Wednesday, March 28, 2007

school update

i guess i haven't talked much about school lately (other than open house). this semester has been so much better than the previous. i've been insanely busy - but as i said before - it's mostly non-core class related. i spent 9ish straight hours yesterday working on my 'what's your diagnosis' submission for JAVMA (journal of the american vet assoc). the first draft is finished, thank god. after 2 more hours of tweaking today, plus meeting with a board-certified radiologist to discuss my interpretation of the CT scans. it's a really neat case. once (if) it's published, i'll post it here. but that'll be a year or so - probably right around when i graduate.

at any rate, my point was that - at this point in time - i have straight As in all 7 of my classes. not too shabby, eh? of course, if i don't start studying for my finals, that could rapidly change. but it probably won't. finals start on tuesday of next week and continue through monday of the following. so if i drop off the radar (which i probably won't) that's where i am.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

thank god that's over with!!

and by that, i mean THANK GOD that's the last open house i'll ever have to do at the vet school. it's utterly exhausting. not only was i (and my other chair, sharon) in charge of all the student workers, their pets, set-up and tear-down, making sure everyone had breaks and lunches, etc - i also had to take care of the american eagle foundation staff, the rehab people, the appalachian bear rescue, and keep tabs on how the zoo was doing with the bird show. the first day of open house, one of the hawks (a harris) decided it would be fun to hang out in the arena's rafters and not come down for an hour. naughty bird. he was eventually retrieved. in the meantime, i swear that bird was laughing at its handlers.

at any rate, our exhibit turned out beautifully, the flow of traffic was easy to handle - although we were SWAMPED. saturday was busier than any other saturday of open house i've ever worked. i'd estimate we saw about 1000 people or more. it was insane. but it's over. all our planning turned out marvelously, and we had no mishaps. titus permitted over 400 people to handle him, although he still didn't allow anyone to pet him. cheeky parrot. i was very proud of him. i felt bad, however - on the 2nd day, he was obviously (as was i) exhausted. despite the large crowd checking him out, he tucked one foot up, fluffed his feathers, and attempted to nap. it was the funniest thing i'd ever seen. he was swaying forward slightly, like a student in class, fighting to stay awake and failing. anyway, he got lots and lots and lots of peanuts from lots and lots of people for his good behavior. children in particular found it very exciting to feed the parrot. and titus found it very exciting that he got 2 lbs of peanuts in one day - when ordinarily, he gets 2 peanuts every other day. all in all, everything went swimmingly. i'm just thrilled it's over.

now all i have left to do is my ultrasound final on tuesday, write my advanced imaging paper, tutor a first year student, arrange the farewell BBQ for one of our most beloved and dedicated professor (30 years at the vet school), plan a dinner meeting for friday night, host a behind the scenes zoo trip for the AWE club, work on my dermatology unknown cases, and study for finals. oh, and finish up 16 accreditation tests for 4th year. i think that covers it all. *gag* i have a lot to do. so i guess i'd better stop procrastinating.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

the ipod saga

the american heritage dictionary defines a fanatic as a person marked or motivated by extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm. i am a music fanatic. and when i say fanatic, i mean it in big, bold, underlined terms. FANATIC. this year has been hard for me, and often my only solace is the music i carry with me everywhere. i literally cannot do without it. the comfort of familiar and unfamiliar songs, lyrics, chords, guitar solos - it's a balm for my soul like no other. that said, it's probably fairly obvious that i own some sort of current mp3 device. and i do - sort of. hmm. where to begin this ridiculous story?

about 2 years ago, i bought a 20gb 4th generation ipod color. i loved it instantly, developing a sort of symbiotic relationship in which it was permanently attached to me. it did well for the first year, as i recall. at the time, i also purchased the extended best buy warranty (3 year). sometime after that 1st year, the hard drive crapped out. no problem, right? i took it to BB, they shipped it to apple, and then back to me. less than 2 months after getting it back, the hard drive died again. again, it was sent off. and again, it broke shortly after returning to me. on the 4th malfunction that requires repair, best buy replaces it with a comparable product. chyeah. right. amazed at the incompetency that led to 4 hard drive failures in a row, resulting in my being without my player for 3-4 weeks at a time, i had little faith in their ability to fulfill the policy. sure enough, instead of taking the allotted week and a half to 'officially' junk-out the ipod and replace it, they screwed something up - and it's going to take another week and a half, at least. i was prepared this time though - when the pod broke the 4th time, i decided to turn it in, hope for the best (that they would actually eventually replace it, per the policy - then i could resell the replacement product), and i went to circuit city and bought myself a microsoft zune. after some difficulty installing the software and an extremely long sync time, i had a working mp3 player again. but after 2 weeks of using it, i was unimpressed with microsoft's technology. i took it back yesterday. i decided, based on all the reviews i'd read, to try a 30gb creative zen - supposedly a comparable product to the ipod. excited, i brought it home, installed the software, and waited. and waited. and waited. the zen never came on, even after 7 hours of charging - nothing. the software also crashed my computer 3 or 4 times. i finally gave up this morning, when - after charging all night - it still wouldn't turn on. so, i took it back. again. i think they know me by name now - and probably suspect me of perpetuating some weird scam based on buying electronics and returning them shortly after purchase...

