Saturday, August 28, 2004

Happy Birthday to the Blog and On Any Given Saturday

Hi Kari:

Can you believe it, this outpost on the internet is over one year old!!

The first post was a little over one year ago back in August 23 2003.

Today, I did the "uncle" thing and watched my 12-year-old nephew play in a local YMCA summer league. I hadn't had the chance to see him play in competition until today. I've shot hoops and played horse on a number of occasions with him but this was the first time I've seen him in an official game. And it was the championship game!

It was high drama as neither team could seize control of the game. A foul with 9 seconds on the clock put the opposing team on the line for two-shots. The kid missed the first but made the second giving them a one-point lead.

My nephew's team didn't have any time outs left so their star player received the inbound pass and took it upcourt and lofted a three-pointer with three seconds left on the clock...

Nothing but the bottom of the net!!!

The crowd goes wild including this forty-something uncle blogger.

Anyway, just thought I'd share that little slice of life from this part of the country. It is a little drama played out in small and big towns across America on any given Saturday in any of the 50 states in the USA. There is truly something magical about the excitment of competition, joy in seeing teams work together win or lose and a mixture of delight and anxiety of an uncertain outcome. It could be on the world stage like the Olympics where I'll root in front of the TV. It could be in a big league baseball stadium and I'll shout. And it could be in a local gym at the Y and I'll stand and cheer.

Perhaps this little blog post might tempt you to share some athletic stories from your youth in Western Rural Kansas? If I recall you were and still are quite the triple threat in sports (basketball, volleyball and softball).

I'm afraid I have very few dramatic stories as I was as I still am, a TOTAL nerd and non-athletic! I can only say I have found a home in back-of-the-pack marathoning as that race goes to the stubborn as opposed to the swift of foot.

But here is one little athletic story for your amusement... it was a hot summer day in my DC life when five late twenty-something and early thirty-something Asian guys were challenged by some hot dogging teenagers (I think one of them could almost dunk!) to a full-court 5-5 basketball game.

I'm happy to report, we beat them. It was a classic case of teamwork and defense beating athletic one-on-one players.

Take care and be good,

Friday, August 27, 2004

Administrivia and Olympics

Hey Kari:

Please note the envelope symbol next to the comments link at the bottom of posts. It is a new feature rolled out by blogger that allows readers to email a blog post to friends.

Have you been following the Olympic Games much?

I've only been paying attention sporadically.

Today, the Iraqi soccer team fell short for the bronze medal. Their run has certainly been one of the top feel good stories. Meanwhile, one of the feel miserable story of the games has to be the flop of Team USA's mens basketball. It is a sad day when US fans are rooting against their own team or are completely indifferent to them. To be honest, they didn't inspire much sympathy or support with the way they played and behaved. The contrast couldn't be greater: NBA multi-millionaires going through the motions vs. Iraqis playing their hearts out for pride and country and love of the game overcoming the odds.

Who would you root for? Who would anyone root for?

Another downer story is the controversy over gymnastics judging. I found myself feeling like it was a bad cold: just go away! I have no idea how to solve the current mess they find themselves in.

But I don't want to end this post on a complaining note. Instead, I'll keep in mind that an Afghan woman got to participate in the games, the Iraqi soccer team got to be in the spotlight and will go home to a warm welcome unlike what past teams faced, look of surprise on the American woman who finished third in the marathon and warm feeling watching the Moroccan win the 1500M and how happy he was and how happy everyone else was.

Have a nice weekend,

P.S. What do you think of the "starchitect" of the Athens games: Santiago Calatrava?

Saturday, August 21, 2004

African Marketplace Festival

Hey Kari:

One way to know what is happening around town is to drive around my neighborhood and look for the street banner ads.

And so I recently noted the appearance of them trumpeting the African Marketplace Festival.

It is an annual event. I went on Labor Day of 2003 and here are four photos from that fun day of trying food, browsing arts and crafts, talking with vendors and hanging out with Africano-phile friends.

Be well,

P.S. For those new to this blog, please feel free to go to Botswana Africa via my photojournal of that trip in 2003.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Public Speaking

Hey Kari:

Do you like public speaking?

