Tuesday, May 31, 2005

when doctors are chumps

do you think drug companies can track how often a particular doctor prescribes a given drug? they can. if you had asked me that question, i would have leaned toward the cynical and said yes, but i wouldn't know how they did it. according to this article, insurance companies sell the information about what drugs are prescribed, keyed to a number assigned each doctor by the drug enforcement administration (DEA). the federal government and the AMA sell a list of doctors which includes their DEA number. the drug companies buy this information, cross reference it, and whammo, they've got the goods.

the next part of the article is stuff i knew, about the gross tactics drug companies use (and doctors fall for) to convince physicians to prescribe more of the company's drugs. what is compelling is that the data collected by the drug companies proves that doctors are swayed by this advertising, and the denial that doctors maintain. it's like 80% of people thinking they're in the top 20% of drivers. from the article:
In one survey, 61 percent of the residents at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center reported that they themselves are unmoved by drug company gifts. But when asked if they thought their colleagues were swayed, 84 percent said yes.
i have sympathy for doctors. they're busy, and it takes time to keep up with the peer-reviewed literature. often, they want samples for their patients who struggle to afford medications. my old allergist was a great guy, and i was impressed with how he handled the drug reps. still, i think it's the fundamental arrogance of the medical profession that leads to doctors to believe they are not affected by the lobbying of the drug reps.

by the way, i renounce my previous paean to cold medicine. after 4 days of steady sudafed, i'm sick of the stuff. it makes me nervous and irritable. i'm still sick.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

What's that hair for?

Isn't the lovely feathery hair in the bottom of his feet adorable?

Since I've been sick, I've been letting Mac lead our walks. He tends to want to stop and smell everything, and I'm happy to walk at a slower pace than usual. I've been a few places on campus that I haven't been before. Usually we just follow his nose, but every once in a while he looks at me to figure out where we are going. When he gets it in his head that I'm deciding, he can't be swayed. We'll stand there until I make a move in one direction or another.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

the joy of (cold) drugs

my feelings about cold medicine have ranged from agnostic to antagonistic, but right now, i'm a big fan. i've got some cruddy sore throat, temperature regulation and headache-dizziness sickness. i've decided that if i can stuff myself full of medicine to at least prevent myself from getting a chest cold and making my sore throat worse, i will. here's my regimen. every 4 hours i take 2 advil or tylenol, two sudafed and use a zicam nasal swab. before bed i take two benedryl. the benedryl doesn't work as well as the sudafed, but i don't think i could sleep very well on sudafed. and of course i'm taking my everyday allergy meds: clarinex, advair, nasonex. i'd really like to find a decongestant to take at night, but it sounds like all decongestants are stimulatory.

the problem this is creating with my studying is not making me panic, although i don't know why not.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Beckman Institute

The focus is a little off here, but I still like the picture. I feel like a bit of a sucker when I photograph something that is designed to be appealing.

Recently I've spent most of my time studying for my upcoming advancement to candidacy exams, beating myself up for not studying more, and procrastinating. I went to San Francisco for kj's graduation. I was happy to get to be there, very happy to see kj, and acutely heartsick for San Francisco.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I hate LA

Sunday, May 15, 2005

follow your web-nose

i'm procrastinating, so i went online. from a link on ayelet waldman's defunct blog, i went to a blog by a 20-something woman in calcutta who lived in the west but is now going to be in an arranged marriage. from there i went to an indian politico-blogger's site. eventually i tired of stories of unscrupulous debt collecting, and followed a link to sepia mutiny, which seems like a complete free-for-all, in the best sense. it discusses being gay in india, new airline routes from india to toronto, the new huffington post (no link due to the complete lack of content). it introduced me to the term ABCD's, which apparently stands for "American Born Confused Desis." It also took me to my last site of the night, yoga booty ballet. from sepia mutiny's description: a workout that combines the grace of ballet, the balance of yoga, and the thunderosity of one's booty. and where would you find such a class? los angeles, my home.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The studious pedicure

