DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

June 22, 2020


OK, I admit, I generally read a document occurring online by printing it out first.  It’s not the size of my monitor or the font size or the font type.  I suppose I’m really “old-school” and the feel of a piece of paper in my hand is preferable.  There is one thing, I’m always writing in the margins, making notes, checking references, summarizing, and it helps to have a paper copy.   Important documents are saved to my hard-drive AND saved in a hard-copy file. I probably do need a digital transformation.

The June issue of “Control Engineering” published an excellent article on digital transformation with the following definition: “Digital transformation is about transforming and changing the business for the future and creating new and better ways of doing that business.”    In other words, it’s about becoming more efficient, faster, and with fewer errors.  Digital transformation creates new capabilities and new processes, reduces capital costs and operating costs, empowers teams, improves decision making, creates new and better products and services for customers.   All of this involves being able to communicate effectively with all individuals understanding the vocabulary.  This is where we sometimes get confused.  We say one thing but mean quite another.  I would like now to describe and define several words and phrases used when discussing digital transformation.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)—Systems that can analyze great amounts of data and extract trends and knowledge from seemingly incoherent numbers.
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)—Smart devices, smart machines, and smart sensors only work and make sense when they are connected and can talk to one another.
  • Machine Learning (ML)—Smart machines create and extend their own mathematical models to make decisions, and even predictions, without having to be programmed; they essentially learn from the past and from the world around them.
  • Augmented Reality (AR)—Anything and everything in the real world can be enhanced, or augmented by digital transformation. It does not have to be only visual; it can be any or all of the five (5) senses.
  • Virtual Reality (VR)—Virtual reality has been around for some by in the world of gaming.  It is also being used to create simulations, training, and providing instruction in a graphic manner.
  • Digital Twin—Digital twins are connected to their physical counterparts to create cyber-physical systems.  Digital twins get continuous real-time data streams from the physical twin, becoming a digital replica.
  • Digital Thread—A digital thread provides data from start to finish for processes—manufacturing and otherwise.
  • Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)—Any facility that executes manufacturing orders through programming.
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)—A system that interrogates and records data relative to parts, subassemblies, and overall assemblies.
  • Advanced Robotics—Autonomous robotic systems that facilitate manufacturing, parts “picking and placing”, and other operations that can be automated using robotic systems.
  • Collaborative Robotic Systems—Systems that interact with humans to accomplish a specific task.
  • Mobile Internet—Cell phones, i-pads, laptops, etc.  Any system that can “travel” with an individual user.
  • 3D Printing—Additive manufacturing that builds a product by adding material layer by layer to form a finished part.
  • Cloud and Edge Computing—On-demand data storage and on-demand computing power from any location.

I am sure other words describing technology will result from the digital transformation age.  We all need to get use to it because there is absolutely no going back.  Jump in, become familiar with available technology that can and will transform the manner in which we do business. 


A true story and one of the very best books I’ve read this year.  During the COVID-19 “lock-downs”, my wife and I have tried to obey all of the rules; i.e. 1.) Stay in: grocery store, pharmacy, doctors’ appointments, etc., 2.) Wear masks at all times when you do go out, 3.) If ordering out, do curb-side ordering only.  You get the picture.  This is week number twelve (12) and cabin fever is really showing.  The state of Tennessee has relaxed the rules somewhat and we are in Phase 2 of the “getting back to normal” but it’s a new normal.  Social distancing is a must as well as wearing masks and sometimes gloves.  Of course, some people do not obey any rules and that’s their deal.  During this very strange period of time, I have read eight (8) books as well as doing a great deal of in-house work, primarily painting.   The last book read– Forty Autumns.

HISTORY:

First, let me mention that I have never read a book detailing the lives of those in East Berlin and East Germany after World War II.  As you know, after the war, the Allied Powers controlled West Germany and Russia controlled East Germany.  This of course includes Berlin.  After the Potsdam conference, Germany was divided into four occupied zones: Great Britain in the northwest, France in the southwest, the United States in the south and the Soviet Union in the east.  Berlin, the capital city situated in Soviet territory, was also divided into four occupied zones.  Sir Winston Churchill coined the phrase “The Iron Curtin” and this became the code words for east versus west.   The division of Germany into capitalist West and Communist East did not lead to the Cold War so much as it exacerbated existing tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Cold War was already well under way when Germany was divided up into East and West.

The Cold War was a long period of tension between the democracies of the Western World and the communist countries of Eastern Europe. The west was led by the United States and Eastern Europe was led by the Soviet Union. These two countries became known as superpowers and definitely caused world-wide tension between all nations.  During this period of time we saw the nuclear arms race, domestic turmoil, significant degradation of human rights for those behind the “iron Curtin”, the Cuban blockade, and the beginning of the “space race”.  It was a tumultuous time and the “doomsday clock” got very close to twelve midnight more than a couple of times. 

THE AUTHOR:

American-born Nina Willner was five (5) years old when she learned her maternal grandmother, Oma, lived “behind a curtain,” in East Germany. As mentioned previously, the Iron Curtain was an ideologically charged metaphor but also a harsh reality that divided many German families in the aftermath of World War II.

Willner’s rebellious mother, Hanna, successfully escaped East Germany at the young age of twenty (20), after three previous attempts. But she paid a steep, if predictable, emotional price: virtually complete separation, for decades, from her parents and eight siblings, including her youngest sister, Heidi, born after Hanna’s flight.

Like many East Germans, Hanna’s family struggled to come to terms with the regime’s totalitarian demands and to find some measure of satisfaction in their private lives. Meanwhile, only a couple of visits, a rare phone call and anodyne letters pierced the silence between Hanna and those she left behind. With even mail subject to the snooping — and often interdiction — of the ubiquitous secret police of the Stasi, it was perilous to express genuine emotions, let alone political complaints.

Ms. Willner is a former US Army intelligence officer who served in Berlin during the Cold War. The book is very careful to detail why she joined the armed service after graduating from college.  She simply wanted to show her gratitude for living in a free country and felt the Army was the best way to give back.  Following a career in intelligence, Nina worked in Moscow, Minsk and Prague promoting human rights, children’s causes and the rule of law for the US Government, non-profit organizations and a variety of charities. She currently lives in Washington, DC and Istanbul, Turkey. Forty Autumns is her first book and is a great testament to her parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  You can certainly tell her family is the uppermost thought in her life and desire to know them better takes over forty years.   A picture of Ms. Willner is show below.

