The Adventure Continues...

Rants, raves and random observations from an itinerant epidemiologist.

100 in 1000
  1. Spend a week up a mountain learning to ski
  2. Visit Karoline's place in Moravia
  3. Hold a conversation in Czech (only)
  4. Drink 500ml of each of the following beers:
    1. Pilsner
    2. Staroprammen
    3. Budvar
    4. Velke Popovice
    5. U Fleku
    6. Gambrinus
    7. Krusovice
  5. Respond to at least one GOARN request (WHO and MSF are also acceptable)
  6. Travel across the Atlantic
  7. Return to South America
  8. Read a book to, or with, an impressionably aged child
  9. Participate in one NanoWriMo Challenge and come within at least 10,000 words of the goal length
  10. Have my nose pierced
  11. Have my next tattoo drawn
  12. Purchase the perfect jeans (x 2 pairs)
  13. Attend a spin class 3 times a week for 8 consecutive weeks
  14. Bake Viv's cheesecake
  15. Make David's casserole
  16. Make David's Chicken Cashew-nut Stirfry
  17. Invite 4 people who don't know one another too well to dinner
  18. Ride from Vienna to Venice on a motorbike (pillion acceptable, those less desirable)
  19. Attend a book group for at least two books
  20. Go on a choir weekend (learn and perform difficult piece in two/three days)
  21. Visit Madame Tussaud's (in London)
  22. Take an architecture appreciation course
  23. Join an all-girl group and sing a solo
  24. Publish in a scientific journal (top two authors)
  25. Cook a duck or other 'waterfowl'.
  26. Locate the Al-Timimi's from Doha Veterinary Practise
  27. Have a pedicure
  28. Maintain a Brazilian (ouch) for three months.
  29. Find a trustworthy Czech hairdresser
  30. Treat my inner-6-year-old twice a week (at least)
  31. Do the liver-cleansing diet properly (12 weeks)
  32. Don't eat out for one month
  33. Find a flat and flatmate
  34. Purchase one Joseph sweater
  35. Purchase one of the following pairs of designer shoes (they MUST also be COMFORTABLE, and be able to be worn with 4 different outfits and 2 types of occasion): Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutin (Ebay or 2nd hand are acceptable)
  36. Send 5 books to the booksphere and track them.
  37. Go hanggliding
  38. Read 10 'classic' books (from 1001 Books to Read before you Die)
    1. Moll Flanders
    2. Everything is illuminated
    3. Madam Bovary
    4. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
    5. Catch-22
    6. Odysseus
    7. On the Road
  1. Run (non-stop!) for 5kms outside (preferably in a street race thingy)
  2. Send Christmas Cards on time
  3. Make a collage/mural out of street lights on my wall
  4. Buy a bed, build it, and sleep soundly in it
  5. Go to Africa
  6. Host an 'event' (classified as and when)
  7. Organise a 30th Birthday Party
  8. Wear a costume
  9. Sing on stage
  10. Buy a painting that evokes memories of Prague (cannot involve queues!)
  11. Learn a god-damned card game that stays in my memory (other than fish/snap)
  12. See sunrise. Be sober. Have woken for it. Excludes months Nov-Mar
  13. Take a walk and flip coins at each intersection
  14. Win something
  15. Draft a will
  16. Take a roadtrip
  17. Go to Italy already
  18. Sea Kayak around Abel Tasman Park (NZ)
  19. Get plants
  20. Take a train to another Eastern European Destination (accession countries are acceptable) alone preferably.
  21. Get UK to give me a provisional motorcyclists license and simultaneously get a 'card' license.
  22. Go SCUBA diving again - at least two dives lasting 30mins each.
  23. Go to a dentist. *sigh*
  24. Do a Czech Wine Trail. And live to tell the tale
  25. Make an 'outbreak emergency kit'.
  26. Go to bed prior to 11pm every night (inc weekends) for four consecutive weeks.
  27. Marvel over lack of tiredness
  28. Dine at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant (or Nobu)- preferably for free.
  29. Bet on the nags
  30. Do something for charity (applying and getting a 'red card' will count)
  31. Walk along the Champs Elysee
  32. Do 100 sit ups in a row
  33. Do 50 pressups (arms in tight)
  34. Make branston pickle (or nearest substitute)
  35. Cook something 'new' and 'adventurous' at least once a month
  36. Find a mentor
  37. Be a mentor
  38. Learn what mentoring is all about
  39. Meet an online person in real life
  40. Resist the flirt. Once. Just one night. It's okay if people don't immediately succumb to my natural charm. Really it is.
