Suddenly: One Night Only

Saturday evening, for one night only. Elizabeth in concert.

A duet. A romantic song of falling in love at first sight. The kind when both man and woman glance back to see if the other noticed. The stage was kept on the darker side, under dark pink and dark blue lighting, to set the mood. In place of the live performance, a montage featuring Elizabeth is used in this video. The audio track is from the live performance.

This video is best viewed in full screen 1080p HD and the volume set on high.

On the track

Lead vocals: Elizabeth & David Ramos
Keyboards and piano: Andrea Kanakredes
Lead guitar: Blake Dylan
Guitar: Barry Dylan
Guitar: Mike Dozier
Bass: Michael Evans
Drums: William Edward O’Brien
Percussion: JD McClain
Strings: Wendy Stills, Sarah McNeal, Jen Harrison
Flute: Melody Reynolds

Composer: John Farrar
Arranged by: Andrea Kanakredes

Recorded live at Front Range Concerts.
© Copyright 2021 – Team KRW. All Rights Reserved.

Prelude: One Night Only

Saturday evening, for one night only. Elizabeth in concert.

It began with this video, on the large screen, of North Ranch in September. Colorado at her finest. Summer still ever present, the tall prairie grasses barely stirring. Accompanied by an orchestral fanfare composed by Dennis McCarthy, conjuring and bringing forth the emotion found in the heart. The fanfare is better known as Archer’s Theme.

This video is best viewed in full screen 1080p HD and the volume set on high.

While the fanfare played, Elizabeth was off-stage, listening for her cue.

She was beautiful. She was in fine voice.

On this song:

Lead guitar: David Ramos
Keyboards and piano: Andrea Kanakredes
Acoustic guitar: Blake Dylan
Bass: Barry Dylan
Percussion: Michael Evans
Drums: William Edward O’Brien
Strings: Wendy Stills, Sarah McNeal, Jen Harrison
Oboe, clarinet: Melody Reynolds
Horns: JD McClain, Perry Cortes, Vernon Lerner, Mike Dozier

Composer: Dennis McCarthy

Recorded live at Front Range Concerts.
© Copyright 2021 – Team KRW. All Rights Reserved.

Unraveling A Pandemic: Crossing Ethical Lines

Cyclosporin A is an immunosuppressant given to prevent organ rejection after transplant surgery. The drug works by lowering the immune response in the patient. Without the drug, or incorrect dosing, a transplant patient will likely die in the days and weeks following surgery.

University of Colorado Health announced on Tuesday, October 5 they will not perform any organ transplants on unvaccinated individuals, no matter how the dire the situation may be. Translated: an unvaccinated patient can be near death, and an organ transplant being the only means to save that person, will be denied the operation. The governor, who is an idiot also, is backing the decision, saying “it is following the science and best medical advice.”

Since science was brought up, let’s talk science. The kind reported in scientific journals, and reported again in open source media.

A May 5 study published in JAMA found that 46% of 658 transplant patients did not mount an antibody response after two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

‘Although this study demonstrates an improvement in . . . antibody responses in transplant recipients after dose two . . . these data suggest that a substantial proportion of transplant recipients likely remain at risk for covid-19 after 2 doses of mRNA vaccine,’ the researchers wrote. They think this lack of reaction is probably a result of the immunosuppressive drugs they take.

May 2021

 

Emerging research shows that 15 to 80% of those with certain conditions, such as specific blood cancers or who have had organ transplants, are generating few antibodies.

May 2021

 

Patients with a condition known as chronic lymphocytic leukemia had a very weak response even if they were not undergoing treatment. The condition, which affects the blood and bone marrow, can sometimes be asymptomatic.

May 2021

 

The COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE induces weaker immune responses in elderly people compared to younger and middle-aged adults, new data suggest. Researchers studied 91 vaccine recipients under the age of 60 and 85 recipients over age 80. Seventeen days after the second of two doses, nearly one-third (31%) of the elderly recipients did not have any antibodies capable of neutralizing the virus. This was true for only 2% of the younger group, the researchers reported on Friday on medRxiv ahead of peer review. Even among those under age 60, only 16% had neutralizing antibodies after the first dose, the researchers found.

March 2021

 

Those patients who have received stem cell replacement also generate fewer antibodies. The same applies to those being treated for rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic psoriasis, chronic eczema, and other diseases treated by use of a biologic. (A biologic is a class of drugs which modifies the immune response, often reducing the response. The  COVID vaccines fall into this category, by placing the immune response in a “standby” mode. When the immune system detects the presence of COVID, it responds accordingly.)

