Year End 2010

Celebrating our many gifts and family. Wishing you and yours Peace in the world and contentment in your heart in the New Year 2011.

IMG00787-20101114-1441 Masha continues at Hunter College of the City University of NY where she's been on the Dean's List. She lives in Bohemian Bushwick with her rabbit, George, shown here with our "Jack Russell in Sheep's Clothing" mixed breed, Leo.

 

Zoey graduated from University of Pennsylvania followed by a three-week European tour with schoolmates. He returned to the same lab where he had worked as an undergraduate, blogs irregularly and is applying for graduate programs in condensed matter physics which he expects to start in Fall 2011.

Simone is without a BMW for the first time since 1973 having sold her 525 in August, replacing it with an orange Honda Element–but, if you know of a 1973 BMW 2002, she's interested! Simone has devoted herself this year to helping a friend maintain her North Fork of Long Island farm and to the menagerie and gardens in Brooklyn while serving on the Prospect Park South Neighborhood Association Board, as a Site Coordinator for the Cobble Hill CSA and on the board of the GSR-SP.

Steve stepped down as Chairman of Emergency Medicine in June and after 35-years in Emergency Medicine has moved into a physician-executive role as Maimonides' first Chief Medical Informatics Officer. Shortly after he stepped down, the New York Times featured a lengthy story, photo essay and video about the Maimonides ER. He's enjoying the shift from 24 hour, 365 day operational responsibility to staff support for the Enterprise Medical Informatics efforts.

  
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Year End 2009

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Hello from Brooklyn where as I write cookies are baking and some
hens are laying—though molting hens reduce egg production. This past January, the
family winter vacation plan took us all to Costa Rico with some friends for the
warmth and explorations. The environment was warm, the beach and the Pacific
were a bit farther away than perfection would argue for, yet the stay was
marvelous for the rest, adventures in organic farming and (the kids) zip-line
canopy touring along with the untimed sleep, good grub and rum drinks.IMG_1073_crop DSC_0670
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  The tour
of the mangroves along the coast was early in the trip and one of the
highlights as we were swarmed by capuchin monkeys, but also saw less disturbed
examples of the local flora, fauna and their ecological interactions. Our
guides in the mangroves and the national park were young men who impressed us
with their ingratiating personalities, knowledge of the environment and generous
storytelling.

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In late spring Steve’s ER was nearly overwhelmed by a doubling of daily patient volume as the H1N1 “Swine” Flu moved through New York. Our year over year growth continues and we’ll finish the year having seen well over 100,000 patients, more than a doubling from the time of Steve’s arrival in 1995. Amazing to realize how long Steve’s been at Maimonides.

 

Masha made the move to an apartment share over the summer
while continuing at Hunter where she’s full-time in the fall session. She’s happy to be out of the parent’s house, though came home to bake cookies with Mom. Zoey imported his Mom for cookie baking this past weekend to his better this year West Philadelphia apartment where he’s living with three close school friends. He’s in his senior year at Penn and uncertain as to what’s next which seems like a normal state of affairs for this time of his life.

 

This past summer, Simone and Steve enjoyed a month of long weekends around NY and on LBI with Grandma Claire and a full week with friends Bill and Peggy on the North Fork of Long Island. Zoey joined us for several of those days driving over from Brookhaven National Labs where he spent a few weeks working at the end of the summer.

 

Simone again served as a site coordinator with the Cobble
Hill Community Supported Agriculture program that supports local farmers and supplies us with fresh produce. She continues the Brooklyn branch of the German Shepherd Dog Rescue, just celebrating its tenth anniversary, that she helped establish when we were in Philadelphia. Our old GSD Hillary finally died at nearly age 14 early this summer and so after more than a year of not doing so, we’ve recently taken in a foster German Shepherd dog, Alma, a long-legged female ~2-year-old named for a longtime friend of Simone’s. Leo, our terrier mix in sheep’s clothing is not entirely thrilled with the new addition.P1000323_crop

 

We’re fortunate that our mothers remain active and mostly
well though not without some of the challenges of great age. These family
tidings remind me of friends who are struggling with their health and life
itself. I hope you are taking care of yourselves and enjoying the world around
you. We would love to host your visit to New York in 2010.

