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.