Tuesday, March 30, 2010

May It All Come True For All Of Us...

" Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get, but if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen." ~ Conan O'Brien

Monday, March 29, 2010

Thinking About An "A"

I think I got one, or am darn close... calmest I've ever been on a test save for the ones where I was too drunk to care back in the '80s.

Think I'll celebrate with a manicure (I know, I shunned them before but seriously, I DO like manicured nails), a dye job on my not-so-blond-brown-gray hair, and maybe some Latisse for my eyelashes.

Also included: teeth whitening, maybe a little Edamame from Pei Wei, AND a little time with my beloved son playing his favorite game (and kicking his butt at it).

Yes, I'm going to spoil myself and you know what?!

I deserve it!

Make it a great day!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

From The Headlines @ CNN...

I cannot make this junk up, and because I'm trying to keep this blog family friendly, I won't post a picture that would appear appropriate for the story... Story has absolutely nothing to do with med school, or the pre med journey, I just find the picture in my mind, hilarious.

A Pennsylvania man attempted to resuscitate "a road-killed opossum," state police say.

But this was one possum who wasn't playing possum -- the ugly creature remained dead.

Troopers responding to the scene in Oliver Township on Thursday determined that Donald J. Wolfe, 55, of Brookville, was drunk, according to the police report.

Several witnesses observed Wolfe's failed resurrection of the flattened marsupial, police said. It was not immediately clear how he endeavored to restore the possum's life.

The arresting officer in the incident was unavailable for comment Friday. Attempts to reach Wolfe were also unsuccessful.

Wolfe will be charged with one charge of public drunkenness, police said.

Friday, March 26, 2010

For the Canadians...

I was going to repost a comment from a Canadian reader, but decided not to. Rather, I want to clarify a few things that seem to have been mis-perceived.

1) I do not like what I have heard and seen with Canadian health care for the very sick. If a patient is healthy, there appears to be no problem in getting to see a physician. There is no waiting period, no review, the person just goes to see the doc.

My experiences with Canadian health care have been with the very ill, or very old. That experience has not been stellar. What my friend who died said was, that she preferred US health care over Canadian because she could get the medications she needed here whereas in Canada they are not prescribed because the government doesn't allow it. In the US she could have been on experimental treatments whereas in Canada she could not. The last time I spoke to her, she said that she was praying for a miracle that would allow her to get to Mayo as that would surely give her life some promise.

She never made it.

That bothers me still.

2) There are hundreds of thousands of health care horror stories in the US, of that there is no doubt. Doctors messing up in the surgical suite, labs running the right analysis on the wrong patient and accidentally switching up lab reports.

However, if a choice can be made by the wealthiest in the world about where they want to be treated... they come here, to the US... not Russia, not Germany, and not Canada.

Why is that? I do not know. I believe whole heartedly that physicians educated and trained in Canada are just as capable as those in the US. I know a few myself. So, then what is the difference?

As it stands now, I would believe technology and less governmental interference in advancement of drug therapies and diagnostic tools are the difference. For if the people are taken out of the equation, there is nothing else to look at.

3) And to Elizabeth, you do not upset me. I do not know you. The Canadians I have met... well, were very rude... arrogant, and selfish EXCEPT for the ones related to my friend. Those Canadians were the most giving, gracious, and unselfish that I have met - from any country.

But I liken it to this:

Americans say the French are rude. Americans generalize and say Parisians are the worst of the French and to avoid speaking to the locals while there because of the rudeness.

On the other hand, I found the Parisians I met to be very nice, polite, helpful... mind you, THIN! :D

So... the few Canadians that I have met have been rude and the one whom lived with me for almost 2 years, was the epitome of evil. My son still bears the emotional scars of what that man did to him and to me. I tried to look beyond that and met the two at the Olympics a few years ago.

I would also say this:

How many people judged Americans when President Bush was in office believing that we all felt the same as he did in relation to Iraq. How many people thought since he was our President, that we must support his ideals and his agenda? I didn't. I didn't vote for the man (nor did I vote for Obama - truth be told, Colin Powell has had at least one vote for the past 3 elections from my great state, and someday, he can thank me for that write-in vote).

