Friday, August 31, 2012

MSU CHM White Coat Ceremony 2012

I heard later on there were around 2,000 people in attendance at the White Coat Ceremony. Hooray for the support of friends and family!

I know this post is incredibly late, but this week has been a complete whirlwind - no other way to describe it. I've never had classes move this fast before. It feels like the White Coat Ceremony (which was just this past Sunday) was weeks ago. Right now, I'm actually gearing up for another study session in the Secchia Center here in Grand Rapids - the official headquarters of MSU's College of Human Medicine. But before I really hit the books (on the Friday night before Labor Day weekend...) I'll toss up some photos from the White Coat Ceremony. I'm hoping to take some time this weekend (once I get my workload a little more under control) to write a little more about my first week. Until then, here you go - and a special thanks to my mother-in-law and older brother Tyler for the great photography work that they pulled off from the balcony!

Me, getting coated with my spiffy new student doctor coat!

Shaking the hand of CHM's dean, Dr. Marsha Rappley - a MSU CHM grad!
Proud Wife!
Proud Mom!

Proud Dad!

Proud Nony (Americanized-Italian for "grandma")

It's official - if I make it through the next 7-10 years, I'm going to be a doctor.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

MSU CHM Orientation Day 6: Fun and Surprise!

Day 5 was a great ending to orientation week. I started it off by running 7 miles with a friend, then by getting involved as an Admissions Ambassador. That means that this year, I'll be helping out with the admissions process by interviewing applicants, sitting on student Q&A panels, having lunch and speaking with applicants on interview days, or whatever in-between gaps the CHM Office of Admissions would like me to fill. It's going to be so much fun being in this role!

After the admissions ambassador orientation, we sat through a seminar on the student health insurance through Aetna (I still haven't gotten my cards yet... Apparently there's a student file information error on Aetna's end... I'm waiting to hear back from them.) before loading up the buses and shipping out to East Lansing for the Big Sib / Little Sib mixer (where everyone who signed up for the Sibling program could meet each other) and the Student Organizations' Fair. My sib (who is a second-year CHM student, is my cousin's wife, and write a blog here) is pretty awesome. I've known her for years, and she has been a great help so far this year as my Big Sib.

The Student Organizations' Fair was pretty great. I signed up to be a member of the AMA (American Medical Association), and got the Netter's Anatomy Flashcards in the deal. I figure they'll come in handy this semester, given that everyone has been absolutely freaking out about how difficult Gross Anatomy is going to be. I'm sure they're right, but hopefully tools like this will help make it a manageable difficulty... Along with the flashcards, I also got this nifty Michigan State Medical Society pin:

I also signed up for the Surgery and Emergency Medicine Special Interest Groups (SIGs). As I've probably told a bazillion people this week (one of the most standard questions you'll ask (or be asked) as an M1 during orientation week is, "So what area of medicine are you interested in?"), I'm interested in both Emergency Medicine and Surgery. Nope, I don't know what area of surgery I might want to end up in if I were to go down that road. I might also find something in the next two years that I like better than either of these options. Until that happens, I'm going to do everything I can to experience and learn more about these two specialties. Hence, my joining of the two SIGs. On Tuesday of this week, there's a free lunch and speaker series by the Surgery group. Looking forward to it!

The Organizations' Fair was a blast, but it was over pretty quickly. I headed back to Grand Rapids, only to be surprised at the entrance to the med school by Wife, Big Brother, and Dad! It was completely unexpected, as Big Brother lives in Maryland and hasn't been back to Michigan in three years. I also just spoke to him about a month ago, and he reluctantly informed me that he probably wouldn't be able to to make it back in the next year. On top of that, Wife had been feeding me texts all day about how we would probably not have much phone time this evening, as she was going to be hanging out with friends... She's sneaky - that she is... I found out later that they had been planning it for a month!

