Kevin Warnock

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Archive for January, 2012

Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show in Stockton, California – January 28, 2012

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Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

I attended my first chicken show on Saturday, January 28, 2012.

The annual winter show was put on by the Pacific Poultry Breeders Association.

I bought my first almost show chicken at this event. It is an almost show chicken because it was in the barn where the runners up to the main ‘beauty pageant’ were displayed.

I paid a whopping USD $40.00 for the chicken I brought home. That’s a lot because at Western Farm Center in Santa Rosa, California, where I buy organic feed, you can buy a perfectly attractive chicken, fully grown, for USD $14.00.

My cousin Cynthia Christensen alerted me to this show and invited me. I am so glad I made the four hour round trip drive to the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton, California from my house in San Francisco, California, USA.

Christensen recommended I bring my camera, and I am so thankful I brought my good camera, a Canon 5D Mark II with a 50 mm macro lens that’s ideal for close up chicken portraits. I shot the portraits with the aperture wide open to blur the background. I used only available light, so I had to set the ISO to 1600 for many of these shots. I uploaded these pictures at full 21 megapixel resolution. Click on the individual pictures to see the much larger full size version.

4-H youth waiting to present their show birds to the judge, January 28, 2012.

4-H youth waiting to present their show birds to the judge, January 28, 2012.

Samantha Downey, below, was one of the judges at the show. She judged the competition for the sharply uniformed 4-H youth shown above waiting their turn to present their birds to Downey.

Judge Samantha Downey evaluates a chicken presented by a 4-H participant, January 28, 2012.

Judge Samantha Downey evaluates a chicken presented by a 4-H participant, January 28, 2012.

This is a small excerpt from the WikiPedia entry on 4-H:

“4-H in the United States is a youth organization administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), with the mission of “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development.”[1] The name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health. The organization has over 6.5 million members in the United States, from ages five to nineteen, in approximately 90,000 clubs.[2]

The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach. Though typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization as a result of its history, 4-H today focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering, and technology programs.

Today, 4-H and related programs exist in over eighty countries around the world; the organization and administration varies from country to country. Each of these programs operates independently, but cooperatively through international exchanges, global education programs, and communications.

The 4-H motto is “To make the best better”, while its slogan is “Learn by doing” (sometimes written as “Learn to do by doing”).”

I saw other judges walking around the huge barns stopping at each cage to record information to a clipboard. The judges had their work cut out for them. The barn below contains just the runner up chickens.

Barn at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, January 28, 2012.

Barn at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, January 28, 2012.

Below are some of the portraits I took of some of the shockingly interesting chickens on display. Most of these shots were taken between the wire rungs of their cages, which was definitely not ideal.

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012. This bird is owned by Mike Hallock, a friend of my cousin Cynthia Christensen.

Contestant at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012. This bird is owned by Mike Hallock, a friend of my cousin Cynthia Christensen.

I had a really fun time at this show. I never would have imagined just a few years ago that I would like this kind of show.

To conclude, here’s a picture of dozens of chicks for sale, at USD $5.00 each.

Baby chicks for sale at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Baby chicks for sale at Pacific Poultry Breeders Association show, January 28, 2012

Dr. Janet Rowley wins prestigious Japan Prize in the field of healthcare and medical technology

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Dr. Janet Rowley. Photo from University of Chicago Laboratory Schools Facebook page.

Dr. Janet Rowley. Photo from University of Chicago Laboratory Schools Facebook page.

Remember my post from January 7, 2012 where I shared my mother’s prediction that Janet Rowley, the mother of one of my classmates from elementary, middle and high school, would win a Nobel prize?

Today is January 25, 2012, and Dr. Rowley has won a prestigious prize.

It’s not a Nobel, but it’s getting close.

Dr. Rowley won the Japan Prize, in the field of healthcare and medical technology.

Rowley shares this Japan Prize with two others, Dr. Brian Druker and Dr. Nicholas Lydon. The annual prize has been awarded for 28 years.

