Healthcare transparency

I feel uninformed and helpless when it comes to medical services. I guess I feel the same way about other things too, like getting work done on my car, but in that case I’m usually just risking paying too much money. I don’t mean to say that I think I’ve ever been taken advantage of from a mechanic or anyone else, but I don’t like not knowing.

I first started to feel uncomfortable about the way medical services are set up when I would go to the optometrist. Even though everyone was very nice and I didn’t doubt their medical competency, it also felt like I was getting a lot of sales pitches. Get a picture taken of your eyes for only $25! Get all sorts of fancy coatings on your lenses! Special glasses for computers! It’s a store. The same place, and often the same person, that examines the health of my eyes and provides medical advice also sells products to solve vision issues. It makes me really uncomfortable, and it’s one of those things that feels like it should be illegal. I would prefer to be evaluated by someone who gets paid the same amount for their medical opinion, regardless of whether their advice is to buy something or not.

There’s an interesting TED talk by Leana Wen (with a sensational title that I think is unfair to apply to all doctors) which talks about the idea of doctors being voluntarily more transparent about what their biases and conflicts of interest might be.

The end goal for me is to get the best advice, and I think that transparency is one tool that could help us to get there even before it’s illegal for my eye doctor to profit from selling me glasses instead of referring me to a laser eye surgeon or Warby Parker.

Halloween Costume 2014: Jim

This year, I made a game day decision to be Jim from the “Employee Transfer” episode of Season 5 of The Office (US version). I didn’t get the tie right, or the shirt, but I did go for the Jim smirk.

Wysz wearing a name tag that says Dave

While I knew it was an obscure costume, for some reason I thought that the authenticity of the name tag was really important. Gotta get that “D” just right:

Lots of name tags that say Dave on them

My dream was to have a conversation like this:

Who are you supposed to be?
Oh, I get it. so your name isn’t really Dave.
No, I’m Michael.
And for Halloween, you’re Dave.
No, for Halloween I’m Jim.

I did not win the costume contest, but someone did ask me if I was from Office Space.


Matt’s 30 day challenge for November is writing every day. I understand how this can be a challenge. I have a whole folder of drafts of blog posts that are about 80% complete. I worry too much about getting something super-polished, so what I usually end up with is some sense of an outline along with a bunch of random notes. Then I start to piece it together, but then I think of more stuff, I start to forget what the notes mean, and I abandon it. You know how Family Guy is full of cutaways to whatever random reference the creators can come up with? My brain is kind of like that. Everything reminds me of something else. It makes writing a focused post very challenging.

I’m not taking on the same challenge as Matt, but I’m trying to write more quickly and in a less-polished manner wherever I can, including in blog posts and emails, where I have an unfortunate habit of mulling things over indefinitely. Beah noted that Inbox lends itself to the faster types of emails that she’s also trying to send now. But that’s another tangent. In the spirit of writing quickly, here’s something that just happened to me.

I was in line at Office Depot buying something for my Halloween costume. The customer in front of me was surprised at the cost of printer ink. The black cartridge was $30 and the color was $60. She had a discussion with the cashier in which they were trying to figure out if the color cartridge was just one unit as the customer thought it was too big for her printer, which she noted was very inexpensive, like $20 inexpensive. I wanted to jump in and offer some unsolicited advice that she should consider buying a laser printer, and explain that yes, inkjet ink really is that expensive. A laser printer costs a little bit (but really not even a lot) more upfront, and the toner replacement isn’t any cheaper than ink, but it lasts a lot longer, doesn’t get clogged or evaporate, etc. I didn’t say anything. It felt weird that I had overheard their conversation, and I’m never sure how well unsolicited advice will be received. Instead of a challenge to write more, I should have one to speak up more. In many situations I do eventually speak up (though it often feels awkwardly late), and since I can’t immediately recall a bad experience, I suppose that it’s not all that risky. One recent conversation that I entered was at the Charlotte airport. Some passengers were wondering where Tri-Cities was, as they saw it on a sign above one of the gates. Of course my reaction was to simply Google it and get the answer, but that instinct doesn’t come so naturally to everyone. There are still people who leave questions unanswered, and, as I was reminded recently, ask for and give driving directions. I kept my knowledge of a regional airport in Tennessee to myself for about 10 excruciating minutes while the other passengers’ conversation kept revisiting where that airport might be. When I finally found a natural point for me to (pretend to) suddenly overhear them for the first time, I told them where it was. It turned out that we both had connections to the same town in Pennsylvania, and passed some time with pleasant conversation.


