Feet First

“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Wednesday, July 21, 2004
    One Tomato, Two Tomato

    Ever driven from Los Angeles to San Francisco? I did today. I took a few days' vacation and came up here to visit relatives. The most direct route, Interstate 5, runs up the center of the San Joaquin Valley through flat farmland. It is a long long drive, if you drive like me; those with lead feet can cover the distance in much less time. Under the best of conditions we're talking over five hours. 

    If you make this drive alone it is imperative that you find ways to entertain yourself (a.k.a. stay awake). About halfway through the trip I started noticing tomatoes at the side of the road. They were easy to see - little spots of red fluorescence against the asphalt. Obviously they'd fallen off one of the produce trucks.

    I decided to count them. First one, then another two fairly close to each other, then a gap, then another two (they seemed to come in pairs)... then we hit a rough patch of road and holy cow, there's a whole pyramid of them...

    I was coming up on a tractor trailer full of tomatoes. Ah, I thought, so it's his fault! Sloppy driver. But no, up ahead of him were yet more tomatoes on the side of the road. I had counted  more than eighty (not including the pyramid) by this time. I was beginning to feel sorry for the poor, split, crushed tomatoes left to rot by the side of the road. Suddenly I visualized an organization that would stand up for discarded produce: PETT (People for the Ethical Treatment of Tomatoes). Their slogan? "Why must the lycopenes suffer?"

    At that point I realized I needed to take a rest break.



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