Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The skinny on Twinkies.

CHICAGO - Twinkies, they're not just for dessert anymore. The new "Twinkies Cookbook" has recipes for everything from a Twinkie Burrito to Twinkie Lasagna.

Theresa Cogswell compiled about 50 recipes for the book.

Many were submitted to Hostess, as part of Twinkies' 75th anniversary celebration last year.

Cogswell tells Illinois' Daily Southtown newspaper that one of her favorites is a berry-laden Patriotic Twinkie Pie.

It's red, white and blue.

Cogswell says it makes a great centerpiece for a Fourth of July picnic, which you can also eat for dessert.

I confess that I never really liked Twinkies as much as Ho-Ho's or Suzy-Q's. They just don't have the excitement of the Ho-Ho, and they are not nearly as sublime as a Suzy-Q. (Honestly, I just wanted to use the word "“sublime" in a sentence). I do wonder if these recipes have a longer shelf-life than ordinary food, as we are all aware that a Twinkie lasts for decades, if not longer without losing their spongy texture.

There is really a lot of interesting Twinkie facts that you can find online. For instance, you can find a website that details the history of Twinkies, with the interesting facto of their naming by a gentleman named James Dewar:

Dewar came up with this name when driving by a billboard that had an ad for shoes from the "Twinkle Toe Shoe Company". He shortened the name to ....Twinkies....

So, I guess we might just be eating Nikes or Converse All-Stars if he went down another street!… Kind of scary.

You can also find a recipe for Vegan Twinkies, where no animals were killed in the process of making them. It seems odd, however, that someone with such deep beliefs about what is put in your body would be making a Twinkie. I suppose this is the "“liberal wing" of the Vegan movement. They are probably scorned by the more conservative vegans.

I found a place that sells deep-fried Twinkies (now that is adding insult to injury from a nutrition standpoint). My arteries harden just looking at the picture!

There is even a discussion on the survival of Twinkies on a space trip:

In discussing the Personnel Launch System spacecraft, Edmund Hack wrote:

A small cargo area for personal gear is included (you know, CDs, Twinkies, videotapes, pictures from home....).

This led to speculation here at Fermilab on whether, indeed, Twinkies would survive high-acceleration conditions. If not, space-station astronauts and cosmonauts will have to get along without Twinkies, or manufacture them in orbit. Would the sponge-cake structure collapse? Would the added weight squeeze the lard-and-sugar filling out, smearing it over the family portraits and compact disks?

Now there is evidence of your tax dollars at work!

I found very humorous article in The Onion that reveals the shocking fact that Hostess marketed Twinkies to minors!

"There is substantial evidence supporting the claim that, for decades, Hostess

has carried out an aggressive marketing campaign with the goal of promoting Twinkie use among underage consumers," the FTC report read. "Our nation's children have been targeted for the consumption of these fattening,

unwholesome cakes at a vulnerable age, before they are old enough to make responsible decisions about health and nutrition."

So that's a wrap on Twinkies, an all-time classic, but not one of my favorites. I would be remiss, however, if I left out the website for the Twinkie Project, a set of experiments performed on unsuspecting and unfortunate twinkies. Enjoy, and...Sweet Dreams...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Drunk Birds

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four pelicans suspected of being drunk on sea algae were being tested at a Southern California wildlife centre on Saturday after one of them crashed headlong into a car.Three of the California brown pelicans were found wandering dazed in the streets of Laguna Beach after another pelican struck a vehicle's windscreen on a nearby coast road.

It suffered internal injuries and a long gash in its pouch and was undergoing toxicology tests.

Officials at the Wildlife Care Centre said the seabirds may have been under the influence of algae in the ocean that can produce domoic acid poisoning when eaten.

The other pelicans were rounded up after assistant wildlife director Lisa Birkle warned the public to be on the lookout for birds acting "drunk," disoriented or being in an unusual place.

Shellfish tainted with domoic acid was thought to be the culprit behind a 1961 attack of seabirds on people and cars in the oceanside California town of Capitola that inspired Alfred Hitchcock's horror movie "The Birds."