THE STORY:

Forty Autumns makes visceral the pain and longing of one family forced to live apart in a world divided by two. At twenty, Hanna, Nina’s mother, escaped from East to West Germany. But the price of freedom—leaving behind her parents, eight siblings, and family home—was heartbreaking. She was definitely on her own initially and lived from day-to-day right after she came to west Berlin.  The first order of business was to find a job.  She had earlier been trained as a stenographer and being bi-lingual, found work as a translator.   After some years, Hanna moved to America, where she settled down with her husband and had children of her own.

Growing up near Washington, D.C., Hanna’s daughter, Nina Willner became the first female Army Intelligence Officer to lead sensitive intelligence operations in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War. Though only a few miles separated American Nina and her German relatives—grandmother Oma, Aunt Heidi, and cousin, Cordula, a member of the East German Olympic training team—a bitter political war kept them apart.  Russian intelligence was overbearing to the citizens of east Germany and visitation was strictly monitored to the point of almost being impossible.  Only avowed Communists were allowed to travel. 

In Forty Autumns, Nina recounts her family’s story—five ordinary lives buffeted by circumstances beyond their control. She takes us deep into the tumultuous and terrifying world of East Germany under Communist rule, revealing both the cruel reality her relatives endured and her own experiences as an intelligence officer, running secret operations behind the Berlin Wall that put her life at risk.

A personal look at a tenuous era that divided a city and a nation, and continues to haunt us, Forty Autumns is an intimate and beautifully written story of courage, resilience, and love—of five women whose spirits could not be broken, and who fought to preserve what matters most: family.

One great part of the book is all of the black and white photographs of Ms. Willner’s family behind the Iron Curtin.  A great indication that this is a “real” story—not fiction.  It really happened and there are today survivors of that cold war period of time.   I can definitely recommend to you this great book.  Buy it—read it, then be happy we live in a country that is basically free.


THE WORLD—A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

I have just completed reading the book mentioned above.  Mr.  Richard Haass does a marvelous job in giving the reader a very quick but extremely concise history lesson, both past and present.  He is NOT judgmental or condemning but informative and simply provides history in a factual manner.

RICHARD HAASS:

Dr. Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the preeminent independent, nonpartisan organization in the United States dedicated to the study of American foreign policy. An experienced diplomat and policymaker, Dr. Haass was director of policy planning for the Department of State from 2001 until 2003, where he was a principal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell on a broad range of foreign policy concerns. Confirmed by the U.S. Senate to hold the rank of ambassador, Dr. Haass served as U.S. coordinator for policy toward the future of Afghanistan and was the U.S. envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process. He was also special assistant to President George H.W. Bush and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs on the staff of the National Security Council from 1989 to 1993. A recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, and the Tipperary International Peace Award, he is the author or editor of fifteen books, including the best-selling A World in Disarray. A Rhodes scholar, he holds a BA from Oberlin College and both master and doctor of philosophy degrees from Oxford University. He has received honorary degrees from Central College, Colgate University, Franklin & Marshall College, Georgetown University, Hamilton College, Miami Dade College, and Oberlin College.

THE BOOK:

The World—A Brief Introduction is designed to provide readers of any age and experience with the essential background and building blocks they need to make sense of this complicated and interconnected world. Mr. Haass indicates in the very first part of the book the very real fact that our schools seem to be failing at fully preparing students in history, both past and present.   This book will empower the reader in managing the flood of daily news. Readers will become more informed, discerning citizens, better able to arrive at sound, independent judgments. While it is impossible to predict what the next crisis will be or where it will originate, those who read The World will have what they need to understand its basics and the principal choices for how to respond.

In short, this book will make readers more globally literate and put them in a position to make sense of this era. Global literacy–knowing how the world works–is a must, as what goes on outside a country matters enormously to what happens inside. Although the United States is bordered by two oceans, those oceans are not moats. And the so-called Vegas rule–what happens there stays there–does not apply in today’s world to anyone anywhere. U.S. foreign policy is uniquely American, but the world Americans seek to shape is not. Globalization can be both good and bad, but it is not something that individuals or countries can opt out of. Even if we want to ignore the world, it will not ignore us. The choice we face is how to respond.

I would like now to give you several facts from Dr. Haass’s book that will indicate the level of detail presented and some flavor for the discourse:

  • A recent survey of over eleven hundred (1100) American colleges and universities found that only seventeen percent (17%) require students to take courses in U.S. government or history, while only three percent (3%) require them to take course work in economics.
  • One survey of the top American colleges and universities showed that less than one-third required history majors to take a single course in U.S. government.
  • Approximately one-third of Americans who graduate from high school do not attend any college and only forty percent (40%) do achieve a degree.
  • During WWI, as many as two hundred thousand (200,000) British forces were killed or wounded in a single campaign.  This was the battle for the Gallipoli peninsula.
  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact were structured to provide communication between countries and to preclude additional strife and war in Western and East Europe.
  • No religion claims a majority of the world’s people. Nearly one-third of the world’s population is Christian (close to two point three billion).  One point eight billion people are Muslims.  Just over one billion are Hindus, nearly five hundred thousand are Buddhists and approximately fifteen million are Jewish.  More than one billion claim no religion at all.
  • The Middle-East and North Africa have fifty-three percent (53%) of the world’s oil reserves.  The Middle-East and North Africa have forty-five percent (45%) of the world’s natural gas reserves.
  • Africa has four hundred and five million people living on less than two U.S. dollars per day. South Asia, two hundred and twelve million, East Asia forth-seven million, the Americas, twenty-six million, Middle East and North Africa, fifteen million, Central Asia, five million and Europe, four million.  Less than two dollars per day.
  • The Americas leads the world in homicides with sixteen point two (16.2) per 100,000 people.  These are 2017 statistics.
  • A significant number of terrorist attacks occurred in 2017 with Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and the Philippines being the most troubled.
  • In looking at the stockpile of nuclear warheads: Russia has 4,330, the U.S. has 3,800, France has 300, the UK has 215.  There are five others with nuclear capabilities.
  • Over one percent (1%) of the world’s population has been displaced due to war, economic conditions, crime, and environmental conditions.
  • The U.S. dollar is the most widely held reserve currency.
  • In looking at the human development index considering 1.) Education, 2.) Income and 3.) Life expectancy, the United States is number thirteen on the list with Norway ranking at ninety-five point three (95.3%).
  • Over five hundred thousand (500,000) Syrians have lost their lives and a majority of the population have been made homeless as a result of the conflict in Syria.  The Syrian government has played a major role in that horrible number.

