this week i

debated whether or not to take malaria medication (

listened to hhs secretary leavitt advocate for health diplomacy. he outlined our failure to build soft power from taxpayer-funded philanthropies, and convincingly argued that the next administration should attach all international health care delivery to a brand, like usaid's slogan 'from the american people'. he discussed the successes of castro's doctor-export program (google 'cuban doctors') and hezbollah's clinic-building in the wake of the last lebanese war; he betrayed his bias when he abruptly concluded that the tide of leftist leaders in latin america highlighted the fragility of these democracies. constitution-trampling is non-partisan (, thanks.

attended a friend's party. seemed pretty standard until the host began shattering plates on the floor. apparently a greek thing, i'd love to see them christen their ships.

drove out to gunpowder falls state park for a birthday party. they had rented a cottage for the night, so we ate eggplant lasagna, played board games, and sang karaoke until three, then curled up wherever we could find a semi-soft surface. i've stayed in state park-run cabins before, always satisfying. full-moon bonfire-staring works as well as dinner plate-smashing when you're searching for something primal.

discovered the soy caramel macchiatto.

enjoyed the company of a friend who had just returned from a voyage through south africa, and also a brazilian couchsurfer who just concluded a semester law exchange at wvu. notice the apartment is 65% luggage, 35% my possessions.

ran for thirty-five minutes straight. kind of a big deal.

visited the national zoo's holiday light show. washington exploits the 'we have a panda' edge on the logo, in the gift shops, and now apparently as winter festival bubble-boys. this toddler had fun, but thirty seconds later, the kid in the background stroller got wheeled up closer and began crying and shrieking; seemed like a reasonable response to a mascot in a snow globe.

this week i

watched a fantastic lecture about overcoming phobias, given by the superstar utoronto psychology professor (, and resolved to watch one video per week next spring.

shared my home with two journalism graduates from spain. newman's own five cheese spaghetti sauce goes great with whole wheat pasta, plum-tobacco, and some weird cardgame that might as well have been calvinball (

wrapped up my software engineering course ( i had toyed with changing my degree track at jhu's apl from mathematics to computer science. this course, and my workload at kff, have informed me that would be a mistake: high-level statistical theory (and data mining) courses seem much more valuable than learning tangential material like intrusion detection or machine learning. the data-oriented programming languages i use (sas, spss, stata, r, foxpro) apparently don't get taught anywhere except google groups' discussion boards.

put my father's four-bedroom house in bethesda on the market for inauguration week.

prepared sushi for him as well, he burned his sinuses twice on the wasabi. a friend had given me this fancy japanese serving set. notice my father inhaled his plate (on the right) before i could snap a picture. i would also love to cook some sushi for you.

this week i

spent six days sharing a four room house with a family of four in black river, jamaica. the mother was the niece of a friend of mine, her husband had agreed to drive me around the island. after spending a few hours together, he offered to let me stay in their home. so i slept on their couch, played with their young daughters, and shared in a life more representative of everyday humanity.

rode a crocodile riverboat, reveled in the ubiquity of ginger beer, scaled a waterfall, ate peppered prawns, picked up a hitchhiker, slept on the beach, toured kingston - not so dangerous, nothing to do.

witnessed the moments-after-mob of two car accidents, and one bleeding, breathing victim. eight pm on a southern coastal road meant no other white faces in sight. i hadn't worked in an ambulance for years, english is not as widely-spoken as televised, and the crowd appeared angry - though that ire seemed directed at the EMS' delay - so i didn't dare use my shirt as a tourniquet and try to help. it's near-impossible to act first while the foreigner. but no one acted first, none of the two hundred performed any semblance of american emergency medicine, and until someone volunteered to slump him in their backseat and race him to the hospital, a life ticked away at the feet of this hysterical mass. jamaica ranks behind only ethiopia and india for car fatalities. i've often plotted/dreamed/fantasized about opening an emergency response training group in the developing world: the body of medical knowledge for first-response and survival medicine courses seems valuable to communities with any real distance to a hospital.

saw prevention potential as well. everywhere i looked, people abstained from seatbelts. after leaving the crash scene, we headed home, picked up his six year old, and drove for ice cream. she sat unrestrained at the front edge of the center back seat, so she could peep her head between us. ralph don't run, you're needed elsewhere.

learned jamaica elected her first black president in 1997. another generation until germany elects a turk, india a dalit, new zealand a maori. stars and stripes for - ever.



islandwide nations don't need region-identifiers on license plates.

jerk sausage pizza trumps all things.

pharmacies stock kananga water but no sunblock, might as well have been looking for anti-freeze.

thanksgiving dinner.

pretty much what my elementary school looked like when the end-of-the-day bell rang.

the conception of an american businessperson, surely.


watched a goat sneak into my living quarters, drop a crap on the floor, then get shooed outside. glad i went, glad to be back.

