Gratitude

WuFlu outcomes: a coupla thoughts

As I loll away my days of enforced indolence, I contemplate things. Of course, the WuFlu/Wuhan Coronavirus/Novel Coronavirys/C.O.V.I.D. (Wait! Wasn’t that the name of a Bond villain?) is on my mind. It’s easy to see over reach, as well as dilatory responses. All of which illustrates the fact that governors and mayors have a sort of “stool smorgasbord” of options, wherein every choice that they make, every action that they will take, will be wrong. If they lock the state down hard, people will die of depression, untreated addiction, consequences of delayed diagnosis, treatment and management of illnesses ranging from cardiac disease to cancer. If they leave things open, settling for public service announcements of individual mitigation measures we each and all can take, people will contract the illness, presumably in greater numbers than they might in other circumstances, and some of them will require hospitalization, and some of them will die.

So, the negatives are easy to see, and folks are out there who will cheerfully bring you up to speed in the event that you do not wallow in sufficient negativity.

I’d like to illuminate a potential upside to this pandemic scare. I have seen, here and there, genuine gratitude. Folks being thankful for truckers, who deliver EVERYTHING that we take as if granted to us.

Folks being appreciative of physicians, nurses, and everybody else who keeps any and every hospital operating.

People performing small, and heartfelt, acts to help protect others (I’m looking at YOU, all you home mask crafters. As well as y’all shopping, so elderly/vulnerable neighbors don’t have to go out.) And very one of these acts touches the vestigial organ where my heart used to be.

Folks being grateful for the efforts of grocery clerks.

Dare I hope that we learn to appreciate everyday small blessings, out of these changes?

Fun And Games Off Duty · guns

Op Sec and The Belt

My charming and talented youthful Darling Wife, Mark II (hereinafter TDW Mark II) is both short statured and full figured. Holding a CPL (license to carry a concealed pistol), she is presented with challenges that I do not face. She employed the gunbelt I had purchased for her, but found that it hurt her back. She resolved that problem by carrying in a much modified appendix carry, but the buckle of the belt I had purchased interfered with positioning her pistol. She and I went to the store, in search of a belt that would function for her.

She found a candidate belt, but, wanting to be certain it would fit and function, wanted to try it on. Doing so in the middle of the store would make unmistakable the fact that she was carrying (no longer concealed), so she thought to use the dressing room.

The employee supervising the access to the dressing rooms asked why she needed to use a dressing room to try on a belt. Thinking quickly, TDW-Mark II informed the employee that “I have an apparatus on me that I would be embarrassed to show everybody, and if I pull up my shirt it will be fully revealed.” The employee, saying “I’m so sorry”, ushered her into the dressing room, where she found that the belt in question fit and performed suitably. We made the purchase.

After she regaled me with the details of her conversation, I told her that her response was perfect: absolutely truthful, not overly informative, and completely misleading.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Customer “service”, and Why I Grind My Teeth.

Conversation with XM customer service:

“I want to cancel my service with you people.”

“You can’t. You have a contract that lasts a year”

“Well, I’m not going to pay you. We agreed you’d bill me at the ‘new customer’ rate for each of the next 12 months, yet this bill is nearly twice that. I will not pay it.”

“If you do not pay us in the next 5 days, we’ll cancel your service.”

“Why don’t you think about what you just said. Can you explain the difference between what you just said, and what I want to happen?”

Fun And Games · Pre Planning Your Scene

Blizzard in Da South.

I did not always work for Da City. Nay, I eventually moved Up North, married, and found myself living in Cincinnati. To my disappointment, once our little family was settled in Cincinnati, I learned that they had, somehow, resolved the Nursing Shortage, raging everywhere else in our fair land.

Shit.

I contacted a travel nursing agency, and sought employment. They accommodated me, finding a placement in another, Southern city. Something like 120 miles distant from our home.

Realizing that “beggars cannot be choosers”, I gave thanks for this job, and settled in for some commuting. Conveniently, the hospital needed a unit nurse, and I had, indeed, worked as a unit nurse. In addition, adding to the convenience, TDW-Mark I worked Monday to Friday 0900 to 1700, and the hospital needed somebody to work weekends. Score!

