Sunday, July 31, 2011

Terrorists targeting students

I know it’s not the first time this has happened, but I am always appalled at the aggressive attitude that some organizations take towards students. College is a time when young adults are highly impressionable and searching for belonging, struggling through education and doing their best to approach everything with an open mind and an earnest desire for learning. Of course, not everyone is there for the same reason, but this description would be true of those true students who are now being explicitly targeted by yet another terroristic animal rights organization.

Stalking students and threatening them, physically, reputationally and emotionally abusing them and their friends, relationships and families is a horrid thing to do to people. This trip comes to Columbus, it’s going down.

I thought this blog was right on the mark when OSU shared it this past weekend. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bi-weekly Update (duplicate post)

The past couple of weeks have once again been an absolute whirlwind. Starting my thesis has turned out to be the single greatest writing endeavour of my life and I think I started it none too soon. Besides trying to write about 1,000 words per day, I’ve also been trying to get amendments in for my protocol and other items around. Combine this with the state fair coming into play and there has been a lot of busy rushing going on.

The vegetables are growing well, with the best cantaloupe plants I’ve ever had. We trained the pumpkins to climb this year and the strength in their trailers is amazing! I’ve included a picture of the trainer a few weeks ago which has not totally filled out with leaves and blooms. I’m not sure how well the vines will hold the pumpkins on, but it’s a fun thing to try anyways. Those little wispies that come out from the vine have been reaching out and pulling the vine along every day, strengthening its position on the cage and providing a lot of entertainment for me.

4-H camp was this past week and over all, I think we’re pretty lucky. With all the heat and enough rain to canoe without damming up the creek, it’s really amazing that we were able to run all of our sessions without being cancelled out by rain except by night. Each day was blazingly hot with stifling humidity (heat indexes well over 100), but we made it through and only lost 1 dehydration patient over the week who had to go home to recover from losing too much fluid. On a funny note, we created a video to instruct campers about the 2 biggest problems we had at camp this year and I will plan on getting that posted as soon as I can get ahold of a copy of it.

I’ve got a bunch of different articles open on my browser, so hang tight and I’ll get them all out this week, but with the state fair and my position as a judge, a volunteer, an employee, a researcher, a sibling and a husband – it’s going to be a fast-paced next couple of weeks. Hang in there with me and stay cool and shady from all the hot weather.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Antibiotics Paper Online

Finally, I have figured out a way to put my paper on antibiotic use in pigs online. You should see it now on the right of the blog above the archive. My paper on antibiotics is a small work in the great mix of science in this world, but people say I do a good job of explaining concepts in anyone's terms. I hope you find the paper a good read and I encourage you to ask questions or pose corrections to the argument.

Nobody should be above learning unless they are below society.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pelotonia 2011 Update (duplicate post)

Well it wasn’t easy, it never is. But Amanda and I have reached our minimum fundraising goal. The final money will be coming in this week, just before the student deadline of next Monday. This includes a bake sale at Champion Feed and Pet Supply in Delaware, and sponsorships from Amanda Hills (water for the bake sale) and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. It’s really tough getting my mind in gear for a race which is still over a month away and after the start date of my research project, but Amanda and I have started riding and getting in the habit of riding more often. To be honest, this fundraising and the jersey printing has gotten me even more excited for the race.

I also want to take the time to thank everyone who donated to both mine and to Amanda’s ride. Fundraising last year was a function of some really big sponsorships and that was great, but it was so much more moving to receive small donations from so many people. It is a great and true example of how many people are touched by the suffering of cancer. Every person who donated has their own story, their own motivation for why they donated. I don’t know all of the stories, but I know many of them. And I can tell you that they are my inspiration for riding. My ride serves as my only way to give an embrace of encouragement and gratitude towards the people who have shared, who have struggled and who are praying for a cure.

Cancer is a serious story, and I focus this race often on the serious side – encouraging your support for my ride based on your compassion for those in your community who need your support and the hope that comes through research. But it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t provide a little light entertainment for you as well. And trust me, it’s a real pleasure to embrace fitness through this challenge on behalf of cancer patients and families. So here are a couple of light thoughts to share with you about my Pelotonia experience so you can gain insight into what an average person thinks during preparation for this great event.

