Sunday, August 8, 2021

Quit Your Whining and Get Vaccinated

If I hear, “oh, they made it too fast” one more time, I’m going to bop somebody upside the head. It’s not like the drug companies made the COVID-19 vaccines in a garage–although good things, like Apple computers, have come out of garages. Then again, people make meth in garages and some folks suck it up without complaining about how long it took the drug dealer to make it.

As for the COVID-19 vaccines, they were actually made by folks who know what they’re doing. Vaccines have been around since the 1700s, although early vaccines were a lot more scary than what we have now.

Back to the whiners. Here’s the main problem with so many slackers, you’re affecting the rest of us and ensuring the virus and its variants will be with us for a very long time. Truth is, most of you whiners would been dead before you hit 40 years old if visionaries hadn’t figured out that vaccinating people saved lives.

Raise your hand if you got measles, mumps, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, or polio shots. All in all, I doubt there are many U.S. citizens who haven’t had multiple vaccinations during their life. Shots that kept them from contracting debilitating and deadly diseases.

According to an old school record, by the time I was a year old, I’d had smallpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus vaccines. Which means my brothers and I got measles and mumps as kids. I remember getting the polio vaccine in elementary school. Yep, they just lined us up and gave it to us. By the time I got it, they were soaking the vaccine in a sugar cube. So we ate the vaccine.

My dad was in the Navy and he got orders for an accompanied tour to Malta when I was about 8 yrs old. That meant he could bring his family. I don’t know how many weekly visits to the medical clinic we made to get all sorts of shots.

I probably got a smallpox booster shot because it hadn’t been eradicated worldwide yet. In case you didn’t know it, eradicating small pox was a tremendous feat of modern medicine and global corporation. Imagine defeating a horrible disease that killed or disfigured millions of humans for centuries. Traces of small pox have been found on Egyptian mummies so it had a long run.

Years later, I accompanied my Army spouse on a tour to Germany. Another round of shots for me and our daughter. Not nearly as many as I got to travel to Malta, but it was twenty years later.

When I learned a vaccine for shingles and pneumonia was waiting for me when I hit the right age bracket, there I was, sleeve rolled up! I tripped and cracked my knee cap a couple of years ago. Was my tetanus up to date? Nope. Not a problem, here’s my arm! They gave me a DTap for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis in the ER.

Just one of the lovely vaccines we have to fight infection and disease. All brought to you by medical researchers and infectious disease doctors. I don’t know why some people seem to think these guys just sit around twiddling their thumbs while various diseases run rampant.

Can you picture yourself running toward the outbreak of a disease like Ebola? That’s what many infectious disease doctors do. They go to hotbeds of disease to get data about the disease. Then medical researchers use that data to research and often create vaccines or medications that will help control the disease.

mRNA type vaccines such as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may be the newcomers on the block, but Dr. Katalin Kariko, an immigrant who escaped communist Hungary in 1985, was key in researching their use. Soon after arriving in the U.S., she began her research into mRNA vaccines. In those early years her work was overlooked and she was repeatedly refused government grants. Fortunately for humanity, she persevered in her research.

Maybe some folks think 35 years is too fast for vaccine development.

I say nay, nay.

Dr. Kariko shared her research and others also began following the mRNA path. All the research in the world doesn’t help if you’re told it’s not the traditional way to create a vaccine and you’re denied funding for clinical trials.

Then along comes a pandemic and the wealthy countries throw gobs of money at you because suddenly the world needs a vaccine against a deadly virus. You’re in the right place at the right time and the research you’ve been doing for years provides plenty of data for vaccine companies. And there’s the funding you could never get.

There have always been people against vaccines for one reason or another. Had everyone listened to them, the life span of the average human would still be 40 years.

Is that the world you want to live in?

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Goat Gonads and QAnon

There are a lot of outlandish claims floating around the Internet these days. They are so whackadoo I can't believe anyone would believe them. But then, I read the Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam by Pope Brock. It’s the story of a man named of John R. Brinkley. 

