Friday, August 14, 2020

Gloom, despair, and disappearing mailboxes

Spoiler alert: I am going to reveal some of my vulnerabilities and shortcomings below, thereby potentially burnishing my golden reputation for strength and stability. So if you don’t want to be disabused of your glowing perception of my perfectionism, cease and desist!

“Gloom, despair, and agony on me. Deep, dark depression, excessive misery.” It’s an old song, recognizable to my generation. It cycles through my mind.

It’s easy to get depressed during a pandemic. I try to keep up with friends who live alone, to make sure they know they are cherished by at least one person despite the distance. I understand how lonely and discouraging it can get.

I am not invulnerable, despite having a dinner companion and someone to watch my back. For example, today I got bad news: a possible plumbing leak at my rental condo (in the converted church). I know that Pope will try to support me through the ordeal, and stay nearby if tears flow. But the responsibility is mine.

Tears have been flowing easily. Not from loneliness per se, though it feels like I am alone in my troubles. Sound familiar?

Mostly, it’s despair at the shanghaied election process, the vile behavior of anti-maskers, the endless stream of problems that cannot be solved easily because of pandemic closures, reduced services, and reluctance to allow service personnel into my safe space. Equally depressing: we do not receive mail for long blocks of time, then a stack arrives all at once. The longest period was 7 days. We are getting other people's mail. The dismantling of postal service is real -- even 8 blocks from the US Capitol.

I know that not all readers of my blog share my political views. I forgive you, and hope that we can remain civil and respectful. I have handwritten, addressed, and stamped 800 election reminders to voters, hoping they will choose my favored candidates. Now, I have no confidence they will reach their intended recipients, because of corruption and malicious intent by the opposition. You may disagree with my politics, but my feelings are real. Tears of anger.


I have a friend who moved to Virginia last week and wants to vote. But DMV appointments to change an address and get a Real ID are not available until late October, and the deadline for voter registration changes is mid-October. I tried to help solve this problem. Tears of frustration.

Returning to the previous address to vote is not feasible. Voting by mail is ridiculous: the slim chance of a ballot application using the old address arriving at a short-staffed office, a ballot being forwarded from the old address to the new address by an unreliable USPS, and a completed ballot getting returned to election officials in time, by the same handcuffed USPS -- all around the same time frame that the DMV official address change is taking effect -- well, let’s just leave it at “ridiculous.”

There probably are workarounds. But why should someone have to work so hard to vote? Because some people want to prevent other people from voting. The first set of people are more powerful than the second set of people. It’s a recipe for anxiety, anger, despair. Tears on behalf of the friend, myself, and all citizens affected by comparable dilemmas due to the sorry mess our country is in.

Finally, a source of tears and fears that I bet is not at all unusual: I wake up coughing every few days. I get hot flashes, chills, nausea, and lightheadedness. My head aches.

These might be attributable to allergies, hormone imbalances, hot weather, fluctuations in blood pressure, dehydration, stress. Who knows. In a time of pandemic, however, my mind flashes like lightning to the perfect storm: coronavirus.

 Gloom, despair, and at least a little depression. Can anyone relate?







Friday, August 7, 2020

It’s A(nother) Lost Cause

Are you familiar with the Lost Cause? If not, you may be ignorant of, or possibly denying, a large part of US history. This shameful period is rarely described in history books, because it isn’t over.

Lost Cause began with glorification of the southern cause in the Civil War and a call for restoring white supremacy, including denying Blacks their gains after the war in getting paid jobs, public office, and the right to vote. It continued with Jim Crow laws and continued denial of the civil rights enshrined in Constitutional amendments. It has taken a century and the deaths of many public leaders to repeal these laws and reduce these sinful practices. Agonizingly slowly. Like pulling teeth. 

In fact, lynchings and hangings were never outlawed because Senator Rand Paul prevented passage of an anti-lynching bill in Congress this spring and summer. 155 years after the Civil War.

That’s right, folks. In August 2020, lynching is still not a federal crime because of entrenched anti-Black sentiment in the United States. 

So why is anyone confused about the frustration that led to Black Lives Matter? How can anyone deny this nation’s deplorable, dishonorable, and decidedly un-Christian present, let alone its heinous past?

Are you part of the solution, or entrenched in a sordid and shameful history? 