I could go on from there with many more examples from Dr. Haass’s book but you get the picture—now buy and read the book.  Dr. Haass has fifty-six pages of notes and sources he has consulted during research for this book.   He has the numbers.

WORDS MATTER

June 1, 2020


We all know that words matter.  What we say and what we think really do effect people in a multitude of ways.  Washington Irving said, “ A tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.”  Robert M. Helsel said,” He who dares to speak with a razor sharp tongue, shall in end, bare the final scar.”  Well, I think we can all agree that being overly critical and unkind can produce real issues between the speaker and the recipient. 

If that is the case, how about those times when we just do not get the message correct.  We know what we mean but it just does not come out as intended.  We all do it at times. 

I have examples below showing the brighter side of providing a “mixed-message”.  These are actual statements written to deliver information and content.  Church Bloopers, if you will.  Let’s take a look.

  • Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled.  Proceeds will be used  to cripple children.
  • The outreach committee has enlisted twenty-five visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.
  • The Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10:00. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.
  • Low self-esteem support group will meet Thursday at 7:00 to 8:00 P.M. Please use the back door.
  • For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
  • The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, “Break Forth into Joy”.
  • Miss Carlene Mason sang, “I will not pass this way again, giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
  • Ladies don’t forget the rummage sale. It is a good chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house.  Bring your husbands.
  • The sermon this morning: Jesus Walks on Water.  The sermon tonight: Searching for Jesus.
  • Next Thursday, there will be tryouts for the choir.  They need all the help they can get.
  • Barbara C. remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions.  She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack’s sermons.
  • The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind and they may be seen in the church basement Friday.
  • This afternoon there will be a meeting in the north and south ends of the church.  Children will be baptized at both ends.
  • Weight Watchers will meet at 7:00 P.M. Please use the large double door at the side entrance.

Care must always be taken to say what we mean and mean what we say in a fashion that is straight forward, concise, and meaningful.  “I’m saying the obvious”.

JACK REACHER

May 25, 2020


Last year a good friend of mine introduced me to the writer Lee Child.   Mr. Child created the character Jack Reacher who is, in my opinion, one of the most unique and interesting individuals in literature.  He is not quite a shining hero and has numerous flaws but he gets the job done.

JACK REACHER—THE CHARACTER

Reacher left home at eighteen (18), graduated from West Point. Performed thirteen (13) years of Army service, demoted from Major to Captain in 1990, mustered out with the rank of Major in 1997. Born on an Army base in Germany. His father chose his name; it read “Jack-none-Reacher” on the birth certificate faxed to the Berlin Embassy. They called his brother Joe, but nobody ever called Jack by his first name. How it came about, no one knows but Jack was always called Reacher.

His father was career military so as kids, Jack and his brother moved so much that spending a full school year in any one place felt weird. “Our friends just kept disappearing. Some unit would be shipped out somewhere and a bunch of kids would be gone. Sometimes we saw them again in a different place. Plenty of them we never saw again. Nobody ever said hello or goodbye. You were just either there or not there.”

If we look at his service awards, we see the following:

Top row: Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit
Second row: Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart
Bottom row: “Junk awards” (Or so he calls them.)

“Medals?” we ask?  And he answered:


“Dozens of the damn things,” he said. “You know how it is. Theater medals, of course, plus a Silver Star, two Bronzes, Purple Heart from Beirut, campaign things from Panama and Grenada and Desert Shield and Desert Storm.”


“A Silver Star?” we asked. “What for?”
“Beirut,” he said. “Pulled some guys out of the bunker.”


“And you got wounded doing that?”  “That’s how you got the scar and the Purple Heart?”
“I was already wounded,” he said. “Got wounded before I went in. I think that was what impressed them.”

What he doesn’t have: A driver’s license, Federal benefits (doesn’t want them), tax returns (doesn’t do them; he hasn’t filed taxes since he left the Army).  Major, US Army retired, travels from place to place taking nothing with him but the clothes on his back and a toothbrush.  He is definitely a wondering star which is why he is so unique.  He wears his clothes until needing new ones, trashes the ones he has, and starts out again. 

The stories that I love are basically about the knight-errant, the mysterious stranger. And the reason why people think that’s an essentially American paradigm is the Westerns. The Westerns were absolutely rock solid with that stuff. You know, the mysterious rider comes in off the range, sorts out the problem, and rides off into the sunset. It is just such a total paradigm, but not invented in America. That was imported from the medieval tales of Europe. The knight-errant: literally a knight, somehow banished and forced to wander the land doing good deeds. It’s part of storytelling in every culture. Japan has it with the ronin myth; every culture has this Robin Hood idea. So really, that character was forced out of Europe as Europe became more densely populated and more civilized. That character no longer had stories in Europe; it had to migrate to where the frontier was still open and dangerous, which was America, essentially. So, the character, I think, is actually universal and historic, most recently, normally represented in America. I think the Westerns saw it firmly adopted by America, so yeah, right now, we think of this as a completely American character, but really, it’s more historic than that. But I’m very happy to have that reference made.

LEE CHILD

James Dover Grant CBE (born 29 October 1954), is primarily known by his pen name Lee Child. He is a British author who writes fiction “thriller” novels, and is best known for his Jack Reacher novel series. … His first novel, Killing Floor (1997), won both the Anthony Award, and the Barry Award for Best First Novel.

