Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Eyes on the Prize

In the last two days we've gotten back several important grades on big tests and practicals. Today we received grades on a practical exam we took two weeks ago. The last time this teacher graded our practicals, he only gave 5 A's out of 100 students, so needless to say, people were nervous about the grades coming out today.

As usual, a bit of time was allotted during the lecture hour to discuss the common mistakes found on the practical exams. This teacher described a few minor concerns and then mentioned that he had two major problems with the practicals as a whole.

The first had to do with a technical skill that we should all be good at by this time in our dental education. The second went something like this...

Teacher: There were a couple of mistakes that I was ruthless on when I graded...
Us: *groan*
Teacher: If you did [fill in the blank with dental term], I deducted a letter grade. If you did [fill in the blank with dental term], I also deducted a letter grade. When I looked at some of your self-assessments of your work, I couldn't believe it. I don't know if you need glasses or just are in a completely different world, but some of you were totally off. If I felt like this about your self-assessment, I wrote "You should get your eyes checked" or "Are you kidding me?"
Us: *groan* *sniffle*
Teacher: But other than that, it was pretty good.

After that speech, it mattered much less to me about the actual grade I got, and much more to me that my teacher did not find my self-assessment to be comical and/or symptomatic of glaucoma. Although you know what those crazy M.D.'s prescribe for glaucoma...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Alexander the (not so) Great

Have you ever read the book "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"?

It's a wonderful book that my parents read to me when I was little. The story is all about a little boy who wakes up with gum in his hair...and his day goes downhill from there.

***I WAS going to tell you about how my day today was terrible, horrible, and no good, just like Alexander's, but while I was looking up the ending to his story (because I couldn't remember it), I read that part of his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day was...you guessed it...a trip to the dentist. Why? Why does dentistry always have to be symbolic of the worst thing that could ever happen to you? New idea: let's take the heat off of the fine profession of dentistry. Here's how you can help--for just $5 a day, you can provide caffeine pills for a dental student in need...just kidding...let's start by replacing the derogatory phrase "I'd rather get a root canal" with "I'd rather get a colonoscopy." (Because those are uncomfortable, too, right?) And instead of "worse than pulling teeth" let's say "worse than waterboarding."

Anyway...my day was pretty terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad. Brief synopsis:

7:45 am--Needed to mail a package before my meeting with the apartment people at 9.
8:00 am--GPS could not find any Fed Ex stores in San Antonio (even though I know for a fact that there are 5 stores within 10 miles of our house.
8:05 am--Text Jeffrey for directions to a store.
8:10 am--Arrive at the Fed Ex store. It does not open until 9.
8:15 am--Text Jeffrey for directions to a 24 hour Fed Ex store.
8:35 am--Package mailed
8:45 am--Arrive early to meet the apartment people.
9:00 am--Alone in the apartment
9:10 am--Still alone in the apartment
9:20 am--Walk to the apartment office only to find a sign on the wall that reads, "New office hours! 10 am--5 pm daily." Before hanging my head in despair, I noticed one of the office girls inside. I waved for her to come let me in, and then watched as she locked eyes with me, then looked away, then sheepishly walked into the next room.
9:21 am--Angrily knocked on the office door until another woman opened it. I informed her of my 9 am appointment and she acted like I was quite high-maintenance to ask for someone to be at my apartment at the time we had agreed on two days before.
9:45 am--Completely checked out of the apartment. Hooray!
10:00 am to 12:30 pm--Worked in the lab on a project that will quite possibly never be finished.
1:00 pm--Began a pediatric dental rotation wherein one child almost threw up fluoride on me, a mother informed us that she was "pretty sure" her child's major health problem would be ok during dental treatment, and a mother told us that her child is "just one of those kids who can't brush their teeth." (Still not sure what this means...some kind of genetic condition? Can't toothbrushyitis?
4:00 pm to 6:15 pm--Worked more on the never-ending project.

Alexander's cure for a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Moving to Australia where (hopefully) everything would be upside down, and thus his day would be turned into a wonderful, superb, very good, no bad day.

My cure for a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Moving the fajita leftover dinner plans to tomorrow--and eating some Chinese food instead! Let us raise our chopsticks in a toast to a better tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


There is a phenomenon that occurs once in a blue moon at dental school: two major exams happen to fall in the same week. These days, while they are taxing and often frustrating, often turn out to be my favorites. Why? Because these are the days that try men's souls. (Meaning: These are the days where my formerly mild-mannered companions turn into grumbling, complaining, erupting, angry children.)

