The Bugs of Terrorism are all about us, hiding in the Christmas Trees
like horrific little bells that explode when touched, causing
happiness and joy to run for cover. A dreary thought
indeed, and one that needs great Vigilance to overcome unless
Complacency masks their threat. Find out what they are and how
to keep the Beast of Bug Terrorism from affecting your family,
neighborhood and the world.
13, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 822
Weapons Of Mass Destruction Hiding
In Starbucks' Stir Sticks?
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Dec. 13, 2003--
Being threatened by Terrorism at Starbucks on 3rd Avenue and 23rd
Street in New York City is not a pleasant way to approach the
unfolding of the Christmas Season. But that's exactly what
happened to me yesterday at approximately 5:10 p.m. on a busy Friday
threatened by Terrorism yesterday at Starbucks
started with a joyous bang and ended with a Terroristic thud.
Yesterday was our older daughter's 35th birthday.
She is now the mother of three lovely children, ranging from 7 years
to eighteen months. We have a close family relationship
and enjoy each other's company, so we all went to lunch to celebrate
Our younger daughter hosted the event at a
Mexican restaurant. She was recently married, and to see our two
lovely daughters laughing and sharing their life experiences as they
celebrate the clicking of Mother's Nature clock was fulfilling.
Parents of Vigilance live for the happiness of their children and
grandchildren. It is the nature of parenting.
My wife and I, the youngest one,
Angus, and our two daughters ate a delicious lunch.
The recent snow blizzard that covered New York City in white had been
erased by the rain a couple of days earlier but the air was brisk with
Holiday joy. The thought of Terrorism was far from my mind
at that moment. But then, it was early.
Our television was on the blink. I
arranged to swap a t.v. with our younger daughter who had an extra
one. I hauled it up the 59 steps to our East Village
apartment, replaced the new one with the old one whose sound had died,
only to find the replacement was equally wounded. The
sound from it was also bad.
I unhooked our
defunct cable box and took it to Cox Cable for a replacement
Then it dawned
on me that the problem was with the cable box, not the television.
I unhooked the cable box and, rather than wait a week for the cable
guy to come and examine the problem, elected to subway up to Cox Cable
on 23rd Street and replace the box. One quickly
learns in the City to do whatever repairs one can rather than wait for
days for a repairperson.
I got the new cable box and hoofed it
from 7th Avenue to 2nd Avenue to catch the bus back home.
You learn also in the City that you can subway up one direction and
ride back on the bus for free. Instead of spending $25 in
cabs grid locked on a Friday late afternoon, public transportation is
much cheaper and faster--a total of $2 and a savings of more than ten
times that amount.
Plus, there is the fascination with
people. New York City is known as the Crossroads of the World.
Humanity of all sizes and shapes weave in and out on the streets, from
the most beautiful of them to the most grotesque, from the richest to
the poorest, from the most radical to the most conservative, the
fattest and thinnest, the shortest and tallest.
I'm sure Saddam Hussein and Osama bin
Laden could walk around New York City for years and never be noticed,
for everyone looks like someone. Eight million faces
flooded by minute after minute from the 193 nations of the world
reduces everyone to commonality.
Still, for a writer or just
aficionado of human culture and habits, walking down the streets of
the City is a thrilling, stimulating and engaging experience.
So, I hoofed the long avenue blocks with gusto, studying faces and
walks, shapes and sizes, physiognomies and psychologies of all the
hoards block by block.
It was chilly. The northern air
blasting across the Midwest was en route again to the City. I
dressed with a light wool shirt rather than heavy coat to enjoy the
chill without being cold. Occasional blasts of the cold
wind drove me into a favorite Starbucks on the corner of 23rd and 3rd
I purchased a
I bought a regular or Grande, nothing fancy for I am a fan of the
"burnt coffee" taste Starbucks is famous for. They
burn their beans in the roasting process to give it a zing, unlike
most coffee. Since my taste buds have been dulled by
smoking, I find the smart of the coffee stimulating, and, the warmth
of it traversing down my gullet a good counter to the chill.
As I approached the
counter where you anoint your coffee with cream, sugar and cinnamon
sprinkles--if you're into that--I spied something of great concern.
