitting the brakes, letting him fly right by, then switching immediately to missile lock (or guns, if he remained too close). For some reason, I opted against either go-to strategy. The path was pretty wide, I was still happy about all the learning I’d just done, so I decided to let things play out naturally.

After a while, it became painfully obvious to both of us that we had been walking almost side by side for several minutes. Still, as is the case with 99% of my choices, inertia won out and we remained in relative lock-step. By the time we reached the parking lot, which is pretty large as public parking lots go, more than a few awkward side-glances had been exchanged, yet still no one made a move to take the lead or fall behind. And based on his body language, I’m almost completely certain he was thinking about our strange traveling dynamic as well. About fifteen rows in, we approached my car, and I veered off to the side appropriately. RG, seemingly confused, shifted almost instinctively in my direction before stutter-stepping and then finally grinding to a complete stop. Clearly disoriented, he looked around awkwardy and then started walking in the other direction. In my car, I watched as RG backtracked a few rows and proceeded to walk up and down each of them searching vainly for his car. Perhaps you had to be there, but watching him wander about for several minutes, potentially aware that I might be watching since I hadn’t left yet, was oddly mesmerizing. At one point, it appeared as though he was contemplating exiting the parking lot entirely so he could return with tabula rasa and try again. Or maybe he was thinking about giving up entirely and taking the bus home or buying a new car. In any case, after another minute or so, I finally forced myself to leave. Needless to say, I emerged the clear victor…

Monday, February 18, 2008

David rants about Dishes-it-out-yet-can’t-take-it-back Syndrome

When I hang out with my good friends, there is a lot of back-and-forth joking. It is generally good-natured ribbing, and each participant typically takes about as much flak as he or she dishes out to others. Perhaps this isn’t the most mature friendship dynamic, but I enjoy joking around and almost all of my friends do as well. Some topics are clearly over the line but, for the most part, everyone knows the humor isn’t serious and gets a kick out of the back-and-forth.

Now, not everyone is particularly jokey. Some (most?) people are orders of magnitude more mature than I am – which should make you extremely happy that I’ll be treating patients in T-minus 12 years – and may not trade similar barbs with their buddies. I have several such friends with whom I exchange mostly light-hearted or topical banter, without engaging in person-specific comedery or ever venturing into the purely golden “that’s what she said” domain. On the other end of the spectrum are friends with whom normal conversation has nearly no humor restrictions. We don’t seriously insult one another, but the phrase ‘yellow-on-yellow’ crime would apply with significant regularity.

The golden rule governing this intricate humor interplay, an unspoken law that most people find intuitively obvious, is that one must be able to take approximately as much as one dishes out. If Robert makes a joke about how long it takes Kevin’s mother to cook Minute Rice (Note to Robert: it’s not that funny if she’s really smart and cooks it in 25 seconds), Robert must be willing to endure a similar barb from Kevin’s humor repertoire.

To illustrate this issue, a simple 45-degree line will suffice. On the x-axis, we have “out-dishing;” on the y-axis, “back-taking.” Thus, the more you dish it out, the more you have to take in order to meet the perfect 1-for-1 Repartee Ratio. Now, it’s no good to make fun of someone who’s polite/mature/nice enough not to dish it out. Nor does he/she deserve it. Thus, that friend is forced to take little back in return. Moving along the line, your obnoxious buddy that makes all those ridiculous jokes better be willing to feel the heat.

The problem occurs when people are disproportionately over-sensitive; they love to make inappropriate, callous jokes about others yet become defensive or upset when someone sends a yo’-mamma missile their way. This is one of my big-time pet peeves, a common pathology I’d like to call Dishes-it-out-yet-can’t-take-it-back Syndrome (DS). People with DS put a serious strain on one’s humor game, completely throwing off the mostly well-meaning, tongue-in-cheek vibe that brings me so much joy. Each one of you knows someone afflicted with DS. You can all recall an otherwise awesome social situation where DS made everything end in tears.

Well, thanks to my burgeoning biotech firm, the solution is finally here in the handy, dandy, Rx-only Getoveryourselfafilnoprene. Only 50mg nightly before bed has been shown to yield clinically significant reductions in DS symptoms. Stay tuned for our next pharmaceutical innovation in the treatment of Always-make-everything-about-them Disease…

Sunday, February 17, 2008

David takes a step back to reflect...

