Dec 30, 2006

Goodies!

Less freaked out now...

I pretty much prepared myself for a no-Xmas this year (sans that wonderful wonderful curry) because anything I receive I have to pack. I got some very cool clothes and a travel clock from my aunt, uncle, and cousins down in N'awlins.. well, Mandeville, but close enough, and I'll find room for them, but for the most part, I'm cool with nada.

Well, mom decided this wouldn't do and took me on an impromptu shopping which definitely enhanced my spirits, and not just because I'm an electronics junkie, while, at the same time being a complete Luddite. Don't ask me how that works. It means, when I FINALLY am dragged to embracing something, kicking and screaming, I absolutely adore it, XP being a good example, while most of the time, I just stare at the onrush of technology in fascination, resent teenagers, and try fruitlessly to figure out what the hell bluetooth is. Sigh.

So I may be scared to death to start school, but at least I'll be starting school in style.

The first purchase was the best for my frame of mind. You see, until I set my desktop up here for my mom, at which point, before I format, I can move over a bunch of my files (like most of my Annex ones, d'oh!) I'm using a laptop on poached wifi connection (Shhhh). This subjects me to a touchpad and 10-key less laptop keyboard. In short, GRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!

Some background... the touchpad is self explanatory, since damn near everyone hates those frigging things, and when you're trying to work graphics, even basic stuff like cropping travel pictures, you'd want to throw the touchpad out the window like you could a naughty mouse, but you CAN'T, because the frigging thing has grafted itself to your machine in self preservation.

On the typing... I've been chatting since I was 15 (died down now, couldn't take the a/s/l anymore), hosting since I was 16, and in various administrative roles since 17. My primary 9-5 jobs included project assistant (secretary), technical writer (nitpicky secretary) and forms editor (REALLY nitpicky secretary). This gives me a WPM rate near light speed. I'm not saying this to brag. When you're trying to become a doc, having people complement you on your English and typing skills and saying what a marvelous legal assistant you'd be is not reassuring.

What this also means is that I type without thinking, thus jumbling my fingers around on a laptop keyboard is cruel and tends to leave my hands looking something like a half sheephead knot, if I knew what the heck that was or if it actually existed. Something about rabbits going around holes and into trees and that sort of nonsense. Damn Girl Scouts.

And I CERTAINLY wasn't going to suffer the indignity of using the laptop keyboard/touchpad for 2 years in the Caribbean, so I used one Xmas gift on a lovely wireless mouse/keyboard set, and the keyboard has all those bells and whistles like buttons that pull up menus that pull up other menus, which, as an easily impressed Luddite, makes me go "ooh ah" and never use them again.

What else did I rake in that I consider intensely practical (and didn't at all get because it's highly cool)? Two flash drives on sale... one 2 gigs, one 1 gig. From what I understand, these things are the prison ciggies of med school; you trade data back and forth, and they are absolutely critical. Ipods are also useful, but my video ipod isn't easily worn on a lanyard around my neck, at least, not without looking like Flava Flav upgraded. Did I spell that right? Oh who cares.

Speaking of ipods, my mom bought me one of those 79$ ipod shuffles, which she knew I wanted but wouldn't buy or ask for from anyone because there is no earthly way I can justify wanting or having one other than the fact that they're incredibly cool and clip onto your clothes. So now I have one, and I feel a great deal of shame at my susceptibility to advertising, but... but... look how little they are!!!! Leave me alone!

Cell phones on Grenada are necessary but expensive for phoning home, so most (right?) students use internet telephony, requiring a decent mic/headset. I'm planning on Skype myself, if I ever figure out how to set it up/use it once on the island. So one purchase was a great headset for that, which has a decent mic so I don't need to bring one. I already had my webcam, which I got at a really nice price in CA, so I'm all hooked up to do the Jetsons communication thing when I get to the Rock.

Massive, heavy artillery surge protector for that occasionally spurious electrical connection. I REALLY don't want to fry my electronics.

So now I feel more confident... because I have more stuff to pack... uh... but thank goodness for parents... I can also feel more paranoid in the fact that now the airlines have more valuable stuff to lose, so I may just load myself to the brink and get arrested as a terrorist for having all sorts of circuits and wires sticking out of me. Currently, between the two flash drives and the ipod shuffle, I am WEARING 4 gigs. For reference, my first computer in 1995 cost 1700 dollars and required another 1500 dollars worth of upgrades. At the end of it all, it had 2.3 gigs of hard drive. I am now WEARING more memory than my first computer could have dreamed of with its high tech, state of the art 120 mhz processor, and 8, that's right EIGHT megs of RAM. You see, people at the time were saying you could make due with 4, but a friend of mine said the *serious* gamers and graphics people would absolutely recommend going with the full 8, because it was, like, more than you could ever want, and apparently made those solitaire games make you feel like you were really *THERE*... bored enough to be playing solitaire there, but THERE.

Feh. I'm 26 and I feel frigging old. Time to move to a developing nation in the Southern Caribbean!

Dec 29, 2006

Freaking Out

So it's now, what, 11 days until I ship off? Aiiieeeee!!!

I keep saying it's becoming real, and then it goes and gets a little realer each time and freaks me out some more.

I'm driving back to my dad's place tonight to pick up my boxes that I shipped to him, since there's some stuff I need for SGU in there, like some clothes (and I still need to do a major clothes shopping, though where I'm going to get Carib clothes in December/January, I have NO idea), and more critically, my underwater camera housing. Not sure what I'll be doing for New Year's yet. Might hang out in Greenville, see if there's anything resembling a scene.

Then I've got so LITTLE time to get everything packed! I still need to buy a flash drive and a wireless keyboard, among other thousands of remote items they no doubt have on the island but I'm paranoid. I worry a little that "flashlight" keeps appearing on all the packing lists.

In a sense, I do kind of feel like I'm going off to camp. I lived off campus in college and never had the dorm experience, so I didn't get the "off to college" feeling, particularly since I'd been doing concurrent enrollment since I was 10, thus college was never any big deal to me. In fact, I went BACK to my home state for college so high school was more like a college experience than college, but with more slack jawed drooling imbeciles (sorry Harding, but ya know you suck, except for select awesome faculty).

But now... whew... dorm, roommate, med school, new frigging country I'd barely heard of before I talked to the doc that recommended. My geographically dumb ass thought it was pretty close to Florida. Nope! At least on the Cuba side of it, right? Nope! Like if I hated it enough, I could float back to the states on a raft? Nope!

I don't think I'll hate it, but I am freaking out. I'm reading the awesome rumorsweretrue blog, which is both reassuring and freaky because it illustrates the sheer volume of what we're going to have to know, and holy crap. I've always been quite good at coasting, and I know it's time for that crap to end.

I also have to call Bay Shore today, because I have my widdle heart set on Prague this summer, and the rumor mill says the selective is *already* full, which would piss me off, so time to find out.

Not too funny this time folks, because I'm SCARED! Heh.

Dec 27, 2006

Very Merry Currymas!!!

Let me start this post by addressing those who are not familiar with me.

I LOVE curry. I jones for the stuff. I would mainline it if I could find a needle big enough to accommodate the chunks of lamb, goat, chicken, and shrimp. I dream in technicolor tikka masala. The stuff is good, yo.

After a lovely Christmas Eve dinner spent at Denny's partaking in their rarest chuck steak (mmm mmm mmm!), we found ourselves facing Christmas dinner with no roast goose, not even roast beef to stuff our cheery faces with, thus we were left with the dilemma of trying to find a place in the South that would deign to be open on Christmas.

Fortunately, the Souf has changed significantly since the last time I lived here (high school class of '98, baby) and has gotten themselves some dagnab diversity. You see, when I lived in the South... Taco Bell was considered ethnic. Now, apparently through an exchange program where they send crackers to Sacramento to found a meth head district known as "Rio Linda" (no offense), they have gotten themselves an absolute blend of my Latino and Indian friends, particularly in Winston-Salem where dear daddy lives.