It was a lot of fun, and we all went out to eat for a last hurrah before med school kicks it into gear this week. Tomorrow is the official "White Coat Ceremony," which should be pretty cool. Big Brother is a wedding photographer in his spare time, and he brought all his gear to photograph the event. My mother-in-law also has a keen eye for photos, so between the two of them I will probably have the best photos of anyone to remember the event! Wife and I will be going out to lunch with her side of the family beforehand, and then out with my mom, stepdad, and friends afterward. Definitely going to be a big day!

Today will be spent hanging out with Wife back in Holland before shooting back over to Grand Rapids tomorrow morning... Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

MSU CHM Orientation Day 5: Short and Sweet

And the fifth official orientation day has come and gone. In case you need to get caught up, here are days 1-4:

This morning was spent almost entirely on discussions of debt, budgeting, and management of debt and budgets. We were given a lot of information on the different types of repayment plans that we should consider, and the benefits and drawbacks of each. We were also told about how, if you work for a nonprofit 501(c) (3) business for 120 months (10 years) and make the minimum monthly payment under the income-based repayment plan, any debt you have left over gets erased. Oh, and guess what? Almost all hospitals are classified as this type of nonprofit organization.

There's just one problem.

I'm interested in Emergency Medicine. You might say, "But Justin! That's not a problem. Hospitals all have emergency departments, so it seems like a great fit!" But you'd be wrong. You see, from what I learned today, ER docs and Radiologists work almost exclusively for external groups that are sourced in to operate the hospitals' emergency and radiology departments. This means that the external physician's group is signing their paychecks - NOT the hospital. Things are set up this way because the hospital makes the money off the lab tests assigned by the ER docs and Radiologists. If they also worked directly for the hospital, it opens the hospital up to claims of "conflict of interests."

So, the legal loophole which allows almost all other kinds of doctors to work for a hospital for ten years, making minimum payments before having the remainder of their debt forgiven, pretty much leaves ER docs and Radiologists high and dry. Well, relatively speaking, I guess. After all, they're still all making salaries roughly exactly equal to that of an ER doc or Radiologist, respectively...

After that talk came lunch, and after lunch came Basic Life Support (BLS) certification training. That's right - I am now certified in life support for infants, children, and adults. Circulation! Airway! Breathing! It used to be ABC (Airway, Breathing, Circulation), but they did some studies and found that people were getting so caught up on checking the airway and breathing that they were delaying the restoration of circulation via chest compressions. As it turns out, restoring and maintaining circulation is the most important part of basic life support. The oxygen storage capacity of your blood is such that as long as your blood is pumping through your tissues and organs, enough oxygen will be delivered to make a significant different in quality of life post-trauma, even if artificial breaths are less emphasized than chest compressions.

So, we did that, then we had a Health and Wellness Small Group Discussion. Basically, we focused on maintaining our mental health and wellness by having a very chill hour-long chat session mixed in with a game in which we found out more about everyone else in the group. It was fun, and a nice, easy end to the bulk of orientation week.

After that, I got some dinner from Zoup and had a long conversation with a friend who was having a hard time with the anticipated stress of next week. Personally, I think the faculty and staff may have overemphasized the monumental nature of the stress and hard work that we're going to be experiencing in the coming weeks. I could be wrong, but it feels like after a point, it makes it more difficult to hear over and over about how hard things are going to be when there's absolutely nothing you can do about it at the moment.

After that quality and productive discussion, I took the Biochemistry waiver exam. Alas, I did not pass. I was closer than I thought I would be though, and that felt GREAT. I didn't really expect to pass, especially since I kind of quit studying last Friday (Saturday? I can't remember...) and just decided to wing it. I feel like I'm more than adequately prepared for Biochem this semester, and I'm looking forward to learning more about the medical side of it. We'll see how it goes starting bright and early Monday morning!

