Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Not Safe For Work Chocolate??

MDK-20090324-0561, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.
I won't lie - I'm a big fan of a bit of sweet after a meal. Frequently, this means a small bite of some high-quality dark chocolate.

For those of you who haven't ever experienced the wonder and magic that is a $7 bar of chocolate you should definitely try the experience. My all-time favorite is the Barcelona.

Lisa and I found a gift set full of exciting flavors that we had never seen before at Whole Foods in Baltimore and decided to pick it up. We enjoyed tasting all of them, although none matched the Barcelona.

I brought one into work today and was enjoying a small piece after lunch when I was reading the back (note for $7.50 you get instructions on how to eat it, and a picture of the hot chick that makes them).

MDK-20090324-0560, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

All was hunky-dory until I read the end of the last paragraph:

MDK-20090324-0561, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Aphrodisiac powers?  Shouldn't that come with a big warning on the label?  Product may cause awkward situations at work or in public, consider consuming at home?

Monday, March 23, 2009


I thought it was ironic that these two stories from the NYT showed up together on my google reader today.

I'm personally concerned about what lowering the barrier to entry will do in India, where they already have air quality issues.  Oddly, the following story wasn't lumped in there (although it also showed up today).
Oh yeah, and BTW I heart cmd-shift-4 screen caps on my MBP.
Death by Air

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Road Bike Buying Tips

This is the first of two posts that attempt to answer questions that I get asked a lot.
"How do I pick out a road bike?"

1 - Brand
All of the major brands are good.  I don't recommend buying a catalog brand because it's clear to everyone that you sold out your local bike store.

2 - Frame material
This is a complicated subject with many strong opinions.  I'll throw out mine and you can see what sticks. For weight, lighter is better period.  Stiffness is one of those give and take categories.  In general, squishier materials give a better ride with a loss of power transfer.  Squishy frames flex when you're cranking hard and that flexing takes power away from the wheels.

Weight (roughly lightest to heaviest)
Aluminum and Titanium

Stiffness (rigid -> squishy)

*The Trek Madone bikes seem to be an anomaly here - super light, comfortable, and stiff.  My racer friend loved hers more than any other bike she's had (before she drove into the garage with it on the roof rack).

3 - Components
Components are things like shifters, derailleurs, brakes, crank, wheels, etc.  There are a lot of very nice frames that have absolutely crappy components in bike stores that I don't understand right now.  The components have a big impact on day-to-day function.  Cheap derailleurs and shifters don't work for crap. There are three major brands - Shimano, Campognolo (campy), and SRAM.  Shimano is by far the most prevalent of the three.  The biggest difference between the three is how the shift levers work.  The best thing to do here is to ride bikes with all of them and see what is most intuitive/comfortable for you.
Shimano Road Components (best on top)
Anything else isn't worth it.


Campognolo Road Components
Super Record

4 - Set A Price
For new bikes you have to spend at least $1000 to get something that will last for a long time if you end up being an enthusiast.  Spend much less and you'll end up replacing your $300 bike with a $1200 model in one year (yeah I'm talking to you DJ).
For a shimano bike with a mid-level frame, for $1000 you'll get a mix of 105 and Tiagra.  $1100 gets a full 105 bike.  $1200-1300 gets a full ultegra bike. 

With the exception of carbon fiber frames, used bikes are almost always a good deal.  Carbon fiber frames are difficult to buy used because crashing can cause invisible damage, and when a carbon frame fails, it epic FAILS!

5 - Clothing/Misc
Bike clothing may be unattractive, but it's functional.  Dress to be just a bit hot standing still in cold weather.  Get a good helmet deal at REI Outlet.

If you're serious, roof racks are the only way to go.  It makes transporting bikes sooooo much nicer.

Cool radiology images from Walter Reed

Reeve041788, originally uploaded by otisarchives1.

This is just one of the really cool old medical photos depicting X-rays and equipment recently posted on flickr from the National Museum of Health & Medicine. Turns out the guy in the above photo was into self mutilation with needles from old-school record players.

Check the following for more great pics - Note the lack of lead shielding on many of the older photos, there is just one shot where people are wearing lead aprons and gloves.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cannondale recall and what's wrong with our country?

Scrolling through my Google reader today, I saw the following post:
Liking road bikes, and having several friends who ride Cannondales, I felt like I had a moral obligation to click through. As I waited for the page to load, things were flying through my mind - do the frames fail? Do the forks buckle unexpectedly? Does the seat tube poke through the seat making the whole ride more interesting? When the page loaded, I was shocked. They are issuing a recall of $1500-2000 bikes because they are missing............
Yep, that's right.  A whole recall for a crappy two cent piece of plastic that most riders who buy $1500-2000 bikes would remove anyway. Doesn't the CPSC have toys to test for lead, or something more important to do than recall high-end bikes due to a stupid piece of plastic?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Baltimore Welcoming Committee

MDK-20090315-0548, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.
Well, on Saturday night we had a visit from the Baltimore Welcome Wagon. They decided that they really wanted my GPS, and thought it would be a good idea to smash out my driver's side window.