Could the current era of corruption, racism, and denial of civil and civic rights become another Lost Cause, despite the protests and calls for change — by only half of our nation? If so, which side will you be on?

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Importance of Education. Are You Sure?

What’s the big deal with getting everybody back to textbooks and exams?  What’s the harm in allowing a little delay in learning?

It hasn’t been many generations since going to school was not a sure thing in the US. For instance, my mother only went to school until 4th grade and my father started in a one-room schoolhouse with six students — both in white, rural Michigan.

Impoverished minority communities lacked proper schools and supplies, and some had none, until very recently. The gaps continue and are well documented.

Outside the US, there are many countries and regions where school is not a given, especially for girls, minorities, lower classes, and lower castes. Children are put to work at a young age instead of going to school. 

What are these dire consequences that would occur if education worldwide gets postponed for a while? It seems that the bigger problem, at least in the US, is parents needing relief from child care. If that’s the real reason, why not address the problem differently? Such as staggered work schedules for parents, partnering with neighbors for child care (i.e., expanding quarantine units for this purpose). Some private schools are already reconfiguring — very small numbers, staggered schedules (by weeks, not hours), plexiglass barriers, distance, ventilation.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said in early August that the world is facing a “generational catastrophe” due to school closures. See the UN statement, linked here.

In interviews, he also called the coronavirus pandemic “the largest disruption of education ever.” I challenge that statement. What about wars, the plague, the 1918 pandemic? What about the centuries before pre-industrialization, before mass migration to cities, when most of the population lived on farms, and work vs. learning was subject to need, demand, ability, seasons, and weather? 

Maybe what he really meant was “in industrialized countries in recent decades.”

Guterres urged all countries to suppress the virus enough to allow schools to open. Well, duh. Of course that’s the ideal. But in reality, isn’t it likely (leaving aside political will for the moment) that some countries will be far more capable than others of accomplishing this, by throwing economic and digital resources at the problem, and thereby widening, rather than narrowing, educational disparities worldwide?

The US is technically capable but lacks the political will. So, is Guterres’ education “catastrophe” worse than the one that’s emerging in the US this week: massive superspreading events triggered by students crowding school classrooms and hallways?

How about this idea: throw economic and digital resources at the child care problem, and urge capable nations to let the school vacation continue until all nations are in a more solid position to resume education on a global scale. Let some nations catch up by slowing others down. Why not?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Voter Suppression Makes Me Very, Very Mad

My latest rant is not about old boats or the pandemic. If you only want to read about tragic sailing escapades and tropical lanes decked with bougainvillea, or even life in quarantine, please stop reading and come back another time. Today, my bugaboo is politics.

I rarely cared about politics until the last five or six years. That's one of the reasons my first husband gave up on me: I yawned through his tirades and was bored with All Things Considered, the NPR radio show he listened to every afternoon. He campaigned for Eugene McCarthy. My M.O. was to turn on some rock 'n' roll, go dancing, have fun. Politics? Nah. 

A few years ago, however, my current life partner, Pope, educated me about the Koch brothers and their systematic efforts--backed by millions of dollars--to suppress votes, legislate in favor of billionaires, pack the courts, and otherwise dismantle democracy. Then I read a New York Times Magazine profile of Kris Kobach, an extreme anti-voting-rights, anti-immigration politician. I felt chills. I was incensed!

Since then, one of the Koch brothers died. Otherwise, the roster of right-wing radicals working hard to take away our rights to equality and "liberty and justice for all" has only grown.

For several years I had been observing other things I don't like: 
-Vicious Facebook comments, especially from acquaintances in Michigan, about "liberal" policies I liked (now expanded to mask policies).
-Confirmation that the violence during "protests" is often fueled by white supremacists. This started long before BLM, with the first inauguration protests-- remember?
-Public officials advocating violence instead of negotiation, reaching across the aisle, and the Golden Rule. 

At the 2016 and 2018 elections, I overcame my shyness enough to do phone banking and door-to-door canvassing for Democratic candidates, hoping for a firm stomp on the growing lawlessness. I wrote postcards to voters.

Since #45 got elected, my fears increased to the point of overload. I worry about the entire future of democracy. I started going to weekly protests in downtown DC--then stopped because I was afraid of a mass shooting. (My fears have been realized with the "crackdowns" in Washington, DC, Portland and Seattle--not crazies with machine guns, but equivalent.)

