Saturday, March 31, 2007

Revenue

Check this out, since posting the ad on the left and our strange up tick in google image traffic we have made about $5 in two days. That might not seem like much, but since we started on October 30th until two days ago ... we generated $5. So thanks all!

LA cont.

I guess I have some down time to write a little bit! Thats different. I wish I could find my photo cable! I hope I didn't loose it. I will have to rely on google images for now I guess.

First off, on Thursday we went to the Museum of Jurassic Technology. My topics in art class senior year was loosely based on this crazy place (or the book on it at least) and so seeing everything in person was a real trip. It takes a kind of 18th century natural history curiosity and applies it to our world now. So everything in it is true but not necessarily true. It's a contradiction with what it is supposed to be - a museum. So in the end it self is one massively ambitious art project.

We also hit up a place for dinner that had some fantastic beers on tap. LA is a wine town from what I can see, and that makes sense since CA is wine country. There are some big players around here, Stone Brewing is on tap everywhere, but you don't just stumble upon exotic Belgian imports as in NY. It was a good place though, and we sat out side of course. Why doesn't every one? I had the "Old Rasputen" Imperial Russian Stout by North Cost Brewing. It was on tap and nitro'd so it was a real treat.

That was Thursday. Then yesterday was a star LA treatment. Cletus has been going to this spa place and he booked me for a thing that was a mix of electroshock therapy and heat massage. I was a little skeptical at first when the lady brought our her electro-gun but it really felt good. At the end I was energized and relaxed.

...In time go to the Getty and meet Megan's Cousin Sarah for lunch. It was so much fun! Sarah is the Sr. project coordinator of performing arts and so organizes all their performances on the Getty campus and off. She was great and treated me to lunch in their hune marble cafeteria. We were able to chat for a while. Now Megan has to get out here, the last time they met was 12 years ago! There might be an opportunity in July but more on that later.

The Getty it self is an amazing place that frankly overshadows much of the art that it contains. It is an epic monument. I was delighted to find Tim Hawkinson's work there, and it worked very well with in the space. On the right here is a photo of "√úberorgan" as installed in a warehouse I will post video of it later, but it runs for 5 min every hour and is quite a great piece. He also had some new commissioned work that was fun to see.

Ok, done right? Not at all. Because then Cletus had made some dinner reservations at Sona Restaurant about 10 blocks from his house. I find it difficult to describe quite what the place is. It is the kind of place where you are completely mystified as to how they made that. Its not just good food, its food taken to a different level. There was a time when I was in Japan about 2 days before I left that I had a Sushi dinner that all others can rate to but not beat. I knew it at the time too, it was the new standard. Same thing here. If anything I will let anyone who is out here experience it for them selves. Just be open and trust the chef.

The one point that I did appreciate was one of our courses was venison, and although very good, it was also very familiar. I have been having that for years! David calls it "Minnesota Gourmet" and its worth noting! Now if I can just figure out how they made that egg do that, I'll be set.

Ok I am all caught up!

One more thing, there are some better Subaru pics up that make it about 30% less bad looking. It still looks bland as heck but at least the grill is a mat black vs. chrome freak out. We'll see how the sedan looks...

(still) more thoughts on pet food

*edited to add*: Now Purina is in the game- Alpo Prime Chunks and Gravy recalled late last night (of course).

*edit #2*: Apparently the news is saying everything from "Hills Feline m/d is recalled" (which is true) to "All Hills dry pet foods are recalled" (which is definitely not true). JUST the Feline m/d- no other dry food products- are recalled.

Well, the pet food thing just got a little worse yesterday with a) the FDA's discovering of melamine in the tainted food, and b) Hills' recall of their prescription diet Feline m/d ("metabolic diet", for chubby cats). From what I can tell, melamine doesn't seem particularly toxic. According to VIN, a cat would need to eat about 4 kg of the tainted food to approach a lethal dose. One current theory is that melamine, which is chemically fairly similar to aminopterin, might be converted in the body to aminopterin. That would explain why melamine is present in the affected foods and in the kindeys/urine of animals who ate the foods, but why aminopterin is not necessarily present in all those places.

Anyway. Yesterday afternoon Menu Foods declared the recall a success and stated that all their foods are now safe. Shortly after, Hills announced their recall of m/d when they determined that the source of Menu's wheat gluten (called seitan when you feed it to people) was also the source of their own. Note that the first announcement of a recall was made late on Friday (the 17th), the announcement of the discovery of aminopterin was made last Friday (the 23rd), and the expanded recall and discovery of a new potential toxin was announced yesterday. Chris says this is a common technique in politics, to announce bad news just before the weekend so that people get all mad, then forget about it by the time Monday comes around. If we find out that Hills waited on this recall to make it on a more convenient day, they will have lost the trust of an awful lot of vets. Recalls happen, bad food gets into the food supply, and frankly with the globalization of food production, it's impressive that it doesn't happen more often. But to try to save your company's own skin by delaying the announcement of a recall, while however many pets are eating your (prescription) diet? That's disgusting.

Hills and vets have an interesting relationship. I think their sales line is "The #1 food vets feed their pets," and that's probably true. Some people claim that it's because Hills pays off vets to support their product... I've talked to a lot of people and that's simply not true. Some people say vets recommend it because they sell it, which is true in a lot of cases, but there are only a few companies that make prescription diets (Hills, Purina, and Royal Canin, I think). The main reason vets use and trust it is because vets are all scientists at heart, and Hills has a lot of research on their side. Their prescription diets do a lot of good things, and can replace or at least assist drug therapy in the treatment and control of certain diseases. They clearly spend a lot of time and money formulating their diets, and they get the science to back it up. They also invest a lot of money in vets and vet students. The sponsor a lot of our speakers, both related and unrelated to nutrition, and if we didn't have their funding we'd have a lot fewer opportunities. They even purchased all of us our copy of Small Animal Clinical Nutrition. So why have I still been so skeptical of them?

Maybe it's because I worked for Petco for way too long and have developed a large distrust of all things corporate. Everything in corporate is about CYA (cover your bum) and trying to look good to the public while making as much money as possible. Then don't do anything really beneficial for anyone but the company until you get caught. I'll admit that Petco made some remarkable changes to their animal care policies, but not until their San Francisco store got shut down for animal cruelty. In Hill's case, I think my skepticism came from reassurances that any pet food with a recognizable name (mainly Hills' Science Diet, Purina, or Iams/Eukanuba) is a good food, and what makes them better than the rest is their quality control. Little companies can't afford to be doing chem analyses on each batch of food they produce, while the big guys can. They can afford to make sure the food is safe and contains all the nutrients they say it does. And "pets need nutrients, not ingredients"- meaning that if protein comes from chicken, or soy, or grown in a petri dish, it doesn't matter because your dog's body will process them all the same way. Companies who make dog food using organic free-range chicken are selling more to pet owners than to pets.

