Thursday, July 31, 2008

Epic Fail

Today was a day of epic failures of most amusing variety.

This first part is actually not amusing at all. My youngest brother has been a pain lately. He has his driver's test in about 2.5 weeks and he's not ready at all. While he's the brightest amongst us brothers, he's also the laziest, most rebellious, and the one with the shortest temper. Not a good combination. Anyway, my dad was dragging him out to practice driving yesterday and apparently he almost got into a car accident twice. Holy crap brother!! He's also taking 2 math courses at a local university this summer. He's definitely smart enough to get a solid A with effort and an A- with some effort. My parents are pissed at him that he didn't do well on his last exam because he never studies at home. He spends most of his time at home either on the computer or napping.

You see, that's perhaps the worst combination in front of my parents. And when my parents get really mad, they seem to lose the ability to distinguish the differences between my brothers and I. So we get collectively punished and almost all equally. Though this is clearly my youngest brother's fault. My parents therefore went into "lock down" mode and are going to reinforce the stupid 11pm sleep curfew with vigor now (though I seem to have escaped it tonight) and they threatened to cut off the internet in our house. This cannot be allowed to pass. Thus I now need to go into "damage control" mode and prevent my brother's laziness and stupid selfishness. The internet belongs to all of us and I'll be damned if my brother further tempts the fury of our parents (because they don't bluff very often).

Now today I was cleaning my room for my cousin's imminent arrival. My room had become quite dusty in my absence while I was at the university. I changed the sheets and such, vacuumed, arranged things to make it looked presentable (and thus, untouchable), etc. And then to my great embarrassment and dismay, I noticed the wall at the head of my bed. Yes, on the wall were cum stains. I do remember instances in the near-distant past of having shot past my head that far, but I was surprised to see some of them reach as high as they did on the wall. In any case, I had to somehow minimize their appearance. Too bad the wall's white. A bit of scrubbing with a wet cloth and I thought I had gotten it. But no, upon the wall drying, they were still there. Maybe they were a bit fainter in appearance. Maybe. So, epic fail.

Now for the most epic fail moment of the day. My dad took my youngest brother to go practice driving. My other brother went to a friend's house to watch a movie. My mom, my cousin, and I went out for a walk. When we come back from our walk around the neighborhood, we find the inner door to our house locked because my cousin locked it as he was the last one to leave. A side note: this "inner door" is the door that leads from our house into the garage. We only close the garage and lock the side door, so the inner door doesn't really ever need to be locked. My cousin didn't know this and locked it anyway.

So my mom called my dad and they came back. But they didn't have the house key to unlock that door. They called my brother, who also didn't have the key on his key chain. So no one had the key. Months earlier my parents took the keys off their normal key chains and gave them to my grandparents who were staying for 2-3 months so they wouldn't get locked out. We never got around to putting the keys back onto their normal key chains with all the other keys.

Now were attempting to break into our own house. My brother tried to lockpick his way. He got two of the three tumblers but couldn't get the last one to unlock. My dad tried to pry the door open in a really kind of odd way. Then my brother took a ladder to a window that we knew was unlocked from the inside. We had issues with the screen. Our parents didn't want us to break the screen, so effectively preventing us from removing the screen and opening the window to get in. Back to my brother lockpicking. And then me trying to pry open the door. Then my dad just used a tool to force the lock to break by turning the doorknob. And with that, the doorknob broke off and we were inside. About probably an hour after this whole ordeal started.

So yeah, that was the most epic fail moment of the day. My brother and I still think it would've been cooler to break in via the window, but whatever. I guess we can destroy a doorknob but not a window screen?

And now, I present to you an amazing picture I found on deviantART:
I found it at this link.

Also, I read up on this blog and have added it to my blog roll:


Head over and say hi!

Oh, almost forgot. I made a title banner pic! What do you guys think?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oh Frustrations

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. Sometimes technology just points and laughs at me, I'm convinced.

About a week ago, YouTube stopped working for me, as well as anything else that's streamed be it audio or video. I didn't think much about it at first. Could've been many things. Could've been a side-effect of my internet being slow for a while. Could've been due to a buggy issue with Firefox 3 that I had just downloaded, or this nifty add-on that allows me to download YouTube vids to my laptop. But as one day became two, and two became three and four, I became more convinced that something was indeed amiss. Every time I'd try to stream anything, it'd run (without sound) for about 2 seconds then stop. Nothing I did seemed to work. And then my add-on stopped working. Well, I was talking to Hish about this and he suggested that I re-install Firefox 3. That I did yesterday, and guess what? It works again!!

Last night my mouse stopped working. It's been giving me the red blinking light of imminent death for a few days. Well, I open it up to take out the dead batteries only to find that one of the two AA batteries had leaked into my mouse! Where the battery acid contacted the surrounding area, a white crystalline powder formed. It also corroded the two metal plates on either end that touch the battery. I spent a good half an hour to an hour scraping out all the battery acid crystals (or whatever it was). My dad gave me a tool that his dad used in the dentist office. So I was using some weird dentist tool to scrape the solid thing from the tiny corners and edges. My grandpa might be turning around in his grave right now - I know my ears were shrieking at the metal on metal scrape. Anyway, in the end, I got the vast majority of it out. My mouse still works and I think the left-click button might be better. It's been twitchy for quite some time, as in it would think I double-clicked when really I only clicked once and held down the button. I guess I know why now.

Now, this next technological frustration I haven't yet resolved. A while ago I downloaded a pic from an email. Whenever pics or videos download from the internet, they download as 2 files: the actual file, and this other mysterious file. The "mystery file" only exists during the actual download process and merges into the actual file upon completion of the download, thus disappearing. Well, the pic downloaded and I could open the file. But I noticed that its mystery file didn't disappear. I deleted the pic and tried to delete its mystery file with it. All it would give me was something like, "Error in deleting: Cannot read from source or disk." Okay, I've seen that before, no big deal right? Well, I tried pretty much everything I knew or had on my laptop to delete the little fucker. I used 3 programs, I rebooted my laptop several times, I closed down program files one by one that I wasn't sure of (perhaps not the best idea). Nothing. I Google'd it to see if I could find an answer. I tried this MS Dos deletion thing, but failed at it because I don't know how to find things with MS Dos. So after being hell-bent on deleting this thing for over an hour this morning, I gave up. It won. Sigh.

Oh, I just found the email with the original pic in it. I re-downloaded the pic, hoping it'd replace and fix whatever went wrong. Well, that didn't seem to work. It still remained in 2 parts. Grrr. I can delete one file or the other, but not both. It looks like I may need to enlist the help of someone who's more computer savvy than I am for this. And this is why I would never be a computer science major, or most engineering majors.

Now lastly, my cousin from Chicago is coming to visit us tomorrow. He's going into his senior year of high school. I feel bad for him for coming. You see, the real reason he's coming to visit is so that my brothers and I can "help" him improve his SAT and ACT scores before he takes them. Honestly, he does suck. He's around national average right now. Funny thing is that my brothers and I didn't used to even like him. When he was younger, he was really ADHD and had quite a temper - he was rather violent sometimes. Now he's mellowed out a lot and is actually rather pleasant to be around, though a bit too quiet. So yeah, he's coming here basically for SAT/ACT boot camp. I hope he doesn't become an academic vegetable when we're done with him . . .

What also sucks is that I twisted my right ankle a bit yesterday. So while I could have ran earlier this morning, I don't think it would've been the best of ideas. I predict soreness and inflammation later if I were to do that. But perhaps I'm jumping to excuses too readily. Running alone is so boring!! Also, when my cousin comes, he'll be sleeping in my room. Which means I'll be displaced to my brother's room because he has a larger bed. Which also means masturbating will be difficult, if not nigh-impossible. 2 weeks of no relief . . . I don't know if I'm going to survive. To be sure, I'm going to work my cousin for this, and I'm going to bring him closer to the Asian standard.

Oh, apparently I failed to realize July 14th was my blogoversary. It turned 1 year old!! XD

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Uncomfortable Parent Questions

Today I went on a walk with my mom alone. When I go on a walk with her alone she sometimes asks me uncomfortable questions. Things that I tend to go, "Umm," "Uh huh," "Yeah," etc, about.

My mom asked me how RZ-F was doing. Okay, seriously, my mom only met her twice in person. Other than that, she knows her as a set of academic stats and as a Chinese girl my age. Clearly, the logical leap is evident: RZ-F should be my girlfriend! So my mom keeps asking me, "Does RZ-F have a boyfriend? Do you have a girlfriend? Are any girls interested in you? You should be RZ-F's boyfriend, maybe you guys'll get married! Do you still talk to her? Does she still talk to you?" How does one answer these questions? Even if I were 100% straight I'd feel incredibly awkward in this situation. It's so annoying and frustrating a situation to be in. Also, it is like a slap in the face because it does remind me that I had/have feelings for RZ-F and I blew my chances. It's like scratching a scab to resurface a wound that has almost - but not quite - healed.

Then my mom goes on the marriage tangent. About how I should marry a Chinese girl, if at all possible. How I should get married soon after I finish med school. How I should have 2 kids before I'm like 35. Oh, and how it'd be great if they lived with me and my wife after we got married, so they could take care of my kids and cook and such. Honestly, no thanks. At least not until we're settled and living parents-free for 5 years at least. I don't need them to nag me for my entire life. Again I just go, "Uh huh," "Yeah," "Sure," and "Okay." This is NOT a conversation I really want to be having with my parents right now, if ever.

Okay, granted I do want to get married. I do want to have 2 kids by the time I'm 35. But I don't need my parents (my mom) chiming in about these things every other time I'm alone with them (her). I have too many things to do and think about right now. Every time they say things like this, it takes me away from the center of my person, it almost makes me doubt who (and what) I am. I don't need that right now. I'm confused enough as is about myself, and it's damn hard work to keep together the pieces of me I know are immutable.

And here's the last straw, the one point that makes me really not want to be at home right now. Every night, without fail, if my brothers or I stay up past 12:30am, our parents yell at us to sleep until we turn off all the lights and go to our rooms. Seriously, I'm 22. I think I can set my own bed-time. I don't even go out (as if there's anywhere to go in this town, grrr). It's not even worth getting into an argument about this with my parents. I don't like to get into arguments. I'll sit there taking it quietly, waiting for it to pass patiently.

