One Day at a Time
Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why Me?

Several weeks ago I found myself face to face with the bourbon-soaked palate of a fellow traveler as I skooched my way past his horn-rimmed glasses and wearied but jubilant façade to my middle seat. I crammed my 200+lb frame into my economy-sized seat and attempted to get lost in the passionate throws of pathology when I was promptly engaged in conversation with my horn-rimmed-framed friend. He was an exceptionally well-dressed man of mild stature with silver hair. Obviously well-versed in the art of dress, he was doffed in a plum-colored shirt that was tailored to his specific build, fitted flat-front charcoal trousers and burgundy wingtips. He spoke with a slight Bayou twang that he’d obviously tried to reinvent over the years, and flighty gestures that seemed playful yet added subtle emphasis to his discourse. Even though I desperately needed to bury my face in my cancer chapter, I really enjoyed talking to this man.

Our conversation ranged just about everywhere one could imagine. Between his sips of bourbon and Coke the man and I covered a variety of popular topics to include his fruitful work as a company CFO, the political landscape as it relates to the upcoming election, fine dinnerware, and hemorrhoids. One might understandably state that the latter two aforementioned topics of conversation are not among those that new acquaintances normally discuss. Of the two, the former focus merely confirmed by suspicion that this man was in fact, a homosexual. Now I’m not one to propagate stereotypes, however, this well-dressed, handsy-talking male individual knew way too much about dishes and couture to not invite my internal questioning. The latter topic was unequivocally provoked by my status as a medical student. My fellow traveler upon noticing my book and realizing that I am a student of medicine wanted to discuss the particularly touchy subject of hemorrhoids. The conversation started off like this:

Him: “Let’s see, you’re reading ‘Pathologic Basis of Disease’, what are you a medical student or something.”

Me: “Why yes I am.”

Him: “Oooh, so I have this friend who has hemorrhoids, what does it say in there about that?”

At this point I’m thinking to myself, “Man I wish someone would’ve told me I have a sign that says ‘world’s biggest idiot’ over my head because that’s what he must think of me if he thinks I’m going to fall for that crap.”

Me: “I don’t know what’s in the book, but I know that you can get them a couple ways. One way is by straining too much on the toilet. Another is getting pregnant, or people with cirrhotic livers get can get them.”

Him: “Oh, what’s a cirrhotic liver?”

Me: “A cirrhotic is like another way of saying that the liver is scarred.”

Him: “Oh, how does that happen?”

Me: “Well in the US, people get it because they drink too much.”

At this point in the conversation, my well-dressed travelling companion made the comment that transformed our relationship from one that remains cordial and polite to one that doesn’t normally exist between people that only met one hour prior to said conversation. For a little over a year my professors have been telling me that when people find out you’re a doctor they’ll start telling you things that they won’t even admit to themselves. Well I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be a doctor to realize that particular truth.

This man’s friend with hemorrhoids was of course actually him, and he proceeded to tell me the intimate details of his case. Apparently his doctor told him that his hemorrhoids would require surgery, and that along with surgery he needed to undergo a serious change in lifestyle, and no I’m talking about any of his extracurricular activities that would relate to him being a homosexual. Almost instantly it became clear to me, this guy was probably an alcoholic (heck he hadn’t stopped drinking from the moment we got on the plane) and he probably already had a grossly cirrhotic liver…not a good thing. Unfortunately he made the mistake of asking a person who has very little clinical experience and who currently spends all of his time memorizing facts about disease what he thinks about his case, and that person was me. So I told him what I thought.

I explained that for all intents and purposes, you need a liver to live (hello-o, they call it a live-r!), and a totally scarred liver that doesn’t work is not compatible with life, or at least life on Earth. My addition that people with this condition either need new livers or they die was met with a lengthy and very awkward silence. Eventually he retorted, “So you’re the kind of person that enjoys inflicting pain.”

So I’m sitting there realizing that I told this guy he has a good chance of dying if he doesn’t stop doing something he obviously enjoys very much. At first I felt really bad about it and wished I could take it back, but then I realized I didn’t really tell this guy something he doesn’t already know. His doctor already told him he needed to stop drinking. Furthermore he’s already drunk himself to a point where he needs surgery in one of the most uncomfortable places a surgeon can take a scalpel to. Consequently, this particular flight was spent learning something that will be a lot more beneficial to me in the long run versus cramming more medical facts in my brain: sometimes people need to hear the brutal truth to finally make a change that’ll do them some good.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Fall Horoscopes

Hi everyone! The school paper had me write some horoscopes for the fall season, something I've never done before so take a look and let me know if I have a future. There's only four because that's all they had me tough luck if you're missing. Oh, and they're kind of specific to the school, but still enjoyable if you don't go there.


