But Professor, my Parrot Ate my Homework! I Swear!

Erin, saying enough studying!

Here is my wonderful little Erin attempting to kill my study attempts.  She says enough biology!  I’m cuter!  This could possibly be the reason I always seem behind on things.  But how could I say no to a face like that?  Aside from trying to shred my homework (which I’ll have you know, she never shreds any of her shredding toys, just my homework), she also tries to take my pen or pencil out of my hand, throws my pictures on my desk around or knocks them over, and tries to chew on my computer cords.  Bad, bad birdie!

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The Dreaded Finals Week!

Finals week.  

The reason I have been  missing in action.  The reason my room is a mess.  The reason I haven’t called my mother and the reason my boyfriend sees me only once a day.

Finals week is by far the worst week out of my life.  I am a horrible finals week tester.  For some reason, even though my focus is unyielding throughout the entire semester and I can put my nose to the grind stone, finals week brings out the worst in me.  At the time that I need to be studying hard, understanding concepts, and making a huge dent in my pile of homework, I find myself struggling to even sit at my desk and absorb anything.  It’s like my learning button has turned off in my head.  

Lets face it:  I’m burnt out.  

I’ve discovered that most students take finals week as a get out of jail for free card on all of their behavior.  They try to make up for lost time by sitting in the library for hours, making it impossible for all the usual library dwellers to get a seat, they consume an unusually high level of Starbucks, and they invert their sleeping habits from studying during the day and sleeping at night to sleeping during the day and studying at night, a phenomenon I just can’t understand.  Still, even though it is finals week, I go to sleep at night and just put in the extra hours of studying during the day, when I would usually be hanging out with Lance or doing some other homework or club related activity.  My sleep doesn’t suffer.

However, my focus does.  I only have six more days until this whole semester is done and over with, and its like I can’t even convince myself to push out the last few days.  My body has said enough is enough and my brain is shutting down.  Not good.  I totally don’t understand two of the major concepts in Organic Chemistry at all, and I still need to read two chapters for Cellular and Molecular Biology.   And that’s not even getting into my biostats class or my online geography final.  

 I’m hoping tomorrow I can really bust my butt on some of this stuff.  It’s so important that I do well, but it’s like I’m just shutting down.  So frustrating.  My will wants to go but my mind keeps saying no lol.  It’s on vacation already.

I think my body is also depressed because I turn 21 on the 12th and what do I get for my birthday?  A final!  And a final the day after!  Oh goodie!

So, that is why I haven’t written in a while.   I will be back after December 13th.

Gahhhhhhhh.

Next Semesters Classes!

I’m really excited for my coursework next semester!  

I have Organic Chemistry 2 plus a lab, which I could do without, but don’t bother me.  After General Chemistry, I will take anything else happily!

I also am taking Genetics, which is really exciting.  I love trying to figure out why things look the way they do, and how traits are passed on and what not.  For a really cool little test on what color your future children may have, try this neat link.  Lance and I a 50% chance of having blue eyed children and a 50% chance of having green eyed children.

I am also taking Bio Seminar, which is just a lecture that happens once a week on different topics by different speakers from places other than Duquesne.

I’m finishing up my last university core, Faith and Reason, which my roommate is in now and said is a discussion based class on religions and cultures.

I’m still doing research on the Tiger Ranch cats with Dr. Morrow.

And, the one I’m most excited about, I’m taking Animal Behavior!!! I’ve been wanting to take Animal Behavior since I came to Duquesne, so I’m really pumped.

Oh, and biostats 2.  But I’m not so excited about that lol.

The Major Snob Gets her Hand Smacked

I will admit it right now.  I am a huge major snob.  If you have no idea, a major snob is the typical college student who believes that their major is either better or harder than any other major on campus.  And I may be one of the biggest major snobs on the whole campus.  

Before you read further, if you are going to be highly offended by me talking about my major, believing being a science major is tougher than virtually any other major, or are going to go into a chronic rage about me belittling the work involved in other majors, do yourself a favor and go read a different post.  I’ve never said being a major snob is a good thing, but I also never claimed to be perfect.

So, I am a major snob.  I believe being a science major is rougher than most other majors.  Why?  The amount of time and effort I put into my homework and studying is unbelievable.  Most of my science classes are based off of four equally impossibly hard tests.  Getting extra points that might help bolster your grade is hard.  The tests are detailed and tricky, and it always seems like the material you are most uncomfortable with makes up the bulk of the exam.  Not to mention that science throws the distribution of credits per hour to the wind.  Science majors are forced to take labs, which are usually worth one credit.  However, that is one painful credit.  Lab’s usually last about 3 hrs, and writing the lab report and doing the equations afterwords usually takes even longer.  All for one lousy credit.  And I think my least favorite thing about being a science major is you never know when you are done with your work.

