Shaken Not Stirred

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Can I UPS This?

What can be said about mail-order brides? On the news tonight was a story that concerned the downfalls of marrying one these catalogue beauties (not!). The newscaster said that often many men are afraid to speak out about some the sinister behavior of these C.O.D. stamped packages because they were embarassed about how they obtained them in the first place. Well buddy, looks to me like you bought a hooker, only the price you paid was YOUR LIFE!!! What are some of these guys thinking. I know, I know, it's the 90's, many people meet their significant other on-line. We've got so many on-line dating services that if they didn't serve alcohol, most bars would have closed down by now. However, to go to sites that offer brides for a price?

One guy was complaining because he found out that he was being used for his visa. He came home one day and all traces of her was gone. He said that he got her over here on a fiancee visa (one that allows the girl to come into the U.S. providing that a marriage take place within 90 days). He became a little suspicious when she insisted that they get married right away. But he said that he thought they were in love. He was convinced that this was the love of his life. He had finally found someone (I would insert a Barry Manilow tune here, but I don't know how and I don't think that Mr. Shife would like it very much). And just as soon as the romance had started, the carpet had been literally pulled from underneath his feet and she was gone.

On the flip side, there are also stories about the poor girls being abused. I read a story in either People or Newsweek about an Asian bride being brutally murdered by her husband. I can't remember all the details but the guy was able to hide it for quite awhile because she had no family here. There was no one to check up on it and no one to called the authorities. He was finally caught and jailed.

Back to the idiocy of mail order brides. While I was in school abroad, I remember studying in the school lobby and hearing some guy speaking English to the school guard. I looked up to see a blonde haired blue eyed guy. The guard wouldn't let him onto school grounds so he started shouting "Does anyone know blah-blah-blah"? Some of the other students ignored him (or didn't understand him-take your pick). However, me and the other American students quite intrigued walked over to the gate that separated us from the streets. We asked him who he was looking for and he was thankful that someone was paying attention to him.

This was our conversation (remember this happened a few years ago and I'm remembering it as best as I can--plus it's Fat Tuesday night and I've had some Coronas, pizza and chips).

Groom-to-be: "Oh thank God, other Americans. Do you guys know blah-blah-blah".
Mark: "Nope, should we?"
Groom-to-be: "Yes, she's a medical student here at this school"
Me: "What year? We're in second"
Groom-to-be: "Third."
Ed: "I don't think so. We pretty much know all the other Americans in this school".
Groom-to-be: "She isn't. She's one of them".
Me: "It's a small school. Let me ask one of the third years" I walk away to a classroom within.
Me: "No one has ever heard of her. Are you sure it's this school? There are two others in this city"--yelling from within a hallway--disturbing other students who all say in their language 'there's that loud American again'
Groom-to-be: "Nope it's this school, see here's her letter".
Ed: "Yeah, that's this school but no one has heard of her"
Groom-to-be: "That's impossible, I've sent her money for tuition for the last three years. We got engaged a few months ago. I sent her a ring. She said 'yes'"
Mark: "And yet you've never met?"
Groom-to-be: "On the phone and web cam. We would chat for hours. How can I find her?"
Me: "What's the bitch's address?"
Groom-to-be: "I sent the money Western Union. I sent gifts to a postal box".
Mark: "Yeah, you're fucked"
Me: "Cash? You didn't send the money to this school? You're fucked"
Groom-to-be: "My family is waiting back in the hotel. I've gotta tell them"

And so we rode in a taxi back with him. Dropped him off at the entrance. I wonder what happened inside. I don't think he ever found her because we told him to come back to the school if he did. The guard said he never came back.
I don't know what the point to my story was. I really was going somewhere, however I think the Corona took me on a different path.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Nose Knows

Yes, I know, lately I've had an obsession with smells. Firstly, with the new smell of cousin. The day after his party, I shopped for new colognes. And now, I've discovered that medicine also has it's peculiar smells.

I've been studying the little clues that some physicians use to tip them off towards a proper diagnosis. There are laboratory clues, the body areas a patient might point to as a source of pain, their description of pain, onset of pain, duration of pain etc, etc... The most bizarre of these clues is the smells given off by certain diseases.

I remember when I was going thru my surgery rotation, one of the physicians told me that once I smelled gangrene, I would never forget it. I would know gangrene the instance I smelled it and would recognize it from there on out. I thought to myself, it probably smells like really bad body odor. That ideal could not have been further from the truth. This smell was the worst thing my nostrils ever came into contact with. I can remember walking into the emergency room and being slapped, no knocked out by an odor so powerful that it lifted me and my co-fourth years off our feet. I actually said, "Who's ass was blended and smeared with limburger cheese onto a sardine". Yes, this physician was correct, I won't forget that smell.

