Monday, September 27, 2010

Disposable Hand Towels - Bah Humbug

Search the shelves of your local supermarket, and you'll find that Kleenex is now making single-use hand towels.

Sure, companies have to make new products to bolster their marketshare and remain viable, but I have a number of issues with these.

#1. Are these really different than paper towels, which have been around for decades????? Does Kleenex really think we are stupid enough to be duped into spending our money on this "new" product?

#2. More importantly, do we really need disposable hand towels????? Seriously, isn't the point that we already throw away too much?

The Annenberg Foundation quotes that the average American makes 4.6 pounds of trash daily. Obviously, we do not need disposable hand towels...we are already disposing of enough.

Kleenex's 'angle' is that these One Use Towels are cleaner (i.e. safer) than your standard-use hand towel. However, let's note that washing machine technology is as advanced as it has ever been (washing machines today have a more complex computer mainframe than my 2001 Subaru)...and, also, that you wash your hands with SOAP....which kills germs...and cleans hands...meaning that your towels should really stay pretty clean anyway.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Guess what: Durham is one of America's 20 Smartest Cities.

Here is the complete list:
1. Boulder, CO
2. Durham, NC
3. Washington, DC
4. Boston, MA
5. Trenton/Ewing, NJ
6. San Jose, CA
7. Ithaca, NY
8. San Francisco, CA
9. Charlottesville, VA
10. Madison, WI
11. Raleigh, NC
12. Olympia, WA
13. Albany, NY
14. Fort Collins, CO
15. Ames, IA
16. Austin, TX
17. Seattle, WA
18. Rochester, MI
19. Corvallis, OR
20. Iowa City, IA

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

26 is the new 17

To those of you who know us personally, and let's face it that's anyone who reads this blog... if anyone actually does, you know that Jllo and I have somewhat different personalities and can view the same situation quite differently.  From the general dour nature of her previous post, I infer that the NY Times article she quoted (I'm too busy being awesome to read the whole thing) is saying that 20 somethings these days are less mature than those halcyon days gone by when a young man got his union card at 18 to start working in the coal mine, and women were expected to be baby factories from age 18-28.  If being less mature is the price to avoid a life of limited options and limited happiness, I'll pay it gladly.

I don't feel old or some objective level of "maturity" simply because, in an eerie coincidence, I have reached the same 4 out of 5 "milestones to adulthood" as Jllo.  In fact, I'd say I'm currently living much of my 17 year old self's dream life.  Let me count the ways:

1. I am in love with a smart, beautiful, and funny woman and she loves me back.
2.We have a great dog that is well behaved, but not so well behaved as to be boring
3. I have a career in one of the top 4 careers represented in TV shows (Detectives, Doctors, Lawyers, and Secret Agents).
4. We own a great house, where we can be proud to have all of our friends come over for a party.
5. I get to play in a rock band that practices in my basement
6. I still get excited when new and cool video games come out
7. I get to drive a cool car that is pretty fast
8. I get to go to kickboxing training twice a week

If 17 year old me knew I'd have all these opportunities in only 9 years, he would be pretty pumped.  I don't mean to list all these things in a "look at me, my life is so much better than yours" way.  I bet most folks couldn't care less for more than half of the things on that list.  The point is that your life is your own make it the best it can be.  Getting older does mean more responsibilities, but one of the biggest responsibilities is the creation of your own happiness.  So don't worry about "milestones to adulthood," or how old you are or are getting.  You've only got one life to live and all that other self-actualization blah-blah-blah.  But seriously, make your life what you want it to be, even if the NY Times thinks you're not mature enough.

Not Pictured:  Happiness

Monday, September 13, 2010

What is it about 20-somethings?

This article , "What is it about 20-somethings," from the NY Times Magazine was actually quite boring, being more about history than science.

However, it did inform me that a 30-year-old today is about as mature as a 25-year-old from the 1970s:

We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.” Sociologists traditionally define the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones. Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so. A Canadian study reported that a typical 30-year-old in 2001 had completed the same number of milestones as a 25-year-old in the early ’70s.

When I read the 'five milestones to adulthood', I felt badly about the fact that I'd already achieved 4 of them. You see, I really don't like the idea of getting older. Don't get me wrong--getting older is obviously better than the alternative. It just seems to imply gaining a whole lot of responsibility at the cost of a whole lot of fun. (Not that I actually do have have a lot of fun now...but I like the idea that I could have fun if I wanted to.) Plus, you get wrinkles. And bifocals. And arthritis.