I've heard those arguments over and over, and I believe them..... sorta.... I mean, their quality control has to be amazing, considering how many animals eat that food, since recalls like this put a black eye on the companies involved for a long time. And considering "super premium" food companies like Innova or Eagle Pack still only have about 5% of the share of the pet food market, deaths related to a toxin in their foods likely wouldn't even be noticed as being food-related, as it would affect so few pets.

But despite that, I still have a hard time buying the "nutrients, not ingredients" line. I understand it scientifically- your gut could care less what the source of those proteins are, it just wants to digest and absorb them. But at the same time, I can't believe I'd be just as healthy consuming a powder that contains all necessary nutrients as I would be eating a well-balanced diet that includes fresh foods (to quote Michael Pollan, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."). Okay, so the body utilizes nutrients rather than ingredients, but ingredient type and source and quality all have to factor in to how well our body can extract nutrients from it, right?

My nutrition text states that to meet a dog's daily protein requirements, a kibble should have about 20% protein. Beyond that, protein is utilized not to build other proteins, but to provide energy. Carbs provide energy too, so most dog food companies use 20% protein and make up the rest of the energy needs with carbs, because protein is expensive while carbs are not. But who says that carbs are the best choice here? Cheaper yes, but would dogs do better with more protein? Does a high-carb kibble have any unintended side-effects? The Hills guy told us at a lunch talk the other day that n/d, their prescription cancer diet, is low carb because cancer feeds off of carbs. Lower the carbs, starve the cancer. So why not just use a low-carb diet all the time? It won't keep cancer from occurring, but if you never give it carbs to grow on in the first place.... But oh, carbs are cheap, protein is expensive.

This is my last point, I swear. This recall is coming from a breakdown in quality control somewhere. Perhaps not in the manufacturing plant, as they clearly didn't know to be testing for this toxin since they didn't even know what the toxin was. The breakdown came early on, when someone decided that importing pet food ingredients from China was safe, despite the fact the both of the toxins they've found are illegal for use in U.S. food production. Pets need nutrients, not ingredients.... but some ingredients have toxins from fertilizers and pesticides... Maybe Winnie doesn't need organic chicken, and maybe I'm buying her food for my own piece of mind. But at the beginning of all this, Hills' and IAMS' defenders kept insisting that this sort of thing could happen to any company, big or small. Now that they know what this is, I can say that it couldn't have happened to those companies who practice their quality control at the beginning of production- utilizing pesticide-free grains grown in the U.S.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Oh geez

New pet food recall news... Perhaps not aminopterin, but a fertilizer called melanine is causing the deaths.... (via CNN)


Shiza. How much stuff is in pet food that shouldn't be there?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Traffic

Something odd has happened in the past 2 days to our traffic on this blog, as shown by our hit counter on the left here. It seems that since my first LA post mentioned lots of famous cars, and since I linked to some images I found on google images, now this blog is the place to go for some people searching google images for those car pictures that are hosted on another site. Make sense? Me neither because if you do a search for Porsche 911 on google images you do get the picture I used but thats not us.

So what do we do? Well for one we are suddenly making money via our Google Ads on the left. Not much but enough that I though I would sell out and stick an ad box on the top of the page too. Sure I might be whoring us out, but you do need a "Sleep Diary" don't you? (thats what's up now anyway) Clicking on one of those adds is extra valuable because it cranks up our page CTR or Cost Per 1000 impressions that calculates our value.

If things die down again I will remove it, but its worth an experiment I think. Did I mention I saw an Austin Martin DB9 today?

They killed my car...

EDIT AND UPDATE: Via AutoBlog the photo on left is PhotoShopped to a degree. So there is still hope!

The Subaru Impreza WRX has never been about good looks really. You can leave that to a BMW 3 series or what ever. Its been about the blistered fenders, the aggressive stance, the corner crazy 4 wheel drive, and the near functional rally racer appeal of the thing. Thats why I have always liked the look and feel of them any way. Well now the 08' model is out (left) and what an ugly freaking car. And boring too. Its like a Mazda 3 that had a happy meal. Ug.

So, until they fix what they hath wrought, I will stick to my 2004 WRX (with the low scoop and spoiler). Here she be:



EDIT: Or to be practical the RS model that loses the turbo (along with 65 horses and the hood scoop) and several points from your insurance premium as well. Lighter on gas too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Weather

It was strange weather on Tuesday here, quite windy with some clouds. I did not think much of it but apparently when that happens here, its national news! I saw this on my Yahoo front page this morning. I think some one moving to Minneapolis from LA would be more struck by the inconsistency and variety of the weather there rather than the cold. Or at least thats how I feel coming the otherway. Its not the warm weather, its the consistency!

There was a pool behind me...

Well I wanted to post a photo of my self on top of a hip LA rooftop bar we were at tonight but I can't find the stupid USB cable so you will just have to trust me! Cool place that was almost completely outside. But not in a MN way where everything is plastic and tied down. More like carpet and couches, just outside. We were able to start up a conversation with a random LA architect and his designer friend from the Netherlands and then some random dude and his lady friend. They sat down next to us and chatted us up about LA food for 1/2 hr or more in a kind of odd ball way that left us laughing for a while after. Kind of, what just happened?Cletus put it this way, "In LA, every one is working to get heard." After that we went to China town to a Bar/Art School (yes that is what it is) where I ran into some people I had met earlier in the week.

We also did some serious business work today, lunch with a developer that Cletus is interested in working with. Cool guy and possible deals down the road with. I mostly just observed, its not a lunch conversation I normally have!

The Getty trip got put off until tomorrow or Friday, but that is OK because Megan's Cousin is the Sr. Project Coordinator of Performing Arts there, a fact that I did not know until this evening! (Hello if you are reading this Sarah!). Hopefully we will be able to connect before I jet back on Monday.

Thats all for now, LA is a city for the morning even though I stay up late! Bed time for me.

Beware

Be careful letting your dog hang out at vet school until all hours.... she might end up getting lei'd....





(notice in the last two pictures that my study carrel, #80, is so messy that I actually had to move into my neighbor's carrel, #81, to use my microscope last night... that's pretty bad)

Because you have all been asking....

How is LA? What have I been doing? Well so much that it has been impossible to get some time to write. I won't write an over long anything but here is a short bit of it. We just got back from (more!) sushi with Amy and Cletus after a walk down the street in LA. My car craziness is getting more under control already, and things are more normal than I first saw, sort of. Everything just depends on where you are in LA. But then again, that seems to be true for everything. People, houses, trees, you name it. LA is like many small cities collected around each other. So you kind of just make your own.

I have been very happy to get some serious artistic stimulation so far. So far we have attended a panel about artists and money where a strange group of an artist, a financial planer/art hedge fund lady, a dealer, and a lawyer all said their piece. Very interesting. And today I sat in on Cletus's grad class and realized how much I missed that kind of discussion and debate about art and ideas.

The rest of the day Cletus and I went on a driving tour of LA. Yes I did see the Hollywood sign and yes I have a photo.

Thats all I got in me today. Tomorrow is the Getty, that should be great!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

my only experience with LA...

.. is this video that our professors like to use as an example of "why we need to pay attention in our large animal classes, even if we don't want to work with cows."

