Tuesday, December 27, 2011


An inexpensive thank you gift sent to my Developmental Biology aka Embryology professor for taking the time to write a letter of recommendation.  Thank you card was included, though not pictured.  I had no idea whether a gift is appropriate or not...I didn't want it to be construed as a "payment" but chocolates seem harmless enough, and if he doesn't want it, I'm sure his grad students would appreciate free candy.  The candy was only $10, and the box of chalk was like $0.75 (all USD).  I bought the chalk because he always used colored chalk to differentiate tissue types on his diagrams in lecture.  

A patient gave me chocolates :) 

She and her husband are such nice people.  

Picture courtesy of "Angel S." on Yelp
Friends and I went to Kokkari Estiatorio, a greek restaurant.  I had the braised lamb shank with orzo and myzithra cheese.  It was huge.  Expensive, but huge.  I wanted to grab the shank by the bone and bite into it, but that would have been a super un-classy thing to do in a classy establishment.  It's also my first time seeing bottles of wine sell in the 4-digit price range.  If I had a grand of cash to blow on anything, I would spend it on something that wouldn't be out of my system in less than a day.  Miraculously, my bill was under $50 including my portion of the appetizer and tax+gratuity.  The food was really good though.  I'm sure their wine is also really good, but I didn't have any, which explains how I was able to spend less than $50.  

My attempt to be witty and creative for the white elephant gift exchange failed miserably in a way I could never have imagined.  Actually, the gift wrap was well-received....the rest not so much.  I tore up a Victoria's Secret catalog to wrap the box and adorned it with a Ferragamo-style bow.  The box contained two bottles of sparkling wine and a lacy thong that would be received with humor from the girls if a girl picked it, and mild embarrassment from a boy if one of them picked it.  I didn't anticipate that "Allen," who I had no idea was coming, would steal it from his ex-gf, pop the sparkling wine cork, spill wine all over the panty, use it as a napkin after eating my cheese puffs, and then make a fool of himself after finishing the entire bottle.

Facepalm.  Some people never grow out of their teenage years.

Next year I won't try so hard....or at all.

My spoils from white elephant:  A HUGE tub of cheese puffs (which I took to work), butter toffee & caramel popcorn, a kiddie air-hockey set, a pair of chopsticks (from my friend's white elephant at work, of course), and coasters.  

As for studying....I'll get to it eventually...hopefully....today........maybe..................eek.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Red Egg Party

A white bread bun made to look like a Chinese peach
Last weekend, my cousins hosted a Red Egg and Ginger party to celebrate the birth of their daughter, Chloe.  The Red Egg party is a traditional Chinese party that is similar to baby showers, except hosted about one month after the child's birth.  It was held at a local Chinese/Japanese food buffet restaurant.  There was another Red Egg party hosted adjacent to us as well as a one-year birthday party in another part of the restaurant.

Hard-boiled eggs dyed red and eaten for good luck

I really dislike coming to these big family-style restaurants because I've noticed that kids these days are REALLY BAD.  I know that some parents loathe bringing babies/toddlers to restaurants and airplane trips because it's hard to enjoy a meal AND look after a young child.  The kid will inevitably cry and it takes a while to soothe him/her.  I don't have an issue with that.  I have an issue with parents who let their kids run around like the restaurant is a playground, clogging up the aisles between tables and the exit route and seeing parents hand-feed a 7-10 year old because the kid's too busy playing on the iPad.  Ugh.

Anyway, I think I went through three plates of sushi and seafood, not counting dessert, such that I came home and rolled around in my PJs with food on my face like so:
"Ugggggh so fullllllll...my tummy hurts"
Last night, I had Christmas Eve dinner with a family friend.  It was kind of funny seeing my dad's childhood friend get drunk on wine.  Twenty years or so later, my dad's friend still makes fun of the fact that his daughter and I each ate ten of these egg tarts (pictured right).  They were bite-sized, so even the five-year-old me could shove a whole tart in my mouth.  I ate so many of these as a kid that I actually don't like them anymore....

Later, I'll be heading over to my relatives' house for Christmas dinner.  
Juggling gatherings with family/friends and studying is really hard.  Luckily, I have the Examkrackers Audio Osmosis MCAT-prep lectures to listen to at the car, and if I'm REALLY lucky, I can find a hiding spot to read for an hour or two.  Unfortunately, I don't think I can fit into the laundry room cabinets anymore (and surprisingly, I never tried to eat anything IN those cabinets.......)

Merry Christmas!   

Well That's New

The other day, a patient told me that I should learn Spanish.
In typical Mingle fashion, I wanted to retort, "Well maybe YOU should learn Chinese instead!"  But since I am an otherwise professional person, I just laughed it off and said I would try.  Also, that particular patient is a really nice guy, and he didn't say it in a mean way, so I let it go.