4) I don't disagree there is something wrong with the insurance programs here in the US. I don't disagree that there needs to be something done about providing care to all without running the hospitals into the ground financially.

I say get the business people out of the mix and their billion dollar salaries (the CEOs), limit the executives and the numbers of executives at those insurance companies, cut down on pharmaceutical ramp up time for therapeutic drugs, disengage the lawyers (who by the way are the ones who wrote the piece of garbage that piece of garbage signed), and let the doctors who do the doctoring do their jobs.

Dear Austin

Twenty four years ago you entered my life in the middle of the night. The woman with me said the only time tears entered her eyes were after you were whisked away from me. My eyes watered when I heard you cry.

I'm sorry I won't make it to your spot today... The polished, black marble stone that lies at your feet is not enough... It says you are at play in the fields of the Lord. I hope so. I hope you run, and play hockey. I hope... that you forgive my shortcomings as a mom while you were here on Earth. I hope Stasha is there by your side and maybe you've even gathered Duchess, Tank, Boozer, and Gretchen by your side, with Abby yapping wildly.

There is never a day goes by that I do not think about you. I've often thought you stood by Garret's side when he rushed in to do something stupid, whispering quietly, "Garret, its me, Austin; your older brother; don't do it." I've often looked up and said a quiet "Thank you, AJ"... I remember the time a truck was barreling down on Garret and something stopped it. That was you, wasn't it; protecting Garret from disappearing in my life too. My son, you were always my "Babycakes".

Six months was far too short a time to spend with a beloved son. While remarking to others that at least I got some time that others never get, I wish I could have had more. Your sparkly blue eyes, lit up the world. It is still painful to remember.

If it is true that those in Heaven know what their loved ones feel and think, then I guess you already know... How 24 years can pass, each day a little easier, and yet on this day, I miss you even more.

Happy Birthday, Austin! I love and miss you, Babycakes.

~ Mom

My Rant Deleted

I'm not prone to outbursts, blame crabbiness, intense stress from court proceedings, and a bunch of emails (healthcare debate does that, apparently), but I deleted my GTFO of the U.S. post.

Many reasons for that primarily: I'm not going to turn my blog about my journey and the bumps, highs and valleys of the pre med journey into a political diatribe on my part. There are enough others out there who thrive on political commentary, I'm not one of them (at least not publicly).


Thank You, OMDG

For the wise words, constructive advice.

This is, by far, the most calm I have EVER been heading into an exam.

While I may not score the perfect 100%, I slept last night and my head is not pounding.

Thanks again!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Experience - First Hand With Canadian Healthcare

After waiting for a month to get in after she found a lump, my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35. She then waited another 4 weeks to get it biopsied to see what stage. She then prayed for strength, hope, and the capability to get the U.S. for help. She continued to hope and pray, and wait to see physicians for chemo, and whatever else. She never made it to the U.S.

She died.

My uncle is married to a women a from B.C. He always said his ability to get healthcare for FAR CHEAPER in Canada was the draw as long as he was willing to wait a very long time to get into a doc. When his health started to fail, and he needed to be seen by a doctor that day or the day after, they left B.C. and came to the US where he knew he could be seen quickly, without question.

He is early 90s now. He said as much as he'd rather have lived out his days in Canada, he is living here because of his ability to see a doc quickly.

The others I know: a family in Alberta, friends in Toronto, other friends in upper Ottawa.

I think I do have first hand knowledge of the health care system in Canada and from I have heard, seen, and those whom I've met who were trained there:

Physicians in Canada are just as capable as those in U.S. It is the ability to see a physician when one wants that has been the difference.

Note To Self

Taking Concerta at 3 pm is unwise.

Great for studying and keeping focus, not so great on getting a good night's sleep.

Healthcare Reform - I Hate It

I will try to not start a riot but:

I hope it fails in the courts.

I believe all Americans have the right to health coverage but it is NOT the family docs who should have to shoulder the burden of what has been passed into legislation.

And they are.

The general population of America feels like doctors are far too wealthy and that the doctors are the reason for healthcare being so expensive.

I can assure you, family docs, the one most of you see, are not the reason for the rising costs... but they are the ones to get hurt first.

The specialists will see a decline in their payments and their costs will go up.

10 years from now, when healthcare in the U.S. has gone the way of Canada where you wait for 4 weeks to get a cancer biopsy, you will see the ramifications about what this bill does.

Meanwhile, the CEOs of the largest insurance companies: UHG, et al will still be raking in billions.

Pharmaceutical companies will still be raking in billions.

Doctors will flee practicing medicine because

1) they can't afford the malprac insurance

2) they can't afford to spend another 3 hours a day on their already 14 hour days trying to get paperwork done

3) people will die regardless because Granny won't be paid for by the government and the health insurance won't cover Granny's expenses either... the care will be decided by a board... Do you want to trust your elderly parents' care to the decisions of people who's sole purpose is to save money?

Last, you may be questioning the payments made to doctors:

The medical education right now, in the U.S., averages about $175,000 for MED SCHOOL, not for undergrad work. Upon graduating the med school student is in residency (enslaved) being paid about $35,000 per year and expected to start paying back that $175,000 PLUS whatever undergraduate loans were taken out. Many new physicians start owing about $225,000+ in student loans.

A new family practitioner makes about $135,000 a year. That sounds like a lot of money to many. I can assure you, it is in many cases but not when you have to pay exorbitant malprac insurance. And time wise?

If you make $1000 per check and work 45 hours a week, you make roughly $22/hr.

The physicians I know, the family practice docs, make about $2500 a week at 80 hours to make roughly $31/hr.

I hate this piece of legislation. I hate that this piece of legislation will push many awesome docs out of practice because they are simply fed up already. What they, and me, went and are going into practice for, is not to push paper, not to answer and fill out dictation, not to have realms of paper on the desk but to be with patients.

If you thought the 15 min doctor visit was bad, it will get worse.

I can assure you, its not about the money. It's about the lack of a life working 80 hours a week already.

(cross posted to Wynonna.com)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Ming Vase Story

A precious, gorgeous Ming vase was sitting on the mid-shelf for all to see and admire. The vase was inspiring to all, and everyone who knew about the vase and knew about the preciousness of it, were inspired to find it themselves.

One day, through misunderstanding, someone moved the Ming slightly from the perch and in doing so, left it precariously atop the shelf.

The Ming's shelf was slightly bumped one day, tumbling the vase to the glistening marble floor shattering the vase into a million different shards. Each shard still held the glimmer and the beauty, but the whole vase was destroyed.

As time moved on, the vase was put back together. Never quite the same but still radiating warmth and admiration. Upon closer inspection, someone noticed there was a tiny, minuscule sliver of glass still missing. The shard that would ensure the Ming glimmered and shone like before is still out there, trying to find its way back to the Ming... while the Ming patiently waits.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mom & Knee Replacement

Ad2b has been a bit harried lately...

I have not talked about my mom a lot here and I'm not sure why. Partially due to privacy, partially because it has taken some time for me to wrap my head around our relationship.

For years, our relationship was distant at best. I was ever thankful that she'd help me, actually insisted, on helping me with my son. I knew, or wanted to believe, that she really cared about me. My brothers, on the other hand, are her life. She hears from them and lights up. Me, not so much.

As the years have gone by, my mom has become a trusted source of help. While my dad's complete patience has started to give way to irritability and insolence, Mom has been calm and often my preferred person to talk to.

I have come to really love my mom. Ask anyone who really knows me, they'd find that incredibly hard to believe.

This past Friday, my trusted confidant, had total knee replacement done. She'd been walking with a walker for quite some time, taking cortisone shots as they were timed, and hoping something would help. No pain shots helped, no cortisone shots left her pain free and mobile.

It was time.

Seeing her on Friday was a hoot. Alert, laughing, telling stories, listening to my latest with my ex bf, and I could tell, scared. She knew, as I did, the spinal had not worn off yet. I cherished my time with her that day.

