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!)
*singing* History, sometimes repeats...
Tuesday, 28 February 2006
History’s an interesting thing innit. Dad reckons that we should impose a shelf-life on history, say, 40 years. Mum reckons it’s wasted on the young. I reckon they’re both wrong.

Here’s the deal:

History/Collective Memory/Reports
All historical documents are likely to be written from a person’s perspective. There’s no such thing as pure objectivity when a human is involved. It’s impossible. I can’t condone the behaviour of anyone in Hitler’s parade, however, it does strike me that perhaps they were incapable of thinking that they were doing anything ‘wrong’. Or maybe in later years their consciences have been playing up. Whatever…historians write about the horrible atrocities (and that’s how it’s always phrased) of the Holocaust. The nay-sayer David Irving went to jail in Austria for suggesting otherwise, because of the collective guilt felt by Austrians and Germans to this day. Will they get over that guilt? Yes, eventually. But why should they get over it rapidly?

If we had an expiry date, we wouldn’t remember the things that went before. Which means that in another forty years (arbitrary figure though it may be, let’s use it throughout) we’ll have another Reich (or equivalent) of people attempting eugenics by smokehouse. Or the more technologically advanced equivalent. Another Pol Pot. Another [insert favourite genocidal maniac here].

The aim of civilisation is to further itself, right? Some take this to mean, ‘kill others’, while others take it to mean ‘diversify’. I don’t know which is going to be better for the human race, I’m not an anthropologist, nor do I particularly worry about the dying out of the human race (if animals can become extinct, why can’t we?). I do disagree with systematic wiping out of a culture/ethnic race etc. Surely, as with all other animals (barring them damned cockroaches etc.), diversity is the only way to prolong our survival? In which case, wiping out an ethnic group is senseless. More dictators need to take Genetics.101.

Of course, despite our previous knowledge of genocide, we did nothing during the slaying of the Bantu, we’re doing very little in Darfur, but we did manage to do something in Kosovo. I’m not saying that ‘something’ was correct, and that a lot of innocent people STILL were killed (either by direct assault or economic sanctions). However, without intervening in some way, perhaps more people may have been killed. I need a quantitative risk assessor…?

Here’s where the media enter. These days, the media is not ENTIRELY controlled by two people. The majority of the mainstream media (MSM - in the newsblog world) is, apparently, but there’s a lot of other information getting ‘out there’ that certain people don’t necessarily want to have circulating. Take for instance, Sungari River (China, people!!). Yes, the guy who originally blew the whistle was fired, but hopefully, some environmental agency picked him up. I do hope so (I’m SUCH an optimist, it’s ridiculous). So this is where people like me, who document what we see and publish for the world to form an opinion over, are strengthening, gaining weight (literally unfortunately, as well as figuratively!) and becoming more widespread.

So, the media spreads the word – rightly, wrongly, oversensationalisatingly (still on my rampage against sensible English, as you can see), and slowly, other humans begin to form their own opinions. These opinions may eventually lead to political rallying, activist movements etc. and finally, those who are elected into power MAY start listening to the people. (gad…give this woman a red badge someone…quick!)

However, and this is where Mum’s point comes in, opinions are going to be easily swayed by those of us (can I afford to put myself in that category?) who have the capacity to write persuasively. People won’t be able to form ‘informed opinions’ if they don’t have the education to look for the information, or know what to do with the myriad of information-streams that are now available to them.

This is one of the reasons that it’s VITAL that history is taught in a more realistic and accessible manner than I believe it currently is in schools. Yes, the Stuarts gave us a lot (inc. Church of England…”cake or death?”); and I guess if you’re American, it’s nice to know the name of the boat upon which your forefathers arrived (do they teach about the smallpox infested blankets I wonder?), but it’s ALSO important to understand the political regimes in countries that are far from us, where people aren’t as free as us, and to understand how they got themselves into that situation (usually with ‘help’ from foreigners…sadly!). This means that children from a young age will learn a) what empires used to exist, b) how they fell, c) why they didn’t work, d) what the impact of the fall of the empires was on the individual states/republics/countries, e) the good things about that and f) the bad things about that. In this manner, they’ll be a lot more aware of the economics/politics that seem to make this world turn. Love? Pah…even I, with my pink-specs know that it ain’t love that makes this world go around.

So, sitting kids at desks in front of a map of the world simply ain’t gonna cut it. Telling them about JFK’s assassination won’t leave any impact at all. Role-playing in the classroom, watching videos etc, other teaching techniques MAY have a bit more of an impact. Listening to, reading from, and writing to school children IN those far-flung countries will have more of an impact. All children have the capacity for imagination, sometimes I wonder that they leave school with any of it intact. Sit them in front of the computer. Hook the computer up to skype. Call someone in a classroom in Kosovo. Listen to the child’s tales of not knowing where their Dad went. Go through why the children in your class think this happened? Take them through the history before the area was heavily bombed. ASK them, for goodness sakes, what THEY would have done next. These are the NEXT people at the UN Security Council. Do you want them growing us as ignorant as we did?

Nurturing a growing cultural understanding in the next generation? That, my dears, is vital. That’s the message from someone who can calculate her blood proportions to the nearest 1/32th…

Not that she can quite figure out where the hell all this stuff is coming from? Was I brainwashed in my sleep? Dad....?

And in other news:
Am desperately trying to keep up with administrative tasks of getting to Azerbaijan (yes, it does seem as though I’m going, the WHO called this morning to ask whether I’d be comfortable setting up a laboratory (NO!) and so are now looking for a Lab expert…since apparently, they’ve now secured funding?) which means filling in forms to request travel from the SZU for my Madrid module (beginning of April). I asked Vlado whether there were more administrative things that I could finish off before I departed too…sicne I’m getting SOOO accustomed to them (also sent letters and photocopies of all boarding passes and ticket receipts to OneWorld and StarAlliance in the hope of getting some damned points for all this countryhopping – that took an hour and a half to prepare/document). He replied, “what about a trip report?” and I hastily assured him that I’d done those for all trips thus far. He said, “I mean, for Madrid.” I looked at him. Then I said, “I haven’t been yet, Vlado!” “Ah yes,” he replied, “but it would be well to be abreast of the situation, no?!” ARGH!!!

Meanwhile, I’m also trying to persuade WHO to take another EPIET colleague with me (surely that’ll keep me sweet with both organisations) who is BRILLIANT (in my estimation). Question is: will it work?
posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, February 28, 2006  
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