January 29, 2007

Human History of the Maritimes and Polydactyl Cats

From my genetics syllabus:
"In New England, polydactyly is commonplace. However, this is not reflected in its British origins. It appears that polydactyly arose as a new mutation in New England in the early 1800s. We can use this feline uniqueness to track the activities of early Bostonians. Although polydactyl cats are rare in Britain and the rest of our country, they are present in Yarmouth and Halifax, Nova Scotia. the cats probably arrived in Yarmouth with the emigration of people from coastal Massachusetts in the mid 18th century. In nearby Digby there are no polydactyl cats but then, when history is consulted, we find that the cats came from different sources--France and New York City. In contrast, the polydactyl cats in Halifax probably came, not with the emigrating people, but from Boston traders sailing there to do business with the European immigrants as well as on Boston ships transporting goods from Britain. Appropriately, these cats also reflect their Scottish ancestry. Thus, orange, non-agouti and blotchy tabby cats are characteristic of Halifax and the Scottish Isles and dilute, piebald spotting and polydactyly are common in Halifax and Boston."

Who knew?

Setting the Record Straight (o;

I know a lot of people don't mention to their regular day-job coworkers that they are bellydancers, just to avoid the whole stigma factor.
Yesterday I arrived at the bellydance class I teach with khakis on because I'd been working at the Wildlife Clinic earlier. My students teased me like the dickens! "Ooooh, Alyssum's being SO pro-FESH-ional" I blushed! and goodnaturedly excused myself to change into dance clothes to be the Alyssum they were familiar with.

Lest you get the wrong idea, yeah, I spend most of my life in professional school....but....well....

(why is it posting sideways??)

January 27, 2007

Favorite Rock

Ben asked me what my favorite stone is.

This is one of them.
Those of you familiar with the Red River Gorge, can you name it? Take a look before scrolling to the bottom for the answer.

It's at Left Flank. It's "To Defy The Laws Of Tradition"....or, fondly, "Defy".

Vets ranked low

Money magazine ranked being a veterinarian as 49 out of 50 "Best Jobs". The grades they gave for stress=C, flexibility=C, creativity=B, difficulty=D. And the pay you get for effort put in is way skewed. But we knew that. We vets must REALLY LOVE ANIMALS. Why else would we subject ourselves to such ridiculousness? (I often wonder...)

January 21, 2007

Ivor Cutler

I was first introduced to Ivor Cutler when I was DJ-ing at WRFL--there was a dusty record behind my seat that looked like it needed to be aired. So I did air it (and subsequently took home to copy to tape before bringing it back). Cutler tells stories about his dreadful Scottish upbringing in the driest most hilarious way, stopping at each punctuation for dramatic effect--letting the subtlety of his humor sink in. I reccommend reading this similarly--slowly, imagining an old codger reading it to you in Scotch brogue.

Life in a Scotch Sitting Room volume 2 episode 12.

I decided to leave home. As I closed the door behind me, a sherbet sucker in my hand, it started to pour. I stood in the garden, letting myself soak, hoping to die. The family drifted purposefully to the window to watch. The sherbet burgeoned out the bag. I leant to pick it up, encouraged by good natured shouts from my sister who had left home twice. The sun was setting. It was about half-past three. Mother brought in supper. It was porridge, and an enamel bowl of sorrel for those who liked it. The family reluctantly left the window and hastened to the table, eyes aglow. I was drawn towards the window; the scent of porridge excited me. With great good humor, Grandpa played his favorite trick—pursing his lips he blew sharply through his nose, making the hairs stand rigid. Too proud to return, I hoped they might summon me to the table, but in vain. I tapped faintly on the glass, but the chapping of dominoes on the table engulfed it. Grandma seemed to be winning; her red cheeks were flushed. Father was a poor loser. He hoist the nearest two children and banged their skulls dully together to vent his frustration. At last, Mother, who was quite human as mothers go, turned to the window, sensing my tapping—which a had become violent and irregular, an attempt by my sodden fingers to create a rhythm which would stand out from the well-known thrum of Scotch rain—she pointed to the door. Understanding my child’s pride, she was prepared to step down in my behest, for I think she cared for me. As I waited in the doorway, she opened the door. “LOOK AT YOURSELF!!” she shouted, and slapped me to the coil mat which had “WELCOME” printed in square black capitals. But as she did this every day on my return from school, I sensed her welcome, and entered. She dragged me aurally to the sink and rang me out. Then, picking a piece of porridge off the side of the sink, wiped it on her pinney and pushed it, unaffectedly, into my mouth. I sat by the wall and gobbled it down, then went in to play dominoes with the family, who complained bitterly about the damp smell coming from my kilt, and the clouds of steam obscuring the game, as I dried out. “Home’s home everywhere,” I muttered. There was a dead silence, then everybody stared thoughtfully at their men, and the game continued.

