Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Uh oh

We got our schedule for next semester- it kind of makes me want to cry:

  • Professional Skills IV
  • Veterinary Imaging
  • Reproductive Biology
  • Veterinary Neuropharmacology
  • Clinical Skills IV
  • Surgery, Anesthesia, and Critical Care
  • Diseases of Skin and Adnexa
  • Cardiopulmonary System Disorders
  • Nervous System Disorders
  • Ophthalmology
  • Urinary Systems Disorders
  • Obstetrics
  • Veterinary Clinical Pathology
  • Avian Core
... for a grand total of 32 credits (exactly twice that of a full courseload at St. Olaf). Add onto that the two electives that I want to take (Integrative Medicine and Medical Management of Zoo Animals), and it's up to 35.5 credits. Yikes!


Obama's Shark?

The mood on the Blog-o-sphere can be very separate from the peple that cast primary votes but as a gauge of activist opinion, Obama has had a very very bad week and I would even put out there that he has jumped the shark leaving Hillary an even more clear line to the nomination.

It started with the disaster of inviting anti-gay preacher/singer Donnie McClurkin (whos famous quote is "Gays are trying to kill our children") to sing as his benefit concert and letting him get away with telling the crowd that "God is the only way" to deliver people from Homosexuality. That made people mad. Josh Marshall called it a "flame out" and said "It's been a while since I've seen such a jumble of screw-ups, fumbles and self-inflicted wounds as this Obama-McClurkin pile up."

So now Obama is swinging back by hitting Hillary on her lack of interest on Social Security reform. Which puts him on the wrong side of the issue with virtually the entire Democratic activist base. Again, Talking Points Memo has more. Basically, his idea is ok but he is pushing the idea that Social Security is in "crisis" and that not changing it right now will bankrupt America. This is a fabrication of George Bush's accountants as a few minor tweeks will keep the system solvent for another 60 years - and then some. It was the first major defeat the Democrats handed George Bush after the 04' election. In short one of the stupidest things you could be attacking Hillary for.

So after all that in a matter of days, I knew it was really bad when I saw Duncan Black - the punch line blogger - write this headline about Obama:

Ouch. So the Democratic field is getting less and less interesting for now as Hillary is moving faster and faster towards the nomination.

EDIT: An explanation of why Social Security is fine by former Commissioner of Social Security Robert Ball is here in the Washington Post.

EDIT 2: More proof the dominos are falling. Big time blogger Kevin Drum from Washington Monthly officially puts him self (kinda sorta) in the Hillary camp. He was for Edwards in 04'

Monday, October 29, 2007

Just for fun

I don't always remember that not everyone is aware of what exactly I do all day, or even what classes I'm taking right now, so just for kicks here's a snapshot of my Monday:

8 AM: Bacteriology: day number 2 of of the genus Clostridium, which includes C. botulinum (the causative agent of botulism) and C. tetani (the causative agent of tetanus). We also covered Bacteroides and Fusobacterium, which cause things like foot rot in cattle and sheep and calf diphtheria.

9 AM: Parasitology: continued the section about nematodes, and covered lung worms, tracheal worms, stomach worms, eyeworms, esophageal worms, and gullet worms. You name an organ and a nematode could probably infect it.

10 AM: Small Animal Medicine mini-rotation. I tagged along on a case of a dog with suspected tracheal collapse. Tracheal collapse occurs when the rings of cartilage that make up the trachea go from being nice O-shaped circles to squashed D-shaped rings. She had chronic coughing issues, but only in the middle of the night, and it was productive (she was able to cough up mucous). That isn't too typical of a collapsing trachea, so they took some radiographs and found that she her lungs were mottled instead of nice and clear, which indicates that she has some sort of infection in there. She's coming back tomorrow to have a bronchoscopy done, which is a procedure where they stick a tiny camera down into the bronchi to try and see what's going on, and collect a sample of fluid to look for bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

12 PM: SCAVMA lunch meeting: free Chiptole, and we learned about Heifer International, formerly known as the Heifer Project. I didn't learn much more than I already knew, but it's always cool to see clinicians talk about something non-medicine-related that they're passionate about. The U is going to try to raise $5,000 to purchase an "ark", which is two of every animal that Heifer International supplies. Stay tuned!

1 PM: General Pathology: new section. We just finished the musculoskeletal system, so today was the first day of the alimentary tract. The alimentary tract is basically the gastrointestinal tract plus the mouth and esophagus. So today we learned about cavities, gingival disease, cleft palates, tongue infections, and all the other stuff that can go wrong in the mouth.

