Thursday, March 27, 2008

Going Green (Baby Steps)

So recently, I've been thinking more about trying to reduce our impact on the environment. I'm kind of at the level of the typical American consumer, currently, so I'm at a place where some of the changes I'm trying to make are relatively easy. I recycle whatever I can, although unfortunately our curb-side recycling is very limited, so I end up driving to the recycling center fairly often. I will save plastic bottles or soda cans all day in my purse so I can take them home and recycle them; if I don't, I feel terribly guilty.

Part of my concern is for the amount of stuff ending up in landfills. I think eventually I'll start worrying more about the content of what products I use, but for now I'm trying to limit the amount I throw away. And believe me, we throw away a lot of stuff. My husband and I have a serious fast food habit, and combined with my iced tea habit, I use a ton of fast food cups. Most of them are Styrofoam or plastic #6, neither of which are recyclable (at least not here). I've started pondering ways to avoid throwing away so many cups.

What I'd like best doesn't seem to exist in the form I'd like. I want a reusable plastic cup in the same shape as most fast-food to-go cups (so it fits in my car cup holder). It could be a different material--it doesn't have to be plastic--but plastic would be relatively inexpensive. I guess I can start using my Nalgene bottle for this purpose, but as I now do so much driving, trying to unscrew the cap while driving isn't terribly safe. Many other forms of reusable bottles for sale (like these) are built in a similar fashion. A narrow-mouth bottle wouldn't be convenient for filling with ice and water in a fast-food situation; a wide-mouth bottle with only a screw-off lid has no straw for easy drinking. If anyone finds a cup that fits all these requirements, let me know.

We had the little squiggly lightbulbs in our apartment; we haven't had a chance yet to replace all the bulbs here in the house, but it's in the plans. I'm actually thinking about doing a composting experiment in the backyard, too. We have plenty of dog poo to add to the pile, and food which goes to waste, so why not?

I think a lot of what I'm looking at is how wasteful we are. I'm looking at a to-go container for a sandwich I took home yesterday from a restaurant. It's a clear plastic container, made of #6 plastic. This is going straight in a landfill. Most other to-go containers we get are styrofoam, which is also going in a landfill.

I've started using reusable shopping bags, but it's harder than I thought. I never seem to have them on me when I go to the store for large grocery trips; sometimes I have one in my purse for the quick trip, but sometimes I don't. Sometimes the cashier uses plastic bags before I realize what has happened. I still have piles of plastic bags under my sink; fortunately, a local grocery store has a bin for recycling plastic bags. Not everyone is so considerate; there are dumped plastic bags all over the countryside out here.

I'm not quite to this level, though: apparently, they make reusable menstrual pads and "cups". I'm not so sure about this, personally. That's just more gross than I'm currently willing to do.

I'm only taking baby steps here so far. The truly green will probably laugh at some of my efforts, because we're still definitely "consumerists" and will probably remain so. We have to start somewhere, though.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Match Day

So yesterday, 3/20/08, was Match Day for most fourth year medical students. At my school, we showed up for a class picture at 10:30 am, then were herded to a cramped outdoor location. The dean gave a speech while everyone twitched anxiously. They finally started reading off names and each student would push their way through the crowd, grab their envelope, and drop a dollar into the basket (a raffle for the last name called). I waited with my friends forEVer, then finally bobbed and weaved my way through the crowd to get my envelope. I made it back to my friends and took the required pictures of me with my envelope, then held it up to the sun for another photo op.

Except in my case, I actually was able to read the program name (backwards and upside down) through the envelope. I immediately burst into tears.

It was Top Choice Program.

I had to tear open the envelope with everyone else to be SURE, but it was still there, on the paper. You have matched with TCP. I confirmed that it was my name on the paper, and cried some more. My husband hugged me fiercely, rubbing my head and telling me "I told you so!"--probably the one time in his life when I'd let him say that to me. I squealed with my friends and hugged people and took more pictures and cried some more and eventually called my parents and one of my grandmothers and texted some friends and walked around finding classmates to celebrate with and finally settled down long enough to get some food and eat.

For my class, the news was mostly good, but there were a few people who had to scramble, or matched into a program they're not happy with, etc. At least one couple who tried to couples match ended up on opposite sides of the country. One person tried to match surgery and ended up in pathology. One tried to match OB/Gyn and didn't make it. Several ended up deferred or taking prelim spots to try again next year. For a few, the news wasn't good.