Monday, March 26, 2007

not much to write

so a picture shall do... this is pretty much what this week is about...


I bought Winnie an ice cream today, and took her for her first run on her WalkyDog (the bike attachment that lets her run alongside it). She went through her usual progression of being scared of the bike, to wanting to herd the bike, to forgetting about the bike because she was having too much fun running. She is tuckered, and out of shape! We'll both try to get more exercise now that the weather is more conducive to enjoying the outdoors.

New Phone

While I love my little pop up samsung I have now from Bjorn, but the 2 year Verizon contract ended yesterday so today we bought new phones. We had settled on three LG VX-5300's but I checked Verizon's page 1 last time and there was the phone I wanted. Its another Samsung, the U540 clamshell. It has a better camera, 3G capability if Minneapolis ever gets it, a music player, removable memory, and it is under 3 oz. I think it looks great too, and I love the clock on the front. Sight unseen though, I hope its good!

LA here I am!

Well here I am, over 24 hours in Los Angeles. So far it has been how do you say, ridiculous? Day one was was drinks and then sushi and then bed. I landed here at 9:10 PM right on time after a great flight from MPLS. Today started out by going to brunch with Cletus's friends by the beach, exploring the beach a bit, and then going off to visit a house Cletus is working on in the hills here. Quite a spectacular project I think, a house that is worthy of the views its windows take in. Then off to another party overlooking the beach, and so on. Ridiculous? certainly. Fun? Absolutely.

Also, my initial and overwhelming first impression of LA is what I call car porn. I'm going to get linky because to post pictures would be too much. For example, what I consider to be a fantastic car, the BMW 335i is an entry level car here. Consider it an Honda Accord in Minneapolis terms. Then when you start getting good you get a Mercades R230 that I rode in today, then thats ok because when you start turning heads you want a Lamborghini, and in my personal opinion, the only thing that makes my jaw really drop is seeing a Farrari drive by. Oh an some Porsche 911's drove by too. It has been one day, and about the only car that I have not seen is an Enzo. Yes, this all = car. porn. Apparently, my STI (EDIT:better photo) and Evo are not real popular here. I just saw a few today. But thats ok, they are meant for tougher stuff. Snow, gravel and mud are not in high demand here.

Ok, enough gushing about cars. I have been having a great time here. I have been thinking a lot about my future and business and what I need to know to move forward. It is all thought provoking. Tomorrow its off to college where Cletus will be teaching and I will try and unpack some of what I learned today. Its an adventure thats for sure!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

another quick food update

Here's a good list of all the food brands NOT involved in the food recall:

http://petsitusa.com/blog/?p=210

Also, I want to remind everyone to stay smart about all this. I'm seeing a lot of messages like, "My 12 year old dog ate Newmann's Own canned food and died of renal failure in December, so thus that food must have been contaminated." Kidney failure is not super common, but also not unheard of- having a pet go into kidney failure does NOT mean they had to have eaten a tainted food, or that the brand of food they ate caused it. That would be like saying that anyone who came down with vomiting and diarrhea during the E. coli spinach recall must have contracted E. coli.

Second, I see a lot of people vowing to never buy food from any company that has ever associated itself with Menu. Keep in mind that pet food companies determine the recipe of their foods. Natura (the Innova people) uses Menu, but they only use ingredients that came from within the U.S. I find it difficult to believe that the affected companies weren't aware that Menu was finding the cheapest possible ingredients to use in their foods. I also wonder why those companies didn't ask the same question so many are asking now: how cheap must Chinese wheat be to make it economical to import wheat into Kansas?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

caribou

People at the Caribou Coffee in Woodbury talk about three things:

-how much stuff costs (especially houses, and in particular other peoples' houses)
-dieting
-their kids' drama in school ("... and then Susan said that the teacher had been losing students' assignments and claiming that they'd never turned them in! And Brian has been telling me that he's turned everything in but his grade report showed some things missing, so I'm going to take this up with the principal!")

They also like to sit right next to me and say loudly to one another, "Shhhhhhhh! She's studying!" And then talk loudly to each other for the next two hours.

Ah well, somehow I still get more done here than most other places.

Hell Week, take 2

Chris is about an hour away from taking off for his spring break in L.A., and I am starting my hard-core studying for Hell Week number 2. Monday Virology, Wednesday Organology and Genetics, Friday Physiology and Pharmacology. The weekend will be spent preparing for and putting on the Open House, and I may potentially be attending the Malpractice Ball (traditionally a ball for the med students and law students, but this year the vets are invited!) on Saturday. Oh, and Saturday I'm on call for Foal Team.

We will try to check in periodically!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Corgi generosity

Winnie has been unusually generous lately. I'm not sure if she's trying to get something from me, or if she is just a sweety, but it makes for good stories either way.

Yesterday at the park, Win and I were walking by the pond where she swims. She still hadn't gotten up the courage to go in, so she was just tiptoeing around the shore. Suddenly two incredibly athletic black labs came tearing down the hill towards the pond, aiming for a tennis ball that their owner had just launched from one of those Chuck-It ball thrower things. They went right into the water with no apparently change in speed, snatched up the ball, and kept on going right out the other side of the pond. They were there for less than thirty seconds while Winnie watched from the shore. Once it was quiet again, she looked at me, looked into the pond, and started walking along the shoreline. She slowwwwwly stepped into the water- splishsplishsplish- and stretched out as far as she could to grab a long piece of dried-up cattail that was floating on the surface. She dragged it out, plopped it at my feet, and grinned. Aw, my little labrador.

Today, after I got home from school, I was laying on my bed reading. Winnie hopped up and layed next to me for a while, until she spotted a months-old dog treat on my night stand. She looked at me, then at the treat- "Uh, Mom? Mom? Can I have that? Mom? Please? Mom?" So I gave it to her, and she took it to the end of the bed, then turned around, brought it back, and plopped it on my chest. "Here Mom, look what I got you! *grin*" I tried to give it back to her and she wouldn't take it.

What do you think? Sweet puppy, or up to something?

Short history of Formula One

I had heard about this Shell Oil ad a bit ago and now its out. It cost almost $4 Million to make and involved clearing the streets in parts of Rome, NY, Sydney, Hong Kong, Rio and Monaco. Each city features the solo running of a Farrari F1 car each from a different era.

I have embedded the youtube video below, but you should really see it here in larger resolution and with better sound. In 2 min it shows why the rest of the world watches F1.


another food update

The toxin has been identified- aminopterin, a component of rat poison. It's not legal for use in the U.S., and is thought to have come in on wheat imported from China.

I don't think IAMS and Eukanuba are ever going to recover from this.

Food recall information

We are getting a few hits from people searching for information about the pet food recall, so here's a little more information that I've collected (with lots more available at vetcetera)...