Today was a pretty good April Fools’ Day.

This morning, I received an email from my film professor who I had played a joke on nine years ago when I told him that I was quitting the film program to focus on pre-law. I haven’t spoken to him since graduation, and I don’t think we’ve even emailed, but today his one-line note was simply “I never forget.” That made me feel pretty good. I still have the voicemail that he left in 2005, and I don’t believe I’ve tried to play an April Fools’ Day joke on anyone since.

Tonight, my team got me. Someone from our team in Dublin is visiting, so we had decided that we were going to go out for dinner. As the workday ended, I asked where we were going. Knowing that I’m very particular (and some would say peculiar) about food, Eric told me that we’d be eating at a new Caribbean place that he had just discovered. I instantly got nervous. Trying new food is a scary thing for me. Of course the first thing that I wanted to know was if I would be able to find something to eat. I asked to see a menu. Eric informed me that the new location didn’t have a menu online yet, but the Palo Alto location did, and sent me a link. I started looking, trying to figure out what I would eat. I also asked why anyone would ever go to a restaurant that didn’t have its menu online. Why would one take that risk? I was told to check out Di Big Tings. Research indicated that there were few menu options that didn’t involve coconut, beans, or meat on bones—things that would cause me to avoid a dish. I looked at a bunch of photos of dishes and settled on Chicken Shrimp Pelau as a candidate for my dinner. When it was time to leave, I admitted to everyone, “I’m so nervous right now.” Eric offered to beam me the location of the restaurant, where we would all meet. I looked at the map, and started criticizing him for not linking directly to a place marker, and asked if the restaurant was even on Google Maps. He told me that they weren’t on Maps yet. This happens with new places, and I often add new restaurants to Google Maps via Map Maker. Before we left, I decided that we needed to add the restaurant to Google Maps. I fired up Map Maker, and asked where the restaurant was located. When Eric showed me on the map, I was very familiar with the location. It was right next to Sushi Tomi, one of my favorite places to get sushi. I thought it was strange that I hadn’t noticed the new restaurant there, as I had walked down that street just last night after eating at Sushi Tomi, but I could have easily ignored that building. Eric started to hesitate, and I got the sense that he might not know exactly where the restaurant was located. Not wanting to provide imprecise location data, I announced that I would add the restaurant to Maps after we ate. As we started to leave, and I forget exactly how this came up (maybe in the context of directions for our visitor), I mentioned that I had eaten at Sushi Tomi last night. Eric looked shocked and disappointed. I panicked, thinking that he had somehow expected to have been invited the night before, even though it was an impromptu dinner with the visitor after he asked for a recommendation of a sushi place after work. But then Eric told me that the joke was on me: the plan was to get me to the building next to Sushi Tomi, where there was no Caribbean restaurant that I needed to be worried about trying new food at, and then surprise me with a sushi dinner. I had no idea and was super-impressed. They really got me good, even down to how to pick a cuisine that was right in that zone where it was different enough to make me scared, but not scared so badly that I’d veto the option. Well-played. In the end, we decided that there’s nothing wrong with getting sushi two nights in a row, and headed to Sushi Tomi.

There were a lot of other good jokes on the Internet today that I’m about to catch up on, but here’s one that I did get to see: Google Translate on mobile Chrome translates English to Emoji.

screenshot of this blog with some words replaced by pictures

Update at 12:40 AM on April 2: And my favorite surprise of the day… there’s an update on, complete with a Webvan reference. I still make H*R references at work, and fewer and fewer people are able to understand me. Now, maybe things will change for the better. Props to the HR Wiki folks for keeping that going too.