Author: Lake Toba

Furthermore! – Defeat at the Victory Garden

My garden plot was a failure this year. But not for lack of trying. I have enjoyed gardening for many years. But most of the places I’ve lived haven’t been conducive to growing edible things. Since moving to Bunkerstan, I finally found a climate where I could grow food. There are two community gardens in my city. The city park service, for a nominal fee, rents out plots 20×30 feet where residents can grow food or flowers for the summer months. Now, I think it is a wonderful thing that the community makes these things available. In fact, I found the thought exciting. Here was a chance for me to live a more “green” lifestyle. Because I was growing my own food, I could not help thinking of my garden as a “victory garden”. A victory garden, was the garden plot people were encouraged to have during WW II to grow food to supplement their diet. It was encouraged so that the bulk of agriculture could be committed to the war effort. I spent a couple hundred dollars on gardening supplies, because I didn’t have what I needed to properly tend a vegetable garden. I also bought some cheap plastic material and stakes to build a small fence line, that I think did more to satisfy my territoriality than it ever would to stop animals (or as it turned...

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Midday Matinee – A Hearty Thank You to the Plumber

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. Today I had a plumber come out to my apartment. There was a pool of water forming in my bathroom that I first noticed on Wednesday. At first, I thought that I had been careless with the shower curtain, and mopped up the mess and moved on. But when the pool reappeared without my having been in the shower, I began to suspect a problem. Now I knew that the water heater, water softener and furnace were on the other side of the wall in the laundry room, so I wandered over there to see what was what. And of course, there was a flood. A pool of water was abutted to the wall of my unit. Where had it come from? I didn’t know, but I suspected the water softener that the management of my apartment had stopped providing salt for a year earlier. (I’ve mentioned previously the rather poor water quality of my unit in comments on this site.) So I called the property management company and reported the issue. Suspecting that they would do nothing except look at it, I waited for the handy man to show up, and put his nose in it, so to speak. He said he’d take care of it, and I...

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Midday Matinee – Climbing Walls

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. To climb a wall is a euphemism for being driven around the bend. Which is a euphemism for going crazy from frustration. It’s something we all experience. But there is another form of wall climbing. This kind of wall climbing brings fun and relief to a day of hard work and stress. It is one that saves you from metaphorically climbing walls … by literally climbing walls. Its one in which you tether yourself to a rope, and someone belays you so you don’t fall to the ground and break bones. It’s where if you don’t have a partner, you can climb indoor boulders. There, the height is never more than six feet. And a foot of shredded tire rubber awaits you should you fall, sparing you much harm, and bringing a bit of laughter to yourself and witnesses when you crash to the ground. And it’s a sport that teaches many lessons. I’ve learned it’s a sport where age matters little, and where someone who is “over the hill” can still learn new things. Other lessons I’ve learned in the handful of weekends I’ve been able to go are amazing. They include finding out how fast my body can build strength. I’ve learned that strength from weight training...

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Furthermore! – The Network is Down

Where is your wireless network? I’m sitting in your coffee shop. One I’ve visited many times before. I come here because you have great sandwiches and soups, made fresh in the store, every day. I come here because I like the air conditioning when my apartment’s can’t keep up with the summer heat. I come here with friends to chat and enjoy company. And I come here to use your network. I have my own, but sitting in a cave in my apartment holds little appeal for me when I’m interested in getting a few hours of work done. How the world has changed. I sometimes wonder whether there is a new fluorescence of coffee shops – perhaps brought around because of the lattes and frappes of the Starbucks era, where yuppies could enjoy a pseudo-Italian named drink. Perhaps too the advent of WiFi has changed forever the expectations of people. It’s there and it’s free, a fringe benefit of loitering in a coffee shop. So here I am, at your establishment. There is soothing classical music playing. People around me are having fun conversation about people they know, and things they’ve done. But your network is completely down. My laptop can’t even find the merest hint of a hub. Did you turn if off for some reason? Perhaps too many people come here for the network, and not...

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Evening Focus: Interview with The Carter Center, Part 3 – Responding to Guinea Worm Outbreaks

The key to eradicating Guinea worm disease is “surveillance, surveillance, surveillance.” (More) This is Part 3 of my interview with Craig Withers, the Director of Program Support at The Carter Center. In Part 1, we talked about the political and cultural challenges The Carter Center faces in their efforts to eradicate Guinea worm disease. In Part 2, we discussed how The Carter Center helps people gain and maintain access to safer water as part of their Guinea worm eradication efforts. Tonight our interview concludes with how The Carter Center responds to outbreaks of Guinea worm disease. Craig Withers has more than 20 years experience in public health policy. He received a Master of Business Administration in international business and a Master of Health Administration in health planning from Georgia State University, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Notre Dame. His honors include awards for work done as special assistant to the deputy director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. +++++ LT: Active monitoring is required to ensure that new cases of Guinea worm disease are caught early and to facilitate certification eradication of the disease. That must be an enormous undertaking. How do you gather and follow up on Guinea worm disease cases? And what are the most critical parts of that effort? CW:...

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