Pandemic Overload (1918) – WIF Medicine

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Facts About

the Spanish Flu

Pandemic 1918

A Little Perspective

Spanish flu, the deadliest pandemic of the 20th century, struck the world in a series of waves, and left between 50 and 100 million people dead in its wake. It may have appeared in the trenches of World War I in Europe as early as 1916, according to some researchers. It first appeared in the United States in the spring of 1918. Numerous contending theories of its source of origin continue to be debated. Some say it began in the United States, some say in Europe, and still others argue it originated in Asia. There is no debate over its impact, though, with one-third of the world’s population contracting the disease during its peak in 1918-19. It continued to appear well into 1920, though with significantly less impact.

Differing from other forms of influenza, the virus had a significant impact on young, otherwise healthy adults, who usually had stronger immune systems. It struck the wealthy and the poor. Franklin Delano Roosevelt contracted the illness. The King of Spain nearly died of it. A young nurse in Toronto, Amelia Earhart, contracted the disease, which damaged her sinuses to the point surgery was required. The scars left her with sinus problems for the rest of her life. In the United States, 675,000 Americans died from the flu, most of them during the deadly second wave in 1918. That year American average life expectancy dropped by 12 years as a result of the flu. Here are 10 facts about the Spanish flu pandemic at the end of the First World War…

10. Nobody knows for certain where it originated

While there is some disagreement among scholars over the place of origin, the consensus is that Spanish flu did not originate in Spain. When the pandemic spread rapidly across Europe in 1918, wartime censorship conditions affected most news reports. Censorship did not apply to neutral Spain. News reports of the flu’s virulence there appeared in newspapers and magazines, with references to “this Spanish flu.” The name stuck. Reports of the disease in Spain increased substantially when King Alphonso XIII contracted the flu in the spring of 1918. Ironically, as reports of the King’s illness and being near death for several days increased references to the Spanish flu in Western newspapers, the Spanish referred to the disease as the French flu.

Since the pandemic (and in part during it), China, Great Britain, the United States, and France, as well as Russia, have all been suggested as the disease’s starting point. The first case in the United States appeared in March 1918, at a Kansas army post. More recently, researchers identified potential cases as early as 1916, at army receiving and marshaling stations in France. Another earlier outbreak occurred at a British Army base in Aldershot in the early spring of 1917. The UK staging camp at Etapes, in northern France, saw 100,000 troops go through daily, either returning from the front or on their way to it, in densely crowded conditions. Hundreds exhibited symptoms of the pandemic flu during the spring and fall of 1917, a fact later identified by army pathologists.

9. More American soldiers died of Spanish flu than in combat during World War One

Americans were stunned at the casualties suffered by their troops during the First World War, though in comparison to the European combatants they were low. Mobilization placed 4.7 million American men in uniform. Of those, about 320,000 became ill and recovered, or suffered wounds in combat from which they survived. 116,516 American troops and sailors died during the war. Combat deaths totaled 53,402. The rest — 63,114 — died of disease, with most of the deaths occurring from the Spanish flu in the camps in the United States, in Europe, and in ships bound for Europe. Once such ship was a former German liner. In 1917 the United States converted the German steamship Vaterland, interned in New York, into a troopship, renamed USS Leviathan.

On September 29, 1918, Leviathan departed New York for the French port of Brest, carrying 9,000 American doughboys, and a crew of 2,000 sailors (one of the sailors was a young New Yorker named Humphrey Bogart). Spanish flu appeared in the ship during the crossing. When Leviathan arrived at Brest it carried 2,000 men already diagnosed with the Spanish flu, which wreaked havoc in the crowded conditions aboard, and overwhelmed the ship’s medical facilities and personnel. 80 men died during the crossing, many more after landing ashore in France, during the height of the pandemic. A similar outbreak occurred on the ship’s return voyage to the United States.

8. It affected the Treaty of Versailles

The combat during World War One came to an end via an armistice, which began at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of November, the 11th month of the year, 1918. Many issues of the war remained unresolved. The leaders of the Allied nations agreed to meet in Paris in early 1919 to discuss the issues facing Europe. Woodrow Wilson, then President of the United States, went to Europe to join the discussions, present his famous 14 Points, and to argue for the establishment of the League of Nations. He favored more lenient terms for Germany than those proposed by the leaders of France, Italy, and Great Britain. Wilson intended to use American prestige to obtain less punitive measures against the Germans, especially in the form of reparations.

