Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dental School Orientation

Sometimes I read people's blogs, and I have a hard time getting through the posts. I get bored easily with some posts that are too travelogueish. So, I don't mind if you skip my posts that seem like that. But for some reason I've been thinking a bit lately about blogging as an act of giving back to the online community. I've searched a lot in the last few months to find people's experiences with PRK or starting dental school, and I've really appreciated those who have blogged about their experiences. So, you may notice a few posts that aren't intrinsically interesting, but are rather me trying to be of use to others.

This week has been orientation for the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. The first couple days were the official orientation, while today and tomorrow are just lectures by different specialists in the school showing you what they do. The first two days were pretty boring actually. However, it was nice to get to meet other people in my class. There are 4 other LDS guys, all of them married. So I think I am one of the only, if not the only, single LDS guy here at Pitt Dental.

The first two days included a lot of common sense stuff, campus safety, school policy, etc. Most of the powerpoints dragged, except for the IT guys. I almost couldn't keep up with that one. They were very efficient. But today was really cool. We had professors and a resident lecture on orthodontics, endodontics, oral surgery, pathology, and anesthesia. It was interesting that several of the specialists haven't touched a handpiece in decades. For example, the anesthesiologist, pathologist, and surgeon obviously don't treat cavities, even though they are dentists.

I've said in the past that I am not really planning on specializing. However, the lecture on oral and maxillofacial surgery was pretty amazing. After 4 years of dental school you either do a 4 year residency or a 6 year program that includes med school. But as an oral surgeon you can repair cleft palates, reconstructive trauma surgery, jaw surgery to correct facial geometry, and even cosmetic plastic surgery (not too much interest there). There were tons of slides showing surgeries with bone being excised, screws and plates putting broken pieces back together, and large areas of skin being pulled back to allow access to the skull. It would be a long road, but I think it would really cool. So, I'm not sure if I would really want to specialize, but today definitely piqued my interest. I'll keep my options open, and my grades up. If three years go by, I'm still single, I have the grades, and I feel like I can hack 5 or 7 more years of school, maybe I will look into oral surgery.

Other than the orientation, it has been pretty boring. I've been a loner out here. My two roommates are gone the rest of the weekm so I just hang out by myself, get online, or go biking and explore town. The class is having a party tomorrow night so I may drop by and see what non-BYU parties are like.

Anyway, life is pretty good. I just need to make some friends out here that aren't married* and want to hang out after school. I went to the Book of Mormon study group the sisters put on tonight. That was cool but there weren't many people there. I am going to call BINGO tomorrow for the rest home. Other than that, I don't have much planned.

* The Quinns and the Westovers are an exception to this statement. They are great. I've hung out with the Quinns a couple times and the Westovers had us all over for dinner for Cafe Rioesque Salads! Without reservation, Joseph and Lisa are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. They have been so welcoming to me. I love their family. Their little girls and one boy are adorable. I like going over there and playing with them. They will have to be my surrogate nieces and nephew while I am away from my four nephews in Utah. Anyway, I hope they take me up on my babysitting offer.

So, is this post as boring as I think it is? Be honest. It isn't really my style, but I dunno. Maybe people are into knowing what is going on in my life:).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gooo Georgia! I mean.. No...

I'm not really old enough to pull the "when I was a kid" card too often. But when I was a kid, 1460 was a downright respectable SAT score!

From the news:

Georgia's average score on the SAT college admissions exam fell for the third consecutive year, according to results released Aug. 25, 2009.

The state's results dropped by six points to 1,460.

From my mouth:
Kids these days. I guess 1600 just wasn't good enough for them.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I just found $1500 and I'm keeping it

Okay, so... not really. I mean, kinda. Effectively...

I just forgot that I had paid $1,500 deposit to Pitt Dental.

Forgetting about money and remembering it is awesome.

That's all.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Romans 12:1-3

In my studies this morning I was studying "forsaking" in the index. I found a few verses that referred to "crossing" oneself and followed the cross-references (haha). I knew what the essence of crossing oneself meant. Especially since it referenced verses admonishing to take up one's cross. But I didn't really know the etymology. So I ended up on these verses and they really hit me.

Romans 12
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

In verse 1 it gave me some clues as to what crossing oneself might mean. It is obviously a reference to Christ's cross if it is indeed related to phrase "take up your cross." But even then, what does that mean? What did Christ do on the cross and how do we do the same? Wasn't the purpose of Christ's suffering so that we will be spared through repentance? Tell me what you think, but I wonder if it is an admonition to do as Christ did by sacrificing his flesh for Heavenly Father. So is it a call for us to sacrifice our natural man for our Heavenly Father? Is that crossing ourselves? What do you think?

