Saturday morning coffee [December 27 2014]

“A man who lives right, and is right, has more power in his silence than another has by his words.” ~Phillips Brooks

So much happens each and every week, and it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

A package arrived on my doorstep Christmas Eve. That’s not unusual this time of year. However, neither my wife nor I were expecting a package. When I opened it I found two coffee mugs inside with a note that said “We were inspired by your blog post the other day”. Very cool. The mugs were sent by MEPS Real-Time, Inc. A very big thank you to the generous people at MEPS.


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was #1 at the box office last weekend. The Hobbit did a respectable $54 million over the weekend. Not bad, but not on par with the Lord of the Rings movies. I don’t really want to see the final installment of The Hobbit, but I’ve invested too much time in the series not to.

Speaking of movies, my family and I went to see The Gambler yesterday afternoon. Not a good movie. John Goodman stole the show with his portrayal of Frank. With that said, the reason we picked The Gambler over all other movies was because my oldest daughter had a bit part. The film needed cheerleaders during the basketball scene at the end. They ended up using some of the UCLA cheer team, which included my daughter. The group spent two 16-hour days filming the basketball and cheer scenes for the movie. And what did that equate to on the screen? I got to see her in a basket toss, and a brief shot of her face as she turned from the court toward the crowd. Total screen time? About two seconds.

Starbucks was founded in Seattle, Washington in 1971. Everyone knows that. But did you know that Starbucks worldwide revenue from 19,767 stores was $14.89 billion in 2013? Yeah, that’s right, people love their frou-frou coffee drinks. (via Statista)

Here’s a little bit of cool pharmacy history from Neil MacKinnon (@RxDeanMac):

I like sweet potatoes. So do lots of people. My favorite way to cook them has always been to keep it simple. I throw them in the oven for a long time, pull them out, add some butter and cinnamon, and eat. Well, for those that like a little more variety you should check out the Greatest list of 45 Creative Ways to Cook Sweet Potato.  I think I’ll try the sweet potato pancakes, or perhaps sweet potato chili.

UCSF News: “Genes are important, but diet may be even more important in determining the relative abundance of the hundreds of health-shaping bacterial species comprising an individual’s gut microbiota, according to UC San Francisco scientists whose latest mouse experiments to probe this nature-versus-nurture balance online December 18, 2014 in Cell Host and Microbe.” – Very interesting, don’t you think?

A homemade rocket? Why the heck not. Here’s a great DIY rocket from a Thai rocket festival. Someone should make this a ride at an amusement part. Some knucklehead would ride it.

From Pharmacy Times - 10 Things That Could Change Pharmacy Practice. The list includes: (1) oversupply of pharmacists, (2) pharmacist provider status, (3) focus on care transitions, (4) point-of-care testing, (5) closed pharmacy networks, (6) health-system consolidations, (7) prescription filling reimbursement, (8) expanding role of the pharmacy technician, (9) more biosimilars, (10) pharmacogenomics. I agree with many of the items on the list, but not all. Pharmacist provider status for one. Pharmacists have spent years, and I mean years, trying to become providers. Do we really want to spend all your energy fighting with physicians and nurse practitioners over who has the right to prescribe? That’s what it will turn into, just you wait and see. Some are funny, like expanding the role of the pharmacy technician. Pharmacy has been preaching this since I graduated pharmacy school in 1997, maybe before. Here’s the thing, we can do this right now, but we don’t. Why not? Fear and laziness.

I really love Evernote, but the scaling on my Yoga 2 Pro high-DPI screen sucks. There’s no other way to describe it. Someone at Evernote needs to fix this. Check out the image below. When I use the web clipper to capture an article, it shows up in Evernote on my Y2P as 6-point font. It looks fine on my other laptops, tablets, and smartphone. Why, Evernote? Why?


