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Category: opinion

02/10/09 07:55 - 49ºF - ID#47705

How many of you believe that...

cancer has not been "cured" because researchers and clinicians are just making too much money out of it to destroy what is virtually a cash-cow?

Today morning, at a discussion seminar, I had this very disturbing thought that definitely made me question whether I was right in choosing to do what I do. I know we really are not close to a "cure" for cancer. But WHY are we so hesitant to restructure our healthcare system and do even little things that will certainly make a difference in cancer incidence and outcomes?

Every cancer centre in this country depends on its patients to run. That is a fact. But in running health care as a business are we getting away from the basic motivation behind healthcare - to eliminate disease? There is so much drive to carry out all kinds of complicated research, but what are we doing about what research has already shown us? Is it so tough to step away from what has become a blind chase for more and more patients or publications and see whether we have achieved anything tangible in the last so many decades?? Is translational research just another over-hyped myth? No one wants to talk about what we can possibly do to IMPLEMENT our findings and translate them into healthcare policy. Instead, everyone wants to talk about precision of measurement in research and methods to recruit even more patients to clinics and research studies.

Recruitment to studies has steadily become more and more difficult. Has any of us wondered why? Is it just because people have caller-IDs on their phones and won't answer random surveys? Perhaps. But I am not sure that this is the sole reason. It could be because we have become so research-oriented that we don't care what the deliverable outcomes of our research are, any more. We are just interested in a job called "research". What does this "research" mean? Many of us would struggle to answer that question - regardless of how many "public health significance" abstracts we might write.

I am feeling so bitter and cynical today. I am sorry. :( I might probably not agree with all I said here in my happier research moments. Research is exciting to me - not just because I think its cool but because I feel like I am working towards something that will help my former patients and more importantly, future research beneficiaries. Its a personal cause to me. Thus, it feels awful that I really might not achieve the end-result I dream about all the time because there will be no one in the end, who really cares about what my research might mean to healthcare policy but only look at how much grant money I might bring in with my research or how many publications I can stack up. :/
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Permalink: How_many_of_you_believe_that_.html
Words: 471
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: eating in

02/08/09 12:34 - 35ºF - ID#47679

Semolina Upma

Another day, another meal! Feel free to stop me when this gets kind of toxic. Hee Hee. :p


I used the Greek Semolina I bought at the Indian Store. It is awesome! I am SO GLAD I didn't get the conventional Indian brand!

Ding Ding...Recipe time!!

1. Bring water to a boil with a nice scoop of red chillie powder and turmeric powder. Add semolina and cook around 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat.

2. Take half-a tablespoon of peanut oil in a pan and heat till the oil is flowy. Add a pinch of each (see pictures in the post below)
- Black mustard seeds,
- Urad dal (white split lentils)
- Channe ki dal (split yellow lentils)
- Dried red chillies.
- Cumin

3. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add
- tablespoon of chopped ginger root
- Chopped green chillies (thai/indian/jalapenos) to taste
- Chopped Karuvepelai ("Curry" leaves)
Stir them around till karuvepelai becomes really fragrant!

4. Add a dash of Asafoetida powder to the above and stir

5. Add chopped red onions - saute till translucent.

6. Add chopped green bell peppers - saute a bit. Add salt to taste

7. Add cooked semolina and stir to coat the veggies on the semolina.

8. Enjoy with a cup of Mango tea!

I used to have Semia Upma for breakfast on so many Sundays, growing up - that it's as much of a Sunday morning ritual as church is to some of you. Probably a lot more "sinful". Hehe. :)
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Permalink: Semolina_Upma.html
Words: 250
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: eating in

02/07/09 05:40 - 49ºF - ID#47671

Keerai Molaguttal

Since (e:heidi) requested more food posts, here is one! :)


Keerai Molaguttal is an uber traditional dish from the Palakaddu district of Kerala. Its not so much Tamilian as it is Malayali. You won't see this in ANY Indian restaurant - north or south, even if they are in India. It's very unglamorous and very practical but worth dying for. Some days, I just crave it so much I can even smell its fragrance before I start cooking. Its got this addictive potential. Some people hate it and some like me, just can't live without it.

