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Home. HOME. HOOOOMMME. No more strange beds. The three weeks on the road were extraordinary, fascinating, memorable--and it is beyond good to be back in the place we made and love so much. Now in classic introvert mode, I'm puttering about silently, getting everything in order for some days of follow-up words and actions. I'll be back on PNW time soon, although right now my mind/body think it's Friday night, on the other side of the world. Tomorrow I won't be awake at 5 AM, writing a post. I hope.

Ann Medlock

Waiting now for the last flight of this long journey. I'll have a lot of photo-sorting and note-editing to do when I get back to my desk, but for now, a snippet from the accumulated gems. This is for the Grammarians in my world, AKA my fellow defenders of all that is right and proper and beautiful in writing--it seems that one of the long-gone emperors of Viet Nam was One of Us--an editor.

Ann Medlock

Posting now from Hanoi International Airport, where they just announced a gate change for our flight. Gotta go.

Ann Medlock

The most glorious mosquito netting. Again, at Pilgrimage Village in Hue. I turned off the AC and opened the doors, so we could listen to the rain. And the frogs.

Ann Medlock

The new banner here is a Cham Dynasty motif at Pilgrimage Village in Hue, an extraordinary place built by a Hue man with stunning taste and a love of history. The entire village replicates ancient architectures of the region, and is filled with art. Highly recommended.

Ann Medlock

One of the surprising aspects of New Year celebrations in Viet Nam is giving people Ben Franklins. There are fake US $100 bills everywhere--pretty good fakes--first one made me stop and pick it up. Now I just walk on all that wealth.

Ann Medlock

Funny thing about being on this side of the international dateline--my computer doesn't know, so it's showing me pictures I took "tomorrow."

Ann Medlock

Does Google look like this where you are? Or is this just for Viet Nam and the Year of the Goat celebration?

Ann Medlock

Timeline Photos

The “Angel of Trenton" Alice Parker ~ http://bit.ly/AliceParker “This is a hurting world, and people need help. So when people come knock on your door and ask if you have food or anything, what else are you supposed to do?” This statement personifies Alice Parker of Trenton, New Jersey, in two ways: It’s an indication of her life work, which is helping people in need. And it illustrates how humble she is, saying, in a way, “I don’t deserve any credit; I had no choice but to sacrifice my own comforts for the needs of others.” Parker grew up in north Philadelphia, a nurse by training, devoted to caring for others. After moving to Trenton in the 1970’s she survived several cancer operations and two heart attacks. She took a hard look at how she wanted to use her life and decided to serve people whose troubles exceeded her own. The result was the Life Line Emergency Shelter, where the homeless could stay for up to three months. Though she and her husband own a home in Philadelphia, they slept on a sofa at the Trenton shelter so they could be available to help the residents, most of them addicts, 24/7. Parker wasn’t finished with her good works. She started the “Muffin Mission,” collecting and distributing surplus baked goods to the hungry. In time she also pioneered programs for literacy, job training, and transitional housing, as well as a summer day camp and a discount store. Parker became involved with Habitat for Humanity, the Union Industrial Home for Children, and Looking Into the Future Together. And she was one of the founders of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. The Soup Kitchen is a good example of how many people Parker has affected. Within the first few weeks of its opening, the kitchen had served almost a thousand people. By the end of the year, more than 40,000 lunches had been served, plus feasts at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It may be clear why Parker soon became known as “The Angel of Trenton.” It hasn’t been easy: Parker has given up many of the material pleasures that could have been hers in order to “do good.” But helping those thousands of people over the years is all the pleasure she desires. As she says, “I really never did stop nursing.” Update: Over the past few years, Alice Parker has had more health problems—eight strokes, an impaired ability to walk, and the loss of sight in one eye. A warehouse she used to store toys, clothing, and furniture for needy families burned down. She has moved back to Philadelphia, where, undaunted, she hopes to help people start charitable organizations. Her work, she says, is not yet done. #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut

Once a nurse, always a nurse. Giraffe Hero Alice Parker just can't stop taking care of people.

Ann Medlock

On the other side of those mountains -- the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Beauty, and dread.