Tomorrow will be an interesting day. I signed up to be a member of the team of Admissions Ambassadors. I don't know in what aspect I will be helping out (giving tours? interviews? on a student panel?), but I know that 1.) It feels incredible to finally be on this side of things, 2.) I want to do what I can for the incoming interviewees because I very clearly remember what it's like to be in their shoes, and 3.) We get a free lunch! After the meeting, the whole Grand Rapids class will be heading to Lansing for more end-of-week festivities. There'll be a student organizations fair as well as a Big Sib / Little Sib mixer. Basically, it's a big get-together between the second-years and the first-years that they signed up to take under their wings. We get to do everything in the Spartan Club, which overlooks the Spartan Stadium. Very cool.

Almost done here, but this next bit is very important. Wife got her blood tests back, and there's no autoimmune disease! Hooray! The only (small) downside is that this leaves us with no clue what's wrong with her eyes. She gets her tear ducts plugged on Monday, so hopefully that will help them stay better hydrated and (therefore) less infected. The docs are now convinced that the cause of her vision problems is a bacterial infection. Why they think this now but didn't think so a week ago, I have no clue... Whatever, hopefully their treatment starts to work soon!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MSU CHM Orientation Day 4: Hustle and Volunteer

This morning was again filled with seminars - this time about professionalism, student conduct, values and such. While most of it was common sense (don't lie, don't plagiarize, don't angrily berate other humans), apparently it was necessary because they said past students have done every single thing we discussed - including copying an entire article off of Wikipedia for an essay that was required after the student skipped a class or something like that. Ridiculous. It takes so much work to get into med school, I can't believe some people would throw it all away to save a few hours of more work...

After  the seminars we picked up our coursepacks. Basically, coursepacks are supplemental materials that include absolutely everything that will be covered on examinations. Pictured below are my coursepacks and textbooks for this semester. I actually only bought two of the books (the top two): Histology by Ross and Pawlina, and the Thieme Atlas of Anatomy. All of the others were either helpfully donated by my wife's cousin who used them two years ago, or were ones I just had lying around, like the old 2nd edition Netter atlas at the bottom of the pile. 

As you can see, the coursepacks are gigantic. What you don't know is that the bottom two are BOTH for Anatomy. That's right - Gross Anatomy is a beast. Somehow, I'm supposed to cram all of the information in those pages into my head in the next four months. Not a clue how that's possible, but they tell me it is...

After picking up the coursepacks, I caught a ride with a friend to drop them off back home. He was in a hurry (we had less than an hour to go to the post office, eat lunch, and get back to the med school by 1:30pm), and in my haste to not keep him waiting I forgot that I had been planning on changing into my volunteer shirt for our Afternoon of Service in the Community. So, I dropped the books off, and it wasn't until he dropped me off at the med school before going to get some lunch that I realized I didn't get my volunteer shirt, was still wearing jeans (it was HOT today), and hadn't changed from sandals into shoes.

I booked it. Got my bike and shot back home in five minutes flat. Got changed and back in another ten minutes. I scooted in to my assigned meeting place with two minutes to spare and was even able to snag some vending machine food that I ate for lunch on the way to our volunteer venue - Mel Trotter Ministries here in Grand Rapids.

Image credit:

It's a homeless shelter organization that has missions all across the country. It was founded by Mel Trotter 112 years ago. He was homeless and an alcoholic at one point, but his life was turned around by a shelter similar to the one pictured above. We spent the afternoon hauling food from one level to another and cleaning several foyers and the chapel. It was a great afternoon, and it felt good to be helping out an organization that does so much to help so many. Though there were only nine people in my group (all the students went to different places in 11 different groups), I feel like we helped out in a significant way for an afternoon.

And with that, I'm headed to bed. Tomorrow is the Biochemistry waiver exam - for which I have studied a grand total of 1 hour this week. My fervent drive to kill this test kind of died when I learned that only five people have passed it in the past two years. I think I could have done it if I started seriously reviewing three or four weeks ago, but trying to cram it all in my brain in just a week and a half probably won't cut it. I'm still going to try my absolute hardest, and I think I stand a decent chance, but I'm not going to kill myself on this test. Worst case scenario, I've gotten a decent review before starting the class.

