The guitar festival in Healdsburg, just north of Santa Rosa, California (August 9-11), was busy with wonderful luthiers and some great players performing concerts. Among the players was Kelly Joe Phelps, also teaching a workshop for advanced bottleneck players.
For this year’s birthday, my wife surprised me with a ticket for the workshop with Kelly Joe Phelps– my guitar hero. She didn’t know much about guitars, or about my limited bottleneck skills, but most importantly, I did not have an acoustic guitar. My classical guitar had nylon strings which were not good for bottleneck playing. So, I had a ticket for the workshop, but no guitar.
I asked my friend who promised to borrow me his acoustic guitar. As most guitarists, he loved his guitar and told me not to leave his Ibanez anytime during my flight to Santa Rosa. I understood. I have never flown with a guitar before so I called the airlines a day before the flight and they told me that I have to check-in my guitar. If I wanted to take it with me on board of the airplane, I would have to pay $300. My friend did not know what was happening when I showed up at his door with his guitar, but borrowed me his hard case in case I needed it.
I went to borrow another guitar. It was surprisingly quick and I was cycling back with a Takamine guitar on my back within hours. When I arrived home, I was disappointed to find out that the guitar did not fit the borrowed case. I forgot that the cases are not universal. There was no time left to try finding another guitar and no point in flying with my classical guitar – I departed guitar-less.
When we arrived to Santa Rosa, we told the cab driver to take us straight to the Bananas guitar shop. No luck there. A nearby pawn shop had a selection of used guitars at reasonable prices but when I said that I plan to return the guitar back on Monday, they refused to sell me one. Makes sense – they sell, they don’t rent. My last hope was the second music store in the town – the Stanroys. As I told them my story, they scratched their heads and looked at me pitifully. There were no guitars for rent in this store. Steve, the new manager, talked to the former owner and decided to borrow me his own guitar. I was amazed about his generosity. We arranged a place and time for the pick up and went to get some cash for Steve’s deposit.
The next morning, we woke up in an AIR B&B accommodation and I went to explore the house. The first thing I spotted in the living room was a Tayloracoustic guitar. It hanged on the wall next to the window, untouched and covered with a thin layer of dust. The house owner encouraged me to take it and play it, so I did not need Steve’s guitar any more. I was happy and content that I finally found a guitar at the end of my journey, just a couple of hours before the workshop. The lesson I’ve learned through this guitar story was to worry less about things – they will always work out somehow at the end of the day. All I need to do now is to put this wisdom in practice.
PS. In case you wonder how the workshop went, it was great: we talked and played and I got to know my guitar hero better.
Welcome to my INVESTing log. INVEST is the International Visiting Scientists & Technical Exchange Program for drug abuse research sponsored by NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse). From March-August, 2013, I was an INVEST researcher at the Oregon Health& Science University in Portland and this is a log about my experiences.
Three INVESTing points weekly (from newest to oldest):
Last Week 26 (August 26-31)
Windy and Sandy Jersey shore
Funny looking banknotes in my purse; different scent in my bathroom
With that soulful look on your face
Week 25 (August 19-25)
Here’s the opposite – a lot of professionals and not enough patients
A good bye lunch in the park
We don’t own anything; it’s on loan
Week 24 (August 12-18)
I lost my voice in Santa Rosa
I feel like I’m swimming upstream
Humans make up stories. Most people are better in the abstract
Week 23 (August 5-11)
Please note that your OHSU PC access will expire on 9/2/2013
The goal of writing is to stretch the limits of your thinking
Week 22 (July 29 – August 4)
A week of strong decisions
Picnic at Skidmore bluffs
Document the experience
Week 21 (July 22-28)
Swimming in the Frog lake under the Hood mountain
A beautiful place where I have time to think and write
The work ethics in US is different
Week 20 (July 15-21)
2 Free books in 2 days: paradise
Methamorphosis at Marquam hill
‘If the water is dark, the lake must be deep’
Week 19 (July 7-14)
It’s hard to get a credit line
Two writing workshops this week
You are my fountain of knowledge
Great art can emerge from aimless meanderings
Week 18 (July 1-7)
Charts reviews started, best time – 4.06 sec
The department is empty these days, the head brought a cake to appreciate staff
I thought I was here to learn more about research, but I’m actually learning a lot about leadership and group interaction
Week 17 (June 24-30)
73 new emails after a week out of office
A strange proposal will arrive soon
Everything depends on your determination
Week 16 (June 17-23)
at the CPDD conference, visiting San Diego again after 9 years
A complete different time space
Week 15 (June 10-16)
First focus group, first night ride through the Terwilliger… feels like on the top of the world
How long have you been using internet for? – 15 years
My first potluck at the OHSU public health
Week 14 (June 3-9)
Release from immediacy
Their number will grow, our number will die
The floor is slippery when wet (Really?)
