Thursday, June 25, 2009

iPhone 3Gs

So I did it, I got the iPhone. I have been waiting for the 3Gs to come out for a few months, and was on a pre-pay plan during that time, which was kind of strange and slightly limited my feeling of connectivity with the rest of the world. I was still unsure about getting the iPhone almost up until the day I got it. It is an extra $30 a month for data after all, and at $200 for the device itself that is getting expensive.

But I have had it for three days now, and I can see that is going to be easily worth it. I was expecting it to be good, so I am surprised that I am as impressed as I am. It is very fast, acting on most requests instantly. I did not expect that the phone would be better than a normal computer in many respects. For example, looking up things on Google maps feels great on the iPhone. By hitting the little target icon on google maps, it zooms into where you are. Tap it again and it shows you what direction the phone is pointing (and you too if you are holding it). Then to get directions, you either drop a pin icon where you want to go or enter in an address and it draws it for either car, public transit, or walking. It does it all of this as fast or faster than my laptop, with multi-touch flicking you around the map, and all over the 3G connection. Throw in search, and all the free apps that augment google maps, I should never be lost again!

I also was not expecting the GPS to be as functional as it is. I tested it on my ride to work today, and got this map, a little obnoxiously branded with their name, "MotionX GPS." Note that I just stick it in my pocket after hitting "start" and didn't let it sync to the satellites well enough at first, so the elevation is all off for the first .2 miles. I also stopped 1/2 way to try another (inferior) GPS app.

View Larger Map

Then you can take the data and plug it into lots of different web pages. I use to record bike rides, and it displays there just fine. They have an app that uploads directly to their site, but is doesn't capture or show enough data for me. This is another good one, that graphs everything out very cleanly. But my favorite is this one that does a little animation of you riding, so you can see how fast you were going along the way:

Update, I stuck a better trip in here so you can see how it works better

Home from work July 25th 2009

Or click here to see it full size.

I am happy with the camera, but cameras can always be better. Sometimes the photos are blurry and there is no zoom. Here is a sample photo I took of the camera at its best. Winnie was not impressed.

I am very happy with the video, which is quite nice. Here is a video I took showing the loading doc of the Macalester Art Department and the foundry during its summer re-set. I uploaded it to YouTube right from the phone. (Hit HQ for better quality)

The new iPhone software now "pushes" data to the phone, meaning that you don't have to go check a server for new data, it finds you and sends it to your phone immediately. So far, only AOL instant messenger and a free text message software called "TextFree" use it for no charge (SMS users, ask me for my address so I don't have to pay $.20 pr text). I hope gmail can figure out how to use it soon. Right now it automatically checks for you every 15 min, which is good, but push takes seconds.

Thats all for now. The feeling of being totally connected all the time is a little strange and addictive, but I am enjoying it!

Re: Dr Sophia yin on dog training

(note: the photo is Winnie before we took her home when she was super naughty and fluffy!) Not to put a point on disliking Cesar Millan, but one of our neighbors just walked by with her poor pit-bull mix doing full "dominance" training - that had just devolved into obvious physical abuse. I heard the dog crying and yelping about every 5 seconds from outside. It sounded like a broken car, but I looked out to see her taking about 5 steps with the dog on a super short leash, and when he would walk a bit forward (not healing I guess) she would yank on the leash as hard as she could which would often pull the dog up on two legs, yell at it "NO," and sometimes grab the dogs neck in a Cesar style "bite", causing the dog to scream. She had treat bag on her hip, but that was ignored. This continued the whole block, until they got to the grass and he went to the bathroom. The poor dog obviously had no idea what was wrong, what he was supposed to do, was extremely agitated and terrified.

Now Cesar Millan does not endorse that kind of training, he would say, and you can't account for everyone. But when you start off from the point where your main source of coercion is physical control of the animal, these are the kind of results you see in the public. I could tell that this woman was frustrated, and embarrassed by her pet because he was not being "perfect," and barks at other dogs. As a dog owner, I know that it can feel like a reflection on yourself when your dog does something embarrassing. So when Cesar says that these actions are an attempt to control/dominate you, that makes them both embarrassing and insulting, and anger is the immediate reaction. The absolute easiest thing to do is to then, is yank on the leash because you do get to control the animal in an immediate and visceral sense. And often you get your way quick, which feels good when you are angry, and you show other people you are taking action as well. And when people watch Cesar's TV shows and get the idea that not only is it the easiest thing do do, it is the right thing too! I believe this leads directly to what I saw outside. An angry woman, applying more and more physical pressure to an increasingly confused and frightened animal. Rather than teaching her pet to be good, she has the perfect training regime to make an animal fearful of her, other people, other dogs, kids, outside, or whatever. And when it is a dog a powerful as hers that is extremely dangerous.

But even for situations that are not nearly extreme as the woman outside, it is just not fun to be angry at your dog. Sometimes Winnie will refuse to go onto a patch of grass because it is wet, and she doesn't like the feeling. So she plants her feet and tries to pop out of her collar - which has worked once or twice! Sometimes I am in a hurry and perhaps in a bad mood, so I just simply drag her on because I can. She looks miserable, and I get more annoyed, and we both end up unhappy. Or when I am doing it the right way, I pretend like there is something really good on the grass, like bunnies or a stick. Now her attention is on that, and not the icky grass, and she goes running onto the grass and we play. She has fun, I have fun, and we both end up happy. The physical results are the same (she is on the grass) but with just physical control she is more unlikely to listen to me in the future, while when it is all a big game she wants to because it is fun.

