Friday, October 22, 2010

The bowels of Pseudonymous Medical Center, on a call night. Industrial beauty at 3 am. If Hopper had worked at a hospital, this is what we would have instead of Night Owls.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's art if I say it's art.

Achingly blue sky, gloriously golden leaves: of such things are autumn evenings made.


Living in a national historic district means that even the streetlights are old-school and fancy.
Streetlights part deux. I think they turned on about five seconds after I snapped this picture. Damn my impatience!
"Dead leaves and the dirty ground when I know you're not around..." White Stripes? Anyone? But seriously, wet, fallen leaves? How falltacular can you get? PS. If this is your house and you saw me loitering outside with my Nikon, and thought I was either casing the joint or getting ready to report you to the Neighborhood Association, I am very sorry.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saw a praying mantis on campus earlier this week and decided to take a picture. I like praying mantises...sphodromantis viridis...if for no other reason than that they're pretty effing cool. They make an art form of camoflage. They even rock rhythmically to imitate vegetation blowing in the wind. Some are even able to turn black after fires destroy their habitat, the better to blend in. They are completely predatory. They eat other insects mostly, but the biggest species (Australian species primarily) will even eat birds, fish and rodents that are small enough for them to catch and devour (ok, that IS kind of gross). The females are bigger than the males, and after they finish copulating (or even during...) the females frequently eat the males' heads. According to studies--no doubt involving tiny candlelit dinners and scientists playing the mantis equivalent of Barry Manilow--males who are sexually cannibalized have increased reproductive success--they are able to mate longer, thus increasing the odds that their reproductive material makes its way into a hot mantis female.
It's kind of a black widow setup, except praying mantises are true insects (six legs, distinct abdomen, thorax and head--yes, I realize I am an utter dork) and not arachnids. I hate arachnids. I have true arachnophobia--I don't just dislike them; being around one, even one the size of, say, a mustard seed, makes me break out in a cold sweat. I read once that the average-sized American room (whatever the hell that means) in a residential setting contains 2.8 spiders. I don't think I've slept well since. Maybe if I had a bed in a cleanroom--you know, the kind they use for putting together computer components.
And the praying mantis, enraged by the paparazzi, rushes the camera! Run! Run for your lives! Run if you value your head!

Monday, October 11, 2010



It says, "Not here anymore. Return to sender." Which is sort of how I feel about the memorial service we had for my uncle on the first weekend of October. It was a chance to scatter his ashes on a hill at the farm where he and my father's siblings and other close kin (yes, in Missouri we can get away with using the word 'kin') spent a lot of time as children. It was an opportunity to laugh, cry, eat and drink; to do everything we do in life, together with family members that I don't know as well as I wish to, and thereby get to know them better. My other uncle gave a truly moving eulogy; my cousins and I embraced each other as we watched him toss what remained of his brother to the wind. I'm not sure if I feel Closure--we say that as if psychological closure is like surgical closure, just toss in a couple sutures and things will heal without incident--but it was a good way to say goodbye, if not to resolve everything all of us in the family have been feeling and thinking.

And then the drinking began (ok, my couisin already had some whiskey in his coffee before we started up the hill, and I'd already had a glass and a half of wine, but you know what I mean).
The barn at the farm in Bland, Missouri. Yes, that's right, Bland, Missouri. Go ahead. Type it in on Google maps. It exists.There are cows, too. One dropped a calf as we drove up the gravel road. Felt like a city slicker.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


One of the exits to the parking garage at Pseudonymous Teaching Hospital. It looks like something out of Star Trek, doesn't it? Says the girl who has only seen one or two episodes of Star Trek in her entire life.
Deep things that I want
1. World peace.
2. A life partner who loves me as I am, body, mind and soul, and whom I also love utterly and completely.
3. A healthy relationship with food and my body
4. To be able to provide for my patients' needs, not only medically but through the power of the therapeutic relationship
5. To be fully at peace with myself
6. A closer relationship with my family--both immediate and extended
7. A cure for cancer (I don't have to discover it... I just want someone to find it).
8. To establish a foundation that provides scholarships for eating disorders treatment to those who can't afford it
9. The healing of the environment

