Saturday, December 26, 2020

A Christmas Surprise

Here's a huge shout out to my son-in-law, Paul Kerstein, for taking the lead on making this Christmas special for Jill. It was a year and a half in the making. In early 2019, Paul and I were talking about my father-in-law, Jack Saylor, and his service in the submarine service during WWII. I didn't know much. 

Jack died less than three years after we were married. He never talked about his service to his family and of course I never asked him in the short time I knew him. The only story he ever shared with Jill was one of sinking a Japanese transport and what transpired after it sunk. Suffice it to say, they didn't take prisoners on the high seas, and like so many others, the man who left for war was not the man who came home and never would be again.

USS Lapon

All I really knew was the name of the submarine he served on, the information on his service card, and a few other details I could find in the public record. As we talked, Paul mentioned a flag display he had made for his uncle. I had the flag from Jack's casket in the basement and the plan was hatched (no pun intended). We used to fly it regularly when we lived in NJ, but was stained and faded on one side. I had it professionally cleaned, but Paul had to fold it 7 different ways to display it at its best.

Awards can only be secured by a blood relative. It was obvious I couldn't get Jill to sign the documents without letting the cat out of the bag, but my daughter could. That's when Paul took the lead. With Ranyde's access as a relative, Paul was able to dig into military records and found out things neither Jill nor I had any inkling of.  

Jack rose to the rank of Seaman 1st class, and worked in the torpedo room of the USS Lapon in four campaigns from 1942-1945. The Lapon was one of 214 US submarines that sunk 1264 enemy ships. Only 35 sank more than the Lapon.

Text messages went back and forth over the months, mostly me answering questions, doing progress checks, and discussing the best display case and how to get it. The about a year went by waiting for the government to come through with the items you see on display.  The last items arrived about a week before Christmas!


The display includes the Lapon patch, his stripes, and all the pins, ribbons and medals for which he qualified. The sub you see in the display box is a 1/350 EXACT replica of the Lapon, painstakingly and lovingly crafted by Paul. 

When Paul sent me the last text with the picture of the final product, I told him Jill always said he was the best son-in-law in the world, but after this it would be the galaxy.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Truth, Lies, Rumors, and Rumbles

The sacrifices and hardships endured by those who choose to serve are something most of us will never understand, but all of us should honor and cherish them. In keeping with my pledge to give thoughtful posts, I'll refrain from editorializing and offer this post in the hope it will help someone in some small way.

Today, on Facebook, Mess Wright said,  "My dad was a Vietnam vet who had some issues as a result. I got to grow up dealing with that. One brother served in combat in Kosovo and is totally traumatized from that. Another brother killed himself in his driveway after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trump calling dead vets losers is not surprising but it’s just one more way he beats up decent people who have served the USA in ways his accidental presidency never has and never will. I’ll never understand those of you who still support him, and I never will. I want you all out of my life for now and forever." 


Her story, like many others, brought to mind my Uncle Harold. He was a WWII vet, but didn't speak about it much. One day, when I was about 12, I asked him what he did in the Army.  I didn't go into detail, but he told me of being stationed in Germany and of an anonymous poem pinned on the barracks bulletin board and the impact it made on him.

I sat transfixed as he recited it. It made such an impression on me, I asked him to write it down, and I memorized it that same day. Over the past 60+ years, the more I learned about the war, the more I realized, how much that poem said about his time overseas.  I have shared it with others hundreds of times and recited it in my mind thousands of times, but one time will live forever in my memory.

Back in the mid-90s, our teachers and administrators were in a battle with a board of education who ran the school district much like the country is current administration is running the country.  They had two agendas, neither of which had students in mind. In their efforts to implement them, the district suffered considerably. One was to get rid of the superintendent and the other was to cut spending as much as they could.  They started on the later as soon as they had the majority.  Sometime later, the superintendent resigned for the good of the district.  

The new superintendent, while not a puppet, was powerless to fight their decisions. Lies, backroom deals, cronyism, bullying, firings, transfers, and control of local media were their tools. If a teacher or administrator opposed them, they were called to task, fired, or transferred. After a year or more of this, I decided to use the internet to get the truth out, because I felt it was a tool that could make a difference. I created Truth, Lies, Rumors, and Rumbles.

Over a 6 month period, my battle became public as newspapers began getting wind of it a teacher taking on the board on the web. The battle was no longer local as my website won a Point 5% award in the education category and the Electronic Freedom Foundation offered legal help. I thanked the EFF and told them I would let them know if I needed any.  