3 PM: Pharmacology: day 2 of anti-parasitic agents. Or, "How does Frontline work, anyway?" Not super exciting, but I guess it's important to know. Using a bowl of warm milk to entice a tapeworm out of your gut is not an effective anti-tapeworm measure, by the way- the adult worms aren't motile, so there's no way they could crawl out of your gut into your mouth. Just go get a pill from your doctor!

Sox Win!

Megan and I had the pleasure of getting a little involved in this year's world series as the Red Sox made a clean sweep of the Rockies. It helps when you know a life long Sox fan and they invite you over to watch! (with some studying thrown in for good vet school karma). I liked the reaction to the final *swoosh* of the bat right here - the pitcher Jonathan Papelbon jumped about 3 feet in the air!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fall day

Chris, Winnie, and I had a great fall today. It started out at Boo Bash on Grand Ave to see the grand opening of Urbanimal and check out the doggy costume contest. Hands-down the best costume was a joint effort between a dachshund dressed as a hot dog and his two young owners, dressed as ketchup and mustard. Very cute. We bought our jack-o-lantern pumpkins at Whole Foods and walked a little way down Grand, and then went to my parents' house to pick the last remaining apples on the apple tree.

We ended up at the dog park for a little corgi off-leash time, and... pictures!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

fall haiku

Corgi eats a leaf
Crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch
Crunch crunch crunch gulp hack

Global Warming Time-lapse

One of the major projections of Global Warming is the melting of the polar ice caps. What if it happens far quicker than anyone expected? Well how about this video from NASA. It shows in time lapse the melting that occured this summer that nearly opened the long sought northern passage. This summer saw the lowest ice mass on record, beating out 2005 by an astounding 25%. Here is the video..

Mechanical Aptitude Test

I found this via Auto Blog, a fun and super nerdy Mechanical Aptitude Test. I took it and got an 82%. Everything I knew came from High School Physics with Mr. Bergseid, and that was about my average grade for that class so I guess I am a perpetual "B-" Physics student!

So for anyone out there who does not have to study for a test or two a week, time to get those mind muscles going!

**edit by Megan: I got a 68%. Good thing vets don't have to use physics too often...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Exaust!

Phew! The old exhaust is out of the volvo and the new one is in. Everything from the catalitic converter back including all the hanging hardware. Here is a photo of me with the old and the new side by side. It was very tiring work and I was very lucky to have my Dad working with me for most of the afternoon. The old one was just rust everywhere - we had to cut away the bolts with a grinder and saw apart the rest of it into chunks with a sawzall. Then lift, assemble, and attach the new one.

The car is quieter and it is very nice to get rid of that annoying rattle! The biggest improvement is in performance. Volvos are not known for being fast, but try sticking a cork in the exhaust and see how slow it can get! Now that it has got its flow back, getting onto the freeway is not a painful laborious task. Hopefully it will now be set for winter.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A muddy corgi is a happy corgi

LA burning

This thing in LA has sprung up so fast you could be excused for missing it, but as of now 500,000 people have been evacuated from the area surrounding LA and San Diego in the past two days as fires burn through the tinder dry brush and race up the steep bluffs. To get an idea how dry it is, they have had 2'' of rain in the past year. When I was out there I visited a house that was perched up on top of one of these Santa Monica hills, and you can see how fast these things would go. Here is a photograph of the typical vegetation and the general angle of the terrain. The vegetation is low and dense but with lots of air available. So like the controlled prairie fires we did in Northfield, these things can get amazingly hot and move fast. Faster than you can run.

And perched all throughout the area, at the top of the hills, are rows and rows of houses. And snaking along the tops are miles of narrow roads, so you can see why so many people had to evacuate and how hard that would be to fight. I wonder if this is going to change some things about how houses are built up there. There are codes for earthquake proofing, but how about wild fire?

LA Times has the best reporting on this so far. Go check it out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

How to make 90 vet students uncomfortable:

In one 50-question true/false exam, make only 6 of the answers "false".

The Democratic Field

Alright here is part II of my crystal ball into elections, this time on the Democratic side. (See part one here) Like I said last time the Democratic side is much more boring because as Polling suggests, and I agree, a clear winner has already been chosen...

