Current Events

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Imagine, waking up from a feverish delirium, to find yourself staring into the face of a doctor who looked like some type of bird, and a scary one at that. When people are delirious and feverish, they are already not in their right mind, so looking at the man, who looked like a giant hawk, could be…well, frightening. The poor sick patient, might have believed that they had been abducted by aliens.

Medicine has come a long way over the centuries. Long ago, physicians in Europe thought that diseases were caused by “bad air.” Scientists like Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch, and Joseph Lister hadn’t yet come up with the scientific proof of the germ theory of disease. Sometimes, it just makes you wonder how anyone managed to survive in those days. Still, the doctors did know that somehow they needed to protect themselves, be it from the “bad air” or germs that they didn’t even know existed. I guess they figured that “when in doubt…protect yourself” first. It was good advise then and good advise now. A healthcare worker, be it doctor, nurse, cna, or caregiver, cannot be of any use to their patient, if they get sick too.

So, to safeguard themselves against miasma, which was the name they gave to this “bad air” and since the doctors then didn’t know about the kinds of gear that is available these days, the doctors donned a curious accessory while treating sickly patients…a mask with a long, bird-like beak, which was stuffed with dried flowers, herbs, and spices. The gear was used during the Carnival of Venice, so some people might recognize it as the “plague doctor” costumes, but they probably wouldn’t know that, with the costumes were an exaggeration, this type of gear was really used during plagues in the 17th century.

It is thought that doctors accepted this type of mask, thanks in part to the Black Death, which ravaged the Middle East, Asia, and Europe during the 14th century, but medical historians say it wasn’t invented until three centuries later, when a 16th century French doctor named Charles de Lorme likely designed what could be described as one of history’s earliest hazmat suits during later waves of the plague, and it was very similar to these. I’m sure they did the best they could, but my guess is that is was sorely inadequate. The de Lorme suit consisted of “a full head-to-toe protective garment, modeled after a soldier’s canvas gown which went from the neck to the ankle. The over-clothing garment, as well as leggings, gloves, boots, and a hat, were made of waxed leather. The garment was impregnated with similar fragrant items as the beak mask.”

These days, our healthcare workers, who are working with serious diseases, such as Covid-19, wear gear that is much more capable of protecting them. Healthcare workers like my friend, Nurse Practitioner, Angela Booth might look like they are wearing…well, almost bunkers, like a firefighter wears, with the exception of the heavy oxygen, of course. Still, the gear they are wearing is highly sophisticated and is much better able to protect them from the disease, than gear used to be, and anyone who has friends or family in the healthcare industry, can be thankful for that. For patients, it might still be scary to see the doctor or nurse dressed that way.

When we think of “ghost towns,” we think of abandoned mining camps, towns that were passed by when railroads or highways went through, and these days, New York City. There are many ways for a town or even a city to die out…most of them are really sad. Sometimes, a town just outlives its usefulness, as was the case during the gold rush. When the gold ran out, the miners moved on or went back east to their homes there. The little town that had provided the supplies, homes, entertainment, and necessary offices, like post office and land offices, is simply not needed anymore. I’m sure that the people of the town held out as long as it made sense, and then they picked up and moved on to some other place that needed things like a general store for supplies. The little town then sat there and slowly slipped into disrepair and decay. When we visit such towns, we see history unfolding before us, and we are usually excited to find such an amazing relic. We can’t wait to explore.

Sometimes, as in the case of New York City, a city is “shut down” to help those within it to recover from something, such as a pandemic. That doesn’t usually happen when a new virus goes through, but it did with Covid-19. Normally, only the sick people are quarantined, but in this case, the medical experts (and many people would say that I’m using that term loosely), decided to quarantine the well people in the hope of stopping the spread of Covid-19. I can’t say whether that has been a good or a bad thing, but I tend to think it was a bad thing. When a city like New York City, suddenly is completely empty, businesses are shut down, jobs lost, and it didn’t seem to help. Months later, the city is still, for the most part, shut down, and businesses are considering a move to another location, just like the ghost towns of the old west when the mines dried up. The shut down of our cities is a slippery slope, and one that I think needs to be avoided, at all costs. Still, man will tell you that I’m not an expert, and they would be right. I am just a person who sees that our country cannot continue with this shut down much longer. Something has to change…something!!

