ladysprite: (steampunk)
You know how sometimes you're driving on the highway, and you need to exit, but there's a ton of traffic and the exit lane is backed up for almost a mile?  And you're tempted to be a jerk and cruise along a lane or two over, until you're about a tenth of a mile from the exit and then brake and cut over to the exit lane all sudden-like, cutting off a bunch of people and saving yourself a few minutes?

Don't do that.  It's not just rude - it's also freaking dangerous.  And odds are you won't be the person hurt.  You'll probably never even know that your idiot moves led to, say, a massive accident behind you.

Yesterday I was driving to work, and that's exactly what happened.  I was in the second lane over, and the jerk in front of me decided to wait until the last minute and then suddenly brake and duck into the exit lane.  I had enough time and space to slow down and avoid hitting him.  The guy driving the giant commercial truck behind me wasn't so lucky.

He tried to swerve to avoid hitting me, but on the highway at rush hour that just meant that he clipped another car before swinging back to rear-end me.  All three of us spent the next hour on the side of the road, dealing with police and insurance, while the asshat in the black sedan that triggered all of this cruised on down I-95, oblivious to what happened.

It could have been worse.  I strained my trapezius, and my car needs a new tail light and bumper, plus repairs to the hood and the....other metally bits in back.  But we're both mostly functional, and the other two vehicles (and people) involved were better off than me.  Still, it was a pretty damn serious situation.

So.  Don't drive like a dick.  Seriously, suck up those five minutes and get in the lane you need at the end of the line.  Don't be the reason someone else gets mashed by a freight truck.
ladysprite: (steampunk)
I promised myself I wouldn't make a whiny, vague, passive-aggressive post about my grumpy experience at the gym this afternoon. So I won't. But that doesn't mean I can't talk about my experience, or my emotions.

So I'm still not recovering very well from the most recent car accident. I'm still in a lot of pain; as I write this muscles under my right shoulder blade are spasming and twitching in rather odd and unpleasant ways in spite of the megadose of valium I took earlier. But I'm doing everything I can to get better, and that includes walking.

And, since it's midwinter and it's cold and snowy out there, I've been using the Tufts gym as my walking-place. [ profile] umbran can drive me there when he gets home from work, and so most evenings we go there and walk around the track for half an hour or so. It helps me feel productive, on bad days it gives me a reason to get dressed and out of the house, it keeps me from losing even more condition, and the low-impact motion and activity actually helps with the pain in a pretty significant way.

And yeah, it sucks when I used to be able to run for half an hour, without breaks, to be limited to a slow walk, and it makes me feel kind of ashamed and kind of a prisoner in my own body, but it's a damn sight better than nothing.

So when the coach who was apparently supervising the 4 other people in the gym, who were running laps on the same (large, multi-lane) track yelled at us in a snotty tone that "Walkers, stay to the outer lanes; I have ATHLETES trying to run here,".... it hurt. A lot.

And I didn't cry, and I didn't yell at her (though I did point out that, last time we were walking in the outer lanes, we were told that walkers needed to stay to the inner lanes), but I kind of wish I could make a Public Service Announcement to Everyone At Gyms - the people there who aren't at your level of activity aren't automatically inferior beings. I'm not walking because I'm too lazy to run; I'm walking because I'm recovering from multiple severe spinal injuries. I'm an athlete too, and I deserve as much respect as anyone else on that track.

Also (and okay, this is venturing slightly into bitchery), if they're such athletes, shouldn't they be able to handle the strenuous ordeal of moving one foot to the left or right to pass us?

Please. Don't take away what has become my safe space for recovery; I don't know what I'll do without it.

On a brighter note, much gratitude to the door guard who seemed to notice I was upset and chatted with me until I was smiling again. I am absolutely baking you cookies next time I come in....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
So there's a... meme? Theme? Recurring trend? That I've been running across lately on tv, and it bugs the heck out of me.

It happens in cop procedural shows, and heist/caper shows, where one of the heroes is a gruff, tough, rugged cop/vigilante with a Not-so)-secret gooey caramel heart. Somewhere in the B plot of the episode, our hero notices a woman or child who is clearly being abused by some asshole, but there's not enough proof for actual legal action, and the victim can't or won't leave the abuser or turn them in.

So our hero, unable to legally do anything, corners the abuser. He (it's always a he, in my experience) may physically assault the abuser; he may just trap him physically. And he puts the fear of God and bodily harm into the abuser, making it clear that he (the hero) is fully aware of what the abuser is doing, and that if the abuser ever so much as lifts a finger against his victim again, our hero will be watching and will beat the everloving crap out of the abuser, and possibly kill him.

And our viewing audience is left cheering and uplifted, celebrating the idea that a bully has been put in his place, a victim has been rescued, and justice has been served.

Except... that's not how it works in the real world.

Abusers and bullies aren't the same thing. One may grow up to be the other, but abuse is a lot more serious. And an abuser isn't going to suddenly have an Ebenezer Scrooge-style turnaround just because a square-jawed hero tells him he'll punch him if he doesn't. If they were the type to change that easily they wouldn't be repeatedly beating their dependents in the first place.

Moreover, the abuser isn't going to blame the hero; once they have to face the shame and fear of the threat they're going to blame the victim, and take it out on them. If anything, the hero is likely to make things worse. And even if it does work, and the abuser is scared away from physically battering their victim, there are still a lot of things an abuser can do to their target(s) that don't involve physical violence at all. And they're even more likely to act out in those manners.