SOOOOO with anticipation burning in my curry starved veins, I typed in "Indian food" and "Winston-Salem" and came across an AWESOME restaurant open on Christmas, which featured some of the best Indian food I've had, short of the chicken makhani at Priya's in Rancho Cordova (you'd kill your children for the stuff; I've seen it happen). So my Christmas dinner consisted of poppadoms, samosas, lamb vindaloo, and garlic naan. Stuff your Christmas goose! I'm happy! My dad, naturally, was thrilled, having lived in India, Afghanistan, and Indonesia through childhood, thus giving him a taste for things that will burn off his taste buds. Mom, not so much. Hormel chili is on the spicy side for her. Also props to said restaurant for an amazing array of delicious chutneys. Ahhhh, Christmas.

Interesting blend of decor in this restaurant too. Statue of Buddha, statue of Krishna, and Christmas tree. Happy holidays indeed! My kind of place.

So then it was onto Greenville on the 26th, by way of Saratoga, NC, which I believe is just east of Deliverance. Egad. It did bring back tugs of nolstalgia to have to go into a gas station to pay prior to pumping the gasoline though. To their credit, no one made me squeal lika pig, and they had some damn good chicken wings.

Argh, stupid spotty stolen wi fi connection caused me to lose some stuff, so ONCE AGAIN, here are the promised West Virginia pictures:



And, of a different angle of the SAME creek:



Now.. the next picture may not appeal to you, but I like it because it's got strata up the wazoo, and I LOVE strata! I'm a sucker geek for antiquity and strata are the ultimate geological antiquity, thus tempting me to write another 13 page paper on the Lothagam Jaw (shout out to my anthro brethren). Of course, since this picture was taken in West Virginia, more likely to find dino or Injun fossils, not potential human ancestors, but whatever. And to the uninitiated, Duane Gish is the Antichrist. Yabba Dabba Doo.



So, as stated, I'm in Greenville, NC, going into rapid withdrawal because there aren't any curry restaurants here. Oh well, I'm going back to see Dad, and to Charlotte to see Slappy, and there are curry houses there, so in the meantime, I'll put on a cumin patch and wait out the DTs.

Greenville, for what it's worth, has a kickass hospital. I have never seen a bloody FLEET of life flight choppers before, thus leading me to believe that this area is either larger than I anticipated, or John Deere tractors are a hell of a lot more dangerous than I anticipated. Either way, they have gamma ray MRIs they advertise the hell out of. Awesome.

Also, there seems to be an odd dynamic in the South that I remember from teenhood in that people are either EXTREMELY friendly or they are completely unfriendly, and there are a hell of a lot of unfriendly people, leading me to discover that I use chipper idiocy as a defense mechanism, thus, while doing my shopping, was grinning at people and saying "hi!" like I'd had fairy dust blown up my butt.

This is an effective strategy, and one I will pass on to you, brothers and sisters. See, you cannot be a *little* weird in the South. A *little* weird will cause your life to be unpleasant. You must either be American Gothic, pitchfork-holding Hank Hill sane, or you must be batshit insane. There is no in between. You also cannot be dark/defensive insane. This will cause the bad type of "what's wrong with you?" "Was you on Ricki Lake" (heard that one in high school) talk. No no no. You must be the bubbly babbly "I like pudding; my name is Tiffany!" sort of insane. The type of airhead everyone knows, no one dislikes, but no one really wants to be around either because you're not sure whether or not she's going to stab you with a screwdriver while giggling. When people are being decidedly unfriendly, just babble at them cluelessly, occasionally punctuating it with "I'm from California!" Eventually, people will be nice to you, if only as their own defense mechanism.

You don't actually have to be from California for this to work. Saying "I'm from California!" in a Southern, English, Scottish, or Joisey accent is actually even more effective, particularly the Southern drawl. "I'm from SOUTHERN California... yo."

The other people in the South seem to have already adopted this strategy, and as such, are also developing a greatly appreciated sense of irony. Last night, I went to Red Lobster, since I still had no proper food (thus I've gained like 10 lbs in the last two weeks; mm mmm) and the waitress, who was absolutely delightful and quite southern spoken said "Our potatoes with everything actually have pico de gallo (pronounced correctly, btw, so props to her)", and I said "I like pico de gallo, that's fine" and she laughed and said "Most of our guests are like, (like!! She said "like" like a proper Californian; we're spreading!) 'pico de huh???'" Good on you, Red Lobster waitress. She was having a rough night too, and I fully appreciate waitstaff that flat out TELL you they're having a rough night rather than just inexplicably acting like bastards.

On the SGU front, it is exactly two weeks until I register, less than two weeks before I leave and OMG AM I FREAKING OUT!!! I am torn between excitement and wondering how nutty I must be to have gotten myself into this. AIIIEEEEEEE!

I did have to call Bay Shore again, which I'm sure is about to put me on call block (SGU's main offices are in Bay Shore, NY, but please do not be a poser if you go to SGU and claim that you went to SGU in "New York". Freak. I do like claiming to have gone to med school a "little south of Miami" though.. yeah, or a little North of Venezuela.) because I lost my financial aid id and pin. They're random series of letters and numbers that I don't believe you can change, so write them down somewhere.

I've also decided to actually buy the medical kit they offer to you at a discount which comes with all sorts of doctor goodies like a decent stethoscope and otoscope... I was waffling on it, because I know you don't *technically* need everything in the kit, but it's actually a fairly decent deal, and the selling point was that it comes in a doctor bag with your initials on it. Am I a geek? Oh yes... oh yes.

Dec 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

And I will ask you to forgive any typos, since I'm using a foreign keyboard with sticky keys.

So Merry Christmas to my Christian friends, and a happy Token Winter Holiday to my fellow heathenry, etc. Kwanzaa, Hannukah and all its variant spellings, Ramadan, ad infinitim. May you have a festive break in your winter to enjoy friends and family before returning to 1-3 more months of gray skies. Except for my friends already in the Caribbean, who will continue enjoying the same humidity and 80 degree temperatures they suffer the remaining 11 months of the year.

And I'm only two weeks away!

I got my roommate assignment. I met my roommate on valuemd, which I recommend because then you can request your roommate, and it's someone you've talked to and at least have some idea of who you're dealing with rather than getting randomly lumped with someone.

I'll also be occupying a double kitchenette at True Blue, and I'm told those rooms come fully equipped (stovetop, microwave, closet, desks, bathroom, outlets (though none in the bathroom for your blowdryer types), but are the size of a postage stamp. All the more reason to get your roommate assignments yourself!

I'm at my dad's place in Winston-Salem. Awww... Ish, mom, and dad under the same roof. Thweet. We spent a nice Christmas Eve dinner at Denny's since no other place was open. We opened the presents my aunt, uncle, and cousins sent, which we really need to reciprocate, but haven't had a chance because we've been on the road.

And about the road. I'll upload some pictures later, because currently, my pictures are on my laptop, not on this one, so you'll have to wait with 'bated breath for my West Virginny pix. Very pretty countryside, but I knew that from a high school detour trip to visit my cybermom on the way to D.C.

What else... well, en route through Indiana, we came across a huge lit billboard along a superhighway advertising genuine Amish cooking. I found this somewhat suspicious. Mom, naturally, had to try it out. I pointed out that the Amish were not known for their regular lighted advertising along superhighways, but I was overruled. Perhaps the Indiana Amish are more savvy or something.

Now, I expect at least a little Disneyish pretending in my exploitive side trips, and these folks didn't even TRY. To their benefit, we were seated by a hostess wearing the traditional Amish garb of jeans and a tight shirt, and did enjoy the traditional Amish dessert of soft serve ice cream from a traditional Amish soft serve ice cream machine with traditional Amish Hershey's chocolate syrup straight from the bottle. Just like Ma Amish used to make.

I'm not sure how accurately represented the music was. I don't recall the Amish liking the Beach Boys singing Christmas carols, but I didn't pay too much attention during the Amish part of my American history course. Do they celebrate Christmas? Of course, I don't really think any Amish people are going to answer me... "Hi, I'm Amish and I love your blog, but you're misrepresenting my people."