Sometimes you don’t know what’s possible until you’re forced to do it
Week 13 (May 27 – June 2)
Where is the sun gone?
The atempt here is creating
sometimes, the most powerful and profound changes can be brought about by the most subttle and innocent moments
Journal of Japanese Gardens
Week 12 (May 20 -26)
IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval out now!
Working with other writers is good for me
Quote from a song: “Should I stay or should I go now?
If I stay, there will be trouble – If I go, there will be double.”
Week 11 (May 13 -19)
weeks started to fly by
I said: I’m an office monkey. They said: We are donkeys.
Work, Play, Love, Read
Week 10 (May 6 -12)
How to spill an oatmeal on the office floor
Two copulating mosquitos sucking blood from my arm
everybody has a different style of working
Week 9 (April 29-May 5)
My first ride to work on the cable car (aerial tram)
My friends at work make their own bread and apple preserves
I’ve been bitten by a writing buy
Week 8 (April 22-28)
First day at work in my 10-year old American sandals – the summer’s comming
Learning about my limits and acknowledging my strengths
“A lot of media advertising is based on things that make people insecure and anxious” (the Missrepresentation movie)
Getting warm welcomes by OHSU Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (PHPM) in The Liaison Newsletter:
Dr. Jan Klimas joined PHPM as an INVEST Fellow beginning March 1. The National Institute on Drug Abuse supports the INVEST Fellows program to accelerate career development for new investigators who are citizens of a country other than the US. Jan will work in the US for six months assessing the value of screening and brief intervention for alcohol use disorders among opioid dependent patients being treated with an opioid agonist medication (i.e., methadone or buprenorphine). He plans to collaborate with Richmond Clinic and CODA to contrast US agonist treatment services with those in Ireland provided through general practitioners.
Jan is a Slovakian currently working in Ireland where he studies screening and brief intervention for alcohol use disorders among opioid dependent patients receiving agonist medication. The US provides opportunities for comparative research….
For more info, check the Winter 2013 edition of The Liaison, PHPM’s internal newsletter, is published the first week of the month and highlights news and events that took place the previous month, in addition to listing upcoming events as well.
Week 7 (April 15-21)
New office, new start
What is the American standard?
First stolen bike saddle
Forging new friendships
Week 6 (April 8-14)
car hand brake is actually a foot brake in new US cars
moving to a new desk next week
restrooms and water fountains are so common in Portland
tatoos and piercings are so tolerated… everywhere
Week 5 (April 1-7)
Who uses buses in Portland or US? Discovering Portland Metro area
Changed my location on skype/ twitter to PDX
Week 4 (March 22-31)
First fruit of my labour on the INVEST project are here
Beautiful mornings, cycling to work on the hill
Work and life routine, getting used to it
Week 3 (March 15-21)
Conference at Washington DC
Getting to know myself better, my expectations
Everything’s so expensive
A photo from the Spring NIDA CTN 2013 conference: INVEST scholar links with Humphrey scholars:
Week 2 (March 8-14)
Why does it take so long to get used to this, longer than I expected
Too many things to do at work
I miss Ireland – listening to RTE Lyric.fm
Week 1 (March 1-7): starting in Portland
Jet lag, almost all week
My first chai
Everything is so big, different, weird
Arrived safely at OHSU; checking the “Hall of fame” aka Notice board with faculty publications by OHSU Department of Public Health (2011-13):
What happened before my arrival to OHSU in Portland, Oregon:
Jan will speak about his previous and current research in Ireland and plans for future research in Portland, OR at the The Spring 2013 CTN Steering Committee Meeting. It will be held at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda, Bethesda, Maryland, on March 12-15, 2013.
For more info, check the section about International Symposium in the latest issue of the NIDA CTN Bulletin (January 31, 2013, Volume 13 – 02): http://ctndisseminationlibrary.org/ctnbulletin.htm
Jan Klimas, PhD, joins the Western States Node on March 1, 2013, as a NIDA CTN INVEST Fellow. NIDA is National Institute on Drug Abuse, and INVEST is International Visiting Scientists & Technical Exchange Program for drug abuse research, which combines
“postdoctoral research training in the US with professional development activities and grant-writing guidance to form a unique program for drug abuse scientists”(link).
