Hello and welcome to the May 2020 issue of Aphelion!
Since so many of us have been
spending more time at home
that we have in the past, Curtis has added more long fiction than we
feature. We’ll make more adjustments like that as we go forward. So,
This is also the 250th issue of Aphelion.
We’re all having to make adjustments
as we deal with the
virus. Old habits are no longer useful. New habits, changes to routine,
needed to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible. Let me tell
wearing a mask into a store sure feels weird. It’s got a real “Billy
vibe to it, LOL! Now, I’m used to masks and gloves for my job at the
but out in public? I know it’s necessary, but I don’t feel at all
with it yet. This virus threat is going to be with us for quite a while
So buckle up—we’re
in for a bumpy ride.
One of the things my wife and I have
been doing is to plant
a little garden out back. And I do mean little! Two four by four-foot
garden beds, a plastic tub the size of a bushel basket, and old wading
had holes in it already, and various flower pots. I put out four tomato
and three pepper plants this morning. We’ve got seeds for leaf-lettuce,
spinach, mustard greens, carrots, several herbs, onions, and so on.
got seeds for various flowers to put out front of the house, too.
Another thing is that we’ve been
doing a lot of group-online
activities. Her church has online services now, I’ve become part of an
group video-chat with friends from the convention circuit, and there
least three online conventions on Facebook that I’ve been checking out.
We’ve been doing a
lot of grocery shopping
online for pick-up at the store too, but we were early adopters for
that so it
wasn’t really a big change. Our “retail therapy” has declined, however—since
our usual shopping patterns have had to be re-written. One thing we
is going to lots of different thrift stores and bargain outlets just to
of the house. We’re looking forward to being able to do that again once
virus becomes less of a threat. That may take a while—this
thing mutates quickly, so
I’m not expecting much success on the medical front any time soon. Yet
thing is that we’ve opted for mail-in ballots for voting in any
elections. That’s been something we felt necessary to do. Voting is
There have been adjustments made at
the factory where I
work, as well. Everyone will be issued washable masks that we’ll be
wear at all times—except when
we go on break to eat, of course. We already
have to wear safety glasses, steel-toe shoes, hardhats, and many
types of gloves. So one more item of Personal Protective Equipment
won’t be all
that extra. The factory has long had N95 masks available because of the
from the insulation we make. But since the virus outbreak, those have
difficult to resupply. It’s hard to believe that for forty years I’ve
the habit of using one of those and then just throwing it away at the
the workday. But healthcare workers need them more than we do, so the
normal has given way to the new normal, and everyone is learning new
doing the old jobs. Personally, I’m thankful for all the years of OSHA
and safety training I’ve had. The Blood-borne Pathogens training has
to be especially useful during the present emergency. The Confined
training too, but to a lesser extent. I and my co-workers have had an
time adjusting to the “PPE-in-public” aspect of today’s trying times.
many, many people who work in an industrial setting.
One thing that I wish I had taken up
when I was younger is
language. My wife has an advantage there because she grew up with
hearing-impaired grandparents when she was a child in England. Now,
everyone trying to cope with wearing masks, we’ve all become slightly
impaired.” Muffled voices are common now. Perhaps this will become
will be taught in the future. Useful adaptations to difficult
will slowly become more common. At least, that is something to be hoped
Work from Home may become a bigger
part of the New Normal.
Home-schooling may as well. We’ll have to adopt and adapt to new social
for quite a while. What will last and what will fade away has yet to be
But that’s what humans do. We adapt. We adapt quite well indeed. That
is one of
our greatest strengths.
One of our weaknesses is that we are
a very social species.
That’s one of the biggest reasons this virus is so dangerous. We want
a die-hard introvert like myself searches for human contact of one kind
another. There is a basic human need to belong to a “tribe,” for want
better word. That’s why we group together in church congregations, at
conventions, cultivate friends, fall in love, create families both
of blood, and create so many different kinds of social activities. This
may be stronger or weaker in individuals—that’s
just human nature to be so
different even while we are so similar. Diversity in social temperament
normal for us. Diversity is normal for us. Weirdly enough, we also have
impulse for conformity. We’re complicated that way, LOL!
So, let us come together in our
individual ways and
celebrate the tribe called humans. Our individual strengths and
introvert and extrovert, socially distant or socially close, and
no matter what our differences may be, our similarities are also there.
is an island, complete and isolated unto themselves. In one way or
are all tribal at heart. Let the tribes of humankind come together—nothing
can stand in our way, no matter how dire the threat we face.
Now, in the spirit of our 250th
issue, it might
be a hoot to look back at the very first issue of Aphelion and see just
we’ve come since 1997. Without further ado, here is a link to our very
appearance online: January 27th, 1997: Our
very first issue!
Title: Centaurus A
Photo Credit: ESO/WFI
(Optical); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimetre);
NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)