Colons and hearts and lungs, oh MRI!

Here’s a brainstorm for the medical industry: Let “health care consumers” decide what tests they want and schedule them themselves. That’s the new philosophy at Open System Imaging, which recently began offering full-body scans, virtual colonoscopies and other medical imaging services to the public at large. You don’t need a doctor’s referral, but if you don’t play the insurance game, you do have to have the dollars—anywhere from $150 for the simplest scan to $1,800 for the most complete.

Bill Seals, an owner and director of business development for Open System Imaging, told the assembled crowd at the open house how easy it is, fully clothed and unsedated, to put your head on the flowered pillow and ease into the CT machine. Compared to traditional, invasive and claustrophobic procedures, Seals said, “you’ll walk out of here clicking your heels together.”

Right away, you get 3-D pictures of your internal organs (suitable for framing?) and—here’s the serious part—they just might detect the early stages of a deadly disease like colon or lung cancer. “Many of these diseases can be prevented and even cured if they’re detected early,” Seals said.

Letter man

The Chico postal people and historians are gearing up to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the downtown post office on Oct. 7, a Sunday.

I talked to Postmaster Clint Powell, who’s been at his job for eight years. He said postal service in Chico has come a long way since 1851, when there was a mail office “in a log store near the Bidwell Mansion.” In fact, John Bidwell himself was the town’s second postmaster—Alex Barber was the first, and Powell is the 23rd.

“Chico was one of the earliest post offices in California,” said Powell, who has a degree in U.S. history and loves this stuff. The downtown office, completed in 1916, is on the register of historic places and is not to be messed with.

KHSL-12’s “History Dude” Mike Hamilton will be there, along with local dignitaries like Mayor Dan Herbert.

Hello dollies

The little arts, crafts and collectibles enclave in the Almond Orchard Shopping Center has become even more so with the addition last month of Katherine’s Cottage shop, which carries dolls, bears, miniatures and gifts.

It’s been a long time since there’s been a shop of this nature in these parts, which is part of the reason owner Denise Van Patten decided to set up shop. She’s been selling dolls online for years and is the Internet consultant for Doll Reader magazine and runs’s Guide to Dolls. A couple of years ago, she and her husband—a Willows native—had their fill of Los Angeles and came up here to make a change from their careers as lawyers.

Van Patten decided to go for diversity in stocking her shop: There are antique dolls from the 1800s through 1970s as well as the popular modern doll lines, like Marie Osmond’s and Richard Simmons’ for grownups and Magic Attic and baby dolls for the children. There are also gifts for what Van Patten calls “the non-doll-inclined.”

"I was very interested in a mix," said Van Patten, whose grand opening last week was a big hit.