Monday, June 25, 2007

18 Day Countdown

MCAT in 18 days. Holy smokes, I'm suddenly very nervous. This weekend, I was back up in North Georgia to study. Last night, we came back to ATL so that I could do some volunteer work at Grady. Then, Tuesday, I return to the mountains to sequester myself and study.

The following pages say only "Oh crap! Oh crap! Oh crap!"

I'm starting to get my "freak out" on.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

3 Nights at Fenway South

Tonight marked the final night of the inter-league play between the Braves and the Red Sox. Normally I pull for the Braves but, when the Sox are in town, I unabashedly root for them. Evidently, so do 90% of the attendees. Honestly, it's like being at a large, really nice Fenway without the monster or the obstructed views. Well, let's say the obstructed views aren't caused by columns being in your way but, rather, people who feel it's appropriate to stand up and chat during play. Here's my recap of the series:

Monday, Red Sox Lost 4 - 9
My wife and I took in the game from the visitor's section, midway between 3rd base and the left field wall. Unfortunately, the Sox lost this game. Schilling got shelled. Apart from the game, I was annoyed/amused by the Yankees fan in front of us and the d.b. right behind us (team allegiance unknown).

The Yankees fan was a real prima donna. Each time the stadium erupted with a "Let's go Red Sox" chant, he'd turn around and scowl at all the Sox fans surrounding him. Then, whenever the Braves made an excellent play, he'd stand up, turn around and gloat. I pointed out to him that he was dressed in full Yankees apparel. My point was that him acting so smug was a little misplaced as he had no obvious ties to the Braves organization. I loathe the Yankees fans who believe their team is God's gift to baseball and the world. By the end of the night, I'm two feet behind him and openly attempting to photograph him doing such idiotic things. Unfortunately, my photographic exploits were fruitless. I've only the following images.

Awesome Yankees fan!

The real winner might've been the gent behind us. In typical Atlanta fashion, he arrived a few innings late and proceeded to do the worst Matt Foley: Motivational Speaker impersonation I've ever heard. I might not be the best at it but I know when something is bad. Trust me, this cat was rotten. Then, he affects a Boston accent and uses "Green Monstah" in every sentence for the next half hour. Later, he and his buddies are talking about hockey and, in all seriousness, he says: "You know, my favorite hockey movie might be 'Slapshot.'" His buddies were oohhing and awwing at his insightfulness. ("Slapshot? " Really? You sure that any of the "Mighty Ducks" series aren't up there? How about "Mystery, Alaska?" Honestly, aren't there about 3 hockey movies? By the way, "The Cutting Edge" doesn't count as one of them.) Then, he pontificated about what a great movie "Caddyshack" is. Genius and timely, I thought.

Anywho, a fun night. Coco Crisp had an amazing night with 2 HR and a great attempt to catch a McCann homer. Too bad the Sox lost.

Tuesday, Red Sox Won 4 - 0
My buddy the Renegade joined me for this one. This time, everyone around us was pretty cool. Again, we were mostly surrounded by Sox fans. I sat next to an old leatherneck who was there with his wife and granddaughter. He was a chisel-faced old man with a stark-white crewcut. When I walked up and took my seat, he noticed my Red Sox cap, looked my square in the eyes, and shook his head in disappointment without ever speaking a word. He scared me.

Here's a nifty little game to play with your pals: Before first pitch at the ball game, predict the winners in the upcoming, goofy jumbo-tron distractions. You've three "games" to predict: the Napa Cap Shuffle, the Harrah's Cherokee Casino Pinball Game, and the Home Depot tool/paint race. I chose the middle cap, pinball #2, and the paintbrush/saw. None of my predictions stuck. The Renegade, however, went 3 for 3.

Beckett pitched a hell of a game and managed to squeeze in a hit off of Hudson. Coco Crisp had another fine game, making a fantastic diving catch to Rob Tim Hudson of a hit. (You probably saw it on ESPN.) Papi hit a homer and so on. It's nice (and a little humorous) to see Papi in the field, playing 1st base.

