Sunday, December 23, 2012

You should be worried

It's almost 2013, which means that this year's NDAA is currently making the rounds through the senate and congress.  It's the big National Defense Authorization Act that conveniently slipped in a little line last year about being able to detain anybody without a trial.  It's an evil piece of legislation that urinates on the constitution.  I wrote about it here last year.

A group of senators tried to attach an amendment stripping the unconstitutional police-state powers from the bill.  Another group lead by John McCain stripped that protective amendment from the bill, so now it has passed the senate in it's current form.  It just needs to pass through congress and the white house to say goodbye to habeas corpus for another year.

But if you're a normal citizen, and never would associate with any terrorist groups, why would you even have to worry about a law like this?  Surely, it's not meant to go after normal people, or peaceful protestors.

Oh.  Right.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It starts all over again

Others focused on a concern that the COE has relaxed its standards to allow subpar programs to earn accreditation. Western U was given as an example, with Marshak noting that unlike in most other programs, veterinary students there are expected to develop their clinical acumen by rotating through private practices rather than a traditional veterinary medical teaching hospital. 
Given that Western U contracts with upwards of 700 private practices, it’s impossible for academicians to monitor what students are learning, if anything, Marshak said. What’s more, now that building an expensive teaching hospital no longer is required for accreditation, several new Western-like programs are emerging across the United States.  
By accrediting Western U, the COE “ensnared themselves in a trap,” Marshak testified. “How do you turn down the next crummy school without being sued?” 

 Now, these quotes come from the same Dr. Marshak I wrote about last November.  I don't want to be too redundant, but the argument comes down to the fact that we do our rotations outside of an official teaching hospital, so there's no standardization of what we're learning, therefore WesternU doesn't deserve to be accredited.  That and PBL is new and scary, therefore ineffective.  I think what these people forget is that the teaching hospital standard may not be effective either - case loads are variable, students don't see primary level cases, and students are at the whim of faculty at teaching hospitals - some students may get hands on experience, while others may be stuck doing scut work.  Same with lectures - students may listen during lectures, yet never open a textbook, they may skip class and teach themselves, or they may skim friend's notes and manage to stay afloat that way.  Yet we all pass the National Boards, and most of us, no matter which school we go to will be competent veterinarians.

But I don't believe that the new uproar over over school accreditation really revolves around veterinarians being worried that WesternU's not churning out good veterinarians.  I think this all comes from a place of fear. A place of fear that I understand 100%, but I plan to be flexible about, and I plan on adapting to a new direction of the profession.  What fear is that?

First, veterinarians were used to an easy source of income - flea and tick products.  Most of these were sold ONLY through vet's offices, and vets came to rely on the income they produced.  Then various "greymarket" sources started carrying them - websites, and now supermarket pharmacies and pet stores.

Then the big pharmacies - Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Costco and others started pushing programs advertising that they were now carrying pet prescriptions.  Legislation is in the works trying to force veterinarians to write a prescription, whether or not their clients want to buy their medications from the veterinary hospital.  Veterinarians have traditionally structured their business plan to where their pharmacies subsidized the care of patients - basically drug sales through a vet's office allowed vets to keep other costs low.  This is now being chipped away at.

Here's where WesternU comes in - We were the first new school to open in decades.  (I'm not going to look up the exact span of years right now.)  It's a private school.  It's not attached to a landgrant university.  And the school accepted a partnership with Banfield (which I think was a massive PR mistake, but nobody asked me.)  We were different.  A lawsuit was involved to even get the COE to consider accrediting the school.  Since then, the COE has accredited several Caribbean schools, a Mexican school, and there's news articles about new vet schools potentially opening up in Arizona, Utah and New York.  Which means more veterinarians coming into the job market every year. Which scares vets shitless in an already shaky economy.  Fingers get pointed at Western because it's seen that we started a trend of new accreditations.  Vets are afraid of too many clinics, too much competition in a field where we're already extremely underpaid for the number of hours we work, and the level of education we've attained.  They look to law schools, and see the horrific unemployment statistics among lawyers and fear that we're next.

So they pick targets like the COE, WesternU, and any foreign schools that seek accreditation.  I get it.  We make convenient scapegoats.  And higher education is fucked up.  As long as dumb-ass students like me can continue to get federal loans, and as long as the feds are willing to dish out money (that can't be discharged in bankruptcy,) new schools will open up, or existing schools will increase class size.  I've read so many economists that talk about how student loans will be the next economic bubble to burst, because the rate at which tuition increases is completely unsustainable.  Existing vets worry about increased competition, and newly graduating vets are terrified about the loan burden we signed on for.  I know when I got accepted into vet school, I did the math, and decided that the loan burden was doable.  But it's only doable if I can find a job.  Otherwise, I'm fucked, and I'm sure as the economy continues to tank, more and more of us will be fucked.

There's this current of fear in every industry, and people see the good times get farther and farther out of our grasp.  The federal reserve will continue to print money with impunity, and bail out the richest people who don't deserve to be bailed out.  (Google 43 trillion dollar lawsuit if you want to shit your pants.)  Our salaries will remain stagnant, while inflation continues, making us the working poor.

The problem with the veterinary field isn't the schools, or the new grads - although they sure as hell aren't helping matters.  Parts of the problem are the AVMA being so far up the asses of big agriculture, willingly giving up veterinary services to laypeople, and refusing to take a stand for animal welfare in the face of cruel factory farming practices.  We've lost veterinary jobs there.  As a profession, instead of lobbying for the public to value their animal's health, we've been freaking out about the possibility as pets being seen as more than property - even though that's the basic principle that we earn our money on.  On one hand, vets want owners to see their pets as valuable family members, and pay for that dental cleaning or TPLO, while on the other hand, vets freak at the aspect of being sued for those "family members" when something goes badly.  We can't have it both ways.  The veterinary field is it's own worst enemy, looking to point fingers instead of adapting to a changing societal and economic reality.

But that only begins to scratch the surface.  See, we think we're special.  We think we deserve so much better than other professions, and we've historically been a group of hardheaded non-conformists. (I say that affectionately.)  When human health care was getting ruined by health insurance, we watched their mistakes and learned from them.  Now if you ask physicians if they would recommend their kids become doctors, the answer is more often than not a resounding "NO."  Lawyers are hurting.  Dentists are hurting.  Mechanics are hurting.  Tattoo artists are hurting.  The tech industry is hurting.  All of the money is getting funneled away from the average working American, into the banks and the investors.  Our economy is broken, and no talk of bailouts, or fixing the fiscal cliff, or tweaking tax rates, or reducing spending will fix a damn thing, because the entire system is designed to self-implode, leaving the average person starving, and the 147 companies that own everything with all the resources and power.  As it stands, the Federal reserve is more powerful than the president, more powerful than congress, and it's completely unregulated, no transparency, no accountability.  And it's fucking all of us.  And it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

So point fingers at WesternU.  Yes, they play the system that makes education so profitable of a venture, that supplies jobs for a shitload of amazing professors, and gives hundreds of students hope for a future where they can make a dent in the world, and in the lives of multiple animals and their owners.  But they're a small symptom of a much bigger societal problem.  And the problem isn't that the school I love is doing a bad job educating veterinarians.  Because they're not.  The problem isn't that there's too many vet students - that's one symptom of a system that's much bigger than any of us, that I don't know if any of us can fix.  Because we're at the bottom of the pyramid scheme, and we have no way of disentangling ourselves.

And now I sound crazy.

Wrapping up the semester

I finished my food and feed safety class Friday, and all I have left this semester is a day of practice management, and a class-wide meeting with the dean.  Small animal rotations start in January.

I was going to post earlier this week, but everything I typed was pretty incoherent or too rage-filled.  The stray cat that always visited my porch, got killed earlier in the week.  Tyler and I were watching tv inside, and we heard a cat-fight noise.  I ran outside, to find a pitbull shaking her, and the pitbull's owner standing across the street watching.  (What kind of sociopath just watches as their dog attacks another animal?)  I chased the dog away from the kitty, and screamed at the owner to put his dog on a leash.  He got his dog, and ran away, while I tried to get a paralyzed cat into a carrier without stressing her out.  She died on the way to the emergency clinic.

I feel guilty as hell for thinking she'd be better off as a stray with some protections than in our high-euth-rate local shelter.  Obviously, I chose wrong, and she paid the price.  The other stray (white kitty) was taken to the shelter by my neighbor about 2 or 3 weeks ago.  Even though he's one of the prettiest and friendliest cats I've ever met, he still hasn't been adopted.  I'm feeling like I've failed both cats.