Whew, done.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

MSU CHM Orientation Day 3: Craziness

Oh, where to start...

The morning was normal - seminars on student disability insurance and blood-bourne pathogens, mixed in with some quality student panels. There wasn't much said in the panel that wasn't a reiteration of yesterday's panel, though I did learn some interesting stuff about MSU CHM's Directed Study Groups (DSGs). Basically, they're groups led by a faculty proctor (I think) that meet once each week to go over the lecture material in greater detail. Apparently, they're incredibly helpful. It's noncommittal, so you can quit if it's not for you, but it sounds pretty helpful. I'll probably be signing up for the Anatomy DSG at least, possibly adding more if I need them.

The rest of the day was crazy. I missed a phone call from Wife during one of the seminars, and when I got out for lunch and listened to the voicemail, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Basically, we thought her vision was getting better, but then it took a turn. This week it has been deteriorating even more, despite the treatment recommended by her ophthalmologist. She had another visit with him today, and he doesn't know what is wrong with her eyes. He had suggested that she make an appointment with her family doctor, but when she attempted to make an appointment, they wouldn't see her until Thursday - two solid days from now. In the meantime, she can't even see well enough to read the big E at the top of the vision chart. Heck, she can hardly read off of her iPad with the font at the largest size, held four inches from her face. It really is that bad. Forget about driving safely or sewing or reading a recipe to cook - or studying once classes start next week.

I called her doctor's office at 1:00pm and convinced them to see her at 3:40pm this afternoon. After getting off the phone, I called her to let her know about her new appointment and to make sure she would be able to get there (we're in separate cities at the moment, for those of you that don't know). After talking to her, I had about 15 minutes to get back to school and take a 4-hour diagnostic NBME exam. I have no clue what it stands for, but basically it is a practice Step 1 exam designed to serve as a reference point for my learning improvement over the next two years. They'll compare my score from today with my actual Step 1 score two years from now and say, "Hey, lookathat! He learned stuff!"

It also gave me a good understanding of the type and style of questions that will be asked on Step 1. Basically, they were all similar to this:

A 47-year-old caucasian male presents to the emergency department complaining of severe abdominal pain. He is dyspneic, diaphoretic, respiration rate is 29/min, blood pressure is 164/108, and blood glucose levels are 97mg/dL. Urine hematocrit level was 17%. Erythropoietin tango delta was phi-squared normal positive, but the demarcation embargo didn't stop the mass actionists from smashing up the bar. When performed in the supine position, abdominal percussion was atympanic. The right periumbilical region was highly sensitive to palpation, and the patient mentioned having no bowel movements in the past 72 hours, despite maintaining normal dietary habits. Which of the following disorders could best explain the patients symptoms?

A. Schroedinger's Wave Syndrome
B. Leininger's Disease
C. Lippincott Lyposis
D. Faraday Syndrome
E. Boltzmann's Blockage
F. Pawlina's Parenchymal Paresthesia

Hopefully questions like these will make more sense later in my education...

As for Wife, the doctor ended up ordering NINE different blood tests. One real possibility is an auto-immune disease of some sort, but we'll find out more in a few days... Hopefully the solution will be simpler than that, but we'll see. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers in the meantime.

Monday, August 20, 2012

MSU CHM Orientation Day 2: Tedium & Ownership

Today was a definite change from Day 1 of orientation at MSU CHM. It was a long, looong day, full of seminars on how the classes are taught, course objectives, drug tests, ID card photos, student panels, and bussing back and forth between Grand Rapids and East Lansing. By the end of the day I was consistently hearing my own sentiments out of the mouths of many of my fellow classmates. "Enough talking about starting; we just want to start!"

This has been an incredibly long process, and we're all ready to get down to business. I've heard about a million times how hard this is going to be - how taxing it will be on every aspect of our lives. From our physical well-being to the status of our relationships to our emotional soundness, it seems like every second person is telling us that this will be the hardest thing we've ever done. I believe them, and I know they aren't trying to be discouraging by saying these things. All of the faculty and all of the second-years are saying this to try to help us prepare ourselves. They're only there to help us make the transition as smooth as possible.