I love what this guy does.

Wednesday, Red Sox Won 11 - 0
Tonight, PJ2K7 and I hit the stadium for the final game. Again, there were hardly any Braves fans around us. Honestly, it was amazing to see such an outpouring of fan suport for a visiting team. In reality, it's probably much, much easier for Boston fans to score tickets in Atlanta than at Fenway.

PJ2k7 realizes he just ate too many free peanuts.
Uncle Jesse, on the other hand, thought we were spying on him for Boss Hog.

Anywho, we ended up getting free peanuts from the first concession stand we hit. Peej bought two beers and a bag of nuts. The two guys working looked at each other, did terrible math, and somehow ended up giving us a free bag of peanuts. We gladly took them. Hell, it's a seven dollar value.

The first two innings were amazing. The Sox almost batted through their order on poor Carlyle who attempted to pitch for the Bravos. In the first at-bat of the game, J.D. Drew took one out of the park. Later that inning, Coco went deep. Next inning, Papi drilled one. Later on, Manny went yard, followed later in the game by Hinske. Seriously, they put on a hitting clinic for the Braves. And, they played great defensive ball. I think the Braves had 5 hits on the entire evening. Good stuff.

Player of the Series?

Coco was en fuego for the last few games.

Retirement for Old Faithful?
At this year's series, I realized that it might be time to retire my favorite Red Sox cap that's been with me since January 1993. Together, we've been through a lot. For the past several years, it's gotten fragile to the point that I only brought her out for Red Sox games: a few at Fenway, many more here in Atlanta, and the playoffs. Last year, the adjustable strap had failed beyond repair, so I taped it with duct tape. This year, the duct tape kept failing, so I taped it, stapled it, and re-taped it. Although it pains me to say it, I think tonight might've been its last game at the park. All in all, I'm pretty sad about it. They just don't make 'em like that anymore. Where can I get it bronzed?

After 14 years, it might be time to retire my favorite cap.

I love baseball.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Volunteer Orientation at Grady is Efficient, Informative*

*By "Efficient, Informative," I mean an endless journey to the ninth circle of hell.

Monday, I returned from north Georgia to attend a orientation at Grady Memorial Hospital. Over the next few months, I'll be volunteering a few hours a week at ATL's trauma hotbed, the Grady ER. If anything, the orientation was a frustrating example of the inefficiency of our public health system.

The session was scheduled to begin at 4pm with no listed completion time. (Did you catch the subtle foreshadowing in the previous sentence?) I arrived a few minutes early and walked into a room packed with about 30 people. Some were sitting; about a third of us were standing because there were only about 20 chairs. At one end of a long conference table, a nurse administered TB skin tests. At the other end, a woman took photos for ID badges.

At first, I wondered if this was some sort of social experiment in which a bunch of people were cramped into a room and left to descend into chaos. Essentially, that's what it amounted to minus any scientific observation or the death of some fat kid with glasses. The volunteer coordinator was noticeably absent. There was no order to anything: no lines for photos or injections, no circulation of paperwork, no explanation for what we needed to be doing. We simply jockeyed for position, stared at one another, and laughed at it all. Occasionally, the volunteer coordinator's secretary popped into the room and looked around. Later, she announced that the orientation would take place in a "larger" room upstairs that could accommodate everyone. She instructed us to go upstairs when we finished with the photo and TB test.

At 5:15 pm, I made it upstairs and joined the masses. We sat there waiting for everyone to join. Again, nobody official was present to set any sort of expectation of when we'd even begin, much less finish. It was apparent that we were waiting on every person to arrive before starting. "Obviously, there is some really important information that we'll get if we're waiting for everyone to begin," I thought.