As mentioned, Mr. Child was born in 1954 in Coventry, England, but spent his formative years in the nearby city of Birmingham. By coincidence he won a scholarship to the same high school that JRR Tolkien had attended. He went to law school in Sheffield, England, and after part-time work in the theater he joined Granada Television in Manchester for what turned out to be an eighteen-year career as a presentation director during British TV’s “golden age.” During his tenure his company made Brideshead RevisitedThe Jewel in the CrownPrime Suspect, and Cracker. But he was fired in 1995 at the age of 40 as a result of corporate restructuring. Always a voracious reader, he decided to see an opportunity where others might have seen a crisis and bought six dollars’ worth of paper and pencils and sat down to write a book, Killing Floor, the first in the Jack Reacher series.

Lee Child has written twenty-two (22) Reacher books and has numerous short stories to his credit.   I have read eight (8) Reacher novels and what I find very interesting is there are no two plots remotely similar—same Reacher style but differing in outcome and story line.    Always interesting twists in each and generally a surprise ending awaits the reader.  Also, very interesting and somewhat challenging;

there is a great diversity of characters in each Reacher book.   Mr. Child takes great care in developing each character, thus giving the reader enough background information to keep our undivided attention.  Another thing, most of the characters are really evil, mean and contemptuous scum.  The worst of the worst.  Keeps things really interesting as to how Reacher overcomes all adversaries to achieve an eventual successful outcome.  The good guy always wins in the Lee Child books.

Now, one “bone to pick”, Tom Cruise played Jack Reacher in two movies and Mr. Cruise was not quite the fit needed relative to the character in Lee Child’s books.  Reacher is six foot five inches tall.  Cruise is five foot seven.  Reacher is two hundred and fifty pounds, Cruise probably, one hundred and seventy-five at the most.  Don’t get me wrong, Cruise is a very good actor but that was a real flaw in casting.

I think you will certainly enjoy Reacher the character and all of the Child books.  Mr. Child is a “word-smith” in the truest since of the word and can certainly weave a great mystery novel. 


First, let us define a collaborative robot or cobot:  “Cobots, or collaborative robots, are robots intended to interact with humans in a shared space or to work safely in close proximity.  Cobots stand in contrast to traditional industrial robots which are designed to work autonomously with safety assured by isolation from human contact.   Cobot safety may rely on lightweight construction materials, rounded edges, and limits on speed or force. Safety may also require sensors and software to assure good collaborative behavior.”

A picture is probably worth a thousand words so take a look.

You will notice the lady above is “collaborating” with the robotic system above.  They BOTH are providing an assembly operation.


The robotic system shown above is drilling a hole in flat metal material while the worker watches.  The drill pattern has been previously chosen and programmed into the computer driving the system.

HISTORY:

The first definition of a cobot comes from a 1999 US patent filing for “an apparatus and method for direct physical integration between a person and a general-purpose manipulator controlled by a computer.”   This description basically refers to what we would now call an Intelligent Assist Device or IAD. An IAD is the ancestor of modern cobots, which resulted from the efforts of General Motors to implement robotics in the automotive sector of our economy.   This new device could move in a non-caged environment to help human workers in assembly operations.  For safety reasons, it had no internal source of motion power.  Please note the “non-caged” description.  For safety reasons, most robotic, non-COBOT, systems are surrounded with safety barriers to protect employees.  COBOTS are generally not of that category. 

In 2004, robotics developer KUKA released their LBR3, a lightweight COBOT with motion of its own.  This was the result of a long collaboration between company and the German Aerospace Center Institute.  Its motion-controlled capabilities were later refined in two updated versions and released in 2008 and 2013.

In 2008, Universal Robots released the UR5, a COBOT THAT COULD safely operate alongside employees, eliminating the need for safety caging or fencing.  The robot helped launch the era of flexible, user-friendly and very cost-effective collaborative robots.  These gave small-to-medium manufacturers the possibly of automating their facilities without investing in cost-prohibitive technology or in a complete make-over of their manufacturing capability.

As with all revolutionary technology, COBOTS were initially met with significant skepticism by the manufacturing industry.  Many facility managers saw them as technological marvels but questioned the possibility of integrating them into actual working environments. Today, however, the market for industrial COBOTS has an annual growth rate of fifty percent (50%) and it is estimated that it will hit three billion USD ($3.00 billion) in global revenue by the end of 2020.

There are limitations at the present time relative to applying COBOTS to manufacturing processes. The most important ones are the need for fine dexterity—for example, when picking up small and delicate pieces and the ability to make decisions rapidly to avoid obstacles without stopping production.   Some of these issues are being overcome by integrating vision systems allowing the COBOT to adapt to environmental changes.  This include obstacles of different nature and variation in the position of the object they are supposed to pick up and locations where they must be dropped off.   This new technology not only eliminates the need for precise positioning, but allows manufacturers to finally combine safety and maximum productivity.  The increased sensitivity will allow several COBOTS to work together independently, performing different tasks without colliding.

LOSING BUSINESS

May 18, 2020


Cuando yo era nina, mi familia y yo siempre ibamos de vacaciones a Montevideo or a Rio de Janerio. 

Did you understand the sentence above?  If not, maybe you should have. Let’s look:

 When I was a child, my family and I always used to go on vacation to Montevideo or to Rio de Janerio. 

I certainly did NOT know that in 2015, the United States had more Spanish speakers that Spain.  According to the U.S. Census Office, by 2050 there will be one hundred and thirty-eight (138) million Spanish speaking people in the U.S.  This would make our country the largest Spanish-speaking country on the planet.

Spanish is not the only language you and your employees may need to understand when doing business.  In the U.S., about sixty-five (65) million residents speak a language other than English. Forty (40%) percent of those are limited or have no English proficiency.  This to me is very striking.  From this, we must ask, how many of us speak ONLY English? 

In 1978 I worked for a company that designed and manufactured water heaters, both residential and commercial.  We had recently secured a customer located in the Netherlands that was very interested in our commercial product.  That new customer required our product to meet the standards of the Dutch Gas Institute in Apeldoorn, Holland.  I was in charge of the engineering effort at that company and as such was designated to fly to Apeldoorn and work the product through the testing and approval process.  The staff at the Gas Institute were extremely helpful during my three-week visit and did everything possible to make my stay successful.  While there, I met the receptionist for the Institute and signed in and out with her every day.  She not only spoke great English, but five other languages as well.  I was amazed at her language abilities.  One other thing I discovered, she was not paid enough by the Institute to afford an automobile.  She road a bicycle to and from work.  Imagine being able to speak fluently in six languages and not be able to own a car.  It seems that’s not so uncommon in western Europe because most people are multi-lingual.

