Entry 386: Point and Shoot

Travelers coming to America from West African nations are now being specially screened at major airports in an effort by Homeland Security to crack down on ebola smuggling.

If you haven’t been following the news, ebola is the new online strain of the bola virus that has been around for decades.

Initially, I was having trouble imagining how this “special screening” would go:vintage_nurse_thermometer1[1]

  • Customs: Anything to declare?
    Traveler: Just a “My Parents Went to Liberia And All I Got Was This Lousy Diarrhea” t-shirt. Oh, and this vomit bag from the plane.
    Customs: You threw up on the plane?
    Traveler: Yeah, I figure it was from the 12 Advils I took. I had a really severe headache. Owwww…
    Customs: Sir, what’s the matter? Why have you fallen to the floor and rolled into a fetal position?
    Traveler: I have terrible abdominal pain.
    Customs: Sir, I’m gonna need you to step out of the line…

What caught my attention about the new screenings was a particular line from the press release:

Five U.S. airports will begin checking temperatures of passengers from Ebola-affected West African countries, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, announced Wednesday.

The very first thought that entered my mind was that this, alone, would deter tourism vam84a[1]from the countries in question. That’s because I am of a certain age, and I still think of temperature-taking as a procedure undertaken by a mother with a jar of Vaseline. And I don’t even like taking my shoes off at airport security.

I was also imagining that this procedure would hamper the drug trade by reducing the number of places where drugs could be hidden.

But then I remembered: I’m old. They stick thermometers in other places now, like ears. However, I wondered if even that method could be implemented, given that whoever was doing the screening at the airport might be a tad reluctant to get that close to the person they were checking for ebola.

Then I read in the New York Post that the travelers’ temperatures would be taken with a “non-contact thermometer which uses an infrared laser aimed at the forehead.”

laser_dot[1]I don’t know about you, but if I was at airport security and a red point of light appeared on my forehead, I would lose whatever drugs I was hiding in traditional places, if you get my drift. I think I would rather supply my own Vaseline (in a tube weighing less than 3 ounces, of course) rather than have a red dot suddenly show up on my head.

  • TSA Agent: Sir, why are you cowering under the conveyor belt? We’re just trying to take your temperature.

On second thought, though, that’s kinda cool. The very same technology employed to cutthermometer holes in things being aimed at my head to take my temperature. What a great, James Bondish gadget, right? Probably developed by the CIA at a cost of millions of dollars, so they could tell from a distance if that Russian agent wasn’t feeling well. Based on how much our military pays for a hammer, I figured each one of these laser thermometers must cost a few thousand dollars each.

I wondered if I could find a photo of this top-secret (I assumed) spy tool. So I Googled it and found a picture rather easily.

At Amazon.

For $16.95.

Battery included.

Okay, so maybe it’s not so top-secret…or James Bondish. In fact, it looks suspiciously like aOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA digital tape measure, so maybe it’s more Martha Stewart-ish. Perhaps it not only tells you if the patient has a fever, it tells you how far away he is.

Well, anyway, it’s good to know we have this $16.95 thingy as our nation’s first line of defense against an ebola outbreak.

I wonder what the second line of defense is.

See you soon.

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