May 31, 2020

Harrison County Judge Chad Sims on Facebook said the county had no new cases Friday, leaving the cumulative total at 242. The county has had 80 recoveries, Sims said, and now has 138 active cases.

5/31/2020 Page A3 | e-Edition |


Harrison County reports 5 new COVID cases

Harrison County was notified on Saturday of five new COVID-19 cases, according to information released by Harrison County Judge Chad Sims.

Giving his daily 4 p.m. update, County Judge Chad Sims noted that of the 247 overall positive cases for the county, 80 have resulted in recoveries and 24 fatalities for a current total of 143 active cases.

From the Longview paper: 

Gregg County recorded 15 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the county’s total to 284.

Health Authority Dr. Lewis Browne said all the new cases are community spread.

“That’s not good,” he said Saturday.

On Friday, the county reported 20 new cases, but 10 of those were connected to testing of Gregg County Jail inmates.

Browne said Friday that the county probably will see more cases “because of opening up.”

“That goes back to: opening up is OK, but you need to start protecting yourself.”

As of Friday, there were 44 COVID-19 hospitalized patients in the counties of Marion, Harrison, Panola, Rusk, Shelby, Trinity, Gregg, Upshur, Cherokee, Freestone, Houston, Rains, Franklin, Van Zandt and the eastern portions of Anderson, Henderson, Smith, Wood and Camp, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Budget cuts in Longview:      Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt has tasked each of his department heads to find 15% in cuts to their budgets amid revenue declines stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some departments will not meet that, and some will exceed that,” he said. “And my hope is we cut a substantial amount from our budget.”

Stoudt said he made the decision to make cuts because “it’s just good business.” The 2020-21 budget will be smaller than a year ago because how business works is changing during the pandemic.


He said no furloughs or layoffs are planned, “but we are looking at open positions and whether to fill them or not.”

Dutch and Canadian advice is more liberal than the CDC regarding some social matters. 
COLLINS PUN FOR THE DAY: Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE


May 29, 2020

In Harrison County, County Judge Chad Sims reported two more COVID-19 diagnoses on Thursday, bumping his county’s total to 242 cases. He said the county also saw nine more recoveries, raising that total to 80. 
The Gregg County Jail’s daily report for Thursday to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards shows the county’s number of inmates who have tested positive now totals 42. The report shows that two jailers have tested positive.
In Titus County, the 77 additional cases push that county’s total to 443, the state health department reported. The county has had two deaths from the virus.
But while those experiments show how germs can spread on surfaces, the microbe still has to survive long enough and in a large enough dose to make you sick. Eugene M. Chudnovsky, a professor at the City University of New York, notes that surfaces are not a particularly effective means of viral transmission. With the flu, for instance, it takes millions of copies of the influenza virus to infect a person through surface-to-hand-to-nose contact, but it may take only a few thousand copies to infect a person when the flu virus goes from the air directly into the lungs.
“I believe the C.D.C. is right when it says that surface transmission is not a dominant one,” said Dr. Chudnovsky. “Surfaces frequently touched by a large number of people, like door handles, elevator buttons, etc., may play a more significant role in spreading the infection than objects touched incidentally, like food packages delivered to homes.”
The bottom line is that the best way to protect ourselves from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing our hands, not touching our faces and wearing masks.
MORE GOOD NEWS FROM NYT: I may have some trouble doing this, but take out food, food in general, is safe if you can avoid crowds of people while you acquire it. Good reassuring article. J. Harris
JHH: Very good article with early reports about wearable monitoring devices that might give early warning of impending or incipient COVID.  However, I think I’ll use the oximeter and pulse detector that I already have purchased for about $60. I can watch my oxygen level as well as my pulse and not fiddle with a  bunch of new devices that I can’t read anyway. If my oxygen goes down and my pulse goes us, I’m in trouble. I tried to join the Duke study mentioned in the article, but I couldn’t sign the damn consent with a computer. 
On Thursday, researchers at WVU’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute reported that Oura ring data, combined with an app to measure cognition and other symptoms, can predict up to three days in advance when people will register a fever, coughing or shortness of breath. It can even predict someone’s exact temperature, like a weather forecast for the body.
There’s more: Researchers at Stanford University studying changes in heart rate from Fitbits tell me they’ve been able to detect the coronavirus before or at the time of diagnosis in 11 of 14 confirmed patients they’ve studied. In this initial analysis, they could see one patient’s heart rate jump nine days before the person reported symptoms. In other cases, they only saw evidence of infection in the data when patients noticed symptoms themselves.
(Apple watchers are also discussed)

In this cross-sectional study, 10 of 60 patients previously diagnosed with and treated for COVID-19 had RT-PCR test results positive for SARS-CoV-2 from 4 to 24 days after index hospital discharge. As discharged patients were provided with home isolation instructions and local cases were rare, their positive results were presumed to be persistent viral shedding rather than reinfection. Consistent with previous studies showing prolonged viral shedding in the feces of patients with COVID-19,4 our results indicated that 6 patients had persistent viral shedding in the gastrointestinal tract after hospital discharge, including 1 patient (patient 2) who had positive results in both samples and showed RT-PCR positivity on March 27, 2020, a viral shedding duration of 56 days from illness onset. Lower threshold cycle values with anal swabs than those with nasopharyngeal swabs were identified in this study; however, the infectivity remains unclear, as infectious viruses have not been isolated from stool samples, to our knowledge.5

This study was limited to a small number of discharged patients who had test results positive for SARS-CoV-2. Further studies using a larger cohort and isolation of the viable virus instead of RT-PCR testing are needed to define infectivity for continued disease management after hospital discharge.

