Saturday, April 26, 2008

20 days left

Things to accomplish before summer break:
  • Ophthalmology final exam
  • Canine Massage wetlab
  • Client simulations on the Minneapolis campus
  • Cardiopulmonary Disorders final exam
  • Urinary Systems Disorders final exam
  • Assist in our last surgery (probably a feline spay)
  • Surgery, Anesthesia, and Critical Care final exam
  • Surgery, Anesthesia, and Critical Care lab exam
  • Obstetrics lab
  • Avian Core
  • Integrative Medicine Core
  • Finish clerk duty checkoff list
We also have to register for our third year classes soon... which means we have to make an official decision about what we're going to track. Tracking means choosing an area to specialize in during your third and fourth year studies and rotations. You can choose production animal, equine, small animal, mixed track (a little bit of everything), or interdisciplinary (for things that don't really fit in the other categories, like public health or research). I've been entertaining the idea of tracking mixed for a while, since vets are supposed to graduate feeling somewhat comfortable working on any species presented to them (except for humans, of course). Mixed track is also supposed to prepare you well for board exams, as you'll have had recent experience with all species, so there's less cramming to do.

But alas, I really can't convince myself that I'll ever enjoy working with farm animals- at least, not like I enjoy working with companion animals (and their humans). Besides, while the U of MN has nice equine and production animal programs, it's really renowned for its small animal work. We have the busiest small animal teaching hospital in the country, and it would be a shame to miss out on some of the awesome small animal specialty rotations for the sake of not having to cram for boards. The small animal track also leaves enough room for electives and rotations to squeeze in some small ruminant work (sheep, goats, alpacas, and llamas), which is really the fun part of production animal medicine anyway :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

St. Paul Art Crawl!

The St. Paul Art Crawl 

Friday April 25th
6:00 - 10:00 P.M

Saturday April 26th
2:00 - 10:00 P.M

Sunday April 27th
12:00 - 5:00 P.M 

Yes thats right, the St. Paul Art Crawl is this weekend, well right now in fact, an I am in it! I am showing a remix of 30:1 and Rabbit Logic, so nothing new I am afraid. Stop by any time and say hi. 

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Nestle Purina Leadership Award

Congratulations to Megan for being one of six winners of the "Nestle Purina Leadership Award." The money from this award is gathered from the Purina booth at the Minnesota State Fair and awarded to "sophomore veterinary students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in and out of the classroom." 

They also served up a good buffet dinner for every one, and gave awards to faculty as well. The large majority of awards go to graduating seniors who have shown excellence in a particular area, so it's great that Megan got something this year. Go holistic club!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

PA Election Results

A little gloating, the final difference in PA looks to be between +9.2-10.0 for Clinton compared to my prediction of +8-9. Not bad! More importantly I was right on the money for it doing nothing but giving the Clinton campaign more reason not to quit yet not giving them any of the resources they need to win.

For the record here is the "Math" everyone is talking about. Assume that Hillary wins every remanning primary dramaticly (there are ten) by a whopping 20 points. She would still be behind 53 delegates -1830 to 1883. Then, her only hope is that the remaining 308 "super delegates" back her a full 64%. Then she hits the magic number of 2025. Of course, she is behind by 18 points in North Carolina polls, so she has some work to do in the next two weeks. 

Frankly, she started campaigning as if her life depended on it too late in the game and now every argument and route to victory is based on a combination of "ifs" and "ands." If Florida and Michigan counted. If the popular vote counted. If Obama implodes. If it were a Republican primary. If she had run harder in the small states. If the super delegates come out strong for Hilary. If you only count large/swing/primary states. If she can raise the money. And if only...

Thanks to CNN's magic delegate counter for all its help.

Update: John Stewart telling it like only he can

Monday, April 21, 2008

One year

Today, the class of 2009 started their clinical rotations. They were third years last week, and today they're fourth years.

Which means in exactly one year, I'll be a fourth year.


