Sunday, September 25, 2005

kitty love

just now, i led our cat, sarin, into the bedroom to greet the husband. she has a little ritual with him on weekdays, where she waits outside of the bathroom door for him to finish showering. when he comes out, she will start chattering incessantly until he starts for the kitchen to feed her. on weekends he sleeps in more often so i end up feeding her. i can tell she's ok with this, but isn't stoked about it as much as she about him feeding her.

when we got into the bedroom, she went over to his side of the bed, where he had left his clothes from yesterday in a pile. he did some yardwork yesterday, and said he forgot to put on deodorant. this = dirty hippie stink all over the shirt. sarin went nuts, treating the shirt like it was sprayed with catnip. she sniffed and chewed the armpits, then flopped down and did the hind legs rabbit routine on it, just in time for him to come in and watch.

this is a recurring theme with sarin. every time there's been a man in the house with her she's taken to them like a giddy schoolgirl. she'll follow them everywhere, hop up on their laps often and sleep on their side of the bed. she makes nests for herself with clothes that smell like them. i will admit i am somewhat jealous because she likes girls ok, but nothing like how she responds to males. i've had her since she was 8 weeks old, and have been the only constant person throughout her whole life. when i come home she might greet me if i happen to go into the room she's in, but when the mister comes home? she runs into the room and starts up with meowing and the face rubbing on his pant legs. it's not me, it's that i'm a girl and she can smell that on me. i have nothing to offer her.

so it makes me wonder how strong is a signal between two species? i always thought they'd at least be different enough so that you wouldn't have tons of useless attempts of interspecies mating going on in the wild.

(as a side note, there are real hybrid animals, but it's between two species that are pretty damn close evolutionarily speaking. still though, a wolphin!?)

wouldn't you know? they've done studies on this type of thing:

"Recent evidence suggests that vomeronasal sensory neurons may be narrowly tuned to specific molecules (Leinders-Zufall et al., 2000), unlike the main olfactory system, so why would one species respond to another's pheromones? Foreign pheromones would be unlikely to carry mutually beneficial information for another species, but they may have common chemical components. Hamsters probably also share a similar repertoire of functional VR genes with other rodents, as is the case for mice and rats (Dulac and Torello, 2003). Common chemicals would activate common receptors but could be components of different blends, each blend a pheromone only for one of the species. It is also possible that the VNO may have receptors (specialist or generalist) for nonpheromone substances. For example, snakes use the VNO to detect predators and prey (Halpern and Martinez-Marcos, 2003)."

now, this study used hamsters, but it gets my point through. if there are common molecular components to the pheromones of cats and humans, sarin's response could be due to some part of the human male sweat that reminds her of boy kitty scent. it's a response i've seen in her reaction to three different men. it's been the strongest in the husband, but when my brother and i lived together with her, she did exhibit the same behavior with him, and still does when he comes to visit.

i don't know if it's purely sexual, or related a deference to males in general. it's hard to swallow that last part if you know sarin, because she's really not the type to play submissive to anyone. at the very least, it highlights how her interactions with our family may not be merely based upon the promise of some more wet food, but as a necessary social interaction. and they say cats prefer to be alone!

since we're talking about kitties-we are in preparations for getting another cat. it's gonna be a boy kitten, and we should receive him as soon as he's weaned, which will probably be another couple of weeks. i think she'll like him. but he's very cute, very laid back and kinda chubb for a 4 week old baby. i'll post pictures when he gets here.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Welcome to MS2: no more fucking around, we've got lives to save!

this year started off with a bang, namely the party the boy threw for me when i got back. it was great to see all the people i'd missed while being braised in my own sweat over in bethesda. our research finished nicely, having seen something like 26 patients. with every patient taking half a day, that's pretty damn productive. if all goes well and the gods are happy with the immolation, we'll get a couple papers published.

it's become very clear from the start of MS2 that there will be no more of what one of our professors calls "academic bulimia". it's not like we didn't realize before that we needed to know this stuff for a reason other than to pass an exam, but it seemed so far away then. now it's less than a year away. the exam questions have become more clinical in nature and the lecturers now assume we remember the anatomy behind the stuff they're teaching. needless to say, i've been breaking out the old shit a lot.

currently we're in the cardiovascular system. i've never been the heart's biggest fan, given that it's a lame-ass pump (with 14% efficiency i might add), but nonetheless, it's pretty important since so many people have bad ones. here's some numbers for the US, from some guy named Ben Best, who seems to like death + statistics as much as i do:

in the US:

(1) Diseases of the heart heart attack (mainly) 28.5%
(2) Malignant neoplasms cancer 22.8%
(3) Cerebrovascular disease stroke 6.7%

In other places:

(1) Ischemic Heart Disease 12.4%
(2) Cerebrovascular Disease 9.2%
(3) Lower Respiratory Infections 6.9%

and it's only gonna get worse for my generation of physicians:

-From 1979 to 2002 the number of Americans discharged
from short-stay hospitals with CHD as the first listed
diagnosis increased 22 percent. (CDC/NCHS)
-From 1990-–1999, the median duration of hospital stay
related to acute myocardial infarction dropped from 8.3 days
to 4.3 days, according to an analysis of the NRMI. Findings
were similar for both patients receiving primary PTCA and
those receiving thrombolytic therapy. (J Am Coll Cardiol
-Based on the NHLBI'’s Framingham Heart Study (FHS) in
its 44-year follow-up of participants and the 20-year followup
of their offspring (Hurst W. The Heart, Arteries and
Veins. 10th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2002)
-The average annual rates of first major cardiovascular
events rise from 7 per 1,000 men at ages 35-44 to 68 per
1,000 at ages 85-94. For women, comparable rates occur
10 years later in life. The gap narrows with advancing age.
Under age 75, a higher proportion of CVD events due to
coronary heart disease (CHD) occur in men than in women,
and a higher proportion of events due to congestive heart
failure (CHF) occur in women than in men.
-The aging of the population will undoubtedly result in an
increased incidence of chronic diseases, including coronary
artery disease, heart failure and stroke. (Circulation
-The U.S. Census estimates that there will be 40 million
Americans age 65 and older in 2010.

Source: American Heart Association Website

so yeah, this heart stuff is pretty important no matter how damn boring it is.

as i was looking all this stuff up, i found out that september is not only National Cholesterol Education Month, but also National Osteopathic Medicine Month.

spread the word, get your cholesterol checked. mine is total: 176, LDL: 115, HDL: 51 and triglycerides: 48.

yes, thank you, i will have another steak.

and get some osteopathic manipulative medicine done, because frankly, your back is killing you, isn't it?

as an aside, if you want to be thuroughly informed and entertained, the rest of Ben Best's website is completely awesome. beware of driving in Portugal or South Korea, and of being poisoned in Russia. he also write stuff on nutrition, calorie restriction and how it makes you live longer, and cryonics for when you've fucked it all up and want another spin on this mortal coil.