So. Vigilante threats to abusers? Feel-good tv for most viewers, maybe, but not actually the message we should be sending - that illicit violence is the way to cure illicit violence.

Then again, actual useful intervention doesn't make for as viscerally satisfying television, I suppose...
ladysprite: (steampunk)
Apologies for the rant that's about to follow, but....

So I've been thinking a lot recently about social classes, and financial privilege. And I have to wonder - at what point of material well-being does one become incapable of comprehending that there are people whose upbringing did not match theirs?

Because I have a significant handful of friends - good friends, good people - who grew up fairly well-off, who are just incapable of comprehending this. They weren't wealthy, and that's all that they see, and so they feel that they grew up underprivileged. And, by extrapolation, that anyone else who claims the label 'underprivileged' grew up in a situation like theirs.

And to be honest, it frustrates me, because... well, there was a bit more challenge to growing up on food stamps, or with sometimes not enough money for both heat and food, than to growing up with only one summer home and no in-ground pool.

I grew up lower-middle class. Food stamps, reduced-price school lunches, hand-me-down clothes from my cousin who was sixteen years older than me. And yet I understand that it could have been a hell of a lot worse, and that there were people out there who DID have it a lot worse - we had enough food (mostly cheap stuff like Hamburger Helper, but it was food), we had a phone and tv.

And I think that's what confuses me the most. It seems like, at some level of privilege, people become incapable of recognizing that some people have it worse. And I don't understand how this happens, or at what point - or when the assumption becomes that everyone starts life off with more or less the same resources as you.

(And on that note, don't get me started on 'We're not rich, we WORKED for our money!' So did my family. The only difference is we started out with a lot more debt and a lot fewer resources, and earned a lot less. We weren't poor because we were lazy; we were poor because no one paid for our education or sent us out into the world with a stock portfolio and a trust fund.)

That said... ultimately what I want is to understand, and figure out how to explain. Because it's no one's fault that they grew up in different circumstances, and ultimately, as I said, they're good people. But I think that finding a way to communicate clearly this difference in experiences and circumstances would go a long way to improving the situation in this country.....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
Meanwhile, in the middle of everything else, it's time for another Letter From Your Veterinarian.

Dear clients,

I've told you this before, and I'll tell you again - Do Not Lie To Me. Seriously. In particular, do not lie to me about whether you're actually giving your pet their medication. Especially particularly when it's for a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition.

If you tell me you're not giving the meds, or not giving them as directed, I won't hate you. I won't yell at you, or punish you, or tell you you're a bad person, or take your pet away, or anything like that. The worst I will do is remind you, as politely as I can, that it's important to give the meds, and that they won't work as well on your counter as they will actually inside your dog.

If you lie to me, and tell me that you're giving them as directed, and haven't missed any doses, I will be forced to then wonder why your pet isn't getting better. And this will lead to one or more of the following situations:

1) I go on a hunt to find out what else may be wrong with your pet. This is likely to involve extensive diagnostics that take time (and precious bodily fluids) and cost money. Bloodwork, ultrasounds, timed tests that involve fasting and full days in the hospital, as I try to figure out whether your dog has concurrent infections, cancer, organ failure, or goodness knows what else. it This will lead to stress for your pet and significant expense (hundreds, possible thousands of dollars) for you.

2) I change your pet's medication dose and/or type. This is the potentially *really* bad one. If your pet is on half a pill twice a day, or 2 units of insulin, or suchlike, and it's not getting better, it may need more or different meds. If your pet is actually on zero units of insulin, and it honestly only needs 2, and I ratchet the dose up to 3 or 4 because I don't have the proper information, you have a potentially seizuring, critically ill animal on your hands. Or, if I change meds entirely, odds are I'm changing to one with more potential side effects and risks - there's a reason we don't use those things as our first choice.

3) I refer you up the line to a specialist. This is likely to lead to significant waste of time, money, and energy, as well as lead to possible medication problems, and will also wind up with you shuffling between multiple vets. And ultimately, if my complex, drug-resistant case winds up with a diagnosis of 'Client lied about meds,' I'm not the one who looks like an idiot. You are.

So. Truth means accurate treatment, higher chance of a healthy animal, and maybe a stern look. Lies mean potentially hundreds of dollars of unnecessary diagnostics, days of hospitalization, and serious risk to your pet's well-being.

We clear on that?



Your vet.
ladysprite: (Default)
I love books, and I love reading, and I love genre fiction, but over the past few months I've noticed a consistent pattern in the books I've been reading that has bugged the ever-loving crap out of me.

Several times in recent books, I've noticed that whenever an author describes an overweight character, they need to remind us of this fact in nearly every sentence - several times per paragraph, even. Almost every single time they reference the character. He can't just stand up; he 'stands up, his jiggly body shuddering.' She can't walk across the room, she has to 'shift her enormous bulk across the room.' They can't be referred to by name, they're always referenced as 'the fat man/girl/whatever.'

And they don't write this way for other characters. Tall, or ugly, or people of color, or other descriptors get tossed out once or twice and then let go of, as if the readers can be counted on to remember it for themselves. It's just fat that they need to constantly reiterate.

