My blog represents my personal experiences and perspectives. This includes many anecdotes from my medical practice. I have been scrupulous to anonymize these anecdotes and to avoid ever belittling or making fun of patients. (I often make fun of and criticize myself, my colleagues, and the institutions where I have worked.)

My selves

After I posted a comment in an online conversation I was told by someone I know well in real life: “That doesn’t sound like the Peter Elias I’ve worked and played with over the years.”  My response was the simple observation that most of us automatically use different ‘voices’ in different settings: we don’t use the same vocabulary or phrasing when addressing a work colleague, a grandparent, a state trooper, or a skiing buddy. Code switching is a current term for this.

Antisemitism is the wrong word

A Semite is any of the peoples who speak or spoke (or descended from people who spoke) a Semitic language. The Semitic languages (note the plural) are a sub-family of the Afro-Asiatic language family that includes Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Amharic.
The Semitic peoples, then, include Amharans, Arabs, Akkadians, Canaanites, some Ethiopians, Hebrews, Tigrayans.

Good conversations

It’s both possible and important to have good quality conversations with people with whom we disagree. There are some simple (but not easy) principles to keep in mind:


  • Be sure your goal is to connect and understand - and not to change minds.  Listen to learn, not to prepare a rebuttal. People understand and use words and phrases in very different ways. Don't assume you understand what the other person means: "I want to be sure we are both talking about the same thing. Could you help me understand what you mean when you say 'X'?"


An updated Covid risk calculus

Covid is still very much with us, and will remain a significant public health problem for the foreseeable future. However, the Covid landscape has changed substantially over the nearly 4 years since it arrived. I recently spent some time reviewing and updating my assessment of my risk and my process for deciding what I am comfortable doing.  

I will start with my understanding of my personal risks, which I divide into three categories: acute or short-term risks, chronic risk related to long Covid (PASC), and long-term risks from Covid’s impact on other disease processes.

Neighborhoods evolve.

In our local community, as in many others, there is active and often acrimonious debate about zoning. While everyone agrees that there is a severe shortage of available and affordable housing and that increasing the housing stock is essential, not everyone agrees that new housing should be created in the neighborhood where they live.

No, I am NOT a pessimist

Most of my family and many of my closest friends call me a pessimist. I disagree. I believe I am a pro-active optimist, someone whose default is that things will work out in the end - but not automatically. Only if we do our part to ensure success.

When I challenge their characterization of me as a pessimist, the response is generally along the lines of: “You always assume the worst possible thing will probably occur.”  But I am not assuming that at all.