Archive | February, 2012

Vomit in the Shower

29 Feb

Couldn’t even ruin my day.

I feel so much better about life today!  Even though Cool almost puked on my feet, because she suffers from anxiety disorder.  And then even though she did end up vomiting on her own feet in the shower–which has a slow drain.  And even though I had to leave for work really early, and drive out to the boon-docks where Cool works because it snowed and her HHR sucks in bad weather.  And even though I had to shovel the walk once I finally made it to work.

I’m not really certain what it is.  The 97% I got on my exam didn’t hurt.  Especially since I really knew the information I missed, but drew the phonetic letters slightly off.  I hadn’t realized the letters weren’t just a difference in penmanship, but very important to copy exactly.  It’s an easy correction to make.

Also, work suggested I call yesterday to see if it was necessary for me to come back after class.  And even better, it wasn’t–so I got to come home and study.  Also, I heard scuttle that work is taking inventory away from me.  Who knows why.  Very briefly, I was worried that they are phasing me out b/c they are unwilling to work with a partial schedule.  Or they thought I sucked at at.  Or whatever negative thing.  But I just figure they are streamlining for when I’m part-time.  Plus, it makes sense that the person who does all the invoices and puts stuff into the computer system, AND is in the back full-time also does the ordering.

What a flippin’ headache that was.  They want to have things when they want them.  This necessitates ordering well ahead and in large quanitity.  But they also want to keep stock to a bare minimum.  Which necessitates the opposite–wait until we’re just about out of something to order it.  They want the cheapest product, but they never want to vary the brands we already have.  And everyone sort of snipes about it when they see something they deem different or too expensive.  And, most annoying of all–nobody puts things on the want-list until it’s completely out, and too late.  So it’s a huge job trying to keep an eye on EVERYthing or listening to the doctor bitch when they wanted something that isn’t on the shelf.  And I didn’t even get a raise or anything when it became my responsibility, so it totally wasn’t worth all the effort and stress.  The rumor that I don’t have to do it anymore ultimately made me feel really, really relieved.

Was that the whole work problem?  Maybe that and poor scheduling–or staffing whichever side of the coin you look at.  Because now that I know about it, I pretty much feel better about my veterinary job.  Which makes me feel better about everything in life.  It totally sucks when the place you spend the most time, and the job you depend upon for the income that you NEED is not going well.  It overshadows everything and makes life miserable.  I’m glad that feeling is gone, and I hope it stays away.

Farrowing Crates

28 Feb

I have yet to see the Chipotle commercial (I don’t have TV), but they bring up a controversial point.  One that I think warrants discussion.  But the discussion needs to be educated and practical.  Knee-jerk emotional reactions (especially from those who have never seen hog production or worked with pigs) are not the way to fix problems.

What are farrowing/gestation crates?  A confined area where hogs are kept during gestation and lactation.  The hogs cannot turn around.  They can only stand, sit, or lie down.

Why do hog producers use farrowing crates?

1. They are used to keep the hog from eating the food of her piglets. Obviously, a lactating hog has different needs from several growing piglets.

2. They are used to keep animal separate. Hogs can be aggressive.

3. The farrowing crates makes maintenance of hogs easier. It is simple to feed, quick to clean, and keeps each hog in her own little area in the facility.  It is also easier to individualize care–if a hog looks thin, the farmer can supplement only her food.  If she looks ill, it will be noticed faster when she is confined to one area.

4. The primary reason for farrowing crates is to protect piglets. Hogs are known to lie on their piglets and squish them to death. If she is confined in a farrowing crate, the piglets can scoot away from their heavy mother, but still nurse when they need to.  The family doesn’t have to be separated as in many other species of production.

Farrowing crates aren’t perfect.  I would argue, no system in animal production is perfect–everything has room for improvement.  We should always search for ways to make animal production more humane for animals, safer for workers, more cost effective for producers, and faster.  Sometimes these goals conflict with each other.

Before you condemn farrowing crates here are factors to consider:

-Hog production is all-in, all-out these days. To go into a pig farm–even a small one, people (visitors, employees, vets) have to shower in and out, change boots and coveralls, etc. . . This is to manage diseases–for the pigs. Even delivery trucks have a certain path to minimize cross-contamination. Some farms even have a truck wash! Letting hogs outside, creates a world of opportunity for sickness. And makes the problem of vaccine/antibiotic withdrawal periods even more pertinent.

-Hogs really damage the environment. They root in the dirt, rub on trees and fences, and have output that could contribute Nitrogen, Ammonia, and Phosphates to nearby (ground) water.

-Hogs and piglets have differing nutritional needs. Keeping the two separate is difficult and also poses ethical and logistical problems. Also, hogs have potential to fight. Even 3 week old piglets will eat each other, give each other scratches and black eyes. How to reduce injury?

