February 28, 2007

Tread Lighter, for all our sakes.

John Burroughs, American naturalist, near the beginning of the 20th century wrote that "One cannot but reflect what a sucked orange the Earth will be in the course of a few more centuries. Our civilization is terribly expensive to all its natural resources: One hundred years of modern life doubtless exhausts its stores more than a millenium of the life of antiquity." Our last century, certainly is bearing out his prophecy.

February 26, 2007

Frustration, questions

Another professor emailed me privately to offer going over an exam with me that I did poorly on. I appreciate the individual attention, I do, but it also elicits a lump of frustration in my throat. I hate that my professors know me as A Repeater, or One of The Bottom Five Students, instead of bright and lively, hardworking, enterprising Alyssum. I hate feeling like I have to explain myself over and over and over each time I do poorly on an exam. On one hand I want to assure them that I understand the material and that it's just multiple choice exams I have trouble with, but to these people who have never done poorly on an exam themselves, that just doesn't compute. On the other hand, I want to smack them for assuming that I'm confused with the material. Or, I want to smack myself for having trouble with this sort of examination--it sucks when that's the only method of evaluation they use! How'd I get so far without having this trouble before?!?!

Sometimes (every day) I envy people who are doing what they love and didn't have to 'play the game' to get there. No jumping through hoops to start your own fashion industry or creating art for the sake of art. Mostly, I envy the very intelligent people who are opera singers or writers or dancers or musicians who don't feel bad about not having continued school or doing what is "right" (I've been inculcated with the idea that the only logical thing to do is to take a job in the sciences and do all your creative stuff on the side). I have this overwhelming sense of responsibility to take advantage of the opportunity I have been granted by being accepted to vet school--but I HATE being here. It's gotten tolerable, and I even have good friends and enjoyable moments. But if I had known what vet school would entail (the heartbreak, the constant feeling of failure, the extreme dedication, the loss of almost all personal time) I wouldn't have applied. I always lived my life before based on the "live your life on a day to day basis like it's the last". So why am I here where I live my life on a "counting down the years/months/weeks/days til I have a life again"? It's so antithetical to who I am. Why is the "never quit" part of my personality stronger than the "do what you love" part?

February 19, 2007

Fireballs in My Eucharist!

One of my favorite Kentucky mis-pronunciations comes from a story of Ben's mom, Sue. She's a pharmacist in Lexington, and some of the clients come into the pharmacy not really understanding what their doctor has told them, and approximate their diagnosis as best they can. One particular woman told them, she needed medicine because "my doctor tole me I got fireballs in my eucharist." After many questions while trying desperately to keep a straight face, Sue realized the woman had, not a large meteor in her consecrated bread, but fibroids in her uterus.
Imagine my delight, then, when studying leiomyomas of the uterus last night, I came across not only the words, "in human women, this type of neoplasm is commonly referred to as a 'fibroid'," but also this picture. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, a Fireball in a Eucharist.

February 14, 2007

Male Reproductive Organs Game....*GRAPHIC*

We started the semester with a course in animal reproductive physiology, which I really enjoyed. I just found it fascinating to concentrate on all the differences between species--reproduction is one of the areas where animals differ the most--I mean, it really runs the gamut! There are species of birds and lizards that don't even need to mate to reproduce (parthenogenesis). Female reproductive cycles are crazy different, but I'm going to concentrate on the interesting male reproductive organs that animals have. See if you can guess what these critters are just by their nether regions. Fun Game! Answers below with interesting facts too.

