Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Automating My Internship

robots in disguise?

My internship this summer is at NYU medical school, much to my amusement. My mandatory ID, bright purple and official-like, basically identifies me as a med student, which is just the most untrue thing it could say. I doodled and cell-phone-gamed my way to a B- in high school bio and never looked back.

The job itself is slightly more appropriate, as I'm with the psychology department. Psych is something I'm majoring in and enjoy and all that good stuff. But damn, is this job boring. Here is a summary of my weekly activities:

  • Lit Reviews: compile a spreadsheet that's basically the abstracts of a bunch of articles (which I found myself on the Ovid databses) on various traumatic brain injury-related topics;

  • Labelling: Go through testing archives, use sharpie to hide everyone's name, and then cover it with a cheapo printed label with their secret ID number;

  • Filing: like the lit reviews, but instead of PDFs and computer searching, I have to comb through a backlog of physical journals dating back to before I was born;

  • Observation: quietly sitting in the back of a room while patients individually, silently do worksheets designed to improve cognitive function;

  • Photocopying: eponymous.

Now, let's go through how I could automate this with just a little programming skill and some moxie:
  • Lit Reviews:
    • First, have a bot of some sort do the ovid search.
    • Then, have it download each PDF (this is a one-click downlaod situation.)
    • Then, using something akin to Mac OSX summarize or MS Word autosummarize, get the data out of each PDF.

  • Labelling: Use the super-secret code name from the beginning on all documents. If the patient mistakenly writes his/her/hir own name, cover it up that day. More ad hoc, but less time overall.

  • Filing: this just shouldn't be a job, period. I understand my boss is busy, but it might behoove someone who collects a lot of physical media like scholarly journals to file upon completion.
    • Alternately, journals should take to publishing ONLY by e-mailed PDFs, so that people would print out the articles relevant to them and ignore the rest. This would save the world paper and me a lot of time.

  • Observation: I actually like this okay, but the ratio of learning-about-patients to sitting-around-bored is kind of all whacked out, and thus this is sort of not worthwhile. Some sort of multimedia case-study system might be more relevant (video interviews, test results, comparison charts, whatever.)
    • By the way, people who write scholarly case studies should really make an effort to make them interesting. I'd love to get a New Yorker profilist in here with our tape recordings and a textbook.

  • Photocopying: Okay, this one's a little too people-powered. Robot arms, maybe?

So, there you go. Clearly, I'm not necessary here and should be spending the summer frolicking through parks and writing epic novels about lesbians. It's okay; I'll show myself out.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

I'll bite, Violent Acres Catchphrase Contest...

"Acre? I barely even know 're!"

Monday, March 26, 2007

Actually, totally lied last post.

read this.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Honestly, I can't think this much. I can't even think enough to make a TumbleLog.

If you really must see my zeitgeist, however, here are some articles I read.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

An Open Letter to A Man With Dreadlocks


Dear Justin,

I am writing this note to you via blog because I am in a different state than where I met you. Also, I'm sort of ashamed to go back in there. You are very unlikely to read this.

Anyway, I'd like to thank you. Not only for catching me, or for being less than a third as sketchy as you looked, but for, well, doing your job. It hurt, a little, of course. And it's not like you did anything special, far as I could tell. It was totally routine for you.

But it means a lot to me. You were there for me when I finally took advantage of the teenaged free pass to do things both entirely out of character and relatively permanent, at the tender almost-adult age of 19.

I know y'all probably thought I was drunk, what with it being 3 in the morning and my subsequent fainting spell, but I was totally sober (unless you count the natural high of song and dance), and had given this quite a bit of thought. Ever since I discovered the concept, I'd randomly touch my right ear while walking down the street, or in class, or on an airplane (whereupon I would almost knock over the soda of the Asian fellow next to me, with elbow room being the way it is in economy class).

