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.

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.