Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It Happens To All Of Us

but when death happens to "family" it hurts no matter how long one knew it was coming.

I'm older, if you've followed my blog at all, you already know that.

On Monday, my dad celebrated his 80th birthday. 80! I wonder when my dad got to be so old... which scares me a bit.

My 2nd "father" passed yesterday. Reminded me once again how precious life is (not that I needed reminding afterall, I survived my first son Austin who died of SIDS at 6 months). Reminded me yet again, that my own father no matter how irritating he can be, is only here for a short time.

I feel like I want to rush out and document all the memories so when his day comes, I remember ALL of it... as I am trying to do now, with Mr. Zim.

The slides (remember those??? or not) from my parents traveling with Mr. and Mrs. Zim; Mr. Zim always SOOOoooooo conservative but I think it is fair game now, I can tell the story about him dancing up the aisle in a grass skirt aboard the 747 from Honolulu. Or the story about when he used to take us little kids in the B I G boat around the lake and tell haunted stories about Boy Scout Island and the witch... scaring us so that even when I grew older and kayaked across the lake, I was ... nervous.

I want to remember all of the stories of Mr. Zim. I need to remember them all. For in each one of those stories is one about my own parents and the bond between our families that has spanned almost 60 years.

Life is never long enough, or complete enough. Maybe that's the lesson I'm to take from this. Mr. Zim had a full life but I'm very sure he had no desire to develop Alzheimer's, and absolutely no desire to be a burden upon Mrs. Zim. I have no doubt Mrs. Zim ever minded caring for him, in their home for the several years that he suffered from the affliction.

I'm all over the map. I'm bummed. I'm remembering and wanting those to be the reality, not a faded memory of a childhood left far behind with people that I cherish and adore.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mr. Zim

Last year in biochem we studied the effects and ravaging that Alzheimer's does to the physical brain of a patient. Set side by side, the normal curvatures and depth of crevices, is vastly different than that of the Alzheimer's patient. In the normal brain other areas are still full of matter, in the dementia patient, not so much.

Mr. Zim was a 2nd father to me. When I was a baby, his eldest three kids were on a boat with my parents and my two older brothers.... while it sank... at the dock. Meanwhile, he was back at the cabin with his wife Mrs. Zim watching me take my first baby steps.

His stories of alligator island and the lake witch, his love of the eagles and incessant need to drive the boat up into the channels, his patience teaching this noob how to waterski, his ability to not scream at me when I launched a myriad of fireworks around his boats during a 4th of July celebration, his concern for my well being when my parents informed him that I had just had Austin, his insistence that my parents acknowledge and sujpport me no matter how embarrassed they were that I was a single mom (the first time), his care and love for me as a family daughter... all 45 years of memories that I can easily access are in front of me, like a video tape inside my head.

Today, Mr. Zim left his worldly life behind. Today, Mr. Zim left family and friends to mourn his passing.

Alzheimer's took his life but Heaven gained a righteous, wonderful soul.

R.I.P. Mr. Zim, my life was blessed for having had you in it.

Test - My Blog Disappeared...


Monday, June 28, 2010

Wow - Some Traffic Driven To My Site!!!

It never hurts to have my blog cross posted (as many of you have linked me up as well). A little dollar here or there will buy me the elusive fountain Diet Coke, or may I dream, and a longggg weekend away in Florida (or do I live there already?! :P)

Make it a great day!

Wanting To Help

Open question:

I'd like to help the animals in Florida over the summer - relocating or rehabbing or whatever them during the next few months that I have some limited free time.

While not patient related in the human sense, I cannot and will not forget that being human means caring for all of God's creatures - limbed, forked, webbed, billed - or not.

Anyone have some ideas?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

As A Matter Of Fact

I have had enough of the "Hope And Change" diatribe spewed forth by the current Obama administration.

I've likewise had enough Bush bashing to last a life time, and I was not a Bush fan. Ever.

Billboard on way to dog show today depicted a man in black tux shredding the United States Constitution with the question, "Had enough Hope and Change Yet?"

Yes, I have. We all have. We all fear what happens when the Blobama Care gets put into place and the physicians are hurt the worst... not the cardio-thoracic, or the ortho, or the onc... the FPs, peds, IMs, EDs... (yes, the rads too).

Enough Hope And Change - give me something I can tangibly hang onto... like money in my pocket and a real job or real money for tuition. I'd take either.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

ED - Noticeable Items (No, Not Male Related)

So, a visit to the local emergency department for me tonight... yes, let us recap this past week:

1) Dutch bloat, euthanized at age 11.5
2) Rear ended on Thursday headed to contract job
3) Got miffed, disgruntled, confused with ... how to define him ...
4) Woke up with headaches and dizziness on Friday
5) Double vision tonight... visit to ED

While waiting upon the nicely layered gurney, looking up I found pretty pictures.

