Thursday, January 05, 2017

Health: My Story of Male Osteoporosis

The TV ads would suggest osteoporosis is a women's health issue.

However, men get osteoporosis also.

My diagnosis occurred by accident. Recently, had an episode of frozen shoulder. In order to be sure it wasn't something else, the orthopedic MD ordered an x-ray. It confirmed there was no overt structural problem in my shoulder. However, the radiologist commented on osteopenia.

The ball was thrown over to my primary care doctor (PCP) who then ordered a bone density scan.

The scan showed I had osteoporosis thus the PCP referred me over to the geriatrics department where I got blood tests for secondary osteoporosis. All of those tests came back negative and so the geriatrics MD recommended zoledronic acid by intravenous route. This medication is in the bisphosphonate class that is a very common approach to addressing osteoporosis.

Went to the infusion center on a Friday afternoon and got hooked up to an IV and the meds were delivered uneventfully. I was told that some percentage of patients experience flu-like symptoms. There is also a rare complication called osteonecrosis of the jaw.

Shortly after midnight, I felt some muscle aches. The pain grew more intense as Saturday wore on and eventually included a splitting headache. Could barely walk and with the splitting headache could not sleep. By midnight, the pain began to recede. All told the episode lasted about 24 hours.

I reported this to the geriatrics doctor and was told it seems to occur more often in male patients and the second dose is usually better tolerated. However, some patients switch to the oral form of the medication which can cause reflux and other GI distress so either way, there may be issues. I was told there are other medications but they are generally reserved for more serious cases and at this point there isn't warrant to go in that direction. My bone density scan is going to be repeated 2+ years after my first one and my situation will be re-assessed at that time. For now, the recommendation is to stick with zoledronic acid with a decision regarding route to be made later this year.

For more reading:
Data from HORIZON clinical trial of zoledronic acid shown to me by my geriatrics doctor. I was assured by the doctor that other studies show the medication works on men also. Here are some examples: study of the medication on male patients and a review item.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

LA Galaxy off-season

Post started on November 17, 2016 and will update as more news comes in.

Who is going to stay and who is going to go?

Here is the team stats at the LA Galaxy web page and below are the players with significant minutes and would be in the conversation about who is staying and going:

Contracted exercised and on roster (updated 12/12/16)
* Protected from expansion draft (updated 12/12/16)
Van Damme*
Jamieson IV*
McBean* - returns from loan
Dos Santos*

Out of contract:
Leonardo - goes to Houston via re-entry draft
De Jong - released mid-season
Gerrard - has confirmed he is moving on
Donovan - plans to retire; rumors of RSL interest
Larentowicz - signed with Atlanta
Keane - has confirmed he is moving on
Magee - has announced he will retire

Other situations:
Jones - LA Galaxy has traded draft pick for rights but will he sign with LAG?
Jonathan Dos Santos - rumored interest from LAG of the Villareal midfielder and brother of Gio Dos Santos.

The Battle of the Burgers

Posted started on March 3, 2016 and will be updated periodically.

Like many people, I've reduced my red meat intake for health reasons. And am also making some effort to source conscientiously any meat item (poultry and fish included) at the market when I do. Am by no means hard core (i.e. not vegan/vegetarian) and can't afford to always buy stuff at Whole Paycheck (i.e. Whole Foods). Having said all that, I confess I still go for the occasional burger. With the reduced intake of meat products, my system really can't handle a big steak any more. But a nice burger is still a treat.

I confess I am a fan of In-and-Out Burgers. When on a road trip, I'll often make a note of where they are along the route and if it makes sense to take a lunch or dinner break at one of their outlets, I'll almost certainly stop there. So in my rating system, In-and-Out gets the A rating.

But what about other burgers out there?

Here is my highly subjective views on burgers at other places.

Denny's (B-). Sorry, I have tried the burger there and realized I should stick to having the breakfast items at the venerable chain diner.

Marie Callender's (B-). Meh, just didn't seem that appetizing.

Five Guys (B+). I have to say I'm surprised at the solid fan base. Definitely, they do have a lot of options in terms of fixings to the burgers so hats off for that. But the burger itself? Not sure how come it has gained such a cult following. Don't get me wrong, I think it is a decent burger and deserves a solid B+ rating. A+ though on the fried potatoes!

Carl's Junior (A-). I think their all natural burger is their best. The others ones are okay but slip into the B/B+ range.

Apple Pan (A+). Going to the Apple Pan is like stepping into a time machine. Wonder how long that kind of store can survive and how many other places like that still exist in the 21st Century!

McDonalds (B-). Haven't had many in recent years. Now, if I stop here at all, I just get the breakfast items at the famous old chain that started the mega-chains. In foreign countries, I may visit one when I need to see something familiar!

Jack-in-the Box (B-). Haven't had many in recent years. I just get the breakfast items if I ever enter their stores or swing by the drive through. In fact, their top seller are tacos!

Fatburger (A). Great burger. Give the edge on the fries to competitors In-and-Out and Five Guys. But the burger is competitive. A Los Angeles institution founded by Lovie Yancey. Eventually, the chain was sold but the formula remains the same in terms of how the burgers are made. The current investor group has opened stores in unusual locations world wide.

Mooyah (A). Great Turkey Burger! Hope to eventually try one of their beef burgers. Also, loved their fries.

Burger Lounge (A+). Conscientious turkey (free-range) and beef (grass-fed) burgers. Enjoyed it very much! Loved their fries too. Does this qualify as a "snooty" burger place?

There are plenty of "snooty" burgers these days in addition to chain ones. I'll be updating this page now and then as I visit some more places.

"Snooty" burgers

Umami Burger (A). It's hip and the burger I had there was pretty good.

Blue Cow Kitchen (A). Trendy DTLA (downtown LA) location. We ordered from the Happy Hour menu and split the House Burger, Al Pastor Shrimp Tacos, and Crispy Glazed Brussels Sprouts.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Argh - Powerpoint fail - lost narration after export to movie

One can record narration into a Microsoft Power Point for MAC presentation.

However, if you export the file into movie format so that it could be played on computers with no Powerpoint, the narration is lost.

Just discovered this while trying to do just that. As a result, am now conducting google searches to see if there is a work-around. But the first thing I found was this item in Microsoft Office that says exactly what I didn't want to read: Narration is not saved when you save a presentation as a movie.

UPDATE: Could not find any solutions on the internet. Fortunately, the project I was working on was fairly short and simple. I wound up doing everything in Keynote and that exports to movie with no problem.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Ranking the Star Wars movies

I'm one of those who likes both Star Trek and Star Wars. As a blogger, I had to have a list ranking the Star Trek movies. Now, it is time to rank the Star Wars movies.

Episode 5 - The Empire Strikes Back
Episode 4 - A New Hope
Episode 6 - Return of the Jedi
Episode 7 - The Force Awakens
Episode 3 - Revenge of the Sith
Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace
Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones

As a cultural moment, one can't beat Episode 4 - A New Hope. At the time, in 1977, the film was simply Star Wars. It was only because of its unbelievable box office success that the other films were made. For strength of story telling, I have to give the top prize to episode 5. The franchise was so strong that even though Episodes 1 and 2 were panned by critics and fans alike, the Star Wars property persevered.

In the years ahead, the films will expand to include a set of films Episodes 7-8-9, the newly released Rogue One that I haven't seen yet, and a set of films around Han Solo. Who know what else they have planned for what appears to be a cash cow for Disney!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

2016 Exit Polling - the third party perspective

Political pundits are pouring over the exit polls. Understandably, the focus is on who was supporting Clinton and who was supporting Trump.

But what about the approximately five percent of voters who voted for Johnson (~ 3%), Stein (~ 1%), and others (~ 1%)? What can we say about them?

The biggest question that is always asked is what would have happened if there was only two candidates on the ballot? Did the minor party candidates cost Clinton the election?

I think the exit poll page has the most data of the major news sites. If you scroll all the way down, I think the screen capture of one of the items in the exit poll addresses that question.

This would suggest that if the 5% who went minor party, 63% would not vote on the POTUS if there were only two choices. Of the 37% who would make a choice, a slightly larger number would vote for Trump (21%) compared to Clinton (16%). Thus, the argument that Clinton was harmed by the presence of third party voters may not hold up. However, there is one big caveat: how was this question answered in specific swing states. Unfortunately, I don't have access to exit polling data of that specificity. 

What else could be said about the minor party votes in 2016?

Demographically, younger voters (18 to 39) were two-times more likely to vote for a minor party.  This demographic also supported Clinton while those 40 and older supported Trump.

We can speculate why this age divide occurred: perhaps some younger voters are less willing to accept the binary nature of presidential elections but as voters get older this changes.

Independents are also three times more likely to vote for a candidate from a minor party compared to those with a party identification. This is not surprising since they have opted out in terms of party registration. Trump won the independents 46% to 42%.

The 2016 voter totals for alternative party candidates was the highest since 1996 when Perot got 8% and the combined remaining other party candidates got almost 2%. Does this bode well for the future of alternatives to the Democratic and Republican parties? I suspect the high numbers reflects the historic unpopularity of the two main party candidates and not a trend toward greater support of third parties. 

In the CNN exit poll charts, there were many variations on questions of the qualities of the candidates (temperament, qualified, honest, favorable/unfavorable). Of these, the one shown below was striking. Only 2% of voters surveyed viewed both candidates favorably. If the voter had a favorable view of the candidate, they inevitably voted for that candidate. Of the 18% that held unfavorable views of both candidates, more went to Trump (47% vs. 30%) and 23% of these voters opted to vote for a minor party candidate.

Finally, late deciding voters (within the final month) tended to go to Trump but a certain percentage decided to support minor party candidates. 

In 2012, Johnson ran as Libertarian and Stein ran as Green and they combined to get 1.4% of the vote. In 2016, both improved on their 2012 numbers. However, one suspects that some of that increase is of a "protest" nature rather than outright support for them. Though there is an abstract desire for more options, even with historic levels of unpopularity for the two major candidates, 95% of voters still voted for one or the other.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Electoral College

Pretty much every four years essays are written for and against the electoral college. Go ahead and google and you'll get plenty of articles. This year (2016) and in 2000 when the electoral college result differed from the popular vote, the conversation is even more intense.

Whether the electoral college is "fair" or not depends on whether one accepts the premise of the system that the founders established.

My understanding is that the founders tried to balance population based representation and state based representation in our system of governance. Hence, the House is population based and the Senate is state based. Then the question became how to determine the Presidency? They opted to construct an electoral college that reflected both population and state based aspects by linking the number of electors to the number of House and Senate members per state. The net effect of this imperfect compromise is that the electoral college mostly mirrors the population but diminishes the impact of larger states and magnifies the impact of smaller states. Taking 2012 election data: California cast ~ 13 million votes while Wyoming cast ~ 250,000. Thus, from a population perspective California weighs 52 times more than Wyoming. But in the electoral college California gets 55 while Wyoming gets 3; thus, California's weight is 18 times larger. One can argue whether this is "fair" but that is the system we have and it was intended that way by the founders when, at that time, Virginia was the big state all the other states were worried would have too much influence. Additionally, should the electoral college fail to provide a winner, the Constitution calls for the decision to be made in the House which is the population based body yet the House members vote as states. Using the House to elect the president has very rarely happened (1800 and 1824) but the design again reflects an attempt to balance state and population based representation.

The Constitution did not set up a pure direct democracy for the national government but rather a representative democracy: as determined by population in the House, as determined by states in the Senate, as determined by a mixture of both in the electoral college mechanism for the Presidency.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mixed feelings post-election

Am still processing the elections and am slowly trying to put my finger on where I am at. In the past, in some cases I voted for a candidate that would go on to be elected (1984, 1988, 2000, 2004) and so there was satisfaction in the result. In others, I voted for a candidate who lost and so there was disappointment (1992, 1996, 2008, 2012) but satisfaction that the political process was working.

