Sunday, December 30, 2007

Behold the Champion

Yesterday, we toured downtown Providence and went to the Rhode Island School of Design's art gallery. That afternoon, we had some beers and food at the Trinity Brew Pub. Afterward, we quickly made our way back to the house to watch the Patriots close out their regular season. Around midnight, J3K and I made our way out to Captain Seaweeds, a tiny little dive bar near the house. They were closing up so we had a quick pint and went out in search of another pub.

A little while later, we ended up at what J3K and Sandy refer to as "Thanksgiving Bar." On a prior visit, some of the inebriated older customers invited them to Thanksgiving dinner served at the bar. Last night, the place was packed with a predominantly older African-American crowd. When we walked in at about 12:30, the place was hopping and everyone was well soused. We order a pint, sat back, and drank in everything that was happening around us. We talked for a while until a putrid odor drifted over to us and halted our conversation. At the end of the bar near the restroom, a couple of guys were grimacing at the growing stench. A moment later, a heavy-set guy exited the bathroom. Immediately, they began to give him grief.

"Damn, man, you'd better check your pants. There's something still in there," one suggested.

"You'd better Febreeze your ass," the other guy offered.

The fat guy responded, "I am the champion."

"Why'd you do that in a public toilet, man?," they asked.

"That's what it's there for!," the defecator responded.

As he walked by, the odor intensified. Our eyes watered; we tried not to breathe.

Just then, one of the bartenders walked in from having a cigarette outside. "What the hell is that smell?," he yelled. The place began clearing out.

We abandoned our nearly full beers and left for the safety and purity of the cold, night air.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dr. J3K's Graduation

While I'm at it, I tought I'd post videos from Dr. Jimmy Three Thousand's graduation. Much like our effort on Bandit Run 2005, this is a completely in-house project. I shot most of the video and did all of the editing. Enjoy!

Dr. J3K - Graduation Video, Part 1


Dr. J3K - Graduation Video, Part 2

Friday, December 28, 2007

Northbound

Later this afternoon, we're heading up to Providence, Rhode Island to visit our very own Dr. James Three Thousand and our dear friend, who happens to be dating him, Sandy. He just finished his first semester as a professor at the University of Rhode Island. She's completing a little extra coursework prior to starting medical school this fall.

Chances are good that we'll ride the wings of the dragon and do something juvenile and utterly stupid for people of our age.

Back at Home (Briefly)

A couple of nights ago, we returned from a very nice visit at my aunt and uncle's place. After my sister flew out on Saturday, we did nothing but eat a ton of really rich food, lounge around, and take in the spectacle that is The Villages.

On Christmas Eve, we tried to get together a proper Bocce Ball tournament. We were a little pressed for time to have a proper tourney but gave it our best shot. Evidently, when you retire, you get damned good at Bocce; nobody could beat my aunt and uncle.

I gave it my best shot but my aunt, in red, was unbeatable.

Dad and I managed to play 27 holes of golf on some executive courses near my aunt and uncle's place. On Christmas day, the golf is free. Pins are in the holes but the clubhouses are closed and the course marshalls are absent. It was a pretty nice gift. When you play earlier than the retirees, you have nobody on the course either before or after you. It was bliss.

My dad, owning the links.

So, we had a nice time, relaxed a great deal, and ate too much. It was, I suppose, your typical holiday with family.

You Know You're In a Retirement Community When...
My aunt and uncle gave us a very thorough golf-cart tour of The Villages. We saw everything from the rec centers where dancing, plays, and concerts occur to the town squares which host free nightly live music, retail and restaurant spaces, and a movie theater. My wife and I decided that we'd take a little time for ourselves and sneak off to a movie. We'd wanted to see "Into the Wild" and it was playing at the local theater. As strongly recommended to us, we presented our Villages Guest ID at the ticket window and received our discount. We grabbed popcorn and rushed into the small, sparsely populated theater. By about 30 years, we were the youngest folks there. At some points during the film, I thought we were in a Miracle Ear commercial with some really loud comments made about what was occurring on screen. The clincher happened after the movie...

As we're making our way out of the theater, we stop and chat with the ticket taker. He was an older gentleman who asked us what we thought of it. So, we spoke for a while about the movie and the book. After wishing him a good night, we made our way into the main lobby. We were right behind a much older couple who were walking in the same direction. Without warning, one of them -- we don't know which -- ripped a sustained, audible fart. Then, in a maneuver that reminded me of the Blue Angels breaking a tight formation, they split for the restrooms.

"Well," I said, "we know we're in a retirement community now, don't we?"

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Traffic & Regifting

On Saturday the 22nd, we made the drive to The Villages to meet my parents and sister at my aunt and uncle's place. What should've been around a six-hour drive turned into a stinking nightmarish traffic ordeal. Turns out that everybody decided to get on the road and head to Florida yesterday. We left Atlanta at about 10:00a.m. and didn't make it down here until about 6:00p.m., courtesy of the bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic that plagued us the entire way. The back-ups started north of Macon and didn't let up. Happy times, indeed.

Oh yeah, I peed in some of the most disgusting bathrooms that I've ever seen. Worse than in rural Guatemala or Mexico. Worse than remote Sri Lanka. My favorite was a filthy gas-station near Ocala, Florida with what was apparently an out-of-order urinal. Foregoing a sign, someone simply covered the entire thing in duct tape. Honestly, it looked like a nice piece of art...that road-weary travelers covered with their urine.

Wee Bear Awl
Anyone been to Cafe Risque? I'm assuming that with all of the advertising they do, their XXX cafe must be bustling. Honestly, every other billboard was flaunting their completely naked dancers, extolling how friendly they were to truckers, and welcoming couples. I imagine that it would be fine-dining at it's best with the added bonus of the classiest, most beautiful burlesque dancers that have been seen. Somehow, I think it might be more akin to a run-down Carl's Jr. with the stench of naked meth hookers. Sign me up!

Regifting At Its Best
My sister was in for a very short visit because she had to return to the Cayman Islands to work on Christmas. So, my parents gave us some gifts last night so that we could experience the holiday together. Honestly, it was the best set of gifts we've been given in a long time. Each of us got some of our favorite things from our childhood. Turns out they'd been in the attic and came upon a treasure trove of things from our childhood. So, they decided to regift them to us. They spoke with my wife's folks and got a bunch of her things too. Really, it was amazing. I got a bunch of books from my childhood including my personalized Christmas book, my favorite "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," an A-Team action figure of Sgt. Bosco "B.A." Baracus, and some old baseball cards.

The cover of my personalized story,
made even more personal by my work with crayons.



Pages from my "personalized computer book."
Click for a closer look and marvel at how much
computer technology has progressed.



In the land of Chewandswallow, food fell from the sky.


Because of this book, I frequently wished that
hamburgers and ketchup would tumble out of the heavens.
I prayed for it to rain orange juice like in the bottom-left picture.



Days before Christmas, I found this action figure
in mom's car but kept silent about it.
When I received it as a gift from Santa, I mourned the loss of the myth.
As the A-Team's Hannibal would say, "I love it when a plan comes together."