For me and most of my close friends, though, the news was great. It was so awesome to see my friends so happy, to learn where they're going next year (and therefore, where I'll need to go visit), and to congratulate them on their accomplishment. They're all going to be great doctors in their various fields, and I look forward to saying "Why, of course I know a great anesthesiologist/ internist/ neurologist/ OB-Gyn/ pediatrician/ radiologist/ surgeon/ urologist, etc. in X town, I went to school with them."

It was a great day.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Got Dinged

A friend dinged me for not posting today. It's true, I haven't been spending much time blogging or reading blogs lately. Somehow, even though my days are fairly easy--only a few hours of lecture a day--the new strains that commuting puts on my time somehow chip away at my time to play around on the internet willy-nilly. So sad.

Last week, I was pondering a great topic to post about. I even told my friends, Hey, I'm going to post about this, I think it would be awesome. And then I promptly forgot what I was going to post about. It was a fascinating, deep topic, and it's gone forever. Actually, it probably wasn't that great, but it still sucks that I forgot.

So instead, I'm going to write about the best lecture we've had so far in our "Transition to Residency" month.

Yesterday during a leisurely lunch outside under the trees, enjoying one of the last months of nice weather here in the jungle, we consulted our schedule to see what useless lecture we'd be attending at 1 pm. The lectures have generally been getting better, but overall they're nothing to call home about. Anyway, we checked our schedule, and we see a lecture titled "Diarrhea". Most of these lectures begin with "Approach to the Patient With...", but not this one. Short but sweet--"Diarrhea." Since I have a five-year-old's sense of humor, I burst into song.

"When you're drivin' in a Chevy, and you feel somethin' heavy, Diarrhea! *clap clap* Diarrhea! *clap clap*"

A few of us took turns recalling verses we knew to the song. Then, lunch hour was over and we walked into the lecture hall, only to find that our lecturer was already present. He was messing with the computer and pulling up his powerpoint presentation. I pulled out my Sudoku book and prepared for the usual, when a friend called for my attention. "Hey--look at the screen!"

I looked up to the screen to see the lecturer had pulled up YouTube and had clicked on a video. A video called "The Diarrhea Song." I didn't even know that this song had been used in this movie, but he played a little clip for us. Throughout his lecture, he'd throw in "favorite phrases" from the song, referenced from this blog: Who knew that someone actually created a blog in honor of the Diarrhea Song?

The remainder of his lecture was actually quite good, and he took pity on us for having to be there (he showed us pictures of himself snowboarding as a lazy fourth year med student). My favorite part, though, was definitely the poop jokes.

Just goes to show, 'The real money's in the dick and fart jokes.' Or, med students are five year olds, and we are all still amused by poop. Or maybe it's just me.

*This post brought to you by the Diarrhea Song!*

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Coasting on Out

Today marked the beginning of a month dubbed "Transition to Residency". We had a relatively useless panel of residents talk about why we should be married ("so your wife can help with the stuff at home that needs to get done"--yes, that one was from a surgeon), then an hour break spent at Starbucks chillin', then an hour long lecture on fever. It was supposed to be "Approach to the Patient With Fever", which implies (to me) that there will be some diagnostic workup & treatment involved. Instead, we had an hour long lecture on "The Myths of Fever" from a disgruntled pedi ER attending bitching about stupid parents ("they actually thought that a fever of 104 was harmful! They'll beg you to treat their child!") and a lot of information about rectal vs oral vs axillary thermometers. Gag me. Tomorrow, more of the same, so I'm taking a book and possibly some Sudoku just in case.

All anyone can talk about is THE MATCH. Those few lucky individuals who had to slave to early match are now the envy of everyone else in the room. We've been informed of the plan for what I've called "Matched or Not Day", which is March 17: those persons who are not matched will receive a page at 10:30 am, while we're all in a mandatory lecture together. People who aren't comfortable with this scenario can ask to be on a "Do Not Page" list, so they'll get a phone call at some point during the morning. My group of friends has made a solemn pact not to page or call ANYONE during these hours. Still, though, the poor bastards who have to scramble the next day will be conspicuously absent from the day's mandatory lectures, and it certainly won't be very confidential.

