Part of the reason why I have neglected to provide any new entries is because I have been completely enthralled in the Student Doctor Network Forum.

The Pre-Allopathic sub-forum of SDN is complete heaven for the neurotic pre-med types (like me!).

Pre-meds and medical students from all over (there are upwards of around 120,000 SDN forum members!) come to this site to spread advice and share their medical school application experiences.

A caveat: you need to be careful and take some advice you find on there with a grain of salt. For example, in the “What is more important, GPA or MCAT?” thread there are many pre-meds who voice their opinion, yet those pre-meds really have no real knowledge of this stuff. I will try to post some of the better pieces of advice on here!

Enough already, go visit the site and get lost in the forum’s 1.3 million posts.


Hey Gang!

I apologize for the lack of new content yesterday, but it was a holiday (in Canada) and I promised myself to stay away from the computer as much as possible.

Wouldn’t it be great to crunch 6 hours of audio material into a 90-100 minutes? Just think how many more audio books or podcasts you could squeeze into your week. According to Steve Pavlina at ‘Steve’s Pavlina’s Personal Development Blog’, we have the ability to think faster than people talk. He suggests that we could speed up the rate of listening to  our favorite audio by around three to four times normal and still retain all the material we listen to.

While it sounds like it might work in theory, I will have to try this out before I give it an endorsement. If any of you use have tried this technique, let us know if it worked for you!

An excerpt:

Did you know that if you have 60 minutes of audio material to listen to, you can very easily digest the material in 30 minutes or less?  And with practice you can even get it done in less than 15 minutes.

Modern media players can play audio at faster rates than the default, and they’ll automatically adjust the pitch so the voices sound faster but not squeaky.  Some players provide this feature via a plug-in.  Windows Media Player has this feature built in.

Check out “Overclocking Your Audio Learning” at

This article from Kiplinger’s is aimed at incoming Freshmen, but there are a few good tips here for us upperclassmen as well. Take a look:

Welcome to college. No one is here to make sure you study, do your homework or, heck, that you even get out of bed in the morning. This new-found independence also means you’re responsible for managing your own money and making daily financial decisions. So while you may think you have all your essential back-to-school gear — backpack, computer, number-two pencils — you’ll want to make sure you bring along must-have item number-one: Good money sense.

Here are ten things all new college students should know about making smart financial choices when they first arrive on campus.

1. Know what your parents are paying for and what you are expected to cover. Before you box up your room, you need to sit down with Mom and Dad to talk about money. If they’re footing the entire bill, you need to discuss your monthly spending allowance and how the bills will get paid. If you’re picking up part of the tab, you need to know what specifically you’re responsible for, and brainstorm ideas to help you cover your share. For example, will the money come from your savings, an on-campus job or student loans?

2. Understand your financial aid. Make sure you know what is required of you to keep your support. Some scholarships, for example, require you to maintain a certain GPA, and some work-study programs may not allow you to get a second job anywhere else. Make sure you know the rules, advise the experts at the National Endowment for Financial Education. Also, scholarships aren’t just for freshmen, so watch for scholarship opportunities throughout your college career.

3. Choose the right bank. One of the first things you should do upon arriving on campus is to set up a checking account. This will allow you to pay bills and manage your spending cash effectively so you won’t have wads of crumpled up bills in your pocket — or lying around your dorm. Make sure your checking account comes with a free debit card and requires a low minimum balance to avoid fees. If you can find one that pays interest, that’s a great bonus because your money will grow while it sits in the bank. Select a bank with plenty of ATMs on campus so you can get cash without having to pay an extra buck or two every time you use another bank’s machine.

If you don’t know how to balance a checkbook, now is the time to learn. If you bounce a check — that is, write a check without enough money in your account to cover it — you’ll have to pay an extra $20 or $30 every time. That can really add up. Basically, you need to write down how much money you have in your account, and every time you spend something by check or debit card, you subtract the amount to keep a current total. It’s not tough; it just takes a bit of discipline. Which brings us to our next point…

4. Watch where your money goes. A budget sounds so stuffy, but it can be a beautiful thing. It allows you to know where you’re money is going each month so you can make sure you have enough for the things you need, and perhaps a few things that you want. It’s easy to fritter away loose change on sodas and treats from the vending machine. But all those little costs can add up big. Say you spend $3 every morning on a latte. In one month you’ll have spent about $90. If your school offers a student card that doubles as a debit card on campus, keep a close eye on that spending too. See Beyond Tuition to find out more ways to plug the leaks in your spending, including tips on cutting expenses for food, text books and phone service. And use our college budget worksheet to estimate your living expenses while away from home.

