Archives for posts with tag: epidemiology

Up in the middle of the night to double-check that flight came through and do a few things to ensure that I am really flying out on Monday.

Up again, an hour later to receive ticket and know that I have a plan. A real plan. There, around and back again.

Treat myself and the body by sleeping in. The body and eyes protest at the hour anyway.

Yes, I know some people don’t consider 7:30am as “sleeping in”.

I do. It boarders on…slothful.

And we are still considering “sloth” as a sin, aren’t we?

Yes, I thought you would appreciate the irony of that statement.

Yoga is the full hour this morning – I’m a little off my practice and have to get back to being disciplined.

Look, you can stop that giggling right now.

Yes, I know I said “disciplined”, but I think we both know I wasn’t talking about “discipline”, but discipline.

Please, behave.

It was good – concentrated mostly on Sun Salutations and modified Sun Salutations, you should see how good my Swan is coming along. Pidgeon too. I can get both my feet up near the opposite shoulder for each pose.

Yes, my hips do feel pretty awesome, thanks for asking.

Yes, I know you ask becuz you care.

Thank you.

Putter around a bit as the day looks cloudy and grey out there. I’ve pretty much reached my limit in terms of winter-wear, so it is a skirt with tee and hoodie with jacket and super comfy, super sexy walking shoes. Backpack? Of course!

Take my laptop with me in case I find a shop where I can get breakfast and they have free WiFi.

Yes, I know I’m spoiled with all the free WiFi I’ve had.

Yes, I am pretty spoiled in other ways too. Thank you for pointing that out to me – as if I didn’t already know…

And there I go! Out into the rain, out into Hong Kong.

I get lost immediately.

Shops, people, twisty, windy streets, stairs, slopes, pavement, buildings, temples, apartments, hotels, shops, shops, shops, stairs, stairs, stairs.

Give up and find a bakery attached to a little 7-11 (have I told you how many 7-11s there are in this part of the world – it is like they are colonizing) and grab 2 buns stuffed with pepper chicken.

Yes, for a moment I do worry about food poisoning, I take a chance anyway. Remember: live a little, take a chance.

Eventually, after finding the Fresh Food Market, the Wholesale Market and Western Market – none of which I wanted to find – I find a park where I can sit and eat and jot down a few notes in the Moleskin.

Ink bleeds on paper in the rain and I watch the ferries go in and out of the port.

I like ferries.

Yes, I like fairies too.

Looks like this is one place that locals hang out, run around, walk their dogs (no one pays attention to the “No Dogs” signs available in 3 languages) and walk.

I follow the locals and end up…

Where I am?

Oh, hey! I’m in a shopping centre. How did that happen?

I make the best of it and clamp down the urge to go screaming from it. People are out in full force, shopping their hearts out. I fail and don’t buy anything. Bad consumer, bad consumer.

Follow the crowd for a bit and end up walking along some pedestrian pathways to other buildings.

Take a right, then a left, then two more rights, walk straight for a bit, go up stairs, turn corners, go down stairs, turn right and go up a set of stairs and end up…

I’m at my hotel.

Seriously, I don’t even know how it is physically possible to get from where I was back the hotel.

Yes, I do think that I went through a worm-hole or interdimensional portal or something.

No, I’m not going to speculate which one it was.

No, I don’t want to tell you more about it. All I know is that it defies the laws of physics.

As long as I’m here, go up the room, which has been refreshed, brush teeth and re-apply lipjunk (did I tell you how cute I look today?) and it is me, back into the world!

Start off the same direction as this morning and take a few new turns. More stairs, they are wet now, so I’m being careful and go up and down and up and down and around and around. Hong Kong is a wild ride.

They also have random street signs pointing in directions of places of interest. I decide I could do with a visit to a museum.

I get lost a few times on the way there – the signs sometimes point along a street, other times they point into a stone wall. I don’t have the super power of being able to walk through walls or stones, so those signs leave me a bit flummoxed.

Yes, I’ve been waiting for an excuse to use the word “flummoxed”.

Yes, I do like it becuz of the “x”.

Yes, it is like a “kiss” near the end of the word.

Yes, my name does have a “kiss”.

After doing some quick negotiating of turns and signs, thanking climbing and yoga for the added leg strength and overall knee health, the time of the elliptical trainer for the added endurance, two friends for encouraging me to buy these shoes (you know who you are – they are comfy, sexy and have non-slip rubber soles) (I’m talking about the shoes, not my friends,”non-slip rubber souls”…is that anyway to describe friends?) (Look, I don’t even want to hear it…), I climb the staircase to end all staircases.

Yes, I realized I’m being overly dramatic here.