Saturday came and it was rough. With the spinal having worn off, the pain settled into her leg. Sadly, no one told her the morphine pump could be used every 10 mins, and the lidocaine around her leg pumped every 2 hours. By the time she was informed of all this, she'd been suffering.

My dad was looking harried and worn. At 80 and 60 years of marriage to his credit, his wife was suffering and he felt utterly helpless. The nurses were in to wash her leg, get her to stand up, redress the wound, and get her onto clean bedding. The pain was evident.

At first I was not sure if my mom would let me help her. But then I told myself:

If she were your patient, or someone else you were visiting, not your mom, what would you do?

The nurses got her settled back into bed, I got to look at the incision, ask my questions about pain management and how the morphine pump vs. the lidocaine worked. I was fascinated by the medical side.

I sat with her a bit until the morphine set in, held her cold hand in mine telling her the worst was over. I tried to do what I could not knowing if I helped or not.

Yesterday was better for her. The physical therapists are god-sends and had her sitting in a chair. She sounded good. She sounded better.

All of the past few days got me curious as to what actually happens during total knee replacement. I found a few sites and this one, is kind of neat. You get to diagnose your own "patient"...

Still thinking ortho is SO not me (the cutting on bones makes me cringe) but this site is interesting nonetheless.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Where Does The Anger Go?

If I ever see something like this. Makes my blood boil, my fingers itch for retribution. A few years ago Toby Keith had a song about the Taliban (I've loaded that below too).

The young woman was sold to another family who abused the life out of her. At 18 or so, she ran away. "Friends" took her in and said they'd keep her safe. These supposed "friends" gave her to the Taliban endorsing, abusive family, whereupon they took her to Taliban court, and judgment was made upon her.

Her nose and ear were cut off as punishment. In any case, it is horrific. In this case, it was done without pain medication.

Here is a link to the story on CNN.com http://afghanistan.blogs.cnn.com/2010/03/18/shaming-her-in-laws-costs-19-year-old-her-nose-ears/?hpt=C1 by CNN correspondent Atia Abawi.

NO religion I know of prescribes to this kind of depravity. None. Not Islam, Hindu, Christian, Jewish ... none.

Physicians treating this poor young woman must have had a hard time containing their anger.

So, how does a doc stop that anger? Where does it go? Running? Tennis? Racquetball? Horses?

Eventually, I'm sure all docs see patients who've been traumatized by someone, or something.

Tonight, I'm just horrified, angered, and sick. Poor young girl.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PhD Programs - My PoV

Many years ago, when my youth made me think life was forever, I remember thinking about the MD-PhD program. I remember thinking I could drink all day and every night and still muster, somehow, the ability and intellect to pass classes with A's and get into med school.

Life's slap hurt!

Fast forward many years (counting all fingers and toes on normal homo sapiens and you'll get close), and my thinking on the MD-PhD path has not changed.

The physician in me has always loved working with body parts... bandaging fingers, mending toes, placing neosporin on oozing wounds, and birthing babies. About 24 years ago, I was present as a friend in early labor asked me to stay with her until it became unbearable. Hours passed, her husband was by her side as well, but when the labor became heavy, and the pain intolerable, she asked me to stay. I did.

My first "delivery" was a 13 lb healthy baby girl. Seriously, 13 lbs. I was amazed at many things and have now often thought I should write my old friend. The whole birthing process was fascinating and amazing.

The accident scenes upon which I've found myself entailed broken body parts, a lot of blood, gashed faces, embedded windshields and car roofs, and worse. I've found myself under the roof of a small car with a semi's cab on top of the vehicle with a human pinned inside. Holding the victim's head still enough until the rescue teams arrived, I was nonplussed by the blood, exhilarated by helping an individual out. Hopping in my truck and driving away thinking no one knew who I was save for the police (I always give my information just in case there is a question later - liability and all, I think I understand what I can help with and what I'm better leaving to others).

It has been my unwavering desire to help others in a clinical sense. The diagnostician in me wants to merge with the care-giver. The only way to do that is M.D. I'm not cut out for a nursing role as subservient is an adjective seldom, if ever, used with me. I need to diagnose, prescribe, direct, strategize, listen, and help. Yep, I need the control.