January 19, 2007


Maybe this means nothing to you. But....

a dog's ECG is similar to ours:

but check out a horse's. CRAZY!

January 17, 2007

Momo & Dethrre

Our cats had names that morphed. Delilah Odessa Desha was immediately turned into Didi which turned to Duthruh (Didrre) which was either Dethrre or Dittre depending on if you were speaking MomoTalk or not. Romeo Kitty Tarzan was first Romo, then Momo, then Momo (pronounced "muhrmuhr" with big upper lip movement), then Mermer, then Merm. Here are more pics I scanned from old photo albums.

January 16, 2007

Merm and Didrre

Romeo Kitty Tarzan Pohl and Delilah Odessa De-Sha Pohl were euthanized yesterday. They were the kittens we brought with us on the boat, the kittens that inspired the language we spread among other kids living on boats, Momo Talk. They fell into the water 19 and 21 times respectively during that year, crawling up pilings or the ladder to get back on the boat, soaking wet. We lived with their sand-kitty litter in our sleeping bags, and their fur in our food. They caught birds and flying fish to eat at sea, and kept my parents company on overnight passages in the cockpit. We called them the 'herd of elephants' because they thundered overhead at night, chasing eachother around the deck. And that was only the first year of their lives.
They also joined us in the Park Plaza Apartments 10 stories up in downtown Lexington. We walked them downstairs in Phoenix Park on lavender and blue leashes. They moved with us out to the farm, where they were born themselves, and were always ready to join us on our hikes, little kitty cat footsteps padding in the leaves behind us up to the arch, or trotting behind us when we went down to see the horses. Each knew their master. Whenever Chelsea and I were home, Didrre slept with me or Merm slept with Chelsea. One night when we slept up in the cave with girlfriends, Merm joined us at the height of our ghost-story scare, and kept us safe and in good company til the next afternoon when we packed everything out.
I love those kitties so much. Besides my sister, they were the only live connection I had to a time when my parents were still together. They were a constant comfort to me, part of going home was seeing them and giving them attention. I feel so sad that I didn't make it to my dad's house to visit them over winter break. I feel so bad that Merm had bad teeth and i couldn't afford to pay for a dental or that I couldn't do it myself (not for a few more years yet). He deserved it, he was the most affectionate complacent lovebug of a cat there was. And Didrre's only fault was that she was born at the same time as Merm.
I don't have any pictures of Merm (that makes me sad) on my computer, so you can click on the title to a link to the Momo Talk Opera for his tribute. These are two pictures of Didrre for her tribute.

January 15, 2007

A little light

I thought for sure my life was just doomed to 5 years of hell being here in vet school. But enough things have changed to make me feel like maybe I only had 2.5 years of hellishness, and the rest will be tolerable with occasional moments of enjoyment. (Maybe that doesn't sound very good, but it sounds like a dream to me).
1. Classes this semester are more clinically based (read "relevant"), almost all our teachers are clinicians, and even if we won't all have to know how to read a pedigree or diagnose a rare triple-step mazurka-sounding arrhythmia, at least we are being taught these things because a REAL vet, a CLINICIAN (our professor), DOES do those things regularly. Cool.
2. Teaching bellydance is going VERY well, I have lots of excited, eager students--Yay!
3. And that translates to my financial situation being reasonable instead of completely impossible (I can afford good food! I can afford to pay off some bills!)
4. I have an A.D.D. coach who is helping me gain composure over things I generally have trouble with. Whew! (This is a big one, and fodder for an entire post someday).
5. I am taking selective credit in the Wildlife hospital which means several hours/week in the clinic, working with wildlife and very awesome people.
6. My relationship with Ben--despite our physical distance--only grows stronger with time.
7. The pressure and stress of failing is finally off my shoulders enough to feel like, though I have to work like hell just to pass x class, at least there is y class where I will do okay, and maybe even z class where I do well. The pressure of being kicked out or having to repeat another year is subsiding. I can finally start thinking about the future again a teeny bit instead of always struggling with the damned present issue of Just Getting Through.
8. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Jessamyn, my roommate, starts clinical rotations in just over a month. THAT MEANS IT'LL BE ME IN A YEAR'S TIME!!!!