My sister got a bunch of her old books, some old photos that show her on a tropical island with multi-cultural friends, and her favorite cuddly stuffed cat. My wife scored big with the Barbie Country Camper complete with Barbie, Skipper, Ken (dressed in a full suede suit), and Lil' Ken. She also got her favorite kid's book: "Soda Pop."


Note Ken's suede-clad legs poking through the windshield.

Honestly, if you can, rediscover some of the gems from your childhood or hold onto your child's favorite things. It's a great way to get grounded and shuffle off some of the weight of being an adult.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas (Almost)

This morning, we're heading down to The Villages in Florida. We're meeting my parents and sister at my aunt and uncle's place to celebrate Christmas. So, we're gearing up for a nice little 6 hour drive this morning.

Our timers are set by the chimney with care in hopes that thieves soon will beware.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's Their Decision Now

On Wednesday, I returned from my interview at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon. The interview was Tuesday, the 11th. Afterwards, I caught up with an old counselor buddy of mine, hung out with him and his family, and spent the night at their place. In all, it was a pretty fun but tiring trip.

The Interviews
I arrived on campus at the School of Medicine at about 8:30 a.m. and met the eight other applicants in the interview group. Most were younger men and women who would be graduating in the spring. Some had worked for a couple of years but I was, by far, the oldest person in the room.

The Associate Dean gave us some of his time to allow us to ask questions and to explain the curriculum, the learning approach, the school's mission and so on. Essentially, Mercer's goal is to train physicians who will practice primary care in rural or other under-served areas of Georgia. The curriculum utilizes an approach that gets students used to a clinical approach very early in the school career. Students also begin interacting with patients much earlier than traditional schools.

Next, the Financial Aid lady scared the shit out of us all by telling us how much debt we'd incur. Hell, I'm not really comfortable with the debt I presently have. Put an exponent behind it and I'm even less comfortable. Par for the course, I suppose. According to a recent survey, 41% of recent med school graduates have an educational debt of $100,000 or greater. In some cases, $100K is getting off easy.

First Interview: The Older Male Pathologist
We chatted for a while in his office about my motivations to enter medicine, about running marathons, about the volatility of start-up software companies, and many other things. Generally, I felt things were going well. Honestly, it was less of an interview and more of a pleasant conversation with someone you've just met. I felt especially good when, in response to something I said, he stopped me, went to his desk, and returned with an unused ashtray that was a picture of Elvis and Nixon shaking hands. Paydirt, I thought.

This image could be the key to my admittance into med school.

Lunch Interview: 4th Year Med Students
I left campus and headed over to the hospital to meet some 4th year students for a tour and lunch. Although not publicized, these students are evaluating you based on their interaction with you. Seems like the younger kids didn't get this memo. You know, it was a lighter version of the tragic story where someone thinks an interview is over just because you're having lunch or drinks with the interviewer and cuts loose into some inappropriate stuff. Nothing that bad happened but I thought some of them seemed to act a little bit too loose.

Anyway, I had a nice time talking with all of the students and finding out more about their experiences and such. We talked about where they were doing their away rotations and where they were thinking of applying for residencies. Thanks to my dating history, I managed to find something in common with each of them. One guy was from Douglas, GA, home of a famous ex-girlfriend of mine. Another guy was from near Nashville, GA, home of an ex-girlfriend with whom I attended her senior prom in 1989 when I was a sophomore. Another guy was from Albany, GA and knew the father of a girl that I briefly dated in college. The Albany guy may be my undoing if he mentions my name to the girl's dad. I can't accurately describe how quickly I backpedaled from knowing her really well to simply being an acquaintance. Without going into too much detail, let's just say that my friend Jeff and I wrecked a perfectly civilized debutante society ball with our drunken antics. More on it here.

Second Interview: The Younger Female Pediatrician
After lunch, I met with another faculty member, a pediatrician. We talked for about an hour about a wide variety of things. She'd really done her homework with my application. Aside from me confusing the dates when I graduated college, everything went really smoothly. She finished the conversation with a description of how the selection process works and offered me some friendly advice of what to do in the event that I don't get accepted this year. She made sure to reiterate that she wasn't suggesting that I would be rejected but just wanted to address the possibility. She finished by confiding to me that she thought my application was great, that I'd made a great addition to the student body, and that she'd strongly recommend me to the committee. So, we'll see how it goes.

The Inner Workings
So, here's what happens now. Periodically, the 10 members of the admissions committee meets to discuss the applicants and rule on them. They meet either weekly or bi-weekly, I can't recall. Anywho, during the meetings the committee reviews the candidate's applications and considers evaluations of the candidates written by the interviewers. Then, the committee members work together to assign a score to each candidate. Candidates with the highest scores, I suppose, are offered admittance. Lower score candidates roll into a pool and are reconsidered at the next meeting. At any given meeting, however, the committee may decide to admit several candidates or none; they're not bound to any quota. So, this process continues until all seats for the incoming class have been filled. Typically, a class has 60 seats. This year, however, Mercer will fill a class of 110 to account for 50 seats that will matriculate at a new 4-year campus in Savannah. So, my odds are more favorable this year.

Good Just to Interview
It turns out that among all of the applicants, only about 800 were asked to completed secondary applications. Out of those 800, only about 200 were interviewed. So, I suppose that I should feel pretty good about making it this far.

Wish me luck.


The Albany Incident -- The Backstory
During my senior year of college, I briefly dated a Jewish woman from one of my Spanish classes. Apparently, her sister was joining a debutante society and was honored at the debutante society ball. I'm not sure, but she could've been one of the first Jewish members. In retrospect, it was very much a big deal. Turns out that one of my 4-H counselor friends, Jeff, was a close friend of this girl's family. He was in town for the weekend and would be going with us to the ball.
Mistake #1: Jeff meets me at her house. When he walks up, we notice that we are wearing identical suits. We have different ties but our suits are absolutely stinking identical. We find this hilarious.

Mistake #2: My date has to go take family photos with her parents and sister and the location of the ball. She suggests that Jeff and I hang out for a few hours until they're done. She drops us off at a bar. We proceed to drink several beers and multiple shots of Jagermeister. By the time they get us, we're pretty well hammered. We proceed to the ball to mingle with the upper crust of Albany society.

Mistake #3: After we drank a few bottles of champagne at the ball, my date suggests that we all get some food from the buffet. Jeff and I decide that using plates is a little too pedestrian. We take food with our hands and eat it on the spot while in line. At one point, my date recalls some of the gross-out antics that Jeff and I described from our tenure as camp counselors. She dares us to repeat them right then and there. Although the kids at camp loved to see us eat food out of each others' mouths, the stuffy folks at the debutante ball are not amused. Really, think of a mama bird feeding a chick. Now, imagine two drunken adult males in matching suits reenacting this type of feeding in civilized society. Fifteen minutes later, as we're claiming our coats, the coat-check girls ask Jeff how long he'd been gay after witnessing our antics.

We're not. Why do you ask?
The next morning, no shit, my date's family wouldn't even acknowledge me. Seriously, they didn't even speak to me. To this day, I don't even drive near Albany. Back.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Big Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, I interview with Mercer Medical School in Macon. If all goes well, they'll offer acceptance into their class of 2012 which begins next fall. That's right, read it again ... two thousand and twelve. What the hell am I thinking?

