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The Common Vein: Clarity in Complexity


The Common Vein (TCV) is a learning process that clarifies the complexities of biology and medicine.


Complexity is the prodigy of the world.

Simplicity is the sensation of the universe.

Behind complexity, there is always simplicity to be revealed.

Inside simplicity, there is always complexity to be discovered

                                                                                                                        Gang Yu

The Common Vein is a tree of knowledge that brings simplicity to the complexity of human biology and medicine.  Its arborized organization enables a stepwise, progressive approach to self learning.  Any student who can read, and who is motivated, will advance through this rich network of material. Most principles begin with a simple word or concept, within which resides encyclopedic complexity.  The root elements of that word can be explained in a sentence, which then progresses in volume and complexity to a paragraph, then a chapter, then a book, and beyond.

Imagine a library with all of its books strewn over the floor.  It would be nearly impossible to navigate the available information. Efficient organization of information is the key to understanding it. This concept holds true in any field of education.

Organizing Information


From a Background of Complexity to an Organized Simplicity 

The above art-piece shows a background of extensive, pixellated, and seemingly inaccessible information. As it organizes into the central, conical figure, it begins to make sense. The word at the bottom of the cone becomes defined into its key elements (the 5 different colors of the circle).  A definition follows, which succinctly describes the essence of those principles. These elements advance to greater complexity at the next level: the paragraph.  Each elemental principle is further expanded in a chapter.  The ladder of organized information progresses, while remaining connected to its source. Roots and branches, origins and growth, are recurring themes in The Common Vein.

As we learn, we acquire new knowledge. At the same time, we modify and enhance preexisting knowledge. Education should therefore be viewed as a process, rather than a collection of facts (Learning Wikipedia). TCV’s cumulative approach reinforces previous knowledge as it advances existing knowledge. With the understanding that memory and its application are so key to the learning process, TCV encourages beginning with the roots (basics) and building to the branches (details) in a logical fashion.

The Tree of Knowledge

Below is a diagram of knowledge in its bare form. From the central trunk extends an arborising framework, from roots to branches, which represents advancement, or growth.


Roots and Branches: Sources and Growth


Roots and Branches: Sources and Growth – Advancing Complexity

The trunk reflects a single idea or concept (tree), which is part of a continuum belonging to something beyond it (branches) and something before it (roots).  The tree’s roots and branches again exemplify the concept of building upon previous knowledge.  The trunk’s extensions, in the form of roots and branches, are complex yet logical in their organization. A tree’s growth is multifaceted, yet progressive. The parts work together for the sake of the single element: the tree. In the tree, complexity and simplicity coexist.


A distinct focus on principles, especially as a starting point, provides a useful framework for learning. The Common Vein’s is founded upon principles that grow in complexity, which helps the student navigate the daunting mass of biological and medical information.

Principles of Human Biology

The image below diagrams human biology in its basic parts:


This diagram of human biology is structurally identical to the diagram above. This diagram shows that the roots of human biology lie in both the structural and functional sciences. Combined, those two sciences enable the miracles of the working body and working mind. This simple diagram captures the entirety of human biology. Beyond these base elements lies magical complexity, which we can never fully grasp.

Principles of Medicine

This diagram, again identical in structure to the two above, explains that the roots of human disease originate in the disorder of the structural and functional sciences. The branches of diagnosis and treatment have evolved in response to the need for order and health of the body and mind.


This tree illustrates The Common Vein’s central theme. Each biological part has both a structure and a function.  When they are in order and work cohesively, there is health.  With disorder, conversely, comes disease. The field of medicine attempts to bring order using two major disciplines: diagnosis and treatment.

Because roots and branches remain connected, a change in one element means a consequence in the others. The disciplines of diagnosis and treatment are founded upon the ability to identify and treat disordered structure and function. For example, an obstructed coronary artery causes a heart attack.  The clot in the artery causes a structural problem, with a the functional consequence (damaged heart muscle).   Coronary arteriography diagnoses the structural abnormality, and a cardiac echocardiogram diagnoses the functional consequence (decreased muscle contraction).  The treatment aims to reverse the structural abnormality by dissolving the clot, as it also aims to reverse the functional abnormality.

