Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Then Tengu emerges from Round 2 unscathed!

The mysterious semi-retired ninja and renown piano tuner known across the interweb as "The Tengu" has survived his second semester of fulfilling the supportive coursework required to apply for respiratory therapy school. It is as of yet unconfirmed, but the word on the street is that he has once again achieved, for the second semester in a row, the distinction of a 4.0 GPA and will be listed (via an alias) upon the prestigious Dean's List.

The Tengu was reported as saying that he was glad that the semester was over and that he will enjoy his summer vacation... all 6 days of it.

He then went into a ninja fury and chopped off the arms and legs of a nearby pirate before disappearing in a puff of smoke.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Very little Faith...in group project partners.

So I wake up this morning from my Easter-chocolate induced sugar coma to the realization that I have a group project due this evening in Medical Law & Ethics. It is on the landmark legal cases of "Baby Doe & Baby Jane Doe", basically the right of born-alive infants to receive treatment.

The group decided that we would do a PowerPoint and everyone would be responsible for putting together slides for one particular aspect of the case and we would combine them into a presentation.

I did my PowerPoint slides on the case summaries, roughly 16 slides.
My next partner that did hers on the ethical dilemma, about 12 slides.
The final loser partner that I knew was going to blow it, submitted an editorial-like word doc that we were barely able to distill 2 coherent slides from.

There's always one loser-moron-slacker in every fraking group.

I pray that it is never me.

Got to run to the morning S.I. session for A&P. Peace be with you on this day my Internet brethren.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Still truckin' mother trucker...

25 days left of this semester.

It's been a while since I last posted an update, I've been super busy playing a proverbial game of "Life and School Wack-A-Mole" I just didn't have a sec until now.

A lot has transpired recently, I've conquered the big projects, presentations and papers in Micro and Medical Law, tackled big exams in everything - and thus far still clockin' all A's. Although I took some rather nasty exams yesterday whose results remain to be seen.

Other tidbits...
  • The shop (aka piano dungeon) is inching closer to its final demise - I can't wait to be out from under that beast! I'm nearing the end of my final piano rebuilding project - the project I've affectionately nicknamed the dreaded "Devil's Rectum" piano. I installed the last of the strings today, now I need to figure out how to make it play...
  • I'm all registered for next semester and I'm once again locking horns with the inept boobs at the financial aid office.
Umm... I guess that's going to have to be it for now, I have to head to the gym for some self-induced torture before picking up the Smoochster from daycare.

Monday, March 9, 2009

You call that a break? I'll show you a frakin' break, of your 3rd cervical vertebrae!

Well my break sucked. I worked. I got super sick with a 103 degree fever. Then I worked some more. Then I wrote two ethics papers and studied for a midterm. Thank the fracking Elder Gods whose names can not be spoken that my "break" is over and I'm back to making progress here.

I woke up extra early, the first day after daylight savings in order to drag my barely awake butt in front of my computer so I could officially register for my summer semester classes. Government, Comp II, and Algebra.

The system crashed right after I logged on.
It should have taken me 1 minute,
it took 53.

I went back to class this morning. Attended the S.I. session for A&P before lecture, just to get the gears turning. The usual mind grease of coffee wasn't working very well, but I survived without lapsing into a coma.

Then I ate lunch, went to the gym, worked out, ran 5K, went back home, showered, crammed for my Med Law and Ethics midterm like a possessed monk, then ate dinner, went back to school, turned in my papers and took the fraking test on which I think I got an A but won't know until next week.

Whew! Now it is time to begin the descent into Microbiology madness as I spend all my free time from now until Wednesday 3pm when I have another mother fraking test in that class. Plus there are pianos to tune, taxes to do...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Once upon a time...

Well, since I'm technically on break from school I thought I would write about my background a little bit.

For approximately 20 years now, I have been a rather serious student of the Japanese martial arts. I hold 3 black belts in separate arts, have trained and taught briefly throughout Japan, dabbled in the esoteric and spiritual aspects a bit, and basically lived my life as a peaceful warrior for many years.

When my wife became pregnant 2 years ago, my training slowed down quite a bit. I ate a lot of the wrong things, drank too much beer, smoked too many cigars, and put on a lot of weight. When I did train it was taxing to say the least. My reduced physical health had a negative impact on my self esteem and my work life. Pretty soon I wasn't training at all and generally felt like crap.

Almost 1 year ago, I made the decision to make some life changes. I was going to start working out hard again, watch what I ate, live a cleaner life stlye, and generally start to take control of my health.