In 1917, John R. Brinkley–America’s most brazen con man–introduced an outlandish surgical method for restoring fading male virility. It was all nonsense, but thousands of eager customers quickly made “Dr.” Brinkley one of America’s richest men–and a national celebrity. 

Efforts to expose him “seemed only to spur Brinkley to new heights of ingenuity, and the worlds of advertising, broadcasting, and politics soon proved to be equally fertile grounds for his potent brand of flimflam. 

What was the outlandish surgical method?

How about let me cut you open and stick goat gonads in or near your sexual organs to increase virility in men or increase fertility in women.  

Doc with Saw

Brinkley claimed to be a doctor. He did attend medical school for about a week, but even in those days you needed more than a week of school to be a real doctor. The lack a degree didn’t bother Brinkley. He was a seasoned scam artist. He and his new wife went a town in Kansas that needed a doctor and set up a clinic.

This man killed a lot of goats, became internationally famous, and made pots of money.

He also took advantage of the recent development of the radio to broadcast his false medical claims far and wide. In fact, you could call in to his radio show and he would listen to your symptoms and prescribe a cure. Naturally, the cure was one of his tonics available for purchase, the sale of these tonics netted him thousands of dollars a week.

Think about it. Brinkley’s listeners heard him on the radio and believed his claims. No one fact checked him although one man did pursue evidence for years and eventually brought Brinkley down. There are no statistics on the number of people he killed because the patients left the clinic after the procedure and went home. There were a number of wrongful death lawsuits, but that didn’t slow Brinkley down too much. He had plenty of money for lawyers.

Let's face it, he implanted a foreign organ in people. The goat gonads were going to rot inside the patient’s body which can’t be healthy. Still, many patients claimed the procedure worked and that kept people coming to the clinic and kept Brinkley rich.

Of course, modern research has revealed people don’t like to admit when they’ve been conned.

Here we are, almost a century later and instead of the radio, we have the Internet. We also have a lot of folks believing an anonymous Internet person called QAnon who makes unfounded claims about various United States citizens, institutions, and political leaders. This person has never come forward and identified him or herself. Rather, this person, or computer artificial intelligence program, or Russian minion, or Chinese hacker makes unfounded accusations.

Since the statements are vague, a group of followers have taken it upon themselves to interpret them. Reminds me of all the Biblical scholars debating Revelations. Or people who try to figure out what Nostradamus meant in The Prophecies

The followers believe so deeply in this anonymous person’s prophecies, they  alienate themselves from friends and family. I base this observation on the fact that friends and family have readily identified and tipped off the FBI about QAnon followers from video and photos taken during the infamous attack on our Congress earlier this month.

Whoops. Off to jail the followers go. But not their leader. He or she or it has chosen anonymity to avoid any jail time for causing mayhem in this country. 

It seems to me, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Ninety years ago a portion of Americans were willing to allow Brinkley to cut open their scrotums and uteruses and insert goat gonads in their bodies. Today, a portion of Americans have chosen to believe an anonymous Internet person who claims to be the source of knowledge about our citizens, political leaders, and institutions. Rather than question the source, these Americans lay down on the table and let QAnon insert goat gonads into their brains. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Dysfunctional Halloween Yard Art

These days Halloween brings out some of the the best holiday decorations and some of the worst. To me, the best show some thought in their creation. Cemetery scenes complete with gravestones. Pumpkins arranged artfully on a porch. Skeletons dancing from tree limbs. Spiders crawling along the porch.

One detail underlies them–all the elements that comprise the scene are in proportion with each other. Sure, the spiders may be a little larger, but there are large spiders in real life, think tarantulas.

And then there’s what I like to call “dysfunctional yard art.”

Or what retailers calls, “Inflatable Blow Up Stuff.” Well, they use descriptors like inflatable ghost or pumpkin, but you get the idea.

This inflatable crap comes in every possible Halloween shape and size. I’ve yet to see any rhyme or reason to how folks scatter the stuff across their front yard. No creative thought hinders the decorating process. Just blow up whatever you bought this week and put it into the yard.