Anyway, tonight I'm holed up in some sub-par Residence Inn on the north side of Macon. Although it's a no-smoking hotel, cigarette smoke is permeating my room. Someone in a room either beside, above, or below me is puffing away. Seriously, it's starting to annoy me. I just might go down and get a different room.

Oh, after stressing about what to wear, I've decided on my blue wrestling mask and cheetah print briefs. Hell, I might dress it up with a bow tie. Personally, I think the tie might be just the look I need.

Tomorrow, I'll start at 8:30 on Mercer's campus. I'll meet with a couple of faculty members on the admissions committee and, later, will have lunch with some fourth year students. So, we'll see how it goes.

Wish me luck. Not that I've scheduled interviews with other schools but I almost feel like the first person who asks me to dance gets to take me home. Maybe tomorrow, I'll feel like the belle of the ball!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

On the Couch Watching Football (Yep, It's Thanksgiving Weekend)

So, we're two days removed from Thanksgiving and I still feel like I'll never get my pants buttoned again. Seriously, I'm like a walking Alka Seltzer ad ... maybe Pepto Bismol. The food was great but there was just too much of it. As a result, I've decided to adopt an eating disorder for the remainder of 2007.

Quick recap before I hit the rack:
  • Thanksgiving: In the mountains with my wife's family, we ate too much and then sat outside by a fire. That night, we drank some beer around the fire and tried to see that elusive Holmes comet.
  • Black Friday: Sat outside for much of the day. Watched LSU get trounced by Mr. McFadden and the rest of the Razorbacks. Did no shopping whatsoever... even avoided commercials on the telly.
  • Today: Loaded the dog into the car to go for a hike. Arrived at trailhead in time to see no fewer than 20 people of various ages and athletic ability lumbering for the trail. Promptly returned home. Watched Dawgs trounce the Yellow Jackets. Saw Kentucky blow it. Smiled at the thought of my sister watching Alabama lose.
  • No Country for Old Men: Do yourself a favor and go see it. It's a fantastic Coen brothers film and a great adaptation of the book. I'll see it again this week. Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem both deserve nods at Oscar time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Country

So, today marks the wide-release of the Coen brothers big screen version of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men.

A production still from the movie.

I gotta tell ya, today is my Christmas. Ever since I read the first page of McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses in 1993, I've been hooked on his work. With exception of a play published last year, I've read everything he's done. Hands down, he's my favorite author.

Yesterday, I reread the book in anticipation of the film. Today, I'm seeing it with my buddy Randy, who has scheduled an "off-site meeting" for this afternoon. I guess that we'll be among a few in the theater and probably in a minority of folks who are geeking out over it to such a large degree.

When Billy Bob Thornton turned in All the Pretty Horses, the studio massacred it. I heard his version was longer and, probably, more like the book. Unfortunately, it seems that the studio wasn't sure how to market the film, edited it heavily in post-production, and released a beautifully shot, well-acted film that was a shadow of the gritty, bloody, coming-of-age western contained in the novel. Thankfully the Coens' pedigree allow them the creative license to accurately recreate the story without meddling from the suits. From the buzz that the movie is already generating, I'd say they've done a kick-ass job with it.

Having the Coens at the helm of the picture seems to atone for the fact that Oprah selected McCarthy's The Road for her book of the month pick. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for McCarthy's success but I'd like Oprah to stay the hell away from him. Anyway, I'm thrilled to see the film today. I'll follow-up on it later.

More on Cormac McCarthy here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Best Biscuits (and, Formerly, Wildlife Painting) in Batesville

This past weekend, we went with several friends and their kids to my in-laws' place in north Georgia. We relaxed, stayed up late, ate and drank too much, and had a blast doing it. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, we managed to drag ourselves out of bed and head over to the Batesville General Store for breakfast. In addition to the "Best Biscuits in Batesville," we've come to enjoy visiting our favorite painting of a deer frolicking with its lupine buddies. Each time we see it, we warmly talk about how the wolves are just running up to say "Hello, friend!" to the deer. They're playing a cordial game of chase through the morning snow, like good friends sometimes do.

The Deer and His Wolf Buddies

Anyway, the painting is very much a part of the charm of the place. Over the last several years, it's become a highlight of the trip to the mountain house with friends. During Saturday's feast, we gazed on it with delight during our meal. On returning Sunday morning, we cast our eyes toward the familiar spot on the wall and were greeting with a pristine rectangle of wood paneling that hadn't been seen by anyone in years. Our painting was gone; the wall was bare. Before ordering coffee, we spoke with the waitress who told us that it was sold at some point during the previous day. As she told me this, she couldn't have hurt me more if she'd stabbed me with a piece of the cheap cutlery from the table. A small part of me died. Now, I'm not really sure that I can go back there. Part of the mythology of the place has gone and cannot be recovered.

I really, really hate it when stuff like that happens.

The Majestic
When I moved to Atlanta in 1996 and discovered the Majestic, I had a similar experience. My friends and I went so frequently in the late 90's that we quickly developed "pet names" for the wait staff. Presently, it seems that only Count Chocula remains there, occasionally hustling Patty Melt Plates to our tables. During the day, a wonderful older woman worked there. We called her "Marge." Honestly, she could've been the model for Linda Lavin's Alice.

One day, I was there with a good friend and my soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. We were telling my future ex about the names we had for everyone, how we'd invented personal histories for them, and how knowing anything "real" about them would ruin this fantasy world we'd created and occupied. Next thing you know, the dumb-ass I was dating goes over to "Marge" for a little chat, returns to the table, and blurts out her real name. My friend Ashley and I sat there looking at her, not believing what she'd just done. I never forgave her for doing such a mean-spirited thing.

I guess the worst part of it all is that, as adults, our lives are relatively void of the magic and mythology we had as kids. Neither Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny exists in the same capacity for us. Instead, we have bills, jobs, the pressures of relationships, and the responsibilities of family. When we do find and cultivate a little of that magic in a strange unexpected place, it hurts when it is taken away.

Fare thee well, deer painting.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Schools Update

It's been a while since I've posted an update on my school situation. Frankly, I was tired of my usual "blah, blah, blah working-on-applications-crap, blah, blah, blah" stuff. Here's the skinny: I'm finished with all the secondary applications that I'm going to submit this go around. If nothing pans out this year, I'll retake the MCAT and reapply next summer.

Interview at Mercer University School of Medicine, 12/2007
Earlier this week, I found out that they want me to come in for an interview. So, I'll be heading down to Macon to speak with them in early December. It's pretty good news! I'm excited and anxious about it. It looks like they're the front-runners. I'll post more on this as it develops. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Rejected by Boston University
So, I'm not going to be in Bean-town. A few weeks ago, I got their rejection letter via email. Seriously, it was the nicest thing ever. See for yourself:
The Committee on Admissions of Boston University School of Medicine has completed its review of your application. It is with great regret that I inform you that we will be unable to offer an interview this year. This is a disappointment, as much for those who are responsible for the decision as it may be for you, the candidate who is turned away.

Most of the candidates we are considering this year are qualified to attend medical school and are likely to make important contributions to our profession and to society. Sadly, with more than 100 applicants for every seat in the class, we are forced to deny many exceptional people.


