Saturday, May 5, 2007

A Great Learning Experience

I have always felt that writing wasn't my strongest suit. My mother always said that I was a good writer, but I felt part of that was just encouragement for me. In taking this class I have been able to realize some of the problems I have with writing, and been able to improve on them slightly. I also feel that my attitude, and approach to writing has changed quite a bit too.

One problem I've always had, and still do, is organizing my thoughts. I tend to jump around a lot in my writing. An example of this, from some of my earlier writing is as follows:
"The main tool bar lets you search by ailment. There is also a search bar to just type in what you're looking for. And, like other websites, it has hyperlinks to different areas; and a subtle background to make it easier to read. Also, it has a lot of ads, and who can have a website with out ads?" (A Well Rounded Website) This is a lot of information to cram into four sentences. I didn't take much time to explain one point before I jumped to my next thought. This can lead to much confusion in the reader.

I do feel that I still have some trouble with organizing my thoughts, but it has improved a lot since the beginning of the semester. My last writing is a good example of my improved organization:"This cartoon uses both images and words to push this point. There are many ways that words alone emphasize the author's point. The most obvious is the title: "Today's Random Medical News". This tells you that the author feels that the medical news being released is basically pulled out of a hat. The subtitle on the right-hand side is a use of symbolism and parody. It is making fun of The New England Journal of Medicine, a prominent journal of new findings in the medical field that is commonly used as a reference for medical reports in the news today. The subtitle states that it is a journal of "panic-inducing goobledy-gook." Without the proper medical training that is exactly what it can be." (The Trouble with the News and Medicine) In this example you can see how each idea is thoroughly explained before I jump to the next point. I feel this makes it much easier for the reader to understand and follow.

Another problem I realized that I had was my choice of words. I tend to write how I speak, and depending on the audience, you could use a lot of credibility in doing this.
"Yesterday I took my friend to the Fish Den to get some new fish for her 55-gallon tank. One of the fish she got is one of the coolest fish I've seen. It is a rope fish, erpetoichthys calabaricus, a fresh water fish from Africa. It looks like a cross between an eel and a snake." (The Rope Fish)In this example I use the word "coolest", which is more of a childish word. In looking back I feel that I could have used a more refined word in it's place. I also used the analogy of " a cross between an eel and a snake." I feel that if I wrote this now I would put more time in describing the real animal, rather than just associating it with other animals. In later posts I found myself using a much better choice of words, and more description. For example: "But when you look closer you see that the woman is holding her stomach, and leaning over a toilet bowl. Also the vertebrae in her back are very pronounced, and some of her ribs are showing; it is a woman with bulimia. When you think about this, you can see how they are using pathos to pull at your emotions about a trouble in the world today." (Spoof Ad)

I can not give myself all the credit in my improvements in writing. Besides just following the requirements for the assignments, I feel that the way in which the class is set up helped me the most. One thing that definitely influenced the change in my writing is the peer review and the teacher feedback. In having people read my papers, and more importantly tell me what they taught, helped me get a much better perspective on my writing. Also in doing comments on other people's posts has helped me look at things I read in a different way, as our handouts put it "reading like a writer."

I feel that this class has improved the way that I look at writing too. I used to dread writing a paper, but now that I have different ways to organize and express my thoughts, I'm not so scared. I have even found myself having friends read my papers for other classes before I turn them in. I have learned that to find and understand your audience is one of the most important things to do.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Trouble with the News and Medicine

The cartoon above was first published in a newspaper in the United States, in 1997. The cartoon was published by King Features Publishing. Due to the content of this cartoon, the author is most likely liberal. This is a single frame cartoon of a television newscast, with words and images, both which are needed to convey the message. This cartoon is implying that a lot of the medical news announced is random, unsubstantiated, and panic inducing. This cartoon was published in 1997, but this issue is still occurring today, and has long before this cartoon was made. Even Mark Twain said, “Don’t trust what you read in health and diet books, you might die of a misprint” (Heussner ix). The news seems to jump on any new health story. This may not seem like a bad thing, using the media to spread health concerns, but without the proper background information and research, this can be very detrimental.

This cartoon uses both images and words to push this point. There are many ways that the words alone emphasize the author’s point. The most obvious is the title: “Today’s Random Medical News”. This tells you that the author feels that the medical news being released is basically pulled out of a hat. The subtitle on the right-hand side is a use of symbolism and parody. It is making fun of The New England Journal of Medicine, a prominent journal of new findings in the medical field that is commonly used as a reference for medical reports in the news today. The subtitle states that it is a journal of “panic-inducing gobbledy-gook.” Without the proper medical training that is exactly what it can become.

