The Flu Pandemic


Many, many years ago my good friend (and fellow Flying Fish Sailor) Greg Henkel wrote a song about the 1918 Flu Pandemic that killed over 20 million people worldwide.

The Flu Pandemic song became one of our most popular performance pieces. Despite the grim subject matter, the song is often referred to as “a happy little ditty about death” and brings smiles and laughter to those who hear it.

The current swine flu outbreak has generated a lot of interest in the song and is driving a lot of traffic to the band web site.

The song is available on our Loch Ness Monster CD which is available @ or from us directly.

Interestingly enough, there is a live version of the song that was recorded at Rockefeller’s during Son Of Blarneyfest in 1996 that I almost forgot existed. It predates the Loch Ness Monster studio recording by several years.

You can listen to it here:

The Flu Pandemic

Copyright 1999 Topmast Production and the Flying Fish Sailors

Chorus: It was the Flu pandemic
And it swept the whole world wide
It caught soldiers and civilians
And they died, died, died!
Whether they’re lying in the trenches
Or lying in their beds
Twenty million of them got it
And they’re dead, dead, dead!

There was a soldier on the battleground in 1917
He turned there to his buddy with his face a ghastly green
He said “We made it both through Passchendaele, the Somme, and Flanders too
But now my number’s up my lad for I’ve gone and caught the flu”


Well a nurse was in the hospital when Tommy was brought in
When he sneezed she caught a face full that was flying in the wind
She wrote a letter home to England to tell them of her plight
But the letter never got there ’cause the postman too had died


From the meadow-lands of Somerset and o’er the bounding main
To the shores of old Americay they sung the same refrain
Mothers, fathers, uncles and aunts as well as the odd nephew
Brothers and sisters and bosses and lovers were all got by the flu


Well a farmer out in China watched his family dropping down
And a businessman in Cairo hit the street without a sound
And an eager little Bolshevik in old Sevastopol couldn’t keep up his grinnin’ at Lenin as Comrade Virus took its toll

Eye Exam

We went for our annual eye exams. Cynthia’s got a sizable floater due to detached vitreous which was diagnosed a few months ago. This was our first follow up since that discovery and she needed to be dilated so the doctor could have a look.

She’s fine, but probably stuck with the floater. At least the retina’s not detaching along with the vitreous.

We’re splurging for new glasses!

Ojo Rojo

I’m officially on vacation. We don’t fly out till Thursday, but it has begun. We felt it would be good to take a day before we left and tie up some loose ends so that’s what tomorrow is for.

We are in the final countdown and running through the go/no go sequence for launch before our flight on Thursday and we hit a minor snag.

Cynthia had noticed her eye turning very red Sunday evening. I assumed it to be a subconjunctival hemorrhage and probably not anything to worry about. Cynthia was not so sure.

On Monday it got a little worse and when we woke up this morning Cynthia informed me that it had gotten much worse and began to panic a bit. It was decided that she would go to the eye doctor as soon as his office opened and she would let him have a look.

I endeavored to stay positive and upbeat. Still, if there was a serious medical problem it would obviously put the trip we have been planning for the last 6 months in jeopardy.

I was sticking with my amateur diagnosis as Cynthia pursued the advice of someone who actually studied medicine. There was a tense moment when she called and said “I have good news and I have bad news.” I asked for the bad news and she told me that as bad as it looked now, it was going to look a lot worse over the next few weeks.

I asked for the good news and she confirmed that it was a subconjunctival hemorrhage and her doctor had said it wasn’t serious and that she should not worry and that she would be fine to travel.

Yay! Cynthia’s going to be ok!
Yay! The trip is still on!

The eye really doesn’t look that bad. She has to hold the eyelid open before you can really see the problem. The doctor says it’s normal for these things to grow as the eye heals so it may well spread over a larger part of the eye and become more noticeable.

On the plus side, Cynthia’s not in any pain and it’s not affecting her vision. She is worried it will show up in th the holiday photos. Several people, including my boss and Cynthia’s doctor, tried to reassure us by suggesting some photoshopping to clean up our vacation photos if what we are now affectionately calling Cynthia’s Eye Bubo showed up in any of them.

On a side note, spare yourself the squirmy discomfort of performing a Google image search on the term “subconjunctival hemorrhage” as the results are rather distressing.

Travelling Fuel

It feels good to have been at the Galway office today. I got to meet/see again many of my Irish co-workers.

It’s a good atmosphere there. We made plans for initial phase of the domain migration and we’re pushing that part through this evening.
We’ll see how it went when we get in tomorrow morning.

Two of the lads took me to a place called Shambo’s that features sandwiches served on unique Shamrock shaped focaccia or wholemeal breads.

It’s not a tourist place. This one was located in very industrial area and it was full of working class and professional type people obviously out on their lunch break.

That didn’t stop me from photographing my lunch before chowing down, though!

Click for the yummy goodness of full size

It was quite yummy!

After work today I decided it was time to have my official first Guinness in Ireland. I’d heard all the stories about how Guinness tastes soooooo much better in Ireland and I wanted to see for myself, especially since I am not all that fond of Guinness in the first place.

Owen, Niall and Paul all unanimously agreed that Murphy’s Pub was the place to go for this so I wandered down toward the river to find it.
It wasn’t much trouble and went in and had a seat at the bar and placed my order with the bartender.

And I, being the camera toting dufus I am, captured the momentous beer for posterity.

Click for full size image

Let me state for the record that it is absolutely true. This Guinness tasted fantastic! Smooth and not bitter like I recall my American experiences.

I see a few more pints in my immediate future….

I can see for miles and miles

Prior to turning 40, I was the only member of my family who did not wear glasses. Everyone else, mom, dad and my three brothers all had been wearing them since childhood.

It was a point of pride for me that I had not inherited this one particular genetic flaw.

After I turned 40 I began to notice that I could not see so well. At one point I remember having Cynthia read the bill to me at a restaurant because I simply could not make out the numbers. We agreed it was time to have an eye exam.

As it turns out, I have trouble with my far AND my near vision and have been prescribed corrective lenses to assist me in seeing things. Not just glasses, BIFOCALS! The official eye-wear of old people.

Fortunately corrective lens technology has advanced significantly over the years and the glasses I have don’t look all that bad. In fact, I kinda like them. And you don’t really realize how much your missing until you get your glasses. It’s much easier to read, I get fewer headaches and things are just clearer overall.

We go each year to get our eyes checked. I’ve only needed to change my prescription once since I started wearing glasses, so that’s pretty cool. Again this year there has been no change but I had an extra set of frames that I like a lot so I’m having my opthomotrist fit them with my current prescription and also adding the transition feature so I have a pair of sunglasses to wear.

Considerations practical and personal

It sets off a nerve every time I hear someone rant about the loss of personal liberties when it comes to something like a law requiring drivers to wear safety belts. There is a long running debate in this country as to whether driving is a right or a privilege. Arguments for either side are both passionate and compelling.

Regardless of which camp you fall into, to say that the government has no right to tell you to wear a seat belt is short sighted and naive as is the belief that not wearing your seat belt harms no one but the person who chooses not to buckle up.

From the Arizona DPS:

The cost of unbuckled drivers and passengers goes beyond those killed and the loss to their families. We all pay for those who don’t buckle up ““ in higher taxes, higher health care and higher insurance costs.

On average, inpatient hospital care costs for an unbelted crash victim are 50 percent higher than those for a belted crash victim. Society bears 85 percent of those costs, not the individuals involved. Every American pays about $580 a year toward the cost of crashes. If everyone buckled up, this figure would drop significantly.

By reaching the goal of 90 percent seat belt use, and 25 percent reduction in child fatalities could save $8.8 billion annually.

Those are some pretty amazing numbers.

While it may be a valid concern that government is whittling away at our personal liberties, I think that fighting over whether or not you should wear seat belts is a wasted effort. There are certainly bigger fish to fry and since seat belts save lives and have the potential to save us some money I feel the law is justified.

Besides, I know from personal experience that you simply cannot count on your fellow driver to “do the right thing”, not when death is on the line.

Case in point:

It’s circa 1987 and a younger, more naive Jay Lee is driving his brand new Honda CRX to Temple, TX to visit family for the holidays.

At this stage of my life I’m young, I’m stupid (more so than now, I believe) and rather cocky in that young, invincible, live forever woo-hoo kinda way. Still, I don’t like getting hassled by the man and I know full well that the Texas Highway Patrol is out in force on the holiday weekend looking for speeders, drunk drivers and GASP!, those who may be driving sans seat belt so I buckle up. Not because I believe in the safety it provides, not because I give a tinkers damn about health costs or insurance rates. I buckle up because I don’t want to get a ticket.

The Honda CRX is sporty two-seater and I am enjoying the drive as I wind my way north and west away from Houston. I’m not speeding or, if I am, it’s a few miles over the limit but nothing extreme. I have a healthy fear/respect of law enforcement and don’t really want to be pulled over in a small Texas town.

At that time I was dating a woman named Shari and she was riding in the passenger seat with me for holiday family visit. I recall at some point she didn’t have her seat belt on. Maybe we had pulled out of a gas station and she forgot or she had to get something from the behind the seat I don’t remember exactly. I do remember reminding her to buckle up, which she did.

Shortly afterward, I drove into a curve and there was some road work. I noticed the loose gravel sign and thought to decelerate when it became very obvious that we had already driven into the loose gravel. I could feel the rear end fish-tailing and I struggled to control the car, but to no avail. The car went into a spin and proceeded to go backward across the highway and off the road and flipped onto it’s roof.

I remember us both hanging there, upside down, firmly strapped in place and looking at each other as we marvelled at our predicament and realized we were both unhurt. Something I am sure would not be true had we not been wearing seat belts.

So I owe my current well being not to my ability to make a choice to protect myself from physical harm, but rather to my desire to obey the law and not pay a fine. And am I ever grateful for that law? You bet your sweet bippy I am!

On top of that we had no health insurance. Had we been injured the tax payers of this great nation would have footed the bill for our medical treatment.

So yea, it’s personal for me. Buckle up!

The mind is a terrible thing to taste

The following conversation between Cynthia and myself as we prepared to go to sleep last night is just one the billion reasons I love this woman:

Setup: We are in the early planning stages of our next European vacation

J: I found a way to fund our trip!
C: Does it involve the sale of organs or blood?
J: How did you know?!?
C: I know you, Jay….
J: I figure we each have a kidney to spare
C: I seem to recall you giving away a perfectly good gall bladder
J: Perfectly good?!? It was full of gall stones as you might recall
C: Well? caveat emptor I say
J: For sale, one slightly used gall bladder, may contain some gallstones
J: [feigning the voice of a third party] Hey! This gall bladder’s no good!
J: No refunds

[much laughter]

C: We’re not selling our organs, Jay
J: I know