Avenger? I hardly know her! – A Schedule

My current schedule that I hopefully will adhere to since I did kick-butt in Spokane as promised:

May 1 – complete all research on Integrative Medicine

  • update my bibliography
  • fix (create) the front page/Home/About page

May 8 – have at least 8 pages written towards final thesis

  • have all photos uploaded to website
  • learn about different sorts of tools I can use for the website to make it more appealing.

May 15 – have at least 15 pages written towards final thesis

  • fill in all the sections on website

May 20 – submit final paper and website

My Site’s Critique and Audience: Do I have any?

My site has not yet been formally critiqued, but I know it is quite bare and needs more substance. I need to write more blog posts, upload my work and photos and organize it better. The only great part about it is the Ayurveda section – I need to fix all the other sections and make them more meaningful.

The audience for my blog would be – I hope – those interested in Medieval Studies, Holistic Medicine, the Future of Medicine, South Asia, Western Europe or just anyone who’s curious about these time periods and ancient places. Those who I’ve referred to view my site for critique have been a vast range from colleagues/peers to advisors to professors to family members. I think all of them have the most fun with my Ayurveda posts trying to figure out what constitutions they are and what they can do to improve their health. That in part is a good and bad thing. I’m so glad people enjoy that aspect of my site – but that is currently the only thing on my website. I need to work on putting up photos and adding more blog posts. Hopefully, then, I can promote my website more for people to explore and learn from.

NCUR: A Guide

NCUR 2015 in Spokane was interesting and hectic, in a good way, to say the least. Spokane exists in a state run by Seattle and in such a good enough proximity to Portland to be dubbed as “hipster” – especially with stores named Boo Radley and Atticus and a mechanical, garbage-eating goat.

I started off the journey to NCUR hungry and came home hungry – I’ll explain. Leaving to go to Spokane at 7 am in the morning meant waking up at 3 am to be at the airport in time. Hungry is an understatement. Nevertheless, Spokane is gorgeous – a great combination of Twilight and Bumblef*ck-nowhere. There is a mechanical, garbage-eating goat and an immense amount of charm around the town that makes it hard to leave.

Anyway, NCUR. It was crowded and a bit hectic as there were not that many buses to bring students to the campus. This may have been the reason why a lot of students did not get to make their scheduled presentations. Also, who you get placed with in a room is a bit strange as well. Sometimes there was not a cohesive theme in a room that you could have someone talking about internships and another person talking about religion in South Asia in the same room.

My presentation was entitled “The Future of Medicine Lies in the Past: the Promise of Ayurveda and Medieval Medicine.” I was placed in a room with a young gentleman talking about the modernization of Japan, a young woman discussing the importance of Cicero and another young man discussing the Science Wars. I was quite nervous about my presentation, especially since there were about 25 people who came to my talk that I didn’t know. I finished in about 10 minutes and had about 12 minutes worth of questions. I knew someone would find my talk a bit controversial and be quite upset, but it was overall a wonderful experience that filled me with hope that there would be people who believed that the medicines of the past can help the future of medicine.

Advice for future NCUR attendees?

Have your presentation – or whatever material you need – prepared at least two days before the day you’re supposed to present. Don’t be like me and question life and computers at 3 am in the morning when you can’t seem to get anything done and technology has conspired against you.

Get a good night’s sleep. You don’t want to yawn during your talk or drone off because you can’t muster enough enthusiasm for your own talk!

Be on time. This may be hard due to transportation, but try to be on site at least 2 hours before your talk in case of anything! Life is so mysterious.

Be Calm. No one knows more about what you’re going to present than you. They’re asking you questions because they want to know more about what you’re saying. Take a deep breath and know that you control the room. Yes, there will be those who just want to antagonize you. But, as teen icon TSwift says, just shake them off. Also, people will just come and go during your talk – SHAKE. THEM. OFF.

Have fun. Really, just have fun! This is a once in a lifetime experience in a city you most likely won’t ever go back to. Enjoy yourself.

New Schedule before NCUR

This is my mandatory, no-holds-bar-schedule before NCUR. Here goes nothing!

February 4                               Finish Research on Alternative Medicine.

– When did “Alternative Medicine” start being called Alternative Medicine? What does it include? What is its growth in America?


February 6                                          History of Ayurveda Medicine

– Start with the beginning. Sum up the Vedas. How did this practice form? Where did it originate? When did it start?


February 13                                        History of Ayurveda Medicine

– Monitor it throughout history. From 500-1500. What was happening to it? Was it changing? Who was visiting the countries practicing it? Was it spreading?


February 20                                         History of Ayurveda Medicine

– Where is it now? Who is practicing it? Has it changed drastically?


February 27                                         Finish Ayurveda Medicine

– Spend this week finishing the last touches on this section.


March 6                                               “Alternative Medicines”

– Look into other “Alternative Medicines” around the world: Latin American shamans, African spirit healers, Chinese Acupuncture and Herbs. Write brief (2 paragraphs) on these three forms.


March 13                                                Medieval to Modern Medicine

– With the paper on its history – document how Medieval Medicine started to die out. What happened during the 16th-18th centuries that made people disregard Medieval Medicine entirely?


March 20                                             Modern Medicine

– Extremely brief history on Western Modern Medicine. When did it start becoming “Western?” When did everyone start to disregard other medical forms?


March 27                                        Modern and Alternative


– When did Modern Medicine start to integrate Alternative medicine into Western hospitals? Possible commentary on this.


April 3                                                             Thesis.