Sigh. These are the kind of things that remind my why I would feel terribly uncomfortable/guilty if I came out to them.

Some new blogs I've come across!

Life of a gay/bi boy
The real ugly duckling

Added them to my blog roll. Worth a read. Others I still need to get through and get up-to-speed. I'll get through them . . . eventually.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Okay, Three Things

Alright, this post may not be entirely coherent, but whatever. There are three things I wish to touch on.
1. Wang Leehom's sexuality

As a refresher, here's a couple pics to remind you who he is (as if you need it, but it's here anyway):
My friend RZ-F sent me an email today telling me she found out he was gay and was deeply saddened by that. When I asked her later online, she said she has a friend who is a friend of Wang Leehom's agent. And his agent says he's gay or something to that effect. And people know Wang Leehom's boyfriend, apparently. Now, as much as a part of me (and any non-straight male fan of his) wishes this is all true, I find it a little hard to believe.

I give you exhibit A:
Granted, it's possible that this is all for publicity so the public views him as straight. Also, I remember reading an incident where a guy claimed to have homosexual relations with Wang Leehom, and Leehom openly denied and called it "Bullshit." But Wang Leehom is very private about his personal life, much to the chagrin of nosy journalists. While what I say next doesn't mean much, but he doesn't strike me as "being gay." He doesn't seem to fit any part of that stereotype - and again, we all know that statement there doesn't actually mean much. Now to those who say, "Oh he's a music major, it makes sense he's gay," I say, "Wrong!" Take exhibit B, my roommate, AW-M. He's a music major and is now engaged. His relationship with his fiance is . . . interesting. She has control over him like a master over a slave, I kid you not. It's kind of wrong to be so pussy-whipped, as they say.

Okay, I'm going to stop spreading this rumor that I frankly find a little hard to believe (though, wouldn't mind fantasizing about). I just have to get this out of my system after my friend told me.
2. Mom's car accident and the ER

Earlier today my mom got into a car accident. Don't worry, she's fine. She stopped at a red light and a pickup truck rear-ended her. What kind of douche bag rear-ends at a red light in the middle of the afternoon?! The rear bumper has a rather large dent and a big crack, but the car is otherwise fine.

Now, the real issue here is that from the time my mom entered the ER, got the scans, got the results, and left, she had been there for 6 hours. The vast majority of those 6 hours were spent waiting in the ER. 6 hours?! Seriously?! It takes 6 hours for someone to get 2 X-rays and a CAT scan? For all we know, my mom could've had suffered a complication from a concussion during the waiting time. For all we know, the crash could've injured a major artery that could've bled into her brain during the waiting time. 6 hours for this is unexcusable. Seriously US health care, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER BEFORE I FINISH MEDICAL SCHOOL. Who knows what could've happened in those 6 hours! Thankfully everything turned out okay and all the tests showed nothing wrong.

My mom did also remark that every person she saw - nurses, technicians, doctors - were all women. She was surprised that there wasn't one male technician running the machines or a male doctor. Well, women do make up about 60% of medical school graduates now. And the vast majority of nurses are still female.

Which leads me to my last issue . . .
3. Academic gender disparities

About a week ago I was talking to my old roommate DvF-M about women in science. Now I must first say he's a math and physics double major, so he's clearly intelligent. However, he's also Republican and voted for Bush twice. And he once said that the biology field never gave society anything useful. I'll never forgive him for that. My friend JR-M refers to this as smart-stupid.

Anyway, he believes that there are inherent biological differences between men and women that may make men better at the "hard sciences" (i.e. physics, math, engineering - he discounts biology and chemistry for some reason) than women. There is also upbringing and culture. I pointed out how girls are doing better than boys pretty much throughout school. How women make up the majority of undergraduate degrees. How women make up about 60% of biology majors and almost as many chemistry majors. And also how women are beginning to increase their numbers in physics and engineering.

I think it's just a matter of time before women take over most (if not all) of the major professions. In my opinion (and the opinion of great many female scientists and professionals), the one thing keeping women out of science is the thing called pregnancy and childbirth - having a child can pretty much end one's career. In any case, women make up 60% of the graduating med school classes now, if not more. My roommate countered that doctors, in a way, are more "humanities" and hardly use science on a day-to-day basis. I'll let this slide . . .

And today I read an article that basically said girls are just as good as boys at math throughout school. The prevailing culture had simply made it hard for girls to want to go into science and math because it was perceived as a "man's realm." My roommate would contest this probably, but whatever. Point is, where academics is concerned, girls are equal to boys at pretty much everything, if not better at some.

Sometimes I wonder if soon it'll be us guys who need more help in school. I mean, genetically women do have some protection against many forms of mental retardation . . .
Well, that's all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Source

I seem to have this influence, this aura, about me. I don't know what it is, or what I do for it to express itself, only that it does. I seem to exert this . . . almost calming influence over some of the people I reach out to. It's almost like the voice of reason. But I want to know, what is the source of this? First some examples.

If my brother found out about this he'll ninja his way into my room and kill me in my sleep. Anyway, about 2 years ago my youngest brother began cutting himself, on his arms and legs. He did this for a few months before my parents found out. It was winter, so he had every excuse to wear long sleeves and pants, which did a great job hiding all this. In addition, he preferred to wear long sleeves and jeans anyway. But find out my parents did. See, in my brother's room, he had this blanket. And he would wipe his blood on it, so it looked like little patches of dried blood all over it throughout the course of the months.