Rowley, Druker and Lydon will equally share the generous 50 million Yen prize, today worth about USD $650,000 according the news release published by the Japan Prize organizers.

From the press release:

“Janet Rowley, M.D., Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology and Human Genetics of the University of Chicago, Brian Druker, M.D., Director of the Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute, and Nicholas Lydon, Ph.D., Founder and Director of Blueprint Medicines, were recognized for their contribution to the “development of a new therapeutic drug targeting cancer-specific molecules,” called Imatinib.”

and later in the same release:

“I am particularly pleased to share this award with my good friend and collaborator, Nick Lydon, and one of my personal heroes, Dr. Janet Rowley,” Dr. Druker said in his acceptance speech at the press conference.  Speaking about the development of Imatinib, he said: “Today patients who once had a life expectancy of three to five years are now expected to live 30 years.  With Imatinib, we’ve turned a fatal cancer into a manageable disease …. There are incredible opportunities in cancer research.  What Imatinib tells us is that by understanding cancer we can develop effective treatments.  Imatinib tells us we are on the right track but we can’t be complacent.  We can’t be patient.  We must seize this momentum to reach the finish line of curing cancer.”

I’m sure my classmate Roger Rowley will be talking excitedly with his mother today. Congratulations to all. I called my mother at 8:30 this morning to tell her the good news.

Who else has won the Japan Prize? Last year two of the developers of the UNIX computer operating system, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie won the Japan Prize in a different category. Here’s a nice writeup on the Google blog. Thompson works at Google.

Please read the press release of Rowley’s win at the website of the Japan Prize. If that website link in the future breaks, you may then read this archived PDF version that I created so that this important document won’t be lost from my blog years from now.

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 25th, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Having fun with the Nokia phone ringtone

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Much of the modest success I have achieved in life has resulted from Nokia Ventures (later renamed Blue Run Ventures) investing in, Inc., which I later sold to Purple Communications.

While that investment was in 1999, I still have a warm spot in my heart for Nokia Ventures and for Nokia the company that makes mobile telephones.

The Nokia default ring tone is so well known and so associated with Nokia phones that I suspect most people in the world can sing the ringtone by heart. That’s assuming the ring tone is the same throughout the world, which I strongly suspect it is.

Watch what happens in this video I found on YouTube when a talented violinist encounters the Nokia ringtone during a public solo performance in front of an audience.

This is a funny video, and you have to watch through to the end for it to be funny.

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 23rd, 2012 at 5:00 am

Russell Lawall, my grandfather, as painted by Masako Miyata in the 1970s

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Russell Lawall portait painted by Masako. Painted while Masako was an art student in the 1970s.

Russell Lawall portait painted by Masako. Painted while Masako was an art student in the 1970s.

In the 1970s, my grandfather Russell Lawall visited Japan with his wife Edith Lawall. Russel and Edith were my mother’s parents.

Russell and Edith had a strong fondness for Japan. They did not speak Japanese, so they arranged in the early 1970s for a local Japanese tour guide and interpreter to show them Japan. That guide, Masako Miyata, truly befriended my grandparents, and they invited her to move to the United States to live with them and go to college, as Masako was in her early 20s at the time.

Masako studied painting and ceramics at The Art Institute of Chicago. She lived with my grandparents for years — I’m guessing five years. Masako went on to marry an American and became of Professor of Art and Art History at James Madison University. She is now Professor Emeritus of Art and Art History. Her husband, Steve Zapton, also holds the same title at the same institution. Masako’s full name is Masako Miyata Zapton.

Masako created dozens of ceramics pieces while she was a student. When my grandfather Russell passed away in 1994, five years after my grandmother Edith passed away, my mother called Masako to see if she wanted the dozens of items back. My grandfather Russell had saved them all, and they were all on display in the family room.

Masako said she did not want her old student work, but that she also did not want any of it to go to strangers, apparently because the works were signed by her and she was not proud of her early examples.

She said family could keep as many pieces as they wished, but that she wanted the rest to be conclusively destroyed, not sold at an estate sale, donated or otherwise disposed of.

