Saturday, March 21, 2009

She blinded me...with Science! She was not blinded because she was wearing her 3D glasses.

If you don't read Um...What??, specifically this post and this post including the comment sections, you COMPLETELY will not understand this post and think that I have perhaps entirely lost my mind (very likely true, but that's beside the point). Note to all my hundreds of both my faithful readers (Hi Pater and Kia!)(because most of my friends, my mother and my brother all refuse to read this blog)(Except David, who DOES read this, and he's my ex-husband! AND he's gay! Which has absolutely nothing to do with anything): GO READ Um...What??!

Proof positive that scientists DO wear 3D glasses. See?
You: Say, aren't those Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D glasses from the DVD?
You: Then why do they say Journey to the Center of the Earth on the side?
Me:........... Hey! (pointing) Look over there! Isn't that Wil Wheaton? He's just this guy, you know?
Also, you can tell from these photos that, not only do scientists wear 3D glasses, they never wear any makeup. Female ones, anyway. The male ones might, if they're English. Oh, wait. That's just women's clothes they wear (will this prompt my British scientist father to comment? Probably not. Maybe Andrew? Great. I've probably just insulted half my readership. I'll just hope that Mr Farty never sees it).

The only real makeup I have is from when I got married and two of my friends M took me to have my makeup done, so its about three years old now (married to Bill, not to David - that makeup would be 22 years old now)(Note to self: Find out if makeup ever goes bad).

Then there's the professorial look:
(Note to self: Make sure you clean your lunch debris off your computer desk prior to any future photo shoots. Oh, and put some makeup on, will ya?)
Like my Hallucigenia mug from Charlie's Playhouse?

Special thank you to the Wildlife Forensics Lab for the loan of the lab coat and glassware (yes, really - you don't even want to know what smells occasionally waft down the halls at work. You should have been there the day the guys in my office accidentally left a net they found that had contained three dead otters ON MY DESK!!! (yes, there are evil people in the world who do nasty things to poor innocent wildlife, but that's for another post). The guys had been out counting salmon carcasses (the salmon died of natural causes) and APPARENTLY COULDN'T SMELL IT which was almost completely unbelievable to the rest of us standing in the hallway - because you couldn't actually go into the room without vomiting gagging. They figured that it was OK, since they had taken the otters out (I am really, really glad I have my own office now).

I would also like to give a really special thank you to my friend S who enthusiastically took the photos.

UPDATE: On reading through this again, I think I could almost rival (((Billy))) the Atheist for number of parentheses. Almost.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Twister the One-eyed Wonder Horse


UPDATE: Apparently, don't look at it if you are squeamish about the trots, either. (No pun intended)(Okay, I lied. Pun intended)

Yes, I have one of the smartest horses in the world, and I'm not the only one who says that.

A little bit about Twister: He's about 25 years old, and we've had him since he was 18 and William was 12. Come to think of it, Bill and Twister came into our lives right around the same time.William and Twister's first 4-H competitive trail ride. Third place!

As I've said in previous posts, he was born with a huge cataract in one eye, and developed equine recurrent uveitis, aka moon blindness in the other. When we got him, he had had recurrent infections for many years, and his eye was very scarred and caused him constant pain. It was very light sensitive so he kept his eyes closed and fell asleep a lot:About three years ago it abscessed and I had to have it removed (and not put back in like SOME people). He's been MUCH happier ever since. Interestingly, Twister isn't the first blind horse I've had. Paleface, the Pony of the Americas I had when I was growing up also went blind due to moon blindness. He also adapted and lived for many years after. (Yes, the common denominator seems to be me, but Twister had it well before I got him)

Other problems we've dealt with are: mild arthritis, mild navicular, occasional very painful hoof abscesses, and a leg wound that didn't heal for well over a year. Oh, and his teeth are almost worn down to nothing on one side, and not much better on the other, so he can't chew his food properly. I am an expert at bandaging legs, packing hooves, putting ointment in eyes (the left one, anyway), and giving shots. He also had almost constant diarrhea, for which I took him to the vet several times. They just told me that he's an old horse and there wasn't anything I could do.

What's this banana slug photo doing here? Oh, right. I'm a biologist.

