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February 25, 2009

BehindTheMedspeak: Clap your hands say yeah — you're carrying MRSA


Here's Kathleen Hom's February 3, 2009 Washington Post Health section story.


A Show of Hands Reveals the Value of Good Hygiene

This may look like an art project your kid brought home, but it's actually a startling visual lesson in the importance of hospital hygiene. During a year-long study at Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, doctors discovered a 24-year-old patient densely colonized by methicillin-resistant staph bacteria — better known as MRSA — even though he showed no symptoms.

MRSA, the scare bug of the 21st century, is resistant to drugs usually prescribed to treat it and is associated with 19,000 U.S. deaths a year, according to a 2007 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

To show how infected — and contagious — an asymptomatic carrier could be, a physician examined the patient with an ungloved hand and then pressed his hand into a petri dish like the one on the right. After incubation, researchers were surprised to see MRSA bacteria growing in the dish so thickly, left, that images of the physician's fingers are easily discernable.

According to Curtis Donskey, chairman of the hospital's infection control committee, this demonstrates the need for hospital staffers to wash hands thoroughly even after examining "patients who you wouldn't otherwise expect would be at high risk of transferring MRSA."


Tell you what: I'm convinced.

But then, I've been a fanatic about clean hands and gloves ever since the early 1980s, when the disease that would come to be known as AIDS was first described in a report from doctors at UCLA, where I was on the anesthesiology faculty.

When I left L.A. and came to Charlottesville, the other faculty in my Podunk university town's teaching hospital laughed at me because I wore gloves 100% of the time in the OR.

I told them, "just wait."

February 25, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cube Timer — Episode 2: Better, cheaper and with more control


Last fall I featured this item in its Version 1.0 incarnation.

They've been busy, busy, busy out back in the Cube Timer skunk works ever since, and five months and countless thousands of man-hours later, Version 2.0 makes its debut.

From the website:


Cube Timer — World's Simplest Timer

No buttons to push, no dials to set — just flip the cube so the desired time is on top, the  indicator light comes on and the countdown starts.

No complicated instructions — this is the easiest-to-use timer on the planet.

LED display on bottom shows time remaining.

Requires two AAA batteries (not included).

Or turn to 0 to stop the timer in progress.

A loud beep sounds when time is up.

Set for 5, 15, 30 or 60 minutes.

Big numbers are easy to read.



February 25, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Subway Maps


It is what it says.

February 25, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Magnifying LED Nail Clipper


How do you spell "tricked-out?"

From websites:


Bright-Light Nail Clipper

Keeps nails in tip-top shape!

3X magnifier and super-bright LED light let you trim nails easily and safely.

Adjustable angle and oversized grip give you total control, extra leverage and precise trimming every time.

Perfect for seniors or those with vision difficulties.

Spring-loaded stainless steel blades for long life.

Button cell batteries included.

Comes with built-in nail file.


February 25, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What, me worry?


The notice above appeared this past week at the end of an email from one of my Swedish fans.

My sense is that he put it there, and that the news is public but not posted routinely in outgoing email from Sweden.

Of course, I won't know for sure until I get another Swedish correspondent....

February 25, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Butter Butler — 'No more torn toast'


Sounds good to me.

From websites:


Butter Butler


Turns a stick of butter into a paper-thin 10-foot-long ribbon — all you need to do is twist and spread.


This butter dispenser works right out of the refrigerator.

Also works with margarine.

Keeps butter fresh longer.

Dishwasher safe.


KCBD-TV in Lubbock, Texas gave it a rave review.



February 25, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

'It's worth knowing about ten times as much as you can ever use, so you can move freely' — Ian McEwan


The British author on why why intensive field research is necessary whenever his characters have complex jobs, quoted in Daniel Zalewski's masterful February 23, 2009 New Yorker profile.

February 25, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pond-in-a-Box — World's first pop-up pond (water not included)


Yo, joe — you're all wet.

What the heck are you talking about?

I'm so glad you asked.

From the website:


Pop Up Pond

You can now create a magical water garden in minutes.

What a great way to turn your deck or balcony into a nature preserve.

The 28-gallon capacity Pop Up Pond sets up quickly and last for years.

Clear sides enable you to view fish life through the sides as well as down from above.

Its self-supporting and comes complete with a 60 gallon/hr. recirculating pump for aeration.

This is the perfect way to add a small pond or fish tank almost anywhere — indoors or outside.



February 25, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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