Posts Tagged ‘texas’
Greetings from lovely White Plains, New York.
I’ve been up here a few days, having flown up to New York City on Monday for a series of meetings.
No sooner had I accompanied my colleague down to baggage claim at JFK than I saw the first reports emerging about the bombings in Boston.
Not long after we heard about the ricin letters.
And then this morning I woke up to the news about the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
It made me sick to my stomach, and my heart goes out to the folks in West.
I drove through there just last weekend on my to Lake Whitney just west of West to play some golf with my father.
Many of the people who live there are of Czech descent, and are known for both their hospitality to travelers and for their scrumptious kolaches.
So I wanted to pass along this “Things You Need to Know About West” list, for I and my colleagues are feeling a little homesick at the moment being up here in the Northeast while all this is going on back on our doorstep in central Texas.
Thankfully, I’ll be heading back home later this afternoon, which means I’ll likely be in a JFK queue instead of reporting on IBM earnings, as I’m normally wont to do on earnings day.
I’ll be sure to do an earnings post when I get back to Texas.
I turned on CNBC this afternoon to catch up on business news just in time to see Texas governor Rick Perry doing a standup interview over at the University of Texas to celebrate Texas’ being chosen for the third time in the past several years as the “America’s Top State for Business.”
According to CNBC’s Scott Cohn, Texas “racked up an impressive 1,604 points out of a possible 2,500,” and had top-10 finishes in “six of our 10 categories of competitiveness.”
Texas has never finished below second place since CNBC started the study in 2007.
This year’s categories, developed in concert with the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness, included the following: “Cost of Doing Business,” “Workforce,” “Quality of Life,” “Infrastructure and Transportation,” “Economy,” “Education,” “Technology and Innovation,” “Business Friendliness,” “Access to Capital,” and “Cost of Living.”
Diving deeper into the results, Texas has the nation’s best “Infrastructure” and improved to second place for “Technology and Innovation,” and boasts the third lowest “Cost of Living.”
On the downside, Texas came in 26th in “Education” and 35th of “Quality of Life,” apparently getting dinged for less available health care and higher property and sales taxes.
Obviously, this is very exciting news here in Austin and across the state of Texas, especially considering the vast diversification we’ve seen of the Texas economy over the past decade. When I was growing up in Texas, energy and oil dominated the economy, but we’ve seen massive investments and innovations in more diverse fields these past 20 years, including high tech, telecommunications, biotechnology and life sciences, health care, and many more, all in a business-friendly (read: less regulation and taxes) climate.
But we’ve still got some work to do, I would submit.
If you’re a person of little means, whatever else you do, don’t get sick here. Texas is not expected to expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance exchange, according to another recent announcement by Governor Perry, and only 31 percent of physicians in Texas accepted Medicaid patients in 2011, according to the Texas Medical Association and as reported in the Texas Tribune.
So, congrats to the great state of Texas…I’m really glad to hear we’re doing a great job of taking care of business…but clearly there’s some work yet to be done in taking better care of our people!
IBM’s been on a roll with the supercomputer situation of late.
Last week, we announced the installation of a Blue Gene supercomputer at Rutgers, and earlier today, we discovered that the IBM Blue Gene supercomputer is coming to my great home state of Texas.
Specifically, IBM announced a partnership with Houston’s Rice University to build the first award-winning IBM Blue Gene supercomputer in Texas.
Rice also announced a related collaboration agreement with the University of Sao Paul (USP) in Brazil to initiate the shared administration and use of the Blue Gene supercomputer, which allows both institutions to share the benefits of the new computing resource.
Now, you all play nice as you go about all that protein folding analysis!
Rice faculty indicated they would be using the Blue Gene to further their own research and to collaborate with academic and industry partners on a broad range of science and engineering questions related to energy, geophysics, basic life sciences, cancer research, personalized medicine and more.
“Collaboration and partnership have a unique place in Rice’s history as a pre-eminent research university, and it is fitting that Rice begins its second century with two innovative partnerships that highlight the university’s commitments to expanding our international reach, strengthening our research and building stronger ties with our home city,” said Rice President David Leebron about the deal.
USP is Brazil’s largest institution of higher education and research, and Rodas said the agreement represents an important bond between Rice and USP. “The joint utilization of the supercomputer by Rice University and USP, much more than a simple sharing of high-tech equipment, means the strength of an effective partnership between both universities,” explained USP President Joao Grandino Rodas.
Unlike the typical desktop or laptop computer, which have a single microprocessor, supercomputers typically contain thousands of processors. This makes them ideal for scientists who study complex problems, because jobs can be divided among all the processors and run in a matter of seconds rather than weeks or months.
Supercomputers are used to simulate things that cannot be reproduced in a laboratory — like Earth’s climate or the collision of galaxies — and to examine vast databases like those used to map underground oil reservoirs or to develop personalized medical treatments.
USP officials said they expect their faculty to use the supercomputer for research ranging from astronomy and weather prediction to particle physics and biotechnology.
In 2009, President Obama recognized IBM and its Blue Gene family of supercomputers with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the most prestigious award in the United States given to leading innovators for technological achievement.
Including the Blue Gene/P, Rice has partnered with IBM to launch three new supercomputers during the past two years that have more than quadrupled Rice’s high-performance computing capabilities.
The addition of the Blue Gene/P doubles the number of supercomputing CPU hours that Rice can offer. The six-rack system contains nearly 25,000 processor cores that are capable of conducting about 84 trillion mathematical computations each second. When fully operational, the system is expected to rank among the world’s 300 fastest supercomputers as measured by the TOP500 supercomputer rankings.
Thanks to my fellow IBMers and other friends who have been asking about the Texas wildfires.
Due to extremely little rain this year, Texas has been in a major drought for the past several months. That, combined with a string of 60+ 100+ degree Fahrenheit days, have made Texas one big tinderbox.
Vast forests are basically fire wood waiting to be consumed. Our state forest service has responded to 181 fires that have burned over 118,000 acres in the last week alone (millions more acres through the course of the past 6 months).
Over the weekend, we had four major fires, including the Bastrop fire (25 miles east of Austin) which spread across 30,000 acres and which destroyed over 600 homes at last count. It also forced the evacuations of at least 5,000 people.
Fortunately, the strong 30+ MPH winds that blew in over the weekend have died down significantly, hopefully making life easier for the extensive army of volunteer and professional firefighters (which we still don’t have enough of).
Me, I will continue to pray for less winds and any rain.
It’s always nice to see an IBM customer win close to home.
Right here, in the heart of Texas, IBM today announced that Southeast Texas Medical Associates (SETMA) is using IBM business analytics software to gain greater insight into hospital readmissions and data that will help identify causes and design interventions. This to prevent patients from having to return to the hospital soon after their discharge.
Not being a big fan of hospitals myself, that’s always a good thing.
Watch this video to learn how IBM’s partnership is helping Beaumont, Texas-based healthcare group SETMA streamline their administrative efforts even as they better serve patients through analytic-driven, outcome-based metrics.
SETMA, a primary healthcare group based in Beaumont, Texas (where my cousin and her family live) has seen significant results working with IBM. In just the first six months of the practice, SETMA has been able to cut the number of patient hospital readmissions by twenty-two percent by helping doctors identify trends. They’ve also been able to assess treatment protocols to support the creation of more comprehensive post-hospital treatment care programs.
Additionally, SETMA physicians have been able to reduce time taken to evaluate patients data prior to treatment from a hours to a second.
According to an October 2010 study titled “Hospital Readmission: Influencing Factors Identified” at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), unplanned hospital readmission within 30 days — occurs in nearly one in five Medicare patients in the US.
These readmissions are not only extremely costly, but it can put the patient at higher risk of increased illness, and in some cases death.
Using Outcome-Based Business Analytics To Improve Healthcare
SETMA is utilizing IBM analytics software to identify the treatment interruptions and causes that lead a patient back into the hospital after discharge.
Physicians are collecting data on specific patient characteristics that did not require re-admission, beyond traditional information to include ethnicity, socioeconomic groups, the follow-up care received, and how much and how quickly they were able to receive that care, against those who were re-admitted for hospital treatment.
Dr. James Holly and the 29 physicians of the SETMA practice have also implemented preventative care programs by analyzing key data of their more than 7,500 patients, including comprehensive background information, demographics, types of treatments, history of prescription care, risk factors and outcomes.
IBM business analytics software enables the doctors to better assess trends in their patients, so they may quickly adjust medications or treatments.
Physicians Evaluating Cardiovascular Risk in One Second vs. an Hour
Prior to implementing its analytics solution, SETMA’s doctors would typically spend upwards of an hour evaluating data on individual patients.
Today, they are evaluating data points of patients with similar conditions across the entire practice, allowing them to evaluate trends and gain valuable insight around more effective ways to manage illness.
SETMA doctors are also calculating cardiovascular risk measures at each and every office visit, something that was typically unheard of before.
What used to take a physician over an hour to sit and calculate just one patient’s score by hand; can now be done in less than a second. With a simple click of the mouse, key data points are instantaneously captured into one report.
For example, a doctor can now point out key risk factors around relative heart age scores, so if the patient is 65 years of age, but is showing a relative heart age of 75 years, it allows the physician to discuss ways in which they can work together to adjust lifestyle choices to regulate those numbers.
In addition, patients are able to view, track and compare their own progress against other patients with similar conditions by providing patients access to data related to their own personal health goals, helping the physician offer a more personalized care environment.
In short, IBM is creating a smarter, more connected healthcare system that delivers better care with fewer mistakes, predicts and prevents diseases, and which empowers people to make better choices.
You can learn more about IBM smarter systems here.
I was sitting here in Austin working away this afternoon, catching up on some email and trolling the news, when the headline hit my desk about former Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson’s death in Lufkin, Texas earlier today.
I was immediately saddened.
Charlie Wilson was a larger-than-life character, but he was also a great American and a great Texan who, through sheer doggedness and determination, helped bolster the mujahideen and overthrow the Soviet Union in the U.S./Soviet proxy war in Afghanistan in the mid-to-late 1980s.
You can read Wilson’s obituary in The New York Times here.
But what you really ought to do is read his book, Charlie Wilson’s War, which Wilson co-authored with writer George Crile.
I had an opportunity to see Wilson speak about his experience arming the mujahideen and helping them overthrow the Soviets at the Texas Book Festival here in Austin earlier in the decade when the book came out, and was simply stunned by the account I read.
Though the movie, made several years later, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, was quite entertaining, the details of Wilson’s adventures and efforts just can’t be done justice, even with that great cast.
You have to read the book to believe Wilson’s experiences as he worked to drive and manipulate the levers of Congress to help arm and provide the support necessary to help overthrow the Soviets, which paved the way to the later dissolution of the U.S.S.R.
My best thoughts and prayers go out to Wilson’s family. He was 76.
That was some serious college football last night.
Though I was obviously rooting for the UT Longhorns, I give great kudos to the Alabama Crimson Tide in their victory. The Tide was definitely on a Roll.
I give many kudos to UT senior QB and Heisman trophy finalist, Colt McCoy, who had to sit back and watch his last game as an active player for the Longhorns from the sidelines after an injury at the start of the game. I know that could not have been easy, but once back from the locker room, there he was, fully suited and cheering on his team.
Also outstanding, freshman QB Garrett Gilbert who got rolled through the 1H of his Walter Mitty-like college football debut before turning it on in the second half to almost send the tide rolling in the other direction.
Without that late 4Q blindside, who knows what might have happened. But due credit also goes to the Alabama defense…those guys were like a human Maginot line last night and all season, but one that you could hardly ever flank.
Regardless of the outcome, I think both teams demonstrated why they both absolutely deserved to be in the BCS Championship game and, in the process, gave all of us a joyride that we’ll certainly not soon forget.
I also enjoyed all the social media smack talk that was going on across the country and around the globe.
I love American college football, and based on the Twitterstream last night, apparently I wasn’t the only one!