The Animal Medical Center of New York offers the following information about cases they've had:
Owners of pets with azotemia [an excess of urea or other nitrogenous wastes in the blood as a result of kidney insufficiency] have been contacted to determine if the pets had eaten the recalled foods. During this time period 143 chemistry profiles were performed and 5% of pets who had a chemistry profile obtained in that time period have been determined to have food-related acute renal failure. At this time, AMC has identified 12 cases of food-related acute renal failure, 8 cats and 4 dogs. Age range was 2-14 years with a mean age of 7.4 years.

Based on this survey, we can provide the following limited information about food-related acute renal failure. All pets had at least one clinical sign of acute renal failure: 75% had anorexia, 50% had polyuria and polydipsia, 50% had vomiting and 50% lethargy. The course of the disease before presentation to AMC ranged from 1 to 60 days. Mean creatinine was 7 mg/dl with a range of 2.1-14.8 mg/dl. Mean BUN was 110 mg/dl with a range of 33-210 mg/dl. Three pets were diagnosed on an out-patient basis. Nine animals were hospitalized of which 3 (2 dogs, 1 cat) died or were euthanized despite treatment. Six were discharged from the hospital. Four of these were discharged with persistent azotemia. Our follow-up time is short and the long-term prognosis is unknown.

Cornell's diagnostic lab is still working on figuring out what the toxin is that's causing this... They posted this a couple of days ago with information for pet owners and vets.

There are still no dry foods included in this recall. If the brand you feed is not on Menu's recall list but you want to be sure they aren't in the recall, check their website. I know that Natura (who makes Innova and California Naturals), Nature's Variety, Timberwolf Organics, Eagle Pack, and Wysong all have statements that they are not involved in the recall.

The extent of the problem still isn't clear...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Yoo funnies

I was inspired by ripped off this Slate.com essay by Dahlia Lithwick to examine John "Bush-can-torture-anybody-including-you" Yoo's logic thusly...

John Yoo:
"I don't see how it can be reasonable to have an absolute prohibition on torture when you don't have an absolute prohibition on killing [in war]."

Or as a young John Yoo said when he was three (he was very bright then too):

"I don't see how it can be reasonable to have an absolute prohibition on allowing me to eat the rest of these cookies when you don't have an absolute prohibition on me staying up past my bed time!"


It's the "greater-power-includes-the-lesser-power analysis" and its hideously stupid. Go read the full article for a better picture.

Spring and temptation

Despite definitely not having the spare time, Winnie and I decided to be members of the real world tonight and enjoy spring! We went to the dog park and Winnie was totally herself, not the slightest hint of the anxiety that made the park so stressful just a month ago. She's re-learned how to avoid dogs she doesn't like and tolerate certain behavior that drives her nuts (like being barked at) without getting upset. We had a great time and Win even went for her first real swim of the year. She got stinky and muddy and covered in dog slobber, which is pretty much her ideal dog park trip. We even ran into the largest herd of corgis I've ever seen, including a litter of puppies! It made me wish we knew Winnie as a puppy... she must have been ridiculously adorable.

After that, we went to the pet store to replace a few of Winnie's toys that have suffered squeeker-ectomies or stuffing-ectomies. She got a new tug rope and a squeeky hedgehog, and she also picked out a cow hoof as a chewy toy, which she promptly buried somewhere in my bedroom. Must remember to check my bed before I go to sleep.

And since the pet store is so close to the bookstore, I gave into temptation.......... I've been waiting for Anne Lamott's new book, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, since I found out about it before Christmas. It was finally released on Tuesday, but I thought I should wait until after Hell Week part 2 so I wouldn't waste valuable studying time reading. My self control is apparently not very strong.

And then, since I was already at the bookstore, and already thinking about how much I love Anne Lamott's writing, I started thinking that I should see if they had another one of her books. I read Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year a couple of years ago, and it's still one of the funniest books I've ever read. So I found it, and, er, bought that too. I'm happy I did though. The first thing I looked for was this story from when she brought her son Sam home from the hospital:
So there we were, me and my feverish little baby, with Pammy and Peg puttering around the house putting things away. I put Sam facedown on my lap and took off his diaper and even his little T-shirt, so he looked very sweet and vulnerable, like a chicken. Right then the kitty ran into the house and straight through the living room into the kitchen, very deliberately keeping her eyes off Sam and me. I was putting petroleum jelly on the thermometer when she tore from the kitchen, back through the living room, and out the front foor, still with her eyes averted, as if she had little blinders on. A minute later, I inserted the thermometer into Sam's rectum. I think it surprised him a little bit, and right at that exact second the kitty tore back into the house and ran up to the couch to check out the new arrival. In the next few seconds, with the kitty's eyes on us, shit began spouting volcanically out of the baby's bum, and I started calling for help. The shit just poured voluminously out of Sam while the kitty looked up at me with total horror and disgust, like "You have got to be kidding, Annie, this one's broken." Like she had put all her trust in me to pick one up at the pound and this was the best I could do.
For the next few hours, she avoided him, as though the image of the shit storm were too painful and disgusting for her to forget, but by that night, she was butting her head against his and licking his ears. We all slept together on the big queen-sized futon in the living room, where it's warmer.

Oh non-required reading, how I love you. I can't wait to start her new book.

Sprung Spring

How is this for the start of spring? I am sitting outside on my back porch with a cup of tea sunning my self along with two bonsai trees and a rabbit. We are all enjoying it tremendously! As we move closer to the lofts, I wonder how we will access the in outdoors while we live in the metropolis. The twin cities area is a very green place, but look at the satellite view of the lofts. Mmmm, post industrial warehouse goodness. Thankfully they restored some of the old parking area right around it to lawn, and the river is not that far away. I guess we will find our own spots in the sun soon!

how I ended up holding a bear

My bear adventure attracted more attention than I thought it would! It was a fun little field trip. It was part of my Large Mammal Seminar course, which is a graduate student course offered by the Fisheries and Wildlife department. We drove up to Cloquet Minnesota to find this bear that some students had radio collared this past August. Apparently she was a pain to trap, and they only got her to go into the barrel trap after cooking some sausages over an open fire right next to the trap, then throwing the grease and sausages inside it.

So anyway... We got up to Cloquet and met the researchers that had been working with this bear. They knew the general location of the den, so we drove as close as we could, then got out and turned on a radio receiver. You take a big antenna and make sweeps baaack and forth, listening to the *beepbeepbeep* coming from the bear's collar. You try to figure out where the beeping is loudest, and walk in whatever direction your antenna is pointing.

We crunched through knee-deep snow, following the person with the receiver, until she got to a place where she was following the signal around in a circle. It didn't look there was a bear den nearby, but sure enough with a little looking, we found a hole in the middle of where we'd been circling. Our researchers enlarged the hole until it was big enough to peek in to. Apparently while bears are hibernating, they don't usually care if there are strange humans peeking into their dens. The researchers found our big bear way in the back of her den, so they decided they'd need to use a dart gun to sedate her instead of the syringe-on-a-stick method that works if the bear is closer. So they did, and waited a while, then peeked back in. Big Bear was out, which allowed the researchers to look behind her and see that she had a yearling cub. They sedated the cub next, and when *that* bear was out, they found another yearling behind him! One more round of sedation and the whole family was snoozing.

