Monday, September 28, 2015

Ping Golf Clubs, Rhapsody

Yes, I know.  You loved France, the wine, churches and bridges.  And yes, now you know I know you know.

Alliteration at its assured finest.

Nothing but the best.  It doesn't live there anymore, it is here.  Where the sun always shines on my face, the waters are warm and soft.

AAMC Q-Packs

Many ask about using the AAMC materials, specifically the question packs and/or full length exam.

This is what I do:

1)  I take the q-packs as "accommodated" and select show me answer.  This allows the individual (me) to answer the question and then check to see if I'm correct.  If I am, I move on unless (!!) I was semi-guessing, or narrowed it down to two choices and then guessed the correct answer.

If I am wrong or semi-guessing, I make a note of the topic, what I got wrong, why I got it wrong

Though the time says 3 hours and 3 minutes, painstakingly going through every question take me about 5-6 hours.  I am thorough and complete.

2)  After each section test is complete, I review it to make my list from #1 is complete.

3)  After checking the list, I start going through each and every topic and making notes on the subject.  No matter how silly, or easy it seemed, I make a note of it.

More on full lengths later.  Below is what materials are available directly from the AAMC for a price, or included with your Kaplan course.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

AJ - Baby Cakes

March - Sept, 1986

SIDS is insidious.  Altered my life in ways I could never have imagined.  To the thoughtless, careless people who wonder and ask me if the pain ever goes away:

No.  Never.  It eases.  It softens.  It propels one forward but it never goes away.  Nor should it.

If you are the family or friend of the parent of a deceased child, don't worry that in asking how they're doing it might make them sad, or make them depressed. It won't.

It'll make them happy that someone remembered.

Trust me.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Genetics - Test 1

Started genetics this semester.  Wanted to keep the science mind going while I await the MCAT test in January (more on that in later post).

Much of molecular genetics I got in my biochem class a few years ago.  We had to know the shape of the purines, pyrimidines; what is different between RNA and DNA; how that is impacted by various amino acids, etc.

So far this semester, the class has covered the history of genetics way back to Aristotle and the many ways different philosophers to scientists tried to explain heredity.  Fascinating factoids.  We even covered eugenics.

My professor is well acclaimed and for good reason.  He makes the class funny, interesting; tells stories of the impact of not understanding the underlying genes in his home village.  Provided several links to sites we can explore.

I sit tonight kind of bored, to be honest. I wish that meant I feel solid about an A on the midterm but I think it just means I'm bored.  The material is interesting but it "feels" like I've covered this multiple times.

When he speaks of probabilities, I'm doing the math in my head; experimental results and whether they can be relied upon (null hypothesis using chi square), forked lines, etc... all in my head.

Anyway, here's some cool sites to use:

Learn Genetics

Speaking of probabilities related to genetics (AND, OR rules):

Friday, September 11, 2015

Voided MCAT Exam Specifics

Annual Remembrance

No need for words.  Thank you for all that served, all that will serve and all those who gave their lives that horrifically evil day in 2001.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Heart Attacks, Women & Mrs. Zimmerman

Two weeks ago, Dad had a heart attack rendering him unconscious but alive.  He survived, left the hospital, signed a DNR because he has no life in MN.  He sits alone while my mom runs around doing whatever it is she does while he sits, alone, almost blind and mostly deaf.

No wonder he signed the DNR.  I would too.  As much as I hate it, I get it.  Depending on my own circumstances in the next few days, he will likely come to live with me primarily and go home to be with his wife on occasion.  Here he has a life - little things to do, pets to let out, he loves to putter and there are lots of puttering things to do here.  As he pleases.  No list, no harried pace to get things done.

Make no doubt, my mother loves him.  She does.  No doubt she's also terrified of what is coming.

Me too.

Nothing made that more clear than 3 days after my dad was released from the hospital when I got a voice mail, voice quivering, "PJ, call home."  It was 3:30 AM.

No good decisions come at that time of day, no good news comes then either.

In June 2010, a man whom was like a 2nd father to me, passed away peacefully after a lengthy demise due to Alzheimer's disease.

You can read that story here:

And the follow-up here:

Back in 1986, after signing the termination of parental rights agreement, trying to decide on my son's family, and deciding within the appropriate time period to keep my son, I never let my parents know.  They'd already disowned me once and I was terrified they'd do it again.  The financial part wasn't worrying me, it was never speaking to my dad again.

I'm a daddy's girl and proud of it!  My nickname, PJ, is from him.  IF I get to have fancy initials on my name, my first name on any badge will be PJ.

Anyway, I kept my son, went to classes at the university, took him with me per my professors' suggestion, walked between classes if I had a babysitter to hand him off and called my dad.  From a payphone back in the day of collect calls, he'd never know.

Or so I thought.  Dad always knew.

That August of 1986, my parents were on their way to the Zim's cabin in rural WI.  Wanted to stop by and say hello, see how my apartment was, see how I was doing.

Terrified, I asked a friend of mine to take my little guy for the day so I could "hide" that I'd kept him. And, I left a note on the door explaining why I wasn't there, why my son was kept, what his name was (middle name after my dad) and hoped someday they'd forgive me for disappointing them.

A few hours later, I came home to find my dad sitting on my door stoop, my mom in the car crying and giving me the crazy stink eye.

We talked for a long time, Dad gave me $20 and said to give her time.  He also said he'd fly back when he could to visit me and meet his grandson.

They left for the cabin and I truly never expected to see them again.

There was a bigger power though.  Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman.

At 14, my parents had signed a will that if something should ever happen to them, and they both passed at the same time, the Zimmerman family would be mine.  They'd adopt me and raise me as their own.  In many ways, they already had.

At the cabin, my parents told the Zims about my pregnancy, the failure of me to adopt out my son, probably my failure in keeping him, and that they'd just found out.  I do not know what else transpired there, I do know that very devout Catholic family looked at my mother and said her place was with me, supporting me, not with them whining at the cabin.

That much has been confirmed many times.

My parents showed up three days later.

Back in June of this year, my son and I flew to see my dad on his 85th birthday.  We also got a phone call while sitting there from Mrs. Zim, and of course, I wanted her to come to dinner with us.  We all did.

We all laughed at stories of the cabin, talked about Mr. Zim, talked about her and her health.  Her eyes had been declining.  Mac degeneration.

I laughed and asked if there was a can of Franco - American Spaghetti in her cupboard (not spaghettios, spaghetti).  She laughed, her eyes lit up and said, "Always.  Just for you.  Do you really still eat that stuff?"  Laughing, yes, I really do.  It's my comfort food.

We talked about coming up in August for a long week at the cabin.  A summer solstice, a calming retreat of fond memories, a ...

She passed away this week.  I have a hard time writing that.  My head still can't really wrap around the fact that she's gone.  And I don't know if I can get to MN for her funeral.  To say goodbye to the woman who was most like a real mom to me.

Apparently, the night she passed away she'd been talking to her daughter and said she had bad gas.  The daughter kept telling her to call the hospital.  Mrs. Zim refused saying she was just going to rest.


My guess is she had a massive heart attack or an aortic dissection.  Women's heart attacks don't manifest themselves like men's.

If you are a female, please learn the symptoms of a heart attack.  Please visit the American Heart Association site and read:

As the family grieves the loss of their mom, I grieve their loss as well.  Mrs. Zim lived a great life, raised amazing kids, loved her grandkids, and loved her friends.  All of us.  And we loved her right back.