Category Archives: Life

All things oriented away from software.

How to find what you’re looking for – a Google adventure.

So, I have been searching for a long time to re-discover the correct location of my children’s original orphanage in Carrefour, Haiti, “Heart of God Ministries, Haiti”.

We have repeatedly found the nearby “Auberge du Quebec” Hotel, which is where we stayed on several trips to Haiti to see our future adoptees and “check things out”.

What my wife and I had lost since those stressful times (adoption is almost always a nerve-wracking experience), was a memory of the exact location (and eventually, even the name!) of that orphanage.

So, here are the steps I took to re-discover this point in time and space.

A Viscinity

A map of the “general area” was my starting point.  This was easy at first, “Carrefour, Haiti” gains a direct hit, and immediate link to the “geographic center” on Google Maps.  Unfortunately, the default view is about 5 square miles of land, and I simply could not find the Auberge du Quebec on that space.  I knew it was “near”, though.

So I searched for several variations of “auberge du quebec map”, without successful links.  Then it hit me (early in the morning, after a fitful night), search “auberge du quebec carrefour lat long”.  Bingo.  A forum posting specifying the lat/long of our repeated resting quarters.  This happened to be a posting shortly after the Jan 20, 2011 earthquake.  If only I could figure out how to publicly post that location with a name…


A Name

Now I needed a name to find the orphanage.  What was it now?  “Something du something”.  Bah.  I seem to recall the name had something to do with the owner’s name “Heart of God”.  Google Translate to the rescue, pick “Haitian Creole” as the target translation (I am personally amazed that Translate can do Haitian Creole)… and “ke bondye”.  Ahh… yes, starting to come back to me now.

So next I Google “kè bondye, carrefour, haiti”.  First hit : Orphanages recognized by the IBESR.  Bingo again!  Even though this is a pay-for-paper service, reference-looks are free, which is all I needed.  So now I have the “actual” address of “Krèch Kè BondyeHAITI”.

A Place

Now to find it?   Google Maps has painfully unmarked maps for Haiti in general.  So, Google Web again, and again this was a hunting expedition.  I eventually started reading the whole result list for “carrefour, haiti map”.  Last on the first page was a linke for MapQuest.  Oh, my “old’ favorite, circa 1998, until this newfangled web company named “Google” came around with a tightly integrated mapping system that actually seemed to “just know” what I was searching for.

Well, MapQuest has been doing their homework!  Carrefour, Haiti is a completely mapped region, ALL street names marked.  And lo, right next to Auberge du Quebec on the MapQuest streets are the first of several “Mahoutiere”.  A quick visual search revealed the block-corner that once contained our children’s orphanage.

A final destination

Although my wife and I cannot clearly identify “which” building on that grainy sattelite view was the actual orphanage, we know a location.

And thanks to the internet, the endless and thorough implementation of several public-service webistes, we now have a destination that we *could* return to one day, on a trip to Haiti.  Who knows, maybe someone on that block will excuse our poorly worded pidgin-creole, and tell us “Oh YES, Krèch Kè Bondye was *right there*.”


Being an information research practitioner has been made very easy by the likes of Google and MapQuest.  What has not been automated is the human intuition.  I cannot write in Google Search “The orphanage next to Auberge Quebec in Carrefour, Haiti” and achieve a useful result. (Nor ANY result).  This seems to be most a disconnect and deficiency in internet-intellect.  There are not enough computers (or interested parties) to have “right at hand” the information required to be indexed and presented as results to the english-language request.

As we can tell, the answer required human-language-translation, cartographic indexing (lat/long), several tangential searches, and several protected-document views.

So this may be a problem for information-processing specialists to tackle.  Until then, we need our intuition, and our information researchers to keep doing their jobs, and helping us find the revealing information about the world around us.

Heart of God Ministries (Krèch Kè Bondye-HAITI)
Mahotière 75 #5
Zone Simalo, Carrefour
Port-au-Prince, Haïti

Bell’s Palsy — the onset

I experienced the onset of Bell’s Palsy over the past two days.