Therefore, I motored my way to work, and worked my 12 hour night shift. They had a need on 3-11 (or, more precisely, 1500 to 0300) the following day, and I volunteered to work it, if I could avoid working until 0700.

They were agreeable, and, indeed, I could work 1100 to 2300, and go home Sunday night, around 8 hours early. Worked for me!

One weekend, I headed for home immediately ahead of a storm that swept in from the west, chasing me back to Cincinnati. I got home as the flurries materialized. I am from Northern Un-Named Midwestern State, so snow, meh? Nothing I haven’t seen before.

We awakened the following morning, and found ourselves in a low budget winter wonderland. Maybe an inch of accumulation, dusting in the trees. This being not-the-snowy-north, well, let’s just say that the snow management infrastructure was, well, lacking. They closed everything, and the evening news talking heads breathlessly filled us all in on the Horrible! Disaster! That the snow had occasioned. (yawn!)

Being an Amateur Radio Operator (“a HAM”), I listened in to the wide area repeater, taking note of the communications supporting shelters for those who could not stay home (for reasons that I did not understand), as well as other disaster relief communications.

The week passed, and my next fun filled weekend fighting disease and saving lives (betcha were wondering if I was gonna work that one in there, weren’t you?) arrived. I loaded up the truck, packed my meals, kissed the wife and kiddies goodbye, and set off into the wintry wastes.

I took just a little longer than I was accustomed to, since there were stranded tractor trailers scattered here and there on the interstate. Evidently, the snow to my west, and therefore closer to my workplace, had been more serious and more serious than atmy home. Things were not particularly better as I approached Southern City. Monitoring the local repeaters, I heard, four full days later, communications supporting shelters, (still!), as well as other, related, communications.

That malign prognostic indicator was only supported as I exited the expressway, and bunny hopped my full sized truck across nearly frame deep ruts in the frozen snow layered over the roadway.

I had lived in Da City for years on end, and had been impressed with the inattention paid to snow removal. Gotta tell you, Southern City passed them on the fly! On the other hand, the little “no snow removal infrastructure” thing might have played a role.

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Caught in a Snowbank with Marielle.

One schedule Doug rotated onto days, and I found myself working with Marielle. In keeping with usual practice, we rotated driver vs medic duties. One snowy night found us en route to a “heart attack” in the East Side projects. We arrived on the scene, so advised dispatch, and trudged to the indicated door. Things progressed as per usual, and our patient and Marielle seated themselves in the module.

While we were taking care of business inside, the snow had continued to fall. In addition, I had elected to park the ambulance in a snowdrift. Generally, no big thing, either drive our happy ass out of the snow, or rock things a few times, and off we go. As it happened, our truck had settled, snow had fallen in job lots, and, well, rocking that big ass truck was not about to extract us from that snowbank, at least, not tonight. I radioed dispatch to share this fact with them, requesting apparatus meet us with a wrecker. No go, they were at the scene of a multiple alarm fire across town.

Marielle and I discussed this revelation, and tried to brainstorm an escape from our snowy parking spot. I tried to rock us out, several times, and accomplished just about nothing. While I was allowing the tires to cool down, and contemplating my next move, I was startled by a knock on the driver’s window.

The gentleman who had knocked, evidently a resident of the projects, once I rolled the window down, asked me if I was stuck.

I admitted that, indeed, we were stuck. He noted that this might interfere with our transporting this patient to the hospital. (remember her? She was kind of the reason (a) we had jobs, and (b) we had come to find ourselves stuck here.) My new friend admonished me, “Don’t go anywhere!”, and I thought that I had that pretty much covered.

Minutes later I realized why he had so admonished me. This gentleman, and around a half dozen other residents gathered around our ambulance, and everybody picked their own piece of bumper, and commenced to heaving. We moved, briefly, until everything settled again, refusing to move any more.

I tasked Marielle to maneuver the vehicle, and I joined our block club meeting at the rear of the ambulance. Another maybe six or seven souls had exited their nice, warm homes, and joined us in the knee deep snow. At night. And cold as a politician’s heart (should such an organ actually exist!)

As it developed, the bumper was taken, so extra folks tugged on door handles, pushed on their fellows’ backs, and so added perhaps 12 “citizen power” to our efforts at movement.

Slowly, jerkily, gradually, the truck moved closer to the roadway, and eased out of the parking lot. Soon, we were in the middle of the street, and able to move under (the manufacturer supplied) our own power. I effusively thanked the gathering of neighbors, recognizing their irreplaceable efforts, and we set off to the hospital.

Nearly 40 years later, I remember those folks. When I hear smack talk about inner city residents, or residents of public housing, or people-who-don’t-look-like-us, I realize that, perhaps there is less sunscreen sold in those precincts, but Children of God are Children of God. Some are vermin, some are saints, and most simply want to pay their bills, raise their children and love their families, and make it from one day to the next.

Not altogether different from me.

Fun And Games Off Duty

“Damn that George Bush!”

So, one summer, well before The Plaintiff revealed herself to be The Plaintiff, my younger sons were scouts, and summer camp beckoned. Off we went, and since I could swap days, and work weekends, well, I was one of the dads accompanying the boys to camp.

Everybody got up at around the ass crack of dawn, and the boys prepared breakfast, can cleaned up thereafter. Of they went to merit badge classes, or swimming, or other activities, and the adults either tagged along, or lolled around the campsite.

At the end of the day, one designated patrol prepared dinner, and another patrol was cleanup detail. Then the boys were free to run around, or do more scout stuff, before the evening assembly and announcements for the itinerary for the morrow. Then, clean up and off to bed. The adults typically sat up, chatting around the campfire.

Now, this was during the reign of Bush 43, AKA Bush The Younger. Mr. Bush was the recipient of considerable, let us say, “counsel” from the enemedia. Indeed, it appeared that he could do nothing correctly. From the insight that Hurricane Katrina “was Bush’s fault!”, to other revelations of how BushHitler was single-handedly careening the metaphorical American Ship of State onto the Rocks DuJour, well, dude couldn’t catch a break.

So, one evening, one of the scout leaders was reflecting on his previous weekend. “I washed my car. We live out in the country, so you all know it took a lot of washing!”

Murmurs of assent, all around.

“Then, I waxed it. Spent the entire afternoon getting it just right! Gleaming, shiny, clean! Hasn’t looked so good since it left the showroom!”

Again, murmurs of encouragement.

“Then a bird crapped on it!”. He paused, shaking his head. “Damn that George Bush!”

Guy next to him, joined in. “I finally got an afternoon free, and cut my yard. I swept up all the clippings, trimmed along the fence, weeded the garden. Got it looking like something out of House Beautiful! I was so proud!” He, too, paused. “Got up the next morning, and the freaking crabgrass was overgrown! Freaking Bush! That bastard!”

Next guy contemplatively contributed, “My wife guilted me into washing the dishes the other day. I shut up and did it, since she seemed happy I was in the kitchen, cleaning up. I was almost done, when this glass I was washing, broke in my hand, cut the crap out of me, I bled everywhere, and she wound up running me into ER for seven stitches! She cleaned up the broken glass, and all the blood, but, sheesh! That asshole, Bush! What was he thinking?”

Thankfully, NOTHING like that is happening, in current affairs America, Amirite?

Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene · Protect and Serve

WuFlu, Kung Flu, Chinese Flu, or Coronavirus: It IS a big deal, but not for the reasons you likely have been told!

The number of projected deaths, when all is done, is not THE PROBLEM. At north of a million people (that’s one million, or more fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, grandfathers and grandmothers. And aunts, uncles and husbands and wives.), that is certainly bad enough. Particularly if someone you love is enumerated in that group. Life changing. Reality altering. Leaves a hole in your heart, your life, that you cannot imagine, unless you have lived through it.

BUT! THAT is not THE PROBLEM. THE PROBLEM, is the follow on effects, as a tsunami of ill inundates our already (on a good day) marginal health “system”, that it is in no way prepared for.

“Just in time” inventory systems will not bite us in the ass. Nope, not at all. Rather, the shortfalls and absent supplies will make us yearn for simply being bitten in the ass. Indeed, the “bite us in the ass” problem will more closely resemble the “bite in the ass” one might receive from a hungry great white shark, or, maybe, a ravenous tiger.

