Date: Friday, February 26, 1999. (10:13 p.m. EST)
To: Ted
From: Rahel
Subject: Wow Indeed!


Between my e-mail and yours, a mom with HIV delivered, so I have to stay late (should have kept quiet in the first place and this would not have happened, would it? A-N-D so much so for my gym plans).

We have to get the mother's blood and if possible the placenta (I couldn't get a hold of this one) as soon as possible to do analysis. We sort of have an idea of expected dates of delivery for most of the moms we monitor, but when nature says it's different, no way can we argue :) So, I figured in between waiting for the spinnings and incubations I can reply back.

Wow, indeed!!! I'm amazed. You've really given me an eye-opening lesson here of how the government works. Do you have someone (or better still, a small army) helping you? Just scheduling your meetings and conferences would drive anyone a bit insane… Add to that keeping current with African politics (which I'm sure is unpredictable) and…. I don't know how you do it.

Meanwhile, I start off my days with a bus ride to work. (I don't drive anymore--it's been too insane. Besides, by the time I get to work I am so wired up and a little unpleasant to be around, I figured I would let someone else take care of the nasty part. I drive my car on weekends.) So, on the bus is where I get my readings done (I'm reading Ben Carson's "The Big Picture"--really recommend it).

Depending on what day it is, early mornings are occupied with either conference calls or meetings or setting up experiments (also called assays). Of the lot, I would like to think my experiments are the most interesting (the others are mundane--you know...the kind where you twirl a pen, jot down a note here and there, update info now and then).

The rest of my day is then spent doing experiments and analyzing data. Some of my experiments are very long (the 8am to 9pm kind) so on those days I have to psych myself up. Others are short (3-5 hours) so I can run several back-to-back. Others require several hours incubation (where you put the experiments in an incubator and wait for them to react to something or kill each other), so to kill time I go take a dip at the pool in the gym on north campus. Or I go home and come back (I don't live too far away).

That's one thing I love about my job. Although it requires me to devote odd and long hours (weekends and midnight hours) I have the flexibility of doing other stuff when I can afford to (swim, read, shop) and I never take work home.

You must be connected to the Ethiopian community there because of your job (or is that a wrong assumption?). As for me...let me see...there are my siblings...then a few Ethiopian friends (read: you can count them using the fingers of one hand)...so-o-o-o-o I guess…in as many words as I can muster...(drum roll) I am not that well-connected. I'm not a prolific socialite, nor even an average one, preferring instead to do solitary things (I'm an amateur photographer and find great joy in it).

OK Ted. Sorry to end the train of though here--but finally I am going to get out of here (soon!!!!!). Will continue next week.



Date: Tuesday, March 2, 1999. (3:30 p.m. EST)
To: Rahel
From: Ted
Subject: I am Back

Greetings from Washington--Congress is back from its brief break and it looks like we are going to be busy for the coming weeks. Committees are gearing up to hold hearings on a wide range of issues, including several on Africa.

We sent a large delegation to observe the Nigerian elections--and I am sure you've heard that General Obasanjo has been declared the winner of the Presidential elections. So I am getting ready to update a report on the transition period, write a memo on Sudan for the upcoming hearing, and hopefully, write up my trip report from December. I have been pushing it aside for the last two months.

I spent a great weekend with the kids--took them to a mall outside Washington. They love the junk food and the long drive. Most of the time they are great and they behave when they want to, but there are times when they can--literally--drive you nuts.

Are you aware of a (recent) study on the AIDS epidemic in Africa? I am also interested the impact of AIDS on population growth. If you do, please let me know.

Take Care for now--got to go!