Considering the RT-PCR positivity for SARS-CoV-2 among discharged patients with COVID-19 revealed by this and a previous study,2 appropriate personal protective equipment for medical staff might be important while collecting convalescent plasma, and the effects of convalescent plasma from clinically recovered patients with persistent viral shedding may need to be evaluated separately.

JHH: At the least,  the above small study indicates that people who have had Covid and have been treated or observed may remain contagious for a period of time yet to be determined; they might also become reinfected. 
COLLINS PUN FOR THE DAY:  Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.


GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE


By George Smith

I have taught various management courses in adjunct positions for more than 25 years at various colleges and universities in three states.

I started researching and writing about politics in 1966 and for more than 50 years have seen and reported on the activities, actions and abominations of hundreds of politicians at all levels of the political  spectrum.

That does not mean I am an expert in business or politics, just that I have experience in research and writing about topics in those areas.

Look at this list:






Attacks perceived foes on personal level.

Makes wild accusations based on whims, not evidence

Lacks empathy.


Impatient to a fault.

Will not read important documents and reports.

Ignorant on many subjects directly connected to the job.

Believes “gut” over acclaimed experts.

There is no way that a person with this extensive list of faults could be selected as CEO of a major company or be elected to any public office. Yet, Donald J. Trump embraces all of these negative traits and was elected president.

Via frequent tweets, Trump brags about his prowess as a manager and leader even as he is daily giving historians ammunition to declare him the most divisive, abrasive m, corrosive and corrupt president in U.S. history.

Why do do many people follow this man with a cult-like fervor? 

To some, it boils down to a one-issue situation, i.e., abortion or immigration or the perceived need for religious freedom.

To others, Trump is seen as a leader in the white supremacy movement;m, the white-is-right believers that has abject racism as their core mantra.

And, a slice of his supporters sing his praises simply because he is seen as an outlier, someone from outside the political area whom they thought would hear their frustration and create change.

Trump has brought change: Regulations  that protected workers, the environment and the animal population have been gutted; public lands are being raped by big businesses who donate campaign funds to Trump; racist tension is back to the 1960’s level, with distrust between police and the people they are sworn to protect increasing exponentially and with protests and riots becoming along racial lines more commonplace.

This president has made sure to cut ties with longtime foreign allies, alienating friendly nations while cozying up to dictators, despots and third world strongmen.

He has not hidden the fact that he wants to dismantle any program from the Obama Administration, simply because he is piqued by the former president’s constant popularity and the fact Obama has more Twitter followers.

We are stuck with this petulant degenerate and will wake up every day wondering what new hell our president perpetuated via tweet overnight.

We are stuck through election day. Trump’s antics, incompetencies, malignant actions and benign neglect of traditional protocol will be a part of history. His supporters’ stated reasons for kowtowing to his bizarre and corrosive whims will also be examined by history’s prolific authors.

The final stories on leader and his cultish followers will be brutal. Count on it.


GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE


May 28, 2020

Harrison County Judge Chad Sims reported six new positive cases in his county, bumping that total up to 240. He said the county has recorded 71 recoveries. 
Potentially overlooked due to the total volume of cases in the United States and the growing incidence in Brazil, Chile, and Peru, Mexico’s COVID-19 epidemic is also exhibiting a concerning acceleration. Mexico is currently #5 in the Americas in terms of daily incidence and #8 globally. Mexico has reported a total of 74,560 cases, including 3,455 new cases, its highest daily total to date. (FROM HOPKINS)
SARS-CoV-2 MONITORING IN SEWAGE Researchers from Yale University (Connecticut, US) published (preprint) findings from a study that evaluated the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus in a local sewage system. The study aimed to determine the potential for monitoring SARS-CoV-2 presence and concentration in sewage systems to provide insight into the level of local community transmission. Utilizing daily samples taken from a local sewage processing facility (March 19-May 1), the researchers performed quantitative viral RNA testing (qRT-PCR) for SARS-CoV-2 and compared the concentration to local COVID-19 reporting. They found a strong correlation between the amount of SARS-CoV-2 present in the sewage and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations several days later. The trend in hospitalizations lagged 3 days behind the peak viral concentration, and the reported cases lagged the viral concentration by 7 days. Because viral shedding often occurs before SARS-CoV-2 infections can be diagnosed, this study illustrates that conducting surveillance on the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater systems could potentially provide several days advance warning of increased COVID-19 incidence in the community.(COVID is found in sewage and increased disease is heralded by increase sewage levels of COVID 3 days earlier)
ANTIBODY PRODUCTION IN COVID-19 SURVIVORS Researchers at The Rockefeller University published (preprint) data from a study of 149 COVID-19 patients to evaluate the presence of antibodies in blood serum after their recovery. Their analysis identified a broad scope of immune response among the participants, including the production of various types of antibodies. The researchers found that the majority of the COVID-19 patients did not produce the appropriate type or quantity of antibodies necessary to result in the “neutralizing activity” necessary to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, including 33% whose neutralizing activity was below the minimum detectable level. They did identify “remarkably high” neutralizing activity in 2 of the participants. The researchers were further able to identify and clone key neutralizing antibodies from these “‘elite’ responders,” and they are working to translate them into a potential COVID-19 treatment. (THIS IS NOT GOOD: THIS STUDY INDICATES THAT MOST OF THE ANTIBODIES TO COVID IN THIS STUDY WERE INEFFECTIVE IN COMBATING OR PREVENTING COVID)
“It’s like we have attention-deficit disorder right now. Everything we’re doing is just a knee-jerk response to the short-term,” said Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “People keep asking me, ‘What’s the one thing we have to do?’ The one thing we have to do is to understand that there is not one thing. We need a comprehensive battle strategy, meticulously implemented.”
People also keep talking of returning to normal, said Natalie Dean, a disease biostatistician at the University of Florida. But a future with an enduring coronavirus means that normal no longer exists. “As we find different ways to adapt and discover what works, that’s how we’re going to start reclaiming parts of our society and life,” she said.
America’s yearning for a quick fix has turned in recent days toward a vaccine, now being portrayed as a solution that will quash the virus once and for all.
But the world has achieved that only once, with smallpox — a measure of just how difficult it is for vaccines to wipe out diseases. And it took nearly two centuries after the discovery of a vaccine — and an unprecedented international effort — to vanquish smallpox, which stole hundreds of millions of lives.

Eventually, many experts believe this coronavirus could become relatively benign, causing milder infections as our immune systems develop a memory of responses to it through previous infection or vaccination. But that process could take years, said Andrew Noymer, a University of California at Irvine epidemiologist.

Barney Graham, deputy director of the federal government’s Vaccine Research Center, said emerging plans for vaccination are already stretching as far out as a decade.

MAYBE WE NEED A COLLINS PUN: A hole has been found in the nudist – camp wall.

The police are looking into it.

GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE


May 26, 2020

Edmund Wood is over my head with his mathematic ability. He is able to understand, analyze, compress, and chart meaningful data.
Right now, as I analyze this data, things are looking better locally. It will be interesting to rechart everything in a couple of weeks and see if we hurt ourselves over the holiday and with more reopenings. Notice that he is concerned today with ACTIVE CASES LOCALLY  in
the first graph and ACTIVE CASES IN TEXAS on the second chart. 
FROM EDMUND WOOD: I am enclosing a couple of graphs – active cases of Harrison County, with a second line of a calculation by me of active cases based on:
active cases = total of new cases added to active case count each day, LESS each day’s new cases deducted from the running total of active cases after 14 days,   LESS each day’s fatalities, LESS unexplained deductions from the active cases by the TSDHS.  
The method used by TSDHS shows more active cases than my method.   Perhaps it is using a longer recovery time or it is doing some type of backward averaging so cases trends continue further in time.
For example:  if the data shows three successive days new cases:  2 4 8 4 2.  Averaging backward one time would produce: 2, 3=(2+4)/2=6/2, 6=(4+8)/2=12/2, 6=(8+4)/2=12/2, 3=(4+2)/2=6/2
or  2,3,6,6,3
Instead of: 2,4,8,4,2  On the up slope, the backward average is below average, on the downward slope, the backward average is above average.  
The next graph is the active cases for the entire state of Texas.  As you can see Texas continues to increase its active cases.  
CDC DATA TRACKER AND MAPS is a top site for following numbers
Coronavirus Stats & Data from USA FACTS—THIS IS A NEW SOURCE FOR ME. JH

“Serologic methods have been developed and will have important public health and clinical uses to monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
” Below is my translation of some of this information. I apologize if I have made errors or overly simplified the material. It is all cited above for you through evaluation. JHarris
“…antibody tests help determine whether the individual being tested was ever infected—even if that person never showed symptoms. “…serology (antibody)assays do not typically replace direct detection methods as the primary tool for diagnosing an active SARS-CoV-2 infection, but they do have several important applications in monitoring and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.’’

• Currently, there is no identified advantage of assays whether they test for IgG, IgM and IgG, or total antibody.

• It is important to minimize false positive test results by choosing an assay with high specificity and by testing populations and individuals with an elevated likelihood of previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2

• Antibodies most commonly become detectable 1-3 weeks after symptom onset, at which time evidence suggests that infectiousness likely is greatly decreased and that some degree of immunity from future infection has developed

• In some instances, serologic test results may assist with identifying persons potentially infected with SARS-CoV-2 and determining who may qualify to donate blood that can be used to manufacture convalescent plasma as a possible treatment for those who are seriously ill from COVID-19.

• In addition, the development of neutralizing antibodies can also be assessed. Neutralizing antibodies inhibit viral replication in vitro, and as with many infectious diseases, their presence correlates with immunity to future infection, at least temporarily. NEW. 

• Recurrence of COVID-19 illness appears to be very uncommon, suggesting that the presence of antibodies could confer at least short-term immunity to infection with SARS-CoV-2…..
A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.


GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE


May 25, 2020

Decoration Day from THE ATLANTIC 

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!


Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.


But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.


All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!


Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.


Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.

About this poem (THE ATLANTIC)

“Decoration Day,” a remembrance honoring the Civil War dead, was first published in our June 1882 issue. As our poetry editor David Barber explains, the piece predates the Memorial Day holiday as we know it:

The poem pays tribute to what was then a new form of civic observance: a day set aside to commemorate those who had perished in the Civil War, by placing flags and flowers on soldiers’ graves, a custom that gradually gave rise to our modern Memorial Day honoring all who give their lives in military service. Its first readers likely felt an elegiac pang all the more acutely: By the time the poem circulated in the June 1882 Atlantic, it would have been national news that Longfellow had died just a few weeks earlier at his home in Cambridge, at the age of 75. (Did you know that RALPH WALDO EMERSON was one of the founders of The Atlantic)_

A 96-Year-Old Veteran Was Near Death. Then He Met His Social Worker.

Current Harrison County ACTIVE CASE COUNT, by Edmund Wood


What a nice trend. Have a nice holiday. JHarris

Oh, wait, how about another Collins pun: A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart

GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE


May 24, 2020

Some new testing information: FURTHER CLARIFICATION ABOUT COVID 19 TESTS:

The diagnosis of COVID-19 is typically made by detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in respiratory specimens using nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), primarily reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).     (Best antigen or acute testJH)


Tests that identify SARS-CoV-2 antigen in respiratory specimens offer the possibility of point-of-care testing but are generally less sensitive than PCR. (More commonly used antigen test, cheaper, not as good, helpful if positive JH)


Serologic tests that detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in the blood may be able to identify some patients with current infection (particularly those who present late in the course of illness), but they are less likely to be reactive in the first several days to weeks of infection.(Best test to tell you if you have had Covid, or sometimes if you still have it)

Great article about refrigerating vegetables and fruit. Even my resident expert learned a little. 
BERLIN(AP) — A German official says the number of confirmed coronavirus infections following a Baptist community’s service in Frankfurt has risen to at least 107.

News agency dpa reported that Hesse state’s health minister, Kai Klose, said Sunday those infected live in Frankfurt and three other counties in the region.

The deputy head of the Evangelical Christian Baptist congregation has said that the service took place on May 10 and it complied with rules under which authorities allowed religious services to resume at the beginning of the month — including a 1.5 meter (5-foot) distance between worshippers and the provision of disinfectant.

Frankfurt health officials say most of those infected appear to have caught the virus after rather than at the service.

Germany started easing lockdown restrictions on April 20. So far, new coronavirus infections have continued to decline overall.

LONDON(AP) — Toilet experts say urinals may be consigned to history as part of measures to make public conveniences safe for the post-coronavirus world.

Raymond Martin, managing director of the British Toilet Association, says business and governments need to adapt public toilets to make them infection-resistant, adding technology such as foot-operated flushes and sensor-activated taps.

Hospitality industry groups in Britain have also proposed replacing rows of urinals with cubicle-only washrooms for both men and women.

“But ultimately the juice is worth the squeeze — if you’re only reaching 5 percent of the people, at some point, you have to ask why and decide maybe this is not the tool we should use.”????????

The Paw Bearer

The best funeral that I ever attended, I didn’t. I overslept. But I could make it to the burial if I hurried. I threw on some jeans and a barely wrinkled, nice’ish black shirt as well as my dressy sandals and hurried into the garage.

I cranked up my SUV then realized that I needed a breakfast beverage for the hot and tedious five-mile journey to the internment. I left the truck door opened and dashed back into the house where I filled a quart sized Mason jar full of vodka and ice, with a little orange juice splashed in for color.

Alas, upon my arrival at the cemetery, I discovered that my best friend and hunting dog, a rat terrier named “Pop”, had snuck through the open door and into the back of the Suburban where he laid low until our arrival (and not for the first time either). Well, the August heat of East Texas was too thick and oppressive to leave him locked up, so I chugged the rest of my breakfast and let him out, onto the crowded grave yard which was full of people trying to stay out of the sun without stepping on somebody’s grave.

 Ole Pop was mostly black with only a little white on his face and neck, but he had four white stocking feet, which gave him a little distinction that he needed since he was otherwise short and fat and, really, pretty common looking. He stared at me quizzically, with his head twisted around a little as if to ask if he should go with me, and why were we hunting squirrels in this heat, what with all these people around?

I ignored him and traipsed across the grass, almost losing my balance as I tried to avoid defiling the ultimate acreage of various dear departeds. My inadvertent tardiness did have some merit, however, because all the preaching and praying, singing and crying, was done with by the time I eased in. I didn’t take the time to sign the register. More likely than not, the dear departed would not be reviewing it anytime soon.

Several folding chairs and a fresh grave were canopied by a mildew-encrusted tent that was steaming in the heat. It smelled like an old chicken coop. Even though the burial service was over, lots of folks were standing around in various shades visiting and a heap of ‘um were looking at me. Somewhat self-consciously, I eased up front, close to the coffin, which was poised on hydraulics, ready to be lowered into an open grave. Thankfully, the casket was closed, but it was draped with a multitude of flowers including a spray composed of magnolia and lily pad blossoms intertwined with honeysuckle vines that I had made and sent over the day before, without a card. Discretely, between the flowers and the casket, I now placed a couple of old risqué post cards that the decedent, who had been my favorite nurse, sent me from Paris some years back. I took my time since I didn’t plan to think about this day ever again.