I really never understood why Americans are not embarrassed about their considerable lack of language skills.  In my opinion, and it is my opinion, we sometimes come off to people in other countries as being arrogant.  We cannot be bothered to learn another language.  QUESTION:  Could this great lack of language skills be costing us from an economic standpoint?   According to a fairly new study from the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages, twenty-two percent (22%) of manufacturing companies reported they could not pursue or lost business due to language barriers.

The demand for language skills is greater than it has ever been and that gap seems to be gradually widening.  In order for that gap to lessen, we are going to have to address several foundational issues relative to teaching languages.  So, whose job is it to teach languages?  I know for a fact that it is much easier to learn a second or even third language when you are in grammar school, middle school or even high school as opposed to learning languages as an adult.  Been there, done that, got the “T” shirt. Right now, fewer than twenty percent (20%) of students in middle and high school are learning a second language.  In my opinion, languages should and MUST be required for graduation.

Why don’t we make foreign languages a strategic focus throughout the recruitment process and in doing so, we will find that more and more high school students and college graduates will pay attention to the need.   If hiring is dependent upon language skills, we will find more students getting on board at an earlier stage in their education.  Next, train talented candidates and employees who lack the required skills to improve their proficiency.  It seems to me that companies, specifically multi-national companies, must identify and cultivate a pipeline of multilingual talent.  Partner with colleges and universities and trade schools to offer internships and job opportunities for qualified students and recent graduates with the linguistic and global competencies your organization needs and requires.  

While being able to speak another language is essential to the current economic reality, the overriding benefit is that it allows us to gain insight into other cultures with a side effect—we become a better person.  Just a thought. 

THE BONE TREE

May 11, 2020


The Bone Tree was written by Mr. Greg Iles, who is, in my opinion, a fabulous writer.  Let’s look at a very quick biography of Mr. Iles right now.

GREG ILES:

Greg Iles was born in Germany in 1960.  His father ran the US Embassy Medical Clinic during the height of the Cold War. Mr. Iles spent all of his younger years in Natchez, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1983.  Demonstrating his artistic abilities in another manner, he spent several years playing music in the band “Frankly Scarlet.” The year after he was married, he gigged on the road for fifty (50) weeks out of fifty-two (52), and realized that this lifestyle was simply not sustainable with a family. He quit the band and began working eighteen hours a day on his first novel, Spandau Phoenix. Spandau Phoenix is a thriller about the Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess.  When Greg sold this manuscript, he left the music business altogether to complete the book. Spandau Phoenix was published in 1993 and became the first of eight (8) New York Times bestsellers.

Over the course of the next few years, he broke the formula adhered to by most commercial novelists in writing a variety of genres. Perhaps surprisingly, each found a place on the bestseller list, and today, readers look forward to discovering what new subject Greg has explored in his latest novel.

The novels of Mr. Iles have been translated into more than a dozen (12) languages and published in more than twenty (20) countries worldwide.  At the present time, 11 May 2020, he has sixteen (16) published books to his credit.   Greg currently lives in Natchez, Mississippi, with his wife and their two children.

THE BONE TREE:  Clinic during the height of the Cold War.  Iles spent his youth in Natchez, Mississippi, and graduated from the University of The Bone Tree is an incredible followup to Natchez Burning.  One of the best middle installments of a trilogy I have ever come across. At the very heart of Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree books is family – not just one family – several. The deceit and lies they tell and the lengths they will go to love and protect their own is outstanding. They absolutely pull no punches in protecting each other.

The Cage family (one that has been prominent in several books written by Mr. Iles), is revered by most in Natchez – even when their choices are not understood; while the Knox family incites fear in women and men alike. Good does not just battle evil in the Bone Tree. It is not a place that most can find. And is not a place you want to visit. For most do not escape.

Hard choices are made daily and evil wins out… most of the time. But champions like Dr. Tom Cage, Penn Cage and Caitlin Masters take up the cause to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, like Viola Turner and Henry Sexton. Dr. Tom Cage, having suffered more than most will stop at nothing to protect what he holds dear. Caitlin Masters works tirelessly to try and discover the mysteries of the Bone Tree. She finds it and discovers the true evil that lurk there.  

The themes in this book are riveting and heartbreaking: the roots of racism/modern-day racism in the south; and a conspiracy theory regarding the death of JFK (and the deaths of RFK and MLK).  It is these themes interwoven with the beloved characters of Tom and Penn Cage that make this book impossible to put down.  Now, one caution, The Bone Tree is a whopping eight hundred and four (804) pages long.  The reason for that length—meticulous descriptions of each character AND the situations the characters experience as they travel their way trying to find the truth.  If you choose to read this book, you will find the very root of evil.  The Knox family is truly one of the most disgusting families found in literature.  They are, to a person, evil personified.   Their evil is counterbalanced with several people tirelessly working to discover the truth.  And with that, you have a truly fascinating book.  I have no idea as to why Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree have not been made into a motion picture. 

Hope you enjoy the read.

INFECTIOUS DISEASES

April 10, 2020


My wife and I are well into our “senior years”; consequently, we are now “stay-at-home” parents and grandparents until COVID-19 is a thing of the past.  That is, if that’s possible.  We only go out to the grocery store and the pharmacy.  We order from a delivery service if we want to experience something other than a home-cooked meal.  I think most people are doing likewise because it is the most prudent thing to do.  Let’s take a look at the twenty-seven (27) most devastating infectious diseases. 

A VERY BRIEF WORD ABOUT PANDEMIS HISTORY VS DEATHRATE:

Overall, the death rate from infectious diseases dropped from about eight hundred (800) deaths per one hundred thousand (100,000) people in 1900 to forty-six (46) deaths per one hundred thousand (100,000) people in 2014, the study found. The death rate declined almost continuously from 1900 to 1950, except for a spike in deaths in 1918 due to an outbreak of influenza known as the “Spanish flu pandemic.”

The rate has been relatively level since 1950, but there have been some ups and downs. For example, from 1980 to 1995 — around the time of the HIV/AIDS epidemic — the overall death rate from infectious diseases increased from forty-two (42) deaths per one hundred thousand (100,000) people to sixty-three (63) deaths per 100,000 people, the researchers found. [27 Devastating Infectious Diseases.