The written portion of my advancement to candidacy exam is a closed-book exam on specific topics in cell and molecular neurobiology. I have ten topics to study. I have set up meetings with people who are interested in or knowledgeable about the different topics. Today's meeting was on Alzheimer's. We met over brunch and then got pedicures. Better than golf, I'd say. By the time we got to the pedicures, I was done talking about Alzheimer's and so I read Vogue and chatted. They were showing an embarrassingly sexually explicit video in the store (salon?). The stylish looking middle-aged black women across from me were talking with each other about it. In the video, a Janet Jackson concert video, a man had been brought up from the audience, tied to a platform and then groped by Ms. Jackson. The women were feeling sorry for the guy. It was a very nice interaction.

When therapists fight

Does one throw the other one's furniture out of the office, in the way that drama-prone couples throw clothes out windows? Remember, this is the same building outside which I saw a therapist-looking woman having a very unbalanced interaction with a car that pulled too far into the intersection.

Geek pow-ah!

I took this picture surreptitiously. I cropped his head out to give him a little anonymity. Let me count the geeky ways: Birkenstocks with sandals, stripped computer, compressed air, computer on chair not cart, taking the whole deal outside.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

agile puppy

the other day mac and i were at a garage sale. a man holding a rottweiler beanie baby saw mac and gave mac the toy. mac loved it; the guy proceeded to take a bunch of pictures of mac with the toy.

tonight mac and i drove to long beach for the third time. we've been going to agility classes there. bad dog is perfectly obedient and a great learner, but he doesn't yet have much drive to run the obstacles. he's more interested in finding treats that other dogs have dropped and looking at other dogs.

going to long beach has also given me a taste of LA's legendary traffic. so far it seems that getting to long beach at 6:15pm is one of those funny traffic things that is impossible. i can leave pasadena at 4:30 and get to long beach at 6pm, or i can leave pasadena at 5:15 or 5 and get there at 6:30. on my way home, it takes, wait for it, 25 minutes. that's three times as long with traffic as without. obviously this is not a viable long term proposition.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

puppy hunting

i went with MK to look at 7 day old puppies at a breeder. MK heard about the breeder from a friend who has a dog from her, and has reserved a puppy from this litter. here are two of them:

click the image for more puppy cuteness. we met the dog-mom, who was a very nice dog too. it's weird being at a breeder's, even though i think she's a good breeder. the dogs aren't pets and don't get the kind of attention i think dogs want. the dogs aren't socialized to be attached to people. in any case, i saw nothing to worry about. i look forward to watching one of these little guys grow up.


this helmet was at the bike store, and AH and i couldn't resist trying it on. i was hoping to go on a supported ride from santa barbara back to LA this weekend, but i am overwhelmed with work.


i convinced bad dog to snuggle with me. i dragged him into this position. what a tolerant puppy.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Biking the San Gabriel river

Los Angeles turns out to have an amazing bike path system. We rode 21 miles, all on bike paths completely separate from traffic. One could go much further. Of course, you're sucking in smog the whole way.

Hello Bratty

This "Hello Kitty" knockoff is called "Bratty Kitty." I found this at the 99 cent store, a weird and neat LA phenomenon. it really has everything - i bought a pair of pretty heavy wire cutters there.

Orange vine

i took this picture on a hike friday morning. i don't know what the orange stuff is, but i see it wrapped on these bushes. it seems to grow from the bushes themselves, which surprises me. click for a larger image.

Unbelievable: driving with no license, no insurance

This is the car that slowly backed into me in a parking lot. I was laying on the horn for a good 3 seconds before he hit me, but he didn't respond. He didn't speak english, didn't have a driver's license and didn't have insurance. License plate 3AGF461. Happily, I couldn't find a single thing wrong with my car and was spared the annoyance of calling the police on this feckless kid (not to mention the annoyance of car repairs). The situation managed to be plenty annoying as it was though.