It fell on me to destroy Masako’s student artwork. I wore a full face protective shield to protect me from flying chips of fired clay while I used a hammer to smash dozens of vases, bowls and sculptures, while my brother captured video on my Sony Hi-8 camcorder, which I still have but no longer use.

I kept the best examples of Masako’s work, and I have them at my house and at my parent’s house.

My most precious Masako piece of artwork is a portrait she painted in oils of my grandfather Russell.

This portrait of my grandfather is shown above. Click on the picture twice to see a much larger version of it that is so detailed you can see the brush strokes.

While it may look like an abstract painting, it shows a striking resemblance to my grandfather if you stand far enough away from it.

This painting is framed and in perfect condition. I did not need to retouch the above photograph, which I shot within the last month for this blog.

It is characteristic for me to name people I reference in this blog by their first and last name, and then to make future references in the same post by last name only. I have chosen to reference Masako by her first name throughout because even as an art student, she signed her work with just her first name, and she is known professionally as an artist even now by just her first name, to my knowledge.

Thank you Masako for the artwork. And thank you for helping my grandparents for so many years. You were very kind to them, and I appreciate your kindness.

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 22nd, 2012 at 5:00 am

Life changing beauty product that really can make you look 20 years younger and 50 pounds lighter in just minutes!

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Looking for the latest in makeup? Want to look hotter, sexier and younger?

Tired of all the empty promises made by even high end cosmetics sold at Neiman Marcus and Harrods? Then you need the beauty product that beats all its competition, now matter how costly or rare.

Watch this commercial for more information on this must have product — it’s so good even I use it, and have for years!

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 21st, 2012 at 5:00 am

Posted in Opinion

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I was a juror on a San Francisco Superior Court civil trial that ended today. I am heartbroken for Barbara McLemore.

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Kiska and Riordon streets, San Francisco, California USA

Location of Barbara McLemore's fall on March 25, 2007. Fall happened where white arrow is. Note new location of dumpsters in upper right corner, flush with parking lot surface.

Today, January 19, 2012, I deliberated with 11 other jurors on the civil trial of Barbara McLemore versus Aspen South Hills Apartments Company.

See the case as it appeared on the official San Francisco Superior Court Calendar January 6, 2012. Immediately below is a screen shot of how the case appears on the San Francisco Superior Court Calendar, January 6, 2012. The case number is CGC09486379. [Modifications to this paragraph made May 20, 2012 in response to a request from a reader to simply excerpt the relevant section from the 114 page calendar.]

Excerpt from Superior Court Master Calendar January 9 2012 San Francisco California

Excerpt from Superior Court Master Calendar January 9 2012 San Francisco California

I am heartbroken because I voted for the plaintiff McLemore, but 10 of the other jurors voted for the defendant, Aspen South Hills Apartments Company.

These 10 votes for the defendant means McLemore lost her case and went home without being awarded a penny.

I felt the plaintiff’s attorney Oscar R. Roesler of the Law Offices of Arnold Laub proved his case with 95% certainty. The law requires that he prove his case by any amount over 50%, so I voted for a decisive win. The other juror that voted with me estimated her vote to be 51% certain. One juror characterized her vote as 51% for the defense. Two more jurors characterized their vote as 80-90% for the defense. The remaining 7 jurors characterized their vote as ‘far above 50% for the defense’ without providing a number. This means the plaintiff lost her case by a wide margin.

While I did not form an opinion about the case until in the jury room, I had a sense I would be voting for the plaintiff almost from the beginning. The case was so compelling I easily understand why Roesler took the case, which had to have been on contingency as the plaintiff is of limited means. Aspen South Hills Apartments Company serves very low income and low income tenants, and residents have to qualify according to Housing and Urban Development Section 8 guidelines, which restrict the income tenants may have to continue their residency.

Here’s a summary of the case, in my words:

On March 25, 2007, Barbara McLemore left her apartment and began to walk the most direct route to her vehicle in the parking lot of her apartment complex.

