Health Services: In a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlined the significant impact to the nation’s health services if sequestration goes into effect:
I have embarked on a new writing project, for which I’ve written an 8 page outline/summary. I’ll post one chapter of the outline here and await your accolades and hazzaas (sp?) before posting another. But just a teaser hint: it involves Emily Collins (for those unfamiliar with family ties, that’s my granddaughter), Richard & Janet Olson’s house in Woodstock (brother & sister-in-law), Robin & Colter Revak at their house in Jupiter, me (but only in a minor role), a global pandemic that kills a couple million people, war between Israel and Iran, an Ayatollah, the Swiss ambassador, the President and his Chief of Staff, Air Force One, Bono and a million dollars. Enuf to peak your interest? Let’s begin…
I. Introduction – Grandmother & Grandchild vignette– 5 pp
OK – that’s it for now … LOL …
Let the accolades rain upon me!
Well, so much for accolades – here’s the next section – read amongst yourselves … more to come
II. Current True Beginning of new Spanish Flu – sick/dead man in oil fields of Athabasca oil sands, Alberta, CANADA – Suncor Energy 60 pp
Coldest winter in history of record keeping in that part of Canada
Dead body of a ‘black’ man with no i.d. in a bunk at the camp
Conditions in the camp deplorable; food, heat, accommodation
Guys that remove the body get sick & die
Plane full of oil field workers for Suncor Energy travel to Middle East and disperse to Libya, Iraq, Iran
Reports of add’l 10 deaths at camp – army-trained medic thinks to report to the CDC, per the ‘book’
Scientist at the CDC travels to the camp – gets sick, but boards a plane back to Atlanta; 10 people on plane go to their respective homes after connecting flights in Atlanta – as well as the CDC investigator – all die of pneumonia. Flu deaths begin to exceed the ‘norms’ expected for that time of year in Houston, Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco. Hospitals beginning to flood the CDC with morbidity & mortality reports indicating numbers are significantly increasing, and can’t find a cause – just looks like bad pneumonia strain (what most attribute deaths to).
Beginning of rumors of a pandemic & accompanying low-level media coverage in the US, but discounted because everybody knows these things start in Asia or China or VietNam, or someplace like that.
No one yet aware of spread to middle east
No connection to Canadian oil field yet
III. Presentation by the Historian of the likely origin of the Spanish Flu in February, 1918 – 20 pp
Education/History/Science of the Spanish Flu
Statistics of incredible number of deaths
Difficulty in determining where/when it started
Assumptions about Asia/China/European connection with deaths in France in WWI
Realities of how dreadful the deaths were
Photos of bodies (many turned black prior to death)
Surgeon General says he’ll report to the President – end of meeting & introduction of the original “Spanish” flu
IV. Back to the Middle East – 60 pp
Pick up with the oil field workers in Libya, Iran & Iraq
All begin to feel symptoms but keep working & interacting with locals
The workers dispersed to Iran attend a meeting where the oil minister’s son is – working as an ‘intern’ to learn the business;
Oil minister’s son gets mildly sick but does not die. However he infects the oil minister, who infects the ayatollah – both die.
By this time, the middle east is awash with dead & dying – within the month, but no free media, so no recognition of the connections
Death of the ayatollah is blamed on Israel’s Mossad, supposed to have given a pathogen to the oil minister and the ayatollah (i.e. assassinations as a prelude to war with Iran).
Fast forward to the United Nations Security Council, with accusations flying back & forth between Russia, China, US, Israel, and general level of hysteria about what is reported by Sy Hersch as a scoop where he claims to have conversations with high government officials confirming that it was assassination by Israeli agents, in retaliation for a kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Hamas. Altogether a complete misunderstanding of what happened, and evidence of what the game of ‘telephone’ can do with people who think they know but know nothing.