I guess there is no good solution here.  It's the culture of this place.  The culture that makes people think its ok to let their animals run free, to not spay/neuter, to be a useless piece-of-shit lowlife that watches your dog attack another animal.  It's Pomona.  It's broken, and I doubt any amount of activism will ever fix these people.  They're horrible wastes of human flesh.  I cannot wait to move away from them.

If you have a kitty, go hug them for me.  If you have space for one, there's an incredibly sweet one at the Upland shelter that needs a home.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I am so freaking relieved.

My 3rd year presentation is done and over with.  I will never be an eloquent public speaker, because for some reason, talking to people is scary (I think I should stick to writing).  But I survived, I didn't pass out, or trip and fall on my face, or forget everything I know about bats, so I'll consider it a win.  And I had 2 of my great friends show up for support, even though it's the week before finals for them, and that meant a lot.  I also saw our avian/wildlife vet come in the back partway through my talk, so hopefully he wasn't disappointed.  But most importantly I'm done!   Wheeee!!!

I have about a week and a half left until Christmas break.   We're done with food and feed safety next Friday, then there's just a couple days the next week of Practice Management and meetings.  Where has the time gone?  I swear that vet school is some sort of crazy time vortex.

I'm waiting for my loan disbursement next semester, when I'm going to buy a new iphone.  I've been using my 3gs since my junior year of undergrad, and there's nothing wrong with it, I just want a new shiny one.  I've been wanting an iphone 5, but is it bad that the fact that the iphone ecg monitor only clips onto the 4 and 4s might sway me to an older model?  Like I even need my own personal ECG, but damnit, if I had one, I would stick it to the sides of my critters constantly.  Especially Skwissgaar with his crazy oversized heart.

Speaking of oversized hearts, I was watching the Grinch the other day.  It got to the line about "and his heart grew 3 sizes that day."  I yelled at the TV, "Nooo, that's pathologic!  Somebody take him to a doctor!"  Tyler looked at me, muttered "dork," and rolled his eyes.  Apparently husbands aren't too worried about Grinch pathology.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sorry about the lack of updates

I'm on campus, finishing up my Global Animal Health class, so there's not a whole lot to write about.  I've been procrastinating on putting together my 3rd year presentation, which was originally supposed to be this coming Monday, but got moved to Thursday instead.

Thursday, I'm talking about white nose syndrome in bats.  I'm sure that anybody who knows me knows I have a soft spot for bats.  (Maybe because of all those geology classes taking me into caves growing up?) I may have even called out one of the vets at the LA county Dept. of Health a few weeks ago for her "ZOMG, touch a bat and you'll die of rabies" propaganda.  Anyway, it's december.  I bet a lot of you are going to be doing some online shopping in the next month.  Go to this link, and install the iGive toolbar on your browser.  You know how companies make money by referring visitors to online shopping sites, and get a percentage of the sales?  iGive is set up to make the associate/referral commission on the websites you already shop at, and re-directs that money to a charity of your choice.  If you click on the link above, and install the toolbar on your browser, you can direct a small percentage of what you would be paying anyway to Bat World Sanctuaries.  It doesn't go towards white nose research, but it does go to rehabilitating and providing sanctuary for bats caught up in the pet trade, or from closing zoos.  I think they're getting pretty close to capacity, and are trying to fundraise for a new building. Pretty please.  Click here.  Install the toolbar.  Help out some bats.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reason #472 why I can't wait to get out of Pomona

A couple nights ago, Tyler and I were watching TV.  It was somewhere between midnight and 1pm.  I hear a knock on the door.  Assuming it's one of our neighbors, I answer it.  It's this overweight, homeless looking woman.  At this point, my demeanor changes from being worried that one of my friends needed something to being annoyed that a stranger thinks its ok to knock on my door in the middle of the night.  I let out a surly "what do you want?" She asks for money for a cab.  I turn her down.  She asks to borrow a lighter.  I give her one that keeps breaking on me, and tell her to keep it.  I lock the door, she leaves.  That's the end of that, right?

Of course not.  This morning, I hear pounding on my door.  It's 6:40 am.  I'm a night owl, not a morning person.  Once again, I think it may be my next door neighbor, or somebody who's representing the landlord (since I knew they were coming out to make some repairs on her half of the duplex today.) Nope!  It's the crazy homeless woman again.  I yelled at her.  "What the hell do you think you're doing, waking me up this early? How is that ok?" She said she needed me to call 911 for her.  She was feeling suicidal.  I called.  They made me ask her questions, like if she had made an attempt, or had a plan.  She said she swallowed "some pills" the day before, and was still suicidal.  Personally, I don't think she was.  I think it was cold, she was homeless, and she wanted to be baker acted and go to a nice, warm hospital.  Anyway, I'm stuck sitting on my front porch asking her questions and repeating the answers to the 911 dispatcher in my jammies until the ambulance (then firetruck, then two police cars) show up. They didn't seem too worried about her either.

I know I have a problem with stray cats showing up on my porch, but I am NOT ok with stray people showing up.  I hope like hell this doesn't become a trend.  This shit never happened in Colorado.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I need smaller dogs...

...or dogs with squishier heads.  I got home from class today, and bent over to take off my shoes.  Apparently, just as I was doing that, my dog decided to jump up on the couch.  Her hard noggin met my face full force.  I'm standing there holding my hand up to my face, trying to combat the sudden dizziness, Tyler's looking at me asking what just happened and am I OK, and stupid Izmere is just sitting on the couch completely oblivious to the damage that her rock-hard-skull caused.  And Tyler wonders why I like cats so much.  

In other news, I'm still taking the on-campus veterinary public health course.  One of our assignments was that we had to prepare posters and do presentations about zoonotic bioterrorism agents.  My group did a presentation on Hantavirus.  Halfway through doing the project, I started to get paranoid about ECHELON picking up suspicious keywords from my google searches, and considered typing "its ok, I'm a vet student" into google.  Then I realized how ridiculous that was.  Or is it?

I'm working on filing up my 4th year rotation spots right now.  It's so stressful trying to plan out your future over a year in advance.  I think I've figured out a general schedule of how I want things.  Since some of the specialties I want to rotate through don't have good Colorado spots, it looks like I'll be alternating a month in Colorado, then a month in a hotel room in another state. Lather, rinse, repeat for the whole year.  It's so exciting, and so terrifying at the same time.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I just logged onto my school's website to see if any new grades have been posted.  (Just waiting on one more class.  At least I know I passed the one I felt the worst about!)

Anyway, after logging in, this screen popped up.

You know, because a person's race just constantly changes, and needs to be updated on a regular basis.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What is it about public speaking...

That makes you go from eloquent and well spoken to jittery and barely able to form a coherent sentence?

I had to give a presentation today for my population health & production class, and it did not go well.  Practiced the night before, no problems.  Get up in front of a whole nine or ten people, and my brain suddenly decides that it will no longer be able to keep a straight thought, voice starts shaking, the works.  So frustrating.  It's even more frustrating when I compare it to other things.  When my band was together, playing gigs wasn't intimidating.  3000 people and a bass?  No problem.  10 people and a powerpoint?  Bomb it.  Grr.

I have my 3rd year presentation in December.  I really need to fix this by then.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I almost made it through the semester without a trip to the emergency vet

I swear, there's a vet school curse.  For the past 5 semesters, each semester there has been one emergency.  This one was luckily minor.  Skwissgaar and Izmere were playing, Skwissgaar got a little too hyper, and Izzy got crabby and bit him in the face.  Now he's missing about a square centimeter of skin right below his eye.  My poor pup.  The past month he's spent 2 days at Banfield for a cardiac workup.  He managed to skin his nose while he was there, and picked up kennel cough.  Now this.

I'm currently getting spoiled in class.  I'm taking population health and production, and it's basically just practice working epidemiology problems.  I'm spoiled because we're only in class from 8:30 to noon.  That will change next week when we begin our next course, but it's a nice break from being at the equine hospital from 7:30 to 5.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I finished up my exams for large animal block friday morning.  Ever since then, I've been obsessively opening blackboard every couple hours, and refreshing to see if my grades have posted.  I have never felt worse after taking tests than I did last week, and I'm terrified I'm going to fail and have to repeat one or more large animal rotations.  On the plus side, even the smart kids on the same rotations feel the same way after those tests, so at least we're all in the same boat.  

I've spent the weekend trying to actually have fun, and take my mind off things.  Friday night, I went out with some classmates to Knotts Scary Farm for their halloween nights.  I had a blast, but I killed my cell phone battery constantly refreshing blackboard.  

