Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Yesterday we did physical exam and restraint of the bird. On the face of it, this sounds pretty terrifying to most vet students (although reptiles is usually what gets people). I think most vet students imagine a savage, wild-eyed macaw with a lust for human blood that they will have to tackle bare handed and thereby establish a certain machismo in front of a panel of observing veterinarians. Instead we got 35 quail in a dog carrier from poultry sciences and some parrots. Doing physical exams on the quails was a little like trying to do a physical exam on our hedgies, there isn't a whole lot of cooperation going on. Quails are like bars of soap I discovered, from the minute I pulled them out. You can't squeeze them too tight, because birds keel over if you do that, but in attempting to be gentle, the happily slip through your fingers and flap about 5 feet off directly in front of zoological medicine faculty who were pretty convinced beforehand that this sort of thing was your bag. It was definitely an adventure, but worthwhile for listening to a 500 beat per minute heartrate alone.

After we got done with the quail and a station on getting case histories from owners, we went parrot wrangling in a sweltering small room. The parrots, which were some relative of puerto rican parrots, really aren't socialized, which is good to start off one. The made small tooting noises and looked so cute until the door to their cage was opened. Parrots, like cats, can become the spawn of satan when a veterinarian is involved. To combat this problem, you are given a towel and told to throw it over them, avoid their biting head, and burrito the beast in fine egyptian cotton. I gave it a shot and got one after three tries and his cage mates running in circles around my arms. Mine didn't struggle once burritoed, but a friend of mine's screamed bloody blue murder once restrained. I like parrots, if only for the fact that they are mischievous little guys and they have decent reasoning skills.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Orange Moon

Last night was the full lunar eclipse, which myself and my study buddies, along with Mer and Dez watched from our front walk. Very beautiful. I missed the satellite getting shot down though....

The orange moon reminded me of a brew by the New Belgium folks called Biere du Mars, I believe, which is an excellent seasonal rotator. I think some form of malty amber. You should try it.

Other than that, I have been studying neuro spinal pathways. We have a clinical case exam today after three other exams this week. =). Its embedded in between a neuro lecture and a three hour neuro discussion section- yay!

Stay tuned for new developments from Mer. Exciting things are afoot related to the Orange Moon. More later.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

An Embarassment of Snow Storms

Well, its at it again! An inch of freezing rain this morning, 14 inches of snow expected tonight. The buses are off, and the libraries are closed. I went in this morning to study the cow and horse neck musculature with my friend Rachel, and stuggled back out again afterwards. The building was largely empty and despite an exam in two days there was hardly a vet student to be seen. Right now it is blowing snow outside and we are buckled down for the worst. I made it to the grocery store just in time before it closed, so we have vittles.

This evening will be spent in desperate studying of radiology and physiology. I am going to try to get work done before the powerlines start coming down. On friday I studied at the informally recognized faculty union, the University Club in their St. Alban's like sitting room. The place was founded in 1907 and has a dining room (The Veranda) and a coffee shop. The bathroom was cavernous with a leather couch in the anteroom. I half expected to see a man offering me towels when I finished washing up. I hope to go back at some point.

I found an excerpt from a book that I have been looking for on the use of the horse in WWI on the web. The book is called "The Horse and the War" by Capt. Sidney Galtrey and argues against the future use of horses by the military. Its a good piece of history.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Epic Snowfall, Limited Preparation

This last week was an interesting one. Many of you may have read about the 2000 car backup on 39/90 and the general mayhem in Wisconsin. We were expecting 1 to 4 inches in Madison, then the forecast radically changed on this past Wednesday morning to 12 to 18 inches with pockets of 20 inches. Despite this forecast and the fact that it would be doing all of this during the day, UW Madison did not close until 3:30 PM after my last class. This was distressing, and I had a long walk home. On the bright side, I got to push cars out, and so did my friends.

At vet school, we had a week packed with information largely on lipid and protein metabolism, GI physiology and a whole bunch of neurobiology. I don't know if you know how complicated the spinal cord is, but I think I am just brushing the surface. There are tracts seemingly everywhere that cross and recross, and overlap. We learn all of these to be able to tell what part of the cord is damaged if say your dog's legs on the left side are weak, and his reflexes are still ok. We have two clinical cases to write up that actually require that we have studied for our upcoming exam (in two weeks) in order to complete them. I think this is a good think, but it has been taking me awhile.

Nothing too much else is going on, other than a flurry of different thoughts and emails about my new position as a SAVMA delegate. I am looking forward to seeing what it is all about in Auburn. Also, it is the Chinese New Year. Hopefully, the year of the rat will be a good one!

