Tuesday, August 28, 2007

muslims in america

today i visited the UMMA clinic. UMMA stands for university muslim medical association. UMMA started with a group of muslim med students who wanted to do something to help the community after the riots in the early 90's. the video below tells their story. it almost made me a muslim!

Islam teaches its followers to serve and give. it is inclusive and compassionate. i am so happy to see an organization who can demonstrate a different view of muslims in america. their story is compelling. i hope you enjoy this video! if you double click on the video it will open up into youtube and then you can read the comments. the comments are from around the world and SUPER interesting...

Monday, August 27, 2007

skid marks

i spent the day today on skidrow. thankfully it was for work and i didn't just end up there. though sometimes i am not so sure how far away from skidrow any of us are.

if you turn your head to the side you can see the L.A. Mission Health Center

elizabeth and mike and i are here to see more community health centers and get a feel for what we can do to increase american's access to health care. (i don't know why this photo is sideways like this)

this is the view from the roof of the the LA mission's roof to the east

this is what it looks like to the west
little tokyo lofts are on sell
they advertise that:
it's 12 miles from beverly hills
it's a million miles from beverly hills
they don't advertise that:
its 3 blocks from skidrow
but ignoring it like it is a million miles from skid row
with prices starting in the $300,000s.

here is the crew
the usual and herb and susan

mike is directing

he is looking down at this
the skidrow
please note the photos on the wall.

this doesn't capture all the activity that is buzzing around this center.
they provide overnight beds to 180 men each night
and about 50 beds for women
then they have residential programs that help get people out of poverty
about 200 men at anyone time
and about 80 women
and they are only scatching the surface

here are the people on skidrow
today i saw men smoking crack and shooting heron
one of the guys in this photo did it right in front of me
apparently there aren't as many people on "heroine road"
as there was a couple of weeks ago
the police were hanging out for a good long time and people left
but the professionals say, they are on their way back
the federal funded health center provides all sorts of primary care
they find tb, syphilis, and aids at 2 and 4xs the national average
people like to think it is a totally different world
but it is not
we are in the same world
blocks apart
they are americans
skidrow feels different than a thirdworld shantytown
because it isn't so distant.

we are at a VOA site where they are doing primary health care visits
this guy was once a "student" in the la mission
he is clean and now a health outreach worker

after work i hooked up with robin of the cheryl and diane family
we ate at this awesome japanese place that just opened called takami

this is the view from where we sat
it was even cooler because we got to see the sun set.
or at least the affects of the sun setting

here is robin on our way back to my hotel so she could hurry and get packed for some
crazy travel and work
thanks for hanging out tonight robin!
also, check out that moon!!!!

something about work

so i thought i would just say a bit about work. as you probably know, i currently serve as the associate director for health in the center for faith-based and community initiatives at HHS. i split my time between domestic and international public health. my goal is to engage faith- and community-based organizations in all sorts of public health ways. religious leaders hold all sorts of clout in their communities and often can motivate behaviour change. i like to use this example: the surgeon general and the secretary of health and human services have been telling americans for about 5 years that they need to exercise for at least 20 minutes 5 days a week. not much has happened. but now imagine that your bishop, priest, imam, President Hinckley, the Pope, (whatever your flavor is) told you to do the same. i can tell you right now that if President Hinckley told the mormons to start exercising, there would be a LOT more exercising and lots of fat, middle-aged mormons would lose weight.

and what is cool about motivating religious leaders to do something for public health is that it is cheap. we, the taxpayers, get alot of bang for our buck. so this type of stuff goes on all over.

in memphis we were visiting community health centers. we saw christ community heath center and memphis health center. they are in different stages of organizational development, but it is always nice to see there are people geniunely concerned for the nation's poor and working hard to help people. it is inspiring. these centers are in rough neighborhoods and help homeless, uninsured, and working poor americans. it feels good to feel like we might be able to help them (and i think we can). you might ask how. well, it is mostly by liaising. the biggest barrier for people getting help from the federal government seems to be knowing where to go for help. i think i know where to point these folks, and i think that may turn into benefit for their communities. super exciting.

here are some photos:

this was just too awesome not to capture on film
a scene from the front doors of the memphis health center
not associated with the sign
please note the credit store in the back
it really troubles me that the poorer the area is, the more of these stores exist
i just think there is something sinister about making money on people's poverty

this is the building next to the memphis health center
this area is kinda like a ghost town
everything is boarded and closed
but that one store is for rent if you are interested

on our way to the airport we had about an hour to kill so we decided to stop by graceland
it was $25/person to get in so we didn't go inside
but man that place is a trip!
the demographic of visitors is like nothing i had ever seen
except when i went there with mandy and julie

this is what i look like at the airport coming home
dianna picked me up with my bike and cycling clothes,
so i went straight from the flight to an hour-long bikeride.

