Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Local restaurant web sites

I don't know about the restaurants themselves, but I like their web sites:

Stephanie's on Newbury
Craigie On Main

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hot cocoa, the way it used to be

Dear Big Train,

I've been a huge fan of your hot cocoa, which used to be made with sugar, milk, and cocoa. I was extremely disappointed when you changed the ingredients to add maltodextrin, salt, carrageenan, natural flavor, guar gum, and xantham gum. Adding those ingredients means that many people with food allergies, including my wife, can no longer drink your hot cocoa.

When your ingredients list was simpler, I served your hot cocoa to friends, gave boxes of it away, and praised your product to anyone who would listen. I no longer do that, and I wish I could. I hope you'll consider going back to the simpler recipe, and I hope you'll let me know if and when you do, so that I can go back to buying cases of your hot cocoa.

P.S. I'm posting this here because your e-mail addresses won't accept this e-mail, claiming that it's spam. I'm hoping you have a Google Alert set for Big Train.

P.P.S. Does anyone know of a hot cocoa mix that is still made with just sugar, milk, and cocoa powder? I really liked having a hot cocoa that didn't require keeping milk on hand.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The New Yorker's mother dresses it funny

Actually, The New Yorker just smells bad. The fragrance strip ads are back, and their subscription department says they no longer honor subscriber requests to receive unscented issues. In fact, The New Yorker couldn’t even be bothered to tell subscribers who had standing requests to receive unscented issues that they would no longer honor those requests.

I’ve been a subscriber for a very long time. I read every issue, though I usually skip or skim the short story near the back. And I’m going to miss the magazine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Interactive Health Solutions guts a hippo HIPAA

From terms and conditions that are only revealed (and must be agreed to) after a patient has provided their name, address, phone number, e-mail address, birth date, and employer:

"I understand that the information attained through this Health Profile will be held confidentially. However, I give permission to Interactive Health Solutions to share my medical data with a third party for the purpose of my disease management and health improvement."

I'm confused: will the information be shared or not?

IHS says that the information will not be shared, but that they will only screen patients who agree to give permission for the information to be shared.

If IHS shares my medical data with a third party, are there any limits on what the third party does with my medical data?

There's no substantive limit on the reasons why IHS would be allowed to share my medical data. If IHS decides that the purpose of my health improvement would be best served by making my medical data public (to obtain as broad support as possible for my health improvement goals), or by giving my medical data to a drug company (so the drug company can contact me about wonderful new targeted drugs), or by giving my medical data to my employer (so my employer can revise their health insurance plan to better accommodate people with my health condition), or by giving my medical data to Geraldo Rivera (so Geraldo can focus an expose on getting me treatment), I've given permission for any or all of those disclosures.

Why is the first sentence there at all? As I understand it, my medical data won't be held confidentially at all. Employees are offered $300 to do this health screening if and only if they are willing to give Interactive Health Solutions permission to share their medical data with third parties.

This is making a mockery of HIPAA. And it's underpaying me for my medical data, which is currently getting bids of $500 and up on ebay.