The start of the new school year for you is an opportunity to do all of those wonderful little things that the University has to offer. So like a Thoroughbred with its haunches lit on fire you start out the gate at a frenzied pace and join every club, group, and activity you can seem to muster. Impending doom and certain burn-out awaits you in the month of October as you have effectively spread yourself so thin you feel like a brown paper bag trying to fend off a jackhammer. Not to worry though, as All Hallow’s Eve draws near, you rekindle your reverent verve in the form of preparations for a substantial Halloween bash by compiling playlists, carving celebrity faces into pumpkins, and telling all your friends what costumes are in and which ones are most definitely out this Halloween season. After some over-indulgence on butterbeer and Abba-Zabba, November is a time to get reacquainted with those cross-trainers. We don’t want to enter a healthfully detrimental holiday season already looking like Dr. McFlabby now do we?


New relationships are indubitably in store for you this fall season. With a whole new crop of aspiring physicians being indoctrinated in to the glamorous world of military medicine, there are many new connections to be made. But watch out, with all of these new people come a whole crop of secrets that will make you feel so dirty you’ll want to run to the Hills of Beverly for a discounted full body chemical peel…keep them to yourself! Don’t be too worried about going crazy in the weekends leading up to your birthday, you’ll want to save your energy for a long night keg stands, floor pounding, and some ever presently possible streaking. Come late Oct – early Nov a rumor will start circulating about you that is as extravagantly malevolent as it is counterfactual. Do not be shy about confronting the perpetrators. As Jack Frost makes his entrance take some time to indulge in the occasional outdoor activity with that special someone…but watch the PDA!


Caught up in a Ron Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone-like fairytale, you find yourself hopelessly in love to open the school year. Spending a little extra time primping before that 0730 lecture and your mind wandering off into a land of gumdrop wishes and jellybean dreams is fine, but until all of those little habits that you find cute turn into isms that make your skin crawl, try and remember that you need to pass your classes. This year Halloween has turned in to a major priority with the planning and preparing that begins as early as Oct 1st this year. Don’t get too worked up over it or you won’t have enough energy to enjoy the ice sculpture of Dr. MacDonald in a pirate costume you special-ordered for this year’s gala. Approaching the culmination of an eventful fall equinox, that significant other starts to act so shady that he or she doesn’t seem so significant anymore. This is an especially appropriate occasion to have a lively discourse with the person in question and decide if it might be time to say adieu.


The foray back to school this fall season is everything but a delightful experience for you this time around. As depression officially sets in, raising the titanic without an air tank might as well be an easier task than sitting down and studying. Surround yourself with your closest friends and family to help you through this troublesome little blip. Spending an inordinate amount of cash on that perfect Halloween leaves you in some fiscal trouble for the month of November. You need cash fast so why not try something new? Perhaps the National Zoo could use a new pooper scooper, and of course sniffing some armpits down at the local odor testing plant never hurt anyone. As the holidays draw near you start having doubts about your love life. These doubts could be any number of things ranging from the level of commitment of your better half to inquests about your own sexuality. Whatever the case may be, take some time for serious reflection over the holiday season.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Weddings vs. The Killers

Back in early April of this year of Our Lord, I was faced with a small predicament, fairly insignificant to the outside onlooker, but a predicament nonetheless. About a month or two prior to said incident, I, like most other heterosexual males, became “interested” in a female. The person in question is a very likable person and we were acquaintances before “friendly” interested propagated into “temporally” interested. She’s adorable, has a great sense of humor, independently ambitious (I think), but somewhat of a princess…well…she’s probably benignly interested in becoming American royalty, but I was still taken by her. Anyway, we were participating in a weekly to two times weekly rendezvous and regular conversations over the phone both conversationally and textually when our relationship got to a point where she found it appropriate to ask me to attend a wedding with her for a family friend. During this inquiry she deftly pointed out that we would be presenting ourselves as friends at this momentous occasion. Without even a second thought about it, I exuberantly agreed to provide my friendly escorting services.

