Friday Distractions

Friday, finally! Here are a few links to break up the work day…

Portraits of Grandmas and their cuisine from around the world – I’ve always wanted an Italian grandmama, this makes me want an Ethiopian and a Bolivian one too.

Lumosity – Extremely addictive mind exercises and games one can play all under the pretense of improving mental agility.  Brain benefits aside, I could play Word Bubbles ’til the cows come home. There’s even a game for helping improve your skills at remembering peoples’ names.

Cabbage Peanut Salad/Slaw – Eat this all summer long. We’re making a huge batch to bring to a graduation party – it keeps well (toss with dressing just before serving), it’s healthy, and it’s a crowd-pleaser.

7-Minute Workout – It’s already made the news rounds, but here’s a how-to video with bad synth music to get you through it. Pair this with the cabbage slaw and 2-3 RAKs and you’re just about at halo status for the weekend.

Potato Salad with capers and mustard – Also coming to the graduation party, but we’ll throw some hard-cooked eggs in too.

Toms River by Dan Fagin – A seriously worthwhile read.

Showcase Superlux – Totally ridiculous luxury theater, but we’re going to splurge for World War Z. Though on second thought, maybe dinner service and zombies don’t really play well together…

And on Sunday, Happy Father’s Day!  My dad raised five girls and, despite extensive hair loss, is still alive to tell the tale.

Yeah, we had matching Pluto sweatshirts. Jealous?

Yeah, we had matching Pluto sweatshirts. Jealous?

A’s Medical “Fact” of the Day

My sister A, a second-year med school student, occasionally contributes Medical Facts of the Day. Today’s is less gory than usual, which is nice because it means that salmon post I’ve got all geared up to go can bookend what you see below. Without further ado…

I Like Ike… and Rat Poison 

The year was 1955. Dwight D. Eisenhower was vacationing with the in-laws in Denver, Colorado, enjoying some golf when he started experiencing some angina. Later that evening, his crushing substernal chest pain intensified, and he was rushed to the nearest hospital. The coronary artery supplying the anterior portion of Ike’s heart, called the Left Anterior Descending or “Widow-maker’s artery” had been blocked by a ruptured atherosclerotic plaque, causing oxygen deprivation of his heart tissue.

In present times, “crushing substernal chestpain,” the telltale sign of a heart attack, is immediately worked up with an EKG and blood tests for cardiac enzymes, and patients are given sublingual aspirin, heparin, oxygen, morphine, and thrombolytics, and placed on secondary prophylaxis with Coumadin. But back in the day, treatment wasn’t so established. Ike was given oxygen, morphine, and heparin, and lay in bed sick for days at enormous risk of suffering from subsequent MI and death.

Wasn’t there something more we could do for this VIP??? Everyone was wondering. Everyone who knew, that is, since his illness was kept secret from the nation. His doctor, Dr. Paul Dudley White, the “Father of American Cardiology” suggested a new treatment – warfarin. Warfarin had been used as rat poison, where in application it led to thinning of the blood and hemorrhage in rodents. There had been very little research done on human subjects, but the drug’s anti-thrombotic effects seemed promising.

So Dr. White gave rat poison to the president. And the president lived, running for another term of presidency just a year later. Warfarin is now routinely used for patients at risk of thromboembolic disease, thanks to Dr. White, Ike, and any rats injured along the way.

Stay tuned for more Presidents in Medicine. Next up: Honest Abe the…Syphilitic?
(Side note: If you like Lincoln, Chris Sarandon, and history, check out Hour 3 of the PBS series God in America. Vested interests are present here.)
Photo credit: Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-104961

Thinking Twice

This is how I feel.

There used to be a great little shop a few blocks from us that only sold local food. In the depths of winter, there wouldn’t be quite as much on the shelves and you couldn’t go there with a recipe in mind, which is sort of freeing. You could always get delicious pre-made dishes, and the meat was out of this world. Unfortunately, after the shop changed ownership about 2 years ago, a belt-tightening economy that doubly dubbed grass-fed beef a luxury (and I’m not saying it isn’t) caused them to shutter rather quickly. I guess the fact that the shop was adjacent to a tanning salon emitting puffs of burnt skin smell along with the A/C couldn’t have helped. Or maybe it did?  That house-rendered leaf lard suuure makes for some good tanning oil.