Hillary Clinton: The one to beat, but no one will. This post by Kevin Drum from the Washington Monthly way back in January hit the nail on the head. Basically, Hillary has been painted as the she-devil with horns and a tail (Google images paints a good mosaic of public feeling). People are supposed to hate her, so that sets her bar really really low. But the thing is, once people see her speak and she turns out to not have devil trimmings and a hammer and sickle tattoo on her forehead - they think, 'hey, she is not so bad after all.' It reminds me of a study done where you show two groups of people the same "average" movie. You tell the first group that it is an amazing movie. You tell the second that the movie is awful. And guess what? The first group goes away upset that the movie was not as good as advertised, and the second group goes away happy because it exceeded their expectations. (Oops, am told I got this wrong. The first group complains loudly that it was not great, and the second kind of thinks it was still a bad movie. Not quite sure what that means for Hillary then.. link)
Hillary is the perfect average movie. Not as bad as you feared but something you don't feel compelled to talk to your friends about.

Barack Obama: The one to upset Hillary, but who won't. Its a sad thing too. I really like Obama and I think he would be a great president. He has been running on his judgment and I think this is the right way to go. No matter what Hillary says about the war (at the time every one thought blah blah), she has clearly shown poor judgment in my opinion. Barack has not, and some one who could see through that amount of muck and mire of beltway group think has my respect. That said, he has been labeled as the "great hope" and the reincarnation of JFK. That is bad news for him, because no one can live up to that. Even if he is great, when people see him they think he should have been 'great-er.' He has also run his campaign frustratingly defensively, making him appear to not really want it enough. VP Obama anyone?

John Edwards: He has been shut out from the start. He has a loyal following and every one keeps saying that he is technically the most progressive candidate who has a chance - if he had a chance. I think he lost this thing in 2004 and he is just re-hashing it. Him and Bill Richardson make up the second tier of candidates.

Bill Richardson: A nice Guy, and the "other" other candidate. He has never been able to separate himself besides the fact that he was a governor once, and he would help get the Hispanic vote.

Chris Dodd: Haven't heard of him? Unless you follow liberal blogs you probably wouldn't, but he has gained some key supporters including Markos Moulitsas-Zuniga of the largest libral blog - Daily Kos. He has also been active in the senate, placing a hold on the retroactive immunity bill for telecoms and threatening to actively filibuster it if that fails. Doomed of course to live in the third tier forever but who has gained credibility and support during this run at least.

Denis Kucinich: "Can't we all just get along? Please?"

Joe Biden: Please stop Joe, you are embarrassing your self.

Mike Gravel: "Everyone else is evil! What are you thinking! Why arn't you asking me any questions! Hey! Hey! Whats going on! Someone?!" ... Seriously when I first saw him I thought he was great, or at least a refreshing angry-uncle character. Unfortunately he doesn't go any deeper that that. Please exit stage right Mike.

...And thats about it. The republicans agree that Hillary has it too, as shown by last nights debate called, "why Hillary 'Marx' Clinton is an anti-American she-devil who will capitulate to islamo-fascism and make everyone die from "hillarycare" comi-socialized medicine." The clearly hate her - and are setting her up for an easy win with a no doubt nasty term after that. Talking Points Memo has a video round up. Preview: Hillary was mentioned 45 times in the hour!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Oh vet school

Nothing like applying Vaseline to the inflamed preputial sheath of a grumpy stallion on a Saturday night...


On the bright side, I'm done done done with clerk duty for the entire year! Not that I don't like large animals, but I like them a lot better when I don't have to poke them, medicate them, or touch their wee-wees. 

EDIT by Chris: I think that post calls for our first ever Unicorn Chaser so here you are: 

Ahhhh isn't that better?

Friday, October 19, 2007

1 Year Blogoversary!

Happy 1 Year Blogoversary to Winnie Loves Us! Yes on October 19th 2006 I posed this "Obligatory first post" along with this photo of Winnie when we first met her. This is all it said:
"Yes, Megan and I have a blog. And a puppy! Named Winnie. She is so cute that we had to make a blog, just for her."

Since then we have written 525 more posts or about a post and a half a day.

Our trackers show some where between 13,171 - 13,424 hits to our page

However much of that traffic has been driven by google images. At some point in April I posed several images (now removed) of all the exotic cars I had been seeing in LA and we saw over 400 hits a day for a week! Who knows why.

We have a lot of content too! I got to be a journalist with the Ham Lake fire this May. It started with this post and continued for 36 more over the course of the fire including one of my favorite posts, "The benefits of forest fire." If you got to the left hand side of the page and see "Labels" we have tried to label every post with a tag, so you can group them together easily. 

This blog was created when Megan and I were apart, and was in large part just to keep in touch with each other but it has grown far beyond that now! Now it keeps us up to date with lots of people, and is a place people come to find out about Vet School or fire or what ever else we have written about. I has connected us with new people, and lets me talk about Politics. So I think we will keep writing! 

