Saturday, January 28, 2012

Anatomy Is Now My Life :)

I realize it has been a while since I last posted.  Life has been crazy.  Two and a half weeks ago I started anatomy and I have been going no stop ever since.  I have been reading and diagramming up a storm.  Here are a few of my charts summing up arterial, venous and nervous connections in the thorax.  At this point I have these charts pretty well memorized, and I have been creating similar diagrams for the abdomen.

Thorax Arterial Flow
Thorax Venous Flow
Thorax Nerves
Anatomy lecture consists of a combination of learning anatomical structures along with an explanation of the developmental processes involved in creating those structures.  We also have lab time where we dissect the cadavers so that we can visualize the structures.  It is extremely interesting and there are tons of things about it that I would love to write about, I just have no time. :P

On a random side not, I did finish the angel project that I was working on over winter break, I just never got around to posting it.

Back to reading. :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Squirrel Resurrection

Three years ago my family discovered a dead squirrel in our basement.  It was unclear how the squirrel got in, or exactly how the squirrel died, but it was in good condition when we found it.  So I convinced my dad to help me bury the squirrel so  that I could get a complete squirrel skeleton.  We wrapped the body of the squirrel in the black mesh that you put down under gardens to prevent weed growth so that the little bones would not get lost.  Next we dug a small hole out behind the shed and put the make shift mesh bag in.  After covering the body with dirt, we covered the burial with a large paving stone.

Today I dug up that squirrel!

Can you feel the anticipation??
Although the squirrel was probably fully skeletonized two years ago, I had completely forgotten about it, and usually when I am home for winter break the ground it frozen so it would be very difficult to recover the squirrel.  This winter has been surprisingly mild, so I was actually able to dig up the squirrel and sit outside for several hours sorting the skeletal remains out of the mass of dirt that has accumulated in the mesh. 

Big reveal!!! ;)

Ooooo, teeny tiny squirrel bones
After sorting out the bones from the dirt clods and roots, I was left with a nearly complete squirrel skeleton.  I was even able to collect most of the phalanges and a good number of carpals and tarsals.  I will need to look for a squirrel reference book, since I am not familiar with how many carpals and tarsals a squirrel should have.  Also, I learned that squirrels only have four toes on their front paws, though they do have five on their hind paws.  I was wondering why I only recovered four sets of metacarpals even after extensive searching so it was exciting to discover that I had actually collected them all.

Fingers and toes!!!
Ribs and verts

One interesting thing about this particular squirrel is that it was not fully grown.  I can determine this by looking at the epiphyseal fusion.  Epiphyses are the ends of the bones and form separately from the diaphysis or shaft of the element.  The epiphyses form via secondary ossification centers that are disconnected from the shaft.  As an individual grows, the shaft undergoes longitudinal growth (increase in length) reducing the space between the shaft and ends.  Eventually the portions meet along the metaphysis or growth plate and fusion occurs.  When the diaphysis and epiphysis initially come together a line can be seem at the point of union.  Over time this line is obliterated and it is impossible to see where the portions joined.  In this case, the distal femur (top of knee joint), proximal tibia (bottom of knee) and proximal humerus (at shoulder) are all unfused.  Furthermore, the fusion lines are still visible on the distal radius and ulna (wrist). 

After a little more cleaning, and research into squirrel skeletal development I will hopefully have a better idea of what happened to this little guy.  :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


This is one of the coolest feats in textile creation that I have ever seen.  Yes, an anatomically correct knitted human skeleton!  First of all, WOW.  The detail of the skeleton is incredible.  I am impressed with the amount of knitting as well as the accuracy of the skeleton.  I have no idea how to knit, but I can crochet and thinking about the size and number of stitches that went into the skeleton project is overwhelming.  On top of that, the design and construction of each element, from the long bones to the skull to each individual tarsal, carpal and phalanx is very accurate, especially given that the medium use is yarn. 

It really is astounding.  I have a strong desire to create a similar project in crochet.  I realize it would be insane and that I don't really have the necessary free time to devote to such an endeavor, but maybe I can make separate bones over time and eventually form a skeleton.  It could be fun to create patterns for all the skeletal elements of the body. 