Do you ever stop to contemplate the little things that change the ultimate paths of our lives, those almost indefinable moments in time that can alter who we become or the impact we have on the world? I know I’m normally so caught up in the hustle and bustle of school and life that I don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses. Everything becomes such a whirlwind of tests, stress, drama, and hate crimes…I get so turned around I don’t know what’s important anymore…

A while back in this space I mentioned going out to lunch with a friend and how a bird pooped on him on the way back. I sort of made light of it at the time, but it’s been eating away at me ever since. If only we had stopped a moment longer to wait for the light to turn on the previous street, the bird and my friend would never have crossed paths. If I had noticed my shoe was untied, how would things have turned out differently? My friend wouldn’t have ruined his new coat. He wouldn’t have missed class to cry it out. Or maybe, just maybe, that bird impeded our path just long enough that we avoided something far being pooped on by a larger bird, or by two smaller birds whose cumulative poop volume exceeded that of the one average-sized bird.

So maybe that bird was meant to poop on him…if it hadn’t, we might’ve walked in front of a bus a couple blocks down. I might never have realized my ultimate dreams: saving African babies, walking on the moon, making it rain hundys at Club Isis. When I stop and consider the interconnectedness of our universe, I am overwhelmed. It’s beautiful, but, at the same time, it’s scary....................

I guess what I’m saying is, live while you can. Laugh out loud and don’t pay attention to who’s watching. Stumble once in a while, it’s OK. I know I’m going to try and follow this advice too. Maybe I’ll look back on this post when I start feeling blue and it will remind me to stop holding my breath so I can get oxygen again. I know there are still important things I need to learn about myself, but hopefully, this is a start…

The shadows surround me
My soul.
No, Darkness, please
I have so much more to
Light. Peace. A second chance.
Thank you.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

David is outraged by senseless krill murder

I am shocked and appalled that Kevin has condoned senseless krill-killing in his investigative report on the Little Mermaid. He quickly excludes the possibility of a Flounder feast or Sebastian sauté – on the basis of their demonstrated sentience – yet throws krill to the sea-wolves without a second thought. Why? Because they’re small and don’t crack the starting lineup for “Under the Sea.” That is unacceptable. I am taking a stand.

First, watch this video of arguably the finest impromptu-underwater-point-making-ensemble-musical-number ever:

Now, two things are painfully obvious. First, Sebastian is a frickin’ rhetorical genius. “The seaweed is always greener” is persuasive gold. That effeminate crab just knows how to sell it. Second, and far more importantly, there is established video evidence that shrimp are sentient. At 3:03 in the video, right after we learn that “each little snail here know how to wail here, that’s why it’s hotter under the water,” we see a bevy of shrimp, smiling, dancing, and jumping in a glorious air bubble cascade that would make anyone want to drown in a tide pool. The shrimp display obvious, visible emotions in their heartfelt attempt to keep Ariel from going above water, all the while maintaining admirable balance atop slippery bubbles in an impassioned jig.

Clearly, the shrimp have a lot going on upstairs. And krill, as everyone knows, are basically just mini-shrimp. Even Wikipedia – which will have been responsible for at least 29% of my medical education by the time I’m done – describes them as “shrimp-like.”
                                                     Can you tell the difference? I can't...

Adding two and two together, we realize that Triton and his Mer-peers are basically eating 1000s of conscious beings every day. Murdering countless krill families and destroying countless krill dreams. Stopping krill doctors from seeing krill patients and devastating krill adolescents worldwide by preventing krill Jessica Alba from reaching the level of irrelevance that would inevitably force her to do a nude scene to get back into the public eye. And all based on the shaky premise that, somewhere along the continuum between krill and shrimp, there is an arbitrary Eat Me line that makes it OK. Outrageous!

Triton, is that any way to lead your people? Shrimp, how could you pander to the princess whose father murders your cousins day after day after day? And you, Kevin, I am most disappointed in you. You’re just like Harry Potter, standing idly by, ignoring the problems of another world while you keep the platypus down…

Friday, February 15, 2008

Kevin Contemplates the Diet of the Little Mermaid

Following David's intrepid exposé of Harry Potter, one can't help but wonder what questions remain unanswered from the movies our beloved childhood. Should Aladdin go to jail for stealing bread? Is Winnie the Pooh's honey addiction merely a stepping stone to black tar heroin? All the signs point to yes. But one question has dogged me until this day.

