Prof Krishna's USA Visit
(December 2009)

SRA Program Details

I was invited by the Society for Risk Analysis (USA) to conduct a one-day workshop "Risk Management for Movers and Shakers" on Sunday 6th December 2009, and present a paper "Towards a Universal Deca-Scale for Risk Assessment" on Wednesday, 9 December 2009, during their Annual Meeting (6-9 Dec. 2009) at Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Details of the workshop and paper may be found by clicking HERE.

Professor Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Prize Winner and Plenary Luncheon speaker just before my talk (in another -- much smaller hall than the luncheon Ballroom) on Wednesday 9th december, seems to have picked my talk to sit in on (or just wandered in!) before he went on with his itinerary.
I didn't know that Professor Arrow was in the audience at the time ... if I had, I might not have done as well they say I did!
It was only after I returned to Singapore that one of the attendees of the talk, a Mr. Winston Wen Chao from Taiwan sent me the above picture (with the captions subsequently inserted by me!) and let me know that Professor Arrow attended my talk, pointing out that he was the second gentleman from the right of the lady in the red top.
Before I got all excited, I wanted to confirm it, so I sent an e-mail to Professor Arrow at Stanford University. He promptly wrote back, as at right:
Now back to the normal sequence of events ... read on!

Yes, I got to shake Professor Arrow's hand, and even share a joke with him: When I said some inane thing like two old men meeting, he said that compared to him, I was a young man!
-- Photos by Mary Walchuk of SRA

The weather in Baltimore was near freezing; I did not get out of the Conference Venue: The Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, for the entire duration! Picture at left does not do justice to the view from the Hotel dining hall, but it was pretty. Hotel lobby (right) was already decked up for Christmas. Rain and light snow made driving treacherous (below left).
Too many things were going on at the Meeting to take even a fraction of it in!
I did utilise as many opportunities as I could get to attend sessions of my personal interest, namely work-place safety and risk management -- occasionally venturing out to sample other areas, in which I had already peripheral interest: Terrorism, risk perception, risk communication, etc.

I liked the sign at the Registration desk, which said: "There will be a $5.00 Charge for Whining"!
There were poster exhibts (Left) and presentations, round tables and forums.
My workshop was reasonably well attended, on par with the average registration with the other workshops. Sadly a couple of participants could not attend due to the sudden bad weather in the Baltimore region. But those who attended gave a good feedback on it.

They had an Awards Luncheon on Tuesday 8th December, where I, as one of the awardees, sat at the table for International Travel Awards with others from Taiwan, Philippines, and so on.

Highlight of all the Plenary Sessions was the luncheon on the last day (9th) when Professor Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Prize Win-ner for Economics in 1972 (with John Hicks). Shook his hands and had some pictures taken with him.


As for my paper, it was 'standing room only' -- even conceding it was not a large hall to start with! -- which, coming as it did right after the Nobel Prize Winner Professor Arrow's speech and the sumptuous luncheon itself, was quite a thrill for me, as after-lunch speakers among you will understand!
[Now I am wondering whether the crowd was because of Professor Arrow in the room!]

I even managed to finish in 19 out of the 20 minutes given to me! Later questions and comments by those who attended indicated a fair amount of interest in furthering my proposal of globalisation of risk assessment, although any quick action on it seems too good to be true.

A couple of interesting pix along the way:

Right: Child's toilet at Narita (Tokyo, Japan) airport within adult (men's!) toilet.

Note instructions at top, and warnings at bottom [enlarged view on inset] within toilet, including not to ignore child, not to smoke ... I couldn't figure out the bottom left one!


Left: With a lady Airport Security Guard on Segway [two-wheel Personal (or Human) Transporter] used commonly by urban police for answering calls and chasing violators, at Minneapolis airport, en-route home.
I was tempted to ask her to let me stand on it, if not try run it [-- only in the US!] ... but the worry that I may be detained as a potential terrorist kept me from asking!