Tuesday, May 30, 2006

gag me with a spoon

This last weekend was the Gathering at the Grove, or GAG, which is one of the worst acronyms I’ve ever heard.  It is basically youth conference for the nonyouth.  If I actually had a job I would’ve claimed that I needed the weekend to recuperate from my hectic work week.  But I could think of no honest excuse why I couldn’t go, so ponied up the twenty bucks and headed to Palmyra on Friday.  

Friday consisted of registration and a dance.  I quickly remembered why I haven’t attended a dance in several years.  Throughout the evening I had many flashbacks of the “Super Saturday” dances of my early high school days.  Bad music, bad refreshments, bad dancing (mostly from me) etc.  It’s just not the most enjoyable event.  I sympathized with the DJs; providing quality music for an LDS dance would be very difficult.  Language cuts out most of your song options.  If they carefully listened to lyrics, most of the rest would be eliminated as well.  I’m sure they get all kinds of requests that the majority of the crowd would actually hate (a handful want Swing, another group wants country, another wants techno, nobody wants all of them.)  But I think we were all resigned to the fact that the music would suck and tried to ignore the fact.

The biggest problem I have with dances is that they are singularly bad events for meeting people.  After all, this was the de facto purpose of the conference.  There were a couple hours of workshops, but the rest of the weekend was basically gigantic group dates.  But dances are horrible formats for meeting girls.  You can’t accurately tell what a girl looks like in the lighting, which is problematic on two levels.  On the completely shallow level you can’t tell how cute she is, and thus if you want to pursue her.  On the more practical level you won’t be able to recognize her very well the next day to follow-up on those you meet during the dance.  Of course you can see during a dance, so the visual aspect is a relatively minor problem.  The much bigger obstacle is that you often can’t hear a thing.  You’ve got YMCA pumping in her ears (sadly it was played) while you’re trying to meet people.  You can usually shout your name out well enough, but actually conversing is rather difficult.  You end up yelling in their ears the whole time and are never sure if you actually heard them right.  I never ask anyone out without knowing them fairly well, and consequently rarely get dates from dances.  Hence the reason I stopped going and was only suckered in to this one because it would theoretically contain all dating prospects from western NY.

The evening did not go well.  I only know a handful of people from Rochester, and none were there when I first arrived.  So I ended up doing a lot of random accosting of unsuspecting girls.  The first I chose seemed promising.  She was obviously pretty intelligent and seemed cute (though strobe lights do lie.)  After about ten minutes of low-level flirting did she move from talkative to a bit stinted.  At that point I noticed the ring on her finger.  Normally this is something you look for before talking to a girl, but I was at a singles dance.  Why was a married girl at a singles dance?  To my credit I think I got out of the conversation quickly, but made it still seem like I was just done with our friendly talk.  I was happy later in the evening when a girl gave me her phone number, only to see her the next day with her boyfriend.  I was already tired of this and the weekend had just begun.

Luckily I found a friend of mine who had also just moved in my Singles branch later that evening.  He served as my wingman (and vice versa) for the rest of the weekend.  I don’t fully understand the psychological reason why it’s ten times easier to meet girls when you have another person with you, but it is a scientific fact.  The other guy doesn’t even have to say anything (although it certainly helps when he does,) he just needs to be present.  If nothing else it meant that you never looked like a total social outcast.  We went to the service project Saturday morning, which involved moving a bunch of antique printing equipment from one museum facility to another.  We had roughly three times the number of people we needed, ensuring that most of us were standing around either flirting or playing with sledgehammers at all times.  We mostly hung out with a bunch of Canadians I had met the day before (this group was pretty much my only successful contacts from the previous evening.)

A sidenote (as if the rest of this were straightforward): there were an insane number of Canadians at the conference.  I’d say they outnumbered the Americans 2:1 for most of the weekend.  This is an unfortunate ratio, but even worse was that every gorgeous girl you talked to was Canadian.  (I accidentally said this near an American girl, which was not my smoothest moment.)  I don’t know what they’re doing up there, but they’re producing some amazing aesthetics, at least among their LDS population.  A girl loses a couple points for being Canadian in my book, but it’s certainly something they can easily overcome.  It’s comparable to being from Idaho or being unable to use semicolons.  However living 6 or 8 hours away from me is pretty hard for them to overcome.  If I loved someone I could certainly put up with a long distance relationship.  But it’s incredibly unlikely that I could meet someone one day and be willing to be in a long distance relationship the next.  Consequently it was largely an inefficient use of our time to flirt with our northern neighbors.  Even worse was the number of French Canadians.  Again, they were cute, but the French connection eliminated them outright.

The workshops and speakers were fine, but again I don’t think that they were the reason anyone attended the event.  The meals were satisfactory, and probably justified my twenty dollar investment.  We even had Applebees cater one dinner, which seemed very strange for a church event.  Saturday night we had another dance.  Unfortunately they ran out of music about an hour in and started playing the music from the night before.  Bad music is bad enough, but it’s especially aggravating to hear the exact same bad music the next night.  Sunday was just church and a lunch afterward.  The event closed at 2 and we hung around the Hill Cumorah until 3.

So that was my weekend.  Sometimes fun, often painful.  Rarely both.  By the end of the event I had a handful of phone numbers.  Now all they have to do is dump their boyfriends, move to America and help me decide where to go to medical school.

Song of the moment: “I’m Blue” the 5678s.

