It’s the 21st century, after all

Toyota and Pizza Hut are teaming up to make self-driving cars that could deliver pizza.

Toyota and Pizza Hut are teaming up to make pizza delivery more efficient, which could eventually lead to self-driving pizza cars. The companies announced the partnership on Monday.

“We are focused on technology-based solutions that enable our team members and drivers to deliver even better customer experiences,” Pizza Hut US president Artie Starrs said in a statement. “With Toyota, we are excited to be partnering with an undisputed leader in human mobility with a reputation for innovation, reliability and efficiency, as we define the pizza delivery experience of the future.”

Toyota revealed the e-Palette, an autonomous concept vehicle, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The car may one day be used by Pizza Hut to deliver and possibly cook pizzas. Toyota plans to start testing the vehicle as early as 2020.

Amazon Prime Music

Introducing Prime Music, the newest benefit of Amazon Prime membership.

In this handout photo released by Amazon Music shows Amazon new music streaming service for its Prime members, adding yet another freebie to the free-shipping plan ahead of the expected unveiling of its first smartphone next week. Starting Thursday, June 12, 2014, Inc. will offer more than a million tracks for streaming and downloading to its own Kindle Fire tablets as well as on its Amazon Music app for Apple and Android devices. People that pay $99-a-year for Prime can use the music for no extra cost. Amazon reached licensing deals with most of the top independent labels and major recording companies Sony and Warner Music, but failed to reach a deal with top-ranked Universal Music Group. (AP Photo/Amazon Music)

Amazon Music

How Being a Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession

H/t Johnny Johnston MD.

I don’t often read a Daily Beast article with which I totally agree, but this one struck a chord.

By the end of this year, it’s estimated that 300 physicians will commit suicide. While depression amongst physicians is not new—a few years back, it was named the second-most suicidal occupation—the level of sheer unhappiness amongst physicians is on the rise. [Not to mention the high incidence of alcoholism and drug addiction among physicians–admin]

Simply put, being a doctor has become a miserable and humiliating undertaking. Indeed, many doctors feel that America has declared war on physicians—and both physicians and patients are the losers.

I try not to be too negative about the profession, but the truth is I never encouraged my children to follow in Dad’s footsteps, and I am not disappointed that none of them did. Not all of us are radiologists or $21 million a year ophthalmologists (not to put down my “ology” friends; they made good career decisions). In my mind, the most important doctors in the front line of patient care are primary care physicians, the most poorly treated and most poorly paid in the profession.

My favorite line from the article: Given that primary care doctors do the work that no one else is willing to do, being a primary care physician is more like being a janitor—but without the social status or union protections.

It is no wonder that doctors are getting MBA’s so they can go into management, moving to a concierge practice model, or going all the way to a cash only practice. To cover overhead under the current system, primary care physicians must see more and more patients during their day, as well as dealing with insurance companies and other practice management problems, spending less and less time with their patients. The less time a doctor spends with his patient, the (justifiably) less satisfied the patient becomes, and now reimbursement is being tied to patient satisfaction. Ask your friendly emergency department physician about Press Ganey scores, and then cover your ears.

Okay, I have ranted long enough tonight, and thrown links all over the page. I am grateful to have a job doing something that I love, even if it didn’t work out like I expected 32 years ago. Take home message–have a little sympathy for your Mercedes (or Toyota) driving primary care doctor; his/her life may not be as ideal as you thought.

My friend and primary care physician, Thomas J. Bernard, MD. Thanks, Jeff

My friend and primary care physician, Thomas J. Bernard, MD. Thanks, Jeff is now an Amazon affiliate

I am now (thanks to Kevin) set up to be an Amazon affiliate. This means that if you click on the Amazon logo on this site, use the search widget in the sidebar (over there on the left), or click on a recommended item in a post, then make a purchase, I will get a few pennies from your purchase. It does not add to your purchase price.

I do not expect to get rich off this, but if there are enough pennies to buy a latte at Starbucks, it would be nice! Thanks, everyone, for your support.

More shale drilling coming to Louisiana soon?

Landowners here in northwest Louisiana have done well from development of the Haynesville shale formation. Haynesville is primarily a natural gas formation, however, and with the boom in supply and slow development of the liquified natural gas export market, drilling has slowed to a crawl.

The middle of the state may soon be getting into the drilling boom soon, with development of the Tuscaloosa Marine shale formation. This article was mostly about exploratory drilling in western Mississippi, but the formation extends all the way across the middle of Louisiana. Estimated to hold 7 billion barrels of light sweet crude, the formation could be as productive as Bakken or Eagle Ford.

Faster, please.


Gasoline from methane?

Chasing the Dream of Half-Price Gasoline from Natural Gas:

At a pilot plant in Menlo Park, California, a technician pours white pellets into a steel tube and then taps it with a wrench to make sure they settle together. He closes the tube, and oxygen and methane—the main ingredient of natural gas—flow in. Seconds later, water and ethylene, the world’s largest commodity chemical, flow out. Another simple step converts the ethylene into gasoline.

The white pellets are a catalyst developed by the Silicon Valley startup Siluria, which has raised $63.5 million in venture capital. If the catalysts work as well in a large, commercial scale plant as they do in tests, Siluria says, the company could produce gasoline from natural gas at about half the cost of making it from crude oil—at least at today’s cheap natural-gas prices.

Of course, this will take several years to get to the point of production in bulk, if at all. When it does come online, however, what will we do with all of the crude we are now producing? Current law prohibits crude exports from the United States (except to Canada), and we are rapidly approaching the refining limit of US refineries.

Without a change in the law, we will have gone from the world’s largest oil importer to a nation with a crude oil glut. Add in a cheaper source of gasoline than crude, and the price of crude may drop below the $80/bbl production cost.


How to knock off a designer bag

What do you do when pirates continually knock off your company’s luxury bag designs? If you’re Saddleback Leather, you hit YouTube and turn the design piracy of your “competitors” into a marketing tool that teaches consumers what they’re giving up when they buy off-brand.

By the way, you can find it here; my birthday is in September, so you have plenty of time.