The most direct route included about 8 steps over a 6 inch high concrete ramp leading from the parking lot to an elevated platform where one of the two large garbage dumpsters for her 82 unit housing complex was placed. Between the sidewalk curb and the ramp was a gutter 16 inches in width. McLemore stepped off the curb and placed one foot into this space. When she lifted that foot out of this gutter area the front of her foot hit the edge of the trash ramp and she fell forward on her hands and knees.

McLemore fractured her right knee cap and was in instant pain. She also injured her neck. She had previously had surgery in a different area of her neck in 1993. She had not had trouble with her neck since a successful 1993 operation. The doctor that treated her for her 2007 fall testified the fall caused this new neck trouble.

Dr. Brian Andrews, Chairman of the Department of Neurosciences at California Pacific Medical Center performed two neck surgeries, fusing some bones in her neck together.

The surgeries and related treatment cost USD $109,000, however, McLemore now has only about half the flexibility in her neck that she had before the recent surgeries. Sadly, she is still in pain, even though she can function. She has to take prescription pain medication every day. She said her pain without medication is a 6 on a scale of 10.

Although it wasn’t stated at trial, medical bills I reviewed as evidence showed no charge for her treatments, and I suspect all or most of the bills were covered by McLemore’s health insurance she likely has by virtue of providing 25 years of service working for the City of San Francisco before she retired. She is also on Social Security, and thus I believe should be eligible for Medicaid.

I certainly hope Barbara McLemore isn’t saddled with a mountain of medical debt.

The doctor that testified for the plaintiff was very credible. He was so well regarded that the medical doctor for the defense had the plaintiff’s doctor perform intense back surgery on him when he needed it. The expert surgeon testifying for the defense had to stop performing surgery in 2003 due to back troubles, and now sees patients without performing surgery and provides expert witness testimony as he did at this trial.

I could tell the sidewalk / gutter / trash ramp fall area was dangerous within one second of seeing a photograph of the site as it was at the time of the fall. I polled the other jurors during deliberations, and all 11 of them said they too conclusively believe that area is dangerous. One might think that this would result in a finding for the plaintiff, but, sadly, other issues muddied the picture to the plaintiff’s detriment.

The defense did an outstanding job, I learned. The defendant’s lawyer prepared a pivotal motion which the judge, the honorable Wallace P. Douglass granted. That result of that motion said that the jury could not be asked simply if the defendant was negligent by its creating the dangerous ramp area.

If the jury could have found that defendant was negligent by its creating the dangerous ramp area, the plaintiff may have won since 100% of the jurors agreed the fall area was dangerous.

The jury was asked instead to decide if the ramp area violated building codes and if so, if that violation was a substantial factor in bringing about the harm to McLemore.

Ten of the 12 jurors said the ramp area did not violate then applicable building codes. Since those were the only two questions we had to answer, and the asking of the second was dependent on a yes answer to the first one, by answering as they did, the case was decided in favor of the defendant, in spite of every juror believing the ramp area was dangerous.

This is why I am heartbroken.

I don’t feel that justice was served.

I feel the defendant won because the judge relied on precedent that said he could not simply ask the jury if we felt the defendant was negligent by its constructing the trash ramp as it did. The judge told the jury after the case that he did not agree with the precedents and did not like having to constrain the jury as he had to. He seemed to recognize the dramatic significance of his motion ruling, as he volunteered this dramatic information without being asked.

I also feel the defendant won because the judge told the jurors after the case was over that he instructed Roesler and Hourihan that their experts could not interpret the building codes for the jury. Yes, that’s right, the experts being paid some USD $500 per hour could not interpret building codes and explain what they meant in everyday terms jurors could be expected to grasp. Lonnie Haughton, the building code expert for the plaintiff testified he is a Master Code Professional, one of only fewer than 800 such highly qualified masters in the entire United States of America. But that expert’s testimony was constrained, and he could not interpret what these vexing codes mean.

This is simply craziness to me. Crazy, crazy and crazy. This trial easily cost over USD $100,000 to mount, and the jurors could not learn from building code experts about matters at the core of the case.