Friday, May 26, 2006

X3: Better than XXX, but only just

I caught the midnight showing of X3 last night.  Why did I do such a thing, when I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be good?  I’m unemployed, what else do I have to do?  Plus I get to watch all the freaks who show up to midnight showings.  And sure enough, they came out in full force.  The theater was packed, primarily with teenage boys.  There were a few hapless girlfriends and older types there, but the high school lot definitely made up the vast majority.  People would start clapping in unison fifteen minutes before the show started, evidently trying to peer pressure the projectionist into starting the movie early.  This didn’t work so they started doing the wave.  Eventually they tired of this and started screaming the answer to the movie theater trivia, screaming even louder every time when they got it right.  The only act I found truly amusing was when they started making the Colossus sound effect from the 80’s video game.  It was moderately embarrassing that I would recognize this extremely obscure reference, but I do know quite a bit about X-Men.  Hopefully I’m one day on Jeopardy and X-Men is a category so I can justify learning all this trivia in my youth.

As predicted the movie wasn’t very good.  It wasn’t bad per se, but I certainly wouldn’t describe it as good.  The script, director and casting problems I’ve been reading about for the last two years were evident on the screen.  The dialogue was overdramatic and cliché.  Admittedly it made it sound like a comic book, but not a good one.  One that you read when you were ten and thought was awesome, but doesn’t hold up when you read it as an adult.  I suspect I would’ve thought the movie was awesome a decade ago, but at this age the plot holes drove me crazy.  There were quite a few “Why in the world did they do that?” moments scattered throughout the movie.  I was never surprised by supposed plot-twists or shocking moments, but I have seen a ton of movies and read far too many comics.    

The effects were mostly quite good.  I disagreed with using Beast and Angel in the movie and sure enough, their effects were the weakest.  I had applauded the inclusion of Colossus, and he was decent.  Juggernaut was better than I thought he’d be, but still wasn’t fantastic.  But with thirty years of X-Men history to pull from, I don’t understand why they made up new characters for this movie when they could easily have pulled from the mythos.  And although I’m fine with them altering story elements to fit the movie format, they made many changes that I felt detracted rather than added to the story.  

So it was ok.  It’s got some good action and effects.  It’s an effective conclusion to the previous two movies which were significantly better.  I think this should be the end of it, but the last scene before the credits most definitely is a desperate plea for X4.  Being the nerdish fanboys we are, a large portion of the audience had heard about the bonus scene after the credits.  Unfortunately the projectionist didn’t know about it, so turned off the film before it came on.  That was quite irritating.  So I had to scour the internet to discover the last scene, and it too points to X4.  So make sure you don’t have an idiot projectionist and stay for the coda.  

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Troubled Surfing

Channel specialization is nothing new.  Ever since cable was introduced we’ve had access to channels we never thought we could need.  Who would ever think of doing a weather channel on a local basis?  So we’ve had a while to get used to this idea.  I personally have no need for a fishing channel, but have no problem with it occupying channel 98 on my cable box.  

What bothers me is that the programming on these channels is increasingly divergent from their intended purpose.  What’s the point of having the Golf channel if it shows tennis?  If it was the preppy sport channel, it would be fine.  But that is not what they advertise it as.  I would never force myself to watch the Golf channel to look for non-golf programming, but here are some examples of odd programming choices I’ve seen in my recently acquired free-time:

Last week in NY my family was watching AMC (American Movie Classics.)  They were showing Hustle, a new British crime drama.  So the show was not American, not a movie and not a classic.  

The History Channel has a number of reality shows.  History is past tense.  Reality shows are present tense.  This is a clear mismatch.

The Discovery Channel has long since lost its vision.  It seems the majority of their programming relates to either interior decorating or building motorcycles.  Both of these are would be alright in small doses, but not the massive airtime they receive.  They now have a gameshow where people hail a taxi, only to find that once inside they get to answer trivia for cash until they reach their destination.  This is tangentially related to educational programming, but it’s pushing the envelope.

I don’t think I need to comment on the state of MTV and VH1.  

Spike (Television for men) shows dating shows and several hours of Star Trek each day.  Not the manliest of material.

Lifetime (Television for women) shows Will and Grace and Frasier all day.  Not horrible certainly, but not a direct match either.

I watched several episodes of Law and Order SVU on the Sci-Fi channel a couple weeks ago.  You could argue that SVU uses science, and that the stories are fictional.  I love SVU, but it shouldn’t be on Sci-Fi.

My conclusion: I have too much time on my hands.  But secondarily, channels need to stick with their intended subject.  The network channels can show whatever they want, but if you name your channel The Bonsai Channel, I expect to see little trees in the programming.  If you don’t have enough material to fill the day, don’t start the channel.  Or have it be the Bonsai and Go-Kart channel.  

Song of the moment: “Casimir Pulaski Day” Sufjan Stevens

Monday, May 22, 2006

Gap in the skyline


Eric criticized me for taking pictures of a hole. I criticized him for smelling funny. Posted by Picasa

Me n' Joe


By far the most interesting thing about this statue is that someone has covered up the sentence on the base about the First Vision. Why not cut the head off the statue like normal vandals do? Posted by Picasa



How could I not take advantage of this obvious photo op? Posted by Picasa

It's my building and I'll do what I want to


Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim, knowing it would be in NYC and hold artwork. Yet he still avoided any straight lines, so it not only stands out from all the square skyscrapers around it, but is singularly ill-desigened to hold flat artwork. You go Frank! Posted by Picasa

Is this China?