And this bothers me and offends me and upsets me for scads of reasons. It's shaming and phobic and cruel, because the language they use is always negative and because it's never allowed to rest. It narrows the character down to one specific trait - they're not allowed to be beautiful, or clever, or creative, or a good piano player; they have their one trait and that's their pigeonhole and they're stuck in it. It's just bad writing - the repetition grates on my nerves and it makes me feel like the author thinks I'm kind of stupid and can't remember a character description for more than a sentence or two. And, worst of all.... I had thought that we, as genre folk, were better than this. That because we F&SF fans and writers were intelligent, open-minded, accepting people we wouldn't engage in this kind of prejudice and cruelty. (I know that's naive, and I know that no group is perfect, but still... I'd expect that if I found this kind of meanness anywhere it'd be in Sweet Valley High novels, not in The Walking Dead.)

It stinks, and I wish there were a way to go to the writers and shake my finger at them and point out that what they're doing is bullying and shaming, but until I figure out how to do that (beyond B&N reviews and hoping to run into them at cons) I'll just say here, for any of my writer friends:

I'm guessing you don't do this. But for the record? It's okay to have fat characters, and thin characters, and green characters, and alcoholic/autistic/Amish/anything you like characters. But when you use one trait as a bludgeon, and consistently associate it with negative or cruelly-humorous descriptors, and feel the need to mention it every single time you reference the character? That's not cool.
ladysprite: (tangy)
I have been a fan of Glee since the first episode. I have promoted it to my friends. I have bought songs from the show. I have stood by it through the loss of focus that hit somewhere around the second season, and was willing to see what they did with the third season, after half their main characters graduated.

But I think I may have just found the line I can't cross.

Specifically, their portrayal of the school's D&D Club as a bunch of hyperkinetic nerds who dress up in wizard robes and pointy hats and jump around hitting each other with cardboard swords while an even more angsty pencil-necked dweeb gesticulates wildly, trying to control them and failing.

I am livid that a show whose primary message is about underdogs, losers, and unpopular kids triumphing in the face of bullying; whose characters include a transgendered student, openly gay couples, and a student in a wheelchair; that makes such an ostentatious point of acceptance, openness, and inclusivity, still thinks it's okay to make fun of gamers and geeks. Because, you know, they're just funny. It's okay to mock them.

I'm probably overreacting. But I'm sick and tired of the media stereotype of gamers as asthmatic, cheeto-chowing, socially retarded nerds who can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy. It's not accurate, and it's hurtful - both to those of us who actually enjoy RPG's and to those who are driven away from a hobby and a social circle they might enjoy because of the negative associations.

Maybe someday I'll watch this show again. But right now? I highly doubt it....
ladysprite: (tangy)
So for the next couple of months, I'm working Fridays at one clinic. Same clinic, same staff, so I'm working with the same doctor. And this is an incredibly talented doctor, but for the past few weeks said doctor has been dealing with sick children at home - and so has been bringing said sick children into the office so they could be cared for and watched. The practical offshoot of this is that I have been sharing a desk for two weeks with a six-year-old with a raging case of bronchitis.

Last night, while I was talking to my husband, I noticed that my throat felt a little scratchy. That's all. No big deal, right? And then this morning I felt a little more ouchy, and my voice was a little hoarse. Over the past two hours, that has progressed to a racking cough and an impressive inability to take a deep breath. Joy of joys.

Unfortunately, the ultimate result of all of this is that, since I work in a field that doesn't allow sick days for anything short of hospitalization, I will still have to go to work tomorrow, at a different hospital. I will then spend the whole day talking with, interacting with, and being in an enclosed space with about 20 different clients, and the entire hospital support staff. And despite my best efforts to drug myself into a symptom-free state and cover my mouth, odds are I'll share my newfound prize with a hearty number of them, leading to another hospital half-down with bronchitis for the next month.

For a profession made up of medical professionals, we can be remarkably un-smart sometimes.

And as a side note, I am ragingly furious at the fact that my ONE chance this week to go out and be social with people, after spending the entire week feeling lonely, isolated, and cut off from friends, has been ruined by microscopic lung-villains. Or at least, I would be if I had the energy and blood oxygen levels necessary to rage....
ladysprite: (Default)
Sometimes veterinarians joke about how the people we have to deal with are the worst part of our job. Usually, it's just that - a joke. But it's funny because sometimes it's actually true.

My job is to help make your pet healthy, and to help keep it that way once we get there. And I'm darn good at it. But I'm not a miracle worker, and I can't live in your house 24/7, and I don't have a pocket full of instantaneous permanent cures. So you need to be an active, participating part of your pet's health care, whether you like it or not.

Pets are like children - they cannot be relied upon to always know what's in their best interests, or to always make the right decision with regards to their own health and well-being. These are creatures who will swallow rubber clown noses whole, chew on power cords, and eat their own body parts when something seems wrong. It is your job as the sentient member of the relationship to occasionally make rules and enforce them, and to occasionally do things to or for them that they don't want done.

You are the human. You are the boss, not the animal. And I am sick and tired of people telling me 'He won't let me' when I tell them what they need to do for their pet's health. Or (my personal favorite) pointing and laughing. You are the primate, you have the thumbs, how the heck is your pet going to refuse to allow you to do (X/Y/Z)? It's kind of hard for them to hold a gun on you. If your pet is the boss in your relationship, it's not cute or adorable or funny or sweet. It's unhealthy, and a sign of poor pet care bordering occasionally on neglect.