The imagery being used helps imply the specific media that the author is talking about, but it is also a use of symbolism and analogy. The image of a white, middle-aged male in a suit and tie, holding papers leads you to believe that he is a television news anchor. This makes the subject focused on television news reports. The use of the spinning wheels with pointers, and different items on them is symbolic of a game show. Some game shows, like “The Price is Right” and “Wheel of Fortune”, are based on the random spinning of a wheel. By using this symbol, in combination with specific medical terms, shows the randomness that seems to come with some of the news reports these days. In the cartoon the man even has his finger on a button, to cause the wheels to spin and see where they stop for the day. The words listed on the wheels are also used to emphasize the randomness of the stories. The words range from smoking to exercise, breast cancer to a feeling of well being, and two-income families to rats; with most of these match ups being totally ridiculous.

There is also a bit of pathos being used in this cartoon. The subtitle’s mention of “panic-inducing” appeals to the anxiety that most people have with their health. In these times our culture is trying to be so health conscious, the when new reports come out we all rush to follow the recommendations, or worry if we are at risk. Also the anchorman’s facial expression evokes emotion. His straight face and turned down mouth seems to be disappointing or disapproving, like even the anchorman doesn’t believe himself anymore.

All of this rhetoric is implying that issues come up with medical news reports. One problem that can arise is a misunderstanding of medical reports. News reporters aren’t trained in medical jargon, and that can cause a mistranslation of what the medical report is actually stating (Heussner xi). Another problem is when medical news is announced too soon. Sometimes the media reports a medical “breakthrough” before any tests can be done to confirm the findings (Heussner 7). There are also issues of news reports being made on the basis of sources that aren’t credible. This can cause warnings of medical illnesses and risks that aren’t true (Heussner 13). And last is something I think we all know about, the “spin” that reporters put on stories to make them more interesting (Heussner 30). This also leads to a mistranslation of the facts.

All of this can lead to mental and physical problems in the people that take these reports to heart. Premature reporting of new treatments can cause people to try dangerous things. In 1979 a news report came out about the use of snake venom in treating multiple sclerosis. Tons of people ran to try this potentially lethal drug, that wasn’t even FDA approved (Heussner 45). Sources that are not credible tend to give a lot of false hope to people; and when discovered, dashes people’s dreams and gives them depression. Also in 1979, a report was made about a boy with cerebral palsy running a 6.2 mile race. This gave many people with cerebral palsy great hope. The story was found to be false (Heussner 68), but how many people with cerebral palsy tried to run before this was found out?

This cartoon is a very well-rounded piece of rhetoric. It is very effective at making its point. The author of this cartoon uses a variety of different things, from a plain statement of it, to imagery to support the words. By doing this the idea of random, unsubstantiated, panic-inducing news reports is hard to ignore. Whether we look online, on television, or in a newspaper, we will find out about new medical “breakthroughs”. We need to be careful to try to find out more from credible sources before we take any action about them. Try to always be skeptical of news reports, to keep your hopes from getting too high before all the facts are known. And if there is a report that you are interested in, always contact a credible source to confirm or deny the story, such as your doctor, or a government agency (Heussner 181).

Works Cited:

Heussner R. Warning: The Media May Be Harmful To Your Health! New York: Andrews and McMeel. 1988 p221.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Place to Go

In my first semester back in school I have had to do a lot of research on a lot of different topics. But, in researching one topic for my Intro to Spanish-speaking Cultures class, I have become more interested than before. This topic is the country of Peru. I was assigned to do a report on Peru; and in doing so has made me want to go there more than ever.

I find this country intriguing for many different reasons; the first being the history of the land. Peru was once the heart of the Incan Empire. An indigenous empire that stretched from Southern Colombia all the way to the northern parts of Chile and Argentina. There are still many Incan ruins in Peru, one of the most famous being Machu Pichu. This ruin is located high in the Andes mountains; there are two ways to get there, by train or by foot. The trek by foot takes three days, where you camp on the trail at night. This is what I would love to do.

Another reason I would like to travel to Peru is because of the environment. Peru has everything you could need. On the West side is the Pacific ocean with tons of beaches and water to swim in. On the East side is the Amazon rain forest with beautiful plants and animals to see. And in the middle is the Andes mountains, with skiing and mountain climbing. Whatever your mood, you can probably do it in Peru.

The last thing I want to mention is the food. All vegetables and fish are picked/caught daily to be sold at the open markets. Only one word to the wise, be careful of the red meat if you are squeamish; a primary source for red meat are guinea pigs.

