Sunday, August 31, 2008


So tonight marked the official end of the Fringe Festival, which is rather sad. On the one hand it's nice to have the masses of tourists leaving, but the festival was also really fun. I loved walking down the street and seeing jugglers and street performers (and Braveheart!) and people in crazy costumes, and contemplating which shows to go to. I'm glad I got to go to two shows with Dominic, and under different circumstances I'm sure I would have gone to more of them, but being home was more important.

Things here so far have been good. Jessica and Allen (a.k.a. "Pookish") gave me a bouquet of flowers, which was extremely nice of them. Tomorrow I need to find a vase of some sort to put them in. I also got a lovely card from Lydia, which was very nice. Most people I guess know the reason why I was gone for a week, so they're all being wonderfully nice.

Flowers from Jessica and Pookish
After dinner tonight we headed to watch the fireworks over on North Bridge. They were pretty good, although we couldn't hear the music very well from where we were, so the synchronization was a bit lost on us. Hopefully next year we can plan earlier and get tickets to get into the gardens, which is nearer to the music.

One of my cooler firework shots
Anik & Jessica
Jessica & I, stolen from Anik
Tomorrow it's back to class, then there's a week and 2 days left before we have to start studying for our first exam. Fortunately it doesn't count, especially given my circumstances, but I'd still like to do well, so I'll be studying lots in the next week. At least we have all of Wednesday and Thursday off next week to study for it, and this week seems pretty low key in terms of classes.

Anyway, I think I need to go to bed early to avoid horrendous jet lag problems tomorrow during class, so goodnight!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Yesterday morning around 1am my mother passed away. I will miss her so terribly. She was the most wonderful, caring, loving, patient and beautiful person I know, and I can't even imagine how I'm going to live without her. I'm glad it ended quickly and she was spared more of the pain she was going through, and I'm glad I was able to come home to be with her and tell her how much she means to me.

My beautiful mother

My mom with my older brother
My first moments with my mommy
My first moments with my mommy!
Mom with me
Mom with me again

Both of my amazing parents
Possibly my favorite picture of my parents ever. <3>
I am the luckiest person in the world to have been adopted by my parents, and my life is so blessed with them.

Thanks to everyone who's been sending emails and calling. It helps to know I have such amazing friends and family to help us through this.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm taking a quick break from vet blogging, as many of you know.

My mother was diagnosed with cancer back in April, and in the last week or so has gone way downhill. I flew home this last weekend to be with her, and other than keeping her comfortable and telling her how much we love her, that's all we can do right now.

I'd appreciate anyone who reads this to include my mother in your thoughts, or in your prayers if you do that sort of thing. She really needs a miracle.


Thursday, August 21, 2008


So! Today I learned how to milk a cow! Unfortunately it wasn't quite as cool as what I originally thought milking cows would be (i.e. sitting on a bucket beside the cow and manually squirting milk into a bucket, but it was still pretty neat.

What we actually did was learn to use a milking parlour, which is this room where you have (in this case) two rows of cows that file into two chutes on either side, and go up to the individual feeding troughs, with their back ends towards the middle of the room. They're electronically identified by their collars, and are fed a certain amount of food.

A Picture of the Milking Parlour, taken from the R(D)SVS website
So once the cows are up in position, you, the milker, are below them in the sort of pit-ish area you can see above. There are machines that you fit on the cows udder, and it milks them, and then comes off when it detects the milk flow has stopped. It's pretty much all automated, and the machines report to a database where each cow's milk is measured and the machines can also tell if the cow has mastitis (udder infection) or if it's on antibiotics and can't have its milk thrown in with the rest.

All the while, while this is happening, the cows are pooing and urinating whenever they so desire, and woe betide you if you happen to be trying to fit a milking apparatus on the cow as it desides it needs to go, because you're basically standing right in the danger zone when you're puting the milker on.

Anyway, so after an hour of this, I have a whole different perspective of where milk comes from. I know it's pasteurized and everything, but even so, it's a pretty disgusting and unclean process.

So other than that, this week has been filled with mainly lectures and dissections, and also practical "clean" classes where we look at radiographs and bones and things. I like these clean classes the best, and I think one of the things I'm very interested in specializing in would be radiography, because I just think it's so cool.

I also like "clean" labs because I get to play.
Me checking out a radiograph of a dog skull
The other cool thing we did, which I didn't take any pictures of, was our small animal handling practical. We went out to Oatridge College, which is sort of in the middle of nowhere, and played with rabbits, rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, and chinchillas in order to get familiar with handling them and picking them up properly.