The problem is, there's only so much preparing that you can possibly do before it becomes discouraging. My friend A put it well. He said, "There's one thing that I've heard consistently from all of these student panels, and it's not, 'The piece of advice I got from a second-year student during orientation that really helped me do well in med school was blah blah blah...' It's always, 'It took me a while to figure out how to study well, but after about a month I got it, and everything went well after that.' Well, I just feel like it's time for me to start figuring it out!"

I agree with A.

We should be getting out student ID cards tomorrow, so I should FINALLY be able to have access to the Secchia Center. Hooray! I really can't wait. It's the last piece that yet needs to fall into place for me to feel 100% like a student. Sort of like buying a car. You can get the paper that says you've purchased the car. You can see the car in the lot and be told by the dealer that hey, you own that car. You can even get into it while he sits there with you, filling out the additional paperwork. But you don't really feel like you own that car until he gives you the keys, you turn them in the ignition and hear the engine roar to life. Then, you own the car.

I want to give my new school a test run...

And tomorrow I get my keys.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Orientation Precap & Nicole's Eyes

This week is going to be pretty hectic.

Though we got a day off today (Sunday), it's going to kickstart pretty early tomorrow. We board buses in Grand Rapids at 7:15am to make the 1.25hr trip to East Lansing, where we will spend the day doing things like being welcomed by the dean, learning more about the curriculum, getting our pics taken, and  paying $55 before peeing into cups - though this last one isn't so much for fun as it is to make sure we aren't addicts who somehow held it together well enough to matriculate into med school.

This is just the first day of a jam-packed week. I should have plenty of time to update on here, but I am planning on taking a Biochem waiver exam this Thursday, so I will probably study some for that. I don't really expect to pass it though - especially since I heard that absolutely nobody that took it last year passed... I can always hope though!

And with that, I'm going to spend some time with my wife (who is currently with me in Grand Rapids!) before she heads back to our other place. If you think of it, please toss up a prayer for her, as she's having vision problems again, similar to those she had a few months ago... No good. She probably shouldn't be driving, but luckily it's better in the mornings, and she's on a treatment plan that appears to be might be helping. More to come soon...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

MSU CHM Orientation Day 1: "Med School is like a Marathon"

"Medical School is like a marathon."

Time after time today, this theme was driven home. Not in a defeatist sort of way, but in a realistic, this-is-how-it-will-be-for-you-but-you-can-definitely-do-it kind of attitude. Today was an incredibly positive experience, full of lots of team-building exercises and fun activities.

I'm a little too tired to go into tons of detail with the activities, but here is a rundown of my day today:

6:00am - Wake up, eat breakfast.

6:45am - Meet up with a couple other med students and run for 6.3 miles.

7:45am - Shower, eat some more stuff, change, and head to the med school.

9:00am - Orientation begins. Watch video, split into teams, each named for some type of medical term. Examples include neuron, urine, zygote, blastula, paresthesia (my team), feces, osteoblast, etc.

11:00am - Break into groups to do some ice-breaking activities with the group, learn names, backgrounds (undergrad institutions, etc.), then head for lunch.

1:00pm - Start the skeleton scavenger hunt. Basically, there are six accessible floors to the med school. In different stations on each floor, there were tasks for us to do. When we completed the task, we got a different inflatable bone for a skeleton. The bones were really parts, so we'd get a forearm, a torso, a femur, etc. After completing all tasks, we had to assemble the skeleton, then dress it in school apparel. The first team to do so won bragging rights. It was a ton of fun, and the teams got really into it, running from floor to floor, taunting each other, etc.

3:45pm - We finished the scavenger hunt pretty fast, and they weren't sure exactly what to do with us, so they made an impromptu spelling bee, which no one actually won. 