My mom went to his room to gather blankets and such to do laundry, and she found the bloody blanket. She confronted my brother and found out he had been cutting his arms and legs. Understandably, she freaked and she called me while I was still at the university. I saw the blanket myself when I came back for winter break. My parents took my brother to a psychologist but couldn't afford more than 3-4 months of therapy or whatnot. My brother had been using scissors and string to cut himself by rubbing these against his skin over and over again until the burn became a wound. And he would pick at the scabs to keep them fresh.

By the time summer vacation rolled around, my parents disclosed to me in secret to find out why my brother was doing this and help him stop. Like I knew the answer. As my parents say, my brothers will listen to me in ways they'll never listen to them. I didn't really openly confront my brother about this. I asked him about it but I knew he probably didn't know the answer - how many really know WHY they cut themselves? So no adequate answer was given.

Yet, in the months I had been home, he seemed to have gotten better. I don't know what it was. He had been sluggish and tired for months, taking really long naps and sleeping way too late for a kid in high school. Then gradually he seemed to regain some of his strength and he stopped cutting. My parents think it was because of me, of something I did or said to him. What that was, I don't know.

I have my guesses. Perhaps I connected with him subconsciously in a way that never of us realized. Perhaps he was sick of being compared to me, because as the oldest I am "the example" that they must either meet or surpass. Perhaps he was lonely after I went to the university as I had been present in his life from the day he was born (obviously). Whatever it was, something about my presence helped. Maybe I was there to ask him to play video games with me, to run with me (which he almost always refused), to just sit around and do nothing but watch TV. Whatever it was, it seems to have worked.

It's not just my brother though, but my cousins as well. My cousin in Chicago, who'll be going into 11th grade in the fall, is coming to visit us for about 2-3 weeks. My parents already paid for his train ticket. However, it's not for fun. While he's here, I'm supposed to get him to do the SAT and ACT and improve his scores. It'll be like a standardized test boot camp of sorts. I feel bad for him. But while I was in Chicago, I was able to get him to work on it, he did listen to me (although he forgot what I taught him just as quick). A few days ago my uncle was complaining how he stopped doing the tests, and wanted me to email him to motivate him again. It seems I'm the only one who can get him to settle down and work on these standardized exams?

My little cousin in California loves me. I think he loves me more than any other relative. Whenever I visit, he would always want to play with me, spend every moment with me. He would drag me around by the hand to do things with him. I gave him attention, I played with him. When he was only a toddler, I fed him for like 3 days. After that he didn't want his mom to feed him anymore, only me. I remember him falling asleep on my stomach, or waking up really early to come wake me up. He would not leave me alone, but I didn't mind much. I love little kids.

And about 6 years ago I was a counselor for a day camp thing that ran for 2 weeks. My group of kids really liked me. They liked my friend, who was my counselor partner, somewhat less. And my friend would always ask me, "Why aren't you tired?" I don't know why, I just couldn't stop. In any case, I could get them to behave. And they liked asking me questions without much inhibition. I even got along with "the trouble kid" and somehow got him to interact better with the other kids.

Amongst my friends, I'm often the secret-keeper - the one they tell some secret and then swear to secrecy. My friends are also surprised when I perceive something, as if they forget that fact for some reason. I guess I am good at detecting others' moods, even if I don't always overtly show it. If I ask just the right way, I can get almost any of my friends to open up to me and tell me their problems. I'm also patient enough to not force the issue.

But why though. Is it because I listen well and ask the right questions? Because it's surely not because I give the best advice. Why would they trust me to their problems, and never inquire about my own? Why can't they see my own insecurities and issues? Do I mask it that well? Sometimes I'm like the patch-up, the one who's supposed to make things - if not better - at least understandable and bearable. I hear it from my parents all the time about my brothers and sometimes cousins, I hear it from friends sometimes as they tell me to help them figure out how to deal with each other.

In any case, I'd like to know the source of how I get people to open up around me. Perhaps it's because I don't generally withhold the good and the bad. Who knows, but I do know this: this influence/aura thing will become useful when I'm a doctor. In the mean time, where's the person who can draw out my issues out into the daylight?

Asian Hotties

. . . lol, did I just say that?

Anyway, David from Some things about me asked me whether or not I like any "hot Asian hotties" as he put it. And you know, perhaps this is contrary, but I'm actually not attracted to the vast majority of Asian guys (different story for Asian women . . . perhaps another post). It's kind of like I don't find most of the guys I see at the gym attractive (don't hurt me). Regardless, with some random mindless internet surfing, I present the following Asian hotties:

Takeshi Kaneshiro
Wow, he speaks English, Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, Cantonese, and Japanese.

Angus Guo
I didn't even know his name was Angus. Actually, I didn't even know his Chinese name until today. I only knew him as one of the two cute twins of the Taiwanese band, 2moro.

Bobby Tang
Holy crap he has a hot body. More motivation for me . . . this won't last too long.

