Monday, January 26, 2009

You Can't Win If You Don't Play

After a discussion about how much medical school will cost, Winning Run offered the following idea:
"I'll quit getting a coffee every morning if you'll use that money to buy a lottery ticket every week."
Not sure it's the best fiscal plan but it can't hurt, right?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pouring Iron

Over the weekend, some friends invited me to tag along with them to a pub to watch an "iron pouring." In the Castleberry Hill neighborhood on the west side of downtown Atlanta, the Elliot Street Pub is home to a recurring iron casting event where you can gather 'round, have a few beers, and watch some guys melt iron and cast it into molds. For a small fee, you can create your own mold and take home an iron plate bearing your design. It was a pretty cool way to spend an evening. I highly recommend it to break up any monotony of experience.

Safety first: one of the pub owners (Mike or Pete?) keeps watch

Heating up the ladle to receive the molten iron

The iron is almost hot enough to flow

Collecting the iron in the ladle

Casting the iron into the molds

All in all, it was a fun way to spend a Friday night.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today, I, Too, Have Made History

To the best of my knowledge, I'll be the first person in my family to attend medical school.

A few moments ago, I got the call from Yakima offering me a seat in their incoming class.

I wish my Grandaddy, Bamba, and Papa were here; they'd be thrilled.

A New Day

Promise. Hope. Intelligence. Oratory skills.

So Long, W

I've been waiting for this day since 20 January 2001.

I won't miss you. I won't write.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Palm Springs of Washington

After the interview, I returned to the hotel and mostly stared blankly at a television for a few hours. Honestly, it was bliss. I always underestimate exactly how taxing an interview day can be. Winning Run and I went for a short walk on the Greenway, a bike and running path that follows the Yakima River. When I felt thoroughly frozen which took only about ten minutes, we returned to the hotel. On the walk back, we saw a couple of bald eagles flying over the river. After a couple of beers and a light dinner, we managed to fight the urge to sleep long enough to nerd-out and watch the season premier of Battlestar Galactica. As soon as the credits rolled, however, the lights were off and we were snoring.

Saturday, we got up and began our day of adventure. To combat the cold, we stopped at one of the ubiquitous drive-through espresso shacks for hot coffee. Seriously, what the hell is it with the Pacific Northwest and coffee? I thought it was an exaggeration but these damned things were everywhere. Best part was, their coffee was excellent.

Brewlesque Espresso
(Note the dancers painted on the shack.)

Mocha House Espresso
(Looks like they couldn't fully commit to the gray paint.)

Coffee Cravings, a Winning Run favorite

Armed with delicious, hot coffee, we set out on a driving tour of the Yakima area to get a feel of what it's like because, frankly, being holed up at a cheap hotel near the interstate doesn't really offer an honest picture of a place. So, for a while, we drove around, looked at things, and tried to get lost. The fog started to lift during the morning, giving us the ability to see some of the surrounding mountains and orchards -- and a bald eagle. We made a point to drive through some of the agricultural areas on the outskirts of town: open range for livestock, apple orchards, vineyards, and hops farms. (My beloved hops! I imagine that in the summer, the wind carries the scent of a double IPA; the notion made me thirsty.)

Trees coated in frozen fog.

After concluding our driving tour of Yakima, we decided to broaden our area. We headed south to visit a winery for a little tasting. Along the way, we managed to get in a stop at a tiny little tourist attraction: The Teapot Gas Station.

The Teapot Gas Station.

After the abbreviated wine tour, we decided to fit in a little more adventure before retiring for the day. We aimed to get to Natches and see a little wildlife before the sun set on us. Since the 1950s, the government has been feeding a herd of elk in an effort to minimize conflicts between landowners and the animals. On the way in, we spotted about 30 elk on a plateau above the highway. We stopped the car to shoot a few photos.

Elk grazing near the highway.

Satisfied with our elk sighting, we headed toward the visitor center. Man, I felt a little foolish when we pulled into the parking lot and looked into the valley in front of us to see hundreds and hundreds of elk. It was Marty Stouffer's wet dream. Not only were elk everywhere but several bald eagles were lurking nearby.

One of many, many elk at the government feeding site.

With the sun and temperature quickly dropping, we jumped in the car and headed back to town.

This morning was, perhaps, the largest snafu of the trip. Our flight from Yakima to Seattle was canceled which, in turn, caused us to miss all of our other connecting flights. So, shortly after the cancellation, we managed to get rebooked on a later flight from Yakima and on the redeye from Seattle. As the Yakima airport is "Wings" tiny, we asked the desk agent, Beth, if there was anyplace to get a bite to eat and kill the 3 hours before our flight. She mentioned that there were a few restaurants nearby and that she'd be happy to give us a ride to one of them when her shift was over in about fifteen minutes. Floored by how friendly she was, we accepted.

Sure enough, fifteen minutes later, Beth from L.A. picked us up and drove us to Miner's, an old hamburger joint, and dropped us off with well wishes for safe travels. Holy crap, the food was great: just a good old hamburger and milkshake (chocolate and fresh banana). Kudos to Rose, who'd worked there since 1970, for helping us navigate the menu and make the best choices.

Winning Run enjoying a shake.