Skull embedded in wall (Capela dos Ossos)
After discovering a skeleton formed completely from yarn, I decided to look for other artists who created pieces inspired by the human skeleton.  Here are a couple that I was impressed with.

I like this piece by Monaux because the skull is embedded in the outline for the design.  It reminds me of the optical illusion designs like "All is Vanity" by C. Allan Gilbert (pictured below).

"All is Vanity"
While it is extremely unlikely that I would ever decide to get a tattoo, I have to admit that this invisible UV skeleton arm tattoo would be glorious.

I am also impressed with this sculpy model of a human skeleton.  The skeleton is beautiful and anatomically correct.  The musculature is also very detailed and looks correct, although I don't know as much about soft tissues.  Maybe after gross anatomy next semester I will be able to better appreciate the entire model.  I can't wait.  :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stencils, Spray paint, and the Challenges of Large Sticky Surfaces

So far I have only transformed one of my designs into a spray paint stencil.  But it actually isn't too difficult.

First you have to choose a design and decide how large you want the stencil to be.  Since I only had access to a regular printer I designed my stencil to be divided into printer paper size sections (8."5x11").  This way I could enlarge the image, print it on multiple pages, and then tape all the pages together for the final stencil.  For this stencil I divided the image into six panels, then I taped them together along the seems.  I then covered the entire stencil with clear contact paper to make the stencil stronger so that it wouldn't rip when it was painted.  The total size of this stencil came out to be 17"x33".

When making the stencil, you need to consider how many different colors you want to use.  For each color you will need to cut a different stencil layer, except for the background which can be sprayed on as a solid coat over the entire canvas.  For this particular stencil, I cut two stencil layers, one for the white and one for the black.  To cut out the stencils I used an exacto knife to get clean edges and remove complex shapes.  For the white stencil, I cut out the basic outline of the entire girl.  So it was just a silhouette without any of the internal detail.  For the black stencil, I cut out all the black areas but left the white areas uncut.  One thing that you must take into account when creating the initial stencil is that you cannot have any white areas that are completely surrounded by black areas, otherwise the entire area will be cut out and be painted black when you spray the stencil.

Print of black layer only
Another thing you should be aware of when buying spray paint is that you must be over 18.  While I am old enough to legally buy spray paint, every time I get more I end up getting carded.  I tried both Krylon and Rustolium paint, and so far I like the Rustolium spray paint a lot better.  The Krylon paint is extremely watery and has a much greater tendency to run everywhere.  This might be due to my poor spray painting technique, but I have had better luck with the Rustolium.  These are both fairly cheap spray paint brands, but they are nice because they can be found at a local hardware store or Walmart.  I am new to spray painting, so I have not yet looked into better quality paints.

To create the final piece I first sprayed the entire canvas with red paint.  I tried to do this evenly, not holding the spray paint too close to the canvas, but it was tricky since I was spray painting outside and the wind would catch the paint if I was too far away from the canvas (this was a problem because my housemate warned me that if I accidentally got paint on his house I would be in trouble :P).

Also, be sure to lay down paper or plastic under the canvas because grass and little bits of debris can become stuck to the wet spray paint.  Once you paint the canvas bring it inside immediately so that it can dry.  Although the paint dried fairly quickly on the brown paper, it dries much slower on the canvas.  For my first print I attempted to spray the three stencils leaving only ten minutes drying time.  This did not work out very well and I ended up pulling up some of the previously sprayed areas when I tried to remove the stencil.  For my second attempt I let the paint dry for about a day in between layers and I didn't have problem with the stencils sticking or damaging the previously painted layers.

Since the canvas is 24"x36" the stencil did not cover the entire canvas.  The problem with this is that the overspray would get on any uncovered area.  Spray paint goes EVERYWHERE!!!  To fix this be sure to cover all area of canvas that you do not when colored. 

