Thursday, July 31, 2008


Enjoy the "Did You Know" segment, where information about various and sundry interesting (or ridiculously disgusting) facts about what I am learning in medical school are broken down.

Have you ever met anyone who always sees groups of people as black and white - I don't mean the color of their skin, but in terms of like or dislike? For example, have you ever met anyone who says that when they visit the Doctor's office, they find all the nurses incompetent, evil and useless, but they just loooovvve the Doctor?

If so, you might know somebody with Borderline Personality Disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health website, this person probably has instability in their moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image and behavior. These people can't regulate their emotions and will often try to hurt themselves, without necessarily having suicidal intent. Almost 20% of psych admissions are people with Borderline Personality Disorder! And almost always, this occurs in females.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Capturing Scenes from an Urban Classroom

Although I am often asked what "it must have been like" to work as a public school teacher in Baltimore City for two years, I rarely, if ever, am able to capture the full range of emotions in my response. So, when one of my great friends from Baltimore (Greta B.) shared a link to an article she had published on the topic, I was excited to read it. I figured it would be a nice walk down memory lane. Well, I never knew what an amazing writer Greta is - and in the span of her article, I found my head spinning with emotions as I not only walked down memory lane, but had the opportunity to turn over every rock, ring every door bell and check out every house along the lane!

It truly is an exceptional piece of prose and I encourage every single one of you to read it. You can read it by just clicking here. You will be blown away! And for those of you whom I never gave an appropriate response to in the past regarding my time in Baltimore, please know that reading this article will more than make up for my past inability to provide you with more than general platitudes about the challenges.

In case the above link doesn't work, you can access the article at this web address:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Armenia - A Dinner of Endless Toasts

I wrote a few days earlier about having dinner with my family in Armenia. It was truly an amazing experience. No really, it was an EXPERIENCE! My uncle almost burned all his hair off whilst preparing a huge fire for the "khorovadz" (BBQ). There was enough food to feed a small army (probably not necessary to state, but the food was DELICIOUS). And the company was the best.

A tradition at these feasts is for the hosts to make a toast. Sounds like any other dinner get together, right? Well, let me be clear. The host does not make a toast, as in singular. No, no, the host makes a SERIES of toasts, as in plural. I didn't realize it after the first toast, but over the course of the next hour and half, there would be another 12-13 toasts. By the end, every human, living and dead, that any of us possibly had a connection with was toasted. Every possible exam, life experience, challenge and adventure was toasted for good luck. Indeed, any and every person, animal, machine, object, environment, etc etc etc that could affect our lives was toasted to be positive.

I'm not much of a drinker - so, after I realized what was happening, I would bring the glass to my lips and not drink any of the VODKA that was being copiously refilled in others' cups. Around toast number 8, my uncle started suspecting something, but at that point, being that he was around 16 very large shots of Vodka in, he didn't make the connection, so I stayed in the clear!

I love Armenia - mostly for the people. I love that most people recognize me as an Armenian, but just know I'm not from Armenia. I love that perfect strangers will stare at me shamelessly if I walk around in shorts and flip-flops. But most of all, I love that family who know me fleetingly, welcome me into their home with widely spread arms, bountifully filled tables, and enough toasts to create a memory for a lifetime.

Yerevan in foreground; Biblical Mt. Ararat in background

Until my next visit, Armenia! I will miss thee!

Inspiration for a Nation

...and a struggling med student.


Friday, July 25, 2008 Australia!!

It is true! There are witnesses and we even captured this rare breed on camera! Meet Talar (she is not as violent as the picture makes her out to be) and Mario (who apparently only wears glasses for the look). Turns out, there are actually quite a few Armenians in Australia! And they speak excellent Armenian! And they are very well organized, with gold plated name tags and even business cards! AND, as you can see in the picture, they hand out cool gifts as well (it is a flip-flop with the Australian flag on it - thank you Mario!) AAAND the best part about it is that I now have a place to stay when I visit Australia - that'll save us a pretty penny - no really, Australian pennies are pretty from what I hear...but also extinct.

