Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Travel risk is high

It's not just that airplanes have been disappearing, or shot down, or that the infectious disease Ebola is out of control in parts of Africa, or that Tel Aviv travel was suspended by major airlines when shelling came too close to the airport . Travel risk has always been an issue for corporations whose employees are spread round the globe.  In this morning's New York Times article, Joe Sharkey goes inside a gathering of corporate travel managers to better understand their concerns, including legal and ethical risks, given the last week or so of travel events.

If you're traveling on your own and don't have a corporate travel office to rely upon to filter out threats and make best recommendations, then your best bet is to go to the Department of State's website and read through the threat analysis they perform on countries you might visit. 

If you're just learning to travel, then the "On The Road" chapter of Advice From A Risk Detective will be of use.

No one wants you to stop traveling.  But we do want you to make safe choices at a time when many parts of the world are less stable than usual.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Happy Fifth Annivesary!

Here's a look back at my blog post from July of 2009, where it all started with the launch of ASA's website and a celebration.

 ASA Launch Photo Essay

As I mentioned yesterday, the launch party was a grand event. All design and details were handled by Lauren.

She persuaded photographer Weston Jandacka to come and shoot the first two hours of the party. These are all his photos.

Lauren and Leroy guarding a tray of chocolate dipped strawberries and Trader Joe's cashews.

ASA logo designer Jesse Brown looking over the website in a moment of quiet...

Mike Crandall and myself....

Another of Lauren's table arrangements...

Mike, Annie and Shelby Edwards.

From the left: Bruno Langevin, Bo Hok Cline, Julie Hillers, Annie and Karen Pierce, right foreground. Al Wilson is in the background.

Shelby Edwards and Fred Pursell.

Greg Harp greets former colleague, Kris Jorgensen.

The First and Union web team....Sherry Stripling, Rick New, and Molly Martin.

Annie and visual artist/architect Bo Hok Cline.

There are always folks in the courtyard, near the food and drink.

Left to right: Molly Martin, Eric Holdeman, Al Wilson, Annie.

Greg Harp, Kris Jorgensen, Steve Hankel, who drove up from Portland.

Susan Hildebrand Stringer.

Al Wilson and Greg Harp.

Jan Reynolds.

Me and my former boss, Deb Horvath, who is always there to support me.

Here are the co-conspirators looking a little punchy: Annie and Lauren, who has made this launch and my summer a truly memorable experience.

Last but by no means least. Tracey Graham. one of my former team, now leading the Washington state financial coalition. She presented me with a three legged frog who has coins in his mouth for good fortune. When we are in the office, the frog looks out the door. When we leave, we face the frog into the office, so as to maintain our good fortune.

It is a pleasure to have friends and colleagues such as those pictured above, especially when you have known many of them through various cycles of their lives.

For a few more thoughts on what we have accomplished this first five years, and how things are about to evolve next month, please take a look at my personal blog, "A Walker's Journal."

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What technology hath wrought....

Last quarter, I received an excellent paper on the risks around robotic surgery.   This morning, I opened my TED summary to find a TED talk about a new and improved trochar, designed by an engineer.  And when I opened the   the Financial Times later this morning, I found "Wear Your Medicine," on new digital tools for those with medical conditions.

We view much of what medicine has to offer with increased trepidation over cost, over whether or not a procedure or medicine is actually necessary, and with suspicion that is a result of having seen too many revisions on instructions on what is or is not good for your health.  As technology has more of an impact on the medical profession and on healthcare in general, costs appear to be rising, not decreasing.

The most egregious example of course is the layers of bureaucracy and incompetence among schedulers for the Veterans Administration.  It's not just that it's difficult to get an appointment.  The computer platforms are  outdated and interconnections with other relevant databases -- like military medical record history -- seem to be painfully slow or non-existent.  Both the military and the Veterans Administration have the same challenges as private hospitals in bringing what were formerly paper records online.

The moral of this reflection is that what technology hath wrought is often peril rather than streamlined ease of use, whether it's in large databases, surgical suites, Google Glass, or even smart contact lenses for diabetics.