Sunday, August 06, 2006

Okay, all Folks - I'm Back.

If you’re still checking this site for new material, it probably means you’re a serious hardcore fan (read “family member”). Well, thanks for hanging in there. It’s been a dense couple of months, but I’ll do my best to catch up.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Here’s me in my makeshift recording booth at the home office. I use cushions from our couch – two on the sides and one on top – to absorb outside sound and reduce room echo. The little blanket curtain pads some of the echo coming in from directly behind. The backs of the blue chairs are propping up the cushions. It’s very unstable and almost always collapses on me. I only seem to think about redesigning it when I’m under a tight deadline. Someday soon, I’ll invent a better solution.

So what you see is what most of my reporting experience has looked like this summer. I’ve been mainly in the home office in Jakarta, establishing relationships with the radio strings. There have been a number of disasters here over the last few weeks – it certainly seems like the tectonic plates underneath us are spinning. Political developments in Timor Leste also provided some work, and bird flu fears have heated up again, now that Indonesia is tied for first place in the global bird flu fatality count.

I’m about to take a trip to North Sumatra to follow up on the avian influenza developments. I’ll be talking to public health workers who are trying to convince villagers that sick and dying chickens are dangerous. For those of you in Maine, you might imagine that would be like trying to start a “don’t eat or sell lobsters or seafood” campaign. People depend on their backyard chickens here, and they’ve been doing it for thousands of years. Now 42 out of 200 million people have died from this bird flu here. So you can imagine the local villagers’ reaction when Jakarta suddenly shows up and says “we gotta kill all the chickens in a 5k radius”. Or when the health workers try to convince people they should call their health department if one of their ducks looks woozy.

Anyhow, the trip provides a good excuse for me to start up the live journal again. I hope to be posting about that and more in the coming weeks.