Heading to Montana

View Larger Map

First, congratulations to David for his fantastic and well deserved career advancement! Unfortunately it takes him westward to Montana for an unknown amount of time and we will sorely miss having him around. But we will be heading out there together in David's Pontiac following the route laid out above. Note that "driving" is a bit of a stretch through North Dakota! We plan on getting from St. Paul to the eastern edge of Montana on day 1, then the rest of the way on day 2. We will spend Saturday hanging around and then I get on the 24hr train early on Sunday through Glacier National Park, and arrive three blocks from home on Monday morning.

So lots of driving and lots of sitting, but I can't wait! Second weekend in May.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

PA primary

Its a bit early to start predicting the outcome of Tuesdays Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, but the general consensus is that Hillary needs to win by 20+ to start really gaining on Obama, 10+ to keep going competitively, and anything approaching an Obama tie or victory would start a real crumbling of her campaign.

So, in the spirit of how this year has gone, I predict Hillary wins by 8-9 points and nothing changes. Just like nothing has changed for months now. Some day this primary will be over right?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Adventure time!

I have been wanting to share this for a long time. It is a short called "Adventure Time" by Pendleton Ward and created for Nickelodeon. I think it's Algebraic!

The Most Unwanted Music

I remember these paintings from the Dia center by Russian artists Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid. Here is a short description for how they came across this idea
Upon emigrating to the United States in 1978, they searched for an American secular religion on par with Marxism, and found it in the psuedo-science of public opinion polling.
They are manifestations of the "Best" and "Worst" paintings as chosen by the public using a general survey. Yes that is George Washington. They show that if we get everything we want, or nothing we want, the end product is equally unsatisfying. What we really want to see is not some list of things together, but something that makes us feel something and want to talk to other people about it. Which of course does make this  a good piece of art, once you know why it was made.  

So when I heard of of these songs they made in 1997, I had to hear it. "The Most Wanted Song," (unavoidably and uncontrollably "liked" by 72 ± 12% of listeners) and the "The Most Unwanted Song" (Fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population will enjoy this ). Of course after listening, I love the most Unwanted song (it is on right now) and I hated the most wanted song. I had to turn it off. Interesting that this is the opposite reaction that the paintings invoke. The popular one is interesting, and the unpopular one is flat. Where in music, the popular one is flat and the unpopular one is dynamic, and hilarious. 

Here is an article describing their work more. They come out of a post-soviet ironic movement that uses tools of mass popular appeal - and somehow making them wrong.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tonight's Democratic debate

The winner in tonight's ABC Democratic debates? John McCain. It was really an appalling display of poor journalism and wall-to-wall  right-wing talking points. Gibson, Stephanopoulos and ABC news in general should be ashamed.

Topics asked: "Small-town" comments, Wright, Weather Underground, Flag-pin/patriotism, Gun control, Affirmative Action, How much should we bomb Iran, how fast should we cut-and-run from Iraq, a no new taxes oath, the capital gains tax, and why are you the most electable.

Things not asked: America in the world, heath care, recession, housing crisis, torture, the environment, education, Afganistan or veterans.

After it was over, the crowd was none too happy. "The crowd is turning on me!" joked Gibson. Sort of. 


Here are some slightly more flattering photos of little Malibu, taken out in the sunshine today...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Wahoo! We successfully spayed Malibu (who I decided looks more like a Panda than a Malibu) today!

She was a bit of a challenge, since she's so little, and she really scared us by getting pale during the surgery over and over. Even the anesthesiologists couldn't figure out what was wrong with her, except that she's a little girl. She lost a bit of blood, but overall the surgery itself was pretty uneventful. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's the day in photo form...

"I don't think I trust you guys..."

Getting nervous before surgery (both me and Malibu)

Look, a uterus! I am smiling, you just can't tell...

