Monday, October 31, 2011

Yep! That's How I Felt

(Kid trashing his exam!)

I probably have a little "gunner" in me too ... but it did NOT pay off today!

Video is still fun to watch!

F (edited)

I hope not but:

we never discussed ring closing (with amines no less), the mechanism or the required mats... but it was there on the exam and worth 15 points

we discussed opening epoxides for 5 minutes, maybe 10 minutes, on Friday, very little on the mechanism, and even less so on attributes to know (acid opens most substituted side, base opens the less substituted side) and that, my dear readers was worth 20 points

35 points and I have no idea if I got one point on them despite doing ALL the homework problems, really mastering it again yesterday, and spending this morning making sure I could work my way around the homework assigned.

We covered E&Z for 5 minutes with TAs about 4 weeks ago; worth 10

we covered R&S for about 5 minutes with the TAs about 4 weeks ago; worth another 10 points

And last, we covered how to end a product or a reaction or make the mats to do it worth 45 points.

No idea.  I am just hoping most of the class (this sounds really, really mean), I'm just hoping I did not make the curve for the class and they did for me instead.

60+ hours studying ochem to have my arse handed to me on silver platter...

I could cry.  I could drink.  I could do both :)
Professor sent out an email less than an hour after grading started (paraphrased):


Grading is under way.  Exam key is online for you to review.  As you have probably guessed, I took most of the problems from the textbook so you can review the solutions manual for guidance 

(HUH?!?!?!?  NOT that I could see!).

For now, shelve this and go enjoy halloween if that is your thing.

No office hours today or tomorrow, we'll see you on Weds!

Signed, Professor"

I am thinking the grading is horrible right now and he felt compelled to prevent mass exodus from his class; otherwise, why send out a perfunctory email less than 1 hour after the exam ended and after grading has started?


Because I hate being down in the dumps, and I need to live resilience, not just pretend; from one of my all-time favorite movies (and one of my all time favorite soundtracks); could be tops for one of the best lines:

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Oh what fun it is to write mechanisms with tosy's!

The bright side is I "kind of" get them. Actually, none of the reactions are hard just very tedious and time consuming. I am trying to pick up my pace but am still relying on my flash cards for hints.


Had really hoped to have what goes with what down pat by now. Once I get started I am good to go. My arrows go the right way, my charges all make sense...

Okay. Final problems now all involve opening epoxides which is kind of funny since, while slightly embarrassed to say, I dreamt about them last night. I finish these up and then polish and say a little prayer for internal peace and... Oh boy, get a great exam grade? It seems I freeze on homework problems until I take a breath and dive in. Then I am fine. I sure I hope I can remain calm tomorrow too.

That would be awesome!

And now, that I'm home and winding down, I have to play this song:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Another Saturday Night & I Ain't Got Nobody

So, I sit alone, in the librar - ry;  (actually, they closed too)

How I wish I had someone to blog to... (oooh, I do!)

So, I wandered down the med school area, only to be surrounded by chatter-bugs on "dates" ... I remember those days... kind of.

Anyway, my 2nd major ochem exam is looming very quickly.  And I am not done with the problems from all the chapters yet.  My peer in class said she was not done with chapter 8 yet, but... she's happy with a "B" at this point.  Then she mentioned how she gets done with a chapter in about 4 hours.

FOUR hours?!?!?

The last chapter took me almost 12.  I do all the problems assigned, make note cards on things I fubar, have separate sheet that I write down commonalities between reactions and other areas.  Sn2 has a sheet, Sn1 has the backside of that one; each have their note cards.

I do NOT do note cards for each reaction but rather each type:

if strong base with primary halide, what happens?
if weak base with 2ndary halide, what happens?

etc.  I think I get it, then sit down to do the problems, and I get one switched around.

So, my goal tonight is to finish the chapter I'm on (5 problems left), then move onto the next chapter; get at least 10 done in that one (it is the final chapter for our exam).  Then hit the sack.  If I can do that before 1 AM, then I have all day tomorrow, in the library, where it is quiet, to gel the material.  Monday morning I'll sit where it's quiet and flip through cards, and take my exam.

A guy in my foundations class says he never studies until the night before, and then crams like mad.  He said he can't remember a thing the day after the test, but he gets solid "A"s.  I don't hate him but it makes me sad.  I can remember all the -log, log, kinetics equations, ICE tables 'til I'm blind and I struggle to get the "A".  Nice for him!

IF I can get an "A" on this test, I'm golden.

If I cannot, well, I'm not going there!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thoughts On Formal Post-Bacc & Pre-Med DIY

Great question!

Here are my initial thoughts and questions.

I was asked what my thoughts were, paraphrasing here, on doing a formalized post-bacc pre med program vs. DIY.

First, when I evaluated the post-bacc programs nearby, my GPA would not have qualified me to even apply.  So, at the outset I was not qualified and had to do the courses DIY.  If I had been qualified, I'm not sure what I would have done because I also do not qualify for financial aid of any sort until I matriculate into medical school.  Given I had no money, no grades, no financial aid, formal post bacc was not an option for me.

Second, after reading other sites and questions there, I'm not sure the value of a specific post-bacc is unless you specifically want to apply to THAT associated medical school.  That said, it is IMPOSSIBLE to deny the outstanding list of med schools that Columbia's post-bacc graduates matriculated into:

Columbia Post-Bacc Matriculating Schools

However, I would not pay for a Columbia post-bacc unless I specifically wanted to apply to Columbia. Most often, it appears, that the post-bacc programs are geared at those students attending that particular medical school associated with a particular post-bacc program.

My thinking is that any solid, 4-year, land granting institution (PhD granting) can offer the sufficient and more-than acceptable pre-med courses for less cost and at my pace, not the school's pace. I also like the ability to take courses in advanced biology and biochemistry that are not in the regimented list. I will be headed to the Galapagos and doing research; in addition, there is a course on evolution/creationism that I'm taking as well. There are more courses in biochem and neuro and muscles and physio that I am taking... none of which would be allowed in a formalized post bacc.

