Friday, May 29, 2009

Rhubarb pie

I'm not the only one who is making pretty looking food things. This morning Megan made this fantastic Rhubarb pie with ginger. Tart, sweet, and a a little spicy. Yum! I ate 1/4th of it after dinner..

But before that, it deserved some table-photo treatment!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tea Beer

I wanted to share the latest beer to come out of the brew pot. This is a beer that D. and I have been talking about for what might be years, but by the time we got to make it he had moved out of the state! Megan and I are going to visit in July (thanks in part to the previous post) so I can still bring a few to share out there, which is good because I think it is the very best thing we have ever brewed. The main feature was 2 oz of jasmine tea from the Tea Source in St. Paul that was included in the process at several points. I believe that some of the natural yeas that is on the tea got into the beer, giving it a fantastic sour tinge reminiscent of a lambic. That could just be from the Bravarian yeast though. The tea it self provides a wonderful floral backdrop and a dryness that does not normally appear in a beer. Beer is usually bitter, but this contains the plesent astringent quality of green tea.

You can bet this is going into the State Fair this year!

Here is the recipe, for the record:

1 lbs crushed carapils malt for body, foam
3.15 lbs Wheat Malt extract
3.15 lbs Pilzen Extract
.5 lbs light DME

Saaz hops (1 oz @ 3.6 a)

Jasmine tea (2 oz)
heather tips

WYeast - Bravarian wheat

#1 Steep grains at 65-70˚ C for 30 min, remove and sparge
#2 Steep 1 oz tea mix (60% jasime, 40% sencha) while temperature is rising. 70˚ C -> 90ยบ C. Remove and add malts.
# 3 Boil 1 oz saaz for 60 min, chill.
# 4 Brew 1 gallon of strong jasmine tea. Adjuncted with heather tips, and lavender (couldn't help my self. I need to keep the floral lavender/jasmine flavor there!) .6 oz lavender, .4 oz sencha, .1 oz lavender, .3 oz heather tips. Brew for 10 min. Remove tea, then boil briefly.
# 5 mix in boiling tea to chilled wart. Pitch yeast.
#6 6-12 hours later, dry hop with jasmine tea. (I dry hopped right away and it all blew off)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

SVME-Waltham student essay contest

I am happy to announce that Megan won something again! The 2009 Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics-WALTHAM student essay contest, on the subject of "Alternative and Complementary Veterinary Medicine and the Role of Veterinary Regulatory Boards." Megan will receive a a cash prize, and $1,000 for travel and expenses to attend the 2009 American Veterinary Medical Association conference in Seattle Washington this July, (during Megan's 1st vacation block!) as well as a year long membership to the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics. The essay entitled, "Opening the Door: Non-Veterinarians and the Practice of Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine," will be published in an upcoming issue of the SVME newsletter. I will link to it once it is published.

Megan worked very hard on this essay, and we are both really excited that it won! I couldn't find a good image, so I made my own old-school animated corgi GIF. Congratulations!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rotation #2, week one: Critical Care

My second clinical rotation is actually two rotations in one. They decided this year to combine the Emergency and Critical Care rotations into a single two-week block instead of two separate blocks, because so often the animals that come into Emergency end up in the ICU. The two services work so closely that students often end up working on both anyway. Last week, I spent my time on Critical Care.

The Small Animal Intensive Care Unit is a hodge-podge of all sorts of cases. The ICU is where animals go as they are recovering from surgery. It's often where animals who are seen on ER end up as they recover or wait to stabilize enough to go to surgery. The Internal Medicine service often has ICU patients, like when a pet who comes in to be assessed for increased frequency of urination gets diagnosed with diabetes and needs time to get stabilized and started on insulin. The animals in the ICU are usually not far from some sort of impending crisis, which is why they need to be monitored so closely and need to be close to lots of people who can act quickly if something bad happens.