It was like looking down the barrel of a Terrorist's missile launcher
as your Blackhawk helicopter is lifting off the ground.
For some strange reason
Starbucks has elected, at least in this one store, to let the
customers know where the coffee stirrers come from and what they are
made of. A computer printed sign announced that the
box of a couple of hundred eight inch stir sticks were "Made From
The message leaped out at me.
I stood back and studied it. "Why," I thought, "would anyone be
interested in what kind of wood stir sticks were made of?"
I pondered the question as I doused a couple ounces of half-and-half
in my coffee and fished out one of the wooden stir sticks from the
"I guess it is important we
know what kind of wood we're stirring our coffee with," I noted to the
man next to me dressing up his coffee. He grunted something.
People aren't used to casual conversations in the City when you are
blending your coffee with sundries.
odd," I said, hoping to elicit a response. "My brother is a wood
broker and once provided the wood for wooden arrows. Now,
restrictions on cutting down trees that make for wooden arrows has
made it virtually impossible to find the right kind of wood. The
wooden arrow business in America is defunct. I should tell
him that he should shift his efforts to making coffee stir sticks for
The man, about my age,
grunted again. Of course, I knew better than to
babble mundanely at the coffee fixing counter, but I was eager to know
if anyone else was as taken by the sign as I. Like, "Who cares
what the source of the wooden sticks are? What possible
value can there be in knowing if your stirring your coffee with beech
or Douglas Fir or maple or elm or any of the countless species of
wood? It seemed I had to know, or, at least express
my nagging question to someone over the inconsequence of information
Then my eyes traveled to the small
print below the "Made From Beech Wood" 36-point letters pasted on the
stir stick box. In smaller letters were the words:
"Made In China."
"Ah," I said with satisfaction, "I
get it. They are telling us the wooden stir sticks are
made from Beech Wood in China. They are warning us we have a
chance of getting SARS."
Starbucks' Beech Wood stir sticks from China
vaporize any and all of us
Now, the man next to me who was swirling his coffee with a stir stick
looked up at me. His eyes grew large. "Don't say that!"
He glared at me as though I had
pulled a gun and told him I was about to shoot selected patrons in the
coffee house. "Don't even joke about that."
Then he capped his coffee and
I was left alone at the coffee
fixing counter, just me and the sign: "Made From Beech Wood.
Made In China."
There sat the box of stir
sticks, all lined up like terracotta soldiers, eternal warriors,
guarding the Fifth Emperor of the Han Dynasty (157-141 BC for history
fans). I had always thought that when I die I would
like to be buried in a great tomb with terracotta Sentinels of
Vigilance protecting me from the Beast of Terror.
The Chinese were masters of
myth. They buried their Emperors in great tombs underground,
protecting them with virtual armies fashioned in pottery to protect
them in the afterlife. Once the tombs were finished, they buried
the artifacts of the Emperor and ran their horses over the plot,
disguising it so grave robbers couldn't find it. Then, all who
worked on the project were killed, forever silencing any knowledge of
the location of the tomb.
But, the stir sticks were much
more contemporary to me than mere history. I saw them as a new
form of Terrorism.
I saw the sign as a
mind clicked to the current danger of biological contamination
paranoid mind--or Vigilant one, depending on your point of
view--immediately clicked to the current danger of biological
contamination. Perhaps, I thought, the hands that
touched the Beech Wood stir sticks in China might have touched a nose
or tongue that had been infected by SARS.
Recently, I was reading
about the danger of SARS. The Chinese quashed the epidemic
in their country before the world knew of its danger. Now,
San Francisco and other ports of entry are bracing for a new surge of
the disease, including quarantine facilities where those infected will
be forced to live until the disease is under control--if at all.
My interest in the danger
of biological threat has been enhanced with the flu danger.
Recently, I got my flu shot as did my wife. Immediately
following getting the shot, the news has been full of stories of the
vaccine's scarcity. Rationing of the flu shots is being
limited to older people and young children.