We acknowledge and respect your accomplishments and recognize that our inability to offer you an opportunity to complete the admissions process is a loss for Boston University.
Please accept our best wishes for all your future endeavors.
As nice as the letter is, I strongly disagree with the last sentence of the first paragraph. It's as much a disappointment for those that made the decision, the rejectors, as for me, the rejectee? Somehow, I think I probably feel worse about it. When they made their decision, did they choke back tears while downing a cocktail and watching reruns of Judge Judy at 4 p.m. in their pajamas? My guess is "no."

Whatever. Hell, if they feel that bad about it, I'll interview with them; I've got the time.

Final List
So, here's a quick list of the places to which I submitted supplemental applications:

We'll see how this thing turns out.

That's it. The die is cast. Honestly, I'm tired of stressing out about all of it and of waiting to hear something from places. I'll post more updates as they happen.

Halloween

This year, I think we beat our previous record of 10 trick-or-treaters. I think that we gave candy to about 12 or 14 kids. I know, I know... how can we afford all that candy, right?

My wife brought home pumpkins from her office. One of the principals of her firm bought 100 (!?!) pumpkins to decorate their landscape and to host an office pumpkin-carving contest. Unsurprisingly, they had a few left over. So, I carved one about an hour before the kids started dropping by for treats. I found a little artistic inspiration and created "Open Head-Wound Pumpkin."

Open Head-Wound Pumpkin, #1

Open Head-Wound Pumpkin is scarier at night!
Note: Gaping Monster-Mouth Pumpkin at top of stairs.

My Favorite Costume of the Night
My favorite costume of the night was the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four.

When I opened the door, I thought the kid was wearing some tie-dyed jumpsuit. At first, I thought he was a muscular, hippie Elvis. Then, I was able to make out the Fantastic Four logo on the costume's fake muscles. Pretty cool costume, I must admit. Personally, though, I felt the plastic molded wig detracted from it.

"Trick or treat," he says.

"Nice Human Torch costume, my man," I complemented while dumping a huge handful of candy into his bag. "It's pretty cool!"

"This thing is HOT! I am SWEATING in here!" he yelled as he snapped shut his bag and darted down my steps.

"The Human Torch is made of fire, you know, " I muttered to myself.

My Next Favorite Costume: Venom (from Spider-Man 3)
The little kid wearing this one was adorable. He was probably 5 years old, at most.

First off, the costume was way too big for him. He scurried up the driveway and the steps. When he finally made it onto the porch, he gave me a muffled "trick-or-treat." His mask was really twisted on his face which contorted it into some macabre death grin. It was very cute but a little creepy.

I dropped candy in his bag and he split. When he was in the driveway, his dad reminded him to say "thank you. So, I get a barely audible "Thank you" from him as his shuffling toward the next house.

"Why don't you take that mask off, boy? You know you can't see a thing with it on," pleaded the father as the boy passed him.

"You know you have zero chance of that happening tonight, don't you? It's Halloween. That thing stays on, no matter how blind he is," I told the dad.

"You're right on that one. Can't tell them nothing tonight."

And with that, evil Spider-Man and his dad faded into the darkness of the street, moving toward the night's remaining plunder.

Honorable Mention: Hannah Montana
When I opened the door, a cute little girl greeted me with a hearty "Trick or Treat!" She was nicely dressed with a fantastic blonde wig.

"And who are you supposed to be?," I asked.

"Hannah Mon-tannah!," she yelled and opened her bag.

"All right! You going to sing?," I asked her while dumping two pounds of candy into her bag.

She violently shook her head "no" and raced off to another house.

As I closed the door, I thanked God that she didn't tell me she was dressed as Blondie from the Clermont Lounge. I've been in this city a little too long, I guess.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sports!

Sports was easily my favorite Huey Lewis and the News album. It far surpassed everything else they put out.

Now the old boy may be barely breathing
But the heart of rock and roll is still beating


UGA Victorious in the Land of Mullets and Jorts
So, how 'bout them Dawgs? Seriously, how great was that first touchdown? The importance of a faux-impromptu moment wasn't lost on me. Thank God the announcers told me all about what it meant and how I should feel about it. It was, however, exciting to witness. What would the final score have been if we'd not sustained about a bazillion penalty yards? Any time Florida loses, I'm happy.

42-30

When my alma mater does it, it's nothing short of brilliant.

Rocktober? Nope, Sox-tober!
How great was the series (if you weren't rooting for the Rockies or for the N.L.)?


Personally, I loved it. Finally, I'll be able to go out in public again. Unfortunately, I was a little superstitious about it all. During the ALCS, I watched a game with a buddy out at a sports bar. They won but I just couldn't concentrate on the game. Plus, I felt surrounded by the stereotypical idiots that love sports bars...emphasis on "bars." Anywho, to stop the losing skid, I had to watch the game at home. I'd break my cap out of retirement, gingerly place it atop my melon, and watch the game from the darkness of the living room. Thanks to my meticulous attention to -- and repetition of -- detail, they came back to win three in a row and, in doing so, the AL pennant. Obviously, I had to stick to my protocol during the World Series. It paid off as handsomely as it did in 2004. Sweep, baby.

I'm equally happy that I don't suffer any more awful announcing by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver and shitty game production provided by Fox. Really, could they have interrupted more of the game for useless interviews with pitching coaches? Here are some of my ideas for Fox:
  • How about this: show every at-bat during the game and put meaningless interviews in a small box on screen. You know, do a picture-in-picture sort of thing.
  • Get rid of the "Strike Zone" or whatever the hell it's called. The beauty of baseball is that balls and strikes are called, for better or worse, by fallible humans. Umps make mistakes. They blow calls. That's part of the game. If not, the Rockies wouldn't even have been in the post-season.
  • Make the announcers either shut up or say intelligent things. On Conan O'Brian, Joe Buck confessed that friends text him during broadcasts with bets that he can't work random words into the broadcast. Hell, Conan bet him a $1000 charity donation that he couldn't work "jubjub" into the broadcast. First game, Buck says "Our own little jub-jub, Chris Meyers." Nice job, Joe.
  • Sponsorship bar at the bottom the screen. Just put all the damned corporate logos at the bottom of the screen and stop inventing dumb shit like the "Levitra 'Putting a Little Wood On It' Hit Highlights." If you experience games lasting longer than 4 hours, please consult your physician.
America thanks you for the free Taco Bell® taco.
Thanks, Jacoby!

I could go on an on and on. Simply put, Fox sucks.

So, this time of year always leaves me sad. I think of it as post-baseball depression. It's like I have to say goodbye to one of my best friends until the Spring. It really makes me blue.