As an introvert, public speaking isn't something I naturally gravitate to. Yet, I enjoy teaching and thus, public speaking. It is terrifying but fun at the same time.

Anyway, blogging will be non-existant for a handful of days as I prep for a public speaking engagement.

The talk is titled, "Explaining the Origins of Life: Evolution and Intelligent Design, Prospects and Problems."

I'll generate a pdf of the talk and have a link when I'm done.

UPDATE: Here is a link to a one-page pdf file outline of the talk.

I'll blog back later next week.


P.S. I got the bill from the ER from my SF episode. Can you guess how much it was? Click on the comments section to find out!

UPDATE: Here is a link to a one-page pdf file outline of the talk.

UPDATE: Well, I think the talk went reasonably well. I managed to cover all the material in a little over one hour followed by about half an hour of questions and discussion.

At times, I felt I was talking like an auctioneer on too much caffeine! People liked the video and DVD clips I interspersed into the talk and I liked the break they gave me from talking! I recommend Snap Pro for obtaining clips from DVDs for usage in presentations. I used Keynote instead of MS Power Point.

Professor Bainbridge marks some of his posts "Personal: relentless self-promtion" and so let me engage in some of that here with this offer: if your church or civic group would be interested in having a talk like this please feel free to contact me at rrblog_at_yahoo_dot_com.

Wal-Mart: love it or hate it?

Hello Kari:

How do Kansans feel about Wal-Mart?

As a left-coaster, I have little actual experience with Wal-Mart.

In fact, the first time I set foot in a Wal-Mart was in Winslow, Arizona in 1998.

I was there as part of a church group that ran five-days worth of Bible school for the local kids many of whom were Native Americans.

I was one of the staff "gophers." While the high schoolers actually ran the classes, crafts and games for the kids, I was the van driver, chef and handyman fixing things in the church we stayed in and ran the Bible school from. Whatever odds or ends that came up that had to get taken care of, I got to help take care of it.

We had our share of supply runs to the local market, hardware store and yes, the Wal-Mart.

I usually could find what we needed there at a good price and with good service with a small town smile. So my impression was pretty good.

As an LA resident, Wal-Mart is not around yet (and might not arrive) so I have no other experience with the famed stores. A search of the Wal-Mart store locator says there are 10 stores within 25 miles of where I live but I can't say I've been to any of them yet.

Wal-Mart was a huge retail success story but in recent years, Wal-Mart has come under fire.

A couple of days ago, I was reading the LA Times about the controversy over Wal-Mart Superstores attempting to locate in the area.

The LA City Council voted to require economic impact reports for big stores to locate in the city. Excerpt:

Under the ordinance, retailers wanting to build stores larger than 100,000 square feet that devote more than 10% of their sales floor to food and other nontaxable items would have to pay for an economic analysis. The report would forecast whether a proposed store would eliminate jobs, depress wages or harm neighborhood businesses in many parts of the city.

I read on and came across this comment in the article: Two years ago Councilmen Eric Garcetti and Ed Reyes proposed banning superstores in economically depressed areas of the city, but later scaled back their measure.

I read it with disbelief. Umm, so banning the superstores from economically depressed areas is supposed to help those economically depressed area? Is that the logic here? Beats me.

There is more: At the state level, Sen. Richard Alarcon, who is also running for mayor of Los Angeles, has introduced a proposal that would make reports similar to those in the city's ordinance mandatory statewide.

The sentiment against Wal-Mart is pretty strong I guess!

As someone somewhat of an economic libertarian, I'm rather stunned by the opposition to Wal-Mart. If they bring jobs to the area, then why not?

However, as someone who respects local control in governance, if a population in a locality wants to restrict growth or prevent certain types of businesses from opening, than that is their right. Afterall, a casino probably brings jobs and revenue to an area but if the citizens don't want that kind of crowd in their town, their concerns need to be heard and if the city council votes to keep them out, so be it.

