Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Cambodia Update

As some of you may know, I spent a couple of weeks in Northern Cambodia in the fall of 2008. During this time, I met Svay Savong who is the founder and director of a school which provides free English instruction to children. You can check out his website at http://www.savong.com.

One afternoon, I travelled with Savong to a remote village. Everyone came out to see me and greeted my arrival with enthusiastic smiles. Apparently, I was the first foreigner to visit them and they all made me feel incredibly welcome.

Cambodia is very poor and terribly corrupt. There wasn't much to this village except for a few palm leaf shacks and some clotheslines. There was no running water, no toilets and the drinking water came from this hole in the ground.


Amazing isn't it? Next time you turn on that faucet, you should feel very grateful!

With Savong translating, I told the villagers that I would help them build some pumps so that they could have a fresh supply of drinking water. After being off work for several months, I didn't know how I was going to get the money but after I gave them my word, I knew I couldn't let them down.

After I returned to the United States, I posted my pictures on my blog and asked friends and family to help donate to my Cambodian Good Water fund. It didn't take long to raise sufficient money for three pumps, with each one costing about $200. I was very happy to tell Savong the good news.

Unfortunately, he didn't have good news for me.

The village was now gone. A wealthy man had hired some people to clear the land. The villagers were dispersed and nobody knew where they were now living.

Although it made me very sad, it wasn't much of a surprise. In Cambodia, people with money can do what they want even if it means clearing a village and letting entire families fend for their survival. I can only hope that they are all doing well.

As I had already marked the money to make pumps, I asked Savong if he could find other families that needed fresh water. It didn't take long to find them in a country where it is estimated that two thirds of the people have no access to clean drinking water.

I sent him my digital camera so he could document the construction. He also told me that he would get some signs made to thank me and my co-donors for the generous gifts.

Here is one of the signs. Although I wanted him to put an American flag on it since some of my supporters were American, he wasn't able to get that done.

I hope they don't mistake me for the Dr. Phil on tv! With his money, he could probably buy the entire country of Cambodia.

If you ever go to Cambodia, you can see these pumps all over the countryside. Next to each one is a sign indicating who put up the money for their construction. I am very proud to have made a contribution to this beautiful country with such great people!

It didn't take long to build the pumps.




And here are the lucky families who can now get clean fresh water. I'm sure these pumps will make an enormous difference in their lives.




Savong also runs a small orphanage. Since he spends a lot of money just trying to feed the kids, I offered to help build a bathroom and toilets which were badly needed.

This week they started construction and hopefully by next week, they will be done.



I want to thank everyone who helped make these projects a reality. I realize that our economy isn't very good and Cambodia seems like a world away, but I can assure you that even the smallest contribution has made a big difference in these people's lives.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

More updates later. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why I hate Dr. Nick Trout




As some of you may know, I'm putting together a book proposal about my veterinary experiences. I've been planning it since last summer and I'm finally finished.

Now it's the waiting time. Waiting to see if anyone is interested.

Hello? Anyone?

As part of my proposal, I had to find out about my competition. Books that are similar. Books that someone might pick up instead of mine and for that, I had to do a little research.

I came across a book by Dr. Nick Trout called Tell me Where it Hurts. Broadway Books. 2008.

It tells the story of one imaginary day at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston where Dr. Trout is employed as a staff surgeon. Although the day is fictionalized, the cases are quite real.

Why do I hate Dr. Trout? Because this is one very well written book and I'm just a little bit jealous!

Dr. Trout does a great job at leading us through his chaotic and stressful day. He starts off with a bloated Shepherd at 3 a.m. and has to deal with frustrated owners, perplexing cases and inexperienced interns.

One of the main reasons why I loved this book so much was because Dr. Trout is able to convey in a very eloquent way what being a veterinarian is like. To me, it was very comforting to know that someone else feels the same way I do.

One of the most important lessons I have learned has been to quietly and privately savor every small victory, every subtle moment of success, every surgical decision that went my way, every animal that leaves the hospital feeling better, to wallow in it and to file it away on a dusty, neglected shelf in a tiny library in your mind. It is not about being self-absorbed, it is about learning to absorb the professional and emotional bumps and bruises that fill our working days because for every impossible fracture that comes back together, every cancer in remission, every paralyzed dachshund that scampers out of your office, you are only seconds away from a dozen anxious phone calls, oozing incisions, dirty margins, and bones that prefer not to heal. These are not disastrous, they are not failures, they are a normal consequence of what we do, but somehow their impact has more weight and longevity, like a loudmouth or a bully shouting over the fading whisper of success and lingering like an echo.

This book is worth checking out if you want to read about the challenges that a veterinarian can face in his/her daily duties. There are a lot of emotional highs but as Dr. Trout points out, there are some deep lows too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bikini Fashion Show

There are certain perks to living in Los Angeles.

You don't need to smoke to get your lungs filled with carcinogens.

You have plenty of time to admire the beautiful scenery while you are stuck in traffic.

And occasionally, you get invited to pretty cool events like a bikini fashion show in Hollywood.

A friend of mine has a very slick website business called Vonderland Studios (http://www.vonderland.com.) They recently completed the website for our vet clinic. Check it out at http://www.szantovet.com.

They also did a website for a clothing company called Diane's beachwear. You can have a peek at their sexy stuff at http://www.dianesbeachwear.com.

To launch the new website, Diane's put on a fashion show in Hollywood. A group of us were invited as VIPs which meant that we could drink free vodka for an hour.

Anything (ANYTHING!) for free is a good thing these days. Even house vodka. I wasn't complaining especially when I ordered a vodka/redbull after the open bar closed and it cost me $15.

Ouch!

It was good to get out of my apartment, listen to some good music, see the beautiful people and indulge in a little alcohol.


Does this look like a fire hazard to you?

Here is a look at some of the designs. I had my crappy camera so the quality isn't as good as it should have been.

In other words, no telephoto!


video


And here are the Diane girls. You like?

It's already summer in SoCal. Get it while it's hot.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

BMW commerical

This short is fairly old but it is still one of my favorites.

For some reason, I wanted to watch it again today.

If you haven't seen it, enjoy.

Dusty is stylin'

Dusty got a new hair cut today.

It is a faux-hawk.

I think it makes him look younger and more ferocious.

After his spa-day, he came home and pigged out on a large bowl of food.

And so far, no barfing!

He's sleeping/snoring/dreaming right now.

Very content.