McLemore was cheated out of a sum of money that could have dramatically improved her life. She has a life expectancy of about 27 more years, and she could have purchased an immediate annuity with any award to give her extra income for life.

In a moment, I will show you the vague, short and imprecise code language the judge instead required the jurors to interpret on their own, with no outside help, and with no real qualifications to do so.

This case was decided based on jurors’ interpretation of just three sentences in the California State Building Code.

The first sentence is from Section 2-701, which reads:

“Site development and grading shall be designed to provide access to primary entrances and access to normal paths of travel and where necessary to provide access shall incorporate pedestrian ramps, curb ramps, etc.”

The second sentence is from Section 2-3323, which reads:

“Walks and sidewalks subject to these regulations shall have a continuous surface, not interrupted by steps or by abrubt changes in level exceeding 1/2 inch.”

The third sentence, also from Section 2-3323, reads:

“A walk is a surfaced pedestrian way not located contiguous to a street used by the public.”

My reading of these three sentences makes me believe that the fall area is ‘a normal path of travel,’ which is a phrase from the first sentence. The residents of 82 apartment units dispose of their trash in the large dumpster served by the ramp in front of it. That makes the dumpster a magnet for hundreds of visits by residents every week. People get used to walking the most direct route possible to the dumpster, which includes passing over the 16 inch wide gutter, either by stepping over it as I would do, or stepping into it, as I presume people with a shorter step would do.

Right on the opposite side of the ramp is the parking lot for dozens of cars. Residents trained to walk on that ramp while dumping their trash are so likely to also walk on the ramp on the way to their cars that I believe the fall area quickly and perpetually became ‘a normal path of travel.’

McLemore’s dedicated assigned non-handicapped parking spot was right across from the dumpster ramp, we were told, so McLemore was behaving as I would expect her to behave by walking across the variable zero to six inch high ramp. Defense lawyer Hourihan said McLemore should have walked around the ramp, not over it, and because she didn’t she is at fault and is owed nothing. This is cold and unfair, and the defense should not have prevailed.

I told the jury that I believe that if a video camera had been recording activity at the incident area that I was certain that many, many residents walked across the ramp to the parking lot, as it was the shortest path to some of the parking spots. One of the jurors then asked me if I jaywalked does that eliminate my right to collect damages if someone hits me. I conceded that I think it does. He suggested this is the same thing here — plaintiff essentially ‘jaywalked’ across the ramp and anything bad that happened to her as a result was her fault and sole responsibility.

I strongly disagree with this interpretation. The three sentences I quoted above from the building code I think require that ‘normal paths of travel’ be safe to traverse by normally acting pedestrians exercising non extraordinary care in where they step.

I think the jury read these sentences so technically precisely that they cheated a woman in need of compensation for her medical bills, pain and suffering.

Here is how they explained their thinking which led them to deny any money to the plaintiff:

  • They said the fall area by the ramp is not a normal path of travel.
  • They said the fall area is not a ‘walk’ because it is ‘contiguous to a street used by the public.’
  • They said the area of the fall is not a sidewalk either.

The ramp is contiguous to a street used by the public in that the ramp is actually in the street, with street paving on all sides, making the ramp and dumpster an island surrounded by street asphalt.

So the thinking of the other jurors is that the ramp area, no doubt used hourly during waking hours by the approximately 240 residents of the 82 apartments, is not a walk, a sidewalk or a normal path of travel. Because of this status, nobody should have been crossing over it at all, and anybody that did and got hurt gave up any right to be compensated. I find this to be 180 degrees opposite to my much more generous reading of the building code sentences provided in the jury instructions. I feel that had I read the rest of the building code, hundreds of pages, that I would be even more resolute in my feeling that only injustice today was served.

I think the code writers did not intend for such a grave outcome to result from such a nitpicking reading of three sentences. The whole spirit of building codes is to keep people safe, even if they venture off the ideal walking path the designers intend for pedestrians. Only after the trial was over were the jurors told the offending trash ramp has been removed entirely from the apartment complex. I did not learn if a code inspector forced the removal or if there was some other reason, such as the building’s insurer, Farmers Insurance Exchange, deciding to remove it simply in response to McLemore’s lawsuit against the property.