But seriously, folks - it was awesome to meet these two - totally fun, nice, and great to hang out with. Look forward to hanging out again! Cheers, mate!

Translations - Melody of 4 Languages

The majority of participants in the first International ACYO Assembly spoke Armenian. However, there were a few Delegates who only spoke English. I was designated as a Translator of Armenian to English - as such, I had quite a bit of exposure to the Assembly at large and had opportunity to meet almost all the delegates. It truly was an honor to serve the Assembly in such a capacity.

That said, however, at one point I was pulled from my small working group to translate for a couple delegates in another working group. What happened next earns the
one of the most prestigious awards handed down by this blog. Congratulations!!

Scene: a small, somewhat warm and muggy classroom at the Seminary with about 10 people sitting around, waxing philosophical about various issues. I find myself seated next to the two folks who don't understand Armenian and now attempt to translate Armenian to English for them, then English to Armenian back to the group.

ACTION: at first, I would translate the Armenian dialect being spoken (yes, there are several dialects of Armenian, each with their own unique mannerisms, speaking style, and some different vocabulary, also!) - anyway, I was translating the Eastern Armenian to Western Armenian (in my head, this is what I understand), then to English for the two guys. Then, when they had a comment, I would translate that back to Western Armenian and TRY to throw in some Eastern Armenian speaking style for the group. This was working well, until...

One of the delegates from Russia preferred speaking Russian to make his point. Fine. But now it meant that Russian was spoken for about 10 minutes (these people can't make their points in any sort of efficient manner - those of us from North America decided this is a cultural thing), then that was translated to Eastern Armenian, which I then translated to Western Armenian in my head and then to English. Then, in return, I translated the English to Western Armenian, to Eastern Armenian, which another delegate translated to Russian for the dude from Russia. This worked for about 10 minutes, until.....

One of the delegates said she was unable to understand my accent with which I was speaking Armenian. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?! As a result, Russian was translated to Eastern Armenian, to Western Armenian, to English, back to Western Armenian, my version of Eastern Armenian, then another delegate would restate what I said in a more "understandable" Eastern Armenian, and then the other dude translated to Russian.

My neck is still recovering from having to turn to so many people just to translate "God Bless You".

UPDATE: Thank you to my friend Laura T. for sending this YouTube clip from "I Love Lucy" - it truly captures the essence of the whole translating ordeal. Enjoy and thanks Laura!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Armenia - Post 2

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Delegates to the first Pan-ACYO Meeting

The theme for today was meetings - we were at Etchmiadzin all day for the first official day of the Pan-ACYO Assembly. It was a great experience, but a pretty LONG day. His Holiness Karekin 2 kicked off the Assembly. Hovnan Srpazan had wanted one speaker from each region to present their heart-felt thoughts in front of the Assembly to Vehapar. For North America, we had designated Maria Derderian - an awesome, fun, and well-versed member from the Eastern Diocese who graduated from St. Nersess and now works at the Diocese in one of their myriad of youth programs. She made an excellent presentation and represented us well. Then, however, in typical Hovnan Srpazan SURPRISE! fashion, I heard my name announced next as a speaker. It is nerve wracking enough for me to behave in the same room as somebody of Vehapar's stature, so imagine me having to now make a speech! But you know how preachers often say that God directs their words and helps them say what needs to be said? I definitely felt that whilst I spoke - afterwards, Tamara told me it was very good - but I'm not sure she would say otherwise...would you Tam? Anyway, I think somebody got a picture of this, so when they send it to me, I will post it here.

The rest of the day was spent in smaller working groups, hashing out various details of the organization. I would say it was productive. And the organizers of the Assembly, all from Armenia, had done an excellent job of integrating various ways to get all the participants to get to know each other - things like Secret Buddy, smaller working groups, etc - really helped us to integrate with our brothers and sisters from other countries in ways we could not have (or would not have) otherwise. Tamara and I kept saying we should integrate some of those ideas into our own ACYO Conventions back home!