No, I don’t think that saying “that staircase was steep, twisty, thin and a bit slippy” has the quite the same effect.

Look, I’m just trying to say that it was quite a stair case that I had to climb at the end of all the other walking. Ok?

I’m there.

Pay my admission and I’m in!

The museum is about the Father of China.

Wow. What a story. All the more impressive as it a very important historical figure – who I have never heard of before. Really fascinating. I loved finding out all about it.

Yes, I realize that most people don’t come to Hong Kong to hang out in obscure museums. They don’t know what they are missing.

After, I figure, I can find one museum, I’m sure I can find more. Ok, the other one in the area.

I’m off again.

Twists, turns, up, downs, trying my best to follow the pink signs.

Yes, the “points of interest” signs are pink!

Did I mention that Hong Kong is my kind of town?

It really is – I wore purples and pinks today. See? I fit right in.

Yes, “for a change”. Someone is feeling cheeky…

After walking past the museum 5 times (not exaggerating) I finally walk through the hidden entrance, through a medicinal herb garden and I’m there! I’ve arrived.

Museum of Medical Sciences.

This one is for all my friends in Epidemiology, Infection Prevention and Control and Public Health – you know who you are.

Very interesting.

Here are a couple of thing I learned: for a while in the 19th Century there were only 25 Doctors of Western Medicine registered, most of them did not see Chinese patients. There were numerous hospitals in Hong Kong, but, again, most did not serve Chinese patients. During one census over 225 people noted thier profession as “Doctor”. The Father of China was trained to be a doctor, but instead became a revolutionary.

There were interesting displays regarding Maternal and Newborn Health, the Bubonic Plague and SARS.

(You know who you are – I’m thinking of you.)

Suddenly, I’m in the middle of conversation with a man! Not sure exactly how that happened, but I hear myself accepting an invite to go with him and his friend to another museum. What is up with that?

We follow each other, without following each other, through the rest of the museum – he reminds me to take a look downstairs at the Traditional Chinese Herbal display and we finally introduce ourselves.

The three of us leave together. I guess I’ve been adopted for a while.

We walk and talk.

I get some insight about history, what it is to live in Hong Kong, where to go, what to see while her for the next day and night.

They take me to a temple and I get a description of how things work.

We enter and I’m told that if I’m unaffliated I can bow to the god and make a wish.

I’m unaffiliated. I bow.

What do I wish for?


I bow and make no wish.

My new friends are surprised – why? Why bow and not make a wish?

You know why, don’t you?

I don’t want anything. I’ve removed it from my heart.

I think, maybe it isn’t gone for good, maybe it is something on-going, something that I have to do moment to moment. Like a different sort of meditation. Like feeling compassion. I don’t think it is automatic, I think it is active and at this point.

But, as I bow to the god, there is nothing I want.

Incense is heavy in the air and I look up and there are these coils of incense hanging over us. The ash could drop on our heads, on our clothes and there are sticks in holders all over the place too. By the god there is money, fruit and more incense for offerings. I guess a lot of people want a lot of things.

We leave and walk again.

Oh no! I’ve already been to this museum! Nope, not going in again, too much to see, too little time.

We exchange email addresses and promise to exchange the pics we took of each other and I am given a map to other museums. I said “a map to other museums”. Yes. My hotel didn’t give me one of these.

Then, I walk and walk and walk. By this time it is time for dinner, so I stop in at some little café that looks very busy. I don’t eat traditional tonight. I have chocolate lava cake for dessert and it comes with ice cream and peach slices. My body enjoys the treat after all the walking.

Get very lost on the way back to hotel and see a few interesting things and finally, finally, I’m back! Safe and sound and drinking tea, high up in my hotel room in Hong Kong.

Whew! What a day.

What I keep forgetting to tell you – I’m being followed by a ginger cat! Ever since meeting the Temple Cat, ginger cats are everywhere. Just out of the corner of my eye, tail turning a corner, walking past me before I can say anything or grab my camera. Tricky too – one today, knowing that I spotted it, turned itself pure black with green eyes and meeeaaa-ooowed at me on another street. It looked at me, I looked at it, it sat, looked around as I took a couple of pics. Is this cat a god? Are these cats sent by a god? All I know is that when I’m as lost as I can get, right before I panic a ginger cat appears and suddenly I find my way.

Yes, I am probably blessed.


A bit ago I read the first two chapters of a book we have in the library at work. Don’t remember the title, but the subject was all about how interconnected networks have a profound impact on our lives, actions and emotional state.

This is the mind-blowing example – if you have friend who is really happy, chances are I will be happier because of it. Not because you get happier from it, but something happens, maybe magic?, and I get the happiness.

Which makes me think that happiness, maybe all emotions, are like infectious diseases. We can catch them from each other!