I started working out at a local gym very consistently. I was too embarrassed to go to to the dojo in my condition at the time, so I decided I wanted to lift weights and run. I wanted to concentrate purely on improving my physical health and conditioning. I started studying nutrition and putting my new found knowledge to work. I applied the discipline that martial arts training had honed in me over the years to really working hard and getting into shape.

In the first month I dropped 15 pounds, and was able to run farther and faster than I had in a long time. I started to feel better about myself. At 3 months I was still going strong and was 25 pounds lighter. I was back in the dojo training and teaching, and it was at this point that I decided to not only improve my health, but my mind as well. I had worked hard and made some changes, the truth of the universal law of cause and effect, it was time to apply this principle to another area of my life that I wasn't happy with, my career. That is when I decided to go back to college and pursue a different career path. That is when I decided to pursue my dream of entering into health care, and after a lot of research, into respiratory therapy.

It will be 1 year exactly tomorrow since I started down this new fork in the road. I'm 40 lbs lighter, and have put on quite bit of muscle. Still eating clean and working out almost every day. I've reduced my alcohol consumption by 80%. I quit smoking. I dropped my blood pressure by an average of 25 points. I've also completed 1 and a half more semesters of college with a 4.0 so far.

As rough as things seems lately, if I look how far I've come in the last year, it makes me optimistic about what I potentially see in the future. The law of cause and effect rules, and I'm continuing to work really hard towards my self and life improvement, so karma dictates my just rewards in the end.

Got to go to the gym now :-)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Define: Break

This week has been rough. I had the A&P cardiovascular lecture exam and a microbiology exam on virology the same day. One right after the other. The sheer volume of information on the A&P exam made it pretty hard to review for. The instructor mentioned how this exam covered more material than any other in the curriculum. The micro exam was given by a teacher who is big into the "Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains" which translates as to her exams being relatively difficult as a result of their varying format. Studying for both of these bad boys simultaneously was a biatch.

But I survived. I honestly don't know how well I did. I'm pretty sure that I passed, but I'm certain that I got some answers wrong. I was doing a lot of educated guessing and some of the cursed doubting via over thinking (a perpetual kiss of death and a violation of one of my cardinal rules). But I won't know the results until after break.

Yep, I'm on break. Well from having to go to school anyway (I still have to write two ethics papers, study for a midterm and a test for the week I get back). Meanwhile, the rest of my stressful, uncertain and generally hellish existence persists. Honestly, school is a refuge for me. A place that I can occupy my mind as to not think about how much the rest of my life (except for my wife and kid) sucks (kind of like the gym). It is a place to focus on the future as opposed to my dismal present. Don't get me wrong, I know it could be worse, and it has been in the past. But, after a long time of dealing with this horseshit it just kind of wears on you.

Anyway, since I'm on "break" I have to work more, so I better get going.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'll take "More of the same" for $500 Alex.

I pre-registered for my Summer semester classes yesterday. I'm taking the required algebra class as a full 15 week course, and the required political science and comp courses as back-to-back eight weekers. I also went and turned in the request for summer financial aid to some greasy and uninformed young fellow at the financial aid office - let the nightmare of dealing with those incompetent boobs commence!

After the summer semester I will have 1 class left to take (chemistry) before having completed all of my pre-reqs. Then assuming (dangerously) that I get into the RT program, I'll have 2 semesters of downtime that I have yet to determine what with I'm going to do, one option is to enroll at a 4 year (either University of Detroit Mercy or Sienna Heights University - are where I'm looking at this point) and try to work on my Bachelors. Then again, my wife is pushing this new baby concept...

Anyway, yesterday I had a quiz in medical ethics, I got an A. Then we had a lecture that was given by the lead prosecutor from Oakland county. He was the cat that tried Jack Kevorkian. He mostly talked about the use of forensic science in murder cases that he had tried, including some pretty graphic visual aids. This was followed by a "Jeapordy" style review session for the brutal midterm in a couple of weeks (Oh, and we have two ethics papers due that same day!) after we return from mid-winter break (Yippie!).

Today I am almost exclusively studying for the cardiovascular lecture exam in A&P and the microbiology quiz on viruses, both of which are tomorrow.

I can't wait to belly up to the bar for a beer tomorrow night in order to celebrate the completion of those two tests.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

No pain, no gain (God this hurts sometimes)...

The march continues. This long-ass, dreary, frozen-toed march with hardly an end in sight.