The Common Vein

The Common Vein finds clarity in complexity. It navigates the learner through complex information in order to understand, remember, and apply the knowledge.  Two major elements are used:

  1. Basic principles, which are connected and advanced through
  2. An arborised organization.

The “common” in the common vein refers to basic principles, while the “vein” represents the arborised connections creating a tree of knowledge.

Learning starts from the most basic element, and with careful progression, advances in detail.  Learning evolves over time, as it builds upon and enhances previous knowledge. The tree’s roots of knowledge reflect the learner’s existing knowledge. They are connected to the branches, which symbolize the paths of growth.

The Common Vein requires requires the ability to read, and passion for the subject material. With those, the whole field of biology and medicine opens up, and eventually, students learn to apply this network of knowledge as thoughtful thinkers and practitioners.

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Heart Shapes in Nature

Heart shapes in nature abound.  The shape of the heart has a deep meaning in almost every culture and whenever one finds a shape reminiscent of the classical shape of heart shape, it provides a little extra beat of excitement.

I have collected such gems over the years and present some in the following blog.

History of the Heart Shape and Implications in our Culture

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History of the Shape of the Heart Icon

 The collage reveals the symbols that contributed to the shape of the heart icon as we know it.  Elements from anatomy of animals that were exposed during sacrifice, from botany with leaves and seeds that reflected similar emotional connections as the heart, and elements of human anatomy associated with attraction, love and romance combined to result in the shape of the icon of the heart as we know it.

Adapted and modified from public domain photograph by Frank Eugene, taken 1898, called Adam and Eve and published in Camera Work no. 30,1910

The Heart Shape in the Skies

heart, clouds, sky, heaven, heart shape, Valentine's day

Heaven’s Heart 

Found a cloud in the sky that said it all… or at least some of it…heaven’s heart.  The art piece is a photograph that reflects all good things about the heart; its place in the heavens, prayer, love, truth, beauty, honesty, and compassion.  The artistic element reflects a window for two way of love and admiration; from the heavens to humankind and mankind to the heavens.

Heart Shapes in the Leaves


Heart Shaped Leaves of the Linden Tree

The heart shaped leaf of the Linden tree is derived from a photograph taken in Bergen Norway.  The leaf had fallen on a transparent roof and a few drops of water were trapped on its surface.  It reminded me of a tearful end of a romance with tears caught in the heart of the saddened lover.

heart, heart shape, ivy, leaf, heart shape, Valentine's day, romance, love,

Heart Shaped Leaf of the Ivy

The heart shaped Canarian ivy leaf is from a vine. In the art piece the dark green has been lightened to give a freshness to the leaf which is surrounded by a heart shape colored in purple

heart, heart shape, leaf, heart shape, Valentine's day, romance, love,

Heart Shaped Leaf of the Caladium 

The art piece shows a heart-shaped leaf with two beautiful variations of green.  The dark green veins of the leaf are in distinct contrast to the paler green background, creating both complexity to the appearance, and giving us insight into its transport systems. The caladium plant in its many forms has a intensely colored heart shaped and colorful varieties leaf. It belongs to a genus of flowering plants in the family Araceae originating in South America. Almost 1000 variations of the original plant now exist.  Other names include “Angel Wings”, “Heart of Jesus”, and “elephant ear”

heart, heart shape, leaf, heart shape, Valentine's day, romance, love, sweet potato vine

Heart Shaped Leaf of Sweet Potato Vine

The art piece shows the heart-shaped leaf partially illuminated, with an almost mysterious feel of a dark background.  The  leaf of the sweet potato vine arises from a versatile plants around, which grows in sun the sun or shade, in containers, or garden beds. The plant shown here is a bright green or chartreuse. The  beauty of the plant derives not only from the color of the foliage, its flowing nature but also of course  the shape of its leaf

heart, heart shape, leaf, heart shape, Valentine's day, romance, love,

Heart Shaped Leaf of the Black Coral Elephant Ear Plant 

The art piece shows the heart-shaped leaf with unusual black color.  The purple veins of the leaf are difficult to see since they are of a similarly dark color.  The leaf of the Colocasia “Black Coral” Elephant Ear plant is  similar to leaf of the Coladium plant whose members  are also named elephant ears because of the shape.  The leaves can be very large, and are between 8 and 60 inches long.


