Suzanne and the Chernobyl Children’s Project

Last year, my wife Suzanne caught the HBO movie Chernobyl Heart. Brief synopsis: The worst nuclear accident in nuclear history occurred April 26, 1986. Roughly 10,800 square miles are still contaminated by dangerours levels of caesium-137 radiation. The country most affected by the accident is Balarus, just north of the Chernobyl reactor in the Ukraine. Chernobyl Heart tells the tale of contining effects of radiation on the children of Belarus.

After the movie aired, the Chernobyl Children’s Project International (CCPI) received a few thousand offers to help with their mission, including one from Suzanne. Her experience with compassionate touch and its positive effects on growth and development in children was intriguing enough that she was invited to join the group on their next trip to the children’s asylum in Vesnova.

Like so many others, I remember when the Chernonbyl Accident happened back in 1986, and have not given it much thought since then — until now. I don’t recall any details from the reports of the incident as it was happening, mainly because the seriousness of the tragedy was not fully discolsed. From the Wikipedia article:

Chernobyl was a secret disaster at first. The initial evidence that a major nuclear accident had occurred came not from Soviet sources, but from Sweden, where on April 27 workers at the Forsmark nuclear power plant (approximately 1100 km from the Chernobyl site) were found to have radioactive particles on their clothes. It was Sweden’s search for the source of radioactivity, after they had determined there was no leak at the Swedish plant, that led to the first hint of a serious nuclear problem in the Western Soviet Union.

Since the seriousness of the accident was not disclosed, I’m sure the event was quickly eclipsed by some other news event in the following days or weeks, and the significance of the accident was quickly lost on most of the general world population. After the accident, it is estimated that 60% of the radioactive fallout landed to the north of Chernobyl in Belarus.

Today in Belarus, there is an increase in the rates of cancer, particularly thyroid cancer and particularly in children, as well as increased rates of Lukemia and other diseases. Although there is some debate on how much of the increased rate of disease can be attributed to radiation from the Chernobyl accident, there is no question that the known radiation effects combined with the general poverty of the area have resulted in many health problems, especially in children.

Suzanne will be traveling to the Vesnova children’s asylum in Belarus around October 15, 2005. The first leg of the journey will take her to Ireland, where she will join a group from Chernobyl Children’s Project Ireland. From there, they fly to Minsk, Belarus (see map) and complete the trip to Vesnova via bus.

Are we concerned about exposure to radiation? Sure, but the radiation risk is minimal. She will be taking all her own food and water, and as long as the exposure is kept to a short period of time (she will be there one week), there is little, if any, risk of long term radiation effects. We also cannot ignore the fact that the risks, however minimal, are far outweighed by the benefits of introducing compassionate touch to the staff and orphaned children of the asylum.

Sibling Inspiration

Sure, there may have been a bit of sibling rivalry at times. Show me two brothers that grew up without a little sibling rivalry and/or conflict, and you’re probably showing me brothers that never met as children. Unfortunately, in many cases conflict between siblings extends past childhood.

We tend to inspire each other. I’ve been planning on installing a blogging tool for quite a while — why I’m not entirely sure yet — and bro’s work in progress over at has provided the motivation necessary to check one item off the list.

Now I’m working to move a few posts I have in a custom blogging type tool I started a couple years ago. Blogging software today has all the features I wanted a couple years ago and more, so that project is officially retired. Looking through the older posts, I’m actually surprised at the amount of stuff in there.

Ramona Mainstage Theatre

Designer: Matt Luckey Illustration & Design, San Diego, CA

Project Description:
A new site design featuring current and upcoming showtimes highlights the recently remodeled Ramona Mainstage Theatre. Theatre staff uses a custom set of administration pages to maintain movie listings, showtimes, and other content.


  • PHP – used to generate html for movies and showtimes
  • Server Side Includes (SSI) – used to pull php generated html into pages created by the project designer.
  • MySQL – holds movie and showtime information.
  • Dynamically generated html pages and forms

Xact! Resources – Confidential Document Access Revision

Designer: Red Leaf Design, Minneapolis, MN

Project Description:
A company name change from Xact! Collections to Xact! Resources prompted a site redesign and some new functionality for the client Confidential Document Access functionality. While the first release has proven to fulfill clients’ needs during its first half year of use, it became apparent that some automation would streamline the administration processes and eliminate repeated tasks.

To help manage the process of keeping online documents current, the current revision features a system to track the initial view date and time of a document, which is then subsequently deleted five days later. A tracking an auditing system is built into the administration portal, keeping administrators appraised of when documents are viewed, when they are scheduled for deletion, and when a document has been removed from the system.


  • PHP – used to generate dynamic pages, validate login, deliver documents in a secure manner, and save uploaded files to the correct location
  • MySQL – holds user account information and document locations, first view and deletion tracking inforamtion.
  • Dynamically generated html pages and forms
  • SSL

Massage in Schools – 1.0 release

The founders of the Massage in Schools Programme (MISP) have a goal of integrating various and disparate branch sites under the main international site, yet still allowing flexibility for an individual branch to maintain its own separate and unique web presence. The current design reflects the beginnings of an overall presence that will allow for the display of a branch site within the international site, while keeping the main international site navigation to core information about the programme accessible.

The non-standard navigation directly reflects the founders? incredible ability to question standards that may have been around for generations. The core site content provides the foundation for the international program, and aren?t foundations usually down below everything they are supporting?

The site will evolve as the Massage in Schools Association (MISA) grows into the international community envisioned by the founders.


  • PHP – used as the framework in which all content is displayed, and to fetch data from
  • XML / XSLT – data fetched from is transformed into the appropropriate HTML by means of XSLT
  • Dynamically generated HTML pages and forms