I guess I knew that if it ever happened, it would have to be both impulsively and alone. I mean, it's not really impulsive if you think, at 11 pm, "I should do this after the movie!", keep it in the back of your mind for four hours, and then do it. But four hours without the internet to procrastinate me is like four weeks in real time, or something. And as for alone... well, I mean, look at me, then look at the gaggle of 22-year-olds getting matching Celtic knots in the other room. Can you spot the differences in this picture?

What I really intended to say, and I haven't said yet, is that I totally love it. It feels so cool. It reminds me that I am independent and can do stuff without my mom (in both the "whee I'm a grown up" and the "watch out you're gonna fuck it all up" ways, which is perfect). I barely feel it, except sometimes when the collar of my coat or the back of my pillow brushes against it, and I get a small rush of "gosh I'm groovy." I clean it twice a day--it's like a pet, what with teaching me responsibility, but it can't hide under my bed. Also, I think it makes me look older, which is crucial when you're almost 20 and you look about 12. (Y'all didn't card the damn drunk B&Ters. Just saying.)

Anyway, I've totally drifted into stuff you wouldn't care about reading. Also, you're likely on drugs, so you don't have the best attention span, so I should wrap it up. The point is: Thank you. I'd tip you more, if I dared go back down there.

That Girl With Small Ears Who Totally Passed Out

(*) The picture, taken with my built in iSight camera, is reversed. It is on the right.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Best. Paragraph. Ever.

One other, very very subtle point is related to God’s workflow. It seems illogical, in a sense, to create trees (the third day) before one has created the sun (the fourth). It is thus funny to imagine God finishing up his forest and then realizing that there’s something missing to make it actually work. Omniscient Gods should not need the expression “hindsight is 20/20."

-Me. who the hell else would dare?

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

That's What I Want (Money)

So, in my effort to procrastinate from finals, I somehow managed to Become Famous.

Seriously, though, I wrote a quickie "guest post" for a blog called Adult ADD and Money, because I am almost an adult and I was thinking a lot about money last night.

So, go read that! And anyone who came here after reading that, any advice? And enjoy being here.

p.s. see how I reversed the order and parentheticals on the Beatles song? Gosh, I'm clever.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Clearly, not Getting anyThing Done

Last day of classes for my third fucking whole semester of college! I have a ten page paper, a 5 page paper, and two major exams. And yet, I am not working on those. I am not cleaning my filthy, filthy room. I am blogging! Woot!

Today's topic is: productivity. (ha!)

I am an avid reader of lifehacker, for no particular reason. It's not that useful to me--a lot of DYI stuff I can't use, a lot of windows stuff I can't use, a lot of grown-up stuff I can't use. But clearly, it has taugt me a lot. Under the tutelage of this website I occasionally read, I have implemented a whole mess of tools that admittedly make my life easier, though I use that ease for less-than-productive means. Here are some things that changed my life:

  • Quicksilver: This mofo is so useful that I keep a copy on a flash drive and install it on every single lab computer I visit, which is a lot, as I work in the labs and try to procrastinate less by going to the labs. I don't even know why I love it so much. I just... I mean, google it. there's some eloquent lovefests out there.OS X only, suckas

  • Google Calendar: Look, everyone on the planet could use a calendar system, because it's useful to see chunks of time laid out like that, and it's a place to write down things like "review session" and "doctor's appointment" and "class." Google's is the prettiest. Also: synced with Quicksilver. God, computers are cool.

  • Firefox: The thing has extensions! You can basically customize it to your every whim! I mean, what more do you need in teh internets?

  • Ta-da Lists: Free online todolists in the hizzy. Here is example of my current todo list. Also, I have been using the associated Dashboard Widget. That part is OS X Only, suckas, but the rest is internetz.

  • The concept of "Getting Things Done": So, GTD is one of those guru-esque self-help books that spawns a marketing empire, but the concept is simple and easy to find on free websites like 43 Folders: Categorize stuff. Make folders for your e-mail, one for things to work on soon, one for things you'll need way in the future, and one for things to work on somewhere between those times (and then, anything immediate, you do and then delete). Break up tasks into lots of smaller tasks, and then treat the next tiny task as a "next action" and do it, well, next. Keep a physical "inbox" of papers to which you need to see. It all makes a lot of sense. The internet has like five bug-gillion tools and AppleScripts and freeware and shareware and tips and tricks and egg-timers, but each person can sort of implement their own system. Which, I guess, is what I'm doing.

