Monday, April 30, 2007

The Kentucky Derby & the Mint Julep




It is that time of year again when we can all get together and celebrate the event that is The Kentucky derby. We have done a Derby Party every year since 1986 and I'm getting ready early. This means that it's time to make the "Julep" ( this word has no pleural, you don't have "juleps" ).
Here is a great snipet from "A Small Boy's Heroes", Lanterns on the Levee, the autobiography of William Alexander Percy (Louisiana State University Press, 1988).

Father and General Catchins and Captain McNeilly and Captain Wat Stone and Mr. Everman would forgather every so often on our front gallery. These meeting must habitually have taken place in summer, because I remember Mother would be in white, looking very pretty, and would immediately set about making a mint julep for the gentlemen - no hors d'oeuvres, no sandwiches, no cocktails, just a mint julep. After the first long swallow - really a slow and noiseless suck, because the thick crushed ice comes against your teeth and the ice must be kept out and the liquor let in - Cap Mac would say: "Very fine, Camille, you make the best julep in the world." She probably did. Certainly her juleps had nothing in common with those hybrid concoctions one buys in bars the world over under that name. It would have been sacrilege to add lemon, or a slice of orange or of pineapple, or one of these wretched maraschino cherries.

First you needed excellent bourbon whisky; rye or Scotch would not do at all. Then you put half an inch of sugar in the bottom of the glass and merely dampened it with water. Next, very quickly - and here is the trick in the procedure - you crushed your ice, actually powdered it, preferably in a towel with a wooden mallet, so quickly that it remained dry, and slipping two sprigs of fresh mint against the inside of the glass, you crammed the ice in right to the brim, packing it with your hand. Last you filled the glass, which apparently had no room left for anything else, with bourbon, the older the better, and grated a bit of nutmeg on the top.

The glass immediately frosted and you settled back in your chair for a half an hour of sedate cumulative bliss. Although you stirred the sugar at the bottom, it never all melted, therefore at the end of the half hour there was left a delicious mess of ice and mint and whisky which a small boy was allowed to consume with calm rapture. Probably the anticipation of this phase of a julep was what held me on the outskirts of these meetings rather than the excitement of the discussion, which often I did not understand.

At last years...and I think they will do it again this year, you can purchase a $1000 julep. This includes Woodford Reserve Bourbon, a gold plated cup, Ice flown in from a Glacier in the Arctic circle, Fresh Mint flown in from Morroco and sugar from the South Pacific. The proceeds go to the retired Throughbred Foundation. Mine are good and I serve them for free.....maybe I should start charging.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Watch "Foal Care" May 7th on RFD channel



There is supposed to be a great program on TV this Monday night. May 7th at 8pm on the RFD channel.
Dish network channel 231,
Direct TV channel 379,
This program will feature a call in segment where you can ask Dr Wendy Vaala questions about Broodmare and Foal care. I'm not sure if there will be any internet broadcast or if it will be offered at other times. I will try to watch it and provide comments since we are in the breeding/foaling season right now.....it's good to be ready for those foals born now and those that are on the way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Is Bin Laden Dead....finally



Today there is a report that Osama was responsible for planning the suicide attack on the Baghram airbase in Afghanistan while the Vice President was there. To me, that doesn't seem like the well planned attacks OBL was known for. Baghram is HUGE, many kilometers around, it's close in size to the University of Florida campus. I guy in a truck loaded with explosives was stopped at the main gate where he exploded. It killed 14 people including 1 US soldier. There was never any chance that this could succeed.....it was desperation, not inspiration. Still this is what they are telling the Arab world "He is drawing plans in Iraq and Afghanistan ... Praise God he is alive," Mullah Dadullah told Al Jazeera television. I think he is dead....Praise God, so do the Saudi's
"In September, a French newspaper quoted French foreign intelligence service as saying the Saudi intelligence were convinced bin Laden had died of typhoid in Pakistan in August". I just hope somebody has pictures. Anyway, with so called spokesmen making these claims it sounds suspiciously like Russian propaganda from the 80's......Chairman Andropov has a mild cold.....
uuuuuuggghhh.....Chairman Chernenko also had a mild cold.
Anybody got a tissue?




Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Another School shooting.....another Anti-Depressant


I'm sure everyone is as stunned as I was yesterday to hear about the murders at Va-Tech. Today we learn more about what happened and some about those involved. The young 18 year old girl that the killer was obsessed with, the Israeli professor that blocked the doorway after he was shot so his students could escape, and a 23 year old South Korean student on Anti-depressants. Not to get me wrong here, I'm a firm believer in poly-pharmacy, I'm an Internist after all and I don't get started until I'm using at least 3 drugs.My mentor in my residency Dr. Bill Rebhun would always chastise me by saying " Weldon, if you have to use 3 medications, you don't know what the hell is going on with your patient". I think he may have been right. Neurochemistry has always been a complex topic for me to try and get my head around and I feel that the complex interactions of various drugs may be something that we need to be aware of in these cases. There is a link(although small) between SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re uptake Inhibitors) anti-depressants and increased suicides published in the American Journal of Psychiatry . Some Doctors have suggested that these kids just weren't medicated enough and it was under dosing in those cases. It used to be that when people were suffering from depression they went on suicide watch.....not killing sprees. Yesterday, another kid on Prozac kills a large group of people and then himself, not the other way around. A look back at some of the more notorious cases may show us something......

1989 – Joseph Wesbecker walked into a printing plant in Louisville, Kentucky and killed eight co-workers and then himself. Mr. Wesbecker was taking Prozac, which had recently been approved.

1998 – 14-year-old Kip Kinkle, who was on Ritalin and Prozac, killed his parents and then went on a shooting spree at his Springfield, Oregon, high school, killing two and injuring 22

1999 – Eric Harris, one of the teen gunmen in the infamous Columbine massacre in 1999, had been prescribed Luvox, an antidepressant similar to Prozac. The two boys entered the school with an arsenal of weaponry killed 12 people with many more injured before taking their own lives.

2001 – Christopher Pittman killed his grandparents while taking Zoloft, another antidepressant similar to Prozac. His lawyers faulted the drug, but a jury in Charleston, S.C., convicted him of murder in February.

This could be a chicken or the egg scenario......is it the mental illness or the mental illness+meds. I recently read that one concern about anti-depressant therapy may be a partial dissociation from reality and perhaps a loss of a feeling of consequence. It may also be that these people were just evil or it was just the mental illness . I worry that there could be an unintended consequence to our wide use of some of these meds. It's something to think about.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Horse stuck in mud- "Terror Alert : Elevated"


No ,it's not the same one, there seems to be a rash of these things . Either that or it's a devilish Al Queda plot. I thought it was funny looking at the headline and the "terror alert" crawler . It is strange that yet another horse gets stuck in the mud, although this one was in Texas. "Champ" owned by Robin Harpster was found in the morning after wandering into at pond. A back hoe was used to remove a lot of the mud and make a clear track that the horse could be hauled through. Champ...while exhausted , appeared OK. No age was given but I would speculate that he was older , like the horse in the previous post.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Horse dies after getting stuck in mud


A 33 year old horse died this week near St Augustine after getting loose and falling into a retention pond. It appears the horse " Bunk"was in the pond for awhile and became stuck up to his chest in the mud. The owner June McDonald found him the next morning and while trying to help him up the steep bank...became stuck herself. St Johns Fire/Rescue was able to free Ms. McDonald and then worked on getting Bunk out. It required a dozen rescuers to pull him free, however Bunk was apparently very debilitated by the stress and combined with his age he was unable to rise. After several attempts he collapsed and died.
We always hear how dangerous open retention ponds are for kids, it can be just as dangerous for horse, particularly old ones that are weaker. A steep slick side can be almost impossible for them to climb. Not a good way to go.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Real LARGE Animal medicine


Today I had a chance to do some work at the Jax Zoo.....they really do a nice job there. There are two really superb Veterinarians on staff there, Dr. Andy Tier and Dr Nick Kapustin. I get to do the sonograms on cases that need more imaging. I had to look at a Zebra with a heart murmur that was being shipped to another zoo. Unlike the horses that I usually work with , zebras are NOT very cooperative and must be immobilized. This allows for a very good echocardiogram. In this case there wasn't much of a problem and the zebra should be fine to ship out. After the Zebra we went over to the Elephant house for some real large animal medicine. Due to the size of an elephant and equipment limitations you can only image tissue no deeper than 24cm ( with 5cm being just the skin). I was looking at the bowel wall for signs of any increased thickness. Even though I was behind the protective bars ,an elephant can still use it's trunk to reach around and grab you. The thought of being pulled through the bars did not appeal to me at all ,so when Dr Kapustin grabbed my arm and pulled me back when I wasn't watching the movement of the trunk......I was very greatful. I became preoccupied with the sonogram and did'nt notice that the elephant wasn't thrilled with what I was doing. I did get to make up by feeding her some fruit and pieces of bread .So hopefully when I do another study she won't be so upset with me. Now it's back to the smaller large animals for me.