In other news, I think I'm getting a cold, which distresses me a bit, but fortunately it's almost the weekend, and I can relax a bit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

First Fringe!

I saw my first Fringe show today! It was called the Caesar Twins, and apparently they're a pretty big deal. They were actually really good, albeit slightly weird because they're twins, and almost slightly homo-erotic. BUT, despite this, they were quite good, and actually quite funny at times. It was almost like Cirque-de-Soleil in the types of things they did, but a little smaller scale. They did lots of balancing acts, and trampoline tricks, and some funny twin jokes, and lots of flips and twists and things.

Here are some pictures of them. I, obviously, was not allowed a camera inside, so these are stolen from various places around the internet, but just to give you a small glimpse of what they were like, here ya go.

Pablo & Pierre, the twins
This is more what they look like now, with the hair,
and that sort of balancing thing is a lot of the type of thing they did.
This is one of the adverts for the show we saw tonight.
So anyway, as I said, the show was really great, and then we went out for dinner and drinks afterwards, first at an American restaurant called "The Filling Station," which served very yummy cheeseburgers and chips, and then moved to a pub off Princes Street that I can't remember the name of, but they had a fun folk-ish sort of band playing. It was quite crowded, and so I didn't take any pictures, because I was trying to not be extremely touristy, but suffice it to say that it was a good restaurant, and a good bar, and I had a good time. :)

I will definitely have to take a picture of the venue of the Caesar Twins next time I go near it, though, because it is a purple cow. And when I say a purple cow, I really mean it; a great, big, inflatable, purple cow is sitting in a square in Edinburgh, and it contains a stage. The venue we were at was called the "Udderbelly" and then there's also a venue further into the city on the lower level of streets called the "Underbelly," and then there's also another venue called the "Baby Belly" and they're all purple cow themed.

Anyway, tomorrow classes start up in full, and I am somewhat sad to have finished my last weekend of freedom and have to begin studying for real (because I decided to fully enjoy my last weekend of freedom and did very little studying), but I'm sure lectures will be interesting, and we've got two dissections tomorrow. Yay!

Friday, August 15, 2008


So I should probably preface this entry with a warning:

If you have a weak stomach, don't like seeing pictures of dead things, or things with their skin cut off, you probably should avoid the pictures I'm going to show you in this one. I'll put them all at the end of the entry so you can choose not to scroll down that far.

Also, along the same lines, if you don't want to hear graphic details about the dissection.. you might just avoid this entry altogether. :)

Anyway. On to more exciting things. Today started off with two lectures on anatomy which occur just like any other lecture I suppose, except that it's different because it's stuff that you actually want to learn. So while I was tired and just tired of sitting for hours and hours, it was a good lecture, and I learned a lot.

After lectures we trooped across the hall into the dissection room, where we were teamed up into groups of three. My group members were Adam and Jess (not to be confused with Jessica). Both of them were very nice, and after talking to other classmates at the end, it seems we were the most successful at figuring out what was what, and being the first people done.

Our task was to dissect the left forelimb of the dog and discover the extrinsic muscles. So I made the first incision, and promptly made the first mistake, which was not to cut too deep. Oops! But that's alright, it wasn't a big deal, and we moved on. We peeled back the skin from the mid-line of the chest (the ventral medial plane) all the way around the elbow and to the midline of the back (dorsal medial plane). This was a fun task because not only is the outside of the dog particularly gross with formaldehyde and whatnot, but our dog had clearly not been preserved properly, and was growing lovely specimens of green furry mould.

This probably took the longest, so after about an hour of cutting and peeling and cutting and peeling we finally were able to see the muscles. It was actually really neat seeing them like this. In previous classes in high school and college we dissected silly things like frogs and earthworms and sharks and minks, the sort of things that you really wont ever need to know the insides of, so why bother learning, kind of thing, and also everyone besides me is really grossed out by it.

This dissection, though, was amazing because it's a dog, but even more so because I'm FINALLY with a group of people that think that dissecting a dog is the coolest thing in the world!

After the dissection we trooped back into the lecture theatre for a lecture on Agricultural Industry, which was somewhat interesting, but economy and statistics and what have you aren't really my thing, and plus it followed about the coolest class I've ever had, so it couldn't really compare. Bits of it were interesting, I don't want to make it seem like I didn't enjoy it at all, like we learned a bit about trends in agriculture and what causes the trends, but again, it's just not my thing.