For example, today as I walked into class my friend Christian jokingly asked my friend Matt an extremely difficult and pointless question from our reading: "What is the square root of the root surface of a maxillary central incisor?" Matt answered, "Your mom."

Soon after this exchange, my unbelievably sweet friend, Amy, began a tirade against our professor that ended in "...and I just don't care. It doesn't make sense, and I don't care. If it was important, I would care, but it's not--so I just don't care. And I'll tell our teacher that, too."

Obviously, she won't tell our teacher that, but to see her so angry was a new experience!

Carly came in and reached an immediate 10 on the anger scale because the student in front of her put her stuff in the way of Carly's feet. Normally that would lead to some frustration and mild annoyance, but today it meant an entire face-turning-red, frantic-wide-eyed, angrily whispered complaint to me at the audacity of blocking her footrest.

It's like my entire class stepped into Clark Kent's phone booth and came out as super villains instead of super heroes.

Strangely, I find all this quite entertaining, so I'm having a wonderful day (at least until the test...that's where my anger starts).

In other news, yesterday I did an online chat with Time Warner Cable because on Saturday while Jeffrey and I were watching one of the March Madness basketball games, our cable and internet suddenly went out. It had just been set up on Tuesday, so we were pretty frustrated that it had cut out so soon. Jeffrey exclaimed, "I NEEEEEED the cable to be on! It's March Madness!" I said, "No, I need the internet on...I have to download study materials for my tests!"

We were out of town on Sunday, so it took us until yesterday to talk to the company. Here's how it went:

TWC: Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable. You are next in the queue.
Me: Waiting...
TWC: Hello. My name is Amy Smith, and I'm here to help you today.
Me: (Thinking: there's no way this person's name is Amy Smith. It's probably a 13 year old boy in Pakistan reading off a script.) Hi, Amy. Our cable and internet aren't working.
TWC: Thank you for your input. Let me access your account.
Me: (Thinking: ok, now I think I might just be talking to a computer instead of a 13 year old boy.)
TWC: Thank you for your patience.
Me: You're welcome? It was like 30 seconds of waiting...
TWC: Would you like one of our maintenance agents to come to your home to fix your connection?
Me: Yes, please.
TWC: Thank you for your patience. We can have someone there around 5 pm.
Me: Perfect.
(This next part appeared literally 2 seconds after I typed in "perfect")
TWC: Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable for your high speed cable and internet needs. We will be coming to your home to fix your connection today, March 22, 2010 between 5-7 pm. Please make sure that a responsible party at least 18 years old is at the home at the time of the appointment and can stay the entire time that the maintenance agent is there. If this is a problem, we can reschedule the appointment immediately.

At the end of this live chat you will have a chance to fill out a survey on your satisfaction with our customer service. We would appreciate your feedback on this experience, and remind you that your responses will be kept completely confidential. Thank you for using Time Warner Cable live chat.

Me: (Yeah...really sure that was a live chat. Little Amy Smith/13 year old Pakistani boy just typed 4000 words per minute to do that immediately.) Thanks.
TWC: Thank you for your patience.
Me: Stop saying that.
TWC: Goodbye.

When the guy came to our house, he described the problem to us: "See, we have auditors who go around and make sure nobody has illegally connected to the cable lines, and your account was really new so they thought you were just somebody who connected illegally, so they cut your feed."

Really good communication , communications company.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Since this week is Jeffrey's Spring Break (but not mine), I tried to quietly slip out of bed this morning and get ready without waking him. Unfortunately, I'm not quite used to the layout of our new house and bumped into our bed, an unpacked box, and a pillow...and that was just on the way to the bathroom! I stumbled into my closet and picked up the closest pair of scrubs to wear to school--my light pink ones--when something deep in my subconscious said, "Wear the green ones." Lucky for me, I listen to those little voices and ended up wearing my green scrubs today. (Lucky because when I came to school I found people from my class literally running down hallways to pinch each other. One boy even had to change his scrubs after the first hour of lecture for fear that he would be pinched to death.)

I would have loved to celebrate with the only green/Irish/delicious thing I like on St. Paddy's Day, but I didn't have any Lucky Charms (they're magically delicious!) at the house, so I had to settle for simply wearing my green scrubs and pinching anyone else who didn't wear theirs.

This was a big day at school because we got several grades back on projects that we had turned in a week or two ago. Most of our teachers either post the grades by a test ID number in the hallway or put them online with a program called Blackboard, but in one of our classes they put them in our school mailboxes. This is a very bad situation for me because I can't figure out how to open my mailbox.