This street market very much reminded me of China. I think it's quite odd that for the rest of my life I'll relate large cities to Beijing and Shanghai. Just as everything reminds RMs of their mission, everything relates back to China. Posted by Picasa

Escape from NY

Honestly I’m not sure if I would’ve read my blog for the last couple weeks.  I’ve been living a pretty vicarious existence with all the reading and watching I’ve been doing.  This doesn’t make for the most interesting reading for others.  Vicariously experiencing a vicarious life is just a bit too detached for most of us to handle.  So in order to encourage further reading, I ventured out of my house and went on a trip to NYC.

Despite the fact that I’ve lived in New York for ten years now, this makes only my fifth visit to Manhattan.  Two of those visits were six months ago when I was going to interviews.  So there is really a lot that I have yet to do.

We drove to NYC on Friday, arriving around 4.  I had intended to get some good anatomy studying in, but my darned video iPod pulled my attention away.  We checked into our hotel, which was conveniently situated right in the theater district.  With the help of my other family members my brother and I got lottery tickets for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  Everyone else took off to go see the opera, and Eric and I walked around the Times Square area.  We tried to find a grilled cheese restaurant my sister suggested, but had to settle for Carve: Unique Sandwiches.  I like having so much variety right at my fingertips, but would vastly prefer it if this variety didn’t cost my first-born child.  Little did the sandwich shop know that I may never has a firstborn, so they’ll probably never get paid.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was quite entertaining.  Our seats were in the balcony directly by the stage, so we got a unique view of the action.  The only person I knew from the cast was Jonathan Price, who I only know because he’s in several Terry Gilliam films.  But everyone seemed to do quite well.  The actor playing the Steve Martin character was particularly entertaining.  He did go into the play having the disadvantage of not being Steve Martin, but he seems to have overcome that well.  Having seen the movie on which it was based many times, the plot was no surprise to me.  But altogether it was a very enjoyable experience.

I spent Saturday morning alone, which is when I my best exploring.  My family went to one museum and I decided to seek out the Guggenheim instead.  But sadly I have horrible luck with the Guggenheim.  The last time I tried to visit I discovered that Thursday was the Guggensabbath and I couldn’t go in.  This time the building was open, but the vast majority of it was closed for renovation.  Some guy outside did give me a free ticket though, so my luck is changing a bit.  I did get to look around the building a bit, which is mostly what I cared about.  Frank Lloyd Wright is my favorite architect (admittedly there are relatively few celebrity architects to choose from) and it was great to just see the building.  

I met up with my brother in the afternoon and we went to see Spamalot.  Again, I greatly enjoyed the show.  I was a bit torn when they departed from the source material, since Search for the Holy Grail is most likely my favorite movie of all time.  But the play was very much in the Python style, ie incredibly silly while simultaneously clever.  I think DRS may be the superior play, but I certainly preferred this one due to my devotion to the Python clan.  I even bought an inanely overpriced toy cow to commemorate the experience.  

I think it’s almost certainly some sort of statement that both Broadway shows I saw were based on movies.  I don’t know if that’s a statement about me or about the state of theater, but I know I enjoyed them more than I would've enjoyed the opera.  

We gathered together after the show (the rest of my family saw another opera or The Pajama Game.)  After dinner we visited a Joseph Smith statue that is temporarily on display in the financial district.  Why?  We’re not quite sure.  We also swung by Ground Zero, which I had never seen before.  But as you’d expect, a large construction site with incredibly high fencing really isn’t terribly interesting to look at.  After some more chit-chat we parted ways.  The three of us returning to Rochester did so without any complications.

So now back to a couple more weeks of my dull life.  Relaxing certainly, but undeniably dull.  Though I will inevitably complain about having no free time once my job starts up.  Such is life.  

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tao of Movie Watching

Until the last year I hadn’t considered myself a “movie-person.”  I don’t know what the actual definition of said person would be, but it doesn’t seem to jive with the ultra-cool self-image I try to maintain.  However I now own about 200 movies.  If I’m not a movie-person I’m grossly materialistic and an inefficient appropriator of my finances.  I’ll go with movie-person.

However, I don’t think I’m a conventional movie-person.  For instance, I hate rewatching movies.  There are a great many movies that I see once, enjoy quite thoroughly, and never watch again.  For some this has to do with content; I liked A History of Violence, but will probably never watch it again due to the graphic content.  But more often I simply have no desire to watch it again.  I was entertained or educated, perhaps both, and no longer have any need for the film.  Of course this rule doesn’t always apply.  If a sufficient amount of time has passed and I’ve forgotten enough of the movie, I can rewatch it.  But this is usually after several years; anything under a couple months is strictly verboten.  I will also rewatch movies if it’s in a social situation.  In fact this is the reason I own so many movies.  I can enjoy watching it several times if there is social interaction involved.  A final caveat is that this rule applies to comedies and inspirational movies much less than to standard popcorn fair.  I’ve watched Monty Python and Gladiator many times, and will certainly watch them many more.

I also feel that movie-person brings to mind two contradictory characters.  One view is someone who sees absolutely everything because they want to be omniscient in their movie knowledge.  The other is the extreme movie buff who sticks to a certain category, say old war movies, and has them all memorized.  I fall exactly in between these two stereotypes.  I think I see a pretty large variety of movies.  I watch comedies, action, drama, documentaries etc.  But I don’t attempt to see everything in every category.  I know that I’m critical enough that this would be exceedingly painful for me.  So my movie watching is quite deliberate.  But I do certainly have genres I favor.  If it’s anime and you’ve heard of it, I’ve almost certainly seen it.  And certainly my knowledge of British comedy is significantly larger than that of romantic comedy.  So neither movie-person stereotype applies well.

