Monday, January 25, 2010


If you're here for unqualified martial-arts advice, I'm afraid you've caught me at a bad time. All things considered, folks, just buy a gun and learn to use it. In the meantime, if you live on a fault line and suspect your home might collapse in an earthquake, move. That's the best self-defense advice I've got for you these days.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

From Mischa says: (6:00:15 AM)
Hello! says: (6:00:21 AM)
How are you?
Mischa says: (6:00:25 AM)
Mischa says: (6:00:29 AM)
I'm so glad you're here.
Mischa says: (6:00:34 AM)
So here's the situation. says: (6:00:36 AM)
Why would I be anywhere else?
Mischa says: (6:00:37 AM)
The Italians are great.
Mischa says: (6:00:41 AM)
I don't know.
Mischa says: (6:00:53 AM)
They told me that no Italian animal is ever left behind.
Mischa says: (6:00:59 AM)
Of course I can take Pites tomorrow.
Mischa says: (6:01:04 AM)
BUT the plane tomorrow is too small. says: (6:01:11 AM)
I mean, my brother's in a fucking disaster zone, it would be kind of cold to go off to Muay Thai right now.
Mischa says: (6:01:19 AM)
It's the President of Italy's personal jet. says: (6:01:28 AM)
Mischa says: (6:01:29 AM)
So I can't leave yet if I'm to save Pites.
Mischa says: (6:01:48 AM)
I have to wait a week.
The problem is, I don't have an official link with the UN once Cristina is gone. says: (6:02:50 AM)
Ah. says: (6:03:01 AM)
You did marry the woman.
Mischa says: (6:03:05 AM)
I was offered a contract with WFP today,
Mischa says: (6:03:20 AM)
but they can't get it aprroved and signed and so on for at least a week.
Mischa says: (6:03:23 AM)
It needs to go to Rome.
Mischa says: (6:03:38 AM)
But I can't abandon Pites. says: (6:03:39 AM)
Hey, are we going to get cut off soon?
Mischa says: (6:03:40 AM)
I just can't.
Mischa says: (6:03:44 AM)
I don't think so. says: (6:03:50 AM)
Because if so, we should sharpen up the communication a bit.
Mischa says: (6:03:52 AM)
I'm at Log Base.
Mischa says: (6:03:56 AM)
Mischa says: (6:04:00 AM)
Everyone's a critic. says: (6:04:20 AM)
No, you can't leave Pites. Are you saying that if you stay behind, they'll throw you and the cat out on the streets to fend for yourselves?
Mischa says: (6:04:29 AM)
Not sure.
Mischa says: (6:04:33 AM)
The situation is very fluid. says: (6:04:49 AM)
Because you know, I don't think it sounds so good on the streets.
Mischa says: (6:04:50 AM)
But most Italians have decided to stay for the time, not go.
Mischa says: (6:05:02 AM)
It really depends on where and what and how things are going. says: (6:05:16 AM)
Can you just put Pites in a knapsack and take her with you tomorrow?
Mischa says: (6:05:27 AM)
Meow. Meow. Meow. Ad infinitum. says: (6:05:32 AM)
I mean, are they really examining the contents of the luggage that closely?
Mischa says: (6:05:41 AM)
No luggage allowed. says: (6:05:45 AM)
Well, once you're airborn, who cares? Oh, I see.
Mischa says: (6:05:53 AM)
They were totally sympathetic. says: (6:06:14 AM)
What was there recommendation for where you stay while waiting a week?
Mischa says: (6:06:15 AM)
But I can be evacuated anytime I want by the Americans.
Mischa says: (6:06:21 AM)
I just go to the airport. says: (6:06:29 AM)
And what's their cat policy?
Mischa says: (6:06:35 AM)
And the Italians will evacuate me also, on the next flight. says: (6:06:36 AM)
Is going to the airport easy?
Mischa says: (6:06:48 AM)
Claire? says: (6:06:56 AM)
That's me.
Mischa says: (6:06:58 AM)
Getting to the airport is easy enough.
Mischa says: (6:07:33 AM)
Getting around is not difficult. says: (6:08:00 AM)
Mischa says: (6:08:11 AM)
No buts.
Mischa says: (6:08:15 AM)
I'm just cluing you in. says: (6:08:26 AM)
I feel there's a question here I'm supposed to answer, though.
Mischa says: (6:08:35 AM)
Not really.
Mischa says: (6:08:42 AM)
I just feel bad if I stay and bad if I go.
Mischa says: (6:08:55 AM)
I feel totally lousy about everything. says: (6:09:17 AM)
Well, it's kind of a bad-feeling situation, what with everyone dead, screaming, dying, maimed, starving, and hopeless. says: (6:09:39 AM)
I think it would be quite abnormal to be feeling terrific.
Mischa says: (6:09:45 AM)
Yes. says: (6:10:25 AM)
You can't leave Pites.
Mischa says: (6:10:32 AM)
If they relent at the airport and they let me take Pites, I'll leave tomorrow.
Mischa says: (6:10:36 AM)
If not, I'm staying here.
Mischa says: (6:11:02 AM)
I can't leave here.
Mischa says: (6:11:05 AM)
They'll eat her. says: (6:11:11 AM)
I agree.
Mischa says: (6:11:33 AM)
I guess I never need to finish that novel now.
Mischa says: (6:11:36 AM)
That's a good thing. says: (6:11:48 AM)
