Feb 29, 2008

NOW she tells me

"Of course, at this stage I'm not going to ask you to classify the divisions, phyla, classes, or species of these bacteria, fungi, and viruses. You need to know things like 'the bacteria are prokaryotes'."

Surrounded by about 350 flashcards, I think "great".

Call it biology major syndrome (even though I was a physical anthropology major, it's the same principle but with more monkeys). I figure, since I've known bacteria were prokaryotes for so long I don't remember when I first learned it, NATURALLY I thought she wants me to spot memorize a thousand different illustrative examples of bacteria.

Given that, I do hope it stays this way, and I hope path follows. "What's this slide?" "Uh, broken kidney?" "Very good!"

Feb 28, 2008

Goooo Carib Cats!

And by Carib Cats, I mean us, not the catamaran of the same name.

We hit up the weekly trivia night at Prickly Bay Marina on Tuesday, were joined by two Scotsmen who nicely filled out our knowledge gaps (a "dray" is a squirrel's home???), and took home the gold! And by "Gold", I mean a bottle of rum and four cokes to split between 6 people, making the rum to coke ratio quite high for a school night. Glurgh. We got the name after the first ten quiz questions were on cats, and "Toxoplasmosis" (any parasitologists in the house who get that reference?) was rejected by the "geek" principle, so we went with "We're drinking Carib and these are cat questions. Carib Cats."

We also got the unique honor of writing the quiz questions this Tuesday. What horrendous impending start to pathology looming over me for Monday?

Speaking of fourth term, we've started microbiology, with Pathology (the 13 unit monster) starting on Monday. So far, I like microbiology, because my biology oriented heart goes pitter pat and I already inexplicably know a lot about bacterial wall structure.

But I'm paranoid. Fourth term is supposed to be by and large, by a runaway, the worst term in medical school, probably including rotations, and is notorious for taking away your time to socialize, sleep, eat, exercise, cry into your pillow, or use the bathroom. So I'm using this week of two lectures of micro a day and a single Friday lab to wave bye bye to Grenada as I know it, and say hello to making my family and friends think that I'm dead. See you in June!

Feb 25, 2008

On! On!

And in other news, third term grades are in, and my half-lidded truancy and steady diet of Old El Paso tortilla pizzas has paid off! Woo hoo! I suspect fourth term will not be so kind.

I've done a hash! And not the illegal kind! A hash is a sort of fun-walk/jog/run/hike that here seems to be somewhere between 4-6 miles long, and involves a lot of yelling (Are you? On! On!), and a lot of beer. I have an official "Certificate of Loss of Virginity", which I'm tempted to frame as a substitute for my degree to instill that extra vote of confidence in my patients.

For those quick to judge, all this was AFTER hiking pretty strenuous trails for five miles and sprinting through a gamut of non-virgin hashers coating us in beer. This also meant I smelled like a three-day dead hobo. Perfect for getting back onto the bus with others who were similarly qualified, or as the certificate put it "exhausted, sweaty, and smelling like a ram goat".

Oddly enough, this certificate was awarded by the head of the library, who turns out to be incredibly awesome AND a seasoned hasher. I am humbled.

Not knowing there was a bus directly to the hash, I decided to make things more difficult for myself by attempting to "meet up" on the Carenage down in St. George's, not finding anyone, wandering around sufficiently to further my face burn (by the way, THREE cruise ships in port? Good lord!), and finally just saying "Balthazar?" to people at the bus terminal until someone stuffed me, and I do mean STUFFED me, into a van.

Probably made it in record time though. The reggae bus driver was burning off the tires on the turns.

But got there without a problem in time to watch the SGU buses pull up. Sigh. Incidentally, *they're* free.

I'm completely new to the hash, though I've read up on it a bit. Here's the website for the Grenada Hash House Harriers.

If I could recommend nothing else, if you have one of those camelback integrated water systems, by all means take it. If you're slow, take a flashlight. They do them at 4 PM, I believe to intensify the penalty for lollygagging by having you blunder through the rainforest at night looking desperately for shredded bits of paper to mark the trail. Fortunately, I was hiking towards the front! Which is a first!

The hash:

The beginning, with us having no idea what's about to be in store for us.