Friday, July 18, 2008

"20 Minutes"
Meetings all day in Etchmiadzin. We had an adventure after the group dinner. Maria, Tamara and I decided to go get some dinner because we were served boiled koufta, something I had never before seen. So we walked to the Hrabarag (Central Square) to the Hotel Armenia (now Marriott Hotels) and chilled in the awesome A/C for a bit. Maria called her mom and we decided we would meet in "20 minutes". That time passed, no Mrs. Derderian yet. So, Maria called back - mom was on her way. Another 20 minutes. After all was said and done, about an hour and a half later, we were picked up by somebody else and taken to a restaurant that none of us would have found on our own, to a basement. We all momentarily feared for our lives. Turns out the restaurant had great food - and Maria's mom was found there in a meeting. She is an awesome character - very lively and fun - I felt at home :)

Hrabarag - Central Square in Armenia

Needless to say, for the rest of the time in Armenia, we always told each other we would be somewhere to meet up in 20 minutes.

Hovig, Tamara, Maria

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Armenia - Post 1

Tuesday, July 8, 2008:
2345 hours

Landed at Zvartnots International Airport in Armenia. They have built a beautiful new departures and arrivals terminal/lounge. Quite an improvement from the old Soviet UFO looking building. That said, the old building did have some unique characteristics - the new building looks like every other newly constructed airport. Not much unique local flava. Regardless, I was into the terminal, through Passport Control and waiting for luggage within minutes. My luggage was not to arrive tonight - but my name was on a list with the BMI agent, who informed me it would arrive in the next couple days. Great!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008:
0110 hours

Family met me outside Customs. Was very happy to see all of them again! The last time we all saw each other was 2001 when I went to Armenia for the 1700th Celebration of Armenia accepting Christianity as its official state religion. They insisted I go with them for tonight instead of going to the CYMA hotel, so with them I went. We arrived to their apartment around 0130 hours and had a lovely time talking about life. Within 30 minutes, there was a spread on the table of various meats, cheeses, vegetables and fruits. Needless to say, I didn't get to sleep until about 0400 hours. I woke up around noon in a haze, still trying to figure out which way was left!

The apartments in Armenia (the old school ones, I assume), have a very unique shower system. You fill up a huge tank with water, located directly above the bathtub. Then, before you plan on showering, you plug in the heating system for a couple hours to heat that water. Then, when you are ready to shower, you turn the spigot that sticks out of the tank and walla! Warm water comes pouring out. Pretty neat system. So I showered and got ready for our first meetings, to be held at St. Sarkis Church later in the evening.

I must admit, when I agreed to attend these meetings, I didn't realize just how historic and momentous an opportunity this actually was. I attended the FIRST Assembly of the International ACYO (Armenian Church Youth Organization)! This was actually a huge event in the life of the Armenian Apostolic Church! Hovnan Srpazan (Archbishop) has been working on this idea since 2001, and thanks to his extremely hard work, the first General Assembly of the organization was able to be held. And together with 134 other delegates from almost every continent in the world, we helped firmly plant the seeds for the organization to grow and prosper in the growing years and decades.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Armenia 2008 - Flight Report

On my trip to Armenia, I had opportunity to sample three different airlines: United Airlines, BMI (British Midlands), and Air New Zealand.

I love everything flying. Airports, airplanes, airlines - all of it. So, for those of you who share a similar interest, here is a brief report on my experiences on these case any of you are planning future travel on any of these airlines.

United Airlines: Overall Grade: B-
I flew UA from Fresno to Denver, Denver to London, and LAX to Fresno. For the flights from/to Fresno, it was a regional jet, operated by SkyWest. The flights were comfortable enough and I had no major issues. For the flight from Denver to London, I got to fly a Boeing 777 for the first time! Also, I spent the $89 upgrade fee to fly in their Economy Plus Cabin, which offers a few extra inches of legroom, which I figured would make a big difference in comfort...especially since this flight was 100% full. There was a funny story about my seat in Econ Plus, which if any of you are interested, let me know and I will share that story with you.

