Dr Pacik gave me an honourary medical degree

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When Sex Seems Impossible

When Sex Seems Impossible

This semester, I’m taking a course called “Human Sexuality and its Problems.” On the first day of the course, the professor told us that every year, the term paper is a critique of a pop sexology book. The prof intentionally didn’t tell us beforehand whether the book was good or bad—it was our job to do some research and write a paper arguing one way or the other.

This year, the paper was a critique of When Sex Seems Impossible: Stories of vaginismus and how you can achieve intimacy by Dr Peter Pacik. It’s all about how Dr Pacik treats a sexual pain condition called “vaginismus” with vaginal botox injections.

The paper was due a couple weeks ago, and on Tuesday morning Dr Pacik came to visit McGill and speak to my psych class. Of course, I was in the front row, and I asked the question, “Why haven’t you done any randomised controlled trials of your proposed treatment?”

As it stands, it’s still something of an open question as to whether his treatment would be any better than a placebo procedure.

He responded by jokingly giving me an honorary medical degree and asking what I would do if I were in his position. He even had me stand up in front of the lecture theatre and explain my proposed plan.

If I knew it was so easy to become a doctor, I wouldn’t have bothered with the MCAT or applying to medical school. After the class, I told Pickles that I’m a doctor, and she had me diagnose something. So I picked someone and diagnosed her as diabetic. I later changed my diagnosis to “crazy,” and decided to prescribe insulin laced with anti-psychotics.

I think it goes without saying that I’m the best doctor ever.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2459,
    title = {Dr Pacik gave me an honourary medical degree},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-11-16,
    url = {http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/11/16/dr-pacik-gave-me-an-honourary-medical-degree/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Dr Pacik gave me an honourary medical degree" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 16 Nov 2011. Web. 20 Feb 2017. <http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/11/16/dr-pacik-gave-me-an-honourary-medical-degree/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Nov 16). Dr Pacik gave me an honourary medical degree [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/11/16/dr-pacik-gave-me-an-honourary-medical-degree/


Answering my readers’ questions

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Everyone gather ’round. It’s that time again! It’s time for me to answer my readers’ questions!

And by that, I mean, it’s time for me to see what strings of words people have typed into Google that brought them to my blog. Then I look through the search keywords that are (more-or-less) well-formed questions and answer them as best I can. It’s the least I could do, since they took the time to visit my site with these questions on their mind.

“Why can’t the space shuttle leave conventionally from an airport?” (July 26)

Mostly because it’s not an airplane. Those booster rockets that the space shuttle normally uses for take-off are not decorative.

“Is a direct entry master of nursing an okay option?” (Aug 12, 14, 15)

That depends on your career goals.

“If I fired a laser beam at my hand would it come out the other side?” (Aug 4)

Yes.

“How to castle in chess with friends?” (July 31, Aug 7, 14, 17)

Begin a chess game with a friend, castle normally.

“How do you move your king and castle at the same time?” (July 26)

You probably meant “How do you move your king and your rook at the same time?”

“Rook” is the name for the pieces that start at the corners of the board.

In chess, “castle” is a verb. It’s the verb that means to move your rook and king at the same time, two spaces toward each other, provided that the intervening spaces are not occupied and that neither the king nor rook has been moved before in the match (and that you’re not trying to castle out of check).

“Cheat on MCAT tips?” (Aug 1) / “How to cheat the MCAT?” (July 30)

Are you really asking me to help you to cheat on the MCAT? Get out.

“Has anyone ever cheated on MCAT before?” (July 28)

No. No one in the history of mankind. No one whose motives were so pure as to aspire to medical school has ever even considered cheating to attain such a goal.

“Grammar is one of the greatest joys in life, don’t you find?” (Aug 8)

Actually, now that you mention it, grammar is the greatest joy in life.

“How do you pronounce ‘couche tard’?” (Aug 18)

“Couch” (like the synonym for sofa)

“Tard” (like the second syllable of “retard”)

“How to avoid getting your bike stolen [in] Montréal?” (Aug 25)

Sell bike, and buy Bixi pass with the proceeds.

“How to get your thesis bound at McGill” (July 27)

You gotta do it yourself, I’m afraid. You can get Acco-Press binders at the bookstore.

“How to take someones fortune?” (Aug 21)

Twitter-stalking.

“I bought wrong grammar?” (Aug 10)

You sure did.

“I might have strep throat I don’t got insurance?” (Aug 7)

That’s quite the predicament! Are you a Canadian citizen?

“Is there a Montréal métro pass for mature students?” (Aug 19)

Nope. No such thing. Once you’re 25, you pay full price, whether you’re a full-time student or not.