I liked how frankly we are told in verse 2 that we should not conform to the world, but transform ourselves and renew our mind. It is easy for me to conform to the world. But by renewing our minds we can receive a confirmation of her perfect God's will is. I suppose this means that by keeping our standards, we will understand better God's plan and see its wisdom.

But verse 3 may be my favorite. I was surprised at how straight forward it was. I struggle with pride a lot. I've done well at a lot of the things I've attempted and have a competitive nature, so my nature has become quite prideful at times. I sometimes struggle with a natural tendency to look down on others, to criticize, to make fun of others, and it really bothers me. But I need to recognize that all my accomplishments are only because the Lord has blessed me with talents and the means to accomplish what I've set my mind to, the mind he's given me. Sure I've worked hard, but I've worked hard only because He gave me the ability to work and be committed. Really, I have accomplished nothing of my own.

So, these verses motivate me to become a better person, to be more unspotted from the world, to be humble and stripped of pride. I've decided to start looking for the blessings in my life and writing down three good things that happen each day in an effort to be happier and more positive. I also am trying to set weekly goals for self improvement.

So, any tips? How do you conquer pride? How do you transform your mind? How do you cross yourself?

Friday, August 21, 2009

PRK

I guess I never really blogged about this, but since I've read plenty of other people's experience online, I might as well add to the wealth of experiences.

I got PRK on my left eye which was -1.75. My right eye is 20/20, but not great (possibly because I cut the cornea with a knife as a kid). My left eye was 20/100. But since my right eye was good enough, I usually didn't wear glasses. So, this meant I just dealt with blurry vision out of one eye because I could get by.

Knowing that I wouldn't have the money to get the procedure in dental school, that Barney had gotten it done, and that if something bad happened to my eyesight in the procedure at least I hadn't taken any loans out for dental school yet and could switch career paths, I decided to get the procedure done before dental school. My surgery was on July 16. It was quick and painless. The day after was also painless. Days 2, 3, and 4 had some pain but nothing debilitating. It wasn't bad because I could close one eye and leave the other open. It would have been awful had I gotten both eyes done.

My vision was better the day of the surgery, and then a few days later started to get worse. I had some serious ghosting going on which is just when you see a double image because of the astigmatism formed as your eye's epithelium heals back. Although this was normal, I was a little worried because I had this ghosting until about 4 or 4.5 weeks after the surgery. It was annoying seeing multiple copies of text. In fact it was sometimes very difficult to read. It also was annoying to see bright lights in multiples. Most people online seemed only to have ghosting for 3ish weeks, although some had it a lot longer. Reading about people's experience online is a little scary because of who gets on. When I was having trouble with my vision I read forums for hours about PRK experiences. However, now that my vision is pretty good, I don't read them at all. So, basically, the people that are posting in forums about PRK are doing so because they are having issues with their vision after the procedure. It makes the online accounts of PRK and any other medical procedure very biased.

So, my vision really started clearing up after I stopped taking the Omipred (steroid drops). I'm not sure if there was a connection or if my eye just was healing. I think it still has a little bit of improvement yet to be realized because I can see a bit of ghosting still, but I can't complain. I am seeing better in my left eye than my right. So I'm getting 20/20, if not better. It's nice.

I didn't mention it, but I got my procedure at Hoopes Vision in Sandy, Utah. They have a lot of experience, the surgeons are rated in the top 10 by Forbes, and they have what seems to be a nice selection of equipment. However, I'm not completely wowed by them. I feel like they've dragged their feet a bit in setting up my comanaged care out here in Pittsburgh. They also are a little salesish with their pricing, but they did match the price of $1,725 for my eye when I mentioned I had a friend that got it done at that price. So, yeah, I would recommend them because I think they do a good job with the procedure which is what's important, but they are still a business so don't let them jerk you around. Overall, I'm really glad I got it done. It is nice to be able to see crisply and not worry about glasses or a contact being needed to see the board.

Anyway, if you have any questions, feel free to comment.

