Sunday, April 11, 2010

How We Decide Part 1

Over spring break I read this:

I intended to read it back in January hoping to gain some insight and perhaps figure out how I could make a decision already and pick a cussing residency. I didn't come up in the library queue until a few weeks ago just before I left for the Midwest and the book's content turned out to be uncannily apropos:

"Even though pundits are trained professionals, presumably able to evaluate the evidence and base their opinions on the cold, hard facts -- that's why we listen to them -- they are still vulnerable to cognitive mistakes. Like partisan voters, they selectively interpret the data so that it proves them right. They'll distort their thought process until it leads to the desired conclusion." - p. 207

"In other words, ignore those commentators that seem too confident or self-assured. The people on television who are most certain are almost certainly going to be wrong." - p. 209

"When you see a painting, you usually know instantly and automatically whether you like it. If someone asks you to explain your judgement you confabulate... Moral arguments are much the same. Two people feel strongly about an issue, their feelings come first, and their reasons are invented on the fly, to throw at each other." -- quoting UVA psychologist Jonathan Haidt p. 172

Beyond truly being a gifted writer (I mean, how many people can make neuroscience not only accessible to the lay public, but ENJOYABLE?) Mr. Lehrer posits some interesting assertions regarding the operations of the human brain.

It gave me interesting food for thought as I sat in restaurants with people who herald Glenn Beck and believe the President of the United States is a socialist robot who hates money and wants to punish it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"What are your suggestions for note color coding systems? I hate neon and am more at peace with earth tones."

In a fit of biannual med school spirit I volunteered to give tours to the potential incoming first years at their revisit weekend.

In return I was permitted to attend their first night feast of catered free-ness. They even let me bring Irreverand Boyfriend for the complimentary beer, wine and limitless chicken drowned in sketchy sauce.

We showed up a few minutes late and were unable to find an open table with bright eyed incomers so we settled for a table with a slew of current first years.

I actually didn't realize they were ALL first years. As a fourth year I'm pretty distant from the pre-clinical (first and second year) students. They don't know me, I don't know them.

It was precisely this fact that Irreverand Boyfriend capitalized upon in an effort to distract me from my horrid realization that OH MY GOD. I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS THEM. NOW I'M GOING TO BE A DOCTOR. Angst, angst, angst.

He leaned over to the first year sitting next to him and asked, "So, how do you like it here?"

She was taken aback and said, "Oh! Are you a prospective? I'm sorry, I thought you were an upper classman... well, I like it here a lot!"

Irreverand Boyfriend went on through this charade through three separate groups of first years.

He told people he knew me through a childhood friend of mine who he met at Hypochondriacs Anonymous. He truthfully said he graduated from college in 2007, but stated not so truthfully that he spent the years since soul searching in Nepal. He found this a necessary escape after he was the victim of a brutal attack in Grand Central Station wherein a homeless man held him in a head lock for three minutes and beat him over the head with a bottle, forcing him to reevaluate his perspectives on humanity.

In Nepal he was exposed to local remedies for colorectal ailments including burning a certain herb native to the region in order to waft the smoke into the ailing areas.

When I asked if that meant he had to lean over the fire and spread his bare cheeks, he didn't miss a beat. "Well, yes, if you want to be crass about it, but I prefer to maintain a degree of respect for the practice, Pants."

In an effort to try and break him I asked about his modern dance habit I had been told of and he promptly replied that though he spent two summers at an Alvin Ailey dance camp he just wasn't committed to the field.

I thought we'd reached the final straw when he asked how many students exotic danced in the city to stave off the burden of loans, but no. Grey's Anatomy has desensitized this generation of future doctors from the incredulousness of taking off one's clothes as a means to fund professional school.

No, the final straw came when he asked about the options for urban hunting.

"Urban Hunting?" A particularly gullible first year asked.

"Yeah, you know, like picking off squirrels and vermin in Central Park. That doesn't happen? Stealth Street Pigeon Stakeouts? No?"

"I don't know. I mean, my interests are diametrically opposed. I saved turtles for a summer in undergrad."

"Oh, like, the meat?"


"You mean you saved the meat? You know, for later?"

"No, I saved them. Like, tagged them and rehab-ed them for the wild."

The funny thing is until that moment not a soul doubted his stories, questions and seeming social ineptitude. So for those of you who wonder what it's like to go to med school, that is it, right there.

Thank you, sweet loveface, for distracting me from the fact that I've been there, done that, and am on my way to the next step.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This is literally all I have to show for my day.

I can't even tell you how I got to this point, but I decided it'd be a good idea to google various hairstyles and see if I could find some idiot proof instructions. I guess I was half thinking I could learn how to do something fancy for my graduation or at least develop some back pocket proficiency so in case I was called to a State Dinner at the last minute I could look instantly fabulous.

At any rate, I ended up watching people do their hair on youtube for way too long.

I decided it would be crucial to learn about Victory Rolls. You know, in case I wanted to go as a Forties Housewife for Halloween:

Orrrrr a small woodland animal with perky ears.

I learned how to do Bettie Page bangs:

AKA world's most perplexing, as in Why on EARTH is that alluring, pin-up do.

And, perhaps more practically, I went for an Audrey-esque French twist:

I think I'll stick with a rumpled morning after a shower ponytail.