The dynamic is unusual. Everyone who has yet to match is very tense. There are terse jokes about "the walk of shame" if you were to be paged on "MoND", and much discussion about the intricacies of the rank order list system. ("So, if they're my second choice program, and they rank me, and I don't match at my top choice program, but if this other guy ranks them #1, but the program ranks me above that guy, who gets the spot?"--this was an actual conversation earlier). There are also comparisons to others about who has the right to be more anxious: "you shouldn't be worried, your program called you, but I should be worried." Then the other party tries to justify their anxiety: "Yeah, but I only ranked 3 programs, there's always a chance that I won't match and will have to scramble for a prelim medicine spot and try again next year." Everyone is secretly convinced that everyone else has nothing to worry about (we know our friends and how good they are) but that they, personally, will not match and be laughed at. If I weren't caught up in it, I'd be totally amused.

In a "last hurrah", the gossip swirling this month is a hark back to the first two years of medical school, when the rumor mills churned all the time. "Did you hear about that girl who failed the intubation practical? Yeah, she had the blades upside down and kept insisting she was doing it right! Ha!" "Did you hear about this guy who's telling everyone he matched into xxx at yyy? I hear he didn't actually match yet, he still has to interview for it, but he's telling everyone he matched!"

And last, it's good to see everyone one last time. There are women who've gestated babies and delivered them in the time since I saw them last and I didn't even know they were pregnant! It's also nice to hang out with my friends for this time, since most of them will be moving away soon.

Should be a good month--too bad they're ruining it with lectures.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Just So I Don't Forget

Thanks for the supportive comments, and a special thanks to my friend for allowing me to call and vent last night. I really needed to talk girlie stuff and cry over my stupidity and get some comfort--all of which was given and then some. Thanks.

And yes, I certainly hope that karma catches up with people who feel that it's okay to place international phone calls on someone else's phone, even when that person was idiotic enough to lose it. Is it okay to wish genital herpes on such people? Does that make me vindictive?

Ah, who cares. A plague on both your houses and HSV-2 on both your genitalia.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Cell Phone Saga

I shouldn't be allowed to own a cell phone, seriously. A few months ago, I famously dropped my cell phone into the toilet prior to sitting down. I had to call the cell phone insurance people to replace my crappy RAZR with another crappy RAZR, since I was a few months shy of being able to replace the phone and get the huge discounts I needed.

The day before Valentine's Day, my cell phone went missing (see my last post). The next day, I was in the middle of calling around to various Lost & Founds when I decided to check my bill online. Lo and behold, someone was using my phone to call Matamoros, Mexico. I promptly called my provider, canceled the phone, and went to the store, where I was able to purchase a new, beautiful PDA phone. It was a little inconvenient, as we were in the middle of moving into our new house, but I was able to get an awesome new phone with the discounts.

The new phone is a bit large, and didn't fit into many of my pockets (girl pockets are small). I spent the past several days researching expensive phone cases on the internet because there is a paucity of accessories for this brand new phone model. I hadn't been able to purchase one yet, though, because the options were limited.

This afternoon, I was out when I realized I didn't have my cell phone on me. I must have left it in the car, I thought, and didn't worry about it. When we got home, I glanced in my car, but there was no phone. It must be on the counter, I thought, but it wasn't on the counter. It wasn't in my purse, it wasn't in the jacket I wore last night, or my pants pockets from last night. Panicking now, I realized the last time I'd seen it was last night when we went to eat, prior to going to Best Buy. I called the restaurant, but no one had turned in a cell phone. I called the phone, but it went straight to my voice mail.

Feeling an awful sense of deja vu, I checked my bill online. No calls to Matamoros today; instead, some asshole has been calling El Salvador with my phone, as well as half of the US.


I just sat down and cried for a while. I simultaneously felt stupid, ashamed, sick, furious, and kind of violated. How could this happen twice? How could I be so retarded? What the hell is wrong with these people? Seriously, if I found a cell phone my first instinct would not be to begin placing international phone calls.

The phone has now been canceled again, and a new phone is on its way. Fortunately, the insurance covered this phone, but since they just replaced the toilet phone they're kicking me off the insurance for a year after this. I can't say I blame them--I think I've proven that I'm not a good risk for an insurance company.

The best part of the whole experience: after taking care of everything with the insurance agent on the phone, he says "oh, this phone is Bluetooth capable and we're running a great deal on our Bluetooth headsets--would you be interested in hearing more?" I could only laugh. I just paid upwards of $250 for this new phone and a car charger (I just sent off my rebate paperwork yesterday), I'm now paying a $50 deductible that I wasn't anticipating in order to get YET ANOTHER new freaking phone, and I just spent $45 online to get a nice case to keep it scratch-free + close to me with a wrist strap. Um, I really cannot afford to hear your great offer on the Bluetooth headset, but thanks.