I just performed a Google Maps search for the property address, and discovered that not only has the dumpster ramp been removed, but the dumpster has been relocated, and there is no platform for the dumpster, and thus no ramp serving it. The dumpsters, now actually two of them, sit directly on the parking lot surface. They are in the upper right corner of the lot, nowhere near where the dumpster was when McLemore tripped on its ramp.

The photograph above that illustrates this post is a screen capture from Google Maps earlier this evening. There is a small white arrow in the picture where McLemore fell.

I feel so bad for McLemore. I tried so hard to turn things around for her. I made the arguments I detailed in this post to the other jurors, but I did not change the vote of even one juror, I am sad to report. When I called the first vote a few minutes after I was elected ‘presiding juror’ (in earlier years this position was entitled ‘foreman’), the vote was 1 for McLemore (my vote), 2 undecided and 9 for the apartment complex, the defendant. However, on questioning, one of the undecided jurors was leaning towards voting for the defense. Only two jurors were ever really for the plaintiff, and it never improved during the rest of the two hours or so that we spent in the jury room. I called a vote twice more during the proceedings, and final vote was 10 for defendant and 2 for plaintiff. I voted for plaintiff.

I regretfully signed and dated the voting form provided by the court and passed my signed copy around the room for all to inspect and check. It was approved by all in the room. I then used the sheriff’s deputy telephone hotline to ask Bailiff Mr. Rafael Cabrera to escort the jury members back to the court room. Cabrera didn’t return, but one of his unnamed colleagues escorted the jury members through the judge’s door to the court room, which was numbered room 504.

I never wrote down the last names of the other jurors, but I did write down the first name of the jurors. They were:

  • Rob
  • Sheila
  • Neula
  • Marianne
  • Helena
  • Chris
  • Guy
  • Tony
  • Tamra
  • Dan
  • Mohammed

The jurors were bright, engaged, thoughtful and had great memories. I was impressed with how well the memory of the group agreed with my memory. I agreed with many of the jurors on a number of issues, such as which side had better experts and which closing arguments were more powerful. I cannot find fault with the passion and earnestness of the jurors — they were all fully present, thinking and working in the jury room. Thank goodness one of the jurors was dismissed part way through the case, apparently for sleeping and using his smart phone during the trial. I would not have wanted that juror in the deliberations, because nobody knows how much he heard or didn’t hear.


To Barbara McLemore, I offer these remarks:

I found you to be a highly credible and impressive person. I read your handwritten incident report of the accident, and your handwriting is better than mine. You were precise, well spoken, detailed and sensitive to the politics of going on the record with something so caustic as a dramatic fall. I have a feeling you were an outstanding employee for the City and County of San Francisco before your retirement.

While you didn’t press your point against Aspen South Hills Apartments by extracting money out of them that you may spend on yourself, you did extract a lot of money out of their insurance company, which had to defend against your lawsuit. I don’t see how Farmers Insurance Exchange spent less than USD $100,000 to defend this case, given the high expense for the expert testimony and for the impressive legal work demonstrated by its in house counsel, John D. Hourihan.

You also made a lot of people squirm, including Ella Henderson, Michele Evans and South Hills Apartments Company owner Sanford Gallanter.

It’s true none of them would have likely suffered financially had you won, it was evident to me that they disliked being in court, and you may take small comfort that you inconvenienced them more than a little.

This is not revenge.

This inconvenience does not make up for your pain and aggravation and suffering.

But still, I believe you can take small comfort that you were seriously paid attention to for a long while.

None of the participants will ever forget you or your name.

I am sure I will never forget your name. I know this because I served on jury over ten years ago and I still remember the participants and the case well, and that case ended very well for the plaintiff. I was happy for him, not heartbroken, as I am for you. I will remember you even longer due to this heartbreak. I also got to meet you, where I did not meet the plaintiff in the earlier case.