I had a habit of fighting city hall, and as they say, this wasn't my first rodeo. More importantly, I had the advice of one of the top attorneys in the country, who just happened to be my first cousin. Before I began, I contacted him, told him I was going to take on the board, and knew they would come after my job at some point.  He told me exactly what to do and as things turned out, his advice was golden. 
When they eventually did come after me, it was a surprise attack. It happened one night at a televised board meeting. The meeting was almost over.  They had just come out of a non-public session. After getting up to make a comment, they attacked me. I couldn't believe what they were doing, because it violated state law, our contract, and more, which you will soon see. As it was happening, I couldn't believe it, but then as looked at the table and realized the board attorney who was a regular fixture at EVERY meeting, wasn't there to stop them as he had in other instances when they were getting ready to cross a line. I later found out as they came out of non-public, the board president told him he could go home, because there was only 5 minutes left in the meeting.  As it turned out, those 5 minutes were arguably the most important 5 minutes in the meeting. It became the next episode of As the Board Churns.

It was at that point I decided to get the state teacher association's legal department involved. Our first and only meeting was held on the morning of the next board meeting. After I filled the attorney in on what had transpired over the past 5 months, he asked if I had any documentation. I could hear it in his tone and see it in his body language, he had heard it before.  I knew he wasn't expecting the three ring binder filled with about 250 pages of notes, letters, newspaper clipping, and more.  His eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas.

As we continued, I asked what our next step should be, because the next board meeting was that night (Tuesday). He told me I had two choices.
1) I could sit in the audience and say nothing, and if they took any action against me, he would file in federal court by Thursday for violating my civil rights.  2) I could go in front of the board and say whatever I like, and if they took any action against me, he would file in federal court by Thursday for violating my civil rights.  I opted for number 2.

That night, as I stepped up to the podium, I saw the board attorney say something to the president. I began about a 10 minute speech that refuted everything they said during their attack on me, and then gave them a bit of their own medicine.  If looks could kill, I would have been struck dead on the spot. At one point, the VP was getting ready to say something when the attorney to put his hand his shoulder and just nodded his head, no  . It was obvious the attorney had updated them on how badly they had screwed up in the 5 minutes he was not at the previous meeting, because they never said a word.  I really don't remember what I said in the speech, or how I made the transition to the poem, but I can still see their faces every time I recite it.

I have hoped. I have planned. I have striven.
To the will I have added the deed;
All that is in me I've given
In the hope that I would succeed.

I have dared and reached only disaster,
I have battled and broken my lance;
I am struck by a pitiless master
That the weak and the timid call Chance.

I am old. I am bent. I've been cheated
Of all that youth urged me to win;
But name me not with the defeated,
For tomorrow, again I begin.

Shortly after that, I reached out to LM_NET, the Internet's largest mailing list of librarians, to try to find out who wrote the poem. They came through in flying colors.  The poem was titled, Unsubdued, and was written by S.E. Kiser. The version above, is how my uncle remembered it. The S.E. Kiser version had only a few words different, but the changes provide a powerful picture in to the mind of the GI who posted it on the bulletin board, but that's another discussion.

Things came to a head with the board as we approached the April elections. Three of the members' terms were expiring.  Two of them had decided not to run, but the president was up for re-election. On TLR&R, I said that on the day after the election, if the president was re-elected, I would take that as a message from the public, and would resign my teaching position. In his campaign literature, the board president said he was elected to the board by one of the largest margins in township history, and trusted that the voters would return him to the board.  When the results came in he was defeated by one of the largest margins ever.

The truth is a powerful thing!

Friday, August 28, 2020

A Stroke of Luck

On Tuesday, 8/25 @ 2:15, Jill was scheduled to have a lumbar ablation.  It was the second in a series of shots to deal with back pain. The first was two weeks ago.

At about 12:00 she was getting nauseous and had a migraine, neither of which were alarming, because  she gets migraines and she wasn't allowed to eat 8 hours prior to the procedure and nothing to drink for 4 hours prior. Because she doesn't get up until between 9 and 10 and her last food was about 5 pm the previous day. All she had in her was a cup of coffee. So we attributed the nauseousness to that not sitting well. 

As time got closer to the procedure she began to get the dry heaves.  At this point it was about 12:20 and I wanted to call the doctor and let him know.  She wouldn't let me call.  By 1:15 she was not improving. I took her temperature and blood pressure.  There was no fever, but her blood pressure was 212/113. I over rode her objection and called.

On the call I mentioned the migraine and nausea, but neglected to mention the blood pressure. The nurse spoke to the Dr. and said, they could give her something for the nausea and to give her a little juice or something to get a bit of sugar in her. She has a sip or two of water and a sip of Coke which did nothing to settle the stomach. 

At 1:35 we headed out the office.  During the ride she got worse, continued with dry heaves, and became disoriented. There were a few times she said things and got words wrong. I think the word that was in her mind came out of her mouth as something entirely different.

As soon as we got into the office I asked the nurse to have the doctor check her out right away, because I was concerned something else was wrong. While there were no physical/classical signs of stroke, that was my concern. The doctor suggested taking her to the ER, which I did.

The doctor called ahead and when I arrived at the ER, they were waiting and took us right back into a room where the neurologist was already waiting via video conference. While the nurses were attaching wires, probes, and cannulas, The doctor began questioning her; name, age, where she was, and other similar question. They showed her pictures of common objects to identify.  Most objects were recognized, but others like a glove and a key, she wasn't able to name. There was a scene with a few people in it and she wasn't able to describe what was happening in the scene.