So, how does my avid interest in research get the fix? I don't know as an M.D. if I don't have the PhD behind it.

I'd always looked at the dual degree as a means to treat the patients for which I was hoping to work with - oncology - and do research on various treatments. Even today, I seem to look for, and find, ways to draw parallels. It seemed to me, that as a treating physician, I'd see many more parallels - and with a PhD, I'd be able to set up the testing, obtain the results, analyze, and then publish with the ultimate hope, of being able to save my own patients' lives.

But... I'm old now. At least too old for the MD-PhD program but NOT too old for either of them. I do plan on practicing until I'm 75 or 80. My own father is 80 and works almost 20 hours a week as the cute little carry-out grocer in the small town where he lives.

Not sure this post answered any questions. It's more of a brain dump of my head on the whole matter and a reticent look backward on my life and what I should have done years ago.

Monday, March 15, 2010

MD-PhD Route Explained

I was going to write up my thoughts but given the current migraine, I'm taking the lazy route (and in this case, wiser route) and just posting a link to OMDG post instead.



Friday, March 12, 2010

Inner Geek

There is an online test, for those of you too young to remember, in green screen type.

It is here:


That I took the dumb thing is indicative of my geekiness, that I scored 24.06% to garner a "Geek" tag but just under "Total Geek" tag is confirmation. I know that I am a geek. Guys I have dated have said, "Yep, you're gorgeous, fun, loving, ..." insert the blah blah blah and then I'd never hear from them again.

I think it was my geek factor.

Business types want the proverbial sycophant woman who shuts up, wears Prada, drives like an idiot, perfects her manicures and pedicures, has perfect hair, perfect teeth, and of course, the perfect designer dog.

I'm a geek. I love science, math, and Discovery channel. If the History Channel has something cool on, I'll watch it too. I thought Michael Jackson was awesome before he died and his eccentricities just that, nothing more. While I love and play most sports, I love to be outdoors whether the bugs are out or not, and whether or not the fish bite. I've found that life is too short to worry about my nails being perfect or that my house is not perfectly cleaned for the perfect party with the perfect car and the perfect boyfriend.

I am a geek.

And honestly? As a future physician, wouldn't you rather that your doctor be geeky and into science than into the hair and nails? Wouldn't you rather that your doctor cared more about being up to date on what new medicines are available, or new diagnosis that could help save your life, rather than whether the pedicurist is available today or not? Wouldn't you rather your doctor be well rounded in many things so that you feel comfortable talking about anything with him or her?

I know I would. So... guess I'm still finding that medicine is the fit for me... geek and all.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why Not Both!?

Got talking to a chemistry professor yesterday who has been around a few years, seen a few things, trained even more chemists, doctors, and biologists. He started by talking about proposed MCAT changes inferring they are coming sooner rather than later (BE ADVISED: THE MCAT EXAM REVIEW & PROPOSED CHANGES COMES UP IN 2014 - NOT NOW).

Anyway, we started talking about analytical chemistry. My current lecture professor and lab instructor believe I would love the analytical lab. I think I probably would too. The math, the overall picture, the math. Then he asked a few questions:

Why medicine now?

Why not PhD now?

Ending with a:

Why not BOTH now? I was stunned. Did he not see the gray hair in my otherwise brown topped head? Did he not see the crow's feet starting to accentuate my eyes? Did he not see the exasperation in my face as I am just not sure I will get into EITHER program let alone try to get into one?

What he did see was, according to him, is that I'm bright, I like intellectual things, I love to be challenged and pushed intellectually.

I do, however, love working with patients and cannot imagine not having the patient contact the MD brings.

I wish I COULD do both. I just want to be a physician. And if for some chance, my life 20 years ago gets held against me in the app cycle, and that my current 3.8 is not good enough, then I will pursue the PhD.

It was fun to talk to him yesterday. It was fun to think that one day, in my past, I could have really done both. But today, I'm going to be happy with just one. M.D.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wow - Federal Grants

Not what I expected to find when I was clicking through various links on Google results of "financial aid - non traditional students." Bunches of links popped up including the usual Fastweb, et al.