Its not spicy or hot, so strong hot south Indian lemon pickles (that I bought yesterday) go wonderfully well with it. Its comfort food taken to the Malayali extreme. :)

The really simple recipe:

1. Cook rice in the rice cooker - Any rice will do, but Basmati is awesome. Don't smash the rice.

2. Wash and chop a good amount of spinach - blend the spinach in the blender to a smooth paste, add generous water to make it a smooth flowing paste but don't make it too watery.

3. Cook orange lentils (masoor dal) or toor dal
image in the rice cooker. Toor dal needs around 5-6 hours of pre-soaking if you are not using a pressure cooker. Masoor doesn't need any and is readily cooked. The objective is to cook the lentils really well so that you can smash them to a paste with a ladle.

4. In a wide-bottomed pan, take a teaspoon (or 1.5 tsp) of peanut oil, heat the oil till it flows freely. Add a pinch of black mustard seeds,
image, a pinch of urad dal (while lentils), pinch of channe ki dal (split yellow lentils), whole black peppercorns and several dried red chillies.

5. When the mustard seeds just start to pop, invert the whole blended spinach paste into the pan and stir well. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and a pinch of red chillie powder.

6. Fresh-grind around 2 tablespoons of cumin in a mortar and pestle and add to the spinach. Next, add around 4 tablespoons of coconut powder or coconut shreds to the spinach.

7. When the spinach paste starts bubbling a bit (around 2 minutes) add the cooked lentils (masoor or toor) and some more water to take it a to a hearty thick soupy consistency.

8. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn off heat. Its VERY important not to overcook the spinach. Unlike North Indians who murder their spinach in that insane dish called palak paneer, South Indians value the art of just-enough cooking to preserve that fresh awesome taste of veggies. If your keerai molaguttal has turned a dark green tinted with yellow (the colour of palak paneer, btw), you have got it all wrong. It needs to be a bright dark green and when you taste it, the raw spinach smell is gone but the fresh spinach fragrance remains accented by the coconut, cumin, lentils and red-chllies.

9. Serve over cooked rice.

10. Garnish with a nice big scoop of south Indian lemon pickle!

PS: Keerai: Spinach in Tamil. Molaguttal: I really don't know what this means. Molagu means peppercorns. I guess it could mean seasoned with peppercorns. Its a word that is neither Tamil nor Malayalam but somewhere in between - very typical of the border-district of Palakkadu.
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Permalink: Keerai_Molaguttal.html
Words: 556
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: grocery

02/07/09 08:38 - 42ºF - ID#47665

30 items or more - February 2009

All the reasonably priced orange-bags at Wegmans had greenish fungus on them so I didn't get them. I got these instead:

1. Milk - Fat-free 2 Gallons - $3.98 (1 Gallon @ $1.99)
(This is almost the first time in two years I have seen a gallon milk below $2.00).

2. Milk - 2% - 1/2 Gallon - $1.49
Coffee becomes so much more tastier with 2% milk!

3. Vanilla low-fat yoghurt - $1.99

4. Wegmans Wheat Pita Bread - $1.79
(The pitas are so much more tastier and cheaper at Guercio's. Why Oh Why do they close at 6.00 PM!?! :/)

5. Wegmans Lite Wheat Bread - $2.49 It is lite, it feels rite.

6. Wegmans Firm Organic Tofu - $1.99
(Used to be $1.29 when I first moved to Rochester)

7. Wegmans 1 Pound Sweet Cream Butter - $1.50
(Okay! I caved in. I am going to try baking some cookies with this evil addictive and gorgeously delicious substance. But mainly, I am going to have it on crisp toast.)