Though I’m prone to snobby and elitist behavior, I’m not really critical like the stereotypic movie-person.  I enjoy such a wide variety of movies because I don’t think they have to be good or important for me to like them.  The movie doesn’t have to have deeper meaning or a moral.  A movie based primarily on explosions and gunfire is fine every so often.  I love brain-candy, but eye-candy is a separate pleasure.  If it’s fun enough, or interesting enough, or even weird enough, it doesn’t have to be good.  I won’t give it any awards, but I’ll pay a dollar to see it.

My frugality dictates my behavior more often than it should.  Consequently I very rarely see first-run movies.  But I frequent the dollar theater more often than the grocery store.  There are movies that aren’t worth a dollar, but they’re few and far between.  And when I see a movie that wasn’t good and really wasn’t that entertaining, I can still honestly give it the review “worth a dollar.”  And while I’m home for the summer I have both the library and Netflix to provide me with viewing material for free.  If almost any movie is worth a dollar, an even larger majority are worth seeing for free.  Now the only consideration is whether or not they’re worth 2 hours of my life.

I haven’t regretted watching any of the movies I’ve seen this summer.  The fact that critics didn’t like the movie means nothing to me.  I’m egotistical enough to think that I have better taste that those who watch movies professionally.  After a couple decades of movie watching, I can almost always tell beforehand if I’ll enjoy a movie or not, regardless of what others say.  The Mothman Prophecies did horribly in the theater and I knew I’d like it.  Why?  Because it looked like an X-Files episode.  And there have been darn few of those that I haven’t liked.  I may not know as much about cinema as a movie critic, but I know a ton more about myself.  So their reviews are much less important than what I learn about the movie myself.  

But of course the most important factor is if the actress is hot.

Rock, Paper, Scissors?

I’m not the fastest decision-maker.  This isn’t the best fault for a prospective doctor to have, but I have no desire to work in the ER.  Last week I finally decided to go to Stony Brook instead of Syracuse.  It took me another couple days to figure out which housing complex I wanted to live in at the school.  Then I had to do my FAFSA application, which wasn’t too decision-heavy, but still took some deliberation.  And the very next day I get a call from the University of Rochester, saying that they now had a space for me to attend medical school there.  Cursed decisions!

The U of R versus Stony Brook debate is still very close in my mind.  Here are the main factors I’m considering:

U of R

+     Possibility of living at home, thus decreasing my exorbitant debt.
+     Even if I don’t live at home, having certain conveniences nearby.
+     A much better academic reputation (36th best research in the nation, 21st best primary care.)
+     Better psychiatry and neurology programs.
+     Slightly better curriculum.
  • 37,000 a year, resulting in 128,000 in debts by the end of med school.

  • The singles branch is pretty sparse.  There are less than 50 young single adults around.

Stony Brook

+     Tuition is “only” 19,000
+     Close proximity to NYC for entertainment.
+     A comparable singles branch, but close to NYC singles wards.
  • Good reputation, but barely in top 50.

I need to make this decision pretty quick, so chime in if you have any particular expertise, or if you’re just opinionated.

Monday, May 15, 2006


It’s my 100 post party!  Hurray for blogs!  Truly Mr. Blog was a great man, and the world will praise his name for centuries to come.  Technically this is my 101 blog entry, but I didn’t notice last time.

Because I’m such a generous soul, here are some quick movie reviews.  Watching bad movies so you don’t have to is only one of the services I offer.

Mirrormask – I quite liked this one.  It was trippier than Labyrinth, but did sadly lack David Bowie.  I didn’t hate the child actor, which is quite an accomplishment for any film.  Go see it!

Trainspotting – This movie thoroughly convinced me not to try heroin.  The near-constant swearing and plentiful violence and sex mean I can’t really recommend it to anyone, but I did quite enjoy it.  I think it’s the Scottish accents that make everyone seem so charming.

It’s All Gone Pete Tong – An interesting movie about a deaf DJ, but ultimately quite skippable.

Kinsey – This wasn’t the motion picture from a couple years back, but the PBS documentary.  It was extremely interesting how this one man both pioneered the scientific research of sexual behavior and also brought about the sexual revolution that has so harmed the morality of America.  Very educational.

A History of Violence – I thought this movie was great, but again was too graphic to readily recommend.  Vigo is just too good at killing people in nasty ways, and has a bit too much screen time demonstrating his love for his wife.  But it was surprisingly deep, especially considering it was based on a comic book.

Swingers – I loved some of the dialogue, but John Favreau ruined it for me.  I didn’t find him nearly as likable as his supporting actors.  

Chinatown – This one was great.  It kind of bothered me that there was really no way to figure out the mystery yourself, but I was interested the whole time.  I can’t say whether Nicholson is really a good actor; he always seems to play himself.  But watching him is darn entertaining regardless.

The Mothman Prophecies – Hands down the best Richard Gere movie ever.  But then again, I do hate Richard Gere.  I had rather low expectations, but after the slow beginning I was sucked in until the very end.

Hurray for 100 entries!  Though even more exciting is watching the hit-counter because until it hits 2006 it looks like historical dates.  Keep an eye out for your birthday.