“What happens after you accept a TA-ship offer?” (Aug 4)

Heh … Do you really want to know?

“What is giving you the most problems with Microsoft Word?” (July 26)

Thank you for asking! Mostly crashing, interface glitches and the fact that there’s no separation between content, formatting, comments and meta-data.

“Where can i get hasperat?” (July 28)

Bajor, if you want it authentic.

But if you would make the brine for a really strong hasperat—I mean eye watering, tongue searing strong—you’d make an old man very happy.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-2084,
    title = {Answering my readers’ questions},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-08-26,
    url = {http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/26/answering-my-readers-questions/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Answering my readers’ questions" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 26 Aug 2011. Web. 20 Feb 2017. <http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/26/answering-my-readers-questions/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Aug 26). Answering my readers’ questions [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/08/26/answering-my-readers-questions/


Cheating on the MCAT

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Recently, two men in BC were caught cheating on the MCAT.

I was discussing this with a friend of mine, who was mainly shocked because “they could’ve got away with it if they only added maybe two more levels of sophistication: Not letting the tutors work together, and doing OCR on the text in the image.”

I have a pet conspiracy theory that for the most part, it is the best cheaters who get into medical school. Maybe that’s just me being jaded, and maybe it’s stories like this, combined with personally knowing some people who not only cheated in their undergrad, but bragged about it and were admitted to medical school.

My friend’s response was that my suspicion sounded plausible, but that “not everyone can get in [to medical school] … and cheating may not be the cause, but there is certainly something wrong with the system.”

Of course not everyone can get in. The sizes of medical school cohorts have been artificially suppressed. The doctor shortage is not an accident. We’re short of doctors in Canada as a matter of public policy, not because factors outside of our control have made it so.

In many ways, our current medical system has been engineered to contain the optimal conditions for encouraging cheating.

First off, the stakes for getting into medical school are very high. Doctors are paid extremely well, and within the medical community (and among people generally) they are revered as nearly godlike.

Not only that, but the consequences for failure to get into medical school can be devastating. Entire university programmes are geared toward prep for med school—there is a huge investment that someone has to make even before a student can even be considered for admission.

By the time someone has got to the point of writing the MCAT, she has invested an amount of money in the five-figure range. All her friends and family know that this is where she’s headed. If she doesn’t make it, she loses all her sunk costs, she loses face and she might also have to deal with the pressure of parents’ expectations, either because they themselves are in medicine or because they helped to finance her education.

The slightest error or even a doubt in the mind of a student, a bad mark or a comment from a well-meaning parent might be enough, in the face of all these pressures to make an otherwise good student cheat.

And as much as professors like to say that universities are tough on cheaters, they’re not. I know from a few personal experiences as a TA that even in schools like McGill, nothing at all is done about academic offenses, even when students are caught cheating red-handed.

So, we have a huge potential payoff, limited numbers of people who can cash in, terrible consequences for failure and we train students not to fear the consequences of cheating.

I don’t know why we’re all acting surprised at this.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1860,
    title = {Cheating on the MCAT},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-06-1,
    url = {http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/01/cheating-on-the-mcat/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Cheating on the MCAT" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 01 Jun 2011. Web. 20 Feb 2017. <http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/01/cheating-on-the-mcat/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Jun 01). Cheating on the MCAT [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/06/01/cheating-on-the-mcat/


The tip jar at the Queen-Mary Java U

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Link vs Ganondorf

Link vs Ganondorf

Down the street from my place, there’s a Java U coffee shop across the street from Snowdon station. Last summer when I was studying for the MCAT, I went there regularly.

The tip jar at this Java U always makes me smile. Someone who works at the coffee shop draws little illustrations—always in pairs—and puts each of the two in a coffee cup near the cash register. There’s always a question that goes with the illustrations. I’ve attached a couple examples.

First is Link vs Ganondorf. I took a picture of this for the benefit of my little sister, who enjoys video games way more than I do.

Chicken or Egg

Chicken or Egg

Next is “Which came first—Chicken or Egg?” And of course, there’s a drawing of both.

The drawings and questions change fairly regularly, and there doesn’t appear to be any pattern. (That said, I don’t really come regularly enough or even remember the ones I have seen well enough to discern anything but the most obvious patterns.) At the end of last summer, the question was “Did you fall in love this summer?” accompanied by a “yes” and a “no” drawing (I’ll let you imagine what they were).

