I enjoy reading about health, health care, and various health concerns. Part of it is the scientist in me, and another part is likely motivated by the fact that I am self-insured. I don't have any good answers as to how to fix our nation's health care, so I enjoy reading about the ideas of other folks.
From Atul Gawande, one of my favorite medical writers, comes an article about how the highest cost patients in the system are likely the ones getting poor care. ER visits and surgeries drive up health care costs, and solid primary care coupled with intensive work from social workers and nurses can help reduce those two expensive line-items. By working with a patient to ensure that the patients take their medicine, live in a safe environment, and make it in for regular check-ups, it is possible to lower health care costs. Gawande profiles a few different areas who are doing small-scale trials of this method.
Fecal transplants have the potential to help patients who struggle with antibiotic resistant colon infection by a bacteria called C. difficile (often called C. diff). I've read about this before and am happy to see it reported in the mainstream. It's worth a look-see; just do yourself a favor and don't read the comments from people. A lot of them don't know much about microbio and consequently aren't quite on the right track.
Anyway, just two of the better science-y articles I've read recently. Both non-school related, thankfully! As always, school is keeping me busy and a little over-stressed. I'm working hard to take some me time this term, and a little extra curricular reading is part of that prescription.
As part of my education classes, we're learning about technology in the classroom. We're blogging, making podcasts, creating wikis, and doing all sorts of technology stuff. This has spurred me to think about how to make content relevant for our students. The children I'll be teaching don't know a world without computers and the internet; I barely even know a world without computers, and the internet became a major part of my life 14 years ago. Therefore, doing technology for the sake of doing technology is no longer beneficial. Rather, it is important to weave technology in with content area learning. This also has the benefit of allowing students to pursue their own interests in making content relevant.
While perusing youtube, I found the fabulous video I have embedded below (and the author of this video has many more!). While it's not strictly in my subject area, this is a great reminder that we can motivate students by addressing what they care about. The individual who made this movie is a stand-out student who never studied math in school but has been inspired to learn based on what interests her. Another interesting fact is that she majored in music and composed a multi-part piece designed to follow the story arcs of the Harry Potter books. Her blog is always worth checking out. I hope you enjoy the video!
There are many quirky, cute little places to visit in Portland. I have a new favorite cupcake shop, Saint Cupcake, and there are tons of little cafes and eateries that serve an array of delightful food. But, hands down, the weirdest place to pick up a snack in Portland is Voodoo Doughnut.
Voodoo specializes in strange toppings. Above, clockwise from the obvious, you see a maple bacon bar, a grape tang donut, a "maple blazer blunt," a mango stuffed and topped donut, and the most run of the mill raspberry stuffed powdered sugar donut. In the background is a donut coated with crushed oreos and another with peanut butter, chocolate, and rice crispies. Another one we enjoyed, though not pictured, is the Arnold Palmer: a lemonade donut with iced tea frosting (or maybe it's the reverse? I forget now).
Voodoo does make a good donut, and I enjoy the occasional treat. I did eat about three million of these (okay, okay, pieces of about 10 different donuts) while home over break, so I think I've hit the donut quota for the calendar year already. Still, it's yet another one of those things that makes Portland interesting and helps it stay weird.
On Christmas eve, my family took a little trip out to the coast. I still haven't pulled the beach pictures off my good camera, but I have a few snapshots of our delicious lunch to share. We ate crab cakes at Cranky Sue's, a delicious little cafe in Cannon Beach that is tucked inside an art gallery. Slowish service and limited capacity, but it is totally worth it for the huge lumps of crab in the delicious crab cakes.
We started off with a delicious hummus plate to get our daily dose of veggies.
And then followed up with delicious crab cakes!
And Josh had a fabulous crab cake sandwich with some clam chowder. I love this picture because it shows how lumpy and great the crab cakes are.
I highly recommend Cranky Sue's to anyone headed to Cannon Beach. Yum!
Last week, Matt and I visited the 5-8 club of Travel Channel fame for the delightfully delicious Juicy Lucy. It's a 1/2 pound burger (oof!) that is really two burger patties with melted cheese in the center. Every time I go, I optimistically order one. Half way through, I remember why I shouldn't order them anymore.
Don't get me wrong -- they're yummy. They are also huge. I get mine with blue cheese, which is extra yummy but also adds to the richness.
As a bonus this time, my favorite kind of snow was falling as we left the restaurant. We call it fake snow because the flakes are large enough to see with the naked eye.
The pics have been a long time in coming, but skiing was enjoyed quite a bit this weekend, so it is still on my mind. Back in November, Matt and I both picked up new pairs of cross-country skiis in an REI sale. We both enjoy skiing but didn't have our own pairs. Since then, we've made fairly good use of our skiis. Even with my multi-week vacation to Oregon, Matt and I have gotten 5 or 6 trips to our local nature center in. We're lucky to have a beautiful location with groomed trails within a mile of our house.
I'm slowly building confidence on the skiis. I still dislike hills and have a hard time with them, but it will get better with practice. I fall a lot when going down (and sometimes when going up). Mostly, tho, I enjoy the exercise and beautiful scenery. Today, we even passed within 10 feet of a deer who placidly watched us from just off the trail.
We even sometimes manage to haul along some friends. This is a coworker of Matt's with whom we play board games, go hiking, and just generally enjoy life. She is also new to the sport, so we fall down a lot together. Somehow, falling is more fun when someone else is also getting snowy with you.