Friday, May 12, 2006

My So-Called Life

My life currently has no schedule whatsoever.  This can be highly disorientating at times, but I think I’ve been managing pretty well.  It’s not that I don’t do anything, I just have no particular time frame in which to perform my various tasks.  My currently daily activities include:

Teaching myself anatomy (1 hour)
Scripture reading and study (half hour each)
Miscellaneous med school prep (1 hour)
YMCA (2 hours)
A movie (2 hours)
Reading (1 hour)
Writing (1 hour)

Basically I’m trying to keep myself occupied until my medical temp agency finds something for me to do.  You may notice that this list doesn’t include much in the way of socializing, which is indeed the case.  This should increase a bit in the coming weeks, but may unfortunately decrease my movie watching time, which would be quite sad.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Med School Update

I haven’t been terribly communicative about medical school.  The reason behind this is that I haven’t really received a lot of new information in the last several months.  Consequently there was nothing to report.  However, after about a week of research I’ve made a decision of sorts.

I’m pretty, relatively sure, to some extent, that I’m going to Stony Brook.  Probably.  

For the last several months I’ve told people that I’d probably choose Syracuse.  The reasons behind this prediction included:

  1. I liked the facilities better.

  2. I would be able to return home to Rochester relatively easily.

  3. It’s a larger city, so I thought there would be more Mormons about.

  4. People had heard of Syracuse, they hadn’t heard of Stony Brook.

  5. The church is right in town, as opposed to SB where I would have to drive for thirty minutes to get there.  

Both Syracuse and Stony Brook have the same tuition (19 thousand, which is low for med school) and similar curriculums, so those factors dropped out. However, after my studying I’ve decided that SB would be the better choice.  The reasons for this include:

  1. Although Syracuse is larger, there’s really nothing I want to do there.  Stony Brook is an hour from NYC.

  2. Although they’re the best state schools in NY, SB is the better school.  It’s nationally ranked, and Syracuse is not.  

  3. The Singles Branch at SB is actually larger that the one in Syracuse.  I’d have to drive for half an hour, but it’s twice as large, and if I went to the city there are actually wards.  

I have yet to make the calls to make it official, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll stick with Stony Brook.  Of course all this deliberation is for naught if I get accepted to other schools.  I’ll drop SB pretty quickly is Ohio, Columbia or Mt. Sinai call me in the next couple months.  I suppose I should develop some school loyalty, but I’m still pretty mercenary.  

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Who needs Atkins?

Racquetball is the panacea of our age.  There is no miracle diet or pill, just racquetball.

I’ve determined this after four months of intense research.  Like most “research” in my life it wasn’t intentional, but I’m going to look back on it and say I had a grand plan.  I started off the semester at 155 pounds, which was a record low for me in my adult life.  This was entirely due to a semester of authentic Chinese food, which is very often indigestible.  One of the last things I had to do to graduate was take a final gym class, and I decided racquetball was the answer.  

Why racquetball?  I’d already taken the two easiest gym classes, bowling and weightlifting.  I could opt for hockey, scuba diving or skiing, which are all popular among upperclassmen.  But I wanted something less time intensive and that I might actually continue back on the east coast.  I decided that if I was going to be a doctor, I should start acting like one.  Golf is too dorky, and I hope that I will view it as such no matter how old I get.  Tennis is a decent enough sport, but is too preppy.  Racquetball is like the hip, urban tennis.  Just what I’ll need to be one of the cool doctors.    

It turns out that I’m immensely bad at racquetball.  This was no great surprise to me, since I have yet to find a sport that I’m good at.  I have a couple where I’m moderately competent, but none at which I excel.  But even in relation to other sports, I suck at racquetball.  I’m too slow, and more importantly, my reactions are too slow.  Us gamers tell everyone that videogames increase our eye-hand coordination and reflexes, but it’s all a lie.  I can shoot an alien in a tenth of a second, but I can’t hit a racquetball worth anything.  So after a semester of reinforcing my belief that I should never attempt a sport again, I returned home.

So, back to racquetball curing all the world’s health problems.  Although I had certainly gotten better over the course of the semester, I still was horrendously bad.  So developing skill was a complete failure.  But it turns out that I lost 2 pounds.  I don’t own a scale, so only know my actual weight when I return home to NY.  As an aspiring doctor I realize that a 2 pound weight loss in 4 months is not exactly a tremendous success.  However, you have to consider what else I did in that 4 months.  The answer: almost nothing.  I can’t think of a single athletic activity I participated in that semester, other than my racquetball class.  Furthermore, I ate horribly.  I probably ordered a pizza a week and ate fastfood every couple days.  I was expecting to be five or ten pounds heavier after neglecting my health for this period.  

The conclusion: playing racquetball for 2 hours a week (sometimes 3) will allow you to do no other exercise and eat anything you want, while maintaining a constant weight.  I can’t speak to my health, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have scurvy.  And can you ask for anything more than that?  I certainly don’t.  

Monday, May 08, 2006

Happy Day!

I found a missing pair of sunglasses the other day, which was immensely satisfying for two reasons.

I absolutely hate losing things.  It drives me crazy when I realize that I’ve lost a personal possession.  This isn’t really because I’m materialistic (though I certainly am) but because I hate that I couldn’t keep track of the specific item.  Despite the fact that my living space is rarely neat, I almost always know exactly where everything is.  So when I find that the item isn’t where I thought it was, it greatly disturbs me.  I thought these sunglasses had disappeared back at Christmas and given up hope of ever finding them.  But there they were, hiding under the seat of my parents’ car.  