More Reflections on Life & Death

This weekend I had to go to the funeral of the mother of one of my best friends. She was more that just my friend's mom, she was my friend; my family. Her death came as a big shock to us all. In the middle of last week she went to bed and never woke up. We still don't even know what caused her death. The only health problem she had was high blood pressure, and there is no evidence of a stroke or heart attack.
This incident made me think a lot, especially of the reflections I had when the puppies were born. I had a lot of the same thoughts and feelings come up. Just thinking that life really is a miracle; I mean, even in death it keeps us wondering and in awe. Why did she have to die now, only in her early 50's? And how did she die, when she was in relatively good health, and nothing was found in the initial autopsy?
But, this experience in my life also brought new and different thoughts to my mind. In thinking that life is a miracle, I can't help thinking that it is also a gift to be treasured and appreciated. In seeing this, I realized that I never know when it will be my turn to go. It could be a total mystery, where I die in my sleep of no apparent cause, or I could be hit by a car while crossing the street; you never really know. I do want to keep some of these thoughts in my head, so that I remember to show everyone how much I care for them. In these busy days we sometimes forget to say "I love you" all the time, and I don't want to regret having not said it before I died.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Shark Tales

I couldn't decide what to write about, so I decided to write about one of my greatest obsessions; sharks. Ever since I was a child I have had this strange pull towards sharks. Growing up I wanted to be a marine biologist just to be able to dive with a Great White. I think sharks are wonderful, beautiful animals; and most people think I'm crazy for thinking so. But hopefully by sharing what I know about them, I can change those feelings.
Sharks are one of the oldest animals in the world, and have stayed unchanged for millions of years. Sharks have even found the cure for cancer. Scientists have tried to give cancer to sharks before, but they have something special that kills the cancer. Now we are trying to learn what that special something is from the sharks. If nothing else you have to give them some respect for just their evolutionary accomplishments. They have been on this planet since before humans were apes, and have seen a lot more than we have.
I know most people think "Jaws" when they think of sharks. Basically a giant set of teeth with a fin and tail that goes around eating anything it sees. This just isn't true, statistically you are more likely to be stung to death by bees then you are to be attacked by a shark. Millions of people go swimming with sharks every day, and they don't even know it. Also a Great White, in reality, only eats about once every 1 to 2 months. and that food is seals and whale carcasses; Great Whites are scavengers.
When you actually think about it, sharks have more to fear from us then we do from them. We pollute their waters, put up nets to drowned them, and more. The worst of it all is how they collect shark fins for shark fin soup. They catch the sharks, drag them on the boat, cut off all their fins, and throw them back into the ocean. Without their fins they can't swim, and if they can't swim they slowly drown or stave. So I ask, who is the real monster?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

YouTube Video

The Simpsons makes fun of Fox News

Friday, April 6, 2007

Spoof Ad

I think this ad is mocking all Calvin Klein ads, but at the same time using it to prove a bigger point. The ad is a spoof of Calvin Klein Obsession perfume ads. When you first glance at it, it does look like one of their ads, with a naked woman on it. But when you look closer you see that the woman is holding her stomach, and leaning over a toilet bowl. Also the vertebrae in her back are very pronounced, and some of her ribs are showing;it is a woman with bulimia. When you think about this, you can see how they are using pathos to pull at your emotions about a trouble in the world today.
I feel that they are using this ad to bring up the bigger issue of the direction that advertising is going these days. My last post was an example of the use of sex appeal , and this ad is showing the effects that the use of sex appeal can have on people. There are so many ads that push being skinny and beautiful that most people end up with low self esteem. Our country has an "obsession" with being perfect(skinny and sexy) that it is messing with the mental health of people. Anorexia and bulimia are becoming more and more common, and this ad is trying to make people realize one of the biggest reasons why.
I think this ad does a good job at making it's point, but at the same time it is still using the same means as the Calvin Klein ads. One, it uses the logo "Obsession" to grab people's attention with a familiar name. Second, it is still using some sex appeal to get attention too. It may need to use the image of the naked woman to make it a true parody to the Calvin Klein ads, but the image of the naked woman is still the thing that grabs your attention first; even before you know what the ad is for.

Calvin Klein Ad

The photo I chose was from a five page layout for Calvin Klein jeans. This ad is definitely using sex appeal to sell it's product. The photo has a young, skinny, blond woman laying on her back; which is arched to accentuate her features. She is also wearing a mini skirt, and has her legs spread wide open, exposing her underwear. The way that she is looking straight at the camera, like she is looking at every person that looks at the ad is also very seductive. The woman is also playfully putting her hair in her mouth in a very flirtatious way.
This ad is also using pathos to appeal to it's consumers. To think that this is an ad for Calvin Klein jeans; she's not even wearing jeans. She is wearing a jean skirt, but that is not what your eyes are drown to. with out me saying that this was an ad for jeans would anyone even know what product they were trying to sell, besides sex? This ad is playing on sex appeal and how we react to it to sell the product. This part of the ad doesn't even have the logo or name of the product on it. By using sex appeal as a pathos, they are making men want to be with her, and women want to be her. Therefore, maybe if they buy the product they can get a little closer to what they want.
I don't really know f I would consider this ad very appropriate; she does have some clothes on, but the way she is posed with her legs open, and sucking on her hair, she might as well be in a Playboy spread. Is that what we want to aspire to be?