In the martial arts, sometimes you just train through the pain; this is comparable to my mindset (or lack there of) in terms of my schooling at the present moment.

I'm tired and I see no end to this leg of the journey. I have serious financial and work responsibilites and time-draining obligations that just seem insurmountable at times, and yet I need to keep my head down and eyes forward, studying hard so that eventually, at some point in the future, these issues won't be as dire as they seem to be right now.

I took the dreaded cardiovascular lab exam in Human Anatomy last week. I studied like a man possessed. As soon as the instructor walked into the lab, I ran up to him and told him I was ready to take it. He told me to hold on a sec as he wasn't ready to give it. A few minutes later I was the first to take the exam out of my section. I got a perfect score. Yay!

I also found out what I received on last weeks miserable attempt at a Microbiology exam. If you remember, I thought that I had done relatively poorly, especially compared to the amount of studying that I had done. Turns out that my reservations were unfounded as I received 125 out of a possible 125 (if you include the extra-credit). Yay!

But my nose is back to the grindstone. I have a Medical Law and Ethics quiz tomorrow night, then on Wednesday I have the giant "oh-so-huge" physiology companion test to the cardiovascular/lymphatic systems in A&P, and a medium-sized quiz on viruses in microbiology later that night.

So let the studying, the endless repetition, the coffee IV drip, commence.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cursed Bacillus anthracis!

I took my first microbiology exam yesterday. It sucked Botulism balls. I studied really, really hard - and I don't think I was able to get an A. I don't think that anyone short of a PhD in microbiology could have gotten an A. I won't know the results until next week - I hate that.

After the test, I came home and ate a delicious BBQ chicken pizza from Trader Joe's accompanied with a half bottle of Chilean red-wine. Then went to bed early.

Tonight, it is back on board the study train. Whooo whooo!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mona is hilarious...

It's 60 degrees in Detroit today. A new record high temperature for today's date.

I've spent most of the day up to this point studying for tomorrow's exam in microbiology. (Although, right now, I'm waiting in my car a block away from a client's home as I'm a bit too early for our piano tuning appointment.)

Anyway, last night I took my first quiz in Medical Law and Ethics and it was a piece of cake. After the lecture, two students that enrolled in the class late had to catch-up to the rest of us and give their oral "disease reports". The second lady to go was an international student from China, with a pretty brutal accent. Her assigned disease was infectious mononucleosis, which instead of shortening to MONO, she kept saying MONA, over and over. Which because of my studying-induced-sleep-deprived-over-caffieinated-prior-two-days I thought was the funniest thing I had ever heard in my life (In reality it wasn't even remotely funny). I was purple faced and crying because I was trying not to fall out of my chair laughing, which just made it worse, plus I knew it wasn't funny which made the situation all the more absurd and even more funny to me. (I really hope no one noticed that I was dying trying to keep it in, I mean I think I did a good job of hiding it - it was just too ridiculous.)

After she finished (and it seemed like an eternity to me), class was done and I barely made it outside before I completely lost it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's raining in my basement...

So I'm sitting here waiting for the plumber. Whenever the shower is engaged in the bathroom, it begins to rain in the basement.

But the real issue is my schedule. I have a quiz on Monday of next week in A&P, later that day I have my first exam for Medical Law and Ethics, then on the following Wednesday I have what is apparently going to be the apocalypse of all exams in Microbiology, and don't get me started on the next week. All the while I am studying I am going to have to manage to squeeze in my other responsibilities like, trying to tune some pianos to bring in some money, do some shop work in order to shore up those jobs so I can shut down my dead-weight of a shop, try to start the logistic nightmare of shutting down my chain-around-the-throat shop, and of course be a father to my daughter and husband to my wife, oh and lets not forget about trying to maintain some level of ninja athleticism (seems silly but it is the bedrock of my discipline). Although at this point going to the dojo is out of the question, so my training remains confined to the realm of traditional strength and endurance.

I think one of the keys to maintaining a semblance of sanity over the course of the next few weeks is realizing that I can really only concentrate fully on one thing at a time and that worrying about other concerns is just going to rob my concentration of valuable resources.

Breath deep.

Where is the fracking plumber? I need to be out of here to tune a piano across town by noon!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Afternoon update...

Great news! I received the results from last week's A&P exam; 104%! Plus I found out that I got a 100% on this week's "coronary bloodflow" quiz! Yippie!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sometimes you just go with your gut...