While I stood there with my head somberly bowed, something salty coursed down my face to the corners of my mouth, sweat most likely, and it must have got in my eyes, because they started blinking and burning and watering uncontrollably. I didn’t want anyone to see my eyes acting so crazy, so I just stood there quietly for a little longer. By then, my legs felt a little wobbly, and my head was kind of spinning, most likely due to the heat or by something I didn’t eat.

I hitched up my pants and put on the sunglasses that I conveniently found on my forehead and took down a real deep breath of air as I turned from the grave. I walked away slowly and alone in an attempt at anonymity, but to my consternation, I was greeted by more than a few of the bereaved. I had hoped that my standoffish demeanor would preclude any graveyard chitchat and niceties — and the hokum about how much better off the loved one is now “in a better place” and all of that terminally titillating mumbo-jumbo bull shit.

However, my impassive facade was quickly disrupted. I heard some muted giggling and carrying on, and, annoyed, I turned around to see if someone was laughing at me. Well, to my chagrin, Pop was walking around sniffing at and peeing on various tombstones and flowerpots, the bigger the better, marking his visitation in his own primal way. I guess I got a little embarrassed, so I looked away, then shrugged my shoulders and shook my head as if to say that the ugly, black, irreverent, penguin-looking little dog was not with me.

Luckily, I spied the decedent’s brother in a nearby shade. He was appropriately known as “Fatboy.” I nonchalantly walked over to commiserate with him, and to my distinct pleasure, I discovered that he was sitting on a beer cooler which he had worshipfully shrouded with a black T-shirt that had only a little bit of a “Hell’s Angels” logo showing.

Fatboy smiled, thanked me for coming and for caring about his sister, and with a crooked grin and great fanfare, he handed me a cold, cold, long-necked bottle of Budweiser beer — and not a light one either. I lovingly drank it off in three swallows and was fixing to get another one when Pop treed a squirrel.

I guess I got a little flustered; I didn’t rightly know what to do what with the dog barking and jumping, and trying to climb a tree in the graveyard, at the tail end of the funeral with semi-reverential folks all around. Pop was barking to beat hell, and I knew that he wouldn’t quit till I killed the squirrel or at least tried real hard to do so. Pop had genuine integrity; he wouldn’t bark on a tree unless he was absolutely sure that there was a squirrel up there; and if he was really hitting on a tree, jerking on vines with his mouth, and chewing on the bark, and trying to climb the tree, then it was incumbent on me to get on over and tend to my end of the partnership. Anyway, by now everyone at the outdoor funeral knew to whom the little black apparition belonged. Obviously, I needed to do something to resolve the escalating cacophony.

Fatboy, who was more than a little amused at the shenanigans, allowed me to get hold of myself a little by handing me another cold beer which I immediately jetted, and I shivered a little as my blood alcohol crept closer to a tolerable level

Since we were a little way out of town and in rural East Texas and all, I wasn’t scared to shoot the squirrel, and that was the only thing that would make the dog stop barking and carrying on. He’d have bit me if I’d tried to manhandle him. He was a dedicated hunting dog and didn’t like an interrupted kill. Besides, the squirrel was in plain sight up in a sparsely branched, isolated, little oak tree. Pop must have caught him on the ground and chased him up there, since, otherwise, there was little reason for a squirrel to be in such a puny tree.

I needed to dispatch that squirrel, so I walked over to my rig to get a gun. I usually have an assortment of firearms lying around in my truck, but, to my great dismay, for the first time in about 900 years, I was unarmed. The truck had been in the shop, and I had neutered it temporarily.

No problem. Fatboy waddled out to his truck. He had declined to ride with the funeral people in an expensive family limousine since they didn’t want to haul his beer. Actually, he didn’t have anyone left to ride with him anyway. He reached under his seat and pulled out a pump shotgun with a suspiciously short barrel. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find any shotgun shells amidst all the clutter of empty beer cans, candy wrappers, and turned-over spit cups. He did, however, find a 45 caliber semi-automatic pistol with a loaded magazine. He chambered a round and strolled purposefully over to the tree, with the gun in one hand and the other hand holding onto his jeans they had now slipped south of his enormous gut.

Grinning mischievously, he resolutely, if somewhat unsteadily, aimed up at the big ole red fox squirrel and opened fire. Fatboy wasn’t much of a shot, and he could only use one hand else his pants would fall completely down, but he got close enough with the heavy caliber bullets that the squirrel really panicked — as did some of the folks who were watching the “hunt.” The little varmint jumped and dodged and ran from branch to branch till he was out of room at the top. With no options left, he reluctantly bailed out of the tree and sailed gracefully, like a bird, gliding with all four legs outstretched.

The squirrel hit the ground rolling, twenty or feet yards from the tree, close to the new grave, with Pop snarling and snapping right behind him. He darted across several old graves, through the crowd, under the funeral tent, and barely eluded Pop by jumping up into the back end of the hearse, scattering skittish pallbearers in his wake. Someone slammed the door shut, and so the squirrel was now trapped in the hearse, much to Pop’s displeasure. You could see murder in his eyes as he snarled and shook his head around, slinging spit over those nearby.