Saturday, my neighbor and I went to Universal Studios, then to a vegan bakery in LA that was in an area so sketchy that it looked like a generic "skid row" movie set.  

I kind of feel like I need to go to Disney Land today to round out my amusement park themed weekend.  

It's been awhile since I've had a problem with my crazy-cat-lady superpowers, but it looks like they're flaring up again.  Last year, an outdoor cat started showing up on my porch, and we had a good deal going on.  I fed her, and she kept other random strays from showing up on my doorstep.  Well, now a new cat has moved in, and has been chasing her off.  This new cat is beautiful - he's a white tabby with ice blue eyes, and he's friendly.  I've had to "sneak" into my house, because he tries to bolt in the front door behind me.  But he's un-neutered, and he's beating up Nuke.  He's gotta go.  If anybody's interested in what seems like a great cat, let me know (leave your email address in the comments section,) otherwise he's going to have to go to the shelter.  I'll post more pictures next time he shows up.  You know you want him......

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Four exams down, one to go.

I've been lost in the fog that is exam week.  Livestock (meat and fiber,) Livestock (dairy) and Equine I and II tests have all been taken.  I was the most freaked out for the equine tests beforehand, but those tests seemed really reasonable.  Now I'm freaked out about both the livestock tests, because I felt like I did a hell of a lot of guessing on multiple choice exams that covered things in way more detail than I read about.  On the plus side, every single person I talked to feels that way, so at least it's not just me.

I have one (ok, two, but I'm counting them together) more exam tomorrow - a clinical skills exam for both livestock and horses.  I'm not really sure what to expect will be on it.  Not really sure how to prepare for it.  There's a good chance that I will be tested on things that I haven't physically done before, but have only read about.  Eek!

After my equine exam, I stopped by Dr. Diniz's office today to transfer Skwissgaar's ECG readings to a flash drive, and he's convinced that there's zero evidence of cardiac pathology in my pup aside from a decreased fractional index.  A 48 hour ECG, and no evidence of ventricular premature complexes, just a couple slightly weird, probably physiological Mobitz type 1 AV blocks.  I can only imagine how long it took to go through 48 hours of ECG tracings, even with a computer's help, and I'm so grateful that he has been so great to me and my puppy.  We're really lucky here to have so many amazing faculty members.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

One more week of horses!

I'm posting this from my own couch! That won't get old for awhile.  I'm finishing up my last equine rotation, at a specialty referral hospital.  I've met some wonderful vets, some wonderful interns, and some pretty cool horses the last week.  I have one more week there, then a week of testing, then I am done with horses and large animals for good until I start studying for my national boards next year.

It was fun, and I totally get why the school wants to expose us to as many of the different areas of vet med as possible, but I'm pretty sure I intrinsically knew that I don't enjoy being out in the sun (uugh, I have freckles now, even with my liberal use of my spf 100 sunscreen), I don't like flies landing on me, I don't like getting splattered with cow poop, and I'm not a big fan of having my arm buried up to my armpit in an animal's rectum.  Not entirely sure I needed 8 weeks of hands-on experience to learn those facts.  But to be fair, I did learn quite a bit of not-so-negative things as well.  I got a bunch of ultrasound experience.  I learned that I adore draft horses and jersey cows.  I've gotten a lot more comfortable working around animals that could easily squish me if they wanted to.  It's been a great 2 months.  But I'll be glad when it's over.

Last weekend, my next door neighbor brought her dogs to school for a continuing education class for vets to work on doing echocardiograms.  Basically, her dogs were there for the vets to practice their ultrasound skills on.  She has little dogs, and they wanted bigger dogs.  I told her she could bring Skwissgaar on Sunday, since he's good about hanging out with people poking him, and I've always wanted to find out if he has dilated cardiomyopathy.  I got Skwissgaar at 8 weeks old, since my friend owned his grandpa (his dam's sire) as a service dog.  When Skwissgaar was about 3 or 4 months old, my friend's seemingly perfectly healthy dog dropped dead.  So I've always known there was a chance that my guy had DCM, and I figured I could find out for sure.  So my neighbor gets back, and I asked her about it, and she had the worst look on her face.  So I kind of put her in the bad position of having to deliver the bad news that yes he does, but they think it's pretty early. I'm taking him into school tomorrow for the 3rd year internal medicine rotation, where he'll have another ecg, an echocardiogram, and some bloodwork done. We'll get a baseline of how far along he is, and hopefully with medications, we'll be able to buy as much time as possible before he goes into congestive heart failure, or just drops dead like his grandpa.  Skwissgaar's my bestest buddy in the world, so I'm going to be pretty broken if anything happens to him.

I was sitting on my front porch a few days ago, and looking at my new car.  I then realized that the little decorative hubs that go over the alloy wheels were gone.  I went and investigated.  All 4 were gone, and there's a pry mark on one of the alloy wheels where apparently it didn't come off gracefully.  I hate my neighborhood.  It would be nice to live somewhere where I didn't have to worry about parts getting stolen off my car while it's parked directly in front of my house.

Tomorrow's my 7-year wedding anniversary.  Tyler took Saturday off of work so we could celebrate, and actually spend an entire day together (which was awesome, after barely getting to see the guy while I was living out of hotel rooms.)  We wandered around Old Town Pasadena, and discovered a couple really cool shops.  The first shop was an old-timey soda and candy shop.  I bought these:
I'm a little bit afraid for my tastebuds, when I break them all open.  I'm sure the root beer, sarsaparilla and butterscotch ones will all be fine.  It's the bacon, buffalo hot wings, PBJ and pumpkin pie ones that are scary.  

We also discovered a store called the Gold Bug.  I need to win the lottery, so I can buy stuff from there - they have some amazing steampunk stuff (like this animatronic phoenix,) taxidermy, decorative plates and prints based off of old anatomy books, and various ephemera.  I'm in love, but I'm way to broke to ever afford anything there.  

Anyway, back to the grind.  Hopefully, soon I'll get back to more frequent, shorter updates.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

I'm home!

Oh man, after 6 weeks of living in dorms/hotels, I'm done traveling until April.  I get to sleep in my own bed, I get to hang out with my critters and my husband, and I don't have to live out of a suitcase anymore!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

One more week...

And then maybe I can get some breathing room.

I've been on one of my equine rotations this past week, and I'm exhausted.  We show up to the clinic, and do reproductive exams on the horses until lunchtime.  Then we get a little bit of time to eat and log our cases, and wait to go out on calls with the ambulatory vet.  After those calls, we're free to leave, and go back to the hotel.  Once at the hotel, I've had just about enough time to eat something, and then sit down and start studying so I can answer every question I was given earlier that day.  I'm usually done by about 11 pm, or I just give up at that point, and try to get to sleep by midnight.  Then my alarm goes off at 7, and it starts all over again.  I'm exhausted, I've had little-to-no downtime, and now I'm spending my entire weekend doing the SOAPS that count for part of my grade for this course.  Oh, and it's been over 100 degrees in lovely Southern California, so that just adds to the exhaustion, after being outside in it all day.  Even with my copious amounts of SPF 100 I've been plastering on every morning, I'm still getting slightly burned and freckled.  One more week of this, and maybe I can catch my breath.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


That is all.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Guess who has a super safe hotel?

It's not us!

So this evening, we were hanging out in the room, when a random man opens our door, sees us, blusters an "I'm sorry," then disappears.  About 30 seconds later, we get a call from the front desk saying they had accidentally checked somebody into our room, so sorry, their bad.

WTF?  How does their computer even allow that?  If I had just given a random man access to a group of 4 girls' rooms, I would offer more than a half-assed apology.  Luckily, the guy seemed more confused than we were, and left, but what if he had been a sociopath?  What if we hadn't been in the room, and somebody just saw a bunch of laptops to steal?

Between the guys following Amy last week, the front desk not asking me to confirm who I was to re-magnetize my key card, and now this, I'm pretty unimpressed with Microtel.  I already sent an email complaining to their corporate office, and they better take this seriously.

On the plus side, we get to leave in 2 days.  I'm so over this place.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


We braved the hantavirus outbreak, and decided to use one of our days off this weekend to hit up Yosemite National Park.

Since my exposure to California has been largely limited to Southern California, I believe I've let how shitty the LA area is color my whole opinion of the state.  Yosemite definitely did a pretty good job in convincing me that the entire state doesn't suck.

I had a great day of enjoying being in a pine forest (none of those awful palm trees that dominate SoCal,) and getting my geology geek on, and now I'm ready to take on the last week of Dairy.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Interesting study session earlier today

We had today off, (hooray 3 day weekend!) and decided to go study somewhere other than our hotel room, since each hotel room has one chair/desk and two people.

