Saturday, October 31, 2009


Megan and I saw the Bare Bones Production company put on a spectacular outdoor show tonight, called "Devoured," for Halloween. There is one more showing tomorrow to make up a rained out show, so there is still time to see it. No tickets, just a donation is requested. Here is their webpage.

Here are some photos, and a video. Massive puppets, fire, live music, what else could you want?

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Big Ring Flyers/Green Acres

Two more races done, and only three more to go this season. Next up is the Crossniac's race which I am involved in hosting, then St. Olaf, then the state championship.

Two weeks ago was the Big Ring Flyers race in Hudson that was well, pleasant. This was my worst race last year, so I wasn't too stoked about it this year. It was the exact same twisty course too, and all on grass, so it was more of a cornering technical exercise than anything else. But, I was doing OK and having a fun battle with a quick little jr rider who I had 15 seconds on, when on the last half of the last lap my chain fell off and I was left in the dust as 5-6 places wizzed by. Oh well, I still finished stronger than last year!

Then this weekend was the awesome Green Acres race, that was a blast of a time. You can see from the slide show below, it started off fogy and a damp 46˚ but dried out a bit as the race went on. Not enough to dry out the mud though! A great asset for me was the large hill that started the race, which I was able to power up and blow past everyone around me. I do like those hills. They could catch up to me on my weak points later on in the lap, but I knew I could hold their wheel and pass them on the hill. The big hill lead to downhill slalom on a tubing hill (fast and fun!), then some wide spaced triple barriers, then off into the wilderness for some mud, grass, single track, more barriers, and high entry-speed sand traps that could take you down if you were not careful. I lost my back wheel on the rocky single track and bit my pedal into the hill and went down on the last lap, which lost me a spot. But I was still happy with my finish, which was in the 53 percentile, and a new record for me. My season goal of sub 50% seems to be getting closer...

Here is a slide show, with the first half taken by Megan and then some shots of fellow Crossniacs doing there thing, taken by me. Taken with our new Canon D7 camera, but that is another blog post..

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rotations #8, #9, #10, and #11

My, how time flies when you're getting married! I've fallen far behind in my rotation recaps. Hopefully this post will make up for it....

Rotation #8: SAM-B

Students on the small animal track take four rotations in Small Animal Medicine (SAM). The first SAM (SAM-A) is a chance for us to get oriented and learn the basics of how to approach a medicine case. Clinicians will usually ask us what we think the animal's problem is and how we would proceed with diagnostics and treatment, but they generally lead us along through our first cases. The next three SAMs (SAM-B's) are progressively more hands-off by our clinicians. We're expected to make more decisions about which diagnostic tests to run, which specific drugs and doses to use, and how to manage hospitalized patients. Obviously they'd never let us decide to run a test that would be a waste of money, or use a drug that isn't indicated, but the goal is to make us feel more like the primary doctor on the case rather than just an assistant. We're also expected to know more about pathophysiology (the reasons why a disease affects the body the way it does) and spend more time looking into current literature about diseases and treatments.

Thankfully, even though there are higher expectations, my first SAM-B felt easier than SAM-A. I think it was mainly because I didn't need to spend as much time figuring out logistics (like how to submit a blood sample), so I had more time to research each case. I also got more efficient at taking a history and doing a physical exam, which also helped to streamline things. My cases were in general less intensive than the patients I saw on SAM-A- I saw a lot more patients who were being managed for long-term diseases, like diabetes and hyperthyroidism, and fewer infectious diseases like blastomycosis or leptospirosis. It was a good rotation for working on my basic clinical skills and building a little confidence.

Rotation #9: Vacation!

My 9th rotation block was my second of two vacation blocks. We got married (yay!) and relaxed up in the Boundary Waters. My last break will be in late October, when I get a week off (since our Public Health rotation is only one week long)... then it'll be straight through until graduation. Yikes!