In the past week, I saw my first grand mal seizure in a dog (terrifying). I've learned how to take blood pressures using a Doppler, learned how to set up a CRI (constant rate infusion), watched a classmate remove fluid from a dog's abdomen, and saw my first case of pericardial effusion. I saw a dog who got put on a ventilator to breathe for her after meningitis caused his brain to swell to the point that he lost control of his respirations. We made a lot of sad diagnoses (cancers mostly, or poor outcomes following surgery), but also got to send a lot of our patients home after they made it out of the woods. I helped take care of a litter of kittens post-C-section, and got to send a tiny puppy patient home after he recovered from a pretty major head trauma.

Critical Care is a place where the swing between hopelessness and miracles occurs 10 or 20 times a day. Sometimes all the monitors, tubes, medications, and blood tests seem so invasive and pointless... but then there are cases where your patient looks a hundred times better after receiving a liter of fluids, or that one EKG tells you that your patient is turning the corner, and it all suddenly makes sense.

I'm still not sure that I'm built to handle the wild swings between elation and sadness that come with Critical Care, but I will say that the feeling of getting a hug from a client who gets to take their dog home after five long days in the ICU is worth a million bucks.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

No Comment

In our parking lot, since last night. Click for the full size version. Yes, that is lipstick.

Friday, May 22, 2009


This isn't my original thought, but I really think the Republican party is relying on the belief that those people currently held in Guantanamo bay are literally supervillians with super powers. Flight, X-ray vision, super strength etc. Thus we need to hold them in Guantanamo because it is made of adamantium and as Steve Benen says, "surrounded by sharks with frickn' lasers on their heads."

No, we made Guantanamo from spare parts anyone could find at the Home Depot. And if someone escaped they would escape to Cuba, perhaps one of the safest/sympathetic places they find themselves! Of course the reason they are in cuba on a military base isn't to keep detainees out of America, it was created preciously to keep them out of the American court system.

I have written before about the Green Lantern school of foreign policy. Perhaps this is the Magneto school of detention policy. Watch this (violent) video from X-Men 2 if you don't know what I am talking about. And as if to drive the point home, the RNC has released this web ad, copying the famous "Daisy" ad used against Goldwater in 1964. Who knew that the prisoners in Guantanamo were so dangerous, that they actually have the ability to from a nuclear weapon inside their own bodies, using only the power of their mind. That is the reason we can't have them on US soil!

It all makes sense now.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Megan's KHS 500

Here is Megan's new toy, a KHS 500 road bike! Carbon fork and chain stay, aluminum all the rest. Megan has outgrown her old bike, which will be used as it has been as a comfortable commuter hybrid with fenders, rack, and basket. But, all that weighs almost 40 lbs (with out a backback!) while this one comes in at just above 20. Plus all the benefits of road tires, shifters and brakes. Also known as... much faster!

We took it out to the fair grounds so Megan could get a handle on the very different feel of this bike. It really is like the difference between the Volvo and the Scooby. Everything gives you a much faster response from turning to braking to shifting to accelerating. Perhaps a little less comfortable to ride though! But after a short time riding around, Megan was riding confidently and speedily. I got this photo as we were zooming down a small hill.

Last night we went over to the family bike shop and the bike got a full work over. We added an "interrupter" brake on the handle bars (like my bike) so you can ride upright and still have the rear brake available. It also got a new stem installed so the handlebars are a little closer, and it is better looking too. Today we stopped at freewheel to use our coupon and get Megan a new and much better helmet (not pictured), water bottle cage, saddle pouch, and extra inner tubes. So she is set for a summer of riding!