First try - Ceres public library.  Closed on Fridays.  Second try - Modesto library.  Also closed on Fridays.  Ok, Starbucks it is.  We get drinks and pick a table.  There are 3 of us, and 4 chairs at our table.  At some point while we're typing, it got really busy, all the tables filled up, and this guy decided to randomly sit at our table.

Now, this wasn't just any guy.  This guy was definitely on something.  I don't think he was drunk, he wasn't wobbly, just incoherent and idiotic.  The three of us would be talking about something, and he would butt in with some moronic comment.  We were discussing the treatment and surgery of a cow we saw on Monday with a displaced abomasum, and this guy raises his voice, leans in, and yells "Maybe he has shingles!" and starts laughing hysterically.  We roll our eyes and continue to ignore him.   A couple times I glance over, and he's slumped over in his chair, passed out.  Then he'll startle awake, drink his coffee, and pretend to look at his ipad, even though the screen's not on.

At some point, his friend showed up, and even though at this point, all the other tables were empty, pulled up a chair and sat next to us.  Guy's fried says something about my tattoo.  I look at him, say "hmm," and go back to my laptop.  Drugged guy then starts saying "I'm getting a tattoo.  I'm getting a whale on my arm, for my mom.  She loves whales.  She's going to be so mad, since her religion doesn't allow tattoos." (Except not that coherent.) I look up at him and say "Well, then it's not really for your mom, then is it?" He doesn't get the hint that I'm poking fun at him and keeps talking.  Then falls asleep mid-sentence.  We leave while he's slumped over the table.

For some reason, we didn't quite get as much studying done today as hoped.  Stupid libraries being closed on Fridays.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I am not having a good week.

Modesto's sketchy.  One of my roommates went outside to talk on the phone, and some creepers pulled up and just stared at her, so she went inside the hotel, and finished her phone call in the laundry room.  Apparently, they followed her in there, so she's kind of unnerved out about the place.

I caught the cold people were passing around the last week in Nebraska.  I can't breath through my nose, and my face is raw from using the hotel's sandpaper-grade kleenex.

We had a call yesterday to work on some pet bulls, and did surgery on them for 2 hours in full sun.  I'm sunburned, and it took me hours after finishing yesterday to feel like I wasn't dying of heat stroke.

Dairy work involves early mornings.  Most days have been around 6-ish, but tomorrow I have to be there at 4:20.  That's earlier than I would go to sleep if left to my own devices.

Since dairy cows are packed so tightly compared to beef cattle, and fed high-energy diets, their shit is liquid, it's everywhere, and I've ended every day with conversations between me and my roommates about who got the worst shit splash that day.

I'm really trying to stay positive about this rotation.  I really like the vet I've been driving with.  He really cares about the welfare of the cows, and he likes to pepper me with tons of questions about cattle diseases.  It feels great when I can actually answer them, and I feel bad for frustrating him when I either don't know the answer, or am completely missing the point of the questions he's asking.  I'm just sleep deprived, and sick, and sick of poo, and I'm actually looking forward to equine at this point.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hmm, so this is an interesting way to start our next rotation

Today is one of those days where nothing goes right.  At the beginning of our 6 hour drive, as I was lifting my brand-new backpack into the car, the strap broke.  We pulled off the highway in Kingsburg, CA, only to find out that the entire town is apparently closed on Sundays.  We stopped at a rest stop that advertised wine/cheese tastings, kettle corn, and a petting zoo, only to find out that a "petting zoo" consists of a tiny pony and a donkey in a field with an old 50's pickup truck.  It's just been an "off" day.

Then we get to Modesto for our rotation.  Modesto is kind of.... sketchy.  When we were looking for our hotel (because the Garmin sent us on a wild goose chase, it took forever), we drove by a motel a few blocks away that had a very obvious hooker walking into one of the rooms.  Pomona feels safer than here.  But anyway.  We get to our hotel to find out that our super classy hotel rooms have an entire mirrored wall, and all the decorations are that 80's rusty-rose pink shade.  It's entertaining, to say the least.

Here's to hoping we've gotten all of the hiccups out of the way, and the next two weeks will go smoothly.  If not, we'll just have to have a sense of humor about all the potential things that can go wrong.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


There's only 3 days left in Nebraska, and I realized I haven't updated recently.  For those who are curious, here's how the rotation's been working:

We rotate between classes, and scheduled field activities like practicing physical exams, blood draws, etc.  In between those, groups of us get pulled to go on calls and see sick or injured animals.  Since some cattle are calving, many groups have gotten to help deliver calves, or deal with the complications arising from delivery.  We also rotate between our groups doing necropsies, which has been an amazing experience (even though today we had a last-minute necropsy that was rank enough to overpower my gag reflex.)

Last week there was a field trip to a swine slaughterhouse/packing plant, and I was fully expecting it to be a rather traumatic experience, but I was pleasantly surprised at how little stress the pigs seemed to experience before, and how little they suffered during the actual slaughter procedure.  It's still not impressive enough to make me break my ban on eating pork, but it made me feel a little better about those that do.

In "town," about 5 miles away, there's a small bar run by the local legion hall.  They're willing to pick us up and drop us off at the end of the night, so we've been able to get away from the dorms and play a few games of pool, and chat up the locals.

Sooo, yeah, that's about it for this rotation.  Mix in some studying and finishing assignments, and getting to bond with classmates, and it's been pretty spectacular.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This is the best way to start the year ever!

I'm only 2 days into my Nebraska rotation, and it's absolutely fantastic.  

Day 1: Classroom instruction, and get to do a necropsy all by myself.  Watched the Perseid meteor shower.  Find a cute little toad hopping around the grass.  

Day 2: Wake up early, throw on coveralls. Drive to a small cattle facility on the Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center grounds.  Do physical exam on heifers, get to draw blood, auscultate, and do a rectal palpation.  From there, get to drive around visiting other sick cattle, including a sick baby calf that went around sucking everybody's thumbs, and watched classmates deliver a calf in a breech birth.  Get back to the dorms, than go wander down lonely country roads, and not encounter anything for miles. 

It's been fantastic, even though it has been such a short amount of time.  I'm missing Tyler and my critters like crazy, but I'll have to get used to it, since I have quite a few rotations away from home. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thinking a year in advance

One of the things we learned this week was that we have to pick the specialties we want to visit in 4th year ASAP.  We have to pick the location of core internal medicine and core surgery from a list, then we have to pick 8 other subjects, only 6 which we'll actually get to visit, to make up our remaining 4th year rotations.

It's really hard to feel like everything's covered in just 6/8 rotations.  Especially when you don't know exactly what you want to do with your life.  If I didn't have to worry about money, I would probably just work in a zoo, or just do wildlife rehab, or work on curing white nose syndrome in bats.  But since my education is putting me 300k in the hole, and I need to pay that off somehow, while not having to eat nothing but ramen, I'm eyeing small animal practice.  Emergency work sounds amazing, frantic, and has the perk of lining up with my natural circadian rhythm.  Small animal/exotics sounds like a decent compromise, especially if I could buy Dr. G's practice from her, and still get to do a decent amount of wildlife rehab and exotics.  But when we have to pick 6 rotations + 2 alternates, I just feel like one side or the other is going to suffer.  I ended up choosing the following 8: radiology, dentistry, surgery, anesthesia, emergency, zoo, wildlife and exotics.  2 of those won't happen, and I'm a little panicked that cardiology, dermatology and neuro aren't on that list, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my wildlife/exotics spots for them.  Eek!  I suppose that's why people choose to do internships, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to give up that extra year.  Too many things to worry about, but I have my list turned in and signed, so there's no going back.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Another earthquake this morning.  It was 4.5, and we had to evacuate class for about half an hour.  The security guards kept making us move farther from the building, so it was entertaining watching over 100 people move from one shaded spot to another.

Today, I got my plane tickets for my food animal rotation in Nebraska.  I leave at the crack of dawn Sunday, and spend 2 weeks out there with a quarter of the class.  But I have tickets in my hot little hand!  It's actually happening!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It only took 2 years of living here

But I finally noticed an earthquake (a 4.4 quickie).  Since I've been in Cali, there were 2 others close enough to feel, but I slept through one, and didn't notice the other until people at the restaurant we were at pointed out the ceiling lights were swinging.  Whee!!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

If you live in a good neighborhood, you're missing out.

Not on anything good.  But on hooker screaming matches across the street.  Ahh, Pomona.