Thankfully, the CT scan didn't show any bleeding.  That ruled out bleeding stroke.  It could still be a TIA or an Ischemic Stroke.  Once the tests were done, the doctor said what was happening could possibly be a result of the migraine, but knowing Jill and her her history, I told the doctor I knew more than likely, the migraine and disorientation was the result of a TIA or Stroke.

Since we got to the ER within 3 hours of the event, Jill could be given clot busting medication. He explained the treatment and the associated risks. They administered the drugs and you could almost see the confusion leaving her mind.  

They moved her to the ICU for 24-48 hours to watch for any change or adverse affects of the treatment. By the time she was settled into ICU, it was 6:30 and past visiting hours. I headed home.  We spoke on the phone later and there were no signs of any speech or memory problems, except there is no memory of the vomiting, dry heaves, the trip to the first Dr. and the time in the emergency room.

They only allow one visitor a day for 2 hours. So we spoke on the phone a few times during the day and I visited during the late afternoon. She was in good spirits and was her old self.  She made sure I brought her makeup kit something to wear besides the hospital gown. She wanted a shower and she wanted to go home, but that was not to be.  Her blood pressure was still too high and they had more monitoring to do, including an MRI that would be performed the next day. 

That brings us to Thursday. The MRI was scheduled for the morning, but I visited from 12-2 and she still didn't have it, but they decided she was captive for another day, because her blood pressure is still too high. It's bounce around the 188/90 level.  They put her on a cardiac diet and are trying to bring it down.  It's 5:00 now and I just got off the phone with her and still no MRI.  I suspect they may hold off until tomorrow morning.

It is now 3:00 PM on Friday and Jill is home.  They took the MRI this morning and it was clear. We are home and she is in good spirits with no apparent impairment.  She has a follow up with her primary care physician next week and a neurologist in about 3 weeks.

Fate, coincidence, or divine intervention, she was very lucky. As I wrote, she was on the way to another doctor when things really started going south. What is lucky is that the appointment we were going to had been changed twice. If it had been the original time, she would have had the stroke either during or right after the procedure. If it had been the second date, she would have had the stroke the day after the ablation. As turned out, it was a stroke of luck.


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Teaching About Fake News

Since 1995, I've been saying the most critical thing we should be teaching students, is information literacy. Specifically, the ability to locate, evaluate, and use online information for problem solving. It has been 25 years of banging my head against a wall, while shouting into the wind, while swimming upstream, with one hand tied behind my back.  Yet, I keep trying, because it is the key to understanding how to handle Fake News.

I've written tens of thousand of words on the subject, most of them have probably been on Facebook.  While looking back on some of my work, I came across the Internet Library, a series of 7 books for middle school libraries back in 1998.

The problem with writing so much is you forget half of the things you wrote. It wasn't until I dug out the volume on Locating and Evaluating Information on the Internet, that I realized I had written about misinformation and the 1996 presidential campaign! Except for a half dozen links that have broken over the past two decades, everything I wrote then could have just as well been written yesterday!

If you are a teacher or parent struggling with how to teach your kids about the whole "Fake News" problem, I would like to introduce you to Web, my computer sidekick. Here, he's helping me tell a story that actually took place during the 1996 presidential election. If you click on the link below, you can download three chapters from the book and use it with your kids or your class.

Note: The books are out of print, but I retain the copyright and am making some content available for free. You can probably find some on Amazon or other sites, but I do not profit from those sales. Use should be for education. No modification or commercial use, please. 

Friday, May 1, 2020

Covid Journal 7 - The Dr. Erickson Interview

 Someone just posted a link to this article and said, "Read this article. It’s the most important piece of journalism in many months." I read it, but my opinion was considerably different than that of the poster.

It references the video of a press conference conducted by Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi. They run an urgent care center in Kern County, California

The video was taken down from YouTube because it violated community standards, which is a debate for another day. If you want to watch it, you can view it here.

I responded with as follows.

Let me start by saying I am not a sheeple. During my 40 years of teaching, I've held many different positions in math, science and technology. If anyone asked me what I taught, my answer was the same. I taught critical thinking. I gave extra credit to any student who caught me in an error. I encouraged them to check anything and everything they see and hear.

I read the article and I watched the Erichson video 3 times. I was tempted to created a point by point rebuttal, because when you pause to digest what they are saying, it's what they are not saying that tells a big part of the story. Then I thought, why should I spend 4-6 hours putting together a 2 hour video that no one would watch? I'll just spend an hour writing this reply and hope that at least one person reads it.

I'll just focus on single point on which they hinge their entire argument. If you accept it, at face value, I urge you to reexamine the sheeple comment.

First, I'll cut to my conclusion. Is covid as bad as we first thought? I don't think so, but I have no idea how bad it really is. I do know it is not as rosy optimistic as the picture they are painting. Are we ready to open? No.