If you own a pet, you should be able to:
-hold it
-pick it up (unless it's too physically heavy)
-touch its feet, face, and ears without getting bitten or having it throw a temper tantrum
-give it oral medication (yes, anyone with two hands can do this)
-perform the minimum necessary grooming to keep it healthy
-put down a bowl of appropriate food and have the animal eat it (discussions of what is appropriate are a separate rant)

If you have a dog, you should be able to put its harness/collar on yourself, attach it to a leash, and take it for a walk without it choking itself, trying to pull your arm out, or insisting on being dragged.

If you have a cat, you should be able to get it into and out of a carrier by yourself.

If you have a small pet that lives in a cage, tank, or other enclosed habitat, you should be able to pick it up and handle it safely, and clean its habitat. If handling it requires using safety equipment, you should have that safety equipment on hand at all times, and be comfortable using it.

If you cannot do these things, there is a problem, and odds are the problem is you. There are occasional exceptions, true, but they're pretty darn rare. If you don't know how to do these things, it is your responsibility to learn. If you know how, but your pet won't "allow" you to, it is your responsibility to work with your pet and train it until you can.

Because I am sick and tired of having animals become ill, suffer, and sometimes die because the owner "just can't" give it the necessary medicine, or feed it properly, or see to basic hygiene. This is neglect. Not the obvious kind you see on Animal Cops, where the animals are emaciated and covered in sores and filth, but neglect all the same - when I have a dog come in screaming in pain because it can't poo because there's a ball of feces the size of both my fists matted in its fur; when I have a pet come in bleeding from its face because its teeth are so rotten they rotted through its skin; when someone tells me to euthanize their pet with an entirely simple, affordable, treatable condition because it's too hard to give it medicine; when someone tells me that they can't bring their pet gerbil in because they can't get near it and so it survives by them just throwing food into the cage from a distance - that's a failure of good pet ownership.
ladysprite: (Default)
So one of the many reasons I currently love LJ more than Facebook is that FB seems to be where memes go to die. And while I like keeping in touch with my friends there, it gets a wee bit repetitive seeing the same pictures reposted and shared a dozen or more times.

And in particular, lately, the pictures and memes and witticisms being shared all seem to be on the same theme - namely, that current times are in every way inferior to the past. There are cute, witty pictures of modern reality stars wondering when they were deemed to be hotter than pinup girls, depictions that men's fashion has taken a serious nosedive, that song lyrics are nowhere near as creative and deep as they used to be, and a half a dozen other similar things, all summing up to the idea that NOW is completely and invariably worse than THEN, in every way.

And I kind of want to take everyone posting this and invite them to my house for a forced showing of 'Pleasantville.' And then I want to ask them if they really, truly believe that the 1930's/40's/50's/70's were a better time to live than now.

Yeah, plastic surgery and spray tans are a problem. But people have done stupid and damaging things for the sake of beauty for millenia. Stupid song lyrics go back hundreds of years, too. And if things aren't perfect now - and I'm not saying they are - they sure as heck weren't then, either. Or ever. We have our demons to fight right now (and I'm not sure saggy pants are the most important of them); they had theirs. If you don't like the way things are now, do something about it, rather than just pointing out how things used to be better, maybe, in some limited ways.

On the other hand, I'm also willing to bet that fifty years from now our grandchildren will be sending each other interactive holographic pops and clicks and abbreviated signals that will translate, in old-fogey talk, to 'When did our hideous dyed-skin, facially distorted, chimerically-hybridized celebrities of today become hotter than the wholesome smooth-faced, orange heroines of fifty years ago?'
ladysprite: (Default)
As some of you may remember, I have a brain-damaged kitten. Said kitten was also doing remarkably well, all things considered. She was weaned onto solid food, she was growing and playing and learning how to irritate the heck out of my senior cat, she was overcoming most of her developmental obstacles, with one exception - she wouldn't learn how to use the litterbox.

I tried everything I could think of, and ultimately called another veterinarian who specialized in treating behavioral disorders. And the one thing we thought of that we hadn't tried was putting her to socialize with another litter of kittens - maybe seeing other age-mates use the box might get her to learn by following. And it turned out that one of the techs I work with at one particular clinic is a volunteer kitten raiser for a local rescue group, and had a litter of babies. And she agreed to take my kitten for a little while, to see if this idea would work.

And so began Moxie's trip to boarding school. That was about a week and a half ago. We called to check on her a few days in, and were told that she was doing well - playful, eating, not quite sure what to do with the other kittens, but overall fine. And then... nothing. We tried to call the tech a couple of times, but got no answer.

Today I was working at said clinic. I started to worry when the office manager greeted me with condolences on the poor, sad, sickly baby I had taken on, and then proceeded to tell me how upsetting it was that the kitten couldn't track with her eyes, wouldn't look at anyone, and just lay there all the time while she was in the hospital, and how they had all been concerned that she was blind. I explained, a bit shocked, that she had not been anything like that when I left her, and she responded with a careful facial expression that made it clear she thought I was deeply in denial.

(And for the record, I am ripshit mad that, when the kitten at the clinic did not match my description, health-wise, NO ONE there thought to call and tell me - apparently the opinion of the entire staff was that I must have just been exaggerating about how good she was, and was in denial about her state.)

I called the foster mom, and didn't get an answer, but an hour or so later she ran in, dropped off the kitten, and ran out again. And I nearly burst into tears.

