Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monkeying around.

One thing I've been curious about for awhile now is the green vervet monkeys on the island. They're adorable, there's no denying it.

But from a purely academic standpoint, they're also a treasure trove for research. Ever since reading about their system of alarm calls for different predators, I have had a burning question. There are no snakes anywhere on St. Kitts. Mongoose were imported to kill them all, as too many workers in the sugarcane fields were being bitten.

I wondered, "Would the island monkeys still react to a snake alarm call?" Is this an intrinsic behavior, or a cultural learned behavior? If it's learned, has enough time passed for enough generations of monkeys to have never heard the snake call for the behavior to undergo extinction? Or has it been adapted to another terrestrial predator, such as feral dogs?

I am so close to finding an audio wave file of the snake alarm and putting a dish of sweet potato out in my front yard and seeing what happens. It wouldn't be terribly difficult, there's a family of monkeys that frequent my area.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

True love.

How do you know your cat really loves you? When they want their face to smell just like your foot.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's twu.

Y'know, vets are always giving MDs shit for not being "real doctors". For the most part we're just kidding around, and of course we recognize that any career in the medical profession is tough. But then, deep down, there's an element of truth to our good-natured ribbing. And this t-shirt sums it up pretty nicely...

Because MDs have anesthetists (they're not even required to take an anesthesiology course in med school), phlebotomists, pharmacists, surgeons, etc. We don't, we have to fill those jobs ourselves. We do dentals; MDs don't. Your average family physician does routine vaccinations and health exams and will never be required to treat an emergency such as a hit by car case. We do all of that.

And we have to know how to do it all for a minimum of five species with their own unique anatomy, physiology, drug reactions, etc.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Puerto Rico!!!!

My friends and I just booked our flights to San Juan over midsemester break! SO EXCITED! My friend Angie is from Puerto Rico, so we have a guide and translator handy. She's under instructions to just put food in front of me and not even tell me what it is, and I will eat it. One stop we're definitely making is a churrascaria where she orders a "mixed grill" that includes skirt steak, ribs, kidney and sweetbreads. I've had sweetbreads before and found them really yummy, and I'm excited to try kidney.

I'm also going to dive "The Wall", a continental shelf that's supposedly one of the world's better diving spots.

Have I mentioned how EXCITED I am?! A girl's weekend in a gorgeous, tropical location eating lots of good food, drinking rum and doing the kind of silly, wild things only girlfriends on vacation can do together.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ashamed to be American.

I've seen plenty of examples of Americans behaving badly while living in St. Kitts. But recent events at Ross have taken the cake.

We were warned from the moment orientation began that the police conduct random traffic stops to check for valid driver's license, car insurance and that your wheel tax is paid up to date. We were warned about this not only because failure to provide any of those three things could get us arrested, but also because the traffic stops could cause us to be late for class, and so we should leave with plenty of time to spare in the mornings. Despite this, when there were traffic stops being conducted this morning and several students were late to class, the Facebook wall for my semester as well as the more general "St. Kitts Students" wall exploded with complaints. Some people even suggested writing letters to the Ross Safety and Security director to try and pressure the police into no longer conducting traffic stops.

Really? The entire police department should rewrite their policies and stop enforcing the law as they deem fit because a few foreigners were inconvenienced?

There have been four arrests since the beginning of the semester just two and a half weeks ago for students driving without a license or car insurance. It's astounding to me that anyone could be so stupid. It's an annoyance to get your license, wheel tax and insurance renewed once a year, sure. I hate it, too. It's hot, you have to stand in line waiting for a long time, and sometimes the accent of the person you're talking to is so thick that you have trouble communicating. But if you complete the Ross program without repeating any semesters, you only have to do this three times for the entire duration of your stay.

So then, why? Why would anyone simply not renew their car insurance or driver's license? Well, as one member of my class pointed out on our Facebook page wall...

so you wanna know my trick...dont stop...i drove for 2 months last semester with out a license cause I lost it, but I didnt want to get a new one cause then I would have to get one right before i left the island...what I did was not stop...they look at you weird, but I keep my head straight and accelerate and act like I never saw them, has worked 4 times...

That's right, he deliberately broke the law because it inconvenienced him.

There have been some accusations of St. Kitts police targeting foreign students (and let me just pause for a second to titter at the irony of white kids getting indignant over being racially profiled). If there's any truth to these claims, come on, can you blame them? See above. You have a student who boastfully admits that he blatantly ignores the law when he feels like it.

Attitude matters. Acting like an entitled, privileged jackass makes all Americans look bad. Thanks for that.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sticky bug!

This little guy greeted me on my porch when I was locking up this morning on my way to class.

So cute! I love stick insects. I really want to own an orchid mantis some day, but my husband is very much NOT a bug person.

I also caught a super cute gecko in my apartment a couple of weeks ago. He was escorted onto the porch before he became kitty food.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Be jealous.

I promised my landlord that once I hit 7th semester, a few months before I'm due to leave St. Kitts and move back to the States, I would start advertising my apartment. I think one of the best selling features would have to be my view.