And if you have to stay, I don't see how they could tell you -- oh, of course not, you're made, now --
Mischa says: (6:12:16 AM)
It's kind of like when twenty years ago God sent that huge earthquake in SF to get me out of my 11th grade biology exam. says: (6:12:20 AM)
I don't see how they could tell the husband of a UN employee who is there only as her husband that he's on the street.
Mischa says: (6:12:28 AM)
Yes, they can.
Mischa says: (6:12:32 AM)
They offered to evacuate me.
Mischa says: (6:12:40 AM)
There is no housing here.
Mischa says: (6:12:49 AM)
Also, I don't want to be here.
Mischa says: (6:12:53 AM)
Logbase is awful.
Mischa says: (6:13:19 AM)
If Cristina were dead or missing, of course, I really could just hang around indefinitely. says: (6:13:48 AM)
Well, if they turf you out of logbase with your cat, what would you do? says: (6:14:00 AM)
I mean, it doesn't sound like you could just check into a comfy hotel.
Mischa says: (6:14:00 AM)
Claire, I'm definitely going home.
Mischa says: (6:14:09 AM)
My house is totally fine.
Mischa says: (6:14:17 AM)
I gave the keys to my Haitian neighbors.
Mischa says: (6:14:24 AM)
We'll all live there for a week. says: (6:14:45 AM)
You got any kind of security there? says: (6:14:51 AM)
Mischa says: (6:15:29 AM)
Plenty of water, good security.
Mischa says: (6:15:54 AM)
But friends with better places still have offered me accomodations. says: (6:16:00 AM)
Who's providing the security? Don't you imagine lots of people are going to want that water?
Mischa says: (6:16:45 AM)
Of course that's true.
Mischa says: (6:16:54 AM)
But for the time being, things remain calm.
Mischa says: (6:17:03 AM)
But I can't just abandon Pites. says: (6:17:20 AM)
What is the US policy on taking her?
Mischa says: (6:17:36 AM)
Negative. says: (6:17:43 AM)
Mischa says: (6:18:04 AM)
Beats me. says: (6:18:33 AM)
Probably to avoid the PR problem of people saying, "Look, they rescue their pets but not us."
Mischa says: (6:18:48 AM)
I guess. says: (6:19:31 AM)
I would think given the general chaos that you might have a reasonable chance of talking your way onto the flight with the cat. says: (6:19:43 AM)
Do you know who the captain is?
Mischa says: (6:19:48 AM)
Anne thinks you're amazing, by the way. says: (6:19:54 AM)
Anne does? says: (6:20:01 AM)
On what basis? says: (6:20:21 AM)
Never mind. Let's focus on Pites, since you might get cut off.
Mischa says: (6:20:47 AM)
I won't get cut off/ says: (6:20:49 AM)
If I knew who was making the pet policy, maybe I could get a waiver for you. says: (6:21:03 AM)
That directive comes from somewhere, after all.
Mischa says: (6:21:07 AM)
Claire, it's not a pet policy. THe plane is simply not large enough.
Mischa says: (6:21:20 AM)
They were fervidly pro-Pites. says: (6:21:32 AM)
Well look, you plus Pites equals one slightly chubby person. says: (6:21:44 AM)
Or even one normal-weight person, since you're quite slender.
Mischa says: (6:21:52 AM)
Uh huh. says: (6:22:29 AM)
Is this a military plane or a commercial one? says: (6:23:30 AM)
By the way, how is Bruno holding up? says: (6:23:38 AM)
Rossella was quite worried.
Mischa says: (6:23:40 AM)
All things considering, he's holding up well.
Mischa says: (6:23:45 AM)
Very well.
Mischa says: (6:23:50 AM)
But it's good that he leaves tomorrow.
But the article they wrote about Cristina is a pure fiction.
Mischa says: (6:24:30 AM)
Every detail is wrong. says: (6:24:36 AM)
and as if you all nearly perished at the hands of a demented machete-wielding zombie army in your home.
Mischa says: (6:24:36 AM)
And every quotation invented. says: (6:24:42 AM)
I reckoned so. says: (6:25:13 AM)
I figure the Turkish and the Italian press: same-same. says: (6:25:53 AM)
OK, back to Pites: If you can't get her on the plane, you wait until you can, and you go to the safest place you can find in the interim, is that right?
Mischa says: (6:26:14 AM)
Or if I can things squared away, I get a UN badge and start work. says: (6:26:21 AM)
What work would you do?
Mischa says: (6:26:22 AM)
But yes, that's the plan. says: (6:26:27 AM)
And do you want me to come?
Mischa says: (6:26:32 AM)
They wanted me to write reports. says: (6:26:33 AM)
I mean, I was planning to, anyway.
Mischa says: (6:26:40 AM)
No, what would you do here?
Mischa says: (6:26:46 AM)
How would you get here? says: (6:26:48 AM)
Well, whatever might help.
Mischa says: (6:26:57 AM)
Also, my pal Ben Lowy is showing up in a few days to take photos. says: (6:26:58 AM)
There are some volunteer groups going out;
Mischa says: (6:27:03 AM)
Really? says: (6:27:04 AM)
I have a plane ticket already. says: (6:27:06 AM)
Mischa says: (6:27:18 AM)
Are there commercial flights in and out? says: (6:27:23 AM)
