Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Close Encounters of the Absurd Kind

A re-cap of the events leading up to, including, and following after the Cau Chin experience.

Friend C: Hey Neal, you wanna go see that Cau Chin guy?
Me: Yeah! Let's go tomorrow. Say we leave around 6 or 7-ish, be in Houston by 10 am? I mean it's Wednesday, how busy can it be?
C: Well, most of the reviews say to get there around 4...

So we leave Austin at freaking 1:30 in the morning, we're in Houston by 4. Sure enough, there are people in line already. By 7, when Cau Chin arrives, the line is 30 people strong. By the time I'm seen- around 7:30- the line has grown to 40. Cau Chin only sees 60 people a day. Better ruck tomorrow for all those late comers, which thankfully wasn't us (good call by C).

There were roaches crawling all over the place. I was going to stomp a mudhole on those mofos but C reminded me: "Buddhists believe in reincarnation. Cau Chin would not appreciate you stepping on that bug."

Ugh. Roaches, man. They creep me out.

So anyway, come 7:30, my number to see Cau Chin is called. Here are some of the things he said and predicted, with commentary from me.

The first thing he said to me was, "I recognize your spirit. You've been here (I guess he means on Earth) before."


Then he starts weeping about "my spirit." He said some more about my spirit, but I didn't catch it because Cau Chin talks FAST and he's a mumbler.

"What's that little kid? I didn't hear you?"
"I said-"
(Charlie & the Chocolate Factory)


"God wants you to know He always hears you, even when you're down. He hears you when you're down. God says you don't pray enough, especially when you're down, but when you're happy, you pray always and that makes Him happy. But you need to pray more."

I actually like this part and it's true. Any talk of God in a positive light is a plus in my book. God's book, too, but my book especially.

"You should drink more water and watch what you eat. You have something in your belly. When you drink more water and watch what you eat, then your health will be better."

You don't say!

And for the record, I'm not fat. I'm big-boned. Ass-hats.

"God says you're very smart, but also very lazy."

This is actually true.

"You like to stay up late and don't wake up in the morning. You're very lazy."

Yeah, well no shit. I'm in college- exams don't study for themselves. And of course I'm up all night; I drove all the way from Austin just to get in on time to see you!

"You have a quick temper, quick to anger, you are. You love your family, but you're quick to anger with them. You need to let go of your anger. Pray for your family."

Okay, I made up the "quick to anger, you are" line. Yoda fucking PWNZ. The rest is true, though.

"Where's your mama? Where's your papa?" (K-town) "Tell your papa everything is going to be okay. You look just like your mother."

Yeah, it's genetics, bro. You had a 50/50 chance of saying who I looked like and you nailed it!

"Where are your sisters?" (Dallas and K-town.) "One looks just like your mother, one looks just like your father."


Actually, I'm being a bit harsh. My sister D is actually the spitting image of my mother and M looks like my dad with a wig, except she doesn't look like a man. But she is pretty dark like my dad.

"Where's your brother?"

I don't have a brother. As an aside, C said, "Maybe your mom had a miscarriage or something." So I called my mom and asked her if she had any other babies besides my sisters and me... And she began berating me on why psychics are frauds. Thanks, mom.

"Where's your partner?"

I'm single, thanks.

"You had a lover in the past, what happened?"

??? I've been single for all of my adult life.

"God doesn't like your short hair. You should stop shaving it."

Who am I, fucking Sampson? I'm not out to kill Philistines, so I'll do whatever the hell I want, thankyouverymuch.

"When were you born?" (1984) "...(starts going through several decks of cards and counting out the years and events of my past, present and future) You're going to live to be 84 years old."


"In 2011, you're going to meet your wife in a nightclub..."

What?! You mean guys pick up girls when they're out bar-hopping?!

" Austin."

Not happening. My lease is up in mid-June and I'm leaving this city for good with no intentions of visiting anytime soon after.

"You two will meet in 2011, engaged 2012, married 2013. Married long time with 2 kids."

You forgot about the .2 kid, bro.

For the record and for reasons I can't explain, this is absolutely false.

(What about my career and my profession? Am I going to do medicine?)
"You're going to do medicine." (Where will I go to medical school?) "Somewhere here in Texas."

This was my bad. I baited him into this. But I do take issue with this because I'm supposed to meet my wife in 2011 in Austin, but I fully expect to be in med school by then. There isn't a med school in Austin. You lose, Cau Chin.

Lastly, "Believe in yourself. Above all, God wants you to believe in yourself."

