To grandmother, with love

I drink from a cup labeled, “To Grandmother with love”. What’s up with that?

In 1984 I was the new kid in town, relocated from Wisconsin to Northern California. I was the backwoods rube to some and the whiz kid from the promised land to others. To Bonnie, I became “Mom”. (Need I say she was older than I?)

I grew up in Wisconsin and never thought I’d leave. Circumstances in 1983 changed all that. I went to a national conference that fall, resumes in hand, looking for work. I was offered a job as the Maintenance Director of a low-income housing co-op in Santa Clara, California. Seventy nine families jointly owned a sprawling townhouse project, complete with swimming pool. In 1963 someone had convinced HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development) that even poor people needed swimming pools in the desert. Among new skills, I learned swimming pool maintenance.

I bought a beat-up 1975 GMC van to move my self and stuff to California. I hadn’t had a car for over 10 years (and even that one I’d only used for a year or so; it mostly sitting parked). Arriving in California, I quickly discovered how attached people were to their cars. Many felt sorry for me. I had planned to move out there and resell the van. It became apparent quickly that it had no resale value and that a car becomes a necessity in a place like that. When the van died, I almost bought a 1962 Jaguar (like that driven by Inspector Morse in the BBC series). Instead I bought a Toyota Corolla.

I was offered a scholarship to attend Co-op Camp Sierra, a training center in the mountains near Shaver Lake. I soon discovered that Wisconsin was seen as the center of the co-op world. We had had a vibrant co-op economy starting in the 1920s, when Finnish immigrants in the northwoods developed their own co-op label products.

Image from Finlandia University

Even the little co-op I had co-founded was known out there. We were seen as the vanguard. As my friend who worked as a management consultant said at the beginning of his seminars, “a consultant is an ordinary person far from home.” I discovered the truth of this in California. Ideas that nobody listened to here were seen as wisdom out there. Crackpot schemes here were paid for there. Folks seem to think that the more they pay for something, the more it is worth. If an employee you’re already paying has an idea, it is of no value. If the same sentiment is echoed by a high-priced consultant, it is now the word of god.

Another consultant friend was charging $250/day for his services. He was subcontracting Bay Area work to me so he could travel less. He decided he wanted to work less, so he raised his rate to $400/day. He had more work than he could handle. If he charged $400/day, he must be good! (Or so folks thought.)

So I got to camp and was soon put to work. From the shy backwoods kid who didn’t know anybody, I suddenly was thrust into the midst of running the camp, and was forced out of my shell. Bonnie, the Camp Manager, made me her Administrative Assistant. That’s fancy talk for what she really called me – “Mom”. My job was to make sure she got everywhere on time, that she had all of her stuff with her (a rolling suitcase on mountain trails isn’t the easiest thing to move around), and that no one stole her cigarette lighter to sell at the camp auction. I failed miserably at that last task one year, when it was I who stole it and ran up the bidding at the auction – as auctioneer and co-conspirator, I planted a few shills.

Bonnie had grown children and one year they gave me the pictured mug at camp to thank me for keeping their mom in line; and that’s how I became a grandmother before I turned 40.

Testifying before the Senate in support of the National Consumer Co-operative Bank Act, Bonnie said, “The co-op is my church.” [From National Consumer Cooperative Bank Act: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions…]

Bonnie died too young. One of the campers had once asked me to nominate her for a MacArthur Fellowship (“genius grant”) for her work at camp and in the co-op community. That’s how much my “daughter” was valued by those around her.

A Modest Proposal (with apologies to J. Swift)

US Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) has suggested that we keep COVID-19 in perspective: “We don’t shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die on the highways”; COVID-19 “isn’t a death sentence except to maybe no more than 3.4% of our population”.

Since 3.4% of our population is not ten thousand but more than ten million people, perhaps he is responding to what he sees as overpopulation. COVID-19 may be his way of thinning the herd, bringing our population down to a more acceptable level. If that is the case, perhaps we could just eliminate, for example, the Dallas and Seattle metropolitan areas with a couple of well-placed large bombs. This would lower the population and eliminate crumbling infrastructure. He may prefer other cities. Let us not quibble over details. Eliminating the entire state of Wisconsin would only get rid of half as many people and, besides, where would folks from Illinois go for vacations?

