Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting Intimate with the Kigali Public Golf Course

I'll be spending this week working closely with two of the workshop participants helping them answer their specific questions about Rwanda's community-based health insurance (Mutuelle). The project as a whole is about results-based financing (RBF) of health clinics, but there's pretty good panel data on all sorts of health-related topics. For more info on a bunch of RBF-related projects that the Bank is running, go here.

The people I'm working with had to go back to their regular jobs, so we meet in the evenings and I have days to myself. I'm doing a little work on my own military recruiting research idea and doing a lot of running--the new hotel is on the nicer outskirts of town, complete with a public golf course and tons of tiny squatted farm plots, so I can find dirt roads to run on and the air is much better than it was downtown.

site of the workshop

Nicolas Sarkozy on US health care reform: "Welcome to the club of states who don't turn their back on the sick and the poor." Love it.

Monday, March 29, 2010


the view waiting for Kagame's motorcade to pass

path on the hill behind Gisenyi


me at the DRC border

W at Lake Kivu

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Umuganda, Lake Kivu

A grey crowned crane almost walked into the hotel breakfast buffet line. Helped out briefly with some umuganda. (The morning of the last Saturday of every month in Rwanda is set aside for mandatory public service.) Then went to Gisenyi on Lake Kivu. Drove by a big national brewery powered by methane from the bottom of the "Exploding Lake." Bought a couple wooden gorilla carvings and some colorful fabric. Walked to the DRC border, but it's $60 to cross, so didn't bother. Walked around a lot. Got delayed by President Kagame's motorcade. Trying to upload pictures, but it's not working.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Panel Data (for the stats nerds only)

I got way more excited by this project yesterday when we finished teaching Stata and started talking about what we could actually do with the data. There was a pretty great question about the effect of community-based health insurance on health care utilization in Rwanda which I totally thought we could answer with our panel data using individual fixed effects. Only panel data isn't any better at getting you causal inference if there are unobserved shocks that are correlated with the first-differenced x's and y's. (That is, OLS is biased if there are unobserved e's correlated with both x and y; panel data instead regresses delta-y on delta-x, and if you use individual fixed effects you eliminate the e's. Only you still don't observe delta-e, and if that's correlated with delta-x and delta-y, you've got the exact same problem you had before. Ugh.) Still a cool idea worth looking into.

ANYWAY, switched to a far swankier hotel this morning, hoping to get out of Kigali for the weekend, maybe headed to Lake Kivu, or maybe to the northwest.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tin Roof

Teaching Stata to people with whom you do not share a native language in a building with a metal roof during a monsoon season rain storm is not that easy. It is in fact exhausting.

I am digging the endless pineapple.

M: [Sees Peter Singer book] Are you a Peter Singer fan?
G: Yes.
M: That's such a bad-ass pose on the cover. "I'm an ethicist, look at me."
G: I guess I haven't read that much of his. Just Animal Liberation and I saw him in this movie The Examined Life, which was basically following 9 philosophers around parks talking to them.
M: Oh, was that the one with Sandra Bullock? She was philosopher number 6?


Went to Heaven last night. Surprisingly, they let me in (and served me banana liquor and spinach ravioli and cream of mushroom soup and Tusker and Primus). Ran a little this morning, felt like I got intimate with an exhaust pipe. Hope to get out of the city this weekend for some lightly traveled dirt roads and big hills.

Also watched The Cove and cried like a baby.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Second Impressions (I've been here before)

Jetlag. Took some pills and slept for the better part of 12 hours last night. The mangoes are to die for. The diesel exhaust while out on a morning run is to die from.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Greetings from the back corner of the room at the National University of Rwanda School of Public Health and a session on program impact evaluation. After 58 hours of travel, including a long delay at Dulles (and the Worldgate Marriott in Herndon, VA) and an overnight stay at a swanky hotel in Addis Ababa all care of Ethiopian Airlines, I arrived in Kigali yesterday.

One of the three channels on the hotel TV is CNN, and there's free slow wifi, so on that note: hooray for helping 32 million people get health insurance. It's not 47 million, but it's something.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who Reads My Blog?

Mostly just my sister.

But it's interesting to see who else stumbles upon my blog whilst traveling through the tubes. Why, just yesterday, yet another person googled "do monkeys have balls." Awesomely, I'm the number one result. Other popular searches are "paul farmer comma," "paul farmer a--hole," (I really take no pride in the latter) and "homemade odwalla bars," along with a bunch of boring hiking stuff that actually makes sense.

By far I am most proud of being the number one google image result for hike naked day, although sadly I don't have a counter installed on that page so I missed out on what must have been an enormous spike in views thanks to Governor Sanford.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rwanda, Running, Music

1. I am going to Rwanda on Thursday for two weeks on a short term contract with the World Bank as part of a team that will teach statistics, program impact evaluation, and Stata programming to public health school faculty and government health ministry folks.

2. This may be premature, but I may finally have my running mojo back. I did a nice 4-hour run today, and I've been running semi-consistently lately. For shorter distances I've been running laps around a big grassy park that's only two or three blocks from the house in my Vibram Five Fingers.

3. I saw the Dodos live in concert with the 26-piece Magik Magik Orchestra a couple weeks ago and Slow Club on Wednesday. Both were great. I've been liking the band Blind Pilot the past few days.

4. MRB turned me on to the blog of ultra-runner Anton Krupicka. I don't read many blogs of other ultra-runners, but I like his. Perhaps that's just because, like me, he hates driving to trailheads and runs there instead, or perhaps he's really a cool guy.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Rockies Ruck, Big Sur, Coyote Two Moon 100-Miler

Last weekend I visited a friend at the Esalen Institute near Big Sur. Think whatever you want about the teaching there (I certainly do) but it's in a beautiful setting, and I saw a whale breaching while soaking in a hot spring, so it's a win in my book. I definitely need to hit the Ventana Wilderness at some point.

Then I went down to Ojai and helped a friend run an aid station in the Coyote Two Moon 100-Miler. I hiked a short section of the course then helped runners at the aid station for 8 hours or so. The weather was crummy so there was a disappointingly large number of drops.

This race has an interesting set-up. Runners estimate their finish times and faster people start later so that everyone will finish at close to the same time. So Karl Meltzer, a seriously fast dude, was the last person through our aid station.
KM on his way out of the aid station

The weekend before this last one I went to the Rockies Ruck, an annual low-key hiker-trash gathering in Leadville, CO, the highest altitude incorporated city in the USA (10,200'). I had horrible dreams thanks to the altitude, but the snowshoeing was fun, as was my presentation of Sierra High Route pictures.

Mags before falling

Mags after falling

(Boulder) Skittles, Cheers, Bruiser, Wendy, D-Low

Monday, March 01, 2010

Nolan's 14

I spent the weekend with hiker trash friends in Colorado. More on that later, perhaps. While there, I remembered something that could get me my ultra/adventure fix this coming summer: Nolan's 14. Basically, fourteen 14ers in 100 miles with 45,000 feet of gain. I'll be in Utah for a wedding July 10, it'd be a pretty easy drive from there. I need a little more info on monsoon season--on the CDT I was already in the Winds by July 4, and didn't get back to CO until September, when lightning was over for the most part.