 For example, my education major friend often has to write a paper, come up with a project outline, and on some odd days make a puppet or something else creative like that.  I, however, have to study for an upcoming tests.  So, she writes her paper, makes her puppet, and draws up a project outline and she knows shes caught up.  However, how exactly do I measure when I am done studying?  Is it when I memorize everything on the page?  Is it when my head explodes from thinking?  Is it when I get done with a chapter?  And no matter what choice you make, you always feel guilty making it.  It’s always the wrong one.

So, the other day I posted an annoyed status about being a science major.  It sounded something like this: “I’ve come to the conclusion that I am a huge major snob.  If you’re not a science major, you’re weak”.  I’m not one to complain on facebook, but I had just gotten done pounding my head with cellular and molecular biology, redrawing diagrams, and learning all about how the effector acetylene cyclase forms cAMP from ATP, which then goes on to activate protein kinase A and so on and so forth.  I had a moment of weakness, I was bitter that other people were outside enjoying the nice day, and I posted a crabby status.  No big deal.  People complain on facebook all the time.

The response I got from that simple post was overwhelming.  People telling me to walk in their shoes.  People telling me I had no idea what it was like to take 18 credits and work a job.  People telling me their major is so misunderstood.

This would be a good point to verify that I work two jobs, take 18 credits, do undergraduate research, run and manage the AWC, shadow, and volunteer.  I feel the pain.  

Like typical Hannah, I didn’t back down.  I fought my case, refused to budge, ticked everyone off, and had someone defriend me in the process.  It was absolutely amazing to me.

I think the funniest part of the whole thing was that none of the people who are my friends now wrote or posted anything.  It was all people I went to high school with and haven’t talked to in three years.  I couldn’t believe that these people who had no clue what I go through on a daily basis, and who don’t really even know me or how I operate would have the nerve to attack me specifically to defend their majors.  It was incredible.  One girl even compared my comment to posting ‘Hail Hitler’ on my facebook.  When I posted it, I really didn’t think it was quite that serious.

Honestly, I have no problem with what career people decide to pick.  I mean, we need teachers, business people, journalists and writers, and what ever else in the world.  It takes all sorts to make a world.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t whine and complain about the amount of work I have to do in my own course study.

At least I learned there are three things to never discuss with people; politics, religion, and what major is best.

The AWC Gets Some Kitty Love While Giving Back to the Animals

Last weekend, I took my Animal Welfare Club to Frankie’s Friends to help volunteer at a cat rescue!

For those of  you who do not know, Frankie’s Friends is a cat sanctuary and organization that focus’ on helping feral cats, cats from abuse cases, and stray cats.  It  has a mobile surgery unit for traveling places TNR events, and it also houses all of the survivors of the Tiger Ranch case.  So, for our service project this month we went to Frankie’s Friends for the day to cuddle cats and help repaint some of the darker rooms and give them a warmer and homier touch.

Frankie’s Friends is like kitty Disney World.  These cats have a huge, three story house to roam through, their own sun room, loft beds, their own live in vet tech, a safe outdoor cat porch and gazebo with little cat doors leading in and out, and all the toys, scratching posts, and kitty beds they could ever want.  Many of the cats have chronic health problems and will have to be monitored for veterinary care, so living at Frankie’s Friends with all their kitty friends is the best option for them.

These are probably the sweetest cats I’ve ever met.  I must admit, before I started working with Dr. Morrow, I wasn’t a huge cat person.  They were probably one of my least favorite animals to own as a pet.  However, now I really see what wonderful animals they can be!  The FF cats are amazing.  They’re at the door as soon as you walk in, and you are surrounded by a sea of cats.  They’re all purring and rubbing up against you, and some get saucy and try to bat their friends away so they get more petting.  They don’t mind being picked up and cuddled or toted around the house with you.  Trying to motivate my members to actually leave the cats alone and paint the walls was a little challenging, but once we got started they were all game for the work.  

It was amazing how quickly the rooms came together when we all started working together on them.  We painted one room a pale yellow, which totally transformed the room, and we painted the loft room lavender with white trim.  It was so cute!  