Third, a formalized post-bacc program is regimented. According to Columbia, Creighton, the coursework includes: shadowing, chemistry, MCAT prep, biology, neuroscience, academic advising, biochem, physics, and other outside-the-academic application enhancements. A student enrolling the programs is full time, doing what the insist without variance. This is awesome training for those who need it, awesome for those who are unable to find shadowing opportunities on their own. With instructors who are specifically trying to get their students to matriculate into medical school, it is hard to say no. And, the results, posted by Columbia of where their students matriculated, is hard to describe as anything but outstanding.

Fourth, when I started this path in three years ago, my son was a teenager in high school, my parents were elderly (still are, actually!) and in failing health (still are, actually!) and my house was still mine.  Moving was really not an option and even if it had been, I was not ready to pack up and move (though I still did, actually!).

Fifth, and this is related to grade redemption.  I did not take any class with the hopes of it overcoming my u-grad GPA coursework.  My GPA is too far gone, too abysmal, too long ago (30 years in some cases).  With that in mind, I started school as if this were my first go-round and never looked back.  Yes, AMCAS will still get those very old, very terrible grades; so will the med schools.  Yes, AMCAS will still get ALL those W's and all those F's.  They will also get all the A's from the past three years, 1 "B" (and only one if I can get ochem to cooperate with me :D ).  They will also get all my experience, my LORs, my MCAT score and everything else.  So, I'm less concerned with a 25+ year old GPA and retaking courses.  In the end, if you got an "F" and now get an "A", AMCAS will see that as a "C".  Is that "C" average worth the effort?

In my mind, no.  I'd rather just get the required pre-reqs done and apply.

If I had to choose DIY over formalized again, I'd do this the same way.  DIY.  However, I'm older than most students who attempt pre-med and maybe my focus is pinpoint where maybe my younger peers would be better served by a post-bacc.  I think it really depends on learning styles, how far awry u-grad GPA is, how many courses need to be taken, etc.

LAST:  These are only my opinions.  Others are WELCOME & ENCOURAGED to respond and I will post the responses.  I'd love to hear what others think about post-bacc vs. DIY.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Not Going To Lie

My nieces are pretty funny ladies... I read their FBs by using my son's FB account (he knows, I don't post; it's all good; I will NEVER have an FB)... and if they read here and did not know I do that... heh ... hi guys!  <3 you lots!!!

Anyway, my nieces - 32 and 30 maybe? - are hilarious.  They find the funniest crap all over the internet, are wicked funny (did I mention that yet) and one of them posted this with the caption:

Why Men Should NOT Be Allowed To Have Action Figures

I think I snorted on my ochem book which probably deserved it (or not) and then I laughed out loud and then my son wondered why I was laughing.

He said, "Oh *insert one of their names here* posted something funny.  (He even knows their humor...)

(Okay, now for the I'm not gonna lie part:

At first blush, I thought, "Dang that is some HONKING HUGE BEAR.  No, Beaver!" Then realized in my shame and in my sorrow, the curb was there and I was no longer in Never, Neverland)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Follow-up To Yesterday - Working & School

Many times I wonder how much "easier" younger students have it when they just have to worry about school, eating, and studying.  Then I remember how easy it is likewise to mismanage time, to drink and party with new found friends of all varying interests, and slack off on the studying.  I was there once.

What I also remember is that it is easy to learn when younger.  Retaining knowledge is different.  Not sure when that changed for me but I notice it a lot now.  Things that would just come *snap* in my 20s, now take repetition and more repetition and more repetition before something finally sinks in.  Yes, initial concepts are easy to remember but when those same concepts get *kludgified*, I get hung up.  Stuck.  Then I have to repeat the same sequences over and over again before they stick in my wee brain, like glue board, stick-um, or packing tape.

What I also remember from my youth is how easy it was to forget a bad test score, or a bad grade.  Now, they haunt me like a bad dream (like the one I had last night with a HUGE snake in it attacking my dog who is dead - Abby, the dachshund - check Feb 2009 for the post on her).  Anyway, bad grades linger like skunk spray and yet being older allows me to likewise remember them so I don't let it happen again.  How badly do you think I want that one and only "B" from 2010 to be the "one and only" B?  And why is it that I'm exhausted all the time??  :D

Financially, I'd rather be older and doing this my way without the hindrance of parents.  Yes, I'm remembering that with my own.  My parents were not thrilled that I wanted to be an MD/PhD in biochem when I was 18; "What in the Sam-hell are you going to do with a ... what is it called?  Biochrap? degree??"  Yes, I'd heard that one and so... it became easier to party and forget what my parents wanted me to do.  Graduate.  (That is not a ding on my parents; I am 1st generation college student from my family, and was the first to graduate from college, even before my 12 and 14 year older brothers who went back after I was done.  It is merely stating that my parents were putting their savings to my education and wanted to have a lot of say in what I did with their money.  Somewhat like I do with my son now - only it's related to gas in the tank, Chipotle, and books, not his career aspriations).

The drinking thing... one of my best friends called me today.  Asked how I was doing.  Asked how I was holding up with working and school.  Asked how school was going this week.  Asked when I'd be free.

December 21st, I said.  My last final would be at 8 that morning, I'd be done by noon and ready to let loose that night.  He is game.

He asked if I ever just had a down time at night.  "No." and then words that made him laugh out loud, "John, I'm boring" words neither of us ever in a gazillion years thought would come out of my mouth about my life.  They did, however, and that is the sacrifice I make now to try and finally, make this venture to med school work out.