Suggestions for not dying (standing on a 2X4 on a barrel not being one of them) as given by our excellent hare (the hounds chase the trail the "hare" leaves), the one, the only, River Rat!

And speaking of rivers:

We were periodically crossing the Balthazar River, usually only mid-thigh deep (though I got to clean my running shoes), but in a couple people's cases, mid-head. Having fifty some-odd people try and hurry across slippery rocks in a river is pretty interesting.

These seem pretty (and were) until you realize how much slippery uphill river crossing, mud grappling you have to do to GET to these views, and it was far prettier in person.

If only they'd had rotis... the hash would have ended right there...

The hashers seemed to be the event of the month to some local kids, one of whom was amusing himself by making an *incredibly* convincing impression of a doberman growling and then jumping out with an equally convincing bark. I'm not even afraid of dogs, and this circa 6 year old made me jump about five feet.

These kids said "take our picture!" "Take our picture!"

If you ever want to be ambassador to the children of another country, own a digital camera. That is hours of entertainment right there, and netted me the following picture when I was in the Philippines:

And the more shots you take, the better they get, since the more they see the pictures of them, the rowdier they get. I'm sure their parents just love it.


Mmmm... chocolate...

Some pictures from the hash aren't present because the trail got nasty (and wet) enough that my camera was half-safely tucked into a plastic bag tucked into my bathing suit top, and I was *still* worried about falling in the river and destroying it.

So we made it to the sweet sweet end of the trail, where beer and goodies are typically served at whichever bar they've crashed. We did our initiation, climbed into the SGU bus reeking of beer, Grenada, and our natural juices, and someone said "we want ice cream".

For the most part, SGU buses, even special events ones, have a certain hypothetical course that they tend to follow without side trips. Reggae buses, not so much. This was not one of those buses. So we were off to St. George's, to the strangest little local ice cream/bar we could find. Went in, ordered beer and ice cream (mmm nutmeg), and somehow, someone whipped out from behind the counter these Rossi wine jugs that someone had made rum in, and had filled said rum with things like nutmeg, sticks, bay leaves, and... we'll just get to the "and" in a minute.

Being already a bit inebriated from the beer and with a free one in hand, it struck me that it would be a good idea to try a shot from the nutmeg infused one figuring I like nutmeg and I like rum, and the best rum is usually served out of a bulk wine jug at a bar where even the locals won't touch the stuff you're drinking, so what the hell, right?

OMG, I think I now know what antifreeze tastes like. Though it's supposed to be sweet. I used to think tequila and whiskey were bad but this was a complex feast of bad in the mouth that had staying power. Gods.

Then, the bartender/executioner whips out a jug that has the bottom full of Grenadian centipedes, or as Jay calls them "deathipedes" because they tend to be between 6 and 14 inches long, and yes, they're venomous. In said jug, there is a brownish pond scum looking murky liquid that smells a bit like scotch tape and gasoline.

Oh, you thought I was kidding?

Something to know about me is that as an idiot, a former anthropology major, someone who worked at a science museum, and someone who's been camping a lot, there is virtually nothing I won't eat or drink, and even that barrier is usually broken by alcohol (I can tell you exactly what squid eyes, mealworms, earwax flavored jelly bellies, and wood moths taste like, for instance).

This was not one of those times. I'm not TOUCHING that stuff. In fact, after a shot of the nutmeg moonshine and a shot of the bay leaf moonshine, I considered myself lucky to still have my eyesight.

Two of the manly men in our party were not similarly dissuaded, and swung back two shots of this vile muck to the sounds of gasps and groans as camera flashes (and regret) exploded in their faces.

Then came the process of getting one of the local patrons to try the stuff who had not witnessed the initial shot, so in a friendly game of "America vs Grenada", the only way the two guys could convince the third guy to take a shot of the worm venom was to do *another* shot of it with him.

The fact that the last time I saw these guys, they were still alive (though had inexplicably bought four baby chicks off a woman making oildown, or as they said "chickens, the ultimate impulse buy") is a testament to their characters. It's similarly impressive that the guy they were pitted against ran outside immediately after, I believe, to throw up. I had a similar urge just by watching the process.