So yeah... this restaurant was sort of a Cracker Barrel meets Hometown Buffet, so while the food was good as was the service and apparently the "Amish" part was that the food was home/restaurant cooked (as opposed to what?) and some traditional Amish dishes, they had a gift shop packed with *genuine* Amish stuff. Essentially, they have factories where they whip Amish people into baking pies and cookies and stuff, and then they sell it at high mark up in a highly advertised, technological marvel of an Amish buffet and give the Amish... I don't know.. six nails for a barn building for it.

And yes, I will stoop to making fun of the Amish. You will also note that below I stooped to making fun for the Mormons for having a crappy capital city. Why? Because being politically correct requires energy, I'm lazy, and I make sure I pick on people that are unlikely to kick my ass. If you see me pursued by a gang of suited gentlemen on bicycles and bonneted women, don't interfere, because you will know I finally got what's coming to me.

Oh, and while I'm offending people, to scientologists: Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha... that is all.

For Christmas Eve, I stayed in a Super 8 motel which did not *technically* allow pets, thus I had to *technically* smuggle my critters in, and then couldn't find my computer battery so I had to issue the half completed blogpost below before my puter died on me, which sucks, because it was the first hotel we'd stayed in that had its own wi fi! D'oh!

Tomorrow, I head to Greenville to my mom's apartment where I'll be alternately crashing (spread between friend, dad, and mom) until I head island-bound.

So hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday, and I can only hope he DIDN'T go to Jared.

Dec 24, 2006

Up to my ass in vampires...

If you're a fan (or a former one) of the Anita Blake books, you know that St. Louis is not only crawling with vampires, but the resident vampires slayer is too busy humping her way through the monster population to bother slaying any of them, thus I felt lucky to escape with my life.

You see, the vampires lure in unsuspecting tourists with the promise of a riverboat casino. They slaughter said unsuspecting tourists, leaving their cars in the parking lot, and bus in the next load. Fortunately, since state law dictates they can only murder people over the age of 21, I cleverly left my ID in the car, thus they didn't allow me in the door of their stupid trap, so I went and made my OWN fun by taking pictures off the bridge over the Mississippi.

What casino checks ids at the door anyway? In Reno, as long as you're out of diapers (or back in them), they'll serve you a highball no worries. But it's my own fault for not being willing to walk my lazy butt back to the car for the sake of losing my remaining 6 dollars worth of cash, and I am SO not entering the credit card cash advance territory of compulsive gambling.

And then there's those darn vamps, so I took this picture, as the sun was setting, fully intent on leaving town before they left their stony crypts:



Incidentally, New Orleans also has abundant vampires, but thanks to Anne Rice, all they do is whine about their unfortunate lot in unlife. They're a lot like teenage girls.

I wanted to see the arch and I got to! Hooray. Battery life on the puter is about to cut out at any second though.

Made it to Morehead, KY, requisite sexually explicit jokes can be implied due to my lack of time and space. So... good progress!!! More updates later when I'm not under the gun!

Dec 23, 2006

Well, isn't this a nice bit of frozen wasteland?

Part II of the blog... Laramie ho! Or I suppose NC ho! Since I'd been in Laramie and everything.

Went through Cheyenne, and I do mean *through*. I proceded through the town desperately seeking a form of drive-up/through sustenance, which meant I was stuck going through town, which I expected to be all pretty and cowboy old westy and instead it looked like someone threw snow on Del Paso Heights. Sigh. I DID narrowly avoid hitting a bus by skidding right through a red light though. I do love ice. But good news!! I secured us a Hardee's, which they cruelly deprive us of in California, and stuck some biscuits and gravy on the inside of my arteries. Ummy num num! Oh Hardee's, I'm naming my first heart attack after you.

Got out of Wyoming and into Nebraska... my first thought was that Nebraska and I were NOT going to get along well. Desolate, ugly, frozen, an endless unpunctuated terrain of filthy slush kicked onto my windshield by trucks and treacherous icy roads. Fun. You all should see my car. It used to be white.

However, in part two of Nebraska, the disgusting road smegma gave way to an icy wonderland of glistening trees. Okay, Nebraska, you grew on me:



I mean, that's just flipping cool. And then for these Robert Frost sorts of images:



As well as:



Good show, Nebraska. Nice work.

Then it was winding on I-29 through the dark in an attempt to find our next route. This had us bouncing back and forth between Iowa and Missouri for some time. I got next to no impression of Iowa other than a decided "red state" feeling at one gas station that had a selection of bumper stickers that made me realize it was time to haul my left coast liberal little butt on out of there quietly.

Missouri is/was nice enough, though it's an interesting blend... How to sum it up?

Come to Missouri! Bibles, bitches, and booze!

There's a strange sort of dichotomy in Missouri. It's like the buckle of the Bible Belt slammed into West Hollywood. What's the motto? A church across from every porn shop or a porn shop across from every church? On the one hand, all the little kitch shops are full of Bible verses, dolls of women in modest clothing... the landscape is pretty with little farmhouses that are spaced here and there surrounded by fields (and see them soon folks, since i'm sure by next year, there'll be a walmart there)... yet the porn shops! They're everywhere! And they heavily advertise! They have one place called "Passions" that from the 50 miles of billboards leading up to it, I expected to be a sort of porn mecca... golden phallus rising proudly to the skies above, etc, but by the time we finally crossed it, it's more of the sagging shack vein of ALL the other porn shops in Missouri, and there are a buttload of them, let me tell you!

Even the Yellowtail Chardonnay poster had to get racy to be approved. Here's a wine normally associated with kangaroos, but in Missouri, the billboard had to have a barely dressed mermaid with, you guessed it, a yellow tail. They don't even HAVE mermaids in Australia. They aren't venomous enough.

Nice people though. I stayed in a motel 6 (with no wi fi! Horror!) in St. Joseph and all the locals are just sunshine and buttercups, unlike the gawking hill people in Nevada. Holy crap people, they're just reindeer slippers. Close your mouths.

And today, I sit in a Flying J, as mentioned before, ensconsing myself in bytes. AHHHHH... so good. Onward to St. Louis!

Busted!

Ah, Elko, NV doesn't like me. 94 in a 75 zone, reduced to 80, which saddled me with a whopping 107 dollar fine. Of course, since the day before, I was approved for 60K in loans, words couldn't have described my apathy. "Pardon me, officer, but could you speed it along? I'm trying to make good time. Now I'm going to need to do 104 just to compensate."

Yet, I remember the high school days where I got a ticket and burst into tears because I'd just made 160$ babysitting at a time when I needed the cash for HEAT! Had a can of frigging kerosene sitting on the passenger seat. Ah, those were the days.

Sorry not to update, but I couldn't find a hotspot for the wireless, thus my inability to access the internet with anything other than DIAL UP, which didn't even work in St. Joseph, Missouri, sent me into a state of pure catatonic schitzophrenia from the withdrawal. Ish need 'puter!

So, I'm going to split this into two posts to represent the change in days. Works, right?

Thursday, we headed out, I got my bustedness, and we left Nevada in shame. Bye Nevada:



Utah had some incredibly pretty spots, that naturally I didn't take pictures of. Unfortunately, Salt Lake City wasn't one of them. And what's up, Mormons? Any other city in the world, your temples are elevated, lit, and pretty, beacons to the world. In your CAPITAL city, you can't even see the great temple from the freeway? And instead, you wall in the freeway with concrete barriers thus destroying ANY chance someone MIGHT have of seeing anything attractive all while increasing their chances of dying in a wreck of they weave off your curved-through-the-city turns? Silly Mormons.

Fortunately, we hit Parley (Parley's?) before dark, and I did get pictures of that, because boy howdy, is it beautiful. There's a town at the top (Parley's Summit, go fig) that is ripped straight out of a Dickens novel:



As such, I couldn't help staying a while and taking mondo pictures while freezing my butt off:



Of course, I also had to go up a winding little road, usually only populated by SUVs and pick up trucks, to get the obligatory mountain views:



And naturally, our Christmas tree:



After that, if you couldn't tell, it was dark as we proceded into Wyoming, missing all the pretty bits to utter darkness.