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Classroom quotes

One of my classmates yesterday summed up our respiratory pathology lectures pretty nicely with the following quote:
I feel like someone has drilled a hole in my forehead and Arno [our path professor] is pounding as much information as he possibly can into it with a sledgehammer.
That's about right.

Arno- er, Dr. Wunschmann- is a good lecturer, but we counted 74 "ya"s during lecture today. Ya?

A shift in presidential politics

Note: The Comedy Central "Indecision 2008" page hosting these videos is down right now, so if they are grey check back later..

You could almost feel the ground shake on Monday when Stephen Colbert officially announced that he was officially thinking about running for president on the Daily Show with John Stewert. Only he needed a more prestigious show. Watch it here:

Then, 15 minutes later on the same network he found a show prestigious enough to make the announcement - his own...

Now he is running only in one state, and as a Republican AND Democrat, but I still think that all current presidential candidates must be trembling in fear. After all, no one loves America more than Steven Colbert and nothing says "I Love America" like being president.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

AHVMA debriefing

I promised to post about the AHVMA convention last week, but the pathology exam took over until yesterday... so here is my overdue conference blogging!

In one word, the conference was refreshing. We spend so much time in school right now focused on disease processes, bacterial infections, cancer, etc etc etc that it isn't hard to believe that bodies were meant to break down and vets are meant to put them back together. The holistic point of view focuses less on how to fix what breaks, and more on how to help the body fix itself. Obviously that doesn't mean that a holistic-minded vet won't put a broken leg in a cast, or won't prescribe antibiotics for a bacterial infection- but it does mean that he'll also examine the root of the problem, and try to find ways to support the body's intrinsic healing mechanisms.

It was also great to hear such a heavy emphasis placed on nutrition without a corporate name attached to it. Sure, we had our Intro to Nutrition course last year- but any lunchtime seminars outside of our classes are things along the lines of "How do I choose the right food for Fluffy? Sponsored by Purina!" I can't think of any student club that's sponsored a nutrition-related talk recently, probably because it feels like a topic that's covered so often during lunch seminars. Speakers at AHVMA mentioned nutrition in almost every lecture I attended, regardless of whether the topic was nutritionally-oriented or not. It was nice to hear some educated ideas about raw feeding from Dr. Nancy Scanlan, and while I'm still not in the BARF camp, I feel more open to considering raw feeding as appropriate for some dogs. Homemade diets do wonders for some pets, but both homemade and BARF require some big commitments (time-wise and energy-wise) that just aren't practical for most people. Kibble works great for a lot of pets, but remember the importance of feeding whole, real food sometimes too. Rabbit people are good at this, but a lot of dog and cat owners still hold on to the idea that "people food" is bad for their pets. Winnie loves carrots, cheese, berries, yogurt, potatoes, eggs, and pretty much anything that comes off of a breakfast, lunch, or dinner plate. Dogs in particular usually love variety, so mix in some goodies every now and then to keep that kibble interesting and healthy. Want to make your pet's food at home? Use a resource like a veterinary nutritionist or BalanceIt.com to make sure your pet gets all the nutrients s/he needs- because there was also no shortage of horror stories of homemade diets gone wrong at the convention.

Hearing about alternative therapies is always stimulating, whether it be on the "no way, that stuff is ridiculous" side or the "holy crap, you did what with acupuncture?!" side. On my list of things to explore further are acupuncture, chiropractic, and herbal medicine. On my list of "eh, I dunno yet" is homeopathy. Equine people seem to be ahead of the curve with chiropractic in particular, which makes sense- not many other species place such a high demand on their musculoskeletal systems, and while a dog's lameness might go basically unnoticed if it isn't too severe, a rider knows every little bit about his horse's gait and when things are just a little off. Dr. Susan Wynn was quite inspiring with her introductory talk about herbal medicine, but all of the Veterinary Botanical Medicine Association talks were way over my head. Basically, pharmacology is all about getting pure compounds with very specific effects on the body, but herbology is about determining how the huge number of compounds that exist in a particular plant can have therapeutic effects on the body as well. Plants are so incredibly chemically complex that, as Dr. Wynn said, the active ingredient is the plant itself. You can't pick one thing out that's therapeutic, because often the therapeutic effect is dependent on interactions between the compounds rather than the action of one chemical in particular. Alas, it is a field without a ton of research to support it right now, but the body of research is growing. Dr. Wynn's Veterinary Herbal Medicine is the best text available right now for vets, but there are a lot of books in the human medicine field as well.

