Saturday, July 29, 2006

Saturday Morning...

"Wait Until Tomorrow" -- John Mayer Trio (Try!, 2005)

Oh, at last the end of that horrid week. We have little planned for the weekend and the extreme temperatures here guarantee that we'll have lots of family togetherness huddled in our house. I like that.

Friday... another day of not wanting to be in charge
So it was that when I checked my blackberry on the way into the office I was greeted with a really really nasty email from a very senior person in our County government complaining that my organization had dropped a really big ball with tremendous impact for our hospitals (read: money). I spent the first three hours of my day trying to figure out what the hell was going on. As happens a fair bit, it was a colossal misunderstanding complicated by lots of misplaced finger-pointing. I hate that. In the end we managed to salvage the funding for our hospitals and everyone seemed appeased. Please, may I go back to my quiet office with the big computer and killer stereo? I wonder now if this is why so many epidemiologists speak in languages most people don't understand and appear unapproachable----to keep out of these kinds of situations. Maybe I've been taking the wrong approach to my practice all along...

Last night
Finally got around to a much needed manicure/pedicure. I wasn't feeling like doing the hard work of communicating with the English-challenged technician so when she asked if she could make a design on my toenails I just murmured that it would need to be subtle. Apparently that means something different to her than to me. Go figure. Now I'm going to need to find another salon to get the polish changed without hurting her feelings. Brother.

I had a blissful late evening, knitting on Anna's last sleeve. I need to have it finished early tomorrow as I'd like to drop it off for the finisher when I go to the Stich-n-Bitch at the knitting salon. Then I read from A Year of Wonders which really is wonderful historical fiction but strikes me as being something that women would probably enjoy more than men. Its about the lives of several folks in a remote English village during the Black Plague epidemic. I like it for its focus on the very real (I imagine) human implications of massive health disasters. It is so well-written that in one particular passage I felt as if I were in the same room as the characters---brilliant. To be able to pull that off as a writer is just magical. What a gift --- for the author and her readers. She is Geraldine Brooks and she has another book that was highly regarded called March. I've no idea what that one is about.

Other books about health disasters---you know everyone is doing these now. And the public is eating them up. I think that's wonderful, really. The role of public health in our culture is very important but largely unrecognized. I think these books help people understand why people like the ones I work with need the money we ask for and how undervalued we have been. Oh , poor pitiful me. I've said before how grateful I am to leverage these funding opportunities for solidifying resources we've needed for years. I am. But back to the books, I recently purchased Polio by Ochinsky. I've heard nothing but raves about it.

This is the thing, though. If you read The Great Influenza, And the Band Played On, whatever that really good book about Ebola at a Virginia animal lab was called, you'll quickly identify a troubling and unresolved common theme: that the competitive nature of funding basic science research in critical problems causes rifts and secrecy among investigators that ultimately cost human lives, social disruption and economic losses. Its not rocket science (I mean the policy,not the investigations; those could be rocket science...). There needs to be a paradigm shift in how this work gets done and cut out the drama. In my former life as a laboratorian the Principal Investigator (PI in research lingo) I was working with actually presented to me a plan to plant me as a mole in a "competing" laboratory. How silly is that? Clearly I did not accept the "opportunity". Besides---it was in Hungary in the late 80's. Not a great destination.

But anyhow---I had a great evening of knitting, reading and listening and even got to talk to my folks for the first time in a couple of weeks.

Where are Mary and Fred now?
They are bound for Edmonton then Calgary. Last night they were at milepost 0 of the Alcan Highway. Daddy gave me a wild-animal sighting inventory and some stories for their blog. I'll try to do that soon. Especially as I anticipate getting a boatload more once they find themselves out of the wilderness and back in electronic-land.

Haven't heard a peep from Tracy or neice Mary; I guess they're having a great time together.

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