Is it easier being younger?  In some ways, but in others, not so much.  Would I rather be younger?  Ya think? Tighter facial skin?  (know any good dermatologists or plastic surgeons?)  Maybe.  However, I do know that time management is definitely a strong point for me and if given the choice over younger/brainier/worse time management or older/wiser/harder working and great time management, I'd choose the latter.

So,putting that older/wiser thing to good use is easier, despite that I'm tired all the time (good training for med school and residency, I hope).  Studying is easier thanks to the stoked passion and of course, Concerta (would not have the grades I do without it for I'd get lost in all the very cool medical books on the floor where I study and like a fly, I'd flit and fleet all over the place; and if you have not noticed, sometimes the ADHD shows up on my blog!).

Last, it helps to have a great manager who fully supports the pathway onto MD.  With her, P=MD and we all know, in med school, P=MD.  She's just being my segue to the last one and pushing me along to get it done.

So, come December 21st, I'll remember what it's like to finish a semester out.  I'll remember what it feels like to have put a whole lotta energy into making something work, until then I'll focus on o-chem and biol and my job, forgetting to eat, and lacking sleep.

Something has had to give and grades are not going to be it this time!

Monday, October 24, 2011

How To Manage Working Full Time & Going To School

Great question, Eden!

It started when I signed onto work for my current contract.  The hiring manager knew my path had been scattered at best because of the economic downturn, the loss of my equity in savings/401k/investments (Lehman - hahahahaha, or not), the loss of equity in my house (bank sold for $200k more than what I owed on it - thank you Wells Fargo - can I have that back?), and other "stuff" that had taken my track askew.  I really thought the dream had died last fall when I was broken into, so poor I qualified for food stamps and medical assistance (neither of which I took part in), and did not have the funds to replace books, let alone lecture notes, homework, research.

Fast forward. 

This summer my manager asked if I was going to school this fall and asked what that would look like.  I started playing with schedules.  I still needed to work things out with the university about my tuition from 2009.  Gingerly, I started thinking about class load, work load.

As it turns out, my classes alternate days/times.  On M, W I'm at school over the lunch hour, on T, TH I'm at school in the morning, and then work late those days.  Fridays suck.  Lab + ochem + foundations, I get to work at 4:00 PM and stay until 8:30 - 9 PM. 

This is what I presented to my manager who's only response was, "That seems like an awful lot of hours to be at work, can you do that and maintain your GPA?"  Everything in blue is work time, the green are my classes.

I'm not going to lie, I'm exhausted when I finally get home.  Then I work on ochem or biology until about midnight, then rinse - repeat the next day.  On weekends, I am in the library on Saturday from about 10:30ish to about 6 PM when the security folks kick me out and the area students can stay in, is too noisy (even without snuffling, hacking, wheezing, sniffling, snorting guy).  Come Sunday, I'm at the doors when the library opens at noon, and last night - per usual - I left at 9:30; I'd never left my chair.

When I got home last night, I'd fully intended on doing more ochem but... my earlier post lets everyone know how that worked out for me!  haha :)

Organic Chemistry

What is working for me, and what is not.

Memorizing massive amounts of reactions is NOT helpful.  I am not even trying.

What I am doing is this:

1)  I look at the structure of the starting material: tert-butyl?  halide?  more than one halide?  on a ring?  between rings?

2)  I count the R-groups off the C attached to the leaving group.  Oh yea, I did memorize the better leavers and better stayers... kind of like men... leavers are good, stayers are even better!

3)  I number my groups, I also quickly decide if they are all different (easy) or same (stereo purposes).

4)  Then I look at my reactant above the line, and the solvent, if there is any.

5)  Aprotic or protic?  If it is aprotic, it sort of encourages one route, if protic another.  Indications of which way the reaction will take place.  Kind of makes it easy.  Like a puzzle.  You get some pieces and just need to put them together.

6)  How does that align with my starting mat(s)?

From there it is pretty easy to figure out the reaction process itself, and what will become of the starting materials, and what my products should look like.

Carbocations and carboanions, base vs. nucleophile, steps to make it all work, and wallah!  Ochem made easy (without memorizing horrendous amounts of tedious tidbits of factoids, I am NOT Cliffy Claven!).  At some point, I'm hoping to draw out a really good flowchart to post on here on how I worked ochem problems.  I'm not finding any of the material really hard, just really, really, ad infinitumally tedious.  But that's okay... the harder the problems, the better I should do on exams (or at least that is what I tell myself).

So far, with the practice problems, I'm doing okay.  I FINALLY get enantiomers and diastereomers without needing help.  I also see chiral and achiral very readily AND get inversion, R&S, and E & Z.

And bite my tongue, I reawwy wike oganiwic cwemistwy (my tongue is bitten).

After 9 hours in the library, mostly studying (lightly playing that beaking bird game, dang you Solitary!!!), I'm headed to bed.  Full day at work, a demo to show for the group, new boss, and then class, with some more homework.  Test in one week that I'd LOVE to nail.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bad Sign...

Pocket Frogs for the iPad... 'Nuff said. I never wanted to "really" ace ochem, did I??

Ugh. The mucus sniffler is back and I am thoroughly distracted. Would it be rude to offer him medicine? Or just play on the toy....


I am still in library, 8 hours later.

I LOVE My iPad2

Okay so I've loaded all my favorite Kenny Chesney songs (there are a lot of them - hot dang, a lot!!!), loaded my favorite Cirque songs from KA and Allegria, Celine Dion, Elton and Phantom of the Opera, gone through the my John Prine, John Denver, Toby Keith, Beyonce, B.O.B., Rhianna, Cher, Yo-Yo Ma, Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach... oh yeah, I'm ready.

The big question remains - how hard/easy will having the new toy (let's call it what it is) make studying???

Off to find out - Make your day awesome!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blah Blah Blah iPad2 Blah Blah Blah

Went into the bookstore for paper to do my ochem. 

