Monday, June 11, 2018

Installment 6.9: Idle hands

The drop-and-hook delivery system for the Oral Rehydration Solution (aka, bugjuice) freed up trucks and drivers to start transporting tents and prisoner to the four, new satellite camps.  The camp plans could not be simpler.

The tents were lined up at one end of a large field.  The first “tent” was a trench latrine.  Then ten sleeping tents.  Then a mess tent for chow.  Then ten sleeping tents.  Then another latrine.  Repeat.

Every morning the tents were dragged two tent lengths down the field onto fresh ground. 

Showers and laundry were done under a remnant of pivot irrigation equipment.  The cleaned clothing and bedding were spread on the hay stubble to dry in the desert sun.

Each tent was a hoop house green house) that was approximately sixty feet long by thirty feet across.  Normally, it slept two-hundred soldiers.  Now they held about fifty.  The sides of the tents were rolled up to allow air to blow through them during the day.  The tops of the hoop houses were 80% shade cloth.

Consequently, the prisoners were transported in groups of one-thousand...twenty sleeping tents of fifty POWs each.  While it was possible to reduce the number of tents, the foundational strategy of managing epidemics is to maximize separation.  There would be plenty of time to compress the “footprint” after the epidemic had been extinguished.

Youth is a remarkable thing.

There are few things that basic sanitation, sunshine, freedom from crowding and 2500 Calories a day won't fix.

The quickly rebounding health of the POWs started to pose a problem.  Idle hands are the devil's playthings.

Chad Izzo was meeting with Mick Scerba, “Akemi Tanii” and Kenny Lane.  “I will entertain any suggestions regarding ways to keep these kids busy. Ideally, it would be something that will help out Mick but anything that keeps them busy is worth considering.” Chad said.

Kenny said, “You know, part of the problem is that there are four guys for every girl in camp.  Cali dumped all of the 'incorrigables' into the military and, no surprise, most of them were guys.  Those boys are just plain goofy trying to impress the girls.”

“Is there any way we can harness that energy?  It is better to guide it rather than try to stop it.  For one thing, it is biology...and you just aren't going to win.” Akemi said.

“How about sports?” Mick suggested.  “Thats what we do with our kids.”

“That can be part of the solution.” Chad said.  “Lets figure out the sports that require the least equipment and get started on that.”

“I still ain't seeing how that engages the girls.” Kenny said.  “They already kick soccer balls around and throw frisbees but I don't see many girls watching them.”

“Maybe we can incentivize it.” Akemi said.  “What if we had tournaments and the winning tents, including...maybe even especially the girls... got a special meal if their tent won?”

“OK, that is a start.” Chad said.  “Mick, what kind of work bites you in the ass.  You know, stuff that cannot be automated.  Work that is not much fun.”

“We have a lot of issues with invasive know, plants.” Mick said.  “Things like catalpa trees, volunteer grape vines, tamarisk trees, even crayfish are a problem.  The trees suck up water and the crayfish weaken the sides of the ditches that carry water.”

Chad broke out into a smile.  This was a problem he knew about.  “The crayfish are easy.  They are delicious.  What if we sent out crews.  The crews that brought in the most pounds of invasive aliens would get a treat, maybe sweet corn...these kids all have a sweet-tooth, and they can barbecue the crayfish they catch.”

“Still ain't gonna be enough.  We are going to have almost 20,000 kids in each camp.  You ain't got enough crayfish or work to keep them all busy.” Kenny said.

Martha Cardenez had been waiting just inside the door to get Scerba's attention.  “May I make a suggestion?” she asked.

“Shore!” Kenny drawled out.  “We need all the help we can get.  We're just throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks.”

“These kids are very musical.  I think it is something they do because they are bored a lot of the time.  What if you had talent shows...contests.” Martha suggested.

“How does that exploit the boy-girl thing?” Chad asked.  Sometimes he could be a little bit thick.

Martha patiently explained, “Lots of girls are attracted to fame.  If you want, you can hand out vouchers to the winners that entitle them, and a date, to a special meal.  Maybe have the winners determined by how loud the crowd cheers.  I guarantee that you will have every girl in this camp screaming their heads off.”

“I like all of those ideas.  This boy/girl ratio is not healthy.  I can see it going one of two ways.  Girl's time and attention can either be valued and sought after, almost like in the old West...or girls can be turned into a commodity.” Chad said.

“I liked every idea I heard.  I want to do them all, at least in a small way, starting today.” Chad said.  “Just keep in mind that we want to make the girl's attention, voluntarily given, to be the prize.   Keep that in your minds as we make this happen.”

Martha cleared her throat.

“What is it?  Did I miss something?” Chad asked.

“Those kids are going to come up with ideas, too.” Martha said.  “If you are a little bit clever about it you can make these activities sound like they were their ideas.  Then the kids will get behind them and make sure they won't fail.  Most of these kids got a raw deal, they had two or three rotten bosses in a row.  I think most of them will straighten right out given half a chance.”

Mick looked over at Akemi.  “How are we going to bill this one out?” Mick asked.

“I will have to ask my husband, but I would not be surprised if there wasn't a block of account numbers dedicated eradicating 'invasive alien' species.” Akemi said.  “I think that would be close enough.”

Next Installment

1 comment:

Readers who are willing to comment make this a better blog. Civil dialog is a valuable thing.