Archive for April, 2020

Me and My Machete

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

It’s bamboo season at the James household which means bamboo shoots will soon be sprouting up all over my yard and I need to cut them down as they appear to prevent them from becoming a sequel to “The Day of The Triffids. Another movie that comes to mind is “The Naked Jungle” but I’ll save the analogy for another post. I find the best tool for controlling the bamboo is my trusted machete. You have to cut them at the source before they engulf you and your yard.

My machete recalls another incident where it played a key role in getting my car back from a local car accessory store. I had left my car at the store to have roof rack fitted. It’s approximately half a mile from home as the crow flies. However I live at the end of a cul-de-sac, and walking the length of my street onto the adjoining highway would take three times as long to reach the store.

However there is a more direct way which would require cutting a path through brush and brambles to the rear of my property,  negotiating a steep bank which terminates into  a local church car park, and then onto the highway a couple of hundred yards from the store. Hence the need for the machete. It was a sunny spring day and I deemed the undergrowth not to be too intimidating.

Perhaps wearing a polo shirt and shorts was not the appropriate outfit to take on this challenge. Anyway I reached the base of the bank perspiring profusely with an accumulation of cuts and scratches on my arms, legs and neck. The steep bank presented more of an obstacle than I anticipated, but I eventually stumbled into the car park on my hands and knees. Luckily there was nobody around to witness my foolishness.

I recovered my composure to the best of my ability in the circumstances, and gingerly made my way along the road to the store which was now a mere 200 yards away. I was so relieved to make the store  that I forgot I was brandishing a machete, and seeping blood on various parts of my body. I opened the door to the reception to be confronted by the owner and another customer who immediately stopped their conversation and stared at me with terror etched across their faces.  My fellow customer finally cut (no, he didn’t have a weapon, not that I could see anyway) the ice and asked: “Tough neighborhood????” I just replied: “Oh no, I was just taking a short cut (there’s that word again.”) The owner stammered: ” Your c–c-c-c-car is r–r-r-ready Mr. James. I replied: “Let me catch my breath, and I’ll put my machete down and get my wallet out to pay you.” The owner said: “Take your time, Sir. I’m going to the restroom for a rub down with a damp edition of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.”

A Guide to Coronavirus-Related Words and Phrases

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Asymptomatic: someone who has not show symptoms of being ill

Cluster: a disease of infection “cluster” is a place where people are affected by the same health event at the same time in higher-than-expected numbers, the CDC says.

Community spread: the term means that people in an area have become infected with the virus, including people who are not sure how, or where, they became infected.

Complications:-pneumonia is a reported complication of COVD-19.

Coronavirus: a large family of viruses that can affect people and animals. The name comes from the Latin word for “crown” which is what coronaviruses resemble under a microscope.

COVID-19– An abbreviation of “coronavirus disease 2019”, its the World Organization’s official name for the new coronavirus.

Incubation period– the amount of time it takes for a person to show symptoms after being exposed to a disease. Experts believe the incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 days and 2 weeks.

Infectious: an infectious disease is an illness spread by pathogens, such as a virus or bacteria. They are sometimes different from person to person. Many infections are contagious, like the flu, but some, Like food poisoning, aren’t. COVID_19 is an example of a disease that is both contagious and infectious.

Isolation: isolation is put in place for people who are known to have the virus.

MERS: Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, is another known strain of coronavirus. It was first detected in 2012, and its largest outbreak occurred in 2015.

Mortality Rate: the mortality rate of a disease is defined by the CDC as the frequency of death in a given population in a given time period.. For COVID-19, it would be calculated by dividing the total number of deaths by the total number of cases.

Novel: a novel form of a disease means it is new. Before it had an official name, COVID-19 was referred to as a novel coronavirus because the strain hadn’t been seen in humans before.

Epidemic: an increase in the number of disease cases beyond what is normally expected. Often the increase is sudden, the CDC says.

N95 and surgical face masks: N95 respirator masks are the type most proven to protect you from acquiring COVID-19.

Outbreak: an outbreak is defined the same way as an epidemic but refers to a smaller geographic area.

Pandemic: a pandemic is defined by the CDC as a disease that has spread to multiple countries or continents.

Presumptive positive: A COVID-19 test result is referred to as a “presumptive positive” when a person has been tested positive by a public health laboratory but the result hasn’t been confirmed by the CDC.

Public Health Emergency: The WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency at the end of January. WHO defines a PHE as the imminent threat of an illness or health condition caused by bioterrorism, and epidemic or pandemic disease. It also defines it as an imminent threat from a highly fatal infectious agent or biological toxin  that puts a significant number of people at substantial risk.

Quarantine: in addition to separating sick people from healthy people, a quarantine also involves restricting a person’s movement.

SARS: severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, is another strain of coronavirus that was reported in China in 2002. It infected more than 8000 people in 26 countries by the time the outbreak stopped in July 2013.

Self-quarantine, self-isolation: people who largely stay inside their own home, hotel room or other space are said to s-q or s-I. However, there is a technical difference. Quarantine refers to people who appear healthy, but could be at  risk for exposure or infection. Isolation refers to separating  positive or presumptive cases from the healthy population.

Shelter in place: on March 16, six counties in the San Francisco area ordered residents to “shelter in place,” a directive aimed at keeping people  in their homes for three weeks, with the order widened to the whole state a few days later. It’s now being implemented around the world. It’s a fairly strict measure aimed at curbing community spread.

Social distancing: The CDC says social distancing is one way to prevent the spread of disease. It involves staying several feet apart from others whenever possible (a minimum of 6 feet is recommended) and doing things like avoiding public transportation and other crowded areas.

Symptomatic: a person who is symptomatic is showing signs of being sick or ill. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

Transmission: Transmission refers to how a disease spreads. COVID-19 spreads primarily through droplets when people cough and sneeze. Its possible that the virus can be spread by touching surfaces that are infected, but its believed to be less common.

Ventilators: it’s a machine that helps a person breathe by expanding their lungs and supplying them with oxygen when it’s too difficult to do so on their own.

Weak positive: a COVID-19 test that comes back as “weak positive” means that low levels of the virus were found.

Z00notic disease: Coronaviruses are transmitted between humans and animals-that’s the “z00” in zoonotic. It’s believed that the virus originated in a shoehorn bat before being transmitted to another animal, and then to humans. Domestic pets are not currently considered reservoirs to widely spread the disease, however. Other zoonotic diseases include anthrax, rabies, lyme disease, swine flu, West Nile virus, salmonella and malaria.