Mischa says: (6:27:47 AM)
I kind of doubt it. says: (6:27:58 AM)
Darnley Merzier Bryan Looking for Fluent English & Creole Speakers to go to Haiti THIS SUNDAY fOR 30 Days. TRAINING IS ALL DAY TOMORROW WITH THE RED CROSS- Email your info to: ASAP and will receive a phone call.( SERIOUS AND DEDICATED ONLY- THIS IS ALL VOLUNTEER) says: (6:28:08 AM)
I wrote, they said they'd contact me.
Mischa says: (6:28:17 AM)
You don't speak Creole.
Mischa says: (6:28:33 AM)
I'm sure I could find work outside the UN system.
Mischa says: (6:28:53 AM)
Oy says: (6:28:53 AM)
No, but I speak French.
Mischa says: (6:29:06 AM)
Wouldn't help. says: (6:29:19 AM)
Well, whatever. If they want me, should I come?
Mischa says: (6:29:24 AM)
Mischa says: (6:29:27 AM)
It fucking sucks here. says: (6:29:31 AM)
I know. says: (6:29:36 AM)
But maybe I could help. says: (6:29:55 AM)
OK. says: (6:30:03 AM)
Well, get out fast, then.
Mischa says: (6:30:15 AM)
I want to.
Mischa says: (6:30:20 AM)
But I have to save Pites.
Mischa says: (6:30:24 AM)
She's family. says: (6:30:39 AM)
Is there no one you would trust to bring her on a later plane?
Mischa says: (6:30:43 AM)
Mischa says: (6:30:59 AM)
You can't ask anyone to do that, you know?
Mischa says: (6:31:09 AM)
It's a big responsibility. says: (6:31:54 AM)
OK. What is the flight number of the plane you'd be taking tomorrow?
Mischa says: (6:31:56 AM)
There you go.
Mischa says: (6:32:11 AM)
It's a private flight organized by the Italian government.
Mischa says: (6:32:16 AM)
There is no flight number. says: (6:32:20 AM)
Flight commander?
Mischa says: (6:33:02 AM)
What the hell do I know? says: (6:33:30 AM)
Get me info about this -- do not doubt my magical powers here at HQS! -- says: (6:34:03 AM)
I may know someone who would know someone who could encourage them to think of Pites in the right way.
Mischa says: (6:34:22 AM)
Not with the Italian government.
Mischa says: (6:34:23 AM)
Trust me.
Mischa says: (6:34:31 AM)
They were totally PRO Pites.
Mischa says: (6:34:36 AM)
They insisted she be evacuated.
Mischa says: (6:34:41 AM)
Just on the next flight. says: (6:34:49 AM)
Ah, you said that about them not really, really wanting the licence plate. They really, really wanted it.
Mischa says: (6:35:05 AM)
Incidentally, almost the entire Italian community is NOT leaving.
Mischa says: (6:35:14 AM)
That's why the plane is so small, because almost every wants to stay.
Mischa says: (6:35:33 AM)
I don't doubt they wanted the license plate.
Mischa says: (6:35:41 AM)
I just doubted they could do anything useful with it.
Mischa says: (6:35:56 AM)
My good friend Pooja wrote this: says: (6:36:02 AM)
Well, I am very willing to use my extensive network of networked people to see if I can make them an offer they can't refuse, where Pites is concerned.
Mischa says: (6:36:24 AM)
Mischa says: (6:36:40 AM)
You will have no pull with the wops on this one.
Mischa says: (6:36:45 AM)
And it will not be appreciated. says: (6:37:04 AM)
"Pull" isn't the right way to think of it.
Mischa says: (6:38:07 AM)
Please, I have enough trouble with my meddlesome father in law. says: (6:38:56 AM)
At your service. I am just offering, should you wish to accept.
Mischa says: (6:39:56 AM)
One step at a time.
Mischa says: (6:40:02 AM)
I'm going to bed. says: (6:40:18 AM)
OK, but if you want me to work on that, give me advance notice. says: (6:40:29 AM)
Any other message you want me to pass on?
Mischa says: (6:40:38 AM)
Hey! How's our mom doing? says: (6:40:41 AM)
ANyone else alive?
Mischa says: (6:40:46 AM)
She hasn't called, hasn't emailed. says: (6:40:51 AM)
She's fine.
Mischa says: (6:41:06 AM)
And you'd think she'd make an effort to stay on IM, but she hasn't. says: (6:41:07 AM)
She's basically not the one you want with you in a foxhole.
Mischa says: (6:44:49 AM)
I've got to go now.
Mischa says: (6:44:51 AM)
I'm too sleepy.
Mischa says: (6:45:00 AM)
I'll keep you informed. says: (6:45:01 AM)
OQuiclly: Anyone else alive?
Mischa says: (6:45:19 AM)
I'm at Logbase. I know less than you.
Mischa says: (6:45:40 AM)
All I know is what I see on the internet. says: (6:45:40 AM)
How long would you guess it would be before cell coverage is restored>
Mischa says: (6:46:04 AM)
Funny thing is, people say it IS restored, at least on the Voila and Haitel networks.
Mischa says: (6:46:15 AM)
So I'd say Digicell -- my network -- should be back very soon.
Mischa says: (6:46:28 AM)
Digicell is the best network typically. says: (6:46:30 AM)
OK, I'll let people know.
Mischa says: (6:46:57 AM)
I'll be in touch tomorrow.
Mischa says: (6:46:59 AM)
Bye! says: (6:47:06 AM)
OK, Bye! says: (6:47:18 AM)
Oh, Grandma wants to know if you've got enough to eat.