Saving lives

In Italy there is a shortage of a particular valve for ventilators. Massimo Temporelli, Cristian Fracassi, Alessandro Ramaioli, et al decided to do something about it. The valves cost $11,000 each and were unavailable. It is literally a matter of life and death (and I don’t mean that figuratively). These engineers 3D printed copies for about $1 a piece (material cost only) in order to save lives. They risk a lawsuit for patent violation, as they openly duplicated a patented device. They had one interest – saving lives quickly. (Information from Daily Kos and confirmed in multiple other sources.) Below is a translation of Fracassi’s Facebook post. I want to let him tell his own story. I do not vouch for the translation accuracy.

You know in movies when someone is about to fall into the ravine? Usually at that moment the protagonist comes along and throws him a rope, but this rope slides… and time runs. We don’t believe that at that moment there are many questions about whether the rope is in accordance with or that it belongs to others. At that moment you only think about saving those who are falling. Then once you’re safe, with panting and adrenaline dropping, you can reason.
Well, we found ourselves in that situation. There were people in danger of life, and we acted. Period.
Now, with a cold mind, let’s think.
Firstly, don’t call us, as some have, heroes. Sure, people were about to die, but we only did our duty. Refusing would not have been a cowardly act, but murderous. Far from us.
Don’t call us, like some have, geniuses. Genius is such Venturi, who identified the physical principle that we only applied, as any other engineer would have. There is no genius in the piece everyone is talking about, there is only application of a physical principle.
But now let us also silence words that are flying beyond our intentions, and beyond our control: we have no intention of profit on this situation, we are not going to use the designs or product beyond the strict need for us forced to act, we are not going to spread the drawing. But not only: in this time when public opinion is very sensitive, please do not throw yourself at anyone. If we acted quickly it’s only because with 3 d printers you can quickly try a small production which would be impossible on the industrial scale. Finally, let us also say that certain figures we see turning are not true: we do not want to go into detail, because the cost of a piece is not that of the weight of a plastic pile: professional time come into play , costs of materials, energy etc. I mean, the cost is something complex, but let us keep the secret, and don’t know the right what the left does.
We simply want this story to remain only one thing: the community, made of a hospital, a newspaper, a team of professionals, made a race against time and saved lives. That’s it.
The rest – rights, certifications, costs and controversy – should shut up in the face of the undeniable superiority of the sacrosanct right to life. If you don’t share don’t ask us, but to the people who – thank goodness – are still breathing.
Thank you all for the support anyway. You have written me so many, over 2000 I believe, I don’t know if I can read everything and thank everyone. Let’s focus on the real heroes, those who save lives, who work 16 hours of hospital shifts and are day and night next to the sick and praise them. A big thank you.
” – C. Fracassi

I don’t normally just copy someone else’s words and post them here. I’m “supposed to” write about bicycling, but I can’t ride right now. I work in a hospital (though can’t work right now). I don’t really save lives. I just do my job (well, except for now…); just as you do; just as Mr Fracassi says he is doing. Some people just doing their job have a bigger influence on the world than others. I don’t want the work of Fracassi, Ramaioli, and Temporelli to go unnoticed.

P.S. Welcome to spring (or fall if you are south of the equator), which arrived at 2249 last night, my local time.