Well, the usually demure, gray-looking funeral director started getting real red, and steamy, and all worked up. Innocently enough, Fatboy offered him a beer, but the polite gentleman might have felt that drinking beer at a funeral isn’t decorous  ’cause he started acting really angry, got all trembly and mumbly and his face muscles were jerking a little, side to side, while his eyes started blinking continuously. Then he began to make funny sounds, like he was speaking in tongues or something, and meanwhile he wrung his hands which had seemingly acquired a life of their own and were twitching rhythmically, as if in a choreatic ballet.

Wisely, Fatboy decided to give the gentleman some space, and so we sat down in the shade to rest and recombobulate the situation. Since the cooler was still handy, we sucked down a couple more beers and considered what to do about the unfortunate squirrel, whose energies were rapidly melting down as he whirled around in the empty, hot, black hearse. Pop was now lying down under the hearse, trying to stay cool, but at the same time, staying real close to his squirrel. He knew exactly where the luckless rodent was.

I called the dog over and picked him up so that he could get a drink of water from the beer cooler. Fatboy offered him a beer, but I don’t like for Pop to drink alcohol, so I took it instead.

Fatboy and I now put our less than lucid heads together, and he declared that he would not help get the squirrel out of the hearse. Neither of us particularly liked the undertaker, and we certainly didn’t relish the idea of getting scratched and bit up by the frantic squirrel that by now, we had taken to calling “Rocky.”

Apparently, in this One Hearse Town, there was to be another funeral in a little while, and the high dollar wagon was sorely needed for that function. That, however, was not our problem. Just then, I was really feeling relaxed and comfortable, what with the unexpected camaraderie and with being in the shade with a belly full of beer and all…so, I allowed as how I really didn’t have any quarrel with little Rocky either.

When we declined to help with the squirrel, the distraught undertaker, the myth of his professionalism largely dissipated, reluctantly picked up a handful of long-stemmed flowers off the grave, opened a side door to the hearse, and attempted to shoo the squirrel out of the sweltering trap.

 But he didn’t reckon with Pop. Rocky was Pop’s squirrel, and when door was opened, Pop jumped into the hearse. That little killer, instincts honed by centuries of hunting, was too quick for the frenzied fox squirrel. Pop grabbed Rocky by the neck, as rat dogs will do, and he commenced to shaking him. The soggy squirrel suddenly became more animated in what was likely to be his terminal battle, and he went after Pop’s ears and eyes with his claws and teeth. You would have to say that the combatants did a pretty good job of ripping each other up. Blood and spit and grime and what all were spurting all over the no longer immaculate interior of the hearse.

Predictably, Pop prevailed, and he jumped out of the hearse with the late Rocky in his mouth. Shaking his head side to side as he came, Pop pranced over to Fatboy and me and handed me the squirrel, just like he was supposed to do, much to the admiration of the now fast departing crowd.

Despite Pop’s successful rescue of the hearse, the ungrateful funeral director didn’t seem any happier. In fact, he was walking back and forth mumbling again, and looking up at the sullen sky and then staring at his hands which were even more animated now than earlier. His shark gray suit was sweat soaked and wilted. His necktie now looked like an afterthought, or a noose to conveniently end his troubles? The prospect of getting into the defiled chariot could not have been very appealing to one usually so pristine and proper.

Fatboy put the cooler into his truck and handed me a final beer. Then he chunked Little Rocky into the cooler, swearing to have him mounted in memory of the occasion and of his late sister, who in truth, he loved very much. As did I.

Fatboy started for home, with me right behind him, my unmuffled, straight exhaust pipes rumbling majestically in a funeral bass. With a friendly smile and a one finger wave, I mouthed an “adios” to the director, and we departed the graveyard, with Pop smiling laconically out the window.


GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE

To my friends and political frienemies

By George Smith

To my friends and political frienemies who are hardcore on the Trump train. I feel for you, I really do. Carrying around that much angry and delusion is a burden.

And to those who believe immigrants are taking certain jobs:

Few WASPs over the age of 16 in this country would agree to do stoop labor or haul hay or pick peaches for anything less that $12-$15 an hour. And after one dawn to dusk shift, even that is iffy.

It’s called community culture. Some folks run to hard labor because it is necessary, while others run just as hard in the other direction because they hate hard work.

I decided to go to college when I was 14; that was the summer I tried picking tomatoes and cucumbers and hauling hay.

Nope. Nada. 

Uh-uh. Nyet.

The fact that some folks think U.S. citizens raised on social media, video games and hip-hop are going to do stoop labor is laughable and ludicrous.

Who do you think picks strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, watermelons snd cantaloupes that we, the self-entitled, gently place in our grocery carts?

Who stands elbow to elbow to elbow with other workers deboning chickens or cutting slabs of beef and pork into salable packages? Or pulling the entrails out of fish, goats and turkeys?

Be thankful for immigrants, illegal or otherwise; they do work that Most American citizens do not want to do, or cannot do.

And most of Americans are grateful for those who do. And damn well we  should be.

GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE


May 23, 2020

To help our readers keep themselves and their loved ones safe, the News Messenger asked Dr. Richard Wallace, Chairman of the Department of Microbiology, Chief of Infectious Diseases and Professor of Medicine and Microbiology at UT Health East Texas, to talk about ways that people can navigate a world where COVID-19 is still a risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged that it is mixing the results of two different kinds of tests in the agency’s tally of testing for the coronavirus, raising concerns among some scientists that it could be creating an inaccurate picture of the state of the pandemic in the United States.
The CDC combines the results of genetic tests that spot people who are actively infected, mostly by using a process known as polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, with results from another, known as serology testing, which looks for antibodies in people’s blood. Antibody testing is used to identify people who were previously infected.
Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, expressed concern that adding the two types of tests together could leave the impression that more testing of active cases had been conducted than was actually the case.
Wonderful article on same subject:

Northeast Texas case counts as of Saturday Morning

The total of reported cases of COVID-19 by Friday evening in Northeast Texas was at least 2,403, up from 2,349 a day earlier. Across the region, 108 total deaths had been reported Friday, which was unchanged from Thursday. Here’s a look at totals by county Friday and changes from Thursday:

Anderson: 66 (+2)

Angelina: 175 (+3), 2 deaths

Bowie: 154 (-22), 11 deaths

Camp: 39 (+7)

Cass: 26

Cherokee: 44, 2 deaths

Delta: 1

Franklin: 9 (+1)

Gregg: 195 (+8), 4 deaths

Harrison: 230 (+2), 23 deaths

Henderson: 55 (+3)

Hopkins: 15

Lamar: 133 (+5), 9 deaths

Marion: 15

Morris: 17 (+2)

Nacogdoches: 255 (+11), 17 deaths

Panola: 188, 21 deaths

Red River: 44 (+2), 4 deaths

Rusk: 44, 2 deaths

Shelby: 183, 5 deaths

Smith: 198, 4 deaths

Titus: 248 (+28 from Thursday), 2 deaths

Upshur: 20

Van Zandt: 26 (+1), 1 death

Wood: 23 (+1), 1 death

Totals: 2,403 and 108 deaths

Sources: Texas Department of State Health Services, Northeast Texas Public Health District, local officials

That Office AC System Is Great — at Recirculating Viruses  WOOPS. Most buildings have problems with safe ventilation. GOOD READ
Can I trust the air?

The largest clusters of virus cling to the heaviest droplets, which behave like falling leaves — swirling and dancing for a moment or two before carpeting the ground. But as we talk, sing, shout, and laugh, we also spray a fine mist that remains aloft for hours, mixing promiscuously with the exhalations of others. We can’t see these traveling fogs, but sometimes we can smell them. A perfume that lingers in an elevator, a plume of cigarette smoke, the odor of frying fish wafting through a vent — these olfactory markers track the course of particulate-laden clouds. It’s not yet clear whether the tiniest, aerosolized droplets can carry a big-enough payload of coronavirus molecules to make someone sick, but it’s a good idea to act as if they do.

“If you’re just recirculating infected air, you’re just continuously adding particles to that room. A closed system is probably a nightmare.”
A study of a restaurant in Guangzhou, China, in January, raises the possibility that a poorly functioning ventilation system can make things worse. An AC unit apparently focused one diner’s viral fumes in a beam of cool air and shot it across three adjacent tables, sickening ten people and leaving the rest of the restaurant untouched. The lesson from that incident is clear but unhelpful: If you sense a strong indoor breeze, get out of the way or at least stay upstream of anyone who might be infected.
Mechanical ventilation systems are expensive, bulky, and unreliable, sucking up energy and spewing bad air back outside for other systems to inhale. Natural ventilation is easier on the planet, potentially cheaper to run, and less liable to sicken the people who work inside.

The ultimate goal is to allow us all to breathe without thinking about it again — to have faith that professionals have done their best to neutralize threats none of us can see and most of us can’t even measure. “How do you visualize the invisible?” Murphy says. “That’s one of the core challenges of design.”

COLLINS PUN FOR THE DAY:No matter how much you push the envelope,

it’ll still be stationery.


GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE

Marshall Depot Board shares Amtrak’s plans to restore staffing

Marshall Depot Board shares Amtrak’s plans to restore staffing that was eliminated in 2018 at the Amtrak station in Marshall, Texas and 14 other cities nationwide

Passenger rail advocates from the Marshall Depot Board of Directors shared exciting news on Wednesday that Amtrak is in the process of restoring, in the coming month to six weeks, the paid Customer Service Representative positions at the Marshall, Texas station, as well as the staffing of 14 cities nationwide, which were all eliminated by Amtrak in 2018.

Christina Anderson, member of the Marshall Depot Board and I-20 Corridor Council, who, along with her husband former Harrison County Judge and former Texas State Senator Richard Anderson, headed up the local and regional grassroot efforts in 2018 to urge Amtrak to not eliminate the important staffing at the Marshall station and the other stations nationwide, shared the following statement, on behalf of the Marshall Depot Board:

“During the sadness and difficulty of the ongoing pandemic and with continued gratitude for the brave service of our frontline workers and all working together to battle the current health crisis, we’re very grateful and honored to be able to share some welcomed and happy news with our community and region. On Tuesday, May 19, we received a phone call from Amtrak informing us that Amtrak plans to restore the paid Customer Service Representative staffing at our Marshall Depot station, as well as at the 14 other U.S. cities who had staffing eliminated in 2018.”