Somehow, in a lack of timely oildown, we all ended up at the wine bar with 8-10 people and four chickens fifteen minutes before they stopped serving food(poor wine bar), to put panini on top of, in one guy's case, about five beers, two shots of regular rotgut moonshine, two shots of centipede moonshine, and a piece of uncooked callaloo (don't do that either, by the way) he'd eaten during the hash. Glurgh.

And then I "hashed" home. The bus was taking a while.

I think it's a testament to *my* character that I was able to drag my aching butt out of bed today to go to La Sagesse and sunset point. You know you've had a rough day when going to the beach the next day takes initiative, but it was well worth it:

And now, having lived it up for an entire weekend where I had absolutely *no* responsibilities, Monday starts the beginning of fourth term, thus the end of life as I know it. Ciao!

Feb 21, 2008

I've been operant conditioned!

I'd already been classically conditioned in that I salivate every time I hear a bell. Pavlov fans? No?

Okay, how about this Freud one? I was in small group on Tuesday and we'd finished discussing our actual case and went onto discussing a case brought up in class where a woman under a sedative had chirped up for breast implants to be added to her surgery schedule, which inexplicably was obeyed, bringing the question of who was at fault in the inevitable follow-up lawsuit, and one of our wittier group members chimed in with "Her id did it."

(crickets chirping)

Okay, forget you guys... the point of this particular entry is that one of our trickier behavioral science professors (Hi Dr. Y!) successfully operant conditioned me into getting up at 7 am to go to lecture, which is notable because at 7 am, I am usually resting up after spending the nighttime hours marauding for the blood of the innocent. In med school, this is naturally difficult to find.

Though it's probably what my apartment complex thinks is true. Due to my nocturnal tendencies, I have a black sheet taped over my window to prevent any hints of daylight from intruding on me while periodically transferring all my bedding between my sofa and bed depending on what mood my insomnia is in, both of which are habits that are a source of eternal confusion to my housekeeper. Combined with my occasional tendency to pace around the complex at night especially when it's raining, I think everyone here keeps a clove of garlic close at hand when I'm around. Unfortunately, I'm a vampire that's a fan of Italian food.

I think it also perplexes my housekeeper that since I never had a housekeeper before I came to Grenada, and the idea of someone else having to deal with my state of perpetual disarray seems unfair, so if she's unlucky enough to have to clean when I'm home, I'm nervously picking stuff up and moving stuff and apologizing for being a terrible person.

So essentially, she's protectively turned into a ninja. I venture out of the apartment to slink off to small group, whether it's the right day or the right time of day for her normal schedule, she throws up a smokescreen, uses mop to quarterstaff Bruce Lee action, and leaves no sign of her presence upon my return but a suspicious shine, clean dishes, and the scent of bleach.

But I was talking about lecture... and yes, it was pretty cool, and I was glad I went. Plus, apparently I managed to hold out for this long just to be back in time for... the sex lectures! Sweet. Though I missed the controversial pictures during the alcohol lectures yesterday... I'm just primarily hoping I'm not *in* any of them. The wine bar is a harsh mistress.

It was weird to be done with the primaries for 4 lectures by noon, so I kept thinking it was time to *start* studying, but I'd already seen 4 lectures. Live and uncut! Plus I got to chat with Dr. Y in the path lab for a while, which was awesome (and convinced me to do the hash on Saturday), and due to the uncharacteristic before-noon productivity, I could go out and see the eclipse tonight guilt-free, having cleared out my work for the day and leaving me a pretty manageable schedule for tomorrow, so I don't even feel nighttime panic over the exam Friday. Is this how normal day-people function? Of course, it's 3:24 am when I'm typing this, so I'm thinking I may need a few more shocks from the Skinner box before I learn to stop pressing the lever. It is depressing that rats learn faster than I do (though not surprising), but again, a solid testament to the power of a professor with a goal. Combined with the promise of free highlighters, this may be the most successful lecture attendance strategy since Dr. H's first term "Slideshow of complications of genital trauma" (also not one to miss, though one to skip breakfast for).

Oh, though L'il Grr? I'm calling *you* out. You cannot make relentless fun of me for six months for absenteeism and then sleep through ethics! That so does *not* constitute "going to lecture", and I will be teasing you unmercifully throughout the weekend.

Feb 19, 2008

Stop hiding and start living with... TEQUILA!

Also known for its kicking drumbeat. Tequila!