30 post landing
i eventually took the necklace off
we rode for an hour
dianna stopped to pee in the woods and got poison ivy on her right butt cheek.
then we ate delicious sushi at sushi taro--
thank heavens my barbequed pork sandwich days are over!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

voila Foux De Fa Fa by Flight of the Conchords

my friend katie had this on her blog and it is way to awesome not to share!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

walking in memphis

i am at the beginning of a series of work trips and i thought it could be fun to chronicle my work travels.

here i am on a cool august day in dc (WTH?), headed into the airport.
please note that i need a haircut and that my hair didn't handle the misty rain too well.
also note in my left hand: cute briefcase from tunisia.

we are in memphis to hear about religious health assets mapping
and to visit some community health centers.
this is a painting in the nurses' station of "christ community health center"
it is a cool modern/urban take on the parable of the good samaritan.
i think it is really cool

there was some press at this site visit and they really wanted to get some photos of us
luckily i looked so awesome (??)
we are feds and we are here to help!
elizabeth, me, and mike

we went to dinner after the site visit to rendezvous, famous for ribs.
this is my boss mike costigan - he is super excited about his meat!
gary gunderson is to his right and that is burt waller's shoulder
i should have taken more photos of the awesome people at that table

this is my dinner
what a HUGE mistake!
i rarely eat meat, but when i fall off the wagon
it is always with a real splash
i ate some pork shoulder and some ribs ...
it was good, i am not going to lie, but i have been paying for it ever since
it is now 20 hours since i ate and i still feel nauseated
i will never do this again
(i say this every time)
the word of wisdom tells us not to eat meat*
i am going to try and be more obedient!
travel is so tough on my body it is crazy.
i could really use a run today and i think i am going to do a juice fast.

from the doctrine and covenants 89
12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

you wanna go on a shelfari with me?

a couple of weeks ago a friend invited me to shelfari. it looked like a fun way to keep track of other people interested in reading and find new books. so i joined, invited my bookclub, and some other friends. i was fiddling around on the site one day and was asked if i would like to "find friends" using my gmail account. i thought it would scan my contacts and see who else was on shelfari. well it deceived me: shelfari invited EVERY SINGLE PERSON i have ever emailed.

the damage is extensive. every old boyfriend, boss, chief of staff of HHS, CDC researcher, landlord, all of my friends kids, are now invited to join my shelfari. "do we like the same books?" and AS IF THAT WASN'T BAD ENOUGH, shefari keeps sending reminders to people to join my thing.

here are some examples to give you a feel of how horrible and madcap this is:
  • recently my ex-boyfriend clement and i were having a brief email exchange that abruptly ended when his live-in girlfriend wigged out and threatened to leave him if he didn't tell me we could never communicate again. he obliged, and i got this horribly sad email from him, with his girlfriend cc'd, telling me that i can never email him again (with some subtle apology for his girlfriend's insecurity). they are now both being invited to shelfari a couple times a week.
  • someone joined who i did not know. she said she enjoyed the site and wanted to use it for her own bookclub but wondered who i was. i finally figured out that she was one of the women lindsay and i had talked to about adopting paulette when we were looking for a home for her. it was really nice to be reacquainted.
  • friends from frisbee, former interns, friends' 8 year old daughters, and other friends that i had fallen out of touch with have joined.
  • the chief of staff of hhs is getting annoyed with all of my email invitations to join... this is my great grandboss wondering what in the world i am doing at work all day.
  • anne garrels
  • tom szaky, ceo of terracycle
  • the wife of chris dodd, presidential contender
  • my landlord, who is a struggle at best joined. maybe we are supposed to be friends now?
anyway, the list goes on and on. i got an email from a colleague at the cdc asking me if i had sent this to him. i felt so ridiculous.

but now i am thinking maybe this is a chance for a community to start. we have all been brought together by this random event and maybe the best thing is to become friends with each other by exploring our tastes in literature. maybe people will fall in love via shelfari, maybe we can be a new version of the concord, ma in the 1850's? we will all become philosophers and, though not transcendentalists, we will create a new way of thinking. and it will all be because of this freak accident when i invited everyone i have ever emailed to join shelfari.

maybe it was fate and not an accident after all?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

my last letter from rob

The Dream & Journey Become The... Reality
August 19, 2007

Aug 20, 2007

The Day After...

So you made a committment to yourself or a friend or family member months ago. You started on a journey to what you hoped would have a very happy ending. Yesterday near 1800 of you, became an... Iron Girl!

WE all want to say Bravo to you. To those pre entered who did not make the event, you did miss one very special day and one for the history books

The morning started out with a fine mist and light rain at 3 am when many of the team arrived at Centennial Lake. WE set out upon our tasks to insure all was ready to the big day to begin. WE parked 1200+ cars!! WE bodied marked all, you got ready and we could see many of you with that glare at the swim start corral, that many were nervous and anxious but ready to get it ON!! The start horn went off at 06:45 after our 83 'F Lake. There was barely a ripple on the surface!! You exited the swim and headed out of ther hilly bike route. The roads were a challenge. You survived that one... you got back , headed out on ther final leg, the 3.4 mile run. Yes it was not a true 5 K. You did more!! You came upon our Village People Team at the Gatorade Wall... Surprise!! WE hope you liked that touch and final inspiration to get you up that nasty climb. From there it was about a 0.5 mile downhill and flat rush to the finish line. You could hear the cheers and the music from afar!! As you came around that final turn and headed down that finishing straight, your name was announced and You became an Iron Girl!!