Wang Leehom
And how can I leave him out? Not the best pic of him on the web, but hey, he's playing one of my favorite Chinese instruments: the erhu (二胡). And again, he speaks English, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, and French. I think he also knows Japanese too. Oh, and he got a perfect score on his SAT and got accepted to Yale and Princeton. Wtf, why does he become more ultimate everytime I look him up? He was almost pre-med too, and most of his family are doctors.

Suddenly I feel my fluency in English and Mandarin Chinese to be inadequate. At least I can pretty much understand Cantonese fluently (if unable to speak it) and I know some Spanish . . . that slips from me little by little every day . . .

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Spoon is Too Big!

So I was washing the dishes, and I came across this fairly large spoon. And it brought back a random memory . . .

While I was still working in the lab, AG-F and I would usually eat in the break room right next to the lab. Sometimes other lab members brought in food, like cake and such. I didn't always have a spoon with me. At times, AG-F and I would scour the break room for plastic utensils. Now, this always seemed to happen whenever someone brings in cake or ice cream to the lab and puts it in the break room (can't actually have food in the lab, that'd be a hazard).

Here's what we've found in the break room before: a chopstick (note the singular), a serving spoon, a salad tosser, an ice cream scooper, and various knives (one was shaped like a mouse . . . our lab is so dorky, seeing as our lab uses mice as a model organism). At various times, we used almost all the above just to eat cake. I distinctly remember us using the large serving spoon on a few occasions. It always elicited a few laughs.

It always saddened AG-F and I to think that our lab is the "head lab" of the human genetics department and we couldn't invest in some plastic silverware, much less real silverware. And that's when I started taking a spoon with me to work, just in case (and also to eat my yogurt).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What Will The Future Bring?

Lately I've been thinking a lot. Right now, with med schools and their wait lists as they are, chances are I will have to spend that year doing my MPH. Which is okay. And now I'm starting to look for apartments and courses that I'll need to take, just in case. My parents offered to give me a $10,000 loan from them. Which, come on, why shouldn't I take? So I'll have to pay them back for that, no big deal (especially since they're not charging me interest or anything like that).

I've also been thinking what kind of doctor I would like to be. I might have mentioned this before, or I might not have. They say the first decision you make when choosing what kind of doctor you want to be is surgery/non-surgery. Well, I choose non-surgery for sure. I don't want that kind of pressure, I don't want to pay that insane malpractice insurance, and I prefer to see my patients when they're conscious, thanks. Most of all, I don't like the idea that a patient's life and death may potentially boil down to whether or not my hands shake or slips accidentally. That's some serious stress there.

Now, for the longest time, I actually wanted to be a pediatrician. I <3 kids and I'm really good at working with them. However, I hear being a pediatrician sucks now. They're barely a tick above your basic primary care physicians, so when insurance and other overhead costs are factored in, most pediatricians don't make much. And you have to deal with parents, which I've heard is the worst part of all. In my heart, I'd like to think none of this matters. But my mind tells me to be more realistic.

Then there's endocrinology. A very interesting and diverse field. You focus all over the body, unlike many other specialties. Like, cardiology is only on the heart, hematology is only on the blood, etc. But the endocrine glands are all over the freaking body, and each of them do completely different things. It's like a hodge-podge of things, as far as organ systems go. But again, I don't think I could only do endocrinology. Many of the patients are old, and past a certain age, most patients are just slowly dying . . . another reason why I'd like to do pediatrics.

But, I think I have an idea of what I may want to do. Pediatric endocrinology or adolescent medicine. I think I'd like to work with childhood obesity and diabetes. I feel like I can contribute a lot to this area. And growing up sucks as a teen sometimes, so I may be able to empathize there as well. I don't know. Perhaps as one who was once quite overweight and lost a lot of it, I could more effectively inspire overweight kids to lose weight healthily and steadily. Inspire them to eat healthier and such.

Who knows. I feel like I haven't articulated myself that well in this post, lol. It sounded so much more emotional and elegant in my head. Whatever. Who knows what the future will bring?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Teh Internets Are Fun!

First some quick updates on my life . . .

I accepted MCW's offer about a week ago. In mid-August I'll get one of two things from them. I'll either get an acceptance letter to this year's entering class, or I'll get an acceptance letter to next year's entering class. So for sure if I don't get into med school this year, I'm guaranteed next year. I guess I should start looking more at public health now, just in case, as well as apartments both here and in Milwaukee. Hmm . . .

My youngest brother is sometimes a meddler. He has this tendency to go through my things randomly. Hence I've become quite secretive, almost obsessively so. In any case, he found some of my old (gay) porn on an old computer the other day while I was still in Chicago. When he confronted me (jokingly), in my head I was like "Oh crap! Why's that still on there?!" I brushed it off as if I had no idea what he was talking about and that it shouldn't be there. I don't know if he bought that or if he suspects me of anything. He dropped the subject pretty much right afterwards.

So, regardless of whether or not I go to MCW in August or public health in September, it's going to be a new start. Why not lose 10-15 lbs? I have about a month to a month-and-a-half, shouldn't be hard, right?

I've added two more blogs to my blog roll:

DC Cised
A Popular Dude's Secret Life

Still plugging through some other blogs. I don't like to add blogs until I've read them through from the beginning to the most recent post.

And now, from the depths and extent of my current boredom, I bring you webcomics and lolcats from teh internets!