One of the things that upset me the most was learning about the widespread efforts to deny people the vote. This feels to me like a vicious attack on American principles -- not to mention Christian values -- and a return to 19th-century-levels of discrimination. (Susan B. Anthony, we need you now.)

Long after the controversial 2018 election was over, with thousands of absentee ballots uncounted, the battle to restore ethics and democracy in elections continued, thanks partly to the efforts of defeated Secretary of State candidate Stacey Abrams of Georgia. In fact, this battle had already been raging for many years. It's just that many of us first became aware of it after 2018. Techniques to influence outcomes have become a fine art. First came gerrymandering, then voter IDs, requiring fixed addresses, and closing polling places.

Now, the situation is more dire than ever: we regularly see headlines about voter suppression. We know that safely voting in person is not feasible, and right-wing radicals may succeed in essentially shutting down mail service. Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, the Texas and Missouri governors, and, yes, Kris Kobach have publicly opposed mail-in voting for months, despite the pandemic. Their opposition is shrouded in the false guise of avoiding "voter fraud." The president is uncharacteristically forthright, acknowledging that the real reason is that it could hurt Republicans' chances to get elected. McConnell is playing his usual "Follow the Leader" game, mimicking the president.

If, like me, you are concerned about voter suppression, regardless of the specific measures that might be employed, I invite you to join me in supporting the various movements to make America democratic again. That's democratic with a small "d," not the name of the political party. Every citizen should care about democracy. At a minimum, they should stay informed, research the candidates, and be allowed to vote without undue obstacles or harassment.

Here are a few suggestions for getting up to speed quickly on the subject of voter suppression.

Start with these articles that came out of Georgia just after the 2018 midterm election: What We Must Do Now and Stacey Abrams Says She Was Almost Blocked From Voting.

If you can spare 5 more minutes, search Google for other articles by Greg Palast, an investigative journalist who has been documenting voter suppression for several years. No need to read all the articles--just browse the terrible headlines! 

Third, if you haven't lost your job and can spare a few bucks, donate to one of the groups fighting back against the continuing, aggressive anti-voter measures by prominent politicians. Those groups didn't give up when the midterm recounts ended despite thousands of uncounted mail-in votes. Their lawsuits against public officials and institutions will drag on for years. In the time of a pandemic, their battles are exponentially more difficult.

The ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center seem to be the most prominent advocates for voting rights. Common Cause continues to litigate the election process in Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida, as does the League of Women Voters.

I have donated to Four Directions in North Dakota, which battled to provide new voter IDs to Native Americans when the law was changed to require street addresses instead of post office boxes--just before the 2018 midterms. It's also possible to donate to Greg Palast's operating fund as he continues to investigate underhanded tactics by the likes of Brian Kemp, Kris Kobach, and the surviving Koch Brother

Keep an eye on Stacey Abrams, who may provide clues about the steps needed in the coming months to counteract voter oppression, despite where she ends up politically.

I would rather spend my time on music, yoga, fitness, genealogy, maybe watching travel documentaries--anything at all except politics. Ugh. Unfortunately, though, my blinders have been removed, and my motivations have changed: now I think engaging in the election process is the most important activity in which every US citizen can engage. I see clearly that voter suppression is just one prong of a pitchfork being leveled at democracy. Any of us could get stabbed.

So I reluctantly admit that my worldview has changed and my focus must change with it. Having fun and enjoying life, even surviving a deadly virus, needs to move out of the way and make room for educating myself and engaging in politics.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Life in the Hot Zone

Life changed quickly, a little over a month ago. Maybe for a while, maybe for good.

I know that all of you are practicing some version of isolation. In our household, we may be taking more extreme measures than others, because of Pope’s compromised immune system and, predictably, my perfectionism. I admit I am a little OCD about preventing contamination.

I walk every other day for exercise. The flowering trees have been delightful.
Pope visits his community garden plot. We have made two trips to a grocery store, two weeks apart. In between, I pick up milk and produce at a small, uncrowded organic market close to our house.

Each of those excursions invokes extreme measures. Before leaving, we don our armor. 