That cats did not appreciate being banished to the upstairs loft for the day, as we tried to cut down on the amount of cat hair we got on the walls and paw prints on the floor.  Orion, one of the older members of the sanctuary, sat downstairs to oversee our work, but everyone else wasn’t very happy. Being that they are color blind, I’m sure they didn’t see a point.  But the house looks a lot better now.  

I love rescue animals.  I love everything about rescues, but I think most of all I love knowing that I helped make a difference for an animal who couldn’t.  Let’s face it, animals don’t have voices.  We have to speak for them.  Without dedicated people in the world who take the time to speak for the animals, their lives would be nothing more than an existence that always ended in abuse or neglect.  One thing I see in my members, and I’m sure this sounds totally cheesy, is hope for animals.  There’s a slow shift in the relationship between humans and animals.  Eventually, we are going to look at ourselves as the protectors of the animals and the providers, instead of looking at them as though they are here to please us.  My AWC  members remind me on a daily basis that there is hope, and there are people out there who want to help, and who want to make a difference.  That’s why education about animals, animal abuse, and animal health is so important.  The government does not fund a free program to teach people about pets in high school. They’re not part of our curriculum.  We need active and dedicated people to spread the message and educate people about those who can’t educate them themselves.  Everyday, the animals make me sure that this is what I want to do with my life, and everyday, my AWC members remind me that there are people who care, just like me, who want to be a part of the movement.

The AWC Visits the National Aviary!

For our first off campus animal experience of the year, I like to take our new Animal Welfare Club members to visit the National Aviary.  Its close, its affordable, its highly educational, and the aviary does a terrific job of getting all my members interested and involved with the animals.  I like that everyone gets their hands on a bird.  Theres no better way to get people interested than to let them actually interact with them.

So, on Saturday we all met and hiked over to the North Side.  My mom and my sister were recruited into our group due to our sudden drop in numbers, so they met us and walked over with us.  I like making everyone walk because it saves money, saves gas, and lets everyone get a chance to walk through the city and see everything as well as talk to each other.  And soon we were there!!

I rushed everyone to the first feeding, as I usually do, because I like getting everyone involved as fast as possible.  I find that when I suggest the aviary, I get a lot of deep sighs and dragged feet.  Unfortunately, its usually overshadowed by the much more well known Pittsburgh Zoo.  However, once I get everyone there and get them all going, they seem to enjoy it a lot more.  Even though the zoo has more animals, the aviary definately has more interactive possibilities.  Here are some my members feeding some rainforest birds!

We then rushed to get in line to feed the lories.  Feeding the lories is probably my favorite thing, because it means I get to get my picture taken with exotic birds on me!  Even after owning my own parrots, I still feel like a little kid at Christmas when all the Bella sized colorful parrots begin flocking to me.  I think it has something pyschologically to do with the idea that ‘they like me! they like me!’, not just ‘they want the nector’.

Everyone had some time to roam and explore before we took our Training 101 class.  I was super excited about taking a bird related class because, well, I’m a weirdo.  I very much so enjoyed the class, and learned a lot that I feel will help me when I’m trying to train stubborn Bella.  I have yet to find something that will motivate that conure.  We also got to meet the beautiful Gonzo, a yellow naped amazon, who was hilarious.  She reminded me of another little green bird that likes to growl and make her handler a liar. . . We also played a game where we made Chris be a bird that we had to train.  Here we are trying to train Chris to do jumping jacks.

After our class, we followed our instructor over for the Wings! show.  I had to choose between Wings and the skydeck, and even though I’ve never seen the skydeck and I know Lance was furious at me for not choosing the skydeck, I felt like Wings was more general for all of our members and would be a good ambassador to the bird world.  As I predicted, everyone was amazed and most of my members flooded the stage to donate money to saving the birds.

For the first trip of the year, it was a great start!  I think all my members who went enjoyed themselves and I think they are all excited for the rest of the year and the things we have coming!

The AWC

I’m pretty sure I’ve never posted about the AWC before, which is quite frankly a damn shame.  It’s about time I let the world know about my creation.  AWC is short for animal welfare club.  Duquesne University’s animal welfare club to be precise. 

Let me start this off by saying that Duquesne University is not a very animal oriented college.  In fact, although we may rank as one of the top universities in the country for volunteer service, as a student I have noticed that not many people are really concerned with anything important.  I love my college and I wouldn’t change my choice for the world, but Duquesne gains its massive amounts of service hours through requirements in majors like pharmacy and service learning classes.  AKA the students are required.  There are a fair number of people who genuinely are concerned with issues like fair trade, the environment, and human and animal rights, but there are also a large amount of the population who cares only about themselves, the latest fashion, and everything else that doesn’t matter. 

