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Updated: 03/15/03

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Saturday, 15 March, 2003

Well, THAT was interesting. Sitting in my office yesterday morning around quarter to nine, when the power went out. Lights, computers, phones, everything. We hung around in the hallways for a few minutes until someone said they smelled smoke in the elevator lobby. Now, our company has kind of a bad history with fires - in the early 1990's, the Meridian Bank Building burned down, destroying our predecessor's offices. And, of course, our New York headquarters was in Two World Trade Center. So around 9:00, our branch manager made the decision to evacuate the office, and it was the smart move.

Now, here's an interesting question. If you have to leave your office - which may or may not be on fire - what do you bring with you? I took my laptop and electronics, the plane tickets, visa and itinerary for the trip to Papua New Guinea next week, and my income tax documentation. I figured everything else could be replaced, but I didn't want to have to deal with teh IRS.

After walking down ten flights of stairs, we found ourselves milling around in front of the building, and it was COLD. I stood there for a minute and realized that if the building really WAS on fire, standing in front of it - or in the lobby - was not a good idea. A small group of us headed up to the Starbuck's on Market Street, took over a couple of tables and waited.

Our offices phones and e-mail systems were toast, so via cell-phones we got reports from the building. Well, we were told that there was some sort of electrical failure - DUH - and that it would be several hours at least before power was restored, so around 11:00 the office closed.

The good news is: I got to run some of the many errands I needed to before the trip next week!

UPDATE: Saturday evening and the phones and e-mail system still aren't working. Yikes.

Speaking of THE TRIP, we're leaving Tuesday night and I'm starting to get very excited. Planning this trip hasn't been that easy. We've had to redo the tickets several times because of changes in flights and schedules. In August, 2002, the Pago Volcano on the island of New Britain began erupting, spewing ash and closing the airport at Hoskins (which is where we fly to board our dive boat at Walindi) for several months. It's open again, but fingers crossed.

Then on March 6, 2003, a magnitude 4.7 earthquake hit the New Britain island of Papua New Guinea. On March 11, 2003, there was a magnitude 6.8 earthquake on the island of New Ireland. Now both of these quakes were pretty far from where we travel, although the 4.6 magnitude quake that hit on February 12, 2003 was much closer.

Oh, and then there's that little WAR thing going on over in the Middle East, and the latest speculation is that the action will start within the next 72 hours.

[Nervous?? PAH! It takes more than all that to keep me from a dive trip.]

But NOW I have something to worry about.

WHO Issues Advisory on Atypical Pneumonia

HANOI, Vietnam - The World Health Organization warned a mysterious form of pneumonia was becoming a "worldwide health threat" Saturday, as a case of the illness was detected in Europe for the first time.

In a rare "emergency travel advisory," the health agency said it has received more than 150 reports of acute respiratory syndrome in the past week.

On Saturday, a doctor believed to have the atypical form of pneumonia was taken off a New York to Singapore flight during a stopover in Germany and quarantined in a Frankfurt hospital. His two travel companions also were hospitalized.

Note: This is the Singapore Airlines flight that we normally take to get to PNG. But this year, we're not flying Singapore Air.

The unidentified doctor, who is from Singapore, had treated a patient with the illness before traveling to New York to attend a conference, said Dr. Angela Wirtz, a health official in the German state of Hessen. He began to suffer symptoms while in New York, she said in a statement.

Two people accompanying him also were taken off the Singapore Airlines flight and admitted to the Wolfgang Goethe University Clinic in Frankfurt, the statement said.

There was concern the doctor may have infected others on board. Another 155 passengers who deplaned in Frankfurt were being temporarily held in quarantine at the airport, the statement said.

Eighty-five people bound for Singapore and the plane's 20-member crew continued their journey, but they will be quarantined on their arrival in Singapore, health officials said.

*Whew* - what a relief that we are flying Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong this year instead!

The Hanoi outbreak started after an American businessman traveling from Shanghai via Hong Kong apparently infected up to 30 hospital workers, five of them listed in critical condition. The unidentified U.S. citizen was evacuated and died in Hong Kong.

Outbreaks of the disease have been reported in southern China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Unconfirmed new cases have been reported in Vietnam and Taiwan.

Great. We're flying from New York to Hong Kong, then on to Singapore before we fly to Australia and eventually PNG.

[I guess it's a good thing that I'm traveling with two doctors.]

On a lighter note Quizilla offers a test to determine what your political affliation is based on how you view the role of government. You can imagine my surprise when it determined I am a:


Republican - You believe that the free market will
take care of most things, but that the
government should be there with moderate
taxation to provide for national defense and
enforcing morality. Your historical role model
is Ronald Reagan.

Which political sterotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

[I know you never would have guessed that about me.]

Time for dinner. And remember - it's "International Eat an Animal for PETA Day"!

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"I have known many meat eaters to be far more nonviolent than vegetarians."

-- Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948) Indian philosopher

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