Saturday, March 31, 2007


This photo is in black and white, which adds seriousness to the image, giving it a somewhat somber tone. When you look at the coloring of the photograph it doesn't look warm and comforting, it seems somewhat cold and uninviting. The artist also seems to use a lot of contrast between the black and the white, to grab your attention. The use of the lighter wall and white T-shirt on the child compared to the black figure makes it stand out much more. Also the curb on the bottom of the picture; painted white on the sides, and dark in the middle, draws the observer's attention to the middle of the photograph.
The use of the graffiti in the background helps give the observer an idea of the setting the picture was taken in. The aged wall with paint chipping and graffiti all over it implies that it is in an older, more run down neighborhood. Maybe implying that it is a part of town most people are scared to be in? The fact that the child is in fast motion also adds an element of fear, like he is running from something.
The large black figure also adds quite a bit of fear to the photo. With pointed ears like a bat, and the way the figure is positioned, as if hovering over the child. The black figure is superimposed on to the photo, giving it more significance; if the artist purposely put it in there, then it must have important meaning.
I believe the artist is trying to make a statement regarding the pressures and fears of today's youth. The dark figure with drugs and alcohol that the child is running away from, but can't because it is his own shadow.


This photo brought a lot of ideas to my mind. At my initial glance, it made me think about the rising fears we are having about our children. It seems as though children aren't safe anywhere any more. Every time we turn on the news we hear about kidnappings, drive by shootings, molestations, and more. I mean, some of my friends are scared to let their kids play in the yard of their own house. We have all of these fears that the "boogie man" is going to come and hurt our children.
When I looked at the picture in further detail, a started to think about all the different pressures children are exposed to today. Besides normal pressures to do good in school, and to be a good person; now children have pressures in their own neighborhoods to join a gang, or drink and do drugs. It made me realize that there are a lot more negative pressures on children these days, even compared to when I was younger, which wasn't that long ago.
This realization started me on a deeper reflection of the photograph. With the dark figure seeming like the child's shadow, does this represent the child's future? With all of the negative pressures on children, it is likely that some may turn out to be the menacing figure in the photo. In thinking back on my initial reaction, does the fear that children get about their environment force them to join a gang to feel safer, or make them want to numb themselves with drugs and alcohol so they don't have to think about the fears.


The photo I chose from the Foley Gallery was done by Alexandre Orion. It is a black and white photo of a child running down a sidewalk. The child has on a white T-shirt and darker toned shorts. The child is also wearing white socks and black tennis shoes. You can tell the child is running fast because the child is slightly blurred in the photo.
The sidewalk the child is running on is grey. At the bottom of the photo you can see a curb, that is painted white on the right and left sides of the photo. In the background is a large wall that is light at the top and fades to dark as you move down the picture. The wall is tagged with graffiti that is of a few different colors. There are parts of the wall where the paint is chipping, making the wall look very old.
There is a large, black figure behind the child. It is an image that has been superimposed on the photograph. It has pointed ears and a gaping mouth. The figure has a wide body, and appears to be leaning over and yelling at the child. The figure has two arms; in one there appears to be an alcohol bottle, and in the other possibly a cigarette or joint. The child seems to be running from the figure, but on further inspection you can see that the figure is attached to the child. The legs of the figure travel down the wall, on to the sidewalk, and to the child's feet; as if it were the child's shadow.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Thoughts of Puppies

About 5 weeks ago I was sitting in my friend Elaine's living room, petting he pregnant dog, and waiting for her to get out of the shower. About 72 days earlier her black German Sheppard, Cloe, had gone into heat and mated with her Sable Sheppard, Bernard. Now she was huge, swollen with puppies, and going into labor. She was panting heavily, and couldn't seem to get comfortable. We got her into the whelping bed: it was a plastic kiddy pool with blankets and towels for padding.

Once Cloe got comfortable in the bed she started panting even harder, although it seemed to be a more controlled panting. Her tail started to lift up, and she stretched out her whole body, to help position the puppies for delivery. You could see her back and haunches start to contract. A milky gray sack emerged form her vagina. In three contractions a little puppy wrapped in the sack came out. Elaine first let Cloe break the embryonic sack around the puppy, and then picked him up, it's a boy, and suctioned out his
mouth so he could start breathing. When Elaine put the puppy back in the bed, Cloe started cleaning him immediately. Despite the fact that he couldn't see or hear, and the fact that mom was licking him all over, he squirmed his way to her nipple and started feeding like crazy.
It was a long process; it took four hours for the first three pups to come out, then another two and a half hours for another two. Cloe seemed finished with labor, happy and feeding her new babies, so I went home. A few hours later I got a call from Elaine, about a half an hour after I left Cloe had another puppy that Elaine couldn't get breathing, even with mouth to mouth. She took Cloe to the vet, and she had another stillborn on the way. But the vet said that everything was fine, this was normal. With some animals, having stillborns is normal, that's way they produce so many young in one gestational period. That night I just laid in bed, not able to sleep. The event that I witnessed that day just kept playing over and over in my head. You may think I'm crazy, after all it's just puppies, but in seeing the puppies being born it brought a lot of thoughts to my mind.