Well, I guess that shoots my image of birds being those "fine feathered friends." These carousing pelicans were cruising the town looking for aglae and ended up in someone's windshield. Given what I know about pelicans, it probably did not do good things to the windshield. The story behind the story is that the parents of these birds where beginning to get concerned when they started hanging around with a monkey. You know what they say about keeping bad company. That monkey is nothing but trouble. I could have told them, but I doubt many pelicans read my blog. Bad for them.

An upcoming article will focus on the Men's health benefits of getting drunk on algae.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Airports, Hell, and Pizza

OK, I am stuck in an airport. I have spent a lot of time traveling lately (giving my "you too can be a computer geek" talks for doctors) and have adapted to the troubles of travel. I will say that there is part of me that enjoys the adventure, but sitting in an airport for 8 hours is not much of one. It has given me some valuable alone time to get some stuff done, so there are always blessings in the guise of trouble, but still I want to get to Boston. This whole adventure reminds me of some of my more amusing airplane stories. I used to feel like I had real good luck when it came to travel, but now I realize that it was just a temporary ploy. Each trip is like a pull on the "one-arm bandit" where you say to yourself: this time it will not be bad. Maybe I will have a smooth trip. I am due. But as is the case in Las Vegas, it usually does not work out (I think it is called recession to the mean - which lay people call the law of averages).

I remember back when I was doing interviews for medical school. The cut-rate airline "People Express" was the cheapest way to get from Rochester to New York. The problem was that you had to go through the Newark airport. This was before they got all fancy and high tech, it was the Old Newark airport - not a pleasant place to be. As an aside, I once heard the city of Jersey City described as "Newark without the charm" - a grim analogy. Back to the story...I was in the lovely Newark airport hoping to make it home in one piece, and we got delayed. Weather was bad and our flight was cancelled. So here we were stuck in a place you don't want to get stuck in. The lady next to me looked over at me with a very mournful expression and said, "if this is not Hell, I don't know what is." Immediately I saw her point and subsequently always thought of the Newark airport when I read Bible passages referring to Hell. It certainly will keep you on the "straight and narrow."

This past year I was flying back from Washington DC to Augusta, and there were thunderstorms around the Atlanta vicinity (as there often are in August), so we went into a holding pattern, waiting to land. We tried once to land, but multiple lightning bolts outside of the window made our pilot (thankfully) reconsider. He then got on the PA system and said we were running low on fuel and would have to go down to Columbus, GA to refuel. We landed and got in line behind several other planes (several of which were very large). Again he spoke over the PA telling us that to refuel the planes ahead of us it would take about 60-90 minutes, so we could expect a two-hour delay. A collective sigh went from the cabin, but what choice did we have. As we sat there and waited, I suddenly smelled pizza. Up the aisle walked a flight attendant with a box of Domino's pizza. I commented to the person next to me that those scum bags in 1st class get everything. Then the flight attendant addressed us over the PA: "Someone has had pizza delivered to our plane. We are not sure if it was someone on the plane, or someone on a different one, but we will be serving pizza for all passengers. Please take only one slice." We all broke out into applause and they served us hot pizza. I have to say, I never expected to get pizza delivered to me while I was in a plane. I don't know if it has ever happened before, but now I hope for bad weather over Atlanta.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Happy Father's Day


I remember my father taking my brother and me out on Sunday afternoons to watch trains. He just loved trains (even had a record album of train sounds) and we lived by the Penn-Central tracks. It only dawned on my when I had kids of my own that he was taking us out of my mother's hair when he did this, but there was no doubt that he enjoyed it. The three of us would walk along the tracks, trying to balance on the rails. We would watch the signal lights to see if there was any train coming (the ones over the tracks that tell the trains what is coming in the other direction). We would talk, tell jokes, and just enjoy being together. When trains came we would count the cars, look at the designs on the box cars, comment on how fast the piggy-back or passenger trains would go. The rush of the wind and the clack of the wheels, and the loud sound of metal on metal would overwhelm all other sounds. Then the train would move on, with the man in the caboose (they don't use them any more) waving if he caught a glimpse of us. The normal sounds of the day would seem so quiet after the train went away. Just cars bumping across the tracks, and kids talking to their dad. I really don't remember specifics about what we talked about, but the images are burned on my memory. All of the feelings are good ones: feelings of contentment, of happiness, of love.

