Saturday, March 28, 2020

Band Members' Back Stories: Bob

In high school I was a nerd. Probably no surprise. Other common terms for me were geek, spaz and jerk. I couldn’t get a date, and had to take my cousin to my senior prom. What an embarrassment.

When I got to the conservatory, I was a virgin. Before leaving home, my father sat me down and told me to lose the pocket protector, change the frames on my glasses, and try to actually talk to girls rather than grunting in their direction. He also went through my wardrobe and told me to get some colors other than black and blue. I don’t know why; it makes it easy to get dressed in the morning. He said if, the next time he saw me, I was still a virgin, he’d take me to a legal whorehouse in Nevada and fix that. God, how embarrassing.

Anyway, I got to the conservatory and found out that musicians are different. Like from another planet different. We don’t care what you look like, how much money you have, how you dress, what your skin color is, or anything else. We care if you can make music. I was a voice major, but also played a variety of instruments. For example, I played piano in the jazz band. A girl who played alto sax approached me and said she’d trade lessons in alto sax for piano lessons.

I was drooling and couldn’t look at her, let alone say anything. Finally, she put her finger under my chin and raised my face so I had to look at her. “I’m just a girl, no different from you except I’ve got indoor plumbing. I haven’t eaten anybody since” she looked at her watch, and I couldn’t help laughing. We got to talking. She was a senior who was having trouble with piano, although she played clarinet, oboe and a couple of other woodwinds. She was about as plain-looking as I was, meaning she was the most beautiful girl who had ever spoken to me first. I was in love. At least I was in something.

We had a building with a lot of practice rooms, so we would meet there two or three times a week for an alto sax lesson and a piano lesson. After a few weeks she kissed me on my mouth, and I didn’t know what to do. So, we scheduled kissing lessons, too. Wasn’t long before she started leaving the saxophone at home and I stopped touching the piano in the practice room. We both stayed on campus during the Thanksgiving break, and she invited me to her dorm room for a final exam.

She said I passed with flying colors. I don’t know if that’s true, but it doesn’t matter. She was kind, she was beautiful – at least to me, and that’s all that mattered – and she was very helpful. Accent on the very. After that first time we only had sex maybe once a month, otherwise we went back to music lessons. She introduced me to some other girls, and eventually I caught on that she wanted to disvirginate me, or whatever the word is, and then set me free.

Her name was Patty something – funny that I don’t remember her last name – and I still think of her as the second-most wonderful woman in the world. She invited me to her wedding right after graduation, and I went. The second semester of my freshman year six of us comprised the frat pledge class, and remained tight thereafter. At her wedding I saw most of my pledge class, and half the fraternity. Not one of us said a word.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Major Rewrite

Did You Ever See Allegro? Is back from beta reading, and I’m in a major re-write. One of the beta readers pointed out a fatal flaw throughout the first two-thirds of the book, and correcting it is going to hurt. I will wind up shortening the book from 300-plus pages to about 250, but it will be a far better book.

Hope to have it out by the end of April.Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

COVID -19, a Corona Virus

COD-19 is a corona virus, one of three types of common cold viruses. That’s it, a variant of the common cold, not something to strike fear into one’s heart. There are those who should be concerned: the elderly with heart, lung and/or kidney problems. Otherwise, it’s an inconvenience.

What stands out about this virus is that it is very contagious, and we are not yet certain if we know all possible means of transmission. We know that minuscule droplets expelled during coughing or sneezing can spread the disease. We know that on some surfaces the virus can remain a risk for up to four or more hours. We won’t know enough to make definitive statements for at least a year about how the virus spreads.

The disease is not particularly dangerous. It appears that many people, perhaps most people, who contract the disease will display no symptoms. Right now, with inadequate information, it appears that fatality rates will not exceed three percent of all who contract the disease, and may be as low as one percent, conceivably less. Influenza has a fatality rate of 0.1%, but is a concern because each year many tens of millions of people in the U.S. and across the world catch the flu.

My back-of-the-envelope math says the number of people with the virus will double every six months or more. Today, there are 100,000 cases diagnosed worldwide. By September 2020 that could be 200,000, and by March 2021 perhaps 400,000. At that rate there will be a million cases around the world in 2022, and a billion in 2025. That presumes that no effective vaccine can be developed in that time. Again, it’s my own back-of-the-envelope math, but I see an effective vaccine coming in 18-24 months. At that point it’s a logistics issue.

Some young, healthy people will die from the disease, but that always happens. We don’t know why, and those cases are outliers. If you’re under sixty and have no existing heart, lung or kidney conditions, you might be good for another sixty years.