Bicycling First Aid

  • If in doubt, go to Urgent Care
  • If anything is possibly life-threatening, call 9-1-1
  • If somewhere between those two, have someone take you to the nearest Emergency Department
  • Nothing in here is to be construed as a substitute for obtaining professional assistance
  • If your helmet strikes the pavement with your head in it, it is time for a new helmet. A bike helmet is a single-use item in that regard. Before you throw it away, crush it. (It’s not that hard, and can be satisfying in a way. Thank it for its service as you destroy it.) Destroying it ensures that some innocent person won’t come upon it in your trash and say, “Sweet! A free helmet!” and place their self at risk.
  • Road rash is your most likely ailment. That’s what your water bottle is for. Squirt the road rash liberally with clean water right away. It will hurt less then than it will later. Try to get dirt and gravel out as soon as possible. As soon as you can, wash thoroughly with soap and water. Again, the sooner you do it, the less it hurts. Bandaging road rash is tricky – you don’t want a dressing to stick to it and re-injure the area when you pull it off later – and road rash usually appears on bony prominences (joints) so it is hard to get dressings to stay in place. For road rash you want:
    Non-stick gauze
    Roller gauze
    Tape
    Maybe 2×2 or 4×4 gauze pads depending on wound size and drainage
    Band-net
    See photos below. You may also needs gauze pads (not pictured) if particularly leaky. Hot tip: Cut tape first, stick one end where it’s handy, then you have tape ready without having to free up hands to cut it while trying to hold a dressing in place. The non-stick gauze is impregnated with petroleum jelly (Vaseline), which will make it stay in place so your hands are free. It will also make it not stick to the wound when you remove it later. And it keeps the wound bed moist to promote healing. (Sorry Ivy, who hates the word “moist” almost as much as “mouth feel”.) The roller gauze soaks up some fluids and keeps the Vaseline from attracting dust and grit in the air. The band net holds it all in place. It works well over elbows and knees, where it is hard to get dressings to stay. Cut it longer than you think you need.
  • Broken collar bones are the bane of cyclists. See a doctor for that. The treatment advice I have would make this too long and I’d rather do it face-to-face.
  • Broken ribs are likely if you are older or crash hard. Treatment is mostly pain control. In the old detective movies, the hero got kicked in the ribs, stumbled back to his office, and had his secretary wrap yards of adhesive tape around his chest. He’d head right back out to the streets and bring down the bad guy.
    Broken ribs hurt way too much for that. Plus, the old adhesive tape technique increases the risk of pneumonia. You have to breathe and the chest wall has to stay mobile. Ibuprofen is not recommended, as it slows the growth of new bone, so retards healing. Lidocaine patches can help with pain. The bad news is that they only work for 12 hours, then you need 12 hours off before they are effective again. Kinesio-tape can help with the pain and swelling from rib fractures. It can stay in place for several days.
    Apply the tape as shown. Round all corners so it is less likely to peel. Apply the tape as shown in the picture below. The two pieces should cross over the area of greatest pain. There should be no tension on the tape. Rub it to activate the adhesive (which requires mild heat). The photo below is taping over a bruise. Same concept for ribs; the central point of the lattice should be the area of greatest pain.
  • I should probably add that, if you have to provide CPR, Good Samaritan laws prevent you from being sued if you make your best effort. Get trained on CPR and use of AED. Both can be done without training – it beats watching someone die. What is written here is not training. I’m not going to fit a ½ day course into a paragraph; and I’m not qualified to train you. You can do compressions only without breathing. Check for a pulse first. Don’t do CPR on someone whose heart is beating. They won’t like it and it won’t help. CPR requires effort – deep and fast. About 2-2 ½ inches deep and 100-120 times/minute. My trainers taught me to sing “Stayin’ Alive” or “Another One Bites the Dust” to keep the tempo. For most people, the former is probably a better choice; though if I woke up to my rescuer singing the latter to me, I’d be happy. It is not comfortable for the patient. Ribs may be broken. As my friend said after he came back to life, “My chest really hurts. I think she broke my ribs. But don’t tell her anything. She saved my life and I’m not complaining.”
the legs running diagonally up and to the right are a little short…

COVID-19

copyright Jay Ward Productions

On another note, our Fearless Leader told us about the “beautiful” test for COVID-19. I don’t know about his definition of beauty, but that’s a mighty long swab that goes into your nostril. If your nasal passages didn’t curve, it would come out the back of your head. Luckily, it’s a very flexible swab. It tickles but it doesn’t hurt. If you need the test, get tested. If not, save the test for those who do need it, as the supply is limited despite what Fearless Leader says.

After insisting he didn’t need the test, he announced on a Friday night that he’d just been tested. I haven’t been able to determine how long it actually takes to perform the test. The CDC website is vague on this. On the day I was tested I was told it would take 4-5 days to get results. Maybe it’s faster if you’re the President. (And mine came back in 72 hours, per the original estimate.)

If that sounds like a confession, it is.

