Saturday morning coffee [April 11 2015]

“This above all: to thine own self be true.” – William Shakespeare

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….

The mug below comes straight from the bookstore on the UC San Diego campus. My youngest daughter, Mikaela and I attended Triton Day 2015 last Saturday on the UCSD campus. Mikaela will be attending UCSD starting in the Fall of this year as a NanoEngineering major. After sitting through the Chemical Engineering and NanoEngineering presentations at Triton Day I’m thinking about joining her. It’s a great time to be entering the nanotechnology field.

UCSD Triton Mug

Furious 7 was #1 at the box office last weekend. It’s officially a blockbuster, earning more than $147 million U.S. and an additional $245 million overseas. The ‘Furious’ franchise was already popular, but the death of Paul Walker just put it over the top. I’m not a fan of the series myself. The Fast and the Furious (2001) was pretty good. By the time 2 Fast 2 Furious hit the box office in 2003, the franchise was already too corny for me to watch. I skipped Tokyo Drift (2006), Fast & Furious 4 (2009), and Fast Five (2011) before giving Fast & Furious 6 a go in 2013. The sixth installment was so bad that I had trouble finishing the movie. The one-upmanship for the chase scenes was just too much to bear. After seeing the trailer for Furious 7 I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. No doubt this franchise will go down as one of the most profitable in history, but I won’t be contributing any of my hard-earned dollars to its success.

Medical Xpress: “The proposed link between caffeine and reductions in the beta amyloid plaque accumulation characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) suggest a possible role for caffeine in AD treatment. The latest evidence linking beta amyloid protein to Alzheimer’s disease and exploring the relationship between caffeine and beta amyloid are featured in a review article in Journal of Caffeine Research: The International Multidisciplinary Journal of Caffeine Science.” – Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on there a second. Why hasn’t anyone ever told me that there was a Journal of Caffeine Research? That’s important. Oh yeah, the fact that caffeine may help people with Alzheimer’s disease is big too.

Nanowerk News: “A team of engineers from MIT, Penn State University, and Carnegie Mellon University is developing a novel way to isolate these cells: using sound waves to separate them from blood cells. Their new cell-sorting device is 20 times faster than the original version that they first reported last year, approaching the speed that would be necessary to make it useful for testing patient blood samples.”

Everyday Carry: “At the most literal level, your everyday carry (commonly initialized as EDC) is the collection of items you carry with you in your pockets or in your bag on a daily basis. They’re the things you tap your pockets for before you head out the door, the things you feel naked without, and the things that would throw off your whole day if you had to do without them.” – This is such a cool website. I visit EDC nearly every day, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see something that intrigues me.

I am a novice fountain pen enthusiast. I still enjoy putting pen to paper, and being able to use a variety of pens, nibs and inks interests me. While on the UCSD campus last Saturday I purchased a Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen with black ink. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it writes rather well, especially for the $3 or so I paid for it. If you enjoy using a fountain pen, and you don’t feel like dropping $25 to more than $100 to do it, I recommend the Pilot Varsity.

I’m not a Moleskine notebook fan, but they recently announced a set of Batman Limited Edition Notebooks. They’re pretty cool.

The ability for people to be manipulated by a good sales pitch never ceases to amaze me. I meet very few free thinkers these days.

HIMSS blog: “One key observation I have made is using a patient portal does not achieve true patient engagement for patients and providers…. true patient engagement requires providers to listen to and make the patient part of the process. It also requires patients to actively participate in the care process, have access to and, the ability to inform their health data and, partner with their care providers for patient engagement to be successful.” – I agree with the general statement here, i.e. you need to listen and engage the patient. However, I think the idea of a patient portal is a bit pie in the sky at this point in time. I’ll give you a great example. UCSF has a patient portal. It sucks. The information on it is nearly useless and navigating around inside it is difficult. My family and I used it at times to help care for my mom during the last year of her life. Here’s the thing, my mom never had a computer or smartphone, and when UCSF would say something like “that information is on the portal”, they may as well have been telling my mom to go build a nuclear reactor. How about we focus on the patient for a while.