I have a friend who lives in Sedona, Arizona. She tells me that it is the classic small town with great tourism options. Thus, there is an ongoing battle between long time residents who want to keep the small town feel and others in the town who want the economic development that more tourism would bring. The town does NOT have a Wal-Mart; one has to go a dozen miles or so to Cottonwood to get to a Wal-Mart.

The Sedonians also imposed this on McDonalds.

So yeah, local control can be odd but my political philosophy respects it even if I have to chuckle at it.

Anyway, all of this is to set up the question: how is Wal-Mart viewed in your neck of the woods?

Yours truly,

Monday, August 09, 2004

Odds and Ends

Hello Kari:

As I type up this blog post, the radio is on as my Angels are making a comeback against your Royals. A wild pitch just got the tying run over in the top of the ninth, 3-3.

Opps, two runs just scored on a throwing error to the plate on an infield grounder, Angels lead 5-3.


Dodger fans let out a collective sigh as the report on Penny's injury is minor.

I was at the game on Sunday which the Dodgers lost, 4-1. It was HOT(!!!) so I'm glad I chose the 3rd base side of the upper reserve as that side is shaded.

I saw one guy with a sign saying, "Trade Depodesta." There may have been more.

Suffice to say, he is in the frying pan with fans as the other big player he got was Finley who promptly got hurt though he should return in the next game. Choi isn't likely to be an everyday first baseman so callers to post-game Dodger talk have been whining about that too. Mayne is a serviceable catcher but nothing like crowd favorite LoDuca. There is concern about the bullpen as Dreifort isn't as dominating as Mota and he has a recovering hip which limits him to one inning.

I'm a Dodger fan first but I do keep an eye on the Angels too. And as an honest sports fan though, I have to say the Angel's prospects are more favorable in the playoffs as they seem to have a little more offense punch. The Dodgers have padded their record beating up on the relatively weak NL West. However, I'm still hoping that they will make the playoffs and make some noise; afterall, I'm a true blue fan.

Here are the latest numbers with the Angel numbers first and Dodger numbers second:
Runs 562 vs. 506 
Hits  1115  vs. 1010 
Home Runs  103 vs. 133 
Doubles  195 vs. 163 
Triples  25 vs. 22 
RBI 534 vs. 486
Stolen Bases 101 vs. 77

Dodger pitching is stronger in the stats compared to the Angels but the starting rotation is in flux and the bullpen got weaker with the trades. It will be interesting to see if the ERA numbers change significantly (currently Dodger's 3.81 vs. Angel's 4.33) as the season goes on.


Umm, it's a final, Angels 5 Royals 3.

I guess you are looking forward to Chiefs and KSU football!?


Thanks for sharing about your town's adventure in downtown arena building. Keep us all posted.

Interestingly enough, a few months ago I was talking with a guy who works for Gehry and he was telling me that one of the big projects they are working on is the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards which will be the new home of the Nets as well as a massive mixed-use development.

Here is an image of a model of what that arena will look like.

(image source:
(large file! very slow for non-broadband readers)

Think the Kansas Citians will go for proposals from Gehry's firm?


In today's mail, I got my first medical bill from my SF episode. The CT scan has two parts to the bill: diagnosis, $780.40; amount $187.00.

Is this like "parts and labor" at the auto shop?

Anyway, I'll be making phone calls to my insurance company and the imaging medical group tomorrow morning.

Okay, that is about it for tonight.

Be well,

A Gehry in KC?

Hi-De-Ho Rene,

Last week, Kansas City, Mo., voters approved a tax package for a $250 million downtown arena, to be built in collaboration with (native Kansan) Phil Anschutz's AEG, known to you as the majority owner of the Staples Center, the LA Kings, and 30 percent of the Lakers. In exchange for some additional cash from the local telecom giant, it will be called the Sprint Center.

With the promise of an NHL or NBA franchise coming to town, and despite (or thanks to) opposition from St. Louis-based Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the ballot issue passed with 58 percent of the vote. The goal is to have the arena open in 2007. But who will build it?

KC is home to three of the top sports architecture firms in the country. My favorite Major League ballpark, Camden Yards, was the first of many retro baseball stadiums built by one firm. Of the last 28 major arenas built in the United States, 24 were designed by one of the rival firms. In an unusual move, they have combined forces for this project to form the Downtown Arena Design Team.

