Saturday, January 28, 2006

Kill Inn

I'm not a huge fan of horror movies (although I love movies about the inevitable zombiepocalypse) for two reasons: (1) stuff is always jumping out at the soon to be gruesomely eviscerated main characters and (2) the aforementioned protagonists always do really stupid things that then get them killed in really stupid ways. Horror movie stupidity is funny until you do it.
This week I had to take my second set of boards (Step 2 CK) the nearest test center is in Peoria. After getting directions to the test facility I had to find a hotel. After being mysteriously rejected from making reservations on, I finally managed to secure a hotel three or so miles from where I needed to be Friday morning via Orbitz. It was rated at two stars and was reasonably priced at about $60. It was called Kill Inn.
Just kidding, but it did start with a K! Anyway I drove to Peoria and after missing a turn finally found my hotel. It was right across from a shiny Marriot Suites. You know in the old cartoons where they show the "good" house and the "bad" one. Well Kill Inn was the one with the big clouds, lightening striking it, and bats flying out of it. There were two beaters in the lot and all the lights were out except for the office. It was several shades darker here than across the street at the Marriot Suites. Behind my chosen hotel the night swallowed some sort of bombed out industrial area. As I approached the front door a disheveled black man smoking a cigarette opened the door and flicked ash out. He muttered a greeting and held the door open, so I followed him past the numerous posted "NO SMOKING SIGNS". He shuffled up to the desk and gave the night manager a TV remote.
The night manager was a diminutive, pale fellow with Coke bottle glasses askew on his head. A new band-aid was precariously attached above his right eyebrow. As the myopic manager fiddled with the remote, I was able to inspect my fellow guest, the illiterate smoker. He was covered in names tattooed on his neck and arms, all done in the same dark blue shade of prison ink. With new batteries in the remote he shuffled off and I was able to check in. I was the first Orbitz customer to visit Kill Inn. As I left another guest, an obese Hispanic man with an entire novel in Gothic script permanently inscribed on his skin came to the desk. With at least two minority guests and a night manager I knew I would buy it no sooner than fourth, which reassured me greatly.
I drove around to the back of Kill Inn and proceeded upstairs to my room, there were at least three other guests by the number of heaps parked in the back lot. As I opened the door, I smelt the sour odor of drying paint. A chill brushed across my face and the curtains flickered, so I crossed the room and closed the window. The room was quite clean, mostly I suspect from the fact that it'd been remodeled quite recently to cover up a triple homicide of semi-nude prostitutes or something equally morbid. The clock radio was analog and looked like it was heavy enough to be the murder weapon. After watching some television (sterilely bagging the remote) and snacking, I called it a night. I hoped to either get enough sleep for my exam or to present an easy target for Norman Bates' nearsighted little brother downstairs so that I wouldn't have to take it.
I dragged the luggage rack in front of the door, since I could probably floss with the chain lock. As I was drifting off to sleep, a voice spoke to me, uttering some guttural gibberish. I was prying my fingers and toes out of the ceiling when I realized the noise of the television had masked that the sound proofing of the balsa wood walls only made people sound demonic rather than blocking them out. Satisfied that I did not need to perform an exorcism, I settled myself comfortably and sleep began to crawl upon me.
I drifted off and was rudely brought to consciousness by loud if good rap suddenly emanating throughout the room. I started to shrug off the covers and get ready to get up, hit snooze and drop off again. Which would be a little difficult as I hadn't set a radio alarm. After a little confused banging and tugging on the murderous clock it shut up. Presumably sometime after that I woke to cars pealing out of the lot, most likely my fellow guests escaping an axe murderer. Maybe my imminent demise had jumped up a few notches from slot number four.
When the alarm on my cell phone awoke me, I struggled to get ready then staggered out to my car. I drove to the front desk, where an amazed day manager accepted my room key. Apparently he had not expected anyone to be alive enough to checkout. And then the real horror began, I sat for a 9 hour Step exam.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Five Phrases That Make Graduate Students Cringe

"Let's set up a meeting"
Translation: I'm either bored, trying to justify my salary, or going to deliver some really bad news. In any case I'm going to waste your time and accomplish nothing.

"This is an opportunity for you."
Translation: I don't want to do this scut work.

"You should know this."
Translation: You are an undereducated fool. Being highly insecure and worried that you are smarter than me I chose to be flippant rather than helpful. To me mentoring means use a mistake to belittle you rather than teach you.

"This is an easy experiment."
Translation: I was sitting in my office and had a spontaneous delivery of oxygen and caffeine to my brain which then mated with some inherent lunacy producing this "hypothesis". Unfortunately, I spent less than five minutes thinking this out, have not actually physically performed a successful bench work experiment in over a decade, and will promptly forget about this idea after my next meal. In the meantime work yourself to the bone as I complain about how long it takes you to finish this "simple" project and present me with the results of an experiment whose hypothesis I will then disregard as utter madness.

"This is a quick paper."
Translation: My tenure is in jeopardy, I need publications now despite the lack of funding, data, laboratory manpower, or a literate grasp of the English language. That and the fact that my turn around time for editing your manuscripts is 6 to 12 months.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006 Goals

Happy New Year! I think (and many motivational speakers, management consultants, and the like agree) that setting goals is great way to develop one's fullest potential. The new year seems to be a fitting time to do it (and procrastinate from studying). Here it goes:
This year
  • 1/4/06 -- Pass the USMLE Step 2 CS.
  • 1/27/06 -- Bang out an astronomically sensational score on the USMLE Step 2 CK. I'm shooting for a minimum score of 102.5%
  • Spring 2006 -- Earning outstandings in my remaining rotations: family medicine, emergency medicine (surgery elective), and pediatrics. Not going to do them for a living (most likely) so I might as well take advantage of the experience and give it my all.
  • June/July 2006 -- Perform amazingly during my visiting student clerkships in interventional radiology and neuroradiology. Convince programs that I can handle their residency program while saving Universe.
  • August 2006 -- Start my (off-cycle) residency training as part the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign Residency Program in Internal Medicine. My first "real" job (aside from saving Universe)!
  • Fall 2006 -- Apply/interview for Vascular and Interventional Radiology DIRECT Pathway programs. Given the miracles I will have to have performed up until this point, the application process will be a cinch.
  • Publish work done with my students Josh and Amir.

In 5 years

In 10 years
  • Completed residency and fellowship training, working at an academic medical center.

And of course also meet my martial arts / combat sports goals.