8. Dole Mixed Frozen Fruit - $8.59
Interestingly, they changed the fruit mix to strawberries, peaches, mangoes (yes! mangoes) and pineapple. I was not a big fan of the melons so I am pretty excited. :)

9. Edys's real fruit bars - 12 bars - $2.99
(Small pieces of heaven if you can pretend that its summer.)

10. Cheez its! - $$1.50

11. Natural Gruyere Swiss Cheese. - $4.95
I felt like I needed an indulgence. This is it! :)

12. Grapefruit 5lb - $2.99

13. Macintosh Apples 5lb - $4.75.
I am stuck with these for yet another week. Depression. I miss my Granny Smiths. But I refuse to pay $0.79 per smallish Granny Smith! That is atrocious.

14. Red Potatoes - $1.12 (1.13lb @ $0.99/lb)

15. Green Seedless Grapes - $4.95 (@ $1.29/lb)

16. Bananas - $1.88 (3.84lb @ 0.49/lb)

Total: $48.95

I also went to the Super Bazaar because I desperately needed a fix of Indian Snackies!

17. Gujarati Fulvadi - $1.99

18. Bhavnagri Gathiya - $1.99

19. Bikaneri Bhujia - 2 X $1.99 = $3.98

20. Gujarati Tam Tam - $1.99

21. Rice Khichia - $1.99
Like papads, but 1000x cooler and tastier.

22. Semolina - $1.49
I am intrigued by the one's I bought. They are from Greece. I can't wait to make the traditional upma with the Greek version...

23. Tata Tetley Elaichi Chai - $0.49

24. Mother's South Indian Style Pickle - $1.99

25. Roma Tomatoes - $4.15 (4.19lb @0.99/lb)

26. Indian Green Chillies - $0.99

27. Thai Green Chillies - $0.99

28. Karuvepelai ("Curry" leaves) - $0.99

29. Coriander - 2 Bunches - $1.00

30. Tender Okra - $1.46 (0.77lb @1.89/lb)

31. Bottle Gourd - $4.40 (2.95lb @ 1.49/lb)

32. Fresh Ginger Root - $0.98 (0.66lb @ $1.49/lb)

33. Super Long Indian String Beans - $3.70 (1.86lb @ $1.99/lb)
I LOVE these! They are very costly outside of ethnic stores. I think they come from the Caribbean.

Total: $34.57

Grand Total - $83.52
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Permalink: 30_items_or_more_February_2009.html
Words: 474
Location: Buffalo, NY

02/04/09 08:37 - 11ºF - ID#47643


I learned today that someone I know really well lost a sibling in the 9/11 tragedy. It ripped their family apart and brought them together at the same time. It's extraordinary how something that was rather remote suddenly has taken on a very personal hue.

It's like being shaken back to the remote shock you once knew you felt but only more intense. It's a very weird feeling of helplessness and sadness. Lives lost remain lost forever regardless of what political agenda is or has been for the past years. None of it matters even an iota to the ones who were really affected.
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Permalink: 9_11.html
Words: 103
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: music

02/03/09 07:42 - ID#47624

Love 'em or Leave 'em

Another music post, but nothing else seems worthwhile nowadays. This time, its the Scorpions.


I think this post should end here. They are the Scorpions and hence, they rule. But I will go ahead and add an example.

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Permalink: Love_em_or_Leave_em.html
Words: 48
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: music

01/31/09 05:54 - 16ºF - ID#47585

Opera: D. Hvorostovsky and C. Orbelian


Dimitri Hvorostovsky, Constantine Orbelian And The Moscow Chamber Orchestra - I can only say, what a magnificent team!

Performing a whole bunch of Russian operas/folksongs/wartime songs with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra (Philharmonia of Russia). I am in operatic heaven. :)

Now doesn't he have the most awesome voice ever?

  • Thank you, mrbusy.
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Permalink: Opera_D_Hvorostovsky_and_C_Orbelian.html
Words: 134
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: eating in

01/24/09 11:56 - 10ºF - ID#47509


Some of my worst and best flying experiences have been on Delta.