Now that the bears were safely sedated, we could start helping out. We helped to pull the two cubs out first, and then looped some ropes around Momma Bear's legs to pull her out. She weighed nearly 200 pounds, so it took lots of people to get her out of the den! The cubs, one male and one female, were born last January. The female weighed about 40 pounds, the male about 50. They'll get kicked out on their own this summer, and Momma will have another litter of cubs this coming January.

We got to work doing what biologists do best- collecting data. We collected hair samples, measured nose-to-tail length, weight, canine tooth length, heart rate, respiration rate, temperature, you name it. We also took some measurements to help estimate how much fat the bears had, which indicates how easy or hard of a year they had. Our bears seemed relatively chubby, especially since they were at the end of their hibernation period, so they probably had a pretty easy year.

After all that, Momma Bear got a new radio collar with a fresh battery, and Little Girl Bear got one too. Little Boy Bear didn't get one, as they only collar female bears. Males do enough wandering that the risk of loosing a collar when a bear leaves your study site is too large to bother putting a collar on them.

Finally, we all took some pictures with Momma and cubs, which is how I ended up holding a bear. Then all the bears got to go back in their den and we tried to replace all the snow we'd had to dig away from the entrance to their den to keep them cozy until they wake up.

Yay for field biology :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This American Life Parody

In celebration of my all time favorite radio show, This American Life making at TV version called, This American Life (hmmm) on Showtime, BoingBoing found a parody of the show done by Kasper Hauser. Go listen! It is spot on.

EDIT I also found video preview at slate.com. It is an intro animation by Chris Ware, another one of my favorite people. Check it out!

Is the "Air Car" almost a reality?

Some readers might remember my previous post about a prototype car that ran on just compressed air. Well it looks like it just took a big step into becoming a reality ... in India. Buisness Week is reporting that "Tata Moters" of India has licensed the French design of the air car for future production. An added bonus for hot places like India, the exhaust of the air car is normal air of course, but it's between 5 and 32˚ F - built in air conditioning! It can go between 135-185 miles before it needs a three minute recharge from a large compressor, or 3-4 hours using the on board.

This would be a great deal for places like India where pollution in the cities is a huge problem. I will be interested to see if they really work in the real world both economically and technologically.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I am an artist!

I just finished my art interview at the lofts and I passed! There are normally 3 people (my friend Derek had 6 people!) but two of them were sick so it was just two of us talking. I told her about my work and showed her my webpage and talked about the apprenticeship and such. I also talked about my commitment to the loft community and to art in St. Paul/Minneapolis in general. In short, I can't wait!

I also got to question the idea that their main art space will be in hallways and entry ways and such since the gallery got converted into dance/movement space. The conversion is fine, they needed and use the space, but there still needs to be a place to show and discuss artwork that is separate from normal life. We need a gallery space that people can enter and partake in the unique rules of a gallery - or choose to ignore and walk past. Both are OK. What we expect in a hallway and what we will accept in a gallery are different! My interviewer responded that none of the hallways would be "public," with the logic that the "public" is people on the street. Thats just not true. The hallways are subject to people coming home and people visiting and just because people have been OKed as "artists" does not mean they are happy with seeing challenging work at all hours of the day - if at all. (Let alone the technical restrictions for sculpture, video, etc..)

What I think would be really invigorating is to have a "lab" gallery that any artist can show work in with out fear of public concerns. Derek's idea was to have a closed room that would be open for installation or more experimental work including "enter at your own risk" type work. Artists will be able to get invaluable feedback on ideas before they go public, and not have to worry about censoring what they are making.

For example, what if Kara Walker (right) were to live in the Lofts? Would her work be appropriate anywhere in the complex right now? No it would not, but she has the entire top half of the Walker devoted to her installation right now!

It would be a huge missed opportunity to gather together such a diverse group of people in once place and then not provide a testing ground for new ideas and new work. The final thing that struck me in my interview discussion, was her response to my space desire was that lots of people had been asking for storage space, and that would probably get priority. The more I thought about this, the more I was stunned. You build a fantastic building, gather hundreds of creative people in once place, and then rather than encouraging them to experiment and push things, you give them hallway space to show art and storage space to store junk. Hallways and storage, two things that virtually every apartment building has.

My Dad had a good idea if worse comes to worse, get some people together and rent a storage space, and then turn it into a mini-gallery like this. But I hope that the management will take into consideration their mission and realize what a great opportunity they would be throwing away.

That said I can not wait to move in. The place seems very open to change, I just want to be involved!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pet food recall

The veterinary community has been all over the big pet food recall announced a few days ago. Menu Foods, a manufacturer of about 50 brands of dog food and 40 brands of cat food, recalled about 60 million cans of wet food and pouches. Some ingredient, possibly wheat gluten used in the gravy of "chunks and gravy"-type foods, may be causing pets to go into acute kidney failure. The problem has the potential to be quite devastating... So far there are 10 confirmed cases, but they were all animals involved in a feeding study. 10 out of 50 animals in the study died- a 20% mortality rate. Yikes. Hopefully this isn't as bad as it sounds like it could be... I would be so sick with guilt if something I fed Winnie killed her. The companies (Iams, Petsmart, etc) seem to be on top of things, paying for treatment of any pets that became ill after eating the recalled food. If you think your pet ate recalled food, CALL YOUR VET to see what he/she recommends, and SAVE THE PACKAGE... Without it, you have no proof your pet ate recalled food, and the food companies may not reimburse you for treatment. It's going to take Nutro and Iams years to recover from this, if they ever do...

What does this say about the pet food industry? I don't really know yet. I choose not to feed Win one of the "big name" foods (Science Diet, Eukanuba, Iams, Purina) mainly because I think they are overpriced for what you get. Corn is definitely digestible, but it's also a really cheap carb source- why would I pay the same price for a corn-based food as for a rice-based food when a) rice is a more expensive carb source and b) rice is more digestible? I honestly just like how Winnie does on Eagle Pack, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. She has a nice coat, good energy, good poops, and she enjoys the food. The main benefit of feeding a big name brand is that their quality control is ridiculously good because when things like this happen, it costs the company a bundle to clean up. But alas, quality control doesn't catch everything I guess. I don't think it says anything about the quality of food these guys make, or that something like this could never happen to super premium brands like Innova, Eagle Pack, etc. I think it's just pure bad luck, like the spinach E. coli outbreak, or the salmonella in peanut butter. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out. Pray for any sick critters who are in the hospital tonight trying to recover from whatever this is.

Totally unrelated to the food recall, this is a fun little toy... The Baby Name Wizard can show you how popular your name has been over the years. "Megan" hit its peak popularity in the 1980's/1990's (thank you The Thorn Birds), while "Chris" was most popular in the early 1960's 1970's 1980's and 1990's. "Winnie" was most popular in the 1890's. "Bjorn", however, has never been among the most popular 1000 names (sorry Bjorn).