Friday, January 15, 2010

To people looking for missing relatives in Haiti

I'm getting a heartbreaking number of hits from people looking for their brothers in Haiti. My brother, who is in Haiti, emphasized when I spoke to him that it does not mean someone is injured or dead if you can't reach them. But it is extremely difficult for people to make contact. Try Skype if you can: He was able to get through to me that way when nothing else worked. Remember that without electricity, people can't charge their cellphones (or computers).

I know exactly how it feels to not know if your brother is okay. I can't begin to say how much I hope you find your brother alive and well.

I'm sorry I couldn't help more.

Latest from Mischa and Cristina says: (9:41:23 PM)
Hey! Tell Anne her boyfriend is en route to Atlanta right now. says: (9:41:33 PM)
ok says: (9:41:36 PM)
I will thanks says: (9:41:43 PM)
Anything else you need?
Hey, your sister wants to be sure that you'll be on the plane -- do you have more info? says: (9:43:26 PM)
I talked to her 30 minutes ago says: (9:43:30 PM)
okay says: (9:43:34 PM)
we will be on the plane says: (9:43:53 PM)
Mischa has this journalistic urge to stay says: (9:44:09 PM)
cannot stand CNN says: (9:45:23 PM)
Claire, it's me. says: (9:45:29 PM)
Hello! says: (9:45:45 PM)
How are things at home? says: (9:45:49 PM)
I'm worried about Grandma says: (9:45:57 PM)
Great! Not often we get the whole family together. says: (9:46:01 PM)
She's okay. says: (9:46:18 PM)
There's nothing wrong with her, actually, besides being a total pain in the ass. says: (9:46:38 PM)
I've got a cellphone you should have: says: (9:46:52 PM)
240/507-6100. says: (9:47:10 PM)
Don't worry about Grandma. She'll be fine. says: (9:47:17 PM)
So will everyone else. says: (9:47:24 PM)
Send me an email with the number please says: (9:47:30 PM)
I want to try and stay. says: (9:47:36 PM)
It's breaking my heart the idea of leaving, says: (9:48:12 PM)
Well, can you stay? says: (9:48:17 PM)
I think so. says: (9:48:26 PM)
Stay then. I'll come and join you. says: (9:48:31 PM)
I don't think you can though. says: (9:48:32 PM)
If I can be of help. says: (9:48:37 PM)
I know. says: (9:48:44 PM)
Let me see first. says: (9:50:37 PM)
By the way, REALLY WELL DONE on getting your whole family to safety. says: (9:52:23 PM)
Have to go says: (9:52:25 PM)
Bye! says: (9:52:30 PM)