Check out those lovely cruciate sutures

Warming up under a heat lamp after surgery

Malibu recovering

Monday, April 14, 2008

Patient #2

We met our second surgery patient today- a tiny little Shih-tzu/poodle cross (or Shitz-a-poo, as it were). Someone brought her to the shelter after witnessing her getting thrown out of a van, poor girl. She's pretty homely, but will probably be lots cuter after her fur grows back in. She is the quintessential lap dog, happy to be in your arms, and a little scared of the rest of the world.
I am the surgeon tomorrow! Wish me luck!!

Edit by Chris: Everything was a success!  The patient is recovering now. More from Megan later. Thats 1 surgery down, a lifetime to go! 

(Image credit to "dive into mark." All images are CC free from Flicker)

Josh Marshall Sounding Bitter

As things in the primary continue to spiral out of control, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has been a steady journalist laying down what has been a tremendous track record for insightful analysis through out this campaign. Well today he wrote this piece on "bittergate" that is just brutal to Hillary Clinton who has been banging the "Obama is elitist" drum relentlessly since Friday. Many pieces like this have been written, but coming from someone like Marshall who is first and foremost an activist for the Democratic party is certainly not a good sign for Hillary. Keep in mind she is trying to win the Democratic nomination first, and she needs movement Democrats to get behind her to do so.

... So speaking for myself I've spent too much time over, what, 15 years now? ... defending both Clintons from similarly ginned up nonsense to have much energy left to help out as they pull the same puffed up outrage act against another Democrat. I guess I'm just not feeling it.

With the Wright business and now with this, the more nuanced version of the Clinton line has been that what 'we' think is not really the point. It's what Republicans will do with it in the fall. And that's a real concern that I definitely have. I won't deny it. I've never thought Obama was a perfect candidate. But as we get deeper into the primary calendar, increasingly so, this 'what the Republicans will do' line has become more of a simulacrum, or a license, if you will, to do what Republicans actually do do. That is to say, to grab for political advantage by peddling stereotypes about Democrats and liberals that are really no less offensive than the ones we're talking about about Americans from small town and rural America.

And seeing Hillary go on about how Obama has contempt for folks in small town America, how he's elitist, well ... no, it's not because I think she's either. I never have. But after seeing her hit unfairly with just the same stuff for years, it just encapsulates the last three-plus months of her campaign which I can only describe as a furious descent into nonsense and self-parody. Part of it makes me want to cry. But at this point all I can really do is laugh.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nice article about holistic medicine

PetConnection had a great article today that echoes the message about holistic medicine that I've been trying to promote through the Holistic Club. Not sure how successful I've been, but I try....

Holistic Care: 22 years in 500 words

By Christie Keith

April 12, 2008

Once upon a time, I had a cat who suffered from flea allergies. He’d been on steroids for ten years, had tumors in his ears, and spent the late summer hairless and covered in scabs.

I was browsing in the book section of a pet supply store, and opened Dr. Pictairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. “We need to look at the whole picture of an illness and find therapies that will work with the whole body – not against it – in the healing process,” I read. “To me, that is what constitutes a true cure. I often use the term ‘holistic’ to describe this approach to medicine. Unlike many who use the word, I do not equate it with ‘natural’, for it is certainly possible to use natural methods such as herbs, vitamins, and exercise but still fail to see the overall picture of what is happening.”

What is needed, he said, “Is an entirely new understanding, not just the substitution of a vitamin for an antibiotic, or a mineral for a hormone.”

I changed my cat’s diet to one of the homemade recipes in Dr. Pitcairn’s book, and he never itched again. Then I switched my other cats, and began an exploration of natural and holistic medicine that’s lasted until today.

Which is why it comes as such a shock to so many of my holistic brethren when I go on one of my semi-patented diatribes against people who won’t do diagnostic testing or use antibiotics. “Christie,” they mutter darkly, “isn’t holistic enough.”

But you know what? I think I’m more holistic than they are. Because holistic isn’t about the substances you use; it’s about how you think.

