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Page #11

Fall 2008

During the fall I visited twice more. These sessions became a sort of "Epidemiology/Virology for Dummies" training. Slowly MA tried to bring my knowledge level up a notch or two.

We spent quite a bit of time on Ebola (her specialty). Using Ebola and it's history she explained how important viral recombination can be in a major pandemic.

January 2009

I spent the winter learning about sialic acid, neuraminidase, Mannose-binding lectin and viral mutation. It was not something that I was particularly good at. But bless her heart MA allowed me to slowly absorb a bit of the background I would need to understand her thesis. For example one cold Saturday afternoon she walked me through a series of lessons on viral glycoproteins. Glycosylation can be an important factor in virulence. Not a point I would soon forget in the coming months.

I was beginning to understand the strange language she spoke.

I did not know that April would change my chalkboard to a real world lesson and that she had been preparing me for events that were still yet to come.

Early Summer 2009

The H1N1 pandemic was building up steam. The outbreak was highly contagious but, on balance, only mildly lethal. However, the fatalities fell mostly within two subsets:

1. Young and healthy
2. Or ill.

As it rolled south, there was a sense of dread. Just a little too close to the 1918 paradigm for most folks.

I had taken an apartment in Carson and felt ready to write online of my long strange trip under the tutelage of Mother Abigail. There really wasn’t that much more to consider - I understood, as best as a layman can, her thesis and vision.

But knowing and believing is a long step from creating. I am a science writer not a futurist.

Facts are my friends and the form and structure of this story mostly eluded me – how to tell this tale seemed far more formidable than the theme. The theme was burned into my heart and mind.

So I went up to the Lake again. MA, I asked, “How in the world do I write this story?”
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