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!)
Conflict of Information
Wednesday, 25 January 2006
So, some of you will be wondering how come you got this 'ARGH!' txt message, and then you haven't read anything about the subject matter on the blog.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to tell (always the way!) given the sensitive nature of the topic. So here's what I can tell you thus far. And yes, I'm damned excited.

Day -7
Although it was late when I returned to my hotel room having spent a delightful evening with Andreas and Lisa in his HUGE apartment, I thought I might check my e-mail. Have become quite obsessed with checking it these days, mostly to see if anyone has written to me on my blog. And whaddya know: there’s a message from our head coordinator (AB). Apparently, the WHO wanted myself and another veterinarian (thereby implying they understood that I was one myself) to go to G and A, and A (respectively) for missions involving the following list of tasks:

*cough while deleting TOR so that nothing is remotely identifiable*

So, first of all, I shut down my computer in shock.

Then I compiled an e-mail to AB discussing the fact that I was fairly certain I could cope with 7 of those 8 tasks, but the whole diagnosis thing was a bit of a bugger. I’ve no sodding idea what a *ahem* looks like when it has *nose wriggle*! If it’s anything like I was the last time, it doesn’t get out of bed for 48 hours, spits into a bucket on a frequent (and revolting) basis, and is generally a pain the arse to be around.

So, I calmed (the hell) down, and wrote a succinct response to AB informing him of my doubts. Bearing in mind, this was 4:30am, I’m quite glad that my thoughts were coherent. Nothing like an absolute bolt of adrenalin to shock you into sensible trains of thought.

After pressing ‘send’ (which is still horrible in some cases, even after all these years), I recoiled a little bit, closed the curtains on my rapidly cooling room (no bath, more’s the pity) and did a spot of online research (given I still had 14mins of online time paid for) into signs. Finally fell asleep at about 5:30am after txting Mum to let her know of the possibilities.

Day -6
Woken by AB at 8:00am to have a bit of a gossip about my self-doubt, and whether someone else would be going instead of the person they asked for. I reminded him that I felt confident (which I did, after that) of my capabilities for the most part, so don’t take me off the list. However, we have a vet in our cohort who’s surely a better pick: having worked for FAO/OIE previously. Still…

So he mentioned that he’d inform the WHO that I wasn’t a vet, and if they still wanted me, then would I be good to go? Sure would.

Caught up with Andreas and Lisa quite late in the lobby. Of course, with that lack of sleep on top of not really feeling 100% sure of myself, I was a little jaded even at the beginning of the day. Still, we made a brave effort to sight see a little bit. The pictures tell of what a goddamned awful day it was, and within about 2 hours, my waterproof boots weren’t. There’s only so much this girl can take of wandering around a sodden/slushy/muddy city. Still, some photos are brilliant as a byproduct (if I do say so myself) and it’s quite pleasurable watching my Desktop change with a scene from a new European city every few months.

Checked e-mail in the evening: nothing back from the WHO saying they still want me. Feel horribly unworthy.

Day -5
Still no message. Maarten now certain (having been informed by AB) that he’ll be going with me. AB told everyone. So no need for me to keep quiet until I’ve got the e-ticket on my screen (which I was planning on doing). Ah well. I’m still refusing to get excited until the aforementioned moment. THEN I’ll actually believe that my vaccination status is pants (come on, NZ doesn’t HAVE any diseases…why would I have bothered with HepA and Diptheria?).

Briefly considered checking my mail after a good night out with most of the ‘grid’ (more in other news) but thought ‘don’t be daft Nomes, if WHO hadn’t responded by yesterday – why would they be checking things on a Sunday!!?’

Day -4
Bumped into AB en route to breakfast this morning (soya milk in tow). ‘Oh, by the way Naomi, WHO responded; you’re off.’



Breakfast wasn’t a very satisfying meal. Or rather, I hardly had to eat anything to be completely filled.

And then off to RKI for a day of ‘cohort cahoots’ where we learnt how to write an outbreak report and an abstract. Sucky job – but someone’s gotta do it.

The day was punctuated with hasty ad hoc meetings and conversations between myself, Maarten (working in the other group in a different room) and the coordinators. Forms to be filled in, passports to be scanned, travel to be booked. We book our own travel. Conveniently, since M and I were involved in our day’s planned activities, and presenton site, and basically travelling to the same places: AB did our bookings for us. I saw the prices afterwards. 3500€ each (roughly). That’s enough for a years rent in Prague (11 months at least!). And that’s to get me to Copenhagen on Thursday night after my media training, then into A on the Saturday (via Heathrow – Nis!??!) and then back to Prague after 14 days (via Vienna – at 0430!!!).