Cau Chin also went on some other tangents which I'm too tired to jot down right now. Basically, the guy started off well and then the whole conversation just spiraled down to general vagaries and the absurd. Sad, because Cau Chin comes off as a genuinely nice guy and I fully believe he intends to help. Oh, well.

C summed it up best: "Not to be rude, but we were definitely the most educated people in the waiting room. (And yet we still chose to leave Austin at 1:30 am to see this psychic in Houston. lol) I think because we are so much more educated and especially as science majors, we've been taught how to analyze information and better guard ourselves against stuff like that. People choose what they want to believe."

"He said a lot of the same things to me, too. I think it helps that we went and saw Cau Chin as a pair and we were able to compare our predictions."

Final verdict: "Myth busted."

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Conversation About Kids

A: Dude, I look at you and my parents and man... I don't want any kids. I mean kids are cool and all, and they're fun to look at, so long as they're not my kids.

B: What? Why don't you want kids?

A: Cuz man... kids will siphon the life out of you. They're little parasites. It's funny, you know, in Nicaragua while I was running our pharmacy, I put the condoms with the anti-parasite medicines.

B: [laugh]

A: No, seriously. I look at my parents, and I'm like, "Man, you guys really fucked up when you had me and my sisters." Like that part in Knocked Up when Seth Rogen is talking to his dad? "You're the best thing that's ever happened to me." "Now I just feel bad for you." Yeah, just like that. If I could go back and warn my parents, I'd be like, "Whoa! Hold on there and think about what you're about to do."

B: It's not like that at all. Being a father is awesome. I mean my son is an asshole right now, but when he's not being a butt screaming for what he wants, it's a lot of fun.

A: So I've heard. You say that and C said that he's enjoying fatherhood, too.

B: It's true. You'll see, if you ever become a father or get married, you'll change your mind.

A: Fat chance of that happening.

B: Of you getting married?

A: Ass. I meant becoming a father.

B: Well what if your future wife wants kids?

A: That's why we're gonna talk before I commit and make sure this shit doesn't go down.

B: Okay, well what about if one of your snipers gets passed the barrier?

A: Hm... Hopefully, she's pro-choice!

B: [laugh] And if she's not?

A: Well, I guess I'm fucked there, aren't I? And so help me God if my kids turn out anything like me, cuz I'm not gonna lie: I was an asshole kid.

B: I know. I was there. Seriously, being a dad is awesome. Think of it this way: each kid is a little lottery ticket. One of them could make it big and you'll just live off them in your old age.

A: [laugh]

B: Plus I look forward to the day when I'll no longer have to do dishes or wash my car or else someone's going to get beat.

A: [laugh] What are you running a fucking sweat shop or something? "Yeah, my son's an asshole, but he's a good day laborer."

B: [laugh]

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gullible's Travels

So I've prepared a little something about my trip to "Nicarawa" (as the locals say). Nothing too formal, very Gospel of Thomas-ish in this blog's composition: it's Mariachi-style, blogging out-loud.

So how about that drive in? I guess that's why they call it "Sin City." Ha, ha, ha, ha...

I had to seriously refrain from introducing myself to patients as "Dr. Gregory House." And no, no matter the symptoms, it's not lupus.

Some things you just can't un-see. Pap smears is one of them.

Twice at the airport, I had white gringos come up and start speaking Spanish to me. Escuchame assholes, solo porque yo soy moreno no significa que no hablan Ingles. Got that? YO HABLO INGLES, PENDEJOS.

I'll miss cheap beer the most; it's been years since I drank that much in one week. $2 for a Tona 40oz? Ridiculous, man.

I'll miss cheap cigarettes, too. It's so easy not to smoke in America, where a pack costs $7. Smh.

One word: pinatas.

Another word: paginas.

Do words in the plural form count as one word?

In all seriousness, clinic was a lot of fun and a great learning experience. Frustrating, too.
- Frustrating that there was only so much we could do
- Frustrating that a lot of the things we saw were easily preventable with life-style changes, albeit maybe not so simple for the patients to do
- Frustrating that even with the medicines we prescribed, it'd be a crap-shoot whether or not the patients would actually take their meds and/or finish them off

I never realized how frustrating the life of a doctor can be from that angle. I think that was the greatest lesson I learned.

It was cool working under the doctoral hierarchy- to get a feel for how doctors work as a team. For the uninitiated out there, basically what we did as VIDA volunteers was do the patient interviews and diagnosis and the doctors we worked with signed off on everything. Thankfully, our "attendings" were cool about everything and were so willing to teach. I learned a lot. Asshole attendings can wait til I officially get into med school and start my rotations, I guess.

