Take a look at this short video, shot by drone, of my company’s new building. It’s a cool building in a great location!
And I can say that the views from the gym do make the workouts just a bit better.
Well, almost. As you can imagine getting everything up and running and in the right places in such a big place can take a bit of time. But we’re mostly up and running and what a cool place it is! Each floor has a color and my floor is orange. You can click on a picture to enlarge it.
We have moved from cubicles with high walls to benched seating. Some people are not happy about that, but we’ve been told we’ll get used to it and love it. I’m keeping an open mind.
The views from every side of the building are fantastic. All the outer walls are nothing but glass. It’s vertigo inducing when you stand right next to the glass and look straight down!
We have a state of the art gym on the 18th floor. It has everything! There are spin bikes, weight machines, free weights, treadmills, ellipticals, a yoga room and more. There are separate showers and dressing rooms for men and women.
And in case you’re wondering, Bruce seems to love his new spot on my desk.
I’m sure before too long the newness will have worn off and everything will be old hat, but for the time being I can’t stop looking. I keep wandering to different floors to check everything out. I love our new building, mostly because it is so open and airy! Has anybody else worked in a benching or open seating environment? If so, how did you like it? Let me know in the comments.
There is much good news about Ebola and Dallas. First, some four dozen people who were in quarantine after having contact with Thomas Eric Duncan while he was ill are now through the quarantine period and have been cleared as being Ebola free. This number includes the four family members who lived with him for three or four days before he was hospitalized and were in the contaminated apartment for a couple of days after. From what I’ve read, it is a small apartment and was pretty harrowing before they were moved. And yet not one of them got sick. This should calm a lot of fears about how easy it is to catch Ebola, which is not very. Or at least it should, but listening to some of the people around here, who I thought were intelligent, well educated adults, I have some doubts about that. Sigh. Seriously people. Chill. Out.
The two nurses who were treating Mr. Duncan while he was most contagious and contracted Ebola have been moved to other hospitals with the capabilities to handle Ebola without further infecting healthcare workers. So there are no active cases of Ebola in Dallas at this time. There are 120 others being monitored, mostly those who also treated Mr. Duncan and the two nurses who are being monitored. Quarantines for that group will go as long as to November 7. I have no idea if it is a good sign that no one else has become symptomatic, but I choose to believe it is. People are not dropping like flies, even after treating someone ill with Ebola while protocols were not being followed. Again, Ebola is not that easy to catch.
The people who have been cleared, including Mr. Duncan’s family members, have zero chance of carrying the Ebola virus and need the community’s support and compassion, not fear and mistreatment. It is my hope that the Dallas community will rise to the occasion and welcome them back with open arms. I would hope that the hysterical levels of fear being seen in other communities, such as the school in Maine who put a teacher on 21 days leave (it better be paid!) because she was in Dallas at a conference 10 miles from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, or a school in Ohio closing because a student was on an airplane with one of the nurses who later became ill will not be the norm for the people who have been cleared here in Dallas. I hope we can show the country and the world how to compassionately and humanely treat people who have been through such a harrowing experience and not treat them like lepers.
November 7th is eighteen days from now. If no one else becomes ill, Dallas will be completely Ebola free. If someone else does become ill, their contacts will have a 21 day period of quarantine. But, as is becoming increasingly clear, Dallas nor the United States has an outbreak or epidemic of Ebola. Stop watching and listening to the fear-mongering news shows trying to get ratings and the fear-mongering politicians trying to score political points. Below are two links to information about Ebola from the CDC and Dallas County Health and Human Services. Despite all of the idiots out there squalling that the government is lying to you about Ebola, these ARE good sources of information.
Today is an absolutely beautiful day here in Dallas. It is sunny and 80º. In fact we’ve had beautiful weather all month. That may have played into why The State Fair of Texas brought in $41 million in tickets sales, breaking the previous record of $33 million. Hmmm. Seems like most of the people of Dallas and it’s visitors have not been taken in by the fear-mongering after all. Good on you, Dallas!