Year End 2008

Christmas photo final6

Hello from Brooklyn where as I write cookies are baking and
hens are laying. Last January we took our first ever family winter vacation to
warmer climes and spent 8 days in Turks and Caicos to general approval. This January,
the family winter vacation plan takes us all to Costa Rico with some friends
for the warmth and explorations. We’re still not certain what the summer of
2009 will bring for either Zoey or Masha. We’ll likely visit Grandma Claire on
LBI at some point; a trip to the North Fork of Long Island for one or more long
weekends is a certainty as we enjoy it a great deal; the pace is reminiscent of
LBI years ago and the food and local wine is wonderful.

 

SFM_SJD_HainesWedding_15112008_CIMG1264
We do look fabulous at
the Plaza Hotel for the wedding of one of my ex-residents and the daughter of
one of my friends. I’m claiming credit for the Shidduch as she met her now husband
when she rotated as a student in our ER and I assured my friend, her father,
that my resident would be a good addition to his family. At work, we opened
additional space in our ER last winter and the patients have come—we’re busier
than ever; still 23 minutes is the median waiting time to see a physician—56
minutes is the national average per USA
Today
(12/14/08).

 

This academic year, Masha is living at home with us and
taking courses at Hunter while planning her next steps. In June, Zoey now
majoring in Physics, computational techniques; moved out of the dorm and into
off-campus housing with five others. One of the guys set the stove alight at
4:00 AM one morning to no one’s delight. In June 2009 Zoey plans a move to
a different house with a smaller group of closer friends so mishaps are less
likely—we all hope.

 

Simone’s farm has seven hens, down three thanks to our cat Chad’s
efforts at thinning the flock of chicks in late spring. Simone again served as
a site coordinator with the Cobble Hill Community Supported Agriculture program
that supports local farmers and supplies us with fresh produce. She continues the
Brooklyn branch of the German Shepherd Dog Rescue, just celebrating its tenth
anniversary, that she helped establish when we were in Philadelphia

 

Three of Simone’s seven chickens are laying and we’ve
enjoyed the eggs and given others as gifts. Ethel, the Buff Orffington held by
Zoey in the photo on the card was the first and still champion layer. Our old GSD
Hillary still hangs on at age 13 and somewhat more than 10 years with us. She’s
been joined by Leo, a terrier mix in sheep’s clothing rescued from a local
shelter.

 

We’re fortunate that our mothers remain active and mostly
well though not without some of the challenges of great age. These family
tidings remind me of friends who are struggling with their health and life
itself. I hope you are taking care of yourselves and enjoying the world around
you. We would love to host your visit to New York in 2009.

Big Ideas that Matter in the World and in One’s Life

Z&M–This is yet another article http://snipurl.com/2v0cv  that causes me to suggest that you read ‘ip’ regularly.

There are so many great and important ideas in the article, I hardly know where to start. So, if my experience tells me that’s its a  few "big
ideas" that matter more than most choices in life–you won’t find me touting career paths in computer science, medicine, law,
business, physics or math–you’ll have to bear with me as I point to the ideas below and in posts yet to come, some others.

I’ve highlighted the relevant text but you should read the whole
article
yourself–even the longer paper referred to by it–rather than rely on
my restatements here. Stephenson’s ideas apply not just to
government, but to every sphere of life, even to oneself.

"My argument is that government can transform itself both internally and externally, improving performance, lowering costs, and building public support and involvement, through a combination of:

* automated (preferably, real-time) data feeds, at first behind the firewall, and then externally as well, in a variety of formats such as RSS and KML

* easy access for both employees and (again, eventually) the public, to the growing number of easy-to-use Web 2.0 data visualization tools that allow taking data that may be hard to understand in tabular form and instead turn it into eye-catching and informative visualizations — plus Web 2.0 tools such as tags, topic hubs, and threaded discussions that encourage sharing the data and insights — and increase the chance of ‘wisdom of crowds’ knowledge emerging as a result!"