Oregon Health & Sciences University hosts Dr. Klimas’ six months fellowship during which he will assess the use of Screening and Brief Intervention (SBIRT) for alcohol use disorders among patients receiving agonist medication for opioid use disorders.
Professor Dennis McCarty, Co-PI for the Western States Node, will supervise Dr. Klimas during his fellowship. The research examines addiction treatment in primary and specialty care settings with respect to implementation of screening and treatment for unhealthy alcohol use among opioid-dependent patients in methadone or buprenorphine maintenance treatment in Ireland and Oregon. Dr. Klimas’ prior work in Ireland informs the U.S. investigation… read more in the NIDA CTN bulletin, (issue November 15th, 2012): http://ctndisseminationlibrary.org/bulletin/20121115.pdf
Family doctors are notoriously busy. Lack of their time is the number #1 barrier of doing anything outside their patient workload, including research. And yet, some enthusiasts get involved in the research endeavour, believing it can enhance primary care.
Knowing this, I looked for ways to do research with busy family physicians for my INVEST fellowship in Portland, OR. I needed to get them in one room and ask the group a couple of questions about their recent resident training initiative, SBIRT Oregon. The only time when my doctors were all in the clinic was right after another meeting. One of them suggested doing an open meeting technology. The phrase vaguely rang a bell with me.
‘Open space’ describes the process by which a wide range of individuals, in any organisation, can facilitate creative meetings around a complex theme of importance to all stakeholders 1. While a theme may be important to all stakeholders, they may have differing perspectives and responses, so this approach permits all voices to be heard and facilitates a process where stakeholders move from conflicting views to consensus. The approach has been widely used in commerce, religious communities, (non-)governmental agencies and war zones 2.
How did this work for us?
Our field ‘experiment’ lasted for about 90 minutes with two meetings in one room, right after each other. The meetings were unrelated, but 3/4 of the participants from the first meeting were scheduled for the second meeting too. I and my co-facilitator arrived well ahead of the first meeting. As doctors started to show up for the 2nd meeting – the 1st meeting was still in progress – some people were confused; others patiently listened to people talking at the 1st meeting. I found it very useful to sit on the 1st meeting and the transition to the 2nd meeting was much easier – all were in their seats already.
All in all, this set up had many advantages for multiple meetings with extra busy attendees. It can help solve problems and it works best with many people attending your meeting, but maybe it’s not ideal for research focus groups. A tip for a freshman facilitator: it’s amazing how much powerful an incentive for research can food be, especially pizza.
I was in San Diego (CA) 9 years ago. We went there with my wife, then a girlfriend, on a J1 Student work & travel programme. We worked as pedicab drivers – did not make much money but got the best tan (and time) in our lives. This year, we returned to Sand Diego for my presentation at the conference of the College on Problems of Drugs Dependence.
The drugs conference
This was probably the biggest conference I’ve ever attended. I underestimated the power that such enormous scientific stimulation can have on my thinking and experiencing of the world of addictions. My notebook is again full of ideas for research and life. To share just one of them, Wyoming is the only state in which has free access to Cochrane reviews in US. Cochrane collaboration is committed to produce high quality reviews of scientific evidence which aim to change the clinical practice and policy. USA produces the biggest number of studies that get included in Cochrane reviews. Are they not interested in reading what Cochrane reviews make of their clinical trials?
As I was coming back from the conference hotel to my hostel in the down town, I passed by an older man in red jacket entering the historical Simmons hotel with a bag of groceries. ‘I used to live here, 9 months ago’ said I when I saw him. ‘Nine years ago, I used to be a general manager of this hotel’ was his response. Back then, it was very difficult to convince this stern man that we would be able to pay our rent from our pedicab money. His face glowed when he finished our small talk ‘It’s a nice place to live’.
To my big surprise, we haven’t seen many pedicabs on the streets of San Diego. But it didn’t discourage us from taking a memorial ride from the US Midway to down town. We stopped a driver from Canada wearing a US flag as his head band. He explained what has caused the decline of pedicabs in SD:
- no J1 student drivers allowed (since 2009)
- the upper limit of new licenses – drop from 600 to 200
- Californian driving license required (since 2011)
- insurance for all
… we still didn’t manage to get on the Midway, maybe next time.
My new friend Portland, John Fitzgerald, PhD, wrote about this conference too, in his June blog.