Joey & New York

I was going to go to the City for Joey’s performance. Yep, I acted too late…

I admit it; I came to know him like everyone else, i.e. his appearance in the last week’s 60 minutes. As a music ‘consumer,’ I am not ashamed of enjoying watching a young Chinese piano prodigy playing extremely technical pieces by Frederick Chopin in a shiny and tiny dress, exposing too much skin. But Joey is different…

What amazes me about him is that he does not stick out. Many prodigies “stick out” because of exceptional skills in one area, usually technical skills. However, other skills are often rather mediocre. Joey is different; he is a fine jazz pianist all around. He hardly has exceptional techniques; he has a very good sense of music and groove but he is not “divine” like Keith Jarrett is (I admit that Keith is not a good example — I am not that familiar with all jazz pianists but I hope that you understand what I am trying to say).

He is an aged, very fine jazz player like one of the finest “second vin Bordeaux.” He is not Romanée-Conti. But he brings joy to anyone’s life.

“Help Me.doc”

A few weeks ago, I was digging into Rutgers’ intranet website in an attempt to figure out the easiest way to save files in my personal folder.  (I still use Rutgers’ resources because University of Maryland doesn’t provide much.)

Digging deep into the intranet, I found a handful of accidentally shared documents; A poorly written class essays, flyers for upcoming collegiate events, incomplete resumes, and cover letters.

One of the documents drew my attention.  “Help Me.doc”  I opened the file out of curiosity; I was little nervous as well.  Does someone really need a help?  If so, what do I need to do?  My computer downloaded the file momentary and the word file opened on my screen.  The 104-page document starts with a “Disclaimer,” alerting readers that what follows is the voice of her inner thoughts.  It seems like that the person intentionally buried the file on the bottom of deeply nested shared folders.

The disclaimer ends with a sentence, “You’ll wish you didn’t read it because it could simply be a waste of time reading my life.”  The metadata section of this document shows the author’s name; a feminine name commonly used in Southeast Asia.  Out of respect for her privacy, I won’t redistribute this document or disclose her name; but I am going to read her diary and post a few reflections soon.


Dispense As Written

A few months ago, a pharmacist, a colleague of mine, told me that he was shocked to hear health economists’ open claim about generics. Yes, we firmly believe that brand-name drugs and generics are equivalent. Just like anyone else in the policy arena. FDA says that they are ‘equivalent.’ Express Scripts says that they’re equivalent (see what follows after the star on the picture below). We want cheaper pills. No brainer.

Lately, I decided to start a therapy that puts me on a medication for sometime (that’s why I added a drug coverage during the open enrollment period last year). Although I have had allergies and some other minor health issues since my childhood, none of my conditions have been severe enough to require any special medication. All what I need to do is to pick up a 30-day supply for $4 from Walmart.

This time; that wasn’t the case.

I picked up a bottle of pills from Safeway. I stared at a white plain bottle for a while and started peeling the Rx label with my name on. A large portion of the original label came off with the Rx label, but I could read the name of the manufacturer. Of course, I don’t know the company; but who cares. There is a NDC on it. This is a widely prescribed drug, known to be safe, and indicated for a wide variety of conditions. Not that different from candies, as I walked past a cash register I thought. I threw one tablet into my mouth, swallowed it, tossed the white bottle in my bag, and drove home.

A few hours later, things took an unexpected turn. I started feeling extremely dizzy and had no choice but to spend the rest of the day in bed. Next day, crowing out of my bed, I picked up a few brand-name pills from a reliable source, knowing that some adverse events have been reported for pills that came from some of the generic makers. I needed a bit of time to make up my mind. But, in the end, I decided to take the brand-name pill. I waited hours, expecting another severe adverse event. After almost a day of waiting, I gave up. I didn’t experience any side-effects. Nope. Nada. Never. Was I shocked? I was. That was the moment that the economic theory of equivalency fell apart.

I wrote up a 2-page statement, entitled Urgent Request for Benefit Coverage Review, and asked my PCP to send it over to Express Scripts with her chart notes attached. (They require “step therapy” before covering expensive drugs so my PCP needed to prove that the initial therapy failed.)

My PCP’s assistant submitted our package early in one morning; they approved our request around lunch time. Express Scripts now foot the bill of the brand-name pills which cost them $1,400 per month. The generic ‘equivalent’ costs only $7 per month.

Signaling Problem

It is about T-mobile. Not about the dispersion of your boyfriend’s non-converging signals that you have no idea where the global maximum lies.
If that’s your primary problem, take Game Theory 101 (most likely coded as something like “Economics 613”); you’ll be glad.

I moved from AT&T to T-mobile last month. I never thought that any major wireless provider could have such a poor coverage in 2016. Yes, it’s 2016. I feel that T-mobile is still stuck in 1990s.

Dear John:

Please give me more signals. Economists can’t live without them.


Sayonara MacBook…

I have had a pleasure of using a Macbook Pro Retina (the latest model with 8 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD) for a few weeks.  But, she needs to go now.  That is because I decided to spend next few years with a Thinkpad T450s.  I purchased the Macbook and Thinkpad just before Christmas for $1,500 and $700, respectively.  I really ‘wanted’ to love my Macbook, but sadly, I am not in love.  The decision wasn’t difficult.  Yes, the screen is crisp, and the enclosure’s beauty is breath-taking.  However, I had no chemistry nor spark with her.  I waited weeks but the Macbook has never been more than just a piece of metal.

My first computer was a PowerMac 6420, which I purchased in Akihabara in 1997, and I owned a PowerBook G4 Ti 15″, PowerBook G4 Al 12″, and MacBook (Polycarbonate) before switching to Thinkpad Edge 13″.  I subsequently purchased a Thinkpad T420s; this was the guy who struggled through graduate school with me.  He endured my abuse in the process of writing a dissertation.  He had a few mechanical issues but he was mostly a dependable guy.  His sibling is now taking over his role.

Until 2009, I was a Macintosh user and I loved every machine that I owned.  I loved OS 9.  The operating system was clearly superior to Windows 95 or ME.  The user interface was clean and beautiful.  But today, El Capitan is disappointing; the user-interface is not interesting and not exciting.

Steve was so much more attractive than Bill back then.  But now, Satya is so much sexier than Tim.