To actually witness a live birth is an amazing reality check. Before all of this I was depressed due to money, stress, and other issues. When I watched the first puppy come out it reminded me of just how lucky I am to be alive and healthy. In this day in age material wealth is emphasized as such an important thi
ng, that we lose track of just how lucky we are just to be able to breath. Life itself is one of the biggest miracles in the world. Every being on this earth started out as a single cell. From that one cell we grow into organisms that contain over 100 trillion cells. We create separate organs and organ systems to carry out the various functions of our bodies. We even grow our own brains, which are capable of things we don't even know about at this time. No matter what kind of animal it is, when you are in the presence of life it is awe inspiring.

In these times we are very technologically advanced. We have done things that were never thought possible. I believe some of these things are wonderful, and have helped millions of people keep their lives. But, with all of this new technology, we tend to forget how amazing and important certain things are. Not so long ago delivering a baby was a life or death situation. With how large a baby's head is, it was not uncommon for the child to get stuck, and both the baby and the mother died during delivery. Now with medical advances, the chances of the mother or the child dying have dropped dramatically. We can now monitor the child and mother, and if called for, induce labor and perform
caesarian sections.

In applying all of these advances, we are producing more life, and we are sustaining life longer. Just a few decades ago the average life expectancy was only in the late 40's to early 50's. Now we have people living to be 114 years old. We are able to cut cancer out of our bodies, and give people new hearts. We have added an extra fifty years on to our lives, so now it seems as if that is expected. When Elaine told me that the death of the last two puppies was normal, it made me think of how w
e, as humans, would react. Because of all of our advances we expect life to be a given, it's not "normal" for a human to lose a baby in delivery anymore. I can't help but have conflict on whether this is good or bad. I mean it is great that not as many babies and mothers are dying, but are we losing the significance of the whole thing in doing so. Now that so many babies are able to survive, and the fact that people, in general, live longer, our world is becoming overpopulated. We don't even have the food to feed everyone on the planet anymore. More people on the planet means that more land is being developed, and less land can be used to grow and raise the food that all of us need to live. We are creating an imbalance in the world that sustains us, but it seems that the majority of people don't think about it in this way. We just keep going without thinking of what this means to the life of all things, including mankind. Do we have the respect of life that we should? I don't know if all of us do anymore.

I feel grateful to h
ave been able to watch this miracle, not just in what I saw, but for what it awoke in me. I had lost something, and in watching those puppies emerge into the world, I got it back. We all can lose sight of the big picture, depending on the stresses we are having at the time, and that is why we get reminders. For me, new life can be joyous, and death can be heartbreaking, but I need them both to remind me of just how precious life is.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Rope Fish

Yesterday I took my friend to the Fish Den to get some new fish for her 55-gallon tank. One of the fish she got is one of the coolest fish I've seen. It is a rope fish, erpetoichthys calabaricus, a fresh water fish from Africa. It looks like a cross between an eel and a snake. My friend got a small one, it is probably a little under a foot. When she put him in the tank it was so cool to see him slither around everything. The way he curves his body is so fluid, it seems like he just goes where the current takes him.

When I got home I had to learn more about them, so of course, I went online. I went to Petfish and found out that these fish can get very big. Adults can reach 3 feet in length, and the minimum tank size is 55 gallons. Also they are carnivorous, you feed the blood worms, beef heart, or feeder fish. But they can also eat smaller fish in the tank, and snails and frogs. So you have to be careful what you put in with them.

I read that they are nocturnal, and liked to hide a lot, but when my friend put him in the tank, he went in and out of everything, and didn't seem to stay in one place for too long. My friend told me that's why she got him, out of all the types of eels and things in the store, this fish seemed to hide the least. In doing some research about rope fish, I found a comment site that states that they are very personable, and will swim in and out of your fingers when you put your hand in the tank to feed them.

I am determined to get one of these fish some day. I think they are so graceful in the water, I could watch them all day. it is a commitment though, the larger the tank the harder it is to clean and keep regulated. But if you like fish like I do, it is worth it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Opposing Forces

Mass people clogging up the street, some fleeing, some fighting. It's a riot , possibly a protest gone terribly wrong. Some people are holding their hands up as if surrendering. Clouds of smoke rise in the air. Most likely tear gas to break up the crowd. Cobble stone streets, and the police with black helmets leads me to believe this is in Europe.
This image brings to my mind thoughts of Germany, and the wall that divided the country for so long. Could you imagine being separated from your family and loved ones by only a brick wall, and still not being able to see them, or touch them?Anger would be my strongest emotion, and it would be very hard to control it. The photo above represents the result of trying to control people excessively. The more you suppress, the more there will be rebellion.
Unfortunately, as with all riots and uprisings, there are always some innocent people that get in the mix. In the image you can see people on the right side, covering their mouths and crying. They are not involved in the main friction going on, but they are still affected by it; physically and mentally.
When I look at this photo it makes me sad. Why does it seem to always have to come to this? Is it man's inherent nature that causes us to classify and discriminate? Or is it outside influences that cause it? I can't say that we will ever know the answer for sure, but I hope we can work against it, and end up in a better world.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Good Blog Site

