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April 6, 2019

BehindTheMedspeak: How to stay safe in a hospital or doctor's office


Above, excellent advice from an ad that appeared in the July 14, 2013 edition of the Charlottesville Daily Progress, placed by attorney Christine Thomson 

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on behalf of her firm.

Everything she says is true.

Heed her words.

My advice: do anything you can not to enter a hospital or doctor's office.

Do not do things electively.

Wait 24 hours if it's not an obvious and clear emergency.

99% of things that drive people with a short fuse/hair trigger/low threshold for intervention/high anxiety level to seek medical help disappear — on their own — within 24 hours.

Trust me on this.

I'm a doctor.

I saw the 99%.

That's how I made my living.

But I'd much rather you stayed home and let it pass on its own.

April 6, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Short Story Dispenser

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Washington Post columnist John Kelly encountered one at the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles (below),

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then wrote about the experience.


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a freshly baked short story just out of the dispenser.

April 6, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Experts' Experts: Tomatoes


From Cook's Illustrated, two pages of tips and advice about tomatoes.

Below, highlights.


Choose locally grown

The most important way to help ensure a flavorful tomato is to buy a locally grown one. Why? First, the less distance the tomato has to travel the riper it can be when it's picked. Second, commercial high-yield production can strain the tomato plant, resulting in tomatoes without enough sugars and other flavor compounds to make them tasty. Third, to withstand the rigors of machine harvesting and long-distance transport, commercial varieties are engineered to be sturdier with thicker walls and less of the jelly and seeds that give a tomato most of its flavor.

Storage smarts

Don't refrigerate. Cold damages enzymes that produce flavor compounds and ruins texture by rupturing tomato cells, turning the flesh mealy. Even cut tomatoes should be kept at room temperature, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, and used within a few days. [I am always surprised when I see tomatoes in the fridges of people who pride themselves on their cooking and love of things cuisine.]

Store stem end down. Place unwashed tomatoes stem end down at room temperature. We've found that this prevents moisture from escaping and bacteria from entering through the scar, prolonging shelf life. An exception: If the vine is still attached, leave it on and store tomatoes stem end up.

Bag 'em with a banana

If you find yourself with hard, underripe tomatoes, store them in a paper bag with a banana or an apple, both of which naturally emit the ethylene gas that hastens ripening.

Supermarket standouts

When we can't get tomatoes at our local farm market, we look for the following varieties at the grocery store.

• Kumato: These startlingly green-brown European imports have more fructose than conventional tomatoes, which makes them taste sweeter. Tasters also found their textures meatier.

• UglyRipe: These knobby-looking fruits are left on the living vine longer than most other commercial varieties, which explains why our tasters found them sweeter and juicier. Because of their delicateness, each fruit is individually packed in protective foam netting.

Don't be fooled by "Vine Ripened"

This term indicates only that the tomatoes were picked when 10% of the skin started to "break," or turn from green to red. Since most of their maturation happens off the vine, they'll never taste as good as naturally ripened fruit. That said, we prefer them to regular supermarket tomatoes, which are picked when fully green and blasted with ethylene gas to develop texture and color.

Test Kitchen favorites

Whole: Muir Glen Organic

Crushed: Tuttorosso

Diced: Hunt's

Puree: Muir Glen Organic

Juice: Campbell's

Paste: Goya

April 6, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

"Crash" — 1971 film by J.G. Ballard and Harley Cokeliss

Above, Part 1 of 2 of the movie — based on Ballard's 1973 novel"Crash," — starring J.G. Ballard and Gabrielle Drake.

Below, Part 2 of Ballard's film.


You may be more familiar with the 1996 version (trailer below) directed by David Cronenberg, starring James Spader.


April 6, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wall socket multiplier makes a perfect house gift


One of my favorite leave-behind presents for people who've shown me hospitality — whether for a few hours or overnight — is the wall socket multiplier, exemplars of which are pictured above and below.


No tools, nothing to install, no moving parts: you just plug it in and leave it behind.


Instantly the room has six outlets where a second earlier there were only two.

You can make it permanent by screwing it in but I think it's better left without the screw, so you can take it from room to room or even stick it in your bag when you travel to make hotel rooms that much more charger-friendly.

A wonderful piece of kit, which I've never seen anywhere but in my house or those I've visited (just before my departure).

I like to not say anything but, rather, just leave it behind for belated discovery.


April 6, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

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