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Cristina? If you only have a minute, i have lots of info for you.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: It's all on my facebook page and in central form on my blog. Is mischa back?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Go to airport if you can. no info on road conditions.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Claire?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Are you there?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: YES
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: It's your brother.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Good.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Where are you and how long do you think you have.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: I have tried to get all updated info in one place for you.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: First, although conditions are dramatic, we are FINE.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: I saw your updates.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Yes, I know.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: They are all innacurate and outdated, unfortunately.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: We are now going to logbase.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Give me accurate info so
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: I can pass it on to other people.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: It's not important.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Trust me.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: It is to a lot of people
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: The important info is thi:
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Yep:
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: We want to go to logbase; if at logbase the can evacuate us,
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: we'll be evacuated.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: If not, we'll go to the American embassy.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: My choice however is to drive to the DR.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: The road is open and undamaged.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: OK.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: In any case, my big worry is evacuating Pites.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Which road would you try to take, and what car would you be driving?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Yes, I'm working on that.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: There is oly one road.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Our car.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Licence number?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: It doesn't matter.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Trust me.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: YES IT DOES.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: I don't know.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: I am not just improvising, I swear.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: I know.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: It's just that unless you're here, it's hard to understand how absolutely useless that information would prove.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Hey! How are you?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: How are you on Internet now?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: How are your cats doing without you?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Scrabble?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Obviously I'm on the internet now.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: OI 01529
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: That's the license.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Fine, fine, not often we get Grandma to stop thinking about the quality -- HOW are you -- of her hospital care.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: OK, good.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: How ar eyou going to try to go to Logbase?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: I understand there's not much gas to be found.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Could youput our plan on facebook.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: How is Grandma?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: She would not like it her now at all.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: here, I mean.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Are you still there?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Of course I am.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: No, all the gas stations are open.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Yes, I will.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Are they?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Except the ones that exploded.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Yes.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: I walked fifteen miles this morning to find Rose.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: OK, haiti task force says do NOT drive at night.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: They had very long lines, though,
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: and I don't know how long the gas will lat.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Is Bruno okay?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Well, that's swell advice.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Who the hell drives in PAP at night ever?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Mischa, I have not been real happy with the quality of advice from State and UNhqs.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Claire, there is NO UNHQ in PAP.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: It's gone.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Absolutely gone.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: In New York, it's still there.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: An eight story building with all of Critina's colleagues inside.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: I am well aware there are no hqs in PaP.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Remember, we saw those photos BEFORE we heard you were alive.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: There was a very tetchy several-hour interval in between.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Sorry about that.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: But we were trying as best we could.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: It was a miracle we got in touch at all.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: No worries. Glad you're okay. I know.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Are you speaking to me from a computer w. internet access or an iPhone?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Computer.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Where are you?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: But I only have Skype, for some reason.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Nothing else works.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: At home.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: On the couch.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Our internet is back.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: In the house? Aren't you worried about aftershocks?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: They're saying outdoors is safer.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Our house suffered a 7.3 quake without a scratch.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: NOTHING.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: The architect came and inspected it.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: He said it's fine.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Doesn't mean it doesn't have major damage and won't fall in an aftershock.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: No, I'm not very worried.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: OK.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: In any case, Claire, walking down the road is fucking dangerous.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: If there is a quake.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Yes, thanks for reminding us.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Walls tumble, buildings fall.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: We had no idea earthquakes could be dangerous.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: This house is very safe.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: It had never even occurred to me that you could be at risk.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Hey! I'm the one under severe stress.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: You shouldn't be snitty.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: This could be our last IM, you know.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: THen you'd feel awful.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: No, you're the one who is 4,000 miles from Grandma.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: With 8 million hysterical Haitians.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: And a fucking freaked cat.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Leo is doing great, though.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: I'm really proud of hm.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Tell me honestly: Would you change places and be the one trying to assure Grandma, who is watching the earthquake on television, that you're JUST FINE?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: I duno.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: That's a toughie.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: If it weren't for Leo, frankly, I'd stay.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: OK. Given that communication could go out again any second, give me any more information that could possibly be of use if we do not hear from you again.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: I'd get on the next plane there if I could. So there's your answer.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: This is Jean-Alain's number:
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: 33 1 4322 95 36
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: He is our neighbor here.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: That's his mother's number.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Call her and tell her he's FINE.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: The kids are in the DR with Pascal.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: He's staying here for now.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: We are calling right now.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: What is her name?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Marthe Godet
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Who else is safe: I want to give people good news. They are so desperate.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: No, but that doesn't mean others are dead.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: It just means we don't have many contact.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: I know.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Look, can we agree on what I should do if you do NOT show up at the logs base: Where should I tell people to look for you.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Please don't dismiss these questions as kind of annoyingly anxious, because really, you've got to believe me, if you are in trouble, I am YOUR ONLY HOPE.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Tell them we went to the American embassy.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: If not then we went to the DR.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: And keep trying to call us, because we can't call you.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: C|,
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: OK. Do you have any other cellphones or numbers with you.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: No.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: You have them.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: What time do you plan to leave, and once you arrive, would you try to get word somehow?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: This is IMPORTANT
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: CALL ROSE's SISTER
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Number?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: 00 33 47 426 0692
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Not to worry, Mischa, I do kind of understand that this is important.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Deedeen
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: That's her name
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: She's in Marseilles.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Message is Rose is safe. Anything else?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Everyone is fine.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Everyone is fine.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: And kids.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: And house.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: And husband.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: OK.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: You'd think our Pop, owing to the gravity of this situation, would put on his reading glasses and learn to operate his celllphone.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: But no!
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Jeez.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Like I said, Mischa, I'd swap with you in a heartbeat.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: If it weren't for Leo, I'd stay.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: It is without a doubt the worst feeling of my life,
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: leaving right now.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: The internet has only Skype.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: What have you learned?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: What's happening here?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Well, you know, it's probably not quite as bad as when we saw the photos of the MINUSTAH building.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: OK: What we know is estimates of maybe 500,000 dead.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Hotel Montana crushed, as you know.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Claire, do not try to minize the relative horrors of our experience!
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: I understand how trying our parents and grandparents can be.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: You did know you were alive.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: But I had to take a cold shower yesterday.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: And many people here have not even had that luxury.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Can you imagine the smell?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Anyone else safe? It makes our Pop very happy to make these calls.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Has he made them_
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: ?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Yes.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: And?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Messages?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: They are so fucking happy.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: No, just hysterical blubbering and thanks to God.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Anyone else alive?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: The UN peacekeepers cried with joy when I told them you were alive.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: It was the first such call they'd gotten.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: You still there?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Evely Etienne Severe in North Caroline.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Phone?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: If you can find her, Julie is fine.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: God only knows.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: OK!
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: What city.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: We'll betouch soon.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Who the hell knows?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Are you leaving now?
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Yes.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: I just came from this route.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: It's quite calm.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: OK. How long do you think it may take to get to log base. I will try to call you to confirm you got there.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: And so did Jean-Alain.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Claire, I know you're stressed.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: I'm not the only one --
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: But it adds to OUR stress the necessity of staying in strict contact.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: Look, I know,
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: It makes us ignore real necessities,
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: like feeding Leo,
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: or getting fresh water,
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: or food.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: We'll be in touch as soon as we can be.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: don't do that, but be aware that if you're in trouble, and really, you COULD get in trouble,
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: But feel free to keep calling our cells.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: I am not unaware of our situation.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Please also let Cristina's family know what's happening, OK?
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: it isn't likely anyone will know or care or try to send help to the right place unless I get them to the right place.
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: So don't STRESS about staying in contact,
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: but let's TRY to work out a reasonable plan, according to the very limited information we have.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri:
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: That's the email of the woman in north carolina.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: I need to go.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Cristina wants to contact her family.
[01/14/10] Cristina Iampieri: Bye!
[01/14/10] Claire Berlinski: I am pretty aware of what's happening over there, I think, and I know that no one is apt to help if you're in trouble unless I am really -- okay. Good luck, and I'll call before nightfall.