This was also very pleasing to me because I have an unhealthy fixation on sunglasses.  I know have 4 pairs, along with two broken pairs and a couple sets of goofy glasses that are really only good for costuming.  This is undoubtedly more than I need, but it isn’t my record high.  In high school there were a couple months when I’d buy a new pair to wear every week.  But most of those pairs were of the goofy variety, and the ones I keep now actually look somewhat decent.  And lest you think I’m throwing my cash away on designer brands, three of the four are knockoff Oakleys.  Since I usually break them after a couple months of wear, I doubt I’ll ever spend more than 10 bucks for a pair.  Maybe if I did invest in real ones they’d last longer, but I’m not prepared to take that risk.  The Foakleys I bought in China for 3 bucks suit me fine for now.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Couch Potatoe

Now that I’ve told you what to read for the next couple months (or for the avid readers, for the next couple days) I’ll move onto movies.  Since freetime and I have been reintroduced, we’ve spent a bit of time watching movies lately, and here’s what we’ve learned:

Mission Impossible III

Meh.  Not great, but certainly not horrible.  Better than MI2, but this isn’t high praise.  The intrigue was quite predictable, though admittedly less convoluted than the twists of the first movie.  The action was satisfactory, but not especially noteworthy.  Cruise is still on my bad list for his anti-psychiatry rant, so I’m not objective on his performance.  Hoffman was quite entertaining, but I’m still not as enthralled with him as every critic on the planet.  I’d save this for the dollar theater.


I did see this at the dollar theater, but would’ve paid full price in retrospect.  If you go into this movie expecting to see killer slugs, hideous mutations and romantic zombies, you’ll be more than satisfied.  If you expect high drama, you’ll probably be disappointed.  Luckily I expected the former.  I mostly saw it to support Nathan Fillion (of Firefly “fame”) and he was good throughout.  I quite enjoy the horror/comedy genre.  This was similar to Tremors with better effects, or Ghostbusters with more gore.  I have to skip most horror movies due to sexual content, and Slither surprised me by taking the moral highground.  Perhaps they cut out the nudity to allow extra gore and the abundant (and often amusing) cursing.  A thoroughly amusing film, though admittedly not one for the masses.


The best R-rated documentary I’ve ever seen.  If you haven’t heard about this one, it’s about quadriplegic rugby players.  Unfortunately these guys’ language is as rough as their fully-able associates, requiring the R rating.  But it really was an inspirational story, with a lot of insight into the life of these disabled individuals, who are far more athletic and competitive than I am.  And perhaps the best part of the movie is that Canada is the villain.  A great movie, but not for the kiddies.

Broken Flowers

The latest of Bill Murray’s dramatic works.  I support Bill in all his work (excluding the Garfield movie and Operation Dumbo Drop) and he is in good form here.  However, I feel he’s veered a little too far into artsy.  A good portion of the movie simply shows us Bill staring at things, and there’s at least 5 to 10 minutes of footage of the view from his rear-view mirror.  Sure, maybe it’s symbolic of him reminiscing about his life or regretting past mistakes, but it’s also BORING.  The Murray shown in the outtakes was hilarious, the Murray in the movie is very dull.  Perhaps that’s good acting that a naturally funny person appears boring, but it’s not good entertainment.  Bill needs to keep looking for complex roles, but also play to his talents.  I major gripe here is that this movie could have been PG if not for five words and 15 seconds involving a character named Lolita.  Lost in Translation was much the same way, and it aggravates me to no end that I can’t recommend these deep and meaningful movies to others because of .05% of the film.

Igby Goes Down

An exceedingly dark dark-comedy.  Unfortunately for dramatic comedies, they never seem to reach a high level of drama or of comedy.  The train-wreck of Igby’s life as interesting to watch, but I rarely laughed and wasn’t very moved either.  Perhaps the most interesting thing was to watch Kieran Culkin, who looks very much like his brother Macauly, in his hijinks.  Imagine watching Kevin McAllister sleeping with both his dad’s mistress and brother’s girlfriend, while running drugs becoming a hobo.  It’s quite odd.  The ensemble cast was excellent, but it just didn’t seem to come together as well as it should.

That’s it for this week’s movie reviews.  Maybe next week I’ll visit some art galleries to add some culture to my reviews.  Or maybe I’ll just watch some movies about art galleries.  

Song of the moment: “When you wasn’t famous” The Streets

Friday, May 05, 2006

Doctors > Dentists

Proof 1.  I went to the dentist yesterday, and never actually saw the dentist.  When you can be completely replaced by your assistants, you’re not very important.  I’m not going to venture into the hotly debated nurse versus dental hygienist debate.  

Proof 2.  Rappers don’t call themselves dentists.  They do call themselves doctors.

Proof 3.  There are no dentist tv shows.  The other night I had to decide between watching House on one channel and Scrubs on the other.  Why don’t we have Tivo!  I ended up watching House with Scrubs during commercials, which seemed to work better than the alternative.  I’m now abandoning my proofs to comment expressly on these two shows.

I have never seen House before, but thought it was fantastic.  I’ve been told by several people that I should look into the show because I resemble the lead character.  Sarcastic?  Check.  Intelligent?  Check.  A doctor?  Almost.  Walks with a limp?  Only occasionally.  But I did find it highly enjoyable.  House does make Mulderian leaps of logic that are highly unlikely, but still fun to watch.  I now have to ask myself if House should be my new role model, or Becker.  Becker may win out, but only because I have an unhealthy fascination with his assistant, Shawnee Smith.  If you’re a male you definitely need to look her up.  