-Money and compliance. Will requiring alternatives to gestation crates put the SMALL farmers out of business?  How much would it cost to change an entire operation? Who regulates it? And is this a priority for regulators when there are so many other animal/production issues?

-What will pork cost?  The expense of finding a new system will go to consumers as well.  How high are we willing to pay for meat?  It would be a shame to require hog production to change then, turn to beef or poultry or away from meat all-together because we do not want to may high food prices.


My Background with Hogs (Prequel to Farrow Crates)

27 Feb

My Animal Science major had me take a semester of Hog Production. We talked about how pork is the bottom rung for funding, how pork is mostly consumed in the morning and how the industry is working to change that, and how hogs get a LOT of diseases.  And of course, throughout the program small farms vs. corporate factory farms were featured.  And animal welfare.  And the normal nutrition, management, and other animal production concerns.

In that class, we visited 2? Maybe 3 different hog farms. One of the farms was larger and completely indoors, state-of-the art equipment, and looked to have a lot of money behind them.  The other was a smaller farm, still indoors, with less frills.  Both of these were all-in, all-out operations, and I remember having to shower, put on their coveralls and boots before entering, and shower again before leaving the farm. This was to minimize contamination and reduce disease.  I don’t love class field trips that require 2 showers, by-the-way.

As a pre-vet student I visited a hog farm of my veterinary-employer’s friends. Got that? My boss’ friend produced pigs in a relatively small Midwest operation. Though small, and family-owned, the operation was still not the idyllic Old MacDonald’s Farm.  Only the boars and a few of the older sows were outside and only part of the time.  And they were confined in small sections, not unlike an outdoor run for a dog.

Then, after graduation, I worked at the university on a hog heat stress research project. The hogs were completely indoors, and completely confined at all times.  This job required me to help feed, clean, collect temperature data, and even process piglets! During this job, I had a lot of exposure to hogs and piglets, and a tiny bit with the “teasing” boar.

That’s 3 farm tours and a university job with pigs.  Each of the facilities taking advantage of farrowing crates and confinement to one degree or another.  Yet, none of the hogs I saw looked miserable or dirty or diseased.  And I didn’t see any outdoor hogs roaming around resembling Old MacDonald’s Farm that people think of when they think of the perfect pig situation.  So that’s where my opinion on farrowing crates, and hog production at large, is coming from.  Next up–the controversy.

Ideas for Artwork

25 Feb

-a mascot

-an endangered or extinct species

-a mosaic

-a bear head and paw shown scratching the cloudy sky.  The claw marks reveal a sun set behind the clouds.

-cave painting

-an otter swimming in an espresso cup 

-pollen floating in a microscopic view

-something similar to Lisa Frank

-dream vacation

-swimming with turtles

-rainbow or sunset

-Some sort of Burning Man sort of theme painting

-koy fish

-the planets

-a skyline

-a tattoo painting

-make a painting of how I want MY tats to look

-something Native American

-An eyeball with a reflection of something in it.

-dissected food

-a feather in microscopic detail


You’re Only As Old As Your Liver

24 Feb

I have to cut back on my drinking.

Problematic or not–it’s going to make me look older then my time.  Drinking will eventually make your face get puffy.  There will be tell-tale broken capillaries and redness at the top of the cheeks and across the nose.  The midsection will be distended.

I don’t want that.  And I don’t want to look all old either.

Also, alcohol is a depressant.  And I’ve been in a definite funk as of late.  The two shouldn’t go together.  I will cut back.  Problem is–I am supposed to have some brews with co-workers after work today in an attempt to humanize them, get to know them better, and hopefully be less annoyed with them AT work.  Then, tomorrow, my Aunt is supposed to come over for wine and Wii.

So I guess I’ll sneak Gatorade in between drinks and try to go slowly for the next 2 days.  And then. . .

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23 Feb

In real life I come across as someone who has her shit together.  You, my blog sees me at my worst.  Writing is an outlet for me.  I am balanced, have boundaries, and goals, and you know–am better off then most.  But still–everyone had their problems.

As YOU know, blog, I have been having a hard time lately.  It stems from my veterinary job.  And I hesitate to even write this, because I don’t want everyone to think I would not have made a good vet.  I don’t want ANY one to think that I wasn’t ALL in and I would not have made it through school or been successful in owning my own practice.  I would have.  I would have been GREAT.  My whole life was aimed toward being a veterinarian.