Many are looking to historic pandemics to find answers about the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak that has much of the world ground to a halt under quarantine and social distancing mandates. But “public health” wasn’t even a concept before one European crisis forced authorities to act: The bubonic plague or Black Death.

Let’s take a look at several diseases that have plagued the world over the past one hundred years or more.

DISEASES AND PANDEMICS:

The new coronavirusIn COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”. There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. Using available preliminary data, the median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases is approximately 2 weeks and is 3-6 weeks for patients with severe or critical disease.  This is definitely a pandemic with 1,429,516 cases reported, 85,711 deaths and infections in two hundred and twelve (212) countries.  These numbers are as of 9 April 2020 and 1400 hours.

SmallpoxBefore smallpox was eradicated, it was a serious infectious disease caused by the variola virus. It was contagious—meaning, it spread from one person to another. People who had smallpox had a fever and a distinctive, progressive skin rash.  Most people with smallpox recovered, but about 3 out of every 10 people with the disease died. Many smallpox survivors have permanent scars over large areas of their body, especially their faces. Some are left blind. Thanks to the success of vaccination, smallpox was eradicated, and no cases of naturally occurring smallpox have happened since 1977. The last natural outbreak of smallpox in the United States occurred in 1949.

  • Plague– Plague is a zoonotic disease affecting rodents and transmitted by fleas from rodents to other animals and to humans. Direct person-to-person transmission does not occur except in the case of pneumonic plague, when respiratory droplets may transfer the infection from the patient to others in close contact.
  •  Bubonic plague is the form that usually results from the bite of infected fleas. Lymphadenitis develops in the drainage lymph nodes, with the regional lymph nodes most commonly affected. Swelling, pain and suppuration of the lymph nodes produces the characteristic plague buboes.
  • Septicaemic plague may develop from bubonic plague or occur in the absence of lymphadenitis. Dissemination of the infection in the bloodstream results in meningitis, endotoxic shock and disseminated intravascular coagulation.
  • Pneumonic plague may result from secondary infection of the lungs following dissemination of plague bacilli from other body sites. It produces severe pneumonia. Direct infection of others may result from transfer of infection by respiratory droplets, causing primary pulmonary plague in the recipients.  Without prompt and effective treatment, fifty to sixty percent (50–60%)

 of cases of bubonic plague are fatal, while untreated septicaemic and pneumonic plague are invariably fatal.

Malaria– Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die. In 2018 an estimated two hundred and twenty-two (228) million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and four hundred and five thousand (405,000) people died, mostly children in the African Region. About two thousand (2,000) cases of malaria are diagnosed in the United States each year. The vast majority of cases in the United States are in travelers and immigrants returning from countries where malaria transmission occurs, many from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Influenza Influenza is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. Influenza is commonly called the flu, but it’s not the same as stomach “flu” viruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.

For most people, influenza resolves on its own. But sometimes, influenza and its complications can be deadly. People at higher risk of developing flu complications include:

  • Young children under age five (5), and especially those under twelve (12) months
  • Adults older than age sixty-five (65)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes
  • People who are very obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of forty (40) or higher

Tuberculosis– Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body. TB spreads through the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, or talks.  In a person who has a healthy immune system, the body usually fights the infection by walling off (encapsulating) the bacteria into tiny capsules called tubercles.

HIV/AIDS– HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV can only infect human beings (H), weakens your immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection (I), and, as a virus, can only reproduce itself by taking over a cell in the body of its host (V). HIV is a lot like other viruses, like those that cause the flu or the common cold, except that normally, your immune system can clear most viruses out of your body. With HIV, our bodies can’t get rid of it. Once you have HIV, you have it for life. The good news? With proper treatment, called antiretroviral therapy (ART, sometimes referred to as high active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART), you can keep the level of HIV in your body low, so it is considered undetectable.

AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is acquired (A) – it’s not something you inherit from your parents. A person acquires AIDS after birth. AIDS involves the body’s immune system (I), which includes all the organs and cells that work to fight off infection or disease. A person with HIV is diagnosed with AIDS when their immune system has reached a certain level of deficiency, or isn’t working the way it should. Lastly, AIDS is a syndrome (S), or a complex illness with a wide range of complications, symptoms, and signs of disease.

Cholera– Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the toxigenic bacterium Vibrio cholerae serogroup O1 or O139. An estimated that close to three million (2.9 million) cases and ninety-five thousand (95,000) deaths occur each year around the world. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe. Approximately one in ten percent (10%) infected persons will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.

Rabies Rabies is a zoonotic disease (a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans), caused by the rabies virus, of the Lyssavirus genus, within the family Rhabdoviridae. Domestic dogs are the most common reservoir of the virus, with more than ninety-nine percent (99%) of human deaths caused by dog-mediated rabies.

The virus is transmitted in the saliva of rabid animals and generally enters the body via infiltration of virus-laden saliva from a rabid animal into a wound (e.g. scratches), or by direct exposure of mucosal surfaces to saliva from an infected animal (e.g. bites). The virus cannot infiltrate intact skin. Once the virus reaches the brain, it further replicates, resulting in presentation of clinical signs from the patient. There are two clinical manifestations of rabies – furious (classical or encephalitic) and paralytic. Furious rabies is the most common form of human rabies, accounting for approximately eighty percent (80%) of cases.

With the exception of Antarctica, rabies is endemic on all continents. Of the tens of thousands of deaths occurring annually due to rabies, ninety-five percent (95%) of cases are reported in Asia and Africa.

Pneumonia– Pneumonia is a common lung infection caused by germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It can be a complication of the flu, but other viruses, bacteria and even fungi can cause pneumonia. Anyone can get pneumonia, but some people are more at risk than others. Pneumonia and its symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Treatment depends on the cause of your pneumonia, how severe your symptoms are, and your age and overall health. Most healthy people recover from pneumonia in one to three weeks, but it can be life-threatening. The good news is that pneumonia can be prevented—by getting an annual flu shot (as flu often leads to pneumonia), frequently washing your hands, and for people at high risk, getting a vaccine for pneumococcal pneumonia. Learn about causes and symptoms of pneumonia, how pneumonia is treated, ways to prevent pneumonia and more in this section.