While we like to visit ghost towns, we often don’t realize the hardship and heartache that went into turning these places into ghost towns. Just like we have seen in the cities across America, the business shutting down means the loss of a livelihood for millions of people. Depression sets in, and eventually everyone is angry about their rights being stepped on…and it’s not just one group, it’s many. Then, the sad thing is that there emerges a group of people who are…left out. The ones who don’t fit into any of the protesting groups…they are the quiet majority…the ones who usually just go quietly about their daily lives, without hurting anyone. Sadly these are the overlooked ones, and usually the last ones to leave the ghost town, because they are the ones who try to hope for the future. These days, that is much of America. We are just hanging out, waiting for things to get better, so we can get back to normal. Here’s to normal.

As we head into Independence Day 2020, many of us have begun to realize that this year, it’s different. Everything is different. The year, Independence Day has taken on a whole new meaning for me and so many others. For the first time in our nations history, almost everything was shut down. People were quarantined…leaving only the essential workers going to work, and the rest of us staying home, except for food, medicine, and doctor visits. Covid 19 had changed everything.

Spring Break for the schools brought the quarantine, and even if we had no children in school, we felt that change deeply. Everything just…stopped. Restaurants were closed, movies were out, bowling leagues ended early, as did all sports. Once the warmer weather hit, it felt like summer, but it was only May. This would prove to be the longest summer ever…I’m not complaining, mind you. Summer is my favorite time of year. I can’t imagine how awful it would have been, if the quarantine had happened in the Winter, when I wouldn’t have been able to get outside and walk on the trail near my home…especially since I am not into winter sports, and those places would have been closed anyway.

Finally after more than three months of quarantine, the states were allowed to begin reopening. Still, we did not know what the summer would look like. Sports were up in the air, contemplating a shortened season, or as in the case of some, cancelling the 2020 season altogether. Graduations, funerals, birthday gatherings, and holidays were uncertain. Finally, as campgrounds and hotels began to reopen, it looked like summer might be salvaged. Still, several fairs and some 4th of July fireworks thought about, or did cancel. My husband, Bob and I usually go to the Black Hills over the 4th of July, to do some hiking, so this was a concern to us. Finally, word came down that the fireworks display we loved would indeed be held, and that after a 9 year span without fireworks at Mount Rushmore, that display would also take place this year. We were so happy, and booked our motel right away.

As we prepare to watch the fireworks on Independence Day 2020, it comes to mind that Independence Day has taken on a whole new meaning. For a time, we lost our independence, and now we have it back. The feeling reminds me of how the early settlers felt, when England finally gave up and we had won our independence from them. Yes, we still have a ways to go before we will have our country back to normal. During the lock-down, some bad things happened and some people are in an outraged state, but I believe that we will be able to get back to normal through the love of God being shown in our nation. There are those who want to change the root of our nation, but they will not succeed. We are and always will be “One Nation, Under God” and we will have victory over the anarchists. Today, we celebrate the birth of our great nation, the United States of America. It is with a whole new meaning…Freedom Again!! Happy Independence Day everyone, God bless you all, and God bless America!!

Periodically over the past few years, the subject of the Yellowstone Volcano has come up. When I think of a volcano, I imagine the high mountain peaks of Washington state, not the lower elevation mountains of Wyoming. Nevertheless, we are told that underneath Yellowstone Park is not just a volcano, but a supervolcano. The most recent volcanic activity at Yellowstone consisted of rhyolitic lava flows that erupted approximately 70,000 years ago, which says that the volcano is clearly overdue for the next eruption…or some phenomenon unique to Yellowstone Park is allowing the pressure to release enough to prevent the eruption. Of course, I’m no scientist, and my opinion is purely speculation, but we have been told that the recent large number of small earthquakes in the area could be telling when it comes to the volcano.

We are told that should the supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park ever have another “massive eruption, it could spew ash for thousands of miles across the United States, damaging buildings, smothering crops, and shutting down power plants.” Then, almost in the same breath, we are told that it’s possible that Yellowstone might never have an eruption that large again. Maybe I’m not so far off in thinking that the geysers, mud pits, and hot springs allow enough pressure off to avoid another eruption. Still, the earthquake swarms in the area are troubling to the scientists who monitor the Yellowstone supervolcano, but then those earthquakes have been going on for as long as I can remember too.