While studying today I came upon some diseases in which scent was given as clues. The first disease is Bacterial vaginitis (Gardnerella vaginalis). This is a vaginal disesase in which a greenish vaginal discharge is noted. Microscopically, vaginal epithelial cells covered with bacteria can be noted. Okay enough of a clue for me--especially the microscopic clue--no other vaginitis would do that right? The next clue was--the discharge emits a fishy odor. WTF? I didn't know that smelling a patient's discharge was involved with presenting a diagnosis as well as it's differentials. I'm just going to go with the microscopic clue.

The next disease I studied today was maple syrup urine disease. As the name implies, a baby's urine would be sweet tasting. Someone back in history, and I'm guessing one of the people who first discovered this malady must have been dipping fingers into the beakers and testing the samples. WTF? What would drive a person to taste test urine? I've heard that rumor that if a person is stranded without water, they can drink their urine several times before it becomes poisonous (I'm thinking the Phoenix can maybe show us the light on this urban legend). Was it the same researchers who thought of this same theory?

Finally there is the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This is a common cause of urinary tract infections. The bizzare clue here is the fruity odor it gives off when cultured. Not once during my second year in the laboratory did I ever put my nose to a cultured plate of disease. I wore a mask and googles.

There you have some of the diseases with scents as their clues. I wonder when Febreeze is going to come out with their hospital line of air freshners.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

During medical school, my friends and I became a family. There was about 15 of us all in all--all American students, studying abroad. We were apart from our own families, so we slowly began to rely on each other for the little things.

Since we've recently graduated, we have spread apart. And now this new family that we created has been spread apart. I'm in West Virginia of course, but others are in Florida, South Carolina, Indiana, California, Tennessee, New York, New Jersey, and Arizona. We've gone our separate ways.

It's funny how you grow to depend on people. Take for instance my friend Mulan (I wrote about her before--she makes me watch Lifetime Television for Women). I was so dependent on her in medical school for everything from organize my notes to helping me out for dinner. We were on the phone last night and she asked me what I had for dinner. I told her that I had a bowl of instant rice pilaf. I was happy--she was perturbed that I was not "eating correctly". What is correct eating?

She told me that she was going to come down and make sure that I was eating three decent meals a day. Wouldn't that be cool, having a "wife" without having the commitment? I wonder if casual sex could be a part of this set-up.

Anyway, the small family that we've created have kept in touch thanks to Cingular, no roaming and free cell to cell. We still all depend emotionally on one another and talk just as much, if not more than when we all were in class. It's nice to know that one can create a family wherever they go. A house is not a home. A home is the people who occupy it.

That was cheesy. I'm going to stop before it clogs the arteries.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Smell of Manhood

My cousin Trey had his Confirmation ceremony on Sunday. Confirmation is for Catholics, what Bar Mitvah's are for the Jewish (I think). It's a rite of passage in which Catholic children confirm their beliefs in the church and basically enter into adulthood as functioning Catholics. Again, this is my perception of it, was my perception of it when it happened to me and the perception I got out of it watching many ceremonies occur.
Trey had his party at his home. Lots of food and music. Of course, we included pork on the menu. I think that Bar Mitzvahs don't have pork. And there was lots of money given. Because we are of Filipino descent, there was also a karaoke machine for our parent's/the elderly guests enjoyment. They used it too--it was magic stick as well. It didn't do anything magical for their voices. They still sounded the same--out of tune, but happy.
I saw Trey in the midst of the crowd and called him over so that I could congratulate him. Having gone through all the classes for confirmation and gone through the ceremony many years ago (many, many, many) I was proud that he made it though. I gave him a hug and was taken aback by a musky/fresh smell. I hugged him again and then asked, "Are you wearing cologne?".
He smirked and said, "Someone gave it to me as a confirmation gift". He said this rather defensively.
I told him that I wasn't berating him. I just said I was surprised that he was wearing it.
The reason that it took me by surprise was because I use to associate cologne with "grown-ups". I remember getting my first cologne--Polo at about the age of 18 and thinking it was a pretty big deal to wear. Trey is only 14, a mere baby in my eyes.
Maybe it's because I watched him grow up. I remember when his parents told me about his first steps. I also remember a few other things--like the fact that he loved playing outside. It didn't matter what the temperature was, he loved being outside. The cologne was a new scent on Trey. The scent I remember is a mixture of children sweat with the woodsy smell of being outdoors.
At the end of the night when I was saying goodbye. I hugged him again. I must have made a face, because Trey smirked and bit his lower lip to keep from going into complete laughter.
He said, "It's called Lacoste".
I told him it smelled great and gave him another hug.
While driving my car, I cracked the window open to let some cold air in. Just then, I got a whiff of that woodsy, outdoor smell that use to cling to my younger cousin's clothes.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Just When Your Warranty Runs Out....

I spent the afternoon with my mother, aunts, sister and cousin yesterday. We had lunch at the Olive Garden--calamari appetizer is food for the gods. One of the aunts was visiting from the Philippines. She's a world traveler, never staying in one place for very long. She comes to West Virginia once a year, stays about a week and then goes onward to see other people or other places. This time her mountain visit time was cut short by a desire to see New Orleans. After this lunch with all females, I needed something to wash all the estrogen off of me. I didn't have to wait for long. My manhood was again thrust back to the forefront.

After dropping my aunt off at the airport (I was driving my mother's car), my father called and asked me to get him a Fish Filet at McDonald's. He's usually a very health conscious person (fish broiled or grilled--fresh, not more than a few days post-catch), steamed veggies or plain rice. No dessert, no fatty foods. But he does have his moments. Fish Filet's at McDonald's are one of them.Long John Silvers is the other moment. What I don't get is this man demands the freshest of seafood when dining out, but will have a once in a blue moon craving for this fast food fried crap. As I pulled into McDonald's, my mother's car just suddenly stopped. It coasted for two secondns and the engine just shut off.

My first thought, WTF? This is a car that barely has 39,000 thousand miles on it. It is a Mercedes Benz, supposedly a finely tuned piece of machinery. I thought things like this don't happen to these babies. The car had just had it's last "check-up" in late November. Did you know that Mercedes Benz has it's "check-ups" like people--they do all kinds of diagnnostic tests and stuff every couple months just to make sure it's ticker is ticking correctly? So I was rather perplexed when it went "putt-putt-putt--blah". My mother of course was having a hissy fit--"how could this happen", "there can't be anything wrong with MY car", "what did you do"? My thought was that the car was so sensitive, it knew that a mere unworthy student was driving it and in it's temperamental state, wanted nothing to do with me, so just laid there like a high priced call girl. She told me to get out of the driver's seat and she would get it to go. We traded seats, she put the key into the ignition twisted and nothing happened (I shouldn't say key--it isn't a key, it's just this square thing with an infra-red thingamajig on one end. The ignintion recognizes the infrared thing and starts when prompted). The radio and heater did come on, so my guess was the battery was fine.

I called Mercedes roadside assistance. And yes they were pleasant, kind compassionate. The first thing they asked was "Are you in a safe place". The lady on the other end asked for the VIN of the vehicle. She then said she would have a specialized technician call me within a few moments. However,they couldn't find an on call technician in my area to come out to me. So we called AAA to tow it to the dealership. At this point, my mother had asked my father to come down and trade places with her. She took off in his car and left us men to do all the explaining. The towing company arrived in almost no time--kudos to them!!! They pulled up, parked beside the car and started to do the things mechanics do.

My father was so like a four year old again. He was completely fascinated watching the mechanic throw the straps onto the car and watch the towing in action. The mechanic said to my father--"Slick isn't it", just like he was talking to a little boy watching Nascar on the sidelines. My father smiled and said, "really neat". He kept watching as the car was lifted upwards. I couldn't believe how easily amused he was. He then commented that my younger nephews would probably have liked to watch this towing process. Ahh, there it was, the awe didn't come from him, but the thought that his younger grandchildren would have gotten a kick out of it.

The mechanic made a comment about how beautiful the car was. My father retorted that beauty meant nothing unless it runs. He then said something about the two year or 50,000 mile warranty, adding that the two years had come first.

We got the car towed to the dealership and I left a note along with my cell number in their late night drop box. I wanted to be the one to explain to them what had happened since I was driving the car. I also wanted to divert them from my mother's anger--she would have let them have it--"how could this happen", "this car has only this many miles on it", "you just checked it less than three months ago". All of this done in a shreik that the neighborhood dogs would howl to. I also didn't want her to tell them, "it broke and I did nothing at all" leaving them without any clues for assessment. They called early in the morning and the car is currently being attached to a systems computer to find out the problem.

"We'll fix the problem," the guy said in an almost apologetic tone. He sounded like whatever had happened was their fault. Why can't all mechanics be this nice?

The car is currently in stable condition. All assessments should be out by late afternoon. They'll keep us posted with updates and any changes in status.