Went into the bookstore for more lead for my PhD pencils (I am anal about those too).

Came out with no lead.  No paper.

But I did manage to come out with an iPad2 - not sure how that happens... :D

Now to get it working, music loaded, and other fun stuff.  I feel less antiquated now that I'm not carrying around my IBM Selectric!   hahahaha

Have a great night!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Another Blogger's Post

"Useless people" - I giggled inside when I read it, because it actually says, "Useless pages"... Freudian mind slip.

I want to add that those people are the easiest to find because their head is dented from having been dropped on it.  I swear that's what happened to my lab partner of today.  Parent's accidentally "oopsed" him from holding him upside down, feet slipping out of their hands and he... got dropped on his head.

If my old lab instructor were to read this, she'd laugh at my next sentence.  I'm a bit, ahem, *retentive* when it comes to lab.  Meticulous.  Persnickety.  Retentive.  Anal.  If there are details being provided by a software program (think fruit fly pairings), I want all the details.  I also want to understand as I see lab as part of my grade, the easy part of my grade, to help out any deviance in lecture (2nd highest grade, tyvm).  Anyway, details.  I digress.  Details.

Red, opaque females # vs. white, opaque males #, etc.

Apparently, I drew the short straw today.  Last week, this same guy ripped beads apart and said he understood all the processes but never once asked if any of his bench mates did.

My lab partner did not care about details.  My lab partner did not wait for me to get the details I wanted.  Instead he fast forwarded through the rest of the lab while I sat there.  Never asking if I had the data but instead saying, "I know you don't get this so here's how I look at it..."

Eh.  I wanted to ask if his parents were in prison for child abuse... but my *age* kept my mouth shut.

He said something similar again and I responded that I'm not an idiot.  He said something about quiz grades, I left my perfect score up, *haphazardly* on the bench for him to see.  Someone else asked how many I got wrong on the lecture exam.  Exactly two.

Then I moved to a lone computer, started the lab from where the dumped-on-his-head kid left me in the dust.

I hate wishing ill will on anyone... but seriously, I think his head is dented.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Yesterday.  In the past.  A day specifically filled with lots of activities so that I could forget the day - the anniversary of a death, and the anniversary of a life.  A birthday.  A 56th birthday to be exact.  A birthday I really needed to forget as much as possible.

So, I went to the professor's office.  Two years ago, he had me as a student in his lower level biochem class.  The one that I dropped.  Rejoined.  And dropped again on the last day of classes for fall term.  Humiliated, embarrassed, humbled.  The meeting had been set up, he welcomed it; I was not sure what to think.

And honestly, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking the "topper" of the day would be to have this man that I so respect, tell me to ... you know, politely leave med school behind (he's on the adcom).  You know, the "topper" of all that was sad about yesterday would be that.

Instead, he asked to see my transcript.  Said he could pull it up online if I gave him permission.

"You know it's really bad, right?  Embarrassing?"  My head was bowed in humiliation.

For the record, it is a cumulative 2.196.  Cumulative.  All courses taken to date, the ones prior to closing out my transcript, plus the ones now and I'm cumulatively at a 2.196.  Let the medical schools beat themselves up trying to get me to accept there, eh!?

I waited for him to say forget the dream. I waited for him to say ... something far more polite than "You're a loser" but in that same vein.  Something that would tie in to how hard yesterday was for me.  Something that would reiterate all the messages I've received for 47 years: loser, outcast, ostracized, misfit.

Instead, what I got was entirely different.

"Clearly, that is a different person than the one sitting in my office today" he remarked.  "Clearly, you are not that person.  If I am seeing it, so will the admissions committees.  What are you getting now?" 

Clearly, he could see my eyes were a little misty (damn allergies anyway :P).

"3.97, I think" my reply.

And the conversation from there went to when I will apply.  What my plan B is.

"Obviously, after talking more with you, the only plan B is for you to reapply.  If that happens, and I doubt it will if your grades remain where they are, I will send you to the dean of admissions, we'll figure out what you need to improve and redo for the following year.  YOU need to be a doc" he said.

"Would you be okay if I took your upper division biochem class?" I hesitantly asked.  Again, waiting for the shoe to drop, for him to tell me there are other good instructors, or otherwise, politely shuffle me aside.

"I'd be honored to have you as a student again."

What was discussed for the better part of an hour after that was how to get me to applications in less than 8 months.

8 months. 

Less than a pregnancy.

Less time than has passed in 2011.

As I drove home last night, I realized the dream that I've talked about for so long, the dream that I've been chasing for the better part of 3 years, the hopes and failures and trips and falls and hopes and stumbles and ... will come to fruition next year.

My 4th grade teacher, Mr. Ranthum, set these wheels in motion 37 years ago.  My college chancellor Dr. Heller kept reiterating I needed to find a way.

And yesterday, a man I'm leaving unnamed, gave me the lift I needed.

With dust in my eye, I drove home last night remembering how hard things have been, how tragic things have turned out, and how happy I am to have a last chance to prove I'm none of the things I "hear" in my head.

Thanks, Dr. S.  Yesterday is gone, and *tomorrow* - I will be a doc.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Somewhere, out there, my heart calls for you
Somewhere, out there, your soul runs free and true
Time does not erase the pain and sadness
It lessens the grief, it eases the burden
But you, my love, are never, ever forgotten.

It has been a year.  If you are one of those who think, "Storm was 'justa dog'" I feel sorry for you.  The empathy we show our furred friends and furred loved ones, is repaid back to us 100 x 100 x infinity.

Storm was the naughtiest dog I've ever owned.  He did things to my home, to my yard, to the forest, to... that I never dreamed a dog would do.  He also protected me from harm from within my house when "evil" lived with us, soothed my anxiety laden nerves during the debacle that was my life in 2009 through mid-2010, and calmed my heart as he lay dying.