Time will tell, I guess, and there is really nothing anyone can do about it anyway. If the supervolcano erupts, it just does, and if not, then the scientists will have something to speculate about for the foreseeable future. Either way, the people of Wyoming, and any other part of the world that would be affected in the event of an eruption, can’t sit and worry about it all the time, or we would never get anything done. People can’t live their lives in fear of the eruption that might happen.

It’s a strange thing to have something you have expected to last for a certain period of time, come to an abrupt end. You find yourself hanging in limbo, and it can become depressing, or I suppose it could become exhilarating, if it was something you didn’t really like anyway. Such has been the case with the 2020 school year, and the Covid-19 Pandemic that changed everything. Yes, the students are still in class, at least virtual class, but it really isn’t the same. I understand about homeschooling, but for parents who did not expect to make that commitment, it can be a daunting task. There is more to it than just the classwork too. Kids need structure, and having summer begin at Spring Break threw everyone into a tailspin. At first it just seemed like a really long Spring Break, then when the virtual classes started, they really started to miss the time spent with their friends and their teachers…even the tough ones. It seems that being in class with a teacher who makes you work for your grade, is preferable to being at home with your parents acting as your teacher, and you are in detention, even if you did nothing wrong.

At first, when it was just the extended Spring Break, and people were staying at home, no one really noticed that he kids were out of school. Then, as the weather got warmer, people got out on the trails and on the playgrounds, still “social distancing,” but getting a little bit of fresh air and removing themselves from the “cabin fever” that was quickly threatening their sanity. Suddenly, we became very aware that these kids should be in school. While the weather was warmer, it wasn’t summer yet. The school year of 2020 had only officially run for seven of the nine months it was supposed to. In fact, truth be told, school should still be in session…even now. And yet, while summer vacation is not here yet, the schools are closed. The 2020 school year hasn’t officially ended, and it isn’t officially in progress either. Parents are worried about the education their kids got this last quarter. Virtual classes were shorter that normal, and so the kids spent far less time in virtual class too. Nothing about the last quarter of school was normal. The kids didn’t always get to class, but did the homework, thinking it was enough, and for some of them, maybe it was, but what of the rest of them…the ones who needed that class time. Were they left hanging…time will tell, I guess.

The next school year is still up in the air too. There are schools who have said that they will open, and others who will continue the virtual program. That has parents up in arms too, because they are preparing to go back to work, and they will need someone to be home with their children while they work. A virtual teacher doesn’t really replace the safety of being in the classroom with a teacher in charge. All the “experts” have said that life is going to take on a “new normal,” and they may be right, but I think that if school doesn’t start back up next school year, there will be a lot of parents who might need to start taking Prozac or something similar. Most parents find themselves impatiently awaiting the end of summer so the kids can go back to school, but this year was like the summer that never ended. The kids are just as bored, and there was no place to send them. The pools aren’t going to open, the rec centers either, and there is only so much a kid can do at the school playground. The walking paths are frequented by kids on bicycles and longboards, and even kids walking their dogs, but the reality is, these kids need to go back to school. They are designed to be social beings, not socially distanced.

My niece, Cassie Iverson is a wife and mother of two children. She is also an activist for the causes she believes in. Most of them are causes for the protection of family and children. Cassie and her husband, Chris lived in a rented house while she was pregnant with their first child, their son, Lucas, who was born with Down Syndrome. They found out that the house had black mold, but the landlord wouldn’t do anything about it. Of course, there are no known ties between black mold and Down Syndrome, but there are many health problems that are associated with black mold. At that time, there seemed no way to get the satisfaction she sought from her landlord, so in the end, they move to a better home.

Cassie and Chris have fought through a number of health issued with Lucas, and they are very careful about his treatments. While many people would not agree with them, they are against vaccinations, because they feel that the ingredients in them are more dangerous than the disease the vaccination is trying to prevent. I don’t know which side of the coin my readers are on, and in this case, I have now desire to debate the vaccination issue, but rather I just want to say that it is my belief that each set of parents have the right to make that choice for their children, and that they should feel safe in doing so. I don’t think that anyone should be subject to verbal attacks because they have differing opinions on this or really, any other of the hot button issues. The best thing about our liberties, is that we have the right to chose what is best for our family. The worst thing about our liberties, is that we risk making other people mad.

Whether you agree or not, we need people who will bring to light the other side of the coin, and that is what Cassie does. That takes courage in the current hostile climate in our nation. We face the same issues concerning the current Covid-19 Pandemic. There are so many views that no one knows what to think. That is why, we all have to make our own choices. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! I hope you got to do something fun. Have a great day!! We love you!!

