Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sick as a dog...

Actually, probably just the first part of that applies: I'm medicated, but all I want to do is sleep and not cough. Why do I keep getting sick, hmmm? I've been getting sick every three weeks or so, and it's annoying.

Basel World started this week. I asked the hair dresser yesterday what it is exactly, and she said it's an "Uhren und Schmuck" (watch and jewelry) show. I thought I heard "Ohren and schmeck" (ears and taste). Kind of a big difference.

Ireland was fun, blustery, damp, rocky, green, and had an ocean--more than one in fact. I tend to feel a bit land-locked in Switzerland, so it was great to drive along the coast. It was also great to be in an English-speaking country again for the first time since July.

Do these cliffs look familiar to you? The "Cliffs of Insanity!" (aka the Cliffs of Moher.)

Flat Stanley is at risk of becoming Wrinkled Stanley in the wind, but fortunately, thanks to Valda's firm grasp, he didn't get blown down to the ocean.

Cool birds of prey show we saw in Burren.

More pictures later perhaps of the other things we did and saw in Ireland, but I am off to bed for now. OH! I forgot to say anything about the run! Even though my knee was having an attitude problem, I was able to run the first 4 miles and walk the rest, and I'm none the worse for wear now.

more later. Ich gang go schlofe

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I'm bound for Ireland this weekend, as you know, and since it was also St. Patrick's Day this week, I thought it appropriate to focus on that wee green country today.

Professor John V. Kelleher, the famous Harvard Irish-American scholar who died a few years back, said that his earliest acquaintance with Irish-American history of the written variety "was gained from the sort of articles that used to appear in minor Catholic magazines or in the Boston Sunday papers. They were turgid little essays on the fact that the Continental Army was 76 percent Irish, or that many of George Washington's closest friends were nuns or priests, or that Lincoln got the major ideas for the Second Inaugural Address from the Hon. Francis P. Magehgegan of Alpaca, New York, a pioneer manufacturer of cast-iron rosary beads." Kelleher called this the "there's-always-an-Irishman-at-the-bottom-of-it-doing-the-real-work approach to American history." That makes me laugh, because even though those essays he read were probably published in the '40s or so, I occasionally get emails in the same tradition, attributing all sorts of greatness to the Irish.

I do agree the Irish are lovely (consider Valda and Elaine, for instance), but did you know we americans apparently have a reputation among them for being a bit naive and too trusting? Valda's brother (I think it was her brother) once met some American girls who were concerned over the problem of Leprosy in Ireland. "Leprosy! there's no Leprosy problem in Ireland," he said, quite dumbfounded. "Yes there is," they insisted. Some Irish guys they met had told them all about the Leprechauns and the tragic leprosy situation in the country.

"Girls like that shouldn't be allowed out of their country," Valda's brother concluded.

I'll do my best to not confirm that opinion while I'm there, but... know how I am.

In other news, Joe Purdy has a purty voice.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ultrasound results

I had my first ultrasound last night. Don't worry--it was just for my knee! (ha! I bet you just about fell off your chair when you read 'ultrasound,' didn't you, Mom?). My physical therapist friend Raphael has adopted me as guniea pig and got permission from the powers-that-be at the hospital to try to help my leg feel better. So I stopped by last night and got to see where he works and more about what he does. He poked at the back of my knee for a while and did ultrasound therapy on it. He sort of implied that I shouldn't go running, but since he's not REALLY my therapist, I went anyway. That lasted all of 13 min., so no more running for me until Sunday. Excluding, of course, running for trains, trams, and busses. Nice having friends at the hospital though, huh? Next I think I'll make some Accountant friends, and some Airline employee friends, and maybe some Hotel employee friends. Just kidding. (And don't get me started on what I actually think about such shameless, 'think-not-what-you-can-do-for-others-but-what-others-can-do-for-you' networking strategies).

But, all that to say, I do have quite a few friends at the moment working in fields related to health and well-being. For the most part, they are jobs I admire but would have a very difficult time doing myself. I wouldn't want to work in a hospital for instance. But, I've been doing this project on HIV/AIDs, and thinking about theological perspectives on health care. I'm reading a book on the churches' response to AIDS. It talks about the theology of creation, and how from that we learn about relationships in the world, and about God's initiating and sustaining relationship with us and the rest of creation--relationships marked by love and by the granting of freedom of response. Then in the incarnation, we see this model of love and freedom enacted in Jesus, who showed what it's like to live in right relationship with God and with people. Some thoughts on Christians and disease, from the book:

"Just as God in love accompanies all creation [didn't leave it to fend for itself, but continually extends himself by sustaining creation and by offering grace to us], so Jesus went among the poor, telling them that they were loved by God even if they had not been able to keep the law scupulously. He dined with the rich...he healed Jewish lepers and a Roman soldier's child. There were women in the group that travelled with him, and unlike many holy men he did not shrink away from the touch of a prostitue. In all that breadth of relationship, Jesus incarnated the accessibility of God, who "shows no partiality" (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11), but is open to all--rich or poor, sick or healthy, old or young...all this has something to say to the churches about human being-in-relation. [...]There can be no valuable relationship in which each does not desire the well-being of the others. God's concern for the well-being of creation is visible in Jesus' healing of the sick and his exorcising of demons. Medical work and froms of other healing maintain that tradition. This is one way human beings express both the openness, and the esteem and affection, of their being-in-relation to those with HIV/AIDS, even though no cure has been found.