During the negotiations for the treaty, which took place in Paris rather than the Palace of Versailles for which it was named, Wilson came down with the Spanish flu. Several members of his entourage suffered through the flu during the voyage to France. Wilson’s illness was covered up, though he became severely ill in Paris, unable to attend multiple sessions of the negotiations. His physician, Navy Admiral Cary Grayson, wrote of the President as “violently sick.” When Wilson did partially recover and returned to the negotiations, several participants wrote of his lack of attention, fatigue, and listlessness. He failed to ease the reparations imposed by the Allies on the Germans, and the resulting Treaty of Versailles created conditions in Germany that led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the war which followed the War to End All Wars.

7. The federal government did little regarding the flu’s impact

In the United States, the federal government did relatively little to combat the Spanish flu, other than issue advisories telling Americans of the dangers presented by the illness. Congress adjourned in the fall of 1918, with the second wave of the pandemic at its peak. The Supreme Court did the same. The United States Public Health Service, then an agency within the Department of the Treasury, issued posters warning against spitting on sidewalks. It also advised workers to walk to work, which seems strange to modern eyes, until one considers that most commuting at the time involved streetcars or railroads. It also warned Americans to avoid becoming over-fatigued.

Before Woodrow Wilson went to Europe, Edith (the President’s wife) sent 1,000 roses to young women serving in the war effort in the District of Columbia, who were sickened by the flu. That was about the extent of the federal effort. Battling the effects of the pandemic, the lost work hours, burying the dead, and combating the spread of the disease was left in the hands of local governments, which responded in varying ways across the country. Some imposed severe restrictions on movement, crowds, and schools, easing them as the pandemic passed through their communities. Others continued to promote large gatherings to support Liberty Bond drives, including a parade in Philadelphia after which thousands died in the city from the rapid spread of influenza which ensued.

6. Some cities made wearing masks mandatory, with criminal penalties

The first wave of Spanish flu in America occurred in the spring of 1918. Compared to what came in the second wave it was mild. The second wave came in September 1918, in the Eastern cities, and gradually moved westward. San Francisco escaped the first wave, and its Chief of the Board of Health, Dr. William Hassler, assured citizens of the city the second wave would not affect them. On September 24, a recent arrival from Chicago became ill with the flu. By mid-October over 4,000 cases were in the city. That month the city passed an ordinance making the wearing of gauze masks mandatory, with Hassler touting them as 99% effective in stopping the spread of the flu between persons.

In truth, the masks were likely of little benefit, and on November 21, 1918,  the city rescinded the order to wear them. Several other cities issued similar orders, with varying degrees of punishments for violators. In San Francisco, violators went to jail. The city suffered 2,122 deaths during the lethal second wave. The third wave struck in December, and lasted through the winter, raising the death toll in San Francisco to over 3,500 out of a population of about half a million. Nearby Oakland was similarly hit. Oakland also enacted an ordinance requiring masks, virulently opposed by the city’s tobacco store owners. One such owner designed a mask with a flap over the mouth, allowing smokers to enjoy their cigars, cigarettes, and pipes while remaining in compliance with the law.

5. The 1918 baseball season was shortened, though not because of the flu

Major League Baseball shortened its season in 1918 in response to the American war effort. The last game of the regular season was played on September 2, 1918. Teams played just over 120 games that year. When the season ended, the second wave of Spanish flu was underway on the East coast. The league champions, the Boston Red Sox of the American League and the National League’s Chicago Cubs, met in the World Series. Public health officials in both cities argued against playing the World Series due to the crowds gathering during the course of an epidemic, but baseball went ahead. Boston’s only concession to the flu came in an agreement to play in Fenway Park, rather than in the larger Braves Field, where they had played in the preceding World Series.

During the World Series a young Red Sox pitcher started two games, winning both, despite suffering from the flu at the time. He started in the outfield in the other four games. His name was George Herman Ruth. Throughout the games he lay down between innings, weakened by the fever and body aches symptomatic of the flu. Some of his teammates assumed Ruth was simply suffering from a bad hangover, a common problem of ballplayers of the day. But throughout the series, Ruth was notably absent between games, even spending time on the train to Chicago in his sleeper, rather than consorting with teammates. The Red Sox won the series four games to two. It was the only World Series in history played entirely in September. That winter, Ruth was sent to the Yankees.

4. Franklin Roosevelt contracted the flu while returning from France

Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Wilson Administration, and in that capacity went to Europe in 1918. His mission included the coordination of naval activities against the German U-boat threat, and arranging for convoying and port facilities used by US Navy ships. In September 1918 he returned to the United States aboard USS Leviathan. Upon arrival FDR was carried off the ship on a stretcher, having contracted the flu either in France or, what is more likely, aboard the ship. Leviathan’s crew had been exposed to and ravaged by the flu on several voyages. FDR returned to the United States deathly ill, and required several weeks convalescence at his family’s Hyde Park home before resuming his duties.

FDR’s illness and its severity are often overlooked, largely because of his being later stricken with polio, which left his legs paralyzed. His flu is often described as a mild illness, though he left Leviathan with double pneumonia, high fever, and debilitating weakness. His distant cousin, former President Teddy Roosevelt, who had encouraged him to go to Europe, wrote him during his convalescence. “We are deeply concerned about your sickness, and trust you will soon be well,” wrote the former President, adding that, “We are very proud of you.” Had FDR not survived the flu, which killed so many Americans who went to Europe in 1918, the remainder of the 20th century would have been very different indeed.

3. The flu’s second wave was its deadliest by far

The second wave of influenza in 1918 swept across Western Europe and the United States from September through the end of the year and into January. It was the deadliest of the three main waves of the pandemic. In Philadelphia, America’s hardest hit city, about 16,000 died after city leaders refused to cancel a parade scheduled to promote the sale of Liberty Bonds. Cincinnati closed schools and businesses, shut down streetcars, and ordered the wearing of masks. For a time it closed all restaurants, though it allowed saloons to remain open. At one point in November, believing the worst to have passed, the city reopened businesses and schools. Within days the death rate skyrocketed, forcing the city to shut down again. Over 1,700 Cincinnatians succumbed to the flu in the fall of 1918.

Sailors at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center brought the flu to Chicago. In September Chicago’s Health Commissioner announced the flu was under control. At the end of the month there were fewer than 300 cases reported in the city. By mid-October the city reported 1,200 new cases per day. Chicago shut down schools, businesses, banned public gatherings, closed parks, and requested for churches to curtail services. Chicago reported over 38,000 cases of influenza, and 13,000 cases of pneumonia attributed to the flu, before restrictions were lifted in mid-November. One restriction imposed, vigorously opposed by conservative newspapers and businesses, had been the banning of smoking on streetcars and elevated trains. The Chicago Tribune opposed the ban and referred to the Health Commissioner who imposed it as “his highness.”

2. Authorities in Philadelphia announced the flu was no worse than seasonal flu and held a parade to sell war bonds

In mid-September 1918, influenza was present in all the major Eastern cities of the United States, with Boston suffering the highest number of cases. Philadelphia had seen some cases of the flu, though health officials in the city regarded it lightly. The city’s Health Commissioner, Wilmer Krusen, a political appointee, ignored the pleas of doctors and public health experts to ban large public gatherings. Krusen announced the flu was no worse than any seasonal flu, despite the evidence presented by other cities. The Health Commissioner warned the people of Philadelphia to be careful, covering their faces when they coughed or sneezed, and allowed the city’s scheduled Liberty Bonds parade to take place on September 28, a patriotic spectacle attended by an estimated 200,000 people.

By the middle of November, over 12,000 Philadelphians had died of influenza. The city’s morgue, designed to hold 36 bodies, was obviously overwhelmed, and bodies were stored in the city wherever space was found. A streetcar manufacturing company was hired to build simple wooden boxes to serve as coffins. In the tenements, whole families were stricken and died, undiscovered for weeks. Only three days after the parade, every hospital bed in the city was filled. Over 500,000 cases of the highly contagious flu struck Philadelphia before the end of the year. The final death count was over 16,000. In contrast to Philadelphia, the city of Milwaukee, which imposed the most stringent social distancing laws in the nation, also saw the lowest death rate of any city in the United States.