Dreaming
This morning, I had another awesome dream. Again, it was one of those where I woke up happy as hell, just grinning there in the dark until I fell asleep again. I was called up to pitch for the RedSox during the World Series. I surprised my family with a trip to Fenway and the enormous players' family suite. They had no idea I would pitch, so it was fantastic news for them. Me and my dad got really emotional when I was telling him how good a role model Tito Francona was for me. Honestly, I couldn't believe that I'd never noticed my amazing pitching talent before but was sooo thankful for the pitching scouts that saw me playing with the Sleestaks softball team. The roar of the crowd woke me up.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Less Than Two Hours Until Game 1

So, without going on too much about it -- I'm superstitious -- the World Series kicks off tonight in a couple of hours. Needless to say, I'm so stinking excited for the Sox. How great was the LCS? I cannot, for the life of me, believe that J.D. cracked the grannie to help keep them alive. Although I'm sort of over ESPN's Bill Simmons, his latest column is pretty damned funny. He features a ton of reader mail in it. My favorite reader comment:

Sam P. from Stateline, Nev.: I will never be more surprised than I was when J.D. hit that grand slam. If Reese Witherspoon released a porn video with Julia Stiles and the Quaker Oats guy, I would not be more surprised than I was when J.D. Drew got that hit. Maybe Michael Moore will break the marathon record ... and I will be half as surprised as I was when J.D. went deep.
Holy crap, I love post-season baseball.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Actober

So, it's the 3rd inning in Game 5 of the ALCS. Besides being constantly annoyed by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver and the terrible production of each game (Seriously, can you please show a pitching coach interview instead of the game? Please? How about more meaningless graphics? Thanks, FOX!), I die a little each time I see Dan Cook in those damned "actober" commercials.

Him? Spokesperson for post-season baseball? Really?

Man In the Mirror

Last weekend, I went to my buddy Jason's house-warming party. For the last year or so, he and his partner have been renovating the place. So, my wife and I went over to see them and have a look. After the guided tour from Jason, we ended up on the back patio with some friends that we'd not seen in years.

During our conversation, a stranger walked up and asked me a question.

"Do you remember me?," he said.

Honestly, that question is the one I dread the most. Actually, it might fall slightly behind something like "Are you the son of a bitch who knocked up my sister?". The point is, I feel like a deer in headlights when someone asks me that.

"Did we work together at WebTone?" I guessed.

"No. You don't recognize me?" he continued.

"Your face looks familiar but I can't remember your name," I confessed.

"I'm Darren. We went to Mexico together!"

"That's it. Hell, that was thirteen years ago. So how are you?"

We chatted for a bit about the study abroad program we did in the summer of 1995. During the trip, we took classes at La Universidad de Guadalajara and traveled around the country quite a bit. We caught up on each others lives and continued to reminisce about the trip.

I have particurlarly vivid memories from a side trip that we took to Puerta Vallarta. In-country flights were pretty cheap, so we booked a trip to the west coast and had a blast. One night, we decided to go on a "Sunset Booze Cruise."

Obviously, we left before sunset and hit the coastline. We passed the location where "Night of the Iguana" was filmed. Man, the drinks flowed freely and we tried our best not to waste a drop. I found a few photos that document the progression of the evening.

Ahoy!

We're on a sunset cruise.

Wheere on a sumshet crooze.

No, YOU guys are awesome!

My favorite memory of the trip stems from the end of the evening. After the sun set, everyone moved inside to the dance floor and continued the party. A little later, the crew cleared everyone out to make way for a "very special guest." We moved out and wondering what was going on when all of a sudden, "Man in the Mirror" starts blaring. Then, Michael Freaking Jackson appeared out of thin air. We could not believe it! I mean, really, we knew it wasn't the real MJ but the closest damned thing you could get. Seriously, we were stunned by how much of a spitting image this guy was. Not only that, he had all of the moves down. We were as thrilled as if it were the real Michael Jackson; it was awesome.

Then, I got my photos back.

I'd prefer to be tied up in this guy's crawl space
rather than be this close to the real Michael Jackson.


Alcohol is a hell of a thing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

T-Shirt of the Day

Most mornings, I make it over to the YMCA to workout. One of the regulars that I see almost daily is an older hippie guy. He's probably in his late 60s, rail thin, and has a silver head of hear and a shaggy goatee. The other day, I overheard him having a long, detailed conversation about flying in his dreams. It seems that he's got it down to a science. He doesn't even have to flap his arms or run to take off anymore; he just leans forward and flies! I also overheard him conclude a conversation with the phrase "Far out."

This morning, I'm on the bike and he walks by wearing a priceless t-shirt. It was royal blue with large white lettering on the front that read:

Feminist chicks dig me.

Classic. It might be my second favorite shirt that I've seen recently. (Go here to read about my favorite.)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Suite Life

A few days ago, my friend, Y, emailed to say that she had her company's tickets to the Thrashers game and invited us to join her. The game would be an early birthday present for our buddy Rodney. So, Friday night we went to the Thrashers' home opener. Normally, I'm not a huge hockey fan but I am a huge sports fan. Usually, I'll jump at the chance to see a live sporting event. In part, I think I truly enjoy the camaraderie of everyone in the stands. To make things even better, the tickets were for a suite. How great is that?

Suite seats.

Man, I totally felt bourgeoisie. We walked into a private area. Then, into a more exclusive private area. Around each turn, someone would check your ticket and then welcome you as you passed; it was pretty damned cool. On the way upstairs, we shared an elevator with the Atlanta Hawks' Zaza Pachulia. Of course, we only knew that he was a ball player.

This guy takes up most of a small elevator.

After he and his entourage exited, we played the name game with the elevator operator trying to figure out who he was. I guessed "Yao Ming" but nobody seemed to think I was right. Pretty sad statement about Atlanta basketball when nobody in your city knows your name.

We greeted the other ten people in the suite, helped ourselves to "free" beer, snacks, and sandwiches, and watched a little hockey. The dilemma facing me was that I was at a hockey game while playoff baseball was on. So, after the first period, Rodney and I meandered downstairs into the main concourse and gathered with tons of other fans around an HDTV showing the Yankees/Indians game. A community of us stood there watching, pleading for the Indians to break the game open and win. Hell, even the flies in Cleveland seemed to be doing their part to defeat the Yanks.

[Insert smarmy Yankee-hater caption here.]

It was a nail-biter than went extras. By the 11th inning, the crowd around the TV had swelled and was blocking anyone from getting through or around it. In the bottom of the inning, with two outs, bases loaded, and a full count on the Indians' Travis Hafner, a Philips Arena security guard pushed through the crowd and announced that unless the crowd made room for people to pass by, she was going to turn off the television. No fewer than fifty people simultaneously muttered, "Go ahead, try it." Obviously, she had no idea of the situation with which she was threatening to interfere. Honestly, it wasn't going to happen; we would not be denied seeing the next pitch. Thankfully, the situation didn't come to a head; Hafner hit a game-winning single. The crowd around the television erupted with hoots and yells and quickly dissipated. Rodney and I returned to the suite, tuned in the Red Sox game on the televisions, and sat on the couch watching it while the Thrashers got, well, thrashed.

It was, perhaps, the most fun I've had at a hockey game.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

We Never Grow Out of It.

This past weekend, I drove to Athens for Crazy Greg's Annual Tailgate. This year, he roasted a pig. Unlike a few years back, the Athens Fire Department did not show up, wade through the sea of tents, and douse his fire. (Turns out that sawing a metal trash can in half and building a raging inferno is considered a fire hazard. Make a mental note of it, you'll thank me.) Anyway, this year went off without too much of a hitch. It was, however, one for the record books.