One thing that I like about the spray painted version of my designs is that they never come out exactly the same.  For example, the stencils don't line up exactly the same or I over spray too much black or white in different areas creating a unique look even though I'm using the same stencil.  Although I do like the clean lines and boarders generated in photoshop, there is something nice about the imperfections as well.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the night before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

T-rex Christmas Card :)

But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

Malachim: Macabre and Majestic Messengers

With Christmas fast approaching I have been seeing holiday angels everywhere.  Now don't get me wrong, those angels are great, but it got me thinking about the insufficient representation of angels of death or even warrior angels.  Anyway, I decided to design a few angels of my own.

The first angel is more of a grim reaper.  She is carrying a large scythe and there is a human skull lying in the darkness ahead of her.  The second angel is a bit less macabre, even though she is also depicted without color.  Her hand is cupping a rose blossom, but the petals are still being blown away by the wind.

I created these designs in photoshop and I think they would make a cool stencils.  Sure, it would be a pain in the neck to cut out, but it would be awesome as a full size mural.  I would need to modify some parts of the designs so that I don't have any white areas completely encased in black, otherwise the entire piece would be removed when I cut out the black part.  I would also have to make them quite large since the designs are complex, and if they are too small it would be very difficult to cut out the detail in the wings and folds of the dresses.  Furthermore, when I started spray painting it all the little tiny points would curl up, and it would be impossible to get them to sit flat against the canvas.

That begin said, I would love to see them together in a mural of sorts.  Though looking at the combined design I think possibly there should be a third panel.

Also, while I was working on the project my sister started playing the song "We are Young" by Fun constantly, and I have had it stuck in my head throughout the angel making process.  Now whenever I look at the designs, the song starts playing in my head.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Mold Fail

In order to understand the following e-mail, you should probably be aware that I am a pack rat and I have a high tolerance for clutter.  My housemate, X*, does not.  X* is one of the most organized and and ridiculously intense cleaners I have ever met.  My second housemate, Y*, is tidy as well, though not quite as intense as X*.  Anyway, yesterday I received this e-mail from my housemate.  I realize that my intense, fridge cleaning housemate has a point, and justifiably it would not be fun to be the one cleaning out the fridge, but this e-mail was hilarious.  I had to stop reading several times because I was laughing so hard. 

*names have been changed to letters to protect the identities of the two offending housemates ;)

Last night I took advantage of both of you leaving for the holidays and performed the fridge's yearly cleaning, and I have to say that you two are disgusting and I cannot believe I share a fridge with either of you.  Y*, the food you told me I could eat if it looked like it would go bad before you returned had all already gone bad.  Those were Thanksgiving leftovers!  Z*, I understand why you would not want to finish those prepackaged hard boiled eggs after trying a couple, but why would you leave the still open package in your drawer and how long ago was that?!  These are just a couple of examples of the many repugnant odors and colorful molds I discovered last night.  Also, last year I kept items with long shelf lives, e.g. anything vinegar based, even if they were a few months past their expiration date, but this year, rather than wonder if any of these items were still good one year and a few months past their expiration date, I just threw them out because they obviously are not being eaten.  This includes the salad dressing, which has been in the fridge since before Z* moved in, that X* wanted to keep incase he ever started eating salad, and a jar of pickles in the back of Z's* shelf that expired in June which she must have brought with her when she moved in because all my pickled food, which I bought this year, isn't dated to expire until 2014.  Both of your shelves are nearly empty now because you both had more spoiled food then edible food on them.  So like I said, you two are disgusting, my nose is scarred, and I want my own fridge.  Merry Christmas.


Since I do not have any pictures of the fridge cleaning incident, I decided instead to share another interesting micro organism story.  Can you identify the shape of the bacterial colonies in this picture?  Here's a hint, the cut off words say "kiss plate."

Yes, all those little white blobs are bacteria that came from my lips and the tip of my nose.  A little creepy.  The bacteria are growing in a gel medium that was placed in an incubator for several days so that the colonies could flourish.  This experiment was for a biology 101 lab looking at micro organisms and antibiotics.  It is frightening to think about all the micro organisms surrounding us everyday, but luckily most are harmless pass us by completely unnoticed.

Hopefully X* won't be too mad by the time we all get back from our holiday traveling.  I will have to get him a nice gift, something without any multi-colored mold.