4:30pm - We got our white coats, then relinquished them for personal embroidery after trying them on for size. We'll get them back a week from tomorrow at the official White Coat Ceremony. I can't wait! When I tried my white coat on for the first time (even though it's a short student coat instead of the traditional long doctor's coat) it was really cool. I looked at a girl nearby who had hers on, and thought, "She looks like a real med student, almost like a doctor!" Then I realized that this was probably how I looked too, and got a huge smile on my face. Luckily, she didn't see the grin on my face before I looked away and managed to stifle it a bit, but that was a really cool moment.

Made a lot of friends, started forming what I believe will be a solid group of study partners and go-to people for when we're in the thick of it. I know it's going to be overwhelming, and I know it's going to absolutely suck a lot of the time - but I know that everyone will be feeling that way. It'll be hard, but I know I'll be able to handle it.

Do you know why?

Because all it takes is competence and hard work. Apparently I'm competent enough, or the school wouldn't have accepted me, and guess what?

I can work hard.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012 Interview Published

Some fairly exciting news - I was recently contacted by to do an interview with them on my experience in becoming a non-traditional med student. The published interview just went live yesterday, so here it is!

Though I didn't know about before they contacted me, I have since reviewed their site and they have a wealth of helpful information - sample essays, tips for applicants to give to the writers of their recommendation letters, even advising services for med school applicants who might need a little extra help. And even though it's not exclusively about med school (other graduate and professional school topics get thrown in too), their blog regularly has interesting posts. Check it out!

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Place and a Whopping Blood Blister - Photos

I have officially relocated to my new, awesome place in Grand Rapids. Wife kicked it here with me for a couple of days over the weekend, but has since returned to Holland. Here are a couple shots of where I'll be spending my M1 year:

Entrance to my basement abode.

I use a bookshelf as a combination kitchen cabinet, dresser, toolbox, and bookshelf.

The couch folds out into the most comfortable bed ever - thanks to a super thick memory foam mattress pad...

In what probably was intended to be a closet, I have a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee pot.

Almost a necessity for med students, I have my own (MAGNETIC!) whiteboard. I know the med school will have way better ones available, but I like scrawling things out at home in the dead of night sometimes... Wife wrote a cool note on it when she helped me move in, but I've blurred it out in the photo just to frustrate you.

In the hall just outside my room, I have improvised a closet. Trendy? No. Serving the purpose? Heck yeah!

My killer study area. It tops off what I like to call, the Medbunker. See that chair? I got it 75% off at Staples. WINNING. Also, that deep freezer on the left is PACKED FULL of frozen meals lovingly prepared for me by Wife. Among the choices are things like Lasagna Cupcakes, Stuffed Poblano Peppers, Breakfast Burritos, Applesauce Muffins, White Chicken Chili, Kielbasa with Rice and Beans, and way more.

The Medbunker is quickly becoming part of an elaborate and on-going daydream in which I am snugged away in this bunker as a result of some catastrophic, nuclear fallout of some sort. Obviously, after a disaster of this magnitude, the world will be in desperate need of physicians. Whatever it takes to motivate me to study, right?

What the Medbunker lacks for in breathtaking views, the med school delivers. Most of you readers haven't seen the Secchia Center, where MSU CHM's campus is in Grand Rapids, so you don't know what's coming. I'll be sure to post some of the awesome views from the various study rooms around the building in the coming weeks. I'll be honest - I can't wait to get in there!

In other news, I've spent today and part of yesterday exploring the city on my electric bike, and it has been awesome. I got a sandwich at Jimmy John's, and it was delicious - and cheap! At only $4.50 for an 8-inch sub, I will definitely be returning there in the coming months...

Yesterday I played in a pick-up game of Ultimate Frisbee in the park across the street. Normally, I play in bare feet, as it is largely an endurance game, with only a nominal amount of cutting and sprinting. The guys yesterday decided to play a "box" variety. Basically, you have to pass the frisbee to a teammate inside a four-cone box to score a point. The box is small, only about 10-15 feet on a side, so you're pretty much sprinting the entire time, trying to get open to receive a pass. When barefoot, this results in massive blood blisters like this, when the pads threaten to separate from the rest of your toe:

It might look small, but my toes are the size of the average four-year-old's fists. This blister is probably about as big around as two dimes...