Though its social benefits don't work well for me, since I'm a rum/vodka/insanely girly drinks person, thus when I drink tequila, I tend to make that hideous tequila/whiskey face people make when they've consumed something similarly toxic... like rancid dog's milk, which doesn't make friends and influence people. Is there a similar effect for the nutmeg-infused pina coladas at Big Fish? Because those are *good*.

And no, not drinking, but the faux commercial was a fun diversion between lectures.

The other one was identification of "beaches of Grenada", which I am just pathetic at. I couldn't even identify Aquarium Beach despite collapsing on it after I sprained my ankle. I can do wrecks of Grenada though, including the original R(h)um Runner(RIP) so nautical partygoers, be advised -- THIS could happen to YOU:

I think there should be an additional category for alcohol abuse beyond hazardous situations when an eel swims through your wet bar. Might have been a helpful diagnostic criterion for the captain of the Valdez, come to think of it.

In other lecture news, I've been living in a cave thus didn't know I don't get to take the Hippocratic Oath when/if I graduate. Some might say the plus side of this is that I don't have to bail my profs out of financial difficulties as stated, but since according to the IRS, I make negative money, I think I'm exempt, and I think if Hippocrates had seen my last filing, he'd have agreed with me. The negative side is that if I don't get to swear to Apollo, what's the point in becoming a doctor?

Rut Roh...

I've been called out!

In my defense, I was up until 4:30 learning that caffeine isn't a drug of abuse or dependence according to the DSM-IV, *meaning* that I will be in lecture tomorrow, bright and early, 8 AM, having mainlined the dark black cheap British tea I love so dearly.

So... Bell Hall, right? I'll be good! Er... you wouldn't consider moving that lecture to midnight, wouldja? I am a behavioral science *machine* at midnight.

Feb 18, 2008

Pythagorean School of Medicine?

"I don't know what the patient's problem is, but I suspect it has something to do with triangles."

I'm also too jaded to not be a doctor yet. When watching the ethics lecture, the instructor asked "What authority would you consult for moral guidance?" and my first answer was "My lawyer."

Feb 17, 2008

Da seaweed is always bluer

When your hotshoe wiring comes unseated during your backroll into the water, so you have no external flash on your camera.

That may need some translation...

I went diving today! Wahoo! Which marked my second dive on the stunning, the beautiful, Bianca C, a cruise ship that sank into the 50s and is now sitting with its props around 150 feet (haven't been all the way down there) and its pool around 90 feet down. For those unfamiliar with the properties of light as you descend, colors start getting filtered out the deeper you go, with red taking off in a hurry.

Your brain can somewhat compensate for this so you'll think you saw colors that you didn't. Your camera, sadly, cannot, thus any color you get down around 100 feet other than blue is going to be due to the light you bring with you.

Since I'm an idiot and hadn't had my camera underwater for a while, I forgot that the seating to my hot shoe (which I wire to my external flash) is loose and will not stay in place if the camera is jarred at all (like by holding onto it and falling backwards off a boat) unless I have jammed a small piece of rubber into it. Sadly, I had not.

But we're just going to call this heavily photoshopped one "artsy" instead of "drained all the blue out of it and added aged newspaper effects, so it looks in some way, deliberate:

The nice thing about camera woes is that it means all the cool critters come out to play. So I tried to do the best with what I had, since I could use the camera's own flash to get some color back, though it does tend to cast weird shadows when I do that:

This guy stuck around for a while and even let a couple of us touch its shell! Anyone know what species it is? I can't tell turtles apart.

Spotted eagle ray sightings!!!!

Dive 2 was in Sponge Valley and I botched the ending of it. I was trying to get some pictures of an uncooperative little moray eel (which didn't turn out), when I realized I'd been hanging out for too long and turned back to see which way the group had gone.

Whoopsies. So I headed in the direction they'd been going for a little while, because since this is a boat dive, I had no idea where I was, and what was overhead, so hoped I could figure out where the divemaster was... until I got a bit low on air, so thought "dammit, I'm stupid; I'll go up" and heard an increasingly loud buzzing noise.

Ya know what sucks? Being low on air, knowing there's a boat over you *somewhere*, not knowing where, but knowing it's way bigger than YOUR boat, and additionally realizing that in your rush to leave the house, you left your surface marker at home so you can't even send it up as a signal to politely ask the unseen vessel to change course and not chop you to chum in its propellers.

