It’s good to be back…sort of

Hello again! I am back from the Comoros. I have to admit it was nice to have virtually no access to electricity, let alone a phone line, for a whole month — surrounded by mangos, coconuts, guava, bananas, fish, bats…not to mention a dance every night. More news tout de suite.

My Nose

by Gabriel Liebermann

I never chose my nose to be,
a statement of longevity.
Its grandeur lies within its size,
and the way it looms between my eyes;
and the way it leads me from meal to meal.
Some wonder if the bulbous thing
is mine. And is it really real?

From my childhood days I wore it,
like a crown my mom adored it.
My father who had a big one too,
said son, its something to get used to;
and if children taunt you, dont forget,
there are bigger things you will regret,
and your nose will grow much bigger yet.

So big in fact that when I sneeze,
the trees around me lose their leaves.
It precedes me into any room,
but it has always made the ladies swoon.
People often say to I,
smaller noses we have seen,
on elephants and rhinoceri!

Me and my nose are stuck together,
weather for worse or maybe better.
It gives my face a regal look;
and helps turn pages in this book.
And when they put me in a basket,
tell the one that builds my casket:
to cut a hole on top so I,
can smell the flowers when I die…

Santa Cruz sunrise

Santa Cruz Sunrise

Hey, what a nice way to start the month. Did anyone else catch the sunrise this morning? We have been enjoying some amazing moon rises too, but I have been too moonstruck to pull out my camera. I took this photo out the window of my apartment this morning as the immediate alternative seemed to be attacking a pile of dishes.

Phlogging

My tulips Welcome to February, sort of. I filed the January log in a separate area to keep things tidy on the main page. I am looking for something to manage images as part of this weblog. Obviously, since I can take dozens of photos every day, it would be nice to have a simple interface to automate all the notes and thumbnails, etc.. There are some interesting PHP photo albums such as slooze and phpix. I mentioned this to Clint and he was already thinking about the same issues. I can already imagine every teenager in the country racing their parents to build their version of a family weblog (story-line) with photos. Speaking of family entertainment, did you know Sony announced they want Linux to run on the Playstation 2? I think I might get travel insurance from Specialty Risk International.

Lariam

Today I was prescribed Lariam as a malaria prophylaxis for my trip. To be honest, I have not been impressed with the doctors in Santa Cruz and was expecting more of the same when I went in for the required “travel consultation”. For example, even though I need the doctor to give me a prescription I would not count on a local doctor to know a potentially adverse reaction from a drug they prescribe. This seemed especially clear to me after my doctor started to struggle with a hefty immunization book. He looked a little worried when he asked what part of Africa I would be in. “Near Madagascar” I replied. His eyes lit up for a moment, but then he lowered his brow and said quietly “oh, I know where that is”.

The Comoros are not in the book, but all of sub-Saharan Africa is listed as the same in terms of malaria; so Lariam is what I was prescribed. I then asked the obligatory side-effects question. He plainly said that he had taken Lariam himself and nothing happened. Then he laughed a little and said “after all, no one knows really what causes Leukemia, right?” I took my prescription and went home.

On the Internet I found more than enough anti-Lariam information to convince me that I should avoid it if possible. Amazingly, there are whole organizations and lawsuits that oppose the use of Lariam. The only good thing about Lariam seems to be that you only need to take one pill a week instead of a daily pill, and I am not sure that is such a good thing. On the other hand, Melarone was approved by the FDA two years ago and is a suitable choice with none of the known side-effects of Lariam.

Fortunately, after a few phone calls, my doctor’s assistant was happy to change my prescription. Unfortunately Lariam would have been approximately US$100, whereas Melarone is US$300 for one month’s dosage. The pharmacist, who happened to be from India, told me that if I am willing to take the obvious risks from medicine outside the US, then I might be better off just buying a few pills here to get me started and the rest when I arrive.

EDITED TO ADD: In fact, when all was said and done, taking local medications turned out to be the right thing to do since they were easily available and supported by local doctors. Malaria is considered by them as normal as a flu with fever might be seen in America. I am happy I chose not to take Lariam.

Digital Photo Gear

Making my lists and checking them twice. I am planning, so far, to take a digital photography kit, a towel, and a change of underwear to the Comoros. I hate to add any extra weight but I might also take an SLR. The digital photo kit includes a laptop with CDR, two sets of four rechargeable AA batteries (NiMH 1600mAh and 1800mAh), a quick-charger, and three 128MB SmartMedia cards (approximately 60 shots each at 3.3Mp — 2048×1536).

the poetry of information security