Infectious diarrhea– Diarrhea caused by enteric infections is a major factor in morbidity and mortality worldwide. An estimated two to four (2–4) billion episodes of infectious diarrhea occur each year and are especially prevalent in infants. This review highlights the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying diarrhea associated with the three classes of infectious agents, i.e., bacteria, viruses and parasites. Several bacterial pathogens have been chosen as model organisms, including Vibrio cholerae as a classical example of secretory diarrhea, Clostridium difficile and Shigella species as agents of inflammatory diarrhea and selected strains of pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) to discuss the recent advances in alteration of epithelial ion absorption. Many of the recent studies addressing epithelial ion transport and barrier function have been carried out using viruses and parasites. Here, we focus on the rapidly developing field of viral diarrhea including rotavirus, norovirus and astrovirus infections. Finally, we discuss Giardia lamblia and Entamoeba histolytica as examples of parasitic diarrhea. Parasites have a greater complexity than the other pathogens and are capable of creating molecules similar to those produced by the host, such as serotonin and PGE2. The underlying mechanisms of infectious diarrhea discussed include alterations in ion transport and tight junctions as well as the virulence factors, which alter these processes either through direct effects or indirectly through inflammation and neurotransmitters.

Ebola– This rare, infectious—and often fatal—disease was discovered in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) near the Ebola River. Scientists believe that bats are the most likely carriers of the Ebola virus. Symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and in some cases, bleeding. People can catch the Ebola virus through close contact with the blood, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease spreads from person to person through direct contact—via broken skin or through the eyes, nose, and mouth—with the blood or body fluids of someone who is sick. People remain infectious as long as their blood and body fluids, including semen and breast milk, contain the virus. Men can still transmit the virus through their semen for several weeks after recovery from illness.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease– Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a prion disease that was first described in 1996 in the United Kingdom. There is now strong scientific evidence that the agent responsible for the outbreak of prion disease in cows, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or ‘mad cow’ disease), is the same agent responsible for the outbreak of vCJD in humans.

Marburg Marburg virus was first recognized in 1967, when outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever occurred simultaneously in laboratories in Marburg and Frankfurt, Germany and in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). Thirty-one people became ill, initially laboratory workers followed by several medical personnel and family members who had cared for them. Seven deaths were reported. The first people infected had been exposed to imported African green monkeys or their tissues while conducting research. One additional case was diagnosed retrospectively.

The reservoir host of Marburg virus is the African fruit bat, Rousettus aegyptiacus. Fruit bats infected with Marburg virus do not to show obvious signs of illness. Primates (including humans) can become infected with Marburg virus, and may develop serious disease with high mortality. Further study is needed to determine if other species may also host the virus.

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)– Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is an illness caused by a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Most MERS patients developed severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. About 3 or 4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died.  Health officials first reported the disease in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. Through retrospective (backward-looking) investigations, they later identified that the first known cases of MERS occurred in Jordan in April 2012. So far, all cases of MERS have been linked through travel to, or residence in, countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula. The largest known outbreak of MERS outside the Arabian Peninsula occurred in the Republic of Korea in 2015. The outbreak was associated with a traveler returning from the Arabian Peninsula.

Dengue Dengue is fast emerging pandemic-prone viral disease in many parts of the world. Dengue flourishes in urban poor areas, suburbs and the countryside but also affects more affluent neighborhoods in tropical and subtropical countries.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection causing a severe flu-like illness and, sometimes causing a potentially lethal complication called severe dengue. The incidence of dengue has increased 30-fold over the last fifty (50) years. Up to fifty to one hundred (50-100) million infections are now estimated to occur annually in over 100 endemic countries, putting almost half of the world’s population at risk.

Severe dengue (previously known as dengue haemorrhagic fever) was first recognized in the 1950s during dengue epidemics in the Philippines and Thailand. Today it affects Asian and Latin American countries and has become a leading cause of hospitalization and death among children and adults in these regions.

Yellow fever Yellow fever is a viral infection transmitted by a bite from infected mosquitoes most commonly found in parts of South America and Africa. When transmitted to humans, the yellow fever virus can damage the liver and other internal organs and be potentially fatal.

The World Health Organization estimates there are 200,000 cases of yellow fever worldwide each year, resulting in thirty thousand (30,000) deaths. Yellow fever appears to be on the rise internationally, due to a decreased immunity to infection among local populations, deforestation, climate change, and high-density urbanization.

Hantaviruses Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents and can cause varied disease syndromes in people worldwide.  Infection with any hantavirus can produce hantavirus disease in people. Hantaviruses in the Americas are known as “New World” hantaviruses and may cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). Other hantaviruses, known as “Old World” hantaviruses, are found mostly in Europe and Asia and may cause hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).

Each hantavirus serotype has a specific rodent host species and is spread to people via aerosolized virus that is shed in urine, feces, and saliva, and less frequently by a bite from an infected host. The most

Anthrax Anthrax is an infectious disease that’s caused by bacteria. It’s very rare in the United States, but it can be very serious.

It usually only affects farm animals like cows and sheep. But it’s possible to become infected if you’re in contact with infected animals or products that come from them. Anthrax has also been found in people who have injected heroin. Others at risk for anthrax include people who work with anthrax in a lab or those exposed to it because of bio-terrorism.   Anthrax isn’t contagious, so you can’t spread it to other people.

MRSA “superbug“– Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a strain of staph bacteria that is resistant to the antibiotics normally used to treat such infections.

In the 1940s, some sixty (60) years after the discovery of the bacterium S. aureus, doctors began treating staph infections with penicillin. But the overuse and misuse of the drug helped the microbes evolve with resistance to penicillin by the 1950s.

Doctors then started using methicillin to counter the growing problem of penicillin-resistant staph infections, and the new drug quickly became the common treatment for S. aureus, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In 1961, British scientists discovered MRSA; the first case of this “superbug” in the United States occurred in 1968. Over time, strains of MRSA developed resistances to other penicillin-related antibiotics.

