You Dirty Rat

Rat. It’s a dirty word. Because they are thought to be dirty animals. They are the purveyors of disease. By carrying fleas with the Death Plague they are single handedly accused of wiping out one third of Europe’s population during the Dark Ages. And there’s always that negative connotation that comes with the environments in which they live. They are seen as sewer dwellers. We abhor them for finding joy in living in filth and excrement. Personally their tails just freak me out. And for no logical reason either.

I am a monkey that consumes pig!

Last class meeting was beast, literally, as we were able to discuss our inner spirit animal. My spirit animal is the monkey as assigned by the Chinese Zodiac. It was interesting exploring and gaining more insight about monkeys and what herbs relate to the animal.  Many of these herbs are ones that I have not heard about and have very interesting names, like motherwort. When I first saw this name, it reminded me of Harry Potter. One of the herbs that I found surprising at first related to monkey was ephedra. Ephedra is known to be a drug, which is why I found it also amusing to be related to my spirit animal. As I thought more about it, I felt that it does make sense since I think of monkeys as exploratory animals and with being curious they might stumble upon and ingest ephedra. 

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We also learned about pigs, and how much of materials made by man, especially everyday items, are derived in some form or another. Watching the video about how pigs are used in many different items that I consume was very eye opening and enlightening. Hence the title of my post, because it fits yet does not make sense since monkeys do not really eat pigs as a staple. I was raised not eating beef or pork and even today still stray from eating it. It makes me reevaluate my reasoning for how I follow this in my life and how my commitment to it is quite hypocritical. The very soap I use could be derived from pigs as stated in the video and even things that I eat may contain some pork content for flavor. I do not think I will change my eating habits and start eating pork even though I already consume it, but it is something to think about how I plan my lifestyle and maybe understand and contemplate the reasoning behind certain lifestyle choices. 

Fancy Pig-shaped Soap

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My spirit animal is very unique as there are many species of monkeys. Humans relate closely with Apes, specifically chimpanzee. However, I do not think I can compare my personality to a chimpanzee, but maybe sometimes when I am having fun. To be honest, I did not see how last class meeting’s topic related to bioart. I understood that Hox genes are universal across species and animals and that would constitute as the biological part other than the animals themselves. However, bringing in food and creating a portfolio does not really strike me as artistic so I was left a bit in the dark as to the relation of the session, besides the projects discussed and related to the conference with Siddarth. Nevertheless, it was very interesting.

My "spirit relative" from Planet of the Apes

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After class, I thought the newest Art l Sci center exhibit was pretty cool, especially as I had not really thought of imagining what “infinity” would look like. It reminded me of the film Interstellar when Matthew McConaughey was in the fifth dimension. I thought it was cool and very fitting how the artist imagined infinity and after pondering, I might believe that the concept and physical form of infinity would look as such. 



Video credit: Me




  1. Albert, David. "Explaining It All: How We Became the Center of the Universe." The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 Aug. 2011.  <>.
  2. "Erowid Ephedra Vault." Erowid Ephedra Vault. <>.
  4. "Motherwort: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings - WebMD." WebMD. WebMD.  <>.
  5. "Planting & Growing Ephedra Sinica Seeds." Ephedrine Web Ephedrine HCL Ephedra Diet Pills Facts Reviews.  <>.
  6. <>.


More info on  Monkeys! (Based on suggested research questions)

Monkeys are used largely for HIV research and also vaccination research. They relate the closest to humans, as humans are considered part of the Apes family. The closest of the Apes is the chimpanzee. Monkeys are also studied in their natural habitat. Professor Susan Perry does research on white capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica to study their behaviors and personalities. This can relate to how human culture and behavior is studied and how we differ and relate to our closest animal relatives.

Monkeys can be used at home, unfortunately, through means of illegal pet trade. Some people believe they make good pets, such as the capuchin monkey, which is actually the worst choice. Use them as sight animals or emotional support animals. Professor says: “Monkeys cannot take care of humans and humans cannot take care of monkeys.” Capuchins are the worst as they are very naturally hyperactive and aggressive, especially when hitting puberty. (The representation in Friends is for the most part true). Monkeys are also poached in their natural habitat, usually for the pleasure of the poacher and maybe sometimes for their skin.

Monkeys can actually be food for other monkeys. Ex. Red colobus is chimpanzee food.

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In India, monkeys are thought of street animals common to encounter. Usually cows are on the street or monkeys climb around houses. I stayed in the city suburbs with my family and not in the village. Monkeys roam around even in the city areas in Southern India, but not as much as becoming more industrialized and technology oriented. However, this has apparently become a problem for India’s efforts to wards improving technology, especially the Internet. Recently, monkeys have been reported to eating the fibre-optic cables, slowing down the progress of advancement of technology.

