While some may find practicing this new “social distancing” discipline due to the coronavirus uncomfortable, I have no such problems. But then again, I have been told for years by my critics that I’m distant at the least and socially awkward to boot. I actually prefer socially unrealistic and politically inflexible, but it is what it is.

Regardless, I have always preferred people other than family, especially folks I don’t know, to keep their distance. Preferably over an arm’s length away. Possibly the lingering effects of my early military training while serving in an environment where any gathering of Americans was automatically a target. Which made most of us “Nam” vets gun-shy of large gatherings and suspicious of close contact with strangers. And no, that ain’t PTSD.

To some degree, we should all be used to a modicum of self-confinement here in Cody Country, what with the winds and such during the winter. Although this last winter hasn’t been all that bad. Now, despite spring being here, those of us without jobs demanding our presence outside get to wait it out in our homes, due to the arrival of this outlaw virus.

One thing bothers me though. This virus erupted in China, reportedly out of nowhere. Or, as has been speculated, as the result of secret research the Chinese were doing trying to weaponize certain biological factors. Whatever. Our leaders are claiming it’s emergence on a world stage is a complete surprise, but back in November 2017, the Smithsonian Magazine published a story by journalist Melinda Liu stipulating China would be ground zero for a future virus pandemic.

Was nobody listening ? Is this an Orwellian conspiracy? Just what exactly aren’t our leaders telling us?

See what happens when I’m confined to quarters? My mind wanders away and tends to invent bad guys and disaster scenarios, but the November 2017 date for the original article by Liu is valid. Considering magazine lead times, most likely at least six months between when an article is submitted and when it’s published, this information was obviously available in late 2016 or very early in 2017. So who dropped the ball and why? In case you haven’t noticed, I just love a good conspiracy theory.

One of the bigger hardships this virus thing has brought to our household is a bit mundane. We actually have toilet paper, food and ammunition enough to defend our shores from the hordes, at least for a couple of weeks, but my laptop’s printer ceased working a few weeks back. I don’t know if it’s worn out, on strike or has the blamed virus itself. It just went dead and refused to copy even with new ink in it. Of course, the malfunction occurred at the same time the virus started making the news.

And yes, I realize that for modern, more up-to-date, computer savvy techno-oriented geeks, it’s probably a simple fix. Or just go out and buy another printer. Problem being, not only can’t do that at present, but I wouldn’t know how to introduce the software required to make it work with my laptop.

I’m not one of those techno-oriented computer geeks, having happily and mostly successfully resisted being dragged into the 20th century, let alone this 21st one. No thanks, don’t need the confusion, disrespect and rage that goes with these modern times. When the time comes and they sound the all-clear, I’ll emerge from my man-cave and find someone to fix the problem.

Until then, however, some things are going to remain a bit awkward. Like putting in for hunting tags. That’s coming up and since Sandi and I don’t do internet, usually we ask the lovely young lady down at Game and Fish to help with that. Hopefully, this disease will be just a bad memory by the time the deadline gets here. But you never know.

Unfortunately, my private correspondence has also suffered from the printer’s being down. There are several people I keep in touch with via snail mail and lacking a printer hobbles those efforts. True, I could hand-write letters, except that the arthritis in my hands destroys any semblance of legibility. Frank, since I know you read this column, now you know.

I’ll leave you folks with this. While driving up the lower Wood River a few days back, wife Sandi and I spotted a mountain bluebird sitting on a fence wire. A brilliantly colored little male. A sure sign of spring to go along with the robin that has been visiting our bird bath lately.

Speaking of birds, I was rudely awakened by a sound the other morning that sounded halfway between the strangled squawk of a stepped-on frog and the squeaking of a rusty gate hinge. It was worse than hearing fingernails scratching across a chalk board. The noise was repeated about every 10 seconds or so. Turned out to be an eastern blue jay perched in one of our trees by the feeders. It’s been here intermittently all winter, but this is the first time I’ve heard it squawking. Hope it’s the last time. The bird is welcome, the noise is not. As for unwelcome bird visitors, the starlings are back also.

As a last thought, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get out of the house and go fishing. God willing, that day’s not too far away.

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