One of the highlights of the meeting was actually a dinner held after the talks were over. One of the vitamin companies paid for dinner for all of the vet students and techs who were attending, and it ended up being a nice little group of four vet students and four techs. We talked for over two hours about everything from how the techs were utilizing alternative modalities like T-Touch to how students in our class viewed techs. We talked a lot about how techs and vets need mutual respect to function successfully together, and learned about what exactly techs are looking for from their vets and what they think their responsibilities are to their vets. It was very enlightening, and I learned more during that dinner than I have in a year of Professional Skills about how to keep a clinic running smoothly and happily. I also learned that I'll definitely hire a practice manager should I ever own my own clinic. Oh, happy National Vet Tech Week everyone!

I'm sure there's a lot more about the conference that I could say, but I think this post is long enough for now. It was a great experience, and was a little hard to come back to school after it was all done. Hopefully I'll be able to go again next year... Reno 2008, here I come!

The Republican Field

This is my first shot at analyzing the upcoming 2008 elections and doing some ball gazing as to what will happen when nomination time rolls around. First up is the Republican field that is frankly far more interesting than the Democratic because it is muddy with no clear leader. Any one can take this horse race! Some of my conclusions run at odds with current polling but thats the fun right?

Rudy Giuliani - His cronyism and corruption is unmatched, and he believes we are in WW4 with "Isalmo-fascism." I also think 9/11 might have driven him insane. I still give him best odds for the nomination. See this TalkingPointsMemo clip (TPM has been all over his campaign) about him to get a good idea about his campaign. Short version: his advisers are all the ones too crazy and to pro-war to be involved with the current administration.

Mitt Romney - The #2 odds for getting the nomination but the No. 1 phoney candidate. Does anything he say mean anything? Or is it just supposed to sound good and tough. Don't answer that, just watch his latest ad:

Fred Thompson - An ignorant, poor campaigner. He will burn out slowly. The press already hates him and he had to live up to the title of "Reagan II" which is near impossible. He does have some powerful help from the Cheney camp on his team though.

John McCain - Washed up, out of cash, and very confused. Look for him to drop out after early primary losses. Word on the street says he almost did in July.

Ron Paul - Thinks America was better off in 1908 than 2008. Honest old-school Libertarian/States rights candidate. People on the internet are in love with him in large part due to his anti-war/anti-government stance. I think he will do much better than people give him credit for, but he will undoubtedly hit the wall when it counts.

Mike Huckabee
- I can't get a read on Huckabee. He fills out the middle of the field as the most non-notable candidate. A pro-war, anti-abortion, anti-gay, intelligent design, ex-Govoner of Arkansas. Pea soup of southern Republicanism. Look for him to be a wild-card for the nomination.

Sam Brownback (Christian Right), Duncan Hunter (um..), and Tom Tancredo (anti-immigration) Are all way back and have not gotten much attention, and I think it will stay that way.

So thats my take for now. Any thoughts?

College Rankings

St. Olaf has always ranked around 50th in the US News rankings (54th this year), far below Carleton (5th) and Mac (26th). However, the Washington Monthly Magazine a little while ago put out their own version of college rankings that attempts to: "provide a guide not just to what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country." They also include such things as social mobility, research, and service.

Given this as a foundation it is not a surprise that Olaf rises dramatically! Not quite in the top 10, but 12th (PDF) nation wide for Liberal Arts Colleges. Further reinforcing the stereotype that Olaf students graduate, search for meaning in their life and work at an urban non-profit after school program for at-risk students and earn $21k a year. While Carleton grads go to law school and represent big tobacco. (I jest).

College rankings seem to be a big issue now - the Mac president mentioned skipping the US News rankings - and this is an interesting perspective. More please.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Surfacing for a bit...

Rawr. This school thing just keeps coming. I took a Parasitology exam on Wednesday, and Monday it's already time for another Pathology exam. This one covers tumors, disturbances of circulation (or, "doctor, why is my dog's nose bleeding?"), and cardiac pathology. Path is about the complete opposite of the AHVMA conference. I spent last weekend hearing about healing, supporting, promoting the body's own mechanisms of fixing itself... and come back to pathology, which is all about disease, injury, and what happens when things go wrong. *sigh* Path is much less invigorating.

Back to the books for the rest of the weekend- who wants to party with me on Monday night??

**edited to add: On a more positive note, I got an A on both my Bacteriology and Parasitology exams. Wee!


Heh, a pun. No really the volvo needs a new exhaust very badly. It sounds a bit like a cement truck with a loose rock rattling around inside. That is the death rattle of the catalytic converter as the ceramic honey comb inside it that converts Hydrocarbons and NOx to H2O and CO2 (see left) disintegrated about two weeks ago. This has the dual negative effect of being a pollution monster and it plugs up the exhaust going out. So the engine has to work harder and it uses more gas. That in turn produces more pollution. Its a vicious cycle.