The first time I watched the video, I had to stop it when they said there was a .003% chance of dying if you get covid. That is 100x lower than the lowest estimate I have seen anywhere.  
So I started running my own calculations using the exact same method they used, which happens to be basic 7th grade math. That itself is a huge red flag. I remember my college genetics final. It was a single question that was 2 hours worth of calculations using calculus. What scientist worth their degree would do calculations of a situations that complex while ignoring all of the variables?

How irresponsible is it to ignore date from other places around the county? Those figures are there to use. Why ignore them? Any 7th grader can do the calculations the way they did and come up with considerably different results than they did, but once again their method of calculation is seriously flawed.

They were basing their figures on Kern county figures and extrapolating for then entire state, and then for the entire nation. Do you know how ludicrous that is?

They said, in Kern county they have tested 5,213. What they didn't say is that represented just 0.6% of Kern county. There is no mention of the demographics of the population or the test sample. The entire state of California has tested only 0.7% of the state.

So I started pulling statistics from around the country and the world to see how things compared. Needless to say, every one showed higher death rates than their calculations, keeping in mind, that is using their method.

Am I right? I can't say for sure, but you will have to prove me wrong to get any credit at all, let alone extra credit. If you prove me wrong, I'll be happy to change my opinion.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Covid Journal 3 - Who Will You Kill Today?

Note: This is being published out of order, because I started it on April 8, but didn't finish until today.

I've just about had it with people who compare coronavirus to the flu! Ignorance is NOT bliss. Ignorance can kill.

In response to a Facebook question about going back to work and social distancing, I just posted a graph of the growth of Covid 19 cases in NH. I asked if it looked like it was a good idea to get back to work.

Within moments there was a reply that said, "Thank you art. So why don’t we shut down the state when we have 8,000 flu cases?" Then he added, "We’ve had 24+ flu related deaths this year."

After counting to 10, I took a few breath's and said, "In all the years, we've have the flu going around, have we ever had to social distance to slow its spread? Of course not, but this IS NOT THE FLU!!!
Its epidemiology is different, it's more deadly, and because it is so contagious, unchecked it would have crashed our health system.

Do you remember last year during the flu season, when NY was piling bodies in refrigerator trucks and burying people in mass graves? NO? Well, neither do I. 

If we did for Covid 19 what we do for the normal flu, the number of cases and the number of deaths would DWARF the worst flu statistics, and I don't even want to start on the shape the economy is in. 

The fact is we are peaking shortly. If we keep doing it right, we will start on the down side, but what goes down can go right back up." 

Shortly thereafter, a friend of mine chimed in and said, "Insufficient Data...The testing, both detecting presence, and those that have it, and may be immune...we don't have the data yet. The finger-prick test that could detect forensic presence (present but defeated), if rolled out enmasse, COULD give us the necessary information. but we're finding out where this virus was 10 days ago...not where it is now.."

I have no idea whether our message got through, but my question in the title, is aimed at people who don't get it. Consider John Doe, who is a symptomatic, and is not taking precautions. 

My mother is 98 years old and living in an assisted living facility in NJ. Early on, they began taking precautions. They were cleaning, social distancing, no activities, no visitors, and other precautions.  Despite their efforts, two residents tests positive. The facility went on a tighter lock down and everyone was restricted to their rooms. Then two staff members tested positive, followed by another resident. Since then the number as grown. 

During the lock down, my mother fell and couldn't get up. Even though she had the alert necklace, so does everyone else in the facility. She was on the floor with a broken hip for about a half hour before anyone got to her. The worst thing was, she was able to call my sister who also was not able to get through to alert the facility to her problem. 

My sister was 30 minutes away and couldn't get in even if she was there. She was eventually able to make contact and get staff on the phone. They found her on the floor in pain. From the position of her leg, the suspected a broken hip, but they had to wait for a doctor to do anything. It took about 30 minutes for the doctor to tell them to take her to the hospital. The preferred hospital where she had been treated a number of times, had no beds and she had to be taken to a less desirable hospital? 

24 hours earlier, she was a completely independent. Now she is confused a 98 year-old, in terrible pain. She needed a hip replacement and was extremely high risk just for the operation. She is on Plavix and has only one kidney. 

She is from hearty stock and came through the surgery the operation fine.  She is now in rehab now, but in a few weeks will be going back to assisted living. Both the rehab center and the assisted living facilities have positive Covid patients. 

There is an up side to this story (at least so far). They were going to put her into a rehab center that might have been her death sentence. It had 82 confirmed cases and 14 deaths! My sister was able to do the leg work and got her into the facility we had suggested which has only 7 cases on 0 deaths. Someone was looking out for her, because when she called, they had just one bed available.

When we open up, there will be more case and more deaths than if we sheltered in place. Of course, we have to open up some time, but it needs to be based on science.

Covid Journal 6 - Who's Data is Accurate?

A friend posted this video saying it was fake science. It is base on what she and I both agree is a erroneous extrapolation to arrive at a death rate figure. 