We had initially planned to stay in Rawlins, but alas! No Motel 6, and I need M6 because they allow pets! D'oh. This meant conquering Elk Mountain at night, which meant icy roads and blowing snow and a little white knuckle driving, but nothing spectacular. Donner during a blizzard (done it in the hyundai!) is so very much worse. Ended up staying in Laramie for the night, which I keep thinking of as a brand of cigarettes because it is on the Simpsons. For my random reference.

Dec 21, 2006

They Say the Best Things in Life are Free...

But you can give it to the birds and the bees; I want money!!

And now I have it!

BTW, yes, I do make a lot of outdated pop culture references. Deal with it.

I got my loans; I got my loans; I got my freaking loans, thus proving there are people out there crazy or stupid enough to give me nearly 60 large! Now, 18500 of that comes from Uncle Sam, which should answer the above question, and I know *technically* the GradPlus loan is a private loan through Uncle Sam, but whatever. It's mine! I'm going to med school! I am not simply going to Grenada on a one way ticket to be exceptionally screwed if things hadn't worked out. Wahoo! This allowed me to put this on with pride:



And speaking of tickets, Expedia sent me an email helpfully informing me that my parents' flight from Raleigh to JFK (JeffK for you Dwarfers out there) had undergone an itinerary change and would NOW be coming in 12 minutes earlier than expected. Thanks Expedia.

So I'm in Winnemucca, NV. Which is surprisingly large and populated. Most of Nevada seems to look like this:



With this here as a rest stop:



Quite pretty, in a post apocalyptic kind of way, but not a place where you'd expect people to all of the sudden, stick a city. A COLD frigging city, for the record.

I'll probably stick a longer version of my trip log on my website once I'm done with the trip, by the way. I'll include my pre-christmas trip to SF as well, because it has pictures of lots of shiny things, and I like shiny things that aren't diamonds (see below).

We're off again. But now I'm confirmed (By loan official and by fin aid counselor, both of whom are SAINTS) for money, so I can slum across country in style. Parley's, look out!

Dec 20, 2006

Shoot me... but we're off!!!

And only a week late!!

Ladies and gentlemen, I... fucking hate moving. That's right, I said the "F" word. I say it with some regularity when I'm not annexcafeing. I gotta watch that when I'm a doctor:

Ishie: Ahhh fuck.
Patient: Who in the what now?

I also *nearly* yelled "Goddammit" in a church parking lot when I went to drop off some clothes. I say *nearly* as I stopped at "God-" when I noticed all the well dressed chubby cheeked little Russian children on their way to Sunday night whatever and finished lamely with something appropriate to my Christian neighbors. Gosh darnit.

So I'm sitting in a Kinko's shipping off the remains of my lovely little apartment. I don't need movers! Ahhhhhh... I'm a moron. But whatever.

First, a complete shout-out to my good friend, Jim, without whom, I would have made a pile of all my belongings (sans camera; I wasn't *that* crazed" and lit it all on fire. This guy's given up like a month of his life to my incompetent girly ass AND lent me his sweet-ass pickup (yuppie wannabe SUV) for pretty much the whole time. I still like my little Hyundai, but at least in the pickup, I can intimidate all the smaller cars (like Hyundais) on the road. Mwa ha ha ha!!!! So yeah, thank you thank you thank you, Jim. May the motors go out of your childrens' pocket bikes while you slumber.

Also a shout out to my mom for helping me move and driving cross country with me, but unlike Jim, she is obligated through blood relation PLUS I have a bunch of her photo albums.

So hopefully I'll be able to update this blog on the road from my laptop by poaching other people's wireless. I still don't have the gist of it entirely, but I'm learning. With my camera and cables, I *may* even be able to upload scenic shots from I-80, post them on my blog, and... I don't know... use a camera phone to take a picture of myself taking a picture. Ain't technology great?

I'm a 26 year old Luddite though. I'm still completely floored by PS1 graphics which makes me want to slap the crap out of every jaded little 8 year old crying "The blood spatter in GTA 4 is SO played out!" Shut up punks. Back in my day, the days of having to ride my bike to school uphill both ways in the snow, we had the more developed Atari (including the Cabbage Patch version of Pitfall) and the original Nintendo. And to the 13 year old that told me Nine Inch Nails is 'passé', may Michael Jackson occupy real estate in your closet, brat.

Yes, still waiting for them to finish weighing my material possessions to ship them to my oh-so unsuspecting father. Mwa ha ha ha ha...

Oh, and guess what... the status on my loan? PENDING!!! Did you think any differently? It has the official pre-approval denial now which means it's being faxed to the loan approval fairy... or something, I don't understand that stuff. Funny thing was that my financial aid counselor at SGU said the FAFSA would be the hard part. Yeah, my ass.

Dec 16, 2006

He's Pining for the Fjords

Any takers for that reference?

Quick loan status: Pending...

So, what's happening, is at Great Lakes, someone screwed up... again. They were supposed to send my denial (from the electronic pre-approval) to a VERY nice and patient woman who does the manual approvals, and yet again, didn't. Why? Because they didn't have the correct dispersement dates. Why? Who knows. My fin aid counselor at SGU (also very nice and patient) has sent them twice, and the second time circled them! Maybe she needed to write it in 72 pt Courier font. Who knows. Of course then, my hyphenated last name (which you, my dear readers, ain't getting) would cause problems. It's happened with loans before. My college transcripts got put on hold because they had me as not attending exit loan counseling because they had my file in the wrong folder. Sigh. Thanks mom and dad. Let's hyphenate the child's last name for no reason.

And they pulled my TU credit report yesterday AGAIN. I could throw a permissible purpose tantrum for slamming another hard inquiry on my best credit report, thus dunking my score 4 points, but I want my money so I'm not going to do so. So despite the fact that these were supposed to receive confirmation by last Monday, I need to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday, when I'll be on the road to NC. I'm still in the process of moving, which suuuuuuucks! I remembered I hate moving. You ALWAYS have too much stuff. You could be a monk living in isolation and when you were ready to move to another monastery you'd be all "Where did I get all this shit? I've got illuminated manuscripts and prayer beads everywhere. Movers would charge me 1500 dollars to deal with this crap!" Or maybe you'd just THINK that, with the vow of silence and all.

Ah, but the title of the post. Yesterday, I went to UCD's vertebrate museum to finish up a fleshless parrot I've been articulating since the late stone age because I'm a moron that screws up the glue.

HALLO POLLY!!!!



If you hadn't glued, wired, and drilled him to the perch, he'd be pushing up daisies.

So it may be no small wonder that I want to go into orthopedics. It may be worth mentioning that if this little Amazon weren't commissioned to the vet school, I would SO have walked around the first week on the Rock with him on my shoulder going ARRRRRRRR... I think my bird be sick mateys! Because I'm a loser. That's right, a complete loser.

Dec 14, 2006

Deer Santa

i has ben a very gud gurl this yeer. Pleze make grate laks lone gimme my lone statis so i no if i can go to skool. it haz ben to weeks!!!!

Luv,

lil illiti... eliter... cant reed Sally.

Dec 10, 2006

There's Something About Soundgarden...

I swear, my mother has had a radar, since I was about 15, for any time Chris Cornell is singing. This woman will doze through Marilyn Manson, not "be fond" of Rage Against the Machine, but if Soundgarden comes on for three seconds, watch out. That'll teach me to play the circa 1995 edition of Road Rash when she's helping me move to the island, mon.

So I'm frigging exhausted. I stayed up all night getting stuff ready for Garage Sale, Part III, Nature's Revenge. We did the indoor dealie, an ACTUAL garage sale out of Jim's garage, and did better than I would have anticipated, considering it was POURING.

Status of loan? Pending. Still. It's etched onto my corneas, scratched into my skull. I'd have nightmares but they're all PENDING approval from Morpheus. How long does it take to check a credit report??? I could have read Leo Tolstoy's credit report by now, and you know it would have been 3000 pages long and included 6 pages about oysters... or his oyster loan status. Did I mention I'm tired? Good.

In another edition of the serial, we revisit attempting to complete these health forms again. I'm frigging glad I have Kaiser or I'd owe more money for the process of completing the health forms than I would for the school.

In our last episodes, we found Ishtar/Ishie as a little pink pincushion getting filled with vaccinations against everything except, ironically, the horrific disease of which she will eventually die due to some tragic mishap in a vaccination clinic.