However, I also had a link, pop up box that said "MILLIONS IN GRANT MONEY" for various post high school degree pursuit. I giggled a bit as I clicked on the link fully expecting the money scam operators to pop up as well.

Frankly, those types of links and questions DID appear. I skipped them :D

However, a click on another link brought me to this:


And from there, my interest soared. I know the likelihood of me obtaining a grant from the list is limited, I'm hoping that because of my current job experience, I may have a slightly better shot. That, and one of the grants is for rural family medicine.

Man, one grant would alleviate much of my financial struggle, give me research on my CV, a more in-depth knowledge of rural medicine from various perspectives, and possibly lead to other grants.

Cross your fingers! I wrote the physician I shadow and asked if he'd be willing to be the supervising physician of my work. He is swamped... he has my dad for a patient... he lets me shadow... he encourages... I'm hoping this will be one more item he's willing to help on.

Reality Check (edited)

Got a call, several actually, from my mom yesterday and early this morning. Found them this morning when I finally found my phone.

Was thinking she was calling about the insurance on the car, the payments required for other things, grants for this and that related to school. But no, that was not the case.

Dad is in the hospital. He is almost 80. Young at heart but his body has still been functioning for 80 years.

Reality check. Has the stress of my life caused him to start failing earlier than he might have otherwise. Reality check. I know he is worried sick over my situation and the numerous hardships I've faced during the past two years.

Now I'm sick. He is ... the greatest man I know.


Dad is home and resting comfortably. Apparently, he got a good case of the flu and the fluid loss was creating havoc.

He is fine. I'm relieved... more than relieved!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dagnamit Algebra

Quadratic equation. Seriously, what the heck is so hard about this??? Plug some numbers into the dumb thing, use the pretty pink TI-84 Plus Silver Edition calculator (courtesy of my son), get the x= answers, fit into equation and see which one works.

And yet!? Growl. Sigh.

I love math and yet I cannot, for the life of me, get the same answer twice. It's driving me nuts.

Math is awesome. I think it's the calculator buttons that I'm getting confused on. Something is just not right... and it's making me... giggle.

Who'd have thought 4 years ago, 3 years ago, heck TWO years ago, that this little nuance would drive me nutty. Drive me to eat chocolate for breakfast.

Back at it...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

This Morning's Email

What Does Your Dog Say About You?

After I giggled a little thinking she probably thinks I'm too boring, and he probably thinks I don't pet him enough.

The female, Hope, is a golden retriever. If golden's description is supposed to fit the personality of the owner, then so it does.

Golden Retriever – Golden retriever owners are generally laid back good people who love the outdoors. They enjoy spending time with their friends and family and many have jobs where they help people. Most also devote some of their free time to volunteering and frequently donate to various charities. Some can be a little too trusting.

But then there's Storm (Harrel's Stormin Norman actually) who is nothing like his name sake. Often joked at ~ yes, I do believe he understands this ~ he flicks a paw, sneaks a lick here and there, and is generally the naughtiest dog I've ever owned. Housebroken yes! Naughty!??! OMGosh, yes!!!

Great Dane – Owners of Great Danes are good-hearted people with a keen sense of responsibility. They take their life and work seriously and strive to do their very best. They like to keep on top of world events and like to debate important issues with others. They aren't prone to silliness but do enjoy lounging around the house on the weekends. Favorite TV show: 60 Minutes.

So, what does this say about me:

Love the outdoors - check
Love spending time with my family - check
Have a job (or WILL) that helps people - check
Volunteering time - check
A little too trusting - CHECK!!!
Take life/work seriously - check
Lounging around the house on weekends - check

However, not being prone to silliness? I won't publish on here what my son and I have done, said, or gone to that would disprove that point. My favorite TV show was Friends, and I hate debating. Hate it!

Apparently, I'm more like a golden retriever. Guess that client of mine a few years ago was right, if not abrasive and abusive as well.

He told me, "You're like a golden retriever!! I can push you around, stomp on your head and you still won't do anything about it."