Picking up a language is really hard.  It's one thing to ask, "Excuse me, where is the bathroom?"  It's an ENTIRELY difficult situation when someone asks you to translate, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does it hurt, and does the pain radiate down your spine?"  When I took Latin in high school, I could read pretty well but I couldn't write very well...MAYBE, if my life depended on it, I could have written better sentences but no one ever put me in that situation, so yeah.....Also, when I took Chinese as a kid, I could recite, write and read but had NO idea wtf was coming out of my mouth/pen.  Reading comprehension was clearly not a priority in Chinese class.

My current job as a translator can be challenging on its own without having to consider putting in the extra time/effort to learn Spanish.  Most of my patients are from Hong Kong and speak Cantonese, but a few speak in Mandarin (the dominant dialect in northern China) and a few speak another dialect called Taishanese (from a rural region of southern China).  I speak/understand Cantonese well enough to get by, but can only vaguely understand Mandarin and Taishanese...coupled with the fact that elderly people like to ramble off on tangents, things get confusing.

IT'S FREAKIN' HARD TO KEEP TRACK OF THIS STUFF.  Also, MCAT English is difficult enough.  There is no room in this brain for Spanish, sir, no room!  On a bad day, I forget to switch gears and translate back to English and repeat sentences to the physical therapist in Chinese.

Anyway, I sympathize with those health professionals who get chastised for not knowing enough Spanish to speak to patients...It ain't easy, even if everyone says "you should learn it because you're going to need it."  And for those people who always say, "Well I lived abroad for a year and I can speak XYZ really confidently," well, does that hold true when the conversation shifts to complex medical/scientific terminology?

Another thing I've noticed is that patients like to ask my nationality, but rapid-fire a list like a Lightning-Round 20 Questions game before I have the chance to answer.  They also have the tendency to guess everything BUT Chinese.  I never expected that from people who live IN San Francisco because it's such a diverse city, but diversity doesn't mean everyone's taught to be politically correct.

Patients: "Are you Filipino?  Japanese?  Korean? Vietnamese?  Malaysian?  Thai?  Cambodian?  Laotian?  Inuit?  Tibetan?  Mongolian?  Hawaiian?"
Me (after an imaginary facepalm):  "No, I'm Chinese."
Patients: "OH! I have Chinese friends.  I also have a Japanese friend, a Filipino friend, an Indian friend...."
Me (in my head):  "Uh....We're not collectibles........"

I actually don't find it annoying...just extremely amusing in my typical dry-sense-of-humor fashion.  Usually these are the nicer patients who try to strike up a conversation with their limited grasp of English.  I appreciate the effort.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Today really sucked.  Seemed like every attempt to lead a well-organized, smooth day and work-day was thwarted at every opportunity by weird schedule changes.  I like schedules - not necessarily daily routines, but I like to be the person who makes and follows schedules so I can get things done.  I get really irritable when my schedule goes crazy and I don't get anything crossed off my "to-do list."  I also dealt with a few difficult individuals.

The good thing about today was that, by the time I got out of work, I had a lot of pent up energy to burn at the gym.  The bad thing is that I think I overdid it: I will probably be spending most of the day sitting stiffly in chairs and waddling a lot when I walk.  I love that every treadmill and bike at my gym has its own television...I just wish they get the Food Network.  Nothing beats running while watching people make delicious things on the television.

I ended the day on a positive note, thankfully.  My printed holiday cards arrived in the mail (two weeks later) and I can fiiiinally start mailing them out to people.  Hooraaaay!  I'm very happy with the quality.  The colors don't show well in the picture but they are very vibrant, just how I wanted it to be.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In a Nutshell

I'm not reaaaallly sure where the last couple weeks went....I think I burnt myself out during the first month and a half of class, so I had to sit back and gather my sanity.  I definitely have figured out that I struggle with content more, as opposed to test-taking strategies...so starting now I will need to knuckle down and torture myself diligently review flashcards.  I've also been using Examkrackers books to review content I am unsure about and found that it saves me time and frustration.  Kaplan books have the tendency to give analogies that I think are stupid, or the books provide a really long-winded and over-detailed explanation for concepts that really DON'T need that much detail.  

My physical therapy is progressing pretty well, albeit conservatively per doctor's orders.  The final two ranges of motion that I will need to work on are the external rotation at the elbow and abduction.  Strength training is progressing smoothly, and the exercises they have given me will also be helpful once I begin doing my own strength training after rehabilitation is complete.  Most of my strength building exercises seem to focus around using the muscles behind my scapula (rhomboid major muscle?) correctly and NOT using the trapezius muscle to compensate, which seems to place unwanted tension on the shoulders.  Consequently, my upper back between the shoulder blades are pretty sore today =/  

Last night was supposed to be my last night of fun-time before I re-engage hermit-mode to study.  My night ended with a bang.....several bangs, in fact: 

I dunno if there's a stigma against doctors (and pre-meds) wielding firearms as a hobby but I don't see anything wrong with it, as long as shooting is done legally in a safe space and as long as all participants abide by the rules for safety.  I would trust a doctor to handle a loaded gun safely as opposed to some random person, although I would still prefer to stand behind the doctor....just in case.  After using a few of the rental guns the shooting range had, I can definitely understand why some dudes get super excited over guns: it was pretty exhilarating on a very primal level.  I can also appreciate how much damage a gun can do, and how much skill/practice it requires to shoot well when the target isn't just a piece of paper with a giant orange dot in the middle.  Holding a gun is also no joke - pistols look small sitting in a glass case but some are surprisingly heavy.  