While I never really know if I am loved by humans, I know - anthropomorphology aside - the Storm loved me dearly... and would give his life for me.  I would have gladly given a few years of my own life to have him around a little while longer.

His youtube remains incomplete.  Almost like finishing it means really having to let him go.  I can't.

Storm was my soul.  And God Bless Bentley, he is my heartmender.  No doubt they'd have been best friends - naughtiness and all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oh & One Other Thing

My MCAT date is set.

July 2012 for release date of August 2012.

Called the physician I shadow.  I'm set there for as many  more hours as I need.

Don't need ochem II.  (yeah!!!)

Am taking 4 semesters of biochem instead, genetics, microbiology, physics, and evolution.

It dawned on me today: the process has been real.  The end of pre-med is nearing.  At some point in the next year, I very well may change the name of this blog.

I got an email from the professor who has given me my only "B" -

"My thanks would be for you to go be a doctor and live your dream."

I'm going to try, Dr. S...  And now.

I really need a bag to breathe into.

Scrabble & Other Nonsense

Related to yesterday's topic du jour, is today's "Scrabble" courtesy of Dr. Grumpy's post, it got me thinking.

My ex is the nephew of the inventor of Scrabble.  (Really.)  I found it ironic that he would never play me in Scrabble because of my vocabulary (cussing is not allowed, TYVM!! haha) but he would play me in chess... and sandbag me.  While I have dictionaries for Scrabble (and Literati), he had books on chess.... lots of them.

So, my ex.  The nephew of this man who invented the great game.

I hope no one minds if I snicker loudly at what "Scrabble" was originally named for, direct from the Dutch:

"...renamed the game "Scrabble", a word meaning "to grope frantically" [From the Dutch "Schrabben," to scrape or scratch]..."

hahaha... oh, I needed a bag to stop from breathing too hard and laughing too loudly...

Grope.  Scratch.  Scrape.  Yep, all accurate.  For reasons outside the game! 


Monday, October 17, 2011

Wandering Paths

Last night after being in the library working ochem problems (yes, I get SN2 v. SN1 now) and a myriad of other things, I came home and found myself sitting idle.  A lot was accomplished this past weekend.  I slept for 12 hours straight from Friday night until Saturday morning (exhaustion was creeping up on me apparently), the house was cleaned, the dogs groomed (who knew THAT much hair would grow on a great dane???), and the laundry done.  In addition, the garage was cleaned out and repacked so I could get my SUV in the garage, and the groceries were bought (have not done that in months!!!).  My son was a large help in most of that... and God bless him, I'm the one that is blessed!

So, last night I started... wondering.  Of course that led to curiousity.  Which led me to websites....

A path wandering I should have not let myself go down.  I'm not going to lie, most days I'm okay with how everything transpired with Sir Hawtsalot, certainly not happy and some days - like last night - very sad, but overall, I'm okay with it.  Things turned out as they should, I suppose.

I found a picture of him looking bloated and heavy, his face jowly and terse.  Last time I saw him, just a few months ago, he was still trim and fit, smiling, eyes twinkling.  Maybe it was the camera angle, maybe it was really how he is now as he pushes 56.  At any rate, I missed him again last night... as I do many nights... before I push myself off the wandering path, and back into a text book.

Sigh.  Thankfully, I return to classes today, and work, and programming for next semester, and my son needs chemistry help, and the dogs need to be walked, and ... life goes on.  But I miss him... some days.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Got a solid "A" on my bio exam.

Doing a happy dance tonight!

(Okay, honestly?  I'm not going to lie.  Test anxiety is still a major part of my life with propranolol, with Concerta, with a light dosage of anxiety meds thrown in which are probably not needed but given my last 4 years, I figured why not!?).  I still struggle with going from whiteboard to exam forms, I still struggle not to worry about that very, exacting perfect score.  I'm working on not beating myself up for not getting a solid 100%.  In the end, if I do get an acceptance somewhere, that perspective change will serve me well.  That or I'll turn into a med school gunner that everyone hates, and I don't want to be "that" girl!

I took a year off from school.  Actually, almost two years.  Last year at this time, I thought the dream dead.

And everytime I get a great grade, the life pumps work a little better in the dream.

And everytime someone says, "You're going to be a great doc" - whether another student, TA, or professor, my feet snap a little faster on the pavement, my motivation to get back to studying for the next exam (2 weeks) a little higher.  Today, it was my bio TA who was trying to help me understand mitosis and meiosis at a better/deeper understanding than what was taught in the lab manual... and afterwards, he said he knew a few at the university's medical school were the 4.0 and jerks, people he said he'd never want as a doc.  "You" he said, "on the other hand, are going to be awesome!"

Tonight, just to make sure there wasn't some mistake on my exam score, just to make sure I can live up to the words people tell me, I checked it again...

Solid "A" ...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Eh... That's Not Right

Grand Total:   28    11.7% of 240 points

Estimated Grade: F   35.9% of 78 points possible to date

Had a HUGE scare reading that.  Then realized:

1)  the exam from today is not included in the score
2)  the lowest quiz scores are not dropped out of calculation yet

LOL - nothing like a BIG scare around Halloween (although, truth be told, I could have done without this scare :) )

I'm doing fine in the class.  A-, per usual.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MORE! Library Silliness

It was 9:30 tonight when after downing 2-52 oz containers of diet coke (fountain, of course), my urinary system started emulating neuronal impulses. Generally, I tend to ignore those but I've been informed, not so nicely, by my doctor that IF I want to be a doctor myself, I'd best start taking better care of myself, or face renal failure (I am prone to renal issues, have been since my early youth).

ANYWAY, TMI done....

The 4th floor QUIET area, except if you are rude and ignore the QUIET signs and refuse to use the GROUP STUDY AREAS, well marked and highlighted here...

contains a bathroom for each gender.