Then social networking kicks in, fanning the rumor flames and pointing to other conspiracy theories that exacerbate the situation. In the midst of all this brouhaha, a blogger notices that a website (pandemicnews.blogspot.com) that tracks death rates is showing a trend in most of the developed – and third – world of deaths from “pneumonia” and “influenza” at ten times the normal rate. The blogger bring this to the attention of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is looking to get back into the good graces of the world. Julian publishes the information and hires a statistician to evaluate the data and report. Three days later, the statistician tells Julian – who tells the world – that we appear to have a pandemic on our hands. Nobody believes him – except the sanitary engineer in Atlanta, the historian and the doubtful but interested epidemiologist who sees all the reasons why it can’t be true, but is willing to listen. The three of them contact the military member of the team and tell him they have to convince the Surgeon General to convince the President’s Chief of Staff. The CofS briefs the President who – while doubtful – asks the CofS to tell the group to investigate and determine what it is, and particularly whether the strain of virus found in this new “Spanish flu” is consistent with the disease that killed the oil minister & ayatollah. Want this to be the cause, not Israel who claims to have had nothing to do with the deaths. But they have to be exhumed to test for the pathogen, and there isn’t a lot of confidence in being able to get the Iranians to allow this at this time. Have to try another avenue . Int’l Red Cross rep goes to the oil minister’s home, to ask the family to assist in investigation. Rep meets the son – recovering from the same flu. They test him, and find it is consistent with what is being reported. Results given to the CofS, who tells the President. Pres gets on the phone with the President of Iran, Ahmadinijad.
Meanwhile, deaths are now being reported on all continents except Antarctica. The death toll has reached 350,000 and is climbing daily by the tens of thousands. A new Ayatollah has been named, who continues to believe – and say – that one has nothing to do with the other. The Iranian nuclear program is gearing up, and it appears the middle east is on the brink of war, which will undoubtedly affect American interests, foreign & domestic.
V. The Flu Team 80 pp
Back with the team…they know the strain of virus, and reports coming in from the world are consistent with that strain – a new and much more virulent strain almost identical to the “Spanish” flu. They meet in Atlanta, and decide to look thru the records at the CDC. Divide up all the M&M reports, and begin a database of facts and dates. Military provides access to dozens of other databases – military and civilian, hotel, airline, Sanitary Engineer had to bring her granddaughter with her, because it’s now summer and the summer camp has ended, with another not set to start for a week. Sets up the database on the computer upstairs works into the wee hours, not getting anywhere. Goes to bed, leaving the computer on. Next morning, makes coffee & slogs back upstairs to find granddaughter on the computer, with the database open. Gets upset because thinks kid has messed up all her work.
Granddaughter says she sees a connection with Atlanta – goes on – in kid words – to explain about the coincidences of dead CDC worker, manifest of the plane passengers, seating around the CDC worker and all dead. Explains this is a game like the Iphone App “Luxor” Match 3 game – find the connections between things. Granny jumps on computer to see where CDC worker was flying in from – finds link to airport in Alberta. Calls CDC – it’s Saturday, so has to get someone to go in and get workers notes from the trip. Filed an e-mail before got back to Atlanta, went to hospital & died. Details trip to oil camp to investigate deaths that started with the unknown ‘black’ man. Gets phone number of oil camp – calls – no answer. Calls main company – gets switchboard runaround. Calls president of the company at home – gets cell number of website after offshore drilling disaster in eastern Canada – – blind alley but gets hold of secretary with story. Sect’y tells boss then calls granny back for more info. Granny gets upset with sect’y, warning her that her boss will lose his job if he doesn’t call her, ‘cause his company started the disaster that has led to war between Iran and Israel. Secretary tells boss to call his nut job, because she won’t be yelled at anymore doing his PR work. Boss calls granny. She tells him what she’s doing and says she needs help to find out if they have had deaths. He agrees to assign his best ‘suit’ to check into it. ‘Suit’ calls back two hours later, and says had 11 deaths in February – February! Odd thing, tho’ – i.d.’s first death as a ‘black’ man – had no black men at the camp as far as anyone knew. Grandma isn’t really listening to that last comment, so focused on the end of the deaths of the flu. By this time, death toll is 500,000 and rate is climbing exponentially. War in middle east being predicted daily, with troops being called up, including the parents of the 8 year old. So now she’s got a stake in the outcome, and getting this thing resolved.