Sigh. It's like an idiot sandwich. So I decided to chill out around 15 feet and burn the rest of my air and wait it out, since going out of air at 15 feet is not ideal but doable, but getting hit by a Carnival cruise ship pretty much only has one outcome.

Good decision too. Not thirty seconds after I'd decided to hang out, a LARGE Heineken catamaran passed directly over my head, twin props spinning (Heineken, what up? I thought we were friends!). So I surfaced sheepishly with a little air left, and our boat captain was polite enough to not make me pay the penance of swimming all the way over to the rest of the group and came over to pick me up. Didn't even get yelled at. Good people. Good dives.

Since I hadn't made enough stupid decisions for one day, I decided to lazily dry off in the sun, forgetting that sunburns don't show up instantly, so now I'm a bright flush shade of painful scarlet. On the plus side, my legs finally have some color.

So I had an incredibly fun day, despite my efforts to the contrary, and got to play with turtles and rays on a sunken wreck. This makes it so very much harder to pick back up and study like a good girl. It's also notable that though I haven't been to lecture since the first week of class, I hopped right out of bed at 7:15 to go diving. Priorities?

Feb 16, 2008

Adventures in Jurisprudence

When all else fails, use the "blame the dead guy" defense! I didn't kill the patient despite filling his IV line with chicken fat. The recently-dead doctor who wasn't even on call at the time did it. Can I go now?

Jurisprudence is the short course in how to not get sued. There's some pretty cool case studies, but most of it boils down to "As a doctor, try not to do anything mindblowingly stupid". Nice in that it implies testable material that isn't too difficult. Not nice in that the case studies demonstrate that you actually have to *tell* medical students NOT to twist around the head of a dying guy in front of his wife so that you can take pictures for research while aforementioned dying guy is expressly telling you to stop, otherwise, when they're surgeons, they're going to end up contributing to rising legal costs.

Gin fizz and sangria

Gotta keep the "trying something new" trend going. It generally involves EtOH since the wine bar is my favorite local hangout spot since the only think you usually get to try at parties are Carib because that's the only thing you have a chance of hell of getting in a timely fashion.

Plus, when you're not studying and there's not much to do, you don't need to drive because you have these little babies:

When full up with partygoers (though didn't go out to Old Skool tonight), they look like so:

Caribbean buses (including reggae buses) have pull down seats in the middle. This is nice to putting tons of people on a bus, particularly when you're on the way to a test and need the room, plus answers the question of "when bus crashes happen in other countries, how does it kill *that* many people?", but can not be so nice when you're trying to get back from the store and each person has a different stop, since it requires half emptying the bus every time someone needs to get up. But you get used to butts in face and bags in side.

The night was supposed to have the school-supplied entertainment/Behavioral Science video "Requiem for a Dream" (gods, I love third term), which had the distinction of being the only class movie this term I've made any effort to see because I've actually wanted to see that movie for about five years.

Unfortunately the AV people never showed, which not only left a lot of people wandering around Bell Hall wondering what happened, but sent me on a quest to the PD lab to see if we had the wrong venue, where the SO's were preparing for their showing of Ratatouille (presumably not associated with a class curriculum), which the AV people also didn't show for. No heroin date movies for the grown-ups, no problem, but no French-cuisine oriented rats for the kiddies? Harsh.

So that left an early night at the wine bar, which is always fun, though probably drinking sangria while watching Requiem for a Dream would be a better story. At least in my head.

But still, I've had a nice, if lazy week. Our final exam of third term is next Friday, so I suppose it's time to get my butt in gear for that.

Feb 12, 2008

A hard test in third term?

This was not in the manual! I was promised a steady coast from vacation to the brutal kill-you-with-sticks pace of fourth term.

We had our second behavioral science/epidemiology lecture today, featuring some fun throw-in neurotransmitter stuff that dusted a few of the cobwebs off neuro from last term. Apparently we're supposed to retain some of that stuff. Or at the very least, pay attention when it's presented again in behavioral. I can diagnose odd behavior though. I just can't, apparently, prescribe anything to fix it. Or, even if I could, I'd have prescribed the wrong thing. Unless Enzyte fixes schizophrenia. (This is Bob. Bob hears voices.) It wasn't an answer choice, but I thought about writing it in. Just to emphasize how miserable pharmacology is going to be for me.