Gawker: “Vani Hari, AKA the Food Babe, has amassed a loyal following in her Food Babe Army….She’s also utterly full of shit. I am an analytical chemist with a background in forensics and toxicology…Reading Hari’s site, it’s rare to come across a single scientific fact. Between her egregious abuse of the word “toxin” anytime there’s a chemical she can’t pronounce and asserting that everyone who disagrees with her is a paid shill, it’s hard to pinpoint her biggest sin.” – Hari is basically Apple of the nutrition industry. The article is great. I highly recommend taking ten minutes out of your day to read it.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is now available for purchase. What a great device. 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED Display (2560 x 1440, 577 PPI), 16MP rear camera, fast charging (10 minute charge gives up to 4 hours of battery life), built in wireless charging, and a 64-bit octa-core processor. I’m not in the market for a new smartphone at the moment, but if I was this would be the one. Can’t wait to see what Samsung has in store for the Note 5.

Controlled Environments: “Advanced Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) at North Carolina State University…are using nanotechnology to develop small, wearable sensors that monitor a person’s immediate environment, as well as the wearer’s vital signs. These sensors would monitor environmental concerns, such as ozone, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide levels at the same time that they are monitoring vital signs, such as heart rate and hydration. The sensor’s data would be transmitted wirelessly to the wearer’s cell phone, and even to a doctor. The goal is to help people avoid exposure to the environmental conditions that exacerbate asthma and other health concerns.” – Asthma is a major problem in the U.S., especially for children. Anything one can do to prevent an exacerbation is a good thing.

Microsoft has announced the next in the Surface line, the Surface 3; not to be confused with the Surface Pro 3. I’m really impressed with the new Surface 3. It offers a 10.8-inch full HD screen with active digitizer, Intel Atom x7 processor, 64 or 128GB of onboard storage, and either 2 or 4GB of RAM. The introduction of the Surface 3 makes it clear that Microsoft has learned a lot since the introduction of the Surface RT tablet. I for one am impressed with the new Surface 3. Don’t be surprised if I’m forced to buy one.

I’ve recently started watching The Blacklist on Netflix. I’m hooked. The first couple of episodes were difficult to sit through, but once I got past James Spader’s weird mannerisms I was able to enjoy it. I don’t know how long it’ll last, as I tend to grow board with TV shows rather quickly, but for now I’m hooked.

Speaking of TV shows, my current favorites include Elementary, Castle and The Blacklist. That’s about it. I’m trying to make it to the end of the Justified series. Overall, Justified has been great, but not this season. The feud between the two main characters is stale.

Medscape Pharmacists: “The current model of using over-qualified pharmacy practitioners for the sole purpose of drug dispensing may be replaced by a new 2-tier paradigm involving “dispensing” and “nondispensing” pharmacists. Dispensing pharmacists would supervise a core of pharmacy technicians that provide high-volume, product-focused services. As pharmacy technician credentialing continues to increase, these “super technicians,” combined with robotic systems, might even replace the functions of the dispensing pharmacist. Nondispensing, clinically proficient pharmacists, many with residency training and appropriate credentials, would focus on clinical implications of drug therapy, health care outcomes, and other direct patient care-related activities.” – A very dangerous concept. I think having specialized talent is great, but creating a tiered system is a mistake. I have several thoughts on this, but this isn’t the place.

Ugh, still 146 days until NFL opening day.

Have a great weekend everyone.

5 thoughts on “Saturday morning coffee [April 11 2015]”

  1. In re to nanotechnology, you think engineering or pharmaceutics is the way to go? let’s say if i want to do a specialization?

  2. In re to patient portals, i agree to a certain extent. One of the main goal to have such a portal to involve the patient, not alienate them. However, when it becomes cumbersome, not intuitive, that becomes a problem especially for the older ages. Therefore, it’s best to try to include a younger family member that cares for that old-aged patient. It’s basically like a medical logbook, but digital.
    Now there are a plethora of apps and software for that matter, making things more confusing. Yes, spend more time with patients but at the same time make these patient portals more accessible, easy to use and intuitive.

  3. Not exactly sure what you’re asking, but I do know that nanotechnology is becoming a bigger and bigger part of just about every field. The technology is being used in both drug development and drug delivery to patients, especially chemotherapy. It’s also big in polymer and battery technology, and so on. The presentation on nanotechnology that I attended at UCSD opened my eyes. Engineering nanotechnology will be huge in the not so distant future.

  4. I agree that it’s nice to have access to your records. I love the idea of being able to access my medical records from anywhere at anytime. However, I think we should focus on improving the face-to-face interaction with the patient before we launch headlong into patient portals. As an industry, healthcare seems to focus on one thing at a time, and if we’re focused on patient “taking control of their data” then I’m afraid we’re going to leave a lot of people out of the loop. Just my thoughts. Mileage may vary.

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