This disease *almost* turned out to be meningitis. Why? Well, the the history...

You need your titers checked for the MMRV stuff when you enter the school. I figure... all right, last MMR shot was in 2000 to get into Sac State (went there for a semester before transferring to Davis), no problem. Problem. Totally not immune to measles. Imagine how shocked I would have been if I'd have come down with it. Time to check the polio and smallpox titers, eh? Not that I've had a smallpox vaccination. I'm one of the chosen sacrifices when the elders decide to cull the herd.

On Thursday, when I was getting a TB test, flu shot, and "meningitis" shot, they told me to come back today (Saturday) to get the TB test read (it's been on the New York Times Bestseller list for weeks) AND to get my MMR shot, since they didn't want to mix it with a flu shot.

I take a break from garage saling today just in time to drive past Arden Mall at peak holiday crunch time, head to Kaiser, where my TB test is read within three minutes and then I wait... and wait... and wait... I know they're backed up; it's all good... and wait, and get halfway through Fast Food Nation, which incidentally makes me kind of want some McDonalds french fries... and wait.

I go back for the MMR shot. The nurse grabs the underside of my arm in a death grip and says "When I pinch it like this, it makes the shot hurt less." Hmm... no it doesn't. The needle stick feels exactly the same (not too bad), only now it is into bruised battered flesh which is also the inflamed recepticle to less than comfy chemicals. Stop doing that. Shots are not a big deal to me. I am not going to pass out, throw up, or scream. Just jab the needle in my arm and stop doing things that make it worse to make it *seem* better.

So then I am trying to get a printout of all my vaccines, including the evidence that the MMR shot was given for the school since I'm negative for the measles titers... I also want the meningitis documented because... well, I'm anal retentive.

Meningitis not showing up on the printout. Shows up on the new computing system sans date, batch number... but not on printout. However... pneumonia is. According to my Kaiser paperwork, I'm not due for a booster on my pneumonia shot until 2045. I'm not making that up. I'll frigging scan it.

Apparently, last week, I got my early booster. Always nice to have extras, I suppose. But no meningitis. Oopsie. I suppose if I'm getting the wrong mystery vial shoved into my arm, I'm glad it's just a vaccine rather than... I don't know... propecia... or fried chicken. Simple, right? Just jab yet another needle in my arms, which are beginning to show track marks that rival a heroin addict's, but whatever.

No... need doctor's orders... then need other things... then they're swamped (so many arbitrary vaccines! So little time!)... getting more into my book. Did you know they have a chemical food additive that smells exactly like grilled hamburgers? Me neither. Nurse comes back with needle. Forgets something... rests needle on counter where it isn't cooperating with staying in place and keeping the tip off said non-sterile counter. I'm not particularly worried, because by this point, I figure my immune system can probably bench around 240. Nurse sets needle on plastic ziplock bag which hopefully did not once contain human urine, instructs me not to touch it (damn! Note to self: don't practice needle juggling trick). Nurse leaves. Ishie speculates that perhaps getting meningitis isn't all that bad.

Nurse comes back, pinches OTHER arm (thus ending all my dreams of being a surgeon) and jabs me with the needle. Success! BUT! Still no print out. Cut to about 25 minutes later, and I have called Jim to let him know I haven't succumbed to a firey wreck, taking his beloved pickup truck with me.

We resign ourselves to no meningitis printout. Just as I'm leaving, miraculous! It appears.

So, due to my loyalty to SGU, I have been stabbed nine times in two weeks and have nearly finished a book with the amount of time I've spent decorating Kaiser's waiting rooms. If I don't get my loans, I am going to find the loan official and pump HIM full of vaccines until he either approves me or turn into some sort of ironically named Batman villain. Dr. Tytirs?

Dec 6, 2006

AIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE

PLEASE, for the love of loan fairies, just tell me if you've approved my application!!!! I can't take the "pending" anymore!!! ARGHHHHHHHHH

On a totally unrelated note, would anyone be interested in purchasing a slightly used Playstation 2 for the low price of $40,333? I'll throw in a couple of dance games, a pad, and X-Men Legends II in for free...

Dammit Great Lakes; update my status!!!!

Dec 4, 2006

So, I'm a moron

I should amend that TB test requirement in my post below. You need the TB test WITHIN 6 months of registration, which, in retrospect, makes a lot more sense, though to my credit, the travel nurse read it the way I did.

On the health note, make sure you get your student health insurance forms in. For some reason, it's considered to be part of your financial aid package. I can't give any advice on which to get since I haven't completed mine or sent it in yet, because (see title of entry).

In other news, the status of my GradPlus loan is listed as pending, while at the same time, the school mentions my approval for said loans on the finaid website, which I don't believe for a second. In other words, the school has approved me for the $40,333 (good freaking god that's a lot of money), but the loan company still has to APPROVE it.

What does this mean? It means I am having a drawn out stroke/panic attack that ends with me sleeping in a gutter in ten years croaking "If only I'd been approved for a GradPlus loan, I'd be a doctor" through my beer soaked breath... either that, or I go back to living in a beige cubicle nitpicking other people's work for a living... which may be worse.

I am also aware that this is needless worrying, I'm likely to be approved, and have a number of other options available to me were I not, and my credit isn't bad (praise be to creditboards), but I like to nurture my ulcer. What's the point in clogging my arteries with samosas if I can't screw with the other aspects of my health?

I also talked to my financial aid counselor. Unlike my admissions counselor, who, during my admissions process, I believe was about to take out a restraining order on me, my fin aid counselor is a real sweetheart and has a lot that's helpful to say.

I learned three important things concerning my financial aid:
1. You must speak with your financial aid advisor as an official counseling session (can be done by phone), whether you've borrowed before or not. This takes 10-20 minutes and is quite helpful.
2. Even if you have borrowed federal loans before, you must still sign a Master's Promissary Note for your Stafford loans (can be done electronically with your federal pin), which is not something that I knew, and is now done.
3. If your expected family contribution is higher than you'd have expected (which it always seems to be, since I know damn good and well I don't have 9 large to fork over nor do my RN mother or my social security dad, it *may* cost you the subsidized Stafford loan (or a portion of it), but you can still get the full $18500 per academic year (SGU divides its four physical years into five academic years for loan purposes, so PLEASE stop asking why it takes "five years to graduate from SGU". It doesn't) by upping the amount of your unsubsidized Stafford loans (meaning that interest is accruing while you're in school). The TOTAL available Stafford loans is $18,500, so even if you get nothing in the way of subsidized loans, you can still get the whole $18,500.

That last one may be boring to you guys, but is a critical point when you think that due to your EFC, you're going to wind up 10 grand short a year. That's a lot of money.

Nov 30, 2006

Oww!

I'm attacking SGU's health history forms, and since I'm currently coughing up for Kaiser (I work through a staffing agency, aka a temp agency, thus don't have health insurance, though I'm told I am entitled to steal office supplies), I discovered the wonder that is 'free' vaccinations.

I also discovered that my ovaries *do* work when it comes to bargain hunting, so I said "Fill er up!" Gimme any damn vaccine you have. I even want the smallpox vaccination... because you never know. Didn't have that one though. I did opt out of the Yellow Fever vaccine, because when "multi system organ failure" is listed as a side effect, I figure I'll spring for the mosquito netting, plus I didn't want to run a 25% chance of being nasty sick for the next 2-5 days. I've got packing to do.

And not to worry, Grenada doesn't have Yellow Fever, but I was thinking of impromptu island hopping and a possible trip into Venezuela because I'm a geek for the rainforest stuff... and not just the gorgeous tropical island variety, but the "microscopic brain slugs and jaguars" variety... all of course when I'm not burning countless hours of med school info into my retinas. I wonder if I could do the reading with a microscopic brain slug... while being attacked by a jaguar...

But I digress.