On the plus side, I really needed a new system when I bought the car, and that was 17 months and 13k miles ago. And I don't have to worry about being careful removing anything because it is all being replaced. Does any one have a grinder wheel?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Flat is the new shadow

Back to the design of this page -I took my design cue from the new St. Olaf web page with its nearly complete flatness. It is a marked departure from the web 2.0 curvy/shadowy style as shown by the Blogger homepage, the ebay home page, YouTube and well nearly all of the new web.

I think the next evolution of the web is going to see shadows and curves become less dramatic as people get used to the aesthetic. If you look at the new Apple Store for their design compared to an archive of the old store (loads slowly) it shows the trend away from overt to subtle shading and curves.

I have also updated our adds on the right to include image and videos. If they are not too much of a distraction I will keep them up. So far one has sold me, "Jiglu" - an automated tagging service. Look for it right above "Labels" on the right hand side.

UPDATE: Strike 1 for the adds - having to see the face of wingnut Michelle Malkin on the blog even once. Ug.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Live Brew Blogging

UPDATE: 9:19 PM. I am home! We started the cider at about 12:00 and finished at about 8:00 with a set up, lunch, and clean up included. I took this photo with my cell phone and it shows the entire process.

1: Wash and sort the apples. This happens in the way back where you see the cooler.
2: Chop and bin. This happens above the press and grinder in the big white bin in front. near the end, we realized that you didn't really need to chop the apples in half, as the grinder could handle them.
3: Grind them. You can see the garbage disposal to the right of the bin. It was powered with an extension cord with a switch. It was very stable and we used a long stick to mash the apples into the grinder. What came out was just pulp not unlike apple sauce. That pulp plopped into one of those blue buckets.
4: Press. You can see the press one step below the grinder. In this photo it is open but swing it shut and it is ready to go. We ended up using cheese cloth to make the holes smaller because it was just oozing out pulp. It is very hard to use! Physically that is. It does have gears but it is not really geared down, so you just have to crank really hard!
5: Bottle. The bottle is on the far left and it has a funnel with a sieve and cheese cloth to get just the juice into the bottle for fermentation.
6: Trash. Throw the used pulp, now it in a dry woody state, into the trash can.

Then do over! Once you have no apples left, pitch the yeast and put in place the fermentation lock. We ended up with 12 gallons of cider. We are doing 5.5 spiced and 6.5 regular. We are all exhausted but had a great great time. I will let you know how it comes out!

Back in MN!

I am home, and have lots to say about the conference, but for now, I'll just post this interesting thing:

This is the first registered German shepherd, from 1895:

... and a German shepherd today:

Wow. Improvement?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Loud MP3s, too much CCTV, a broken darknet, and whos Beer is it?

I have been mulling some of these things over in separate posts for a bit, so I decided to combine them into one post about the current events of our globe.

Copyright law:
The UK "Performing Rights Society" is suing an auto shop for for £200,000 because while working, the mechanics were playing their radio too loud. Not even a CD, their radio. See, if you play music loud enough for others to hear, and it is outside one room, you need a £30,000 license for "public performance." These people need to be stopped! This is not just a UK issue either, not with the woman from Duluth getting a $220,000 fine for making songs "available" to be shared on Kazaa and the RIAA saying that if you rip a CD to MP3 at all - you are stealing it. Aka every ipod owner is a criminal.

Police Surveillance: Speaking of the UK and Big Brother. In the past decade they have decided to place and pay for Close Circuit cameras every where, flying camera drones, auto speed-trap cameras, and so on. The only problem is, they don't seem to stop crime. I am reminded of something Temple Grandin said in her talk a few weeks ago - people always want the technological fix and ignore the management side of things. Even when good management can often do the trick far easier and for less money. She was referring to people wanting the quick fix for cattle - build me a new facility vs. work with the animals better - but I think it can be true across all sorts of things. In this case, good old police work does far better than dumb CCTV cameras. Even if they can talk back now.

Terror: Again and again. Good PR is more important for the Bush administration than good intelligence. Short version, a private intelligence firm who had penetrated the Darknet of Al Qaeda finds the new Bin Laden tape that was to be shown on 9/11/07. They share it with the Bush administration, who promptly leaks it to the Media. Result? Al Qaeda knows they have been infiltrated and shut down/move their entire network. The President gets to talk about how Iraq and Al Qaeda are the same thing on your TeeVee.

Bonus Question! Why does a private intel firm know more than the CIA? And since when are there private intel firms anyway?