Ms. Anderson added:  “Congratulations and much appreciation to all who worked with such dedication—locally, regionally, and nationally—on the grassroots effort to help Amtrak understand the critical role that staffing of our stations plays in our rural and urban communities, plus the critical role that Amtrak’s long-distance National Network plays in providing much-needed transportation options to citizens throughout America. Our community greatly values and appreciates our strong, long-standing partnership with Amtrak, as Marshall is proudly one of the stops along the Texas Eagle route. And, with regard to this issue, we are grateful that our local and national unified voices were heard.”

Cathy Wright, President of the Marshall Depot Board, echoed this sentiment: “We’re so appreciative to all who worked so hard and effectively to bring about this successful outcome, not only in 2018 but over the past two years. We’re thankful for the strong working relationship we have with Amtrak, now and in the past, and we look forward to the relationship continuing to strengthen in the many years to come.”

Amtrak shared the information that there would be a posting internally within Amtrak for the two restored Customer Service Representative (CSR) jobs in Marshall from May 20-May 27. The jobs will then be posted externally. One CSR agent would work Monday through Thursday, the other CSR agent would work Friday through Sunday, for a fully-staffed station in Marshall.

The CSR agents will provide service at the Marshall Depot station in the three hours before, during, and after the arrival and departure of the northbound, as well as the southbound trains on the Texas Eagle route, which provides service between Chicago and San Antonio. The northbound train to Chicago departs each day at 7:31pm and the southbound train to Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio departs at 7:50am.  Marshall is one of only about 525 cities nationwide that has an Amtrak stop.

By way of background, Amtrak announced in the spring of 2018 that the company planned to eliminate the Customer Service Representative staffing at the Marshall Depot station by the end of June of that year.

At that time, Amtrak also announced the elimination of staffing at 14 other cities–Texarkana, Arkansas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Topeka, Kansas; Meridian, Mississippi; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Hammond, Louisiana; Charleston, West Virginia; Fort Madison, Iowa; Ottumwa, Iowa; Garden City, Kansas; La Junta, Colorado; Lamy, New Mexico; Shelby, Montana; and Havre, Montana.

In 2018, upon hearing the news of the proposed staffing elimination, members of the Marshall Depot Board went into action to inform the community and region about the proposed de-staffing and to mobilize them through a letter-writing and petition-signing campaign to Amtrak officials and members of Congress.

“We worked not only throughout our community and region,” Richard Anderson shared, “but also with advocates in some of the other 14 affected cities. We also worked with national rail advocacy groups such as Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization (TEMPO) and Rail Passengers Association to raise awareness with members of Congress and Amtrak about the negative economic, tourism, and quality of life impact that the staffing elimination would have on Marshall, the other cities, and the National Network.”

The Marshall Depot Board received more than 750 signatures on the petition from citizens throughout the region. Petitions were provided to be signed at community events and at local business such as The Ginocchio Restaurant, East Texas Office Supply, Central Perks, Red Poppy Hair Salon, and the T & P Railway Museum, located at the Marshall Depot.

The final petition from our region was presented via mail to the President of Amtrak, Chairman of the Board of Amtrak, as well as to various members of the Texas Congressional delegation.

In the ensuing months, through a continued collaborative effort by rail advocates nationwide concerning the 15 affected cities and related routes, advocates were able to convince Congress to provide the directive to Amtrak to restore the CSR positions in all 15 cities, including Marshall.

 Dr. Bill Pollard, President of the Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization (TEMPO) who also served for nearly 20 years as volunteer Local Revenue Manager for the Texas Eagle, underscored the importance of the CSR staffing to the safety of Amtrak stations.

“Due to their knowledge, experience, and recurrent training,” Dr. Pollard shared, “the Customer Service Representatives provide services to ensure safe entraining and de-training of passengers, safety on the platform, assistance to persons with disabilities and/or special needs, assistance with luggage, and other important services.  They are often the ‘face of Amtrak’ and are the initial or primary contact for the traveling public to access Amtrak’s important transportation services.”

Ms. Anderson shared that the Marshall Depot Board looks forward to sharing additional information as things progress regarding this positive news regarding the restoration of the Amtrak staffing.

She shared: “We can’t underscore enough how fortunate we are to be an Amtrak-served community and the important economic, transportation, and quality of life benefits that Amtrak and the Marshall Depot provide our community and region. We’re also thankful to be a part of  such a strong local, regional, and national network of grassroots advocates in support of passenger rail. Plus, in this uncertain time of the pandemic, we’re fortunate that two jobs are being added to the Marshall economy.”

Cathy Wright added: “On behalf of all the members of the Marshall Depot Board, we wish to thank everyone in our community and region for their support of Amtrak and the Marshall Depot.”

GIVE US YOUR FEEDBACK.  CLICK ON “COMMENT” TO TELL US WHAT YOU THINK or use one of the alternative methods for providing feedback.

click here to CLOSE THIS PAGE