Friday, March 27, 2015

Bigfoot Spotted Near Durango

This article appeared in a recent edition of the Durango Herald, which spawned a discussion on Facebook about an earlier version of Bigfoot sightings in the area.

Here's the story of the Durango Bigfoot that came along a few years before this recent sighting.

In 1977 or so, Herb Newbold and I climbed up into the big cottonwood tree at Cottonwood Campground on Lightner Creek and stole the fake, stuffed gorilla that was sitting on one of the branches. We had to attempt the caper twice, because we didn't realize on the first attempt that the gorilla was chained and locked to the tree. So we came back the second night with bolt cutters from Herb's Dad's shop and climbed back up the tree with those-- that wasn't easy. We cut the gorilla out and gave him back his freedom. The gorilla was stuffed with pillows, but the feet were filled with concrete-- we didn't know that-- and when we cut him free, he plummeted to the top of a metal picnic table, making quite the racket as everyone was trying to sleep in their campers. The lights came on and the dogs started barking... and we ran down the road carrying our prized and mostly limp gorilla. By the way, we didn't really consider it "stealing" since the campground and gorilla belonged to a member of Newbold's family. That's called rationalized truth. :-)

Newbold would get dressed up in the suit, wearing a football uniform and shoulder pads underneath for bulk, and I would drive him up in the woods and drop him off, usually on Test Track or behind Perrins Peak. Then I would go back to town and pick up the unsuspecting victims and ask them if they wanted to go offroading in my Jeep CJ5, a very popular ride among teenagers in the mountains of Durango, Colorado. Sometimes I'd have the cloth top folded down, which would make for even better theatrics, as the victims were entirely exposed to the Bigfoot monster that was about to set upon them. I would drive back up to the woods where Newbold was waiting and he would jump out, run in front of the headlights and make a crazed Bigfoot scene with growls and roars and flailing arms, then run off into the woods again. I would swerve back and forth and do my part for an Academy Award, and drive past in a panic of dust. The unsuspecting victims were, 100% FREAKED OUT. Uncontrolled, blood curdling screams were the norm. After adding to their freak out with my fake freak out ("Did you see its fangs?!?!"), I would turn the Jeep around-- "We have to escape and get back to town!!" Taking a chapter from all horror movies, the Jeep would occasionally and coincidentally lose power and lights, and there we were, sitting in the dark, helpless lambs to the monster, cranking the engine to no avail. Then Newbold would jump from the woods and repeat the scene and the screaming would start all over again. One of the victims, Eileen Mahoney, screamed, "Just run it f****g over!!!"... but I thought that might be taking the acting a little too far. Everyone that we took along for a ride, fell for it-- hook, line, and sinker. Steve Janes and Paul Harmon called the sheriff's office when we got back to town and the next morning, they showed up at my parent's doorstep, armed with rifles, ready to go back and hunt the beast. They were aghast when I told them that I couldn't go because I had to mow the lawn. Mowing the lawn vs. hunting Bigfoot seemed like an easy choice to them. We probably scared 20-30 people, total. We made the police blotter, which we considered a major coup, as well.

The gorilla suit spent its last days in Mom and Dad's attic.  Or at least I thought it did until now. :)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Eleven Habits of Passionate People

Most of this blog and much of the inspiration originally appeared in LifeHack, one of my favorite web sites, written by Sarah Hansen, one of my favorite writers. I made a few edits and added one more entry-- passionate people have a sense of humor.

There are a number of clinical studies in the field of neuroplasticity that prove beyond a doubt that the brain is malleable-- it can change and adapt throughout our lives and that our thoughts and emotions function as a feedback loop to that plasticity. For most of us, our thoughts are within our control and what we think has a physical effect on the structure and function of our brains.  Even more amazing, there is a growing body of evidence that our thoughts can also affect gene expression.

If you lack passion in your life, and you would like to have more, you CAN have more. All you need to do is change your thinking, change your attitude, nurture these habits and the passion will follow.

Of course, the opposite is true, too. The choice is ours. But is what kind of choice is it? To lead an engaged life, with passion for the beauty that constantly surrounds us, not ignoring the ugliness that also surrounds us, but rather working determinedly to eliminate it... or not.

I don't claim to live up to these principles of passion, but I try and will keep trying until they put me in ground, kicking and screaming. One thing's for sure...It's really hard to live a passionate life if you're surrounded by those who aren't interested in the same. It's like playing tennis with somebody who never returns a volley, unless it comes straight at them and they don't have to run. Passion begets passion. I'm so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by family and friends who choose to live a passionate life. Thank you so much for returning the volley.