Get the data out there where you (and those few others
with whom you work most closely) can see it by the cold light of day. It means
you have to get out of your head and onto paper (I still think it’s better) or
screen. First approximations or rough cuts are marvelously useful, perfection
is not needed at the start—probably never. 

Announce yourself what the data shows—even when
diametrically opposed to what you’ve been saying. Reinventing oneself is the
key to survival, growth, opportunity and ultimately stability and contentment .
. . one becomes content with the process of change, not the state one is
presently in—as we know from physics it is easy to be fooled by a meta-stable
state.

Communicate your data to all. Go public–it may not be
the global community or even your neighborhood; perhaps just other groups at work. Do so in a way that people can grasp intuitively—or with
minimal explanation. If the office assistant, janitor or supply room stocking
clerk doesn’t understand it—it’s too dense; get away from the tables and move
to simple graphs. Tufte shows the way with his simple design beauty.

I’m not so sure about the "wisdom of crowds", but a group convened for the purpose is surely smarter and more effective, when well led, than the genius working alone.

Year-End 2007

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Hello from Brooklyn where it’s snowing as I write. Last year I told you I’d be opening additional space in our ER this spring; well, not yet, but perhaps in a few weeks. As with the house renovation I’ve learned again that hospital construction will take twice as long and cost twice as much as expected. We proved it again to ourselves when the greenhouse kit Simone purchased turned out to need a custom roof and custom floor in addition to the kit. Simone is using the greenhouse through this winter and looking forward to adding chicks to our Brooklyn “farm” in early May 2008. Modifications, including an automatic door and feeder will make the greenhouse serve the dual purpose as a chicken coop come Spring.

Masha, graduated Friends Seminary, and served as one of the two leaders who produced an outstanding yearbook for her class. Masha spent the summer prowling the city, taking photographs and otherwise relaxing. Masha has started at Bryn Mawr College and though she laments it’s not New York she’s fully engaged in the college experience and visiting with friends and family in Philadelphia on her down time.

We didn’t vacation as a family this summer as Zoey was living at Grandma Claire’s house and waiting tables on Long Beach Island. He finished his restaurant experience there working in the kitchen at lunch—a well deserved promotion. Zoey returned to Penn in the fall and is considering taking courses in Beijing next summer.

Simone continues as a site coordinator with the Cobble Hill Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that supports local farmers and supplies us with fresh produce. Find a nearby CSA at http://globalcircle.net/flgroceries.htm or http://wsare.usu.edu/csa/csasearchTesting.cfm.

Maggie_greta3_2 She continues the Brooklyn branch of the German Shepherd Dog Rescue that she helped establish when we were in Philadelphia (http://www.gsr-sp.com). She just placed a pair of puppies that had been fished out of a farmer’s manure pond by a passing Good  Samaritan. Our old shepherd Hillary’s became much more energetic with their arrival—and seems to have maintained that energy since their departure.

We’re fortunate that our mothers remain active and mostly well though not without some of the challenges of great age. These family tidings remind me of friends who are struggling with their health and life itself. I hope you are taking care of yourselves and enjoying the world around you. We would love to host your visit to New York in 2008.

I’m sure each of us seeks our own way to succor those with less and those caught in seemingly unending violence in these times and so we wish you all the best for a joyous 2008.

Year-end 2005

Hello from Brooklyn where in 2006 we’re hoping to finally finish most of our renovation. No longer a part-time building contractor, my time has been filled running an additional ER since September and a recent increase in responsibilities for information technology at Maimonides. This past May, I was elected a fellow of the American College of Physician Executives, one of fewer than 400 physicians nationally to have gained that recognition.