So then after that quick lecture we had lunch. So a group of us (Nick, Kyle, Alan, David, Jessica, Anik and I) all went to the little sandwich shop around the corner and discussed our dissections while chowing down on lunch. Only vet students, right?

Anyway, so after lunch we headed up to the Greenfield Suite (GFS), which is a computer lab further up into the city, to look at some histology slides. This part was fun, but a bit confusing, because histology is probably the thing I find hardest, and looking at slides just makes me frustrated and angry. But it was only the first day, and this session was made slightly better by the fact that we were looking at these things on the computer rather than the microscope, which is easier on the eyes.

On the way back from the GFS I stopped into Concom, the certified Apple re-saler, and got a printer and some paper, and then got it home and set it up and realized that the damn thing didn't come with black ink. Who puts these packages together and thinks that people would rather have colored ink than black ink if they're forced to have only one? BLACK! BLACK is what I need and what any other reasonable person would need!

Ahem. Sorry. So tonight we're meeting our "mummies and daddies" who I think are in 3rd year of the 5-year program (or 2nd year GEPs). I have two "mummies" as most people do just because men are a real comodity around here, and they are both from Connecticut! Carin is from Ridgefield and Liz is from Trumbull. I don't think Liz will actually be here until September, but I'll probably meet Carin tonight, which should be fun.

Anyway time for dinner, but here are the pictures I promised! I did warn you!
Our somewhat-mouldy dog
Me, making the first incision!
Me, showing off the window into the Trapezius that
I cut, displaying the Serratus ventralis


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nothing too exciting today..

Today was a day mainly full of people talking at us about things relating to the services the school provides for us, such as computing and counseling and things like that.

We were set free at lunchtime, when I had my second go at matriculation, and was finally successful. So I am now OFFICIALLY a student at Dick Vet. Brilliant! After matriculating Jessica and I found a cute little cafe off the main road called Elephants and Bagels. I didn't take a picture (stupid!) but I will inevitably be returning there. I did collect this photo off the web, so you can get an idea at least what the outside looks like.
Elephants and Bagels
The inside was very cute, on the wall were all drawings (presumably done by customers) of elephants doing various things (usually having to do with bagels), and there were little elephant figurines and things all over the place. The food was also quite enjoyable. I had a cup of Tomato & Basil soup and a buttered bagel, along with a delicious mug of cappuccino. Jessica had a bagel with hummus (spelled hoummus in the UK oddly enough), and a chocolate muffin. I'll try and snap a picture of the inside of it next time I go.

Also, it is interesting to note that this is NOT the same place as "The Elephant House" which is the birthplace of Harry Potter. However, I have passed The Elephant House a few times, and will be going in one of these days, if only to take a picture of the place J.K.Rowling sat while writing HP, because I am obsessed. Although it is reputable as having the best coffee in Edinburgh. :)

I also passed a little statue of Greyfriar's Bobby, which I snapped a shot of. "Bobby" was a dog owned by John Gray, an Edinburghian policeman in the early 1800s. John Gray died in 1858 of tuberculosis, and was buried in Greyfriar's kirkyard. Bobby, who outlived his master by 14 years, was often to be found sitting on his master's grave. In 1867 when a proclamation was made that ownerless dogs be captured and euthanized, Sir William Chambers (a director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), paid for Bobby's license, thus making him the responsibility of the city council. Bobby died in 1872, and is buried just inside the gate of the Greyfriar's kirkyard, and his epitaph reads: "Greyfriars Bobby — died 14th January 1872 — aged 16 years — Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all."
Greyfriar's Bobby
Being the future vet that I am, I of course find this amazing, and I love how a dog has so much recognition and respect. Go Bobby! It is also hilarious to point out that the dog's statue used to face the opposite direction, looking towards his master's gravesite, however at some point the owner of the Greyfriar's Bobby Pub had him turned around so that the pub would be in the background of tourists pictures. (Thanks to Wikipedia for all this information!)

So after lunch we returned for a tour of the Summerhall building. We had already been around much of Summerhall, but I did snap one cool picture of the oldest lecture hall in Europe, I think it was.

Anik and Jessica in the Old Lecture Theatre
We returned then for more introductions to school organizations, and there's not a whole lot to say about it here, but suffice it to say that it felt like forever. We did have one very interesting lecture at the end about the History of Dick Vet, and got to see some pictures of what the school looked like back in the day. I should point out that this is the oldest vet school in Scotland, second in the UK only to London, which beat it by about 20 years.

Anyway, so then we returned to Pollock Halls for some much needed rest before dinner in about 30 minutes, and tonight I'll probably spend finishing my EMS forms and typing up my notes from yesterday. Fun stuff! I'm already excited for the weekend!