Yes, he was a good dad. Wise to spend Sunday afternoons with us instead of in front of a game. He always was home at the same time and always kissed mom when he got in. We would always eat dinner at 6:30 (I think it was 6 earlier on), and it was very rare that we would miss eating together. He would show us mathematic formulas on napkins (he is a PhD in Physics) that we never understood. My sister would try to argue with him, but it seems that he got the better of her (she has her PhD in History now, so she could probably win at least half of them). He built a grandfather clock without a kit - just from plans he got somewhere. Even the gears inside are made out of wood. It still is in their living room chiming on the hour.

He still is a good dad. He visits regularly (with Mom, of course) to see us and the grandkids. When he comes now he peppers me with medical questions (it's handy to have a son who is a doctor) and looks for things to do. He's 79 now, but he and I hung a sliding glass door in my son's bedroom just a few months ago. He still is stronger than I am. He always gives of himself. Whether it was for the coffee house he tried to start for young-people - they refurbished an old farmhouse and tried to make the barn into a coffee house, or for the church - he wasn't well understood (I think he was just way smarter than the rest of them), but they appreciated his talents. He would never make much of himself and always give more than he took.

So here's to you, Dad. If I could come close to being the person you are, I would be more than proud. You have set me a high standard of fatherhood that I wish I could have done better to emulate. But most of all you gave me a great image of God. The best compliment I ever got from someone was that they could see God in my eyes. I guess I got your eyes.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Japanese bomb squad finds suspicious beer - Yahoo! News

Japanese bomb squad finds suspicious beer - Yahoo! News:
"TOKYO - Police discovered a suspicious package at a police station in southern Japan Friday, prompting them to evacuate the surrounding area and dispatch a bomb disposal team — which used its expertise to identify the parcel as a box filled with cans of beer.

The mysterious package was found at a station in Iizuka city in Fukuoka prefecture (state), prefectural police spokesman Yoichi Oyama said.

Police became alarmed around 1:50 p.m. when they noticed a suspicious box wrapped in newspaper that had been left inside a local police station. There was no indication that the package had been delivered in the mail, Oyama said.

Five families who live near station were evacuated, and roads in the area were also closed, Oyama said.

The bomb disposal team gingerly opened the box and found cans of beer inside, said Kazuo Hirashima, another police spokesman.

The box contained no explosives, he said, adding that the police immediately lifted the evacuation order and reopened the roads.

Before sending in the bomb squad, Oyama said there was a possibility that the parcel may be a gift for the police officers.

'That's probably what happened,' Hirashima said."
In a related news story, a suspicious-looking monkey was observed outside of a Japanese police station.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It Hit Me

So I was sitting around thinking about aardvarks, and it hit me: I am running out of gum! I was terrified. I don't want to be caught with a paucity of gum! No, the gum-lessness that was staring at me with its bitty evil eyes and I was feeling the heat. But then it hit me: I'm a doctor, I can buy a WHOLE LOT OF GUM if I want. Well, my pulse started to slow, my sweaty palms started to dry. Whew! THAT was a close one. But then it hit me: Why in the WORLD was I thinking about aardvarks? I have never met an aardvark. I have no interest in them, aside from the fact that they appear so early in the dictionary. And how in the WORLD did they con somebody into putting that second "A" at the start of their name?? But then it hit me: I am being hit a lot by something. What keeps hitting me? I looked around the room...nobody was there. The fish in their tank were bumping...whoa, I saw that! Then there was this weird sound coming from under the sofa. It sounded like some bees trying to get out of a Styrofoam box which was coated with crunchy peanut butter and half-frozen cucumber chunks. The sound started quietly, but then got louder. Then it hit me (stop that!): somebody took my cucumbers! Who in the WORLD would steal them, put them in the freezer (for a short time), put some bees in a Styrofoam box, coat it with crunchy peanut butter and stick the cucumbers on it?? Then it hit me (I'm getting really sick of this): I had just finished a project involving all of these items, although I thought the peanut butter was smooth. I had misplaced it and had not been able to find it. Then it hit me (one more time and I will hit back): I'M A DOCTOR, so I can afford to buy some more bees, Styrofoam, PB, and cukes. Then it hit me (I swing in the air): I SPENT ALL MY MONEY ON GUM!!!! I frantically looked under the couch and something was staring at me with its bitty evil eyes...it was an aardvark! Whoa!!! It was the Aardvark that took my box with bees, etc.!!! Then it hit me.

