Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Once again, here I am blogging instead of studying. I got out of my midterm OSCE last week, thanks to my bad back, and so I've got it tonight instead. Yesterday, I ended up finishing up season five of 'Friends', then watching another four episodes of 'Lost' season one (just four episodes left), and then went to sleep instead of studying. This morning, I got up early, came to school, got coffee, and now here I am instead of studying. So, I'll make this a quick post.

As promised, I am now going to report to you the things that I most miss about Boston. Let me start with a story: it's an unhappy story about the state of Calgary ice cream affairs, so skip to the next paragraph, if you don't want to see it. Me, I'm an ice cream lover. In undergrad, I used to love having ice cream and apple pie for dinner, since ice cream could be had for $1.00 per litre, and pie was ultracheap (under a dollar) at the end-of-week baked-goods sellout at the local IGA. Eventually, I discovered Greg's Ice Cream, which was pretty awesome. It made for the occasional tasty treat during my years there, and set me on my path of searching for the finest ice creams possible. I found myself in Calgary last summer, and so began my search for the best ice cream in town. I started with a place located right near my apartment, that I was told had great ice cream. Atmosphere was nice, but the ice cream was nothing special at all. Next, through discussions with classmates, I was told that the best ice cream in town was at another store, a short drive away. I went there one evening in November, and was overjoyed to find a fantastic selection of flavours. I bought a tub of chestnut, taro, and some other flavour, now forgotten. That night, I began with the chestnut. I love chestnut purée and chestnut pudding; this ice cream was nothing like that. Instead, it was bitter and flavourless. The next night, I moved on to the taro. I love taro; there was this chinese delivery place in Toronto that used to know me as the guy who ate a bucket of taro with every meal. This taro ice cream was atrocious, having only purple in common with that awesome root. Yuck. To top it off, that night, I was pretty sick. Refusing to believe that ice cream could make me sick, I tried it again the next night. The flavour was as bad as the previous night, and I became sick once again. Just to make sure, I had it again the next night, and got sick again. Well, by then I had finished the taro, and moved on to the last flavour. It was gross too, although I can't remember what it was supposed to be. I threw out the rest. I never throw out ice cream, so that was a first.

Anyways, that brings me to my list of things I miss about Boston:

1) Ice Cream. Ah, Boston has two spectacular ice cream places: Toscanini's and Herrell's. I loved both of those places, and have many happy memories about both. The flavours, the friends, the good times. My sister had a high-school friend living near San Fransisco, who married a guy who had gone to MIT. He would have their favourite flavour shipped in on dry ice from Toscanini's. Anyways, both of these places are located near...

2) Harvard Yard. No place in Boston has the atmosphere that Harvard Square does, and no place feels as good to walk through as Harvard Yard. How terrible to work at Harvard, and be located at the medschool, instead of enjoying the trees and grass of the yard, the activity of the square, and the pleasantness of the undergrad residences. The Harvard campus is definitely the best thing about Boston.

3) Boca Grande. There was a location not far from our Harvard lab, and another close to the apartment I lived in for a couple of years. Both were great. A lot of Bostonians liked Anna's, but I have no idea why. I have found nothing mildly resembling Boca Grande here in Calgary.

4) Pho Pasteur. I know there are a lot of good Vietnamese places in Calgary, but I guess I just liked the atmosphere of Pho Pasteur. Again, on Harvard Square, although I liked the Newbury location too.

5) Korean food. Three places come to mind: Café Han River at St. Mary's, Korea House in Chinatown, and best of all, Buk Kyung II in Alston. At that last place, I was introduced to jajang myeon, which was spectacular there. Interestingly, one day while in İstanbul last summer, I succumbed to the urge to eat jajungmyun, and walked from Taxim across to the only Korean place I knew in town, in behind the Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet. I had my jajang myeon (coincidentally with a Korean family from Boston sitting at the next table), and then headed home, stopping by an internet café on the way; that café stop was where I found out that I had gotten into medschool. So, medschool and jajang myeon are now forever linked in my mind.