What did the Mermen eat in the Little Mermaid?

What a hottie

Looking at Ariel’s heroin-chic physique one might guess a subsistence of cigarettes and self-loathing but of course we all know you can’t smoke under the sea. The next thing that comes to mind is the wide assortment of aquatic plants at their disposal. So are the Mermen a bunch of kelp-hugging vegetarians? You might think so but looking at King Triton that simply can’t be true. Without the necessary high protein diet, a person simply cannot maintain such a physique without the help of BALCO.

Ladies, got your tickets to the gun show?

Thus, Triton must eat meat. While the film features a wide array of oceanic fauna, most of them appear sentient. Can you sink your knife into Flounder or toss Sebastian into the steamer? I didn’t think so. Finally we come to krill. While technically an animal, this tiny Sebastian is far too small to be capable of sentient thought much less performing spontaneous yet surprisingly well-coordinated musical numbers. Looks like we have a winner (or loser if you’re the krill.)

Common fare at any seafood restaurant

To find out how much of these tiny critters Triton must wolf down on a daily basis, I did a little digging into the daily diet of Blue Whales. According to one article, a single Blue Whale eats roughly 40 million krill per day (about 7715 lbs) to satiate a recommended 1.5 million calorie a day diet. With these figures, I surmise there’s about 0.00357 Cal/krill and each krill weight approximately 0.000192 lbs. Then assuming Triton maintains a 2000 Cal/day diet (pretty low given his body size), he would need to eat 10.28lbs of krill per day. A pretty ludicrous amount given that a single human being eats less than half of that (4.7 lbs). But I guess it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Comic: Romance

Kevin Realizes Mistakes Happen All the Time in Surgery

For those who don't know, I'm in a surgery preceptorship this quarter where I get to watch a surgery once a week. This is quite an amazing experience since I'm literally standing shoulder to shoulder with someone who is wrist deep into someone's heart (not metaphorically either, although im not sure what that metaphor would imply). Of course this intimate glimpse into the OR is not without its surprises...

Just last week, I was observing an ascending aortic composite graft procedure when out of the corner of my eye I noticed the scrub nurse engaged in a muffled conversation with the circulating nurse about something.  Then the  circ nurse suddenly drops to the ground and starts crawling around.  5 minutes of her best illegal immigrant maid impersonation later, she comes up and  seems to wave a "Negative" to her sterile compatriot.  The scrub nurse then turns to and asks:

"Kevin, can you look around for a needle, it should be attached to some blue suture."
"Uh... sure," I said, fumbling around my little section.  By the way, the universal "fumbling and patting the pockets" motion when pretending to look for something makes you look retarded while gowned up in an OR.

After 5 more minutes of my fumbling, I was forced to give a negative as well.  So finally the nurse tells the surgeon: "Doctor, we're going to have to x-ray this guy after you're done, I can't find a needle."  Oops.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Kevin and David Present: The Top 10 Things We've Learned in Med School

To commemorate the completion of our first half-year of med school, we present the top 10 things we've learned so far:

10)  Experts tell us having kids and being married both suck.

9)    Experts consist of random 38 year-old "young" adults.

8)    Eighty percent of future doctors are brunette white women.

7)    Kevin wants to learn, David wants The Truth.

6)    (Kevin doesn't really want to learn, but David really does want the Truth.)

5)    You can teach an entire lecture with inspirational quotes alone.

4)    We have something in common with a football player from Duvall (pronounced "Dooooo-         vuhl").

3)    Kevin is 1/32nd cardiothoracic surgeon but he's pretty sure he's ready now.

2)    David still thinks he's in business school. 

1.5) Your patients won't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

1)    Never donate your body to science.

Comic: Bad sign for the future

Inspired by Linda's adventures with electronics:

I had just gotten the coffee maker, and I made coffee almost everyday. It was exhilerating[sic]. Then one morning, while I stood in the kitchen and Penny sat at the dining table, I was horrified to find that when I pressed the on button, nothing happened. No coffee.


Shit! I said to Penny. Look! The coffee maker's broken.

She told me to check if it was plugged in. Oh, I said. So I picked up the white plug behind the coffee maker and plugged it in. But still, nothing happened, no red light. Now I was really scared; I started to panic.

