Kreativ Blogger Award

Franny and Zooey

Back on March 22nd, Julia from The Writing Aficionado was nominated, and in turn nominated me, for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Julia is an incredible writer, and I am flattered that she would give my meager blog a read, let alone an award. Thanks Julia! Stop by her blog for great poetry, short stories, writing about writing, and great conversation in the comments. She posts consistently and everything is quality.

The rules to follow when you’ve been nominated for this award appear to be the same as for nearly every other blogging award I’ve seen on WordPress: disclose 7 random or little-known facts about yourself and nominate 7 other bloggers for the award.

  1. My favorite literary character is Zooey from Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. Perhaps my second favorite is Teddy from Nine Stories. Holden Caufield, on the other hand, is a bit of a turd.
  2. As a kid I was a prodigious climber, scaling trees, kitchen cabinets, brick walls–anything vertical. When I was 5 I started purposely jumping down from high places (20′ or higher) just to see if I would get hurt. I’ve never broken a bone but I did get a concussion by the time I was 6. That, however, was due to a football game at recess and had nothing to do with climbing.
  3. Unlike Julia, who nominated me, I’m not afraid of dogs. I have two of them and they are the sweetest animals you’ll ever meet. I adopted Jersey when she was 2.5 years old after her original owner passed away. Before I was married she used to sleep in my bed with me. Brisco came from a humane society in southern Indiana that was going to have to put him to sleep because absolutely no one down there would adopt him. A lady who worked with that humane society and happened to know me emailed and asked me if I was interested in giving him a chance in my home. He was a disaster at first. He was barely a year old when we got him but had obviously been abused; he was terrified of everything. He still acts somewhat brooding, but he’s coming around.
  4. I’ve been on some gruesome surgical cases–amputations, skin grafts, and large-scale bypass procedures–and I’ve never flinched or felt nauseous or anything of the sort. One time when my wife was dicing vegetables, she cut off a chunk of skin from her little finger and I completely lost my composure. It was a small injury but she was bleeding a lot, not to mention she was obviously in pain. I couldn’t act like a human being for the next 2 hours. I gained a much better appreciation for the rules about physicians (not) operating on their relatives.
  5. I have a bizarre sweet tooth. I love chocolate chip cookies and brownies but I don’t like cake, cupcakes, or pie. I loathe hard candy, except for wintergreen Lifesavers. I love the bitter flavors of unnecessarily strong coffee and very dark chocolate.
  6. I love teaching, tutoring, and coaching swimming.
  7. I love working on cars, or more accurately, trucks. Not anything cool like restorations or custom mods…just basic repairs that would otherwise be an opportunity for a dealership or mechanic to ravage you. When I replaced the ball joints in my previous truck it cost me ~$150 and 8ish hours of my time, but I enjoyed doing it. The most reasonable mechanic in my area quoted me ~$500 for the job.

I’m only going to “nominate” 6  different blogs, because I can’t renominate Julia or Robbie Cowell, whom she already nominated, and I just don’t follow that many blogs. I do enjoy and recommend the following. They all inspire me in one way or another, with humor, great content, great design, great conversation with the authors, or some combination of all that.

  1. Inspire; to breathe – a great blog by a girl named Suzanne. Her creativity amazes me and so does her courage.
  2. Mae East by Shannon Hadley – “an aspiring writer, with a passion for history, humor and authenticity.” Some cool photography too.
  3. The chronicles of a skinny jeans wearing Toronto girl – I found Karen’s blog when it was featured on Freshly Pressed. She’s pretty damn funny and has some mad Paint skills that she utilizes in to illustrate some of her chronicles.
  4. Writer on the Prowl – Good writing + humor
  5. Connie’s Blog – Good writing about health and other things.
  6. Two Ells – The personal blog of WordPress employee Daryl L. L. Houston. Every now and then he hits you with some thought-provoking stuff, like this post about the app/game DrawSomething and the not-so-great company that bought the app from the original developer.

That’s it. Happy reading! Thanks again for the nomination.

kreativ blogger award

Kreativ Blogger Award


Updates and changes

Hello wonderful readers.

I wanted to let you know that I will be revamping this blog a bit in the coming week. My blog has what some would call schizophrenia when they mean to say “multiple personalities” or dissociative identity disorder. To be fair, schizophrenia is a break from reality that makes it difficult to think logically or behave “normally” in social situations, and my blog also has that.

My blog also likes to use “unnecessary” quotation marks. My blog is so clever.

Anyway, there will be some reorganization (or merely a start to any kind of organization at all), perhaps some design changes (that is to say, some initial thought toward using any design at all, rather than haphazard use of whatever available theme), and I will be rolling out one or two new sites in the coming months to parse content into more meaningful/useful/relevant categories. Right now it’s all over the place, which is an accurate reflection of the author, but I think it would be best for everyone if it were more focused and readers could easily find the content that interests them without fishing through the content that interests someone else.

