18 February 2010

Healthful Advice: dispatch from China

by Cecily
My mother says:

In the two months we were gone, the only piece of mail we got was a first aid/health care guide booklet from the government. (Our mailbox doesn’t have a lock that works, which is okay because we don’t get mail. I check from time to time to see if anything has come, but that almost never happens. The person who sometimes watches our lobby keeps things in our box because of the no‐ lock thing; sometimes candy and snacks, sometimes other odd bits they need to hide quickly if their supervisor comes by. At the time of writing the box has in it: someone’s gloves and some candy, cracker wrappings, some folded papers and two pens.)

Anyway, the booklet we got covers every facet of a healthy life, and tells you everything you always wanted to know, and many things that you didn’t. We got one last year aimed at newcomers to the community telling how to exercise and what to eat, but I didn’t keep it, which I later regretted; the difference is that I didn’t have a scanner then, and now I do, so I can share! It’s a good thing that I am easily entertained…

The book is a miniature masterpiece of exciting dramas, with fantastic graphic drawings to illustrate the action. It’s all in Chinese, of course, but not being able to read just makes the pictures more interesting. The heroes are a typical family who are dealing admirably with all these tragic and terrible things. The children feature as the most heroic, and the little girl seems to have the most sangfroid of them all.

It starts fairly calmly, with the grandpa having a heart attack. (I interpret this as a heart attack; although I can’t understand why the little girl is so angry at him- maybe he is drunk instead?) Obviously the father is thrown for a loop, and the mother is just upset.

Next, no problems in understanding this, some people being sick: what is causing the projectile vomiting not clear… maybe drugs for the grandma, and possibly bai jiu for the dad. (Because of the dizzy symbol above his head)

(A picture is worth a thousand words!) In the section on first aid, along with great drawings about how to bandage things up, how to splint your legs, etc; comes: How To Wrap Up A Severed Finger! What To DO With It! All in four small drawings!

Then there is a section about cleanliness that has my favorite picture. The action here is utterly mystifying to me. What on earth is she doing? Why is the toilet shaking? Probably it is about earthquake safety, but why put that with the other directions on the page, which have to do with hand‐washing and AIDS? Why is the pillow so nervous?

Also on this page is a condom being smug. This picture is ambiguous. He also seems angry.

The authors of the booklet may not realize the subtext about Chinese life that is revealed by the next chapter; I have included a little selection of the drawings about being wary of criminals‐ disturbingly, in every case the evil person is obviously a weiguoren with blond hair and a chiseled face.

Except for the lascivious Big Boy trying to get the Good Girl drunk (the booklet covers almost all aspects of a healthy life):

On almost the last page, there is this great drawing to tell how to duck stray bullets: hide behind the soda machine! (FYI: don’t worry! This doesn’t happen here very often as far as I can see) Only after I had cut it out did I see that on the other side were directions about how you can foil a bank robbery ‐by bravely sending a text message on your phone! I couldn’t salvage enough of the picture to use, though.

14 February 2010

For everyone I love who is far away from me.

by Jocelyn
(another guest post by Jocelyn)

Loretta spent the weekend with me in Ithaca.

Today, we cut up some hearts to see if we could find the love, and then we cooked and ate them. It was a combination Valentiney activity and maybe some anatomy review for me.

There was a little bit of a technical difficulty about the photographs, and so some pictures are with my computer camera and are therefore not great, while others are with Loretta's camera and will be added later.

The hearts in question were a lamb's heart and a turkey's heart, both provided to me when I bought the entire animal for cooking and eating. It turns out that in the butchering process, pretty much all of the vessels are removed, along with the right atrium, most of the left atrium, and (in the case of the turkey heart) the entire right ventricle too. So there wasn't as much anatomy to look at as I would have liked, but still some.

So before making any cuts at all, we could look inside what was left of the right atrium. We found the great cardiac vein, draining blood from the muscle of the heart itself and emptying directly into the right atrium.

This is the great cardiac vein as it empties into the right atrium.

Here I have made the course of the great cardiac vein in a dotted green line, and the toothpick stuck inside it in yellow. We could see the toothpick through the wall of the vessel, definitely.

We could also look inside the right ventricle and see what was left of the right atrioventricular valve, including the papillary muscles, the chordae tendineae, and a little bit of the valve itself.

Except that in this picture, you can only kind of see the chordae tendineae; the light appears not to have been right to see the rest.

The pulmonary arteries and whatnot were all gone, so then we moved over to the left atrium, where we could see part of the left auricle with its pectinate muscles. At this time we also found the aorta (or at least the base of it) with the coronary artery.

Then I cut open the left ventricle, which is the most exciting part of heart dissection.

We looked at the valve parts here too. You can see the muscles and whatnot a lot better on this ventricle, as well as a little bit of the pectinate muscles in the atrium.

You are probably wondering where the aortic outflow tract went; here it is! (With the toothpick stuck through it.)

Since all that was left of the turkey heart was the left ventricle, I went ahead and cut this open too. Again, the toothpick is where the blood goes out through the aorta.

Then we were done dissecting! So I cut the hearts all up.

I actually had a turkey gizzard that I cut up and put in too, because why not. They went in a skillet with butter and garlic and onion and mushrooms and red wine, and cooked for a long time on low heat.

Happy Valentine's Day!

11 February 2010

10 February 2010

Dear Constitution Gods,

by Cecily
This is getting stupid.


your friend,

06 February 2010

Not that I would leave my house anyway

by Cecily
but it's refreshing to have such a good excuse.

very snowcovered porch/alley