Well, that might have been true but I did remind him that I was HIS auditor while smiling ever so... devilishly.

Here's the link if you want to see what your dog says about you. I still think mine say I'm good hearted, love them to pieces, and "Where's the food??"


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Why The VeGetarian Crossed The Road

just kidding. This post is a tribute to two readers who for reasons they don't know, made me laugh this morning.

Q. What do you call a vegetarian who has gone back to eating meat?
A. Someone who lost their veg-inity.

Q. What do you call a militant vegan?
A. Lactose intolerant.

Q. What's the best way to keep milk fresh?
A. Leave it in the cow.

By the way, for those of you wondering, some of my friends are vegan or vegetarians. I am probably pretty close to vegetarian myself. It is a choice, a mental distance between that which has fur and that which ends up on my plate covered in some sauce that somehow I can't always jump.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Amusing Sight On Way To Work

My job takes me through a bunch of ... interesting places each morning and then onto campus where I work for a great man (fully tenured at that!).

Anyway, this morning's amusing sight:

a veterinarian running down the street in full scrubs, with a cigarette in one hand, and what looked to be a coffee cup in the other.

He's a vet. He works with animals (well, we ALL do, but you know what I mean). He is secluded in a university setting which tends to be pretty... low key.

In one hand he had a coffee mug to amp himself up, and in the other, a cigarette to bring him back down.

And he was running. For the bus. And he was late, and presumably smelly.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Go Do It

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.

Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Howard Thurman

Been a long time since I logged onto a certain older non-traditional student premed forum. Saw my signature line written above.

Some two years ago when I registered on that forum, I had no idea where my life would take me during the next two or three years but I knew that going back into the business world was killing me. I never fit in.

I likewise knew how excited I was to take chemistry, how the inner workings of biochemistry made my smile beam. My feelings have not changed.

The quote by Howard Thurman applies to anyone, not just me. Find something you love and chase it. Find your dream, and pursue as if your life depends on it, for honestly, it just may.

People who are happy in their careers and academic endeavors are more balanced, more affable, more-better (haha, great English) to be around.

Depression sets in when people don't find an activity they enjoy. Depression sets in when people sit on the gluteus and become idle.

The world needs more people to come alive. Thankfully, I'm chasing my own dream and I have, become alive.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jumping Into The Killer Whale Debate

Orcas. Cetacea Odontoceti Delphinidae: all dolphins, porpoises, whales; all toothed whales; all dolphins. Order, suborder, family.

Killer whales belong to the family of dolphins. The animals are not fish.

Some 13 years ago, a young 5 year old tentatively stepped to a wet staging area wearing bright red rain boots and a big smile. Guided by a youthful blond handler, he was led to the big black and white killer whale, Sally.

Sally weighed in at that time around 8000 pounds. Sleek, gorgeous, small compared to the others she did as she'd been trained to do: opened her mouth, let the 5 year old pet her, waited for her chunked salmon treat, then sunk slowly bank in the aquarium to swim around, flash her tail fluke, splash the crowd, and entertain everyone.

The mother of the 5 year old was hooked; the 5 year old beamed.

The trainer was Dawn Brancheau, the 5 year old (if you hadn't guessed already) my son, Garret. I have the pictures and am trying to get the negatives to upload the pictures to this blog, but that's not the point of this post.

Killer whales are amazing animals. Every show that Sea World put on that I could see while I lived in Florida, and the one time I was able to go to San Diego's Sea World, were awe inspiring. There was never a moment when I did not realize these were still wild animals. There was never a show where the trainers did not likewise state the same. In fact, it was often mentioned that NO ONE could be IN the tank with the extremely large male whale. I believe that must have been Tilly. The trainers said he was too big, too fast, and too powerful. Anyone who has swum with a mere dolphin knows how powerful THOSE animals are; cannot imagine the power of a killer whale.

Anyway, post living in Florida, I was likewise privileged to see them up close and personal while on a trip back in 2001 to Alaska. From the distance of about 1/2 mile, the pod was ... eye watering to watch.