0.  Passionate people have a sense of humor.

Laughter is a great source of creativity and passionate people are naturally creative. Laughing when times are good is easy. Laughing when times are stressful is not, but passionate people will always find a way to see the humorous side of life. Above all, passionate people have the ability to laugh at themselves and the silliness of their shortcomings and mistakes, rather than be being defensive and regretful. They move forward and bring others with them in the wake of laughter.

1. Passionate people are doers.

While passionate people often enjoy talking a mile a minute about what excites them, they back up their claims with action. Bring on the blood, sweat, and tears! The devoted will do whatever it takes to accomplish their dreams.

2. Passionate people are excited.

Passion is contagious! It’s hard to be around a fiery person and not get swept away in their excitement, even if it’s about something that you never thought could interest you. Passionate people live every day with the anticipation of great things.

3. Passionate people are courageous.

“Chase your passion, not your pension.” – Denis Waitley

Passionate people are willing to do anything to get the job done. They face their fears head-on because they are committed to eliminate anything that holds them back from what they most desire.

4. Passionate people are positive.

Passionate people often don’t hang out with negative people. They come to value positivity in themselves and others, and don’t have time to entertain failure long. They have the ability to bounce back from setbacks quickly without losing enthusiasm. After all, they didn’t really fail, they just learned one more way to avoid attempting their mission. They still have thousands of attempts still untested.

5. Passionate people strive to be their best.

People with passion always want to offer their best to the world. They can be slightly perfectionist in their thinking, but it’s only because they see their output as a direct reflection of them. If they place their personal stamp upon it, it will be infiltrated with their essence.

6. Passionate people are motivating.

Need help getting started with a new project? Find a passionate person to get you off the couch! Passionate people are great coaches and motivators. They often care deeply for others and do everything they can to help them succeed.

7. Passionate people are happy.

Most passionate people who follow their life longings are happy and fulfilled individuals. They focus on their blessings and give back to others. They are glass-half-full people who choose to enjoy making lemonade with the lemons life throws at them.

8. Passionate people are accountable.

One of the best bits of advice I’ve ever received was that passion was a powerful driving force that must be channeled. If left unchecked, it could cause an explosion causing great destruction. However, if properly utilized, the same fire that once ruined could also be captured to power a steam engine for positive change. Passionate people learn to have others hold them accountable to channel their energy in the best possible way.

9. Passionate people are focused.

“Skill is the unified force of experience, intellect, and passion in their operation.” – John Ruskin

Passionate people know they have a job to do, and they do it with gusto. They run in the rain. They smile through the most menial tasks. No matter what distractions life throws their way, they remain laser-focused on their final objective. They don’t take easy detours, but plow in at full speed. The driving force within them won’t let them lose sight of the end goal.

10. Passionate people love to grow.

Passionate people never stagnate in the pool of despair, feeling they are finished. They always look for ways to improve upon themselves and their surroundings. Passionate people keep their childlike wonder about life. They are always learning, always growing, always experiencing new things. They squeeze every last drop out of life that they possibly can!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cost Reduction & Clinical Quality Improvement: Where Do You Get Started?

Below is a diagram with real data from a real healthcare system in the US, that shows the top clinical processes in terms of cost. The results are almost identical, across Health Catalyst clients. The notion with this data is, if you are trying to organize yourselves around a cost reduction and clinical improvement strategy, it’s probably a good idea to choose the top 3 or 4 of these to get started in the first year, then simply work your way through the list after that. It’s the same basic problem solving framework that the FAA uses in the United States for steadily improving airline safety and reliability.

The unique aspect of this data is that it combines inpatient and outpatient data into one perspective. In the past at Intermountain, we looked at inpatient and outpatient care processes as separate processes, and we called them Clinical Programs. Also, we didn’t have an effective algorithm for grouping these inpatient and outpatient data sets into a single view of the patient care process. That approach was definitely effective, but this new perspective is based on the availability of new data, mashed together with new grouping algorithms, plus the evolution of our awareness about how best to optimize the delivery of care, with the goal of extending inpatient/outpatient concepts into true population health in the community— that is, the outpatient experience will eventually include the socio-economic data environment of the patient.

This diagram is a reflection of work at Health Catalyst over the last three years. Dr. David Burton, who hired and partnered with Dr. Brent James on Intermountain's Clinical Programs, is the brainpower behind these new inpatient/outpatient grouping algorithms.

Nuclear and Healthcare Decision Making

Nuclear warfare operations was my data-driven decision making environment before the healthcare phase of my career. It was all about recogni...