It’s about looking at the whole animal and his or her whole environment, genetics, and lifestyle. It’s about making the best, most informed decision possible using all available resources, the one that relieves suffering and illness without doing harm. Balancing risk and benefit. Not seeing the animal as a collection of parts, but as a living creature in a dynamic environment.

And no, it’s not always easy, but with practice and knowledge it becomes easier. You learn to stretch your mind and stop mindlessly applying band aids to gaping wounds, be those band aids an herb or an antibiotic. You learn to stop dismissing a modality out of hand just because it doesn’t fit in with your preconceived notions.

Don’t get me wrong. Skepticism is good. In fact, when you start talking to the snake oil salesmen from Big Pharma and the herbal supplement industry, I’d say it’s essential. But knee-jerk skepticism is bad. Making your mind up and shutting out new information, new evidence, and facts you don’t like? Very, very bad.

Herbert Spencer once said, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

That principle works both ways.

*note the Holistic Club's fancy new logo, created by a fantastic local designer- but hey, I'm biased ;-)

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I got this fun little note in my mailbox at school last week:

There weren't any other details, like why I'm getting an award, or whether it's just an award or if it's a scholarship. Not that I'd thumb my nose at an award, but a scholarship would be pretty nice...

I know the top ten percent of the class gets awards, but I also know I'm definitely not in that academic category. So what could it be for? Stay tuned.

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the STI

Ok, I must be a sucker for marketing so I am posting this mostly for my own benefit.

Last March I wrote that that Subaru killed my favorite car with the 2008 impreza redesign but since that post there have been scores of actual people reviewing it saying that it is the best car Subaru has ever made, and after seeing a few base imprezas in the parking lot at work, it really isn't that bad looking in person. It is a Subaru I guess, it is supposed to be ugly! Of course every single car in in this video in just a shell of an STI with over a million bucks of rally parts inside. But look at em go! 

Ok carry on, nothing to see here...

Friday, April 11, 2008


Wow. This is mythic for me. My mentor in College mentioned Dog-Cat-Mouse once but I have never found anything more about it. All I knew was that he was from Colorado. Well, via Cute Overload here he is, Greg Pike now in Bisbee Arizona:

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


As Chris wrote yesterday, our surgery was a success! My group's surgeon did a fantastic job neutering our little puppy, and I think we worked well as a team. It took me a while to get into the swing of things as the anesthetist, and even when I was finally in a groove I was still a little stressed out. Since you need to monitor the patient's parameters every five minutes, it seemed like as soon as I was done checking everything it was already time to check it all again.
The whole process took us about 5 hours, which is significantly longer than it takes real vets to do (usually about half an hour or so). We'll get better with practice and as we gain confidence, I'm sure. Everyone's surgeries went well and all our patients were perky this morning. Hooray!
I finally remembered to bring the camera today... Meet Kiba! Can you believe this little guy was homeless? You can find lots more just like him on Petfinder....

Free fridge

Via BoingBoing is a thought that should seem obvious on a chilly day like today. Your house is heated to 72˚. Your fridge is cooled 38˚ and your freezer is cooled to 15˚. But your refrigerator is sucking in 72˚ air from the kitchen into itself and at great cost cooling it down to keep your food fresh. But meanwhile, it is 32˚ outside and it has been cold for months and months. And in the summer, we are taking cooled air, turning it into colder air, and then exhaust of now hot air is going back into our cooled houses! So why not use some of that free cold outside air in the winter, and vent out that hot air in the summer?

There is one company that does this called Freeaire, but only for walk-in coolers and freezers. They describe it in fewer words:
"But it's in colder climates, where the words "snow", "ice" and "wind-chill factor" are often heard, that the Freeaire has a special talent. It taps into the greatest source of refrigeration ever created: winter. "
More of this please.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Our patient

Our patient: a 12 kilo, 4 month old, fawn and white wiggle-butt male pit bull puppy! One of my classmate's cousins has already asked to adopt him, hooray!

We start at 11 AM tomorrow morning... wish us luck!