Yin Yang Heart Shaped Hosta Leaf 

The heart shaped leaf of the Hosta plant is surrounded by a yin yang swirl of green.  The Hosta plant (aka plantain lilies (Britain) giboshi (Japan) is known for its hardiness and the fact that it thrives in the shade.  There are as many as 45 species with foliage of varying sized leaves and shades of green. Yin Yang relates to a Chinese philosophy that uses opposite forces to bring unity and solidarity.  These opposite forces abound. In the context of love it reflects opposite sexes that come together in reproduction of a new single being. Other examples include night and day, dark and light, fire and water, or positive and negative forces.

Heart Shapes in Flowers Fruits and Seeds


Chinese Lantern Flower

The Chinese Lantern flower depending on perspective is also heart shaped – . The dried flower reveals a delicate capillary like infrastructure and therefore even more fitting for Valentine’s day.  The delicate flower enfolds and defends a barely appreciated, delicate fruit buried within its husk. The need to protect the fruit of its loins manifests motherly and fatherly love!The herbaceous perennial plant physalis alkekengi enfold and defend the small, delicate fruit buried within their husks, they may be the perfect symbol for protection. Their fiery orange red hue denotes a passion for life, amiability, endurance and vitality.


Black Walnut Husk

The male and female components occur on the same tree. Imagine the two seeds born out of love between the male and female flowers that occur on the same tree (monoecious species) in a pod that is heart shaped. The image reflects the heart shaped husk with seeds likely removed by squirrels who tore into the heart out of the heart shaped pod – how cruel nature can sometimes be? –  But squirrels will  travel miles, will dig dig deep to retrieve the glorious tasty reward for their tenacious effort. (Acknowledgement Dr Edward Fisher MD Cardiologist)


Heart Shaped Pod of the Goldenrain Tree

 The pod is lantern shaped reminiscent of the the Chinese lantern flower, and Cape Gooseberry and is about 5cms long and 3cm wide and starts as a green to yellow color and becomes orange to pink in the fall.  The black seeds are 5-8mms in diameter. (Acknowledgement Dr Edward Fisher MD Cardiologist)


Heart Shaped Pod of the Amour en Cage

The art piece shows the inverted pod surrounded by the more rotund yellow shape of a heart.  The orange fruit peeks out through a defect in the husk.  The French name Amour en Cage (love in a cage) is the most appropriate and romantic term for the fruit!

Heart Shapes that Tell a Story Through the Natural Elements


Bleeding Heart 

The bleeding heart (aka Lamprocapnos spectabilis, Asian bleeding-heart, Dutchman’s breeches, lyre flower and lady-in-a-bath) belongs to the poppy family Papaveraceae, and is found in China, Japan, Korea and Siberia. It flowers in the early spring with a pink or white flower and is one of the earlier joys of the spring.  It tells a sad story as it opens its heart and pours out its white tears.  The shape is quite unique.


Heart Shape – Tamarind Seeds at Sunset

The heart shape of the Tamarind  seed is the subject of this art piece. The shape of the seed is heterogeneous.  With Valentine’s day in mind, I searched the many seeds of the leguminous edible fruit at the dinner table, and came up with two heart shaped seeds.


Rock Lovers Rock

 Rock Lovers Rock shows a pair of heart shaped rocks in a background of sensuous and gentle curves of surrounding rock formation.  Despite the solid and hard nature of the stone and the almost heartless assigned character, the art piece provides a soft and romantic side to the usually lifeless stone.