Zoey’s growing expertise at Texas Hold’em, a popular version of poker, has regularly humbled me, though I’m learning it, at the expense of a few dollars and the unabashed looks of triumph on Zoey’s face at the kitchen table on late weekend evenings. Zoey will be skiing with Stacy and Melissa this winter and following up on his sailing interests by bare-boat chartering with Steve through a sailing school at the end of March 2006. He was accepted at University of Pennsylvania early decision, so he’ll join the Class of 2010 there starting in September 2006.

Masha, a junior, is very focused on her schoolwork these days. This past summer, she propelled our family adventure in Russia where we all met Masha’s biological family: the Kalinkins. The trip was arduous at times and an emotional experience for all of us. Simone and I jointly blogged about the trip here and my photos of the trip are on a linked flickr photo site. We met many wonderful people, among them Galina Estefeeva, Executive Director of Friends of Russian Orphans who was so helpful on our trip. Their calendar project supports children who must grow up in orphanages in Yaroslavl, Russia, the town Masha came from. As we were leaving Yaroslavl, the regional weekly newspaper featured our story–that paper’s front page is our holiday card. Ending the trip in Nice with the family was a treat and my first ever visit to the French Riviera.

Simone still works with the Cobble Hill Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) program that supports local farmers and supplies us with fresh produce. Find a nearby CSA here or here. She continues the Brooklyn branch of the German Shepherd Dog Rescue of Southeastern Pennsylavania that she helped establish when we were in Philadelphia. We have brought still more German Shepherds into the house as foster dogs and Simone has placed these foster dogs and other dogs throughout the region.

We’re fortunate that our mothers remain active and mostly well though not without some of the challenges of great age. In June, Simone’s brother, Stacy, married Melissa. These family tidings remind me of friends who are struggling with their health and life itself. I hope you are taking care of yourselves and enjoying the world around you. We would love to host your visit to New York in 2006.

Imgp0870Our visit to the regional maternity hospital where Masha lived the first 3-3/4 years of her life was particularly moving. Simone, Masha and some staff of the Yaroslavl Regional Maternity Hospital who had cared for Masha.

We wish you all the best for a joyous 2006. Think globally. Act locally.

Yaroslavl–Simone’s Posting

Here is the final travel log of our trip to Yaroslavl this summer I did not get to send these pictures while I was there since the internet connection was not good. I have included about ten digital photos here.

Steve’s public photostream at Flickr includes these photos and others.

The day  we arrived in Yaroslavl we met with Galina. Galina is involved in trying to improve the local orphanages in Yaroslavl and is the local director of Friends of Russian Orphans. She had also taught English in local schools and Russian in Boston; she had agreed to help us during our stay. Without her our trip would have been impossible. We hope to help her raise  much needed money for the Children in the Orphanages of Yaroslavl.

Nolga_and_masha_1 Nmeeting_the__family_and_invited_to_tea_1 The next day, Saturday, August 21st we drove out to meet Masha’s birth family, Olga, Alexander and Katya and a very big Rotweiller that was their family pet. They live outside the city in a large apartment complex on the first floor.  There is a family garden just outside the building and they said they also had another garden several miles away. They had grown lots of potatoes and were planning to harvest them the next day in order to help make ends meet. We spent the afternoon with them talking Nour_extended_familyklainkindavidsonmog_1 Nkalinkins_kalinkindavidson_1 There were lots of tears and they were very happy to see us all. They said they had no idea what was really wrong with Masha or what had become of her. They told us they had been told that they would never be able to care for her and provide all the help she needed. We have agreed to all keep in touch with each other. We suggested Katya learn some English and think about  visiting  us in NYC.

The next day we went to visit the Yaroslavl Children’s hospital.

Nhospital_masha_spent_her_first_4_yearsNfirst_welcome_back_hugs After Masha was given up at the maternity hospital she was moved to the Regional Children’s Hospital of Yaroslavl. The nurses at the hospital took care of Masha until she was adopted. They would not let her go to the local orphanage because they feared she would not do well there as she was unable to walk until she was 3-1/2 years old, just a few months before we adopted her. We were told that the nurses would take turns taking Masha home on the weekends so she would know what family life was like.