The hard part of clinic was "keeping it simple" e.g. instead of thinking "staph pneumonia" think "this patient works in an environment with a lot of smoke and that's why they can't breathe." Which again ties into the environmental/lifestyle-based diagnosis. It was definitely a head-turner in thinking of how to diagnose a patient.

One more thing I learned: pulmo-grip, multivitamins, and albednazol go a long way. Flucanozol and amoxicillin are useful, too, if you're feeling fancy and want to church up your diag a bit.

Honestly, I was a bit worried before the trip started. I wasn't sure (still not sure) if medicine was right for me, and here I was, diving head-first into a potentially difficult situation in rural medicine. On top of that, I was traveling with a bunch of pre-meds whom I'd talked to only sparingly. (No offense, but I don't normally hang out with pre-meds for good reason. I mean have you seen some of the kids who attend AMSA meetings? Face-palm.)

Anyway, the trip was a lot of fun and my worries were unwarranted. I still don't know if medicine is right for me and I'm still not looking forward to a rotation through OB. But at this point, I'm pretty much pot-committed and I'm at least comfortable with the idea of a lifetime in medicine. And you pre-med kids are a bunch of cool cats; I honestly didn't know pre-meddies got down like that. Whaaaat.

Seriously, though, you VIDA cats are a good group and I greatly enjoyed working with yall. I'm glad everyone had a good time; like Lester said, a positive attitude goes a long way and a difficult situation was made amenable. You guys rock.

I think that pretty much covers what I wanted to say. Peace, love, and albednazol.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Championship That Could Have Been

It's 3AM here in sunny California, but I can't sleep because I'm still reeling from the loss. I'm banging this post out in search of catharsis.

It's 11AM here in Austin and I've finally gotten over the loss for the most part.

I have to say I've never been so proud of my Horns. They played with heart today last Thursday, and if not for a missed blitz pick-up assignment, were within 3 minutes of tying or taking the lead after being down 24-6 to Bama at the half. The D played OUTSTANDING- don't let the final box-score fool you. The Legion of Boom Goon Squad held McElroy to 58 yards on 6/11 pass attempts. Bama fans like to point out that McElroy was nursing broken ribs, but the fact is almost every time he dropped back to pass, he was pressured or sacked. Furthermore, 23 of the 37 points surrendered came off offensive turnovers, 2 given up within Bama's redzone in the waning moments of the game and 1 from an ill-advised call for a shovel pass to end the 1st half. TCU fans and other Texas doubters can stuff it.

And Garrett Gilbert... what can you say about him? He's a true freshman thrown to the wolves and he played admirably. The kid stands tall in the pocket and has a cannon for an arm and once he settled down, he led Texas to an almost improbable comeback.

In Gilbert, we Texas fans have something to be VERY excited about going forward. I have no doubt that he will lead us to another MNC game in the next 3 years- he looked that good last Thursday. He looks that good on other days off the field, too, but whatever. Call me a homer, but I wouldn't even put it past the team to reach Glendale next year if Williams and Goodwin finally get their heads screwed on right. Yes, we lose two senior offensive linemen, but the way the line played this year, that's probably a good thing. On the defensive side, yes, we lose Kindle and Earl Thomas and their production will be hard to reproduce, but I have faith in Muschamp to put together another top-10 defensive unit.

Okay, so a title next year may be a stretch, but 2011 definitely looks doable.

On a final note, I have to tip my hat to Bama and their fans. People will point out that Colt being knocked out early somehow diminishes Bama's win, but the truth is injuries are a part of the game and they beat us fair and square. If the situation was reversed for us Horns fans, we'd take the win and run with no apologies, so kudos to the Crimson Tide. Not to say that I don't wholeheartedly believe if Colt was in, we probably win, but like the old saying goes, "If my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle." Furthermore, Tide fans are some of the nicest, classiest folk around. Someone at either Barking Carnival or Burnt Orange Nation said they wanted to hate Bama fans and they just couldn't; I feel the same.

Anyway, here's to our number 1 ranked Men's Basketball and Baseball teams! Hook'em.

Random Xs and Os from being at the game:
1) The middle of the field was consistently open for us. Gilbert missed a receiver on a middle post route that would've gone for a touchdown if he hadn't stared down Shipley.

2) The quick out was also available for the taking. With Gilbert's strong arm, Davis should've called it at least twice, but then again, this is Greg Davis we're talking about.

3) I was really happy to see Gilbert placed under the center. He's not a mobile QB like Colt- he's not built for the spread but more of a traditional offense. His fake handoffs on play-action looked very deceiving, and if we can finally develop a run game, should produce big gains for the offense in the future. Davis also has to CALL play-action, but we'll see.