With the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent shut down of much of our country, including the schools and many businesses, Americans have faced many challenges…among them, the loss of many sports, at least temporarily. Now, as the country begins the reopening process, sports of all kinds have taken on a different look. Slowly, the summer sports are getting started again. The stands are empty, because social distancing doesn’t permit people to sit so close as they would sit in the stands. The coaches, and reluctantly, the parents decided that it was more important to let the kids play, than to wait until the parents could watch. It has been a similar story in all areas of sports.

For the professional sports, many changes had to be made. A new kind of baseball, Nascar, football, and many other types of sports. Sports had to be reinvented…or a lease the spectator part of sports had to be reinvented. Some sports have missed their opportunity for this year, and they are holding out hope for a real season next year. Even the news was different, because normally after the news and weather, came sports. The sports was still there, but there were no games to recap. We heard instead, about future plans, college draft choices, and the fact that there would be no sports for the time being.

It wasn’t just the professional sports either. Bowling alleys closed weeks before the end of the leagues’ schedules were finished. League officers waited, hoping to get back in time to finish the season, but it was not to be, so reluctantly, they divided the prize money based on the standings at the point when the bowling alleys closed. most prize money was mailed out, but a few waited until this past week so they could meet for the purpose of distributing the funds.

As Memorial Day approaches, it seems that the annual car shows have also fallen victim to the Covid-19 shutdown. That is a sad thing for many people, my husband, Bob being one of them. He practically spends the whole weekend looking at the cars. This time, like so many events this year, will be different. No car shows, little travel, no graduation ceremonies (at least not in the normal sense); just the official end to the school year, since it unofficially ended at spring break…the longest spring break in history. No one failed, and we have no idea how far behind they will be next year, or what returning to school will look like for sure. All we know is that like sports, life reinvented…will go on.

This year, with the Coronavirus, we find ourselves in a very different type of Easter holiday. Most of us are away from our family, and so we won’t be having the traditional Easter dinner and gathering. It’s a very strange year, but in one way, it is a return to a more spiritual holiday. People who have little ones probably will have the candy, and maybe the traditional dinner, but those of us, who have family that don’t live with us, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren whether they live far away, or right here in the same city, can’t get together with our families. It is the hardest thing we have ever done, especially those with young grandchildren and great grandchildren. It is terrible hard not to hold them or kiss them. We are grateful for things like FaceTime, and telephone, but they are a very poor substitute for being there together.

That said, I think that a number of us who are at home…alone or in couples, and not planning to have a special meal, are taking a step backward and reflecting on this day separately from the meal and gathering. It is a unique opportunity to focus on the real reason for this day. to focus without all the meal prep, table setting, and clean up. What a strangely wonderful opportunity!! Strange…only because we are free focus completely on Jesus and what He did for us. Usually, we honor Him by going to church, and then we come home to the preparations for the gathering with family. Next year, that is what we will do again, and that is ok, but this year…with social distancing, is a rare “gift” that we won’t have again, and that is ok too, because we would rather spend this day with our loved ones. We would rather spend this day with our family, and honor our Saviour together, but that is not to be. We will all miss each other very much today, as we do any time we are apart. And when this is over…truly over, we will all have a special dinner…a type of redemption dinner, when we are redeemed for quarantine, and free to gather once again. Then we will come together and celebrate the victory over Coronavirus…victory that Jesus won for us when He died on the cross to save us from sin, sickness, and disease. The He rose again to tell us all the wonderful news. Happy Easter to all…alone together, the way it needs to be for now.

On this the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 near disaster, I am reminded of the tenacity of the human spirit. The space program was becoming commonplace, and while the plan was to televise parts of the mission, the networks decided not to play the program, because space travel had become mundane…nothing new happened, and it was then, as it is now, that sensationalism sells news. Then, completely unexpectedly, everything changed. Our astronauts were in serious trouble. After the explosion that would render the space capsule useless, and those famous words were uttered, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” everyone wanted to follow this very serious situation. Now it was important to watch this previously mundane mission.