(and no, I am not looking at baby names... someone just linked to it on a rabbit forum, I swear!)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

How to hunt bears DNR-style

My Large Mammal seminar class took a field trip today, and got a lesson in hunting bears from the DNR... Considering that I've never seen a bear in the wild before (and no, seeing a Pooh Bear in the wild doesn't count), I was pretty excited. Here's what we learned!

Step 1: Listen for your bear's radio collar signal.


Step 2: When the signal gets strong, try to pick out the den... I swear it's in there!


Step 3: After verifying that there is a bear in there, get your dart gun ready...


Step 4: .... and make Mrs. Bear nice and sleepy...


Step 5: After going to pull out Mrs. Bear and discovering that she's actually Momma Bear, get two more tranquilizers ready for her two yearling cubs. Tranq the babies, wait 10 minutes, re-tranq stubborn awake baby, wait 10 more minutes, and begin extracting bears!


Step 6: Measure stuff!





Step 7: Put a radio collar on Baby Girl Bear so we can see where she goes after Momma kicks her out this spring...


Step 8: Take the obligatory cute bear photo


Step 9: .... and slide everyone snugly back into their den for the last few weeks of hibernation!

New Mattress

Yesterday Megan and I went to target to get some queen sized sheets and last night I got to sleep on the new IKEA mattress for the first time. (Megan is out tranquilizing bears, more on that later) It is this Sultan Forsbaka mattress and right now it is stuffed a little awkwardly directly on top of the futon I have been sleeping on since I moved in here. It is wider and longer than the futon, so the edges just kind of flop off and its a little scrunched at the top and bottom.

But it is quite the improvement already! I slept on it great last night. Some mattresses, usually softer spring ones, make my back really sore in the morning and crack like crazy all the way up my spine. This morning my back was relaxed and crack free! The only problem right now is the mattress wont fully lay down right. It is foam and so came all rolled up like a cigar. It was fun to watch it slowly expand like a sponge in water, It went from 4'' thick to 6 1/4''! But there is still a little curl left that needs to get down. I think if I flip it over it should help. Now if we can only get everything else for 60% off!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bonsai lives

Well my little Bonsai lived through its second winter no problem. It is a white cedar from up north, and so it is used to very harsh boundary water winters, but it is still amazing to me that it can be so small and withstand a harsh winter. It needs it too, with out the rest of going into its hibernation cycle it would eventually become weak and possibly die.

Here is a photo of it today, three days after I dug it out of its winter nest outside my window. The tips of the the uppermost needles got a little burnt, but not nearly as bad as I thought when I dug it out. So much if it was all brown and stiff! Now its all bright green and waxy like it should be. Now it is sunning it self outside in the 40˚ weather but I will bring it inside tonight and let it enjoy the spring time indoors.

It is very nice to have my little tree back. It means spring is here already!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Spring Break!

Yesterday, Chris and I declared it a day off for both of us, and we headed up to the cities for a date day. Chris has spent over a year groaning every time I mention that a) I haven't been to the Walker since the renovation and b) I've never had sushi. So we set out to rectify both of those things in one night. Our initial plan was to go to Fuji-Ya for sushi for lunch, then go to the Walker for the afternoon. We got to Fuji-Ya around 2:10, only to be told that they closed at 2:00. Boo! Their website states that they close at 2:30, but the guy who kicked us out said that they've been closing at 2 for six months now, and that "websites are hard to change." Uh. Okay. So we were disappointed and starving, and had to settle for Subway instead of sushi. We reconvened and decided to go to Ikea to try to make some decisions about our bed, then to the Walker (for free!), then to Fuji-Ya for a late dinner.

The bed question has been a hard one, and since we started looking, I think we've changed our minds on almost everything at least twice. I didn't realize how ridiculously expensive beds are. Yesterday the goal was just to try out some mattresses to narrow our choices down. We did that until we felt overwhelmed and they started all feeling identical. We had pretty much settled on a $250 one that we both agreed was comfortable. We went to peak at the clearance stuff on our way out and found a mattress! Someone had torn open its plastic wrap, so it got a little dirty on one corner... and was marked down from $379 to $150! Ack. What a deal. We hid the clearanced one amongst the giant shelving so that no one would take it, and ran back to the bed department to try it out. We couldn't tell a difference between that one and the one we'd originally decided on, and Chris said that if it costs more, it must be even better, that settled it! So we have a mattress, and got a great deal. It barely fit in my car, and wouldn't have without the help of the nicest guy I've ever met, who helped us figure out how to shove it inside. I'm not sure how we'll get it out, but meh. We have a bed!

After that adventure, we went to the Walker, which was awesome and very refreshing. It's so easy to get stuck in the world of facts and numbers and figures and tables- vet school doesn't offer many creative outlets. I need to remember to turn on the right side of my brain every now and then.

We ended the night where we meant to begin- eating sushi at Fuji-Ya. It was a great first experience. We each got 6 different pieces of sushi, plus miso soup and sake (I'd never had either of those, either). For the first time this week, my brain finally quit worrying about tests or what I should have been working on or what's coming up next week. What a relaxing, refreshing experience. I also had my first encounter with wasabi... wow. I don't think my face has ever felt quite like that before. Alas, Chris' favorite piece of sushi was my least favorite, but we both loved the ahi tuna and the ebi (shrimp).

We left Fuji-Ya to pick up Winnie at my house, then drove back down to Northfield with mattress and puppy squished together in the back seat. A very good day off :-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Open House invitation

I'd like to invite everyone to the College of Vet Med's Open House on Sunday, April 1st from 11 AM to 4 PM. The entire first year class is enslaved volunteers to put it on. Basically, it's our main opportunity as a school to interact with the rest of the world and show everyone what we do here. There's plenty to see and do even if you don't have any pets. You can...
  • visit vendors and get lots of free stuff for your pets, like samples of food and treats, and for yourself, like pens (who doesn't love pens?) and candy
  • learn about local animal organizations, trainers, stores, rescues, etc
  • buy some lunch, shirts, coffee mugs, and more to help support student organizations
  • visit the fistulated cow and pet cute critters like goats and horses at the petting zoo
  • tour the hospital and meet Hercules, the blood donor Belgian
  • visit meeeeee at the Holistic Club table and buy some homemade all-natural dog cookies so that we can afford to put on our acupuncture wetlab
  • visit the first-year lab and study carrels and see where I spend most of my life, plus check out cool demos and microscope-tastic displays
  • see how far they've gotten on the new Equine Center and visit the renovated Dairy-Barn- turned-classrooms
  • listen to lectures about how to get into vet school and what life here is like
  • tour the Raptor Center and see demos with their birds
I hope to see some of you there!

Recovery

Spring Break is here! I still haven't really felt that weight-off-the-shoulders feeling that break usually brings, possibly because I am still anxiously waiting for the grades to come in. I found out yesterday that I got a B on my Immunology final, which is awesome. I think I will still end up with a C for the class, but it will be the hardest-earned C I've ever gotten (actually, it will be the first C I've ever gotten, but they say it has to happen sometime in vet school- may as well get it out of the way now!). So, B for Immuno, A for Organology. Still waiting on Physiology and Pharmacology.