Going to CT, there were more pretty pictures of scenic landscapes (of course, still in double).

While in the CT, I kept my eyes closed - man, I hate those things!!! Some of you rad guys must just LOVE torturing unsuspecting fools like me :P

So, good news is that there are no tumors, bleeding on the brain, and there appears to be a functioning cerebellum x2, and everything appeared normal.

Bad news?

Still have a freaking headache, my vision still is hazy, and it's hot in the house.

Make it a great night! I'm headed to...

a movie.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Credit Scores

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I remember getting my credit report. It was a solid 760 with the only detraction on it... a student loan that was almost 15 years old (and being paid for).

Carefully crafting such a score was rather easy: money was plentiful, bills were paid on time in full more often than not, the mortgage was paid in full each month with extra tossed in for good measure. It was great. The Cadillac came at almost 3% interest when that kind of rate on that vehicle was seen as obscene; my Infiniti was the same way - low interest rate, obscene terms.

I'm poor now. My credit score is abysmal. Three years of watching life toss me about like "Wild Eyes" in the Indian Ocean, mast adrift off the side and my credit score is trashed. Student loans for medical school scare me as I'm not sure how far under the cap I am anyway. Private loans, to pay for the rest of my undergrad classes let alone early medical school, given what I've gone through are probably not a possibility either.

However, not all is lost or hopeless. Heck, if I can make it successfully through gen chem II, I can re-establish solid credit again. It's not the end of the world.

How will I?

There is a forum of financial leaning folks that started a site called Yes, the bastards at Fair Isaac (tongue in cheek my friends there), have a site set up. Here's the link:

The part I like is not that you can get scammed for money to get your score BUT that you can ask questions to real people who have rehabbed their scores and improved their loan approval rates ... including private loans for medical school.

People whose stories I have read have gone from worse situations than mine, to an 800 score in a few years. It is not overnight, it takes time... I know that. If I am accepted to medical school the first year, I will have exactly 5 years before the cap is met on student loans and I will need private subsidies instead. Unless handsome man steps up to plate (hahahahaha), I will be looking at those types of funding options.

I'd encourage all of you to read the site, whether or not you have excellent credit or not. There are useful tips. And quite frankly, ALL of you know someone who has been hurt by the last recession and could probably use a pointer to hope.

Make it a great day - mine already is looking better (despite the tornado warnings earlier - "Thar she blows, Elfaba!")

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Contract

Very interesting stuff I'm learning, all FDA approved and marketed by the company.

What's even been more interesting is the videos I've gotten to watch AS PART OF WORK!!! Whoo hoo :)

Videos of throats getting sliced to insert new cool medical devices, insertion of brain electrodes, pre and post effect of the same medical devices.

I knew, I'd be open to them paying me $5 an hour. I was not kidding... it's like... via osmosis I'm smarter just sitting there typing up contract information. With all the MD and/or PhD people sitting around talking about their latest/greatest, I can't help but be smarter... then they hear my plans and man, they just smile and tell me,

"You'll make it!"

Yes, despite myself, I may actually!

Make it a great day - I'm going to try :D

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

And Then There Were Two

The other great dane in my brood, bloated last night. At almost 12 years of age, 9 years with someone else, it was his time.

In the 20 minutes after he ate, I knew something was wrong. Unlike the event with Storm, there was no panic, just a harried pace to get him some relief.

Last night, in the brightly lit entry of an emergency vet, I authorized the euthanasia of Dutch, the grumbly great dane that darkened the top stairs of our new house.

Run free, my friend, run free. Somewhere up there is a cherry wood desk for you to hide underneath while you watch the world go 'round. Somewhere up there is a bone for you to chew, and lap for you to rest upon.

I will never forget you, my friend, never.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And With That...

I'm done.

70 questions. Many were fairly straight forward, some were teasers, one or two made me scratch my chin, eliminate bad choices, and punt. Who knew my days in elementary school football league would come into play in gen chem.

A couple of quizzes to turn in, a homework assignment, and extra credit piece of an exam and I'm done.

Instructor told me I did fine... Define fine, haha!

Yeay! Onto my contract, onto a pedi-mani, and onto ORGO!