Classes started today.  Pretty much just talked about what to expect from third year and fourth year.  Apparently we don't even get to settle into 3rd before 4th starts stressing us out.  I did find out some good info about 4th year, though.  I knew we'd have two core classes (surgery and internal medicine) that are required.  I assumed they'd all be in SoCal.  Apparently, we can choose our geographic area a little.  The options are LA area, the surrounding counties, San Diego, SF bay area, or Arizona.  Never thought I'd be excited at the prospect of potentially getting to spend 2 months in Arizona, but I bet they don't have a problem with hooker fights in residential neighborhoods.

Oh, and know what cracked me up today?  Remember the huge rant a few months ago about our classmate, "Ginny Forest," who spent the last year constantly being late, skipping classes, and screwing half the class out of valuable time in the anatomy lab?  Guess who sauntered into class today, 30 minutes into class?  Somehow the other 100 people in our class managed to show up at the early hour of 1 pm, but not Ms. Forest.  I hope to all hell once our 3rd year rotations start, that our clinical preceptors call her on that shit.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer's winding down

Only 2 more days of summer, then classes start.  It's been a good couple days.  Sarah's back!  I got to hang out with her for a little bit Wednesday.  Tyler, a classmate and I went to Universal Studios yesterday.  A couple classmates and I met up today to make large animal and equine study sheets, so we don't sound like dummies on rotations.  And I'm almost comfortable enough driving my new car at night, with Tyler in the car, to where I think I'll be ok driving it in traffic.  Did I mention I bought a stick shift when I don't drive stick?  I've always meant to learn, so I figured I'd give myself a reason to.

I'm not 100% sure what the blog will look like this year.  Since our rotations are private practice, and not university owned, I don't feel like I can speak as freely about what will go on there.  I sure won't be able to talk about any specific cases, without anonymizing the hell out of them, changing details. At that point, I'm not sure how much it will be worth the time and effort to do that.  I'll play it by ear, but if things start to get vague, that's why.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Car search, over.

So after hunting for a car for a few weeks, I've finally found one.

What's cheaper than a prius, can be found with lower miles, still gets pretty damn good fuel efficiency, still has toyota reliability, and totally doesn't suck?

A toyota MMR Spyder.

Or as my brother so kindly put it, "Are you having a midlife crisis, or something?"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Huntington Dog Beach

One of my classmates and I took our pups to the dog beach today.  I only took Skwissgaar, since Izmere is kind of a bitch around strange people and dogs.  I honestly thought Gaar wouldn't go near the water, since it's the end of the world for him to go outside when it's raining, and all he would ever do at my old dog trainer's ponds was wade in a couple inches.

He thought the waves were the best thing ever.  When they went in, he'd run in, then playfully run from them once they came back out at him.  He did get rocked by a few waves, but it didn't even phase him. It was so much fun watching him be a big goof, and now that I know he's not afraid of the water, I definitely need to go back as much as I can.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Car shopping part 2

I'm still trying to find a car I can drive to rotations.   Since I can't get a likeable car (since every single car made since the '70s is a soul-crushing waste of a machine,) I decided to look at "responsible" cars.  I found 2 pretty immaculate older black Priuses (Priui?) about an hour away.  One at a dealer, one a private seller.  I make Tyler wake up at 8:30 and drive me to the dealer first, so we can get there early.  We show up, ask for the salesman I'd talked to a few days before, and he announces "I just saw somebody drive that car off the lot.  Let me go double check."  So he walks us to the spot where it was, between 2 newer and way-too-expensive Priuses, and apologizes.  Damnit, at least we have the private seller to fall back on.  I call her, and let her know we're on our way, at which point she tells me that she just took a deposit on it 10 minutes ago, so don't bother.  Aargh!

So, now it's take 2 on finding something that will work.  I can't find any more hybrids in the same price range as the ones that got snatched out from under me, so I'm kind of looking at everything.  Not having much luck.  It doesn't help that I do keep finding cars that I fall in love with, but would be completely irresponsible to buy without an income for restorations and a garage.

Like this Chevy I found.

Or this Plymouth

Or, heartbreakingly, this Pontiac ambulance, that the owner is threatening to scrap if it doesn't sell

But no, I can't have a nice car.  Eventually, I'm going to find some horrible 2000's sedan, or hybrid, or something "responsible," and I'm going to spend a lot of money for something that won't break on me, all the while resenting that car manufacturers decided to forgo any sort of personality or design aesthetic  in their cars, all while trying to convince us that a hybrid that gets 40 mpg is somehow amazing, even though gawd-awful Geo Metros were getting that milage 10 years before hybrids came onto the market.  

Whenever I hear people complaining about how American carmakers are struggling, or lamenting what will happen to the US auto industry, I honestly wouldn't care if GM and Ford bit the dust.  If they're going to shove tauruses and caprices at us, they deserve to struggle.  It was their decision to ruin cars, they can live with it.   What really gets me, is what are classic car enthusiasts going to do in 30 years?  Will we all be fighting over the remaining 50-100 year old cars, or will some nostalgia switch flip, and suddenly we'll be wanting today's crapburgers, because compared to the 2040 models, they're actually pretty decent looking?  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Looking for cars sucks

I've been trolling craigslist looking for a new car - basically, I'm fed up with having to share my car with Tyler, so I thought I'd look for a 2nd car for him to drive.  I was pretty much looking for something under 5k, not white, either a sedan, coupe or hatchback, and relatively new and unlikely to break down.  Basically looking at 10 year old Volvos, Toyotas, Hondas and Subarus.  Every one I looked at, I felt pretty "meh" about.  Sure, they'd be practical, but something about buying something that expensive that I don't love makes me feel like a schmuck.  Kind of like I felt by having to sell my '67 caddy hearse in order to buy a "practical" pontiac vibe.  Selling my hearse killed me a little bit inside, and here it is 2 years later, and there's still a cadillac shaped hole in my heart.

Well, I know there's no way in hell I could buy another hearse while I'm out here (I don't think they'd appreciate it too much if I showed up to rotations in a hearse,) and ambulances of the same era are much harder to find, and tend to not be running.

So I found this car instead.

1960 cadillac 4-door.  Tail fins.  Flat black.  Only $5700.  Not new, not practical, but makes me squee harder than any car has in a long time.  I kept coming up with reasons why I could justify buying it, even though it'll break all the time, be really hot to ride in, get shitty milage, and generally be the kind of pain-in-the-ass that only classic cars can acheive.  Then Tyler had to shit on my parade, and bitch about how it'd get stolen in our neighborhood, how it'd be hard to get back to Colorado in 2 years, blah blah blah.

So now every other car I've looked at absolutely sucks in comparison, and I've lost all motivation to find something.  At this point, I'm tempted to just take my stupid Pontiac Vibe back from him, and tell him to ride his broken 80's Mongoose bicycle to work.  How's that for impractical?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Just a couple pictures

Couple pictures of the new place.  There's still a few boxes of things we don't really know where to put them, but overall, everything's pretty settled.   My backyard has almost no shade, so I'm trying to figure out a cheap, non-trashy solution for that, so I don't feel so bad about letting my pups out for more than a couple minutes in the afternoon.  I'm also trying to figure out a way to combine a raised vegetable bed in the back with greywater from my washing machine, but I don't know if it's really worth the effort, since the season's halfway over.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Quick Update

We finally got internet at the new place, and we're all settled.  We just went from 1100 square feet to around 700, so it's tiny and cramped, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be.  Our med student neighbors are gone to their 3rd year rotations in Oregon, the jerks, getting out of Pomona early.  They did, however see fit to take advantage of having friends moving in behind them, by leaving extra trash around the yard for us to have to dispose of for them (including an entire BBQ they just didn't care to bring with them.)  Anyway, I'm pretty much done with moving for the next year or so, so I'll just suck it up, and slowly fit their crap into the trash can an item at a time, as there's room for it.

We had to have a tech from Time Warner come out today to install our cable.  He was waiting for the cable box to turn on, and decided to make small talk.

"Where do you work?"
"Oh, I don't work right now, I'm a student."
"What are you studying?"
"Vet Med."
"Did you just say Batman?"
"I wish."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More Waldo Canyon Fire Stuff

Looks like the fire back home has gotten even worse today.  The fire's moved North, and they're evacuating more residential neighborhoods.  It looks like all that separates my mom's neighborhood from the current evacuation zone is interstate 25.  The only thing worse than being homesick is not being sure if you'll have a home to come back to.

Monday, June 25, 2012

My home state is a tinderbox

It's not going to be a good summer for Colorado.  Right now, there are 7 or 8 wildfires raging in different areas of the state.  One of the wildfires is right up against my hometown.  They evacuated the entire city of Manitou Springs over the weekend, and they've evacuated some of the ritzier neighborhoods closer to the mountains.