I will blog this experience as time goes on. Here is the timeline of my onset, which as it happens is rather textbook.

Tue. 4/8

Metra commuter service business blocked me from my daily bike-train ride to work, so I chose to ride the bike all the way in, 14 mi. This was a cold, windy day, about 40F & 15mph N wind, for my due-N ride.

By bedtime Tue night I developed a ringing in my ear.

Wed. 4/16 11:00 pm

A “midnight snack” of strawberry icecream tasted awful. I commented to my wife that it tasted awful, like there was lard in it or something. This from the same tub of icecream I’ve been dipping tastes from for a week or more.

Thu. 4/17 5:00 am

Can’t easily clear the “blearyness” from my right eye. Didn’t think much of it, just was annoying.

Thu. 4/17 8:00 am

Begin drive to work. In the next 25 minutes, progression of paralysis began with both lips on right side, then moved to cheek, then inability to blink properly.   This was fast and scary.  Directly detoured to the local ER, who promptly diagnosed Bell’s Palsy.  Follow up appt w/ ENT for Tues.

Thu. 4/17 9:00 pm

Paula (dear wife) noted that my right-side paralysis was more pronounced than mid-morning.

Fri. 4/18 5:00 am

I’ve slept about 2 hours last night.  Standard-issue pirate-style eye patch is colossally uncomfortable.  I’m depending upon my brain getting used to this, as it did actually do it’s job and keep my eye from drying out.

Fri. 4/18 10:00 am

ENT  gives me a  surprise  follow-up call and asks to see me  “today”,  that he’ll  arrange his schedule for any time I can arrive.  WOW!   Turns out  he wants to document presence/absence of shingles-lesions in my ear or mouth (found none).  So, with no shingles, the already prescribed steroidal-anti-inflammatory and anti-viral are “all we can do for now”.

In the mean time, I’ve found that citrus still tastes good (I think I can taste bitter on the right), and for some reason… chocolate.   Many things still trip-out my tounge and  I end up tasting “paint”, or that metallic-I’m-so-scared taste.

More as time goes on.

New world, new information

Well, after a 20 year separation from teh Cult of Mac, I have finally returned. It is nice to see the tight tight integration of EVERYTHING on the Mac.

While all things round and sweet are looking chipper, my former web hosting is dead and gone. I recovered a few posts, all others are basically lost forever. (Well, at least until I can manually rebuild the posts from MySql backup).

Happy New Year anyway!

Totmato Sauce, Software, Human Variability

Malcolm Gladwell at TED 2004 describes the research of Howard Moscowitz for Campbell’s Soup / Prego.

The lessons learned from Howard beautifully correllate with Kathy Sierra’s Quantum Mechanics of Users

The Nutshell

If users are asked for their preference, they will likely tell you something very common and rather vanilla. When given the experience of the choices, say during a taste test, the aggregated results are NOT similar, and in fact group around a handful of common choices.

Design Investigation for Software

My take on this is that during Design Investigation for software – be it website, desktop application, even for print – if at all possible, build the DEMO of the choices involved and get the trial user into the experience and THEN ask the user what is their preference.

This approach in awareness of user preference, user experience, and human variability could take the design into the “I Rock” space of the passionate user.

In Search Of …

Peter John Fitzgibbons (Gillies)

My father is John Cecil Joseph Gillies (John Cecil Gillies)

My grandparents :

Robert Cecil Gillies and Millie(Mildred?) Gillies were separated in 1940s.

Millie and Ted married in 1961. Both deceased in 1979.

My aunts :

Roberta, Virginia and Ivy are all living. Roberta is now in Windsor, NS, CA. Her husband Roger passed away serveral years ago (2000?).

I am looking for anyone who shares this ancestory. I would like to learn who you are.

I want you to know that John Gillies is terminally ill and will pass away sometime in the next 10 days.

You may email me at