I'm asking all my friends to try to call my brother in Haiti, over and over, because SOMETIMES calls get through. His number is 011 +509-654-7140 and he needs the following information:

1) Go back to your family. Rose is with them and OK.

2) The State Department and UNHQS know exactly where you are, but do not have detailed evacuation plans yet. They know you cannot call them. State advises getting to US embassy if you can, UNHQS says go to Logs. base if you can. I am trying to find info for you on roads from your house to Embassy, Logs. base and DR: US and UN had none, but people are updating on Twitter and I'm trying to contact them.

3) If you can only check one place on Internet, check my Facebook page. If you can only make one call in Haiti, call Logs base. If you can only make one call overseas, call me at 202 338 2490. I have all info in one place and you won't get through to State.

4) An Italian evacuation plane is leaving from the airport tomorrow morning, if you can get to it. You can all go. If you can make calls, call:

1° Colonnello Dormino base ONU tel number:


mail address:

2°Claudio Colantoni





5) My best guess right now from Twitter is that the roads to DR are destroyed and impassable, but there are some reports of people getting there. State Dept is pretty sure this is NOT a good option. We're guessing that unless you are in immediate danger you should stay put and wait for safe transport to take you to embassy, Logs. base or airport. We are not sure whether transport will come to you soon, but are working as hard as humanly possible to get it there. Also, I doubt you'll get gas; on Twitter reports of mobs at gas stations.

6) If you leave where you are now, try to give as many people as you can (me especially) info about where you're going, the route you plan to take and where to look for you if you don't show up where you're expected.

7) I am trying to arrange rescue for Pites as well. Take her if you can but if you can't don't stay behind with her. We will get a rescue group to help her.

Also please try to reach Cristina with the same information: 509-605-5841.

Reassure them that lots of reports on Twitter of improving cell phone contact, so they should keep trying to reach Logs base.

If you reach them and have any news from them please post it here for quick dissemination to family and friends. I think we're mostly here on FB now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


This may be helpful to someone.

I have not been able to get through to the State Department's Haiti Information Number. (1-888-407-4747.) Nor was I able to get through to any of these numbers at the US Embassy’s Consular Task Force in Port-au-Prince: 509-2229-8942, 509-2229-8089, 509-2229-8322 or 509-2229-8672. You may be able to if you keep trying.

I was, however, able to reach Karen Rodriguez, the State Department's Haiti desk officer. (1-202-647-4728.) US citizens who are trying to find their relatives in Haiti, she said, and who can't get through on those numbers, should send relevant information to and She said not to send photos of your relatives, but to send your contact information and let them know that you can send photos if needed.