I frantically pulled and replugged the cord into the wall socket. Oh no! It's broken! It's broken!

Then I looked emphatically back at Penny to see why she was not also panicking.

She said, Linda, that's the rice maker.

Apparently she had been sitting at the table watching me freak out while the light on the rice maker went on and off, on and off.

So I changed plugs, made coffee and we both went back to studying.

David is curious why Kevin chose "Jessica Alba Plateau," with its inflammatory associated yellow-on-yellow-crime acronym, to describe his...

...Hot/Crazy Postulate, when “Pre-Downward Spiral Jennifer Love Hewitt Plateau (PDSJLHP)” would have worked just as well.

Kevin Presents the Crazy/Hot Postulate

One day when I was watching an episode of CBS’ hit TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother, one of the main characters in the show makes a provocative mathematical representation of a woman’s “datability.” In this, admittedly overly simplified definition, a woman’s datability is determined by her ratio o f hot to crazy. Please watch the video for the full theory as defined by Barney.

So what Barney has done is define a classical economics indifference curve, with datable women above the graph and undatable women below. Now while his ideas are interesting, it’s ultimately too simple. To start off, every man has differing Crazy/Hot Graphs (CHGs), representative of their preferences. In Barney’s case, he prefers his women to be hotter than they are crazy. However, there is no reason why the preference ratio has to be 1:1 or better, nor does that ratio need to be consistent throughout the graph. The linear graphical depiction as presented in HIMYM is a rather unique case. To make a more generalized graph that fits the majority of guys, I would like to present my own Crazy/Hot Postulate).  While the details are up for debate, the general idea is there and 60% of the time this will apply every time 

To start off, we should define the parameters of our graph. Starting with the X axis, we start off with 0 crazy, indicating a completely rational logical human being. Basically a man with boobs and better hygeine. This axis then runs to 100% crazy, on the level of Elizabeth Bathory of Hungaria or perhaps the classy broads of 2Girls1Cup. On  the Y axis we have a pretty stereotypical 0-100 Hot Scale. With 0 as Hillary Clinton and 100 being ludicrously hot (insert your ideal woman here, as long as it’s not Hillary Clinton). 

Figure 1: Crazy Hot Graph

Now let’s move to the plot itself. In my estimation, the y-intercept can not be 0. No matter how not Crazy a girl is, there’s a certain Hot threshold that most guys simply will not dip below. Starting from there, we have a traditional exponential rise. In the beginning there is not a significant demand of Hotness for an increase in Craziness because the total Crazy is so low. But as the total Craziness builds, every additional increase in Craziness warrants a much higher increase in Hot. In lay terms, if your girlfriend is low in Craziness and high in Hotness (much like the significant other of yours truly), she sits well above the curve. Any minor increase in Craziness will not nudge her past the line into undatable territory. But if you happen to have a girl that’s sitting right on the curve, any prolonged or permanent increase in Craziness without the necessary increase in Hotness (or vice versa, as stipulated by her location on the graph) will make her as unappealing as a conversation  on cramps and bloating.

Let’s continue. As you can see there is a point at which the graph no longer rises continuously, instead there is a discontinuous jump to a platform we designate the Jessica Alba Plateau. The jumping off point is personal to each guy depending on his risk tolerance. We arbitrarily drew the line at the level of Crazy where there is SIGNIFICANT risk of physical harm. When the risk is already that high, any further increases in Craziness is virtually unnoticeable. After all, if you’re gonna get stabbed in the leg with a butter knife, what’s another fork in the arm? Thus there is no further demand on Hotness with additional increases in Craziness. The extra demand is made at the initial jump point. This Hotness differential between the endpoint of the continuous graph and the start of the JAP is the luxury tax a girl must pay to be THAT crazy and still datable, something we call the Preposterously Bananas  Levy (PBL).

Figure 2: Area under the curve = bad times

Well that basically sums up the major points on the graph. Now let’s look at one final thing, a simple integral. From here you notice that the integral defines the entire undatable zone. Since the area changes drastically with individual  CHGs, this is reflective of each guy’s selectivity factor.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

David Anticipates an Unexpected Consequence of Kevin*

After reading Kevin’s latest post, one can’t help but envision the following probabilistically inevitable scenario:

Kevin tells me his name is quite common amongst immigrants from the motherland. A quick Google search for “Kevin*” confirms this to be true, returning 22,800 hits. Given this high number of Kevin*s running around and the extreme virulence of the aforementioned disease, it seems likely that there might come a day when one of those countless Kevin*s was…wait for it…infected with Kevin*. How exactly would that doctor-patient interaction go?