My photos from the day.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Since graduating and moving to Atlanta, I've been to only a handful of games. About once a year, I make it up to tailgate with everyone but rarely make it inside the stadium. The last game I attended was Spurrier's first visit to Athens with South Carolina. Anyway, it was a crisp, bright morning, perfect weather for football. As I got closer and closer to Athens, I got more and more nostalgic for my college days. Man, I was younger, had a full head of hair, and took full advantage of my ability to stay out all night with no ill-effects the following day. Now, I'm tired by 10:30 p.m. and more than three beers leaves me stunned for the following 48 hours. How I miss my youth! At one point during the drive, I actually talked myself out of blaring R.E.M. and singing at the top of my lungs. I convinced myself that driving along alone, crying and laughing while singing "King of Birds" would really be pushing into sad, old guy territory. Better to hang back as fun, nostalgia guy.

After what seemed to be an eternity, I made it downtown and looked for parking. With each vacant handicapped spot I passed, I died a little inside. As I was walking out the door that morning, my wife asked if I wanted to take the "handi-pass" she earned with her knee surgery. I declined, explaining that I feel dishonest and guilty using it when she's not there. As a result, the boy scout got to pay fifteen dollars to park downtown. As quickly as I could, I filled a trash bag with beer and ice and shoved it into my backpack. I grabbed my camp chair, slung on the pack, and commenced my hike toward Legion Field and the memories of youth.

Older and wiser.

When I walked up to the tailgate, I may as well have stepped into the early 1990s. Tons of old counselor friends were there. It really was like being back home. Everyone knows your history, knows how you are, accepts that. We laughed, drank a few beers, ate some pig, and slowly got out of hand.

Pig pickin' in Athens.

It's Not a Party Until...
So, a friend of Greg's was there with his girlfriend. At least, she probably was his girlfriend. Today, probably not so much. As an observer, she seemed like a big bowl of crazy. For nearly an hour, they argued back and forth over an innocent bystander who was literally caught between them. Certainly, their alcohol consumption didn't help matters. She seemed to be a young, attractive gal who gets crazy as hell and maybe mean when she hits the sauce. I stayed as far away as I could manage.

As game time approached, people drifted off toward the stadium. [Crazy Train]'s boyfriend had, by this point, passed out in the front of Greg's truck. That guy is nuts, I thought. Hell, it's only 1 p.m. I noted as I drained my beer and fished another from my pack. Sometime near the start of the second quarter, I think, Greg made his start for the game. Turns out that, [Crazy Train] was going to join him for the trip. About an hour and a half later, I get the following text message from Greg:
Lost [Crazy Train], tell [Drunk Boyfriend]. With [Old Female Counselor].
See you soon!
And that, my friends, was the last we saw of [Crazy Train]. As best we could, we woke [Drunk Boyfriend], told him that [Crazy Train] had gone off the reservation. He didn't seem that bothered.

[Crazy Train] makes her exit.

Always Be Prepared
Some time later, Greg arrived alone. He told us that [Old Female Counselor] would show up to meet him later. Finally, she arrived. It could've been the beer but she looked like a supermodel. Turns out it was the beer. She's an attractive woman but none of us are supermodels, you know? Anywho, Greg was officially on the hunt. The two chatted for a while and, without a word to anyone, tried to steal away for a little privacy. At this point, beer logic failed them: When two people try to hide behind something that's only four feet tall, people can still see them kissing. After enduring everyone's yells, they got wise and move farther away. Every few minutes, however, Greg would take a break and run back over to us to complain about his indigestion. Each time, I think I offered him a Pepcid that I didn't have. I'm an asshole.

Which one suffers from acid reflux?

After more time passed, the pair decided that they were going to head to a friend's house and get a little rest. As Greg sauntered over to tell me goodbye, I beckoned him over to my pack.

"Hey man, you should take this PowerBar," I say.

"What the hell are you talking about?," he asks.

"Dude, she's hypoglycemic. Remember from camp?"

"She grew out of that."

"What? No hell she didn't! You don't grow out of being hypoglycemic. Trust me, take this damned PowerBar."

"Okay. Whatever," he says while nonchalantly pocketing it.
Aftermath
Later, we all split up and went our separate ways. Several of us ended up at a friend's condo to sober up before heading out for a bite. We made it into a bar/restaurant downtown in time to see Auburn completely dismantle the Gators. That was a nice way to finish the evening. After dinner and more time hanging with my friends, I returned to Atlanta. My head hit my pillow at about 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. All in all, it wasn't a bad day.

Later that morning, I spoke with Greg to find out about his evening.

"It was pretty boring," he confided. "She asked me about a thousand questions. I got psychoanalyzed for about two straight hours. Finally, I told her I was going to sleep."

"Did you find [Crazy Train]?," I asked.

"She called me from jail at about midnight. Disorderly Conduct and Public Intoxication. Cost $1000 to get out."

"What? How damned drunk do you have to be to get a ticket on Game Day at UGA?"

"I know, man. I think she hit a cop."

"What the hell?"

"I don't know, man. She never even called her boyfriend."

"Wow. She's loco."

"Yep. Hey, guess what else happened," he said.

"No clue. Somebody got shot?," I guessed.

"This morning at three a.m., [Old Female Counselor] wakes me up. She was shaking and acting all weird. I asked her what was wrong and she said her sugar was all messed up. I thought, damn, that son of a bitch was right. Then, I walked to my truck and got that PowerBar. Good call on that one, man."

"Told you, you don't grow out of that shit."

"I guess not.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Still Working on Applications

Sorry for the lack of posts; I'm still heads-down in applications. The list of schools continues to grow. Added since my last post:
  • Temple
  • Brown
  • Georgetown
  • Tulane
  • Tufts
  • Mt. Sinai
  • Emory
  • Morehouse
  • Northwestern
  • Thomas Jefferson U.
EAV Strut
Last weekend was our neighborhood's annual "Strut." Essentially, it's a day-long celebration. We have a small parade, tons of artists & festival vendors, and ample Sweetwater beer tables. It's a block party. Well, the weather was perfect for it. My wife and I walked to the village with some of her friends from work. During the course of the day, I bumped into about six or seven people that I know from various periods of my life here in Atlanta. It was pretty comforting to see people that I'd not seen in years. At the same time, it was a little disturbing that I've been in Atlanta for over ten years. I suppose that most any place can feel small when you've been there long enough.

September Baseball
Anything better than close pennant races? Seriously, the RedSox are making me pucker up a bit. They'd better take care of business and close out the season on a high note. Seriously. I'm not sure if I can take the taunting from Dr.J3K if the Yankees win the division.

Completely Random Occurrence Over SEC Football
Last weekend, my friend Kanishka was in D.C. bar, watching the UGA game. He sends me this message:
Do you know Wally B? He wants to know if you remember the time that Lee threw up at a Waffle House after drinking EverClear and Now&Laters.
During my freshman and sophomore years at UGA, Wally lived across the hall from me in the Reed Hall dorms. At least ten years have passed since I've seen him or spoken to him. I replied:
Does he remember the time when Mike D. mooned the UGA police from his car and they were almost arrested?
Next thing I know, Kanishka called and put Wally on the phone. We quickly revisited our litany of misdemeanors and other hijinks. . With exception of the vivid memories of Lee vomiting on the table at Waffle House, it was a fun little trip down memory lane.

