Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The US CDC Ebola Guidelines in Plain English

The United States Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Ebola Guidelines in plain English:

·       Although we have been spending most of our ample time and buckets of money at the CDC worrying about traffic light safety, size of helpings at McDonald’s, obesity in lesbians, and sedentary lifestyles, we have found a few people in the basement back by the service entrance who keep an eye now and then on communicable disease and we have consulted with them.

·       Listen to us because we are trained professionals and we know what we’re talking about.

·       You cannot catch Ebola sitting next to someone on a bus, unless you’re in West Africa where the person next to you might actually have Ebola.

·       There is no reason to avoid public transportation in the US, because you cannot catch Ebola on a bus or a plane.

·       If someone on a bus or plane sneezes or coughs near you, we’d look at your situation.

·       If you have Ebola or have been exposed, do not travel on a bus or a plane.

·       The nurse who cared for the Liberian Ebola patient should not have traveled on an airplane before she got sick.

·       We do not recommend travel restrictions because it will not matter if more people with Ebola enter this country.

·       Stopping more people from coming to this country from Ebola hot zones won’t completely protect all Americans, so it is not worth doing.

·       Restricting travelers from Ebola hot zones from entering this country would prevent us from sending aid to those countries since all medical aid from the US to the Ebola countries must be balanced by Ebola-infected people entering the US.

·       Restricting travelers from Ebola hot zones from entering this country might hurt the economies of those countries, so we should not interfere with the free movement of people even if they have Ebola.

·       Restricting travelers from Ebola hot zones from entering this country would be racist since the Ebola outbreak is in Africa, so we should not interfere with the free movement of people even if they have Ebola.

·       Listen to us because we are trained professionals and we know what we’re talking about.

·       Our personal protection protocol for Ebola health care workers is 100% effective.

·       Ebola is a hard disease to catch, unless you’re a highly-trained nurse following our personal protection protocol.

·       The nurses who followed our protocol but who nevertheless contracted Ebola must have breached protocol.

·       We don’t know how the nurses breached protocol.

·       We really just know that our protocol is 100%.

·       Even though our protocol is really, really 100% effective, we’ll now look at improving it.

·       Ebola is a very hard disease to catch and trust us, we are trained professionals and we know what we’re talking about.  We have top men, top men, working on this.  After all, why would we fudge the truth?

R Balsamo

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cruising Up North in Michigan – Part Three: Hemingway Country

On our recent trip Up North in Michigan, we spent a few days in Petoskey, a fine little town on Lake Michigan's Little Traverse Bay which, among other things, sits in Hemmingway country.

I grew up near Hemingway’s boyhood home in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, and I went to high school there as well (though at a different school than Hemingway's).  Because of his particular local fame I have had a passing interest in his life and writing, although I am not especially partial to his style which I find excessively sparse and metaphorical.  I have though enjoyed his semi-autobiographical (which of his work is not, for that matter) Nick Adams short stories, about a sometimes barely-fictionalized boy and young man growing up in northern Michigan. 

On this trip we did not make it over to the Walloon Lake – Horton Bay area, a short distance outside Petoskey.  Hemingway spent twenty summers there starting when he was practically a newborn.  Early on he stayed with his family at their summer cottage on Walloon Lake.  Later his parents bought additional property on the opposite shore and developed a truck farm there that Hemingway worked for a few years as a teenager.  He would rough it in a tent on that side of Walloon Lake, and gravitated for meals and company to nearby Horton Bay, a small settlement a few miles west down the road on neighboring Lake Charlevoix.  Later on at 20 years old, after his return from his WWI experience in Italy, he spent one autumn and early winter in a Petoskey boarding house, as the cottage was too cold and he chose not to return to Oak Park to stay with his parents.    