Last summer, I started noticing that his poop (yes, this is a technical term - if you're a sailor) was more horselike and less cow patty-like (a scientific description). The ranch owners and I also started noticing that his water was full of hay, disgustingly stinky (another scientific description), and had to be cleaned out far more often than all the other horses. I thought he was just drinking with his mouth full, and dropping some hay in. We also thought he might be accidentally pooping in his water - after all, he IS blind. Well, turns out he's blind but he's not stupid.

One day, while I was cleaning his paddock, the ranch owner came around to feed. While we were chatting, Twister grabbed a huge mouthful of hay, carried it over to his water trough, and dropped it in. The owner and I looked at each other. Did he just do that on purpose?

I went over, scooped it out and said, "Twister, don't do that, you idiot!" He immediately sniffed around, picked it up and plopped it back in. He then spent the next few minutes slurping it off the surface. He went back over and picked up another huge chunk of hay, carried it over and dunked it in the water, and then happily slurped it up. I couldn't believe it. He was softening it up so he could chew it. We were astounded. We watched as he did this with the rest of his hay. He must have originally done it accidentally once or twice, and discovered the hay was softer and easier to chew when soaked for a while. I would never have credited a horse with the reasoning abilities to connect the dots.
And because he's able to digest his food better, an added benefit is that he managed to "fix" his own diarrhea problem.

I just have to clean out his bathtub trough frequently. I might think it stinks, but Twister's next door neighbour, Spicy, thinks it's delicious when I drain it. After:Is that a smart horse, or what? Handsome, too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What's the square root of hemoglobin?

In honor of Square Root Day, I donated blood today.

My blog is good for something, because I looked up the last time I donated. July 17, 2008. I'm up to 35 donations or 4.375 gallons, now. It will be YEARS before I hit 5 at this rate.

I would donate far more frequently if they wouldn't keep deferring me because they say I don't have enough iron. Although, no, they didn't defer me all seven months. I've managed to donate 35 times in spite of low hematocrit and other things. Other things such as: (Kia will remember this, and thanks Mr Farty for reminding me) The second or third time I donated, the needle hurt a lot. Then my mouth went very, very dry and I started feeling queasy. I could feel the blood draining out of my body.

"Does anyone ever throw up while doing this?"

Every phlebotomist in the place was suddenly looming over me holding a waste paper basket. I leaned over and threw up, managing to miss every single one. The needle was immediately whipped out of my arm, my chair was tipped back so my head was lower than my feet, and a cold compress placed on my head while I croaked, "I'm sorry." over and over. They wouldn't let me finish donating, even though I asked....

I've made sure I'm completely hydrated before going in ever since.

My father was the one who got me into it, and took me to the Indiana Blood Center the first few times about 13 years ago. He's donated gallons and gallons over the years, but he is now ineligible. His cumulative visits to England between 1980 and 1999 added up to more than three months, so his blood isn't considered "safe" anymore. Those darn mad cows over there. (Photo poached from Mr Farty)

It's definitely worth doing, though. There is never enough blood. Depending on the phlebotomist, most of the time the needle doesn't really hurt at all. And don't let one or two bad experiences stop you. It took three before my mother finally gave up!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Religious thoughts

The other day, a friend of mine was going in to have fairly major surgery. I've known her for quite a long time, but she is a friend from one of the areas of my life where I'm mostly in the closet. The last time she had this surgery done, it didn't go as well as expected and it was a long and painful recovery. We were talking about this as we were leaving, and she asked me to pray for her. I was completely taken aback. I've actually never had this happen before. I wasn't quite sure what to say. I leaned toward her and sort of stuttered in a low voice,"Uh..well, I don't believe in all that stuff."

She said,"Well do it anyway! I need all the help I can get. Just tell him that you haven't done this in a while."

Actually, never would be the operative word.

I felt bad about telling her no, but I felt that it would be worse to lie to her and tell her I would. Should I have just told her yes to make her feel better even though that would be a lie? (She says she's doing much better than last time, by the way)
On another note, the Freedom From Religion Foundation put up one of the Imagine No Religion billboards here in Sacramento! Isn't it pretty? Although FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor got the name switched around in this article. It's Atheists and Other Freethinkers.