At 9:30, the woman's was marked "CLOSED" with the lovely yellow tripod sign thing.  Seriously?  Midterms, people drinking GALLONS of caffeinated liquid and the library closes the bathrooms???  Silliness!

I walked down a floor, nervous to leave my o-chem and biology books on a table (it's funny how trusting of these people I am when in the same breath I find some of them outright rude)... only to find the group study area full of people studying for mid-terms (MS1s, no less) and no bathrooms.

By this point, my neurons are a little bit upset with me; the impulses are growing a weeeee bit stronger.

I swear, I'm gonna get kicked out of the library now... not for talking... but for ignoring BIG YELLOW SIGNS...

It was either use the one available, or leave a larger, more embarrassing mess for the clean-up crew...

And I will admit... it felt great to not be so straight and narrow for once.

Don't tell anyone though, I like studying here (even if the yackers make me cringe).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Last Night

If you are new to my blog, you'll have to read Storm's page for the full story. 

Storm was my 11th great dane.  He came to me in August of 2002 a cheerful little puppy with a mischievous streak wider than a road.  He never outgrew that streak, nor did I want him to.  After surviving bloat, and torsion surgery, he was well on his way to living out the rest of his life... until the e-vet made a horrendous, and horrifically tragic error in judgment.  A year later and I still wish I had legs to stand on to take her license.

Storm died, put to sleep because the e-vet had made such a horrible judgment.

Storm died, and my soul... left me.  Somewhere out in the great abyss of the skies, my soul wanders looking for its place again.  Storm who was with me through the darkest hours of my life, was gone... I've tried making his YouTube video and I just can't get there yet.  I still miss him.  I still yearn to stroll my fingers through his neck fur, have him get the zoomies on my bed and around my house...

Enter Sir Bentley.  The dorky, ALF-looking great dane who is my heartmender.  He is everything I could love in a great dane: goofy, tail-spinning, nails digging into the carpet swirling, 120 pounds of whirling zoomie heart-mending love.

Last night, he wretched.  Once, then twice.  I listened while my own heart rate increased substantially.  "Don't panic" I told myself, despite that my fingers had left biology practice questions and were now Googling ... "bloat symptoms" ... I heard the retching again.  Full panic set in.  Calmly, I got up and walked over to him.  He was miserable, confused, his eyes were watery.

Patting his stomach, I felt the drum often talked about with bloat.  He wretched again.  I pushed phayzme and famotadine pills down his throat.  I put fresh water in his bowl.  And I watched.

The distension of his abdomen was not there, he was not pacing, he did not do the things that Storm did on both of his bloat events.

Then he wretched again.  Sir Bentley went outside, he peed and then... in a whoosh of explosive... he let loose the bones he'd been gnawing on.  He ate grass.

Then, in a fashion reminiscent of my library experience:

he burped (yeay!)
he farted (yeay!!)
he barfed (yes, yeay!)
he farted again (double yeay!)

and then he laid down on my bed, fell asleep next to his skinned mom who was shaken and stirred, and moreover, very, very relieved.

I did not sleep much last night.  Storm's life still lingering in my mind, Bentley's issues still very much front and center...

This morning he is fine.  I gave him fresh water and will cook him rice tonight along with boiled chicken.

Bloat is horrific... and I'm so thankful, I did not have to see it again... so thankful!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Appropriate Library Behavior

Went to my favorite spot - big table in the back where I can spread out my books, model set, note cards and other "crap" ... only to have a very loud group of guys sit at the adjacent table.

This particular library is for med school students (and premed, pre-dent, pre-professional) and has a VERY LARGE GIGANTIC section with tables for talking, chatting, PC usage, etc.

I don't sit there.  Neither did those guys.

So, I asked today if they were going to be congregating again.  Yes.  Okay, where would you suggest I go since this is the quiet area of the library, he suggested upstairs.  I thanked him and moved upstairs.

To the back corner with a table by the window.  After three BLESSED hours of quiet time, a couple moved in next to me.

And then it started.

A sniffle here.

A giggle there.

A cough, hack, wheeze and a sneeze or two there.

Another giggle and laughing here.

A fart sound there.

Followed by a belch.

More snuffling, hacking, spitting here and there.

More giggling.

More farting, belching, hacking, wheezing, snorting, snuffling, hacking...

And I left.

Seriously?  What planet are you people from that you have such RUDE behaviors???

Get a Kleenex, buy some Pepto/Gas-X/phazyme, get some Advil Sinus, or go home.

/rant off


Saturday, October 8, 2011


Minnesota finally has something to cheer about:

Yep, we LOVE to come in 2nd but NOT this time!!

Go Lynx and if I may say so, "Girl Power!"

Do You Know Where Your Blogger Is?

I'm lame.  No life sort of lame.

I want A's in all my classes.  I want there to be absolutely NO excuse for me this semester.

So, given the choice of spending time outside in our continued absolutely gorgeous fall weather (80 degrees), or being in the library for 8 hours... you know where I'm at.

Hopefully, you are enjoying a continued beautiful fall for me!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Week In The Rearview Mirror

Started the week off thinking I'd nailed the ochem 1 exam only to find out REALLY dumb mistakes cost me.  Honestly, I lost 5 points for being stupid.  Did not label my axial and equitorial H atoms despite that I named their corresponding substituents.  Dumb.  Double dumb?  Copying over the amide functional group incorrectly to my flash card.  I get an "A" in stupidity!  :)

Then, I ran into an elderly, confused man with a hearing aid and slight lilt.  Coming off the elevator from the parking ramp he looked bewildered, lost.  When I stopped to ask if I could help him find something, he very quietly said, "My wife.  I've lost her and cannot find her."  Further asking him where he last saw her (two hours earlier when they'd had lunch), where they were supposed to meet (somewhere on campus but he was not sure where anymore), and what time... you could see he was embarrassed.  He did not want to burden me by having me help him and yet, I did not feel burdened TO help but walking away leaving this poor soul to fend for himself amongst the throng of students did not sit right with me.  I called campus security to try and help him.  Since no news reports have come out about missing elderly man, I presume he found his wife and is safely at home.

