Author: Kate Campbell (page 2 of 18)

Chance Encounters of the Visual Kind

Lynn O’Neal, retired opthamologist and charter member of Lawrence Central Rotary, told a story of a chance encounter with fascinating “small world” coincidences attached to it.  

The story begins with Lynn’s Navy ROTC scholarship to medical school.  After twelves years of active duty and four years in the reserves, he was eager to meet old friends at the 2015 Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, PA.  While exploring the city, he and his wife Debbie happened to stumble upon the Barnes Foundation, a private collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern art.

Intrigued by the fact that the collection was little known, Lynn did some research and discovered that the art was acquired in Europe during the Depression by a Dr. Albert C. Barnes of Philadelphia (1872-1951).  Trained as a doctor, Barnes pursued chemistry as it applied to the practice of medicine.  In fact, Barnes’ wealth came from a drug he developed called Argyrol, an antiseptic which is used in the treatment of ophthalmic infections and to prevent newborn infant blindness.  It was a treatment that Lynn prescribed often in his opthamological practice. (That’s the “small world” part of the story.)

Barnes formed A.C. Barnes Company and registered the trademark for Argyrol, selling the company just days before the stock market crash in 1929.  He spent his wealth purchasing fine art throughout his lifetime. 

Philadelphia’s art intelligentia declared Barnes’ collection to be too avant-garde when he shared it with the public in 1923.  As a result, Barnes maintained a long-lasting and well-publicized antagonism toward those he considered part of the art establishment.  There are over 4,000 objects in the Barnes collection.  The works are not hung traditionally, a fact that generates ongoing criticism.

Revitalizing Resources for Seniors

Megan Poindexter is Executive Director of Senior Resource Center of Douglas County

Megan Poindexter, Executive Director of Senior Resource Center of Douglas County (SRC), is excited about the renovation project underway at 745 Vermont Street, a building that the Center has shared with Fire Station #1 since 1979.  She expects the changes to be completed in the next few weeks after a two-and-a-half-year wait.  The agency plans a “Big Reveal” homecoming fundraiser on September 14 with a ribbon cutting and EXPO scheduled soon afterward.

SCR, a rebranding of the former Douglas County Senior Services, provides both tangible and intangible services to county residents.  Typically, Poindexter explains, a person will call SCR with a particular problem or question.  A consultant on staff works with each caller to identify the multiple layers of need and recommend information and referrals that will help.

Tangible services delivered through SRC include the Energy Utility Fund and coaching about Medicare and Medicare Supplement enrollment.  Although transportation services are a major expense for the agency, the vehicles and drivers that SCR manages are vital to those who are unable to get to medical and other appointments without such support. 

Since social interaction is key to well-being for seniors, the Center provides a number of activities for people in that age group.  Events, classes, and groups will meet regularly in the new space once the move back to Vermont Street is completed.  Those opportunities take place in partnership with Osher Lifelong Learning, Lawrence Parks and Recreation, the Lawrence Arts Center, and Just Foods, among others.  

Sixty-five percent of SRC funding comes from Douglas County grants.  State money, private donors, and fees also support the agency.  



Counting Carefully

Xan Wedel spoke to Rotarians about the upcoming United States Census.  The Constitution mandates that there be a count of all who reside in the United States every ten years. 

The count will take place on April 1, 2020.  Beginning in March 2020, households will receive a postcard with instructions. Each household will be asked to complete ten simple questions.  

Power, money, and infrastructure in Ameria are all impacted by the results of the Census.  The count determines how many people each state may send to Congress to represent the state in the House of Representatives.  Many federal and state dollars are allocated according to census data, so under-counting can be costly.  And because localities use data as they plan infrastructure improvements, an accurate census can determine the placement of a new grocery store or the priorities for which roads and bridges to repair.

Traditionally, people respond to the census using a paper form, by contacting a call center, or by responding to a Census enumerator in person.  For the upcoming census, they may also respond online.  The Census will NOT call or email people.  

Of the 248 census offices that will open in the United States, two will be in Kansas–one in Kansas City Kansas and one in Wichita.

Xan is Senior Research Data Engineer at the Institute for Policy & Social Research (IPSR) at the University of Kansas where she “plays with data every day.”  IPSR is a faculty-driven research center supporting social scientists who focus on social problems and policy-relevant questions. 

Xan has been with the Institute since 1999.  Among other responsibilites, she leads the Kansas State Data Center (SDC). The SDC Program is one of the U.S. Census Bureau’s longest and most successful partnerships. 



Basketball at the Berlin Olympics

Hughes book tells the story of the US Olympic Gold Medal in basketball

AAU players from the McPherson  Refiners, KS, and the Universals, CA, formed a basketball team that won Olympic gold in Berlin in 1936.  The United States team beat Canada, 19-8, in the championship game played outdoors in pouring rain on a muddy tennis court surface. Dr. James Naismith was there to present the medal.

Rich Hughes tells the story in his book Netting Out Basketball 1936.

Now often referred to as the Hitler Olympics, the 1936 games were the first time that basketball was recognized as an Olympic sport. It was the year that Jesse Owens raced to gold.

In 1936, fast breaking offenses, dunking the ball, and full court zone pressure were important new techniques that radically changed the game.  Post-season college tournaments were invented as well–necessary in order to identify recruits to play for the U.S. Olympic team. Tryouts for the Olympic team took place in Madison Square Garden.  Five college teams, two AAU teams (the McPherson Refiners and the Universals), and a YMCA team from Pennsylvania participated.


Anatomy of a Crisis

The opioid crisis became personal for Tom Coleman when he took his elderly mother to see a new doctor. On reviewing her list of current medication the doctor expressed alarm at the number of high dosage potent drugs she was taking. Coleman was motivated by this experience to learn more about the opioid crisis.

Coleman is a graduate of Washburn University and a retired federal contracting officer, working primarily on military construction projects. He decided to apply his skills to researching the problem. What he learned was appalling: in 2016 there were 53,000 overdose deaths due to opioids, and the price tag on misuse had reached eighty billion dollars.

The trouble started when opioid use for cancer patients was expanded to treat any kind of chronic pain. Unprecedented advertising and financial incentives to regulators and doctors drove opioid prescription rates to increase ten times in the next decade. The Sackler family and Purdue Pharma were making billions. They lied about the threat of addiction and served up deceptive studies and research to increase sales. Opioids proved to be highly addictive and subject to serious abuse. Some users crushed pills and snorted them, others turned to heroin.

Meanwhile, the Sackler family made huge gifts to museums, universities and other entities. A pattern of nefarious actions on their part have now been exposed and state governments are suing to recover damages incurred by the crisis.

Unfortunately, while many pill mills have been shut down and unscrupulous doctors have been put out of business, the abuse and damages continue. Tom Coleman urges every one to be informed consumers when the seek relief for pain.

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