The blog I went to was Pop Candy. It has a lot of normal conventions we see in blogs. First is that it has a title and description of the site. Pop Candy is one person's view of popular culture. It has a search bar, and a list of categories. You can click on a subject and all posts regarding that subject will come up. There are also hyperlinks to other websites with more information on the topic being discussed. There is also a photo of the author, which is common with blogs. The author also uses photographs when appropriate in the posts.
When visiting the site you can also see the unconventional components the author uses. This blog site is part of the bigger site of USA Today, so there is a USA Today user bar above the blog site. There is also categories by archives, so if there is a specific time frame you are looking for you can find it. There is also links to different websites that contain similar information and topics. This is something I haven't seen too much of, but I think it's a great idea, so that people can read about a topic from a few different perspectives.
The topics the author discusses are all popular culture, but it varies from movies, television shows, music, festivals, and more. The author sets it up by what is going on for that specific week. She uses a one on one form, like she is talking directly to the audience. She also uses a lot of reflection, added what she feels about certain subjects. She seems very organized in her thoughts, but presents them in a laid back way.
The blog is made for pepole who want to know all that is going on in the world of pop culture. If you want to know what movies are coming out, good new music, celebrity websites, etc. this is the place to go. This author doesn't seem to write just about things she likes, she writes about all aspects. And besides that, you can get to all other types of news, and blogs focused on a variety of different subjects. One post was just on the geekiest crossword puzzle. It contains most things interesting and entertaining.
This is a very well rounded website with good links and topics. This site has subject titles that are easy to understand. Before reading the blog you know what you are in for. The title is even explained. Also most of the content in the blog has a wide diversity. The author is not constantly writing about the same subject over and over. Each blog has a different focus, and appeals to different people, but still stays on the same main subject matter. It is also very well organized. The links to other information is easy to find. In reflecting on my own blog site, I feel I could make some changes to improve the appearance and usability of my site. I think a lnk to the main English blog would be a good idea. I also feel I can try and make my titles a little more informative.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pathology, What is it?

Pathology is the study of pathogens (disease causing things). When most people hear the word they think of dead people; that is a part, but not all of it. I am now on my way to interview a pathologist, and tour a morgue. Dr. Meredith Lann is going to give me a tour of the pathology department and morgue at the University of Colorado Hospital. The hospital is located at the corner of Colorado Blvd. and 8th Ave. in Denver; this is also the location of Cu's School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and School of Pharmacology. It is a teaching hospital, and a location of medical research. (See above picture)

I miscalculated how long the drive was, and ended up getting here early. The building looks like a big cement block with windows from the side that I enter on. The pathology department is located on the second floor of the School of Medicine. When I walk through the doors it looks like a small hospital, with elevators to the right. I get in and go to the second floor, the halls are cluttered with metal cabinets that have pictures of different cells(microscope images) taped to the doors. I get to the pathology housestaff room and walk in. It looks like an office, with gray cubicles set up everywhere; it kind of looks like a big rat maze. A woman with green scrubs on walks in and shows me to Meredith's desk, to sit and wait for her. It's 12:20 in the afternoon.

And as I sit at her cubicle waiting; she isn't supposed to be here until one, I start to look around. At every desk there is a computer and a microscope. It's very quiet, all you can here is a hum from the neon lights, and slight murmuring from other people working at their desks. There is a tray full of slides sitting on her desk; on the slides are chunks of pink-stained tissue samples for her to look at and access. I look at the calendar on the wall of her cubicle: Thursday-cut brain. "Call" is written on various days through the month; this is when she is the one who is in charge of last night and STAT (emergency) cases. On the other wall is a chart with the common weights for human organs at different age and gender groups. Each cubicle has a sign with the name for whose desk it is, and what department they work for i.e.: dermatopathology(skin biopsies) and hematopathology (blood pathogens), showing how diverse the field is.

At one o'clock Dr. Lann comes into the office. She is in her early thirties with shoulder length, light brown hair. She wears slightly rectangular glasses and green scrubs; she still has marks on her face from the mask she was wearing during autopsy. I notice she has a very distended stomach, and I ask, "How far along are you?" She laughs a little and replies, "Seven and a half months. It's funny, I'll be doing some cutting during an autopsy, and he starts kicking." Dr. Lann is in her second year of residency, and is on the autopsy rotation. She has to do fifty cases before she finishes her residency.