Valentine’s Day Walk – a Walnut and a Rock

The male and female components occur on the same tree. Imagine the two seeds born out of love between the male and female flowers that occur on the same tree (monoecious species) in a pod that is heart shaped. The image reflects the heart shaped husk with seeds likely removed by squirrels who tore into the heart out of the heart shaped pod – how cruel nature can sometimes be? –  But squirrels will  travel miles, will dig dig deep to retrieve the glorious tasty reward for their tenacious effort.


Damaged Heart Shaped Leaf

The art portrays that part of the heart has been lost – but also infers that that all is not lost and there is still a lot of love to give.  The color is sombre, and results in a melancholic mood.


Heart Shaped Leaves of Love Lost

The art piece shows two heart-shaped leaves (left) of a Linden tree in Norway at lovers’ odds, with tears streaming down their bodies, a bleeding heart (say no more) and the worst – a black leaf – who has totally given up on love. The whole image reminds me of a “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.  The thing about romance is that more often than not, it does not reflect basic love.  Love of a child, parent, spouse friend, or animal has a deeper, more meaningful and more basic element of humanity and compassion that is open to all.  Romance is sometimes a closed club.


Heart Shaped Anthurium at the End of Valentine’s Day

The heart shaped anthurium flower (aka flamingo flower, and laceleaf)  originates in the Americas including northern Mexico and northern Argentina but also in the Caribbean.  In this art piece the flower looks droopy and exhausted after a long day of romance



heart, lungs, ribs, chest, chest cavity, red pepper, grapes, banana, banana peel, X-ray, radiology, anatomy

Chest of Fruit – Heart Lungs and Ribs

The chest with ribs, heart and lungs are created using fruit. The lungs are grapes, the pulmonary arteries – carrots, the ribs a banana peel and the heart is a red pepper.


Dogs Have Hearts Too 

It may take a moment to see the face of  labrador with the heart of the chest projected as his mouth and his two black eyes on either side of his cervical spine!  Once you appreciate the eyes – the rest will fall into place

And so ends our story.


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Heart Symbolisms – Cultural Anatomy


Heaven’s Heart 

Heart symbolisms abound in almost every culture.  The heart has been the center of almost every civilization, and assigned the epicentre of physical emotional and spiritual life. In ancient cultures the brain was mostly ignored and its many functions were attributed to the heart.  Despite new knowledge,  many of the ancient cultural concepts remain ingrained in the religion, the psyche, language, literature, poetry, and art of modern civilization.

In the West, the heart has evolved as a symbol of love, in both romantic and religious spheres.  In the East, it is seen as a symbol of wisdom and spirituality.

Heart Symbolisms in History

Ancient belief in almost every major culture put the heart and heart symbolisms at the centre of the body and soul . Life with all its emotions, thoughts and beliefs centered around the heart.

The iconic heart symbol was identified in the culture of the Cro Magnon hunters of Europe before the last Ice Age (10,000-8000 BCE). The inference of the icon to the hunters remains a mystery.

The ancient Egyptians (3500BC-1000 BC) believed the heart controlled the mind and soul, and that it was the center of morality. It was also considered the source of memory, emotions, and personality. They believed that God spoke to individuals through the heart.  There was concern among Egyptians that after death, that the heart might testify against the deceased; to prevent this, the ancient Egyptians often wrapped a heart scarab within the bandages to prevent the heart from speaking. They also preserved the heart during mummification so it would not be weighed during judgement after death.

The 5000 year old ancient Chinese culture believes that the heart is the root of the body, mind and soul of life.  Additionally it controls joy, reflects facial expression, and has important roles in the psyche.

The Jewish culture goes back 5000 years as well. The Old testament, originated around 1500 BC, and references to the heart abound . It is viewed as the organ of conscience, the origin of human action, imagination, determination, emotion, love, virtue and vice, good and evil, humility and pride. The  heart is revealed as the “inner” person:

“the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” [Samuel 16:7].

Also among many other references

“it grieved him (God) at his heart.”  