Then I woke up...with a BAD headache.

Discounts that are 6 feet Deep...

Now, I am all for discounts and saving money, and I realize that the cost of burial can be quite high. But I have a little problem with one of the stores in fair city. It is a store called "Caskets & More" (see sign to the right).

I really struggle to find words as to why this bothers me. I mean, it really is not a bad thing to sell caskets - we will all need one some day (I suppose it is very possible to do without, but it is certainly customary). I also understand the need for businesses to make money. It's just...Caskets.

So here are some ideas for advertising campaigns:
  1. Buy a coffin, get a free urn!
  2. Prices so cheap, you'll feel like you robbed the grave.
  3. A tisket, a tasket, a bargain on a casket.
  4. We bury our competition (and our customers).
  5. Our service won't leave you in the cold.
  6. Coffee? Cream?...Coffin? Cremate?
  7. No Body is Better.
  8. You never know if you need us.
  9. Why so cheap? Two words: "Cardboard Boxes."
  10. Monumental Savings.

So I got thinking, what are some other business that could be of a similar ilk:

  • DIY Colonoscopies - What do Gastroenterologists know anyway?
  • Urinals R Us
  • Sputum Central - "Thanks for bringing that up!"
  • Dog Doo Madness - Deeply Discounted Dung
  • Grim Reaper's home embalming kit- "Just make sure they're really dead..."
  • Parasite Pals - no wait, that is the real thing.
So, if you have a hankerin' for a casket, y'all come on down to AGS. No one can beat our prices! You will REALLY rest in peace.

Monday, June 12, 2006

More Beer News

Hot off of the presses:

Jun. 12 - A beer-loving monkey is among the first to make a beeline for the local liquor shop, so that she can lay her hands on her fix for the day.

What started as a fun drive by some of the truck drivers who made her drink from their leftover bottles for a small kick, has turned into an addiction for this 34 year old primate.

She arrives at the shop on the outskirts of the North Indian city of Kanpur, a tad before its opening, eagerly looking forward to a pint or two from the owner or from any of the amused customers.

If neither obliges, then she coolly gets into the shop and picks a brand of her choice before walking off, without bothering anyone.

Most of the customers vouch for her serene behaviour, saying she seldom misbehaves, even when denied a beer.

SOUNDBITE, Rajesh Singh Chouhan, Owner of the beer shop saying:
"It is a pet. Earlier the drivers visiting the shop used to give beer just for some lighthearted fun but slowly the monkey got addicted to it. She has been drinking beer for the last 20 years. She drinks at least 2-3 bottles everyday. She is roughly 34-year-old and drinks only beer."

My suspicion is that either this monkey wants to be cool (although I looked him up and could not find him in facebook.com) or he is very concerned about his prostate health.

It looks like these monkeys have had too much beer. Where are their iPods?

Beer is Healthy

News Flash:
CORVALLIS, Ore. - A main ingredient in beer may help prevent prostate cancer and enlargement, according to a new study. But researchers say don't rush out to stock the refrigerator because the ingredient is present in such small amounts that a person would have to drink more than 17 beers to benefit.
Great News! Drinking beer in large quantities will keep me from having cancer. Now, I am not sure if simply owning beer will help, I think you have to drink it. But this is good news for those of us who want to emulate Homer Simpson and throw back some Duff's Beer, although it does pose a bit of a dilemma. The problem is that beer is also a diuretic, so the prostate benefits are somewhat negated (all the more negated if you drink 17). This probably does explain why the male species is more drawn to the amber nectar than the gentler sex. It is something deep within our physiology that pushes us to this desire.
"Homer no function beer well without" - Homer Simpson
By the way, did you know that a bag of M&Ms has 2% of the daily requirement of Thiamin? That means if you eat 50 bags of them you will stay healthy (at least you won't develop a thiamin deficiency). Ahhh...Isn't science wonderful?

Friday, June 09, 2006

iPods are cool

From the Washington Post:

The iPod has surpassed beer drinking as the most "in" thing among undergraduate college students, according to a new survey. What was tied with drinking beer as the second-most popular activity?