But then there's Frank Gehry, who is poised to take on his first arena project. It appears that AEG is keen on Gehry, and local politicos could have a problem on their hands.

It may come down to a choice between a local sports architecture brain trust and a "once-in-a-lifetime" chance for the city to land an icon of starchitecture (gotta love that term from David Sucher's City Comforts blog). I'm not sure which kind of pride will win out: Local talent, or international attention for a local project. I'm guessing the former, which is probably a good thing. I would be very interested to see what kind of arena Gehry would build for $250 million, but I'm not so sure his current style -- from Walt Disney Hall, which you have reviewed for us, to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao -- could coexist with the rest of downtown KC.


Saturday, August 07, 2004

Other SF Memories

Hi Kari:

Prior to my "episode" I had a rather enjoyable time in SF. So here are some photos...


On Saturday afternoon, we dropped by the North Beach Jazz Festival.

How San Francisco, eh?

Hear and see the NBJF (QT-432KB)

Sunday morning for the 5AM start!

The start movie (QT-124KB)

Palace of Fine Art at mile 4

Taking a break with 3.1 miles to go.

Left turn to jog along the Pacific ocean.

The finish. Sloat and Great Highway is where the SF Zoo is. The clock timer is set for the 7AM starters! Add 2 hours for my clock time. My chip time was 3h14min.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Ever heard of "Labyrinthitis"?

Dear Kari:

On Sunday, the diagnosis was labyrinthitis. It came across the lips of the ER doc around 9pm or so.

Here is the story - if you are delicate of stomach you are warned!

I went up to San Francisco to participate in the SF Chronicle 1/2 marathon. I completed it in 3hr14min. I felt a little tired which isn't surprising for just having jogged 13.1 miles. Last year, you saw what I was like after doing the Kansas City 1/2 marathon, a little out of it but still quite able to do things. After cleaning up, you showed me some signature sites of Kansas City like the Negro League Baseball Museum and the Jazz Museum.

I was looking forward to a leisurely rest of the day in SF to be capped off with a visit to SBC Park where I had tickets to the game purchased through a "third-party" vendor. As a side note, I did hear about the drastic trades the Dodgers pulled off! Like most fans, I was stunned they would part with both LoDuca who is a huge crowd favorite and Mota the overpowering 8th inning set up guy. But I guess when you are in need of starting pitching you have to give something up.

Around 2:30 in the afternoon, I began to get sweaty and dizzy. Figuring it was probably dehydration, I took some fluids and rested. But I threw up. I continued to take fluids slowly for another couple of hours and rested but the symptoms didn't diminish and I threw up again. At this point, my cousin and I after talking to a doctor friend decided it was time for the ER.

UPDATE: I found out that dizzy is a common layperson's description of how they are feeling. It can have two meanings: (1) I feel dizzy and I am about to pass out or (2) I feel dizzy and I see the world spinning around. I experienced the second definition which is more precisely described as experiencing vertigo.

Upon arrival, I threw up several times and they carted me into the ER on a wheelchair. They did a quick BP, pulse rate and temperature on me. I am guessing my BP and pulse were up as I was somewhat anxious! I'm guessing my temperature was normal as I didn't have a raging infection. They did ask some questions: my age (41), any medication (10 mg/daily lipitor), was a I drinking Saturday night (no). I volunteered that I completed the 1/2 marathon Sunday morning. They carted me to an exam room and put me on a gurney and poked an IV with 1L normal saline into me with some anti-nausea medication.

At that point, I'm sure my priority score in the ER fell considerably.

Next door there was a couple and one of them was sick and eventually was released with a prescription for antibiotics.

Meanwhile, the doc asked if I had any chest pains. I said no. Perfectly reasonable question: forty-something male engages in strenuous physical activity while on anti-cholesterol meds, you got to think heart issues! Anyway, they hooked me up to an ECG. The tech ran the test and said, looks normal to me. Whew.