6) Walking everywhere. I guess I miss living in a town where I walked pretty much everywhere. Partly that was because I disliked the mass transit system, but still. Calgary is a car town, no doubt about it.

Hmm, that's all I can think of! :) Anyways, if I was to make a list of things I love about Calgary, public health care would be near the top. You know, I was thinking that I wish that I had watched more 'Friends' before moving to the US. I would have had a better idea of what a dog-eat-dog world it was out there...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Back Again

Today, my back is finally good enough again for me to get back to my regular life. I ended up missing three days of school this week, and spent most of that time flat on my back on my sofa, watching some DVD or other. I made it 2/3 of the way through season 1 of 'Lost', got to the end of season 3 of 'Friends', watched 'Batman Begins' (finally found out who the heck Katie Holmes was), and last night, got around to watching 'Crash'. It wasn't a bad film, but it felt very 'TV-movie', so in retrospect, I'm a bit surprised that it managed to win the Oscar for best film. Looking back at the nominated films, it's the first of the bunch that I've seen, funny enough. Hmm, I need to spend more time at the cinema.

Oh, one of these days, I will write a blog entry listing all the things I miss about Boston; I had cheesecake for dessert last night, and it got me thinking...

Just looked up Crash on the imdb to get that link above. And, surprise surprise, writer/director Paul Haggis' career has been completely in television. No wonder it had that TV feel.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I got tagged by Marysienka. :) I'm supposed to list six weird facts about me. That is a tough question for me; I'm so very normal. I'll list what I can.

1) Degrassi, I love everything Degrassi. 'Kids of Degrassi Street', 'Degrassi Junior High', 'Degrassi High', 'Degrassi:TNG'; I love them all. That is weird.

2) Comic books. I have too many, and spend too much pre-exam time reading them.

3) Textbooks. In the case of textbooks, I buy them, but never read them. Well, I read a third of them, I guess. The rest just sit there and say, "Hi, I was a waste of good money."

4) Similarly, I have a collection of musical instruments. Three guitars, one bass, a nice electronic Yamaha piano, and a violin. No, I can't play any of them. Actually, now that I think about it, I left the violin and one guitar out east, since it was a bit silly to lug them around. I regret not buying an electric saz last summer, though. That would have been cool. Next chance I get, I will buy one.

5) I have a weird obsession with languages and orthography, despite having no ability to learn them. On my shelf are textbooks for German, Hindi, Inuktitut, Korean, Lakota, Latin, Manchu, Mandarin, Mongolian, Swahili, Turkish, Tuvan, and Uyghur. Of all those languages, I only have skillz in two of them, and those are very basic skillz. I should probably get a Persian or Arabic text next, or perhaps something closer to home, like Blackfoot.

6) I guess that I hate furniture. That's abnormal. When I grow up, I want to minimize the amount of furniture I own. Unfortunately, peer pressure is strong, when it comes to furniture.

So, who should I tag in return? Hmm.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Yesterday, my back went out on me. I woke up fine, noticed some sacroiliac pain while shaving, had trouble lifting my backpack, but made it to school. When I tried to get to lunch across the street, my back became so painful, I could barely move forward anymore. Note, however, that I could still move sideways, i.e. abduction and adduction were okay, and walking backwards was easier than walking forwards. So, what muscle did I screw up, I wonder? It took me fifteen minutes to get back across the street & parking lot to get back to school...

I was supposed to have my midterm OSCE exam in the evening, but got let off the hook by my preceptor (a great doc, btw), and was lucky to have Rococo give me a drive home. Magic Pants carried my superheavy backpack... Ah, it's nice to have friends who care. :)

Anyways, today I stayed supine all day, watching Friends season 2 (now finished, bring on 3) and a really really stupid movie. Now, though, I am up and about, able to walk normally, but unable to bend over or pick up anything heavy. Happily, I made it to the postbox to mail off that movie, and have found that the café across the street has wireless access! Schwing!

Friday, March 17, 2006

More Hair

This morning, as I was combing my hair post-shower, I realized that my hair now comes down past my nose, to the top of my upper lip. So, it's probably longer than it's been in six years or so. Meanwhile, the hair on the back of my head is a pretty decent length as well. I haven't had a haircut since July, in İstanbul.