Grandma gets team together, including ‘suit’ from the oil company flying in from London. So we regroup with the historian, military rep, epidemiologist, suit, Grandma & Granddaughter. Grandma presents the info, confirmed by the suit. Team dismisses assumption, apologizing to ‘suit’ for granny’s getting him involved unnecessarily. This is because deaths stopped at 11 – can’t be anything but a blind alley. Granddaughter pipes up that she read the presentation made by the historian. Says: “Didn’t the deaths stop at Haskell too?” Everyone ignores her – grandma says to Emily, ‘what, honey?’ Group stops to look at her – she repeats her statement. The historian looks at his notes – realizes she is right – after few initial deaths, problem did stop. Just a coincidence and doesn’t mean anything. Kid then adds – but he was black. At first they think it’s an ethnic slur – like his death didn’t mean anything because he was black. Tell Grandma to keep kid quiet. Suit then says, wait a minute – grandma says, Em, what do you mean by that? Em points at the historian, whose picture was at the top of the PowerPoint slide and says, you said the bodies at Haskell – some of them turned black before they died. The ‘story’ about the oil field said the guy who got sick was black. Suit says kid is right – there were no black men on the site. Silence … two coincidences? Ask ‘suit’ to have body exhumed and tested for the flu. In middle of Alberta? Ground barely thawing – ? CDC sends a team, military sends equipment, body is exhumed – ever doubtful because a kid came up with it, but voila – they have their origin. DNA test I.D.s the man as a white guy from Idaho, who did time in prison for a series of burglaries two years’ before (that’s why there’s a DNA sample). Has a wife & two kids in Boise . Have to go tell the wife her husband died, likely as the originator of this flu. She tells story of his work on oil fields was supposed to be a new start, but thought he was a bum because he hadn’t sent home any money, written or called since last February. Confirms they have the right guy.
VI. Meanwhile, Back in Atlanta at the CDC – 20 pp
Team takes a step back to regroup. Decide to review the history & current epidemiology. The current virus is very similar to the original Spanish flu, but has evolved in a much more complicated way. Review how it began in Haskell, KS. Also discuss how it abruptly ended for all intents and purposes six months after the killing started. But they agree: they can’t just wait and hope for the best. They have to find a vaccine. Using best guess approach, a vaccine is developed, and begin to be distributed. But nervous parents don’t want to wait – they insist on giving it to their children. Several die in the process, so the CDC puts out a bulletin to doctors telling them to stop it – angry mother scene reminiscent of Mom in Jaws with the Cof S – secret service todo after she slaps him and says gov’t not doing enuf.
Israeli scientist steps forward & volunteers to try a vaccine developed from oil minister’s son’s flu genotype/phenotype. Gets terribly ill but survives. Still not clear that a vaccine will work- nobody willing to try – deaths @ 2 million and rising
VII. Then back to the Middle East – 20 pp
President goes on international television, thanks to satellite hookups, to tell the world what we know, what we’re doing and asking for calm. Talks about the Israeli scientist’s risking his life to try to find a vaccine, but still not sure it’s right. Al Jazeera broadcasts to the Middle East, and we go to Tehran for an update on what the Iranians think. Discussion between Ahmadinijad and the Ayatollah (no love lost between them). Ayatollah insists it’s a western/Israeli plot. Ahmadinijad is a civil engineer and understands that what the President is saying is, in fact, a plausible explanation for what has happened. Given the fragile nature of the relationship, he’s hesitant to tell the Ayatollah he’s wrong (could be deadly). Instead, suggests the team the President has shown on TV should be brought to Iran in a gesture of good faith to discuss with the Ayatollah. Ayatollah agrees, since nuclear option does have some consequences. Tells Ahmadinijad to call the President and ask for the team to be sent to Iran on Air Force One. President knows how close they are to a deadly war, and talks with his CofS about the potential for the team – their last hope – to die in the war. CofS says don’t have a choice – gotta send ‘em or it’s all over for the world anyway. Pres brings in the team and makes it their choice – team agrees to go.
