Aram Harijan

Much ado about nothing

Month: November, 2009

Road to Pyramid Lake

Setting moon


California newt

California newt 2

California newt 3

Reno sky

Robots of Oakland

Not cheese

Lake chabot

PSA November 24, 2009: Can and Will Are Not the Same Words.

They are not even friends.

Can Kniving is a felon. His job in life is to cheat people.

Will Ernest is a self-taught, and handsome gentleman. He works hard, earns what he rightly deserves, and spends it with his family and for the greater good of the society.


I have caught on to you people.

When you ask me whether I can do something for you, you are not asking whether I am actually capable of performing these tasks. You are asking me to do it.

So instead of asking me whether I can do it or not, just go ahead and ask me if I am willing to do it.

I’ll tell you straight away, “yes, I will do it” or “no, I will not do it.”

If you ask me I can go take the trash out, my answer will always be, “yes, I can take it out.” But I may not want to. I know you can take the trash out, so I don’t know why you are asking me about something you are wholly and completely able to take care of yourself as well.

The reason you are questioning my capability, when you actually want to know my willingness, is because you have been brainwashed into this easyspeak neuroliguistic programming (NLP) business. You use it but you don’t even know its source in black sorcery.

You see, when people answer “yes” to an easy task, you’ve essentially made it harder for people to say “no.” By admitting one’s capability, one is expected to take on the responsibility.

It’s the oldest trick in the book.

A beggar asks, “do you have any change?” (translated, this is “Can you give me some change?” because if you don’t have any change, you cannot give him any change. And people often have change.)

When we have change, we hate to answer this question honestly because, if we say we have change, then it’s harder to justify why it is that we are not willing to share our abundance.

In that framework of NLP, you are a bad person for being capable of sharing your money yet choosing not to do so. When people actually do have change, the two usual responses are either to give money or to lie and avoid culpability, “no, I don’t have change.”

In reality, there is no fault for not giving alms. Beneficence is a good thing, but failing to be good does not equate to being bad.

A person who is sure of oneself should either 1. willingly give or 2. state “yes, I do have change, but I am not willing to share that with you, today, because I need it for myself.” In that way, you dictate framework of ethics regarding who’s capable of doing what and where the responsibility lies.

I know. It’s crude. Some might think it’s mean. But being honest to yourself and to others is the path less taken. In the end, people will trust and appreciate your honesty more than your diplomacy.

Most importantly, you’ll love yourself for being sticking with the truth of yourself.



Trust me on this. I’m a doctor.

Now back to you and me, I understand if your hands are tied with other chores and you’d like for me to help out. Yes, please ask me if I am willing to take the trash out, to clean the bathroom or help out. Yes, I am completely willing to be a good friend and company.¬† Yes, I am willing to do the things to help you.

Just don’t ask me if I can do something you know I can. Next time, I’ll answer, “yes, I can” and stare at you with a smile while not moving a finger.

Whatever it is, I won’t do it until you ask me by the right word.

My American Dream: 26. The Pain of Surgery

There was blood everywhere.

It was on the surgeon’s glasses.

On my gloves and gown.

On the surgery drapes.

On the floor.

In the abdomen.

There was even other people’s blood hanging from the pole which the anesthesiologist replenished in quarts.

You see, the human body need the liver to provide the clotting factors to stop bleeding. When the liver doesn’t work anymore, bleeding doesn’t stop. In medicine, we call this hepatic coagulopathy, clotting disorder arising from liver disease – or in the case of patient on the operating table, missing a liver.

I was in a liver transplant operation. This was the very first time I scrubbed into an operation.*

By taking out the bad shriveled up liver from hepatitis C, we took away what little ability the body had to clot. Unfortunately, the liver connects to some very large blood vessels.

This operation also happened to be at 2AM on a Saturday night. Despite the surreal view of human body in the deepest cavity and the blood, I was falling asleep with my eyes open.

The old senior surgeon and the junior resident surgeon did not seem as tired. They had focus and objective. Even at 2am in the morning, their hands moved faster than my eyes can follow.

Clamp, cut, tie, tie.

I just helped by retracting other organs from getting into the field of view and did my best to stay awake.

The liver went in. They connected all the pipes back together. Though all the blood vessels were tied, they still seem to continue to bleed. I couldn’t fathom how a body could live through that experience.

With the blood still oozing from the depth of the abdominal cavity, the two surgeons closed the surgical incision and sent the patient to the intensive care unit.

Driving home after that sublime experience, I thought it insane people stay up so late to do these kinds of surgery. It was definitely something that I did not think much about. I did not think I could do it myself if someone’s life depended on me.

I got home. I was exhausted. My feet ached. My back was destroyed. It was so nice to lay horizontal and make truce with gravity. My mind drifted into sleep despite the hallucination of anesthesia machine beeping to the rhythm of my own heart and my mind to the imagery of blood.

I saw the old surgeon a few days later.

“How’s Mr. Krietzki doing?”