Then today, I flunked one tiny pre-lab quiz (I'm carry 100% otherwise) and did so-so on the major.  I'm not getting cocky anymore since my ochem test came back!

Later today, walking to ochem, there was a man about my dad's age.  Leaning over, holding himself against the door jamb, looking pale. No one stopped to ask him if he needed help.  I watched as I got closer... so, I did.  This is not bragging about my Pollyanaish ways (I'm not) but more an insight into how many people see others struggling and don't stop to offer assistance.

Really?  Elderly 80-ish man, slumped over against a door jamb and it took me to stop and help?  I asked if he was okay.

"No, not really" he replied.

"What can I do to help?"

"Nothing," as he described what my dad deals with: shortness of breath that comes and goes (a-fib is my guess), blurry vision, general weakness.  He is probably suffering some sort of CHF, loses consciouness only to regain it a second or two later.  I was concerned.  Asked him if I could get him a chair to recline on while he caught his breath. He said no, and tried to walk away only to stumble a little.  I got around the corner and another man, my age, was already on the phone with security.  While that man had not directly offered assistance, he was wise enough to see that the help was needed.

I wish the elderly would let those of us who offer, help them.  I do not offer out of pity, only concern.  Concern that someday, I will be that elderly woman resting to catch her breath and hoping some youngen will come along and have a kind spirit to help me.

Today is not that day.  Today was my day to offer assistance that I can provide, for medically, I'm not there yet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Remember When?

IBM Selectric's were "the bomb" and if you had the latest one that would backspace and ERASE the typos, you were seen as being of great wealth.

Remember Radio Shack's TS-1000?  And the sole game on it, "How Many Petals On the Rose" ?

Remember Visi Word?  or Visi Calc?

How about Word Perfect and it's Shift+F7+P to print a document?  on a daisy wheel that whirred and spun to take ink from a blotter, splat it on paper, and print the paper?

My uncle was the general manager of IBM's Rochester, MN plant back in the late 70's and early 80's, eventually being moved to Boca Raton's facility.  He took me by golf cart around the plant, showed me the latest computers that were being made, "PC Jr"'s, what he claimed would change the world of typing as I knew it.  I was at most, 17 and computers seemed like "Star Wars" toys.

Then, I met my first, Apple.  It was a HUGE hunk of space-age white plastic with a keyboard and something tethered to the back of the machine called a mouse.  I was hesitant at first to use it, let alone play with it.  Seemed interesting but overall, not very useful yet.

Until I started trying to type my master's thesis on an IBM Selectric with white tape that had to be changed out to type over (and correctly type) the errors.

My friend Jennifer, borrowed me her Apple hunk of space-age junk to type.  And type I did.  And while the useful programs out there had not measured up quite yet to those being launced for 8088, 8086, eventually 386 and 486, and beyond, Apple stole my heart.

Single handedly, Apple changed my vantage point on computers.  Single handedly, one person changed all of our lives.  Excel worked flawlessly on an Apple at my first job for a large, highway/heavy construction company who had been utterly manual invoicing subcontractors, until I asked for a MacII.  Word was used to create invoices and Excel was used to compare amounts for the project.

Bill Gates left Apple to form Microsoft and took with him GUI to build the Windows platform for the IBM set of the world. 

I migrated to the cheaper IBM PC, as did countless millions of others. 

The genius behind Apple saw that people loved Apple's computers but were either too cheap or too poor to own one.  Apple became a status symbol.  The genius then created products for the common man - me - to use - the iPod, the iPhone, and more.

When the genius resigned his CEO position in August... and now, iHurt, iSad,  iHope.

Mr. Jobs was the genius behind Apple and also its charasmatic leader, selling products we mere humans did not know we needed and quickly found, we could not live without.

iHurt for his family, iSad for his throngs of followers across the planet, and iHope that Apple continues to be the creative genius building products we don't know we need but know that we will want.

That would be a fitting legacy for the man very few knew.

R.I.P. Mr. Jobs

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'll Admit It

I'm still bummed.  Could not get the exam score out of my head.  I know what I need to do:

  1. get the problems done earlier, not the week prior to the exam; which means starting tonight... not tomorrow night despite that there is a major biology lab exam this week
  2. don't rush to get through the exam; take my time, answer each question as asked, don't put down information not requested
  3. make the weekend before the exam ALL about review, not finalizing the problems
  4. read, and re-read all the handouts; this one thing probably would have gotten me another 14 points on the exam alone - I just thought I'd memorized the pka table and the groups to make each pka and I'd be fine
Still, knowing what I have to do from this point forward, doesn't help quell the sickening feeling of disappointment and disgust in my stomach.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sigh... That Suprised Me

Grades were posted.  I did not get that solid "A" after all.  Got a low "A" high "B" but not sure why and won't know for sure, until I see the exam.  If I continue with the same score for rest of semester, I'd get an "A-" which not bad, but not solid.

The only thing I can think is that he did not ask for hybrid resonance and I got docked for not showing it.  If the question did not ask specifically for a structure, I did not put down.  As he said earlier in the course, if you put a bunch of crap on the exam hoping to get points, it'll probably hurt more since it won't make sense of things.

Other than that, I'm not sure how I did 9 points worse than my estimate.  Which feels, frankly, like I just got kicked in the gut... and makes me think internally, words I don't utter on this blog!


