Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Viva Las Vegas

Sin City 2007
The Metabolism and Nutrition midterm last Thursday was more difficult than previous exams because it involved a microscope histology/radiology/gross pathology component AND an anatomy lab practical. That translates into a written multiple choice exam from 8-12 p.m., identifying anatomy in cadavers in the lab from 1:30-2 p.m., and looking at slides/pictures of films/preserved specimens from 2-3 p.m. Although it was definitely more challenging, the exam was also more enjoyable because it tested our knowledge in different ways.
It wasn't all strawberry fields, though, here were some of the thoughts running through my head during the anatomy/histology practicals:
"Gee, I wonder what that thing is...the lesser omentum?" [Doh, the pancreas]
"I have no idea what this slide is showing...I'm going to just guess it's cancer."
"Uh, cancer?"
"Oh, God, is that a kidney?!"
After the exam, I went to visit my PedPALS mentee at the bone marrow transplant unit, went running/exploring in Golden Gate Park, grabbed some pearl milk tea with Paul and Albert (two of the nicest people ever), and then ran home to shower and see my mentee again before grabbing dinner at Crepes on Cole for an informal birthday celebration. Cake was eaten at Albert's, but the highlight was watching a YouTube clip of the Japanese hot dog champion competing against a live Alaskan Grizzly bear in a hot dog eating contest. The bear won, regrettably, without even trying very hard. Dropped by another friend's birthday get-together, hung out at BarNone in the Marina for a little less than an hour, and then went home to fall into a deep coma.
Last Friday, I flew to Las Vegas for a little reunion with my college friends (H translation: blockmates) and much fun was had by all. Our days were dominated by sinfully rich food (in both senses of the word...24-hour Korean BBQ, dinner at Spago's and brunch at the Wynn), searching for caged animals (flamingos at the Flamingo, MGM lions, Mirage tigers, Mandalay Bay Sharks), and a smattering of art (Ansel Adam's exhibit at the Bellagio, a failed attempt to see the mini Guggenheim at the Venetian, and the Cirque de Soleil show LOVE starring Beatles music at the Mirage). Our nights were dominated by caffeine and nightclubs (Jet, TAO, Pure).
Las Vegas is a unique American city...a town (the Strip) characterized by escapist excess and sensory overload....shameless consumerism and entertaining artifice. Built upon the foundations of the seven deadly sins (gluttony, greed, vanity, sloth, wrath, envy, lust); it's a curious mix of the finest material trappings that money can offer and the seediest places on earth coexisting side by side. As a fascinating mix of highs and lows, Las Vegas is a shape-shifter that has built its name upon replicating genuine articles and places to create a parallel universe -- a playground for adults. Nothing in Vegas (the Strip) is mundane or natural...but the very nature of its brazen artificiality enraptures any visitor. It is a self-absorbed microcosm that can be anything and everything except itself, a chameleon of a city ever-changing.
My friend Kim observed that Las Vegas is full of mirrors...I suggested that mirrors are shiny and attractive, suggestive of wealth and opulence, and able to give the illusion of infinity and amplified space. Kim suggested that mirrors allow vain people to look at themselves. But maybe the mirrors are there for both reasons; mirrors would be an apt symbol for Las Vegas. Secondly, there are no clocks in Las Vegas...especially in the casinos where the house intentionally obscures the time of day to encourage people to lose track of time...I think maybe clocks represent an intrusive reality in an otherwise self-absorbed fantasy world.
Sorry for the reflective post. Now I am back at UCSF and we are focusing on endocrinology, which will be a lot of fun once I start studying.

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