I watched this yesterday and was temped to turn it off after the death rate calculation, but I decided to watch it all, because the simple fact is that without adequate testing the actual death rate is impossible to evaluate effectively and I want to get all views in order to form my own opinions.

I'm a biology major and like looking at the data. Right now there is enough data to make predictions that are as accurate a hurricane landfall predictions when the storm is still well out to sea. So I am willing to listen with an open mind to anyone who has more knowledge than me. It helps me come to my own conclusions.
I do like that they tried to stick to the data and not let their bias be front and center or assign blame. The conference actually spread over two videos. The second part was 12 minutes long and their bias did come through as the camera rolled after the official press conference came on. To that end, I will try to do the same here.
Their extrapolation is no less valid than the projections being posed by those on the other side of the argument. You really have to listen with an open mind, because they repeatedly say that these are real figures based "on what they are seeing." In other words, they are saying this is what is happening where we are. Your situation may be different. The other side of that coin is that they point to the difference between Sweden and Norway as being statistically insignificant, but their study is no more or less statistically significant.
You may have turned it off before they said that isolation and shut-down was absolutely necessary. Their point is that is it time to begin opening up. where they are. They recognize and acknowledge there are other parts of the country where that is not the case.
Getting back to their point about the figures being valid for their situation, I don't discount their position. The shut down was never intended to end the virus, but simply to slow it so that our systems are not overwhelmed.
The other point I question is their contention that our immune systems will suffer as a result of the isolation. To that point, even as a bio major, I don't have enough expertise to make a judgement. I know some immunity is for a life time. Others have a shelf life much shorter.
Make no mistake about it. From day one, for many this was simply a question of weighing the effects of the shut down on the economy against the number of deaths which will result.
They are real doctors, but had they done a different extrapolation, I would have been more likely to accept more of their argument. They did what others have done, just in the other direction. The fact is, we still do not have a handle on the death rate. If you calculate it based on the number of test given, it is ridiculously high. If you base it on the total population it is ridiculously low.
A few things appear evident to me.
1) Testing has sucked from day one, but we are making progress.
2) We will never go back to the way it used to be. Social distancing will be with us for a significant period of time.
3) We will be opening up (slowly I hope) at some point. When that is, is beyond my capabilities of predicting.
4) Things were NOT done properly in the early days and we are paying a price for that.

I mentioned their bias came out in the last minutes of the second part of the conference. So, to be fair and balanced, I will let my bias be know through this post I made 5 days ago, which coincidentally, was the same day I posted this blog.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Covid Journal 5 - For want of a nail and a swab...

Here in NH, we have not felt the pain of major cities, and the urge to reopen the economy is sparking some debate on local Facebook groups. Recently, someone posed an article about Catholic Medical Center furloughing over 400 employees. That got me to thinking about why this is happening.

If we go with the President's idea that we are at war, simply put, they are collateral damage caused by failing to engage the enemy in a timely and strategic fashion.

Have you ever heard the ancient story that starts, "For lack of a nail, the horse was lost"? This version was penned by Ben Franklin.

For Want of a Nail
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

That's what is going on today. The nail in this case could be swabs, the horse would be test kits, and so on.

The CMC employees are out of work because of lack of testing. Had the Defense Production Act been used as it should have been, and testing ramped up as it should have, it's possible if not likely, that elective surgery would never have stopped in NH.

There are plenty of elective surgery centers not in hospitals. There are elective surgeries done in doctor's offices. They are not in the battle against coronavirus. If testing was widely available they  might be opening now.

Testing ramp up was a month late in coming. We are at the very least suffering in a shutdown that is going to be a month longer than it need be, and it's impossible to tell how much damage it has done to our economy.

At this point someone chimed in with the opinion that nail was PPE that was needed and Ventilators that weren't needed, both were depleted by our previous administration causing the use of the DPA for those items.

The problem with playing the blame game is that it does nothing to solve the problem that exists today. The PPE and ventilators have nothing to do with testing. In the nail and swab analogy, they have no real status. Test is what it critical to opening the economy. Even if there was an abundance of PPE and ventilators, we would be in the exact same place we are today.  Pointing fingers doesn't save lives!

My contention was that the most important thing we need is this fight is DATA. Data can only be collected with adequate testing. Our testing is nowhere near where it needs to be. A look at the testing supply chain sees it is broken in many places. Without swabs, you can't test. It's like having a million horses waiting to be shod.

I don't think the poster understood the supply chain dynamics or the point I was trying to make. More importantly it doesn't appear he understands the nature of a pandemic, because he said, "I agree but if this were a pandemic they could use these people to assist in helping patients like they are in NY. They're saying they have empty beds. That's because we don't have the cases NY does (thankfully) but now elective surgeries are on hold for nothing at this point."

"If this were a pandemic?" It's not a bomb that's dropped on us. It infiltrates our ranks and spreads from there. I doesn't pop up out of nowhere. It has to be carried by someone. Once it enters an area, without proper testing and social distancing, it will grow exponentially.