Seat Comfort: C+; in Economy Plus
Food Quality: C-; pretty bland
In-Flight Entertainment System: D; tiny screen. Few movie choices and not on-demand.
Service Quality: B

Overall, UA provided a pretty good product at a reasonable price. I think I would have been pretty uncomfortable for 8 hours in their regular Economy cabin, so the upgrade was worth it - but take note: Economy Plus only means a few more inches of legroom - there are no other upgrades to the product - so don't go in with major expectations!

BMI: Overall Grade: A-

BMI took me from London to Yerevan and back a week later. The flight going was pretty empty, so I had an entire row to myself. This concerned me because I was super impressed with the flight service and wondered how BMI made flying to Armenia viable. The answer came a week later: the flight coming back was 100% full. This is when I realized that the seats are REALLY close to each other! Not a whole lot of legroom. On the way to Armenia, when I had the whole row to myself, I laid across like a King. On the return, I was barely able to lay back without my legs hitting the seat in front. That said, the service provided by the flight attendants, both outbound and inbound to London, was impeccable. Maybe the erosion of service on US Domestic carriers has left me with lower expectations, but even still - the service on BMI deserves a big WOW!!! The flight attendants were super nice, very accommodating and friendly. The food served was delicious - and I don't mean by airline standards. I mean by restaurant standards - it was a very yummy meal. AND, on the trip from Armenia to London, we must have had a newer plane because we had our own seat-back TV screens with 6 channels of rolling movies to entertain ourselves with.

Seat Comfort: D+; they have leg rests, but seats are too close to each other
Food Quality: A; delicious!
Entertainment: B-; not on-demand, but good size screens
Service Quality: A+

Air New Zealand: Overall Grade: B

This is the first time I have flown Air New Zealand (London to LAX). They flew a Boeing 747 - super cool!! Everything about this flight was impeccable - except one: the flight attendants, at least in my cabin, were surly and quite frankly rude! I couldn't believe it! EVERYTHING else was amazing. A huge entertainment screen with on-demand EVERYTHING (movies, TV shows, CDs, flight map, games). The seat was VERY comfortable for a Coach seat. Tons of legroom (more than Economy Plus on United, but this was the normal Economy product), and the seat laid back quite a bit to make sleeping fairly comfortable. The food was delicious with some New Zealand flare to spice it up. But the flight attendants did not smile once, their service was absolutely boring, uninspired, and unwelcoming. And, when one flight attendant spilled water on me, he didn't even acknowledge it. I had to ring the call button to get him to come back and to ask for napkins. He grudgingly returned, dropped (no exaggeration, DROPPED) the napkins on my lap, and walked away. No apology, no nothing. Had the flight attendants been even moderately nice, Air New Zealand would have easily earned an A+ in my book. The only reason they fall to a B for overall grade is because of the service quality, which was a failure.

Seat Quality: A+; especially for econ, very comfortable seats!
Food Quality: A+; loved the New Zealand influence in my lamb meal
Entertainment: A+; on-demand everything, with TONS of selection - I would estimate more than 100 movie choices were made available!

Service Quality: F; too bad the flight attendants SHOWED they weren't interested in being there. That said, I would definitely fly Air New Zealand again because the most important part of the product - their seats - were awesome in the Economy cabin.

Hope you found this helpful. Stay tuned - Armenia posts are coming up in the next couple days!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'm Back!

Armenia was AMAZING! I knew before I left that only 5 days in Armenia would be way too short and I do regret not booking a longer trip. But alas, I made the best of the time I did spend there. I promise I will post information and pictures once I get back on California time and write it all down. But in the meantime, to whet your appetite, here are 2 news items for you to enjoy.

First: a picture from Armenia of some of my family. The relationship is that the parents of some of the folks in the picture were my mom's Godparents - and in Armenian culture, that is just as good or better than blood relatives. So my mom is like a sister, therefore making me a nephew to them. And I was treated as such. As you can see, the table is barely visible under all that delicious food! I will share more once I write about this particular day, but suffice it to say that the term "family" was truly realized - I felt so blessed to be a part.

