Wednesday, February 2, 2011


[This is a post by Gabrielle]

Hey all, long time no see. Post. Whatever.

Josh and Jessica are still away. He called last night to let us know that their signals were getting weak and that they might lose contact. I decided that since I haven't been very active on the blog lately that I'd give you an update on what's been going on in the clinic and maybe a different perspective on how the people around here are dealing with losing Jack.

First--the clinic. A while back I talked about how we were looking for things to make it better. It's been a big task, finding and safely transporting equipment in the unpredictable and terrible weather we've had lately. The good news is, we've made big steps. There is now a fairly well stocked area of the clinic that houses an x-ray machine (digital, no old-school stuff here), several dialysis machines (along with a lot of supplies for them--we found an untouched dialysis clinic), enough materials to build a small but fully supplied operating room, and lots of other stuff.

The biggest problem was putting it all together without draining too much power from the grid here. We've got a pretty steady flow of patients for one thing or another, though thankfully the flood of them has tapered away over the last week. Keeping some of our equipment on and plugged in could mean the difference between life and death. So we had to work on a solution that wouldn't overtax the power.

As some of you might remember, one of the things that used to be made in this complex of factories was solar panels. Jack's has a lot of them hooked up, but the weaker sunlight in winter means less efficiency and less power. Not to mention that adding more of them, building the cases to hold them and running cable, etc, is pretty much impossible given the current weather conditions. We're running on the main power system right now, but we're still concerned that the breakers will blow if someone switches on a bank of lights elsewhere in the building. Remember that there is a machine shop and one or two presses working most of the time. That eats a lot of juice.

There are a few decent sized turbines left from the big spate of construction Jack's people went through last year, when they were stealing anything that could produce power. We talked to some of the engineers about setting up a wind turbine just for the clinic to take some of the load off of the main supply. They told us that the same problems with installing new solar panels would exist if we tried to build a new wind turbine.

That's a shame, because it's been windy as hell lately. We need the power, though...and someone came up with a pretty good idea: why not set up the core of the turbine indoors, in a frame, and make it person-powered? Exercise is good for people, especially during winter. We took that idea to the engineers, and they seemed to think that it would work. The guy I talked to went on about gear ratios and material stress. I tried to look interested, but my specialty is putting people together, not machines.

It's going to be a few days at least before we hear anything about that--they have to do all sorts of calculations before they can put anything together. That's fine with me, I don't want some big contraption coming apart while people are using it. A bunch of injured people would weaken us as a community, not to mention a stupid amount of extra work for me.

I have to admit, it has been strange seeing the natives of Jack's compound react to his death. Or, more accurately, not react to it. I saw something similar back at our own compound, but on a smaller scale and not as widespread. I get that people nowadays have to deal with grief quickly and then move on to the job at hand. We did that back home pretty well. The people here had their moment at Jack's funeral, and then nothing. No one talks about it. No one talks about him. It's as if by dying Jack became someone that never existed.

Most of my own people, the refugees from Kentucky and the folks we've gathered to us since we escaped, still call this place Jack's. Every time one of the natives hears me call it that, they react in the smallest way. A frown, a tiny expression of surprise. Some people work through their pain by thinking about it. Here, the trend seems to be ignoring and suppressing until the pain goes away.

I'm not judging. Please don't think that. We're at a point in our fight with mother nature and the zombies at the walls where none of us can afford to be judgmental about how others get through it. As I think about that sentence, I realize that Josh might be right--we have to think about the long term, and plan for what to do when the threats we face are lessened. I said we can't afford to be judgmental because of how bad things are...but should we become so just because the threats are gone? It's complicated to think about.

And I have work to do. Scraped knees and split knuckles won't just fix themselves! Well, I guess technically they do fix themselves, but they'll do it much better and faster if I'm there to give a helping hand. Besides, my lunch break is over.

Back when I was a nurse on the floor, passing meds and running flat-out most of the time, I rarely got a chance to stop and relax during my shifts. Lunches were unheard of. I guess in all the bad, you have to find little slivers to be thankful for, and that's one of mine. Meal breaks.

I'll write again when I have some news for you.

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