Actually, I haven't shaved my goatee since that beard-growing contest that started up in February, so that is getting pretty long as well. I wanted to get rid of it a few weeks ago, but now I'm used to it, and I'm a bit afraid to get rid of it.

In summary, I look like a total bum. So, now I desperately need a haircut. I don't wanna look like a nerd, though. :(

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Mountain Man

Yesterday was a good day. I headed up to Banff, then through the Kicking Horse pass to Emerald Lake, then back to Lake Louise, and finally back to Banff for dinner. I swear, Lake Louise is one of the more perfect views on the planet. That you can get unlimited coffee refills, including a biscotti, for $4.95, overlooking that view, is a good thing.

Anyways, I had a half-bound bison burger for lunch, and had a generous cut of prime rib for dinner, so I ended up pretty full. This morning, my friend Rich was in town, and we tried to hit the Keg for lunch, so that I could feast on prime rib two meals in a row, but unfortunately, they were all closed until dinnertime. So, instead we went to Red Lobster. I used to hate that place with a passion, so this is the first time I've gone to one in at least five years. I ended up really happy with it, surprise surprise. I shall return.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Pork Barrel

Nobody, and I mean nobody, can cook up a pork roast quite like me. I stuck one in the oven on Tuesday evening, in time to eat a nice big juicy slice at midnight. Mmm, mmm.

Unfortunately, now I've had pork for almost every meal since then. I should run out on Sunday night...

I finished reading 'Memoirs of a Geisha' tonight, so I can return it to the person who insisted I read it. Next up, maybe I'll read an actual renal text. Sadly, the textbook I bought for the course has the definitions of molarity and molality wrong. They tried to simplify the concept so that we dumb medstudents could understand it, but they simplified it to the point where their explanation was completely wrong. Oh well, I have found errors in most of the textbooks I've used since entering meds, so I suppose this isn't much worse. However, if they get the easy stuff like molality wrong, then how much can you trust the more complex stuff?

Okay, forget textbooks for a moment. Tomorrow should be a good day, since I'm going to head up to Lake Louise and Banff. Where to eat? Last time I was up there, I dragged Magic Pants, Rococo, and Bejeweled! to tea at the Banff Springs, against their will. Hmm, where can I find some nice pork in Banff?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Looking Sharp

I went skating up at the oval again on Sunday. We have a new batch of exchange students in town, so a bunch of us (Magic Pants, Rococo, Lightweight, Bejeweled!, and Mr. Taboo) went skating with them. I've complained about the poor quality of skate sharpening here in Calgary before, and finally found a solution to the problem. Mr. Taboo, who plays a lot of hockey, always gets his skates sharpened at a specific place in Edmonton. So, I sent my skates up to Edmonton with him on Friday, and so Sunday, I was good to go with freshly sharpened skates. Thankfully, the sharpening job was, in fact, quite excellent. My skates haven't felt that nice on the ice since leaving Toronto way back when. Amazing what a difference it makes.

Unfortunately, the oval is now closed for the next few months. There are some big races there next week, and after that they're keeping it shut until July or so. Not sure why... maybe renovations?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Busy Bee

Yesterday was the last day of interviews for next year's class. After seeing all these people coming to interview, and after many discussions with people about what makes a good candidate and what doesn't, I am now once again wondering how the heck I got into meds. As the interviews proceeded, we found out what questions were being asked; they turned out to be your typical medschool questions about ethics, empathy, truthtelling, etc. Going over my answers from last year, I realize that I gave the 'wrong' answers for most questions. However, I don't know if that was good or bad, since I also didn't give the 'standard' answers, that it seems that almost all applicants give. I am thinking of going over my application file in the admissions office, just to find out what it was that they liked about me.

Anyways, evidently, things have been pretty busy, as I haven't had time to post recently. I'm way behind in personal email, phone calls, etc, as well... gotta catch up this week.

Oh, the moon was incredible on Wednesday night. The crescent seemed to be at a very strange angle... Have I not been paying attention?