The drawings must be done by someone who works at the particular coffee shop. They’re obviously not something sent from Java U’s corporate headquarters. I’m kind of curious to know if this is something that the artist spends a lot of time thinking about, or if it’s something that (s)he just draws up when business is slow.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1706,
    title = {The tip jar at the Queen-Mary Java U},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-04-29,
    url = {http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/04/29/the-tip-jar-at-the-queen-mary-java-u/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "The tip jar at the Queen-Mary Java U" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 29 Apr 2011. Web. 20 Feb 2017. <http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/04/29/the-tip-jar-at-the-queen-mary-java-u/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Apr 29). The tip jar at the Queen-Mary Java U [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/04/29/the-tip-jar-at-the-queen-mary-java-u/


So, how did the MCAT go?

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It’s been such a build-up, I can hardly believe it’s over, and I’m sure that you want to hear all about it. Well, to quote the AAMC, “I agree that I will not discuss or disclose MCAT exam content orally, in writing on the Internet or through any other medium.”

:P

To be honest, I’m not sure how I did. I don’t think I did as well on the Physical Sciences section as I did on the practice exams, but then, I did really well on those.

I felt like I did a solid job on the Verbal Reasoning and Biological Sciences though. The writing sample was a walk in the park, despite the fact that I had to type it all in QWERTY. Hooray for being a philosophy major!

I’m hoping that something statistically unlikely happens, and all my guesses are correct. A 45T would be an acceptable mark, I think. :) I’m not getting my hopes up. If I did well, then I will apply this year. If I didn’t then I’ll write the exam again and apply next year.

You’d think that I’d be able to relax now that the Big Day is over, but actually, I’ve got about a million things that I need to do, that I’ve been putting off because I had to prioritise studying. I’ve got to read a few chapters of Aristotle by tomorrow for the class I’m TA-ing, I’ve got some work that a client of mine has asked me to do on his site, I’ve got to do some reading/thinking/writing so that I have a good start on an outline of my thesis. There are errands that need to be run soon (laundry, groceries) and about 8 emails sitting in my inbox that need to be answered sometime.

On the upside, I don’t have any coursework!

Next step in my attempt to get into medical school: finish applications. I’ll start on that in a few days.

Update: I have been practicing typing with QWERTY all week, and now I can’t seem to type on either Dvorak or QWERTY. Thank you very much, MCAT!

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2010-909,
    title = {So, how did the MCAT go?},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2010-09-2,
    url = {http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/09/02/so-how-did-the-mcat-go/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "So, how did the MCAT go?" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 02 Sep 2010. Web. 20 Feb 2017. <http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/09/02/so-how-did-the-mcat-go/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2010, Sep 02). So, how did the MCAT go? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/09/02/so-how-did-the-mcat-go/


Things that I accomplished today

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SAAQ

SAAQ

  1. Periodically, Canada Revenue likes to send me confusing letters. I think they do it just to mess with me. This weekend, I got a letter from them, indicating that I owed money … or maybe it was indicating that I didn’t owe money. The letter wasn’t very clear. This morning, I phoned Canada Revenue (despite being given the wrong number in the letter) and figured it all out. It turns out that the letter was sent for no reason at all. They already had the information that they were requesting, and no balance was owing. In fact, the whole issue was resolved months ago, but for some reason, it took a long time for the letter to reach me. At the end of the conversation, the agent told me that I could have put the letter in my shredder without opening it and there would have been no repercussions. If only I could do that with everything Revenue Canada sends me!
  2. OSAP has been dragging its feet, and sending me terrible, contradictory messages for weeks now, which have made me worry about whether or not I’ll have money for school. I finally got in touch with people from the McGill Financial Aid office and they told me that OSAP has figured out what to do with me after all, and that my OSAP might be in as early as Thursday of this week!
  3. My computer monitor has gone and died on me, but it’s under warranty. Today, I took it to the UPS store (as much as I hate UPS) and had it delivered back to the company that made it, to be fixed or replaced.
  4. I renewed my Québec driver’s licence, and went in to have my photo taken for the new one.
  5. I did three chapters of organic chemistry, and also reviewed two chapters of biology. I finished biology three weeks ago, but I’m going over it again, so I don’t forget.
  6. I did four loads of laundry.
  7. I made a delicious dinner.
  8. I even did the dishes.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2010-887,
    title = {Things that I accomplished today},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2010-08-24,
    url = {http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/24/things-that-i-accomplished-today/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Things that I accomplished today" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 24 Aug 2010. Web. 20 Feb 2017. <http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/24/things-that-i-accomplished-today/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2010, Aug 24). Things that I accomplished today [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/24/things-that-i-accomplished-today/


QWERTY

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QWERTY keyboard

QWERTY keyboard

I called the AAMC, the people who are running the MCAT, because I realised that the essay portion of the test would be computerised, along with the rest of the exam. The problem with this is that I’m a Dvorak typist.