Tomorrow I believe the real lectures begin. We've got lectures on the Animal Body for a good 4 hours tomorrow, and then Friday we have our first dissection (So excited!!).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Eestairre Booosh!

So I had my first official class today, which was pretty good. It was introduction to anatomy, and we learned a bit of definitions and things. The teacher seems quite tough in terms of being on time and knowing things, but she also cracked a few jokes and seems like a nice enough sort of person outside of class.

After class we got a bus out to Easter Bush Veterinary Center (henceforth known as EBVC), where we were introduced to the center and given tours around the small animal hospital, large animal hospital, and the classrooms and what have you.
View on the way to Easter Bush
All roads point to Easter Bush
EBVC main building
Small Animal Hospital
So after the tours, we had a lunch at the EBVC canteen, which had quite yummy food and coffee, and we got to talk to one of the professors, Dr. Alastair McDonald, who sat at our table, and was quite funny and cool. After lunch we had an introduction to the extramural studies system, and a lot of it was information we already had, but some of it was helpful. Then we watched this AMAZING video called "KNOW THE DANGERS!" which was basically the worlds worst actors teaming together to produce a video on safety with animals, namely cows. It had horrible renditions of people being trampled by cows, rammed by bulls, and squashed by heifers. Hilarious.

Then on the way back, the bus was like 45 minutes late, which was annoying, but on the way out I snapped this picture, which made it all worth it.

Me with William Dick
Tomorrow promises another day of boring safety lectures and intro talks, and a re-do of matriculation because my bank likes to make life difficult. But on the upside, I have an iPhone, and internet in my room, so all is not lost!

Also, I met some new people in more depth today, Anik and Danica, both of whom are quite nice. :)

And on a completely random side note, I've discovered (rather disconcertingly) that I have begun thinking with a British/Scottish accent from time to time, and I'm always afraid I'm going to pop out with something and it's going to be with an accent and someone's going to think I'm mocking them. But so far we haven't had any incidences, :-P

Anyway, time for bed!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I met Braveheart today!

I am still thwarted by my attempts to buy a mobile, but my time will come soon. I should get the papers I need from my bank tomorrow, and then I can finally fulfill my geeky longing for the iPhone. :)

In other news, I met Braveheart today! Kit and I were wandering the city, buying necessities like hairdryers and shampoo, and we found ourselves at the castle. We didn't go in, because we want to wait for the Fringe to end so it's not so packed with gazillions of people. But the outside was quite nice. On the way out, Kit snapped a picture of me with Braveheart. He was hilarious.

Edinburgh Castle, mobbed with tourists
Braveheart and Me. I was trying not to look sheepish
and embarrassed, but I'm pretty sure I failed :)

Anyway, at 18.00 tonight Kit, Jessica and I are meeting a bunch of other Dick Vets for dinner. I met in passing a few of them today, but tonight should be a fair few of us, which should be very fun.

Matriculation is tomorrow! As of tomorrow afternoon I will officially be a Royal Dick (Jessica and I were thinking we need sweatshirts that say that on the front, just to confuse people).

So excited!

Today was a lazy day...

...but tonight was a night of well-mannered (hah!) frivolity!

Firstly, at dinner, we met another girl on our program, Kit, who is also from California. She is quite nice as well. Anyway, Jessica and I decided at dinner that we wanted to explore the pub culture of Scotland, and what better evening than Saturday night! So we started out at the Southsider, which I'd read about in the Freshers' pamphlet they gave us, and apparently it's the hang-out spot of Dick Vet students. And, going in, it was quite obvious why. Cheep beer (and GOOD beer), and nice atmosphere, and live music (the band was called the Offenders). Definitely a place I will return to. At this bar, I sampled St. Andrew's Ale, which was very delicious.
The Southsider Pub
The Offenders
Jessica and I in the Southsider
The next bar we stopped at was in the fringe area, so very packed full of tourists, called Deacon Brodie's Pub. Our first intention at this pub was mainly the bathroom, but once there we decided to try something, so I had Edinburgh's best Cask Ale, which was also better than US beer, but still not as good as the St. Andrew's. No pictures from here, as it was too crowded.

