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Friday, December 30, 2005

Yet another reason the British are better than us:

From the British Medical Journal's annual Christmas Cheer edition (full articles are currently free). Also, check out BMJ.com for a "Interventions for preventing and treating a hangover", and "Epidemiology and prognosis of coma in daytime television dramas".

The case of the disappearing teaspoons: longitudinal cohort study of the displacement of teaspoons in an Australian research institute

Objectives
To determine the overall rate of loss of workplace teaspoons and whether attrition and displacement are correlated with the relative value of the teaspoons or type of tearoom.

Design Longitudinal cohort study.

Setting Research institute employing about 140 people.

Subjects 70 discreetly numbered teaspoons placed in tearooms around the institute and observed weekly over five months.

Main outcome measures Incidence of teaspoon loss per 100 teaspoon years and teaspoon half life.

Results 56 (80%) of the 70 teaspoons disappeared during the study. The half life of the teaspoons was 81 days. The half life of teaspoons in communal tearooms (42 days) was significantly shorter than for those in rooms associated with particular research groups (77 days). The rate of loss was not influenced by the teaspoons' value. The incidence of teaspoon loss over the period of observation was 360.62 per 100 teaspoon years. At this rate, an estimated 250 teaspoons would need to be purchased annually to maintain a practical institute-wide population of 70 teaspoons.

Conclusions The loss of workplace teaspoons was rapid, showing that their availability, and hence office culture in general, is constantly threatened.

and

Shape of glass and amount of alcohol poured: comparative study of effect of practice and concentration

Objective To determine whether people pour different amounts into short, wide glasses than into tall, slender ones.

Design College students practised pouring alcohol into a standard glass before pouring into larger glasses; bartenders poured alcohol for four mixed drinks either with no instructions or after being told to take their time.

Setting University town and large city, United States.

Participants 198 college students and 86 bartenders.

Main outcome measures Volume of alcohol poured into short, wide and tall, slender glasses.

Results Aiming to pour a "shot" of alcohol (1.5 ounces, 44.3 ml), both students and bartenders poured more into short, wide glasses than into tall slender glasses (46.1 ml v 44.7 ml and 54.6 ml v 46.4 ml, respectively). Practice reduced the tendency to overpour, but not for short, wide glasses. Despite an average of six years of experience, bartenders poured 20.5% more into short, wide glasses than tall, slender ones; paying careful attention reduced but did not eliminate the effect.

Conclusions To avoid overpouring, use tall, narrow glasses or ones on which the alcohol level is premarked. To avoid underestimating the amount of alcohol consumed, studies using self reports of standard drinks should ask about the shape of the glass.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Welcome to the Real OC, Bitch!

I went to pick up my Dodgers Seats yesterday. I've been looking to buy a couple for several years; the Dodgers finally cooperated by replacing all their seats this off season. I am now the proud owner of M 7 and M 8. They are quite authentic, with real gum and everything.
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As we were already in LA, we decided to take a tour of the Real OC. Sorry I didn't bring the camera. Here's a picture of the Redondo Beach Pier:
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It's a really weird shaped pier. Rebecca's father died there, and I think Ryan punched somebody. We had breakfast at the Redondo Beach Coffee Shop, and sat at Ryan and Seth's table. Seth and Ryan just call the place "the Coffee Shop". Calling it the Redondo Beach Coffee Shop might be a little absurd, no? The Bait Shop was closed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It begins...

Next door neighbor (cube neighbor, not regular neighbor) brings in a tiny Christmas tree and places it on the top shelf so it will be clearly visible from my cube. To counteract, I am forced to stick up a manilla folder (you know, to block my view). My side says: "Don't Look Here!!!" in 82 font, or something like that. Her side? Oogie Boogie:
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Avian Flu?????

There are at least two of us who think this bird flu thing is a hoax.

http://www.mercola.com/blog/2005/oct/18/avian_flu_epidemic_scare_is_a_hoax

Monday, November 28, 2005

Land sick...

