Day43- Quarantine-Depression

The word depression puts me into a morose mood. Today, is the complete opposite of yesterday which was up, sunny, bright, warm, and happy. Today, it is raining, dark grey and depressing. It was a good day to spend time in my shop, which is what I did. I am making great progress on my latest piece of art. Soon it will be finished and the chore will be to find a space to hang it. My walls are covered with pictures. This work will most likely be a give away, since the schedule of summer art fairs are cancelled. No sense making it just to store until such a time as the world is ready to live again.

COVID-9 has done much to dampen the spirit of Americans. We are becoming restless with hiding from the virus. My attitude is becoming one of “I’d rather take my chances with the virus latching onto me than to stay in hiding any longer.” I’ve told the story many times about the polio virus which caused a national concern between nineteen sixteen through nineteen fifty-six again (History of Epidemics) Not one president issued a stay in place order. Of course none of them had bureaucracies filled with scientists the could use mathematical models to predict the probable outcomes of said epidemic. Oh the woe that science begets us.

In most of the epidemical events of our country the scourge was conquered by the development of a vaccine and or a treatment using anti-biotics. The Corona virus does not respond to antibiotics therefore we are stuck with a need for the vaccine. In the case of polio the vaccine took a very long time to develop, like forty years. I remember it all too well. I hit the jackpot in 1953 and became one of the 57000 cases. I thank God that I was not one of the 3000 deaths. I did get a benefit from the virus. i.e. anti-bodies. Luckily my paralysis was minimal although it affected my neck, chest, arms, and legs. For the longest time I could not swallow because my throat muscles were affected. Try eating an all fluid diet that gets poured through a tube that is routed through the nose into the stomach. I lived.

The big difference I see between Corona and polio is that the corona kills easier than polio did. Corona affects the lungs which in turn stop feeding needed oxygen to the vital organs which then shut down and die. Polio affected nerves which sent the signals from the brain to the a muscle. Which nerves the virus attacked depended on a lot of things, none of which I remember anymore. Some people lost control of their legs, others their arms, or neck like me, If you were really unlucky it affected your chest muscles and your ability to breath. Back then the medical miracle was called the Iron Lung and you lived in a tank which did the breathing for you. Only your head was exposed to the outside. Corona is more merciful, it kills quicker and more efficiently.

If I recall correctly, Polio hit younger people more often, while Corona strikes old people harder. Maybe I’ll get the chance to beat a second virus in my lifetime. Like I said the weather has affected my thinking and my attitude. I’ll take my chances, but play safe at the same time.

Day 42-Quarantine-Cooking

The old body clock sounded off in my brain at seven this morning, but I resisted the notion of getting up and returned to the covers. Of course I couldn’t sleep any more but I conjured up some dream scenarios. Most times they are sexual in nature. This morning, however, it took the direction of my Lions membership. I wanted my mind to roll off some ideas for how I as a Lion can provide some service to the community. All of them involve getting close to people which would violate the social distancing policy. So much for making my dreams work for me. I rolled out of bed and decided to cook instead.

In times like this (sounds rather cliche) I revert to my mother’s cook book for comfort food, the food I grew up with. Usually the recipes are easy, the ingredients are few, and they are tasty as can be. Today, I have the ingredients for a sheperd’s stew called Szekely Gulyas (pronounced say-kay- goo-losh). The ingredients are: one onion chopped, two table spoons of Crisco, cubed pork, sauerkraut, salt and pepper, then add sour cream at the end.

My desire to eat all the old stuff out of my freezer is working. Yesterday, I found a baggie with two pork chops, then, I found another package in foil which is a pork roast. It was a two pounder when I bought it, and was much too big for me to roast at one time so I cut it in half and wrapped it for later. This is now later. Last week I found a pound of ground beef and I will finish that by making hamburgers until consumed. Right after I found the chops and I removed it to defrost it. Also last week, while scouring for some breakfast meat I uncovered a package of eight Italian sausages. So here I am with all of this meeting defrosting in my fridge when the phone rings. It is my step daughter telling me she is on the way to my house to drop off a pork roast and a large bag of salad greens. She told me she would drop it at the front door and leave because she didn’t want to contaminate me with Covid.

At this point I am overloaded with defrosted meat and have to do something with it, I can’t eat that much food at one time. So, I cook.

Day 41-Quarantine-Phenomenon

Yesterday the weather turned out to be the exact opposite of the day before. The sun shone, the temperature was warm, and everyone’s disposition was bright. People were out walking again, although practicing social distancing. It strikes me as funny when walking and I spot someone coming toward me but still several houses away one of us will head for the street so we don’t pass each other too closely. Yes, we take the rules seriously.