On the return – if a store was involved – we unpeel the protective gear, shower, throw clothes in the washer, disinfect shoe soles. Every item that enters the house—mail, packages, food, household supplies, face masks, latex gloves—gets cleaned with soap, disinfected with bleach, or set aside to allow any stray virus fragments to disintegrate. I can recite by heart the estimated time for the virus to break down on various materials.

Consequence: our house is a mess. Food and packages are stacked up just inside the door, grocery bags in a corner of the kitchen. Mail is left lying on the floor, under the mail slot.

The table by the door holds the few disinfecting supplies we were able to dig up in early March; now, it would be hopeless to try to find anything.

Gloves and masks are labeled by the date used and laid out to “dry”; i.e., self-decontaminate. Since we only have a few, we have to reuse them, just like the doctors and nurses in ICUs.

The bedroom floor has turned into my personal gym, with yoga mat, foam roller, weights, and a setup for viewing yoga and fitness classes on a laptop.

The living room has become Pope’s Netflix domain. Aside from an occasional excursion to the garden, he has become a couch potato. Soon, I predict, he’ll be online, ordering a bigger waist size.

Though Pope is a little bored, I am in high spirits. I have my guitar, books, and an endless supply of online classes – yoga, exercise, dance, cooking, blues guitar. Every day, dozens of musicians are live-streaming concerts from their homes, asking only for tips via PayPal or Venmo. Theaters are posting plays, operas, and concerts. Since I am not spending money going out, I donate.


Our windowsills are covered with seedlings. Soon it will be time to move plants outdoors and start the daily weeding and watering of our garden plot. Fortunately, the city of DC declared gardening an allowed activity. Community gardens stayed open. Garden centers offer online ordering and delivery, just like restaurants.

I feel extremely fortunate to be retired and able to enjoy a lot of these activities. I have also tackled long-term projects: updating my will, writing election postcards, and cleaning closets.

I am grateful for having a live-in companion who is intelligent, cooperative, and a good cook.

I hope that all of you are taking precautions, even if they aren’t as extreme as mine. If you are working from home, I hope you remember to look out at the trees and sky, and find time and resources for amusement. Sunshine on your shoulders, a glass of wine on your porch, an exercise class or concert can help ease loneliness, battle boredom, lift spirits.

Life changed quickly and will continue to evolve. For the foreseeable future, isolation will remain a dark cloud on our horizon. I have found the silver lining.

WHO? What? When?

The news from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this week has undoubtedly led many to wonder: what exactly is the role of the World Health Organization (WHO)? In my view, the answer is...muddled.

Earlier this week, headlines screamed the US statements from on high (quoted below) accusing the WHO of negligence. In light of the dates offered in those statements, I reviewed my earlier research on the  timeline of what was known early on about the novel coronavirus, published in this blog on March 22. It gives some perspective on the accuracy of the accusations against WHO. 

POTUS statement on April 14: “The WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts. There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate, and investigate immediately. Through the middle of January, it parroted and publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human-to-human transmission happening despite reports and clear evidence to the contrary. … The WHO pushed China’s misinformation about the virus, saying it was not communicable.”

My March 22 analysis of the timeline reveals that POTUS’ claim about “credible information... in December” is questionable. “Whistleblowers” within the medical community in Wuhan tried to warn their peers the last week in December and were shut up by local officials. WHO received the first report of a problem on December 31, from member-country China. 

It is true that, as late as January 12, WHO was falling in line with China’s claim that "there is no clear evidence that the virus passes easily from person to person." WHO did not add the words “not communicable.”

By January 19, after reports of travelers from China to Korea and Japan having contracted the virus, WHO had revised its wording: “it is possible that there is limited human-to-human transmission.” The very next day, WHO tweeted that such transmission was “very clear.” Interestingly, WHO's tweets during those crucial weeks were more dire than the "Disease outbreak news" items on its website.

This changing language is outlined in an April 17 Washington Post analysis of the POTUS statement. The Post offers its own timeline of events, and introduces a new player, Taiwan, which allegedly forwarded an email about the concerns of one of the Wuhan “whistleblowers” to WHO. POTUS appears to be seizing on that new information and putting his own spin on it, claiming that this email from Taiwan (a non-member country), sent to WHO on December 31—the same day WHO received an official, and less inflammatory, report from member-country China—should have prompted WHO to take a much closer look than it did.