Belgium: Did you know that Belgium, that small European country that exports such wonderful Beer, is in crisis mode and there is a chance it will split into two? The Flemish speaking (and rich) north and the French speaking south (see the white line to the left) are distinct culturally but deeply tied economically. They have been with out a working government for months, but the official word on the break up is still, "no."

The Gig

I am still working in under cover mode, but here is a sneak peak as to what has been going on. FuelLinks.com

I also got my copy of Adobe CS3 in the mail today. Design Premium. Time to get to work. 

Monday, October 08, 2007

Just for fun

Just because... (sorry it is so small). This is an ad for diet dog food.

Freelance fun

With Megan gone for the weekend I have just been cleaning and working on projects. Not much I can talk about yet, but needless to say it was pushing deadlines and burning deep into the midnight oil. Hopefully it was good enough to keep more good things coming. More when I can.

Winnie has settled down into a kind of bi-polar routine. She was despondent and in a really bad mood for the first day. I have been getting her out a lot to keep her distracted

I spoke to Megan who is having a blast at the conference. They are keeping her running from 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM but it involves lots of direct contact with experts in the holistic field and free food! Seriously though, that kind of direct contact and networking is priceless in any field and this certainly seems like a success. I will let her tell more when she gets back on Wed. Well after she takes a test. And then comes home and twitches for a while.

It was also my friend Dave's Birthday yesterday. We had a nice get together at his place. He got a Cuisinart blender/food processor that is quite spiffy. Self serving purchase though, Dave make us some pesto!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Tulsa or bust!

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm flying to Tulsa, OK for the annual convention of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. Four other students from the U of MN will be coming with me. In exchange for free labor from us, the AHVMA is covering our conference registration fees, our hotel, and most of our food. Very good deal :)

So, I will do my best to keep in touch, and will be back in the cities on Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Animal myths part 2

This is the second installment of my "myths" series... We'll see how long I can keep it going!

Myth #4: Giardia comes from beavers.

Every good Boundary Waters camper knows that you don't drink water from anywhere near a beaver dam, lest you contract "beaver fever", or Giardia. Giardia is a protozoan parasite that, in humans, causes GI symptoms like painful gas and diarrhea- not a ton of fun under normal circumstances, but especially not fun when roughing it in the BWCA. Before you go blaming the beavers for giving humans Giardia, though, think again. Giardia doesn't originate from beavers- beavers pick up Giardia from humans. So if humans wouldn't go around pooping near beaver dams, the poor beavers wouldn't get infected in the first place. Beavers don't really get sick from Giardia, so unlike humans, beavers have (and shed) Giardia for a long time. That's the real reason that beavers infected with Giardia are dangerous. The number one source to pick up Giardia today is not beaver-tainted lake water, but daycares and nursing homes.
  • Myth #5: Cats pose a significant risk to pregnant women due to the potential for Toxoplasmosis infection.
Like beavers, cats got blamed for spreading Toxoplasma to humans when it was discovered that they were a host for the parasite, even though there are other sources more likely to spread the parasite to humans. Toxo is a scary disease not for your normal adult human, but for pregnant women. Women infected with the Toxoplasma parasite during pregnancy can pass the parasite on to their unborn baby, who has no immunity to it. It goes on to cause congenital malformations, mental retardation, or blindness in the baby. Toxo can also cause problems in immunocompromised individuals, like people with AIDS. Because cats are the main host for the Toxo parasite, many people now believe that pregnant women should not come in contact with cats, or at least should not handle the cat litter during pregnancy. While the litter thing is a great idea, getting rid of the cat is unnecessary. Even if they have Toxo, cats only shed the parasite for 2 weeks of their entire lives. The major source of Toxo in humans is actually eating undercooked beef, because cows are part of the life cycle of the parasite, too. Somehow human doctors always want to blame the cat (although they are getting better about acknowledging raw meat as another potential source of Toxo). So, be careful around the kitty, but also cook your meat thoroughly!!

No allergies!

Well, the good news is that out of 47 different allergens, I'm not allergic to any of them!

The bad news is, I'm not allergic to any of them. :-/ So now what? Why do my lungs get so angry at night, and when it's cold out?

For now, they are going to treat me as though it's asthma, because that's the most likely explanation. *sigh* I wish I'd come away with a better answer, or at least a more definitive diagnosis. I still don't understand why it's so intermittent.

At least I'm not allergic to any animals...

