Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to school again

It's almost time to head back to class... Crazy how fast the summer flies by! Here's what's on the docket for this coming semester:
  • Large Animal Practicum (a.k.a. lots of time in the large animal hospital)
  • Small Animal Hospital Practicum
  • Veterinary Imaging II
  • Veterinary Toxicology
  • Clinical Skills V
  • Large Animal Digestive Disorders
  • Small Animal Gastroenterology
  • Musculoskeletal System Diseases
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Multisystemic Diseases
  • Reproductive Diseases of Small Animals
  • Reproductive Diagnostic Techniques
  • Small Animal Reproductive Diagnostic Techniques Lab*
  • Small Ruminant Reproduction
This semester is a mere 24.5 credits, compared to last semester's 36.5, so I've decided to continue my work at the clinic several Saturdays a month. Hooray!
This semester also marks the beginning of 90 weeks of nearly continuous school. After classes start on Tuesday, I'll be in school until May of 2010 with about 10 weeks of break smattered throughout. Eek! Of course, everyone says that third year is better than second, and fourth year is best of all, so I'm looking forward to it.
*Blog tangent: More often than you'd think, the first question that I get from strangers after telling them that I'm a vet student is, "Ewwww, have you ever had to stick your arm up a cow's butt?!" ("arm up a cow's butt" is also one of the more Googled phrases that leads people to our blog) But frankly, I think sticking my arm up a cow's butt performing a bovine rectal exam is far more dignified than the techniques that we will have to learn to perform in Small Animal Repro lab- namely, learning how to "collect" a stud dog for AI. Click on the link at your own discretion (but don't worry, no photos included). *shudder*

EDIT from Chris: Unicorn Chaser needed for that one.

Winnie Loves Weddings

Over at Winnie Loves Weddings

We have a location and We have a date
The wedding one year out. Food tasting and flower picking.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Veeps Revealed!

Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

Of Biden I said before that he was a, "Smart/tough/egg head senator from Delaware who can never gain traction and spent much time defending himself and/or making jokes during the primary. Nice guy, only good in the senate." I still stand by that and in many ways he is a risk. He talks in a folksy stream of consciousness that is prone to gaffs that are killer in today's politics. But, he does know everyone, and has been involved in everything since 1973. So he is a practical choice - he is someone Obama wanted to be his VP when he is president. If he had wanted a political pick, he would have chosen Hillary.

So in the end, Biden leaves Obama strengthened but open to future problems.

Now for Sarah Palin. First off, who the heck is she? She is a 44 year old 1st term governor of Alaska, who has been in office for less than 2 years. Before that, she was the mayor of Wasilla Alaska, pop 8,471. She is clearly, if not exclusively, a political choice. No one knows who she is, and she has zero experience. But, she is a woman who will attract some Hillary voters, and she is a strict pro-life conservative who will assure conservatives that it is OK to vote for McCain. The only exposure she has had at a national level is on the issue of oil and energy (Alaska's main source of income), and the fact that she is young. Here is a web ad made for her last July. She is an amateur.

Palin is an awful pick. McCain would have been wise to chose Tim Pawlenty, who is a dangerous attack dog and cool operator. Palin is inexperienced both in policy and politics and I can't imagine her holding up well under pressure.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More on that Veep

I am eagerly awaiting my text message from the Obama campaign, which has to come sometime before this saturday when they will appear together in Chicago. Since my last VP post the field has narrowed a bit to Sen. Joe Biden from Delaware, Sen. Evan Bayh from Indiana, and Gov Tim Kaine from Virginia. So from my list, one liability, one conflict, and one match.

But what should he do now? Frankly, I have come around to the idea that seemed impossible then, that he should name Hillary as his running mate. Perhaps I have been shaken by the recent drop in polls, and the painful ineffectiveness of the Obama campaign this month, but imagine the bounce in naming Clinton as VP compared to any of the others. Her problem of being a rallying point for republicans is no longer an issue - they have got their hate on against Obama very well on their own. And the general election is turning into a redux of the primary - Change vs Experience. But in the general, change is not sticking as well, so by adding the de-facto name for experience this political cycle to the ticket, it would undercut McCain significantly.

But, I can't see it happening. So I hope it is at least Biden or Kaine, who gets the spot. But then again, who knows!

omigod omigod omigod


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happy Birthday ... to me!

Great birthday week/weekend! Dinner out with siblings, music, drinks, and friends visiting this weekend.

But to follow up with my last post, this is my birthday present to myself! It is a KHS CX200 Cyclocross bike that I intend to race on this coming fall. Aluminum frame, carbon fork, and STI shifters. Along with that, Megan got me clip-less shoes, and T&L got the pedals to go along with it. So I will be clipped in and ready to go! Races start in late September and go to November. L. has been racing Cyclocross for years, so I will be in good company.

What is Cyclocross? Wikipedia says: "
Races take place typically in the autumn and winter, and consists of many laps of a short (2.5–3.5 km or 1.5–2 mile) course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike whilst navigating the obstruction and remount in one motion."
Or as the video said, "a bunch of skinny dorks riding around on road bikes in the dirt." Races are broken into skill categories and that determines how long you ride. In motor sports, my favorite Rally Racing is probably the most comparable. Street cars running really fast in the dirt, mud, snow, and on pavement, compared to road bikes going fast on grass, dirt, mud, and pavement!