Next door, a new patient was wheeled in. I could figure out it was an elderly parent with two children (I'm being vague about details for privacy reasons). As the 2nd liter of IV was draining into me, I could hear the doctors talking to them. I imagined myself in their shoes hearing the news. It wasn't good. In fact, at one point the doctor plainly said, the patient might not survive another 24 hours. The doctor said, I feel I need to be upfront about the possibilities so there are no surprises.

I could only silently pray for these people I could hear but not see as my exam section had a curtain and they had one too. For me, I felt confident that in 24 hours I'd be much better. But being next door to someone who probably wouldn't made me feel very sad and I felt for the children. It may not be too long before I'm in their shoes as my parents are getting up in age.

I felt thankful for the technology and medical skill of the people around me. I also counted myself blessed that my life has been relatively free of health issues. I had every reason to believe I would feel "normal" soon enough.

After 2 liters of IV fluids you do need to use the bathroom. I went and the world started spinning around. The stupidest song started to play in my head, Fool on the Hill:

Day after day alone on the hill,
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still,
But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he's just a fool,
And he never gives an answer,
But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head,
See the world spinning around.
At this point, if I had simple dehydration, 2 liters ought to do it. So something else was amiss.

At this point, I mentioned to the doctor, you know while I was lying here I did notice a slight pressure in my left ear. On the scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being excruciating and 1 barely noticible it was probable 2 or 3. He looked inside the left. Looked in the right. Looked in the left. Then asked, did you have an upper respitory infection recently?

I said, yes, earlier in the week, I had a mild cold.

And you flew up to SF?

Yes, on Friday.

Hmmm, could be labyrinthitis. The flight with the pressure change could irritate the inner ear. I'm ordering a head CT just to be sure about other things.

In the meantime, one of the nurses did a bp check on me while I was lying down and while I was standing up and did one on my right side and left side. I'm guessing that is probably another check on the stroke angle? Any MDs out there who could confirm this?

UPDATE: I'm told that the resting versus standing blood pressure could be a way to check for internal bleeding. Any other ideas?

The stroke angle is of concern to me as I've had some relatives who died of strokes. But since the doc had already mentioned labyrinthitis, I wasn't too concerned about that option but it was on the table.

I was carted up for the head CT and then carted back down.

Results were negative and they "cut me loose" with prescriptions for meclizine and pseudoephedrine.

I was advised not fly as that could irritate my inner-ear and since a auto ride from northern California to Los Angeles is a 6-8 hour affair, I rested Monday and Tuesday before hitching a ride from a family friend who was coming down to Los Angeles on business on Wednesday. The trip went without incident and I hope to be "normal" in a few more days. I'm advised not to fly for at least a couple more weeks. Suffice to say, I'm not planning on it!

Take care,

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Pig-Uterus-Eating or Speechifying? No Contest.

Hi-De-Ho Rene,

Most pollsters of good repute are reporting a nil-to-negligible bounce for the Kerry-Edwards ticket after the Democratic National Convention, and some friends are pointing fingers at the TV networks. While motivated viewers could find gavel-to-gavel coverage on cable, the broadcast networks offered just one hour of prime-time coverage each night.

I was at the Republican National Convention in Philly four years ago. It was an incredible experience, and I would never trade the memory of it (even though it was often miserably hot and stuffy on the floor of the First Union Center). Still, the indelible impression from that convention was how precisely choreographed it was for television. The key messages were repeated at regular intervals, and the right faces were delivering them at the right time. It worked wonderfully well, but there was very little drama in it.

The Democrats’ convention this year seemed to take the choreography to a new level, and the result was a complete lack of drama. The only participant who appeared to stray from the precisely timed script was the Rev. Al Sharpton.

And we wonder why NBC would rather air a rerun of Fear Factor? As the conventions have become more and more media-savvy, the networks have become less and less interested. I would imagine that the first signs of network indifference led convention planners to be more precise: Knowing that they had a limited opportunity to reach the broadest audience, they wanted to make the most of it (and not miss a prime-time spot entirely, as McGovern did in ‘72). But now that precision has sucked the drama out of the conventions, how will they ever win back the networks -- or the viewers?