At 5:30, an hour and a half late, orientation started. Everyone received an information packet full of papers and protocols. Finally, the volunteer coordinator swept into the room and promptly began the orientation by bitching about how slow the nurse was, complaining about how this particular nurse would never be back at orientation, questioning the nurse's professionalism, and other rantings that demonstrated a glaring lack of professional decorum. After being delayed an hour and a half, I was thrilled to see her using everyone's time so wisely and respectfully. Honestly, it was a fantastic use of my afternoon. I listened intently from the edge of my seat, waiting on her next enlightening words!

Next, she reviewed the contents of our packets which contained mostly administrative info for those new to the hospital. (In retrospect, this portion of the orientation was the most informative and efficient.) Then, she read, verbatim, a two page checklist in our packet that we were apparently incapable of reading ourselves. She did, however, add tons of insight to it with comments like: "I don't know why those elevators are sooooo slow but they are. You should really be ready to wait and wait. You could take the stairs but not if you're going up to a really high floor. You wouldn't want to do that." My eyes welled with tears; I swallowed my tongue.

Next, we flipped though our packet to the hospital's policy regarding respectful treatment of its patients. In theory, we were to read this policy and sign it. Instead, we were treated to a 10 minute explanation of it. She performed a lively, dramatic reading of it, frequently pausing to embellish it with every scenario one could imagine! This is the hospital's policy toward patients:
Treat everyone respectfully. Even the poor people. Even the crazy people. Even the homeless people. Even the poor, crazy, homeless people.
(Now, try to turn it into a 10-minute song and dance number. Hard, huh?)

The crown jewel of the whole ordeal was her review of the following safety pamphlet:

Based on a 2-minute review, it's not too important.

In my opinion, this was perhaps the most critical thing in the whole damned packet. Time spent to review it: 2 minutes. These 120 high-powered seconds included a lackluster paraphrase of the entire brochure and the answers to the quiz we were required to complete, sign, and submit as part of our training.

She attempted to conclude the session by having everyone sign and submit their forms individually, so that she could make sure the handwriting was legible. I had none of it; I went around the room, collected everyone's forms, and gave them to her. This seemed to catch her off guard, as if nobody had ever given her a stack of papers.

So, to recap: an insanely elaborate explanation of "be nice to people" and a ten-second, oversimplification on how to avoid accidentally contracting a lethal infection. Correctly prioritized? You bet your ass it is. (Be sure to ask me again in a couple of weeks when I'm in Denver for treatment of the drug-resistant TB that I'll soon contract.)

That's just the way it goes at Grady, I guess. It's not like I shouldn't have expected things in the administration to be the same version of the bat-shit craziness that goes on in the ER. Hopefully, I won't have to sit through any more of this woman's presentations. If so, I'll definitely bring something I can use to stab myself which would get me to the ER where people are a little more sane.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Happy Fun Study Times Explosion!

This weekend, I'm at my in-laws' house in the north Georgia mountains. I came up this afternoon for weekend study retreat. I'm about a month away from the MCAT and getting increasingly anxious about it.

Anywho, I'll study hard this weekend before heading back to ATL on Monday. I have a volunteer orientation at Grady Hospital on Monday afternoon. A few hours later, I'm seeing the first game in the Red Sox @ Braves series. I've been waiting for these three games since opening day. Yippee!

On the subject of baseball , the following photo really makes me laugh. Click it to enlarge and just drink in everyone's expression. I'm alone here in this huge house, laughing hysterically at the people in the photo. Good stuff.

That's probably going to leave a mark.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bob Barker is an Ass

Maybe knowing that Bob had taped his final TPIR show made be a little nostalgic. Maybe I thought I should actually heed his suggestion to "have your pets spayed or neutered." For whatever reason, we had Dylan neutered and I feel terrible about it. Rather than take responsibility and own my guilt, I place it squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Barker. Help control the pet population, my ass.

Earlier this week, my wife asked me if I'd mind taking Dylan to the appointment. As I recall it, the conversation went something like:

"Yeah, I mind. I don't want to do it; I feel like I'm selling him out. He's going to be pissed at me," I confided.

"But you agreed that we should have this done. Now, you're telling me we're not going to do it?," she asked.