As it turns out, both of them were out watching the game and struck up a conversation as complete strangers. After a long conversation, they each discovered that the other knew me. From there, I guess some of my social circles collided without me. I think they're watching the game at the same place this weekend. It makes me happy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The List

As part of my warts and all approach, I thought I'd make a running list of the schools that have invited me to submit a supplemental application. So far, here they are:
  • Columbia University
  • Boston University
  • Medical College of Georgia
  • George Washington University
  • University of Chicago (Pritzker School of Medicine)
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of North Carolina
  • New York University
I'm excited but I'm not getting too carried away with it. I think it's probably best to take the invites with a grain of salt because some schools invite everyone to fill out a secondary application. Think about it: In most cases, several thousand applicants are competing for just a few spots. If everyone is invited to complete a secondary application at a cost of, let's say, $100, the university earns a nice sum of money from people who have a snowball's chance of getting into school.

Nice system, huh? People just line up to give you money. Maybe I should open a medical school, invite all applicants to complete a $100 secondary application, and reject them all. Doesn't sound like all that bad of a plan.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Rollercoaster Ride

Well, I decided not to take the test. I feel at peace with the decision, if bruised and battered by it. So, the die is cast. From here on out, I'll work on my secondary applications and, with luck, be invited for an interview or two. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Send me good vibes. Call anyone you know at any medical school and sing my praises. (I'm only slightly kidding on the last bit there.)

Worst case scenario is that I don't get in this year. If that happens, I'll take the MCAT again next spring and kick its ass. Also, I'll continue to do more volunteer work and really max out my application. Again, this is the worst case scenario. Sigh.

You Call That Advising?
Shortly after my last post, I played a short game of phone tag with my advisor at my post-bacc program. He's a really great guy but I think that the folks in the program are a little out-of-touch with reality. Prior to speaking with my advisor, I emailed him with three issues I wanted to discuss. First, I wanted to talk over my thoughts about sitting (or not) for the exam. Second, I wanted his thoughts on how most schools viewed scores. For example, do they look at only the composite or do they look at the highest recorded score in each section? Finally, I wanted his opinion on how much my experience factors into my applications. Will schools see me only as my MCAT scores or will they actually look at my life experiences? After all, I'm not a kid who is just wrapping up my undergrad.

After a brief round of phone tag, we finally spoke. He told me that he'd discussed my questions with the program director. In short, he told me what I needed to hear about sitting for the test: if my scores weren't significantly improving and I didn't feel confident about it, don't sit for it. I'd arrived at this conclusion but I needed to hear it from him, I suppose.

Understandably, he didn't really address the second issue. Honestly, schools are all a little different as to how much emphasis they put on the scores and to how they look at those scores. So, no loss on this question. It makes sense that I'd get a vague response. Unfortunately, I didn't get really great information about the schools for which I'm completing secondary applications.

His thoughts on the last issue, however, really did surprise me. Essentially, he sidestepped the issue and returned to me sitting for the exam. Even if I did sit for it, he said, it would probably be too late for me to get any offers for secondary applications.

"Really?," I asked. "That's funny because I've got seven or eight right now. I've actually already submitted one of them."

He seemed to be at a loss for words. And also a loss of credibility in my view.

Post-Bacc Doesn't Equal Non-Traditional
The thing is, I suppose, that the program is for post-baccalaureate students. The majority of my classmates in the program were only a few years removed from school. For me, it was ten. I'm thinking that I probably am farther along the "non-traditional applicant" path than all of my classmates, save one. For me, fear-mongering isn't that great of a motivator. I'm set on achieving this goal. I'm tenacious. Maybe a lower score on one section of the exam will hinder my chances this year. I fail to believe, however, that my wealth of life experiences don't count for a significant portion of my value as an applicant. We'll see, I guess.

On an unrelated note:
I've added a music player to the blog. You'll notice it on the right side of the page. These are a few songs by some artists that I'm really enjoying. Give them a listen. If you like them, pick up their albums. If you want to know more about one of them, let me know. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Honesty is Difficult

The MCAT is taking me on a rollercoaster ride. I'm scheduled to take it again this Friday but I'm rethinking whether or not I should sit for it. Since getting my scores from the July sitting, I've definitely been through a series of emotional highs and lows. First, I was thrilled to submit my application and get to work on supplemental applications. Next, I was a little disappointed in my scores -- not entirely but on a single section.

Well, in the month between getting my scores and this next test, I've not progressed to my expectations. So, I'm weighing the decision of letting my scores ride and seeing what happens or taking the test again, less than fully prepared, and living with the consequences. The problem is, if you do worse, people take note of it. Presently, I doubt that I'll have serious gains in any section. If my practice scores are indicative, I'm in a hole that I need to dig out of to get back to my previous scores.

Anywho, I'm fairly tired of obsessing over it. My gut is telling me not to take it, to take it again in April, and to devote the coming months to making a ridiculous improvement in scores. Instead of getting just enough, I should break the bank, you know? Anywho, being honest with yourself is one of the most difficult things to do isn't it? I feel like I'm letting everyone down, myself included, by not taking this damned test again. I do not, however, think that I can give it my best effort and improve things.

Anywho, keep your fingers crossed that one (or more) of my secondaries will come through with an interview request and an acceptance.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I'm Still Heads-Down

Still fighting the battle with studying for the MCAT. Oddly, I'm having a much more difficult time trying to remain focused this time around. WTH? Anywho, by 6:00 p.m. on Friday, I'll be done again.

By devoting myself to studying, I missed the DragonCon parade in Atlanta. The following photo is from the AJC's coverage of the event. Evidently, this is the "super heroes" part of the parade. I've pointed out my favorite costume. Nothing like devoting your time to dressing as a second-tier member of the Super Friends.

No Black Vulcan or Apache Chief? What gives?

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Highs and Lows

I'm convinced that the whole process of applying to schools is a series of peaks and valleys. One moment, I'm elated; the next, I'm deflated. Last week, I submitted my primary application. Essentially, it's a single application that is completed online and broadcast via an official application service to all the schools you select. So, I finished a comprehensive application with a pretty good essay and sent it to a bunch of schools, most of which are on the East coast (and Chicago).

The next step in the process is to complete supplemental or secondary applications. For this round, interested schools invite you to complete a secondary application. In theory, this application is a more detailed, school-specific application. Oh, you also get to pay the school somewhere between $80 and $150 bucks to apply. Personally, I think it's a revenue stream for the schools. For example, some schools have hundreds of applicants apply for each opening in the class. One can assume that schools rake in a lot of money by having people apply although most of them won't be admitted.

So, at the moment, I'm working on a few secondary applications and trying to get those back in for review.

MCAT Update
I got my score from my first test and I'm not as happy as I want to be with them. As a result, I'll be taking the MCAT again on 07 SEP 2007. Lucky me. On three of the four sections, I was very pleased with my scores. On the Physical Sciences section, however, I'd like to see my score improve a little. Personally, I think that I was nervous on this section and it took me a little while to settle down. (It was the first section of the test, after all.) Also, the crappy old mouse on the crappy old computer screwed me up on one section of this part. I accidentally clicked on a part that took me to a main page instead of the next question. Then, I had to quickly work my way back the right question while my timer continued to tick down. Anywho, it was stressful.