What this means is after shots for typhoid, tetanus, Hep A, Hep B, and two pretty nasty blood draws from a PIT (Phlebotomist In Training) to check my titers, I feel like I've lost a fight. Oh, and to other Phlebotomists In Training, saying "Why isn't it... Shit... is it the tube? Dammit... I'm gonna try using a smaller needle" isn't comforting... No lie, direct quote, and couldn't you have used a smaller needle to begin with?? It's bad when a blood draw hurts 10 times more than a tetanus shot. Oh, and if you miss the vein, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE just let it go and restick me as you will eventually need to do rather than rotating the needle 180 degrees in an attempt to rend as much of my flesh asunder as you can before leaving your newly created paint gun cartridge hit-sized bruise on my arm?

Oh, funny side note... while the nurse that gave me the shots (not the PIT) was looking over at something, I leaned slightly out of my chair to 'surreptitiously' look at my file, and she spun around like Bruce Lee, and grabbed for me with big eyes, soon closely matched by mine, because she startled the hell out of me. So don't lean slowly out of your chair when you get your shots because the nurses will think you're passing out and will try to rescue you. Heh.

And I'm due for a full physical, a flu shot (it's free! Free free free free free!), the meningitis vaccine (it's free! Free free free free free!), and a TB test on the 7th.

SGU requires the TB test (it would like it 6 months in advance, or so they claim, but I didn't even GET the health forms 6 months before January), titers for MMR-V (immunization record isn't enough), a tetanus shot in the last ten years (and you need the batch number), and the Hep B series. You don't need the Hep B series to register, but it needs to be complete before you start rotations (and the last shot is six months behind the second one), and again with the free.

You also have to either get a meningitis shot, or say that you are aware of the meningitis vaccine and don't want it because it's usually frigging expensive, and sign off on it. You can't do that with the others. Something about infecting patients, plus I'm sure they don't want you to get anything that will cause you to drop dead before paying off all those loans.

Hep A and Polio are on the recommended list. I opted for Hep A because I'm shameless about what I'll eat (well, within reason; get your minds out of the gutter) and I will eat street meat with impunity though the concept of how one gets Hep A through eating street meat is disgusting (mmm microscopic fecal matter).

Kaiser, in their infinite wisdom, or because they read the above, also gave me a pre-emptive Cipro prescription for the inevitable "bacterial traveler's diarrhea". I'm not going to South America, so I suppose it isn't Montezuma's Revenge... Carib Indians' Revenge? Boo hiss...

All right all right. Enough. Back to packing, and to enjoying the last few days of lumbar supported slumber, since I have a buyer for my bed, which means fortunately, I haven't sold that sleeping bag yet!

Nov 29, 2006

Merry Giftmas, you shallow golddiggers...

Okay, and yet another post totally unrelated to SGU. Get used to them, since I'm not going to be on the island for another six weeks... six weeks, good lord that's close.

So in the meantime, I decided to reveal how opinionated I am. Why wait?

First things first... I have absolutely no trouble with the commercialization of Token Winter Holiday. I like holiday music, holiday decorations, blazing tacky lights on every house (sans spiral neon Christmas trees, PLEASE), gifts, family, etc. Hell, I look forward to going to visit my relatives every year to ensconse myself in the utter feelgoodness of the holidays (unlike many, I actually like my relatives).

That being said... commercials lately have been getting to me. Commercials frequently get to me, but lately, it's been really really bad, and I struggle through my basic television watching to not be fundamentally offended because I pride myself on being difficult to offend.

All right... perhaps I hang out with women that aren't gold digging, materialistic, ball breaking bitches, but if I see one more "buy her love with diamonds for the holidays so she doesn't snipe at you for the rest of the year" commercial, I'm going to start taking hostages. I don't even LIKE diamonds, and I'm liking them less by the holi-day.

Now, the whole "guy loves his woman and surprises her with a nice gift and she wakes up to an expensive diamond necklace" motif actually doesn't bother me as much. Works with diamonds; works with cars, expresses a sentiment that somehow, MIGHT be somewhere close to a nice gesture based on feelings of love. It's cliché, and I'm not fond of shiny trinkets that don't enable me to go underwater, but whatever. He loves her; she likes diamonds; he gets her diamonds because he likes to get her things she likes because it's HIS frigging idea. Awesome. Whatever floats your boat or drains your bank account.

No no... what I'm talking about is the Jared syndrome, and not the odd looking guy from the Subway commercials. I'm talking about the sniping poodle women comparing the size and clarity of their trinkets and then brow beating their husbands for not "going to Jared" or every other damn equivalent of it.

Attention men. If your woman ever looks at you pointedly and says "HE went to JARED", divorce her. If you ever take flak because you went out on a gift for her, and it wasn't good enough or expensive enough, then let her take up residence in a stable with the other women that trade sex for shiny objects. And just give her the cash. Then she can go to Jared herself and pick out what she likes. Happy holidays and happy endings.

I just saw a watch commercial that doesn't target women specifically (though again with the diamonds!), but says the thing that says the MOST about you is your watch. Yes, they frigging say that. Forget your actions; forget your character.. what says the MOST about you is your watch.

Now, I've never gotten the Rolex fixation, but even from a purely shallow and materialistic perspective, your WATCH? Really? Not your clothes, hair, makeup, ipod, car, or cell phone? Sucks to be you, Donna Karan, Cover Girl, Apple, Audi, and Motorola. Better close up your businesses now. They're destined to failure. Apparently, it's the watch. The perfect gift to say "Hey, maybe you should try being on time every once in a while, just to be different. Maybe if I stick enough shiny things on this timepiece, the light will reflect in your eyes and remind you that you're LATE!!!

Come to think of it, I should get one. Every time I'd think about how much I hate diamonds (frequently), I'd look at my watch, realize I'm late (because I always am), leave the house, and be on time. Thank you, Seiko.

This should be the focus of people's unhealthy fixations on the "War on Christmas", not the dumb 'happy holidays' thing. Remember, every time a Jared commercial airs, it makes the baby Jesus cry. And more importantly, it makes *me* cry... and rant... and blog!

Nov 27, 2006

A Hello to Income...

And a Happy Belated Celebrate the Rape and Slaughter of an Indigenous Peoples by Eating a Retarded Peacock Day to all of you!

Yeah yeah, but at least now I don't have to be bitter about seeing Token Winter Holiday decorations since they're not pushing out the Fourth of July merchandise anymore. I do love this time of year.

My fraud alert is off one credit report and pending on the others. For FAs, threatening phone calls to EQ and TU work nicely; Experian requires the more formal approach of a threatening letter... Remember, cutting the individual letters out of magazines and newspapers gives it that personal touch.

I actually went against the Roseville auction thing at the suggestion of a friend, Jim, that also has a great yard. The problem with apartment living (besides the upstairs neighbor that apparently has a racetrack upstairs is you have no 'yard' for an "I'm selling all my shit" yard sale.

So I set up on Black Friday when everyone was at the shopping malls... Friday, we got off to a pretty late start, and didn't get most of the signs up, but still took in a decent amount. Saturday rocked though, so I managed to start raking in more dough for the grand purpose of being dumped into my credit union savings account for the cross country/trans country move. So then I printed up a bunch of pictures of my remaining (in some case, in use) furniture to put around, and sure enough, I've sold about half of it now with more crap in my apartment to clean out! Hooray!!!

Sunday, I got rained out, so packed up all the yard sale stuff into Jim's carport, piled into his truck and exploited him for physical labor at my apartment.

Funny thing with yard sales though... I've been living in apartments since I was 13, so have very little experience with yard sales (hence the overwhelming amount of crap), but the people at yard sales... some are really cool, but others are complete assholes about everything and while I don't mind haggling, will insult your stuff in an attempt to get something that costs a quarter for a dime, OR they'll talk about your stuff in front of you, which is highly rude... had one woman and her daughter look at a table full of jewelry that ran from my grandmother's pearls/real gold, nice stuff all the way to my little kid days with plastic jewelry and my goth phase, and I was standing IN FRONT OF HER to answer any questions, and she looks at her daughter, and says "Whoa.. yeah, I'd buy THIS, riiight... I suppose people just have different tastes" and then sort of laughed... and it's like... just how badly are people raised that they make it to adulthood saying whatever they're thinking without getting decked?