Rotation #10: Anesthesia

I've gotten a nice gradual introduction to anesthesia, starting with being the anesthetist for one dog in sophomore surgery lab, then for six dogs and cats in ESAS. The difference between those experiences and the anesthesia rotation is that my previous patients have all been relatively young and healthy. Under the supervision of our anesthesiologists, our rotation was all about getting comfortable with anesthesia of less-than-healthy animals- for me, it included a geriatric cat in renal failure and a ruptured eye, a dog with a large bleeding tumor on his tongue, and a cat with a heart murmur and several fractured teeth. For the first time, I had to handle situations like low blood pressure, slow heart rate, fast heart rate, waking up on the table (not during surgery, thank goodness!!), and monitoring a patient who's inside a CT machine (where you have to be across the room instead of right next to them).

Also, unlike our other anesthesia experiences, we got access to all sorts of fancy equipment- things like mechanical ventilators, end-tidal CO2 monitors, EKGs, and blood pressure monitors. We were also encouraged to try out anesthestic drugs and protocols that we'd never had experience with, so that we could get comfortable with how each drug and combination affects a patient. Our anesthesiologist is famous for letting us experiment, even if we choose drugs or doses that she knows won't be particularly effective (never putting the patient at risk of course- just leaving them awake enough to lead to phrases like "And then I removed the cat from her face.")... since we learn more from our mistakes than from being corrected. She'd never let us flounder, but she didn't mind watching us sweat a little while we tried to troubleshoot monitors, drugs, or catheters. Anesthesia was easily one of the most valuable rotations I've had yet!

Rotation #11: Ophthalmology

Eyeballs. Aside from derm, I can't think of any specialty that makes people go "Ewwww" more often. It's understandable, considering ophthalmologists have to deal with things like melting corneal ulcers or proptosed eyeballs (warning: links for the non-squeemish only!). But, it's hard to ignore the draw of a specialty that gets to bring eyesight back to animals blinded by cataracts. Most of what we did as students on the ophtho rotation were routine eye diagnostic tests, like measuring tear production or testing the pressure within the eye. We also learned how to do a proper fundic exam, which is an important skill for any general practitioner.

The best days, though, were the surgery days. We got to see our ophthalmologists perform goniovalve implants, which is one of the same procedures done to treat glaucoma in humans. Glaucoma occurs when the fluid produced inside the eye isn't able to drain out normally. The pressure in the eye increases, eventually causing pain and making the eye to go blind (remember Kirby Puckett?). A goniovalve is an implant that looks a little like a computer mouse. The "tail" is a tube that goes into the front chamber of the eye, and the "mouse" is a hole-filled plate that attaches outside the eyeball and allows the fluid from the front part of the eye to drain. It's not a permanent fix, since eventually it gets plugged with cells and protein, but it can buy months of pain relief and sight for an animal with glaucoma.

We also got to see a lip-to-lid resection, a form of plastic surgery for a dog with a tumor on one of his upper eyelids. The lid was removed and replaced with tissue from his upper lip (hence the name lip-to-lid). The lip tissue wasn't able to be attached to the muscles that normally make the eyelid blink, so the dog ended up with a bit of a droopy lid- but the alternative was removing the tumor, eyelid, and eye, so a droopy lid is a small price to pay.

Ophtho was a little light in the hands-on sort of learning, but a fun rotation to see what's possible for animals with eye disease. I still think eyeballs are kind of gross, though... ;)

Tomorrow is my last day of Oncology... hopefully I'll stay caught up on my rotation reviews!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wirth CX

It was another crazy and a little frustrating race at Wirth this year. They removed the single track mountain bike stuff that I didn't care for last year, and replaced it with a quick downhill to the lake, followed by a massive stair climb up. It would have been a better course if there were fewer people! I started in the middle of the pack (or heard in this case) and felt well going through the first log barrier, but then things slowed way down heading down to the lake and came to a stand still at the steps. Apparently it takes a looong time for 115 riders to clamber up a steep set of uneven stairs, and it made a traffic jam. So I ended up walking up the stairs slowly with the person in front of me bopping me on the head with their rear tire the whole way. Not very dignified at all. This kind of jam kept up for about four laps too.

Worse, they had informed us they would be pulling (removing) riders if you get lapped, making the long wait at the stairs and every other rough bit even more bothersome.