Even though I don’t know you, I feel like I learned a lot about you at this trial. You strike me as a profoundly good person and woman.

I liked your friend Gary, and he has a nice and warm smile. I hope you stay friends with him and that he comforts you during this particularly rough time in your life.

I was extremely impressed with your daughter Ashley McLemore. You have so much to be proud of that you raised a daughter that graduated from University of California at Davis. It’s harder than ever to be admitted to the University of California, I’ve read. Please give my regards to  your daughter and also give her my best wishes for a happy and successful life, whatever career path she should chose.

I could see you are a proud woman with integrity and honor.

I see you as a community leader, evidenced by your forming the tenants’ association you once led at your complex.

I was impressed you came out of retirement to work part time at your local food bank.

You held your head high with poise and dignity when the unfavorable verdict was read by court clerk Mr. Feinberg. I can not imagine the agony you must have been feeling inside, after half of decade of constant physical pain but for medication, and over three years of legal battle, which takes an emotional toll more extreme than most people appreciate.

I went through a relatively simple divorce last year, which is technically a lawsuit, and it was excruciating.

What you have just gone through I suspect was 100 times worse.

That you were able to shake my hand for a solid minute and look me in the eye without crying was astonishing.

I would have cried had I been in your shoes. I am crying as I write this sentence to you now.

I hope that you are happy that I wrote this blog post. I place a lot of outbound website url links in my blog posts. If you would like me to remove some of the links, or make other changes, please write to me via a comment to this post and I will likely accommodate your requests. I don’t normally grant such requests, but this is a special circumstance because while the trial was public and open to all, this case is still a special and sensitive part of your life.

I mean no disrespect by writing so vividly and publically about the case.

Rather, I intend to show you much respect by my writing this blog post.

It is my hope that you will treasure this post, print it out and hold on to it in your family history. I hope you will show it to your friends and neighbors as proof you were not unwise to sue over your injuries, and that your case was believed and accepted almost 100% by one of the jurors.

I wish you all the best in your life. I suspect you are among friends in your apartment complex, and had you won you probably would have been forced to move due to the Section 8 rules, so in the final reflection maybe not winning will keep you closer to your friends, which I have found are more important than money.

You touched me this past 8 days. I am honored that I have shared in your life.

Kevin Laurence Warnock
San Francisco, California USA
January 19, 2012

Insightful comment on Mad Men, the US television series about morality and ethics

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The cast of Mad Men, Season One. Photo from

The cast of Mad Men, Season One. Photo from

On Sunday, January 15, 2012, the blog for The Wall Street Journal newspaper carried a small piece entitled ‘Mad Men’ Finally Returns to TV announcing the return of Mad Men for a fifth season.

Mad Men on the surface is a cable television show about the advertising business in New York City during the 1960s. But it’s also a show about morality and ethics, and I think the advertising business is just a vehicle to make the larger points about life that the show advances. In this regard, the show reminds me of the cancelled HBO drama Carnivale, which I loved. That show on the surface was about a traveling carnival, but it really had little to do with such triviality. Carnivale was a masterpiece on par with The Wire.

A reader identified only as John wrote the following comment at 11:49 am on January 16, 2012 to the Wall Street Journal blog entry that I think succinctly summaries what Mad Men is about.

I wish I could give John more credit by publishing his last name. Here is John’s comment in its entirety.

“I have seen all episodes of this tragedy. Here are people who cannot hold onto anything of value. This is really a fine portaryal of betrayal and selfishness. With appropriate commentary it should be shown to people contemplating their future as real people and real adults. It is in effect a morality play showing the emptiness of sexual freedom and destructive lack of standards. Set in the vacuum of advertising and manipulation this series should alert every thinking individual to the dangers of living for pleasure and self interest. I suspect that the next season (starting March 2012) will further strengthen the premise that men and women left to squander their lives in sex, drink and irresponsible behavior as parents in the final analysis end up on the heap of derelicts.