after all this - i decided - stay simple! i bought an 8gb nano (flash drive = no moving parts = not as easy to damage - yay!). we'll see how this works out. i'm delighted that it only holds a fraction of my library. *note heavy sarcasm* but it's the smartest thing to do. obviously, if you give me a hard drive, i'll just break the damned thing. it's that special alien-given ability i have to destroy electronics by just balefully staring at them...

anyway. open house is tomorrow. all our hard work as exotics chairs (me and sharon) will finally pay off. i hope it all goes well. everything, remarkably, seems to be finished and ready. our people have been helpful, we've lined up several community groups to come and do public education - including the american eagle foundation and the knoxville zoo. so, it should be exciting. we're even having the african grey (from the knoxville zoo) of david letterman and leno fame (einstein) at OH, doing a bird show.

the weather here is absolutely beautiful. the windows are open, a breeze is blowing through the house - stirring up masses of cat hair and bird dander. i love spring. i also love that i am without any exams for the next week and a half - then 5 finals - then -- yes, i'm going to say it. then then then I'm a FOURTH year vet student. for real...*Sigh* scary thought...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

home sweet home

when we broke out of the extremely low cloud cover, only about 100 feet above the airport, i felt a sense of relief. i was home. i didn't realize i missed home so much until i saw it again. the mountains, the rivers, the familiar homes and roads, tennessee. i thoroughly enjoyed my time alone, with my thoughts and with the utter lack of any real responsibility. everything finally went out of my head for a while, and i just drifted along for a week - concerned with nothing in particular. it was the blankest mental week i've ever had. i'm glad for it, because now i'm back - facing my final 2 weeks of classes, followed by a week of exams, 2 weeks of transitioning, and then a long, hard, last year before i can put this experience behind me and begin an 'adult' sort of life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

never a dull moment

actually, it's been a very subdued spring break. i've been able to spend a great deal of time a) sleeping b) eating c) with the family and d) with two of the best people i know in the world (jeremy and amanda - in no particular order). sadly, the lovely, bright, HOT sun hasn't put a dint in the pastiness that is my flesh. i haven't spent much time in the sun. saturday, i laid out beside my uncle's pool, but the sun refused to cooperate at all and kept hiding behind clouds - only coming out for brief moments of strength. it was a beautiful day, just not suitable for helping the progression of my future skin cancer. at any rate, my break has been low key. lots of eating out, seeing movies, and going to concerts. actually, i've seen 1 movie - 300 - which, while fun and pretty to watch - was extremely vapid and...well - i think vapid sums it up perfectly. and i've only been to one concert - but it was sooooooooooooooooooooooo ridiculously good i can't even begin to explain how much i loved it. well, i guess i can - i'm seeing the same 2 bands again on friday night, when i get home. jim and i are taking an overnighter to asheville, NC to see band of horses and cary ann hearst at the orange peel with luke and lucinda, then crashing at luke's place.

i cannot say enough about either band of horses or cary ann hearst. i went to see band of horses, and they were awesome live. cary ann hearst and the gun street girls (her all male band) were amazing, too. i didn't expect that. opening bands are usually - ehhh - take it or leave it. but this band - especially the lead singer - was just unreal. cary ann's voice was somewhere between dolly parton and jenny lewis - husky, southern, and raw. her songs are hillbilly rock (but not rockabilly - although i'm not sure what the distinction is), and once you hear them, you won't be able to stop singing them. i had such a great time at the show. i can't wait to go see them again!

the only downer was, after 3.5 hours of 3 bands, hard rocking, and a few beers, we returned to the parking lot (at 12:30am) to find the car not where we'd left it. NOT a good feeling, especially in downtown orlando - where you're not sure if the car was towed or stolen. turns out we parked in a tow away zone - as evidenced by the TEENY TINY little WHITE non-reflective sign posted in an obscure place. it took us almost a full circle around the parking lot to find the sign with the towing co. number on it. i felt stupid, needless to say. but anyway, we got the car back and made it back to lakeland by 1:45am-ish. it was worth it - to see this show.

at any rate, i have 2 more days in la-la land, until i have to return to the harsh realities of real life and responsibilities. it really is great being mindless and aimless with nothing more to concern me than what to waste the day doing (or not doing, as the case may be).