But, the course opened up and I got a kind of rhythm going and was nearing the final lap with out getting lapped, until about 50 yards in front of the line I get passed by the leader, thus I was the first last rider cut. Needless to say, that did not make me happy as I still had lots of legs left. So boo on the course designers for designing what must have been a great A course, but a awful C traffic jam.

Lots of great photos though! I love my new Crossniac's kit, it looks and rides great.

Oh and I finished at the 60th percentile, which is still a big improvement from 74th last year.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Crated dogs beware

Wow, how's this for a weird headline:

Dog stuck in crate highlights rare risk of spot-on flea treatment

Apparently Advantage flea/tick spot-on products contain benzyl alcohol, which can react with plastics and dissolve them (and, in some cases, glue a poor dog to the floor of his crate!). Make sure your spot-on flea products are nice and dry before you leave your dog unattended.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


The disaster porn movie, 2012, about a Mayan predicted apocalypse looks awful. But, this re-cut of the trailer makes it look awesome. I am now torn.

If you are curious, here is the original.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Rotation updates, etc

I've gotten far behind in my rotation recaps, but I promise I have a post waiting in the wings that's nearly finished! Until then, a quick reminder that this coming weekend is the College of Veterinary Medicine Open House (Sunday, October 11th, 11 AM to 4 PM). It's always been held in the spring in the past, but they moved it this year to coincide with Homecoming Week. It's great fun- you can tour the hospital, Equine Center, and Raptor Center, see talks about getting into vet school, hear a lecture from Dr. Pluhar about the famous Batman, and see demos of canine and rabbit agility!

Yes, I said rabbit agility...

You can see the full schedule here. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Orono seat cam

Check out MN Crossniac Mike C's sweet seat post cam of the B race at Orono on Sunday. Way better than me describing it!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Planet Bike - Orono CX

My first Cyclocross race of the year is in the bag! I finished 37th out of 66 riders, which percentile wise is my best finish ever! It was also my first race as an official and proud member of the Crossniacs team, complete with my sweet new black and blue kit with the Crossniacs lion on it.

It was a fantastic course, really a CX exhibition course. You started on a nice wide gravel loop, then fast down a twisting grass shoot, then onto blacktop, then through a sand pit, then double barriers, then really uneven and off camber grass, then a straight sprint through grass and dirt, followed by another twisty grass bit and capped off with a barrier at the base of a hill that required a nice run up after.

That pretty much sums up what Cyclocross is! The only thing missing was mud/snow. They also kept the course nice and wide open, with no sections that could be really be called single track, which I liked.

As for my race, I really used my new tires to their full advantage and bit in hard. I started a bit back in the pack, so I had fun clawing my way up the ranks as the race wore on. It was painful, but the course rolled so nice and was so open I was able to build a very nice rhythm that served me well. The race ended with one extra loop around the starting gravel loop (around a soccer field) and I was totally burnt up, but then I heard L. shouting at me followed by crunching gravel in my ear. So I floored it again. I managed to pass one rider in red that I didn't think I could have caught before the rider chasing me cut me off real close on the final turn and was gone. Oh well, gain one loose one! I learned something about tactics too I think. I just about died after the finish line though, that last sprint was killer.

Self Sufficiency

Doing things yourself can be very difficult, full of mistakes, and extremely time consuming but when things go right, it is sure worth it. Having another item in a library of things you can do feels great. ( Can you tell I have been reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"?)

Our first project was on Wednesday when Megan and I canned salsa, using our piles of tomatoes from the farmers market. Of course now that it is preserved we are hesitant to open one since it is so much work getting them in the jars!

My other project was on Saturday when I finally got some car time in. I cleaned my air filter, replaced the oil (synthetic is totally worth it), and replaced the front brake pads. All this greatly increased my confidence for car repair again, as it was all quite simple, and the car really needed it. The brakes just required me to jack up the car and remove the wheel, un-do one bolt and swing up the "glove" that holds them next to the pistons, and then pop out the old pads like burnt toast. With the money I saved I bought myself my very own 2 ton jack!