VIII. Going to Iran – 65 pp
Grandma is packing to go to Iran. Tells Emily she can’t go – too dangerous. Conversation ensues between the two of them, wherein Em reminds her grandmother that she was the one that helped them figure out the source, and that without her they would be at a loss. Since grandma doesn’t have any ready alternative (and since the parents are in the same danger she and Em would be) she agrees to bring her with the team. Team packs up their stuff and flies to Andrews AFB to board Air Force One. President sends them a video message, wishing them God speed and saying he wished he could go with them. Team enjoys the benefits of all the accoutrements of AF1, especially Emily who begins to realize what a big deal this is. Arrive at airport in Tehran 8 hours later, so it’s midnight. Go to the Swiss Embassy on Yasaman St. in Tehran, met by the ambassador, Livia Leu Agosti, a woman. Ms. Agosti takes Emily into the kitchen, knowing that the child probably was too shy to ask for something to eat from the steward on AF1. She asks her what she wants to eat – says grilled cheese. Swiss cheese? No, American cheese! They compromised on cold chicken salad and sliced apples. Everyone went to bed happy.
Next day, have an audience with Admadinijad. Gives them advice on how to address the Ayatollah, what to say, what to avoid. Asks why the child is with them – grandma starts to explain, but Emily says she is an important member of the team, and needs to be there. Admadinijad is not amused. Tells her to behave herself when she goes to see the Ayatollah. Em says she will.
In the early evening, go to the meet with the Ayatollah, who refuses to meet with western power representatives. Group shown into the hall to wait; Em dressed in her Sunday best with shiny, patent leather Mary Janes. Ayatollah’s clerical assistant fetches them & takes them to the audience room, where the Ayatollah is sitting. At first he doesn’t react; then sees Em. Gestures for everyone to sit down. Interpreter asks for the team leader to speak for the group. They look at each other (who’s the leader?) Finally, epidemiologist starts to speak, but the interpreter is unfamiliar with the technical terms, so they just look at each other. Finally, everybody looks at grandma. Grandma explains they are there to plead with the Ayatollah to believe the information that they provided to him the previous day in Farsi. Ayatollah says he didn’t read it – afraid it was embedded with poison. Again at an impasse. Finally, Ayatollah points at Emily, and says something to the interpreter. Interpreter asks Em to go stand next to the Ayatollah – she gets up from the chair and walks over to him. He looks her squarely in the eye – she calmly looks back. He asks if she’s having a good day, thru the interpreter – says she is having a good day. Ayatollah asks if she has anything she’d like to say to him. She says the following:
“I know you’re in charge of this whole country. I know you are really mad because you think another country did something bad to your friend. But that’s not what happened. A bad disease started with a virus in Canada because Grandma and I figured that out.” Interpreter stops – Ayatollah says “Grandma?” Interpreter translates – he points at Grandma – she nods. He nods. Emily goes on. Some guys that worked with the oil in Canada flew on a plane to your country. They gave the virus to someone who gave it to somebody else, and your friend got the virus. All these people are dying all over the world because of this bad thing. That’s all.” The interpreter stops, waiting for a signal from the Ayatollah. He picks Emily up and sits her on his lap. She calmly looks at him, and says “You gotta believe me – I know it’s true.” Interpreter interprets. He puts her down, and she goes back to her chair. The Ayatollah says somehow you westerners always know tricks to play on us poor Persians. You bring a child to do your work. Pause … but I have a soft spot in my heart for children. I know when they are telling the truth, and when they have been coached. She is telling the truth, at least so far as she knows it. I will give you time to do your work. Find a way to stop this. I will do my part to give you that time.