I'm situated far out in Half Moon Bay, actually in Conaree, just above the Marriott golf course and the bordering Atlantic ocean. I can hear the waves crashing up on the rocky shore of the golf course (which is why my villa is named "Beach Music"). The wind coming off of the ocean offers me a near constant cool breeze and the villa grounds are full of many different types of palm trees that keep my apartment and porch shaded.

This is the view from my porch. I love it.

I especially love the big bismark palm right in front of my bedroom. It keeps the bedroom quite a bit dimmer than the living room and kitchen, making it feel that much more sleepy and relaxing. And when it rains, big fat drops make a clacking sound when they hit the fronds. It's odd how I went from someone who needed absolute quiet in order to fall asleep to now sleeping through the sounds of surf, heavy rain on a metal roof and coqui frogs (which are quite loud for their diminutive size).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Random things.

Week two of 5th semester is over with. Gosh, this semester is going to be intense. And it only gets more crazy from here, time-wise. 5th - 7th are basically a never-ending procession of labs, surgeries and SOAPing (subjective, objective, assessment and plan - how we evaluate our patients). This past week I learned how to tie up a sheep, do a skin scraping on a necropsy pelt stretched over a pickle barrel and had a phlebotomy lab. I'm actually very good with blood draws from saphenous and cephalic veins from my years as a tech, but I'd never done a jugular stick before and it took me a few attempts. Most people go too deep or straight through the vein, but I had the opposite problem of being too cautious and not going deep enough.

This past Monday was also my 29th birthday. My friends and I went out to Rock Lobster and had a great meal and an absolutely, obscenely huge bowl of sangria. I baked my own cupcakes because I'd been craving lemon cake and also wanted to try out the same recipe I'd used for a birthday cake that I baked for my mom a few years back. They turned out really good.

Raspberry buttercream with pink sugar sprinkles and fresh grated lemon zest.

Lemon cake with lemon curd filling.

On a completely unrelated note, this morning I caught a Huntsman spider in my shower. Just a little baby, but already as large as wolf spiders back home. These guys can get as big as tarantulas and are affectionately known as "donkey spiders" down here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My research is cooler than yours.

Nothing to say, really. Just posting this pic of an adorable seahorse I took earlier today while collecting data on one of our artificial reef sites.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Here we go again, part V.

This week has been pretty intense so far. Fifth semester looks like it's shaking up to be a very busy semester. Lots of clinical skills labs, anesthesia labs, diagnostic imaging labs. This is when the hands-on stuff begins. That makes me nervous, because I know I can excel at book learning and examination but whether or not I can, for instance, suture a wound, remains to be seen. However, I was a good technician when I worked in clinical practice. I had a few clients who would specifically request me for booster shots and subcutaneous fluid administration because of my technique. I'm pretty focused when given a task, but sometimes a little too much so. I can absolutely see sutures being something I get too OCD perfectionist about and taking more time than necessary because they're not perfect.

Not really much to report on other than unpacking my suitcase and cleaning like a madwoman to uncover my apartment after two weeks of cat hair has settled all over it. My birthday is next week and I've got a group of friends that I'm going out with to celebrate my 29th. One year left before my thirties. Oy vey...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Home sweet home.

Don and I arrived in Spokane on Saturday afternoon after a grueling, horrible, nightmarish drive. Our rented Budget truck broke down twice. The first time the gas pedal stopped working in the middle of the highway in Wisconsin. We pulled over to the side and Don learned how to fix it on the fly and luckily it held the rest of the way to Washington. The second time was when we were driving through the crazy mountainous, winding roads of Montana and the truck couldn't get above 20-30 mph going up the hills. We were terrified we were going to start rolling back down. The winds were also insane and threatened to blow us off the side of the mountain several times.

But we're here now, and Spokane couldn't be more lovely. The people are almost eerily friendly and the area is very pretty and a good mix of quiet residential area and thriving business hub. It feels a bit like Lafayette in that way, which both Don and I miss. Our apartment complex is wonderful. It's very scenic with a pond and pine trees, and lots of flowering trees and bushes. There is also a pool, jacuzzi, tennis courts and a fitness facility. The property manager was very clear that there are very strict rules about noise after 10pm, which Don and I are very happy about given places we've lived before have had big problems with noisy neighbors. One of our neighbors has a giant St. Bernard named Otis who is the sweetest, big swishy-faced love EVER!

We flew into a whirlwind of unpacking and were done with everything by Sunday evening. I think we both just wanted it all over and done with and to have what looks like a habitable apartment so that we could enjoy the few remaining days I have left in the states in peace and comfort after the stressful ordeal we went through getting here.

We stopped in the "badlands" in North Dakota just inside of Teddy Roosevelt National Park.
A freak snow storm we hit while crossing the Rocky Mountains.
Nic seemed relatively unphased by the trip. We stopped frequently at gas stations to reheat the rice sock keeping him warm.
Coeur d' Alene is about 30 miles outside of Spokane and as you can see, absolutely gorgeous. Don and I plan on returning here to go camping at some point.
Living room/kitchen.
Living room/deck.
I love my deck! I hope I get birds coming to visit soon.
My very favorite part of our new apartment. Wood burning fireplace!!!