But because of the circumstances, I am very disenchanted with the admissions process and the profession at large.  I wanted it more then anyone–TRUE.  A lot of people say they want to be a vet because they “love” animals.  But really, I understood the career and still wanted it.  Vet school and the profession at large would have been better for accepting me.  And just because it sounds arrogant, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

But now that I am officially just another vet school reject–my priorities have changed.  I am not bitter toward vets.  But I am much more cynical about all the pit-falls of the career.  Work makes me stressed.  I think better regulation in the arena of veterinary work is warranted.  Their employment practices are down-right abusive.  No breaks.  No food at work.  Late or no lunch at all.  Get there early.  Stay late.  Get paid a paltry amount compared to the required skill level and experience required.  Working interviews, unpaid work.  It’s all normal in this category of work.  These things are all expected.  I know, as I’ve been employed with various vet hospitals, in different states, for the last 12 years, and involved via volunteering and observing for the last 18 (?  Jesus–that’s a lot of wasted time) years.

The point is–my job is stressing me the fuck out.  I want to control something in my life, when my job and my location is uncontrollable.  My mother-in-law–uncontrollable.  And I hate to even suggest it, because I think there are those with bigger problems.  I am not a good anorexic.  I have no will-power.  I love cheese.  And sweets.  And alcohol.  But Portia DeRossi’s book in combination with the Lose-It calorie counting website + the Wii-Fit + Cool’s need to lose weight served as a sort of trigger for me.  I am thinking about calories in-calories out constantly.  I am thinking about exercising all the time.  I know I wouldn’t qualify as having an actual eating disorder, because of the afore-mentioned lack of self-control, but I am having disordered thoughts for sure.

And, as always, I’m afraid of my alcohol intake.  I’m not even sure what to say about this.  Other then I drink every night.  And it makes me worry.  Heck, I think it’s obvious I’m drunk now, as I’m writing this.  And I’m only writing this because I was too sloppy to continue the Wii-Fit.  That makes me scared.  I need a change.  But what is it?  Move out of this city that I don’t really like?  Get a new job?  Get a new mate?  I guess it’s easier to get a new body then to answer these tough questions. . .

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Motivated by Guilt

22 Feb

It just KILLS me when there is not a single appointment scheduled in the afternoon, two other people working, and I am already gone for class from 1-3 PM. Why bother going back until 5:30 PM? And when I ask to just leave for the day to study for my exam my boss says, “Is this the SAME exam? How much do you need to study for ONE test?”

It is the perfect example of why my undergrad GPA is lower then I like–and subsequently I am in this position of starting over instead of at the finish line of some career.  It made me resentful and motivated to find another (part-time) job.  One that is low key that would allow me to focus on what’s really important–my studies.

But did this stop me from feeling bad?  It wouldn’t have made any sense for me to go back to work.  Only to wack my pud ie scrub walls and the like until closing.  And if I AM so imperative to the operation, one–that is sad for my co-workers and two–I should demand a raise.

I might have to make moves to change my scene–real soon.  Before the past repeats itself.  Wish me luck on my exam.  I’m going for that elusive perfect score!

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Pseudo-Burger Comparisons

21 Feb

Cool is a hard-core burger (and cheese) lover from waaaay back.  I majored in Animal Science for God’s sake.  Needless to say, we have never tried fake meats of any kind.  Honestly, before I had any real concept of calories (and just how many I eat in a day–a LOT!) I thought phony meat was a preposterous idea.  As such, we are the perfect judges of the different brands and flavors.  I bought one package of each.  We tried to keep other variables consistent.  Here’s the low-down:

1.)  MorningStar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burger

Specs:  Serving size = 1 patty of 67 g.  Calories = 120.  Fat = 4 g, Sodium = 350 mg, sugar = 2 g.

Color was dark and black and pleasing.  Size is OK, could be thicker.  Texture was good.  Flavorful w/spicy beans.  Goes with condiments (jalapeno, fire roasted red bell pepper, and chipoltle mustard) well.  Filling- most definitely!

2.)  Boca Flame Grilled

Specs:  Serving Size = 1 burger 71 g.  Calories = 120.  Fat = 5 g, Sodium = 380 mg, sugar = 0 g.

Color is tan/beige on the verge of orangy–not that exceptional.  Size seems about the same.  Texture was a more crunchy than yesterday’s fake burger or any real beef and a little dry.  There was a faux-smokey flavor that I found contrived, but Cool liked it.  Goes with condiments (jalapeno, fire roasted red bell pepper, and chipoltle mustard) well.  Filling-  Very.

3.)  MorningStar Grillers Prime

Specs:  Serving Size = 1 patty (71 g).  Calories = 170.  Fat = 9 g.  Sodium = 360 mg.  Sugar = 0 g.

Color-very beef-like. Size-decent, Texture-like a well-done burger, crunchy and only slightly dry.  Goes with condiments (jalapeno, fire roasted red bell pepper, and chipoltle mustard) well.  Filling- Indeed.