This year was unique in that I knew I would feel no satisfaction in either candidate's victory and I am concerned our political system is failing. Clinton supporters would have felt elation at the first woman president. Trump supporters would feel the voice of the forgotten working class was heard. Reluctant Clinton supporters who were #NeverTrump would feel relief that Trump lost. Reluctant Trump supporters who were #NeverClinton would feel relief that Clinton lost.

But #NeverTrump #NeverClinton voters would feel disappointment no matter who would win.

I believe that George Will is also #NeverTrump #NeverClinton. He put it this way in his column this morning:

At dawn Tuesday in West Quoddy Head, Maine, the easternmost point of the United States, it was certain that by midnight in Cape Wrangell, Alaska, the westernmost fringe, there would be a loser who deserved to lose and a winner who did not deserve to win. [......] The simultaneous sickness of both parties surely reveals a crisis of the U.S. regime. The GOP was easily captured, and then quickly normalized, by history’s most unpleasant and unprepared candidate, whose campaign was a Niagara of mendacities. And the world’s oldest party contrived to nominate someone who lost to him. To an electorate clamoring for disruptive change, Democrats offered a candidate as familiar as faded wallpaper. The party produced no plausible alternative to her joyless, stained embodiment of arrogant entitlement. And she promised to intensify the progressive mentality. [......] The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on, perhaps soon to inscribe this: In 2016, Republicans won a ruinous triumph that convinced them that they can forever prosper by capturing an ever-larger portion of an ever-smaller portion of the electorate. This kamikaze arithmetic of white nationalism should prompt the president-elect to test his followers’ devotion to him by asking their permission to see the national tapestry as it is and should be.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Political earthquake

Did not see that coming.

As a #NeverTrump #NeverClinton voter, when I left the ballot box Tuesday morning, I knew the next President of the United States would not be someone I voted for.

Nate Silver at 538 did hedge a bit on the morning of election day with his analysis piece. Excerpt:
First, Clinton’s overall lead over Trump — while her gains over the past day or two have helped — is still within the range where a fairly ordinary polling error could eliminate it. 
Second, the number of undecided and third-party voters is much higher than in recent elections, which contributes to uncertainty. 
Third, Clinton’s coalition — which relies increasingly on college-educated whites and Hispanics — is somewhat inefficiently configured for the Electoral College, because these voters are less likely to live in swing states. If the popular vote turns out to be a few percentage points closer than polls project it, Clinton will be an Electoral College underdog. 

As the night wore on, it became apparent that it was a "perfect storm" that Nate Silver described.
First, Clinton underperformed in the Obama coalition demographics.
Second, Trump's "silent voters" turned out in much larger numbers.
Third, the electoral college map yielded what is looking to be a very close popular vote total in favor of Clinton but a small but solid electoral college win for Trump.

No matter who would win last night, the nation is divided. If Clinton had won, there would still be about half the voters who did not vote for her. Trump has won and there are half the voters who did not vote for him.

No matter who would have won last night that individual will have the challenge of finding it in themselves to have the big heartedness to reach out to those who opposed their candidacy, the open mindedness to bring into the executive branch appointees who can work with people, and the humility to seek the welfare of the whole nation and not just personal ambition.

Monday, November 07, 2016

November 2016 Election Forecast

Why should all the pundits have a corner on the market on forecasts? This pajama wearing blogger can forecast too! Below are two graphs from Real Clear Politics.

Graph 1 is the 3 month data on Clinton Trump in a "two-way" race.

Graph 2 is the 3 month graph of the "four-way" race.

There are two striking features from graph 1.
1. Clinton's numbers bounce between 45% and 49%. {hitting the mark with 47.6%}
2. Trump's number bounce between 40% and 45%. {stunning at 47.4%}

This would suggest Clinton has the advantage as the high end of Trump's numbers are at the low end of Clinton's numbers - the two lines never crossed. This scenario could happen resulting in a very long night. UPDATE: Nate Silver of 538 explains the probabilities due to the uncertainties in polling and the action of undecided voters. But nonetheless, the most likely outcome is that Clinton will edge out Trump by 2 to 3%.