What will be the fate of medzealot? Feel free to comment or email me with your suggestions. So far, the best-liked content on this site has been humor, creative writing, personal details, and my ideas on how to not suck as a person. Aside from the funny med school interview stories, the med/premed content hasn’t garnered a lot of views, and I don’t plan on writing much more of that so it will be sanctioned out of the blog and into a static page where it can build its own readership without getting in the way. I think this blog will chronicle the rest of my education with intermittent reflection on my upbringing, providing a space for me to share stories, brain dump, comment on various phenomenon I encounter along the way, and hopefully host a discussion or two among readers. This may involve a name change or it may not; I will keep you all posted, especially if the URL changes. In fact, I may poll you or email some of you individually for your opinions if you don’t just offer them up freely 😉

I am creating a 2nd blog to focus on education in general: how to teach and learn, how the human mind works and how to leverage it, and updates on relevant research regarding education, learning, improving memory, teaching methodologies, and other more objective topics, sans personal overtone.

Thank you all for reading, and thank you for bearing with me through the changes.

Awesome writing I found today. Check out the author’s blog to see this in its original format; reblogging it removed the paragraph breaks.

Medicine for Money Part 2: How much is $200K/year?

In Part 1 of this series, How much do doctors make?, we saw a wide variety of figures. A career in medicine neither guarantees nor limits you to an income of $200,000 per year, so we’re going to work with that figure as it’s neither excessive nor out of reach.

How much is $200K/year? The short answer is $8000 a month, for a doctor with sizable student loans.

The average debt for graduates of medical school is reported to be between $150,000 and $200,000, depending on the source. Many recent graduates cite much higher numbers, so again, this is a somewhat worthless approximation.

But, if you had education loans of $200,000 paid on a 20-year repayment plan, your monthly payment would be in the neighborhood of $1520 (…anpayments.cgi). Assuming a debt of $250K, your monthly payment would be around $1900 (…anpayments.cgi). Hilariously enough, that calculator says:

It is estimated that you will need an annual salary of at least $229,002.00 to be able to afford to repay this loan. This estimate assumes that 10% of your gross monthly income will be devoted to repaying your student loans. This corresponds to a debt-to-income ratio of 1.1. If you use 15% of your gross monthly income to repay the loan, you will need an annual salary of only $152,668.00, but you may experience some financial difficulty.

If your debt is $300K, it suggests you need a salary of $275K to comfortably make payments over 20 years. Let’s just call the monthly payment amount $1600 for a debt amount close to $200K. If you wanted to pay it off in 10 years, you would have to pay $2300 per month.

Assuming you want to save the most you can for retirement, you’ll max out your 401K by putting in $16,500 of your pretax income each year. This will lower your taxable income in this hypothetical from $200K down to $183,500. If you maxed out an IRA each year it would be another $5,000 per year. If you owned your own practice (or another business) there could be different contribution limits and tax implications; we won’t go there in this hypothetical.

Your new pre-tax income is $183,500. The marginal tax bracket for federal income tax on that amount ranges from 18% – 25% depending on whether you file independently or with a spouse ( Well call it 21% for the sake of easy calculations. Tax burden varies by state, but the average is just under 9% (…fo/09STUDY.pdf), so we’re at a total tax rate of 30%.

0.3 * 183,500 = $55,050 paid in taxes. You’d be left with $128,450, but keep in mind you’ve already put $16K away for retirement.

This comes out to $10,704 per month. If you decided to max out a Roth IRA (instead of the traditional IRA that I mentioned above, but did not include in any calculations) that would require another $417 per month, leaving you with $10,287 per month.

Take out the loan payment of $1600 discussed above, and you have $8687 per month. For the 10-year repayment plan, taking out $2300 drops you down to $7987 per month. Your mileage may vary tremendously here, depending on your regional cost of living and the lifestyle choices you make.

Just for example, if you tried to buy a million-dollar home, with a 30-year mortgage at 5.5%, your monthly payment would be around $5978, leaving you with $2009 per month to pay for cars, gas, groceries, utilities, “saving for your kids’ education,” and whatever other expenses you have. Take the same mortgage terms on a $500,000 house and your payment is about $3000 per month depending on property taxes and home insurance (…alculator.aspx). That could afford you a very comfortable house in many parts of the country, but I wouldn’t expect it to go far in NYC. Either way, you are left with about $5000 per month.

Assuming you’re willing to put $1000 per month toward a car or cars for you and your family (leaving you with $4000/month), you could afford $56,000 worth of vehicle (…nt=120&pmt=290). This could be one fairly nice car, 2 x $23,000 cars, or any other combination. If you’re willing to put $2000/month toward cars (leaving you with $3000/month for everything else), you could afford $108K worth of car. You could also put that extra money into a larger mortgage, so this is well past the point where the breakdown becomes highly individualized.

Basically, making $200K per year with a debt burden of about $200K, after maxing your retirement contributions and making the minimum monthly payment on your loans, you would be left with around $8,000 per month for mortgage/rent and living expenses, investment, or to otherwise allocate as you please. As has already been mentioned, you can live comfortably but this won’t afford you a lavish lifestyle of vacation homes and Lamborghinis.

My narcissism is bipolar

What the hell is blogging, anyway? I mean aside from the obvious cases where people are either talented writers, have something useful to say, are hilarious, or some combination of all three.