Tadoption Nremembering_how_she_taught_masha_to_hol Each of these woman had a story to tell about Masha. One told us she used to feed Masha; another told us about Masha’s imaginary conversations on a broken phone with her mother. Another one was still angry with the orthopedic specialist(more about him later) that she took Masha to repeatedly. That doctor, Valery Blandinsky, told her he feared for Masha and would like to help her but did not have the resources to do so.

Nwall_of_pictures_1 Nthirteen_years_later_1When we arrived at the Children’s Hospital of Yaroslavl we were greeted by the Regional Director of the Hospital. A big celebration with champagne and food had been planned for Masha’s return. They showed us a wall of pictures that had been taken of Masha when she was a little girl living there. We were then taken to the room where Masha spent most of the time  at the hospital. They explained to us that this was the room Masha lived in. It had been freshly painted and it was a great improvement from the last time I had visited in 1992. They had set up a large table with food for us and many of the retired nurses came back to see what had become of the little girl they had taken care of. Many of the nurses stood up to talk about that little girl. Masha also stood up to thank all the wonderful woman who had helped her. It was a happy and tearful reunion.

Nmasha_gives_a_speech Ndr_valerie_blandinski_1 Before we adopted Masha we had contacted a doctor in Seattle who seemed to have published the most about Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, the syndrome Masha has. At the end of our conversation with him, he told us that he had just had a Russia orthopedist spend three months in a fellowship with him in Seattle. "Why don’t you fax his cousin in Moscow and see if you can get him to evaluate this little girl," the Seattle-based physician suggested. It was a long shot but an AMAZING thing happened: Dr. Blandinsky knew all about Masha and had been following her since her birth. His written report on her condition immensely simplified matters with the immigration service when we adopted Masha. This visit, Dr Valery Blandinsky, got to see Masha again in Yaroslavl. He was thrilled to see her progress.

Nyr_news_cover_vol36 We knew when we arrived that a local newspaper was interested in our visit. Adoption of Russian children by foreigners has become a very touchy subject recently as two adopted Russian children in the past year had been killed by their adoptive parents. Our story was a big surprise to many. Before we left Yaroslavl, the Yaroslavl Regional newspaper interviewed and photographed us. The day we left Yaroslavl we were so surprised to see our picture on the front page of this newspaper.

The trip was a really wonderful experience for all of us. It was a great feeling to be able to go back and say thank you to all those wonderful women and to meet Masha’s biological family and let them know how well she is doing. We want to help raise money for the orphans of Yaroslavl and hope we have helped the people of Yaroslavl learn we are all one global community.

Nice

I have lots more to say and lots more photos to post from our time in Russia.

For now, we’re enjoying the warm weather that cools rapidly to comfortable in the early evening. Nice is a city and the old part down by the water where we’re staying is quite congenial for tourists. Wandering around feels comfortable and the treats for the eye, nose and mouth on every block have been just wonderful. I had not known that it was not only ancient Rome, but the relatively modern City-State of Piedmont which had controlled this part of France and apparently the land returned to France by vote of the people hereabouts.

The meeting is gargantuan and all about me are discussions of the tragically inadequate and delayed response to the needs of the myriad survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Some physicians present are noted experts in disaster response and have remarked informally to me and others about the poor response in New Orleans and even in communities now affected by refugees evacuated from New Orleans.

Tonight we go to the Gala Dinner Event for the meeting. Our whole family is going and I’m enjoying this time for being together and exploring. My sessions are tomorrow and Monday afternoon so I’ll be a bit more tight-laced about meeting attendance then.

Moscow to Yaroslavl and back

Nimgp08661 It’s late and I’m exhausted, but this first good connection in more than a week compels me to post. It has been an incredibly emotional period. Masha and all of us have met Olga and Alexander, her biological parents, and a two-year younger sister, Katya. We visited the staff at the regional maternity hospital where Masha lived her first three-plus years. These women were both joyful and tearful to see her. They had prepared the room in which she had lived by putting up decorations and old photos of Masha from her first years with them: I was astonished they had kept those photos nearly 13 years.