My life as of Aug 21 2009

So here I am, sitting in my room in Pittsburgh. I left Utah on August 8 to make the drive east. What a long drive! Since I left in the afternoon I only made it to North Platte, Nebraska. That first day's drive wasn't too bad. But it continues to amaze me how big this country is. In the paraphrased words of Robert Michael Jack, "This country's ... way too big!" I couldn't figure out how to work the bureaucratic system of signing in to the state park campsite, so I gave up and ended up sleeping in my car in the church parking lot. Sunday I made it to somewhere in western Indiana. I splurged and stayed the night in a hotel (queen bed was nice after a night in my driver's seat). Then Monday I came in to Marietta, PA. It was nice to finally be done with driving. But I was pleased with the fact that I did it in 3 days. I was also pleased with the fact that all of my possessions that I had out at college fit into my trunk and backseat. It rained so much the whole trip though. And I'm talking driving rain with some hail mixed in. Probably about 50% of the trip.

So, I spent a few days with my family in Marietta. One day Jon, my mom, and I went geocaching. It was a tricky find! I also went and biked on the trails that I grew up biking on. That was fun. It was amazing that they all seemed pretty much the same. I was kinda impressed with some of the crazy trails we went on. I also crashed and ended up "fixing" my wound with a bit of superglue. Another day I hung out with Mark Hershey, met his girlfriend, and ate dinner with his family. I also took a day and went up to NYC with Sharon, Anthony, Mary, and Barney. We saw Central Park, the Apple Store, Ground Zero, The Phantom of the Opera, Times Square, The Statue of Liberty from afar, and ate Pizza! It was a lot of fun, even if I was a fifth wheel. The next day the gang and I went to Hershey's Chocolate World which was also a fun touristy thing to do. My family also went over to the Kollers' and had dinner with homemade ice cream. Our family was old school and had a hand crank which outperformed their robot cranked one. We were done in half the time. Chalk another win up for humankind.

It was great hanging out with my family. Jonathan was doing well. He was about to start his new job. Benny is all grown up and commutes to Baltimore every week to work on a natural building project he has been hired for. Mom was commuting to Philly 4 times a week to work cataloging her plants at the museum. But being under the impression that my orientation started on August 20th from an email back in January, I took off on Monday to head to Pittsburgh.

I was disappointed to find out that the toll road from Pitt to Lancaster is 13 each way plus a 4 hour drive. Avoiding the toll adds another 50 minutes, but I guess it might be worth it. So I may not be dropping in on my fam as much as I anticipated, but it is a lot closer that Provo was.

So, I made it into Pittsburgh and spent the first couple days moving in. We live on this old cobblestone street a block away from the school. Which is pretty sweet considering most people live a 30 min commute away. It will be nice to save that commute time each day, get free wireless from the school, and be able to run home during the day.

I really like the house. It is an old brick house but it is big enough. It's got 4 rooms. For the first time in 6 years, I have my own room again! I put up a rod for my clothes, bought a cheap desk from IKEA (I almost typed it iKea... stupid Apple nomenclature). We've got a gas stove which I am excited about but still getting used to. It is weird to be able to switch burners instantly, turn off a burner and not have to worry about moving the pot, and just the sheer heat of the range. The political order of our kitchen is mainly free market with communized milk, spices, and baking needs. I've suggested 304's rule of eminent domain as well. I've also used the African items Sarah gave me to decorate the place.

My roommates are awesome. Brandon moved out yesterday so I only met him once. Aaron works at a bank and always comes with stories about banks getting hit or cased. He's great. He gets together with some of the guys in the church locally and convert the upper level of the building minus the chapel into a blood bath of NERFdom. Basically they have all these NERF guns and play capture the flag or other games. They turn out the lights, set up a blacklight, and set up barricades. You respawn in the lobbies if you were curious. They've even modified some of the guns to give more punch. Mike told me that on the electronic guns they just remove the resisters to kick up the power. Interesting. So that is what we ended up doing on Tuesday night towards the latter end of game night which happened instead of institute.

Sean's great too. He's a third year at Pitt Dental. He's been dating a girl in Provo who is now moving out next week so that will be cool for him. Sean's the ward mission leader and so he's really active with the missionaries and meeting people getting active again or who are checking out the church. I almost wrote investigator but I still am not comfortable with that word being used in conjunction with the church.

But anyway, these guys are great. They are both neat, wash their dishes, are really sharing, and are willing to help you. Sean helped me get a bed and get my room set up. He also volunteers at an old folks home (what is the PC term for that?) each week on bingo night, so Aaron and I went with him last night. It was a blast! The seniors were great. They were ribbing each other and joking around. They really liked us coming and told Sean to "Bring the boys back next week!" I need to find some places to volunteer out here.