This means that where your keyboard has “ASDF JKL;” mine has “AOEU HTNS”. I switched in 2007.

On 99% of computers this is no problem—it’s trivial to switch between keyboard layouts. However, according to the AAMC, there will be no allowances made for Dvorak typists on the MCAT.

This isn’t that big a deal. I still have some QWERTY muscle memory left. But I’ve switched my home computer layout temporarily back to QWERTY until the exam, just to give me a chance to practice.

On the upside, it would be a lot harder if it were the other way around—if I were a QWERTY typist, and for some reason the MCAT were done with Dvorak layouts. At least I can read the letters off the keyboard and hunt-and-peck if necessary!

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2010-858,
    title = {QWERTY},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2010-08-8,
    url = {http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/08/qwerty/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "QWERTY" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 08 Aug 2010. Web. 20 Feb 2017. <http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/08/qwerty/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2010, Aug 08). QWERTY [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/08/qwerty/


Done with bio

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Kaplan MCAT Biology Review

Kaplan MCAT Biology Review

Yesterday, I finished all 16 chapters of the Kaplan MCAT biology review volume. My favourite part of the book is the bit of the cover where it guarantees a higher score. And then there’s an asterisk. Follow the asterisk down, and it says, “Or your money back. Conditions apply. See inside for details.”

I looked through the book a couple times, just out of curiosity, but I could find no reference to these conditions or details. Oh well.

Today, I will go through a couple of the practice exams on this section of the material, and go to the Financial Aid office at McGill to drop off the last of the OSAP forms.

This is going to be the first time in a long time that I went downtown. I’ll bring my camera, in case something unexpected happens.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2010-831,
    title = {Done with bio},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2010-08-5,
    url = {http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/05/done-with-bio/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Done with bio" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 05 Aug 2010. Web. 20 Feb 2017. <http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/05/done-with-bio/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2010, Aug 05). Done with bio [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/05/done-with-bio/


Rainy days

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Rainy days are perfect for studying. I don’t want to leave my apartment at all.

I’ve had a relatively productive day. I’ve cleaned up a bit, studied some genetics, moved one step closer to getting my OSAP loan, and I assembled all the documents I need to make sure that my OHIP health insurance doesn’t expire this September. Once it stops raining, I’ll go outside and put them all in the post.

You’ll notice that I’ve done a bit of a refresh on the blog. I’m still not 100% fussed on the colour scheme, but I wanted to go live anyway. The old theme was very dark, and hard-to-read, and I think this one is better by those criteria anyway. :)

Update: I just got an invoice for tuition for this year. :| School is expensive. I hope that OSAP is generous to me this year! I also changed the colour scheme on this theme a bit. I got rid of the blue highlights. It’s got a kind of “coffee” thing going on now. I think I’ll leave it like this for a while and see how I like it in a few days.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2010-811,
    title = {Rainy days},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2010-08-4,
    url = {http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/04/rainy-days/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Rainy days" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 04 Aug 2010. Web. 20 Feb 2017. <http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/04/rainy-days/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2010, Aug 04). Rainy days [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/08/04/rainy-days/


What a great mnemonic!

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How to remember the pathway of sperm, if you happen to need to know it for the MCAT:

Memorise “SEVEN UP”

  • Seminiferous tubules
  • Epididymus
  • Vas deferens
  • Ejaculatory duct
  • (Nothing)
  • Urethra
  • Penis

My favourite part is the “nothing.” :) I bet you’ll never drink Seven Up again.

What’s funny about mnemonics is how they actually work. I still remember every single one of the tricarboxylic intermediates in the Krebs Cycle by heart. I learned them in grade 12, thanks to a mnemonic I learned way back then.

  • You are driving in a car race in France, so of course the make of car that you’re driving is a Citroen—citrate
  • Your car hits a patch of ice, and you crash into a pot of alphabet soup, which was on the side of the road for some reason—isocitrate and alpha-ketoglutarate
  • You manage to clean up your car, and get it back on the road. Double success!—succinyl CoA and succinate
  • Your car starts to fume and you get a headache (mal de tête, en français)—fumarate and malate
  • Despite these setbacks, you win the car race, and are awarded an ox as the prize—oxaloacetate

You think it’s stupid, but you will never forget the eight tricarboxylic intermediates of the Krebs cycle now.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2010-803,
    title = {What a great mnemonic!},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2010-07-31,
    url = {http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/07/31/what-a-great-mnemonic/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "What a great mnemonic!" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 31 Jul 2010. Web. 20 Feb 2017. <http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/07/31/what-a-great-mnemonic/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2010, Jul 31). What a great mnemonic! [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2010/07/31/what-a-great-mnemonic/


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