EDIT by Chris: Everything went well today! Megan will write more later. 

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Homebrew Cider

Six months later, the cider is out of the carboy and into bottles! We managed to get just shy of 11 gallons complete and into bottles, and split it three ways. Here is a shot of the Subaru hauling the final catch plus all the gear back home. The day was beautiful, 60˚ and sunny. We took our time and since the weather was nice, did the entire process outside. It is nice symmetry too since the day we pressed the apples was the last nice day of fall and yesterday was the first really nice day of spring!

So how dos it taste? Well, great! Or good anyway. I guess we still wont really tell for a few more weeks while it gets a little sparkle and bottle conditioning. But my first impression is that it is very dry with a nice apple flavor. The spiced half is not too overpowering and will be great in the fall (these are long term projects huh). When I made cider last time it always had this odd off flavor that I was worried might repeat again this time, but thankfully it did not.

So was it worth it? 200+ lbs of apples, about 16 hours of work by three people, $90 in equipment, for 114 twelve ounce bottles? Well, sure! Brewing is an irrational pursuit really. It takes forever and it costs a lot. But if you do it with friends and take your time, it can be a very nice way to spend the afternoon.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Surgery worries

As the big surgery day approaches, the second years are getting progressively less tolerant of our course load, exams, and anything that we have to learn that isn't directly clinically applicable. I'm afraid we've become the classic "cranky second years," immersed in the hardest part of vet school where the novelty of having gotten accepted wore off long ago and we're still a year away from starting clinics.
I think that after Tuesday, the anxiety of the first surgery will be out of the way and we'll be a little less grumpy. Until then, forgive us if it seems like we don't love vet school at the moment...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Summer work!

Hooray! I found out today that I got a summer job in a vet clinic! This will be my first ever paid clinic work, and should really help boost my confidence and fill in some holes in my basic clinical skills. I can't wait to be a productive member of a clinic!
Also, I picked up my first cold of the school year. I almost thought I'd make it through the whole school year without getting sick, but it was not to be. Nothing a little sleep won't cure, I hope...
For those of you in the Twin Cities, you're all invited to the U of MN College of Vet Med open house on Sunday, April 6th from 11 AM to 4 PM. It's a great chance to explore the school and hospital, learn about how to get in to vet school and what being a vet student is all about, and meet people from all different aspects of the local animal care community. You can even see one of our fistulated cows, always a highlight! Those of you of the horsey persuasion can check out the new Equine Center too. The CVM open house is held in conjunction with the Raptor Center open house, so you can head across the street, meet some of their resident birds, and take a tour of the facility and clinic. I'll be manning (womaning?) the Holistic Club table again, although sadly since Pipkin developed his head tilt, he won't be joining me this year.
Hope to see lots of you there!

Blog update

Quick update on the Blog. Via our tracking software, we can see that we have become much more popular! After our big spike last April thanks to an odd fluke with with Google images and cars, we settled back to normal by June. But since then we have seen a steady rise in traffic that looks like it will keep going. Where is it coming from? Well, Google images plays a huge part but we also are getting people looking for specific things. If you Google, the benefits of forest fire, post grooming furunculosis or 2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport we are on the top one or two pages. We have been linked to by other blogs that give some traffic too. Most of this is for specific links, not for the blog in general.

It is nice to have people reading our stuff, especially the informational things that are showing up on Google. The benefits from our ads is growing too. When we reach $100 Google will mail us a check. When I started with ads I figured we would never see a dime, I just wanted to see what would show up. A few months ago I had projected getting a check in 2011. But now it looks like it might arrive this August. We have written 670 posts and have had between 23,000 and 25,000 unique visitors depending on the counter.

If you keep reading, we will keep writing! Got to use those liberal arts degrees some place right? 

One more thing, Blogger has a new feature that allows you to schedule blog postings for a future date or time. This should allow for more regularity in posting, not three one day and zero the next. 

