Monday, July 31, 2006

On the road: Palo Alto


On the road: San Francisco

One day it was cold and foggy, the next day it was warm with blue skies. San Francisco is a great city, but it is much more like Seattle than LA.

My wife ran the first half of the San Francisco marathan, which is great. The race goes across the Golden Gate bridge, which is in many of the photos she took. The bridge is a wonerful icon -- you instantly know where the picture was taken.

The rather seedy Tenderloin has the greatest concentration of Pakistani restaurants (yes, Pakistani, not Indian or Bangladeshi) that I've seen in the US.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

On the road: Big Sur

Big Sur is the most stunning stretch of road in the US. Really fantastic, and great fun in a Mini Cooper S.

On the road: Santa Monica part 2

Surfed with dolphins this morning.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Eel ice cream

Aspirin originally came from the bark of the willow tree. It tasted foul but was good at relieving pain, so people ate it anyway.

Modern aspirin is made in a factory out of chemicals. It has never even seen a willow tree.

Does modern aspirin lose something because it began its life in a test tube and not as part of a living, breathing organism? The is no, of course, but people feel that things that came from living things may carry over some essential "life essence" that makes that version of it more special. There are shades of animism to this sentiment, and I feel it too.

At any rate, what to make of ice cream that contains a protein first found in the blood of eel-like fish that live in the Arctic Ocean?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On the road: Santa Monica

Surfing is very hard. It's constituent parts are simple: board, ocean, wave; but putting it all together is difficult.

On my first day I could only just stand up. On my second day I could stand and catch whitewater reliably. On my third day I was beaten up repeatedly by enormous waves as I ventured outside the break and tried to catch a wave before it broke.

Oh yes, Venice Beach rocks.

Friday, July 21, 2006

On the road: San Diego

People here are much better looking than people on the East Coast. Much better. Must be all that sunshine and healthy outdoor living.

(But if you go to Comicon, this effect vanishes.)

Yahoo! to offer non DRM music

Nice article on Yahoo! selling non-DRM music. They make the obvious point that
DRM doesn't add any value for the artist, label (who are selling DRM-free music every day -- the Compact Disc), or consumer, the only people it adds value to are the technology companies who are interested in locking consumers to a particular technology platform. We've also been saying that DRM has a cost. It's very expensive for companies like Yahoo! to implement. We'd much rather have our engineers building better personalization, recommendations, playlisting applications, community apps, etc, instead of complex provisioning systems which at the end of the day allow you to burn a CD and take the DRM back off, anyway!'
Brilliant.(via /.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

On the road: Mojave desert

It's 114 degrees out. There is a couple bicycling down I-15 to LA through the desert. She's from Switzerland, her boyfriend is from France, and the bizarre tandem combo-recumbant/upright bike they are riding is from Germany. But really, they are all from Crazyland.

Once they get to LA, the lady tells me they are going on a boat to Australia, where I guess they will continue their bike ride.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

On the road: Las Vegas

I love Las Vegas. It's the most egalitarian city in the world (all they care about is the color of your money) and built entirely on a dream. It remind me of Dubai.

The Cirque du Soleil show Ka is fantastic. The food at Craftsteak is similar to Craft in NYC, but the service is much slower, and the portions much larger.

The Bellagio has a wonderful Chihuly ceiling, and an occassionally tough poker room.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On the road: Utah

There are wildfires along Route 15 south of Salt Lake. Although you can get cell reception all through the Rockies (including tunnels through the mountains) there is nothing, nothing at all on 70 through Utah until -- well I don't know yet as I have yet to see anything. There is effectively no speed limit here, as there are no people, or cars.

It is 105 degrees out. It looks like the surface of the moon.

Friday, July 14, 2006

On the road: Denver

Denver is stunning. Coors is not worth drinking no matter what Eisenhower and Ford thought. I wish I could have spent more time here.

They should also suspend the speed limit on route 70 between Kansas and Denver. It's flat, clear, and empty for over 500 miles. And then you see the Rockies -- beautiful.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

On the road: Kansas City

The lamb ribs and beef burnt ends at Jack Stack's in Overland Park will make your trip here worthwhile all by themselves.