I think the test was fair, but a bit long. A TON of people were left at the end, and many of the questions had a lot of reading to extract the useful information. Nice for the USMLE, I suppose, but when you have 15 questions and 10 minutes left, it's definitely not nice to see that three paragraph question that somewhere within contains three vital pieces of information.

It's like those old game shows on Nickelodeon where kids have to root through some variety of neon gunk to find the prize before the buzzer ran down.

Well, buzzer ran out with four questions to go, so hopefully the answers are "A, C, D, A" because those are the answers I randomly filled in. I could calculate the odds of those being the right answers, but determining probability could be construed as studying statistics, and since we're still in post "test is over" glow, I don't want to spoil the mood.

Feb 5, 2008

Inspirational quotes from lecture

"We probably won't find a gene that codes just for latex and rubber, or just for spiky things around the neck."

Damn! So much for genetic research making our lives better.

Feb 4, 2008

Read the book!

This part of third term's lectures are kind of coming across like those old Time-Life book collection ads. Are they getting commissions on the textbooks?

I'm not much for textbooks unless I don't understand a concept presented in lecture and notes. Some people are. When I'm confused, I heart the textbook, like in biochemistry, where I wanted the supplementary information (though all testable material was presented in lecture and notes), thus I made the Lippincott my bedside reading. A good example is the urea cycle. The urea cycle was covered 'sufficiently' (testably) in lecture. It helped me UNDERSTAND the lecture to go through the logistic stages of the urea cycle in the textbook. But saying "The urea cycle is important and testable... so read about it", seems insufficient. By giving the important information in lecture, it allows people that have a pretty good familiarity with the topic to be done with it and people that don't understand to have a base to expand on.

What I *don't* like is having professors attempt to coerce students into reading the textbooks by saying things like "This is testable material and it's really important, but I'm not going to really cover it in lecture, nor is it in your notes."

What priority does that then set between what is "important" in lecture and what is "important" in the book? Why is what's in the book less important than lecture but barely worth mentioning elsewhere? If we're being sent to the book just for the sake of being sent to the book (which is what it seems like, particularly since many of the lectures run a little short), then what's the purpose of lecture or notes? I really feel like they're doing this because it's been brought to their attention that many students haven't read the book in the past... and have done perfectly well. Relax, guys, it reflects well on your teaching style! If you can present the important material concisely and memorably sufficiently that half the students can get high marks on an exam without a text, that means you're a damn good lecturer. Embrace it.

ANYway, back to it.

Oh, edit to clarify: I actually like most of our professors this term, and they either seem nice, competent, or both. It's just that the 'read the book' thing is a pet peeve.

Feb 2, 2008

I'm going to Berlin!

Hey, why fly directly into a place when you can fly into a place that's in another country? I'm planning on using as many passport pages as possible!

So I booked my plane tickets to "Prague", meaning, I booked a plane ticket to Berlin and out of London, so I'll have three days to hang out in Berlin before taking the train to Prague, do the selective for three weeks, and then about two and a half weeks to make it to London.

Ooh, so excited!!! The booking of the tickets makes it finally seem real. I'm gonna study medicine in Prague, get clinical experience in Europe, and some pretty hefty vacation on top of that! Hardcore stuff, but from what I understand, I'm gonna need it after fourth term.

Third term is still going well, and I've been studying like crazy for it, since the psych section has gone into some neuro territory, so I want to make sure I stay on top of it. Tonight, I took a break to go to La Boulangerie with some friends and devour half a calzone. They're actually not bad, and when I need someplace that isn't as expensive as Banana's or De Big Fish and I want my food within an hour, I go there. Their pizza isn't bad, their calzones and pastas are actively good, I think, depending on what you order. Now... to partake in the tempura shrimp from the sushi place next door.

But back to the point, Europe!!!

It's bedtime now, so here's another random Grenada picture:

Mrs. Patel, in the flesh; the first termer's answer to 3 PM lecture-slump.

All right; all right, one more:

That's the walkway in upper campus, though this was before I left for the summer break.