My poor baby. When I dropped her off, she weighed almost 2 pounds. She's now down to 1lb 3oz. She is too weak to walk, and can barely stand for a minute or two, before shaking and falling. She's lethargic, minimally responsive, and, unless prodded, just lies on her side in the corner.

She's filthy - her fur is stained yellow and clumped, and her skin is red and raw. The tech assured me that she was bathing her every day, but... evidence goes against that claim.

When I suggested to the rest of the staff that I was concerned about malnutrition, they refused to believe me, and kept insisting that she had a degenerative neurological disease. I mentioned that it was awfully coincidental that the degeneration didn't start until I had let her out of my sight. But... I was willing to give the foster house the benefit of the doubt.

That was until I went to put her back in her carrier to take her home. The same carrier that the tech had brought her in that morning. And I found the bowl of food in there. Specifically, the bowl of rotten dried-up food, with two different kinds of mold growing on it.

I have no more words.

My kitten nearly starved to death. I can't, at this point, guarantee she's going to make it. I've been feeding her every couple of hours, and I've got her back on the bottle just to try to rehydrate her and get some extra bonus nutrition in, but she's pretty far gone. And even if we do get her re-nourished... she's still developing, and God only knows what this episode of malnutrition did to her already-inferior brain.

I'm willing to cut the foster mom a LITTLE slack - Moxie *is* a special-needs baby, and you can't just throw a bowl of food in with her and expect her to eat whenever she feels like it, like a normal kitten - she needs to be placed near the food, and watched to make sure she eats. Maybe we didn't make that clear enough to her. But still. She should have noticed. She should have recognized that she wasn't eating. Hell, she should have recognized that she wasn't MOVING. She should have recognized that she was losing weight, and going downhill. Someone should have called me.

I should never have let her out of my sight. She's nearly dead, and it's partly my fault. And even if she makes it, she spent a week suffering and starving, and I can't get that out of my head.

Please, if anyone has any positive energy to spare, I'd appreciate if you sent it towards a particular troubled, sickly, brain-damaged Persian kitten right now....

Fed Up

Aug. 11th, 2011 08:54 am
ladysprite: (Default)
Why is it that clients refuse to believe my advice on pet foods, claiming that 1) "vets don't take any classes on nutrition or learn anything about it" (untrue in the extreme), and/or 2) I get kickbacks from the pet food companies for recommending their brands (also completely and utterly untrue, unless you count my cool red Purina ballpoint pen) - but will then rabidly devour any advice given to them by the clerks at Petco, in spite of the fact that said clerks 1) are not medical professionals or nutritional/biology specialists and 2) work at a store that exists only to sell you those products - functionally, getting paid to sell you stuff.

And they will believe anything they say without question, even when it is pathologically wrong. In the past two weeks I have had clients come in and tell me that they're feeding their dog an "all-protein diet" (which would rapidly be toxic); that "all-protein" just means that it's gluten-free (incorrect, and gluten is a protein), and that gluten-free means it doesn't have corn in it (incorrect, corn does not produce gluten), and that they were taught all of this by the pet store employees. They have also informed me that the pet store informed them that feeding their senior cat canned food would kill it, and that old cats need dry food (frequently, the exact opposite is closer to truth), and that all dogs are allergic to grain (I don't even know where to start).

Here's the truth, folks - most pet foods are, all things considered, pretty darn good. Being more expensive, or more fancy, or being labeled as holistic, or organic, or natural, does not make it better, at least once you get past the level of no-name, store-brand food. As long as it's AAFCO-certified (Association of American Feed Control Officials), it's a fully balanced diet, and likely more nutritious and balanced than anything you or I eat on a daily basis.

And just so you know, all those fancy words you pay extra for? Not that relevant. In particular, "holistic" doesn't mean anything. It's not a regulated word, when it comes to pet foods - any manufacturer can stick it on any bag of food, and that's completely legal. You're just paying for the prestige of the word, and the image it suggests.

As for food allergies, yes, some dogs are allergic to wheat, or corn. And some dogs are allergic to chicken, and some are allergic to beef, or lamb, or turkey, or soy. An animal can be allergic to any food ingredient. But wheat and corn are no more likely to be the problem than anything else. And unless your dog has allergies, putting them on a diet to treat allergies won't accomplish anything except spending more of your money. In particular, please do the world a favor and avoid putting your pet on novel protein diets like salmon or venison or bison? We use those as treatments for dogs with food allergies - we need to feed them a protein they haven't been exposed to before. And that leads to a perception, somehow, that because we use these foods to make dogs better, that the foods are better. And so people feed them to their puppies. And then, two years later when those puppies develop food allergies, they've already been exposed to all of the existing novel proteins, and we don't have anything left to feed them. Right now, we're resorting to stuff like kangaroo; I don't know what we'll use when that's no longer viable.

And for the record, you can't "cure" your dog's allergies by changing from, say, Iams to Pedigree, or Blue Buffalo to Organix. That's the functional equivalent of changing from Coke to Pepsi - they're still more or less the same thing. Your dog may digest one or the other better, and they're both perfectly good foods, but if there's an actual allergy that's not going to fix it.

Just feed your healthy pet something reasonable, and good. As long as it's not Wal-Mart brand, it's probably fine. But if you have an actual health problem to manage, and you ask my advice, and I tell you that your pet needs a (hypoallergenic/low protein/low residue/whatever) diet and recommend something in particular, please believe that I know what I'm talking about. And please do not come back to me a month later and inform me that the kid at PetSmart told you that Science Diet is poison and you should feed this $40/bag grain-free holistic diet instead, because I might just implode.