1. One-third of the world’s population contracted the flu during the pandemic

The 1918-20 influenza pandemic, the worst of the 20th century, caused at least 50 million deaths, and probably as many as 100 million across the globe. In remote Tahiti, 10% of the population died. In British ruled India more than 13 million citizens died, with some estimates ranging up to 17 million. German Samoa lost 22% of its population. American Samoa imposed a blockade, and escaped the pandemic unscathed. Brazil’s 300,000 dead included its President, Rodrigues Alves. In the United States over a quarter of the population contracted the flu during one of its several waves. Official death counts usually cite 675,000 American deaths, though some estimates include deaths on Indian Reservations and in Alaskan communities, and elevate the count to 850,000.

Bacterial pneumonia, a complication brought on by the flu, served as the primary killer. When the flu returned for its third wave in the late winter and early spring of 1919, rates of death were comparatively low. Sporadic outbreaks continued in the fall of 1919 and the winter of 1919-20. As the 1920s began the pandemic faded from memory, and remained largely forgotten until the coronavirus pandemic restored it to public attention. All the weapons used to control the spread of coronavirus — distancing, closing of schools, banning large crowds and gatherings, shutting down businesses, and others — were deployed against the Spanish flu. History shows that those communities which deployed them most stringently, throughout the first and second waves, were most successful saving lives.


Flu Pandemic Song – The Flying Fish Sailors


Pandemic Overload 1918

WIF Medicine

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 41

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 41

…A sole window allows Afridi to peer into the Turkish night. His wrist-digital device flashes 12:00, leaving him with at least five more hours to fret.

turkish-nights-001

Turkey Night Wallpaper (Istanbul) by alisarikaya

And so it is that the Afridi’s are a family unit again, after a harrowing month on the run. At least they have each other, away from evil powers bent on jealous destruction.

Even still, Aldona Afridi will not rest easy.

Back with his three dear ones, he continues his tirade in the form of a letter. He struggles to find the words camel-to-water-001that will open up the correct ears & eyes. If only they would come to their senses.

Points be made or not, Afridi decides to let it go, roll with the flow, having done everything in his power to express his concerns about Space Colony 1. He recites a Talibanistani Proverb: ‘You can lead a camel to water— but he won’t stop drinking.’ It has little to do with his quandary, but he does thirst for swift resolution.

Now would be a convenient time to rest his weary soul, post-New Orient Express excursion aside, he finds a deep sleep elusive. In its stead, he is content holding his bride close. His mind strays to several options and back, unable to resolve a single one of them.

Image result for flashing 12:00 clock gifSo he retracts is arm, as not wake anyone and he inches off the bed. A sole window allows him to peer into the Turkish night. His wrist-digital device flashes 12:00, leaving him with at least five more hours to fret.

After watching a steady stream of headlights at this early hour, wondering who may be out this late/early, two very long speeding black cars come to a halt outside the mosques gates. His initial reaction is one of relief, anticipating the arrival of those in authority; the Ambassador and the CIA are ahead of schedule!

He fumbles in the dark to find the clothes given him by those nice folks that allowed him to get this far. He efforts not to disturb the others, running a comb through his untidy black hair to look as professional as possible.

The intent of the visitors at the gate seems curious though. If they have peaceful plans, their actions are quite hasty.

An explosion, of sufficient intensity to bring down the perimeter fencing of the Muslim place of prayer, lays waste to anything within 30 yards.

Before the smoke can clear, six armed men sprint to the buildings many steps. Afridi warns his family, “They must be after me…….get dressed quickly, children please be quiet as a mouse! They must believe this room is empty. He ushers one and all into a hidden nook, behind a false curtain.

Sure enough, those cars did not carry peaceful men of diplomacy. Automatic weapons spray the room without respect to its occupants or their business. Once determined empty, it is on to the next and the next.

