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
  44. Take a French/German/Dutch course and SPEAK THE DAMNED LANGUAGE WHEN I HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY EVEN THOUGH IT MAKES ME SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT!
  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!)
Day +4 - Ethical considerations of the job!
Wednesday, 1 February 2006
It’s really annoying not having an internet connection. For a moment and a half, I was ‘live’ and it was wonderful. Then my overuse spilled the server, and now we’re back offline. This makes it extraordinarily difficult to update the blog and keep in touch with people. I hope you’re not all too disappointed.

Responsibility’s a really complex issue. Some have said I have a responsibility for what people think/feel when they read my writing. With that, I fervently disagree. However, I’m really really really disgusted with the behaviour here of *whisper* the Americans (sorry Brett). USAID is an organisation I know nothing about. However, apparently, they send people all around the world, to assess situations and needs, and then attempt to match needs with skills and train (in particular) ‘local people’. This, apparently, provides ‘empowerment’.

So, in a particular case, USAID personnel may have examined an organisation, and found special people within that organisation who could benefit from a bit of technical training held in an (typically) American institution out of the ‘local’ country. All very altruistic – or so it seems.

What they have neglected to consider are the risks of sending people who are trained in specific techniques (let’s say, for instance, virus isolation!), back to an environment in which those techniques are dangerous – if not lethal. It’s not just irresponsible, it’s downright negligent! What if that labworker becomes ill? Then the only person in the country who can carry out a procedure is incapable of carrying out that procedure!! Risk analysts would go spare. I’m not one, and I’m simmering with anger.

‘Diplomats’ have pissed me off today too (ooh…I must be due my period!!). I’m not renowned for my ability to ‘shut the hell up’ in situations. I’ve been known to land people (usually myself, but on occasion, I’ve taken others down too) in ‘it’ by speaking my mind. However, I’d really like to believe that when I speak my mind, I’m speaking up because I see inefficiencies and the potential for future conflict or issues that can be warded off early, with sufficient communication and preparation.

So, when the US Embassy decides that they don’t want to ASSIST the other international agencies in the area, and CERTAINLY don’t want to assist the people who have INVITED those international agencies to the area (visa applications can be declined), and instead want to take over processes themselves, THAT pisses me off. This afternoon, we had a ‘diplomat’ stand up and basically tell a room full of International Organisation staff (including NGO’s and UN organisations such as WHO etc.) that the system put in place was crap and never going to work. This is a system that has been set up via correct and appropriate channels, which will undoubtedly face stumbling blocks initially as people have to reconsider their routines, but will run for free. So starting an ad hoc system for a few special cases that will cost the government an inordinate amount of money just because the US Embassy staff think ‘it should be done our way’ is SOOOOOO arrogant, it made me want to hit the paunchy-matt-damon-lookalike-in-his-abercrombie-and-fitch-navy-bloody-suit this afternoon. FUCK OFF!

ARGH.

However, obviously, our team leader is also handing me sufficient rope to hang myself. We were initially under the impression that we would be signing into a teleconference organised by Geneva (okay, I admit it, there’s a certain frisson that runs through my mind when I say that: Geneva….oooh! I’m not sure whether it’s because of the who or the chocolate though…) at 1900hours local time.

But once we’d finished our frustrating meeting at the UNICEF office, we were informed that the schedule had changed and we were no longer expected to sign in. Fine: we returned to our hotel rooms after a wee meeting in the 2nd Floor majlis. At the end of the meeting I asked the others in the team if my current note taking was what they were also doing: I’ve kept REALLY detailed notes about everything that anyone has told us to this point (which is why I know that 2000 x’s was inflated to 3000 x’s in one day, and 600 y’s was significantly reduced to ‘a few y’s’ in the same time frame…it’s good to have this understanding of what people are telling you) complete with bulleted ‘highlights’ and ‘recommendations’ divided into short-term and mid-term.

So…I think KK was a little taken aback (so far, with one day down, it was 6 pages long!). He told us that he wants a two page summary from us including recommendations the Monday after we get back from our mission (I aim to give mine to him before I leave…I know I won’t have the motivation once I’m at home) – certainly no later than Tuesday – for him to collate and prepare for Copenhagen on Friday.

