February 02, 2005

Evening post

Yo people,

Power to the people, hear, make a miracle, D, ___ the lyrical.

Yo yo yo. What's happening? Coming to you live from Addis Ababa where the weather is a balmy 67 F, the sun is going down, and we about to get our groove on, yeah, yeah.

Today, I couldn't come to you live in the morning because we had a cut to our telephone service. No worries, seems things have been cleared up. They are widening a road near our house, so that was probably the reason. I hope this holds. Even here in Addis Ababa, I feel powerless without the internet. So much work to do on-line. Maybe even moreso here, as access is limited. Given that, good internet skills can make you a big savings.

Case in point. I'm importing a saw for some business I'm working on. Just got an email from a distributor in Germany who's going to sell and ship the saw for under $600. May seem like a lot, but if I used a local distributor, the cost would be 2-3 times that. Money!

So I just spent about 45 minutes trying to check up and make sure I really want to make the above mentioned purchase. I think I'll go with it. It's got a powerful motor, which I think is key to preventing the thing from dying quickly on us. As long as it's got accurate measures, we should be good. It's a little scary, though, ordering from Germany without knowing anything about the company or the quality of its products. I've done almost all the research on German language websites, so I hope we'll get it right. My biggest concern is that the rip fence will either be inaccurate (not likely from a German company) or insufficient, as in not enough space. Anyway, I'm going to purchase the thing tomorrow, so there's not much use in worrying.

Had a really interesting dinner with an MD in town for some kind of residency. He's working with the organization I am, I-TECH, and he's doing clinical stuff down at the hospital I was helping at. He asked that we get together to discuss the data. I was actually a little worried, like I'd done something wrong and he'd discovered. Turns out, he found the data really interesting and would like to publish a paper on it. It will both our first times publishing, if we get the effort off the ground, but everyone involved thinks it will be highly valuable.

We talked about the possibilities over dinner at a place called "Rodeo", a middle to expensive restaurant. Other than the name, one of the waiters sporting a cowboy hat and the rumour that they televise American football games, I'm not sure what the connection to the U.S. is, but it was a nice place. We decided that before doing any of the work, we needed to make sure we would get approval from the Ministry of Health for eventual publication, given that the data is highly sensitive in the eyes of some, although nothing that we would be using would reveal individual identity.

Today, we talked it over again, and I got a much better picture of what we'd like to do. The idea is to give an aggregate picture of the demographic and, more importantly, clinical characteristics of the patients. Specifically, we'd like to know why they reported to the clinic i.e. what symptoms caused them to discover their HIV status, what treatment they were given, and what the results have been. In terms of this last examination, we'd like to use body weight and CD4 count to see how the patients are doing. Should be a great study if we are able to push it forward.

Also on the way home from the restaurant last night, the doctor suggested we stop off at someone's birthday party. Other than the initial bash my wife and I went to at the USAID worker's home upon first arriving (mostly middle-aged, married people), I hadn't really participated in any significant "farenj" activities. It was a bit boring - lots of beautiful cars in the driveway and plenty of delicious food inside, but I'm not in the mindset to be part of that crowd, or any crowd for that matter, other than my Ethiopian family here. My biggest interest is in trying to make money and I don't see much point in participating in social affairs like that. Only social affairs with a financial undercurrent are acceptable.

Gave my brother-in-law another driving lesson today. He was really frustrated, not performing as well as he had, and I was being crabby, so we were a bad match. At one point he wanted to stop because he felt like he was getting nowhere. He is unbelievably impatient. Anyone learning to drive takes time. Anyone trying to figure out the clutch and gas will stall the car repeatedly until it gradually gets better. I forced him to keep going, as that's the only thing that will improve his driving skills. Probably not the most tactfully, but he is becoming a diligent learner and I a more patient teacher.

Well, I think I'll sign off for the evening. It's totally dark outside now, I've got a small coal-fire burning outside the door, and I can here the kids of the neighborhood now within their own family compounds. Think I'll go downstairs, have some dinner, and watch a movie on Arab TV. The satellite provider recently updated the channels, so we've got more of them now; unfortunately, the really good ones only work at night. Otherwise, there's a lot of interference and all you get are these jumbled screens. Good night.


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