Most of these Madmen characters cannot stop abusing their own opportunities and children. We must learn from their mistakes and not adopt them as excuses for our own tragic weaknesses.”

I know people that squandered their lives in sex, drink and irresponsible behavior.

I bet you do too.

If you don’t, you’re not looking for evidence very hard, I suspect. Look harder.

Mad Men is worth watching with due deliberation and careful reflection.

Perhaps Mad Men will shake more than a few people out of their stupor so they can clean up their act and live more just, honorable and ultimately more rewarding lives.

Left unchecked, people who behave shockingly poorly end up homeless, broke and alone, no matter how nominally ‘rich’ they appear at their ‘peak.’ Don’t let that happen to you or someone you care about.

[Note: I corrected a few minor typos in John’s comment. You can see his original comment here.]

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 17th, 2012 at 5:00 am

A conversation with Janet D. Rowley

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Janet D Rowley of University of Chicago. Photograph via University of Chicago.

Janet D Rowley

I went to elementary, middle and high school with Roger Rowley, now the Director of The Prichard Art Gallery at the University of Idaho. My mother Martha Warnock always told me what a smart mother he had. I remember this even from when I was a young child. My mother was a professor at the University of Chicago at the time, as was Janet Rowley, Roger’s mother.

Janet Rowley comes up in conversation with my mother even now, because Rowley has been recently featured in two publications my mother reads regularly, The New Yorker and The New York Times.

The New York Times article was published in the print edition February 8, 2011. Sadly, I didn’t properly file my original paper version of the very long and fascinating New Yorker article, and I can’t find it via the search mechanism at that magazine’s website, or via Google. I believe I have the article at my house, and if and when I find it, I’ll scan it and amend this post, because it was captivating.

My mother thinks Janet Rowley will win a Nobel Prize. Given what I’ve read about her, I’d say that’s likely.

I wonder if I perhaps met her when I was at Lab School with her son Roger. I remember Roger Rowley well and sat next to him at dinner at my high school reunion ten and a half years ago.

[Note: Roger Rowley wrote to me shortly after I posted the above text letting me know that the Internet address for The Prichard Art Gallery has been updated. Please visit the Prichard Art Gallery here instead of via the link above in the first sentence. January 7, 2012 @ 5:20pm PST.]

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 7th, 2012 at 12:51 pm

My grandmother Elsie Battaglia featured in Regal Courier newspaper

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Elsie Battaglia in about 1932

Elsie Battaglia in about 1932

As I have reported, my dear grandmother Elsie Battaglia turned 100 years old December 12, 2011. Her friends, Ron and Eleanor Highet, owners of the Original Pancake House, threw her a wonderful birthday party, attended by 75 of Battaglia’s friends and family.

Barbara Sherman, a reporter from the Tigard, Oregon USA newspaper the Regal Courier, was among the guests, and she wrote a amazingly wonderful article about the party and my grandmother’s fascinating life. I only learned about the newspaper article today, however, it was published December 29, 2011.

I learned from this article that my grandmother was proposed to on her first date after 15 minutes of conversation with the young man.

I have known for ages that Grandma was proposed to on the first date, but only today did I learn the proposal happened so quickly.

15 minutes! Think about that for 15 minutes.

Elsie Battaglia, April 12, 2011. Photograph by Kevin Warnock.

Elsie Battaglia, April 12, 2011. Photograph by Kevin Warnock.

[Important note: Since this blog will be around longer than the article will likely be available on the Regal Courier website, I made a screen capture of the story, presented here as a PDF format file:

Regal Courier newspaper story about Elsie Battaglia, December 29, 2011

Please read the article on the newspaper’s website, and ignore the PDF screen captures until the newspaper’s link no longer functions, or the newspaper no longer exists.

This blog will live on for centuries, thus this precaution against an important link getting broken.

It is critical you read the story at the newspaper’s website, as that’s how the newspaper makes money. If you read my PDF before the newspaper deactivates the link, you are stealing from the newspaper’s bank account, which is not kind given how kind they were to feature my grandmother’s birthday party.]

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 6th, 2012 at 12:29 pm