4.)  GardenBurger-Original

Specs:  Serving Size = 1 patty (71 g).  Calories = 100.  Fat = 3 g.  Sodium = 400 mg.  Sugar = less than 1 g.

Color- seemed more like chicken then beef, Size-is about par with the rest of the veggie burgers.  Texture-is unpleasently sqishy and soggy.  Taste was earily similar to Stovetop Stuffing.  Doesn’t go as well with the condiments used throughout this experiment.  Filling -Extraordinarily so!  I was actually completely full after the first patty, but ate both to be consistent with the other buger nights.  Now we are both uncomfortably full.

5.)  Eating Right-Soy Protein Burgers

Specs:  Serving Size = 1 patty (71 g), Calories = 70, fat = 1 g.  Sodium = 410 mg and sugar = 0 g.

Color-is beefy, size-seems a little smaller in diameter.  Texture- very meat-reminicint.  It has the same phony-smokey taste of the other veggie-burger, combined with a good Worcestershire flavor.  Cool hated it and I thought it was OK.  Goes with condiments (jalapeno and chipoltle mustard) well. filling-  Yes, but not unpleasantly.

So I am not about to become a vegetarian.  I know the meat is healthy in moderation–just like everything else.  I have no qualms about the treatment of animals–livestock, farm/ranch animals either.  I know the producer’s livelihood depends on the health, well being, and comfort of those animals so they have a vested interest in treating them humanely.  BUT these veggie burgers do make a yummy addition to my regularly scheduled meat meals.  If not an expensive one–but that’s a topic for a future blog post.

Calories Count

20 Feb

I didn’t have a clue what foods had how many.  Now that I’ve joined “Lose It,” a calorie-counting website, I am pretty much horrified about how many are in my favorite foods.  And amazed by how many I burn just in a normal day.

You have to put down a weight loss goal on Lose-It and on the Wii that we just bought to replace our YMCA membership.  And, as a petite person, I didn’t really know what to put down.  My real goal is to get Cool to slim down by being supportive and changing our eating/exercising lifestyle for the better.  My secondary goal is to drink something other than coffee and alcohol.  I really do NOT.  Drink anything else.  Nope, not even/ever water.  I fail on this.  Also, I would like to sneak some produce into my diet.  So to be able to get charted and stuff, I just put the bottom number on my BMI chart.  It’s 101 pounds.

And I am obsessed with calorie-free condiments and sauces.  How is it even possible?  How can yummy food have 0 calories?  I am buying them left and right.  Also, I have discovered veggie burgers.  My blog on that will be posted tomorrow.

Anyway, I will let you know about our progress.  And yes, it sucks to be mindful of calories.  I was in a happy bubble of ignorance before.  And now that I know, well, it’s just awful to be aware!


Low Self Esteem

19 Feb

I get pretty impatient with the manifestations of this problem. It makes people have sketchy boundaries. They lower their own expectations and standards in an effort to gain acceptance of others. And that just makes me uncomfortable (if it’s directed at me) or judgmental (if I’m an observer).  I suppose I ought to have empathy for people with low self-esteem.  It’s a pervasive, all-encompassing problem that is common and quite detrimental.  But it really just makes me irate–perhaps because a lot of the people suffering from it don’t realize where all their problems stem from so they act like huge assholes.

A lot of the time, low self esteem makes people superficial. They critisize my clothing, hair style, whatever, because they are uncomfortable with themselves. They feel pigeonholed in the beauty arena, so they condemn me to the same fate by making snide comments.  I find it lame and tiresome.

And low self-esteem brings out the bitchiness and cattiness of others. They feel unappreciated at work or in their sport or whatever, so they make everyone else hyper-aware of their accomplishments. It’s very high maintenance.  Then, there is this sense of competition.  I don’t want it, but if you don’t play along, then you are considered a loser.  It’s easy to get caught up in such games.

Two incidents in particular inspired me to write this post. The one was my mother-in-law. She didn’t sign MY name on the (late) Christmas card she sent. It was a pointed slight, and I didn’t like her game-playing. She is the type to spend 2 hours working on her hair and makeup, then 2 more on getting dressed.  She told Cool some of my clothes are not age-appropriate.  And I say–who asked?  Leave my flippin’ wardrobe alone, old, bitter lady!

The other is a co-worker.  She is all drama though she’s in her mid-forties–I guess maturity has very little to do with age.  It’s pathetic.  She just got back from vacation, and I didn’t fawn over her about how I missed her, how I’m glad she’s back, and how we were lost without her.  She was just looking for an excuse all morning to be mad.  As if it’s all about HER.

I just don’t want to have to DEAL with people.  It’s bad enough to be an introvert in an extrovert’s world–but add low boundary = high-maintenance to the mix.  Well, it’s exhausting!