A weblog written by Anton Zuiker since July 2000
©2000-2013 BlogTogether, LLC and Anton Zuiker
In the late 1990s, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Vanuatu in the South Pacific — the panoramic picture above shows Liro Village on Paama Island, where I spent nearly two years with my wife, Erin. You can see our house, first building from the left, in the picture at the top of the menu column at right (click on the picture for a larger view).
In our tiny village on a small island in the vast Pacific, I learned about different styles of communication – we spoke Bislama, a pidgin English, and used nonverbal cues such as eyebrow flickers to say ‘yes.’ The term “coconut wireless” relates to the way information gets passed person to person, village to village. It’s kind of like the party game Telephone.
Read my essay, From There to Here, to learn more about how I communicated on Paama. Read my introduction to my father’s book, Step to Freedom, to learn about what inspired me to want to join the Peace Corps.
After traveling around the world, Erin and I returned to the U.S. in December 1999, just before the dotcom crash. But that was just enough time for me to get hooked on the web. As a way of connecting my far-flung family members (Zuikers are spread from Hawaii to the Carolinas) I started a family website, Zuiker Chronicles Online, and began to write a weblog. After a few years, I renamed my blog the Coconut Wireless; in June 2004 I moved it to a new site, mistersugar.com. Zuiker Chronicles now has a family blog and other community-building tools, including an interactive map and an extensive family tree database.
I often use the nickname “mistersugar.” Here’s the story: When I first introduced myself to the sixth graders at the Liro Primary School, I explained that Zuiker comes from the Dutch word for sugar (suiker). The students had a hard time pronouncing Zuiker (zie-ker), so I suggested they just call me Mr. Sugar. Later in the term, when I bought a pig — I wanted to raise the same animals the villagers did, so I had chickens, a dog, a cat and a pig — I asked the students to name him. Mistersugar was the consensus vote. (We dubbed the kitten Pima, the Bislama word for chile, after her fiery encounter with a can of chile-infused tuna.)
Why I Blog
I created my first website in summer 2000 to honor my dying grandfather. Soon after, I started blogging. To this day, I continue both activities as a way to broaden my communication and technology skills, to finesse my writing talents, to express myself and share my observations and to build community. Read my October 2006 post/newspaper essay about blogging ethics and the golden rule.
I marked A decade of blogging with a bit more background about how and why I created this blog.
At mistersugar.com, I write about my life, my interests in infectious diseases and architecture, my addictions to dark chocolate and loose-leaf tea, my family and my pasttimes, which include reading, hiking, juggling, photography, talking and listening. At Zuiker Chronicles Online, I’m using a blog to keep my family informed. At JCU92.org, a blog helps my fellow John Carroll University classmates stay connected and share stories about our times on campus. Similarly, I created Storian.org to help Vanuatu RPCVs keep in touch. At Wireless Durham I’m trying to map the wifi locations throughout my city. (My blogs medicaljournalism.info and VanAmericanNius are defunct.)
At BlogTogether.org, I help the North Carolina community of bloggers and podcasters come together to share our online experiences in face-to-face settings.
I am co-founder of the annual ScienceOnline conference (formerly North Carolina Science Blogging Conference), which we’ve held every January since 2007. Read an N&O article about my efforts to organize the science blogging conference: Bloggers to talk science.
I often speak to small groups and large conferences (including the AMA’s medical communications conference) about the history and development of weblogs and how various professionals can use blogs in their varied lines of work. (Read my thoughts on business blogging.)
In September 2007, I organized a food blogging event with chef-author-blogger Michael Ruhlman. Read Ruhlman’s post about his trip to Durham.
Since June 2010, I have served as communications director for the Duke Department of Medicine. Previously, I was manager of internal communications for the Duke University Health System. The views on this website are solely my own, and should not be associated with Duke University or Duke University Health System.
From March 2005 to August 2007, I worked for the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as communication director for MEASURE Evaluation, a USAID-funded project to improve the monitoring and evaluation of population, health, infectious disease and nutrition programs in developing countries.
In 2004, I earned a master’s degree in medical journalism from the UNC-CH School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Read my thesis reporting project, a 12,000-word narrative feature about acute HIV infection and a rise in HIV incidence in North Carolina college students. Until recently, I was a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
Previously, I was editor of Northern Ohio Live, a monthly arts and culture magazine based in Cleveland. I also contributed an award-winning monthly column on innovation in science, technology and education to that magazine.
Thank you for visiting my site and reading this page of information. I hope you’ve enjoyed your introduction to mistersugar.
I’m always eager to hear from you – and you don’t have to rely on the the coconut wireless. Please leave your comments on my weblog, or contact me by phone or e-mail. See the Contact page for details.