I was banished to my room to wait for the IT guy. About 15mins later, I got a call on my mobile, from *shudder* Geneva.
“Hello Naomi. Are the team from A going to be joining this teleconference?”
“Um…that’ll be the one that started 10mins ago? We were informed that we weren’t required!!”
“There must have been a misunderstanding. Could you please organise for at least one team member to dial in to this number…”
“Sure, I’ll get in touch with KK and he’ll probably speak on the behalf of the, however, I’ll offer our apologies now. See you soon.”. EEK. I hastily called KK in his room. He said,
“You do it Naomi; what I know, you know.”
“Er…*!!!!* Okay then, I’ll call you afterwards and let you know how it went. Ciao.”

EEEK! So, I’m very grateful I took such exhaustive notes as it meant I could demonstrate all the (mis)information we’d been provided with thus far, our joint impressions (biased to mine perhaps a little) and inform them of our future plans to visit the field (local regions), other organisations and attempt to find ‘the truth’. In about 20mins. I’m not sure whether it was because I covered so much ground, or whether it was because I talked for so long, but Geneva had absolutely no questions for me, and only one recommendation. I was a little bit smug to hear the other team (also on the same conference) receive about 5 instructions to ‘remind people that…’ and ‘check that…’ etc. Anyway, I’m telling myself it was because I was so thorough (not just because they were all as bored of my voice as my throat was dry), so don’t burst my bubble just yet.

I’m not sure how the others in the team saw this (when I met up with them; 10mins late, to go out for a quick drink), I am fairly certain one person doesn’t give a toss (the French guy), and the Irish lass seemed fine with it (it’s just crappy administration after all), but yeah, I felt like I’d been given sufficient rope to hang us all.

Corruption? Live and kicking over here. To the point where one member of the other team said, “How did they afford to do that?” to which I responded, “the person in charge is an extremely dynamic person.”

And now I just hope no one ever calls me dynamic. *grin*

Oh – and I’m also very glad that I’ve developed a resistance to vodka. At the most gorgeous luncheon banquet (was feeling very ‘dynamic’ afterwards!), we were encouraged to try the vodka. Everyone else turned down (come on guys, we’re going to a bloody aid agency meeting after this, you’re gonna be SORRY you resisted…) the offer, but I said, “hit me!”. I knew those years at bars with Lira would pay off one day. Now the guy who took us out to lunch is my best mate: we drank half a hip flask in about 20mins. I won’t pretend that it made the taste of the fish (um, heavy metal anyone?) any better, but at least I received (yet) another marriage proposal out of it. *sigh* Remind me to wear a wedding ring on future missions – it’s just safer (this was the third time in as many hours I’d been asked if I was single, and the guys in the office were falling over themselves to be my ‘special informer’). It wouldn’t be so bad if the rest of the mission team didn’t find it so damned amusing. Grrr!
posted by Nomes @ Wednesday, February 01, 2006  
2 Comments:
  • At 6:31 am, February 02, 2006, Blogger Mums said…

    Hi GNomes,
    Thought of posting you a wedding/curtain ring, but remembering your allergy to anything other than gold decided you didn't need the green band that would eventually come from wearing a curtain ring. Anyhow, who am I to arm you against giving us more to lol about over here - your loyal band of readers...or is that your band of loyal readers - whatever, us who read your blog.
    I'm inclined to agree with KK, that it was a masterstroke on his/her part to "allow" you to do the telecon, and far from giving you enough rope to hang yourself I consider it providential etc etc - I'm in Mother mode as you can tell!And let me tell you there is more to Geneve than just chocolat, though they do do a particularly fine choc-au-lait in those parts, yum. Now that I could join you for, except that I'd then have to start wearing even larger kaftans.
    Internet is the pits when you can't get on line. But for major catastrophes we'll (YLRs - see above) will have to allow you to take your time over updating your blog.
    Meanwhile I have to change some flights. Yvonne & John told me the date they were leaving DXB, not the date they arrive in BNE. Consequently their tickets were purchased for the day before they arrive - all good clean fun. Inshallah I can get them changed without incurring any extra costs. So I'd better get cracking.
    Love to you, Mums

     
  • At 11:36 am, February 02, 2006, Blogger Dad said…

    Yea, well, Americans, second only to Australians in their ignorance about the rest of the world, and their arrogance in believing that said rest of world should have the same structure of governance as they do.

    Taking heaps of notes equates to being prepared. It's much easier to precis your notes than it is to remember the details of a long day's work when asked to make a report. As far as perhaps talking out of turn, you have yet to learn the art of diplomatic silence. People don't like to be made to appear fools in the public domain, and it's even worse if you publicly tell them so. They will never be your friend, and can rise to powerful positions - shit floats! Gotta go,

    Love, Dad

     
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