Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Florence Green, thought to be the last known WWI survivor, passed away on Saturday at 110, just shy of her 111th birthday on February 19th. [Link: BBC]

When I think about all the things people like Florence experienced and observed at home and abroad, I feel nothing short of awe and immense respect.  In general, whenever I meet really old people, I just wish I could get a visual of their lives when they were young.  Things that we perceive as "history" today, things that get romanticized in movies, was "daily life" for Florence.  I want to know what it was like for her to live through WWI and WWII - she must have had so many stories from her own experiences and those of her peers.  I want to learn history as she lived it, without coloring it with my own modern-day values so that, when I think about it, I don't just say "oh that was awesome," or "yeah, that was bad."  

And, selfishly, I also feel a lot of shame to compare the myself and the kids of today to the people in past generations.  The world today is simultaneously more global and interconnected, thanks to the internets, and also easier to ignore.  We can access the latest news with her fingertips at any time of day, from any source we want.  We utter half-hearted "oh noes" and "shame on them" and then distract ourselves by simply logging into our Netflix/Hulu/YouTube accounts to stream mindless entertainment.  At 17, Florence joined the Women's Royal Air Force to make her contribution to the war effort.  At 17, my grandma was working hard for a living in a rural area of China.  At 17, I was probably complaining about how boring it was to have a two hour gap between classes in my senior year of high school while playing Halo at a friend's house.  Don't even get me started on the kids of today - I wanted to bang my head on a wall every day at work.  

Reading that article made me think about how to live up to the legacy that people like Florence left behind.  It puts things into perspective and also motivates me to work hard.  I don't want to be look back one day and realize that my entire young adult life was spent playing Angry Birds on the iTouch.  The studying I do now seems lame and cushy in comparison, but if I persevere, I can eventually grow and become someone who has the skills and knowledge to do more.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

This Country's Medical Insurance Systems Suck

I don't really know how things work when it comes to ordering expensive MRIs and other procedures, other than the fact that patients need to obtain pre-authorization...Well, according to one of Dr. Grumpy, (sorry, was unable to find the specific post), it sucks.  I'm pretty sure dealing with insurance companies from any side of the fence - provider or patient-side - sucks.  It's worse than talking to an outsourced AT&T customer service representative to resolve an internet issue, because when all else fails and you complain enough, the company will finally send someone to your house to check it out.  

I'm sick of playing this 9-month-long phone tag between my old carrier and billing center to try and unsuccessfully resolve a claim regarding my pink-eye-scare-that-wasn't-pink-eye-but-could-have-been.  I feel like a mediator forced to try and resolve a conflict between two formerly-best-friends-but-now-rivals, when really I just want to deposit them on a deserted island to duke it out like the kids in Lord of the Flies.  Ideally they would annihilate one another, but I would accept an ending analogous to what happened to poor Piggy.  

I hate that things are so fragmented and inefficient.  An hour of phone-tag before work is not how I should be spending my free time (I could be studying!), and people definitely should NOT be paid to play 8 hours of phone tag at work.  It's worse than Facebook wall-tag between my friends and I when we try to plan our huge Christmas-season dinner:

Person #1:  How about Friday the 23rd?
Person #2:  Nope, my flight comes in morning of 24th :(
Person #4:  Ok, how about Saturday?
Person #3:  Nope, I have to help out at the restaurant :[
Person #1:  Ok, how about 26th for lunch?
#5:  Nope! All-day family party :[
#1: Uh ok, 27th? 
#6:  Oh!  Alan wants to come too, but he can't do 27th!
[collective groans]

There must be a better way of doing things.  I wonder if other nations have similar issues with inefficiency - it doesn't seem like it, but I only know what I've read from T.R. Reid's observations in his book, "Healing of America," but his outlook is that of an outsider's point of view.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weekend Recap

A fuzzy lion from the lion dance.  The New Year party was fun.  A good way to end the work week.

Saturday was ridiculously sunny and warm, so I went with a friend to look at running shoes and walk along a beach that, until recently, I did not know was a beach.  Up until a few years ago, this part of town was crappy and full of trash until they fixed it up to make it prettier and to preserve the natural wildlife, so now rich people who can afford to live in this area come here with their dogs (or boats).  Today was Boxer-breed day!  And also, dogs-in-heat-day.

Alcatraz is waaaaaaaaaaay way in the back.

Golden Gate Bridge!  No fog! Miracle!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Liiiiiiiiive

The last few weeks were rough, one of those times when all hell breaks loose and it's all you can do not to go crazy.  To top it all off, I narrowly avoided getting a cold only to get strep throat.  I felt like everything was distracting me from what's most important, which is studying for my MCAT in March (**** so screwed) and making me feel insanely guilty and unhealthily worthless.  Even worse, I was craving another cheesesteak sandwich all week and I couldn't eat one because I could barely swallow my penicillin.  Nnnoooooooooooooooo.  

I took a day off work to recuperate, made myself a study calendar, did practice problems, and spent another several hours playing shooting games to cheer myself up, and now feel somewhat better.  At least, I'm back on track studying.  I'm trying to figure out how to re-integrate the gym.  Since I'm trying to be hardcore about studying, I may just have to park my butt on a bicycle and read, because reading while running on treadmills is very difficult.  

Last Monday was Lunar New Year which means RED ENVELOPE MONEY!!!!!  YEAAAAAH.  It's customary for married people in the family/extended family to give the kids and unmarried losers in the family red envelopes for good luck.  Which means I get money yeaaaaaaaah.  Although, my cousin still hasn't given me or my sister a red envelop ever since he got married in 2008.  Hrmph!  It's not really a big deal, or a lot of money to begin with, but still!  Anyway, I have a habit of not spending any of these.  The last time I used some of my red envelop money was in middle school, when I bought Pokemon cards (wtf?).  I also have a habit of hiding them so well that I forget where I hid them...

This week there are two Lunar New Year parties going on at the senior home.  The residents organized the first one on their own, and the one on Friday will be organized by the staff.  I'm looking forward to the Friday party because the staff managed to get the police department to perform the lion dance.  My secret wish growing up was to join a lion dance group and learn how to perform, but knowing my build, I would end up being the butt, and no kid will enthusiastically say to their friends, "Hey! Watch me perform tomorrow!  I'm gonna be the lion butt!"

Year of the Dragon! 
Unfortunately, I have a patient during part of the show, but maaaaybe they'll still be performing when we're done.