The question indeed seems to be whether WHO “should have” gone into Wuhan and uncovered some tightly held facts about the expanding reach of the disease, either “in December”— even before the Wuhan whistleblowers got their message out?—or at least during the first two weeks of January. Is that a WHO role?

A look at the lengthy list of WHO disease outbreak news around the world is eye opening.

There’s a lot of disease in the world, and a lot of it is communicable. Clearly, WHO serves as an information clearinghouse, forwarding "reports" from member countries on a routine basis. Beyond that, it would be an extremely busy busybody if it actively investigated the details of each of the reports described in these dispatches. Does it do so routinely, and does it deploy medical detectives like those we are used to seeing on TV and in movies, who cleverly discover the facts despite official obfuscation and denial? That is not clear.

The WHO constitution states that member countries agree to both “cooperate” and take individual measures to ensure the health of their populations. 

Enforcing public health legislation falls under the latter. In public health emergencies, however, WHO is authorized to respond with: 

- Leadership
- Partner coordination
- Information and planning
- Health operations and technical expertise
- Operations support and logistics
- Finance and administration

Specific actions can include mobilizing in-country WHO staff, “establishing contact” with government officials, and deploying “surge support” if needed. The criteria for initiating such actions, and additional actions, are spelled out in this lengthy document.

Rather than try to analyze this complicated document, I would like to simply ask the experts. Surely the US liaison to the WHO could answer questions about its role and authority without a second’s thought. Would that be someone in the CDC? If so, it’s unlikely that individual will freely step forward to confirm, deny, or even offer explanatory background on the statements about WHO issued from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Thus, my timeline could be updated with some of the newer tidbits of information, but my perspective on what “should have” happened must remain, for now, muddled.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Coronavirus Cruising. Not.

Many lives will be modified, even ruined, by the pandemic scouring the planet. Lost jobs, lost loved ones, interrupted education, collapse of civility.

In comparison with these tragic losses, my grief is minor. Nonetheless, I have a stone in my stomach and an aching heart.

On March 31, the cruising season came to a halt when recreational boating was banned in Maryland, Virginia, and DC. 

On April 6, we sold our 30-foot sailboat, Echo II, to someone who needs a cheap place to live in isolation due to the coronavirus.

My initial reaction was relief. Those of you who have followed my boating adventures via this blog know I had 
mixed feelings about Echo II.  She was 30 years old, moldy, broken down, and required loads of repairs and loving care to get her into cruising shape and keep her operating.

By 2019, she was shipshape for cruising — rebuilt engine purring, new sails and rigging, leaks sealed, upgraded plumbing and electricity systems, comfortable Sunbrella upholstery and bimini. Pope poured buckets of blood, sweat, and tears into those efforts.

Every cruising season she required days and days — and more days — of cleaning and fixing. Plus systems maintenance, loading and unloading, winterizing and de-winterizing, and haulouts for bottom cleaning every few months.

The work was interspersed with play. We cruised to the Bahamas, Charleston, Martha’s Vineyard, Long Island. And spent many weekends poking around the estuaries of Chesapeake Bay.

As Pope aged and his health deteriorated, our cruises got shorter. In 2019, we prepared Echo II for a second cruise to New England. Medical concerns, a bad starter, and a leak in the exhaust elbow disrupted that plan. Instead we enjoyed a few nights aboard, cruised to Gibson Island and St. Michaels, and didn’t leave Chesapeake Bay.

In 2020, we had just drained the antifreeze when the coronavirus struck and we got stuck at the dock.

We had hauled the sails out of winter storage, along with the spare boat parts and the custom-cut linens for the sleeping berth in the bow. Echo II was in good shape.

Then the pandemic arrived, and our plans for the boat changed. Pope made one last repair:  a rusty electrical connection. 

Back on the dock, with everyone in a face mask, and with a few tears falling onto mine, we traded the boat title for a wad of cash. Counted the money with gloves on.

We moved Echo II to a different marina, a short distance upriver. The new owner waited on the dock until Pope and I disembarked for the last time.