Scrubs is also an admirable show that I rarely find time to watch.  Perhaps my newfound unemployment will allow me to partake more regularly.  I very much enjoy the humor of Scrubs, which is probably a better reason to watch than viewing Becker for the scenes with Shawnee.  I love both dry and quirky humor, and Scrubs brings both to the table in abundance.  I like how they don’t feel the need to include a laugh track.  It bothers me when Debra stares at Raymond and they bring in the laugh track (I also value the humor stylings of Everybody Loves Raymond, but not this particular aspect.)  I’ll laugh when you successfully deliver an amusing scene and not a moment before you manipulative producers.  But Scrubs frequently does so, and for that they receive my coveted praise.

Song of the moment: “Incredible Medicine Show” Moxy Fruvous  

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I am so smart, I am so smart, SMRT, I mean SMARRT

I used my three day trip home to become an expert on everything. I’ve long considered myself the expert on everything, but some people persist in disagreeing with me. So in order to quash their belief that I don’t know all that there is to know, I read the following books:

The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by AJ Jacobs.

Lara gave me this book, presumably because she originally thought it was about me. It is actually about an editor for GQ magazine who decides to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, and gives us an account of this year in his life. It is quite entertaining, as he not only relates what he learns, but frequently stops to reflect upon the very nature of knowledge and intelligence. Although he does gain an absurd mastery of trivia, he still regularly fails at his academic endeavors. He joins Mensa, interviews Alex Trebek, enters chess and crossword tournaments, and even gets onto Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The most aggravating thing in the book is that I knew the answer to the question that gets him kicked off of Millionaire. Red Blood Cells you fool! The book became a bit redundant, but is still highly recommended. It even has a quote from Jon Stewart on the cover, so who wouldn’t read it?

The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman

This book claims to hold All World Knowledge. Much in the tradition of the almanac it discourses on the past, present and future, though the future section is rather limited. The hobo section is quite larger than you’d expect. Though not quite as long as the previous book, it contains even more trivia since it has fewer personal asides. Of course all the trivia is fictional. Mr. Hodgman made up the entire thing. That takes talent my friends. The book is immensely silly; so silly in fact that I could only read for about thirty minutes or so before having to put it down. But after a few minutes of the real world I jumped back into it. Similar to Monty Python, Hodgeman is obviously an immensely intelligent man, who has decided to turn his talents towards pure silliness. Mr. Hodgman is now a regular on the Daily Show and can be seen in the latest Mac commercial. Hodgmania has begun, and it’s about time! Also highly recommended.

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker

I’d filled myself upon trivia, both fictional and non, and decided to get one step more cerebral. Pinker had written the most comprehensible of my Psychology textbooks, so I decided to give this a shot. The first chapter is great, but unfortunately I was stopped there by that bane of modern literacy, books on tape! I did attempt to read while listening to a book on tape, but it was too complicated, even for a mind like my own.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Luckily this fit into my grand scheme perfectly. In six hours Mr. Bryson goes through all of ancient and modern physics, astronomy, geology, meteorology, biology, ecology, chemistry etc. Sounds like a blast doesn’t it? It was actually quite entertaining. This is coming from a neuroscientist, but I was amused. He connects all the various people in the fields and their discoveries and how they impacted one another. He points out amusing quirks in the science, but more importantly in the scientists. The feuds and arguments he discusses in his dry British humor kept my attention throughout. It’s a great way for any nerd like myself to see the big scientific picture, and a great way for the masses to get introduced to some pretty complex theories in a very digestible manner. On your trip to Barnes and Noble to get my trivia books, make sure to pick this up as well.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I was hoping to round out my comprehensive trip with some fine arts, but this story disappointed. It is possible that I would’ve liked it better if I actually read it, but the book on tape certainly didn’t stand up to my other literature of the trip. The book was extremely repetitive, and I assume this was an abridged version. It was also extremely slow paced, and the main “action” involves traveling from one library to another. They managed to make vampires boring! That is quite a feat. As a connoisseur of vampires, I felt this didn’t bring much to the mythos and they randomly changed established vampiric conventions in a displeasing manner. It certainly wasn’t a horrible story, but it was a bit dull and oscillated between confusing and patronizing. I suppose I’ll have to rely upon Guns, Germs and Steel to cover my history for me.

So did I learn more at college or on the drive home from Utah? I think it’s too close to call.

Song of the moment: “Sensitive Artist” by King Missile

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


So I left Utah, perhaps permanently, on Friday. So where do I go next? Idaho: Utah Jr. My dad wanted to visit his parents and I really had no reason to rush home, so we headed to Malad.

There’s really nothing to report about Malad. It’s still there. It’s still boring. Nothing against this little town in SW Idaho, but it’s just not an exciting place. If it were, the current residents would probably hate it and leave. My dad and two aunts who scheduled their visit to correspond with ours gave me a tour around the town. I really have no concept of what it would be like to grow up in a single location, let alone a single location this small. So even though the actual location warrants no interest, their reaction to the various sites was interesting enough. Though I did see my great-grandfather's grave, my grandfather's name on a war memorial and a store advertising prostitute-produced pies.

I talked a bit with my grandparents. But for the most part it was a reminiscing trip, and seeing as I couldn’t reminisce about a childhood in rural Idaho, I didn’t contribute much to the conversation.

I tried to think of a way to space up this entry, but it was impossible. Malad is as bland as they come.