  41. Spend time at a spa (spa towns in the CR don't count)
  42. Send a care package to someone
  43. Get a Tata Bojs CD
  45. Order new contact lenses.
  46. Make a list of things I take with me when I pack for different occasions
  47. Eat lobster. Prepared by someone else.
  48. Back up the blog
  49. Put everything onto an external hard drive
  50. Find a DDR mat and console and 'dance, I say dance!'�
  51. Go to the beach and lie on the warm sand. For an hour. (with sunscreen on, natch)
  52. Take and complete a course in either: Tango, Salsa or Flamenco
  53. Join the Municipal Library of Prague
  54. Move to another country
  55. Go to a live concert of a band I actually like
  56. Pay off debts (student loan excl.)
  57. Send thank you cards for every gift I receive (other than the gift of happiness, blah blah blah).
  58. Get an agent (literary or theatre)
  59. Go to a sports bar without cringing, by personal choice
  60. Ride a rollercoaster
  61. Hold a snake
  62. Spend a day wandering around a museum (not art gallery!)
A week in the life...
Monday, 10 October 2005
...good lord. I´m shattered. And that´s AFTER the weekend that I´ve spent lying (essentially the whole time) on the beach (briefly turning over to baste the other side in the suns rays).
So...what have I been up to this week then? We´ve had a study protocol to design which was hell on earth. Or so I thought until I came across this weeks task. Last week, we had a group of 8 of us, non-experts on any particular subject, sitting in one room trying to create some sort of semblance of sensible research project in order to define some sort of problem in some scandinavian country. One thing about those northern folk: they keep good data. Can you believe that they all have a personal identity number appended to which is all their life´s tales (albeit not in quite the epitaph manner I would personally choose). Which means that if you want to get any demographic data, and you just happen to work in Public Health, it´s not too difficult a task. Can you imagine? It´s a stalkers paradise!!!
So yes, 12 hours later, I´d decided to present our protocol. After writing the slides (15mins presentation) I had a boogy with the gang outside (making lots of noise to make sure that those of us still working at midnight put oru work away and socialised...apparently it´s all about balance) and then went back to my room to practice (you guys knwo what I´m like). Our presentation went quite well, I´m glad to say, with the whole team dressing just a little bit nicer for the ensuing question time. Thankfully, we´d gone first, and since most of the supervisors had been up till 3am as well, they didn´t hurl too many of the curly questions we´d been anticipating in our direction. I think our study protocol even ended up being a good one, even if it wasn´t quite what Denmark actually did in teh end!
That was last week, predominantly. We had another Spanish wine evening on Friday, where we fellows essentially tried to drink our tiredness away. It worked. Late night being the DJ till 2am (there are drawbacks to having 3364 songs on an ipod from which to choose when you´re attempting to keep people born in three different decades I found out first hand) until the manager of the island came down and told us in rapid spanish to ´turn that fecking music off´ (although most of us can´t speak it, we didn´t have any problem entiending her particular rant at that point!).
Following morning (Sat) saw the regular gang (minus Morton, plus Luise) heading to El Toro (375m of sore thumb mountain complete with statue of jesus and radio tower) again for a coffee in the sun overlooking the (entire) island. Then we headed north to Cala Pregunta. After doubling back down some more off-road roads (the poor car, the same one as last week, took another hammering at the capable hands of Maarten) singing along to Kiss Effaemma (FM) again. THis time, we seemed to start halfway through teh day´s playlist, so we were already through Sweet Dreams by the time we foudn the beach. After a walk to one, which we discardeda s not being good enough, we walked around anothe rhead to another...which, thsi time, despite not being ´good enough´ WAS good enough as we all wanted to swim.
A quick swim in the marine reserve, a quick duck dive to see an octopus´s tentacle and a return to the beach over more seaweed (I tried not to think about it tickling my belly as I swam over it...) and then we rearranged the flat, flinty rocks on the beach so that our shoulderblades wouldn´t get bruised and proceeded to sun ourselves.
Hours later, and hunger set in (it does when a) you´re so active and b) you´re accustomed to three square, greasy meals per day as we are served on Alcatraz) so we went to the nearby restaurant. I put my foot half in a hole in teh garden and spent my lunch with my ankle up on a chair, cooling with ice. Thankfully, we had a Doctor on hand, so Lisanne made sure that my ankle wasn´t broken, Lisa made me see the funny side (er...I seem to have forgotten it now), Luise removed my shoe and Maarten provided anti-inflammatories. What a team. Lisa then proceeded to charm a scottish and irish couple a table away, and they offered us a ride to the REAL beach at Pregunta (turns out we´d missed it in our haste to get cool again). Having assured them that you couldn´t take a car there, they looked at us, then at each other, then offered us a lift on their 40´yacht.
No kidding.