Maybe about a month before I was to travel to this nuptial rite, I was sitting in my living room with several of my friends and we were talking about a concert that we were excited to rock-out at. Now, this wasn’t just any concert, this was The Killers, possibly the greatest band of our generation, and we were fishing out the details of this show that we’d planned on attending for a several months in advance. During this extremely important discourse, I was asked when I would be going to “the wedding”, and I said, “well it’s on so and so” and they’re like, “you realize of course that’s when The Killers concert is!” Instantaneously I felt the absurd enormity of simultaneous shock and horror as all the blood drained from my face and outer extremities. I had officially made THE blunder to top all blunders; I agreed to go to a wedding where I would certainly be acquainted with no more than one other person when I was supposed to be at my favorite band’s concert with three of my best friends. Like a programmed assassin with no other choice I systematically and instantly executed the only action that seemed and still seems appropriate, I texted my lady friend and told her I would be unable to render my services after all.

I am no idiot, and I was fully aware that this action would elicit possible physically harmful consequences. Well, I might as well have called Zeus himself and asked for the thunder because that is precisely what I got. Needless to say, the subsequent replies were understanding…pause NOT, and she basically told me that she didn’t care to make my acquaintance any longer.

I’d rather not wax philosophical about who was right and what the actual proper course of action would have been (it was taken so there’s really no argument), but I can certainly understand why she would be upset with me. Despite the curtailing of one union, my feelings for The Killers have never been stronger as that show was the finest display of rockmanship I have ever witnessed. I can honestly say that this lady friend at first was missed, but I can also honestly say that I have no regrets because that concert was freakin’ awesome!
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Bathroom Etiquette

I’m sorry to say that the world we live in is in a state of extravagant ethical and moral decay…and the illustrious government and upper crust of our own US of A seems to be doing nothing about many issues facing the world today. One such problem facing our Mother Earth is the possibly cataclysmic situation involving global warming. As the planet’s average temperatures rise, impending threats to the world as we know it grow more and more ominous while the US government makes no substantial moves to thwart this very troubling trend. In addition, millions of people around the globe suffer from famine, genocide, displacement (just to name a few), while the great minds of this country sit idly by. Admittedly so, these are ample problems that are diverse and involve a wide array of stakeholders. But the principle that I am trying to illustrate is this country’s lack of action on many dilemmas, not just the global ones. Which brings me to the topic in question, and that is this country’s serious lack of bathroom etiquette training for our young people.

Allow me to illustrate my frustration. On a normal digestive day, I like to steal my morning glory ten to fifteen minutes after my morning meal. I walk in the head on a full stomach after a filling morning mastication and find a beautiful sight…a shimmering row of no less than five unoccupied stalls from which I may choose to conduct my post-banquet business. Naturally I pick the enclosure furthest from the door in the corner and take my place. I’m not sitting there for more than ten seconds (which is just enough time for me to take my phone out and begin a mass text in which I will describe in great length the size, shape, and color of my putrefaction to all of my friends) that someone walks in the door behind me and decides that out of the remaining four carrels from which to choose that he absolutely must go with the one right next to my chosen abode. Isolated incident you ask? Not in the least. I would say this is an event that occurs at least twice during the work day where I find myself swarmed by amateur community bathroom users in the urinal and toilet domains of the men’s room.

Of course I do not know the female’s feelings on the topic nor will I even make a slight attempt at understanding ovarian activities when it comes to bathroom usage because I will never have the slightest idea of what it happening in the cranium of a non-Y-chromosome-carrying homo sapien. However, whether it’s a lack of elderly male instruction (can be a father, brother, uncle, friend, stranger…whoever), male bathroom decorum is very remiss, and in my opinion is one of the most pressing issues facing America in this day and age.
Some people reading this may be asking themselves what is this bathroom etiquette this buffoon so adamantly hails as a necessary observance by the modern American? For this I will refer you to the following site for a comprehensive account of acceptable bathroom behavior: I merely hope to spur a small contingent of observance for this disturbing phenomenon so that awareness may spread across this great nation of ours. Together we can make a difference!
Friday, June 15, 2007
A Day in Paradise
I was reading an article from Page 2 on the other day about a site that basically has the box score from every baseball game ever played. The author of said article urged his audience to visit this site and look up the first major league game you ever went to because at least for him, it invoked feelings of extreme sentimentality. Well my sentimentality only goes so far so instead of making the two clicks to look up my first ballgame, I just thought about it for a fleeting moment. I actually didn’t go to my first real major league game until I was 15 years old. Arizona didn’t get its Diamondbacks until the summer of 1997, although I did frequent Cactus league play when the boys of summer came to town for spring training.

