Monday, June 30, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.


I'm sure I've written about this song - as I know I have written about John Denver. I'm off today for another trip. That will be 8 flights in 14 days. Just super for someone who's afraid of flying!

They say John Denver wrote this song while on a layover in Washington (must have been Dulles - no one connects through National).

All the more fitting since that is my city of departure and return.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Hospital

It's that time of the week - injecting a little geographic exploration into an otherwise sedentary life.


It's Wednesday so I thought I would make this entry about travel - and as I'm currently in Haiti, this is the topic. Rather than give you my impressions after having been here only a few days, and also having had a rather confined existence, instead I will take you on a tour of the University Hospital that I visited today. Small patch of earth, but a big tour in other ways.

We went to learn more about their monitoring and evaluation systems - in layman's terms, we were interested in data. Collection, storage, use.

Our visit was focused on HIV and thus, the tour I describe takes place almost entirely in that area of the hospital - with the exceptions noted below.

We began by walking through the waiting area for HIV services. Packed to gills but thankfully chairs and a TV provided by the US! The TV was supposed to have a loop of health education videos but I think someone had changed it to soccer (futbol). Forget about privacy or confidentiality here. You are here for one reason and one reason only - you suspect you have HIV or you know you do.

Next we visited the counseling & testing area. A room full of chairs for those receiving pre-test counseling - a group exercise. A small room for testing, a small room for post-test counseling. You could smell the fresh paint in the Haitian heat.

Next we went to the service areas down the hall - a room for internal medicine, one for pediatrics, one for M&E folks like myself. Some additional rooms for similar activities. They are expanding - doubling the number of rooms to accommodate the increased patient load.

After a tour of the HIV ward we went over to the maternal and child health area - where mothers and children, regardless of HIV status (known or unknown) came in for services. Lots of moms waiting on chairs with sleepy sloth-like infants on their laps. The sweetest faces you'll ever see.

And after that it was the pediatric ward - children in rooms with paint peeling off the walls. Mothers attending to them. A few nurses to adminster medicines. In another room, babies in bassinets, tubes coming out of their tiny little bodies. None above 3lbs. This was the special section for infants whose mothers are HIV-positive. Their status is unknown.

I have to stop writing now. I need a drink.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Officer and a Bride

This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.


We went to a BEAUTIFUL wedding this weekend in Vermont. The ceremony had a number of guests in dress navy uniforms, and one very impressive looking marine, also in dress uniform. And most notably, the groom in his dress uniform - bright white - even his shoes!

The reception was held on a private "farm" - really just several acres of grassy hills overlooking the lake. Stunning.

We drank and ate and drank some more and danced till our feet killed us (I'm going to need knee replacement surgery after this one). Plenty of 80's tunes, a smattering of Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen (both of whom have come out in support of a certain candidate associated with the wedding party), lots of Madonna, etc.

As the night wound down I kept waiting for a certain song to play. Surely it had to be the last song. I kept waiting.... nope. Guess not. Though it would have been so perfect, and perfectly hokey.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


It's that time of the week - injecting a little geographic exploration into an otherwise sedentary life.


From one extreme to the other. A couple of weeks ago I was in a lush, chilly climate with abundant natural beauty and a bit too much food. Next week it's off to the polar opposite - a deforested, hot climate with not such pretty scenery and a severe food crisis. Off to Haiti. But not before a brief weekend in Vermont for a friend's wedding.

For my job I'm supporting the work of our team (and a few other countries, but info on those will come at a later date). I'll be honest, I had to sort of be coerced into taking on this country. I was the only person on our team who spoke French - and I'm far far far from fluent. But there it is, my asset turns out to be a fatal flaw.

I've spent the past few months reading up on the place and am now pretty excited about my adventure. In addition to the expediter who will get me through the airport upon my arrival, I'll be driven around in a LAM (lightly armored vehicle) and prohibited from going anywhere on my own. It's a weird sort of existence.

As much as I love the airport expediter (would love that here in the US!) the rest of it is a bit unsettling - a fancy new hotel, plentiful and tasty food, frigid air-conditioning. Strange situation to be in when food riots make the evening news at home.

Despite all the dire news, there are some real things to get excited about. For instance:

* the HIV prevalence rate has fallen in the past few years from 3.6% to 2.2% - all in the face of increasing poverty and social unrest. And even as high as that rate is (Europe is .3 and the US .6) that's a lot lower than other countries who are much more prosperous (Botswana, South Africa...)

Should be an interesting trip - I'll post more when I return

à bientôt!

Monday, June 16, 2008

McCain Gets Crabs

This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.


I had another one of those classic Washington weekends. On Saturday morning I went to the farmers' market and in the afternoon watched the Gay Pride parade in our neighborhood. Sunday, we drove out to Annapolis for a summer day in the sun.

Our destination yesterday was a famous seafood place - the kind of place that really smells like fish. The tablecloths are brown paper and instead of a knife and fork you get a hammer with your food.

As we sat waiting for a table (because you know a place like this doesn't take reservations) we noticed a couple of big Suburbans idling in the parking lot. At $4/gallon on a hot June day that was quite the investment in oil. We then noticed a common sighting in DC - men with earpieces.

Must be someone BIG in there. Yep, John McCain walks out and hops into one of the cars and it drives away. It's like they always say, so much different looking in person...

and don't forget to check out:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fruits of My Labor

Went to the farmers' market yesterday and got fresh strawberries.
And look what I made...

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm going to the farmers' market for...


For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


It's that time of the week - injecting a little geographic exploration into an otherwise sedentary life.


I've been a bit slow to recap on Alaska - it was a great trip and I have hundreds of photos to post so it's tough choosing among them.

Luckily, due in part to SMID's haranguing, I have become much better about actually taking photos. I used to go places and just not bother. Not so much not bother, but rather, not know what to do. So many of the places I go to don't really lend themselves to tourist photos. I specialize in proof-that-I've-been-there photos. Like crime scenes.

So after many years of not taking photos of marketplaces (how do you capture the smells?) and villages (how do you capture the dust?) I have made a concerted effort to take any photos. Digital cameras help too. I love being able to see if I got the right shot and retaking it several (several) times.

I can't post all the postcard pictures here so let me just focus on a few things:

1. Alaska is prehistoric. I don't mean there are dinosaurs roaming the streets. But looking at the HUGE snow-capped mountains and glaciers you definitely get a sense that this place was formed by continents splitting and crashing thousands of years ago.

2. Alaska is isolated. For much of the state, and some of the "bigger" towns there is no way in or out but by plane or boat. Or as one of our biking guides said "I s'pose you could hike".

3. Alaska is warm. 50-60 degree temps and all I needed were a couple of t-shirts and a light jacket. We had our cold days, but nothing worse than a summer in San Francisco (as Mark Twain would say). Oh, and the people are warm too.

Monday, June 09, 2008

We're Having a Heatwave...

This post brought to you by Soccer Mom in Denial - posting every Monday on a different musical memory.


A tropical heatwave.

Is this your weather forecast?

Tomorrow: Hazy sun, very hot and humid with the temperature approaching the record of 102 set in 1874

Saturday, June 07, 2008

DC Weather Report...


For more Singular Saturdays go visit Jenn in Holland.

and I'm on Looking Into again! It's Flower Week!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dateline Klondike

It's that time of the week - injecting a little geographic exploration into an otherwise sedentary life.


Okay - just back from Alaska. Lots of travel tales in there but for right now I'm tired and have to go to bed.

Here's something to occupy you until I get the chance to post.