 A view of the fire from my undergrad, UCCS.

 A picture of Garden of the Gods that breaks my heart

Up close.  

So it appears that the fire's almost 4,000 acres, 0% contained, and it's been in the high 90's and 100's with no sign of rain. I'm probably not going to be able to make it back to Colorado at all this summer, and probably won't be back until December.  Seeing a big black scar on the side of the mountain is going to be a kick in the stomach.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I absolutely adore the internet sometimes.

If you're not familiar with The Oatmeal, you should be.  He makes absolutely hilarious geeky comics.

Last year, the author of The Oatmeal blogged about hundreds of his comics being hosted on, a site that lets users upload material, and makes advertising revenue off of the traffic.  Funnyjunk retaliated by pulling some of his content, having their users spam him with hate mail, and basically being douches about the whole thing.  Apparently, now, a year later, they had a lawyer send him a letter trying to extort him out of $20,000, plus make him remove his post where he accused them of profiting off of content stolen from him and other artists (which they totally do, but that must be beside the point).  Seriously.

Because The Oatmeal is so awesome, instead of hiring a lawyer to privately tell them to fuck off, he posted the lawyer's letter, edited it to point out all the flaws in his reasoning, and verbally emasculated the lawyer and  He then said that instead of caving to their threats, he would instead try to raise $20,000, photograph it, send the photo of the money with a drawing of FJ's mother being seduced by a bear, then send the money to two charities.  Last I checked, instead of twenty grand, he's up to $173,000.

That should be the end of it, right?  Obviously, people sympathize with him, realize what jerks funnyjunk and their lawyer are, and funnyjunk probably wouldn't have a case, if they were to follow through on their lawsuit.

Oh, no, it gets better.  You see, the lawyer, Charles Carreon has always billed himself as being an "internet lawyer."  i.e. somebody who should know how the internet works.  So now, he's acting all surprised that 1. he was made to look like a moron (seriously, read his letter.  He comes off as somebody who's completely clueless about how websites work,) and 2. didn't expect any sort of backlash for accepting a job from somebody who's clearly in the wrong.

Apparently, he's gotten a bunch of angry emails, and is licking his wounds.  He's even quoted in an interview as saying "I'm completely unfamiliar really with this style of responding to a legal threat — I've never really seen it before"

REALLY?  So it's ok to try to extort 20k out of somebody who's annoyed that their content is getting ripped off, but it's not ok for them to escalate your stupid demands to the public sphere?  Aww, poor little lawyer, is that not how they teach you to negotiate in law school?  You would think that somebody who specializes in internet law would be familiar with how the internet picks up causes, and forms awesome, angry mobs.  Like when anonymous found the woman in england who threw a cat into a dumpster, or when Cook's Source got caught stealing copyrighted material from various websites.  How did Charles Carreon NOT foresee this as a possibility?

Oh, he could have just stopped there in his douchiness.  But no.  In the same article, it says this of Charles Carreon; "He also explains that he believes Inman's fundraiser to be a violation of the terms of service of IndieGoGo, the website being used to collect donations, and has sent a request to disable the fundraising campaign."

Let me see if I have this whole sequence of events right.
1. Steal content from hilarious, wonderful internet comic writer.
2. Threaten to sue said comic writer for defamation when he publicly complains of your theft.
3. When said comic writer points out what a joke your threat is, try to shut down a fundraiser, depriving two deserving charities of $173k.

The administrators of funnyjunk are douchecanoes, but Charles Carreon, by trying to shut down the charitable fundraiser, is such a huge douche, he's a complete douchecraft carrier.

Want to support The Oatmeal?  You can donate to their fundraising campaign here, or you can buy his merch here.

And just in case I embedded way too many links in this post for you to click on, so you're not completely lost, read The Oatmeal's original post here.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Every animal but one in my house has a shaved belly.

I brought both dogs and 3 cats to the ultrasound lab both days this weekend.  My dogs handled it pretty well.  My cats are all kind of standoffish now.   I didn't bring Chicken, because she's evil, or Stego, since she just got spayed last week (so even though she wasn't part of the lab, she already had a bald tummy.)  So yeah.  It's definitely an interesting look for everybody.

I didn't go to the lectures in the morning, because I'm a failure at waking up early, no matter how much I want to do something.  I did get to watch the veterinarians who were taking the course practice ultrasounding while I was restraining my pets, so I managed to pick up a decent amount of secondhand ultrasound skills.  I can pretty readily ID the kidneys, adrenal glands, iliocolic junction, aorta and vena cava on the ultrasound screen.  Other things, like the liver, pancreas and spleen still just look like TV static to me.

Still no luck on the job hunt.  I talked to some other classmates this weekend, and aside from the people who were going back to their old clinics that they worked at before vet school, it seems as though very few people have found jobs.   I'm really starting to miss how UCCS had summer classes that I could enroll in full-time, and get financial aid to help with my cost of living.  (Which is, incidentally how I got my BS in 3 years.)  This whole summer thing kind of blows in a depressed economy.  Yay!  I have 2 months off, in which I cannot find a job, nor can I enjoy, since I can't afford to do anything!  Wheee! Yay summer!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Job hunting sucks

Aargh.  I just want to find a summer job.  So far I've had two interviews, with the promise of calling back in "a few weeks" for a second interview, a bunch of resumes have been black-holed, I've had two "thanks, but we want to hire somebody permanent, not just over the summer" replies, and one "we don't really hire techs over the summer, but apply with us again once you're a vet" replies.  Stupid depressed economy.  I did, however manage to get 5 of my pets a job over the weekend.  They're getting volunteered for an ultrasound CE lab, I get some cash (about time those mooches started paying their own way,) and I also get to listen to a couple bonus ultrasound lectures, which should be really helpful.

I also got to do my surgery for the spay study yesterday.  Besides a few hiccups before the surgery already started (the whole schedule was running late, plus I kind of missed that my shelter dog had a spay scar hidden under her fur, so we had to scramble to find a new dog,) everything went really well.  It was really great practice, and I learned that just because I can do buried intradermal sutures really quickly on a practice board doesn't mean that I can do them quickly on a real dog for the first time.  For it only being 2nd year, I've already gotten to do most of two (OVH) spays (with the exception of closing the incision,) a neuter, and now a complete OVE spay from start to finish.  Not too shabby.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Excited for tomorrow

Tomorrow I get to do my ovariectomy for the spay study.  Today I have to go in, do a physical exam on my dog, walk her, and name her.  Since she's a shelter dog, she'll be getting adopted after I do the surgery.  Here's to hoping that not only does the surgery go well (which I'm sure it will, since I'll be assisted by a board-certified surgeon the whole time,) but also that she finds her forever home soon.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

A photo that accidentally turned into a bit of a soapboxing

People who know me know I used to work as a piercer for years before coming to vet school.  My next door med school neighbor decided that she needed some piercings before she left for her 3rd year rotations in Washington. Here's what she decided to do:

That's three 7/8" titanium surface bars - one vertical, and two diagonal.

When it comes to "professionalism" and body modifications, I've always felts like I have to be an ambassador for countering negative stereotypes.  I've always felt like because I have piercings and tattoos (and sometimes fun hair colors,) that as a result, I have to be "more" than everybody else.  I have to be more polite to strangers - holding doors, smiling for no freaking reason, and more tolerant of the stupids.  I have to be more successful than other 27-year-olds.  Basically, I feel as if by having my sleeve or piercings visible, I have to give off a positive impression to the public at large, in order to make body modifications more acceptable for the next generation.

We're getting there.  At the veterinary hospital I worked at, every employee had at least one tattoo (including the owner/veterinarian,) some of us had sleeves, and I pierced most of my co-workers, (once again, even the owner.)  Clients never had a problem with it, or if they did, they never said anything.

My next door neighbor will be a physician in two years - a physician with a pretty massive surface piercing project.  That's a big step up from some of the physicians I've come in contact over the years who have been completely ignorant of anything related to body modifications.

When I worked as a body piercer, I personally pierced police officers, doctors, lawyers, judges, nurses, coroners, a nun, you name it.  Last time I looked at the statistics, I think about 13% of americans overall had at least one tattoo, and in some age ranges, the numbers are as high as 40%.  Strangely, I've never seen similar statistics for body piercings.

It's kind of nice, thinking that probably within my lifetime that the taboo surrounding body modifications may be completely lifted, especially in professional settings.  I can guarantee that it's not that professionals of all stripes aren't modified - in fact, those with better jobs can afford amazing full-body tattoos that are conveniently hidden under their suit and tie.  It will just be nice when we feel that we don't have to hide under long sleeves or dermablend.  We're getting there.  As older generations die off, the power and perception is shifting.