1. Hob (male ferret).
2. Drake (male duck)-did the feathers give it away? Not all birds have a copulatory organ (it's not a penis because there is no urethra), but waterfowl and ratites do.
3. Dog-believe it or not, this is not an abnormally large engorged penis. Looks like it hurts to me, but the beagle doesn't seem to mind. You can see the enlarged part near the belly--it's called the Bulbis Glandis and it swells inside the female's vagina and causes the "tie" while the semen ejaculates over several minutes.
4. Buck (male goat)-what's that worm on the end? It's not a worm. It's a urethral process and rams have it too. The cervix of does and ewes has muscular rings, and it is thought that the urethral process navigates these cervical rings to deposit semen right into the uterus. Interestingly, it can be snipped off if it gets plugged up with calculi without detriment to reproduction.
5. Beef Pizzle. Yuck! People eat bull penis and call it beef pizzle to tame the idea of where it came from.
6. Turtle.
7. Tom (male cat). See the little spines on it? A neutered cat loses these spines. It is thought that these spines help stimulate the queen (female cat) during intercourse (have you ever heard how she screams?!). This may be important because cats are induced ovulators (they don't ovulate unless they have sex).
8. Stallion-they are collecting semen from him. Takes so many people to collect, phew!
9. Llama-the female llama (and all camelids) have a bone in their cervix, which is unique in the animal kingdom. Because the llama penis deposits its small semen load directly into the uterus, the cartilagenous tip is there to make sure it's hard and strong enough to traverse the hard os cervix. Llamas have sex for 45 minutes or so, and do it in a prone position. Like the cat (and ferrets too), they are induced ovulators.
10. Lizard-in the reptiles that do have copulatory organs, many of them have 2. They are called hemipenes, and this is one of them. Interestingly, snakes have sex for up to 20 hours at a time. Whoa.
11. Boar-this fellow (the man) is collecting semen from a boar. He doesn't have to 'jack him off' but just hold his hand there with pressure. Boars ejaculate an enormous volume of semen, and so the gel fraction is being separated so as to collect just the sperm-rich fraction. The next picture shows the proud result of that collection. You can't see it in this picture, but the tip of a boar's penis is corkscrew shaped in order to 'thread' the screw-shaped cervix of the sow. Curlyque penises and curlycew tails too.

February 13, 2007

Accomplishment for the evening.

I'm not a hoarder, but certainly, I am a collector, though I'd rather not be thought of as such. I have a few collections that I considered modest, but are actually probably larger than I thought (books), or larger than what most people have (costuming). But these are the sorts of things I don't mind collecting. I love them, they represent me, and fill me with joy. And while I don't actively go out seeking to "expand my collection" of these things, I don't mind adding to them if/when something jumps out at me. There are other collections in my possession that have just collected around me, that are distasteful because they clutter and fill my space without meaning, without love. These are the collections that I can't get rid of by simply throwing out because of the frugal and environmental part of me that doesn't want to throw the 'junk' away if it's still useful, even if I hate it or would never use it otherwise. Included in these collections (embarrassment that there are more than one or two) are the cleaning agents and laundry softener left behind by former tenants; soaps and lotions given as gifts that smell way too strong to be pleasant; briefcase full of free greeting cards from charities; wrapping paper tubes left over from my grandparents' house when they died; oh, and all the pens and pencils that I'm determined to get the last bit of ink/lead out of before tossing. I also have a soap dish with no less than 6 chapsticks on it.

I like being environmentally/consumer-conscious, and that keeps me from getting rid of the collections any faster than just using the products/items til they're gone. However, I've also become more aware of my tendency to allow these collections to build as well as my distaste for them to be present at all. It's rather a conundrum--I still like dumpster diving, which doesn't necessarily help (not that I don't get marvelous things that I DO need that way), and I've got 26 years of habit built up. I've been in the 'college' mindset of finding things that will do, even if they aren't pretty (tupperware dressers), or as practical (old short stool instead of a coffeetable) as the real thing, for a while now, and it's difficult for me to let go of the old things as I replace them with nicer things. Or, let's get real here, I've just found a use now for 2 things instead of 1. The one-in-one-out rule doesn't apply in my head because I can't bear the thought of giving up (for instance) an old banged up door when it makes a perfectly good desktop, even if I were offered a brand new awesome 'real' desk. In anycase, I try my best not to add to the cruddy collections, but only work on USING and thereby getting rid of the ones I already have. I keep little rules in my head like 'use the green pen instead of the blue one, it has less ink in it and you'll get rid of it sooner," or "save your favorite lotion for when you're with Ben, use the crappy gross lotion up in the meantime," and so on. It is with great satisfaction, therefore, that tonight I used the last drops of a hair conditioner bottle, a toothpaste tube, and an aerosol can of body lotion (see? does anyone really BUY that?!), and even got to toss one of the containers in the recycling bin.