T - 1.5 Hours

In less than 1.5 hours I take the cumulative final as written by ACS. In less than 7 hours, I will be done with gen chem series. Can we all say, "F@## that" and smile broadly? Although reviewing for the final has made me recollect Spring 2009's gen chem 1 class, I'm okay with that too. The notes I took, the note cards I wrote, the exams I kept all helped in refreshing my memory.

Basic atomic structure - protons and neutrons make up the mass, the mass of the atom is mostly made up of the protons and neutrons, not electrons as they are tiny and carry very miniscule mass... of course, I could get really technical and talk about neutrinos, but I'll save that for when I'm in physics. There are the basic orbital shapes, quantum numbers, if n = x, then l can only = ???, ml and ms not to be forgotten. Oh, I think even good old Millikan and Rutherford made it into my note cards as well as Planck's constant, Henry, and Bohr.

VSEPR - can I say I'm sick of memorizing these and just hope that what I know about them now will carry me through organic? Up to and including hybridized models, I get them now as well as the bond angles.

Bond order related to bond strength is inversely related to bond length... triple bonds are shorter than single bonds (and single bonds are sigma bonds, all others are pi)

Stoichiometry - yep, just like accounting along with molality to molarity to mole fraction to percentage yield, and every chemist's best friend Avogadro.

Equilibrium, dynamics including pH given various components think I can manage that up to and including the conversion of different pH given a higher temp and the addition of different base or acid. Ksp, Kc= kf/kr, kw=ka*kb, kw=1.0 x 10^-14, and yep... I good there. Arrhenius is my best friend and the rate laws, half-life, and activation energy are solid. I even know which R value to use when, when to use e^ and ln and log. I think, I may be getting this - - - finally!

Periodicity is something that I can "see" - the pages from my textbook from Spring 2009 are still mulling around inside my brain and I finally get ionization of radii and the effect of ionized atoms and EN.

Electrochemistry is solid. Thanks to my instructor and lab instructor sitting with me and explaining that I'm not "doing" wet chemistry in the equations, I'm simply balancing the equations using water or OH-. I get that now too as well as voltaic cells and galvanic cells, which is the anode, which is the cathode, what the salt bridge does and why it matters (ions don't move if the salt bridge is not intact in both solutions). I can see the E^0 equation in my head and will quickly remember to write down the Nernst equation although, if really tested on that, I may punt.

Last, is the lab part of the test. I think I'll be okay. My lab instructor this semester was helpful, insightful, patient while I asked my gazillions of questions and was, in her words, "a little perfectionist" in measuring as well as mindful of proper disposal of waste products... some just should not be sent down the drain.

I think I have a late quiz to turn in, and one extra credit exam prep to finalize but then I am done. With my new contract looming on Monday, it appears I may actually get onto organic chemistry... finally.

The path through the last 16 months has been interesting, amusing, horrific, blessed, happy, and finally...


Make it a great day :D

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Low A, High B

on the 3rd exam. I'm thankful for the ability to get partial credit for problems but I'm not happy I did not do better. I knew the stuff cold.

Onto the final in two days :) And then, may I say, onto orgo!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Contract Awarded, Contract Went Poof, House Update

Who knew wanting to get to med school would be so circuitous, treacherous, and loaded with a roller coaster of emotion.

Had to go back to the old house last night. The US Postal Service now charges $1 to change your address, unless you print out the former cards the service used, take to the old postal office, and submit. The USPS no longer has the cards on hand. Guess bailing out Wall Street not only will come through our taxes but through our service fees at governmental agencies. Sigh, I digress.