Here are some Chinese art links to celebrate the new year! Ming Dynasty Art and some pictures of the Big Goose Pagoda, which I visited when I was nine.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Prestige

I just watched "The Prestige" for about the fourth time last night, and I must say it is still one of my favorite movies, particularly for its employment of the crossover between the mysteries of science and magic. David Bowie does and admirable Nikola Tesla. I am including a link to one of Tesla's works here from the Harvard Classics library 1892 brought to you by google books. I would like to plug google books here and say that it is a wonderful resource to have so many good things scanned in. You can download pdf's from there and make your own digital library of your choice. I think I will make a point of this when I have time. But anyway, I must say I can't get enough of Victorian science. I love the mystery and wonder of discovery and a time period of florid prose in science. Here is an excellent example of just such a book, Wallace's Malay Archipelago, done I believe well after his fortuitous bout of malaria.
Other than that, nothing much is up. I am studying for a couple of quizzes and working up some neurological cases for neuroscience which makes me feel more like a veterinary student than certain other activities. Also, we picked out some nice recipes to cook this week, and the songbirds have returned to the backgarden. If I get a good look at them, I will report back.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today's Thoughts

Seldom have I had a book completely save me in the midst of studying. There is probably a top ten list out there for books that have done this for me in the past but the current favorite is the Color Atlas of Biochemistry. Its small, its efficient, its written by Germans and has lots of diagrams, and its pocket sized. I rediscovered it in the midst of doing flashcards and am quite pleased with it.
There is some other news. I have another first cousin once removed, his name is Noah and he is the son of Evan and Amy my cousins. Their other son Nathaniel just had his Bar Mitzvah (which I am sorry we could not attend) and I am sure will make a great older brother full of interesting things to impart. My sister is this much older than me, and she has always been a great source of wisdom and advice.
Second, I am now one of the two SAVMA delegates from UW Madison vet school. This means that I get to attend a conference in Auburn, AL in March (I hope you're reading this Morgan) and a conference in New Orleans in July (should be like DC right?). To check out what SAVMA is all about look here
Other than that, I am studying away for the first set of quizzes and exams. We have dissection of the superficial head of the horse tomorrow, and our first clinical cases to discuss in neuro on Thursday.
As promised I will give a couple of interesting links. One of them is to my favorite ridiculously slow (both in loading and shipping) fascimile printing book source for old things and another.

This one is just for my mom, or if you can read , cuneiform go ahead, I dare ya!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Back to Vet School: This time its personal

Well, I am stuck in again for Large Animal Anatomy, Neuroscience, Nutrition, Large Animal Radiographic Anatomy, Vet. Biochem, Physiology, Pharmacology, and Physical Restraint and Exam of Large Animals. Its a potpourri, a grab bag, a veritable plethora of meaty facts and exams. I have had all of my classes except the radiographic one and the physical exam. Large Animal anatomy is fun but unfortunately the University of Minnesota doesn't have a dissection site where you can follow along, sorry Laurie Spicher! I think I like the anatomy best, with neuroscience a close second. I think it will be a good semester, and I am changing my tune on the studying front. I am trying to work on flashcards and summary notes out of class. Should be interesting.
Other than that, I have been busy on articles and stuff. I have a grant going in for summer research at the vet school with any luck. Madison has been quite chilly but a break is in the offing. It looks like we'll have some good First Year Initiative trips if all works out.
Last weekend Meredith and I went to see BodyWorlds 1. The anatomy was fascinating especially brain sections and the horse. The artistic choices left some stuff to be desired and I thought a few poses were deliberately and inappropriately ghoulish but you'll get a flavor for it here.... Bodyworlds . Overall it was quite good though. The wall panels needed work, as Molly and Spiff from the Museum of the Rockies could probably attest to, but otherwise it was good. They do some very spiffy dissections.
Other than that (again), we had a great chinese meal last night with excellent Sichuan food. There was a numbing spice in it called hua chiao ("flower pepper") but sold at Penzey's spices as Szechuan peppercorns http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Zant_pip.html . It is uncannily like putting lidocaine on your tongue. The meal was excellent with dried pepper beef, Chon Jin chicken (sol's favorite) and some yummy eggplanty thingies. We will be going back (maybe this week....)..
On another note, I want to start including a neat link on the internet per week, for amusement purposes. This harkens back to me working on a large science site which can be seen here
This one is on World War One with some interesting footage http://www.bbc.net.uk/history/worldwars/wwone also there is a web blog of WWI soldiers letters which you should see http://www.wwar1.blogspot.com/

Friday, January 4, 2008

All Hail Our New Nephew

The most awesome news of these past months bar none is a new addition to our immediate family. My sister and brother in law on Mer's side have been assigned their new baby from Thailand. He is beautiful and we're very excited to meet him. I am still trying to figure out if there is anything additional to being a godfather. My godfather was very involved in my life while I was growing up, which really affected me as a person, so I want to figure it out.
Our new nephew's name means "Bow and Arrow", which is very cool for his martial arty aunt and uncle. Congrats Robin and Kyle! We love you!