P.S. I would like to thank all the friendly people who stopped and offered their help.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Look Ma No Hands

While reviewing some psychiatry yesterday, I found what I thought to be some descrepancies. You can correct me if I'm wrong or else add your own observations, thoughts and experiences.

According to the author of my review book, masturbation is a normal activity from infancy to old age. Nothing wrong with this statement. The author gave several reasons for masturbation, among them: it feels good, a person may be tired (WTF?), bored (okay, I'll give the author that), lonely (a definite reason), as a sleep aid (another WTF?) and to relieve stress. I think the author also forgot to mention pictures of Jessica Simpson in daisy dukes with those red boots peddling pizza, the twinkle in Mandy Moore's eyes, Jennifer Love Hewitt's cleavage and Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. You many add any other visual effects you want. As per Mr Shife--no montages involving Barry Manilow.

Now here's the kicker. For frequency, it was quoted that adolescents partook of this activity approximately 3 to four times weekly, a number I felt was grossly underestimated. For adults it was stated they did this 1 to 2 times weekly. And finally for married people, only once a month. Someone lied on some surveys--fess up people! Or else those who answered the survey had no hands by which to touch themselves!!!

The next statement said that masturbation was equally common between men and women. HA! I knew chicks touched themselves as much as we did, they just hid it better. I know this because one of my really, really good friends and I had this conversation concerning "warm weather" and sweaty nights. She told me that she felt like really going at it during the song "Body is a Wonderland" by John Mayer--she said she really felt like finding those wonders during a bubblebath while John crooned in the background. This five minute ice breaker turned into a four hour conversation--about the places that we've done this and the people we've fantasized about.

The review book went on to explain that masturbation was only abnormal if it interefered with normal sexual functioning--which I found a contradiction. I thought it was part of normal sexual functioning. It also said it was abnormal if it interefered with one's occupation. It could only interfere with one's occupation if this sort of scenario could ensue: "Is that mayonnaise good or bad?".
Another factoid that was stated was this behavior if excessive or done to reduce tension could lead to premature ejaculation. How can there be something to ejaculate if it's already on a bathroom wall? I would think it would help a guy out to unload the first few ounces.

Anyway, these are some of the thoughts that peruse my vast wasteland of knowledge while I study. If I could only tell you the things that pop into my head while reviewing anatomy.
P.S. Happy Valentines Day

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Groundhog's Fault

I blame this late snow on the Groundhog. Up until he came from his hole to check out his shadow, we've had a pretty mild winter. Some of our temperature has even been in the 60's and low 70's. Nothing freezing and no ice on the road. We would occasionally have a chill in the air--cold enough for a great sweater and scarf combo, but nothing that would warrant turning up the heat and having to defrost the car.
Now, however, a few weeks after Mr Groundhog has seen his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter, we have our first real snow. The stuff is all over the outside--about three inches worth. Luckily, the weatherman had warned us and the salt trucks have been out all week. Still however, I was told that only one lane on the highway (the West Virginia roads) was really clear.
I don't know what I'm going to do exactly on this stay-inside and keep your feet warm day. I've memorized some pharmacology. I talked to a friend on the phone for an hour, maybe two. I read some gastro and also some psychiatry. I'm just waiting for "Grey's Anatomy" to come on. I'll skip "Desperate Housewives" since it makes no sense to me at all. It was like that show that everyone loved in the 90's--the anorexic lawyer who shared only one bathroom with all her co-workers. Everyone kept telling me to watch that show, that I would love it. I didn't get it at all. I didn't like hearing her thoughts outloud or watching the bizzare stories play themselves out. I also didn't get the fact that they had a piano player who sang songs for them.
I can't even blog clearly cause I'm pissed at the Groundhog.

Friday, February 10, 2006


I like having thousands of songs at my fingertips. Practically every CD I own stored into a little white box. However, I also like the fact that my iPod gives me the ability to create playlists--my favorite songs to be played whenever the mood hits me.

One of my playlists contains music that to me is nostalgic, not because the music is old, but because they conjure up certain feelings and memories.

Some of the most played songs on my iPod are:
"Collide" by Howie Day.
"100 Years" by Five for Fighting
"Ordinary People" by John Legend
"Tiny Dancer" by Tim McGraw (no Elton on my pod)
"Must Be Doing Something Right" by Billy Currington
"No Ordinary Love" by Jennifer Love Hewitt--doesn't induce many memories, but doesn't she have great cleavage?
"For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder
"My Humps" by Black Eyed Peas
"You're Beautiful" by James Blunt
"Since You've Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson
"Independence Day" by Carrie Underwood
"You and Me" by Kenny Chesney

No matter how many times I listen to these songs, most of them draw forth the same memories from my vast wasteland of knowledge, otherwise known as my brain. I can even remember minute details like the way the air smelled and what I was thinking at the time.