The worst thing is, this was my good toe. This was also after I finished scrubbing my feet, bandaging up the other toe (not pictured) whose pad actually had separated from the toe, leaving a crescent-shaped flap of thick, leathery skin atop a patch of bleeding red meat. Not cool - especially when I wanted to be running around the city this week! I would have worn my Vibrams, but of course I forgot them back at Wife's place... She'll be bringing them to me this Wednesday, but now I'm going to have to take several days off of running anyway. BLARG!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Perfect Day

Me and Wife, getting ready to enjoy the sunset at the end of a perfect day.
Yesterday was a perfect day. Wife and I got up early and went for a walk with Pupper, taking in some irregularly cool temperatures (high sixties - imagine that!) before hitting my favorite breakfast place. I got a SCRUMPTIOUS "Holland Omelet" and Wife got a cinnamon roll as big as her head. Literally. The thing must have been 1300 calories at least - probably why she could only eat half of it.

After breakfast, we had some downtime around the apartment so we could work on our individual projects. Wife is working on a ginormous quilt for me, which will hopefully be done this semester. I was working on my entries for the MSU CHM T-Shirt Design Contest.

We also talked about the expensive surprise she had planned for me. As it turns out, with the unforeseen high cost of insuring the both of us, my loan amount is going to be stretched thinner than previously planned. As it is, the loans Wife has taken out don't even cover her tuition. We've been covering the remainder from savings, and will have to do that for the next two semesters. The cheapest route for health insurance is going to be separately insuring us through our respective universities, and even then, it's going to be very pricey. It will also be only health insurance - no vision or dental planned thus far.

With all of this taken into account, it was determined that the mystery gift will have to be postponed. Whatever it was, Wife is going to put it on the back burner, hopefully as a surprise for a later date. The way things stand right now, we may need to take out a private loan of some sort come Spring semester.

Despite the break in perfection caused by all this financial hullabaloo, we kicked this "final hurrah" day back into gear by picking up some of the cheapest Chinese food possible and going to the $4.50 1:00pm showing of The Dark Knight Rises. It was a great movie - I highly recommend it. Even Wife, who normally doesn't get into action (and especially action hero) movies liked it. So yeah, if you're not in class already (what UP Wayne State and UofM med students who started class this week!) you should definitely check it out.

After the movie, we had some more hang-out time, given that we got out at around 4:00pm. We finished things off by getting some ice cream and watching the sunset over Lake Michigan at the Holland State Park. It was gorgeous. Here are several pics from watching the sun go down:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

MSU CHM T-Shirt Contest

The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) at my school (Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (MSU CHM)) is having a T-Shirt Design Contest for the shirt that they'll sell at different events. I have decided to enter, and just submitted three different designs. What's your favorite? Think I've got a shot?

Design #1:

Design #2:

Design #3:

The quality is much higher with the original files I created, but doesn't give the most high-resolution previews. In case you're curious, all the artwork was done on my iPad 2 using Sketchbook Pro, one of the best drawing apps you'll find. At $1.99, it was a steal. I only had to resort to Photoshop on my computer once, and that was to skew the stethoscope and put it behind the Spartan mascot.

I'm not sure when the winner will be announced. The stakes aren't incredibly high - the winner gets a $25 Starbucks card - but I would've done it just for the fun of designing the shirts, so I'm not complaining. Cross your fingers for me! Or, and the Germans would say, "Drucken die Daumen!" (Translation: Push the thumbs!)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Blue Fingers and Healthy Eating

No, the two nouns in the title of this post aren't technically related in any cause-and-effect sort of way. Well, at least not one that I know of. No, they're simply two things that I experienced today.