Yesterday I tried to go for a bike ride. I got to the bottom of the street, realized my GPS wasn't working so I wanted to try other headphones. I biked back of the very steep hill, switched headphones and then went back down. After a short jaunt on the cobblestone with my road bike I tried to hop the curb, crashed, and wacked my wheel out of true. So I walked back up the hill, got in my car, and went to the local bike shop. But I am pretty excited that there are mountain biking trails in a couple of the city parks. I think I am gonna check them out today!

Other than that I haven't been up to much. I read the interesting Wikipedia article on Aldi Foods. I'm not sure why, but I found it really fascinating. I think that is exactly how I would set up a grocery chain. So streamline and efficient. I've also been researching how to set up a Linksys router as a repeater to boost my school's WiFi signal. I ordered one online that has dd-wrt installed. It should be interesting if I can get it to work. I'm a little skeptical because it uses WPA2 Enterprise. We'll see. I was going to get cable internet, but you really can't beat free internet. Right now it is in and out because the signal is weak.

So, that's about it. Sorry it is a boring post. If you are in the Pittsburgh area and would like to come to my White Coat Ceremony, it is Aug 31 at 3pm in the Scaife Hall Auditorium 6 at Pitt.

I'm really excited to be out here. I miss my friends. But I am excited to make friends out here and start on the road to being a dentist!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Addendum to my story

I keep learning new details to the previously shared story. One detail is that he was not barefoot, but instead had left his shoes because he was wearing Aaron's sneakers. The second detail is that he was also wearing Aaron's scout shirt. I love that last detail.

Discussing this with Aaron today, he hypothesized that it was more of a Goldilocks type of experience in which the intruder may have slept on multiple beds and may have tried multiple temperatures of food (hence the slow cooker).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Newspeak

This was on IKEA's website in reference to a particle board desk:

Environment:
Renewable material (wood).
Possible to separate for material or energy recovery.

So basically it should read:

Environment:
Trees will grow back, if we plant them.
In a post apocalyptic world you could probably burn this in a barrel, ignore the glue fumes, and huddle around it for some warmth.

Pittsburgh's way of handling problems

I was driving on 376 yesterday on my way to Aldi's and I drove under this bridge. The bridge had these big concrete spanning support arches underneath. But the arches were wrapped in this heavy-duty netting. Upon further inspection I noticed that there were big chunks of concrete that had fallen off and were caught from falling on the road by the netting. It seems as though the netting wasn't good enough, or perhaps they were just being cautious, because they also threw up some 20 ft high concrete pillars and a roof on those pillars which now protects the roadway from falling concrete.

I'm not sure which scares me more, the idea of raining concrete on your highway drive, the fact that Pittsburgh's solution to falling concrete was to catch it with a net and then build a roof over the road, or that there is a bridge falling apart above 376.

Story about the new place

I just moved to Pittsburgh, which I plan on talking about more in the next post. But for now this story will suffice. I just moved in with a couple LDS guys. One is a dental student, the other works at a bank, which apparently gets held up more often that one would expect. In fact, just yesterday another branch got held up or possibly taken over? Not sure. There is also an LDS guy named Brandon who is only here every few weeks for a couple nights since he lives in D.C. and is just finished a PhD program at CMU.

The house is not in a particularly bad part of town, but not in the nicest part of town either. Just a street with some rundown older houses. It is a block away from the dental school though, so that should be nice. I moved in Monday and here is the first story I was told about the place.

Aaron, the teller (of the bank, not the story), came home one evening. He walked into the kitchen and saw the kitchen in a mess. Food was out everywhere. He probably thought Sean was cooking up some odd concoction. Anyway, he turns around to leave the kitchen and sees a man who had just emerged from the first floor bedroom (mine now).

Aaron yells "Hey! What are you doing here?!"

The man says, "Look, alright, I'm leaving."

That response wasn't good enough for Aaron, who immediately starts running after him. The man heads for the door, gets out, and is chased to the end of the block by Aaron.

Apparently the guy didn't take anything. In fact, Aaron looked through his safe where he keeps books, not valuables, and found a $20 that he said wasn't there before.

How things seemed to have played out are thus. There is a "For Rent" sign on the front of our house (I think the landlord was trying to rent it out at a higher rate since Sean wasn't sure if he was going to stay here). The man, who must have been homeless, may have thought no one was living in the house. Since there are bars on the first floor windows in the side and on the back, the man must have climbed up the bars and sneaked in the bathroom window which was left open. Upon entering the house and leaving $20 for Aaron (?) the intruder must have been hungry. So he went downstairs and ate some food. Oddly enough, he seemed to be in no hurry. In fact, at the time he was chased out he was using the slow cooker to steam frozen broccoli.