Thus, a one-foot spider stands beside a seven-foot pumpkin with a two-foot trick or treater lurching toward the front porch. Which is, of course, framed with the nine-foot haunted house archway.

Often during the night, disaster strikes. The arrival of morning reveals the bobbing inflatables have…deflated. A bloodless massacre fills the yard which is littered with mounds of flattened witches, ghosts, pumpkins, and skeletons. A deflated heap of bright plastic colors.

That’s not all that flattens these inflatables, there’s also the problem of a pop-up thunderstorm. Wind and rain are no friends of inflatable decorations. If the homeowner fails to deflate the figures, the storm takes care of it.

Since people persist in filling their yard with this stuff, the least the manufacturers could do is offer their customers a starter kit. This kit could contain a scene of proportional Halloween figures for the decorating impaired. The company would probably increase their sales with these kits. They could also include a scene schematic. This way the person who insists this is the best way to decorate a yard might actually achieve some sort of picturesque scene that compliments each inflatable.

If you haven’t guessed, I believe size does matter when you fill your yard with inflatable blow up stuff.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Latest Trend: Taking Medical Advice from Politicians

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to start taking medical advice from a politician. Now a doctor can be elected to a political office, thereby becoming a doctor who is also a politician. But I can’t see a person with no medical training being imbued with medical knowledge because he or she was elected to office. You don’t become President/doctor if you have no medical training.

Not only generic medical training, but infectious disease medical training.

Yeah, I’m talking COVID-19, but geez, isn’t everybody?

What gets me is that all of a sudden, politicians are the arbitrators of this country’s health. Obviously, trusting your local, state, or federal politicians has not proven to be a healthy choice. If it was, millions of citizens would not be infected with the coronavirus and thousands would not be dead.

Believing coronavirus is going to just “disappear” is the height of stupidity. This country has been wrapped in a health bubble for decades, but diseases do not just “go away.” Are you ready to see what’s still waits if we didn’t have vaccines and drugs to mitigate their effect? 

Which brings me to the wearing of face masks to help prevent the spread of a highly contagious respiratory virus. Many people do not realize our public health system is 

authorized to use laws to promote and protect public health. All those people fussing about wearing masks because it’s against the U.S. Constitution, obviously haven’t bothered to read said Constitution. In fact, all they have to do is read the Preamble which clearly states the goals of our government.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

One of the stated goals of our Constitution is general welfare…hmmmm, would that maybe refer to such items as health? And well-being? Isn’t that the very definition of general welfare?

Thus, the mandates to wear a mask are supported by the Constitution since wearing a mask is clearly a way to promote the general welfare of our citizens.

Here’s the deal. If you believe politicians are more trustworthy than medical experts, you may not go to a doctor when you get pneumonia, or bronchitis, or break a bone. No, to honor your belief system you can take yourself right off to your State House or Governor’s Mansion, or even the White House.

Once there, you just need to find a politician to take care of you. And if he or she says, “don’t worry, that broken bone will just ‘disappear’” why you’ll have to agree, won’t you? After all, you decided in 2020 you didn’t need to heed advice from infectious disease experts. That politicians were your go-to source of medical knowledge.

Of course, you’ve got to survive the pandemic, first.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Zooming in on Imperfections

It’s not enough we’re all worried about contacting a contagious, often deadly virus, now many of us have to contend with looking at ourselves up close and personal on a computer screen.

Hours of this type of torture make folks overly aware of what they believe are visual flaws. Was my left eyebrow always a little higher than the right? OMG, that crooked tooth is soooo crooked. Do I really look that old? I thought I was aging rather well, but all I can see are a lot of wrinkles.

Unhappy with what they see reflected on the screen of whatever device they use, teleworkers ran screaming to their local cosmetic surgeon the minute the window in their country/state/city allowed elective surgery. According to the surgeons, these folks knew exactly what they wanted, too. After all, they’d spent hours of their lockdown/stay-at-home mandate to research it.

When the U.S. reopened in April, cosmetic surgeons went back to work with a vengeance. Americans wanted boob jobs, liposuction, and botox.

