James Brown was lying to me — I did not feel good. I scanned my playlists looking for some music with a slower tempo. It was quickly becoming apparent that I was not going to last long at 12,000 feet if I did not take my pace down a notch. I had barely sat down on the exercise bike when the little device clipped on my finger, a pulse oximeter, informed me that my oxygen saturation was at 80 percent and my heart rate shot up. Normal oxygen saturation is in the high 90s, and mine had been 99 percent…


I’m finding coffee splatters everywhere in my office. Custodial staff in the state office building only clean the break rooms and bathrooms, and I have spent at least part of most working days for the last 20 years in this room — but I was not prepared for the wide-ranging evidence of my caffeine habit.

There are spots on the desk and keyboard, which is not too surprising. But I’m embarrassed to uncover telltale brown splotches on the file cabinets nearest my chair, the closest wall, and the door. The stapler and tape dispenser are similarly scarred. If my office…


I remember my first day at a new job in Portland some 20 years ago. It was early August, and I had fled the heat of Atlanta to take a position closer to my family in California. My supervisor took a quick look over his shoulder as if to check if anyone else could hear us, then looked me in the eye and confided, “The next six weeks are really the best time of the year in the Northwest. If you want to take some vacation time, go ahead.”

Summer tends to be short in the Pacific Northwest, where we…

Ann Thomas

A pediatrician turned disease detective with growing concerns about the health of the planet.

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