Sunday, July 27th 2008

Dr. Meg alert AND don’t try this at home: A practical guide to cat enemas
posted @ 11:19 pm in [ - ]

I’ll be on KGNU again tomorrow from 12 - 3 MDT, dispensing terrible lifecoaching advice again. Feel free to listen at I know, just try and stop me!

In other news, Titania had a rough 24 hours, with two trips to the after-hours vet, some bloodwork, some worry and hope, and hundreds of pay-ya-later-baby dollars. She is now resting comfortably and on the mend. She’s almost herself again already, and we have scientific confirmation that she’s in fantastic shape.

Because Titania is 16 years old (the feline equivalent of being in her 80s), I got worried about her when she seemed to be in a lot of discomfort, throwing up a lot, and not interested in eating. It turned out she was just badly constipated, so we got her rehydrated, got some “stool softener” (you gotta love that euphemism), and took her home. This morning, she still wasn’t eating and didn’t seem to be feeling well at all. The vet gave her a full battery of tests and was impressed with how very well she was — except for being depressingly constipated. So he, er, handled that, and Titania is much like herself again. I bet she makes it to be old enough to drink legally. Not that she would — unless, of course, someone invents fish liqueur. Some Scandinavian, perhaps? Anyone who would eat ludefisk might…

Here’s the funny part. Okay, it was a little funny when I asked someone to irrigate my cat. It was really funny, though, when, as a piece of parting advice, the vet mentioned that it probably went without saying, but we should never try to administer an enema to a cat in the privacy of our own home. Apparently, human enemas contain ingredients that are potentially toxic to the feline bowel. No worries, we assured him, we would not be administering any home enemas to the cat. I didn’t know about the ingredient thing, but tell me that it doesn’t sound like a particularly potent similie: “Like giving a home enema to a cat.”

“How was the DMV today?” “Oh, it was like giving a home enema to a cat.”

“Geez, you look a little rough today. How was your night?” “I feel like I gave a home enema to a cat.”

“I heard you quit your job.” “Yeah, it was too much like giving a home enema to a cat, day after day after day…”

So there’s a piece of advice to get you in the mood for tomorrow’s lifecoaching: don’t try to give a home enema to a cat. Ask / bribe / beg a trained professional to handle it. Thanks, Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital! You were great, as always.

Thursday, July 24th 2008

posted @ 12:20 pm in [ - - - - ]

It’s true, I haven’t been posting much.

Part of that is because I’m focused a lot on work and job stuff at the moment, and as we all know, I don’t blog about that. But here are the vagaries: I’m still teaching in the program where I’ve been teaching for the last few years, and that’s mostly good. I’ll also be teaching again at the same program where I taught last fall, and that should be fun. I picked up a little writing work for an ongoing media analysis project. I’m still trying to get the big honkin’ book published, and I have another article coming out later this year. In the meantime, I’m looking for a full-time gig with health insurance and stuff.

Looking for work is pretty much always a fairly soul-crushing experience if you give a rip what you end up doing, and it’s even more exhausting when you’re keeping up on other jobs while you’re doing it (which you have to if you’re addicted to things like food and electricity). Plus, I’m finding out that it’s a funny thing with advanced degrees: it’s still a numbers game, but instead of it being easier to get a better job with a fancy degree (which is what you’re told will happen), I’m finding it’s actually a lot harder. There are fewer near-perfect fits, employers are surprisingly inflexible about what they think you can do, and people want to put you through the ringer to see if it’s worthwhile to invest in you. The hopper has to be so much deeper and wider to yield the same result, and advanced degrees force you to specialize, not generalize. Plus, nobody will hire you for a job they think you’re overqualified for — which is a lot with a Ph.D. — because they think you’ll just leave in a month or two when you find something better. Can’t really blame ‘em for thinking that. So yeah, it’s draining. It does force one not to settle, though: the market won’t let me.