Further, the numbers cited by public health officials and infectious disease specialists, often repeated in media interviews, lack statistical value. Both the CDC and NIH chose not to collect categories of data. When they did, the sampling size was insignificant. For example …

According to the analysis, unvaccinated individuals were 44 times more likely to develop symptomatic COVID-19 and 29 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who had received the vaccine.

March 2021

 

The comparative data to support these conclusions were not collected from both unvaccinated and vaccinated groups who presented with COVID symptoms. How many were hospitalized, how many had died, what was the course of treatment. These conclusions are often cited to encourage vaccination as the highly virulent delta variant became more prevalent. The other problem with these conclusions, they were asserted before the delta variant emerged.

However, let’s get more personal. More than a year later, it has not been determined why Tasha passed away from COVID when her symptoms were slight. More than two months later, it has not been determined why Tess passed away from COVID despite begin fully vaccinated and tested regularly, every 2-3 days. It is nearly six months since I experienced a severe adverse reaction, and it has not been determined why. Tasha and Tess deserve better. Saying “it’s too bad” is not an answer.

Denying an individual an organ transplant based on vaccination status is not science. It is a breach of ethics and morality. The decision made by UCHealth management is contrary to what is taught on Day One of medical ethics, to first year medical students, the god complex. Make an exception here, it makes it easier to allow an exception elsewhere.

More to the point, Andrea in her remarks, when a new group of students were formally accepted into the School of Medicine, three years ago, said it is important to remember why they have chosen the medical profession. “It is to heal. First, last, always. Don’t have the solution, find it. Have the solution, share it. It defines who we are in the profession.”

What was true in March is still true today. To refresh your memories, please read here.

National Taco Day

Everyday is a national food or beverage day. Last week, coffee was celebrated. Today, the week begins with National Taco Day.

A taco can be anything from a taquito to a fried corn tortilla folded in half to a warm flour tortilla, small to burrito size. The filling can be whatever a person wants. More basic it can be, the better. Too much, most of the filling will be on the plate instead.

ice-cold Modelo from the Sunday afternoon BBQ with Amanda (North Ranch, Oct 03 2021)

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper taco fest without the proper beverage. Preferably an ice-cold cerveza, an authentic,  no-name Mexican beer. Dos Equis is brewed in Mexico, but owned by Heineken. Corona, Modelo and Pacifico belong to Grupo Modelo, owned by Constellation Brands. From Mexico, Modelo is the #2 imported beer in the USA. It depends upon the individual palate.

What’s on my plate tonight? Leftovers from the Sunday afternoon BBQ with Amanda and leftover cole slaw from Friday night. Tacos for dinner will come on another day.

Major Win

“It was a matter of time. Tara rode brilliantly this morning. I am so proud of her,” a beaming Elizabeth said. “Cam is the horse of the moment. He’s always been a very solid, very reliable mount for Tara. He did everything Tara asked of him this morning. I can’t be more proud of him too. I am so happy and excited for them both.”

Tara Scott Westin, USA (Traverse City, Sep 18 2021)

The $73,000 1.45m Winning Round CSI5* was the second career start for Tara, Deborah and Elizabeth, first individual career start for them, at this level. While most of everyone expected Elizabeth to notch the first major win, among the three, the one who wasn’t so sure was Elizabeth, herself. “Tara is a fantastic rider. She pushes me hard, I push her hard. Deborah, just as talented. Over the course of this season, there hasn’t been much separation in our finish times.”

Tara, what were you thinking when Elizabeth put up her time, then Deborah comes up a few slots later to tie her? “They weren’t going to make it easy. If Elizabeth rides early in a draw, she will drop the hammer and set the time to beat. This event fits her strategy. There is no jump-off, so you have no choice but go for it.”

And, when Daniel slipped in ahead of Deborah and Elizabeth? “He made it more difficult. But, this is when riding last has its advantages. You know what it’ll take to win, the tempo you need. It’s a matter of going out and execute.”

When did you realize you won? “During the ride, your focus is riding clear. You know your tempo. What you don’t know is your time until it comes up on the scoreboard. When it came up … The best part, it never gets old.”

interview: Tara being interviewed on German TV (Traverse City, Sep 18 2021)

The Trish Factor

All eyes focused on her, leading off for the new team, The Upstarts, to the MLSJ team competition.

When she arrived at Flintfields, hours earlier, she walked through liked she belonged. And, she should. She paid her dues rising through the ranks. Criticized for being a tough competitor when the sport was still heavily male-centric. Moreover, she doesn’t need to prove or explain herself to anyone.

Naturally, she drew a few stares. It was like, “Whoa, who is she?” On the circuit, so few know of her. Many do not. She relishes the role of being an unknown. The few that did know of her, they only know her by reputation. A very selective, top tier coach and instructor who doesn’t coach many riders, and develop even fewer. And, how did three unknown riders were able to attract her to their provisional MLSJ team, to compete no less.

