Friday, March 26, 2010

Warrior Dash

Last night on Dr. A, we talked a little about the Warrior Dash.  I thought today I'd give a little background on how I found it and why I'm so excited about blazing this new trail.

About four months ago, a friend of mine became a fan of the page for "Warrior Dash" on Facebook.  I had never heard of such a thing, but when you're a near-30-year-old who grew up on He-Man and American Gladiators, your interest gets piqued by such adrenaline-charged monikers.
I ventured to the Facebook page, only to find a brief description of an obstacle race and the offer of free beer. The visuals were interesting and somewhat reminiscent of The Flintstones, so I proceeded to the homepage.(flash heavy)
To my surprise, I was greeted with images of men and women running through FIRE!!! Immediately I sent a text to a good friend of mine encouraging his complicity in what I knew would be my newest endeavor.

In the month prior to finding what I considered the penultimate 'geek' race, I had been slowly but surely evolving a new attitude about exercise in general, but more specifically about running. A post on Nature's website led me down the rabbit hole of what is commonly referred to as barefoot running.  While not limited to truly bare feet, the sport revolves around the basic premise that humans as a species were designed to run and tennis shoes/running shoes may be the root of a lot of the joint stress and injuries sustained by modern runners.
I was always a firm believer in Fight-or-Flight as a dichotomous option. I joked that some people were born fighters and others were born "flighters," the only other option being "food." With that in mind, and a 6'3" frame lugging around 265 pounds (which has slimmed from 290# a little over a year ago), I worked to make myself an efficient, capable fighter.  Not MMA cage-style, but able to defend myself if the need arose. What I failed to realize, and what my research led me to conclude was something radical: I could be both, and would benefit from being both.
I read the nature article and several of the source articles, followed closely by the book "Born to Run," by Christopher McDougall. I invested in a pair of Vibram FiveFingers. I started running and enjoying it! Finding the Warrior Dash occurred during this mental revolution and led me to begin thinking about exercise in a totally new way.  Here was exercise (both the barefoot running and the Dash) that for all appearances could be fun. A celebration of activity, rather than the drudgery of going to the gym. Exercise, not because I have to, but because I want to.

What the Warrior Dash represents is a totally new way of thinking for me. While it incorporates aspects of existing exercise programs (the Gauntlet from American gladiators, the Crucible from the Marines) there are also aspects that remind me of a video game (running through FIRE!). While the Wii made entertainment into exercise, this turns exercise into entertainment. It becomes FUN. Yes, it still hurts on occasion.  Yes, there is an element of conditioning required. But in the final analysis, this race did something neither a marathon nor an IronMan could ever do. It made me excited about exercising.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Worth the Read

Just came across this article. Pretty good stuff.

30 Habits that Will Change your Life
Health habits

1. Exercise 30 minutes every day. Especially if you don’t do much movement while working, it’s essential that you get some daily exercise. 30 minutes every day are the minimum recommended for optimal health.
2. Eat breakfast every day. Breakfast is the more important meal of the day, yet so many people skip it. Personally, I like to eat a couple of toasts in the morning along with a fruit beverage.
3. Sleep 8 hours. Sleep deprivation is never a good idea. You may think that you are gaining time by sleeping less, when in reality you are only gaining stress and tiredness. 8 hours are a good number of hours for most people, along with an optional 20 minutes nap after lunch.

If the above resonates with you, check out the rest of the list
30 Habits that will change your life

First Order Retrieval

As a society, we are surrounded by technology.  Some more than others. Currently, I have in my direct possession an iPhone, and iPod touch, this laptop, a calculator watch and a USB drive.  That's just on my person. Devices designed to connect me to others, to simplify my life, to make information more accessible.

All of the technology out there and what do we do with it? Instead of simplifying, we clutter. Disregarding the iPod touch (it's a leftover from my transition to the iPhone) I still have three devices on my person that have essentially overlapping functions.  My USB drive and watch (see photo) have functions easily reproduced by my iPhone, which is itself a more portable and compact version of the laptop on which I am composing this entry.

While organizationally, this is not intuitive, there is some method to my madness.  A few months ago I saw a video of Mythbuster Adam Savage (to whom I have occasionally been compared) iterating his belief on "first order retrievability."  In essence, any object (in Adam's case, his tools) that is of use should only be one level removed from the user. For example, if I want to know the time, I simply have to glance at my watch. That's first order retrievability. For the iPhone/iPod, I have to tap the power or home button. Technically, that's second order, but this is arguable. For my laptop, I'd have to turn it on, log in, and wait for the OS to load. More wasted time, less effect. In most workplaces, and especially medicine, this inefficiency reigns.

The sane person is thinking right now, "If you take this to its extreme endpoint, you'd have a million gadgets just to get through the day." And they'd be right. To an extent. The beauty of tech, and specifically most of our newest tech, is the ability for most devices to take on the characteristics of another device with first order retrieval. For instance, I tap an icon and my iPhone becomes a GPS. Another button and it's a web browser. Yet another and it's a camera. While none of these functions compare to their standalone counterparts, they're "good enough for government work."

As a physician, this is immeasurably useful. I have finite time, finite pocket space and a limited number of slots on my "bat belt." With a smartphone, and a multitool (Gerber FliK) I can have an relatively infinite number of tools at my disposal. My iPhone acts as a PDA, phone, camera and GPS at its bare minimum. With the right collection of Apps, I have a complete medical library, tools for measurement and recording, even an entire Electronic Medical Record, all in a single device. 

For a doctor, first order retrievability allows you to spend more time with patients and less time looking for things. Even if finding a chart only takes 15 seconds, multiply that by the 30 patients a day most doctors see and you're talking minutes. A quick and dirty estimate (I timed myself walking 15 feet, searched through an alphabetized list and selected an item, then walked back) reveals that it's more like 2 minutes. That's an hour a day. In busy offices, that's 4-5 more patients.  Or even better, 2 extra minutes with each patient.  Even if you pay someone else to do the job, that's still "person hours" being used for information retrieval that could be done in milliseconds by a "gadget."Add in all of the other third and fourth order retrieval tasks we encounter throughout the day, and the benefits of a first-order retrieval system are obvious.

It's not an easy proposition, but it's well worth it in the long run.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dr. Anonymous Tomorrow Night!

Just a quick pitch!
I'll be on the Dr. Anonymous ( show tomorrow night at 9pm EST

Check it out, if you get the chance, otherwise, it's on iTunes!

P.S. He called me out in the promo for not having a blog, so this should hopefully get him off my back :)

First time for many things...

So, this is the first (hopefully of many) official blog posts from me, Dr. Geek.

I've been a tech head for 25 years, a doctor for 2 and a blogger for about 3 1/2 minutes. There's nothing that stopped me from blogging before, I simply never took it up. I prefer human interaction with faces and all... Like my aversion to long phone calls (except for maybe voicemail), my "problem" with blogging has always been the one-sided nature of the conversation. Even with comments and social media linking, there's always been something impersonal about the blog. I can't see your expression to know if what I'm saying is making an impact. I can't judge your personal feelings by the look on your face.

I also have trouble justifying spending time writing something that few people will read. Is there anyway anyone would be interested in what I have to say? If so, will it lead to "followers" (lurkers) or "friends," people to share actual discourse.

All that to say, this is the first of many posts. I'm currently revamping my style pages and taking some pictures for the header. In the coming days/weeks, I'll be posting a lot. Stuff about healthcare reform, medicine, medical training, technology, but more importantly how all those things affect me, and to some extent, the "common man."

Here's to your health!