Dr. Meg will be on the air on Monday on KGNU Denver / Boulder / Nederland and at if you’re not in earshot. Syndication has been mentioned (and passive voice has been used). I’ll keep you posted, of course.

You have the bat and frog update below.

Lisa has been relatively close by this summer, which has been great. She’ll be around for another 5 weeks or so, and we have lots more fun to cram in before she goes home.

The thyroid deal is looking up. I found a delightful family practice in Boulder, brought my lab reports and stuff, had a brief but productive discussion with a sympathetic and fine, fine superfine physician, and walked out with a prescription for generic synthroid, which I got filled (wicked cheap!) on the way home. I already feel better, even after just a few days. I had the best dance class yesterday that I’ve had in months, in part because I didn’t feel sluggish at all. I haven’t been to the gym yet today, and I don’t even have unpleasant, depressive symptoms. I’ll probably get in a bike ride later this afternoon, which will be even better because I’ll know it’s actually going to have some sort of physiological result. Yee-haw!

Finally, the spambots seem to have declared open war on my moderation queue. I average a little over 100 pieces of spam an hour. In order to get akismet to work, I have to upgrade WordPress and install it, and I don’t have direct access to the server, so that’s taking some effort to resolve, and in the meantime, every time I log in, there are all those zillions of bits of spam (baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam), and quite frankly, after I’ve gotten through them all, I often don’t feel like posting anymore. I’ll try to be better about that, and get the spammage fixed shortly.

So that’s what’s up. Or most of it, anyway.

Sunday, July 13th 2008

Bat and frog
posted @ 10:25 pm in [ ]

The bat and frog monitoring goes quite well, thanks!

I monitor frogs solo, and did so last week. My site is an intermittent stream, and I walk along it, as close to the water’s edge as I can, and poke around (up the bank, too) looking for leopard frogs. I didn’t find any the last time I went, but I did find a couple of turtles, several bullfrogs, and a mama duck with about 10 fuzzy little ducklings. The site is pretty challenging, between the terrain, steep banks in some spots, the fact that the stream splits into two or three streams at various points, and there is some getting through barbed wire fencing involved. Last week, there was also some mild cow confrontation as I irritated a herd while scrambling through a nearby fence and they all stood up and glared at me. Beef cattle ain’t dairy cows, that’s for sure.

The funny part is that the conservation folks are really annoyed with the bullfrogs. They’re an invasive species in Colorado, most likely having come along with the stocking of local trout ponds. They eat all kinds of stuff, from the insects and things that leopard frogs would like to eat, to mice and other small critters that wander too close to the water’s edge for a drink, to the leopard frogs themselves, regardless of their stages of development. It was hinted at that if I wanted to take a big ol’ spear along and have bullfrog legs for dinner every night for a week, they wouldn’t mind a bit.

It makes me ruminate on the nature of ecosystems and invasive species. At what point does an invasive species simply become part of the ecosystem? Since ecosystems change all the time, where do we draw the line saying a change has fully occurred?

The bat monitoring I do with a partner, who is a nice post-doc in biology and has also done some cool nonlinear dynamics work. We are stationed at a reservoir, which we monitor two consecutive nights at a time. We’ve done two stints so far. We hike in for about 20 minutes or so from where we park, set up by the reservoir a bit before dusk, and wait for the bats to come feed. For about the first hour or so, we’re both looking and listening. For the next hour, just listening. Because, yeah, it’s dark and stuff.

We are assisted in this listening with a piece of equipment that magnifies the sounds of bats’ wings flapping (Colorado bats can be heard around 35 - 40 kHz), and maybe a bit of their sonar. It’s a small box, about the size of the original Sony Walkman, with two knobs: kHz, and on-off/volume. What’s really cool is that it seems to me that each bat has a unique sound signature. When we hear multiple bats, they all sound different to me, and we often hear the same signatures again and again as a single bat will make multiple passes while feeding.

All in all, I’m really enjoying myself and learning a lot.