Relationships continually require an enlargement of understanding. No one understands from the start everything about being in relation. [...] Jesus, praying in the garden of Gethsemane that the cup of suffering might be taken from him, does not appear as one who is iron-clad in divine immunity, but rather as a person who went forward without the certainty of any such position and
trusted in God. Nor are we required to be invulnerable and certain in our relationships. Rather we are called to be open, learning, and trusting."

Fitting health care and our response to suffering into perspectives of creation and the incarnation makes a lot of sense to me. Without that, hospitals make me think of Hobbes and his observation that life is nasty, brutish and short. It's been good hanging out with my medically-minded friends, like Raph, and watching them care for people. I'd still probably be a really bad nurse, but I'm starting to understand care-giving professions more.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

scientific opinion

'fraid I don't have much to say. I'm kinda disappointed I got bumped out of a class that gave priority to students in a different master program. It was one of the German classes I was in too, so now I'm down to just two in German. How am I supposed to learn German if my strategy for cheap language lessons keeps running into road blocks? My nanny schedule is just prohibitive enough to make almost nothing else work, not to mention now I'd be entering a class three weeks late. Grrr.

Another point I feel rather grrr-ish about: I hurt my knee early last week, and running isn't working out too well as a result. 1/2 Marathon is a week from today.


On the more positive side, however, a lady I know from the bus invited me today to maybe play tennis with her sometime. I told her I've only tried one time, but would be happy to learn if she doesn't mind teaching me. We'll see if it works out. She's been saying for AGES she'd like to have me over for tea. We do have a date for that now, but she is quite busy and tired as a single mom, and she spends a lot of time helping her mom too. But tennis. Could be fun, huh? Yay for friends. And especially yay for friends who aren't friends with any of my other friends.

Back to work tomorrow! Think it's too much to hope that the potty training endeavor will be successfully completed? Probably so, I guess. I think I drove the little girl nuts last week; I asked her every ten minutes or so if she had to go. She probably thought, "Gosh woman! leave me alone already!" But ya know. It's my first time potty training!

And speaking of such things (children being kind of needy and endearing-if-gross in that neediness) you know how much I hate it if people don't wash their hands thoroughly. For a while I made a big deal about telling the girls they needed to wash "with SOAP!" and I smell their hands to verify. But, perhaps not surprisingly, I soon noticed that their hands, although smelling nicely of soap, were not the least bit damp afterward, and coincidently, I also wasn't hearing any water running in the next room. (I questioned M1 about that, and she said she'd just dried her hands "so well." uh huuuh.)

I've wizened up and now insist they have to use water too. But we were sitting at lunch the other day and M1 was sticking her fingers in her mouth. That's not good anyway, but particularly because M2 was sick, I told her to take her fingers out of her mouth, and asked them if they know why we don't stick our fingers in our eyes/noses/mouths, and why we need to wash our hands. They said no. I did my best to explain about micro-organisms, pathogenic medicine, Koch's Postulates--in short, why you are more likely to get sick if you do that. When I'd finished, M1 wrinkled her nose in clear disbelief, looked at M2 and said, "EHH?? THAT's weird!" M2 affirmed that opinion, stuck her fingers in her mouth to drive the point home, and just like that--Germ theory was discredited by a five year old.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

the distraction that is youtube

I hopped on youtube a little bit ago to find a song someone recommended, and was distracted by the vlogbrothers "PEEPS for Bangladesh" project. I ran across these guys back when Palin was chosen as McCain's running mate. Hank and John are brothers who record videos back and forth to each other, and are often interesting and always amusing. Now, I'm not promoting their project necessarily; I just think John makes a good point about intimacy and empathy, and found the video thought provoking.

Our compassion is nearsighted. Lamentations says the compassion of the Lord never fails. And we're supposed to be compassionate like he is.

Psalm 72:13-14. He will have compassion on the poor and the needy, and the lives of the needy he will save. He will rescue their life from oppression and violence; and their blood will be precious in his sight.

Psalm 139 (very famously) talks about how God is intimately acquainted with people. He knows when we get up and when we lie down, understands out thoughts, and scrutinizes the way we go. Before we speak he knows what we'll say, and he has his hand upon us. Wherever we go, his spirit is there too. If intimacy is linked to empathy, then it's no surprise that his compassion for us is as deep as his understanding.

We're to love our neighbors, including the ones way off in Bangladesh and Africa (ha! you knew I'd mention the continent, didn't you!?), so...we'd best be about getting to know them. Read a book. Make some foreign friends. Follow a blog. Watch a documentary. Go on a service trip. etc.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

alive and well

yep, it's true. I'm still around. Just thought I'd say so for the benefit of those who are doubting, and you can all look forward to a blog about fasnacht, playing in the snow, and the joys of potty training. At the moment, I have to go to work...ta ta!