Perhaps while waiting for the slow cooker, he decided he would take a nap. He took off his shoes (which were left in the house and stunk, supporting my hobo theory) and went to sleep on a mattress in what is now my room. Then he must have been awakened by Aaron coming home, just in time to be chased up the street barefoot.

Oh, and he may also have changed his underwear before his nap. Brandon, who was sleeping in that room when he was in town, called Sean a couple weeks later. He asked Sean about some briefs he found in his laundry that weren't his. He thought maybe they were Aaron's. At this point Sean tells Brandon about the intruder.

So, if you see a shoeless, homeless person with a hankering for slow-cooked broccoli who's wearing Brandon's underwear, please contact us.

Free money

This post isn't about multilevel marketing, although that does remind me of a thought I had once. Wouldn't it be tragic if the cure for cancer was discovered, but by a multilevel marketing company out in Utah that made superfruit drinks and they patented it before anyone else? I guess it would be the classic case of the boy who cried wolf... or I guess the company that cried miracle drink.

Anyway, yesterday I was thinking in my head over finances to make sure I had enough to pay next month's rent, this month's utilities, and pay off my credit card. I will, but it might be a little tight since I won't get my loan disbursement until mid September. I even ended up putting most of my cart back on the shelves yesyerday when I remembered that Aldi's doesn't take credit cards. Which, by the way, is a lot more difficult than shopping. (PS. Sharon and Ant, have you guys shopped at Aldi's? It is like Costco but not in bulk. There is one near your place!)

But yesterday I got a statement reminder from my one checking account that I don't use anymore. I usually just archive the emails, but I thought for some reason that I should just make sure nothing was charged to my credit card from the same bank which I also don't use anymore. So I logged in and to my surprise I had $220 in my checking account! It was really awesome for the first 10 minutes where I couldn't remember where this money came from. Then it was only kinda awesome when I remembered depositing that money back in June.

But still, I would wholeheartedly recommend depositing a sum of money, forgetting about it, and then remembering it when you need it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Environmentally friendly?

This was on IKEA's website in reference to a particle board desk:

Environment:
Renewable material (wood).
Possible to separate for material or energy recovery.

So basically it should read:

Environment:
Trees will grow back, if we plant them.
In a post apocalyptic world you could probably burn this in a barrel and huddle around it for some warmth.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Last Man on Earth

Last night my mom and I watched a movie from 1964 on Hulu called The Last Man on Earth. It was the first movie adaption of the book "I Am Legend." It was old, it was corny, but I liked it. It is about a plague that overcomes the world and kills everyone except Robert Morgan. The people who are killed come back to life as vampires, and Robert Morgan takes it on as his duty to rid the city of these vampires. The best part of watching the movie was not actually part of the movie, but rather a commercial in the middle of the movie about Coca-Cola that started with the line "Nothing brings you back to life like a Coca-Cola!" It couldn't have been better.

*Spoilers ahead - If you have time, I suggest you watch the movie and come back to read:)*

I liked the movie however because it pulls a 180 on you at the end and shows you that understanding is often context dependent. Throughout the whole movie you are behind Robert as the protagonist. He is all alone and you root for him as day by day he stakes vampires in the chest. Then towards the end he comes in contact with a woman and then a group of people who are still alive but have kept the disease at bay through a constant injection of a vaccine. They are also trying to kill the vampires with the goal to rebuild society. The woman Robert meets tells him that he is a murderer to them. In his zealous quest he has inadvertently killed members of this society who are not vampires. She says, "You're a legend." He cures her with his blood which has immunity, but before she can contact the others and tell them not to follow through with the planned attack on Robert, they come. They chase Robert into a church, throw a spear through his heart, and watch as he dies. But before he dies he yells at them saying, "Freaks, you're all freaks! I am the last man on earth!"

Then you hear a child cry and the woman says something to the effect of, "Don't worry, you don't have to be afraid anymore." So, in the matter of a few minutes, the main character falls from being a protagonist to a very gray fate. And then the movie ends with you not knowing who is good, who is bad, and who you were supposed to be rooting for the whole time.

So I find it interesting how a situation can look so clear, only to reveal in time to be very ambiguous. Sometimes even the opposite ends up being true. From one perspective Robert was being assailed by these monstrous vampires, but from another perspective, he was the monster. He indiscriminately killed anything in his way. Overall the movie left me with a very unsettling feeling of uncertainty. I liked it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Seriously

I'm gonna blog soon. Seriously. In fact, I want to chronicle the beginning of dental school. I hope it won't bore you.