The warmth brought out the bicycles. I have to admit that bikers don’t give hoot about social distancing when on the bike path. They zoom past you without the usual vocal warning. Sometimes I felt a wave of warmth flush over me as they speed along. Evidently one doesn’t need to be spaced apart when you pass each by with great speed. I’ll have to research whether the virus can jump that quickly from one person to the next.

Last night I came across a movie titled Phenomenon with John Travolta. I’m not a huge fan of Travolta when he plays the villain, but when he plays ordinary people I love him. In this film he was an ordinary guy struggling to make living and to get a date with a girl. He lives in a small California town which never gets named in the film where everyone knows everyone else. He celebrates his fortieth birthday at the local pub with a huge sign proclaiming that the first drink is on him. He leaves the pub for a breath of fresh air and looks up into the night sky to see a phenomenon in the form of a bright ball of light that is rapidly coming toward him, and it blasts him to the ground. He Awakens a new and different man. He become s voracious reader reading as many as four books a day. The reading brings him knowledge which stuns the people of the town, because up to this point George was just an ordinary guy who barely made it through high school. The more he knows the more he wants to know and his reading evolves into experiments in his gardening his shop.

George’s buddy is a ham radio hobbist, and once while visiting him he overhears a message in morse code and deciphers it. He learned Morse code from one of his books. George asks his buddy to key a return answer to the message. A few days later the FBI shows up and take him and his buddy in custody. He intercepted a secret government encrypted message. The Feds were not appreciative that their code was broken, so they assume George must be a spy because only spies can do that kind of stuff. The story has a love theme, wrapped in a science fiction mystery theme. It has a beautiful, happy, but sad ending. I wanted to story to keep going.

What has this movie to do with COVID-19? Well, if I weren’t practicing social distancing at home alone on a Sunday night I would have been out with friends instead of watching a movie by myself. The character of George in this story was one smart feller who just might have been able to develop a vaccine for killing the virus.

Day 40-Quarantine-Security

My boss, owner of the company, had a preoccupation with security. Most of us didn’t understand it at first, but got the idea with time. He was an inventor who liked to test his ideas for success in the market place. If an invention was good, the product sold. If it was a dud, it flopped. His record, however of dreaming up great ideas vs dumb ideas was to his favor. I always thought the eyes of God were upon him and he capitalized on it.

Our security in the plant was simple. If you needed to know something you could know it. If you didn’t need the information for your job, then you stayed in the dark. It wasn’t until 2016, sixteen years after I retired from a forty year career that I read the book titled The Girls Of Atomic City, The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win WW II. The story is about the development of the atomic bomb known as the Manhattan Project. Scientists needed enriched uranium in large quantities to develop the weapon. A sister project was begun in the Smokey mountains far away from Los Alamos where the actual bomb would eventually be made. All they started with was a piece of property in the middle of nowhere miles from any city or town. A clean sheet of paper. They hired people from the big cities under contract. They paid huge salaries and made the employees swear to secrecy. They established laboratories, dormitories, factories, transportation systems, and life sustaining towns within the boundaries of this government property. They operated on a need to know basis. If a particular process required ten operations each separate from one another, each was kept secret from the others. If your job was to drill a hole in a piece, and you didn’t need to know what the hole was for, or why it was needed you drilled the hole and passed the piece on to the next department. You didn’t know who worked there or what they did there, nor why. Passing from one department to another required getting a security check before being allowed to enter, even if you worked in the department. When I read this description of how they treated security I understood where our system came from. My company operated exactly the same way.

I was a long time employee when I finally asked the boss why we are so careful about our confidential processes. His answer, “I spent a lot of time and money learning how to make our products, if our competitors want to make the same thing as good as we do, let them learn on their own.” Great idea, if they actually do it by experiment, but it is much easier and quicker if you steal the process.

A billboard posted in Oak Ridge. 31st December 1943. The town of Oak Ridge was established by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of the Clinton Engineer Works in 1942 on isolated farm land as part of the Manhattan Project. The site was chosen for the X-10 Graphite Reactor, used to show that plutonium can be extracted from enriched uranium. Tennessee, USA.  (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
Social Distancing to Keep Your Job a Secret
A Very Heavily Enforced Policy

When my company finally decided to establish a manufacturing facility in the far east we did it with security in mind. My boss wouldn’t trust a Chinaman with any of our proprietary manufacturing processes, but he did like making money. He sent his crew to Singapore, a small Island City-Country off the tip of the Malaysian Peninsula south of China. The population was eighty percent Chinese, they speak a form of English, and they are a free market economy. Whereas China is a socialist country, speaks only Chinese, and believes that capitalism is stupid.

Because the boss still didn’t believe the new operation should have our state of the art processes, he chose to send only the archaic high-cost operations to take advantage of the lower labor rates, and then applied the same or even stricter security rules as we used in the US. I’ve told this story before about one of our managers visiting cable tie manufacturing plants across Asia and finding one that made a carbon copy of our design. He challenged them and their reply was “yes, we copy you because you have the best design.” They spent some money to get our design, so I guess it was okay? Wrong, our designs are patented and protected. I never did find out if we sued them or not, I didn’t need to know.

We hear a lot about China stealing designs and intellectual property. What most people think about is stolen music, or lyrics, or art. Intellectual property includes all forms of designs. They steal designs daily. Of course many of our companies, mine included, encourage the theft by recognizing they do it, and looking the other way instead of prosecuting them. I think the reason is because we don’t know how to prosecute or sue a Chinaman in their courts, or even if they have any courts.

We can thank COVID-19 for raising our awareness about the problem of sending products to China for low cost manufacturing. Our drugs are now made there, not here. So, they can hurt us big time by delaying shipment or even denying shipment if they want to. They are now making aircraft carriers, airplanes, war materials all patterned after our best designs. In some cases we gave them the designs. I still remember slick Willy Clinton agreeing to send them plans for missiles.

A time will come when Americans will again look for the label to say Made In America meaning the United States of America and not America, China. For your edification the Japanese out smarted us for awhile by making things in the town of Usa, Japan, and then labeling the product Made In USA. We better hope and pray that our homeland companies continue to make ammunition on our shores. 

Day 39-Quarantine-Random Thoughts

It is eight-thirty p.m. and I just ventured out of the house to pick up my mail. It is the only time I have been out of the house since yesterday. The phone hasn’t rung, and I have spoken to no one. I am in complete isolation, but I am determined to beat the Chinese scourge.

The day has been dark, grey, cold and rainy. It is like November except it is late April. The difference is that in November the landscape is brown and grey in April it is bright green and white with blossoms.

This evening I made myself a hamburger without a bun. Instead I used a couple of lettuce leaves. It is not the same as a Big Mac or a Whopper. It sufficed. A couple of glasses of red wine made it go down easier.

My weight has not dropped for three weeks now and I am worried that with all the KETO I am scarfing down that I am doing something wrong. By now I should be at my target weight. It is not because I am out of ketosis, but I may be eating too many calories. If the weather was warmer, I would try riding my bike to use more calories, walking isn’t doing it.

I did finish an ebook today titled Ivanhoe. Written in the early eighteen hundreds it is a great tale but hard to read because they spoke a different style of English. I found myself stopping to look up too many words, like “palfrey.” In case you are wondering a palfrey is a docile horse. One thing I learned in reading this story is that they had many different words to define the types of horses they rode. Any way, the story included a rescue by a character named Robin Hood.

Thank God, President Trump didn’t have a press conference today. I’m convinced he has finally come to his senses and decided not to take any more abuse from the press. Up until last week these daily updates were great, but as more and more is learned about COVID-19, there has been less interest in solving the virus problem and more in unseating the president. Politics have returned which tells me the country has, or at least the press has, changed back to dirty reporting.

I thought a lot about the Chinese and how they are using the virus to destroy America and the rest of the world for that matter. It seems that everything they did to hide the disease from us was also aimed at spreading it out of their country. Of course, if I were Chinese and in the middle of a epidemic, I’d get the hell out of there anyway I could, and they did. They went all over the world. Maybe China believes they will dominate the world when this is over. I have news for them. I for one, will not let that happen without taking out a few of them in the process (not a threat, a promise).

Hopefully, Americans will wake up and quit buying Chinese made goods because it is cheap. We can afford to buy good stuff made in America.

Day 38-Quarantine-Six Trillion Dollar Experiment

This COVID-19 is bringing back memories of my past life as an engineer. One thing that would spoil my day was a customer complaint of a cable tie failure. Because it was my job to maintain and produce better quality, performance, and reliability of the product line I had to jump into the fire immediately. The quality manager came to me and asked what are you going to do to keep this from happening again? Sound familiar? It is the same question reporters ask President Trump every day. One question begets another, Like tell me how the product was being used, applied, what environment was it used in? The questions asked by me countered the what are you going to do question. We used a unique quality control numbering system that allowed us to trace the manufacture of a specific product back to the material it came from. The problem was that no-one ever thought to capture the number when they complained about a product. We sold cable ties in bags of one thousand with a QC number on the bag. If I got one cable tie back it was a miracle. Sometimes it was the failed product, at other times it was just another one from the bag. We hit the bonanza when we got samples of failed product and the unused product still in its original container. It was a miracle if we got all of that and a description of the application, and environment. I spun my wheels for countless hours tracking down the possibilities. I had to initiate lab tests, I did microscopic exams, and material checks, and most times I failed to come up with an answer. I needed more data. I feel for the COVID-19 Task force when they are asked the stupid questions like will the virus come back in fall. I would not last on that stage very long because I tend to become sarcastic very quickly. If it is one thing I learned over forty years of being put into a situation where I had to answer questions it is that you don’t create an answer if you don’t know the answer. Real answers need facts and analysis by experts and even then the predictions are tenuous at best.

