Thursday, April 23, 2009

What to do Post-Call...

Earlier this week, I was feeling a bit wiped out from my overnight call on the orthopedics trauma team. I made the mistake of rambling a bit about my thoughts over at the Differential. Today I'm post-call and haven't been able to sleep yet. What a difference two hours in a call room makes!!!

Yes, this is the obligate link to another page post. Sorry about that.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fancy Steel Water Bottles

In relation to this week's Earth Day the New York Times is running a comparison between the energy costs of stainless steel water bottles and disposable plastic ones. Given the intensive energy input to steel production, it will take between 50 and 100 reuses of the steel water bottles to balance out an equivalent usage of disposable bottles. That seems reasonable enough to me. In my water drinking prime, I refilled my Nalgene bottle twice a day, which was the volume equivalent of 4 or 5 disposables. The problem I have with this analysis is that the author used disposable plastic as a straw man. I'd like to see the balance between a stainless steel container and the polycarbonate bottles that you can use just as much. I know, if you drink 6.02x10^23 liters of water from polycarbonate bottles, you might get cancer. But there are other durable plastic choices.

There's another kicker in the feature (that seems a little off): the carbon costs of marketing and storing a steel bottle on the shelf of an REI or equivalent store may be as much as producing it in the first place!

The bottom line seems to me to be: Use old stuff. Reusing anything is better than buying a new 'green' object. The worst steel bottles are the red colored ones - every time I see someone drink from one, I think, "Noooo! Don't drink that kerosene!" But that's just the Boy Scout in me...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Missing Seattle

I haven't even left, and I miss Seattle already.

Perhaps it was this cartoon by Milt Priggee...

Not that I'm not a sports fan. I root for the Cubs and try to find places to watch my beloved Pitt Panthers. But it's the other stuff I'd rather do. And the study has particularly suspect scoring methods for 'misery.' Namely not including pro soccer, for which many Seattlites go bonkers for and for giving more misery points to teams that reach the finals but lose... Maybe Seattle residents just find ways to celebrat that they actually got to the finals...

Lest you think this cartoon inaccurate, I live in Seattle, and routinely see eagles, owls, red tailed hawks, Cooper's hawks and ferocious hummingbirds from my window. Salmon spawn within city limits. Seals hang out near the Ballard locks to harvest said fish. And we see snow-capped mountains on any day with clouds above a 7,000 foot ceiling. You can rent a kayak two blocks from my apartment.

Ahhh, Seattle.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dream a Dream

Evidently, television coverage of the "Tea Party" on tax day was pre-empted by another story. Since I've given up using the television for acquiring my news in any form other than presented on Comedy Central or in live broadcasts (debates, live speeches, CSPAN and the lot), I didn't catch this other story until it was echoed in the morning newspapers. Yesterday, a 47-year-old Scot performed a rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables" on the UK's equivalent of American Idol and brought down the house. Much rubbish was made of her frumpy appearance, older age and romantic status in advance of (and after) the performance. Which reminds me that our current day conception of talent is inectricably linked to looks and social status. I'm glad that the show (titled "Britain's got Talent") actually brought out the talent it advertises. Especially if it drowned out some of the shouting about the illogical Tea Party. I actually enjoyed sending in my check this year. But then again I like the idea of the government funding science, cleaning the air, caring for the poor sick and lame, building roads and even defending freedom. I think the rich conservative broadcasters who orchestrated this Tea Party are celebrating a la David Horsey...

I've not embedded the clip because YouTube has restricted it and because if you are visiting my front page, you still get to hear the "Imperial March" in the background. Wondering why? Read this. Then watch Susan Boyle live a dream.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


This week at The Differential, I took a stab at suggesting an entry for the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (The DSM V will be coming out in May 2012.) Nothing serious, though. My disease has been informally diagnosed for decades: senioritis. Head over there to check if you feel any of the symptoms or demonstrate any of the major or minor signs...

I'd say I had some senioritis before I started my current orthopedics trauma rotation. The schedule alone cured it for me...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Zone 6b!!!

Was I ever excited a few minutes ago when I learned that New Haven is located in USDA climate zone 6b! That's the dark yellow zone on this map.It's no 9a as in Seattle, but 6b is better than Chicago's 5a or Pittsburgh's 5b - two places I've gardened in the past. It's looking good that we will have a yard (0.09 acres minus the house's footprint), so if we have any time after (1) being residents and (2) minor remodeling projects, the yard will offer us an urban oasis. And vegetables. This year even!

Anyway, this is the sort of information that helps you get through the labor of packing...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Emergency Policy

Now that I'll be moving to Connecticut to further my medical education, I've tried to start paying attention to health policy in that state. An article in the New York Times today sated my weekly appetite for such information. The punchline is that in this difficult budget cycle, the governor of CT (M. Jodi Rell) has proposed cutting state support to the state's only emergency flight system. LifeStar is headquartered in Hartford, but as this map shows, conducts about 250 flights a year to the Yale-New Haven Hospital.

If the cuts are approved, there will be financial capacity for only about half of the flights now made. The governor's office cites that this program is run from a private hospital as a reason to be included in the cuts. The problem with this reasoning is that there is no other service in the state making this kind of transport. According to the article, legislators on an appropriations subcommittee recently recommended restoring the entire $1.4 million that was cut. Even so, I think it's reasonable to engage in discussions about the cost of emergency transport. It seems to me the $9000 per flight cost is worth saving a life.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

No Sour Grapes Here!

It's clear from earlier posts I've made that I'm not the biggest fan of the residency match process. One thing that I can get excited about is the move across country. A small part of that is that if I don't get excited about it, I don't think I'd be able to finish all the tasks associated with the relocation. We're headed to New Haven on a red-eye tonight. Which is the beginning of the end of my career as a medical student. It's also the beginning of the end of my contributions to The Differential. Which is just more reason why you should head over there an read my latest column.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


In Seattle, there's an apartment complex at 1811 Eastlake Ave. where homeless alcoholics can stay for free. They are not prohibited from drinking alcohol. They stay there at no charge. This program costs the King County taxpayers $4 million a year. Are you outraged?

What if I told you that these same 95 homeless folks cost the city $8.2 million dollars a year before enrolling in the program? That's a savings of $4 million a year!

A study describing this finding was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association yesterday, and was described in a brief article in the (now online-only) Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Thinking About Next Year?

We're off to New Haven this weekend search for a domicile, which right now is one of the most pressing thoughts for soon-to-graduate medical students. But if you're a third year medical student, you're thinking about plans for next year. There's a lot that you can control about your life, and it starts with arranging a good curriculum. Check out my tips for doing it just the way you want at The Differential.

And don't tell me you can't read it because you've no password. Log-ins are free!!!

No Foolin'


In Seattle.

April 1.


Meanwhile, it's 50 degrees in New Haven...

Go figure.