Jul. 6th, 2011 11:20 pm
ladysprite: (DiscoTurtle)
Dear So You Think You Can Dance,

This season blows.

Please start introducing some variety. I just went back and counted; this season about half of the routines for each episode have been contemporary/lyrical/jazz. We've had a grand total of 1 ballroom and 1 Latin routine each episode. I have nothing against contemporary/jazz, but it's getting repetitive and boring. Also, we have several couples that, in four episodes, have had NOTHING but contemporary/lyrical/jazz routines. Way to push them out of their comfort zones.

It wasn't always like this. Back in seasons 3 and 4, we had maybe 2 contemporary/jazz routines per episode. Now? We're four weeks in and we haven't had a single tango. Or a rumba, or a paso doble, or disco, or mambo, or krump, or swing.

The judging is a farce. They don't even bother discussing the dance; it's mostly Nigel mugging for the camera and Mary screeching or weeping. They talk about the costumes more than the motion. And the most telling thing is that even the judges can't keep the contestants straight; when your judge admits halfway through her critique that she can't even remember the girl's name, or when they praise the contestant for a routine they didn't even perform in, you know that even they're just phoning it in.

Pretty please, give us something worth watching next week? And next season, if you don't throw some more unique and varied dancers in, I am totally over this show. As it is, it was only the bribes of David Bowie and Eartha Kitt that got me through tonight's episode.

Oh - and what is it with the ball-busting man-hating, killer grrrl routines this season? It's becoming kind of boring and cliche.....

No love,


May. 23rd, 2011 11:15 pm
ladysprite: (tangy)
I do not understand how anyone who isn't independently wealthy ever manages to actually go anywhere on vacation, or do anything.

I have spent the last two hours trying to find a nice, simple, local place that [ profile] umbran and I can go for a couple of nights in July. I know that this is THE SEASON, and that places will be a little on the pricey side, but I figured I could cope with that. I had no idea.

Several people have told me that Nantucket is wonderful, and beautiful, and lovely, and delightful. For $400 a night for B&B's with no bathtubs that don't actually serve breakfast, it had better be pretty fucking awesome. Not that I'll ever find out. Because I'm not willing to pay that kind of money, even if I *could* afford it.

There has got to be SOMEWHERE in the MA/CT/VT/ME area where we can go, that's at least passably nice, that won't cost more than our entire wedding. But I'll be damned if I can find it. Because right now, our "vacation" is looking more and more like "one night at the Motel 6 in Worcester," and it's causing me more stress to hunt it down than it's going to cure by actually going.....


Apr. 19th, 2011 07:29 am
ladysprite: (tangy)
It has come to my attention that some people honestly do not know how to interact best with their pets' veterinarian. I can understand that this is a professional relationship fraught with communication challenges, and one that modern life and education doesn't always prepare you for. And since it can still be an important skill to learn, in the interests of educating the populace, I'm going to take it upon myself to offer some pointers.

So, here we are. Ladysprite's Guide To Veterinary Etiquette, Round One:

1) It is NEVER appropriate to refer to your veterinarian as Little Red Riding Hood during the office call.

2) It is also never appropriate to mention that your dog is all worked up because he "REALLY likes redheads," especially not when accompanied by what I'm assuming is your best attempt at a suggestive leer.

3) If you insist on gripping your dog between your thighs, and when I explain that I need to try to put my hand in there start laughing and trying to crack crude jokes, do not be surprised if the muzzle keeping your pet's fangs from your wobbly bits just happens to slip off.

I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I'm just going to keep reminding myself of that, today......
ladysprite: (Default)
As a person who is well and truly addicted to the written word, I am somewhat of an omnivore when it comes to books. I'm not completely indiscriminate, but I've learned better than to dismiss a book because it is, or isn't, relegated to a particular genre. In particular, at least for my current conundrum, I've learned that a lot of good stories get hidden in the YA genre, especially if they fall into the category of fantasy, SF, or supernatural fiction.

There are bad YA novels, it's true, but there's a lot of good stuff hiding in there. Charles DeLint, J.K. Rowling, Kelley Armstrong, Cassandra Claire, Diane Duane... all good. They write stories worth reading, with decent plots and interesting characters, and they don't condescend to the reader just because they might not have finished high school yet.

So I've read more than my fair share of YA novels, both as a young adult and as a technically adult adult. And unfortunately, more and more often lately, I'm running into one particular problem. Since most of the books I'm reading tend to be fantasy/supernatural fiction, there's always a push to make the conflict be Epic, with the villain being World-Shatteringly Evil. And since the protagonists are young adults, the writers also seem to feel a need to make the villain be a young adult, as well - or, if not, to give the Big Bad a young apprentice villain. The end result is the Young Adult Villain of Epic Evil, a character usually between the ages of 15-20 who has been corrupted to the Dark Side and is now supposed to be the walking, talking epitome of everything bad, corrupt, twisted, and wrong in the world.

And, without fail, these unspeakably dark, evil, horrifying monsters display their malevolence by some combination of dyeing their hair, dressing in slutty clothes (lingerie or Catholic school uniforms for girls, leather jackets for boys), eating junk food (specifically bacon cheeseburgers, Froot Loops, or lollipops), occasionally skipping classes, and pulling heinous pranks like forging fake names on check-in sheets, crashing birthday parties, and, if they're REALLY malevolent, breaking a window or making the prom queen's dress tear so her underwear shows.