The male's dorsal fin must have been about 6' tall, smoothly traversing the ocean in seemingly quiet observation of all that was around him. The large female followed right behind him, her calf at her side. The three of them sent our salmon fishing to hell but the sight they returned to me, still makes my eyes water at their magnificence and their raw, natural beauty.

Sea World.

At the forefront of a terrible tragedy, is taking a beating from the PETA activists and the tree huggers (apologies to my liberal minded, all-things-should-be-free friends) who do not seem to comprehend what purpose Sea World offers.

Yes, Sea World makes a ton ($h$$ ton) of money from the various animal shows put on by the trainers.

Yes, Sea World knew that this particular male whale had been involved in tragic incidents in the past, only one of which was truly equated to it; the other incident sounds akin to a drunk, idiot thinking he'd be the next star in a "Free Willy" movie only to meet his own demise. I liken this similarly to the bull fighters who get gored by a bull (yeay for the bull!!).

Yes, Sea World breeds the captive killer whales. Killer whales are threatened by whaling countries such as Japan, and also by the decrease in food supply due to human consumption of salmon.

PETA suggests the now-captive killer whales be freed. While I am more strongly associated with animal rights than not, PETA could not be more asinine in their opine. Releasing caught killer whales back to their natural habitat is akin to punishing them to death as their natural instincts to survive and hunt, are diminished. Releasing captive bred killer whales is akin to blithely, if not eagerly, sending them to an abysmal and short life as they are unfamiliar with hunting.

It is not sufficient to “toss” an orca back into the wild ocean and think “go eat”… orcas round up their food in a herding sort of fashion, together, with others in the pod. A solo orca is not agile enough to hunt on its own. So, those captive bred orcas being released would surely die.

One only need recall Keiko of the "Free Willy" movie. He LONGED for his human companions when returned to the wild. Perhaps, it was to be fed but perhaps, he simply enjoyed being around humans. He would not interact with other whales, he would not hunt, he would not join a pod, despite it possibly being the one into which he'd been born.

Keiko finally left his extremely large enclosed OUTDOOR, WILD facility and subsequently, found humans in Norway... and then he died as a relatively young orca. I believe, had he been left in the aquarium in the US or BC, he'd still be alive today. Sadly, he is now just a representative of what is wrong with releasing wild animals from captivity that have been under domesticated structure for too long.

Dawn did the unimaginable with animals. She died an unthinkable horrific death.

Her death showed the enormous capacity for these creatures that we have come to love and cherish, possibly thinking of them as household, if not gigantic, “pets”.

Her death opened an entire chasm of anger by PETA activists, uninformed discourse by those who think the local media are experts in whale, and complete pain for her family.

Her death showed us that no matter how much training an animal receives, it is never completely docile or harmless.

I would suggest the same could be said for humans, dogs, cats, rats, mice, gerbils, wolves, coyotes, bears, seals, dolphins, sea otters (you see where this is going?)… NO animal, including humans, can ever be completely trained to do as expected 100% of the time. Close yes. 100%, no.

To me, the whales at Sea World are well taken care of, or as well as they can be in an enclosed aquarium. Would I love to see them have a 2 mile stretch of container in which to swim instead of going around in circles? Yes. I’d be asinine to not think it’d be better for these captive animals to have a larger enclosure. Is that feasible? No. Far less feasible for these animals and far less amenable to their survival is being released back to the wild.

Ms. Brancheau’s death is horrible; my thoughts to her family and friends including those at Sea World.

However, I’m thankful she did what she did while working with these amazing mammals. I’m only jealous I did not get to pet Sally too!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dirty Wet Sock, Day Old Out-Of-The-Shell Egg

and you have my test score. However, my quiz was a perfect 100%, my lab is solid 90%+, I get to do extra credit as soon as assigned, and I'm positive my next test score will be much higher.

The confidence in following OMDG's advice is already showing (and feeling) inside.

I was told last week that I'm sunny by disposition and I've wondered where it went. Surly has become my middle name, and I'm not too proud of that.

Perhaps, some solid time in the lab, extra time on the test prep, a renewed drive this week as I shadow once again, and my sunny ways will return just as my confidence.

God knows, I hate being a crab!