Anyway, back at the old house's mailbox, in the dark of night so as to avoid seeing any of my former nosy, classless neighbors, I grabbed the mail. Not as full as I'd expected but there some interesting tidbits:
  1. A letter from Wells Fargo dated MAY 10, 2010 stating my new interest rate is effective June 1, 2010 with the new payment due on July 1, 2010. Apparently, the dolts at the bank forgot to tell whoever took my home, the bank now owns my former home. Good luck with me paying for the new mortgage. Deja vu. I might remind everyone: A letter dated November 9, 2009 stated a similar arrangement ~ less interest, new payment, due in a month. Went to make payment, bank f@#$ed up and my home was actually gone.
  2. A letter from Wells Fargo dated MAY 10, 2010 asking for an updated insurance policy on said home further stating that my former policy had expired on April 1, 2010. Really? Didn't know that I'd still been paying insurance on a home that was no longer mine.
  3. A letter from the insurance company for the $30,000 loss, wondering why I had not cashed checks in the amount of $29,700 for the loss. Trying to figure out if I can let the insurance company know that Wells Fargo would not let me cash the checks to fix the damage by said loss, and is now the sole owner of said house. Wells Fargo in it's "right hand didn't talk to the left hand" not only ended up foreclosing on a home that I believe it was not entitled to do, nor did it follow due process, but now was upside down in a house that has extensive structural damage from original builder, and water damage from last spring. Interesting, had the letters dated May 10, 2010 been in effect last year instead, the damage would have been repaired, the house sold, and both the bank and myself whole. But lest that be logical, the bank representatives apparently are short sighted and not nearly savvy enough to realize a win-win scenario... only what "policy states." Good luck, Wells Fargo. Several states are lining up to sue the large bank for fraud. I hope some state takes up the action about stupidity but I guess states don't legislate that, do they?
  4. A letter to my son, from himself, dated September 3, 2003. At the end, he said he hoped that his mom and "evil' (name specifically assigned to this d... bag) are happy and married when he receives it 6 years from writing. We read it last night. Evil. Evil caused so many issues in our lives that still linger today. Evil. We saw the name and there was dead silence. The letter was written in the manner that only a 6th grader could do. He was trying to be happy about his new step-dad (evil) and optimistic. Six years later all we could do is be silent, take out an eraser, and wipe Evil's name off the letter. Six years later, the damage done by that waste of human flesh is still apparent in my son's life... the anger still steaming out of my son's ears.
It was not hard to drive away from the old house. There are no BIG BLARING SIGNS SAYING LOSER LOST HOME FOR SALE, no stapled letters to the front door, the lawn was mowed, but it is apparent, no one lives there anymore.

It was hard to have the letters from Wells Fargo, dated long after I'd given the keys to their representative, long after the last tears were shed for a life lived not so long ago, long after the last time I locked the doors for good and said a quiet goodbye to my nosy classless neighbors.

Life moves on, and so I am too.

Contract awarded last week looked like it was in jeopardy this week when I asked for a different start date given my final exam looming next Thursday. I started putting out feelers for new engagements and was thrilled to find better contracts abound and if awarded, closer to home.

Happily, however, the contract is a go. I start on the 21st.

What a week. But with a hope renewed again, I move forward a little more. I can think beyond "WTF" to "This is how I'm going to do things"... and I can hope that someday, some state, goes after Wells Fargo for the bungling of their business model, the ineptness and cruelty dispensed without regard for the humans on the other side of their bungling and mismanagement. I hope it is class action. I know I'm not alone.

But today, I have hope. Today, I smile and know I will ace my final. Today, I can look beyond the utter darkness that loomed for almost three years. Today, I can study with relative calm and peace knowing my rent will be paid on time from now on, my friends are still my friends, and life is perpetually getting brighter again.

Make it a great day!

P.S. Thank GOD the Peruvian authorities have the kahonas to arrest that slime bucket Van der sNoot... I hope he rots. Peace to the many families who have had to endure his serial killer pathological nature. My heart goes out to them. When I think of my drama, it is nothing compared to theirs.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

S^!T, I Panicked


Hands cold? Check.

Mind blank? Check.


Not So Screwed

I know, I panic. Slightly panicked again this morning looking for my propranolol... yeah, the tiny little beta blocker I take 20 mins pre-exam to stop my head from pounding. Can't find them.

Honestly, not sure I need them today. Obviously, if I'm blogging about an impending exam, I must be feeling pretty good. While not overly prepared, I also know that T-2 hours is not going to lend itself to any in-depth, relevant light-bulb-flashing moments. Therefore, I choose to blog and research.

I landed a contract this week at a manufacturing company and can't say loudly enough, I'm beyond over-the-moon thrilled. A safety net for me for the summer, a means to pay next fall's tuition as I start my final approach to med school applications and the MCAT.

My friends and family are thrilled. After 40 years of thinking about this path, almost 3 years struggling to find solid footing again, 1 year getting to and through the loss of a life that I once held so near and dear, I'm on the final approach. Next year at this time, I will have taken the MCAT, finalized my coursework, sending in gobs and gobs and more gobs of money in application fees, and praying for the one letter that says, "Congrats!"

The test today is not the most favored of my former classmates. The comments have ranged from "didn't expect all that biochem to be on it" to "really? when did we study that?" The biochem part I'm feeling awesome with. Nucleotides have 5 membered carbon rings with an amine attached. Condensation reactions pop off a water, and connect in the middle (think glucose and fructose pop off the OH- and the H+, creating Sucrose + 1 H2O). Addition reactions, break a bond, form another single bond with another carbon, and continue.