One does not need to see farther than her impressive career stat line, “1,242 career starts and 207 career wins, ranked 12th in the world.” When she left competing, she did so on her own terms.

19 year old Trish with Midnight Majestic (Fayetteville, NC May 1983)
photo courtesy of Trish Van Hollen

Trish Van Hollen burst into the equestrian ranks as a highly regarded junior, with strong fundamentals. Well-schooled, highly disciplined, a very strong skill set. She knew when to be patient, when to put the hammer down. Her three horses, all cast-offs from other jumper programs. She renamed them with Majesty or Majestic in their names.

In her first two seasons, at the Premier AA Level, Trish said she was rather middling in her performance. “I was an average rider with an average skill set. Walker knew I was uncomfortable in the show ring. He asked me, what was wrong. I replied I didn’t know. He just told me to relax. Control the things you can control. The other stuff, ignore. Easier said than done. Looking back, I’d say the pressure was enormous. There were so few girls my age competing at that level.”

She started her third year with much to prove. The USEF was threatening to strip her of the ability to compete at the Premier AA Level. Walker was incensed they would do that to her, but figured girls, women, needed to work twice as hard to belong. “We’ll make it easy for them, Trish. You’ll outwork everyone.”

And, she did prove herself. All the hard work, the hours in the practice ring, began to pay off. Her riding began to gel. She went on a serious tear on the Premier AA circuit. It included an impressive 20-0 run in four weeks in Traverse City. It earned Trish the opportunity to compete for the American Gold Cup. She was a 19 year old upstart, a complete unknown, who didn’t have any CSI starts. Someone thought, “Invite the kid, she’ll have a good ride. Then, send her back to AA knowing she had work to do when she finishes at the bottom.” They didn’t expect Trish and Majestic Summer to dominate the event.

best with the best: Trish with SAM: Secret Agent Man (Traverse City, Sep 18 2021)

Crossing the start timers, Trish, onboard Cold Majesty, quietly and efficiently rode the course. She was giving a master class in how to ride a jumper course. She also laid down a marker. They rode clear, finishing in 69.01, in the qualification round. The best individual time in the round. Better than Elizabeth, her ace rider, who finished clear at 69.77 with the second best individual time.

Two hours later, in the medal round, again Trish quietly and efficiently rode the course. Again, she set the tone. They rode clear finishing at 68.44. Again, with the best individual time in the round. And, again, Elizabeth finishing clear at 68.96 with the second best individual time.

It was said they couldn’t finish any better than fourth place, the position they were in, entering the medal round. They, however, weren’t fading away. Instead, they closed gap to finish a very close second.

They finished with a statement.

Traverse City: Arrivals

The airport has been busy with the arrival of equestrians and their horses. It is literally a who’s of who of top-tier professionals arriving. Several competed in Tokyo; others are fresh from the Longines and Rolex professional tours in Europe. Converging to ride the main event, the American Gold Cup. The atmosphere is quite electric.

While the daughters will not be competing for the gold cup trophy themselves, there are plenty of events on the board.

One of those is the $200,000 MLSJ Team Competition CSI5*. In MLSJ team jumping, the format is the same used in the Olympics. Each team riding the event consists of four riders. Scoring, the three highest count, the lowest dropped. The first round is the qualification round, the second round is the medal round.

To round out their team, Elizabeth, Deborah and Tara needed another rider, with 4* or 5* experience. They only knew one who fits the bill perfectly. They asked Trish if she would come out to compete with them in the team event. Still an active rider, Trish occasionally competes if the event is challenging. It didn’t take long for her to say yes. She flew in early Thursday morning with her horse Cold Majesty. A light practice session followed in the early  evening. While the other teams have been competing on the MLSJ tour, they are new to the fray. They compete on their own terms. Hence the team name, “The Upstarts.”

Trish and Cold Majesty (RRC, Sep 2020)

They are tough. They are strong-willed. And, oh, they are all girls.

Traverse City: American Gold Cup

Partially beneath a sea of blue. In between, a few reds. Above it, the portrait of her beloved chestnut bay, Majestic Summer.

“This is what you are riding for in the future. Everyone talks about Olympic Gold or the World Cup trophy. Nice as they are, this is the one piece of hardware everyone wants to win. The American Gold Cup. One day, each of you will get to lift this cup high in victory. It’ll be your statement that you belong.” They touched the cup much like how a priceless artifact would be touched, barely.

Very few see this room in her home. Riding glory covers every inch. All of it earned by the daughter of a North Carolina stable foreman.