That's not quite the truth--I can open my mailbox, it just takes me several tries. Today I had to stand there twisting the little number wheel 5 different times before I cracked the code. After all that work, I opened my mailbox to find my practical evaluation sheet...

...with nothing on it. No comments. No critique. No grade. Just the sheet I had given them on the day of the test. Shall I assume they could think of no possible deductions for my project? Is it possible that my project so far exceeded their standards that they simply left it as it was in its perfection?

Not a chance. I emailed the course director, and I'm sure I'll get what's coming to me (a B+?) tomorrow.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lab Test

Yesterday we took an exam and had a practical in the lab. The written test was multiple choice, but about 1/3 of the questions consisted of two statements, and then the answers would be a)both statements are true b)both statements are false c)the first is true, the second is false, and d)the first is false the second is true.

In honor of my test (and an event that happened in lab), I have a question for you:

When a dental student is wearing latex gloves and using a Bunsen burner, there is a chance that the flame will cause the latex gloves to burst into flame. Catching latex gloves on fire creates a horrible smell and causes said dental student to lose friends.

A)both statements are true
B)both statements are false
C)the first is true, the second is false
D)the first is false the second is true

The answer is A. And I was the dental student. Fortunately, hidden answer E says: when latex gloves catch on fire, somehow it doesn't burn your hands.


Thursday, March 4, 2010


Once again, I've fallen behind on my blogging. Boo, school! Let's ketchup...

Fortunately, I have lots of actual news to share, not just the usual "my teacher's pants fell off today in class" fare.

First of all, I must tell you about my anti-Valentine's day party from last month. Two girls in my dental school class who live in our apartment complex throw a party every year on Valentine's Day, but make the theme anti-Valentine's Day. All invitees are encouraged to wear black, come dateless, and generally embody a sad, lonesome spirit in keeping with the party's theme. To be honest, we didn't all mope around together--we may have been wearing black, but we all had a great time eating and hanging out together.

The hostesses had asked people to bring food to the party so that we could have a full dinner for about 20 people. I offered to bring a cake for dessert, and the girls asked that it go with the anti-V-Day theme. I asked my sister, Leslie, how I should decorate the cake (because she's much more artistic and creative than I am) and she said that I should pipe icing onto the cake in the shape of cupid tied up in a rope...

...umm....really great idea, but there's no way that my amateur cake decorating skills were going to get that one done. Instead I decided to use a chocolate fondant icing on the cake accented with pink frills and a big pink heart on the top--which I then stabbed with my biggest kitchen knife so that it would be very anti-V-Day!

The cake was a big hit at the party and everyone had a great time until about 10 pm when there was a knock at the door. We had all been out on the patio laughing and talking (apparently a little too loudly) because the police were at the door! Someone in the apartment had complained about the noise, so they made all of us leave the party at 10 pm on a Friday night! I already felt sheepish at the thought of having to walk past the officers on my way out of the party like a common criminal, but when I remembered that I would be holding my "stabbed in the heart" cake as I made my walk of shame, I turned bright red.

*As an aside--my favorite part of the party was NOT when the cops came, but when my friend, Carly, locked herself inside the bathroom. We kept hearing knocking and checking the front door until someone realized that the knocking was coming from inside the house!

After making that cake, my creative side must have just really taken over because I finished the sweater I've been knitting for Jeffrey since October! It took tons of time and effort, but I was really happy with the end result, and Jeffrey is so proud of it. Here are some pictures.

It's not perfect by any means and I probably won't be starting up a knitting business anytime soon, but it was a great way to unwind at night before bed and I enjoyed every stitch. Unfortunately Jeffrey only got to wear it twice because summer sets in around March 1st here in San Antonio, but he'll get to sport it again next winter.

Finally, our biggest news is that we're moving! We looked for, found, and signed a lease on a house that's still very close to school and is (hopefully) perfect for us. We will be renting the house for the remainder of our time at school. It has quite a bit more space than our little apartment and is much more quiet. I don't have any pictures of it now, but we'll be moving in on March 15th, so you can expect to see some pictures a while after that.

For now, the packing has commenced. This week has been my Spring Break, so I've been packing up things, little by little, and thought I was doing really well until Jeffrey pointed out to me this afternoon that I have stacked so many boxes on one of our walls that we can no longer reach the pictures that are hung on that wall. Oh well...maybe that picture can stay--but we're outta here!