By limiting dog behavior to basically "dominant" and "not-dominant" Cesar limits the reactions from dog owners to their dogs drastically. Far far more often than not, they are being motivated by something else that is perfectly dog-like and reasonable, just at the wrong time and place. But understanding those motivations can be difficult, and using rewards and games takes more time and effort than punishment and physical control. So in that sense, Cesar is a perfect product of what we all want to hear. Training your dog is easy, you just have to be in control. You have the leash after all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ESAS, week two

More creatures from ESAS... Does anyone need a sweet dog or cat?

Scrappy the border collie/Australian shepherd mix:
Nipper the 14 week old sheltie mix:Gunther the German shepherd:David the kitten:Soapy the tomcat:Precious the tabby cat:Li'l Tree the grumpy kitten:

Friday, June 19, 2009


I successfully neutered one cat, spayed two kittens, and neutered Bucky (my parents' new dog) this week. Three (or four?) more surgeries next week, and then a much-needed vacation block. Phew!

More critters from ESAS...

Chica post-spay and rear dewclaw removal:

Toes the polydactyl tuxedo kitten:

Luna (a.k.a. Lunatic and Looney Bin)- a bit of a wild child:

Max the lab/hound puppy:
A very unhappy, still slightly drugged Flip Flop the kitten:
Bucky the Shiba Inu, who was actually recovering from surgery, and Winnie, who was pretending to be recovering from surgery too:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I dusted off the old time-lapse controler, put in a new battery and it still works just as well. I have work on remembering a few things though.

Here is our wet street, over the course of about 30 minutes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rotation #4: Elective Small Animal Surgery

I promised this one would be more exciting! I started Elective Small Animal Surgery (ESAS) today, which means I'll be performing around 6 surgical procedures over the next two weeks. Hopefully I'll get to do a cat and dog spay, and a cat and dog neuter, plus maybe some other types of surgeries depending on the needs of the animals (i.e. dental cleanings, mass removals, etc). All of the critters that we'll work on come from local shelters and rescue groups. Here are our animals that will go under the knife tomorrow...

Chica the chihuahua, who is just as nervous as this photo makes her look:

Jackie the 9 week old calico kitten:

Tiger the tomcat (my surgery!):

There will be three new animals every day- I'll try to remember to post pictures of everyone!

Rotation #3: Lab Medicine

My third rotation put me back in the classroom for Lab Medicine. No, not those kinds of labs...

Lab medicine (or clinical pathology) is the practice of interpreting bloodwork, looking at blood smears, examining cells from masses, growing bacteria from infected tissue, and anything else that you could think to measure in the lab. The clinical pathologists do some of the same work at the anatomic pathologists (the people who perform necropsies in the Diagnostic Lab), except that they generally work with samples from animals who are still alive. The rotation itself was good, but it wasn't much different from being in class like I've done for the past three years.

Stay tuned for an update from my latest (and more exciting) rotation...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dr Sophia yin on dog training

Specifically on dominance, and the often dangerous and and outdated beliefs of Cesar Millan, who Megan has written about before. You can read the entire thing here, along with all the included videos. Even reading one part of it is worth it!

Lets just compare these two examples of small, fearful dogs. Who would you rather have training your dog? The one that gets bit or the one who turns it into one big game?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Rotation #2, week two: Emergency

I finished up rotation block #2 last night with my final night in the ER. Over the past week, I saw:
  • a dog who ate four pizzas, a carcass of some sort, and a bunch of rib bones stolen out of the garbage
  • three dogs with pericardial effusion
  • a puppy who ate a sock
  • a dog who ate a several socks and a pair of nylons
  • a dog who choked on grass
  • a dog with fluid around his lungs and in his abdomen (probably secondary to cancer)
  • a puppy with an infected tick bite
  • a dog who bled into his eye after being accidentally hit with a ball during a game of fetch
  • a chihuahua who ate half a bag of Dove chocolates
  • a cat who had a blood clot in his aorta (a.k.a. "saddle thrombus")
  • three cats in a single night who were all having problems breathing secondary to heart disease
  • a cat that was hit by a car
  • a dog who ingested rat poison
  • a dog who ate xylitol-containing gum
  • a dog who couldn't close his eyes due to facial nerve paralysis
  • an anemic cat
  • four dogs with hindlimb weakness or paralysis due to intervertebral disc disease (almost all dachshunds)
I also took what felt like a hundred histories from owners, performed a lot of physical exams, placed two IV catheters, and performed my first thoracocentesis (chest tap). The rotation was feast or famine, either crazy busy or totally dead. I learned a ton, but faced a lot more sadness and death than I was prepared for. I'm not sure if emergency medicine is for me... but it is a wonderful resource to have available in our community.

I'm on to Lab Medicine now, which is two solid weeks of practicing looking at blood smears, interpreting bloodwork and fluid analysis, and looking at samples of various tissues (i.e. bone marrow biopsies, fine needle aspirates, impression smears, etc). So, back in the classroom. Time goes a lot slower outside of the hospital, but it's nice to have a little break from patients.