A second nurse who treated Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for Ebola. I’ve been being stupid again and reading comments on various news forums and Facebook and the amount of panic, fear-mongering and outright stupidity is staggering. And the finger pointing in all the wrong directions is mind-boggling. I did find this meme which cracked me up:
So, who’s fault is it? Because as much as some people detest the man for their, of course, (snicker) non-racist beliefs of birtherism, socialism and any other -ism they throw at him and hope it sticks, this is not President Obama’s fault. And it wouldn’t matter if there were a Republican president right now, this is not one man’s fault. Whose fault it is cannot be pinned to one or even a couple of people. Believe me, there is lots and lots of fault to go around and there are a whole lot of people in this country who see part of the problem in the mirror every day but prefer to blame the President.
Let’s start with the state of Texas. How could a state be at fault? Well in case you hadn’t heard, Texas politics are deeply red (conservative). There are a whole lot of progressives in Texas working to change that and change will come, but not soon enough in this case. Texas is a “right to work” state. A conservative euphemism for union-busting, pro-corporation policies. What it means in the real world is take this job as is, or leave it. Speak out about problems or issues or low pay or hazardous working conditions and we can fire you with impunity. And you have absolutely no recourse to appeal. It breeds environments where all kinds of problems can occur. Remember that huge explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, TX that leveled half the town? Do you think the people that worked there didn’t know there were problems? Of course they did. But you’ve got to feed your family and keep a roof over their heads, so better to keep your mouth shut and keep your job. Hospitals are no different. This kind of policy breeds workplace cultures that punish whistleblowers and allows the companies behind them to make ever more profits. And hospitals in this country are for-profit ventures. More on that later. It is now coming to light that the nurses didn’t have the protective gear they needed, in fact they were told by hospital ADMINISTRATORS that face masks were unnecessary. Hospital ADMINISTRATORS, you know, the folks who balance the budget (I mean make sure there’s a tidy profit) told nurses they didn’t need protective masks to keep them safe from Ebola. Not to mention that there apparently was a shortage of needed gear in the first place. I mean, why keep a surplus of gear that would keep your staff safe in an emergency situation because, profits! [ETA: Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital stated in a press conference this morning that all CDC protocols were followed and that all protective gear was available for nurse’s use.] And let’s discuss the fact that Mr. Duncan was sent home with antibiotics the first time he went to the hospital. The hospital has been hemming and hawing, at first blaming Mr. Duncan for not telling them he was from Africa, then admitting they knew he was from Africa but blaming a nurse for not telling the doctor, then admitting a doctor knew but their computer system messed up etc. The fact is he was an uninsured black man in a deeply conservative southern state. If you haven’t figured out what I mean by that, I’ll point it out for you. He was black. Racism is still rampant in this country despite what the very people who are the most racist want you to believe. You know, the ones who start a racist rant by stating, “I’m not racist, but…” And he was uninsured, meaning it was unlikely the for-profit hospital would get paid. So despite the fact that they all knew where he was from and that his symptoms were consistent with Ebola they sent him home. He just wasn’t good for the hospital’s bottom line. And now we’re learning that even after he came back the second time and in spite of a head nurse’s increasing outrage, hospital ADMINISTRATORS didn’t want to put him in isolation. Bad for the bottom line, because that stuff’s expensive. It is the very policies that this state endorses and embraces that allow that kind of outrageous practices in a hospital. And if you vote for the politicians who endorse these kinds of policies, you are part of the problem of Ebola spreading in Texas.