Second: while I was in Armenia I received something that always warms my heart - an email from one of my Scholars (for those of you who don't know, I called my 8th grade students, Scholars, for they truly embodied the spirit of learning and discovery). Anyway, one of my students named Indigo emailed me about a couple very exciting updates in her life. She will be starting the 11th grade come fall. Back when she was in 8th grade, suffice it to say that Indigo was one of those scholars who us teachers wish we could fill our classes with. She was hard-working, caring, kind, passionate, involved, and had a wit about her that made her absolutely wonderful to have in class. I have, with Indigo's permission, included her email to me below, because I wanted to share just how excited I was by her news! She also reads the blog, so feel free to leave her encouraging comments as she continues her journey through BCPSS (baltimore city public school system) and beyond! Great job Indigo!!

"Hey mr A. Good to know every thing is going good. I am taking a trip this summer. I will be going to India. It is a part of a school project. I will be helping build a school and doing leadership training from july26-aug15. It is a part of the ambassadors club with oprah winfrey."

I asked Indigo if she had ever been on an airplane before. Below was her second email - which made me even PROUDER of Indigo for all her hard work. It is truly paying off and she truly will be a Scholar who realizes the excitement of 2014 (her COLLEGE graduation!) Let me just be clear here that I had nothing to do with Indigo's success - this is all her passion and drive and determination to use the talents God has blessed her life with in order to achieve greater good and success in life. Keep it up Indigo!

"No I have never flown before. I have never been out of the country, but I guess that makes it so much more exciting!!!!!! I will be getting a digital camera and sharing my experiences with all my friends, family and former science teachers() I might be able to meet oprah. I was also accepted into the national society of high school scholars. You can cheack it out at"

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Time to Fly!

I am an airline freak. I love everything about flying: I love the smell of jet fuel, the sound of an airplane revving up the engines to taxi to the runway, the power of accelerating so fast for takeoff, the awesome views from the airplane down to God's beautiful earth. I even love the lines at an airport! And as you can see in my blogroll (that is the list of other blog sites I invite you to visit, located on the lower left of your screen), I often frequent the blogs of people who write about everything to do with flight. I must admit my two favorite blogs are written by "The Cranky Flier" and "Flight Level 390" - both of them give an awesome insight into the airline industry (and the writer of The Cranky Flier really isn't all that cranky!)

But I digress - the point of this entry is to let you all know my flight itinerary to Armenia in case you are interested. I always find it fun to track the flights of my friends - and yes, I know I am unique in that hobby. Anyway, if there are any others of you who secretly enjoy tracking flights but are just too ashamed to admit it, here you go! Oh, and stay tuned for posts from Armenia - should be an exciting trip!


Monday July 7, 2008
United Airlines Flight 6675
Depart FAT at 1:38pm
Arrive DEN (Denver, CO) at 5:00pm

BMI (British Midland Airlines) Flight 4498 (operated by United Airlines Flight 948)
Depart DEN at 8:20pm
Arrive LHR (London) at 12:15pm (on July 8)

BMI Flight 965 - on July 8
Depart LHR at 2:35pm
Arrive EVN (Yerevan, Armenia) at 11:35pm

Monday July 14, 2008
BMI Flight 966
Depart EVN at 11:25am
Arrive LHR at 1:00pm

BMI Flight 3981 (operated by Air New Zealand Flight 1)
Depart LHR at 4:15pm
Arrive LAX at 7:30pm

United Airlines Flight 6433
Depart LAX at 10:55pm
Arrive FAT at 11:57pm

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Yes, even Democrats celebrate our nation's birthday!

For those of you who know Andrea, you know that she is full of adventures. It is not possible to hang out with Andrea for even an hour and not find yourself doing something you would not have thought up yourself.

Add her Auntie Karen...and all HER friends...and you are bound to find yourself having way too much fun - without thinking about the consequences (like a lobster sun burn and an intense knowledge about how each of my rotator cuff muscles is affected with each arm movement as I writhe in pain)! Below is a recounting of my most amazing Independence Day Celebration to ring in our country's 232nd birthday.