Last year’s ride made me want to curl up in a ball and sleep for days. This picture doesn't do justice to the pain and exhaustion I felt at the end of 180 miles. Physically exhausting is how I would describe the first day, the longest ride of my life. Before that day I had never ridden more than 45 miles and I relied on pure youth to pull me through. But if Saturday was physically exhausting, Sunday was a battle of the mind. Singing stupid little songs over and over pounded through my head and I hated groups like the Black-Eyed Peas for their repetitive music that was impossible to clear from my head as a captive listener to my own head as I rode on. It was like an 8 hour trip to the dentist.

This year I decided to try and ride more before the Pelotonia to be in better shape. Great thing about central Ohio is that there are lots of open places to ride. The problem with great rides is that you always want to keep riding. But eventually you have to come home. The return trip is never as fun as the way out, and such was the case last week. I swear the wind always switches directions when you turn around. I had been looking forward to an Irish blessing style, downhill, wind-to-the-back ride on the way home. Instead, the sun started blazing and the wind picked up – in my face. All I could think about on the way home was how I was going to eat all-you-can-eat pizza at Cici’s. An hour after Cici’s, all I could think about was what a terrible idea that was. I probably ate 2 pizzas single-handedly.

The most important part of the ride is the bike. Believe it or not (probably not if you ever see my bikes) but I know a lot about bikes. I know the good brands, the right questions, the things you can afford to fix and the things you can’t. I know how to fix nearly everything, but I would rather pay someone else who was formally trained to do it. I know what a good price is, what is a ripoff and what is a steal. But I also know the value in having a bike that gets you there and leaves some cash in your pocket. That’s where my silver speckled, 1990s Peformance Focus comes into play. It has all the right parts and just gives up a little on the aesthetics side of things. I love the bike more and more every day. In fact, if I have a weakness, it’s that I fall in love with bikes and am unwilling to let them go. I used Craigslist to sell last year’s bike and when I pulled it out I barely was able to let it go. It rode so beautiful, with a 70s style pristine paint coat and basically no rust. But last year it betrayed me and the whole pedal mechanism jumped ship on the ride. I had to keep reminding myself of that as I sold it to a new kid who was less picky than me on what bike he rode to Athens. We’d been through a lot together but it was time to let it go and pick up a new bike, a new story for the next ride.

Compression shorts are awkward. Even more awkward is the fact that they have a changing room for trying them on at the bike store. I remember growing up thinking that I would never look like one of those guys, but I have relinquished in favor of common sense. Athletes wear clothing designed for athletes. It’s lighter, breathes better and wicks away sweat; every pound that I don’t have to haul with me to Athens is a pound faster that I can go. I’m still getting used to the idea of wearing them and I feel pretty exposed biking in them in public. But I’ll get used to it over time; it’s just like any other athletic outfit – designed for specific purposes and let me tell you that it makes the ride SO much better.

Sunglasses are vital to a decent ride (unless you ride in the rain, then your bike is probably rusting away). I don’t have a great history of keeping sunglasses uncrushed, so I try not to spend a lot of money on them. The result is that they break and I just feel less guilty about it. But when they all break and I need some to ride in, out comes the super glue. Amanda’s suggestion turned out to work great. While waiting on hold with an office calll I held the superglued glasses together in a firm grip. I reapplied superglue in thin coats every few minutes and at the end of the call let go. It held together great and now we’re ready for another ride. When it comes down to it, I’d spend money on a water bottle or speedometer any day over a pair of sunglasses.

If you’d like to hear more about the ride, please find us at Champion Feed and Pet Supply this coming weekend for the Pelotonia bake sale fundraiser there. I’d love to talk and tell you more about anything you want to know AND you can shop around a little, too! Champion has been a great partner to work with and we are very excited to be hosted there this weekend for the sale. They also have a nice store with everything for pets, horses and livestock.