 

During the last week I have heard too many people demanding more testing. Governors stating we don’t have enough testing, employers stating they need testing before they can allow people to go back to work. The good doctors on the podium explain where they can get tests done, but no one wants to take the lead and get it started. I hear excuses like we went to the lab you suggested but they need an approval from the FDA for a reagent, Why? They can’t get the one that is approved. So what are you doing about getting alternate approved? What about a different lab with different test apparatus? I love to hear VP Pence report. He has some very bright and science minded problem solvers working on his teams. They seem to anticipate problems and the questions they will get not because they want to cool off the reporters, but because they are on top of the problem and want to get it solved.

One of the doctors mentioned that the virus does not live long in UV light. I love it because Trump picked up that bit of info and his mind began inventing ways to use the UV to kill the virus in the body. A true entrepreneur he is. The press kicked his ass all day today because they couldn’t fathom how such a procedure would be executed. I heard Rush Limbaugh explain that he found a medical procedure that actually uses uv light in the body to aid the cure. The Press assassinated Trump all day today about his people killing suggestions.

For instance, you test negative and you are cleared to work. You show up at work and touch something that has the virus on it and become a carrier. What did the test accomplish? Or you test positive for the virus and go into quarantine for two weeks, but when you go back to work you touch something and become a carrier. What business really needs is a tester like the ones the Iranians have devised (except it works) which detects the virus in an area. At least then the area can be sanitized before anyone comes it to reinfect it.

The real value we will get from testing is data that can be used to statistically answer all the questions about the virility of the virus. That is coming ever so slowly as we fight the virus and test to learn. Even when we learn everything we need to know, we still haven’t gotten one step closer to a vaccine. The problem at the head of the list today is not testing but finding a cure.

Actually, the number one problem today is not the cure, but getting the economy back to where it was. It should be easier now that we know as much as we do about the virus, and how deadly it is or isn’t.

Day 37-Quarantine-Social Isolation

There is a huge difference between social distancing and social isolation. I am involved with a group of blind people who often find themselves in the isolation category. What ever form of vision impairment they have it overwhelms them. Of course someone who is blind from birth is in a different category, but people who have aged into blindness have problems dealing with the isolation it brings. I often think about how I would react to living in the darkness all the time. I practice at bedtime when I shut the lights off and try to navigate around the house. I still have the advantage of sight and when my pupils open large looking for light even the darkness is navigable

.

I have on occasion been camping in the wild when there was no moon, and the darkness is total. That is scary dark. Even with very wide open eyes one can not see anything but stars. One night after going to bed I was awakened by owls hooting in the trees behind my house. I snuck downstairs and scanned the dark sky looking for anything, but it was so dark I couldn’t even distinguish the tree line from the sky. Only the hoot pointed me in the direction of the bird. I was convinced that I knew where this creature was but he suddenly became quiet. I stared at the trees in front of my windows and then I felt something, a presence. I swear the owl lifted off his branch and glided over me to another tree. I swore that my wide open eyes saw a darkness about six feet wide glide overhead. I’m sure the owl saw me in technicolor, but I needed radar to see him.

In a few minutes I will join a Zoom meeting of OASIS a support group for the visually impaired. Since COVID-19 began they had to quit meeting at the community center and took to Zoom. Even though they cannot see each other well they react to the voices, and the chatter between individuals. The mood change is instantaneous. Those whose sight is totally gone join by phone and those with partial sight join via computer, and turn on the cameras. We have a jolly good time kibitzing. What is really funny is to watch individuals snacking away or picking their nose, or what ever.

Kim, who runs the group is excellent at what she does and opens with a inspiration reading from her bible. then she will begin asking questions she has prepared like, “what part of being blind depresses you the most?” It takes a few minutes to get warmed up, but that one question provides an outpouring of loneliness. I don’t think Kim has ever gotten past two or three questions before it was time to end the session.

Twenty years ago, when I was prepping myself for retirement I began making lists of what I would do with my time. The lists generated some great new goals, Writing children’s stories was on of them. I told myself that after spending ten hours a day for forty years with people that being alone might require that I seek out people to socialize with. Here are some of the ideas I had and use to this day: go to the grocery store, you always see people in the stores, go to the library, my favorite because I have gotten to know the people who work there and often run into a friend. People need people to live with and to maintain their sanity. OASIS is such a group of people who are seeking like minded people to talk to and to share problems with. Thankfully, with today’s technology such as the telephone, texting, e-mails, Zoom, Skype etc. there are many ways to keep from becoming totally isolated. Even blogging is a form of socializing. I have blog friends who I reply to as often as I can, it makes me feel connected. So comment on the blog sites you visit and you may wind up becoming socially connected.

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