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Sorry for the delays

I have no really worthy excuses for not writing.  I certainly have had more time on my hands since completing the TropMed course in Liverpool.  I have yet to do anything remotely suggestive of real work since then.  If you are keeping score, that would be since May 9th, and as it is currently June 27, that is right about 6 weeks of holiday.  I’m feeling rather German with all this time off.  A few more weeks and I’ll be French!

I will be starting a new job next week, however, so playtime is coming to an end in one sense.  In another sense playtime is just going through a mild period of restructuring.  I am downsizing playtime in an effort to maximize effective use of the time.  Ok, playtime is being given a very nice severence package and will be coming back on a purely per diem basis.  “I think it will be much more effective, don’t you agree?  Great.  I’ll be sure that you get a new copy of the memo.   Yeah.  And I’ll be needing you to come in on Saturdays starting next week, mm-K?  Great.  I’m glad we had this little chat.”

Hopefully I’ll keep updating as I get more organized and settled into a routine at the new job.  If you get to wondering what’s new and I don’t update this, feel free to send me an email and prod a little.  I like to write but don’t always have much reason to write publically unless I have something that I have to share, and even then I wonder who really reads this.  You don’t have to fess-up or anything, but comments are always encouraging.  Except for the negative ones.  They are only encouraging me to get one of my friends to hack that person’s computer and give it a virus that will search for email addresses and send love notes from the user to all of their friends one by one.  How awkward would that be?

Anyway, more to come!

Prejudiced but not proud

Lots of people talk about prejudices, racism, hate crimes, and profiling, and most of those who talk or write on this subject do so with the underlying assumption that they are exempt from these ideas, as though they themselves are uniquely qualified to rant and rave about how one group or another is oppressed or otherwise negatively affected. The speaker is of course either a member of the affected group or sympathetic to them for whatever reason, but rarely is the speaker one of the prejudiced party. This makes sense, but there is a parallel that I am thinking about these days that is often missed: those of us who think we are not prejudiced are often deceiving ourselves.

I like to think that I was raised in a home where all people were supposed to be equal no matter color or creed. We even sang a song about it: “Jesus loves the little children… red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight…” I went to school with children from many backgrounds and ethnicities. There were Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, African, Indian, Jewish, African-American, Hispanic, and I don’t know how many others. I was best friends with a guy named Gregg Matte, now the pastor at my church, and then after he moved away my best friend was Chris, the new black guy from around the corner. His family taught me a lot by never treating me any different from Chris- I was just his friend and they were nice like the family they were, but they certainly didn’t seem to care a bit about the difference in skin color. I really respected that.

However as I have grown up, I have come to realize that we all have prejudices about something. Or some group. Or someone. It is inevitable. Unavoidable even. No matter how much we try to avoid it, the truth is that the only way to really get rid of a particular prejudice is to get to know that thing or person better. For example when I went to Spain four years ago I got to know a few people from the Netherlands. They were continually surprised at how I didn’t fit their paradigm of a guy from Texas! Really? Who could possibly think something odd about Texans? Well, besides a few who have met Texans like Ross Perot or Howard Hughes, perhaps it could be mostly people who don’t know even one of us personally. And that got me thinking about prejudices and how we often have many that we don’t think about. It is easy to go on thinking that a generalization is accurate, especially when it seems somewhat harmless, but when presented with the truth we then are left either to believe that the facts are an exception to the generalization or maybe, just maybe, the generalization is incorrect.

So there it is. We are all prejudiced people to some degree, and for those of us who know and love God already there is only one cure: exposure to the very thing we would almost rather avoid. I am certainly not there yet, but it has been my pleasure through many travels to crack a few paradigms that just did not fit. In just the same way I have had some of my own ideas cracked by those I have let in to my own life. Thanks to God and to all of you out there for helping me continue to grow up.

Medical Oddity of the Month

Check out this story about a girl in Greece and her twin. I have to speculate that this occurred just a bit after she began developing.

Spanish Thoughts

Better than walking spanish down the hall is actually walking in Spain.  It has been really nice here for the past few days, with weather not too hot nor cold.  It is just right, although I would like it to be a little warmer when I go to the beach Saturday.

My friends Andrew and Jamie have been taking great care of me and still are able to get their work done.  That has been cool, because I certainly didn’t want to be in the way as their guest.  On the contrary they have made me feel most welcome indeed.  I have even gone with them to the local gym where today we did a boxing workout.  That was pretty fun, let me tell you.  I am a little sore from pulling punches, though, because I didn’t want to hurt the instructor.  Actually he was a crusty old guy who could probably have knocked me out with one punch after toying with me until I was exhausted.

Hopefully I’ll be a little more able to write now that my course has finished. See you soon, wherever you are.

Done, Done, On to the Next One

     Barring a very unexpected phone call inviting me to attend an optional oral examination tomorrow for an academic medal, I am now finished with my diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene (yes, I already knew how to wash behind my ears and clean my teeth, so don’t even go there).   Tomorrow we will get the official results, but I am sure that I at least passed the course.  “Nobody ever fails,” they said, and I even feel good about my exams, so I’m just relaxing and enjoying the day. 

     We had a nice dinner together last night at a local restaurant as sort of a celebration.  It was good fun.   As Class Rep I was asked to give an impromtu speech.   Not having any good speech writer’s like Ronald Reagan had, I had to rely on my on rapier wit. 

     “Friends, our two Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears! Four score and 10 days or so ago we gathered here in Liverpool to begin this study in Tropical Medicine.  I have a dream that one day we all will be out there serving others… (you get the idea).” 

     I think I need a new speech writer.

The Cowboy

Ridin’ cross the desert plains the cowboy saw smoke in the air

He knew that meant the Apache were near

He knew that meant the End may be near, but he didn’t fear

Any man.  But they ain’t just any man, ya’hear?

He knew his horse was fast and his six-gun faster

Yet he had no quarrel and just wanted to get through

Ta git back to his home, back to his little spread

Where he had a wife and somewhere to lay his head.

He rode hard once he knew they’d a seen ‘im

He didn’t want to know what they wanted,

Better off he’d just skedaddle like he should-

He stayed in that saddle as long as he could

Soon enough it was dark and he had to rest

His horse did not protest-he was spent

Like a two-bit pony at the fair at the end of the day

He just wanted to drink and munch on some hay

Later though the cowboy woke with a start

He ‘bout stopped his heart when he found he was

Surrounded.  His shootin’ iron would be no good now

Against the ten braves he could see,

I’d bet there were more if you’d’ve asked me.

“Eve’nin,” was all he could think to say, ‘cause he was in a bad way

Savages couldn’t understand ‘im noways.

He knew he was done fer, but it couldn’t hurt to be polite-

They was neighbors of sorts, after all

He wondered if they would scalp ‘im

Or just bury him to the neck near an antbed to watch ‘im suffer

He’d heard they did that to some settlers a while back but weren’t sure

If it was true or just another tall tale like those he used to tell

You know, fer fun even though they might not be ‘xactly true.

“Maybe they’s gonna skin me alive,” he thought to hisself

Or just put an arrow in his gut; that’d git ‘er done.

So imagine his surprise when one of ‘em leaned in close

And spoke: ” White man, don’t mind us, we was just havin’ fun”

They’d just lost a cow and found him instead;

No harm was meant, and nobody was dead

Needless to say our cowboy learned a lesson that day:

Don’t never judge a man ‘fore he’s had his say.

(written for International Night at LSTM)

I really do need to write more

Here’s an article in my stead, however.  It is about drinking water and the need (or lack thereof) to drink 8 ounce glasses of it several times a day.