As I said, I will have soon reached my sponsorship goal and will likely exceed it, as has Amanda. We are very grateful and still will continue receiving your donations. Every dollar goes toward cancer research and the more we can raise for this great goal, the better. I also encourage you to consider donating to 3 other great people who I know that are riding this year and still working towards their goal. Beth Wenner, Christopher Fullam and Mary Connolly. They are good friends who are riding with great reasons this year. Please check out their profiles on, and if you feel so moved, consider giving a tax deductible donation to any or all of them, or to myself or Amanda. The biggest key is to give; it all goes towards the greater good: Ending Cancer.

Here’s OSU’s movie for some final thoughts about the Pelotonia. We got an email to be on this movie, since Amanda and I are both a part of Team Buckeye, but it just didn’t fit into the schedule with everything else.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Time Flies...

...when you're having fun. It looks like my blog has mostly died in the past 2 weeks, but in reality, that's because of all the good things that have been happening around here. I've been super busy and while my busyness encompasses a broad range of stuff, I'll try to lay them out in a series of blogs. Since most of my life has been defined recently by grad school, this first blog will focus there.

I was originally supposed to start my pigs on project the beginning of July, but the project start has been a little delayed by the age of the pigs and their growth. It all is based on when they reach a certain age and so as the pigs were born a bit late, my research was once again inevitably delayed. We're planning now to start the beginning of August, but that is good because it gives me a lot of time to catch up on the other progressions with the project around here.

One of these includes the final formulation of the diets to be used in the project. After balancing out the potential diets, we determined that there was a need for another treatment for comparison and the deletion of a previous diet. Since my focus is still on the impact of organic production, we will be using a commercially available, organic supplement which is intended to benefit the pigs in a similar way to which antibiotics could be used without the actual use of antibiotics. This is a fun little bit of science, but please stay posted and I will either blog my class paper on the issue or I will create a page to upload it. It's too long for this blog already.

We also got a shipment in of pig feeders for use in the indoor housing with outdoor access treatment. Because these pigs were traditionally fed on clean ground we needed to buy and build new feeders. I need to be able to weigh back all of the feed to determine weekly feed intakes and weight change. This will help us get a numerical value for what we call feed conversion which is simply the amount of feed it takes for a pig to gain a pound in body weight. Because we're going to look at economic factors to consider in organic production, the amount of pig feed it takes to grow the pigs will be an integral value in this.

Assembling pig feeders turned into a 2 day process where I ratcheted, un-ratcheted and re-ratcheted all day. The feeder material was sheet metal folded and drilled and it didn't quite all line up. To further complicate the matter, the instructions were not written in the correct order for everything to line up. It took 3 times to finally get an order of assembly which worked. At the end of the second day, covered in dirt and grease, I was finally confident that the pig feeders would work and hold up to the abuse that pigs put on everything in their pens. Hopefully the straw bedding will distract them from demolishing the feeders.

I also got to do my first pig weaning last week. I know it seems odd but I never took a swine class in undergrad and so my trip out to the farm last week turned into another great educational experience. The pig industry is very numbers oriented with records on everything. So as we weaned piglets from their mothers, we weighed them. They were doing pretty well, since some were weaning out at upper 20s. After recording weights, we sorted them into groups of similar weights so that they could grow with other pigs of similar size. This helps to prevent bigger pigs bossing the little ones around and "hogging" all of the feed.

As I mentioned before, we're also using straw in the outdoor access pigs. So while we were out there we helped put straw up in the mow. Stacking straw in the mow (pronounced like "ow" with an 'm' on the front) is hot, dusty, sticky work. We used to do a bit of it when were younger, but I haven't stacked much since high school when I stopped volunteering for sub-minimum wage work. It capped off a super long week last week and gave me sore hands which will once again harden into callouses that I lost in college. Hard work is good for the body.

We've also been doing a lot of training and sponsor recruiting for the Pelotonia. Luckily this is going to start wrapping itself up so we can just focus on the training. People have been very generous; Amanda and I are grateful for all of their support and proud to be riding on behalf of agriculture this year.

Credit to D. Sturtevant for the photo.