Then, there was the recent
stories on Threat Matrix, a television show about Homeland Security my
wife and I enjoy. One of the episodes was about unleashing
an Ebola bug, not by Terrorists, but by accident. A
town in Texas was quarantined, but the information on the show was
accurate about the rapid spread of the virus and its deadly impact on
believes microscopic organisms might be the cause the termination
of our human race
wife, a microbiologist by profession, is well acquainted with the
danger of "bugs" and the threat of mutating viruses that can attack
the world either by human manipulation in biological weapons, or, as
part of nature's attempt to control population. She has on more than
one occasion mentioned microscopic organisms through Terrorism or by
accident might cause the termination of our human race
Adding insult to injury
was a recent episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation.
We watch the show because our grandson and granddaughter are fans of
Star Trek. We talk about the messages delivered, and
believe that human beings will one day explore the vast universe.
In the most recent
re-run, it was centered on the Cardassians, an evil empire of
fundamental Terrorist-minded beings, who were planning to use
biological warfare on planets to destroy all life and then take
command. Of course, Captain Picard and his crew of the
Enterprise thwarted their efforts, but not before seeding the fact
that ultimately, biological warfare not only kills the targets but
those who attack.
Voyager's Captain Picard hunting for weapons of biochemical
warfare weapons is captured by the Cardassians
In the 24th Century, as in the 21st, biological warfare was outlawed
among "civilized" worlds, but, uncivilized Terrorists don't conform.
Thus, the Chinese stir
sticks were more than mere pieces of wood jammed into a box awaiting
the unsuspecting to pluck one out and stir his or her coffee with what
might contain a contaminate, part of a sneeze or cough of a Chinese
laborer in some remote village not screened by the modern world's
Vigilant health care systems.
So it wasn't unusual that
the man next to me took umbrage at my comment about all of us
being infected by SARS from Chinese-made coffee stirrer sticks.
Plus, the television
newscasters reporting the dangers of the flu virus in New York City
suggest people don't touch public doorknobs or public railings. Hello!
Millions of people each day jam and butt their way onto subways and
busses, herding themselves into the cities, touching, coughing,
sneezing on one another.
Now, my day was less than
joyous. I thought of an epidemic of "Terror bugs" unleashed by
either cruel Terrorists or by Mother Nature--it didn't really matter.
Terrorism feeds on our Fears, our
Intimidation and our Complacency. It seeks to render us
all cripples to fight it, and wants us to buckle under the yoke of its
power to crawl before it.
I remember following my
witnessing of the Twin Tower Terrorist attack, I was invited to a
First Response seminar. It covered all the threats of
biological attacks on the United States and our inept systems to
contain and control such an attack.
From smallpox to anthrax, the seminar left
you weak in the knees, aware that if there was a real threat by
biological Terrorism, our nation and the world would be less than
prepared to handle it.
So, we ignore the threat.
The average citizen is not prepared to
comprehend the devastation of a virus or "bug" rendering our
civilization unfit, sick, poisoned. I tried not to
imagine the horror of it all, which is what Terrorism wants me to do.
It wants me to feel so oppressed by its forces I just shake my head as
the man next to me did, and say to myself: "Don't think about
it. It's far too much for the likes of you."
one or more of the Middle East countries are vials of dangerous
In our political climate, much has been said against President Bush by
pundits that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction found in Iraq,
and therefore, the war against that country was invalid, perhaps in
some camps, illegal.
I cannot imagine that to be true.
Somewhere, in the sands of Iraq, or, moved
to other Terror-harboring nations, are vials of dangerous bugs waiting
for some execution of their contents in some place to prove the power
of Terrorism once again.
While the stir sticks may only be a comma in the
on-going saga of biological warfare, there is an exclamation point out
there waiting to dropped at the end of the world Terrorism!
I believe that people obsessed with hate
and hostility will go to any lengths to prove their point, even when
it means risking their own lives. What difference is there in a
suicide bomber killing himself or herself to a mad group unleashing a
Fight the Bugs
Ultimately, I believe there are Weapons of
Mass Destruction waiting somewhere. I hope the great mass
of humanity doesn't wash away the belief in them, or beat their chests
in joy that we didn't find any in hopes that might get them a vote in
the next election.
Those weapons of mass destruction
just might be in the next coffee stir stick.
The Bugs of Terrorism Live.
Fight them. Take the Pledge of Vigilance today. Be ready
for anything, counting on nothing.