4) Other receivers not named Jordan Shipley need to learn to run with the quarterback when a play breaks down. Several receivers (John Chiles) stopped on their routes, but if they simply ran upfield, would've given Gilbert an area to throw to for a big gain.

5) I've never been a fan of the 5-wide formation outside of Madden and for Davis to call it at the 12 w/ 3 minutes left was idiotic. That said, Gilbert should've seen that corner walking up to the line; Goodwin was open as a result of the blitzing corner and Garrett missed him. Recognizing the blitz will come with experience, which brings me to my main point about why I'm so excited about Gilbert: all his mistakes are correctable and will be fixed with experience. Also, I would love to see the Horns implement fake snap counts like the Cowboys do to expose the blitz early.

Anyway. Hook'em.

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Transient guests are we"

A member of my former church recently passed away. Yesterday was the funeral. I was never close with him, but my parents and his family are pretty good friends. I remember seeing him around at church often, really nice guy. God bless him and his family.

Death is always sad, but it's especially unsettling when it happens so close and so suddenly. There's no way of preparing for it; you don't wake up thinking, "Today I'm going to die" or "Today someone close to me will die." I mean really... This guy woke up, just going about his business, and it was over.

God is absolutely sovereign over everything and death makes that abundantly clear. Our lives, our plans, nothing belongs to us. We are transient guests here - foreigners in a strange land. Be thankful and never take anything for granted.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oh, Dark Knight, How Much I Love Thee

I bought this blu-ray player last Christmas on the cheap. I was pretty happy with it, considering how much I paid for it.... Until I found I couldn't play any blu-rays from Fox Studios. I found this out the hard way after renting Futurama and finding out my blu-ray player needed a firmware upgrade to play newer blu-rays due to updates to the DRM. Mind you, this blu-ray player is unabashedly cheap: there's no ethernet port on it, and even if it did, it wouldn't have mattered anyway because I didn't have internet at my apartment at the time. (That's another story in and of itself.)

So anyway, I move to a new place, I finally have internet, and I'm thinking maybe it's time I upgrade this baby. So I hop on over to the manufacturer's website to do the upgrade, and lo and behold, I've got to upgrade this thing the old fashioned way, by burning the firmware update onto a CD-R. Great, whatever, so long as I can start watching Daredevil and other craptacular Fox productions in all their hi-def glory. So I burn the firmware, and... disc not recognized. WTF, mate?

I'm getting frustrated at this point, so I google for a solution. Turns out the firmware actually makes things worse rather than better. And here's the kicker: other people who have this particular player and did the upgrade found that their player could no longer recognize certain blu-rays it could before, like Wall-E. And The Dark Knight.

Sheer providence, I tells ya! I woulda been one pissed off mofo without my Dark Knight. So it's 6 months later, I still can't watch Fox blu-rays, but I've got my Dark Knight and I'm content with that. I may not rock costumes at comic conventions, but damn if I'm not one of the biggest fan-boys you'll ever meet.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Things to be thankful for:

1) Talked to my boss about the way I was let go. Saved my job, albeit I've been demoted. But! Having a job is better than not having a job. It's better this way, really; my hourly shouldn't change, I'll have less hours and I won't have to worry so much about making up time I've missed for school. Now I just have to worry about finding health insurance (again).

2) I am officially done with this semester and I'm so happy I made it out alive. Seriously. Halfway through, I thought this semester was going to eat me alive, between having to balance 15 hours of school, 20 hours of work, and 4 hours at the hospital each week. I made it out, with a few cuts and bruises, but in hindsight, it was nothing God couldn't handle for me. I should be coming out with at least a 3.8 with an outside shot at perfect. A 3.8 is a little short of what I accomplished last semester, but all things considered, I'm satisfied. I don't think med schools will begrudge me one B considering the load I had this semester, and if they do, they can blow it out their ....

Anyway, going back to the job drama, I can't ignore the role God played in this. I was pretty much set on leaving Austin. And I'm still going to leave the first chance I get. But it's funny. I often have a hard time listening for God, really relying on Him and letting Him lead. This time I asked for guidance about what to do and He answered loud and clear: stay put. He did it speaking softly through others, but I've never had so obvious an answer to a prayer request. Crazy. Neither can I ignore how much God wants me to trust in His wisdom, because He really does see the beginning and the end of things. Now I just have to keep that in mind for the future.

I think it'll work out. Yeah, I'm freakin' tired of Austin, but I've only got one more semester to get through. Plus, I have the chance to actually graduate with honors and finally get my (2006!) class ring. Haha. Something to look forward to.

Isaiah 55:9: As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.