this week i

rekindled an old flame, baltimore. jhsph fall formal required a visit, so we piled into a borrowed mini-van, booked a last-minute hotel room via iphone, and crashed the bi-annual prom. maryland science center this year, though all of the best dinosaur bones were cordoned off. pretty difficult to boogie inside a t-rex rib cage, i guess. ended our journey at the finest late-night diner: paper moon.

hosted a norwegian and icelandic couchsurfing duo, both exchange students studying in iowa. jazz festival at the kennedy center meant a week of free concerts to choose from, so we met at monday's show and watched some excellent musicians play old doo-wop hard bop.

analyzed medicare beneficiaries who spend disproportionately high amounts on health care (top 10% maybe? we haven't decided where to draw the line, we'd like to focus on chronic high spenders, rather than isolated injury cases). we tore into the medicare current beneficiary survey data, and generated a bunch of charts, graphs, and tables. i'm excited about turning this into a predictive regression.

noticed the inaugural construction forced the decades-old nuclear vigil ( outside the white house to relocate to h street.

landed in jamaica with no real plan, no idea what to expect, no place to stay. immigration apparently doesn't take kindly to that, so i called this guy ( and got his address in negril; that's not where i ended up.

saw your thanksgiving turkey and raised you a jerk chicken in the caribbean sunshine.

this week i

gave the dupont circle sports bars a chance on friday; front page for happy hour, buffalo billiards into the night. the fire alarm broke up our evening at the latter, so we went to the cosi across the street, celebrating being forced out without paying the bill. an hour later, one of us remembered that our credit card was still there on the tab. we cut our losses with a game of shuffle-board.

hosted a really likeable brazilian physicist couchsurfer saturday - tuesday. he was here for the neuroscience conference, presenting something about primate vs. rodent brain fold-length. i was more interested in knowing that i've got a place to crash in rio, should the mood strike me.

celebrated a friend's birthday on saturday with my first sake bomb. i was terrified that the shot glass wouldn't fall into the (japanese) beer. this might be a bonding experience, but it doesn't make friends with anyone at nearby tables at the restaurant. missed the 18th street lounge's -no cover before 10pm- by thirty seconds, then enjoyed some deafening house music.

received a revolutionary flyer on our way home from the bar. about ten cop cars were stationed on my street, no sirens, but full strobe, the eeriest setting. i asked different cops what they were doing: the first said, "i don't talk to the press," the second, "talk to the captain," the third and most reasonable, "there's a protest or something, i don't know."

ate chipotle. bad for the heart, good for the soul.

fell in love with mozarella all over again. also decided that kurt vonnegut was mark twain reincarnate.

watched a discussion between health policy people from heritage and brookings: they agreed on more than they disagreed, made me optimistic about the future of my field.

played poker with SAIS friends thursday night, into friday morning. hookah on the side, blues in the background, well-worth the ten dollars i lost. pretty hard to bluff when you're surrounded by diplomats.

this week i

went to the hirshhorn after hours on friday night with a friend. we ate pizza standing in line, the people near us didn't even hide their drool. then we enter: so they furnish this fancy art museum with ten foot-high speakers, multiple liquor vendors, and a few thousand twenty-somethings. no one was looking at the artwork. after that, we watched the midnight showing of pulp fiction at the e street cinema. my favorite line: "mushroom cloud-layin' motherfucker, motherfucker" my father's favorite line: "check out the big brain on brad"

went hiking in the shenandoah on saturday. old rag trail, lots of rock climbing, ten miles. still feel it. after, ate some delicious overpriced food at pennsylvania & 7th, went to an obama karaoke event, sang along, resisted the devil on my shoulder that desired to run up, grab the mike, and make an ass of myself. concluded the evening in the greatest jumbo-slice ever - dark, loud music, and disco lights, on u street.

hosted a mexican couchsurfer, four nights. she was working on a farm in cape cod. my spanish is terrible, but it's good to practice. monday night, i took her to a friend's birthday party at rocket bar. skee-ball: she was ahead 200 to 100, one ball remaining. i hit the 100 hole, she gutter-balls it. tie goes to the underdog.

am still shocked by, and celebrating, obama's victory.

took her to habana village on tuesday night, it's only open wed - sat. want to go back.

went to the ethiopian embassy wednesday for a jewish/ethiopian mish-mash. my dad is friendly with the ethiopian owner of the 7-11 near his house. my dad mentioned i'm going there for christmas, and this man insisted we meet. when i called him, he tells me we'll sit down and talk about my trip, then tuesday he invites me to some craziness at the embassy the next day. i shook some hands, ate some sponge-bread, you know the drill. i need to attend more embassy functions. the world got a little smaller with every verse of the mostly-ethiopian crowd's hava nagila.

had some delicious calzones on thursday, then watched back-to-back free persian films at one of the evening smithsonians. another untapped resource.