I don't know why, but I create these "videos" in my mind to the songs that are on my iPod and they are modified versions of the memories that are drawn when the song pops up. The outcome is always the same, the storyline is just Hollywooded--you know my friends and I look better (I don't have a gut and I'm 6 ft tall). Plus the setting is better-- beachfront instead of poolside, restaurants instead of picnic tables and Jamaica instead of a backyard). We never tapdance, never sing, nor is anyone wearing ruffles (although a few times they are eating them). But the song plays as backdrop to my memory. The song ends and then so does a memory, until the next song pulls a new one back up again.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sorry To Dump This On You

The other day I was in a restaurant--let me paint the picture---on my way to the restaurant the urge to urinate hit me. The bumps and potholes of some of the West Virginia roads did not help me to suppress the urge for very long. Needless to say, when I got to the restaurant, I plowed right by the maitre d' and to the bathroom. Thank God I eat there frequently enough to knock some of the waiters over on my way to the urinal.
I pushed open the door, unzipped and felt instant relief and the yellow liquid spilled forth. And then sighing, I took in my first real breath. The stench in their was horrendous. I could hear a toilet in one of the stalls finish it's swirl. Damn, what died in some man's colon? And furthermore, why didn't he spray the Febreeze deodorizer sitting on the sink. He may have, nothing could have drowned out that stench.
My problem? Receiving the blame for the wretched odor--I could hear some restaurant patrons outside the door ("Honey, I'll pay as soon as I finish up in here"...the door opens and a well dressed man walks in). He instantly sucks in his last breath and proceeds to the wall urinal. I know what he is thinking and I can't think of a way to let him know I didn't do it.
What is the proper bathroom etiquette to let someone know you didn't create the mess?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Time Travel

I recently picked up a friend of mine from the airport. She was coming back from Asia. The funny thing was, she left on Tuesday and arrived on Tuesday. I thought it was the coolest thing. It was like H.G. Well's dreams had come true!!! She went back in time, only she couldn't undo the the things that she had done the night before--or fix any mistakes that she made. She only traveled back about 14 hours. The very concept! Wow!

It's so cool how that worked. Her itinerary stated she was leaving the international airport at 11 p.m. on January 31st and then arriving in Los Angeles at 6:10 p.m. January 31st! Tada!!

Since I went to medical school in the Philippines, I always did this time travel trick. It always amazed me. And I always pondered, since I made the trip several times a year---during semestral breaks, Christmas breaks and summer breaks--did I somehow get younger during the course of med school? I'm actually looking to Phoenix to answer this question. He's really good at finding scientific answers.

However, I know I didn't feel any younger after the flight. I actually felt nauseated. The airline food SUCKED! I had no idea what it was made of, but I can tell you what it smelled like. I never actually tasted it because of the aroma that filled the plane's cabin during meal time. Plus I've been terrified of flying--that "Airplane" movie with Robert Hays and Leslie Nielson did me in. And the cabin itself also filled with body smells after several hours. There is no bottle of Febreeze big enough to drown out 11 hours of passing gas and halitosis. So maybe what I gained in hours, I lost in discomfort.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Coming Soon...Well Maybe..On Video

My buddy Bob came to visit West Virginia. He was passing through on his way to an interview at University of Kentucky for a residency in internal medicine. While he was here, he played with his Christmas present, a video camera. He filmed the city of Charleston and the surrounding area.
He then placed the camera down on the table during lunch and started asking me questions. I of course, acted it up thinking this was something he was going to keep for private. I just imagined him playing it during some reunion or at least his best man speech (I'm not engaged or getting married anytime soon). During the "interview" he asked if I ever thought of VLOGging. I asked him what that was and he said people have turned their blogs into live broadcasts. He then said that I should do the same. I told him I couldn't and he replied "You just did" and informed me that he might just put this clip onto a VLOG.
I gave him full permission of course. It might be fun to broadcast like that, to have some of my conversations on-line for people to listen to. However, they might be annoyed cause I can talk for hours.
There is a part of the conversation I would change. Bob asked me if I regretted anything from my past. I told him that I didn't, because my past helped me to create what I am today. But I came across a post from another blog--the author said he didn't believe it when people said they don't regret their past. Slopmaster let's us know exactly what we should regret from our past.