There are two striking features from graph 2 regarding the two minor party candidates.
1. Johnson's numbers maxed out around 9% and have declined to 4% as election day approaches. 
2. Stein's numbers peaked near 4% but is now closer to 2% as election day approaches.

This suggests that when Clinton had the larger lead, more voters entertained the idea of a minor party candidate. But as the race has tightened, probably about half of those voters have moved back to one or the other main party candidates or will cast no vote on POTUS.

Thus, what happens on November 8?

Green party candidate Nader got almost 3% in 2000 in what was known to be a close race. This indicates that Green voters are fiercely loyal. Thus, I suspect, the Stein supporters will stick with her and be joined by Sander supporters who refuse to support Clinton. My prediction Stein gets 1.7% of the vote.

As for the Johnson/Weld ticket, I think they continue to lose support. Their repeated "foot in mouth" episodes have alarmed the loosely adherent supporters. How does 3.6% sound? Because there are some states that are very strongly Clinton or Trump, the Libertarians may get some protest voters. However, the dream of a historic non-major party performance is gone with the overall tighter race between Clinton and Trump. Of course, it will still be historic for the Libertarian party in specific. 

Thus, final figures:
48.6%   Clinton {currently 47.6% likely to increase some due to California}
45.9%   Trump {currently 47.4%}
3.6%     Johnson {3.2%}
1.7%     Stein {1.0%}
0.2%     Others {0.5%}

But of course, it is the electoral college that actually determines the presidency.

Map 1 is the Real Clear Politics map with the "toss-up" states in gray.

Map 2 is the my adjustments to the RCP map.

Some of the "toss-up" in map 1 are probably not that close. Colorado, Maine, New Mexico I think are in the Democratic column as is Pennsylvania, Virginia and Michigan. Philadelphia is so strongly Democrat that Republicans can't get enough supporters in the rest of the state to off-set that advantage {Clinton support was too little too late and called to Trump breaking the "blue wall"}. Same in Detroit thus keeping Michigan safe for Clinton {Trump up 10K votes but still counting as of Thursday}. And the suburbs of northern Virginia just outside of DC is probably too strongly for Clinton for Trump to compensate with showings in the rest of the state {Clinton support came in and edged Trump}. Though Georgia is probably trending away from the GOP, don't see Trump losing that state.

As you can see in map 2, Trump would have to win all the gray locations to get to 270.

Thus, the balance hangs with these 8 elections:
Poll closing time (EST)
North Carolina {this race was close but eventually called for Trump later in the evening}
Ohio {this race was not close and that was a sign there was something happening}
Florida {this race was close but eventually called for Trump later in the evening}
Maine CD2 {I don't know when it was called for Trump}
New Hampshire {ultimately on Wednesday or Thursday called for Clinton but it didn't matter}
Arizona {ultimately on Wednesday or Thursday called for Trump but he had exceed 270 already}
Iowa {this race was close initially but eventually called for Trump later in the evening}
Nevada {this race was close but eventually called for Clinton later in the evening}

Probably sometime around 11pm, North Carolina, New Hampshire or Nevada will be called for Clinton thus ending the night of drama. {The drama started with Minnesota and Wisconsin were too close to call a clear sign something was happening in the "blue wall." Eventually, Clinton edged Trump out in Minnesota but the shocker was Wisconsin going Trump}. 

Final map:

Will Clinton have any "coat-tails" to bring the Senate into Democratic hands?

It is going to be close, RCP has 8 races as toss-ups. I think the Democrats take Nevada, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. While the GOP take Indiana, North Carolina and Florida. The cliff-hangers will be Missouri and New Hampshire. I am calling it 50-50 split with NH going GOP and Missouri Democrat. With the VP Kaine, the Senate will organize with the Democrats in control.