Several people from the Comoros have written me via email. I expect even the most remote areas will have some sort of Internet access within five years. This will have to be driven by knowledge-based workers receiving or transmitting data for their research, such as doctors, aid-workers, or even local entrepreneurs. On the other hand, it is impossible to overlook the fact that the forces of nature are not easily overcome by gadgets that are based on a fault-tolerant network and supplies. The best tools for the job are ones that are easily and cheaply repaired or, even better, replaced. Unfortunately digital cameras do not grow well in the jungle, so when my Olympus 3040Z started to die, I was forced to make hasty field repairs and dream of organic and disposable digital cameras.
I will put a few shots from the trip together today and put them online, although one photo just had to go into the scrapbook; there are over a thousand photos that take up about 5.5 GB of space. I need to consider paper for exhibits and friends in the Comoros. Right now I am pricing the Epson Perfection 2450 photo scanner and Canon S900 printer. Suggestions welcome.
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.
The weather in the Comoros looks pleasant. Almost a constant 28° C. I fly out tomorrow and meet Loubnat in Paris. I hope to update this page as I go, but if not, see you all when I return.
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.
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.
Someone from National Geographic finally wrote back to me with some advice on travel photography. They recommended viewing the Magnum Photos collection and a few books including the “Photography Field Guide“. I noticed that this book is also recommended by Yamashita and just about everyone on Amazon who has read it. I browsed a few chapters and decided not to buy it because it is too focused (ha ha) on SLR technique.
Made it back home safely, but had to return without the trailer or the Hobie. Do not ask. The trip itself was a blast. It is wonderful that there are so many affordable and fun things to do Los Angeles.
Finally caught up with my friend John again, who was a fellow grad-student at the LSE. He took Tracey and me to a benefit concert at Mr. T’s Bowl that had Mike Watt as a headliner. Unfortunately, Mike left out the front door just as we arrived. The bands had typical punk names (e.g. The Humpers) but the music was great.
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.