6 pairs of feet scamper across the marble floors, then up the granite stairs.

With the trouble heading to the floor above, Afridi leaps into action, “We are leaving this mosque, Allah be damned! Those men will not leave until they have found me.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 41


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #212

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #212

…Battles will continue to be fought and armistices forged, but Harv has had his fill, saying his goodbyes at his P-E J Paris office…

“The Last Victory” by Roy Grinnell.

far from the glamour of the movies, Harv Pearson has witnessed the wonder of America’s contribution to the Great War, Col. Billy Mitchell in particular. On one day in late September, watching from the ground, he sees the sky above is filled with allied Related imageairplanes, spanning the horizon and headed for Saint Mihiel. They will total 1400 or more, he learns from Mitchell and quite a sight to see at that.

The sound of all those rotary engines will forever echo in the recesses of his mind. War produces sights and sounds that no peacetime event can and places a stamp on the human souls therein.

It also helps when you are on the winning side and thanks to American contributions, i.e. the air war, submarine warfare and fierce ground assaults. An end to the Great War can be seen.

Rear Admiral William S. Sims

Battles will continue to be fought and armistices forged, but Harv has had his fill, saying his goodbyes at his P-E J Paris office, leaving a skeleton staff to tie up the many loose ends. Personally, he is thankful that they had not lost any of his rotating reporters to the war, which is not the case for other news organizations. In fact, they are the only journalistic presence not to lose a correspondent.

For his last assignment, Harv is going to go back to the U.S. on a convoy ship, under the command of Rear Admiral William S. Sims. Sims has been at it for longer than most anyone, coordinating the transport of war materials, then troops since back in ‘15. He too is making his final voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

Historical Image

USS Chesapeake Bay (DD61)

He has a wealth of stories to tell, many of them end with the sinking of one of many defenseless civilian ships. Until the Navy was allowed to convoy, a safety net surrounding as many as 10 supply ships, millions of metric tons is lost to U-boats… and the bottom of the ocean.

Were there an American naval presence around the English Channel, John Ferrell may be preparing to become the father-of-the-bride for Maggie Lou.

“How many ships have you been on that have been struck by a torpedo?” asks Harv after they have been under way for a day.

“8 too many, Mr. Pearson,” he relates with a stare straight ahead; he refuses to think about what is below the waterline of his boat, leaving that vigilant task to his around-the-clock submarine spotters. “If a cat has nine lives, I don’t want to use up that last one”

“It helps that we are traveling on a destroyer, does it not?” Harv is looking for reassurance, wanting to avoid John Ferrell’s fate at all cost. He had a bird’s eye view then and that impression haunt him long after the last shot of this horrible war is fired.

“Well yes, 5 of the boats I was aboard that got hit were civilian and before 1917. I guess the odds eventually even out.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #212


page 199

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #206

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #206

…We must shoot down as many Albatross’ as we can – every one of them is a greater threat to our boys than two battalions of Huns…

Albatros D.III Werner Voss, by Arkadiusz Wróbel

European Allies have had Americans flying in their ranks for a couple of years now and are the most comfortable in the sky.

Wright or wrong, you cannot dispute effectiveness of aircraft and if men like Billy Mitchell do not advance the cause, the Germans would have controlled the skies, perhaps changing the course of world history.

 Harv Pearson is seated in the rear of a room of military men, commanders all, planning an offensive beginning at Saint Mihiel on the Western Front. Mitchell, just a colonel, is prominent in the September 1918 meeting, urging to use just about every available aircraft, ‘to chase retreating German forces into tomorrow.’

“We have the opportunity break through that damned Siegfried Line! Doesn’t it make sense to shoot down as many Albatross’ as we can – every one of them is a greater threat to our boys than two battalions of Huns!” Billy Mitchell will use any means to make his point, including the press and their widening audience.

“Colonel Mitchell, you have been in Europe longer than any other adviser, what are some of the others uses for the airplane, other than those hair-raising dogfights?” asks Harv, the only reporter in the room.

“If they would listen to me, I would sink every ship that they have, but they don’t think our bombs can do it, that’s bull***t!”

“What if the ships are in the middle of the Atlantic? The current range of airplanes barely allows you to fly to Belgium and back?”