Now would be a good time to talk about the healthcare system in this country. You know, the one conservatives crow about being the best in world. Well, maybe it is for the wealthy and a bit better for those with insurance. But even with insurance, it is really easy to be bankrupted by a bad accident or illness. The Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare (or according to conservatives the single most horrific law ever enacted in the history of everything) has made insurance affordable and available to more people, keeps insurers from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions, keeps insurers from dropping people from the insurance when they get sick, and prevents insurers from putting caps on the amount of insurance a sick person can get. All of those are good starts in the right direction. The other big part of the ACA is the expansion of Medicaid to a lot more people. All the states have to do is accept money from the federal government to expand Medicaid in their states. Of course Texas being red (conservative) threw a hissy fit about taking more money from that (insert insult of choice here) in the White House and turned down that money leaving many thousands of people here still without insurance that otherwise would have qualified. Would Medicaid have covered Mr. Duncan since he was a visitor from another country? No, but if hospitals here were getting Medicaid for the uninsured they by law have to at least make an attempt at treating in the ER it would cut down on their costs and make it less likely they’d turn away a foreign national without insurance. At least it should. But there’s that bottom line to consider, so maybe not. And here’s the thing, because our hospital system in this country is for-profit, not for doing the morally right thing of treating any person with any illness, even people with insurance are screwed on a regular basis by doctors and hospitals who exploit the system to line their own pockets. So when you have a system that puts profits ahead of patient care, that put administrators in charge of treatments and mix that with an uninsured, minority patient it’s a recipe for disaster. And if you are one of those people who believe if all those low-income people would just quit being so lazy and work harder at those minimum wage jobs they could all just magically get better paying jobs that don’t exist and get their own insurance then you are part of the problem of Ebola spreading in Texas.
Now, lets move on to the CDC (Center for Disease Control). The CDC has been a presence in the media since Mr. Duncan was diagnosed and have been doing their job of attempting to keep the populace calm. And that is an important job. Have you ever seen a herd of animals stampeding? Have you ever seen a large group of panicking humans? About the same. Of course, most people in the comments I’ve been reading think the CDC is just lying to them about how hard it is to spread Ebola and everyone is at risk!!!! But seriously people. Mr. Duncan’s family members, who spent days with him while he was sick with symptoms and who then spent more days in the contaminated apartment before they were moved have not gotten sick and are past the most likely timeframe for getting sick. They still have a few days of quarantine left, but each day that passes they have less likely a chance of getting it. The two people who have contracted it had daily extensive contact with Mr. Duncan when he was the most ill and contagious. They clearly did not have the resources or training to be safe and that is partially on the CDC and partially on the hospital, but to believe the CDC is lying about how easy it is to get Ebola is to not understand the science. Oh wait, conservatives and science don’t mix. The CDC has also sent personnel to help the hospital and city of Dallas with their response. Since the diagnoses of the 2nd nurse to have contracted Ebola, they have admitted they should have sent a much larger presence to Texas to help. Well, how in the world can we trust the CDC when they would screw up so badly? Well, lets talk funding. Remember the sequester? You know, when conservatives held the government hostage, shut it down unless it got draconian austerity measures passed? And President Obama relented thinking he could manage to work with Republicans and then sequestration went into effect because of course Republicans weren’t going to work with the (insert insult of choice here) in the White House. Well guess which budget got huge cuts? You guessed it, the CDC (along with everything else except the military). And we’re not just talking about the resources to send personnel to Texas. The CDC goes to other countries to help them with outbreaks that occur. To keep them from spreading. So that they don’t spread to this country. The best way to keep diseases like Ebola from spreading to this country is to keep them from spreading in other countries. But if the CDC doesn’t have the resources to help do that, it is inevitable that something will start to spiral out of control and it will hit here. Which is what has happened with Ebola. And let’s not forget everyone’s favorite armchair solution: ban all flights into this country from Africa. IT WILL NOT WORK FOLKS. You ban all flights from certain African countries, people who need to get here will just fly into another country and then fly here. The only way to would be to stop ALL flights into this country. Do you think the US economy not to mention world economy could handle that? The other thing I’ve heard from the panicked masses is to close the borders of the countries who have people infected by Ebola. OK. Whose going to close the borders of 3 or 4 large countries? Our military? If that were even possible, which it is not, that would put thousands and thousands of American servicemen in contact with Ebola. If President Obama ordered American troops into 4 countries to forcibly try and control their borders, then I might think he’s as awful as conservatives believe. And it wouldn’t work. There would be no way to completely stop people from coming or going across borders as we here in border states understand. You’d think all the panicked conservatives would get it too since they constantly whinge about our porous borders. The best way to stop the current outbreak is to make sure there are enough resources and personnel both in the countries with outbreaks and here at home and that will mean spending money. Congress should immediately reinstate previous budgets and add as much more as is needed. But they won’t. And they’ll blame Obama and so will all the other conservatives out there who refuse to understand how the real world works.