Talking with some of the other folks at work today it turns out that it's such a problem here that normal, regular people take the suction cups off of their windshields and carry windex to scrub off the suction cup marks. These thugs will bust out your car window with just a suction cup mark on the windshield.

Anyway, things in Baltimore aren't all bad. We had nice time at the National Aquarium with Scott and Summer. The dolphin show was pretty standard, but they had the cutest, tiniest tree frogs that we'd ever seen and some pretty impressive saltwater fish displays that wrapped around nearly the whole place.

MDK-20090315-0541, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

We also had some wicked awesome Thai food in the Federal Hill neighborhood (http://www.yelp.com/biz/thai-arroy-baltimore) with some new friends Ross and Meg. The connections between Lisa and I and Ross and Meg are actually pretty uncanny. Ross is finishing up radiology residency (check), and doing an informatics/MRI fellowship (check). Meg is a lawyer (check) who has recently finished school, and she's also a vegeterian (check). Pretty crazy huh.

Well that's it for now. If you don't here from me a few days, don't worry, someone probably stole my laptop.

Friday, March 6, 2009


So after a week in Baltimore, I think that I get it.  It's not a great place to live.  The good areas are really small widely space polka dots on the map.

I live a 5 minute walk from the hospital, which is georgeous.  It's recently renovated and they did a nice job preserving the original hospital structure and wrapped it up in new glass and steel.


On the other hand, I noticed today on the walk to the hospital that many of the places that may or may not have businesses on the 1st floor are clearly vacant on the 2nd and 3rd floors as evidenced by windows that are either broken or boarded up.  The following are two pics from my street.


With all of that said, I'm having a good experience here.  The folks that I'm working with are a really great team and they have been able to really make some cool things fly.  I think it's a great experience.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Broken in Baltimore

With the exception of the 10 hour drive yesterday, which thankfully went incredibly smoothly, it seemed like I couldn't catch a break.  I navigated to the apartment complex without any difficulty (thanks Garmin), and met Lillian - the medical student who I'm subletting from.  Lisa and I had figured from the sound of her e-mails that she wasn't a native english speaker, but we were wrong, she just has crappy e-mail communication skills.  

Once we finally got together she showed me to my home for the next four weeks.  Turns out she and I have a different idea of "furnished".  I guess that it was wrong for me to expect that each room would have at least one light.  In fact my "living room" has no light at all.  My bedroom has a single dollar store torchiere and I get to enjoy fluorescents in the kitchen reminescent of my own medical school crapartment.   All of the walls are that creamy "never really been painted color".  Four weeks, great.

To make matters better, it turns out that my car is now two elevator rides (from 3 up to 7 and then back down to 2).  So moving all of my stuff into the place becomes an ordeal.  At least six trips later, I get everything moved in and realize that the "wall internet" service is lacking a cable, and I didn't bring one.  So about the only thing good for the night was that I was able to find a Best Buy (thanks again Garmin), and made off with an open-item cable for $4!  I hate overpaying for cables, so this was a welcome relief.  All of that only to find that the internet service in the building only very nearly rivals Kenya, and I'm not even joking.

I start getting things unpacked and go to put the provided linens on my twin bed, only to find that they're for a queen.  As they are hideous and floral, so I get out the queen sheets that I brought for the air mattress that I brought for when Lisa comes to visit.  But wait, things just keep getting better.  Around 9P I realize that it's getting awfully chilly in the apartment, and check the thermostat.  It's set on 75 and it's actually 65!  The heat didn't work all night and I woke up to a <60 degree apartment.  Needless to say, I took a little extra time in a hot shower just to thaw out my feet.  Now I know what Lisa feels like on a daily basis.

Today was better, I met with the folks that I'm going to be spending time with and I think that it's going to be really good.  There are tons of opportunities for publication, and nearly all of them address a need in my own experience.  I think that the one that I'm centered on is describing the tools and tricks that form the foundation of an agile imaging informatics shop.  Definitely 100% up my alley.

It's Cheese Gromit

MDK-20090228-0505, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.
Lisa and I got a cheesemaking kit from Leon and Heather and we finally got a chance to put it to good use on Saturday. We used it to transform two half-gallons of yummy Oberweis whole milk into ricotta and mozzarella. We then baked our creations into some baked spaghetti. This iteration of cheesemaking definitely went better and more smoothly than the first, but we still have some work to do. It's definitely an art. Makes me appreciate the fine cheeses that I usually enjoy.

MDK-20090228-0513, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

MDK-20090228-0515, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.