This reminds me of the HIV/AIDS crisis in San Francisco in the 1980s. Anonymous testing centers were set up throughout the city. Test results only went in your medical record if you volunteered them. Everyone wanted to be tested but no one wanted their results known. To have AIDS as a pre-existing condition meant the end of health insurance for you; not to mention the end of your love life. People didn’t want to come near you. No one would touch you. Treatment was still experimental. Life span was considered limited. When I had a mysterious illness in 1993, my doctor’s first actions were to test for HIV and TB. (I had neither – and I had been monogamous since my first negative test, when my partner insisted we be tested before having sex.)

Now (at least temporarily) insurance is not an issue. At the time I am writing this, I am in “self-quarantine”. Before you read it, my negative result will be back and I will no longer be a pariah. I came down with a cold after visiting an ill family member in Minnesota. Many of my co-workers also had colds and missed some work. That is pretty normal for this time of year. What is not normal is for me to be sick enough to miss work. That hasn’t happened in years. I’m sure my resistance was lowered by my surgery this winter. I lost my voice but didn’t really feel all that sick. I started riding the bus to work instead of riding my bike, in order to save energy, and because my dormant asthma was beginning to raise its ugly head. I was able only to whisper most of the day, which was what convinced me to stop working until I could talk again. I had to sleep sitting up. I was inhaling Albuterol in order to sleep without coughing. On Thursday I was diagnosed with an acute asthma exacerbation secondary to an acute upper respiratory infection (a cold). I was placed on a five day dose of oral prednisone and told to return to work on Saturday. I did not meet criteria for COVID-19 testing.

On Friday evening, Employee Health placed me on paid administrative leave. I was ordered to undergo COVID-19 testing and not return to work until a negative result was posted and they notified my supervisor in writing that I was cleared to return to work. I was to self-quarantine. Note that this was now two weeks after I had gotten sick and the night before I was planning to return to work. I was clearly improving, and was told I would improve greatly after the second day of steroids. They could not yet tell me when a test would be available. Note that this was days after our president claimed that the beautiful test was available to anyone who wanted it. I, as a front-line health care worker, did not yet have access to the test.

On Saturday, I was called and instructed to report for testing. I was greeted by a doctor, RN, and CNA, all dressed in disposable gowns, gloves, and masks. They all placed face shields when we entered the testing room. Swabs were inserted though my nostrils to my nasopharynx (back of the throat, farther down than you’ve ever reached, or maybe thought possible). They were held there for 10 seconds to soak up some goop. That was it. Now go home and wait.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/3/14/1927440/-Coronavirus-A-Letter-from-Italy?detail=emaildkre (People in Italy singing together, from their balconies, while on lockdown.)

I decided life was not surreal enough so I decided to watch The Twilight Zone. Season one, episode one was called, “Where is Everybody?” A man walks into a town with signs of recent (as in moments ago) life, but there seems to be no one around. The streets here look something like that now. It was the perfect choice. https://ytcropper.com/cropped/FC5e7007b47e54c

My neighborhood library branch was to have a grand re-opening in a new location last weekend. The grand opening was canceled, but the library was to open anyway. Monday it was closed due to staffing shortages. At least I got to see the outside, complete with covered bike parking. And I got to ride my bike for the first time in 2 ½ weeks. It felt great! (And later that day they announced that all libraries were closing effective Tuesday, 3/17.)

Now I know I don’t have COVID-19. I still can’t work because I can’t talk without coughing. The prednisone has not worked its magic. I can’t tell that it did anything of benefit. I can’t very well wear a sign that says “I’m negative!” so as not to scare people when I cough. Sort of the anti-Hester Prynne. While I don’t have it, that does not put me at any less risk of getting it now. While I’m no longer quarantined, that doesn’t make life much different.

The airlines are asking for a federal bailout. The banks and investors are buoyed up by slashed interest rates. Meanwhile, all of my neighborhood restaurants are closed. Some of them allow curbside pick up, but you can’t go inside. Most of those employers don’t provide paid sick leave. Some are doing it voluntarily right now. Who is going to prop them up? They don’t have billions in reserves.

Giro d’Italia

The Giro d’Italia, previously scheduled for May, has been postponed indefinitely.

I could have sworn I had used this clip already, but the WordPress search feature didn’t find it, nor did my manual search. Adrian Monk suddenly looks positively normal.https://ytcropper.com/cropped/FP5e70248033472. As usual, if you only read this in email, you see only my words and miss the good stuff.

As Walter Cronkite used to say: