Now What? #5

Picking up where we left off…

We pull into the parking lot of CCEF:

It had been an emotionally exhausting day.

We’d left home early that morning.  Flew into Philadelphia, Been accosted by some crazy guy in the terminal.   Drove through the heart of the city (pre-gps/smart phone),  and now, finally sat in the parking lot of the school….

As I recall,  it was almost closing time. We talked to the receptionist and said Jeff ? knew we might be stopping.  He had been the supervising teacher I’d interacted with through the correspondence classes.  As we talk with Jeff, when he learned we were planning to find a hotel room, he invites us to follow him home, we were welcome spend the night @ his place.

We accepted.

Next morning we were back @ CCEF talking with Earl Cook.   His area of expertise was children’s counseling.   I can still remember sitting in his office.  Earl  had a deep voice,  and infectious sense of humor.

Earl leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head and asked me to tell him our story.

“What had brought us there?”

I recounted everything I’ve told you over the past few posts, including writing the letters I’d sent ahead to the dozen or so pastors who lived in the area, putting out feelers for a job, etc.   None of those inquiries had generated any leads, which brought us up to the present.

Sitting in his office, trying to figure out what to do next.

Earl looked at us and said,“I have a thought.”  There’s a church located in Northern New Jersey, about 2 and 1/2 hours north of here that regularly sends several of their staff for classes.  It isn’t  your typical church.”  (I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by that, but would find out soon enough).

He continued, “You and your wife strike me as a couple of free spirit types. You’d fit right in with them.  If you want, I would be glad to make a couple of phone calls. If they say OK, you could  run up for the day, and spend the night… What do we have to loose?  You have a week..”  😉

Few minutes later, we were on the road again.  Heading north to West Milford New Jersey.

When we pulled onto the property of Gilgal Bible Chapel,  there were kids running everywhere.  Here’s a picture of me just after we pulled into the church parking lot:

Notice the map 🙂

We were given a tour of the grounds….

Yes, it was a local church.  In addition, they  had apartments for missionaries on furlough.   Were currently housing  a couple of  families from Viet Nam.  They also  ran a large day camp for kids in the summer.

 

View of the gymnasium when you first pull onto the property.

There was a  mechanics shop, man made lake…10 acres of “Water shed” property. (Water from this area, would eventually winds up in large reservoirs for Newark I was told.

Here’s a picture of the main house:

The smell of pine trees, was in the air.  We were to find out later, black bear also lived in the area,  not exactly how I envisioned New Jersey when I was sitting back in Iowa.

It was beautiful!

We had been given permission to spend the night in one of the guest rooms, and as it turned out, the next day was the 4th of July. Someone (I can’t remember who any more)  suggested if we wanted, we were welcome to come to a church picnic.

The 4th of July, 1985 we went to  the home of Gay and Pat Brandeal.  Pat was a general contractor, and Gay a teacher.  There were  25 to 30 people at the picnic.

I remember visiting with Dorothy, Dorothy Gunther…  As she and I sat in our  lawn chairs, she asked about us.  I told her we were on a mini vacation, thinking about moving East to attend CCEF, if the details could be worked out.

She looked at me, “Well, my son Mark has a construction business.  If you do decide to move, you could work for him.  I know he would hire you…”

That night after the  picnic, wife and I were sitting in the guest room.  I  picked up a bible and reread the account of what happened after the nation of Israel had wandered around in the Wilderness for 40 years. (Remember in my last post, 10 of the 12 spies had said, they didn’t think they should go  into the land that the God of Abraham had said he wanted to take them into.  They were afraid.

They spent the next 40 years wandering in circles until all the adults of that generation had died off.

All except for the two who had been willing to go in…Joshua and Caleb

So now, 40 years later, the nation of Israel crosses the Jordan River and enters “the Promised Land.”

(You can read it yourself in the book of Joshua chapter 4).

Joshua chapter 4 verse19 “On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21

As I read the account, the name Gilgal jumped off the page.

At this point, I remember feeling overwhelmed with emotion.  The name Gilgal had never registered  before that day.

There I was sitting  in the guest room of a church called Gilgal Bible Chapel , with a possible job offer…

to be continued…

 

Spying Out The Land #4

Picking up where I left off on my earlier post  of January 6th 2021…

So there I was,  married with two toddlers,  entertaining thoughts of walking away from the family construction business and go back to school part time.  The program I was looking at was 1000 miles from home, in a suburb of Philadelphia.

There were three things that needed to come together if this would become a reality…

Money, housing, and a part time job

We had absolutely nothing in savings.

Secondly, housing.  While I didn’t want to live in some rough part of Philadelphia , that was a real possibility.

Thirdly,  I would need to find a job with  flexibility, preferably construction related.

About this time in the decision making process, an account from the Bible took on a whole new meaning. It is the account of the 12 spies sent out by the newly created nation of Israel, to spy out their possible future home land.  (Book of Numbers chapter 13, and part of chapter 14.)

Like I mentioned a couple of posts ago, if you’re tagging along and are curious about our move to New Jersey, you’ll have to permit me to tell you what was really happening in our lives, including references to my faith.  If talking about my faith is a turn off, you’ll probably want to exit this series right now and check back  later.

12 representatives (spies) (one for each tribe),  were sent to check out a new land that the God of Abraham, was asking them to move to, after just leaving the slavery of Egypt. (Ever hear of the story of Moses?)

Twelve men are sent to “spy out the land.”

The twelve, discovered it was  a land overflowing with bounty.

Just one small catch.

The people living there were a tough lot, with no intention of moving (obviously)  so 10 of the 12 spies come back and say, “Nope.”

“Nada.”

“Not going there,”

“The place is too dangerous!”

 “What will happen to our wives and children????

Only 2 of the spies, (Joshua and Caleb) have a different perspective.

Yep, it is an intimidating place, but if God is in this move, then we trust that he will work out the details.”

“Let’s do it!”

You’ll have to read it for yourself, if you want to know what happens next.   It’s not good.

So there I was thinking, if, (and it was still a big “if”) God was in fact asking me to consider moving East, then I didn’t want to let fear be the deciding factor.

I wanted to be neither irresponsible nor make our decision based solely out of fear.

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Side note….

Most of us have probably never given much thought to the training of therapists and counselors.  I know I’d never, until this point.

Dirty little secret. -There are literally dozens of schools of thought when it comes to the “how to” of counseling.  Depending on your worldview of how people look at life, that will determine how you counsel.

In simple terms, if you believe that your brain is the end product of a brain evolved from a lizard, that will affect how you counsel an addict.  If on the other hand, you believe there is a spiritual component to change, that too will affect how you approach addictions, (or any other issue.)

I already knew,  I wanted training that incorporated the Bible and had a spiritual component to it, which was why I was looking @ CCEF.    

(Remember that spiritual stirring I alluded to earlier)

The school was located in a northern suburb of Philadelphia, attached to campus of Westminster Theological Seminary.

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My thought was, let’s take a week, fly out to Philadelphia, spy out the land, figuratively speaking and see if the details come together so we could move there for a year.

In preparation for our visit to CCEF and the Philadelphia area,   I asked the school, for the names of local pastors who were attending  classes.  As I recall, I sent out about a dozen letters, explaining we were coming to the area the first week of July.  Did they know anyone in their congregations who might be interested in hiring me part time, or have any rental property?     I felt  if God was really in this whole idea  then it was reasonable to believe He could bring together the details we would need for it to happen.

On July 2nd 1985, my wife and I flew into the  Philadelphia International Airport .

We picked up our rental car  and took off in the direction of CCEF

Our route took us down town, on Broad Street where I ran into the biggest round-about, I had ever encountered in my life.  It is actually square. 😉    I know we made at least one complete circle before I spotted the correct exit.

A view of North Broad Street in Philadelphia.

photo compliments of Google

to be continued….

Snapping turtles and a stop at the bar #3

As I have been reliving those years we lived in New Jersey, my mind has been thinking about our time leading up to our move East.  As I mentioned in my last entry, we were living just behind our local county home (Care facility).   I could probably do a mini series just on those 3 and 1/2 years, but that will have to wait.  I did have a couple of memories connected to another one of the residents we got to know pretty well.

His name was Don.

Don Kibbermeier.

Smallish man.  He moved with a quick nervous energy.  Wore bibs all the time.   You’d see him out and about, scurrying here and there.

One of the things Don loved to do was catch snapping turtles.  There were (are) 7 ponds on the farmland surrounding the  County Home.

Don would bait a treble hook with chicken liver, attach it to a wire fishing leader, stake it to the bank, and attach a  plastic milk jug for a bobber.

One day he stopped over to our house and told me he had something he wanted to show me.  It was in  the garage.   In the bottom of a garbage can was a humongous snapping turtle!   Filled up  the bottom of the can, and  boy was it was pissed off.

“How much?” I asked.

“Five Dollars and it’s yours,” he said.

“Does that include killing and cleaning it?”

“Nope, that would be another $5“,he said.

“Deal.  I’ll take it.”

I bought it in honor of my grandpa Conley.  He was an outdoors-man who knew how to catch and clean snappers.  I can still see my Grandma Conley standing over her stove frying turtle, dipped in eggs and cracker crumbs.   The leg muscles still moving, I am not kidding you….

Have you ever eaten snapping turtle?

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One other quick story about Don and I.

He approached me one Saturday morning and asked if I could give him a lift into town. (The care facility was 6 or 7 miles from the nearest town)  I was required to sign him out @ the front desk, meaning I was taking 100% responsibility while he was in my care)  The guy was in his 60’s  and I was in my 20’s.

It seemed a little weird and degrading for Don,  but I did it.

As we were driving down main-street, he said,  “Could you pull over?  I’d like to run inside and buy some chew.”

“Sure,” I said.

Sat there a couple of minutes before he came back.  We made one more stop and headed home.

Later in the afternoon, I got a call from the head nurse on duty.  Don Kibermeier was drunk and out of control. 

“Did I know anything about that?”

Had I given him alcohol?

Was I with him 100% of the time while we were out????”

“Well, no, I said, he had  asked me to stop somewhere so he could run in and get some chew.”

“Well, that’s not all he bought.”

To be continued…

Why (Second in a mini series)

The Winter of 1984, construction slowed down as it often would, so I enrolled in a correspondence class  on  marriage and family  counseling through CCEF.  (This was way before on line classes. 🙂 )

We were renting a house just behind the County Care Facility at the time.  (see picture below).

The County Home as it was called locally, housed the young, the old,  the physically and mentally disabled, those struggling with alcohol addiction, etc.  It was a safety net for people who might otherwise have no where else to turn.

Our two girls, both toddlers at the time, would go with their mom over to the kitchen window of the care facility  and visit  the cooks.   The kitchen was in the basement, and Sandy, or  Lori, (the cooks)  would hand them a cookie through the window.

County home

We lived in that little house 3 and 1/2 years. Got to know many of the residents on a first name basis.  Hap Steiner, Don Kibermeyer, Freddie, Melvin,  Jerry…and Dan.

Dan was just a couple of years older than myself.  At the time I had no idea why someone like him would be living at the County home.    He wasn’t retarded, nor physically disabled.

Dan and I got together every Monday night after I got home from work for two years.  He and I would sit at our kitchen table while I mostly listened to him.  I secretly had this hunch that if we talked through some of his life issues long enough, he could be set free from whatever in the world it was that had him living here in this care facility, and then he could go on to enjoy a normal life.

That day never came.

I do know Dan consumed  an awful lot of my Nestles Quick chocolate milk as we sat at the table.

Then there was a second person in our life at the time who was also a mystery. Her name was Jodi.  She was in her late 20’s.  Walked with a slight limp, slightly overweight.  I think maybe she had a mild case of Cerebral Palsy  She lived just a couple of miles from our place with her mother.  She too struggled with an assortment of mental and physical issues and at certain times would lapse into this sing-songy voice when talking.   Her struggles (it seemed to me) were more in the realm of negative thought patterns.   I had a hunch maybe she’d been bullied as a young girl.    Jodi would stop by randomly for a visit, and sometimes we’d go to her moms.

There is one more piece of this story I need to tell you, otherwise I’m going to keep tippy-toeing around it, and it will drive me bonkers.

I am not a religious person.

Never was.

If that is your thing and it helps you navigate life, more power to you. No disrespect intended when I say that.

But I was experiencing a spiritual stirring in my life that wasn’t always in play.

Shortly before we were to be married, we were required to attend a pre-marriage workshop through the local church my wife attended.  Workshops on everything from communication skills, insurance,  money management, etc.

There was one guy that got my attention that afternoon.  He did not look like a “church guy”  He looked more like a college football coach or a construction worker.    He looked at this auditorium full of young couples in love and said he was going to give it to us straight.

He said,   “If you want your marriage to have a chance in this day and age, when one out of two end in divorce, then Jesus Christ, needs to be in the center of your relationship, the cement in your marriage.”

I had not idea what that meant practically speaking but as someone who was pouring a lot of cement at the time, that word picture really resonated with me . It left me wanting to know more.  The best way I can put it, is a  year and 1/2 later,  the lights came on spiritually.

The more I grew spiritually, the more I wanted to know…

What would it take to help someone like a Jodi or Dan, both of whom seemed obviously stuck?

I finished my first class through the mail and wanted more.

To be continued….

 

The Lost Art of Thank You Notes #1

In 1985 we moved our little family to the East Coast so I could pursue my dream of being a marriage and family counselor.  I was 27 years old.  Married with two little girls in tow.  Up until then I had been working full time in construction with my dad and uncle. I came to the realization that if  I didn’t at least give it a whirl I would always wonder.

Pictures of our girls in the back seat of the Dodge Colt pulling a U-haul when we moved to New Jersey.

We ended up living in Northern New Jersey 5 years before deciding to return to Iowa.  The weekend before we were to return , the local church that had taken us under their wing for five years, threw us a farewell party. We’d become family in the truest sense of the word.   As the program wrapped up, one of my friends, John Reilly, asked me to come up front,  to present us with a going away present from the church.  (Keep in mind, on a good Sunday, there were maybe 80 in attendance).  John whispered something about not loosing the envelope!  “There’s something in there to help you get resettled.”  Later when we got to the car, I opened the card and found a check for four thousand dollars.

Blew me out of the water.

Over the next week,  while in the midst of packing, I  jotted off several thank you notes, not thinking much about the act  at the time.

It was the right thing to do.

I was reminded of that check this past Sunday night as I was reading a short entry from the book The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

It was titled  The Lost Art Of Thank You Notes:

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.  And despite my love of efficiency, I think that thank-you notes are best done the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper.

     Job interviewers and admissions officers see lots of applicants.  They read tons of resumes from “A” students with many accomplishments.  But they do not see many handwritten thank-you notes.

     If you are a B+ student, your handwritten thank-you note will raise you at least a half-grade in the eyes of the future boss or admissions officer.  You will become an “A” to them.  and because handwritten notes have gotten so rare, they will remember you.

     When I’d give this advice to my students, it was not to make them into calculating schemers, although I know some embraced it on those terms.  My advice was more about helping them recognize that there are respectful, considerate things that can be done in life that will be appreciated by the recipient, and that only good things can result.

   For instance, there was a young lady who applied to get into the E.T.C. ad we were about to turn her down.  She had big dreams; she wanted to be a Disney Imagineer.  Her grades, her exams and her portfolio were good, but not quite good enough, given how selective the ETC can afford to be.  Before we put her into the “no” pile, I decided to page through her file one more time.  As I did, I noticed a handwritten thank-you note had been slipped between the other pages.

    The note hadn’t been sent to me, my co-director Don Marinelli, or any other faculty member.  Instead, she had mailed it to a non-faculty support staffer who had helped her with arrangements when she came to visit.  This staff member held no sway over her application, so this was not a suck-up note.  It was just a few words of thanks to someone who, unbeknownst to her, happened to toss her note into her application folder.  Weeks later I came upon it.

    Having unexpectedly caught her thanking someone just because it was the nice thing to do, I paused to reflect on this.  She had written her note by hand.  I liked that.  “This tells me more, than anything else in her file,” I said to Don.  I read through her material again, I thought about her.  Impressed by her note, I decided she was worth taking a chance on, and Don agreed.

     She came to the ETC, got her masters degree, and is now a Disney Imagineer.

    I’ve told her this story, and now she tells it to others.

    Despite all that is not going on in my life and with my medical care, I still try to handwrite notes when it is important to do so.  It’s just the nice thing to do.  And you never know what magic might happen after it arrives in someone’s mailbox.

Randy Pausch

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Those 5 years we lived out East were life changing. It really was a watershed time in my life. I am toying around with  writing a series on that season of our life.  The good and the not so good. If I end up doing so, this will be the first installment. 🙂 DM

You came to mind last night

2021 family calendar I put together this year for my mom and dad.

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Ran to town yesterday afternoon to drop off the family calendars that came in the mail this week. After we made our last stop, I looked at my wife and asked her a question:.

“If you could magically go anywhere right now, just for the evening, where would it be?   Anyone in particular you’d like see?”

Here’s the thing about dreaming, setting goals, etc.   You need to set aside all of the normal practical things, (like $, time, travel restrictions, stress of getting somewhere, etc. etc.) and just try to get in touch with your deeper desires).

I used this technique with great success several years ago when I went about trying to identify 25 things to put on a bucket list.  Did this before the “bucket list” craze was even a thing. You may not be able to do exactly the item on your list, but some variation of it. I have been amazed at how many most of those items I’ve been able to check off  simply because I’d identified them as something I would really love to do.

Anyway, that ‘s a bunny trail for another blog post.

So when she asked me the same question:

” If you could magically go anywhere right now, just for the evening, where would it be?   Anyone in particular you’d like see?

I told her, I would love to go to some cozy retreat center, some place with a view, out in the woods/ mountains maybe….

And it would be a get together for all of my blogging friends.  A relaxed  evening just to  visit, munch on finger food, mingle, listen to music,  tell stories.

Everyone would tell a story (or three).

And there you have it.

Of all of the things in the world last night, I could have had the opportunity to do, I chose to hang out with  you.  🙂

So,  while we’re still dreaming, it would be good if  you brought something to share, bottle of wine, type of cheese, some tasty little things to eat.

What would you like to bring? 🙂

Tell me a little bit about the story you’d be sharing. 🙂

DM

 

A Sensible and Compassionate Anti-COVED Strategy

Got the following newsletter in the mail this week.  Want to warn you, it’s a long read, but worth it, if you’re still not sure what to think about COVED-19. DM

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Jay Bhattacharya
Stanford University


Jay BhattacharyaJay Bhattacharya is a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, where he received both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in economics. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and director of the Stanford Center on the Demography and Economics of Health and Aging. A co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration, his research has been published in economics, statistics, legal, medical, public health, and health policy journals.

The following is adapted from a panel presentation on October 9, 2020, in Omaha, Nebraska:

My goal today is, first, to present the facts about how deadly COVID-19 actually is; second, to present the facts about who is at risk from COVID; third, to present some facts about how deadly the widespread lockdowns have been; and fourth, to recommend a shift in public policy.

1. The COVID-19 Fatality Rate

In discussing the deadliness of COVID, we need to distinguish COVID cases from COVID infections. A lot of fear and confusion has resulted from failing to understand the difference.

We have heard much this year about the “case fatality rate” of COVID. In early March, the case fatality rate in the U.S. was roughly three percent—nearly three out of every hundred people who were identified as “cases” of COVID in early March died from it. Compare that to today, when the fatality rate of COVID is known to be less than one half of one percent.

In other words, when the World Health Organization said back in early March that three percent of people who get COVID die from it, they were wrong by at least one order of magnitude. The COVID fatality rate is much closer to 0.2 or 0.3 percent. The reason for the highly inaccurate early estimates is simple: in early March, we were not identifying most of the people who had been infected by COVID.

“Case fatality rate” is computed by dividing the number of deaths by the total number of confirmed cases. But to obtain an accurate COVID fatality rate, the number in the denominator should be the number of people who have been infected—the number of people who have actually had the disease—rather than the number of confirmed cases.

In March, only the small fraction of infected people who got sick and went to the hospital were identified as cases. But the majority of people who are infected by COVID have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. These people weren’t identified in the early days, which resulted in a highly misleading fatality rate. And that is what drove public policy. Even worse, it continues to sow fear and panic, because the perception of too many people about COVID is frozen in the misleading data from March.

So how do we get an accurate fatality rate? To use a technical term, we test for seroprevalence—in other words, we test to find out how many people have evidence in their bloodstream of having had COVID.

This is easy with some viruses. Anyone who has had chickenpox, for instance, still has that virus living in them—it stays in the body forever. COVID, on the other hand, like other coronaviruses, doesn’t stay in the body. Someone who is infected with COVID and then clears it will be immune from it, but it won’t still be living in them.

What we need to test for, then, are antibodies or other evidence that someone has had COVID. And even antibodies fade over time, so testing for them still results in an underestimate of total infections.

Seroprevalence is what I worked on in the early days of the epidemic. In April, I ran a series of studies, using antibody tests, to see how many people in California’s Santa Clara County, where I live, had been infected. At the time, there were about 1,000 COVID cases that had been identified in the county, but our antibody tests found that 50,000 people had been infected—i.e., there were 50 times more infections than identified cases. This was enormously important, because it meant that the fatality rate was not three percent, but closer to 0.2 percent; not three in 100, but two in 1,000.

When it came out, this Santa Clara study was controversial. But science is like that, and the way science tests controversial studies is to see if they can be replicated. And indeed, there are now 82 similar seroprevalence studies from around the world, and the median result of these 82 studies is a fatality rate of about 0.2 percent—exactly what we found in Santa Clara County.

In some places, of course, the fatality rate was higher: in New York City it was more like 0.5 percent. In other places it was lower: the rate in Idaho was 0.13 percent. What this variation shows is that the fatality rate is not simply a function of how deadly a virus is. It is also a function of who gets infected and of the quality of the health care system. In the early days of the virus, our health care systems managed COVID poorly. Part of this was due to ignorance: we pursued very aggressive treatments, for instance, such as the use of ventilators, that in retrospect might have been counterproductive. And part of it was due to negligence: in some places, we needlessly allowed a lot of people in nursing homes to get infected.

But the bottom line is that the COVID fatality rate is in the neighborhood of 0.2 percent.

2. Who Is at Risk?

The single most important fact about the COVID pandemic—in terms of deciding how to respond to it on both an individual and a governmental basis—is that it is not equally dangerous for everybody. This became clear very early on, but for some reason our public health messaging failed to get this fact out to the public.

It still seems to be a common perception that COVID is equally dangerous to everybody, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a thousand-fold difference between the mortality rate in older people, 70 and up, and the mortality rate in children. In some sense, this is a great blessing. If it was a disease that killed children preferentially, I for one would react very differently. But the fact is that for young children, this disease is less dangerous than the seasonal flu. This year, in the United States, more children have died from the seasonal flu than from COVID by a factor of two or three.

Whereas COVID is not deadly for children, for older people it is much more deadly than the seasonal flu. If you look at studies worldwide, the COVID fatality rate for people 70 and up is about four percent—four in 100 among those 70 and older, as opposed to two in 1,000 in the overall population.

Again, this huge difference between the danger of COVID to the young and the danger of COVID to the old is the most important fact about the virus. Yet it has not been sufficiently emphasized in public health messaging or taken into account by most policymakers.

3. Deadliness of the Lockdowns

The widespread lockdowns that have been adopted in response to COVID are unprecedented—lockdowns have never before been tried as a method of disease control. Nor were these lockdowns part of the original plan. The initial rationale for lockdowns was that slowing the spread of the disease would prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. It became clear before long that this was not a worry: in the U.S. and in most of the world, hospitals were never at risk of being overwhelmed. Yet the lockdowns were kept in place, and this is turning out to have deadly effects.

Those who dare to talk about the tremendous economic harms that have followed from the lockdowns are accused of heartlessness. Economic considerations are nothing compared to saving lives, they are told. So I’m not going to talk about the economic effects—I’m going to talk about the deadly effects on health, beginning with the fact that the U.N. has estimated that 130 million additional people will starve this year as a result of the economic damage resulting from the lockdowns.

In the last 20 years we’ve lifted one billion people worldwide out of poverty. This year we are reversing that progress to the extent—it bears repeating—that an estimated 130 million more people will starve.

Another result of the lockdowns is that people stopped bringing their children in for immunizations against diseases like diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and polio, because they had been led to fear COVID more than they feared these more deadly diseases. This wasn’t only true in the U.S. Eighty million children worldwide are now at risk of these diseases. We had made substantial progress in slowing them down, but now they are going to come back.

Large numbers of Americans, even though they had cancer and needed chemotherapy, didn’t come in for treatment because they were more afraid of COVID than cancer. Others have skipped recommended cancer screenings. We’re going to see a rise in cancer and cancer death rates as a consequence. Indeed, this is already starting to show up in the data. We’re also going to see a higher number of deaths from diabetes due to people missing their diabetic monitoring.

Mental health problems are in a way the most shocking thing. In June of this year, a CDC survey found that one in four young adults between 18 and 24 had seriously considered suicide. Human beings are not, after all, designed to live alone. We’re meant to be in company with one another. It is unsurprising that the lockdowns have had the psychological effects that they’ve had, especially among young adults and children, who have been denied much-needed socialization.

In effect, what we’ve been doing is requiring young people to bear the burden of controlling a disease from which they face little to no risk. This is entirely backward from the right approach.

4. Where to Go from Here

Last week I met with two other epidemiologists—Dr. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University and Dr. Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University—in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The three of us come from very different disciplinary backgrounds and from very different parts of the political spectrum. Yet we had arrived at the same view—the view that the widespread lockdown policy has been a devastating public health mistake. In response, we wrote and issued the Great Barrington Declaration, which can be viewed—along with explanatory videos, answers to frequently asked questions, a list of co-signers, etc.—online at www.gbdeclaration.org.

The Declaration reads:

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings, and deteriorating mental health—leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all—including the vulnerable—falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity—i.e., the point at which the rate of new infections is stable—and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sports, and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

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I should say something in conclusion about the idea of herd immunity, which some people mischaracterize as a strategy of letting people die. First, herd immunity is not a strategy—it is a biological fact that applies to most infectious diseases. Even when we come up with a vaccine, we will be relying on herd immunity as an end-point for this epidemic. The vaccine will help, but herd immunity is what will bring it to an end. And second, our strategy is not to let people die, but to protect the vulnerable. We know the people who are vulnerable, and we know the people who are not vulnerable. To continue to act as if we do not know these things makes no sense.

My final point is about science. When scientists have spoken up against the lockdown policy, there has been enormous pushback: “You’re endangering lives.” Science cannot operate in an environment like that. I don’t know all the answers to COVID; no one does. Science ought to be able to clarify the answers. But science can’t do its job in an environment where anyone who challenges the status quo gets shut down or cancelled.

To date, the Great Barrington Declaration has been signed by over 43,000 medical and public health scientists and medical practitioners. The Declaration thus does not represent a fringe view within the scientific community. This is a central part of the scientific debate, and it belongs in the debate. Members of the general public can also sign the Declaration.

Together, I think we can get on the other side of this pandemic. But we have to fight back. We’re at a place where our civilization is at risk, where the bonds that unite us are at risk of being torn. We shouldn’t be afraid. We should respond to the COVID virus rationally: protect the vulnerable, treat the people who get infected compassionately, develop a vaccine. And while doing these things we should bring back the civilization that we had so that the cure does not end up being worse than the disease. 

Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, a publication of Hillsdale College  October 2020

 

Before October 6th, 1889

We finally came up with a partial answer to the problem of finding a decent movie or documentary to watch.

Before October 6th 1889  this was not an issue.

This past weekend, it was Sunday evening. both of us were feeling a  bit lost, we couldn’t find anything to watch,  I suggested that it is no different than someone who is addicted to sugar.  (Speaking as  someone who LOVES sweets).

Confession time – my taste buds prefer the sugar in a candy bar over that  of an apple, even though I “know” the apple is supposed to be better for me.

I’ll have the brownie, thank you very much.

In the same way I suspect,  my brain craves entertainment, escape, something to fill the void of a quiet evening.  I pontificated on my theory that both of of our brains might be in need of a little re-calibration.

What if, in the place of another brain dead movie, one of us read out loud to the other?

Find a good book and see what happens.

So that’s just what we did.

We have several (3)  book shelves on our second floor  overflowing with books neither one of us have ever read.

My wife came down with a couple of choices.

I ended up picking a book by James Herriot

I was hooked within the first two minutes.

Going to continue this experiment through the end of the year with periodic updates right here. 🙂

Now, as my blogging friend  LA likes to put it…discuss

 

 

 

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Update 4 hours later…came across the following just now…thought it fit right in:

Image may contain: text that says 'GLASBERGEN It's called reading. It's how people install new software into their brains.'

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Letter

Tis the season…

Saw the following this morning on FB.

Reminded me of a Christmas letter I wrote several years ago:

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I was working at Maxine’s house when her phone rang.

Maxine was Kevin S.’s mom (Kevin was a high school classmate of mine)

Maxine is gone now.  She had this infectious laugh.  I can still hear it in my head.

Maxine got off the phone, looked me  and laughed.  “That was your dad’s cousin Bob.  He calls me just about everyday,  sometimes several times a day to find out the latest gossip.” 

I’m thinking to myself,  how in the world does a 70 year old farmer have time to be such a busy body??  There’s just something odd about that.

“You know what I’d like to do, I said,  I would like to make up some gossip, say wife and I are expecting again, then see how long it takes before it gets around town. Tell him I was at your house today working and I just happened to mention we had one in the oven. 🙂

“Oh you don’t want to that she said,  because it will.”

I came home and told my wife, I had an idea.  What if we wrote one of those  Christmas letters  people  send at Christmas, make up a bunch of stuff and see what happens…

Wife wasn’t too keen on the idea initially.

“Come on, , it will be fun,” I said. We’ll see if anyone says anything…”

And that’s what I did.

We were in our mid 40’s at the time, I told everyone in the letter we were expecting another baby!

I wrote that I’d quit my job in construction and got a job as a loan officer in a bank.

Those are the two biggest whoppers that I remember.

Wasn’t too long after that Christmas letter went out, that our phone started ringing.  Dear friends calling to congratulate us on our unexpected blessing.  A package came in the mail from my wife’s aunt with a stuffed bear.

My wife was horrified!  What would she tell her aunt Delores???  What had she agreed to????

When my mom got wind of my prank, she did not think it too funny.  🙂

I told her how it all started.  It was mostly because of Dad’s cousin Bob.

“Promise me you’ll never  do that again?” mom said, with just a hint of a smile.

“OK, I said, I promise.”

 

 

Of Grit And Bone. 11/8/2020

Last Sunday evening, as we were settling in, my wife’s phone rang multiple times.  Third time, I thought I better answer.

Caller was bugging out.  It took me a couple of minutes before I was able to grasp the situation.

I’m not at liberty to get into too much detail here, for obvious reasons, but the call had to do with someone we know having a psychotic break.

This is the 2nd time this (psychotic break)  has happened in the last 10 years. 

Ever been around something like that?

As I was driving to town to see what I could do,  a Vince Lombardi quote kept coming to mind.   (While he was talking about the game of football, the quote could be applied to any situation.)

“Football….beyond any game invented by man is closest to war….it teaches a most important lesson of life….the ability to walk through a storm and keep your head high..”

  In the next hour, I got a  tongue lashing, talked  with a policeman,  and finished the night with the person having a psychotic break sleeping in our guest room….and I still had my wits about me. 

 

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I hate heights. 

I am a carpenter, have no problem working on roofs, as long as they are not too high.

Somehow,

(The need for $?)

I allowed myself to get talked into bidding the repairs on two end walls on house damaged from the Derecho that hit  in August.

Tuesday morning, I was 35 feet in the air on a JLG:

 

While that machine has the ability to go 40 feet in the air, what you may not realize until you operate one, is the more extended the boom, the bouncer it becomes. Every movement is amplified, not to mention those machines are designed to sit on a flat concrete surface, so most of the time this week,  one of the red warning lights was telling me to be careful.

I had 4 days of that low grade stress and I am still recovering.

I suggested to my wife on Thursday, we should celebrate the completion of the highest gable with a steak dinner after work.

I believe in  weaving small acts of celebration into my everyday life.

She was all for it!

(I think I mentioned this before. In September,we’d purchased a 1/2 of beef from a local farmer. By the time we paid the farmer and the locker, it averaged just $2.85 a pound.  As I was eating the 30 oz, 1 inch thick T bone steak sitting on my plate I was thinking about a proverb  “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.”

There I was, enjoying  the best of both worlds…a feast, and a quiet house. 

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When I got to the top of one end wall, I found a surprise. 🙂  Last guy up there had left his mark.  Reminded me of  Jules Vern’s, Journey to the Center of the Earth, where they would stumble across the initials A. S. (Arne Saknussemm).

Have you ever done that sort of thing?

(I added my DM to the mural. It seemed only fair. 🙂

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Got time for one more?

Yesterday morning, when I tried to print off an estimate before going to work,  the printer kept throwing off the  “paper jam” message. Only thing was, there was no paper in the printer. As I looked at it, I discovered a mouse had  stashed shelled corn in the bowels of the printer.   When you’re living in a 110 year old farmhouse with a limestone foundation,  there is bound to be a few trade offs.

Even after I was able to finally get all of the corn out, it wouldn’t work.

Brand new Epson Ecotank 2720.

Toast.

Trying to put the best construction on that $220 financial blow, I thought about the mouse. 

He was only doing what came naturally.

Prepping is hard wired into creation. 

It is not necessarily a lack of trust.

BTW, I did utter a few choice words as i processed that.  It took awhile…

Anyway, take care, and thanks for stopping by! DM

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