– Have the whole thesis done.


April 10                                                           NCUR

– Go to NCUR and kill it.


Medieval Healers in Action?

I must admit to something… I’ve never seen the Princess Bride. I know, I know – c’est fou. How can a future medievalist never have seen this movie? But, as I’m focusing more on Medieval medicine these days, I wanted to find interpretations of medieval healers. The first thing I was recommended to view was Billy Crystal’s performance in the Princess Bride. If you haven’t seen the movie, like me, please feel free to watch the link below

I found it so interesting that medieval healers were seen as old, delusional people. Miracle Max’s home/work place is murky and dirty filled with strange instruments and bottled herbs. His way of healing the hero (the unconscious man I assume is the hero of the movie) is unorthodox. His babblings are fast-paced and almost delirious.

Is this how the present views medieval practices?

I must admit that I get a old giggle when people say, “how positively medieval?” I think that’s hilarious because most of the time the speaker actually wouldn’t know much about the Middle Ages except, perhaps, what he/she has seen on Game of Thrones.

I just wanted to write this post in order to go back on it later and paint a clearer, more accurate picture of medieval healers later on.


Beavers here, Beavers there, Beavers everywhere!

When you think of beavers, what do you think about? Well, they are DAM interesting.

Terrible pun, yes, but since I have been posting more and more about Ayurvedic Medicine, I thought that I’d write about Medieval medicine for this week – particularly medieval animals.

Beavers are such funny creatures. We mostly know them today as building dams and having cool tails. But, did you know that they were most coveted during the Middle Ages for their genitalia? According medieval bestiaries, compendiums of beasts full of tales and allegories about animals found in the Middle Ages,

“The beaver is hunted for its testicles, which are valued for making medicine. When the beaver sees that it cannot escape from the hunter, it bites off its testicles and throws them to the hunter, who then stops pursuing the beaver. If another hunter chases the beaver, it shows the hunter that it has already lost its testicles and so is spared.”

The allegory/moral of the story?

“If a man wishes to live chastely he must cut off all his vices and throw them from him into the face of the devil. The devil, seeing that the man has nothing belonging to him, will leave the man alone.”

So, why would people want to eat a beaver’s testicles? That doesn’t sound so appetizing…

Well, here’s why! Beaver testicles and vagina follicles can actually help with a few medical conditions because of the salicin in them from the willow trees the beavers eat turns into a salicylic-like acid like what is found in aspirin. This can provide pain-relief and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Here’s another interesting, if not more modern, fact about beavers. During the 17th century, the Catholic Church declared beavers to be a fish, thus making them acceptable to eat on Fridays during Lent.

Aren’t beavers just the coolest?


The quotes are from this website that has an amazing illumination of dogs with beaver testicles in their mouths: http://bestiary.ca/beasts/beast152.htm.


Reflection, Reflecting, Reflexes

This week marks the half of the semester. Looking back on it, this was a crazy semester for me. Spending about nine months abroad, six and a half in Paris and two in Kathmandu, really changed my perspective on life – made it more realistic so to speak. But, because I was away for so long, I came back behind in so many national deadlines and schoolwork.


Looking back at my syllabus, I realize that it is absolutely bare – and that’s for a reason. I only had a vague idea about what I wanted to do because I lived in the countries that experienced these respective forms of medicine (Medieval and Ayurvedic) and I was just so inspired. Now, looking back on it, it’s a monumental task recording the history of the respective medical forms and what they entail.


Do I think it’s feasible? Absolutely. Now that I can solely focus on my schoolwork, I can focus each month on a specific form of medicine and what it entails.


Reflecting on this semester, and this class particularly thus far, I feel like I did not start off great as well, and the fault is mine entirely. I’ve tested my limits so much since high school, and I should have realized that I’d be tired, not only jetlagged, at the start of the semester. And all those fellowship applications in tandem with schoolwork? Not the greatest combination.


So, as I always say, here goes nothing!

The Number 33

Just for fun, I’ve decided to read The Lord of the Rings, as I’ve never finished it as a child. And upon reading the first few pages, with its wonderful prose and dialogue (I mean, the word “eleventy-first”? Perfection), one thing stuck out to me. The age of maturity as a Hobbit is 33. Thirty-three. Hmm…


Many medievalists hold JRR Tolkein as one of the greatest medievalists of all time – even though he was a philologist, which is the branch of knowledge that deals with the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages. Nevertheless, I want to look into this number, 33.


Jesus Christ was recorded to have died in the year 33 AD, being born in the year 0 AD. So, he died at the age of 33.


Coincidence that a book written by a man with a great medieval background would write that the age of maturity was reached when a man turned 33? Probably not.


But, this number, this idea, is inherent in comic books.


Let’s take the great and wonderful Superman of DC Comics. People say that medieval ideas aren’t in modern-day writings – but let’s look at this closely.


In many comic books, Clark Kent started to really be his alter ego of Superman when he was 30-ish. They don’t really ever say his age. So, at the age of 30, he started to save the world… Okay.


So, Kal-El (Clark Kent), was sent by his father, Jor-El, to save and lead the planet of Earth to a better future…


Hmm… now, where have I heard this before? Saving Earth and the humans? Sent by the father? Really coming into his own at the age of 30…


I mean, the ideas and principles of Christianity were arguably determined during the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, correct, but its proliferation and spread throughout Western Europe and it lasting effect is all due to what happened during the Middle Ages…


I’m not stating anything but… this number – 33. It’s pretty darn medieval.