PHD Comics

Questionable Content

Lolcats, lol
more cat pictures

more cat pictures

more cat pictures

more cat pictures

more cat pictures

There needs to be an auto-size function for pictures. >.<

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Strange Homecoming

We finally went somewhere today! Granted it was only Chinatown and I've been there so many times before. The last few times I've went back I've always felt a little weird, almost a little out-of-place. Today was no different. The one thing I do appreciate about Chinatown is that I'm not consistently on the short side of average. Almost everyone there is either my height or shorter, haha.

And as I walk into all these stores by all these restaurants, I'm filled with the familiar smells of all my early childhood. The herbal medicines, the Asian vegetables, the fresh seafood, the fried and steamed foods, the meats, etc. I walked into this one store with my grandparents and I saw shelves and shelves of herbal stuff. Most of them I don't even recognize as edible, much less something I'd want to eat. I mean, who eats dried deer hooves?! What medicinal properties can that possibly have? While I do believe that in some Chinese herbal remedies there are thing of true medicinal value, lots of it are probably placebos at best, and a few will probably do some harm. In another store I saw snapping turtles, red-eared slider turtles, and a soft-shell flat turtle thing (don't remember what kind of turtle it actually was). And I'm like, "People eat these?!" It's always surprising what many Chinese people would eat. I have my limits. For example, I refuse to ever eat jellyfish. Had it once. It was terrible.

The real purpose of our visit to Chinatown was to have dim sum (点心 = dian2 xin1, in Mandarin) with my aunt's side of the family in Chicago. My aunt had to work and so was unable to join us. I've even been to this particular dim sum place several times before. Usually I love dim sum, but today I wasn't feeling particularly voracious (see tangent below for details). I ate almost one of everything though, and a few of a couple things. I didn't eat much. A lot of it was surprisingly greasy and salty, and that's a huge food turn-off to me now. I don't even use salt in my cooking, only some soy sauce which is salty enough on its own. Salty foods cause me to drink lots of fluid (I could tell you why, biologically, but that'd take a while). And so I drank lots of tea, haha. I'm not a tea connoisseur. I can taste the subtle difference between the different kinds of tea, but I'm unable to match the taste to a particular kind of tea - for example, jasmine green tea.

And again, I sit there in near-silence (mostly because I've nothing to add) as I listen to the family gossip. Invariably it turns to me and how I'll eventually be attending MCW in Milwaukee, which is just over an hour away. And my uncle proclaims hopefully how I'll come to visit him on long weekends to teach my cousin how to be a better student and all. I am NOT a magical cure-all to academic woes! I am also not his key into college. And someone would invariably proclaim how there's money to be made as a doctor. In my mind I kind of want to shout at them all the reasons that's not true, especially now. And invariably someone would notice how many long long years it'd take to become a doctor when undergrad, med school, and residency are all accounted for. Yes, I'll be at least 29 if not in my mid-30s by the time I'm done with residency. THEN I can really start paying back my $150,000+ of debt.

Interestingly, the conversation also turns to everyone's health. The oldest generation would proclaim how they're monitoring this or monitoring that, how they're watching their diet, how they exercise, how fit they are, how they're trying to regulate themselves from getting this chronic disease or that. Through all of this, I listen. I refrain from saying anything, though I know just as much - if not more - about what they're talking about. I was pre-med after all. This will be my realm. If they don't ask me, then I won't intervene. I've learned very recently that I can sometimes tend to meddle in others' health, and this is something I should control.

Mini-tangent: in one of my groups of friends I'm the "resident biologist" (not sure if I've blogged about this before). But I like being the only biology major in that group of friends, because when something biological comes up, they always defer to me. And even if I don't know the answer (and I admit it when I don't) I can at least give a decent hypothesis. I like being deferred to as the source of knowledge sometimes, haha. In my other group of friends we're almost all medical-leaning people. So things are more of a discussion rather than anyone deferring to anyone's "expertise."

Anyway, in the end, I think I see in some of their eyes how I've differed from all of them. I've "broken free" of Chinatown and the language barriers that still cause Chinese people to become clustered in and around it. I've the ability to ascend in the US labor hierarchy, or something, I don't know. It's almost painfully obvious now how well-off my parents are in comparison. I mean, none of my relatives known to me are dirt-poor or anything. But I hear of my uncle using food stamps, and my aunt's parents qualifying for food stamps and such. And I think, "Wow, and my parents were able to pay for all of my undergraduate education when I obtained almost no money from scholarships and such." It's remarkable. It's also remarkable that somehow I did grow up in that, in close quarters with extended family - a crowded apartment, that some somewhere along the line of my life I became somewhat separated from those roots.

What do they see of me now? Someone more American than Chinese? An ABC (American-born Chinese) for sure. Who knows. I listen to them speak the myriad of Chinese dialects/accents, and I'm still able to comprehend almost every word. And when I speak I become aware of how imperfect my Mandarin is, of how it's "contaminated" by all these regional sounds. Every now and then I find myself saying a word with an incorrect tone and instantly correcting because it felt weird. And sometimes, I'm not sure what the tones are because Mandarin and Cantonese use different tones a lot of times.

And so, coming back to Chinatown is something like a strange homecoming.

I actually wrote this part first but decided to shove it at the end as no one probably cares about my vanity issues. Now, let me indulge in my vanity for a moment. You can stop reading if you want. I won't blame you.