THEN, we walked down my favorite street, West Bow, and stopped in a cute looking place called The Last Drop, which was a great atmosphere, and had money plastered to the ceiling, which was amazing. I tried Guinness here, and actually loved it, which is odd, because I remember trying it in college and thinking it was the most disgusting drink I've ever tasted. But it was really good. Maybe even my favorite so far. Jessica also taught me how to tip a bartender in Scotland, which is by telling him after he's gotten your drinks "also one for yourself." And I'm not sure how she knows this, but the bartender seemed very pleased, and taken aback, that I had said this, and sheepishly took himself a tip.

The Last Drop Pub
The barstaff of the Last Drop - note the money on the ceiling.
Jessica and I in the Last Drop

Then we walked back home in the rain, and it was fantastic. Jessica and I have roughly the same sense of humor, so it was a very fun time. :) We stopped in a "Scotland Store" and were having fun listening to the Scottish versions of American songs (played on the bagpipes of course). I bought us both a cheap little keychain of a Scottie dog. I figure, it's a must have for a vet in Scotland, and cute besides. :)

Scottie Dog Keychain
Earlier in the day, as I said, was a lazy day, mainly to give my feet time to recover (blisters abound), and just to take a day off from hard-core exploration. I had a nice long nap, and caught up with people online. But again, it's nice to have a lazy morning in preparation for a fun night!

Also, the UK has claimed its second umbrella. I have given up.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thought I was done for the day didn't you!

I thought I was done doing cool Scottish things for the day, but Jessica and I decided on spur of the moment to climb Arthur's Seat to break in the new boots. Let me tell you, SO gorgeous. It was fantastic, beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, and a great workout, haha.

Anyway, I'm posting a few of the best pictures here, but they'll all be in albums here (and the link will exist forever more in the links to the right).

So here are the better ones. I'm going to do them a little bit differently and put the captions under them, because it seems to look a little better than the way I was doing them before, so just be aware :)

Beautiful sunset on Arthur's Seat.
Edinburgh skyline. That boxy thing slightly to the left of center is Edinburgh Castle.
We thought we were near the top.. Not so much.
Pretty wildflowers. I'm not sure what kind they were, but they were so gorgeous.
Probably the highlight of the climb (besides the summit, obviously), was the 3 Scottish teenagers we met who thought our American accents were really cool and wanted us to take a picture with them. I love Scottish people.
I think this is Dunsapie Loch, but I'm not positive.
Jessica and Me at the top! We made it!
Skyline at nightfall.
That's all for tonight. For the rest of the pictures, see my gallery. All in all, a very good day! :)

The Sun appears!

It was nice out today, which meant that there was actually sun for a good few hours, before the cloud cover returned. But it was also warmer and much drier, so I didn't have to carry my umbrella around with me. I brought a U of Ed parka just in case, which I bought this morning, and think will come in useful when it's drizzly out.

I explored from about 10-ish until 4 or so, which my feet are sorely regretting, but it was good to see everything from somewhere other than the underside of my umbrella. :) I also took advantage of the weather to buy all my textbooks, and only looked through them for a minute, because they scare me a bit. I read a paragraph and got really nervous cause there was just so much new information in that one paragraph, that I don't know how I'm going to learn it all, but somehow I will!

In other news, I have met my first vet student! Her name is Jessica, and she is very nice :) We're going to dinner right after this.

Anyway, on to pictures!

A view of Arthur's Seat from Pollock Halls. I haven't yet made it up, but once my feet recover from the last few days exploring I'll hopefully have a nice walk up.
Baird House!
Queen's Hall, which is the headquarters of live music in Edinburgh. Haven't yet been in, but hopefully I'll get a chance at sometime during the Fringe.
A Police box, which may or may not double as the Tardus. (For those of you who don't know, google Dr. Who & the Tardus, and you'll see what I mean)
So far this is my favorite part of town. the Street is West Bow, which comes off Cowgate Head, and doubles back. At the end of the street are a few Joke shops, where they sell such things as gigantic Tam-o-shanters and silly wigs.
First view of the Fringe! Haven't explored too much of the Fringe yet, but I enjoyed the touristy shops, and bought my first pair of wellies and a tartan scarf (cashmere, mm)!
Inside of St. Giles Cathedral. This picture doesn't do it justice at all, cause you can't see the stained glass, but there was a 2 pound charge for a "picture license" so I had to be discrete :)
Bellevue Rendezvous, a really cool acoustic group that was playing in the cathedral. The instruments are a fiddle, a nychelharpa, and a mandolin (L-R). Very cool.
A view of the North Bridge from down below. It's a very nice bridge, but unfortunately hard to see over while you're on it, so I think you miss out on a lot of really cool pictures because of it.

Anyway, that's all for now, I'm starving, so it's off to dinner!