Genesis 6:6 

The word “heart” appears 725 times in the  Old testament,


Art in the Clouds, Love, and Prayer

Love and Prayer …… a cloud in the sky that says it all… or at least some of it…  The art piece is a collection of different modes of prayer with the same goal in mind ie to connect with a higher power. An idea of a central God may not necessarily fit with all religions,.  The central “God” therefore in this piece relates to a central focus of core beliefs.

In Hinduism, a culture that started around 1750 BCE, teaches that the heart is the center of life, action, emotion, consciousness, and the soul. The belief is that it nourishes the organs and supplies  energy for the formation of semen. Similar to Egyptian belief, it has importance in connecting heaven and earth.  It also is the organ where the love of God is experienced.

In ancient Greece, Aristotle, who lived in the 4th century B.C., described  the heart as the most important organ of the body. He considered it the seat of intelligence, motion, sensation and vitality.

In Christianity the heart reflects love, piety, and charity.  In the art of the middle ages and thereafter, the flaming heart reflects religious passionate fervor.  A flaming heart pierced by an arrow symbolizes faith despite trial, and repentance.  The New Testament started in the middle of the 1st century AD. Jesus repeatedly uses “pure of heart”

Paul prays

“that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;” [Ephesians 3:3].

The word “heart” appears 105 times in the New Testament.

In the 1st millennium AD in ancient Mexico, the Teotihuacan culture believed that the the teyolia – the spiritual force of the heart, was responsible for life.

Galen who lived in the second century A. D., reaffirmed the Greek concepts of  the heart and promoted it as the organ most closely related to the soul.


The Heart of Galen – Creator of the Vital Spirit

The AiA rendering shows the body according to Galen. Heat plays a central role in his theory.  He believed the heart was closely related to the soul and the source of the body’s heat . The liver, he taught was the primary source of the humors that controlled the body, and that the heart played a subordinate role.

At the beginning of the eleventh century, the Persian, Avicenna (980-1037 AD), authored  “The Book of Healing” that included medical and philosophical content.  Avicenna describes the heart as the source of life.

The Aztecs a nomadic tribe of northern Mexico, arrived in Mesoamerica in the 13th century and reached their pinnacle in the 15th century. They believed that the heart, or the yollotli, was the seat of life and the soul. Before cremation a green jewel was placed in the mouth of the dead person to represent the heart.  The culture also believed that human sacrifice for the offering of the heart to the Gods was required for ongoing prosperity.  It was a ritual performed at the highest level and required to  honour the gods.  Interestingly the yollotli was also a standard of measurement from the mid chest to the tip of the outstretched arm, equivalent to about 3 feet.

In summary the heart was central to the body mind of soul in so many cultures that it pervaded day to day life,  and therefore became central to the emotional aspects of most, if not all cultures. The innate need to represent these emotions in all facets of life including religion, philosophy, literature, poetry, music,  and art was a natural outcome.

The History of the Icon

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History of the Shape of the Heart Icon

 The collage reveals the symbols that contributed to the shape of the heart icon as we know it.  The shape of the heart became familiar to cultures who hunted or sacrificed animals (image top left).  The heart shaped leaves and seeds had parallel emotional connections.  The silphium seed for example (seen as golden heart shaped structure above) , was used by ancient Greeks for contraception and was reproduced on their coins.  Organs relating to the nitty gritty of romance including breasts, mons pubis, buttocks and scrotum have rotund shape that has parallels in the icon of the heart .  It is no wonder that the the shape gained popularity and application to the romantic elements of life.   
This art piece was adapted and modified from public domain photograph by Frank Eugene, taken 1898, called Adam and Eve and published in Camera Work no. 30,1910 

Art and the Heart – A History

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History of Heart Symbolism

The earliest use of the heart as a symbol of love is found in an art piece in the middle of the 13th century.  The collage depicts, romantic, religious, devotion, emotion, bravery, heraldry, mathematics, geometry, botany, card games, Valentine’s day, and finally and central in the art piece – the traditional emoticon.  