Nearly three quarters, or 73 percent, of 1,200 students surveyed said iPods were "in" -- more than any other item in a list. This year, drinking beer and Facebook.com, a social networking Web site, were tied for second most popular, with 71 percent of the students identifying them as "in." The only other time beer was temporarily dethroned in the 18 years of the survey was in 1997 -- by the Internet, said Eric Weil, a managing partner at Student Monitor, a Ridgewood, N.J.-based firm that conducted the biannual market research study.

Hmm... so I guess I am cool. The best thing would be drinking beer while listening to your iPod and surfing Facebook.com. Well, I may do the 1st two. My wife thinks I am nerdy with all my gadgets, but this is scientific proof that I am cool. Oh boy.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Doctors in Sandals

OK, I admit it, I am a card-carrying member of the casual footwear society (CFS). Not that I don't like wearing shoes, but I just like the feel of sandals. When I started doing this in the office, I got mixed reviews. Some seemed to like the fact that I was somewhat laid-back in my attire, while others are offended. Once a lady left my nurse with a newspaper article that referenced the following article:

BACKGROUND: This study examined patient perceptions and attitudes toward various aspects of the male and female physician's professional appearance in the family practice setting. METHODS: Four hundred ninety-six patients from two family practice clinics in Knoxville, Tennessee, completed a valid and reliable questionnaire. Questionnaires were offered to all patients on registering at their respective clinic during a 2-week period. RESULTS: Most patients had no preference regarding the age or sex of their medical care provider. A nametag, white coat, and visible stethoscope were the most desirable characteristics, whereas sandals, clogs, and tennis shoes were the least desirable items. Younger patients were generally more accepting of casual attire than were older patients. Office clinic location was the most important predictor of preferences in six of the significant characteristics. CONCLUSION: Our findings support the results of both studies published two decades earlier and more recently. Patients prefer a traditionally dressed physician as opposed to one who is dressed more casually

My nurse was furious and told me: "Dr. Lamberts, never change!" I thought it was humorous.

The fact is, I am not an overall casual dresser. I wear a button-up shirt and kahkis usually, never wearing jeans or a non-dress shirt. But my sandals are one of the trademarks. On the days that I either can't find my sandals or just have the desire (or, "hankerin" here in God's country) to wear regular shoes, I will invariably get a comment from a patient asking me why I am not wearing my sandals.

My theory on all of this is that patients may respond this way on a questionnaire, but if you ask them, "what is more important, whether you can have a good relationship with your physician and feel that he listens to you, or whether he dresses nicely?" Most people would choose the doctor who gets along well and listens. I don't put on airs like I am different from my patients. I don't want them to feel I am above them. I am the one who is lucky to be there and want them to know that.

And if they still don't like my sandals, they can go see "Dr. Kildare" down the hall.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Glass Fullness

I turned 44 today. Not that I think it merits too much attention. I feel more personal pride on Father's day than I do on my birthday in that I really had to do something to merit celebration, whereas for a birthday all I had to do was survive. Anyway, at 44, I am (Lord willing) about half way through my life - so the glass is either half full (Great 44 and 44 more to come) or half empty (only 44 more years to undo what I did in the 1st 44). Birthdays are a lot better when you have kids - my 6-year old daughter wished me a happy "day before your birthday," and they are happy with the cake and going out to eat as well.

I also reflect on days like this as to what it means to be the person I am. What is the significance of being the one in 6 Billion who fills my shoes? I think that the fact that I feel compelled to find that purpose or significance betrays something inherent in the human heart. The song lyrics that come to mind are:
Smiles mixed with curses
The crowd disperses
About whom no details are known
Each one alone, yet not alone
Behind the pain/fear
Etched on the faces
Something is shining like gold, but better
Rumors of Glory...
Rumors of Glory
(Bruce Cockburn, from "Humans")
When it is said "we are made in the image of God," I think this is what is meant. We are unique individuals, not part of an impersonal organism. We are beings of significance, not "just a bubble in a boiling pot," as Jack Johnson puts it. If not, then why do we scream for justice? Why do we long for love? Why do we yearn for significance and purpose? I think these are all "rumors of glory." My birthday hits home on this because it is "my day." I want it to be more than just a dot on a timeline, I want it to be more than just a nod to my survival. If I don't make it to my next birthday, I want to be more than a fading memory.

I doubt there are many who would disagree.