Doctor: Kevin, I have some unfortunate news. You have Kevin*.
Kevin: Excuse me?
Doctor: Kevin*, you have it.
Kevin: Are you stupid? Have what?
Doctor: Who’s on firs…Err, there’s a disease called Kevin*, Kevin. Unfortunately, you’ve got it.
Kevin: You’re kidding?
Doctor: Actually I’m not.

Kevin: ...

Doctor: ... 

Kevin: ...

Doctor: What are the chances, eh? If you think about it, it’s actually kind of fun–
Kevin: Die.


One can only imagine what would happen if the original Kevin* was this Kevin*’s doctor, delivering the news and explaining his reasoning for naming the disease. Or maybe bad karma would win out and original Kevin* would get ALS.

These are the things I think about sometimes. Why does my brain hate me…

Friday, February 8, 2008

Kevin considers Infectious Disease

Back in the glory days of medicine when old white men ran the show and nurses wore skirts and paper hats, medical research was pretty egotistical. Whenever someone discovered a genetic disorder, he would inevitably name said disorder after himself. Thus you have your well known diseases such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Tay-Sachs... the list goes on. Yet, even back then, no one wanted to name infectious diseases after himself. Dumb. Infectious diseases are the crazier, flashier, version of their more homely counterparts. The evidence is in the movies.  Infectious disease has given us adrenaline-pumping thrillers such as Outbreak, 28 Days Later, I Am Legend just to name a few.   Genetic disorders on the otherhand gives us Bubble Boy, a trainwreck I'm sure Jake Gyllenhal would like back.  

You decide

So that gets me thinking. Naming such diseases after the infectious agent is boring and predictable.  If I become an infectious disease specialist I will dedicate my life's work to finding the most dangerous virus/bug out there. But I wont name it something boring like Africanized AIDS (although that has promise). No, I will name it after myself. Why, you might ask. I'll tell you why. Imagine the headline possibilities.
Or maybe something more akin to the movie Outbreak:

"Oh my God his body is completely destroyed by Kevin*"

I'm pretty sure  that would cement my place in the medical as well as the history books.

*Obviously I would use my whole name to maximize my glory and minimize confusion, but for internet purposes, first name is enough.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

David: Harry Potter and the Glaring Lack of Wizardkind’s Collective Social Conscience

Today during lunch, the conversation turned to logical inconsistencies in popular entertainment. All kinds of movies require the audience to take large leaps of faith in order remain engaged in the storyline and enjoy the show. Can dinosaurs really be made from DNA taken from the blood sucked out of fossilized mosquitoes? In order for me to realize my life-long dream of riding on a pterodactyl, I can only pray that they can. But to really enjoy the movie, we all have to overlook that potential snag and get ready for the people-eating. In the end, no one gets hurt from the suspension of disbelief. Science may suffer briefly, but people aren’t looking for old tree sap to clone another T-Rex. Everybody wins.

                                                               If only…

Unfortunately, things are not always so harmless. Eventually, our lunchtime babbling focused on Harry Potter. (Harry Potter, for those who don’t know, is about a physically and emotionally scarred little boy who undergoes the trials and tribulations of adolescence. All the while, Harry fights some unspeakable evil that is really scary, yet somehow manages to be continually defeated by the power of love and unicorns and stuff. Forgive or correct me if that is wrong, but that’s the story as I know it.) Now, I am not entirely familiar with all of the rules of the wizard world or the guidelines J.K Rowling imposes on what wizards can and can’t do, but I’ve seen most of the movies, read some of the books, and have a general idea of what’s going down in Candyland. And as far as I can tell, Harry Potter is a terrible influence on today’s youth. Forget all of the religious conservatives that see the series as sacrilegious or anyone that may think believing in magic gives children false hopes or distorts their sense of reality. My major complaint is the blatant lack of a social conscience displayed by witches and wizards to those outside of their magical kingdom.