This was the mother saying it, and I was thinking... if I had said that in FRONT of my mother at any time, in the same circumstance (right in front of the seller), I'd have gotten my ears boxed and had to apologize. Bastids.

Then of course we had "What's your lowest price, no your lowest price, now I'm going to try to undercut THAT instead of the asking price woman", who managed to get me to $30 on a 180$ sewing machine only to stalk off in a huff because it didn't come with the 60$ file cabinet it was sitting on, and she'd been REALLY trying to get me lower than that. Sold the stuff to someone else, bitch; next time bring a better attitude, but I'm sure you're busy down at the car dealership trying to trade in your 1979 Gremlin in on a Dodge Viper.

So what did I learn in my experience? Garage sales/yard sales = good way to make money/reminder that I should stay in school because I could never EVER work retail without eventually winding up in jail.

Nov 22, 2006

A Farewell to Income

What? ANOTHER post? If only I can keep up this rate once I'm in Grenada. Riiight.

I gave my notice today, and my boss was REALLY cool about it, which of course, makes me feel like more of an ass. Ah well. So it's becoming, as Geertz would say (because dammit, I will NOT have that religion in society and culture class be simply a waste of money), part of the really real.

My apartment is starting to show the real signs of breakdown. Since I'm going to try my luck at the Roseville Auction as mentioned this weekend, I'm ripping through my belongings to look for things to sell. I've taken down posters and paintings, cleared kitchy knick knacks off the surface, thus getting down to that spartan 'someone's about to not live here' element, punctuated here and there with stray boxes. This also means that every time I go home, I have that deep breath, holy crap this is really happening and damned if I'd better get my loans or I am ska-rewed sensation.

Poco a poco. And good lord, I have a lot of crap! It's amazing how much generic buildup you get when you live somewhere for 7 years with no discernible plans to leave.

Oh, on a COMPLETELY random, non SGU related note, I decided to post this transcript with a certain roadside assistance company, whose name I will disguise as "Triple B" or BBB, because the incompetence is golden. I was driving back from diving in Monterey, and fortunately not in a hurry. The following is the *abbreviated* version of the intensive task of trying to get some competent roadside assistance. And yes, my cell phone reception was FINE:

Ishie: Hi, yeah, I need a service call? I stopped to take some pictures, and now my car battery's dead. I'm by the side of the highway on 152 headed East about 3 miles past Casa de Fruta. I'm in a white Hyundai Accent.
Idiot1: You're where?
Ishie: Three miles past Casa de Fruta... on 152 East, between Gilroy and Santa Nella.
Idiot1: Well, what city are you in?
Ishie: I'm not in a city. I'm between Gilroy and Santa Nella, probably in Santa Clara or Merced county.
Idiot1: So you're in Santa Nella?
Ishie: No, Santa Nella is about 30 miles in front of me. I am BETWEEN Gilroy and Santa Nella.
Idiot1: Well, what's the last exit you saw?
Ishie: Casa de Fruta. Could be Casa de Frutas.
Idiot1: About how far back was that?
Ishie: Three miles.
Idiot1: Can you spell that?
Ishie: C-a-s-a d-e F-r-u-t-a.
Idiot1: Hold on. So your car won't start?
Ishie: Right. The battery's dead. I just need a jump.
Idiot1: Well, if it just stopped running on the highway, that's not the battery.
Ishie: I pulled off the highway to take pictures. Now the car won't start again.
Idiot1: Okay, but if you were driving and the car just stopped running... did it stop running slowly, or did everything just fail? Because that's not the battery.
Ishie: Listen... I pulled OFF the highway to take pictures. I turned off the car, got out of the car, and took pictures. When I got back in the car, and put the key into the ignition and turned it, the car went "rrr... rrr... rrr..." and wouldn't turn over... because the battery's dead, and needs a jump.
Idiot1: So... you're past Casa de Fruta?
Ishie: (deep breath) Yes.
Idiot1: I'm not finding it. Are you sure it's Casa de Fruta?
Ishie: Or Frutas. Yes. It's the only road out here.
Idiot1: Hold please
*click*

Ishie: Hello? Oh, fuck me.

(redial)

Ishie: Hi, I just placed a service call but got disconnected. I'm on 152 Eastbound?
Idiot2: Okay, what seems to be the problem?
Ishie: I stopped by the side of the road to take some pictures, and my car won't start. The battery's dead. I need a jump.
Idiot2: Well, if the car just stopped running while you were driving, then the problem isn't the battery.
Ishie: I stopped to take some pictures, thus I was not in the process of driving.
Idiot2: Well, was the car running when you stopped?
Ishie: What? The car stopped running when I turned off the ignition. When I turned the ignition back on, it wouldn't turn over, because I need a jump.
Idiot2: Well... we can't have a technician jump the battery by the side of the highway for his safety, but we can tow you somewhere else, though with
your plan, it's only the first five miles that are free, after that it's ten
dollars a mile.
Ishie: (&(*)(*(*&)(*^^%&^*(U(*??????????? Let me get this straight... I need the guy to jump the battery, but he can't, because it's unsafe to do by the side of the highway, but it IS safe for him to kneel down with his back to oncoming traffic, secure the car to the towtruck and tow me twenty feet backwards to the dirt inlet where I pulled off so he can jump me there?
Idiot2: .... well, if the car suddenly stopped running, it's not the battery anyway.
Ishie: Can you just send someone out?
Idiot2: Okay, where are you?
Ishie: (through gritted teeth) I am on Eastbound 152, 3 miles from the Casa de Fruta exit. Gilroy is about 8 miles behind me; Santa Nella is about 30 miles in front of me.
Idiot2: So you're in Santa Nella?
Ishie: I see a call box behind me. I'm walking to it.
Idiot2: Are you safe out of your car?
Ishie: Safer than dying of exposure inside the car after I'm left here for dead. Hold on. (walking walking walking) Okay. I am at the call box. It is callbox 152-0300 listed Santa Clara county. I would give you the GPS coordinates if I had them.
Idiot2: (clacking keys) Okay... callbox 152-0300; that has you on 152 Eastbound. Is that correct?
Ishie: YES.
Idiot2: Okay, I'm going to add this to a service order I'm seeing here... do you know...?
*click*

Ishie: Hello? Oh you've gotta be fucking kidding me.

(redial)

Ishie: Hi... I've been disconnected from you guys twice, I am trying to place a service order so you guys can jump my battery. I'm in a white Hyundai by the side of 152 Eastbound. I'm probably gaining some notoriety over there by now.
Idiot3: You're by the side of the highway?
Ishie: Yes.
Idiot3: Well, if your car just stopped running on the highway, it's not the battery.
Ishie: Can we just get someone out here?
Idiot3: Oh, okay, but I'm going to put you down for a tow, because if it were the battery, you wouldn't be able to START the car; it wouldn't just stop running.
Ishie: Excellent. Can you just make sure the service order is in?
Idiot3: Oh... it says the service order was cancelled...
Ishie: Can you un-cancel it?
Idiot3: Oh, okay... so... where are you?
Ishie: Call box 152 0300, Santa Clara County. The sun is at approximately a 5:00 position and I'm next to a rather large Live Oak tree by the side of 152 Eastbound between Gilroy and Santa Nella before the San Luis Resevoir, three miles past the Casa de Fruta exit which features a rather famous fruit stand and stores uniquely called "Casa de Wine" and "Casa de Restaurant", and there's a huge rock outcropping about 100 yards in front of me. What do you people do when someone *doesn't* know where they are?
Idiot3: ... uh... I'm making sure the service order gets out for a tow. Someone should be there within half an hour.
Ishie: Thank you.

(ring)

Ishie: yes?
IdiotDispatcher: Hi, we've got a service call, but we're getting a lot of conflicting information on exactly where you are?
Ishie: Of course you are.
IdiotDispatcher: So...
Ishie: Call box 152 0300, Santa Clara County.
IdiotDispatcher: (keys clacking) Oh, so you're on Eastbound 152, east of Gilroy?
Ishie: Hallelujah. Yes.
IdiotDispatcher: And they have you down here as a tow?
Ishie: It's actually a dead battery.
IdiotDispatcher: Well, if your car stopped on the freeway, it's not a dead battery.
Ishie: Okie dokie then.
IdiotDispather: Someone should be there shortly.
Ishie: Thank you.