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

do i look like i care about carpal hygromas?

apparently my large animal ortho professors think i do. ah well, no convincing them otherwise. suppose i'd better try and learn something before the prison-style raping i expect to be coming my way on thursday. *sigh* the life of a vet student. no, in all seriousness, school has lightened so much this last semester of classes that i laugh at my own academic laissez-faire. for those of you reading, i have no idea if i'm using that term correctly. i know that laissez-faire is an approach to business/economics that basically means 'government keep out' - but it's also french for leave it be/alone. so, i think i can reasonably use it here. if anyone out there wants to correct me, please - FEEL FREE. maybe i should say c'est la vie. but i don't think that conveys my utter lack of motivation/caring. hrm. there's got to be some cool french saying for how totally ambivalent i am about the impending doom of my large animal ortho exam (coming on the heels of yesterday's small animal ortho exam, on which i did reasonably well, i feel).

i think the coffee has sunk its fangs into me to study more about lameness in those ridiculous four-legged animals i like to ride.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

musing on our distorted views of human sexuality

when exactly did society begin to put such a high price on being rail-thin? i pose this question because of two incidents over the past few days. the first was a "documentary" (i use the term loosely) i watched on the history of sex in cinema. one of the opening scenes was of an early, silent, black and white nudie flick. the woman portrayed in this particular film was neither thin, nor particularly glamorous. she had a round little potbelly, thick thighs, and a pear-shaped rear end. in short, she looked NOTHING like society today would have a naked woman dancing for the pleasure of the masses look. she certainly didn't resemble angelina jolie or cameron diaz or any of the other myriad skinny look-alikes running amok in california. this woman wasn't ugly, but she certainly didn't conform to the standards of the 21st century. which was a-ok with me. at any rate, on the same token, today i ate lunch with a dear friend of mine. she is intelligent, vivacious, funny, and pretty. she's always struggled with her weight, putting on 20 lbs since we started vet school. however, while she's heavier than she should be, i would never describe her as fat. i love this girl, she has one of the sweetest personalities of anyone i know. at any rate, on friday night, we went out for giant greasy hamburgers and french fries at one of my favorite delis. during the meal, she kept exclaiming over and over how much she was enjoying her hamburger. it was kind of odd, but i didn't really think much of it. however, over lunch today, she informed me that after dinner, she kept thinking to herself how much she'd enjoyed that hamburger. further, after much self-examination, she finally realized what it was that caused this delight. she said that it was because of me that she so enjoyed the food. i was a bit mystified. but she explained that she always feels tremendously guilty when she eats something that she 'shouldn't' - that she fears that people are judging her for being overweight and not eating healthily. and that eating with me made her feel comfortable, because i never lament the amount of calories i'm ingesting or seem to feel any sense of guilt over having french fries for dinner. whereas, when she eats with our other gorgeous, thin, workout addict friend, she has to constantly hear about the calories in her food...

so those 2 things got me thinking. granted, i'm not overweight. i've always been built stockily (thanks, dad!) - like a little french pony (as laura ingalls wilder once said). but i've never had trouble losing weight if i wanted to, and i've never really felt fat. i eat a lot of crap, and i seem to stay in the same weight bracket, more or less. but i'm not skinny by any means. i never have been. i have big boobs and a very round butt. when watching movies (notably last night, vanilla sky with a VERY thin cameron diaz and penelope cruz), i realize how skewed our self images are (including mine, sometimes). when did we start starving ourselves so that we could look a certain way?

i realize that standards of beauty change, constantly. over the years, we've evolved different looks, different ideas of what constitutes beauty. and, in some ways, that helps keep me stable when i start to worry about how i look or if i'm too heavy. it's all arbitrary. but somehow i feel that most of the people i know and love don't have that same perspective. furthermore, health considerations aside, physical appearance is not that important. sure, it might help you get a job or something along those lines, but overall, our physical presence should be dimmed by our inner presence. i think of friends i've had that, when i first met them, i didn't find attractive at all. but the more i got to know them and love them, the less i became aware of their physical appearance and the more i began to think of them as beautiful.

it made me glad that my friend, whom i do love dearly and think very highly of, would feel comfortable enough and happy with herself enough around me to allow herself a 'naughty' indulgence. often falling so short of my goals as a person, it was nice to know that something intrinsic about myself makes other people relaxed. if only i could convince her how beautiful she is - on the inside. and on the outside, too - then i'd accomplish something...

**one caveat: i'm not championing morbid obesity here. there are people that need to lose weight for their own health and personal well-being. i realize that.**

Saturday, March 3, 2007

ugh. 7:30AM on a saturday morning

and i'm going to spend the next 4 hours learning how to ultrasound. and then i get to come home and frantically cram for my small animal ortho exam on monday. and when that's over, i get to frantically cram for LA ortho on thursday. but then on friday, i board a big white bird and go to florida for a week to see the fam.......i'm holding out for that...