That's it. That's the epic, world-destroying evil. And I can't describe how many ways this frustrates, disappoints, and offends me.

Okay. For one thing, are those really, truly, the most evil things the writers can think of? For real? These aren't episodes of The Brady Bunch I'm talking about; these are supposedly epic stories. Get an imagination. For another thing, even if you can think of more evil things, is it that you think teens can't handle anything more scary and threatening than that? They get scarier scenarios on the news, and in their own classrooms. If your Supervillain of Epic Evil can't muster up the badassitude to at least cause a little actual harm and fear, not only does it devalue your story, it makes your heroes look pretty pathetic when they cower in terror at the villain's name.

Lastly, though, and most importantly (to me, at least)... do we want to be sending teenagers the message that being a mischievous non-conformist is sign that you're evil? I find that both depressing and terrifying - these kids are smart enough and curious enough to pick up a book; odds are they're going to be identifying, at least in part, with the misfit characters. And to show that, whenever a character turns to evil they always come back in the next chapter with pink hair, a tight t-shirt, and a penchant for delivering comeuppance to their oppressors.... that's not evil, that's just every dweeb's secret dream. Telling them that they're evil for wanting this, or for acting this way, is an epic disservice.

There's the argument that writers may not want to portray teenagers committing major acts of evil, but in that case, don't make your villain a teenager. Make them a monster, or a force of nature, or an adult, or something else that you can foist all that villainy onto. Or, you know, just grow a pair and have an evil teenager. I'm not necessarily talking about 'Apt Pupil' levels of atrocity (though I read that as a teenager and somehow survived), but at least let them be as evil, say, as people in the real world. I know, for me, growing up and reading stories like that, encountering truly villainous villains didn't scar me or break me or disturb me - it gave me the reassurance that there was bad stuff out there in the world, just like my own experiences had shown me, maybe worse, and that, at least in stories, heroes could be strong enough to overpower that bad stuff.

Please, YA writers. Give kids credit for being able to handle stories that don't wrap them in cotton padding, dumb down the villains, and tell them they're evil for wanting to act out.

And if you'll excuse me, I feel the overwhelming need to go reread 'Deep Wizardry' now....
ladysprite: (DiscoTurtle)
Dear Pussycat Dolls,

Adding a feather boa and a vinyl corset to the same porny moves you always do does not make them 'Burlesque.' While I am no expert, I can honestly say that I have never seen anyone in a decent burlesque performance bite their finger, slap their backside, or straddle a boa and rock back and forth on it while shaking their ponytails.

Your workout is actually.... hm. I can't say it's not half bad, but it's at least not three-quarters bad. But putting a pair of wings and some deelyboppers on a cow doesn't make it a butterfly, and similarly, putting accessories on a pole dancer does not make her a burlesque artist. Just... call it the Pussycat Dolls Ho Down Workout, and I'd be a lot happier.


P.S. Why the hell am I biting my finger in a workout? I'm pretty sure that doesn't actually burn any calories....

In related news, does anybody want a copy of the Pussycat Dolls Workout DVD?
ladysprite: (MoarCat)
So I know that most of y'all reading this aren't veterinarians - but I'm going to fill you in on Basic Veterinary Medicine 101: Dogs and cats are not humans. I'll even go so far as to teach you the secrets of Veterinary Medicine 201 - Dogs and cats are not interchangeable, either.

If you have a pet, and you decide that you want to give it some sort of human medication, ASK YOUR VET FIRST. Because dogs and cats are not humans. I don't care if you take it every day and it's perfectly safe for you. I don't care if your grandmother gave it to her dog for a year and it seemed fine. I don't care if you googled it and the internets said it was okay. I don't care if your cousin's roommate said it would be safe, unless your cousin's roommate is also your veterinarian. I don't care if your dog took it so now you want to give it to your cat - dogs and cats are not interchangeable, and what's safe for one can kill the other.

Seriously. If you can be bothered to give the medicine, you can take the time to pick up your phone and call your vet and ask if it's okay to give your puppy a percocet, or give your cat benadryl, or whatever else tickles your fancy. We won't get mad at you for asking, I promise. And we will happily tell you that yes, that's perfectly safe and here's the dose, or no, please don't, that would be fatal.

And that's the other reason to ask - because (say it with me) dogs and cats are not humans, even if the medicine is safe, the dose may not be what you expect. Sometimes the safe and effective dose is much lower than you would think; sometimes it's much higher. We go to school for this stuff. Let us help you, please.

And if, by some chance, you ignore this and go ahead and give your pet your medicine, TELL US. This has come up half a dozen times in the past week, but the appropriate response to possible toxin ingestion is not "let's wait and see if they start acting sick."

Poison in real life doesn't work like it does on TV. They don't clutch their throats, gag, fall down, and then have a safe window where you can research the antidote. For most toxic substances, by the time symptoms show up (which can be anywhere from an hour to a month later), it's too late to do anything but support the patient and try to do damage control. It's a lot easier to prevent damage than to repair damage, and in order to do that we need to see them as soon as possible after the ingestion.