But, there seem to be some benefits...namely, chances are, when you get older, you make a lot more money, which you can spend doing things that are fun...or, at least, buying things that are cool, which is a reasonable approximation of fun, and perhaps the best an old person can muster.

Alaskan Doctor's Exploding Cabin

Sometimes the Doctor and I contemplate moving to Alaska once this whole residency thing is finished.  Once there, we imagine life will be filled with lots of adventures.  Adventures like this:

Talkeetna's only physician came within about 20 minutes of losing his life early Tuesday morning when a faulty stove pipe and 47 pounds of gunpowder in his log cabin clinic caused an explosion that blew out the back door and incinerated most of the building.
Read more here. I, for one, welcome the days when we need to be mindful that out stove doesn't cause our 47 pounds of gunpowder to blow up our rudimentary frontier health clinic/law office.

Pictured:  Adventures on the frontier.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


My excitement on-call this weekend?

Medical leeches.

Awesome. Welcome to the 1700s.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bathroom Plans

Someday, I want our master bathroom to look something like these...

...apparently, I have a lot of work to do.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fire Drill

I heard the following story on the radio recently.

In brief, a high school math teacher who motivates inner city students by teaching them chess was being interviewed. He himself learned chess as a kid in the Ukraine, before he moved to America at age six.

So, the six-year-old future math teacher moves to America and his parents enroll him in first grade. The school year has already started, so he tries to fit in as best he can. Problem is, he does not speak English. At all. No English.

School is hard -- not the material, but the not-understanding-what's-going-on-because-I-don't-understand-the-language part.

Then, the school hosts a fire drill. Apparently, there are no fire drills in Ukraine, and the kid doesn't really know what's going on. Plus, he's in the bathroom--alone--so he can't see everyone filing out to the school yard. It turns out, while they don't have fire drills, the Ukrainians do have faulty equipment, so the kid just assumes that something has broken in the school building's wiring and is making a strange noise.

So, he washes up and traipses back to his classroom. He finds it empty. 'Strange,' he thinks. He wanders to the next-door classroom, and finds, curiously, that it is empty as well.
In a moment of true problem-solving, the kid decides, 'it's almost lunch time, I guess everyone just went to lunch early.' He wanders to the cafeteria. No one is there, but there are plenty of lunches lined up on the counter. He reaches to take one, and, at that exact moment, a hairnetted lunch-lady runs out from the kitchen, shouting, "THIS IS A FIRE DRILL. YOU MUST GO OUTSIDE. WHY ARE YOU IN HERE???? PUT DOWN THAT LUNCH AND LEAVE RIGHT NOW."

As the math teacher/chess play is relating all this, the radio host interrupts him and says, "That must have been so confusing. It must have been exhausting never knowing what was happening and being so disoriented all the time. I bet you went home that afternoon and thought to yourself 'I can't take this anymore. I never want to go back.'"

At that moment, I couldn't help but think that the kid's experience was a lot like being an intern. Things happen in the hospital, and you don't know why. Patients have bad outcomes, and you don't know why. Tests get ordered, but not completed. Patients refuse blood-draws. Medical students fail to learn simple concepts. Physical Therapy doesn't come. Surgeries are done in the OR, and you don't know what they are. And at the end of the day, some metaphorical-lunch-lady is always yelling at you, for reasons you can't really make out.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Glow of Good Health

If you Google "glowing with good health," you will find this image:

Now, this isn't really what I had in, I tried another option-- "fine physical specimen" -- which I feared might veer into the realm of pornography...but, as an intrepid blogger, I carried on.

Porn it was not, but still not what I wanted:

You see, this photo is of a fat guy, and what I wanted was an image to demonstrate "the glow of good health" and being "a fine physical specimen".

I wanted these images to contrast with the picture I'm about to paint of the typical resident-in-training.

Throughout my years as a medical student, I used the following terms to describe the physical appearance of most residents: 'soft,' 'doughy,' 'pale.'

'How do they let themselves go like this?' I thought. 'I won't be like that,' I thought.


(pot, meet kettle)

The jury is in: I've been a resident for the past 8 weeks, and I've already developed a bloom of subtle flabbiness. What once were (slightly) rippling muscles now sag wanly. There are divots where divots weren't before, and bulge-y peaks that I hadn't seen during my carefree days as a medical student.

Oh well... Chalk up my physical well-being to the cost of medical training... It can go on the same tab as 1) all my free time, 2) reading for pleasure, 3) staying up past 9pm, 4) sleeping past 5am, 5) my 20s, 6) etc.