I reached my brother in PaP by calling over and over and over again. Keep trying. Lines can open up. Apparently they can also get scrambled, so don't be excessively alarmed if you call and someone who isn't your relative answers.

Don't call any of these numbers, or Haiti, for any reason other than to try to verify that your relatives are alive and give rescuers information about their location. Don't jam up the phone lines more than they already are.


Thank you to everyone who wrote and called. We received an e-mail from Mischa last night:

We are all fine. Communications are very limited. We'll be in touch as soon as we can. Everybody in the family is fine. Please contact Rosella and let her know.

That's all we know. We very much appreciate the phone calls and your concern, but we'd like to keep the phone line free in case they try to call, so for now please use e-mail.

Here is a Facebook group for people who are trying to figure out ways to help. I am going to try to find more information today about how people can help most effectively. If I hear from my brother again, I will also ask if he has any information about other people there, MINUSTAH employees in particular, and try to pass it on to their families. If you'd like me to ask about someone you're looking for, send me their names.

I'm sorry, I have no more information right now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The Beta Academy is officially highly endorsed by "Learning to Fight." I've noted before that being endorsed by Claire Berlinski isn't exactly like being endorsed by Ramon Dekkers, but I guess I do know enough about Muay Thai to be able to recognize a place that's serious about it.

This is Nakapan, the head instructor.

Here are some photos of the students and instructors. Notice the obvious?

It had been a while since I'd been back, and I'd begun to wonder if I was just imagining what America was like. No, it's really just this way.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Recommendations? I'm in Georgetown, and I don't have access to a car -- or rather, I do, but my driver's license seems to have expired three years ago, and I recall that in America they take these things pretty seriously.

Has anyone tried the Beta Academy in Columbia Heights? Their website looks encouraging.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Petuk and Allie are on their way to a new home in Germany. My readers, sadly, can take no pride in this; none of you volunteered to adopt them.

I'm on my way to Washington DC, on Sunday. If you're in Washington and would like to redeem yourself by volunteering to adopt another splendid animal from Istanbul, I'll personally bring you your new pet. Have a look here.

Bruce Willis, in particular, would be more than happy to sit around with you all evening and watch MMA videos on the Internet. He'd be a very appropriate companion for a martial-arts enthusiast.

We wouldn't have much time to arrange this, so get in touch right away with Viktor Larkhill if you'd like an adorable hand-delivered martial-arts companion from Istanbul.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The verdict may still be out on the whole "Which martial art is the best" debate, but the score for "Muay Thai v. Russian Mafia Contract Killing" is pretty clear.

Dagestani world champion in Thai boxing shot dead in Russia
A former world champion in Thai boxing was shot dead in Moscow, officials said Friday.
Friday, 25 December 2009 14:30
A former world champion in Thai boxing was shot dead in Moscow, officials said Friday.

The corpse of Muslim Abdullayev, 27, was found late Thursday with multiple gunshot wounds to the head at a stadium in the north of Moscow, the investigative committee of prosecutors said in a statement.

"It seems that this murder was most likely a contract killing," a security source told the Interfax news agency.

"At the moment the connections of the victim are being examined and in particular if he had any conflicts at the current time," the official added.

Interfax said that Abdullayev in 2004 won both the European and World Championships in Thai boxing, otherwise known as Muay Thai — a sport that enjoys great popularity in Caucasus region. Abdullayev was from Dagestan.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Back when I used to run, I slavishly followed a marathon preparation program that I'd found on the Internet written by a guy named Hal Higdon.

The thing I liked about Hal was that I really trusted him. If he said it was a rest day, I believed him. If he said I had to drag my ass out into the arctic winds and haul it around the park for seventeen miles, well, that was what I had to do, whether or not I felt like it.

I really felt that Hal wanted me to succeed and knew how to make me a better runner. Hal had given a lot of thought to things, and he'd tested his theories. Hal's program was foolproof. It took all the guesswork out of it.

Hal seemed like such a nice guy, too.

Best still, all I needed was Hal. After that, it was all up to me. I didn't need anyone else's help.

My brother and his wife, knowing of my devotion to Hal, showed up to cheer me on at the Paris marathon with a sign that said, "HAL HIGDON IS PROUD."

I wrote to Hal after that race to tell him that his program had worked and to thank him. He sent me a really sweet note back. He really was proud.

I miss Hal.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Claire says: The more anxious I get about the amount of writing I have to do, the less able I seem to be to concentrate on it.

Mischa says: Yes, I certainly know that feeling.

Mischa says: Try doing it with a ten month old baby.

Claire says: I’ve spent the whole fucking day trying to choke out a piece about Istanbul's Capital of Culture festivities. In principle, I should be able to dictate this while sitting on the can.

Mischa says: Boy, do I know how that goes.

Claire says: Man, I wish I could play that "I have a baby" card without actually having one.

Mischa says: It's not a card. It's a genuine impediment to creative work.

Claire says: So is having a sore pinky. It's been impeding me all day.