January 11, 2007

The numbers

Yesterday one of my dance students asked how long I was going to be teaching. I told her I'd have to stop teaching next March when I go into clinics. She asked more about what that meant. I described externships and clinical rotations to her. She said, "Oh, that's kind of like becoming a doctor," which ruffled my feathers (though I'm used to those sorts of remarks, it never ceases to annoy me)--and I retorted, "It IS becoming a doctor."

I was curious. I looked up how many credit hours UK med students take during their second year in med school.
They take 39 credit hours during 2nd year. (Which is a heck of a lot--I remember taking 19 credit hours one semester in college and vowing never to repeat that mistake again (if only I knew what I was getting myself into by choosing vet school).) Compare that with the fact that Tufts vet med students take 33 credit hours during the second semester of their 2nd year alone. We take 24 credit hours 1st semester of 2nd year, and we have 4 additional pass/fail courses per semester too.
2nd year med students: 39 credit hours
2nd year vet med students: 57 credit hours
I'd guess the med students have pass/fail courses like us too, but is it just me, or is that not a significant difference?

I've been talking about this sort of thing the whole time I've been up here, and we've got the whole "human doctors only have to learn one animal and we have to learn all the rest" argument...but somehow seeing, in black and white, the numbers...well, it just makes me all the more annoyed that vets aren't given the credit they're due. The general public thinks vets go to a 2 year community college or something, and human doctors (let alone the general public) are astounded to hear that veterinarians can do 3-5 year residencies ("Just like a real doctor!") !!

As the fed up and disenchanted Wayne said, "ehh, bite me."

January 9, 2007

Do you Procrastinate?

I have the hardest time STARTING whatever it is that needs doing most. This interview with David Allen, the guy who wrote Get Things Done, is actually really good and elucidates a bunch of important ideas. One of my favorite that he mentions is that the hardest things to get going on are often those things that are closest to your heart, and often because you are scared of failing at it or don't know what the outcome of your efforts will be. If you can relate, don't wait to take a listen.

January 8, 2007

Ben has a blog too

You can visit a portion of insight into his brain here.

The Blues

I forget so quickly why and how much I hate it up here. I can't complain about the weather (except that it means global warming which I can't help but feel guilty for by having complained for the past 2 years). Mainly, I'm just fucking lonely. I have friends here that I've made here at school. And I love them. But it's just not the same as my friends back home. My down-to-earth, intelligent, witty friends back home. Vet students are just not down to earth, we are stress cases at best. It took me a while to realize why I don't like so many of my classmates--none of us are our 'normal selves'. (Myself included!). No wonder I don't like them--some girls' way to deal with stress is to be absolute bitches, some girls deal with stress by complaining continually, and then there are those of us who just become depressed. Ugly.
I'm just lonely. I have cats up here with me, but no boyfriend, no parents or family, no friends that remind me of how I like to live my life 'for real'. All my friends here have only ever known me as a depressed, stressed vet student.

January 7, 2007

Xmas with the Pohl Family

Whoa, do you think I might be related to any of these?
[all cousins: CW from bottom--Daniel, Max (with tape on his face), Tori, Joah, Naima]

My best present, from Uncle Steve. Thanks, mang. Just whut ah needed.

Doc Pohl

In Irvine, KY where my dad works at Marcum and Davis Memorial Hospital emergency room, he has become somewhat of a local celebrity. This is because his picture is on a billboard as you drive out of town toward Richmond. I went to work with him over break and it was so sweet how some of the patients look at him with such adoring, trusting, thankful eyes. He's doing good work there.

I was struck with how many people were dehydrated because the population in eastern Kentucky drinks diuretic beverages like soft drinks and coffee before they would drink some good old fashioned water. As my dad put it cleverly, "Who made Ale-8? And who made water? Catch my drift?"

Wall Shadows

One- moonshadows of our snowflakes hanging on the window

Two- shadow of beads hanging in the doorway against prism light

Ben's new threads

No one this holiday (including me or Ben himself) could get over how damn slick these rags are! What?! Gold lame on a faux suede jumpsuit in denominations of $20s, $50s and $100s!?! Fo' shizzy, this is the fyoocha! Like 2007, man!

[Ben gettin jiggy, Ben making some deals on the fone at the Deauville, Ben and his chick (oh wait, that's me), Ben and me again--with my homemade dreads!]

For the love of Moss

Phillip loves moss (look at those dimples!)

And I still love lichen