March 22, 2020
I'm sorry I haven't posted recently, but the world around us has sure been unsettling. I also teach at the University of Northern Iowa, and we have been busy night and day getting everything ready for our students to complete their coursework online for the rest of this semester, this summer, and if necessary, next fall as well. Just telling instructors and students to "go online" is one thing, but the reality of the situation is still another. Through this crisis many of us have learned that our students don't have their own computers and other electronic devices -- that they rely on the technology here on campus to do their work. In plain-English, this means not all students can continue their work online because they do not currently have the means to do so. Our students have all been instructed to go back to their homes for at least the remainder of this term, but many do not have Internet at home or electronic devices there. In addition, many faculty members have never delivered instruction by way of the Internet before, so there is a steep learning curve on this end as well. Most will likely end up using Zoom, Skype, Panopto, or other visual means of interacting with students and others, but this will be a challenge if many do not have access to the Internet or appropriate devices. In short, this is going to take all of us working together for this to work. I also urge everyone, wherever you are, to be kind, understanding, patient as everything in our daily lives changes.
Right now, we must all concentrate on keeping our health. The virus is continuing to spread at alarming rates, so many cities, and even states, have instituted "stay at home" policies to try to stop the exposure. My mom, who is in her 80's, lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and where she lives there has a "stay at home" order that goes into place today and will last a minimum of thirty days. Other places are following suit. That is a long time to be isolated, but it is what is needed right now. We haven't gone to those measures yet here in northern Iowa, but I could see that happening soon here as well.
I know many sites on the Internet have suggested that people read while isolated to help keep busy. For many, reading will help fill a small part of the void in daily lives caused by the "stay at home" mandates. I hope reading does turn out to be a nice way of relaxing for everyone. My new book, Lt. Elsie Ott's Top Secret Mission, was "officially" released two weeks ago, but because of what is going on, all of my book readings and events have been postponed indefinitely. That's the way it should be because the last thing we need is groups getting together right now. However, it is available in e-book format for those who would like to get it from your favorite book e-tailer. I wrote the book to have a "cliffhanger" at the end of every chapter, so I hope it provides good entertainment for everyone during this very difficult time. I also did a podcast about the book on Veterans Radio. If you go to the Veterans Radio website, you can click on a link there to hear the discussion. I think you will enjoy listening to this.
At the same time, my last book, Plague in Paradise: The Black Death in Los Angeles, 1924, is currently being read my many because the events surrounding the Plague outbreak in 1924 is so, so similar to what is taking place with the Corona Virus right now. If you would like to see how health and government officials dealt with a deadly outbreak in the past, you might want to read this book as well. It is a literary nonfiction account, so the story will take you behind-the-scenes to see exactly what happened to everyone -- those who were ill, those who governed the area, and the medical professionals who put themselves at great risk to help stop the spread of the disease. We learned a great deal from the 1924 outbreak, and much of that knowledge is being used right now to fight the spread of the virus. I'll attach a picture of the book cover for you to see.
I wish all of you good health. Take care -- and please stay well! I'll try to be better about posting once we get organized here.