The reactions, both before and after the explosion, are completely normal. People tend to look for the excitement is life to keep them interested…good or bad excitement. We find ourselves glued to the television after a disaster, hoping to learn something new. We are the same way about exciting good news, but with the Apollo 13 mission, the news of another lunar landing wasn’t new. We had seen it all before…until it all went wrong. The NASA families, and especially the families of the astronauts in trouble, were less than impressed by the sudden interest in their men onboard Apollo 13, and I can understand why. It seemed no one cared, until it went wrong. Yes, the people wanted the men home safely, but it was the drama that drew them to the situation, and finally, had us thinking about something outside of ourselves. Yes, all turned out great in the end, and the men came home safely, but the space program didn’t increase in importance in our lives…until the next disaster, that is.

It’s not that we, the people are not interested in anything that doesn’t keep us riveted to our chair, staring at the news, but that we tend to overlook much of what is going on around us, until it affects us. Take the Coronavirus for example. Diseases come and go, and provided it doesn’t impact us or the ones we love, most diseases come and go with little notice by the general public. That’s why pandemics are so widely televised and watched. The affect everyone, in one way or another. We might know someone who has it, or have people in the disease hotspots, or have someone working in healthcare who is dealing with it, or we might just find ourselves drawn to the situation because we are one nation living in one world. Whatever our reason, suddenly we are interested, and that’s when we step outside of ourselves.

I have been very moved by the response of the American people during the Coronavirus Pandemic. We have seen people making medical masks for the hospitals, collecting food for those in need, and going to the store for those who can’t. We have seen people cheering the first responders, healthcare workers, grocery store workers, and food workers, who have all stayed on the job, to keep things running smoothly. We have other businesses that have had to stay open too…the banks, insurance agencies, sanitation workers, street workers, agriculture workers, military and national guard members, and a number of others. All these people are heroes. We could not stay at home, like we have been asked to do, if these heroes didn’t get up and go to work every day, despite personal risks. As President Trump has said, we are at war…fighting an invisible enemy, so anyone who leaves their house takes a certain measure of risk of contracting the disease. Those who go to work are the bravest people we have. We owe them so much. We have also seen many people who have changed up their entertainment mediums, and have started giving free concerts on the internet. Churches have started streaming services. Choirs from many other areas have put together “social distancing” performances. All these things are designed to keep our spirits up…something we all need in these trying times. The thing that I find the most amazing is how we have all came together, how we stepped outside of ourselves to make a difference.

My niece, Liz Masterson is a teacher of Journalism and English at Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, Wyoming. She is a dedicated teacher, who loves her job and her students, and they love her too. She isn’t an easy teacher, but the students learn from her, and they work hard for her, because she draws the best out of them.

This school year began normally, but as we all know, it has progressed in an anything but normal manner. Due to the COVID19 Pandemic, the schools have been closed since March 13th. Spring Break was supposed to have started on March 30th, but of course, it has been closed for two weeks already. In reality, the teachers and administration are working very hard, albeit at home, to prepare to finish this seriously unconventional school year. Since moving into the new part of Kelly Walsh, Liz’s students have been using Google Classroom for parts of their classes. That is most definitely a good thing, because it is Google Classroom that will be put into action to finish the school year. It will, however, be used differently than they are used to. Still, it is a form of remote learning, and it will allow the students and teachers to finish the school year. It has to be done, because you can’t just pass a generation of students with three months less class time than they should have.

For Liz, this unique situation is like being on hold or in limbo. Teachers are used to having their summer off, so two and a half months of no school feels normal, but summer is planned for…prepared for. This is nothing like that. She feels at loose ends. She misses her students and the classroom discussions they had. She misses the co-workers she had. She misses the sports, which she took pictures of for the annual, mostly because she is the biggest sports fan ever!! I think they were happy to have Liz take pictures of the sports, because she caught the essence of the plays. That’s because she saw the game from the mind of the players.

There are so many regrets that come with an unfinished school year, especially for the Seniors. This is their last year. so many things that they will never be able to do again…prom, graduation, the last part of being the top class. In sports, they miss the scouts, and possible chances at sports scholarships. For teachers, there are regrets too. Teachers are destined to teach, and to suddenly not be able to be stand before the class and see their faces as they get what is being taught, to see their smiling faces…it defeats the whole concept of classroom teaching. This generation of students and their teachers can never get back the last three months of the 2020 school year, and that is a loss indeed. Nevertheless, today is Liz’s birthday, and I know that her students wish her the best, as do we, her family. And while this is a strange school year, I hope it will still be rewarding. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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