First, the blue fingers:

Okay, so maybe they're a bit more "teal" than blue, but the point is I look like something off of this movie - or maybe that one. Why are my fingers blue? Because Wife asked me to paint this for her today:

Please note the relative elevation of Wife's feet. Awesome. The Hulk is a big beast.
"Wait," you might say. "You probably used spray paint, so why did you paint your fingers so much if you're just spraying a table?" If this is you, then you're just like Wife, as that's what she asked when she came home today. You see, I dismantled the table to paint each part without painting over the hardware holding it together from below. That meant holding some of the smaller parts. "Wait again though!" you might also say. "Why aren't your fingernails blue if the rest of your fingers got painted?" Well, they were... Until I got my pocketknife out while watching an episode of 24. Let's just say, I had some meticulous (and, thankfully, coordinated) fun cleaning the nails off. Alas, I have no paint thinner, so I'll just have to shed paint as my cells slough off over the next week.

After that, I was famished, and I felt like doing it the right way, so I made myself this meal:

I think I made wife proud. What you see are 1.5 ham sandwiches (there was one slice of bread left in the bag - and I do NOT believe in leaving just one slice of bread. I'll eat it plain if I have to.), cherries, a jumbo carrot, and blueberries. To top it all off, I washed it down with a DIET Mountain Dew! Look at me go!

Life is awesome the way it is, but pretty soon it'll be changing in big ways. A week from tonight, I'll be sleeping in Grand Rapids. I don't know that I'll ever be ready to leave Wife and Pupper, but I must say that I am excited for the next chapter of my transformation to begin.

Friday, August 3, 2012

One More Week at Home

I have a week left before I move to Grand Rapids to start gearing up for med school. A bunch of stuff needs to be done - getting the rest of my stuff moved, getting to know my way around the city a little better, and studying up a bit for the Biochemistry waiver exam. It's a little surreal, thinking that this summer is almost over, and I'm about to start one of the toughest things of my life so far.

The past couple days have probably been the most low-key days of the whole summer. I've done a lot of lazing about. I've gone to see TWO movies at the theater - The Amazing Spiderman and the new Total Recall. That's twice as many as I've seen in the entire past year. Why did I do this? Because when you have the time to go to a movie during the day on a weekday, they only charge you $4.50. Today, I went in style. I grabbed some gas-station Chinese food and smuggled it inside my backpack along with a can of Diet Mountain Dew. There's no way I was going to pay the $15.75+tx they charge for two hot dogs and a soda. No. Way.

Wife has been the complete opposite of me, burning through list after list of task, grocery shopping, work, research, baby shower preparations - for a friend. Don't go getting any ideas. Crosses fingers. She's even taken the time to make about a million frozen meals for me to put in this little puppy big guy:

Thanks to my mom and step-dad for this one!
That's right! I'm going to have tons of healthy, microwaveable meals made by my awesome Wife. If you've noticed, I haven't been linking to her blog lately. That's because she's in the process of making a new one. The old one's style and feel didn't turn out to be very lasting. The new one is looking pretty sweet though, in a very extroverted utilitarian sort of way. Cool. I'll share once it's up.

We also got a new couch, which I've been spending a bunch of time on. We LOVE IT. We waited six weeks for the The Hulk to arrive, so it's good that we're happy with it. It's called The Hulk because it's green and gigantic. I'm 6'2" tall, and I can lie on it without having either my feet or my head touch an armrest. The whole thing is something around 104" long. That's eight feet, eight inches of couch PLUS an ottoman. Without further ado, I give you The Hulk:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Motorized Camera Track for Time Lapse Photography

At the beginning of the summer, a friend showed me this video:

I had already made stationary camera time lapses, but I wanted to come up with a way to make videos like this. So I did. Below is a video showcasing my motorized photo track, followed by a bunch of pics detailing the features. I blew a couple months of allowance PLUS a goodly portion of my birthday moolah on this project, but it was definitely worth it. I'm currently working on Michigan time lapse compilation using my track, but it's not done yet, so you'll have to wait... Anyway, here's my track:

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