She starts me on a tour of the floor. They have an office staff that answers the phones and helps with the paperwork. The office staff have their own office, and they were having a birthday party in there when we walked by; Dr. Lann made sure to get some cake later. The next room down the hall is called the "Gross Room", it has a double meaning: this is where they do gross, or general inspection of the organs, but it is gross because it contains a whole bunch of different body parts. When we walk in the door the smell of formaldehyde is so strong it takes my breath away. There are two stations in the room with vent hoods; A woman with short brown hair is working at one. She has a large mass of dark brown tissue that she is cutting pieces off of. Dr. Lann explains to me that when they need to look closer at a body part or organ, it gets sent here for processing; the woman was cutting slices of a pancreas that had a tumor in it. The slices of tissue will then be sent to the lab down the hall, where they stain the tissue, mount it on a slide, and send it back to the pathologist to look at and diagnose.

Around 2:00 pm we go back into the staff house room and sit at a conference table. This was no ordinary table; it has a microscope at one seat, but also 15 different eyepieces around the table. This means that 15 people can look at the slide at once. She puts in one of the slides from her desk; it is a piece of thyroid gland. The cells are stained a pinkish-purple color; the nuclei of the cells are a dark purple. I ask, "Why would you need to see this on a dead person?" Dr. Lann states, "We don't only deal with tissue from dead people, all pathology residents do clinical pathology rotation, which is biopsies, moles, pap smears, etc. from living people."

The last place she took me was the morgue, it was on the first floor, and not in the basement. The door leading to the morgue area was a heavy wood door with metal plating. It has signs that read: "Biohazard" and "Authorized Personnel Only". When we walked in I got hit with the smell of formaldehyde again, though not as strong; this area is much larger. There is an outside hallway before you get to the autopsy room. In this hallway is a table with gloves and disposable drapes to prep with before an autopsy. In the main room there are two metal tables with drains at one end. There is also a scale for the individual organs, and sinks with disposals for during processing. Dr. Lann emphasizes that when an autopsy is finished the deceased does look normal, if wearing clothes you can't even tell.

When I left at around 3:00 pm, I had a better understanding of the field. It is different than other physician specialties in the fact that it is more flexible. You can take time off when you need to; the dead people aren't going anywhere, but it is also very demanding. The treatment of patients ultimately depends on your diagnosis. And in the case of people that are already deceased, it explains why and maybe how to prevent it in another person. I asked Dr. Lann if there is ever trouble with the patient's family. Dr. Lann said, "Most families want to have an autopsy now, not just to find out why, but because they feel it's a way to help others, and give back to the medical community." Yes, there is gross stuff, but in doing the tour, I found there is much more involved.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Uncreative Interlude

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Sunday, February 4, 2007

Why would you want to do that?

When I grow up I want to be a pathologist. People hear what I "want to be when I grow up" and they usually ask "Why would you want to do that?" I'm focusing my observational essay on the Pathology department at the University Hospital to hopefully answer that question for people.
With the subject I picked, my audience could have a little trouble understanding some things about it. One problem would definitely be the terminology. There are some good websites to help with understanding the medical "lingo"(Click here to see site- this would be a good place to review after reading the essay, but I'll try not to use too much, if I can help it.) Another thing you may need to understand is my attitude towards pathology. Most people hear this word and think "dead people." This is a big part of it, but pathology is also what diagnoses diseases in live people as well. The pathologist is the person who ultimately diagnoses cancer. They help save people before it gets too far, and I just want to help people in these ways.
I'll admit when I hear forensic pathologist, the first thing I think of is a dark, neon lit basement, with dripping pipes and a musky smell. I'm sure other people think this way too. Some mad scientist cutting up dead bodies, but I expect for it to be very different in real life. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there will be some cadavers involved, but I don't think it will be that much. I believe, from what I've researched, that the majority of a pathologists time is spent in a lab, looking through a microscope, analyzing things on a cellular level.
Another misconception that has come up recently is that forensic pathology is like the popular T.V. show: C.S.I.I would love it if the city actually had the money to provide the high-tech labs they have in that show. In reality, a lot of tests have to be sent to different labs around the country, because no one can afford the machinery to do all the tests at one location. There will be some high-tech stuff, but not to the extent in that show.
I hope that in reading this post some things will be cleared up, and some views may change before reading my essay. If any other questions come up in reading, a great website to answer medical questions is Web MD.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A New Forum

I had never heard of Youtube until I had to go to the site for class. It is quite the amazing website. I went through a lot of videos before choosing one to focus on. There are so many different categories to choose from on Youtube that it’s hard to find something to focus on; which is why I picked “As One”: a video about the Youtube website; specifically a convention in Hollywood.