Ragarding the magnitude of THE PROBLEM, you need honest numbers, and then you NEED TO UNDERSTAND THOSE NUMBERS! See Lawdog’s blog, here , for an explanation of testing error (false positives/negatives, and the implications thereof).

See Aesop’s articles, here, for his description of the second order effects, and how it will make a clusterf…er, HUG! look like a picnic with your Bible study group. I do not know about timing, but, based on 30 + years as an ER nurse, and a dozen as a PA, and several as a medic, well, his assessment of effects is certainly defensible. I pray he is wrong, but I do NOT believe that he is wrong. (While you are there, read his other posts, about the follow on effects, about how this has been mishandled since, oh, 20 or more years ago, and about missed opportunities).

(and, READ HIS COUNSEL [in other posts] ABOUT PREPAREDNESS, BOTH LOGISTIC AND TRAINING! AND TAKE IT TO HEART!)

Good fortune to you all, and WASH YOUR DAMNED HANDS! NOW, DO IT AGAIN! AND AGAIN!

Fun And Games Off Duty · Pre Planning Your Scene

Back From Vacation. I Have Stories!

I just got back from vacation (well, by the time you folk(s) see this, I will have been back for a couple of weeks, but, anyhow…) So, here are two anecdotes, serving as a sort of “Cruise: after action report”

The elevator counseled “Patience!”

TDW-Mark II and I were on a cruise, earlier this year. I had worked considerable extra shifts, in order to avoid financing this adventure. So, TINS©, there we were, soaking up sunshine and living the life, and we were attempting to take the elevator from whatever deck that we were on (say, deck 3) to Deck 14 (which would be “The Serenity Deck”, relatively quiet as well as sunny).

There were numerous other people who had a similar idea (which, on a cruise ship with something like 2,000 + passengers, is likely to be unsurprising). So, when I pressed the button to summon the elevator, there appeared, after some time, to be no response. I again depressed the elevator call button, and was surprised to hear a typical robot like female voice emanating from the elevator, counseling “Patience!”

TDW was very, very amused.

Departure elevator lobby Hide and Seek

TDW-Mark II is, well, petite. At the end of the cruise previously mentioned, we arose early, got out crap together, and joined the lowing herd stampeding towards the gangway. As we were on a middle sort of deck, well, all the folks who had arisen around the same time as we had, and were on upper decks, well, the elevators were full up by the time that they arrived at our floors. (I, of course, lacked the insight that, should we enter the elevator ON THE WAY UP, well, we would ALREADY be on that elevator, once the upper floor folks tried to join us. Alas, THAT insight, however useful it might have been at the time of departure, did not occur to me until, well, just now. Good timing.)

In any event, soon there would arrive an elevator with space for one of us, but not both. After several such events, I directed TDW-Mark II to enter the next elevator, and I would join her downstairs once I myself became the room-for-one-more elevator passenger.

Great plan. Well, except for one issue. Recall that my wife is petite. Consider one readily foreseeable result of lots of people deciding that RIGHT NOW would be a good time to depart, luggage in tow. Yep, I arrived on the departure deck, waited for the crowd to move so far as to allow me to exit, and did not see my wife. She called to me, and I heard her, but could not place her in the lowing crowd.

I decided that this problem resembled the childhood swimming pool game of “Marco Polo”, wherein contestants were forbidden the use of their eyes, and had to find, and tag, other players. “It” would elicit calls from the other players, by calling out “Marco!”, requiring the others to respond “Polo!”.

I implemented my solution. “Marco!”, I called out.

“Polo!” responded TDW-Mark II. I placed her across the lobby, but still could not see her.

“Marco!”

“Polo!”. Ah, there she was, hand a-waving. We “swam” through the crowd, meeting just a little ways “downstream”, and therefrom making our way past checkout, and on to Customs. The rest of our trip home was uneventful, except for the guy who, in the left hand lane of the expressway, decided that he had to exit RIGHT FUCKING NOW!, and swerved, abruptly, across three lanes of traffic and onto the off ramp. Fortunately, it appeared that the other drivers had experienced this sort of shenanigans before, as they braked, and nearly seamlessly allowed Mr. Late Decider off the expressway, and out of our lives.

But, except for that, it was all good.