Pertussis Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. In many people, it’s marked by a severe hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like “whoop. Before the vaccine was developed, whooping cough was considered a childhood disease. Now whooping cough primarily affects children too young to have completed the full course of vaccinations and teenagers and adults whose immunity has faded. Deaths associated with whooping cough are rare but most commonly occur in infants. That’s why it’s so important for pregnant women — and other people who will have close contact with an infant — to be vaccinated against whooping cough.

Tetanus– Tetanus is a serious illness caused by Clostridium bacteria. The bacteria live in soil, saliva, dust, and manure. The bacteria can enter the body through a deep cut, like those you might get from stepping on a nail, or through a burn.   The infection causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to “locking” of the jaw. This makes it impossible to open your mouth or swallow. Tetanus is a medical emergency. You need to get treatment in a hospital.   A vaccine can prevent tetanus. It is given as a part of routine childhood immunization. Adults should get a tetanus shot, or booster, every 10 years. If you get a bad cut or burn, see your doctor – you may need a booster. Immediate and proper wound care can prevent tetanus infection.

Meningitis Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes (meninges) surrounding your brain and spinal cord.  The swelling from meningitis typically triggers symptoms such as headache, fever and a stiff neck.  Most cases of meningitis in the United States are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections are other causes. Some cases of meningitis improve without treatment in a few weeks. Others can be life-threatening and require emergency antibiotic treatment.

Syphilis Syphilis is a bacterial infection usually spread by sexual contact. The disease starts as a painless sore — typically on your genitals, rectum or mouth. Syphilis spreads from person to person via skin or mucous membrane contact with these sores.  After the initial infection, the syphilis bacteria can remain inactive (dormant) in your body for decades before becoming active again. Early syphilis can be cured, sometimes with a single shot (injection) of penicillin. Without treatment, syphilis can severely damage your heart, brain or other organs, and can be life-threatening. Syphilis can also be passed from mothers to unborn children.

SARS Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory illness that first emerged in China in November 2002, and later spread through international travel to twenty-nine (29) countries worldwide causing large outbreaks in Hong Kong; Taiwan; Singapore; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Toronto, Canada. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), from November 2002 to July 31, 2003, there were eight thousand ninety-eight (8,098) cases of SARS; of these, seven hundred and seventy-seven (774) died.

On October 1, 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported that there were 164 probable and suspect SARS cases in the United States, of which only eight had laboratory evidence of SARS. There were no deaths due to SARS in the US. Most of the U.S. SARS cases were among travelers returning from other parts of the world with SARS. There were 11 suspect and probable SARS cases investigated by the Minnesota Department of Health; many of these individuals had an alternative diagnosis that could explain their symptoms.

Leprosy– Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes. Leprosy is known to occur at all ages ranging from early infancy to very old age. Leprosy is curable and early treatment averts most disabilities.

Measles Measles is a very contagious respiratory infection. It causes a total-body skin rash and flu-like symptoms. Measles is rare in the United States thanks to widespread immunization. But millions of cases happen worldwide every year.  Measles (also called rubeola) is caused by a virus , so there’s no specific medical treatment for it. The virus has to run its course. A child who is sick should drink plenty of liquids, get lots of rest, and stay home from school or daycare to prevent spreading the infection

Zika Zika virus is similar to dengue feveryellow fever and West Nile virus. Carried by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos, Zika is largely transmitted through bites, but can also occur through intrauterine infection.  If a woman is bitten by an infected mosquito and becomes infected, Zika can cross into the placenta and affect the fetus. While anyone can contract Zika, pregnant women are the most at risk due to the potential for fetal microcephaly and other neurologic abnormalities. Sexual transmission of this virus can occur. Transmission has been reported from infected men and women to their sexual partners. The virus can be transmitted through anal, oral or vaginal sex.


Information for this post was taken from a blog by HANNAH BLEAU

31 Mar 2020.

Just about every country in the world is in a tough place right now.   The chart below will give you some idea as to where we are relative to the number of deaths by country. This is as of 31 March 2020.

Not a pretty picture at all.

When it comes to the arrival of the coronavirus, not all states are facing the same timeline. Some states, like New York and Louisiana, have quickly become epicenters of the virus in the United States and, as a result, will reach a resource-peak-weeks sooner than states like Kentucky and Missouri, which are not expected to reach their highest demand until the second week of May. The various projections, based on peak hospital resource demand caused by the virus, could explain why some governors are taking more aggressive, imminent actions in their response to the pandemic.  Information is fed into projection models to estimate specific time lines.  Please keep in mind, these projections can certainly change depending upon the number of people in each being tested.  Right now, more test kits are becoming available but we are far from completing all of the tests necessary when an individual feels he or she has symptoms.

We have a neighbor two doors down whose son had symptoms, spent two weeks and four hospital visits before being tested and an additional three weeks before he was determined to have negative results.  It’s better, as a matter of fact, it gets better every week but we are far from testing those needing to find out.  At this time, there are test kits available to medical practitioners that can give results within two or three hours.

PROJECTIONS BY STATE:

Here are the projected peaks for all 50 states, plus D.C., per the IHME model. The model takes into consideration the number of beds needed, as well as ventilators.

New York, for example, is expected to hit its resource peak April 9. The current model, at the time of this publication, estimates a bed shortage of 60,610 and 9,055 ventilators needed. A state like Kentucky, however, is not expected to reach its peak until May 12. It shows the state having a surplus of beds and 288 ventilators needed.

The model you will see below shows April 14 as the peak for the United States as a whole. However, it notes that the projections are contingent on the continuation of “strong social distancing measures and other protective measures.”  In other words, stay inside or at least maintain a six foot (6’) separation between yourself and someone else.  Wash your hands. Shower at least once per day.  Contrary to what you hear, when you feel you have to go out, i.e. grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office, etc wear a protective mask. Wash your clothes after wearing and wear only one “outfit” per day then wash. 

President Trump officially extended the “Slow the Spread” coronavirus guidelines to April 30 during a press conference over the weekend.  PLEASE NOTE:  THIS MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TIME.

Here is the resource peak for each state. Resource details can be found here:

CONCLUSION:  Here is the tragedy:   The Total COVID-19 deaths projected to August 4, 2020 in United States of America is 83,967.  Yogie was correct:  “It ain’t over till it’s over.  PLEASE STAY HEALTHY.  Do what you have to do to stay healthy.

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