One of the Hindu deities is Hanuman, who is based on a monkey and is regarded highly by Hindus.

In China, perceived with more concern about saving the monkeys, especially rare and exotic species high in the mountains, the snub nosed monkey. Efforts to save the species sparked a movement in China on environmental awareness and maintenance. In China, there is deity as well based on a monkey. It is referred to as a Chinese Trickster god.

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In Western society, I do not believe monkeys are thought of as mischievous or mythological.  I believe they are prioritized for research and more efforts and thought about them are geared towards saving them and pushing towards humane research with them. In addition, they are used in a more entertainment and media light, with children’s shows such as Zaboomafoo and Curious George and even films such as Planet of the Apes and King Kong. Capitalism and Hollywood seems to surround monkeys and monkey perceptions as well as myths in Western culture.

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When I think of a monkey, I think of playfulness. I think of a monkey as an exploratory animal, one who is curious, mischievous, but also plays innocent and friendly, depending on who it encounters and how it perceives the encounter (dangerous, harmless, etc).


  1. "How China's Snub-nosed Monkeys Were Saved." CBSNews. CBS Interactive,. <>.
  2. "Kashgar Tribal Artifacts - Life for the Modern Nomad | Handmade Jewellery, Ethnic Handicrafts, Antique Furniture." The Hindu God Hanuman. <>.
  3. "MONKEY - the Chinese Trickster God (Chinese Mythology)." Godchecker. <>.
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  6. "13 Species of Monkeys Found in The Indian Subcontinent." NextGEN Gallery RSS. <>.



The Versatile Monkey

When I think of the monkey, I somehow always associate them with intelligence and creativity. I never really thought about why I am inclined to think so, but coming from an Asian background, it was somehow understood that monkeys were related to intelligence in terms of the Chinese zodiac. After doing some research, however, I realized that many cultures also associate the monkey with intelligence and the ability to adapt/learn.

Snakes: From Alcoholic Beverage to Cancer Cure!

When I think of a snake, I think “slither.” Snakes have been commonly associated with a slithery, sly, cunning kind of character in pop culture and western media. This harkens back to the old biblical tale of how the snake corrupted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As seen in the picture below, the snake in western culture has long been associated with evil. 



Eleventh Place But Still Man's Best Friend

In Chinese mythology, the order of the zodiac animals was determined by their ranking in a swimming race. The dog was a talented swimmer, but he came in second to last because he was too busy frolicking in the river. Ancestral myth from the Jin Dynasty tells the story of Panhu, the dog of the Chinese sovereign Di Ku. Panhu killed the general of the enemy’s army and brought his head to Di Ku. Di Ku rewarded Panhu with marriage to the emperor’s daughter, and they had many children.


My assigned zodiac animal is the rooster, which is very fitting since the majority of us are roosters in the Chinese zodiac. A rooster is the term for an adult male chicken and can be found in every continent in the world except Antarctica. A female chicken is called a hen. Chickens only display changes in gender after 6 months of age.

Study on Zodiac Goat

I'm so surprised that the class focuses on the Chinese zodiac, as a lot of Chinese people nowadays have already forgotten the purpose/ origins of these traditions. Being an international student from China, I have mixed cultural impacts within me but still during this research, I was able to learn so much about sheep and things that I didn't know about Chinese zodiac. It has always been interesting comparing and contrasting the differences between the backgrounds of these animal symbols. 

The Love of Dogs

          In the United States, its estimated that 70-80 million dogs are owned making that about 37%-47% of all households in the U.S. have a dog (Source: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).I am one of those individuals that fall in between that percentage range. I have a small, petite beagle and she is my best friend. She has been with me and has been there for me since I bought her when I was in high school. Dogs are such wonderful company to have because they are always happy to see you and always have your back.

Two Spheres of Privacy: Data Mining and DNA

         Last Tuesday I went to an event titled: Terms of Service: Understanding Our Role in the World of Big Data. The event was about how big data mining is all around us, in our social media accounts, our browsing history, and new apps that can track our every location. What happens is, these big-time companies can mine or collect and use our information and track our online behavior.

The Heart of Horses

            I have been so excited to write this blog post. I love horses! Actually, that is an understatement. Horses have had a huge impact on my life. While I never had my own horse, My K-12 upbringing was spent training, riding and taking care of other peoples beloved 4-legged companions. And yes, I call them companions, not pets. Throughout the cultures of the world horses are revered for their central role in the human experience.


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