Mischa says: I wish I hadn't lost all my Creatons for good.

Mischa says: Because they were so essential to my line of work.

Claire says: It wouldn't matter even if you hadn't, because our profession is dead.

Mischa says: Also, any desire to work.

Mischa says: I lost that too.

Mischa says: I don't think that's true.

Mischa says: Sooner or later, somebody will take what I've written and turn it into a webcam miniseries or something.

Mischa says: But I need to write it first.

Claire says: I hate writing and live only for the martial arts, a field of endeavor for which I am singularly unsuited.

Mischa says: I just read the new biography of Raymond Carver.

Claire says: Being, as I am, nearly 42, clumsy, and a complete neophyte.

Mischa says: Lots of people have begun new careers at 42 and achieved greatness.

Mischa says: Look at Ronald Reagan.

Claire says: Not in the martial arts. Not one.

Mischa says: No, perhaps not in the martial arts.

Claire says: By the way, are you familiar with Anderson Silva?

Mischa says: No.

Claire says: If your Internet connection's fast enough, you should really watch some of his videos. He's just one of the greatest athletes I've ever seen.

Mischa says: He got clobbered in his first boxing match.

Claire says: Well, he didn't get clobbered many times after that.

Mischa says: Looks like a pussy to me.

Claire says: That, I would not say.

Mischa says: Man couldn't get past round three of a spelling bee.

Claire says: No, probably not. Especially because he speaks no English.

Mischa says: No excuse, not speaking English. Proper spelling matters.

Mischa says: I also bet you could totally whomp his ass in Scrabble.

Claire says: He would nonetheless get a much bigger book advance, if he wrote a book.

Mischa says: Who the hell wants to buy Anderson Silva's book?

Mischa says: I hate books by athletes.

Claire says: I don't think I've ever read one.

Mischa says: There you go.

Mischa says: It's not a hot brand.

Mischa says: On the other hand, as I was saying, I read the new biography of Raymond Carver.

Claire says: Yes, I was wondering how that thought continued.

Mischa says: Now there was one guy who really, really, really wanted to be a writer.


The fact that I find this a revelation should give you a clue about my real level of inexperience. I assume that to anyone who knows anything about martial arts, my breathless announcement that "I've just discovered this guy called Anderson Silva and he is almost supernatural" would be on the order of saying, "I've just heard about this thing called the Internet and I reckon it has real commercial potential." But seriously, before today, I'd never heard of the guy.

I wonder why no one told me before? He has to be one of the most magnificently graceful and gifted athletes I've ever seen.

Oh, I see I'm not the only one to think of comparing him to Michael Jordan.

Well, better late than never.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I discovered an interesting martial-arts blog tonight. You might like it if you're keen on this sort of thing.

I'm not endorsing his advice -- not that my endorsement would be worth anything. If I were you, I would not seek endorsements in this field from a 41-year-old journalist who has been studying the martial arts for less than two years.

That said, I do think I can back up my claim that you really want to avoid hyperextending your elbow while punching a bag.

I can also say with authority -- I will really stand by this -- that if you're used to hitting things while wearing heavy gloves, you need to be really careful to remember that if you're not wearing them, punching something hard can hurt your hand quite unpleasantly. After today's further misadventures, I can be confident I'm not steering you wrong with that counsel.

(I see no need to illustrate the consequences of failing to heed me on that with a photo; I'm sure your imagination will suffice. Just c.f. earlier training error photos and imagine the same phenomenon, but involving fingers.)

I guess I'd actually be a reasonable authority to consult if you're interested in learning about any kind of dumb training mishap that would probably only happen to you if you were quite clumsy, like ripping off the skin of your wrist on the flapping velcro strap of a grappling glove, which also happened to me today.

But if you want the kind of martial-arts advice you'd get from someone who has actually spent a lot of time subduing extremely violent prison inmates, and apparently has had many experiences along the lines of "looking into an empty fresh skull and the smell of brains," you might try Rory Miller.

He sounds quite a bit more qualified than me.


Lesson 1: Some kicks should not be blocked with the forearm.

Exhibit A:

I suppose my forearm was a better place for this bruise than, say, my ribs. I'm not sure there would have been a better body part to have used.

Still, something obviously went pear-shaped with that defensive maneuver.

Lesson 2: Do not hyperextend the elbow when punching.

One moment's inattention to form on the punching bag, and you'll wind up with a nasty New Year's boxer's-elbow hangover.

Lesson 3: (Unillustrated): Don't drop your guard, even if your opponent is only 10 years old.

There's an adorable kid at my gym who's about half my size. Just as the men there don't want to be the jerk who hit a girl, I don't exactly want to be the monster who hurt a child, so when I was paired for a few minutes with him last night, I was so preoccupied with worrying that I might accidentally hit him that I quite forgot that he could, in fact, hit me.

Ali whacked me right in the forehead and left a nice bruise, which is just what I deserve for patronizing him.

Good for him.