I think there is an implied responsibility here too – beware of those negative emotions and passing them along, wash our hearts as it were before we pass along the germs of grumpiness?

So, too, maybe there is a responsibility to pass along those beneficially infectious emotions? Maybe we need to take a moment before we interact socially, breath and give each other the germs of happiness. I wonder if they are like those beneficially bacteria?

It costs me nothing to chat and joke and smile and say “please” and “thank you” and “have a great day” to the clerk who sold me my long-sleeved t-shirts on Saturday. Boy, did she ever looked harassed when I got to her, the people in front of me were quite troublesome and impatient. Me – no hurry and no worries. We chatted, we laughed, we took a moment to compare our spontaneous shopping habits and when I left, she had this smile on her face. Her shoulders – relaxed and her eyes – clear. I felt like I gave her the disease of happiness.

I…I think I’ve probably been working with Infection Prevention people too long…

I’m going to read the rest of that book one of these days.

55 minutes on the elliptical trainer tonight, got home starving. Thinking about…too many things really. Wanting to know if my friend wants a baby shower – I sucked it up and offered, finally, and wondering when I will put everything aside and get to that book I’ve been thinking about.

Thinking too, that things feel about to be shaken, rattled and rolled.

On the other hand, it’s probably me wanting to climb. Something. Anything!

This other thing too, has been niggling around the edges – why do people keep telling me how good I look?  It is kind of…nice…but odd…I mean, why are these people looking at me anyway? Aren’t there things on the floor, ceiling and walls that need to be looked at?

And does this mean that I should be looking at people back? If I do, how am I supposed to tell if they look good? This is a problem.

Cold is setting in now – second morning in a row I’ve had to clear the frost off. What do people who have garages do? Wild fantasies of how the other half lives.

If happiness is an infection – if I feel really good in the morning, may I call in sick with happy?

I love reading this kind of book.

The charts and math slow me down a bit in parts, but otherwise a perfect read for a Sunday afternoon.

This book is a must read for anyone who is interested…ok, this book is a must read for everyone.  Who lives.


Two epidemiologists take the methods for tracking and analyzing epidemics and looking at 23 countries  and comparing how they do on the International Index of Health and Social Problems and crossing that with how equal the countries are. Across the board, those countries that are more equal have less health and social problems, those countries who are less equal have more health and social problems.


The data is nicely broken up with snippets of news stories, to better illustrate the social or health problem and the writing is very good – not dryly academic, but suffused with a passion.

The use of charts was excellent and very useful in terms of understanding the point and all the statistical data is given at in the reference pages at the end.

They really tied everything in too – psychological studies (Milgram’s compliance experiments) , sociologic theories (Durkheim and de Tocqueville) and, animal behaviour (chimpanzees and bonobos) and genetics (bonobos and humans)

Very nice.

My favourite part of the book was when they talked about how people living in the lower part in more unequal societies try to gain the physical trappings of the upper parts. This answered a long-standing curiosity about why people who don’t have a lot of income will spend their money on things they can’t afford rather than groceries or things of real value. It’s all status, baby: you can afford to skimp on groceries (‘cuz no one sees in your kitchen cupboards), but you need a cell phone ‘cuz important people have cells phones.

Interesting was also the part where they talk about how two very different kinds of self-esteem exist, the first kind being “real self-esteem” that contributes to being socially secure, making friends easily and relating to people and the other is “negative self-esteem” which is purely reactionary. So, you feel good about yourself, but it isn’t based on anything real and it actually makes you more of jerk – more racist, more violent and less able to make friends, it is a reaction to the rest of society putting you down.

Very interesting stuff.

I loved too, how non-partisan this book is – it would be so very easy to put forth a “better way” of government, but they suggest that achieving equality can take many roads.

I’m going to check out their website.

What I learned today: So much, so much.

Full title “The Wisdom of Whores – Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of AIDS”.

Please note: only academic books with loads of math and statistics have such interesting (and offensive?) titles.

The offensive things found in this book include the way the spread of AIDS was treated, where mistakes were made and how money was/is made – the “Industry of AIDS”.

Extremely informative about tracking of epidemics, how epidemiologists work, surveying and the problem with surveying, how people don’t fit into “boxes”, no matter how much we want them to and no matter how much they think they do.

This was a fascinating read and if you don’t mind the stats and the math, and you care care about AIDS (or the history of AIDS), this book is a wonderful way to spend some time.

The book chronicles some remarkable culture changes in the people who are “AIDS experts” and how AIDS has changed the lives of some of them in surprising ways.

I had to keep putting this book down and thinking about things – sexual identity, sexual behaviours, social issues, UN politics.

This was a riveting read.