For you non-nautical types, it's kind of like being seasick...except you don't notice until you get out of the boat...and everything keeps rocking. Trying to sleep=bad. Drinking=good.

I spent the afternoon skippering a Shields in UC Irvine's annual Turkey Day Regatta (which always seems to be the Sunday after Thanksgiving). Somehow, I ended up with the slowest boat in the fleet, Mildred, which actually belongs to Harvey Mudd College. What is Harvey Mudd doing with a Shields? You ask...I can only tell you what they're not doing with a Shields: maintaining it.

Parts that broke (or we noticed were missing) during the race:

1) Backstay (cleat broken)
2) Downhaul/cunningham (missing)
3) Jib fairlead block (not attached)
4) Spinnaker pole mast attachment (missing)
5) Starboard winch (not winching very well)
6) Halyard winch (missing)

I had a good jury rigger on board and ended up finishing in 5th. Boat number 6 had some problems of their own and quit early.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Whatever happened to Lasko font? Those Microsoft bastards have decided that none of you need it. I disagree. So, after a long, but successful search, I have installed it on this here computer. In order for this to work, I need everybody else to install it, as well. So here it is, available free for download: CAC Lasko Even Weight. Extract it into the file that contains your other fonts. On my computer this was at: C:\WINNT\Fonts (I suppose this will be different for anybody not running Windows NT).
As far as I know, this file contains no viruses, but please use at your own risk.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

This just in: I am famous.

Since most of you can't read the company start page (on our intranet), I took the liberty of mirroring the page right here. Sorry, the weather and some other stuff may be missing. You have no idea how long this took.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

New Template and another Mud Run.

The old one had some stray html that was messing up my comments. It's called "Harbor". We'll see how this one goes.

Anyway, I got roped into another Mud Run. I am not a huge fan of mud or anything, so why do I keep doing it? Here's the after photo. (On the far left: Ed Feaver, President of Prescription Solutions; to his right: Bill Mickle, Vice President of Operations; next to me is Ed Pezalla, Vice President and Medical Director--my boss).
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Nico and I spent the rest of the weekend in San Diego. We stayed at the Omni, in the Gaslamp Quarter. The hotel is attached to Petco Park, which would have been pretty cool if the Padres had been playing. We did have an impressive view (although the sun never came out) of the Harbor and Coronado Bridge. Here's the Dole Pineapple Boat. From Hawaii?
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P.S. Please click my sponsor at the top. I think I get a penny, or something.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I picked up a new reader (I think that makes 5), my co-worker Daniel. He's been asking me to update my blog. I told him that a successful blog update requires many factors, but that I could only remember two: 1) material, especially material of interest...or at least inspiration, and 2) time. I really don't have any interesting material, and as usually I don't have any time. I do however have a thread of emails relating to quest for a handheld GPS that I need because Daniel makes us walk too fast. I sent out an email to the UCI Sailing Club member list, because I figured there must be a sailor with a handheld GPS. Here's an exchange I had with a member that I don't think I know. I removed last names and headers...and I guess the location of my building so no psychos will come and kill me. Otherwise no editing, really:

Me: Anybody have a handheld GPS I can borrow for a day or two? My company just moved, and I'm trying to plot a new one mile walking course (on land, not sea). Thanks!

Chris: GPS?? Why not just use your car or bike to plot a course. Or a Thomas guide; each square is 1/2 mile on a side ( I think, you'll want to check that.)

Me: You make it sound so simple, but you have no idea how strange some of my coworkers are. One of them insists we walk a 15 minute mile (twice a day). I can run a marathon, but do you have any idea how fast you have to walk to go an entire mile in 15 minutes? The company has moved to ------ (across the street from the ---- ---- building); I would prefer not to walk on the street, and all the business have these neat courtyards with fountains, etc. So I pull some satellite photos from Google maps (they even have a scale listed), and the 15 minute mile guy measures a course with a ruler, or something. I think his course ends up closer to a mile and a half, and at the end of the day, my toes are bruised and my knees are killing me. I thought about bringing in the bike speedometer, but it's currently attached to the tandem...that seems like a lot of work.