On the road: Chicago

Chicago is a great city. I really enjoyed my time here where I was at the University of Chicago GSB. I would recommend checking out the enormous chrome blob at Millenium Park -- a great experience on a sunny, clear day. I also like the Chicago-style pizza at the original Unos downtown, and the New Haven style pizza at Piece out in Bucktown/Wicker Park.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Medical malpractice

This Slate article argues that the increase in medical malpractice awards and insurance is driven by actual errors and real harm done to the patient, not juries awarding crazy amounts to plaintiffs.

If so, medical malpractice jury awards are bucking the trend -- when NYC made jury duty mandatory, and juries became comprised of normal New Yorkers, not just the poor (who were more likely to want to give money from rich to poor, no matter where the fault lay), the found that awards dropped sharply (cannot find New Yorker article that had this).

While Slate says the Democrat's plan for giving money to hospitals so they can analyze their law suits and reduce error is a good one, I'm not sure why hospitals do not already have all the incentive they need to work hard at rooting out medical error. After all, hospitals pay dearly for legal council and malpractice insurance already and want to keep their patients alive. Why aren't they focused on reducing error already? And if they don't care about reducing error now, why will tax payer money make them more likely to do so?

One idea is that malpractice insurance is mostly paid by doctors through foregone wages, and any monetary benefits from reductions in errors will accrue to the physician, not the hospital. But individual physicians do not have the ability to coordinate across multiple units in a hospital and reduce error, so the improvements never happen.

Another idea is that physicians are simply not comfortable with admitting to error, which goes to the heart of how to reduce it. There are another New Yorker article that says autopsies are no longer performed in the US, because physicians will not admit to error. Certainly medical culture makes it hard to admit being wrong, and there is the fear that if you admit you made a mistake, you may get sued.

Lastly, by and large medical research does not focus on process. The ER is the most process focused department in the hospital, and their research rarely looks at systematic causes, and fixes, for errors, it focuses on what the best treatment is. Physicians, when they do research at all, do medical research, not operations research.

I don't see how tax payer money will change any of the above though. Capping medical malpractice may make doctors and hospitals more open to admitting and researching mistakes (because they are no longer afraid they will be sued to pieces), but I think that's a weak argument too.

Monday, July 10, 2006

On the road: Milwaukee

Milwaukee is much better than you think it is. It's like a small Chicago, with much less traffic and more parking. Summerfest (world's largest music festival) is fun, Iterra makes great coffee, and there are Harley Davidson's everywhere.

The Third Ward, a once run down industrial area just south of the city proper has been renovated, with nice lofts and stores replacing abandoned warehouses. I do not understand how so much riverfront property could lie fallow for so long. I also don't know who is buying these pricey, trendy new appartments.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

On the road: Baltimore

I've been told that Baltimore's new motto is "get in on it". It's old motto was "the city that reads" which just caused people to laugh, and the new one reflects the fact that people who have actually been to Baltimore think more highly of it than people who have not. I'm sure "much better than you think" was suggested, and shot down.

Baltimore is a fun, quirky place. Homicide was shot here. Edgar Allen Poe is buried here. Babe Ruth was born here, as was the wine world's bete noir, Robert Parker. Watch a John Water's movie (from Baltimore, probably shot in Baltimore) and you have a good sense of what the place is like. Pick up a City Paper (for free) and you will know everything that is going on.

The food here is remarkably good, and good value. I recommend Peter's Inn, Obrycki's crabs, Oliver's beer, and there are lots of other good options too. If you are in town, check out the new Smithsonian American Art Museum in DC (just opened) and shlep over to Gaithersburg MD for the beer at the Dogfishhead tavern there. Hey, it's closer than Rehoboth.

On the road: Boston

I'm heading across the country from Boston to California.

For those of you thinking of moving to Boston, I recommend buying waterproof boots, a big warm jacket (lands end has some great, reasonably priced options), and if you are driving, this big yellow street atlas that basically lays out all the streets at a 1:2 scale, which is the level of detail you need given how crazy the roads are down there.

Recommended restaurants: I like Chez Henri, Punjabi Dhaba, and the Border Cafe in Cambridge. Great Bay is remarkably good in Boston. All in all, though, the food in Boston is not great, and tends to be pricey.