Yesterday I got to go to the zoo! One other student and I got to follow the vets on their zoo rounds, which they do every Monday morning. I fed crackers to the giraffes as part of their training program and got to see the two adorable baby tamarins. They're bopping around on their own now- still riding on Mom and Dad, but getting off to explore a little too. I also learned what a mountain chicken is. The zoo is going to enlarge the polar bear habitat to make it eight times larger than it is now, so there are lots of questions flying about the design of the habitat. It sounds like things are pretty well set, but I'm not sure when construction is going to start. Anyway, it was weird going to school during break, but totally worth it!

Next week we have it easy, but the week after is Hell Week 2. This time it's Virology, Genetics, Physiology, and Pharmacology exams. Genetics is thankfully a take-home exam, and it's already in hand, so hopefully I'll finish that this week so I won't have to worry about it. After that, the semester should be all downhill! We go back to one or two exams per week, and we start our Clinical Skills internships in local clinics. The first and second years have an extra three weeks after the normal school year ends at the beginning of May, where we'll take Behavior Core (one solid week of Behavior, wee!), do our internships, and have a few scattered Professional Skills and Animal Populations lectures. Then summer! It's not quite in sight yet, but it's coming...

Winnie is shedding like mad, and she seems happy that the sun is getting warmer. We've been taking her on walks through downtown Northfield to get her used to being a city dog. She doesn't like strangers petting her unless they give her a cookie first, so we're getting used to carrying cookies wherever we go. Her Gentle Leader also helps to keep her calm and focused around lots of people- it's a great tool for an anxious puppy. What will she think of living on University Avenue? Only 49 days away...

Larsen

Job update: I have been talking to Larsen for the past week or so, showing people my web page and such. Today I got word of the position that would be available for me to apply to and it sounds great. "Interactive Developer Internship." Very challenging, but I would no doubt learn a whole lot, and it's paid. Hours and time commitment flexible.

The challenge comes in here. Their ideal developer intern would have the ablity to hand code XHTML & CSS , a "keen eye" for design - however this is not a design position, "Proficiency with the basics of programming theory and logic". They also would like experence in AJAX, PHP/mySQL, and ActionScript and Object Orented Programing. Of those things, I am very strong in the ActionScript and design, medium on the programing theory and logic, and am out of date on all the rest.

Lets see, I might start here...

Monday, March 12, 2007

LA here I come!

Leave saturday March 24th and return monday April 2nd. Stay tuned!

Dogs and humans adendum

Just to clarify before I move on about the last post. The actual article about wolves/dogs was just a starting point that seemed like a striking metaphor to me. And it helps put me in the mind set of some one like Sean Hannity or Dick Cheney when they say that criticizing the war is physically causing us to loose. Their "alpha" vision of the US was part of the intellectual basis for the invasion in the first place, and part of their deep loathing for everything Clinton.

Watch for my upcoming book in hardcover...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Of dogs and humans

Back to this article Megan posted about dominance theory in dogs. I thought it was interesting how easy the wolf pack dominance idea is to believe because it fits right into some major human mythos: wolves and the alpha male. I see political correlation here too especially with what he actually found, compared the alpha male myth. Follow along...

Alpha male myth: You will dominate others by physically subjugating them to your will. Physical weakness, or the perception of physical weakness will result in your down fall.

Now compare that to these key points on how a group of dogs actually work when observed by Frank Beach.

• "Alpha" does not mean physically dominant. It means "in control of resources." Many, many alpha dogs are too small or too physically frail to physically dominate. But they have earned the right to control the valued resources.
• Middle-ranked animals squabble. They are insecure in their positions and want to advance over other middle-ranked animals
• A small minority of "alpha" dogs assumed their position by bullying and force. Those that did were quickly deposed.

Why is this political? Because I see the alpha male myth projected as US policy right now. The US is attempting to subjugate others to our will by bullying and force and the world is responding by rejecting us as their leader. And right wing pundits and our current US president are all saying we are loosing in part because we are being perceived as week by our enemies thanks to the questions of domestic critics. (I like the term The Green Lantern theory of geopolitics). Here is a nauseating clip of Sean Hannity with a perfect example from this week with the first 1:30 being the prime vitriol. (via C&L)

This is the foolish and dangerous thinking. The US is being perceived as week right now because we are fighting someone we never had to fight. Doing that alone was a sign of weakness, not a sign of strength. World politics is far more complicated than the physiology of a pack of dogs, but I believe that the alpha male myth is central to understanding the US conservative movement right now. And I think that the fact that it is not even true speaks volumes.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I'm aliiiiiiiiiive!

So the past week or so is a fog, but I know that the last time I was aware of the outdoors, we were getting the biggest snowstorm in 10 years, and today it felt like spring. Wee! I saw a whole flock of robins, and saw two bald eagles flirting in the skies over the bluffs in St. Paul.

Will write more when my brain works again.

iBook state 2

Alright I ran some hardware tests and everything checked out OK. So I started googling and loooook what I found. This is not an isolated issue and it is the airport.

Here is the Apple Support discussion about it, and here is a great thread on macosxhints.com.

Long story short, here is the edited version of the kernal panic (aka huge catastrophic crash) log:

Thu Mar 8 22:40:18 2007
panic(cpu 0 caller 0x000A8800): Uncorrectable machine check:

Kernel loadable modules in backtrace (with dependencies):
com.apple.iokit.AppleAirPort2(405.1)@0x684000
dependency: com.apple.iokit.IONetworkingFamily(1.5.0)@0x5b1000
dependency: com.apple.iokit.IOPCIFamily(1.7)@0x45f000


See that? Airport with 405.1 driver. I have been using this comp with out airport on for over an hour and things are going great. So the fix? Well its an evolving situation with the discussion happening right now. Apple has not addressed the issue, but they are going to be sued about it soon for a fix.

There are two theories, first its a pure software issue with the interaction of the Airport and certain wireless base stations brought about by the 10.4.8 upgrade. That would be great because you can fix software really easy.

The second says that the card's connection is bad, and that opening up the computer and fixing that is the solution.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

iBook: State 1

As im working on this iBook, I can go off the baseline of what I paid $125 for.

Right now it is quite unstable, as I have had 2 kernel panics and 3 crashes tonight alone. It is also dropping the internet connection randomly, leading me to think that this is not a harddrive problem but an issue with the airport card. Hopefully replacing it might make things better.

I will keep you updated!

iBook

I just bought a 1.33 GHZ ibook with 512 RAM and a 40GB hard drive for $125. It is sitting right here and looks great.

Of course there is a catch, it has possible hard drive issues. If the previous owner loaded too much stuff on it, it would kernel panic like crazy.

But I found this computer online here for $700, and a new (and larger) hard drive for it should cost around $50, I think that is a fantastic deal.

My parents have been looking for a good laptop to bring to the cabin so they can use the city wide wi-fi that GrandMarais has set up now. If I can get this working good this might be it! Or I might just have to keep it if I like it just too much...

