Golfism -spring arriving and the sap rises from the root

^o^  a golf ball with angel wings

The ethics and morality that I live by? Golf. Or specifically golfism. It’s the body of customs and practices, some written down in the USGA rules, some not, of waiting your turn, taking your shot, being respectful of other players and expecting treatment in kind, of being able to compete on a level playing field of scientifically calculated handicaps, of justice served to one’s self, of counting every stroke. In planning, executing, and acknowledging your golf shot, there are transcendent moments when you are fully alive and in the moment and the universe pulses in synchrony with your heart and your soul flies with the arcing ball. There is a special place, my friends, that I go to once, maybe twice, a week and it is a golf course. Have you played golf, my friend? I mean really played Golf?



When I wander off the 15th fairway and onto the patio of Janet’s bungalow, and into their living room, it’s not to do all that stuff that everyone assumes is going on. Yes, Bob, Janet’s husband, is frequently away,and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking the same thing. It makes us laugh, Janet and me, because you can see their patio from the course and into every room, and when I walk in, every curtain is wide open. It’s Janet’s attempt at transparency, to show the world, or at least the membership, “Look. No carrying on here. No fucking of any kind. See for yourself.”

Angela, my wife, knew I dropped in on Janet and didn’t seem to mind because I came home stuffed. On those days, I wouldn’t make a mess in the kitchen cooking up something that maybe she’d scarf down in the time it takes to make her diluted instant coffee which she lightened with that corn derived instant creamer.

“I just like the way the coffee tastes,” she’d say. We met going to college at Perdue, and that was how coffee was made when we were kids. Angela was from Iowa and me from Ohio. It was all the things we had in common that made it so easy to move in together after college and marry ten years ago. Both of us grew up eating the Mac and Cheese, fried chicken and mashed potato, meat loaf and iceberg lettuce salads with Thousand Island dressing.

Angela never ventured beyond this small circle of safe foods. She gagged the first time we went to sushi with our friends in Minneapolis. She learned to declare herself full to clients when they went to eat at some trendy place, and would eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich she kept in her purse on the drive home. I had long ago given up trying new dishes on Angela who found even black pepper overwhelmingly spicy.

Angela works in publishing and edited this missive before she left me and Eddie, our standard poodle, despite all the transparency. I found it open on my laptop with all the markups in yellow getting rid of extraneous comments and run-on sentences, which I mostly undid because what does she know about how I feel.

Throughout the three seasons of golf that I had been finishing my round on the 15th hole, I answered any questions Angela had, which were few, and if I lost any details, she could see the pictures on Instagram or make comments on Facebook. She liked every picture I posted. She gave a thumbs up to every description of the various dishes we tried regardless of whether she would have tried it, which she wouldn’t have.

Janet and Bob and Angela and I first met after we joined the club five years ago. Most of the members were older and we naturally gravitated to one another. Bob is a scratch golfer and we played together just once. He is one of those guys that doesn’t say a word on the course, playing a mistake free round that was as uninspired -just straight 200 yard drives, greens in regulation with machine like regularity, and two putts. The only moment of drama came on 18, when he landed in a trap, laid his blast out to 8 feet, and drained the tricky downhill putt with the same unsettling focus. He barely smiled at the congratulations from his gathered audience of duffers. Over beers, he sat drinking a lemon water, and chewed on a few saltines before dismissing himself. I had fish and chips, and the other two fellows were elbow deep in the half pound bacon cheese burgers.

Angela enjoyed Janet’s company, but found it sad that she couldn’t publish her short stories. Angela even sent the best one, a beautifully written, sad story about a dying, crippled girl, to the fiction editor of her company’s premier literature magazine, but got no feedback. Janet spent her time writing and cooking, and as her writing was going nowhere, she poured her imagination into the kitchen. In the stove, she found, a kinder receptacle than the word processor. Janet would have us over when Bob was away, which was most of the time. He did some kind of financial work, and had to be in New York most of the week.

The first time I walked off 15, Janet was waving to me and pointing at a plate of pastries, only they weren’t dessert. They were golden filo dough wrapped around tender beef ensconced in a potage of savory vegetables. I wasn’t hungry, but I walked over. Seeing the feast, I sat down at their patio table and dug in. I snapped a picture, posted it on Instagram, tapping -“this should feel like cheating, it’s so delicious.”

Circe seduced Ulysses, not with her beauty or magic, but with food and made him late getting home. The following week, as I approached my drive which I had sliced into the grass near Janet and Bob’s yard, I saw Janet look up from her kitchen window and wave me in. She asked me about Angela, and mentioned something about having us over that weekend, but that Bob would be in New York again. I invited her over to our house as we were already having some people for cocktails and the Ohio State game. Lots of chicken nuggets, wings, pigs in blankets, light beer, and of course pizza. She asked if I had eaten, and without waiting for a response, brought over a tray of croque monsieur’s cut into decrusted triangles with a bowl of homemade onion soup -the dark rich broth redolent of caramelized onions that she had grown herself. Picture snapped. Food perfect. Lots of likes.

It became a routine, one that Angela and I joked about. If it bothered her, it was apparent only once when I brought home a bit of pot au feu. She wrinkled her nose and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with her Wonder bread, eating it with a glass of milk standing up in the kitchen as I finished off the stew with a New Zealand Shiraz blend. I never did that again.

The only time there was some tension at Janet’s was last week, when we were laughing over a wonderful Malaysian inspired spring noodle dish with pan seared duck. She got a call from Bob who said he would be stuck in New York over the weekend. He was on speaker and he said hi. After he hung up, Janet sat down without losing a beat and jumped back into our conversation about some local political issue. Then, without warning, she reached over and grabbed my hand and pressed it to her chest. I smiled, mumbled thank you, and retreated back to the fifteenth hole, resuming my round.

Bob cancelled his meetings later that week, and I ran into them at the clubhouse walking in for dinner. Janet was clinging to Bob’s arm. The house is so quiet now without Angela’s FM station blaring from her office. Eddie clearly misses her, and I’m getting hungry.

copyright 2015 W Michael Park

Metrics of Asian American Racial Progress

ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat is premiering in the New Year and it makes me think that mainstream media again is trying to figure out how to portray Asians not as sidekicks, comic relief, faceless hordes, sinister but emasculated male villains, or hyper-sexualized dragon ladies. It represents a reboot of this effort. The first time they tried almost a generation ago with Margaret Cho’s All American Girl. That show was broken by the network’s demands that Cho be more Asian doll sexy and the jokes more relatable (racist) to an audience not aware of Asian American culture. I propose the following metrics of Asian American racial progress.

1. The number of Asian American male leads in mainstream American television and cinema with top billing. Randall Park didn’t get equal billing as James Franco and Seth Rogen even though he had to carry the comedic load in much of the Interview. Selfie’s John Cho is one person, who I guess ironically is our Sidney Poitier, but the show got axed just as it was getting decent.

2. The amount of time it takes your Asian American child to face racism by one of his peers after day one of kindergarten.

3. The quality of the local Asian food -is it a world class eatery with an enigmatic monosyllabillic name or is it Chopstick Charlie’s. Are there authentic Asian items on the store shelves or just pale “Oriental” facsimiles? Are there bearded white hipsters non ironically crafting obscure regional kimchis?

4. The number of buildings at Harvard with Asian names. Famously, Harvard turned down the Wang family’s generous offer of a huge donation in exchange for renaming North House in the late 80’s, saying that North House -named for a compass direction, was to stay that way out of tradition. Less than ten years later it gets renamed Pforsheimer House. I guess it isn’t our turn.

5. The ratio of Asian men marrying non-Asian women in proportion to the Asian women marrying non-Asian men.

6. The frequency of having to school non-Asians in how to eat the food, in what the differences are between Asian countries, and why we can speak without chopsocky accents. And why we find “Oriental” to be mildly offensive.

7. The number of Asian Not Ready for Prime Time Players on Saturday Night Live. Yellowface is just as offensive as Blackface.

8. The number of times in a year when the politically correct social media rage machine eats a celebrity or politician for making a racist anti Asian comment with the same kind of vigor with which it destroys someone making a racist anti Black, anti Woman, or anti Semitic comment or joke.

9. The number of Asians shaping and directing mainstream American culture.

10. The number of Asian American Presidents of the United States.

What Good is a Stinkin’ iPad?


My good friend SY wrote me yesterday asking basically, “what good is a stinkin’ iPad?”

Hi Mike!

How are you??
My husband and I bought an iPad for my dad, but he decided he didn’t really have use for it (i.e. he uses his laptop and his phone and can’t get Java to work on the iPad so he can’t play ba-dook on it).

So now we are deciding whether to take it back or keep it for us–How useful is it really? You can’t edit documents or talks on it can you? Is it good for taking notes at conferences? Isn’t the wireless plan expensive on it? I pretty much bring my Mac everywhere with me, but I’m not sure it’s more than an indulgent toy for us.


I wrote back.

Hi Sung Yun. I have been asked this same question many times and can answer in the affirmative that tablets are overall great for reading and looking at stuff on. For editing and taking notes, it depends on what you are used to. And for portability, tablets>laptops. Tablets in general get a lot done, and of the tablet choices that you have, the iPad is still, for now, the best tablet a lot of money can buy.

I went all in when the first iPad came out, buying not one but two iPads. It occurred to me from the start that the pain of lugging my 15 inch Macbook Pro was soon to be relieved by the magic iPad, but I was worried that I would not be able to multitask. I normally keep several desktops and multiple windows going at the same time on my laptop, and to get a similar functionality from tablets, I feel you have to have multiple tablets. I also figured two iPads were still more portable than a single Macbook Pro (2007 issue).

The first great use of the iPad was as a reader. I own several Kindles and while I love reading books on my Kindle Paper White 3G, I equally enjoy reading them on the larger screen of my iPad. The skeuomorphic iBooks with their faux page turns are fun, but the iPad Kindle App with an Amazon Prime Account is reading heaven. Toss in FreeBooks app that feature everything out of copyright, and you have a public library in portable form. Overdrive reader app lets you access your local public library -you can look up and check out eBooks from your library! If you read magazines, most magazines feature an iPad App. Harder to find magazines can be found in newsstands like Zinio, but the killer app for magazines is Next Issue which for a monthly 8 to 15 dollars features hundreds of magazines like Esquire, Time, and People. I can’t live without my New Yorker magazine, and now rather than a mess of magazines around the house, they are all in my iPad.

The next use of the iPad is as a portable widescreen TV. While iTunes lets you purchase and then download movies and TV shows from iCloud onto your Mac, AppleTV, or iOS device (iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone), the streaming app trio of Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime gives you access to thousands of current and vintage movies and television shows. Hulu Plus, a monthly subscription, gives me access to every episode of South Park, the Daily Show, Colbert Report, Community, and The New Girl. It also features the Criterion Collection of critically acclaimed but difficult to find foreign films -I am in the midst of watching Riso Amaro (Bitter Rice), an Italian post war film of lust and crime in the Italian rice paddies. Movies-Riso_AmaroNetflix has a great selection of movies and TV shows as well, and the ability to have DVD’s mailed to you. Amazon Prime’s video player also features many recently released films for streaming, and beats iTunes by letting you stream rather than download then watch rental movies. Amazon also has every Ken Burns documentary, if that is your thing.

These two features are the core of how the adults in the house use the iPad. Jen enjoys watching Downton Abbey in the bed while I read the NY Times and listen to Paloma Faith on Spotify. The NPR app, by the way, lets you listen to all the NPR that you missed during your busy day. The boys love watching their shows anywhere, anytime. The funny thing is, because we watch shows on our terms, the TV goes the whole week without being turned on except for family movie night or when dad watches sports. During baseball season, by the way, I buy an MLB season ticket to watch major league baseball games -usually as a ten minute summary of outs and hits the next morning, but often I stream the live radio broadcast just to hear John Sterling howl, “Yaaaaaaankeeeees Winnn!”

The third feature is up to you to decide if you want in the house. The iPad is a great gaming platform. While not as immersive or complicated as an XBox, Wii, or Playstation, games on the iPad are no less fun or addictive. Words with Friends pops on a larger screen. Pinball is a great stress reducer. My boys play all manner of games -most of which are free or cost 99 cents which is a lot cheaper than the average XBox game.

The utility of tablets is that eliminating the keyboard frees you to interact with the computer in a far more natural way. Drawing and music creation are two ways I put mileage on the iPad. My favorite art app, Paper, was the App Store’s App of the Year last year, and I doodle constantly. The Brushes app is used by David Hockney and other artists to create serious art. I frequently use Adobe Ideas to sketch on top of CT scans for patient consultations.

For note taking, there are innumerable apps for taking freehand notes and the better ones allow you to record the presenter’s audio synced to your notes. My favorite second brain app is Evernote which lets me data dump important files, notes, and ideas for access across all my gadgets. If you type fast, you probably aren’t going to change note taking tasks but I have to mention that it’s less intrusive to write notes on iPad than click clack away on a keyboard.

This brings me to the last part -work. I composed this blog entry on an iPad using the Logitech Slim Keyboard Case, which I recently reviewed. It turns the iPad into basically what the Microsoft Surface wants to be, a post-laptop work device. While Office for iOS isn’t out in the wild yet and probably never will be, there are many options for writing and editing. Pages is a good word processor, but Word is more universal and more importantly has collaborative editing and version control that is superior to anything on iOS. That said, Pages is unmatched in its ability to layout documents. That’s how I use it -after composing the content in a simple text processor like iA Writer, I open up and prettify it in Pages and save it as a Word file for sending out.

For presentations, Keynote is how I make all my presentations. I can make them on the fly during and after cases to present complex operations to patients and their families. You can export into Powerpoint or PDF, but equally powerful is the ability to present directly off your iPad, either via a cable or wirelessly to an AppleTV (an unpromoted feature). The usual way I create presentations is I upload all the pictures and graphics to a Dropbox folder and then compose the presentation on my iPad after taking intraop photos with my iPod Touch or iPhone. I’ve uploaded a sample presentation SFA-POP-Tibioperoneal Trunk EndoRE that I created right after a case for explaining what I did for a patient’s family.

The wireless plan is pricey if you’re not needing it, but I find it indispensable because my iPad 3 with Verizon 4G has a hotspot function which will allow me to tether other devices like a Macbook Pro or iPod Touch at high speeds. The typical use scenario is on long car trips where the iPad is the hotspot for streaming video to the boy’s tablets and I listen to This American Life episodes (every episode ever is available on their app). In a pinch, the iPad can act as a ridiculously large phone via the Line 2 app, which gives me a phone number (in Manhattan no less) for non-work use.

Now here is the last tip -I suggest you trade in your iPad for an iPad Mini with Verizon Wireless. The big screen is great, but impossible to carry around the hospital in a white coat. The 8 inch size fits perfectly. I’m holding out for the retina display iPad Mini which hopefully is next. For now, my Android Tablets fulfill this in the pocket function, and match the iPad largely feature for feature except for speed (they are older single processor devices) and ease of use. I think if you are adventuresome, the Nexus 7 is probably hits the sweetspot of price (about 200 bucks) and size (fits white coat pocket), but for cheaper, you don’t get the cellular wireless or nifty form factor, and you have to geek out on Android.

Hope that helps.




The day has arrived when I get to swap out my Blackberry 9930 for an iPhone 5. I had given up using the Blackberry as anything but a text/phone device because getting on the Internet was tricky at best. The 9930 is a device conceived by a committee of people who don’t understand how people use technology. I used my iPod Touch as a daily communicator and Internet surfer over the BB 9930. Fact is I had high hopes over its beautiful screen and okay keyboard but these could not overwhelm sheer misery in the browser, email (yes email) and paucity of apps to get things done. Goodbye.

Our Jackie Robinson


Jeremy Lin is not basketball’s Tebow. He’s a barrier breaking Jackie Robinson for Asian- and Harvard-Americans. For years, all they thought we could do was be attorneys or urologists, but this shows there is more than one way to pass the rock. Now scouts will have to notice that non-black, non-Croatian dude dribbling the ball so well with the four color pen in his short pocket. Asian Harvard-Americans from Orange County to Westchester County are rejoicing. Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last.

Living Fossils


This rock on a Pacific coast beach was weathered over thousands of years, and revealed within its sandstone this harder rock which is likely the fossilized remnant of an ancient coral or related creature. It reminded me that we have these fossils within our own DNA.

It was recently revealed that up to 2-3 percent of the genome of non-Africans have Neanderthal genes and a third human species, the Denisovans were found to be lurking. But this is just the recent past, being merely 20-50,000 year distant.

I was reviewing the lymphatic system in our bodies –it is the often overlooked third blood vessel system after arteries and veins, and its roots are older than either being present in our distant relations, the tunicates. Where arteries and veins are connected in a closed loop, the lymphatics are open to the extracellular space, and once in the past, to the ocean. This link to primitive chordates goes back nearly half a billion years.

They are now saying that there may be millions if not billions of earth like planets around middle aged stars, even in just this galaxy alone. Over cosmic time, and given those numbers of planets, it is a statistical certainty that life is common and not rare.

This feeling that life is a rare circumstance in an otherwise sterile universe has its roots in the narcissism of an idiot. The assumption that our clever ideas, petty jealousies, and unending appetites are unique is from the cosmic hayseed’s provincialism that gives certainty to the notion that a hundred years is a long time and that the universe disappears when you shut your eyes.

Starting from a single cell, our complexity is layered on like a gobstopper. Our DNA is not just a blueprint, but also a blog of life over three billion years. We are living fossils.


The fossil pictured above is Tiktaalik, a lobed finned fish from the Devonian. What it has that is unique is that it has a humerus, radius, and ulna along with shoulder, elbow and wrist that is the rubrik for all land vertebrates. The pattern of one bone with two distal bones are what we experience every time we eat chicken wings, and we owe  it to this class of fish which may be a direct ancestor or closely related to it.

Tilted Sideways, a Colander of Death


The tragedy in Italy comes so soon after our cruise vacation that I felt compelled to comment. We were passengers aboard the Ruby Princess over Christmas. It is in many respects a sister ship to the unfortunate Costa Concordia, built by the same ship builder with similar tonnage and sibling like launch dates (2006 and 2008). The thing that struck me about our voyage was this: it was very clear that the ship was well run. The ship’s commander was Commodore Giuseppe Romano, whom we briefly met. The whole ship ran with obvious discipline with the first order of business on leaving Ft. Lauderdale being an evacuation drill where we understood the series of events in the event of a disaster before the first shrimp cocktail was served. During the cruise, there were several crew based drills, and I could appreciate the importance of top down leadership.

This is further contrasted by the events last week in Italy, which will be studied extensively, not just in a court of law, but in business schools as a case study of poor leadership. Bad decisions and bad discipline compounded by the elements made this the perfect example of why we have rules and expectations about professionals and their behavior. It also is a sobering reminder of how far we’ve strayed from chivalric ideals of women and children first. In a classroom, the idea of chivalry can be seen as revanchist, antiquarian, vestigial, and oppressive, but in the scrum of a mob climbing towards a lifeboat, the reports of grown men cutting in line, stripping life jackets from pregnant women, and abandoning the disabled all headed by this captain illustrates something.

It’s the death of honor.

Egg in a Basket -from V is for Vendetta movie


Inspired by the egg dish in V is for Vendetta, it was called eggy in a basket. The circular toast that comes out of the center is fun for eating yourself or for toddlers. Want to know from my UK friends if this actually exists as a breakfast dish.