Why Hillary is still in-it-to-win-it

There is virtually no mathematical way that Hillary Clinton can win the nomination. Take a look for your self at Slate's Delegate calculator. Move the sliders around to give either candidate a percentage of the vote and it will estimate the number of delegates they will fetch. If Hillary wins every single remaining contest, she still is about 100 delegates short. Of course, she will not win every remaining contest unless someone unearths bodies from Obama's back yard (or even better - his lobbyist connected, NAFTA funded, recently sold adjoining property that is now a neo-black panthers headquarters). So this means she needs the super delegates to break overwhelmingly for her, and right now her lead in pledged super's is down to 30 from over 120 early on. So, why is she vowing to fight on until the convention in August?

Because she believes down to her core that Obama can't win in the general election. So the only way to save the party, is to destroy Obama and take charge of the situation her self. This is an inherently loosing position, one that Mike Ciresi's senate campaign tried to no avail in his contest against Al Fraken here in Minnesota. The general argument is, 'There is no way people will vote for him because he is ________ , so vote for me." Combined with, "You know the Republican war machine will destroy him because of _______. They can't touch me though."

To me, it is a weak and fearful path to take. Any Democrat can lose, just like any Republican can lose. Or win. Every one got behind John Kerry because he was a war hero, and so was "more electable." But he lost because his opponents turned his strength against him, made him into a flip-flopper, and it was over. Its not about what you are, its about how you play it.

I do predict that by the 4th of July Hillary will be out of the race. Her stating that she will be in it until August is just to show her total commitment to the process and her expectation that Obama will live up to her low expectations. But ultimately she just can't do it, will run out of money, and be forced to withdraw. Unless they find the bodies.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport Review

Well we have had the car for a few weeks now so here is my review! The only thing I can't talk about is a long trip, that will have to wait until summer.

We were fortunate enough to have some of the worst weather of the winter hit after we bought the car, and without it I don't think I would have as complete an opinion as I do now. Basically, this car will get you anywhere you want to go. It is built for adversity. It loves adversity! The big fog lamps, the rear window wiper with fluid, big windshield, ABS, and of course the all wheel drive have pushed through all the muck we have gotten this spring without question or complaint. It already saved me from one accident the day we bought it, and that was on slick wet roads. On the Volvo and other rear wheel drive cars, if you turn on a icy road the rear end keeps going in what is called over-steer (top). This can be quite fun in my experience, if you can control it. The Saturn and other front wheel drive cars lose traction on the steering wheels and so can't complete the turn in what is called under-steer (below). This is never fun. My time on ice in the Subaru was that green line on both examples. Just round the curve. The all-wheel drive always has power down on the road somewhere so you always have control of the car. The flat four engine produces a nice range of power on demand and gets you where you want to be when you want to be there. It doesn't have the WRX's turbo boost that throws you back in your seat however. Oh well, I don't need premium gas either.

That all said, it is not a luxury car. The cup holders are poorly thought out. One pops out directly above the center console and the other is quite small in the center arm rest. Stuff sometimes rattles inside and everything is plastic. The shocks are stiff and tall so you can feel every ta-tak ta-tak ta-tak of the road. The sound system was upgraded which is great, but they did not opt for keyless entry or alarm so to open all the doors you have to do it from inside the driver or passenger door. The layout for some of the controls is confusing. Why they made the cruse control and fog lights buttons in a place where you can not see them, right next to each other, and the same shape I will never know (see arrow).
But, none of that matters because the car is just so incredibly solid you really don't care about cosmetics. Everything is about the driving. Those hard shocks might get annoying but they keep you firmly on the road at all times and tell you exactly what is going on under the car. The throaty engine roars to life when asked, and settles down quietly for cruising. The visibility is fantastic thanks to the flat engine that allows for a very low hood making you feel like you are right on top of the road. The back end can haul tons of stuff, and the seats fold down to give you even more room. In short, it is exactly the car I wanted! Look for us in it for a long time to come.