Tow Truck driver: Hi.
Ishie: Hi.
Tow Truck driver: What seems to be the problem?
Ishie: I stopped by the side of the road to take some pictures. When I got back in the car, it wouldn't turn over. The battery needs a jump.
Tow truck driver: Hmm... did you try to get a moving start?
Ishie: Yeah, but I didn't pop the clutch at first, and then ran out of road before risking going too far onto the freeway.
Tow truck driver: Did it make any noise when you tried to turn it over?
Ishie: Yeah, it went rrr rrr rrr.
Tow truck driver: Sounds like the battery. Get in the truck and wait here for a second.... (three minutes passes)... okay, yeah, started right up. You're good to go. I'm going to wait here for a second to make sure it doesn't give you any problems when you drive off.
Ishie: Thank you very much. Do I owe you anything?
Tow truck driver: No. Why did they have you listed as a tow?
------------------------------------

AHHHHHHH... now picture the conversations about Casa de Fruta, the spelling of it, and the location of it, as well as arguments about the battery going on about three times longer than noted because even in transcript format, it began to wear on the soul. This series of calls, sans time lounging in my car reading scuba mags (hubba hubba), lasted FORTY MINUTES.

Nov 21, 2006

Still Reading?

So, thanks to my disputes with Crapital One (What's in your sock drawer?), Equifax extended a fraud alert to all my credit reports for 7 years, despite the fact that I didn't ask them to, and don't want one, and putting a fraud alert on a report without permission is... ya know, fraudulent. So I get to fight that off, because I can't have an FA to apply for the GradPlus loan. Hooray.

In other news, I head for NC to do the last few weeks of the friends/family thing around December 12/13, which means we're getting into the range of when I need to quit my job, which I'm so not looking forward to... but am as well, but gasp, that means no more income for a while!!!

Also, in the spirit of Caribbean living, I'm selling about 85% of my belongings. It's freeing in a sense, but also terrifying. Hoping to use the Roseville auction as my bitch for all that. I also have a bunch of semi valuable stuff I'm hoping to find a buyer for, like a $100 set of ugly 1965 tarot cards.

On the SGU front, I still need to do my health forms, which requires kissing up to Kaiser. Word to the wise, I'm not sure how strict they are, but they want that TB test six months in advance, which in my case, is too bad for them. That'll teach me not to keep wildly good track of my medical records. I also need to check my immunity on the Hep B vaccine, since while in college, I managed to get two of the three shots and then ran out of health insurance. I'll probably need a tetanus booster, and they highly recommend the meningococcal vaccine... Hep A is another good one... I'll get the form list later.

The school hasn't been contacting me as much lately. I think they know that I'm actually going. The weird thing with SGU, at least in my experience, is that once they know you're interested, they half stalk you, at least until your application is in. You get multiple packets, multiple invites to open houses, cds, pens, and so forth. I haven't gotten that much dead tree since a Presbyterian women's college in Virginia apparently got my files mixed up with someone who would be caught dead in a Presbyterian women's college in Virginia. Who knew?

Once I had my interview, I continued getting SGU paperwork which gave me mini strokes every time I went to the mailbox, but I didn't actually hear for 9 weeks after my interview that I was accepted. Following that, I had approximately three students call me, three passport holders/luggage tags sent to me, received MORE paperwork, including stuff for the vet school (though when they eventually sent the financial aid packet I actually needed, it was through email), and then TWO sets, separated by three months, of housing forms. Whew!

Nov 17, 2006

Welcome to the wonderful world of overwhelming debt

This is my first blog post, first blog, and so forth, so be kind, or more likely, never see this in the realm of a billion blogs, and continue reading about how much Dubya's an ass or how much people who think Dubya's an ass are asses.

Generally, I wouldn't consider my life interesting enough to commit to blog format, but since, as an incoming January SGU medical student, I've found the blogs of other SGU students helpful, perhaps mine will be eventually as well. In the meantime, I'll bore any readers with the humdrum events of my life while adding in just enough relevant schooling information to keep the academia-obsessed reading through. Mwa ha.

Since I'll be a January start, scuba diving, Caribbean medical student, I will try VERY hard to not rip off Carsten's excellent blog. Hopefully, I won't get the hurricane in the middle of schooling like he did.

So, currently?

I'm in California working as an editor. I'll be driving to North Carolina to say my final goodbyes to family and friends, live there for a few weeks, and then fly down to Grenada to start med school. I'm taking my parents, because I love them so much (and they make excellent pack mules when dealing with spartan luggage requirements), so happy vacation, mom and dad! Remember, you can ONLY TAKE A BATHING SUIT AND A PAIR OF SHORTS. THE REST OF YOUR LUGGAGE SPACE BELONGS TO MEEEEE!!!!!

Not that the remote few reading this care about all that.

Application process. Getting into an American medical school when you're a California resident is slightly easier than coming up with a unified field theory. When I applied through AMCAS, my stats were:

Degree: Anthropology, graduated with high honors. GPA: 3.54, weak in chemistry, lowest grades on my transcripts were C's. Went to UCDavis. (Go Aggies!)

Took the MCAT twice because I am a complete and total idiot. First time: VR:12 BS: 10 PS: 7 WS: O. Total: 29O. Second time: VR: 11; BS: 8 (damn damn damn damn); PS: 8 WS: T. Total: 27T. Hey, but I took that writing sample to the top score! I could be an English teacher!

Extracurriculars were decent. I had some hospital volunteer work, but did a lot of research down in the Donated Body Program, which allowed me ample opportunity to prepare, dissect, drain, and oversee the medical school cadavers, so my anatomical background kicks some ass. I'm expecting biochem to kick mine.

So seems decent enough... ha... Didn't get a single secondary from a public school, kids. Not a one. My darling alma mater just sent me the rejection via EMAIL. "Dear applicant; whoa, dude, got your application, lol, and who do you think u r kidding. :( " or some equivalent.

I thought through all the classic cheats like pretending getting a biology masters would make a difference. Talked to a practicing CA doc who graduated from Berkeley with highest honors and couldn't get in, so she went to SGU.

For those wondering, SGU (St. George's University) is a highly regarded, extraordinarily expensive way to get your medical degree if you don't mind a couple years in the Caribbean (Grenada and St. Vincent), nor going into so much debt it makes your teeth itch. They are one of four schools in the Carib (others are Ross, AUC, and SABA) where you can get licensing in all 50 states. Yes, SGU is also the med school they had to evacuate during the Reagan years. Quit asking.

For info about the school, the forum in ValueMD proved extremely valuable and answers all questions you might have. There are some other blogs that provide a nice overview into life in Grenada, though everyone's experience is different.

Anyway, I applied around April or so for the August class. I got an interview in San Jose (I'm in Sacramento) fairly quickly, and then paced around my apartment for 8 weeks ripping out my hair. Got on the waitlist for August with a promise of January admittance if I didn't get in. I opted out of the August waitlist for guaranteed January, because otherwise you risk finding out you're going to the Carib with a week's notice or less. No thanks.

For what you'd expect, SGU maintains a pretty high status in incoming students. Average GPA and MCAT are posted on the official website. They also may accept students that didn't get directly into a medical school spot into a Master's program or Foundations of Medicine program with provisional acceptance into the medical program after completion. They also seem to be starting up a med program in England that mirrors the curriculum of the basic sciences on Grenada, but I know next to nothing about it.

After getting in, you have a mandatory 1000$ deposit to hold your spot sent well in advance (depending on when you got in). There is a second 5000$ deposit that, if you're getting loans, can be postponed to be taken out of them, but call your financial aid counselor.

So now, I've turned in my forms (except the health one) and I'm just waiting around trying to stockpile some cash. I'm working on getting my loans. Unless mommy and daddy are independently wealthy, you will need loans to go to this school, which, after 4 years, tends to leave you a quarter million dollars in the hole. Better hope you stay in. Federal loans will only cover 18,500$ a year, so you will need private loans to fill in the rest. Start fixing that credit now.

Ta