When I was a freshman in high school, my dad informed me that we were going to move to Minnesota because of his job. To make a long story short, he spent the following year in an apartment away from his family because he is a man’s man and I was a snot-nosed brat who couldn’t bear to spend a year away from his beloved Valley of the Sun. Anyway, in the summer of my sophomore year, I flew out there to spend some time with him and catch some ballgames. So the kid from Arizona watched his first major league baseball game at the Metrodome and saw the Twins get trounced by the Indians and Albert Belle’s two bombs. However, the real reason for this look in to my teenage years is the day after, when we flew to Chicago to see the Cubs play at Wrigley. Like many people who watched WGN when they were growing up, the Cubbies were my favorite team even though I had never stepped foot in Chicago or even the American Midwest for that matter. Hey, it was either them or the Braves over on TBS, but the Cubs win out every time solely because Harry Caray botched Take Me Out To The Ballgame every freakin’ day (Take me out to the awwwl game…).

So my heroes growing up were the likes of Mark Grace, Andre “the Hawk” Dawson, Shawon “Riflearm” Dunston, and my mostest favorite player of all time, Ryne Sandberg. I gotta tell you I was literally a kid in a candy store when we finally arrived at Clark and Addison and finally saw the big red sign with my own eyes. Pure magnificence. We walked up to the ticket booth, acquired two box seats and walked in. The first order of business for a man the size of my dad is food of course. I had a slice of sausage pizza and he had a Philly cheesesteak. It took less than a bite for us to agree that the Wrigley Field kitchen is directly linked to Heaven. Our seats were down the third base line, about even with the bag and maybe 10 rows back (I wish I had the ticket stub, which I still have, with me so I knew exactly where). Ryno and Gracie were both in the Cubs lineup for the day so I was immediately satisfied, but what made this particular game even more rad was the fact that the Cardinals were in town and it was Ozzie Smith’s last year so he was on his retirement tour. Lucky for me, he was actually in the lineup that day (if you remember, the Wizard didn’t get much playing time that year and it’s still such a point of contention that he still refuses to join the Cardinals coaching staff until La Russa leaves the ballclub).

Lately I’ve been going to a lot of games at Fenway Park because I’m getting ready to move away from Boston. Fenway is widely regarded as the best place to watch a ballgame. I disagree. Fenway is the second best place to watch a ballgame, Wrigley being number one. I was amazed at how small the field looked compared to my afternoon WGN viewings. What also makes a Wrigley game a very pleasurable experience is that not only are the fans in to the game the whole way through, but they actually seem to like their players even when they don’t play very well (something you’re not gonna get used to with the Fenway faithful).

The Cubbies didn’t have much to offer that notable day, but Smith was masterful in the field and Turk Wendell hit me in the head with a piece of Dubble Bubble. After the game, Dad and I rode the L back to the airport and flew back to the Mini Apple. But that day is highly regarded in my 26-year history as one of the best days of my life, and I do think about it often because I haven’t had many others like it.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
A Word to the Wise!

Tonight is tonight...Tomorrow is tomorrow.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Dodos vs. Dodos
This musing is my personal blunder in a concerted attempt to not share a bit of opinion on a somewhat controversial topic in the world today. Alas, as in the famous words of Darth Vader, my failure is complete, you shall now witness the true power of the Dark Side! Anyway, Showtime recently started showing a very interesting documentary about the controversy surrounding the Intelligent Design(ID)/Evolution debate called A Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus. All in all, the film does a good job explaining the controversy surrounding the above debate because it makes the argument accessible to most audiences by showing both sides of the controversy and illustrates them very well. Where the film’s true success lies is in its ability to spur a larger population to unbiased thinking on what can be a very passionate topic for many people for various reasons. For me personally, not only did it reconfirm some of my already unwavering points of views (which are few and far between), but it also opened a whole other can of worms in terms of where some other viewpoints, regardless of how asinine they might seem to some people, do have a place in education.

The current ID/Evolution debate is centered in the goings-on of several state school boards around the country, the most notable being the board of the great state of Kansas. Proponents of ID are presently saying that they just want to make sure that the ‘theory’ of Intelligent Design at least be introduced in public school science classes when the ‘theory’ of Evolution is presented and taught. Even though they aren’t saying that they want the Theory of Intelligent Design taught as an actual topic in science classes, this still causes a multitude of problems for evolutionary biologists and scientific thinkers.

The first big…BIG problem is calling both concepts theories. For scientists, this implies that both topics can arguably be debated at the same level. Agreeing with this assumption is a good way to really piss off the majority of the scientific community because evolution, while there are still many holes in linking ancestral developing organisms to the current crop of the “fittest” survivors, there is still a ton of evidence that you can touch and feel that is based in years and years of research that thousands of scientists in the world agree to be natural law. In addition, if you ask any one of these members of the scientific community about evolution and how it works, you’re going to basically get the same answer from all of them. *Interesting side note: I recently read an article in National Geographic about Carl Linnaeus (the guy who used plants back in the 1700s to develop an effective taxonomic species-classification system that is actually still in use today), and apparently biologists are very close to linking every single organism that has existed on the planet to the LUCA, or the Last Universal Common Ancestor (the little guy that everything organic on the planet can call great grandpa times a zillion).