Boob jobs? What? Why? Do they think their breasts are small because they’re watching themselves in a tiny square on a laptop screen? Or, oh my gosh, on a tablet? Or even worse, their phone?

I’m not teleworking, but I have been to several Zoom meetings. All I usually see is the head and shoulders of the participants. Which makes me wonder about the uptick in liposuction. Can a doctor suck the fat from your face and shoulders?

Botox, I understand. It’s used to smooth out facial wrinkles. Faces are very much a part of video conferencing.

Americans aren’t the only ones having work done on their perceived flaws. The number of cosmetic surgery procedures jumped in England and Australia, too. Brits prefer nose jobs while the Aussies lean toward face lifts and nose jobs. No bigger boobs for these people.

With the number of COVID-19 cases blowing through the roof in the USA, I think the elective surgery window recently slammed shut again. Beds and PPE are needed for the more serious problem of treating COVID-19 patients.

For those who want cosmetic surgery, reducing the number of COVID-19 infections should be high on your to do list. Level that ominous curve long enough and you’ll be able to have cosmetic surgery. So wear a mask and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

In case you’re waiting to have your body updated, never fear, there are ways to improve your looks while teleconferencing.

First of all, you can always turn off the photo option. That way others just see a blank square. Or you can situate yourself in front of a bright window. You’ll be so shadowy the others won’t be able to see that turkey neck you just realized you had. Or you can fill the area behind you with lots of stuff . Beanie baby collection? Star Wars Lego starships? The display will captures your co-workers attention, diverting it from noticing you and all your flaws. Of course, you’ll have to periodically change the display to keep your audience’s attention away from your face.

If you’re using your phone, hold it away from your face with a selfie stick. Just remember, the smaller you are, the less likely any flaws will be noticed.

For many workers in the USA, teleworking and video conferences are probably here to stay no matter how the COVID-19 pandemic plays out. Sounds like good news for cosmetic surgery doctors.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Trump Rally Travel Kit

I know, I'm not an artist, but stock photos make me think I am. And I've found while it's difficult to write humorous columns, it's really easy to think of humorous political cartoons.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Who Notices Gorillas, Basketball, and Choco-Plum Hair?

(Somewhere between the 2019 holidays, rescuing two dogs (one a puppy who is sort of house trained after 2 months and little sleep–for me), and COVID-19, I got off track with Miss Mabel. Still, humor is a needed at a time like this so I delved into my essay book and thought I’d share one of my more popular columns with you.) 


“I have purple hair.”

“It makes you look younger,” Elizabeth said.

I stared in the mirror. Purple hair doesn’t make anyone look younger unless you have an arm tattoo and nose ring. And the purple would need to be a bright, neon purple, not dark purple.

I ignored Elizabeth and looked at Angeline, the person who turned my hair purple. “I have purple hair. Do something.”

“I should never have picked up that last bottle,” she murmured. “Not to worry, it’s semi-permanent color. We’ll wash it out.”

She washed. 

And washed. 

And washed. 

Then said, “Hmmmmmm.”  

I followed her back to the styling chair and looked in the mirror. “My hair’s still purple.” I could hear panic creeping into my voice. 

“Washing should have cut the intensity.” Angeline studied my head, weighed her options, then disappeared into her laboratory of bottled dreams. A few minutes later she emerged with another foaming concoction. 
“This should tone it down a bit,” she promised.

Like a lamb led to the sacrificial altar, I followed her back to the shampoo bowl. Within ten minutes, I had choco-plum hair and a raw scalp. 

Angeline dried my hair, fluffing, curling, promising. “Once it’s dry, it’ll be a little lighter.”

Fact: choco-plum is choco-plum wet or dry. Wet, it is dark choco-plum. Dry, it is light choco-plum. Best guess,  a nanosecond of color intensity separates the two. 

“Remember, it’s semi-permanent color.” Angeline spritzed hair spray on my choco-plum head. “It washes out. What I want you to do is wash it tomorrow with Tide detergent.”