Phun with Pharm

Haha... we all know about the "fight or flight" response, but I didn't know that the opposite response is "rest and digest". Makes sense I suppose.

Okay, that's probably only funny to me. Um.... here:



That might not be funny to anyone else either, but I do know that both Dee and I had to leave class yesterday because it made us laugh so hard.

*snerk* it's midterms.....

Cesar Millan, Marriage Counselor

(see post below first)


The Dog Whisperer

Yesterday at the Behavior Club meeting, one of the 4th year students on the behavior rotation gave a great overview of Cesar Milan ("The Dog Whisperer") and why his training methods are severely outdated and potentially dangerous. He is viewed by animal behaviorists and professional dog trainers as the Dr. Phil of dog training- his "training" may make for good TV, but is not the way things work in the real world. I've never actually seen the show, but had heard a lot about it. Basically, he uses very outdated "dominance theory" methods to physically force dogs to do things they don't want to do. Dominance theory states that we are our dog's "alpha dog", and to maintain our alpha status, we must treat our dogs as alpha wolves treat subordinates in the wild. This quote from an article about dominance theory sums it up nicely:
So what's the truth? The truth is dogs aren't wolves. Honestly, when you take into account the number of generations past, saying "I want to learn how to interact with my dog so I'll learn from the wolves" makes about as much sense as saying, "I want to improve my parenting -- let's see how the chimps do it!"

The point is that a) dominance theory is old and doesn't really apply to dogs anyway, and b) humans are theoretically smarter than dogs- why should we have to use physical force to get them to do what we want?

I found a YouTube video clip of Cesar's show, and then a clip of how to use desensitization and positive reinforcement instead... The dog in the first video is clearly terrified (note the profuse drooling). He may have gotten him to walk on shiny floors in a matter of minutes, but at what cost? And if he'd attempted that with a dog who had aggression issues, he definitely would have been bitten. Not the best method for dog or trainer. It is a brute force, quick fix method- no "whispering" involved.





Okay, back to work. Spring break is almost here!!

Chris's Addendum:

I think this is the money quote from the behaviorist article Megan linked too:
Millan's techniques are almost exclusively based on two techniques: Flooding and positive punishment. In flooding, an animal is exposed to a fear (or aggression) evoking stimulus and prevented from leaving the situation, until it stops reacting. To take a human example: arachnophobia would be treated by locking a person into a closet, releasing hundreds of spiders into that closet, and keeping the door shut until the person stops reacting. The person might be cured by that, but also might be severely disturbed and would have gone through an excessive amount of stress.

P.S after watching the "dog whisper" I think he would be far closer to the Dr. Laura than Dr. Phil. Down right damaging to their viewers.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Another hilarious car mod production truck

I was going to add another auto-mod to my list of cars that make me laugh all the way home but I can't because this is far worse. At the same intersection where I saw the spinning rims on a ford windstar I saw a huge bright orange pickup with an even larger spoiler wing on the back, and a ridiculous hood scoop on the front. It looked so dumb and pointless that I laughed all the way home. Now you have a pickup truck with mod that renders it useless, and a fake pig nose on front.

Not knowing that you could even buy such a stupid thing as a spoiler for your pickup truck I did some googling and found out that this was not a mod. It is in fact a $32,000 "Dodge Ram Daytona" pickup truck that has a whole bunch of NASCAR tie-ins and such. There is a whole subculture who likes this bit of marketing buffoonery.

America can be is a silly place...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I shall be famous

I should be studying, but....

http://www.studentdoctor.net/diary

Click "Veterinary"... there I am! There is only one other veterinary writer, so I thought they could use me. I spent most of last year browsing vet blogs like mad to figure out what school is like, get tips for applying and interviewing, etc, so I wanted to give a little back. The other author has been writing since 2004 and has had over 20,000 views....!! That's a big audience.

Poor Pooh- I brought her to school yesterday and she made a new dogfriend (Pete the chocolate lab), and they played until almost 1 AM while Pete's owner and I studied. I don't think I've seen her this tired since we came back from our first camping trip with her. I keep asking her if she wants to play, and I'm getting some serious corgi stink-eye in return. Oh well- a tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy :)

Tunnel and light

Well the glow of seeing the future (and it is good) has faded back into the weekend and the rest of the week is plowing on. Megan is in what I think anyone would call "hell week" in which they subject students to an obscene amount of tests. Last semester as a bench mark, they would have about one big hard test a week that they would study for all week and then take it on monday. This week all the first years get to take such 4 tests in the course of 5 days. I was with Megan this weekend so I got to help her study for Immunology, and I had a hard time just reading the flash cards!The Hypocoxilaxonmetathetabetawakawaka releases IgM, but not IgG. Duh! And then the test comes and they chose the most specific part of some random topic and test you on that and you just fill in A,B,C, or D.

Monday was Immunology, an today is Organology (not that kind) and who knows whats next. I think I mentioned it before, but this semester of Vet school has 32 credits in it. By comparison that would be taking a load of 8 at St. Olaf, but you have to get a note signed by the dean to max out at 5 at Olaf!

The U of M goes on spring break at the end of this week though, so Megan has to just keep her head down and plow ahead until then. In celebration of the the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel-not-being-a-train, here is a picture of Winnie running through her "fort winnie" as it was dubbed. It all started when I wanted to play in the snow and make a Quinzhee - basically a simple snow shelter that I wanted to make winter camping a few years back but there wasn't enough show. Long story short, I didn't make it high enough or have enough time to dig it out so I made a tunnel through it for Winnie. She thought it was funny.

As for me, I am still slogging away at my web page. It will be done soon I promise! It has been my sole focus for the past few weeks, and I want to get it up and done really badly! There is lots of video fun on there, it is really quite comprehensive of everything I have done.

hell week haiku


four tests in one week?
and a paper? a quiz? two?
i'll just sleep next week.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Carleton Lofts, here we come!

(This is a co-post from the both Megan and Chris)

Well today was our meeting with the Carleton artist lofts and we signed our lease!!! May 1st for apartment #213 here we come! They are checking with employers but they told us that we did meet all the financial requirements...

...by the skin of our noses.

Boy did we come close to not qualifying! We didn't think we'd have any problems because we were mainly focused on the "maximum income" part- that we couldn't earn more than $37,000 (no problem there). But little did we know there was also a "minimum income" part- we had to make 2 times the amount of rent per month, or $1704. Because they initially in the meeting they didn't include any of my student loan money as income, we appeared to not make the minimum income. After watching our life flash before our eyes, Megan mentioned that financial aid gave money above and beyond tuition for living expenses. Now our rental advisor person decided that that *would* qualify as income, so with that added in, we make a combined amount of $1794 per month... juuuuuuust enough to qualify! Woo hoo.

Then we got to go visit our apartment- not a model, not an apartment with the same layout as ours, but our actual apartment! And it was better than we ever imagined. Click on the slide show below for a pretty good panoramaish set of photos. The camera filled up before I could get all I wanted but I think there are OK.


It was a great day in all, we feel very lucky to have found this place. It is like a dream come true!

-Chris & Megan