What about the other 99.9% of us who brazenly post the written equivalent of our verbal diarrhea on the interweb? What are we doing? What are we thinking?

Jeffrey Parks wrote an excellent post about this, especially relevant to medical, or medicalish, blogs that talk about patient encounters. For a minute he looked like he was going to throw in the towel on his blog. When it was Jeff (who didn’t, and still doesn’t, know me), I was sitting there thinking, “damnit man! You can’t stop writing!” I sent him an email saying “I understand how you’re feeling (and basically, you’d be a major turd if you didn’t feel this way), but you probably shouldn’t stop writing. Your blog is great, people love it, and you’re getting new readers every day. Unless you’re at a point where you’re going to start producing lousy, uninspired content, you should keep writing.”

They guy even wrote me back, thanking me for my “well-honed thoughts.” A truly awesome blogger. But what about the rest of us? What about the people who write about every boring thing they do on a given day as if the whole world were starving for their opinions and melodrama? Should we keep writing? God, why would we?

I started this blog thinking I had something to say that people might enjoy reading. That was arrogant.

I stayed away from this blog for months, thinking I should give up writing because how could I ever have anything to say that would be worth reading? That was insecure.

Insecurity and arrogance are both forms of narcissism. Blog for your ego, avoid blogging for your ego…you’d think you end up at the same place at the end of the day. But you don’t.

For one thing, people read this stuff. Whoever you are reading this, thanks for stopping by! I don’t know who you are, but you show up in my stats panel. And I genuinely appreciate your taking the time to read this drivel, whether you think it’s good or you think it’s crap. If you ever feel inclined to say something, please comment. It makes the blogging experience better for me, you, and other readers.

Secondly, inaction, or some emotional/paralytic avoidance of action, has completely different results than action, even if the motives for both behaviors are essentially the same. I could avoid blogging to preserve my ego, or blog in an attempt to feed my ego. Action takes courage, and cultivating courage is a good thing.

If you’ve thought about blogging, just do it. It doesn’t matter what you write (your best posts according to readers won’t be what you expected anyway). It doesn’t have to be perfect (and it won’t be). All it takes is a little chutzpah. Write for yourself. Develop a healthy indifference to what your potential critics might say. Come to terms with the inevitable: some of your writing will be crap.

Some of it could be good, but you’ll never know if you don’t write anything. The only thing you learn by not writing is that you didn’t have the balls. At least, that’s what I learned. And then I hit blog puberty.

People like funny medical school interview stories

A few days ago one of my friends was struck with the ambition to revamp his blog. He listed me on his blogroll and I had a sudden bump in traffic. I wouldn’t even have noticed this, but someone commented on one of my posts and I had to log in to moderate it. My first legitimate comment (w00t!).

I haven’t updated this blog in months, for many reasons. For one thing, I certainly haven’t found my niche as a blogger (or any kind of writer, for that matter). I struggle believing that what I have to say should be important enough to be read by others. And for some reason I let myself think that that matters. I let myself think it would not be good if I produced gallons of content and not a single soul visited the site. Who cares?

For some reason I have. I have let myself believe three things about blogging that aren’t true.

  1. If I write, and others don’t read it (or worse yet, read it and dislike it…gasp!), it will be solid evidence that I am a failure at life.
  2. Blogging is for narcissistic assholes (this is largely, although not completely, true). I am not a narcissistic asshole (this is completely false). Ergo, I should not have the audacity to blog. The truth is, I don’t want to be, or perhaps more accurately, I don’t want to appear to be, narcissistic. But if I’m wasting thought pondering whether or not others will think I’m arrogant and self-aggrandizing, I’m proving them right without striking a single key. So again, who cares? Would I rather feed my insecurity or my egomania?
  3. Blogging ought to be productive. It ought to provide something other than catharsis and a creative outlet for the author.

I have more to say about this, which I’ll write in my next post. The point of this post is, I had some aspirations when I started this blog which are now long gone. I originally slapped some content up here that I hoped would be useful to others, which wasn’t inspiring or useful to me, so I temporarily abandoned the project. Outside events brought others and myself to this blog over the past few days. I took a look at my stats and saw that people have indeed been visiting over the past months, even though I hadn’t been writing. You want to know what brought them here? Searching for lolz. Not me…not even anything I wrote myself.

Check out the web searches that generated the most page views on my blog over the past month. See if you can detect the pattern.

funny medical student stories 10
med school interview stories 10
funny medical school interview 8
school interview stories 7
medical school interview stories 6
funny medical school stories 6
med school interviews stories 3
medical school funny stories 3
medical school interview story 3
funny medical school interviews 3
funny med school interview 3
funniest medical school interview 3
the wrong reasons to become a doctor 3
funny med school interviews 3
funny med school stories 3
good reasons to become a doctor 2
funny med school interview questions 2
good reasons to choose doctor as a career 2
funny medical interview questions 2
philosophical medical school personal statement 2
horrible med school interview stories 2
funny medical school essay 2
funny medical student interviews 2
wrong reasons to become a doctor 2
becoming a doctor for the wrong reasons