Allergy test

Wish me luck, everyone- today I head to the doctor for an allergy test to try and figure out why my lungs occasionally decide to close up and I get wheezy. It's pretty easy to control with an albuterol inhaler, but it can be really annoying (and a little scary) when it wakes me up in the middle of the night. The most pressing matter is, what if it's triggered by something animal-related? It might be a bit of "med-student-itis" (the condition in which a medical/veterinary student diagnosis himself with whatever he happens to be studying at the time), but I've heard enough stories about vets who ignore their allergies as mere inconveniences, only to be taken to the ER one day after cat dander throws them into anaphylactic shock.

So, keep your fingers crossed that it's just something environmental! At this point, there's not a lot I can do about limiting my exposure to most animal allergens......

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Night Out With Kevin Kling

Megan and I just got back from the Fitzgerald theatre where we saw Kevin Kling preform some of his works from his new and first book, "The Dog Says How." Both Megan and I have intersected with Kevin a few times, first at a wonderful performance three years ago this Christmas at St. Olaf. Megan and I got rush tickets for a show because we thought we just should because it was free! We ended up sitting 4 rows back and in the middle - directly in front of Kevin Kling. The show was amazing, I think it is the best bit of theatre I ever saw at St. Olaf. He took you up so you were laughing until you were crying, and then moments later crash you down so you were crying for real. Or for joy - it was amazing.

The second connection is his partner, Mary Ludington. At the State Fair juried art show, I saw this print of a horse from down the room and I loved it. Best piece in the show. I took this photo of it assuming that I would never see it again, but then for Christmas I got completely surprised when it showed up under the tree thanks to Megan and lots of helpers :)

Well it turns out that they are partners and live together with their dogs! So at the event tonight we bought not only Kevin's book (as pictured above) but also Mary's book "The Nature of Dogs." We got Kevin to sign his book, but we will have to wait for Mary's.

So anyway, thats the background to the show tonight - and the show was great! Kevin is a natural story teller who moves you around in time and space in ways that connect seemingly random events into a clear picture that is much bigger than any one story. We both thought that it was a little more geared towards the humorous side of his work compared to what we saw at St. Olaf, but that's fine. Some of the stories we had heard before and a few were new but like any good story teller, it is great to hear them re-told in a new light. Its like I said, each time he brings in new details from some other part of his life that makes each old story new again.

The night was highlighted with preformances by The Brass Messengers - a rocking horn band with a kind of Romanian/Gypsy/Brass sound. I liked them a lot!

Monday, October 01, 2007

WLU 2.0!

Alright I think that does it! Winnie Loves Us 2.0 is online. The underlying structure is really quite different. To the technically minded, it changed from a CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to XML (Extensible Markup Language) and I have never worked with XML. It is quite flexible though, once you know where you are. All you have to do is change one element and it changes through out the entire page.

Nerd speak aside, most of the improvements come mostly on our editing side, but you can now see all of our labels now on the left hand side, and the loading speed has much improved.

So what do you think? Is it an improvement? Should I change something? Do you like our new picture?

Blog Update!

In honor of our one year blog-o-versary I decided to redo our blog with the new blogger and leave our old CSS friend behind. But our blog-o-versary is still 19 days away and I am ready to change now! So consider this an early present or if you with, the 500th post shabang!

So for the next few minutes (hopefully not hours) the blog might look a little funny as I tool things over.

EDIT: Still working on customizing the new HTML/XML layout. Quite a fancy set up under there! The basic colors are here though...

Broadband St. Paul

I just posted my complaint about how bad the internet is in the US - and then I find out that just last week the city of St. Paul declared its goal to be “America’s Most Connected City” with fiber coming out of every mailbox. And they want it to be at least partially publicly owned. They did this in a report entitled, "The Broadband Advisort Committee Report on the Future of Broadband in Saint Paul." (PDF) It is a bit dense at 63 pages, so here is the Pioneer Press's piece on the proposal.

Of course Qwest and Comcast, the only two broadband providers avaliable in the city, oppose the idea. Monopolies are always opposed to the idea.

The Cities argument is that right now, Qwest and Comcast control the entire game. If you have Comcast cable you get them defacto as your service provider. With Qwest's DSL at least you get to chose your service provider, but they will always be the underlying pipe that data goes through. What St Paul wants to do is lay a fiber network that private service providers will then use to provide internet access. I am all for it. Fiber is a far better investment in infrastructure than wireless (sorry Minneapolis) and is something that will not be pushed out of date quickly. Fiber is coming through the private sector in the east cost through Verison, but I have not heard of any one talking about it here and why would they? Qwest has their DSL game going and get to charge $50 a month for it. So does Comcast. Why spend the time to lay fiber when you have customers who can't leave?

So I say go for it! Where business fails government should be prepared step in. Especially when it is a visionary proposal like this.