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That Cough That Won’t Go Away

Last winter and early spring (before COVID-19), my office received many calls from patients complaining about a cough that just wouldn’t go away. There was an upper respiratory virus going around that caused people to feel sick for weeks. Many asked for more antibiotics, which wouldn’t have helped. Eventually it subsided. Sometimes, however, a cough may last for many months, even years. The term for this is refractory chronic cough (RCC). Today I would like to discuss the causes, work-up, and treatment of RCC. The most common causes of RCC are the use of an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor,...

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Sock Pockets

I’m as happy to hear of someone else’s solution to one of life’s little annoyances as I have yet to have my own private light bulb go off in my head. So this week, I bow my head in gratitude to Domenica Loffreno, for her simple, innovative idea that could enhance the active lifestyle of most people I know. Sock pockets.  It’s as  beautiful to the ear as it is fatal to the problem it solves. Sew a pocket onto the side of a pair of socks and you’ve got a runner’s wallet, a place for a kid’s movie money, a credit card repository. A spot for your license and money when running out to grab...

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Detachable Fuel Tanks   

I know what you’ll be doing this weekend. Or at least I know what you THINK you’ll be doing this weekend.  As the warm weather finally breaks, you THINK you will be heading out into the great outdoors to catch up on all the yardwork that’s been accumulating since late fall (and that includes finally taking in the plastic pumpkins that the neighbors have been ridiculing since New Year’s Day). You’ll drag out the rake and give a quick pass over all the detritus that somehow has nested on your lawn over the winter (including that missing copy of The Rockaway Times from March 23).  You will be ambitious...

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Idea Day Is An Idea

Sharing ideas is what we do. And, of course, sometimes we share pretty useless stuff, but sometimes we share some gems–great ideas that we’re just too lazy to pursue. We don’t think such sharing should be limited to a newspaper column. We’d like to propose Idea Day in schools. In advance of such a day, teachers and club moderators could talk about ideas and collaboration, and how great things come to be. And they could start to plan an Idea Day at which students could present ideas and maybe get to work on some of them. It could be a schoolwide day of fun an innovation. Good ideas have...

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Idea Soup

Some creative morsels for you to savor, or not! Spherical tortilla chips with guacamole in the middle. For Penn and Teller’s last trick before they retire, Teller should make Penn mute and then start talking. Make Nigeria a tax-free haven to attract big businesses and see them struggle to be taken seriously. NBA players mic’d up. Since people already “identify” as different genders, why not identify as a different nationality? Take a fast-talking auctioneer and a decent rap artist and have them learn each other’s skill for a month. After a month have the rapper...

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Hot Water Tank Monitor

I’m sure it says something about me that most of my ideas have to do with improving life in the bathroom, but that’s a column for another day. Today, we will try to navigate the uncertain limitations of the household hot water tank. The problem? Running out of hot water. The fact is, in a contemporary household populated by two adults and three teenagers, the politics of bathroom usage can get pretty ugly.  One of the most commonly asked questions in our house is “what the (heck) are they doing in there for so long?” That query is usually followed by the through-the-bathroom-door declaration,...

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Idea Casserole

Here are some more ideas we cooked up for you. And most are dumb! Maybe robots taking over the world isn’t the worst thing. Have a building where the elevators are fixed, and pressing a floor button moves the entire building to the floor you want to go to Add beer to nicotine, and smoke it, or drink it. Americans can give up their vote in exchange for a free Big Mac every election. Make a bacon-flavored tooth paste to encourage people to brush their teeth. Commit crimes, but have a friend videotaping from a distance, so if anything goes wrong you can pretend it’s just a YouTube prank. Open...

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Amazon Box Return

Who doesn’t love Amazon?  Virtually anything your heart desires is merely a click away from being delivered to your front door. If there’s anything better than Amazon Prime, I haven’t figured it out. For about $100 per year, you get free shipping on most purchases, and unlimited access to Amazon Prime movies and TV series.  Subscribe & Save means I never have to remember to buy toilet paper, tooth brushes, K cups or deodorant again.  Amazon remembers for me, and they appear magically on a bimonthly basis.  For mall averse guys like me, the whole notion of shopping while sitting is like heaven...

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Idea Stew

Some more ideas for your noodling pleasure… In the wintertime instead of kids having lemonade stands, they should have traveling hot cocoa sleds. Cords for headphones should have a small layer of the same magnets inserted, so they repel the rest of the cord and do not get tangled. Require all new politicians to pass an IQ test to prove they are smarter than 70 percent of the population. Update current patent law to allow open access to all patents, but charge a per unit licensing fee that is deposited into an account that pays the inventor and their heirs, etc., for as long as the patent generates...

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