Literature and the Heart 


Shakespeare and the Heart

From the late Middle Ages onward, literature and poetry romanticize the heart.  The above art piece used information  from the Oxford Shakespeare Concordance and identifies the frequency of the word heart and heart related words  (eg heartless and heartily).  More than 1100 instances were found. 

In the Divine Comedy,  Dante (1265-1321) refers to

Love, which is quickly kindled in the gentle heart,
seized this man for the fair form that was
taken from me, and the manner still hurts me.


Pride, Envy, and Avarice are
the three sparks that have set these hearts on fire.

Valentine’s day itself first became associated with romance during the time of Geoffrey Chaucer (1343–1400).

Literature in which the word “heart” appears in the title from the late 18th, 19th and early 20th century include among many; Heart of the Midlothian – Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), The Tell Tale Heart by  Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849,  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), The Heart of Man by Erich Fromm (1900-1980),  Heartbreak House by George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (1917-1967), Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown (1908 – 2002)

Poetry and the Heart 

The association of the heart and love abound in poetry.

Charles d’Orlean was a member of the French Royal family who lived in the 15th century. While captive in England he wrote love poems such as the one translated below

Because I cannot see you,
My heart complains day and night,
Lovely lady, peerless one of France,
And has charged me to write you
That he does not have all he desires
In the Prison of Discontent.

 by Charles d’Orlean and translated by David A. Fein 

Some famous poems of the the late 19th and early 20th century which include the word heart in the title; My Heart and I  by  Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking, Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), Never Give All The Heart, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Flame Heart Claude McKay (1889-1948),  The Trusting Heart, Dorithy Parker (1893 -1967),  I Carry Your Heart with Me – EE Cummings  (1894-1962),  The Laughing Heart Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)  

Music and the Heart


Middle Ages Music, Heart and Love

AiA combined two art pieces that are in the public domain; Heart shaped musical score of Baude Cordier is an offering of love to a lady.  Christian and Muslim playing Lutes from the Canticles of Holy Mary during the reign of Alfonso X El Sabio (1221–1284) 

Recent Music and the Heart


The Heart in Modern Song

Song ..another emotional outlet for the expression of love romance, and spirituality in culture. Between 1956 and 1978, 15 artists used the word “HEART” in the title of their song and each sold more than a million copy of their records.

Evolving Use of Heart Symbolisms

Valentines Day is a classical example of the persistent use of the symbol of the heart as a symbol of love and romance and it appears on all types of commercial products.  The icon of the heart for communication on the web, in emails, electronic messaging, graffiti, in all sorts of arts and crafts abound almost adnauseum.

We seem to be returning to the world of hieroglyphics – and the icon of the heart almost always sends a positive message – and so … that is always good!


Jager Eric  – Reading the Book of the heart from the Middle Ages to the twenty First Century; University of Chicago Press

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Anatomy of the Caribbean Heavens

The heavens are rich with artistry  creativity, and lessons to teach us

When viewed from a ship at sea they are even richer – and vacation provides the time and opportunity to explore and express this beauty.  The art is biased of course by the perspective of the observer.  AiA finds the shapes and character of “things” related to the body, biology, art and culture of primary interest.  The Caribbean heavens explored from a boat contains  a wealth of material.

As we started our journey….

I swear I saw  Prometheus running down from the heavens !

body, sky, heavens,clouds, athlete, running

and then I looked a little closer …

body, sky, heavens,clouds, athlete, running

and then put on my shades… and yes twas  a powerful athlete running down to earth from the skies and he was carrying something!  body, sky, heavens,clouds, athlete, running


Prometheus is a Greek mythological figure who brought fire to the earth that he stole from Mount Olympus.  He was punished by Zeus who chained him to the rocks of Mount Caucasus.  In addition an eagle (Zeus himself) punished Prometheus by daily feeds on his liver.  The ancients knew of the magical regenerative properties of the liver and the antiseptic qualities of bile.  The eagle (Zeus) is later slain by Heracles and Prometheus is given his freedom.  He gains strength due the the regenerative powers of the liver (also known by contemporary physicians in the world of hepatology and hepatic surgery).