All of this after days of sight-seeing in Moscow and train trips to Yaroslavl. In Yaroslavl we had the fantastic assistance of Galina Evstifeeva, a local teacher of English, who has lived in the USA as a Russian teacher and is involved with Friends of Russian Orphans.

This is all disjointed, it’s past midnight in Moscow and we fly out to Paris and onto Nice tomorrow for the Mediterranean EM Congress. I’m just trying to get a few thoughts down and share some photos with all of you since I’ve been out of touch for more than one week.

Moscow

You can view my public photostream at Flickr.

Nimgp06811_2 Flying Air France to Moscow took the whole day, departing at 9:40 AM from the apartment on Rue Claude Bernard to arriving at the Marriott Tyverska at 8:00 PM Moscow time (two time zones earlier than Paris).

We had packed the gifts of medical supplies, including all sorts of OTC medications and suture materials among the five bags we brought so that we wouldn’t lose it all if we were stopped coming through customs. Entry to Russia reminded me of entering Italy when I was 15 years old. There was some formality, but very little and we were quickly through customs and met up with our driver who took us to the hotel. We saw modern European and Japanese cars everywhere. Later we learned that there are over 3 million privately owned car in Moscow, a city of 10.5 million (official) people with some unofficial estimates going as high as 13 million.

We’re staying at the Marriott on miles I’ve accumulated over the years. Thank you ABEM.

We grabbed a quick and expensive dinner in the hotel restaurant and I got a WiFi account which unfortunately doesn’t work in my room. It does in the kid’s room and in the lounge where I’m sitting now. So I’ll have to be more disciplined and organized in my blogging.

Nimgp06861_2 We spent today touring, visiting Lenin’s tomb, seeing the Kremlin wall and visiting various churches, including St. Basil’s shown here. Ludmilla Chmyga (chmyga at mail dot ru) took us around first through the metro which was entirely as described with inlaid stone floors and finished ceilings well lighted with various art pieces in the Soviet style. Our guide helped us beat the line for Lenin’s tomb, but nothing could save us from having to walk all around the outside of the square and view the statuary after exiting the tomb . . . statues of long dead Soviet leaders.

Nimgp06931_2 Nimgp06941_2 Saint Basil’s sits in Red Square, which contrary to my prior understanding was not named such in honor/recognition of Communism but rather because the name "red" means beautiful–rather like the "Firebird" symbol. With our back to St. Basil’s we’re facing the Gum Department Store. The sun really was brilliant at our back and thus the washed out sky so I could get our faces to appear. I’m not so practiced with Photoshop.

Nimgp0695_1 The GUM Department store (over my left shoulder in the photo above right) is a modern commercial enterprise with every name you might imagine: L’Oreal, Rolex and more. No more a state enterprise, it resembles in every way a visit to a modern mall except for the architecture which is marked by gorgeous 19th century colonnades and wrought-iron work. Apparently escalators have been installed only in the last five years. Soon after GUM and a pit stop at the Metropol Hotel we were picked up by a mini-bus and driver who took us around the city for an orienting tour. We heard about the old churches demolished by the Soviets–especially Stalin–and the rebuilding splurge of recent years.

We saw Moscow University and views of the city from various hillsides. All in all it was a fine and somewhat fatiguing tour which ended with a stop at one of Simone’s favorite destinations in any city: a supermarket.

Nimgp0711_1 Nimgp0710 When Simone was here in November 1992 to complete Masha’s adoption, it was at the height of the turmoil and disorder after the end of the Soviet Union. There was nothing in the stores. There were scarcely potatoes to be had let alone other produce. She took the family she stayed with to a "green store" not because it was ecological or had great produce but because you could only spend American Greenbacks there. She bought edible, though not great food on that trip. Today, Simone was bowled over by what she saw of the store’s stock and I by its interior architecture.