SCENE: Went to Bass Lake (never been there before) to join Andrea's aunt and all her friends who annually take a trip to the Lake. I can see why - the Lake is absolutely gorgeous, but more importantly, the families that get together for some R&R are truly wonderful people. All of them are Grade A - kind, generous, HILARIOUS, and truly caring.

The day started off innocent enough, with me relaxing on a recliner outside in the cool, clean air. It wasn't long, however, before I found myself on a Jet Ski for the first time in my life. This is something I absolutely wanted to try - and my expert driver, Cousin Blake, was a lot of fun...even when he sped up when he felt that I had lost my grip and was about to fall off...which I did. Thanks, Blake. Not long after, Andrea and I took the Jet Ski for a spin...with me driving. In order to not get Andrea in trouble, I won't mention which aunt she compared my driving to, but let's just say I was so nervous about waves that I would rev up and stop, rev up and stop, rev up and stop. Which meant Andrea kept flying back, then forward; back then forward; back then forward. I finally got the hang of it, kind of. Enough to try a spin, which I did very well, except I revved up before I was totally in the spin, causing Andrea to literally just slip backward. Yup - one minute she was there, the next she was gone. Many thanks to Jack for letting us use his Jet Skis!

We then went in the big boat - all us "adults" - to an area of the Lake that people compared to Lake Havasu - tons of boats parked next to each other, music blaring, everybody partying and having a great time. Indeed, I don't think I have full-on laughed for such a long time, non-stop, as I did yesterday. Between various wisecracks, hilarious stories, and lemons being thrown at each other, it was all I could do not to pee my pants.

But then, THE Question was posed to me by Pam. Now listen - I know well enough to keep my mouth shut about politics when I'm around Andrea and her family, and her friends, and all their friends, and all their friends' friends. Only Grandpa and I agree - and we are called "closet conservatives" anyway. But I digress - I keep my mouth shut and don't mention my political leanings. But then Pam asked THE Question on the boat as we headed back to the cabin - and I couldn't very well lie! She leaped up from her seat as the boat was racing and proceeded to attack me. That's right, ATTACK me - you attacked me, Pam! :) lol. She also called the shower, the wedding, and any other plans she had for "us" off. But in my defense, I was called a "lovable f$#(er" nonetheless. Thanks.

The fun continued - to get back at me for Pam, I was offered to go on this pancake looking floaty thing - you literally hang on for dear life as the boat races in circles with one purpose: get the guy to lose his grip and fall off. One dude, who just graduated (congrats) and is headed to Northern AZ Univ, held on EVERY time. Impressive! I, however, fell off...EVERY time. Without fail. I didn't even last minutes. lol. But it was a lot of fun - being thrown full speed off a pancake is super fun. But see the 2nd paragraph - I now know my rotator muscles (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor, Subscapularis) very, very well. Thanks to Tim for some excellent driving.

But finally, what would a July 4th celebration be without an amazing fireworks display. We walked over to one of Andrea's "98!!!!!!!!!!!" friends - Brooke and her family - who had a front row seat to the awesome fireworks show. I met some more awesome people - in fact, I met Uncle Sam himself who played the trumpet to various patriotic songs - ALL the people (and there were a lot because the Lake was packed with boats to see the show) loved his music playing.

Independence Day is a day to celebrate so much. Especially in an election year, we should stand even taller knowing that in our wonderful country, we are able to disagree on politics, on various issues, and feel no threat to our safety. We are one Country, indivisible, for Liberty and Justice for all. Happy 4th!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I'm a SUB!

It is official! I took my fingerprints at Fresno Unified School District today, snapped my mugshot, turned in all the paperwork, and shook hands with the Sub coordinator!

Last week, I received my official temporary CA State Teaching Credential - I'm not sure why, other than I still love teaching, but I was so excited to be given that credential! It was a super exciting feeling to join the team here in California!