I know it's weird. With most illnesses and health problems, we're used to having to wait until the signs show up to treat it. But with toxins, we actually have the chance to prevent damage. If we get at the patient soon enough, we can figure out the best way to get the bad stuff out of their system - sometimes that involves making them throw up, sometimes it involves giving them antidotes or binders that will keep the toxin from being absorbed, sometimes it just means flushing their system with fluids, but we can usually do SOMETHING.

So. Don't give your pet human medicine. And if you do, tell us. And if you tell us, tell us sooner rather than later. Please. I will thank you, your vet will thank you, your pet will be alive to thank you.

(Oh. And if you have a pet, keep this number around: 888-426-4435. That's Animal Poison Control. Call your vet first, if they're open, because there's a $65 consultation fee for calling APC. But if your vet's not open, or in a serious emergency, these guys save lives.)
ladysprite: (Default)
I love urban fantasy. It's my genre of choice, and I've been a fan of it since well before it was trendy. It has its flaws, all genres do, but for the most part I can handwave past them to appreciate the story and the world and the characters.

There's one plot hole, though, that I'm running into more and more often, that I just can't get past. It's one of the only things nearly guaranteed to get me to shout, shake my fist in the air, and put the book in Time Out for being bad. And given that more and more of my friends are taking up writing in general and urban fantasy in particular, I need to put out a plea to them, and to all authors, to please never ever ever use this idea.

Killing vampires with bullets made of anticoagulant is Just. Plain. Stupid.

The logic starts with 'well, vampires have blood in them.' Yep. You know what else has blood in them? People. Also chickens, and iguanas, and cattle, and bunny rabbits, and werewolves, and anything else in the vertebrate category. We don't shoot them with anticoagulants.

I've seen settings where the logic chain follows to '...and blood has COAGULANT! And coagulant plus anticoagulant - it's like matter and antimatter! They'll explode on contact! Boom, vampire bits everywhere!'

If this were true, my job would be a lot more interesting, given that I need to store blood in tubes with anticoagulant every time I test a dog for heartworm. All anticoagulant does is keep blood from clotting.

Other authors just stick with the basic logic, figuring that should be enough. Vampires are full of blood; if you shoot them with anticoagulant all that blood will leak out, right?

There's just one problem with that. They *drink* blood. So the worst you could do would be shoot them in the stomach and have their lunch leak out, leaving them hungry. Even if you shot them in the femoral artery, they're dead. Their hearts don't pump, and the blood in their veins doesn't circulate. They can't bleed to death, even if the blood doesn't clot. Everything above the wound may pour out, but everything below will just sit there - and again, why would bleeding damage a dead thing?

This just leaves the explanation of sympathetic magic. Vampires are all about blood, and coagulant is all about... um.... blood. And I'd even accept that, if the authors presented it that way. But it's always couched in terms of science, where it boils down to complete and utter malarky. It's about as logical and scientific as saying, 'Oh no, an attack cow! Cows are full of milk! Quick, shoot it with lactaid! Lactaid breaks down milk proteins!'

'Oh no, a zombie! Zombies eat brains! Shoot it with prozac!'

'Oh, no - attack vegetarians! Shoot them with Beano!'

Please, authors. Just use wood-tipped bullets and call it magic. You're writing fantasy, it's okay to do that. That's why it's called fantasy.
ladysprite: (MoarCat)
Dear Clients,

In our conversations recently, I have come across some incidences of confusion that I would like to clear up:

Distemper is a nasty, unpleasant viral infection that causes often fatal disease in dogs and ferrets.
Temperament is your dog's personality and behavior.
I cannot give your dog a temperament shot; as much as it would be awesome. Controlling that is all your responsibility, sweetums, though I'd be glad to give you some advice on training and behavior.

Spay is the colloquial name for surgical sterilization of female animals.
Spade is a garden implement.
If you want your dog to be spaded, please do not tell me; I will need to report that as animal cruelty.

Lyme is a city in Connecticut. It is also the common name for a tick-borne bacterial infection, originally found most commonly in and around that area.
Limes are a citrus fruit.
You do not want your dog to get a Limes vaccine. It will sting a lot, and not actually produce useful immunity to anything.

Eukanuba is the name of a popular brand of dog food.
Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging.
When I ask you what you feed your dog, I seriously doubt that the latter is the correct answer. If it is, I suggest making a change. Not only are many flowers toxic, but most high-end dog foods are expensive enough without adding aesthetically placed irises and cherry blossoms.

Hip Dysplasia is a common (but not universal) disorder in large and giant-breed dogs, involving abnormalities of the hip joint, that leads to arthritis and pain over time.
Hip Displeasure is what I get when I try to pull on my jeans after they just came out of the laundry and don't want to fit over my backside.
If you think your dog has hip displeasure, get him some bigger jeans. Or better yet, don't make him wear pants.

Anal Glands are two small sacs inside your pets backside. Their only purpose is to produce foul-smelling gunk and occasionally get infected, requiring someone to empty them out. My job is so glamorous.
Annual Glands, as far as I can tell, are a small subset of the pituitary that, once a year, make people say meaningless things in front of medical professionals.
I will not check your dog's annual glands. Dogs cannot talk. I may suggest getting yours evaluated, though.

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the mucus membrane covering the white part of your eye.
Junkyitis is a made-up bullshit word, but if I had to come up with the closest Latin derivative, it would be inflammation of the junk.
If your pet has inflamed junk, I honestly really don't want to know. One of the joys of being a general practitioner is that I get to refer cases like that.

That's all.

Thank you!



ladysprite: (Default)

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