The old surgeon said, “we had to take him back the next day to stop a bleeding vessel. I was hoping it would stop spontaneously. But… it didn’t.”

He gave a shrug, ‘what else can we really do?’


That was four years ago. I was barely done with first year medical school then. Now I’m a surgical intern.

A week ago, a patients came into the hospital on a Friday night with severe abdominal pain. We had to go to the operating room urgently at 11am. He had a hernia in which a piece of omentum was stuck. The operation took 2 hours and I ended up driving home at 2 AM.

As I drove home, it was no longer a surreal experience anymore. It was a result of my desire to provide good care to that person. I was still just as tired, but I also had ownership of what I had done. Despite the bodily pain and mental exhaustion, it was what I wished to do. Despite all the sacrifices I had to make to be there, it pleased me to see the patient feel better when he finally woke up.

Again I fell asleep, hallucinating to the beating sound of the anesthesia machine. This time, it sang a lullaby as I drifted into sleep.

Beep, Beep, Beep…

*To scrub in means to wash one’s hands and arms meticulously then get into a sterile gown and glove without touching anything else.

Not Worth It 1

Not Worth It 2

Not Worth It 3

New used ride

It’s got ton of miles.


Internship is hard work. I work all kinds of weird hours. Sometimes the patients try to die on me and stuff. And sometimes we are asked to be at 3 different places at the same time. It’s hard to be a good intern.

Shiva can have my still beating heart on a plate, if I don’t enjoy waking up at 5AM to go take care of sick people. For example, we saved a guy from becoming a quadraplegic this past weekend. Tell me that isn’t more rewarding than returning above index return for some douchbag who hadn’t been hungry in his life, and I’ll smile and say, “dude, when was the last time you touched a brain?”

The fact that I make 10 dollars an hour is besides the point.

My American Dream: 15. In Which I Applied to Medical School for a Girl

I remember the day when I got that phone call from my interviewer at UNC-Chapel Hill. It was March 8th, 2005. I paused the Grand Theft Auto 3 game, “hello.”

My imaginary, 3-dimensional, highly-interactive protagonist was suspended in freeze time while the SWAT team shot at him. A vaguely recognized voice came through the phone, “Hi, Aram. This is Doctor Smith. I am calling to let you know that the admissions committee at UNC met yesterday and decided to accepted you as a student. Congratulations!”

“[Loud 6 year old girl like shriek] THANK YOU. [ear piercing shriek again]”

“I think you’ll be a great fit at the school. Congratulations! Your admissions packet should be going out this Friday.”

I was so happy, ‘I just got into a FREAKING medical school, mang!’

Then it dawned on me, ‘oh yeah, I guess she‘s really not the reason for going to medical school anymore.’


Remember how I told you I was forced into a life of a zombiehood because I lack the necessary female nurture during my adolescence?

Well, It wasn’t until I was 21-years old that I first dated someone. My first girlfriend, let’s say her name was Pancake.

Pancake was a Korean girl who went to UNC. I met her through an older Korean friend I knew at a Korean church.

In addition our common heritage, Pancake and I also shared an extremely unhealthy amount of shyness. Unsurprising then, there wasn’t a whole lot of talking when we first dated. Most awkward moments ever for dates. This is the sort of the thing that you have to experience as a child so that when you’re 21, you don’t look like a retard.

Despite that, we grew fond of each other and opened up. I think we dated for about 3 years.

During this time, Pancake was applying to go to medical school. Because she grew up in a family with very conservative views, the fact that she was going to be a doctor meant that any man she marries would have to be a doctor or be in a profession which generates more income than her. Or else, it would be too shameful for the husband to be in a lesser profession. Others would look upon with a frown.

“That’s a ridiculous idea,” I told her.

I thought people should be together for their loving relationship. Not for the commensurate level of socioeconomic status. I thought even if I was a janitor who is happy to make 10 dollars an hour*, we should be together happily regardless of what others might think.

I told her what I thought.

She told me she couldn’t be with me anymore.

Out of fear, I signed up to take MCAT right away.


I got rejected the first year. I applied again and got that acceptance call the second year. By this time, Pancake had been gone to California for two years to study medicine, and we had broken up the year before.**

So far, this is the biggest example from my life of doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons.

I am glad that Pancake was so unreasonable with me back then. It started me on the right path and bought me time to find my own reasons.

I sometimes wonder what I would have been doing tonight and where I would have been, if it was not for Tradition’s ridiculous views on life. Then I realize I have to wake up at 5 next morning and fall asleep in bed.

*By the way, $10 is what currently I make as a training surgeon, and believe you me, I tie knots really fast for a first year resident.

**Pancake is now a pediatrician in California.

Seven Samurai

One down.

Seven Samurai

Only the victor sleep sound

Seven Samurai

That’s Crazy Talk

Seven Samurai

That’s madness

Seven Samurai

Find Hungry Samurai

Seven Samurai

I won’t let this rice go to waste

Seven Samurai


Seven Samurai


Seven Samurai

It’s a contest of swords.