As most of you know, I had the honor of teaching in the Baltimore City Public School System for two years, from 2004-2006, as a Teach for American Corps member. I had the LUCKY honor of being placed at an AMAZING middle school there - Booker T. Washington Middle, teaching 8th grade science. I miss those days quite a bit!! I actually still follow the news about BCPSS schools through the website - I will always feel connected to those schools. Luckily, there is currently an AMAZING CEO (their version of a Superintendent) who is helping to upgrade the schools and make sure my students who are still going through the system can receive as top-notch an education as possible. I pray for my "Scholars", as I called my kids, every day.

But now, as I said, I'm official in FUSD. Well, I have to wait for my fingerprints to clear, but that won't be a problem. And my first sub assignment is already set as well! I get back from Armenia on July 14, have a day to recover, and will be subbing at Tenaya Middle School on July 16 and 17.

Funny story: several people who helped me as I got my credential and then applied to be a sub were wondering why I wasn't applying to be full-time! In fact, they would read the amazing letter of recommendation my old Asst Principal wrote (thanks Mr. D!!!) and look at me crooked, trying to figure out why only a sub. The short story: I figure I can work a couple days before I go back to school - make some money to pay off the $100,000 plus debt I'm already in! :)

Did You Know!!

When I first started medical school, I would send regular e-mail updates to family and friends back home. In some of those emails, I started the "Did You Know" segment where I shared various and sundry interesting (or ridiculously disgusting) facts from what I was learning. It was a popular segment, so here is the first DID YOU KNOW of my new blog! I hope you enjoy!

If you have chronic bad breath, called halitosis, you might have something called a Zenker's Diverticulum! This is basically an outpouching near the top of your esophagus - what should be a smooth tube gets a little Gucci purse hangin' out the side. Sounds bad, eh?! But before you go running to your doctor, in order to be diagnosed with Zenker's, you also have to have serious difficulty swallowing. The bad breath occurs because food gets caught up in the outpouchings and basically starts to rot. NEAT!

But take heed: most of you who have bad breath just need to brush your teeth more often and floss. And it wouldn't hurt to buy some Scope.


"I'm a Hot Mama!"

The words of my mother: "I'm a Hot Mama" describing the fire we were all breathing out after some very VERY spicy Indian food. After a long, hard day of taking the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exam), we had gone out for dinner to celebrate the achievement.

With my mom's statement, we kicked off a wonderful evening of just relaxing and trying to figure out what the heck was in the food we were eating! And I decided that the best way to chronicle all these little events in my life - some that I will remember on my own, but most that I will most certainly forget - would be to kick off my own blog. I have always admitted to being behind the curve when it comes to new technology - I figure starting a blog now puts me somewhere in the middle of the pack!

Not that I haven't "blogged" before - but it was called journaling before! Indeed, I journal/blogged throughout my whole first year teaching in Baltimore City Public School System, as part of Teach for America. That was in 2004. Since then, journaling is SO out and "blogging" apparently is SO in. Indeed, when I look back and read some of my journal entries, I'm surprised at how much I've forgotten - and at how much I truly enjoyed teaching.

So as I move firmly into another chapter of my life, blogging seems to be a good way to do it. And my family and friends can leave messages and start whole discussions on here! AND I won't need to fill your inbox with all my e-mails updating you on my adventures. You can just check here to see the latest! Should be exciting...and dangerous :)

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I am a medical student now. I finished my second year and had to take that big test I mentioned earlier. 350 questions - all computerized - 7 blocks of one hour each with a one hour break to spread between all the blocks. You walk out of the testing center feeling like your brain has been put through a meat grinder and it is all you can do to make it to your car, to your house, and plop onto your bed and go to sleep. Well, that and eat really spicy Indian food.

So I welcome anyone who is interested to my blog. I hope you will bookmark it and visit often. My goal right now is to post at least once a week. Sometimes more. My goal is to chronicle my experiences as I go through the 3rd and 4th year of clinical medicine. So for anybody interested in medical school, please let me know any questions you might have! And for my family, as always, I love getting your advice - so please share with all of us!

And as an immediate bonus - I will be going to Armenia from July 7-14. I look forward to chronicling that experience on here, along with pictures - so for those of you interested in my adventures in Armenia next week, stay tuned!