So, when I started here I realized there wasn’t anything animal oriented, except for the equestrian team, which required far too much money for me to afford.  I was frustrated, I didn’t have any friends, and I missed all my pets from home.  So, I did what any well intending college student would do and I started my own!

The Animal Welfare Club comes from rough beginnings.  It took us a whole semester to get approved by the SGA, we met on the couches outside of the union Nitespot and when we finally were approved, we had really no clue what to do.  Last year, we totalled 8 members.  This year, we’re averaging around 30 at each meeting.  That’s a big jump. 

My members come from all different majors and all different backgrounds.  We meet in a large classroom and try to plan out what all we would like to do for the rest of the year.  This year so far has been slow, but gradually we are putting the pieces together to build it into something great.   My 8 members from last year have all been upgraded to committee members who help me plan everything that needs done.  Between all the paperwork, red tape, and planning, it is a full-time job to be a club president.

For this year, we are planning on doing advocacy tables monthly, going to a shelter or other animal attraction at least once a month, and hopefully helping out with some different shelter events.  I’m trying to ease my members into the scary world of reptiles and birds and expose them to more exotics.  Most of these kids have only had cats or dogs in their lives!  We’re also starting to work towards endangered species instead of just pet type animals.  It’s a slow but steady process trying to plan everything.  However, hopefully soon the AWC will grow into something great!  And from now on, I have to remember to post about it!  It’s definately a big part of my path to become a vet!

The Statistics of My Life

As a blogger, I have the right to a captive audience.  Therefore, as a blogger, I have the right to whine.  Today, I feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of pressure I have on myself.  I’m also taking a stats class, so I started wondering about the probability of finding someone who is anything like me.  So, today I’m making an equation out of my life.  Its probably not going to be very accurate (math isn’t my strong point!) but it will be enlightening all the same.

So, as I’m sure you already know, I am a biology pre-veterinary major.  That right there throws an enormous amount of pressure on a person.  Everyday, every grade directly effects what happens for the rest of your life.  One wrong move and you have no future.  Sometimes, I think of myself and I just want to laugh.  There are plenty of people who would just be happy going to school, even a community college.  There are people who would just like to go to Duquesne.  There are people who would just be happy to get a college degree.  There are people who would be happy to just pass a class.  And there are people who would be happy to just pass a test.  And here I am exhausting myself over every little tiny detail, every point, and breaking down when I am not veritably perfect.

Its hard. 

Everyday I face the very real possibilty that I may never become a vet.  I also have everyone expecting veritable perfection out of me, so when I fail, I not only am screwing myself, but I am dissappointing everyone close to me.  And in all actuality, I am not at all “enjoying” the college experience.  I enjoy learning, and I enjoy growing and marking off things in my planner or off my to do list, but I essentially have no life.  I don’t go out, I don’t do anything, I take no time for myself, and I spend the majority of my college experience in a majorly stressed out state.

Anyways, for the statistics part:

  • Percentage of white americans that graduate from high school: 94.8% or .948
  • Percentage of high school graduates who attend college: 68.1% or .681
  • Percentage of first in family college students at Duquesne University: 47.0% or .470
  • Percentage of students who pay their own way through college: 42% or .42 (keep in mind, this includes community college figures.  I highly doubt there are this many Duquesne students doing this)

Right now, I can’t find the statistics for how many people want to go to vet school, how many people got into vet school, or what percent is now a practiciting vet.  But currently, my statistical number is .1277.  There is a 12% chance of finding someone as crazy as me with just those figures.  I’m sure factoring in vet school and starting a club and working multiple jobs and so on and so forth would drop that even lower.

But, I have to get back to my tortur. . I mean work.

 

 

 

 

Erin Gets an Education

I don’t know what about this year has made me miss my birds more than last year, but I most definately have hit a rut when it comes to pet sickness.  So I decided that Erin would be joining me this semester. 

A lot of other apartment dwellers have pets, so why couldn’t I?  I know of people who have snakes, mice, toads, hamsters, lizards, turtles, and even some brave people who I know have snuck cats into ‘no pet’ apartments and dorms.  So, I decided to it a try.

