Hello, Internet. Have you missed me? I recently went on a two week trip to Taiwan and Shanghai, China. Rather than doing my usual trip photo dumps, I’m going to divide photos into more focused posts. This way I can have semi-regular content rather than an update every 6 months =D
Taiwan is rather notorious for the ubiquitous show girls present at any and all expos. Not unlike booth babes at E3, show girls try to drum up attention at their respective booths with dancing, sexy clothing, and free swag. An interesting subculture has evolved alongside the show girls, whose schedules are followed by dedicated fans that show up en masse for photographs and videos. A couple dedicated people I subscribe to on Youtube are SGLoveJacky and ikkiknoles, who seem to attend all the big expos.
Attending Taiwan expos is one of my favorite things to do because it’s always such a spectacle. I was lucky enough to visit the Photography Expo in Taipei, alas only for a little more than an hour before closing time. I could stay at these expos for entire days, they’re so much fun.
Swarms gather at every stage show, armed with high power camera gear
Bixby Bridge on the absolutely gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway
On a rare break from work, I escaped to Northern California for a quick vacation. The primary mission was to relax, of course, but I was also motivated to practice landscape photography. Despite some fairly in-depth research and planning, I was quickly humbled by Mother Nature. Landscape photography is definitely not easy, and uncooperative weather doesn’t help for sure. So I missed a bunch of shots I had envisioned, but this was a great learning experience.
Here’s a few photos. Rocks and water were the theme of this trip, evidently. Hope all is well! Work hard, stay positive, be brave.
Creek downstream of Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite National Park
In my line of work, 60 hours is considered a light week. I am halfway through my first year of residency and have learned tons, both medically as well as personally. The benefits of an internal medicine (IM) residency are that the field is tremendously broad and you can find niches that cater to your interests as well as lifestyle. For IM doctors who want to make a lot of money, cardiology and gastroenterology are generally speaking the well-known juicy targets but of course they pay for it in terms of time commitment and stress. It’s crystal clear that what’s important to me isn’t money but free time to pursue my hobbies. This was a lesson I learned the hard way my very first week, when I was stuck in MICU, completely exhausted, working near 80 hour weeks. Stories for another day… =)
Refreshingly delicious air of Estes Park in Colorado, on the way into Rocky Mountain National Park
Anyway, that’s just a preamble to say I’ve been quite busy and one of the first casualties was this site, obviously. A lot has changed since I last posted. Got my first smartphone with a data plan (Nexus 4!!), moved into my new house, became wiser, stronger, faster. Lots and lots of material to chew on for ProtocolSnow.com. Unfortunately, I don’t have a ghost writer so updates will come when they come. I don’t know if I’ll ever resume a regular posting schedule, but I’ll do what I can. Following my Twitter account is probably the best way to keep up with what I’m into, thanks to the low commitment of a tweet vs. full blog posts. That’s the sad reality!
Sunrise at Monument Valley, Arizona from The View hotel
I’ve only recently had the chance to edit my roadtrip photos from June 2012(!) and sent them to my parents, so here’s a few more photos to whet the appetite. More to come, hopefully soon!
One of the best things about being back in Southern California is all the tasty food. When I was on the other side of the country, I would jealously read SoCal foodie blogs and take notes for my brief annual trips home. Of course, now that I’m an overworked resident with scant free time and a meager salary, it’s difficult to indulge as much as I would like. So the dream is still not quite fully realized, but a little delayed gratification only makes the pay-off all the more sweeter, right?
Luckily, after starting off with an arduous schedule and the most difficult rotations in my residency, I finally have a light month and can breathe a little. This weekend I went to the 626 Night Market with much anticipation. Modeled after the famous night markets in Taiwan and other Asian countries, the appropriately named 626 Night Market is held in San Gabriel Valley, which boasts the largest Taiwanese-American population in the USA.
Some of my fondest travel memories involve Taiwan night markets: late nights wandering crowded streets lined with loud neon signs, delicious aromas wafting through the air, snacking on comfort food while shopping for cheap cute gifts to bring home. 626 Night Market seeks to replicate that experience stateside. They fall short because clearly the atmosphere here is quite different and more akin to a county fair. But while there are definitely improvements that can be made, particularly with organization and service, I’m glad this event exists and hope it can become a regular fixture for our community.
Tomorrow is the first day of my new life. Years of blood and sweat have at last led to my first official day as a M.D. Saying that I face it with great trepidation is a massive understatement. Knowing that so many doctors consider intern year of residency the worst year of their life only sharpens its fangs.
But it’s also exciting. And no matter what, I will learn so, so much. And hey, at least I’m not doing surgery!
The past couple months have been a whirlwind. Shopping for an apartment, then a house. Graduating from medical school. Selling most of my possessions, then setting off on an indescribably amazing mega roadtrip across the USA back home to California (3,812 miles and 11 days in total), leaving my past in the rearview mirror and driving to my future.
Approach to Monument Valley, Utah
I have so many photos and videos from the trip I want to share, but with free time being a premium luxury, I will have to trickle them out as I slowly sort through them. In the meantime, please enjoy a small selection. Hopefully intern year won’t be as bad as they say, but if I’m ever in the pits of despair, may the memories of these incredible sights give me strength.
Milky Way arm from Bryce Canyon
The Daruma doll symbolizes good luck and determination and is an interesting part of Japanese culture. These papier-mâché dolls are used for goal-setting and encouragement. When you buy one from a temple or a store, the doll has two giant white eyes with no pupils, representing Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk who according to legend meditated for nine years straight and lost his vision.
After making a wish, you can draw in the pupil for one eye. This alerts Daruma to your wish and motivates him to help you so that he can regain full sight, symbolically reaching enlightenment. You can draw in the second pupil only after you’ve achieved your goal or your wish has come true.
A couple weeks ago, 4th year medical students participated in Match Day. At 12 PM EST, all the students across the country opened envelopes that revealed where they would be going for residency. That moment is the culmination of years of school and a long application / interview season. I had applied to be an internal medicine resident and interviewed at 20 hospitals across the country, including an unbelievable stretch of 5 interviews in 5 straight days in 3 different states. I can guarantee nobody else did something like that because it was a combination of extremely lucky scheduling and pure desperation on my part to squeeze in as many interviews as possible.
Ultimately, I matched into my #2 choice out of 24 programs, and I am heading back to California!! I graduate from medical school in 2 months and will be taking a 3,000+ mile, 11 day roadtrip driving across the country back home to Los Angeles.
It was not easy and I am very lucky and grateful for the opportunity. If I had known how difficult it would be to return to CA either for medical school or residency, I very possibly would have went to either UC Berkeley or UCLA for college instead of fleeing the state. But the reason I left in the first place was for those supposed “life experiences” being in a different part of the USA. If I could re-live my life, it’s hard to say what I would choose to do…
But at last, my Daruma now has achieved enlightenment.
Like most people, I enjoyed playing with Lego as a kid and building fanciful constructions. I was not able to afford the fancy themed sets like Pirates or Space, which I could only marvel with amazement at in Toys R Us. But I had a box of loose Lego bricks that satisfied me just fine and allowed my imagination to run free.
After nearly 20 years of not building Lego, I developed a sudden itch when I randomly came across Lego’s Ultimate Collector’s Series (UCS). These are large, elaborate Lego sets targeted towards young adults and resemble models more than toys. Unsurprisingly, they’re also expensive but are true collectibles. After selling a UCS set retail for a couple years, Lego retires it forever and the value skyrockets on the flourishing aftermarket. The most famous example is the UCS Star Wars Millennium Falcon, which was retired in 2009 and is now worth $2,000+ from a MSRP of $500.
I fell in love with the UCS Star Wars Imperial Shuttle, one of the iconic spacecraft from Star Wars. It retails for $260 and will likely be retired next year. Very expensive, but I justified it because of its strong value in the used market and appreciation in the future. So I can easily get my money back if I want to sell it, or even make money if I’m willing to wait a couple years.
Look how amazing it looks! And I finally have my very first Lego set, all these years later!