Conversations this week
On Monday, I met my friend Stephan for lunch at Fosters Market in Durham. Tuesday, a delightful morning meeting with Wayne Sutton, a local blogger, web developer, deacon and all-around nice guy. Today, the science writers book club, always a stimulating discussion about writing, science and more.
A couple of minutes ago, a crashing sound from outside and the house shook. Then a phone call from a neighbor — no water!
UPDATE: Water’s back on. Whew.
UPDATE: Off again. On again. Off again.
FINAL UPDATE: Water was on the next morning and no problems since. Whew.
I’m alive. Will be back with renewed blogging this weekend.
My calendar of events
Meetings of note:
- I met my college roommate Stephan for lunch today at Fosters Market in Durham. We had a great chat—I’m going to learn a lot about business and management from him.
- Tonight I’ll be in High Point to have dinner with my mother.
- Tomorrow I’ll attend the excellent ConvergeSouth conference.
- Monday evening I’ll be at the Chapel Hill Bloggers Meetup at the Chapel Hill Library at 7 p.m.
- Tuesday I have a deadline to submit an essay to the News & Observer about blogging.
- Tuesday night I’ll attend an NBA exhibition game at the Dean Dome with Stephan.
- Thursday I’ll give a presentation about blogs, podcasts and wikis to the Carolina Technology Consultants conference.
- Next Sunday, I’ll catch Old Crow Medicine Show at Cat’s Cradle.
An early posting
John Ettorre tagged me with a request to dig into my blog archives. Here’s my 23rd post from way back in December 2000 :
The denouement of the episode was a beautiful story about helping a friend out of a hole: â€œItâ€™s ok, Iâ€™ve been down here before. I know the way out.â€
[I’ll add my 5 tags tomorrow.]
It’s commencement weekend at UNC-CH, and Anand Panyarachun, the former prime minister of Thailand, is in town to receive an honorary degree. The University Center for International Studies and the Kenan Institute organized a roundtable discussion and luncheon with the esteemed Mr. Panyarachun, and I got to attend this. My interest was in hearing him talk about sparking his country’s fight against HIV:
Anand was the first Asian leader to recognize HIV/AIDS as a major development challenge and to mount a nation-wide program in 1991 to combat the epidemic in Thailand. As a result, Thailand was able to significantly reduce the number of HIV infections due to the effective HIV prevention program instituted by the Anand Government.
but I learned more about the history of Thailand – how colonial powers put a Malay Muslim kingdom inside the borders of Thailand, and how that province is the subject of reconciliation efforts that might give autonomy to the region – and the treaties of Westphalia and the world’s response to the “America First” attitude of the Bush Administration. In short, Mr. Panyarachun held forth for nearly two hours, and I felt honored to be able to hear him share his vast knowledge.
“Your perspective of China is all mixed up. You’re totally confused,” he said. “Europe had its days in the 17th and 18th centuries. The U.S. had its days in the 20th Century. The next 95 years will be the days of China, Japan, India.” (Something Thomas Friedman has been saying of late.)
In this corner
Highlights of the past week:
Monday: Erin’s 32nd birthday.
Tuesday: lunch at Weaver Street Market with Badi Bradley, who suggested I visit the studio of Siglinda Scarpa.
Wednesday: Badi and his wife, Luisa Pedrosa (Anna’s former babysitter), on a moment’s notice, agreed to watch Anna and Malia for a few hours so Erin and I could attend the Fred T. Foard, Jr. Memorial Lecture, given this year by Dr. David Heymann of the World Health Organization. He spoke about dilemmas in public health, and drew on his experiences fighting Ebola (he was on the team that investigated the first outbreak in 1975), polio and SARS (he directed the WHO response to that emerging infectious disease in 2003). I’ll post a podcast of his talk later today. Most surprising part of his presentation was learning about the Global Public Health Intelligence Network, “a secure, Internet-based ‘early warning’ system that gathers preliminary reports of public health significance in seven languages on a real-time, 24/7 basis.”
Thursday: Jonnelle Allen, who sat with us at the Foard Lecture, watched Anna and Malia so Erin and I could go out for a dinner to celebrate our birthdays. We chose nearby Nana’s, where we savored our delicious dishes:
- Risotto with Niman Ranch ham, smoked scallops and sweet peas, finished with grilled radicchio and parmesan reggiano.
- Celebrity Farms goat cheese crumbled in a salad of roasted beets, baby arugula and Belgian endive in a citrus vinaigrette.
- Sauteed Alaskan halibut with little neck clams over roasted celery root, purple Peruvian potatoes and zucchini, finished with a leek broth.
- Grilled Niman Ranch pork chop over roasted salsify, butterbeans and Swiss chard in a trumpet mushroom sauce.
- Dessert was a glass of Renwood port and a lemon curd tart over blackberry puree with strawberry slices.
Over dinner, Erin alerted me to my expired driver’s license, and she thanked me for being her cornerman, a term she picked up earlier in the week while watching Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story. I gave Erin a copy of Mary Doria Russell’s A Thread of Grace.
Friday: Breakfast at Foster’s Market with Rose Hoban of WUNC (which has a horrible new logo). Rose was a Jesuit Volunteer Corps volunteer in Micronesia, a nurse in California and a journalism grad student at UC Berkeley before being recruited to Chapel Hill to cover North Carolina public health and health policy stories.