I feel like most buildings ban animals because they don’t want the mess, don’t want the noise, and don’t want the potential for a small animal like a snake or hamster to escape, die in a wall, and stink up the place.  However, little Erin doesn’t have any of those problems.   She’s quiet, clean, cannot escape her cage, and absolutely loves all her new found attention from my roommates.    I feel like giving her a change where she lives as an only bird for a while will help her to overcome her featherplucking.  I think that having her around will also help manage the stress and depression that goes a long with getting a higher education.  It’s a proven fact that people who have animals generally live longer, more fulfilling lives, have less high blood pressure, and less stress related issues.  Which is a good thing because I live with Pharmacy majors lol. 

I’ve often thought Erin would make a terrific little ‘therapy bird’.  I’ve never heard of an actual therapy bird before, mostly because parrots don’t like strangers and have the ability to remove a finger, but I think Erin would be a good one!  She’s very gentle and sweet and forgiving and trusts anyone.  I often call her my birdy ambassador and always hand her to the people who have never handled a bird before or who think badly of birds.  She always makes a great first impression or changes their minds.

Trap, Neuter, Release

As a pre-vet major, I really like to things lose their manhood’s. 

I’m sure you’re well aware, there’s just far too many unwanted animals in the world.  And although I am usually an avian type of person, I am first and foremost an animal person.  One of the biggest problems animal activists face is trying to diminish the amount of unwanted animals in the world without destroying the animals that are living.  I mean, try walking through a shelter and picking out the animals that have to die, just because there are too many of them.  Do you pick three brown ones, because there are two other brown ones in there already?  Or do you pick the older ones, just because they’re 4 and not 2?  Do you pick the ones that have been there the longest just because they don’t seem to go, or do you pick the ones that seem new and afraid, because they might never warm up?  So, the best solution to this issue without having to play eenie meanie miney moe is to stop breeding!  Spay and neuter!!!

One issue that has been on the rise in recent years is the feral cat colonies.  Heres what happens: some genius can’t get rid of the kittens he let his cat have, so he tosses them into the streets.  The kittens wander around until they find a nice porch to live under and someone feels bad for them and starts putting out food.  Now the kittens have a stable food source and grow into cats.   The person who feeds them doesn’t want to take responsibility for them.  After all, they never wanted a cat.  They were just being a good person and feeding a stray animal.  Now the cats begin to have kittens.  And the kittens grow into cats and have kittens.  The longer the cycle goes on, the wilder the animals become.  Feral cats are not pets anymore!  They’re wild animals!

These colonies can very quickly become overrun, and then the people don’t want them there anymore.  Feral cats peeing in their kids sandboxes, cats getting into their trash, ect ect.  They want them gone.  So, they either leave them go, or start shooting them.  Some system we have here.

Animal activists have created another system that amazing works more efficiently than the original genius’.  It’s called Trap, Neuter, Release.  Essentially, a team of volunteers traps the feral cats, knocks them out, spays or neuters them, and releases them back to their original colony location.  This way, they cannot produce anymore kittens, stay out of more fights, stop the spread of some diseases, and can live out their life as a wild animal that is no longer contributing to the growing population.  While the cats are under anesthesia, they also test for deadly diseases, vaccinate for rabies, apply flea and tick protection, worm the cats, remove any mats and brush them, check them for any immediate medical problems like rotten teeth or open wounds, and tip the cats left ear so they know if they catch them again that they were already spayed or neutered.  All the cats are given a dose of long-lasting antibiotic to prevent infections, .

I had the privilege of working with Dr. Morrow at a TNR event this past weekend.  They spayed and neutered over 70 cats in one day between two vets, which is huge.  They also removed teeth, provided wound care, and administered many doses of the rabies vaccine.  Of course, you can’t always save them all.  Feral cat colonies are known to be highly inbred and can easily become overrun with highly contagious diseases.  Two cats tested positive for fatal diseases like Feline leukemia and FLV and were euthanized to avoid further infecting their colony and to alleviate their inevitable long, drawn out death.  Another cat was so skinny due to severe mouth ulcers because he couldn’t eat and was euthanized as well.  They did it all while that cats were under anesthesia so they wouldn’t have to feel anything. 

It was such an inspiring day.  It was so great to be a part of something that had such a good cause and to see that all the cats would get to live out their lives without causing more of a problem.  If anyone is interested in helping with the feral cat population, I would highly recommend looking for your local animal welfare organizations and trying to get involved in a TNR event.  And remember, please spay and neuter!!!