Monday, May 21, 2007

Blink. Life happens.

I’ve been remiss. I had to prepare and give a speech and write a final paper for my Oral Communications class and, probably more enervating, at the community college where I work, the president was fired and my boss was selected to take his place.

[How does that commercial go? “Life comes at you fast.”]

Anyway, she’ll move on without me. The secretaries stay with the job, not the boss. This is not altogether a bad thing; I’d have to buy a wardrobe of highfalutin duds. And as Thoreau put it, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”

Have you read Blink? It’s a fascinating and delightful exploration of making snap judgments (and why, more often than not, folks are on the money when they do). The author puts forth some jaw-dropping contentions on topics as diverse as war gaming (his war gaming anecdote may forever change -- or reinforce -- your views on US Army strategies in the Mid-East) or why upper-middle class blacks usually pay more than whites when buying a new car, or how we might retrain our police in dealing with intense life and death situations and vastly increase the odds of everyone coming out alive.

The author is Malcolm Gladwell, a staff writer for The New Yorker. He also had a monster big seller a couple of years back called The Tipping Point where he analyzes what three incidental details or people, will cause a book or television show or product or even historical action to gain epidemic or even legendary prominence. Paul Revere’s ride is his first example. Did you know there was another rider heading the opposite direction from Revere that same night, giving out the same warning? Have you ever heard of him? Me neither.

When I was at the eye doc’s I picked up a pamphlet in the waiting area on “floaters,” those annoying bits of flotsam that wander across your vision and tend to hover right where you are trying to look. The pamphlet didn’t give any clue as to what happens to floaters so I asked the medical assistant, “How do you get rid of floaters?”

“You don’t want to know,” she answered.

Well, actually, I did. I’d had lots of floaters as a kid, but they seemed to have gone away or, as suggested in the pamphlet, I’d simply gotten used to them. But about six months previously, I was driving to work when this Lincoln Log suddenly lumbered out of nowhere and lodged directly across the center of my right eye. Whoa. I blinked and rubbed and tilted and shook my head, but the tree limb was there to stay.

It’s been a very long year, but it has disintegrated to one smallish spot, but one that still manages to lodge right where I’m looking.

One of the resources I consulted suggested naming the floaters to keep track of them and see if there are any major changes in the number or frequency of their appearance. This guy is Elvis.

Apparently the older we get, the greater the incidence of floaters as a result of degenerative changes in the vitreous humor. (Youthful floaters are caused by embryonic cell debris that eventually settles out of sight.) And other than naming them there have been few genuine options for floaters developed over time.

Until now.

The Arizona Republic recently ran a long article about Dr. John Karickoff of Falls Church, Virginia. Apparently Dr. Karickoff is the sole (legitimate) practitioner in the United States of a treatment that gets rid of floaters. He uses lasers to demolish them during an in-office procedure that takes from 5 to 30 minutes. According to his web site, there are no side affects, no lingering consequences, and insurance often will pay associated costs although Medicare reimbursements fall far short of the approximately $1500 bucks per eye the good doctor charges. Blink.

Today’s pic is one of ten that the Hubble Spacecraft team chose as their favorites from all the thousands of photos of the universe sent back to earth from the esteemed spacecraft. These are astounding photos, really, but still don’t do the universe justice!

I’m off to visit Mom this week. I’ll let you know how that old broad is doing. She’s my inspiration.

E-ya later!

Link to Dr. Karickoff (

Link to Hubble photos


  1. Leslie the PiousMay 22, 2007 at 8:31 AM

    Hi Auntie Rose: I've been off doing the grandma thing. This is my first - such fun! My favorite section of "Blink" is The Theory of Mind Reading (p 197)It details the research on facial expressions and how we read the true intent of someone by reading facial muscle contractions. I enjoyed Blink more than The Tipping Point - it seemed more relevant to me.

  2. Hi, Leslie.

    I read Blink on my lunch hour over a period of about 4 or 5 weeks. I savored it as much as the food. Gladwell is a wonderful writer.

    PS I believe I read Blink at your recommendation. Thanks!