After going back and reading this email, I'm now looking like the crazy person, and perhaps my coworkers are all perfectly normal. Fortunately, I've been offered one of those Nike GPS watches. (I think they give speed/distance, without all the mapping features of a regular GPS unit; that should be sufficient). Anyway, thanks for the advice. If I worked with normal people, it would be more than adequate. (My first thought was: "Let's walk this way for 7 or 8 minutes, then turn around and walk back". I was stared at blankly).

Chris: Thank you for the humor; I suspect it was unintended, but your email got me laughing out loud. Bruised toes and killing knees -- why is this funny? Dunno, but it is.

Just because GPS says where you are, and how far you've gone doesn't make it accurate.

If you ride the tandem while your friend, I mean crazy coworker, walks, you should be able to keep up without your toes getting bruised. Won't that be a cartoon, you riding a tandem while your friend walks vigorously. People will assume you've done something to offend him, so he got off the bike, and now you're trying to apologize.

You could hire a local survey company like Psomas, to come out and layout a course for you. They could set nails in the concrete every 0.1 mile, so you can see if you're on track for your 4 mph. Actually 4 mph is a pretty fast clip; reasonably easy on a treadmill, but hard to average in the real world. I've always been surprised how slowly I go on a hike; 2.5 mph is not unusual for an overall average when hiking with others. So what profession are your coworkers anyway, that your "let's go this way, then go back" was ignored?

Me: The humor is always intended, but nobody ever gets it. At the end of my Capri 1 classes I always get a couple of comments that I'm not funny enough or that I don't tell enough jokes. I just started a new class over the weekend; this time, when they don't laugh, I've been pausing for a few seconds and then telling them that was a joke...go ahead and laugh. So far they've at least been humoring me. Maybe I need to bring a laugh track, or something. I work for Prescription Solutions (part of PacifiCare), with a bunch of pharmacists. From your email, I'm guessing you're an engineer. We're actually a lot like engineers, which explains why nobody wanted to walk for 7 and a half minutes and then turn around. At least I think that explains it. Thanks for the tandem imagery, and the Psomas suggestion (that might be a little beyond our budget. Remember, I'm too cheap to spring $70 for a handheld GPS). Back to work.

Chris: Guilty as charged. I could charge you a bunch of money laying out a multi-phased program to lay out a variety of courses of lengths appropriate to your workout needs; longer when preparing for a marathon, shorter for recovery days. Then I could sell you instrumentation to automatically track your progress at utilizing these courses, but I get to keep the instrumentation.

I've been in the public sector for 11 years, but before that I was a consultant, and plan to return to the consulting world after I'm through with my gig here. So I'm working on my consulting rap.

Monday, September 12, 2005

My Mexican Siesta!

Alternative titles were: ¿Dónde está la farmacia? (Sadly, that's a Pulp Fiction reference for anyone who is about five years younger than me).

The Mexican Riviera??? (The question marks are optional as a knock on socialism, perhaps more on that later...we'll see how long this post gets).

Zih... What? (From the The Shawshank Redemption; haven't seen the movie in a while, but if memory serves, Tim Robbins tells Morgan Freeman to meet him down in Zihuatanejo, I guess Morgan Freeman's response was not uncommon. Zihuatanejo [pronounced something like zee-watt-a-NEH-ho] and Ixtapa [eeks-TAH-pa] are Nahuatli words, not Spanish, so I think some of the Hotel workers pronounce the names wrong.