Angeline nodded. “Detergent strips color. And then call me and tell me if it helps. I can fix this, I just need time to think of what to do. If I can’t work you in tomorrow, I know I can fix it on Thursday.”

Two days. Forty-eight hours as a choco-plum. I had no real plans for the next couple of days because I was working on a newsletter I write for a local company. I could hide out in my  home office for two days. After I ran some errands today.
Four quick stops stood between me and safety. First, I dropped off a news clipping at a friend’s business. He wasn’t there. I opted for a quick breezy visit, hoping his secretary wouldn’t notice the head of salt and pepper hair she had seen the previous week was now choco-plum. She didn’t say anything.

Next came the copy center. A strange look, but no comment by an employee who sees me often. Then the credit union. No odd looks, no comments. Finally, the post office. 

Now these people know me well. I spend so much at the post office, I should buy stock in it. But the postal clerk smiled a greeting and completed the transaction without even looking at my hair. Hmmmmmm. Maybe something I heard discussed on National Public Radio is accurate: People aren’t very observant.

It seems this university researcher decided to test how observant humans are. He set up a situation where two teams of three people each pass a basketball around. The subject watching the game is told to count how many times the team wearing the white shirt have the ball. 

The timer goes off and the players start tossing the ball around. About a minute into the test, a man dressed in a gorilla costume weaves his way through the players who continue to pass the ball around him. He disappears. The players continue tossing the ball, the subject is still counting how many times the team wearing white gets the ball. After the timer signals an end to the experiment, the subject is asked if he/she saw a gorilla during the game. About 60% of the people tested don’t see the gorilla!

As I drove home, I thought how well my experience reflected this research. People don’t notice the obvious, like a person with purple hair. 

When I got home, Bob took one look at my choco-plum hair and said, “What happened to your hair?”  

No gorilla could join his basketball game and go unnoticed.
No choco-plum haired wife can show up in his house without comment. 

“Don’t worry,” I hurried to placate him. “Angeline is working on it. Two days tops as a choco-plum.”

Early the next morning, I washed my hair with Tide. As soon as Angeline got to work, I called her. “My hair is still purple.”

“I had a cancellation. Can you be here at 11?”

Three hours later I was back in the familiar chair looking in the familiar mirror while Angeline shared her brain storm with me.

“I’m going to lift the color out.”

Hmmmmmm. That sounded good. I’d be salt and pepper haired within an hour. 

After she smeared goop all over my raw scalp, I found out that “lifting color” does not mean the choco-plum will disappear and leave my natural hair color in its place. It means the dark stuff will be lifted, but a reddish blonde color will remain. 

When she whipped the towel off my head, I stared into the mirror. Even without my glasses I could tell what color my hair was. “Angeline, my hair is red.”

“Strawberry blonde. And don’t worry, Elizabeth gave me a great idea.”

One hour later my red hair had been streaked with brown-blonde highlighting. In all truth, the results were lovely. Had I been a person remotely able to have blonde hair, it would have been great. But that’s the problem, changing your hair color doesn’t change your skin tone, or eyebrows, or eyelashes.

Blessed with black eyebrows, going blonde had never occurred to me. And I soon found out why. Blonde gives my complexion an odd hue that can only be toned down by wearing navy or black. I can’t wear any of my favorite colors such as hot pink, fuchsia, or red. But the hair color itself looks great. 

After Angeline turned me into a blonde bombshell, I went home. Bob was waiting to see the results. He took one look, shook his head, and said, “I don’t know why women go through all that. I like you the way you were.”  

Surprisingly, I agree. I never thought I’d want to be gray, but after looking at this weird blonde with black eyebrows several weeks, gray doesn’t seem too bad. 

Gray with a little dash of highlights to brighten my fading locks. Make them shinier, less drab. Whoops, that’s where we were headed when Angeline picked up one bottle too many. Hmmmmmm. I wonder what my hair would look like if she hadn’t picked up that last bottle?  

But now I know only Bob and 40% of my friends and acquaintances will notice, no matter what we do to my hair.