5. Don’t put the entire semester’s money in your bank account at once. If your parents are pitching in for your living expenses — or you plan to cash out savings or investments to fund your own education — don’t put all the money into your checking account at the beginning of the semester, advises Patricia A. Konetzny, a CFP in Maynard, Mass. Even with the best intentions all that extra cash could create too big a temptation. Better to roll it in on a monthly basis to cover your costs to make sure you have just as much money for the last month of the semester as you had for the first. Make it easy on yourself — or Mom and Dad — by arranging with your bank for each month’s share to transfer automatically into your checking from a linked savings account on the first day of the month.

Continue reading ‘“Freshman Finance 101”’

Dustin Wax over at has posted a follow up article to his original post on how to make your research papers more spiffy. That original post received some flak for some questionable tips, but Dustin’s new post on research tips is all gold.

Here, as always, is the executive summary of “10 Steps Towards Better Research”:

  • Schedule in time, and allocate mini-deadlines to different parts of your assignment.
  • Wikipedia is a good diving board for preliminary research, but you need to expand into more proven sources, like scholarly journals, for the main evidence argued in your paper.
  • Find a paper or journal article that has some great bits of info you can use, then mine its bibliography to get more leads on related sources.
  • Always have the research question you are trying to answer in mind when looking for evidence.
  • Deal with one part of your paper at a time to promote a sound, logical argument.
  • Come up with a system to organize your ideas, research, and such. I have always used file folders, but a few companies have pumped out software that act as virtual file folders for all of your Pdfs and such. Examples: OmniOutliner, DEVONthink.
  • “Know Your Resources.”
  • Use all the help that is available to you. The post suggests talking to your Librarians, and I agree.
  • “Carry and idea book.” I just started a Moleskine journal to jot down things that I come across on daily basis. I would recommend, though, that you keep separate books for school research and your personal musings.
  • “Bring it up to date.” I guess what Wax means by this is that make sure all of your sources are up to date and haven’t been disputed by recent studies.

“10 Steps Toward Better Research” at

Good morning!

It is Friday! The long weekend is almost here (for those of us living in Canada, anyway).

My favorite public speaking blog, aptly named “The Public Speaking Blog”, published a great article this morning outlining seven different ways to get your presentation off to a running start. I think starting off with a bang is a crucial element of engaging your audience. If you come off the ‘blocks’ stumbling, it won’t be long before the yawns start up in your audience.

The executive summary of “The Seven ways to Kick Start a Presentation”:

  • “Open with a humorous/emotional story that leads to your key message
  • Ask a question that gets us thinking
  • Do a demonstration that leads to your message
  • Shock ‘em with facts and numbers
  • Start off with a cartoon or video, funny is optional
  • Pause…
  • Do something different (or crazy)!”

    For the explanations of the above points, visit the original post.

    In a day, I usually consume two ‘Large’ coffees with milk from the Tim Hortons kiosk here at the hospital.

    According to ‘The Caffeine Database’ at, this equates to around 215mg of caffeine and a status of “In the Zone”. For fun, I doubled the amount of coffee I would normally take and my status changed to “ANXIOUS?”. There is a caveat here, though. The effects of caffeine on your body depend on your body weight and your tolerance to caffeine. So it may take more (or less) caffeine for you to get “anxious”.

    How many caffeinated beverages do you swig back in a day?

    Check out how much caffeine you may be putting in your system here, via

    Hi Gang.

    I apologize for not posting any profound entries as of late. I have been quite busy!

    Anyway, here is a great little piece from about checking your sources.

    A reader recently wanted to know if I could corroborate my reflections on certain idioms (Lying in State: Changing Perceptions Change Language).

    Considering the half-digested information and deliberate hoaxes that abound on the web, the question was a valid one.

    I know just what kind of thing has made that reader suspicious. A year or so ago, a colleague of mine–aware of my areas of expertise–sent me an email she’d received, wanting to know if the “facts” presented in it were true. The text purported to “explain” the origin of various common expressions by linking them to supposed medieval activities. Some of the “explanations” sounded plausible, but had nothing to do with historical fact. As far as I know, the spurious email is still out there in cyberspace, spreading misinformation.

    The articles I write for Daily Writing Tips are not made up out of whole cloth. Some of what I write is a matter of opinion and when it is, I say so. Whenever I offer information about grammar or diction, I consult standard works on the subject.

    When Daniel launched DWT earlier this summer, I wrote my first articles more or less blindly, with little notion of whom I was writing for. Thanks to readers’ comments, I now know that the site is attracting a wonderful cross-section of English speakers and writers who have questions and insights relating to every aspect of the language.
    Continue reading ‘Checking Your Sources’