Saturday, August 05, 2006

Reinforcing Bad Behavior vs. Getting Your Job Done

Working in an animal hospital can get a little noisy at times. It can get pretty stinky too, but this post is more about the noise factor.

There was a sick little puppy in to see us today, and she was so terrified of being in her kennel that she screamed and screeched and whined from the second we shut the kennel door. We tried moving her to a front kennel so she could see us, we tried moving her to a back kennel so she could see the other dogs, we tried draping a towel over the kennel so she couldn't see anything, but nothing calmed her down.

It soon got to the point that my coworkers and I had to yell over her in order to hear each other, and it got very difficult to get anything done. I went over to the kennel, picked up the terrified puppy, and took her to my computer with me. She was immediately quiet. She spent the next half hour on my shoulder while I worked on my patient notes at the computer.

Even though I probably just taught her to scream and howl until someone pays attention to her, even if it takes an hour, it was nice to have a break and let everyone's headaches die down. It was also a good lesson in the skill that is valuable in any place of business:

mul·ti·task·ing (mŭl'tē-tăs'kĭng, -tī-) n.
The concurrent operation by one central processing unit of two or more processes.

multitask mul'ti·task' v.

(Come on, didn't the picture make you smile, just a little?)

Lesson for today: Do NOT try to stare down a monkey

So, not long ago I was at a local national park and happened upon one of the ever-present Rhesus macaques (the most common monkeys you’ll see on a visit to India--not the kind in this picture), who was clearly looking for a little somethin’-somethin’. I had no food but was feeling cocky and decided to do what a primatologist friend explicitly warned me NOT to do—stare down a monkey. At first he was surprised that I was making direct eye contact and (after about 5 seconds) starting to get a little pissy (flashing his teeth). Although I kept a blank expression, he started going bonkers and made some aggressive attack gestures and howled for his friends and hissed and whatnot. Then I bared my teeth a couple of times and he went apoplectic. I think that if I’d not broken it off, he’d have actually summoned the courage (I’m a big, ugly guy) to attack. Moral of the story: don’t do that.

Sometimes I demonstrate remarkable amounts of

heb•e•tude (hĕb'ĭ-tūd', -tyūd')
Dullness of mind; mental lethargy.

[Late Latin hebetūdō, from Latin hebes, hebet-, dull.]
hebetudinous heb'e•tu'di•nous (-tūd'n-əs, -tyūd'-) adj.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Love Papers

I run across them in drawers. I find them in boxes. I meet them stashed everywhere. They are the oldest's gift-drawings, which he gives to those he loves. We who love him back cannot bear to part with them, so we tuck them away, and then smile again when we come across them months or years later.

1. A hiding place used especially for storing provisions.
2. A place for concealment and safekeeping, as of valuables.
3. A store of goods or valuables concealed in a hiding place.
4. Computer Science. A fast storage buffer in the central processing unit of a computer.
[French, from cacher, to hide, from Old French, to press, hide, from Vulgar Latin *coācticāre, to store, pack together, frequentative of Latin coāctāre, to constrain, from coāctus, past participle of cōgere, to force.]
"cache." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 05 Aug. 2006.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Death and Life Hold Hands

As one life ends another life begins...

begin v
Definition: come into being; become functional
Antonyms: die, end

And I am no more prepared for this than anyone...

Antonyms information about begin
© 1999-2006 by Answers Corporation. All rights reserved.

. . . Let's call the whole thing off.

Most people think I'm a "bad driver." I don't agree, but yesterday was one of those days that make those accusations difficult to refute. I was in a big hurry to get somewhere (as usual) and I took a corner too fast. There was a very high, sharp curb, and, as I turned the corner, it literally JUMPED out and ATTACKED my front driver's side tire! I've never seen anything quite like it. My poor little tire was mangled. I keep telling people "I got a flat" but really, my boyfriend (who changed my tire in the extreme heat) insists I "caused a flat." Whatever.

"You say tomato, I say to-MAH-to"
Shall We Dance?, film score
Date: 1937
Main Performer: George Gershwin
Genre: Film
Period: Modern (1870-)
The film starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" ("You say tomato, I say to-MAH-to") was originally paired with a sequence in which Astaire and Rogers dance on roller skates.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Road

My father died early yesterday morning just after I arrived back at the hospital. I spent the rest of the day making arrangements, calling relatives, choosing hymns.

This afternoon I wanted some quiet time, so I got in my car, cranked the air conditioning, and headed for my favorite road. I love my road. The trees shade a long stretch of it, as they are mature enough to almost meet high above the center of the road. The trees are as stately as columns, due in large part to their having been planted

The same distance apart at every point.
"equidistant." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 03 Aug. 2006.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Language at the End

1. Of, at, relating to, or forming a limit, boundary, extremity, or end.
2. Botany. Growing or appearing at the end of a stem, branch, stalk, or similar part.
3. Of, at, relating to, or being the end of a section or series; final.
4. Relating to or occurring in a term or each term.
5. Causing, ending in, or approaching death; fatal.
[Middle English, from Latin terminālis, from terminus, boundary.]
"terminal." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 31 Jul. 2006.

1. Tending or serving to palliate.
2. Relieving or soothing the symptoms of a disease or disorder without effecting a cure.
"palliative." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 31 Jul. 2006.