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


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!