So, OH MY GOD, EBOLA!! WHAT SHOULD WE DO!! WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!! WE HAVE TO BLAME SOMEBODY!!! Well, I’m glad you asked. Here’s what to do. First, calm the f*ck down. If you want to worry about something, worry about how 88 people A DAY die from gun violence in this country. I will repeat that. 88 people A DAY die from gun violence in this country. That is nearly 31,000 people a year. And the conservative wing nuts are just fine with that because “my right to own as many and every kind of gun there is with no restrictions trumps your right to be alive.” You want to be furious and up in arms about something? How about that? Next, how about the fact…no wait. Never mind. If you truly care about what is going on in the world and wish to stay informed you either already educate yourself or are capable of looking up and confirming everything I’ve stated in this piece. If you want to stay true to your ideology, your fear, your hatred of those who are different or “other”, if you want to believe that you are better than anyone else for whatever reason, then nothing I say here will change your mind. You won’t get that opinion is not equal to fact, that ideology is not equal to science, that your worldview is not the end all and be all. You’ll just stay fearful and angry and continue to vote for and support policies that seek to exclude and denigrate and keep downtrodden those “others”. The good news is that progressive ideals have ALWAYS won in the end. People who believe in the sanctity of ALL life, not just those of unborn fetuses, people who believe resources are there for ALL people no matter their circumstances, people who believe war-mongering is not the way to a peaceful world, people who believe science can advance our civilization and make life better for EVERYONE, those people and their ideals will prevail. So I will continue to stay optimistic that despite mistakes being made, despite a lack of resources, despite the greed and opportunism of so many in this country, this outbreak (if it can really be called that at this point) will be contained as will the real one in Africa. Lessons will be learned that will help doctors and scientists deal with the next one. And life will go on.
A predator stalks the city
unseen and unseeable
unheard and unhearable
only making itself felt
through the feverish heat
caused by viral attacks
of chuckling and muttering hyena pundits
and buzzing, circling vulture helicopters
a populace convinced they are next to die
behaving like meerkats popping up and down
imagining blood seeping, leaking, spraying
frantic to understand
yet hiding their heads in the ground
as the predator looms large
given free reign to roam
because rumor is easier than truth
paranoia more comforting than trust
hysteria more interesting than calm
the viral predator
takes more and more victims
and even more refuse to inoculate
against the rising threat
because there cannot be trust
in the lion that governs
and says all is safe
itself sure to chew on your bones
if you let it get close
so rumor, paranoia, hysteria
and the viral predator
FEAR burn through the city
One of the healthcare workers who had extensive contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for the virus. She and her family have asked for privacy so her name has not been released. According to the Dallas Morning News her infection with the virus is a result of a “breach of protocol” although they are not sure of the specifics of that breach at this time. Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is now diverting all ambulances to other hospitals [ETA: except for patients exhibiting signs of Ebola] because of staffing issues. All of the staff who had contact with Mr. Duncan were self monitoring, but now that one of them has contracted the virus, they will be monitored twice daily by the CDC. The hospital states that all patients currently receiving care at the hospital will still receive excellent care.
The nurse lived alone save for a pet so there doesn’t seem to be another large group of contacts that will have to be monitored. As of now authorities are saying there is only one other person who may have had contact while she was showing symptoms. The pet is still in the apartment, but plans are being made for its care. Her apartment will also be cleaned by a hazmat team. The City of Dallas has been knocking on doors, answering questions and leaving printed materials in the neighborhood of the infected nurse.
Of course the media has swarmed the neighborhood as well. Helicopters are now buzzing overhead taking lots of footage of new roofs and backyards. I feel sorry for the people who live in the neighborhood having their weekend disrupted by news trucks, vans, photographers and reporters as well as the helicopters. Although I’m sure some will be happy to give their two cents to the cameras.