Wizards, it appears, can do whatever the hell they want. They can fly on brooms, conjure random shit out of midair, make food with magic, heal people, and do a million other things that could be ridiculously useful. Yet they never seem to apply their prodigious talents to saving non-wizards. What ‘s up with that , Harry et al? Basically, the next 10-plus years of my medical education will be spent learning to do things some magical person could do with unintelligible gibberish and the flick of the wrist. There would be no starvation, no disease, and no embarrassing ascites. The Gates Foundation’s philanthropic efforts would border on puppy-kicking in comparison to what a few wizards could do. Need a house/school/new pony? No problem, I’ll whip one right up! Oil conflict? Let me conjure a Hummer H4 that runs on baby laughter. If a normal person walks down the street, sees an accident, and fails to help in a situation where he might be reasonably expected to lend a hand, it's negligence. Jerry, Elaine , George and Kramer went to jail for that shit. Yet wizards let genocide happen without batting an eye. It's like one community-sized Milgram experiment gone wrong. On a more personal level, just today, on the way back from lunch, my friend got pooped on by a bird. Even now, I can see the solitary tear welling up in his eye. Magic could have stopped that from happening.

What are you teaching our children, J.K.? That it’s OK to turn a blind eye to the suffering of people who aren’t magical? That fighting some random bald dude who looks like a snake excuses one from addressing the greater problems of the world? I for one am saddened. For shame, J.K., for shame.

(On a mostly unrelated side note, how exactly do wizards decide what creatures are special or magical? Is it completely arbitrary? Everyone knows that dragons and centaurs are magical, that’s just common sense. What about alligators? They’re basically modern dinosaurs, but wizards don’t seem to give them much respect. Duck-billed platypi? Those mammals can lay eggs, for Xenu’s sake! Sounds like advanced witchcraft to me. And if talking is a general prerequisite – which it seems like it shouldn’t be – who’s to say the platypus can’t talk? I sure as hell haven’t ever seen one. I know I wouldn’t underestimate anything that looks like this:

                                                    How is this guy not magic?

I bet the platypus wouldn’t have let the bird poop on my friend…)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

David: Hello World

Since this is my inaugural entry, I’d like to start out with a brief mission statement for my contributions to Yellow Magic. Since my true Asian-ness has been diluted by generations of the American Dream and the sweet air of democracy, I did not jump on the Xanga bandwagon in high school or college like so many others. I had no outlet for my late-adolescent/early-adult self-discovery and, tragically, was forced to wallow in sadness without a forum for my archives of digital pictures in which I flash the V sign with both hands or point to the creases of my wide, wide smile, again with both hands.

Well, those days are finally over, so here’s what any of the paltry number of people that accidentally clicked to this page can expect from me. I can’t draw, and I’m not smart enough to come up with something funny anyway, so I will leave that stuff to Kevin. Instead, 60% of the time, I will be finding myself 100% of the time. I will make sappy metaphors about life, dramatic emo statements, follow everything with ellipses, and apologize for nothing. Poems that don’t rhyme? Don’t mind if I do…


Kevin hates saying "Hi" to people

I always hate it when I walk through campus or T-wing and I encounter someone I know and must say "Hi". The act of saying "Hi" is not bad part, the motions I have to do leading up to it is the bad part. I must note that this only pertains to people I know and thus feel obligated (and want) to say Hi , but not well enough to actually stop and have a conversation. And i alos MUST stress that it's not the person I hate but the awkward series of motions I need to do just to say Hi.
Anyways, the awkward moment is if I see them walking towards me from really far away. At this point I am completely unsure as to what to do, they are too far to talk to, you can't tell if they are actually looking at you, and any kind of hand motion could be meant for someone else. To make matters worse, even if you COULD communicate with them, by the time you've said Hi and held the canned mini conversation (I'll talk about that later), they're STILL in front you of and you have a super awkward moment where you are actually walking past each other and theres nothing else to say.
In order to remedy this, although not necessarily efficiently, I employ what I call the "autistic patient with Down's" maneuver. By this I mean I will first notice the person from far away, I will gauge their walking speed and my own and their distance from me. I will then either look down, left , right, basically anywhere but in front. I will continue to do so until they're at an acceptable distance for me to look up, "notice" them, feign surprise, wave high and hold the usual conversation of
"Hi, how are you"
"good, you?"
"good good".
If the timing is perfect, the final "good good" will occur just as the person passes. Wow that's quite a lot of analysis for something so small. Oh well, atleast it beats staring at the person for a full 30 seconds before speaking to them.