One thing I've always tossed around is the possibility of specifically advertising your business to the body modification community.  You know how there's tow truck companies, or dry cleaners, or whatever that have the christian fish in their ads?  (Which, incidentally works on some people.  Tyler's mom apparently will chose a Xian company over a non-Xian company with lower prices or better service.)  I wonder if restaurants, or retail stores, or doctors, or vets advertised, or let it be known that they were mod-friendly (to their staff and their customers/clients,) if it would gain them an advantage by targeting a previously ignored demographic.  If it'd be possible, I have some pretty awesome ideas for hiring Erik Sprague and Dennis Avner for a business card/billboard photoshoot.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I should BBQ more often

Last night we had a BBQ.  Somehow, even though we only provided homemade ice cream and a couple sides, we now have a fridge full of leftovers.  I should seriously just start having barbeques instead of buying groceries, since every single time I've had one, I've ended up with more food than I started with.  Oh, and if you have an ice cream maker, you should make this ice cream recipe.  It sounds like a bizarre flavor combination, but it was so amazingly good.

I got some really good news yesterday.  For our third year rotations, our only zoo option was the LA zoo.  From talking to a bunch of current 3rd years, I gathered that it wasn't the best zoo to go to (not that I've heard the zoo itself was bad, but that it didn't have as glowing reviews as the others), but when we signed up for our rotations, it was the only option.  About a week or two ago, we found out that the Wildlife Safari in Oregon was accepting 6 students for next year, and I managed to be one of the lucky 6!  Now I don't have to battle traffic driving to LA every day for 2 weeks, and from what I hear through the grapevine, will get much more hands-on experience than I would at LA.  Finding that out seriously just made my week.

I'm also sending in applications like crazy trying to find a job.  I have one house call vet that wants me to interview with them, but they're throwing up all sorts of red flags, and the whole situation makes me nervous.
1. After googling their email address, I was taken to a poorly designed website that doesn't list the veterinarian's name, but does mention that they do accupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Two strikes there.
2. They want to 1099 me, instead of hiring me on as an employee.
3. Their advertisement said they were paying between $25-30/hour.  Who pays techs that amount?  Will they pull a bait-and-switch on pay? Are they able to pay that amount since they're not paying all the taxes they would on an employee?  Are they just not a very shrewd business person?
4.  They asked me to swing by the clinic they work at to interview on their lunch break, but not to call there, because their boss doesn't know they're setting up a house call business.
5.  They were more worried about whether I could lift 75 pounds, assist with euthanasia and had my own health insurance than any of the other information on my resume.
So, what do you think?  Scam?  Start-up business that just isn't run very smoothly?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Looks like I tried to drop off the face of the earth for a bit there

Last week was kind of crazy - the 2nd VBS test, Molecular and cellular biology, and the PAVE.  Basically, took all three of them while fighting the burnout of two weeks of straight testing.  (And from talking to classmates, I certainly wasn't the only one.)  The PAVE was pretty brutal.  Since I'm so great at making bad decisions, I stayed up until 4:30 the night before hanging out with my neighbors, then took the test on about 2 hours of sleep, and slightly hung over.  Everybody at school said not to study for it, but I think I accidentally took that to a whole new level.  I'm pretty sure there's a difference between "don't study" and "actively sabotage yourself."  I guess that's one of the great things about not being interested in an internship or residency - I can pull a stupid move like that and still feel pretty freakin' zen about it.

Anyway, I left immediately after finals to go to my Grandma's funeral, and just now got back into California.  I'm going a little bit stir crazy - not only do I not have anything I have to do right now (it's so HARD to shake the feeling I should be studying!), but I also quit smoking immediately after finals were over.  I haven't had a cigarette since Thursday night, and I'm not entirely sure what to do with myself.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

And then there was one

I'm pretty much done with finals.  I have tomorrow off, and then I take the PAVE on Thursday.

I had my molecular and cellular biology test this morning at 9, and for some stupid reason, I stayed up until 4 yesterday talking to the neighbors, so I took it in a very sleep deprived state.  After taking the test, I went home and took a nap for a few hours, and I have been in the best mood since waking up.  I don't have anything stressing me out, and this is probably the calmest I've been in a month.  It's pretty great.

Friday, I fly out to Colorado for Grandma's funeral.  Tyler has to drop me off at LAX probably 5 hours before my flight so he can get to work on time.  Which means I should bring my kindle.  Which means I GET TO READ FOR FUN!  Fiction, not physiology!  Wheeee!   That makes me way happier than it should.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

This is either going to be epic or unwatchable

What do you think?  Does it have potential, or will it suck?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Week 1 of finals down.

3 more tests next week to go.

This week hasn't been too bad for finals.  I actually felt good about our first VBS test after taking it Tuesday, and I didn't screw up too badly on the practical.  I know I mis-labeled a tonsil as a lymph node, but that's a hell of a lot better than a few blocks ago when I labeled a lymph node as a testicle.  At least they were remotely similar this time.  Oh, and we had a case on our first VBS test that wasn't very anatomy-heavy, so they told us to review the liver for it.  Then on the test, there were only a couple liver questions, but a buttload of ruminant GI questions, which I haven't reviewed in about 6 months.  That was fun.  But who knows, I felt awful after last block's VBS tests, and I did ok on them, so maybe it's a bad sign to feel good about them afterwards.

We had our clinical skills test today.  I'll be honest, I didn't really study for it.  I looked at the suture patterns we had to do, realized they were all ones I could do well, and I peeked at some ECG abnormalities.  The one thing I decided to practice - hand ties using suture - was the one thing I effed up.  I've got tons of chains of perfect little hand ties here at home (haha, attached to the arm of my couch), but the two hand ties I had to do during the test?  Shaky hands, kept losing my grip on the suture, and I couldn't do anything gracefully.  *facepalm.*

In slightly interesting news, one of my friends here got an email that was bcc'ed to 11 other students saying that their titer levels on their rabies vaccines came back low, and they'd have to get boosted.  12 students out of a class of 105 seems like a really high number of vaccine failures.  Especially considering This study of vet students that showed only 2% didn't have high enough titers 2 years post-vaccination.  Hmm.  Statistical anomaly?  Something on the manufacturer's end?  Mis-handling of the vaccines on the school's vaccine clinic's end?  Lab error with the titer testing?  The world may never know.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Grandma passed today.  The selfish half of me is feeling sorry for myself, and feeling like the world is just that much emptier, now that it's missing somebody as unfailingly kind as she was.  The other half of me is relieved that she's no longer suffering.

Grandma was one of those people that never had a bad word to say about anybody, no matter how much of a jerk they were.  She always exuded kindness, love and acceptance.  The first time she met Tyler, she gave him a giant hug, and automatically accepted him into the fold.  When I was a little kid, and we would spend a week up at her house, I would bring my pet rats with me.  Now, I'm pretty sure Grandma was not a rat person, especially having grown up on a farm, they were a pest species to her.  But she would pretend to ooh and aah over them, because she knew they were important to me.

She was pragmatic.  She and Grandpa had the greenest thumbs of anybody I've ever met, and when I was a kid, their backyard was a lush wonderland that would put Martha Stewart to shame.   She'd send us grandkids into her perfectly manicured garden with clippers, and encourage us to bring back big bouquets to display, even if some of her gorgeous flowers would get mangled by 8-year-olds with gardening tools.

She was compassionate.  One summer when I was a teenager, I was taking a walk behind their house, and chased a magpie off from eating a live bat.  I wrapped the bat in my jacket, and took it back to her house, where she helped me put together a box to keep in in, and brought me first aid supplies (and heavy work gloves) to tend it's wounds, while grandpa built a bat box in his garage for when we released him.   I remember her crying, and genuinely feeling guilty about the one time she accidentally ran over a garter snake with the riding lawnmower.  She would help me roll back yards to find the garter snakes in her yard, and always emphasized how they always tried to provide safe places for them to coexist in their yard.

I'm going to miss her like crazy.  But there will always be a piece of her in my heart.  As much as it hurts to lose her, my life is that much richer for having known her for the past 27 years.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Next week is going to suck.

We finished our very last class today (now we just have finals to worry about).  I managed to sleep through my alarm until 3 minutes before I was supposed to be to class.  Somehow, I was only 7 minutes late.  

After class, those of us who are doing that spay study met up to watch an ovariectomy.