During the press conference the doctor stated that they were prepared for this eventuality and that it wasn’t a shock that there was another case. They are actively working toward finding the specific breach in protocol to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The thing to remember is that these are human beings caring for other human beings and being human they get tired or make mistakes. It is a life or death mistake in the case of Ebola, but we must have compassion for them. These are the heroes who go in and take care of the ill, even with the risks, while the rest of us go about our lives.
The people under quarantine who had contact with the late Mr. Duncan still have 10 days remaining until they can be sure they will not contract Ebola. So far none of them are symptomatic. There is now another 21 day window for the person who had contact with this nurse and if there were any other protocol breaches it is possible that other healthcare workers could become infected. This isn’t over yet, but I still have faith in the city of Dallas, the CDC and our brave and dedicated healthcare workers to prevent a larger outbreak.
Some hilarious cartoons that fit in perfectly with my series Dallas vs. Ebola and my post Media and the Politics of Fear
The UT Dallas School of Arts and Humanities is showing a production of Tragedy: A Tragedy which I attended last night. The play is a comic satire written by Will Eno and directed by Thomas Riccio.
Will Eno is an American playwright based in Brooklyn, New York. His plays have been produced in New York City, Off-Broadway and by regional and European theaters. Tragedy: A Tragedy received its world premier in April 2001 at the Gate Theater in London. His other works include Thom Pain (based on nothing), The Flu Season, Middletown, and The Realistic Jones, which just completed its run on Broadway.
Thomas Riccio is a professor of performance at UTD, writer, director, and performance creator. He is Poo Pah Doo of Dead White Zombies, a Dallas-based performance group. Riccio works extensively in the area of indigenous performance, ritual, and shamanism, developing performance and/or fieldwork in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Russia, Alaska, Korea, China, Vientam, and the Republic of Sakha (Siberia), which declared him a “Cultural Hero”.
Tragedy: A Tragedy is a deeply relevant piece on the relentless vacuity and absurdity of the modern media. While this play was in rehearsals before the Ebola “outbreak” here in Dallas, media coverage of that incident is a perfect example of the banal hysteria over something that may be nothing that Will Eno satirizes.
The play is set in a newsroom with the news desk taking center stage. Both sides of the stage feature field reporters with large screens behind them showing their “locations”. They also utilize audience spaces off stage to the left, right and front for location reports. Part of the cast are actual cameramen who film the field reports which show on the large screen behind the news anchor and more crisply on a TV set into the wall to the anchor’s left. It is an effective use of technology in not only creating a realistic news room and remote locations, but also making the audience more visibly aware of the always present camera man who we rarely see or hear, but who is instead a silent witness to the inanities, and the portal through which those inanities make it into our living rooms.
This is not a play that you can watch and turn off your brain. In other words, it’s not mindless entertainment. You will have to pay attention to not only keep up with, but understand what is (or isn’t) unfolding in front of you. Satire is not easy to pull off and I believe there are some people in the world who just don’t have the imagination to understand it. Everything is literal to them. Those people will not understand this play. Will Eno gets satire right in his writing and I found the dialogue to be fun and interesting and thought provoking. Acting satire may be even harder than writing it. I’m not positive on that point as I’m not an actor, but it makes sense intuitively. The cast is a mix of student actors and experienced actors and teachers and it shows. Satire, especially dark satire, can be very funny, making us laugh in the midst of our discomfort and becoming ever more hilarious the darker it gets. This was very uneven in the performances, with the less experienced actors not quite getting across the humor of the spiraling out of control darkness. However, there were a couple of standouts in the performances and all of my laugh out loud moments came from them.