We bid farewell to our cursed and beloved boat. She is somebody else’s cruiser now.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Unbearable Disappearance of Masks and Gowns

(Written on March 20; some facts have changed since then)

I should have been a reporter. I wish I were one right now; I would be an activist, in-your-face inquisitor of our government officials. I've been following one of the sadder, more tragic stories coming out of US hospitals, and it breaks my heart. I have been researching the facts regarding the shortage of personal protective equipment (masks and gowns) for health-care workers, and it is one of the worst travesties I have heard about our government’s inaction, and delayed action, on the coronavirus. Not to mention on preparing for pandemics in general.

You have undoubtedly heard there is a massive shortage in the US of N95 respirator face masks that filter particles as small as 0.3 microns, and thus provide effective protection against viruses for doctors and nurses.
Photo: Reuters
The latest news is that US citizens are sewing thousands of cheap fabric substitutes to give to hospitals. Some of my friends are sewing these, for what it’s worth. Bravo for them. I expect my sister, an accomplished seamstress, will do it as well if this story reaches her ears in Detroit (where news tends to be biased in the opposite direction of news in DC).

Why are people doing this, even though the homemade masks are nowhere near effective enough to filter out a tiny virus? Because last week CDC “loosened” its official guidelines for the personal protective equipment worn by health-care workers, to encourage them to re-use their N95s AND to wear homemade fabric masks when they run out of proper N95s. CDC used the language “last resort.” The US should never have reached the point of "last resort."

Normally, N95s are used only once. It’s for our protection as patients, as well as for the protection of medical staff. Doctors and nurses are incensed at this change in CDC guidance; you can see their protests all over the internet.

One of the most tragic news stories I saw is about a hospital already setting aside its used N95s aside for 5 days hoping the virus will die, then re-using them. But we know, don’t we, that science has found the virus can live on plastic up to 9 days? Another hospital is washing and re-using both masks and gowns. Several hospitals have pleaded for supplies to be released from the US national emergency supplies in the Strategic National Stockpile. A few hospitals, especially in Florida, succeeded. Why Florida? The government says it is based on population. Just curious: is Florida more densely populated than New York and California, which are the hardest hit so far?

Previously, all of our N95s for health care came from China, and —duh— they are having a bit of a struggle right now. Nonetheless, they are ramping up their manufacturing capability of N95s, and their surplus supply is primarily going to South Korea and Italy. Note, furthermore, that several NEW Chinese companies have starting making them, and doing so quickly. The US is trying to get in on buying them from China. As per our usual — start a trade war, then arm-wrestle. (But don’t get me started on that rant.)

The US produces N95s only for industrial/construction use. This week, the US also “loosened” a law that will now allow the industrial-style masks to be used in hospitals, without liability to the companies if they fail. Thus, those companies (primarily 3M) are voluntarily ramping up production. These masks are not quite as tight-fitting, and there will still be a massive shortage.

We have a Defense Production law that could be used to ram through more US manufacturing capability quickly, as we would during a war. President Trump pledged to do this -- repeatedly, according to news reports -- then repeatedly backed out. Naturally, Democrats have pushed back on this (in)decision.

Naturally, companies are reluctant to voluntarily take on the massive and expensive retooling that would be required to make N95 masks, claiming it would take months to ramp up manufacturing capability, the demand is short-term, and there is little money in it. (Yet - remember my note above about Chinese companies?) If we were at war, I bet the necessary retooling would be accomplished in a few short weeks—because the government would make sure it was profitable.

Companies who could make more hospital gowns also are resisting ramping up production, citing the short-term, unprofitable nature of the demand. So hospitals are washing and reusing them. In Spain, dress designer companies are making gowns for hospitals. Now. In the US, there is merely debate, in Vogue magazine, whether designers could/should do the same here. Later, baby. Maybe.
 Folks, given the US government and US industry’s inaction on saving the planet and its populations from climate change, why would we expect them to ramp up to save the population from disease? Short answer: we are not at all surprised. The only thing ramped up recently was favoritism to Big Oil and Gas, and insider trading in stocks by government officials after they were briefed on the virus, but before they told the public.
I am not a reporter. And actually reporters are already ramping up to cover this story from all the angles I’ve mentioned above; the stories aresifting out, one by one. One thing I haven’t heard all day, surprisingly, is that this shortage of masks and gowns is “fake news.” Could it be that the government is actually listening? ... Nah .... Too much to ask.