Thursday, July 27, 2006

Boys Will Be Boys

The photograph of a man riding a bike with a pig is admittedly hard to top, but I realize I have a couple other photographic gems that warrent sharing. For example, here is a picture I took of the family I hung out with at the Central Plaza in Managua at the Revolution Day celebration.
Notice anything funny in this picture?

Here's a close-up......
This boy isn't drinking Coca-Cola.
He's sipping a can of Victoria, the most popular domestic beer in Nicaragua.

And here's another pic of the same boy....

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

TDR Forms

In this blog I tend to emphasize the fun and exciting stuff and gloss over boring things like working on databases or running statistical tests. But the truth is that I´ve actually been doing a lot of work this week. The dengue project that I´m working on, is part of a large, multi-center international clinical study of pediatric dengue. They are collecting data on children with dengue in hospitals in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Brazil, Thailand, and Vietnam. The study is being organized by The Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), which was created as a joint venture between the United Nations Children´s Fund (UNICEF), The World Bank, and the World Health Organization. The mission of TDR is to support research in "neglected" tropical disease such as Malaria, Chagas disease, Leshmaniasis, and Dengue. These are refered to as neglected diseases because they primarily are diseases of the Third World, and drug companies have traditionally ignored research on these diseases because they know that poor countries don´t have the financial resources to allow them to turn handsome profits like they do on medications for such "Developed World" diseases as Cancer and Heart Disease. For more information on the TDR check out their excellent website with lots of information about tropical diseases:

On Tuesday of this week, we had two visitors from the TDR who are monitoring the Latin America portion of this dengue study. Since this is the first year that Nicaragua has been a part of the study, there was a lot of work to do to get ready for the visit. Much of this work involved going over the data collection forms in the patient charts to make sure that we are collecting all of the information that the TDR is requesting from us. As it turned out, there were quite a few fields missing on our data forms, and somehow I got stuck with the job of modifying the forms to make them compliant. It sounds fairly simple, but it´s actually quite complicated to add a simple field like "Patient given Diuretics in last 24 hrs" because you have to shift everything else down to make room for the new field, and then the last line ends up running over the edge of the page so you have to then reformat another field to make it smaller and allow you some extra space so everything fits on the original page. When everything was all said and done, we had added so many fields that the font became so small you could barely read it. And then today the doctor in charge of the study in Nicaragua decided she wanted the form to be on two pages, which again sounds simple but required a full day of work to complete.

Now that the format of the data entry sheet is done, I´m looking forward to finishing up my study of ultrasound data.

Monday, July 24, 2006

This Little Piggy...

Notice anything odd about this picture?

Take a closer look.....
That's right, folks. This man is riding a bike with a large pig tied to the seat. I know most bike seats are pretty uncomfortable, so the pig can only be an improvement. Perhaps the pig provides extra support for the lumbar region of his back.
I took this picture while I was on the Island of Ometepe last week, waiting for a bus. There I am, just sitting around, staring off into space when I see a guy riding a bike along the road - no big deal, as bikes are the main form of transportation on the island. However, it was only when the biker passed me that I noticed his cargo. And so I quickly grabbed my camera and snapped a photo.
You want to know the best part of the story?
The pig was still alive! I heard him squealing.