At Horton Bay Hemingway met two siblings named Smith who would figure large in his life.  They were from St Louis but spent some summers in the area with a rich aunt.   He would have an affair with Kate Smith, a beautiful girl who would go on to introduce him to two of her girlfriends who would become his first two wives and the mothers of his three sons.  Bill Smith became a close friend.  Later, Hemingway would live for a while on Chicago’s near north side in the apartment of the oldest Smith sibling, Kenley, who would introduce him to some literary figures who would set him off on his career.  One of these was Sherwood Anderson, who entranced Hemingway with stories of his recent time in Paris among the “Lost Generation” and encouraged the young man to move there (which of course he soon did).  As an aside, some years later, after Hemingway was married to his second wife and living in Key West, Kate Smith came to visit both her friends and there met Hemingway’s pal and fellow writer John Dos Passos, whom she soon married.

Hemingway married his first wife in a small church on the shore of Lake Charlevoix in Horton Bay.  After their honeymoon at his family's cottage on Walloon Lake, the couple left to live in Chicago near Kenley Smith.  Less than three months later they moved to Paris.  Although his experiences in northern Michigan with family, friends, lovers, and the outdoors would loom large in his writings, Hemingway returned to the area only once more in his life, for a short time when he was about 50 years old.    

I have particularly enjoyed the biography of Hemingway’s early life – "Along With Youth" by Peter Griffin.  I have also read parts of, and relied upon, "Hemingway: A Biography" by Jeffrey Meyers.

R Balsamo

Part One here; Part Two here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cruising Up North in Michigan – Part Two

Heading north from Crystal Lake we quickly entered the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the large, sprawling federally-protected area of coastal dunes stretching for miles along the shoreline.  Although large sand dunes can be found all over the Great Lakes, they are particularly prominent along the southern and eastern shore of Lake Michigan.  We in fact began our trip not far from another great stretch of dunes, those in Indiana at the southern tip of the Lake, where much of them are now enclosed in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  The most majestic of all the Great Lakes dunes are said to line the northwest lower peninsula of Michigan. 

We took a short detour off M-22 to find a special area called the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, a federal park with a seven-mile paved lane that winds through the woods atop a stretch of high dunes.  The scenic overlooks are stunning – Lake Michigan is on one side and inland Glen Lake is close-by on the other.  At the entrance to the park visitors must stop at a small booth to pay an admission fee.  We were greeted there by a very friendly park ranger.  He was so friendly in fact that we waited about five minutes while he engaged in a seemingly quite pleasant chit chat with the folks in the car ahead.  We later saw that those people were an elderly couple, with plates from an eastern state, so apparently both parties had much to talk about.  The wait was well worth it.

An inland lake -- Glen Lake -- in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
The Sleeping Bear Dunes is a rolling landscape of very high sand dunes, one section of which, to Indians and early explorers alike, looked from out in the Lake like a giant recumbent bear. 

Trees, grasses, and other plants surprisingly can grow in the dunes by sending roots far down for water and anchorage.  Here a clump of trees stand tall in the sand against the winds:

I had been there once before, as a boy on a car trip around Lake Michigan with my parents and brother.  I remember being awestruck by the height of the dunes.  My brother and I found them irresistible and so slid and tumbled all the way down to the bottom far below.  Once at the water’s edge, I remember looking back up and wondering how the heck we were going to get back to the top.  It took a while.

From high atop a great dune, South and North Manitou Islands are clearly visible:

South (left) and North Manitou Islands
Reluctantly we left the national park, regained Highway M-22, and continued north into the Leelanau Peninsula (the little finger of Michigan’s mitten-shaped lower peninsula).  We passed through Glen Arbor and other scenic lakeside towns and finally stopped in Leland, which is the terminus of the ferry to the Manitou Islands.  Leland was a great place to stretch our legs, order fresh Lake Michigan whitefish, and sample wines at the tasting room of a Leelanau winery.  We had had a first visit just last year when we met up with friends who had boated across the Lake from Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin, out way over the horizon.  

The distance to the Manitou Islands is almost 18 miles.  An old friend tells me that as a younger man he kayaked from Leland to South Manitou Island.  I suppose I believe him. 

Leland; the ferry terminal is the small brown building in the left center
We continued on M-22, first north further into the Leelanau peninsula, then inland for a short while until we hit Grand Traverse Bay at the other side of the peninsula, where the road then took us south, with the beautiful Bay on our left, into Traverse City where we spent the night.
[Part 1 is here.]

R Balsamo