As far as elective surgeries being on hold for nothing at this point, I say elective surgeries are NOT on hold for nothing. It goes right back to the swabs. They are on hold because we have no way of knowing if the doctors and nurses treating you have covid 19 and visa vera. That's is a formula for disaster. If we could be test whenever needed, elective surgeries might not be on hold.

When it comes to opening up, the people in state government are doing one of two things. They are either doing what they feel is best based on the data and erring on the side of caution, or they want things open, but are covering their asses. If they open early, and things go wrong they know they will be out on their asses for opening up without the data that EVERYONE acknowledges we need. If the testing was in place, their asses would be covered, because when things go wrong when they open up, they can blame bad data.

To that the the poster said, "Art Wolinsky but isn’t it up to them to procure and perform the tests for their own data. It’s not up to the Fed to do this. Even Cuomo agreed."

The poster left out one small detail. In order for states to be able to procure their own tests, there have to be tests for them to procure. If there is no product, we have stated bidding against each other for what little there is. ONLY federal government can use the Defense Production Act to get supplies into the supply chain so that states can procure the test.

I finally got some agreement when he said, "But haven’t they? Yesterday there were 50,000 testing kits sent out to states."

He was making my point for me, because 50,000 test kits is a drop in the bucket compared to what's needed. On top of that, they were sent out yesterday, but should have been shipped a moth ago. What we should be doing right now is antibody testing. The covid test kits will soon be there for those with the symptoms meeting current protocols, but the antibody tests are what are really needed in order to open the economy again.

The reply was, "I know I know. I’m saying it’s a good start."

Really? I would agree if a one month late start is a good start. I have always said there are students who blossom because of teachers and there are those who blossom in spite of them. We will come through this and we will blossom, because of who we are as nation. We will blossom in spite of the early failure of the federal government to take the lead.

The retort? "I think it’s unfair for you to think we are one month late based on bad information. Its a weak argument at best."

To answer that, I pointed to the fact that during the past few press conferences when asked what actions were taken in February, Trump answers were attacks on the reporters. He also claimed he has hardly been out of the White House in the past two months.

Then when questioned about the campaign rallies, he couldn't remember them. I went to a Trump rally and I will NEVER forget it. He held FIVE in February and doesn't recall? Was he lying or is it time for Article 25? He certainly wasn't inspiring confidence or gaining the trust of the public. What information would you like to share that shows we were doing a good job?

I then pasted a post which orginated with Robert Braunstein, right after Trump claimed he was distracted by the Impeachment

Dec 18th - House Impeaches Trump
Jan 8th - First CDC warning
Jan 9th - Trump campaign rally
Jan 14th - Trump campaign rally
Jan 16h - House sends impeachment articles to Senate
Jan 18th - Trump golfs
Jan 19th - Trump golfs
Jan 20th - first case of corona virus in the US, Washington State.
Jan 22nd - “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”
Jan 28th - Trump campaign rally
Jan 30th - Trump campaign rally
Feb 1st - Trump golfs
Feb 2nd - “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China."
Feb 5th - Senate votes to acquit. Then takes a five-day weekend.
Feb 10th - Trump campaign rally
Feb 12th - Dow Jones closes at an all time high of 29,551.42
Feb 15h - Trump golfs
Feb 19th - Trump campaign rally
Feb 20th - Trump campaign rally
Feb 21st - Trump campaign rally
Feb 24th - “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
Feb 25h - “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”
Feb 25h - “I think that's a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”
Feb 26th - “The 15 (cases in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
Feb 26th - “We're going very substantially down, not up.” Also "This is a flu. This is like a flu"; "Now, you treat this like a flu"; "It's a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we'll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner."
February 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
Feb 28th - “We're ordering a lot of supplies. We're ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn't be ordering unless it was something like this. But we're ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”
Feb 28th - Trump campaign rally. “This is their new hoax.”
March 2nd - “You take a solid flu vaccine, you don't think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?”
March 2nd - “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”
March 4: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”
March 5th - “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”
March 5th - “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”
March 6th - “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down.”
March 6th - “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”
March 6th - “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”
March 6th - “I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault.”
March 7th - Trump golfs
March 8th - Trump golfs
March 8th - “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus.”
March 9th - “This blindsided the world.”
March 13th - [Declared state of emergency]
March 17th - “This is a pandemic,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
March 18th - "It’s not racist at all. No. Not at all. It comes from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate."
March 23th- Dow Jones closes at 18,591.93
March 25th - 3.3 million Americans file for unemployment.
March 30th - Dow Jones closes at 21,917.16
April 2nd - 6.6 million Americans file for unemployment.

I was then corrected about my response to bad information when he said, "I’m saying bad info from China." and he pointed to the fact that only about 100 people were dead in February.

Seriously? Bad information from China, really? You mean President Chi wasn't being transparent? I think any 5th grader could have tipped him off. When have we EVER relied on China giving us good information? We didn't push and we praised them for their efforts. Good thing the WHO did the same thing, because that allowed Trump to defund them for doing exactly what he did. He didn't listen to his advisors or the intelligence. As far as the number dead goes, I have two words. EXPONENTIAL GROWTH. The ramp up should have started BEFORE we had our first case, not after we had our 100th.