"No, we should do it. You asked me if I wanted to take him and I don't. I don't want to do it but I will."

And from there, the balls were in motion. I made the appointment for Friday. As I hung up with the vet's office, my anxiety began and my guilt started to build. Whenever, I'd take a study break and look outside to check on Dylan, it just so happened that he'd be licking his figs. You don't even know what's about to happen, I thought. There's a storm on the horizon, my friend, a storm that's going to leave you with an empty coin purse.

He had no idea how this week would turn out.

Thursday night, I met the gang for our usual THAD (THursday Afternoon Drinking, an admitted misnomer) where we get together for a few beers and some nachos. Dr. S, our vet and a good friend, was there with her husband. I let her know that she be working on Dylan the next morning. We chatted about it for a while. She assured me that it was the right thing to do, that it wasn't that bad for Dylan, that the surgery didn't take that long, and so on. She really put me at ease. I asked about prosthetics balls; she laughed and waved me off. She did, however, tell me to go visit the Neuticles site. (You should too, it's good stuff.)

I remember, as a kid, watching the vet work some cows at our home. I specifically recall the crazy look in the cow's eyes as he stood in the headgate, as if he knew that no good would come out of the next few minutes. I was awed by how quickly the vet seemed to work. Seriously, it seemed like only a couple of minutes for the entire procedure: one swift incision, reaching for the testicles, tossing them onto the ground nearly out of the animal's sight. Then, to add insult to injury, our dog Sam would run up and feast on them. Recalling this memory, there is no way for me to think that it wouldn't be that bad for Dylan.

As we finished dinner and were leaving, Dr. S asked me if I wanted to keep Dylan's boys.

"Sure," I said, "why not? I'll put them on the mantle."

"Great. I'll put them in a little 'formyl' for you and you can take them with you."

"Sweet. As the very least, I can give them to PJ."

That night, I barely slept. What sleep I did get was fitful and restless. I woke at 5:15 am and went to the gym. Then, I came home and gave Dylan a bath. He needed to be at the vet's between 8:30 and 9:00. I put off getting in the car as long as I could. Normally, Dylan loves riding in the car. Today, however, he was as happy and excited as I've ever seen him. It crushed me.

At the vet's office, he rushed in, sniffed things out, and promptly peed on the wall. Everyone had a good chuckle about it. A few minutes later, the vet tech came to take him back. I patted him on the head, scratched him under the chin, and handed over his leash. As I watched him leave the room and the door slowly close behind him, I felt queasy. I turned to the woman next to me and said, "I am such a traitor." She smiled but didn't disagree.

Later that afternoon, I went to go get him. When the vet tech brought him to the waiting room, he was still high from the anesthesia. It was sad but a slightly amusing: his eyes were bloodshot and droopy; he was slow and clumsy. A minute or two later, Dr. S comes out and we chat about how the surgery went, what to watch for, how long the recovery should take and so on. Then, she excuses herself for a moment, and disappears into the back.

A moment later, Dr. S comes back with a clear plastic bag with two specimen jars in it. As she's walking out, a vet tech asks her what she's got. Without missing a beat, Dr. S in a very clear, loud voice announces to the entire waiting room, "They're Dylan's testicles. He's taking them home."

Dead silence fell over the room. Judging eyes fell on me. Dr. S laughs, gives me a big hug, and gives me the goods. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.

Now, I'm in some strange version of Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart."

Monday, June 04, 2007

My Dog Just Doesn't Get Me

So, I'm coming up on almost a month since classes have been over. This is about two weeks since I've been fully relaxed and feeling OK again. I realize that I'm missing the human interaction that I took for granted when I was on campus. Usually, I'm here at the house in the office trying to study and keep occupied.

When I make some funny, self-deprecating comment about how I just don't get something, Dylan raises his head, stares at me for a second, grunts, lays back down, and goes back to sleep. I feel like he's just not really giving me the respect I deserve.

I gotta get out more.