Talking of animals of the sky?  And what about the Scottie dog?  What lessons does he have to teach us?

body, sky, heavens,clouds, dog, Scottie, shape, running

Scottie of the Skye in the Sky

In this image a Scottie dog was found romping in the heavens.  The Scottie is an endearing name for the Scottish terrier – aka Aberdeen terrier.  It is part of the group of Skye terriers and therefore is fittingly suited for the theme of the wonderful sightings in the sky.   The Scottie is one of the terrier breeds that come from Scotland.  Other terriers in this group include the Skye, West Highland Terrier, Dandie Dinmont and the Cairn .  The Scottie has a characteristic compact and powerful body.  The torso and head are rectangular, ears are pointed , eyes are almond shaped, and the beard has  long and soft hair.  The legs are short but powerful allowing for agility and quick movement. The breed exemplifies “power in a small package” . The confident and independent nature has earned them the nickname “Diehard”.  It is extremely territorial.  Both President Franklin D Roosevelt and George W Bush owned Scotties. George, the fourth Earl of Dumbarton owned a pack of brave Scottish Terriers, that were named “Diehards”.  Dumbartons regiment in the The Royal Scots were fittingly named the “Dumbarton Diehards”  Scotty Cramp is a disease in Scottish Terriers that causes muscle spasms resulting in hyperflexion and hyperextension of the legs. It is an inherited recessive trait of the breed.  It is  caused by a deficiency in serotonin.

sky, dog, Scottie, shapes, heavens, bones, anatomy, knees, X-ray. spine, lumbar spine, pars interarticularis, back, spondylolysis, diehard

1 Real Scottie, 1 in the Sky, and 2 in Dem Bones

In Radiology we look at the neck of the Scottie dog in a condition of the lumbar spine that causes back pain in athletes called spondylolysis.  The neck of the Scottie is overlaid in maroon in the image on  the right and represents the pars interarticularis which may undergo stress fracture in young athletes (spondylolysis) resulting in one lumbar vertebral body slipping forward on the other (spondylolisthesis).  It is one of the causes of back pain in young athletes. 

Rain – Good or Bad? –  

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“Anatomy of Rain in the Sky at Sunrise” 

In this image sunrise brings a shower of rain in the east.  The sun shining through the dark clouds illuminates other clouds and brings some hope.  In the context of the vacationer the rain is a disappointment and means an undesirable day indoors.   For the farmer and for mother earth it is a blessing!

The art piece is dominated by falling rain and a rising sun that shines through and illuminates the vista.

and what does that teach us – It all depends on context

Some quotes:

Predicting rain doesn’t count. Building arks does.  Warren Buffett

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.  Langston Hughes

 As the day continued – it got grayer and grayer


Anatomy of Rain in the Sky

In this instance the gray skies of rain bring a gloom for some and yes … also a bloom .. of life for others.  It is an essential to all biology.  

The image shows rain romping  from the heavens.  

Some Quotes

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Gray skies are just clouds passing over. Duke Ellington

The rain began again. It fell heavily, easily, with no meaning or intention but the fulfilment of its own nature, which was to fall and fall.  Helen Garner

but things change..time moves on..and 

“Time and Tide Wait for No Man”

And the following day – all had changed – the rain had passed and bright orange heavens illuminated the sky a moment before sunrise

day, sunrise, sea, sky

Anatomy of the Sky Before Sunrise

Moments before sunrise brings light to the darkness, just before the sun pokes its head from the blanket of the ocean.  The sun shining illuminates the sky with an orange optimism in the cloudless sky.

sunrise, sun, sky, ocean, sea, time, heaven

Anatomy of the Sky at the Moment of Sunrise

sunrise, sun, sky, ocean, sea, time, heaven

Anatomy of the Sky 1 Minute after Sunrise

sunrise, sun, sky, ocean, sea, time, heaven

Anatomy of the Sky 3 minutes After Sunrise

Time passes quickly


“You can’t stop the future, You can’t rewind the past, The only way to learn the secret…is to press play.” – Jay Asher

