October 27: Doug and Ramona arrived late last night. They seem nice. This morning we start a little late -- the ceremony is at ten, so we leave at nine AM. BEFORE that, we hustle over to the bank, which opens at 8am, to change some dollars to FMG (Franc Malagasy), which goes smoothly. We do the trip on foot, and I'm pleased that I now know my way around enough to get to the store and bank reliably. When we get back, we pile into a car to get to the training center where I helped set up the machines. It is there where we will have a ceremony, handing the machines over to SALFA. This is to thank Doug and Ramona, as well as make local Rotary feel good and thank Jesus for the machines. I'm not saying the last for humor value -- this is who these people are, and the ceremony is both political and religious. The ceremony goes well, complete with a hymn -- you've got to hear Malagasy Lutheran hymn singing: it's amazing. After some food, which is good, and passion fruit juice, which I'm not supposed to have but I drink anyhow -- I'm such an adventurer -- we deliver the first computer. OK, let's be honest. Rivo tested them. Rivo and Roberto loaded them into the van. Rivo got there first with the machines and set them up. We're ribbon cutters -- others are doing the real work now. Doug did the work of gathering the machines, getting software licenses donated, setting them up identically, and shipping them here, but there's not much left to be done. If the people needed education, then Doug would be all over that, but they don't because: A. There are people here who can do it. B. We don't speak Malagasy. I've already been to the first clinic that we are going to. I'd walked there with Rivo the day before. Nice walk, really, and I met some nice people, including a top administrator, and an accountant who took us for a quick tour -- I say quick, because we didn't go inside any buildings. More "this is opthalmology, that's radiology, etc." This time, we went into some of the buildings, because this time, they were getting two computers. They need them, and they deserve them. There are several doctors here, of a variety of levels of experience/education, from people like Dr. Olivier, who used to be the director, here, to a fellow who has had some medical school, but is not a licensed doctor, yet. The latter performs laparoscopic surgery. The company rep for the equipment showed him how. He removes gall bladders, etc. Ramona dives in. She simply disappears with the nursing staff and gets useful. Doug and I wind up sitting around a bit, talking about what we just saw. What we just saw was this: there are two fellows here who know Word and Excel just fine. They'll do the teaching. We're not needed, in that sense. But when I head they had a sonogram machine, I asked to see it and I dragged Doug with me. Whether it was spider-sense, or just the I-have-a-hammer-everything-is-a-nail way of us computer folk, I thought we might be able to capture images off the sonogram. Or the mammogram machine -- they have one of those, too, but I suspected that was a photographic, rather than video, system. Turns out, they have two machines which make sonograms. Both old, one visibly older than the other. Both have no storage capability, and no printer. Both have video out. Doug and I confer. We need to get them a camera which takes video in and puts out digital stills or digital video. With that, they could store records, print images, mail images to other doctors, etc. In the car, Ramona suggests a VCR. She's right. If we cannot get digital working, then that would be a good fall-back. The next stop is a school for the deaf. Doug can present them with one machine -- actually the decisions as to who gets how many (or any) are made by SALFA according to need and the realities of politics. But Doug is here, and so is a machine he has provided. They need it, as they have nothing. I have to be dragged away from the kids. First they mob Ramona, wanting to see their pictures on her camera, then they mob me, because I'm signing with them. They have no idea what the heck I'm saying, because our vocabulary set is completely divergent, but they know that this foreigner, this WHITE GUY, is trying to talk with them. One makes a hook over his nose and a couple make the same gesture. They point to me and gesture again. I know when I'm being mocked, in sign language, as most negative signs are on the nose, so I pick a half-indignant pose and affirm that yes, I am a whatever-that-negative-sign-is. Turn out, it means foreigner. At some point, they figure out that I'm asking their names, and we have a long interlude of finger-spelling. They have some cute names. Some are western, but the bulk are cute Malagasy ones. They all fight for attention to tell me their name. These are cute kids. Some have the facial malformation sometimes (rarely) associated with deafness, but most are perfectly formed and some are extremely attractive children. They seem happy and are certainly excited. After the formal presentation, I ask about spectrogram software. There will be software around that can be used for speech production therapy. I can hunt for it for them, but that will mean letting the kids near the machine. Is that what they want? I can find a microphone, or dig in my luggage and give them mine. The director brings in the speech therapist, and the answers are yes, then do work on production with the kids and yes, they would definitely like some analysis software. OK. I have another task. We head for SALFA to install some machines there but decide, along the way, to go to MELCAM first to get cleaned up and such, and then switch the plans around to get MELCAM their machine, since we're there, anyhow. MELCAM will need instruction. They want to have a machine so that students staying there can practice with computers before leaving for work in the States. Also so that Hasine (Hah-Shin-a) can work as secretary on it. Doug doe some teaching, but it looks to me like I need to run a couple of short classes, with homework, in-between. But the keyboard is a stumper. There are two other machines, here. Both have le clavier AZER-T -- French keyboards with the upper left starting with A, then Z, then E, well, you get the idea. The question goes like this: Do we get them an AZERT-Y keyboard, so the secretary can function in French, and so what he learns works on the other machines, too, or do we aim for the students and provide a qwerty keyboard, since that's what they'll have in the States? It's a conundrum, since it's hard to justify both since there just aren't extra keyboards lying around. I think I'll be buying one for here. Our last stop of the day is SALFA. SALFA gets a good number of machines, and one, certainly in the statistics department. It turns out one of them machines for which I need to set up an ODBC connection is one of the Rotary Cafe boxes. It's Windows 98, which is a major complication, so Doug says we should upgrade it to 2000. That'll make things easier. Home, food and rest. Ah. Well, not quite. We drop by the foreigner store on the way back. Dr. Olivier waits in the car for us while we buy cheese and bread for the trip tomorrow, and water, and... well, Doug has a craving for a beer. The local brew (one of three) is Three Horse Beer. Into the cart! We drank it on the patio of my room until the mosquitoes got too bad, then inside. The power was out at that time, so beer by candlelight. THB ain't bad. For a pilsner.