Anyway, perhaps I've been a bit hard on myself. Sometimes when I see myself in the mirror I think, "Well, I'm not that fat." Perhaps it's a matter of perspective, just like when you look down at your penis it looks smaller to you. All in all, I have come a long way from my heaviest weight. My legs aren't nearly as thick and flabby as they used to be, my arms are starting to show some visible muscle, a nice jawline is emerging. The only area that needs true work is my chest and stomach areas. Running will take care of the legs and overall fat, lifting weights will take care of the arms and back, but the chest and stomach areas have been rather stubborn.

If only I had inherited the "thin gene" that all other East Asians seem to have. Perhaps I got my defective copy from my dad. Both my brothers are like my mom and many of my relatives: thin. Now this may sound weird, but if my brothers actually worked out and built some muscle (they have like none), they could be hot. I think it's easier to go from thin to hot than from fat to hot. But the one advantage of being overweight first is that the muscles are already there (however un-toned) from carrying a heavy load for a long time. It just needs to be excavated from underneath the fat. In any case, I firmly believe that genetics only plays a partial role in all this, especially as we age. It sets a baseline and that baseline could be amazing or crappy. If the baseline is rather crappy - like in my case - it just means more work and monitoring.

I've developed a new "diet" in the last few weeks. You see, as long as I eat to not be hungry but at the same time not be full or near full, I seem to settle at a lower baseline weight. Smaller food portions, slower eating, stopping before I get fully satisfied, etc. It has a good psychological effect for me, actually. You see, if I eat a lot of anything I get sick of it really fast. So I would eat a lot of something I liked, then hate it for days, weeks, or even months to years before I'd eat it again. Plus I also feel a little sick (cue food coma and hurting full stomach) afterwards. So eating in strict moderation ensures that I can enjoy all foods. I'll stick to this for a few months and increase my exercising a little, or at least maintain some semblance of exercise, and see what happens.

So I see improvement. Long-term improvement, which comes about subtly and rather unnoticeably at first. I know things don't happen overnight, or even in a month or two. Interestingly, a lot of my pants are pretty loose on me now even with a belt. Many of my sweatshirts and T-shirts seem almost a bit too large on me and even my underwear's fitting better, lol. Now, at some point in the near-ish future I'll probably need a new (and hot) wardrobe. I should get sexier underwear too, haha. Too bad I don't know how to shop to dress or whatnot. Anyone offering any tips and pointers? :P

At least there's one gene I know I'll inherit and that's the gene that usually makes East Asians look younger than they actually are. My parents, uncles and aunts, and grandparents all look much better for their age than many Caucasian counterparts. The one thing I'm not sure about its genetic origin is the amount of my facial and body hair. My mom's side of the family is nigh-hairless aside from head hair (kind of weird). My dad's side isn't that hairy either. I'm by no means "hairy," but I'm pretty sure I have more than your average East Asian. For example, I can probably grow a full mustache and beard if I wanted, though it'd take many months. I actually find facial really hot on some guys. I've always wanted to try something with that on my own face, but I've been too lazy. Oh! I think the whole "happy trail" thing is exceedingly hot, haha. I have a small-ish happy trail, lol, though my brothers - or any of my male relatives who I've seen shirtless, however briefly - don't.

Well, that was perhaps the longest tangent ever, haha.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bored in Chicago

Actually, I'm currently in my uncle's house in a suburb just north of Chicago. I don't actually have the audacity to call Chicago itself boring - because it's not. This whole so-called week-long "trip to Chicago" with my grandparents have been mostly me accompanying my grandparents. I love my grandparents to death, but they move at the speed of slow (as do all elderly folk).

In any case, at this pace I'm beginning to suffer from ennui. All we do is walk around the area randomly. We don't go anywhere or do anything, and I don't have the means to go anywhere by myself. I would require a car to get me to the nearest train station at the very least. I'm also getting tired of the same rotation of Chinese foods too now. Ah well, the family gossip is somewhat interesting to listen to.

The first two days weren't so bad. The first day basically consisted of a 6+ hour train ride, which was actually kind of cool since I've never ridden on the Amtrak before. That consumed a large part of day 1. I also finished reading Xenocide on the train. This African-American woman talked to me briefly about it, as she read Ender's Game and the sequels and loved all of them. That was amusing.

Day 2 my aunt's family in Chicago came over for dinner. This was at the insistence of my grandparents, as they haven't seen them in many years. I don't know anyone on my aunt's side of the family, so they were all new faces (except for her parents, I've seen them before). Now, the interesting thing here is listening to all the shifting Chinese dialects/accents being spoken. Shifting from Mandarin to Cantonese to 2 small regional dialects/accents that I can't remember, but for some reason was able to understand. I'm rather impressed I was able to follow almost everything despite the dialects/accents. Clearly, my family is from diverse parts of China. I say dialects/accents, by the way, to distinguish for example the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese - almost 2 different languages sometimes - and Mandarin and a regional accent that sounds similar but ever so slightly off.