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao Tzu

As the day progressed – Nirvana – a blue blue sky , and a blue blue ocean  – interrupted only by a ruffle of waving white


Blue Sky, Blue Water, and A Ruffle of Waving White

and this also was not for long .. as time passed and ever changing cloud pattern passed before our eyes – containing all sorts of people

… and a surprise artist made his appearance –


Chagall Blessing the Sky


  Blessing in the Sky with Overlay

The artist spotted Chagall flying in typical fashion through the heavens of the Caribbean.  he had his arms outstretched as if to bless the sky

And by the end of the first day… the clouds rolled in to compete for kingdom of the earthly sky

sun, sky, clouds, sunset

Anatomy of the Sky as the Sun Starts to Set

The kingdom of the earthly sky is shared by the sun with the clouds as each seeks to dominate.  For the sun this is a small battle since its kingdom stretches over the entire solar system.  For the clouds this is a major battle since they only rule over the earth.  They both play an essential role in preserving life on earth.  The sun is constant and dependable.  The clouds are transient and fickle. The setting sun descends through the blanket of the clouds, and gives the sky a mysterious, and magical  feel.

And the next day… the clouds and the sun shared the spotlight at sunrise

I took a nice cuppa tea, and sat on a chaise – longue to watch the spectacle.  To my surprise I saw my knee caps…


Sunrise View of the Knee Caps

The art piece expresses a joint experience of my knees and the sun. As I sit on the chaise-longue sipping tea and watching the sunrise with X-ray vision, I share a gaze with the sun.  The sun looks at the sunrise view of my knees and I look at its sunrise in the sky.  In radiology we use the ‘sunrise view” to evaluate the joint space between the patella and the femur.

As the day progressed the clouds disappeared, and a day moon appeared.



Day Moon

And nighttime came – not a cloud in the sky … blackness descended revealing the light of a crescent moon and its neighbour  Venus.


The Moon and Venus in Conversation

and the heavens turned black – and I saw the overshadowed crescent moon talking to Venus… “What are people thinking?- Do they not realise life rules over death? Peace over terror? Why do the leaders of the people not declare this universal truth? It is so clear from where we stand, that there is something going wrong down there….Leaders must not remain silent! “

And after the moon rose my hand rose to tell the moon something…


I Have a Bone to Pick with You .. I said

In this art piece the larger than life bones of the hand reach out into the sky in conversation. Tongue in cheek it wants to share the idea that it has a bone in its wrist that shares a common feature with the moon.  The lunate bone is is found in the  proximal row of metacarpal bones in the wrist, so named because of its shape. “Luna” is the Latin name for the moon.

and then two more hands with their scaphoids appeared to teach us the last lessons from the Caribbean


Scaphoids That Pass Under the Lunar Night

The art piece shows a night time sky with the X-ray of three hands.  The hand on the left and right side of the image have the scaphoid bone of the wrist outlined in color.  The scaphoid is so named because of its ship like shape. “Skaphos” means  ship in Greek.  The middle hand dominates the trio of hands and unrealistically dominates the skyline.  The lunate bone is highlighted in the middle hand.  It is so named because it is moon shaped.   Artistically the scaphoid bone on the right is colored in Irish green since the ring finger carries a claddagh ring -an Irish ring that represents love, loyalty, and friendship.  The larger than life delicate  fingers of the middle hand reach out to the moon and  talks with the moon about their common shapes… small talk in the big picture

From a literary point of view the title “Scaphoids that Pass Under the Lunar Night” infers and  invokes the sentiment of Longfellow in “Tales of a Wayside Inn” about the “ships that pass in the night”

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”

“Ships that pass in the night” speaks of chance meetings that are transitory that come and go and are just part of life that do not result  in a meaningful relationship – and in other contexts of two people who almost encounter each other – but do not.  In both cases, with a little effort of either party, a connection may have been life changing.

… and  these were just a few lessons taught by the Caribbean sky!