Ksp is similar to every other equilibrium constant we study. The principals are like equating what is similar between Excel and Lotus. Once the basics are known, it becomes a rudimentary flip of the variables to find what one is looking for. And then there is thermo. I love thermo, don't ask me why. I'm geeky that way... and I love math.

So, instead of panicking and looking for my beta blockers in a frantic, tense fashion, I'm blogging instead, thinknig of the rest of my summer (after the final on the 17th), the contract that is signed, my current (??) employer's request (BILL - YOU ROCK!!), and my life getting on again.

Make it a great day!

What BP Will NOT Allow You To See

This is a dolphin, rotting on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Filled with oil, suffocating from the entrenched polymers contained within its lungs, it died a horrible death and now decays on the shoreline, immersed in the weeds. The dolphin, sadly, is not alone.

British Petroleum (BP) will not allow the President of the United States to see what is truly happening on a large scale throughout the spill area. Apparently, the PoTUS is only allowed to see certain aspects of it from sea and land. Sadly, as much as I am NOT a fan of the Obama administration, I have to hope he'd care somewhere in that liberal heart of his about the ecology of the spill, the environmental impact beyond the human.

If humans fail to comprehend or care about the wildlife of the sea, then we have lost all hope. Life started in the sea with its rich abundance of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and calcium. This is not a chemistry or biology lesson for the day, it is simply my opinion on a sad, tragic disaster.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gen Chem Exam

I'm screwed. Really screwed. Nothing like having a blast for 3 days, and not like I didn't deserve to have some quality fun time, but I'm really hosed, screwed... and mad at myself. Sort of. T - 17 hours... eee gad!

Gen chem is less than 2 weeks from being forever finished in my life (save for the MCAT which ironically, doesn't scare me).

But I have yet to finish the first chapter problems, let alone the 2nd and 3rd. I started the problem sets before my life went to hell and a hand basket (I know, when did that exactly happen? has it not been happening for almost 3 years now?)... but dang, I've not been this ill-prepared for an exam in ... 30 years.

Back to OMDG's advice: twice and honestly, with Concerta coursing through my head, I'll be fine. Just really hate feeling screwed!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back On Earth

On a perfectly beautiful Monday afternoon, I was harnessed up. There was no turning back, no saying, "No, I'm not going", no stating the obvious, "This is sort of dangerous, aye?" despite 11 pages of legal disclaimer more often than not, claiming, I COULD DIE!!!

The harnessing done, plane taxiing down the grassy traverse called a runway, effortlessly hoisting the pilot and a skydiving team of 4 (two idiots and two jump masters), we were off.

As the plane continued upward, I kept thinking we must almost be there.

Nope, we were at only 2500 feet. In my teensy brain I wondered, what in the hell I'd gotten myself into. Then we hit turbulence and the single prop, decaying Cessna jolted a bit. My stomach flipped. I smiled, internally wondering what had possessed me. Feeling like a little kid on a long car ride on 55 MPH highways, I wondered if "we were there yet." Not quite. Still another 7000' to go. Half an hour later, it was my friend's turn to go.

What surprised me most is that once his foot was out of the plane, he was gone. Like a prom dress... I mean, like a man with a mission, he was gone and with a gulp, I was moved forward. Unsure, cold, wary, I put my foot on the tiny plank, moved my other leg outside the plane and we were off.

To not be outdone, MY jump master apparently thought this first time jumper should do a ceremonious backflip in the air...

at 10,000 feet...

through a cloud.

The first 5000 feet are definitely the coldest and strangest. Hurtling to the Earth at 120 MPH is not for the faint of heart. The noise is as if two freight trains fully loaded with heavy materials are passing each other, with me standing in the median, engines screaming, wheels scraping against the metal rails. Loud... scratch that. VERY loud!

Cold, not scared, I wondered when I'd be warm again, wondered if I was going to lose my shoe that had become untied "CANNOT LOSE THE ASICS NIMBUS IN BRIGHT, HOT PINK," blared through my mind. Yes, really... as I was hurtling in freefall to the Earth I was worried about my pretty, hot pink running shoes and how cold I was, "When will I be warm again? I wonder if Jim is cold in shorts? Wonder if this will look good on the video?"

Then the chute opened, we glided to the landing spot, and peaceful, calm silence ensued. Conversations with the jump master were easy to hear. The scenery below my feet was amazing, the clouds were wisps of darkening white, and then, it was over. My hot pink shoes still on my feet (which I promptly tied), my friend was indeed cold but had warmed up and met me with a ginormous smile.

And, yes, I can't wait to go again. ONE backflip? Are you kidding me? I want a full twist next time WITH a backflip!!

Make it a great day ~ mine is going to be superb!