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2019 January 20

Promote Your Book Party!

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:59

I am participating in  January Promote Your Book Party! – charles french words reading and writing announced as follows:

With 2019 well underway, I thought it was a good time to have the next Promote Your Book Party!

Go there to see a number of authors announcing their books (with links to buy them). Most of the books are fiction, not textbooks like mine.

Project Baseline claims (falsely) to prioritize sharing info with participants

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:56
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In Blog – Project Baseline: A new era of health data: The vision and challenges of returning individual research results, the Project Baseline staff claim

At Project Baseline, we decided that we will prioritize the exploration of providing health information back to participants. We are well aware of the challenges linked to returning results but, in support of our philosophy that we want to take a patient-centric approach to clinical research, we are continuing to work through them.

Unfortunately, they are still not doing a very good job of sharing.

Some things they do well—for example, after the first visit they sent me the lab report on all the blood and urinalysis lab tests (which had no interesting results—the only anomalies were in the lipid test panel, which was flawed because it was not done fasting, and I already have lipid panels done annually).

Other things that they could provide trivially (like being able to download from the web portal the pulse-rate records that the watch collects) they do not provide at all.

Worst, though, is their practice of sharing only bad news.  For example, my December visit included a stress EKG and stress echocardiogram test, and some anomalies were found in the stress EKG.  Because stress EKG has a fairly high false positive rate, the usual followup is to do a stress echocardiogram, to see whether there is any cause for concern.  Their practice of sharing only bad news meant that they gave me the stress EKG results, but not the stress echocardiogram results (which they told me on the phone showed that the stress EKG is a false positive, but no written or e-mailed message said that).  I’m not even going to bother sharing the stress EKG results with my family physician, even though the letter they sent with the report says “We recommend that you contact your healthcare provider about these results”, because she will have no access to the stress echocardiogram that shows it to be a false positive and would be required to order a repeat of the test.

In a way, I’m glad that the stress EKG came up with the anomalies, because that meant that they let me have a copy of the 50-page EKG results, which they otherwise would not have.  I can show some of the EKG traces to my class, when they are making their own one-channel EKG amplifiers.

Also, the report confirmed my suspicion that we had not gotten anywhere near maximum effort on the stress test—my heart rate was still stepping up linearly with effort at the point the cardiologist ended the test, showing no signs of having plateaued. The cardiologist had convinced me to stop at only 6.8 METs (metabolic equivalents), while I routinely run an 8-minute mile, which is supposedly 11.8 METs [].

If they do a stress echocardiogram at next year’s visit, I’m going ask that the cardiologist not stop me before 13 METs, 190bpm, or 220 mmHg systolic pressure, unless I first cry “hold, enough!”  I’d like to know what my max heart rate really is.  (If Project Baseline let me have access to my pulse-rate logs, I could see what my pulse rate gets up to on my daily bike commute or my jogging, which would at least give me a lower bound on my max heart rate.)

Update 2019 Jan 20:  I forgot to mention that some reports (it isn’t clear which) are available, according to an email message they sent:

Visit the Project Baseline mobile app to see your reports!

Please note that these are only available in the mobile app, not the web portal.

Unfortunately, because I don’t have a cellphone (much less a smartphone), I can’t see what is included in these reports.  I’m fairly certain that they don’t allow downloading the day’s or week’s record from the pulse monitor, though.


Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:24
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Gillette has been getting a lot of publicity for their new ad:

The ad itself is not about shaving, though most of the men in it are clean-shaven, but about the difference between being a jerk and behaving like a decent human being.  It is unusual for a company to use their advertising dollars to say something reasonable (rather than just pushing product)—unusual enough that they are getting far more coverage for their ad than they would have for a similar amount spent on a more conventional ad.

Despite the reasonableness of their ad, I won’t be changing razors, though.  I use the Rolls Razor that my father brought with him from England around 1950—it still works fine and I expect it to continue to do so for rest of my life.

My father’s razor still serves me well. The whetstone and strop in the steel case are still in good shape after about 70 years.  There is even a spare blade, should I get tired of the current one.

At one point I considered giving it to my son, but instead I bought him his own Rolls Razor. Even though they haven’t been made since the 1960s, I found one on eBay that was about the same price as when it was new (in the late 1930s or early 1940s)—which really means it was a tiny fraction of the new price, given the rate of inflation since then.

2019 January 12

Wilder Ranch bike ride 2018 Dec 28

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:21
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During winter break, my son and I went for a bike ride in Wilder Ranch State Park, which has popular hiking/mountain biking trails.  I ride a long-wheelbase recumbent bike, which is not really designed for off-road bicycling, and has a higher minimum speed for balancing than most upright bicycles.  That resulted in my having to get off and walk the bike two or three times on steep, rutted portions of the trail.

We took Engelman’s Loop in the clockwise direction.

Here is the view from the first rest stop we made climbing the hill. We had not had much rain yet this season, so the new grass has not yet grown to hide last year’s dried grass. The horse paddock and the ranch buildings are a few pixels in the top center of the image.

You can see my recumbent here at the first rest stop.

The day was fairly clear, so we had a good view of Monterey across the bay, with only a little haze.

Here is my son at the third rest stop.

2019 January 9

8 tens @ 8, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:31
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Last weekend, my wife, my son, and I went to the opening nights for the Actors’ Theatre one-act production 8 Tens @ 8, which runs through February 3.

This year (2019) is their 24th season for this festival, which has grown to 16 one-act plays (8 on A nights, 8 on B nights).  The one-act plays are submitted by playwrights, and a committee of five judges select plays from the submissions for production. This year each of the 16 plays had its own director, and there were 26 cast members each of whom played in one or two plays.  Three of the directors (Helene Simkin Jara, Marcus Cato, and Nat Robinson) were also serving as actors (though not in the plays they were directing).

The plays are performed at Center Stage, a small theater that seats 89 people (including the one wheelchair spot).  Both opening nights were sold out, but we counted 5 empty seats on Saturday night, so some people must have been no-shows.

I won’t provide any spoilers in this post, but I will say that both the A and B nights were equally good (sometimes they pack the best plays into the A night, but this year they seem to have distributed them more evenly).  The writing, acting, and directing were a bit uneven, as you would expect with 16 different playwrights, sixteen different directors, and sixteen different casts.  One of the good things about one-act plays is that if you don’t like one, it will be over soon and replaced by a different one. Overall, I think that the quality was pretty high this year, with at least half the plays being well worth seeing.

The plays are performed as two groups of 4 each night, with an intermission between the groups. In the past, we’ve noticed a tendency to put the best plays at the end of each group, but they don’t seem to have done that this year. Somewhat unusually, the three of us agreed on which one we liked best each night. We liked best Tempus Fugit by Greg Atkins (the first play on Night A) and The Rug by Brian Spencer (the 7th play on Night B).

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