Brad Hennigan played Frank in the Studio, or the anchor man. (Full disclosure, Brad is my brother). Last year Brad directed UT Dallas’ production of Book of Days. He is an adjunct professor of theatre for the Art and Performance Program and is a co-founder of the critically-acclaimed experimental group Dead White Zombies. He has worked locally at the Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Shakespeare Festival and Deep Ellum Theater Garage; and in Los Angeles at Sacred Fools Theatre and Attic Theatre. Brad really nailed the news anchor persona. Vain, shallow and self-importantly and blandly nattering on and on without really saying anything, uninterested in the location reporters until it was time to throw to one of them. His then self-important and frantically fearful on-air implosion as the tragedy unfolds and he has no one left to natter at, or natter back to him, is one of the funniest performances of the play.
Michael Cleveland plays Michael, Legal Advisor, the ever present “legal expert” on any news show. Michael is a graduate student in Arts and Technology. He co-runs the IB theater program in the School of Performing Arts at Garland High School. He is also an associate artist with Dead White Zombies. Michael the reporter roamed to different locations throughout the play, unlike the other two field reporters who stayed at one location. It was Michael’s responsibility to read statements from the Governor during the night but rather than reading them he became the persona of the Governor during his statements, to good effect, both while the Governor was still governing and as he succumbed to the crisis of night. Michael, being the legal expert began the play as buttoned up as you might imagine a legal expert to be and his unraveling is the most extreme of all the characters. The more tightly wound, the more extreme the unraveling.
The other actors were not terrible, just as I said not as able to bring out the humor in their dialogue the darker it got. I’m not sure if this is a failure of direction, lack of talent or probably more likely a lack of life experience, but it does not make the play unwatchable and this is a production within a university theater department which is a teaching environment.
There were no technology glitches that were noticeable and no noticeable moments of actors forgetting their lines. Every actor had long monologues of word twisting, mind-bending, even weird dialogue and I’m always amazed at their ability to memorize it. Satire should should be short, sweet and on point and this play delivers with a brisk 75 minute run time. The play finishes it’s run tomorrow night (Saturday, October 11) so there are only two more performances. If you are looking for something interesting, different and thought-provoking to do this weekend, Tragedy: A Tragedy is worth checking out.
 Tragedy: A Tragedy playbill
The Dallas Morning News reports that Thomas Eric Duncan succumbed to Ebola this morning. He died just before 8:00 am. He is no longer suffering but I am sad for his family and send them my thoughts and wishes for peace and much love and support during this difficult time.
The news helicopters are buzzing the hospital again. They remind me of vultures. I ask again, what do they think they’re going to see? They could just show the hours of previous footage of rooftops and parking lots. No one would know the difference. What a waste of resources. I wonder how much fuel those choppers use, hovering for hours at a time? I’m grateful to the city of Dallas for moving Mr. Duncan’s family to an undisclosed location so that they can grieve in private.
My hope is that no one else in the family becomes ill with Ebola. And just as importantly, that the combined resources of the wealthy nations on this planet can come together and stop the outbreak in Africa so no more families anywhere have to endure this dreadful disease.
In my original post Dallas vs. Ebola I pointed out the panic I was noticing over the fact that Ebola was in Dallas, as well as my observation that I believed Dallas and it’s people are more than capable of handling the situation. In my next post Media and The Politics of Fear I pointed out the fear-mongering of much of the media and my absolute disgust with that. Well I’m happy to report that not all of the media is engaging in the insanity. Check out the below segment of the Colbert Report as Stephen Colbert, in his usual hilarious manner, mocks the fear-mongering media with about as much disgust as I’ve ever seen peek through his “persona”. You’ll have to scroll down mid-page in the article to find the clip: The Colbert Report clip
Next check out this segment of the Rachel Maddow show that shows the compassionate, measured response of the team here in Dallas as well as Ms. Maddow’s usual calm and measured demeanor. The Rachel Maddow show clip
If you are willing to dig a little, look past the mainstream media and be open-minded you can still find good reporting and truth in the media. It is a bit disconcerting that two satire shows, The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are my go to places for truth in the news. However, a study by Pew Research shows those two show’s viewers rank first in knowledge of national and international affairs while Fox News viewer rank last. That said, if you get all of your news from one or two sources you are probably not getting the full picture. Always, always, always, get as much information from as many sources as you can before you take anything you hear as gospel.