Amy has better Camo

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Visual Confirmation

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Nude No More

You have to admit, Nude No More’s a great slogan.  As if we’re all going naked because we don’t have these shirts.  

I believe I’m going to take advantage of this sale.  Vote on what shirt you think I should buy.  Obviously it needs to be one of the ones that aren’t sold out already.  


Current favorites:

Talk to me
Mermaid: It’s What’s for Dinner


Don’t worry, I’m not dead; I just sometimes wish I were.  Depression jokes are comic gold, no?  No, huh?  Well that was a terrific start.  

Surprisingly enough, writing in my blog is not an indicator of my death, but actually of me living my life to a greater capacity.  That is to say, I’ve been busy.  This has mostly to do with my recent graduation, which was a relatively uneventful event, considering it was supposedly a great milestone of my life.  I have a bit of a hard time with such events because they never feel as sentimental or important as I feel they should.  The combination of my high excitement threshold (for the non Sorensen speakers this means that it takes a great deal to elicit an excitement response) and how quickly I adapt to novel situations means that most everything feels ordinary.  Now that’s depressing.  Not as depressing as wishing for death, but certainly not encouraging.  

The best descriptors for graduation are undoubtedly long and boring.  But to its credit, the ceremony was actually much less long and less boring than I had anticipated.  In fact I nearly didn’t go because of these factors and my attitude as described above.  But I figured I’d rather regret losing 5 hours of my life by going to the event than risk not going and regretting that for years to come.  I certainly wasn’t entertained for the five hours, but I don’t really regret going.

I don’t know if all college graduations are done this way, but we had two separate graduations.  The first was with the whole graduating class, which was just over 6000 students.  The second was with just our college, which was probably around 1000 students.  So the 5 hours were split over two days, making each event bearable.  

You may be wondering why 1/6 of BYU is in my college.  This is quite a sensitive subject.  Thanks for bringing it up, you jerk.  We Neuroscience majors don’t have a department to call our own, just the Neuroscience Center.  This program was started by Biology and Psychology faculty, who are not only in different departments, but different colleges.  So the Neuroscience Center is regulated by the Biology department for 3 years, then Psych for 3 years and back and forth.  This fall we switched over to the Psych department, much to our chagrin.  Although the Psych department originated the program, we now only take one psych class and about a dozen bio/chem classes.  So we don’t really associate with that department at all, and now they control us.  This means we don’t get to graduate with the people we’ve gone to class with for the last three years, but instead a bunch of psych majors.  This wouldn’t be too bad, since I have some respect for Psych majors (though I do maintain that this is the major everyone takes if they can’t decide on what they really want to do.)  What angers me (and all Neuro majors I’ve ever spoken with) is that our association with Psych puts us in the College of Home, Family and Social Sciences.  Neuroscience is definitely not a home or family science, and not much of a social one.  We’re Neuro majors, we’re not social.  We sit our rooms and memorize neuroanatomy.  The other majors in our college are Marriage, Family and Home Development, Social Work, History and Anthropology.  How well do we fit in here?

I realize of course that you don’t care about this, but it’s a big deal to my major.  We consider this an extremely rigorous and difficult major.  We’re biased of course, but this is what we think.  I won’t debate the difficulty of the other majors mentioned, but at the very least everyone should agree that they don’t have much to do with Neuroscience.  Home Economics is not brain surgery.  Brain surgery is brain surgery.  Even putting aside all our arrogance concerning our major’s superiority, we don’t want to sit and listen to all these other students graduate.  1000 of the 6000 BYU graduates are in this college.  40 are Neuroscience, the other 960 are in these other majors.  We would much rather listen to the 100 bio majors and be out of the ceremony quick and easy.  Ok, that’s all the complaining I’ll do, about this particular subject at least.

They read the names fast enough that we were out pretty quickly.  I found all the marching pretty ridiculous, but if it makes people feel like the ceremony is important, so be it.  The speeches were relatively good, and some were even as brief as I would have wished.  So as I said, long and boring, but it could have been much worse.

I had a pretty decent family turnout considering their distribution across the continent.  Three siblings and one parent isn’t too shabby for a Sorensen event (4/11 is better than you’d expect, and if you include nephews and nieces it was 6/15.)  On an unrelated point, there needs to be a word for “nephews and nieces.”  Let me know if you have one.  Perhaps neips.  

Packing wasn’t terribly enjoyable, but was easy.  The hardest thing about packing is deciding what to bring and what not to, and since I had to pack everything I owned, it eliminated this step.  The cleaning inspection annoyed me as only cleaning inspections can, but it is now over and done with.  I just had to get it all into the U-haul we rented and was ready to go.    

I said my goodbyes to Provo.  I have mixed feelings for that city.  It’s so easy to ridicule; it is laughable in so many ways.  But I have a lot of good memories there, and have left behind many friends.  I even reconciled with my ex (and reconciled is not a euphemism.)  The goodbyes were kind of hard since all I could say was “Have a nice life.”  In reality I won’t see most of these people ever again.  I will probably never have reason to return to Utah, and they won’t have reason to come wherever I will be.  I’d feel better if I knew where I’d be next year, or even what I’ll be doing next month.  But everything is uncertain and I’m not being the leaf in the wind that I should be.  

This absurdly long entry makes me sound like I’m simultaneously depressed, frustrated and anxious.  I’m not really.  For one thing, I’m writing about events from a week ago.  For another, I have no emotions.  But that makes for boring writing, unlike this fascinating gem of post-collegiate angst.

Song of the moment: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Richard Cheese