I left after the spay, to find a message on my phone from my mom.  My grandma's been going downhill for awhile, and today she's been non-responsive, her BP's non-measurable, and her breathing's really shallow.  So I've been trying to brace myself for the inevitable, while simultaneously trying to just focus on school.  It's really hard to study for finals when the computer screen is too blurry through tears to be able to read.  I got to see her over spring break, before she really started to decompensate, and I've gotten to speak with her on the phone a few times in the past couple weeks.  So no regrets there.  Just that she's always been one of my absolutely favorite people in the world, and I am in no way prepared to lose her.  I'm also pretty angry about how her medical care the past few months has gone, because human medicine really fails at end-of-life care.  She's been in hospice for the past few weeks, but I really think that vet med offers its patients more dignity than we offer our elderly.  So I'm in this weird place, where I'm kind of relieved she's passing, because it's an end to suffering, but I'm feeling really selfishly sad for myself.  It's going to be a rough week.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Today was our last day (EVER!) of PBL.  We still have classes tomorrow and friday before finals (anatomy, and a clinical skills lecture,) but no more sitting around in small groups brainstorming over cases.  Except for when we're on rotations, and brainstorming over cases with other students and DVMs.  Or when we're in practice and consulting with colleagues over cases. But ignoring the "PBL" we'll be doing the rest of our lives, this was our last structured PBL session of vet school.  

The class of 2015 was doing a fundraiser selling finals survival gift baskets, and our facilitator bought one for our group.  It had a bunch of goodies in it, but the best part was a squeezy stress ball piggy.  

Bwahahaha!  I love him! 

Speaking of pigs, there was another fundraiser the class of 2015 did today.  They were charging people to vote for a faculty member to have to kiss a pig.  The local potbelly pig rescue showed up with not one, but THREE pigs.  One 2 year old potbelly, a 7 month old, and one that was only a couple weeks old.  Cuteness overload!  I got to give the babies skritches, and the oldest one would "shake" on command.  Sorry, I didn't think to take pictures of baby piggy goodness, and I don't want to rip of other people's pictures off of facebook.  

After filling up on piglet cuteness, I went with my friend Christine to the Banfield, where she's boarding her 
3.5 week old kitten she's bottle feeding while she's in class.  Not only did I get to hold her adorable munchkin, but there were 3 other kittens in there I got to say "hi" to through their cages.  It was a little too much adorableness crammed into one lunch hour.  

But yeah.  I made it through 2 years of PBL.  8 separate groups of 6-8 students + 1 faculty member.  And I managed to get 8 great groups, never hitting the "dud" mix of classmates or a bad facilitator.  I lucked out. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

You know what I'm not going to miss about being in class?

Formaldehyde.  We were looking at some horse lungs in class today, that were particularly pungent.  I kept leaning over them to look at different structures, so I got quite a mouthful of fumes.  I can still taste the formaldehyde.  At least when I worked as an embalmer, we used a lower index arterial fluid, and I'm pretty sure it was scented - it smelled like Sprite Remix tasted.

Here's something that's absolutely disgusting that nobody wants to know about - I kept forgetting to bring my lab coat home from anatomy lab to wash it, so around December, I just brought another one to school.  I keep bumping the sleeves into specimens, and they're both absolutely disgusting, but I keep forgetting to wash them. So now, I'm looking forward to the end of the year, when I'm going to burn them.  Because they're that bad.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Not Sure What to Feel

So today marks the first day of our very last week of PBL.  It's a short case - we only have PBL today and Wednesday, and we only have one BSL lab this week, plus two clinical skills talks.  We're done with our molecular and cellular biology class, and we'll be done with our ethics and law class on Wednesday.

This week is such a weird mixture of everything - excitement to be done, sadness about being done, bewilderment that two years has passed in such a blur, stress over finals, and excitement/terror at the prospect of beginning clinical rotations in August.

I've mentioned this to people before, but I'm pretty sure vet school involves some kind of wormhole, because there's no other way to explain how the past two years moved by as quickly as they did.  And as bitchy as I've sounded in recent posts, they really have been an amazing two years.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New feature!

Look to the top right of the page, right beneath the horse picture in the header.  See that new link?  I'm setting up a store for  I ask that if there's something on there from amazon that you would have purchased anyway; for instance, textbooks, for those of you in the incoming class, or NAVLE prep materials, a new stethoscope, or an extremely cute mustache toy for your pooch, that you click the link to the store to buy it, instead of going straight through amazon.  It doesn't cost you any extra, and helps me out a bit.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I was contemplating taking down the post from earlier today

Because, let's face it.  It was kind of hostile.  But then the more I thought about it, the more I thought, "fuck it.  the hostility was deserved."

Here's what happened.  Last Friday, and Wednesday, we had a clinical skills class.  Before each class, the instructor decided that they needed to plug their laptop into the loudspeakers in the classroom, and blare shitty pop music at us.  Then today during molecular and cellular biology, one of our groups of classmates decided to do their powerpoint presentation on heartworm with the title of each song a pun based off a pop song.  Which was kind of cute.  Until they decided to aurally assault the whole class with a 10 second clip of "Quit Playing Games With my Heart."  There is nothing cute about forcing a captive audience to listen to boy bands, no matter how brief.  I'm pretty sure had they played that music at Guantanamo instead of waterboarding people, there would have been a public outcry, and actual war crime sanctions against the US.  Even though I got a gawdawful earworm before I was fully awake today, I did misdirect some hostility at my classmates, who were in all fairness, trying to be cute, and trying to make a boring presentation more entertaining.  (FYI, stick with veterinary medicine - I'm sure you'll be a great doctor, but comedy is not your strong point.)

The hostility comes from a place of helplessness and frustration.  I pay to go to school, and learn veterinary medicine.  I pay a lot for that privilege.  The classes I attend have required attendance, (unless you're a certain person who I have ranted about recently.)  If I'm subjected to something that is most definitely NOT veterinary medicine related, and I stand up and walk out of the class, I risk getting in trouble for it.  However, somehow it's perfectly ok for somebody else to ear fuck and entire room of people with their "music," and that's ok.  And I interpret forcing your personal musical taste on people as an act of hostility.

For instance, take my next door neighbors (the douchnozzle ones, not the amazing D.O. students).  One of them likes to work on cars in their driveway.  Which is literally 2 feet from my bedroom window.  They like to blare mariachi from their car speakers at what has to be at least 100 decibels.  It shakes my entire house.  Listening to the bass lines makes me ashamed to be a bass player (because I might get lumped in with these people who think that a bassline consists of C, G, C, G, repeated on tempo for 5 minutes straight.)  And I can only come up with two explanations for my neighbors playing the musical abortions they play at the volume they play it at.  Theory #1 - they're so self-absorbed, that it never occurred to them that sound travels, they're not the center of the universe, and they're absolutely clueless that anybody might find their actions objectionable.  Basically, they're so narcissistic that nobody exists within hearing range except them.  Theory #2 - It's an act of outright hostility.  Much like a dog pissing on somebody's leg, the neighbors are saying "I own this airspace, and I will fill it with the most foul sounding shit I can, because fuck you."  So basically the options are either clinical narcissism or sociopathy.

That's also how I felt during class last week.  I'm trapped in my seat, and I just want to learn about thoracic radiology and get on with my life.  But no.  Instead, I'm subjected to loud, inescapable music and bullshit self-help pop psychology quackery that has no basis is peer-reviewed science.  Once again, I'm left to my theories.  Theory #1 - this person thinks that everything they love must be so wonderful, and must be shared, and everybody will love it because they do.  Basically, they have no concept that other people have different taste, and that their ideas and music aren't the only things out there.  And they're having so much "fun," so the "fun" must be shared with EVERYBODY! i.e. Narcissism.  Theory #2 - They secretly hate us, and like a dog pissing to mark it's territory, they decide to fill the air of the classroom with their piss to mark their place in the pecking order.  i.e. Hostility.  I can't come up with a flattering theory.

So yes, I'm hostile about music.  I listen to all sorts of music that doesn't suck.  Classical.  Metal.  Jazz.  Bluegrass.  Classic rock.  BUT, I also learned from a very young age that not everybody has the same taste as me, and I've always made it a point to not force my choices on other people, because that would be rude.  Apparently, not everybody got that memo, or doesn't have the empathy to figure it out for themselves.  But I've always made it a point to turn down the volume in my car if my windows are open, or to pop in earphones if I'm listening to something and somebody else is in the room.  It strikes me that it takes either extreme hubris or indifference to others to do otherwise. But maybe that's because I make it a point to not do rude things to other people.  Unless you count passive-aggressively calling them rude online, but guess what?  They can choose whether or not to read this.  I could not choose whether or not to sit through class.