What I'm Reading (Dec. 7)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — Dec 07, 2023
Let’s Eat Grandma – more than just an error in punctuation Take-out pizza Hospitals as Hotels Candy Land’s origin story
What I Am Reading

After Thanksgiving and often a meal that leaves one a bit bloated and listless, consider this.

“Unfortunately, the winter of 1846 starts early. Two weeks of snow has buried the top of the Sierras by the time you arrive, and the weather’s terrible turn is as unlucky as it is decisive. Oxen always struggle to haul wagons up the steep granite walls protecting Truckee Pass (now Donner Pass), but when you attempt it on November 1, you’ll find it buried in five feet of powder. Less than three miles from the summit, you will face two terrible options: one, abandon your wagons and cattle, fashion snowshoes, and trek for Sacramento and your life; or two, retreat to a few cabins by Truckee Lake that previous pioneers constructed a few years prior. The Donners chose to retreat.

When I ask Bill Bowness, a historian at Donner Memorial State Park, whether you should do the same, he believes fewer Donners would have died had they abandoned their gear and made the trek. So he recommends you go for it. But others, like McLaughlin, aren’t so sure.

As the article from Wired points out, to survive the Donner party, the first piece of advice is “Don’t be a young, healthy, single man.”  An article on starvation and cannibalism, The Case for Cannibalism, or: How to Survive the Donner Party


While on the subject of food, consider perhaps the most popular of food items, pizza. Well, not really the pizza, so much as the box.


“Pizza delivery, it turns out, is based on a fundamental lie. The most iconic delivery food of all time is bad at surviving delivery, and the pizza box is to blame. “I don’t like putting any pizza in a box,” Andrew Bellucci, a legendary New York City pizza maker of Andrew Bellucci’s Pizzeria, told me. “That’s just it, really. The pizza degrades as soon as it goes inside,” turning into a swampy mess.

A pizza box has one job—keeping a pie warm and crispy during its trip from the shop to your house—and it can’t really do it.”

From The Atlantic, You Don’t Know How Bad the Pizza Box Is


During my recent hospitalization, I was treated to the end of those tray meals that featured red or green jello (both colors known for their healing properties). Instead, I was given a menu and asked to call room service, which would bring up my personalized selections, including the aforementioned jello, should I wish. Of course, the tray I was presented with was a pale version of what the menu offered. But that experience sensitized me to this.

“So much of being seriously ill has been rebranded in American health care as a kind of adventure. Experts speak of stroke journeys. Hospital systems invite people on kidney-transplant journeys. The language has trickled down into advertising: Take a hair-loss journey or a weight-loss journey (newly popular thanks to Wegovy and similar drugs). The heart-failure journey even comes with a map.

A map? But on these journeys, you don’t get to go anywhere—except maybe the hospital or doctor’s office, which is likely, too, to have bought into the travel concept. In the past two decades, American hospitals have gotten into the business of hotel-like hospitality (illness can be fun!) rather than confine themselves to the business of disease (what a downer).”

I especially deplore the use of the term journey; one might just as well call it a Great Adventure. But I digress. This article describes how hospitals in the mad rush to get Medicare Stars or Yelp Likes are losing sight of their primary mission and morphing into a very expensive Motel 6. From The Atlantic, Hospitals Have Gotten Too Nice


“If you were a child at some point in the past 70 years, odds are you played the board game Candy Land. According to the toy historian Tim Walsh, a staggering 94 percent of mothers are aware of Candy Land, and more than 60 percent of households with a 5-year-old child own a set. The game continues to sell about 1 million copies every year.”

Candy Land is right up there with Chutes and Ladders and Monopoly. Quick fun fact: Sam Bankman-Fried’s favorite game in college was Risk, which he evidently played into adulthood. But I digress. Here is Candy Land’s origin story from The Atlantic: Candy Land Was Invented for Polio Wards


Here are just two things learned:

  1. The US Defence Department earns $100m/year operating slot machines used by soldiers on their bases. [Gabby Means]
  2. 1 in 5 people currently have a disability. 100% of people will have some form of disability in their lifetime. [Jim Nielsen]

Here are all 52 new things Tom Whitwell learned this year. 52 things I learned in 202

Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA

Director of Medicine

Dr. Charles Dinerstein, M.D., MBA, FACS is Director of Medicine at the American Council on Science and Health. He has over 25 years of experience as a vascular surgeon.

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