I woke up a little bit later than usual this morning, then had to hurry downstairs to wake up the smoochster and get her ready to go to her grandmas for the day. She wanted to sleep in after her Superbowl festivities at her other grandma's the night before, but I got her dressed and out the door with her mom with enough time left over to eat a bowl of oatmeal and stock up on coffee before heading out the door myself.

I attended the morning S.I. session before the A&P lecture, then we had the lecture and a quiz on cardiac blood flow (I think I got an A). About half-way through class I decided that after the class was over I was going to randomly, without preparation, walk into the ASC and take the dreaded math placement exam.

To truly appreciate the gravity of this move you must understand that I've been worried about taking this thing since I made decision to go back to school almost a year ago. I spent a lot of time brushing up on my algebra skills over the summer as to be able to pass the exam with a high enough score to get into the class that I require the credits from to satisfy my prereq's. But when the semester started last fall, I stopped all preparations in order to concentrate on the work that was coming from my enrolled classes. Anyway, I marched in there and took the test... totally on a whim... and I passed with a score higher than I needed. Hooray!

After that I went and ate a celebratory lunch, then headed to the gym and got a good work out in, before returning home for a quick dinner then back to school for Med. Law and Ethics. During the lecture break I made some business calls and booked three tuning appointments.

Today was pretty productive.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blizzards, beef hearts, and band uniforms...

I woke up early with a cold this morning. It sucks. I've been popping Dayquil and Zicam all day. I then helped my wife get my daughter ready for daycare and got them out the door. I then downed some coffee and headed for school. It was snowing quite a bit, and a drive that normally takes me 19 minutes took me a frustrating 45.

I get to my A&P lecture about 15 minutes late. I tried to pay as much attention to the lecture as possible but as my first exam for the semester was in the lab after the class, it wasn't easy.

After the lecture I took the exam, it was on blood. I think I did pretty well, I mean I know I passed - I just hope I got an A. I spent a lot of time studying and would be pretty disappointed if I didn't.

After the test we had the lab on heart anatomy. We played with models and I walked my table through the humongous heart model explaining it the best that I could, they were quite appreciative. I then dissected a preserved cow heart as my lab partners watched. It was deformed and weird, not really easy to identify the structures at all, but it was still pretty cool.

After lab I grabbed some quick lunch at one of my favorite restaurants on that side of town then headed back to the campus for Micro.

I walked into class, headed up to the front and collected the corrected assignment from last week. I turned around, and it took every once of willpower to not fall over laughing. There in front of me was one of my Micro class members, a middle aged, short, pudgy lady, wearing what appeared to be a full-on, bright blue, gold embroidered, military-style, marching band uniform. Everything except for the hat. It was one of the most absurd sights I've seen at the college and I was completely confused and caught off guard. I badly wanted to ask her where her tuba was...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Drip, drip, drip...

A great martial arts master once said, or was it a fortune cookie from Wing-on Chinese Palace? Umm... well, one of them said..."Many raindrops break stone." So one more day down, another day closer to my goal.

I had A&P this morning. New lecture topic. My test on the last section (Blood) isn't until Wednesday, I've been studying for it quite a bit.

"Curse you gazillions of numerical blood statistics!" the Tengu shouted as he shook his fist angrily at the darkened and cloud obscured heavens.

Today we started the heart and blood flow. I was excited to find out that we get to dissect a beef heart! SUPER KEWL!

I enjoyed the lecture, stayed for the SI session which I dominated, then went home for lunch. After lunch, I hit the gym, worked out like a good mountain demon, went home, took a shower, ate dinner, then back to school for Med Law & Ethics.

The lecture was O.K., but I tried to stay as involved in class discussions as possible which seems to help the time go by faster. I think the beta-alanine/caffeine stack I take before lifting weights makes me more talkative than usual. I ended up getting quite a few laughs out of the teacher, and basically kept the class mildly entertained with my "insightful banter". Everyone had to give a short presentation on a disease we were assigned at the last class, I gave mine on glaucoma. It went fine. We also divided up into groups to do our 2 bigger projects that are due later in the semester, my group seems cognizant enough.

Drove home in the slippery snow. Man, I got a lot of reading to do... but not tonight, I'm done for tonight.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A new day of school with a new president in the oval office...

Today I woke up extra early and went to the pre-lecture supplemental instruction session for my AP class. I had really hoped that were going to have a quiz once lecture started as I had stayed up studying (memorizing blood values) pretty late the night before. No quiz was administered... but I found out that I didn't do nearly as bad as I had believed on the prior weeks quiz. Yippie!