Which means that tonight will be spent in front of my computer answering all of the (apparently) common sense questions on the UN security website. Yay! Then tomorrow I’m off to the Dr for a checkup (weight/height/bp/sugar/heamaglobin etc), to get vaccinated to the hilt, and request the pill (forgive me, I don’t want to be menstruating in A, feminine bloody principles aside). It’s 2140, I’m waiting for Umit to call me back so I can relax for a bit, then I’ll be here all night folks. The ‘test’ takes 3hours (on average) and you can’t progress until you’ve got EVERY last question correct.

Am I nervous? Whaddya reckon? Excited? Hell yes. A bit overwhelmed? Probably – if I let myself think about it. Instead: I’ll just see how it pans out. And not talk to anyone about where I’m going and what I’m doing. At least not following Promed’s reports this afternoon of the political situation: one country accusing a neighbouring nation of nondisclosure. Oh goody: Nomes – the diplomat.

Rumour has it we get special passports…will keep you informed. If someone gives me a sky blue puffa jacket, I may have to kill them. On the other hand, I’m hoping I have a sexy driver…

Day -3
So, stayed up late (until 1.30am) doing the UN Security test. Feel very bleary-eyed and ‘pissed off’ this morning. So much for the whole ‘reduce your stress’ section! Having checked my e-mail this morning: discovered that we leave at 1840 on Thursday evening. Went to RKI and arrived late (Starbucks!!). Thankfully, Luise had already assumed that I’d not even show up (due to having too much to do in preparation), and had grabbed notes for me. Bless ‘er!

Needed to make sure we could print from our computers. Consequently, I spent morning tea with the IT guy – installing his printer onto my computer, making sure that I could print using the USB cable connection.

Back to the lecture again. Thankfully, the guy’s really good at commanding an audience, but I had to dash out again to pee, since I hadn’t at the break (nor had I grabbed tea, but I had water on the desk – no biggie!). But I feel bad for being disruptive.

Lunchtime: Spoke to Viviane about getting our medicals done. She said we should get going at 3pm and printed out how to get from RKI to the Tropical Medicine Institute. Wanted to get that damned test done prior to eating. Maarten came and joined me just as I was about to finish: 93% in the end. YAY! I wouldn’t say it was worth the hours of testing and reading last night but at least I now know how to ‘withstand’ hijacking and rape. Ha ha.

Ate. Everyone is very curious. I can’t say as I blame them, I would be too. Externally, I am too.

However, I’m tied up trying to get things done. Thought I’d go back to the lecture, then off to the medical, back to the hotel for a snooze then onwards to dinner – feeling more myself and less ‘pissed off’. SMS’d Maarten to let him know that we’d be going at 3pm. Viviane said she’d let me know when bus 126 came along when I needed to go.

But, when 3pm came around, she said, ‘no, you’re too late. You needed to BE there at 3pm’. Damn!!! I hate misinterpreting things. Tears welled up (silly, but true). *sigh* I know I can’t know everything immediately. I accept my fallacy, my humanity (most of the time, though I’d quite like to think myself omnipotent).

So now, I get to miss media training tomorrow for the medical at 12. And lunch. Just as well I didn’t want to eat huh?

Really want to sit with TOR and start figuring out how I think these ought to be fulfilled and what I need (literature wise) to complete them. But I need a clear mind to do this: and I can’t see when that’s going to happen as we’ll probably be here until 7pm – then onto the dinner straightaway. And don’t even ask when I’m going to have a chance to purchase a hat and a water/windproof jacket. ARGH! Advice? Say yes: and negotiate getting out of the current module – to do it again next time around!!!

Later: home after shopping and course dinner. Purchased water/windproof coat by North Face (delicious - we LOVE the sales in Europe!) but couldn't find acceptable hat or shoes - damnit. Quite trashed. Spent last half of day extending TOR into dozens of questions. Have a breakfast meeting to go over them with surprisingly calm and nonchalent coordinators. Do they not care because we're going on an OIE/FAO related thing? Or is it becuase they have confidence?

Tomorrow, I'm off to be trained in how to deal with international media. No kidding. By a former BBCWorld newsreader. Cool or what??

*singing* I have confidence in confidence alone...Besides which, you see I have confidence in me! (it's one of the more obscure songs Julie Andrews sang once upon a time)
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, January 25, 2006  
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