Shallow things that I want
1. Longer legs and bigger breasts
2. Awesome, earth-shattering, even-the-neighbors-have-a-cig-afterward sex (I have a few specific partners in mind, but mentioning their names is too gauche even for me)
3. Some money. Not a lot. Just some.
4. To get my novel published, to both critical acclaim and economic windfall
5.Did I mention sex?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Just for interest's sake (when I should be studying musculoskeletal surgery stuff): Apparently ducks have really weird genitalia. See here. A drake can have a phallus that's as long as he is. And is shaped like a corkscrew. Just another reminder that the universe has an effed-up sense of humor, and that nature regularly flies in the face of Occam's Razor.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Around my neighborhood...This is the incredibly skanky diner (I use the word skanky not in a sexual sense, but in the sense of a place that is so incredibly dirty and decrepit that even the thought of going inside makes you want to scrub your entire body with steel wool and straight lye) not too far from my apartment. As you can see, they offer breakfast, and fried rice, all day (I would like to point out that the two are not mutually exclusive, but something about the 'or' suggests that if you attempted to order fried rice for breakfast, the owners wouldn't take too kindly to it). The fried rice will cost you, but the family-owned-diner taste (which is actually bugs) is thrown in for free. That and the salmonella.
In the two years I've walked by the place, they've never changed the sign in any way; it's a dry-erase board, but nothing has ever been added, and nothing has ever been erased. Isn't that the point of the dry-erase board? Its infinite alterability?Please, insert your own double-entendre/ penis joke here. *That's what she said!* Ahem. Apologies for that bit of juvenilia. But seriously, several times a year this specialty grocer has a 'massive meat sale.' For once I was carrying a camera when I happened upon the giant, burns-your-retinas-with-its-awesome-fluorescentness, hyperbolic sign.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Happy photo fun time!What IS this? A bird? A butterfly? A very ugly beanie baby? Wrong (it could be made into the last, I suppose, but the marketing possibilities seem limited). It's a polyphemus moth, known to scientists by his alias Antheraea polyphemus. I saw him hanging out on the wall next to the front door of my apartment building, chillin', doing his little Saturniidae thing (or not so little, actually--as a member of the 'giant silk moths,' he is by definition not small; his wingspan is about six inches, one of the largest moths in Missouri, a distinction he shares with the fluorescent green Luna moth). He's named for his eyespots, after the cyclops Polyphemus of Greek myth. Why are you calling this moth a HIM, Anne?, you ask. I'm not just assuming everything is male unless proven otherwise; actually sexual dimorphism in A. polyphemus is pretty obvious (ie, males and females look very different). Males have super-bushy antennae, the better to detect the pheromones of hot, nubile females in search of steamy moth action. This particular moth stayed with us for about two days, then disappeared. Either he left of his own volition or, more likely, he shuffled off this mortal coil with the assistance of one of the shady pigeons in the neighborhood. Actually, I've noticed some very interesting color patterns in the pigeons of St. Louis...ah, urban flora and fauna. Anyway, if he'd stuck around longer, I might have named him...Mothra.
And then there's urban fauna redux. Random shot into some guy's office on Pseudonymous Medical School's campus. This, obviously, is Uncle Buck.


Heirloom tomatoes purchased from the Farmer's Market outside Pseudonymous Major Midwestern Teaching Hospital where I am currently doing my 3rd year clerkship. I get to feel my warm, fuzzy sense of lefty superiority (I'm buying local! No migrant workers were exploited to bring me my tomatoes! They're organic! Good lord, my flight of latte-swilling, Marx reading liberal elitism has led me binge on exclamation points like Lindsay Lohan on cocaine!) and still reap the very selfish rewards of buying heirloom tomatoes. What are heirloom tomatoes? Glad you asked--they're old varieties with names like Brandywine and Big Boy (they don't all sound like strippers or sex toys...) that have fallen out of cultivation since the arrival of big agribusiness and factory farming. Why are they so fabulous? Unlike major commercial varieties, which are bred primarily to be shippable across long distances, these are bred for interesting color patterns, unusual shapes, and freaking awesome flavor. I'm not kidding about the flavor: heirloom tomatoes are to the mealy, wan varieties you find in the produce aisle as black tar heroin is to Pixy Stix.

I take previously mentioned tomatoes and make my (in)famous Asiago, Tomato and Basil Tart.I could give you the recipe. Maybe if you comment I will. Maybe I will enjoy withholding it, as I get to experience so few power trips in my everyday life.

But on to my colonoscopy (hey! great segue!) that I promised to discuss two weeks ago, and for which you've been waiting with baited breath, I'm sure. Results: inflammation of the lower foot or so of my colon. Differential diagnosis: Ulcerative colitis, random infectious nastiness, and ischemic bowel disease. Turns out there are 3 sorts of people who get ischemic bowel--the elderly, because they get everything; folks who are a little too fond of cocaine; and distance runners, particularly women. Well, I'm not that old, and I'm not a coke fiend, but around the time the abdominal pain and bleeding showed up, I had increased my weekly mileage from my standard 35 or so miles per week to 60. Apparently athletic colitis is like runner's trots, but to the 'n'th degree. Deprived of blood for a little while, your intestines freak out a bit, but you have a bout of diarrhea and then everything's cool again. Deprived for a longer period of time (on the order of hour(s), like when I do my 10-mile runs), you can get partial or even full-thickness necrosis (death) of the bowel wall. According to my research, something like 2% of all female marathoners are expelling visible blood when they finish their 26.2. I'm taking anti-inflammatory meds at the moment, and they seem to be helping. Hopefully this is over and done.