The original shop owner had an excellent, albeit militant, manifesto posted on his website about eating locally and sustainably. It’s gone now, which is a terrible shame because more than most literature of its nature, it called out Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for some pretty shady corporate games. Didn’t stop me from shopping at both establishments, I’m afraid to admit, but it made me think twice and start asking questions.

Want to know what raises more questions? First, this investigative piece (clip below) from a Philadelphia news station (thanks Mom!). It’s wrapped up in some nauseating zooms and peppered with cringe-inducing commentary, but the meat of the piece is pretty eye-opening.


And this article is a worthwhile read. It’s over a year old but contains at least a glimmer of what that shop owner was pontificating about. The storyline continues today, displayed in this piece in the New York Times.

A’s Medical Fact of the Day

Photo from

My sister A, a second-year med school student, occasionally contributes Medical Facts of the Day. Though I’d prefer not to sandwich food posts around information like you’ll see below, these are fun for their shock appeal. Don’t you feel bad that she has to sit in class and absorb all this information?  With a straight face?? And more fun for me – I get to create the most eclectic group of tags ever separated by commas in the history of blogging!  Without further ado…

A’s Medical Fact of the Day:
Lessons from Immunity, Infection and Disease
Activities, places, food, and other things to avoid if you do not want to catch a horrible infection or parasite:
  • walking barefoot
  • spas and pools
  • fresh water
  • brackish and salt water
  • the tropics
  • the town of Norwalk, Ohio
  • caves
  • pine forests and river basins
  • anywhere a saguaro cactus is growing
  • breathing in urban areas
  • breathing in rural areas
  • meat of all varieties
  • sushi, oysters, crab
  • fresh-water fish
  • salt-water fish
  • you vegetarians think you are safe? watercress, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, spinach, raspberries, snow peas, lettuce, cantaloupes
  • Jamba juice (strawberry)
  • fried rice
  • food at catered events
  • marijuana that has been stored in barns
  • air conditioning cooling towers
  • hotel bedding
  • cruises
  • triathlons
  • 9-banded armadillos, prairie dogs, beavers, bats, reptiles, pigeons, pet birds, dogs, cats
  • bugs with 6 legs
  • bugs with 8 legs
  • centipedes
  • daycares and children in general
Now, go enjoy life! Just don’t buy marijuana from anyone who grows cantaloupes on a cave farm in Norwalk, OH, has kids, and runs triathlons on cruise ships with catered food.

MIT Museum

Though I don’t go the extra mile with wrapping paper, I do try to celebrate the birthdays of those in my nearest vicinity (aka spouse-level) with a little something special.  That’s why, after a stellar brunch at Sportello (soft scrambled eggs with duck hash and roasted root vegetables for him, poached eggs with collard greens over truffled sourdough toast for me), the Mr. and I headed to the MIT Museum. A few weeks before, a Groupon special advertised two tickets for the usual price of one, and in a moment of “maybe just by standing there we’ll sop up all the extra brainpower mucking up MIT’s campus,” I bought them.  It didn’t hurt that there’s a special robot exhibit going on right now.  We do so love our robots.

Turns out we didn’t even have to hand over our tickets, due to a program about the “design, development and impact of Project Whirlwind” starting right as we arrived.  Free admittance! We sat in the audience for part of it, slack-jawed at the sheer genius of the two speakers, Jay Forrester and Robert Everett, both in their 90s, who candidly discussed how they created the first digital computer to operate in real time. These guys are serious brains.

Afterward, we headed up (and down, and up and down and up) the musical steps to the exhibits. That’s the cool thing about this museum – you go from total huh?-moment immersion in concepts far beyond your intellectual capacity right to giggling at the amusing products of the artistic geniuses.

I won’t go deep into what you’ll find in there, but there’s something for everyone. Feats of science, art, engineering, chemistry, architecture, even a reconstructed smashed piano that MIT students shoved off a dormitory roof (they do this nearly every year. Why? To commemorate the deadline for dropping classes during the spring term). If you find yourself tiring of one topic, just step three feet to your right and continue with the next.

The robot exhibit is really something to behold. Walking, talking, emoting – it’s amazing the projections scientists have for Artificial Intelligence. One of the better interactive pieces is simply a magnetic board with markers and paper – visitors write and draw pictures depicting their hopes and ideas for robotic uses.  As you can imagine, this invites low-brow humor, but also more profound and sweet concepts from kids.

Even without free entry or a Groupon deal, this place is worth a visit.  I’m convinced we came out at least 0.0827% smarter than we went in.  And in my book, that’s cause for celebration.