But in case you don't want to:

Victory Rolls
Victory Rolls AND Bettie Page Bangs
French Twist
Brigitte Bardot Updo which I didn't attempt for fear of creating a luxury option for nesting robins

Monday, April 5, 2010

Four Stars

I am a grade A procrastinator. I think most people in graduate education have to be to some degree. You know, for sanity.

It's vital to take a break from quantum physics or Thoreau's existential machinations or rectal exams, whatever your poison, to remind yourself that those things aren't ACTUALLY our whole lives, it just feels like it. I mean, God help us if you had to curl up and live in a rectum.

One of my favorite escapades is Fantasy Online Shopping.

Far too often this becomes Actual Online Shopping, but I certainly start out intending to browse.

I usually keep it within a degree of reality (which perhaps is why I end up actually buying) by only perusing the websites of stores I could actually shop i.e. Target, Old Navy, or if I'm feelin' really saucy, Ann Taylor.

I usually just look for patterns or colors I like, styles and cuts that have worked for me in the past and basically go nuts over accessories. Sunglasses, jewelry, handbags... I hate to say the gaudier the better, but... if the shoe fits?

Anyway, I was genuinely looking for something the other day, a pair of red flats (clearly a necessity) and encountered one of my greatest downfalls: the online review.

Now, I'm not an idiot. I'm not. In two months I'll have a medical degree to mostly prove it. But I am a sucker. And oh, how I am a sucker for a well reviewed product. It's taken me a good long while and more than a few disappointing online shopping endeavors to realize that oh, it's probably an employee of that company writing the review. Because really, who types: THESE SHOES CHANGED MY LIFE! OMG! SQUEE! BUY THEM NOW! THEY BEAT WITH A HEART OF AWESOME UNPARALLELED IN FASHION!

There also must be secret competitors on there, the ones that go more along the lines of: These shoes arrived and I put them on. Immediately they pinched my toes which caused me so much pain my toes went numb. Because of this I fell down the stairs. And landed on my dog. Killing him. He wouldn't have died if I never ordered these shoes. DON'T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU.

I think I may be projecting my recent experiences going through apartment reviews online trying to find a new place Out West. These people are either on way too much Prozac or are the most vindictive, hateful creatures West of the Mississippi because sweet goodness, how important is it really to have granite countertops!?

I digress.

So, the hunt for red flats. I wanted something to spice up the very many heather gray clothes I have these days (residual from Depression Online Shopping). So I went through the usual suspects: Zappos, Piperlime, Overstock and finally settled on Target. Largely, I admit it, because of the reviews of this one shoe:

Beyond being positive, the reviews seemed sensible. They talked about accommodating bunions. I have bunions! They talked about how comfortable they are. I like comfort! And also they kept emphasizing how cute yet functional they were and hey, for $16.99 it was worth a shot.

Anyway, this is probably the epitome of the online review because basically my point is OMG. I love these shoes.

(It took this long to get here because I needed to prove my thesis. I am a grade A procrastinator.)

I do a ton of walking in NYC and they don't kill my feet. Sometimes flats are a little too free form to support a trek to the subway, but these with their sturdy (faux?) leather have held up. They don't rub my twisted bunioned feet in any which way and have such a pleasant hint of elfin charm I want to wear them with everything.

Now, if I could just find an apartment meeting that criteria we'd be all set. Mama needs a lot of square footage to house these bunions.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Auntie Pants

My brother's daughter is beyond adorable. She'll be four years old in June and she's brilliant.

She was able to dress and undress herself by the age of 2.5 which I think is a testament to her brainy fashionista potential rather than portending a future of stripperdom. We sang an "I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream," duet from Sleeping Beauty as soon as she was 3. Since she was born she loves anything that glitters. CLEARLY there will never be any doubt of our genetic linkage.

My brother's wife has a sister. I have mentally been in competition with her to become favorite aunt since my nephew was born seven years ago. But now? The stakes are higher. There's an adorable, malleable sweetheart in our midst and I am determined to be my niece's favorite aunt.

My dream is to one day take her on a weekend excursion to New York City where we can gorge ourselves on Buttercup Cupcakes and then have a shopping spree at the American Girl Doll store. In this dream I am also independently wealthy. Should this dream take place after she's 21 years of age we may also throw in a Sex and the City Bus Tour with a solid afternoon spent at Sweet Revenge - a place that does pairings of cupcakes and wine.


It's true that all the geniuses flock to New York.

One of my biggest deficits in this race for favorite aunt is my proximity. Or rather, lack thereof. Within my niece's realm of conscious recollection I have visited her twice. Her mother's sister lives in the same city. Yikes.

Upping the ante MORE is the fact that her mother's brother is getting married therefore bringing in another contender for favorite aunt.

This is unacceptable. As such, welcome to my A-game. For Easter I (yes, hand)made and sent her this:

It's the best I can do when I know there are other women in her life close enough to give her an Easter basket replete with candy and bunnies. I'm hoping instead of a fleeting sugar high I can provide a spark for a lifetime of nostalgic wonderment similar, but even more pervasive than the insane addiction cultivated when I introduced her to the Fancy Nancy series and provided her her first tutu.

I mailed it yesterday. We'll wait with bated breath to see her response.

In the meantime I will begin plotting for her birthday. It is on, other aunts. It is on.