But I digress, and this post has gotten too long already. So Nico plans a relaxing vacation South of the Border to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. Ixtapa was conceived by the federal government in the late 1960s as a master planned tourist resort. Sort of like Irvine, only for tourists...and on a much, much larger scale...Anyway, it's supposed to be much, much quieter than say, Cancun, or any other Mexican Beach destination. Also, we were there in the off season, Americans only go to Mexico in the Winter, go figure. Here's a picture of Nico on the beach, only about half of the highrise hotels are visible: Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

But we weren't staying near those highrises, we were about 3 or 4 miles down the road at the Melia Azul Ixtapa, an all-inclusive resort in an even quieter part of Ixtapa. Here's a picture from our balcony:

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That island behind us seemed to have a few names, but was mostly called "Ixtapa Island". We kayaked there, and snorkeled with a hotel guide (Jose who spoke little English, despite having lived in Anaheim for a while)...we felt bad, because he kept diving down and breaking up the coral reef and crushing pieces together to get the fish to come by and feed. I didn't know how to stop him without being rude. On another day, we took a sort of water taxi there for 60 pesos round trip (for both of us, that's a little less than $6. We never figured out if they over charge the tourists or not). Unfortunately, the island is not terribly relaxing, as it is almost completely covered by restaurants and their beach chairs (there's supposed to be a picture of me in a very Gilligan's Island looking thing...Nico); you're never hungry when you're staying in an all inclusive resort.
Here's a shot of some of these restaurants
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And a picture of (part of) our hotel from the island, you can sort of see how isolated we were:
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I guess I've neglected to write anything about Zihuatanejo, which was about 7 or 8 miles from our hotel. Billed as a small fishing village, it felt like a large city after a few days of sitting poolside/beachside at our resort. ZIH, I think is the correct abbreviation, is a real city, not run by the feds, and it's where most of the resort workers live. The hotel said the cab fare would run about 110 pesos (around $10 or 11 US if you haven't figured out the math, but we think the hotel gets a cut for letting cabs park out front). But Nico and I are adventurous, and decided to take the bus. Buses in Mexico, at least Ixtapa/Zihautanejo are not quite what you are thinking of as I sit here typing the word bus. On our final (taxi) ride to the airport I realized I didn't have a picture of one, so I tried really hard to shoot a photo on the way...it was not easy. Here are a couple of the better ones:

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For the two of us, the trip costed 14 pesos ($1.40) to ZIH (and 12 pesos to "downtown" Ixtapa). I only saw 2 marked bus stops, and there are no schedules. Mostly we would stand on a curb, say "NO" to the taxis, and after a few minutes of waiting, a bus would stop. The bus drivers would occasionally drive very slowly, and wait for passengers to show up. At other times they would appear to race with the other buses, pitching the bus around the curves. We think the driver gets a cut, or perhaps all of the days take...if there's another bus right behind, you have to go faster, otherwise it pays better to go slower. I'm not sure if this is a shining example of capitalism or another knock on the government that is obviously paying for all of these buses.

Mainly we walked around ZIH looking for sailboats, as there's supposed to be a nice marina there. But September is fishing season. There were a couple of large sailboats for the tourists, but the cruisers don't arrive in large numbers until January or so. Some day I shall return. I do believe the link to the right still works if anybody would like to contribute. Hint, hint.

Lest I forget, I was also looking for Mexican drugs! No, not that kind. I was on a quest for Maxalt, a migraine medication that runs about $3 a tablet even with my insurance. Now I knew that pharmacists in Mexico were not terribly well trained; I had heard that most college educated pharmacists worked for industry (probably more like biochemists in this country). We must have gone into a dozen pharmacies; most were staffed by teenage girls, and I don't think a single one spoke English. ¿Tiene Maxalt? I'd ask while presenting one of my tablets. Most would just say, "No Tengo". Some would giggle and show me their condom case. In one pharmacy, that actually said "Drugstore" out front (picture below), the girl inside had to show my Maxalt to her friends outside who also had quite a chuckle over it. Even if I had been looking for condoms, is it that funny? I guess the name might be...Maxalt. For you non-pharmacists, Maxalt comes in these weird foil wrapped packages, that look like this:

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I would usually follow with: "No, para Migrania". Not sure if my spelling is correct, but I've been typing for too long to find the Spanish dictionary. Still nothing. One older woman looked around and found me some drug I had never heard of. I'm guessing it was an antihistamine based on the generic name, that I can no longer remember. Anyway, we went to a lot of FarmaProntos (they were everywhere, must be the Rite Aid of Mexico. Finally, one had a computer and offered to order it for me. "¿Cuánto?" I ask. 330 pesos. That's not sounding too bad, if they come in a package of nine like in the U.S. "¿Cuántos hay?" Which I think is "How many"? "Dos", she replies. So I'm looking at $15 per tablet. Slightly cheaper than U.S. retail prices. So now I know why no pharmacy in Mexico has heard of the stuff. Nobody making a dollar an hour can afford to treat their migraines. I'd say shame on you Merck, but the U.S. should not be subsidizing drugs for the rest of the world. I don't want to get into that here, and the drug isn't very good anyway. Regardless, anybody who thinks they can save money by pruchasing drugs in Mexico...
Here's my pictures of Mexican pharmacies, sorry I didn't take any of the insides...they were not impressive...unless you consider proximity to flies and rotting vegetables impressive (that was only one of them):

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So I did get in a little sailing. The hotel had a couple of Hobie Waves. If you're still reading and followed that link, the people in the picture make it look like I was doing something wrong, because we were not having that kind of fun sailing the thing. There was very little wind, and it was very hot, but the Hobie Wave is a pretty lame boat...also the hotel's boats were not in the best shape. For you sailors: Hobie waves lack dagger boards (the boat does not point), there is no boom vang (the boat does not sail down wind, even by catamaran standards), and there is not even a boom. Other missing items that you might expect on a sailboat (especially a catamaran): a traveler, and as I see on the Hobie site, a jib kit is available...but, no tenemos); but the worst day sailing...yada, yada. We were the only people at the resort that took the thing out alone. The last couple of days some other guests went out with activities staff members on board. They also had a Hobie Getaway that they were cleaning one day and even put the sails up. I asked if we could take it out, but was told it was broken. It looked like one of the gudgeons had broken off. If any of my sailing students have wandered here and can tell me what a gudgeon is, I will buy you a Sprite. Looks like the Getaway also has no daggerboards, boomvang, or boom. Also it's made of polyethylene. Can that be fixed? Oh well, not my boat.

Other than that, sat by the pool, sat by the beach. Ate a lot. Scale says I only gained about 3 pounds, but I also got some running/sculpting in. I planned on drinking a whole lot of mojitos. But, the hotel had no mint. So no mojitos. Also, I discovered after day 1 that even small amounts of alcohol gave me a terrible headache, so I came up with interesting non-alcoholic beverages for them to make me. I finally settled on sparkling water with lime. This was hard to order, as they did not seem to understand any Spanish word I used for sparkling, bubbles, or anything else I could think of. Finally, one of the waiters asked "Mineral water?" and that stuck. The point of the mojito story was, we planned to bring a bunch of one dollar bills to give to the waiters and bartenders, who probably make less than that per hour. The resort had said tips were included in the "all-inclusive" charge. So I go to the bank and get forty singles last Friday; not coordinating, Nicole picked up a hundred. It's very hard to spend money at an all-inclusive resort, we felt stupid tipping on water, and pesos last forever. I tried to give the pesos to the activities staff at the end of the week because I made them rig the sailboat so many times, and many of them learned our names, but most of them had the weekend off. I invited one of them sailing next time he's up here and told him to pass along the invitation to the others. This picture is from above and does not do the thickness of this wad of cash any justice. Here's what our stash looked like right before we checked out:
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One final picture of Nico on a deserted section of Ixtapa Island. We didn't stay too long because there was no shade on here. Nude photos of Nico are posted on my new website, www.takealotofdrugs.mx, also featuring the hottest in naked Mexican women. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to cover another $9 a year to register another domain on my own, so I have to charge for this one. Please make a contribution to the boat fund at the right...Any contribution will do, and I'll unlock the domain for you. Really.
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Friday, July 08, 2005

I suppose I can't just type that Gregg Feinerman, MD is the worst ophthalmologist in the world, as that could possibly be construed as libel. However, he is certainly the worst ophthalmologist I've ever met; nay, Gregg Feinerman, MD is the worst physician I've ever met.