Crisis averted. Everyone takes a deep breath. Ayatollah says to Emily, I have six grandchildren – four boys and two girls. Interpreter interprets. I like the girls best, because they don’t try to fool me. You are a good girl. Take care of – and he pauses to remember the word – “grandma”. The group leaves. Return to Embassy to pack up their things. Swiss Ambassador tells Grandma that she has a phone call from the Ayatollah & his interpreter, telling her to be sure Emily gets safely back to the airport, holding her responsible for the safety of this extraordinary child. The Ambassador knows that a world war has been averted. She hugs Emily when they go to leave, and tells her a quote from the Bible:
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”
Em’s eyes get real big and she says, Ohhkay – I don’t exactly know what that means, but I think it’s a good thing – so thanks!
IX The Solving of the Riddle
The team flies back to Andrews AFB on Air Force 1. They are met at the airport by the White House limo, and taken back to the White House for a meeting with the President. He says the Ayatollah – for the first time ever – called and thanked him – that was it – but it’s a start. Not sure what happened, but congratulates the team for a job well done, averting a major, nuclear confrontation. They all look at Emily – she just smiles and everyone says, “Thank you Mr. President”. We have work to do.
They adjourn to the conference room to work on how to address the problem. They get a direct connection to the CDC. The previous day’s results are in – mortality is decreasing. The vaccine originated by the Israeli scientist was refined and perfected. It is easily duplicated, and labs all over the world are starting manufacture. Thus far, it appears the only side effect is redness around the vaccination area and a slight nose drip – otherwise, safe & effective. The crisis is over – but what about the war with Israel & Iran? They brief the CDC about their visit with the Ayatollah, and say there is now a relationship with the President so the good news can be shared with Iran.
X. Post Script
It’s now October 2013, and the nominees for the Nobel peace prize are Bono Northern Ireland, Isral Abdel Fattah, Egypt, Svetlana Gannushkina, Russia and Emily Collins, USA. Bono, having been nominated so many times, assumes he’s got a lock on it. After all, the competition is two women and a kid! The announcement is to be made on 10/3. The day arrives. Bono is on tour, currently in Sweden (next door to Norway, where the ceremony will be held). Isral is at home in Egypt, working on her memoirs of the Tahrir Square confrontation and hoping to get the call. Svetlana, a retired professor of mathematics, is in Moscow attending a peace conference and hoping to get the call. Emily has just begun the fourth grade at Jupiter Farms Elementary, and today is hoping to get a good seat in the cafeteria for lunch. At 10 am Oslo time (4 am Jupiter time), the announcement is made. At 4:30 am, the phone at the house in Jupiter begins to ring. Assuming something bad has happened, her mother Robin picks up the phone and shouts “somebody better be dead.” It’s the New York Times, asking for a comment on the unanimous decision of the committee to award Emily the Nobel Peace Prize. Robin drops the phone, and tells her husband Colter it’s somebody claiming to be from the New York Times, and that Emily has won. Thinking it’s a joke (and not having had enuf sleep, somewhat grouchy), he grabs the phone, demanding to know who this is and why they’re calling at this bloody hour. He is soon convinced it’s legit. Then the reporter says “You know, the prize comes with a million and a half dollars”. Now Colter drops the phone – ya hoo!
December, 2013: The family travels to Oslo for the ceremony. Emily gets the sash around her neck, and turns to the audience to speak. She says it was just a game she played on grandma’s IPhone called Pandemic 2 where you got to be the virus and winning meant you had to spread everywhere and then just replicate to a benign form and go away in springtime.
When asked what she’ll do with the money, says she’ll tell grandma to buy her more stock in drug companies-thinks there’s a future in that investment
3 THOUGHTS ON “WRITING”
John Theed on March 9, 2012 at 8:24 pm said: Edit
I like it.
on February 19, 2013 at 2:22 am said: Edit
Please teach the rest of these inentert hooligans how to write and research!