 “We could land them on boats.” He is thinking on the fly. “Our aces can land in the middle of a herd of cattle, why not on a ship!”

Air warHarv does not know what to say, getting more of an answer than he was prepared for. As far as he knows, there are no ships with an airfield for a deck. What others are whispering may be true, ‘Billy Mitchell is an extremist, bent on unproven things with little regard for his superiors.’

“Gotta go, Pearson; more Albatross’ to shoot out of the sky.” There is a hint of glee in his voice. Was he going to fly a mission? Harv wouldn’t put it past the fiery flying enthusiast.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #206


page 193

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #109

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #109

…John Ferrell can hardly contain his jubilation, but this glee will fade when the steady stream of balloons comes to an end.

City Park New Orleans

There, and anxiously waiting at the rescue staging area at City Park in New Orleans, waits John Ferrell. The balance of his group has located the harried and distressed Tallahassee Junior Women’s Club. The girls have been denied the opportunity to sample the potential pleasures of their trip, having contracted all manner of local disease. There is certainly no shortage of suffering in any category of humanity.

Fifty or more miles from the devastated delta, John has watched three balloons float silently in. Each successive disembarking leaves him disheartened, no James or Abigail among the rescued. He does notice that most of those arriving are his age or older.

He finally summons the courage to ask about them, getting the attention of a middle-aged woman. “Did you meet the young married couple on your cruise? Their names are James and Abigail Ferrell.”

Even though she is still recovering from the scary, yet spectacular flight, she responds kindly, “If they are the youngest passengers, sir, they should be on the last balloon.”

“They’re alive???!!!”

“Oh my, yes… I just feel sorry for the three lifeboats taken by the storm….. About thirty poor souls did not have a chance….. God rest their souls.”

“Many thanks to you, good Madame — for the news of my son and daughter, I mean.” He can hardly contain his jubilation, but this glee will fade when the steady stream of balloons comes to an end.

The balloon pilots convene on the makeshift tarmacadam, speaking demonstrably, and fingers pointing to the northwest horizon. It seems the military has a better handle on weather conditions than the Weather Bureau, probably because they stay in constant radio contact. Forming dark clouds are the object of their concern.

John brazenly horns in on the air-soldiers, asking, “When are the other balloons coming?”

“We just talked to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Those clouds movin’ in,” he points, “wiped out half the barracks there an hour ago. Twisters don’t make for good flyin’ weather, sir.”

John almost said something ignorant, ‘Can’t you fly over the top of them?’, but the grocer thinks his science through and reconsiders, “Will the boat be safe in a storm?”Aftermath-001

“It’s stuck pretty good in that delta mud, but a stiff wind might blow it over…”

  “What?”

   “…or a good rain may flood it back into the river. Say mister, would you help us tie down our rigs here?”

Not really. It makes more sense to panic, but as hopeless as the situation appears, he has overheard whispers of those rescued. “Alligators”, is frequently heard. He becomes determined not to allow his children to become the ancient beast’s next meal.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Medicine Bluff at Fort Sill by Barbara Vaupel

Episode #109


page 100

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #76

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #76

…The headline reads: BATTLESHIP MAINE BLOWS UP IN CUBA! Hundreds feared dead….

USS Maine-001

For John Ferrell, nothing could be finer. His business is growing with double-digit zeal. Baby Maggie Lou, nearly one year old, is thriving across San Luis Lake and Martha seems to have family matters under control, though he suspects that she suspects that he suspects she knows something. However it has happened, life does not get any better than this.

Under his arm is the 17 February 1898 edition of the New York Journal, their only true source of news around the country and the world. He has broken tradition by bringing it home unread, for two reasons. The first is to spend more time with his wife, an honest attempt to rebuild the shaky foundation of their marital house. The second and greater justification for this late morning digestion of his favorite rag from the North is that he has delegated individual store managing to qualified others. Daughter Agnes is one of these, seemingly fated to take up the mantle of the retail grocery business.

“It is so nice to have you home more, John. Now you can see how good I am getting at the laundry. Do you want starch on your shirt collars?” She cannot resist cleverly reminding her wayward spouse that he knows that she knows. He will stubbornly ignore any and all of her backhanded inferences on the subject of Laura Bell.

He does, however, give her an authentic, if not real kiss, as she sits in her favorite rocking chair, embroidering colorful flowers on white cotton pillow cases. She lays down the craft, taught her by Olla, to absorb the much needed attention.

A sideward glance draws her peripheral attention to the unfurled newspaper. The headline reads: BATTLESHIP MAINE BLOWS UP IN CUBA! Hundreds feared dead. 

“Oh, dear Lord in Heaven, that is Maynard’s ship!” she frets in disbelief. Her brother, Lieutenant Commander Maynard Gaskel, is a high ranking officer on one of the United States’ finest fighting ships. In the absence of war, she cannot fathom its possible demise.

John Ferrell looks over his shoulder to see for himself and reads further. It describes the horrific events of two days earlier, equally taken aback……


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #76


page 70

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 167

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 167

…most of the neighborhood probably thinks someone is setting off fireworks…

Greenwood-001 MeanwhileAs part of the lead grouping on this unlikely assault on a neighborhood residence, P.I. Constance and G-Man Jesse are outfitted with all the protective gear, like that afforded to the men who stormed the beach at Normandy, on that fateful day a mere seven years ago. Though National Guard presence is nominal, it is an indicator of how serious The Libby Affair had become.

Falling in the line behind, deuces are wild on this pre-dawn March morning; 2 x 2 are 20 Chicago police cruisers each with two men inside, too-jacked-up on thick black coffee in anticipation of some bigtime action. Some of the old-timers liken this raid to the Prohibition runs in the days of Dillinger & Capone.

You might think that mobilizing 2 shifts of an entire police force would be enough, but  R-6 Sikorsky military helicopters are hovering over Lake Michigan, due east of the 5000 block of south Greenwood just in case. No one, including the master planners, knows what will exactly go down.

Over the police frequency Daniels gives the marching orders, “After we shoot the concussion shells into each floor, I want all vehicles to focus their spotlights at every square inch of that house — from the north and  the south and the street and especially the alley.”

The nondestructive bomb, intended to stun everything inside rockets through the side entrance, the second floor bathroom window and a third floor bedroom, unleashing a series of prodigious thumps, with but small puffs of smoke. Other than being lit up Image result for fireworks giflike a Christmas tree, most of the neighborhood probably thinks someone is setting off fireworks

… But certainly not anyone inside this building under siege.

All lighting is trained on the house, 360 degrees and forever, but nothing happens immediately. The hibernating bats don’t like it and scatter into the dawning day, as do any ghostly apparitions from the house’s scary past.

Constance Caraway P.I.

To read what happens next at 5046 Greenwood…

Forever Mastadon

page 142

The NULL Solution = Episode 89

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The NULL Solution = Episode 89

…Speaking of those blasted spacenuts, rumors are spreading about Deke McKinney, nobody has seen him lately…

“Is it just me, or is Roy Crippen a threat to national security?” Harper Lea Bassett asks.

“It’s pretty much just you… and a fundamental sectarian cult the hills of Tennessee. What gives?” Chief-of-Staff Dane Shriver compares his boss to a group of hillbillies who think that if it isn’t found in the Holy Bible, it can’t be true. She just does not get it.

“It seems like NASA is a military drone without the remote control.”

“But Prez Roy is a folk hero and NASA comes in under budget every year… and he wears a white cowboy hat!”

“I wore a white hat on Easter last year!”

“But somebody found it had feathers from an endangered species of bird on it.”

“A Golden-cheeked Warbler, how could I forget?”

“There were only 500 nesting pairs left and they are only found in Texas… and where is our legendary former president from?”

“Okay, alright, but it’s the milliner’s fault. He told me the yellow feathers would bring out the brown in my beautiful hazel eyes.” A scant 51% of Americans would agree, the rest would side with the blue-eyed Republican who ran against her three year ago. “If I have him fired, what would be the big whooped-y-do? He’s old and he should retire to that ranch of his.”

“There is still the McKinney factor. They are equally big or bigger heroes as Crippen and that voting block is as loyal as hell to him”

President Bassett is wearing a path into the pink Oval Office carpet.

“Speaking of those blasted spacenuts, rumors are spreading about Deke McKinney, and they say that he a severe case of radiation poisoning… nobody has seen him lately.”

“I heard he is on location in Morocco shooting a movie.”

The the funny thing about rumors & gossip; both lack accuracy as well as credibility and spread faster than a norovirus on a overbooked cruise ship.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 89


page 90

The NULL Solution = Episode 63

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The NULL Solution = Episode 63

…Princess Cerella has vanished to who knows where and a vexed, perplexed & hexed civilization uses every means at its disposal to survive…

    is everywhere. Lorgan is nowhere.  What substance is there to empty? Does it need a place to occupy? Is there up or down? Was there a beginning or is there an end? How does empty go from here to there?

“Did the cruiser capture the Eridanus princess?” Much will be rewarded to that crew, should they carry off that kidnapping. Župzïð the Last is counting on a victory, to offset the mounting Ÿ€Ð losses. Though he is occupied with preparations for the Collapsar Axis, he will gladly raise a toast to a glorious victory.

At a whopping 10M cubic cubits Collapsar Axis is a bona fide original. It could hold {within its sprawling confines}:

  1. every single Eridanian tower/city
  2. Seljuk outpost #3
  3. The United States State of Wyoming
  4. the last shreds of a once proud Ÿ€Ð civilization and anyone else who wants to join that merry band of refugees

Collapsar Axis will not threaten any space-speed records, but by all accounts it is 28 times the size of ⃝    .   It is neither planet nor spaceship, but it identifiable and quantifiable, neither of which ⃝    is.

They have known for quite some time, that the planet which they called home would be Image result for planets collide gifrear-ended by a sister globe, long before its atmosphere was laid waste. That inconvenience has only served to hasten their boarding.

“No, great Župzïð, the Eridanian female was not taken. She has vanished, as did our cruiser.”

The concept of irony is farfetched for the Ÿ€Ð.

&%#$+><* the one who bore you {a term of endearment}! I am tempted to strand everyone involved on our doomed world.”

“You cannot punish the air. There was no evidence of destruction, Great One.”

“We are down to 2 cruisers and I am supposed to be pleased?”

1 is the real count, after Chasonn’s new perimeter defense becomes suddenly lethal.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 63


page 66

The NULL Solution = Episode 41

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The NULL Solution = Episode 41

…the United Korean Peninsula finds itself overheating after failing to immediately rid their skies of what they are calling Giant Ball…

It does not take long for the Ÿ€Ð to react to being exposed to the penetrating harshness of their star. The impenetrable cloud deck that they have benefited from from their inception has gone away, just like the usefulness of those 3 Seljuk outposts.

But that is where the comparisons end.

Seljuk views the loss as a warning, from the angle of the nail, choosing to ally themselves with Eridanus and Earth, going so far as sharing a space warrior’s tools.Related image

The Ÿ€Ð interpret their blazing nakedness as the need to be the hammer, electing to restore their entire fleet of warships out of mothballs. Peace among the galaxy elite is about to be threatened, like the olden times when Ÿ€Ð were the bully and everybody else did hide away for fear of being conquered.

But priorities are taking precedent, while scores of its inhabitants are dying from radiation poisoning, they have forgotten more about screening out IR & UV rays, flares and heat, than the current technology at their disposal; so immediate was the de-cloaking.

So the sleeping antagonist has been aroused.

Similarly, the United Korean Peninsula finds itself overheating after failing to immediately rid their skies of what they are calling 거 대 한 공{Giant Ball} and are considering the destruction of their nuclear submarine as an act of aggression towards them, when in fact it was they who fired the offending warhead.

Never mind the facts. Facts only get in the way of irrational behavior.

More than a dozen Taeopodong Unha-5s are launched in the direction of any world power suspected of producing Giant Ball or possessing nuclear weapons. India, Pakistan, China, Taiwan, France, Israel, Iran, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Somalia, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, Great Britain and quite naturally the USA are recipients of Jong-Un-Family doomsday targeting.–


The NULL Solution =

Episode 41


page 46