The conversation then turned to the number of tests needed when someone else said, "...sadly, there are 325 million of us in USA. You need to be conducting 10 million a day to test everyone in a month. The response from the poster was, "...that’s just stupid to think EVERYONE needs to be tested. Absurd."

Finally a point of agreement, and I said, "On this one we actually agree. Testing everyone is absurd and I don't know of a single expert who supports that. What is needed is widespread testing to the extent that we can test anyone who needs a test and get results quickly, but we are nowhere near that. Dare I mention the word swabs?

Check this quote, and follow the link for a better idea of what is needed in testing. "We're only able to do approximately 1,000 to 1,200 tests a day because of limitations in supplies like swabs ... chemical reagents that actually do the test," said Dr. Bruce Meyer of Jefferson Health, which operates 14 hospitals in and around Philadelphia, in an interview with NPR Tuesday. "So our capacity to test is really limited."  Read the full article here

That's where things left off yesterday.  This morning there was a new development that aplifies the need for adaquate testing. A phenomonon being dubbed Covid Toe, is starting to look like a way of identifying asymptomatic Covid carriers. Unfortunately, there is no testing of these people and there is no way of determining if this can be used as a solid indicator. Here's the full article.

So who wants to take the literary challenge and write the poem, For Want of a Swab?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Covid Journal 4 - Ben Carson Has a Problem with Math!

The lack of leadership and action from the top, and the conflicting or erroneous (being nice with that adjective) information coming from the White House, is staggering. We've all see the timelines and flip-flip statements about the President's actions or inactions, but here's one that hasn't gotten the attention is should.

Ben Carson said that 98% of people recover from Covid 19 and we can't operate out of hysteria.  I agree that we can't operate out of hysteria, but it patently obvious the he and the president are working out of ignorance.

He is absolutely right. We can't operate from a position of hysteria. However, the rest of his statement is wrong on so many levels.

I can't help but wonder where he got his figure. The last time I hear mention of 2% was when news of the Italian health system collapsing. I don't think he have a handle on the survival rate, because we have no idea how many cases there actually are. If we examine the statement a number of different ways, his math just doesn't add up.

First, let's apply truth in advertising to the statement. If 98% survive, that means 2% don't. Then his statement would say, 2% of the people with Covid 19 will die.  We know the mortality rate of the flu is 0.1%. By Ben's calculations, a 2% mortality rate make Covid 20 times more deadly than the flu, and that is AFTER social distancing.

Right now there are 73,988 cases of Covid 19 and 38,928 deaths. That's not 2%. That's 5%!!!

I'm sure Ben knows there are more cases not identified, including deaths and asymtomatic diagnosed, because we have inadequate testing and reporting. That should come as no surprise to anyone but our president.

Assuming Ben's mortality rate is correct, and 2% die. That would mean there have to be just about 2 million active cases RIGHT NOW.

The chances are that he is wrong, and that the actual death rate will be less than 2%.
That's good, but only in the sense that the number of unnecessary deaths will be fewer that he is projecting. You know what's bad? Political clowns treating daily pandemic briefings into campaign rallies. 

The American people need, and deserve better!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Did I Find Bernie Dodge's Senior Picture?

The fact that I'm writing this is testament to the cabin fever of Covid 19 social distancing. The fact that you are reading it confirms your situation as well.

I just came here from Facebook, where I was going to reply to the post from Bernie Dodge on the left. It set off a bizarre chain of events that just couldn't be typed as a Reply, mainly because I'm incapable of writing a long post inside FB without accidentally posting it 15 times before I finish typing.

I'm giving the Reader's Digest version, because the chain of events continues beyond the topic of this post. The full version is something for a much longer post or series of posts that will put most people to sleep, but may be of interest to a few.

By now you have read Bernie's post. When I read it, something clicked and my mind went back to an unsolved mystery from the late 90's. It took place on the K-12 Admin mailing list. A debate was taking place about the nature of schools and change between the Sages on the Stage and the Guides on the Side crowds. Then along came Ditherhead.

Ditherhead was definitely aligned with the Guides on the Side. He was an in your face kinda member who came out of nowhere. His opinions were not take well by the Sages, but what bothered them most was the fact he didn't identify himself in any way.  They demanded to know who he was, but he never said.

The debate became more heated, not about school change, but about Ditherhead's anonymity and his lack of respect for their opinions and PhD's in their signature lines. Ditherhead was relentless in putting forth his vision of schools, and the Sages were relentless in their attacks on him.

Then things took a turn for the better or worse, depending on your perspective. Ditherhead began toying with them about his identity.  One day, in response to the demands that Ditherhead reveal himself he said that he wouldn't say who he was, but would post a picture of himself.


Note: There is much more to the chain of events that unraveled as a result of Bernie's post. I've heard nothing from Ditherhead in more than 20 years, but I have run into this photo in context of my work, including an interesting discussion with an FBI agent and his familiarity with it, my first meeting with Tom March, the discovery of a long lost video, and a 9 year search for a decent haircut in NH, but those are all stories for another day.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Covid Journal Entry 2 - The Keys and the Puzzle

It's day two of the basement clean up and as yesterday, I found a memory that takes on a whole new meaning.

I hang around with folks who like to help other folks and volunteer in the community. Our reward is an inner one, and our payment is a thanks, a smile, and a handshake. (Today, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.)

From time to time we receive thanks in the form a small gift. Some, like the police patch given to me by the Raymond Police Department, or the woven basket given to me by the Indiginous People of Quebec, are treasures I keep and display.  Others like tote bags or certificates, are no less appreciated, but often are much less visible, and often stored away in a drawer or box.

I found one such gift, but it has new status and meaning to me. It was key ring given to me by the Raymond School District for being part of the strategic planning initiative. At the time, I was struck by the message on the inscription The problem was, I have so many keys. I think I lean to the right when I walk, and they eat through pockets like a caterpillar eats through leaves. So it sat in a drawer in the basement.

Today, when I opened the drawer and read the inscription again, it struck home in a new way. It is now attached to my keys, pockets be damned!


We are all in this together!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

COVID Journal Entry 1 - Finding a Long Lost Pet

This is the end of our first week of social distancing. Like most, of us doing social networking our routines have been occasional trip to the grocery store, or for take out food. Up to this point, my days have been nothing to write about and certainly nothing I thought would be of interest or value to others. I think that changed today and I would like to share it. 

Jill is a neat freak and I'm not. (Monumental understatement)  Our home looks like a magazine spread unless you open the door to my office or walk into the basement.They contains 60 years of my life and my "stuff". (Insert George Carlin routine here.) Organizing it would normally be a multi-day job that probably wouldn't get done until I died, but thanks to COVID 19, it is on my radar.

I announced to Jill I was starting Phase 1 of organizing the basement and my office and that I hoped I could finish all the phases before I ran out of numbers. If it wasn't for social distancing, I think she would have thrown a party. Aside from her expressions of joy, she had only on directive. "Don't throw out any of my stuff."

It's turning out to be a silver lining and a break from the daily chaos. I away from the TV and the computer, though I just took a break to write this.  I'm reminded about how much I have and how rich my life has been in memories and experiences. I'm  finding memories on every shelf and in every box I open.

For example, I had a pet back in the 70's, but you know how pets are.  Sometimes they run away and sometimes they get lost. I'm not sure which it was, but when we arrived in NH, in 2009, Mergatroid was not with us. I searched high and low to no avail and mourned him for almost a year. 

Just about that time, I was walking along the Lamprey River in Exeter. It was there I found my new pet Horatio. He has been by my side ever since.  Then today, while cleaning the basement, I FOUND MERGATROID!

He and Horatio are getting along famously, and living together on the memory shelf above my desk.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Why the Coronavirus Panic?

There will be books written about our response to the Coronavirus and why supermarkets shelves all around the nation look like a category 5 hurricane is knocking at the door. The answer is complicated, but I'm certain every book will point to conflicting information coming from the White House as a major factor.

Right or wrong, good or bad, there is a significant portion of the population that believes little or nothing that comes from the president and an equally significant portion that believes most or all that comes from him. 

When it comes to an election lies result in a significant portion of the population being pissed off. In the case of a global pandemic, false information and conflicting statements results in a significant number of people DEAD!

This is a link to a timeline of Trump statements about Coronavirus. I'm sure every book written have a tweetologist who will analyze the impact of these denials and obfuscations, but I would like to take it to an extreme to make a point about how the decisiveness in this country.

Below is the same set of statements with a bit of word substitution that is admittedly, extreme. As extreme as it is, there are still way too many people would would believe none of it and and equal number that would take the words as gospel.

January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one missile coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”
February 2: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”
February 24: “The bombing is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”
February 25: “Defense and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling the bombs.”
February 25: “I think that's a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a defense.”
February 26: “The 15 (bombs in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
February 26: “We're going very substantially down, not up.”
February 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
February 28: “We're ordering a lot of supplies. We're ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn't be ordering unless it was something like this. But we're ordering a lot of different elements of defense.”
March 2: “You take a solid missile, you don't think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on their bombs?”
March 2: “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”
March 4: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that are safe just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they are safe.”
March 5: “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”
March 5: “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 bombings… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”
March 6: “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down.”
March 6: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a shelter gets a shelter. They’re there. And they are beautiful…. the shelters are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”
March 6: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these generals said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”
March 6: “I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault.”
March 8: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our defense against the bombs."
March 9: “This blindsided the world.”
March 13: “I don’t take any responsibility at all." *

Wash Your Hands
Keep Your Distance
Conserve Toilet Paper
Carry on!

 * If this post give you the idea to publish a book of Trump Tweet Mad Libs, I would appreciate a cut of the profits.