What makes the American Gold Cup different? The course. The competitiveness. The prestige. “A lot makes it different,” Trish explains. “You won’t find another course of its design. Not the Olympics. Not the World Cup Finals. The course is designed to clearly separate the best from the rest of the field. The competitiveness is a who’s who of the best in the world. The prestige is competing among the best.”

the prize: The American Gold Cup (Traverse City, Sep 2020)
photo credit: Elaine Wessel/Phelps Media Group

Previously, the event was held at Old Salem Farm in Westchester County, an hour outside NYC, before moving to Traverse City in 2020.

Traverse City is a blue-collar town. In its harbor, a small fishing fleet which works Grand Traverse Bay, northern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It is also called the cherry capital for an obvious reason. During the summer, it becomes an equestrian town with a decidedly blue-collar feel.

In the early years, it was where a rider could learn their craft. Club, B and C level shows where a rider would gain their experience on Saturday afternoons. Soon, the level of competition began to improve. The upper Midwest was fast becoming the cradle of American equestrians. Traverse City became an important stop in the path of development. Its blue-collar setting allowed those from very modest backgrounds to compete in equestrian sports.

For more than fifty years, Traverse City has featured some of the best showjumping competition. From Premier AA level to CSI5*, every notable professional has competed here. Beezie Madden, Kent Farrington, McClain Ward, Jessica Springsteen, Kelli Cruciotti. And, a certain alumnus named Trish Van Hollen. More recently, it has added Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) to its show portfolio. The MLSJ tour brings 5* competition to North America, with competition at the team and individual levels.

“This is the first time we are competing at this level,” Elizabeth said at the Tuesday afternoon presser. “It sends chills just to be here … where we are walking among the very best in our sport. Whether we belong, whether we can be competitive at this level, long term, only time will tell.” 

Deborah added what they have been able to accomplish this season has been remarkable. “Are we satisfied? Not really. We have been competitive, we have ridden well. By no means are we satisfied. There is room for improvement, to become better riders. Sure, every rider says that, but it is different to make it happen. It takes commitment and giving our best every time we step into the practice ring, every time we step into the show ring.”

There is plenty of x-factor when competing for the gold cup trophy. It has eluded some of the very best in McClain Ward, Shane Sweetnam, Daniel Bluman and Margie Engle. Beezie Madden is a three-time winner. Kent Farrington, two-time winner and defending champion. Mario Deslauriers, Richie Moloney, Devin Ryan, Jessica Springsteen, and Molly Ashe Cawley each have won the trophy. In showjumping, they are the household names, the rock stars of the sport.

The field is pre-selected to represent the fifty best jumpers in the world, at the moment. While Trish believes Elizabeth, Deborah and Tara are ready now, it may take another 2-3 seasons of dominating performances to become part of the select field. “The FEI can be notoriously slow in recognizing fast-rising talent. So, I wouldn’t characterize it as an oversight just yet. They likely have noticed, but want to see if they’re a flash-in-the-pan.” Griffin was disappointed they did not make this year’s field. “They have proven themselves to be very competitive, particularly this season. They’ve shown they can compete with the best and are unafraid of the competition. Clearly, they belong. They just don’t hob-nob with the blueblood crowd in the sport.”

A question was asked about whether going to medical school was a distraction. Tara laughed before answering. “I’m a daughter of a trauma surgeon, certainly the finest, in my estimation. Deborah and Elizabeth, their mom is the best surgical RN around. Growing up, it was ‘Don’t let horses distract you from your studies,’ for the three of us. School is not a distraction while we’re riding and riding is not a distraction while we’re in school.”

The CSI2*/CSI5* American Gold Cup began this morning.

While others are waiting, Elizabeth, onboard SAM: Secret Agent Man, stayed in motion, earning the win in the $5,000 1.40m Jumper Open. The prize money by EquiLine was winner-take-all.

And, so it goes.

Twentieth Anniversary

Most have imagined this, the Twentieth Anniversary, to have been different. A solemn day to remember all that was, all that was lost.

Instead, it is a very bittersweet day. More bitter than sweet. It seems the rest of the nation, the rest of the world has moved on. Those who were directly affected, they need to move on too. The time to grieve is over. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” They are overly sentimental words.

What about those sent in harm’s way? Too many died. We stayed too long. We shouldn’t have been there.

While the last administration and the current administration talk of determination, steadfastness, and commitment, the hurried exit from Afghanistan belies our willingness to abandon parts of the world to tyrants and terrorist elements. “Leave us alone, we’ll leave you alone.” The last administration negotiated a historically bad deal. The current administration, so eager to leave, it was willing to end it all today. “The Global War On Terror is over.”

If you want to know about steadfastness, commitment and courage, please read these posts.

Memorial Day 2018
Memorial Day 2019
Memorial Day 2021

JR and David are two of the best. They believed in the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. If we are unwilling to defend freedom there, we are unwilling to defend it anywhere, including here.