The beginner's course I took (required for all newbies) included a nomenclature and safety class.  The class had a bunch of girls, and collectively we learned that any idiot can load and shoot a gun (that same day at work, I learned that not everyone knows what a PDF is *facepalm*).  We started off range-time with a Ruger MKIII which was pretty easy to handle, upgraded to what was probably an older model of the M4 rifle and ended the night with one of the smaller Sig Sauer 9mm pistols that could fit in my tiny Asian-girl hands.  I had the most fun and the best shots with the 9mm.  The only downside was that since it was a rental gun, it gets a lot of use so the casing would eject straight at my face instead of off to the side.  

Overall it was a fun night.  I wish I could get this much excitement out of reviewing physics X_X 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

10 Things I Hate About You

10.  Texting me just because I'm currently with a patient and cannot respond immediately to a Yahoo Messenger and e-mail inquiry.

9.  Texting me to have me pass on a message to my coworker.  You know, he has a phone too.  And an e-mail.  You can also (ohmygosh revelation) call him!  

8.  Sending an e-mail to my personal e-mail, which I already politely asked you not to do, because I did not respond instantly to #10 or #9.  

7.  Texting me to call the office manager and have her update the patient tally right away.  Are you going to die if I waited until the next morning before you even come into the office to update the totals?  Some days you don't even show up to the office.   

6.  No, I'm not going to knock on everyday to recruit patients.  I understand this is a business, but I am not a salesperson and the senior residence coordinator will NOT find that acceptable.   

5.  The fact that there is no computer or desk for me to do clerical work at the main office on Tuesdays/Thursdays.  

4.  That you cram four therapists into 3 desks in a 5' x 8' (roughly 1.5m x2.5m) office that is smaller than a cubicle.  I am 5' and I'm pretty sure it would already be a tight squeeze if I lay down across the 5' side of the office.  My college apartment's walk-in closet was bigger and had better ventilation.  

3.  Failing to show up for interviews or showing up 45+ minutes late to interview a job candidate.  It's rude and unprofessional.  Don't agree to a meeting if you're not even planning to come in or come in on time.  The job market is tough, people lead busy lives, and job candidates have no choice but to take that kind of treatment, but it is still NOT okay. 

2.  Yelling at my coworker for not fulfilling a task that you never even told her she was supposed to do.  

1.  Telling me that you're going to have surgery for a torn labrum just like me, but oh, your shoulder is in no way as messed up as mine and how you'll be able to lift weights in no time.  Thanks for rubbing it in.  I won't wish you a safe and speedy recovery then, because it doesn't seem like you need it.  I mean, you were ONLY playing recreational basketball (Sorry, basketball players!  I do respect people who play it for fun because I suck at it).  It's not like you were in a totally bad-ass sport like wrestling on a co-ed team in co-ed competitions, intentionally starving yourself to qualify for the lower weight-class, and then getting totally beat-up in intense 2-6 minute matches where you can risk getting infected with cauliflower-ear and ringworm.  I won't even tell you about all the nosebleeds I got because some chick elbowed me in the face.

So I don't sound like a brat, here are things I am thankful for:

1.  Even though wrestling screwed up my shoulder, I learned a lot of things.  I gained self-confidence and I learned to expend the frustration and anger I feel into a constructive activity like sports/exercise.  While this person pisses me off like no other, I don't need to make unnecessary and rude comments like, "Your arm is more messed up than mine" for a self-esteem boost.  I'll work out to the point that I know I can kick his butt any day of the week but have the self-control not to feel like I need to prove it.

2.  The fact that I rarely have to SEE this person, and only for a few minutes.

3.  My other co-workers are hilarious people and really fun to work with...I think we're all a little nuts because that's the only way to cope.

4.  Knowing that my co-workers are all in the same boat with me, so I know I'm not just being a whiny brat.  We all share the same sentiments.

5.  I love my patients at the senior home.  Sometimes it gets really busy but my patients are really nice and fun to work with and talk to.  I can chat with them and joke with them, and sometimes they'll invite my coworker and I to eat with them, which is really nice of them.

6.  A paycheck.  To help pay bills/save up for the medical school application process....and go shopping.

7.  This is only temporary, and I do have a goal that I am working towards.

8.  I can vent my frustration in the form of comics, and it won't be rude because it will be art and satirical and funny =P

9.  The physical therapists I work with do a good job and I like them.  The patients always tell me to convey their thanks and compliments in English because their conditions have improved so much.

The treadmill is awesome.  I love my gym.  There aren't a lot of free-weights, but that's not a big deal since I'm not supposed to carry more than ten pounds with my left arm.  When the weather warms up, I'm going to run outside along the pier and pretend like the tourists are part of a giant obstacle course =D