Sunday, June 14, 2009

Blueberry Banana Nut Bread Recipe

The party was a success. We had over sixty people, including lots of kids in the pool.

The surprise was how much people liked my brownie alternative, Blueberry Banana Nut Bread. I was asked for the recipe, so here it is:

  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter (I tend to blend them for a better baking taste, but it probably doesn't really matter).
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs.

Melt the shortening, blend with sugar and eggs.

  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup Wheaties or 1/4 cup bran
  • 2 regular size bananas

Blend in until the bananas are no longer forming any lumps and the Wheaties are broken up enough that they are like bran (you can crush the Wheaties pre-blending if you prefer to do it that way).

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Mix separately and then blend in with the banana mix.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (depends how much you like nuts)
Blend into the banana/flour mix

Spoon about a third in a layer into a 9x13 glass pan. Half the recipe if you want to use a smaller pan.

Coat with blueberries one berry deep.

Spoon over the blueberries the remainder.

Cook at 325 degrees for an hour. 350 degrees if a metal pan. Can be served cold or hot. Vanilla ice cream goes well with it when cold.

It was surprisingly well received. I like the effect the oats had on the flavor (most recipes call for no oats and a lot of bran and I'm not as fond of them). Heather saved a little for breakfast the next day and reported that it was still good the day after.

I'm looking forward to the next party at our house. We really enjoyed this one.

On a completely different topic:

Nobody worries that a child ignorant of the various theorems of thermodynamics and incapable of solving an equation of motion would be unable to ride a bicycle. Yet, why is it that we made the Euthyphro mistake with our understanding of quantitative products in the markets? Why should traders responding to supply and demand, little more, competing to make a buck, do the Girsanov theorem, any more than a trader of pistachios in the Souk of Damascus needs to solve general equilibrium equations to set the price of his product?
For more:

A great essay on staying happy in a marriage:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Phishing Scam 877-364-2950

I got a text message asking me to call 877-364-2950. When I did, a "bank" wanted me to give them information to "reactivate" a credit card. Of course I don't have a card with that bank.

Reverse Look-up reflected that 877-364-2950 doesn't belong to anyone listed. It was another fraud scam.

I surely want to find a way to block text messages sent by e-mail addresses.

I'll note that it is a known issue for Sprint they just don't offer any tools to block text messages from people not in your address book.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Barbecue at the Marsh Home June 12

We are having a sort of housewarming party. As my wife says

The floors are mostly complete, the walls are mostly painted .. curtains are not up and very little is hung on the walls. But .. We are tired of working and we are ready to take a break.

Friday June 12
BBQ at the Marsh home
Bring a side dish if you think about it.
Bring your kids.
Pool and spa are available
(I doubt anyone but the kids will swim)
Drop us an email if you can make it.

Yes, if you are in the area, you are welcome to come by.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Al Anon and Me

I don't have an alcoholic in my life. I'm not one myself. But I have really found a great deal of meaning in much of the Al Anon literature.

Al Anon is a twelve step fellowship for those who have alcoholics or addicts in their lives (vs. Alcoholics Anonymous which is for Alcoholics). But more, it is a framework or philosophy for living, acting and becoming in spite of the devastating things in your life you can't control (e.g. violently alcoholic parents).

Much of what it leads to is that you may be powerless, but you are not helpless. You may not be able to control some things that seem crucial, but you are not controlled by those things or persons.

From a grief perspective, that is a shared need and meaning. I enjoy the literature. Maybe some day I'll attend a group, though I hesitate.

But the core is finding courage and belief and strength to change and improve the things that can be changed. The antithesis, the rejection of their approach is the philosophy captured in the statements:
  • "Yeah, I offend people, but that is just the way I am;" or,
  • "I just can't change and you shouldn't expect me to;" or,
  • "I know that I'm doing xyz wrong and my life is toxic, but that is just the way I am;" or,
  • "I'm just helpless."
Those statements are not true. You are not your defects and you do not need to let your flaws mold what you are or choke the life out of those around you. Just because there are things in life that render it uncontrollable does not mean that life remains unmanageable or without hope.

There is a higher power and there is always hope.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

On Health Care Reform

I'll be back to my my normal blogging in a little bit. I just wanted to blog, a moment, about an approach that seems to work in both cutting costs and in improving health care. It is the model that produces the best results in the world, happens to be working in the United States and produces higher quality and lower costs.

This approach has been adopted in other places, too: the Geisinger Health System, in Danville, Pennsylvania; the Marshfield Clinic, in Marshfield, Wisconsin; Intermountain Healthcare, in Salt Lake City; Kaiser Permanente, in Northern California. All of them function on similar principles. All are not-for-profit institutions. And all have produced enviably higher quality and lower costs than the average American town enjoys.

When you look across the spectrum from Grand Junction to McAllen—and the almost threefold difference in the costs of care—you come to realize that we are witnessing a battle for the soul of American medicine. Somewhere in the United States at this moment, a patient with chest pain, or a tumor, or a cough is seeing a doctor. And the damning question we have to ask is whether the doctor is set up to meet the needs of the patient, first and foremost, or to maximize revenue.

….[this is just an excerpt] ....

… isn’t going to solve this problem. Nor will changing the person who writes him the check.

This last point is vital. Activists and policymakers spend an inordinate amount of time arguing about whether the solution to high medical costs is to have government or private insurance companies write the checks. Here’s how this whole debate goes. Advocates of a public option say government financing would save the most money by having leaner administrative costs and forcing doctors and hospitals to take lower payments than they get from private insurance. Opponents say doctors would skimp, quit, or game the system, and make us wait in line for our care; they maintain that private insurers are better at policing doctors. No, the skeptics say: all insurance companies do is reject applicants who need health care and stall on paying their bills. Then we have the economists who say that the people who should pay the doctors are the ones who use them. Have consumers pay with their own dollars, make sure that they have some “skin in the game,” and then they’ll get the care they deserve. These arguments miss the main issue. When it comes to making care better and cheaper, changing who pays the doctor will make no more difference than changing who pays the electrician. The lesson of the high-quality, low-cost communities is that someone has to be accountable for the totality of care. Otherwise, you get a system that has no brakes. You get McAllen.

Also, on the same topic,

The cause of the American health paradox is American inequality. America is more unequal than other countries. Everywhere, in every country, the powerful prefer the status quo but in America the rich and elite are especially powerful relative to the poor, so the status quo is especially entrenched and innovation especially well-squelched. America has a lot of health problems building up unsolved. Perhaps the most obvious is obesity, which affects the poor far more than the rich. The further the rich from the poor — that is, the more inequality — the more the rich can ignore it. And they have: The healthcare establishment’s record on prevention and treatment of obesity is terrible. Staggeringly bad.

In one tiny example, when I proposed a rat experiment to test an idea behind the Shangri-La Diet, I was denied permission by the UC Berkeley Animal Care and Use Committee: My idea couldn’t possibly be true, I was told. Had there been plenty of poor people on the committee, instead of none, I think the outcome would have been different. Problems such as depression, allergies, autoimmune disorders, and autism are likewise building up with no real progress being made. An example of a real solution is home glucose monitoring for diabetes. This came from outside the healthcare establishment — from Richard Bernstein, an engineer with diabetes.