Saturday: I created nickandstaci.com, where we’ll update information about my brother Nick’s wedding later this year.
Sunday: Today, we took a drive into the country on this cool, blustery day to visit two farms on the Piedmont Farm Tour. At the Fickle Creek Farm, Ben Bergmann told Anna about how his great Pyrenees livestock guard dogs keep the 600 chickens and 75 goats safe from hawks, owls, wild dogs, foxes, raccoons, snakes and other predators. “One of the ironies of modern society is that my [recent Passover] customers get my chickens from a halal butcher,” I overheard Ben telling another visitor. “Halaal is to Islam what kosher is to Judaism,” he explains.
Anna and Malia petted one of the other dogs at Fickle Creek Farm.
We also paid a visit to Chapel Hill Creamery, which makes Erin’s favorite cheese; we buy that at the Carrboro Farmers Market.
Now that's a road trip, or where faith can take you
At the AHCJ conference today, I met Julia Lampam, a Brit who was in to teach the health journalists to use the Cochrane Library, “the best single source of reliable evidence about the effects of health care.” We got to talking about blogs, and she mentioned her new blog, The Mongol Rally Blog, about the 8000-mile trip she and her husband will soon set out on. All the best, Julia.
Last night, the association held a silent auction before the plenary dinner. My Cleveland friend and fellow health writer (I was her editor at Live), Eileen Beal, arranged for one of the best auction items ever: the highest bidder would get his or her name used as a character in the next novel of Cleveland writer Mary Doria Russell. Russell wrote the awesome Jesuits-in-space novels The Sparrow and Children of God, and her new historical novel about a Jewish family escaping over the Alps to the safety of Jew-saving Italians during WWII, A Thread of Grace came out in January. (I stopped into the bookstore tonight to read the first few pages of that novel—it’s got a prelude with a punch. Don’t miss those pages.) When I was editor of Live, Dan Rourke covered the publication of The Sparrow by writing up his conversation about the book with a Jesuit from Ignatius High School.
Yesterday being my birthday, I thought I’d give myself the gift of getting into the pages of Russell’s next book. So I started a bidding war with Elizabeth Maggio, a freelance writer and frustrated novelist, but bowed out when she told me she’d never get her own book published and this would be the only way for her to get her name into a novel. (I’ll write a book of my own someday, so I’m not worried.)
Among the many writers and journalists I met this weekend was Laurene Sorensen, a lawyer from Moscow, Idaho. She told me she plans to blog about her travels on RoadCat—“Eating, drinking, working, and sleeping on the fly.”
In the bookstore tonight, I came upon the latest book by Michael Ruhlman, House: A Memoir. Ruhlman is another Cleveland writer and Live connection; he trained me for the no-glory role of being the calendar of events editor for the magazine before he left to write his books. And he’s written some excellent non-fiction books. House is about the Cleveland Heights home he and his wife bought and renovated.
I was in that house one afternoon in the Spring of 2000. I’d gone to meet Ruhlman on his lunch break to try to recruit him to be a contributing editor to PlanetKnowHow, the startup how-to website John Ettorre and I were creating (a house of cards, as it turned out). Ruhlman met me in his kitchen, and as I made my pitch—monthly retainer for help in beefing up the cooking section—he munched and crunched on his lunch of carrots and celery. I’ve often thought back on that strange time. Ruhlman told me his days were regimented (so he could write at least 1500 words a day) and his lunch time short, and he obviously wasn’t about to consider writing for a web startup … and dammit if I didn’t misspell his name on the one-page outline I’d written to explain the possible collaboration. The few times I’ve met him since, Michael’s always been cordial to me. So I’ll buy his book this week.
In my email, I get this disappointing news:
It is with great regret that we have to announce the cancellation of the Duke-UNC conference; “Crossings Borders and Crossing Perspectives: Global Health Partnerships for HIV/AIDS”, scheduled for April 15-16.
Keynote speaker Zackie Achmat of South Africa’s Treatment Action Coalition has suffered a severe heart attack. With the loss of the keynote, the conference organizers have also lost funding to support the events.
Please do note that events on April 14th will still take place. The first event is at 5pm, the second at 7pm. Fliers for both are attached.
* Thursday, April 14th, 5.00pm: “Global Health Partnerships Voices from Asia and Africa” sponsored by the Health Inequalities Center at Duke. Fleishman Commons Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy Duke University
* Thursday, April 14th, 7.00 p.m., Searle Center Lecture Hall, Duke University Medical Center: Panel discussion on “The Orphan Epidemic: Real Voices from Africa and Asia.” Panel organized by the Health Inequalities Program, Duke University with its international colleagues: Dafrosa Itemba, KIWAKKUKU (Women Fighting Vigorously Against HIV/AIDS), Tanzania; Michael Meegan, International Community for the Relief of Suffering and Starvation, Kenya; Neville Selhore, Sahara House, India; Ashok Rau, Freedom Foundation, India; Mao Lang, Meahto Phum Ko’mah (Homeland), Cambodia; Frehiwot Alebachew, Save Lives Ethiopia Development Organization; Sibulele Sibaca, LoveLife, South Africa.
On our way tomorrow to Cleveland for a week of real winter and reunions with family and friends. Do you know about the writers salon ? Please join us.
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