Ann Medlock
Ann Medlock

John Graham

The Citadel fortress in Hué today is peaceful and beautiful. but for a month during the Tet Offensive in 1968 it was the scene of bitter fighting, as this bullet scarred wall suggests. #ontheedge

The red flag is everywhere, as are bullet holes. "Reunified" Viet Nam is a staggeringly emotional place to see. We keep telling stories to young people here of times before they were born--before their parents were born. So many answers to our questions are, "No one knows." People disappeared after 1975, with no reports of what became of them. Now, places like Hue's Citadel are being restored, and only the old have memories.

Ann Medlock

The new "cover" picture here was taken this morning in Hue, Viet Nam. Tet (New Year's) is hours away and there are cyclos and motorbikes all over the city delivering huuuuge arrays of yellow flowers. Also wonderful bushes full of tiny oranges. I'll try to get a shot of one of those tomorrow.

Ann Medlock

For all the Vietnam Vets who remember a beer called 33--look at this. Do you think this is about inflation?

Ann Medlock

I'm still pondering and processing our visit to the war museum in Saigon. I have to say that it was...fair. There were all the things you'd expect to see, but more. They showed not only the suffering on their side but on ours as well. As in the Agent Orange exhibit--you round a corner and step into a large space that's bright bright orange. There, along with the pictures of blasted trees (the stuff does work for its stated purpose--destroying all vegetation) there are god-awful photos of injured Vietnamese, deformed Vietnamese children born years later, and AND serious reports of the illnesses suffered by American vets and the deforming of THEIR kids. Other exhibits honor the foreign correspondents of all nations who died covering the war, the two Americans who risked their own lives to stop the My Lai massacre... I was deeply impressed that it wasn't all one-sided.

Ann Medlock

Timeline Photos

Championing the Right to Speak Out Jeffrey Van Ee ~ http://bit.ly/JeffreyVanEe Environmental Protection Agency staffers might be expected to be natural allies for private citizens also concerned with the protection of the environment. Yet Jeffrey van Ee, an EPA engineer in Las Vegas, was threatened with dismissal for helping such citizens. Van Ee attended, as a private citizen, a negotiation meeting involving the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, the Department of the Interior, and a government contractor. The purpose of the meeting was to settle a dispute centered on a Notice of Intent to Sue filed by the SCLDF; van Ee criticized a DOI proposal for a $400,000 study of eleven (count ‘em—11) endangered desert tortoises prior to building a plant on their habitat. He suggested that a lot less money would actually save the animals in question if it were used to buy appropriate new habitat and move them to it. A lawyer working for DOI reported van Ee for “conflict of interest, “ and asked the U.S. Attorney’s office to file criminal charges against him, which they refused to do. The Environmental Protection Agency then notified van Ee that he would be subject to further discipline, including dismissal, if he continued his environmental activities. He was precluded from representing any private group in any action in conflict with any federal agency or organization. The Government Accountability Project assisted van Ee in pushing EPA to rescind their “gag” order and allow him to resume unrestricted environmental activism in his private time. Meanwhile, EPA has issued a series of “ethics advisories” to its employees; their effect is to keep federal employees from assisting citizen groups, even on personal time. Though van Ee is still threatened with the termination of his 20-year career, he continues to use his free time to work on environmental issues. He’s also determined to get EPA’s policies changed so fellow employees are free to act on their own beliefs on their own time. “This is a simple case of [DOI] officials losing their tempers because they lost several hundred thousand dollars for a study that was more academic pork barrel than useful scientific analysis,” said the GAP attorney representing van Ee. Update: With counsel provided by the American Civil Liberties Union, van Ee successfully sued the EPA for its unlawful action, thus setting an important free-speech precedent for all federal employees. He retired in 2005 after 34 years as an engineer with the Environmental Protection Agency. Jeff van Ee is currently focusing on water issues. As a member of the Southern Nevada Planning Authority, he fears that, "15-20 years from now, our current supplies will be overtaxed and we will need to find an alternate source of water." Van Ee laments that, "It seems there are too few of us that are willing to stand up and say we need to protect our environment." #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut

Giraffe Hero and EPA official Jeff Van Ee refused to give up his right to speak out on an environmental issue that concerned him. His personal position made more sense than the Department of Interior's--and he rightly defied a gag order.

Ann Medlock

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