Seriously Tired, Down 6#

Without trying and WITH staying hydrated over the last 5 days, I've lost about 6 pounds.  I think know I forgot to eat more than the meezely donut in the morning, and the cookies-cream candy bar mid-afternoon.  Getting home late at night, I've been too tired to cook, and certainly too tired to drive to icky fast food (used to love Wendy's chili but they changed something at our local one and it tastes like cardboard now).

Anyway, I'm tired.  Have a major biology lab exam this Friday, back at ochem tonight to stay ahead as we head into reactions now; at work; at school; found some soup and cottage cheese; back to school; then home.  To sleep.

Ah yes, that thing I call a bed.

"Hello, Bed.  How are you these days?"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Perfect Day

Ochem test is done.  The memorization on pKa was only slightly helpful as only one of the questions was directly related (.3 vs. 1.8 in DMSO).  The others were more akin to having to understand how the molecules were put together: phenyl group attached to a methyl group vs. a phenyl group attached to a methyl and a nitrogenous something or other.  Not knowing who has yet to take the test, and knowing how many students reading this, I'm not giving you the answers here :)  Until the key is posted; then I'll probably write a post about ochem 1's first exam in more detail.

ANYWAY, I feel good.  Actually, really good - which scares me.  What did I miss?  I keep going over the test in my head and wondering where did I screw up?  Did I screw up?  How is it that a class that scares everyone (me included) had an exam that I did not think was all that bad? 

Yes, there were parts that made me go "ruh roh" ... enantiomers... ant-in-a-mirror.  I needed that to help me analyze molecules.  Diastereomers... yep, needed that boost too but in my head, I still have trouble flipping the molecules around.  I finally get chiral vs. achiral and achiral meso.  More work for me on the enantiomers for sure.  I see that light can affect how a molecule reacts.  I remember that from years ago as well.

I think I did okay.  In my head, and on paper, I totaled up how many points I believe I *should* get without any doubt, and with any luck at all, maybe I will go higher.  I will be happy with what I totaled and obviously with anything higher :)

And last?  To top off the day, sans a headache, sans a pounding chest, sans the BP soaring (yes, I take propranolol still):

I got a 100% on another biology quiz.

I rock!  :D

Monday Off Right

Went to bed last night at decent hour (midnight) and woke up to a slight headache.  I remember these.  The anxiety starting to set in for the exam, knowing how each semester so far, I've started out in a hole, only to build to an "A" in the end.  Trying not to do that this time.

With that said, got into my SUV this morning, thought, "Boy, it'd be a great omen if I heard a Kenny Chesney song this morning first thing" and sure enough, on one of my XM channels, there was Kenny singing, "Somewhere With You" which would not have been my first choice (Tequila, Fast Forward, Beer In Mexico, etc???) but I won't disparage that I DID get a Kenny song out of the box.

Followed up by "Stereo Heart" on different XM channel and then the topper, while I'm thinking I may well get a 100 on this first organic-medschoolkiller- chemistry exam, "I Need a Doctor".

By that time, enantiomers were settled in my head, I finally was able to get achiral and chiral, and finally meso... on my way in this morning, listening to a line up of tunes that made my feet happy, my hands waving and dancing around while driving, and my headache went buh-bye.

Last lyrics (song I need to find!!) I heard before driving into the ramp and my XM signal dying,

"I know the sun still shines when you're not around...

I have one thing to say and that's thanks for nothin'
Kiss my ass."

Yep.  We ALL know who that is meant for!

Make it a great day - I'm off to ace get a 100 on my ochem exam!

(P.S.  I am still dancing in the library... yep, I'm *that* dork you see in the back corner with a wry smile on her face, feet bobbing away under the table, o-chem crap ALL OVER the table, internally singing to her own song...)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I Should Be Nervous

But... I'm really not.  I FINALLY get how to move chair conformations around, flips, boats, etc.  I get stability, resonance...

Last thing to master is achiral and chiral, oh and meso.  But even that has been kracked (ahem) by Exam Krackers and the o-chem prep book gives great tips which I'm using.

Last, last thing: memorizing the pKa of the assigned acids.  I think I'm almost there with those too.

Hoping to jump start this semester's exams with a solid "A" ...

Kicked Out

Apparently, the University has a policy that only those with a university ID card can be in the library after hours.  I get that.  Vagrants, homeless people, common petty thieves, etc could be lurking around the library trying to sleep or abscond with food left sitting out.  I really do get it.

However, if you read back to last September's post where my vehicle was broken into, my backpack stolen, and my dream at that time put on indefinite hiatus, my IDs were in the backpack, along with credit cards, driver's license, and reward cards.

In being an older student, I pay the fees like everyone else (a whopping $1,300), but didn't feel like paying another $20 for another university ID card.  The card office said they would give it to me free with a police report from the night mentioned above.  That'd work well except for the work-school-work-home schedule I'm currently keeping, and that said PD is about 30 miles away.

So, last night I asked the young guard if she could call a supervisor and ask if there was some other way I could prove my student status.  Apparently, homeless vagrants and thieves like to carry around 30# of organic chemistry books, molecule kits, and homework.  She did not relay that I'm not some 19 year who lost their "homework" and did not relay that I work on campus.  No, she made it sound like I am 19 and just irresponsible.

The supervisor said to if I could log into the university systems, that would be fine to let me stay.

AWESOME!  Except for this:

IT services, including Moodle, WebVista, and PeopleSoft, will be unavailable from 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 1, until noon, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011. More information >

It was 6:15 pm on October 1st.

So, I left, called the security office to ask what else could be done, and was put on hold.

LOL.  Call me, "Ad2b-homeless-vagrant" :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

T - 44 Hours

Am REALLLLLLY sick of nomenclature.  So is our professor.  After almost 45 minutes of questions on it, I was ready to walk.  It's worth probably 5 pts on a 100 pt exam and we spent almost 1/3 of the time on it?

Oiy.  Back to drawing... however.  I am "getting" meso but not quite there yet.