After class there was no lab today (Yeah! Thanks MLK!!!) as it would have put us ahead of the Monday lab section. So instead I attended the post-lecture S.I. session which was basically a review for next week's exam.

Came home, ate lunch, restocked my coffee tumbler, then back to school for Micro.

Micro was great. For a 3 hour lecture it seems to go by pretty quick. There was a group activity at the end. We had to read a case study and then do a worksheet pertaining to it. I ended up basically taking over the group and patiently dictating all the answers, until I just took the paper and filled it out as I was losing my patience in trying to explain to my relatively intellectually plebeian group members my logic. Nothing against them, they seemed nice, I think they were all just tired, or suffering from CO poisoning, or something. They all commented how lucky they were to have me in their group for the semester because I was so "analytical". I tried to explain that from my understanding the groups weren't permanent, but they didn't want to listen, or maybe their carbon monoxide poisoning was really kicking in...

Anyway, I survived another day. But really I like going to school, it gives me hope that someday I won't need to involuntarily participate in my current vocation - like I must tomorrow. I love pianos and all, but owning and operating a business in my opinion just plain sucks. It is a 24/7, all consuming activity. There are good points, but I'm just burned out from it. I can't wait to be able to put on scrubs and help people breathe, earn a livable wage in the process, and then go home at the end of the day. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Did you get here in a covered wagon?

It is going to be a long, hard semester my friends. Yesterday. School all day 9am-6pm, and it was ridiculously, bone-chillingly cold outside. I had my first quiz in AP2. It didn't go very well I'm afraid. The format was quite surprising, and unlike the AP instructor I had last semester who got all of his test questions from the textbook, this cat apparently takes them all from his lecture notes, spelling counts, fill in the blank. But hey, no one said it was going to be a picnic. Now that I have a better idea of what this guy is looking for I am certain I will do better next time, or at least do my best. I'm thinking of planning on attending the S.I sessions that start an hour before lecture just to make every effort.

I had my lab after lecture, the guy continued to lecture in lab for another hour, before we got to do some neat activities with blood. One of the girls in my lab group was having a bit of difficulty with some of the activities. She is a skinny, younger blond girl that says she is in her last semester before transferring to a bigger university to pursue a degree in mortuary science. I told her that she could use the CD that the instructor gave us that had pictures of the all the lab models to study, she said she didn't have a computer. Then another woman in our group told her to use her cell-phone to take some snapshots, the blonde proceeded to pull out her cell-phone which didn't have a camera on it because it was a huge "Zack Morris" late 90's model. The other group member said she would email her the model pics, upon which Blondie reminded her that she didn't have a computer.

The whole time I'm staring at her in disbelief that she had been enrolled in college this long without a computer, and then asked her if she was Amish. She apparently is not.

After a short break I had my first Microbiology lecture... it was a barrell of monkeys... teeming with protozoa and helminth larvae.

Monday, January 12, 2009

And so it begins again...

Well, the first day of the semester is over. It was a rough one. Mostly because I've barely slept over the past 72 hours as I've been slaving (almost non-stop for the past 12 days) over the final restoration on a 1916 Mason & Hamlin grand piano that is supposed to be delivered from my shop back to it's owner tomorrow (if there isn't a blizzard!)

This morning I trudged out into the freezing, bitter, cold to attend my first A&P II lecture. It was cool, the teacher seems very organized, knows what he is talking about and got right down to business. About 60 people in the class as of now, we'll see how many there are 4 weeks from now. The people in this class seem a bit more competitive than in A&P I. No matter, I will assert my ninjaesque intellectual dominance. :-P

After lunch I went to the shop for a few hours to work on that piano some more, then went back to school for round 2 after stopping for dinner.

Medical Law and Ethics was seriously no joke. That lady is not kidding around. I was kind of hoping it would be a little lighter of a work load than it appears it is going to be. Several presentations and written papers are assigned throughout the course. Everybody in the class seems pretty focused. Maybe 35 people all together, about 5 of them are Pre-PA students, 5 are RT, the balance are Surg Tech and Nursing students and couple Sonography/misc. After the instructor explained the syllabus and assigned a mini-presentation due the next class, she showed a relatively brutal video recorded back in the mid-70's about a guy who had received 3rd degree burns over 68% of his body and subsequently wanted to die, but it was before a patient had the right to refuse treatment and they kept him alive in horrible agony against his wishes. Just what I needed to wind down after a hard day at school and work. ;-)