Friday, November 03, 2006

Thank Heavens it's Friday

This has been a week of running from one event to the next. I'm glad it's Friday and I can breathe a little over the weekend. I just want to be still. Just for a little bit.

Monday was the governor's visit and Mark arrived for a visit. It was also the night for Chicks. Generally we go around the circle and share at Chicks but I never shared Monday night. I guess it was just the way it was meant to be.

Tuesday was the Dillon Lecture with David Franz. Mark went with me and then we went with Greg to Roy's for lunch as soon as Greg got back from Joplin. Of course it was Halloween night so I enjoyed handing out candy for the kiddies.

Wednesday I got up at 4:30 to do some things before the 7 a.m. Food for Thought series. I left there and went straight to leadership, then from that to dinner with Greg and Mark before Mark took off.

Thursday I had a physical scheduled. Amazing how you can feel fine and just going to the doctor makes you start thinking about all the things that could be wrong with you. I'll just hope I get a good report.

Today I had lunch with Trish and ran into one of my former board members who I really, really like. I also took time to go to a reception for Paul Morrison who's running for attorney general. I had nice chats with Randy McEwen and Kathie Moore, as well as saying hello to other folks. I visited with Joyce Morrison a little bit. I'm so optimistic that Paul Morrison will be our next AG. Otherwise I was focused on MHA things today - I had a ton of things to do and got most of them done, although I'm still working on a couple of them here at 9 p.m.

The big news from last night was that I found - quite by accident - my tickets for Garrison Keillor's speech in Lindsborg on Monday. I had ordered them some time ago and had called saying, "hey, I never got these." Well, last night I was working in my home office, rearranging things, because I put together some shelving to go into a wardrobe I have in here. I was sitting on the floor and reached over to pick up a catalog that had fallen off my desk - who knows how long ago. Anyway, I pick up the catalog and out falls this envelope from Bethany College. I guess the envelope got stuck in there in the mailbox and I never saw it. I'm so glad I found it last night instead of next week when we would have missed it.

So, Greg and I are going and I wrote a couple dozen people last night, asking if they were interested in the extra tickets. Two people responded, so they got the tickets. It occurred to me later that some people have their email set to not allow bcc, and I didn't want to expose everyone's email addresses, so some may never have gotten the message. But, that's the price of not controlling your email, I guess. And, fortunately, Jan and Marci were both interested so the tickets found good homes! I didn't want any of them to go to waste. You could order six at the most, so that's what I did. It should be an interesting evening.

Dr. David Franz at Dillon Lecture Series in Hutchinson Kansas

The Dillon Lecture Series on Tuesday, Oct. 31, was by David Franz. He's a bioterrorism expert who served on weapons inspection teams to Russia and Iraq. He's originally from Buhler, just outside of Hutchinson, so it was a homecoming for him.

He told us about being in Russia in early 1994 as part of a team working to hammer out an agreement. At one point the leader of the team turned to him and said, "Col. Franz, you and the Russian Colonel go and work out the wording on this section here. After all, it's only science." Franz said that they were able to agree in about 20 minutes, which they felt good about. It was a turning point for Franz because he realized that science could be a common language. And he has been thinking of it that way ever since.

Franz said he thinks the first time the US really thought about terrorism was the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He reminded us it was Oct. 2001 when the anthrax letters were sent. He said overnight the budget for bioterrorism went from the 1997 level of 137 Million to the 2001 level of 6 Billion. Overnight.

Franz joked about his role as an "expert." He was preparing for an interview with Mike Wallace on October 4, 2001. Wallace came in and said the story was breaking about someone in Florida being ill from breathing anthrax. Franz said his comment was, "No way. We haven't had a case of inhalation anthrax in the US since 1978."

He is also working with K-State to develop a major research facility there. Being a trained veternarian, he has a particular interest in animals. He said the biggest threat to Kansas is probably foot and mouth disease, which doesn't hurt humans, except economically. He said it's very easy to use and hard to trace - the problem with lots of these things and the reason five years later we don't know who sent the anthrax. He estimated the cost to Kansas of one foot and mouth disease outbreak would be $30-40 Billion.

He offered some really interesting figures from various research about how our stance on the world stage affects us. For example, in Indonesia, in 2003, support for the US was 23% and support for Bin Laden was 58%. After the tsunami and the US sent aid (albeit small), in 2005, support for the US rose to 40% and support for Bin Laden dropped to 23%.

Similarly, in Pakistan, in 2003 support for the US was at 23% and support for Bin Laden was at 51%. After we sent aid for the earthquake, support for the US rose to 46% and support for Bin Laden dropped to 33%. And 81% of those said the earthquake relief was important in their decision.

What does that mean? It means we could do a whole lot more for ourselves - and others - by sending aid. And it's far cheaper than war. It's far more effective in changing public opinion.

Franz ended his speech with an Edward R. Murrow quote, "It's the last three feet between people that count."