A Cyclocross bike is more of a classic road bike frame, so a little larger than a modern road bike, with softer and more grippy tires, and cantilevered brakes. If you swap out the rough tires for skinny road tires, they make perfectly good road bikes too.

Not sure when it gets here, but I can't wait!

Monday, August 11, 2008

So your kid wants to go to vet school

Lately, I've run into a lot of parents who have children aiming to get into vet school. These conversations always lead to the same question- "Do you have any advice?" Oh boy, do I!
Before I start, here's a quick overview of what makes up a vet school application. The first part of the app that schools pay attention to are the "numbers"- undergrad GPA, GRE score, and number of hours of animal experience and veterinary experience. These numbers provide a quick objective filter to weed out applicants who are weak academically or who lack sufficient experience. Next, they examine the subjective portions of the application- the personal statement, letters of recommendation, and the types of animal/veterinary experiences you have. Last, if they like your subjective portions, most schools now invite you for an interview in which they see how well you interact in person. Creating a strong application can start with childhood and high school experiences, so a parent can really influence his or her child's odds of getting in. So, here it is, my patented Guide to Preparing Your Child for Vet School!
First, keep in mind that vet schools care little about what you do academically before undergrad. The VMCAS application asks about honors received in high school, but there are certainly no questions about high school GPA or class rank. Obviously having a decent high school GPA helps your child get into a good college, but a poor performance in high school won't keep them out of vet school.
Next, while vet schools don't care about academics before undergrad, they do count animal experiences obtained before undergrad. Try to help your child get experiences with all sorts of animals, and look for more interesting things than just volunteering in an animal shelter (which nearly every vet school applicant has done). Some options include:
  • Training a dog for therapy work, obedience, or agility
  • Working at a wildlife rehab facility or with a licensed wildlife rehabilitator
  • Horseback riding lessons
  • Anything that gets them close to farm animals (4H/FFA, hanging out at a relative's ranch or dairy, volunteering with a farm animal sanctuary, or working with a therapeutic horseback riding program)
  • Showing any sort of animal (whether conformation-type showing, like dogs, or competition-type showing, like horses)
Veterinary experience hours are essential for a strong application. Even a relatively poor undergrad GPA (around the 3.0 range) can be overshadowed by a large number of hours spent in a vet clinic and a good recommendation from a vet. Most vet students started out by volunteering in a clinic or working as a kennel hand before moving into more hands-on work. This is fine! The important part of veterinary experience is learning how a clinic works and what a vet is responsible for, not necessarily learning how to draw blood or give shots. Because at least one letter of recommendation needs to come from a vet, early experiences in a vet clinic can help begin a relationship with a vet who will know your child well when it comes time to ask for a letter.
Frustratingly, vet schools are starting to demand students that not only have extensive animal and veterinary experience, but also are well-rounded and have extensive experience in things not related to animals at all. Schools want to see that applicants have explored areas outside of veterinary medicine before deciding that vet med was the right career choice. It can start to feel really hard to fit it all in, but it is possible. Don't force your child to focus only on animal-related activities or studies if he/she seems interested in the vet med path, since it may make them a weaker candidate in the end. I tend to suggest that pre-vet students not take a pre-vet major in undergrad, but choose something more broad (like biology) or not even science-related (like music). It's definitely possible to major in something not science-related and still get all your pre-requisites in. And besides, if you get into vet school, you'll be immersed in this stuff the rest of your life. Why not take your undergrad years to explore nordic literature, pottery, or political science?
Last, because most schools are moving towards requiring applicants to interview, encourage your child to participate in anything that will improve communication skills. Speech, debate, drama, or Toastmasters are all good options. Being a receptionist in a vet clinic can kill two birds with one stone!
I hope this little guide helps some parents out there seeking advice for helping their children achieve their goal. Good luck to all of you!

Monday, August 04, 2008

How cute is this?

Added Aug 5th: We took about a 12 mile ride and the trailer rolls nice, but slows me down quite a bit! The entire load is about 50 lbs which makes starting and hills harder, and the wind resistance makes cruising slower. Megan and I normally cruse at around 15 mph (says the GPS taped to the handle bars) but I bet this takes it down to 10-11 and I was really pushing the entire time too. 
Winnie did good, but she doesn't like stopping for stop lights or bumps much, and we need to firm up the bottom because it sags down when she is moving around. We put her harness on and attached that to the top cross bar so she couldn't jump out and that works well. She hates it when Megan gets in front of me because she cant see her, and thus she is 'GONE FOREVER' "bark bark bark." But on smooth trails she was all smiles as we zipped along. 
Look for us to ride up soon! 

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Oh. Boy.

Just bought from Craigslist: for $40, a seemingly never used In-Step Quick-n-Light bike trailer for Winnie. We just took a ride in the rain because we couldn't wait to try it (we were busy all evening) and it rides great behind the Gitane. Winnie seemed a little unsure, but happy all the same. We feel a little dog nerdy but what the heck, it will be fun!