So...we traipsed (limped, whatever!) back to the first nasty beach, jumped into the dinghy, and boarded Ordino. She was lovely, a DS something oranother built in Germany. Pristine both inside (I think, I only peeked inside) and outside. So off we went to Pregunta. Our darling hosts, Irene and Frank, refused to change the house rules for us (and fair enough too) and stripped naked for a mid afternoon swim. We´re still in the ´er...we might one day share tablespace at the UN...´ stage of our working relationships/friendships, so we were again, still in our swimsuits (I bet you´re just gagging for the time I FINALLY say I´ve seen my workmates nekkid aren´t you....go on...admit it!). We swam out over some beautiful rocks, admiring the underwater life on the way, and avoiding the one or two baby jellyfish in teh water with relative ease (the water´s quite salty, so we´re all ´mermaid grace´ for some part of the day) and landed ourselves (that´s landed, not beached) on a tiny secret little cove (well, secret apart from the naked spanish sea kayakers) and admired the view. A swim back to the boat ended with us all sitting on the foredeck, glasses of chilled white wine, nuts (the edible ones...people were clad by now), pretzels and watching the sun go down.´s crazy. How do these things happen? I´ve heard of them happening to other people, and always wondered what the heck they did to get themselves into such good luck. Now I know...accost small children and dogs and eventually you hit paydirt. Big ups to Lisa for forging the way, building bridges to europe (hell, hang the bridges, let´s just build boats from now on!).
It was a shame we had the car actually, Frank and Irene jokingly offered to sail us around the island to our quarantine station. One can (that´s for you Morton) only imagine the look of surprise on our darling facilitators faces as we sailed up the harbour...:).
But the car must be moved, so we went back to Mahon for dinner where we caught up with Andreas and his boyfriend Torston, before heading back for the last Alcatraz ferry. (Yes, it´s actually called Lazereto, but it´s practically an anagram, and the sentiment is the same!).
Sunday saw us on the early boat again, and once more up the hill. This time, we´d purchased english papers (Guardian and Sunday Times total cost €8.50!!!!) so we took in the sunday papers, had coffee and ice cream and then decided to hit the beach. So far, we´d managed to avoid hanging out with others from the course (oh, they´re alright i suppose, but you have to be NICE all the time, which you´ll agree is not my natural state!) so we made for Cala Torqueta (I think) which is actually two beaches, separated by a small amount of rocky outcrop.
The water was ABSOLUTELY stunning, so we ate our lunch (picnic from local supermarket...Lisanne makes a mean cheese and tomato baguette!) and then swam and sunbathed, repeatedly for the rest of the day. I provided a negative control for the five by not participating in a game of, er, beach ball (smallish ball, smallish bats...) and since they all have a sore muscle somewhere in their upper arms, I´m okay with that. I did get a tan! (HOORAY!)
After hours on the beach, we attempted to go back to the restaurant in Binibequer again, joined only by Andreas this time, but alas, it was not open. We found another one, procedeed to drink our per diem of wine (well, Lisa and I had most of everyone´s per diem anyway...thanks guys) and then back to Es Castelle to drop off the cars and catch the last ferry. Lisanne and I still had to prepare our 3min presentations (we´ve all had to do these over the three weeks, learning what visual aids to use to get our message across...more in a moment) and so I borrowed Lisa´s computer.
Suffice it to say, I hooked up the iPod, and scanned through all my pictures for a decent map of NZ and then realised that I was far too pished to write a couple of slides...before hitting the lights and going to sleep instead. Oh sure, I set my alarm for 6:30am, in the hope that i would finish (and start) the presentation, but then I ended up setting it agian for 7:30, and 8:30.
Rest assured though, that the presentation went reasonably well. Apparently, the action I employed to describe ´siphoning´ (in relation to fish tanks and the water therefrom) was sufficient to ´get my message across´. I do hope so, otherwise I´m afraid I´ve given a lot f people the wrong idea about NZers!!!
And to today: where we learnt that in new groups of 8, we would be developing a brand new surveillance system to monitor cases of Listeriosis in France. Yes...that´s right. We had to invent the wheel. Now, in most cases, for most diseases, you look at what the yanks have done, what the brits, the irish and the germans have done, alter it a little bit to make sure yuo get your own information, see if it fits within your health infrastructure, and then voila, B.O.B.S your surveillance system (Bite of Bad Surveillance). But alas (get the picture yet) we couldn´t do this. We weren´t allowed to download the case report form from another EU country. In fact, we had to even ASK for the EU case definition. ARGH! This ´design in the face of limited research opportunities´ is really annoying. In real life, you have phones, internet, hell, even text books to consult. Here, we´re worse than a bunch of soporific morons playing ´who wants to be a millionaire´ with no sodding lifelines left (at $100...I don´t know how it´s possible, but that´s what it felt like).
After an afternoon of that particularly pleasurable task, it was well nigh time to abandon the islnad for good food. Which was had at Restaurant Irene in Es Castelle.
A walk, a boat ride and here I am. With some additional mosquito bites. The things I do for my adoring public.
Anyway, for the first time this weekend, I felt really homesick. I miss loads of you, i miss the constant contact and the hidden terms of endearment (hidden in the vast fog of general sniping, but apparently there nonetheless) and the ability to turn on teh radio and understand a news bulletin. I won´t go as far as to say I missed the rain and wind (because I didn´t), but I´m gonna go crazy if I can´t have a decent skinny flat white in a large bowl in teh next two years, Felix be damned with his frappuccinos!
So...know this. I may have a new family here, but I´m missign my old family there too.
posted by Nomes @ Monday, October 10, 2005  
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