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.