Movies of Late: What I am doing today....

Went to see Juno. This was a very good movie, although the father acted much more predictably with his kids pregnancy than I thought he would. Saw Charlie Wilson's War which I thoroughly enjoyed, especially because the movie was so faithful to facts. I love when the truth is Stranger than Fiction (see that movie).. We watched Run Lola Run the other night. Good movie, but I could care less about whether any of the characters live....

I'm typing up some research results and working on painting the bathroom after installing a pedestal sink, which may I say is a worthwhile challenge. My dad and I struggled to get it in for quite awhile...

5 Restaurants in Madison

I have some recommendations for those who care....

1) Bandung Restaurant (Indonesian)- WOW, what a great place. Try the Krakatau Chicken, its exactly like the volcano chicken from the King & I in Milwaukee, which for those of you who just tuned into radio EWAN, is Kentucky Fried chicken in a fiery tamarindy goodness sauce with cabbage and carrot. Also try the Rendang and Krupuk.

2) Taj Indian Restaurant - good vegetarian stuff and breads.

3) Wasabi Japanese Restaurant- Hot damn, best japanese food in a long long time. Good hibachi stuff, goma-ae, sukiyaki, sushi, you name it...

4) Inka Heritage- great ceviche, oversized corn kernel dishes and peruvian music sans pan flute thank God. The chimichurri with fried corn kernels is particularly good.

5) This gelato place on state whose name escapes me. Its awesome... I'll fix this post later and tell you the name... The white chocolate hazelnut was worth the price of admission

Defining Music of the Past Few Months

Thought I would share music which I have lately become interested in as the result of watching more Wes Andersen movies and other things. I have been really enjoying the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, David Bowie (from the late sixties early seventies phase), the Animals, the Zombies, and generally noticing that punk is fun. I also hit up iTunes to see what the pickings were like for early 90's alternative and found that the great thing about dead bands is their greatest hits albums are ALL available. I was disappointed and pleased to find out that The Man Who Sold the World is a David Bowie song from 1972 not a Kurt Cobain song from 1993. Anyway, check out some of this music particularly Powerman, This Time Tomorrow, Man who Sold the World, Gimme Some Shelter, The Passenger (by Iggy) and I Finding it Harder to Be a Gentleman Everyday (The White Stripes). Hope you enjoy!

Activities over the Past Months

The last few months haven't been without excitement. For instance, I delivered a calf, participated in the International Crane Foundation annual health check, did an avian necropsy workshop and led trips to an elk farm and a fish hatchery... Some pics are below.

The Things They Carried

The last few months of vet school blurred together from October through the last exam on December 22nd. I won't lie, this semester was all about survival. I have never pulled so many consecutive days of studying staying up until midnight or 1 and waking up at 5:30AM for the next day at it. I had no nights or weekends to spend at home in particular. It is amazing how much we learned in one semester and how little of the total this amounts to. One thing I did notice as we all became more weary is that the contents of our backpacks changed. I admire Tim O' Brien's writing greatly, and must cite him here. This is what my backpack had the first

Week One
3 pens
1 memory stick provided by purina
1 binder containing notes
Veterinary Physiology
Miller's Guide to Dissection
1 standard issue Wisconsin notebook
Keys to the histology drawers
1 plastic folder for additional handouts

Final Week of Classes
15 pharmaceutical company pens
4 highlighters
1 3-sided highlighter Banfield
1 graphing calculator
1 dissection coat (soiled)
1 pack dissection tools (haphazardly cleaned)
4 scalpel blades
1 pack wasabi peas (half-eaten for staying awake)
1 pack flashcards
1 chocolate bar (half-eaten)
Millers Dissection guide to the dog
1/3 of the course notes in a dilapidated binder
1 pathology report (for job)

I will try to see what the contents of others packs are. One friend was carrying over 600 filled out flashcards. This next semester we have less lab time but more classes. We will have Neuroscience, Nutrition, Large Animal Anatomy and Lab, Biochemistry, Physiology, Large Animal Radiographic Anatomy, Ethics and Physical Restraint and Exam of the Large Animal. Right now I am enjoying the calm downtime.