I'm not making excuses, of course, but I'm not sure that I was at my peak during this section. As a result, I'll take it again and we'll see how it goes from there. Hooray for me. I'd rather get a prostate exam than take this damned test again. Such is life, right?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dreams and Other Weirdness

I continue to work on applications. I thought I'd share some gems from the last few days.

Awesome Dream #1
So, about a week ago, I had the following dream. I woke up at 2:20 a.m. laughing and almost dialed Dr. J3K to tell him about it. Enjoy.
J3K and I are in a Michael Bay movie. As is typical in Bay's pictures, we're back lit by the setting sun. We're armed to the teeth and heading into an amusement park to battle the bad guys. Each of us is carrying several enormous guns, wearing bandoliers, and almost any conceivable weapon of destruction. It's similar to the scene in Commando where the Governator prepare to go ashore to rescue his daughter. As we get fully outfitted and begin making out way into the amusement park, dramatic music plays and the camera shot widens to reveal that ... we are dressed like Care Bears.
That's it: Care Bears. My once in a blue moon bad-ass dream and I'm dressed like Hugs-a-lot Bear. What the hell?

Not pictured: Special Forces Bear and Shoots-a-Lot Bear

Strange Dream #2
This probably has something to do with Ingmar Bergman dying.
I'm in a black and white film with Max von Sydow running around the countryside. We're fleeing Death just like in The Seventh Seal. Unlike the movie, Death isn't as benign but more ruthless and cold-blooded. We run and run, just barely staying a step or two ahead of him. Finally, we take refuge in my Uncle Mike's house as he blasts music from Koyaanisqatsi on his home stereo. Death arrives.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm a little stressed about getting my MCAT scores.

Neighborhood Weirdness
This morning, I'm taking Dylan down to the park for his morning walk. As I get into the heart of the village, two guys pass me. One of them is carrying a foil. Neither are dressed as though they're on their way to a fencing match. (In fact, they're dressed as though they're on their way to the nearest park bench or shelter.) I curse myself for not having a camera and promise myself that if I hear the phrase "En garde!," I will run away very quickly.

Better than seeing someone carrying a gun, I suppose.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Urban Bikini

Last night, I was with Dr. J3K's family and other friends celebrating his graduation. (His official graduation ceremony is today at Georgia Tech.) Anywho, we spent the evening chatting over a few beers and some really nice food. When the festivities wound down at about 11 p.m., I dropped him and his girlfriend off at his car on campus. On our short drive through midtown toward the GT campus, we spotted several hookers out on the streets. One "woman" was wearing a shiny turquoise bikini with fishnets; "she" was also about six feet tall and appeared to have an adams apple and a five o'clock shadow.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sorry for the Hiatus

My MCAT-itude
Well, it's done. I've taken the test and have been, essentially, recovering from it for the last couple of weeks. Actually, it killed most of my desires to write or read or think more than base, superficial thoughts. On many occasions, I've been asked how it went. When faced with such a daunting question, I usually respond with "It went." Honestly, I can't really gauge how I did on the test other than I didn't feel as though I did as well as I would have liked. Hopefully, there's a gap between how I felt I did and my actual score. Furthermore, I'd prefer the score to be much better than I felt I performed.

This photo represents how I felt about the MCAT.
Note: I'm represented by the chap in green.

My Testing Center Was Equipped with Cutting Edge Computers (for 1984)
The MCAT recently changed formats from paper-based to computer-based testing. So, anyone taking it is really at the mercy of the testing centers contracted to administer the test. I expected something with fairly modern equipment although my wife tried to lower my expectations. She'd completed all of her NCARB exams at these same centers and spoke about the outdated equipment. I didn't fully believe her.

When I arrived for the exam, I was pretty quickly signed-in and fingerprinted. The electronic fingerprinting station didn't work that well for me. I probably tried about 8 times to get it to read my print. This trouble led to a very awkward exchange in which the lady at the testing center gave me a nice dollop of hand lotion, massaged it onto my hand and finger, and repeated the process with my greasy hand. Remarkably, it worked but I felt dirty. For the record, alleging that you'd removed your fingerprints and making a sarcastic joke alluding to Spacey's character in Se7en won't earn any laughs from the testing center lady.

After successfully completing the registration, she led me to my workstation. I stood there and looked over my wee cubicle with about 4 inches of usable desk space, a CRT computer monitor about 8 inches from my face, and a well-worn roller-ball mouse. I almost asked her if she was kidding me. Really, a few hundred dollars gets me this? Classic.

That $#%* Was Hard
Really, there isn't too much more to be said for the actual content of the exam other than it was hard.

Aftermath (Read: Beers)
After the test, I walked to my wife's office where we'd meet for a late lunch. On the way, I called my dad and managed to string together a few obscenities to describe how I felt. After that, my mental faculties began to shut down. I couldn't do simple math, make simple decisions, or carry on a decent conversation. I was shot. Luckily, a nice Caribbean meal helps to alleviate some of that.

Later that afternoon, Dr.J3K, his girlfriend, and I headed to the FlatIron in EAV for some beers. We were on our second pitcher of Sweetwater when we heard the crack of gunfire. We looked up the street toward the row of shops and saw a few people sprinting away from a few of the shops. We tried to reassure ourselves that it probably wasn't gunfire but, more likely, fireworks or something. Then, we heard sirens approaching. As a resident of the village, I felt like I should at least have an idea of what was happening so I left Dr.J3K and Sandy and walked toward the mayhem. Turns out that some people stole a laptop and some shoes from one of the boutiques. The owner, a huge guy who packs heat, chases them into the alley where the perps are entering their get-away car. Shots are fired; the proprietor takes a bullet in the ankle. Bystanders got the tag number, administered first aid, and called the po-po.

This was during daylight! It's 4:30pm and this shit happened! What the hell? I guess it was some of the Friday, the 13th madness or something. Shaken, I rejoin the gang at the bar. We were convinced that, at the time, we were in the safest place in Atlanta with all the cops swarming the area.

Vacation
On Sunday, I joined my wife's family for a vacation on Edisto Island, South Carolina. I spent the week outside in the sand, staring at the ocean, and soaking in the sun and surf. It was bliss.

The view from our bedroom.

We ate tons of shrimp caught on this boat.

Also, we took a trip to the island's serpentarium. I saw tons of rattlesnakes and strange, dangerous exhibits. Picture this: an outdoor pit filled with tons of venomous snakes and surrounded by lots of kids leaning precariously over the edge. Entertaining? You betcha!

One of the Serpentarium's finest.


The gift shop was as entertaining as the reptile exhibits:

"Merry Christmas! I hope you enjoy this jumbo bag of snake skins."

Happy, Fun Surgery Time!
A few days after we returned from vacation, my wife had surgery to repair her torn ACL. So, I've been acting as her nurse, chauffeur, chef, personal assistant, and (on one occasion) whipping boy. She's doing well and is recovering nicely. When possible, I'll post some surgery pics.