That's probably not the only things I use, but that encompasses pretty much everything I've used today (including the egg-timer). Now, I can totally check off "blog this list," and then I think I'll do a time-based dash and clean as much of my floor as I can before 9:00. Maybe I'll even find my missing glove!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Here is my schedule for next year, as it stands:

.MW. 11:00AM-12:20PM; RELI 489 - Black Religious and Urban History: Migration and Transformation
.MW. 01:10PM-02:30PM; RELI 284 - Magic and Religion in Latin America
.MW. 02:40PM-04:00PM; PSYC 213 - Research Methods in Social Psychology
.TR. 10:30AM-11:50AM; PSYC 268 - Organizational Psychology.

Hopefully, possibly, I'll drop 489 and 268 to take Psychopathology and the Philosophy of Religion, but honestly, I'm pretty happy with this. Nothing before 10:30, nothing after Thursday at noon (that means no Friday)... this is damn near a perfect schedule, actually. Maybe I won't change. I should talk to my advisor. Or my mother.

p.s. RAWK


Monday, November 27, 2006

Wherein I Dorkily Attempt To Join A Subculture I Oughtn't

So, because sometimes I get into subculture blogs and read them compulsively, I've lately been browsing the archives of Body Modification blogs (often NSFW). Now, the whole "suspension" thing seems painful and humiliating and potentially permanently damaging, and scarification sounds needlessly crass, and why the HELL would you put metal in your vagina, but tattoos, unfortunately, can be pretty. Thus, I present to you, a list of tattoos I would get if I were so inclined:

*A strand of DNA (as pictured, but prettier) with the words Arthur, Elaine, Charles, Evelyn, Peter, Robin, and Elisa written on various nucleotides, because they're my closest genetic relatives. I guess I'd leave room for any future biokids, too. This would go across my lower back.

*A potrait of my teddy bear, Oggie(1), in my underarm, because that's where he sleeps.

*the Cheerios Logo, I don't know where.

*The electromagnetic visible spectrum, as it is both a rainbow for gayness and pretty for fun! Maybe somewhere on my back.

*The Hebrew word Yehudi (יהודי), because it is the etmylogic root of the word "Jewish" but, in many biblical texts, carries more of a sense of ethnic identity than of religious, which is what I am: an ethnic Jew. On my arm like a holocaust survivor? Or would that be crass? If so, then maybe on my wrist, so I could hide it under a watch.

*My surname (Shapiro), maybe in a foreign alphabet (Hebrew and Japanese are pretty), on the back of my neck.

*The (regular) alphabet, as an armband tattoo.

*Some sort of Significant Quote on my upper back. (I tried to think of one, but I all I came up with was "Very like a whale" from Hamlet, and why permanently mark myself as fat?)

So, what did this exercise prove? Nothing, except 1) I'm a nerd and 2) I probably shouldn't get a tattoo.

(1) Jesus H. Christ, my sister literally took 100 pictures of herself with my iSight camera in the like 3 days I was home for turkey. Also 15 of the cat. Do you have any idea how tedious it is to delete 100 photos of my sister making a "thug" sign with her hands? (I saved a few good ones.) Someone (mom and dad) better get her a digicam soon.
Oh, and that so wasn't the point of the footnote. The POINT was to say: No, my teddy bear does not wear a yarmulke. It used to be a Yankees cap, but the brim came off and only half the N of the logo is left. He also used to wear the pinstriped shirt. His name is Oggie like Yogi Berra, as pronounced by an infant.

In related news: I <3 my family, and wish I wasn't allergic to my apartment (and Frankie's!) so I could actually look forward to going back home.

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