After the gluttony, we killed some time in a bookstore and grabbed a taxi back to the airport to hop our puddle-jumper to Seattle for a seven hour layover. We'd considered heading into Seattle for a quick visit to Pike Place Market but, as we didn't have boarding passes for our flight, we decided to have a few beer and watch the Steelers/Ravens game. After an eternity, we finally got on the flight at 11:00pm PST and began our journey home. Today has been a little rough.

What's Next?
I'm supposed to get a call from the school on the 20th to notify me of their decision. Personally, I think that the interview went really well. Unfortunately, however, I've stopped trusting my feeling on these things. About 70% of the class is to come from the Pacific Northwest, the rest would need to show some great interest in the area that is convincing enough that they'll gamble on you to stay and practice there. More as it unfolds.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Holy crap. The people out here are awesome.

The interview experience was the complete antithesis of the trip down to Florida. Not only was it well-organized but everyone was friendly and genuinely enthusiastic about the program. Students stopped by all day long to meet us and chat. They weren't after a free lunch but just wanted to spread the gospel about their program. Really, the positive energy from the place was great.

The interview itself was smooth. I spoke with two people for about 45 minutes, answering their questions and chatting with them. After, we had a quick lunch and toured the brand-spanking-new facility. Pretty damned cool. Then, I hung around and spoke with many of the other applicants as they waited to have their interviews. The spirit of camaraderie and politeness that I experienced was unbelievable. Hell, I thought I was getting Punk'd or something. Really, where where all the kids jockeying for position in the pissing contest? They weren't here, that's for sure.

Anywho, I'm pretty emotionally spent. I'll know their decision on me in the next couple of days. Yippee. Tomorrow, we go out to explore the area. Photos to follow.

I Thought He Was Kidding

Our voyage to Yakima took place in three legs yesterday: Atlanta to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Seattle, Seattle to Yakima. Our travel time took over twelve hours including layovers but, thanks to Skymiles, the flights only cost us $35 each. Yippee!

When landing in Minneapolis, the pilot announced that it was "20 below" outside. Naturally, this announcement was met by laughter by most everyone on the plane. When I stepped onto the jetway, I suddenly knew that the bastard was telling the truth. Seriously, 20 below? C'mon.

Anywho. We finally made it to the hotel. More on the trip later; at the moment, I'm doing some final prep for the interview.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Today's bit of wisdom comes from a hipster sitting next to me while he got his haircut. He loudly spoke the following words as he got his long, highlighted hair cut into a conservative style prior to the start of his "corporate" job.
"Rock-n-Roll ain't about what you look like;
Rock-n-Roll is about what you do."
Thanks you, Lester Bangs, for those words. Truer ones have never been spoken.

Tomorrow morning, Winning Run and I head out to Yakima, WA for another of my med school interviews. Wish me luck. More as it unfolds.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Big Heartfelt "Thank You"

I'd like to take a moment to wish a big, heartfelt "Thank You" to the person in the YMCA who thoughtfully decided to uncork a putrid fart while standing right in front of an oscillating fan, ensuring maximum dispersion for maximum enjoyment. Strong work there.

Yes, this was the event in my day worthy of a post. Someone please rescue me from me.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Flip the Calendar; It's 2009.

I'm still shaking my head wondering where the hell the past year went. Seems like just yesterday, Winning Run and I were in Rhode Island bringing in the New Year with Dr. J3K, Sandy, and The Captain.

This year, we headed down to Valdosta for a quick visit with Crazy Greg. During a conversation with J3K prior to heading south, we gauged the probability of someone requiring medical care:
"So, what's he got planned?," asked the good doctor.
"Well, he told me that he's been in the timber stand to find a few pine trees to burn. Oh, he mentioned that he's got the golf cart fixed and that we'll be going to Florida to buy a bunch of fireworks."
"Uh oh."
"Yep. Seems like the chances are good that someone's going to lose a hand or an eye."
"Just tell him that if he does the fire right, they'll be able to smell it all the way in Atlanta like a few years ago."
Shortly after arriving, we piled into the Crazy Greg's truck and headed to the Florida line to buy some fireworks. Evidently, we stumbled onto one heck of a year-end sale: Buy One, Get Two Free. At the register, Greg found out that he'd actually gotten about $140 of "free" fireworks.

It's a wonder that fireworks stores don't have a prosthetics aisle.
It really couldn't make the places any more strange or uncomfortable.

After buying the contraband fireworks, we headed back to his place, had a few drinks, ate dinner, and scouted some wood for the bonfire.

As darkness fell, the fire was raging, Georgia Tech was getting their ass handed to them, and everyone anticipated a fireworks show that would make the Beijing Opening Ceremonies look like sparklers at the VFW. The secret to a successful pyrotechnics program is the Magic Black Snake; easily the most terrifyingly awesome firework in existence. The runner up is any type of mortar round. Honestly, it's pretty exhilarating to stuff a cardboard tube with a giant projectile explosive, fumble with a lighter in the darkness to ignite the fuse, and run like hell to a presumed safe distance.


Roman Candle vs. Spark Fountain.

Maintaining safe distance from trees.

Turns out that the evening was much more low key than anticipated. All the promised elements didn't yield any calls to 911 or trips to the hospital. This is, of course, a very good thing. Shortly after the champagne toast at midnight and a few phone calls and text messages, we turned in for the night with eager anticipation of a UGA victory and high hopes for the new year.

Best wishes for a fantastic 2009.