I’m a fan of the concept of robotics in healthcare. Let me say that again, the concept of robotics in healthcare. I believe that some day robotics will offer an advantage over the current error-prone human system of doing things. With that said, I don’t think we’re there quite yet. And I’m not the only one. From Not Running A Hospital: “Almost two years ago, James T. Breeden, president of ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) offered a direct and scathing criticism of the use of robotic surgery in hysterectomies.  An excerpt: Many women today are hearing about the claimed advantages of robotic surgery for hysterectomy, thanks to widespread marketing and advertising. Robotic surgery is not the only or the best minimally invasive approach for hysterectomy. Nor is it the most cost-efficient. It is important to separate the marketing hype from the reality when considering the best surgical approach for hysterectomies.” – So think twice before having robotic surgery.

This is interesting, the Defensive Patent License (DPL): “a new legal mechanism to protect innovators by networking patents into powerful, mutually-beneficial legal shields that are 100% committed to defending innovation – no bullies, trolls, or other leeches allowed. It also helps prevent these actors from patenting open technologies and pulling them out of public use. It’s a way for patents to be used for good, and support innovators instead of threatening them.” – I often hear people cry out that patents are a shield to protect the “little guy”. Unfortunately they’ve become a sword for many large companies to gut the little guy.

This month marks the 25th anniversary of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, in which beleaguered patriarch Clark Griswold — played by the inimitable Chevy Chase — tries to engineer the picture-perfect seasonal festivities…It’s the only comedy to appeal to those who live for that deck-the-halls spirit, viewers who are dyed-in-the-wool Grinches (“Well, I don’t know what to say, except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery”) and folks who appreciate the genius of Randy Quaid in his underwear, exclaiming “Shitter’s full!” In honor of the film’s quarter-of-a-century milestone, we’ve asked the cast and creators to weigh in on the seasonal classic. From the intricate planning behind the film’s zany antics to freak snowstorms and cast freak-outs, this is the untold, no-holds-barred story of Christmas Vacation.” – From a great article at Rolling Stone. Highly recommend it to anyone who has seen Christmas Vacation.

High-speed M&M sorter anyone? This is pretty cool. Amazing what a little ingenuity can do. According to the inventor: “My approach sends M&Ms down a chute to start with. But I don’t stop the M&M for colour recognition. Instead I use an iPhone to capture the colour of the M&M as it is in freefall. As it is still falling the iPhone talks to a Bluetooth module attached to an Arduino and that fires off the correct electro magnet controlled gate. This sends the M&M into the correct pot.” Someone in pharmacy hire this man!

It’s the end of 2014, which means everyone is doing best-of and worst-of lists. Engadget has “best gadgets of 2014” and “worst gadgets of 2014”. The lists are fine, although the worst-of list includes the Microsoft Band, which seems odd because people seem to really like it. However, I don’t read these lists for the products. I go to the sites to read the comments. Zealots, man.

The NFL playoffs are finally taking shape. It looks like New England and Denver will lock up the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively in the AFC. Denver could get knocked out of the No. 2 spot, but it’s highly unlikely. The No. 3 seed goes to the winner of the AFC North, unless Denver goes up in flames against Oakland. The No. 4 spot will probably go to Indianapolis with No. 5 and No. 6 falling to the Steelers and possibly San Diego. That’s how I see it, but it could certainly change. The seeding in the NFC is still up for grabs. Four teams are vying for the top seed, five are in the running for the No. 2 seed. Crazy. If Seattle wins, they’ll be the No. 1 seed and likely the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. No matter how you slice it, this weekend offers up some great games.

2014 is coming to a close. It’s been a great year in some regards, not so great in others. There have been high and lows. I had one of the worst moments in my life this year, but I also had some great moments with friends and family. I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions because they’ve never made sense to me. With that said, the beginning of each year is a time for reflection when one can actively decide to make changes. Consider January 1 the starting line, and as the saying goes, it’s a marathon not a spring.  This is my final SMC post of 2014. Here’s wishing you good fortune in the New Year.

Have a great weekend everyone.

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