I digress. Now compare evolution to ID, a concept that is entirely based on human intuition and will not garner a common answer when probing its foremost experts. Science is based on fact and evidence. Science class is for science. I’m sure everyone remembers their first day of science class and you learned to attack a problem by coming up with a hypothesis, generating alternative solutions, testing them, and making a conclusion based on the results. Unfortunately, the ID concept doesn’t make it past the hypothesis stage because it’s untestable…where is any evidence that can be tested? Therefore, it probably doesn’t belong in science textbooks or science classrooms, but it does have a place in education and I’ll get to that later.

Another problem that the teaching of ID presents for evolutionists is that it presents a way of looking at the natural world that shunts analytical thinking. “The world in its complexity is just way too variable to be able to be explained by evolution alone,” is an example of what an ID proponent might say. A hardcore biologist would respond to this comment by saying that this way of thinking is just plain lazy. I can agree with that statement (although I wouldn’t be as harsh) because from the point of view of a scientist, it’s basically conjuring a simple answer as an explanation for an incredibly complex area of study. In Flock of Dodos, an ID proponent who sits on the Kansas public school board is interviewed. She says that she can’t possibly believe that one day a lungfish decided to walk ashore and live on land. I have to admit that I laughed at this very nice woman and immediately felt bad for having done so, but that is a basic misunderstanding of how natural selection works. Even if you are joking when making that comment, the mindset is still there, and the attitude of simplistic answers for diverse areas of questioning is easily scattered amongst and absorbed by the young minds being taught in these very schools. The jettison of critical thinking in American schools should be the topic of outrage of not only parents and educators, but also anyone who cares about the development of the country.

Obviously, I don’t think the teaching or even the mentioning of ID belongs anywhere near science classes, but I do think it belongs in education. The current American youth is the most informed generation in the history of American youths. This will always be the case. The inquiring mind has access to ANY information that can be made into electrons. Kids will find out about this whole ID/Evolution thing going on, and it’s the job of parents and educators to make sure they get the facts straight. Admittedly, the most likely place for this to come up is in biology class when they open their books and see a picture of Charles Darwin and they ask, “Teacher, teacher, why does the Discovery Institute hate the Galapagos Islands?” I sure as hell hope that teacher is able to equip that student with the right tools to think about the issue for him or herself rather than letting that individual blindly accept one side or the other.

So here’s where I get on my soapbox if I’m not up there already. This is where America is seriously lacking in this day and age…education. The majority of America’s youth is behind the power curve in comparison to the rest of the developed world, especially when it comes to mathematics and science. It may seem like a problem that is solitarily effectuated by the school systems that are currently in place. True, there are school boards out there with people like the lungfish lady sitting on them, but these aren’t the only responsible parties. When you look at the isolated case of ID vs. Evolution, ID seems to be winning the battle even though the majority of the scholastic community finds it a preposterous decision to teach it alongside Darwin. A big influence on this situation is that ID folks are backed by charismatic, business-minded organizational leaders with Mariana’s Trench-like pockets. So where are the scientists?

When invited to the debate, evolutionary biologists don’t show up. It’s not that they didn’t get that memo Mr. Lumbergh, it’s that they refuse to acknowledge that there is even a debate. I for one can see where they are coming from. In looking at their fields of expertise and what they do from day to day, why would you acknowledge that there is an equally contradictory theory with an arguably mystical basis? If I’ve spent the last thirty yeas in a crater in the middle of the Gobi Desert taking and comparing the forelimb measurements of fossilized cockroaches that are 100 ft under the modern level of stratified rock and then writing 500-page papers with the off chance that it might be published after competing for a government grant against 50 other guys doing the same thing for my next dig with, I’m not going. Even if you could get a self-respecting biologist to the debate, it would be over after the first question based solely on the fact that biologists and other scientists suck at communicating. Scientists are stubborn, socially uncouth, and hopelessly unable to use words with less than 5 syllables assembled in sentences that can be wrapped around the equator 10 times using Times New Roman font size 12. You think the average person wants to spend more than 10 minutes in a closed space with the individual described above to actually learn about something?

Anyway, I think I’m done. I’ve opined enough and will now leave you to the sweet escape of top boob and farting.

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Location: Bethesda, MD

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