This video stood out to me more than others because it put me in the position of seeing the other side, the movie maker’s point of view, and why they do it. The video shows you clips of all the different types of people that put movies on the site and the reason why. I feel the maker did this to emphasize the diversity the site offers. It is a new forum for different people to express themselves and voice their opinions. The video is focused on getting more people to the web site by showing all the different people that do it looking so happy and proud. But, this also makes me wonder what kinds of things have been left out. I’m sure that with this forum, like the others, there are copywriting problems, people complaining that they have been offended by one video or another, and so on.
The beginning of the video leads to another aspect that stood out to me: everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame. Just the fact that the convention was held in Hollywood can lead to this idea. This is a place to go and be heard and seen, to be recognized (and rated-yikes!). The video shows one man that was making videos before, but had no one to show them to, and now he does. This helps artists without and audience to find one. The video also asks the question: “What is the future of Hollywood?” showing all the clips of different people and ideas and bringing them all together-“As One”. At the end of the video he ties back into the “New Hollywood” theme by showing you a group of movie makers together, but still all different.
In watching the video, I realized that it is different from television or movies in many ways. First, you aren’t watching a video that was censored or, in most cases, edited. It’s not structured the same either; most of it is amateurs doing this for the first time. The quality is not as good either, but without being supported by a television or movie company, who can afford all the expensive equipment. Watching it on a computer, and being able to rank it gives me the feeling of interaction. I’m not just sitting there watching it and taking it in. I’m a part of it; I can comment or rank it. In a weird way, you almost feel more connected then the other genres. The world is changing in many ways, and everyone is being able to reach people all over the world. The video I chose puts emphasis on this fact; the title alone implies that we are all coming together as one, through our new technological advances.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Helpful or Harmful

In the last post I was discussing how WebMD is a very versitile site with conventional and non-conventional aspects. There can be some problems that have to do with these aspects. WebMD is a site for the doctor as well as the patient. It's a research site to look up medical information to help teach and learn.
With being a medical professional this is very helpful to get to a large sum of information. With all of this being at one website, it takes less time for the doctor to access the information, therefore making it easier to assess and treat patients. It also makes it possible to confer with other physicians in specialized areas. Not only that, but doctors can also print out instruction guides on exercise, diet, etc. for patients to take home with them.
On the other end of the spectrum is where I tend to see more confusion happening. Some patients do not have any kind of medical background, but they can still access the same places on WebMD as doctors. This can cause patients to be lead in the wrong directions. Some people will try to diagnose and treat themselves before they ever see a doctor. With certain things this is fine, but if you get pulled too off course something stressing could happen. This happened with a woman having a slight pain by her belly-button now and then; she got lead astray and called the office thinking she had ovarian cancer. She was very upset and crying, she came in, and it was just gas. That was more stress than she needed. I find in the information age, we can access mass amounts of information, but if we do not have the training or background, it can be very confusing.
Another thing that can be misleading is the advertisements on WebMD, just like on television(click to see example). I understand they pay for the other aspects of the website, but with medications it is a different story. Medications affect every one differently, wiether it be due to your physiology, or because of the other medications you are taking. But ads seem to have a way of convincing people it's only one thay can have, or will work; I admit I've done this myself before. When the doctor tries to say otherwise, some people do not listen or understand this, so the confusion gets worse.
It is hard in this "information age" to not get clouded by all the different data being offered up to us. I love the website because of all the information that is accessible, but at the same time I want to make sure I and everyone else are careful of how we take in and apply the knowledge. Otherwise, it will be one confusing, stressful mess.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Well Rounded Website

When I was working as a medical assistant I would run into all kinds of different issues that people had. And, sometimes even the doctor didn’t know all of the problems people had. One of our biggest resources was This website focuses on health information, and was a very useful tool for me.
This website is conventional in many ways (website conventions). It starts with a homepage that is broken down and organized by a few different ways. The main tool bar lets you search by ailment. There is also a search bar to just type in what you’re looking for. And, like other websites it has hyperlinks to different areas; and a subtle background to make it easier to read. Also, it has lots of ads, and who can have a website with out ads?
There are also other areas that are similar to other websites, but with their own little traits. There is an index area, which isn’t amazing in it’s self; but when you click on it, you are in access to the largest medical library I’ve ever seen. Doctors are able to look things up with a click of a button, instead of trying to flip through a book, or go from one website to another to find what they need. Also, unlike other websites I’ve seen, you can actually get on to different blog sites of other doctors to ask direct questions. In another twist to the conventions, WebMD has a tool bar that is actually just a body, and you are able to click on the area of the body that you are trying to research on. And this website isn’t just for doctors; it is also a way for patients to get information they need on ailments, as well as a link to other things like diet, exercise groups, and others. This is a website that stands out to me because it’s not just for one group of people, which is a twist on conventions in it’s self.
In writing this post it has occurred to me how amazing the information age is. It’s not that WebMD is a crazy, new site with tons of new information or anything; it’s that in trying to do research in the medical field, you can be lead astray by how the books are set up. With the innovation of this website it makes it easier to find your subject and stay on your subject. It’s also very time consuming to try and collect information from thousands of different books. In WebMD you have almost every medical book you can think of at the touch of the mouse.
Living in this age, there are millions of different websites out there and all have conventional and non-conventional aspects. I hope that in reading this you can see the specific little things that WebMD uses to try and set it’s self apart from the rest. It is a site that is unique and all encompassing at the same time.