Doctors Without Borders in 2009, by the numbers

Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières just issued their annual report for 2009 (click here for PDF).

Some numbers that jumped out at me were:

  • 7,932,403 Meningitis Vaccinations
  • 1,419,427 Measles Vaccinations

For comparison, I note that the total population of Hong Kong is 7million, and San Francisco is 800,000. That is a *lot* of vaccinations – significantly more then all the war/earthquake/flood/disaster injuries they reported. Also in the list of medical procedures carried out in 2009 was “110,236 baby birth deliveries” – even in the midst of everything else, life goes on.

Japan: two weeks later

Still having a hard time grasping the scale of the earthquake in Japan. Most of the news in California is focused on the nuclear power plants at Fukushima, but the following struck me about the earthquake:

Its great to see Wikipedia and GoogleCrisisResponse spreading timely information, which is really important in situations like this.

This is two weeks later.

We get earthquakes here too, which raises the question: if an earthquake happened here in the bay area, could you be fully self-sufficient for at least 72hours? San Francisco Dept of Emergency Management has setup to help people prepare.

UPDATED: added today’s story about the dog. Searching building wreckage is dangerous, more so when its floating at sea, so I’ve lots of respect for the people continuing to do this day after day. joduinn 02apr2011.

Election pamphlets in San Francisco

Today was election day here in San Francisco.

When I first started getting election pamphlets in the mail months ago, I simply tossed them into recycling along with the junk mail. Eventually, it struck me that there seemed to be a lot, so out of curiosity, two weeks ago I started collecting them, putting all the various election pamphlets I’ve received in a pile. All unread.

Last night, I sat down to read them all, with a fresh cup of coffee.

There were so many, it was almost as tall as my coffee mug. Reading them all took hours.

Having avoided all the political TV/radio ads, reading these flyers was my first real exposure into the style of the election ads going on all campaign. Reading them all in one large pile like that was a bit of a culture shock, and frankly, disappointing.

Lots of “dont vote for the other person; they’re corrupt/evil/wrong! Instead you should vote for me; I’m honest/good/correct”. All the pamphlets were very destructive of the other candidates. Calling them “attack ads” glosses over the personal destructive nature of these pamphlets.

Very few leaders, with positive and open constructive discussions.

This doesn’t bode well for my hope of seeing elected officials working together to solve some (any!) of the pressing problems facing us today.


Trying an experiment this year instead of the usual tent.

Some friends of mine had these last year, and they were great. Obviously, well insulated means warm at night, and cool in the day – all wonderful things at BurningMan. However, they also kept the dust down, and kept the light out, so you could actually get some sleep after the beginning of sunrise.

Lets see how this experiment goes. So far, we’ve got all the parts cut, and taped. We’ve even tried some initial test placements, but never yet actually put it all together yet. Just in case, we’re still bringing tents from last year – after all, “what could possibly go wrong”!?!


Stay tuned – I’ll let you know how it went.

Burning Man Emergency Services by the numbers

Every year at Burning Man, Emergency Services handles a range of incidents. Here’s an infograph showing incident data for the last 3 years, broken down by incident type.

The source data is freely published on, but I really like how they visualize the data. This layout is immediately familiar to burners and is visually intuitive – more incidents of a specific type == larger area for that type. Click on the thumbnail for a larger version, and spend a few minutes skimming details; it was interesting reading!

The authors (GOOD and Hyperakt) end with “Try not to get flown out by helicopter”!

Excellent advice! 🙂

Burning Man InfoGraph

The countdown for Burning Man is well underway, so this infograph was a timely discovery.

Amidst all the other data, the comparison with other large events struck a chord with me. The complexity of logistics at Burning Man makes 50,000 people seem like a lot of people… until you see it alongside Glastonbury Festival (137,000), Woodstock Festival (500,000), the Hajj (1.6million) and Kumbh Mela (40million). Wikipedia (being Wikipedia!) has a page listing the largest gatherings in human history – a fascinating read!

Thanks to xmason for putting this infograph together, and to abillings for drawing this to my attention.

Burning Man Film Festival, San Francisco

The Burning Man Film Festival was in the Red Vic theatre on Haight Street this weekend; I almost missed it, but stopped by tonight to watch a few hours of assorted short films. This was a good way for me to remember the sights and sounds of it all – and of course, there was the inevitable mix of funny, sad, strange and very personal stories.

One story that struck me particularly was “Burn on the Bayou” about Burning Man 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. This brought memories flooding back of people leaving Burning Man as news of the destruction spread; some driving all the way from Burning Man in Nevada, some flying to the nearest still-working airport, then figuring out something; some people trained disaster professionals going to do what they’d been training for, some people just going because they had to do something to help. Most ended up living there for months – one person from my camp moved there for a few years – and this became the start of Burners Without Boarders.

Five years later, the reconstruction continues. There are still BurnersWithoutBoarders helping along the Gulf and now facing the new problems caused by the BP oil spill. There are also BurnersWithoutBoarders in Haiti and other locations. If you are able to donate time or equipment or money, check out their website; these are hardworking folks in very trying circumstances making a difference each and every day.

Towel Day 2010 @ Mozilla

Towel Day is held in memory of the death of Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001). This year, Tiffney arranged a lunchtime reading of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy for Towel Day.

In between the work meetings, and office interrupts at the office, it was really great to take time to pause, sit, re-read portions of these oh-so-familiar books, and this time read them out loud to others. The recipe for Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters and also the “S.E.P. at Lord’s Cricket Grounds” are personal favourites, but its all great. Also, for the rest of the entire day, it was fun to see someone walk by with a towel casually slung over their shoulder, and know they were also fans. Mozilla being Mozilla, there were several people who saw my towel and bathrobe who instantly said “oh no, I forgot it was Douglas Adams Towel day”, and only one person who stopped me and asked quizzically – “ummm….are you wearing a bathrobe”!?!

Big thanks to Tiffney for making this happen!