On our way home on the transit road, Megan kicked it into her highest gear, which is at a ratio that my bike can't reach. I had to spin fast to just keep up! See you out on the trails...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rotation #1: Necropsy

My first rotation as an official fourth year veterinary student is Necropsy- where "all our clients are sad and all our patients are dead," as summed up by one of the pathologists. Necropsy (Latin for "study of the dead") is the animal version of an autopsy (which literally translates to "study of self", which is a little weird... think of it as "study of the dead human"). The Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Lab offers necropsy services to clients of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital as well as to the general public. A necropsy is a thorough examination of a dead animal, including the external anatomy and internal organs. We examine everything grossly (using just our eyes and hands), and then take samples to make histologic slides to examine everything microscopically. Sometimes, depending on the case, we also submit samples to look for bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.

So why exactly do we perform necropsies? There are a few reasons... Sometimes it's just because an animal's owner wants closure about why their animal died. They come home and find the pet dead, or the pet suddenly developed disease and had to be unexpected euthanized. For some people, knowing what happened is an important part of the grieving process.

Sometimes, a veterinarian requests a necropsy because his treatment didn't work, or he recently performed surgery on the animal. In that case, they are looking to see if they did something wrong (did my sutures come loose? did I misdiagnose the disease?). Knowing what went wrong can help improve how they handle cases in the future.

For people with breeding kennels or farmers with herds of animals, a necropsy can help determine if an infectious agent was the cause of death. Knowing that one animal was infected with a certain bacteria or virus can help them change their management protocols, provide treatments to their other animals to keep them from getting sick, or help guide treatment of other sick animals on the farm.

Last, there are the CSI-type cases. I think my neighbor poisoned my dog, or I think the horse you sold me had a congenital defect that caused its death, or my cat died as soon as I switched brands of food so I think the food is toxic. In these cases, we take lots of photos and make sure our notes are extra clear, because it's not unusual for them to end up in court.

Sometimes we can find a cause of death. Sometimes we find evidence of disease, but not necessarily anything that explains why the animal died. And sometimes we come to conclusions like we did today- "We can find no abnormalities in this animal, so clearly it is not dead." A lot of times, death comes without leaving any obvious evidence why- heart rhythm disturbances, electrical abnormalities in the brain, electrolyte problems in the blood... Unfortunately we all too often can't find any particular cause of death.

Aside from necropsies, pathologists also work with biopsy samples, like tumors that have been surgically removed, or diseased tissue, like inflammatory bowel. They are the ones who can tell you what type of tumor that animal had, which has serious implications for the animal's cancer treatment and prognosis.

Overall, I think necropsy has been useful. It's a great review of anatomy, if nothing else. Pathology is also the intersection of clinical science and basic sciences, so we've had to synthesize everything we've learned over the past two years. For example, when we read in the clinical history that a dog has been on prednisone (a steroid) for the past three years, we have to consider what changes that drug would have made in the dog's body (a big liver) and why (because prednisone makes the liver cells prone to storing glycogen). It can be really exciting to make a diagnosis of a strange disease, or to put together a puzzle of how the history, clinical signs, and necropsy findings fit together. But, I'll be glad to move out of the D-Lab and into the hospital, where our patients are alive!

Next rotation, starting Monday, is Emergency and Critical Care.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Democrat Party

Atrios once said that he enjoyed the right-wing pet name for the Democratic party, the "Democrat party" because it acted as a filter. Those who insist on dropping the "ic" from the end, in what I assume is meant as some sort of insult, are simply highlighting their own impolite motives and thus, shouldn't be taken seriously anymore.

Now, behold: GOP, RNC to rebrand Democrats as the “Democrat Socialist Party." The Onion couldn't have done better.

Note that is happening at an extraordinary special session next week, and is 1/3 of the agenda. The other parts are resolutions "rejecting earmarks" and commending themselves for opposing “bailouts and reckless spending bills.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's official

I am actually, truly, for real a fourth year!

I plan to write about rotation #1 soon, but for now, a few pretty photos from the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Racism, not always what you think

As a coincidence, Ta-Nechisi Coats at the Atlantic has great post on the debilitating long term affects of racism and bigotry for those who embrace it. It includes my new favorite joe-the-plumber quote, who we learn has gay friends but they had just better keep their "queer" hands away from his kids.