So I've had an eyeache/headache for over a month, most certainly the result of this here computer monitor and the evil, overhead fluorescent lights. I've seen my optometrist, who made me computer glasses. I've never seen clearer up to about 3 feet, but no eyeache/headache resolution. I saw the regular doctor, who eventually sent me across the hall to Gregg Feinerman, the worst ophthalmologist I've ever met. There I was given a prescription for Tobradex because my eyes looked red. For you non-pharmacists reading this blog, Tobradex is a combination antibiotic/steroid eye drop. Why would anybody prescribe a combination antibiotic/steroid? When your doctor is too lazy to figure out why your eyes are red, Tobradex will still fix the problem. After 2 more visits to said ophthalmologist, I was told my eyes are fine, and there's no reason I should be having these eyeaches/headaches.

Perhaps I should have visited Gregg Feinerman's website before now. Apparently he's a LASIK surgeon, and eye problems/diseases must be beyond his area of expertise.

In other news, it looks like I'll soon be working for United Health. I hope they do something about the lighting in here.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

When the Vice President/Medical Director invites you to run a 10K, do you automatically agree? I had no idea I was so muddy.
Before and after photos:

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Happy birthday Mr. Wright.



Back to work, I guess.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Has it really been 6 weeks? I need a vacation. Here is my favorite picture from the Big Island. This was at the beginning of our 2 hour hike to see flowing lava. They built this road so that tourists could drive to the lava. Evidently the volcano disagreed with the plan.

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And here's some lava:

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

It's that time of year again, and once again I'm getting ready for a change.

Yesterday, I made an incredible find on a piece of Hawaiian real estate. If that link is no longer good, here's a picture of my reasonably priced ($16k) property:


Does anybody know what lava zone 2 means?

It will probably be a few years before I can afford to build something, so I'll be living in a Yurt for the near future.



You are all invited to visit me any time. Please bring your own shovel.

Thursday, March 31, 2005



I usually don't pay much attention to the google logos; but this Vincent Van Gogh "The Starry Night" rip off is the coolest thing ever. Anybody know where I can buy a framed version?

Monday, March 07, 2005

To my 3 or 4 loyal readers: Please accept my most sincere apologies for my recent lack of blogging. To everybody else that was searching for Henry Winkler's sexual preference: As far as I know, Henry Winkler is not gay. I could be wrong, I really have no idea. But while you're here: enjoy the Arrested Development Drinking Game. Double episode tonight means double drinking.

On to other business. I have been extremely busy. I bought this new car, and it attracts dirt. I just washed it this morning. Have a look: For all you PT Cruiser aficionados out there: Engine is still stock, customizations to date are: Wet Okole seat covers (front only), Yakima removable roof rack (on), Yakima Sidewinder Tandem rack (off), 4 chrome valve stem covers (2 were replaced yesterday; crazy college kids: they were $2 at Pep Boys. Buy your own).

And most of you have probably not seen the new tandem bicycle yet. It's a Santana Noventa. Here's a picture in my new Ultimate Pro Stand, with a bunch of other bikes from out collection in the background:
We sprung for the stowaway model. Would you believe this baby comes apart? Here's me in the bike store learning the process. We have a hundred of these pictures, most of them featuring Leif (sp?) our salesman from Bud's Bikes. If anybody would like to learn more about the process, send me an email, and I'll tell you all I know.

Here's an aerial view of the suitcase it fits in...pretty amazing if you ask me:


Finally, I've had complaints that there are not enough pictures of Nico here. Here she is, along with my 2 licit sisters (if I knew what I was doing, I'd put in a random hyperlink generator, that would direct you to either of their blogs...randomly. But I don't know how to do that. Click on the link to the right if you'd like to visit either site>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>):

Oh, and I started a new job. A new salaried job. And I have to do some work now. Salaried work. Yes, it is Sunday night; and yes, I do hate being salaried.