The year was 1999, and N.A.S.A. launched the last of America’s deep space probes. In a freak mishap Ranger 3 and its pilot Captain William ‘Buck’ Rogers were blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which froze his life support systems, returning Buck Rogers to Earth five-hundred years later.
Oh, and it was also the year that I graduated from UCSF medical school.
My classmates at the time voted for graduation speakers, and knowing full well that I had very little frontal lobe left to prevent me from going off like a dirty bomb in the middle of downtown SF, they chose me as their weapon of mass destruction.
I’d never done ANY real public speaking until that day. Even scarier, I had written my original speech a few days prior, and in a fit of rage I tore it up a couple nights before graduation. So I started from scratch and cobbled this one together, with some bits stolen with permission from my trusty med school buddies Dr. Harry and Doc Quixote.
In my humble opinion, this diatribe nicely encapsulates the med school experience, an experience much akin to being frozen by temperatures beyond imagination and awakening 500 years later to meet an alien future. Only the special effects are better.
*Update: in May 2014, NPR listed this ridiculous speech as one of the top commencement addresses of all time! Suck it, Steve Jobs. (Dang it, he’s on the list too)
For brave souls, here’s the unedited “Director’s Cut”: