Saturday, May 31, 2008


Once upon a time a very wise man was walking along the beach; the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a stunning woman dancing … well, it looked like she was dancing. As this wise gentleman came a little closer, he noticed that the figure in question was not dancing at all … she was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the sea.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The lady paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?"

To this, the young lady replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

As she bent down and picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean … she said: "Hello Wise Man … It matters to this one.”

Profiles in Courage, a KBTVonline Productions web series, puts faces on people who are making a difference—one starfish at a time.

So often we look at the despair and suffering and great need all around us, and—overwhelmed—we look away, feeling helpless, powerless to help change “the way things are.” More often, busy in our own lives, we are not even aware of the terrible things happening to the people who share our world – half of the people in our world … live on less than one dollar a day.

Through this series of profiles, we hope to raise awareness of the great need for people to become involved in changing their world. We hope to encourage people to be courageous and, like Rigoberto Perez, to take the most difficult step of all—the very first one.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Physicians for Peace

My last piece about embarking on my mission with Physicians for Peace in Guatemala was the set-up. That was the news hit; now comes the meat.

I was quickly introduced to two serious problems facing children in this developing country: severe burns and lost limbs. But I saw hope. And a solution provided by dedicated doctors and medical practitioners with Physicians for Peace.

What has these volunteers from places sometimes facing bitter divides and even violence working so well together? A dire need. The developing world carries 90 percent of the global disease burden yet has only 10 percent of the medical resources, according to the United Nations Foundation. And most of these diseases are curable. Here in the United States, we’ve been able to receive these treatments since the 1950s.

In spite of the acute problems with our healthcare system, we do have access to many medical procedures not available in poorer countries. When, for example, the eighteen-month–old son of a poor, single mother in South Carolina fell into a fire and severely burned his hands (the son of a friend of my mother’s), he was taken to a Georgia burn center forty-five minutes away. He was then treated and then received follow-up care.

What happens to babies in Guatemala is quite the opposite. They get burned, and if they’re lucky, they receive treatment within 24 hours. Then these children and their caretakers often have to travel 12 hours – door to door -- for an aftercare rehabilitation.

As a result of PFP’s efforts, medical personnel are trained in the latest burn protocol. For example, medical students from the School of Medicine of the Francisco Morroquin University rotate in their sixth year to a village that I will be profiling in my inaugural series. It's set in Guatemala City, with PFP, where they make calls in the health center which is open 24 hours a day – all year round. I spoke to a resident named Alex, who had some fascinating thoughts on why young children end up so badly burned.

Don’t forget to tune in on June 1 for the inaugural series of “Profiles in Courage” … you can tune in on or at

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Profiles in Courage

I think it’s time for me to tell everyone about my new show. It’s called “Profiles in Courage.” It’s dedicated to telling untold stories, raising awareness about often painful issues that are habitually ignored, and profiling the heroes dedicated to helping those less fortunate.

My first series of webisodes takes place in Guatemala where I joined a mission set up by an organization called Physicians for Peace. PFP is an international humanitarian non-profit medical education organization based in Norfolk, Virginia.

PFP is headed up by Retired Brigadier General Ron Sconyers, who now serves as its CEO. Sconyers turned down an almost requisite opportunity for a lucrative consulting job in Washington to head up this non-profit dedicated to training medical professionals in third world countries.

I saw Sconyers for the first time at a reception at a private home in Palm Beach, Florida. I was there ... just by chance … joining a friend … bored to tears … when suddenly Sconyers stood up and launched into a passionate pitch for Physicians for Peace. I had never heard of it. I listened closely. He closed with the following statement: “If you give a man a fish … he will eat for a day … if you teach a man to fish … he can feed himself for a lifetime.” I was intrigued. Within a week, I had aired a KBTV episode about PFP and this non-profit organization’s efforts to further the cause of international goodwill by sending in teams of medical volunteers who specialize in areas of care that a specific country needs most.

These teams will stay from one to six weeks. During that time they train local medical professionals and begin a variety of medical programs, which the host country sustains and replicates. They also offer their expertise by treating the people. They reshape eye sockets, correct urinary and genital defects, fit prosthetic limbs, and repair burn scars and clef palates. They’ve even done open-heart surgery and performed a range of cancer therapies.

After my story aired, Sconyers invited me to join the PFP team on a mission to several clinics and a major hospital in Guatemala to help patients with pediatric burns and constructing and fitting prosthetic limbs for children.

So last week I joined a whole host of volunteers from all over the United States and headed over to Guatemala. My series is set to begin airing on June 1.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Virgin America ROCKS!

Just before I left for Guatemala I headed north for a meeting with the editorial group at Youtube about my new show – no longer called KateInLA – it will now be called “Profiles in Courage.” I also met briefly with Business Development.

My best friend Erika told me about Virgin America – she said everyone she speaks to is raving about it.

Well, there was a bit of a snafu on my flight going out; I had to run to United, then bribe the bus driver $10 to take me over to Southwest … argh! South WORST!

But on the way home, they compensated me by giving me a First Class ticket for $50, plus access to the First Class Lounge!

Take a look at these pictures!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Florida: Here I come!

It all began innocently. I think it all began innocently. You see I had thought that I had wanted to go back to writing – and I was searching around for some way to re-sink my claws and paws into a project. But I wasn’t sure. That I remember; I wasn’t sure.

I had co-authored Donald Trump’s “Trump: The Art of the Comeback” – and we had reached pretty healthy levels of success, hitting #1 on the Wall Street Journal’s Best Seller list and #3 with the New York Times' prestigious list.

The short, official story, is that I had burnt out in New York and came to Florida to recharge my engine. There are and have been other stories that have circulated.

The “official” story is that I thought I’d live the life of an artiste – barefoot, sun-kissed, stroking a big black Labrador, perched under a palm tree, outlining the next chapter of my new project. It would be an ambitious tome detailing the a ruthless Titan of Industry’s creation of wealth, a memoir that he didn’t have time to write, but wanted to say he had anyway. I had gotten a call from one of my editors at George Magazine. He had told me there was a book in the works about this Titan of Industry and that his agent at William Morris had told him that I was on the short list – of a list of 5 writers. Well, actually ghost writers – not exactly as illustrious as being a writer. But, suffice it to say – I listened. Florida + This Project = Better Life.

My mind drifts back. How did I end up in Florida in the first place?

It was an icy evening in mid December. My Holiday red and gold lame Versace gown hung like a smock on my rail thin frame. The firm’s Christmas party, again. What a chore. Another year, I thought, I’m just not sure if I can do this. I break into a Hollywood smile and push through the revolving doors of Doubles, in the basement of the Sherry Netherland in the Pierre Hotel on 60th and Fifth Avenue, the last bona fide private club in Manhattan. The sea of faces slowly came into focus. Ah, Walter, our corporate counsel. There’s Mitch, the comptroller, and conceivably the only person at the firm whom I liked anymore. Certainly the only colleague whom I’d eat lunch with. Then I saw them, the two aging, unctuous, haughty board members. I loathed them only slightly less than their wives. Be charming, Kate, please. It’s only one evening. You can do it. “Hello!” I waved pleasurably and ambled across to their table. “Can I get you all a glass of champagne?”

It was 2005, the firm’s Christmas party. As the horns in the swing band whined, the aging dined, and the corporate glitterati wined, I become what felt like the omniscient narrator of my own story. I watched myself from above mingling in the crowd, nibbling on hors d’oeuvres, smiling politely and making pleasantries. Then suddenly, the crescendo of the horn section became a near screech, the room started to spin – around and around like a ride in an amusement park – until I found myself standing in the middle of the dance floor bewildered and faint. I looked up and thought: There is no one in this entire room that I ever want to break bread with – let alone speak to – ever again. I picked up my sequined bag, slipped my mink stole over my shoulders, walked out, and raised my hand signaling for a cab. As I marched past my doorman at 141 East 56th Street, I turned around and simply said: “Julio, I’m done.” Three weeks later, I’d moved to Florida.

It took me five months and two writing projects to figure out that I was achingly bored. My real problem was that I kept fibbing about it – and I’m not terribly effective at masking tedium, which gets me into heaps of trouble at cocktail parties. I was bored and anyone who met me knew it. Although if anyone dared suggest it to me, I would retort with a weary combination of indignant half-truths, and withering excuses, which gave the air of “Thou doth protest too much!”

That’s when I got the e-mail:

Kate...basically I think there is an opportunity for a new voice/personality on the Internet; each technology creates at least one.

Charlie Rose and Larry King in their 60’s; a new set of such personalities are developing now. The idea of KBTV would be to produce 3 minute segments on a set of subjects that you really care a lot about, upload them to Youtube and its competitors, and use the viral nature of the web to develop a new audience. The data says that such audiences prefer short, humor, quirky and are very personality driven. In your case the content plus you should really work in this medium! The shows could be produced on a balcony with the ocean behind you (with some front lighting) and you could do all of it yourself to start with and see what works. All you would need is a camera, Macintosh and a light/microphone. The uploads would refer to your website for more info/more depth..

I was intrigued. What an opportunity, I thought! I’ll become a video blogger in South Florida. Hmmm. That’s different. Sounds exciting! And on a shoe-string budget. How romantic! I immediately sent out a much copied (and subsequently forwarded) e-mail announcing my new career opportunity!

The only push back I remember getting was from an old friend at The Wall Street Journal.

“Kate … Whhhat? Videoblogging on YouTube at your age?”

Stay tuned for why I moved to Santa Monica!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Carma … not Karma!

As I mentioned in a prior blog, I’ve been attending a lecture series at Caltech University. The subject of the last lecture was a talk by Stephen Hawking on The Black Hole. Fascinating … I loved it (see blog dateTK)

Well, last Wednesday morning I looked on the “Calendar of Events” and I saw that this week’s Caltech lecture was to be on Karma. Except it was spelled Carma. Hmmm. I told my friend Kat: “Hey I love Karma stuff … want to come to the lecture with me?”

She said: “Great!”

So we set off in the hideous traffic to head over to Pasadena to hear about Karma. Well it was something entirely different because it wasn’t Karma – there hadn’t been a typo in the brochure – it was CARMA.

CARMA means Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy – not KARMA … the (according to Wikipedia) (Sanskrit: kárma … kárman- "act, action, performance"[1]; Pali: kamma) the concept of "action" or "deed" in Indian religions understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect (i.e., the cycle called samsara) described in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies.

This is what OUR lecture was all about. Professor Anneila I. Sargent was at the podium answering the following questions …

What do astronomers do when they find that the telescopes they are using limit their ability to address questions about how stars and planetary systems form or how galaxies originate and evolve? They try to build a bigger, better instruments!

Over the last few years, Caltech radio astronomers have moved their Owens Valley Radio Observatory millimeter-wave array of telescopes to Cedar Flat in the Inyo Mountains of California. There, the Caltech antennas have been connected with others from the Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland array to create CARMA, the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy. The higher elevation of Cedar Flat, the larger number of telescopes working together, and a series of upgrades and innovations make CARMA a novel and exciting new instrument that will provide new views of the universe.

For most of the lecture, I didn’t have a clue as to what she was talking about … but the pictures of the telescopes were fascinating

For more information on all of this, the Web site is captivating …