They ALWAYS strand me at a dodgy hotel in Atlanta, where there is always some weird embarrassing party going on. The first time it was an uncomfortable vain-socialites-of-the-world-unite party.


The second time, it was some religious zealot supergroup from Pakistan and India, combined.

The less said about these parties, the better.

The happier side of flying delta are these Biscoff speculoos.

These are unimaginably crisp cinnamony pieces of spice heavens. I used to hoard them while flying and on occasion have lied to the flight attendants to get extra ones. YES, they are that good. Then I moved to Buffalo and found that the Walgreens on North and Delaware carried these biscuits! I was pretty thrilled. I try to forget that they sell them because usually, I have this tendency to gorge myself on whatever I am addicted to till I am sick of them and can let go of them forever. But I like these biscuits so much that I don't want to get deaddicted! See?

{PS: I am happy to report that my unhealthy love-affair with Twizzlers and Andy Capps hot fries is finally over because of intentional overindulgence.}
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Permalink: Speculoos.html
Words: 211
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: e:strip

01/23/09 06:16 - 41ºF - ID#47502

Do you follow the "e:strip rules"??!

I just found out that apparently, I totally cross and break some of them...


Additionally, all users of (e:strip) (e:services) including guests, visitors of the site, and (e:peeps) agree not to:
1. "stalk" or otherwise harass anyone;

I am the official (and self-declared) (e:mike)'s #1 Stalker. If that is not a blatant violation, I don't know what is! Additionally, I also specialize in annoying and harassing the hell out of everyone.

2. collect personal data about other users for commercial or unlawful purposes;

Oh man. I do collect personal data on all of you for future and present use. I use this personal data to great effect often when I meet you on the streets and in gatherings. Hee Hee.

I am a rule-breaker!
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Permalink: Do_you_follow_the_quot_e_strip_rules_quot_.html
Words: 139
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: eating in

01/11/09 12:20 - 19ºF - ID#47361

Penang Stir Fry

I made a multi-vegetable penang sauce based stir-fry for dinner today.


It did take quite a long time by my normal dinner standards but the result was beyond what I expected so I am going to document the recipe here before I forget.

Tofu - Prep
- Freeze Firm tofu (NOT extra firm)
- Thaw and cut into thin cubes

The Penang Sauce
Dry toast coriander seeds, a large number of hot dried red chillies and peanuts.

Blend to a fine paste:
- Freshly Toasted Coriander Seeds, Red Chillies and Peanuts (from above)
- Fresh Coriander (DO NOT discard stems. They are the most intense essence of the coriander).
- Several garlic cloves.
- One small red onion
- One green lime - pulp, rind and juice.
- Galangal
- Ginger
- Regular Soy Sauce

The Stir Fry
- In a wide bottomed pan, take around 1-1.5 tablespoon of peanut oil. Swivel the pan to coat the entire pan. Heat on stove.
- Wait till the oil is thinning out but NOT smoking.
- Lay the the tofu cubes down in one layer over the heated oil in the pan.
- Wait till one side is browned, carefully flip over to the other side without breaking the cubes. Brown this side as well.
- Add some cumin seeds. Saute for a while
- Add chopped green bell peppers. Saute for a while
- Add salt and carrots. Saute for a while
- Add shredded savoy cabbage. Saute for a while
- Add chopped snow peas. Saute for a while
- Add chopped broccoli.
- Add penang sauce (to taste - you probably made a lot more than you need for this dish, if you followed the method above)
- Saute till broccoli is a bright bright green

Take off heat. Serve with basmati rice. :)
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Permalink: Penang_Stir_Fry.html
Words: 306
Location: Buffalo, NY



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paul said to mike
You are welcome!...

mike said to paul
i'm glad you documented this. I was actually looking for a picture but came across this and am glad ...

mike said to paul
i'm glad you documented this. I was actually looking for a picture but came across this and am glad ...

mike said to paul
i'm glad you documented this. I was actually looking for a picture but came across this and am glad ...