WE hope this was the beginning of the rest of your life. There were so many tears and so much joy at the finishline. The event was for us and all, a huge success... Just like we planned it to be and hoped it would be as well.

Now it is up to you to take that moment , that feeling ,and do something more with it. WE hope you will never forget being a part of this historic event and what it felt like to accomplish and achieve a Dream...A Journey.

Entry for Iron Girl Columbia 2008 will open later this year so watch for it. Be Ready

As a final touch and as I sign off this one last time, I want you to recall and remember the Tribute I played for you Race Morning , when many of you may still have been a bit asleep perhaps or were busy getting ready to perform at your best.

Here is a link to my opening Tribute to All of you.

It is from" Yanni, Live At The Acropolis", entitled Santorini.

I hope you have Windows or some other Media program to hear it as it is full of energy and will send some chills through you, I know. Close your eyes and imagine what Aug 19, 2007 at 06:20 am was like and tell all your friends what and how you felt!!


Ohene Oh Ka La,( Until We Meet Again, in Hawaiian)

Rob Vigorito and The RYKA Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon Team

phone: 410-964-1246
email: events@tricolumbia.org

Click here to unsubscribe.

The Columbia Triathlon Association, Inc.
6662 Windsor Court, Columbia, MD 21044
410-964-1246 (phone) 410-964-2274 (fax)
Copyright 2005 The Columbia Triathlon Association, Inc.

what's it feel like for an irongirl?

This IS your Coronation, to The Journey you began in 2006 or , in some cases in 2007

Now, Your Best is in Front of YOU

Be Great and Never , Never ... EVER Give UP !!

Simply BE Great !!

Rob Vigorito, Race Director and The Iron Girl Columbia Race Team

i woke up to this note in my inbox. this was an excited triathlon, and they sent out a lot of emails leading up to the race. they like exclamation points, and they like to capitalize random words. anyway, liz, dianna and i were among the 2100 women racing in the 2007 iron girl.

i was supposed to do this race last year but i was so out of shape and depressed that i didn't. i hope this becomes a tradition. it was the best organized race i have ever participated in.

we got these wristbands so that we wouldn't have to deal with any security or id checks at the race. we also got our AWESOME race shirts, bar none the best i have ever had, and a really cool water bottle. if you want free stuff, this race had it goin' on!

they had us set up our bikes the night before. i was kinda bugged because i am UBER neurotic about my bike getting lost, damaged, or stolen. but in the end i actually liked the policy because i didn't have to worry about it the morning of. here is elizabeth pumping her tires the night before.

we were so pleasantly surprised to find that our bikes had a special place with our names on them. it was awesome because it meant that there was no cramming for the good spots.

our race bibs also had our names printed under our numbers. i LOVED this. as we ran people would shout out your name and cheer. it is really really amazing how much a little "you go girl," "keep going kimberly," "awesome climb" etc helps when you're struggling thru the race. it really makes a difference.

i decided that each time i passed someone on my ride or run, i would shout their name and cheer them on. this seriously made the race. you could literally feel it lift people. it was amazing.

here is elizabeth the night before the race LOVING her bib and doing a little cheer.
we decided just to stay in ellicot city (45 minutes away from dc) because the race started at 6:50am and we didn't want to have to get up super early to drive up there.
so here we are at the turf valley resort. random that we stayed at a golf resort, but we had an awesome huge room with a comfy bed.

this is us leaving bright and early
we kept forgetting the camera so our photos are few.
we didn't take any photos pre-race because we just barely got there in time. the heats were really spread out so i ended up being finished before liz and dianna transitioned to their bikes.
i got to get these photos of dianna. unfortunately, i left the transition area before liz came for fear that i would miss dianna's finish.

from bike to run with a new pair of sox

the run start. i wish i would have paid more attention to the race course before it all started. when i transitioned from bike to run, i couldn't figure out where to run was so i followed the swimmers and ended up running an extra 150/200 yards. DOI!

there were tons of scenes like this:
mommy with 2 daughters holding hands as the cross the finish line.

here is dianna running to here finish line.
i think she kinda looks like an ad for Zoot
good job dianna, that is some awesome form!

after her coronation, this princess likes to eat bananas and potato chips

all racers had their number written in magic marker down their arms, and their ages on their calves. here are my calves.
lots of iron girls liked my smiley leg as we passed each other.
i think i will have to do this each time.

that is one serious nerd! but how awesome is that little medal around my neck?

we all are winners! it was so so so fun! thanks girls for doing it with me. lets do it again next summer!!!!

and a special thanks to my friend katie clifford who introduced me to the race and then got me and my two friends into it! we owe you a huge thanks! if you come to dc i can assure you we will treat you like an irongirl (which is better than a queen!!!!!)

This IS your Coronation, to The Journey you began in 2006 or , in some cases in 2007

Now, Your Best is in Front of YOU

Be Great and Never , Never ... EVER Give UP !!

Simply BE Great !!