It's weird having my uncle and relatives praise me and my brothers, as they always do. Of all the people my generation in the family, my brothers and I are always at the top. We always get straight-A's, we're clearly college-bound (if not already there and we're doing well there too), and now I've graduated and got "accepted" into a med school. I am praised as the paragon of the family, and my uncle wants me to teach my cousin how to do well in school and get into college (his prospects right now are somewhat dubious). If only they knew about me being bi - or possibly gay, can't rule that out for sure right now. I don't know if they even are able to comprehend that concept, much less accept it. It's a weird dark secret I keep. So for the time being, I remain the paragon of the family . . . until my brother supersedes me, which I know he will.

Anyway, let's see what the next few days bring. Perhaps I'll meet up with my friend JL-M. I didn't really get a chance to see him after graduation.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Stars are Aligning

According to my parents, the stars seem to be aligning for me (I think they're still more than a bit crooked, but whatever). I think it's mostly coincidence.

My mom's like, "It'd be good for you to go to Chicago with your grandparents for a week, as you have nothing to do at home." Then I get my MCW offer right before I leave. The wife of the doctor I shadowed last May called my grandma and asked about me the day after I got that offer. And then news spread to all corners of my family within a day. Things sometimes tend to happen like this for me, when everything - good or bad - is clustered within the timespan of a few days. But again, I think this is all quite coincidental.

Now, I'll know the stars and planets have aligned for me when I get into med school for this coming fall, I somehow get a girl-/boyfriend, and I lose 20 lbs. All events not likely until probably at least September.

Didn't do much today, I wish people did more fireworks and such. Saw the movie Hancock with my brothers. It was good! I liked it and it was quite entertaining. Not what I'd call an artistic masterpiece or anything, but well worth watching. Movies I still want to watch (hopefully this summer): Wall-e, Wanted, Get Smart, and when it comes out, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (I don't care if it turns out to be lame, I still want to watch it).

I'll be in Chicago from July 5th until July 12th. Although I'll have my laptop with me - so I can contact the director of admissions at MCW about the details of his offer - I probably won't post until I get back. So until then, happy July 4th!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

An Offer I Can't Refuse?

Today was "begging day," aka the day I email the 3 med schools I'm wait listed at telling them I'm still interested in attending their med school in the fall. About 2 minutes after I sent my email to MCW I get a reply from their director of admissions.

All it said was basically "When you get a chance call me at your earliest convenience." This could've been either good or bad and I felt that rapid heart rate thing going. I hesitated for about 20 minutes. Then I called, only to get an admissions personnel who said he had stepped out for a moment and that he'd call me back. So another 10 minutes or so of waiting and then he called.

First he told me the current situation - that practically no one has dis-enrolled and there was no movement on the wait list. Sigh. Then he said he they're starting to move people off the wait list as it seems like they won't get to many of the applicants. But this doesn't affect me because I'm at the very top. Yay! And because I was an applicant they "didn't want to lose," he made me a special offer on the spot.

Basically, his offer was that if I didn't get in this year at MCW, he would automatically enroll me for the following year of 2009 as "delayed matriculation." I wouldn't have to submit another secondary (or primary, I think), and I wouldn't have to re-interview; I would just have to submit whatever I would have assuming I got accepted anyway and a form on the AMCAS website. My spot in the entering 2009 class would be guaranteed at MCW if I wasn't able to matriculate in 2008. One way or another, I got into medical school today.

I didn't see this offer coming, it was not among my predicted possibilities. I had been preparing myself mentally for weeks at the prospect of not getting in this year and doing my MPH for the next 2 years. This upsets everything. I had (very) briefly considered asking him to defer my "acceptance" another year so I could finish up my MPH; but then I'd be old, haha. Since this offer is literally an acceptance, and I had given MCW my letter of intent, this would mean that if I took the offer and if another med school offered me an acceptance this year, I would have to turn them down. It's okay, I'd rather go to MCW anyway of the 3 places I'm wait listed at. I had been looking at 1-year public health degrees or programs for about an hour. But now I think I might do something different in my year off if I don't get in this year.

Here's my "ideal" thought. I'd stay at my current university and get a full-time lab technician in either the biology department or the medical school. This would mean I'd have to look for housing soon I suppose. I could ask my PI for a letter of recommendation as her recommendation would almost secure me a position, provided that the position exists in the first place. Also, I'm sure several of my professors would be willing to help me out in finding such a job as well. So I'm not overly concerned. I would work basically from either September or October until end of June, then take the month of July off and enroll in August. During this year I might also consider taking 1-2 undergrad (or grad) courses a semester - courses I had wanted to take but wasn't able to before I graduated. This would also keep me continually studying at a slower/more relaxed pace, so I wouldn't "forget" how to study before going to med school. I could use that month of July to travel and such, which was what I had originally intended on doing this summer (that didn't pan out).

Other possibilities include, of course, finding a 1-year program or certification for public health somewhere. I could also stay at home with my parents and work. This way I could save a lot more money than if I worked elsewhere, but it'd also mean I'd be at home and I think I would go insane after 3 months. I could go to Milwaukee or even MCW and find a job there, so I'd already be there and pretty much set come time for med school. And lastly, I could work for a biotech company in California or something. That might be cool, but it'd be a hassle to move my things there and back.

Those are all the current possibilities in my head right now. Any suggestions or comments? Really, I think this is an offer I can't refuse. I have until the end of the day on July 15th to reply back to him with my decision.