Bad Year for a Focus

Lab report, research presentation, and an oral exam all in the next two days, I'm posting again anyway. Aren't you all special. :)

I thought I'd share a random little story:

So I have a Ford Focus. Not exactly a sports car, but it certainly gets the job done, and not too shabbily if I may say so myself. But apparently Madison has its own reservations about Foci.

About two months ago, I went out to my car to go... drive it somewhere I guess, and as I got closer to it I noticed that the driver side mirror had been broken. As in, broken the fuck off, hanging by a wire. After staring dumbly at it for a minute, I ended up repairing it with half a roll of duct tape and some tears. Not so bad, and it hung on for highway drives. So I figured, well, at least I got some bad karma out of the way and good luck should be on the horizon.

About two weeks ago, I went out to my car to change parking spots (goddamn 48-hr parking limit). This time, I noticed something else. My windshield was fucked. FUCKED. Like FUCK fucked. Spiderweb cracks made the passenger half nearly opaque. I called up a policeman whom had apparently already noticed the damage and begun filing a report. The theoretical story, according to him, went something like this: some drunk people got drunker, jumped on my car, danced on the hood (what a good cop, he even noted the pattern of one of the shoeprints), and kicked my windshield to death. Also, my tire was flat. Coincidence probably, because why not.

Holy shit, why is that picture so big?

I'm not sure whether my car is having a bad luck streak or is secretly suicidal, but hopefully this shit stops. I can't complain too much, really-- at least all the damage has happened while I was outside the car. I'd rather drunk people kick my windshield than a drunk driver fuck my whole car, and me inside of it.

Still though, come on. I better have a titload of good karma saved up.

Out of Retirement

Okay guys, I've been gone for forever now, but I'm going to get back to making some posts.

Pic unrelated, but a cool tattoo from

I've been waitlisted at University of Minnesota Medical School, and hopefully I get in because that's the last application I have that I really care about...

Little bit of venting: I can barely begin to explain how frustrated I am with medical school applications. So many applicants are very qualified people, but the system is so flawed it's ridiculous. Applying to medical school has become much more about self-marketing than real preparation; depending on the med school, an application reviewer will care only about 1) volunteer experience, 2) clinical volunteer experience, or 3) diversity (and I don't just mean personal ethnicity, but moreso work with diverse communities). These are all important things... but are they as important as they seem? Volunteer experience is rarely beneficial to the applicant as far as professional preparation goes (case in point: I spent a while shoveling goat shit for a self-sustaining farm in Milwaukee, which got me nothing but sore shoulders and application points). A "good" applicant spends hundreds of hours doing these useless tasks for free generally not because s/he cares about helping the needy, but rather because they have time on their hands and reply to the countless college emails offering these "opportunities". Clinical volunteer experience? Typically, the only thing a hospital will let you do is deliver packages to patients or man a desk somewhere. Although I'd love to get REAL clinic experience, I have little interest in being free labor for an institution that knows it's taking advantage of pre-med students looking to decorate a CV. Diversity? The most legitimate one for sure, but as a white male, I always have a lot of ground to catch up on here. And it's kind of difficult to convince a reviewer or interviewer that I'm not afraid of minorities.

A brief summary of my application: I've spent over two years doing clinical hepatitis research for patient studies of liver transplantation and immunosuppressive treatment. The summer before last I worked in a biochemical genetics lab to help diagnose metabolic disorders. Last summer I worked 50-60 hrs/week at the university of Cambridge studying parasitology and post-transcriptional gene regulation. For the past year and a half I've been working to design and organize a customized clinic to be built in an underserved sector of Rwanda (being underserved in Rwanda means you've got problems). As per the medical or scientific details of all these projects... I was asked nothing by any of my interviewers.

During one of the interviews, I was asked to present an ethical dilemma that I'd dealt with recently. I drew kind of a blank at first; ethical dilemmas don't exactly occur everyday. But I thought of something. I told her that there was a large rush of encouragement-- through AMSA, Kaplan, word of mouth-- that a competitive medical school applicant showed community service above all else to prove they were worthy of becoming doctors. I told her that I took a risk: I denied this pseudo-educational pre-med path and pursued one that would actually benefit me. I studied, took difficult and extra classes, completed two entirely separate majors, and focused on a few important and effective extracurricular groups rather than passing through one major, doing a bunch of educationally unrelated community service activities and joining every group on campus only to attend monthly meetings and pay dues. I abandoned the traditional "look, I'm going to be a good doctor, see?" idea and went through experiences that would prepare me for my future in medicine and in research.

She gave me a pretty strange look, and was admittedly surprised. She said the admissions board often wondered about the honesty of some applicants when they took the path I didn't. That leap of faith got me waitlisted. Otherwise maybe I would've been rejected... or, hell, maybe accepted. We'll see if they find me to be "good enough" yet.

I should say that I don't blame anyone who took the path I didn't; it's kind of what we're supposed to do. And besides that, there are plenty who took rigorously educational paths while still putting tons of time into community service. I am by no means an unbelievably amazing person compared to the pool of those accepted into good medical schools like this. But I hope my honesty and adhesion to principle is worth enough.

Boy, a whole post without any music videos or anything? Fuck that. Every Time I Die released a new album not to long ago and it's the tits. Take a look at this video, and another song posted below this. If you like some thrashing vocals with solid metal, you'll enjoy ETID.

Okay, one strike against them, I can't embed the first video. You can find it here.

"Morals are simply a matter of time,
And where you lay your head's a question of pride.
But when it's said and done you'll find in the light,
That privilege and wit make me misfortune's child.

And for the other song I like:

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